“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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*Image sourced from Pinterest.

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Highlights

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree ATG FINAL 3{My little ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree courtesy of my boyfriend. It makes me smile.}

Quite honestly, I don’t really have much more to say other than…

HAPPY 1st DAY OF VACATION TO ME!

I’ll leave it at that…and perhaps mention that I think I’ll take myself to a matinee to see Wild today, that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and here are a few other highlights from the week.

Have a nice weekend! x

Love Actually ATG FINAL 2

{It’s not officially Christmas-feeling until I’ve watched Love Actually. Done!}

Mixtape Stocking Stuffer ATG FINAL

{Putting together a little stocking stuffer for a friend.}

Christmas Cards ATG FINAL

{People don’t get enough handwritten notes in the mail. I decided to send Christmas cards this year.}

Substantial Coffee Quote ATG FINAL

{Stopping in for coffee at Zeli’s in Pasadena. If I ever needed an excuse to keep that coffee addiction alive…}

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Highlights

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I don’t know about you, but right around this time is the beginning of what I think of as “end of the year burn-out.” It’s around the time where you might start to mentally check-out in certain areas of your life. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the year is winding down, the holidays are gearing up, and people are just ready for a proper breather after 11 months of whatever life happened to throw at them. I’m grateful to be in a position where work pretty much shuts down for the holidays and since I’m not really one to take vacations or extended amounts of time off through-out the year, I tend to wait until the holiday break to tack on some additional vacation days to make it a lengthy one to really decompress.

And the great news is that I’m 4 DAYS away from 3 WEEKS of holiday vacation bliss!

Oh, the fun it will be. After a little road trip and a change of scenery to spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s awesome family (Hi Marilyn!) for a few days in Santa Cruz, it’ll turn into a much-needed LA staycation. I can already see myself sleeping in, making blueberry pancakes for breakfast on a random Tuesday morning, reading books, getting through my never-ending Netflix queue, taking naps (just because), and going to the gym or taking a dance class anytime I feel like it (which I hope will be at least one…or twice). I also foresee a lazy afternoon roaming around a museum to check out a new exhibit and spending a late morning in my favorite cafe working on my blog over french toast.

I’m also desperate to spend some uninterrupted time thinking about how I hope 2015 will shape-up. I realize the trap with New Year’s resolutions, but I can’t help but be excited by the whole “fresh start” aspect when a new year arrives. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s still lots to wrap up before my 3 week break from life (as I’m calling it), but I’ll keep my eyes on the prize.

As I think back over this week, I have to say, it was a good one. A chilly Tuesday night found me at an advanced screening of Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five (a great laugh, but you can wait for Netflix if money is tight) and an even chillier Wednesday night at book club to discuss our December read, Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher (which you can skip). Is it okay to mention that the grilled cheese on sourdough that I ate over our discussion was probably the biggest highlight of the week? Man, sometimes a gal just needs a grilled cheese sandwich to get by. How did I forget this basic staple when needing a little pick me up?

A huge tropical storm is paying LA a visit as you read this, but should clear up on Saturday just in time for the remainder of the weekend. Given that mine broke up with me (for lack of use I’m sure), this would probably be a good time to buy a new umbrella. We might actually have a rainy winter ahead. It’s rained twice already this month…must be a record.

Naturally, the one Friday night I have plans, clear across town no-less, it’s raining cats and dogs, but should be fun. I’m headed to a holiday dinner party with my boyfriend tonight hoping to find similar ecstasy like that grilled cheese, but haven’t a clue what’s for dinner. Otherwise, the weekend will find me uncharacteristically anxious to get through it and then past the next 4 working days….so I can take a break from life. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend! And stay dry. x

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 Image credit: “Christmas Lights at Night” by Thomas Quine used under CC BY.

What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

As we make our way toward the climax of the holidays, I find myself drawn to find small and simple ways to incorporate the magic of the season: festive manicures, cozy scarves, and frequent sips of a warm beverage. It should be no surprise then, that I was more than thrilled to find inspiration on how to spice up all three of these areas, in particular. Below you’ll find a unique take on the classic french tip with a red and silver holiday twist; the perfect scarf to guide you through the colder months ahead; and my personal favorite, taking the epitome of the cozy weather beverage and adding a little something to take it to a whole new level. These goodies, along with a few others are making me smile big at the moment. Here’s…

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 1. The best holiday mani inspiration I’ve seen so far. | Red and Silver French Tip Nails
2. A rustic approach to showcasing those jewels. | Jewelry Organizer
3.  Pretty in pink, year-round. | Tom Ford’s “Flamingo” Lipstick
4.  A unique and oh-so-chic way to keep those books upright.|  DwellStudio Gazelle Bookends
5. A quick approach to up the ante on bad hair days. | Runway Ready Low Ponytail
6. Fashionably bundled. | Holiday Plaid Scarf
7.  A hearty meal inside, during a chilly night outside. | Slow-Cooker Classic Beef Stew
8. Dressing up the windows to the soul with a flourish. | Bolded Eyes with Sparkle
9. Coffee to-go and in-style. | Pike Place Tumbler
10. A classic beverage made even better. | Lavender Hot Chocolate

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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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5 Reasons This Week Will Rock!

5 Reasons November 2014 _ ATG FINAL

1. | A Honey Baked Ham is on the way…

Naturally, we have to turn our attention to the important part of this week and that’s the amount of food that will be consumed. Without question, I always, always, always get excited for our new Thanksgiving tradition of indulging in the best ham EVER from the Honey Baked Ham Store. We add a few of the necessary sides that we order from Bristol Farms: mashed potatoes, candied yams, honey glazed carrots, and their green bean almondine; bake a pie; and sit back and eat…and eat…and eat. The caveat is that we tend to burn-out on ham because we eat it for breakfast and dinner the next 3 days after Thanksgiving as leftovers. By the following Monday, I’m usually so sick of ham I can’t stand it…until the following year comes and I’m excited all over again. Hooray for ham! (image via.)

2. | A short work week…

It’ll be a relatively quick and quiet work week ahead. This is in large part because a lot of people are taking the entire week off. I’m opting to work through Wednesday and save the vacation days to take a longer Christmas vacation in late December through early January instead (for a much-needed and restful 3 week break!). I have 3 big things I want to get crossed off my to-do list on the work front and then I’m ready to leave it all behind in favor of food, a good book, and finally correcting the error upon learning that my boyfriend hasn’t seen all the Rocky movies, which happen to be streaming on Netflix (minus the last one, which we’ll borrow a copy of) and make it a Rocky movie marathon this holiday weekend.

3. | Snow in LA…

It’s no secret that it doesn’t quite feel like the holidays to me until I make a stop at the best place in LA to get in the spirit, The Grove! (Yes, you read that right). I’ve written before about why The Grove makes me happy around this time of year, so I won’t go into it again. I will say that it’s become a bit a tradition after Thanksgiving to stop at The Grove over the holiday weekend to see the 100-foot REAL Christmas tree, the lights, the music, the people, and Santa’s “mansion,” because there’s no place in LA that does it better when it comes to channeling the magic of the season. I’m willing to overlook the usually way too crowded venue, grab a hot chocolate with my guy and walk around to take it all in, just before they drop the faux snow at 7:00pm. (Hey – it’s LA and the only way we’ll ever get to channel our version of a “White Christmas.”) It makes me smile just thinking about it.

4.| Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

That aforementioned good book that I hope to lose myself in is Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. It’s my next book club read that the gals selected for December and I’m excited for it. I don’t know much about it to give you a thumbs up or down since I plan to start it this week, but I’ve have heard that it’s a great saga set during the Christmas season and a wonderful way to compliment to the holidays if you’re looking for something heartwarming and charming.  (image via.)

5.| The Holidays are here…

I like to think that the holiday season officially kicks-off the day after Thanksgiving (though every store I’ve been in somehow got the memo that Halloween was an appropriate time to start shelling Christmas stuff at you). I love the idea that just a few short days from now, it’ll be time to pull out the Christmas music, make lots of cocoa, and go about the business of celebrating.  So I won’t wish you  a “Happy holidays” quite yet, but go ahead and make it a point to save my well wishes for first thing Friday morning. Happy Holidays to you (on Friday)!

I hope you find 5 reasons this week will rock for you, too. They’re there, I promise. Have a lovely week ahead! x

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Talk About Scary!

Happy Halloween ATG FINAL 3


Happy Halloween, One and All!

The last day of the week, of the month, and of the rest of 2014, as we know it, is here. The countdown to the end of the year starts now, and that’s because from here on out, it’s just one thing after another. Go-go-go, celebrate-celebrate-celebrate season is here. I’m excited! Yet, it’s a bit overwhelming to realize that I distinctly remember what I was doing a year ago on this exact day. As cliché as this saying has become: “time flies!” And this is certainly the case from now until just after the new year if you ask me. Talk about scary!

That aforementioned cliché expression comes with some of my favorites things to do that seemingly pile up into the last two months of the year: the AFI Film Festival, my boyfriend’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas (which comes with a much-needed and very welcome record 20-day holiday break this year – yay!), New Year’s, then an anniversary with said boyfriend. Not to mention that FINALLY the better caliber and more Oscar-worthy films flood the market.

(Why the industry waits until the end/most expensive time of year to further suck money that you already don’t have to see the good stuff, I’ll never understand.)

Needless to say, I can’t wait for the festivities ahead, but no need to rush. Time will get us there…whether we like it or not.

So, let’s focus on the situation at hand.

I’m looking forward to another low-key Halloween this year. I don’t get Trick-or-Treaters….and this is beyond a-okay with me. (That means more candy for me!) Tonight, as of writing time, the plan is dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, followed by a scary movie marathon at home. However, this is totally dependent upon how Google Maps looks later this evening. I’m quite concerned about how much more congested my beloved LA streets will be as the sun sets. Seeing as how it’s not only Halloween, but Friday night, I don’t anticipate that I’ll get very far in my car, which isn’t how I’d like to spend my Halloween. Therefore, this plan might quickly change to ordering pizza over a scary movie marathon. Whatever plan we go with, sounds perfect to me.

Whether tonight finds you decked out at a party, home with someone special, or in bed early because you hate Halloween, have a great time!

Take a deep breath, the seasonal craze is upon us. Talk about scary!

Have a lovely weekend…

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Image source:
Happy Halloween Theme” by Ariom P, used under CC BY / Modification: text added to original.