December 29, 2017

A Classy Recap

Sometimes, I look at this blog and can't believe I've been doing this for as long as I have. But the truth is, I love it still. I love looking back and seeing what I was writing about last year and the year before. I've made such good friends through this internet space, gotten the best recommendations, figured out things I didn't think I'd ever learn how to do and made a few pennies.

I figured I'd give a little recap of this space as well. (Again, this might be me trying to just keep focusing on as much positive as I can.)

Top 9 from Instagram (follow me here):

Top Posts:

Our Minnesota Bucket List - I have a lot of work to do to add things and clean this up, but I'm pretty excited about making all of these happen.

Insert Hygge Here - I love this concept so much so I wanted to share it. The hashtag didn't really take off too much, but I keep using it. If you haven't figured out how to embrace this yet, get on board.

Safer Beauty Favorites - I am almost a full year into my journey of being a Beautycounter consultant and I love it. Sharing products that I love AND that are safe to use is amazing. I've learned so much about scary cosmetic and personal care stories. Please do the research for yourselves and your families.

Things I've Bought Myself - Gift guides get overwhelming during the holiday season, so this year I just shared things that I have treated myself too and would recommend for others.

Bach Bash in Asheville - This got lots of clicks this year too. It's kind of surprising because I definitely could've laid it out a little more like a guide and less like a recap, but that didn't feel right. It was such a fun weekend. 

And my top tweets (because the analytics page of Twitter is so much fun):

And then when Adrian Grenier (you know, my neighbor) saw my tweet and so did his followers

So there it is. The clear way to win Twitter is pasta, chick flicks and politics. Good thing those are a few of my favorite things.

My parting gift is this Instagram account which you should follow because here's the awesome stuff posted there (plus it's a shared account with my husband.)

December 28, 2017

2017 Favorites: Part 3

Back again for the second half of the year.

Summer nights in Brooklyn were loud. People were outside playing games, enjoying cocktails and just out strolling the neighborhood. I loved sitting on our rooftop on the bench that someone left up there, watching the sunset and just observing people. I never got a picture, but the best nights were when the building across the street hosted their musician friends that would play on their rooftop and it just carried.

The Dispatch concert at Forest Hills Stadium was FANTASTIC. The band was great, the venue was amazing and the weather was perfection. If you live in NYC, you HAVE to see a concert here. There's great food, great prices and great craft beers.

Working from home. I'm planning on writing a little more about our transition back to MN, but the worst thing has been the transition back to an office. I miss working in comfortable clothes and getting so much stuff done and then having happy hour ice cream time at 4 every day instead of having to commute home.

My number one favorite moment of 2017 was a random Friday night in August. We went out for drinks with friends in FiDi. It was late when we left the bar and we decided to walk part of the way home because a subway shutdown. That was the best part about NYC was the walkability. It was a few miles to our apartment, so we set off. Once we got onto the Brooklyn Bridge, it was empty and there was a tiny bit of rain falling. We took our time taking in the view and enjoying the quiet. I've never seen the bridge without a thousand people on it, so this was pretty incredible. It started pouring when we were about 20 feet from the stairs and we were able to grab an Uber. So worth it.

Another trip to the US Open, but this year we added my husband and godfather to the mix. We ate good food, drank champagne and watched some amazing athletes. I'm so glad my dad had this idea last year. I hope we make it to another tournament in the near future because they are so fun in person.

Even though Quincy was with us in Minnesota, we were all over the place trying to find a place to live and getting settled, so this picture feels so final to me. We were saying goodbye to our apartment, but it was the last place that our family of four was really all together, healthy and happy. And I made it through writing that sentence without crying, so that's a win.

This is a photo of Minnehaha Falls which is near our new house. We took Lola for a walk there shortly after putting Quincy down. We all needed some fresh air and some outside time. This area is so beautiful and I'm looking forward to warmer weather so we can get out and explore more of the Twin Cities.

And then there was our first game at US Bank Stadium. This place is AWESOME. They are hosting the Super Bowl here this year and I can't wait for all the fun things happening in town that week. Plus, the Vikings are doing great right now, so that's been even more fun to be around for.

And last, but not least...

Christmas with the family. We haven't done this for a few years, so this was a treat. We made gingerbread houses, went sledding and played in the snow, played some dice games, had a big dinner and then opened presents one at a time (which is my favorite.) Christmas Day, we went to my grandma's with my side of the family and had brunch and hung out. It was really nice to have two low key days with the family.

2017 had some real rough spots for us, but it is so important for me to flip the situations as much as possible to the positive - especially since I've done my fair share of complaining already this year. We have some amazing things planned already for 2018 and I couldn't be more excited for a clean slate.

Happy New Year! Hope you are ringing in the new year with good people. good food and good intentions.

December 27, 2017

2017 Favorites: Part 2

Last year, I picked a few photos that stood out to me as moments I wanted to remember from the year. I summarized them in this one and this one. I figured I'd do that again this year.

I marched with the people of New York that day after the inauguration. I was still in disbelief about what was going on, but that day, I shed tears. I had so many emotions. I was surrounded by so many incredible people. That's something you just can't forget, nor do you ever want to. This wasn't the first march of the year for me, but it will be the most memorable.

We got cozy as much as possible. I remember snowy days in January and February where we would put boots on the dogs, walk them through the neighborhood picking up dinner at Mekelburg's on our way home and then we'd put comfy pajamas on and curl up on the couch.

These are the snowy days in Clinton Hill I was referring to. It was just always beautiful. Even with the crazy man who liked to moon people early in the morning.

We spent a snowy weekend near Hunter with friends and it was magical. There was a hot fire, tacos, beers and fierce debates about politics (and maybe more beer.) We got our skis underneath us and enjoyed some great conditions plus we escaped the city for a few days.

There isn't one specific walk with these two, but it was every walk. We could slowly stroll blocks of brownstones, shops and parks. Quincy knew where all the good squirrel trees were. We had celebrity encounters, got to know our neighborhood dogs and spent more time outside than we had in any other place we've lived. I miss this so much.

The day the trees exploded over night was another favorite. I walked around all day with my phone out talking millions of pictures, but that first morning walk with Q was the best. The sun was coming up and you could see the flowers that appeared overnight.

The night before Andy & Meredith's wedding, we got to join their families to celebrate. They had rented a gorgeous apartment in Soho with views and lots of space to run around. There really isn't any better time to meet friends' families than a wedding weekend. We did so many champagne toasts that weekend. It was wonderful.

It was hard to pick a favorite moment from our Europe trip, but then when I really thought about it. It was this moment. We had just gotten our first glimpse of the Alps, we were standing on the side of a mountain looking at this magical castle and our trip had really only just begun. It was just pure happiness.

Stop back tomorrow to see the remainder of my favorite moments of 2017.

December 26, 2017

2017 Favorites: Part 1

As the year winds down, I love reading all the recaps. Yes, this year sucked for lots of reasons, but there were some bright spots. I wanted to share some of mine this year (I'm giving you a top five, but not in order.)

Books - Fiction

1. The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
2. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Books - Non Fiction

1. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
2. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming
3. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
4. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

TV Shows/Movies

1. Game of Thrones - the most recent season. Every Sunday night this summer, we turned off all the lights in our apartment and light our Winterfell candle. I had to remind myself to breath... so many times.
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi - I loved it. I don't get why so many "fans" hated it, but I thought it was awesome.
3. Beauty and the Beast - This was my favorite Disney movie when I was younger because I wanted a giant room of books. I really liked this movie.
4. Shameless - We jumped on board with this show late last year and watched the entire series in early 2017. I love every character for different reasons, but it's great.
5. SNL - I'm 100% back on board with the last few seasons of SNL. I think the most recent presidential election gave them so much material and I need that laugh every week. We use Hulu to watch it every Sunday morning.
Honorable mention - TGIF shows on Hulu. We have been watching episodes of Family Matters for the last few months and I'm not mad about it. I love that they have brought all these shows back.

Self Love Items

1. Countermatch Collection from Beautycounter (plus they have 30% off tons of stuff this week if you use the promo code WINTERSALE). Now that winter weather has arrived, my skin is dry and I absolutely love this stuff.
2. Good veg friendly cookbooks. I'm diving into this one first thing in the new year. We've almost finished cooking our way through this easy and beautiful book. I also just purchased this one because I love the Instagram account she runs and I needed to try some of her creations myself.
3. A good blender for smoothies and soup and anything else you would use a blender for. We picked out this Ninja blender after lots of research and we use it almost every day.
4. Hygge. You can read my full post here, but we have been working to be really aware of this word and making sure it's part of our every day life. The concept is wonderful (especially in the winter.)
5. The EWG app. I've been continuing my journey of getting rid of bad chemicals in our daily routines and it takes time because I want to do my research on products, but this app makes decision making at the store a lot easier. If you haven't downloaded it yet, you should.


Spotify put this together for me and I'm so thankful, because I've been listening to this playlist for the last week and still loving almost all of these songs.

That's a pretty long round up, so I'm stopping here. I'll share a more personal recap this week to round out this year before we head off to the mountains. Hope you are reading this from your couch in your pajamas. When this goes live, I'll be in my office eating leftovers.

December 21, 2017

My Winter Goals

We made it to the shortest day of the year. Things can only get brighter from here... until June.

Having a seasonal bucket list seems weird since I have no intention on "kicking the bucket" this season, but a to-do list sounds weird too. I'm calling them goals this time around and we will see how that feels once we get to the next one of these.

We did pretty good with our Autumn wish list. We bought bicycles, went to a few breweries, scheduled some grandparent time, saw a Vikings game at US Bank Stadium and had a reunion with half our sweatpant squad (we are heading to visit the rest next weekend.) Here are some goals for this winter:

Visit the Winter Carnival in St. Paul. They are building an Ice Castle this year and I can't wait. Plus, we will need to search for the medallion. I feel like this really is our year to find it and win the big prize. If you've big around here for a while, you might remember the rants about this grown up treasure hunt years ago.

Host our first east coast guests (and hopefully not our last.) We are determined to show off the Twin Cities in all their glory.

Party like it's 1999 when the Super Bowl is here. There are Prince tribute concerts, tons of amazing ice sculptures and events going on, plus there's a big old football game which means all the cheese dip and great commercials. Game on.

Ski the Rockies. This is kind of cheating because we already have the trips booked, but I want to make sure I give myself credit. If you've ever skied in the Denver area, let me know what your favorite resort is. We are staying with friends about 30 minutes west of Denver and are hoping to get in at least one ski day.

Get chairs for our desks. It is the only area that is not finished and because we don't have those, we don't use our desks so mine is just collecting things. It's a disaster area.

Come up with new recipes to eat like a Minnesotan. I read this article from Mpls/St. Paul Magazine and decided I'm going to make some recipes of my own that fit into each category. I'll work on sharing them here - probably every other week or so. If you have any ideas of vegetarian options for these, send them my way.

Visit a new State Park. We got our year long pass and I want to have an excuse to get outside this winter and explore a new park.

Another sugar break. We did a reset early last year (you can read my thoughts here) and while I don't think we'll do the exact same detox, we will be trying something to reset for the new year. We got a couple new cookbooks that have some new veggie recipes.

All the fun in the snow. I want to go sledding, snow shoeing and ice skating. I'm determined to have fun outside even in the frigid temps. I'm hoping I get some new long underwear to survive this winter. There are so many fun places on our Minnesota Bucket List that I'm sure we will be able to come up with some ideas.

Hope you're enjoying a cozy night with good pajamas and a book or movie. We are watching Santa Clause and testing our homemade Irish Creme. Days get longer starting tomorrow and it's Christmas.

December 19, 2017

Milan, Italy

I just watched the Real Housewives of New Jersey episode where they go to Milan. I was super excited because I wanted to see the parts of the city we should visit next time we are there. Instead, I saw only the places we visited in the five hours we were in the city and not trying to sleep in our hotel or get from the train station to our hotel. I'm sure there's more to see.

This is the only part of the trip I would do differently. We took the train from the quiet, car-free, mountain town of Zermatt directly to Milan. We crossed through the Italian Alps, passed by Lake Maggiore and then got off the train right smack in the middle of Milan. It was hot, busy and we didn't brush up on any Italian. 

We didn't pack the right clothes, had no idea what to do or see there and our hotel was also home to a pretty popular night club. This was a recipe for anxiety on our last night. We were just pretty ready to go home. 

We did manage to get a few hours of walking there and it left me wanting to return. We got a tiny taste of Italy - some good food, a beautiful cathedral and some great history. Here are the few photos we did manage to get in Milan.

What did we miss? Have you been to Milan? Who is watching RHONJ this year?

December 18, 2017

Good Decisions Lately

It's Monday night and time for a random stream of thoughts. Since things get a little crazy this time of year, I figured I'd share some of the good decisions I've made recently. Mostly to remind myself in the future, but maybe something will help you this week.

Getting back to NYC. I knew it would be painful to be away from NYC on Christmas this year, so my awesome husband said we should just go back. We found decent flights and had a weekend seeing as much as possible (including their first snow of the year.)

Timers for lights. Getting home from work after dark is lame, but when your Christmas lights are already on - it makes it a little better.

Trader Joe's trip... while hungry. Normally, the grocery store is a bad idea, but TJ's is different. There isn't one too close to our house, so I wanted to go a little overboard on the stuff that I can stock in the pantry and the freezer. All the gorgonzola gnocchi. Because some nights, nobody in this house wants to do more than stick a bowl in the microwave.

Loose fitting work shirts. (see above) This time of year, I definitely don't like saying no to all the seasonal goodies. Loft had everything I needed (per usual) and my favorites are this one and this one.

No gifts for the kiddos. We have the best nieces and nephew ever, but holy smokes do kids get a ton of gifts every year for Christmas. We are trying something new this year and only gifting them a picture frame. Along with that, we are taking them each somewhere on their own (depending on what they love to do) and having an "experience." We had our first one Friday night when we took the oldest to see Annie. It was so fun to have a whole night to hang out. It's so much more fun for us to spend money on fun times than toys.

2 for 1's. We went to brunch Saturday with friends. I wanted a Bloody Mary, but they had 2 for 1's on mimosas. Saved money and ended up with two brunch drinks instead of one. Just budget friendly.

Made vacation plans. What happens the day after your return from a weekend away? You plan another weekend getaway. We got back from New York midweek and had dinner with a couple of our favorites and made a ski weekend plan. Now we have our first few months of 2018 booked up and I'm so excited. We've got two cold weather sports adventure and one beach trip.

Bought this $5 item for my office. It brightens everything up and I love it.

Seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We waited until Sunday night because the hype of these movies on opening nights is overwhelming. I loved the movie. We watched the original trilogy and the Force Awakens over the last few months, so everything was fresh. I thought it was great and I don't get why people are so divided on it.

I have seven days left of work this year and made the best decision of taking the first week of the new year off. I'm pumped. Until then, loose clothing, fun times with the family and all the Christmas lights. Make good choices.

December 12, 2017

The Best Gift Sets

Tomorrow is the last day to get an order in to receive by Christmas with regular ground shipping with Beautycounter. It's such an easy thing to gift people because it helps introduce them to a new company that has an awesome mission and great products. They are all useful and healthy, but also feel a little fancy. Here are a few of my favorite gift sets (plus the best values):

1. The Daily Detox Set $52 - Save $20 by purchasing the charcoal bar and charcoal mask in one set. These are definitely two of the most popular items within my friend circle. It absorbs oil and unclogs pores. I love the mask because you can see it working. Plus, you save money getting this gift set - so it's a good one to buy for yourself.

2. Winter Glow Body Duo $55 - This set is a $79 value. It comes with two of my winter must haves. The sugar scrub makes your skin super soft and I keep that body butter in multiple rooms in the house so there's always one close. My skin gets so dry in the winter, but these two items (along with my favorite body oil) are super helpful.

3. Citrus Mimosa Hand Duo $39 - This set has a full size hand cream and hand wash ($56 value) and is a perfect gift for teachers, neighbors or hosts during the holiday season. 

4. Color Intense Lip Set $88 - This is the best value out there. Normally, you would pay $150 for these items because they are $30 each, so this set is a great deal and will probably sell out soon. 

I'm almost at the one year mark of working with Beautycounter. I told myself I'd give it a year and see what I thought and I love it way more now than I did in January. If you're interested in joining, there's some really awesome benefits for those that sign up by the end of the year. Let me know if you want me to email you more info or you can check it out here.

I still have a little shopping to do tonight on the website and this weekend at some holiday markets, but we are keeping it pretty simple. If you check back later this week, I'm going to do an old fashioned giveaway for some Beautycounter products - comment below if there's something you've been wanting to try and maybe I'll include that with the prize. 

Happy Shopping!

The Bookshelf: Vol 15

I've been trying to catch up on my reading goal for the year. At this point, I have to finish another 9 books by the end of the year. I'm going to try my best. Hopefully, I'll finish another book before this even posts (since I'm writing it before I leave town.) Here is a round up of the books I've read since my last update.

Night by Elie Wiesel (Goodreads/Amazon) - I read this book in high school and possibly again in college, but it had been over 10 years. It's intense and raw. It is definitely something everyone should read, but you need to be prepared.

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (Goodreads/Amazon) - This would have been a perfect read next to a pool somewhere in the Bahamas. It's a little cheesy and you can see where it's heading, but like a good romantic comedy, it is an easy read and it's entertaining. Plus, I have a new love of the tennis world after attending the US Open so that made the story a little more fun for me.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (Goodreads/Amazon) - I liked this book. It wasn't my favorite, but it kept my attention and I liked the characters, but I just didn't love the book. I was OK.

Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino (Goodreads/Amazon) - This isn't a book I normally would have picked up, but I started with a cup of coffee last Saturday and three hours later, I had finished it. I just kept turning pages. Looking back, I can't figure out what it was that drew me in, but I really liked it and needed to just finish it and now how it ended. I would recommend this for a plane ride or a cozy winter night. It's a quick read and I thought it was good. I'm thinking about checking out more books by her.

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (Goodreads/Amazon) - My wonderful sister in law recommended this book to me. I follow Jen Hatmaker on Twitter and I usually find myself laughing or nodding when she tweets. Picking up this book, I felt the same way about 70% of the time. I'm not a religious person at all, so some of the church stuff she talked about was a little much for me. That said, she had a chapter about Poverty Tourism. I found myself agreeing to all of it, but especially her comment about "the world is so done being painted by the American Church." She spends time talking about mission trips and how lots of people want to do good, but end up just painting a school that doesn't need painting. Her belief is that anytime the rich and poor are combined, we should listen to whoever has the least power. I 100% agree with that. I'd read more of her stuff and just maybe skim over the Jesus stuff.

And my favorite of this bunch:

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco (Goodreads/Amazon) - Any friend of Barack Obama is a friend of mine. Well, maybe not, but I loved this book. I felt like I got to be an insider in the White House during his presidency. Even more than that, I felt like some of my experiences in the workplace are normal. She gives some good advice and shares the most important lessons she's learned. I would definitely recommend this - I will be purchasing it for a few people for the holidays.

So, let's hope that I've finished at least one more book by the time you're reading this or I'll have no shot in meeting my goal for the year. Any quick reads that you loved? Are you going to hit your yearly goal?

Go check out Steph and Jana's link up for more awesome book recaps.

Life According to Steph

December 8, 2017

5 Things I'm Thinking About Today

We have made it to Friday. It has been a crazy week. I've called my senators this week about the tax bill, signed petitions about Utah, caught up on my Real Housewives and checked out a new neighborhood dive bar. This is normal life now. Here are the main 5 things on my mind today:

Cold. We had a 40 degree temperature swing on Monday and now it's just plain cold. My body isn't used to this anymore so I'm a big baby. I have Airborne and cold medicine on repeat. We bought a humidifier and I'm still stocking up on hats, mittens and long underwear.

Beautycounter. It's been almost a year since I signed on to be a consultant for Beautycounter. I didn't know how I was going to feel, but it's pretty organic for me to talk about the things that I love. They are such an awesome growing company and I love getting the monthly updates on what the CEO is fighting for in Washington. If you've ever thought about signing up for something like this, I would recommend it. You get back what you put into it. If you've never heard of this company, I have more info on the right side of the page or you can click here. I'm going to do an old fashioned giveaway next week for some free product too.

Silence breakers. They are the Time 2017 Person of the Year. The video features some bad ass women that have shared their personal experiences this year. There has been so much bullshit for so long and I'm glad it's now a daily conversation. There is still so far to go. I think I nodded more during the SNL skit below than I have in a while.

Work. Every day gets busier and busier. Looking forward to next year, I'm excited and overwhelmed about work all at the same time. It's like you check one thing off the list as you add five more to it. I will say that I love the people I work with. Of course, my husband is pretty awesome and his desk is less than 25 feet from mine, but the more people I work with side by side at work, the happier I am to work with them everyday.

New York City. See you later cold Minnesota. I'm off to New York City to dance around in all the Christmas magic. I'll be strolling down 5th to take in all the holiday windows, giggling with all my east coast people in bars with big fireplaces and eating the best Mac & Cheese in all the world in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. I'm going to visit our favorite bartender, walk all over town and just enjoy a few days away from work.

Call your representatives, call out bullshit if you see it and be nice to your coworkers. Just go out and be a good person - I feel like that should be easy enough. Happy weekending.

December 6, 2017

A Minnesota Bucket List

We have been back in MN for three whole months and I've had this post in my drafts since July. I've been trying to add things here and there to this list, but I figured I should at least get it posted so it's easy to reference when we are bored and trying to find something to do. I intend to keep adding to this list and checking this off. Some of these we've done in the past, but we want to revisit with a new outlook. Also, we are SUPER OPEN to ideas to add to this list. I'll be happy if it just keeps growing.

The Herbivorous Butcher, Minneapolis
Make the MN dishes featured in MSP/STP magazine (but the vegetarian version)
Try the Bachelor Farmer
The Hasty Tasty, LynLake area
Check out Root to Rose for all the plant based goodies
Try brunch at the NE version of Glamdoll
Snack on Rebel Donuts
Indulge in ice cream from Milkjam Creamery
Try the Hi-Lo diner
Have a fancy dinner at the Lexington
Eat everything at the MN State Fair

Hell's Kitchen Bloody Mary Bar
Mosaic Brewery
Summit Tap House
Waldmann Brewing
Lawless Distillery
12welve Eyes Brewery
Urban Growler
Bad Weather Brewery
Bar Bingo at the 1029
Modest Brewery
Revisit Betty Danger's
Able Brewery

Devil's Kettle, Grand Marais
Headwaters of the Mississippi, Itasca
Gooseberry Falls
Play some outdoor hockey
Put the Kayak in a few Minneapolis lakes
See the tallest waterfall MN at Grand Portage State Park
Visit St. Croix State Park
Ski at Lutsen or another northern MN resort
Hike at William O'Brien State Park
Bike the Twin Cities marathon route
Take a riverboat ride
See the Ice Castles in Stillwater
Camp in the Boundary Waters

Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station, Cloquet
Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul
Kensington Ruinstone, Alexandria
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove
Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors
Mill City Museum, Minneapolis
Visit the State Capitol and MN History Museum

Minnesota Wild Game
Minnesota Vikings Game
Minnesota United Game
Minnesota Twins Game
Mini Golf at Can Can Wonderland
Play at the Ordway
Show at First Ave
Show at the Palace Theater
Enjoy the St Paul Winter Carnival

Ingebretson's Scandanavian Gifts, Minneapolis
Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox, Bemidji
Naniboujou Lodge, Grand Marais
Big Ole, Alexandria
Paisley Park, Chaska
Little River General Store, Lanesboro

That's where we are for now. I'll add this to my sidebar so you can get updates on how our meals went and see some photos. Plus, I'd love to add more to this list, so shout them out.

December 4, 2017

12 Favorite Parts of Christmas

December has arrived and that means we can just move straight into Christmas world. It's the season of sugar, holiday parties and lights everywhere. I think it's great that there is a month dedicated to celebrations. 12 Days of Christmas is not my favorite Christmas song, but it does give me a good blog post to write about Christmas. Here are a few of my favorite Christmas things:

This flow chart is pretty amazing if you are trying to decide on a Christmas movie. I have a few favorites that I never miss. I love Home Alone because it gives me an excuse to order a cheese pizza (just for me.) Christmas Vacation is a classic. Really, there aren't many Christmas movies I dislike. I don't watch them until the month of December because it feels weird, so I love watching them all month long.

My favorite cookies are the Russian Tea Cakes - aka balls of butter and powdered sugar. My other favorites are the green wreaths made with cornflakes. They are a disaster to make but I love them so much - even when my mouth is green and my fingers are sticky.

Spruce Scented Candles
This one is my favorite. We don't usually have real trees, but we have had a small fake one. This Magnolia one is pretty awesome. With the fake tree, you still want the smell of the real tree, so we rely on candles for this. Works like a charm and doesn't require cutting down a tree or needles all over the house.

New York City
We are heading back to New York City for a weekend of holiday magic and I am so excited. I shared my 10 favorite NYC things on the Nomad website today. The lights, the people, the decorations. I just have to make it through this week and then we are heading back to celebrate the holidays with some of our favorite people.

I love Christmas cards. I love sending them and getting them. I love thinking of ridiculous ways to send some love and hopefully some smiles. We've already gotten a few this year and it makes me happy to check the mail every day.

Holiday Cocktails
It's the time of year for fun cocktails that are all Christmas inspired. We recently visited Miracle at Lawless Distillery last week for happy hour and enjoyed some amazing cocktails. If you are in the Twin Cities area, I would highly recommend a stop here during your Christmas season.

This is a year round phenomenon, but winter seems to be the best time to really embrace it. I've written about it last year and back in 2015 too. I love the idea of it. You have to just take some time to embrace the tiny little details of cozy blankets, twinkling lights and good company.

Seriously, Thanksgiving does not provide me with enough stuffing. This is the recipe we used and it was just the best. I will probably make it on a random Wednesday soon.

This great article about stressing less about giving. This year, we are giving less to the people we know and giving more to those we don't. We are working on being more thoughtful and intentional with gifting and giving. I'm a huge fan of the companies that give one when you buy one so you're giving twice. I'll share some of my favorites later this week because I have quite a collection now.

We don't do many decorations but each year, we buy a Nutcracker. We have a surfer, a snowboarder, a basic blogger with a Starbucks cup. Searching for the right one every year is a date in itself for us. We have one for every year that we've been married and two of them are special gifts. We take them all out each year from their carefully wrapped storage box.

Christmas music gets annoying after a few weeks, but I enjoy it at the beginning. We keep some of our favorites on a playlist, so I figured I would share it with you. Enjoy it while you can.

Last, but not least, the lights. I like to keep ours out all winter long because those short days can be a bust. Having candles and lights make everything feel so much more cozy and festive. Right now, the snow is falling outside, but having all the neighbor's houses lit up makes it so much easier to deal with. As long as your lights aren't Christmas themed, I think you leave them up until the end of March.

So what is your favorite part about Christmas? What songs or movies should I add to my list?

December 1, 2017


Well, we made it to the last month of the year. I remember last year when everyone was so ready for 2016 to be over and then 2017 was worse, so let's stop hoping for time to go faster and work on the day that we are currently living in to make it better, K? Other than dishing out super wise life advice, here's what I'm up to currently...

Reading 6 books at the same time. It's a nightmare, but I set a goal for myself and I'm way behind. I have books from library that I'm in the middle of and need to get back. I'm still hoping I can pull this off and hit my goal for the year, but then I remember how busy the month of December is. Wish me luck.

Writing a little more now that I have a routine. I've been blogging more and spending some time planning out some things for this other little project.

Smelling all the Christmas smells. We ordered some decorations from my niece's dance fundraiser and our house smells like a Christmas tree farm. I love it because we don't actually have a tree.

Finishing our shopping. I've said recently that we don't have much to do this year, but I've challenged myself to not use Amazon or Target and find cool stuff at small shops in our neighborhood. It's a challenge that I'm having way too much fun doing.

Loving the sunrises and sunsets we've been getting the last month. As the cold sinks in, the world has ways of reminding me how awesome it is. I'm also loving the amount of sweaters I bought last month on sale.

Watching the original Star Wars trilogy again with Justin before the new movie comes out. I've seen them all before, but it's been a while so every Wednesday we have movie night and watch one. We watched Empire Strikes Back this week and I forgot how weirdly creepy Yoda was.

Excited about our first return to the Big Apple. I was going to be sad to miss out on Christmas in the city this year so we just booked flights to celebrate with some awesome people for some very special events and I'm so excited. Give me all the lights, hot chocolate and noise. I miss it.

Anticipating our busiest year ever in 2018. Our work travel schedules will be bananas, plus we are planning some fun adventures for ourselves. It will all be exciting stuff but I just need to figure out the best routines to keep some sanity through everything and enjoy it all.

Dreaming about a road trip down the Pacific Coast. Justin and I watched an episode of Million Dollar Listing and then started talking about the places he grew up in Orange County. I just don't feell like I've explored Southern CA at all. We visited when I was 18 as a mother/daughter trip and did lots of fun stuff, but I'm ready to make a return visit. 2018 is the year.

You can relive this same post from 2016201520142013 and 2012. Holy smokes I've been doing this a long time and I had way too much fun looking backwards while writing this.

Happy December friends! What are you up to?

November 29, 2017

Things I've Bought Myself

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas lists for myself and I think the gift guides are pretty well covered, so I figured I'd share with you the things I've bought myself this year that were OH SO WONDERFUL. I love reading people's personal suggestions of things they love, so this is my version of a gift guide - all trialed by yours truly.

Note: there are some affiliate links in this post. The few cents I'll make if you click on them will go to buying more things and sharing them with you. #bloglife

New York Times Subscription for the real paper on Sundays and the unlimited online articles during the week. We had a pretty awesome Sunday routine in Brooklyn, so this is our special way to hold on to a piece of that.

This really comfortable sweatshirt that is perfect for every girlfriend happy hour.

The best skin care set ever. There are 4 items - daytime, nighttime, serum and eye cream. I'm linking the "discovery" kit that has smaller versions to try. We are obsessed in our household and I'm sure you're sick of hearing about it. Or really, anything from Beautycounter because I love pretty much everything.

A Chambong. Yep, it's like the classy version of a beer bong, so obviously perfect for any 30 something in your life. We've bought it as a gift in the past and then decided we needed one in our household because my blog has the word "classy" in the title.

I've bought a couple of books that I would put in the coffee table book category because I can pick them up every once in a while and read a few pages and take something away. This book features tons of awesome women and was recommended to me and I love it.

I love this Christmas album. I'm not a huge country fan, but I love her. The originals are pretty wonderful. You can find the songs on Spotify, but I bought the record because it's a pretty green color and is perfect for our Christmas activities at home.

And last but not least, these amazing blankets from Target (currently on sale.)  We bought three different colors of this so we could have one on each couch and one in our bedroom. They are giant and super soft. I'm tempted to buy a 4th now that they are on sale and winter is arriving.

I might circle back with another round of my favorite purchases for 2017, but in the meantime, treat yourself.