Christmas Dinner

With my mom's cranberry salad in the bowl
Shawn's grandma Ramona gave me.

Sugar Free pumpkin pie!
I didn't take pictures of the deviled eggs I made (one regular batch and one made with Slap Ya Mama cajun spice mix) or the other hearty treats we enjoyed over the holiday. Glad to be home so I can get back in the gym! I also rode my bike to work today for the first time. Pudge-o-rama...

Juggling Elf

For my Christmas present to Shawn I gave him three light up juggling balls. They are amazing, and I may have to attempt a video in the dark. But they still look pretty cool on first juggle. On the way home he was hassled at the X-ray machine, but they let him through with them after he explained (no demonstration required). I'm EXTRA glad I shipped them to Danville instead of carrying them on the way there -- the surprise would have been spoiled!

White Christmas 2010

Being in Danville this year was our second white Christmas in a row, after last year's blizzard in Oklahoma. Here's what we saw out the back door at the inlaws' house. (Of course I stupidly didn't take pictures of us IN the snow ... I didn't even step outside on Christmas Day!)

Dear Santa

Watching Miracle on 34th Street for the first time, and I have been cooking for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners -- so far just the deviled eggs and cranberry salad. Yum-oh. Tonight we're having ham and tomorrow will be turkey. Just the four of us (thank goodness for Christmas Day NBA basketball games!), and then on Boxing Day we'll go to Shawn's aunt's house for a bigger party with the rest of the extended fam. We had dinner with Shawn's dad's family on Tuesday after we arrived.

Thinking about Santa puts me in a greedy frame of mind. Gimme, gimme, gimme. I just perused my Google bookmarks, and the category labeled "i want." In the past couple years I've been using it I've amassed 100 bookmarks of items I want, and that doesn't count items on my Amazon list. Some of them are dead links now -- like a dress I liked over a year ago that's no longer available. A lot of letterpress stuff, tons of specific Etsy things, travel products, jewelry (especially w/ an m and/or w), a few books and a magnetic photo rope.

That's not what Christmas is about. Hope you find the real meaning of Christmas in your holiday this year.

My First New York

My First New York: Early Adventures in the Big City (As Remembered by Actors, Artists, Athletes, Chefs, Comedians, Filmmakers, Mayors, Models, Moguls, Porn Stars, Rockers, Writers, and OthersMy First New York: Early Adventures in the Big City (As Remembered by Actors, Artists, Athletes, Chefs, Comedians, Filmmakers, Mayors, Models, Moguls, Porn Stars, Rockers, Writers, and Others by New York Magazine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A birthday gift from my mother-in-law. I put the book on my Amazon wish list once I read about it on The Noisiest Passenger blog. Basically a collection of New York magazine essays by famous people about when they first moved to New York.

I don't remember as clearly when I moved to New York in November 2007, probably because I was working to be vague about my living situation and I can even fool myself. But I have distinct memories of moving Shawn there that August. The heat without the air conditioning in the stuffy little studio, moving every box just the two of us and how filthy it was.

When he left to go get his office keys and I lay on the bed, listening to the city. In particular I listened to the noise made by the nearby bookstore's sidewalk lift (not sure what else to call it -- but it's a way to get goods into the basement without traipsing through the store -- most grocery stores there seem to have them too). I couldn't figure out what the sound was as it sounds like a high school class change bell, and it wasn't until I had moved there and seen the lift in action (and heard its associated sound at the same time) did it click. A mini mystery that eventually I solved.

After a shower I put on my black interview dress and killer heels and took the subway to Rockefeller Center. I had a job interview on the day I helped Shawn move to New York. It was at a PR firm, and I had a few other interviews during my first few months in residence, but nothing ever panned out. (The closest I came to an offer was in the Bronx, and I just couldn't face going from no commute to 1 hour-plus each day.)

Anyway, on my first day in New York, although I'm still a visitor at this point I know it's where I'm going to be living within a few months, I find myself across the street from Rockefeller Center, among the hustle and bustle and business of midtown. I felt so grown up, and it was more than a little surreal. I don't know that I really loved it or just the idea of it -- probably looking back clouds my memory because I've been able to morph my initial misgivings into a romanticized fondness for the place I truly became a Mrs.

The bedbugs and space issues came later, and they're part of my New York story too. But I like to think my First New York is more about wide eyed wonderment, empowerment and a choice to move to the best city on earth with my passion.


On the Levy
Been a busy Saturday. After working out and our usual pancake lunch I indulged in a Hallmark Christmas movie and then we went on a bike ride. For the first time we went to the levy -- it's so close and easy! I only had to walk my bike up one of the inclines ... and a true biker rode by me and said "yeah, that part is tough." HA! I can only get better from here...

Once we were back from that I started in on the Christmas cookies. I made the dough yesterday and baked and decorated today. The dough was stickier than normal even though I had chilled it overnight, so I had to work in some more flour.

Not eating/tasting the dough produces more cookies -- actually made there be not quite enough icing. So I just didn't frost the broken ones (broken = goodie for Shawn). I focused my will power on not eating the cookies ... so far so good, but man they look tasty! 10 bells, 12 stockings, 15 trees, 9 stars plus a few broken ones of almost each. They're drying now and then I'll box 'em up. I made homemade bows out of magazine pages to go on the boxes, based on what I remembered from this tutorial. Feelin' pretty crafty today, and making them is kind of addicting! I guess better to be addicted to crafting than eating too many cookies!

Lovely -- including purple stockings!

Kind of makes a mess!
I also got to starching a few Christmas ornament snowflakes that I crocheted for coworkers, etc.
Six ornaments ... hope they're dry by Monday since we leave on Tuesday!

2010: The Places I Have Slept

View 2010 in a larger map

Edit: Thanks to my eagle eye commenter I've edited this to reflect the nights slept on the cruise ship. I just added the ports -- no way to know for sure where we were on all the nights we were at sea, but I know I woke up in each of these places -- plus a couple out on the water. Thanks, CG!


upgraded my website,, to a wordpress set up instead of straight html (which basically meant i never really updated it). i haven't decided whether to shift this blog from blogger. i am weirdly loyal to google though. there are still a lot of random html pages i need to clean off my server space, but i'm going to focus on something OTHER than my own vanity site...

while i was tooling around my bookmarks and blog i found this befunky site that allows fast editing of photos with weird overlays, and spent some time playing:


I've been working on blog posts in my head but haven't taken the time to type them out... Here are some topics, in case I don't get around to true posts:
  • Mail - I love opening the box to Christmas cards. And today bonus: my This American Life USB came!
  • Make-up ... how wearing it changes things and how I finally succumbed, as my 20s closed, to wearing it to work every day
  • Weather -- I am certainly getting used to the balmy winter. 70s in December, yes please!
  • Gift Guides -- Etsy Taste Test ... uh, this was pretty good on what I like BUT seriously I love most everything on Etsy! Then there's this Hunch Gift-o-Matic where you put in a Twitter handle and it spits out a list of suggested gifts. I have a suspicion it's just a shuffled list for everyone, but still a really neat concept.
  • Recent conversations about work/career planning. I'm not sure I have any better grasp on what I should be doing, but I feel mostly OK. Especially because I'm taking some time off for the next couple weeks.
  • I got my first Kindle gift book from my mother-in-law -- my One a Day Bible! So no more lugging the big book with me on trips.
  • I lost a box of Triscuits. Seriously, what?
  • I won a really groovy Christmas ornament at the office women Christmas party
  • I had a terrible blood sugar incident yesterday ... ate a white bread sandwich (we didn't really have a choice of bread from where we ordered out) and then crashed out just before the security line at the airport. Luckily my coworker had a Kashi bar and saved me.
Hope you have as many good things to write about!

Elfing Tradition

I have made these for two or three years now, and this time I couldn't pick just one dance... Sorry for the ads you have to watch before you can see the video ... doesn't really make me want to go to Office Max, but there you go.


I'd been without exercise for too many days, but today was able to get back in the gym. The misses were worthy -- illness, Bible study and a fun goodbye dinner. But it's nice to get back into a routine, at least while I can.

A couple updates -- I overreacted (naturally) to the work thing, and all seems to be OK, at least with me. It was an external force creating the call and I need to get over myself! I was able to listen to the call while my teeth were being cleaned (best dentist ever -- really). And then I got them polished and got compliments on my teeth -- love that. He commented on how straight they are -- thanks, Mama!

And the other update: my lunchbox left in Mobile is on its way back to me. I called earlier this week and they connected me to lost and found, called me back and sure enough they've got it. They'll send it to me, which is very nice. I think this is just one reason to ALWAYS TIP HOUSEKEEPING!

Blü Skyphoto © 2008 Nick Ares | more info (via: Wylio)I ran an errand on campus today for Shawn (who knew Notary Publics charged so much ... I think I need to look into what qualifications you need to become one!), and while I was walking back to my building I took a second to marvel at the sky. One of the things we noticed coming from New York was how the world seemed to open up -- at least from a horizon perspective. I guess it's cause we border Texas that it seems so big? Yuck, yuck, yuck.

But seriously, the sky was so big and blue and covered with streaky white clouds. It was cool, but not frigid. I was comfortable in my coat. And although I really miss New York in the snow, this Louisiana winter feels like autumn to my northern exposed bones, and autumn is my favorite season ...

Work in Progress

Accomplished sending the Christmas cards and setting up a dentist appointment for tomorrow. Of course as soon as I get the appt. confirmed one of my bosses sets a conference call -- BUT it's a call that he had to arrange with more than 24 hours notice because outside people are involved.

One of many professional lessons I'm learning, or trying to learn: don't take things personally and just let go/let it unfold. I can't be so territorial, and I certainly can't do everything. I can't even do everything I want to do. It's fine if I'm not on this call. (And I will get to hear the first 15 minutes ... or more if the dentist is running late.)

Aside: I think this is Rory Gilmore syndrome ... in one of the last seasons of Gilmore Girls her internship boss/boyfriend's dad tells her she'll make a great assistant someday but to not even pursue a career in journalism. And she just believed him! I'm coming to that conclusion on my own at least?

So I've got all this work stuff to resolve within myself, beyond the travel -- ANOTHER trip next week, three days and two nights in Florida, this time for a planning meeting, which won't be the worst thing professionally but personally...

1,082 Miles

And I'm also unhappy with my haircut. Insult to injury or something. At least Shawn is home. I should go to bed instead of blogging ... Meh.


Being sick and overtired is leading to mistakes and stupid errors. In addition to dropping the computer (still working -- knock on wood), I left my lunch box in Mobile in the hotel fridge. What a bummer! And it was a gift. I guess I can call them and see if they can send it to me. Blurgh.

Today at work I bonked myself on the head on the shelf over my desk and wanted to burst into tears. I'm so tired ... but at least I know this cold is temporary, and my body is generally healthy and can fight this off.

So I gotta get this fighting. I gotta get resting and drinking fluids. Maybe I'll have something besides griping to write in the near future. A ha ha ha -- what a knee slapper!

Recent Reads

From the library:
From the library as audio books:
Random book I bought and read: My Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler.

Now that I have a Kindle (have I mentioned I got a Kindle for my birthday?!), I will be reading a lot more I think. I didn't read at all today, but maybe some before bed. I'm still ploughing (plowing?) through some books from my birthday. Waste not, want not, right?

But before that I'm going to treat myself to one more lie down on the couch, trying to get this awful cold virus out of my system. I've been drinking plenty of fluids but not resting as much as I should. I went to church today (although didn't touch or breathe on anyone, for what that's worth), then did a Target run before coming home and wrapping Christmas gifts, writing out all the cards (just pending Shawn's signature, sealing and postage) and trying to prepare for the week. I would have been much more efficient if I didn't feel so crummy (crumby? ha!).

Hope you all are feeling much better than me.

Grading Hotels

Another night in a hotel. Last night's was a sorta-swanky downtown hotel in Mobile. Now I'm in a decent hotel in Tallahassee. BUT the way I determine if a hotel is really nice: by its towels, if it has a bathrobe and its stationery. Neither hotel provides bathrobes or stationery. What a rip.

I've traveled and traveled. I drove until I was blurry in the eyes. I am exhausted and starting to get sick. A sore throat, achy muscles and starting to feel head-stuffed or something. I just want to go home to my Shawn. I hate feeling so resentful toward my work. But I don't know how to stop. I especially hate that the travel makes me a less efficient worker -- and I'm just spacey. I forgot to zip up my bag and the computer bounced on the asphalt when I got it out of the car. So far it still works, but it's a pricey piece of equipment. Whine!

Next week I'll be staying home, but of course Shawn goes out of town on Sunday for a night in Atlanta, back late Monday. Good thing I'm independent. I can recover from this cold and/or do some Christmas shopping.

Happy December...

This Week

photo © 2010 Scott Stilson | more info (via: Wylio)This is what I'll be doing this week: driving. I just added it up, and it will be about 18.5 hours on the road, mostly highway driving. The picture is sort of like the truck I'll be driving. I wish I'd been smarter and loaded up more audio books (I only have two with me), or at least loaded all my Christmas music onto the iPod. Tough tooties, as Owen might say (or tell me to not say).

Wanted to get my post out early today, as this is the last day of NaBloPoMo and there's a small chance I won't be off the road until AFTER midnight and don't want to take that change after making it 29 straight days with a post. This makes 30. Huzzah!

After flexing my "writing" muscles a bit I like chronicling things daily. I write a little bit by hand each day and have throughout this year. So I think I'll be on the lookout for another journal like that. This one was from Upper Room and included the liturgy readings each Sunday plus a daily Bible verse. Hrm.

Hope everyone had a smashing November and that your slide into the holiday season and 2011 is joyful, restful and full of love.

Bonus: You (Don't) Know Mari

My most creative birthday gift was a tag-team by my husband and sister -- two of my most favorite people in the world. And they've been working on it since the summer! After Thanksgiving dinner, and a rousing game of Scattergories (yeah, I won), they whipped out their custom game: "How Well Do You Know Mari?"

It was basically a bunch of questions (30 would have been appropriate, but it was closer to 50) about me, and then people wrote down their answers. Toward the end it turned into a who-can-shout-the-answer-first. It was pretty funny, although some of the questions ventured into territory I'd rather NOT relive ... uh, sneaking out is a right of passage, but do we have to talk about it on the first anniversary of my 29th birthday? (Saw that on Scrubs today while ellipticalling after work -- cracked me up.)

There was no winner to the game, but a lot of laughs. And some of the answers I wasn't even sure of -- how many universities have I taken classes at? (Six: OSU, WOSC, OU, Oxford, Georgetown, Maryland)

How great is it to be loved?!

Holiday Music

160/365 Christmas and Musicphoto © 2008 stuartpilbrow | more info (via: Wylio)Started rocking the Christmas music, and I'm loving it, as per usual. My Pandora holiday station plays my perfect mix mostly -- poppy, classics and weird throw backs including NKOTB. My office mate will be glad she's leaving in a week -- although I'll be gone for the rest of this week and I use headphones if she's in the office.

I need to get packing for this week. I don't know about my Friday -- if I'll be staying on an extra day in Florida or if I can just skip it and come home to Baton Rouge on Thursday night. Everyone root for Thursday!

November is coming to a close, and I haven't even done all the post ideas I had in mind. Some ideas: camping, ha!; "lots of stuff to look at"; how to house hunt -- next actions; i like to write letters; what i like to cook/best recipes; describe the inside of my recent church's sanctuary ... memory of other sanctuaries where i have worshiped; going home to Baton Rouge ... BR is home?; statistics of the blog and how they change; possessions: curbing that desire and cycle; and the Thanksgiving Parade/missing New York.

Don't know what I'm missing, clearly! There's always tomorrow...

Present Company

This is what 30 looks like

Here's a snap taken by Shawn on my birthday -- you can see a few of my birthday gifts (and my silly little sister in the background). There's the Kindle, the rockstar eyeliner and my new bracelet and watch on my left wrist. Also the lovely manicure before it started to chip, less than 24 hours after having them done. Oh well.

When I went to the car today for church -- after getting dressed and excited to be back to a service after two weeks of traveling Sundays -- and the car wouldn't start. The electronic key wouldn't open the door, so at first I thought it was just that. Nope. Dead battery. In a brand new car.

Shawn figured out, after he got a jump from a kindly stranger, that he had somehow switched on the hazard lights when he put the GPS unit back in the car last night. Oiy! We're back in business and were able to go get lunch (calzone!) and groceries (mostly easy things for Shawn to make while I'm gone for most of the week).

Now he's off to work and I'm catching up on TV, finishing up laundry and thinking about pulling out my Christmas decorations. Will also do a little Christmas shopping online and finish the thank you notes. Also wouldn't mind just laying on the couch for a while. La-zee-bones.

Getting close to the end of November and ability to slow down on the posts. Delightful!

Taxi, Taxi

I rode in a taxi for the first time in Baton Rouge. (Thought it was the first time since leaving NYC, but remembered I took a cab from the Washington airport to Silver Spring my second day on the job ... oh, work.)

Relatively uneventful trip home. A long layover in Dallas and we ate at Bennigans -- didn't think they even existed anymore! We also saw a woman yelling at an airline employee. Reminiscent of my melt down in LAX over checking my bag. Makes me red-faced all over again.

My brand new manicure chipped -- didn't even last a day. BIG bummer. But maybe I can smooth it over. At least I got a neutral polish so it isn't mega noticeable. This is why I can't have nice things. Meh.

Got a few new nice things for my birthday. Mama gave me a Kindle! So now I can have an easier time lugging my reading material around with me! She also gave me a purple car coat that I'd picked out a while back and forgotten. I wore it on the plane home and it's just the right weight for the chill in the air here in the Red Stick.

Owen gave me a little toy car that he wrapped himself. And as a present he let me have as many hugs and kisses on my birthday as I wanted. That was super fun.

Beth gave me a purple diver watch, very similar to the one I'd tweeted about (just a coincidence, but funny). I got a Brighton charm bracelet from my California aunts and cousin. Chic, chic, no? A purple Urban Decay eyeliner rounded out the gifts ... and there's a package here waiting for me to open AND the new bike from Shawn to enjoy.

So far being 30 is so good. Let's hope the good times continue to roll!

Biological Imperative

The day is slipping away, but I wanted to at least do a stream of consciousness post to knock out today on nablopomo. I was woken up by a certain six-year-old looking for the Subway book. And so far I've had a coffee, breakfast bar, shower and blowdry. More fun to come -- mom is making a s/f cheesecake, I plan to have a Sonic drink if I can find a ride, and tonight my fave: Mexican food and margaritas. I'd like to get a manicure -- I have a hang nail issue and love having pretty fingers. What better way to start my fourth decade on the planet (start being the key word in this sentence)?

We're going home tomorrow, so this trip has flown by. Although all together we'll have been away from home for one week. Traveling couple.

Owen is in the tub having a fun bath. He's the silliest.

Thanksgiving was nice, although I'd like it if we had more South Beach friendly dishes. I only ate four things, although I ate a lot of each!

Hope you are having a great Thanksgiving weekend and safe travels home if you're on the road... More from me tomorrow!

FWD: Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary
Because it means you've made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

~ Author Unknown ~

-via Auntie Sue


My feed reader is full of posts with titles like "Thank You" and "Grateful." That's nice, and I have a lot to be thankful for. But I'm not sure it's interesting enough for me to write about.

Something I'm most thankful for is Shawn, but instead of gushing about how much I love him (a lot), how about coming up with Christmas gift ideas?

He's very hard to buy for, and I have trouble coming up with things. He's not really a collector, and he doesn't want STUFF cluttering his life (complete opposite of me, natch).

Anyway, here are some ideas, which he'll probably scream about each and every one: black dress socks, white T-shirts, funny ties, silly magnets (he has a metal filing cabinet in one of his offices). He eats cereal almost every morning -- so I have always thought about getting him this Eat Me Crunchy bowl, but I never have. He doesn't use iTunes and doesn't really have any new music wishes, although if there was a band someone liked a lot a CD would be an easy gift. Maybe a DVD of an old 80s movie?

Anyway, I'll keep thinking, and if you have any good gift ideas for a 30-something husband who wants for nothing, drop 'em in the comments. Thanks!

Seasoned Traveler

Tantrumphoto © 2009 Addie | more info (via: Wylio)
The flight experience yesterday was unfun. LAX (or at least the section we were going through) didn't have the full body scanners, so getting through security was no worries.

But upon reaching the gate I wasn't able to take my carry on wheelie bag onto the plane because it was too big. I'd already hassled with it before going through security, and now I had to put it in the tiny metal sleeve to prove it would fit in the overhead.

So I lose my sh*t and start taking stuff out to make it fit. No dice. Even when I get the bag into the smaller-than-the-overhead-compartment segment outside the gate, the agents tell me I have to check my bag. I move stuff around, get my toothbrush out of it (it's a high dollar sonicare one, and I didn't feel like throwing it away), and say goodbye to my bag, sure that the gate agents will just throw it away after my tantrum. I was so agitated that I start crying on the plane (air travel always makes me emotional anyway, so every nerve is raw, right at the surface and ready to explode).

Poor Shawn. But after some time and then a margarita at the Chili's Too in the Dallas airport I was feeling better. I think flying after a drink could be a good modus operandi for me in the future. And much to my surprise the luggage arrived in Lawton anyway, so there's that. Shouldn't be a problem on the flights back since both are tiny jets where you valet check your roller bags.

New Louisiana State Flag

My colleague and I were just talking about this, what does the LA flag look like? Apparently it looks like this and was just unveiled this week:

Traveling this afternoon, en route to see a certain little kid I love so much. But I wanted to knock out my post before we leave so I don't forget or have to scramble late at night or from an airport some where.


Dirty Beach
Yesterday before my aunts came to pick me up for craft fair shopping I managed to work out, take a walk on the beach and run to the drug store. Once shopping we got some good stuff at the craft fair and did a bit of shopping in Long Beach itself. We had lunch at a groovy cafe and then went to Auntie Sue's for tea and supper.

Requisite Feet Shot
We drove past Grandma Jane's house, which was a little bit surreal, because they've changed so much of it. Hardly looks like the same house. Susan had been inside of it when the owners had a garage sale. One thing they have kept is the nifty mail box and the ingenious flap Gpa Ray rigged to alert you when the mailman had come. I miss the times we had there at that house. But home is more than just an address.

I took a few snaps at the beach but none of us shopping/grooving. I am a lame-oh.

I Whip My Hair Back and Forth

Greener Pastures

We made it to California with no real issue. Of course the flight in Dallas was delayed, and there were seven people on board who missed their connection to Maui -- the last flight of the day. What a bummer. Last night was a fun birthday dinner with my aunts.

Today Shawn left in his suit and looked SO HANDSOME. His talk is today, and I'm going to spend the day with my aunts at a craft fair and grooving. Maybe I can get a shot of Shawn in his suit tonight.

Tomorrow I'll be working from this hotel room, which is nice. I should be able to get things done. Then Tuesday it will be off to Oklahoma. Intra-national travelers.

I'm keeping my body on a Central Time schedule as much as I can, so it's just after 9 a.m. here and I've gone to the gym, showered and am dressed. And I've got two hours before take off. I think I may have a drive around, get some claritin for the kitties and see if I can see the ocean. Huzzah!


lightbulbphoto © 2009 Shane Gavin | more info (via: Wylio)Sometimes a light bulb goes off in my brain, and I think I have a clever idea.

With all this travel, I have been lugging my one-a-day Bible and spiritual journal around with me. It takes up a lot of space in my small wheelie bag. For this trip I realized I could write down the passages I need to read each day (in the journal) and then read them online OR in the Gideon Bible in the hotel room. When I get to Oklahoma I can even borrow Gran's Bible, which is identical to mine, since they were a Christmas gift from my mom years ago. (Gran has been better about using it to read through. I think this is only the second year I've done it.)

And speaking of that, last night's reading included James 3. Yikes. I need to read that passage every day and work to control my tongue, and similarly my fingers. As I can type some passive aggressive, downright mean e-mails if I let my true nature take over. I'm never going to be able to control myself all the time, but I have to keep working to get better.

Another effort to improve myself is my almost-daily exercise routine, which has been obliterated the last week or so by travel. I took my sneakers and workout clothes to Galveston, and the hotel had a gym. But I was only at the hotel from 10 p.m.-7:45 a.m. most nights, and I haven't worked on myself to become an early bird and work out BEFORE all my days begin. Perhaps that can be a challenge in the new year. Once all the travel settles down I'll get back into the swing, and hope my weight doesn't swing up in the interim! I'll see if I can bring myself to use the hotel gym in CA, and there will be some walking there. And in Oklahoma I'll go outside and run and play with Owen -- the best kind of exercise I think!

Just a few more sleeps 'til I'm snuggling that little moo head.

Note: The Wylio photo finding software really is amazing. You can read about it on the creator's wife's blog (and elsewhere, but this or Tech Crunch is where I heard about it first, I think).

Grey-Haired Lady

Got my hair cut today and it doesn't look much different. I wasn't clear enough, but at least the ends are trimmed and she used a razor as well as she could. I'll work on her next time. It was pretty cheap for a salon cut. I think that's a bonus for living in the stick(s).

I also had an adventure getting (well not getting) my government ID card. It was exhausting and I was just missing two pieces of information. Of course the person who could give me that information was gone/out. And no one else in the entire organization could fill in. I would hate to think what happens when someone dies unexpectedly. GRIPE!

I'm getting loads of grey in my hair. It's a little distressing when coupled with the fact that I have ONE WEEK left in my 20s. As one of my coworkers said so nicely: Black Friday will be the start of holiday shopping and the end of your youth. BURN!

So washing then packing and a noon flight tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get out of here before the REAL traffic starts for the game, but I know we'll see some. It's already picking up out there.

This is just a "here's what happened" post, seems to be most of what I do lately. Not really thought out, themed posts. I should work on that, but posting once a day ... I don't do that as much. Plus all the travel. Whine, whine, whine.

May I have some cheese, please?

This is Auntie M

Driven more than 8 hours today, counting a couple hours where I just road rode. Unreal. Woke up to the sunrise in Galveston and saw the sunset in the Garden District of New Orleans. I didn't sleep well last night either, turning things over in my mind and pushing to get home.


Just a couple nights here and then off to a California Adventure. Should be a good time, but this much travel in a row is almost more than I can bear!!!

I am glad to be back with all my clothes. I really didn't do a good job packing, and yesterday I wore polka dot socks, striped pants ad a striped shirt. Crazy.

I need a hair cut, I need a doctor's appointment, I need a dentist appointment, I need an appointment to get a new work badge. First, I need to sleep.

Going Coastal

It is lovely here. Almost everything I would write about this trip would be griping, so I'll redirect my focus.

Packing is apparently not my forte. I only brought crazy socks, and I was one pair of pants short. I'll just re-wear one of them for tomorrow. I never used my exercise clothes or tennis shoes. I could have used jeans and a sweatshirt (it was surprisingly chilly here, especially in the evenings). But I already am lugging so much stuff it's kind of ridiculous.

I'll be glad to be home, although it will just be for a couple nights then off on another adventure, at least this time for pleasure. I will be Shawn, which makes things better anyway!

Also, I've got at least two new readers, so welcome. My stats are down this year compared to last, which I can't really figure out. Comments are picking up slightly I guess. This is mostly all just a narcissistic record for myself anyway. But I do like to use it to test trends and see if I can do better. Apparently, I can't!


Losing My ...

Today's Dessert at Lunch
Since I've been at this conference I have lost and found my mini dell bag of computer accessories and my favorite pen. The bag was left on the floor and a janitor picked it up. I tracked it down in the building office. Then pen fell on the floor during a session, and then I found it when I was back in the same room for another session later. Thrilling.

But it's made me feel more airheaded than normal. I've also been more upset. Being out of my routine (however shaky and new it is) is making me feel worse. And the swing from insular, nearly anti-social lifestyle and personality to near constant sociability for what seems like days on end is a bit wearing. I am tired.

I do love the views here. The coast line is amazing. I did take some photos, so I'll use those as a post later this week. Maybe on a travel day when I'm even more exhausted than I am now, although i can hardly imagine!

I ate dessert at lunch today -- and still regretting it. Not from the calories/sugar/and not really exercising perspective, although that's bad. But from the how it made me feel perspective. I didn't even love the taste, I had a bad sugar reaction, where you get super sluggish afterward. I have to remember it's not worth it.

A lot to do before I can hit the sack so I'd better get to it.


I want to be more even keeled.

I want to let go of the snark, and not project my unhappiness.

I want to be a vessel for joy -- and spread it to others.

I want a lot of things. I'm trying to want fewer things and more experiences and love. But it's a struggle.

To cheer myself up, how about a picture of Owen in front of the mighty Mississipp? Remember when I used to say he was the cutest thing on either side of that river? I still think he is!

Have an Absorbing Day!


Writing from a conference. This is a different kind of travel than I have been and will continue to do. Many of the people here seem to be whooping it up and just happy to be away from their desk jobs. Hrm.

I met the president (owner? founder?) of my company -- the contracting company that actually pays my salary. He was weird -- introduced himself as my boss after someone else introduced me as being with the company. (Just what I need, another "boss.") He asked about my work -- thought I was doing something completely different, so I explained a little about my role and my title. Obviously didn't know I, or my position, existed. Which is fine with me, so whatever.

Then I was talking to the HR lady with whom I'd had many discussions in the process of interviewing for and accepting the position. We talked about how I went from working from home, alone in my studio apartment to this, which is much more people-involved.

The president guy scoffed and said "I thought you said you were a communications person."

I think insulting my background is uncalled for. And besides, my past life work was heavily web based ... and it wasn't like I didn't do any person-to-person outreach. It just wasn't as concentrated as this work is. Also most of my closest contacts within the organization are REMOTE. I don't know, it just really rubbed me the wrong way.

But I schmoozed and said "everything is great." HR lady said ~sounds like it's been really good for your career ... as a professional ... or something like that.

But sometimes, like when I've technically worked 12 hours on a Sunday, missed church, a workout, dinner and an evening with my boy ... I don't know that this is worth it.

It's just one week, one Sunday, one conference.

Time to put on my big girl panties and be a professional ... for once.

Bike Owner


The first place we went had a bike that I really liked. The medium was a little too small for me, perhaps, so the bike man called to the other locations and found one that had the large so I could go try it out. I did, and Shawn was convinced it was the correct size. The bike lady at the second shop said it looked almost too big, but that if it felt OK it was good. And it did feel OK.

So we got it! And it's purple!!!

At Target we got a lock and a helmet -- silver for silvermari. It was less than 1/3 of the price of those they had at the bike shop. BUT the bells at the bike shop and the baskets were cheaper. I'll bling out later, either when I'm back from my travels/before Christmas or in the spring if the weather here actually turns cold enough that you can't ride bikes.

It is threatening rain so not sure if we'll go test out the new wheels, but I've got a ticket to ride!!! And I can get to work even more easily now with this new option. Huzzah!

I haven't taken pictures, but it looks something like this, although it is not the exact model.

Edit: Here's a picture:


So tired after the trip. And it was the short one!

Tonight I drove into the parking garage and zoomed up, as normal, parked the car and got out. It wasn't until I was inside that I realized I was on the wrong floor. I'd only gone up to 5. Thankfully I realized it before I tried to open 2510!

The audio book was amazing and worked well. Am loving the ability to download books. It's the simple things.

I also finished a book that I found at the library proper, A Lesson Before Dying. The librarian complimented me on my selection. I like that the libraries here offer a Louisiana section!

Time to make tacos and margaritas and wait for Shawn to come home. We have an abbreviated weekend together, so will have to make it count.

Attitude of Gratitude

November is about thankfulness, leading up to the family holiday of Thanksgiving! I have so much to be grateful for, but to list them all would be boring.

I got my first "you should feature my website on your blog" e-mail. Does that mean I'm a real blogger? Uh ... I'll look at the site later and decide whether to write about it I guess.

I'm on my way today to Spanish Fort, AL, and will be back tomorrow before picking up and leaving again on Sunday. Hopefully on Saturday we can have a swinging good time, relax and enjoy some QT together. Shawn's at the top of my list of things to be grateful for!

Before my three hour drive I'm downloading an audio book and transferring it to my iPod. Then I'll use an AUX cable to patch it into the truck's stereo. Fearless Fourteen should make my drive MUCH more fun. East Baton Rouge Library for the win...

How 'Bout Them Cowgirls?

I've held onto this ad for years ... I guess since I got it in an alumni magazine. This is exactly what I looked like when I graduated. It's not me, but I had the long hair, wore it curly with my cap and gown.

Bonus: I found out that I don't need to be at the meeting tomorrow until nearly 3 pm. It's a three hour drive, so instead of leaving at 8 am I can leave closer to noon. Hooray! I'll actually get to sleep in and enjoy part of the holiday. Of course tomorrow I'll bounce right out of bed, unlike today when I had to peel myself out.

I'm glad I did. I went in early to go to a coffee hour w/ a professional group I've joined. The journalist who was supposed to join us didn't come, but I was mistaken for her. She's the editor of the college newspaper, and someone asked me if I was her. HILARIOUS. I guess this means that either A) I look young enough to be 22 and/or B) I need to get new, less cheap looking clothes?

Webcamming tonight with my favorite little moo hoo. Catch you tomorrow ... perhaps in the morning before I leave for the meeting.

Christmas Crochet

I need to get started on my Christmas crochet. I'm thinking some snowflakes and maybe keep working on a Christmas blanket.

I'm hitting a wall with blogging. I have ideas and a list but everything looks just ... undoable.

Snowflakes from Christmas 2006

Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things during this week. Travel will pressure me, and next week will be even worse. But I'll carry on!

Snark and Pumpkin

Removing the snark is a worthy goal, and something I've been reading about on Rachel Held Evans' blog, but I don't have it in me. Example, today I go!t upset on a conference call and snapped "you criticize it before you even read it?" It seems stupider now, hours later. But still ...Work was crank-tastic today, although keeping my chin up anyway.

Pumpkin Cauliflower Pasta
Tonight I made the pumpkin cauliflower pasta from Rachel Ray's low-carb cook book. It was pretty darn tasty, although it dirtied a lot of dishes. It was pretty much a 30-40 minute meal, so that was good. But it felt more involved than I'm probably up for every night. BUT automatic lunch for tomorrow, so bonus...

I still have the steak and spinach gratin on tap to make this week plus other things that will be less involved. Domestic bliss?

Also remembered I haven't posted photos from the Owen visits Baton Rouge trip or really detailed the trip. Not going to do that today, seeing as how that would burn a post I could do another day! But here's a photo of Shawn. Heart's a flutter!


I got a delicious amount of sleep last night. Didn't even remember it was Daylight Savings Time ending until I woke up and saw the clock on the oven. My alarm clock automatically adjusted itself, and my body didn't notice.

It was good sleep too, in part because I was so worn out by the week of sleep deficit and an especially awful and short night's sleep on Friday but mostly because Shawn was sleeping next to me! Now creeping into the afternoon and I feel a little sleepy, but powering through to get a few things done on my side projects. Probably I can get to sleep early/at least on time.

After church, which was All Saints Sunday celebration and Communion, I went to the grocery store and got actual ingredients for recipes. I've made a few genuine (i.e. non-frozen) dinners in our kitchen since we've been here -- stuffed bell peppers, bacon cheesy pasta and the usual spaghetti/taco nights that are so easy. This week I hope to make a spinach gratin to go with some beee-autiful steaks and try a pumpkin cheesy pasta. I don't think I could ever legitimately have a food blog BUT I could arguably do a food post or two, especially while I'm charging through November and beyond.

Randomly, my favorite line from the play on Friday night: I like her because she's nothing like you, the lead guy said to the skinny coworker about his fat girlfriend.

Game Day, What?

Had my first out-of-the-apartment-on-a-game-day experience. And I chose the Alabama game...

Actually it just worked out that way, but at 10:45 I was rolling up Nicholson, nearly 4 hours before game time and there are people everywhere. Tailgating is serious sport. I made it where I was going in exactly the right amount of time despite the slow crawl alongside campus.

Then ... we rode bikes!

And I was scared of the traffic. My friend even said that it was heavier than normal, but the cars were going fast on the winding roads and not really keeping their distance from us pedalers. We only ran into each other once, and that was me misunderstanding what we were doing/where we were turning. I didn't actually fall OFF the bike, but it caused a heart rate spike even more than the big SUVs barrelling down on us!

Otherwise it was amazing, and I got to see neighborhoods around the lake in a whole new way. There were also birds and other happy people walking and riding about. I'm definitely going to buy a bike. Just will have to figure out the best kind. Shawn will come in handy for that. He's a good consumer researcher.

Just a few more hours til I get to go pick him up. Huzzah! This week has been a weird one without him, but I survived. More physical distance between us to come, when I'm traveling throughout November (11/11-12 in Alabama; 11/14-18 in Galveston, Texas; then a trip together 11/20-27 to California and Oklahoma; then 11/30-12/2 in Florida/Alabama). After that I should find some semblance of balance? Or at least a little more staying put until our trip to Virginia for Christmas?

Oh the places we'll go...

Date Myself

Just home from a date ... with myself. Good hair day, new shirt (weird plaid thing from Old Navy with pearl-ish snap buttons) and art -- a play at LSU.

I thought the acting, sets/props and production values were great, and the concept of the play was interesting. But the play itself ...

As a story just about this one obese girl who meets a hot bodied guy, they fall in love but he's superficial and his coworkers rag on him about dating a fat chick, it felt forced and fake, and there were no sympathetic characters.

But thinking about it more, maybe the far fetched, non-adult, extreme dialogue was the point. But certainly felt like the main character wasn't true to herself. She was strong and over-the-top at the beginning/not taking crap from anyone. Then at the end she's sobbing and broken instead of getting mad and standing up for herself. Honestly I was disappointed by the ending.

And I don't think the play's message can be applied more broadly -- as commentary on society's views of fatness (see should fatties get a room (even on TV) controversy). It just makes even less sense.

But was fun to get out of the house, see culture that made me think and want to write another post.

In the Market for a Bike

There was a brief window of warm, comfortable weather in which to bike. Now it's almost too chilly! But tomorrow I'm going to try anyway, borrowing a bike from a friend to see if I like it. I'm so close to work that biking would make much more sense than driving, especially when the weather is nice.

I'm thinking when I buy one it will be a cheapy Walmart version, hopefully purple, yeah? And I like the comfort models -- like a beach bike. Last time I rode a bike was on Governor's Island. Once I get one, automatic blog post with pictures!

Big football game this weekend. Hope I can survive and keep out of the traffic patterns when I go get Shawn from the airport. Huzzah!

2010 Voting Experience

I voted in a fire truck bay this year.

And the machines were still more advanced than the old timey ones they use in New York, where you have to pull a lever to cast your vote.

In Baton Rouge I pushed a button to cast the vote!

The method they used to track voters was a binder of printed out names that they checked off. And then yelled out our names across the table and spelled them out for another guy to write them on a separate print list. I thought that was really weird, but whatever. He misspelled my name Marylin?! I corrected him though, as I'm sure you would expect.

Work today was one of the worst in a long time. Just not enough to do and little direction or communication. It will swing back to being super busy next week when the travel stars. But anyway, I just felt yechy as the day dragged on -- and too focused on myself and how bad I felt.

Also doesn't help that Shawn's been gone and I'm off balance because of that. Time to go work out and try to regain some balance... Two more sleeps 'til he's home!

Bonus: Laconic

Webcamming with my sister and nephew means I stay at the computer and my brain thinks of other things to write and look up.

One of the best things anyone ever called me was laconic. I don't think it was a compliment, but I love it anyway. I was reminded of it when someone at work today said they didn't know if I was there because I was/am so quiet. Via Merriam-Webster:
using or involving the use of a minimum of words : concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious
(Emphasis mine)

Latin laconicus Spartan, from Greek lakōnikos; from the Spartan reputation for terseness of speech
First Known Use: 1589
Doesn't that sound like me? (In an audible kind of way. I write more than is necessary, obviously.)

Also I got two "like it" to posting my baby picture. So what if they were from my mom and my husband? They're my two favorite blog readers anyhow! Today is Nov. 3, but I don't have a picture of me at age three. When I go home maybe I can scan a few in from the family albums and do the 1-30 birthday project toward the end of the month.

Read: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For some reason I thought this was set in New Orleans or somewhere in Louisiana. Not so much. BUT it is a southern tale and pretty interesting, although I wouldn't say it's as good as a novel. (Yes, I read fiction.) Definitely lots of intrigue and some voodoo.

View all my reviews

This is kind of a cop out post, but finished this book today and thought I'd write it up. One thing I hate, hate, hate about Good Reads is its feed. I don't want every book I read to go out in an e-mail to people. But if I forget to uncheck the box I think it does. And there's no way to delete it -- like you can delete something from your Facebook feed/wall/whatever. Ugh, my reading material isn't always stuff worth sharing.

Now I just need to get back to the library to return the book ... and maybe check out another title or two. I have a list of "to read" going in about 10 different places, but always welcome new ideas.

What Do You Do?

A new friend asked me this, and I did my best to explain my job, even though parts of it are still a mystery to me. I am cryptic about my work here because I'd rather my professional life not collide with this blog, although it would take someone very little time to find this once they know my e-mail address. I've got silvermari covered on most parts of the web. I am more open about who I work for on Facebook though because I figured it's expected that I'll have a Facebook page. A vanity blog ... not so much?

But without being too specific, I am a communications specialist. Right now my job is focused on helping to facilitate some public meetings and will continue to be the focus for a while, getting more involved in meetings to come in the future, down to booking the room, advertising the meetings, taking notes, reporting out, etc.

I also do some web work and social media around the subject matter, although not enough for my liking. I also am hindered by layers of clearance procedures, which are necessary but still a pain. I am a point of contact for the public, but so far the inquiries have been minimal. That will heat up and hopefully I will become more eloquent and fully aware of my subject matter and empowered/cleared to speak!

The adjustment from small organization to big government has been tough, and I'm still rocky. There's no more blogging for work. I touch a little bit more of the media relations side of things, but still very peripheral. For the most part I seem to have positioned myself as a communications content creator and not really a public relations person. I think that's the right move for my particular skill set and interests, but we'll see.

I also am finding that I'm very self conscious or oddly proud about my educational background. I find myself saying "I'm trained as a journalist" or "when I was in grad school," which is obnoxious and embarrassing.

A lot of what I do is obnoxious and embarrassing though. Just ask Shawn.


Thirty for 30

Start of National Blog Post Month, and I'm aiming to write a post every day this month. Going to be tough, given the amount of travel I have scheduled, but here goes nothing.

I thought it would be cute to post a picture of me from each birthday, since there are 30 days and on Nov. 26 I'll have had 30 birthdays (or is it 29?) In any case, I don't have photos of all my birthdays. I've posted baby pictures of Shawn but not really any of me that I can recall. So here's me on my first birthday in Frederick, Okla.

November 2010 started with perfect-for-me weather -- cool, cloudy, drizzly. Tonight it's even storming! Only way it could be better is if November started on a Thursday, my favorite day of the week, and if Shawn had been next to me when I woke up! He's at a conference and will be home on Saturday. Not wishing my life away, but I'll be glad when he's home. I used to think living alone was the bees knees, but I've come to rely on his company and calming presence.

Until tomorrow ...

Sixth Year Stretch

I met my husband at a Halloween party six years ago. This is what I looked like then:

I don't have any pictures of Shawn from that era. But he was, as he is, cute as anything.

NaBloPoMo starts tomorrow. Yikes. Better get my writing face on. Until tomorrow ...


I drove/rode more than 600 miles around the state this week for meetings.

And I survived. I took more than 60 pages of notes. And have more meetings and travel to come in November. I hope I can make it through ... AND with NaBloPoMo how will I keep up?

I also found out a meeting in Mississippi is set for the Monday of Thanksgiving, when I planned to be in California. I can't sort everything out until this Monday, but an already packed travel month just got a lot more complicated. No matter what I do I'm going to feel awful. And the week of my birthday.

Pre-worrying won't get me anywhere, so hopefully I can get some rest this weekend and be a little less emotional when I'm not so exhausted!

Spinning Hands

I'm a rule follower. Part of me wishes I were more flexible -- or looked out for number one a bit more. What I'm thinking of is the way I work. Basically I consider my 8:30-5 to belong to my employer (minus a half hour for lunch if I can manage). BUT I allow my employer to have MORE of my time if they want it. They pay me for that time and technically I can take unpaid leave later, but still I feel like I can't go in an hour late after coming home at 10 every night after these meetings. Even a coworker commented on it -- that I don't have to go in so early after late nights. I don't think I can let myself relax!

Tomorrow will be the last meeting, and my plans to go to New Orleans on Friday for a meeting didn't pan out -- so I will have a relaxing, regular work day in jeans on Friday. And work hours 52-60 or something like that. I've already worked nearly 40 hours and it's only Wednesday. More than 80 hours for the two week period because there was overtime LAST week because of a field trip. Here are some photos:

Looks very similar to the previous field trip shots -- same hat and glasses -- but different type of boat. This was a bay boat I think. And a different photographer. If he ever finds this blog and requests credit then I'll give it to him. :)

Brain Dead

Am working almost non-stop this week. Basically four 13-hour days. Last night, after the first one, I managed to lock my car and apartment keys inside my office. Thankfully I have a husband who brought me his car key and who let me in to the apartment when I finally got home (at about 10:45 p.m.). Am going to do my best to keep it a little bit more together today. Just wanted to issue that quick missive. Carry on!


On my field trip on Thursday we were in marsh, which means gnats apparently. I'm learning a lot about my new state ... and I have the bites to prove it. Of course my body is whacked out and reacts in a delayed fashion. Seriously still finding hives or welts now and flipping out about potential bed bugs. Shawn has checked the bed, we've washed all the sheets and thankfully nothing. If they are bed bug bites I probably got them in the hotel. But probably a better bet that it was the gnats, since I checked the hotel bed before I went to sleep!

The field trip was OK. Certainly better than I expected. I worried about sea sickness, but I didn't take bug spray! Like I said, I'm learning... Anyway, the beauty of the water and expansive skies never fails to amaze me. Just like when we were out on our cruise, I was blown away by the beauty of sea and sky. There was a time when it was loud on the boat and no one was near me as we skipped along the water so I sang a little bit of Awesome God.

My photos were pretty lame, but the videographer got some good stuff AND we saw dolphins! Apparently they follow the boats.

I'll add the videographer's photos of me soon. I have so many posts going in my head but will have next to no time this week to write. IF I were smart I would have pre-written some this weekend. Maybe next weekend ... although starting next Monday, Nov. 1 I'll have to make a post a day no matter what!


Ever heard that word? Was an answer to a Mensa puzzle this weekend on our calendar. Shawn had fun calling Owen a flibbertigibbet (silly, flighty person). Maybe it will replace doofenschmirtz in our vocabulary?!

(Owen, Beth and my mom were visiting this weekend. It was fall break.)

Shawn bought a mini pumpkin at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and I used a Sharpie to give it a scary face. In practicing with my new work camera (Canon Rebel, what?!) I got this picture. And it makes the pumpkin look better, oranger (more orange?) than it is in real life. (Although it's pretty cute in real life too.)

So during this weekend's visit I practiced with the camera using my favorite model -- Owen Max! He is not as obliging as he was when he was a baby, but the camera can get action shots even when he was running around. So that was pretty cool. I'll load those and detail our adventures in a separate post (gotta get my count up!).

For now I need to scoot to the gym, then back to continue laundry and then dive into some side project work. Not enough days in the week or hours in the days ...

Want to Order a Crochet Hat?

Thanks for your interest in silvermari crochet hats . Most of what I make are sized for infants and toddlers, although I can size up and dow...