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.



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