December 30, 2011

Wise Tidbit

Today has been more than a bit hectic as I am one of the only dedicated (ahem) employees in the office today, but I wanted to take a second to share this little gem of advice:
 “This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.”
Particularly pertinent as this year comes to an end and we begin to think about some resolutions for 2012 (oh god is it that time again already?!).
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be here mourning the fact that my Friday peppermint mocha did not come in a holiday cup today. Dearest Starbucks, the holidays are not yet over. Humph.


December 29, 2011


New Year's Eve is typically a pretty quiet affair around these parts. When I was young, my family sometimes headed out to our local First Night for a few performances and some fireworks, but more often than not we stayed at  home. In the years since Dan and I started to date, we've never gone to big parties or dressed up for a last night out on the town for the year. Generally, we can be found sporting sweats on our couch, watching dear old Dick Clark with sleepy eyes and rousing ourselves for a quick peck at midnight before falling into bed. Not exactly ringing the new year in style... until this year.
Thanks to a welcome infusion of some young blood (ie Dan's youngest brother and his lovely girlfriend), our plans this year include dressing up (gasp) for a nice dinner and then coming back to the apartment for drinks and celebrations. One of Dan's best friends/former roommates will be joining us, and our brand new fondue pot (a Christmas present!) will make its debut. I am determined not to doze off before midnight and to take lots of pictures, because at the rate we are going, the next exciting recurrence of this holiday will be when we are 30-something.
While the rather loud sucking sound I hear each time I check my bank account has assured me that I will not be purchasing a new party dress for the occasion, that hasn't stopped me from looking. Here are some of my favorites:

Classically sparkly, but not over the top. If only my legs were that long and thin...

Simple but easily dressed up with a long necklace and cute heels.

Love this color and cut (although I could do without the bird's nest on the top of her head)

I am definitely a black and white girl: 90% of the dresses I own are one or both. I love the pattern and simple cut of the dress on the far left, and think the sequins and ruffles of the center left dress are really fun. I am absolutely in love with the white dress though -- the full bottom and sash are just adorable. Luckily for my wallet, it was a pinterest find with no way to trace the website... besides, there's no way I could wear it for more than an hour without staining it.

This is a fantastic color and I like that it's a bit longer. Not exactly New Year's Eve specific, but still incredibly pretty. I think I'd need to purchase a skinnier waist to go with it though...

I think this one has to be my favorite -- it's just the right amount of glitz for NYE, but still super classy with a great silhouette. So perfect with a pair of red heels, too.
Unfortunately, I will be shopping through my own closet for Saturday, which sadly houses not one of these great finds. Hopefully I can pull off something that looks dressy enough without freezing all night, although I make no bets on how long I will last before putting on a pair of yoga pants once we get back home to continue the party. Midnight champagne must taste the same in a cozy hoody as a party dress, right?
Now if only I could get our apartment to look like this for the night, we'd be in business:


December 27, 2011

The Christmas Let-Down

There's nothing like the morning after a three day holiday weekend to jolt you back to reality. 6:30 this morning may as well have been 3 AM, as alert as I felt. I'm pretty sure I didn't actually wake up until about halfway through my run, which was luckily on the treadmill this morning -- I swear one of these mornings I'm going to open my eyes and find myself miles away from home. My only consolation this morning is that while it felt like a Monday, it is, of course, Tuesday, and the beginning to a four day week followed by another three day weekend... I could get used to this.
Our weekend consisted of one wonderful date night, two days of pure and utter chaos, and one of incredible laziness that just barely made up for all the sleep previously lost. Santa found our house (thankfully... we have no chimney) and brought me a lovely new laptop, a beautiful snowflake necklace, a gorgeous KitchenAid mixer, and lots of other nice things. I am very lucky to have married such a great shopper who takes Christmas very seriously, from the diamonds down to the chocolate in my stocking.
Somehow all of the baking got done, some just minutes before it was to be served/gifted. We handed out 16 tin cans of these yummy cookies:
[via, because my pics are all still on my camera]
They were a huge hit and looked super cute thanks to this wonderful printable label. The downside of this little project is that there are currently 6 enormous containers of fruit cocktail, canned peaches, and mandarin oranges from those tin cans in our fridge. We will be eating (un-)canned fruit until at least St. Patrick's Day...
I also baked brownies and made Santa hats like these:
... that of course weren't nearly so cute, but basically got the point across. Finally, I whipped up oreo balls dipped in chocolate and marbled cheesecake bites. My poor kitchen will never be the same: it looks like we had a small snowstorm of crushed candy cane bits, drizzled chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs.
The real adventure of the weekend, however, was our foray into veterinary care. My stepmom headed up to New York to be with her family for the holiday, and we volunteered to care for the pets over the weekends that she is gone (luckily there is a housesitter there during the week). This task is complicated by the fact that one cat is diabetic and needs insulin shots twice a day, and that currently all five cats (Yes, five. No, she's not a crazy cat lady. They're all very sweet and impeccably clean.) are being treated for some virus that requires two doses of a thick pink liquid each day (think pepto bismol but chunkier). If you have a cat, you can relate to the fact that trying to get liquid down such an animals throat is roughly as easy as scratching your ear with your little toe... and probably as painful. These cats certainly aren't dumb, so catching them got increasingly more difficult as the weekend wore on and typically involved shutting doors behind us to trap them in, launching ourselves under beds and between recliners, and holding on for dear life once we got a handful of fur. We started wrapping them in a towel upon capture to avoid minimize the claw marks we sported across our hands, arms, and faces. Then I would gingerly place my entire body weight on top of the cat while Dan gently attempted to pry open their mouth and stick the syringe down their throat while navigating the rough terrain of sharp teeth. It was nothing short of a miracle when we were able to check off all five cats for a dose, and I swear I have never felt so proud of anything before in my life. Dan and I will be resting up this week in preparation for another three days of this next weekend... all I can hope is that my stepmom will come home to five healthy cats and a daughter and son-in-law who are still alive.
For now, my goal is to get through this week with minimal stress, maximum sleep, and a little bit of pre-planning for what is shaping up to be a fun New Year's Eve. I am also hoping to catch up on the gazillion blog posts I have neglected to read over the last month or so... I am looking forward to finding out what my favorite bloggers are up to lately!
Hope that you all had a wonderful holiday weekend and that the transition back to the office (if you had to make it today), has not been too painful. Only three and a half more days until the weekend!


December 23, 2011


I am pausing my from-the-office, highly covert Operation: Last Minute Christmas Gift to bring you this exciting news...

... the dinosaurs are officially gone! This lovely new slice of heaven has taken their place -- with Christmas colors and everything! Last night was the best night's sleep I think I have had in years, and I am currently counting the hours until I can crawl back in... by my latest estimation: too many. 
Thanks Santa Dan for the best early Christmas present!



December 20, 2011

Where Can I Hire an Elf?

I have a history of stressing about Christmas, but this year has certainly been the worst in recent memory. My bank account is screeching in horror and my sore feet are harmonizing, my shopping list has far too many items without an accompanying checkmark, and a dense fog seems to have settled into my brain for a long winter's nap. Thankfully, has singlehandedly saved the holiday for those nearest and dearest, and I am so very excited for the incredibly large volume of stuff that will, assuming this Christmas miracle stays on track, arrive at my doorstep on December 23. Which, if anyone is keeping score, leaves me exactly 24 hours to wrap and be-ribbon, curl and tag, decorate and perfect... or stuff into bags and throw on a bow. Not to mention the dozen or so parties and presents for which I need to bake, the fir tree that has yet to be decorated, the stocking stuffers which have been neither purchased nor even identified, and the nasty little detail that I have to be at work every day through Friday. Mix in a little family drama (it certainly wouldn't be a holiday without it) and you have one big Christmas cocktail of stress and exhaustion.
right on, Mr. Rockwell
But as much as the shopping, the traffic, the cold, and the enormous pressure makes me think the Grinch may have had the right idea in the first place, I know that it will be worth it to see the looks on Christmas when everyone opens their perfectly packaged gifts. My dad was never a huge fan of all the holiday commotion, a conviction that often earned him the Scrooge title, but one thing he undeniably loved (and had an uncanny knack for) was finding that gift you never knew you wanted but, from the first peek through wrapping paper, don't know quite how you lived without. I am lucky to have inherited this commitment to hours of searching for the very perfect gift for each and every person on my list, and I'm pretty excited to carry on that tradition for him. Even if such dedication requires that on Christmas eve I will be sipping my coffee and working my little fingers to the bone all night... that's where I'll be. If only my dad could also have passed along his impeccable wrapping skills...



December 16, 2011

In the Time of the Dinosaur

When the hubby and I moved into our apartment just over a year ago, we came with lots of clothes, books, and baking supplies (you know, the essentials), but precious little in the furniture category. I had spent four years at a college where living off-campus was expensive and highly impractical, and Dan was leaving a surprisingly-neat-but-thoroughly-male bachelor pad, from which most things were moved directly into the dumpster when their lease was over. Luckily, we had three sets of parents more than willing to donate a few ancient pieces to ensure that we had somewhere to sit and somewhere to sleep between moving day and our first trip to Mecca Ikea. 
For the most part, the only unfortunate part of this is that we live in a land of unmatched wood, oddly thrown-together couch patterns, and the occasional Expedit bookshelf. There is one glaring exception, which involves a little detail that makes me queasy on a daily basis: our box-springs have dinosaurs on them. Even the fact that the bed is a cozy little double that leaves you sleeping, quite literally, right on top of any bedmate (including the cat) pales in comparison to what lies beneath the deceptively simple white sham: red brontosauruses (brontosauri?) and yellow pterodactyls looking all of their 200 million + years old. I have been trying to laugh about this for a year now, but each day I die a bit inside, just knowing what awaits under our cute snowflake sheets and fuzzy red blanket.
Thankfully, my wonderful hubby has been promising for months that when he came home from his deployment, we could finally get a new bed: one big enough to fit ourselves plus a stretched out feline, comfortable enough to fall into at night and fall asleep instantly, and, perhaps most importantly, dinosaur free. Dan has officially been home for a week now, so our main priority this weekend is not putting up the Christmas tree or finishing shopping, but buying aforementioned bed. Today was a quiet day at work, so I spend some time exploring our options (and getting extremely excited).
I've always kind of liked sleigh beds...probably because I have this idea that every night would feel like Christmas eve. Not sure how realistic that is, but there are some pretty ones out there:
I'm a bit conflicted on low:
vs. high:
and wood frames vs. upholstered headboards:
My very favorite, though is this gorgeous Pottery Barn piece (in white or mahogany):

Unfortunately, the look on Dan's face when I shared the price with him was slightly less than reassuring. Honestly, though, I know I will be thrilled with just about anything we end up choosing... as long as our brand new box springs can be absolutely positively nothing-but-white.
Happy weekend, everyone!



December 13, 2011

Over Capacity

I'm pretty sure that I've blown through my quota of emotions for 2012 in the past two weeks. But as overwhelming and exhausting as it has been, this fact is strangely comforting, because it means that I must be in for a quiet, calm, blissfully boring year starting next January: a prospect which sounds positively delightful. I am quite possibly the only one on the planet who has her fingers crossed for a new year filled with nothing astonishing, nothing thrilling, nothing even out-of-the-ordinary. 365 uninterrupted days of normal sounds just fine to me, thanks.
Despite the limits to which my emotional capacity has been stretched lately, I certainly can't complain, because along with the absolutely awful (which I am not going to talk about now, and probably won't for a while), there was the absolutely wonderful: the return of a certain very special person to my arms. Words can't begin to describe how happy I am to have him home, safe, and with me during such a tough time. I have to remind myself constantly that our life together is not on a deadline this time around -- it has been over 11 months since I've been able to spend more than 5 consecutive days with him, and this stretch of unlimited time in front of us feels foreign but amazing. Instead of staying awake all night worrying about his safety and health, now I'm losing sleep thinking about all the little things I'm looking forward to: snuggling up for a movie on the couch, cooking together, coming home from work to find him napping with our furball. And in a time like this, when so much of my brain is struggling to cope, to understand, and to find a new normal, these little things are what keep me going. I am so very lucky to have my best friend back.

December 2, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Please excuse the silence around here in the next week or two as I help care for my dad in what are sadly his last days. I am incredibly lucky to have lots of wonderful friends and family supporting me, but even with their unyielding love, times are tough right now. Having to watch the strongest man I know slowly slipping away is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, but I am thankful that he is spending most of this time sleeping comfortably. 24 years was surely not as much as i would wish for, but luckily it was time enough to make lots of memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It breaks my heart that he will never hold his grandchildren, but I can't wait to tell them stories about the man that made me who I am today.


November 28, 2011

On Tolerance

I don't often use this blog as an outlet to delve into politics, religion, or other taboo dinner table subjects. In general I tend to take an academic approach to such topics: I prefer to stay well-informed but to keep my mouth shut. While I certainly have opinions, I truly enjoy hearing what others have to say and don't ever want to come across as offensive, so unless someone is grossly misinformed or blatantly lying, I tend to stay quiet and hesitate when it comes to sharing my own views. Today, however, I am digging around for my soapbox in the back corner of the attic, dusting it off a bit, and hopping on. Do bear with me, I promise to keep this little rant brief.

In the past few weeks, I have seen several messages floating around a certain social media site (ahem) relating to the upcoming December holidays and what some see as an attempt to secularize the celebration. These statuses are of the "copy and repost if you agree" variety, which are always so poorly written they make me cringe anyway, and they make sweeping accusations about those who are out to "steal the meaning of the holiday." They lambaste anyone who dares to say "Happy Holidays," melodramatically declare that they will continue to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas," and imply that anyone who is offended by this should be deported, offering to "help them pack." They proclaim (always in all capital letters) that they are PROUD AMERICAN CITIZENS and that those who would like to "take the Christ out of Christmas" cannot claim such a distinction. And, without exception, these messages make. me. furious.
Lest you confuse me with Scrooge or the Grinch, let's first provide a disclaimer: I absolutely celebrate Christmas. I decorate like crazy, watch holiday movies on repeat throughout the month of December, and enjoy more than my fair share of egg nog. Without getting into my personal religious beliefs (did I mention that I'm not a fan of sharing those?), I have no problem with wishing someone a Merry Christmas (I do it often), singing The First Noel alongside Jingle Bells, and calling that overgrown evergreen that sheds pine needles all over my floor a Christmas tree (holiday bush just doesn't have the right ring). While I do not personally participate in nativity celebrations, I stand by the fact that everyone who wants to should feel free and welcomed to do so. 
I do, however, have a rather large problem when it comes to narrow-minded people forcing their beliefs on others. I have a problem with the idea that one's own views are the only correct ones, and that those who do not share them are ignorant and inferior. I have a problem with the statement that people who do not celebrate a certain way should not be allowed to live in our country. I have a problem with those who flagrantly refuse to treat others with dignity... or even decency.
While most polls reveal that ninety-something percent of Americans celebrate Christmas (take that, late-night hours spent perfecting legal citation skills), the fact is that some American citizens do not. They choose to celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Dong Zhi, or Festivus. They choose not to celebrate at all. Thankfully, we live in a country where they are free to do exactly this: choose. It is entirely and unarguably within their rights, as American citizens, to elect to sit at home on December 25th and not do a damn thing. But the biggest thing that these non-Christmas celebrators have in common? They generally refrain from posting snide messages about the superiority of their own holiday and how irrational and un-American it would be to celebrate any differently.
In the end, it comes down to tolerance: a trait which seems to be in short supply among so many Americans these days. I am shocked at how self-absorbed people act these days, how unwilling they are to even consider another's point of view. I wish those who repost such contemptuous messages could have the experience of living in the minority for a change -- I wonder if they would feel so strongly were they constantly accosted by Chanukah music, expected to display a menorah instead of a tree, and surrounded by a population of ninety-something percent pushy people of a different faith. How would they feel if they were wished a "Happy Kwanzaa" at every turn, and then were insulted for ruining Kwanzaa when they revealed themselves as a Christmas believer. I would love to help a few (former) "friends" pack... for a country where their belief system is dictated by a tyrannical king. I have a feeling that it wouldn't be long before "Happy Holidays" sounded like a safe and comprehensive December greeting.
I hate to sound judgmental or critical, but I have such a hard time understanding why, especially at such a warm and happy time of year, people can't be bothered to show a little kindness. We are all so lucky to live in a country that embraces diversity in every aspect of life, a place where all kinds of traditions are not just allowed, but encouraged. It's just heartbreaking that some Americans can't see the beauty in this.
So with that, Happy Holidays to you and yours -- no matter how you celebrate!


November 26, 2011

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving Edition

Today is Saturday, and I am writing a Friday post. Call it late, call it lazy, call it so-tired-I-can't-even-remember-what-day-it-is.... call it all of the above. In the past few days life has taken priority over getting anything done, so today has been a concerted effort in catching up: several loads of laundry, a weeks worth of dishes, extra time at the gym to make up for not going yesterday, lots of sorting through the piles that seem to spring up like weeds, and a belated blog post. Check, check, check, check, and here we go.
This week seemed to be a good one for being thankful... or at least talking about the things we're thankful for the other 51 weeks of the year. If I'm honest, it has been a particularly crappy week, filled with spilling coffee all over my favorite pants, crises of technology, and the several depressing football games I've had to watch today (if it weren't for Alabama, I would just stop being a college football fan altogether). As is common recently, I've had to struggle to see the silver linings, expending a lot of energy to find things for which to give thanks. But like always, those things are still present -- often small and well-hidden, buried among so many moments of frustration, disappointment, and sadness, but there. And today, here:

My birthday was not what you would call happy, but thanks to a few wonderful people, it was a day in which I felt very loved. Several of my coworkers rescued me from a miserable morning with pumpkin bread and cake, a willingness to cry with me, comforting words, and a much-needed day of vacation. Thanks to them, I was able to spend lots of time with my family, who fed me well and encouraged a rather large amount of cake consumption. Definitely a tough day without my sweet hubby here to celebrate and facing my dad's worsening condition, but I was lucky that so many people made the effort to ensure that my day was special.

I can't exactly think of a Thanksgiving food that I am not thankful for. I prefer dark meat, apples and cornflakes with my sweet potatoes (don't judge until you try it), fried onions in my green beans (and by the handful), and my great-grandmother's pumpkin pie recipe. I like thick, gooey stuffing, excessive amounts of gravy, and cranberries in the shape of an Ocean Spray can. Add a rather large glass of red wine to wash it all down, and you have one happy girl.

Need I say more? The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is one of my very favorite parts of the year, every year. I have no idea what about it thrills me quite so much, but I tend to get overexcited and insist that everyone watch with me while I become increasingly animated with each balloon. Unfortunately this year it was just me and the furball and I was mostly only able to listen from the kitchen, but I made sure to see the important characters: Snoopy, Kermit, and the Rockettes. On a related note, this is a few years old, but remains one of my very favorite commercials:

(Very) long story short, I am thankful to still have a certain furball to curl up with me at night. One of my Thanksgiving dinners was eclipsed by a traumatic event involving Toby and a rather tight space in my mother's house. Instead of eating, I spent several hours wedged into said tight space, tearing up my hands in an attempt to reach my explorative kitty. After several failed attempts, I was assured that he would come out when he was good and ready, which it seems that he did: the next morning when I went over for a last effort before calling Animal Control, he had thankfully squeezed himself back through. Poor guy is exhausted though -- I actually had to wake him up to eat last night, which is absolutely unheard of around these parts.

Finally, I'm terrified thankful that it's finally time to start thinking about Christmas. It's hard to believe that we have less than a month until the big day, but I'm definitely ready to start listening to my holiday Pandora station and breaking out the decorations. Figuring out what to get for everyone? I could probably use an extra month on that....
Happy Friday Saturday, everyone!


November 22, 2011

24 Years

As of this morning yesterday (these things take time), I've officially been hanging around this lovely planet for 24 years. Some days I wonder if I have much to show for those 8767 and a half days, but looking back (birthdays are good for inducing nostalgia) I know that I've learned quite a bit from all of these trips around the sun. Today seemed like as good a time as any to share
1. There are very few problems that a well-timed peppermint mocha, pedicure, or hug can't help solve.
2. People are always going to tell you "these are the best years of your life!" High school, college, your twenties, your fifties... everyone wants to tell you that your prime is right-this-very-minute and don't you dare waste it. Don't stress too much: in truth, the years keep getting better. If you spend too much time worrying about enjoying the moment, it will be gone.
3. No matter how many master's degrees you've earned, all it takes is one "alot" or misplaced apostrophe to assure peers that your IQ is roughly equivalent to that of a rather slow goat. Knowing basic grammar rules and following them carefully can get you far in life.
4. You are never too mature to channel your inner four year old.
5. A glass bottle of wine and a great friend or two are often much more effective (and far less expensive) than professional therapy.
6. Take the time to learn what makes you happy, and whatever it is, do it. Often. Never apologize for it or make compromises. Do it.
7. Everyone should live alone for a little while. As much as I miss my husband right now, I've discovered so much about my own schedule, needs, and preferences. I know that this time alone will help me live more comfortably when he comes home.
8. There are certain things on which you should always be willing to splurge: clothes that make you feel beautiful, quality education, a comfortable bed, your family's health, and the perfect gift for someone else.
9. Technology can be a blessing and a curse. Unplug often enough to appreciate the incredible things it can do for you, but never make the mistake of missing real life because you're stuck behind the screen of a computer. Google will never manufacture love, sunshine, or sleep.
10. Life is all about the little things, so pay attention: they fly by pretty quickly.                                                  
11. Losing weight is never a continuous trajectory of numbers on the scale. It's a bumpy ride, and some weeks you're going to gain weight no matter what you do. There's always next week.
12. Alone time is absolutely essential for sanity. Do whatever it takes to spend some time in your own mind each week -- you never know what you might find.
13. Never underestimate the power of another species to love and care for you. A meow or a woof can express a lot more than words.
14. The cleaner your life, the easier it is to live. Clearing out the clutter in your house/office/car can do wonders for the cobwebs in your head.
15. Hard work is one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Tackling a challenge head on and sticking with it until you succeed teaches you things you never knew about your limits and how far they really stretch.
16. Running is 25% physical and 75% mental. Your legs can be fully capable of running a race, but if you don't think you'll get to the finish line, you absolutely won't. 
17. That guy you married probably isn't the one you dreamed of as a kid, the one you imagined and hoped for, the one you saw yourself growing old with..... he's better.
18. Your best investment really is yourself. Save, save, and save some more -- you will thank yourself one day.
19. Maintaining a good friendship takes hard work and sacrifice, but any friend who is worth it will always reciprocate.
20. It's never too late to say "I love you" or "I'm sorry." Or "More dessert please."
21. Sometimes you just have to let go of the perfectionism, the pressure, and the demands. Give yourself a break, go a little crazy, do something for you. Those deadlines will still be there when you get back.
22. People change. Sometimes they grow in a different direction, they disappoint, they let you down. It hurts, but you have to recognize when it's time to let go. On the other hand, someone you never expected might turn out to be just what you need the most. Never allow yourself to be so hurt that you can't still be pleasantly surprised.
23. Speaking of surprises: always surprise yourself. Push your boundaries, try new things, keep yourself on your toes. If nothing else, it makes life interesting.
24. Remember that things always gets better. The lows are the worst and can seem neverending, but if you keep fighting through it, you'll eventually make it out the other side. No matter what happens, never give up on yourself.

Here's to another year of living, loving, and learning.
And since I started writing this two days ago and it's now Thanksgiving, I hope that you all have a wonderful Turkey day! Enjoy all the time with family, friends, and yummy food!


November 20, 2011

(Mostly) Silent Sundays

Just one guess about what I'm most excited about this week month season:


November 18, 2011

Friday Favorites: Wonderful Person Edition

I feel like I may owe today a thank you note for finally getting its butt in motion and showing up. Not like I've been waiting for it all week or anything.

It has been one heck of a week (see: all the fun I had on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a really wonderful cold), so if ever a weekend has been earned, I think it's this one. I have lots of exciting plans to sleep, drink hot liquids, stick close to my couch, buy stock in Kleenex, and not cough up a lung. And maaaaaybe (please don't tell my mom) a Christmas movie or two... all in the name of feeling better, right? I could use a little holiday cheer in my life right now.
Luckily, despite the abundance of ick in my week, it was also filled with just enough wonderful to even things out. This particular week, wonderful seemed to come in human form (ok, ok... and maybe in the form of half a dozen donuts. oops.) Throughout the little rough patch of the past few weeks months, the phrase "you find out who your friends are" has really rung true. Unfortunately, there have been a handful of people who have proven... less than supportive. Luckily, it goes both ways though: other amazing people have truly left me speechless with their constant love and willingness to listen, distract, feed, coach, or just sit there and listen to me cry. While I've been hurt by the silence of a few in my life, the holes they left have been more than filled by some truly wonderful people. Since we're sneaking up on my favorite holiday and all, it seems like a good time to give a little thanks for those people. There's no way to mention everyone, but here are a few of the highlights:

this is one of my very favorite pictures EVER. I promise I had on clothes.
This beautiful lady found time in her incredibly busy first-year-teacher schedule to come spend last weekend with me. M is the kind of friend who shows up with pumpkin spice donut holes, doesn't blink an eye when you ask her to go with you to visit your sick father, and makes you laugh even when life really isn't funny (otherwise known as: the best kind of friend). We had a fantastic time talking about weddings (!), sharing cheese fries, admiring this guy, and laughing until we cried over this gem. I am so so very lucky to have this girl in my life.

My mom has always born a striking resemblance to superwoman, but these days when I have needed it the most, she has kicked it into high gear. She has taken me out to dinner three nights in the past week (once with two of her best friends, who are truly some of the nicest ladies I know), refilled my wine glass or coffee mug countless times, and spent hours listening as I talked my way through emotions and stress. She never complains when I call her daily (sometimes more) and always makes time to answer my basic cooking questions, provide advice that is always right in the end, or just laugh at my latest crazy cat story. It is no great surprise that the voice of reason in my head sounds an awful lot like her. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that I don't know what I would do without her to keep me from going insane, becoming a hermit, burning down my apartment building, or a myriad of other awful things.

Not many people can honestly say that they have awesome coworkers. Even though some most mornings, getting out of bed is a painful process, I am incredibly lucky to get to spend my days with the people I do. The other half of my two-person department, especially, is a wonderfully spunky and sweet lady who has become a confidante, friend, and partner-in-crime. She has me in stitches multiple times a day, and I cannot count the number of trivial stories I have been halfway through telling when I realize that she has no reason to care, but she always listens anyway. She also chased me out of the building at 1:00 yesterday when she couldn't listen to me cough a minute longer, with strict instructions to make myself tea and go to bed. Which I absolutely did... after purchasing the aformentioned donuts.
this picture has nothing to do with anything... but really, who doesn't need a little more wrinkled cuteness in their life?
A large group of people I am thankful for today share no common bond or connection, besides the fact that I don't actually know them at all. They include the guy at the seafood counter in Harris Teeter, who is always smiling; the random whiz who posted on a cell phone blog and helped me fix my phone; the wonderful vet tech who clipped my furballs claws even as he slithered off the counter to escape; the guy who understood my barking this morning as "grande skinny peppermint mocha." They include whichever neighbor had a fire yesterday evening and filled the street with that wonderful fall smell, and the one who didn't laugh at me when I attempted the elliptical today and had to give up after less than 10 minutes. They include Terry Gross, who consistently makes an hour at the gym the most interesting hour of my day, and David Crane and Marta Kaufmann, who created a show that I can watch a million times (and have) and never once get sick of it. And they include all of you wonderful bloggers out there, who share love stories and recipes, workout tips and adorable baby pictures, exiting news and everyday moments. Your words always keep me going.

And of course no post about wonderful people would be complete without a mention of this guy. I am incredibly lucky to have a husband who can make me laugh from halfway around the world, checks in on my father constantly, and puts up with all of my quirks. I finally printed out some pictures from our mini-wedding to frame, and I love having his face around the apartment a little more. Now if only his actual face could be here....

Happy weekend, everyone! Hope it is filled with equally wonderful people.


November 15, 2011

Life, Soap Opera Style

Apparently, the oh-so-ironic Decider of Fate thought that my life was going a little too smoothly. What with my husband being deployed and my dad's battle with the big ugly C word, you know. Somehow that didn't seem enough. Ladies and gentlemen, you just can't make this shit up:
 -- Yesterday, the furball had to go in for his yearly check-up. The earliest appointment I could get was 9:30, so I stuffed four flailing legs and a wayward tail into his cat carrier and set off for Take Your Feline To Work Day. I was a proud mama through his visit to the office and his appointment: he was quiet, laid back, and even let the vet clip his talons nails. Yup, everything went great until we were about 3 minutes from home, at which point little Toby just couldn't hold it anymore. Within seconds, there was cat pee everywhere: the carrier, the floor, the car seat, and my purse. And of course the cat himself. Who proceeded to flick his little paws and fling it anywhere that it wasn't already. Sorry, is that too much? Just be thankful you weren't there to smell it.
 -- Last night, my trusty little android phone alerted me that there was an available system update. I was a little nervous but decided to go ahead and get it over with. After the installation finished, it took three tries to turn the darn thing on again (sign number one of the problems ahead). Once I finally got it started, several of my beloved apps had disappeared from their respective home screens. I redownloaded a few, but proved too sleepy to bother with anything else. This morning, though, I discovered that several more apps were not working, my email was not syncing, and there was a rather persistent new "low on space" notification. I deleted a few old apps and, thankfully, the message went away and my apps worked again.... for about two hours. When the "low on space" reappeared, I checked just how low I actually was: 40%. Meaning 60% of my memory was free and clear. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't call that low. So I marched on into the V*rizon store across the street and spoke to several employees who had no idea what was causing my problems nor how to fix them (including one who remarked quite articulately "Welp, it's probably broken." Gee thanks, Sherlock.) After poking around the internet, it appears that mine is a common problem... and one for which no one has yet found a solution. At this rate, I'll have deleted all my apps by Thursday in an attempt to keep that nasty little notification at bay. There's a certain support line that will be receiving a very polite but peeved phone call tomorrow morning.
 -- This morning I pulled the overflowing trash bag out of the can as I made my lunch and walked it to the front door. I headed back to the kitchen to grab a few things when I heard a noise and froze. I could make out a low hissing noise -- faint but enough to make even the cat pause and look around. My heart started to pound and I was sure that I was about to come face to face with either a snake or an intruder... and I wasn't sure which was more terrifying. It took a few minutes of creeping around and peeking around corners before I realized that the sound was coming from the trash bag, and it hit me exactly what it sounded like: a can of whipped cream. A can of whipped cream that had not only scared the daylights out of me, but ejected its remaining contents all over my wall. Lovely.
So there you have it... the story of my week. What's that? Only Tuesday night? Oh good, so there's time for this tickle in my throat to turn into a full-blown cold and provide a little cherry for the top of my sundae. No no, I wouldn't want to call it a week just yet.


November 13, 2011

(Mostly) Silent Sundays

This describes my weekend quite well...


Does anyone know where they serve these?


November 11, 2011

Soldiers' Honor

When I was young, Veteran's Day meant little more than a day off from school or some kind of patriotic assembly. I did not know people in the military, had never watched anyone in my life go off to war. One grandfather had served a short time in the army, but rarely spoke of his experiences in anything more than funny anecdotes of cold nights spent in a pup tent. I knew so little about the military, its culture, or its way of life.
I never dreamed that I would one day learn more than I ever cared to know about the army. That one day I would memorize ranks and acronyms, learn how to disassemble a uniform for the laundry and then put it back together, hold my husband's hand through a briefing on how to survive deployment. I never dreamed I would live in a home where boots sit by my front door, a framed commissioning certificate is proudly displayed in the living room, and a blue star flag hangs in my front window. That I would become all-too-familiar with the loneliness and terror that accompanies every moment when someone you love is serving his country. I never dreamed that I would be a military wife, that I would give my heart away to a soldier. 
Even though this part of my life was never planned, never requested, and is never easy, it is something that I have come to realize that I would not trade for the world. The military lifestyle can be tedious, frustrating, and frightening, but I have learned that it can simultaneously be rewarding and fulfilling. The army has allowed Dan and I to form unparalleled friendships, given us once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and constantly strengthened our own relationship. I am comforted knowing that the military and its members are always there to honor Dan and support both of us.
My husband is not just my best friend but my hero, the bravest person I know. He completes the most difficult of jobs with incredible courage, and always puts the needs of his men before himself. He sits halfway around the world in a war zone, and yet he never complains about the conditions, his overwhelming responsibilities, or his exhaustion. He is the epitome of an American soldier: strong and stoic, dedicated to his mission, his family, and his country. I am more proud of him than I can put into words, and I miss him more than I ever imagined I could miss anyone. I am honored to be his wife, and to be a military wife: although it is the hardest job I have ever taken, it is one that I am infinitely proud to hold.



November 8, 2011

The Real and the Imaginary

I am so far behind that I have lost sight of even the shadow of that productive, successful, always-put-together, imaginary me, who seems to have bolted off into the sunset, leaving real me puffing along behind. As hard as real me works to keep up, that darned imaginary me always stays several steps ahead, effortlessly sprinting along. Just out of reach, otherwise real me would long ago have grabbed her coattails and held on for dear life... or dragged her to the ground and stepped on her to keep her down for a while.
I often spend my free moments (because I have so many, you know) pondering the differences and the distance between imaginary me and real me. The disparity between the two is sometimes quite frightening:
 -- Real me hits the snooze button most mornings, struggles to emerge from under the covers and drags herself straight into the shower, still half-asleep. She grabs the first thing she finds in the closet, consistently leaves the house ten minutes late, and requires at least half a cup of coffee for her eyes to open the rest of the way. Imaginary me, on the other hand, leaps out of bed sometime before the sun and doesn't mind heading out for a run in the sub-30 degree temps. She wears clothes that match and flatter, packs a lunch, and always gets to work 10 minutes before everyone else. She moves efficiently and processes thoughts capably, even before 9 AM.
 -- Real me often succumbs to two dinner options: easy or nonexistent. She has been known to enjoy cereal, wheat thins and hummus, Ben and Jerry's, toast, iced coffee, or some combination thereof for her evening meal. Chipotle is a common stop on the way home (even when it's not on the way home), and pasta is considered a delicacy (and an awful lot of work). Many nights she falls asleep before even deciding what might sound good. Imaginary me, however, whips up fresh and inventive meals every night of the week. She experiments with flavors, tackles new recipes, and recreates restaurant dishes with astounding accuracy. She always has plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day, but never so much that the remnants get lost in the back of her fridge.
-- Real me is easily buried under the weight of incoming emails, texts, and facebook messages from friends and family. Her typical response rate hovers somewhere around 1 week, and each reply begins with "I'm so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you...." She means well, but tends to save the task of sorting through this correspondence until bedtime, and has been known to fall asleep halfway through a text. She has fallen desperately out of touch with some of her closest friends, and although she vows each day to write or call, most days those promises go unkept. Imaginary me, of course, speaks to at least 12 of her closest friends on a weekly basis. She answers messages the same day she receives them, and always knows just the right thing to say. She mails cards and gifts and adorable little treats to friends who are in need of a smile, and always remembers who needs to be wished good luck or happy birthday. She never fails to call the day after a big test, interview, or date, and she's always the one who has time to listen and give great advice.
-- Real me fights a daily battle to keep dust bunnies at bay. She has been known to wear clothes straight from the dryer for several days in a row, after sending the whole load for another 5 minute spin to get out the wrinkles... again. She has mastered the art of Sink Tetris, scoops the litter box when and only when she smells it, and the pile of junk mail that has taken over her desk dates back to at least July. Imaginary me, ever-superior, keeps her apartment impeccably clean and incredibly organized. Her laundry is hanging in the closet within minutes of the dryer's buzz, dishes have not ever met the bottom of the sink, and the carpet never loses those lovely freshly-vacuumed lines. She is crafty and has a flair for interior decoration, especially around the holidays. She hosts friends and family for dinner parties and always has candles lit and cookies in the oven.
So while real me stumbles along the course of life, missing turns and sometimes stopping to nap on a bench, imaginary me soars ahead, making it all look so easy. Every once in a while, real me gets close enough to believe that the race is a true contest, that one day she might match her competition step for step. But then a little thing called life happens... and just like poor Yoshi, real me just can't avoid those damn banana peels. (Sorry Yoshi, you've always been my favorite anyway)

there they are: imaginary me and real me, running for their lives


    real me
November 2, 2011


I am slowly recovering from the prolonged food coma that has rendered me woefully unproductive for several days now. Between Halloween, co-workers' birthdays, and all the grocery shopping and cooking I've done lately, my kitchen has been transformed into a dangerous minefield of tempting leftovers and bowls of candy. I'm feeling quite a bit of pressure to eat my way through these items at an accelerated rate in an attempt to relieve the overcrowding in my fridge without throwing anything away. Luckily, all of this eating should be the perfect warm-up for all of the consumption coming up later this month. A long weekend filled with birthday cake, turkey, pumpkin pie, and lots of gravy shouldn't be attempted without some serious pre-feast stretching, you know.
Surprisingly, the dirty dishes that have been piled in the sink for two days now have not yet taken it upon themselves to bathe. They're going to need to get on that rather soon, though, because I have several more recipes on my to-do list for the next few days. I'm especially excited to try out these guys, as my bowls of chili have been yummy but a bit lonely so far.
Since I didn't have a single trick-or-treater on Halloween night, I consoled myself by roasting pumpkin seeds... and burning them for the second year in a row. Clearly there is a learning curve to this, and I'm floundering somewhere behind it. But despite the fact that they're a bit overdone, I can't keep my hands out of them. I've been helping myself to handfuls constantly for the past few days, but I have a hard time feeling too guilty -- they can't be that bad for you, right? You know, that whole comes-from-a-vegetable thing? Besides, they're just the right mix of crunchy and sweet and blackened that is perfect for this time of year.
Speaking of this time of year, can we talk about the fact that I've had ice on my windshield the past two mornings? I love so many things about winter (the holidays, the decorations, lots of excuses to snuggle), but the temperatures make me wonder if geese have the right idea. It's days like this when I want to pack my bags and move to Florida until next March. I think I may in fact be an 80-year-old trapped  in a twenty-something body. Ahem.
Truth be told, though, I'm pretty excited that it's already November. I know that the next few months are going to fly by in a rush of holidays and family time, and then we will be that much closer to the hubby coming home. Words can't even describe how ready I am to have him back!




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