7 Best Parts of New Year's Eve

12.30.2013
like i said last week, i'm torn on the new year's eve front.  people and crowds just make celebrating the holiday... not so fun, so there's certain parts of the holiday that i avoid now that i'm getting older (eep!).  but i do so love the celebrating, you know i'm a sucker for a good theme and a reason to dress up.  and there are certain parts about new year's eve in particular that i just adore:

champagne!  so much champagne.  i don't know why i forget to drink champagne at other times throughout the year, but i really do.  and i like champagne, so i love new years eve parties where someone is constantly putting a fresh glass in my hand.  especially when it's rimmed in glitter sugar and has some raspberries in it.  headache inducing?  perhaps.  but it's just so festive and delicious.  and that's why pedialyte was invented.

sparkly clothing/makeup/nails.  some people hate these things and think they're 'so overdone.'  i say, i hope my disco ball dress blinds you into falling off your high horse, snooty pants.  take a note from pageant moms and 'sparkle, baby.'


fireworks.  there's a reason 4th of july ranks highly on my favorite holidays list.  things exploding in the sky.  but in a pattern, of course.  because nothing says 'america' or 'happy new year' like pretty colored balls of fire.

confetti poppers.  i mean, do they even sell these suckers at any other time of year?  i love them.

the midnight kiss.  just as fun and adorable when it's john as when it's tara or hawkeye.  and yes, speaking from experience.

the television.  if you spend new year's out at parties, you probably miss the television - but it's actually really entertaining.  there's a lot of good performances on the various channels, plus the whole 'live' thing, especially in new york, is a recipe for disaster which i kind of love.  with the countdown, they can't really delay it (duh, midnight is at... midnight) so there's a lot of mistakes and crowd interviews where people say inappropriate things or attempt to flash inappropriate bits.  we've made this a drinking game in years past.

a fresh start.  resolutions aren't exactly my thing, but i love the feeling of a fresh start - a clean slate, new ideas, new plans, new planners.


the more i think about, the more i think i really do love new year's.  so i think to combat my disdain for the hotel ballroom/drunk crowd parties, i'm going to start throwing an annual new years eve party at my house.  since i decided this on december 27, i don't exactly have the time to plan one for this year and thus this year's attendants will be myself, john, and hawkeye.  but next year, next year you're all invited.

let's be honest though - it's also a great excuse to hire a post-party cleaning service to start my new year in a perfectly clean apartment ;)

10 Best // Planners for the New Year

12.26.2013

1. weekdate ($23) // 2. emily ley ($54) // 3. aridum ($19) // 4. adamjk ($12) // 5. sugar paper ($17) // 6. erin condren ($50) // 7. sarah pinto ($20) // 8. whitney english ($60) // 9. plumpaperdesigns ($31) // 10. 8 days a week ($18)


the 2014 planner.  just try to tell me you haven't been eyeing them, purchasing them, printing them, buying new pens for color coding in anticipation of the new year being the time you'll finally get organized and use that planner regularly.  really this time.

you know i'm planner obsessed.  they are probably one of my most beloved possessions each year, and no, i absolutely cannot accomplish the same thing using my phone.  technology is the devil.  paper planner for life.  i adore my whitney english day designer (#8 pictured), but there's a lot of options out there.  i believe that you get what you pay for.  yes, i've spent anywhere from $5 at target clearance to $65 at whitney english, and i can tell you from decades of experience that the more i spend, the more i use it.  you may be dedicated enough to use the $5 one, but i need all the bells and whistles.  if it's not pretty, i'm constantly looking for (unnecessary) replacements.  now i just start with the pretty (more expensive) ones, and i've never got more use out of a planner than i have with a whitney english and an erin condren.

i've used almost every planner on this list, and they're great.  obviously, i prefer the spiral bound because i like them to lay flat.  i also need them to be large enough to accommodate my messy handwriting and 12.6 million (on average) tasks each month.  it's been a science finding the right ones, honestly.  and sadly, the little envelope sized pocketbooks of years past just aren't cutting it any more.  except the weekdate (#1) because they have a crazy neat set up.  (that i posted about here.)  to be fair, i do write down every. single. thing. because nothing compares to the joy of crossing off completed tasks.

so, what planner are you using in the new year?

oh, and do yourself a favor and throw a scented candle in with your purchase, because you can't forget to relax.  if you take on too many projects, organizational or otherwise, at the start of the new year, you'll just get burnt out and not finish any of them.  pick a few and work your way up.  if you're completely new to getting organized, pick one and work on just that until you've mastered it.  lighting a candle and writing in your planner on sunday night will make getting organized seem bearable, if not downright enjoyable.  just ask stephanie.

Disco Ball Sparkle

12.25.2013
although it's still technically christmas as this post goes up, the season is swiftly coming to an end.  the one reason christmas on a wednesday isn't cool, in my opinion, because i've got to be back and work bright and early on december 26.  sigh.  who's really productive during the post-christmas haze?

i love christmas so to ease my depression at it's end, and the return to work mere hours later, i'm throwing myself wholeheartedly into new years eve.  people really have a love hate relationship with this holiday.  they either (like myself) don the sparkly dresses and drink champagne while blowing noisemakers and counting down to the ball drop, or they stay home and go to bed early, wondering why people care so much and waste so much money on overpriced tacky drunken ballroom parties (like john, but i'll tell you right now who's winning that one).  i fully enjoy this holiday but i do see the downside.  for the same reason i see the downside in many other holidays and events - people.  have i mentioned my disdain for people?  especially in groups?  just call me dwight.


i'm definitely past the years of ballroom parties at hotels downtown.  too crowded, too expensive, no cabs, hard to get a cocktail, drinks are watered down and my personal pet peeve - full of people who are either freshly 21 or who never go out all year except nye and thus might as well be freshly 21.  i am neither of those things, and staying up (far) past midnight to toast and celebrate is an every saturday occurrence for me.  so my feelings towards people who can't keep it together and are falling over themselves by 11 pm border on hostile.

but that's not to say i don't want to celebrate.  i do.  just... only with people i like.  my personal favorite new years in recent memory was the one i hosted.  night of 1000 jello shots.  cause, ya know, crowd control and jello shot flip cup.  and the ability to change into my footie pjs on a whim.  i wasn't on the ball enough this year to have a hosted party all planned up (that is so unlike me.)  i'm not above crashing monica's party.  although, she did invite me so it's not actually crashing, right?  it's roaring 20s themed.  like, gatsby.  i need the appropriate attire.


(these are all from rent the runway.)  so i may not be 20s themed, but at least i'll sparkle like a disco ball!

alternatively, i could wear my infamous onesie and sip bourbon in the local dive bar.  choices, choices.

what are you wearing and what are you doing this  year?  where do you stand on the love hate new years eve spectrum?

Truly Awesome (Overlooked) Things About Christmas

12.23.2013
christmas time has finally arrived.  i'm sad it's going to be over soon, of course, but at least i get two more days of enjoyment.  and sure, i appreciate things like family time, holiday cards from my friends, and beautifully decorated trees and houses but i also just can't overlook some of the truly awesome things about christmas:

the mid-week sleep in.  i love that i don't have to be up at 6:30 on a wednesday.  this makes me so happy.  it did as a child too.  i never got up at the crack of dawn to run and open gifts - i'm an only child!  all the gifts were mine, and they'd all still be there if i slept in til 10.

and with the sleeping in - multiple days off!  not just christmas, but christmas eve too?!  it feels like winning the lottery.

opening and finishing an entire candy cane without breaking it.

no judgment when you eat candy for breakfast and 37 frosted cookies for lunch.  it's christmas.

the marathon of christmas movies, particularly the made for tv specials.  which are approximately 68.4 times better than regular movies.


egg nog.  love it or hate it, it's still full of bourbon/brandy/rum and is acceptable as a christmas beverage any time of day.

built in excuse to do nothing.  work break, blogging break, cleaning break - i'm not lazy.  it's christmas.

who else is ready?!


p.s. i am definitely going to be lazy about work and blogging but i am going to attempt improvement on instagram.  i just keep forgetting to check it. do you have it?  add me or leave me your username, please and thank you.

10 Best: Ways To Avoid People

12.19.2013
yes, i like to celebrate (in the form of things like tbox) but as you know, i'm a big fan of spending one weekend a month celebrating time off, doing nothing, and seeing no one.  it's nice to unwind by myself in the comfort of my sweatpants.  if you're not last minute christmas shopping, here's some other things you might consider for your weekend plans:

1. blogging: or just laughing.  the comments kathy wishes she could leave, but doesn't.  i feel exactly the same way.  hopefully you're not guilty of these little pet peeves of ours!

2. shopping: this is me right now.  gearing up for the new year.  i wish i was kidding, but staples is like ... the greatest store ever.
anyone else buying organizational and office supplies to be ready for january 1?  nothing like a new planner and new sets of colorful tabs and pens!

3. it's santa!: fine, so all of these santas sit on a throne of lies, but they're awesome any way.  you can track santa and explore the north pole, or my favorite, send messages from santa!  you can fill in information and send it via e-mail, it's pretty fun.

4. diy projects: i'm not one to ever diy, but how cute is this reindeer print?!  sparkly and perfect for the holidays.  plus, i think i could do this one without messing it up!

5. cooking: a lack of people around means i actually have time to make real food.  unlike last weekend, when tara and i ate out for 6 meals in a row.  how about this chili recipe?  looks delicious!

6. primping: make your nails look like a blizzard for the holidays!  how adorable.

7. reading: she might kill me for sharing this but, we're separated by a solid 5 hour drive so i'm going to do it anyway.  go read this blog by one of my college bffs.  the one whose sorority deck we put a kiddie pool on so we could drink in it and make house boys fill it with warm water.  my how times have changed.  (for her, she's an adult now.  i ain't going down that road yet.)  it's a tearjerker, yes.  and it's really, really good writing.  it's the polar opposite of this here blog, but i know you'll like it.

8. youtube: sara posted the 'this is water' youtube video.  i'd never seen it before, check it out!

9. netflix: the 5th season of toddlers and tiaras was posted.  i can't stop, i don't know why.  there's one where a contestant's brother judges her practice and he gives her a five, and she throws out his score card.  she then whispers to the camera "lies go in the garbage."  i. just. can't.

10. gif collecting: anyone else hang out on tumblr waiting for the perfect gif to come along?  no, just me?  ah well, for those of you who've asked where i find such perfect gifs like the one i posted here, i just follow all my favorite tumblrs.  including, but not limited to - my friends are married, what should we call me, life of a poor law student, bitterly lawyered, and how do i put this gently.  enjoy.  and as a scorpio, i thoroughly appreciate this find:

The Signs in Mean Girls
Aries
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Taurus
Gemini
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Cancer
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Leo
Virgo
Libra
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Scorpio
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Sagittarius
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Capricorn
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Aquarius
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Pisces
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happy weekend!!

Beeronades for Your Bowl Game ... Cupcake Style

12.18.2013


beeronades.  i had the ingredients, i literally had to.  and there is nothing more fitting for a bowl game than a beeronade.  so in honor of bowl game season being almost upon us: beeronade cupcakes.  did you have beeronades while you were tailgating in college?  it's beer plus lemonade plus a shot of vodka.  it's delicious because you don't taste the vodka, and it's dangerous.  because you don't taste the vodka.  


 yes we're drinking beeronades in a barn.  it's iowa.  pat and i are both lawyers now, so, boom.



my favorite thing about using beer as an ingredient for cocktail cupcakes is the fact that box cake mix + carbonated beverage (like beer) = cupcakes.  it really is just that simple.  mix a box of cake mix with a can of beer and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  that's what i did here.  i used lemon cake mix + a can of bud light (college throwback here, remember?) and baked until a toothpick came out clean.

for the frosting, i used the same recipe as my sweet tea vodka cupcakes, but i used the regular vodka.  you could also use a nice citrus vodka.  with all the sweetness from the lemon cake and the powdered sugar in the frosting, you can't taste the vodka when you bite into the cupcake.




iowa is playing lsu in the outback bowl!  for the non-iowa fans out there, or lsu fans who blocked it out, lemme just take half a minute remind you what happened the last time iowa played lsu in a bowl game.




it's damn good to be a hawkeye.  (and i was at that game!)  bring it on, tigers.  if your team is playing in a bowl game, i highly recommend celebrating college life with beeronades - but cupcake style.  like real adults.

Little Life Win: Adorable Hawkeye

12.17.2013
coming home to a dog is the best feeling.  they greet you like you've been gone 10 years, whether they saw you 7 minutes ago or 7 hours ago.  you don't get the same kind of unconditional love from humans that you do from dogs.  and hawkeye, well you probably already know that hawkeye is definitely the cutest pup in the world.  there's some close seconds, but none of them can beat this face:



she just wants to love you all the time.


 or pass out in her water bed.  yes, she has a water bed.


she gets super excited and does a dance when my phone rings at night, because she knows it's my doorman calling to let me know a person or a food delivery is about to come up.  she then sits by the door and waits.

she gives me great material for instagram, almost all my photos are of her.


she thinks her name is 'awwww!' because that's what girls say when they see her and she runs to them when she hears it.

we have staring contests.


when she's laying down and stretches, her little tail flutters.  it kind of looks like if you stretch and then get a visible shiver down your spine.  gotta shake it out.  and when she's standing and she stretches, her whole back end shakes afterwards.  hilarious.

she jumps up when she hears a doorbell on tv or on my laptop, and looks to the door.  we've never lived anywhere with a doorbell, how the hell does she know what it is?

she's the most ridiculous sleeper in the entire world.  how is this comfortable?


cats are cute too, but i'll always be a dog person.  specifically, a hawkeye person.  it's a good thing she's so easy to please and i'm able to fill her christmas stocking with tissues and chapstick.  i should probably get her a taco bell gift card too....

Tips For Having a Wonderful TBOX

12.16.2013
we survived!  tara and i went a full 17 hours of bar crawling and completed all our tasks to successfully go 'wire to wire' at this year's tbox.  we're pretty proud of ourselves.  and although some of these photos belong to tara, bitch never updates her blog so i'm commandeering them.  please enjoy our shenanigans.

our tips for having a wonderful time at tbox:

snow is just a photo prop.



and everything is a photo op.  don't let anyone tell you otherwise.



always pose dramatically with the christmas decor.



find a table and play some games.



cereal shots are definitely a thing.  be aware.  and do one.  or 15.



but shots are not just for cereal.



eat!  don't forget to eat.  probably besides just cereal.  kelli recommends the mac and cheese pizza.



so you can make it to the very end to see your friend's band close out the festivities.



and never forget, it's the one day a year that wearing your pajamas to the bar is not only appropriate, but encouraged.  a onesie is always the perfect costume.



i know we make this look easy, but we train all year.  who's coming with me next year?!  merry tbox!

10 Best: Life Lately Moments

12.12.2013
(warning: long and loaded with photos. eh, it happens!)

1. my birthday, of course.  john is the absolute best, he got me my gorgeous birthday flowers and chocolate covered strawberries and took me to an adorable little italian restaurant.  for birthday part 1.  and then he surprised me with part 2 in which he took me to another dinner and then to see catching fire, and gave me my new necklace!  probably my favorite part though was that he actually really liked catching fire, told me not to tell him what happens, and then went and read everything on wikipedia anyway.  and he now knows when the next movies come out!  (the day after my birthday next year, and my birthday, 2015.  same as twilight.  my birthday is a big movie time, pre-thanksgiving and all.)  i loved the book series and both movies, so i'm happy he likes it just as much!  way better than having to drag him to a chick flick he hates.



2. also for my birthday, betsy took me to a new greek restaurant and to the hellenic museum so i could cross those things off my 101 list!  plus, it was the day of all the rain and tornado warnings, so we had the place to ourselves.  pretty awesome!  she'll do a whole recap post - mostly because she took all the photos - in case you're interested in visiting.  she even used to intern there (before it moved locations.)

3. and even more birthday fun - look what my bestie sarah got me!  it's also been on my 101 in 1001 list to get a new set of nice makeup brushes.  mine aren't nice and don't match and now look - a new set from sephora!!


they are seriously great, i love them.  they're soft and lovely, and that stand comes with it and it's weighted, so it's perfect on my shelf.  i'll post a photo when i get it all updated with my new brushes.  thank you sarah!!

this is why you tell your friends about your blog.  they find perfect presents for you by reading ;)  and thanks to them, i've now got 40 things crossed off my list.  only 61 to go.

4. speaking of sephora - i won chelsee's giveaway!  $165 to sephora.  you can be jealous.


5. ryan proposed to one of my best friends, kelli!  i am super excited about this one.  since i went to iowa, i had a lot of college friends get married way too young and a lot are already divorced or unhappy.  sometimes you just question when people get engaged - but not kelli and ryan.  i think they're perfect for each other and they've dated a long time and live together, and he gets along with all of her brothers (the first guy to ever do so), so it's a win all around.  she's really been wanting this and i know they'll always be a wonderful couple.  and i think it's even cuter, that, through all their ups and downs and life changes, they've stuck together and kelli has said from the first day she met ryan that she would marry him - he wasn't even ready to date yet!  she just knew.  too perfect.  and i am not just saying that because they both read my blog.... but really, i love you guys.  this photo is the night he proposed, she's in front in white, he's behind us singing.



6. i love tara.  and taco bell.  that is all.



oh no wait, that's not all.  tara is here this weekend, we have the epic tbox (twelve bars of christmas) bar crawl tomorrow.  it's actually, ohhh, 53 bars participating.  and 18 hours of bar crawling.  and the one event that every other night i go out is really just practice for.  nbd.

7. 1000 gfc followers.  and so close to that number on bloglovin.  that's pretty amazing, so thank you, and i love you.

8. my friend from grade school, ida, spent thanksgiving with my family.  she's not a huge fan of her own family.  as you know, mine is awesome, so it's really nice that someone else would want to spend that much time with them too.  my mom has just been calling her "my second daughter" and saying "we're going to make her a samuel."  i'm not sure you can adopt someone at 28 years old, but i think my mom is about to!



9. blog weekend.  betsy and i picked a date for blogger weekend.  the second weekend of january, the 11th and 12th.  we're going to be spending that whole weekend working on blog things.  such as writing and scheduling posts, editing photos, organizing feeds and readers, etc etc.  her and i will likely be together at least once if not both of the days, and we invite you to virtually join us!  we'll be around all day both days to do google hangouts, chat on twitter, e-mail, and we'll be setting up a chatroom that people can log in to whenever they've got time.  you can bounce your ideas off other bloggers and get tips to help you get your blog ready for the new year.



10. and of course, princess.  admit it, you're in love.



have a wonderful weekend!  i promise a slew of hot mess entertaining photos and tweets from tbox this weekend, so make sure you're following me!

The Best Chicago (Winter) Attractions

12.11.2013


eh, what does she know?  she doesn't go outside.  i know tuesday's post made chicago winter sound a little scary, but if you use my tips and decide to brave it, even just for a visit, you will not be disappointed!!  i actually truly love winter.  people are pretty disbelieving when i say this, but it's true.  i do love it as much in the suburbs or even when i was in iowa as i do in the city, but there's just something about a snowy winter in chicago that you just can't help but love.  it's so pretty.  everything is quieter, more peaceful and more sparkly.  and there is a lot to do, it's not as though the city shuts down for a little snow.  here's my top 5 winter-y chicago event to check out (and an insider tip for each!)


winter wonderfest at navy pier - oh yes, navy pier is open during the winter! (and that ferris wheel runs year round.)  winter wonderfest includes all the usual navy pier attractions, plus an indoor ice skating rink, santa claus, spinning cups, a huge tree, decorating gingerbread houses, zip lining, rock climbing, a bounce house shaped like a snowman (adults allowed, holla), and my personal favorite, snow sculptures.  and more!  most of these activities are included with your less than $20 wristband, though it's free to get in and just take photos or escort your kids.  insider tip - dude, it's $17 ($13 if you don't ice skate, or if you bring your own skates).  buy the wristband.  if you buy a family pack (which is 4 or more) you get free parking too.  buy your tickets online, it's $3 more to buy there.

ice skating at the bean - the rink in front of the bean is actually free to ice skate, did you know?  you just pay for skate rental.  if you have your own skates, you pay nothing!  insider tip - if you're actually wanting to ice skate, try half a block east straight down from the bean.  there's another rink!  you're still in millenium park but not under the bean.  therefore, there's no line.  and speaking of no line, try heading there first to rent your skates.  then carry your skates up to the bean (if you're dead set on the bean location) because waiting for skates in your size is one of the longest wait periods at the bean.

zoo lights - it's free first of all, and it's christmas lights and music set up all throughout the lincoln park zoo (which is open all year long) and the winter loving animals are actually outside playing.  it's a lot of fun.  insider tip - bundle up and brave it on colder nights.  there's way less people around, so you have time to get better photos of everything.  if you have the right layers, you won't be too cold.  and the indoor exhibits are open, so you can duck inside to warm up.  and bringing your own beverages is allowed, so fill your thermos with something warm and full of baileys!



holiday tea at the drake.  this place is so classy and it's really iconic chicago.  it's a beautiful hotel located on michigan avenue, and while they have high tea year round, christmas is the time you want to go.  they have huge decorated trees, mini villages and trains, nutcrackers around every corner.  you choose from a list of teas and they come with mini sandwiches and adorable desserts.  and they have entertainment, everything from carolers to a harp player.  and it's held in the palm court which is just stunning.  insider tip - this is popular, if you can only make it on the weekend, book early!  otherwise, a week day is your best bet.  and you can't go wrong with the chocolate mint tea.



tbox.  i'll just let this photo of ryan's step-dad speak for itself.



tbox is the highlight of my year, and i'm not the least bit ashamed to say so.  tbox stands for the twelve bars of xmas (it's grown way beyond 12 now) and it's a yearly christmas themed bar crawl in wrigleyville that's been happening since 1996 and is organized by my fabulous pal chris festa of festa parties.  this year, 53 bars are participating and thousands and thousands of people come to bar crawl for 19 hours.  yes, 19 hours - it starts at 8 am.  i haven't missed a box since i turned 21, and i hopefully never will.  i can't even explain all the in and outs, like the cereal shot above, but if you love the idea then read all about it on festa's website.  tbox is happening this saturday and i will be there with bells on!  well, i'll be there with blue penguin footie pajamas on. 


insider tip - don't bring a jacket, don't bring valuables, you will lose them.  eat.  wear comfy shoes.  read all the info online.  pace yourself.  bring cereal to make instant friends.  dress in costume, whether the theme of the year or just christmas themed.  skip the bars with giant lines, because wtf who has time for that?  there's 50 other bars you can choose from and they all have the same drink specials.  the smaller bars, especially the ones not centered on clark street, actually are the least crowded and the most fun.  tip your bartenders.  be nice, santa's watching.


so.... come visit me this winter!  it's not so bad, right?!

Get Organized: Tips for Holiday Gifts

12.10.2013


the holidays, as enjoyable as they are, tend to come hand in hand with stress.  a lot of that stress is just being busy, but i think a part of it is also not being prepared.  trust me when i say - i have a lot of ways to be prepared for the holidays, and almost all of those involve getting organized. ahhh my favorite topic.  i narrowed it down to just a couple helpful tips for getting organized in your gift giving and receiving:

1. use a signature gift wrap.  if you're like my mother, you go crazy post-christmas buying discounted reindeer print wrapping paper.  then you forget you own it, and buy snowflake print wrapping paper on black friday the next year.  it's a vicious cycle that leaves your home overrun with unused wrapping paper, and in a print that can only be trotted out once a year.  i use the same paper and ribbon all year round.  yep.  it's my signature.  it's glossy dark chocolate colored paper from the container store, and i tie it off with gold shimmery ribbon.  the color scheme is very me and it fits with most any occasion you're giving a gift for.  i tuck 1 roll of each away in a corner, so it's always on hand but at the same time it's never overcrowding my closet.

2. create a gift area.  if you shop year round (which is my strategy), you need a designated gift area.  a corner in the closet.  a box under the bed.  you can't just have little collections all over the place, you'll forget what you bought.  if you have a signature wrapping paper, hint hint, you can also pre-wrap and label all the gifts, saving you time come christmas (just don't forget the label part).  this means also keeping a list with the area, and upload it to your phone if you need to.  if you find a great deal in january on a gift for aunt kathy, you're going to forget what you bought come december, guaranteed.  there's also some great apps available to help you keep a list all year round!

3. get the old stuff out now.  pre-christmas is the perfect time for you or your kids to get rid of stuff.  if you're just at the brink of organized now, but it's a precarious balance... what happens to the influx of new things?  i get clothes for christmas from my mom (she has great taste) so in anticipation of that, i weed out my closet of those too well-worn sweaters and old socks.  (bad at this?  watch 'what not to wear' on netflix while you do it.)  i also try to donate the nice outfits and purses i don't use any more, in the hope that they'll find nice homes for christmas, with someone who can appreciate them.  if its your kids that have too much, tell them that santa can't leave any news toys unless they leave him a bag of their old toys for him to take back to the north pole for other kids.  it works, and then you're not the bad guy for donating things they don't play with anyway.  and no more december 26th 'where do we store another f*$%!! barbie doll?!' moments.  hawkeye doesn't understand this logic, so she just gets mad at me.  oh well.


what about you?  what do you do to get organized in your gift giving and receiving?

7 Tips for Surviving Winter in Chicago

12.09.2013
i, being in downtown chicago, got my first real snowfall of the year on sunday.  it's been cold, and it's definitely had freezing rain and light flurries, but it's the first time this season that the snow has actually stuck.  and i love it!  i'm a winter baby.  i love all things cold and snow.  perhaps because i'm just used to it by now, but as long as you get prepared, it really isn't that bad.  even if my friend did spend our entire grocery trip singing a 'welcome to the jungle' parody called 'welcome to the tundra' (and by grocery shopping i mean drinking, whole foods has a huge bar.)  but it's just another winter, and it's all in how you prepare for it - you can survive!  here's my top things you need to know about surviving winter in chicago:

1. marking your shoveled spots with plastic lawn chairs is absolutely legit.  you did all that work to shovel it, you're going to get it back when you come home!  if someone moves them, and parks in the spot, your neighbors will key their car.  100%.  the city tries every year to discourage this move, but they'll never win.



2. the law in chicago states that when weather is like, well, weather in chicago, it is not the responsibility of those downtown skyscrapers if ice falls off the roof and hits you.  it is assumed that people are put on notice by the weather (we give people too much credit.)  be aware of your surroundings, because you're not getting anything if you fall or get hit by ice chunks.

3. this is not hollywood.  and i love 'what not to wear' as much as the next girl, but the fact is, no one here judges what you're wearing.  so if your coat and boots and flannel long underwear are the ugliest things you could possibly buy, but keep you warm, buy them and wear them at all times.  this is not a fashion show, this is -2 windchill on a good day.  no one is noticing, no one is even looking because if you don't keep your head down, your eyeballs will freeze.  priorities.

4. and the fact is, it's cold here more often than it is anything else, so you'll get way more use out of your winter wardrobe than your bikinis and sun dresses.  spend accordingly.

5. if you're going to venture out for things other than work, make it count.  i recommend bye bye liver.  it's an interactive comedy drinking game/show.  you'll love it.  and you'll be happily buzzed when you leave.  alcohol coat - it's a real thing.

6. public transportation actually isn't any less reliable in the winter than it is the rest of the year.  yes, it sucks the rest of the year, so there's no need to change your schedule.  it's reliably crappy all the time - if your usual bus is 10 minutes late in the summer, it's still 10 minutes late in the winter.  this surprises me too.

and finally, my favorite tip -

7. there's apps to help you.  download them!  first, track where the snowplows are here, and then, download all the available apps - where the plows have already been, where to find fast street parking, where the 'no parking if snow is 2 inches' streets are, and most importantly - where your car is if you think it got towed (i'm looking at you taylor.)  if someone else is going to do the work for you, embrace it!


anyone out there a winter lover like me?  or are you all residing in warmer climates?

10 Best: Holiday Party (Alcoholic) Treats

12.05.2013


1. an easy yet beautiful idea - frozen cranberry skewers in champagne.   2. bump up your chocolate covered strawberries by soaking them in vodka before coating with chocolate.   3. festive and adorable - champagne jello shots!   4. hot chocolate and bailey's makes for great party favors.   5. and use any leftover bailey's to make microwave fudge.   6. no bake bourbon balls are very simple and always a crowd pleaser.   7. a vodka and chocolate fix all in one with the chocolate blitzen martini.   8. reinbeer! i mean really.  reinbeer.  who doesn't love reinbeer?   9. to make this even more fun, just add alcoholic eggnogg or vodka to this peppermint punch.   10. red velvet cocktail cupcakes (from yours truly).

which are you making for your holiday parties this year?  and better yet - what are you carrying?! perhaps this deux lux sequin tote?  get your entries in before i pick a winner this sunday!


oh!  and, to buy all those lovely boozy party treats - $200 paypal cash!  you want it right?  well thank jackie (and me, i helped) and get your entries in!  if you're reading this, chances are you already have an entry because you follow me.  which i love you for, by the way.


Good luck!

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