Brown Paper Packages

I love buying gifts for people. It’s one way that I express love. I enjoy getting to know someone and then thinking about the kind of item that would hold great meaning, evoke a laugh, cause their eyes to light up or even muster a few tears. I also very much enjoy wrapping presents. As Maria von Trapp sings, “brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!” Though I usually expand my horizons past brown paper wrapping on most occasions.

Having a one year old who loves tissue paper has made this Christmas a wrapping adventure. I finally succeed in completing my present wrapping this week and now each item sits beautifully under the tree. I usually like to get my wrapping done with a few weeks to spare so that I can sit and admire all the festive colors and ribbons. As my eyes move from one present to the next, I think about the treasure inside and what the person’s reaction might be. Sometimes the reaction is quite amusing and very unanticipated. Then my mind travels to the memories that I have shared with that person and I eagerly await the opportunity to share time together again.

As someone who is not very open or transparent, gifts are my way of connecting and expressing. This is an area I hope to grow in, as I learn to get outside of my comfort zone. Gifts are a great relationship building tool, but they don’t always need to be tangible. The gifts of service, encouraging words and time, often mean more than a gift in pretty wrapping.

I was reminded today by someone’s wise words that one of the best gifts of Christmas is family and being grateful for the time we get to spend with them. Enjoy all the crazy, happy, messy moments this weekend as you celebrate and say a little prayer of thanks to our Heavenly Father for an opportunity to his sons and daughters.

New York, New York

At the beginning of December I took a quick trip to NYC to enjoy the holiday decorations and a fun girls weekend. We decided to stay on the Upper West Side at the West Townhouse. If you are looking for a non-hotel experience, I highly recommend! Each of our rooms featured a full NY sized kitchen which worked out well for a quick breakfast. Being a very busy time of the year , I appreciated being able to retreat back to a quite part of town at the end of the day. Our hosts were very accommodating and gave us great tips for navigating around the city. We were positioned 2 blocks from Central Park and were surrounded by grocery stores, coffee shops and quaint restaurants.



Ice skating in Rockefeller Center is an iconic winter scene. Yet, many may not realize there are multiple ice rinks around the city and the the one at Rockefeller Center is the smallest and by far the busiest.  So, we stopped at the one in Central Park and the view was everything I had expected and more.


The lights, colors and vibe of the city during the holidays is a true experience.  While crazy busy, the festiveness of the people and the beauty of the city makes New York a truly magical at the holidays.


We decided to take a walking tour of the holiday windows.  At first we were a little skeptical thinking that having a guide wouldn’t provide that much benefit, but by the end of all 30 blocks we sure were glad.  We would have gotten so lost, especially as we were fighting the masses around Times Square.  My favorite windows were at the end of the tour at Bergdorf Goodman.  I also enjoyed the interactive windows featuring a break dancer and ice skater who made an appearance every hour. We stopped for dinner at Patsy’s Pizza and enjoyed a delicious pepperoni pizza that rivaled my memories of Lombardi’s pizza from my last visit.



When in New York, you have to go to Broadway! We saw You Can’t Take it With You and Love Letters, I enjoyed and would recommend both. Though, the theaters were definitely not made for long legs. Walking through Times Square after the shows reminded me of Frank Sinatra’s lyrics of a city that never sleeps. Between the lights and the crowds, you forget about the fact that is quickly nearing midnight. We stopped for cheesecake at Juniors, along with multiple other theater goers. It was insanely busy, but continuing the tradition of after show cheesecake was certainly worth it. As we were waiting for a seat, we marveled at the sheer number of people crammed into the little restaurant and the size of the dinners they were eating. Everyone wants a 6″ high sandwich on rye with fries at 11:30, right? Ugh…we didn’t even finish our cheesecake pieces. Uber proved to be a great way to get home after a show, especially with the soppy weather outside. If you aren’t sure how to hail a taxi, put the Uber app on your phone and let it do the work for you.

There were multiple Christmas markets around town, all of which were fun to browse.  The very wet weather kept up from visiting some of the outdoor markets, so we made a stop at one of my favorite places in New York – Chelsea Market. Apparently everyone else had the same idea we did on that rainy day, but we squeezed through the masses like every other hot spot in NYC. We browsed multiple local food spots from Farm to Table to mini donuts. Shopping was of course mixed in to food browsing and I scored 40% off the sale racks at Anthropologie! We dodged in and out of Ugg Australia and Sorel on our way to a coffee shop across the street. To all NYC goers, I recommend taking coffee or cafe breaks during your visit. There is so much to see and do that just taking a few minutes to sit, people watch and process is a great way to enjoy the city, yet so easily missed. It’s also a great opportunity to charge your phone.

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The sun finally came out on our last day. We walked across Central Park to the Met, where we joined a group of ladies and one brave male tour guide for a three hour jaunt through the museum. Despite being exhausted at the end of the tour (note to self – take walking tours at the beginning of the trip next time), it was fantastic way to get a good overview of such a vast museum and I learned so much more than I would have on my own. The tour was hosted by Walks of New York and I give them an A+ for experience. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, extensively traveled and even provided our group of over a dozen ladies with a chocolate break mid tour. It’s hard to make museum’s a priority when in New York, but if you have more than a weekend, definitely consider it.

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The airplane back home usually carries one exhausted Krista, but I can’t wait to visit again!

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