BLOGMAS DAY #1 // Holiday Bucket List

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I was following the pack
All swaddled in their coats
With scarves of red tied ’round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
And turn the white snow red as strawberries
In the summertime
— White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes

OK, so, it’s pretty damn obvious I am OBSESSED with Christmas. I don’t know when or why or how or what the heck happened (obviously my Mother sprinkled Christmas fairy dust in my crib when no one was looking…) but I’m GOSH DARN JOLLY at this time of year.

The fact that I am now living in NYC makes it so much more exciting because there really is no place better to spend the holidays than in NYC. The city of lights turns into the city of Christmas lights and asdfghjkl, it’s magical. There is so much about Christmas that I love, but I won’t write 17 million paragraphs about it right now or I won’t have any content left for the rest of Blogmas…so let’s just start with Day #1, shall we?

For today’s post, I will be writing down my holiday bucket list for 2016. There really is so much I want to do this year – I’d like to do some things I’ve put off year after year, while I’d also like to revisit some traditions. Of course, I went on PINTEREST (Jesus Christ, why?) and basically further elongated my list. However, I want this bucket list to be more like a list of goals – attainable and practical goals.

// Bucket List //

1. COMPLETE BLOGMAS
Ugh, I’m so bad with monthly challenges. I’m usually fine for the first week (I’m lying, I don’t get past day #4), then like the pleb I am, I completely fall off the bandwagon. Routine isn’t my friend. Legit, I WILL set an alarm if I need to. We’re getting these posts done! To make it easier for everyone to follow my Blogmas posts, I will add a link at the end of each post.

And, seriously, to the ones who already completed Blogmas in November, or August because you’re nuts (because you’re responsible)…HOW ARE YOU LIKE THIS?

2. ATTEND A HOLIDAY MARKET
So far, I have 3 pop-up markets in mind: Jingle @ Chelsea Market, Union Square Holiday Market, and Bryant Park’s Winter Village. I have never been to any of these events, but have been wanting to go to them for quite some time. From what I know, the Chelsea Market pop-up includes live music, Union Square’s Holiday Market offers tons of homemade gifts, and the Bryant Park market showcases new decor each year, as well as FREE ice skating and a tree-lighting event! All of these markets are very easy to travel to via public transportation which is a big plus.

3. SEND A WRITTEN LETTER TO LOVED ONES + HOLIDAY TEA BAG
Because I am so far away from family and friends, I don’t usually purchase and wrap gifts. In the occasion that I do buy gifts, I will order something online and ship it directly (because I’m lazy). This year, however, I want to take the time to actually write a letter to loved ones (my best friend, parents, and grandparents) and include these holiday tea bag(s) with my letters – a tradition I’d like to adopt from my Grandparents.

4. DIY CHRISTMAS CARDS, TREES, AND SNOWFLAKES
In addition to writing letters, I’d also like to dabble in DIY printables, including Christmas cards (for the letters), trees, and snowflakes to tape on the walls around the apartment because it’s cheaper and frankly, a lot cuter than buying any kind of decor!

5. BUY A SMALL HOLIDAY POTTED PLANT
When I lived at home, one of my favorite parts of Christmas was picking up a tree from Lowes with my parents and decorating it. Unfortunately, now I like in a 750 square box in Manhattan! We just don’t have space for a tree. *sobs* Not to mention, I have a cat who is absolutely fascinated with Christmas trees and would probably knock it over hundreds of times! I noticed the flower shop down the street just brought out these tiny potted ferns that are just too cute to pass up!! Not to mention, the money we’ll save! A little plant I can take care of that costs $5 beats a gigantic tree that costs $60 (don’t forget the tree skirt, ornaments and cat repellent!) Fact of the matter is, a Christmas tree is an expensive investment.

6. HOST A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY
This is something I knew I wanted to do since Halloween. It’s just a matter of figuring out what I’m going to send! I want to include an extra-special written letter, and “stocking stuffer” type goodies – candies, holiday stickers, and maybe a few holiday-inspired beauty, body or home products! I have tons of ideas including mittens, fuzzy Christmas socks, lipstick, nail polish, candles, and candy canes. I’m not going to pretend this isn’t self-advertisement and exposure for my blog, because YES MARY, is it.

7. BUY A PLANNER AND JOURNAL FOR 2017
If I’m going to take 2017 by storm, I’m going to need to be prepared. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself over recent years it’s that I am most productive when I write things down…and by things, I mean EVERYTHING! When it comes to daily writing, tackling goals, making appointments, or lists – I’m telling you, planners and journals are a must-have. If you did not utilize a planner or journal this year, I highly recommend checking it out for next year.

8. MAKE A DONATION TO TOYS FOR TOTS, NEW YORK CARES COAT DRIVE, TEACHERS WITHOUT BORDERS, AND DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
Like I mentioned above, I will probably not do any in-store shopping this year, but I am considering making product donation purchases online (toys and a coat – if I can budget it in), if not, I will make a $1-5 donation to all of the above organizations. I’m unsure if I’ve mentioned this on my blog yet, but I’m actually a member of Teachers Without Borders! If you’re an educator, consider joining! It’s free!

9. PURGE CLOSET AND MAKE A BIG SALVATION ARMY DONATION
Gosh, there is always more purging to do! Because I live in a tiny apartment with virtually no closet or storage space at all, my stuff is basically all out in the open and visible. It’s easy to feel cluttered, and I want to declutter as much as possible. I think this is a great way to kick off the New Year – with less crap. At the very VERY least, I’ll need a dedicated junk drawer…

10. PICK UP A NEW HOLIDAY MUG + MAKE ABUELITA Chocolate W/ MARSHMELLOW AND CANDYCANES
One of my fondest memories as a newly New Yorker was going on 3am trips to Rite Aid with my husband on a Friday or Saturday night. It usually started with, “I’m hungry, is there any take-out spots still open? Nope? Wanna go to Rite Aid?” And, there you have it – a tradition was born. Frozen pizza and hot pockets galore. During the holidays, we’d often be the first to check out new merchandise. So, we’d always get dibs on brand-new gift sets, including the hot chocolate with mugs set, which you guessed it, we bought, every year. Lol. Each time we moved, there’s always been a Rite Aid nearby (which isn’t really that much of a coincidence when there are more Rite Aids than Starbucks OR McDonalds. Yeah, that many! Last year, I discovered the phenomenon that is ABUELITA Chocolate. This year? The candy canes melted in. Every year before that and every day of my life? Marshmallows.

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

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Buy Local, New York!

I’ve said this time and time again, yes – I know, but I really can’t stress this enough – buy local! One of the greatest benefits of living in a highly diverse metropolitan city is being able to shop an extensive amount of local businesses spanned across many “Little” cities or ethnic enclaves such as Little Italy and China Town. There are tons of mom and pop shops in almost every neighborhood in NYC. My home, Washingtonian Heights, is its own Little Dominican Republic with many Latin American specialty shops and restaurants.

These small shops rely on their neighboring residents to keep them in business, and in many ways, they often offer very competitive prices and cater specifically to their residents – sometimes better than what you can find in chain stores within the neighborhood. Just last week, I found a tub of yogurt shoved in the back of a fridge inside a small shop priced for $1.59. I could find the same product in our neighborhood Bravo Supermarkets for $3.69. The only thing I recommend is to always check expiration dates! If you’re willing to take your time to dig, you can find some really affordable pantry items, as well as frozen and refrigerated goods. Many of these shops will often have your basic grocery needs such as milk, bread, and eggs for cheaper than your neighborhood supermarket.

Just a few days ago, I discovered a small local chain, “Deals and Discounts” that offers department store merchandise for very cheap. Though not a mom and pop, definitely check it out! They have many of your name brand products, as well as generic (which, I must add, is most of the time, just as good! I always recommend to try the generic – you’ll be surprised that a lot the time, it’s not very different from the name brand stuff.) They had basic apparel for the family, seasonal + household products, and some edible goods – your usual convenience store set up. Check them out here: http://www.deeii.com/locations.htm They may have a store in your neighborhood!

Skip the chain stores today and discover your new favorite mom and pop shop, 99 cent store, bodega, or local market!

Got a favorite local business you’d like to share? Leave their information in the comments below!

Happy shopping,
Jocelyn

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NYC on a budget

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This post has been in the making for a while now! Like I had mentioned in previous posts, my parents came to town! Let’s just say this has been a real test on how well we could enjoy the city without spending an arm and a leg. NYC is expensive, especially for tourists – yet I seem to get around it, and I know you guys can too. Though there are numerous free and affordable attractions to enjoy, there are still some things a traveler cannot pass up on (like the Statue of Liberty) or the hefty price tag that comes with.

Last time my parents came to visit, they came for our wedding. So, you can imagine there wasn’t much time to see the sights. This time around we really focused on the vacation and seeing as much of NYC as possible.

Our first tip is to purchase the NY Pass. This pass is an awesome value – in fact, for the price of $109 per day ($320 for 10 days), you can access 80, yes EIGHTY NYC attractions (some worth a value of more than $60…).  It also includes a Hop on Hop off bus to take care of transportation as well (with an AWESOME tour-guide I must add). This pass includes some of the biggest and best attractions in NYC including the Empire State Building and The Statue of Liberty. This alone has made my parent’s trip that much more enjoyable and stress-free. There was no worrying about where to go, what to see, how much it would cost, or how we would get there.

Secondly, like a mentioned about, there are TONS of free things to do in NYC. My dad’s favorite place to see while visiting NYC is Central Park – which is 100% free to enjoy. To discover what is happening during your stay (FREE concerts, FREE comedy shows, FREE festivals, and FREE exhibits), check out NYC Go or Timeout Magazine! For tips on cheap eats in NYC, see NY Eater!

P.S. To view all the pictures from their visit, check out my Instagram!

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