Weekend Reading

December 26, 2014

I had a great Christmas yesterday and am headed for a quick vacation with my family and some friends today. My family has usually gone away after Christmas and it's always fun to have something to look forward to after all the presents are opened.

Here are some interesting things I came across this week:

{ via Refinery29 }

1. The Science of Generosity -- Why It Feels So Good to Give There's a great infographic explaining statistics on why generosity produces such a positive physiological reaction for us, even more so than getting. I always find more joy in giving things than getting things.

2. 2014 in Pictures I plan to take a look through this slideshow over the weekend at some point. I think it's important to reflect on the world events, it always helps put things into perspective.

{ via Buzzfeed }

3. Hospitals Send Christmas Babies Home In Stockings My sister and I thought this was so adorable.



December 25, 2014

Our rainy Christmas Eve

I love that the holidays are one of the very few times that people are able to gather with loved ones and just enjoy being together. The idea of the holidays being a time of togetherness has become more apparent to me since being away to college. It's such a luxury to have nothing to except relax and spend time with those you love.

Festive holiday nails and a hot drink.

Hope you enjoy your day!

Christmas Eve Traditions

December 24, 2014

I think traditions are what make the holiday season so much fun. My family has special Christmas decorations that we put up every year that carry so many memories. Here are some of our other holiday traditions that help celebrate the season:

1. Open one present on Christmas Eve This was so exciting for my sister and I when we were little, and it's still fun to pick out a small gift, usually from relatives, to open on the night of Christmas Eve.

2. Christmas Eve service My mom, sister, and I always dress up and attend our church's Christmas Eve service. Our favorite part is when they turn all the lights off in the sanctuary, pass out candles, and sing "Silent Night" before we all leave.

3. Christmas Eve "nest" My sister and I make a big "nest" of all kinds of pillows and blankets to sleep in. We usually watch our favorite Christmas movie "The Holiday." It's so cozy and so fun to wake up together on Christmas morning.

4. Christmas morning cinnamon rolls My mom makes really good cinnamon rolls for Christmas mornings. My sister and I go into the living room and open our stockings and some presents, then we all eat cinnamon rolls together before opening the rest of the presents.

5. Watch old holiday movies My mom and dad love old movies from the 40s so I've grown up with film classics from that era. We usually watch "White Christmas" and "Christmas in Connecticut."

Here are all of my Christmas posts this year if you'd like to take a look.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Christmas Decor

December 23, 2014

My family and I had such a struggle finding a Christmas tree this year. We live in a tiny town, but we still figured we'd be able to find a tree -- we live in the Pine Tree State, after all! We just got ours on Saturday night after looking all around since my sister and I got home on Thursday.

We finally got our tree up and decorated on Sunday night, and it's been nice that our house finally feels like Christmas! 

Here are some of my favorite parts of our Christmas decorations:

We decorated our piano with some Christmassy figures, a holiday coffee table book, and a vintage piano songbook from the classic "White Christmas" film. The white lights are so cozy and festive.

My family has never been the type to do a perfectly coordinated tree. It's filled with all kinds of miscellaneous ornaments, old and new, of all different types. My sister and I always share so many memories when we look through the ornaments.

This might be my favorite of all our decorations. Every year, we set up a snowy village on top of a dish cabinet, and my sister and I hang out stockings on the knobs since we don't have a mantle. My sister and I used to spend hours making up stories about the village and playing with all the little figurines. I love all the memories that come with Christmas decor traditions!


5 Ways to Get In the Christmas Spirit

December 22, 2014

I always hate the feeling the day after Christmas when you realize all the holiday fun is over and the festive spirit is dying down. With Christmas just four days away, I'm determined to make the most of the holiday season's final days.

Other than the obvious (watching Christmas movies and listening to holiday songs), here are some things that help me get in the spirit:

1. Bake holiday treats Earlier this month, my mom and I made Christmas cookies (we made this recipewhile listening to holiday music and it really got me in the spirit! I think this recipe would be fun and I had delicious gingerbread pancakes the other day at my favorite breakfast place and would love to recreate them at home.

2. Go on a Christmas lights crawl I've heard of this tradition but never officially partaken myself (although I did see the amazing tree light show above!). It would be so fun to drive around listening to Christmas music and looking at all the festive lights on houses and through downtowns.

{ image via }

3. Make your house smell like Christmas I love this idea to fill your house with a cozy, festive scent naturally.

{ image via }

4. Help those in need My family and I used to participate in a program where we would be assigned a family in need and purchase some items from each family member's Christmas list. It was so exciting to pick out gifts that would make this family happy in the holiday season, and it's one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Some easier and less expensive options are to donate nonperishable goods to your local food pantry or donate unused clothing and toys to Goodwill.

{ image via

5. See a holiday show I always find going to shows is so much more fun than I expect. It doesn't have to be expensive -- see a local dance company perform "The Nutcracker" or a nearby theatre group's production of "A Christmas Carol." I think live shows are undervalued these days and they can be a great way to get in the holiday mood.


Weekend Reading

December 19, 2014

After a stressful week of studying and exams, I'm so relieved to be home for a month!

Here are some things I found interesting this week:

1. New York State Bans Fracking I got legitimately excited when I heard this news. I had just finished writing a 7 page paper on fracking, so it was definitely timely! This sets such a positive precedent for recognizing the health risks of fracking.

2. On the Vernacular of Good vs. Bad, Us vs. Them, In vs. Out A very articulate and interesting read about the boxes and labels that we place ourselves and others in these days, particularly in the presence of social media.

{ via Take A Bite }

3. Where I Want To Be Loved this whole idea and the post as well. The images really take you away! Every so often I come across a picture on Pinterest or somewhere that makes me think how much I'd like to be there.

4. The Mountain video I came across this video on Facebook and thought it was really beautiful. A man filmed the sky and some scenes of nature at Spain's highest mountain, El Teide. Really makes you appreciate our beautiful planet.


Favorite Things I Did This Semester

December 17, 2014

Tomorrow I have my last final and head home for Christmas break. I can't believe that my first semester of college is over! 

I decided to reflect on some of my favorite things that happened this semester:

1. NYC Trip In October, I visited my friend in New York City for three days. It was my first time going and I had so much fun. I love thinking back on all the things I did there. Hopefully I can go back when it warms up a little!

2. Danced with Houston ballet The Houston Ballet II came to  perform at my school back in September and I took a master class with some dancers and the ballet master. It was such a great opportunity and cool thing to do!

3. Wrote for the newspaper This was the one thing that I chose to get involved with this year and I'm so glad that I did. It's really pushed me -- from showing up to the meetings alone to having to approach people when covering events to interviewing professors, it's definitely out of my comfort zone sometimes! But I think that's what makes it so special to me. I also got my article published on the front page of a recent paper, so that was definitely a cool moment!

4. Saw the Boston Ballet perform "Swan Lake" My mom and I have seen the Boston Ballet once before (we saw "Cinderella" last spring), but "Swan Lake" was really incredible. It's so fun that both my mom and I both enjoy going to the ballet and we both agreed that this production was breathtaking.

5. Started a blog I started writing a blog because I really craved a creative outlet in the midst of all the schoolwork. I also found myself with a lot of downtime at college and didn't want to spend it all watching Netflix! I've really enjoyed it, even more than I thought I would, and I love that my freshman year of college (and hopefully all my college years) will be documented.


Unique Gift Ideas

December 16, 2014

With just over a week until Christmas, I've been trying to finalize my gifts for everyone. 

I came up with some less common ideas if you're stuck on something to get:

1. Paper goods I've been really into paper goods lately. I think they're so bright and fun and there's definitely something for everyone, from prints to stationary to calendars. I picked up these 1Canoe2 state prints at one of my favorite stores this weekend.

Some favorites: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

2. Homemade treats This is an inexpensive but thoughtful gift. I think everyone appreciates a sweet treat, especially if it's homemade! I think making caramel apples could be fun. You could also keep it simple with cookies. My friend makes the best granola and sends it out in mason jars with a gift tag (love this free printable for gift tags!).

Some ideas: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

3. Restaurant gift cards My family loves to eat out at restaurants, especially my dad. This year, I'm choosing 3 or 4 restaurants around my school that look especially good. I'm grabbing $10 gift certificates for each one, so every time my parents are in town, we can go to a different place and I'll pick up part of the bill!

4. Books These are always a great gift and not too hard to pick out. For someone you don't know as well, grab one of this year's bestsellers, and if you know their tastes a little more, it's fun to spend some time in a bookstore looking for something they would like! This year I'm asking for Wild and Not That Kind of Girl, both books that have been talked about a lot this year and I've been curious to read.

Some favorites: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

5. A planned day Sometimes an experience is the best gift. Plan out a day for you and your significant other, you and your friend, or even you and your parents (they would probably love that!). This will give you and the other person something fun to look forward to beyond Christmas.

Some ideas: 1 | 2 (lots in each post!)

6. Spotify, Netflix, etc. This year I am asking for Netflix so I can stop using my friends'. I also am considering signing my dad up for Spotify, a great music-streaming service. They have an amazing deal going on until December 31 -- 3 months of membership for only 99 cents! I think membership to Spotify, Netflix, or any internet service like that (my mom might like Audible) is one of those gifts that's so useful but also exciting.

And a bonus idea... Charitable gifts are always something to keep in mind. My family used to "purchase an animal" through Heifer International to give to a community in need. The animal then provides the community not just with a supply of food, but also a reliable income and a world of new opportunities.

Another organization that provides resources to underprivileged communities is Oxfam. You can buy everything from a chicken to a health checkup to support programs.

Any friend or family member would surely be honored if you purchased a charitable gift in their name.

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