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...

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