Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Favorites: Christmas Edition

Happy Friday Everyone!!! 

I can't believe that that another weekend has already rolled around. I don't know about you, but for me, this week literally flew by in the blink of an eye.

Only one more week of school & one final before Christmas break! 

I am kicking off the excitement with another link-up of Friday Favorites with some of my favorite bloggers. Check out Andrea's blog called MomfessionalsErika's blog called A Little Bit of Everything, and Narci's blog called Grace and Love. Their blogs are so inspiring and they are a must read!

My mind is blown that it is already December! Christmas is officially on my mind all day everyday and there is no turning back now. 

1. Christmas movies on Netflix are my FAVORITE! 
I will be the first to admit that I have a slight obsession with Netflix and I have a feeling that my obsession is going to continue to grow stronger as soon as all 10 seasons of Friends are available as well. 

But until then, I am embracing the holidays to their fullest potential and packing in as many Christmas movies as possible. 

If you want a real tear jerker I recommend watching The Heart of Christmas. It is based on a true story and is so inspiring.

The Mistle Tones by ABC Family is such a great movie! The story line involves a talented young singer who starts her own music group after being rejected by the legendary group her late mother started. 

A Christmas Kiss is the perfect holiday romance movie. It is all about a designer who is in charge of decorating a house for a huge Christmas party. It is quite precious if I do say so myself.

2. Pretty packaging is one of my FAVORITES!
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is buying and making presents. There is just something special and exciting about giving the ones you love a thoughtful and meaningful gift that you know they will adore.

And the cherry on top of buying Christmas presents is getting to come home and wrap all of them adding a little creative spin!

Here are some of my inspirations when it comes to gift wrapping this holiday season. I am head over heals in love with brown craft paper. I am loving the simplicity of the look. 

Could this be any cuter for the little kiddos in your life? Kids are always so anxious to unwrap their gifts, now they can color a little picture while they patiently wait for their turn. This idea is brilliant.

Gift tags are the perfect finishing touch! Below are two free gift tag set printables that I am using this year. I am oohing and ahhing over how cute each and every one is.

#3. Purdue's Christmas sweatshirts are my fav.
I obviously love Purdue, but I love them even more now that they sell Purdue Christmas sweatshirts. They aren't going light on the options either! They have four festive ones to choose from.

I bought the first one for me and then went back and purchased one for my mom for her birthday!

What 22 year old doesn't dress like this when they help their mom decorate for Christmas? ;) 

#4. The fact that this semester is wrapping up is my favorite!
But, the fact that we still have to take finals is not so much my favorite.

But, no need to fret, read my blog post all about "Luke's" top ten tips for making finals week more bearable. You don't want to miss out! Click here to read it!

#5. My Mom's cookies are my fav!
You can imagine my excitement when I arrived home for Thanksgiving break and saw my mom hard at work in the kitchen making these...

Can't say I was too disappointed to see dozens of cookies awaiting my arrival.

To get the recipe for these delicious Buckeye Brownie Cookies click here. Taste of Lizzy T's has so many amazing ideas! 

I shamefully ate about five of these cookies every morning for breakfast while I was home. They are delightful. I just could not resist. They melt in your mouth and are heavenly. 

To get the recipe for these scrumptious Oreo Peppermint Crunch Cookies from Inside Bru Crue Life click here.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Finals Week Has Nothing On You

Well folks, the dreadfull moment that we have all been having nightmares about since the first day of the semester is finally here. 


#sarcasm. know what I'm saying?

And I would be lying if I didn't admit that I may cross my fingers in hopes of a curve, a very large curve.

But before you start stressing out to the max and begin hooking yourself up to an IV of coffee, let me take a second to inform you that my dearest of all friends, Luke is here to help. He is always saving the day isn't he? ;)

1. Eat, eat & eat some more.
  • Start the day off with a nice, healthy breakfast to get your brain working! 
  • From past experience I find that eating three big meals tends to weigh me down both physically and mentally. I have found that eating 5-6 well balanced, smaller portioned meals are much lighter and leave me feeling full and refreshed. 

Here are a few ideas:

The Simplest, Lightest, Easiest Tuna Salad Ever! from Green Lite Bites. For the recipe click here.

Cooking Classy has the hottest recipe for hummus around and my taste buds do a happy dance whenever I make it. For the recipe click here.

You can never go wrong with a little guacamole and chips combo. I am convinced that no two foods compliment each other as well. I Heart Naptime stole my heart with this delicious guacamole recipe.

Scrambled Eggs or an Omelet. For the tricks on how to whip up this delicious Omega Omelette by Therese Kerr click here.

Lemon Thistle put a fun little spin on peanut butter toast and created a heavenly snack for finals week. To see for yourself click here
  • If the options above aren't your cup of tea search for foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are found in certain fish, nuts and oils are BRAIN BOOSTING acids that can potentially reduce test anxiety.

2. Sleep!

No, but really! Don't forget to chuck up the deuces and say "peace out, finals" in order to get an adequate amount of heavenly slumber every night. It will lead to more effective studying and it will help your GPA in the end.

Michael Howell, M.D., assistant professor with the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota reveals in an health talk article the importance of refraining from pulling all-nighters, especially during finals week! He suggests finding a balancing between sleeping in and keeping a consistent wake-up schedule. In order to keep your body and mind from going all crazy and out of whack, it is best to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

3. Be organized & have a plan of attack!
  • First off, determine how many finals you have and when they are. This will allow you to plan out which finals you need to prepare for first. 
  • Once you are aware of the information that will be on each final exam, organize your notes. 
    • I organize all of the pertinent class notes, book notes, power points, articles, ect. into stacks for each final exam. 
    • I then create a "To Do List" study plan of everything I want to complete before I take the final exam. 
    • Lastly, I label my stack of notes with a sticky and specify the course, date, location & time of the exam, as well as any other relevant information I may find helpful. 
Here is an example of how I organized the material for one of my finals this semester.

4. Temporarily forget your Netflix password.
Remove distractions from your life for the time being. As much as I would love to binge watch Christmas movies all. week. long. I attempt to remain off of Netflix. Note I used the word attempt. I willingly admit that sometimes the urge becomes too much and Netflix wins. 

5. Switch Things Up! 
If you aren't retaining the information you are studying, mix it up and try a new method! 

1. Quiz yourself.
2. Draw it out.
3. Write it out.
4. Find a study buddy & discuss it.
5. Teach it to someone.
6. Watch it! Utilize all that YouTube has to offer!
7. Hear it! Re-listen to a lecture or listen to a friend explain it.
8. Read it. Dig into that fun-filled, information overload textbook of yours! 
9. Make notecards. I love using online notecards. For the past few semesters I have been using a free website called Study Blue and have really found it helpful.

6. Take Breaks!
Exercise will help to reduce stress, so get your blood a pumping, friends. Below are some resources to help you find the perfect stress-relieving exercise that will help you push through finals week with flying & healthy colors!

Lifescript's Top 9 Exercises for Stress Relief
Village Green Network's Breathing Exercises-Reduce Stress
Skinny Mom's 7 Exercises to Relieve Stress
Spark People's 5 Minutes to Less Stress Yoga

7. Be Intrinsically Motivated & Stay Positive
Here is what I find helps me:
  • Make a list of why you are doing what you are doing!
    • For me, I have dreams to go to graduate school, to be a successful business owner, mother and wife. As cheesy as it may be, when I feel like giving up, I remember the importance of my college degree in regards to my future plans and make myself keep pushing along.
  • Put your trust in the Lord and turn to scripture. 
    • Awhile back I blogged about 10 Encouraging Bible Verses to help you overcome test anxiety. I also refer back to these uplifting God-breathed words to help me stay positive in time of stress and uncertainty.
  • Pump yourself up with some confidence-boosting music.  
    • Bustle has 14 songs that will kick your motivation into gear within minutes.

 8. If you enter into panic mode, find something to relieve the stress!
Take a few punches to your pillow and you should be good to go! I'm joking, kinda. But in all honesty....

Here are a few more constructive options:
  • Listen to instrumental Christmas music
  • Be productive in a non-academic way for a bit & tidy up your room or do laundry
  • Pack your bag for Christmas break
  • Read your Bible or watch an online sermon
  • Take a 5-minute break and focus on breathing deeply to help lower your blood pressure. 
  • Reach out and talk to your other friends who are going through the same experience and bond over the stressful life of being a college student.
  • Just an FYI: I recommend refraining from retail therapy. Online shopping got the best of my checking account last year during finals week. 

9. Find the perfect location & get comfortable.
For me, if I am going to be studying, especially for longer periods of time, I want to be comfortable while I am doing. My method, no matter how crazy it may seem, is to enhance your study environment to whatever best suits your style

My friends make fun of me because I bring my heated blanket wrap with me whenever I study at the library. I am not ashamed of it. I quite frankly think they are the ones missing out. It's pure bliss people. 

They are currently still on Post-Cyber Monday sale for only $39.99. To order one like mine from Sunbeam click here.

  And of course Starbucks never lets me down when it comes to the perfect study location. 

And Christmas cups make studying a little more bearable and comforting as well if I do say so myself.

And could this e-card be anymore on-point? I think not. I find it comforting studying with my besties, even if we aren't in the same major, it is nice to be going through the stress of finals week together. 

My sweet and hilarious friend Rach has been quite the loyal study buddy this semester! 

I absolutely adore this girl to pieces and I am thankful for her accountability and encouragement on the daily.

Other things to note when determining a studying location.
Find an area with:
  • Good Lighting-It will increase your productivity and concentration
  • No Clutter-a cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind
  • An Energizing Atmosphere-enhance your atmosphere through colors and scents. Light a candle or flip on a Scentsy. Shades of red, orange, and yellow are stimulating and exciting colors.

10. Think Christmas!
The greatest part of winter finals is that as soon as the week is all over, you can spend every waking moment thinking about Christmas and partaking in Christmas fun! The reward of successfully making it through another finals week could not be any better, my friends!

Whenever you feel defeated, Think Christmas! I'm telling you, it works! ;)

Good luck on your finals, everyone! Luke and I are cheering you on! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Deck The Halls!

To say that I love Christmas is an understatement. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year! Celebrating Jesus' birth, spending time with friends and family, buying Christmas gifts and of course decorating the whole house with Christmas decorations! I just love every single thing about it!

My mom and I always have fun decorating together!  
This is us mid decorating! My dad came through in the clutch and made us each hot cocoa in cute little Christmas mugs, while we were hard at work :)

I completely spaced and forgot to take pictures of everything when we were finished! It was a two day here is the aftermath of Day 1: Project Deck the Halls for Christmas! :)

The Kitchen Decor! 

Christmas mugs, candy cane hot cocoa, and santa plates!

 Oh and of course santa napkins too! :)

Every year before Christmas my mom's parents get each grandkid a new cookie cutter! We display some of our favorites on a small little tree in the kitchen.

The dining room is always snowmen themed! 

Our dinning room tree with tree with snowman ornaments!

And our living room is always Santa themed! 

So there you have it! Some of my family's holiday decorations! Later I will be sharing pictures of our tree & filling you all in on our special tree decorating traditions!

Have a great Tuesday, friends!