Amazoning *Christmas Edition*

We’re well beyond Christmas, but I thought I’d do a quick recap of my yuletide Amazon-bender that wrecked my credit card in the months leading up to the holiday. Enjoy!

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Everything I ordered ended up being a Christmas gift for someone. The bold product name links to its Amazon page. Nothing is affilitated.

Remington D3190A Damage Control Ceramic Hair Dryer

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Receiver: K

Believe it or not, this was an Xmas gift for K. We both use the hair dryer and the one I’ve had since high school no longer works on the low setting and the “cool shot” is broken. The dogs gifted this to K on Christmas morning by leaving the box on the sink while he was showering.

. . .

La Cubana Wooden Cigar Humidor + Xiker Crystal Humidifier Jar

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Receiver: K

Another gift for K. He’s not a smoker, but he enjoys a cigar around an evening bonfire or when we’re cerebrating a milestone. Since he smokes them so infrequently, he’d been hemming and hawing about getting a humidor. I felt like such a first class gift-er when I ordered this!

. . .

Born to Die + Bankrupt!

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Receiver: Fred

My brother sent out an excel spreadsheet to me, my mom, his wife, her mom, and her sister with assigned Christmas gifts. We had 3 to 4 options per person, but he encouraged us to talk with one another if we saw something assigned to someone else that we wanted to gift him. Let me remind you, he’s an engineer. Ha. ANYWAY, I hate giving people something they know is coming, so I obliged with these two records (one by Lana Del Rey, the other by Phoenix), but I went rogue with his other gifts.

. . .

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride

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Receiver: My mom

I think I need to thank Kristen for this book coming across my radar. As soon as I saw it I knew I was getting it for my mom for Christmas. She’s a fan of The Princess Bride (and Columbo, ha) so I thought it’d be a fun read for her!

. . .

Kate Spade New York: All in Good Taste + That’s Christmas to Me

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Receiver: My Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange partner, Nikki

When Olya & Mattie hosted this swap they used the site elfster. Participants can make a wish list, complete with links to the actual products. That made shopping for Nikki super simple!

. . .

Ello Cole Stainless-Steal Travel Mug

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Receiver: When it ships, my brother-in-law Andy

I bought this mug for my husband’s sister’s husband but it still hasn’t come in yet… (It was out of stocked when I ordered it so it’s fine.) My s.i.l. posted on FB about how her husband and oldest son continually battled over the insulated coffee mugs. Turns out almost half of K’s family then gifted Andy travel mugs for Xmas. #GreatMinds

Anyway, when this comes in (March-ish? ha) it’s going to Andy. I own this mug. YOU need this mug. Everyone does. It’s magical and lovely and the best!

. . .

Coffee Teach Sleep Repeat 11 oz. tea/coffee mug

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Receiver: My friend Kayla

This is a different Kayla than the one I normally talk about on here. (That Kayla is a social worker, this one is a teacher. Obvi.)

. . .

Sequin Candy Cane Black Ugly Christmas Suit Jacket

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Receiver: N/A

As mentioned here, K bought this for himself. We were invited to an ugly sweater bowling event in December and my husband doesn’t halfass costumes.

It’s a terrible picture, but for those who requested, here he is:

. . .

The Manitou (White Indian Series, Book XVI)

 

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Receiver: K’s Grandpa Bud

K’s grandpa is the most intense reader I’ve ever met. He has over 900 books packed away in boxes under his bed and he devours +300 page novels faster than anyone I know. I was browsing the book store for a Christmas gift for him and consulted my father-in-law for advice. He said Bud had been looking for a particular book for a long time & he (my f.i.l.) found it online. Since they already had a gift for Grandpa, he told me I should get it. So I did. Grandpa Bud’s reaction to the book was so fun. He said he’d given up hope of finding it and just moved on. (I think he was on book 22 in the series.) It felt so good to make his day with this $4 purchase!

. . .

Guardians of the Galaxy (dvd)

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Receiver: My Uncle Ernie

My mom’s brother is a tough one to shop for. He works a lot, avoids collecting junk, and keeps unusual habits (ski patrol, travel, bee keeping). For some reason I decided he’d like this movie. (I love it.) Turns out I think I was right- my mom said he watched it twice in the week following Xmas.

. . .

That felt like a lot… And it didn’t include the stuff I got from +5 other online retails. Honestly, I’m a sucker for free shipping with Amazon Prime…

What kinds of things did you gift at Christmas?

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Chats with K

If this is your first time ever coming to my blog then you should know that K is my husband.

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. . .

K: So… when do you think your bangs are going to grow out again?
*I slowly turn my head and glare at him*
K: …….asking for a friend.

. . .

Pillow talk…
Me: I’m going to get my brother a Foot Cardigan subscription for Christmas.
K *lightly punches my pillow*: You’re a jerk! I wanted that!
Me: Kyle… I can get more than one person a subscription.
K: Yeah but you won’t. You love him more than me.
*turns over in bed and pouts*

For the record, they both got a subscription.

. . .

I get a text from K while we’re both at work…
K: What’s your Amazon Prime login?
*I tell him and 10 minutes go by…*
Then I receive an email notification that my purchase has been confirmed:

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“Sequin Candy Cane Black Suit Jacket”

. . .

K: I feel like this reminds me of you:

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Me: Ha! Yeah… I saw a meme the other day that said, “Wife goes out for milk and comes home with a puppy. Husband says, ‘I thought you were going for milk!’ Then the wife says ….” I forget how it ends.
K: That was so terrible.

. . .

Life’s an adventure with this guy… ha.

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What I Read… 2017 vol.1

Yes, I started one of these books in early December and finished them both in January. Yes, there are only two books here (December was a hectic month). Yes, I’m proud because I polished off one in three days (which is good for me, OK?! ).

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Last year I organized these posts by month, but since I’m linking up with Jana and Steph on the second Tuesday of each month for Show Us Your Books I think I’m going to numerically categorize them, thus the wonky title. Alright, let’s do this…

Book Rating

FYI: Above is how I rate the books. Below I’ll include a brief summary, why I picked up the book, and what I thought. Then I give my oh-so-valuable opinion on whether or not you should read it and why. Like I said, there are two in the queue for this month. Images link to their GoodReads page (let’s be friends!).

The One by Kiera Cass || ★★★/5 what_i_read
Summary: Down to the last four girls, it’s time for America to decide what she wants and how hard she’s going to fight to get it. With a former love still in the palace and rebels trying to get in, the decisions facing America, Maxon, and the remaining girls aren’t easy ones.  | Why I Read It: Slowly but surely making my way through the series. Here are my thoughts on books one & two. | What I Thought: I was happy when this book ended. (This book wasn’t a 2 star but it wasn’t 3 either… call it 2.5) Love triangles, lack of honesty, and neatly tied endings tend to irritate me. I like America’s tenacity and I’m a fan of her & Maxon as a couple, but I could feel her creating problem where there were none (or avoiding things that should be resolved). I don’t know- that just annoyed me. Also, the ending was so neat & tidy with certain people dying, “true love” saving the day, and all shady debts instantly forgiven. (I think I’m being vague enough that’s not a spoiler.) Maybe it’s the YA-ness that I can’t get past. Whatever. I’ll be going for the fourth book since the story line is changing.
You Should Read It Because… you’re working on the series and it brings closure to Maxon’s round of the selection.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan || ★★★★★/5 what_i_read2
Summary: A story of four Chinese mothers and their four Chinese-American daughters. | Why I Read It: My friend Amanda recommended it, then I used it as a pick for the #SCWBC16. | What I Thought: To be honest, I was halfway through the book and almost stopped. It’s challenging to keep the women straight and that frustrated me. That said, if I’d have read it in a shorter amount of time I think I’d have been fine. Or if I’d have kept a literary journal. Regardless, every story told was captivating and I felt empathy for both the moms and the daughters. And then the last page made me cry; that’s when I knew this was getting five stars. The book is divided into four sections, with four stories in each. POV switches between mothers and daughters and we get a look at their lives both through their own eyes and the eyes of their mom/daughter. All of the moms suffered hardships in their lives and all of the daughters struggled with being raised under Chinese expectations in an American culture. I ended up liking and disliking characters at different times, but in the end I understood why they all were the way they were.
You Should Read It Because… you’re looking for a book filled with stories of “how it used to be” and how that comes to affect future generations.

So way back I started on Megan’s #SCWBC16. Here’s how I’m doing:
|5 points| Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long: The One by Kiera Cass
|10 points| Read a 2016 finalist for one of the following literary prizes: National Book Award, Man Booker or Man Booker International: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
|10 points| Read a brand-new release: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
|15 points| Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
|15 points| Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
|20 points| Read a modern retelling of a classic: Winter by Marissa Meyer
|25 points| Read a book with an alcoholic beverage: The Whiskey Affair by Raymond Armstrong
|30 points| Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name: Tender Grace by Jackina Stark
|30 points| Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects: Etta Place by Gail Drago & Etta by Gerald Kolpan
|40 points| Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book: After Alice by Gregory Maguire & The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory.

So I have 35 out of 200. I think I’ll finish at least one, maybe two, more before this challenge ends.

Additionally, this is the first month for Erin’s Book Challenge (#MyFav)…
| 5 points | Freebie: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
| 10 points | Starts with the letter “W”: Winter by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Six words in the title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
| 15 points | Has a (mostly) green cover: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | A homonym in the title: The One by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | By your favorite author: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
| 25 points | Set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
| 30 points | A “Rory Gilmore” book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
| 30 points | From a genre that you’ve never read/rarely read (*thriller*): The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
| 35 points | With time travel: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

20 out of 200 points. I’m determined to finish this challenge this time. Currently I’m reading Winter and The Magician’s Nephew.

Now I’m off to see what you’ve read this time around! Linking up with Steph and Jana!

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Life According to Steph

Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You No Lies

I feel motivated in January and yet I can’t decided what to write about or share.
Until I figure that out, here’s a fun little survey:
What are you completely bored of in life right now? 
Nothing. Life always has something interesting to offer.
What is your favorite scented candle?
I love pine & fresh scents (like cotton or laundry).
What movie do you laugh at the most?
I love Talladega Nights.  I’ve seen it a million times and I still laugh. Also, the 6th HP movie pre-cave scene.
What is the last song you listened to?
“I’m Alive” by Kenny Chesney & Dave Matthews.
What’s one thing you still have from your childhood?
Bunny.
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What was your least favorite subject in school?
Math.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Flying or telekinesis.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
Compliments on my writing. Also, my dad once complimented my calves (which sounds weird, but it made me feel strong) & a friend complimented my skin. The skin one meant a lot because she didn’t necessarily mean the complexion (which is terrible), but that it was soft and youthful. That was nice.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
Probably studying in India. Also backpacking in the mountains one weekend in college.
What’s one thing you need to have in your fridge at any given time? 
…wine.
If you could raid one woman’s closet, who would it be?
Olivia Munn #obsessed
If you could teach one subject in school what would it be?
History.
What is your favorite movie?
Clue, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Mummy.
Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram, I guess.
Dogs or cats?
I love them both, but I will always have dogs.
Dolphins or koalas?
Dolphins. They’re so smart and playful!
Bird-watching or whale-watching?
Definitely whale-watching! It was such a cool experience this past summer.
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Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Snail. Alligator. Turtle. None of which I’m dying to try again.
What’s your favorite band?
DMB, Panic! at the Disco, Fallout Boy, Old Dominion, Foo Fighters. (Like that weird mix? Haha.)
What country do you wish to visit?
England, Egypt, Germany.
What’s your favorite color?
Yellow. Black, grey, & purple closely follow.
Least favorite color?
Pink.
What color dress did you wear to your prom?
A periwinkle/silvery one junior year. A sleek orange & black one senior year.
Blow-dry or air-dry?
I usually get the process started blow-drying, then let it air dry.
Pilates or yoga?
YOGA.
Jogging or swimming?
I love to swim, but I don’t get to very often anymore.
Best way to decompress?
A nap. Or some Miss Fisher’s. Maybe a book & a bath with wine and a candle.
What’s the best thing to happen to you this year (2016)?
My brother’s wedding. Changing jobs at the end of the year.
Where would you love to live?
I like where I live. If I had to leave the country, I’d go to Switzerland. If I could stay in the country I’d probably move to Columbus.
What’s your midnight snack?
Whatever I can find… A cookie, cheese, a slice of bologna. I’m not picky. (In college it was Doritos.)
What do you usually order at Starbucks?
Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Caramel Brulee at Christmas. PGTL in summer.
Who is the last person you texted?
My mom.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Dogs. A loyal support system. A creative outlet (i.e. writing, scrapbooking, blogging).
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Usually around 3am I’m letting Lylee out because she’s an a$$hole.
What is the question you get asked the most?
“What are their names/breeds/age?” because I’m either always mentioning my dogs or I have one with me.
What’s one word you use too much?
“OK.” I say it when I have nothing to say or when I don’t really know how to respond. Mostly to K and my parents. I picked it up from Amy on The West Wing.
Would you describe yourself as messy or neat?
Neat. K is the messy one.
What karaoke song would you sing without needing the monitor?
So many… Let’s go with “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate since I’d need to be intoxicated to even consider karaoke.
What’s one skill you wish you had?
Faster reading. Fluent in German. Faster at crunching numbers mentally.
What is the geekiest thing about you?
Probably the HP obsession.
. . .
Pick a few and answer them in the comments! Or just repost your own survey if you feel so inclinded  🙂
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Coffee & Chill

Welcome to the first post of the new year! I’m writing this from my new desk in my new office at my new job 😁

As I mentioned on Friday, I’m starting 2017 with a few changes. First of all, posts are going to come at you Tuesday/Thursday instead of MWF. Feel free to comment whenever, though. I’ll try to respond a little more promptly this year, too!

Also, the blog is staying “Life as Louise” but I’m going to start signing off as Audrey– which is actually what I go by in real life. If you want to stick with “Louise” in comments and what not that’s fine with me, but I figured it’d clear up the confusion if I went with my name 😊

Now here’s a little coffee break catch-up post to begin 2017, similar to my one from Jan. 2016!

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If you’re curious, it’s been so good so far with the new job. Sure, we’re only two days in, but I’m really happy about this switch. We’ve settled on the title of “office manager” for me. To be totally real with ya, there are only two people in the office- K and myself. Since he’s the boss, I’m technically not overseeing or managing anyone. That said, my job title might as well be do-all-the-things manager because that’s essentially my job description. (Everything but sales and design- that’s K’s job.)

I fell off the reading wagon at the end of 2016. I’m determined to finish The Joy Luck Club soon and I’ve just started into a book for Erin’s challenge. Hopefully I get my mojo back with these two reads! If we were chillin’ with coffee I’d asked what your first book of 2017 is/will be?

This summer our plan is to visit DisneyWorld with my parents, Fred & Xtina, and family friends. I’ve convinced K that we should take a fall trip, too. I think we’ve narrowed down our options to a cruise or an all-inclusive resort. We’ve done both, so we’ll make a decision closer to time on which place we want to go. Do you have any vacations planned for 2017?

In 2015 we attended NINE weddings. K was a part of two of them. I thought the big wedding wave had past, but this year we’ve already got two on the docket and two couples close to us got engaged on Christmas day. We are definitely not out of the wedding-woods. Haha!

Did you get any fun stuff for Christmas? If we were on a coffee date I’d be asking all about your gifts! My husband got me some great shirts and a food processor. My mother-in-law got me the second illustrated HP book & a wooden salad bowl. My parents also got me a food processor (oops!) and new winter bedding. I’m part of a great gift-giving family, but my favorite part is watching them open the things we bought for them.

On Friday I mentioned some 2017 goals, but over the weekend I came up with a real, concrete resolution. In 2017 I’d like to finally kick the bad habit of biting my nails. I’ve been do it since I was 7 with a brief hiatus during my four weeks in India. (The unavoidable filthy and dust was excellent motivation.) If we were out for coffee I’d ask if you had any tips… I’ve tried the rubber band and the bad tasting polish. Do you have any bad habits you need to kick?

I went grocery shopping on Sunday and picked up some southern butter pecan creamer. I’d totally make you try it on our coffee date!

I won’t lie… it feels weird to post this on a Tuesday. We’ll see if I can adjust 😉

Since we’re so close to Thursday I’ll link-up with Gretch & Kristen!

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What's New With You

A New Chapter

I know I teased on Wednesday about big news today. I hate when people do that so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer…

I quit my job.

To give a little background: In May of 2013 I started a job with an appraisal company as a writer. It’s a small company with 12-ish employees (they’ve come and gone over the last three years). It was a great job with wonderful people- I’m very, very appreciative to have spent the last +3 years of my life there. I’ve never had to resign from a job where I liked my boss, enjoyed my co-workers, and had relatively no complaints about what I did- it was tough to do, emotionally. Today is my last day.

So where am I headed?

The stars have aligned and K offered me a job at our company. (I say “our” but really he’s been the one building it for the last four years.) One of his administrative employees is leaving the company and his position isn’t one that can go unfilled. K is changing hats and taking over sales (in addition to designing the products) and I’m taking over any and all administrative/HR/accounts/social media work. (This is the company.)

“I could NEVER work with my spouse…”

I’m very excited for the switch. I’m glad that I don’t have to forfeit the flexibility that I had with my old job and I love the guys that work for K (which includes my father-in-law). Plus, I get to bring Enzo with me whenever I want!

Am I nervous to work along side my husband? No. So many people have asked me this or raised an eyebrow when we’ve told them the plan. Building a business was hard, but we were careful to put one another first throughout the years- I don’t see that changing. If you know us, you know that we are both ridiculously stubborn and bullheaded. But you also know that A) we’re perfectionists and B) we understand one another without having to exchange words. So honestly, I’m not concerned. My job is only being done by me- I’m not being micromanaged. I think this is going to work out well for us.

So that’s that. On to some 2017 goals/resolutions!

2017-goals

Be Healthy.
I hate the idea of dieting. I like to enjoy food- regardless of the calorie count. That said, I know there are millions of yummy & healthy meals out there, and I’d like to make more of them. Also, I need to get my body moving. This is a vague goal, but I think y’all know what I mean.

Feel Less Guilty About Downtime.
I am the person that can’t lay on the couch all day staring at the TV with nothing to do. I feel guilty reading more than a chapter when there’s a hamper of dirty laundry in corner. I never take the time to write when I’m home because my mind won’t quiet down about all the chores. So I’m going to work on turning off the responsibilities and turning on the relaxation.

Read more.
Last year I read 25 books. This year I’m aiming for 40.

Become a Morning Person.
My morning routine is ridiculous (a.k.a. nonexistent). This is the year I stop rolling out of bed at 7:30 for an 8 am clock-in and I start brewing some coffee, enjoying my shower, and avoiding the snooze button. *Yes I’m working for K, but he still expects me to be at work on time!

Get on Schedule.
What I mean is… figure out meal planning, get the house on some kind of cleaning schedule, figure out a walk/bath/grooming routine for the dogs. Despite my downtime resolution, we need a little more order and routine in our house.

Last year I made the following goals : Start running | Learn to cook more (vegetarian) meals | Find a word for 2016 | Read & write more | Volunteer
(Here’s the original post for these) Quick summary… I did not start running or writing more, but I did find a few new recipes, read more books, pick a word (“embrace”) and find a place to volunteer. So as Jen would say…

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Word of the Year

Last year I chose the word “embrace” and it was fitting. I learned to embrace the nothingness between life’s big moments. (I’m terrible with downtime/limbo/lack of progress.) I learned to embrace new career opportunities and spontaneous home maintenance and last minute car purchases and random vacation pit stops. I’m ending the year with a messy house but I’ve got a perfect partner and happy dogs and a warm bed- so embracing the now and the waiting and the surprises has paid off.

I don’t have a word/phrase for 2017 yet…

2016 Summary

What can I say about this year… It was a pretty stationary year for us. Some highlights included Elliot’s 1st & my grandma’s 80th birthday party, our 3rd wedding anniversary, two NASCAR races (Bristol, TN & Loudon, NH), Fred & Christina’s wedding, new cars for both of us, some yoga, lots of family, new front yard landscaping, spending almost every day with K, meeting business milestones, cuddling the dogs, going to movies and dinners and showers and bachelor/ette parties with friends, two trips to the east coast, and concerts with the husband and friends.

2016

* The end of 2016 is weird for us… We’re in the middle of career transitions, we lost a close friend on Christmas day, and we’re slowly emerging from a long-running limbo into a new normal. I’m really hoping that 2017 brings some progress and success. I could use a break from the sadness and shock. The end of 2016 was as glum as the entire year. I’m hopeful 2017 will be infinitely better for us and for you ❤︎

That was a lot of information and news… Sorry about all that. I promise I’m done until 2017 😉 Also, in 2017 I’m going to try out a Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule. (Typically I post MWF.) We’ll see how the two-a-week thing goes!

Have a happy new year, my friends!

Charlie Brown NY

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Winter Movies that Aren’t Christmas Movies

This week is always confusing to me… I still feel festive, but Christmas is over and I don’t know if holiday music is still appropriate… Also, the Type-A planner in my brain wants me to take down the tree & decorations, but New Years still feels Christmas-y and festive so I’d actually like to leave it up. I don’t know- it’s just a really confusing week for me each year…

Additionally, I am at work this week but K gave his boys the week off… which I know is the norm for some businesses. Our house is a mixture of vacation and normalcy (and I’m stuck on the wrong side, ha).

Maybe you have some downtime this week? If so, here are some winter movies that aren’t actually Christmas movies to keep you entertained!

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)winter_movies_1

Trading Places (1983)winter_movies_2

Edward Scissorhands (1990)winter_movies_3

The Mighty Ducks (1992)winter_movies_5

Balto (1995)winter_movies_4

I came up with this topic a few days ago but didn’t jot down the movies I was thinking of at that moment. Oops. I’m sure there are a million more I’m missing… What are some winter non-Christmas movies that you enjoy watching?

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On Friday I’m announcing some 2017 resolutions and goals, plus a pretty big life change for us next year (nope, not pregnant ). So come back on Friday!