Crazy Christmas light lady pro tips

So yes I’m that person in the neighborhood that tends to go a little overboard. Not completely but my light display gets aggressive. Last December in New England we had some unseasonably warm weather and many people got on the aggressive Christmas light train. As someone who has been building displays since I was 10 I really enjoyed how many people had lights up through February. As once Christmas was over a cold snap moved in. Amateur move kids. So I want to share my tips on how to do lights and not lose your darn mind.

  1. If your going big, do it for kids you don’t know and don’t forget yourself. My Dad and I always did big light displays, ya know a million plastic characters, Santa on the roof, hanging off the roof of our RV to get those roof lights perfect, the works! Then one year we went to Florida. Downscaled the lights and set timers. The next year a knock at my door brings a total stranger who told me she was so thankful we were still there, they thought we moved and it was her tradition to bring her sons by every year. I went back and decorated my dads house into my early 20’s just because of that.
    1. Summary a. Never be afraid to knock on someone’s door and say I love your lights even if they aren’t ABC holiday contest worthy nuts.
  2. Untangling lights. Shake Shake shake. Thats my pro tip. These aren’t light bulbs they won’t break by shacking them but its the easiest way. Find an end unstick it a little shake the string then untangle the few sticky ones and shake some more. Do this inside ahead of time if you can. Would you do a jigsaw puzzle freezing to death in the snow? Probably not. Don’t torture yourself be warm have some wine and good luck!
  3. Decorate your backyard. Most houses are positioned to look out on your backyard not your front. I always put lights at the least on my back deck and maybe a light up tree. I work hard, I love lights I want to make sure I can enjoy my hard work as much as people driving by. Great things about decks they are super easy to light.
    1. Summary b. Don’t forget to place lights where you can view them from inside your home, take time for you.
  4. Timing is everything! That being said Its usually warmer in November than in January. Its going to be better weather when you put your display up then when you take it down and take that into account. I’ve learned to fret less about organizing my lights putting them away because guess what no matter what you do they will get tangled, you will have to sort them. You might be saying oh no Anne I have a special wheel, box ect. Yup been there and then you realize you wrapped em up with the wrong plug, the string in the middle broke etc. And you will be very very cold during clean up. Do the best you can toss em in a bin and wait for next year. And watch the weather after Christmas. My display stays up until January first. But if I see a warm day January 28th I run outside and work as fast as possible. Don’t hesitate you will generally just get one.
    1. Summary c. Don’t hesitate if you see an unseasonably warm day even it its outside your timeline to get to work.
  5. Have kids? this is a great learning experience for them. Kids love Christmas and lights! I always helped my dad pull the lights out in November we’d start slowly here and there checking the bulbs, repairing the wires in our basement. It meant the weekend after Thanksgiving we are ready to go and I learned ways to removed broken glass bulbs, change fuses and repair wires safely.
    1. Summary d. Christmas lights makes great STEM activities.
  6. Securing your lights .Those plastic clips drive me nuts. Don’t get me wrong gutters, shingles go to town  but for the rest try a few of these.
    1. Zip ties! They are cheap, they work everywhere and they come in all different colors. When you feel the urge to wrap your lights around that deck railing just add a second string and zip tie. You’ll thank me when it feels like -20 and you are snipping your lights down in two seconds with a mini razor knife.
    2. Staple gun! Better if you have an older home, wood trim and a forgiving spouse. Just make sure to line your wires up with the staples and your good. Best part is the end of the season you can just give a good tug and your light are free.
    3. Lawn stakes. Get yourself a giant bag of camping tent stakes, a mallet and a nice big roll of rope. Your decor will come with these awful little metal ones and then your 3 year old is crying as frosty is hung up in the neighbors tree. Tie things down more than you think you should.
    4. I hate ladders do you? My house is talllllll. And my ladder days are over. Solution to house lights when you can’t get that tree line you two. One is outline your windows with lights this is a pro move work up to this one and pre lit wreaths. Battery powered wreaths over each window and bam you have that glowing cool house all the kids want.
    5. 3M hooks. These are my JAMMMMMMM. They aren’t generally my primary way of securing rights but more for clean up. Making sure they stay uniformly around where every I’m stringing them, support an area where there aren’t any other secure options etc.
  7. Snow snow snow every where, is really water and water and electronics typically very very bad. There are million products for this one, but amazon sells mini rubber gaskets pop one on each plug and bam water sealed. There are also these big plastic waterproof tubes you can buy but they can get pricey. I would avoid taping connections it rarely works and if a string dies you will have serious regrets.

Thats what I’ve got for now! Good look and let me know how you simplify your holiday light display.

p.s. I know we didn’t cover blow ups if you are down with the blow ups this post probably not your jam but if you need tips comment below.

Back yard lights

How to where high heels in the city

Being a tall girl (5′ 10″) and having an aunt teach me how to walk in stilettos from a young age I tower in high heels, they put me around 6′ 2″ tall. And of course I love commanding a room in towering heels.

Well fast forward many years and the days of people believing I only owned stilettos are long gone and several serious foot injuries (un-high heel) related have side lined from the shoe game indefinitely. I want to take a moment to share my secrets for how to walk in high heels.

  1. Buy small. You  want your shoes a half size too small for the purpose of long wearing high heels.
  2. Your shoes should fit in such a way you can walk on the balls of your feet without the heel of your shoe touching the ground and without the back of the shoe slipping off.
  3. Tissues. These work great for the tears caused by you aching feet (I kid, I kid), but they do work great for shoving into the toe of pointy toed shoes to stop them from curling or to create the tight fit needed.

Now the why to these. In the city you will encounter (well in Boston at least) grates, brick, cobblestones, etc. These will destroy your shoes and more embarrassingly or dangerously they will trip you. Everything from a broken ankle to completely stepping out of your shoe because your heel got hung on the bricks. The only work around for this is walking on the balls of your sheet. This method also works great for weddings that happen on grass.

Also remember many shoes will stretch so buying them small will benefit you in a few ways. And your foot sliding around in a stretched out shoe will make it hard to walk, balance and can cause rubbing (i.e. blisters).

As a disclaimer high heels generally aren’t great for your feet and many medical professionals will cringe and say OMG did she really tell people to buy too small shoes?! ARGHHHH!! But if you are city dwelling or working, broke and determined this will get the job done.

Other things that help are: High quality shoes and a strong fitness level 🙂

Happy Walking!

Me and a pair of ill fitted red stilettos. 


Growing things! Part 1

Is there anything more revitalizing that growing stuff? It’s that time of year where my seedlings are started and my flower beds (thanks to an unseasonably warm winter) are laid with new soil and ready for planting. Now am I some kind of green thumb? Nope. But I do love having things that are alive in and around my house, I love home-grown veggies and I do the best I can.

So I’m here to tell you all about how a brown thumb (is that a thing?), lazy girl managed to grow stuff in three parts. Part 1 is what I did last year, which is growing stuff for small living, the heavily traveled or the plane lazy.

Now if you’ve followed along from the beginning you probably know beautiful raised vegetable beds are not in the cards for this girl. So these were my challenges:

  1. I needed the flexibility to take my plants with me.
  2. They needed to be elevated and protected (we have a very odd amount of wild rabbits).
  3. They needed to be easy to maintain.
  4. They needed to tolerate some creative watering gaps.
  5. And most importantly this venture needed to be budget friendly.

So this is what I came up with, I decided to grow a bunch of tomatoes and a bunch of Kale. Spoiler alert, tomatoes worked great, the Kale was a fail. I went to my local hardware store and took the easy way out, bought some seed starter kits and some organic seeds and read the instructions. Filled seed starts with water inserted seeds to pods placed lid on, hoped for the best. Well I can say they all sprouted as expected and grew quickly. Unfortunately my cat found theses starter kits to be a great launched pad and this was the beginning of the end for my poor kale. I also don’t think it transplanted particularly well and it did not have as much sun as my tomatoes did.

So once my tomatoes out grew their starter pods I did pretty much the opposite of what the internet said to do. I never separated my three plants per starter pod, (to be honest I was sure only one would even survive anyway), planted three of those little pods in a 10″ pot, added some fertilizer and hoped for the best. I placed them in my basement window, not ideal but they would get a few hours of sun a day. Well they flourished, to my surprise. So I moved them outside and instead of buying cages I tied them to my deck. I watered them whenever needed (in the summer heat at least once a day) and would leave them water free most weekends Friday to Sunday. Even though they would look a bit wilt-y as soon as I watered them they came right back.

I ended up with enough tomatoes to make sauce and soup from scratch, plus plenty for salads. When we took vacation in the summer I cut their strings loaded the 6 pots into the back of my mini countryman and drove them to our lake house. They continued to produce and probably could have gotten a second crop had I wanted to travel with them back south after our vacation.

Growing Things! Part 2 – Fall plant withdrawals and how to cope, bucket potatoes


Am I the only one who didn’t know about Sous-vide cooking?

I have been desperate for a solution to save me time when it comes to cooking. I’ve tried blue apron, peapod, Instagram, crockpot meals and nothing really works for us.

Blue apron was fun but I. A bit of a picky eater and the prep for the meals was just too time consuming. I loved learning new techniques and recipes, but I don’t really think making salad dressing from scratch every time fit into my schedule.

Grocery delivery was great but peapod minimum was just more than we needed. Instacart can be pricey, plus it only can come to my office making the commute challenging.

Crockpot meals were ok but many times we are gone 10-12 hours and even with the warm setting the food just didn’t do well if left that long (understandably so).

So I was scouring the Internet and came across this thing like a crock pot but also like a refrigerator and I could control it from my phone. No way was my first thought. This is the solution I’ve been looking for! That is  how I discovered the Mellow Sous-vibe. Apparently sous-vide cooking is a popular technique that cooks food at very low temperatures and in turn preserves the flavor and nutrition. People make them at home or buy them and the Mellow is just the first truly ‘smart’ version.

How it works is you put the food in a bag they provide and it seals once you place it in the water. The Mellow keeps it cold until it’s ready to cook. You tell it the type of food, when you want it done and any preferences then the machine calculates when to start cooking. I can not wait to try this and see how it helps with my cooking woes.


I pre-ordered mine which saves $200 and with the link you save another $50. I can’t wait to receive it this spring and post an update on how it works for me!

What are your time saving tricks for cooking after a long work day?


The Hippy in me Squeals over this Wine Subscription!

So not to be a total cliché of the 30 something woman loving her wine, but lets call a spade a spade, I love my wine!

Living in NH it is super easy to pick up decent well priced wine and with a coupon no less! But then my co-worker started trying out Club W and I had read some reviews and decided to try it. The wines come in at $13 a bottle and are of a surprisingly good quality. Don’t like your bottle of wine? Call and complain and they credit your account for a new one. Who doesn’t which the liquor store did that?

Now for my favorite part, the use small vineyards that you normally wouldn’t get to experience. So although it may be hard to re-order a favorite you get these super unique blends, you are supporting small business and the even list some out as vegan or with other tags for issues people care about.

The wine also comes with recipe cards so you can pair it with meals, as well as flavor charts, suggestions for when it is best to drink, (night out with friends, with a roast, with fish, etc.).

One of my biggest problems is keeping my wine rack stocked because I have a hard time walking into the liquor store and justifying spending that much on wine at once, but with club W I can order 3 bottles for just $39 and $6 in shipping. I can buy 6 bottles and get free shipper as well and I say $78 dollars well spent. No way I could get 6 bottles I know I’ll love or be refunded anywhere else! So now when guests come over I have wine for entertaining, I have wine for me, I never have to drive out of my way and I know I’ll love it!

How have you simplified keeping an entertaining staple in your house? Have you tried any other food services that you love? Interested in trying Club W? Click here.

Going Green by Mistake

So several months ago our dryer broke. Now this isn’t a huge issue for us as we have another home with another washer dryer. Being that we plan on selling the house with the broken dryer and will no longer need the appliance replacing it just wasn’t something we were willing to invest money in. So we went about ordering the new part and it never showed up and now its been months. So our short-term solution was to bring the dirty laundry to our other house on the weekends, wash it and bring it back. At first this was a huge hassle but then I kind of started to love it and here’s why.

Now my week is no longer consumed with laundry. I take it up north I through it in the wash Friday night and by Saturday morning it’s folded, bagged and ready to return with me on Sunday. Since I have all my clothes from the week with me I get to put a lot less thought into what I may need for the weekend. It has also led us to be a lot more conscious as to what we consume for clothing. Before it was very easy to wear something very briefly and throw it in the wash now there is a lot more though as to what needs to get washed, when it needs to get washed and how.

Before the broken dryer I would say three loads of laundry a week would be average and this is without using a high-efficiency washing machine. Now one trash bag of clothes is all that gets washed from the week and its in a high-efficiency washer. We are both saving the life span of our clothes, using a more efficient machine and doing less laundry in general. No of course if you have more children, younger children, young pets, etc. you are probably laughing hysterically right now and thinking three loads a week even is nothing! So this is not a solution for everyone.

So its great to stumble into a life style change you would have never consciously made and have it work it even better that you would have thought. It’s also made us realize that when buying an RV a washer/dryer doesn’t need to be a priority for us, which surprisingly allows us to cut the length of our RV down by two feet.

Have you ever accidentally stumbled into a way to green and simplify your life?

Finally, yes I have agreed to get help…

And by help I mean someone to help me clean my house. Now as someone who comes from a do it yourself save money philosophy this was a stretch for both my partner and myself. I’ve always felt if your job takes you away from being able to accomplish tasks in your personal life and then you take the money from your job to pay someone else to do your everyday tasks isn’t this just insanity?

Well coming from mothers who worked part-time in our youth, ask them and yes you will get some good-hearted laughs about it. But for us, we are commuting an hour each way everyday and sometimes less, sometimes more. We would actually have to carve out certain Sunday to return to our southern NH home and clean the floors, vacuum the couches etc. We both have pretty bad allergies, so with spring pollen, all the pets etc. it was becoming a near impossible task to actually clean everything properly.

So I had a friend form high school who started a cleaning company and she graciously offered to come clean our house even though it is a bit further out than she usually services. And let me tell you it has been a blessing. She comes twice a month and my house sparkles, no more dust bunnies under the bed, no more leaving the windows open and then having to scrub 3″ of pollen when we return. Its been great. No the times we are at home are simply for us to do other home upkeep projects, cook better meals, spend time with children and pets and of course relaxing with each other.

No of course I tell me over worked Boston counterparts about this and I get the opposite reaction that I received from out parents, which was utter shock. The literally looked at me and said, “Wait, you have been doing all of this, the two houses, kids, pets and this job with no help until right now?!? Are you insane?”. Well that surely made me feel less inventive and a bit more silly than I felt before. But it also helped me come to terms with my decision. There is no job that would give me the kind of time back this hiring decision made that would reap real financial neutrality on the situation. So now we are healthier happier and giggly with joy when we return every other Monday after Ashley has been there and see our house sparkle!

So while my mothers may scoff a bit at my methods, I have a happier, healthier family. And I no longer need to hesitate when I am about to make a giant mess with clay or do science experiments in the kitchen with the wee one that we will need to stop and dedicate the next half of the day to scrubbing the table and the floors, we can rest easy knowing there is time for our next great adventure.