2018 Christmas Gifts

Gifts I Got for Christmas 2018

As you might recall, I shared what I got for Christmas this time last year and I really enjoyed creating the post!  So, I decided to share my Christmas gifts this year, too.

Like I said a year ago, I do this to share my gratitude for the wonderful people who gave me these. Hopefully, it will inspire a few gifts for you to get for loved ones, too. Spread the love!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Clothes & Accessories

Pajamas

If you read my Blogmas post about Christmas traditions, you’ll know about our annual Christmas Eve jammies! This year’s featured some adorable llamas–matching for me, Rachel, and Mom! Mom got the sleep shirt while Rachel and I got the top/pants set in the same design.

llama pajamas

Fuzzy socks

Something you should know about me if you don’t already: I’m nearly always cold!  The past few months, cold feet have been a particular annoyance (don’t tell my future husband!). So, I’ve been wearing fuzzy socks as much as possible.  These were a great trio to add to my collection!

Llama keychain

If you haven’t caught on yet: Hi, I’m Jules. I adore llamas (also, alpacas). That being said, this little fuzzball (in my favourite colour) was a perfect gift!

llama keychain

Necklace

While my mom doesn’t actively sell Paparazzi jewellery any longer, she still purchases some from time to time.  When she gave me this necklace, she prefaced it with “I thought of you when I saw this because it seems very Victorian.” She isn’t wrong and I love it! The green stones are the perfect touch.

victorian-style necklace

Beauty

Wet n Wild

Having gotten much more into makeup this year (thanks, RachhLoves, I entirely blame you for my obsession–in the best way possible!), one of the top items on my Christmas list this year was this holiday zodiac-themed set from Wet n Wild. I’m a Scorpio (and a very stereotypical Scorpio more often than not!) and I knew the gorgeous blue-toned shades in the Water set would go beautifully with my eyes. I’d already fallen in love with the lip shades, so this was a must-have!

Mom was wonderful enough to find me the set!  And, soon enough, our local Walmart had the whole series (all four elements) on sale. I picked up the others to use as some goal incentives for 2019–I can’t have them until I’ve paid off a certain amount of my credit cards!–and as a gift for my sister who, despite being a fellow Scorpio, was mildly obsessed with the Fire set.

If you follow us on Twitter or Instagram, you might have seen that I’m on a bit of a search regarding that Fire set. Ours came with a smashed compact mirror which, the bad juju notwithstanding, was so disappointing to my sister.  I contacted Walmart and Wet n Wild, who each told me to contact the other, so no luck there.  So, if you or someone you know has the Fire set and would be willing to part with the compact to make a sad teenager’s day, I’d be eternally grateful!

I also got a few other makeup goodies from my mom and my grandparents! I’m especially excited to test out the blush–I had some bad experiences with blush years ago (the colours I had were all wrong for me and looked horrid!), so I haven’t tested it out in years. I’m excited to play with it once again!

wetnwild water

Haircare tools

Another thoughtful gift from my grandparents was this stunning champagne/rose gold set of brushes and other haircare tools. The colour is absolutely perfect and I was desperately in need of a new brush!

haircare & makeup gifts

Electronics

Headphones

I work in transcription when I’m not blogging or writing, and all those hours with $10 Walmart headphones pressed to my ears weren’t doing me any favours, neither for my consistent migraines or my ability to work in anything but absolute silence.  Mom found an amazing deal on some Beats headphones* and it has made such a difference!

beats headphones

Webcam

You might remember me mentioning several times that I’ve been preparing a Youtube channel for For the Sake of Good Taste. It’s definitely been pushed to the backburner over time, but it’s definitely something I hope to incorporate at least a bit in 2019 (perhaps videos once a month or so?).  With that in mind, Mom picked up this webcam* that I’d had on my wishlist and actually forgotten about!

This is going to get its first use with an interview I’m doing soon on the poetry side of my life (learn more about my writing at my writing site, if you’re interested!).  From there, I’m hoping to get a space together to start vlogging! I’d love any tips you’d like to share so feel free to reach out in the comments or on social media if you’ve got any experience or tips for new vloggers!

HP Sprocket*

This was definitely the most surprising of my gifts! I’m in quite a few bullet journalling groups on Facebook and the HP sprocket (and similar products) are constantly appearing as favourite items. I’ve always thought they were neat, but I never in a million years thought I would have one of my own. Between the relatively high price point (at least for my personal budget) and needing to buy paper going forward, I had resigned myself to never testing out instant prints in my bujo.

Well, Mom listened to my thoughts on this more than I had. She found a great deal on the 2-in-1 sprocket*, which actually takes photos as well! I haven’t played around with all of its features yet, but I have printed out some cute photos of Fitz because priorities.

sprocket

Stationery

Harry Potter stationery & wand pen

One of my best friends, Monica, goes to visit her sister in Ireland regularly (one of these days I’ll follow her!).  On a recent trip, she picked up this gorgeous Harry Potter stationery and wand pen for me for Christmas!  I’ve already told her that we *will* be writing letters now.

harry potter stationery

Dot grid journals

Back to my bullet journal obsession, Mom got me two of my favourite dot grid journals from Michael’s, which should keep me going bujo-wise for at least half this year!

Stay tuned for a look at my 2019 bullet journal next week! 

dot grid journals

Pens

I adore Papermate flair pens* and these were the perfect addition to my collection!  Apparently my parents’ dog agrees, though . . . if you look closely, two of the caps have been attacked!

papermate flair

Recollections Creative Year Planner Books

While I keep lots (and lots and lots) of collections in my bullet journal, there are a few things that I’d love to have a pre-set layout for (and maybe transition into my bullet journal eventually).  These little booklets are perfect!  I’ve already been making huge strides towards my 2019 goals (posts on those coming soon!) with the Goals book!  In total, I got the menu planning*, goals*, important info, and bucket list books.

recollections creative year

Letterhead

In probably the most touching of my individual Christmas gifts, Mom had some letterhead made for my brand-new literary magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow, which I’m thrilled to say has taken off beautifully so far! I haven’t decided just yet as to what I’ll be using this for, but I can’t even tell you how much it means to me that she thought to do this.

nightingale & sparrow letterhead

Bullet Journal Organiser

While we’re already on a sappy note, I’ve got to share this organiser that Mom put together for me.  I’ve been saying for ages that I need to find a better organisation system for my bullet journal supplies. While this won’t hold all of my goodies, it’s absolutely perfect for holding my most-used items!  She included my bullet journal supplies, letterhead, and other goodies in this with a note reminding me to follow my dreams.  I’m tearing up again just writing this!

bullet journal organiser
Of course, it’s storing some other Christmas goodies in this photo while I work on my bujo!

Books

Cookbook

For weeks, my sister has been pointing to a Harry Potter-wrapped package under the tree and reminding me that it’s the gift she’s picked out especially for me. It turns out that that packaged housed this lovely vegan cookbook*!  I’m looking forward to playing around with some of these recipes!

Whiskey in a Teacup

I’m a huge fan of Reese Witherspoon (to the point that I’ve written a micropoem titled “In which I am played by Reese Witherspoon,” which will hopefully be published soon!). This book* has been on my TBR since months before its release.  Once I get caught up on some of the pieces I’m reviewing & blurbing, this is next up!

whiskey in a teacup - reese witherspoon

Bonnies Crew Anthology

While not technically a Christmas gift, I won a giveaway for a copy of this lovely little poetry anthology. It arrived just before Christmas, so I think it still counts!

Misc.

Kuchi Kopi blanket

Like last year, I got a few Bob’s Burgers gifts!  This hooded Kuchi Kopi blanket* is a personal favourite–he’s my favourite character from the show!

kuchi kopi blanket
I had the flu while finishing up photos for this post, so no selfies with Kuchi Kopi just yet–keep an eye on Instagram for some future shots!

Sheep finger puppet

My friend B is going to school back in England and sent me this adorable finger puppet of a sheep. While we were both living there, she got used to me getting excited each time we came across a field of sheep (which was, thankfully, quite often). This was the perfect reminder!

Burger pillow*

Mom loved the irony of buying this for her vegan daughter. But, I could definitely replicate it as a vegan burger!  It’s also the perfect amount of fluffy.

burger pillow - fitz
Fitz agrees.

Wand

Another gift from my wonderful friend B! This personalised wand is meant to be a reminder of my being “badass.” She knows about my struggles with mental health, so this was, again, a perfect gift!

Fish ornament

Back to the earlier topic of Christmas traditions, this was the first year that we received a special ornament as part of our Christmas Eve gift. My sister, a lifelong proponent of Chinese food, got a little soy sauce bottle, while I got this beautiful goldfish! Mom and I have referred to each other as “fishy” for years now, so it was the perfect touch.

Like in years past, I’m blown away at my friends’ and family’s talents at giving the perfect gift.  What Christmas gifts were your favourite to give or to get this year?

2018 Christmas Gifts

2019 Blogging Goals

2019 Blogging Goals

Over 2018, For the Sake of Good Taste really started to hit its stride in terms of where it’s going in the future.  As I nailed this down, my ideas for 2019 blogging goals really became crystal clear!  We might not have accomplished all of our (admittedly ambitious) 2018 goals, but I’m confident this year can be bigger and better.

Like last year, I’m sharing my yearly blogging goals (and, later, my personal goals as well!) with all of you.  I hope to be a bit better at updating my progress throughout the year, too, so stay tuned!

Quadruple our traffic

Once again, I’m setting “quadruple our traffic” as a blogging goal for the year.  We didn’t quite reach our target in 2018, but we’ve continued to grow in leaps and bounds and I have no doubt that this year can be even better!  I’m rounding the quadrupled number for simplicity’s sake.

For record-keeping, here are our 2018 stats and, from there, our 2019 goal stats:

Page views:

2018: 9,530

Goal: 38,000

Sessions:

2018: 4,118

Goal: 15,000

Users:

2018: 5,250

Goal: 21,000

And, while these aren’t being tripled exactly, I’d like to improve the average time spent on the site (spend some time delving into the archives!) as well as our bounce rate.

Average Time Spent:

2018: 1:55

Goal: 5:00

Bounce Rate:

2018: 57.94%

Goal: 25%

Increase our retention

Again, this is an important goal for the year.  I love gaining new readers, but I want our already-loyal followers to keep coming back, too!  My goal for this one is 40% returning traffic, 60% new; last year, we ended up at just 4.1% vs. 95.9%.

Social Media

Facebook was a bit of a pain in the neck throughout 2018, but we otherwise did remarkably well on our 2018 social media goals!  With that in mind, I’m hoping to once again blow it out of the water when it comes to our primary social media channels this year.

I’m including LinkedIn and Quora here, too, though they don’t quite fit the standard “social media” profile.  Quora has proved to be a really great source of traffic (the key is to give really helpful answers to relevant questions!).  And while I haven’t really utilised LinkedIn much in terms of blogging growth, I’m hoping to develop it throughout the year.

For LinkedIn, I plan to track how many times I share blog updates, rather than the likes/followers I’m tracking for other networks.

So, our 2019 social media goals:

Facebook: 150 likes

Twitter: 2,000 followers

Instagram: 1,000 followers

Pinterest: 750 followers

BlogLovin’: 100 followers

LinkedIn: 100 updates

Quora: 50 followers

Feature four guest posts

This breaks down to at least one a quarter and doubles our 2018 goal.  Since we were able to share three guest posts in 2018, I’m confident we can have at least four amazing bloggers visit this year!

We’ve already got one guest post lined up for later this month, so so far, so good!

Are you a blogger who’d like to learn more? Check out our media kit and shoot us an email!

Share two guests posts

I didn’t set a goal to guest post on other blogs in 2018, but I’d really like to do so this year.  I actually did share three last year despite the lack of a formal goal, so I’m hoping to keep up that momentum!

Are you a blogger looking for guest posters? Check out our media kit and shoot us an email!

Work with five brands

As our stats continue to improve, I’m confident that we can get even more brands excited to work with For the Sake of Good Taste!

I’m also planning to pitch a few brands directly, something that I have yet to do successfully (I tried once with my last blog, to no avail!).  It’s moderately terrifying, but I’m going to do it!

Are you a brand who’d like to learn more? Check out our media kit and shoot us an email!

Create three original products

With our upcoming ebook and a course already in the works, this one should be relatively painless.  A successful launch on the other hand?  Well, fingers crossed!

Swap It! should be coming your way later this quarter, with the course later in the year. I’m still brainstorming some ideas for a third product, so let me know if you’ve got any suggestions!

Fellow bloggers, what are your 2019 blogging goals?

2019 Blogging Goals

2018 Goals Final Checkin

2018 Goals Final Check-In

I promised almost a year ago that I’d update you all every few months on our 2018 goals for For the Sake of Good Taste.  While our technical issues (and, quite frankly, life) got in the way of updates as regularly as I would have liked, I couldn’t go without sharing our 2018 Goals final check-in.

Overall, we didn’t do terribly!  As you might remember from our original 2018 goals post, I purposefully set these to be a bit ambitious.  Thanks to my finishing undergrad, a slew of technical difficulties, and some other issues along the way, we didn’t succeed as much as I would have liked.  I can only imagine how far we’d have gone if we had had smooth sailing!

Still, I’m enormously proud of how far For the Sake of Good Taste has come in 2018.  It’s been outrageously hard at times and there have been moments that I’ve genuinely considered giving up this whole blogging thing for good. But, in the end, I’m so, so glad I haven’t.

QUADRUPLE OUR TRAFFIC

We didn’t quadruple our traffic, by any means.  Our numbers:

SESSIONS:

Goal: 6,500

Final:  4,118

USERS:

Goal: 5,250

Final: 3,377

PAGE VIEWS:

Goal: 26,000

Final: 9,530

Still, we’ve done so well, all things considered!  Here’s a comparison of our 2017 end-of-year stats with 2018’s:

Sessions:

2017: 1,574

2018: 4,118

Users:

2017: 1,255

2018: 3,377

Page views:

2017: 6,442

2018: 9.530

INCREASE OUR RETENTION

Our retention ended the year at 4.1% returning visitors to 95.9% new, as compared to 94.4%/5.6% for 2017.  Not the improvement we’d hoped for, but I’ll take it!

FEATURE TWO GUEST POSTS

This one was a rousing success!  Not only have we shared two guest posts this year, but’s we’ve went all out and shared three, with more on the way for 2019!

ARE YOU A BLOGGER WITH AN IDEA YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE ON FOR THE SAKE OF GOOD TASTE?  SHOOT US AN EMAIL!

PUBLISH ONE POST A WEEK

While we didn’t technically get a post out each week, we did have well over 52 posts go live in 2018!  That being said, I’m going to go ahead and call this one a win.

LAUNCH OUR VEGANISM COURSE

I actually rescheduled our content plan quite a bit over this year and the official launch has moved to 2019 (with my upcoming ebook, Swap It!, coming first!).  Still, I’ve made progress on the course itself, did some minor rebranding to align the blog more with this kind of content, and even planned more complimentary offers to come.  Not a technical win, but I’ll take it.

MAKE SURE YOU’VE SIGNED UP FOR OUR EMAIL UPDATES TO BE THE FIRST TO KNOW WHEN OUR COURSE LAUNCHES! YOU’LL EVEN GET SOME EXCLUSIVE FREEBIES ALONG THE WAY!

BUILD OUR EMAIL LIST

Thanks to our GDPR compliance update, we’ve actually lost quite a few followers since 2017, and we haven’t regained anywhere near as many.  As you may have noticed, we’ve had some new opt-in freebies come to the Resource Library over the past several weeks and this is definitely going to be a major focus for 2019.

Be sure to sign up to help us out (and snag lots of freebies, with more to come!)!  

WORK WITH TWO BRANDS

We’ve been lucky enough to share sponsored posts with Pure Journi and Opportuniteas this year, plus I’ve worked on social media campaigns with brands such as Downy!

I’ve also shared quite a few posts working with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours which, while not technically sponsored posts, do include some fantastic ARCs, so I’d say these count too!

ARE YOU A BRAND WHO’D LIKE TO WORK WITH FOR THE SAKE OF GOOD TASTE?  CHECK OUT OUR MEDIA KIT HERE, THEN SHOOT US AN EMAIL.

DOUBLE OUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWING

As the year progressed, I really narrowed in to focus on our “primary” social media outlets, so I officially sliced this goal almost in half.  As for our final standings for 2018 . . .

Facebook

Goal:  100

Actual: 66

Twitter

Goal:  500

Actual: 686

Instagram:

Goal:  150

Actual: 272

Pinterest:

Goal:  150 followers

Actual: 251

BlogLovin’:

Goal: 50 followers

Actual: 39

So, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest succeded beautifully and BlogLovin’ got painfully close!

Still, there’s progress, slowly but surely.  If you’re willing, we’d love to have you as a follower on some of these platforms!

We may not have hit all of our 2018 blogging goals, but I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made–and so, so grateful to all of you for helping us get there! Here’s to an even better 2019!

2018 Goals Final Checkin

My 2018 Favourites

My 2018 Favourites

We’ve been slacking when it comes to sharing my monthly favourites since our hiatus this past fall.  So much so, in fact, that I struggled a bit when I first sat down to write this post!  Still, I knew I wanted to write out some of my 2018 favourites, along with a year-end update for you all.

Catch up on our past months’ favourites here, then read on for my 2018 favourites!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

WEARING:

I purchased a huge men’s flannel shirt while I was back in England and it’s remained a staple item from in my closet.  I highly doubt it’s a flattering look, but it’s comfy as anything and reminds me of “home.”

My Dobby shirt from June’s monthly favourites is still one of my favourites!

Especially working from home, I’ve pretty much lived in black leggings as much as possible.  They’re cosy, versatile, and they’re easy to dress up if I suddenly need to leave the house.

Thanks to my heel issues earlier in the year, I’ve got a comfy pair of slippers on hand and I’ve stocked up on fuzzy socks!

Most surprising to me, I actually got relatively decent when it comes to doing my makeup this year! I attribute this largely to watching far too much YouTube (more on that below).  I’ve built up a lovely little collection along the way too, as I work to purge my beauty supplies to all cruelty-free.

USING:

Along the lines of the oils I’ve diffused, I’ve also come to love the Thieves cleaner* from Young Living!

I started using the TV Time app a few months ago and it’s absolutely revolutionised the time I spend watching television.  Even with tracking my favourite shows in my bullet journal, it got unorganised from time to time–this makes it even easier to keep track.

I’ve used YouTube casually for years now, but I only recently began utilising it to a fuller extent. From recipes to makeup tutorials, I’ve used it for anything and everything!

We’ll be launching our YouTube channel soon–subscribe now to be the first to know when our first video goes live!

Of course, my bullet journal is an ultimate must-have.  I’ve used a few new tools with it this year, but I think my Paper Mate Flair pens* and Tombow adhesive* are my top picks for 2018.  I also got an HP sprocket* for Christmas which I’m loving so far, though I’m not sure I can really count it for a favourite of the year after just a few weeks!

I got my Fitbit* towards the end of last year to try to manage some of my symptoms (#spoonielife) and it’s helped me quite a bit in terms of tracking!

LISTENING:

I started to list some of my top songs for the year here, but I suddenly realised I could do even better . . . check out my 2018 Favourites playlist!

EATING:

One of my most-eaten meals this year was a tomato white-bean pasta bake that I adapted from a recipe my grandmother passed on to me.  I’ll be sharing the recipe in the new year!

I’ve also eaten far more salt & vinegar chips (or crisps!) then any rational human probably should.

Black beans & rice were a staple in my final months of college and they’ve remained a favourite ever since.

And, while it’s been a while, the chick’n salad, soy ravioli, and vegan BLT from my alma mater’s dining hall is still a favourite!  I’m slightly ashamed to admit just how frequently I daydream of it. Servo, if you see this, I would cry infinite tears of joy if you would forward those recipes.

DRINKING:

I can guarantee none of these will be a surprise!

Coffee & tea are consistent favourites–I go through a variety of brands, flavours and varieties! Dunkin’ iced tea is a long-time favourite, too.

I might not be McDonald’s’ biggest fan, but their $1 sodas are a godsend when out and about. For some reason, they actually help my migraines more than a standard glass of coca cola!

READING:

Despite increasing it a few months back, I managed to exceed my Goodreads Reading Challenge!

Some of my favourites from the year:

WATCHING:

Thanks to TV Time, I actually know what my favourite TV shows were this year!

Some old favourites, revisted:

  • The Office
  • FRIENDS
  • Adventure Time

And some new (both to the world and some new-to-me) discoveries:

  • The Haunting of Hill House
  • A Million Little Things
  • New Amsterdam
  • Manifest
  • This Is Us

Some favourite films:

DIFFUSING:

If you’ve read our previous monthly favourites this one should be easy to guess: my favourite oils were lavender, Trauma Life, Stress Away, and peppermint!

WORKING:

While my “day job” isn’t a great fit for my health issues, it’s helped me get by financially this year! The transition from undergrad to student loan bills was a bit painful (literally), so every little bit helps.  I’ve moved up to the highest rank of transcriptionist, which is pretty cool even if it’s not necessarily a long-term possibility.

As you probably know, when I’m not working or blogging, I’m probably writing! After months of limited progress, I’m thrilled to share that I have twelve poems published or pending from 2018!

  • Cauldron Anthology
  • Royal Rose Mag
    • “Dream Dissonance”
    • “Boleyn” (forthcoming)
  • Marias at Sampaguitas
    • “Reading Between the Lines”
    • “Screaming and then silence”
    • “Pastels and Neons” (forthcoming)
    • “Recording the Stars” (forthcoming)
    • “Atonement” (forthcoming)
    • “Dreamsong” (forthcoming)
    • “Engulfed” (forthcoming)
  • Reclaim: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry
    • “Broken Bodies, Broken Hearts”
  • Paper Trains Literary Journal
    • “Ethereal”

I also launched my own literary magazine!  Nightingale & Sparrow is currently accepting submissions for its inaugural issue, flight, which is due to be published in mid-February!

Here on the blog, we’ve grown so much, despite our technical difficulties! There’s still a ways to go as we further define our niche, but I’m confident we’ll keep getting better!

This year, we’ve gotten extremely close to reach out 2018 blogging goals (stay tuned for our full final update soon!).  We’ve done sponsored posts with Pure Journi and Opportuniteas and we’ve been able to do a bit of social media work, too.  We’ve featured four amazing guest posts and I was lucky enough to guest post for the lovely Scarlett and Liu Miao.

While we didn’t launch our vegan lifestyle course as originally planned, we did quite a bit of prep work for that and our upcoming book, Swap It!.

Top posts this year:

10 Movies for Self-Care Days

How I Published a Poetry Chapbook

Bullet Journal Basics

Easy Things to Organise Right Now

Top Finance Apps to Manage Your Money

Tools for Organisation

Self-Care Tips for Working at a Computer All Day

101 in 1,001

Blogs to Follow ASAP

My Top Office Supplies for College Students

WHAT WERE YOUR 2018 FAVOURITES?

My 2018 Favourites

Blogmas Roundup

Blogmas Roundup (Blogmas 2018, Day Twenty-Five)

If you’ve been following us through the past 25 days of Blogmas, you’ve seen an awful lot of Christmas-y content.  But, if you’re a Christmas enthusiast like so many, it’s likely still not enough!  That’s why I’ve put together our final Blogmas post for 2018–the 2018 Blogmas Roundup!

via GIPHY

I’ve been keeping track of some of my favourite bloggers who’ve participated in Blogmas this year to prepare some of my favourite pieces.  You’ve now got double the posts to keep you entertained and in the Christmas spirit!

12 Days of Letter Writing with More Love Letters, Life with Faith

This is such an amazing idea that I hadn’t heard of before reading Faith’s post!  I love writing letters (I actually correspond with a few friends almost exclusively through letter writing!), so this was a perfect idea.

Unique Gift Guide, Leslie Leon

I think we all have that person who doesn’t fit into any neat category for a traditional gift guide.  This gift guide is full of unique gift ideas that could be perfect for that exact person!

Handmade Gifts – Cross-Stitched Bookmarks, Kay at Home

I haven’t done much of it in ages, but I used to love cross stitch!  Kay’s post might just have inspired me to pick up a new batch of supplies and try it again in the new year!

Christmas traditions, Insecure Housewife

I shared my own Christmas traditions this Blogmas, so it was so neat to see Sarah’s family’s traditions!

Dog Gift Ideas, Phigella

I may or may not buy more gifts for the furry/feathered/scaly friends in my life than for the real people.  Whoops?

50 Bookish Questions, Bookish and Bright

I loved reading through Alysha’s answers to these questions, and I may have to take her up on her open tag . . . stay tuned in 2019!

Top 5 Ways to Make Christmas Decorating Easier, Grap a Cuppa

This post has some excellent tips!  My personal favourite?  The all-important advice:  “Fairy lights make everything better!”

50 Things that Make Me Happy, The Longest Road to Walk

I’m all for celebrating the things that make you happy!

Check out our list of little things to make you happy! 

Christmas Party Look, SophaaRambles

This look is absolutely stunning and the perfect Christmas party look!

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: a Christmas treat, Novel Library

Can you believe that I majored in English, yet haven’t read this series?

The Festive Christmas Book Tag, Jenniely

I’ve been doing so much writing and reading as of late that book tags are especially thrilling!

Why A #FoodBankAdvent can help this Christmas, Broke Girl In The City

I’m a big believer in helping others as much as possible, and this is the season of giving, after all!

Blog Posts To Get You In The Mood For Christmas, twentysixotwo

A blog post in a list of blog posts which leads to more blog posts? Yes, please!

Favourite Books of Christmas, Bailey Leah

Remember way back at the beginning of Blogmas when I was looking for Christmas-y book/story recommendations?  This would have been perfect!  I’m definitely keeping this one on hand for next Christmas!

Why I Celebrate Christmas, A Rosie World

This was definitely one of the most unique Blogmas posts I’ve come across this year and I absolutely love it.  Such a lovely perspective on something I don’t think many people think much about!

Festive Pinterest and Instagram Board, Lifeofemmax

I didn’t realise how badly I needed this level of festivity in my life until I found this post!

6 Travel Ornaments, Girl on The Fly

These ornaments are so adorable!  Perfect for your favourite traveller!

How to Say Merry Christmas in the Different Languages, Wandering Waffles

This is another lovely piece that I haven’t seen elsewhere!

A Look at Blogmas Past, Repressing the Crazy

Another super unique post that I was excited to see–I love the idea of incorporating past Blogmas concepts in those to come!

Harry Potter Scenes I Wish Were In The Movies Part One, Charleigh Writes

I still can’t decide if I really consider Harry Potter to count as Christmas films, but I love this take on a Blogmas post!  We all have our favourite scenes that didn’t make the cut in the movies and it’s always neat to see what others think.

Check out some of my favourite holiday films!

Non-Traditional Christmas Desserts, Unseen Beauty

I love to see non-traditional takes on holiday celebrations!

Baking Christmas Dog Treats, The Little Wise Owl

Again, we can’t forget about our furry friends this Christmas!

Christmas Songs that Don’t Make Sense, The Girl In The Red Rubber Boots

This is such a cute post idea!  And there are some fantastic points regarding these songs, too.

Christmas Eve Wrapping, Some Pretty Thing

I came upon this sweet post just after finishing some last-minute wrapping on Christmas Eve, so it couldn’t have been more perfect!

Tips for Christmas Shopping, The Bookish Brunette

You can never have too many shopping tips!

Blogmas Roundup

Have you read any of the posts featured in our Blogmas roundup or was another one your favourite?  Be sure to let us know your top picks for Blogmas 2018!

Happy Blogmas

My Favourite Christmas Ornaments

My Favourite Christmas Ornaments (Blogmas 2018, Day Twenty-Four)

If you’ve read my post of holiday traditions, you’ll know that Christmas ornaments have recently become a pretty touching gift for my sister and I each Christmas Eve.  Even though this is a brand-new tradition, I’m so excited!  Still, we’ve collected plenty of wonderful ornaments over the years, the best of which (in my opinion), I’ll share with you today.

A small number of mine decided to disappear just before Christmas, so I wasn’t able to snap a photo of them for this post–I’ll be sure to add them after the fact once they’ve been recovered!

I’ve found some similar ornaments on Amazon for you to browse, too! Most of the exact ornaments are too old to find easily, but I’ve tried to keep the theme the same, at the very least.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Narwhal

You’ll notice a few of these distinctive stuffed ornaments–we got them around the same time because they were simply too cute!  I got this one in honour of Elf and Mr. Narwhal’s classic line:  “Bye, Buddy . . . hope you find your dad!”

narwhal ornament

Elf Mr. Narwhal Ornament*

Coffee Cup

If you’ve been around the blog a while, you know I’m a bit of a coffee fiend.  So this adorable little cup is perfect!

coffee cup ornament

Happiness is a Cup of Coffee Ornament*

George the Beagle

This one has quite the story behind it!  When I was little, I’d yet to have a dog of my own.  But, I’d recently read a book that featured a “pocket beagle” and I was vaguely obsessed.

After all these year’s I’ve finally done some research and found out this was Animal Ark’s Beagle in a Backpack!* I’m now on a mission to either find my old copy somewhere in my parents’ house or pick one up to reread . . . because sometimes you want to read childhood books all over again! 

But I digress.  I was hooked on the idea of these tiny dogs and came across these ornaments, where you could pick your dog’s breed and name.  I somehow convinced Mom  that I needed a beagle ornament to compensate for my lack of real dog and I named him George, after my grandfather.  I guess, to my ten-year-old mind, it was a logical progression since I didn’t want to have children to name after family?    Whatever the case, George the Beagle now hangs happily from the family Christmas tree.

Customizable Dog Ornament*

Nessie

The Loch Ness monster is always a good idea, but especially so when she’s wearing a Santa hat!

nessie ornament

The Loch Ness Monster Believes In You Ornament*

Polar Bear

For some reason, this friendly little bear ornament never wants to face front.  So, we see an awful lot of “bear butt.”

polar bear ornament

Polar Bear Butt Ornament*

Bell

Again, if you’ve read my post on Christmas traditions, this one may ring a bell (I am so, so sorry for that pun but I had to).  This bell sparks all of the Polar Express quotes.  We’ve got a few other bell ornaments, but this one in particular forces the references.

polar express bell ornament

Polar Express Bell Ornament*

Teeny Tiny Harry

I got this one from a blogger secret Santa back in 2016, I think!  Cathleen did such an amazing job in finding me the perfect present and teeny tiny Harry was definitely a favourite.

Harry Potter Ornament*

Carrot

This is one of our most unusual ornaments, but it’s a favourite nevertheless.  This was another stuffed ornament we picked up int hat group, solely because it reminded me of FilmCow’s “John McCain and his Vegetable Friends.”  Strange, but true!  It’s also a pretty cool nod to my veganism, if I do say so myself.

carrot ornament

Carrot Ornament*

Bird

I’ve definitely been on a bird kick throughout 2018, so unearthing this little guy in our box of decorations was a great moment!  I put him as close to the top of the tree as possible, so the bird could be the “star” of the show!

bird clip ornament

Sparkly Clip-On Birds*

Santa’s Countdown

Mom got this as a gift from a coworker years ago and he’s one of our favourite pieces of Christmas.  Plus, he keeps us on track to keep our other countdowns up-to-date!

santa countdown ornament

Countdown to Christmas Ornament (the same one we have!)*

Sock Monkey

You might not know this, but I went through a period in which I was absolutely obsessed with sock monkeys. I still have quite the collection!  While I’m working on cutting back and giving some of my actual sock monkeys a new home, this little guy is definitely staying to add a little extra joy to the Christmas tree.

sock monkey ornament

Gingerbread Sock Monkey Ornament*

The Christmas Pickle

One more Christmas tradition!  While he isn’t hiding in the tree just yet, the Christmas Pickle deserves another shoutout.

Traditional Christmas Pickle*

My Favourite Christmas Ornaments

What are your favourite Christmas ornaments?

Happy Blogmas

Christmas Decor Tour

Christmas Decor Tour (Blogmas 2018, Day Twenty-Three)

My mom has a slight obsession with Christmas decorations.  As in, there are 9 trees set up throughout the house as of my first draft of this post.  Over the years, I’ve chosen a few favourite Christmas decorations, which I’ve chosen to showcase in today’s Christmas decor tour!

Our collective taste is pretty eclectic, but somehow it all seems to work out in the end.

Indoors

I’m lucky enough to work from home, so I get to enjoy the indoor decorations more often than not!

Charlie Brown Tree

This year, while home for the holidays, I’ve hit the Christmas decoration jackpot.  Mom’s allowed Fitz and I to have the Charlie Brown tree all to ourselves!

Charlie Brown Tree
Please excuse Fitz’s treats in the background!

Reindeer Countdown

I get strangely excited when I get to change the reindeer’s number each day!

Reindeer countdown

Christmas lights

Throughout the house, fairy lights are one of my favourite decorations, all year long, really!  But it’s especially true come Christmastime, when they’re out in full force.  My favourite this year are these tiny green battery-operated lights decorating the Charlie Brown tree and the shelf around it.

O Holy Night sign

Another minor detail, but I absolutely love this tiny sign hung up in the living room.

O holy night sign

Stockings

Probably the most functional of our holiday decor!  While they aren’t hung by the chimney with care, I love the annual setup of the stocking along the stairs.

stockings

 

Joy Light

Mom picked up this tiny “Joy” sign to add to my personal holiday display and I love it!

joy light

Tiny tree

Amidst the many, many Christmas trees in and around the house (and my Charlie Brown tree!), this tiny tree stands out as yet another favourite.  Can a fake tree have personality? Because this one certainly seems to.  I insist that he needs a teeny tiny Santa hat, but Mom disagrees.

tiny christmas tree

Holiday cards

For years now, Mom has taken to displaying the cards we receive each year on a string of garland.  It adds such a lovely personal touch to the decorations!

Christmas Cards garland

(Literal) Sleigh Bells

The last of my personal decorations, Fitz loves this little sleigh of bells!

sleigh bells

Outdoors

To be entirely honest, I don’t spend too much time outside this time of year.  My health has enough issues without standing in below freezing temperatures for any amount of time! But, I do still have a few favourites from the outside Christmas decor.

Carl the Dinosaur

Or, Bob, depending on the day you’ve asked.  This light-up dinosaur is one of my all-time favourite Christmas decorations!

Carl the Dinosaur

Star

This star is gorgeous and so festive! “A star, a star dancing in the night . . . . “

Christmas star

Penguin

Unlike most of these, this little guy hangs out in the back yard.  But look at that face!

Penguin decor

Christmas Elephant

This holly jolly elephant also goes by Bob at least some of the time.

Christmas elephant

Parkway Holiday Duck

This one isn’t a part of our family’s decorations, but it’s a family favourite nevertheless.  Each year, the local borough decorates the town’s parkway with a variety of lit-up decorations.  One of them is this festive duck! Mom has long since declared him to be the best of the decorations–he’s even got his own Facebook “place!”

Parkway Holiday Duck

Tiny Reindeer

We’ve had the classic light-up reindeer for as long as I can remember, but we got this miniature one a few years back and I fell in love!  In my opinion, he’s the most important of the decorations.  Yet, he’s somehow not gone out this season!  I would have done so if myself if I had any idea where my family had put him last year.  But I had to mention him regardless!  #justicefortinyreindeer

Christmas Decor Tour

What are your favourite Christmas decorations?

Happy Blogmas

Holiday TV Episodes

My Favourite Holiday TV Episodes (Blogmas 2018, Day Twenty-Three)

Along with my favourite Christmas songs and movies, I’ve got quite a few favourite holiday TV episodes!  I considered combining Christmas specials with this post rather than the Christmas films earlier this Blogmas, but they ultimately fit better as movies.

After each episode, I’ll link to where you can watch them when I can.  If I haven’t found a spot and you know of one (a legal one, of course!), let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to add it!

Friends, “The One Where Ross Gets High”

In researching this post, I learnt that 90% of internet people pick “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” as their favourite.  Really, I wouldn’t call them wrong, per se–that’s also a fantastic episode.  But Rachel’s trifle ultimately takes the cake.

Watch on Netflix

The Office (US), “Dwight Christmas”

This was another show that had mixed opinions across the board and in my mind.  The Office (US) has several Christmas episodes which all have their merits.  For example, I love the teapot storyline from “Christmas Party” (2 x 10), but Michael’s treatment of the others during Yankee swap just makes me sad.

Ultimately, “Dwight Christmas” is probably my favourite of these.  Jim & Pam’s relationship has its struggles by this point (and it infuriates me to no end), but her pushing for a “Dwight Christmas” as the theme for the office Christmas party for his benefit is adorable.

Watch on Netflix

Supernatural, “A Very Supernatural Christmas”

From the insight this gives to the boys’ childhood to their “fudging” curse words, this is probably one of my favourite Supernatural episodes in general as well as a favourite Christmas episode.

Watch on Netflix

M*A*S*H, “Dear Dad”

In the very first season of this classic series, Hawkeye writes home to his father about life at the 4077 come Christmastime.  If you haven’t seen my earlier mentions here on the blog, I absolutely adore Alan Alda.  So, this episode is a must!

Watch on Hulu

Bob’s Burgers, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins”

Bob’s Burgers is another show that has quite a few stellar holiday episodes, but I think “God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins” is my favourite at the end of the day.  Chet’s story is just bizarre enough to leave the Belchers (and the audience) guessing and the strangeness, yet festivity of his window displays (excepting, perhaps, his penultimate) is fantastic.

Watch on Hulu

The Office (UK), “Christmas Special, Part 2”

This episode (which is also the show’s finale) solidified the original The Office‘s place as my technical favourite of the two (an unpopular opinion, I know–I’ve actually seen the US version several times through more, though!).  Dawn and Tim’s reunion makes for some of my all-time favourite television.

Watch on Hulu

Modern Family, “Express Christmas”

Modern Family also has quite a few Christmas episodes, but “Express Christmas” is my personal favourite.

Watch on Hulu

Adventure Time, “Holly Jolly Secrets”

This two-part episode concludes with our heroes starting a new holiday tradition–complete with Christmas sweaters!

Watch on Hulu

How I Met Your Mother, “Symphony of Illumination”

HIMYM is significantly more well-known for its Thanksgiving (well, Slapsgiving) episodes than other holidays (Halloween might have a shot, too, with the Slutty Pumpkin storyline), but it’s Christmas episodes are equally solid.

Watch on Hulu

Psych, “The Polarizing Express”

For as upbeat of a show as Psych tended to be, its Christmas episodes are remarkably limited (only three!).  Of those three, I think this one’s my personal favourite.

Could not find online

Holiday TV Episodes

What are your favourite holiday TV episodes?

Happy Blogmas

Holiday Cocktail Roundup

Holiday Cocktails (and Mocktails!) Roundup (Blogmas 2018, Day Twenty-One)

Admittedly, I’ll take just about any excuse to try some new cocktails.  But, Christmas and the rest of the holiday season is a pretty great excuse!  While I haven’t tried most of these just yet, I’ve done enough digging to know that these holiday cocktails sound absolutely amazing! Plus, they’re all either vegan or easily substituted to be.  And there are a few mocktails thrown in, too, or you could always make some substitutions to make them alcohol-free!

With lots of cranberries, peppermint, and other Christmas-y flavours, these holiday cocktails are perfect for a party, dinner, or other festive gatherings!

Jingle Juice Holiday Punch, Inspired by Charm

Despite only using a few ingredients, this Jingle Juice recipe looks delicious!

The Poinsettia, WeddingWire

Another super simple drink with just a few ingredients!

Mistletoe Cocktail, This Lil Piglet

Just substitute the honey with agave (or similar sweetener of choice) to make it vegan!

Berry Merry Christmas Cocktail, I’m Bored, Let’s Go

Berries, generally, might not be the first flavour to come to mind when I think “Christmas,” but this Berry Merry cocktail seems perfect!

Apple Pie on the Rocks, Vegan Yack Attack

It’s hard to go wrong with apple pie, but making it into a cocktail might just be the best idea yet.

Santa’s Hat Christmas Cocktail, The Kitchen is My Playground

I’ve never been a huge fan of coconut, but the adorable rim on Santa’s hat may be able to change this!

The Grinch, BoozeHouse

This proves it:  Mr. Grinch is anything but a mean one. Or, he certainly fits well with Christmas when this cocktail is concerned.

Happy Elf, MyRecipes

The description for this post puts it perfectly:

“Why should Santa be the only one who gets a treat on Christmas Eve? He can have the milk and cookies; we want to share this colorful cocktails with his favorite toy makers.”

Those elves work hard all year round to make toys–they deserve a drink!

Spicy Gingerman, Single Minded Women

Ginger beer is a personal favourite of mine, so this drink sounds especially yummy.

The Red Queen, Supergolden Bakes

This is based on Alice in Wonderland, but my brain immediately went to the Tudors and Phillippa Gregory’s series.  Either way, this seems oh-so-festive!

Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer, A House in the Hills

Prosecco is one of my all-time favourite things, and while I haven’t had pomegranate in ages, I love the flavour.  Rosemary sounds like the perfect complement!

Santa Claus-mopolitan, Blue Ribbon Kitchen

This one gets bonus points for that fantastic pun!

Winter Bourbon Smash, Minimalist Baker

I’m not sure that I’ve ever tried bourbon, but this seems like an excellent recipe to test it out.

Mulled Wine, Gimme Some Oven

You can’t get much more festive than mulled wine!

Holiday Mule, Home Sweet Jones

This festive mule is garnished with a gorgeous sugared cranberry to make it both delicious and beautiful!

Winter Sangria (currently unavailable as of 3/3/19), Baked New England

Sangria is always a good idea, whatever the occasion (or lack thereof).

Mulled Pomegranate Cider, The View from Great Island

Another delicious pomegranate concoction and this one is alcohol-free by default!  The recipe comes with some great tips for going alcohol-free, too.

Holiday Cocktail Roundup

Will you be trying any holiday cocktails or mocktails this season?

Happy Blogmas

A Murdered Peace

Book Blast: ​A Murdered Peace by Candace Robb

I’m super excited to join with some other wonderful book lovers for this book blast with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours! Read on to learn more about Candace Robb’s A Murdered Peace and be sure to check out the other book bloggers listed at the end of this post.

As always, be sure to check out our HFVBT tag and our books category for more great reads!

A Murdered Peace by Candace Robb

Publication Date: December 11, 2018
Pegasus Books
Paperback & eBook; 304 Pages
Series: Kate Clifford, Book 3
Genre: Historical Mystery

It is deep winter in York, 1400, the ground frozen, the short days dimmed with the smoke from countless fires, the sun, when it shines, low in the sky. It is rumored that the Epiphany Uprising, meant to relieve the realm of the Henry the usurper and return King Richard to the throne has, instead, spelled his doom. As long as Richard lives, he is a threat to Henry. So, too, the nobles behind the plot. The ringleaders have been caught, some slaughtered as they fled west by folk loyal to Henry, and the king’s men now search the towns for survivors.

A perilous time, made worse for Kate Clifford by the disappearance of Berend, her cook and confidante, shortly after Christmas. Her niece saw his departure in a dream—he said he was honor bound to leave. Honor bound—to a former lord? One of the nobles who led the uprising? Is he alive? She is hardly consoled when Berend reappears, wounded, secretive, denying any connection to the uprising, but refusing to explain himself. When he is accused of brutally murdering a spice seller in the city, Kate discovers a chest of jewels in his possession. Some of the jewels belong to her old friend Lady Margery, wanted by the king for her husband’s part in the uprising. For the sake of their long friendship, and the love she and her wards bear for him, Kate wants to believe his innocence. So, too, does Sir Elric. And he has the powerful backing of the Earl of Westmoreland. All she need do is confide in him. If only she trusted her heart.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

Praise for A Murdered Peace

“Those who meddle in the affairs of kings live to regret it. A…tale of love and murder set in a turbulent period when death and betrayal lurk around every corner.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Superior. Robb effortlessly integrates the era’s intrigues into a whodunit framework and peoples the plot with a wide array of characters readers will come to care about.” –Publishers Weekly (starred)

“A fine flowing narrative and a genuine sense of mystery and peril.” -Writers & Readers

About the Author


Candace Robb is the bestselling author of sixteen crime novels set in fourteenth century England, Wales, and Scotland, including the acclaimed Owen Archer series and the Margaret Kerr trilogy. Candace lives in Seattle, Washington.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, December 11
100 Pages a Day
Bookish Rantings

Wednesday, December 12
The Lit Bitch
Bri’s Book Nook
Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 13
Creating Herstory
Just One More Chapter

Friday, December 14
What Is That Book About
Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Saturday, December 15
Old Timey Books
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Sunday, December 16
Donna’s Book Blog
Hoover Book Reviews

Monday, December 17
The Writing Desk

Tuesday, December 18
A Book Geek
Tea Book Blanket

Wednesday, December 19
Umut Reviews
The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, December 20
Clarissa Reads it All
For the Sake of Good Taste

Friday, December 21
Jathan & Heather
Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed set of Candace Robb’s Kate Clifford series! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Murdered Peace