H.O.L.I.D.A.Y: An Acronym to Help You be More Thankful

A few weeks before finals, my mom asked me to send her my Christmas list, for which I laughably responded, “How about some financial stability?” She laughed too, but told me I seriously needed to give her and my dad some ideas for what to get me this year. This made me remember being a kid and writing a 5-page list with every toy, craft kit and weird contraption possible; each being something I, “absolutely needed!!!” Now, I sat there as a dumbfounded adult, not quite sure what I really could need. I ended up writing some ideas down, but nothing stuck out to me in the way little Hannah would have been excitedly scrawling in marker and glitter on her Dear Santa letter. 

This feeling got me thinking during my first few days back home for Winter Break. I started to reflect on how much my parents have given to me and my younger sisters over the years, despite not always deserving it. Like most other parents, they love us so immensely that even though we have definitely misbehaved and let them down in the past, they continue to give everything they can to us. With the exception of doing chores and aiming for good grades, they never expect anything in return. 

Realizing this fact throughout my years being a college student has made me feel so much more grateful for everything I already have; all the things not on that Christmas list. How can I express this gratitude though? I mean, you can’t always say, “Thank You!” and expect the person to truly understand how appreciative you are.  

So, I decided to make an acronym for showing and/or giving more gratitude to the people in your life: H.O.L.I.D.A.Y! In each conversation or situation with another person you find yourself in this holiday season, think, “How am I giving or showing {fill in the blank} in this moment?”

H: Help

How am I giving or showing help in this moment? 

If you’re sitting on your butt and notice your mom needs help cleaning, or your dad needs help cooking, jump in and lend a hand. If it’s not physical help, maybe it’s emotional by being there for someone who needs a friend to talk to. Actively think about how you are giving back to everyone who has given to you.

O: Optimism

How am I giving or showing optimism in this moment? 

Sometimes when around big groups of friends or family during the Holidays, we can become really negative and not realize it. People may try to be humorous when they feel uncomfortable or awkward, and end up poking fun at another’s expense. Little do we realize, we actually can hurt someone’s feelings a lot. That’s definitely not a way to show gratitude, so instead, think about how you are staying positive during conversation. Even if other people are being negative or maybe making a joke about you, still aim to be a better person by focusing on spreading kindness. 

L: Love

How am I giving or showing love in this moment?

Love is something we all appreciate during the holidays, but not everyone we encounter might be receiving it like we have. Try to reach out to those who you’ve lost touch with. Give to someone who is cold out on the streets. Volunteer somewhere that needs an extra hand. Tell your parents how much they mean to you. Send a heartfelt card to a dear friend. Pay for the car behind you at a drive-thru. It could be anything! Just do something to show you are trying to give back that love that you’ve gained over the years.

I: Interest

How am I giving or showing interest in this moment?

It’s easy for us to sometimes stop paying attention to someone or a situation and “check out”. We play on our phones, we think about all of our to-dos, and we don’t give that person or moment our time of day. Instead, try to think about contributing at least one though-provoking comment or expression of interest to this other person or situation. It could be something like, “Wow! I have never thought about it that way!” or “Interesting…How do you think this connects to me as a college-student?” (etc.). Even just nodding along and showing non-verbal cues is a way to show your interest and respect to the other person speaking. 

D: Demeanor

How am I giving or showing my demeanor in this moment?

This is another important one in my book. Especially around the Holidays when you are receiving presents and gifts, demeanor plays a HUGE role in expressing your gratitude for others. Yes, sometimes we get not-so-great gifts, but you don’t need to be the Grinch about it! Be thankful someone thought about you and spent their time and/or money putting something special together. There’s no worse feeling than giving to someone being so excited for them to open it for them to react negatively or show extreme dislike/disinterest in it. That feeling SUCKS, and I know because I have felt it before! Don’t do that to someone this season, so actively think about how you are reacting to opening a card or gift. You should aim to show genuine gratitude no matter what it is!

A: Appreciation

How am I giving or showing my appreciation in this moment?

This seems simple, but we don’t actively think about it moment-to-moment. What are you actually saying to people when you thank them? Think about other ways to say “thank you” by adding more meaning and personalization. Instead, say things like, “Mom, I really appreciate when you do {insert action here} for me. It means a lot and makes a difference for me day-to-day. I love you!” Change it how you like based on the person and situation. 

Y: Yourself

How am I giving or showing myself in this moment? 

This is the very last thing to consider in the HOLIDAY acronym, and personally, I think it’s the most important. Recently, I watched this video online that made me take a step back. It’s definitely worth the watch. We sometimes get so caught up in ourselves that we forget about everyone else. We think the world revolves around “me me me” and thus end up acting that way. Try to think about how you can behave more selflessly each and every day. 

That’s all you need to use this H.O.L.I.D.A.Y acronym this year. Give it a try and let me know what you think. It sure has made a difference for me, maybe it will for you. 🙂

Happy Holidays!!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/21/2017


What do I do now? A post-finals question we’re all wondering

YOU DID IT!! You worked so hard for so long and now you can finally sigh that breath of relief. Ahhhhhhhhhh. It feels like a piping hot kettle releasing all of its built-up steam. Instant gratification. You might look around for a second and smile, finally getting to relax. But then…this itchy, questionable feeling may spread through you saying…what the heck do I do now?! 

We go and go and go all semester long until we all reach our final destination of winter break, only to then be stumped on this irritable feeling of “too” much leisure time. Yes, that sounds ridiculous, of course college students LOVE our free time!! However, when you’re accustomed to doing so much for so long, you can start to feel antsy by the thought of three weeks of doing nothing. It feels “off”.

So…what do you do? Whether you’re going home for the holidays or clocking in a few extra work hours here and there, there are plenty of things you can accomplish over winter break. Here are some of my latest ideas for ultimate productivity:

reading winter

  • Read that Book
    • *cough*cough*, the one you’ve wanted to read for forever but haven’t given yourself any time to do so. May sound boring but will improve your ability to concentrate on something for an extended period of time.
  • Send Personalized Holiday Cards
    • Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just a simple Season’s Greetings, handwriting cards to those who are important to you during this time of the year can make a huge impact. Thank them for all they have done for you in 2017 and how much it means to you.


  • Try Out a New Recipe
    • We’ve all seen those delicious food videos plastering Facebook from time to time and tagging our friends in them…why not actually make the dang thing?! Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Holiday “thing”, you name it….just try one out!
  • Reflect on Your Year
    • How did 2017 go for you? What did you like about it? What could you have changed? How do you want 2018 to be different? Brain dump it all on paper and see what inspiration you can draw from there to create some new goals for yourself.


  • Volunteer Somewhere with an Old Friend
    • Sometimes we get in the habit of not meeting up with old friends over break., and if we do it can be dull conversation over coffee. Why not make your time with them meaningful by volunteering somewhere together? There are hundreds of ways to give back during the holidays, so here’s your chance!
  • “New Year” Cleaning
    • Take time to sort through all your “stuff”. What’s valuable to you? What is junk? What can get donated? What can get sold? Organize and divide things up to start the year off fresh and finally toss things that are taking up too much space in your life.

Dance Ur Ash Off

  • Try a New Workout Class
    • Okay, I’m a little biased here of course as a Group Fit instructor, but SERIOUSLY this can be so much fun! Practically everywhere you go there’s some sort of gym or fitness studio that offers new client deals like free first classes, free weeks, or discounted trials. You don’t need to commit yourself to a membership anywhere! Plus, if you drag along a family member or friend, it can turn out to be a really great way to bond.
  • Treat Yourself to Something
    • ANYTHING! What’s something you have wanted to do for forever but never had the opportunity or time to? Here’s your chance to indulge a little bit. It could be a massage, pedicure, haircut, shopping trip…whatever! You deserve some you-time.
  • *Lightly* Prepare for Next Semester
    • I do mean lightly when I say this. It’s not time to frantically stress over the next classes you have to take, it’s about organizing the things you need to get or accomplish before heading back to school. Slowly start to gather new pencils and stationary and decide where you’re going to get your books. Little things like this can help you start off next semester strong and less worried.

If this list doesn’t include at least one thing that interests you, make your own! Jot down some ideas that you think may fill up your time over break in a positive and productive manner. Everyone is different, so finding your own niche can help you thoroughly enjoy your time.

Again, happy end of Finals!!!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/16/2017



10 Totally Awesome Things to Do in Duluth this Summer

Happy Sunday everyone!

Yesterday I took an amazing trip up the North Shore with a good friend of mine and visited some really cool places. Experiencing the Duluth area during the summer is quite the treat in comparison to the frigid months I have spent here during the school year. There are so many places to see and a wide variety of things to do to keep you entertained all summer long. Can you believe it’s already July too?! That means there’s only about two months left to soak in all the sweet sunshine before fall decorations start popping up at Target. So what all can you do to take advantage of Duluth’s summer? Here’s an extensive list I’ve compiled from personal experience and some local friends:

1. Hartley Nature Center

Located just outside of campus down Woodland avenue, this park is a gorgeous area to take a walk, ride your bike, snap some pictures and learn more about the environment. Hartley’s website says,

“Hartley Nature Center is an independent, non-profit, environmental education organization located in the beautiful 660-acre Hartley Park in Duluth, Minnesota.  We operate solely on program fees, memberships, sponsorships, grants and private donations from people like you.”

My friend Kadoh says she loves spending her time in Hartley Park

You can find out more about Hartley park through some of there social media accounts, as listed below:

2. Rollerblading on Canal Park’s Boardwalk

My friend Orianna says this is one of her favorite summer pastimes! If I actually had skills in coordination and balance, I’d definitely join her. If rollerblading isn’t your forte (like me) you can bring out the bike, a long board, or even rent one of these human-powered surrey with your friends! Wheels of Fun is the place to go if you want to check one of these hilarious contraptions.


3. Venturing around the Shoreline

With the largest Great Lake in North America being perched right there, it’s no shock that this is on the list. Lake Superior has over 1,700 miles of shoreline wrapping all the way around it, with the majority touching Minnesota. That gives you a ton of places to explore that touch its waters. You can grab a suit, a towel, and a good book and find yourself any spot along the north shore to enjoy some sunshine.

My friend Haley at one of the shorelines near Gooseberry Falls


4. Spirit Mountain Summer Adventure Park

Spirit Mountain isn’t just for skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, there’s an awesome adventure park that includes zip-lining, scenic chair lifts, a giant jumping pillow, mini golf, disc golf, and best of all a 3200 foot elevated track alpine coaster called the Timber Twister. For more information about Spirit Mountain’s summer fun, check out their website here.


5. Congdon Park

Another great park option in the area is Congdon park. Tischer Creek flows through the park’s billion-year-old red volcanic rock foundation and winds through an abundance of cedar and pine trees. A hanging waterfall is also located within this park, perfect for finding some soothing peace and quiet away from the bustling city and neighborhoods.

My friend Dagan enjoying Congdon’s all-season beauty

6. Jay Cooke State Park

Located only about 30 minutes south of Duluth, this state park is by far one of the best I have visited. It has one of the most spectacular views in Minnesota, with a swinging suspension bridge where you can watch the raging St. Louis river going by underneath you. It has many trails to take as well as options for camping if you’re looking for a new spot to pitch your tent. Before you get to Duluth, take a pit stop here to soak in some summer beauty!

Blogtographer Kate and I on a “Yike” (yoga hike) last fall at Jay Cooke


7. Park Point Beach

If you didn’t know this already, Duluth has a sandy beach right down in the Canal Park area where you can go and hang out for the day. There’s even a lifeguard supervised area and beach house you can rent for events through the Duluth YMCA! With 7 miles or so of sand, there’s bound to be a spot for you to layout by the lake.


8. Hammock & Jam Out in Chester Park

I recently did this when it was nice and sunny outside, and boy was it relaxing. Rent or bring your own hammock and set it up between two of the many trees Chester Park has right by its quiet creek. Also, Chester Park puts on summer concerts every Tuesday night FREE for the public. Nothing beats some local music surrounded by nature.


9. Stand-Up Paddleboard on the Lake

Try something new and challenging by renting out a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) and taking it for a spin on Lake Superior. North Shore SUP offers rentals, classes, guided trips and more when it comes to trying out SUPs on the lake. You can check them out here for more information.


10. Gooseberry Falls

Another state park you can take a peek at this summer is Gooseberry Falls. It offers a gorgeously spectacular view at no cost to the public. Stop here after you’ve at lunch at Betty’s Pies to walk around and listen to the rushing waterfalls.

My friend Mara and I at Gooseberry Falls yesterday during our North Shore adventure

Hope you pick somewhere new to explore this summer while you’re in Duluth!



Written by Hannah Garrett on 6/25/2017

Snapshot Sunday: Duluth Coffee Company

Welcome back to a new year of Snapshot Sundays from Kate and I!! We are excited to show you all more of what we got. This semester, we have decided to focus on surrounding Duluth businesses and places to go nearby that offer secret study spots or a get-away from school. If you have any recommendations of places to do a Snapshot Sunday post on, please shoot us an email by clicking on the contact tab on the blog. We’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions!

Today, we are visiting Duluth Coffee Company, a well known coffee shop in the downtown area. Kate took some amazing photos and has a quick snippet about it for you all to digest:

Destination: Duluth Coffee Company, 105 E Superior Street

Everyone loves a good cup of coffee, whether it be in the morning, middle of the day, or late at night. I myself am an avid coffee drinker and love finding hole-in-the wall coffee shops every chance I get. Being a barista, I have high expectations for a good latte, cold press or plain dark roast (of course cut with a little cream and sugar).

Not everyone is a coffee drinker and most go through a slight panic when walking into a coffee shop having endless options on what to pick. For those of you who aren’t coffee drinkers, don’t worry, they offer a great selection of herbal teas and some pretty amazing Duluth Coffee Company merchandise.  So when you decide to visit the Duluth Coffee Company, down on Superior Street, here is what to expect.


Duluth Coffee Company started their wholesale bean roasting in 2011, and added the coffee boutique in 2012. Eric Faust, the owner and roaster of the coffee company, has worked hard in providing the greatest quality coffee by hand-selecting certain types of beans. He has traveled around the world visiting select roasteries that meet his vision of quality coffee. The Duluth Coffee states, “Coffee is our passion and roasting our craft. We strive to provide our wholesale customers and clients with the best quality product possible”.


So whether you want to stop into the site location for a business meeting, friendly get together, or to hunker down for some exams, Duluth Coffee Company is your place. The warm and welcoming atmosphere is what makes this place a 10/10. If you don’t have time to enjoy a cup of coffee at the site location ,you can always stop in quick and grab some beans to grind and brew at home. The Coffee Company is open daily from 6:30AM-7:00PM, so don’t hesitate on stopping by.

-Kate Shelley (AKA coffee fanatic) 

Continue reading Snapshot Sunday: Duluth Coffee Company

Snapshot Sunday: Palisade Head

This Snapshot Sunday is about Palisade Head in Beaver Bay, MN. Kate spent one of the last mysteriously sunny fall days there taking some amazing pics. Duluth has had a surprisingly warm autumn this year, and she was able to capture its final breath at Palisade Head. Here’s what she had to say about her trip up there:

Destination: Palisade Head Beaver Bay, MN 

Palisade Head is large rock formation along the magnificent North Shore. Being part of the Tettegouche State Park, Palisade Head, is about one hour out of Duluth. It is definitely a little haul up the shore, but the view is incredible. The sight allows you to see EVERYTHING, and that is no exaggeration. When arriving at Palisade, you will drive up a steep hill and park at your lookout view.


This trail lets you walk around along the cliff. If you are scared of heights, you might not want to get too close to the edge. It is the perfect destination for a small hike, as well as a North Shore view. You will definitely get the best of both worlds if you venture Palisade.

-Kate Shelley

Now that winter is finally settling in here on the Superior basin, Palisade may be covered in a light dusting of snow. Don’t worry though, it’ll still be a spectacular view and worth seeing before heading home for the holidays. Make sure to keep checking out the Discover Duluth page featuring more of Kate’s amazing pictures in the surrounding Duluth area.

Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/4/2016


Parents’ Blog: The Best Finals Care Package EVER!!

Finals week is coming up at UMD from December 12th to the 16th. From going through two collegiate finals weeks already, I’ve compiled a list of “stuff” that us students would really appreciate in a care package. Sending us any sort of mail is one of the nicest gestures, especially when the extreme STRESS of the semester starts to sink in. Everyone wants great grades, but finals week can be full of the fear that we’ll fail. To help us out with these negative feelings, here’s the BEST finals care package EVER that you can send to your college student:


Homemade goodies

cookiesTalk about YUM! We love the feeling of homemade cookies, brownies, and whatever else we’re used to chowing down on for a sweet treat.

A little bit of spending money

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone – and trust me, we don’t realize we need money until the end of the semester when we suddenly need to use it.

A pack of fun pencils

We’re always in need of pencils. This is a must-need for all of our tests during the last week here!

A gift card to our favorite place to eat

You will be a SAINT if you send a Tavern on the Hill or Chipotle gift card. A gift card to somewhere we love to eat would make us unbelievably happy and have a moment to relax for once.

K-cups, coffee, tea or caffeinated chocolate (that’s a thing) – We’re gonna need it

If we consume any sort of caffeine, SEND IT OUR WAY! We will be staying up later than usual trying to cram every last detail of what we’ve learned into our heads and will be quite sleepy.

Warm, cozy sockssocks

These might seem odd, but college kids ALWAYS want socks since they seem to constantly disappear. Giving us some soft, warm ones will make us feel a lot more “comfy” in our time of stressing out.

Snacks to munch on

We will forget to eat consistently during the week before and of finals week. Sending us some semi-nutritious/semi-delicious snacks will give us the fuel needed for brain power.

Relaxing coloring books for adults (don’t search “adult coloring books”, you may not like what pops up in your browser)


My mom sent one to me last year in a finals care package and it was one of the most calming things I did when needing a break from studying. Coloring helps you focus on practically nothing but filling in different shapes, and it lets your mind take a rest from so much cognitive functioning.

Something that reminds us of home

It could be our favorite blanket, a soft sweatshirt or even a picture of the family. This will definitely make us feel a little better!

A handwritten note with words of encouragement

words-of-encLast but not least – words of encouragement. Writing a nice little note telling us that “We can do it!” really sticks with us. When you believe in us, we feel able to take on anything that come our way during finals.


Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/30/2016


5 Things You Shouldn’t Do on The First Day of Snowfall

Oh the weather outside is seriously frightful. If you haven’t looked out the window yet, it’s a cold, dark and wet day here besides Lake Superior. It’s been lightly raining since last night, and it’s projected to continue all day. It may or may not snow until tonight, but be prepared for the start of winter relatively soon. With that being said, we all know that the first snow always comes with a lot of dos and don’ts. Here’s my top five don’ts to emphasize before Jack Frost decides to creep in on us:

1. DON’T Go Out in Shorts


We all know you’re cool and “aren’t that cold”, but c’mon. Your mom would want you bundled up, so always leave the house with the winter essentials: Jacket, hat, mittens, boots and a scarf. You never know if you’ll get stuck outside, so be prepared for it!

2. DON’T Drive like Ricky Bobby


Yeah, I definitely understand you’re a NASCAR driver but it’s important to use extra caution on the roads after the first snowfall. Especially if the rain freezes over night, the roads will be extra slick and chances of you not being able to stop in time are high if you drive too fast. Go slow and give yourself plenty of room from the vehicles in front of you, especially when putting around Duluth’s steep hills.

3. DON’T Leave Your Shovel in the Shed


Get on top of things now and shovel your driveway, sidewalk, and front steps. You may not think it’s much right away, but overnight snow can quickly accumulate. Remember to salt your walkways too so that you don’t slip and fall on unseen ice patches.If you want to be extra nice, offer to help your older neighbors with their driveways too.

4. DON’T Forget Your Ice Scraper at Home


If you’re driving to school, DO NOT FORGET YOUR ICE SCRAPER! This is so important when you’re spending all day at school while a snowstorm carries on outside. You might come to campus and see light flakes falling, and then wonder where your car is under the mountains of snow when you leave. You need to have this handy tool with you at all times.

5. DON’T build a Snowman…oh wait this is definitely a DO


Obviously we want everyone to use caution during the “first day” of winter to ensure people’s safety, but remember to have fun! Take advantage of the weekend snowfall with friends and build snowmen! Have a snowball fight, make snow angels, catch snowflakes on your tongue – you’re in Minnesota for crying out loud! Just try not to get your tongue stuck to a pole.


With that, have a safe and snowy weekend everyone!


Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/18/2016



Snapshot Sunday: Bean Lake

Good evening and happy Sunday everyone! Today’s post is the very FIRST about Kate Shelley’s Snapshot Sunday series. She will be sending me a few key photos from a weekly adventure around campus and the city and a short snippet about them. Here is an excerpt from her Snapshot Sunday Report:


Destination: Bean Lake, Silver Bay MN 

Bean Lake, a secret lake tucked down in a quiet valley, is located along the beautiful Superior hiking trail. The Superior hiking trail is over 300 miles of hiking and ATV trails, starting in south Duluth and making its way up to the Canadian border. 
To get to the overlook of Bean lake it is roughly 3 miles each way (totaling 6+ miles). The trail winds up and down multiple hills, which definitely feel like mountains. The hike to get to the Bean Lake is exactly what it sounds like — a hike. It may be a trek, but the view is a 10/10. I promise you it will leave you breathless.

From where I parked all the way to Bean lake, it took about 3-4 hours, giving me enough time to explore the lookout area. If you go, I highly recommend wearing hiking boots, bring WATER, and of course a camera to capture the view. Just know that pictures will never do it justice to how beautiful it truly is.

Make sure to check out the “Discover Duluth” tab on the blog that will feature some of Kate’s best work from the Duluth area. From UMD’s campus, to secret downtown pizza stops, to unknown nature adventure nooks, she’ll have it all for you.

Let’s make this week a great one!

Written by Hannah Garrett on 11/13/2016