2016: A Year In Review

Being that I'm in my mid twenties, many of my recent end of year feelings are that of amazement to how much has changed in my life. Two years ago I was amazed college was finally over and I had moved across the country, last year I was questioning a lot of my decisions and where they had led my life to be, and finally this year, the one everyone has decided is one we will collectively pretend like it never happened.



As much as I have to bash 2016, and there is a lot, not all of it was terrible. Sure there were moments where I found myself crying on the floor, wishing I had my best friends, and wondering where exactly I had messed up. But there were also handfuls of moments where I literally paused to take everything in, because I knew that it was those moments that would keep me going as things got tough. 

Because social media is such a part of our lives now, I started using Instagram this year to document my life. Big moments like birthdays and ordinary days spent running errands have all been photographed and cataloged in a way that tells the story of my year from the best possible angle. So what better way to review my year than to pull my favorite Instagram photographs and remind myself why I found the moment worth photographing. 

January

Oh January, the month we all go into with all these goals and dreams, not realizing the shit storm that hits once the new year motivation is over. In my case, an actual storm hit my city, we called it Snowmageddon. My month was spent surviving the weather and travelling home for the first time since I move to the city. 

Highlights: my DC women's group, all my friends who always answered my calls

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

February

February I really caught my stride, with my women's group getting larger every day and my resolution to see at least one concert a month finally kicking off. I threw both a Super Bowl and Valentines Day party, plus finally started feeling a little like myself again. 

Highlights: those awesome seats I snagged for the Muse concert, eating heart shaped pizzas with a bunch of single girls

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

March

This month was spectacular! One of my best friends visited the city and right in time for the cherry blossoms to bloom. I spent my time working long hours at the firm to save for my birthday trip and was committing more time to my blog. 

Highlights: who knew I would enjoy Coheed and Cambria, cherry blossom season

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

April

Everything changed this month. A coworker found some of my old articles and managed to make me feel super uncomfortable about sharing my life online, which led to me dropping writing due to fear of her judgments being right. I also started dating a guy who was all wrong for me at the time, but it also led to something that wouldn't really start up until the early summer. 

Highlights: traveling back to the early 2000s and seeing Good Charlotte live, that first date which lasted 11 hours 

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

May

I visited my sister in her new Texas home, while things back home were getting more serious with the guy I mentioned previously. This month was mostly going to a lot of events, working more late hours and managing the start of a new semester. All in all, I was busy as hell, too busy to notice I wasn't being taken seriously in my almost relationship. 

Highlights: breathing the same air as Beyonce, then flying back to DC and being front row at X Ambassadors

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on


A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

June

The stress of balancing everything led me to kind of unplug from social media, plus I was ashamed that I had quit on my blog yet again. Once I dumped the guy I quickly had more time for the things I cared about, like booking that birthday trip I spent all those hours at the office for. In the process of all of this I grew close to my now boyfriend, who agreed to take care of Max (my cat) while I took a much needed vacation.

Highlights: the night I spent painting and watching Shark Tank for hours, not needing to wear five layers anymore

July

I can't say enough good things about this month! First off, I spent my birthday on the beach with my best friend who was a total rock to me throughout my breakup. Then I came back from vacation to quickly fall for my now boyfriend, who I realized was basically me in a man's body. July was spent getting to know him while exploring all the city has to offer during the summer. 

Highlights: snorkeling in Cabo, ending up at the ER with my date

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

August

I wouldn't call myself spontaneous, but for some reason August was a big month for making decisions I didn't completely think through. First, I decided to go on a road trip to Maine and Canada with my very new boyfriend. But a few days after booking the trip I also told my boss I would be quitting. so yeah, I booked a vacation days before putting in my notice. Call me crazy, but I don't regret a single thing. 

Highlights: celebrating two years in DC, finally getting a high score in my favorite pinball machine

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

September

I've travelled pretty extensively in my life, but no trip has left me with a bigger desire to go back than my road trip to Maine. I spent a week on the road taking photos of the most gorgeous sites next to a guy who let me control the radio 90% of the time. New semester or not, September was a blast. 

Highlights: pulling over on the way to Canada only to find a hidden waterfall, spending two hours climbing down a mountain while ugly crying

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

October

Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is why this month was marked by a lot of pumpkin decorations and taking photos of my boots and fallen leaves. I also took a course on Instagram with a local DC blogger, which motivated me even more to reach out to local brands in the city when it comes to my blogging. 

Highlights: finding a ticket to Philadelphia for $1, the leaves, all the leaves


November

With the results of the election starting the month off on a rough note, I focused more on my women's group to plan events to get everyone together in the days following the results. I also attended one of my favorite concerts of the year, Elle King, where I was no more than five feet away from her. Now that I wasn't working I had all the time in the world to focus on school, and maybe a little extra to take a trip to Texas for the holiday. 

Highlights: voting for the first female presidential nominee, visiting a real life Christmas tree farm

I took this photo yesterday before the polls closed. Before I knew I'd wake up in a country where my position as a young woman of color would feel like a disadvantage. I wrote a caption thinking I'd wake up honored to have voted, but instead I've spent the day crying with my mom and sister, angry that so much of our country turned its back on us. I'm going to keep the caption I wrote, because one day I will wake up knowing that my future daughter will have someone to look up to, and not just the idea that something like that is possible. 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 Eight years ago I was a normal 16yr old completely obsessed with Hillary Clinton. I wanted her to win the nomination to help me believe I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. She lost, but unlike so many of us she faced the possibility of rejection again. Eight years later and I still have the sticker I bought with the little money I had at her San Francisco rally, but from now on when I look at it I'll be happy knowing history has been made, again ๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“ฎ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿผ #imwithher #survivingour20s
A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

December

This month is always a little tough for me due to my being so far from friends and family. Now that the feeling of freedom had faded, not having a job to go to left me with a lot of free time to fill. I rediscovered my love for libraries, and worked extra hard to make my home feel well, like home. Somewhere in between I managed to get multiple job offers for my first counseling position, which I will start this January!

Highlights: reading for pleasure again, spending Christmas with someone who otherwise might be alone on the holiday


A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on



I hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year's weekend. If you shared a year in review post share it below, otherwise comment below one of your favorite moments!

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20 Holiday Date Ideas Your Boyfriend Will Love

The holidays can be the most exciting time of the year, with everyone getting together to celebrate and almost everything around us being worthy of an Instagram shot. Even though the temperature is getting colder, there's no reason why date night needs to turn into sweatpants and Netflix, at least not every weekend.

Whether you wanna go enjoy the new season or stay inside and out of the cold, there's plenty of things to do with your significant other than won't empty what's left in your bank account after the holidays. With ideas to get you to celebrate Christmas together and the weeks after, you're bound to find one idea the both of you can agree on.

Or if you're like me and spend way too much time trying to make a decision, have one of you choose a random number out of twenty and commit to that date idea.



1. Watch winter sports

I feel really dumb for saying this but I had no idea so many teams were active in the winter. If you have the money, and desire, try attending a football or hockey game in person. Otherwise you can go my route and find the sports bar with the best food in your city.

2. Go ice skating

Definitely not the best first date idea, unless you're an amazing skater, but long term couples will definitely have fun watching each other fall on the ice. 

3. Throw a holiday party

Holiday parties don't have to be all about family and home cooked food. Invite over all your closest friends and have everyone bring with them food from their favorite take out restaurant. 

4. Build a snowman

Sure this could be done in fifteen minutes, but I was thinking of a more intricate snowman building competition. Or at least who could make their snowman the largest until their hands freeze over. 

5. Attend a winter festival

Not sure why all the winter festivals seem to end when Christmas does, but take advantage of the holiday market season while you can!

6. Visit a museum

If you rather stay out of the cold, I recommend visiting a nearby museum. With so many having cafes inside them, you can turn it into lunch as well. 

7. Attend a play

As much as I love watching people act with a bowl of popcorn on my lap, how often do you get the chance to dress up and see people do it live? Find an option in your city and make a night of it. 

8. Check out the Christmas lights

If your city doesn't have a holiday light festival you can opt to drive around and spot the best decorated homes in your city. Grab some coffee and snacks, turn up the music and enjoy driving around like a creep staring at people's homes. 

9. Host a game night

The holidays don't have to be all about family, but it can be hard to get everyone together around this time of year. Invite over a few other couples or friends for a night in.

Related Post: How to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Best Friends

10. Build a gingerbread house

This technically doesn't have to be a competition, but wouldn't it be so much more fun if it was? Stores sell kits ready to build, but if you wanna go the extra mile you can attempt baking the gingerbread house walls yourself. 

11. Watch all Oscar nominated movies

If your significant other is anything into films like mine, spending a night (or weekend) watching all the Oscar nominated films is a fun way to pass the time and have a few arguments over who deserves each award most. 

12. Take a holiday photo

Who says holiday photos are only for families? Grab your significant other and whatever pets you have and take the cheesiest photo you can. Since you probably won't be mailing it out, you can at least post it on Instagram for all your friends.

13. Decorate for the holidays together

Not sure about you, but I live for holiday decorating. My closet was stuffed with decor before Thanksgiving had passed this year, which is why I needed a little extra help to put it all together. If you have a patient boyfriend, enlist him to help you with the promise of drinks/food at the end of it all.

14. Christmas movie marathon

Everyone out there has a favorite Christmas movie, so if you're in a new relationship, spend a night watching each other's favorites. It's a cheap and easy date to keep you out of the cold and help you get to know one another better. 

15. Cheesy Christmas movie marathon

If you want a real challenge for your night in, try finding the most cringe worthy holiday movie on Netflix to watch. With so many made for TV movies on Netflix, you're guaranteed to find something to make you laugh all the way through. 

16. Bake together

Now that summer is over you're free to eat all the dessert you like. Find a recipe you both love on Pinterest and attempt to make it together. You can take your baked treats with you Christmas lights hunting or to eat while you watch your movie marathon. 

17. Attend a holiday bar crawl

To get you out of the house, try searching Groupon or Facebook events for local bar crawls in your city. It's an easy way to not spend too much yet visit a bunch of new places. 

18. Paint and sip night

Believe it or not, boys are kind of into paint nights. Every date I've ever taken painting has become totally engrossed in the activity, so while getting them there may be a struggle, chances are they'll love it once they get started.

19. DIY some ornaments

If your significant other isn't anti-crafts, you can take a trip to the craft store to find some supplies to make ornaments with. 

20. Go to breakfast

When you think of a date what comes to mind? Usually dinner, right? Go the opposite route and get together for breakfast, it's much less expensive and a fun twist on your usual date plans.



What's your favorite date idea to go on during the holiday season? Comment below along with any terrible Christmas movies I should add to my list!
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Gift Guide for Pet Lovers

The holidays may be the happiest time of year, but for some the beginning of December symbolizes stressing over trying to find everyone on your list the perfect gift.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that our pets mean everything to us, which makes them the perfect cheat sheet for when you're not sure what to buy someone for the holidays. Whether you got paired with someone you don't know well for Secret Santa or just aren't sure where to start, picking up something for their pet is an easy way to get it right every single time.

No matter if you're doing your shopping at the mall or your local pet store, there's bound to be something to appeal to any animal lover wherever you go. Read on to see the gift giving ideas for pet lovers, plus a few extra gift guides for the other people in your live.





Cat dome

For cats who enjoy to nap comfortably and privately, covered cat beds are an inexpensive gift that won't get lost under the bed within a few hours.

Leashes

You can never have too many leashes, plus this is a guaranteed pet gift they'll use.

Dog lover tshirt

The Daily Tay has the best tshirts for animal lovers, and best of all, 20% of her proceeds directly benefit animal shelters. Her shop features tops for both dog and cat lovers.

Dog bed

Sure I love sharing my bed with my furry friends, but sometimes they can be a real bed hog. Places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls always have a plethora of inexpensive and stylish dog beds.

Food & drink bowls

You can never have too many feeding bowls, especially if the pet is feed wet food often. Picking up some new bowls along with some food is a simple yet thoughtful gift.

Cat scratcher

With so many hilarious cat scratchers out there now, there's no reason to have a standard boring cat scratcher nowadays. If you're looking for something more simple than this DJ turntable, Target always has seasonal ones for not too much.

Basket of toys

Pets can never have enough toys, okay maybe they can, but who can resist spoiling them? I'm especially obsessed with having holiday toys, plus they make great stocking stuffers.

Outerwear

Maybe cats don't need outerwear, but dogs definitely need a sweater during the cold months of the year. Sure it's a little embarrassing for them, but better to be bundled up than sorry.

Pet treats

If all else fails and you cant think of anything, stock up on a bunch of different treat options! With bags costing around two dollars each, you can grab a variety of snacks and know that your gift will be the pets favorite.


If you're looking for ideas for the guy in your life or your boyfriend's parents, click the link for full proof ideas no matter the person!
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How to Prepare Yourself to Go Home for the Holidays

Going home for the holidays is always strange, whether you just finished your first semester of college or you've been out of the house for years. Spending weeks in your childhood bedroom while your mom keeps an eye on you is hard to get used to, especially when you've grown accustomed to coming home when you like and eating popcorn for dinner.

To help with having the best holiday possible, it's important to prepare yourself to go back home, or even be around family again. Below are a list of things you can do before your trip to make sure you're as prepared as possible, plus a bunch of resources on what to do with your time besides Netflix binges.


What to take with you

Books you wont be using

Save space in your dorm room by taking back the books you won't be using once the semester is over. If you don't think you'll be using them ever again, you can try selling them online, otherwise I recommend taking them home to clear space for next semester's books.

Clothes that isn't season appropriate anymore

Winter is coming, meaning there's no need for you to hold onto all your summer clothes until next season. Bring home with you anything you won't be wearing for the next few months, but be sure to store it somewhere memorable so you can pick it all back up during spring break.

Items you packed but never used

Everyone packs items for college that they never actually use. In my case, I packed way too many novels and desk accessories. Anything you haven't used all semester should be taken home to free up space in your room.

Related Post: 10 Things You Don't Need to Pack for Your Freshmen Year of College

What to do once back home

Plan with friends ahead of time

Dividing your time between friends and family can be difficult, which is why it's better to plan ahead of time so you don't miss out on the chance to see either. Talk to friends ahead of time to pick a day you can all hang out, this way you can all make sure to leave that day and time free of any plans.

Make time to see family

Even though hanging out with friends may sometimes feel like more fun, chances are you make more of an effort to keep in touch with them year round. Make sure to spend a some time with just family, doing so with give them the opportunity to catch up with you and vice versa.

Give yourself some time to do nothing

Maybe this is just me, but I need at least one day a week to do absolutely nothing. Choose a day, or a couple, to spend some time at home doing nothing more than lounging or catching up on your favorite TV shows. Giving yourself the time to relax is important after a long semester of reading assignments and exams.

Things to do once you're home

Celebrate the holidays with your best friends

The holiday season doesn't have to be limited to just your family. If you're looking for ways to celebrate with your friends, click here for ideas of things to do at every budget.

Related Post: How to Celebrate the Holidays With Your Best Friends

Dates to go on with your boyfriend

In certain parts of the country fall is still in full swing. Fall date ideas are an easy way to figure out what to do on your night out without the hassle of arguing whose turn it is to choose.



So tell me, when's the last time you went home for Christmas? For me it was four years ago, and I'm pretty sure my mom still had me on a curfew. 

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How to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Best Friends

The holidays can be stressful enough, but not having anyone to celebrate with can make them all the more anxiety inducing. If you're a student who is far from home during the holiday season or just someone who no longer lives close to home, celebrating doesn't have to be limited to the traditions you once did with your family.

To avoid spending the holidays alone, or just do something before you all split ways, pick a few friends in the area to do all your holiday activities with. Whether you have a full weekend to fill or just a night of festivities, choose any of the activities below to celebrate Christmas with your best friends.

Related Post: The 12 Best Things That Happen in the Month of December



1. Organize a classic movie marathon

Have each one of you choose your favorite holiday movie from your childhood and host a classic movie marathon. You can provide snacks or have everyone bring their favorite candy/food to share.

2. Then watch some terrible made for TV movies

The holidays are known for their terrible made for TV movies, which is why you have to watch at least one this holiday season. Lifetime and ABC Family are great networks to find the perfect movie to make you cringe till you laugh.

3. Bake together

Sure you can buy dessert ready to eat at your bakery, but what's the fun in that? Pick up a box of mix, or better yet, try doing it from scratch.

4. Visit the ice rink

Most cities have ice rinks during the winter months, even though that never see real snow. Find one in your area and be sure to wear plenty of layers if you don't know how to ice skate. It helps to soften the landing for when you eventually fall on your butt.

5. Host a gift swap

If you're a little low on cash this season but still wanna swap gifts, opt to do a gift swap. Instead of buying everyone a gift, draw names out of a hat and put all your effort into the person you chose.

Related Post: 12 Important Lessons from 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' for Twenty Somethings

6. Take a holiday picture

Who says holiday cards are just for families? Maybe you don't have to get the photo professional printed, but it could at least have a place on your fridge.

7. Have a gingerbread house competition

Stores like Target sell ready to make gingerbread houses for less than the price of a movie ticket. Plus, you can do this activity while having your movie marathon.

8. Go ugly sweater hunting

Big box stores have really taken the fun out of ugly Christmas sweaters. Spend an afternoon visiting your local thrift stores and find an ugly Christmas sweater that would make your grandma proud.

9. Attend a nearby festival

Here in the city different neighborhoods host free to attend holiday festivals throughout the month of December. Go on your city's website and see what is happening in your area.

10. Take a day trip somewhere

If your city isn't hosting anything or it's just nothing you're interested in, consider taking a day trip somewhere nearby. Ideas could range from going to a Christmas tree farm, renting out a cabin or visiting the nearest place that gets snow in the winter.


How do you like to celebrate the holidays with your friends? Drop any ideas in the comment section below!
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December Goals + Ending the Year Strong

What I'm about to say is going to sound completely ridiculous but it's the truth, I swear. I bought one of those Happy Planners over Thanksgiving weekend and I have never been so motivated. It's basically already the new year in my apartment, or at least that's the level of motivation I'm feeling.

Something about having an excuse to use stickers and color code the shit I usually like to ignore has me pumped for the month of December, so I'm going to hold onto this feeling for as long as I can.


During the month of November I set goals, both blog related and personal, to keep me accountable for the things I wanted to get done. Being that I'm writing this post on November 28th, I technically still have three more days to wrap up anything I left unfinished. Below is a quick recap on how I did on my November goals, plus my realistic goals for the month of December.

November Goals: So how did I do?

Increase page view by 2,000 > Success
Not only did I increase my page views by over 2,000, I actually met my yearly page view goal! This one I want to scream from the rooftops because I would have never predicted this could happen after a five month hiatus. 

Write more about me > Fail
So I didn't technically publish any personal posts, life got in the way a bit, but I did write some pieces that I'm excited to publish in the new year.

Update my popular posts page > Success
When I started drafting this post I realized this had fallen to the back of my mind, but thankfully I created a new one just in time. Click here to see the updated popular posts page.

Go on a hike > Success
Mission accomplished. After the election that left the country in shock, a few girls and I unplugged for a few hours and hiked through Rock Creek Park.

Sort through my closet > Success
This took days but I'm so glad I took the time to do it. My next project will be to sell anything of value and donate the rest to a local charity.

Plan at least one meet up per week > Success
Even though I wasn't able to see the girls every week, I made sure to plan enough meet ups for the month of November. December is currently packed with events to help with the feelings of not being around friends and family during the holidays .

December Goals: Ending the Year Strong

Blog Related Goals

Increase page views by 15%

December has always been a great month for my stats, with my gift guides for every type of guy and boyfriend's parents pulling in views with no effort. With a few more similar posts coming out soon, I'm hoping to make this my most successful month this quarter.

Publish one personal post

Last month was a fail, so I'm setting a more realistic goal of one personal post. Gonna pencil this is all over my new planner to make sure I don't forget or avoid it.

Promote my top performing posts

Gotta get those page views somehow, so I'm thinking of ramping up my pins and possibly creating a Facebook ad for my gift guide on what to buy your boyfriend's parents.

Everyday Life Goals

Use Happy Planner entire month

Research shows it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, so what better month to train myself to be more organized than December? I spent a good chunk of money on my Happy Planner, so I'm going to pray to all the deities that I don't toss it in my junk drawer by February.

Start thinking about resolutions for 2017

Resolutions have been a big deal to me since 2012. It was that year that I believe I truly set up my life to be what it is today. Because I care so much about yearly goals, I like to plan them early, which is why I wanna have my resolutions written down before New Years Eve.

Host event for members who cant go home for the holidays

I mentioned last month how a run a group for twenty somethings in the city, mainly girls new to the area who are looking to build a social support system. With so many people leaving the area for the holidays, I cant think of a better time to host a low key event to combat the lonely feelings that come with being in the city during the holidays.


So how about you, do you have any goals for the month of December? If so, leave a comment below with one of your goals or better yet, share you secrets on where to buy all those amazing planner stickers I've seen all over Instagram!

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