“Simply having a wonderful Christmastime….”

“The word is out about the town to lift a glass, ah, don’t look down… Simple having a wonderful Christmastime.  The choir of children sing their song; they practiced all year long:  ‘Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong….'” –Paul McCartney, Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

If you celebrate Christmas like my family and me, I hope Santa was good to you. He certainly was to us!

One of my favourite moments actually happened a bit before Christmas!  A gift from my blogger Secret Santa came by 🙂

I didn’t get a picture of the package itself (I was too excited, can you blame me???) but it was gorgeous—arguably the best sheet of wrapping paper I’ve ever had (yeah, I’m easily excited by little things.  It’s a gift).

 

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How great is this???

 

My amazing Secret Santa even included notes for each item, explaining why she picked them out—she even made sure that the candy canes were vegan-friendly!

She took a chance hoping I like Harry Potter…luckily, I LOVE Harry Potter.  I’ve told quite literally everyone I’ve seen over the past few days about my “Little Harry Potter.”

The image on the right above includes an HP colouring book…and a model Firebolt!  Of course, I had to put together the latter for Little Harry Potter.

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More excitement?  A delicious-smelling candle (Pumpkin Spice!), perfectly tiny string lights (that may or may not be tormenting the dog’s corner 😉 ),the cutest little penguin erasers, and a copy of her mom’s book.  I can’t wait to sit by the light of the candle and lights, eat a candy cane, and start reading! 😀

A million thank yous to my brilliant Secret Santa, Cathleen!  I low-key want to be her best friend, so chances are you’ll love her too.  Check out Classy Cathleen and her social media here:

 

Stay tuned for more on my holiday adventures later this week!

Thanks, Joebama.

The 2016 Presidential election hit me really hard.  Like, weeks of a depressive state joined with an excess of alcohol hard.

imageNow, I’m hardly the only one. But a whole bunch of those of us affected—terrified, distraught, etc.—turned to humour for comfort.

What was the source of this therapeutic humour?  Current Vice President Joe Biden (ft. President Barack Obama and friends).

These memes have been my saving grace for the past several weeks, so why not share some of the best with my lovely roommates?

 

 

 

Hopefully these made you smile as much as they made me!  🙂

 

Warby Parker Home Try-On: What do you think?

So, my glasses are old.  Like, really old.  Better than nothing, but my sight isn’t great with them, let alone without.

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I HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT

So, when Warby Parker contacted me about testing their Home Try-On kit, I was pretty intrigued.  I’ve always gotten my glasses directly through my optometrist, but what better time than graduating in just over a year and needing to look professional  the present to try a nice name brand (granted, my glasses prior to these were Coach and I loved them, but still)?

Now, I haven’t fully come to a decision yet—will I buy one of the pairs from my WP kit?  Will I chicken out fall in love with a pair when I go for my eye exam?  Who knows?  But, some reader opinions maaaaay help me decide…. 🙂

First up:  “Welty” in Plum Marblewood

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“Lyle” in Beach Glass

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“Chilton” in Blueberry Buckle

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“Laurel” in Peacock Green

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“Daisy” in Aurelia Tortoise

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Disclaimer:  If you decide to take a bunch of pictures with various glasses, label them.  Don’t trust your memory, nor your ability to locate the insert which shows them in order.  The online order form will be your new best friend.  You know, so I’m told…

One more quick word on Warby Parker:  they’re kinda brilliant.  Check out this article for a breakdown of their unconventional and super-cool start (as well as an attractive picture of Ryan Gosling, you’re welcome).

So, what do you think?  Should I get one of the glasses above?  Comment below to let me know!  If you want to get your own Home Try-On, check out Warby Parker for yourself—you won’t be disappointed!

Still not sold?  According to Buzzfeed, Harry Potter would wear Warby Parkers.  

Monthly Goals Collab: December

Angela and Jazmine, of The Clutter Box and Fairy Lights & Dreams, respectively, came up with the brilliance of a Monthly Goal Collaboration, and I’m thrilled to be joining them and the other bloggers yet again this month!

An InLinkz Link-up

A Monthly Intentions post from TO&E on time?? Madness.  Pretty exciting, regardless.

First order of business:  Let’s look back on November.

Some high points:

  • Successfully Got Out More Often per Eventbrite’s GOMO concept. I went outside.  I saw people.  I did things.  And?  I didn’t die.
  • I made a conscious effort to see more people.  I had the college’s Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends from freshman year—some of whom I hadn’t talked to since!  I had some friends in town over Gettysburg’s Remembrance Day weekend and got to see them.  I bonded with my roommate.  I visited my family.  Not too shabby.
  • VEGAN HAPPINESS!! Not only did I get a lovely vegan Thanksgiving dinner both at school and at home, but I acquired vegan marshmallows, vegan hot chocolate, vegan nuggets (though not quite as good as VLife’s Noble Nuggets), AND vegan pudding.

Needs improvement:  

  •  As usual, the blog can only move upward from here.  My beloved Mac died on me early last month, so I’ve had to go to the dark side… If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve already met Bernie…send him your thanks for the better posting/social media/etc. to come here at TO&E!
  • Money. So, #NoSpendNovember didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.  Bills came, Black Friday came (granted, I allowed myself room for gifts, so I’m not that far off).
  • Things still haven’t been great, so my mood hasn’t been much better.  Need to remember to breathe.

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Second order of business:  Goals for December (the last goal set of 2016!!)

Money, Money, Money.

Step One:  Pay off the credit card (thanks, Black Friday). Step Two:  Make a payment on my Federal loans.  Step Three:  Win the lottery to pay for everything else (even though I don’t actually play it.

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Once again, improving the blog is a priority.  Send me your best tips!

Self Care?

I’m still not sold on the title of this goal.  But I really need to stop and breathe, do something for my own wellbeing.  I can do that.

Finish the Fall Semester with relative success

I’ve been way too stressed all this semester to not finish it out with something resembling good grades.  With all of my issues in the past few months, I’m not setting my standards too high, but finals are important for any sort of excellence!

Paperwork

I’ve finally taken my dad’s name legally!! Despite all the excitement to go along with that, I’ve got lots of technicalities to deal with—time to call the SSA, the DMV, all of my banks and schools, and work…. Time to buckle down and get a nice pen ready.

So…here’s hoping the gals of this collab can keep my motivation high! Feel free to let me know if you have any tips!

Forget FOMO

As I’ve mentioned in my November Intentions post, Eventbrite has recently introduced me to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)’s worst enemy…GOMO:  Going Out More Often.  With their inspiration, I set out to GOMO for a few weeks (and, *spoiler alert* for long afterward).

First of all, check out Eventbrite’s own take on GOMO here.  What strikes me the most in this idea is the idea of valuing experience over material objects (read more from Eventbrite on that topic here).  This idea has been bouncing around the internet, almost solely in relation to millennials, but it didn’t really hit me until I came across GOMO.  So that’s where I focused:  in going out more often, I strove to experience things rather than buy lots (even if #NoSpendNovember didn’t work out).

GOMO Case #1:  NYC

If you read about my New York City trip, you may have noticed that I didn’t feature any purchases in the post (besides food).  That’s because I DIDN’T BUY ANYTHING.  Not at Tiffany’s, not even with the credit card.  And you know what?  I had an amazing time.

GOMO Case #2:  Paint Night

My roommate invited me to check out a Paint Night on campus, and after too many terrible weeks for both of us (and with the promise of free alcohol {thanks, host provider!}), we trotted across a frigid campus (which has proceeded to get even colder….) to paint some pictures.  The hosts put a nightscape up on the projection screen and we all tried to imitate it, with various adjustments suiting our personal style.  You can see that mine and my roommates are vaguely similar but totally different at the same time!

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GOMO Case #3:  Wine Tasting

About a week after turning 21, I still hadn’t had a legal drink.  My best friend simply couldn’t stand for this and took me to the local wineries for a sangria at the first, then a super-classy tasting at the second.

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While I tasted the “Black Magic” blackberry wine, Shelby had a truffle of the same flavour!

GOMO Case #4:  Halloween Party

This one was technically in October, but it’s too great (and this selfie is far too priceless) to not include.  My boss and good friend had a party at his house, which just so happened to coincide with the evening before my birthday (and his father-in-law’s birthday!).  Between falling totally in love with his cat and eating snacks shaped like mummies, the night was a great success.  I even got to hang out with his wax figure of John Ericsson (yes, we’re history nerds).  To top it all off, another guest brought a whistle as part of his costume…that just so happened to be used on the RMS Titanic.  Cue fangirling on my part.

 

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I was Queen Elsa, not that I’m not always royalty. 😉

 

Overall?  My GOMO experiment was a great success.  Share your GOMO moments below or on our social media pages, and tag along as we keep up the good GOMO work! Inspired even beyond that? Try hosting a fitness class, fundraiser, concert, or your own creative event and sell your tickets with Eventbrite!

How to Have an Awesome *Vegan* Thanksgiving

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time of friends, family, and food.  For vegans like me, the food part can be a bit complicated—after all, the star of the meal is supposed to be a dead bird!

Nevertheless, with a little planning and preparation, vegans can enjoy Thanksgiving with the best of them.

Help with the cooking.

Don’t expect someone else to do all the work in accommodating you AND whoever else is coming for dinner.  Not hosting yourself?  Offer to prepare a veg-friendly side or meat alternative.  Sam at It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken has some awesome options, like these “8 Traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas Sides Made Vegan.”

It’s not that hard to replicate your favorite family recipe—almond milk and egg replacers and Earth Balance exist for a reason!  Many times, it’s the traditional methods that require these things, and a simple substitute is barely noticeable.

For the “meat and potatoes” portion of the feast, there are plenty of meat-free options available, if you want to substitute it (some people prefer to fill up on veggies and the like instead, and that’s totally okay too!):  check out Tofurky for everything from deli slices to Holiday roast!

 

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Be prepared for the comments.

And don’t let them bother you.  Dad, Aunt Martha, and Uncle Joe might not understand  your reasons for not partaking of the “normal” food.  You’ll likely hear “oh, just eat it!” a few times.  It’s okay.  Take a deep breath and eat your non-guilt.

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Remember the “True” Thanksgiving.

You know when Christmas comes to town and people get all huffy about commercialization and the true meaning of Christmas?  Do that for Thanksgiving.  There’s more to it than food and heading to Target two hours before they open.

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If you still need some inspiration, be sure to check out this AMAZING Vegan Thanksgiving rap!   Most importantly, remember that I’m thankful for you all 🙂

‘When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.’

This year’s New York City trip was unofficially endorsed by How I Met Your Mother.  My best friend and I (note:  her Facebook album chronicaling the trip is titled “That time me and my platonic soulmate spent the day in the city.”  Platonic soulmate right here.  That’s me!”) spent the day travelling up and down the streets of Manhattan, getting lost a few times thanks to incompetent GPS (fun fact:  Central Park apparently confuses Google Maps profusely), stalking dogs, and compiling awesome quotes for posterity’s sake.  

After a lengthy, nap-filled bus ride, our day started off with Apple Maps (I’d just had to reset my phone, so pre-installed navigation app it was) deciding we weren’t actually walking and therefore that we had to follow the one-way streets several blocks away before arriving at our much-anticipated breakfast spot, a little vegan cafe called VLife (read about my first foray here!) .  With limited confidence, I decided I apparently knew the city better than the navigator and adjusted (admittedly using said map as backup, just in case).  We finally arrived at Vlife, anxiously awaiting food, when we realised that its weekend hours began at 11…another ten minutes or so.  With so much of our excitement based on eating at this specific place, we decided to wait it out, checking out the local Pret A Manger and some intense gothic architecture in the meantime (my art professor would later get to what about my lecturing Shelby [the other platonic soulmate] on flying buttresses—she never expected a spontaneous lesson in art history).  

The buttresses though. FLYING buttresses.


Finally, we made it into VLife, the first customers in just as they turned over their “open” sign a few minutes past eleven.  The big deal?  VEGAN BREAKFAST SANDWICHES.  Do you know how long it had been since I’d had a breakfast sandwich?  Me neither.  Regardless, this one was SO worth the wait.  Made with tofu (“egg”), veggie ham, and “cheese” and topped with a creamy sriracha mayo, it was a pretty perfect sandwich.  At Shelby’s brilliant suggestion, we also picked up an order of “Noble Nuggets,” which somehow replicate meat without all the grossness.  Bonus:  they came with ranch dressing!  Long before veganism and dairy allergies, I was the kind of person who put ranch on almost everything.  This reminder of it’s wonderfulness (in cruelty-free form) was pure happiness.  


From here, we headed uptown toward Central Park and Fifth Avenue, aka Tiffany’s, aka the primary reason I’m in love with this city.  Of course, we had to stop to see the sights along the way.  

One of these sights was the Empire State Building, at which we were those tourists with the selfie sticks—this was a therapeutic vacation, no shame y’all.  One of the men hocking touristy things outside stared chatting with me;  once it was clear we knew where we were going (when we weren’t utilising Google/Apple Maps), it turned into “oh, are you engaged?” (as I had my Tiffany ring on my right hand).  “…but is there someone in your life?”  

“Yes, there is,” interjected my soulmate/knight in shining armour.  The man pointed us toward Central Park (“just in case”) and we continued on our way.  

Continuing our tourism trend, I carried an almost empty Starbucks cup and a large snickerdoodle until we got to Tiffany’s.  What better way to express my appreciation than to recreate the iconic Audrey Hepburn scene?  Id berated poor Shelby with Breakfast at Tiffany’s facts every few minutes for our entire commute (to which she interjected Deep Blue Something lyrics), and now she became my photographer.  

“And I said what about eating a cookie awkwardly posed outside of Tiffany’s?”

We stepped into a few more stores, but eventually made it to Central Park.  Neither of us had really explored the park in all it’s glory, so we were excited to wander, even if we were about to walk a few thousand more steps than my already injured leg should have handled (heck, we’d long since surpassed that point).  

My biggest goal for this stop was to snap photos from one of my other nerdish obsessions—The Last Five Years. Unfortunately (for them), they blocked me from posting on their social media after I shared an earlier post I’d written gushing about the show (only a little bitter there).  Nonetheless, I remain a fan and dutifully passed by the Beresford, San Remo, and the Dakota, even struggling past the still-undefined covering over half of the latter.  


We also spent a good half an hour looking for Strawberry Fields (strawberry fiiieeelds FOREVER), then another twenty or so looking for the IMAGINE mosaic.  Thank you, Beatles, for an extra couple thousand steps.  


Then we made our way to what was arguably the highlight of our plans—McGee’s Pub.  For those of you have seen How I Met Your Mother, this was the inspiration of the legen…dary MacLaren’s!

Now, as Shelby hasn’t yet turned 21, we were a little worried I wouldn’t be able to have my all-important HIMYM cocktail.  Luckily, the “Pizza Hut exception” apparently applied, and I got my Gay Pirate.  Believe it or not, this thing was STRONG.  

Cutting through Times Square Like good little tourists, we headed back to Penn Station.  Jumping just slightly out of the way, we grabbed some dessert and teas from VLife and Dunkin before boarding—a worthwhile time investment!  


Here’s to next year!