#19for2019 and Christmas Re-Cap

Hi friends! Happy New Year!

I always love the fresh-start feel that a new year brings but I’m not usually one for resolutions. However, you know I love the Happier podcast, and one thing they have been talking about lately is a “19 for 2019” list. It’s like a combination resolutions list + to-do list and I enjoyed hearing about their “18 for 2018” lists last year so when they started talking about 2019 lists, I decided to write one as well. Today I thought I’d share my list and also give a quick re-cap of our Christmas travels since I’ve been unplugged from the blog through the holidays.

My 19 for 2019

1- Rough start, but this one is personal and I’m keeping it to myself. If there comes a point where I feel I want to share about it in this space, I will, but today is not that day. Next!

2- Plan an adults-only trip for Justin and I (We may not be able to actually take the trip in 2019 but I want to start planning and budgeting for it now!)

3- Update instagram account and create Chatbook for LJ

4- Select pictures for family photo albums (I want to do one for each year of marriage. We’ve been married 5 1/2 years so this is a big project!)

5- Plan out family photo albums (Such a big project I had to break it up into two items!)

6- Create a master list of my top book recommendations (I get asked for recommendations so often and I want to have a go-to list to easily share)

7- Replace our ugly brown recliner (Justin bought it used for $20 in college. It has lived a good life and it’s time to move on. 😉 )

8- Write and track our monthly spending budget

9- Send birthday cards

10- Find a local tailor

11- Find a reliable, nearby babysitter (we have some already but weeknights are always tricky to find someone)

12- Have house siding washed

13- Find comfortable black heels

14 – Plan our will with an estate lawyer

15- Invest in buying plastic alternatives (stainless steel straws, etc)

16- Set up accounts for LJ’s future

17- Have budget meeting with Justin for each paycheck (roughly 2x/month)

18- When buying clothing or shoes, look for fair trade, ethically made options

19- Learn more about finances (401K, 403B, investments, etc.) through books or podcasts

We’ll see how this goes. Some items are quick, one-time items that I just need to schedule time for. Others are ongoing or very time-consuming. I’m going to take it one step at a time and just try my best!

As for the recent holidays, we spent about 10 days away from home. It was a lot of travel but it was so great to spend so much quality time with our loved ones.

Christmas

Chicago

We left after lunch on the 21st for Chicago for Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. My uncle lives in Chicago and while his apartment didn’t have room for everyone, we were able to rent out the entire Lang House B&B nearby and stay together as a family. The B&B was absolutely gorgeous and we all enjoyed our stay there!

Friday evening most of the family (minus Justin and my dad, who stayed back at the B&B with LJ) went downtown to see “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre. The play was amazing – the actors were all super talented and the set and special effects were incredible. We all enjoyed it!

Saturday was spent exploring Michigan Avenue in the morning and early afternoon. We did a little shopping and just enjoyed walking around in the festive atmosphere. Justin, LJ, and I ended up heading to Christkindl Market with my two sisters and my sister’s fiance and while it was extremely crowded, we did feel like the Christmas spirit was going strong! It was fun to walk through the tents and see unique ornaments and other decorations.

We all headed back to the B&B in the early afternoon to relax and rest up for a big night ahead. LJ found the L ride home especially relaxing 😉

Chicago17.jpg

Saturday night was one we had all been looking forward to for a long time: a 1920’s murder mystery! Months ago, my uncle purchased the scenario and assigned us parts. He put in a lot of effort to give everyone a part that worked with their real-life personality and all the details he put in place were just perfect! We all worked hard to get costumes in place and learn about our character. We had a catered meal, only to later discover that while the meal was catered, all the “servers” were actually friends of my uncle who were characters in the scenario as well. Justin actually was the one who was murdered, but he got to come back in Act II as the detective investigating the mystery. It was SUCH fun evening! Everyone got super in to their characters and we had all an awesome time.

It was a great weekend with extended family!

Ohio/Virginia

Sunday morning we packed up after breakfast and headed to Ohio for an evening Christmas celebration with my parents and siblings. Then we headed out early on Christmas Eve for a week in Virginia with Justin’s family.

Because of Justin’s work schedule, he hasn’t been able to travel to Virginia to see his family since last Christmas. It was SO wonderful to get to spend some good quality time there with his family. Our six-year-old nephew especially was excited for uncle Justin to come around and play with him and it was sweet to see their special bond strengthen. And don’t even get me started on the sweetness of seeing LJ with his cousins! I didn’t take many pictures during this trip but our four-year-old and ten-month-old nieces each had some especially precious moments with him that I managed to capture on camera. Oh my heart.

We were able to squeeze in a few short visits with some friends in the area but for the most part we focused on spending time with family and were so thankful to not only have Christmas Day together but also be able to get together other days for meals or just to hang out. It was a great holiday!

We got back home on Sunday night and spent Monday as a family of three (five including our dogs!) together at home. We got LJ one small present and the dogs each had treats in their stockings, but other than that, we kept it super low-key and just enjoyed a cozy day at home with each other. It was the perfect way to cap off a great holiday season.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday as well! Cheers to 2019!

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Teacher Tuesday: Desk Decorating!

Teacher Tuesday is here once more!

My enthusiasm for Christmas has officially trickled over into my workplace. Today we had a two-hour delay, and since it’s the last day before Thanksgiving break,  I decided to use the extra time to decorate my desk!

Come winter, I look forward to snow days a lot so I decided to incorporate that into my decor. I took snowman wrapping paper (which I got on clearance in an after-Christmas sale last year!), taped one edge to the corner of my desk, and unrolled the paper as I walked around the desk. Once 3/4 of the sides were covered, I cut the paper and taped the edge to the desk.  SUPER easy. The wrapping paper was the same height as my desk so I didn’t even have to cut it for height! I only used four small pieces of tape, so when Christmas is over, I’ll un-tape it and roll it back up to use again.

For the sign, I cut out some pennants using light blue construction paper, glued on some die-cut letters and snowflakes, and taped the pennants to the wrapping paper. Simple!

11-26 Desk Decorating

I took some red and gold ribbon and taped it around my whiteboard, drew a quick “Countdown to Christmas” sign, and added a sleigh, Christmas tree, and stocking around my desk area for extra festivity. Again, all those items came from after-Christmas sales 🙂

Now when we come back from break, I’ll be ready to go! I just LOVE the holiday season!

***

Today’s Outfit:

20131126_084817

Jacket: Maurices

Black cami: Express

Skinny jeans: Mossimo @ Target

Boots: Forever 21

Necklace & Earrings: Lia Sophia

Ornament Overload

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, my husband already had the curtains open to our back deck and I stopped dead in my tracks. The sunrise was absolutely mind blowing! Here’s an (unedited) picture I took:

How can your day not be good when you see this first thing? Such a beautiful beginning!

Christmas Ornaments

Ho ho ho! Our halls are decked! The tree is lit! And most importantly, the mistletoe is hung 🙂

I spent nearly all day Saturday packing up most of my fall decorations (I left a few out for our Thanksgiving meal) and pulled out my three huge tubs full of Christmas decorations. I blasted some Christmas music and got to work!

Since Justin and I are going to be traveling during our entire Christmas break, our tree is pathetically small. We just have a 3′ fake tree that I got for $7 from a yard sale. Needless to say, we didn’t hang many ornaments before the tree was full. I get ornaments on sale after Christmas and I had a ton left that didn’t fit on the tree. I still wanted to use them so I got creative with places to hang them!

First up was the banister by our staircase. Since we have a split level, the top banister is actually a “wall” in our living room. I wrapped it in fake garland (which I got for $2 from a thrift store!) and used fishing line to hang the ornaments in between each post. I hung them at different heights and alternated different patterns/textures. It was simple and I really like the way it turned out!

  

Next up was a decorative window that I have hung over a couch. The window is plain white so I used my neon-bright ornaments to pops of color. Again, I hung them with fishing line and lightly taped the fishing line to the top of the window so it was out of sight. Took about 15 minutes and was super easy. I love the result!

Lastly, I took silver and dark bluish-grey ornaments and hung them in a “pyramid” in my bathroom using fishing line. We just have a simple paper shade covering that window so the ornaments dressed it up nicely. The ornaments matched my color scheme perfectly so it was a subtle Christmas touch. I added a strand of the $2 fake garland to complete the look.

All three ideas were very easy and extremely inexpensive. It took about an hour total and cost under $20 (I cannot stress enough the importance of planning ahead and buying Christmas stuff after Christmas! Saves you SO much money!) I love the simplicity of each decoration but they come together to give the house a nice festive feel. Yay!

***

Today I rolled out of bed tired and groggy but I decided to “dress for success” to wake me up and get me in the work mindset. Only one more workday until break!

Jacket: Frenchi

Tank: Express

Skirt: New York & Co.

Tights: Express

Pumps: Maurices

Bracelet set: Express

Earrings: Lia Sophia

Belt: Outlooks (came attached to a pair of capris)

Operation Stress-free Christmas Card Picture: Step #1

Today, a very exciting package came in the mail!

Macie Hat #2

A puppy Santa hat for Macie!

This past weekend, a few friends and I drove to a nearby city for an overnight girls’ shopping trip/weekend away. (It was SO nice to get some quality girl-time in . . . and of course, score some major deals!) As we were browsing one of the many stores, one of the girls picked out coordinating outfits for herself and her husband and casually mentioned they’d probably wear them for Christmas card pictures.

Pause. What? People are thinking about Christmas? Didn’t fall just begin?

Truth is, I’m a bit of a procrastinator and had my friend not said something, Christmas card pictures wouldn’t have even crossed my mind for about another month. Then it would have taken me a week or two to decide what to do and at least another week to get it done. I’d be lucky to get the cards out by Christmas eve! The  whole thing would be rushed and stressful, and I’d probably be dissatisfied with the results.

Not gonna happen this year! I’m inspired to “simplify the [upcoming] chaos” by planning ahead! Let Operation Stress-free Christmas Card Picture begin!

All my enthusiasm aside, I have no delusions that I’ll be able to pull off something glamourous. I see all the adorable Christmas card pictures where the couple is wrapped up cozily in Christmas lights (J & I would just look like a tangled mess) or is having a cute snowball fight and still looking picture perfect (My face gets ridiculously red in the cold so I’d look like Rudolph). Then I realized that J and I don’t need to do anything spectacular because we have a spectacularly cute puppy who can steal all the limelight and be adorable enough for us all!

Macie Hat #1

Cue Santa hat! (Bonus that is was only $2.99 plus shipping!) Now I just have to get her to like wearing the hat so it will stay on long enough for a picture. So far, she’s up to keeping it on for about 1.2 seconds. Anyways, I consider this a significant success on Step #1 of Operation Stress-free Christmas Card Picture. Yes!

***

Last week, I posted about re-vamping spring clothing to give it new life for the fall/winter. Even though I did score some new clothing on the shopping spree, I’m still digging out spring clothes and giving them new life. It’s actually fun to find new ways to wear things and it’s also very budget-friendly!

Here’s today’s teacher-friendly work outfit:

Outfit #1

Cardigan: Old Navy

Lace cami: Express

Grey pencil skirt: Laundry by Shelli Segal (found at Ross!)

Grey suede pumps: Bandolino

Bangles and earrings: Ruche (shopruche.com)

I LOVE mint and paired it with other pastels all spring and summer long. I paired it with grey to transition it to winter and really like the way it turned out!

On a side note, taking self-timed shots with a puppy in the room sometimes leads to this:

Outfit #1b

Hmm. We might need to work on her a bit before she’s ready for her big Christmas card debut after all . . .