Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

It's that time of year again where we begin to reflect on the year as it comes to a close. Today I'm here to reflect on 2015 for me, from a blogger's point of view.  2015 was not my best year of blogging statistically, but it also was not my worst year of blogging either.  I find it difficult to be a reliable blogger who posts regularly and keep up with everything that college entails. I have a habit of doing really well and putting lots of time/energy into my corner of the internet, and then life happens and I disappear for up to a month.  This year I managed to publish about 85 posts.

Below are my favorite posts from each month:

In 2016 I will be a better blogger than ever before. My fourth year of blogging is going to be my best one yet. 

What are your favorite posts from 2015?
I hope everyone has a fun and safe New Years Eve as you welcome 2016 into our lives.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Five in 2015

It's that point in the year where we spend some time reminiscing on what the past 365(ish) days have been like and what we have or haven't accomplished.  2015 has been a great year for me. I have crossed things off of my 101 in 10001 list, stepped outside of my comfort zone, experienced new adventures, grew another year older, travelled to DC with my family, attended four weddings in four months, watched Todd graduate college, moved in with some of my best friends, travelled across the country by myself, completed my term as Chapter President, was accepted into another honors society, and continued to make great strides in my academic endeavors.  I always find it fun to look back on the year to see what the high and low points were. I thought five in 2015 would be a different way to reflect on the year and share with y'all. It highlights things in sequences of five rather than writing a novel about things I did or didn't do. 

Five things I learned:
How much I hate the term basic.  I could go on a rant or you could just look back at the post I wrote about this.  Basically, I find it offensive and not a comical way to describe women.  
How important it is to support other women.  Sadly, today we still live in a partial man's world, where women are still not the majority of those in major leadership roles. Those women who do hold positions of power we tend to speak poorly of when we should be supporting them.  In general, women have a poor habit of putting each other down when we should be supporting one another. 
To prioritize myself in my busy schedule.  I am incredibly involved, some may argue too involved.  I take a full load of college classes and I play an active role in being a member of multiple organizations both on and off of campus.   This year I learned the negative consequences of not making time for yourself.  I've have been getting better at allowing some "me time", but there is certainly room for improvement for 2016. 
To be nice to myself. I am 100% type A and a perfectionist. I hold myself to a higher standard than I do anyone else in my life. I have unrealistic expectations of myself, but yet I still expect to accomplish all of these things that aren't always feasible.  This year, thanks to some guidance from my mom, I realized this and began so make some small changes to increase my forgiveness. Being nice to myself is a new concept to me, but it something that I want to continue to explore as it is helping have a better mentality about myself and my life. 
How great scheduling blog posts ahead of time is.  I just recently discovered that I am able to write blog posts and then schedule them to be automatically posted. This feature has greatly helped me. I wish I would've known this sooner, but it is going to help me become a better blogger this next year. 

Five things I accomplished:
I made Dean's List for the second time in my college career. This is a big milestone for me. I'm hoping to finish out my last two semesters with Dean's List as well!
I trained and completed my first half marathon. This was no easy task, but it was a great experience. I had a ton of fun during the race, and it was great to do it with a friend/sister of mine. 
I passed one of my PRAXIS exams... only five to go. These are the exams that certify me to become a teacher.  I have a year to pass them, so hopefully this time next year I will be sharing that I passed all of these exams and graduated college. 
Travelled across the country by myself. In June I flew to Arizona by myself for Alpha Delta Pi's Grand Convention. This experience made me feel like I was growing up. I navigated TSA, obtaining my boring pass, finding my gate, and several flight delays all on my own.  This experience was quite the adventure. You can read more about it here
I completed my term as Chapter President. This might be my biggest accomplishment yet.  I will share about this experience in a few weeks as it deserves more than a few sentences.  But in short, this experience taught me a lot about myself and how to become an even stronger/smarter leader than I was before. Needless to say, leading 116 women is no easy task and comes with more responsibility than I could have ever imagined.  

I hope you enjoyed reading about my five in 2015. I am looking forward to 2016 and the many adventures, challenges, and learning experiences it will have in store for me to endure.  


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gingerbread House Winners

Last week I shared about my family's annual gingerbread house creating competition.  Well, I just realized I never shared with y'all who the winners were. On Wednesday, my mom thanked everyone for voting and shared that house number one would be crowned the winners for 2015.  In case you are curious, house number was the one that Todd and I made.  We won a gift certificate to a local restaurant and the members of the second place team each were given a pair of ugly socks. 


Monday, December 28, 2015

Weekending: Christmas Edition

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend filled with family, friends, and lots of laughs.  The past few days were pretty busy for my family and I.  The holidays always seem to go so quickly as there are so many people that you have to squeeze in time with.  The past few days I've spent time with friends and family who live near (several miles away) and far (up and down the entire East Coast). There's been a lot of late nights, laughing, celebrating, game playing, drinks served, and memories made.  Today's post sums up Christmas day in my house. 

Since the youngest person in our house is eighteen, our Christmas morning didn't start until 10:45 this year.  It was nice to be able to sleep in.  My brother and I still had to wait at the top of the stairs until my parents were ready for us to come down. This year was the year of socks and vests.  Included in this year's gifts were five pairs of socks.  Shain and I also each got a vest. He received a fleece one from Vineyard Vines and mine was a fuzzy one from JCrew. 

After opening gifts we had our annual Christmas morning brunch complete with french toast casserole, sausage, bacon, egg and cheese casserole, and mimosas.  This is my absolutely my favorite part of Christmas day.  We usually sit at the dining room table and talk for awhile after we eat. Brunch starts with the four of us, but it always ends up with more people joining us at the table. 

As the day progressed we had friends and family coming and going.  Later in the night we had a bunch of friends over for drinks.  The other day I talked about how my mom and I like to have a signature drink each Christmas.  This year our drink included muddled cranberries, club soda, lime and vodka all served over ice.  The mixture was perfect for this year's warm Christmas.  

I hope you had a fabulous holiday weekend!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas "eve eve" my friends, bloggers, and family! 

I hope your week has been as stress-free as mine.  Holiday preparations are in full effect for just about everyone who celebrates Christmas. The closer we get to the actual holiday the more it feels a little bit like Christmas. Most of the time holidays involve traditions for friends and families.  Everyone's traditions vary greatly as well as how they originated.  I love reading about what everyone's Christmas traditions are and how they compare or contrast to my own.  Today I'm here to share with you some of the traditions that occur during the holidays with my family. 

Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve we usually run errands and do last minute things to prepare for the big day.  Ever since I can remember we have hosted Christmas at our house, so Christmas Eve usually entails my mom spending the day in the kitchen prepping as much of the food for Christmas Day as possible.  More times than not I end up spending time wrapping the gifts that my parents didn't have time to attend to, which I don't mind because I find wrapping to be fun.  Later in the day we go to my Aunt's house for a small gathering with lots of food (including the seven fishes). 

Christmas Day
Every Christmas morning since we were little, my brother and I were not allowed to go downstairs until my parents were ready for us (the dogs were fed and let out, the fire was started, stockings were hung away from the fire, and Christmas music was playing).  Even now that we are 18 and 21 we still have to wait up at the top of the stairs until they are ready.  

Opening Gifts
Once we are all downstairs lounging in our pajamas, we begin opening presents. We begin with our stockings.  They are usually filled with practical items (hair product, shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, etc) and a couple of fun things too (jewelry, toys, nail polish, etc.) Then, we search for the pickle to determine who gets to open he first gift.  The pickle is an ornament that my aunt gave us when we were little. My parents hide it in the tree each year and we have to search for it on Christmas morning. You can read about the Christmas pickle here, apparently it's not as crazy as it sounds.  The first person opens their gift and then picks out a gift for each member of the family to open.  From there we take turns grabbing gifts from the tree for each person to open until there are no more left.  

After we open gifts we hangout and watch The Christmas Story until brunch is ready.  My mom makes two breakfast casseroles that are to die for.  She makes a sweet one- french toast casserole and a savory one- eggs, cheese, and bacon or maple sausage.  We also have fruit, this year it's strawberries and pineapple.  Our brunch is complete with mimosas made with cranberry and orange juice.  This brunch is my favorite Christmas tradition combining some of my favorite things- Christmas spirit, family, breakfast, and champagne. 

Open House
After brunch we usually change into different clothes and get ready for the rest of the day. The rest of the day we have family and friends come and go. Our close friends are practically family, so we enjoy spending time with them as well as our actual family on Christmas Day.  Throughout the day we play games, take naps, and snack on appetizers.  Later in the afternoon my mom will put out dinner, but since everyone is coming and going we eat buffet style when it's convenient for each individual.  Our Christmas dinner usually varies from year to year including lasagnas or ham with potatoes. This year my mom is cooking a red lasagna and a green one (spinach lasagna). 

Specialty Drinks
Since we don't go anywhere, we like to indulge in libations throughout the day.  Each year my mom and I concoct a specialty drink to sip on throughout the day.  It's usually some type of festive sangria. This year we are changing things up.  Tune in after Christmas to read more about this.  

Today I'm participating in a link up hosted by RachelChristina, and Cathleen. Be sure to head over to their blogs to read the other bloggers that are linking up to chat about Christmas related things for the #galpalholiday.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Longwood Christmas

Last week I talked about things that can help get you into the holiday spirit. Well, I've actually been taking my own advice and I think it's been working.  Today I'm here to share with you about another one of my holiday related adventures.  This past weekend Todd and I took a trip to Longwood Gardens to see their Christmas Display. We are fortunate enough to live within a short distance from this beautiful place.  One of the perks to being students is that we got tickets for 50% off! If you are going and have a student ID, then I recommend looking into the student tickets.

We spent several hours walking around in the chilly weather looking at the light displays.  It was pretty crowded, but the facility is huge so it didn't feel like there were as many people there as there were.  After spending time outside we wandered inside to the conservatory where there were holiday themed floral arrangements along with even more lights. We took a ton of pictures to capture the night. 


Monday, December 21, 2015

Gingerbread House Competition

Yesterday my family held our second annual gingerbread house competition that I talked about on Friday.   My family has made gingerbread houses ever since I can remember.  These ranged from houses made out of single serving milk cartons and graham crackers to houses that we baked the dough for.  Needless to say we have made just about all the gingerbread houses on the gingerbread house spectrum.  Todd and I have made a gingerbread house each year since we have started dating. Last year my mom decided it would be fun to start a little competition between us and my brother to see who could create the better house.  The winning team would receive a gift card and the losing team would be given a consolation prize of holiday socks. 

This year we decided to keep the tradition going. My mom purchased the houses early this year.  They sell out pretty quickly! In mid November we began plotting when the competition would take place. Believe it or not, it's incredibly difficult to get four people in their late teens and early twenties together at the same time, for at least two hours.  The competition begins by my mom opening the houses, lining two trays with tin foil, and distributing the extra tools and candy evenly.  The losing team from the year before then decides which work space they would like to use (dining room table or kitchen table). Once each team has their designated work space and materials the timer is set and the competition begins.  We are given about two hours to construct and decorate our respective houses.  The time constraint forces us to work under pressure and can add a little stress at times....especially for me the perfectionist.  The most difficult part is getting the frame of the house built. Once that is done it is all easy decorating choices from there. 

This year Todd and I took a different approach to the competition.  We decided to decorate several sides of the house before icing them together.  This made decorating the roof much easier because it wasn't on an awkward angle, and we didn't have to worry about pressing too hard risking the chance that the roof might collapse. Once the whole house was decorated we added extras to the exterior of the house. 

So I'm sure you're wondering who won the competition.  This year we upgraded the judging system, so that my parents didn't have to choose one team over the other.  We have decided to accept votes via social media.  We all have pictures of each house on our social media and are allowing our 
friends /family decide the 2015 winners.  If you would like to contribute to the voting please comment with your favorite house. The winners will be announced by mom at 3pm on Wednesday, so be sure to vote before then! 
House 1

House 2

This is a great activity to put you in the holiday spirit.  We had a fire going and music playing in the background as we built our houses.  This is a competition that family members of all ages can participate in, which makes it really fun! If you're looking for another tradition to add to your holiday season, then I highly suggest you check this one out. 

Remember to comment with your vote!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday's Thoughts 12/18

Happy Friday! I've finished my first full week of winter break and I am feeling pretty relaxed. It's been nice getting to sleep in, catch up on blogs I haven't read in awhile, get back to writing, and spending time with my family.  I am fortunate enough to have a  great family at home as well as a great family (full of friends) while I'm at school.  I enjoy being home and the time I have off during college breaks. I'm sure many of you can relate to the joy of a break after working so hard and being swamped during the semester.  Today I'm brining back another edition of Friday's thoughts to recap some of my fun this week and continue to get into the holiday spirit. 

Watching: I finished all of season one of Jane The Virgin and began catching up on season two via CWTv.  Season two is even more exciting than season one was.  If you haven't watched this series, then I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to watch. It's filled with drama, family, love, suspense and a little action too. I'm only one episode away from being current, which makes me a little sad because I want to be able to keep watching it at my leisure, not when the network comes out with the new episodes on a weekly basis.

Drinking: I've been looking for a signature winter beverage. Last Friday my mom and I did happy hour and had a white cranberry cosmo.  We are looking to recreate this yummy drink.

Eating: My mom's homemade food. My mom is an excellent cook.  After coming home I realized how much I missed her cooking (and not having to always cook for myself).  It's been nice being able to eat with my family too. Sunday family dinners are always my favorite!

Sharing: A few weekend reads for you to browse.  These are some things I thought y'all might like to read this weekend.

Laughing at:  This picture of Todd and I from five years ago.  Pictures like this remind us of how much can change over time, but also how much stays the same throughout time too.  This was the first gingerbread house we made together.  This weekend we will be competing in my family's annual gingerbread house making competition.

Reading: I haven't read a book for pleasure since the summer. I usually read during my breaks, but I wanted to take a week off. Needless to say, I am currently collecting recommendations for good books to read this winter.

Looking Forward to: February 26th when Fuller House comes out.  I grew up watching Full House, so I am excited to see what the new edition will be like. I personally thought the teaser that came out this week didn't give us a ton to work with. I'm hoping it's not disappointing like Girl Meets World. If you didn't get a chance to read about the new show or watch the trailer you can find it here.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Morning Pajamas

Who doesn't love some Christmas jammies?  I love pajamas.  Matching pajama sets have been my new favorite thing.  You can find the perfect set for all temperatures and occasions.  Pajamas are the perfect lounge wear, especially in the winter.  There's nothing better than spending an entire day relaxing in your pajamas.  In my house, we spend Christmas morning in our pajamas.  When we were younger Mrs. Claus used to bring us new pajamas the night before Christmas Eve.  These would be the pajamas we would put on Christmas Eve before going to bed and then would spend most of Christmas day in them.  Needless to say the perfect pajamas are essential to my family's Christmas morning. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hey, It's Okay!

Life can be filled with ups and downs, and nobody has to be perfect 100% of the time. We all like to indulge in some things that may not be the best for us.  I think it is okay to do some things without judgement every once in awhile, especially when we are having a tough time with the curve balls life has thrown us. Today's inspiration comes from Glamour.

There are some things that you need to allow yourself to do without feeling ashamed.

Hey, it's okay.. 

to overthink things sometimes. 

to eat ice-cream straight out of the container. 

to be emotional every now and then. 

to eat raw cookie dough. 

to avoid your responsibilities and spend a night binge watching your favorite show on netflix. 

to have a glass of wine, just because you had a rough day. 

to skip a day of blogging because you couldn't find any inspiration. 

to the highlight of your day be receiving a package in the mail. 

to bring your iPhone charger (almost) everywhere you go. 

I hope you have a fabulous guilt-free day!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Spirit

This year it is more difficult to get into the holiday spirit. There are many factors contributing to this like the fact that yesterday in Southeastern Pennsylvania it was nearly 70 degrees or that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a week shorter this year.  Regardless of these things, Christmas is still quickly approaching.  So what can you do to get into the holiday spirit?
Drive around and look at Christmas lights

Spend a day baking Christmas cookies and listening to holiday music 

Wrap gifts

Cut down a real tree

Decorate Christmas tree

Decorate your home 

Go to a brunch with santa event

Give back- donate food to a local shelter or adopt a family

Watch a holiday movie each night

Go to the mall and get your picture taken with Santa

Go caroling

Craft some holiday goodies

Go somewhere festive like Longwood Gardens

Host a cookie exchange

Create homemade gifts

Attend an ugly sweater party

Make a playlist of holiday music

Happy Holidays