A look back at 2016 ~ the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

 

This last week of December always gets me confused. I never know what day it is or what I’m supposed to be doing. I am always excited for the New Year though. The new possibilities, the new experiences…the upcoming year’s potential is pretty wide open.

 

As I was looking through social media today and over the past week, I noticed that the consensus was that 2016 was a hard year. Most of my friends expressed that they are ready to put 2016 to bed and wake up to 2017.

 

Here is a little look back at some (world, entertainment, and fun) events that I recalled from this year. I would love to hear from you too, if there were events that were meaningful and special to you.

 

In technology, NASA’s spacecraft Juno orbited Jupiter and the first solar powered plane completed a trip around the world.

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In entertainment, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar, Queen Elizabeth turned 90, Hamilton the musical became a sensation on and off Broadway, and Pokemon Go got everyone off their butts and out walking around. Also, my favorite Great British Bake off is coming back!

The summer Olympics had me quite captivated this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And the Chicago Cubbies won the World Series after 108 years. They are no longer our lovable losers but they are still lovable!

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We had quite a controversial and ground breaking presidential race. Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for the presidency by a major US presidential party but ultimately Donald Trump dominated. It also left the American people quite interested and confused by the Electoral College and how it works.

Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/hashtag/imwithher

The bad was the loss of many greats. This year we lost David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, just to name a few. These are not including our beloved family members and friends.

The ugly part of the year started with the horrible attacks in Brussels and Nice, France. My heart still goes out to the families where this tragedy will not just end with the starting of a new year.

 

With the hard parts of this year, I will leave the words of one of my favorite uncles. Myron had a long hard fight with cancer for over 11 years and this year he was laid to rest. He would always say, “Enjoy your life while you’re living it.”  I plan to make that the major point for 2017!

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Photo Credit: http://tinybuddha.com/fun-and-inspiring/dont-wait-life-perfect/

In happier thoughts, our blog started this year and we want to thank all of our followers and supporters. Here’s to another year of freely sharing our thoughts, interests, stories, and photos. Happy New Year to you and yours!

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New Year’s Resolutions

As 2016 comes to an end, many of us still debate about making and keeping a new year’s resolution. I am sure you have seen this ultimate list that everyone seems to steal from:
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List Credit: http://www.simplifiedbee.com/2014/01/new-year-goals.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+http/simplifiedbeeblogspotcom+(Simplified+Bee)
While all of these are good, maybe we need to be more specific and make some small “easy” goals along with larger ones that will make us look back at 2017 with pride in ourselves. I want to give you a few ideas for making some resolutions.
For starters, it can be a huge, daunting task to commit to something for a year day in and day out. As much as our heart is willing, our flesh is weak. How about starting a monthly resolution first? Say for the month of January you will make it a priority to go for a walk every other day. For February, you will see to it to keep track of your food intake and try to make healthier choices. For March, try doing some food prep on Sunday afternoons for a few weeks to see if that helps with curbing your desire to run through a fast food place. Here is a similar chart for month to month resolutions that can help.
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Chart Credit: http://www.ehow.com/ehow-fitness/blog/12-months-to-a-better-you/?utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=inline&utm_campaign=fanpage&crlt.pid=camp.N74xMW9h0E4d&crlt.pid=camp.EABPoFl2R6Sh
There may be a few of you that committed to a healthy life style change last year and kept your resolution. If so, that’s amazing! Keep up that good work and maybe reflect on some resolutions to focus on living more spiritually “zen”. Sometimes our bodies can be healthy and happy but our spirit and attitude keeps us from being mentally happy. These life changing attitude adjustments can be just as difficult to keep as the physical fitness ones. Check out this idea list:
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List Credit: http://tinybuddha.com/category/fun-and-inspiring/
I read once that a woman who has an organized closet can take over the world. I believe this to be true. When my house is organized from top to bottom I just feel invincible. It is hard work and can loom over you if you try and do it all in one day or weekend. Give yourself more time, you can’t neglect your family while trying to tackle your clutter. Try this 21 day list but spread it over 21 weeks instead.
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List Credit: http://tobifairley.com/blog
If all this is too much for the upcoming year, I understand! We can’t do it all. If I could give just one simple resolution to myself and my readers, I would say to enjoy the little things. Take the time to enjoy the sunshine on a spring day, a cup of coffee with a friend, a home cooked meal with your family, a walk with your dog even on a rainy day, a few hours to read a book in the library, etc. As Ferris Bueller would say, “life goes by pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”

A Look Inside Our Boutique

This week I wanted to give you a look inside our brick and mortar store that is located in sunny Gainesville, Florida. Our family owned business has been in operation for over 30 years. And, many of our clients have been shopping with us for those 30 years. It is always a joy to see the younger generations following in their families’ footsteps and come through our doors to seek out a special piece for a dear loved one. Oaks Boutique is known for our stellar customer service and gorgeous show room.

 

 

Not only do we have the most extensive jewelry selection in the city but our items range from vintage jewelry, designer handbags, stunning timepieces, and custom pieces.

 

 

We employ a wide range of talented individuals who eventually become like family. Our work place has a harmony about it that it quite tangible when entering. Quite a few of us are GIA trained Accredited Jewelry Professionals, our jeweler has been making works of art for over 38 years, and our photographer is top notch. Even during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we are all singing along to the Christmas music, taking time to personally gift wrap every piece, and we end the day with smiles on our faces. Our staff would say that we are the lucky ones!

 

 

Keep in mind that even if you can’t experience the charm of our store front, we are always available online through our Etsy store. We believe that you will find the same “small town” friendly customer service even through that shopping venue.

 

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Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @oaksjewelry and like us on Facebook (Oaks Jewelry Boutique) for sneak peaks of new jewelry and coupon codes. Our current coupon code is “HOLIDAY20” to receive 20% off any item in our shop! Thank you for reading and happy Christmas shopping weekend!!!
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Christmas Traditions ~ Both Old and New

Over the years, my family has created many traditions and have adopted new ones along the way, to always make Christmas a special time with family. I want to share a few that are my personal ones and will add a few that I plan to start in the future as my family grows.

1) Christmas Sugar Cookies

I’m not sure what caused the ladies in my family to gravitate to just the sugar cookie but now it is forever ingrained in my mind that sugar cookies equals Christmas time. They are light and easy to decorate with icing or sprinkles. Plus the sugar cookie has a certain taste that just encourages me to eat more than one or two or six (am I the only one?). Here are a few recipes that I have tried that will not disappoint.

sugar-cookies     Colorful Christmas cookies on a plate

Click Here to see recipe

 

 

 

 

Click Here to see recipe 

 

2) Setting a Festive Table

My mom has many sets of china. She loves the seasons and always has a theme going through her house from her table wares to throw pillows. Our family always knew Christmas was coming when the fancy china came out. We would leave it perfect until our Christmas day feast and then we would feel like princes and princesses at a royal banquet when we got to finally use the glorious china. Here are a few pictures of her two tables this year.

 

3) Christmas Jewelry

The girls in our family always receive jewelry for Christmas. My family has always been in the business and it was a popular and very easy tradition to look forward to. My dad would sometimes drape a gold or pearl necklace in the tree to surprise my mom on Christmas morning. It was such a sweet moment when all the presents were opened and my dad would go up to the tree and say, “I think someone missed something”. Low and behold there was a delicate, pretty necklace next to the silver garland. Also, my favorite part of Christmas morning was getting to my stocking where all the little presents were. Usually wrapped up in a tiny box with a big curly bow would be a pair of earrings or a bracelet.

Click Here to View Listing for Necklace, Here for Earrings, and Here for Bracelet

 

4) Fun Breakfast Food

This is a new one. I just love these ideas for Christmas morning pancakes. What a surprise your kiddos will get when they not only get a yummy “after-present-opening” breakfast but one that is fun and festive too!

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Click Here for Recipe of Reindeer Pancakes                                        

(Photo Credit for Snowman Pancakes : http://www.doublethebatch.com/simple-christmas-eve-traditions-start-family/#_a5y_p=2338942)

 

5) Holiday Light Shows

I love hopping in the car, with some hot chocolate, Christmas music on the radio, and going to look at Christmas lights. Whether it be on a guided tour at a community event park or just in a nice neighborhood. I found this little checklist game that would be fun for adults and kids alike.

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Click Here for Printable Version 

 

6) Hallmark Channel On 24/7

This just started within the last few years but I have become such a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies. Warning: they are cheesy and predictable but it’s nice to start a movie knowing that all will end well. Plus I just love all the winter settings. Here are a few of my recent favorites but I guarantee that most of them are just delightful!

 

Want more fun traditions? Head over to our Pinterest (click here) to check out more. I would love to hear about your family traditions too. Please feel free to comment, I would love to connect with you!

December Birthstones

December just happens to be my favorite month. For me, it is a month that brings about time with family, bundled up movie nights with hot chocolate, outside fires in the fire pit, stockings busting with little gifts on Christmas morning, and all my favorite gemstones. December has several different birthstones that all fall within the realm of gorgeous in my book.

 

The first stone is zircon. The icy blue version of this beauty is often mistaken for other stones like blue topaz and aquamarine. The white color of this stone is not to be confused with cubic zirconia or CZs. But, white zircon has been used as a diamond substitute before. The white or colorless version of this stone is probably the least expensive. Blue zircon has a gorgeous teal blue color to it that represents the coolness of December quite nicely. An interesting fun fact about zircon is that it is one of the oldest minerals on earth! In the middle ages, zircon was said to aid in sleep, bring prosperity, and give honor and wisdom to its owner.

 

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Photo Credit: http://www.palagems.com/gem-news-2005

 

The second choice for December birthstones is turquoise. Some even call this stone the “earth element” of December. Turquoise is my all-time favorite stone. It is not classified as a precious gemstone but I think it is a universally gorgeous specimen. It looks good in gold or silver settings, compliments every skin tone, goes with black or brown, and is almost considered a neutral color itself in the fashion world. Turquoise has been around for decades and was used by the Egyptians and Aztecs. Native American jewelry often has turquoise accents and is said to have protective properties. The Tibetans believe that turquoise is a healing stone and have valued it for centuries.

 

Photo Credit: http://gregthorne.blogspot.com/2012/09/cerrillos-turquoise-from-new-mexico.html, https://www.brilliance.com, Click Here to View Brooch Listing

 

Next up is tanzanite. This stone is a more modern addition to the December birthstone list. Most of us know of tanzanite because a famous New York City jewelry store named Tiffany & Co used this stone a lot in their gemstone lines. It is only found in one place in the world, Tanzania. The color of tanzanite is unmistakable. It ranges from ultramarine blue to violet-blue. This fascinating stone continues to allure collectors and can usually fetch a hefty price tag.

 

Click Here to View Tanzanite Listings

Last on the list is the widely known, topaz. Topaz occurs in large deposits in many colors. The most important mines of topaz are in Brazil and the most sought after kind is imperial topaz. I like to associate the blue color of topaz with the December birthstone because of the icy color that is like blue zircon.

Click Here to View Blue Topaz Listings

Happy December!