New Year // 2016 Goals

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. I truly enjoyed slowing down a bit and enjoying my time with family. Cookies were made, movies were watched, food was consumed, dogs were snuggled and naps were taken! All the important elements of a good little break were accounted for. Given that the new year is a week away, I thought I would pop in today to share with you my 2016 goals.

I like to say goals because while it is only a word, I find that there is far more pressure attached when we call them resolutions. Resolutions are more finite with less room for negotiation. Goals in my opinion, acknowledge that we are human and that we are all works in progress. I think we need room for error. Improvement is a journey. I also like to call them goals because some of the things on my list don't really fall under the resolution heading, and are more just things I hope to do in the coming year. So without further blabbing...here are my goals for 2016!

2 0 1 6 
  • Create More - this one might seem vague but its purposely open. Essentially what this means is that I want to do more - whether that means photography, cooking, crafts, gardening, etc. I often have ideas for projects that never happen and I want to try and bring more of my ideas to fruition this upcoming year. I just want to create. In whatever way that it might transpire.
  • Save More/Be Frugal - this one will be one of my greatest challenges because I tend to spend money quite impulsively sometimes. In an effort to have greater success with the idea of saving, I am leaving this goal a bit open ended. I'm not going to say I want to save a specific amount of money or that I plan to cut out various things in my life in order to save, but I hope to be more mindful of my purchases. I plan to expand on this subject in the coming year so keep an eye out for some posts in the future. 
  • Read 12 books - now this goal is nearly embarrassing because 12 books is a drop in the bucket for many. However, as much as I truly do love to read, I have slowed down quite a bit over the years and I don't read nearly as much as I should or would like. So I am giving myself what I think will be a manageable goal of roughly one book a month. I plan to bring you book reviews throughout the year and am always open to book recommendations! 
  • Try 12 new recipes - like my book goal, I would like to try my hand at a new (to me) recipe at least once a month. I love to bake and cook but I often find that I will stick to the foods I have made before and know that I enjoy. This year I want to try some things I've either never had before, or that I've never made before. 
  • Volunteer - volunteering has been something I have wanted to do for years and I feel ashamed to say that it never actually happens. This year I want to really push myself to find the right volunteer work for me. I have a lot of causes for which I feel passionate and I want to take my impact beyond donations and actually try to get involved. 
  • Do yoga twice a week - I have recently started doing yoga, and I really enjoy it. However, I find that I struggle at maintaining consistency so I am giving myself a very bare bones goal of practicing yoga twice a week. My hope is that I will grow accustom to this routine and then be able to expand on that more successfully!

Well, these are my goals for the new year - I hope that they inspire you to make goals for yourself as well. I would love to hear what you hope to achieve in 2016 in the comments! Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year! 


Five Songs for Friday #2 - Ho Ho Ho Edition

 *          *          *

Music is a huge obsession of mine, so I wanted to incorporate that into the blog. Five songs for Friday is a regular post (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.) in which I'll share some of my current favorites with you! If you've got any song/artist suggestions for me based on what I've listed here or in the past...I'm all ears! (pun INTENDED)! 

H O L I D A Y * E D I T I O N 


With Your Hands // Holiday DIY

Yesterday was a draining day in which I spent far too many hours stuck at my desk working on a huge paper that was due...of course, yesterday. I usually thrive under pressure when it comes to school assignments, but I was suffering from a serious case of writers block and while I knew what I was writing about, I just couldn't seem to find the words I needed. A long day turned into a long night and I decided that what I really needed after such an exhausting day was to just take a day to decompress and do something creative and fun. I'll be honest. This DIY that I'm sharing today is less about the end product and more about the process. So I encourage everyone to take some time, specifically during this hectic holiday season, to sit down and get lost in something creative.

Remember making snowflakes as a kid? It's a fuzzy memory but I'm fairly certain its something I did. After a conversation with my sister over Thanksgiving break, we decided to try and do it again. It was pretty amusing to be honest ...maybe its easier when you're a kid. I'm not sure. I saved the ones we made over break, and cut out a few more, then I busted out some watercolor paints, turned on the Christmas music and started painting them.

I honestly cannot remember the last time that I painted anything other than a wall and it was nice to just take pause and play around with no care about the end result. I took the painted paper snowflakes and hung them with fishing line in a window (which I'm fully aware is dirty.... cleaning it would have gone against my do-nothing day). It might look juvenile but like I said, it was more about the process than the end result. I will say one thing though: buy some decent brushes!! I had picked up a cheap pack of brushes from an arts & crafts store awhile back and you certainly get what you pay for. They were falling apart and shedding like crazy!


Holiday baking: ginger cookies

There are probably over a million different types of cookies you could bake for the holidays. Last year I made at least a half dozen different kinds over the course of two or three days. I really enjoy baking and the holidays are certainly one of the best excuses to do so!

One of my favorites that I discovered last year were these ginger cookies. I came across the recipe posted on Gimme Some Oven and without reading any comments for feedback, knew that  I had to try them. I was so happy I did and aside from the brookies that I made influenced by Lily Pebbles (which required a bit of math thanks to conversions), they were one of my top favorites. They're chewy without being so chewy that they battle your teeth and the taste is a perfect balance between the ginger, cinnamon and cloves - nothing overpowers. They are dangerous though - because despite the fact that one recipe yields quite a few of these babies, they can dissapear awful quickly!

I can certainly advocate for the inclusion of these cookies into your holiday baking plans! Trust me they are worth it!! You can find the recipe here.


Let's Go: Albright Knox Art Gallery - Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860-1910

I'm ashamed to admit how long it has been since I last visited my local art gallery. It has without question, been far too long. So when I heard of an exhibit that just recently opened up that focused on Monet and other impressionists, I ordered tickets with little hesitancy and my mother, sister and I ventured off the weekend before Thanksgiving to get our culture on.

I'm very lucky to live in an area that is home to a gorgeous art gallery - the Albright Knox Art Gallery. I remember trips here when I was younger (and more specifically, playing on the back side of the gallery), and I have no good excuse as to why I haven't been back for years. The combination of Thanksgiving break and the Monet exhibit were just the perfect catalyst to change all of that.

The exhibit is called Monet and the Impressionist Revolution, 1860-1910 and will run from November 15th 2015 - March 20th 2016. The exhibit features work from Claude Monet, Paul C├ęzanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and more. The exhibit showcased some of my favorite artists and was absolutely worth the costs of a ticket (PS - if you have a student ID, you can save a bit)!! I did take a few photos, which I will share here but to be honest, I purposely tried to limit any photography because it is truly an exhibit that needs to be seen in person to appreciate.

Tickets for the exhibit also includes admission to the overall museum, but to be honest, the Monet exhibit deeply overshadowed what was on display in the rest of the museum (perhaps because to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of modern art...forgive me).

I'd highly recommend the Monet exhibit if you're looking for something to do in Western New York! If you are traveling to the Buffalo area for the holidays, it would make for a great family activity. You can buy tickets here!

Oh, and don't forget to explore the exterior of the gorgeous facility as well! :)


#GivingTuesday: Five Organizations to Support.

The holiday season can be a chaotic time of year. It's easy to lose focus, or to get caught up in the more commercial aspects of the season. I thought it would be nice to pay some attention to some easy ways in which you can make an impact, no matter how busy you might be. In honor of #GivingTuesday I've put together a quick list of five organizations to support now, and year round!

1. Doctors Without Borders - This organization goes into the most dangerous spots in the world to help anyone and everyone that they can, without scrutiny by providing medical care. Learn more here. Donate HERE. 

2. Hope House/Kids With Cameras - The idea for Hope House came from the powerful impact of the documentary, Born Into Brothels and the Kids With Cameras organization. Hope House is currently running an indie-go-go campaign to raise money toward the building of a safe haven for children from the Red Light District in India. Donate HERE! 

3. No More - The No More campaign was started by actress Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: SVU fame. The goal of No More is to raise awareness of domestic violence, with the goal of ending it completely. They estimate that 12.7 million people are abused, raped, or stalked by a partner every year. You can learn more here, shop here, or get involved here!

4. Greenpop - Greenpop is an organization in South Africa that was started by Jeremy Loops and others. They are committed to the environment and to date they have planted over 56,000 trees. Learn more here. You can donate a tree here!

5. Beagle Freedom Project - The Beagle Freedom Project is doing important work on a global scale. They aim at ending animal cruelty and saving the many dogs who are used for testing in facilities all over the world. Often, the animals chosen for these experiments are beagles. They recently won an award for their efforts from Lush! You can learn more here, donate here, or even shop here! 

BONUS: #GiveABook campaign - this one is an easy way to help out, that only requires the use of social media. The #GiveABook campaign is supported by Penguin Random House publishing. Simply use the hashtag #GiveABook on Facebook or Twitter between now and December 24, and Penguin Random House will donate a book! They have also put together this map, that can help you find out where you can donate books locally for the holiday season! 

Hopefully this list helps to inspire you to find ways to give back this holiday season. I would love to hear how you give back both during the holidays and year round, in the comments!!