Christmas

The "Lizzie Is An Adult" Holiday Wishlist

I had a conversation with my coworkers over lunch the other day about holiday wishlists, and what their kids are asking for, and what’s at the top of their lists these days. It got me thinking about what I wanted this year - I can’t believe Christmas is only a little over a month away, YIKES - and what I’ll be gifting…funny how the list shaped up very differently than this one from a few years back! (Also funny how I wanted silly things like Urban Meyer as ND’s football coach LOL LOL.)

This year, I’m gifting very practical things to the vast majority of people on my list…I think it’s very telling of my current state of exhaustion and the intensity of my caffeine addiction that the first thing I purchased was coffee mugs for my bosses/teams. I’m a huge fan of Anthropologie’s monogrammed collections, and they were a perfect purchase at 20% off this weekend (my favorite new offering is this Margot mug, which reminds me of the Paris Métro!). For work, I’ll stuff them with homemade peppermint bark, wrapped up prettily in cellophane with a bow. Couldn’t be easier!

My friends and family will be receiving a much more festive and fun assortment of gifts - my favorite thing to do is to pull together sentimental little items, either inside jokes or things I’ve noted they want over the course of the year. I think it’s always nicest when you know someone has put thought into what to get you and why, versus just buying something trendy and/or expensive. Of course, details on gifts for my loved ones can’t be revealed here - suffice it to say I’m GREAT at presents.

As for what I’d like to see under the tree, any of these would suit just fine in a perfect and pragmatic world:

  • A really nice vacuum - we still haven’t purchased one and I’ve been making do with our Dust Buster hahahaha someone save me from myself PLEASE.

  • A Coravin - I’m the only wine drinker in our little apartment of two, and I certainly can’t - er, shouldn’t - drink a whole bottle by myself every time I open wine. That said, a lot of my wine is high-end or rare, and I don’t want to run the risk of letting it spoil before I can enjoy it! A Coravin would be the perfect solution - a single serving of wine, without having to even remove the cork? Genius.

  • A car wash and detail package - I’m very bad about keeping my car clean and have a horrid tendency to track in mess, and I would love to have an excuse to regularly go to the fancy car wash and have it hand-washed.

  • New Clarisonic brush heads - for my annoyingly combination skin - and an electric toothbrush - because I’m very jealous of Dave’s.

  • Pyrex glass food storage - we’ve been discussing wanting a set for months and have yet to pull the trigger, surviving instead on our mismatched and past-their-prime Tupperware.

  • A ClassPass membership - 2019 WILL be the year that I actually commit to trying fitness studios in the Bay Area outside my Stanford-sponsored classes!

  • A Kindle - I’m noticing my eyesight getting worse (must get to the opthalmologist) and attribute it to lots of time spent reading on my iPhone. Would love to see if Kindles are worth the hype.

  • Pottery Barn’s ultra-cushy rug pad - we need one for under our living room rug, which wrinkles terribly without one.

  • Starbucks/Philz gift cards and/or Nespresso cups - like I said, the caffeine dependency is ramping back up to its peak levels circa EY 2013.

And just because not EVERYTHING can be practical and utilitarian and utterly grown-up, I would legitimately die and go to heaven if someone bought me these:

HI. DEAD.

Happy almost-holidays loves!

merry merry!

Merry Christmas, my dearest darlings! 

May your day be merry and bright, may your hearts be full, may your every wish have come true, et cetera and soforth. 

My family went to Mass at the gorgeous Basilica, exchanged gifts, and enjoyed my mom’s amazing homemade lasagna for dinner (along with PLENTY of red and sparkling!) last night, and today we're off to (FINALLY) see "The Last Jedi” - we always see a movie on Christmas Day! This year, more than ever, I'm treasuring our traditions...they seem extra-sweet when home is so far away. 

A few things I'm extra-grateful this year: 

- California weather

- California wine

- roommates who make me laugh

- friends who have stayed in touch

- a remarkably challenging and fulfilling job

- these two 

- these two 

...and YOU! 

Christmas with the Redwoods

While we spent yesterday in wine country with friends, today we're heading just a bit south to the stunning Muir Woods, one of my family's favorite stops over the holiday trip to Northern California that started it all!

We were stumped as to what to do on Christmas Day - almost all the wineries were closed, and we knew most of the restaurants and attractions in San Francisco would be too. Emily had the brilliant idea to see if the national parks were open, and sure enough, they were - so we were up at the crack of dawn in our Sonoma Airbnb and at Muir Woods before they even officially opened! 

A word to the wise: if you are planning to visit Muir Woods, do plan to arrive early. The parking lots and road spaces tend to be filled as early as 9:30-10am on weekends and holidays, and there are no alternatives for parking in or near the forest. While there are shuttles, those, too fill up and it's better to arrive early and not have to deal with the hassle in the first place. 

It's fairly clear from our attire in these photos: the Schwegfam is not composed of hardcore hikers. We love nature...we are just generally poorly equipped to do crazy-intense hikes. We loved Muir because there was a really wide variety of trails, with a range of difficulty suited to the group. The main loop is a clear, paved path with signs and handrails - legit even a child or older person could handle it - but there are other, lengthier, more challenging loops that can be tackled too. We did a short one that ran parallel to and above the main trail and really enjoyed it. 

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As for the redwoods - words can't do them justice, and I feel like a sad imitation of a writer even trying to do so. I had read plenty about the redwoods over the course of my life, but to be honest I couldn't even have told you the difference between a redwood or a giant sequoia. Muir Woods had great educational information scattered throughout the park, and I geeked out hard throughout our hike (stroll). Who's surprised? Nobody. 

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The sheer height and scale of the redwoods can't be captured on camera - or at least not on my iPhone. Christmas morning was cold and misty, and the woods were utterly silent when we headed in. The peace and quiet created a truly otherworldly atmosphere, one that left me completely in awe of what we were seeing and experiencing. 

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As we explored, the sun peeked through and burned off the fog, and the day got warmer. Watching the sun filtering through the trees - absolutely gorgeous. We made approximately a hundred jokes about finding the perfect Christmas tree and having a "Muiry" Christmas courtesy of Emily, but we also all constantly repeated how stunning the scenery was. 

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As the day wore on, the woods got much more crowded and hectic - and we got a little sick of the chatter and tourist traffic jams. So we headed out of the woods and over to Muir Beach for a change of scenery! 

The beach was blustery and cloudy, and far less crowded than the woods - definitely not swimsuit weather, but the views of the Bay were ridiculous. I would certainly not hate having a little beach shack there...right?!

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Looking back, I'm probably sentimentalizing this quite a bit, but I think this is about when I started to maybe percolate the idea of heading west. The clouds over the bay were illuminated from behind by the sun, creating a hazy mid-afternoon sky that looked almost twilit. With the salt wind blasting my face and my toes so cold they were numb, it hardly seemed like an idyll - but that wild, severe, varied beauty was something I hadn't experienced like this before. 

I'm not going to assign more emphasis to this than I should, but I think there's something about redwoods and the ocean around here that makes everything seem amazing and possible and just a little bit fantastical. 

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The Holiday 101 in 1001 List!

I have just over six weeks of my 101 in 1001 challenge left, and am powering through checking a few last items off my list! The holidays were a surprisingly perfect time to hammer through some philanthropic items, as well as a few fun little adventures! 

First, I checked off #45, Participate in a Holiday Adopt-A-Family. I had a hard time finding an organization in the Twin Cities that allowed a group to adopt a whole family...it seems like things have gone more toward the "general donation" model around here. Fortunately, South Bend still allows full adopt-a-family, and the Notre Dame Piccolos always adopt a family!

This year, they opened it up to alums and shared details in our private Facebook group...because naturally the piccs have our own group. Our funds supported an adorable family with 4 kids: Sariah (9, girl), Jean (7, boy), Julien (7, boy), and Seline (4, girl). Per FB, the girls both love Frozen and Barbies (who doesn't really!?), and the boys both love Star Wars and Legos. The section also purchased them all warm clothes, pajamas, and socks for Christmas.

With Venmo to streamline payment, putting my money where my mouth was couldn't have been easier! 

Next up: #87, Send Christmas Cards! 

I went a little nuts in Emily McDowell's amazing online shop (seriously, I want everything they sell), and ordered three different options, plus a special inside-joke card for Kait. 

During the polar vortex, I stayed in all weekend, recovered from the plague that had completely knocked me out, and wrote cards in bed with Netflix holiday movies on in the background. 

Then I kind of blacked out in PaperSource last week and ended up walking out with, among dozens of other things, a stamp, gold ink, and stickers that matched my cards shockingly well. I stamped stamps, stuck stickers, and addressed envelopes to my heart's content. 

And boom! In the mail and headed to my friends' homes right in time for Christmas!

In other fun items, I checked off #92, See "The Nutcracker," with Jodester last weekend! The State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis is one of the prettiest historic venues in the Twin Cities, and couldn't have been a lovelier venue for Loyce Houlton's "Nutcracker Fantasy."

Jodester and I had a blast checking out the hundreds of darling little girls dressed up in their Christmas best, making fun of flamboyant Uncle Drosselmeyer (who creepily inserts himself in EVERY SCENE being creepy), and marveling at the ballet. A perfect way to escape the Polar Vortex!

One of the items on my list that I wasn't sure how to check off was #46, Donate time or money to a charity initiative for veterans or soldiers. When I stumbled across Wreaths Across America this November, I knew it was the perfect way to give back. My mom takes pride in making sure that my grandparents' graves have flowers or wreaths on them year-round, and as my grandpas are both vets, this cause was near and dear to my heart. 

While I only donated this year, I'd love to actually participate in the wreath-laying at Fort Snelling next year. Such a cool cause! Please consider checking it out and donating if you're interested!

Finally, another great donation opportunity arose in checking off #50, Volunteer or donate through the ND-MN Alumni Club! Every year, the Club sponsors a Christmas party in collaboration with Centro, a Twin Cities charity that serves more than 7,000 Latino-Americans. The party alone is host to 1200 Centro parents and children, and takes a massive effort from ND alums and families to put on every year. 

I've participated in the past, but I couldn't this year (again due to my lovely malingering illness. Instead I made a donation online, and am looking forward to participating in years to come! 

Here's to the festive season, friends - a great time to spread cheer, have fun, and give back. Happy holidays! 

the merriest and brightest

Merry Christmas, my loves! 

We're having a ball here in wine country...details to come, but I couldn't let the day pass without sharing holiday wishes to each of you. 

My mom's Christmas card list was on the receiving end of this card this year, which I think captures my wishes for you guys pretty appropriately: 

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Tee hee! I made this as a joke earlier this season, and my parents fell in love with it. As did the recipients, who have sent compliments galore Jodester's way. 

May your day be merry and bright, and may your Christmas be white (or red, or sparkling. Whatever you prefer!). Love you guys!