Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#projectSMASH and Other Resolutions

Ohhh, the end of the year and a new beginning. That means it's time for resolutions that may or may not last until MLK Jr. Day. This past year, I did myself a favor and didn't set any resolutions for myself. To quote myself from my previous blog (whose last post was made on January 1st of this year):

"I'm not making any resolutions this year. I just want to see what the year brings, and grow from it."

The year brought a lot, and I did grow a lot - more than I could have expected! But this year, I want to give myself a little challenge. (Like I need more challenges outside pursuing my Master's... x_x) I want to try and journal every day in 2014. I went to Michael's while Christmas shopping and bought myself a SMASH book, and thought up this little challenge of mine and named it #projectSMASH. I explain it more thoroughly in this video, if you're curious!

I also really want to record more daily vlogs throughout the year! I love looking back at old videos and I would really love to have some everyday memories recorded to look back on. I may or may not have already started on this resolution... #excited. I probably won't post every single vlog here on fiveleveninety (though I may post some), so make sure you subscribe to my channel to get updates!

Those are my two major goals for 2014. I don't want to over-resolve (ha) so I think those two work just fine for me for this year!

What are your goals for the new year?

I hope everyone has a *fabulous* New Year's! 
I'll see you all in 2014! :)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Most Memorable Moments of 2013

Believe it or not, we're in the final days of 2013! Can you believe how quickly this year has flashed by?

As a blogger, I'm a huge fan of reflecting. It's just what we bloggers do. So as the year draws to a close, I'd like to share with you some of the most memorable moments of this past year, month by month. I say most memorable moments instead of favorite moments, as not all of these are memories that I'll look back and smile upon (see April, for example), but definitely ones that will not soon be forgotten.

Also, since this little blog of mine has only been alive and kickin' since March, you readers out there will get two months of never-before-read stories! Hooray! :)

So, without further adieu, here are the Most Memorable Moments of 2013!

Friday, December 27, 2013


I just returned home after a week long visit to my parents' for the holidays. It was wonderful seeing my family and spending time with them! I was way too spoiled and am ridiculously lucky for having amazingly generous gift givers in my life. Seriously, I was blown away. I can never express how thankful I am for everything I received! But most of all, it was refreshing to spend time with family who I rarely get to see during the school year. With my sister a few thousand miles away from New England, it's even rarer that all 4 of us together at the same time, so this Christmas was extra special!

Though it is nice spending time with family and friends that live in the area, it can be a bit exhausting to catch up with everyone, so it's nice to be home. It's strange calling my apartment home instead of the home I grew up in, but I suppose there comes a time in everyone's life when that transition happens. It's not that I don't feel at home at my parents' because I absolutely do and love spending time there, but as I sit on my bed typing this post and listening to Brett play the new XBOX game I got him for Christmas, I just feel happy. I feel like that's when you know you are home. When nothing special is going on, and you're happy for no reason in particular. You just know that's where you're supposed to be. :)

I received my grades back from my first semester of grad school!

Student Development Theory: A
Theories & Techniques in Student Affairs: A
Research & Evaluation: A-
GPA: 3.9

Hooray! All that stress and busting my butt has paid off. Now onto semester 2...

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday, and for those that are in school, 
I hope you got awesome grades for the semester!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Season's Greetings!

(Our 2013 Christmas card. Obviously.)

Hope you all have a great Christmas!
love, fiveleveninety <3

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LudaChristmas 2013!

Merry Christmas Eve, everybody! I hope everyone's having a nice holiday, and if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you're having a fabulous week! I thought I'd celebrate the 24th by sharing some pictures from the Christmas party Brett and I threw on Friday! (Endearingly called LudaChristmas, because of my 30 Rock obsession.)

With the end of my first semester of grad school approaching and our perfectly sized living space, we thought it would be awesome to invite our friends over for a Friendsmas of sorts. Thus, the first annual LudaChristmas was scheduled, ugly sweaters were purchased, and delicious snacks were cooked to share with our bestest of buds. We listened to holiday themed music, played holiday themed games, and had an all-together holiday themed good time!

Two of my very favorite guys :)

Jimmy & Kristen!
Jimmy & Tywan getting silly

Ah, yes. The elusive Daniel Bryan photo. The story of this pic takes us back to October when Nick, Louie and I all ran the Hartford Marathon. Almost at every photographer the three of us ran by as a group, we pulled this pose. All of us were excited to receive that photo back from the photography company, as we all planned to buy it, print it, and frame it. Lo and behold, when the race photos were released, this one didn't make the cut. *le sigh* That race just never fails to disappoint. Oh well, at least we have the photo now, right? :P

Can't have a party without a little dance party action, right?

It was a spectacular night, and I hope to turn LudaChristmas into a yearly holiday tradition! :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Causeway Street

There's a property in Brett's hometown that opens its gates to the public during the holidays and puts on a pretty extravagant light display for anyone who cares to see. All that is asked in return is to donate to the Salvation Army, whose volunteers waited patiently with their bright red buckets at the midpoint as you drive through. Brett took me on a bit of a holi-date last week to see the lights, and I was so thrilled to see the display that he had tried to explain to me in the days leading up to our visit!

Brett helped with the photography!

I love that Brett has been showing me a bunch of his usual holiday traditions. He grew up close to where we currently live, and it's nice that he has some knowledge of fun things to do this time of year! :)

What are some traditions you have during the holidays? 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


As of the publication of this blog post, I am officially 25% done with grad school! 

(Barring that I failed all of my finals. That would be awkward... >_>)

Yes, as of 6:40pm this evening, I am done with my first semester of grad school. I don't know how I survived, buuuut I did. Somehow. And aside from all of the migraines and stress it caused, it really wasn't all that bad! I'm happy with my decision to get into this program. I feel like I'm learning so much and am totally on the right path, even though most of the time I feel like this.

As much as I love my #SAgrad life, I'm beyond thrilled to have a bit of vacation (despite one of my professors already assigning one of my spring classes to read an entire textbook over break... -_-). I'm celebrating this evening by going to see Brett play some indoor 8 vs. 8 football and having a celebratory drink! (Yes, there's a bar at the field.) 

We're also having a wonderfully tacky Christmas party this Friday and ICAN'TFREAKINGWAIT. Ugly sweaters, egg nog, Christmas music, and pretty much all of our friends in one place. Yes, please. I'm so stoked. Such an incredible way to kick off winter break! Here's a little preview of my tacky sweater:

I rocked it during the Happy Holidays Half Merrython earlier in the month!

I'm sure I'll be posting shortly after our get together with everyone's horrible holiday get-ups! 
I hope everyone's enjoying their holiday season so far! :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Santa Workout Plan

Looking for a little exercise motivation this holiday season? If you're anything like me, you don't want to move from under your blankets when the weather outside is frightful! Try this festive work out to boost your Christmas spirit and burn all those extra calories from yummy holiday treats! :) (And the best part? You can do this from the comfort of your own home!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Five {#7}: Dream Vacation Edition

With the temps creeping down to their season lows and a nor'easter plotting to snow everyone in this weekend in the northeast, I find myself dreaming more and more of warm weather vacation spots. I thought I'd warm things up by turning this edition of the Friday Five into an opportunity to share with you where I'd LOVE to be this weekend instead of trudging around in boots and a jacket that makes me look like a giant penguin.

1. Orlando, Florida

Mouse ears and Butter Beers have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Maybe it's all of the end-of-semester stress that's making me regress a little bit, but all I want to do is go to play with Mickey and Minnie and dress up like a princess at Disney World, visit Olivander's Wands at Harry Potter World, and maybe even stop in for a drink at Moe's at Springfield, USA. If I could escape from grown up life, if just for a moment, I'd want to hide out in Orlando!

2. Bora Bora

Smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is this little island paradise. Just thinking about lounging on a floatie with a book and the sun during the day and spending sleepy evenings in a little hut while listening to the waves lap below me is enough to book my ticket right now! If only I had a few thousand dollars laying around...

3. Xcaret Park - Mexico

Xcared Park is an all-natural water park just north of Cancun. You can swim with dolphins, stingrays, and sharks, snorkel and scuba dive, and there's even a zoo, aquarium, and butterfly pavillion! A perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. Sign me up, please!

4. Giraffe Manor - Nairobi, Kenya

Yes, this is a real place. This hotel is famous for being surrounded by a friendly heard of giraffes! They'll come right up to your window and will eat a tasty treat right out of your hands. How cool would it be just to go for a walk and have a pack of giraffes casually stroll by?

5. Swimming with elephants in Thailand

If you know me at all, you know I love elephants! A group of students I work with at BSU is going on a trip to Thailand over break, and they get to ride an elephant twice. TWICE. I'm so jealous. If I could be in warm Thailand just hanging out with a bunch of elephants, I'd probably be the happiest human on planet earth.

Where are your dream vacation destinations?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Hello friends! I know it's been awhile since I've given any sort of life update, so I thought I'd drop in and tell ya what I've been up to lately!

I spent Turkey Day with Brett's family! I mentioned a bit ago that I wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving with my own family, due to having extremely  busy lives and traveling far being a bit inconvenient because of that. Brett and his family gladly opened their doors to me and I spent a lovely day with them (rudely interrupted by a migraine -_-). Brett showed me the local Thanksgiving Eve tradition, we attended the Millis/Medway Thanksgiving Day football game, and I even got to try some deep friend turkey for the first time! :D Overall a really great experience, and I'm very grateful that they took me in for the holiday!

Brett and I braved the crazies and went Black Friday shopping! Being a retail veteran myself, I am not a fan of Black Friday starting at 6pm on Thanksgiving, as it prevents those who are working from spending time with their loved ones for the holiday. We waited like good customers until 1AM to get into Target for our brand new Nintendo 3DSXL's and Pokemon X & Y. It actually wasn't a terrible experience, either! We grabbed 2 DSs 2 games, paid, and were out the door in 10 minutes. Success!

I ran a half marathon and rocked an ugly sweater through the whole thing! Sunday was the Happy Holidays Half Merrython out in Gloucester, MA. Louie and I signed up right after completing Hartford, then promptly completely forgot to train. Well, I wouldn't say forgot, but life sort of picked up and I prioritized actually spending time on my homework over training. Pretty reasonable trade off, right? APPARENTLY NOT. My body was really mad at me, to say the least. Up until about mile 10 I felt generally good (which is still pretty decent!) but after that it was very difficult to finish the race. I know I made the right choice of prioritizing my school work, but I think I'm going to double check my schedule before signing up for a long distance race next time! Regardless, I had a wonderful time seeing my parents and Louie, so it all worked out in the end! (And I finished! YAY ACCOMPLISHING GOALS!)

What have you all been up to lately?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Favorite Holiday Things!

Brett and I have been really into this whole holiday thing this year. We've been decorating, singing (or at least trying to sing) Christmas carols, and playing into all the cheesy holiday traditions. I don't think I've ever been this excited about the holiday season in my entire adult life! It's great feeling this way, though. When you first start living on your own or with other people that aren't family, you get to create your own holiday traditions to practice each year! Because I'm feeling so festive, I thought I'd share some of my favorite holiday things!

1. Lights!

Who doesn't love when the streets light up with twinkly lights? Everything just looks so much more magical this time of year. Because I'm usually hunkered down inside working as of late, we hung up hundreds of lights inside our apartment this year, so we can still feel the magic even when we're forced to stay home!

2. Tacky Holiday Sweaters

To be honest, I've never participated in any sort of tacky/ugly sweater event during the holiday season, but I've ALWAYS wanted to. This year I made it a point to have several occasions to wear some sort of hilariously horrible holiday sweater - the Happy Holidays Half MerryThon on Sunday, myoffice's holiday celebration next week, and LudaChristmas (the Christmas party that Brett and I are hosting. Yes, we stole the name from 30 Rock)! I picked out a nice kelly green sweater yesterday and I am SO PUMPED to wear it!

3. Egg Nog & Other Holiday Goodies

Of course, one of the best (if not the best) part of the holiday season is all of the delicious treats that come along with it! We bought our first carton of egg nog last night and practically chugged the whole thing - YUM. I have no shame when it comes to eating during this time of year. You're just adding to your winter coat! (And it helps that I continue to work out during the holiday season - it's all the more excuse to eat like a pig!) ;)

4. Holiday Movies

Nothing beats cozying under a warm blanket with a mug of hot cocoa and your favorite Christmas flick on the TV! My personal favorites are Elf, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (video above). What are yours?

5. Get Togethers with Family, Friends, and Co-Workers

Sometimes I wonder how often I would get together with all of my friends and family if the holiday season didn't exist. With how busy the year can be, work and other obligations kind of take priority over making the effort to get everyone in one place to enjoy each others' company. I'm glad that it's the time of year where everyone makes time for each other and you get to reconnect with those that you may not see too often throughout the year!

What are your favorite things about the holidays?

Monday, December 2, 2013

December Book Club Selection - Holiday Edition!: The Christmas Sweater

Guess what everybody?!
The Book Club is making a comeback this month for a very special Holiday Edition!

For this month, we'll be reading The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck. I received this book as a Christmas gift a few years ago, but I have a personal rule that all things Christmas related must be kept between December 1st and December 25th. At the very least, until after the Thanksgiving turkey is consumed! I miss the days where Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was the first thing Christmas related you saw each year...

I'm getting off topic.

Long story short, I haven't read it yet, and it's been staring at me from my bookshelf for a couple years, so what better time than now to check it out? (And it's also one of my December Goals, so killing two birds with one stone! #win)
When Eddie was twelve years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a bike. Although his life had gotten harder — and money tighter — since his father died and the family bakery closed…Eddie dreamed that somehow his mother would find a way to have his dream bike gleaming beside their modest Christmas tree that magical morning. 
What he got from her instead was a sweater. “A stupid, handmade, ugly sweater” that young Eddie left in a crumpled ball in the corner of his room.Scarred deeply by the realization that kids don’t always get what they want, and too young to understand that he already owned life’s most valuable treasures, that Christmas morning was the beginning of Eddie’s dark and painful journey on the road to manhood. 
It will take wrestling with himself, his faith, and his family — and the guidance of a mysterious neighbor named Russell — to help Eddie find his path through the storm clouds of life and finally see the real significance of that simple gift his mother had crafted by hand with love in her heart.

Let's be real here. I'm not expecting this to be a great book, I'm not expecting to tear up with every turn of the page, and I'm not expecting to recommend this book to everyone I know. I'm expecting a cheesy, sappy, Christmas story that would be completely inappropriate any other time of the year, and I'm sure that's exactly what I'm going to get! And I couldn't be happier about it ;)

If this doesn't seem like something that's up your ally, but you're still looking for a holiday themed read, check out Let It Snow - a collection of short stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. I read it last year around the holidays and really enjoyed it! Check out this review to get an idea of what it's about. :)

Do you have any favorite holiday novels?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Goals

Can you believe it's already December? 2013 has flown by!
Time for one last set of goals to finish out this year strong!

1. I already have 3 occasions that I'm planning to wear one, so I don't think that this will be too much of an issue!
2. We're having a Christmas party on the 20th and our apartment needs to look the part! (Aaand it's also pretty great to pretend you're living at the North Pole during the month of December.)
3. I mean... no pressure.
4. This may be a struggle... Due to my hectic schedule (and admitted laziness) I have not been running as much as I need to in order to be prepared for a half marathon. I'm just hoping that some of my pre-Hartford training is still sticking with me! 
5. What better time to go on some new kitchen adventures than the holidays?
6. Always does the trick to get me in the Christmas spirit!
7. Even though I'm usually on a pretty tight budget, I always try to donate something to a toy drive for children so they can have a happy holiday as well. This year, I'd really like to make an effort to give a little more. Change in the Salvation Army buckets every time I see them, Toys for Tots, donations to food pantries... any time I see something, I'd really want to make it a point to give something to those that need it more than I do!