Vlogmas: What I've Been Watching

So, are we all watching Vlogmas this year? Is that still a popular thing? I ask because I genuinely don't know. I haven't noticed anyone else talking about it this month. I'm often oblivious though. Anyway, I've been enjoying Vlogmas this year. I'm not watching as many as I have in the past, but the hand full I do watch have been so sweet to play in the background while I work. I've been watching: 

Have you been watching?

More Nature for a Faux Tree

I can't stop putting leaves in my artificial Christmas tree. I think it's the internal yearning for a real tree that's getting to me, but I live with my parents, and my mother can't candle the smell. Alas, I'll stick to pressing leaves to place around in my fake tree. I also spray painted a few silver for a frosty, Winter look. 

I pressed the leaves for this projects just in time, because actual Winter blew in the following night, and all of the pretty red and yellow leaves curled up and died. It's finally Winter here y'all, and I'm freezing. I always want the weather to be cold, and I romanticize layering and fireplaces year-round, but when the cold actually comes, my wimpy Southerner side comes through. I am a cold lady, and no one will show me how to use the fireplace. One day I'll figure out how to go about Winter properly.

Anyway, happy Monday and all of that. How are your festivities coming along? 

A Gift Guide for All

Another gift guide! You're welcome. (That was sarcasm.) This gift guide isn't specifically themed. It's more so full of miscellaneous pieces that would be great for most people on your list. I hope this helps!

Alcohol - Obviously this is for those who are of legal drinking age. If someone on your list likes to drink at all, ever, consider buying them some booze! You can easily go with their favorites and/or something "odd" that they wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves. 

Matching Sets - Gift sets are never a bad idea, especially when you're stumped on what to get someone. This *William Morris pouch and notebook set is a cute idea for anyone, and I mean anyone. Students, parents, your average adult who likes to keep a list or two, etc.

Calendars/Planners - A Calendar or planner is a great idea for anyone who likes to plan out their days or works in an office. They're even great for meal planning. The calendars included in this gift guide are from *Workman, and they're so sweet. The "Paint by Sticker" calendar looks so fun, and the "Today Is Going to Be a Great Day" calendar is very Instagram worthy. A good planner can be a little pricey if you're on a budget, but it'll be much appreciated, believe me.

Candles - Who doesn't like candles? Actually, the options are endless when it comes to candles, so your answer is everyone. Everyone likes candles. Go for a nice big scented one, or consider tapers and a matching set of candle holders. You can't go wrong!

Books - Okay, I get that not everyone wants books, but I think that they're fantastic. I posted a gift guide completely dedicated to books last month (you can see that here), but I couldn't not include this gorgeous copy of *"The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker." It's technically a children's book, but I'd even gift it to any adult in your life who is fond of The Nutcracker and/or lovely illustrations. I was VERY tempted to keep it for myself, but it's now wrapped up and ready for my niece. 

Knitwear - This is possibly a tricky item, but knitwear is a perfect gift for anyone who lives somewhere that experiences even a little bit of Winter. I know I always love when I receive knitwear for Christmas. If you don't know someone's size and/or you don't want to risk getting it wrong, consider a nice knit throw/shawl or a scarf. There are plenty of options here!

I also wanted to include some other gift guides that I've admired this season. You should definitely check them out for more ideas.

*Items marked with an asterisk (*) were gifted. They're all genuinely recommended, and I'm re-gifting them myself.

To Hear the Forest Sing

"To Hear the Forest Sing" by Margaret Dulaney is described as a "collection of memoirs," and "the result of... literary exploration of the wisdom of the world('s) religions." December is an appropriate time to think about this, right? 

My own relationship with God is a fickle thing, and not something I usually address over here. When this book was brought to my attention, the religious aspect turned me off immediately, until I read a little further into the descriptive blurbs and realized that this book is not overwhelmingly heavy with traditional religious text. The author herself writes about a variety of religious ideals and seems to stray away from strict traditional beliefs. I can respect that.

I think there are a lot of people who are lost when it comes to religion. We don't fit into a specific box for any number of reasons, but we still crave something to believe in. We still want to be somewhat spiritual people, for many particularly around this time of year. Honestly, if you relate to that as well, I really recommend this book. It's so nice to read through these essays and take time to mull over them, to find common ground within them. How do Dulaney's stories relate to your own?

However, more than religion or spirituality, I (personally) feel that these essays are simply about life. They tell of the webs we weave, and how different paths, even those of complete strangers, intersect. They tell of how these intersections can relate back to the aforementioned topics, but it a way that that makes you think about life more than anything.

Life and beyond are mysterious, and Dulaney's musings on such make for a fascinating read.

You can learn more about Margaret Dulaney at listenwell.org. This book was gifted, but my opinions are my own.

Real Nature for Your Faux Tree

I found these clear ornaments in a dollar store a few months ago, and I knew I had to do something with them. My own tree is artificial and very much lacking in literal touches of nature. I spent Sunday morning gathering leaves and twigs from my backyard to fill the ornaments with. It was actually a very nice way to spend a Sunday morning.

I originally filled both ornaments with leaves and twigs, but as I was hanging them on the tree, I saw a dish of dried rose petals on my windowsill, and I immediately switched out the contents of one of the ornaments. They don't match, but they're equally charming.

Is this something you would try?

The Annual Christmas Playlist

Goodness. It's been a long weekend. Not a bad thing personally, but politically and socially, I'm exhausted. Fuck the GOP. Can I start a Christmas post with that? I'm doing it. Fuck the GOP. 

Anyway, I thought it'd be nice to kick the week off with some festive tunes. Admittedly, this is the same playlist I share every year, but it's timeless in my opinion, and I hope you'll like it too.

I hope your week is wonderful.

December Edit

(one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight)

Okay so, all of this edit is pretty pricey. Keep in mind that this is just a monthly edit, not a gift guide. Expect a gift guide next week. This is a normal monthly edit that I'm using to implement one of my New Year Resolutions - to stop buying myself fast fashion pieces. 

I can't afford any of this shit right now. I can't. I just finished buying Christmas gifts and birthday gifts, and tax season is soon. However, I'm going into 2018 and my 23rd year on this planet with the mindset of quality over quantity, small businesses over large corporations, and shopping smart. I want to know more about what I'm buying, you know? Of course, combining all of that with larger sizes will prove to be a challenge, I'm sure.

I've been lucky enough this year to receive some hand-me-downs from my mother that are better quality, and were more expensive than things I typically buy myself. These pieces have lasted years in her closet, and they're in much better shape than most things I previously owned. I also recently bought myself a pair of Levi's jeans, which I was thrilled about, and that was kind of the point where I thought "Why do I feel like I constantly have to buy cheap shit?" Because why?! 

I blame blogging, but hear me out. I love this space, but there's a lot of pressure to have the latest trends and/or have new things to post about every week. I'm so exhausted with that idea, so I quit. I'm not going to buy so much junk. I'll save my money and buy quality pieces that will last years and it will be glorious.

So anyway, about the pieces in this edit. I'm really into nice, transitional knits and cozy pieces to stay warm and timeless into Winter. I'm so ready for the peace of Winter. I love Winter. 

My Holiday Bucket List

I don't know about you, but I love a good list. When I saw this post from A Beautiful Mess, I knew I had to do my own. Original post? Nah, but it's fun. I, like probably all of you, have a lot of festive mess going on, so I'm separating my list into two parts: Festive Fun and Work Life. Double the lists, double the fun.

Festive Fun:
  • Bake Christmas Cookies
  • Watch The Nutcracker (on YouTube because I'm too broke to see it in person)
  • Listen to my entire Christmas playlist
  • Find and wear the sparkliest nail polish
  • Wrap all of the gifts, have fun with it, make 'em pretty

Work Life:
  • Take photos for all Christmas posts
  • Create a mood board for January/the new year/you get it
  • Start planning and scheduling posts
  • Make an actual resolution list this year. Keep the lists coming.
  • Maybe do Christmas food prep a day or two earlier?

Homemade Apple Cider

Last year I decided to set a holiday food goal for myself. I want to learn how to make something new every year. Last year was all about bread, and this year has been all about apple cider. By "all about" I mean I've made it twice, but I thought I'd share the recipe anyway.

The recipe I use is taken from a few different ones, and altered a bit by yours truly. It's kind of an excessive all day process, but it's a nice process. I pretty much throw everything in a Crock Pot and leave it be while I go about my day. The house smelling lovely is an added bonus. Let me know if you make your own apple cider or try this recipe out!

Homemade Apple Cider


8-9 Apples (I prefer red delicious.)
1 large orange
1 jar cinnamon sticks (about 5-6)
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. cloves (ground or whole, though whole makes the cider more bitter)


1. Cut your apples in half and orange into 1/2 inch slices. Place them in the Crock Pot. Add your spices. Fill up the rest of the pot with water. "Cook" on low for at least 4-5 hours.

2. After 4-5 hours, take a spoon or potato masher (easier) and mash up everything in the pot. Put the lid back on, and let everything "cook" for another hour or two. This is really all by sight and taste y'all.

3. Strain all of the liquid from the mashed up mess and store in a pitcher! Sweeten the cider with honey or brown sugar, or whatever sweetener you prefer.

Traditions Are Changing

This Holiday weekend week absolutely killed me. I was a mess, and not in a bad way, but it was a lot. I was dying to get back to my routine after a few days. My brother and niece came to town, and my parents hosted Thanksgiving. I didn't work on a holiday for the first time in nearly five years.

I got to thinking about traditions; how they change and if they're really all that important. My family's Thanksgiving weekend traditions have always been a little wonky. We have the big meal with my mom's family, but there's never really a set place, or even a set meal. If my parents don't host, they'll usually cook their own small "classic" Thanksgiving meal over the weekend. Thanksgiving evening has traditionally been reserved for decking the halls for Christmas, complete with snacks and music and festive feelings. This is how the weekend has been spent for years and years, but this year was different.

I spent all of Wednesday in the kitchen, baking and prepping food, and cleaning up other rooms. On Thursday, as I've already mentioned, my parents hosted, so there wasn't a second meal. It was no more hectic than any other family occasion. My niece is a full grown toddler now, so we were all too busy spending time with her to bother with too much Christmas decorating on Thursday night and all of Friday. We all went to help my grandparents decorate on Saturday, and I was so over it after an hour. The week had caught up on me, and I suddenly understood the appeal of minimal Christmas decor.

This weekend I found myself biting my tongue more so than usual over awful political, social, and environmental opinions when I really wanted to argue until my head popped off. I suddenly realized that my nonchalance about staying in my hometown is hindering me, and I'm not appreciating the good things about this time of year near as much. Although my opinions on Thanksgiving are a whole other matter.

The usual traditions were practically trashed this year, but it wasn't a bad thing at all. I loved spending time with my brother and niece, and though I'm a bit sad that I'm (apparently) not so festive anymore, I feel like I've grown. This weekend has been a learning experience. I have a feeling that Christmas this year will be a lot different as well, and I can't even imagine what the Holidays will be like in the future.

And okay, this sounds really negative, but I don't think it is! I enjoyed decorating with my parents, and I enjoyed spending time with my brother and niece, but there were other factors, and I felt different.

It's time to trash the old traditions and create new ones. My mother told me that would come with adulthood, and she was right. She's always right. At least that never changes.

CaseApp for Two

I got a new phone a few months ago. I wanted one of those wallet cases for it so I didn't have to carry a purse around all of the time. It was fantastic at first, but it's incredibly irritating when you're trying to actually use your phone without a flap or strap falling in the way and/or showing your card information to anyone around you. I'd decided that I definitely wanted another case, a normal phone case if you will, and CaseApp hooked it up. 

CaseApp is a really great site where you can create your own customized phone cases and laptop skins, or shop from their chic pre-designed cases and skins. They made genuinely lovely products, and I've used their cases in the past. They stand up to a little wear and drop. Seriously, I dropped my previous phone too many times, but the case did what it needed to. The phone never broke, and it always looked cute.

They were kind enough to work with me again and share a 20% discount code for everyone. Use code AAMBERR20 at checkout for 20% off of your purchase until January 1, 2018.

I designed a nice little red snapdragon case for myself, and a white snapdragon case for my mother, adorned with her favorite title, and both from photos I took myself. This was a great spontaneous gift, but CaseApp would be a great holiday gift for anyone in your life. I'm just saying. 'Tis the season for gifting and all.

You can design your own customized case or skin here.

*Some items in this post were gifted, but all opinions are my own. Thanks to caseapp.com.

Unsatisfying Lucid Dreaming

I had my first truly self aware lucid dreaming experience this week. I've had similar experiences that were more on the nightmare-into-sleep-paralysis side, but this was my first completely normal (ish) moment of becoming aware that I'm in a dream.

It starts out as some days do - the dogs want out at five in the morning. I get up and take them to the back yard. My dad is up and in the kitchen getting breakfast before work. This is red flag one. He doesn't work on Monday, but I miss this one. I think I walk back to my bedroom for something, probably glasses, and walk back to the door. This is where I realize I'm in a dream. We have storm doors, and through the back storm door, I see Belle and Romeo, and a tiny tornado of a dog running around with them.

If you're new to this space, I've had three dogs. The baby of the bunch (still an old lady though) passed away from cancer earlier this year. When I saw Izzy running around, I suddenly said to myself, "Oh my God, this is a dream." Except I didn't want to be lucid dreaming, because like I mentioned, any previous near-experience with lucid dreaming has lead to.terrifying sleep paralysis. 

I immediately began to scream and run and break things - anything that might've made me wake up before the paranoia and shadows began to creep in. Eventually I did wake up, but I wasn't satisfied. I immediately wanted to go back into the dream to see all three of my dogs playing together again. I was sad, and I'm still pretty sad about it. Maybe one day it'll happen again, and I'll be able to make the most of it.

On a completely unrelated note; I'm trying to figure out how to comfortably do outfit posts. This was an experiment and a maybe. I don't know.

Today I've got to buckle down and schedule posts on various platforms and get some cleaning done. Tomorrow will be spent in the kitchen, baking pies and preparing hors d'oeuvres for Thanksgiving. Food prep is key y'all. Do some stuff in advance and save yourself the day of.

A Few of My Favorite Things

This week is going to be incredibly hectic, if not a little stressful, so I thought I'd kick it off by listing some things I've been loving lately. This is serving as a nice reminder to myself, and hopefully a prompt for you. So, some things I've been loving are: 

- The blanket in the top photo. I already featured it here, but I love wearing this as a shawl and/or scarf. I've been using is as such much more than I've been using it as an actual blanket. At this point, it's just a scarf.

- I stopped listening to music for awhile, with no explanation. That was actually really weird for me, but I've rekindled my love for Spotify over the last few days, and I've been listening to a pretty wide range of playlists and artists. Namely this playlist I made recently, and my trashcan of a yearly playlist. Um. I finally listened to the Harry Styles solo album. I'm a fan.

- Late nights. I love late nights. Over the last month or so, I fell into the responsible adult cycle of going to bed before midnight, but I threw that away over the weekend, and there's such comfort found in powering through the night to good music, be it on work or trying to finally clean and organize my little space. Some things fall through the cracks, but man, late nights make me feel alive. 

- The necklace pictured above. I've been wearing this for months now, and I tend to forget I have it on until I reach for it absentmindedly. 

- The bright points of the Holiday season. Though the actual days (ie Thursday - Thanksgiving) are a little bit stressful, they're wonderful. I'm so excited to make good food and drink and not feel guilt for it, and I'm so excited to decorate for Christmas Thursday night (and all weekend), and I'm so ready to work on Blogmas posts. FYI, all of the posts after this week through Christmas will be Christmas related. If that's not something you're into, sorry in advance.

What have you been loving lately? 

It's A Coat Edit!

(one, two, three, four, five, six)

I know, I know - another coat edit. Eh, coats are wonderful and why shouldn't every blogger compile a list of the coats they've got their eye on? I mentioned in yesterday's post that my own coat no longer fits, so I've been on the hunt for a new one. Honestly, none of these are actual contenders. They don't come in the right size, and they're out of my budget, because hello, Christmas shopping. Although $1,300 is out of my budget no matter the time of year. Not the point. My point is that I love these coats, I want these coats, and just go for the statement coat. 

Just live. Wear a bold coat.

What Unexpected Weight Gain is Really Like

Two years ago, my weight fluctuated around the 130-140 range. For context, I am currently 22 and only 5 feet tall (I haven't grown height-wise in a decade). Throughout most of my teenage years, I thought I was hideously overweight, but around age 19/20, I was finally able to love my body and accept it for what it was. I was happy with the way I looked. However, over the last two years, I've watched my weight pile on to an upsetting 194. 

This weight gain has posted a huge road block in my life. I know that sounds dramatic. It is. With this sixty pound weight gain, I have lost most of my self confidence. I stay home when I have opportunities to go out because I don't want people to see my body. I've grown to hate taking photos of myself. Seeing myself on camera instantly ruins my mood for the day. Sometimes just seeing myself in a mirror ruins my mood. 

Most of the weight gain has been within the last year. Autumn is well and truly here, and my only coat no longer fits. Most of my dresses no longer fit in the bust, because with weight gain comes breast gain. My dresses are now so tight on my chest that my breathing is hindered. I went up four jean sizes, and only just talked myself into buying a new pair last week.

I can't even tell you how I gained so much weight. I mean, there's the obvious - I work from home and rarely leave the house. That's not healthy at all. I went through a phase of trying birth control and antidepressants, but I've been off of both for roughly a year. I've tried cutting out dairy, cutting out meat, working out. I can't seem to lost the weight.

I have to keep trying though. My body is horrible and unhealthy, and I'll continue to try to lose weight, but I can't even tell myself that my attempts will be fruitful.  I just don't know. I think I want to talk about this openly to explain a few changes I'll be making around the blog. I'm going through a bit of a personal thing, you know?

Personal style is a big part of what I do and what I'm into, so I'm trying to think of new ways to post about it here. Flatlays aren't great, but I feel uncomfortable standing in front of a DSLR, expecting one thing but seeing another. It's a work in process. I'll try something else, and I'll see what happens next week.

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