More Pinterest Adventures.

Feeling confident with recent Pinterest project success, I decided to give it another go using this as inspiration:

An adorable snowman made out of all those socks we never seem to be able to find the match for!

Using the instructions available here, Adrian and his nephews and I were able to come up with these little snowmen:
Imperfections and all, I think they're wonderful. Plus we honestly had such a good time making them.
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Be Merry.

In my family, there are holiday rules, which include only taking up enough space on the couch for one person. This means no laying down post-Christmas brunch. Rules are strictly enforced.

May your Christmas be filled with as many loved ones as can fit on one couch, sitting up. 
And may your couch be ginormous.

Merry Christmas, my loves.
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Update: Pinterest Inadequacies.

Perhaps you're thinking that I've been spending the majority of my vacation lounging around. And while you would be mostly right, you would not be entirely right. And I ought to receive credit for that. 

Last week, I posted about my attempts at Pinterest glory. I was quite pleased with how my last ornament turned out so I decided to make a couple more. Adrian even figured out how to how do a two-color combination, which I adore.

If you haven't tried this little project, I definitely recommend it. It's actually quite relaxing.

What are you doing to enjoy the last few days of the season?

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Pinterest inadequacies.

I, like most everyone else in the world, love Pinterest. Not only does it provide me with endless hours of brainless entertainment, it also offers me numerous opportunities to feel entirely inadequate, leaving me wishing for a grander bank account, an enviable talent and an ability to consume any and all baked goods without gaining an ounce of weight.

Please feel free to check it out, in hopes that you, too, might feel just as terrible as the rest of us.

Every now and then, however, I actually venture out of my living room and into the world in search of materials to create whichever craft I have found on pinterest that piques my fancy. Generally, I more or less gather said materials and, without ever reading directions (as that would require effort), I assemble the craft. Being that I have little to no craft know-how, I fail miserably, vow to never post pictures of failed attempts on the blog and throw out the evidence.

Thankfully, I do have one talent. And that is that I rarely remember the awful feeling of failure for more than four to six minutes. Which, conveniently, is just enough time to scout out a new inspirational photo on Pinterest.

So, my friends, this all brings me to my main point. Before I post any pictures, I would like to mention the pictures I won't post. Those are of the failed attempts that preceded. Einstein (I think...) said that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. That's roughly how I like to tackle projects. Luckily for me, a friend of mine was over and tried the project once, thoughtfully reflected on what went wrong, and decided to try again but with a variation in the method. Success. I then merely copied her. Thanks, Lexi!

Alright then. Source of inspiration:

Yes. Glitter on the inside, making it possible for my husband to decorate the Christmas tree, manhood intact. No chance of glitter escapees residing on his face ever again.

And mine:

But an ornament isn't an ornament unless it's on a tree, right? Right. I hoped you'd say that.

So there you have it. A Pinterest project come to life. For full instructions, click on the inspiration picture. I recommend reading them prior to rather than after. 

For more Christmas excitement and photography, click on over to the Tolton Center Blog in the next couple of days to see some ridiculously cute kids.

*quotation and inspiration photo via Click for links. Other photos are mine, mine, mine. Photo template via That woman is a genius.
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Breakfast with Santa.

This weekend my pre-marriage roommate and I threw a little Christmas party. It was delightful. We wanted to do something a little different than we've done in previous years so we invited everyone to join us in their pajamas for a Breakfast with Santa! We provided homemade eggnog mini donuts, sand dollar pancakes, mini quiches, cinnamon buns and everything lovely and breakfasty. And if that wasn't wonderful enough, Santa made an appearance. He passed out gifts and stockings. He even stuck around to take photos with guests. Such a good party. 

We may have started a new holiday tradition. 
Holler if you'd like eggnog donuts because they were amazing. 

*photo template and little extras can be found at puglypixel
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Happy December!

I am in shock that it is December. Every year December seems to sneak up behind. Not unlike my little brother. When we were young, he used to entertain himself by alerting me to an impending scare.

"Em, I'm going to jump out around the corner and scare you in 30 seconds," he'd call out.

And sure enough, in 30 seconds, he'd jump out and scare the living bejeeeeeezus out of me. Every time.

December is like that. Every November, I look at the calendar, make my plans, and book a flight home as December calls out to me, "Emily, just like last year, I will arrive in approximately 30 days and scare the daylights out of you." And every December 1st, I'm caught entirely off guard. Honestly, every year.

And though I knew in my head it was coming, I am found utterly unprepared. Our tree remains in its box. Advent calendar tucked away. Ornaments in their little plastic tubes.

After every good scare from my brother, an even greater laugh always followed.

And just like that, I intend to have a good little laugh that somehow I let time slip away from me and then I'll start to celebrate the season. To set aside my other responsibilities for a bit and enjoy December. With a tree. Lights. Ornaments. And the little traditions Adrian and I began last year.

Happy December, my friends!

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Being away from my family is always that much more difficult on holidays. Were I home, I would be laying on the couch at my aunt's with my sister, my cousin and my dad. We would probably be watching that Dog Show that I don't care much about but I watch anyways. And my uncle would be asking why we have to watch it every year, just like he does every year. Traditions, friends. I love traditions. And it's hard to know those traditions continue when I cannot be there.

But since I'm not there, Adrian and I are making the most of Thanksgiving. We'll be cooking and baking and eating and relaxing.

So today I am thankful for a husband who works incredibly hard and hardly complains (and is currently at work...). And for my nephews who keep me company while he works, who wake me up in time to watch the parade, who spill juice on my white rug and who excite at the sight of each and every parade balloon. And for their mother who lends me their company when I need them. I am thankful for my little apartment which has become our little home. For video chat when family is so far away. And for this distance which has forced me to learn to make my grandmother's incredible whipped cream and my mother's pumpkin pie. 

I am thankful for my family far away, my husband whom I adore and my family of little nephews, who always have a hug to share.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Keep close.

Keep close, my friends. I'm working on some beautiful additions to this blog. Wish me luck!

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A thousand beginnings.

I've tried all night to write to you. Perhaps thirty stories have started. And none have been finished. There is so much I want to tell you all. About how I'm doing better. About how supportive my husband is. About my cousins. About small joys. About learning as I teach. About anxiety. About reorganizing. About my dad.

And yet nothing seems quite right. Nothing develops itself into complete ideas, let alone stories. So I'm left with this. Disjointed thoughts and an empty computer screen. But I so very much wanted to write something. To share a little bit more of me in hopes that you might share something of you with me.

And perhaps therein lies the issue. I had little to say to you. I just want to listen.

So, please, tell me about you. What do you think about? Where does your mind wander?

Before I go and await your thoughts,

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Lazy Sunday.

Lovely lazy Sunday. I wish the same for all of you. Adrian's working at work and I'm working at home. But as soon as we are both done working, we intend to snuggle and watch a movie. With the cinnamon bun candle burning. Sounds wonderful, right?

I'm also working on a little something for Christmas for someone I love very much. I can't tell you much right now, but let me show you a small piece:

It's going to be good, my friends. I can feel it.

In the meantime, please tell me: How do you pass your lazy Sundays? 
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In the spirit of friends and Black Friday.

In my home this lovely Saturday, we're preparing for Black Friday and for some friends to come by tonight.

So in the spirit of Black Friday, I thought I'd share this with you:

Can someone please make this happen and share the video with us? 
(Paul and Danilo, I'm looking at you.)

Thank you in advance.

Happy Saturday!
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A very Emily wishlist.

Since the stores seem to think that it's ok to begin Christmas, I figure I ought to as well...beginning with my wishlist. The way I see it, I'm doing you a favor. Now you have more time to seek out the things I so long for. Right?

1. Canon 50mm lens: Another piece to make this blog look even better! Seriously, my current aperture doesn't go low enough. Must have f/1.8.

2. This adorably wintry blazer. In peacock teal. Seriously amazing.

3. Sweaters. Thick, chunky, cuddle up in winter sweaters. Apparently when I buy sweaters, I only buy thin little cardigans. Yeah those don't stand up to Chicago winters.

4. This cute little headband. Handmade by Erin at Love that blog.

5. This lovely striped cardigan. Also handmade, this time by Leanne at

6. I am open to gift cards. I enjoy shopping at the following establishments: DSW, Kohl's, Loft.

7. Extra time with this handsome guy.

Can I make this a weekly thing? Because I'm pretty sure I could find new lovely things every week.

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The first snowfall.

Hi friends. I know you've been on the edge of your seat ever since I revealed the Christmas Dilemma. And I'm quite pleased to announce that said dilemma has been resolved for 2011. The day after I wrote requesting your thoughts, I stumbled upon round-trip non-stop flights for $400 total. Certainly more than I normally would like to spend, but it puts me in Maine just in time for Christmas festivities with my family. So, given the situation, it was just what I was hoping for. Though it breaks my heart to leave Adrian on Christmas Day. One day he won't have to work and we'll be able to travel together and spend more than just Christmas Eve as a normal couple. Until then, we make the best of what we have.

On a side note, Christmas decorations will make their entrance this week. Yes. This week.

Perhaps not the tree. That's just too soon. But lights? Yes, please.

We had our first snowfall today. Big flakes that melted as soon as they landed and lasted no more than fifteen minutes. But those fifteen minutes were magical. Especially because I enjoyed them from the comforts of a window. Encouraged by the first snowfall, Adrian and I have decided to bring out the Christmas decorations and my nephew has been glued to the front window, patiently waiting for more flurries. We even checked the forecast. No more flurries in the next ten days.

There's something so wonderful about the first snowfall. Though outwardly I display a bit more self-restraint than my five year old nephew, inside I'm five and glued to the window, too. So let's bring out the cozy Christmas lights. Light some cinnamon apple candles. Heat up some hot chocolate and wait for that first snowfall.

And when it comes, you can find me snuggled up with a blanket by the front window. Enjoying it with that husband of mine.

Thank you for your thoughts and words on the Christmas dilemma. More insights to come, my friends??

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The annual Christmas Dilemma.

I will assume that since Target is completely decked out for Xmas, it is perfectly acceptable for me to present you with the annual Christmas dilemma, in hopes that you will share your thoughts and aid in the decision-making process. Since we're such good friends and all.

The company that my husband works for, which I will refrain from mentioning by name, has absolutely no soul. Honestly. They claim to be quite Catholic and at the same time operate by the "I will degrade you until I have successfully slaughter every ounce of dignity" business model. Much like the Dementors.

Dementors strive to leave their victims hopeless. You know, like Adrian's bosses do. All Harry Potter references aside, I do believe that his bosses and supervisors do what they can to constantly remind the workers that they are the lowest of the low. Need to leave an hour early? Not unless you're dying. Give you a Sunday off? Of course not! Then you might go to church. Do your work, bare minimum please, and do not speak. We do not want your ideas and we do not care about your humanity. Oh and Quality Control, please don't cause any waves, regardless of how it will improve the quality of the product.

Which all is to say that Adrian works Christmas Day. Which leaves me in a predicament each year. They do, in fact, have Christmas Eve off. And so, last year I decided to spend Christmas Eve with Adrian and his family. Then on the 25th, we woke up super early and headed to the airport where Adrian dropped me off so I could make the earliest flight to Maine and he could go to work. Merry 1st Christmas. My family celebrates with a Christmas Day lunch at around 1pm. So the goal was to make it to the lunch. I figured, even if I was in an airport on Christmas Day, at least I was headed in the direction of family.

The alternative being staying at home in the apartment alone, waiting for Adrian's shift to finish. Which sounds like either a Dementor feeding frenzy or a potential Home Alone situation. Neither of which I care for.

So the dilemma this year? I'm having an incredibly difficult time finding a reasonably-priced flight on Christmas morning that will land me in Maine in time to celebrate with my family. And that will not require someone leaving the festivities to pick me up. The lowest price I can find is a one-way at $375, with one stop. The non-stops? Oh those run around $600, one-way. The more reasonable flights (around $175) land around 5pm. 

So my dear friends, what do I do? Pay the extra to get in on time to celebrate with my family, bypass the Dementors and hope that both flights go smoothly? Or pay a much more manageable amount, but spend most of my day in the airport and miss the big lunch? Or stay in Chicago Christmas Day and wait for Adrian (because he would love to spend Christmas Day with me) and fly out the next day?

What would you do, my friends?

One day I hope to live a much more normal life in which my husband won't face daily Dementor attacks and we will be free to fly home for the Holidays without such dilemmas. Better yet, we'll live at Home and won't have to fly at all. 

One day.

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A very spooky Halloween.

Happy (early) Halloween, my friends! Adrian and I hosted what may become our annual Halloween get-together last night. We hosted this last year and had such a good time with it, we decided to do it again this year...but with a twist! My pre-marriage roommate, Jenny, and her now-husband Ben both celebrated birthdays this month. With Jenny working and in grad school and interning, a birthday party just wasn't happening. She had mentioned one day how she had been wanting to get our friends together to carve pumpkins and hang out but she didn't have the time or energy to do.

So we did it for her!

This was the main food table set up in the kitchen. With the lights out, it was oh-so-spooky. If you've been holding your breath for the full Spooky banner reveal, exhale cause here it is. 
I stacked the cupcakes and the Happy Halloween Sign (also seen previously on the blog) on Harry Potter books. Thank you Halloween for providing a justification for displaying Harry Potter books.
Note: take photos before gathering begins. You know, before you just start tossing CVS bags around.

These adorable little banners came from Michaels. 
We saved two cupcakes with candles to sing Happy Birthday and make a wish on.

I made these labels on my computer, printed them and stuck them on the cups. 
With the black straws and Halloween umbrellas, the drinks looked positively festive.

In the hutch, Adrian set up the Trick or Treat station because I don't care how old you are, 
you are never too old for trick-or-treating
(Lyd, my mom, did not allow us to trick or treat past age 12. Rebellion is mine!)
The station included lots of candy, vampire teeth, Halloween themed hand sanitizer (weird, I know! but too adorable to pass up. Plus, who likes germs??), and squeeze-out-your-stress monsters.
These were the bags available for people to trick-or-treat with. I bought little (3"x6") paper bags at Michaels and sent them through my printer. They turned out better than I had even imagined. 
I will be doing this for every event from here on it. It was that amazing.
 Now this I cannot take credit for. I originally saw it on good old pinterest, but I just didn't have the time to tackle it with everything else. In a pre-festivity e-mail, I sent out the link and jokingly requested that anyone with free time should probably make these. Crickets. Yesterday afternoon, my creative and talented friend Jen sent me a text to see if anyone had already offered to make it. Obviously they hadn't. So she did. And it was amazing! 
I can't imagine how much time it took her to carve the little faces, oh but the end product? Phenomenal.
So thank you, Jen! 

And lastly, a shot of my decorated dresser in the living room. Super spooky, right?

We spent the evening catching up with people, laughing and just enjoying everyone's company. 
We even rolled up the carpet, laid down a plastic table cover and 
carved pumpkins in the middle of the living room floor. 
It was wonderful.

Happy Halloween! 

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Keep it together.

Hi, old friends. I remember you. And I've thought of you. And I've wanted to write. I have. But words were few and tears were many. So I didn't write.

But now I think I'm ready.

We, being Adrian and I, have been making some difficult decisions lately. Restructuring. Making a budget and sticking to it. Gasp. And then blowing it. Then getting back on the band wagon. We've been prioritizing. Talking about the future and where we want to be versus where we may be. And making hard decisions based on whatever facts we have.

Sorry to be so vague but I must. One day this will all become more clear and you'll understand why I had to be so clouded for so long.

Regardless, it's been stressful. Anyone who knows me knows that a stressed Emily is hardly an Emily at all. Out the door fly the easy smiles and quick laughs. Replaced by even quicker tears and bouts of anxiety.

Which leads me to now. Sunday. I'm determined to have a better week than the week gone by. So brainstorm with me, no?

How to keep it together and remain more yourself:

1) Breathe. Seriously.That's key.
2) Buy shoes. I kid. I kid. Kind of. It's hard not to feel better about life with a nice pair of shoes on.

3) Focus on what can be done today. Probably because I don't keep actual to-do lists so I have a continually running to-do list in my head, which may cover anything and everything I have to do today as well as for the next 10-15 years. New goal: Keep a daily to-do list. And tackle that which can be completed today.  Oh yes, and be awesome.

4) Sleep enough. Which for me means no less than 8 hours a night. Adrian can get by on less but I just can't. When I was little and I would get upset, my mom would tell me to go lay down. And I would be so angry. But she was right. Sometimes I just need to sleep. And then the world is instantly better.

5) Eat better. The question: Can I do it? I love sugar and I'm a non-eater when I get stressed. Both bad things.

6) Enjoy the small moments and joys. I love Halloween. I love fall. I love the little joys of the season. I have to take short little breaks in the day to enjoy the small things. Things like read Harry Potter. Make something with my hands. Bake. Read with my nephews. Hug my husband. Because those little things, they make me feel like me.

7) Keep a clean house. Everything seems better when my apartment is clean and organized. When it's not, I'm constantly reminded of how I'm falling behind. I hate that feeling.

I had an awesome ending planned here, but blogger doesn't like it. Thanks blogger.

Maybe it will like it tomorrow. Until then.
*All pictures found via pinterest. Click pictures for links.

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