Building a Wall Tree for the Holidays

I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving last week, I celebrated with the Chicago Spirit Brigade by marching the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, similar to Macy’s but much smaller!   If you aren’t like me and didn’t start Christmas the day after Halloween… then Thanksgiving might begin your official holiday season so I wanted to share some of my holiday decorating/gift giving tips!

This week I wanted to focus on the big one… the tree.  If you happen to live in a smaller space, or just want to put more than one tree (hello self) today’s post is perfect for you.  Enter the Wall Tree.


This tree can be crafted to fit into any size, with as many lights as you want, & as detailed or simple as you prefer… because it’s just lights & 3M strips!

This is our second year with a Wall Tree, last year it was in a different location & I think this year’s looks much better.  I swear that 3M actually had a website last year with detailed instructions.. but I can’t seem to find it this year however it’s VERY simple to create yourself!


  • 3M (or any brand hooks) – I just say 3M because I know they won’t damage the walls.
  • 1 String of Lights
  • 1 Matching Length of Garland (if you want the diffused light you see in my photo, you could also just do lights)
  • 1 Topper – This year we found a paper star at Target which works great!  Last year we had a moose head decorated with lights!


The first thing you need to do is decide how many points you want down each side as well as how tall/wide.  Once you have that figured I would recommend using sticky notes to mark the spots you plan to hang each hook that way you can make sure it looks like the tree will be wide enough, tall enough, & generally look like a  tree!  Once you figure out where to place the hooks step back & determine if it looks ok, then place your hooks & allow them time to set (3M recommends 30 minutes usually).  The final step is to string the lights up, I do recommend going for a tighter line but that’s just my preference.  If you want to add the garland or some bulbs just make sure they are light enough for your hooks!

Finally sit back & a cup of hot cocoa & enjoy your new Wall Tree with some Christmas music in the background – my recommendation Kylie Minogue’s new album – Kylie Christmas


What’s your favorite Christmas song?


November 2015 Birchbox Man Review

Like lots of Men Birchbox decided to celebrate Movember with all of it’s subscribers -whether we are beard growers or not.  It was a nice reminder to consider supporting our friends who are participating PLUS it allowed me to try out a product I’d been considering for awhile.


This month’s Birchbox Man featured the following products:

  • Harry’s Truman Razor – The star of the box this month.  Included was a card for 4 additional replacement blades free of charge.
    • I was VERY excited to try this one.. I’m still getting used to it vs other razors (notably Dollar Shave Club). The blades on the Harry’s seem sharper, which is probably good but takes some getting used to.
  • CW Beggs and Son’s, Shower, Shampoo, & Shave
    • I received this product a few months ago.. same feeling as before, it’s an ok product but not one that I’m in a rush to repurchase.
  • DTRT Dear Matt Lotion
    • I wasn’t sure about this after the first application but after using it a few additional times I can honestly say that it does what it implies!  The product did a great job of helping my skin to stay shine-free throughout the day!
  • Parlor by Jeff Chastain  – Moisturizing & Repairing Conditioner
    • Wow.  The scent on Parlor products are amazing & this one delivered it again for me!  I liked the effect it had on my hair.  I can’t really attest to how well it worked.. may hair is pretty short but I think it’s one that I’d recommend.
  • Parlor by Jeff Chastain – Moisturizing and Repairing Shampoo
    • Yum.  Much like the Conditioner, this product delivers an amazing scent & does a pretty good job of delivering upon it’s promises.
  • Cartier Pasha Edition Noire 
    • As much as I love getting cologne samples.. I’ll be honest I never got around to using this one.  I did a good deal of traveling & the bottle wasn’t travel friendly so it sat in my bathroom most of the month.  In limited doses I enjoyed it but can’t attest to all day wear.

Overall the Movember Birchbox Man deliver was a pretty strong one, few brands I knew I liked, one I wanted to try, and of course discovering new products like always.

Interested in getting your own Birchbox?  Check out this link

In December I’ll be reviewing the final box of the year, PLUS doing a year long review telling you all about the best products from 2015.  I’m considering cancelling Birchbox & trying out some other “of the month” clubs – any recommendations for me?

A Civilized Response to Charlie Sheen’s HIV Announcement

Depending upon when you read this post either there is a rumor that Charlie Sheen will be announcing something related to his HIV status, or Charlie Sheen may have announced that he is HIV Positive on the Today Show.  Like many things in life we have a choice to make, we can respond to this with negativity & humor… or we can decide there is enough of that out in the world right now.

Instead of making light of the fact that someone has a life threatening illness why not choose the path of compassion?  I’ve already seen a few folks on my social media channels sharing negativity surrounding this issue & quite frankly it’s sad.

You don’t make fun of the person who contracted lung cancer from smoking, you don’t find the humor in someone attempting self-harm, so why is this disease any different?

Instead of all the negative things that could be said why not take this time to reflect & educate? If Charlie Sheen does in fact announce he is HIV positive he’s going to be facing some huge obstacles & social stigmas moving forward.

  • While Charlie Sheen might not have trouble paying for his HIV medication plenty of folks do – & it’s getting even harder – Story from the Body
  • The social stigma of being HIV positive is still a problem & people still face discrimination because of their HIV status.
  • Charlie Sheen could face unnecessarily strict HIV criminalization laws because of his status – Criminalization 101

While you may read this and think to yourself, ok but it’s Charlie Sheen not Mother Theresa, I’d encourage you to choose the high road.

5 Quotes about Creativity

Last weekend I was flipping through social media quite mindlessly, like we do, and I kept seeing the cover of a book pop up.  I’m not one to usually jump on a book bandwagon… but something struck me with this book & I was intrigued.

The book in question is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert… and I can’t turn it off – yep I’m listening to the audiobook. If you aren’t already familiar with the book it’s a self-help book designed to help you break through your creative blocks.   I was hooked in just a few chapters, but one has stuck with me.. and it inspired me to share some of my favorite quotes from that chapter.

Have you read Big Magic, if so what chapter stood out for you?  If not.. which of these quotes speaks to you?

An appreciation of the first wintry day.

Yesterday in Chicago, & much of the Midwest, we experienced what I would consider the first true sign that winter is coming.  We’ve had some beautiful fall days, but those are fall & this most recent storm was more winter in nature.  All too often people experience this first day & immediately think of all the negatives associated with winter, they think about how cold they’ll be, the snow, the messy commutes, but we don’t think about the positives… & today I tried to do just that.

I like the first windy cool day because it reminds us that our lives are in a constant state of change.

I like the first bleak grey day because it gives us to chance to choose our mindset.

I like the first wintry day because for me… winter is when I feel alive.

In the summertime we are all expected to be busy, go to this event, spend the weekend outside, & generally keep busy.. because the weather is just so nice!  On the other hand, everyone gives you a pass in the winter.  It’s easy to go weeks without planning a social outing with friends, charity event.. in the snow, and the list goes on.. but doing these things.. making the choice to go outside & face the wind.. That means you really care.

I know that my feelings about winter aren’t felt by everyone, lots view summer as the time they feel alive & winter is just another word for hibernation season… but I encourage you to take the positive mindset, spend a few moments more than necessary outside & try to find the light within this bleak season.

My Denver Love Letter

I’ve got a confession to make… I just had a week-long love affair.. with Denver!

If you’re like me and had never been to The Mile High City you might not understand it, but I’m honestly smitten with the place! I’ve had Denver on my list of places to visit for a while, I’ve heard how beautiful the mountains are, how clean the air is… but it just never made it to the top of the list, until now.

I spent the last week exploring the Denver area, as far south as Colorado Springs and north to Boulder, I got the chance to visit Evergreen and catch a glimpse of some fabulous vintage mountain charm on the way. If you are someone who lives (and loves) in the City Denver is the perfect mix of natural beauty & cosmopolitan life! The entire time I was driving I was astounded by the views of the Mountains! I didn’t realize that you basically have a million dollar view All the time!

The city also has plenty of delicious restaurants & talented mixologists, I was never thirsty in Denver. It’s one thing to enjoy the views from the city… but you really need to live them as well! I would recommend a trip to Red Rocks, like most people, but while you are out there be sure to stop at Dinosaur Ridge. The tour offered at Dinosaur Ridge is both informative and entertaining, PLUS you get to see tracks left by dinosaurs!

Another place I’d recommend is a bit farther out, but worth the drive time! There is a great little town nestled in the mountains named Evergreen.  It’s located in the Bear Creek Canyon – you’ll find restaurants, shops, and plenty of sights to see!

I can’t wait to plan another trip to the 5280, hopefully with a little more time in the mountains!

Where are you planning to visit next?