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Surviving December | Keeping Stress Away

The holiday season is in full swing and with that comes a lot of parties, commitments and stress! Are you seeing everyone? Have you bought all the presents? Are they all wrapped? I feel like I'm eating too much holiday food! These are all thoughts that have gone through my mind and I decided that I wasn't going to let this holiday season get away from me like they have in past years. I truly want to enjoy the season and not fuss over things that don't matter. I wanted to share a couple of the ways that I have been keeping stress away this month! 

Saying "Yes" to all the holiday movies!

There really isn't much on TV except for holiday movies and I'm totally embracing all of them. From Lifetime to of course Hallmark and now with Netflix having their own holiday movies, I watch a couple a week while I'm doing things on the computer or just relaxing! Of course there are the "classics" like The Holiday, Christmas Vacation (which I watched for the first time all the way through a couple weeks ago) & Love Actually, but the one I really love watching every year is the 12 Dates of Christmas which you can find on Netflix! 

Limiting Social Commitments

Maybe it's a little backwards to want to do go to less parties this month, but last year it felt like I had an event every single night of the week and I was exhausted by the time Christmas actually rolled around. I have limited myself to one event per weeknight, which may sound like a limited number, but in order to not run myself ragged, I think this is the best for me! The weekends are a different story - I'm happy to enjoy all the holiday parties during the weekend! 

Wrapping a little bit each night 

I actually really enjoy wrapping presents even though I am terrible gift wrapper, but I get overwhelmed after 3 or 4 presents. What G & I have done is wrapped a few presents here and there. Between Yankee swaps, gift exchanges with friends and family wrapping I definitely get overwhelmed, so it's easier for me to try to get it done ahead of time. When all else fails, I use a gift bag with lots of tissue paper! 

Getting Outside 

It might seem a little crazy to want to be outside when it's super cold out, but the fresh air really does help with feeling overwhelmed. Two of my favorite times of the day are my walks to the train to and from work. Those 10-15 minutes in the crispness of the day really clear my head! 

All the baking 

via
I'm not the best baker, I actually can't really bake anything other than banana bread, but our neighbors are having a baking party this weekend and I think it's the perfect way to enjoy December! Sweets equal the best destresser ever! 

What are some ways you keep stress away during December?

Recently Read

Happy Monday friends! We had a our first snow this weekend in Boston which made for a cozy & very cold weekend. Perfect weather for finishing a couple books!! Hopefully one of these sparks your interest and gives you some books to add to your list!
This post contains affiliate links. Meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The Royal Wedding || This was the second book in the series and I have to say I didn't like it as much as I liked The Royal Treatment. While I thought it was predictable, these are the types of books that you read and know what's going to happen and you're okay with it. I thought it was pretty timely that I was reading this as Prince Harry and Megan Markle had just announced their engagement so I started to picture them as the characters! It was a feel good read, but the Royal Treatment was far more enjoyable. 
The Castaways || This was my least favorite Elin Hildenbrand book I've read so far. I disliked all of the characters so much and thought the story line was almost too out there, even if it is fiction! There is a group of friends that dubbed themselves "The Castaways" over the years they have traveled together, raised their kids together & basically been like family to one another. Greg & Tess are killed when their boat capsizes on an anniversary sail & the secrets that come out following their passing is basically what makes up the book --> not a spoiler, it's in the synopsis. It's not my favorite read, but it was still very well written which I can always appreciate. If you're a fan of Elin's then I think you'll probably like this book as well. 
London is the Best City in America || Pretty excited that this was my final read from Laura Dave. I have enjoyed reading all of her books and ending with her first official novel was just perfect. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why the title of the book is what it is, but at the end the author wraps it up perfectly in a bow! All of Dave's character's are struggling in some way - usually it's just the female but it this book it happened to be Emmy & her brother Josh. As with all of Dave's books there are turns you don't expect but the ones you hope will happen. Emmy's brother Josh is getting married and with 72 hours left until the nuptials he drops a pretty big secret on her that leaves her facing her own questions about why she just up and left her ex-fiance Matt. I think my favorite character in the book was actually Josh & Emmy's mom - she was such a little spitfire & kind of reminded me of my own mom! I am so looking forward to the next Laura Dave book - she's quickly become my favorite author of 2017!
Miranda's Big Mistake || Jill Mansell has a knack for writing really funny women! Miranda is really young and hasn't had the best luck with men. She's trustworthy, falls in love quickly & ultimately ends up falling for a married man who has just left his pregnant wife because he never wanted children! It's predictable, lighthearted and enjoyable. I wasn't really keen on one aspect of the book and the way the writer just cut this person out (you'll understand what I mean if you read the book) but other than that, I did like the feel good nature of the book! 
Before We Were Strangers || This was written by the same author that wrote Swear on this Life which I absolutely LOVED! This author really has a gift for intertwining stories but you never feel lost or confused with what you're reading. A novel about a love that faded, but 15 years later, a chance spotting on the train in NYC and a missed connections write-up on craigslist and Grace & Matt retell their love stories for each other in each chapter from their perspectives. Without giving too much away, you'll either love this book or you'll hate it. 
Who Do You Love || I couldn't decide whether I liked this book or not. Rachel and Andy meet at just eight years old in a hospital in a state that Andy doesn't even live in and against all odds and through three decades they have a way of finding each other. Each chapter is a different year, except the prologue that takes place in almost the present. There were times when you feel for Rachel and other times when you're on Andy's side. There weren't many characters to keep track of but there were so many details interwoven in the book that it wasn't easy to remember what the author was referencing at some points. It's a solidly written book, but nothing that would make it a book you can't put down.  
Without Merit || I'm normally a huge Colleen Hoover fan, but this book fell a little short for me. I think it may have been too YA (young adult) for my liking. Merit and her family are all sorts of messed up, at least from her perspective. Then she meets Sagan and he forces her to look at things in a different way. It takes about 3/4 of the way through the book to actually find out what this secret she's been carrying for so long is, but when she finally spills the beans it unearths even more family drama. One thing I do love about Hoover's books is that there is some sort of additional artistic element to them, in some it's poems, in other's it's song lyrics and in this one it's actual drawings. Overall it was not my favorite Colleen Hoover book, so unless you're a fan of YA fiction, I'd pass. 
I'm on the hunt for some new great authors and books - so please let me know what you've been reading lately! 

Gift Guide | Stocking Stuffers

Hello there friends! I'm back today with my final gift guide of the season and it's all about stocking stuffers. These happen to be my favorite gifts to pick out and if I'm being totally honest, receive as well! I like to gift stocking stuffers that are practical and a little fun - things I know people will use if not right away, then soon!

This post contains affiliate links. Meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  • Pens || If you know me then you know I love pens! If they're colorful makes it even better!
  • Notebooks || Along the same lines I think notebooks are the sorts of things that we all love, but buying for someone else is just as much fun! A three pack of some kind is always a good idea. 
  • PopSocket || If you have not yet picked up a pop-socket for your phone then you should get one for yourself too! I get stopped at least once a day about my pop-socket. It's so handy while on the train to keep my phone from slipping and it gives you a little extra reach for those selfies 😉 You could also use it as a stand to watch videos when you're getting ready! 
  • Nespresso Pods || If you are looking for a gift for someone that owns a Nespresso machine - pods are a great little stocking stuffer! They always come out with special edition holiday flavors and we just tried the "snowball" which has hints of coconut and it's delicious! 
  • Sheet Masks || For the beauty lover, a couple sheet masks for some pampering are a great little gift. They usually run around $5-$6 and aren't quite enough for a gift on their own, but perfect with a few other little things.
  • Satin Bow Ponytail Holder || You've probably seen a few instagram ladies with their hair in a beautiful pony tail with a perfect bow. I for one could not be trusted to tie one of these perfectly with a ribbon so I love that there is one already done for you! 
  • Party Earrings || Sugarfix by BaubleBar which is sold at Target is the cutest little stocking stuffer because not only is the packaging adorable but it's so economical. Most of their pieces are under $15! 
  • Tie Bar || One of my go to gifts for Gary is a new tie! I've gifted him one for the last 8 years! Even though he doesn't wear a suit to work every day, he does get dressed up quite often so it's his favorite way to accessorize <-- he definitely didn't say this, but I imagine that's what he's thinking!
  • Post shave balm || This is Gary's favorite post shave balm and something he doesn't really like to buy for himself for some odd reason! 
  • Magazine Subscription || I actually like to do a year long subscription as a gift for just about everyone on my list! It's fun to get the current issue and let them know they can expect to get it for the next year! 
What do you like to gift in a stocking?! How is your holiday shopping coming along?

Linking up with Owen and Brittany

Closet Remodel | Making a small space functional

Happy Monday friends! How was your weekend? Ours was perfectly low key and we have officially finished all our holiday shopping!! I don't think we've ever been that on the ball with gifts before and I'm excited to start wrapping! My gift from Gary this Christmas is actually my new closet! This was the first big project that we had completed in our house, which is funny to refer to it as a project since the installation took all of 2 hours! After looking at a few options - looking at installation, how measuring works & the final finish of the wood we decided to go with California Closets. I think I've had a fascination with California Closets since the episode of Newlyweds where Nick surprises Jessica with a new closet --> yes I have all the DVD's and still watch this show! I apologize the photos aren't brighter, but it's tough getting natural looking light in a closet! 
I can't believe I'm showing you the photos of the before, but to truly appreciate the transformation it's a must! DISASTER ZONE! Shoes, clothes, purses - everything was haphazardly thrown in and it was a miracle that I could find anything! 
The closet was standard in the sense that it had one shelf for hanging & storage, hence the disaster of trying to make everything fit. Gary would argue that I was attempting to fit too much into this closet, but you'll see that it was all about organization! I would organize my closet at the start of a season and within a couple weeks it would be so disorganized! I wasn't able to keep everything in it's own little section! 

I called California Closets on a Thursday and by Friday we had a consultant out to our house to take measurements and discuss options. I much preferred having someone else responsible for taking measurements! Our consultant was incredibly thorough - he asked me what types of clothes I had the most of, how many shoes did I really want to store, how did I want my purses to be stored, did I care if my long dresses touched the floor. I added that I wanted a valet - a little pullout garment rod that makes outfit planning easier. I also wanted to utilize the tall ceilings in my closet - they are over 8 feet tall and there was so much wasted space I wanted to make sure I was capitalizing on all of it. After about an hour and a half he came up with the below rendering. 
Both Gary and I were really happy with the design & the installation date was set. We had a minor snafu with the installation in the sense that our install guy wasn't sent with the right materials the first time around so after a few back and forth's with managers we were able to get it installed on a Saturday instead of a Wednesday. Aside for this little hiccup everything was very seamless and they actually added in a belt rack for the snafu! Two hours to install and complete, didn't take much time from my day. The shelves in the middle are actually adjustable. I've already moved a couple to a different height to make room for my larger bags. 
The final product includes a 6 separate spaces for use. My favorite of which is definitely the shoes and purse storage! My second favorite the pullout canvas bin for our towels. There was enough space underneath the bin to keep the shoe rack that I had previously. 




I could not be happier with the closet and after almost 3 weeks of using it AND keeping it clean - it's obvious to me that if this was my closet to begin with it would have never looked like the mess that was that first picture! I still have a few more decorative boxes I want to add to my closet that will store shoes & out of season items! Do you have any closet organization tips!?

Gift Guide for the Guys

Happy Wednesday friends! Shopping for Gary has always been easy for me! I keep a running list of ideas throughout the year of things he's mentioned off handedly, whether we walked past something in a store or it was something that caught his eye while watching TV. Like most guys, he's not materialistic and will only replace shoes, clothes or anything else if there's a hole in it or no longer serves a purpose. Whether it's shopping for your dad, father-in-law, husband, boyfriend or just a guy in general - I've rounded up a gift guide for the guys that's equal parts practical as it is fun! I joked with Gary not to read today's post because I may have snuck in a few of his gifts!! 
This post contains affiliate links. Meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  • Echo Dot || I had this on my gift list for the ladies and I think it's an all around great gift!  We're trying to make a few changes to things in our house to make it "smarter" and you control a lot of devices through the dot!
  • Candy Bento Box || If they have a sweet tooth (and even if the don't) these Sugarfina candies are the perfect stocking stuffer! This bento box comes with Martini Olive Almonds, Bourbon Bears and Maple Bourbon Caramels --> I've had the bourbon bears and they are delicious!  
  • Watch Bands for the Apple Watch || This is a repeat gift from me to Gary every year! Since he has the apple watch, I like to surprise him with a band (or two) for his watch! I get all my bands from Amazon for a fraction of the price of the regular bands and the quality is amazing! 
  • Cocktail Syrup || I think a stocked bar cart is great for entertaining and since Gary isn't necessarily a connoisseur of cocktail mixing, these pre-mixed syrups are a great gift. Even better if you get the alcohol needed to make the drink! This is actually a great host gift as well - bring the syrup and the alcohol and you've just made yourself the best guest at their house!
  • Harry's Shave Set || I first shared my thoughts on Harry's razor's back in August, since then not only has Gary purchased the razors again, but I found out my dad is actually a huge fan of their razors and lotions. While it's not the sexiest gift out there, I do think that a little something in the stocking that's practical is always a nice touch! Gary has said the post shave balm is the best he's ever used!
  • Sunglasses || File this under one of the things that guys (at least my guy) doesn't want to buy for himself. I actually made Gary go to the store with me to try on glasses so that I could see the style that he liked best! It's kind of nice knowing that he's already "approved" the gift but doesn't know which one he's getting! 
  • Wireless Headphones || For anyone active wireless headphones are great! Sweat proof at the gym, noise cancelling for working uninterrupted or while traveling. Gary has a pair and doesn't leave home without them! 
  • Classic Fit Buttoned Down Shirt || Gary has this in the "berry washed oxford" and he says it's one of the most comfortable work shirts he owns. It's not stiff & he dresses it up for work with suits or down for when we have a date night! I love that it has a tailored look to it, but without the price tag! 

I also like to give an experience gift like a couple classes at his favorite workout class or concert for someone he's mentioned seeing recently! What are some things you have on your list for the guys in your life?