Last Minute Gift Ideas for Everyone

It happens every year. December creeps up and the days start passing by. Before you know it there’s a week before Christmas and you’re all like “Whattt!?” Panic ensues. You’re like “should I just get a gift card!?” No, put down the gift card. Does anyone actually like receiving gift cards? Here’s a few of my favorite last minute gift ideas to help ease the stress:

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1. A Wine Awesomeness Box o’ Wine – Okay, so WineAwesomeness is giving you a free box of 3 wines, you just  have to pay $15 for shipping. You can gift it to your favorite long distance friend, but I gifted it to myself. Click here to redeem the offer, I literally just did it a few hours ago.  Cheers!

2. Confetti Metal Xylophone – I don’t know about you, but every time I log onto Facebook there is a new baby. I don’t know where they’re all coming from! I loved the classic style and colors on this one. Jam out little one!

3. Cards Against Humanity – My friend Jenn gifted me this for Christmas one year, and it is the best ever. In case you haven’t heard – this is the adult version of Apples to Apples, and it is awesome. Many nights are spent playing this game with a bottle of wine or two. It is hilarious. Seriously, be prepared for an ab workout – you won’t stop laughing.

4. Statement Earrings – As long as your potential gift receiver has pierced ears, I don’t think you can go wrong with statement studs. They can be dressed up, dressed down, and worn all year round. Choose simple colors, and you will be winning at the gift giving game. Plus, J. Crew is offering 30% off these sparklers right now. You can’t lose.

5. Mosaic Photo Frame – With a photo of yourself and your siblings of course. My parents always loved personal gifts like this one – and the mosaic detail is so cool!

6. Daniel Wellington Watch – I’ve gifted 2 of these to Jeff, and they are awesome. Simple, classy, and goes with everything. He also loves how skinny the face is – definitely a nice change from bulky watches.

7. Starbucks Anything – The new art-inspired mugs and tumblers in Starbucks are adorable, I especially love this Russian doll one. They’d be great for a white elephant or perhaps the cousin you don’t quite know so well. In this case, throw a gift card inside and you’ll be their favorite. At least, I would love you for it.

I hope my list eased some of your shopping anxieties and gave you a few ideas. Are you a last minute Christmas shopper? What’s your go-to last minute idea?

Holiday Dress Picks for Every Budget

If you ask me, the best holiday dresses are the kind that can be worn for many seasons and multiple occasions. You can wear them for a wedding, night out, baby shower, or whatever other festivity life brings. I’ve accumulated a list of my current favorite sparkly, sexy, and sweet dresses below for those who need some inspiration!

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What’s your favorite type of holiday dress? Would you wear any of the dresses above?

Life Lately: And the Worst Blogger Award Goes to….

You know when you just have too much free time and none at the same time? That’s the only way I can explain my life the past few weeks. There’s just been so much to do and see that my poor neglected blog has taken a backseat. “I should blog about this,” I think to myself, and then another day goes by, and then another, and then a week, and then here I am trying to recap the past 2 weeks of my life in a post I will try to keep short in hopes I don’t bore you. Here’s what I’ve been up to in my virtual absence:

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We explored eastern Washington a little. My favorite activity these days is just driving around with Jeff. I’m learning the lay of the land, and figuring out where things like the Nordstrom Rack are. You know, the important places. One of my favorite adventures was simply just wandering into Jeff’s backyard on a foggy day, where the mountains and trees looked like a gorgeous dream. Gia was running around like she hasn’t in a long time. Probably one of the saddest realizations is that all the land I was admiring is soon to be turned into a housing development. Cue Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” Also, I felt like I was in Twilight.

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We bought a car. Certainly one of the most exciting things is that we now have a set of wheels. Our previous modes of transportation were a 2001 Honda Civic and a 1998 Toyota Avalon, and so the new technology in cars these days is mind blowing. The new whip has fancy heated leather seats to keep our butts toasty, and all this bluetooth stuff that beats the pants off the CD player in my civic. That CD player was the jam back in the day.

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We went to Las Vegas. Jeff’s cousin was in Las Vegas for a lacrosse tournament(which they won!), and we were lucky enough to go along for the ride. It was totally last minute and unplanned, which is always how the best mini vacations start. To start, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy was hanging out right by us in the airport. My 15 year old inside was giggling because they were one of my favorite bands growing up. I actually met them randomly at Warped Tour in like 2005, which was arguably one of the highlights of my teen years. We went to a Cirque show, experienced a little night life, hung out with some very entertaining British guy who apparently is a Youtube celebrity, rode on the “Slotzilla” which was awesome (pictured above), watched lots of lacrosse, and just so much more I cannot even go on or this would be the longest post ever. It’s safe to say we had a true Vegas experience, and had a great time. I’d also like to mention it was 70 degrees on the weekend and I am so missing it.

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buying this for my sister.

I finished up Christmas shopping, and am really trying to get in the holiday spirit. Though I am still in shock it’s December, I worked my mouse off Black Friday and Cyber Monday finishing up Christmas shopping online. Nothing brings me  more stress than last minute shopping, so I am thrilled it’s donezo. I have to admit that as the holiday gets closer, I find myself really missing my mom. My mom grew up in Korea and never had great Christmases, so she always made ours amazing. Even last year when we were in Denmark, she made us feel home by sending her famous stockings, silly gifts, and various other Chiristmasy things. It’s just another realization that things are different, and I miss her everyday. What’s helping me through is the Nashville Christmas album. I am addicted.

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Jeff isn’t playing hockey anymore. It’s no secret that our life is pretty different than we imagined it would be this year. Jeff retired from the game he’s played since he was 3 years – kind of unexpectedly.  Now he’s trying to figure out what his next step will be. It’s just an unexpected adjustment.

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I had a quick ER trip. Because I had brutal cramps and went to Urgent Care, who thought I may have appendicitis, and thankfully it turns out I didn’t. Had to selfie it though.  Wish the patterns on the gowns were a little more fashion forward. Anyone else?

So there it its, life lately. Most of my time has just been adjusting. I’m the kind of person who needs to obsessively plan out every detail of everything, and it’s been a personal challenge not knowing what the future brings, but I’m finally starting to see a light at the end of this twisted tunnel.

Currently Coveting: November Faves

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I’ve finally accepted the cold (I mean, I didn’t really have a choice), and all I can think about is everything cozy and comfortable. It’s accurate to say that I go into hibernation during the winter months (except to go to hockey games), and leaving the house makes me seriously consider a traveling electric blanket.

1. Nars Lipstick in Scarlett Empress – Dark lips and winter and just like peas and carrots.

2. Kate Spade Colorblock Bow Beanie – I’m a huge fan of pom-pom beanies and I can’t stand how cute this bow version is!

3. Ugg Tall Bailey Bow Boots – 3 years ago I swore I would never buy another pair of Uggs. But the comfort… and the bows!

4. J. Crew Shawl Collar Cardigan – Giant cardigan + Leggings + Big Wooly Socks = my perfect lazy day outfit.

5. Diptyque Holiday Candle Trio – Candles are the key to hygge, and I’m sure these smell like heaven. Win win.

6. Lululemon Wunder Unders – I want to hate these, but I have a few pairs and they are the absolutely best leggings in existence, and I just want all of them. One day I will make it around to actually doing yoga in them. No, probably not.

What’s on your November fave list?

Here’s to New Beginnings

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Side Slit Sweater: Zara / Shirt: J. Crew / Scarf: J. Crew  (similar) / Necklace: Ell and Emm / Watch: Michael Michael Kors / Bracelet: J Crew (similar) / Jeans: Rag & Bone (simiar) / Booties: Kelsi Daggar (similar – on sale!)

I apologize for my brief blogging hiatus, but things have been a bit kooky with our cross country move. We arrived in Washington Saturday after what seems like packing forever. The majority of our possessions are now stuffed in a pod moving their butts across the country to Jeff’s house. The things we do have with us are packed away in hockey bags which I’ve been reluctant to open. I know that once I unpack everything I will eventually have to pack it back up, and the thought of that is quite unsettling. When will they invent suitcases that can pack themselves?

Even though I’ve been to Spokane a handful of  times, it’s totally weird knowing it will be my new home. I don’t know how to get around anywhere, and I have no clue where anything is. It’s crazy to think in just a few months I’ll be maneuvering around like a pro (hopefully). We’re doing big kid things like checking out cars and houses… it’s exciting but also stressful. It also snowed today which confirms that winter is here. Ugh. At least I’m not in upstate New York anymore. Have you seen the snow dump they’re getting there? Holy. Crap.

Oh, and the photos above are the last you’ll see of me in New Jersey for quite a while. Hopefully I’ll get around to posting a few in Washington after my skin clears up… this climate change has my pores thinking I’m back in high school. I can’t wait to see what’s next and to keep everyone posted on whatever comes up in our new adventures… wish us luck!

Why Dog Food Choice is Important

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A little over 5 years ago after I adopted Gia, I wanted to know everything about the proper way to care for your dog. This search brought me to dog food, and I was totally overwhelmed by the hundreds of options. I actually went so far as to email a woman from a dog blog I was reading at the moment for insight, and she didn’t give me any useful information whatsoever. Rude.

When I dug a little deeper, I found a few websites that explained the different ingredients typically used in dog and pet food. What I learned was that most commercial dog food is crap, and I felt super guilty because I had been feeding Gia regular ole Purina for the first few months of her life.

Many times commercial dog food will list ingredients like chicken as  the first ingredient, which is misleading. When something simply says “chicken” it is inclusive of water weight. When that water weight is removed when it is turned into kibble, 80% of the chicken weight is gone. What to look for first on the ingredient list is “chicken meal,” which is the end product after the meat has been rendered. Meaning there is more meat in kibble that lists “chicken meal” as a first ingredient than just “chicken.” Other things you’ll also often find in commercial dog food is animal byproducts (all the crap not fit for human consumption), corn, artificial flavors, artificial coloring, and various other grains. Many dogs are allergic to things like corn and grain causing them problems in the long run.

My thought has always been that when you take on the responsibility of bringing a pet into your life, you commit to giving them the best possible care and love for the few short years they grace us with their presence. Even in my post college years when I was broke as a joke, I always made sure I had enough money to buy Gia’s food. Commercial food has been heavily linked with things like health problems, shorter life spans, and allergies – things that are preventable.

I think pet food knowledge isn’t something that many people are knowledgeable about, though it is becoming a more prevalent topic. I urge you to take a look at the ingredient list of you dog or cat’s food and see what you find. There are many brands out there that make excellent quality pet food, and they are becoming more readily available in pet stores.  When I first decided to up the ante on Gia’s food, I ordered it online, which is ridiculous. I later found Nature’s Variety Instinct at a local pet store and that became my jam. Now they sell it at Petsmart. Can you get anymore convenient than that? I mean, I was even able to find grain free food in Denmark – so they must have it everywhere.

You can learn more about dog food here and here.

What do you feed your pet? Tell me in the comments below!

Fall Shades & 6pm.com Saves

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Coat: Zara (similar and similar) | V Neck: J. Crew | Scarf: J. Crew | Necklace: Similar | Jeans: Hudson (similar) | Shoes: Schutz (similar) | Watch: Michael Michael Kors | Bracelet: Stella & Dot

It is finally chilly enough for me to layer up and get cozy, which is my favorite part about this season because I’m outerwear addicted. Right now I’m loving lighter colors, olives, dark reds and neutrals. So basically, everything? I’m starting to see why I never have any money.

In my recent “facts about me” post, I mentioned that I rarely buy anything full price. Like never. Most times I wait for the sale to go on sale. And since Christmas is coming, I thought I’d share one of my favorite websites for sale shopping – 6pm.com. Everything on there is already on sale. My favorite part about 6pm is that they have brand name items – Hudson Jeans, House of Harlow, DL1961, BCBG, Splendid, LA Made, UGG… well, you get the idea – for much less than the normal price. Get this – the gray Hudson jeans in the photo above were $46.99 and the Schutz shoes (also my wedding shoes) were $123.11. A much better deal than the Valentino’s I was seriously coveting. And that makes me happy. The one thing that you have to be aware of is that once the item is gone, it’s gone. Many times you’ll see something marked down super low, but it’s because there’s only 1 or 2 sizes left.

So check out 6pm.com and get something for yourself or for your loved one! Here’s a few of my favorites currently:

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What’s your favorite go-to sale website? Have you shopped at 6pm.com before?

Friday Five, Currently

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Happy Friday ya’ll. Rejoice! The weekend is almost here. For the record, I never say ya’ll, it just sounded right. Here are the five things currently going down on Planet Annessa:

LIL JON USA- April 2005 Credit: (Mandatory) Shannon McCollum / WENN

  • I got the iPhone 6 16gb on Wednesday and the storage is already full so I guess I need to trade it in for a 64 gb. Still, this is a nice upgrade from my 4S which was slower than dial up internet. Also, Lil John was at the Apple Store at the same time and no one recognized him except myself and the Apple employee I was speaking with. I don’t know what part of that entertained me more, but I was able to contain myself from yelling “YEA!” and singing “Turn down for WHAT!?” so I was pretty proud. Related: I still don’t really know what “turn down for what” means.

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  • Our official move date is November 15. I have packed 0 things so far, so things are going really well with that. Oh, and I’m still freaking out. The 2,500 mile difference is just a lot. But gosh, it is gorgeous.

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  • By the time this posts, I am in London for 3 1/2 days which will really be teasing me. I miss living in Europe, and I would like to live there again. Like now. Ironically so because it’s more than 2,500 miles away.

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  •  I’m realizing that when I move to Washington state that I won’t have a car. I was excited at the idea of purchasing the Honda HRV, but the release date has been pushed back and now I just don’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll just get a bike. No, I’m not doing that. Maybe a razor scooter.

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  • It’s snowing in Rochester. I am giving myself so many high fives that I no longer live there. Like so many. After all, I still have not purchased a winter coat, though I’m seriously thinking about the one above what do you think?

What’s going with you this Friday? Tell me in the comments below!
Linking up with September Farm.

Worth It: Favorite Buys of October

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Dear everyone I’ve encountered in the last three days, I sincerely apologize for repeatedly saying “I can’t believe it’s November!” But really, what the heck. It’s getting colder and my mental state is still convinced it’s August, but so it goes.

I had a lot of free time this October and so I spent too much time shopping, both in stores and online for about everything I did and did not need. I’m still hunting for that perfect winter coat, though. Among the things that have come to into my possession this month, here are my top 5 favorite finds:

1. RES Denim Kitty Skinny in Creeper – Because I wanted some quality black destroyed jeans without the designer price tag and these fit the bill perfectly. (similar)

2. Steve Madden Ecentric in Leopard – Because I have been coveting these for a while, and they were finally on sale. Great walking shoes for our multiple trips to Philly.

3. Sydney Hale Co Candle in Woods – Because this is the only scent Jeff and I have ever agreed on. It smells of “Sharp & resinous Australian sandalwood” aka amazingness, and makes me happy and cozy. Also 10% of each sale goes to dog rescue which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, too.

4. Lush Brazened Honey Face Mask – Because it smells like heaven, leaves my skin super soft, and makes me feel like a new person. I think you need to pick this one up in store as it has to be refrigerated.

5. Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation – Because yes. Attention everyone, I have found my HG foundation (HG = “holy grail” for those who are uncool like me and have to google every acronym). My oily skin has finally found its matte mate. Finally a foundation that I don’t have to blot throughout the day. I want to scream my praises from the rooftops!

I’m feeling kind of badass this afternoon because you’re not supposed to start a sentence with “Because,” and I just did 5 times. Take that, Monday!

Have you tried any of the things I’ve listed above? What are your favorite October buys? Tell me in los commentos below!

20 Random Facts About This Girl

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There’s barely any time left in October, and I really wanted to participate in a Blogtober ’14 prompt at least once.  Today’s prompt is “Random Facts About Yourself,” so here it goes:

  1. Friday Night Lights will forever be my favorite TV show. I feel like all the characters are real people, and I could watch the series over and over again and not get tired of it.
  2. Because of this I have a weird desire to one day live in a middle-of-nowhere west Texas town (even though I know I’d hate it).
  3. Every single pair of jeans I own are skinny jeans.
  4. Similarly, most of my shoes are boots.
  5. And I almost never buy anything full priced. I’m a major sale stalker.
  6. I played on the varsity softball team all 4 years in high school, and I still regret not playing in college.
  7. My nail polish collection contains over 150 unique shades. I’ve tried to ban myself…
  8. Thor, Tim Riggins, and Joe Manganiello are my celebrity crushes.
  9. This:
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  10. The first time I carried a purse was my senior year of high school. Before then I kept everything in my pockets.
  11. Crime-based TV shows intrigue me, but also make me super paranoid.
  12. Hilary Duff is my style icon. I would love to raid her closet.
  13. Banff, the Amalfi coast, Zurich, and Munich are among my must-visit places. I have serious wanderlust.
  14. When we buy a house and settle down, my first order of business will be adopting another Cavalier.
  15. My second order of business will be decorating. I love decorating and making a place feel like home despite our nomad-ness.
  16. Scandinavian home decor is my fave… and everything on this blog.
  17. This:
    circa 2004

    circa 2004

    Since these days my obsession with skull print and all things studded remains in tact.

  18. “All I See” was the name of the first website I ever built. I was in 8th grade and it was a Dream Street fan website. I taught myself HTML code, and the site actually won “Webpage of the Month” on the official Dream Street page.
  19. I was born with a cleft palate – as in, the soft palate of the roof my mouth was split. I’ve since had 2 corrective surgeries.
  20. There are about 50 nicknames I have for my husband. Some make sense and some make absolutely no sense. I would list them, but then he would be embarrassed, and you would all think I’m a big weirdo.

So there you have it, 20 things about me you may have not known, and may have not wanted to know. Can you relate to any of my quirky facts?

Helene in Between Blogtober