I hope you are enjoying the Holidays and Miriam’s make-up tips and tricks.
As you roll into the New Year, and are in the process of creating new habits, tips, tricks, and routines to help you crush your goals in 2018, take a break and have some fun with your eye makeup at your NYE parties.
I love this smokey blue, but I have a hard time pulling it off. Hopefully following along Miriam’s transformations will help me to smash it.
And you hauled all of the stuff home. Yeah. You got some stuff!
The holidays are fantastic for spending time with family, friends, and for getting dressed up, for gathering and playing games, for sitting by the Christmas tree lights in the wee hours of the night, watching Netflix with a glass of red.
I particularly enjoy turning the lights on for my morning coffee.
Oh! And how about that sleeping in part? I mean if you are lucky enough to have some time off where the whole family doesn’t have to be up and out the door by 8 am.
That’s bliss right there.
So enjoy that!
If you are anything like me, the first day after Christmas is easily absorbed by the perfect nothingness of the day after, but then the stuff and the decor begins to gnaw on your nerves by the 27th. Resist the urge to pack it all up.
Instead, ease back into it.
The ONE Thing
The first thing I do is find a home for all of the gifts that got stuffed in the trunk, or shoved in the basement dumping grounds as we unload the car coming home late Christmas evening.
That’s it. The ONE THING for the 27th is just to put all the gifts in their place.
If you have returns, you can put them back in their shopping bags with the receipts.
If they are clothes, wash them – or just hang them in your closet.
Toys can be UN-packaged, assembled, and loaded with batteries as the kids make their way through the toy pile.
The gift boxes and bags can be salvaged, folded and sorted into a pile for next year. I keep a couple of totes in the basement for gift wrap. One is for Christmas wrap and one is for Birthdays and all other occasions. Stash them in there.
I know the urge to PITCH IT ALL!
But I am always glad when I don’t have to spend $4.95 to put the thing that I bought in something that I can wrap paper around, that also costs, $4.95 so that I can give the actual gift.
Look at you! Already saving $10 for Christmas next year! 😉
Eat some left overs, and call it a day.
A couple of days into the restful Christmas break before the writing and planning and goal setting for the New Year, I’ll have a clean out day. I clean out the closets and drawers and have the kids do the same in their rooms with their clothes and toys. Honestly, for the kids, it’s BEST to have them do this before Christmas, as they write their wish list to Santa. I have seen some very creative ways to entice children into giving and donating their old toys in anticipation for the new.
It makes putting their new toys away so much easier!
I try not to stress over this, and I just do an hour or so at a time. Put on some good music, or a podcast and turn your thoughts ahead to what you want to accomplish in the New Year. Organizing makes for great alone time in your own head!
As you make your way through the house, bring the bags out to the trunk and at the end of the week make a haul to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, World Relief, or Veteran’s drop-off center.
This is another way you can bless not just your own home and mindset, by clearing out the clutter – but you can bless other’s as well. One man’s trash really IS another man’s treasure.
Disassembling the Tree
I save the taking the tree down until I need to go back to work. Usually around the 6th of January. I don’t know, I just like it to be up all through New Year’s and into Boxing Day, which I don’t actually celebrate, but it just feels festive to me to have the tree and the lights up through early January.
Gather everyone in the house, crank up the music, and create an assembly line putting all of the stuff away that you got out a few weeks ago, in reverse order. Throw it all back in the Christmas tote.
If you are especially brave, you can purge old decor that you’re not that into anymore. Or reorganize the tote for easier placement next year.
To be honest, I have been stuffing decorations back into those totes for the last 20 years. I kind of like keeping all the older decor so i can mix it up – I’ve gone from a flocked artificial tree with blue and silver ornaments, to a more traditional multicolored tree, to rusts, golds, reds and creams to match the living room decor (yikes), and now it’s black fishnet ribbons and red boudoir feathers and sparkly silver spikes.
The Rest of It
I usually leave the wreaths and the window boxes in place throughout the rest of the winter. In Illinois, January, February, and March can be pretty darn bleak, and I don’t mind a little greenery one bit.
As the weather warms, I’ll spend a day putzing around in the yard pulling out the decorations, repacking the totes, and tossing out the evergreens as I cut back the plants.
Basically, I leave the evergreens in place as long as they still look good and aren’t making a mess.
So, that’s how to survive the aftermath of Christmas. Take it slow and allow yourself some restful recovery as you enter the New Year.
I like to ‘make a night out of it’ for wrapping gifts.
Let’s back up a step. First of all, we stash all the gifts in one easy to relocate hiding spot, (in an empty tote in the basement with all the other totes. Totally boring and they’ll never look in there!) and then when the kids were overnight somewhere, we pulled them all out.
We have a system.
I put things in piles for who gets what and Mario removes the price tags, wraps in tissue paper and places in the gift boxes. He sets all the receipts and tags aside and I place them in an envelope at the end of the night.
I wrap and tag (or ya know, write a name in on the package with a Sharpie).
Yes, it’s still kind of a nightmare and my back still hurts and I still loose the tape and the scissors on repeat. And my husband STILL finds the need to tell me that he hates it.
But, hey, we’re in this together.
When our kids were little, Santa wrapped all their gifts in a specific wrapping paper color just for them. Pick a color for each child – ideally their favorite color, or choose a color that most matches their persona that is frequently used in Holiday wrap.
No handwriting required.
Start something new:
A friend of mine doesn’t wrap the gifts from Santa at all. The big gifts are from Santa and they are sat out on display. Picture a doll house ready to play or a tricycle assembled and ready to ride.
The wrapped gifts are from Mom & Dad. She wants her kids to know that there is a limit to what they can receive – and to be thankful towards Mom & Dad as well. I think this is awesome! It also helps them to learn to be givers, as they exchange gifts with their parents as well because they exchange gifts with their mom and dad – something they made or something they can afford out of their own budget.
The holidays are a time for traditions – pick your favorite ones from your childhood, or adopt an other’s. Do what works best for you – so that you can enjoy the season.
ACTIONABLE STEP: Pick a night and grab a buddy and get to wrapping. If you don’t have a partner to pair up with (or they just WON’T or you are just like, NO. then maybe pair up with a sister, a neighbor, or a friend. Take turns helping one another. I promise it’s GOT to be more fun with a friend.
Miriam is back with an eyeliner tutorial. I hope that you can master this in time to rock it at your Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.
Do you have issues with your eyeliner? I know that I do. I get one damn near perfect and then the next one is all wonky. Actually the second one is just as perfect (from a safe personal space distance)
Today I’m sharing one of Miriam’s You Tube videos teaching us how to conquer that wicked line with a liquid eye liner.
Full swing into December – do you have your decorating done?
Decide what you MUST have. Maybe it’s a tree, maybe it’s a wreath, maybe it’s the nativity scene.
List them in order of importance to you and then set aside allotted times to do the most important ones first. If you run out of time and energy – maybe that’s okay. Give yourself permission to not have a perfectly decorated house if that’s not in the cards for whatever reason – time, budget, energy.
We have a smooth running system. It’s not elaborate, but it works for us, and it leaves me plenty of time to enjoy down time, hygge, and other festivities.
We do a live tree every year.
My husband usually preps before I get home from work. He’ll move the furniture around in the living room to accommodate the tree, get out a plastic sheet and the tree stand.
We usually go out to eat that night to save time. When the kids were little, we did it on a Friday night, so we made a family night out of it, and that tradition has more or less stuck.
For, us Getting the Christmas tree = Dinner Out.
After dinner, we drive to Lowe’s and pick a pre-cut tree from the lot.
Throw that fresh-cut and baled tree in the back of the van, and viola! Get home put it in the stand, jack around with making sure it is straight, water it with hot water, remove the baling, pull down the branches, and vacuum the carpet. Lay the tree skirt down.
Let the branches fall over night.
The next day I put on the lights, ribbon or garland.
Do Not Be A Kill-Joy
I used to be obsessive about this and I’m not proud of this at all. My daughter mainly remembers me being a ball of rage untangling those lights and making sure that the wires were hidden just so – barking at her to “Get back in your room! I’ll let you know when I’m finished!”
Talk about stealing joy.
Listen, turn the lights off in the room, squint your eyes and walk to the other side of the room. See? It looks perfect.
These days, we set up a chair on each side of the tree, put on some 80’s rock on Pandora and pass the light string back and forth. Done, and done.
Then I do the ribbon, garland, or other trim. I change it up every few years.
Switch it Up
This year I used feather pics and black fishnet ribbon.
Next, we all put the ornaments on the tree. Pack it up, throw a frozen pizza in the oven. Done, Done, and Done.
Water and vacuum on repeat throughout the holiday season.
The following day is Sunday. If I have time and energy, I’ll decorate outside and the mantle. But if I’m not feeling it – I just might skip it all together or get back to it another day.
I buy a wreath to hang on the mantle. I hang mini ornaments on the wreath, or add a ribbon. It’s simple, beautiful, and the fresh evergreen smells amazing.
The Window Box
I usually cut all the dead flowers from the window box, buy a bundle of mixed evergreens – or take the cut branches from Lowes’ when we pick up the tree.
I’ve got a tote that has outdoor decorations in it – which is basically indoor decor that is worn out or I’m tired of looking at on the tree. I’ll fill in the window box with these mixed evergreen branches, some lights, some ribbon, ornaments, etc.
This year, I also bought a Charlie Brown tree at Lowe’s and set it up with lights and tiny ornaments next to the window box.
If there is enough evergreens, I’ll also fill in the hanging baskets on Shepard’s’ hooks in the flower beds.
I’d love to hang swags with lights all up and down my fence and put lights on my roof line, but that has not happened yet – and I’m okay with letting that go, because it’s not my main MUST have decor.
Think about an element of surprise. For us, we wrap the knight in shining armor in lights and add a Santa hat. Technically, it is maybe not such a surprise anymore, because we’ve been doing it for a few years running now.
I also love the idea of adding mini Christmas trees to your kid’s rooms. Our daughter got a mini metallic pink tree in high school that we decorated with mini ornaments and beaded strings.
We have a guest room upstairs that I’d love to do a small artificial tree for some time. I’d like to do a white tree with a really colorful theme. And all the kid’s nostalgic ornaments of their favorite characters. In my fantasy, I wrap the whole tree in Saran wrap and tuck it into the attic crawl space until the following year.
What’s your must haves? What is your decorating system?
ACTIONABLE STEP: Determine your decor priorities. Pick a date to do each of them – one step at a time. When you are out of time, energy, or money give yourself permission to stop and enjoy the season either way.
At our last blogger’s meetup she led a discussion on video/vlogging for our audiences.
Informative though it was, what really got me was the personal connection aspect of it. You see, my blogging has gotten out of hand lately with all.of.the.things. I am writing posts three times a week, and I run a quarterly book club. I am planning a new website. And I have plans to launch a podcast.
Miriam helped me corral these all together – you see, all of these outlets help me to create a personal connection with other women.
Smart, ambitious women who are doing things that I admire and adore.
What can I say? I’m a girls’ girl and I am all about connection.
I am all about people, specifically women. Because, as adult women, it can be hard to stay in contact with your friends from high school and college. Or, we outgrow each other, or our kids aren’t in the same classes or the same schools with our mom friends anymore. Take your pick. It can be hard, and I don’t think we were built to walk this world alone. As much as we love our families, and dedicate our lives to them, it’s so energizing to be with a group of women who energize, inspire, and relate to you.
I want to introduce you, Dear Reader, (So Jane Austen – I’ve always wanted to do that!) to my people. To the the people who inspire me and are doing things that interest me. Because if I am interested in them, maybe you are too.
I hope you love my friend Miriam. That you enjoy her photography, that you watch her you tube channel – that you learn something fun in her tutorials and girly makeovers and cosmetic tips.
Miriam will be on the blog for the next several weeks to come.
I hope you enjoy this – and if you like this style of women connecting and friendships – then you’ll love my podcast. Coming soon. All.the.things….
Be sure to check back next week for an eyeliner tutorial.
ACTIONABLE STEP: Run – don’t walk – over to Freckled Glam and meet my girl Miriam – and don’t forget to subscribe to her You Tube channel for so much glittery glam goodness.
Have you started your Christmas/Holiday Shopping yet?
If you have – good for you!
If you not, I got you covered.
Making The List
Download the Christmas Shopping List & Budget and fill in the spreadsheet for your family’s buying needs. Determine much you will spend on each person. We tend to assign categories of people a specific number – parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews all have a dollar amount attached to that category.
Another day, sit down as a couple/family and fill in gift ideas. If you have kids in your house, you can include them on the planning and shopping for relatives – especially if it’s a cousin close to their age or if they have a special bond with Grandma, etc. It’s really important that we give our children the joy of giving to others – and not just receiving stacks on stacks on stacks.
I made this list back when the kids were younger and shopping for them was a BIG deal. I mean, you HAD to get Christmas just right, it was everything. You can filter it out so that the kids are hidden & print two separate lists. One for you and one for Santa. This was super helpful to me when I was trying to balance the needs of multiple kids getting the same number of packages and equal(ish) spending.
Checking it Twice
The list gives you an opportunity to decide who you are buying for, how much their budget is, what you will be buying for them and what store you will need to get it.
The Christmas Shopping List & Budget also allows you to update your budget as you go. After each shopping day, update the list. If you go over budget on someone by $35 you’ll have to account for that out of another recipient’s budget (or another category) in order to stay on track. This could easily be accounted for in a sale. If you have someone budgeted for a Hoodie- $50, and it’s on sale for $35 – win-win.
The Perfect Gift
For me, gift giving is all about finding someone something they will LOVE, it doesn’t have to cost the full budget price – it just has to be under that number and have a value that is around that number.
The best part of this list is in the archiving. Next year it will take you even less time, because you’ll save this one as Christmas 2017, and next year you’ll keep Christmas 2017, and save as Christmas 2018. The beauty is in looking back over the years – did we already buy her a crock pot? Oh, remember the year we gave all the niece and nephews hoodies? They loved that.
Shopping Plan of Attack
Plan out your shopping. Maybe you like to split it up and spread it out throughout the month. Smart! We did this when our kids were younger. We took turns staying home with the kids, doing dinner, homework, and bath nights while the other shopped for our people on the list. Now that our kids are older, Christmas shopping is not as consuming and I’d rather get it done in large chunks.
Last year, my husband and I laid out all of our shopping to knock it out in one day. We planned the sheet out ahead of time and then set out for breakfast at a local restaurant (what a TREAT!) and a plan of attack.
We then went to the stores, divided and conquered.
We didn’t get it all done in one day, but we had fun trying. Next time – we’ll add in a movie at the end of the night.
This method works best if you have a sitter for the day or the little ones are with grandparents.
Of course, online shopping is where it’s at. If you can sit at your computer over lunch or cuddled up on the couch after bedtime click-click-clicking – that’s the sweet spot!
Just update the spreadsheet every now and then so you don’t blow the budget. It’s hard to know what you are really spending when you have so much to buy and the purchases and the packages at the door just keep coming.
There is no right or wrong way – just have a plan and get it done so that you can enjoy your holiday season. Break your Holiday to-do’s into manageable chunks that fit in around your celebrations – without stealing your joy.
Do What You Love
You might need to say no to some things. That’s okay. Decide early on what you love about the season, what you can tolerate, and what really grates on your nerves. Plan your calendar accordingly and try your best to eliminate the things that are not joyful.
Save for Christmas Year-Round
It can be shocking to see how much you actually spend on Christmas. If you don’t already use a Christmas savings account, take this as an opportunity to set up an account that automatically drafts from your checking account to a savings account.
I like to use Capitol One 360, formerly ING Direct, because you can nickname the separate accounts – the accounts aren’t just a series of numbers. There is something very satisfying about having an account with Christmas or New Car – Don’t Touch.
Divide the budgeted amount by 12 and set that amount to draft to savings automatically.
Example: Budget is $1200. Each month $100 is drafted to your Christmas savings account. You can also do it twice per month if you’d prefer to draft $50 every two weeks instead.
I hope that you find this download useful and that my shopping tips can be helpful to you. Above all else, I wish you happiness & contentment this Holiday season. I know it can be stressful, and that it’s not a jolly time of year for everyone. Give yourself permission to do what is joyful for you – whatever that may mean.
Spend Time Together
Christmas should not be about the gifts, so if the gifts have you feeling stressed – let everyone know you’re cutting back this year but you’d love to spend time with them. Go to a movie or have a game night at your house. Drive around to look at Christmas lights or walk through a decorated parkway, followed by a hot chocolate in a coffee shop.
It may seem scary to do that – but I bet you’ll look back on it as a great Christmas.
If you have really little children – I think it’s totally fine to get their gifts at a Goodwill store. Clean them up and lay them out magically under the tree.
ACTIONABLE STEPS: Download the Christmas Shopping List & Budget and fill in the spreadsheet for your family’s buying needs and how much you will spend on each person.
Pick a day you can sit down and fill in the gift giving ideas and budget numbers.
It’s a big world and there is so much to see, but we loved every minute we had there and we met some fantastic people we hope we get to see again someday.
We missed a lot of things in Dublin, and I’d like to make it back if only to do the Fairies and National Leprechaun Museum. We never finished the hop-on/hop-off tour as we hopped off at Trinity College and never got back on! We missed the entire Temple’s Bar neighborhood and the oldest pub in Ireland. I’d love to do a tour with the Yellow Umbrella folks of the South side – we only had a chance to do the North Side. I’d love to do a day trip to the hills/mountains outside of Dublin.
We met a couple there, Peter and Lorraine, we exchanged emails with them and we’d love to meet up with them again one day.
We missed the Giant’s Causeway. We had this scheduled for the day of the storm, and everything was shut down. The roads were windy and not safe for driving, and the seaside is definitely not where I want to be as a hurricane is approaching. You win some, you let some go.
We missed the entire Dingle Peninsula and I have a good word from our new friends, Tony and Marion, that Dingle is their favorite bit of Ireland, so I must go. Also, there is a friendly dolphin I’d be charmed to meet his acquaintance.
We missed the Aran Islands. Again, there was another pretty big storm on the Saturday following the Monday hurricane. I want to go to this place that is visible from the Cliffs of Moher. We saw the light house and the tiny little houses from the cliffs with our binoculars, but, I want to experience this land where Gaelic is still the primary language, where all of the beautifully handcrafted knitting comes from, where there are wide open, untouched fields. Tony recommended we not go at this time of year – he said “It’s just a bunch of rocks laying on the ground!” How to explain to him that I think the isolation and wandering around alone with my thoughts and the stones on the ground are what I came to see?! I’m glad we didn’t go that day, though. The weather was chilly and I don’t care to be stranded outside all day with nothing other than my rented bicycle in inclement weather. Marion recommends we go back in the spring time when the flowers are blooming – and I am so all over that!
We missed the entirety of County Cork, which was also mentioned as a favorite among locals.
Marion has extended a welcome to her Equestrian riding school, where her horses were used in the Game of Thrones Series. Which I *gasp* have not seen. Besides, I’m much too excited about riding horses through Northern Ireland to care much about watching t.v.
I think it’s important to note: there will always be things that you miss when traveling. Schedules and itineraries are an important part of the planning process. But just as important is leaving time for meandering through the hillsides and pulling over on the side of the road when you see an hauntingly beautiful cemetery, or a whimsical castle with Irish horses frolicking in the background. << This happened to us and I am still losing my mind over the majestic wonder of it.
Make a pact with your fellow travelers to enjoy the whole trip – no matter what goes off track and what you miss. See what you can see, and come back again for what you missed. Don’t fret – and be thankful that you are one of the lucky ones who gets to travel the world.
ACTIONABLE STEP: Check put my Pinterest board to get a start your own Ireland Board. If you have any more recommendations for Ireland – throw them my way – I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Sláinte chugat. (sounds like Slawn-cheh ch(k)oo-at) Cheers, literally translates Good health to you.