5 Ways to Find Your Holiday Spirit

5 Ways to Find Your Holiday Spirit

I love the holiday season, but as an adult with a full-time job and responsibilities, I feel unable to naturally unleash my Christmas cheer like I did as a child. I have to try harder to be aware of and fully experience this time of year.

In order words, I have to be intentional about feeling festive, which is unlike Christmastime during childhood. This is probably due to the stress and busyness that can come at this time of year. And so, I think now is one of the best times to practice being present in activities that can bring joy.

Children are experts at being in the moment and exuding merriment. Here are 5 suggestions I have to seize and embrace the holiday spirit with the gusto of a child:

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Decorate like Buddy the Elf

It is impossible not to feel a touch of glee when you come home and plug in strands of string lights. If you’re feeling particularly grinchy this year, don’t be afraid to go over the top. I live in a studio apartment and have 7 strands of lights lining the walls, 3 mini Christmas trees, plus lights and a tree on my balcony. When I come home from work, I don’t need any lights on except my Christmas lights. The vibes are warm and cozy. Next step: paper snowflakes.

Watch Your Favorite Holiday Flick

If you haven’t watched any holiday movies yet, it’s time. Turn one on, and turn your phone off. Dedicate your night to the viewing and focus on the film. Suggestions: Elf, Christmas Vacation, Holiday Inn, Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, Love Actually, Christmas in Connecticut, Charlie Brown Christmas. I would say It’s a Wonderful Life, but I save that one for Christmas Eve. Preferably watch your choice with a cup of hot cocoa or cider in hand.

Indulge in a Christmas Activity

If you’re in Nashville, go to Cheekwood Holiday Lights where you can stay warm with a festive cocktail and stroll through their gorgeous display. Or perhaps their Holiday Afternoon Tea suits you, in which you can sip wintertime teas and munch on tasty treats provided by Crumb de la Crumb Bakery.

Go to a Festive Show

My three top picks are the It’s a Wonderful Life viewings at the BelcourtHome Alone in concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and Nashville’s Nutcracker at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Get your tickets for these shows now because they are all likely to sell out! Each one is sure to get you in the Christmas mood.

Take a Drive

When I was little, my dad used to drive me around to look at Christmas lights. These days, I forget to do this – I never just “go for a drive,” but am always driving from point A to point B. Go out one night with the simple goal of viewing holiday decorations. It’s an experience that’s sure to stir up some childhood memories and Christmas nostalgia.

 

How’s your holiday spirit? Hopefully these tips get you feeling a little more like post-Clarence George Bailey. And if you didn’t catch that reference, go watch It’s a Wonderful Life right now.

Love, Bee

 

5 Ways to Declutter Before the Holidays

5 Ways to Declutter Before the Holidays

The holidays are upon us: Thanksgiving is little more than a week away, and Christmas will come flying soon after. This weekend is the perfect time to declutter, clean, and rejuvenate your home before it gets re-cluttered with decor and gifts galore.

Here are my tips for refreshing your space before the holidays:

Store away your summer clothes.

If you haven’t done this already, it’s time. Pack up your summer wear or rearrange your closet so that winter clothing is front and center. As you move your summer pieces, make a pile of items you didn’t wear this past season to give away. I always donate summer clothes in the winter and winter clothes in the summer, based on whether I wore them the previous season or not. If I didn’t, I say goodbye.

Clear out the fridge.

You’re going to have double the food in your fridge over the holidays, so it’s time for a deep clean. Take each item out, toss everything old, and wipe it down. It’s an easily procrastinated task, but if you buckle down and do it, you’ll feel so satisfied when it’s done.

Switch out summer items.

Scan your home. If you still have summer magazine issues lying around, lightweight blankets, and floral candles, put them up in favor of cozier decor and cedar scents.

…But don’t junk up the closet.

It can be easy to put everything in a closet, and feel like you’ve decluttered. In fact, you’re just cluttering up a closet. Be disciplined and donate anything you haven’t really used in the past year. Things like candles, vases, and purposeless gifts are often stored and forgotten. Don’t just put things away – get them out of your home completely if they aren’t being used.

Take it in small bites.

It can be overwhelming to tackle everything in a weekend. If reading this stresses you out, then you probably just need to take it in stages. Give yourself five minutes per day – that’s it – and accomplish one task. For instance: Clear out one drawer. Pick just five items to give away. Designate a clear spot for Christmas cards.

Just focusing on one task per day for five minutes will give you instant satisfaction and get you into a routine of slowly decluttering day by day.

 

When do you like to refresh your home? Do you have any tips for doing so? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Love, Bee

 

5 Ways to Take Advantage of the Time Change

5 Ways to Take Advantage of the Time Change

Last week, I wrote about 4 spots to get cozy post-time change. Now, we’re here. DST is over, and last night, we experienced our first longer evening. I found myself yawning before dinnertime, sleepily disoriented in the darkness of my apartment at 5 p.m.

I’ve come up with suggestions to make the most of this extra hour of nighttime. Instead of succumbing to feelings of laziness and gloom, here are 5 productive ways to take advantage of the switch:

1. Do a puzzle

Puzzles are good for your brain! They keep you alert, improve memory, and exercise the mathematical, analytical parts of your mind. Section off an area of living space and keep the puzzle going continuously. It’s a perfect nighttime activity to do solo or when guests are over – people are often attracted to puzzles!

2. Plan a trip

There’s nothing like planning a vacation to brighten your mood – no matter how far in advance the trip may be! I have weekend guides for Nashville, New York City, Chicago, and D.C. so there’s no need to look far if you’re craving a fall/winter city escape.

3. Practice mindfulness

It can be easy to get in a funk when the days change. If you need some centering, try my easy tips for living mindfully. Something as simple as establishing a home yoga practice can completely change your mood and outlook.

4. Accomplish a goal

Set aside this extra hour of darkness and dedicate it to accomplish something. Perhaps you write, read, or exercise. Maybe there’s a home project you’ve been procrastinating. You might even wake up an hour earlier in the morning (when it’s lighter) and take a morning jog. If you pretend that you actually do have an extra hour in the day, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done, because you’ll believe that you have the time and feel more focused.

5. Decorate for the season

There are few things that cheer me up more than buying flowers for the house or decorating for the holidays. This November, put some energy into giving your home a warm, cozy, autumn, Thanksgiving vibe with orange accents and natural elements. Once December hits, go all-out with your holiday decorations. Decorating always brightens my mood and makes me feel both productive and festive!

I hope these ideas help! Please let me know some of your favorite ways to spend these longer evenings!

Love, Bee

How I Decorated My Studio Apartment

How I Decorated My Studio Apartment

My apartment is simple and clean. I love it and feel super cozy every time I curl up on my couch. Although I am certainly no expert decorator, I often get compliments on my apartment and have been asked where I bought certain items. I am going to share how I went about decorating my own apartment. My ideas might be particularly helpful if you are new to Nashville, are moving into a new space, or are moving into a smaller apartment. Here, I’m just focusing on the living room:

Getting Started

Because I live in a smaller apartment, I opted for smaller pieces. I don’t like when a small space is bombarded by big furniture. I prefer the furniture to match the room! I believe this opens up the space and makes the room seem bigger than it actually is.

This may seem obvious, but always measure a room and compare it to the measurements of furniture before you buy the furniture! You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by furniture that is too big or too small. If you are moving to a new city and haven’t seen the space in person yet, ask for the dimensions.

Once you start picking out pieces, choose a color scheme and stick to it. I opted for grays and blues and did not let myself stray, no matter how much I liked a piece. I wanted the room to feel soft and cohesive.

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Purchasing Pieces

I’ll share where I bought the pieces in my apartment. All of these are well-loved by me, or I wouldn’t recommend them!

The CouchWinslow Armless Sleeper Sofa at Urban Outfitters

The Coffee Table – Rashmi Carved Coffee Table at Urban Outfitters; Unfortunately, this is no longer available, but here is another simple gray one

The RugHeidi Overdyed Block Print Rug at Urban Outfitters

The Pillows – I have two sets of pillows on my couch. One set is the Chunky Cotton Knit Pillows from Urban, which are no longer available. The other set is from Target, and they’re so lovely and comfy. I didn’t see the exact set that I purchased online, but I bet you’ll find something similar if you check in stores!

The Bar Stools Button Counter Stools from Houzz

The MirrorRectangle Decorative Wall Mirror from Target

Corner Floor LampShelf Floor Lamp from Target

The Plants – Plants really give a room some life! The table plant is from Creekside, and the window succulents are from both Creekside and Trader Joe’s. The vase and artificial white flowers beside the kitchen sink are from Michaels.

Any other pieces you see – the side tables, the TV stand – were given to me by family members. Never forget to ask loved ones if they have any pieces they’ve been wanting to give away!

This is my living room in its true state. I always have a candle (or two, or three) out, usually lit. Blankets to snuggle with drape on the couch. I always keep recent magazines on my coffee table for friends to flip through (and change them seasonally), and I read daily, so there will always be a book there.

It’s important to keep your space true to yourself! It’s your home, and you want to be happy there!

I hope this post helps – Please feel free to ask me anything else about my home or decorating tips in the comments.

Love, Bee

The Beauty of Impermanence

The Beauty of Impermanence

The current state of my balcony

Each season, we seek and purchase the impermanent: tulips in spring, hydrangeas in summer, mums in fall, pansies in winter. We relish blooming trees, falling leaves, pumpkins on porches, holly draping windows. We know these things will vanish, that we will have to toss them aside. But we want them anyway.

Every December of my childhood, I watched my dad bring the Christmas tree into the living room through wide eyes, full of joy and wonder. I decorated the tree with such care, fully immersed in the experience, as though nothing else mattered and the holiday would never end.

It always did. My eyes would fill with tears as I watched my dad carry the tree, dry and starting to brown, to the curb, where it would lay, still and cold and somber.

But this process would repeat year after year, and I was a willing participant. I knew what would inevitably happen after the New Year. I celebrated with gusto even so, because it was transient, and I didn’t want to miss a thing.

To have something that lives and breathes in your home can feel refreshing and sweet – perhaps flowers from a loved one. It can be emotional and melancholy – a consolation arrangement. Or joyful and nostalgic, like a Christmas tree.

The potted plant, the tree, the bouquet – these bring real feelings into our homes. They never last, but they are welcome and enjoyable for a time.

The things in life that seem sweetest are often fleeting. And they are beautiful because of their impermanence.

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What beautiful, impermanent things have you welcomed into your home lately? Tell me about it in the comments.

Love, Bee

4 Easy Ways to Live Mindfully

4 Easy Ways to Live Mindfully

There is a lot of buzz around mindfulness these days. It can get overwhelming, but I think there is value in practicing being mindful when you need to slow down. I know I can get caught up in the day-to-day, particularly teaching; once you get into a solid routine with work, every day can feel like groundhog’s day. To me, taking time to stop and just be calms me down and grounds me in the present moment. When I stop, I remember who I am and what I want.

I think anyone can practice mindfulness, and it can be rather easy to implement this practice into your daily routine. You could start today, right now. Here are 4 easy ways that I practice living mindfully:

1. Establish a home yoga practice. 

Guys, this is so easy. Trust me. I highly recommend getting started with Yoga with Adriene. She has a free, online practice for all levels and all needs. Seriously! She gets as specific as having videos for dancers, for the classroom, for golfers, for mood swings, for headaches, and so much more. She has everything from 5-minute morning videos to 45-minute flow videos. I started with her 30 Days of Yoga series – it got me in a routine of doing yoga at home every day. She is a funny, sweet instructor (I have even taken a class from her in real life!) and so relatable. Try establishing your own home yoga practice! It’s so worth it.

2. Try a meditation app.

I use Simple Habit (they have a free and premium version). Their free On the Go series provides 5, 10, and 20-minute sessions for sleep, work, commuting, and more. For premium users, they regularly add new series to their collection – their topics vary from focus and well-being to resilience and relationships. Never underestimate the power of a little deep breathing.

3. Journal daily. 

I write every night before bed in my journal about my day, thoughts, feelings, and observations. I also write a short poem. Not only is this a vital release at the end of my day, but it is fun to look back at previous entries! I’ve been doing this for years and am always glad to have my thoughts down on paper.

4. Take a walk or run, without headphones. 

Go to the park, but don’t take headphones with you. Just walk (or run) by yourself, and listen to the world around you. You will be more aware of your surroundings and the people around you. You may even stop to have an enlightening conversation with a stranger, or at least pet a cute dog!

How do you feel about practicing mindfulness? What is your favorite way to be mindful? Would love to hear about it in the comments!

Love, Bee