Ideas For Celebrating New Year’s Eve At Home

Haaaaappy New Year! Well, almost. The past two years I took it easy on New Year’s Eve. In 2015 I was actually at Katie’s house, alone, sitting on the couch watching a movie. All the cool kids (every single person) in the house went to sleep way before midnight! Last year, I hung out in Florida and found myself sitting around a patio table at midnight with a few close friends. It was intimate and amazing. I’ve also had my share of exhausting awesome nights. Two of my favorites were seeing Phish at Madison Square Garden and frolicking on a beautiful island in Thailand. I love it all, the quiet nights and the crazy ones.

This year, I’m attending a Vegas-style house party. Cute dresses, gambling with fake money, and a bit of boozin’. If it wasn’t for this party, I’m not sure exactly what I would be up to, but I’d definitely celebrate in the comfort of my own home. Here are a few unconventional New Year’s Eve ideas if you’re staying in this year. If you have another good suggestion, let me know.

Wine or beer tasting

Buy a couple bottles of different types of wine (Trader Joes has quality, inexpensive wine) or if you know what you fancy, maybe three bottles of the same type of wine. If you’re going the beer route, do a mixed six pack, again several types of beer or six of your favorite variety.

Set it up properly. If you’re drinking wine, allow each bottle to breathe for at least thirty minutes before the tasting. Set out an assortment of cheese, crackers, and some fruit. If you’re doing beer, cheese works, but you could also do some bar snacks or maybe soft pretzels. If you’re really in it to win it, take notes during the process. Document the look, feel, flavor, and your overall opinion of each drink that way you can better choose your fancy next time.

Pajama party

First, bring all the blankets and pillows out into the living room. Pile them on the carpet or on the couch and make the best little nest for yourself. Then shower and change into the coziest pajamas you own. If you have a robe, throw that over the jammies before slipping on fuzzy socks and slippers. Do you have dogs? Where are their pajamas? Put them on. Cue the music or your favorite movie and pj the day away!

Spa day

Everybody (dudes, I know you do too) has a drawer full of bath and body products that never get used. Today is the day. Pull them all out because this is basically a wine tasting, but with face masks.. for your skin.. not your taste buds. At the very least, your day should involve a lot of exfoliation, followed by layers of lotions and creams. If you’re on top of your game, a bath or at least a footbath and epsom salts should consume an hour of your day. Maybe your spa day includes making some of your own potions too. Here’s the recipe for our DIY bath bombs. Also, my dry skin cannot skip a day of Katie’s winter face oil.

Reading marathon

Vow to read a certain amount or maybe as much as possible in a single day. You switch back and forth between a few books to keep it interesting or throw in an article or maybe even a graphic novel, whatever you need to do to read, read, read. The little boy who read 100 books in a day originally inspired this idea. Thanks, Caleb!

Movie marathon

Are you illiterate? Watch some movies or a TV series instead. Apply a theme or pick your absolute favorites from 2017 or maybe your childhood? Can I recommend the movie Fargo and then the entire Fargo the TV series? Whatever you choose, try to do something to inspire the marathon instead of just binging on something random otherwise it will just seem like a day in front of the TV instead of a magical movie marathon, ya know? You could also be inspired by the marathon and dress up like a character or take on their persona for the day. Tell me you picked Cheech and Chong and now you’re stuck smoking weed all day? See how funky this movie marathon could be?!

Vision board

Have you ever created a vision board? I think of it like brainstorming for life instead of an essay prompt. Your vision board can be as complex or simplistic as you deem necessary, I think it’s best to really do it your way. Maybe you like to cut and paste or maybe you have fantastic journaling skills, that we’re all insanely jealous of. Whatever your chosen route, gather any necessary supplies, light a candle, and put on a soothing playlist. Now ask yourself the following questions and make sure you tell the truth when you answer.

Describe the life you envision. What gives you the most enjoyment? Who and what inspires you? What does your perfect day look like? Who do you love?  Set your life’s intention and create!

Declutter + Donate

Let it go, let it goooooo! Really though, just get rid of shit, you absolutely won’t miss it. My roommate and I leave a big cardboard box by the door and day by day we find things we can live without and place them in the box at the end of each week we drop it off at the Goodwill. The fewer things you have, the fewer things you need to organize and clean.

Gratitude List + thank you cards

Everyone loves mail. Everyone. Everyone. Every single person you know will be delighted to see an actual piece of mail in their box instead of a pile of junk. If you aren’t sure what to say, start with ‘thinking of you!’ and if it ends there, sweet, you just finished your first card. If you want to take it a step further, craft a few care packages.

No stamps?! Write out a gratitude list instead. It’s pretty straightforward, just jot down all the things you’re thankful for including big and small, human and inhuman, avocado and nonavocado. You can also be grateful for the absence of negative things in your life. For instance: I’m thankful there is no longer a travel ban on laptops and cameras and that I can fly through Doha without having to check my equipment at the gate. First world problems, ick.

FaceTime friends + family

I’m going to let you in on a revolutionary facetiming tactic. Set down the phone! Just have your partner prop you up somewhere and you do the same. Set your phone on a desk or windowsill or table and get on with your life. Maybe you’re cooking or crafting or watching a TV show, whatever it is, it’s much more fun together. I tend to become some combination of awkward, shy, nervous, and bored when I facetime so setting down the phone and doing something while I chat really relaxes things.

365 of something

sit-ups? push ups? sun salutations? a mantra? focused inhales + exhales? jumping jacks? pages of a book? things donated? wishes or intentions for the new year? ways to use coconut oil? things you’re grateful for? pieces of popcorn eaten? dollars earned? vacations planned? Okay, things are getting ridiculous, but now I’m off to make a list of 365 places I want to go.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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DIY Christmas Crafts

This post was originally published in 2015, we’re re-posting it again today to give you a few ideas to jump-start your holiday crafting.

Today we’re rounding up past Christmas crafts. While Sarah was busy ordering gifts yesterday, I was finishing up the decorating. I love to get everything up as soon as possible so that there’s plenty of time to enjoy it (plus, I need the decorating out of the way so that I have every extra moment left to think about gift shopping!). If you’re taking your time and in need of decorations, we put together a list of past DIY projects that we made, love, and were excited to put out again this year.

This list provides a range of projects from those that can be finished in 30 minutes to others that may take a few hours, and the skill-level required varies from the simple to the more complex. In addition to decorating your house, some of these projects like the felt and cinnamon ornaments make great gift tags. What we have here is a little bit of something for everyone.

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DIY Edible Gifts

Do you need a reminder that the holidays are right around the corner? We don’t! WE CAN’T WAIT. too much?

Today we’ve rounded up a few ideas that make perfect edible DIY gifts. There’s a range of options on this list, from nuts in solid and liquid form to citrus peels and marshmallow. Some take a bit more preparation than others (some are so easy you’ll have all of your teacher gifts done in an afternoon). But I may be a bit biased when I say that possibly the best gift on this list is the one that takes the longest to make.

And, as we all know, the best part about giving receiving an edible gift is that you don’t have to remember to put out that neon light up statue of Mt. Rushmore every time Aunt Peggy comes to visit. So get on with it.

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Spiced Mixed Nuts : a truly perfect blend of sweet and spicy. These are super easy to make with basic ingredients (think nuts, honey, cayenne pepper). Just make sure you share more than you eat!

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Hazelnut Liqueur : give this and you will be loved by all. Especially if you pass along a few key serving suggestions, such as mixing a shot into a cup of hot chocolate or a vanilla milkshake. BUT start making this one ASAP, because you need about three weeks of steeping time.

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Marshmallows! : There are so many perks to making your own marshmallows. You can personalize the color and flavor. Cut them out with cute cookie cutter shapes. Pair them with hot co for a real treat. And we aren’t kidding when we claim that these are easy to make.

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Candied Citrus Rinds : Again, another super easy treat. I added chocolate to these, but you can totally skip that. And as a bonus – we shared our orange marshmallows at the bottom of that post.

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Use this post as an excuse to get a jump start on the eating, drinking, and merriment! xo

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Glow-in-the-Dark Ghost Shirts

Ghost Shirts! With glow-in-the-dark paint! Need we say more? How about that they really glow!

ghost_shirts2_titleLast year we made bat shirts with freezer paper stencils and bleach. This year I wanted to do another shirt, and I was going to use bleach again, but then I saw this paint in Joann’s and thought it was worth a try.

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Wild Things (Max) Halloween Costume

We’re sharing a variety of quick and (relatively) easy Halloween costumes this season. See Sarah’s broken doll here and her crazy troll hair here. Today we’re sharing one for the kids, and if you like this, you may want to check out our strong man too!

I may be a bit biased, but I think we’ve found the cutest Max of them all!  Don’t know what I’m talking about? Pick up a copy of Where the Wild Things Are and get ready for a trip down memory lane.

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If you’re making this costume for a kid, they will get so much more enjoyment out of it if you’ve read the book together. Obvious, I know, but just a plug to get yourself to the library and enjoy an afternoon deep in the stacks with your wild ones.

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Halloween Costume Idea : Troll Dolls

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Happy Monday! You have about two weeks to throw together a costume if you’re partaking in Halloween this time around. Last week we shared the Broken Doll and the week before, Katie offered up a few toddler suggestions: a Disco Ball and a Strong Man. Today I’m back with another super simple, yet iconic costume: a Troll Doll. Again, you must forgive the crappy cell phone pics. One of these days I’ll document a costume properly…

I dressed up like a Troll in 2010. At that time it was a throwback, Troll dolls being hella popular in the nineties, but now that the Trolls movie was such a hit, I feel like everyone will be clued in. Even though only a few people guessed my costume correctly back then, when I told them what it was they immediately knew, flipped out, jumped up and down and most gave me a hug. The next question was always about the hair, which every single person then squeezed. Troll dolls man, nostalgia in one cute and slightly strange costume. Here’s how it’s done: live seasoned halloween trolli doll costume-1

Troll Doll Essentials :

Some things explained :

  1. The bellybutton gem : cut a large diamond or circle out of the iridescent paper. Cut the shape much larger than your actual bellybutton as you’ll want it to be clearly visible. Use fashion tape or double-sided tape and adhere it to your nude tanktop.
  2. How to achieve high hair : It’s actually really easy. Find an empty water bottle. Remove the cap. Bend over and flip your head upside down so your hair is hanging down. Place the bottle on top of your head and gently gather all the hair around it, wrap a ponytail around the top of the bottle and your hair. Hairspray it a bunch and then flip your head right side up. The bottle is so light that you’ll forget your hair is up and you’ll most certainly hit it off taxi roofs and other small spaces. If your hair is shorter, use a crap ton of gel without a water bottle to create a similar (and in my opinion more realistic as far as troll dolls go) effect.
  3. How to get great hair color : shake the color spray for at least thirty seconds. Hold the can a foot away from your hair. It’s best to have a friend help and to do this outdoors. Cover your hair evenly, wait 3-5 minutes and repeat as many times as necessary.

That’s that y’all. There’s really nothing to it. This costume is especially great for a whole gaggle of friends. Whatever you do, don’t forget to strike the Troll pose – arms out, fingers spread!

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Halloween Costume Idea : Broken Doll

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Happy Halloweenie! Each year I browse my closet, find a favorite dress, and work towards a costume from there. In the past, this has served me pretty well as Cleopatra and Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn. Last year it sparked the idea of a porcelain doll and to add a little creep factor, I went as a broken one. You could go a few different ways with this costume, cute, sexy, or creepy. I choose creepy 🙂 Forgive the photos, I never have my sh!t together I’m usually too drunk to take high-quality ones on Halloween night.

Porcelain Doll Essentials :

  • Porcelain doll inspired dress – look here for inspiration and then search your (or your sister’s and friend’s) closet or go thrifting.
  • Stockings or thigh highs
  • Mary Jane heels or really any shoes of your choosing
  • Long locks or a wig & wig cap – I highly recommend going to a beauty supply store and trying on wigs instead of buying one online. I spent about $25 on mine, take care to store it, and plan on using it again in the future.
  • Thin satin hair ribbons and matching choker – I simply tied a length of ribbon around my neck and it stayed put all night
  • Makeup – admittedly the hardest part for me! I enlisted the help of my makeup savvy girlfriend shown below.

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That’s that! Super simple with the potential to be incredibly creepy. A major bonus for this costume was not having to talk too much. I like to slip into my costume’s character, which usually means putting on some type of accent or alternate personality, but with the broken doll, I could just stare and blink at people without saying anything at all. Perfect!

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Halloween Costume Idea : Circus Strongman

Making the Strongman

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If you do a search for strongman costumes, you’ll find that there are plenty of ideas out there, so we’re just re-inventing the wheel here. Right now my big decisions are which outfit he should wear. I bought the red and navy blue leggings from Old Navy. Note that you have to look in the girls’ section of their site and store for leggings. The tank top onesies are from American Apparel. I used the sharpies to draw tattoos on the women’s stockings. As yet to be completed – his barbell is going to be made from the two styrofoam balls and a shortened segment of the dowel.

I ended up with the two outfits, because I wasn’t sure what I would find at each store, so I thought it was better to have options and I’ll return whatever doesn’t make the cut. I think we’re leaning towards the black stripes and red pants, what do you think? The next choice is whether we cut the pants or not – I think it’ll look good either way. We’ve had some unseasonably warm 70+ degree days here, so I may wait and see what kind of weather we’re dealing with the day of the parade.

As you can see, Alex wasn’t really up for a fashion shoot when we had him try this on. But it was definitely helpful – the stockings are too wide for his arms. On the one hand, this makes it reasonable to have him wear a shirt under the stockings if it’s cold and/or I could stuff them to give him some muscles. Although, I’m also thinking that it could be worth it to buy a pair of small stockings sized for little girls or babies…

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Altering the Strongman

I made the original set shown above out of a pair of women’s stockings, but they were pretty large, so the tattoos were super wrinkly unless I decided to stuff the arms and give him BIG muscles. I thought about stuffing them, but knew that our finicky guy might refuse that look, so I decided to go back to the store and pick up a pair of girl’s stockings.

After buying them, I immediately realized the second benefit – if I turned the stockings upside down, and cut a hole in the crotch area, I could slide the one piece over Alex’s head rather than cut off the stocking legs to create two sleeves (that I would then have to attach to the onesie in order to keep them up)! win. win. In addition to cutting the hole for his head, I cut off the tighter elastic material around the stocking’s waist area as well as cutting off the toe seams.

I then drew the tattoos (a heart, cloud with lightning, kite, mermaid, whale, sailboat, anchor, spiderweb, rose, stars, and a shell). I only drew the tattoos from his shoulder area down to about his wrist, this still left a bit of stocking length, and rather than cut it off, I folded it under the sleeves to create a double layer for added warmth. They were still a touch wide for his arms, but his cuteness totally distracted anyone from noticing ;-).

And speaking of cuteness, here we are on Friday night, just before going trick-or-treating at the most amazing/bizarre house (we only went to two houses, because that was more than enough for the little guy).

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Funny thing, I had just finished Alex’s barbell (two styrofoam balls and a wooden dowel spray painted black), so this is his first time holding it. As we were about to take the picture, we told him to hold his barbell in the air, and he surprised everyone by doing it!  So that’s us, surprise smiling/laughing as he performs on cue.

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After these photos, he was more than happy to walk down the street holding his barbell and lifting it up whenever prompted. What a little guy! And what a great Halloween.

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Halloween Costume Idea : Disco Ball

Happy October! We first posted this a few years ago, but if you need an idea for a little one, it’s not too early to start. Below is a baby Disco Ball and here is a Circus Strongman.

I feel like it’s been so long since I really dressed up for Halloween. For the past few years, we’ve sat around the house (waiting for those dozen or so trick-or-treaters to show) and would throw on something from my bag of old Halloween costume parts from years past. Witch’s hat, Eskimo, and giant pumpkin for the win! This year Calder said we had to get serious – “don’t get out your witch’s hat” may have been a direct order. Luckily, some serendipitous inspiration struck not once, but twice, last weekend.

Moment 1: It began with me ordering this baby jailbird costume out of desperation. Did you see those tattooed arms?! A few hours after placing the order, I remembered Oh Happy Day’s strongman costume from last year – so awesome, right? And perfect for Little A. If he’s a strongman, then I’m happy to partner up as the bearded lady. And now we have a pair of costumes for our town’s Halloween parade.

Moment 2: Calder was randomly telling me that he wanted to bring 70’s fashion back (no joke). Minutes later we wandered into vintage store and found the most amazing 70’s clothes! Calder walked out with a pair of plaid pants and three rayon shirts with extra large lapels. Me? I’m the proud new owner of a psychedelic jumpsuit. All we needed was a disco ball. Enter Alex. And now we have the family costume theme that we needed for a friend’s party next weekend!

Making the Disco Ball

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Little A is a mover, and we have a strong feeling that he’s not going to put up with having a costume with a lot of frills, bulk, or even a hat. So we have to keep everything simple and make sure that it’s still easy for him to move. What we wanted to do here was to make him a sequined shirt that he could still easily move in. We thought about stuffing it to give him more of a ball shape, but his big belly is round enough.

I’ve been holding onto a sequined dress since high school (thank you Christmas band concert), knowing that it would come in handy eventually. Our plan was to make a simple sequined shirt/vest for Alex to wear over a black shirt and pants. Originally I thought I would use black felt to make the shoulder straps and snaps for closures (shown in the materials photo above), but as it turns out, I didn’t need either!

 

The straps on the top of the dress, are almost perfectly spaced for little A’s shoulders. So, all I had to do was take in the sides slightly, and shorten the dress to the length we wanted. The one challenge to shortening it was that the long zipper. In the photo above on the right, I’m showing you where the zipper ends with my thumb and how short I want it with my finger.

The dress’ sides had been brought in once before (red thread above). I wanted to bring in the seams by another inch or so, and I was going to cut off the excess fabric so that it didn’t add bulk. The one challenge I faced was that the sequins seemed to eat up the thread, and I would end up with gaps without stitching. I was using a cotton thread, maybe there’s a better choice? I handled it by just sewing the same line a few times, and it worked well enough.

The next challenge was the zipper. I’m not a zipper expert, but I do know that these zippers with small-ish plastic teeth are easy to shorten. You begin by marking the point that you want to be the new bottom of the zipper. At that point you’ll sew a bar tack over the zipper’s teeth. To do this, set your machine on a zig-zag stitch that is just wider than the zipper’s teeth with the stitch length as short as it can go (so you’re sewing back and forth over the zipper at the same point). I began by testing the stitch without thread in the needle, manually moving the needle to test stitch widths and making sure that the zipper was perfectly centered so that I wouldn’t hit its teeth with the needle.

After the bar tack is sewn, I cut out the zipper’s extra teeth, keeping my scissors as close to the teeth as possible and leaving the zipper tape intact. To close the hole that was made by the missing zipper, I sewed the excess dress hem (that would have covered the zipper) to the zipper tape on the opposite side, closing that hole. You can see this line of stitching in the photo above on the right. At this point I had a segment of the dress that was the correct width and could be  cut to the right length for the little guy. So, it was time to try it on and get that final length measurement!

He was a willing model first thing in the morning – as long as I didn’t mind him running around with his dog named Cat. He was super excited when he figured out that Cat could ride the bike by sitting in the water bottle holder. With the fitting done, I cut the dress to the length we wanted and our disco ball costume was complete!

 

Here are a few more disco shots, crazy eyes and all!

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Saxis Souvenirs 2017

For the first couple of years that our beach house has been in the family, everyone got homemade t-shirts (first with a sailboat silhouette and then with a blue crab). So as not to overstuff our shirt drawers, we’ve steered away from t-shirts more recently. Last year the souvenirs were canvas bags and water bottles (with clams!).  This year we went with pint glasses for the adults and t-shirts for the kids!

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When thinking about what to put on the souvenirs, Sarah happened to mention that the dragonfly populations were out of control this year. That’s actually a good thing, because the dragonflies love to snack on mosquitos! To add some interest, I played with words and wrote “Where dragons fly.”

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