Friday Five

Friday Five

  [The cutest gift wrapping ever, by mom] From the Christmas Sunday church service, to the family parties, to waking up Christmas morning and cuddling with my mom on the couch, waiting for the rest of the family to wake up to open gifts, this Christmas meant so much to me. While the presents are … Read more

 

gift wrapping[The cutest gift wrapping ever, by mom]

From the Christmas Sunday church service, to the family parties, to waking up Christmas morning and cuddling with my mom on the couch, waiting for the rest of the family to wake up to open gifts, this Christmas meant so much to me. While the presents are exciting and the dozens of Christmas cookies never disappoint, spending time with family is my absolute favorite part of the holidays. While everyone is always so busy with work, school and friends, Christmas always brings us together… if even just for a day!

This weekend I plan on spending time with my best friend, Olivia, who is visiting for the holidays from South Carolina. She leaves in a few short days and I am looking forward to spending some much needed time with her. Plans for ice skating, sledding and a game night are also in the works. I hope everyone is having a relaxing, fun winter break.

Happy Friday!

rainboots[Christmas rainboots]
gifts for italy
[Sporting a few gifts I LOVE for Italy!]
ava
[The biggest bow goes on the cutest present :*)]
liv
[Liv and I at a Christmas party]

Christmas Must be Something More

Christmas Must be Something More

Happy Birthday, Jesus! “What if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing? Would the song still survive without five golden rings? Would you still wanna kiss without mistletoe? What would happen if God never let it snow? What would happen if Christmas carols told a lie? Tell me what would you find.. You’d see that … Read more

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

christmas eve

“What if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing?
Would the song still survive without five golden rings?
Would you still wanna kiss without mistletoe?
What would happen if God never let it snow?
What would happen if Christmas carols told a lie?
Tell me what would you find..
You’d see that today holds something special;
something holy, not superficial
So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives.
It’s something we all try to ignore,
and put a wreath up on your door
So here’s something you should know that is for sure…
Christmas must be something more”

Friday Five

Friday Five

[Pinterest inspired Christmas card making] This week was filled with nothing but holiday happiness. I have spent all of my free time on Christmas activities, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Sometimes I think I actually love the days leading up to the holidays more than the actual holiday. The days are … Read more

christmas cards

[Pinterest inspired Christmas card making]

This week was filled with nothing but holiday happiness. I have spent all of my free time on Christmas activities, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Sometimes I think I actually love the days leading up to the holidays more than the actual holiday. The days are filled with such anticipation, excitement and love from family and friends. I just love everything involved with Christmas – from crafting Christmas cards for family and baking Christmas cookies with mom and grandma to wrapping presents and setting them under the tree. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend filled with nothing but love and holiday happiness. Make sure to take a moment to slow down, take a break from the insane rush involved with Christmas preparation and enjoy the small pleasures that come along with the holiday. I hope that everyone has an absolutely wonderful Christmas!

Happy Friday!

christmas cookies[Baking Christmas cookies with mom]
wrapping gifts
[Wrapping Christmas presents with pretty bows as a finishing touch]
gingerbread girls
[A favorite Christmas tradition: decorating gingerbread girls]

fireside[Warming up from the winter storm with hot chocolate by the fire]

Friday Five

Friday Five

[My baby cousin, Ava, on her first Thanksgiving] This week flew by. Mount students have one more week of class and then finals are here. Winter break is in reach! Besides attempting to complete the immense school work load that is piled on toward the end of the semester, I made sure to make time … Read more

ava

[My baby cousin, Ava, on her first Thanksgiving]

This week flew by. Mount students have one more week of class and then finals are here. Winter break is in reach!

Besides attempting to complete the immense school work load that is piled on toward the end of the semester, I made sure to make time for a little bit of fun and friends. Earlier in the week, my friend Tia stopped over and we lit Christmas candles, turned up the holiday station on Pandora and got to work making snowflakes to decorate the apartment. I also made a trip to Belden Village to do some Christmas shopping with my friend Emily! I absolutely love when the stores are all decorated for the holidays. It makes Christmas shopping so much fun.

This weekend I plan on babysitting, finishing up my Christmas shopping, decorating the Christmas tree at home with my family and watching a ton of Christmas movies.

Happy Friday, everyone!

movie night

[Peppermint mocha and fresh baked cookies with mom]

decorations

[Snowflake decor in the apartment]

pink

[Free VS iPhone case I received during the trip to Belden Village!]

ornaments

[It was time to put up the fun Christmas decor in my car]

Reduce and Reimagine This Holiday Season

Reduce and Reimagine This Holiday Season

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and now we have the full month of December, which means gift planning, purchasing and accumulating of materialistic items. These holidays put your bank account and the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. Also, we are currently using the resources of one-and-a-half … Read more


Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and now we have the full month of December, which means gift planning, purchasing and accumulating of materialistic items. These holidays put your bank account and the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. Also, we are currently using the resources of one-and-a-half planets on our one and only planet, Earth. Wow.

According to Patagonia, environmental bankruptcy, as well with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden. This is what we face as consumers unless we slow down and try to reverse the damage. We’re running short on fresh water and raw materials, all of our planet’s natural systems and resources that support business and life.

There is much to be done and plenty for us all to do. Don’t buy what you don’t need this holiday season. Think twice before you buy anything. Remember to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle by supporting companies that are sustainable and making a positive impact. You can also fix old clothes instead of getting new things (it adds character anyways) or find a new home for things you don’t use anymore and see if any of your belongings can be recycled. The bottom line is that you should try to not buy what you don’t need, pledge to fix what’s broken, sell or pass things on and pledge to keep your stuff out of the landfill and incinerator.

More importantly, let’s reduce and reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.

“Christmas should be something to enjoy rather than endure,” writes author and activist Bill McKibben. “Instead of an island of bustle, it should be an island of peace amid a busy life. We want so much more out of Christmas: more music, more companionship, more contemplation, more time outdoors, more love.” In Hundred Dollar Holiday, McKibben, a church-going Christian, describes what it’s like to set a $100 limit on holiday spending – gifts, decorations, even the holiday feast. Some of us might find that level of simplicity a challenge, at least to start, but surveys bear out that those are the things people want most.

Time – especially time with friends – is one of the most valuable gifts we can give. How you choose to take back the holidays is up to you – that’s what it’s all about, creating and nurturing your own traditions. As with any gift, it’s the thought that counts. So this year, think hard about what really matters to you and your family and put that at the top of your holiday gift list.

As for me, I plan to spend time at home with my family who I haven’t been able to see for an extended period of time in so long, after being in Spain, then coming to Mount right away. I plan to simplify as well, and even though I already have some new clothes on the Christmas list and maybe a new camera, I believe my mindset and mentality is there. Most the clothes are from companies that support a good cause anyway!

How do you plan to reimagine your holidays this year?

(Thanks to Patagonia for some of the insight on this post)

Friday Five

Friday Five

[Huge polar bear (my favorite animal) at Anthropologie] It is officially the Christmas season! While others are out braving Black Friday traffic, fighting through aggressive crowds and tackling their way to the best deals, I will be preparing for Christmas in my own way. Now that Thanksgiving is over (although the leftovers will last for … Read more

polar bear display
[Huge polar bear (my favorite animal) at Anthropologie]

It is officially the Christmas season! While others are out braving Black Friday traffic, fighting through aggressive crowds and tackling their way to the best deals, I will be preparing for Christmas in my own way. Now that Thanksgiving is over (although the leftovers will last for days.. or weeks), it’s time to put away the fall leaves and pumpkin spice candles in exchange for twinkling lights and evergreen aroma. This Friday evening I plan on slipping into sweats, grabbing a peppermint cappuccino, turning up NSYNC’s Christmas album all the way and getting the house “Christmas ready” with my mom. Although I loved watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – did everyone see the Fierce Five gymnasts on one of the floats!? Love those girls! – I am so excited for all of the Christmas festivities that are soon to come (decorating gingerbread houses, going ice skating, picking out a Christmas tree… and the list continues).

Throughout this week, I noticed that there are so many simple holiday pleasures. Even the smallest things make me love the holidays that much more, such as the huge polar bear display I came across on a shopping trip with my sister. I hope everyone finds even the tiniest bit of holiday happiness this weekend.

Happy Friday!

oreos

[The return of white fudge Oreos for the holiday season]

car freshener
[The cutest polar bear car freshener my sister, Lindsey, surprised me with!]

Christmas music
[It is now FINALLY acceptable to break out the Christmas music again]

holiday packaging
[Festive holiday packaging everywhere you go]

Top 10 Holiday Movies

Top 10 Holiday Movies

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As the Christmas season rolls in, there is one defining part that many people look forward to – Christmas movies! People cannot wait until they can finally watch their all-time favorite holiday films, which they have had stored away for 11 months. The television channel ABC Family begins showing Christmas movies around the middle of November in their annual “Countdown to 25 days of Christmas” program and then continues the movies in their yearly special “25 days of Christmas,” which begins on December 1. Many other channels begin scheduling holiday movies into their daily programming as well. These holiday movies also are taken off of the shelves and out of the cabinets at many homes and put into DVD players in order to really get people into the Christmas spirit. These movies make Christmas seem real and that the holiday is coming soon. For myself especially, I begin watching Christmas movies around Thanksgiving and don’t stop until after the December 25. I love Christmas movies and find much enjoyment through their viewing!

Now, there are hundreds of Christmas movies with each one possessing its own unique plot and message. Holiday movies range from the holiday classics to newly-produced movies and to ones that spread holiday cheer to others that promote believing in the holiday itself. So what movies make your list of Top 10 Holiday Favorites?

Here is my list of favorites:

1. Holiday Classics (such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, A Miser Brothers Christmas, The Year Without a Santa Claus) – I love all of the holiday classic films!
2. The Polar Express
3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (both the cartoon and Jim Carrey’s version)
5. Miracle on 34th Street
6. The Santa Clause (of the Tim Allen trilogy, the first is by far my favorite, however they all are great!)
7. Elf
8. A Charlie Brown Christmas
9. Three Days
10. A Christmas Carol

If you haven’t seen some of these movies, I recommend watching them. They will truly lift your holiday spirit and really put you in the Christmas mood. If you have other favorites that did not make my list, leave me a comment and share them with me!

Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corns, and Syrup

Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corns, and Syrup

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Tis the season! Christmas, for me, is the best time of the year because I get to go home and be with loved ones I haven’t seen in months. I found a quote from Burton Hillis that hits home. “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” There are certain things that really keep me in the Christmas mood, aside from the most important that some people forget to celebrate, the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas mass is one of the largest, most decorated and beautiful masses of the year. It also celebrates a season of giving, and I make a valiant effort to give personal and homemade gifts, giving more of experiences not unneeded things. What really keeps me going though is the music, movies and activities throughout the month.

I am a sucker for Christmas music and listen to it a lot during the month of December, but am not one of those people who turn it on right after the Thanksgiving meal. Sheesh! I listen to the classics like Burl Ives, Jackson 5, Elvis, Eartha Kitt and Wham, but really love the songs from artists like Kenny G, Mariah Carey, Babyface, Whitney Houston, Boyz 2 Men and Michael Buble. [Insert joke about my music preference here]. Also, because of my interests in social good, charitable efforts and a global perspective coupled with my enthusiasm of Christmas cheer, one of my favorite songs is by Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas (video). Here are some lyrics, to keep things in perspective this Christmas.

“And in our world of plenty
we can spread a smile of Joy
Throw your arms around the world
at Christmas time.”

“Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”

Movies are another part of me during the winter season, especially my favorite of all time – Elf. I mean, who doesn’t believe that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear? And, what better things are there to do than making snow angels for two hours, going iceskating and eating a whole toll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as you can? Will Ferrell definitely makes Christmastime much more humorous and passes smiles along.

I truly hope everyone enjoys their holiday season and can celebrate it with the ones who are closet to your heart! Be merry.

What Christmas Is All About

What Christmas Is All About

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As the Christmas season rolls in and the countdown to the holiday’s final arrival is slimming, it’s important to take a step back and realize just what this holiday is about. Over the years, and especially now in today’s world, the holiday of Christmas has become more about material things … getting gifts, after gifts, after gifts and fulfilling almost every want on your Christmas list that has been building since August. It seems that this holiday is about buying and ultimately, spending money. The media has made Christmas into a holiday that revolves around materialistic wants and wishes. People spend hours shopping for the perfect gift for each individual on their list and spend way more money than is needed. People then receive gifts that are more of a want than a necessity and are things that will be worn every now and then or played with once or twice, never to be touched again. But in reality, this newly-made materialistic holiday is not what Christmas is about.

Christmas, yes is a holiday of giving, but not in the way that the media presents. The type of giving it entails is the giving of time and help to others, focusing more on helping others than you and spreading kindness. Christmas is about helping those less fortunate and less well off in order to provide them with a better holiday season. Many people in the Alliance community and even around the world cannot afford to have an extravagant Christmas, as some cannot even afford food or daily necessities needed to survive. Some cannot afford more than a few presents if any for Christmas. So during the holiday season, it’s important to give to these people rather than giving all to yourself, as they need things more than you do. It’s important to help make everyone have a wonderful Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas should never be forgotten and it definitely is not here at the University of Mount Union as many organizations on campus are doing their part this holiday season.

For example, my sorority, Delta Sigma Tau, supports the Alliance for Children and Families as one of its philanthropies. The Alliance for Children and Families is an organization that is committed to helping children, individuals and families lead lives of stability, self-sufficiency and enhancement. ACF provides a shelter for the homeless and assists in helping people obtain housing that may have trouble doing so. This Christmas season, we are conducting a toy drive and raising money in hopes of providing a better Christmas for the children and families that live at the shelter. Many children at the shelter do not know Christmas like you and I do. The children at this shelter receive items such as shampoo, conditioner and other daily necessities as their Christmas presents, and they are ecstatic! They are full of joy and happiness by just receiving these items as presents. They have no idea what it is like to actually receive a toy or some type of play item as a present. Our goal as a sorority is to give the children a much better Christmas and provide them with the feeling of what it’s like to receive a fun present. They deserve to experience a wonderful Christmas.

Additionally, the Mount Union Honors Program and Honors Council spent time making Christmas cards for geriatric patients. Many patients at local hospitals and nursing homes do not receive holiday cards or even visits from family members during the holiday season, so receiving a card wishing them a warm and wonderful holiday shows that someone cares. It shows that someone is thinking of them somewhere. These cards brighten the holiday season for the patients and bring a smile to their faces that may not have been present in a long time.

Both of these examples spread the true meaning of Christmas. So I challenge you to sacrifice a few hours of holiday gift shopping and involve yourself in some activity such as these, as these are the types of activities that everyone should try to take part in this holiday season. And you do not even have to do something this big. You can do something on a much smaller scale such as simply baking holiday cookies for an elderly neighbor or volunteering to wrap gifts at a local mall. You can even pick up a gift for someone who needs it most while out doing your holiday shopping or just wishing someone a “happy holidays.” If more people took part in activities such as these this holiday season, no matter how big or small, imagine how many people would experience a better Christmas, how many more smiles would exist and how much better of a place this world would be to live in.

The video that goes along with this blog is just another way to help someone out and it truly displays the true meaning of Christmas. I know you will enjoy it, so please watch it!

I hope you find some way that you can spread the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season.

“Christmas-itis”

“Christmas-itis”

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The first day of December for the year 2011 has finally arrived. Many people look forward to this day each year as it officially marks the first day of the holiday season, the holiday being Christmas of course! On the first day of December, or the first week of December at least, many Christmas trees are cut down and bought, decorations go up and lights are hung around the outside of many homes. Christmas music is finally played repeatedly on the radio and Christmas movies are played each night on many channels, especially ABC Family, which even has its own Christmas movie event called the 25 Days of Christmas. People begin to spend more time shopping and buying the gifts wanted by family members as well as baking festive cookies and desserts, all in preparation for upcoming holiday parties. The first day of December is the beginning of the Christmas festivities and the start of a wonderful month full of holiday cheer and giving!

The first day of December, however, for many college students across America is somewhat different. One the first day of December, 12/1/2011, college students begin counting down the days until the semester is over. It’s one day closer to the day in which they can return home for a long, extended Christmas break full of relaxation, fun and family time with, most importantly, no school work. On the first day of December, the common disease of “Christmas-itis” finally kicks in. Students no longer want to do school work, although these last few weeks is crunch time stuffed with presentations, due dates for important papers and final exams with these ending weeks being some of the most important weeks of the semester. At this point in the semester, college students have much desire to return home as some have only been home once this semester, which was most likely for Thanksgiving a little over a week ago. This very common disease of “Christmas-itis” can be trouble for students as it creates the temptation to procrastinate school work and do something else more exciting in its place.

So how do you tackle “Christmas-itis” and prevent it? Well first off, it’s inevitably unpreventable as almost all students love Christmas and the holiday season. So it happens to be one of those things you just take it as it comes and deal with it! But there are several steps, which can be used to help calm “Christmas-itis” and not allow it to overcome the last few important weeks of the semester. First off, staying organized and having a study game plan is very important. Be sure to be aware of all upcoming assignment due dates, exam schedules and any homework that needs to be done. Allot time to complete all of these assignments and to study. Make a list to help you and be sure to check it twice each day (just like Santa!!). Secondly, invite the Christmas holiday in. Decorate your dorm room, listen to Christmas music and watch a holiday movie. Ignoring the holiday feelings can only increase the effects of “Christmas-itis.” Thirdly, be sure to leave some room for fun or alone time each day to break up all the school work that is due. Have a snow ball fight, go ice skating or see a newly- released movie. Lastly stay focused, as home and Christmas are only a few weeks away!