Currently – The December Edition

from New Darlings

Happy December!  I am so ready for a break from work, a bunch of festivities, and a new year.  Well, kind of.  I’m still not done with my Christmas shopping and I’ve got stuff to wrap up for work before my end-of-the-year vacation, but I am definitely in the Christmas mood!

Lately I’m …

Eating:  I’ve been trying to get better about actual meal planning — unless I pick out real recipes and figure out what foods make sense for what day of the week, I will end up eating a giant salad every night.  That’s just something I’ve learned about myself.  (I’ve also learned that meal prep isn’t really my thing.  Planning is one thing, but prep is a usually a no.  Unless I’m doing a Whole30.  During Whole30s, both meal planning and prep are a must.)  In the past month I’ve tried and liked these Korean Beef Meal Prep Bowls (one recipe made enough for yummy leftovers!) and these Halloumi Burrito Bowls.  They’re both fun and different, but not too tricky to make night-of-consumption.

Reading:  The latest pick for my book club is The Handmaid’s Tale.  I know everyone else seems to have read it in high school, but I didn’t.  I also haven’t seen the show, so I went in with zero knowledge or expectations.  All I’ve got to say is “woah”.  It’s heavy and thought-provoking, and I can’t wait to talk about it.  Also, my mom sent me this article about the power of taking tiny steps and my dad shared this article about productivity without burnout (I especially like the suggestion of choosing your own success metric).  And I love the idea of creating a list of go-to feel-better ideas.

Hearing:  Last week, my sister sent me the “Single Ladies” episode of the “Role Overload” series that the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast has been cranking out recently.  I am all about that conversation — ownership of your time is important, whether you’re a single lady or not!  Oh, and Christmas music too, of course!

Planning:  My January 2018 Whole30!  My parents, my sister, and I are going to kick off the year with a month of no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, and no carrageenan/MSG/sulfites.  This will be my third full attempt and I’m nervous, but excited.  I’ll definitely be reviewing my previous Whole30 notes in preparation.

Watching:  Obviously, season two of The Crown is on my watch list.  My boyfriend and I also just started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  Rachel Brosnahan is so good!

What are you loving lately?

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Snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW!

The weather this past weekend was so fun!  At some point early last week, “wintry mix” popped up on our 5 day weather forecast.  The “wintry mix” predicted for Friday became “snow”, but all of our local meteorologists said there was no need to freak out, no need to buy all the bread and milk in the stores, no need to plan for disaster — the snow would fall, not stick, and be gone as the day progressed.

I woke up Friday morning, not surprised but a little disappointed, to find nothing.  But by 9 AM it was coming down and it stuck!  It snowed off and on for all of Friday and I could not get enough.  And with the exception of some major traffic when everyone left work at the same time to get home early, Atlanta handled it pretty well.

On Saturday morning, I woke up and it was still snowing.  It was beautiful and, I kid you not, I sat in bed for about 40 minutes just watching it fall.  Eventually I decided to brave the elements, so my boyfriend and I bundled up and headed to Piedmont Park.  It was cold and I felt like the Michelin Man in all my layers, but I’m so glad we went out to see it.  The park was full of little families exploring the snow, and lots of dogs who were as excited about the snow as I was.

Like a winter wonderland, isn’t it?  I really was not expecting any kind of remotely snowy weather this season, so it was a sweet surprise.

And yes, this post’s title is a White Christmas reference.  No, I haven’t watched it yet this season.  But I will very soon and you should too.

A Visit to Big Nick’s Tree Lot

If you follow along on Instagram you know that last weekend, my sister and I got together for an all-day, festive, Christmas-y sister date.  We typically get together for walks on Saturday morning, so we decided to just expand our tradition to include a couple things around town.

We kicked off the day with the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas parade — it was so much fun and a much bigger deal than I expected.  There were so many high school marching bands playing Christmas songs, there were huge balloons, and there were llamas dressed in Christmas-themed outfits!

After the parade, we walked through Piedmont Park and along the Atlanta Beltline to Ponce City Market.  We went in search of Big Nick’s Tree Lot, a King of Pops and Tree Elves sister venture.  The lot itself was a little bit disappointing — it’s small, not like the huge church parking lot set-ups you see with rows and rows of trees.  But it was very festive and very pretty.

I’ve got no room for a tree (and if I did, I’d be solidly on Team Fake Tree), but it was fun to window shop.  They were beautiful and they smelled so good!

I loved the little seating areas they had set up.  And the “elves” were very nice — it didn’t bother them one bit that my sister and I were there with no intention of buying a tree and every intention of taking a billion photos.

The rest of Ponce City Market was festive too.  All the shops are decked out for the holidays, as you would expect, and the open air food hall is decorated too.  The whole outing was a fun way to get in the spirit.  Plus, it was on my 25 Days of Christmas calendar!

25 Days of Christmas

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the things about Christmastime that aren’t fun.  The endless shopping, the complicated scheduling, the tedious wrapping, the unavoidable spending!  So my aunt has decided to spend this month doing one small, festive thing each day leading up to Christmas to keep things feeling Christmas-y — I love the idea, so I’m stealing it.

Here’s a look at what I’m planning:

The point is not necessarily to do something new and Christmas-y each day, but just to do something a little special.  I’m particularly excited about finding a new Christmas album each week, going on a run to Christmas music, and making some Christmas treats.

You can find this adorable printable calendar on iMOM if you, too, would like to steal my aunt’s idea.  We start tomorrow!

Must-Have Christmas Music

from The Elizabeth Street Post

Typically I’m a strict “no Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving” kind of person.  This year was a bit different.  In July, when I was having a week of rough, restless nights, I decided that A Charlie Brown Christmas was what I needed to lull me to sleep.  And in October, as soon as it started to get a little cooler and Halloween was nearby, I started listening to my Christmas playlist in the mornings to make waking up a bit easier.  So Christmas music has been scattered throughout the latter half of my 2017, but now it’s here in full force.  I will no longer hide it in middle of the night and early morning listening sessions!

Here’s a list of my Christmas favorites — mostly classics, not too many hymns and not too much pop.  It’s the same list from last year, but with a few additions like “The Happiest Christmas Tree” from Nat King Cole, “Merry Christmas Darling” from the Carpenters, and “Parade of The Wooden Soldiers” from The Crystals.

My dad, mom, sister, and I each picked a Christmas album and we put them into a single playlist of family favorites.  This way, when we’re making the to-and-from drives on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, everyone will be happy!

The Spotify Christmas Classics playlist is great for some festive background music.

Pitchfork’s list of The 50 Best Holiday Songs of All Time is good for a mix of the expected and the unexpected.

This playlist from Bev Cooks is right up my alley — full of beautiful, old, festive songs!

Any recommendations for me?  I’m pretty prepared, with my personal playlists clocking in at a combined 6 hours long, but there’s always room for more Christmas music!