Holidays

Happy New Year!

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2016 is here! Woo-hoo!

I (like many other people in the world) am awful at New Year’s resolutions, which is funny because I love lists and I love improving myself and my life. Maybe it’s because I write goals so often and make lists regularly — new year’s resolutions just start to feel like this “big deal” version of things I already do pretty consistently. And then I end up building them up so much that it only leads to disaster.

So here is my anti-resolution list: things I do regularly or have been meaning to do. It’s basically a compilation of all the goals I’ve set or started or planned to start throughout the year. Let’s not call them resolutions, though.

  1. Meditate daily
  2. Exercise at least three times a week (which is three times more than I currently do)
  3. Keep a work log
  4. Learn Italian
  5. Take a class for fun
  6. Pray often
  7. Consistently write in my five minute journal
  8. Say thank you every day
  9. Cook a slow cooker meal at least once per month
  10. Learn a new recipe every other week
  11. Always be reading a book
  12. Simplify the amount of stuff I have and buy
  13. Don’t complain
  14. Speak up
  15. Read every day
  16. Blog regularly
  17. Say I love you often
  18. Play ukulele every week
  19. Listen to podcasts daily
  20. Never leave dishes in the sink overnight
  21. Text my parents every day
  22. Say yes to family
  23. Keep in touch
  24. Volunteer
  25. Don’t be afraid of adventure

 

New Year’s Traditions

2015 flewwww by. And it was a good one.

I love the idea of a new year for a lot of reasons: I like the number one. I like fresh starts. I like new beginnings. I like reflecting. This has somehow become one of my favorite holidays, and I think it’s primarily because a few year-end traditions I’ve come up with. And no, they do not involve getting drunk and blacking out. Here are my favorite new year’s traditions that I’ve done for the past couple of years.

1. Eat at a Michelin rated restaurant.
This tradition started as an accident, but now I always look forward to it. A few years ago when I lived in Chicago, I saw an article for next year’s Michelin starred restaurants and spontaneously made a reservation at Blackbird. It was a couple of days before the new year started, and the boyfriend (now husband) and I had the most amazing meal. And so began an annual tradition. I love the thought of saving the best meal of the year for the very end. It’s just the perfect way to cap off another year because you can never go wrong with good food.

We went to Longman & Eagle last night so the tradition lives on!

2. Do laundry. All laundry.
One of many things in my life that I got from my mama. I always remember my mom frantically loading and unloading the washer and dryer in the days leading up to the new year (including new year’s eve, of course). Now that I’m out on my own, I’ve decided to follow in my mom’s footsteps and wash anything and everything that can be washed before the clock strikes midnight. Dryer noises are murmuring in the background as we speak. 2016 can’t start without fresh sheets.

3. Write a letter to myself.
This is my favorite tradition for the new year, maybe even out of all holiday traditions I’ve ever had. I started doing this awhile ago, but I’d have to some serious digging to figure out exactly when. Every year on December 31, I write a letter to myself. It can be about anything and everything, and often is. It’s a reflection about the year and who I am in that moment of time, and it’s probably the most honest I ever am with myself. Then I seal it in an envelope, not to be opened until January 1st of the following year (not the next day…). It is always a surprising, humbling, and inspiring experience for me to read those letters on the first day of each year. I’m excited to see what’s in store tomorrow as I read last year’s letter.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year, full of adventure and love and everything good in life.

 

Zoo Lights

To get into the  holiday spirit, I decided we should do something festive each weekend in December. This past weekend we headed downtown to Lincoln Park Zoo for our first ever Zoo Lights.

I love the zoo because a) it’s free and b) animals, duh. Zoo Lights, however, was a bit of a different experience than your typical summertime zoo outing. 

The weather was unseasonably warm for a December night in Chicago, so it seemed like everyone had the same idea as us. We headed to the city around six and parking was a nightmare, so we sucked it up and paid the ridiculous $25 lot fee for the sake of our friend’s baby.

Once inside, it was what I expected: the zoo. With lights. Glowing animals and trees everywhere. Real animals? Not so easy to find. It did do its job to put me in the holiday mood though. Here are some pics so you can join me in the Christmas spirit:

   
    
 

Friendsgiving

 

DIY banner made with my beloved Silhouette Portrait

Last night we hosted a Friendsgiving with our close group of friends and it was the perfect way to round out this very thankful weekend. We rented out the conference room in our building and combined three tables to seat 20 guests. I tried to keep the planning process relatively stress free with quick and cute decorations and simple recipes as our potluck contribution. While the day-of got a little hectic with a scramble for chairs and an inevitably messy kitchen, in the end, everything turned out well. We spent the night sipping spiked cider and laughing uncontrollably during games of “Thumper” and “Cheers to the Governor,” all with good company.

 

Fell in love with these turkey napkins from Target. Also, a quick peek of the mini fall centerpieces I put together

 

The meat and cheese platter and veggie tray stayed out all night for people to snack on

 

Our little bar — complete with sparkling cranberry punch and spiced cider (rum optional)

Party details:

Decor

  • DIY Silhouette banner
  • Burlap table runners (Target, $3)
  • Fall leaves table runner (Homegoods)
  • Alstromeria and mums floral arrangements

Food and Drinks 

It was potluck style, but here is what I contributed and the recipes I used:

  • Apple, Cranberry, Walnut Salad – via Creme de la Crumb
  • Grape Jelly Meatballs – easy recipe: grape jelly + chili sauce + frozen meatballs in a slow cooker
  • Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates – via Give Me Some Oven
  • Mac and Cheese – via That Which Nourishes
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts – easy recipe: Brussels sprouts + olive oil + salt and pepper
  • Sparkling Cranberry Punch – easy recipe: sparkling wine + cranberry juice + Sprite + cranberries

Extras

  • Instead of plain old plastic utensils, we used a fancier faux silver version (similar here). It added a touch of class to the occasion without extra dishes to wash
  • I keep a collection of paper straws year-round. Brown and yellow ones made an appearance to add to the fall colored decor

Apologize for the horrible quality pictures — lighting was not the best in there.

happy thanksgiving!

 

This morning’s OOTD at our extra muddy annual family football game

 
Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays. I am grateful every day, but I appreciate having a day dedicated to celebrating that thankfulness. Spending the day with football, family and food, of course. So very thankful for all of the blessings in my life. Have a happy thanksgiving!