Never strive for a picturesque holiday

This year  I have been caught up in so many things on my to-list. I have played Christmas music to get more in the spirit. I must say the new Hanson Christmas album is on point (no shame). As a Mississippi State Bulldog, I committed a sin. It was not until Monday, November 20, that I remembered the biggest game of the year, The Egg Bowl, is this week. I’m typing this while watching the Friends Thanksgiving episodes trying to think of anything else that should be on my list.

Yes, I believe in merging Thanksgiving and Christmas. It helps one realize that they are truly blessed beginning on November 1. Plus, it helps thankfulness roll over into Christmas. There is no such thing as premature Christmas decorating.

 

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I probably could have found a bad picture from a photo shoots for our annual Christmas Cards when we were really showing out. So here is one of my siblings as grown adults.

My main goal for the holidays has just been to be in a happy spirit to make this world better. I wish making good food was part of the main goal, but it is a time where everyone needs love. Over the past few weeks, I have been longing just for the presence of my family being together under the same roof. My sister has been sending me texts throughout the day of certain recipes to try, so I basically leave planning a few things up to her.

 

During college, I loved a Tommy Hilfiger commercial to Vampire Weekend’s Holiday. They looked so chic where you wanted to dress up. Plus, I love wearing blazers. Both of my grandparents are far from hosting a holiday event that is formal. Yes, I agree that while I enjoy a dinner that has a beautiful place setting, perfectly wrapped presents under a tree, and sweets. However, that is not what one should strive for. It is embarrassing how much food I pile on my plate at my grandma’s house, but I am just excited to see my grandparents. This year I strangely did not think about the delicious food on the table. Distance makes things harder, but I’m just glad to see everyone. Trust me it has been a long two months since I have seen them.

A year ago, I wrote a blog about the holidays being sad, but the truth is I found out I was not alone. Ironically, a year later Bad Moms Christmas was released, which was freaking hilarious. Everyone in America has gone through at least one dramatic part of the movie. So it is naturally fine to have anger around the holidays with a little road rage, stress, and anxiety that the cookies might not turn out well. Anger will happen along the way, but it is okay. We all strive for the perfect Norman Rockwell style holiday, but it eventually turns out like the Griswald’s in Christmas Vacation.

For the meantime, I am just going to tell myself that it will all fall into place with extra things added to my list. It’s just good to have everyone together and that feels like a major luxury. During the season of Thanksgiving, I found two events that I will volunteer for around the Nashville area. I’m just so thankful that during church, I realized that I needed to do something. Not long after, those opportunities, which will happen in 2018, approached me. Well, I am welcoming those opportunities. The fact that is Thanksgiving time hasn’t truly hit me, but that is okay with me because I am not concerned about things being perfect.

Right now I have to tell you about the most fabulous, groovy bell bottoms

 

I will not lie. I think of the beginning of “Baby Driver” where we are introduced to a good kid with a huge knowledge of music and he has to pay a huge debt to his boss, who is a monster (on screen and off screen) when I wear these jeans. The song is a great setting for the movie even though bell bottoms were not present in the movie. However, it is a perfect song that makes me happy about what I’m wearing.

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But for real let me tell you about bell bottoms. I have had these in my closet since my birthday. Sadly, I was afraid to wear these jeans because I thought they were too daring for me. Of course, a few things happened since I bought them. I moved to Nashville where the range of style is different from the armies of bachelorette parties in matching Cricut shirts and boots, 90s style Guess shirts, designer everything, and girls wearing Molly the American Girl doll glasses. Bell bottoms might not be as daring as some of these options, but I feel as though it’s a classic style that is stigmatized as a trend. However, the secret is you have to style them right.

I have had bell bottoms when was another trend many years ago. In 4th grade, I remember having a pair of baby blue bell bottoms with a glittery sheen. It was something Lizzie McGuire would have worn. In high school, I remember getting a pair a silk lined Miss Me bell bottom jeans after Katie Holmes wore them. Of course, those trends are distant.

I think they should stay. Mine are high waisted which gives a retro feel. Plus it works great with your shirt tucked in. There’s just something awesome about the way it pulls off with a solid top. Now I do need to find an awesome belt to wear with this. However, I just know this is something I will wear more often. I paired it with Diane Von Furstenburg cat-eyed sunglasses I found at Nordstrom Rack and a Cloth and Stone shirt from TJ Maxx.

 

Now I ordered these jeans from J. Crew and they were on clearance for $34. I will admit I was scared when I saw all sales were final. I would like to provide some alternative options. Now J. Crew does have a lighter wash available in the Ashbury flare jeanGap has a pair for $70. If you want to go for an extremely edgy look I would recommend these frayed bottom bell bottoms from Free People. The bell bottoms are very wide.

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My sister came to town and we did get touristy.

 

I feel as though the only way shoe that works with a pair of bell bottoms is one with a heel that provides height and structure. Plus, this prevents the hems from being stepped on and really looking like a tattered mess. My favorite platform sandal is Bushnell by OTBT. However, I opted for the Vionic Rory Bootie in Taupe. These boots are comfortable however I was an idiot and I didn’t wear socks because it showed through. Well, after a day of roaming around in Nashville in these shoes my toes hurt the next day. However, what I did for work the following week is fold an ankle sock over where it only covers half my foot. My heels were fine, which is a miracle considering I have worn flat boots and my heels have been in pain. At work, I have had no problems wearing the Vionics because they provide orthotic support. Plus, the taupe goes with everything.

 

If you don’t feel like wearing bell bottoms yet, let me show you a safe option for everyone, Women’s Textured Skinny Ankle Pants by A New Day. These might be worn weekly like the bell bottoms I had as a kid from Target. I have fallen in love with the A New Day line from Target for my work attire. There was no question that I had to get these textured pants. These are guaranteed to make you dance like Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face” when she is in the skinny pants and black turtleneck. They are edgy for going out, yet great for the office.  I wore them twice within one week of purchasing these pants because I love them so much. Plus, it is great for upcoming holidays parties. Also, I must add they are stretchy, which is great for being around holiday food.

Bell bottoms will be a permanent addition to my closet. However, my advice for the world is this just wear the bell bottoms because you can rock it and you will not look weird. Just say “Lord can’t help it baby got her blue jeans on” to motivate you to wear these things. Plus, you will feel awesome and may you have this Jon Spencer Explosion song stuck in your head if you opt to purchase a pair.

 

Em’s Favorite Things

Okay, so this is a knock-off of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” However, I have gotten gifts where I’m like I didn’t even know I needed that. At Christmas time, you might be a little bit clueless as to what you want on your Christmas List. If you are a guy, I can guarantee that your mother, sister or significant other might like one of these gifts.

Simple Human Sensor Light– This is the best thing for my morning routine. Makeup bloggers rave over their light mirrors, but the reason why I like the sensor mirror is that I do not have to deal with touching a button or a cord after handling my make up. It takes about 4 hours to charge and it lasts about two weeks to a month depending on your daily use. Ladies, you will have no problem tweezing your eyebrows with the magnification. The strangest use that this helped me with was video presentations in grad school. I would place it on two textbooks behind my MacBook then I would place a post-it over the sensor. I saw a commercial where YouTube blogger had a behind-the-scenes shot with a halo light and I thought, “Okay I bet this mirror could help the webcam quality.” Needless to say, it improved the video quality and it helped my eyes pop.

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Sunbeam Velour Electric Blanket– After my family went to Hawaii for Christmas, I thought I had everything. However, my mother still had one present under the tree after we arrived back home, this electric blanket. The rest of the Christmas break involved me watching 30 Rock with this blanket. She got me the velour texture, which is amazing. I have had it for the past 4 years and it works great. I will set the temperature all the way up about an hour before bed, then I will unplug it to prevent me from sweating throughout the night or throwing off the covers. This helps me fall asleep. This is perfect for when it starts to get cold and snow days. WARNING: it does cause excessive Netflix and chilling. Maybe not chilling since it makes you warm.

Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler. Oh, how I love this thing. If grilled cheeses are your favorite then you need this. Plus, this is a game changer for Taco Tuesday. The secret to happiness in life is throwing a taco in the panini maker (yes I did this on taco day at the Delta Gamma House). However, you will never want to go to Taco Bell for a quesadilla after owning one of these things. This thing comes with options for either grilling meats or a panini press. Plus, you can grill meats on this thing. Also, the plates are removable where they can go in the dishwasher. That includes the waffle iron plates, which waffle irons are the hardest things to clean so consider that a bonus.

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Free People Thermals– Each year, I love seeing what new colors or styles they release. However, I swear these things wash so well. The first one, I got seven years ago in college because of a cold front going through Mississippi. Well, I still have that thermal in my closet along with others to my collection.

Five Daughter’s Bakery– Instead of a birthday cake, I gave my mom a box of donuts for her birthday although these are more like a cake than a donut. If time allows, I am going to bring a box home to my family for the holidays. Reese Witherspoon has posted pictures of this place on her IG feed, so I blame her for this addiction. Trust me you will want to try all of the flavors, but you can probably eat around one and a half of these donuts. (Oprah does include one food item on her list.)

Rusk Straightener– I had to retire one this year…, but it made it to 7 years. It is great and I curl my hair with it to give me waves or straight hair. Plus it is sturdy. It handles the craziness of traveling. If you are lucky, you can occasionally find this model at TJ Maxx.

Frye Paige Tall Riding Boots– I will never forget six years ago when I got my first pair. In fact, I still have it. These boots could survive anything. Yes, I have had to use the condition and polish to the shoes, but these look new. Plus, I love how they can make any outfit feel structured. These go well with the next item.

Cole Haan Signature Asymmetrical Walker Coat– If there’s one thing I love, it is a classic coat that puts together an outfit. Ladies, I found this at the Brentwood Nordstrom Rack where the price was lower than what is listed at Macy’s. So you might want to go there first. I’m cold most of the time, so in the winter I feel as though the coats are apart of my outfit. This is why I love coats so much. I feel chic walking around in this coat while staying warm. Even though the color is bordeaux, I would like to call it maroon. The only problem is that I seriously wish I had this coat in undergraduate at Mississippi State for cheering on my dawgs at football games. I know it’s obvious I miss my alma mater, but if you do choose a color for a peacoat, make sure it is something that goes with your wardrobe.

Skinny Hangers– Okay this sounds goofy, but I mean this is an investment for space and your wardrobe. Once again, I’m the silly person who stocks up on make-up as a Christmas present. However, I am giving you the gift of additional closet space this Christmas along with no punctured shoulders due to plastic hangers.

Kendra Scott Phara Necklace– This was my Christmas present last year. I got it after realizing I usually grab the same 3 necklaces all the time, but I needed a change. What I like most about the Phara is that it is so versatile. You can make it into a choker or you can simply tie it. It can be changed easily. My favorite way to wear it is wrapping it around my neck like a choker, and then tieing it midway loosely where it is not in a knot. Go ahead scroll throw my IG feed and make fun of me for how many times I wore this thing in 2017. I’m still going to wear it in 2018.

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If you were clueless, I hope that I helped you. Most of these are gifts that I have received in the past.

Holiday Sale Secrets

First of all this blog is dedicated to Brittany Sims. I keep updating her on when sales are and she has encouraged me to maintain a sales blog. While I don’t see myself blogging about sales all of the time, I think I should reveal my secrets for the upcoming Christmas season. If there’s one thing I love it is saving money, but also I want to help people learn to crack the code. Also, this helps me avoid impulse buys.

 

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My friend Brittany and me with my Tory Burch Robinson Pebbled Double Zipped Satchel, which was a holiday sale find. I knew this photo was fitting even though it was from a little over a year ago and the logo on the bag isn’t showing. (Yeah I know low-quality photo, but high-quality friendship).

 

So here’s a little bit of how I plan out my Christmas shopping. However, it is also a team effort between my mother and sister this helps us obtain more. I buy mostly everything online because you will not see me fighting sleep, traffic, nor people.

The first winter sale begins this weekend. Around the first week of November, I focus on cosmetics at Sephora. Since I am a VIB Rouge member, I receive a 20% discount from Sephora. To meet the spending criteria, my sister and I will pick out cosmetics and hair care products but also we will stock up for the upcoming year. I will keep an inventory of what I use and what I need. Sometimes I order it online, but I go to the store to get my cosmetics. I really like the looks of this Tarte Limited Edition Treasure Box Collector’s Edition Palette.  The shade souvenir looks beautiful and I use a thin brush to apply eyeshadow like eyeliner when I have to out at night. This gives a burst of color that makes my eyes pop, but I also don’t have to put a lot of effort into taking off eyeliner at night.

So the week of Thanksgiving is Tory Burch. This particular sale seems to start earlier and earlier, but keep an eye on the products you want and set them aside in the online shopping cart. However, the more you spend the more discounts you get. My mother and sister choose jewelry and handbags then create the order in my shopping bag. Sometimes, Tory Burch will give you gift cards depending on how much you have spent in the past, which is even more helpful. I know you can eyeroll her stuff comes at a pretty penny, but I just retired my first pair of Tory Burch Minnie Ballet Flats that I wore on campus and work. They were 5 years old. I pretty much grab these shoes everytime I have to dress up. I remember it taking me almost 6 years to get an everyday Tory Burch handbag in my hands. Yes, I love designer clothes, but I did not know how to crack the code. For the past two Christmases, I have gotten Tory Burch bags for around half the price. Not bad considering I carry the bag everyday for a year and I will dig it out of my closet to carry again.

Macy’s has been my choice for kitchen appliances for Black Friday deals. However, I compared prices to other retailers and Macy’s has failed me. It looks like Amazon might be the retailer to go to for sales considering they started Black Friday deals for the month of October. This year my eyes are on the Instant Pot, which is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, and food warmer. I need all of the counter and cabinet space that I can get. Plus, I can make french dips, which I love ordering at a deli.

Now as for clothing it varies. Usually, I do an inventory of my closet beforehand to make sure I get something that I need and not something I have. This season is crazy considering there’s not a piece of clothing I have my eyes on. I’m still trying to find a rain jacket that looks professional and I’m not rushing it trying to find the perfect piece. J. Crew is my favorite store for business clothes.  Plus, it is a great time to get slacks that you can wear all year round to work. Nordstrom is another store that I rely on for Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sales for boots. I really try to focus on what I will wear to work when I buy clothes. Last year, I made some purchases online for sales of 20% off at both Kendra Scott and Anthropologie. However, this year clothing does not apply in my sales strategy.

I know my style, budget, and needs are different from everyone else so here’s what you can do. With the exception of the Sephora sale, most holiday sales will not kick in until the Monday before Thanksgiving. So here is what to remember:

  1. Scroll through your favorite websites and select items to be added to your cart.
  2. Go through your closet and realize what you might need.
  3. Keep a record of the discount codes or coupons.
  4. If shopping for clothes, know your size. Also, it helps to get out a measuring tape to see how big a handbag could be.
  5. Tag team with a family member if you see a deal that says buy this much and save this percent.
  6. Take action when you see the deal.

Stranger Thoughts

I have held back on posting quotes from the recent season of Stranger Things on my social media channels because I know people have had activities this weekend. I wanted to redirect the conversation about Stranger Things to my blog instead of my social media channels. Recently so many websites give spoilers with the headlines that make one question the fate of the show or it mentions even one trivial thing. However, I just want to see everyone’s thoughts in the comments thread on my blog only so we don’t spoil anything for others.

On a side note Target has tons of Stranger Things Merchandise, such as a card game, Monopoly, and Ouija board. Hint: I really want the card game for Christmas. I believe it is popular due to the fact that it just shows everyone’s nerdy side and nostalgia. One of my classmates from high school claimed she would burn down the place if she saw a spoiler. We do not want arson charges so don’t scroll down unless you have seen it. This is the last reminder that if you haven’t seen the show stop reading below this line.

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New Character Vibes- When I took a creative practicum class in college, I had a  teacher explain that when a character leaves it is like an organ transplant. You have to find the similar character with the same traits to keep it going. Well even though 11 is still on the show, she doesn’t really communicate until the end with her guy friends. So I feel as though Max was used to serve as the girl the group. However, I believe that in the next season conflict will arise between the girls even though they are perfect together.

We see more of other family members besides. I thought it was funny with Dustin’s mom and Mews (the Barb of this season), but the best secondary character was without a doubt is Erica. Lucas’ sassy little sister who had the cutest comeback lines. However, Holly Wheeler still hasn’t said a word yet.

Nancy and Steve, you have improved- On “The OC,” I hated Summer Roberts in the beginning, but she became a better person. The same applies to Nancy and Steve. In my eyes, I still slightly cannot forgive her by how she treated Barb. Nancy does a good job showing grief over Barb’s death, which it’s quite evident at the house party.  I actually sympathized with Nancy, but I’m glad she at least had a little flame with Jonathon. I was glad when she offered him to go to the party with the line, “You will be listening to the Talking Heads and reading Vonnegut.” I am glad she worked with Jonathon to help the reporter bring down the lab. That’s what good journalism does.

Steve was actually nice, but I still think of him as the mean guy. Yeah, he did clean the “Nancy the Slut” signs in season 1, but he just still isn’t my favorite.  I was shocked when he befriended Dustin where he eventually gave him advice that made his hair look like Ducky on “Pretty in Pink.” I believe in the next season it might be hard for Steve to show he hangs out with the geeks. There’s no way he would let the school know he’s playing a campaign in the Wheeler’s basement. However, the train tracks scene between Dustin and him was awesome.

Rules to live by- If I have kids I will tell them Hopper’s “We are not stupid rules” which are “blinds pulled, don’t answer the door, and don’t leave without me because we are not stupid.” Please if you have a kid I dare you to do this. My dad really emphasized about how people can see your activity with the blinds up when I was young and specifically when I went off to college so I really related to it. However, think about it is good to explain safety to a little kid.

If I ever teach I will show Jonathon’s freak speech. Yes, it’s okay if you are a little misunderstood because I thought by now people would know about the band Dawes. Jonathon made a good point when he said, “Who would you rather have as your friend Bowie or Kenny Rogers?”  I had to pause for a moment on that question. Even though Kenny Rogers donated money for a center that provides free therapy for kids in my hometown, but I related more to Bowie. Also, I considered going as Bowie with the lightning bolt make up for Halloween, but I chose Eleven. However, that speech showed how Jonathon is wise for guidance beyond introducing his brother to a daring band called, The Clash.

 

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I may have looked like the Ghostbusters Costume scene posing like Eleven.

Similar Bad Boy- However, geez Billy is scum. He is truly like Troy on the Goonies, reckless in his hot rod car. I mean Troy almost killed Brand with the bike just like Billy wanting to hit the boys “just because.” Please tell me, I’m not the only one who thinks he looks like Rob Lowe before “Tommy Boy,” but more specifically he reminds me of another Billy on “St. Elmo’s Fire” and Sodapop Curtis on “The Outsiders.” The hair mixed with the jawline and eyes makes him look like Rob Lowe in the 80s. He seemed to replace Steve’s awful character traits and on the aftershow, The Duffer Brothers mentioned they wrote Billy in because of Steve’s change of character. However, I don’t see this evil guy changing.

Eleven- She has had so much to learn, but she still has a lot more. Her communication is more verbal. She had to learn more than how to sweep the floor of Hopper’s cabin because she learned a lot about her past. Eleven made some dangerous journeys by herself to find shelter, her mother, and lab sister. However, Eleven found the place she belonged. I feel as though Eleven in the pink dress is so distant when we saw her with the Warriors meets Suicide Squad type crew.  I was glad that she was taught her anger, but geez I was glad she ran away from the creeps.  However, I just felt as though when she found her lab sister, it was almost like it escaped to a different series where I did not like the feel. Also, it was hard considering that she did not communicate have one conversation with the boys until episode 8. My fear for next season is that she is still learning to use her powers, will she use them for good or use them for bad?

What about Barb? She’s gone, but not forgotten. She made an appearance in the memorial photos. The status is not only is she dead, but her death made headlines from the controversy of the Hawkins Lab. However, it killed me when the parents believed she was alive and it terrorized Nancy.

What about Bob? Geez, Bob is a goober. I loved The Goonies and Sean Astin was awesome in 50 First Dates, but this one I was like you have strange quirks. Joyce could do way better. At least he wasn’t like Billy’s dad, but he was quirky I mean forgetting the gun at the control center. I had a feeling Sean Astin would just be a character for a brief moment for the purpose of nostalgia. The demodogs totally attacked Bob like walkers on The Walking Dead while Joyce just screamed no.

Dustin is totally Chunk-  I’m referring to a character in The Goonies. When the pollywog came into play I thought darn we have some Harry Potter vibes here because there’s some sort of mythical creature Dustin is just amazed at and tries to find what species it is. Except darn Dustin is almost like a naive Hagrid the whole time until the Demogorgon ate the cat. However, even in the last episode, he believes that a Three Musketeer can solve a lot of problems like Chunk to Sloth with the Baby Ruth. I love they incorporated the ghost trap, but Dustin also had a lot of ETs around the room.

It’s like Lost– Good God with the episode “Dig Dug” it turned into an episode of Lost with medical emergencies, flashbacks, and the repetition of something. “Breathe, sunflower, rainbow, 450, three to the right, four to the left, breathe” is to Stranger Things as “4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42” is to Lost. At the final episode when Will has the monster emerge from him, it totally reminded me of the smoke monster. Also, there were so many parts where I felt like a psychology/ethics lesson. Eleven basically had a similar experience to the Milgram’s study when was given the choice to kill Ray from the lab where it reminded me of many situations in Lost. Sorry, I had to mention this, but you have to remember my family watched Lost together when I was in high school.

Netflix better release Stranger Things on Halloween every year- Considering that Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix had a scarce selection of horror movies we need something to creep us out around Halloween. For now, I would highly recommend the after show, Beyond Stranger Things, especially if you like behind the scenes features such as special effects, costumes, and character development. I’m still watching it, but it is something good to have one while going through emails or paying bills, etc. However, I feel as though Beyond Stranger Things is too long for most people to watch.