All that pretty pink in the picture above is ice and snow.
Weather.com tells me to expect a "mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain, from 1:00PM to 11:00PM this evening. This will cause ice accumulation, which will result in hazardous travel conditions. A winter weather advisory means that periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties."
Oh, bother. I was really hoping for a calm evening of travel. Perhaps that is not in the cards for me tonight. Well....there are 38 hours between now and Christmas Day. As long as I am delivered home in that time frame, all is well! And once I arrive, then the Christmas can be white.
I have had such a fun weekend. Lots of pictures to come (eventually, when I get them from Liz!) but in the meantime, I have to say, the lemonade I had last night at Pat O's was the best ever. So tangy, tart and sweet. The bartender even made it pink!
A big step of progress was made today. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who helped me get this part done.
One of my bestiest besties is coming to visit for the weekend, and I am looking forward to showing her all my favorite new places. We will be such merry little rabble-rousers. Happy Friday and happy holidays!!
I'm back from an office holiday luncheon where the main dish was jambalaya. It was delicious!!
In other news, check out what the MTA is doing to celebrate the holiday. If I was still in the city, I would absolutely go catch a ride on one of these vintage train cars. I'd get hot chocolate, dress up and feel very "old New York."
I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed these days. Underwater. Swamped. In the pressure cooker. Don't worry, it's all self-inflicted and it will come to an end (eventually) but in the meantime, yowza.
Today, I had a firm schedule mapped out for my lunch hour. A to-do list longer than my Christmas list. And you know what? After having a mini sobbing meltdown behind the loading dock at my office, I decided I needed an hour off. I got real food for lunch (no scant cup of chili for me today!), a very contraband Diet Coke, wrote my Christmas cards, and socialized with real live human beings. We even sat outside in the 70 degree sunshine.
I feel a bit restored. Wish me luck and please, please, someone figure out how to make the days longer....
I am drinking chocolate milk from the farmer's market as my after lunch snack. It is delicious. It makes me feel like I'm 5 years old and drinking it with my mom and dad. This feeling is also delicious.
It's as is some wonderful little Christmas angels heard I was feeling blue instead of red and green. My last 12 hours have been jim-jam packed of holiday fun! Last night, Jessica and I decided to go on a spur-of-the-moment elfing mission (work can wait, we said!) and had so. much. fun. buying gifts for people. I think you're really going to love them.
Then we went grocery shopping and spent an extraordinary amount of time discussing the merits of various mouse traps. Like, longer than 20 minutes. (And I'm going on the record to say that they are both awful, I'm so, so, so glad that I became Mistress of the Cockroaches....because by default that made Jessica Ruler of the Rodents....which is way, way, way worse.) I can't even talk aobut setting the traps, because there is just no way to express the absolute terror and hilarity of the situation. Let's just say that peanut butter, screaming, and the coinage of a new word was involved. Shardy, anyone?
The funniest part of the whole thing is that if you recall, I had resorted to barricading the door shut with our stool. What I didn't tell you is that Jessica mocked me endlessly about this. Well, I went to bed long before Miss J did, and woke up this morning to find my original barricade back in place, with layers of reinforcements around it. Oh, I laughed, wondering what terrors had driven her to such levels of protection. (I know you're all wondering how all this talk of rodentia is Christmassy, but we had holiday tunes playing and there are mice in the Nutcracker. And we laughed really, really hard. So it works.)
But the most magical of all was this morning, when we woke to find that New Orleans was being snowed upon. Snow! In! New! Orleans!! It's so gorgeous. Snow falling on palm trees is something everyone should see. Jessica drove me to work this morning (usually I walk) and since the traffic was so slow, we spent most of the drive hanging out the windows taking photos. As soon as we can get pictures loaded, I'll post them. Oh happy holidays!
How did this happen? Christmas is two weeks from....tomorrow? How is this possible? I am not ready! I haven't decorated. I haven't shopped. I haven't eaten Christmas cookies. I haven't sung any Christmas carols. I haven't felt enough Christmas spirit yet.
Unfortunately, I have about 4652938475293 non-Christmassy things to do before I can even think about being merry!
Perhaps I should write my to do lists in green and cross them off in red. That would make it more festive!
Learning to say what you really think. Learning to stand firm in what you think is right. Learning to be gracious even when others tell you things you don't want to hear. Learning to forgive someone for hurting your feelings. Learning how to start from scratch. Learning that you're not always right. Learning to trust your own judgment. Learning to compromise. I'm learning.
Last night was the annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Singers sang, the Rockettes kicked and mankind celebrated. It was a lot of fun to watch from my living room in New Orleans, and made me so nostalgic for the many years I was actually there. (Including last year!) I'm so glad I always went, because those memories make me incredibly happy.
What also makes me happy is knowing that after glistening and glimmering and being the source of much holiday cheer, the trees go to good use: last year's tree was turned into lumber that built homes for Hurrican Katrina victims. One of the families even got to attend the show last night! Tracey Davison, 40, a teacher's assistant from Pascagoula, Miss and her four daughters: Ashunti, 10; Nylah, 9; Majsa, 8; and Karly, 4, were so excited to be in New York for the annual tree lighting. The family, who fled Katrina with just a few suitcases, recently moved into a new three-bedroom house built by Habitat for Humanity. Parts of the walls and floors in their living room were made with lumber from last year's tree. "It's been an awesome experience," said . "I have a famous living room because of the tree from last year, and my girls and I have had a spectacular trip to New York for the first time. It's kinda like Christmas before Christmas," said Davison. "It was a dream come true. We're very, very excited to be in the house."
In past years, the Rockefeller Center tree has been recycled after the holiday season, being made into toys for animals at the Bronx Zoo and mulched for hiking trails.
This year's tree is an eight-ton, 72-foot Norway spruce masterpiece. It is decorated with FIVE MILES of lights! Dad, what do you think about that??! But no tree could ever be as beautiful as ours. You do such a great job every year. Thanks!
I've loaded up the iPods with Christmas tunes and the speakers are going full blast. It's beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas! Now we just need to decorate the apartment. Our tree is about a foot tall, but what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in holiday dazzle.
It's warmer out today, and fairly humid, so after my lunchtime workout, my hair acquired a bit more body. There are also a few little krinkles in the back where my clip was. But, you know what? It's 72 degrees and December 3.
I'm just going to come out and say it: we have a mouse in our house.
Jessica has long suspected that we have a third roommate. She has been vigilent about pointing out funny noises to me, and always noticing where in the walls the little critter seemed to be running. I, refusing to believe such horrors, simply listened and then told her she was imagining the noises.
Then came the case of the mischievous trashcan bag. Our kitchen garbage can is a sturdy black plastic one, purchased with great care from Home Depot. It has a nice, wide brim and a nice "lip" that catches and holds plastic bags extrememly efficiently. But lately, the back left corner of the bags have consistently been escaping and collapsing into the can. We take out the trash very regularly, and so this strange bag behavior was definitely noticible and odd, but we didn't think much more of it.
There have also been strange little remnants of our garbage bits scattered about the bottom on the "under the sink" area--shredded paper towels, mostly, and bizarrely, broken egg shells. (Jessica and I are quite fastidious about staying clean, and especially with keeping our garbage clean, or as clean as garbage can be--because if you're sloppy with the garbage, you're just hanging out the welcome sign for those other roommates--cockroaches.)
Then came the scuffely, scurrying noises. I remained unconviced, telling myself that the noises were just the pipes creaking and New Orleans ghosties keeping me company.
But last night, when I was home alone, there was no mistaking the noises coming from below decks. It sounded as though there was a herd of mice, roaming far and wide, exploring the depths of our garbage can and racing each other from side to the other. There was probably only one, but I was spooked and completely reasonably put a stool in front of the cupboard doors (lest the giant mice push open the doors and come attack me) and then proceeded to yell and pound on the counters and doors to scare them away. Did it work? I can't really say. But this morning, the tell-tale egg shells were there, nibbled in piles around the garbage can. Hey, at least our mouse is tidy....
....but it sort of befuddles me why a mouse would choose our house, anyways. It's not warm, especially not in the kitchen and bathroom, and we don't eat good food (at least not good to a mouse). What is the mouse going to find in our trash? Perhaps a baggie that contained protein powder. Yummy. Egg shells. Mini-cans of organic tomato paste. That's about it. Although, come to think of it, a tin can is always good to have around. Maybe the mouse feels the same way.
One of these days I just know I'm going to go to throw something away in the trashcan and there will be a little mousy face staring up at me. That will not be a great moment. Stay tuned.
Today, something very exciting happened. I got a shout-out on a lovely friend's blog! I am so completely tickled by this. I've been in love with Brenda's rolls for years--I can't wait to try out her recipe. Thank you so much, Brenda!!
I cut off my hair three weeks ago. And for the last three weeks I've been learning and figuring out how to style it. I've learned to deal with the humidity and the rain. But I decided that in order the keep the coiffure coiffed, my mid-day workouts would need to be relocated to before or after work. Well....my intentions were good, but if I'm being honest I must admit that they have definitely not been happening--before, during or after work! And now that the weather has cooled into winter (it's 50 degrees out, brrr! I know I will get absolutely NO sympathy whatsoever from anyone above the Mason-Dixon line), I decided to see what would happen if I got a little sweaty during lunch. So today, armed with hair clips, elastics and a headband, I went to the gym. I worked out. (It felt so good! I'ts been far too long.) And then I took down my hair to discover that...it basically looks the same as it did before I worked out. Which is great! There is a little wrinkle where the elastic was, but I can totally live with it. I am very, very excited about this new development.
Nastia Liukin's much anticipated (by me at least) cameo on Gossip Girl has to be one of the lamest of all time. She was on screen for a total of maybe 5 seconds - a blink and you miss her kind of appearance. And her dress was awful. Ugh. I'm so sad.
This has been on my holiday wishlist for several years. I love it so much. The VHS version, which we've had since I was 4 years old, and was taped off the television in Americus, GA, (my mother has always had impeccable taste) is nearly worn through and the sound is going funny. I watch it every year at Christmas. More than once. So, you know....should someone be looking for a little something to get me for Christmas, please know that should you give this gift to me, you would go down in the history books. As the best gift-giver ever.
Someone must have put something funny into one of the dishes at Thanksgiving dinner, because after we ate, cousin Rachel piped up with a crazy idea. "Hey ya'll, let's go to Graceland Too!"
Uh, wha? What's this you speak of? She tells us about this crazy man, with a crazy house that he's built to look like Graceland, and all the Elvis memorabilia he's collected over the years. For $5, he will let you tour his house and listen to his lecture about Elvis. Anytime, day or night. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Rachel assures us. And crazy us, we decide to go. We pile everyone into two cars, and off we head to Holly Springs, MS. Please keep in mind that it's 8:00PM on Thanksgiving Day. After a short 30 minute drive, we pull up to this beauty:
Now, dear reader, would be a good time to ask if any of us stopped to ask, is this a good idea? Not a one of us did. (I'll admit that I was feeling quite apprehensive, but our parents were with us. And I've always said, when we go, we're going together!) My dad marched up to the front door, where, except of the "decorative" porch lights, no lights in the house were on. We wondered if anyone would answer the door. Knock, knock, knock. No answer. I silently beg to leave immediately. 30 seconds later, the door swings open, and the owner of the home, Paul McLoed, greets us with, "Thanks for stopping by! Glad you could come!"
We stepped over the threshold into the most surreal foyer ever:
and Paul asked us to sign his guest book. Do you think we used our real names?? Hehe, no.
Then he took us on the tour. There really aren't words to describe it. You really had to be there. So I'll let these pictures speak their thousand words and hope that someday everyone will get to experience the experience that Graceland Too is.
And the next time someone is speaking to you, take my advice and pay attention. Otherwise, they just might start singing, shrieking-like, New Orleans gospel music into a microphone, while you stand 3 feet away. Or worse, put you in his homemade electric chair. These things are not old wive's tales--they could actually happen to you.
Remember, Rachel, next time you go, you're a lifetime member. And Paul's got that great gold suit that he could slip on and wear to marry you to his son. Because he's a great catch--not only is a dead ringer for Elvis (with the moniker to boot) he's raking money, not leaves. Just remember.
This Thanksgiving weekend was one for the ages. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, oh my! So much fun packed into 36 hours. How did we do it?
We started off with a delightful 5 hour drive. Upon arrival in Oxford, where I may have caused a brief detour on the way to the hotel, we checked into our hotel room and waited for our parents to arrive. Jessica snoozed immediately, I managed to wait up, and when they arrived, they came prepared and bearing goodies!
Fresh rolls and cranberry sauce from Bob Evans! Our perennial favorite. It's kind of like StoveTop--nobody does it better! Why mess with success? They were a delightful midnight arrival snack. After the snacking and laughing and talking that carried on endlessly, we finally snoozed into dreamland, all together as a family.
The next morning, ready and raring to go (after a breakfast of rolls) we headed over the big house. This, incidentally, is where Jessica and I stayed over Gustav. It was much more fun having it full of laughing relatives! We spent the morning and afternoon in fine style, bowling on the Wii, as demonstrated by Grandpa,
and helping in the kitchen. Our fruit salad was delicious!
After everything was ready, and the table set and enough chairs put at the table, everyone wiggled and wormed thier way into seats. It was a tight squeeze! My daddio gave a wonderful toast to the returned missionaries, and we dug in.
After the tasty meal, we all left the dishes in the sink to head outside and leaf surf! So much fun. Here is my dad demonstrating exceptional form.
After hours of leaf fun, we trooped back indoors, helped with the dishes and then some people watched a movie. I tried, but succumbed to the pull of the turkey and took a nap.
It was a really wonderful and fun day. And the fun doesn't stop here. Oh no, it keeps on coming. Let's just say...we were raking leaves, not money, at this point. That was all about to change...
The location, Fox Books. Children's literature section. A lovely blond woman, Kathleen Kelly,sits on a pint-sized chair. She is sad. A woman browsing nearby, stops a salesperson.
WOMAN SHOPPER: Excuse me, do you have the "Shoe" books?
SALESPERSON: The "Shoe" books? Umm...who is the author?
WOMAN SHOPPER: I don't know. My friend told me my daughter has to read the "Shoe" books, so here I am.
KATHLEEN: (turns around to face the woman and salesperson) Noel Streatfeild. Noel Streatfeild wrote Ballet Shoes and Skating Shoes and Theater Shoes and Movie Shoes....(she starts crying as she tells her). I'd start with Ballet Shoes, it's my favorite.
SALESPERSON: Streatfeild. How do you spell that?
Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild, is one of my favorite books of all time. The story of three sisters, Pauline, Petrova and Posy, each adopted under mysterious and heroic circumstances, their Great Uncle Matthew (also known as Gum) and their guardian, Sylvia.
I learned to read this book sitting on a kitchen chair in Cincinnati. I sat on a chair in the middle of kitchen and would read aloud to my mom or dad as they prepared meals. I can remember the exact moment I learned to read certain words. (Saliva, Dad?)
This book has been made into a film and we have the DVD from Netflix. While on the one hand, I am very excited to see this magical story come alive, I'm also hesitant to replace the memory built in my childhood's memory. What if it's all wrong? What if it's too different? I suppose when I go home for Christmas, I will re-read my falling apart hardcover version and build the story again. Maybe out loud in the middle of the kitchen, on the same chair I sat on when I was 8.
To watch or not to watch, that is the question.
(And Kathleen Kelly is right, all the "Shoe" books are completely wonderful. Every last one of them. But Ballet Shoes has always been my very favorite.)
Last night, I sent a trio of my favorite ladies in New York out for spa pedicures. It was a big thank-you and I-love-you gift to them for all the loveliness they've brought to my life, especially over these most recent months. I've received glowing reports from each of them that they had a wonderful time together and I only wish I could have been there with them!! Had I been there, I would have had my toes painted this luscious color.
I am so tired that when I walked through the front door, I momentarily considered laying down on the doggie bed for a quick nap. I managed to stay upright long enough to reconsider, write this post and will now go collapse on the real person bed.
UPDATE: This is made funnier by the fact that Jessica did the same thing when she got home last night.
I am so, so excited for this holiday break. We are driving (and driving and driving) to the sweetest little Mississippi town of Oxford to visit with our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and newly-minted returned missionary grandparents. We are so excited to see them! I am also excited to study my face off, eat some delicious Thanksgiving treats, talk and laugh with my family, practice practice practice, shop the most amazing town square, find the perfect Christmas cards, sleep a ton, and hopefully see a good movie or two. (Do I have enough days off to accomplish all that?) On my current must-see list: Australia, Changeling, Four Christmases (could be awfully stupid but I think Reese will make fun), The Secret Life of Bees, Twilight and Quantum of Solace. I can't believe I haven't seen James Bond yet! I haven't seen much of anything except the inside of my books lately, and I'm excited to exhale, just a bit.
I am sitting with my math tutor, working through problems, and upon completing the set, I start to flip to the back of the book where the answer key lives. He stops me and asks, "Why do you want to check them? You know you did them right." (Which I know and he knows.) To which I reply, "Yes, I know I did, but I love to see it in print, in black and white, that I got the right answers. I like the validation."
Don't you? There is just something so awesomely awesome about getting every. single. answer. RIGHT. And then I write a big 100% at the top of my paper and next to it I put a lovely A+.
I could bemoan the humidity. I could take issue with my job. I could rage about the ghost of a friendship past that haunted me all through my lunch hour. (Seriously, the most annoying laugh ever.) But that wouldn't be nice. Instead, I will simply say that I'm glad I was able to see The Nutcracker Friday night and am delighted that this year the USPS has created some adorable holiday stamps.
I love ballet. I love to watch it, but even more I love to dance ballet. I took ballet lessons for nearly 12 years, quit in a fury over a broken down body, and have regretted it every day since. I miss it so very much. I miss the grace and beauty it made me feel. I miss the exhileration of leaping across the room. I miss the extruciating torture of a slow developpe. I miss being on stage, dancing my heart out under the bright lights.
I miss ballet shoes. I miss the colors, that gorgeous peachy pink satin. This is the root of my complete adoration of all things pink. I miss the clean leathery gluey smell of new shoes. I miss the sweaty lambswooly smell of old shoes. I miss sewing on my ribbons. I miss scraping rosin across the cut up toe.
Tonight, I am attending a student ballet production, and while it's a far cry from The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet danced by New York City Ballet, ballet is ballet and for a balletomane like me, tonight will be a much-needed and long overdue fix.
For the last three weeks, the youth group I volunteer with has been planning and putting together huge baskets of Thanksgiving food to give to people. The baskets ended up being incredible--huge turkeys, tons of food and treats. Literally, the baskets were overflowing. The kids got so into the project, writing recipe cards for some dishes that could be made from the ingredients and making festive cards to be put in the baskets. Last night was delivery night, which initially was a logistical nightmare but given our leader/youth ratio (nearly 3:1) we were able to create a workable schedule of delivery. Making the deliveries such as these is always fun but difficult; seeing other people's situations always tugs at my heart. But last night was really different. To start, after Google mapping our addresses, I realized that these homes were located in areas Jessica has previously warned me away from. (And while normally I do heed her advice pretty much 100% of the time, we felt compelled to complete the deliveries. But no, I do not plan to make a habit of this. I feel lucky that we were safe.) After getting lost (not a great moment, nearly resulted in a breakdown) in a neighborhood full of collapsed, moldering, Katrina-bruised houses, we found the address we were looking for. Wild cats were running all over the place, and several broken down cars sat abandoned in the dead-end road that served as the driveway. We were terrified. (Yes, there was a grown-up guy with us, but even he was nervous.) We surveyed from the car that someone was likely to be home, as there seemed to be some lamplight coming from the house. I called the phone number listed, but received no answer. We decided to make the delivery, and should no one answer the door, would leave the basket on the porch. Resolved, we marched quickly up to the door, and after a glance of hesitation between us, knocked on the door. A woman's terrified voice could be heard from the inside, "Benji, get back!" before her scared voice called out to us, "Who's there?" We answered that we were from the church and had a Thanksgiving delivery for her. She came to the door, and I was shocked to see that she was a young and pretty white woman. She looked incredibly relieved and said that no one ever came to her door, let alone at night, for anything but trouble. She asked who we were, and we explained that we had put together a basket of Thanksgiving food for her. She looked overjoyed and called out to her son to come look. An adorable 2 year old came peeking out from behind the door and was as happy about the basket of food as his mother. She thanked us profusely and then urged us to leave, warning us to be careful and wishing us safety. It wasn't until we were in the car that we realized that as we were rushing to safety, this woman and her son stayed and would continue to live in a broken down home in the neighborhood she only moments ago had warned us away from. We wondered what her life must be like and what her circumstances were. We may never know but I know that as we drove away from that home, my heart hurt leaving this woman and her child there. I know that none of the heartache and pain and fear I've experienced in my life comes close to what this woman must face on a daily basis. I know that I am incredibly blessed and so lucky.
Living in New Orleans has changed me. Down here, you see things like what I've described on a near-daily basis. And instead of becoming immune to it, you become more sensitive to it. You see firsthand the things that drive people to behave in ways you previously didn't understand. You see things that divide people from one another. You literally start to, perhaps not walk a mile in another's shoes, but at least stand in their shoes for a brief moment. And the world, taken from that perspective, is a different place.
Let the cooking marathon begin! I just realized that my company Thanksgiving pot luck is this Friday, which means that I need to find a suitably scrumptious yet extrememly low-maintenance dish to bring.
It is also Thanksgiving time on Gossip Girl, and the latest episode was full of tasty treats for us viewers. The picnic basket pumpkin pie was so very sweet and the hints of Britney Spears's "I'm a Slave 4 U" were hilarious. Make yourself some mashed potatoes and stuffing and then read the Daily Intel's snark fest here . Stovetop chicken flavor is the best, and we've been eating it for Sunday dinner for weeks. Don't judge. It's delicious!
Rumors have been swirling for months that Anna Wintour is on her way out of the top job at Vogue. This news tidbit, while not confirming anything, is the most concrete bit of information regarding her situation. Making lists of possible replacements has become something of a sport, with a few names bandied about with such regularity that it makes one wonder if there is validity to the claims. Where there's smoke....but I hope this isn't true. I'll stand up and say it: I'm just the teeniest bit (totally) obsessed with her. She's a lady and fabulous and fought for what she has, all the while being impeccably dressed and coiffed. They don't call her La Bob for nothing. (She was also a huge inspiration to me in the decision to create a new do. Oh, you didn't know? Yes, I chopped off all my hair and it's straight now. And it's fabulous.)
Today I ate a sandwich, and I have to be honest...it was kind of a let down. I've been fantasizing about this sandwich for a good two weeks and it just wasn't as delicious as I remembered it to be. Especially the yummy bready bagely part of the sandwich. It just left me so unsatisfied. I guess the good news is that it shouldn't be at all difficult to climb back on the DK bandwagon tomorrow.
Turning 30? I don’t feel nervous or self-conscious anymore, I don’t feel scared to have an idea & express it. I'm giddy because it’s a complete transformation. I’ve found my voice
People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck or something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather. That's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it.
“Between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.” – Under The Tuscan Sun