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How to host thanksgiving

Posted on: 11.25.2015

this past sunday, my precious little apartment hosted its 3rd thanksgiving dinner! i know there are people out there that would rather be shot in the foot than host in event in their house; whether it's lack of space or the fear of people going thru your medicine cabinets BUT i really enjoy it. i blame it on the desire to always be needed and hosts are needed ALOT and i love it. it's the Monica Gellar in me. always the hostess. i've posted in the past my tables and decor and how i like to arrange my house for parties and this post aint no different! so here's my quick little run down of fun ways to get your house party-ready and how to make hosting a pretty easy and awesome gig!
anyone that's followed along this blog for a while knows that the thrift store is my second home and i'm not too keen on matching. so a table full of mismatched glasses and plates is totally my eye candy. some would disagree i'm sure, but they weren't invited so it doesn't matter. i've always decorated with the firm theory that there should always be something unique and fun for people to look at in your home. whether it's the small copper piggy bank placed randomly in the middle of your thanksgiving table setting or the White Castle restaurant water color that is hanging above your fireplace mantel. (both of which exist proudly in this apartment)  i like weird stuff and weird stuff is great during the holidays when there's a house full of people in every room. 
i bought my mint green plates from ikea in the "as is" section for about 25 cents each. the more artsy, pretty plates came out of either goodwill bins or they were begin thrown out by my friends that didn't want them anymore. that brightly colored plate above is from anthropologie and i'm pretty sure it has since been discontinued. a friend of mine was throwing them out 8 years ago and i'm still obsessed with them. the mason jars and wine glasses have been around for years, too. collections are key, you guys! 

try and arrange your table in a patternless pattern. does that make any sense? probably not. i just try and set it up to look effortlessly scattered. i don't want two matching plates next to each other. i arranged down the middle of my table PLANT/KNICK KNACK/CANDLE. all of my copper bowls and antlers and anything else that was weird and quirky made center stage on the table. you may recognize that brown paper down the middle of the table, too. i bought a huge roll of it 5 years ago and that paper has lasted me thru sooo many table runners, crafts, prettier than average scrap paper and and gift wrappings. my friends all pretty much know at this point if there's a gift wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, it's mine. whatever. they love it. 
it might not be everyones cup of tea, but i just love a big full table covered in stuff. like i said, i like my guests to have plenty to look at. now this year, we kinda messed up and forgot to grab a second table to make ours longer. we had a lot of guests and under estimated the space we would need. now, that's ok, that's what couches are for and no one minded. but make sure when you set up your table you leave plenty of wiggle room. you can't carve up your turkey without a little elbow space! 
light EVERY single candle you won. that's what they're there for! unless the smell is amazing and i just have to have it, i pretty much only buy white or cream colored candles. you can pick up partially used ones at the thrift store for pennies and they look great everywhere. soft lighting is the way to go when there's a party going on. also, when your house is full of yummy foods, there's no need to break out birthday cake scented candles. 
i went to trader joe's a few days before our thanksgiving and bought two of those Cinnamon Brooms have you heard of them? most of our grandma's probably had one or two when we were growing up and now they're coming back as really popular. now, i added a link up there so you could see them but don't buy it from there. that amazon user has it listed for like $8 and they're $3 at trader joes. so anyway, i bought two and hung one in the living room and one in the kitchen and they're amazing. maybe a little strong for thanksgiving since there's already 50 smells going on, but no one seemed to mind. plus, cinnamon just smells like warm, happy, holiday feelings- does it not? so yes, buy those. and light all of your candles. 
i like to do a buffet style at my thanksgivings. our dining room table is super narrow and long and the idea of people asking me to "pass the anything" throughout my entire meal would drive me nuts. also, i would rather fill the middle of my table with candles and pretty things. but that's your call! do whatcha like! but over here, i set up a food table and let people grab their plates and help themselves. this year, my roommate and i hosted a thanksgiving for both of our families and his girlfriend was able to make it, too.  aka we're talkin about 15 people… and it worked out perfectly because that's a hell of a lot of helping hands and everyone brings a dish. it's amazing. jon made a turkey that was pretty much all this house was responsible for. i will say though, one day, i want everyone to pick what dish they are bringing and then that's just your dish you bring forever. i have 4 thanksgivings to go to this year and i think a lot of the stress comes from people not knowing what to bring, doubling up on things accidentally or bringing something no one likes. wanna take one small stress out of the holidays? make a check list of staple holiday foods, everyone pick one,  and that's your food responsibility forever! 
also, just like the table filled with mix matched fun, i try and do the same thing with the food table. it's time to break out all of those cake stands that sit unused most of the year. all of those $3 thrifted cutting boards? yeah, bring those out too, WHY NOT?  also, before guests arrive with their hands full of casserole dishes, have all of your big serving spoons, knives and spatulas out on your table ready. the less people have to go thru your cabinets that you didn't have time to tidy up, the better. have everything out before people even ask. my mom is a whiz at this it's insane. like, jon was preparing the turkey and he couldn't find the salt and pepper shakers so i ran down to the gas station to grab new ones and right as i got home and walked in the door, my mom text me "hey we're gonna bring an extra salt and pepper shaker just in case. love you" I MEAN, HOW DOES SHE DO THAT?? love her. 
like i said, the candles. do you love the fireplace? haha. 
so to sum up:
mix match is fun! it's cheap, interesting and gives people a lot more to look at. thrift stores will become your best friends. 

light lots of warm candles. go easy on the scents. we aren't trying to give grandma a migraine at the dinner table. 

assign everyone a dish and keep it that way. people like low stress and structure. trust me.

clean your house, sure, but don't kill yourself. no one will notice if you dont shampoo your basement carpets or scrub all of your base boards. i learned after the first year of hosting that i didn't need to bring in a ladder and clean the tops of my ceiling fans. and neither do you. just make your place smell good and run a mop/vacuum over your floors. 

don't feel guilty when people ask you "ok we're on our way. can i bring anything else? do you need anything?" i used to feel like i was burdening people if i said yes. but everyone appreciates the host. you're the person opening up your home so trust me, they will not be offended if you say "yes! please stop for an extra bag of ice! thank you!" 

enjoy yourself! my favorite part of hosting anything is standing proudly in doorways and just looking out into my clean apartment filled with loved ones. everyone enjoying themselves, having separate conversations, eating and drinking and just enjoying their holiday. YOU made that happen. good job, hostess! 

Cheap & FREE Christmas date ideas around the city!

Posted on: 11.17.2015

you guys! it's coming! tis the season for holiday cheer, christmas miracles and your bank account plummeting lower than any other time the rest of the year… yay! between buying gifts for everyone in your life, hosting holiday parties, that crazy heating bill and having to buy new snow boots …. it's gonna be a long winter, y'all! i figured it would be fun to write up a quick list of some of the cheapest christmasy date ideas around the city! because everyone loves a good winter date with that special someone, but tickets to some of those holiday attractions can get a little crazy expensive. we all know i'm pretty good at cutting cost corners, so i'm calling them "JD's HoliDATES" … date ideas all under $20. man, i love a good pun.
 Findlay Holiday Market 
ok, so obviously you could spend thousands at an event like this. but every year, it's just fun to walk around the market and listen to the holiday music, admire the lights and sip on your hot chocolate. it's kind of a perfect findlay day. lots of vendors come out with beautiful holiday gift pieces and there's also a tree lot ready to go.

The Christmas Ranch
a cincinnati favorite for sure. over a million lights, a reindeer room and did i mention the wagon rides? it's only a couple of bucks to get in. totally worth it. go in the evening and stay until the night time. photo opps all over the place!

Young's Funeral Home Christmas Open house
if you mention the Young's funeral home to most anyone, young (young. ha) or old, they will probably say "oh yeah! that's the one with the live nativity scene, right?" yes it is. complete with carriage rides, warm snacks and live animals to admire you won't want to miss out on this. did i mention it's free? high five.

Ice Skating downtown
this is one of those perfect holiday activities. there's always the cutest 14 year old couples awkwardly holding hands and at least one girl out there twirling and spinning that has clearly been ice skating her whole life. your toes will be cold and you'll fall at least once but it's only $10 so deal with it!
Santa's Workshop
ok, maybe this is more of a kid friendly event rather than a sexy holiDATE but still… maybe you're one of those couples that wants Santa selfies OR maybe you want to bring the kiddies along on your dates? who knows. but this event is free, every saturday and … free!

The Nutcracker at the Museum Center
a free performance of the #1 holiday show ever created? this one sounds too good to be true but i'll be there will bells on. jingle bells, obviously. the museum is always decorated so beautifully for the holidays and this show is a favorite for everyone.

While walking around and admiring christmas lights is fun and all, sometimes you just want the good times to come to you. Stay in your car, play your own tunes and drive thru Santaland to enjoy the lights from the privacy of your Honda.
Cincy Sings
it's the choir nerd in me that can't wait for this event. i'll go alone if i gotta! while doing your holiday shopping downtown, enjoy the sweet songs of the best voices in the city. if you see me there, i'll be the one singing along and probably getting yelled at by security.

Holiday Trains
ok so this one might not be free to everyone! but it IS if you are a duke energy customer OR a member of the cincinnati museum. which includes a lot of us out there. this display is pretty spectacular and there's plenty of holiday treats available there, too.
keep an eye out for coupons, discount codes and other alternatives to paying full price to get into all those other holiday activities out there! and if you have anything to add to the list, feel free to let us all know! the holidays are one of the tightest for everyone when it comes to saving their money so let's all keep each other in the loop for cheap ideas! you're welcome, lovers!

update: i went to pick up skyline today AND there's half off adult & child admission to the festival of lights. that's a pretty serious deal,  guys! 

those thoughts you keep in your phone's notepad

Posted on: 11.13.2015

does anybody else just THINK something sometimes and you just have to write it down? that's what this is. i just cleaned out my phone's notepad and here's what we found. yikes:


i have plenty of issues and i'm not working on any of them. 

having 300 mutual friends with your mother on Facebook and they are all your classmates from 10 years ago has become my reality. and when she knows that the kid i sat next to in third grade is now married with a kid, it might be time to delete this account. 

you know your life has taken a turn for the worst when you're doing your x boyfriend/roommate's laundry for extra cash and saving your bath water to mop your floors with. 

looking for the silver lining is when you get pulled over the officer tells you that you have one of the prettiest driver's license photos she's ever seen. 

i'll be single until i don't see my friend's boyfriends on dating sites anymore. 

it irritates the hell out of me when i can't "skip ad" oh my goddd let me live. 

i can go from listening to the celtic woman to Alanis to drake real quick.

when i was little, my mom actually paid me money to try a mushroom and a tomato. i'll never forget it. for some reason we were in the car outside of my aunt's house and i cried. and now, i can't get enough  tomatoes. how does that happen? 

if you don't have the one crazy/weird/different/maybe kinda slutty friend in your group, then it's you. don't change, though, every group needs one. 

you know your'e the type of person that can't let things go when you are watering your crunchy brown plants and just hoping for the best. 

i talk to myself, as well as argue with myself, and then we makeup. 

i think of night lights around your house as a luxury reserved for the rich. i stayed at my mom's house the other night and my god, there's a path to every bathroom in that house paved by the way of twinkly lights plugged into the walls about shin high. there's some symbolism there; while the poor are stumbling around, stubbing toes and lost in the universe, the wealthier class knows exactly where they're headed. was this too deep? i dont know.

while every chick out there loves a romantic date filled with fancy meals and having their door opened, i prefer a night of cleaning out my purse and sitting next to that special person while they watch the game. and i call all games "the game" because they are all "the game" in my opinion. case and point, be with someone that you like to do nothing with, but together.

maybe it's an ohio thing. or just me, i don't know. but all target bathrooms smell like fruity pebbles and all movie theater bathrooms smell like the anti-bacterial soap you're supposed to put on your first tattoo.
speaking of smells, our local casino smells like what i think a marital affair would smell like. cigarettes and shame. 


do you ever… think about things? i love when people think. 

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