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Happy Holidays!

happy holidays

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Happy Holidays!

I hope that, whether you’re celebrating a holiday today or not, you get to spend the day doing what you love with people you care about. Whether you plan to spend the day with family, friends, or on your own, I wish you a good day full of fun and relaxation – we could all use a little more of both lately!

I’m off to spend the day hiking, eating way too many cookies, and visiting family in the area. Tonight I’ll probably throw on some pajamas, curl up under a blanket with some hot cocoa, eat some more cookies, and watch one of my favorite holiday movies.

Tomorrow is “Thank You Note Day,” so make sure you have your notes, pens, and stamps ready to thank everyone for the lovely gifts and hosting they did this year! I know that’s what I’ll be doing while I recover from my holiday hangover!

Have a happy holidays, and I’ll be back on Wednesday to end the year in style!

2017 Holiday Outfit Ideas

Finding the right outfit for every holiday event can be exhausting. This year, I’m trying to take some of the pressure off myself and keeping things simple. Pinterest is always a great place to find inspiration, and I have a board just for holiday outfits! While I don’t have too many plans this year (at least not yet), if something comes up I’ll be prepared!

Here are a few “themes” I put together to get you through the holidays with staples you probably already have (plus a few goodies you can pick up for fun)!

The Office Party: Basic Black + Sparkle

2017 Holiday Outfit Ideas

The office holiday party can be tricky. What you wear depends on a lot of factors: where the event is, who’s going to be there, and whether you’ll have time to change beforehand. I’m a huge fan of wearing black work staples with a little extra holiday “kick.” Any of these outfits will look polished during the work day, then transition easily to a party in the office, drinks after work, or a formal corporate shindig. I usually aim for “festive professional” for holiday office parties, and all three  options fit the bill!

Brunch: Channel Emmanuelle Alt

2017 Holiday Outfit Ideas

I never understood “dressing up” for brunch with friends, so I suggest taking a cue from my casual, “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” Parisian muse, Emmanuelle Alt. Grab your favorite worn-in jeans, a neutral crewneck sweater, black ankle boots, and top it off with a classic peacoat or blazer. You’ll look chic AF while also giving off that “I didn’t try at all” vibe. If you really want to go a little “extra,” pile on the delicate gold jewelry or a rock brighter colored sweater…or both!

The Family Event: Fair Isle Sweater + Comfy Jeans

2017 Holiday Outfit Ideas

My family keeps things pretty casual for the holidays, and I also eat a TON during our Christmas get-togethers, so comfort is key. I never got into the whole “ugly sweater” craze because I’m from the Midwest where people still wear them un-ironically (and don’t want people to think I actually like wearing those tacky things). Instead, my idea holiday outfit is a fair isle sweater, comfy jeans (to accommodate for all the fudge I plan to eat), and some comfy shoes/boots. If your family get-togethers involve snowball fights with your sister’s crazy kids, a racist uncle or two, and lots of wine, this outfit will get you through.

New Year’s Eve: Add A Sequin Jacket

2017 Holiday Outfit Ideas

We almost never go out for New Year’s Eve, which is too bad because I have the perfect outfit that fits into almost any party scenario – take jeans and your favorite band tee, throw on a pair of colorful heels, then add a sequin jacket! It’s an unexpected, sparkly twist that requires almost no added effort. Sequin jackets look best with minimal makeup, slightly messy hair, and few accessories. Basically, you can just throw on the jacket and BOOM – instant rocker girl vibes!

If you want to see more outfit inspiration (or want to know more about each look), check out my “2017 Holiday Outfit Ideas” Pinterest board!

My Favorite Holiday Movies

Ah, holiday movies. Unlike Halloween movies, there aren’t many Christmas movies I actually enjoy. It’s not my favorite holiday to begin with, so that makes choosing even harder. Add to this one of my old favorites, The Ref, is now “off the list” thanks to the fact that it stars Kevin Spacey (#menruineverything). However, there are still a few that I don’t mind watching year after year. Here they are (and yes, this is pretty much all of them)!

My Favorite Holiday Movies

Love Actually (Amazon, $3.99/rent)

I could watch this movie just about any time of the year (and I do). It has so many amazing actors in it, and dammit if I don’t cry a little every time I watch it (damn you, Liam Neeson). It’s funny, a little sad, outrageous, endearing, sweet, and with just a hint of that good ol’ British self deprecation.

You also get to see a lot of people before they hit it big on television shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones (hint: he’s also in Netflix’s new show Godless), Mad Men, Westworld, and Sherlock. If this doesn’t get you in the holiday mood, I don’t know what will!

Bridget Jones’s Diary (Netflix)

Okay so this isn’t a “traditional” Christmas movie, but whatever – it mostly takes place around the holidays. In another great feat of British holiday humor, Bridget is a single, 32 year old woman trying to keep her shit together. Spoiler alert: she mostly doesn’t. My husband introduced me to this movie years ago, and we watch it pretty much every year.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Amazon, $3.99/rent)

No, this one isn’t even close to a holiday film, but when you watch the first one, you might as well pop in the second, right? I usually have a large glass of wine while watching this one, and you should too!

Frosty the Snowman (Amazon, $3.99/rent)

I used to watch this every year on TV as a kid. I cried every damn time Frosty melted in the greenhouse. You know you did too. Watch it with some kids, and see if it still holds up all these years later (and try not to cry like a little baby).

Scrooged (Amazon, $3.99/rent)

Okay, so I’ll admit this isn’t really one of my favorite holiday movies. However, it’s my husband’s all-time favorite holiday movie EVER. If you like your Christmas movies a little on the dark side, definitely check this one out. It’s got Bill Murray, ghosts, a familiar story, and a bitch with a toaster. What’s not to love?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Amazon, $9.98/blu-ray)

I must have had a bit of a dark streak myself growing up because this has to be one of my favorite holiday stories of all time. The grinch was my jam back in the day! Of course, the message is about how the holiday spirit lives in all of us, even those of us with the coldest, blackest of hearts.

It’s also a nice message about how “stuff” isn’t what the holiday is all about – a lesson I think more people need to hear nowadays. It warms my cold, dead heart and reminds me what the holidays are really about – dogs with antlers tied to their heads because that shit is ADORABLE!

Well, I’m off to throw in one of these and eat my weight in fudge! What are your favorite holiday movies? Do you go super traditional, or do you watch Die Hard? 😉

My #ShopLocal Gift Guide!

#shoplocal gift guide

In addition to shopping online for gifts, now is the best time to #shoplocal! You can find unique gifts for everyone while supporting great local businesses in your area.

The Seattle area has so many amazing local businesses, it’s tough to narrow it down to just a few. Whether you’re shopping for friends and family here, or looking to ship gifts across the country, there are so many great things out there! Here are some things I’m looking at this year to send out to loved ones (or get for myself)!

My #ShopLocal Gift Guide: Seattle

Boehm’s Candies

The Seattle area is home to several local chocolatiers, but this one is my favorite. For one thing, it’s about a 5-minute drive from my home in Issaquah! They have amazing holiday chocolates (including solid dark chocolate Santas), licorice, and even dog treats!

Jungmaven

I found out about Jungmaven through IndieGetUp, a site dedicated to helping you find local shops in your area. They make hemp and cotton clothing, bedding, and other fun accessories. I’m seriously digging the Sherpa Crewneck Sweatshirt – it looks so lived-in and comfy!

Stumptown Coffee

Okay, so technically this company started out in Portland, Oregon, but it’s still a local favorite of coffee shops around the Seattle area. Their Hairbender blend is one of my favorites, and it pairs well with just about anything I put in it! Their packaging is also gorgeous, which makes for a great gift during the holidays!

Big Dipper Wax Works

Based in Seattle, this candle company is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I’ve burned through a few of their Meditation candles this past year, and I can’t wait to stock up on more! They make great stocking stuffers or gifts for the office!

George’s Sausage & Delicatessen

If you’re a good little Polish lady like me, Christmas means eating your weight in kielbasa. If you live in the Seattle area, head downtown to check out George’s for all the kielbasa and Polish goodies you can carry! It’s honestly the best kielbasa I’ve ever had, and I need to get back out there soon to stock up for the holiday season. They also have a ton of Polish candy, pickled everything, and wine…tons of wine!

If you’re looking for local shops in your area, check out IndieGetUp to see what your state has to offer!

The Afternoon Glow 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Every year, I try to put together a holiday wish list, and usually come up short. Not this year! I found plenty of fun things to get for your wellness-obsessed friends, woke witches, and hygge masters!

Enjoy the list, and come back on Wednesday when I share my favorite local gifts from the Pacific Northwest!

For the friend who is all about wellness…and coffee:

2017 holiday gift guide

Stonn Stainless Steel Electric Milk Frother ($6.95, Amazon)

To thicken up a bullet coffee, matcha tea, or a superfood latte, I highly recommend grabbing your coffee-obsessed friends a handheld frother. It’s small, easy to store, and does the job!

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder ($15.00, Amazon)

I’ve recently gotten into adding “extras” to my coffee, and collagen is a great place to start! It’s tasteless and mixes in well with whatever morning drink you prefer. I also find it thickens my almond milk lattes a little more! Give your friends the gift of amazing hair, skin, and nails along with their favorite coffee or tea!

4th & Heart Vanilla Bean Ghee ($10.94, Amazon)

Adding extra fat to coffee is a great way to add flavor and helps your body absorb caffeine more slowly throughout the day. Ghee is a healthy option, and this one contains a little vanilla to add some flavor and sweetness. Plus, the packaging is adorable and would look great in a gift basket!

Kate Spade Travel Mug ($18.00, Amazon)

You can’t have a beautifying drink in an ugly old mug! Grab your friend a pretty one like this floral Kate Spade travel version, and they can start the day on a pretty note!

For the feministas in your life:

2017 holiday gift guide

 

“Feminist Killjoy” Sweatshirt ($23.90, Etsy)

I really, really want this sweatshirt – and I want to buy it for all my fellow “feminist killjoys” out there! It will keep you cozy and warm while dismantling the patriarchy, or telling an ignorant relative or two where to stick their “not all men” argument during your next holiday get-together.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Prayer Candle ($12.95, Etsy)

I think prayer candles are beautiful. They are even more beautiful when covered with beautiful images of our favorite feminist icons! This Etsy shop also has candles for my other two role models – Ilana and Abbi from Broad City! Get them all, and channel your inner feminist badass!

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ($17.95, Amazon)

If you haven’t checked this book out yet, get one for yourself and all your bookish friends. It’s an important read if you want to better understand how society, higher education, and advertising have been oppressing women for…well…forever. Since this book is over 50 years old, keep in mind it does largely gloss over women of color and doesn’t address other sexualities – but it was the start of a conversation that later included those groups.

Tiny Smudge Kit ($5.95, Etsy)

I’m not a big spiritual person, but there’s nothing wrong with ridding the world of bad energy however we can, right? This is a great stocking-stuffer idea for your wellness-loving friends, and cheap enough you can grab one for yourself while you’re at it!

For that friend who could use a little hygge:

2017 holiday gift guide

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living ($10.69, Amazon)

The Danes are some of the happiest people in the world – and it’s no wonder! The concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) promotes comfort, staying in the present, and enjoying friendship. They also believe it’s okay to let go of perfectionism to indulge once in a while. This would be a great book for that friend who could use a little break during the stressful holiday season!

Pendleton Plaid 5th Avenue Throw Blanket ($159, Pendleton)

Comfort is a big part of hygge, and this cozy wool blanket would be perfect for curling up under with a good book! They come in so many patterns and colors, you could find one for everyone!

Lavender Scented Soy Wax Candle ($15, Etsy)

Candlelight is another great way to bring some coziness into your life, and this one smells calming and warm. Lavender is a great scent for relaxing after a long day, and staying in the present.

Cable Knit Knee-High, No-skid Socks ($10.90/pair, Amazon)

It’s almost impossible to get cozy vibes with cold feet! These socks are warm, fuzzy, and have anti-slip grip so you can wear them all over the house! I can’t wait to pick up a pair in every color!

 

Life on Instagram: January

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone is doing well, and getting hyped up for the weekend!

Today, I thought I’d share my favorite Instagram photos from the past month! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at @afternoonglow!

Life on Instagram: January

(Clockwise from top-left)

Packing away the holiday decorations! / Enjoying the pretty flowers my mother sent me while planning for the new year / Started off the year working on a few DIY projects! / New mantle decor to bring in some color (and more candles)

Life on Instagram: January

Started off the year with the lightest dusting of snow. / Breaking in my new trail running shoes / The fog here is serious…and creepy / I’ve only been out hiking twice in January, so I’m sharing both!

Hope you had a great start to the new year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for February!

Friday Favorites: The End…for now

Friday_Favorites_Holidays

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for the delay – cleaning the apartment yesterday took longer than I expected. It ended in me taking apart our vacuum cleaner. There was so…much…hair in there.

Anyhoo, here are some links I’ve been enjoying around the internet lately! I think this is my last Friday Favorites of the year, so I better make it count, right?

  • So I guess instead of naming their children after characters in Frozen, parents are naming their children after Instagram filters? I guess all the new Ludwigs will fit in nicely with the Olafs out there? Parents are weird. (Apartment Therapy)
  • I tend to get super lazy about cooking after the holidays, probably because the lead up to Christmas is a flurry of baking and high expectations. Goop offers up their favorite one-pan dinners as a nice solution when we’re all feeling like something comforting and easy. That, and doing less dishes is always a good thing! (Goop)
  • Design Sponge did a travel guide for…strangely enough…Toledo, Ohio! They listed a ton of places that I’ve never been before, and a few that were a huge part of my growing up in the area. If you’re from there, but haven’t visited downtown in a while, check it out – it sounds hipster central, but hey, isn’t everywhere now? (Design Sponge)
  • MODG IS BACK!!!!! This was one of my all-time favorite blogs back in the day, and after a bit of a hiatus, she’s back with even more snark, period humor, and brutal honesty that’s sadly missing from blogging these days. Welcome back!
  • If you’re looking for an elegant, simple no-bake cookie recipe for the holidays, House & Home has you covered. They made a beautiful video tutorial on how to make the most indulgent, decadent holiday treat- buckeyes. Yes, chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls. I laughed my way through it, but I also kinda want one now. (House & Home)

Well there you go! I hope you all have a great weekend! I’m trying my best to avoid the Star Wars mania around here (because I am the asshole out there who doesn’t care), shop for new sneakers, and start on that baking/high expectations marathon I mentioned earlier!

Holiday Decor: A Compromise

2015_Holiday_Decor_2

Holiday decorations in our home are a bit of a struggle every year, and it’s the one time of the year I have the toughest time compromising for one very big reason:

I hate Christmas. More specifically, I hate Christmas decorations.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy the holiday season in general. I like the good mood most people are in, the twinkling lights, all the cookies and candy, and yes, even snow (as long as I’m not driving in it). However, as someone who lives the other 11 months out of the year in a simple, clean, clutter-free house, Christmas decorations represent the very opposite to me, and it stresses me out.

I would love to have one of those homes with a simple tree, and the only sparkle coming from twinkling lights. Instead, I usually end up with a house covered in sparkly garland, snowflakes taped to the walls, and an enormous tree covered in mismatched ornaments. Why do I end up doing this to myself?

My husband.

He lives for this shit. This is the only holiday he actually likes, and he pitches a major fit every year when I want to simplify things. He gets all geeked out about buying ornaments, stringing random glittery things all over the place, and generally annoying me by making every Christmas song into something raunchy or gross.

In fact, the mantle you see above isn’t how I originally decorated it. When I did it, there were no tiny houses, candy, and the only toys were the nutcrackers. I also have candles up there that I actually lit every day for about a week (now I can’t because everything up there is a legit fire hazard).

2015_Holiday_Decor_3

As we do every year, we struck a compromise. I let him indulge himself with this “tiny town” idea he had, but that was it. Hence the tiny houses all over the mantle and on the ground – like I said, when he gets an idea, he goes for it.

In exchange, there will be no snowflakes taped to the walls (if you can’t tell, that was my least favorite of his past ideas) and no extra stuff around the house. Christmas is kept to the living room only, and frankly, I’m okay with that.

2015_Holiday_Decor_4

Someday, I will get my Pinterest-worthy holiday, but until that day comes I have to live with Christmas as a combination of what I want and what my husband clearly needs.

Besides, after Christmas is over, I get my living room back…and I can’t wait to do some redecorating. 🙂

Holiday Cards: 5 Pieces of Advice

Holiday Cards: 5 Pieces of Advice

Now that it’s December, it’s time to start getting serious about those holiday cards! Maybe you’ve already had your family photo taken, ordered custom designs, or if you’re really on top of things, you popped them in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. Or, if you’re like me, you bought them but haven’t sent them out yet.

While I am pretty easygoing about holiday cards, I do have a few rules I live by when it comes to sending out cards – and a few pet peeves. So without further ado, here are 5 pieces of advice that will make giving (and receiving) cards a smooth process!

Holiday Cards: 5 Pieces of Advice

Don’t Procrastinate!

It’s still early, so don’t panic yet – but don’t sit there thinking you’ve got time, either. Now is the perfect time to get started! Make a list of everyone you want to send cards to and their addresses. Then, sit down and write a few each night, instead of killing your hand trying to write out 100 cards in one night!

Generally, if you are sending most of your cards locally, getting them out by December 15th is fine. If you’re like me, and they’re all going cross-country, aim for December 10th at the latest. That way, you’ll be sure it gets to their home by Christmas. Hanukkah is December 6-14 this year, so if you’re aiming to deliver cards to your Jewish friends on time, you’d better get on it now!

When in Doubt, Go Neutral

Every year, I love getting cards from friends and family all over the country – and no, I don’t care if they’re Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, or general “Happy Holidays” cards. I like them all, and I could not care less what they say on the front.

I still don’t understand why people get so angry over getting a card that doesn’t explicitly reflect their own preferences – it just seems rude to me. I don’t want my Jewish friends sending me a Christmas card if that’s not what they celebrate, and I wouldn’t want them calling to yell at me for sending a card with something vaguely “Christmasy” on it.

That being said, I go with a neutral holiday card anyway. I think mine this year have candy canes on them or something. I do this because I don’t want to send out two sets of cards, or try to keep straight who gets which.

I say choose a design you like, and don’t worry about it. If your luxurious Uncle Donald wants to pick a fight with you at dinner because your card didn’t say the word “Christmas” on it, tell him to straighten out his combover and grab another eggnog. It’s not that big of a deal, honestly.

Everyone Signs The Card

I’m not joking on this one. If you are old enough to write your name, you sign the card. Don’t make your girlfriend/wife/mother do it for you – it’s a huge pet peeve of mine, and it just comes off as tacky.

If you are a baby, obviously your mother will bail you out…or she’ll make you scribble on it with crayon, which in that case you go nuts.

No More Year-End Letters

My other major pet peeve is the annual “holiday letters.” Please stop sending these. I’ve never read one of these that didn’t come off as smugly over-righteous.

They’re all kind of the same anyway – your kids are the best at everything, you get to go on better vacations than all of us, your marriage is more pure and faithful than ours, and you had a cyst in your arm drained four times last spring. If I want to read all about how much better you are than me, or your family’s gross medical abnormalities, I’ll go check my Facebook feed.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering – I do read them solely to judge you for your horrendous grammar and spelling skills. I can’t help it.

Saying Thank You

Thank you cards are tricky. It’s a good idea, but not always necessary – so here is how I do it:

Send a Thank You card if:
  • …the card came with a gift of any kind. Even a $5 Starbucks card warrants a thank you note. Even if you plan to see the person during the holidays, a note is still a nice gesture.
  • …you forgot to (or didn’t) send them a card. Send it immediately, and if you want to be less obvious, make it a “Happy New Year” card instead. If they made the effort, so should you – even if it is late.
  • I’m with Jenna Lyons about one exception to the hand-written card: sending a short email if the gift is something delivered by a third party, like flowers or candy. It’s nice to let the person know their delivery showed up on time, rather than making them wait a week or two to find out via a card in the mail.

This obviously doesn’t cover the post-holiday thank you notes, which you should send to anyone who gave you a gift, hosted a party you attended, or babysat for you while you got hammered on New Year’s Eve.

Well, now I’m off to get my list ready.

I also need to find out where to post office is around here so I can buy stamps. The stamps I have left are still from Ohio, if that tells you anything about how often I buy stamps.