The "little orange notebook" of Christmas.
During this holiday season, with lots of Offbeat Homies out there getting ready for the winter, I was struck by the thought that many of you are probably getting ready to travel or spend the holidays someplace different than normal. And I thought of one of my family's traditions that anyone
can start, so I wanted to share it with you!
Every year around the end of November, my family starts decorating for Christmas. There are trees (yes treeS) and lights, ornaments and Santa figurines, but my favorite thing is a little orange spiral notebook. Let me explain…
When my parents were married, almost 36 years ago, my Dad had just enlisted in the Navy. As luck would have it, he got his first set of orders right at Christmas time. Unfortunately, this meant that every few years my family had to pick up and move across the country right at the height of the holiday season. Well, this did not sit well with my mother who worried about never being able to recall which location we were in each year, and thus the Christmas notebook was born!
It can be a challenge when it comes to Christmas shopping for your spouse, friend, parent, or co-worker… but the gift of booze is usually a win! The downside, however, is that a pre-packaged box or carton of booze can also come across as "easy" or "thoughtless."
So how do you give beer and yet still retain the thoughtfulness?
I've experimented with different ways to gift booze — my first creation being a beer advent calendar made from an over-the-door shoe organizer. Not too bad… if you don't mind warm beer, right?
Well, I recently stumbled across a box that gave me an idea — a 12 bottle storage box could be transformed into "The 12 Beers of Christmas!"
Now, I know there are 12 Beers of Christmas and pre-packaged beer advent calendars on the market, but they are filled by a corporation. How do big beer companies know what my giftee likes? (Do they really want that random peach ale or light beer?) Creating my own box lets me curate a boozy medley I know my gift-ee will love! Bavarian beers? Home brews? Local brews? Combinations are limitless!
I also wanted the box to be an experience — like an advent calendar — where each day holds a new surprise you can tear into!
So here's what a little experimentation created using "The Best Box." (Don't forget to pick up the partitions for the box — sold separately — unless you prefer to make your own.)
We got a lot of feedback from y'all that our Where are they now? posts haven't been a hit, so this will be the last entry in the series. So let's celebrate this final entry by seeing how Melinda and Paul have made time for themselves, each other, and how they're dealing with having to drive all over Texas for work.
Name and occupation: Melinda, Forensic Drug Chemist
Partner's name and occupation: Paul, Research Associate
Our wedding profile: Melinda & Paul's disability-friendly, southern, sports rivalry wedding, July 17, 2010.
Since we got married we've both graduated — we're Doctors now! We've almost moved a ton. Paul moved from Chicago to a town north of Houston and I followed shortly after I finished defending my thesis. Right now our lives are dominated by commuting. Paul commutes to his job at Texas A&M, and I commute to my job at the medical examiner's office in central Houston. We drive… and drive… and drive.
I miss parts of my hometown of Baltimore a lot, especially the quirkiness and the character of the city. The history and culture are vastly different in Houston, and moving half-way across the United States was a big adjustment after living in the same city my entire life. We're also getting used to living together after quite a bit of time living separately. A cluttered happy home it is, but let me tell you: it's a mess sometimes!
She taught you how to make a mean almond milk, now Robin is back with these amazing popcorn recipes that'll improve your snack time, or make the perfect DIY popcorn tin gift!
Let's be honest: sometimes you just want to plop in front of the TV and munch away. What's a better snack for doing exactly that than popcorn!? If you can resist smothering your popcorn in butter, you're actually left with a very virtuous snack — one that's low in calories, high in fiber, packed with antioxidants, and gluten-free!
Below are five tasty, easy-peasy ways to make delicious popcorn.
This is my kitchen table. It was given to my husband by his parents when he bought his first bachelor's pad (now our family home), and it is a good one that performs all of its table-related duties. I am grateful for it, especially considering it is the only one we have. But sometimes I wish it was more … special.
Besides a tablecloth, what are some ways I could gussy up this table and make it more uniquely ours? I figured the Homies would have some good ideas.
We've seen some awesome table makeovers on Offbeat Home that might inspire you:
Since my life completely changed over the summer, as in my marriage ended, I was left in a flurry of sadness and heartbreak. The saddest thing is that my anniversary is five days before Christmas. I was sure I was going to be depressed around the holidays again.
But as life had plans for me, I found a new partner. Then I found a job 500 miles away.
So I moved away from my home for the new job, and my ex stays in the house now. I took all my stuff out of the house, but I left the Christmas decorations behind, because it was too much. I had ornaments and decor that I was not willing to keep because it was just too sad to look at again.
I do not have a place of my own yet — I am staying with my brother's family here at my work city — and I go back to my parents' home on my time off. Because of that, I will be spending Christmas at my parents' house, and they do not put up a tree. So, I decided that maybe I needed a symbol of my "moving on" with my life — not being married anymore, but dating a wonderful man who cares a lot for me.
Here's an overview of what y'all told us you wanted to see more of on the site.
I've written on the Offbeat Empire business blog about why I'm not doing my usual massive multi-site reader survey this year. Nevertheless, Offbeat Home & Life has undergone a lot of changes in 2013, so it felt important to do a little mini-reader survey specific to this site. Big thanks to the thousand of you who took us up on the invitation to share your feedback, and apologies again for the technical difficulties we experienced in the first few hours of the survey.
This post is going to be long, but for those of you who are into data and/or invested in the future of Offbeat Home & Life, it's going to be fun. We've got stuff about Facebook, family-related content, and the kinds of posts y'all hate. Come along!
I've been thinking a lot about being mindful — about how to be as present as I can. Then I realize I am thinking so much about being present that I am letting it distract me from BEING present! So I tried a little exercise based on one of the mindfulness practices I learned during childbirth preparation: see, hear, feel, breathe.
If you are like me and worry so much about being present that you forget to actually be present, try to stop thinking about it so much and just pay attention! Any moment you want to be fully present for, take a moment to pay attention to what you see, hear, and feel, and then take a breath.