102. Print out pictures that I’ve taken and display them.

I might be dating myself here, but some of my favorite days in middle school were the days after a field trip. Why the day after? Because everybody would have taken their rolls of film to get developed and a good portion of the day would be spent passing around those little envelopes filled with pictures. I remember spending HOURS organizing my photo album so my favorite pictures were all in there.

Unfortunately with the invention of Facebook, my favorite one hour photo place took a major hit. Instead of passing around a pile of pictures, now you could click through them while not paying attention during an Art History lecture. Now there are even MORE ways to share pictures. I swear, I have like eight different accounts just to see people’s pictures.

And then came Shutterfly. For those of you not familiar with Shutterfly, it’s a company that lets you upload and print pictures and photo gifts like mugs and calendars and cell phone cases. I’ve used them to print photos for YEARS, but I’ve also made photo books and Christmas cards. My two favorite things about the company is the frequency that they send me coupons and the ability to print to Target. I’ve gotten some AWESOME coupons since I’ve signed up as a Shutterfly member. I printed a photo book for last year’s Joplin trip and shortly after Christmas, they sent me a coupon for 101 free prints…hence this entry.

So with that coupon, I was able to print some pictures from the past few years. The next step was figuring out how to display them. I have quite a few pictures in frames in my living room, but with all the effort I spent hanging them, they’re not coming down until I move out. I wanted something cute, but also easy so I could change the pictures frequently…maybe that will encourage me to print more!

I wound up creating a display above my bed, as my bedroom didn’t have very much decoration. I’ve got some colored twine taped up with hair bows clipped at the end to disguise the tape. The pictures are clipped to the twine with clothes pins. Very Pinterest!

My newest picture display!!

My newest picture display!!

In other decorating news, I did attempt to fix the gallery wall in my living room, and the frame that holds my concert tickets promptly fell down. Again. I also thing I can do more with my bedroom. With as much as I’ve moved around, I always feel like once I have “finished” decorating, it’s time to packet it all up and move again!

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How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

This time last month, I was eagerly counting down the days until I had a whole, glorious, twelve days off from work. I decided that I was going to take an ACTUAL break during the holidays…but didn’t tell anybody. Oops. Sorry for going off the radar! To be fair, I was supposed to be back “on” the radar three days ago, but as of typing this post, I have not had a healthy day in 2014 (more on that later). I was hoping that MAYBE I’d be able to accomplish #15 (go a day without internet), but the closest I got to that was that I brought my laptop to Connecticut but didn’t once turn it on. Baby steps.

The Good

You may have noticed that #54 on my list was to get my parents a big Christmas gift and that for the longest time it’s had (December 2013) next to it. Well, I actually bought the gift months ago, but obviously couldn’t write about until after Christmas. So what was their big gift? A new TV!! The last time my parents bought a TV, I don’t think flat screens even existed. They had been mentioning getting a new TV for quite some time, but something else always seemed to come up. Unfortunately there was no easy way to smuggle the giant box into the house, so my parents received their present two days early.

My parents BIG Christmas present!

My parents BIG Christmas present!

I got to hang out with my older cousins for a bit on Christmas Eve. I’m smack dab in the middle of my family – there are thirteen years between me and my next oldest cousin and thirteen years between me and the cousin younger than me. Clearly there’s not much in common when we’ve got this thirteen year spread, but now that we’re getting older, it’s easier to bridge that gap.

Anytime I go back to Connecticut, I try to see all of my home friends. I did a decent job – one night at Biscotti’s, one night out to dinner with Lexie (great food, crappy service), and WHERE THE HELL WAS RENO?! Earlier in the holiday season, I texted my usual group of girls and suggested something new – doing a group gift exchange instead of individual gifts. We wound up doing a bottle exchange – one bottle of wine, one bottle of nail polish. We were talking about other types of gift exchanges and I think next year we are going to do a “My Favorite Things” exchange!

Gift Exchange 2013

Gift Exchange 2013

The one home friend that I got to see more than anyone else was Elissa. I was glad to have time to catch up with her and we celebrated another New Year’s Eve with one another. It was tame by twenty-something standards, but it reminded us of our “glory days” of middle school…including the winter break that Elissa slept over my house for four or five nights in a row!

We let Lilly hang out with us too.

We let Lilly hang out with us too.

The Better

On Christmas Eve, I went to take the dog out only to find out that it was snowing! That’s two years in a row with a nice Christmas dusting!

The view from the top of my driveway.

The view from the top of my driveway.

Since I was all too eager to go off the radar this break, I spent a good portion of it curled up on the couch in front of my parents’ new TV streaming Netflix from my Wii. I think my mom was pretty bummed when I took the Wii back to Reading with me, but my dad is looking into getting a Roku or some other sort of streaming device so my mom can watch Netflix on the TV.

The Bad

Unfortunately break wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It started on a pretty sour note – my car failed its inspection (and the inspection itself took nearly two hours longer than it was supposed to). Now I get to research tires and brakes and all those other fun things.

Spending time with my older cousins came with a price – a MAJOR hangover. It’s true what they say – you really can’t keep track of how much you drink when your drink keeps getting topped off.

My student loan payments were due at the end of my little vacation. That was expected, but the change in my minimum payment was not!! It was my hope to fully pay off one of my student loans in the near future, but with the minimum payment change, it’s not possible. This just solidifies that I need to find a financial advisor (#118!).

The BLECHHH

I mentioned earlier that I haven’t had a healthy day since we switched calendars. 2014 started fine. Since Elissa and I had the tamest NYE celebration this side of high school, there was no pesky hangover to worry about. One per vacation is enough, thank you. But by that afternoon, I wasn’t feeling so hot…I was at a party with TONS of food and I wanted NONE of it. Anybody that knows me can confirm that’s not normal. I shrugged it off and went to sleep early, only to wake up at 11:30 feeling incredibly sick. I’ll spare the nasty details, but let’s just say I did not leave the bathroom until 7:30 the next morning. The next (same?) day, I couldn’t get off the couch for anything. All I wanted to do was sleep, but all I could do was lightly doze. Luckily, the day after that was MUCH better. I could get up and move around, but it left me exhausted, so after I drove back to Reading, I crashed HARD. I woke up at 9:30 to find my apartment freezing. Broken heater. Great. I woke up at 12:15 to let the facilities worker in that graciously brought me a space heater. Woke up later in the night because my neck was itchy. Removed a necklace and went back to sleep. Woke up at 7:30 itchy all over and discovered I had some terrible rash. Benadryl is taking care of that, but I still have no energy. I’ve been trying to unpack, but I keep having to sit down and rest. I cannot wait to get better!!

Oh and BLECH that it’s 2014…I was just writing something down and wrote 2012. I’m not one year behind like a normal person…I’m TWO years behind. To quote Blink 182 – “Well I guess this is growing up.”

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013!! I'm looking ahead to a fantastic 2014 - once this plague is behind me!

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013!! I’m looking ahead to a fantastic 2014 – once this plague is behind me!

“Make It Nice Around the Tree”

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday. I can’t wait to have my own house to decorate. Yes, I decorate my apartment each year, but a house has so much more room!

A few years back, some friends asked if I wanted to go to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting in Manhattan, I jumped at the chance. Growing up outside the city, I had obviously SEEN the tree before, but  had never been to the tree lighting before. I eagerly hopped on the train to meet my friends. I was excited to see all of the Christmas decorations – not just the tree.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten just how crowded Manhattan gets during the holidays. Everybody knows that New Year’s Eve in Times Square is a madhouse – why would the tree lighting for America’s most famous Christmas tree be any different? I can’t stand crowds of people, so I was a little nervous but still decided to go. After this experience, I know that I will NEVER try New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

My friends and I wandered towards Rockefeller Center in the late afternoon and found the roads had already been blocked to vehicular traffic. There were large projection screens set up – presumably so people standing in those areas would be able to see the show (even though they had no view of the tree). We decided to try and find an in-person view of the tree and luckily enough we did! We came in off of 51st Street and were standing in Rockefeller Plaza. The area was filled with those metal police barricades that separated the crowd into a grid-like formation, keeping paths in between groups. We were at the front section of our section, right up against the barricade. We settled in and waited for the festivities to start. More people kept piling into our little area. At one point, a family with a young child decided to leave. The police let them out by moving the barricade, but the moment that people in the back of our section noticed people leaving, they started pushing forward. I was really uncomfortable with the whole situation. We could see the tree from our section, but not the stage. I had no idea that there was a whole show to go along with the tree lighting! There were a bunch of performers (Celine Dion and Josh Groban were the two I remembered) and a whole thing because the tree was “going green” that year by using LED lights.

The tree before it was lit.

The tree before it was lit.

The tree lit for the first time with LED lights!

The tree lit for the first time with LED lights!

The experience wasn’t TERRIBLE but I don’t think I would go back for it again unless I spent a ton of money to get special reserved seats or something. I think I’ll stick to ooh-ing and aahh-ing as I plug my own tree in.

I started writing this before I went back to CT for break, but needed to finish it here so I could find pictures on my computer. While I was home, we received one of those reverse 911 calls telling us that some roads were going to be closed and that there was a “traffic advisory” for the “downtown” area of my hometown. HA!!!

A Quick Thanksgiving Update!

  • Prior to Thanksgiving, I took a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market AND donated a bunch of clothes! I hope to have the donation post up soon. The Farmer’s Market post is going to have to wait until I can go back and take more pictures than just one of me drooling over my first bubble tea since leaving Delaware.
  • While I was home, I cleaned out both my closet and dresser from my “In Between” bedroom. Trust me, this is a major accomplishment and I can definitely cross #115 off the list.
  • …I also watched every episode of Hoarders on Netflix which probably explains the first two items.
  • I decorated my Christmas tree the other day! I’m not going to count that as decorating for Christmas because I only have a tree and stockings up and in my mind, decorating for a holiday means going all out.
  • I missed Thanksgiving Eve due to some icy road conditions. I was upset at first but then I remembered how AWKWARD it is to see everybody that I used to not talk to in high school.
  • My mom, Lilly, and I set out with the intention of taking some Christmas card photos (#79!) but I’m almost 99% sure we’re going with a picture from last Christmas. Oops.
  • This month marks the first time that EVERY SINGLE ONE of my student loans is under it’s original balance (#31) so that’s another post!!
  • I successfully avoided Black Friday shopping and instead went to Stew Leonard’s which was delightfully NOT CROWDED. New tradition? I think so!

 

And now for some pictures from break!

Lilly and Jakey waiting for the turkey to drop!

Lilly and Jakey waiting for the turkey to drop!

One of Lilly's potential Christmas card pictures. Yes, we went to the beach on Black Friday as well.

One of Lilly’s potential Christmas card pictures. Yes, we went to the beach on Black Friday as well.

Mommy, Lilly, and me after our beach adventure.

Mommy, Lilly, and me after our beach adventure.

Posed Lilly in front of the Christmas tree like the proud mommy I am!

Posed Lilly in front of the Christmas tree like the proud mommy I am!