Live Your Best Holiday Life Finale

As I mentioned earlier this month, Alexandra and Shea hosted this mindful month-long challenge and I decided to participate. Their LYBHolidayL challenge was a relaxing and healing way to take on November and the holidays 🙂 Now that it’s over, here’s how I finished the month out! (Check out the first half here!)

To kick us off, here’s the second half of the gratitude log:

November 16 – Set a bedtime alarm to prioritize sleep.
We dropped the ball on the 16th because we were catching up on the last few episodes of The Mindy Project, but we’ve been going to bed around 10pm every night which has been good for us!

November 17 – Share a gratitude quote on Instagram that speaks to you, inspire others!

November 18 – Take a load of items you no longer use to Goodwill/another thrift store!
After the move I made a pile of donation items. Of course I haven’t done anything with them. Until today 🙂

November 19 – Go for a fall walk
This day was m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e. I definitely didn’t go on a hike. I went shopping. Ha. But next month I’m doing a girls’ weekend at a cabin with my friends & I’ll take my fall/winter walk then!

November 20 – Allow yourself a small indulgence this week (a sweet treat, a long bath, an item from your wish list)
I might have grabbed a Three Musketeers while checking out at the grocery store.

November 21 – Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
My nails are partially gelled (because I picked some of it off), but my toes were holding on to polish from… September? I didn’t repaint them, but I did strip the polish off my feet and give my toenails and cuticles some love.

November 22 – Unexpected color combo: pumpkin & blush
I had no blush items in my closet. K and I tried to take a mirror selfie just to record my outfit for the day, but we obviously need some practice. Lylee looks straight up lost.

November 23 – Put your phone away and just be present today… Facebook and Instagram can wait
Sooo… I kept my phone away as far as texting, IG, and FB were concerned… but Animal Crossing just released their Pocket Camp app and I’d be lying if I said I avoided that all day 😉 In my defense, I bonded with my cousins and K’s siblings and cousins over the app!

November 24 – Take a few minutes to look at old photos and reminisce
I’m in the process of setting up my office at home and every time I open a box or folder I find senior pictures of friends or prom pics of K and me. So sweet 🙂

November 25 – Have a hot cocoa date with your significant other, best friend, or other loved one
K and I woke up early to hit a hardware store. We swung by Starbucks for some cocoa (for him) and a latte (for me) before we made the trek!

The gel on my thumb is still intact so it makes for good pics 😉

November 26 – Call, text, FaceTime, etc. a friend or family member that you are not able to see this holiday. They’ll be glad to know that you are thinking of them!
As strange as it sounds, almost all my family lives near me. My uncle lives in St. Louis but he was home and we had a Thanksgiving lunch with him this day! Coincidence? I think not!

November 27 – Hand write a letter or note telling someone how grateful you are for them & why
Done!

November 28 – Discuss with family existing ideas for new holiday traditions, planning ahead will make pulling it off next month easier!
My brother & his wife live two hours away but come home for Christmas Eve and morning. This month we discussed his plan and now I know when he’ll be around and what dates we’ll have him in town for celebrating! (They head to her family for Xmas night and the days that follow.)

November 29 – Schedule 15 minutes to de-stress, break out that grown up coloring book
These are my favorite kind of puzzles to do. I can sit and fill these in for hours. De-stressing with a fill-in puzzle is the perfect 15 minute break!

November 30 – Try a new coffee, tea, or coffee creamer
I bought a new amaretto creamer! I don’t usually put anything but milk or half&half in my coffee, but it’s been a nice treat!


Thank you so much, Alexandra and Shea, for hosting this challenge! I definitely fudged some stuff in the second half, but the daily challenges were a reminder in self care and preservation. I definitely needed that this month.

Next month they’re keeping the fun going with these prompts!

I’m excited to join in when I can 🙂

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A Christmas Movie List

I was typing out the Freeform 25 Days of Christmas movie list as I obsessively do every year and I thought to myself, ‘I should make an ultimate Christmas movie list for my blog!’

This isn’t an official challenge and you don’t need to keep track or put any pressure on yourself to finish (or even start!) this list, but I thought it’d be fun. I’ll probably report my progress some time at the end of the month. (And if you watched some of these in November it totally counts. I would never restrict Christmas cheer to December!)

Feel free to play along if you want to!

Claymations:
A Year Without a Santa Claus (AV) (F)
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (F)
Jack Frost (F)
Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (F)
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (F)

Animated/Kids:
The Nightmare Before Christmas (N) (F)
The Polar Express (AV) (F)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (HBO go)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (AV) (ABC go)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (F)
Arthur Christmas (F)

The Classics
White Christmas (N)
It’s A Wonderful Life (AV)
Miracle on 34th Street (AV)
Holiday Inn
The Bishop’s Wife

The Contemporary Classics
Love Actually (N)
The Family Stone
The Holiday (N) (AV)
Jingle All the Way
Serendipity (N)
Trading Places

The Overly Played:
A Christmas Story (AV)
The Santa Clause [bonus points for each sequel watched] (N) (F)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [uncensored, of course] (F -censored)
Home Alone (HBO go)
Elf (AV) (F)

Half-Hour Specials:
The Bells of Fraggle Rock
The Little Drummer Boy
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (F)
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas [animated]

BONUS: Weird Animated Movies From Our Past That We Barely Remember:
Babes in Toyland
The Nutcracker Prince
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Edit… [Find it on: (H) hulu, (N) netflix, (AV) amazon video, (F) freeform]
Some of these might not be free. And some might be incorrect. Hey, I tried.

While I didn’t include Die Hard, it can be found on Amazon Video 😉

I know I’m missing a million movies. What are some of your favorites?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel like we were so overdue for a holiday, ya know? Thanksgiving arrived just in time.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by friends or family or pets or strangers- whatever or whomever you have that make you feel loved and grateful.

I addition to all the normal stuff (husband, dogs, fam, etc.), I’m incredibly thankful for the blogging community that I find myself immersed in daily. From the random packages to the planned gift swaps, from my blogger pen pal group to the people I email with and befriend on Facebook… I’m just really grateful for you all ❤︎

If you find yourself here over the holiday/weekend, I hope you know that I’m glad you’ve stopped by. If you’re looking for something to read while you wait for the guests to arrive or the turkey to cook or the bloating to subside 😉 be sure to check out these posts:

Have a great Thanksgiving & weekend!

To My Friends & Family

I am head-over-heels in love with this season. I enjoy dreary weather, I like the cold, and I live for the last three months of every year. I know there are plenty of people like me out there, but I also know there are not.

In addition to the daily chaos and hardships of life, the holidays add stress for people. Moms and dads feel pressure to make their homes magical for their kids. Bloggers see pictures of other bloggers’ decorated trees and hearths and homes. Instagram is filled with tightly wrapped presents and perfectly decorate cookies. I saw Bad Moms Christmas in theaters a few weeks ago and the premise- people (moms) are under a ton of stress to make the holidays perfect- is so true. Hell, people are under stress 365 days a year to make their lives (seem) perfect!

Right now I feel like a lot of my friends- real life and in the blog world- are fighting their way through tough ass seasons. Unfortunate health diagnoses or slow healing-injuries, parents pulling their hair out over rebellious toddlers or cranky babies, sick pets and struggling friendships or relationships and turmoil within the family… Everyone is going through something and it hurts my heart to see my loved ones plagued with these struggles.

I struggle with that fact that some people just aren’t happy. We only get one life to live and the idea of mucking our way through in a state of constant unhappiness makes me so upset. No one can be sunshine and rainbows all the time, but in general I want people to be joyful. I’m one of those people who feels like the weight of everyone’s happiness falls on my shoulders and, while I know that’s untrue and unhealthy, it affects me deeply when my friends are down and out.

I can’t control you or your life or the things that happen to you, but I do know that what you’re going through is a season and seasons pass. The Christmas season is a wonderful one for me, but it won’t stick around forever. The next season will be better or worse and have it’s own arsenal of curveballs, but it will arrive and I will deal with it and, eventually, it will pass. And with every season we learn something new.

So, my friends, don’t fret. This season will pass. Whether you wait it out or turn the page yourself, you will come out on the other side and things will be different. Perfect? No. But it’ll be different and you can look back (or not look back), and be grateful for where you are now. Love yourself and give yourself grace along the way. Practice kindness and accept help from others. I guarantee you are loved by someone (possibly me!) and that person is rooting for you- whether you know it or not.

If you’re reading this and you’re a close friend and you feel like you’re struggling, I hope you’ll reach out. I know the holidays can get dark and overwhelming but I promise I’m always free for a phone call or text exchange or mailed Christmas greeting. There’s always room around our holiday table and I definitely don’t mind a dinner date with a friend ❤︎

Try not to spend the holidays (or your life) faking a smile- find a way to crack a genuine one. You don’t have to have a perfect tree or a perfect home or a perfect Instagram. You’re loved just the way you are and you’re doing a great job. Life is difficult and you’re doing it- be proud of yourself.

Live Your Best Holiday Life Update

(or LYBHolidayL from here on out.)

Alexandra and Shea are hosting this wonderful, mindful, month-long challenge and I’m doing my best to slow down and participate. October was a hectic & rough month for me. I had fun, but it was at the expense of my patience and sanity. I’m determined to finish out the year in a better state mentally. Alex and Shea’s LYBHolidayL challenge has helped so much with that. Since we’re halfway through, I wanted to share an update!

November 1 – Make an effort to write down one thing you are grateful for every day or week

November 2 – Read this article about raising Thankful kids

November 3 – Do something to welcome the Thanksgiving season
I packed up the Halloween decor and brought out the fall and winter stuff (but nothing too Christmasy yet). We have some Thanksgiving-themed decorations so I’m letting those hog the spotlight for a while. 🙂

(also includes day 1 & 2 of gratitude!)

November 4 – Make pumpkin waffles for breakfast/brunch/breakfast for dinner
Kyle doesn’t like pumpkin flavor so he got french toast.

November 5 – Shop your closet and try to come up with a couple of new outfits from old pieces
I’ve seen other bloggers try this. It was fun to take the time to put these together!

November 6 – Give back this month: decide as a family how to “give back” to your community
It’s not much, but this year when Christmas shopping I will say “yes” any time a cashier asks if I want to round up my change or donate a dollar to xyz organization. Also, our holiday cards came from paper culture and they plant a tree for every order 🙂

November 7 – Schedule in 30 minutes to curl up with a good book
This was great timing. We left on the 8th for a business trip so I needed the reminder to just STOP and relax for a bit with a book.

November 8 – Take a Break: Get your Hygge on
I bought both the Hygge book AND this activity book a while ago. I worked on some puzzles during our drive to Indy since I couldn’t do anything in our home while on the road.

November 9 – Let go of one thing you feel obligated to do, attend, or complete this month.
There’s a Christmas tree festival in my town that happens every year during this week. I try to go every year and I feel like I missed a crucial party of preparing for Xmas when I forget about it or don’t have time to go. This year I’m just saying the heck with it 🙂 I don’t want to go so I’m not gonna.

November 10 – Treat yourself to a new, yummy-smelling candle
I had to postpone this one until we were home, but I finally lit my new Spiced Apple Toddy candle from B&BW!

November 11 – Clean out your fridge & get it holiday food influx ready!
I actually did this one early! Before we left I cleaned out the fridge for the house/dog sitter!

November 12 – Give someone an unexpected gift
We came home from Indy with extra stickers and lanyards so I took them to my grandma’s house and gave my cousins some of our new merchandise.

November 13 – For today, clear your to-do list of all the non-fun things unless they are absolutely essential!
Since we spent 5 days on the road with customers and clients we decided to nix the alarm clocks this morning. I consider waking up to an alarm to be very un-fun.

November 14 – Start making a holiday gift list
Already started the list AND the shopping 🙂

November 15 – Get started on an Advent calendar, or a similar project for another holiday celebration!
Stephanie shared some AWESOME advent calendars… so I think I might need one of those. I’m also brainstorming some other cute Advent or Christmas countdown activities!


At the end of November I’ll share a final post 🙂 Until then, I invite you to join in (even just for a day or two) and slow down this holiday season!

What I Read… vol. 11

I participate in Erin’s Book Challenges & when I first started doing it I was barely making time to read for pleasure. In high school I devoured books, but then college happened and I felt guilty reading anything that wasn’t for a class. My habit of pleasure reading went into hibernation. Thanks to Erin, I’ve been slowly but surely reading more and more over the last few years. I’m no 12-books-a-month kind of reader, but hitting 3 in a month makes me feel good. All that to say, I didn’t finish the challenge this time around, but I’m enjoying books and reading for pleasure and I don’t mind that I gave up on the challenge. I plan to complete her challenge in its entirety soon, but moving houses and summertime stress just didn’t allow for that this time. Thank you for being an amazing, wonderful, gracious host, Erin!!

Also, happy birthday to my dad!

What_I_Read_blog

And now I’m linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!! (Happy Anniversary last month, ladies! Sorry I forgot to say anything!)

On to the books. My rockin’ husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday so you’ll hopefully see some NetGalley books around these parts! For now, it was a pretty slow reading month.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie | ★★★/5 
Summary: When the wealthy Emily Inglethorp is murdered in her own bed, surrounded by family and staff, Hercule Poirot is on the case to solve who dun it. | Why I Read It: I’ve found that I really enjoy Christie’s writing and I plan to make my way through the Hercule Poirot series. | What I Thought: While Hastings drove me right up a tree (he was such a naive, over confident, horny creep IMO), I loved Poirot. He was an absurd little character, but the mystery made sense to me once it was all explained. And I never even came close to guessing the outcome.
You should read it because… you enjoy a classic mystery with a twisty twist and quirky characters. No thriller mystery here.

DNF: West with the Night by Beryl Markham
I might come back to this book someday, but I wasn’t feel it from the time I picked it up. Good stories, but not a pace I enjoyed (for now).

Erin’s Challenge ended Oct. 31st at 11:59pm…

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I ended with 135 points. I can’t wait for the winter challenge!

What did you read this month?

Life According to Steph

Amazoning

I’ve posted about my Amazon purchases before, but it seems like they always appear a week or so after Christmas. I wanted to share my pre-Christmas purchases this time. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up after the holidays 😉 Thank you Rebecca Jo for the post inspiration!

Lately I’ve bought…

Desert Essence Whitening Plus Toothpaste & Mouthwash Bundle

I’m always on the hunt for c.f. tooth-care that can stand up to my coffee and tea addiction. I have a tough time getting K on board with some of my stuff but we both really like this! We’ve already seen results and I think that the tea tree oil is super effective.

American Crafts Pink Paislee Spellcast 36 Sheet 6×6 Paper Pad

Alexandra turned me on to this company. Unfortunately, I was paying attention to the price- not the size- when I ordered this. That doesn’t matter though. It’s gorgeous paper with fun prints- I’ll definitely use it all up in my scrapbooks!

SimpleHouseware Heavy-Duty 3 Bag Laundry Sorter Rolling Cart- bronze

The new laundry room in our house is pretty damn tiny. I love doing laundry but I love having space to do laundry. I’m adjusting to the new normal (which includes a laundry chute!!) and this little contraption helps SO MUCH. I seriously love it. I funnel the chute laundry into these three bins (white, black/dark, color) and then the bags lift OFF of the cart and I can dump them in the washer. Love it 🙂

Marvel Comics X-Men Logo Men’s Charcoal Grey T-Shirt and Wolverine Men’s Crew Socks 2 Pair Pack

We were in a wedding and the guys had to pick a superhero for their outfits. I picked Wolverine for Kyle 🙂 This shirt is SO soft. Even if he never wears it again (I think he will), I’ll totally wear it around the house. K also loves quirky socks so he’s a fan of these.

AOMEI Wedding A Line Tulle Tutu Jupe Knee Length Prom Party Skirt Black

I wanted a tulle skirt for my Halloween outfit. This one fit well and had a zipper and elastic waist with a cute bow. Perfect!

I also sent along some “needed items” to a dog rescue in Texas after the hurricane and I made a gift basket for a bridal shower with these items ordered from Amazon:

water bowl | donut | nylabone | treats | blanket

In other news…

I got one, two, three pairs of shoes from Target. Also this Halloween sweatshirt.

We ordered these bookshelves from Overstock.

We got 2 of these chairs from Big Lots.

And we got this large mirror from Lowes!

What online store has been sucking your wallet dry lately?