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Weekending | The one before Christmas

Happy Monday friends!! We are one week out from Christmas and all the gifts have been wrapped, the plans have been confirmed and we're getting pretty excited!! I missed the holiday link up with Andrea a couple of weeks ago, but I still wanted to get in on the fun!

Real or Fake Tree ||
We've had a our fake tree for the last 8 years and it's held up really nicely. As much as I would love to have a real tree, which one day we will, for now and living in the city our fake tree is perfect! 
Favorite Christmas Cookie ||
We actually had a cookie decorating party with our neighbors this weekend and we made my favorite, sugar cookies! I totally failed at taking a picture of the finished products because they were so delicious! 
Home on Christmas Morning or Travel ||
Nothing better than being home on Christmas morning! 
White or colored lights ||
Definitely white lights on our tree!
Do you send Christmas cards ||
Absolutely! I forgot to share our cards this year, so here's a little snap!
Favorite Christmas present received ||
This is a toughie, but for our first married Christmas, Gary actually surprised me with a second wedding band. 
Favorite Christmas present given ||
I'd say the year I surprised Gary with a Nespresso machine. 
Favorite Christmas movie ||
I watch The Holiday every year right after Thanksgiving, but if we're going with a cheesy Christmas movie, then 12 Dates of Christmas is my favorite. You can find it on Netflix!
Early shopper or last minute ||
Definitely an early shopper, but inevitably there is something I'm buying a few days before that I've forgotten, usually to drop into Gary's stocking! 
Favorite Tradition ||
One of my favorite things is that we collect ornaments from our travels to each new place. When we decorate the tree it's so fun to pull them out and talk about the trip and memories we have from it!

Are you getting excited for the upcoming family time? Are all your presents wrapped and ready to go? Hope this week is easy for us all!

Friday Favorites Round Up

Happy Friday friends! I'm so ready for this weekend and a little holiday baking with our neighbors! It's been a little while since I've shared some recent favorite happenings so why not do one more before the end of the year! 
Illustration via this etsy shop. Also, if you look closely she's watching the Hallmark Channel - pretty much the exact replica of what I'll be doing all weekend! 
Last week I attended the Massachusetts Women's Conference with over 11,000 other women across all industries! To say it was empowering would be an understatement. Speakers like Viola Davis and Diane von Furstenburg just have a magical way with words!! I definitely shed a few tears hearing their stories and even went to hear Bethany Frankel speak in a fireside type chat. Overall it was one of the most incredible days of this year and you guys, I got to tell DVF what an inspiration she is to me and how much I love her book!! #yearmade State Street had a replica of the Fearless Girl, that statue that stands in the Financial District of NYC near Wall Street and I took that as my opportunity for a little photo op! 
On Sunday I made my first ever in the oven lasagna with no boil noodles. It was so incredibly delicious and my friend Jackie shared a really easy recipe, but I added onions that cooked in with the meat, but you can loosely follow this recipe. I used cottage cheese instead of ricotta since it tastes very similar to it when it's cooked and I didn't use eggs at all in my version. Gary is a lasagna aficionado and this got very very high marks from him! If you want to make a dish to impress someone with very little effort, try this! 
Credo Beauty recently opened here in Boston and treated me to a complimentary holiday makeup application. All of the product lines that are carried online and in stores is free of harmful ingredients and also not tested on animals. While most of the brands are made in the USA they actually follow the same guidelines as those mandated in Europe, which are much more strict than laws we have in place for cosmetics companies in the US. They also offer a service called "clean beauty swap" where you bring in your current makeup items and they help you find products that are similar and cruelty free. I left Credo with a few products to test out, but I loved the shadow stick that the makeup artist used on me so I picked that up along with the lip whip from Kari Gran! 
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a show you must watch! It's so different from anything that is currently out there and is laugh out loud funny! It's set in late 1950's New York and follows Midge Maisel who seemingly has it all together, except that she doesn't, but what she does have is a quick wit and perky personality to help her make it through. I really don't want to give much away, but not only is the lead actress up for a Golden Globe, but it's also produced by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) so you know there is a lot of fast talking involved! So far not one person I've recommended watching the show to has regretted it! 


That wraps up the week and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! See you back here Monday for weekending

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!
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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