Link Love December: Holiday Takeover

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Happy Hump Day! With Christmas just around the corner, you may have noticed a holiday theme here on the blog in recent weeks. Although my content will soon transition toward more wellness and goal-setting posts for the new year, I wanted to cap the holiday season with a festive Link Love for the month of December.

As far as life updates go, since our last Link Love post in October, I’ve been keeping busy with fun local adventures and have some exciting surprises for you coming to the blog in 2019. Since our last Link Love, I made a pound of chocolate at Farris & Foster, watched a UCF football game from directly on the field, dolled myself up for the Pineapple Ball, and so much more. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2018 will bring!

What have you been reading lately? Check out some recent favorites of mine and share your own in the comments!

What links are you loving lately? Sound off in the comments section!

Bok Tower Gardens Part 2: Pinewood Estate Holiday Home Tour

It may be snowing across the country, but here in Central Florida, ’tis the season to visit the botanical gardens.¬†Did you know that Bok Tower Gardens is the perfect place to ring in the holiday season? Nestled in Lake Wales between Orlando and Tampa, Bok Tower Gardens is an idyllic garden and bird sanctuary that knows how to bring the holiday spirit. I’ve visited Bok Towers before (check out my guide and recap here!), but over the weekend, I decided to take another trip to the gardens for their Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate.

Bok Tower Gardens: A Guide to the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate

Located on the grounds of Bok Tower Gardens, Pinewood Estate is a 20-room Mediterranean-style mansion that was once the winter home of Charles Austin Buck, an executive from Bethlehem Steel. From November 26 through January 6, Pinewood Estate is completely decked out for Christmas, and guests can enjoy the Holiday Home Tour.

Bok Tower Gardens: A Guide to the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate

Each year, the house is decorated in a different theme for the holidays (with this year’s theme focusing on Christmas in the 1940s, post-World War II). No two years are alike, and hidden throughout the home are several Pinewood Estate squirrels. Learn about the history of the home, as well as the family who lived there, and take time to appreciate each room and its elegant decorations.

Bok Tower Gardens: A Guide to the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate

I loved all of the details laid out in each room, especially in Lucy Buck Fox’s bedroom upstairs (and her bright pink bathroom). With Christmas trees in nearly every room and beautiful glass ornaments, the house is well worth taking the time to explore.

In addition to the Christmas tours, Pinewood Estate offers musical afternoons throughout the Christmas season on select dates throughout December and January.

Bok Tower Gardens: A Guide to the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate

The house is a beautiful place to visit year-round, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Beginning January 29, you can take one of the regularly scheduled historical tours of the home, learning more about its architecture and interior design.

Visiting Pinewood Estate for the Holiday Home Tour was a fun holiday experience, and I look forward to seeing how Bok Towers continues the festivities in 2019!

What are your favorite holiday homes and traditions in Florida? Sound off in the comments below!

Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? As the temperatures creep into the 40s and 50s here in the Orlando area, I’m starting to feel it more than ever. My sleeves have been getting longer and longer over the past few weeks, and my morning caffeine fix has transitioned from iced to hot. When the cold fronts are here, that means the holidays are almost here, and that means it’s time to hit the stores.

Earlier this week, I shared a few of my favorite Central Florida stores and boutiques for holiday shopping. However, for those of you who prefer shopping online or don’t happen to live in the region, I wanted to pull together a quick guide for gifts you can purchase no matter where you live. (For a few of my popular guides from previous years, click here and here.) Get ready to start shopping!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Holiday Gift Guide | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • For your organized friend:¬†Bloom Daily Planners Vintage Floral print.
    I’m a sucker for a beautiful planner, and I just invested in one of these for myself for 2019. These datebooks go by calendar year and are the perfect size — large enough to include everything you’d ever need to write down, but small enough to fit in a medium-sized handbag. The Vintage Floral is beautiful, but if your gift recipient is less flowery, check out Bloom’s other prints with marble, flamingos, inspirational quotes, or other cover designs.
  • For the fashionista: These fun cat eye sunglasses by Sunice.
    Sunice Glasses has a variety of men’s and women’s sunglasses to choose from — you can’t go wrong! My favorite styles are the Classy (pictured) and the Aero, but take a look for yourself to choose a unique style. Use my promo code¬†WANDERLUST25 to get 25% off your purchase!
  • For the one who always knows when Mercury is in retrograde:¬†The Mixology of Astrology: Cosmic Cocktails for Every Sign¬†by Aliza Kelly.
    I recently listened to Aliza Kelly’s episode on the Almost Famous podcast (check out more on my favorite podcasts here), and was fascinated about the idea of cocktails designed for specific astrological signs! Whether your friend is really into astrology or just likes to entertain, this book would be a fun addition to any party, bar cart, or coffee table.
  • For the class¬†clown:¬†A personalized potato via Potato Parcel.
    No holiday season is complete without at least one gag gift, and Potato Parcel does not disappoint! Featured on Shark Tank, Potato Parcel allows you to send a personalized potato in the mail with a message or printed photo of your choosing. They are now even selling potato ornaments! Check out their offerings and bundles here (and yes, I have used their services before).
  • For the accessories junkie: The Moon necklace by Civion.
    Civion is a European accessories company with a fun array of necklaces, earrings, rings (I love The Feline!), and bracelets. My readers receive 25% off their Civion purchases with discount code VALERIE25, so be sure to check them out online!
  • For the pet lover: Pop Your Pup apparel and more.
    I’ve written about Pop Your Pup before, but they just keep getting better! Pop Your Pup creates custom clothing and accessories by designing pop art versions of your favorite pet. Since the last time I wrote about them, they have expanded to now sell blankets and throw pillows, phone covers, and even puzzles.
  • For your favorite introvert:¬†Quiet¬†by Susan Cain.
    As an introvert myself, I can appreciate a book that helps me cope with living in “a world that can’t stop talking.” This book is a fun and interesting read that your introvert friends may find helpful (or may be a great gift to give yourself). I am a huge fan of this book!
  • For the bubbly one:¬†These champagne toppers from World Market.
    From mango bellinis to mandarin mimosas, you can spruce up your drinks with these yummy champagne toppers! I recently purchased a 5-pack for a friend’s bridal shower and the gift did not disappoint. These fruity mixers will sweeten your drink and have sassy names like “Trust Me, You Can Dance” that will make you smile.

What stocking stuffers are on your list this year? Sound off in the comments!

Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

¬†Well, readers, it’s official:¬†the holiday season is here.¬†My fall seasonal d√©cor has been stowed away in exchange for reindeer, mini-trees, and an electronic menorah. My next few weekends are packed with Christmas parties and Secret Santa exchanges. And in just a few hours, I’ll pop a few latkes on the stove in celebration of the first night of Hanukkah.

As someone who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, I usually have my hands full when it comes to holiday shopping. Luckily, there are a lot of great places right here in Central Florida where you can pick up unique gifts while supporting local businesses. Check out a few of my suggested shops and markets, and please share yours in the comments below. (For additional guidance on gift giving, check out a couple of my previous guides here and here.)

Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

1. Magpies Modern General Store (Sanford, FL)
Located on 1st Street in Historic Downtown Sanford, Magpies Modern General Store is the perfect place to begin your holiday shopping. From artisan soaps to housewares and more, Magpies is filled with fun stocking stuffers that are often locally sourced and eclectic. I love to pick up birthday presents here as well!

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2. AntiquiTEAs (Winter Garden, FL)
If you’re a tea lover like me, you’ll fall in love with AntiquiTEAs, a loose tea shop in Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market. As I mentioned in last year’s holiday post, the watermelon oolong is a flavor not to be missed. The shop also hosts private tea parties for special occasions (including my 27th birthday party!), working with other Plant Street Market vendors to create the perfect celebration.

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Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

3. Rifle Paper Co. (Winter Park, FL)
Rifle Paper Co. is known for its fun and vibrant prints, from stationery to tea towels to home d√©cor. This Winter Park shop is located not far from Park Avenue, and hosts seasonal sidewalk sales that will be sure to draw you in. For the ladies in your life, consider purchasing a Jardin de Paris candle — the scent is absolutely dreamy. It will be hard to walk in and not buy a little something for yourself as well!

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4. Light Up UCF Holiday Market (Orlando, FL)
On December 8 and December 21, Light Up UCF will host its Holiday Market Under the Stars, sponsored by CFE Federal Credit Union. Local vendors will set up, farmers market style, outside the holiday-themed event at the CFE Arena at UCF. It will be the perfect opportunity to shop for locally-crafted gifts, while enjoying ice skating, a Ferris wheel, carriage rides, and more.

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Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

5. Wondermade (Sanford, FL)
Handcrafted marshmallows? Yes, please! Sanford’s Wondermade is home to a variety of marshmallow flavors, s’mores, and other themed gifts. In addition to purchasing a box, why not schedule a marshmallow-making class for you and your gift recipient? If you live in Central Florida, these classes are an awesome way to spend a Friday night or Saturday afternoon!

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6. Porch Therapy (Orlando, FL)
When shopping for the plant lover in your life, be sure to check out Porch Therapy at the East End Market in Orlando. The shop offers a multitude of plant varieties, but my favorites by far are their succulents. Be sure to check them out, then grab a smoothie at the neighboring Skyebird Juice Bar.

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Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

7. Orchid Rain (DeLand, FL)
My¬†family and I stumbled upon this little shop in Downtown DeLand on my birthday this year, and were immediately drawn in. With a Volkswagen beetle right in the front of the store, Orchid Rain has a fun retro feel. From jewelry and sunglasses to furniture and housewares, this store is the perfect place to shop for your creative friends. My favorite find? The pocket-sized Buddhas, each representing a different intention (mine is “happiness”). Afterward, take a walk down Woodland Boulevard for some antique-shopping and a bite to eat.

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8. Antidote Apothecary & Spa (Sanford, FL)
When in doubt, give the gift of a pampering session! Antidote Apothecary & Spa in Downtown Sanford offers holistic, cruelty-free spa services that your friends and family will love. Check out my recap on their salt therapy appointments here, or consider one of their massages, facials, energy work, or other services.

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Where are you shopping locally for holiday gifts this year? Sound off in the comments!

Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Can you believe Thanksgiving is¬†this week? The holidays are creeping up on us, and between classes and work projects, I’ve barely made a dent in my gift shopping list.

However, those who know me best know that I¬†love buying gifts! Gift-giving is one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season, and I love sharing my favorite products and gift finds with friends and readers. For those who still have some shopping to do, check out my latest holiday gift guide for fun ideas (or pop over to my 2015 post for some oldies but goodies). Happy shopping! ūüôā

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

  • IMG_1259.jpgFor your spirit junkie friend:¬†¬†The Universe Has Your Back¬†52-card deck!
    I loved Gabby Bernstein’s book¬†The Universe Has Your Back, so when she released this deck of 52 inspirational affirmations, I knew I’d have to order one for myself. These cards are beautifully illustrated and provide positive spiritual mantras that anyone can benefit from. My favorite card reads¬†Joy is the ultimate creator, but you can choose from so many other uplifting messages to help guide your day.
  • For your favorite feminist: This GRL PWR coffee mug.
    Effie’s Paper sells some of the cutest stationery “and whatnot,” but I keep coming back to to this mug. Order yours — or check out their other gift items under $25. (Is anyone else obsessed with the marble Post-It notes, or is it just me?)
  • For the monogram enthusiast:¬†This floral monogrammed wine set from ChicMonogram.
    I’ve written about ChicMonogram before and I will always come back to them! Their store features more than 1,000 customizable gift items, from business card cases to kitchen supplies and much more! Some designs even feature Lilly Pulitzer prints. Check out the entire store here!
  • For the friend who loves Cards Against Humanity: Joking Hazard.
    This game is perfect for your friend who has an inappropriate sense of humor (read: me), especially if that friend hosts a lot of parties. This game is like the comic version of Cards Against Humanity, featuring artwork from Cyanide and Happiness.
  • For the natural beauty: Primally Pure beauty products.
    Primally Pure carries skincare and other beauty products with all natural ingredients that you can actually pronounce. As someone with incredibly sensitive skin, I’m obsessed with their lavender dry shampoo for dark locks¬†and pretty much all of their lip balms, but the beauty brand also carries cleansing oils, spa kits, and more.
  • For the crystal lover: This rose quartz heart necklace from Sinus Finnicus.
    Rose quartz is my favorite crystal, meant to attract unconditional love. The store offers a variety of beautiful crystal pendants with other metaphysical properties as well! These pendants are shipped from Finland, so order early.
  • For the tea enthusiasts: This amazing watermelon oolong from AntiquiTEAs.
    I hosted a tea party at AntiquiTEAs in Winter Garden for my birthday earlier this year, and absolutely loved their watermelon oolong! They sell a variety of delicious loose teas online and in their store at the Plant Street Market. Check out the various flavors on their website — I promise your friends will love you for it!

What are you buying this holiday season? Share your favorite finds in the comments section below!

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Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All Friends

Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All FriendsNow that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday shopping season has officially begun. Hopefully all of you have survived Black Friday! Even I managed to brave the mall¬†and come home with a few goodies this weekend. Of course, as Hanukkah and Christmas loom near, it’s important to start shopping for our friends and loved ones as well.

I absolutely love gift-giving. With so many cool and customizable products out there, I enjoy putting thought into the presents I buy rather than slapping a bow on something really generic and calling it a day.

This week, I’d like to share my holiday gift guide for all types of friends. Most of these products are ones that I either personally own, have sampled, or have purchased for someone else in the past. The best part? You can purchase any of these online in the comfort of your own home! No need to start any fist-fights at the mall this year. ūüôā

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

  • Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All FriendsThe Animal Lover:¬†A custom-made shirt from Pop Your Pup!
    Pop Your Pup creates graphic T-shirts featuring pop art designs of your pets. Choose a shirt style and background color, submit a photo of your/your friend’s pet, and the graphic artists at Pop Your Pup will work their magic to make a one-of-a-kind shirt that really does look like your pet. The turn-around time is awesome, and 10% of proceeds are donated to local Humane Societies. I’ve ordered two of these shirts for birthday presents already, and they were a huge hit!
  • The Friend with School Spirit:¬†A bottle of his or her school’s Masik Collegiate Fragrance.
    Masik Collegiate Fragrances is the brainchild of Katie Masik, who wanted to create perfumes and colognes that evoked memories of certain colleges and universities. Last year, I reviewed their University of Florida perfume and their Florida State University cologne, and even though I’m¬†not a Gator fan, I still sometimes wear the UF perfume! The scents are inspired by the buildings, traditions and local plant-life of each university. Click here for a list of all schools represented so far to see if your friend’s school is listed!
  • Unique Gift Guide for All FriendsThe Sweet Tooth:¬†A box of Wondermade‘s handcrafted marshmallows.
    (Paleo readers: You may want to¬†shield your eyes for this one!) I stumbled into Wondermade one afternoon on one of my walks through downtown Sanford. The caf√© is a local one, where patrons can buy marshmallow skewers and s’mores of all flavors that they can pair with coffee or hot chocolate. Wondermade also has an online store, where consumers from near and far can buy boxes of marshmallows in Christmas and fall flavors, as well as other unique flavors. I love to support local businesses, especially ones with such delicious products!
  • The Healthy Chick:¬†A piece of (totally inedible) Organic Fruit Jewelry.
    Okay, paleo friends, you can start reading again. ūüôā Organic Fruit Jewelry is¬†exactly what it sounds like — real fruit dried and preserved into jewelry! This is an eclectic and fun gift, and no two necklaces/earring sets are exactly alike. I’m obsessed with the lemon slice necklace and will definitely be investing in mine soon!
  • The¬†Single Friend:¬†A copy of¬†The Mathematics of Love by Hannah Fry.
    I’m a nerd at heart, so reading a book that relates mathematical concepts to dating and marriage was obviously right up my alley. This is a great read for anyone — single or not — who wants to see just how applicable these theories and formulas are to our lives. I was never a math lover in school, but I really enjoyed this book! (Check out the related TED Talk if you’re curious.)
  • il_570xN.436081413_kwxfThe Sports Fan:¬†A personalized highway distance sign to your friend’s favorite team’s stadium/arena.
    I absolutely¬†love these stadium signs as a way to support your favorite team! You choose your team’s venue from the Travelsigns Etsy shop, and plug in the number of miles between there and your home. This a great gift for that guy in your life who still hasn’t put anything up on his wall.
  • The Harry Potter Nerd: This Golden Snitch bracelet from Ashley Bridget.
    Seriously, have you seen anything prettier? The Ashley Bridget website features other Harry Potter jewelry as well, along with other gorgeous pieces from their NFL, collegiate, sorority, fairy tale and other collections. ūüôā
  • The Career Guy or Girl: A customized business card case.
    You can find these anywhere, depending on your friend’s preferences, but I purchased mine from the ChicMonogram store on Etsy. This is a great gift for someone who recently graduated from college and is just starting a new job. For nearly my entire first year at my current job, I didn’t have a business card case, and instead found myself carrying the cards around at networking events like the unpolished peasant I was. With my personalized business card case (featuring my full name, not just my monogram), I have something to store my business cards¬†and¬†it makes for a great conversation piece!
  • The Fancy Friend:¬†Anything from the Downton Abbey collection at World Market.
    I am in love with this collection’s 2-tiered serving stand and tea spoons, and I don’t even watch¬†Downton Abbey! Buy a few items from this set for your tea-loving friends who like to entertain.

How are you shopping for the holidays? Share your favorite finds in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Christmas Dinner at Hogwarts

85fcbf058d017908542b481c196b3daf32c7d45244d2a52e65a5c29acabf7ffb_1Happy Wednesday, readers! It’s almost October and you may have noticed that my posts dropped off quite a bit for the month of September. In that time, I launched my very own fantasy football league, turned 25, taught Junior Achievement classes at a local high school, started a new fitness program, spoke on a business career panel at a local community college, spent lots of time with friends and family, and hung around¬†the mall much more than I’d care to admit.¬†September was a busy month! ūüôā

October isn’t slowing down, but I hope to have more posts for you as we make our way into fall. In the meantime, take a look at this week’s Link Love, and feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • Getting my morning news updates from The Skimm each day.
  • Why Not Me?,¬†the latest book release from Mindy Kaling. Fantastic read!
  • Fantasy football — in particular, the impossibly handsome Julian Edelman.
  • The Mathematics of Love, by Hannah Fry, which relates¬†mathematical theories to dating and relationships. It’s a fascinating read and I’m tearing through it!
  • Kate Spade online flash sales.
  • Community. Why didn’t anyone tell me over the past six years how great it was?

What are your favorite links and articles from the week? Sound off in the comments below!

Link Love Tuesday: Happy Holidays!

hanukkah-kwanzaa-happy-holidays-christmas-season-ecards-someecardsHappy Hanukkah to all my readers who celebrate! I wish you a joyous holiday filled with latkes and devoid of stupid questions. ūüôā As for many of my other readers, can you believe that Christmas is almost here? The year has¬†flown by, and while I look forward to celebrating every holiday I can with my loved ones, I would like to hold onto 2014 a little longer. What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

 

What are some of your favorite links and articles for the week?

The Weekend Five: My Adventures in Holiday Travel

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Outside the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Bastille Day, 2012

First of all, for those who celebrated on Wednesday, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! ūüôā

Because my father travels for a living, I learned the importance of flexibility around the holidays early on. If he was out of town for an important birthday or holiday, we simply celebrated on a different night and had just as wonderful of a time! As I grew older, I began to experience my own interesting travel adventures that overlapped with holidays, which gave me a few fun memories along the way.

This week, I’d like to share some of my holiday travel experiences with you. Feel free to share your own in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: My Adventures in Holiday Travel

1. Flying to London on the Fourth of July.
What better way to celebrate America’s independence from Great Britain than to fly out to the very country we are commemorating our freedom from? In the summer of 2012, I left for a short-term study abroad program on Independence Day, and the irony was not lost on me. (Of course, I actually arrived in London on the 5th and was able to barbecue with my family a day early, but I still will never forget this very strange and unique 4th of July, which was mainly spent on a plane!)

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Selfie on the Champs de Mars

Selfie on the Champs de Mars, 2012

2. Celebrating Bastille Day by the Eiffel Tower.
On that same study abroad trip, I traveled to Paris for Bastille Day, which celebrates France’s freedom from the monarchy and the storming of the Bastille. My friends and I watched the parade from a hotel room with mimosas in hand, and were able to peek out the window to watch the jets fly by. Later in the day, after climbing the Eiffel Tower, we grabbed an early dinner and then camped out by the Eiffel Tower early so we could watch the fireworks that night. Music played and as people from all over the world sang along, I felt more connected to complete strangers than I would have ever expected. (I also witnessed more marriage proposals than I had ever seen in my life!) It was a beautiful experience, one that I would recommend to anyone traveling to France in the summertime. (I also wrote an article with tips for celebrating the holiday abroad.)

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Celebrating Hanukkah on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, 2011

Celebrating Hanukkah on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, 2011

3. Celebrating Hanukkah in Israel.
When I was a junior in college, I traveled to Israel for ten life-changing days. The trip, which took place in December, spanned across the entirety of Hanukkah, and so it was the first year that I didn’t spend any of the holiday with family. However, being able to spend Hanukkah in a country where a greater percentage of the people celebrate it, I felt a strong sense of belonging and community. One night, when my friends and I perused the night life in Jerusalem, we were approached by rabbis who gave us sufganyot (a Hanukkah food similar to a jelly donut) in celebration. Of course, in America, if a bearded stranger approaches me with free jelly donuts, I’m not as likely to accept so readily, but on that night, it seemed more than appropriate. Celebrating Hanukkah in Israel gave me a unique perspective on a holiday that I had been celebrating for my whole life, and it is a memory that I have carried with me every year since.

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4. Spending Christmas in the Philadelphia International Airport.
My very exciting Hanukkah was followed by a very lonely Christmas Day. My group returned from Israel on December 25th, and because we came from different parts of the country, everyone had different flights to catch from Philly. My flight wasn’t until that evening, so I spent the day reading, walking around, calling family members and people-watching. I wound up celebrating Christmas with my family on Boxing Day that year, but the experience gave me even more of an appreciation for those who work on the holidays, especially in service-based professions.

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sophisticated-ignorance5. Falling asleep early on New Year’s Eve.
When I was fourteen, I went on a family trip to the Netherlands. The trip was a blast – and my first time ever in Europe – but I came down with a nasty cold that was worsened by the flight home (which took place on New Year’s Eve). Because of this, I ended my year in bed, surrounded by tissues and drifting off to sleep before the clock struck midnight.

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What interesting holiday experiences have you had, abroad or otherwise?

Link Love Wednesday: One Week Till Christmas!

o-SOMEECARDS-facebookThe gifts have begun to make their way in. My office building is decked with trees, wreaths and holly. And the holiday light shows are finally in full bloom! Christmas season is finally here, and it is definitely a jolly (if not uncharacteristically freezing for Central Florida) time of year. Wishing a happy holiday season to you and your family! My gift to you? A fabulous round-up of articles and links you will love!

Any great links you’ve stumbled upon this week?

Happy Holidays!