Materials used: Cold-pressed watercolor paper, Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, and a super crappy paint brush from a set of approximately 900 (it set me back a whopping $2.00 #treatyoself).
I won’t turn down a good night’s sleep, two snuggly babies, and a cold and long-running IV of Diet Coke, however.
I hope you are enjoying a peaceful day filled with love.
Also On Tap for Today:
Listening to the Happy Holidays playlist on Spotify
The last two weeks have been an exhausting, but blissful blur of newborn snuggling, diaper changing, toddler chasing, and trying to remember if I took a shower or not. I feel like we’re starting to find our rhythm (which basically means nothing, because one thing I do remember from Grace’s early days is that as soon as we got comfortable, things changed — her sleeping schedule, her eating schedule, the weather, you get the point).
This may be the Universe’s way of sending a message, but the things that are totally beyond my control (and therefore, the things that I am constantly worrying about) are going beautifully. Grace is the most gentle, sweet and curious older sister. We went out for a little ride earlier this week (in nearly 60 degree weather… not normal) and she kept whispering, “Look, baby Nick, more Christmas lights.” And it made me so happy that I cried and ruined the moment.
On that note… here’s what else I’ve been up to this month.
Currently | December, 2015
Newborn baby smell — I’d be a billionaire if I could bottle this smell.
Season 2 of Serial — Nick and I have listened to the first two episodes together on Thursday nights. It’s both nice and sort of weird to sit around listening to audio in the same way we might watch television… like, what should I be looking at? This season is quite different from the first, but I’m already hooked.
Adele’s 21 on repeat (still)
Christmas music (obvi)
The West Wing — I don’t know why I didn’t watch this when it was actually airing (my whole family was obsessed), but after listening to the Martin Sheen interview mentioned above, I had to give it a try. Blessed be Netflix… we have found our next streaming addiction.
Domino and Real Simple… they’re like books… for people who have slept less than 2 hours per night…. Also: I feel like the RS cover is speaking directly to my unable-to-meal-plan, wardrobe-deficient soul.
My new BAMR bands — I am thrilled to be an ambassador for this fabulous brand. Each quarter, BAMR Bands donates 10% of their proceeds to a selected charitable organization benefitting women and children (past recipients have included Every Mother Counts, a favorite of mine). To receive a 10% discount on these adorable, non-slip headbands, use the code OnTap10 online.
This month’s Nature Box delivery — We’ve had a NatureBox subscription for a while, but this month’s box is an especially good one. I tried to select items that would appeal to Nick (Spicy Sriracha Popcorn), Grace (Peanut Butter Graham Jam) and me (Guacamole Bites)… but mostly… I’ve been snacking on them all. For 50% off your first delivery, click here (this is a referral link, albeit a tasty one)
Piles of laundry everywhere — I forgot how many outfits newborns whip through in a day. Yikes.
A painting here, a drawing there — My current m.o. is “fit in it when you can.” (And try not to make too much of a mess in the process.)
Plans for the new year — I’m oddly excited for 2016. So much changed in 2015 that I felt more reactive and less intentional. I’m looking forward to being a bit more thoughtfully engaged in the coming twelve months.
A few holiday treats, including sparkling cranberries and “happy cakes,” as Grace calls them
If I had it my way, we would have a (childproof) Christmas tree up all year long and we’d live next door to the kind of people who leave a plastic Santa on the roof well into the Spring. There would be an Advent calendar for every month (which, I know, doesn’t vibe with the story of Christmas… but, um, God wants us to be happy). We’d listen to O, Holy Night every night. We would say “Happy Holidays” to strangers (and mean it). We’d always be on the hunt for the perfect gift and everything would smell like peppermint. On cinnamon. Oh, and we’d can our nasty ‘tudes (something that seems to magically happen this time of year, albeit temporarily).
More simply put: If I had it my way, it would always be December. Because, you know, this is the most wonderful time of the year.
With all the energy that goes into baking and shopping, wrapping presents and decking the halls, finding that one broken bulb and hanging up the mistletoe… this can also be an overwhelming time of year. I leave Thanksgiving dinner with grand Pinterest-fueled plans for the month of December, but by mid-month, what I really need is a nap.
This year, all I want is a slow and quiet Christmas.
I’m dialing back the decorations (generally speaking, neither lit candles nor glitter are baby-friendly), laying low, and soaking up as much of that Christmas spirit as possible. Oh, and I’m drinking lots of tea.
Growing up, we always had an advent calendar hanging in our kitchen. It’s a tradition Nick and I have adopted — one I look forward to sharing with Grace. In the meantime, she’s happy to be crawling here, there, and everywhere with one of the Wise Men from her Little People Nativity. This year, in addition to our traditional advent calendar, I picked up one of the coveted David’s Tea24 Days of Tea sets.
I can’t wait to open the day’s tea and share a cup with Nick and take stock of the day. I can see why this set sells out year after year (I lucked out in the Chestnut Hill store) and has become a tradition for so many families. It’s exactly the quiet and slow I’ve been craving.
While on the hunt for the set, I went on a bit of a shopping tea spree (can we make that a thing, or at the very least, a hashtag?). I picked up a few gifts for family and friends, some loose tea for yours truly aaaaand I also bought something for one of you, too.
David’s Tea giveaway (closed)
One lovely On Tap for Today reader will receive the Healthy Collection from David’s Tea. Why? Because I like you all a lot, and want you to stay healthy and enjoy your own slow and quiet holiday season. This set includes three teas/infusions and ten filters for steeping your loose tea. To enter, simply leave a comment below and share your favorite holiday tradition. A random winner will be chosen and notified on Saturday, December 13th. Thanks for entering! Megan B. was chosen and has been notified.
Disclaimer: Don’t get it twisted. This is not a sponsored post.
Also On Tap for Today:
New to the calm and serene world of tea drinking? Here’s a little Tea 101
I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I spent equal time napping, wrapping, and celebrating with family. Did I mention napping? As the third trimester has me slowing down a bit, I have adopted Clark’s preferred schedule lately: sleep as much as possible. And then eat snacks. And then go back to sleep.
I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect pair of slippers and after much searching, found this sparkly and furry pair at Target. They are so cozy that I didn’t mind risking identity theft. Just kidding. Kind of
I had every intention of going to CrossFit Southie with Nick on Saturday morning, but found myself craving a bit more sleep. Clark was happy to keep me company.
By Sunday morning, I was ready to get a move on, and set up a makeshift yoga studio in the baby’s room. I love the Daily Burn’s prenatal yoga app (available for iPad), and got a great 40 minutes of stretching in.
I picked up this “thinking happy thoughts” shirt at Old Navy a while back, and it’s still juuuuust big enough to fit over the bump. I sort of love it.
I overdid it on the bubbles (per usual), and gave our bathtub a giant bubble butt. I crack myself up. Get it… crack…
You know how I feel about sparkles, and have been adding glittery bows to every package I wrap. Things were getting a bit tangled around here, so I dug into our cabinets for a suitable corral for all that ribbon. This is probably not what bundt pans are for, but it did the trick.
While I slacked a bit on the crossfitting, our elf went to work on his kettle bell swings. You can find your own one pound baby bell, incidentally, at babykettlebell.com.
I like wrapping presents almost as much as I like giving them. Almost.
I saved the best for last. If you were born in the early 80’s (1980’s, just in case that warranted clarification), loved PBS, and celebrate Christmas, you just may remember the most amazing holiday movie of all time: The Muppet Family Christmas. And maybe your parents taped the movie for you when it first aired in 1987, and then you and your siblings watched it so many times that the VHS broke. Or you mistakenly thought something cooler came along (wrong) and taped over it (tragedy). And then… you talked about this movie, and how it was impossible to find the original (You could find a weird edited version, yes… but hello, we want to see the Muppets watch family movies of themselves as Muppet babies. Duh.) every single Christmas. Welp. My husband found the real deal and ordered DVDs for me and my three siblings. It is a Christmas miracle almost as miraculous as the actual Christmas miracle. And if you’ve seen the movie, you know I am not exaggerating.
If I had it my way (and all the time in the world), I would begin decorating for Christmas in September. And not finish until June. Despite getting a later start this year on all things Christmas, I am soaking up all the sparkly and shine while it lasts.
I love little trees. The more sparkles or feathers, the better.
The holiday season makes me inexplicably happy. Joyful, even. On my way to a meeting earlier this week, I was stuck behind a man who was walking slowly, but whistling “Frosty the Snowman” loudly. Were this any month but December, I’d be annoyed, and pass him as soon as the opportunity presented itself. (Side note: the whole idea of a snowman coming to life, let alone getting married? So creepy.)
I intended to make that garland super long… but I got super lazy. Story of my life.
Instead, I found myself smiling about that moment for the rest of the day. I get the same perma-smile from cars whipping around with Christmas trees tied to the roof, tacky holiday decorations in our neighborhood (my feeling: the tackier, the better… as long as it’s on someone else’s house), holiday stamps, fake Santas taking calls from children on the radio… you get the point.
Clark did a little crate decorating.
And I find myself being a kinder, more gentle, more patient version of me this time of year (save for the random outbursts of pregnancy-related ‘tude). I notice it in other people too. It’s really quite lovely.
Spotted a pink nutcracker for the baby’s room and couldn’t help myself…
I’m also more aware this time of year than any other how much I have to be grateful for. While the twinkly lights and warm Santa socks are nice, I know how lucky I am to have a husband who is just plain incredible and a healthy baby on the way, family and friends who love and care for me, a safe and comfortable place to live, plenty to eat, good health, a fulfilling career, and the freedom and flexibility to make all kinds of choices.
I have so much, and so it feels as important as ever do what I can with what I have– whether that’s time, money, or donated goods. Perhaps you’ll join me in supporting a cause, organization, or program that you find compelling? A few suggestions, if I may:
This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Koss.
Growing up, we opened our stockings before tackling our pile of presents. I always loved the fun of reaching into the toe of those giant socks to pull out Lip Smackers, toothbrushes, card games, and other smaller gifts. With Christmas fast approaching, I’m looking forward to putting together stockings for Nick and Clark (obvi), my secret Santa person (who shall remain nameless) and a few fit friends.
Stocking stuffers for fit friends
Koss Fit Series headphones
Koss’ Fit Series headphones were designed by a team of women (including Gold Medalist Dara Torres) specifically for women. The Fit Series features two models: FitBuds, which are great for everyday use (I wore them on a recent flight and found them super comfortable… and effective at blocking out the snorer seated next to me), and FitClips, clip-style buds ideal for workouts. Available at Best Buy, Walgreens and Walmart (as well as online), these headphones come in a range of fun colors (hello, mint green) and sell for less than $30.
Tech-friendly running gloves
While the only marathon I’m training for this winter is labor and delivery, I’ve spent the last few years logging very cold miles in Boston. Comfortable, wicking gloves with iPhone screen-friendly finger tips made those miles more bearable and are also great for commuters. This pair is from New Balance (here’s a similar pair), but you can find great options at Target, too.
Katie recently sent me one of her adorable (and very wintry!) BAMR band to review. I am forever on a mission to keep my unruly curls and fly-aways out of my face while at CrossFit, and this band certainly does the trick. Like other non-slip bands, the underside is lined with velvet ribbon, which keeps the band in place and prevents the dreaded hair dent. What I love most about the bands, though? One dollar from each purchase benefits Every Mother Counts, an international organization committed to ending preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth.
With so many different designs and patterns to choose from, you’re bound to find something you a friend will love.
iTunes gift cards (great for fitness apps and new jams)
Digital magazine subscriptions
Nutrition bars, Gu, and other on-the-go fuel
A DIY “race day kit” – include extra safety pins, Chapstick, a small handheld water bottle, etc.
Though the skies have been quite grey today, I’ve been holed up in our condo since this morning’s crossfit class, thinking pink. Our Christmas cards arrived yesterday (don’t tell a soul, but I somehow spelled Christmas with an extra i on our return address wrappers and was forced to break out the scissors), addressed to friends and family members at no extra cost (I’ll say it again, Minted.com is the best) and just waiting for stamps.
It would seem I’ve forgone tradition in my old age – hot pink Christmas cards and nary a wise man in sight? Welp, they matched my compression gear (this morning’s WOD was a leg killer) and basil and pomegranate spritzer. It all just felt so right. Or whatever.
In my lifelong quest to sprinkle basil atop everything, I added a bit of my favorite fresh herb to a glass of seltzer with pomegranate juice. If I weren’t lazy, I may have thought ahead and added the basil to an ice cube tray. It adds a subtle flavor, but packs an aromatic punch. I find the smallest amount of pomegranate juice results in the perfect pink color. Which, apparently, is very important today. (Subtle flavors? Aromatic punches? I need a nap. And a new personality.)
The lovely folks at PRO Compression sent me two complimentary pairs of their marathon socks (one white, one hot pink), which I’ve been living in since they’ve arrived. They remain undetected under pantsuits: business on the outside, recovery on the inside… and now you know. I’ve been a devoted compression-er since my first marathon, when Nick and I would spent Saturdays after our long runs in head-to-toe compression, devouring pizza. I distinctly remember writhing in pain in our hotel room (no pizza this time) after my second marathon, demanding that Nick cram my broken foot into the tightest compression sock known to woman. I was convinced it had healing powers. (It sort of did, but I still mostly couldn’t walk afterward.)
Unlike those compression socks that look like they just may fit a Barbie doll, PRO Compression socks don’t require a helper to pull them on. They are comfortable enough to wear on long runs and during workouts, without lacking any support. Compression gear is said to help with circulation (which is why compression socks and stockings are often prescribed for diabetes patients and those with poor circulation), and can help ward off fatigue. I’ve found that they speed up the recovery process, and that my calves and shins are less sore when I wear them immediately after working out (well, um, after I shower… obvi).
PRO Compression Marathon Socks come in a number of fun colors (I’ve got my eye on the USA edition for hero WODs and 4th of July races). They also sell calf sleeves, low trainer socks and golf socks. In partnership with FitFluential, PRO Compression is offering a discount code good for 40% off and free shipping. Use FIT40 at check-out; the code is good through December 15th.
I’m off to sprinkle pink glitter all over the condo. Just kidding… or am I?
With our Christmas tree up and decorated (and smelling like heaven), we celebrated quite a festive weekend in Boston. There is so much to see and do in ye olde Cradle of Liberty this time of year; we’re lucky it’s all just a walk (or Uber ride) away. We bundled up on Saturday night for dinner, drinks and lots of lights in Faneuil Hall with Tina and Mal. Our first stop was dinner at Anthem, one of Nick’s favorite lunch spots. I studied their gluten-free menu online beforehand, which made my dinner choices (a Boston Bibb salad and a side of garlic mashed potatoes) easy and stress-free.
My three dining companions started with the fondue… which for me, was a fondon’t. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. Did anyone else have “fondue day” in their high school French classes? I think I will forever associate fondue with those awkward chair/desk combinations. We left the restaurant just in time to catch the tail end of Blink!, a three minute light show set to the music of the Boston Pops. We ducked into Durgin Park for hard ciders while waiting for the next show to start. If you’re passing though the area, the quick show is definitely worth checking out. Here’s a little iPhone/YouTube preview:
If I wasn’t already high on the Christmas spirit, I certainly would have been after Blink.
[For more information about the show, click the image above.]
If you’re in the area and looking to celebrate your own festive weekend in Boston, here are few more ideas:
See the “new” Nutcracker – this year the Boston Ballet is debuting new sets, new costumes, new choreography and new characters. I am so looking forward to seeing how this Boston tradition has been updated.
Get in the holiday spirit, have your dog’s photo taken with Santa and support the MSPCA at Bark Place on 12/8
Check out the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus’ annual holiday show, described as a “joyful celebration of diverse holiday traditions.”
Lace up your skates (or rent a pair for a few bucks) at one of our local rinks. Many are free and open to the public during specific hours. This is one of my favorite ways to pass a winter weekend afternoon.
Because two light and sound extravaganzas are better than one, I met my brother and niece for the tree lighting aboard the U.S.S. Constitution yesterday. I think we may have been running late (mostly because I wanted to tell the baby all about Christmas in a weird baby voice), since the tree was already lit when we arrived and guests were being ushered off the boat. Welp, can’t win ’em all.
After walking along the Harbor Walk and admiring all the boats decked out for the holidays, I headed home to light the first candle on our Advent wreath, and whip up a few treats for the week. My sister-in-law is hosting a cookie swap next weekend and I want to be sure my gluten-free peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies with pretzel bits and sea salt are both edible and palatable. Hopes are high. Expectations are slightly lower.
The highlight of my weekend had to have been Clark, wearing his little Santa hat, greeting the patients at the hospital where we do pet therapy. Needless to say, his chapeau was a hit. I always leave the hospital with an overflowing heart (and a very sleepy French bulldog), and can think of no better way to kick off the first week of December.
Also On Tap for Today:
Kicking off week 3 of HBBC with new goals and solid plans
Taking Clark for his annual check up and shots (I mostly always almost faint, while he totally plays it cool)
Finishing wedding thank you notes and starting Christmas cards
What is your favorite local holiday event or tradition?
I waited as long as I possibly could (specifically, the day before Thanksgiving) to deck the condo. We are waiting until next weekend to pick up our Christmas tree, so I suppose I have practiced some restraint. I capitalized on my half day Wednesday and dug through our storage unit for our Christmas boxes. I squealed as I peeled back the covers of each box. Clark was very interested in their contents too, and as a result, I spent much of the afternoon cleaning glitter from his fur. He lives for sparkle. As the photos below will tell you, so do I.
I cashed in a Crate and Barrel gift card a while back when this sparkly wreath (it’s far more sparkly in person, I assure you) caught my eye.
This little vignette on our mantle came together when our somewhat Catholic-looking Buddha (he’s very St. Francis from the neck down, wouldn’t you say?) kept threatening to topple from a side table and needed to be relocated. I can never decide if the horse head is The Godfather creepy or equestrian chic. Or both. For now… it sparkles, so it stays.
One of my favorite things to come out of storage is my improvised Advent wreath, which I pulled together last year, two hours before my Advent faith sharing group came together for the first time. I couldn’t find an actual Advent wreath anywhere (likely because everyone else in Boston planned ahead), so I grabbed four crystal candle holders and a strand of glass garland and voila. As much as I love traditional holiday decor, I really like the simple beauty of this wreath and what it symbolizes for me. Plus, it doesn’t need to be kept alive.
My sole Black Friday purchase this year was this perfect set of sparkly, yet subtle, linen and sequin stockings. They match our real life and holiday decor perfectly. Because I am the worst secret keeper in the history of secrets, and have to fight a strong urge to give everyone their presents the second I have them in hand, I like being able to drop small gifts for Nick and Clark in their stockings in the days leading up to Christmas. Neither of them peek before the 25th. It’s quite remarkable, really.
Yep, the condo has been decked and the stockings have been hung. With care. Despite the lack of a chimney.