Ugly Sweaters, Christmas Shopping, & Cozy Dinner Nights

Good morning & happy Monday! Oh, what a week it’s been.

After spending many hours editing videos and posting to YouTube, it feels good to return to my home base (the blog) and share my week with you! I’ve had a lot of people asking if I would continue to do daily vlogs after Vlogmas is over with, but to be honest, I feel as if all of my focus is going into that and my blog has taken a hit when it comes to the creative side. I think I’ll certainly do some more vlogs, but will be focussing more on this platform right here! I never realized how much work goes into videos and creating content each day on YouTube! Hats off to all of those talented creators. I have two things I want to focus on in the New Year, and I think it’s going to be fun to share my journey. I will be doing a plant-based January challenge as well as the “no spending”/ declutter challenge. I’ll be sharing the whole decluttering, cleaning, budgeting, and plant-based journey with you throughout January here on the blog, so I’m already looking forward to that! I also have a trip coming up at the end of the week that I’m excited for. So much happening!

Now, let’s get to the recap! 
I had spent Monday shooting content for a few upcoming campaigns while building a few gift guides. It was a good day to work because I wasn’t feeling too hot! (Vlogmas Day 11)
I was so excited when I woke up on Tuesday morning. This was the first time in almost two years that I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with excruciating cramping pain. I’ve been trying out a new medication this past month that seems to be working. If I make it a few more months without the pain, I’ll write a post about it just in case you’re experiencing endometriosis pain as well. It may be something you can mention to your doctor!

I spent all morning and afternoon writing some blogs but took a break around 2 pm to help my mom. She was having her work friends over for a holiday party and asked if I could help her make some wraps. I used to make these all the time when I worked at a cafe in high school. The tutorial for these wraps is in the Vlogmas Day 12 video! They are pretty easy to make, and a great party treats! These would be great to add to your Superbowl party menu. I headed out to deliver the wraps around 4 pm! Her place was all Christmasy and set up perfectly for her party. 
I also brought over some frosted gingerbread cookies to go on her coffee stand.
When I got home, I walked the dogs and then decided to make a protein shake for dinner. I wasn’t too hungry and didn’t feel like making anything. My smoothie had strawberries, banana, almond milk, protein powder, and ice. I spent the rest of the evening working on the blog and editing videos for Vlogmas!

I spent almost ALL DAY working on my final campaign project on Wednesday. I started the day with my bowl of protein oats, which I’ve been eating for weeks straight. It’s so easy to make, filling, and a great source of carbs, fats, and protein! The bowl has oats cooked with water, one scoop of protein powder, peanut butter, paleo muesli.
I finished up my computer work at 6 pm and then got around to making dinner. I decided to whip up a dinner with random ingredients I had in the fridge, and it turned out to be pretty delicious! I roasted carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and then sauteed some peppers and onions to throw into an almond flour-based fettuccine! You can watch the whole dinner process on Vlogmas Day 13
I chopped the kale and massaged it with coconut aminos and garlic tahini dressing. 
After walking the dogs, I was just cold and mentally exhausted from the day, so I decided to run myself a bubble bath and have a cup of ginger tea. It was the best decision of the day ❤️ 
I threw my earbuds in, had a mug of sriracha popcorn, and watched Home Alone!
On Thursday morning, Leo headed to the vet to have his surgery done. They removed a spot to make sure it wasn’t cancerous and took precautions by removing all the skin around it. He has a pretty intense cut on him, but he’s doing OK so far. While he was under, they also gave him a gum cleaning. We should have the results back this week, so keep your fingers crossed!

For breakfast, I had a banana and cacao smoothie after a two-mile walk with Grumples!
I spent the day baking sugar cookies and trying to keep my mind off of Leo! (Vlogmas Day 14!)
The poor little man in his cone of shame!
After spending the morning editing Vlogmas, I headed to the gym for a little strength training. I love going on Friday afternoon because the gym is empty. If you want to see the whole workout, I recorded it for Vlogmas Day 15
Kyle headed out with me in the afternoon to go shopping for an ugly sweater. Caitlin and I were going to an ugly sweater party, and I needed to find an appropriate sweater to wear. When we got home, I had a cappuccino to decompress for about 45-minutes and then got up and got ready for the night.
Caitlin’s place is SERIOUS goals. It’s like Vogue meets Christmas. She did a great job decorating! I kind of want to go out and get a colored Christmas tree now. I love the lights. 
You’ll have to watch Vlogmas Day 15 to see how the party went! 😉 It was fun taking you all along with me.
We left around 12:30 to grab some food at Bakersfield! We were starving. 
We had the funniest, yet creepiest thing happened to us at the restaurant. There was a guy sitting across the bar who looked completely normal. He was handsome, had a nice coat on, and was just sitting on his phone as if he was waiting for food or a check. The bar was empty where he was sitting, but a little packed where we all were. He walked across the bar and squeezed onto the chair next to Caitlin. He was quiet and just staring at her. It was unbelievably comfortable. All of a sudden, he started slowly gliding his hands into our basket of chips. He grabbed a chip, and slowly glided it back to him. I was turned the other way because I could not contain myself. It was the weirdest and funniest thing ever. But then things got REAL weird. Caitlin’s face just went white, and her eyes were HUGE. The creepy guy started putting his feet on her feet. Our friend Shaun grabbed her food and put it on the other side of him. Caitlin got up and moved. And then this guy was two chairs away from me. He just started staring at me now. Of course, I can’t stop laughing at how insane this whole situation is. He starts to do the chip thing again — all of a sudden he slides over to the chair next to me. All I can think about is Dateline and him being some weird chip stealing serial killer. He just keeps stealing chips and whispering things, but I was paying no attention to him. Finally, the bartender who noticed his behavior was like “dude, you gotta go,” and the creepy man stood up, and walked out the door. This was probably one of those “you had to be there” stories, but it was just one big weird (and humorous) situation. Oh, and we got a new basket of chips. 
I had a really slow start to my Saturday. I was so tired and running on just a few hours of sleep. After editing Vlogmas, I headed out to run some errands and got smacked in the face with some nasty traffic. I decided to ditch the rest of my errands and stop at the grocery store for some coffee and dinner ingredients. Vlogmas Day 16!
For dinner, I made Capello’s almond flour-based pasta with ground turkey and garlic marina sauce with two side salads. It was so delicious! 
After dinner, I had a cappuccino, and then we headed to the movie theater. Kyle wanted to see Mule, but it turned out to be awful. It should have just been one of those Netflix movies because I can’t believe I sat there for two hours watching it. The humor was dry, so many unnecessary scenes, the jokes were awful, characters just started disappearing from the storyline, it wasn’t putting you on the edge of your seat, and it could have been so much better! The trailer made it look like it was going to be so good. The last two movies we went to were so much better! See A Star is Born or Instant Family! 
For breakfast on Sunday morning, I had a matcha protein shake! It had a banana, almond milk, protein powder, ice, and matcha powder. 
It was Christmas shopping time! I hadn’t done any of my Christmas shopping yet, so I was determined to get it all done in one day. Caitlin was also getting her shopping done, so it was good to bounce ideas off of each other. 
We started our adventures with coffee first! I had an almond milk cappuccino ♥️ 
A few hours later, we were hitting a wall. We stopped at Reids Fine Foods to grab lunch! I ordered a salad that had brussels sprouts, green apples, cabbage, butternut squash, carrots, and Scottish salmon on top with honey mustard on the side. The salmon on top was probably one of the best salmons I’ve had in Charlotte! I want this again! I also ordered sweet potato fries on the side because they sounded so good. Their fries were so crispy and flavorful. Goodness, this lunch did the trick! 
After lunch, we were back to shopping! 
We shopped for nearly six hours!!! The good thing is that I’m almost finished, and I was under budget. The key to Christmas shopping is pulling out cash at the bank and sticking to your budget. I’ll be sharing what I got in today’s Vlogmas video. My family members know they are NOT allowed to watch. 
When I got home, I put on a facemask and then hopped on the couch to get started with this recap post. For dinner, I baked a Daiya Tex-Mex Burrito. It had pinto beans, brown rice, and cheddar style shreds. UMMMMMMM AMAZING!!! Daiya is going to make plant-based January a breeze. I bought all the other flavors of Daiya burritos, so I’ll make sure to keep sharing my thoughts!

I hope you guys have a fantastic week, and I’m so excited to get started on today’s Vlgomas video! Thank you guys for all the support and encouragement during Vlogmas! xo

Questions for you!

  1. Are you done Christmas shopping?
  2. Are you caught up on Vlogmas?
  3. Any traveling plans for the holidays?









  • Zoe

    I’m hoping to do a “no spend” January as well! We normally don’t spend too much extra, but December is always a crazy month. I think it will feel good to step back from spending for awhile! I’m interested in what your “rules” for that are!

    I hope you take a week off! That YouTube stuff must be exhausting! I think your videos are fun to watch, but they are also too long for me. Most of the ones I tend to watch are 10 minutes or less. 🤷 I’ve also been trying to focus more on my life, instead of YouTube and blogs. It’s not easy. 😂

    Those wraps look SO GOOD.

    Merry Christmas!!

    Reply to Zoe
  • Anonymous

    Those gingerbread men and stuffed puppies on the mantle are adorable!!!

    Reply to Anonymous
  • LJ

    Girl those black knee high boots–details???

    Reply to LJ
  • Megan

    I thought Daiya and processed foods were a no on a planet based diet?

    Reply to Megan
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Daiya is plant-based and I will most likely be eating some processed food during January. I’m going to be eating a plant-based diet but no crazy rules.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Susie

    Your chip stealing guy story had me giggling at work – what a weirdo for sure! Being handsome doesn’t give him a pass at such strange (and scary) behavior. Oh my! I’m glad the bartender kicked him out.
    I think your January challenges sound super exciting! I would love to join in with a vegetarian version (can’t give up the dairy, I love it too much) and I’m all in for the decluttering challenge! I would love to be more of a minimalist (my version though, not stark white walls). Can’t wait to see how it goes for you, good luck!

    Reply to Susie
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hahahaha I agree, Susie!!!!

      I’m ready for a fresh start in January so the “no spending” is going to be tough! My friend, Caitlin, is also doing it so that helps!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jen D

    So happy you liked and reccomend the movie Instant Family!! It’s based on a true story and the agency I work at is the agency in the film they did their adoption thru! It’s a great representation of the trials and tribulations of adoption! Happy Holidays!

    Reply to Jen D
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Aww, that is so amazing. That movie made me want to cry and laugh and just made me feel so good! I know I’ll be in the adoption process one day in life and it’s nice to see that foster to adopt is an option as well.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Kate

    The Yeti cooler is on my gift list this year so I sent over your code to my parents!

    Reply to Kate
  • Olivia

    Are you done Christmas shopping?
    Are you caught up on Vlogmas?
    Any traveling plans for the holidays?

    Hi Tara!

    Are you going to be sharing any details of your January challenges before hand? I would love to join you in them and be prepared!

    I did the same thing as you for my Christmas shopping! I realized last week I had NOTHING so I went out and was determined not to come home until I was done lol. I succeeded and stayed with my budget and got everyone’s presents!

    My husband and I just got back from a long weekend trip to New York! We had never been and wanted to celebrate our 4 year anniversary there and see all the lights and decorations and shows. It was wonderful and a nice cool break from the Florida weather.

    Reply to Olivia
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Olivia!

      I’m really not doing anything “too planned” but starting in January, I’ll be trying to minimize what I have and get rid of things I don’t use/need while NOT spending money on anything unless it’s food/experience! That means no clothes, home stuff, or anything!!! It’s going to be tough, but I think it’ll feel so good to do it. As for January plant-based month, I’m just going to eat plant-based and try to cook as many recipes from different cookbooks and blogs as possible to review! 😀

      I’m so glad you got all your shopping done! FEELS GREAT!! doesn’t it?

      Awwwww that sounds like the perfect trip! Glad you had a wonderful time. xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Emily L.

    I’ve still got some family and boyfriends family to shop for!! I’m running out of time! Loved the video to your shopping trip! 😊❤️

    Reply to Emily L.
  • Erin @ Brownie Bites Blog

    Your posts always inspire me to add detail to my home and everyday life in general – your photos of your life inspire me! Thanks for keeping up with your great blog, Taralynn!

    Reply to Erin @ Brownie Bites Blog
  • Emily

    Just caught up on all the vlogs last night while cooking! I love the vlogs, but mentioned your blog taking a hit and I do love your blogs (especially recap blogs) so I would hate to miss out on those. I am doing whole 30 in January and am nervous so it’ll be nice to have someone else also doing a restrictive month of eating. Also, just curious what kyle said when you pulled out the Daiya burritos in your vlog? You go, “K that’s on my vlog” haha so I was just curious what his comment was. Keep doing what you’re doing because every normal person loves and appreciates what you do!

    Reply to Emily
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Emily! This made me so happy to hear!

      oh goodness….lol, He didn’t know I was filming and he said “why don’t you bend over a little bit more” so it was on the Vlogmas 😂 I thought about taking it out but hey it’s life!

      Thank you for taking the time out of your day to leave this comment! Hope you enjoyed cooking!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    You’ve decorated your home so beautifully, Taralynn! I really like it – it’s so cheery and colourful, but so cosy at the same time! I really think you have a knack for decorating. 🙂 ❤️

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
  • Valerie

    We are traveling to Texas to see my husbands family this year. I cannot wait to get some warmth!

    Reply to Valerie
  • Janice

    Will you share the peanut brittle recipes?

    Reply to Janice
  • Heather

    Hey Taralynn!
    I still have a few more items to get for Christmas. This month flew by! I have watched some vlogmas episodes, but I need to catch up on that too. I am super excited to see your plant based January posts! If you are looking for a good plant based cook book check out Bosh! or Minimalist Baker. Those are my favs! Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

    Reply to Heather
    • Taralynn McNitt

      This month has gone by SO FAST! wow.

      Thank you for the cookbook recommendations! My goal is to cook more meals instead of throwing things on a plate lol I feel like plant-based January is a great excuse to open some cookbooks!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • ckreugs

    I just love your blog, I’ve been following for years, since you were at your last website. It’s been so much fun to watch you grow into yourself and your writing. I hope that doesn’t sound weird 🤦🏽‍♀️. I’m definitely a late shopper this year, I feel like it’s different for me each year. Last year I had all my Christmas presents bought by the end of November. I’m flying to Denver right now to spend Christmas with my parents and brothers, and I stilllll haven’t managed to buy anyone presents. Oops. Hopefully the shops won’t be too crazy over the next few days! Merry Christmas!

    Reply to ckreugs
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Awww, thank you so much!! That didn’t sound weird. It was so sweet and kind of you!

      Wow, what a fun trip for Christmas!!! There are always gift cards. THey’re easier to travel with 😂

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Kristen

    I was wrapping gifts today (dreading it – I have a spoiled 4yo) but I had your vlogmas videos playing during. You mentioned people being mean – but I appreciate your making those. They got me in the spirit and put me in a good mood. Thanks for what you do!

    Reply to Kristen
  • Heather

    That chip man sounds terrifying and weird! I’m glad the bartender said something! :-O Wow I havent seen those daiya burritos yet! Are they new?? I have to get my hands on some!

    Reply to Heather
    • Taralynn McNitt

      It made for a great story…?😆

      Yes, i think they are new!! I saw them and was like…they will be a hit or miss and BOY WERE THEY A HIT!!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • N.S

    Hey 😊, I actually did all my Christmas shopping in November (my first time ever not leaving it late – and boy does it take the stress off!).
    I have caught up on your Vlogs – yes! I’m really enjoying them. I haven’t commented there but I felt like I had to say this after the last video – you were feeling down about certain people, I’m aware of that… and I just wanted to chime in like a few others and say that those people speak only for themselves – at the end of the day, if they are looking for something to be sceptical and critical about – they need to take a good look in the mirror. These, I assure you – are the same women who are spouting off feminist “support our fellow women, we stand together” and then completely disregard that sentiment 5 minutes later to critisize a fellow woman on anything they can possibly think of. Its so sad.
    Keep going. Ignore the crap and be proud of what you have built.

    Oh and – your family are so peepin’ on your gift vlog… who could resist that??? 😉

    Reply to N.S
    • Taralynn McNitt

      You’re so good about shopping! I always say I’ll do it in advance and NEVER DO!

      I appreciate your kind words. Really means a lot and helps me. You are right about those people for sure!!!

      hahaha oh no! I hope not! 🤭 😂

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Kate

    Hey Taralynn, what’s your favorite non dairy milk for making lattes and cappuccinos? I have a milk frother but now that I don’t drink dairy anymore I’m struggling to find a great substitute! Thanks!

    Reply to Kate
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Kate!

      I use the Nature’s Path oat milk. 😊 It’s SOOOO frothy 10x more than dairy milk. I buy it in bulk on Amazon because it doesn’t need refrigerated and it’s lasted me like five months so far and I have four more containers to go through! That’s insane since I have one almost every day. Also, New Barn makes good barista style almond milk.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jenna

    Not done Christmas shopping yet, still ordering and still need to go out and face the crowds.

    Yes! I’m so in love with your vlogmas videos!

    Nope staying home for the holidays!

    Reply to Jenna
  • Kelsey W.

    Hi Taralynn! I hope Leo is feeling better <3 I am definitely not done Christmas shopping lol, I've maybe gotten a 1/4 of what is on my list, so I better get on it! We don't have to travel too far from Baltimore to see our families, so I'm thankful for that! I was cracking up about the tortilla chip serial killer hahaha, because almost the same thing happened to me! I was traveling solo and stopped in Scottsdale, Arizona for dinner. I sat at the bar of a mexican restaurant so of course I got chips and salsa. This man comes in to pick up a to go order and sits next to me. After a minute or two, he takes a chip out of my basket and then says "Is it ok if I have a chip?" after he's already taken it lol! The bartender immediately noticed and was like "Sir, I'll get you your own chips. Don't touch hers." So I awkwardly laughed and thankfully his food was ready to be picked up so he left shortly after. Not without trying to talk to me and learn about where I live, which freaked me out!! Eating tortilla chips at the bar is a risky game hahaha

    I hope you have a great week!
    xo Kelsey

    Reply to Kelsey W.

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