Happy Holidays! I can’t believe it is already December — and 2024 is less than a month away! I am taking the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s off work, and I am so excited for an extended break. Unlike the last few years when I’ve traveled over the holidays, I am staying put this year, and excited to decompress from 2023 and get ready for the New Year at home. My last trip of the year will be to New York City next week for work — it’s always fun being in the city during the holidays!
I wanted to pop in with a quick life lately post and share some of the happenings around here — you can check out my last life lately post here. I hope you all are eating, drinking, and being merry during this very busy time of year! x
THANKSGIVING KOOZIES —
My best friend Emma has a big Catholic family like my own, and has long made koozies for their annual Thanksgiving celebration. I always loved the idea — so in 2021, I decided to celebrate the fact that we could all be together for Thanksgiving dinner once again by making ‘Urban Family Thanksgiving’ koozies to mark the occasion. They were a hit, and I’ve made them each year since. I design them myself in Adobe InDesign — though I use Adobe Illustrator some, too! — and then have them printed at Totally Promotional. We like this can cooler product because it’s very high quality and has nice stitching on the side so it’s easy to fold down in a pocket and take on the go.
I posted about these koozies over on my Instagram, and actually ended up winning Totally Promotional’s weekly contest. The prize is a $150 gift card, so next year’s koozies are already financed! I’ve also made koozies for my sister’s college graduation, and more recently, my dad’s retirement party. It’s a fun way to mark a special occasion and offer guests a party favor all in one!
LUCKETTS HOLIDAY HOUSE —
One of my favorite, newer annual traditions is to visit the Old Lucketts Store Holiday House with my mom and sisters! (I wrote about our visit in 2022 here and our visit in 2021 here. One of my photos from 2021 was also featured last year in Country Living Magazine, which I shared about here.) On the property of the Old Lucketts Store, an antique + gift shop that’s open year-round, they turn a farmhouse into a magical shopping experience called the Holiday House. Right outside the Holiday House are cute murals and photo moments, as well as a bar and fire pit so you can enjoy your visit even more. You do need to purchase tickets to enter the Holiday House, but it really helps ensure a pleasant experience crowd-control wise — and there is champagne, coffee and tea (and liquors to spike your drink with!), and cookies to enjoy while shopping.
We went on a recent Saturday and had so much fun! The creativity they put into the house each year is unparalleled — each room is turned into a different style of Christmas vignette, and most of the items in each room are for sale. We usually do a few laps around the house because there are so many beautiful things to look at! This year, I purchased some brass candlesticks and vintage-inspired glass ornaments — they always have the best selection of the latter.
Once we were done shopping at the Holiday House, we went over to the Old Lucketts Store — which you don’t need tickets for! — to shop around. They have an amazing collection of antiques, and I ended up purchasing several pieces of art for a new gallery wall I am working on, along with some old Reader’s Digest books that had beautiful covers and spines. (In my opinion, you can never have too many books on hand to style throughout your home!)
MARTIN’S TAVERN AT CHRISTMASTIME —
For my 30th birthday, my sister Jennifer took me out for dinner instead of giving me a physical gift — and we had the best time, so we’ve kept up the tradition. The first year we went, I wanted to go to Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, and we loved it so much that I’ve requested to go back every subsequent year. So last weekend, we went on our annual dinner to Martin’s Tavern in celebration of my 33rd birthday!
Before heading over to the restaurant, we did a little happy hour at my place. During the pandemic, my family digitized all our home videos, and we love watching them together and laughing at our younger selves. It’s fun to see how our personalities shone through at a very young age. One of our favorite home videos to watch is Christmas 1995 — once we’re done unwrapping our presents from Santa, I immediately begin to clean up and find all my new toys and organized home, whereas Jennifer’s gifts are strewn about and she fully begins enjoying them immediately. That describes our personalities to a T even until this day!
Martin’s Tavern is a classic American restaurant in Georgetown, and it’s got a long, storied history in DC — it was the hangout of many Presidents and Senators, and JFK even proposed to Jackie there. (A lot of the booths are named after their famous patrons!) I love it year-round, but it is especially magical at Christmastime — they have decorations everywhere, an amazing Christmas playlist going, and it offers up a really fun, cozy, unpretentious atmosphere.
We both love their New England Clam Chowder, so we started with that, and then I ordered their Cobb salad as my main. Jennifer told them it was my birthday, and they do it up right at Martin’s — they came out with a huge sparkler, a dessert, and a rousing rendition of happy birthday that included them banging spoons on our wine cooler. It was such a fun night and a great way to celebrate another trip around the sun!
I BOUGHT MY MAZDA CX-5! —
If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember that in November 2020, I leased a Mazda CX-5 — my biggest Black Friday purchase to date, hah! I had signed a three-year lease, so late this summer, I started to think about what I wanted to do when my lease was up. (The past three years really flew by — this snuck up on me!)
I love my Mazda CX-5 — affectionally called the Mazderati or the Zoom Zoom —and am so glad I leased it. It’s low maintenance, reliable, and very fun to drive. I also put way less miles on it than my lease had allotted for, so in addition to wanting to keep it, I knew it was in my best financial interest to keep it — versus handing it back over to the dealership. (When I singed my lease three years ago, they set the price of what a buyout would cost, and that amount was cheaper than what I could sell it for on the used car market. So if I wanted to turn around and sell the car for a profit, I could.)
In late September, I started the process to buy my car — I did it early because I had already decided and just wanted to get it done. It was a relatively smooth process, but the paperwork at the dealership took forever (huge shoutout to my dad for suffering through that with me!) and then they accidentally gave me the long license plates. So that took a few weeks to sort out, but now the car is officially mine, with the correct license plates and all.
If you’re in the market for a compact SUV, I cannot say enough great things about my Mazda CX-5! My first cars were Honda Civics, which are also great cars, but I love being a little bit higher up on the road and having more space for luggage on trips — or my random Goodwill furniture finds.
A TRIP TO DURHAM TO SEE MY GRANDMA —
I am lucky enough to have Veteran’s Day off work, and since it was on a Saturday this year, it was observed on a Friday. This meant I had a three-day weekend. To take advantage, I decided to go visit my 94-year-old Grandma in Durham, North Carolina. My sisters and my parents came as well, and my mom’s three sisters were also in town. So we had quite the reunion!
It was great to spend some quality time with my grandma — we had a very low-key weekend, watching a lot of football, enjoying some North Carolina barbecue, and reminiscing about the crazy and funny things we used to do at her house when we were kids.
+ Last month, I wrote about the new tower fan I purchased for my bedroom, which I am still loving — but I also wanted to share how much I am loving my Hatch Restore. I purchased it earlier this year because it came highly recommended from my sister and because I wanted a more aesthetic alarm clock for my nightstand. (My old one was very simple — black with the classic red numbers.) Since getting it in April, I’ve used the alarm clock function — I have it set up so that thirty minutes before I wake up, there is a “sunrise” designed to make the room lighter and wake me up more naturally. Because my room gets a lot of natural light, I’m accustomed to sleeping through it, so this only works for me part of the time, but when it does, it’s a much less jarring wakeup experience than when I’m awoken to the sound of my alarm. Recently, however, though I’ve been using it at night as a white noise machine, and that has made me have a newfound appreciation for my Hatch. It has an amazing, life-like fan sound, and you can control the volume to your preferences. It’s been really nice on these colder nights to keep the fan off — I used to sleep with it on every night for the noise and now I don’t have to.
+ This $6 Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid Serum is one of my new skincare holy grail products. Though it has acid in the name, HA is really meant for moisturizing and helps my skin so much during these dry, cold winter months. I use it every morning and evening very liberally — and when I went for a hydrafacial recently, the esthetician asked me what I was using because my skin was so hydrated. This would also make a great stocking stuffer for any mom, sister, daughter, or aunt in your life!