8 Things That Got Me In The Holiday Spirit

While the entire east coast complains about their inability to “get into the Christmas spirit” due to abnormally warm temperatures and lack of snow – I have felt plenty festive these past few days and as an added bonus, I haven’t been freezing cold or trudging through black slush on the NYC sidewalks.

So here are 8 things that made me hum, “it’s Christmas time in the city” even though I wasn’t bundled up in 20 layers.


1)      Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree & 5th Avenue

This was the start of the festive feels for me. Peter and I decided to dedicate one Sunday afternoon to doing some touristy things around town. We met at Bryant Park and after scoping out a grand total of one holiday shop, decided we needed food before we got too hangry around the masses of slow-moving sidewalk-blocking travelers.

We headed west to Hell’s Kitchen and found an adorable Thai restaurant. OBAO had tons of lanterns hanging from the ceiling which made me happy even though my first time trying pho was a little underwhelming. I think I’ll stick to ramen.


Next up was Rockefeller Center – bum bum bum. We took a cheesy selfie with the tree even though it was broad daylight and spent a few minutes watching the ice skaters. This is probably the first and last time we’ll view the tree in t-shirts.

We spent the next hour or so walking 5th Avenue to see the stores extravagant lights, windows and decorations. Again, broad daylight, but still nice!

Tiffany Christmas Decorations

My favorite was this new snowflake hanging in the street outside of Tiffany’s! At least I think it’s new – I don’t remember ever seeing it before!

2)      Gingerbread Houses

This is the first time in recent memory that I made a gingerbread house but I think it’s a tradition I would like to continue for-ev-er. Peter and I picked up a kit and devoted a full 2 hours to decorating it while watching Elf.

Peter was a frosting MASTER and I got relegated to sticking on the candies since I couldn’t be bothered to be so painstaking in my frosting duties. I also did a great job eating the candies, taking fingerfuls of frosting and decorating the gingerbread man, snow woman and Christmas tree that went outside of our gingerbread house.

Can I just remind everyone who has yet to watch Elf this year to DO IT. Truly incredible how quotable it is!

And while you watch Elf and make a gingerbread house, you MUST drink hot chocolate. I mean, duh.

3)      Decorations

There are a few decorations around NYC that signal the holidays for me. They go up, and I know Christmas is coming. Those big red balls and giant lights on 6th Avenue, the tree outside of Radio City Music Hall and the gorgeous lights at the Columbus Circle Shops.

Columbus Circle NYC Christmas


And last but not least, the holiday decorations in reception at work.

4)      Holiday Parties

This year, I went to a Holiday Happy Hour with my new department at work, a Holiday Happy Hour with old coworkers AND the official office Holiday Party. I also went to Peter’s post-Holiday Party-party. Phew.

But by far the best Holiday Party I attended was the Annual Fehling Adult Christmas Party that my aunt and uncle throw at their house on Long Island. Peter came for his second time and my aunt and uncle were here from South Carolina – I was thrilled. It’s a pajama party, there’s a shotski and the variety of desserts is unreal (though my all-time favorites are the Christmas Crack and Peanut Butter Balls).


5)      Waiting For 15 Minutes For A Parking Space At the Mall

True story – it didn’t feel like Christmas until we spent a day walking around an insanely crowded mall after waiting 15 minutes in the parking lot stalking shoppers back to their cars. 

6) Gift Giving and Shopping

I did a lot of my Christmas shopping online this year, but there were 2 days where I was running around the city, dripping in sweat, standing in lines, carrying 7 different bags and riding the subway with a giant tube of wrapping paper sticking out of my bag. It was miserable but also SO EXCITING. More than getting Christmas gifts, I absolutely love giving Christmas presents. And even though I’m awful at it, I love wrapping presents.

So I bought a bunch of super lame stocking stuffers so I could individually wrap each thing for Peter while sitting on my living room floor listening to Christmas music.

7)      Christmas Carols

I have two absolute favorite Christmas songs – and no, one of them is not Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – although I DO love belting that one any time it comes on in a bar. Or in the car. Or at a November Project workout.

However, my two favorite Christmas songs are – Little Drummer Boy by Josh Groban (who is PS OMG making his Broadway debut next year) and Do You Hear What I Hear by Carrie Underwood. I am also not opposed to any Christmas song sung by Idina Menzel.

8)      Cookie Exchange

I hosted my first ever cookie exchange this year and I hope to make it an annual tradition because – who doesn’t love holiday cookies?

I got really into it, printing and cutting and gluing recipe cards and awards and place mats. I bought tons of ingredients. I bought green frosting and peppermint kisses to decorate with. But none of that changed the fact that I’m just not a baker.

Cookie Exchange

I thoroughly failed at following the recipes. I mixed up the baking soda and the baking powder and I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. I improvised as if I knew the first thing about what I was doing. My cookies were most definitely not the best.

But we had a wonderful variety and some festive almond milk egg nog to wash it all down. We all took home the following in cute little holiday boxes:

S’Mores Cookies
Peppermint Sugar Cookies
Grain-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles (made with a secret ingredient – chickpeas!)
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Funfetti Cookies with Vanilla Icing


Now I’m home on Long Island, sitting on my couch looking at the brand new FAKE Christmas tree that my parents bought. I’m a little sad about the switch to synthetic boughs with zero pine-scent, but I will admit that the 8 different lights and spinning functions are kind of cool.

With a 74 degree forecast for Christmas Eve, my dad and I are considering an unofficial Polar Bear Plunge into the Long Island Sound. We’ll see who chickens out first…

Merry merry!

10 "Useless" Things I'm Grateful For

I read an article this week called “Choose To Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier” and I really loved its message.

A lot of times, gratefulness and thankfulness aren’t our overarching emotions. We are tired, stressed, disappointed. There are some people whose jobs are overwhelming, whose family problems or money struggles seem insurmountable much of the time. But maybe it’s these people who can benefit the most from the ability to take a second to cultivate gratitude – to find something to be positive about, to smile about.

Of course, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, so the world is all mushy and gushy and grateful and thankful. And I’m all about that kind of stuff. But the article challenges us to also be grateful for “useless” things.

I am beyond grateful that so many important parts of my life are well and good –my family, my friends, my job, my apartment, my health. But what about those tiny things that I don’t appreciate on a daily basis?

10 "Useless" Things I'm Grateful For

1)      Sunsets that turn the sky pink and purple and red and change by the second. You take a picture of the sky and when you look back up from your phone, it’s already completely different. 

New York City Sunset

2)      A perfect, green lawn. A quad at a college that’s rumored to be spray painted because it’s so flawlessly green.

3)      The warm, melty, sugary, sweetness on your tongue when you take a sip of hot chocolate after drinking coffee – the contrast makes me wonder why I don’t drink hot chocolate every day.

4)      When you laugh so hard your stomach hurts, when you smile so big your cheeks hurt and your eyes go all squinty.

Penn State Tailgating

5)      A warm shower after a cold yet sweaty run.

6)      Songs that transport you back to a different time and make memories so vivid. When I hear “Starships” I will always go back to Senior Week at Quinnipiac. When I hear “What A Wonderful World” I will be dancing with my dad. Scratchy beard against my cheek.

7)      The feeling when everything on a run clicks – you’re going fast but it feels like you’re floating.

8)      Walking into your childhood home and feeling like you never left, no matter how long it’s been.

9)      A book that you seriously can’t put down. The characters are real and you need to know what happens.

10)  Perfect, bright lighting that makes your plate of food look like a work of art.

In “Choose to Be Grateful” the author does mention that there may be a downside to all of this “feeling thankful” – it makes you crave sugar. Which I guess would explain the large quantity of vanilla almond granola I just consumed.

Anyway – next time you’re feeling less than thankful  - that’s the time to realize all the amazing things we have to smile about.   

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving, eat a ton of delicious food, and most importantly – make an epic leftover sandwich. 

Do You Have An 'Unhealthy' Relationship With Food?

I’m beginning to think more and more that it’s almost impossible for anyone in today's society to have a “normal” relationship with food – whatever that means.

Relationship With Food

For a long time I was under the impression that there was something wrong with me because occasionally, I would experience feelings of guilt related to the foods that I chose to eat. But newsflash:

We've Been Taught to Feel Guilty About Food

If you look at the messages we receive every day – it’s really no wonder that we have these thoughts from time to time, or more often than that. Most likely, these feelings of guilt didn’t just arise out of nowhere one day after eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. We have been taught to feel guilty about eating certain foods. 

A teacher never stood in front of our classrooms and told us, "You should feel guilty if you eat this this or this." But after days and weeks and months and years of small, subtle messaging from the media, our peers, etc. many people (women AND men) find themselves frustrated with their relationship with food.

New York Sports Club Advertising Donut

Recognizing These Feelings of Guilt

We all have weekends where a cocktail at brunch turns into some beers to watch the game which turns into ordering nachos which turns into margaritas and guac and a trip for some ice cream to top it all off (please don’t tell me that’s just me!)

Have I gone to bed on days like that and thought, “Ugh – why do I have no self-control? Why did I do that?” Yes, I have. Then, I realized those weren’t the healthiest thoughts to be having.

There are tons of articles written about removing the guilt and shame we associate with food. We recognize that phrases like “earn that cake,” “guilt-free doughnuts” and “cheat meals” promote an unhealthy relationship with food.

It’s great that we’re recognizing the need to stop feeling bad about ourselves based on what we eat. That we are more than the calories we consume. We are not our diet decisions. 

Guilt  Leading to More Guilt?

But I fear there’s a new problem. Now, when people recognize that they’re having these types of thoughts – they’re also thinking, “I’m bad. I shouldn’t be thinking these things. I shouldn’t feel bad about my breakfast. I shouldn’t feel guilt about my side order of fries. Why can’t I stop these thoughts and feelings? What’s wrong with me?”

It’s a tiring and seemingly endless cycle.

  1. Eat something delicious – be it fried, fatty, carby, loaded with sugar etc. –
  2. Find yourself thinking, “I shouldn’t have done that…that was bad…”
  3. Realize, “Why am I getting so down on myself just because I ate something that I think tastes good and I wanted to eat?”
  4. Think, “I can’t stop these feelings of guilt about what I eat. What’s wrong with me?”
  5. Repeat.

I wish I could offer you advice on how to make it stop but I don’t know that I can.

You Are Not An Anomaly 

What everyone can do is remind themselves that so many people, day in and day out, have thoughts like this.

Just like eating the doughnut doesn’t make you “bad,” having feelings of shame and guilt afterwards doesn’t make you “bad” either.

Yes, the goal should be to eradicate the connection between your self-esteem and your food choices – but it won’t happen overnight and it won’t be easy. In the meantime, give yourself a pat on the back for at least being self-aware enough to acknowledge those guilty feelings.

When those guilty feelings arise, don’t stomp your foot and pout and say, “I don’t want these feelings! I just want to eat my donut!”

Accept that the society we live in today makes it almost impossible to eat carelessly and thoughtlessly.

Resolve yourself to working on it, acknowledging it, and trying to get to the root of it.

Don’t get down on yourself because you’re unable to kick that twinge of guilt when you go for your second slice of cake.

And most importantly, don’t ever think you’re the only one at the party that’s fighting with their thoughts while taking another forkful.

Do you sometimes feel that you have an "unhealthy" relationship with food? 
What types of phrases surrounding food get on your nerves the most?