Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Decade? Really?

So, it just occurred to me yesterday that a decade is coming to a close today. Not just a year, but a decade. I've seen all the "best of the decade" lists and such. But it just sunk in yesterday.

How did a decade go by so fast? I was just a kid when 2000 arrived. I was literally packing my things to move out of my parents house. I was just getting started in my first job out of college.

And in ten years?

I've lived on my own, taken care of myself, paid my own bills. I've fallen apart and put myself back together again (with some help). I bought a car. I've run countless miles. I've lapped the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I've run though the tunnel and on to the field at Notre Dame Stadium. I've crossed the finish line on Boylston. I've fallen love. I've gotten married. I've had my heart broken and put back together again. I've established myself in a career. I've taught countless kids how to multiply and divide and to love books and reading and The Beatles. I've seen U2 13 times. I saw Tina Turner once. I've helped welcome nieces and goddaughters and nephews. I entered my 30s. I've watched history. I've helped make history. I've been happy. I've been sad. I've fought. I've cried. I've laughed and laughed.

This is the first time in my life a decade seemed to go fast.

Somewhere in the last ten years, I turned in to a grown-up.

(Or something like that....)

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Recap Time

So, this year Christmas was, um, weird. I can't think of another word for it. Things seemed a little off. It all seemed kind of skewed. It wasn't a bad Christmas. It was a lovely Christmas. It was just a different Christmas.

Instead of being about those big, long-standing traditions, it was more about the little moments. Those tiny bits of time where Hubby and I were together, just us, stand out in my memory.

Like stealing away for a Pre Christmas Maddness lunch.

Like remembering people who are no longer with us.

Like making ourselves a "fancy Christmas Eve dinner." (We even lit the candles!)

Like sharing some soy nog before opening our gifts to each other.

Like the silly things we noticed while making casserole to take to Grandma's.

Like finding out the new toys get along with the old toys. (And no. We have no children.)

Little moments that added up to a wonderful, odd holiday.

(This was my intended You Capture post this week. If Beth's post comes up, I'll link it later...)


As far back as I can remember, this particular week of the year has always seemed very bittersweet to me. Christmas is over. My birthday is over. (Those two days I would wait for all year as a child, over and done; two days in a row.) Christmas break is almost over. The year is almost over. There was still the lingering happiness of the holidays, but it just always seemed like everything was over. That childhood sadness still gets to me a little bit every year.

This year, somehow, it's a little bit different. The bittersweetness is there, but just as an undercurrent. This year, there seems to be more sweet than bitter.

Maybe it's the brightness of the snow that's fallen over the past three days. ( I love love love snow.)

Maybe it's the deer that have decided to eat from our bird feeder each morning at 5:30.

Maybe it's the Hubby Decree that the celebrations that started last week will, in fact, last a full week.

I'm not sure how or why. But it's different. More sweet. Less bitter.

This week I'm luxuriating. Sleeping in under flannel sheets. Hot cups of tea and a stack of new books while curled up under a warm quilt on the couch. Lunches with friends. Dates with Hubby. Eating too much. Running in the snow. Watching deer eat from the bird feeder.

I'm enjoying these moments that don't come nearly as often as they should. Or maybe they come and I'm just too busy or distracted to notice them.

This week I'm not thinking about what next week brings. I'm making memories that will make me smile when I think about them next week.

I'm letting the bitter slide away and enjoying every single sweet moment that this week-long celebration brings.

(And it's working.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Cake Topper

So, for my birthday, Hubby really went all out. He soooo wanted me to have the perfect day. We had lunch at my favorite restaurant. He even got it to snow (that perfect kind of snow, with the big, fluffy flakes that swirl around like powder) so I could go on a snow picture-taking spree. (I'm a big fan of snow.)

But the topper was the cake.

Chocolate cake. With chocolate filling. And buttercream frosting.

From a bakery.

With Bono.

How hilarious is that? How perfect is that? How sweet is that?

Um. Very. On all counts.

Apparently, there was some confusion at the bakery, so there was a worry that I'd get a Sonny Bono cake instead of a Bono cake. But that would have been (almost) funnier.

And there was some confusion before cutting in to the cake, as my aunt made the statement that the picture on the cake looked nothing like me at all. Uh-huh.

It was awesome. (So's he.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I am:

a woman
a lady
a girl
a daughter
a sister
a friend
a wife
an in-law
an aunt
a godmother
a bff
a runner
a teacher
a yogi
a baker
a reader
an environmentalist
an activist
a pacifist
a chocoholic
a vegetarian
a U2 fan
a stress ball
a worrier
a perfectionist
an ear
a shoulder
a warm beverage drinker
a dork
in love
nothing special
no one of consequence
trying to make a smaller footprint
thirty-five years old today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Christmas

So, it's shaping up to be a pretty low key pre-holiday here.

Christmas Eve will be just Hubby and me. That's never happened before. There used to be a function at my aunt and uncle's home, but not this year. We had invited some family for lunch, but they can't make it. So it's just us.

We have gingerbread bagels to enjoy for breakfast. We're (and by "we" I mean "Hubby") making pea soup for lunch. I'm sure hot cocoa will be involved at some point. Most likely fudge (because we've got lots). And we have soy egg nog, too. Maybe an evening walk to look at Christmas lights. I'll have to make the coffeecake for Christmas breakfast. I'm sure at least one viewing of A Christmas Story will be in order, because even though it's on for 24 hours, I always manage to see the same part over and over again.

It's a little bittersweet, though. Part of me likes the idea of just the two of us making our way through the day. It might be a nice rest-up before the madness and bustle of Christmas Day itself (a beautiful madness and bustle, but still, madness and bustle). But part of me kind of misses the idea of some Christmas Eve bustle. (Which is kind of odd, since I don't really like gatherings or parties, you know?)

Regardless of it all, the Christmas Dork in me waits all year for this magical stretch of days. And either with an extended family, or my little family of two, I'm so so so happy it's here!

Happy Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like...

The snow just makes it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stop me before I bake again!

Seriously. What am I thinking?

I already have the sugar cookies, pfeffernuss, peanut butter balls and (nutless) fudge from the last baking spree. But somehow, yesterday I decided that just wasn't enough. So I did this

and this

and this.

That (nut-full) fudge is on a plate because it wouldn't fit in here

with the rest of the (nut-full) fudge. And those were the last remaining glad-ware in my house that were not already full of edible crap.

Seriously. Who's going to eat all of this?

In addition to everything that came before, that is.

It's just me and Hubby. And I am giving it my all, don't get me wrong. But he ate two pieces of (nut-full) fudge then asked where the jalapeno popcorn was. And he was the one who thought fudge with nuts was a good idea.

I might have a problem. I'm looking into 12 step programs.

It's probably a good thing Christmas only comes once a year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It is Monday....

I slept in this morning. Two hours later than normal.

When I got up, I did yoga. I did not run. Or get on the elliptical. Or go for a walk.

I took a long, hot shower. I did not shave.

I filled the bird feeder with bird seed.

I went to my favorite cafe and got a chai for me and some coffee for Hubby.

Now I am going to sit on my couch under a big, warm quilt and read my book and drink my chai.

Then I am going to make some pretzel-related candy.

Then I am going to cut up (eat) a pan of fudge.

Then I am going to make some tea and get back under my big, warm quilt and read my book some more.

Because I am on Christmas break.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Making Tracks

Today I ran in the snow for the fist time this year.

I left a perfectly straight trail of footprints behind me.

It was wet and sloppy.

I was splashed by a few passing cars (because not everyone feels the need to move over a bit for the runners).

It was windy. It was cold.

My knee was creaking more than usual with all the moisture in the air.

Little ice daggers were hitting my eyes.

And I had the biggest smile on my face.

I love running at this time of year more than any other.

I think it's fun defying the elements.

So if you hear someone outside your window, early in the morning, giggling?

That's probably just me out running. =^)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You Capture - Christmas Decor

I love Christmas. Seriously. A lot. I'm what is known as a Christmas Dork.

All year long, I look forward to this magical time from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Because I truly believe it IS magical. It has the potential to bring out the very best in people (although it sometimes brings out the very worst, if I'm to believe some of the things I see in various stores....). There is this feeling (yes, I'll say it) in the air that truly good things are possible. That maybe, just maybe, people really do care about each other. That maybe they want to help each other. Maybe they want the best for each other. I think that all the time, but this time of year, other people seem to think it, too.

I believe in Santa Claus.

I cry when Frosty melts (every single time). My heart breaks for Rudolph and Hermie and the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys. Don't start me on Cindy Lou Who who was no more than two. And Charlie Brown and that tree.... Oh. My. Gosh.

This is My Time. Everything about it is full of tradition and special-ness.

Witness the following.....

I begged Mom to buy this for me when I was about 7. (I think. But I also seem to think that most things in my life happened when I was 7, so I could be wrong about that.) I have no idea what he is, but I love him. Something about him is too adorable for words. He went with me when I moved out of my parents. He is the first ornament on the tree (and the last one off) every year.

These two have been around for every Christmas in my memory. They have faded and changed slightly over the years. They no longer hang from a branch, but must be strategically affixed to one. But they captured my imagination as a small child and never let go. I have made up many, many stories about these birds and their lives and adventures. I wish I had written them down rather than just said them to myself. I stole them from Mom's tree when I moved to my own house. It is the second ornament on my tree every year.

This is the first really nice Christmas thing I ever bought on my own. It's a pottery dish. It's shaped like a star. I think it's beautiful. Every year I have to make up a reason to use it, but that's okay. I find one. If only just to look at it.

I saw this and it reminded me of that dish up there. I find it quirky and odd and I love it. It makes Hubby laugh. And it makes me sing Cherry Pie by Warrant in my head. (Or sometimes not in my head.) This is the third ornament on my tree every year.

Does this even need an explanation? You would have taken him home, too.

This really isn't decor, exactly. Except that I don't really eat them. (Okay, I eat about three.) Mostly I just love the way they look. Grandma used to have these in her house at Christmas time, and I thought they were sooooooo cool. So every year I buy them and put them in my candy dish and just look at them as I pass by.

I am not really a religious person. But I do have a nativity. This is it. It's painted on a seed.

Take in everything this week before Christmas has to offer you. Enjoy every moment.

And take a trip to Beth's to see how everyone else spruces up their homes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Baking With Grandma

I started baking when I was small. I would bake with my Grandma. At Christmas time, we would bake big. And complicated. And fun. It would take all day. And sometimes into the night.

I would sleep over. She'd let me drink Kay-O late at night. She made toast with butter and honey for a snack. She read me stories. She knitted me sweaters (I still wear the hat that matched the green and blue stripped one). She'd take me to Burger Chef to get French toast for breakfast. Let let me go to the library with her while she was working (and sometimes drink a bottle of orange soda from the little refrigerator behind the desk). She took me to see My Fair Lady at the high school, then played the songs on her piano so we could sing them. When she was in Florida, she would tape record herself reading stories and send them to me. We always heard Lay Down Sally on the radio when we were falling asleep.

She passed away when I was in fourth grade. And I miss her every day.

But every Christmas time, we have a date. She meets me in my kitchen, and we bake, just like we used to.

I'm so glad she can make it, even if it's not quite the same.

The Big Metal Graveyard

So it's 7:30 on Sunday morning. I have yet to stretch, run, shower, etc. But I am waiting for the Sears Man to come and install the new dryer.

Our dryer died on Wednesday night. It was a sad occasion. It was running. Then it wasn't.

Granted, this was a long, slow process. We knew it was coming. But it's still a bit of a shock, and very sad when it does. I mean, let's face it, you're never really prepared.

And this seems to happen often over here. I'm pretty sure my house is where big metal goes to die.

The stove? We didn't even give it a chance. Bought a new one before we ever even moved in. Next week when you're watching 24 Hours of A Christmas Story check out the stove. That's what was in the house when we bought it. Not as retro decor. As the stove.

Then the washing machine passed on.

Then the air conditioner.

Then the air conditioner.

Then the air conditioner.

And the furnace.

(You've heard that story already, though.)

You could even throw in the garage door opener.

All that's left is the refrigerator. And that's on it's last legs, too.

And we've only lived here for five years. Is that a lot? It feels like it.



I await the arrival of the new dryer. While I have missed the old one these past days, I am happy that the new one is on it's way.

I have mountains of laundry waiting to be done.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tiger's not the only one.....

Please. Please don't tell.

But I'm having an affair.

I'm cheating on Target.

With Wal-Mart.

I know!

I shouldn't do it. I'm not unhappy with Target. It didn't do anything wrong. It's not Target. It's me.

Something about those long hours, alone with Wal-Mart last week. They changed me. I see Wal-Mart in a new light. A brighter light. I thought they only had things like Christmas ornaments of Santa holding a gun. But I looked around, and I saw things I never expected to see there. Like organic unbleached flour. And a really cute long sleeve t-shirt for $6. A button down for $9. A tote bag, with Bono on it (yes, Bono!), for $7.

There were $7 sweatshirts. And Muppet Show flannel pajamas. And cute binder clips. And packages of M&Ms that are all green (only the green M&Ms!). Even the produce looked good!

Who knew? Not me. But I know now. And I keep going back for more.

I'm not leaving Target. Not at all.

I think we're just "on a break."

Please don't be mad at me.

I just need some time to work this out of my system.

Things will be back to normal soon. I promise.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You Capture - Lines

So, lines. Okay.

First I took these:

Then I realized that I take a lot of pictures of food. (Okay, of chocolate.) So I thought I should try again.

And I took these:

And then I realized that the best line is "no line."

You, too, can fall in line over at Beth's.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Haiku - Holiday version

I see the photo
of Santa and think that, yes,
I do still believe.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

List Time (Again) (With photos)

1. I have spent waaaaay too much time in Wal-Mart in the past 7 days. It was productive, for sure. But that's a whole lotta Wal-Mart.

2. Sometimes in Wal-Mart, you find something amazing.

I know! I couldn't not get it! It's a Bono Bag!

3. It feels good to find a pink basketball for the girl whose mother wrote that her daughter wanted a pink basketball.

4. But the mother who wrote that her daughter wanted panty liners for Christmas. Um. We'll have to find something else for her. There has to be a line drawn somewhere in this Christmas for Kids thing. I think we found it.

5. I had the opportunity to spend two hours yesterday talking to Grandma about her life. Just her and me. It was two of the greatest hours ever. She's had one amazing life.

6. Yesterday I ran what was, I think, the single worst race I have ever run ever. Maybe the worst race anyone has ever run. It sucked. I felt awful. I'm glad that's done.

7. Mini muffins are one amazing invention. I prefer to not think how many mini muffins it would take to equal one maxi muffin. I'll just enjoy them.

8. It's becoming harder and harder to convince myself that the puffiness of my stomach is digestive-issue related and not just I've been eating tons of crap related. I'm not sure where I'll go with that. But I do know it's only December 6 and there is still a lot of crap out there in December just waiting to be eaten.

9. Some crap that's waiting to be eaten.
There's a lot of yum in there.

10. I'm inclined to believe that this spot on my sweater sleeve is not water, but oil. I think this because it has yet to "dry." This oil spot will not stop me from wearing this sweater. It will just cause me to point the spot out to friends and passers-by, apparently so they can see how careless I can be when baking. (But I prefer to call it "in the zone.")

11. My hands are so dry right now! I can't quite figure out the hand sanitizer to hand lotion ration that keeps me feeling germ free yet fully moisturized. It's a work in progress.

12. It makes me very happy that this is my view in the morning.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You Capture - Happy Story

The story of Saturday afternoon.....

It's technically the story of celebrating our anniversary, but it's a pretty typical Saturday afternoon. Still. It's this beautiful pocket of happy every week.

There are more happy stories to tell over at Beth's. Enjoy.