Musings of a Museum Fanatic: December 2015

12.31.2015

This Blog Link Up Under Construction!!



Coming soon to a Thursday near you will be a new link up!! Right now I'm working on developing a Thursday link up and it will hopefully start pretty soon in 2016. Interested in learning more and co-hosting? Shoot me an email and we'll chat : )

Keep an eye out for what's coming to a Thursday near you in 2016!

12.30.2015

15 Favorite Posts From 2015

Wow we just have one day left in 2015! That's crazy. The past couple years have just been flying by and 2015 was no different! Since everyone tends to get a little nostalgic the last week of the year why should things be any different here on Musings of a Museum Fanatic? In case you missed any of these amazing posts, check out my favorite 15 posts from 2015.

There was tons of new favorite recipes shared ...
CORN & BLACK BEAN SALSA


CRAB STUFFED CHICKEN


CRAB RAVIOLI IN CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE



We also felt a little old this year ...

YOU KNOW YOU'RE NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE WHEN ...


30 THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 1985


30 THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 1995


Museums galore ...

MUSEUM OF BROADCAST COMMUNICATIONS


PEROT MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY


LOYOLA UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART


HIGH TEA AT THE LANGHAM HOTEL

So much organizing and blog stuff!

6 ITEMS YOU CAN TOSS RIGHT NOW


5 WAYS TO START REDUCING YOUR ELECTRONIC CLUTTER


4 APPS TO EARN GIFTCARDS

TIPS FOR A PRODUCTIVE BLOG DAY

BLOGGERS TO SPONSOR OVER & OVER AGAIN

Can't wait to share a whole new year of posts with you!

12.29.2015

Let's Be Friends Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Let's Be Friends Blog Hop!

A blog hop is a set time frame for current or aspiring bloggers to find new blogs and quality content. It is a great way to make new friends and find inspiration! It is also a fabulous way to promote your own blog and posts.

Dear Friends,
What a day to celebrate! This is the 151st week of the Let's Be Friends blog hop! Thanks for joining us on this special day. Chelsee and Tiffany are extremely delighted to see the way this hop has grown and love to see your faces each week!

**IMPORTANT HOUSEKEEPING NOTE! We are looking for co-hosts for our blog hop for FEBRUARY ! This is a great way to gain new followers and network with other bloggers! If you are interested please email thedwellingtree@gmail.com! Thank you!

Join us every Tuesday at 7am (MST). This blog hop focuses on content. LINK UP YOUR FAVORITE POST from last week in this fun content-sharing blog hop! I love the idea of blog hopping, but I love the idea of reading posts and quality content on new blogs I've never been to even more. Instead of simply linking up your blog button, you are now able to link up your favorite post you recently wrote. Have a delicious recipe to share, DIY tutorial, or heartfelt post? Share it with us! All hosts and co-hosts put up some unique and fun content from the past week. Make sure to check them out. P.S.- you may still link up your blog button and blog name, but it is encouraged to link up your favorite post instead. You will get more page views and interest if you do so! Some of the most successful blog hops I have participate in focus on content rather than just exchanging follows. You never know who will become a loyal follower or pin that delicious new recipe you posted!

The BEST part of this blog hop? Each week there will be a WINNER! That's right, each week we will choose one lucky blog to feature from the previous week's hop. This hop receives thousands of page views every week, so your blog will have the chance to be center stage for free. You must follow all the hosts and co-hosts in order to win. Only those who link up a specific post are eligible to be featured! *You must follow all the hosts and co-hosts in order to win.

The last exciting change is that the co-host spots will now be available to all sponsors of The Dwelling Tree or Southern Beauty Guide. If you are interested in co-hosting the blog hop, email Tiffany or Chelsee about sponsorship opportunities and how to co-host the weekly hop!
Let's Be Friend's Blog Hop Guidelines
1. Link up your favorite post from your week.
2. Follow your hosts and co-hosts.
3. Grab the button and post it on your blog so we can share the love.
4. Visit 3 other blogs, comment, and follow them along!
5. Tweet about this blog hop, using #letsbefriends
6. Pin the button on pinterest so we can spread the news!
 Let’s Be Friends


***Once a week, one blog will be chosen to be the featured blogger from the previous blog hop.
Meet your hosts:

The Dwelling Tree: Blog, Bloglovin'

Southern Beauty Guide: Blog, Bloglovin'
Meet this week's co-hosts:
PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage2
Christine @ Christine Everyday
Rachel @ Life as Rachel
Lindsay @ The Flynnigans

Thank you all once again for continually linking up at our blog hop. It is such a fun time and I am so impressed each week with all the amazing posts. Please continue to link up an actual post instead of your blog. We want to keep reading your content and it makes it more fun to pick a winner!
Is there anything we can do differently or better? Please share in the comments!

12.28.2015

5 Things to Remember when Planning Your at Home NYE

When Kevin was still with Stache New Years Eve was always a big deal. They would be playing at one of the big hotels in the Loop, myself and all the ladies would get super dolled up then rock out till we couldn't stand up. It was always a lot of fun but now that I'm a little bit older, prefer to be chill more and trying to save money those expensive, crazy NYE out just don't cut it for us anymore.

Even though we stay at home that doesn't mean we're just falling in front of the TV at 8pm. It's the perfect evening to do something special.

1. Make a night of it. I'm a big fan of going for a full on theme. For our NYE this year I think we're going to go for game night. We bought a somewhat (or extremely if you ask Kevin) hard puzzle at Disney that we haven't even opened yet. Usually for game nights we tend to have lots of wonderful munchies so I think that's what we're going to do this year.

Last year mom and I had a fancier fondue NYE. I find that making a night of it and planning out a theme to the night makes it a little more special and you won't feel like you're lame or missed out on something by staying in. 


2. Have somewhat of a plan. So you've picked out your theme for your last night of 2015 now it's time to get down to specifics. I feel like lately all my tips include having a plan but I've come to realize that it is important!! If you don't plan out what you want to eat, especially if you're following my next tip, you could end up spending way more than you have to. Which we all know I don't want.

Not much a of a cook? Planning ahead is also important for you too! Say you want to grab take out or have something delivered from your favorite restaurant you bet your bottom dollar you better check ahead of time to make sure that they're open on NYE!

If you don't plan out what movie you want to watch you might not have time to get it from Netflix or rent it from the library. Maybe you want to borrow a game from your sister and you didn't plan ahead to ask and now they want to use it NYE since they read this post and decided on a fabulous night in.


3. Splurge. NYE seems to be one of those nights each year that people like to splurge and go all out. Have you seen what some of the ticketed events cost? Downtown Chicago where our friends are playing tickets start at about $135 and just go up from there. Why shouldn't you splurge a tad on your at home night?

Exactly you should! Watch the sales fliers and get lobster tails and steak for dinner early so you won't be paying an arm and a leg but will still indulge. Don't go for the $100 bottle of champagne but keep an eye out for deals on the more mid range ones. Or if you just want a special bubbly and aren't a big wine/champagne drinker (like myself!) go for a low range sparkling wine.


4. Take it up a notch. Just because you're staying in doesn't mean you have to get into your pajamas at 6 and put the hair up in a ponytail. Maybe you and your guy wear nice outfits for your nice night in. Or if you just want to veg out break out your nice pajamas that you don't wear often because you have your comfy stand by.

Go crazy and get some dollar store NYE celebration items as well. Get some crowns and a couple noise makers to ring in 2016. Yeah it seems silly to spend money on something like that but this will take your night in to an actual celebration.


5. Relax & have fun! Whenever I try and do something special I always put pressure on myself to make it awesome and perfect, even when it's a night at home. I just have to tell myself that Kevin and I will have fun and enjoy our time together no matter how good or bad things go.

What are your tips for a fun NYE at home?

12.25.2015

Merry Christmas!!!


Merry Christmas everyone!!!

12.16.2015

8 Christmas Movies To Watch On Netflix

When winter hits here in Chicago I go into hibernation mode! This usually means cuddling on the couch enjoying movies with Kevin. While the weather has been unseasonably nice so far this winter it doesn't mean we haven't gone into hibernation mode. I've been inundating our movie nights with Christmas movies. Kevin doesn't seem to be a fan of some but I love Netflix for having a Christmas movie for everyone!



Christmas Bounty
Probably one of the more ridiculous Christmas movies out there! She's a secret bounty hunter whose biggest collar is out and wants revenge. Trying to put him back in jail along with saving her family, dopey fiance and dealing with the sparks from her ex boyfriend this silly Christmas movie a fun one for a night in. 



Christmas Cupid
Chad Michael Murray ... I mean really do I need to say anything more? It's fantastic.


I'll Be Home for Christmas
I remember when this one came out! Such a good full on Christmas comedy. JTT is in his element and you are just rooting for him the entire movie.


Christmas Kiss
Stereotypical Boy meets girl in elevator in "mask". Boy kisses girl. Girl turns out to be his girlfriend's assistant but he doesn't recognize her even though she wasn't really wearing that great of a mask. Girlfriend turns out to be a big bi***h aaaaand I think we can all figure out the rest? It's so predictable yet I still love it.

12 Dates of Christmas
This might be one of my favorite ABC Family Christmas movies. I've probably seen it a dozen times now. It's got a Christmas and Groundhogs Day (the movie) thing going on and I totally dig it. Plus it doesn't hurt that Mark Paul Gosselaar is not only a dreamboat but is also sweet and caring. It takes Amy Smart's character a while to get it together but she figures it out eventually and everything has a lovely fairy tale ending.


White Christmas
Need a little classical Christmas in your life? White Christmas has you written all over it. If you're hanging out with Grandma reminiscing about what Christmas was like back in her day this is the perfect flick.


Nightmare Before Christmas 
Not a typical Christmas person? Need a little fright in your Christmas? Disney and Netflix have you covered.


Fireplace for Your Home
This is probably the best thing I've ever found on Netflix. For us, living in an apartment we miss out on the Christmas in front of the roaring fire. Now thanks to Netflix we don't have to feel left out! It's not just one but three episodes of a crackling fire with Christmas music. As if this couldn't be any better Netflix made the above trailer!

To get you in the Christmas spirit Netflix has you covered! What's your favorite Christmas movie to chill at home and watch?

12.14.2015

4 Apps to Earn Giftcards

I have not received compensation for this post. If you use my link to register I will get some points though! All opinions are my own.

Since getting a smart phone a few years ago I've really embraced using apps to their fullest extent. This has included using them to earn gift cards and other rewards!! I've found that using apps are a great way to earn a little extra dough or another reward you've been eyeing without a lot of work.

Swagbucks
I know you've seen me mention Swagbucks in the past so I won't chat too much about it. Swagbucks is by far where I have earned the most amount of gift cards and I'm definitely the most actively using. Pretty sure I've earned over $500 since starting.

There is also a special promotion going on right now, I posted about it earlier today.

ReceiptPal
This app is one that I found through another blogger maybe like a year ago now. You have a set number of receipts you can load each week and for every 4 receipts you get 100 points and then any more you can load for entries in the weekly sweepstakes. It's taken quite a while but I'm almost to a $100 Amazon gift card. One con is that the receipts can only be from the current month and it does take a while to accumulate points but for only taking like 5 minutes each week to take pictures of receipts before I pitch them it's totally worth it.

Shopkick
My friend Becky turned me on to Shopkick recently and I've been enjoying it so far. Their set up is almost like a game where at certain stores you can scan items for points as well as getting points just for going in to a store. There may have been a couple times where I sent Kevin on a mission to scan items while I grocery shopped. So far I haven't redeemed my kicks (points) for anything, I chose to save up my kicks for a Kitchen Aid mixer but there are gift cards and other prizes too. Again this is another simple one that you can tack on to shopping you already do. I mean come on you're already going to be in Target why not get some points while you're at it!

National Consumer Panel
I don't actually earn gift cards through NCP, they have a rewards catalog where you can earn different prizes. When I started they didn't have the app you had to apply but it seems that you might just be able to sign up. You track your spending during the week and get points for transmitting your shopping trips. They also have surveys they invite you to complete for points as well. Right now I'm saving up my points for a Kitchen Aid or a Michael Kors watch ... we shall see which I go for!


Swagbucks Santa's Lil' Helper Challenge

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Swagbucks. I have not received any compensation for this post, but I may receive Swagbucks if you use my affiliate link.**

The holidays are a time to celebrate but they are also a time of giving. There are so many people that don’t have the privilege of a holiday experience they justly deserve, whether it be gifts or a hearty meal. While we celebrate with our family and friends it is important to reflect on all the blessings that have been bestowed on us and remember that we have a duty to help others. That’s why Swagbucks is humbly asking all of you to be Santa’s Lil Helpers this holiday season in their newest Team Challenge! 

For the first time ever Swagbucks will allow us to donate your Team Challenge bonuses to a charity of our choice!

The season of giving begins Monday, December 14th at 8am PT/12pm ET so get in a giving mood. The Team Challenge ends Friday, December 18th at 12pm PT/3pm ET but you are encouraged to stay in the holiday spirit through New Years of course!

All members who participate and contribute at least 200 points to their team’s total will be receive a SB bonus. Members of the 1st place team will receive a 40 SB bonus, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 20 SB bonus!

On Monday, December 21st you’ll receive an Inbox message asking if you want to donate your Team Challenge Bonus to a charity of your choice. If you accept, we will donate your bonus, in your name, to your charity!

If you are new to the Swagbucks world, make sure to create your free account here. Once you do, you will be able to join the Team Challenge right away and start getting paid for doing your everyday online tasks. 
'Tis the season to get Swagging and do some good, so lets have some fun and spread the joy!

12.11.2015

Happy Birthday Mom!!



Wishing Happy Birthday to the best woman in my life! I love you so much Mom!!

12.08.2015

Windows at Macy's on State Street

This weekend Kevin and I made our now yearly trip to the Christkindlmarket with our families. Usually we just hang out at the market the entire but because of the amazing weather today everyone and their mother was out! We decided to head a block east and check out the Macy's on State Street Christmas windows.

This years theme was "Santa's Journey to the Stars," and traces the adventures of Alex, a boy who receives a magical telescope that enables him to experience the wonder of Christmas on other planets before landing back on Earth at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There was also a couple of random Peanuts windows. Not gonna lie, I love Peanuts so those were definitely my favorite windows but the other ones were fantastic as well.

Between the huge groups of people and the crazy amount of reflection on the windows my photos weren't quite as good as I wanted. Might have almost tripped over a little kid to get one of the photos ... whoops!


























12.03.2015

Christmas Songs I Despise

Forever ago I shared a couple of my favorite Christmas songs well this week we're going to the opposite end of the spectrum!  Cause while you love some songs there are some that you just despise.  I haven't gotten a chance to talk about this artist yet but Weird Al takes the cake for my top two songs that I just really do not like.    

If you haven't heard of Weird Al before seriously go check him out he's hilarious!  He is a parody artist or a comedic musician.  He will take songs and change the words to hilariousness, he doesn't just do parodies he also does original humorous songs.  A couple of my favorites of his are actually some of his originals.

Even though I am a huge fan of him and his songs I just can't stand the Christmas ones!!



"Christmas at Ground Zero" would definitely be my choice of the two.  The premise of the song is during the Cold War when everyone though nuclear catastrophe could happen at any time and Weird Al then goes into a little more detail about when it does happen.  The song is catchy and upbeat so I will give him that but overall not his best work.

***Disclaimer: If you're not a fan of violence & violent subject matter you probably shouldn't watch the video***


"The Night Santa Went Crazy" is definitely my choice for worse Christmas song!  I've just never been a fan of gratuitous violence and this song has it.  Part of the reason I despise it is that no one wants to think of Santa going cray cray with a German lugger, we just don't.  I personally prefer him with gifts of clothes and shoes not bullets and leftover reindeer meat.  All I can think of when he talks about the reindeer is cute little Rudolph in the old stop motion classic, so sad.    

While there are quite a few terrible Christmas songs *cough cough Twisted Sister cough* Weird Al you take the cake on having the two I despise the most!!  

12.01.2015

Gifts For Your Disney Fanatic

With Christmas right around the corner I'm sure a lot of people have waited until the last minute. It's easy to find toys for the Disney kid fanatic in your life but sometimes it can be tough finding a nice present for the adult fanatic. I've pulled together a few ideas for the adult Disney fanatic would love to receive this year!


Magic Kingdom Map Appetizer Serving Set

This fun and colorful serving set is perfect for adding a fun touch of Disney to any party. Plus the versatile style allows you to use it for serving all sorts of food from multiple dips to candy to nuts.
Mickey Mouse Buttons Crossbody Bag by Dooney & Bourke
For a big splurge look no further than the Disney Dooney and Bourke line. An online or in parks only item these bags range from wallets to totes in a ton of different styles and prints. I'm a fan of this button print because it combines all the different characters, the main guys, princesses and everyone in between! If you're looking for something a bit subtler check out the sketched leather pieces. They still have the mouse shapes but since it's all one color it's not so in your face Disney.

Sleeping Beauty Print by InkistPrints
Etsy is probably the next best place to find amazing Disney gifts! The prints from InkistPrints are amazing. I love the watercolor look of them all. Not only can you find a TON of Disney prints they have city maps and vintage poster prints.

Disney Princess Inspired Wine Charms by BAWCreations1
Wine charms can be a nice small way to share your Disney side. We don't drink wine at our house but I totally use our champagne glasses for my orange juice and I know they could use some extra bling.

Disney Family Treats Tote – Mickey - Christmas 2015
Haven't been to a Disney Park in a while? Need to get your fix of Disney treats? Check out Disney Floral and Gifts. They have wonderful gift baskets bursting with Disney treats, both edible and non-edible. Some of the packages can get pretty pricey quickly but if you're getting it as a family gift and plan on sharing then it would be worth the splurge.

Disney Collection at Pandora
My Pandora bracelet is my favorite piece of jewelry these days. Since the Disney collection has come out my bracelet has almost become an entirely Disney one. Not only have they come out with beautiful charms but there are rings and earrings as well.

During our October trip to Disney World we found out about a new app Disney released. The Shop Disney Parks app. Not only was it amazing to search for items while we were on property it has the very handy function of being able to order at any time aka you can buy your Disney souvenirs any time and any place. Theoretically you wouldn't have to set foot in Disney World ever again but who would be crazy enough to do that!

Now that I've got you covered for my Christmas gifts ... I mean the Disney fanatic in your life get on that Christmas shopping!!