Beginning of the Year Rewind

Here we are, almost one month into 2019, and although it has been an exciting time, it has also been a bit of a blur.

During the first week of January, I decided to take some much-needed time to rest, relax, be present, and think back on the year. Although every year is filled with ups and downs, 2018 was truly amazing – from getting married, to building our first home, to traveling internationally, as an adult, for the third time. I now excitedly await all lessons, opportunities, and blessings that the year 2019 has in store for me.

At the end of 2018, I made a big decision to shift in a new direction professionally. I resigned from my full-time position and embraced the continuation of my professional journey. The past few weeks have been filled with interesting & engaging information, meetings with wonderful team members, partners, and colleagues, and new projects/concerns to research, strategize and plan for. I took a minute to pause, ask for – and claim – continuous guidance, and I felt myself *inhale* accept all of the newness and *exhale* let go of the circling, anxiety induced, thoughts.

Change can be exciting, fascinating, frightening, overwhelming, emotional…

When the shock wears off, you can walk away with your past roles tucked deep inside your mind, knowing that they have provided you with a great amount of knowledge, a great network of individuals, and a solid base as you continue to advance, research, strategize, administer, learn, lead, and move forward. Every decision that I have made has led me to where I am now, and I can only hope that I am headed to great places and spaces.

Here I am, walking down the path – created and written specifically for me – and confidently continuing my professional and life journey. I am looking forward to gaining new knowledge, pushing myself, and continuing to stack, not only cash, but skills and experience while evolving and advancing forward.

Now, to FINALLY revisit the holiday traditions that we enjoyed during our much-appreciated break at the end of 2018. Below I’ve shared some of my Christmas re-purposing projects, details on our annual December trip, and some of our New Year’s Eve traditions with you. Enjoy and continue to have a happy, ever-evolving, new-knowledge-grasping, fulfilling, and prosperous New Year!

Holiday Décor

I have fully enjoyed decorating our new home for the holidays, for the very first time, and for the first time as husband and wife! From garland, to mini pre-lit Christmas trees, to steel lit Christmas tree stocking holders. December is the time when we make our homes feel warm, embrace our family, and give back to others. Tis the season!

While deciding on this year’s holiday décor, I decided to add repurposing into the mix. Dismantling, breaking out the potato peeler, revisiting those boxes of gold mercury votives from our wedding, you name it.

Dollar Tree Garland

Two years ago, I purchased two plain strands of garland from the Dollar Tree. I picked out a few faux red berries, leaves, and pinecones from the craft store, dismantled them, and wrapped them into the garland. I then added two short strands of Dollar Tree Christmas lights, and hung the garland in our lofted apartment. This year, I decided to take the garland apart and use them in our home for the stair handrails that lead to the 2nd floor. I spiraled the plain garland down the handrail, added a string of fairy lights, and added the berries, leaves, and pinecones back into the garland. This added a pop of color to the stairway and provided nice lighting during the evening!

Re-Purposed Growler

We have a growler that we usually take with us to get filled when we go on vacation during the summers. Since the growler sits, unused, on top of our china cabinet, I decided to add fairy lights to the inside of the growler and hide the pack off to the side. There is officially no such thing as too many lights for the winter season.

Wedding Votives

When I first saw a picture of gold mercury glass votives, I knew that I had to have those for our wedding reception. They were subtle, classy, and the flicker of tealights added a little sparkle. Well now we have an excessive amount of votive candleholders, which to be honest, I’m not even mad at. Since our home has warm tones, gold fits in everywhere. I placed our string of pre-lit garland above the fireplace and arranged a few of the gold mercury glass votives in front. Since the lights bounced off the votives, there was no need to add any tealights inside. Win!

Floating Wedding Candles

I purchased several white and gold floating candles for our wedding ceremony, card table, and dinner tables. Unfortunately, when the boxes of glass vases arrived from the Dollar Tree, I realized that the floating candles were WAY too small for the vases. I packed them away, ordered hockey puck-sized floating candles online, and accepted the fact that the tiny floating candles equaled wasted cash. When I realized that I ran out of tealight candles, I revisited the small floating candles. They ALMOST fit into the candle holders, so I grabbed our potato peeler and shaved them down until they fit each holder.

Annual Chicago Christmas Trip

During the holidays, I like to finish our holiday shopping, present wrapping, and random to-do’s, a couple weeks before Christmas. Once everything is complete, we plan our annual trip to Chicago and enjoy cocktails, ice skating, and attend holiday events like the Christkindl Market.

We usually stay at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel downtown, but this year we switched it up and stayed at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel – a gorgeous hotel that was founded in 1890 and is filled with ornate furniture and décor.

Upon entering the hotel, the Fairgrounds coffeeshop sat off to the right, Shake Shack off to the left – which was completely packed at the time, and there was a steady stream of people leading to a room down a long hallway which housed a pop-up bar that was filled with Christmas lights and vintage Christmas décor. We walked up the marble staircase to the second floor, which is where the hotel front desk was located. The large, dimly lit room was filled with a scattering of guests, a variety of leather and hardwood chairs perfect for lounging, and beautiful bankers’ lamps that sat atop long dark tables. We checked in at the front desk and caught an elevator to our floor. The walls of the elevator were covered in hard wood flooring that reminded me of the gym flooring from my elementary school. Upon exiting the elevator, the long narrow hallways featured black doors, gold antique sconces, eggshell and gray walls with black trim, and small wooden plaques with beautiful font that noted each room number.  

Our room had a really great view of Millennium Park, cool lighting, and a bathroom covered in subway tile.

We walked about three blocks to the Christkindl Market and slowly shuffled our feet through the stream of people until we finally reached the same gluhwein stand that we visited last year.

Gluhwein = hot spiced wine

We scarfed down potato pancakes and sausages, grabbed more gluhwein (which comes in cute mugs that you can keep), and stuck to the tradition of finding a Christmas ornament – this year we left with three ornaments!

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed dinner at the Cherry Circle Room, which is part of the Chicago Athletic Association. Husband had the sturgeon dish with potato, pickled apple, ossetra caviar, and turnip velouté which was prepared onsite, and I enjoyed the cavatelli pasta dish with sea bean, fennel and pecorino cheese.

After dinner, on our way back to our hotel room, we stopped in the game room, grabbed a few drinks, listened to a local DJ absolutely kill it, changed, and visited the pop-up bar.

We made this a one-night, two-day trip rather than the whole weekend, so that we could get back home and rest before someone’s 30th birthday. There was brisket awaiting us at the local butcher, an apple pie to be made, and a candlelight church service that could not be missed!

New Year’s Eve Traditions

We make it an annual tradition to write down our intentions for the New Year with “I am” and “I will” statements, we burn them and dispose of the ashes, we then smudge with sage, and prepare to pop champagne at midnight. I also prepare collard greens, black eyed peas, and cornbread for New Year’s Eve late dinner/early New Year day – this year, we paired it with husband’s birthday brisket. Win!

Although Christmas has passed and the decorations have been put away, the winter weather is in full force here in the Midwest. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely still in Christmas mode. Luckily, I can enjoy my peppermint sage tea in front of the fireplace and light my last, seasonal, Goose Creek candle. Their Balsam Fir scented candle smells great and is not only perfect during the holidays, but also during the snowy, post-holiday, winter weather.