Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope that you are all having some downtime with friends and family. I’m spending this week with my fiance’s family in Virginia and North Carolina (no, it’s not snowing here, but this pic is so very Winter Wonderland) and it’s been really relaxing and low-key. With this side of my family, we decided to do something different this year – a giftless Christmas. And while I’ve missed the excitement of wrapping gifts for people I love and anticipating them opening something special I’ve picked out for them, it’s been SO nice to skip the shopping crowds and holiday sale frenzy. Instead we’ve focused on hanging out, playing games, reading, exercising, walking the dogs, seeing plays, cooking. It’s been awesome! 


Oh, Hi! Readers, Friends and my beloved Community – it’s been over three weeks since my last post. I just didn’t know what to write. All the recent and tragic news we’ve been reading everyday has made it so hard for me to face my blog and talk about things that seemingly don’t matter anymore – to me or the world at large. I mean WHO CARES about the latest mascara I’m loving these days or what I think you should wear to a job interview?! 


Happy 2017, Dear Readers! Anybody else thrilled to say goodbye to the wretched year that was 2016?! Many bloggers have written posts that reflect on their favorite moments from last year, but I simply don’t have that in me. It was one of the hardest years – both professionally and personally – of my life, and I don’t want to rehash it for anyone. What I want to do is look forward. Look forward with simplicity and positivity.


It’s that time of year that every blogger writes and publishes a beautiful holiday gift guide, but I simply can’t bring myself to do it. In theory I want to. In practice, I won’t make the time. But more importantly, it’s because the best Christmas I’ve ever had was the year I gave my family donations to different charities instead of material gifts. For a while when I had very little money, we’d stick to a $25 gift limit which helped my wallet. But the year we extended the rules to be a charitable donation of $25, plus a small little something for your stocking (like a great-smelling soap – everyone uses soap, I hope), was the most thoughtful giving year we’ve had. Nothing has topped it before or since.


Something that has really struck me over the past few weeks is how wearing something small or seemingly subtle can signify a tremendous message to those around you. Prior to the election, many of us wore pantsuits to demonstrate support for our preferred female candidate. In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton wore purple to demonstrate the blend of blue and red and the need for the two parties to unite going forward. And today, we wear safety pins to signify to people that we are safety allies, that we are people who will walk with you and stand by you and stay close to you if you are in danger of being persecuted and subject to hate.