What I’m Doing Over Christmas Break

Thank goodness Christmas break is here! I have a fairly busy schedule ahead of me, but I’m excited for all of the holiday festivities!

The most important thing for me to do this break is apply to colleges. I hope to use my time off from school wisely so that I don’t have extra work to do when classes start again. There are a few things, such as my official Manor transcript, that I’m waiting to send until my Fall semester grades are submitted.  On the other hand, I’m forcing myself to complete the Common Application over break.

If I have time this break, I would love to get ahead on my job search for the summer. I’m not sure where or what I want to do, but I know that I need to make money to pay for college. Wish me luck!

When it comes to my holiday to-do list, I’m looking forward to baking for Christmas. I enjoy baking and brightening someone’s day through the desserts I made. Baked goods also make great, affordable gifts for friends and family. Looking for gift ideas? Check out my blog on holiday gifts for friends and family.

On top of baking gifts for my family and friends, I’m looking forward to attending the Tableaux at my church. The event is always a peaceful evening that never fails to get me in the holiday spirit! I especially love the song, “Mary Did You Know”, that the shepherds sing. To this day, I have yet to find a version online that sounds as good as the version sung in our Cathedral.

After Christmas, I will be visiting my boyfriend before classes start up again. This is our third year in a long distance relationship, and unfortunately we can’t visit each other as much as we would like, because we’re both in college. I’m excited to spend time and laughter with him before it’s time to focus on another semester of classes and work!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and an enjoyable break, see you in 2015!

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Top 10 Gifts For Your Family And Friends

When it comes to giving, my favorite gifts are homemade, because not only are they affordable for a poor college student, but they often have more value than a store-bought gift. Due to this, the majority of the gifts on this list are DIY’s (Do It Yourself), but note that they’re simple ones, because I’m not artistic. I’ve included a few Manor items that can be store bought, for those who don’t want to attempt to create gifts. If you were at the Holiday Celebration on Wednesday, you might have seen or made the first two items on this list (shout out to Liz for bringing them to my attention).

facialscrubDIY Face Scrub:This gift is perfect for all of your girlfriends and sisters, and it’s made from ingredients you already have in your kitchen: brown sugar, olive oil, honey, and vanilla. Combined, they create an exfoliation powerhouse! This face scrub is super simple, just mix it all together and store in an airtight container. To add a festive touch, tie it up with a holiday ribbon or cloth.

2 ¼ cups brown sugar

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

DIY Baking Soda Air Freshener: Quite possibly the easiest gift to make on this list, the baking soda air freshener is great for your mom, sisters, and girlfriends (and your brothers and guy friends, but that may be more of a gift to yourself than to them).

This air freshener is made with only two ingredients:

½ cup baking soda

1 tsp essential oil

Place the baking soda in a jar, and pour the essential oil on top. Cover the jar with fabric or paper, and poke holes in the cover to release the scent. To release more scent, shake the jar.

santa hat browniesSanta Hat Brownies: I found these adorable holiday brownies on Pinterest and fell in love! Obviously, my first two gift ideas aren’t ideal for men, but with this gift, you can be creative while making something they’ll love! Bake some mini brownies, ice with white icing, place a strawberry upside down on top, and finish with a dab of white icing on the tip of the strawberry. The holidays don’t get much cuter than that!

DIY Button Bookmarks: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I depend on being organized, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I snuck an organizational gift on this list. I know that my mom and sisters would enjoy this gift, especially because it isn’t something that will add clutter to our house. The button bookmarks are easily made by gluing a button onto a colorful paperclip, and placing a little piece of felt onto the back. Not only is this gift adorable, but it’s useful! Click here for the tutorial:

http://www.iheartnaptime.net/button-bookmarks/

hot chocolate snowmenDIY Hot Chocolate Mixes: At this time of year, hot chocolate is fitting for everyone on your Christmas list! Hot chocolate might be the most fun to give as a gift because of all of the packaging options. Last Christmas, I gave my family hot chocolate in reindeer jars, and everyone thought it was cute and creative. I actually created my own hot chocolate mix using a recipe I found online, but that’s up to you. The steps to create a hot chocolate gift jar vary depending on what you’re making. Luckily, all of the pictures are pretty self-explanatory (how cool is Santa?!).
My experience:  I thought that the peppermint wrappers would look messy, so I unwrapped them before placing them in the jar. In the end, removing the wrappers only caused the mints to stick to each other and the marshmallows.  I did notice that, in the reindeer jar, the marshmallows dried out overtime. Therefore, if you have enough jars, I would recommend creating the snowman.

Cookies: It’s pretty difficult to go wrong with cookies, especially for someone like your dad or brother. Luckily, you can decorate cookies so that they fit anyone on your list! Sugar cookies are easy to decorate with a bit of colorful icing, and taste great. If you’re looking for something more complicated, reindeer can be made using Nutter Butter cookies and pretzels. With a quick internet search, many more cookie decorating options will pop up.

paperplateclockDIY Paper Plate Clock: Have a friend or sibling living in a dorm room or on their own? This paper plate clock is super cute and very easy to make. The only materials that are needed are a paper plate, a clock kit, and Velcro if you want to use that to hang it. You can find a clock kit on eBay for anywhere between $2 and $15. A tutorial can be found here.

chocolate pretzel rodsChocolate Dipped Food: Here’s another food gift item, and this one is easy and a lot of fun to make. Last year, my cousins, sisters, and I got together for a strawberry-dipping evening with my “Poppop”. We had a lot of fun listening to Christmas music while dipping everything in the kitchen into the chocolate. As a strawberry-dipping event, we obviously began with strawberries, but by the end we also had pretzels, cookies and nuts covered in chocolate. The downfall with this gift idea is that you may not have any left to gift after you’ve eaten the majority of what you made. Therefore, self-control is important if you decide to make this. Special dipping chocolate can be bought in the grocery store, heated in the microwave, and hardened in the refrigerator.

shirtManor Shirt: This super soft, blue Manor College shirt would make a great gift for your sister. It’s soft enough that she could wear it to bed, but cute enough that she’ll want to wear it out. Don’t believe me? Check it out in the campus store, I promise you’ll be surprised!

hoodie2Manor College Sweatshirt: Is your dad hard to shop for? This comfortable and warm Manor College sweatshirt is perfect for him! With a quarter zip in the front, and a zippered pocket on the arm, it can offer him what most hoodies don’t have. I have one sweatshirt with a quarter zip, and it’s by far my favorite.

I wish you luck on your holiday shopping and projects! What are you making for the holidays?