2017: A year in review.

Hello 2018! Here’s to the next few months of continuing to write 2017 on every document that needs to be signed and dated!

I don’t know about you, but for me, 2017 was one of my craziest, life-changing, challenging years yet. So many things have happened this year that when I look back on it as a whole, it’s hard to believe that all of these things happened in a short 365 day span. I feel like the entirety of this year felt as if it lasted about 3 months, and I am in disbelief that an entire year has ended and we are now inching ourselves into this new chapter of our lives.

This year, I started a new job in my field that has proven to be challenging, but even more rewarding than I could have ever imagined, solidifying the fact that I have found my passion and purpose in life. I completed my Master’s degree, a feat that I am proud of for having the courage to change my path and find my happiness, regardless of the opinions of others. I watched my brother win a state championship for hockey and then graduate from high school and move out of state for college, something that makes me prouder than I have ever felt in my entire life. I fell more in love with my best friend, proving that I am lucky every single day of my life to have someone that supports me through everything and anything I wish to achieve, and spoils me more than I even deserve. My family remains happy, healthy, and tightly knit, something that I continue to be thankful for with each passing day. I experienced a devastating loss of a friend to suicide, shaking me to my core, yet pushing me to be stronger and to continue to advocate for the well-being of all those suffering with mental health. I watched my best friend get into dental school, solidifying a future so deserved to the person that is my constant rock and support through this crazy thing called life. Also in the mix can be outings at concerts and sporting events, spending time with family and friends, travel experiences, good meals, deep conversations, dancing without a care, singing at the top of my lungs, decorating a home, purchasing a new car, bettering myself, and experiencing all life has to offer while trying to live it to the fullest.

In terms of this journey owning and operating as told by gab? As most of you know, I started this blog last year as a New Year’s resolution to myself. While I had “started” this page earlier than January, I vowed to religiously keep up with this blog, post frequently, and build a name for myself. Running a blog was something that I had always wanted to do, but never had the courage or the drive to actually complete it. I didn’t think anyone would care about anything I had to say, but I felt like there was so much in me that needed to be expressed and needed to be shared. I was going through a rough patch and honestly, I needed a hobby. Did I do a hell of a job at running this site? Absolutely not. Some months were harder than others, and I found myself uninspired and struggling to come up with things to write. There were times that I didn’t see the fun in running this page and I didn’t care if days went by without any activity. But, although I wasn’t religious with my posting and I didn’t quite make a name for myself in the blogging community [yet], I still kept with it and eventually circled back to becoming more inspired and finding more fun in doing this. I feel like I ended 2017 on a high with my site and I can’t wait to push forward into the next year – especially now that I won’t have the guilt of “ignoring” school or any impending assignments hanging over my head!

So from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of you who have stuck around on this crazy ride with me. Here’s to making more memories. . together! xoxo.

Fly away with me?!

Truth be told, I didn’t know what the heck to title this post, so you’ll have to settle with the corny one liner that I landed upon.

However, by the time you are reading this I will have already been onto and off of a plane and landed in New York City for a few hours now! I have never spent New Years Eve in New York City, so I am excited to be here with my family for this new adventure! I am closing off my 24th year of life at the Winter Classic on January 1st, followed by a flight home a few hours later, only to wake up the following day to begin my 25th year of life and the second half of the school year for my kiddos.

I can’t wait to share this trip with you all when I come back! xoxo.

Revisiting my first blog post?!

No shocker here that 2017 was the year I launched this site. It was something I’d always wanted to do, so I decided to take the plunge. And let me tell you, I’m so glad I did. 

My very first post was titled The Power of Putting Your Happiness Above All Else. If you remember this post from way back when, I thank you for sticking with me through this journey. If you don’t remember, need a refresher, or have never in your life seen this post, all you have to do is simply click the link to check it out!

Looking back, I feel like this was somewhat of a super ballsy post to write to kick start this blog. But, it was full of things I knew had to be said. Most of the words included in this post are ones that had been sitting inside of me for quite some time so, honestly, they exploded out of me all at once, and came to fight.

I now love that this post was my very first because I am looking back at it with an entirely new perspective. Things have changed so much in such a short year and I have moved ahead by leaps and bounds from where I was those short days ago. If you would have told me that my life would be [somewhat] completely different at this exact second than they were at this time last year, I would not believe you. I would not believe that I would accomplish so much in a short amount of time. I would not believe the experiences that I would have during this timeframe. I would not believe that the girl I thought was the best version of myself all those days ago, turned out even better, and even happier than she was 365 days past.

With that being said, I encourage everyone to keep pushing forward. To not only get back up if you’ve fallen down, but to get back up throwing punches. A lot can happen in a year, live it to your fullest potential. I promise you won’t regret it. xoxo.

Quarter life crisis?!

Yesterday, the above “meme” came up on my Facebook feed as I was aimlessly scrolling through while cozied up on my couch. It was weird to see this because, I kid you not, a couple hours earlier it hit me that *holy shit, I’m gonna be 25 in a week*, and I texted by boyfriend something along the lines of *why the heck am I so old?* wondering when my 21st birthday ever escaped me.

I feel like every young person, or maybe it was just me, feels like 25 is the age in which you should have your entire life laid out and put together and not feel like you’re sitting in a burning room wondering where the hell you go from here. Dramatic? Yes. But for real. . 17-18 year old me really, really, thought that by 25 I’d be sitting in my own house cozied on the couch with my husband, with my children and my dogs running around frantically, making a shit ton of money and loving every single second of my perfect life. I can remember thinking to myself that I wanted at least one kid by 25 so “I’m not an old mom.” [Really, someone go back in time and knock some sense into me]. So, when the realization of *holy shit, I’m gonna be 25 in a week* hit me, I did one of those nervous laughs where I didn’t know if I actually thought it was funny that I thought I’d have it all together, or I was trying to mask the fact that I was about to cry at the fact I don’t have any of these things.

With all joking aside, though, maybe you do have the “perfect life” you dreamed of at 17 by age 25. And if you do, I am in awe of you for getting your shit together and doing the damn thing. But the reality of it is, or at least for me, I am no where near where I want to be. And although I am not there, I am still happy.

Do I have my own house? Absolutely not.

Am I married? Girl, I’m not even engaged.

Do I have kids? Hell no, why did I ever think I’d want kids at this age.

Do I have a dog? Nope, but I have a fat little guinea pig. 

Am I rich, bathing in a tub full of money while my butler hands me glasses of champagne? No, but I am financially stable. 

Although the answers to these questions are totally not what I expected them to be one week out of 25 years old, they are the answers that I am happy with at this stage in my life. I am blessed with the life that I have and I am happy knowing that the path that I am creating is one that will lead me to achieving all of the above goals, just not right now. I don’t know why I continue to think 25 is old because, well, I have a good 70+ years ahead of me. I have time to figure it out. We all have time to figure it out. Just keep moving down your “perfect” path.

We’ll get there, together. xoxo.

The calm after the storm. | Holiday 2017

First and foremost, I want to start off this blog post by saying that I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful Christmas.

The last 48-hours seem like they came and went in the blink of an eye, and I am finding myself in slight disbelief that today is actually December 26th and Christmas is actually over and won’t be back until next year.

As the work day pushed forward on Friday, I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker, and I ended my day with a trip to immediate care on my way home to ensure I didn’t have strep throat, or any other illness that would prevent me from enjoying this weekend – #teacherprobs, am I right? While I did miss out on an ugly sweater party that I had been looking forward to with friends on Friday night, I did not miss any celebration or preparation with my family in regards to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Little victories, right?

All in all, this weekend was a great one. For the first time in years, it was a white Christmas. I am filled to the brim with way too much food and way too many goodies. I spent time with every single person in my life that I love and adore. I gave away all of the gifts that I have been staring at under the tree for the past month, and received so many generous and thoughtful gifts in return. I am thankful and I am blessed to have the life I do. And now, I am looking at my trees wishing it didn’t all end and that they weren’t going to have to come down sometime this week.

With that being said, here’s to the last week of 2017. . and the last week of being 24! Let’s end it with a bang! xoxo.

‘Tis the season for Christmas parties! | Holiday 2017

Today is my last day of work until January 2nd aka hello Christmas break!

Between pajama day with the kiddos, a holiday party at school with my team, and an ugly sweater party tonight with friends, kicking off Christmas break could not get any more Christmas-y, and I could not be any more full of copious amounts of sugar.

When packing up all of my gifts and goodies today to bring into work for my team and my kiddos, I realized just how much my mom and I have been baking this year. This could be thanks to a lack of hockey, as my brother is now away at college, or just an extra burst of energy, but holy cow, my bag this morning felt like it weighed 20 pounds with just treats alone.

The other day, I posted an easy, no bake recipe for you out there, like me, that are crunched on time and quite frankly don’t have the patience to bake for hours on end. Today, you’re in for another treat, because I have another no-bake recipe for you folks to whip up this weekend before Christmas is suddenly upon us. So, without further ado, here is a recipe for Christmas Buckeye Balls!

Christmas Buckeye Balls

Ingredients

  • 3 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 16 ounces of chocolate chips or candy melts [any variety of your choice – I used milk chocolate]
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • Holiday sprinkles

*** DISCLAIMER: I doubled this recipe! So if you don’t want to make as large of an amount, simply cut it in half!

Directions

  1. Place the peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated, then knead with your hands until a smooth dough forms.
  2. Shape the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a sheet pan that’s been lined with parchment paper.
  3. Refrigerate the peanut butter balls for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Place the chocolate chips and shortening in a medium bowl. If using two types of chocolate, place 4 ounces of each chocolate with 1 tablespoon shortening into two bowls.
  5. Microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals or until melted. Stir until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  6. Remove the buckeye balls from the fridge. Use a toothpick to pick up each ball and dip it into the melted chocolate. Quickly roll the ball in sprinkles. Repeat with each ball. Use your finger to smooth over the top of each ball to remove the mark from the toothpick.
  7. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set, then serve.

Christmas baking, minus the baking | Holiday 2017

Being able to freely use the oven/stove the week of Christmas is something that just does not happen. Between meal prep and baking for the holiday in addition to feeding yourself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the kitchen is a crazy place.

With that being said, I have become extremely familiar with no-bake dessert recipes that taste amazing and don’t get you near-killed for trying to use the oven amid the hustle and bustle.

One of these recipes is a Christmas twist on the classic “white trash” dessert. I made this last night and I can confirm to you that not only is this probably the easiest and cheapest thing you will ever make, but it took almost no time to prepare whatsoever. So, if you’re looking for something easy-peasy, stick around, because the recipe below is totally for you!

Christmas Crack [“White Trash”]

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of Chex cereal [I chose Rice Chex – but pick any that you desire!]
  • 4 cups of Snyder’s pretzel rods
  • 5 cups of Bugles
  • 1 bag Christmas Milk Chocolate M&M’s
  • 1 bag of peppermints, unwrapped and finely chopped
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • 24 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening or solid coconut oil

Directions

  1. Place the Chex cereal, pretzel rods, and Bugles into a very large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place parchment paper on two large baking sheets. Set aside.
  3. Unwrap individual peppermints and place into a Ziploc bag. Break into fine pieces using a mallet or meat tenderizer.
  4. Place the white chocolate chips and shortening into a microwave safe bowl. Place in microwave for 30-second intervals and stir until smooth.
  5. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the dry mixture and immediately sprinkle the M&M’s, crushed peppermints and sprinkles on the candy [to ensure it sticks to the mixture].
  6. Mix gently with a spoon until all ingredients are coated evenly.
  7. Divide the mixture in half and spread in even layers on the baking sheets.
  8. Let the candy set. If you are in a rush, place it in the refrigerator until it sets.
  9. Break apart and serve – or place into an airtight container for later snacking!

What are some other quick and easy Christmas recipes that you can’t live without? xoxo.

 

 

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of!?

Next Friday, I am traveling to New York City for New Years Eve and the Winter Classic. It was my brother and my Christmas present from our parents, combined with a birthday gift for me, as my birthday is on January 2nd, aka the morning after we fly back home to Western New York.

I am absolutely no stranger to the city. I’ve been there more times than I can count, and it’s one of my favorite places to be. I have only been in NYC once during the holiday season; it was two years ago on the first weekend of December. However, I have never been to NYC for New Years!

So, what I am asking you on this fine Tuesday is this: What do you recommend I do on my trip to New York City?

I am open to any and every suggestion you throw my way. I can’t wait to hear from you. xoxo.

Santa! I know him!! | Holiday 2017

I mean, is it really pre-Christmas week without an Elf reference?

But for real. We are exactly one week away from Christmas!

I always feel like the week leading up to Christmas is always the craziest. There are always last minute presents that have to be wrapped, baking to be done, and the work week feels like a complete drag. Houses need to be cleaned, organized, and set up to host what feels like a million people [at least with my family], and meals need to be prepared. Christmas music is played, snow is [hopefully] falling, and then you blink and. . bam, it’s Christmas morning. And then you blink once more and. . bam, it’s all over with.

I will fully admit that this year, I went a little too crazy when it comes to Christmas. Part of me feels as if it is because I was able to take on Christmas at my own pace. Years prior, working retail, I was in Christmas mode starting from mid-October when the holiday décor would start to be set up and sales would be set. By the time Christmas actually got here, I was basically over it, as I had been hearing “Holly Jolly Christmas” in my ear, on repeat, for over two months and, quite frankly, was ready to slam my head against a wall. Not so holly jolly, am I right?

This year, though, my excitement has been at an all time high. I didn’t hit my full Christmas mode until Black Friday when all of my shopping was completely done and it was time to wrap all these gifts while sipping on my Peppermint Mocha latte, listening to the holiday tunes I actually enjoyed hearing over and over. I had time to watch Christmas movies cozied on the couch at night, as my hours at work didn’t extend past, at the latest, 5:00pm. The added bonus of working a “real job” that pays “real money” helped too, as for the first time in forever, I feel as if everyone is getting the gifts they actually deserve or want, not just the ones that I could barely afford.

I have been staring at my abundantly large stack of Christmas gifts under “my” tree for what seems like forever and I have been waiting for decades to hand these gifts out. My parents, especially my mom, is no amateur when it comes to Christmas decorating so between our tree in the living room filled with gifts, our tree in the dining room filled with my gifts [*ahem* I went a little too crazy], and then on the flip side, Jon and my tree at the apartment filled with gifts, there’s enough holiday cheer to keep you on edge waiting for the big day to come.

With that being said, I hope everyone has a smooth sailing, stress-free, pre-Christmas week.

Keep on spreading the joy and love. xoxo.