Happy New Year!

December 31, 2018
We made it to the last day of 2018! It's a miserably wet, cold day here making it the perfect weather to snuggle up and reflect on the newest crop of memories made and dream of the days that lie ahead in 2019. Since no one is making it to see the ball drop at midnight tonight (let's face it, this includes a 9 p.m. bedtime for me too), we had a little "Noon Year's Eve" party this afternoon with the kids and celebrated a fresh start at the same time that they celebrated 2019's entrance in China.

I try not to make too many resolutions because, for me, they tend to fizzle out before Valentine's Day chocolates are devoured. So fitness, healthy eating, less screen time...those are all lifestyle changes that we try to continue incorporating throughout the year by testing new recipes and adding them to the weekly rotation if they become favorites and finding fun ways to get our wiggles out as a family season after season.

I DO like to start the new year with a phrase or motto in mind and this year I'll stick with one that has been a favorite for awhile: "Have courage and be kind." From the 2015 version of Cinderella, this saying proves that sometimes simple says it best and as I approach the new year I'd like to do so with insecurities in the rear-view mirror and empathy available, always. You never know what someone is going through after all. For every friend you know that had their "best year ever," you may have one quietly suffering through their toughest season yet. For every person in your life who found "success" in their personal, professional, entrepreneurial, or even just their social media-curated version of life, you probably have one who is afraid to turn a dream into a goal. A little consideration for the fact that everyone is walking along their own path on their own timeline as well as the guts to take personal risks and finish projects that were started in 2018 are my M.O. as we step into another new year, together.

Happy New Year, friends!

Sweet Louise & Company

Celebrate: A Playlist for Gift Wrapping

December 16, 2018
Oooh we're in that sweet spot of December when there are still plenty of Christmas activities to knock off the list, but the anticipation of the actual day is really starting to build. With less than two weeks to go, my husband and I started the gift wrapping process which, to be honest, is one that I sort of dread. I usually wait until the last minute making it a stressful chore and by then I rush through and get frustrated that I don't have those gorgeous-Pinterest-worthy-wrapped gifts for my little people to tear open in seconds on Christmas morning. Ha. We decided that this year would be different. I picked out wrapping paper early (yes, I LOVE to coordinate a wrapping paper theme every year) and with a cup of hot cocoa in hand and a Christmas classic on, we started by wrapping a few gifts the other night. And surprise, surprise, it was actually so enjoyable! With a plan in place to knock out a handful of gifts every few nights, I think a gift wrapping lover might be born this year. It's a Christmas miracle.

If you, like me, are a skeptic of the alleged "joy" in gift wrapping, I'm telling you that arming yourself with a festive beverage and some Clark Griswold earlier than the night of the 24th might change your tune. For further encouragement, I have put together a playlist of Christmas music that makes the perfect backdrop for smiling under the twinkle lights while you attach the final ribbon and tag. Or at the very least is nice to listen to while you throw the last gift into the box that your new vacuum came in last summer and was stashed in your basement collecting dust just waiting for it's moment to get a bow slapped on it and shine. Happy wrapping!

Ultimate Gift Wrapping Playlist

1. (Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With The Bag (Thunderball Mix)- Kay Starr
This is a track from "Merry Mixmas" and the whole album is actually awesome. It would be the perfect soundtrack on its own for gift wrapping OR sipping holiday cocktails at any party you're hosting this season.

2. All I Want For Christmas Is You- Mariah Carey
Truly iconic and it wouldn't be Christmas without this one. Does anyone else feel like the first time they hear this song it actually kicks off the holiday season?

3. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo (Malibu Remix)- Billy May
Another one from "Merry Mixmas" and just festive as hell.

4. Lonely Without You (This Christmas)- Mick Jagger and Joss Stone
This obscure little bluesy song is featured in the Jude Law remake of "Alfie" but is worth noting because Joss Stone is completely underrated and it is also from the movie that kicked off my years-long love affair with Sienna Miller's street style.

5. White Christmas- Bing Crosby
A holiday classic, this song tugs at my heartstrings and is also the titular song from my absolute favorite Christmas movie of all time.

6. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town- Bruce Springstein
This one is my husband's favorite, so of course I included it for him! I also love Clarence's sax solo...sax + Christmas = good.

7. What Christmas Means To Me- Stevie Wonder
If this song is on, I instantly feel good.

8. Christmas Wrapping- The Waitresses
This song is so cheesy, but I can't help including this one on my annual playlist. It's a keeper!

9. The Christmas Song- Nat King Cole
I have an entire Pandora radio station of Traditional Christmas Classics, but this song just SOUNDS like Christmas. One of the very best.

10. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays- N*Sync
I wouldn't be a product of my generation if I didn't throw this gem on the playlist.

11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Frank Sinatra (ok, ANY version of this song)
This is the one. This is the one you listen to before you you go to sleep on Christmas Eve. Maybe it's just that I'm sentimental, but I can't listen this song without a little tear in my eye.

Holiday Gifting 2018: For Him

December 02, 2018

I'm so excited about today's gift guide because all the items are hand selected and 100% great-guy approved by my favorite "him" ever- my husband, Kyle! I was glad to have his help with this one because it is my personal opinion that men are more difficult to shop for than women. I'm serious! Men's gifts tend to be either way too practical to be fun OR way too gimmicky to be tasteful. I have truly never come across a Men's Gift Guide that featured things I would ACTUALLY buy for my husband. So, I'm glad to have a list of items that someone I trust would genuinely love to receive. Whether you're shopping for your dad, your brother-in-law, your best friend or your significant other, trust me when I say that there is something for you in this guide.

1. PlayStation Virtual Reality: The next generation of technology has arrived and for the guy who is into tech and gaming, this VR System has one of the best rankings out there.
2. Northface E-tip Gloves: Perfect for those of you who live in an Arctic tundra half of the year like I do, these gloves blend functionality with style to allow your guy to send you love notes even on the coldest days (or to read the text you sent reminding him to bring home more hot cocoa).
3. Nomad Rugged iPhone Case: Durable and stylish without being overtly trendy, this case works and won't need to be constantly replaced.
4. Ray Ban Wayfarer: Another timeless classic, these sunglasses are flattering on every face shape (making them even better for "borrowing") and add the perfect dash of devil may care attitude to any look- even your Dad's favorite Lee jeans/sweater combo that he'll be wearing at your family party.
5. Gentleman Jon Shaving Kit: An old-fashioned shave kit is a cool artisan gift to give that is not only practical, but also looks great on display. This brand really gives you the best and most well-rounded assortment of shaving accessories for the price, so you really get more bang for your buck out of this one.
6. Farm Field Table: For my Michigan friends, this is a local butcher that supplies meat to some of the best restaurants across the state, but you can also buy fresh cuts to prepare in your own kitchen. The quality is outstanding and if you know a guy who loves to be in the kitchen as much as my husband does, this is a really unique and thoughtful gift.
7. Instashiatsu Foot Massager: Let's be honest- this foot massager, much like the Wayfarers, will be the gift that keeps on giving (right back to me) if it finds its way under my tree this year.
8. Brooklyn Brew Beer Making Kit: If one of the guys in your life is into craft beer, this is a cool way to turn his interest into a hobby. Follow up the gift with giving the gift of time and sampling the results over a movie night in after the holidays.
9. Gentlemen's Hardware Credit Card Tool: It's the modern version of a Swiss Army knife and SO much easier to carry around! Featuring a screwdriver, bottle opener and mini saw, this would make a fun and functional stocking stuffer.
10. Jabra Elite 65T: As far as wireless earbuds go, this pair is highly rated for having great sound quality and durability. These are a great gift for the music loving, podcast loving and tech loving guys in your life.