I know, I know. It's been an extremely long time since I've blogged. I still read many blogs, but I just fell out of love with writing them, and I got so lazy about taking photos, and I just didn't have a lot of time anyway (with four classes, twelve hours of work, a daily commute, and running a publishing club).
It's not the New Year yet, but I would love to get back into the swing of things. I'm still working on my Thirty Before Thirty list and I come up with blog ideas left and right. So here I am, re-opening Pennies & Paper with one of the most basic, simple, and narcissistic of posts: a Christmas Gift "Haul". I sort of did one of these last year for Christmas Eve and Day, mixing it with event and outfit photos. But this year I'll split it up: gifts now, outfits and events later (and I am SO pleased with my outfits xD).
First, a few disclaimers. This sort of post goes super well with beauty and/or fashion bloggers, or with vloggers. I am neither, but since I'm a mixture/lifestyle blog and harbor a secret desire to be a model I've decided it's appropriate. I also have an alterior motive: I'm writing thank you cards today and, even if I don't specify who gave me what, this will help me properly appreciate each gift and figure out what to write about them. And finally, I am not trying to brag. I am just eternally grateful for my family members giving me gifts on top of everything elese--material and otherwise--that they give me every day.
On to the goodies--chronologically, of course.
This year I bought a few things close enough to Christmas that I'm considering them gifts for myself. I also had a Secret Santa with friends--so much fun and good snacks and clever, thoughtful gifts :)
When I bought tea gifts and my daily tea (Second Flush Darjeeling) I also picked up a little tin of a DavidsTea seasonal, Santa's Secret. The Alex and Ani bracelet came about because my work gave me 40% off three Alex and Anis; I had none, and I wanted to buy two for gifts anyway, so I'm starting myself off with this Plume Feather Wrap (and I got Mom one as well, check it out on Instagram!). As for the beauty products, I used my points from my Birchbox account to get Mom part of her gift. The TokyoMilk Lip Exlixir in Salted Caramel was to earn me extra points with a code, and after spending $35 I got the Mystery Sample Pack for free, and it turned out to be a nice-smelling Catherine Malandrino Eau De Parfum and Paula's Choice Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum. As for my Secret Santa gift, it's still in-transit from the interwebs, but my friend got me these super perfect Quote Studs (can't wait to wear them!). I also found two free books at the Secret Santa. My work also gave me two movie passes. Finally, a few months ago my mom gave me an early gift of six boxes of whole wheat pasta...so I wouldn't starve, of course. So thoughftul xD
In last year's blog posts I mentioned that we spend Christmas Eve with my mom's parents and sister. We did that again this year, going to church and then my aunt's for delicious food, followed by gifts. My grandparents and aunt good and truly spoiled me.
From my aunt I got the festive Bell Bracelet, which I wore the rest of the holiday. She also got me the cute Santa Ornament for the little fake tree I bought for my apartment. And then the real kicker was the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (or, as Maura likes to call it "Padagucci" xD). She picked out a gorgeous cobalt blue one for me, and it will be percect for skiing :)
My grandparents really outdid themselves and got me a new camera! I wasn't expecting to actually get this, although my dad had me doing research on what camera I would want next (I've had my D40 for six years and have long wanted an upgrade). And if I did get it, I was expecting a used body. But they bought me a brand-new kit, with a new Nikon D5300 body, 18-55mm lens, a 16GB memory card, and all the trappings. So in love with this, and have been playing around with all my new options and settings since...already it's doing so much better with low lighting and my Sigma lens than my D40 did!
On Christmas Day we do stockings and family gifts, as well as gifts later in the day with my dad's family.
There's something so fun about stockings, and I love that my parents always take the time to fill ours with a mix of yummy, fun, and useful things. (Side note: I only realized this year that many families have a stocking for everyone, and not just us kids. Oops!) This year I got a Portable Power Bank for charging my phone, hand warmers, gum, cough drops, and (a perennial favorite) Sour Patch kids.
For family gifts, my parents got me way too much: a T-Fal Frying Pan,Mini Jambox Speakers, two Yoga Blocks (which I nearly bought for myself a few weeks ago...Santa must have swayed me otherwise ;)), and a beautiful Max Studio Sweater Dress (Mom has many dresses from them and I always love them).My brother spoiled me with a pair of gorgeous purple Ray Ban Sunglasses. (I've aquired quite a few sunglasses in the past few years and really need to get in the habit of wearing them regularly. Does anyone have any fun, safe display ideas for sunglasses.)
The last family gift is not pictured here: tickets to see U2 in concert later this year! I can't get over this. U2 is a band I grew up hearing and that has had a huge influence on my life...I even wrote my college essay about listening to U2 in cars in Vermont! (Thank you thank you thank you, parents and Santa and my uncle who got the tickets for us :D)
At Christmas dinner, we only do gifts from godparents (because there are just too many of us!). My uncle gave me this simple but stunning Moon Necklace. It's very me and I cannot wait to wear it! My aunt, who is not my godmother but picks out my gifts, likes delicate, beautiful things just as much as I do :)
I also received some money, which I will be using to pad out my Roth IRA bucket in my savings--I haven't opened an actual Roth yet because I have a minimum I need first, but I'm getting very close and this will help!
I am glad that, now that I'm older (adult, technically, ick), my gifts are more significant and useful--and I hope the gifts I chose for other people were successful in that regard as well! How was your Christmas/Yule/Kwanza/etc.? If you have a gift post I would love to read it, so please post it in the comments!