Where did 2015 go?

Planning sucks.

Rather, planning can be life sucking. 2015 is coming to a close, and as I finally strung those glistening dollar store Christmas lights up around my living room window, I realized I was totally drained. And slightly miserable, à la Scrooge. All I could think about was everything I had not accomplished. My laundry pile was overflowing, we still didn’t have our Christmas tree, I’d missed going to the gym, why wasn’t my first draft written, why wasn’t I fluent in Spanish yet?? Wave after wave after wave of negative, downtrodden had me throwing a pity party for one.

I made a decision then and there, as I cursed that one tiny light bulb that refused to work, that I was going to just let it go. The year has come and gone. I did what I could when I could. It’s as simple as that; I gave 2015 a very hearty try, and didn’t end up accomplishing everything I wanted to. But it’s okay! Thinking badly of myself and my choices doesn’t change the past or help me get anywhere new.

It’s been a hard lesson to swallow, but these days I’m trying to just be. I’m not pressuring myself to work on any projects, or even blogging (as I’m sure you’ve noticed). When I want to go to spin class, I go to spin class. When I want to come home and go straight to bed, I do that.

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Our Christmas twig, up and decorated at last!

There’s something absolutely delicious about not having that voice nagging at you constantly, wondering when you’ll stop doing X,Y, and Z and when you’ll start doing the things you’re “supposed to”. The voice isn’t easy to quiet, but when it’s at least muted I’m able to enjoy what I’m currently doing much more.

That being said, I believe wholeheartedly in the freshness of a new year. I’ve decided to theme 2016 as “Here’s to an Interesting Life”, and I’m kicking it off with a bang, starting with a trip to Denmark and Germany in January. After some quality time at home with the folks, I’m looking forward to plotting anew for the year. By then, I hope that naggy voice in my head will have transformed into one of encouragement and inspiration.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! See you in January 🙂

 

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‘Twas the night

J‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

the babes were sleeping with a doll and a mouse.

The presents are wrapped with such care and such haste

in hopes to finish on time, without any waste.

This night before Christmas holds something true

a way to finish up all the things we have to do.

Procrastinators, yes. But we love the way

we get things done for this special day.

My family is home with their heads ready to lay,

So we can all wake soon after we hit the hay.

To greet the sun with our eager, tired eyes

And hold our gifts with such great surprise.

We spend the day drinking wine and beer

Spending time together sharing holiday cheer.

unplug our phones, tablets, and computers,

so we can enjoy some old fashioned shooters.

I conclude this post in hopes I wrote it right

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Jess (2)

Together At Last

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You’ll never believe it (because I hardly can), but I’m home on the east coast for the holidays! Currently, I’m cozied up on the couch in front of a blazing fire and our decorated tree, cuddling with my Pomeranian, Fritz. Yesterday was my family’s crazy annual Christmas party, where we eat junk food and each buy one ornament. It was amazing to see everyone at last, and it felt like I’d never been away at all.

While I have a lot to look forward to this vacation, there is one person I’m extra especially excited to see – my boyfriend! It’s been a year since we’ve seen each other. Yep, you read that right. One. Whole. Year. Probably almost to the day. A bit of background for you: my BF and I got together right after I graduated high school (he was the grade below me), and then he went into the Marine Corps immediately after he graduated. At first we went about
three months without seeing each other, while he was in boot camp. Gradually, the stretches got longer and longer, and for the last two years we’ve only seen each other at Christmas, when we return to NH. Oh, did I mention he’s stationed in Hawaii?

Most people I tell this to jump to the conclusion that we’re either crazy or 100% soul mates. I’ll be honest – while in many ways, being long distance is difficult, it’s kind of lazy dating. We don’t have to make plans every week with one another, or worry about how our schedules or work or travel will affect one another. The normal every day wear and

Our Hawaiian Christmas, 2012

Our Hawaiian Christmas, 2012

tear that comes with a relationship spent in the same time zone is nonexistent for us.

That being said, we’ve worked hard for the relationship we do have. What’s worked for us is being upfront about issues that have come up. My BF is not great at communication. In fact, he’s down right horrible at it.  Sometimes, getting him to call me has been like pulling teeth. Not that he doesn’t want to chat with me, he’s just a little uncomfortable on the phone. I, on the other hand, could talk your ear off if you’d let me. What we’ve found is a comfortable middle ground – texting and Snapchat are our primary go-to’s, but he knows to call me at least every other week to say hi.

While we continue to work on communication, honesty is something we’ve had since day one. I remember the night we went to dinner, right before he enlisted, and he asked me to lay all of my cards out on the table. How was I feeling about everything? he wanted to know. Did I want to be with a guy that was going into the military, bound for destinations unknown? I told him I was hesitant at first, but I wanted to give it a try, at the very least.

That was four years ago. Since then, we’ve been careful to check in with one another, see how we’re doing with the distance. We agreed that if at any point we found someone else who was a little closer, we would be upfront about it and not lead the other person to think you were still 100% involved.

So far though, so good. Obviously, long distance isn’t for everyone, but we seem to have found our rhythm with it. In fact, I’m almost nervous to see him, because we’re both a year older and (hopefully) a year wiser. In many ways, we’ve changed. Sometimes I worry I’ve forgotten little important details about him – how he likes his eggs, his favorite shows, his cologne. While the future is still unknown, in regards to both of our career trajectories, we’re hoping this is one of the last years we spend so much time apart. Two days until he’s stateside!!! I can hardly wait.

May your holidays be filled with love, laughter, and lots of sugar this year.

 

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Holiday shopping- preparation or procrastination?

JSix days. Six days left to purchase, wrap, and share the wonders of gift giving with the well behaved folks in my life. I go big for the holidays- from gifts to parties, I want to plan it all!

My love for the holidays resurfaced after graduate school. The holidays were always overshadowed by procrastination and finals. For years, my holidays consisted of awkwardly living in a packed room and sleeping away the sleepless nights. This new found appreciation has led me to take a star role in holiday festivities.

However, I have carried my bad habits from college into my holiday planning process. Procrastination is my enemy this time of year. Aubrey’s post about holiday budgeting should have been the kick in the but to get my shopping done before December 1st. Like every year, I always think I have more time than I actually do.

This is where a very carefully planned weekend comes to play.

  • First, I tailor my list. It was extremely easy for me to make my list. Mainly because I LOVE giving gifts. This year it consists of my incredibly large family, some significant others, and some folks that are family minus the blood line. From this list, I have to plan my budget.
  • Once the list is lean and mean, I plan the online shopping portion of my weekend. I plan on maximizing my Amazon Prime membership with its free 2-day shipping to help with the time crunch. I should be able to get a handful of gifts here.
  • Next, I am looking to Pintrest.  I am hoping to find some fun, cheap DIY gifts. (To keep my budget in check) I would post examples, but I do not want to ruin the surprise! 🙂
  • Finally, I am anticipating battling the crowds. I usually b-line to my top stores before tackling the mall. (Target, Marshalls, Homegoods, etc). These offer some unique gifts or have more specific goods in stock.

The final, final step in this process is wrapping. Passed down from my beautiful mother, I plan to hone in on the tradition of wrapping everything Christmas Eve.

Happy last minute shopping!

Jess (2)

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Savings!

OctMono

It seems appropriate that on the day I start to plan out my Christmas shopping budget, I’m unintentionally dressed in a cute red and white holiday-tastic sweater. Not that I’m feeling all too festive at the moment – and you wouldn’t be either, if you saw the list of loved ones I just generated. I already knew that Christmas this year was going to be a lean one, with a lot of DIY thrown into the mix, but I guess I was still shocked seeing what my final plan was going to be.

I’m no stranger to budgets. At any given time, I have an Excel spreadsheet somewhere that’s calculating my income, bills, savings, planned expenses, and the not-so-planned ones. I’ve got the app Money by Jumsoft on my phone; it works like a register in the back of a checkbook in that you record all of your expenses there. Unlike a regular pen and paper register, though, it can also help you keep track of your budgets and generate monthly spending reports. Nifty, huh?

But I’m dying to know how else I can save oodles of money this year. Like any good Millennial, I turned to the Internet for help. How could I stretch my budget the furthest without compromising a well-thought gift?1324394672747_2096179

I should put a disclaimer here: let it be known that I love all things holiday related and I know gifts aren’t the end-all-be-all, joy comes from family blah blah blah. But nothing is more fun than seeing the joy on someone’s face when you got them the perfect gift.

Here’s what I found:

Apps (All for iPhones, sorry Android friends)

  • Favado – App that helps save you money at local grocery and drug stores by discovering sale and coupon combos.
  • Checkout 51 – Earn cash back at any store by purchasing Checkout 51 sponsored items.
  • ShopSavvy – Scan the barcode in the store, and the app will tell you if you can buy it cheaper somewhere else.

Websites

  • Thekrazycouponlady.com
    • Notes: I signed up, and had a hard time searching for items. Nothing I searched for was showing up. You can, however, browse by store for weekly coupon deals.
  • Coupons.com
    • Notes: This website was better for brand name items, doesn’t matter which store they’re at.
  • Hotcouponworld.com
    • Notes: Was able to find the grocery store I shop at (Ralph’s) and was able to peruse deals by category (home goods, produce, deli, etc).
  • Retailmenot.com
    • Notes: Has a lot of great coupons/sales from hundreds of different stores and sites. 
  • Bfads.net
    • Notes: Shows you leaked ads for Black Friday 2014.

Misc

And lastly, some Christmas shopping rules:

  1. Make a budget and stick to it!
  2. Consider doing “family gifts” (as in, you team up with family members to buy other family members gifts)
  3. Do a gift exchange
  4. Buy gifts in bulk
  5. Make some of your gifts
  6. Don’t worry about being “too cheap”
  7. Coupon for gifts & know your sales

Happy shopping, and be safe out there on Black Friday!

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