Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 becomes 2014

There's something incredibly bittersweet about New Year's to me.  It was the best holiday in elementary and middle school - parents couldn't tell a group of screaming girls that they had to go to bed, because we had to stay up until midnight!  As I got older, the parties were duller and more often than not, I was with my family or one or two friends, and I fell asleep before the ball dropped.  (Last year, we just ate cheese and watched Harry Potter.  I fell asleep at 11.)

New Year's is a celebration of the year to come, and the things that have passed, but we're also saying good bye to an entire year.  An entire year of bad decisions, good decisions, memories and moments that is no longer last month, at the beginning of the year, or the other day.  It suddenly becomes last year, and then two years ago, and soon when recollecting the memories and decisions and moments, we won't even be able to remember what year it was.

No one else?  I'm the only one?

Well I don't care.

I look at the clock and it's 10:30 in the morning on New Year's Eve.  I still don't have plans tonight, aside from the fact that I know I'll be with Nathan.  And that's okay.  When I think of the parties I had and went to for New Year's Eve, I only ever remember the people I'm with - not the year, not watching the ball drop, just seeing my people, like it's any other night.  And that's okay.

This year, I have a lot to be thankful, I'm saying good bye to a lot of things, and I'm honestly glad the year is over.  I had the hardest semester of my college career, I got the best grades for a semester I've had.  I got to go to New York City with my entire family this time, and Nathan and I took our first long-distance trip together.  My grandma's breast cancer became bone cancer, but she's pushing through.  My family got a foreign exchange student, which means I have a new sister.  My brother learned to read.  This blog was started.  I no longer have a bedroom at either of my parents' house, so I feel like that's a huge thing of growing up.

Those are the snapshots of my year.  I'm sure if I thought harder and longer, I'd have lists of things to talk about, but it's okay.  I've failed at a lot of things this year, more than I could ever list or remember.  That isn't going to change.  I wish I could share the New Year's resolutions I made with you, but I don't make resolutions.

I have things I want to accomplish, goals and challenges that I set for myself.  I'm working on a 101 in 1001 list, which I will be sure to share when I'm finished with it.  So I'll share some of those things with you - here is what I want 2014 to bring:

- I want to read more books that aren't school related.
- I want to save more money so that I can get my own place in September.
- I want to cut back on the amount of pop I drink (one of my bad habits).
- I want to call my family more.
- I want to send birthday and anniversary cards to my family and friends.
- I want to finish my 101 in 1001 list.
- I want to start another series similar to my holiday one.

Again, only a snapshot.

I'm not going to bore you with too much more, so I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's and the whole year to come. Best wishes to you all.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

holiday recap & things I love Thursday

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and still are!  One thing I love about the holidays is they start at Thanksgiving and go through the New Year.  Many families celebrate the week before or the week after, which always extends the joy of the season.  My family tends to get it all done in a period of three or so days, but I love being home.  This is the first time I've been home for more than three days in two years.  TWO YEARS.  It's an amazing feeling, though it has taken the last five days to stop feeling like I was going to have to pack up and go in a matter of hours.  I'm sitting on the couch next to my puppy, and it is wonderful.
My holidays were busy, but grand.  I loved having everyone open the gifts I wrapped so long ago, and unwrapping my own were exciting.  I was part of a scheme to get my sister the Newsies soundtrack and the result was priceless.  It's actually top of my list for Things I Love Thursday.

Sami Reacts to Getting Newsies
It's hilarious, and worth the click.

- One of my favorite gifts was the Kate Spade bangle my mom had gotten for me during one of their surprise sales.  It's the perfect addition to my stack!  They don't sell the one I got anymore, but you can shop their bracelets here to find one to add to your own arm party.

The next few things on my list are a little different than normal.  I'm choosing products that include proceeds that go to charity.  Tis the season.  You can't do a little good while still receiving a little good.

- Harry's
I found this company while looking for a gift for Nathan.  I ended up getting him the Engraved Winston Set and he loved it.  His first comment was that the handle felt like the perfect weight and he couldn't wait to use it.  Fingers crossed he'll be willing to write a review as soon as he uses it!  My hope is that they'll soon make women's razors, otherwise I'll have to start using the Truman on my legs. (Ha! But seriously...)  They have their Give A Shave program that donates 1% of profits and 1% of their time to volunteer to a cause.  Currently, they're working with City Year, a group that prepares people for personal and professional success.

- Warby Parker
I love Warby Parker.  I'm waiting until I get my renewed prescription to get a pair, but I've got my free five on order to try on!  Everyone that I know who has Warby's adores the heck out of them; needless to say, I'm excited.  One of the cofounders of Harry's, Jeff Raider, also cofounded Warby Parker.  This company also has a charity program, Buy A Pair Give A Pair, where for every pair of glasses purchased, funding or another pair goes to non-profit partners.  They also work on training low-income entrepreneurs to start their own companies selling eyeglasses.  As soon as I get a pair, I'll get you a review!

- Laughing Man Coffee
Another one of Nathan's gifts, the Laughing Man Coffee is a little more expensive, but a whole lot more worth it.  According to their story, 100% of the company's revenue goes towards education, community development, and new business development.  It's really a phenomenal program, and Hugh Jackman helped found it.  Who doesn't love Hugh Jackman?

I hope the rest of your holiday season is wonderful!  Did you give or get any gifts that you absolutely love?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, December 23, 2013

happy holidays.

There's a slight change of plans. Originally, I was going to post on Saturday and again tomorrow about Christmas and the holidays, but I decided to do one today instead.

Two posts about holiday memories were redundant, especially since each one up to this point included something about the holidays. I'm laying on the couch in my parents' house and watching Grey's Anatomy (new addiction) while I write this and it's when I truly realized something that I needed to share. I usually dread Christmas, knowing that going to multiple Christmases and driving my sisters around is stressful, that crying is inevitable and that I sometimes forget what it's about. It's about relaxing with my family, spending hours last night with my high school friends and laughing non stop. It taking those moments and appreciating them, taking a step back from the "real world" and going back to everything that matters.

So here is to you and yours.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

things I love Thursday (on Friday. Again.)

I know.  I KNOW.  It's Friday.  I was supposed to post this yesterday.  My original plan was to get this done earlier in the week and schedule it so I wouldn't get caught up  in finals and have a mental avalanche.  Well, sorry, had a mental avalanche.  I finally finished up my semester on Wednesday, but then didn't want to look at my computer AT ALL, so here we are.  Doing Things I Love Thursday on Friday.  Again.

Anyways - here's what I'm loving this week! :)

- Santa Tracker
This is adorable.  It works like an advent calendar, with a new part of Santa's journey opening up on each day.  There are some cute things in there - I personally love calls from Santa - and no matter what age you are, it's great to look at anything through a younger set of eyes.  Besides, any age will find the calls from Santa hilarious, I sent about six out instead of actually working on my thesis.

- Apple Holiday Commercial
Have you seen this yet?  I got teary.  Having two younger sisters and being part of the cellphone/social media generation myself, it's all too common in my family to see the kids sitting on their phones.  I love this commercial because it shows us so much good we can do with our technology, and that's often forgotten.  And, fun fact, it was entirely filmed on an iPhone 5S.  I don't have one yet, but I think I'll be making more home videos when I do get one.

- dconstruct Jewelry
Yet another thing I've gotten from a museum gift shop, I love the dconstruct jewelry and phone cases.  I have a super thin version of the Fossil Leaf in Indigo bangle and I wear it every day.  I love that it's small enough that I can have it on my tiny wrists (my biggest issue with most bracelets), but it is malleable enough to get it on any sized wrist.  The one I have isn't available online anymore, but you can get other sizes in the same pattern, and tons of other adorable ones.  If I had more money, I would buy so many more.  But they're definitely on my Christmas list.

- Father & Daughter Recreate Wedding Photos
Another one that made me cry.  This is absolutely a beautiful thing to do to celebrate a love and a life.  After his wife of 5 years' passing, this man and his 1 year old daughter recreated some of the photos of the day of their wedding in the house they lived in... It is phenomenal and so touching, I don't even have words.


Hope you all have a great weekend!  What were you loving this week?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

one week til Christmas!

If you can't tell by my holiday series, I love Christmastime.  This Buzzfeed post showed up on my social networks again and I love it.  It gets me so excited for the holidays and the countdown is getting smaller and smaller - one week left!

(Speaking of which, that means only two posts left in my holiday series!  What will I post about next!?)

holiday baking.

santa hat cupcake

who doesn't love to eat goodies on Christmas!?  The photo is of a cupcake I ate at work earlier today - it was a Santa hat, but I ate the frosting dollop off the top as soon as I sat down!

Christmas recipes are treasured and passed down from generation to generation, or they're just wonderful reasons for family to get together and cook or bake together.  My family bakes every Christmas, en masse, and it is a wonderful time.

There have been years when I thought I was "too cool" to be home with my family, and other years where I've pleaded for my mom to take a few hours and bake.  Holiday baked goods trays were given to family friends and teachers, filled with the goodies we'd spent an afternoon baking.  For a few years, my mom was in charge of the annual youth bake sale my church held.  That took more than an afternoon.  I would have a few friends over, and everyone would be baking at my grandma's (who had two ovens!) with Christmas music blaring.

I'm not going to be home for baking this year.  It's weird; last year, I missed a lot of family traditions, but it feels more like becoming an adult when more than one is missed.  I'm hoping to make Nathan bake some things with me (we made Kiss cookies last week) but we'll see if our busy schedules permit it.  I'm almost done with finals!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes!

Dipped Bugles
This one is my personal favorite, and it's perfect to do with young kids!
Just melt some baking chocolate or almond bark, dip a bugle, and add an M&M.  Place on wax paper to dry, and you suddenly have a sweet and salty delicious bite in your mouth.  The Christmas M&Ms are perfect for this.

Pretzel Turtles
I don't personally love pecans, not all the time, but these are my grandfather's favorites.

And here's a couple of gluten-free one.  I have an aunt who is gluten intolerant, so it's nice to have a few of these on hand.

Three-Ingredient Kiss CookiesNathan and I made these on Date Night.  So, so good, and gluten-free.  We cut the 1 cup sugar into 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Fudgy Avocado Peanut Butter BrowniesLet it be known, I do not like avocados.  Yes, that means I don't like guacamole.  Nathan, on the other hand, LOVES avocados.  I found this recipe over the summer, and the author's husband doesn't like avocados, but he liked the brownies, so I thought - why not.  Also.  Healthier.  It's almost like a vegetable/fruit, so go ahead, eat the whole pan.

And I promise, you can't taste the avocado.


What do you love to bake!?  Send me some of your recipes, I'd love to try them!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

winter weather.

winter memories

First of all, I'd like to wish my mom and step-dad a very happy anniversary. I think we're up to year 11 now. When you guys got married, the temps were in the 50s and it was beautiful and today I can't feel my toes.

On that note, I'm going to talk about weather today, and weather memories, and holiday weather, because really, they all go hand in hand. I've spent the time between Christmas and New Year's outside of Minnesota twice - once in Florida, and once in Arizona. I'll say this, and probably only once, but I missed the snow. The holidays are not the same without having a "White Christmas" or being able to sing "Let It Snow" at the top of your lungs from November to February (or March, April, or May, depending on how Minnesota is feeling).

One of my earliest memories of snow, is following my dad by stepping into the tracks he made. I was five or six at the time, and without his shoe marks, I would have sank, we had so much snow that year.

My childhood is filled with snow memories; sledding in my backyard, snowball fights and igloo building with the other neighborhood kids. Praying for snow days, two hour late starts, or early outs. My childhood led into high school, where we would fit as many people into one car as possible and go to someone's house, or when my friends who lived in the country couldn't get home so they stayed with me. There was a time or two when we were stuck at school, because they wouldn't let people leave unless their parents picked them up. More than one time we had to shovel out cars, or wave apologetically as we slid through stop signs.

In college, snow days weren't as common, and I was forced to trek through high winds and subzero temperatures to get to class (this last week anyone?). I'd get pictures from home where the snow drifts were taller than my sister, and phone calls that my family got to miss school and work until someone could plow them out. Christmas Eve's were spent snowmobiling, making hot cocoa while everyone else went snowmobiling, and Christmas mornings were spent looking outside for reindeer prints in fresh snow. I can't imagine the holidays without cold weather and fluffy white flakes.

Hope you're all enjoying the holidays. What are your snow memories?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Anchorman 2

I chose Baxter, because I love Baxter.

Earlier in the week, Nathan and I caught another pre-screen sponsered by 43kix - Anchorman 2.  I got the tickets through a drawing my University had and I was pumped.  I loved the first movie, and the second was just as good.  A few people behind me commented on how ridiculous it was, as if it was too ridiculous, but what did they expect?  Did they not remember the Pleasure Town bit from the first Anchorman?

A few spots in Anchorman 2 dragged a little, but for five minutes at the most.  If it dragged, it came back with the snappy one liners the first movie was known for and the audience was instantly laughing again.  What I loved the most was all of the little things that Nathan and I constantly pointed out to each other.  A side character in the back, or a facial expression that wasn't the focus of the shot.  It was hi-larious.

I'd already made plans to see Anchorman 2 on its release date, and I have zero issue with seeing it again.  At two and a half hours, it was a little long, and as I watched it, I was aware that it was long.  But to be honest, I didn't care.  It's like when you're at a sporting event - the whole time you're there, you're aware that time is moving on and it's getting later and later, but you don't care.  As I watched Anchorman 2, I didn't care.  I laughed my way through it, and was ready to watch it again.  Adam McKay and Will Ferrell outdid themselves.  Anchorman 2 was all I could hope for in the sequel.

Comment if you've seen it, or after you do!  I want to know what your favorite part was!
(Ummm, Kristen Wiig anyone?)

it's Thursday!

photo (1)

I love Things I Love Thursday.  It challenges me to figure out what things have meant a lot to me this week, and it's kind of awesome.  Here's what I'm loving this week...

- Sharpie highlighters

I'm in full finals mode, which means my post-its and highlighters are my best friends right now.  I already wrote about my favorite Post-It Flag Pen, but I love the Sharpie highlighters just as much.  They don't smear, and they last FOREVER.  I color-code everything, so having one of every color is an absolute MUST for me.

- Make Everything Okay

This is my life saver on some days.  When I'm sitting at my desk, stressed beyond belief about finals and what not, I click on this and it truly works.  There's something about being reminded that it will be okay, and sometimes you're the one who has to do some adjusting to make it okay.

- 101 in 1001

Nathan and I are attempting to create our own lists and support each other through the completion of said lists.  When I read about these before Thanksgiving, I was bound and determined that this would be my project to start on January 1st.  As I began writing the list (and stopped, and started, and stopped), I realized that this was going to take longer than the 5 weeks I'd given myself.  It's challenging, when they become realistic goals, to think of the 101 things you want to have accomplished in 2.75 years.

- Scents from the Page

This is unbelievable.  I want every single one of these, and I want to buy them all for my friends.  There's something about reading a book, and the scent of the book, that sucks one in and takes you to a different world; but these candles, these candles are scents reminiscent of the places from your favorite books.  And for only $10, it's cheaper than re-buying the book.  I'm not sure how that mindset works, but sure, why not.

- Regis Philbin

Long story short, Regis Philbin became one of my role models/inspirations when I was 13.  I loved him - but I didn't realize how much until half a decade later when I read "How I Got This Way", his second memoir.  There is something about this man that is inherently inspirational and beautiful.  I picked up his first book, "I'm Only One Man", at a second hand bookstore months ago.  School has finally wound down enough that I could start reading it and, after a few pages, I'm hooked.  But I was hooked after the dedication page.

"This book is for any of you who have ever wanted to do something but feared you might not be good enough to do it.  This is to tell you to go for it.  You might surprise yourself.  Look what happened to me."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

carols and movies

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is singing the songs and watching the movies.  As I write this, I'm definitely watching Chronicles of Narnia, which doesn't necessarily fall under the category of Christmas movie, but it definitely counts as "winter movie".


I've loved Christmas songs for as long as I can remember.  When I played piano, my teacher would take all of her students and we would play Christmas music at McDonalds, and the local assisted living residences.  I loved being able to bring the music to people, and I especially had more appreciation for playing at assisted living residences as I got older.  Now, I just count down the days until I can start listening to Christmas music (it's the same as decorating!).

Last night was my high school's annual Sounds of the Season concert, and I've yet to make it back as an alum.  The special aspect of this concert is that my choir director has directed the same two songs every year, as long as she has been there.  Before the choir sings these songs (Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Let There Be Peace On Earth), she turns to the audience and asks alumni to come down and join the choir.  As I'm from a small town, it isn't rare for her to point at someone in the audience, call them out for hiding, and make them come down as well.  It's truly a special experience, as there are many siblings and parents who come down and sing as well.  I'm crossing my fingers for next year, when I'll get to sing with both of my sisters  while they're still in school!

I have so many favorite Christmas songs, but here are some for you:

  1. Baby It's Cold Outside - She & Him

  2. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Michael Buble

  3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra

  4. Sleigh Ride - Johnny Mathis

  5. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

  6. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney

  7. Christmas is All Around - Love Actually

  8. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives

  9. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams

  10. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Kristin Chenoweth

I know there are so many missing from this list, but I tried to showcase my favorites from these artists!


As for movies, I love them.  I'm essentially a film major, so it is no surprise that I love movies, but Christmas movies are my favorite.  There is only one I will watch year-round, and that is Love Actually.  It is one of my favorite movies, which is why it can be watched year round.  I love all sorts of Christmas movies; the beautiful (Polar Express), cheesy (Holiday in Handcuffs), and the classics (A Christmas Story).  But here are my top three (excluding Love Actually, since it's just my favorite movie in general).

Christmas Classics

This gets to count as one, because I say so.  Nothing beats the classic claymation of Rudolph and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and Frosty the Snowman just cannot be beat.  I watch this whole set in one sitting, every year.


This is the Christmas movie of my generation, and it's a good one.  Some people pass over it, as Will Ferrell isn't for everyone.  I get that, but this movie IS for people who enjoy the holidays, so everyone should give it a chance.  The soundtrack is also the soundtrack to Christmas - in my mind - and every year, without fail, I hear people quoting it.  I remember seeing this one in the movie theatre, and it never loses its Christmas magic for me.

Three Days

Three Days is a guilty pleasure of mine.  I can only find it on ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas, usually at 3 in the morning.  I have my mom record it on our DVR and it is the first thing I watch when I come home for the holidays.  I cry every single time I watch this movie, but it is the one I'm always most excited to watch this one.

I hope you all enjoy your songs and movies this Christmas.  Watch them while you can!

Monday, December 9, 2013

study time - post-it pen

Again, I'm in love.  Not for anything new that popped up, just for something I found in my pen jar that I fell in love with all over again.  My mom  got me this pen ages ago (I think it came from the auction or something), and I never really utilized it until now.

There are some variations of this pen that are highlighters (!!) but mine is just a pen, and I'm just fine with that.  I'm adding extra notes to my notebook and readings as I start to study, and having these flags right on the pen is fantastic.  I also love that I can differentiate because of the polka dots on the flags.  I flag things throughout the semester, so knowing which ones are most recently flagged is helping quite a bit.
You can get them here on Amazon.

merry & bright - freebie

This morning, while suffering from a migraine, I was going through my Twitter feed and stumbled across a tweet from Joelle (follow her!) about these backgrounds on fabulouskstyle.  OH MY MERRY GOODNESS.  These are BEAUTIFUL.

I am in love.  I've gone through 2 of the 4 already, and I'm sure I'll go through the other 2 in the next 15 days.  Make sure you snag them while you can!  I also found one of my new favorite blogs, so there's that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nathan and I were lucky enough to go see a pre-screening of "Inside Llewyn Davis," courtesy of Gofobo.  I'd heard a few things about the film, such as their luck at Cannes, but all I could ever remember was that it was a Cohen Bros. creation, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and did I mention Justin Timberlake?

Anyways. It was a beautiful movie. When it was over, and the credits had finished (I love staying for the credits, repercussion of having worked at a movie theatre), the first thing Nathan said to me was "that was beautiful". And it truly was a magnificent story.

I don't have enough familiarity with the body of work the Coen Brothers have created to definitively say I love them, but I loved this film. The acting, setting, filmography, writing, music - my God, the music! - it was all beautiful. It was one of the few films that took me through a single narrative and it was refreshing to have that. So many films spend a majority of the time wrapping up storylines that were started with side characters; while this film definitely left me wondering about the outcome of a few situations, it wasn't distracting. Most of all, it was realistic. I'm not about to classify this film as realism, no, I've spent too much time in film classes to be able to definitively say much, but it felt real, to me. I didn't feel manipulated into false feelings, and I didn't feel forced to sympathize with anyone and it was breathtaking the entire time.

It comes out on December 20th, and it is one that I highly, highly reccommend, especially if you're a fan of folk music. The Avett Brothers, Marcus Mumford, and Justin Timberlake all played parts in putting together the music of the film, and it is worth the expensive movie ticket to see.

Saturday, December 7, 2013



Last night, Loverman took me out on the town.  And tonight, he told me to stop calling him Loverman on the blog.  So from here on out...Nathan.  Here's Nathan and I from last night (sorry for the quality!).


He took me out for Date Night, which consisted of standing outside in INSANELY cold weather.  Do you not remember how cold it is here?  We stood outside for just under an hour to watch Minneapolis' Holidazzle parade, which was just long enough for my toes to get numb and the rest of my body to feel like it was being stabbed by cold daggers and other unpleasant feelings.  Nathan did say he was proud I didn't throw a fit about the weather, as my body is notorious for completely overreacting to the temperature outside and I am notorious for being quite vocal about the state of my temperature.  The parade was beautiful, and I managed to get a couple shots of the lit up floats!



photo 4

It's always fun to head downtown, and it was so wonderful to spend a Friday night out soaking up the holiday.  We went out for dinner at Devil's Advocate and both had the delicious Natty Burger.  I found nothing wrong with the food, and they have one of the best beer lists in Minneapolis.  Afterwards, Nathan surprised me by getting out ingredients for us to make delicious Kiss Cookies (which happened to be gluten free and delicious!) and then watching a Minneapolis Christmas classic, "Jingle All the Way".  We had a blast trying to spot all the metro locations and laughing at the geographical mistakes.  Overall, it was a wonderful night, and a great way to enjoy the holidays in the place I now call home.

Some more pictures!


Hope you had a good weekend!

the joy of giving.


I have a tendency to give gifts to everyone.  I give gifts to my family, my boyfriend, and my friends.  All my friends.  Not one or two close ones, but all of them.  One year, I believe I gave out 10 "friend" gifts, but this year I've knocked it down to six.  I think.  Instead of spending a ton on each of them, I spent less than $5 on each of the gifts and customized a cute and creative card to go with it (I'll post after I give them all out - I'd hate to spoil the surprise).  For the friends that I remain close with, but wouldn't necessarily give a gift to, I've decided to send handwritten cards to each of them, as they are still parts of my life and I want to do something cute and unique.  There won't be any posed pictures, or updates on what my last year has been like, but it will just be a little holiday cheer that will hopefully bring a smile to the stress of the end of the semester.

For my family, I like to give them each a little something individually.  Now that I'm on my own, I tend to be the one who picks up all the gifts, since my sisters usually are shopping with my parents around.  The three of us all go in on something for each parent (Little Brother is still too little to help with Dad's gifts).  We usually find a store-bought gift for them, something small, but then spend the day doing something of their choice, that they want to do (one year we spent the day helping my mom sort through hundreds of pictures for scrapbooking!).

Once my sisters and I started babysitting and getting money of our own, we were able to buy each other gifts with minimal help from our parents, and we didn't just have our names written in the "From" section of the tag on something Mom picked out.  Last year, I got my siblings all University of Minnesota apparel, and this year...well this year they both got some input on what they wanted for part of their gifts!  The other part I picked up at an outlet mall earlier this fall - it's been SUCH a relief knowing that my presents are done way ahead of time.

Loverman is the hardest to shop for.  There are plenty of great gift guides out there for shopping for men, and the range from a little pricey, to something more on the college budget that I happen to be living on.  (check out this one from College Prepster, for him & her, the one from Design Darling, Cupcake & Cashmere, Real Simple - they have a foosball table for $49! Love them!)  Last year I got him a DIY monogrammed flask and a blu-ray player.  One nice thing about buying for your man, is that they will (should/better) love you whether or not they loved the gift!

I hope this gives you all some ideas for future gifts!  The holidays are officially upon us - let me know if you have any other gift questions in the comments!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

things I love Thursday!

It happens once a week, and this week it happens to be cold and snowy, but mostly cold.  It also marks the day I give my senior presentation (almost done with it all!).  That's right, it's Thursday.
- BudgetBytes.com
I'm fairly new to cooking.  I mean, I know how to make food, but I grew up with things that were frozen or could be made in the microwave.  My parents were better at cooking when I was older, but I was in and out of the house between school and activities that I never got to sit down for a meal.  Loverman is a HUGE foodie.  He showed me this website and I was floored.  Because I'm in college, I'm also trying to be smart with money and groceries, and this blog definitely helps me find healthy recipes on a budget.  And the miscellany cooking tips are great - I hate touching raw chicken.
 - QuizUp App
Okay, so I love trivia.  I love all types of trivia, but trivia games make me feel like I'm retaining random information for a reason.  If you get it, make sure you register with Facebook.  I tend to skip that part and register away from something that would post for me, but it connects to your Friends through Facebook, and won't post anything without your permission - I PROMISE.  What's really fun is when you reach level 10 in whatever category you're working in.  When you reach that, you unlock a different "title" that pertains to the category, which is pretty entertaining if you ask me.
- "The Sound of Music" Live on NBC
There's something about live theatre that gives me goosebumps every time.  It's amazing that it's being brought into the homes of people across the country and it's electric - more people need to see theatre and reap its benefits.  I'm unsure of how Carrie Underwood will do (I love her voice, don't get me wrong, just intrigued!), but Laura Benanti is one of my favorite stage and screen actresses.  Also, Audra McDonald.  Audra.  McDonald.
- 26 Problems Only Anxious People Will Understand
As someone with anxiety, this is absolutely hilarious to me.  I read the entire thing and either laughed or nodded in agreement.  Number 3 and 14 made me feel anxious just by reading them!  It was a much needed laugh on this Thursday morning though.
Hope you're all having a good week!  What are you loving?



It is officially Minnesota winter. The snow that fell outside my window yesterday conjured images of Christmas movies and hot chocolate, skating outside and making snow angels. Today, the bitter cold makes me want to hide under blankets in my bed and just pray I stop shaking soon.

I realized I forgot my gloves this morning and only had my wrist warmers. Luckily they're made my ZigZag (the makers of the wool scarf I have that I LOVE), so as long as I keep my hands balled up in my pockets, my hands still stay warm. Minnesotans - stay bundled and warm this week. I'm seeing people walking around campus with jackets unzipped and they only make me colder. Everyone else - be thankful for your warmth.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

holiday cheer.

Part II of my Holiday series brings one of the most widely debated topics of the holidays -- the decorations.  Families coming together find ways to meld their styles and traditions, they avoid phone calls from the parents who passed down the traditions (since they'll be upset tradition has changed), and letters are sent to Targets everywhere that Christmas decorations shouldn't be out yet "because it's barely November!" (...no?  Just my mom sends that letter to Target?)

Growing up, there was a strict rule that no decorations went up until after Thanksgiving dinner was eaten and cleaned up, no music was listened to until the day after Thanksgiving, and you were to be scorned if you even thought about turning on outdoor Christmas lights.  The Friday after Thanksgiving, my day off from school was always spent helping my Gram put decorations up at the family business and at her house - in fact, I got to help again (albeit, two days early, much to my mother's dismay) this year when I was home, which was a real treat.  When I moved into my own apartment last year, I was confronted with my Roommate, who puts Christmas decorations up the moment Halloween is starting.  I went into a complete holiday shell-shock, and at the risk of being a tad dramatic, it did alter how I enjoyed the holidays (they felt too long, and Thanksgiving barely happened).

This year, we compromised and put things up slowly, and we're finally decked out.  We have the upside-down Christmas tree we obsessed about, Leonard the Christmas Pup is out and up, and I couldn't be more happy to come home and see my lights everywhere.

It's weird, learning to decorate on my own.  On one hand, I love being able to do things the way I envision them; on the other, there are certain aspects of decorating with my family that I miss.  My sisters and I would dress up in the lights and tinsel every year.  I had a pair of snowflake ornaments that I made earrings into, and wore them one day a year - decorating day.  We fought each year as to whose turn it was to put my mom's Precious Moments Angel tree topper up, because we could never remember from year to year, and the slip of paper we wrote it on always got lost.

When I was home over Thanksgiving, my mom was seriously bummed that I wouldn't be around to decorate the tree that year.  Before I left, I made sure to put up two ornaments of mine on the tree, with a little note.  She called me later in the day and told me how much she loved it and was glad I could be part of the decorating, if only by sentiment.

Leonard the Christmas Pup makes an appearance every year in my life, and will continue to do so whether Loverman likes it or not.  An outdoor lighting decoration, my Gram bought it on a Black Friday sale in AZ three years ago.  I was slightly heartbroken after having a holiday without her dog, and I was craving a puppy of my own.  She had originally bought the decoration for herself, but I talked about how much I loved it, she re-gifted it to me.  I put him up in my dorm the first year, and he is now up for the second year in this apartment -- he is definitely one of my most beloved decoration items.
Leonard the Christmas Pup


My roommate's cat, Betsey, has her own holiday decor.


Bonus - Christmas card of myself and the sisters at least five years ago.

What are some of your decorating traditions?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

early starts

I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas.  I love the magic of the holidays.  Snow falling gently onto empty sidewalks, illuminated by the warm glow of old-fashioned street lamps - coming home to a house dark except for a lit Christmas tree, lighting the way to the closest light switch, one that you don't bother turning on - driving in the dark, listening to Chrsitmas music and thinking of the ones you love - holiday parties filled with laughter and good food and good friends - sipping steaming hot cocoa while cuddled under blankets in a matching set of PJs and watching a Christmas movie - perfectly wrapped presents under the tree.  All of it.  I love it all.

The actual day can be stressful, and then it's as if the pre-Christmas never quite matched up with the sugarplum images that danced through your head.  As I've been getting older and taking ever more control over my own happiness, I've struggled with how to keep myself happy throughout the holidays, instead of loving the day after Thanksgiving as the first day I can celebrate and then slowly slipping into a holiday doldrum that never meets the insanely high expectations I set.  Well this year, this year I'm doing something different.

I had a night to myself for the first time in awhile; no roommate or Loverman to keep my company, no pressing assignments or places to be in the morning.  Instead of simply binge-watching Netflix and lying on the couch lamenting I don't have food, just ingredients, I binge watched my DVDs of House and made an early start.  I sat down with my wrapping paper, scissors, gifts, and boxes, and I started wrapping.
holiday 2013 - 2

Holiday 2013

holiday 2013 3

It's no secret from my last things I love Thursday (it was on Friday) that I love gift wrapping.  With the whole night ahead of me, I took the time and I wrapped my presents slowly and perfectly and tied them with bows and made gift tags and had an absolutely low-key, creative and inspired night; taking the first step towards getting myself excited for the holidays.  It was the first step towards being at peace with the pre-Christmas struggle of expectations-set-too-high, and have a pre-Christmas that met expectations that can lead to a joyful holiday for myself and those around me.

Is my holiday going to be perfect?  Probably not, nothing really is.  But I'm going to have an amazing time.  One thing that I keep reminding myself, that has been helping quite a lot, is that when I look back to past years, I can always pick out one of the sugarplum moments - the ones that dance through my head the following year and fill me with a craving holiday nostalgia.  This year, I'm vowing to take control and keep myself in a present mindset to enjoy next year's sugarplum moments this year, as they happen.

Happy start of the Holidays! xx

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

One of Loverman's favorite activities is Black Friday shopping.  It's more important to him than his birthday, a Friday off of work, his morning cup of coffee, and probably our anniversary (justkindakidding).  As part of his birthday present, I agreed that even though I would be in my hometown for the actual holiday that we actually celebrate, I would make it back up in time to shop with him late Thursday night/early Friday morning.

Well, lo and behold, the Black Friday gods have changed the laws of Black Friday and starts at 6pm, 8pm, 10pm, and midnight.  In the words of Loverman, "I mean, I had an issue with midnight, and 10pm, but now 8pm and 6pm?  It's sacreligious".  As a compromise with his Black Friday morals, we went out around 10:30.  AND DID I SCORE OR WHAT?

Loverman hardly got anything.  A blu-ray that he later discovered he could already stream, and "Home Alone," which was actually pretty good $3 deal.  But I got the best gift for Little Brother.  He is going to love his remote controlled mud-covered Ford F-150.  Does this not make me the best sister to a 5 year-old?!  I grabbed some last things for my mom, a couple of friends and got myself one of my favorite movies, "Silver Linings Playbook".  I scored.  I got spritzed with some awful perfume by a woman with poor aim in an overcrowded Macy's cosmetics department, but it was worth it.  Online shopping was delightful as well; however, online shopping was limited to must-haves, so I didn't find much.  Loverman lucked out there, picking up some gifts for his mom and himself.

Did you find any good deals?  Tell me!  I love shopping stories!

OH! Did you have a good Thanksgiving?  It was a joy to be back home with my family this year.  It's been three years since I've made it back for the holiday, due to being out of state and staying at school with Loverman's family because of a scheduling conflict, so it was wonderful.  With divorced parents, it came with a fair amount of stress, but a fair amount of stress that was worth it.  I was woken up by Little Brother in the wee hours to watch "Planes" before the parade and the Thanksgiving breakfast Dad made everyone.  It's always good to spend time there, to hang out with him and Little Brother.  At 5, Little Brother is at the age where it is an absolute hoot to be around him.  Some really good ones:
"I'm not going to college.  Where do you go after college?"
"Well, you get a job.  Kaitie is going to college soon."
"But she already has a job, so she shouldn't go to college and leave like you did."  (Hence having to get the best present ever.)

"Did you bring home Hiccup Spike?"  (Referring to my hedgehog.)
"No, I left Hiccup in my apartment at college."
"Taylor, her name is Hiccup Spike."

Then he called my Dad a knucklehead and tried to get out of playing a game by telling a family friend he was 3, then deadpanning he was actually 4.  What a turkey.

Off to Great-Grandma's it was after that, and then straight into the car to drive to Loverman.  Long day, but worth it, even if the Black Friday gods smited (smote? had the gall to smite?) Loverman.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

giving thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving my loves!

Because of the holiday, I will not be posting a things I love Thursday this week. Instead, I want you all to think not of the material things you love this week, but the things you are thankful and grateful for every day of your life.

I'm thankful for the time I get to spend with my family today, for my parents to be able to help me financially so I can drive home to see them for the holiday. I'm thankful for the fact that even though I don't love college, I have the ability to go. I'm thankful for the country I live in and the chances I've had. I'm thankful that I have my best friend and love in my life. I've been blessed time and time again and I try to be thankful everyday.

Give thanks today.

And eat a TON.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

last day of sale.

It is the last day of J.Crew's 25% off winter wear sale!  The BRRR Event!


I try and jump on every sale I can (thank goodness for emails) since I don't work at a store anymore.  I so miss being one of the first to see the inventory, and calculating the items to splurge on.  Now, I just fill up my wishlist (my favorite new site feature) and check for sales as often as possible!

There are TONS of great things for gifts for others, and yourself, that are on this 25% sale - the chevron checker hat, chevron stripe socks, a silk metallic tunic, and a real splurge - the double cloth tipped coat.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, November 22, 2013

things I love Thursday (on Friday)

happy Friday everyone!
I apologize for not getting things I love Thursday done yesterday.  Long story short, it was Loverman's birthday, I tried to cook, and had class, and never once sat down at my computer.

So, if you will please forgive me, I now present things I love Thursday (on Friday) and I hope you all have an absolutely amaze-balls weekend.

- Twinnings Breakfast Medley
I started a new job a couple weeks ago, where they have an absolutely unlimited supply of hot water.  It's just there.  This may be common for many of you, but not I, it is the eighth wonder of the world for me (but not really).  But anyways.  I've been rotating through the different breakfast teas every day, and it has been wonderful.  Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Irish Breakfast and Prince of Wales Teas...yum.  I've always been a fan of tea, especially breakfast ones, but never knew which one I loved enough to buy a whole box of.  WELL PROBLEM SOLVED.  I know consume tea by the gallon and get made fun of for having to go to the bathroom all the time. (Ok, so they haven't started teasing me yet, but I'm sure they will anyday now.)

- Design Darling
I've been a fan of the College Prepster for a couple years now, but only recently have I sat down to read and follow Design Darling.  An absolutely beauitful blog, wonderful online boutique, and a very inspiring and fashionable small business owner, it is definitely a must read.  Mackenzie knows what she's talking about, and she has a certain flair for making you want to stay up late and do inventory with her, or wear an insane amount of navy and pink.  Definitely one of my inspirators/motivators.

Creative Gift Wrapping
A little known fact about me is that my favorite part of the holidays is actually wrapping gifts.  I love to make labels, find gorgeous prints, wrap perfectly, finish with a bow or ribbon, and make picture-worthy piles of matching presents.  I printed my own paper when I was in middle school - ever since, I've continued to try something new each year to surprise others and  myself.  This has been my most searched and drooled over pins lately.  Check it out, it's never too early to get the gifts under the tree!

Pantone Coaster Set
I've been bringing these up subtlely and not-so-subtlely in conversations with Loverman over the last week.  I'm a huge fan of Pantone, and love looking through their color swatches.  I love the cool tones of this set, and they bring a lot of classic style to whatever surface you're protecting from coffee rings.  If you like brighter colors, the original ones an assortment of bright reds, blues, yellows, etc.  They would make a fantastic gift for any design fan in your life, or a fantastic gift for yourself.

- Loverman
Loverman gets to be on my list for Things I Love Thursday (on Friday), but only because Thursday was his birthday.  Only reason.

There are my Thursday loves (on Friday) - what are you loving today?

Friday, November 15, 2013



All packed and ready to go home for an overnight trip with Loverman to see the sisters in their high school musical High School Musical. As an alum of the phenomenal program, I am ecstatic to see what they have in store for the audience tonight.

What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

things I love Thursday.

As a pretty enthusiastic person, I can easily bounce from one thing to the next with an abundance of joy and excitement (No lie - it drives my parents and Loveman nuts!). Because I am the way I am, I constantly want to tell people all of the fun things that I've discovered or am in love with.

So, on every Thursday, I'll be sharing (about) five (maybe six) things with you that have been suffering through my excitement.

-- moleskine planner
I live by my planner - I am lost without it, I color code it, and I need a sturdy one.  There have been years when I went through 2-4 planners just to find the right one.  I think that I hit the jackpot this year.  I love the way Moleskine looks and feels, and the layout of the week is large enough that I can write all of my lists and to-dos, along with birthdays and meetings.

The pocket in the back with the address book is also super handy - great for address or notes (which I'll probably use it for), or anything that gets picked up along the way.

-- bean boots
The weather is getting colder, which means I pull out my boots and wear them every. single. day.  I love the classic look of the Bean Boots, and the Thinsulate ones are especially useful in chilly Minnesota.  I actually tend to wear them year round - they're great to slip on quick if it's been rainy, or even if I'm going to the garden (one day).

-- Let Them Talk
Yes.  Hugh Laurie of everyone's favorite medical drama has not only one, but two albums for our listening pleasure.  I have been absolutely in LOVE with his first album and I listen to it to and from campus, while I'm driving, homework, every day, every time I can... I'm OBSESSED.  Particularly with his rendition of "Jericho" and "Let Them Talk".

-- upside down Christmas trees
The newest design fad is also in my apartment living room.  Almost.  My roommates cat has a thing for Christmas trees, so we decided to hang it from the ceiling.  I've been spending so much time looking at the images of the trees, I cannot wait to get mine decorated.  It's a little complicated to get it set up, but it is definitely going to be worth it come the Christmas holidays.

-- zig zag asian collection: wool scarf
Along with bringing out my Bean Boots for winter, I've also brought out my wool scarves.  I have two from Zig Zag that I purchased at the Weisman Art Museum's gift shop and I love them.  They're the right size to wrap around your neck or simply wear it as a shawl when working at the computer (which I'm doing now!).  The color of the threads is phenomenal, and I won't be surprised if I pick up another this year.  Sorry Loverman.

Monday, November 4, 2013

life & choice kinda rhyme but not really but they're kinda the same.

Mostly because they're both hard.  And they suck.  Not really, I'm really thankful for both of them, but they're tough cookies, you know?

I attended a panel recently on the topic of choice, and why it matters.  There were presenters from three different topics of choice; Dr. Susan Schneider, presenting on the Science of Choice, Dr. Rothman, presenting on How We Choose, and Dr. Vladas Griskevicius, presenting on Decisions: Rational or Irrational.  I was technically working sound for this event, but it was one I was more than happy to be working - choices had been bothering me lately, and I was treated to a new appreciation for choice and what it is.  I was reminded that as much as I hate it, choice is unavoidable, but that humans prefer having choice (albeit limited) over no choice, and that many of us are overconfident in our decision making abilities.  We all have cognitive biases surrounding our decision making, and lately there has been talk of that being our flaw - however, Dr. Griskevicius (who asked us to call him Vlad) argues in his book that having those biases is what sets us apart from animals.  Dr. Rothman talked about experiments on how people make choices, involving mirrors in our shopping carts and kids taking too much Halloween candy unless they see themselves watching them (seriously).  These are just the snaps of what I learned in each presentation.

The discussion portion was where things got really interesting - Dr. John Halberg, who is a consultant on MPR, was our moderator - and I heard how choice and what the audience had learned about choice impacted their daily lives.  Being aware of all of these things has impacted the way I've been making  and thinking about decisions since attending the panel.  I'm more aware of the biases I have when I make decisions, I'm more aware of biases others may have.  I'm careful not to delude myself or dilute the information I'm getting.  I'm looking at how my habits and environment affect my choices and if I'm at a point in my life where I can alter these habits.  I received an onslaught of information and I loved learning all of it.

Which brings me to the big lesson I learned from it all.  Having too many choices often makes me feel out of control, overwhelmed, and anxious.  I tend to shut down and decide that no choice is the best choice.  So when I was offered a part-time position that would turn into a full-time position when I graduate, which would then become an executive management position with a great event marketing company, I freaked out.  It was the first big-girl job I'd applied for, and then it was offered to me, and then I panicked.  What if I took this job, but then my dream job came up?  What if I didn't take this job, but then didn't get a job?  I was suffering from major What-If-itis and to say I was freaking out was an understatement.  I talked it over with Loverman, who didn't say much, and he asked if we could talk about it on the commercial (I probably shouldn't have brought it up during football), so I waited.

By the time the game took a break and the commercial had begun, I'd made a decision.  I wasn't going to take the job.

Yeah, I need a part-time job.  Yeah, I'm going to need a full-time job in 7 months.  But it wasn't for me.

Sure, a great opportunity fell into my lap, and many people would have jumped at the chance, but I had a choice, and I had to trust myself on that choice.  I'm at a point in my life where the chances are theoretically endless, which means I have endless options - of course I feel trapped.  Instead of over-thinking each and every choice I make, I'm attempting to trust my gut.

When I left that voicemail, thanking them for the chance to interview, the amazing offer and opportunity, followed by my apologies for being unable to take the job, I found that I suddenly felt free.  I was free to choose something I love, and I cannot wait for that choice to present itself.

What has been a choice you've been confronted with lately?


Monday, October 14, 2013

today is the first day (of something, as usual)

Have you ever been so insanely motivated, that you don't even know where to begin so you end up watching six episodes of The West Wing and eat a third of a pound of cheese instead?
I'm kind of there.  Except I'm refusing to eat the cheese, and I'm refusing to check in on President Bartlett.
Yesterday, after a wonderful day of shopping with my family, a picnic with Loverman, friends & co., I wound up with the hood of my car up, crying on an exit ramp at the end of a bridge.  After roughly two hours, I got home, smelling of gasoline and wanting to kick myself in the tush for not checking my oil regularly, or thinking that 92 miles is the same as 114 miles and I have enough gas, and generally for not admitting my faults or trying to help out future Taylor.  All I could think of doing was curling up in my blankets, turning on Netflix, and sleeping -- which meant putting off the 16 other things that should and needed to be done.  I suddenly thought of something that had been in an email or blog post that I'd read recently: "What can I do today, right now, to help myself tomorrow/this week/next month/achieve my goals?"  So I stopped throwing myself a pity party and lamenting at how stupid I'd been, I sat up, and I started on things that needed to get done.  That should get done.  That maybe didn't have to be done until Tuesday, but that I could start doing Sunday.
Let me tell you - it worked.  Not like magic, as I was still tired and stressed, but when I went to bed, I felt like I had achieved something.  When I woke up this morning (before my alarm) I felt motivated, because I'd already accomplished part of my to do list for the day.  And maybe, if I keep on top of things, I'm going to feel that way tomorrow, and the next day, and future Taylor is going to love past Taylor and send her flowers.
The hardest thing I've been learning over the last few years is that there is no magic adulthood button.  I can't just be the successful adult-figure I have in my head.  I'm not going to know how to manage my time to do housework, homework, actual work, budgeting, errands, etc. all on the first day.  But I'm trying.  And I'm starting not by helping myself out right now, necessarily, but what can I do, right now, to help myself tomorrow?
So now I sit here.  Full of motivation that I've had all day, ready to check things off of my list of things to do.  I got done everything (nearly) that is due tomorrow.  I'm not going to give in to my normal routine of turning on Netflix when I have nothing to do - I'm identifying what I can do to help me tomorrow.  And if there's one thing that makes me happy, it's achieving something and not being stressed about what is left to achieve.