It’s time for my annual Christmas gift guides to start rolling out! As usual, I’ll be featuring guides for all types of people in your life over the next few weeks – including the dogs! Today I’m kicking the series off with five picks for the ladies in your life. Enjoy!

Looking for the perfect gift for the ladies in your life? Check out these five picks!

Deck the Halls Sweatshirt

First up, something festive! I just discovered the Alice & Wonder brand a couple weeks ago and I’m already wanting to splurge on just about everything on their site! The Deck the Halls sweatshirt ($46) is perfect for the Christmas-obsessed, whether it’s you or someone you know. Plus, this can be worn as PJs, on a lazy day, or even dressed up if you wanted!

fa-la-la-sweatshirt

Liquid Therapy Glasses

The perfect accessory after a long day, I’m loving the liquid therapy glasses  ($12 each). Pick up a few of these for your own home for a girls night in, or gift to your girls paired with a bottle of wine. So fun!

The perfect accessory after a long day!

The Perfect Bite Set

For the beauty-lover, this lipstick set ($25) is perfect! The variety of shades is perfect and who doesn’t love a good tin to keep the products organized?! The Bite Beauty brand is one of my favorites and with high ratings already, I can definitely seee this set flying off the shelves quickly.

bite-beauty

HP Sprocket

In this Instagram + Snapchat world we’re living in, photo snapping happens 24/7. On the more expensive end of this year’s gift guide, the HP Sprocket ($130) is a fab gift for the ladies who love to print their photos. Even better, this prints social media photos AND lets you add full text, emojis, and other designs!

hp-sprocket

 

I’m Outta Here Passport Holder

I’m kind of obsessed with this ban.do passport holder ($24)! The brand’s been getting a TON of recognition this year for their cute, quirky, and oh-so-relatable products. If you’re shopping for a gal who travels a lot, this is a a must-get. Not only is this an adorable home for your passport, but you can tuck cards and cash away as well – the perfect all-in-one!

The cutest passport holder!

What’s on your wish list this year? Any favorite gifts you’ve picked up for the ladies in your life?

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Like most people, I spend a lot of time connected to technology. While it’s a wonderful thing to have, I do find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, and watching too many TV shows that aren’t very mind stimulating more often than I’d like to admit. So it’s important for me to find ways to keep my mind sharp and constantly be learning new things. Anyone else? Here are three simple ways to keep your mind sharp.

3-tips-to-keep-mind-sharp

Eat (the Right) Foods

Did you know that food can impact your brain? High-fiber diets with protein are much better for you than super sugary items (despite being good on the taste buds)! Eating the right foods allows you to have a better digestive flow, and ultimately, a more reliable flow of energy to your body (including your brain)!

Collaborate with Others

“Two heads are better than one.” Collaboration is key in life. Everyone brings a unique perspective to the mix, and by working with others, you’re able to hear ideas and observations from a view different than your own. And more often than not, working with others results in some pretty brilliant ideas and/or much faster problem-solving!

Challenge Your Mind

No one ever said keeping your mind sharp would be easy! It’s important to constantly challenge your mind with new things. Whether it’s a class, crossword puzzle or other brain teaser, keeping yourself challenged with unknowns is the best way to stay sharp. Sure you’ll be great at putting the same puzzle together over and over again, but it’s when you try something you haven’t before that really gets your brain’s gears turning.

escape-room-game

What do all of these things have in common? Escape Room: The Game! I’ve been wanting to make it to a physical location to play the fast-growing game but haven’t had a chance to, so I’m pretty excited that I was able to bring the game home to me! And if you’re wondering how eating right fits in – healthy snacking while playing games, my friends!

As part of the Thanksgiving festivities last week, my family and I decided to give the game a try, and had a lot of fun with it, despite it being pretty challenging. The game is recommended for ages 16+, but my younger sisters were dying to try it as well, and they really kept up with it! I also can’t stress enough how important teamwork is in this game. There are so many tiny details to be aware of, and everyone was able to contribute something different.

Escape Room: The Game comes with four rooms (or games) in one. Prison Break, Virus, Nuclear Countdown, and Temple of the Aztec. In the instructions, you’ll find the games listed by level of difficulty and it’s suggested that you play from the easiest to hardest level. I can’t imagine starting out with the hardest room – yikes!

playing-escape-game

So how does each game work? Each room has a folder with a story so you have some background on the situation and the end goal of the room. Once you read it, you push the red button on the chronodecoder to get the timer going – you only have 60 minutes to solve the puzzles to escape the room! At certain points in the hour, the machine will buzz to indicate that you can read a clue to help you. If you find the clue useless that means you’re on the right track already!

Some helpful tips while playing?

  • Take LOTS of notes – something that looks small could be a huge clue
  • Use helpful devices like your phone to take advantage of the flashlight and calculator – YES they will come in handy
  • Download the free Escape Room app to enhance your experience with thematic background music
  • Use your brain, teamwork, logic, and pay attention to detail to successfully escape the room

escape-room-setup

If you’re up for a new challenge or looking for a fun gift idea for Christmas, be sure to check out Escape Room: The Game!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

We’ve officially reached the best time of the year! It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a day away, and then we’ll be 100% in the Christmas season. My decorations are up (I’m 100% one of those people who starts getting into Christmas before Thanksgiving) and I’m feeling festive!

I haven’t done a big life update since this summer, so I figure what better time to do one now, as we all wind down to kick back for the Thanksgiving holiday. Here are some of the highlights of fall, thus far.

Finished My Grad Cert Program

For the past year I’ve been enrolled in a graduate certificate program which consisted of seven business-related classes, and last month, I completed the program, with straight A’s! It certainly was no easy feat, with classes like accounting, statistics, and finance (while working full-time and blogging), but I’m so proud that I took the step and successfully completed the program! The program also fulfilled all of the pre-reqs for the MBA program (as a non-business undergrad major), so I’m considering pursuing the degree part-time. I hate tests SO much, but I do love learning! But for now, I’m very much enjoying all of the free time I have back!

freedom

Rejoined A Gym

The timing probably isn’t the best considering October through December is essentially a giant eating fest with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but I decided to bite the bullet and rejoin a gym! My schedule’s been pretty hectic this fall, so I haven’t been able to get into a solid routine yet, but I’ve been easing back into it. Those classes are no joke!

great-gym-day

Travel, Travel, Travel

Last month Ted and I visited Salem, Massachusetts right before Halloween and earlier this month my dad and I ventured out to Colorado for a dad-daughter trip to Denver and Estes Park (more on that to come), and to end the year, my mom and I are gearing up for our third annual Europe trip! Be sure to follow along on Instagram, because we’re heading to some beautiful places (Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden) – and what better time to visit than the Christmas season?!

Thanksgiving + Black Friday

So they haven’t happened yet, but how can there be a fall catch up without talking about the biggest events this week?! I’m so thankful to be spending time with my family for Turkey Day and am looking forward to annual Black Friday traditions of shopping with my mom and best friend from high school! Anyone else planning to get some BF shopping done? Immediately following the post-shopping nap, I can’t wait to binge the Gilmore Girls revival show!

And lastly, I’m so thankful for all of you, my lovely followers and readers! I really appreciate your support of Small Towns & City Lights! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to set your scales back tonight! Ha!

thanksgiving-scales