“To You, From You”

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Happy Christmas Eve! If you’re anything like me at the moment, you’re relishing the sensation of what this time of year is all about: good company, good food, and a much-needed change of pace. It’s been nice to sleep in a bit, get through back issues of magazines, catch a film in the middle of the day, and to generally leave the routine of what a normal week might look like behind. And yet, in some ways, I haven’t. Admittedly, it’s been a struggle to really decompress and stay present. It’s showing me just how much pent-up exhaustion I’ve been carrying around with me for quite some time. Perhaps it’s because it takes some time to re-train your brain on how to not think about whatever problems that typically distract the mind day-to-day. Perhaps it’s because prepping for the holidays comes with its own set of things to add to yet another “to-do” list that still has your brain on the go, effectively preventing it from really unwinding.

I often find my mind slipping toward work or some issue that I promised myself I would step away from for the next 3 weeks to relax and enjoy the holidays, and I get really frustrated with myself. I then get frustrated with myself that I’m frustrated with myself and it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, which completely defeats the purpose of why I made myself take an extended holiday vacation this year. I need the rest. I need some space to breathe and think about what I really want. I’ve already decided that I’ll have to make some pretty big changes in 2015 and I can’t get there if I’m constantly in the middle of a vicious cycle, not taking the time to stop.

I was reading December’s issue of O Magazine on the drive up to Santa Cruz yesterday to spend Christmas with boyfriend’s family, and came across a timely article from Martha Beck, aptly titled “To You, From You.” Her thought process was that for every gift you give someone, you should give something to yourself. She wasn’t talking about expensive physical gifts either. Essentially, she was making the point to not get so lost in the craze of the holidays that you forget to replenish and think about yourself. I realized immediately what I needed to give myself: a break.

I can be pretty hard on myself, be in my head too much, and rehash or analyze a situation so much that it becomes anything but productive.

So, while yes this time of year is for being with loved ones, sharing gifts, and eating to your heart’s desire, I thought I’d take a different approach this Christmas Eve and remind you, as Martha Beck did for me just in the nick of time so as to not miss it altogether, to remember to give something to yourself.

I’m decidedly giving myself a break. If I start thinking about work, about what a bad blogger I am for missing a post date, or complaining about “x, y, or z;” instead of getting frustrated or disappointed in myself, I’ll simply tell myself, “give something to you, Candice. Let it go. Give yourself a break.”

This is my gift to you (through Martha, of course), which sums up my opinion on how to really enjoy and stay present this holiday season.

And speaking of being present…I’m off to rejoin my holiday vacation, now in-progress.

Merry Christmas to you! x

 

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For Her

Holiday Gift Guide_FOR HER_ATG FINAL

We can’t leave the ladies behind! Today, my top last-minute holiday gift guide picks for the gals in your life. Similar to the dudes, when curating this list, I tried to consider things that I would readily gift to a friend or family member of the female persuasion, but kept in mind a more reasonable price point. There are a few “splurge” items if your budget allows – but most items are under $40. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration if you’re still on the holiday shopping hunt.

(And if you need some help with the guys in your life, I’ve got you covered here.)

The countdown continues. Happy shopping!

1. Steve Madden Buffalo Plaid Infinity Scarf, $32.00
2. Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, $22.50
3. Mullein & Sparrow Facial Steam, $14.00
4. The Oliver Gal Artist Co. Solid Kiss Sign, $159.00
5. Winter Dream Tea Latte Gift Set, $19.95
6. Reynosa Black Sequin Clutch, $34.00
7. Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum Rollerball, $29.99
8. Voluspa ‘Visions of Sugar Plum’ Candle, $18.00
9. Sleepover Cotton Knit Robe, $45.00
10. Desert Petunia Mexican Blanket, $50.00
11. Treasure Deco Pendant Necklace, $29.70 (on sale as of writing time, regularly $49.50)
12. Freesia Oval Soap, $15.00
13. Mally Beauty 5 pc. High Shine Lip Gloss, $35.00
14. Bubble Drop Earrings, $88.00
15. and for the bookworm…
Yes Please by Amy Poehler (for the gal who needs a laugh), $14.50
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey 
(for the gal who appreciates good life advice), $18.80
The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg 
(for the career-minded fashionista), $19.90

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For Him

2014 Holiday Gift Guide_FOR HIM_ ATG FINAL

I cannot be alone when I say that I think men are the hardest creatures to shop for when it comes to holidays…or birthdays…or anytime, really. I learned this at a pretty young age when I used to rack my brain trying to figure out what to get my brother anytime a gift was necessary. Admittedly, I eventually learned (not too long ago, in fact) that an Amazon gift card works miracles when it comes to him – he can select just about anything in the world one could ever want or need. It’s a win, win.

But what about those times you want to physically hand out a good ol’ fashioned bow-bestowed wrapped present to the men in your life? You’re in luck! I’ve been thinking about this pretty heavily lately and curated a short list of ideas to prompt some last-minute inspiration (or if you’re like me, some “just in time” inspiration because you usually wait until the week before Christmas to even start thinking about holiday shopping).

I realize the blogosphere goes rather crazy with Holiday Gift Guides around this time of year and this is just another take on a very cliché December post, but I have to admit the “research” involved made my virtual holiday shopping experience quite fun and opened me up to new ideas when thinking about gift giving for men. When building this list, I tried to think of things that I would readily gift, but kept in mind a more reasonable price point. There are a few “splurge” items if your budget allows – but most items are under $40.

The countdown starts now. Happy shopping!

1. The Catchall Valet, $37.50
2. Lacoste Marice LBR Slip-Ons, $59.99
3. Bobine (The World’s Most Flexible Charger for iPhone or Android), $35.00
4. Personalized Genuine Leather Tri-Fold Wallet (includes engraving), $24.95
5. Personalized Whisky Decanter (includes engraving), $125.00
6. BBQ Briefcase, $83.50
7. Christmas Caramel, Cheddar & Kettle Popcorn Tin, $39.99
8. Jason Markk Essential Shoe Cleaning Kit, $16.00
9. Quirky Cordies, $4.99
10. Aromi “Very Manly” Solid Cologne, $14.00
11. LaCie PetiteKey USB Flash Drive, $9.99-$29.99
12. 4-Port USB Wall Charger, $39.99
13. Marc by Marc Jacobs Aviator Sunglasses, $85.00

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Mixtape Monday: Holiday Hits

Happy December! Happy Holidays!

Coming off a relaxing, yet productive Thanksgiving weekend here. I finished a book, started another one; caught an “interesting” (for lack of a better word) film, The Babadook, at the Silent Movie Theater; successfully completed our “Rocky” movie marathon (gosh, do I love that series!), made it to The Grove for some much-needed holiday cheer, and ate more ham than is probably legal! Suffice to say, all is well at the moment. I have to admit, I’m anxious for the next few weeks to pass. I CANNOT wait for a more proper vacation, where I plan to unplug for 3 full weeks. Ahh!

Until then, why not enjoy what makes this time of year so special, the magic of the holidays! I’m kicking off December in-style with a little Christmas music today. I made a holiday mixtape with some of a my favorites last year and think it’s the perfect way to get in a festive mood.

Listen along if you’d like! Please hit the link noted just after the jump or click here and enjoy!

Have a great week. x

All That Glitters

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It’s official. Some light holiday decorating and a weekend filled with watching some of my favorite holiday movies and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I thought it would be fun to curate a list of some of my favorite Christmas songs – old and those that are destined to be new favorites. My two “go-to” Christmas CD’s have always been Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas and Josh Groban’s Noel. There are also some great tracks on Celine Dion’sThese Are The Special Times that are nostalgic to Christmas when I was a teenTo mix it up a bit, I decided to check out new releases from both Kelly Clarkson and Mary J. Blige. I have to say, I think Mary’s new holiday album, A Mary Christmas, will make it into rotation for years to come! And Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red has solid tracks…

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11 Questions for Thanksgiving

I came across Dr. Karen Horneffer-Gitner’s Huffington Post article, 20 Questions for Thanksgiving, last week and was instantly inspired to play along. In it, she shares how instead of asking the very cliché “What are you thankful for?” question in an effort to create meaningful dialog with her family on Thanksgiving (which usually prompted equally cliché answers) she’d ask more specific and challenging questions about gratitude to help develop an engaging conversation.

I absolutely loved this idea. Around Thanksgiving, I usually blog about what I’m grateful for in life, and it seems to sound pretty similar year-to-year: my health, loved ones, etc. Of course, these things are still of great importance to me that would make any gratitude list again and again. As I read through some of her questions, I thought I would take a different approach this year. I selected 11 out of her 20 questions (some of which I actually did have to spend quite a bit of time thinking about!) and answered them below.

This will be my last post for the week. If you’re anything like me, you plan to be as far away from the internet as possible for the next few days….and in front of a plate of food! Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll see you in December…


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11 Questions for Thanksgiving_ATG FINAL NOVEMBER 2014_part 3 (2)

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The L-Word

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Love is in the air today. And though that thing we call love shouldn’t come down to one day a year – I suppose it’s okay to give in a bit to the actuality that every February 14th it happens to be on steroids (and prix fixe dinner menus).

In fact, I can attest that it doesn’t come down to one day a year. As I look back over this week, small acts of love and kindness were all around in varying degrees, ranging from people closest to me to the newest of friends. Though it’s pretty clear Valentine’s Day salutes those in romantic relationships (with money to burn), perhaps it’s worth thinking about all forms of love on this day. This is quite appropriate if you think about it.

Before Valentine’s Day even made an appearance, I’d received a kind email from a new friend simply saying “hi” wishing me well,  just because flowers from my boyfriend, a thoughtful gift arrived in the mail, and later a colleague at work dropped off a single pink carnation (double floral score!) to share some cheer. Simply put, while I’m not saying it’s easy – the goal should be to find the Valentine’s Day in everyday, in all of its forms.The L-word is not a once a year kind of thing.

I talked recently about the many stages to the Valentine’s Day experience, and trust me, I’ve been through many of them myself. I won’t go into whether one should be a believer or not, why we place so much pressure on this day, or even play devil’s advocate and say perhaps we need this day as a gentle reminder to consider love (okay, I kinda just did); but whatever stage you find yourself at on this day it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.

As for me, tonight will be low-key, though I’m certain a piece of chocolate or two will be involved. We’re opting to hang out at home and marathon through season 2 of The Killing on Netflix to avoid all the crowds and annoying, over-priced fixed menus. Instead, our plan is to head out for brunch on Saturday morning. The idea being that perhaps since everyone ate out the night before, they’re likely too hung-over or broke to make the trek out for breakfast the next day – giving us access to the best table at one of L.A.’s hottest restaurants without the wait time. (I’m not that naive – but a girl can dream.)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

And if you happen to be on the team that’s of the non-believer-I-hate-this-holiday persuasion, hang in there…this will all be over in less than 18 hours. 🙂

What I’m Lovin’ Right Now | The V-Day Edition

As I think about it, there are several stages to the Valentine’s Day experience I believe many women go through. As a kid, you were forced encouraged to swap Valentine’s with your classmates, literally walking home with tons of cards and heart-shaped candy (along with the biggest sugar rush ever to your parent’s delight). In middle school, you sent candy grams to all your girlfriends, and they to you, as a mark of solidarity. In high school, somehow that all changed and you watched with disdain that only the popular girls somehow now got all the candy grams delivered right in the middle of English class. In college, you were just plain bummed to be single and/or annoyed by all the hoop-la so you holed up in your dorm room watching movies until this ridiculous excuse for a holiday was over. In your early twenties, Valentine’s Day became “Single’s Appreciation Day,” and you were as Destiny’s Child once said, an “Independent Woman” so you’d grab your single girlfriends and make your own rules (I don’t need no man!). And then one day, whatever day or age it may be, you meet your Valentine.

From there, it may revert back to the early twenties stage where you find yourself celebrating Single’s Appreciation Day again after a break-up; or perhaps after years in a relationship, it just becomes another day.

I think I’ve gone through almost (almost) every iteration of the typical women’s Valentine’s Day experience. This year, I happen to be on the team that has a Valentine and he’s always good about making it special.

While I’m aware, and in complete agreement with those that think, that love (and flowers, and chocolate, and kind words) should come more than once a year on a consumerist driven holiday, I couldn’t help but dedicate a little space to that thing we call love and all the hoop-la surrounding it.

Here’s what I’m lovin’ right now…the Valentine’s Day edition…

V-Day WILRN

  1. SAY | 30 Ways to Say “I Love You” | Huffington Post.
  2. BAKE | Skinny Pink Champagne Cupcakes  | The Skinny Fork.
  3. UNWIND | Jo Malone “Red Roses” Bath Oil | Nordstrom.
  4. WEAR | Pink Knot Front Dress | Victoria’s Secret.
  5. PAINT | Festive Valentine’s Day Mani.
  6. COOK | 15 Creative Dinner Ideas for Celebrating Valentine’s Day | All Yummy Recipes.
  7. CREATE | Personalized M&M’s | My M&M’s
  8. CRAFT | D.I.Y. Frosted Vase |  A Beautiful Mess.
  9. BRIGHTEN | Pure Color Cheek Rush in X-Pose Rose | Estee Lauder.
  10. SMEAR | The Kiss Lip Balm | Lush.
  11. BUY |  Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards | Sew Colorful Designs.
  12. WATCH | The Top Romantic Movies for Valentine’s Day | Better Homes and Gardens.

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