Blogmas Day #13 // The Gift of All Gifts

Let’s face it, as an only child, birthdays and Christmas are amazing! Why? Well, simply because it’s literally all about you. Although my parents did have a lot of disposable income, and expensive gifts were not really a thing, I received very thoughtful and wonderful gifts as a child. It really was a reflection of how well my parents knew their child. I was a creative and artistic kid, and I often got gifts that reflected that.

The most memorable gift I’ve ever received, the gift of all gifts, was an electric guitar I received when I was 15 years old. As much as I loved it, I never got very good at it, and eventually, it started to collect dust. Regardless of this, it was still a very special and symbolic gift. Gifts are often funny like that. It has very little to do with the product, and everything to do with the intention.

And, I believe, the intention was an investment – not only a big monetary investment, a sacrifice from a parent, but also an investment in a child’s interests and personality. It closed the gap between us, and although at the time, and perhaps for many years to follow, it did not seem this way, I saw them on a different level – as people, I guess. My love and understanding of who they were, not only parents but as people, was solidified that Christmas.

A message was sent at this time – perhaps even they did not know they were sending it – be that as it may, at that moment and thenceforward, I felt advocated for. Until this day, I feel that my parents are experts at helping me cultivate who I am. In truth, I wish I had never let the guitar go, regardless of whether or not it ever got any use. It would have been a fantastic symbolic gift to give my children so they would also know I am forever their biggest fan.

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Blogmas Day #12 // Christmas Poem Pt. 2

December flies by, and so do our years,
Each time a surprise, or so it appears,
But you can depend, my love and my friend,
My heart to beat constant through
Hopes and fears.

Grateful I am, for each second we spend,
Sometimes in laughter and
Sometimes in tears,
But let’s give in to love– this winter night;
Whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears.

Christmas is here, so let our love take flight,
Christmas is here, so let me hold you tight,
Christmas is here, we made it ‘til the end,
Christmas is here, it will all be all right.

This beatific time, where hearts slowly mend;
Choosing peace and love, we will all ascend.

Merry Christmas, darling – M.A. Tempels © 2016

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Blogmas Day #11 // My Perfect Christmas

One of my favorite Blogmas writing prompts (that I’ve clearly been putting off) is:

How would you describe your perfect Christmas?

I’ve been writing this post for the last 4 days. I know – that’s a bit overkill for Blogmas, but is not an easy topic to write about! I think the honest reason why I’ve been putting it off is because it makes me emotional. It makes me miss my Mother and the traditions we had with our family. We bonded over holiday shopping and gift wrapping. My Dad often set out a train to circle our tree. Whenever I pass by a train set for sale, my heart hurts a little. Although I am an only child, we have a big family and it was very much about giving the kids a great Christmas and spending time together.

My perfect Christmas would be one where everyone I love feels loved. It really isn’t much about the gift that is given as much as it is about the symbolism of giving. (I’ll get more into that in my next post where I will share the best gift I’ve ever received – which is an electric guitar, but I’ll leave that story for later.) Sometimes our best gift is our eyes, ears, and a shoulder to cry on. My ideal Christmas is catching up with those I care about and making sure they’re O-K.

Comparable to what I’ve talked about in the past, I think a lot of young people, especially those with far-away families and no children – the holidays can be a very lonely time of year. The shorter, colder, and darker days do not help either. Because of this, I think it’s such an importance to make sure you send an extra dose of kindness to your family and friends during this time of year. Let them know you’re thinking of them!

As you all probably know by now, most of my family reside in Hawaii where I grew up and spent most of my life, and even more scatters throughout the states. There is no such think as shorter, colder, and darker days in Hawaii, well, mostly, there isn’t. So, just the environmental change requires an adjustment to my body. I find that during this time of year, I seek more meaningful conversations and quality time with the ones I love. It ends up making Christmas that much more special as well.

To speak bluntly, this year has been rough for almost every single person I love. I wrote letters to long-time friends with words of encouragement. I wanted to make sure they knew I was here, and I see them, and I hear them. And, I feel for them deeply. None of us will enter 2017 alone.

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Blogmas Day #8-10 // 3 Questions Answered

Hey gang,

For today, I decided to simply go through the list of Blogmas topics, and try to find 3 writing prompts that I felt complimented each other well.

Let’s jump right into it!

1.) Do you celebrate Christmas? If not, do you observe another holiday during this time of year?

Clearly! I grew up celebrating Christmas and I still very much do. It is my favorite time of year and my absolute favorite holiday.

2.) Are you religious and how does your faith influence your Christmas and holiday traditions?

Despite the fact that I did grow up with Catholicism-based traditions within a Christian/Catholic household, I am not religious in the slightest. Although I am not religious, I have very strong humanist values. I respect and support any religious figure (such as the Pope) with similar moral values regardless of their faith.

3.) How are you spending Christmas this year?

If you’ve read my first Blogmas post, you probably already have a good idea of how I plan to spend the holidays. As for the actual day of Christmas, I have yet to make any concrete plans!

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions. Feel free to share in the comments!

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Blogmas Day #7 // Christmas Songs

If you’ve been keeping up with my Blogmas posts since December 1st, I apologize for leaving you empty handed last night!

This evening, I thought I’d go ahead and knock out my favorite Blogmas topic – Christmas songs!

I love going through holiday playlists on Youtube during this time of year! Fair warning: I’m kind of obsessed with Pentatonix and Post Modern Jukebox. They’re my two favorite go-to artists for Christmas music!

Without further ado, here are my favorite Christmas songs!

  1. [Official Video] White Winter Hymnal – Pentatonix (Fleet Foxes Cover)
  2. Last Christmas – Vintage Andrews Sisters – Style Wham! Cover – Postmodern Jukebox
  3. Ariana Grande – Santa Tell Me
  4. Sam Smith – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  5. [Official Video] Angels We Have Heard On High – Pentatonix

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BLOGMAS DAY #6 // Is your “holiday blues” seasonal depression?

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Although I often say, “I love the holidays!”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I equate the holidays with happiness. Instead, on a more personal level, I often feel a sense of longing, sadness, and melancholic during the colder months. There really is such a thing as the “holiday blues”! It is not uncommon to feel a bit of sadness during this time of year due to weather changes. We see less daylight and more rain.

However, seasonal depression can be a sign of major depression or bipolar disorder, and I would urge you not to dismiss these feelings, especially if it’s a common occurrence. If you find yourself in a “funk” that lasts for several days or weeks at a time, changes to your eating or sleep patterns, it may be time to see a doctor.

For me personally, the holiday blues is often triggered by loneliness. I grew up with a big family and the holidays often meant spending a lot of time with extended family from Thanksgiving through New Years. Because I have so many cousins, nieces, and nephews, Christmas shopping and gift wrapping were a huge part of our holiday traditions. My mother and I would spend a lot of time together doing just that!

In college, I often had friends and classmates preparing to go home for the holidays whereas that wasn’t something my family and I could afford to do. Because of this, I often felt quite a bit of sadness at the beginning of October, and that sadness often peaked at the beginning of December. Over the years, I’ve discovered ways to help combat seasonal depression, which I must add, can be helpful for any kind of depression or sadness you might be experiencing.

Firstly, I’d like to mention that participating in Blogmas might be a great tool for you. So far, I’ve noticed that the daily reflection has allowed me to be a bit more self-aware of my feelings and how I’m doing emotionally. It also provides me a daily goal, which ultimately, should provide some feel-good activities! So far, I’ve been very active in participating in holiday activities I’ve included on my Christmas bucket list. Truly, this is all thanks to Blogmas.

In addition to Blogmas, here are 5 ways to kick the holiday blues that I have found to be most effective:

1. Get out of the house.

I know, I know – you just want to stay in watching Netflix, maybe read a Harry Potter book while sipping your hot cocoa. (I know this because this is exactly how I want to spend my holidays.) Well, my dear, you can’t spend the ENTIRE month of December doing this! During the winter, you’ll want to get as much sunlight as you possibly can.

2. Keep a journal.

It’s always a good idea to keep a journal. Journaling provides you the opportunity to reflect and keep track of not only events in your life but also your emotions. It allows you self-reflection which is essential to personal wellness.

3. Stay connected.

If you’re far from family, this is especially important! It is something I need to remind myself, as well. I try to keep in touch with my parents on a more regular basis during the holidays so I feel more included in their lives and them in mine.

4. Invest time to do things you want to do this holiday season.

I think this is equally important. Every year, I find myself saying, “there is always next year” while I push back events. Truthfully, money is always a factor, but listen to me when I say that fun is a necessary investment.

5. Talk about it.

Talk to Mom. Call your best friend. Tell your cat. Schedule a visit with your therapist. The absolute last thing you want to do is bottle up your emotions and let them fester. Work on them with a loved one or professional.

Are you suffering from seasonal depression or the “holiday blues”? Do you have any suggestions on getting through this time of year?

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BLOGMAS DAY #5 // PROGRESS REPORT!

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Instead of covering a specific topic today, I thought I’d just write a bit about what I’ve been up to and what I’ve got planned for tonight!

This evening, I stopped by the post office to complain about the packages I haven’t received. For some reason, the post offices in the upper-Manhattan area are so terrible! It really is disappointing. I do a lot of online shopping and receive care packages from loved ones out of state, and it’s such a challenge receiving any of my parcels.

The line was long and those standing in it were very grumpy, to say the least. On the bright side, I didn’t leave empty handed – thankfully! I was able to pick up at least one package – 2 pairs of leggings and a cardigan from Forever 21 which I purchased on Black Friday. I love Forever 21 basics, especially their solid knit leggings. They’re surprisingly thick and fantastic quality. I wear leggings all year long, and they often don’t last. Big thighs create friction and tend to wear down on the material quickly. But these beauties? They last at least an entire season! Which may not seem like much, but at $5.90 a pop (that’s their list price!), you can’t find a better value for plus size leggings anywhere else.

I really enjoy the Fall/Winter colors as well. I picked up one pair in a maroon color and another in a forest green color. I also ordered a basic flyaway cardigan for under my coat! Eventually, I’d like to style these pieces and show you how I plan to wear them!

On the way home from the post office, I stopped by a few Mom & Pop discount stores, which, by the way, is very common in every neighborhood in NYC. They basically have a little bit of everything. I was able to find wrapping paper, scotch tape, glue sticks, danish cookies, hot cocoa, a box of tea, and Christmas cards for a dollar each! Before I go to chain stores, I always check the nearby discount stores first to see if they have what I need for cheaper – 99.9% of the time they do, and for a dollar. Hands down, I’d probably spend $20 instead of $7 if I went anywhere else.

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Tonight, after I finish uploading this blog post, I plan to wrap a few gifts, and work on these DIY paper houses I started last night. I will probably be enjoying some tea, maybe coffee, or cocoa, and of course, the danish cookies I purchased today! If I have time, I’d also like to start working on my Christmas cards and get them out ASAP!

// Blogmas Day #1 BUCKETLIST progress //

I’m proud to say that I’ve been making good progress getting through my Christmas bucket list! So far, I’ve picked up my small potted plant and made my Toys For Tots donation! 😊 

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I’m also well on my way to completing the DIY projects I have in mind, as well as sending out the Christmas cards with written letters. I have a few 2017 planners sitting in shopping carts, as well as a journal, but I’m honestly really considering bullet journaling and/or putting together a binder and printing the entire thing out myself with the hundreds of free printable planner inserts you can find on Pinterest! I have the paper, the printer, and the ink. And, a 99 cent binder is a lot cheaper than a planner, amirite!?

How is everyone making progress with Blogmas? Have you kept up with it? It’s only been 5 days! I know it’s starting to feel like a chore already, isn’t it?

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BLOGMAS Day #4 // Winter Fashion Guide (Featuring Modcloth – Which means? PLUS SIZE TOO!)

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Although I don’t blog very much about fashion or beauty, I’m actually a huge fan of fall and winter fashion – which is something that I really didn’t get to experience or appreciate growing up and living on an island (Hawaii) for the majority of my life. These days, I find myself warming up to subscription boxes such as Ipsy’s glam bag because it allows gals like me (who don’t know shit about makeup) exposure to what’s out on the market right now. It’s a way to learn and experiment – find out what I actually like and/or give a shit about.

When it comes to fashion, I just want to be comfortable! And, cute! That’s it! I don’t accessorize unless it’s necessary either – I’ll wear a scarf if the weather requires one. My style is fairly “classic”. I wear a lot of basics. My favorite pieces are often leggings, skater skirts, oversized sweaters, and boots or flats. With that being said, I really do believe this time of year is my time to shine!

My all-time favorite store is Modcloth, so, of course, I thought it would be so much fun to put together my favorite warm-weather pieces from their website. Of course, I will include a link to everything as well!

1. Winterberry Tart Coat in Burgundy
$149.99
Size: XS – 3X
What I love about this coat is the very flattering silhouette, and of course, the gorgeous burgundy tone. I think this would look fantastic with riding boots!

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2. Heed Your Warming Fleece-Lined Leggings in Navy
$19.99
Size: S/M or L/XL
Your winter wardrobe cannot be completed without a pair of fleece-lined leggings. Get a high quality pair because you’ll be wearing nothing but these for 3-5 months!

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3. Just the Fortuitous Cardigan in Grey
$49.99
Size: XS – 4X
This absolutely adorable cropped cardigan would go perfectly with a high-waisted cotton blend skirt.

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4. Sugarplum Scary Sweater
$49.99
Size: XS – 4X
If you’re a bit edgy like I am. 😛

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5. Recline the Invitation Hoodie
$49.99
Size: XXS – 4X
I really love this piece a lot. I’ve actually got a similar heavy knit grey top with lacing below the neckline.
But, OMG, in hoodie form?!?! Say no more.

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6. Nocturnal Yourself Out Pajama Set in Foxes
$34.99
Size: S – XL
OK – this is by far the most cute holiday pajamas set I have EVER seen in my entire life.

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7. Fur the Win Thigh Highs in Brown Fox
$16.99
Size: ONE SIZE
O.m.f.g – is there anything more I can say here?

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8. Custom Cocoa Cardigan in Charcoal
$54.99
Size: XXS – 4X
I think finding a good quality, long length, soft, and comfortable cardigan is just as important as finding the right coat for the season. I generally wear a cardigan under my coat and is often what’s visible if I take my coat off. I will sometimes unzip my coat when I get on the train to prevent myself from sweating and I think this cardigan will add a nice detail to my outfit.

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9. Chillin’ Haute Scarf in Red
$20.99 // 30% off!
This is such a beautiful classic plaid scarf. It screams Christmas!

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10. Saturday at the Stables Convertible Gloves in Oatmeal
$13.99 // 30% off!
It is so important to keep your hands warm during the cold months! Wearing mittens or gloves was very difficult to adjust to when I moved here. I found that convertible gloves such as these are super convenient!

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I think what I love most about Modcloth is the range of sizes. As a plus size gal myself, I like seeing that most of the clothing on the site can fit anyone – regardless if you’re a size XS or a 4X. That’s awesome, and that’s how it should be everywhere.

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BLOGMAS Day #3 // Christmas Poem

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They let the children out of school too early.

I left the Christmas shopping till too late.
Each day we had a holiday excursion,
Which gave us the entire week to wait in line for
Movies by Disney,
Gift-wrapping by Lord & Taylor,
And everyone’s restrooms.

On Christmas Eve we started to assemble
The easy-to-assemble telescope
And fire truck with forty-seven pieces.
By midnight it was plain there was no hope without
An astronomer,
A mechanical engineer,
And two psychiatrists.

We rose at dawn to three boys singing Rudolph.
We listened numbly to their shouts of glee.
The kitten threw up tinsel on the carpet.
The fire truck collided with the tree, requiring

One rug shampoo,
Several Band-aids,
And Scotch before breakfast.

I bought my husband shirts – wrong size, wrong colors,
And ties he said he couldn’t be caught dead in.
I’d hinted Saint Laurent or something furry.
He bought me flannel gowns to go to bed in, also
A Teflon frying pan,
A plaid valise,
And The Weight Watchers Cook Book.

The turkey was still frozen at eleven.
At noon my eldest boy spilled Elmer’s glue.
At five I had a swell Excedrin headache,
The kind that lasts till January two…but
Merry Christmas
And Happy New Year,
I think.

Judith Viorst

I thought this poem was such a fun read! This poem kind of encompasses the reality of what Christmas is like in a modern day. What do you guys think? Painfully relatable? 

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BLOGMAS Day #2 // Hallmark Holiday

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Christmas, once a sacred holy day, and arguably an ancient pagan tradition, may now seem like nothing more than a Hallmark Holiday. This is nothing short of the hard truth.

Hallmark holiday” is a term used predominantly in the United States to describe a holiday that is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally or historically significant event. (wikipedia.org)

However, even the commercialized, capitalistic, consumerist nature of my FAVORITE holiday is STILL founded on what I would consider good moral values. Heck, I’ll say it – I’m not even religious!

Trying to steer clear of *controversial topics here* *obviously that ship sailed 3 paragraphs ago* 

Despite this fact, I have humanist values that go hand-in-hand with the meaning of Christmas; which is altruism, humanitarianism, and social consciousness. Yes, we *do* throw mountains of money at big corporations during this time of year, but we often do it for others in the form of gift-giving. Although my goals are minimalist-focused, I recognize that a lot of the money spent by others during the holidays is meant well and often unselfish.

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I’m keeping today’s Blogmas post short and sweet (because I clearly over-wrote yesterday. LOL.) This is more of a conversation opener – an invitation for discussion. I’m genuinely curious about what you folks think! What are your thoughts on the consumerist nature of Christmas and how does that effect (or not even a little bit) how you spend the holidays?

Wanna read another Blogmas post? You can find them all here.

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