"You are building the most fabulous life."

Happy Thanksgiving, campers! Today, I'm grateful for all of you. 

I am, as always, thankful for my fantastic friends and above all the love and support of my family. This year, however, I'm ruminating on something a little bigger than in years past. 

2017 has brought enormous change for me, and I am beyond thankful that it has been so positive across the board. Had you asked me last Thanksgiving where I would be this year, I would have probably shrugged and assumed it would be living in downtown Minneapolis, working at Travelers, hanging out with the same people, maybe dating, maybe not. Instead, I live in California with two of my best friends, working for one of the most renowned academic institutions in the world. I wake up every morning to palm trees, never wear a coat, and weekend in wine country. And I am happy - incandescently so. 

A friend of mine once commented on an Instagram photo, "You are building the most fabulous life!" The phrase has tuck with me for the last few years - especially in light of my 2017 resolution to be intentional in all things. It's been a mantra, at times when my life hasn't felt so fabulous. I'm thankful, though, that choosing to be intentional, to step out of my comfort zone, and to keep building that fabulous life has led me to where I am today. I am grateful that taking a huge leap has been as easy as it has been, and that I can truly say today that I'm this happy and fulfilled by my life. 

So on this Thanksgiving, here's to the friends I've made and lost, the family that has had my back through everything, the roommates who make me smile every day, the abundance of delicious California wine waiting for us on tonight's Thanksgiving table, and to you - today, may your hearts be as full as your plates!

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 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! 

Cab yourself a merlot little christmas...Schwegs in Sonoma!

Off we go! 

Last Easter, my parents and I were pregaming Mass at my old apartment when Jodester brought up the idea of skipping Christmas. Well, not skipping Christmas, per se...but skipping our traditional Schwegfam festivities in Lakeville in favor of an adventure in Pacific Time! 

My parents love wine country, and with three children of legal drinking age, what better way to spend the holiday season than in warmer climes, drinking wine and having adventures? Answer: there is no better way. Especially in light of the Schwegwomen's success in Champagne in May 2015!

We've planned a few outings, including a couple days in San Francisco and Christmas Day with the redwoods, but are largely going with the flow. 

I can't wait to sample California "champagne," sip sauvignon blanc in our house's hot tub, and act like I have a finely developed palate (slash, work on developing it!) at tastings. Most of all, though, I'm excited to reunite with these two: 

And spend some time with my four favorite people. I'll be posting from Sonoma, including more of our Scandinavia trip, some holiday adventuring, and updates on what we're up to, so pop by! Or make like me and pop champagne. 

Happiest holidays, campers. Love you all oodles and bunches! 

Finding my "hygge" in the Polar Vortex...

It's currently 3 degrees in the Twin Cities, with a windchill of -18, and I just realized I left my lunch on the counter/have to venture out into this crap. I CAN'T DEAL. 

Seriously, this polar vortex coupled with a malingering cold/sinus infection has sapped me of any semblance of Christmas cheer. My nose is so chapped and irritated that it legit started bleeding at happy hour last night. I get home every night, and essentially say "screw it" to the half-decorated tree, noble intentions to get presents dealt with, and plans to go to the gym. It's pretty much straight-to-bed for me, to burrow under covers and ignore the chill coming off our picturesque-but-drafty 100-year-old windows. 

A Facebook friend shared this article this morning, about the Danish concept of "hygge," and I checked myself for a minute (as I sat sulking at my desk still wearing my Uggs and giant scarf). It's only December 14th. And we had the most unreasonably beautiful fall ever this year. If I'm already feeling this negative and bitchy, after just one cold snap, during the purported "most wonderful time of the year," what the heck is going to happen to me come January, February, and March when it's STILL sub-zero? 

"Hygge" roughly translates to "cozy," and the principle centers around reframing the negatives of this time of year to positives...filling a season of cold and darkness with warmth and light. Sounds right up my alley, as the usual resident Little Miss Sunshine...

So I'm searching for hygge in the daily grind, and finding it all over the place: 

Hot chocolate, cozy socks, my polar bear rug, and snuggling up for an afternoon (GOD I MISS THAT FIREPLACE!!! Ahhhh Chateau de Liz!!!!!)

Giant, woolly sweaters...and delicate pretty jewelry to offset the mammoth effect. 

Sipping a glass of red wine and admiring the Christmas tree, which I am bound and determined to actually finish decorating tonight.

Admiring Christmas cards from loved ones. 

Even better, spending some quality time with loved ones: cocktails NOT optional, festive environs strongly encouraged. 

Here's to kicking my bad-attitude approach to the season to the curb, and finding happiness and hygge and giggles all around. Meanwhile, Minnesota friends, stay warm!! And if you want to come over for wine and an ABC Family holiday original movie marathon, hit me up! 

A Holiday Lately I'm Loving

I have a SERIOUSLY severe case of the Monday blues this morning after a totally weird weekend...Highs? Seeing the Minnesota Orchestra take on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on Saturday, Minnesota getting its first big dumping of snow all day yesterday, and a spontaneous Café Latté stop with Matt to end the weekend! Lows? Being sick as a dog with what I am convinced is a 21st-century version of the plague (aka the common cold and an accompanying fever, bleh). 

Minnesota's unseasonably warm temperatures and a busier-than-usual schedule have left me feeling a bit Grinchy this holiday season. I can't believe we're less than two weeks out! I have yet to get one single present actually ordered, let alone wrapped and under the tree (which Hal and I have yet to set up...EEK). That said, here's how I'm planning to get things feeling a bit more festive around here: 

-I just peeked through this gallery of New York City's holiday windows as I finished this morning's coffee - so pretty! Gotta say, Tiffany's are my favorites. So classic! 

-In lieu of sending traditional holiday cards (because, duh, no spouse/children/significant other/pets, hahaha), I went a little crazy in Emily McDowell's deliciously irreverent holiday shop online. Friends, expect some slightly off-color greetings from yours truly this year...and stay tuned for the Schwegfam Christmas card reveal, it's similarly irreverent and, I think, delightful. 

-The current soundtrack of the season is Leslie Odom's fantastic holiday album...I'm convinced he can do no wrong. Take a listen to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," then add the whole album to your holiday Spotify playlist - you won't regret it. If Christmas carols just aren't your jam, 1. BOO YOU SCROOGE! and 2. Take a listen to DJ Earworm's 2016 United States of Pop. Jury's still out for me, personally...

-As soon as I have a few free days/evenings, I'm hitting up Twin Cities holiday classics with everything I have in me. With Loring Park's Holidazzle right outside my front door, I have no excuse not to take a wander through the Christmas market...but I'll be making a special trip to the Como Conservatory on the nastiest day I can find to soak up the warmth and bask in the loveliness of the holiday sunken garden

-Kitchen-wise, I need to NOT go my usual route of "Bake all the Christmas cookies!!!!!" in the name of fitting into a gown on New Year's Eve...yikes. That said, there are a few festive events on my social calendar that require an offering, and I'm feeling shortbread this year for some reason. These pistachio butter cookies and these rosemary shortbread cookies both sound just different enough to be worth a try...stay tuned, and here's to hoping the great 2013 Christmas Oreo Balls Disaster isn't repeated. 

-Finally, tis the season, after all, to pay it forward. In a totally inspiring turn of affairs, my board's high schoolers decided to go to Feed My Starving Children this holiday season and spend some time giving back...I'll be joining them tomorrow for a morning of packing food and getting back to the reason for the season. So proud of them! Other worthy programs and initiatives I'm hoping to be able to share some time or money with this season: Wreaths Across America, which recognizes fallen veterans each holiday season...the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota's annual Centro Christmas party, which provides holiday cheer for over 1,000 attendees annually...and my office's Toys for Tots drive, which is looking a little sparse so far.