Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Favorite Books of 2017 // Bookworm

Another year of reading, and another year of being thankful for the blogging community and what it has done for my reading. I won't share the whole long story, but basically the Literary Ladies Book Challenge got me back into reading a few years ago, and it has been tremendously great for my self-care. Thank you again, ladies. Goodreads, SUYB, etc. has definitely left me feeling super connected to bloggy book friends! Hooray! :)

Quick note: I surpassed my yearly goal this year, by reading 56/50 books. Yahoo! Record best for me! :)

On to the books!

2017 was a year with a lot of books read, but not very many that I LOVED. (unlike last year....) All that being said, I did enjoy these quite a lot. So here were the best of the best from my list!


Soulless - made me laugh out loud, and react actively to all sorts of things going on. If you enjoy humor, romance, and wouldn't mind the steam punk element (it wasn't incredibly distracting), I highly recommend! (PS - I hadn't ever read steam punk... so do with that info what you will!)


Saga Vol. I - OMG. I LOVE THIS GRAPHIC NOVEL SO MUCH. And I don't really read graphic novels though now I will be reading more! :) This is Romeo & Juliet but in a very intergalactic, explicit, over the top sort of way. I can't describe this well to you. I can only tell you to spend about 2 hours reading it and see for yourself. For those with access to Hoopla, my library had this on Hoopla. :)


Outlander - le gush. Just. Yes.


To All The Boys I've Loved Before (series) - The cutest darn YA trilogy you ever did read. Didn't LOVE the last one...but overall the story is adorable. I've never related more to a main character than I do to Lara Jean. The family aspect of this was lovely.


Little Book of Hygge - delightful, light, interesting non-fiction. The concept of hygge is fascinating, and this is a good intro.



ACoTaR Series - I know. I know. I gushed and gushed. Here's what you need to know. These aren't perfect. She gets criticized for all sorts of things in her writing, but I love these books. The second thing to know, the first book should actually be called "the longest prequel ever" because book two is where it's at. I've never had such a book hangover. (not exaggerating) I now own the coloring book. I might have a secret pinboard of fan art. Judge away. I am trash for this series.


East - like a fairy tale, but not for little little kids. More adventure than romance or magic. Think LOTR, or Pirates... or something. I loved this. Really. really appreciated the amount of research the author did on topics within her book. I've never learned so much while reading a YA novel.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - I know so many who loved this book, and I really did too. I think that being written in letters makes it a wee bit less descriptive/less immersed in the scenes, but not enough not to like it. If that even makes sense...? Just really nice historical fiction. It wasn't TOO sad, but it wasn't TOO happy either. Nice mix.

What were your favorite books this year?!

Have you read any of these?

Did you make your reading goal for the year?!

XO,

Alexandra

LYB(Holiday)L Week 9 // Seeking Holiday Calm

Well, I was supposed to post this yesterday... but it was Christmas... and I was doing the LYBHolidayL thing, by unplugging and focusing on family. hehehe SO, here's this last little bit of LYBHolidayL, a day late! :)




New here? The What & Why


Shea from Shea Lennon and I are super psyched to be continuing LYB(Holiday)L this month! Starting December 1st we have one prompt per day to help us live a calmer, more organized, and peaceful holiday season! Each week we'll share the week's prompts, and our own ideas for how we'll do them. We'll give brief re-caps on the previous week as we go. The full list of daily prompts is on IG, and will be linked at the bottom of each of my posts. If you're a plan ahead type person, tape it into your planner or write it out to start thinking ahead. We hope that you'll join us! Use #LYBHolidayL to let us know when you tag along on social media! :) (see the full intro post and details, here).

Week 8 Recap:

Here's some things I did during week 8! - you can always keep up by following along on IG! This week was a bit tougher to stay on it with this challenge - lots going on - but we still managed to do ok.

  • I gave myself a sort-of pedicure by giving my feet a nice exfoliation in the shower at the end of this week. I also felt good about sleeping with thick lotion on my hands!
  • I checked for thank-you notes and have enough stamps to get started. We know we'll need stamps anyhow, so we are good getting those later.
  • We did not do freezer meals, but did buy a rotisserie chicken, veggies, and made a meal plan for Christmas Eve. :) 
  • We did not take a walk or do workouts on the 21st. Oh well. This is the day I moved offices at work, so I was on my feet all day. I don't feel too bad about it! :) 
  • I was off on the 22nd, so I definitely took some time to do fun things. :) 
  • We didn't make any treats to share, but that's ok with me! :) 
  • On Christmas Eve we tried a German "Wintertime" tea with spiced cookies. It was really nice. We spent the evening sipping and munching while playing board games. :) 
Week 9:

December 25 - Unplug. Be present and enjoy the moment.

Clearly did well at this... :P

December 26 - Buy some Christmas decorations/candy on mega sale.

Hoping to just stay at home tomorrow! :) :) But we'll see. If we go out, I'll browse for deals. Because that's just me!

December 27 - Write down/share your favorite moments of the holidays with your family.

May be a good time for me and KC to type up little notes on MY NEW TYPEWRITER!!!!!! GAH! (more info coming soon!). I would love to put these in my December Daily!

December 28 - Start thinking about goals for 2018!

I have only done this in the broadest sense so far! Whew. Time to get a bit more serious. Can't believe how this month flew by! If you have a goal of focusing on gratitude in 2018, please read about a new project I am doing with my friend Rachel, and other bloggers next year. It's called The Year of Gratitude! You can find us on FB and IG too! :)

December 29 - Accomplish a to-do list item that you have been avoiding.

So many options... not sure where to start! LOLOL. Maybe doing an update for my book ban! :P 

December 30 - With your family write down a wish for 2018 and hide it away to pull out at the end of next year.

I think this will be so fun to look back on! :) 

December 31 - Try out a new beauty product or look for NYE.

NYE is our anniversary and we aren't sure what we're doing yet. :P So I guess we'll see. :) 


How was your Christmas? (if you celebrate it)

Any fun plans for the next week or NYE?

Have you been thinking about your goals for next year?!

We'll be posting about the prompts using #LYBHolidayL on Instagram! Make sure to check in with Shea on her IG too! :) @simplyalexandra12 & @shealennon

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, December 22, 2017

Have You Heard? // *Nsync - "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" // Throwback

OOoh yeah! To be real, I *wanted* to share Garth Brook's Christmas music, because KC and I both hilariously* grew up on listening to one of the albums. But you can't find it anywhere on YouTube OR Spotify. This is a travesty. (*hilarious because neither of us likes country music)


So instead, I found this absolutely throwback video that *Nsync posted that goes with their song, "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays". Dear lord this is the most '90's thing I've seen in a while. So much ramen-haired JT, so much orange, so many goggles, so much green screen. :P

Do yourselves a favor and watch this one.



What are you guys up to?!

For us we actually don't have anything until actual Christmas. So we are super excited to hang out together and do fun things, and relax a little! We've been swamped! I might get to finish a book, make progress on my album, etc. :) :) 

If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! 

If you don't, Happy Holidays! 

If you don't do any of that, I hope that you have a great weekend! 

I'll be blogging a little, but no promises. I can't forget too many days in a row.... because New Year's Goals, y'all! 

P.S. - if you are hoping to focus more on gratitude next year, please stop by my new blog project with my friend Rachel! It's called The Year of Gratitude, and we are super excited abou tit! How it works: Each week there will be a new prompt to either journal or reflect on. We'll write our responses throughout the week and then share a reader/guest writer response at the end of the week. We'll also be doing tiny moments of gratitude, etc. on Facebook on Instagram. The hope is to cultivate a little community for people who are trying to be more grateful. A place where we can share successes and failures, and do our best to focus on gratitude. If this sounds saccharine, or naive, please know that Rachel is the snark snark snarkiest. (said with so much love, and understanding. LOL) And has already written in an intro post that she "hates the word 'journey'". We've both had horrible times of 2017, and are living proof that trying to focus on gratitude helps. It's going to be quite the variety, and really awesome! :) 

*eating humble pie now... *

XO,


Alexandra

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Festive Happenings // Pre-Christmas 2017

Whew, this month has been absolutely bonkers. I think that my plan of focusing on me and KC has been really hard to carry out. Every spare moment (and the not spare ones) have been taken up by projects, and work, and scheduling. Really hoping to get more time to ourselves next week, and I think taking the week off will be a big help too. Doing my best to focus on the great moments, even when there are lots of busy ones in between.

I still do not know why sometimes the IG photos embed correctly, and other times they don't... *shrugs*.

Here are a few things we've been up to:

I decorated my desk:



We had a few hot chocolate dates, and Scalawag played with a santa hat (scroll to second video):



We celebrated KC's grandpa's 85th birthday (sadly didn't get any family pictures):



We celebrated at our city's "Winter Wonder Weekend". We went to the Festival of Trees, The Old Fashioned Christmas Parade, and the Gingerbread Auction. Photo 8 in this post is my favorite tree. HOW FREAKING GORGEOUS IS THAT?!



We decorated our tiny tree with some of our decorations. :)



I started working on my December Daily album. Check out the first bits up on YouTube. I love the collection I am using, it has so many cute little animals in it! :)



We made a cute cake in our gingerbread house mold. It was very cute, but the recipe was not the best. It was kind of dense... but oh well! We also made a blanket fort and watched Love Actually and had Hotschnappslate! It was fun, and I was able to relax a little despite the to-do list. We actually fell asleep in our tent and were late to the party we were headed to!



I got my Secret Santa gift for the blogger pen pal group! Kelly was my SS and she got me the neatest things!! I love them all and have already started using the things! Fun Fact: It is the first blogger exchange where I have actually received the gift in return! Which sucks, but I am glad that it worked this time. haha



We drove around and saw some fun holiday lights! We didn't get very far, but found a lot of houses that went all out! :)



I made a Christmas card for a girl who is the daughter of someone in the December Daily FB group. She was being bullied at school and so she asked for people to send her cards. She likes unicorns, so I made her this fun card. I sent it off yesterday, so I really hope that she gets it soon and enjoys it! :) I have a video tutorial going up Friday on YouTube.



KC and I went to KCMO to see the Kansas City Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker. It was gorgeous again this year! My favorite party (by far) is the Waltz of the Snowflakes. It is so so beautiful. The snow falling, the pretty snowflake outfits. And the new KC ballet version is just so imaginative and gorgeous.



I'm hoping to add more things to our list and our downtime as Christmas week gets here. :)

What have you guys been up to?!

Does anyone else love The Nutcracker? What is your favorite part?!

DID YOU SEE THAT DISNEY IS MAKING A NUTCRACKER MOVIE?!? OMG!!!

Are you taking any time off at the end of the year?

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, December 18, 2017

LYB(Holiday)L Week 8 // Seeking Holiday Calm

Hello everyone! I hope that you had a fun, festive, and peaceful weekend! :) It was a very hectic weekend around here, but I'm trying to keep in mind that it is nearly holiday time, and that means a bit of vacation time at home for me and KC. Hang in there guys, we've almost made it through the year! :)

Let's get straight into this week's prompts!


New here? The What & Why


Shea from Shea Lennon and I are super psyched to be continuing LYB(Holiday)L this month! Starting December 1st we have one prompt per day to help us live a calmer, more organized, and peaceful holiday season! Each week we'll share the week's prompts, and our own ideas for how we'll do them. We'll give brief re-caps on the previous week as we go. The full list of daily prompts is on IG, and will be linked at the bottom of each of my posts. If you're a plan ahead type person, tape it into your planner or write it out to start thinking ahead. We hope that you'll join us! Use #LYBHolidayL to let us know when you tag along on social media! :) (see the full intro post and details, here).

Week 7 Recap:

Here's some things I did during week 7! - you can always keep up by following along on IG! This week was a bit tougher to stay on it with this challenge - lots going on - but we still managed to do ok.

  • I wasn't sure what my treat would be, but I got my package from my blogger pen pal Secret Santa (Kelly!)! So I ended up with tons of treats! :) Thank you Kelly!
  • I remembered to turn on music toward the end of the day! It was a very productive day making videos so I didn't have anything in the background. :) 
  • Hehe we didn't do this. But we did make the crock pot recipe from last week, this week, and it turned out well. We even finished all of the leftovers! :) I also got some self care this day, which wasn't food healthy, but brain healthy!
  • This was our first time driving to look at holiday lights, but we really enjoyed it! We saw a neighborhood where tons of houses went all out! So fun!
  • We didn't bake cookies this day, because we had a ton of plans! But we did find our cookie press! Yay, and we ended up making them the next day instead. I think we'll try the new recipe this week or during the week of Christmas! :) 
  • I set a coffee date with my grandma for this week while she is in town. I am also working on packaging things up for friends and family for Christmas!
Week 8:

December 18 - Give yourself a mini pedicure!

I think I am going to keep it simple and remove old nail polish, use my pumice stone in the shower to exfoliate, and then slather on some thick lotion, and fuzzy socks! (I cannot wait to do this...!)

December 19 - Pick up a box of thank you notes and stamps to have on-hand post-holiday. A thank you note is always appreciated, and a lost practice! Get your family involved to help teach your kiddos about gratitude (thanks, November Challenge!)


We are pretty adamant about sending thank you notes at our house! I will plan to check my stash this day and see if we need more! It is likely that we'll need stamps regardless! :P

December 20 - Make a double-batch of a favorite meal and freeze it.

I have a really tough time freezing things successfully and remembering to eat them. Maybe this is the time! We shall see. I'm not sure how much cooking we'll realistically get done. So I may tweak this one to say, "get groceries for a few quick meals/lunches". We've been eating out too much, but not with enough time to change it!


December 21 - Sneak in an extra workout today. Even if that means a 10 minute walk or 20 reps of arm weights. Just move a little more, your body will thank you!

This will be needed! I am going to try to fit in a calm yoga session in the evening. :) 

December 22 - Give yourself a 20 minute break today. Read, color, do a puzzle, do nothing! Do whatever will make it feel like a treat for you! :) 

I love this one! I can't wait to take a break! hehe We actually don't have anything this day, so I thin it will be easy to fit something in. Maybe a movie with KC. ;) 

December 23 - Make Treats to Share

We've been wanting to make peanut butter balls, and to try the new cookie recipe from last week's prompt. So excited to pick something out and focus on baking without worrying about other things that need done! :) 

December 24 - Enjoy a seasonal drink of your choice.

This seems like the perfect prompt for Christmas Eve. I might sit down with a cup of spiked cocoa or if I get ambitious make mulled wine. hehe :) 



What is your favorite way to take a break?

What is your favorite freezer meal? Or meal that freezes well? Help a girl out (again!)!

Can you believe that Christmas Eve is this week?! It is nuts how quickly this month has flown!

We'll be posting about the prompts using #LYBHolidayL on Instagram! Make sure to check in with Shea on her IG too! :) @simplyalexandra12 & @shealennon

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, December 15, 2017

Have You Heard? // Hilary Duff ft. Lil' Romeo - "Tell Me A Story" // Throwback // Yeah I Went There...

Happy Friday Friends! It has been the busiest week, but I managed to read a little bit!!!! WHICH IS SHOCKING AND AMAZING! :) On to the Christmas music...


When I was a kid I didn't have any Christmas albums, because who wants to use their Christmas money on a Christmas CD? The season is already over. But I finally got one, and it was the ONLY one I actually had! It was Hilary Duff, and it is perfect if you are looking for poptart throwback perfection.

There's a particularly great song with Lil' Romeo that was on The Disney Channel. Hilarious. "Thanks for the video games and the bling bling" is an actual lyric. hehehe It's worth checking out the partial music video too.. so I'm going to paste that below.



Anyone remember this? :P



There ya have it! A blast from (my) past. hehe

What are you guys up to this weekend?!

We are watching my sister do her dance routine during the basketball halftime show and driving around to look at holiday lights for #lybholidayl tonight. Tomorrow we hit the Festival of Nativities with KC's parents, and then shop with my sisters and mom. Hoping to finish up gifts then! Sunday we see the Nutcracker. Hoping for downtime inbetween. hahaha

Other Posts This Week: LYBHolidayL Week 7 and Holiday Traditions and Advent Calendar Linkup.

On YouTube This Week: November Daily Days 25-30 Process Video, November Daily Flip Through & Leftovers, and December Daily DIY Project Life Cards // Vol. I.

Thank you to everyone who linked up with us on Wednesday! I have loved reading about your traditions so far, and I have a few more posts yet to get to! :) 

Have a great weekend! :) 

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Our Christmas Traditions & Advent Calendar // Christmas 2017

Today is our Winter Holiday Traditions & Advent Calendar Linkup! Please linkup any holiday traditions or Advent related posts that you have, below! :) These do not have to be Christmas posts, if you celebrate another holiday, or a secular tradition -- please share those as well! :)


When you start your own family, even in the two-person (or one person + furry family) sense, you have to start thinking about what you want your own holiday traditions to be. We have been married for almost seven years, so we are still pretty new at this, but we have started making new traditions of our own to make the holiday season special.

As family dynamics change, and what's important to you change, sometimes you have to change your traditions as well. - and I think that's ok! & important to remember!!

Something new we are trying this year is our Advent Calendar!

Advent Calendar 2017:





The What & Why: This year I wanted to do an Advent calendar. They always seem fun, KC's family used to do them when he was a kid, and as they got older they turned into "daily gifts"... so I thought it would be fun to give it a try on our own. I like how it turned out, but I'll admit that we've been really busy (not by choice, lol, not glorifying busy - I promise!)... and not doing the best at the activity portion of the calendar. But I think saving them for a free night/day is just fine. We're doing our best. ;)


The Theme: The theme I wanted to go for was "Christmas Around the World". I did a lot of research on holiday traditions across the globe, though admittedly most of them are from Europe... because it has a high Christian population. ;) It was an interesting project for a life-long-learner like me, and it has been fun for KC too. I think it would be fun to do multiple holidays/faiths/etc. in the future. :)



The DIY Process: I had a different idea initially, but it was going to be too time consuming. So I swapped that idea for making tiny envelopes with little cards in them. I used a small envelope template (that I'd never used before!), some leftover paper source paper from wedding invitations this year, typewriter style letter stamps, washi tape, and my 01 Sakura Micron Pen. :) I just spelled out the number with my stamps on the outside of each envelope, inserted the card, and sealed them off with washi tape. I hung them from the mantle with tiny clothespins and baker's twine. For the cards themselves, I wrote a fact on each card making sure to note where each tradition was from. I wrote the number and traced the outline of the country the fact was from on the front of each card. If there is an activity that goes with the tradition, I wrote that on the card as well. (like I said, we are behind on these... :P).

Overall it has been fun, and we've had some laughs. Though no time to cook the recipes or eat all the sweets I collected to go with it. heheh We're having fun with it though. :) I'm glad that the design itself is super simple. :)

Does anyone want to see a tutorial/specific things we've been doing? Let me know! :)

Our Winter Holiday Traditions:


At this time of year, KC and I celebrate Christmas. Most of our celebrations are rather secular, and we've been known to tag along at our friend Rachel's Chanukah celebrations as well... so it's kind of just whatever is happening on a given year. I also think it is a bit funny than plenty of Christmas traditions come from Pagan ones. So.. it all depends on how you look at it I suppose! :P

Giving back - angel tree, donations, etc.



Every year we like to pick an organization, or a specific person, etc. to give a monetary gift to. It's not a set amount, it's just whatever we can do or feel is best. Sometimes we do an angel tree, other times we donate bleach and paper towels to the animal shelter, we've given money to medical funds of people that we know, it just depends on the year... but giving back during the holidays is a tradition that we like to keep. :)

Spending Christmas Eve Just the Two of Us (& Our Cats.. :P)




We didn't actually end up doing this last year... but the idea is that Christmas Eve is for us. We can eat dinner together, cuddle up, watch a movie, hang out by the tree, unwrap presents, etc. Just the two of us. It's lovely, and I'm excited to get back to it this year. :) I think we are going to start having fettuccine too, because that's what they do in The Holiday and we think it is fun. :)  We also like to take a "famiy photo" with the cats. :P 

Love Actually + Hot Schnaapslate




Along with The Holiday, Love Actually is one of our favorite Christmas movies. We started a tradition a few years ago to watch it and have Peppermint Hot Schnappslate. Yum. A favorite at our house.

Insanely Long Xmas Playlists




Whenever we go thrifting, (admittedly less often lately) we look for Christmas CDs. We have found some GEMS! We have so many fantastic '90's-'00's albums, but also classics, and brand new things as well. We found a mint condition Michael Buble. Anyhow, we load them all onto my laptop, and add a bit to it every year. We do buy new ones too or download them, that way we can shuffle and not get bored with the selection in the evenings as we wrap gifts, etc. Some of Our Must Listen to Albums: Celtic Woman (all of them!), Hayley Westenra, Christina Aguilera, Aly & AJ, the Nutcracker, Michael Buble, Pentatonix, Hilary Duff, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, other miscellaneous!  

Making Spritz Cookies




Spritz Cookies are my favorite Christmas cookie. We grew up making them with my mom. I also love that they are small and can have sprinkles. ;) I've got a big love of sprinkles. KC and I have our own cookie press so we can make them every Christmas! :) Now if we can just find it this year... :P 

Different Tree Decor Every Year (for now)




We have a mini tree since we've been living in apartments. It's about 3 foot tall, hehe, and we set it up on a table. Each year we decorate it differently. Sometimes we get new ornaments, sometimes we mix and match old sets together. It's fun to try something different! We likely won't continue this every year once we have a full-sized tree, but we'll see and it is fun for now! I'm actually hoping to donate our small tree, and start getting real ones. Artificial ones are 3xs (yikes) worse for the environment, so that's an easy switch to make. Also, how fun is the idea of going to the farm and picking one out?! Good photos ops, etc. :) Looking forward to it someday soon!

Must Watch Movies:



Our favorite Christmas movies are The Holiday and Love Actually. Beyond those two we both enjoy the Santa Clause, The Snowman, and The Grinch (animated version). We usually try to watch Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, and A Christmas Story too. Those are some of KC's family's favorites. I'd like to watch a few classic ones that I have as well like White Christmas and Christmas in Connecticut! :) For non-traditional movies I like Little Women and While You Were Sleeping!

What are your holiday traditions?

Have you ever done an Advent calendar, or any type of daily gift for the winter holidays?

Join us by linking up below! :) 



XO,

Alexandra

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Link Up Reminder: Holiday Traditions & Advent Calendars

It's a sad day. I read no books in November (or I did.. ONE.. but I talked about it in October). :( So, instead, today I've got for you a reminder that we are doing our Holiday Traditions & Advent Calendar Linkup tomorrow! Join Shea and I by linking up!



No matter what you celebrate or your family's traditions this month, we'd love to hear about it! Feel free to linkup old posts too. :)

Here are some ideas to get you rolling:
  • What are some of your favorite holiday memories?
  • What are some movies you have to watch each year?
  • How do you like to decorate your home for the holidays?
  • Are there certain foods that you associate with your winter holiday celebration or season?
  • Have you ever done daily gifts, an Advent calendar, or something similar?
  • What activities do you like to do with family and friends in the winter?
here's our silly xmas picture with our cats last year. LOLOLOL



Super excited to linkup with you all tomorrow! :)

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, December 11, 2017

LYB(Holiday)L Week 7 + Linkup Reminder! // Seeking Holiday Calm

Hello everyone! I hope that you had a fun, festive, and peaceful weekend! :) We did a lot of fun things, but I was also able to catch up on some things that I had been struggling to find time for. :)

Let's get straight into this week's prompts!


New here? The What & Why


Shea from Shea Lennon and I are super psyched to be continuing LYB(Holiday)L this month! Starting December 1st we have one prompt per day to help us live a calmer, more organized, and peaceful holiday season! Each week we'll share the week's prompts, and our own ideas for how we'll do them. We'll give brief re-caps on the previous week as we go. The full list of daily prompts is on IG, and will be linked at the bottom of each of my posts. If you're a plan ahead type person, tape it into your planner or write it out to start thinking ahead. We hope that you'll join us! Use #LYBHolidayL to let us know when you tag along on social media! :) (see the full intro post and details, here).

Week 6 Recap:

Here's some things I did during week 6!

  • I thought a bit about holiday stresses, and I was at that moment stressed about the Advent activity we were supposed to do... so we put it off until later. :) Still working on trouble shooting ideas for family things. (ideas welcome!)
  • KC and I discussed a while back upping the budget for parents and siblings (some of whom we are working on a group fixed amount, so those did not change). But we allowed ourselves to round out some gifts and not worry about the exact dollar amounts. Everything else though is at or under budget, and I feel good about it. :) 
  • I mentioned that I got a new planner, but I had a bit of fun playing around with it and adding birthdays, etc. :) 
  • We picked a new crockpot recipe, one of you all shared it.. but I don't know who! It was a ham and potato crockpot soup and while we didn't make it yet... we plan to this week! :) 
  • We were busy on the "wrapping party" night, so we made a point to get more wrapping done over the weekend... and then ran out of time! We plan to do more wrapping this week!
  • We bought a pre-made gingerbread house, because it was a very busy week/weekend for us. Our aim was to have fun and be creative with the decorating.We didn't get to decorating it, but we needed to make a cake as well, so we used a gingerbread house cake mold and decorated it. It was very cute, and fun to decorate... but the cake recipe wasn't my favorite. Oh well, we'll try it again! :) 
  • We made a blanket fort and watched Love Actually. With Hotschnappslate, one of our traditions. So fun! :)
Week 7:

December 11 - Allow yourself a tiny impulse buy: the little truffle at the checkout, the $1 holiday socks, etc. You deserve a treat! :)

Hmm... not sure! I'll think of something! :)

December 12 - Put on some Christmas music (or whatever you like to listen to in December) to get you though your chores or work day today.


I am at home on Tuesday, and listening to music definitely helps me feel a bit less lonely around the house by myself. Festive xmas music makes it all the more fun! :)

December 13 - Make an effort to get outside, even for just a few minutes!

KC and I have been pretty well (minus when Scali was sick) at getting out and about for our daily walk at work. Today should be no exception!


December 14 - Plan a few go-to healthy meals and snacks to balance all of the indulging.

This is a really good prompt. To be honest, we've been so busy with projects and plans that we haven't been eating at home much. At the very least I'll plan to eat some clementines, and grab a salad if we are eating out. :) 

December 15 - Drive around and look at Christmas lights!

Oh man, these are still just as magical to me as they were when I was a kiddo! KC and I are excited to do this on Friday night! Have you seen this website? You can find light displays near you, and add your own address if you want. Many cities have their own version of this site as well. :) 

December 16 - Bake holiday cookies (1 classic, 1 new recipe!) 

My very favorite Christmas cookie is one that my sister Jess and I made with my mom at Christmas. We used a vintage cookie press to make spritz cookies in many shapes each year. KC and I got our own cookie press so we can make them too.. Now to find the press...! ha #temporarylivingspaceprobs hehe We want to make a new one as well, I have a Christmas cookie bookazine (magazine cookbook) of just holiday cookies, so once I find that (LOL) I hope to choose one from there for the new recipe! 

December 17 - Make a faraway loved one feel special this holiday season

I am planning to package up cards, notes, and gifts for family and friends across the US. I am still finishing up some DIY things.. .heheh... I am going to try to call my grandma as well. :) 



Linkup Reminder WEDNESDAY 12/13!



Shea and I both had the idea to FINALLY do Advent calendars in our homes this year, and we thought it would be fun to do a linkup where you all can share your calendars if you made them, but also any of your fun holiday traditions in your home! :) No matter what you celebrate this month, we'd love for you to share it with us! The linkup will be on WEDNESDAY!! December 13th! We hope that you will join us in sharing your family's winter holiday traditions!

Do you like holiday lights? Do you drive to look at them or put up some of your own?

What is your favorite holiday cookie? Have one that I should try?!

Go-to healthy recipes?!?!

We'll be posting about the prompts using #LYBHolidayL on Instagram! Make sure to check in with Shea on her IG too! :) @simplyalexandra12 & @shealennon

XO,


Alexandra

Friday, December 8, 2017

Have You Heard? // Christina Aguilera - "Angels We Have Heard on High" // Throwback

Happy Friday Friends! I hope that you all had an excellent week! It's been nuts here, super busy. Hoping that this weekend I can play "catch up" a little! hahah (we'll see...)


I love Christmas music, and I love it (nearly) all! We have a huge playlist (400+ songs) and growing that we love to shuffle in the evenings around the house. Some of my favorites every year remain the '90's and '00's Christmas songs though. So much nostalgia! heheh

Christina's Christmas album is super fun to listen to, and totally filled with vocal flourishes, very '00's pop moments, etc. It's awesome, if you like that kind of thing. :) She recites the Lord's Prayer in the middle of "O Holy Night" - which is funny and also very '90's. heheh

This is one of my favorites! The end is absolutely nuts! :P



What is your favorite type of Christmas Music? 

If you like '90's and '00's music too, check out this post which has some more of my favorites. :) 

What are you up to this weekend?!

We are going to the Lindsey Stirling concert tonight, decorating a gingerbread house, and watching Darrick tomorrow night, and then doing some cooking/baking for Sunday night's game night with friends. :) In between those things I am hoping to "catch up" on some December Daily, Advent, and YouTube/Blog things! Have I mentioned that I have a bit too much on my plate... ? x_x

Other Posts This Week: LYBHolidayL Week 6, My Holiday Wish List, and 11 Months In // 2017 Goal Progress.

On YouTube This Week: Movie Night Process Video, 6 Ways to Make Your Own Project Life Cards // Vol. III, and November Daily Days 18-24.

XO,

Alexandra


P.S. - WE BOUGHT T-SWIFT TICKETS! GOODBYE, MONEY! (really though... why on sale right before xmas? That sucks for almost EVERYONE. BOO.) 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Eleven Months In // 2017 Goal Progress

What even were my November goals? Yikes, even with #lybholidayl (which I swear helped!) November was a bit of a train wreck. Between my parent's divorce trial, arranging airport shuttles for family (missing planes, etc.), and Scali going to the 24 Hour vet and needing monitored... it was seriously a crazy month. I don't care to re-live it.. so we're moving right on.

In order to keep up with my goals for 2017 a little better, I have been trying to do monthly mini goals. :) See my 2017 goals here.

It's DECEMBER. Dear Lord. Let's see how it went!

**I don't know why half of my IG photos are being weird...! : / **

November Goals:

1) Keep participating in the November Live Your Best (Holiday) Life with Shea!


Shea and I have been holding a "Live Your Best Holiday Life for Less" challenge in November. It is meant to reduce holiday stress by sharing one helpful prompt per day. It focuses on self-care, gratitude, planning, and festivity. I did this in November! I think I managed to do or tweak every single prompt, we are so excited to be just starting December's list! We'd love for you to join us at any point. It's a pop in, pop out, and make it work type of challenge!

2) Get Advent Calendar Together (this will be my first year making one!)

I had an idea, and squashed it. I started the new one, it went a lot better. I have most of the calendar ready, and should be able to add the missing items (later in month) before it is time. Not perfect, but it will be just fine! The goal is to have fun anyhow, right? I think it will be fun! :) 

3) Get "little gifts" ready for December

I got a few cards, and gifts ready to mail. I still need to do a bit of work on this though! :) 

4) Build in two extra de-stressing times per week (ideas: turn on music at work, color each night?, long bath, mani/pedi, reading, hallmark movies (media diet), 3pm music alarm, yoga on tuesdays, ) 

I didn't exactly keep great track of this one. I did set an alarm on my work email calendar to turn on music in the afternoons though, which I think helped. A lot of the #lybholidayl prompts helped as well. I think I did ok at this through almost the end of the month. :) 

5) Make pie crusts in advance of Thanksgiving!

Does the day before count? Honestly, I'm just happy that I made them again this year, the last few I did store-bought (which is totally fine! but not my personal preference) so this felt like improvement. Making them in the food processor is thebomb.com.

6) Work on a November Daily gratitude album!
I started this and did enjoy it! :) It was so different than October's album! I am finishing it up now and starting on December's! :) Want to see? Check it out:


7) Go through 3 boxes (or the like) that we are storing. Purge, purge, purge!

Laughs hysterically... why is this still on the list?

8) Unsubscribe from pesky email lists!

I UNSUBSCRIBED FROM SO MANY THINGS! :) 

9) Check more items off my fall bucket list
I did check a few items off my fall bucket list! A few won't happen, a few that might before it is officially winter, but I feel good about it! :)

10) Read books from under-loved genres (2017 goal)
I read almost nothing in November. I read one whole book, not of a new genre, and started one that was in an under-loved genre. I guess that count by a pass, but I was hoping for a few whole books. Oh well. 

11) Spend time on non-paper crafts

Nope. Paper is my jam... so... maybe next year.

12) Learn more/implement ideas related to hygge
We made a reading nook, and have been using it on and off. We did try a new recipe at the end of October that simmers for awhile and is very hearty so it felt pretty hygge. Having our tree up early with the lights also felt hygge. One of our festive activities and another recipe are both from the Little Book of Hygge, so I am excited for those this and next week! :) I want to keep going, but we did try some. :) 

Total: 10/12 - feeling really good about this, especially because it was a pretty tough month. I think that #lybholidayl really helped as well. I am excited to finish out the year strong. Even if I don't check some long-standing items off of it just yet.

Other Things That Happened:

A lot more family stress. I spent a lot of nights very anxious, very worried, wondering who is telling the truth, if it matters, and how to best help out my sister Olivia. Ready for the divorce to be "over" or at least resolved... which sadly has been drawn out... and will now continue into 2018. Our family is not in a good place. I still find that offering help or suggestions, or trying to create conflict to avoid passive aggression it hasn't been going well. Maybe slightly better...? And I'm often left feeling worse than I did before I stepped in.

We saw Murder on the Orient Express. It was pretty good! I thought it was true to the book, though a bit less suspenseful. The cinematography was lovely, and the cast was great. The movie itself was just a bit slow for me. Overall I recommend if you are interested.

We celebrated my MIL's birthday. We had some family dinners which was nice! :) 

We saw Waitress the musical, and it was amazing. 5 Stars. It is touring. Go. See. It.

Scali, our little pirate cat was having some urinary issues. I'll spare you the details... but we did go to the emergency vet, lose quite a bit of sleep, and stress over him for a few days. He's ok now, and I appreciate all of your comments and concern! :) I had more notes from you all than people I know IRL... *shrugs*

We saw our first holiday performance of the year. We actually got free tickets (cool!) from my FIL's office. It was called Cantus: Three Tales of Christmas. It was really lovely acapella, all males, which was really a fun change. It was a nice break.





Goals for December:

1) Work on (MY FIRST!) December Daily album!
2) Read books from under-loved genres (2017 goal)
3) Try specific ideas from The Little Book of Hygge
4) Try a new Christmas cookie recipe
5) Get holiday or end of year cards sent out
6) Do #allthefestivethings
7) Go through 3 boxes (or the like) that we are storing. Purge, purge, purge!
8) Take a few things off of my plate - if I can...
9) Think about social media schedule for 2018
10) Read and then read more
11) Spend time on non-paper crafts
12) Take more photos at home with KC/cats, etc.

How was November for you?

What did you accomplish?

What are your goals for December? Have you started thinking about 2018 yet?! *gasp*

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch for, What's New With You tomorrow.

What's New With You

XO,

Alexandra