I've thoroughly enjoyed 2016. There have been moments of sadness and uncertainty, for sure, but as a whole, it's been a great year for me. I know that's not the case for everyone, and it seems like all of social media can't wait for 2016 to be over, but I'm happy with the speed at which it passed. Somewhere along the way I started to slow down, mentally, and enjoy each season more thoughtfully.
I plan to keep that up in 2017, but before we get there, I'm taking some time to re-review these past 12 months. There were so many favorite elements that I had to break the post into two parts. Below are all my most loved foodie and lifestyle tidbits.
I have an innocently legitimate fascination with taking a peek into other people's lives. Chances are, if you're into reading blogs or watching lifestyle videos, you feel the same way. I love a good what's in my handbag post or video, and I'll click on a home tour link faster than I'll click the top news stories. However, there's one trendy post I tend to roll my eyes at, and that's the morning routine. Every morning routine in the blogosphere or YouTube world is so ridiculously unrealistic for your average twenty/thirty-something. And honorable mention goes to the "running late" routines where they still make time to highlight and contour their face.
So, instead of complaining, I'm making my own post, where I'll share what a realistic, working-woman morning routine looks like. I'm not knocking all the entrepreneurs out there, but let's be real: working for yourself and creating your own fluid schedule is not a reality for the majority of the people consuming this kind of content. It may be a goal later on down the line (*raises hand*), but it's probably not the reality. Having an employer and a somewhat consistent time to be at work is the reality, and there's nothing wrong with that either. Personally, I think our generation would do better by embracing this idea.
For me, every morning isn't always the same, but here are the main ways it could go down in the Active Spirit house.
Also, in the spirit of keeping it real, I must admit the stock photo above is not an accurate representation of my bedspread. In a perfect world, white linen would stay pristine-clean, wash after wash, but in my world, the brightness fades easily, and it just starts to look... dingy. (We've opted for dark grey linen with just a white duvet instead)
C'mon now. You know what it is. We're a few days away from the start of a new year, so of course it's time to post about some goals.
I only had three goals (or resolutions, or intentions, whatever you want to call them) for 2016, and I accomplished two of them: move , and master my DSLR . My DSLR is bigger, and clunkier than my phone, so I don't use it as much as I probably should, but I have learned all the settings and know how to use all the features.
The vacation  didn't happen, mainly because we re-purposed our budget to buy a house (and later, a new roof for the house), and I didn't plan for down payments and vacations. It was a trade off, and putting money toward owning a home turned out to be more important for us than putting money toward vacations this year. Next year will (hopefully) be different.
Honestly, I want 2017 to simply be about enjoying life, and all the changes that may or may not come (no, I'm not pregnant, and no, that's not part of the plan for 2017). I want to attend more concerts, take more day trips, have picnics in parks, re-read some of my favorite books, have lots of girls nights, have more friends and family over for dinner, and start writing for fun more often. I've accomplished so much more than what I set out to achieve at the beginning of this year, both personally and professionally, and that just showed me how sometimes the plans I make for myself pail in comparison to the bigger picture for my life.
day 27 (selfie brought to you by my mom, who randomly texted "Disa, send me a selfie" as I was leaving work today) (k, mom???)
Well, well, well... look who it is, showing up to her 'blog every day in December challenge' two days late and many dollars short. I have no excuse. I had the whole day off yesterday, and instead of feeding my creative tendencies with a bit of reading or writing, I binge-watched all of The OA on Netflix, while writing down all upcoming plans in the handy dandy planner I picked up from Barnes & Noble. The OA, by the way, will not be making it to my next Netflix Titles that Pleasantly Surprise list. It sucked me all the way into its vortex of a plot, but I got off the couch after the final episode and concluded the past 8 hours of my day could've been better spent, and a good binge fest should never have you feeling that way. A good binge-fest must leave you feeling fulfilled.
Christmas Eve is here! I must admit, this is the first Christmas as an adult where I've been fully in the holiday spirit. It's the first time I've had a tree; it's the first time I've bought more than a couple gifts; it's the first time I've had a bundle wrapped and ready to go well ahead of time, and it's the first time I've been down to watch all the cheesy holiday movies.
I'm realizing that it's a choice to do all these things, and they take actual effort, but as I've done them, those festive warm & fuzzies just kinda took over! Christmas is obviously so much different when we're kids. As a child, it's all about Christmas morning. That's the climax, and everything builds in anticipation to that moment. But as adults, I think the emphasis becomes more on the season as a whole. There's really no climax to look forward to, so it's easy to just bah humthug it out until New Year's Day.
I'll be doing a social media cleanse soon, and I thought now would be a good time to rant about my thoughts on social media, only now I don't feel like arranging those thoughts into a well-organized post.
I've been on a Christmas movie kick, fittingly, the past couple weeks. I've watch old favorites (Home Alone, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street), and newer ones that I've come to enjoy (Alfie, This Christmas). I also bit the bullet and finally watched Love Actually and The Nightmare Before Christmas, both of which I had never seen before. I'll admit, I almost fell asleep watching Nightmare; it just wasn't my cup of cocoa. On the other hand, I rather enjoyed Love Actually, and I get why it's a favorite for so many. (Any Christmas movie that concludes with an elementary school Christmas presentation will always win me over.)
Random holiday movies are now, fittingly, popping up in my Netflix "recommended" queue. I'm always down to give those a try, especially on a cold and rainy Saturday morning, and so, I have. Most of them have been a miss, but there were a few hits.
This day was supposed to be reserved for an evening-time Christmas party, but it was cold and rainy, so we opted for brunch after church and decided to have another cozy evening at home instead. Our brunch place of choice was Illegal Food.
I had been wanting to try their food since their days holding down the kitchen at Joystick of Edgewood. When I finally got a chance to check it out, Illegal Food had already ended their residency, and a hot dog vendor took their place. (no thanks)
So I found their listing on Yelp, bookmarked it, and made a mental note. This would probably be the last brunch of the year, so I was determined to squeeze it in.
It's safe to say I'm part of the reason why the Mandarin Orange Chicken is Trader Joes of East Cobb's best seller. The sad part is, we don't even live in East Cobb. I ride out that way mainly for Trader Joes. There are 3 within a 15 mile radius from our house, but I always go to this one because the sales tax is 2% less in Cobb County.
All Christmas gifts are officially wrapped and under the tree!
This is the first Christmas I won't be scrambling for last-minute finds with all the crazed holiday shoppers, and it may or may not be thanks to my first real Christmas tree. I was motivated to get everything bought, ordered, and wrapped as soon as possible. Because Christmas trees look so much better with loads of presents beneath them.
I've missed a couple days of posting, and it was on purpose. I sat down with my computer the past couple nights and had absolutely no photos or words to recap the day. They've been pretty... basic. Wake, work, home, walk dog, chill - with some foodie moments in between (none worth documenting. I mean, do I really need to post another photo of tacos?). The only thing I have to show is this snap of the dog hovering at the bathroom door while I wash my face for the evening.
I just looked through my photos to see what I could posts for day 12, and of course, there are tacos. How fitting.
Yesterday evening I was too lazy to pack my lunch for the day, and I never wake in enough time to pack it the same day (see previous post about my snooze button addiction), so if it doesn't get packed the night before, I'll be spending extra money on lunch, which I hate. I always regret not packing my lunch the night before. So today, to fill the regretful void, J and I made a lunch date out of it at Taco T. I first blogged about this place over two years ago, and it's still my favorite taco spot ever. It never disappoints, and it made up for the unsatisfyingly mediocre Mexican food we had last week.
days 9 and 10 (I always spell my name out for the Starbucks barista's, but they still usually mix up that first letter...)
There was a time when I'd wake up on Saturday mornings and lounge around until plans were haphazardly made. I miss those days. Now my Saturday mornings are all about cleaning, grocery shopping before the crowds appear, stopping by the bank, et cetera, et cetera. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel good to knock out all those responsibilities. It feels pretty swell if I may say so.
I have absolutely nothing to show for the past couple days, so here's a random snap from the past couple weeks. I'm sure the next time I take a photo of this part of the living room it will look completely different. Hopefully.
What can I say about Monday & Tuesday besides work, eat, sleep, repeat? I've been working on a freelance project in the evenings, and for the first time in a long while, I've had a super hard time meeting my deadline.
It's December, and the cold rainy weather finally decided to make its way to Atlanta. I spent the morning/early afternoon wrapping gifts at church, and the later afternoon/evening curled up inside. I had more things to do, but my motivation waned as the day progressed. I blame the weather and the curse, among other things.
I'm just gonna go ahead and sneak this post in here like I didn't already miss a day of posting...
Saturday was grocery day, wait in line at Bath & Body Works for 30+ minutes for candle sales day, have lunch at a cute Pho place with Mom day, walk around and see fun Christmas tree day, and contemplate buying a gingerbread cafe day.
^^ My festive pride & glory, all lit up, sans ornaments. We've decided to start a thoughtful ornament collection that can grow, organically over the years. We'll just pick up individual ornaments that strike our fancy whenever we're out and about. That way each ornament can really mean something.
If you look straight ahead, you'll notice the creepiest children's mainstay around the Christmas season: the Elf on a Shelf! This is a throwback photo from my days as a part time nanny; I've seen more elves on shelves than I'd care to remember, but in the spirit of all things festive, I thought I'd throw it back on this fine Thursday.
I'm thinking of trying a "Blog Every Day in December" type challenge - a Blogmas if you will. But I don't like that name, so I'm just numbering the days instead.