“Merry Christmas, darling….”

“Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through, but I still have one wish to make, a special one for you…. Merry Christmas, darling.  We’re apart, that’s true, but I can dream and in my dreams, I’m Christmas-ing with you….”  —Merry Christmas, Darling (I like this version, by Lea Michele!)

That’s one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs (if you read my last post, here, you got an excerpt from one of my mom’s favourites!).

As promised, I’m following up with some more insight into my holiday festivities!

On Christmas Eve Eve (so, the 23rd), there was a family Christmas party (extravaganza, if you will) with my dad’s side of the family.  It was my first family gathering as a “real” Sebock (more on that in a post to come!), so it was extra special.  Bonus specialness?  My family from Texas (as of just a few years ago) came back to visit for the holidays!

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One big, happy, Czech-Italian family!  

I had a few drinks with my older cousins for the first time, which was pretty darn cool.  With a family this big, being somewhere in the middle gets a bit intense—do you belong with the adults or the little kids as a teenager??  Now, I get to sit at the big kid (host provider) table.

Most importantly, I got to catch up with literally dozens of loved ones.  The energy in the house was crazy awesome, and there were hugs all around.

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Aren’t we cute?

 

Now, let’s fast-forward to Christmas!  We started off with our Christmas Eve tradition—Christmas jammies!

 

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Yes, that’s a Yoda sleep mask.  How well does my mom know me??

 

Christmas Day came and most of the family wasn’t feeling well, but we kept up the cheer the best we could!  Some highlights of the morning were my sister’s new art set and my sheep socks—seriously, it’s the little things!

 

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Even Cooper was soon pooped from opening gifts!  

 

After a quick nap (like I said, everyone felt pretty gross, Christmas or not), my sister and I set to Christmas dinner-ing.  Mom had set up the Christmas ham for the omnivores of the house, but we made all the sides and my non-ham, so she could get some much-needed rest.

 

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It turned out pretty darn well!

 

Later, after some more rest, we got dressed and headed to Nanny and Pop’s, my mom’s parents.  Rachel wasn’t feeling well, so Mom and I headed off on our own.

We’d gotten them some pretty neat gifts, like a much-loved movie on DVD and an ornament featuring Ralphie and his bunny suit from A Christmas Story.  But they topped off the night with this gorgeous gift (in the world’s coolest box, which I unfortunately don’t have a shot of), along with a quick “Since you’ll be in Britain….”

 

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I’m in love.  

 

Sicknesses aside (still battling a migraine myself!), I’d say we’ve had a pretty holly jolly Christmas!

Here’s hoping you’ve all had a wonderful holiday season so far!

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“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 🙂