Christian dating: an anticlimax (pun intended)

Ohh, Christian dating.

If you’ve experienced it you know what I mean with that sigh. If not, let me give you a look with my experience with one particular Christian guy.

I thought I had found my ideal guy last year- I read his online profile and really felt a bond with him, and that was before he had even posted a picture. In a risky move, I sent him a smile/wink/whatever that particular site has (I’ve tried them all, except Tinder), and asked him to post some pictures.

The next day? Jackpot! He looked like a preppy American Prince William and was holding a baby (double jackpot! The baby wasn’t his!) We started talking and it was genuinely nice to get to know a guy through long letters. It felt old fashioned in this digital age, even though it was through the messaging on the site. It felt reassuring to be starting things the way so many people in the past did. It was a while before we started texting and talking on the phone, and a few more weeks before we met in person for our first date.

We got along extremely well on our first date, down to being in complete agreement on the type of pizza to split. I should’ve known then that we were both too eager to please, and too wary of any sort of conflict. This was a pattern that continued on throughout the time we were together. For the record, I can genuinely say that I got my favorite type of pizza (Margherita with fresh basil and mozzarella), but it was more the attitude that we both had of “wow, this is so easy!” with each other. We came to believe, subconsciously I’m sure, that these little happenstances equaled us being “good” for each other, and we didn’t want to break the streak of having things in common and agreeing on everything.

Ironically, even though we each thought this easiness made us good for each other, we both had hesitations about being together, and were baffled about why we had hesitations even though we were so good “on paper.”

After we had been on 4 or 5 dates he proposed to me that we take the next 2 weeks off from dating to really pray and focus on God’s will for our relationship (did you think he actually proposed-proposed to me?!) We did this and had very limited connections until our next date. I wasn’t sure what to think…I felt like I was on trial and was more consumed with insecurity than prayer and thoughtful meditation and counsel on our relationship (if you could even call it that). I came back to him a few weeks later discouraged, because I can’t really say that I heard God speak to me one way or another about this guy. I had a “good feeling” because he was “good on paper,” which isn’t saying much, because when I look back I actually remember a lot of bad feelings from this time, mainly insecurity and uncertainty that was so overwhelming that I couldn’t focus on God’s will clearly.

We reunited and both kind of felt like God didn’t give us a clear answer. We wondered, is THAT the answer? Maybe it was.

I had gone into this time of prayer and fasting looking for God to give me a clear red or green light, but what I found was that things were and always had been a yellow light: proceed with caution. We went on a few more dates, and then he told me that for the next 6 or 7 weeks his weekends were booked completely solid with out of state weddings, a guys fishing trip, a bachelor party, family stuff, and a graduation. He basically wanted to take a break during that time and continue praying since we wouldn’t be able to see each other. We still talked, but he was busy. Unfortunately weekdays weren’t an option because I was working mostly 3-11 shifts and he had normal hours. If we were lucky we could talk during my dinner break, but he had various weeknight activities like trivia and Bible study that kept him busy. Finally this break was over, and we went on a date that just wasn’t that fun. I wondered if we had lost too much traction to really get things back to where they were. After a few more dates I felt similar, but had a hope that we were getting closer again, finally in a good rhythm.

After a little while of dating post-break, we still weren’t official, and I felt insecure about this. He also hadn’t kissed me, and even for a Christian couple this seemed unusual. Believe it or not, most Christian couples aren’t like the Duggars, saving everything including their first kiss for marriage. I’m not judging the people who do. I believe in purity but I think that kissing guys you care about is a way to express how you feel without going over the top. I think that to have a relationship there needs to be SOME kind of physical contact that’s a little deeper than how you kiss your great aunt Wendy when she comes to town.

I genuinely think my guy was trying to be respectful in waiting a few months to kiss me, but it wasn’t something we talked about and it left me feeling insecure that maybe he didn’t like me or find me attractive. I would wait for the end of our dates, hoping that each night would be the night.

I bet you’re wondering why I didn’t kiss him first.It’s because I’m stubborn and after months of just hugging and stuff I wanted him to kiss me first (remember, I wasn’t convinced he liked me). I could have kissed him and I know he wouldn’t have stopped me, but to me that wouldn’t have proved that he liked me.

Finally one night, after we had watched a nature documentary (sexy, I know), he kissed me. It was a good kiss and we ended up making out on my couch for a while, praying my roommates wouldn’t walk in and ruin our moment after so long waiting for it (they didn’t). After that we kissed all the time- hello, goodbye, making out on various couches, cautious not to cross any lines.

Summer came, and I was discouraged, still wondering if he really liked me and if so, why I wasn’t his girlfriend yet. I brought this up to him, and he cited wanting to be cautious about God’s will. He didn’t want to move to quickly and end up hurting me. He wanted to guard both of our hearts. It sounded fair enough- after all, I agree with and appreciate all of those things, but something still didn’t feel right to me. I felt like he was still trying to figure me out, and that somehow I was unworthy.

By this time I had picked up on his quirks and found what annoyed me about him. One of the big things is that I felt he didn’t make it his priority to get to know me better by spending more time with me, to figure out if we should be official. It was pretty casual and we almost never saw each other more than twice in one week. On one hand he really seemed to want to find God’s will, but on the other, I felt like he wasn’t spending enough time with me for us to really know each other. I know that we can’t purely judge based on our time together, but looking back I think it would have been helpful, and that we would have come to the same conclusion, only sooner, which would have been ultimately good in terms of getting on with my life. I think his perception of trying to figure out if this was God’s will was to seek counsel from other Christian men in his life, fast, pray, and read. I did the same things, but felt I needed more quality time with him to have an answer on if I even liked him enough to try to make this work.

Towards the end of the summer I got so fed up with my guy and the state of our non-relationship that I was ready to throw in the towel several times. But I always stopped myself, and the last time I stopped myself, I decided I would try harder. I made him a delicious dinner and we had a nice evening together. I gave him gifts for his new classroom; he was a teacher and had gotten a new job, so I got him a few posters to decorate his new space. I tried to be more- more bubbly, more fun, more affectionate, more desirable.

We had another date night at my apartment where we watched a movie together. I tried to cuddle with him and he just seemed rigid. Come to think of it, he hadn’t been super affectionate the last two dates or so- no steamy make out sessions lately. I knew he wasn’t a big cuddler, but this was a little colder than usual. I decided to try to give him a massage. As I rubbed his back I got no feedback from him that this was something he even felt, let alone liked. He kind of leaned forward towards the TV and basically ignored me. Then we went for a walk. It seemed like he had something on his mind that he wanted to talk about, but it never came out. After we got back from our walk we sat on the stoop in front of my apartment. He told me that he wasn’t good with words and would be sending me one of his “famous emails” (he had done this a few times before). We kissed goodbye- our last kiss- as he got into his car and drove away, leaving me anxiously awaiting what I strongly suspected to be the end.

He sent me an email the next day essentially telling me about his reservations in furthering a relationship and how he doesn’t understand how this can be because I’m like, so totally awesome (my words, not his). He wanted to know if I felt the same way and had the same reservations. When we talked on the phone the next day I told him that yes, I actually felt exactly the same way and that I almost had this talk with him a few weeks earlier, but thought I would give things one last go. So that was basically our break up, although I’m still not sure what we were breaking up. He told me he wanted to see me again but understood if I didn’t want to get lunch with him. I went back and forth, but decided it might be nice to have some closure, so we got lunch and used the last of a gift card we had won together at trivia night. We actually shared a nice time together and were able to reflect on our time together in a very honest and open way. He hugged each other goodbye and he told me how great a girl I was. We promised to “keep in touch” and “not be strangers.” We haven’t kept in touch, and essentially we are strangers. I guess we always kind of were.

So what have I learned?

-Being good on paper is overrated

-God’s will isn’t usually a clear red or green light; it’s more nuanced than that, and sometimes no answer is your answer

-Ultimately being emotionally and physically hesitant saved us both pain (although there was still some pain, this was one of the “best” breakups I’ve had)

-Getting dinner with your “ex” after you “break up” can actually be good- don’t just write if off as something not to do. Closure is valuable.

-Communication is essential- I look back and realize that we were both trying to please each other so much that we didn’t even fight when we should have. I tolerated a lot of things (like our break) without much complaining. He thought this was a great quality I had, but it wasn’t, it was just me being a coward and not wanting to rock the boat by speaking my mind. Always be open and honest, and truly listen to the other person. It’s okay to have disagreements, because every couple does, and how you work through this is a good barometer for the health of your relationship.

-Prince William is overrated. Surprisingly, Prince Harry is now the hot one. It’s not what anyone expected, and somewhere there is a lesson there. Besides, Prince William and his counterpart who I dated were both balding. Don’t overlook the Prince Harrys out there, because they might just be better than the Williams.

-I still stand by what I say about the importance of quality time.

-I should have just kissed him first.

-C’est la vie.

 

~Jess

 

 

 

Pop some bubbly

Celebrate we will, for life is short but sweet for certain. -DMB

A few years ago at the community group I attend through my church we made new year’s resolutions in the form of single words that we wanted to capture the new year. This was the year that I chose “growth,” but one woman’s word was “celebration.” She told us that she wants to celebrate all the small, sweet things in life and raise her son in a happy, celebratory environment.

This really resonated with me. In our culture we tend to over-indulge on celebrating 21st birthdays and other big events, but what about finding all those little everyday blessings and victories to celebrate?

Do you have anyone in your life who you just KNOW will get excited over every tiny good detail in your life? For me it’s my Nana. No matter what you tell her she gets excited, practically jumping up and down, talking in a high pitched excited voice, hugging you and really just sharing the happiness with you. And she tells EVERYONE your good news. She was just beside herself when my cousin got engaged last Christmas- it was all over her Facebook and everything. It’s so fun to call her when I have even a small piece of good news because she gives the rare truly enthusiastic response people want when something good happens.

Celebrating is really a big part of scattering cheer if you think about it. When your roommate aces her midterms (or your kid gets 100 on a spelling test), why not go out and treat her to some ice cream? If your boyfriend gets a promotion, break out the champagne! When your best friend gets into her ideal internship, make her a fun handmade card  and pick some flowers to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be just for those things though…maybe you successfully fought your speeding ticket, or found the debit card you thought you lost, or got a date with that guy you like…the point is, life is full of wonderful things…notice and celebrate them!

I do an okay job with this, but there is always room for improvement, especially for things that bring so much joy. With this post I resolve to buy more champagne to keep on hand, make more greeting cards, send more celebratory messages to those I love, because life isn’t always so happy.

And hey, when those hard days come, remember those too. I found out last week that I didn’t get the job I really wanted and had interviewed for, and came home to some wildflowers and an encouraging card from my roommate. It really made by bad day a little better and renewed the hope that I needed. It wasn’t so much a celebration as a reminder that soon we will have something to celebrate, but until then, hang in there.

What could be better than that?

My Two Cents on Finance: What to do with that tax return money

As I look at when I last posted in December, I welcome in the new season with open arms. I’m so glad that winter is (finally) almost over! It’s been a really tough one. With this season of spring comes another not-always-exciting season though: tax season.

I did my taxes last month and got my return back but have been sitting on it for a bit because I want to do the most for myself with my money. I understand that not everyone gets a tax return, but if you do, learn from my former mistakes and don’t just let it drain away as you spend money on mundane things- make the best of this extra money!

I mean, you could just cash out and make it rain, or fill your pool with money or something, but I think there are other ways to enjoy that money, so I decided to make this little list of the top areas I want to add a little money to share with my followers. Yes, this is really the breakdown of where my money this year went.

Savings account: because you know you can always use a little extra money in there for the unexpected and those special things you’re saving for…

Vacation fund: I don’t have any big trips planned right now but whenever I have extra money I like to put some in this fund so that at some later date I can afford to be spontaneous.

Adult Fund: I decided to open a new savings account for future expenses like a down payment on a house, a wedding, babies, new furniture,  a hot tub (because my dream house has always included one), etc. These things are probably a little ways away (or maybe a long way!), but I figure it’s good to dedicate some money to these things now so that I’m not scrambling when the time comes.

Roth IRA: See my other post on this, but it’s never too early to save for retirement, and for me having a 401k just isn’t enough. I decided to put a few hundred dollars in here to start out 2015. Hopefully this year I can make it to the cap of $8,500 in contributions, but even if I don’t, something is certainly better than nothing.

Student loans: Oh, the dreaded…I put $500 towards one of my loans and then decided to dip into my savings account to pay half of the balance on another loan (I didn’t want to deplete my savings, so that’s why I did half). Hopefully in the next few months I can pay the rest of that loan off.

Fun!: I designated $200 towards “fun,” which can mean many things including but not limited to: new clothes, shoes, handbags, nice restaurants, concert tickets, and pretty much everything in the Lilly Pulitzer for Target line coming in just 11 days (not that I’m counting)

Checking account: It’s always nice to have a little cushion in your checking account, isn’t it? The remainder of my money (not much, trust me) just stayed in there for a little more financial comfort.

There are plenty of other things you can put the money towards depending on what stage of life you’re in, but for young, single me I wanted to help myself as much as possible and set myself up for a good future in whatever ways I could.

Readers, what things do you put tax return money towards? Credit card balance? Bills? Tuition? A new TV? A big vacation? A new puppy, or perhaps a tea cup pig? Charity? Share in the comments!

David’s Tea Advent Calendar Review: Days 24-18

When one of my coworkers told me about a tea Advent calendar, I knew I just had to have it! David’s Tea offers these, and I bought mine in November for about $30. The set includes 24 days of wonderful loose leaf tea in cute individual jars. Each jar hides behind a little door to open each day like other Advent calendars. These jars contain enough tea for about 4 cups of tea (give or take). I thought I would keep track of my favorite teas so that it would be easier to remember which ones I liked, since I know I will probably end up buying a few in larger quantities.

Day 24- Santa’s Secret- This is a delicious, Christmasy black tea with hints of peppermint. The perfect tea for a little holiday pick-me-up. I give it 4 stars.

Day 23- Egg Nog- This is a caffeine-free rooibos tea, and I was a little skeptical that it would be able to compare to one of my favorite holiday drinks. I was pleasantly surprised; this is basically egg nog in tea form, and what it lacks in richness it certainly makes up for in flavor. It even has little white chocolate chips in it that melt beautifully into the tea! I give it 4 stars.

Day 22- Sleigh Ride- This is a caffeine-free fruit infusion. I didn’t want to have it with my breakfast since I NEED caffeine in the morning, but I was so happy I tried it later in the day. This tea is a fruit infusion of apple, hibiscus, pineapple, papaya, almonds, coconut, raisins and cinnamon. The blend is unique and delicious. I give it 3 stars (I’m a tough grader).

Day 21- Lime Gelato- One of the things I love about this tea set is that it has taken me outside of my tea comfort zone. There really isn’t anything to lose, and if I really hated one of the flavors, which I haven’t for the record, the jar makes it handy to give away to someone else. Anyway, I was a little nervous about the Lime Gelato tea since I don’t really like green tea. I was pleasantly surprised though- like the egg nog tea, this was plenty flavorful and true to its name. I give it 4 stars.

Day 20- Apple Custard- This is another fruit infusion, and unfortunately for me it’s caffeine-free. This was a good tea to drink at night- it’s got apples, raisins, spices and a hint of vanilla and chamomile. 3 stars.

Day 19- Organic Cream of Earl Grey- Okay, so I’m a total Earl Grey lover. I wasn’t sure how this would compare to my favorite Harney and Sons Earl Grey, and I was a little confused about the cream part. I didn’t know if I would like it creamy, since I am an Earl Grey purist and refuse to put milk in mine (milk is only for chai and breakfast teas, thank you very much). At any rate, this is definitely my favorite tea thus far, and I will certainly be purchasing a larger quantity of this blend. It has the normal Earl Grey flavor with a touch of creamy, vanilla goodness that really takes it to a whole new level. 5 stars.

Day 18- Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine- This is another green tea, and I confess I actually haven’t tried it yet. I promise I will soon, though! Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised by another good green tea!

Fresh Party Gift Ideas

Secret Santa. Yankee Swap. White Elephant…whatever the party gift tradition, it can be tough to find the right gift that’s generic enough that most of the guests would be happy, not to mention the added challenge of staying within a set price range.

If you’re like me, you don’t want to be boring and you want the most bang for your buck! Here are some tried and true ideas that I have used in the past (and some I plan to use this year!) Keep in mind most of these parties I’ve been to have had predominantly female attendees, so the ideas reflect that.

$5 Gifts– This can be tough but it IS doable, especially with holiday sales and sections of stores devoted to stocking stuffers! You should also never underestimate the power of the dollar section at the front of Target. Don’t be boring and get a $5 gift card, try one of these ideas!

-Votive and small candle or tea lights

-A pair of cozy, warm socks

-Nail polish

-Lip balm

-DIY gifts, like homemade soap, herb infused olive oil or homemade vanilla extract. The best part it you can make a large quantity for much less than $5/person, the only thing is you have to plan ahead…this is also a great idea if you want a somewhat generic gift to give to a bunch of people, and a good alternative to Christmas cookies or candy in that case.

-A small plant, like a cactus- and not to worry, they’re hard to kill for those without green thumbs! You could also get herb plants or aloe vera plants for about $5, which are very useful and easy to grow.

-Bubble bath or bath bombs/melts…bonus points if you get them from Lush, because everything there is amazing

-Good quality hand lotion- this is my favorite useful thing for the winter. You can get a small purse size tube of a good quality brand for pretty cheap

$10 Gifts

-A candle and a bottle of wine

-A bottle of wine and chocolate

-A mug filled with candy or cocoa mix

-A favorite throwback movie- oftentimes older movies are cheaper and you could maybe even get 2. I also once gifted a season of I Love Lucy that was just $10- a great value, and who doesn’t love Lucy?!

-A Christmas ornament- this is one of my favorite gifts to give and receive

-A scarf or pashmina

-A picture frame or photo album (if you’re doing Secret Santa and know who you’re buying for you can put a photo of both of you in it to make it more personal)

-A pair of costume earrings

-A best selling novel- these are usually offered at a discount when they are popular

-Stationary

-A set of drink coasters

-A calendar

-A funny or quirky book, a la Awkward Family Photos

-A pretty notebook or journal

-An assortment of tea. You might even be able to find a nice tea cup to go with it. I love shopping at TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls, and you can usually find pretty tea cups for $5 or less

$20 Gifts

-I just did this one today: I found a set of 4 stemless wine glasses for $8, a corkscrew for $4 and a $9 bottle of wine. I got the glasses and corkscrew at HomeGoods and asked the guy at the liquor store for a good wine under $10. He recommended an Argentinean Malbec that sounded delicious! You could also give cheese accessories (cutting board and knife set), wine charms, wine stoppers, or any variation you choose.

-A spa basket filled with bath goodies

-A basket of gourmet food- olive oil, chocolate, candies, etc.

-A shower-proof Bluetooth speaker that syncs with your smart phone- I got one recently from Groupon Goods and it’s amazing for listening to music in the shower, tub, or even by the pool

-A cookbook

-Cooking set- fill a colander with various tools, and use a dish towel or two in leiu of tissue paper. You could do variations of this by theme- pasta, pizza, Italian food, baking, etc.

-Cocktail kit- all the fixings for a popular cocktail of your choice, or a set of cocktail tools. If you know who you’re buying for you could even find a personalized cocktail that fits their personality or job. When I became a nurse one of my friends got me the ingredients and recipe for the “Hello Nurse” cocktail and I always liked the sentiment.

-Whatever Disney movie is “out of the vault” at that time- Disney movies tend to run around $20, and a few years ago when The Lion King was re-released, my friends fought over it at Yankee Swap. It was the perfect gift to remind us of a childhood favorite.

Well, I hope I inspired you with a few ideas! There are so many possibilities if you think outside the box! Good luck and leave any successful gifts you’ve given in the comments! And of course, have a Merry Christmas!

My Two Cents on Finance [Savings]

Ah, savings. Definitely a sore spot for many of us, and for good reason. It seems that every time I hear about how much I should be saving on NPR or something I get depressed at the impossibility of it. Something that I remember from high school economics class is that saving isn’t the absence of spending. For whatever reason that stuck with me. Saving really is more than that, and there are many reasons to save your money.

We all hear that we need to save, but when you’re living paycheck to paycheck it’s really hard. It’s important to have savings for a rainy day- getting laid off, taking a temporary pay cut, illness not covered by sick time, needing 4 new tires, or having to buy a new refrigerator. It’s a good feeling to have a cushion when things go wrong, or even when you simply want to splurge on something that’s normally out of your price range. Hey, you deserve it sometimes 😉

Something simple and effective that I do is saving a designated amount of money from every single paycheck (note: I have two savings accounts, my regular savings which I’m referring to, and my vacation fund that I contribute a smaller amount to every paycheck. See my vacation fund post for more details- you don’t want to miss it!)

As soon as I got my first professional job I set up my online banking to transfer the money the same Friday I get my paychecks every other week. I get paid at midnight through direct deposit and the money is deducted early in the morning, meaning that I never see or miss the money. It’s perfect, because I am used to living without it, and as a result I have saved thousands of dollars in a few short years!

When times have been hard I’ve transferred a little extra money here and there from my savings account, but I really try not to do that. For instance, I won’t use my savings to pay off my credit card. I use my credit card very sparingly and pay my balance in full every month with money that I have in my checking account rather than dipping into savings (although I would if there was a situation or big expense that demanded it, and by the way, if that happens, please don’t be too hard on yourself!)

When times are good and my savings account is getting really cushy I take a chunk of money and do something good with it- pay some extra on my student loans, put some towards my Roth IRA, donate to charity, or even treat myself to something nice, because hey, I work hard, and I have to be realistic: I love to shop!

Something that I want to do but haven’t yet is investing some of the money I have in savings. Obviously you get a higher return on invested money versus money earning a few pennies of interest in your savings account. Investing ties up your money, so it’s important not to invest unless you also have a decent amount of savings to fall back on. I want to look into investing in a CD, stocks or bonds, but I need to do my research first. Don’t forget that investing in real estate is also a great option if you can afford it, especially if you get property that you can rent out. It’s crazy to think how much my landlord must make monthly from the 4 apartments within 2 houses they own on our street. It’s probably $9-10,000/month, and they bought the two houses (one that they used to live in and paid off) and the house next door decades apart, so it was doable for an average but financially savvy couple.

I really feel that establishing good savings habits is the foundation to having a healthy relationship with money, with less stress and more freedom. What other ways do you save? Do you put extra cash and change in a designated jar? Do you use “Keep the Change” from Bank of America? (I do and it’s great…if you use your debit card to pay for something that is $26.12 they automatically round up to the next dollar and deposit 88 cents into your savings account…easy, painless, and I’ve saved something like $700 since signing up for it in 2006). Leave your savings tips in the comments!

Fall Essentials

As much as I was sad to say goodbye to summer, I am really enjoying fall so far. There’s something about fall that summons new beginnings…maybe it’s because for most of life we started school in September. I also think it’s interesting that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is at the beginning of fall. Fall is a time for being cozy, relaxing, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. It’s a happy medium between the extremes of summer and winter, a time to pick apples, carve pumpkins and look at the foliage. To make the most out of fall I have a list of time-tested essentials that I love having around this time of year…

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My Spiced Pumpkin Yankee candle

I absolutely LOVE the scent of spiced pumpkin, especially in candle form (what can I say?, I’m not a big latte fan). There is something so warm and delightful about this scent. I’ve got one of these candles going almost constantly, whether it’s a jar like this or tea lights. Oh yeah, and the fireplace in the background isn’t too shabby either…that’s another one of my favorite cold weather delights!

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My Nap brand blanket

I got one of these for Christmas one year, and man is it the best blanket ever. The only thing I would change is for it to be a little bigger, although I’m sure they come in larger sizes. It is irresistibly soft and warm like a baby blanket and is the perfect addition to watching TV on the couch or a little extra warmth in bed on a brisk night.

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Beautyrest electric heated mattress pad

Speaking of cold nights in bed, this thing changed my life last winter and this fall, because even on the coldest fall nights I don’t need to cave and turn on my heat. It’s also refreshing for those crisp nights that you want to sleep with the window open but are afraid of getting a little too cold during the night. I got it for Christmas last yeah after hearing my parents rave so much about theirs, and I LOVE it. It’s been great to have as the nights get colder, and it has a remote that allows you to adjust the settings or even preheat the bed a little while before getting into it. Honestly, I’m always cold and I usually only have it on 1 or 2. The mattress pad even shuts itself off automatically after 10 hours. If you happen to be like me and want to stay in bed longer than that, you can just turn it on again and it will last another 10 hours. Fair warning: you WON’T want to get out of bed on those dark, cold fall and winter mornings in your even-cozier-than-normal bed.

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Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend herbal tea

This is literally autumn in tea form. The scent of this stuff is amazing, and it’s also delicious and healthy. It’s got cinnamon, apple, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile and some other spices, plus the picture on the box is SO adorable- a fox drinking tea! It’s so good that I stock up on it in the fall so that I have enough to last me through the winter, since it’s only available seasonally at Trader Joe’s. Go get some. NOW.

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Butternut Squash Ravioli

One of the most delicious foods I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating is butternut squash ravioli with a white wine and sage cream sauce at my friend Becky’s wedding. I make my own version by buying butternut squash raviolis at Trader Joe’s and tossing them in a brown butter sauce. I’ve experimented a lot, but my basic brown butter sauce is just unsalted butter, a little almond extract, chopped fresh sage and nutmeg sauteed until the butter is browned and the sage is crispy. It’s actually a really easy meal, but could easily be served to guests and would come across as restaurant worthy.

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Fuzzy socks

There’s nothing better than wearing soft, fuzzy, warm socks. Yes, maybe you can’t wear them with most pairs of shoes because of their thickness, and maybe your feet would get too hot inside the socks and shoes anyway, but they are the best to wear around the house at the very least. I highly suggest you go buy yourself a few pairs. You will thank me later.

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Leather Jacket

It’s leather weather! Enjoy this fleeting time by making the most of this dry, crisp fall weather that is just perfect for non-waterproof, not-super-warm material. I LOVE my leather jacket. My nana got me a jacket from Marshall’s a few years ago, and I didn’t really like it. She’s a huge shopper like me and was okay with me exchanging it, so I checked out my local Marshall’s to see what I could exchange the jacket for. Amazingly, I saw this gorgeous buttery smooth Calvin Klein leather jacket. It was love. And it was cheap…after exchanging the other jacket I only had to pay $10 for the leather upgrade! One of the best deals I’ve ever gotten. My nana was so proud of my bargain and approved of the leather jacket.

What fall essentials would you add to the list? Leave them in the comments! Happy fall!