christmas eve then and now

I remember how, as a child, Christmas Eve felt like the longest day of the year. Too excited to sleep in even though there was no school, and too antsy to be useful before the festivities started. When I was young, I remember my father taking me to the mall on Christmas Eve morning. Not to buy anything, as the presents were all wrapped and under the tree, but simply to walk around and spend time together.

On Christmas Eve, after Mass and dinner, my parents would always let us open one present each, to tide us over until the morning. We would watch part of a Christmas movie, then set out milk and cookies for Santa, and try to go to sleep, even though we wanted to hear the sounds of reindeer on the roof.

The fact that we had no chimney stressed me out every year as a child.

I think that giddiness is one of the best parts of being a child, when the magic of Christmas is still overflowing.

Now as a grown-up who still holds on to preserving that magical Christmas feeling, I see how the holiday changes. Instead of being so giddy I don't know what to do with myself, I get up early to come to work for half a day, and worry that I'll have enough time to put on my nice dress and go to Christmas Eve mass with my family. From there, I worry if I'll have time to eat a bowl of gumbo before heading to the boyfriend's annual family party. I just tell myself there's no need to worry. Everything will go off smoothly, and if not, that's what the wine is for.

And I'm already a little wistful that Christmas is actually here. I love the weeks leading up to the holiday, where I listen to holiday music like a crazy person, and watch all the movies I can. What will I do next week!? I won't even imagine what it will be like with no Christmas tree in our living room.

Although shopping did manage to stress me out a little, I loved getting all my gifts in and wrapping them for display under the tree. I got some of that giddy feeling last night, as I sat on the couch watching Love, Actually with only the light from 400 cool white LED bulbs, and as I went to bed. That feeling of knowing everything you've been prepping for is about to happen. That excitement of seeing family and opening gifts. Knowing there was only one more sleep til Santa.

Yes, as an adult, Christmas is stressful and expensive. And we don't even have children, so we still have it pretty easy. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's all worth it. For the cheer in the air, for the comfort of being with family, for that extra magic that Christmas lights give to every house. 

The marathon is about to begin, and the weather has finally cooperated. It may have taken a deluge yesterday, but the colder weather is here, and we won't have to wear short sleeves on Christmas. I'll bide my time in the morning, and once I leave my desk, the fun begins.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas! Thank you for reading along this year! Y'all are the gift that keep on giving.

And don't forget to check your shitters...

how to be green during christmas week

It's almost Christmas go time! Are you ready? Code word is "Santa's got a brand new bag."

With three days until Christmas, chances are, you've finished your shopping and most of your wrapping. But there are still plenty of ways you can be green during this holiday week.


i'll have a green christmas

Holy baby Jesus, Christmas is in eight days. I am happy to report that I have made progress on my shopping, but there's still lots to do. Next year, I'm setting an early deadline for all loved ones to submit Christmas lists, or I pick for them. This traffic-on-December-16 is for the birds. I have tried to shop local as much as possible, and chosen a few eco-friendly companies online and it's been great!

I can also check Christmas cards off the holiday to-do list! This year I went with Paperless Post, and spent entirely too much time customizing my cards for family and friends. I love how it's a classier alternative to sending an e-card, but you can still go green and save paper.

But at least the tree has been decorated for over a week now. I love the collection of ornaments I've built over the past few years, and I've loved incorporating my boyfriend's ornaments to the mix. Our tree has some ornaments from our childhoods (a ceramic Santa with my name on it from when I was born and a napkin Santa he made in grade school), some ornaments from local stores (that awesome Aww Yeah! lasercut wood from Red Arrow), some using recycled material (a few wine corks I picked up at the Omelette Festival last year), and a bunch picked up from travels all over. Shoot. I probably should've gotten an ornament from Hawaii this summer. Maybe I can repurpose one of our magnets??

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is spending evenings in a room lit only by the Christmas tree. There's something so serenely magical about the glow of the tiny lights. And the faint, piney aroma of a fresh tree? Oh, hold me now.

Since I'm awesome and can't find our watering can, I came up with a great way to reuse a wine bottle - Christmas tree waterer! The long, narrow bottleneck fits under the tree into our large, Milo-proof tree stand. And hey! For you brave crafty fools, if you cut the bottom off the wine glass, you have a great upcycled Christmas tree watering funnel! Just place it neck-end into the tree stand and pour your water into the bottom. (I promise, I did not get the tree drunk. It was a CLEAN, DRY bottle.)

Milo has made himself right at home under my parents' tree.

Since I live in Louisiana and we can't have appropriate seasonal weather, it hasn't been perfect bonfire weather...but it doesn't stop us from lighting the backyard pit. We collect all the sticks from the yard and burn them instead of purchasing fire wood. Cleans the yard and saves us money!

Another newer holiday tradition is the Christmas light bike ride. I can't help but decorate my bike basket with battery-operated LED lights before we set off on a ride through neighborhoods filled with houses covered in Christmas lights. It seems as if not as many people decorate their houses anymore, but it's worth riding around just to see the houses that are lit up.

And when all else may fail, I've got my overly large collection of Christmas movies and music to see me through. Walk by my cubicle at just about any given moment this month, and you'll hear one Christmas jam or another. Because I love you so, I made an early Christmas present for you, in the form of a Holiday Spotify mix! I edited down my 300-song mix (not kidding) to a delightful 20-song selection. Put a few extra marshmallows in your hot chocolate, light the fire on YouTube, press play and snuggle up with your loved ones!
Relax while you can, because you've probably still got some wrapping to do. Or if you're me, ALL the wrapping to do. I better get crackin' on putting some gifts under our tree. It's probably a good thing I got a new job earlier this year, because at this rate, Santa NEVER would have hired me to work in his workshop. At least I've still got plenty of recyclable wrapping paper, and new festive paper tape from Red Arrow to use!

How have you gone green so far this holiday season?

shopping guide: parc lafayette

Christmas is officially less than two weeks away. Are you finished with your shopping yet? Typically, I am about 75% done with shopping and 40% done with wrapping by this point...buuuuuuut not this year. Oof. I'd say I'm about 3% done with shopping and -30% done with wrapping. (On the other hand, I'm 100% immersed in decorations, holiday music and unhealthy treats left in the copy room at work.)

So, there's gonna be some trips to local shops coming up this weekend and next week, and I'll catch up just in time for some fa la la la la and some family gatherings.

If you've also still got some shopping to do, then let this week's shopping guide point you in the right direction! Parc Lafayette is located just outside River Ranch and is on the higher end of shopping centers in Lafayette. I don't frequent many of the stores in the center, but it is home to some of my favorite local businesses.
E's Kitchen features all kinds of fun kitchen gadgets, and who doesn't love a fun kitchen gadget!? They've also got bamboo cutting boards and kitchen towels made of bamboo (super soft). Sky Blue Clothing Studio is a great boutique with tons of vintage and new clothing and jewelry. They also have very cute burlap shopping bags. And for when you need a snack break, or you know someone with a huge sweet spot, check out Indulge. The desserts are killer and there are tons of custom gift ideas.

Parc Lafayette also has jewelry, home furnishings, lingerie, children's clothing and pampering, so you can check off gifts for all the different people on your list!


small space, big impact

There may not be a lot to love about apartment living, but it does have perks! It's possible to be eco-friendly in a temporary space.

Before moving into a house earlier this year, I spent almost five years living in apartments, both with a roommate and by myself. I found it pretty easy to be efficient and eco-conscious.

Check out a tour of my former living room and all its green qualities!

How can you go green in your own rental space?

Switch out light bulbs with energy efficient CFLs or LEDs. Chances are, your apartment's lighting will come with incandescent bulbs - a drain on utilities and your wallet. Invest in enough energy efficient light bulbs for all your fixtures and switch them out - but keep the old ones stored away. When you later move out, you can switch them back (unless you want to pay it forward for the next renter!) And use energy efficient bulbs in your own lighting.

Conserve energy by adjusting your thermostat. Stay conservative with your heating and cooling so your unit doesn't run as often, and you'll notice a big savings on your utility bill. Even adjusting a couple degrees makes a difference, so you don't have to be uncomfortable. Most apartments are probably a bit better off than homes, if there's only one wall that has windows. How low can you get your utility bill?? I think one of my lowest was $23!

Invest in thermal curtains. You can always take curtains with you, and thermal curtains will always be beneficial, no matter where you live. They make such a difference on heat from the sun coming in through windows, and they help block out light, whether from the sun or those parking lot lights.

Maintain a container garden. Small pots with herbs or vegetables fit well on small patios, provide what you need and make your outside space look way better than your neighbor's.

Be water smart. Run the dishwasher only when it's full. Don't leave the faucet running while you hand wash dishes or brush your teeth. Take efficient showers or baths. Whether you've got your own washer and dryer or you use the complex's facilities, wash full loads in cold water and dry when it's not peak energy hours (especially during the summer).

Pick up secondhand furnishings. You can find great used furniture or decorations online or at local shops, for much cheaper than buying new. Use them while you're renting, and sell or donate when you move to a house if you don't want to take them with you.

Use green cleaners. From brands like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyer's to homemade cleaners, you'll avoid harsh chemicals, which is especially great if you have children or pets in your apartment.

Get a recycling bin. Not all apartments have their own recycling service, but you can still collect your recyclables. It may take more dedication if you have to drive your collection somewhere to drop off, but it's worth it. I'll be doing a post in January that focuses on recycling at Lafayette apartment complexes!

So you may not be able to install solar panels or boost your home's insulation, but there are many ways you can go green in your temporary home!

six month countdown

Six months from today, I turn 30. I've never been big on making bucket lists but I figure I should make these last six months of my twenties count for something.

Buy a new car. I've been driving the same car since my senior year of high school. While it's pretty eco-friendly to keep what you have, and the car is fuel efficient, I need an upgrade. I've had my eye on a hybrid for a few years, so I've got six months to make one mine.

Travel somewhere new. Where? I have no idea. My boyfriend and I regularly dream of places we want to see, from the attainable to the LOL Yeah Right.

Clean out, donate and start fresh. Especially after moving in with my boyfriend, I've got a ton of stuff I just don't need any more. I would love to kick off my thirties with a more minimalistic approach and send my old things off to new homes. 

Learn how to sew better. I can fix a hem or minor holes, but it's probably time I learn how to do those better and do a few more complicated things. Bonus challenge, learn how to use a sewing machine, and maybe even invest in one.

As I think of more items for my #Countdownto30 bucket list, I will update this. Here's to holding myself accountable for making things happen!

shopping guide: oil center

Continuing with the Friday local shopping guide, today we're going to the Oil Center!

Not coincidentally, tonight is the Oil Center's annual Festival of Light, where Santa and his sleigh are lit up for the season and many of the shops stay open later. There's also a train ride, live music, pictures with Santa and a large gingerbread house. (Just ignore the fact that the low tonight will be 63!)

Most of the shops in the Oil Center are locally owned, and they offer a huge variety of items, from running gear to interior gifts to flowers to kitchen gadgets to vintage kitsch, and tons more.

There's also a grocery store and lots of restaurants to keep you full for your shopping trip.

Bring your cloth bags and enjoy a morning or afternoon walking around checking out the different shops.

Food for Families food drive

Every year, FoodNet, the Greater Acadiana Food Bank, hosts the Food for Families food drive. And this year, it coincides with Giving perfect is that!?

While a lot of my focus on a green lifestyle talks about having less stuff and less waste and making do with what you have, some people don't have anything, including food for their families. The holidays can be especially hard for families in need, but the need lasts all year long. By helping FoodNet replenish their stock, we can all ensure that families get the food they need to live.

Get more information on the Food for Families drive - click through!


Giving Tuesday, giving meaning to the holiday season

Finished with your Christmas shopping, after hitting those Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sales? Yeah, me neither.

But what I AM ready for is Giving Tuesday, a day focused on giving back.

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