Ugly Christmas Sweaters & Other Wintery Things

I used to absolutely hate winter. Despise. Which worked out perfectly, because winter's never a problem here in NJ. #SIKE. Until recently I saw absolutely nothing redeeming about winter. I hated the cold, I was terrified of driving in the snow, and summer was what I lived for all year long. But then a few things happened:
a. I became a runner... in the dead of winter. And running in the cold actually really agrees with me.
b. I turned 25 and evidently hit early menopause, because all this past summer I was nearly dying of heatstroke and having hot flashes like never before. I used to be so tolerant to the heat, but I can't take it anymore.
c. I got a Jeep, and driving in the snow is no longer the exercise in courting certain death it used to be.

That said, I still maintain that winter tends to overstay its welcome around here. By January 2, I'm about done with all the snow and ready to quit bundling up like an eskimo just to be outside for 30 seconds. Alas, we'll have snow well into March, and I'm just going to have to make the best of it.

Here are 10 things I'm planning to do this year to make winter as delightful as it could possibly be.
1. Watch Elf, The Family Stone, and Love, Actually. Of course, there are other phenomenal Christmas movies that deserve mention — The Grinch, The Santa Clause, and everything ABC Family ever made for the season — but it just ain't Christmas for me until I see these three.

2. Attend an ugly Christmas sweater party... or three. I've already received invites to two that I can't wait to attend, and am waiting to see if my favorite bar is continuing their tradition this year. I cannot WAIT to show you the apparel I've picked up for the occasion(s), but I'm keeping it under wraps for a bit longer :)
3. Get fast. Like I said, winter running agrees with me. I have just over three months until the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon and as of now, my race goal is unrealistic. But that's why we train. I'll be spending the next few months working with the elements and working hard to get some more control over my speed so I can head into next year's races fit to smash some PRs.

4. Perfect my hot toddy. My stepdad introduced me to these a few years back. They're his favorite for any sickness — he says you have to fix a hot toddy, smother yourself in layers and blankets, chug the drink, and go right to sleep; you'll sweat whatever you've got right out. But I actually quite like the taste of them, and they combine tea + booze, making them perfect for cozy winter nights. The ingredients are super simple: Black tea, whiskey, lemon juice, honey. But I can never get my ratios juuuust right — too much whiskey, too lemony. I'm going to get it exactly right one of these nights.
5. Finish the Semi-Charmed Winter Book Challenge. I'm a big fan of reading, but I'm a s.l.o.w. reader. And I've had a lot of work and side work fill up my evenings and weekends since the challenge started, so I've got some work to do if I want to complete my reading list. (See my book list here!) Good thing winter goes perfectly with good books and comfy couches.

6. Plan 2015 trips and adventures. I once read an "instruction for life" that you should go somewhere you've never been before every year. I took this to heart and sort of adapted it. I'm making a commitment to see or experience something new every single month. Ostensibly for the rest of my life, or for as long as I can sustain such a goal. Big or small, I'm determined to making this happen. I've got a few things in the works for 2015 (some of which work toward my goals of running a race in/seeing every U.S. state!) but they won't get off the ground without some serious planning.
Source: Not the Dalai Lama.
7. Treat myself. There's a relatively "big ticket" item that I've wanted since maybe high school. Definitely since college. It's not prohibitively expensive, though it does mean pinching in other categories to make my budget make sense. But for all intents and purposes, it is completely superfluous. I don't need it. I have others and have access to others that will do the same job. There's almost nothing very remarkable about it. But I've wanted it for a very, very, very long time, and I've decided to let myself buy it as a sort of congratulatory gift for all the unexpected and wonderful things that have happened this year, like my big work move (I promise, I'll share more when I know more!) and my first running accomplishments.

8. See The Nutcracker. Did you know I used to be a ballet dancer? Well, I used to be a ballet dancer. And when I was a little girl, it was my dream to be a part of the American Ballet Theater and dance in Lincoln Center. I didn't quite make it that far, but I have performed as Clara in The Nutcracker. I've never seen it performed by ABT, but I can't wait to see it this Christmas with Kristen & KC when they come visit NYC. I expect I'll cry buckets, as I usually do when watching any ballet, so... sorry in advance, hun!
Rock Center 2013
9. See the windows on Fifth and stop into St. Patrick's Cathedral. I don't need to talk about Christmas in New York — plenty of Internet ink has already been spilled on it. You can have your Rockefeller Center tree (seen it once, seen it a thousand times — although, I will be seeing it this year, also with Kristen & KC!) and the Rockettes. I just want to see the shop windows on Fifth Avenue. It's something different and amazing every year, and the imagination and talent that goes into creating them is so inspiring in a time of year where I often feel as if my own well of innovation has run dry. Just steps away is St. Patrick's Cathedral. I'm still reconciling my own beliefs about God, but inside that church, I do know that I feel close to my grandmother. I'll go back again this year to light a candle for her.

10. Donate. I've always made donations at Christmas time to charities that I support. In January of 2014 I set a goal to do something every single month to give back in some way. I'm so happy to have been able to do that successfully. Some months were item donations made to Goodwill or local shelters. Some months I made monetary donations to nonprofits I believe in. I volunteered at a race. I've attended charity events. Every time I make a purchase on Amazon I support a charity. But during the holidays I want to up my giving to remind me of the things I find most important about this time of year: community, love, and compassion. I have my holiday donations lined up and I'm planning out my contributions for the next couple of months as well.

Bonus #11: Plan for 2015. Make my lists, outline my budgets, and start the new year off on a well-organized foot. But let's be real, that was totally a given.


  1. i've already watched elf like, 23423897 times already :) best movie ever!!!

  2. I totally read #4 way too fast and thought you wrote "hot body". Moving on...I hope you have an amazing time at the Nutcracker ! I've seen it a million times but never in NYC. I can't wait to see pictures of the windows either !! Take zillions and zillions :) I can't wait to see a post in Dec 2015 of how well all these ideas pan out and say "Hey, remember when all this was just an idea ?!"

  3. Those all sound great! I'll head up to NJ and we can do all this! We just watched elf the other funny! One of my favorites!

  4. I really think that everything you're planning on doing will make winter more tolerable this year!! We saw the nutcracker last year and it totally put me in the holiday spirit!! :)

  5. I love this post with ALL THE LOVES.
    Except I really truly despise winter. I hate driving in the snow even though I know I'm safe, I hate being cold, I hate wearing all the clothes, hate hate hate.
    BUT I get to go to NYC so who gives a damn, right?! I will most likely cry in the Nutcracker as well, I cried when I saw Mary Poppins in the theatre, something about the atmosphere of seeing something live makes me cry. Heck tv commercials make me cry so it's not saying much. But really I am so excited to see NYC and have you as our guide, it's gonna be so fun!
    I love the go somewhere new every year, love love love it! I think I have succeeded in that ever since 2009 but not on purpose until like 2010 when I saw that quote. Even if it's somewhere small like an hour drive away instead of an international trip - I love seeing new places! It's such a great goal.
    Yay for treating yourself! You go girlfran.

  6. I love hot toddys when I'm sick! I've never tried them just for fun though, so let me know if you perfect it so I can try :)

  7. I love #6. I thought back and I have actually been good about going somewhere new every year. I like your addition of a new experience every month though. Maybe I'll jump on that bandwagon!

  8. I love this list!!! ALL of the winter things! I love winter because I have zero tolerance for heat. Silly me, I live in the deep south and not quite sure how I got here? I have never tried a hot toddy. Get it right then share your ratios :)

  9. I super love #3, #6, and #7. Re: #6 I think you should come do a triathlon with me in April and ;) I can't wait to find out what your treat yoself item is (please tell me you watch Parks and Rec…?)

  10. Ohhhh please let me know when you perfect it because I can never get mine right either!

  11. Do you have any idea how much I love your agenda?!?! But um, why isn't Home Alone listed???? Hot Toddy's are my Jam when I'm sick. I add OJ as well and feel better so much faster. So curious what this purchase is! And the ugly sweaters. I still can't find one ams I'm not about to pay $65 for one from Tipsy Elves, even though they're hilarious.

  12. I wanna go to an ugly sweater party! I'm so jelly!!! AND that you have pretty trees like that!

  13. #6 wins!! Actually it all wins!! haha Id give anything to see the windows on 5th and the nutcracker for christmas.


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