Holiday Round-Up

This holiday season has felt bonkers, and it FLEW by. I feel like I can safely say this has been the busiest holiday season I can remember. Thankfully, I got over my grinchiness by early December and I’ve been enjoying the holiday whirlwind. I will say, though…I still don’t know that I’d say I feel particularly Christmassy…I feel happy and excited and I’ve been enjoying myself, but I don’t have that cozy, warm, nostalgic feeling that normally comes with the holiday season. I’m going to chalk it up to unseasonably warm weather (up until the past couple of days, anyway), the fact that I’ve been so busy (with both holiday and non-holiday related activities) and that Christmas really seemed to sneak up on me this year. I feel like LAST Christmas was only a few months ago! Is this how the rest of my life is going to go?? Yikes!

Anyway, I thought I’d check in and give a run-down of I’ve been up to over the past few weeks.

After a really nice Thanksgiving spent with family, we went to pick out our tree and got to work decking the halls. For the past two years, we’ve bought our tree from a pop-up lot set up by our local Lion’s Club. It may not be as festive as going to a farm to cut our own tree or as cost-effective as buying a tree from a big box store or the sketchy guys who set up outside McDonald’s with a trashcan fire and a sign that says “ALL TREES $20,” but we really like the guys who work the lot and it feels good knowing that we’re helping a good cause. As always, we set our tree up while watching Bad Santa…although this year, we also added “A Very Murray Christmas” to the mix.

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I decided to branch out from all boring bulb ornaments this year, and I’m loving the results

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I decided I wanted to keep my birthday pretty low-key this year, so we celebrated with a dinner at the Melting Pot (I had never been and everyone kept telling me it was worth checking out), and and evening wandering around Longwood Gardens (a local institution that has a legendary light display every Christmas). It was a really nice, relaxing weekend – everything I was hoping for after a non-stop few months.

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Post dinner shot

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Huge Longwood tree

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Jeff and I both thought this tree was awesome with the lights all the way down to its roots…the lights even continued over to the other side of the footbridge!

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Birthday celebrations continued this last weekend with a birthday/holiday dinner with a few of my closest gal pals at my favorite restaurant, Terrain. It was great to get together and spend a couple hours laughing over wine and delicious food. One of my friends was even sweet enough to MAKE me a beautiful pallet sign for our house, and I can’t wait to decide where to put it!

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Obligatory latte shot from dinner

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Beautiful sign!

I’m off work today and tomorrow, and I’m getting ready to embark on my yearly Christmas cookie bake-a-thon. I’m baking a whopping THIRTEEN different types of cookies this year, and aside from the usual chocolate chip and my signature butter pecan cookies, I’m trying a couple traditional Italian cookies that my grandma used to make every year, along with a couple of totally new cookies (like frosted eggnog cookies and chocolate-cherry shortbread cookies). I think Jeff and I are going to catch up on the new season of Serial while I bake (along with lots and lots of Christmas music…mainly Hanson’s “Snowed In”, natch), and then I’ll pack up our yearly care packages to some of our close friends and family, along with our neighbors and co-workers. If baking about a million cookies and listening to 10 hours’ worth of Christmas music doesn’t get me in the spirit, I don’t know what will!

We also have a meeting with our travel agent this evening to discuss our honeymoon – eeeeek! I think I might be almost more excited for our honeymoon than our actual wedding…well, maybe not. It’s a toss-up. Suffice it to say that I’m EXTREMELY excited to nail down our final plans and actually start booking!

Other than that, Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye…only 4 days! I’m pretty much all ready…I have a couple tiny things left to wrap, but other than that I’m all set.

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I maybe went a liiiittle overboard with the gifts this year…also, can you tell which gifts Jeff wrapped? :-p

I hope everyone is having a very merry holiday season, and that you’re enjoying time with friends and family! Cheers!

Yearly Wrap-Up

Even though I don’t really blog anymore, I like to do a yearly wrap-up to look back on. Each year when I read the post from the year before, I’m always surprised to find at least a couple of things I had completely forgotten about!

It’s not even Christmas yet, but I just read over my year end post from last year because I was curious to see what “goals” I had set for this year. Well, turns out I didn’t set any (nice move, Genco! I like your style.), but, weirdly enough, I kind of accomplished my goals from the PREVIOUS year on a one-year delay. Better late than never? Let’s review:

The first goal I had set was “get back on track with a healthy lifestyle.” In my post from last year I was like, “Well this didn’t really happen, but I wasn’t a train wreck”…um, false. I just started regularly weighing myself this past spring so I don’t know if/how much weight I had gained throughout 2014, but I was looking VERY puffy in all of the pictures I have from late 2013/early 2014. But as I previously mentioned, ever since Jeff had his gall bladder taken out and I started using myfitnesspal in solidarity with him, I actually did get back on track (or whatever) with a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been less than disciplined so far this holiday season, but I’m getting a personal trainer in January to whip me in shape for the wedding, so I’m not too worried about it.

My second goal was something about my social life (I wasn’t specific in my post from last year, and I don’t feel like going back and looking at my post from 2013). I think it was mostly a growing pains/FOMO thing. As I mentioned in last year’s post, that kind of resolved itself naturally, just by nature of me and all of my friends growing up. I will say, though, that getting married when you’re a little on the older side is a little different, especially when all of your friends are in the same “transitioning” position as you are. I feel a little disconnected from ALL of my friends, and while I don’t really have a problem with it in general, it makes wedding planning a little awkward…I refuse to demand that my friends drop everything and consume themselves with my wedding, but it’s also harder to figure out what to do by myself and what to include my bridesmaids in. I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t want them involved, but I don’t want to burden them either. Luckily, I have a pretty small bridal party and they’re all amazing, so they’ve made it as easy on me as it possibly could be.

One thing I will say is that I’m going through kind of a lonely stage in life. I don’t crave crazy nights out or even co-dependent friendships anymore, but I also feel kind of empty sometimes. Up until this point, I’ve always had one “go-to” girlfriend who I shared everything with…as is normal with most women of a certain age. But now, since everyone’s growing up, I don’t really have that relationship anymore. A lot of my friends have started families, and while I absolutely have Jeff, it still feels kind of lonely with just the two of us sometimes. I’m really looking forward to starting our own little family, and while I don’t want to rush it, I feel like we’re really ready for that next stage in our life. It really is crazy how one minute it feels like being ready for children is light years away, and the next you want to be a mother RIGHT NOW. Until then I just keep reminding myself to not wish my freedom away, and take advantage of all of the time I have to myself that I won’t have anymore once I’m running after a little one.

Okay, next goal. That appeared to have been “house,” just in general. We actually did get some stuff done this year, so that feels good. We unexpectedly ended up needing to replace our furnace (which SUCKED), but the furnace that we had installed is much higher quality and more effective than the one that was here when we moved in (which, might I add, was only SEVEN YEARS OLD). And, of course, we had a new roof put on last January, so that will hopefully add some value to our house as well. We also replaced our kitchen faucet this year, and (the part I’m most excited about), we FINALLY made some headway on our guest room. Like, people-can-stay-in-there headway. Right now, the room is painted, curtains are up, and we finally have a complete bed (bedding and all)! It’s pretty bare right now – the only furniture other than the bed is a nightstand with a lamp, but it’s functional. We’re redoing the hardwood in early January. Yep, final decision – we’re redoing what’s already there (I think I already wrote about this…if anyone other than me is reading this, I apologize). We almost installed carpet – like, we picked out carpet, got an estimate, and we had an actual appointment to have it installed, but cancelled last minute due to some reliability issues with the carpet company. We decided to call the whole thing off and refinish the existing hardwood ourselves (with the help of our ever saintly neighbor Liam, of course), and Jeff actually wanted to start it tomorrow, but I asked him to wait until after the holidays. I already have a rug in there (over the hideous “area rug” that was in there when we moved in), so the only thing that will be left once the floors are done will be to replace the rainbow ceiling fan and swap out the dollar store window shades with…something else. Of course I’d like to put some more furniture and wall art in there, but that can happen gradually.

I guess my last goal was “take more pictures,” which…who knows if I’ll ever get that one. I’m so bad at taking pictures. I take pictures constantly of things that no one cares about, but when I SHOULD take pictures, I 100% don’t. For example, my mom and aunt visited in September to go wedding dress shopping with me, and I took exactly zero pictures the entire time they were here. My dad and brother came for Thanksgiving this year, and guess how many pictures I took during their visit? Zero. I guess if you want to be positive about this, you could say it means that I actually live in the moment and enjoy time with the people I care about instead of worrying about documenting everything, but jeez. I’d like to have at least a couple of pictures of various family gatherings. I’ve used the nice camera I bought last year on maybe 5 occasions. Thank god you don’t have to take pictures at your own wedding. I did take a LOT of pictures during our summer trip to Rhode Island, and I took a bunch of pictures at my brother’s graduation. So that’s something, I guess.

I say this every year, but all in all, this year was one for the books. I bought a new car, got engaged, won some awards at work, and have successfully (so far!) started planning my wedding, which I never thought I’d realistically be able to do. I’m definitely more stressed than I was at this time last year (reading my post last year, it seems like I was chill as could be…which does NOT seem like me, so go figure), but that’s to be expected when planning and paying for a wedding. Even if I had the worlds most renowned wedding planner to help and someone handed me $50,000 to pay for the whole thing, I’d still freak out about it…that’s just how I roll. So I’m a little frazzled, but I’m taking it in stride…I’m trying not to take my stress too seriously. Jeff has been great about helping to ease my mind when I’m feeling particularly high-strung, which is just one of the million reasons that make me feel like the luckiest gal in the world to be sealing the deal this summer.

The upcoming year will obviously be an exciting whirlwind…I’ll be wedding planning all throughout the first half of the year, and then of course I get MARRIED in August (whaaaaat…!?). Our honeymoon will be my first time in Europe so I’m SUPER pumped about that, and then soon after that we’ll probably start planning our family. I’ve never been one to rush that sort of thing and I never planned on trying for a baby right after getting married, but Jeff and I will have been together for 8 years when we get married, and we feel ready. Plus, who knows how long it will take for me to actually get pregnant…if I even can at all (god willing). So, we’ll see how it goes and hope for the best.

Aside from that, I’ll probably be transitioning to another new position at work in the next several months, so that will be an adjustment as well. I’m hoping seasonal depression doesn’t hit me too hard this year…I’m planning on using the same strategy that worked so well for me last year and keeping busy. (I don’t really have to try this year…I’m just naturally busy!) I’m a little weary, though, because I feel like it’s already hitting me…I went into kind of a funk towards the end of November, and had a tough time getting into the Christmas spirit (which KILLED me – everyone knows what a Christmas freak I am). I’ve pretty much pulled out of it at this point by VERY aggressively decorating, but it makes me nervous. It’s been really warm so far this winter (I guess it’s not technically even winter yet), and I think the weird, warm, kinda gloomy weather has been bumming me out. That, combined with the fact that I was spending time outside almost literally every day during the summer and fall, and just kind of abruptly stopped probably did it. I’m hoping the fact that I’m going to focus way more than normal on fitness for the first half of the year will help keep the sads away. Fingers crossed!

I guess that’s about it. I may be back with some more festive stuff since this post is way early, but who knows these days. Writing for a living really put the damper on writing for leisure (which kind of bums me out, to be completely honest). If not, have a wonderful rest of the holiday season, and I’ll talk to you in the new year!

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