Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Helping This Girl Scrapbook

creative mess
A week before Valentine's Day, my teenage godddaughter texted me and asked if I was free that weekend.

I wasn't, but she rarely asks this sort of thing, so I replied: "I'm not, but I can be -- what's up?"

The Girl wanted to make her boyfriend a scrapbook for Valentine's Day. She had asked her mom for help. Now, her mom (my BFF) knows pretty much everything, and could have easily helped her. But my BFF is a great friend and not possessive as a mother.

So she said: "Oh no, Auntie Mishie is the scrapbooking expert! If you want help, you have to ask HER." Hence the very welcome text I got, out of the blue.

So, I was excited. I rearranged what I could of my schedule and we made plans. I sent The Girl many texts with suggestions. Have your photos printed out already. Pull together or collect some memorabilia to add to it. Make a list of topics or themes you want to include. Song lyrics and movie quotes make great journaling additions. I went through my own supplies, many of which had not even been unpacked from my move. I pulled anything red, anything love related (I have very little since "romantic" projects are not my norm), a lot of sticker letters, and a pack of quote stickers. I even had the remnants of a red and pale blue kit I got from CKU-A convention that I attended here in Chicago in about 2006 (scrapbooks and scrapbooking supplies just last forever). I put together a kit of tools for her to use, including my new paper trimmer, a supply of adhesives, some letter stamp sets.

We only had one afternoon to shop, figure out what to do, and get her started. The Girl had a couple of hours every day to work on it, for a week. I picked her up from church on Sunday and we zoomed to Michael's. In the car, she looked through the kit I'd brought, the red papers, and the accents. She had made a list on her phone of the various "themes".

I get really "bossy" when there is a lot to do and not a lot of time. I don't mean to be! But coming from a production background, I want to go-go-go! She was cool with that, did not take offense, and listened carefully to everything I said. I loved that.

We got to the store and I started zooming down the scrapbooking aisles, looking for kits we might buy, looking for the smaller albums, talking a mile-a-minute, telling her everything I knew, everything she might need to know. I left The Girl alone to look at the kits and see if there was one that would work for her (there wasn't). We checked out the clearance section and there she decided to buy an 8 x 11 black album that had 2 "frames" on the cover, one for a photo and one for a family name. It only had 5 sleeves and they didn't have more for sale, but I told her that usually regular office page protectors will work in that size album.

Then we looked at the papers and the stickers, ribbons, and other accents. She took my advice and bought a $3.99 pack of black cardstock to use as her page backs. We looked for 3-D stickers and smaller paper in her various themes. It's hard to find scrapbook items for things a teenage boy might be interested in! We looked for: wrestling, volleyball, country music, trucks, the park, picnics, and other themes. She loved and bought several rolls of themed and printed ribbon. Many items were on sale, but not all, and the store clerk kindly found us a coupon. She paid for her stash (I was not pitching in, since this was a gift from her to him) and off we went to pick up her photos.

At home, we cleared a space and got going. She listened to all my advice and suggestions -- except for one. I personally never start a gift album with the cover or the title page. It takes me a while to "warm up" and I don't like my design mistakes to be the first impression. I always start with a middle page. There is nothing wrong with my first pages, they are just not my very best.

The Girl preferred to start with her first page, so we did that first. We looked through her photos. I talked about focal points and title pages. She had many cute photos of the 2 of them together -- but she had one really great photo of just their boots. They had been laying on the grass in the park and she took a photo of their feet. I loved that photo, and it was "different" from a regular photo of them smiling. I sketched some ideas on how to frame it. I showed her how to eyeball a mat, how to use the paper trimmer arm as a ruler. She got to work.

working hard to make it happen

She loved the idea of wrapping some of her ribbon around a frame and tying a bow. The ribbon was gold glitter ribbon, so tying it was not an option. Never fear, Auntie Mishie used to work in a gift shop with free gift wrap and has handmade many bows in her day. The Girl moved on to another page idea while I fiddled with the ribbon and glue dots, getting gold glitter all over the place.

While I messed with the bow (always making sure to check with her and make sure it was exactly as she liked it) she completed two more pages.

She kept stopping and saying, "This is so cute!" and "I love this! I want to keep it!"

The joys of scrapbooking.

And the surreal nature of it. This darling girl is the closest to my own daughter I will ever come, but we are not genetically related. Yet there she was doing exactly what I did and acting exactly as I do when I scrapbook, even when I hadn't demonstrated the behavior. "Where is the x-acto knife?" she would say to herself, holding paper in place with one hand, picking up piles of stickers and other accents with the other, patting piles and feeling for tools. She would hold accents up to other items, and I, sitting across the table from her, could watch the wheels turn in her mind as she made choices and decisions.

It was just adorable. You know that feeling?

so pleased with her work
I made design suggestions, and she would adapt them to suit herself. We have radically different "styles". I like a rather rustic style. I love tearing paper, inking edges, distressing, stapling items. She has a more "teen girl" style, she likes straight edges, everything even, and a lot of sparkle and bling. She asked me for advice and sometimes she took it.

I got to see her so pleased when a page came out exactly as she wanted. I LOVE that feeling! And I love that she got to have it.

We worked for a few hours and then I had to go. All week, I checked on her and kept showing her my interest and concern. I texted her often to see how it was going, to make sure she had found some page protectors that fit to add in. I told her she could come by during the week if she needed more of anything, and "shop my stash". She and her mom came by on Thursday evening because she needed paper in more colors, and had run out of glue. I raced around before they arrived, organizing what was still in bins and baskets, pulling more things she might like to take.

Going through my supplies pumped up my creative juices. I found myself wanting to urgently get back into this hobby that's been mostly on hold for 5 years. I have made numerous gift albums and enjoyed it, but there are so many of my own stories I still want to tell.

On Saturday The Girl and her boy were celebrating Valentine's Day. She took pictures of all her pages and texted them to me. I ooohed and aaaaaaahed. I loved what she did. Even though the book was about "him" -- a scrapbook is really about the creator. It's your vision, your eye. You choose the photos and decide where to put them. She hand wrote details and stories that I had suggested, she included song lyrics and wrote up the menu for their park picnics, she included memorabilia, and made a lot of pages. I told her I really wanted to hear the story of how he reacted.

On Sunday I got another text from her. Oh, he loved it. A teenage boy got a scrapbook about him, and he was so pleased. She said he had a big smile on his face. He kept saying things like: "Oh I remember this!" and "This was a fun day" and "Hey babe, I love that song!"

On the last page, she put a picture of herself wearing her already-purchased prom dress (she is a thrifty shopper and looks for dresses right after New Years), holding a sign and asking him to her Senior Prom.

I'm pretty sure he said yes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Having a Meltdown

I know intellectually that I am losing weight, getting strong, getting fit, losing the flab. I take pictures and I hold them up to other pictures to try and see it. I say to myself, this is Before and this is Now.

I can now feel some of my arm muscles without flexing (hello triceps, glad to meet you) and that is exciting. It means the layer of soft padding atop is getting thinner. I know some of my more fitted slacks (goodbye jeans) are too loose in the waist to wear any more and they had to go.

But to myself, honestly, I still look the same. I'm the same person. Most of my clothes that I wear every day are the same. Most of them still fit. Maybe a little looser, but I am used to looser clothes. I feel comfortable in loose clothes. In my previous post there is a picture of me with this band, and I am wearing a typical outfit: a loose, soft dress worn as a tunic over a cami and leggings. I see that picture of myself and to me, I look the same as I always have.

So yesterday...

I wore this top to work that I have always really liked. For various reasons (related to moving last Feb, boxes being packed, changing seasons, laundry rotation, etc) I have not worn it in over a year. This top is stretchy like most of my tops. But it is a little more clingy than I usually wear. A little more form fitting. I still liked it and wore it often.

Basically I know in my head, in my mind, how I look in this item of clothing. I have an expectation there, is what I am saying. People see what they want to see. They see what they expect to see.

I had finally unpacked this top and washed it; it was sitting there and the slacks that work well with it were also available. So I put on this ensemble I have worn many times before, did not look at myself in the mirror (other than to check my hair and make up), and headed off to work. There, I sat at my desk and I did my usual thing all day.

In the middle of my afternoon I went to the ladies room, as you do, and stopped at the sink to scrub my hands, as I do. The ladies room at my work is not a place where you want to be looking at yourself. The light is very unflattering. It always makes me look old and tired. I try not to really use the mirror in there, except for a quick everything ok? good glance. Which I did. Then I had the strangest experience....

There was the "me" I should have been seeing, in the outfit I was used to wearing... but the woman in the mirror bore a resemblance to that "me" only. It was not me. It kind of looked like me but it was not me.

I can only describe it like this:

It was like I went to sleep, woke up, and suddenly 45 lbs was gone. Suddenly I saw what I look like right now, at this moment. It was almost like being drunk and seeing double. The regular me that I expected to see, that I always see, was a faded and transparent image, laying over the actual real me.

People see what they want to see. They see what they expect to see. That was not what I expected to see.

You might think this was a positive experience, and I won't say it was wholly terrible. But it was also a moment of complete shock. Once I got over that shock, there was a meltdown. It was not epic in any way, but no one wants to have a meltdown at work, ever, especially not me. At least I got some privacy before I lost my mind.

Maybe it would not phase you to look at yourself in the mirror and suddenly see a stranger there. Someone who looks like you, but is not really you. Looking back at you. It is freaky and scary and I was not prepared.

One of the reasons I write this stuff on my blog is because the only information I personally see out there on fitness and weightloss relates to the physical realities. Eat this, don't eat that, do this, don't do that, here is how your body will respond. The numbers on a scale, the muscles, the amount of fat, the BMI, the size of your clothes, the number of miles you can run, and so on.

If you wonder (as I have) why in the heck this basic information doesn't automatically mean everyone out there is super thin and super fit, my own theory is that none of this addresses the much bigger aspect of the process. There is a whole mental component to it that goes far beyond making yourself go to the gym and say no to pizza.

You might think (and I sure thought), but hey I want to be a different me! That's the point of this whole thing, isn't it? I would have said that all up and down. It's not untrue.

I'm just saying.... there is something about being a stranger to your own self that is unsettling and creepy and even kind of scary.

It was just all at once. All those TV shows and magazine cover stories about losing weight and getting fit and having some wonderful make over don't talk about it. They act like it's not even an issue. But I say, it is. If it wasn't people would only need to lose weight ONCE. No one would ever go back to the way they were.

But so many of us do. So many of us run away from that stranger, back to the place where we know the landscape.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Tuatha Dea concert!

Last weekend my lovely best friend treated me to tickets to see one of her favorite bands, TUATHA DEA. You can hear some samples of their music here.

I had never heard of them, but she was super excited they were coming to Chicago.

She was coming to the event a little later but her son, his girlfriend, and I arrived early for some pre show festivities.

We started our night with a drumming workshop, led by the band, and we learned some wonderful rhythms and practiced our techniques. I feel a little more confident using my own drum now.

Then there was the celebration of Bride, the forge of creativity, and the Calling of Spring. The band stayed in the background and drummed softly through it all. What a wonderful accompaniament. It made everything twice as good.

Finally it was 8:00pm and time for the show to start. My friend showed up and generously bought our tickets for the concert. We went into the main room. We danced like crazy. We sang along to the songs we knew, the Cranberries, Queen, Heart. We clapped and cheered. The voices were amazing, the drumming was amazing. I don't even have a better word.

Pictures from the show>>>

Of course I finished off the night with a picture taken with the fabulous tattooed kilted band members...

All in all a fantastic evening, and now I can say, I am a HUGE fan of Tuatha Dea and I will go to see them whenever I can. Check them out.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fat Girl Loses 44 lbs, World Keeps on Turning

Last February I got a referral from my Primary Care Physician (PCP) to see a specialist about my back. I'd finally had 3 MRIs and they had been reviewed by a radiologist. These were all steps required by my insurance plan in order to get the referral.

So in Feb I took time off work and drove out to Oak Brook IL. I sat in a waiting room of a neurosurgeon and spinal specialist. I was there on time, right before lunch. I sat in the waiting room, starving, over 2 hours, before I was called back. Then I had to wait more. Then his (young, female) assistant came in, examined me, looked at my MRIs.

I was very embarrassed. Due to my back pain, I could not bend or twist at all, and I couldn't stand very long in the shower. I hadn't been able to shave in months, and she put me in these little disposable shorts for my exam. I was cold, tired, and hungry. I felt exposed, and ugly.

Finally, over 3 hours past my appointment time, the doctor came in. He looked at my chart, talked me, with his assistant, had me walk and stand the same as she had, and pulled up my MRIs.

I spent maybe 20 minutes max with him. He told me there was nothing wrong with my back. Nothing. There was nothing on my MRIs. We looked at them together. He pointed out all the different parts of the spine he was looking at. I had a back MRI and a neck MRI. I had MRI with contrast and without.


He reverted to the same conclusion maybe a non-medical specialist might have. It must be my weight that caused my problems.

He told me to lose 100 lbs.

I looked at him like he was crazy. And I protested. I don't think I actually asked him out loud if he was insane, but knowing me, maybe I did.

He might as well have told me to cut off my own head. That's how impossible that was. 100 lbs was impossible when I could walk. Not being able to stand, being laid up in bed for days every few months and unable to move due to my neck, and somehow I was supposed to lose 100 lbs?!?!


I'm pretty sure I just repeated that. More than once. In tones of increasing disbelief.

Finally, he looked at me, looked at my bones on the screen, and allowed how 100 lbs was probably not necessary. Because I am, in fact, actually big boned. I have huge bones for a woman. My body type is not petite or delicate. 100 lbs meant back to the amount I weighed at 15 years old, when I was just a young girl, not a full grown, middle aged woman.

He reconsidered my films, thought for a moment, and then he said that if I lost 50 lbs, that would be a healthy weight for someone of my bone structure.

(Still crazy.)

I am sure he wanted to be on to the next patient but I was not putting up with that. I was insistent that he explain further. I had access to his attention and his vast array of medical knowledge and I was determined to use that access to the fullest.

I told him that I had also weighed quite a bit before I had these back problems, Obviously I did gain weight (probably about 20-25 lbs) due my immobility, but I sure had weighed over 200 lbs for many many years, and I had no problems walking or standing. I played volleyball. I had taken up running, for fun. I went to grad school for 2 years and I carted a heavy book bag and a laptop all over campus almost daily. I had also moved twice in grad school, including all the packing and the physical moving and the unpacking required.

I insisted he explain how that was possible if it was my weight causing the problem. He could not explain it. He could not explain my back problems, and I was a big ole fat girl, therefore it must be my weight.

I asked him, insistently and pointedly. how am I supposed to lose a hundred pounds (or fifty) when I cannot walk or stand!?!?

He shook his head, thought for a moment, and then said: "Eat small meals. Five small meals a day."

At that moment, it was close to 3:00 pm, and thanks to his scheduling back up I had not had anything to eat at all, that entire day. It's not like I was constantly stuffing my face. In fact, I had a bad habit of skipping meals entirely.

I left there, and I cried on my slow painful cold walk across the parking lot. It had been a year of taking time off work, going to the hospital, or the Immediate Care Center, numerous tests, physical therapy, needles, procedures, and pain. It seemed that no one could help me. I wondered if I was going to end up in a wheelchair. It was cold and I was hungry and tired and disheartened. I was in pain, and the doctor I went to for help just told me I was too fat.

I have been thinking about that doctor's visit a lot recently. Actually I've been thinking about the last year, recently, and about my OLW for 2013, which was nurture, and how it all panned out, and how I wanted to write about it on here.

At that point I had been going to the gym weekly for about 6 weeks. There was no noticeable (to me or anyone else) change in me physically from doing so.

I went because I was in pain, and when I worked out, I felt better. I was able to move better. I could walk easier and stand longer, even if only on that particular day.

I haven't gotten on my scale in a couple of weeks. There's several days of the month (for me close to a couple of weeks) where a woman should just not get on a scale. The number will be artificially inflated for a variety of biological and hormonal reasons. You know what I mean.

And then, I only want to check my weight in the mornings, before I've eaten, so I need to remember to do so before I leave for work. I don't always remember. But I finally remembered this morning, and nothing was going on that might mess up my weight.

I was shocked to see I am down almost 5 lbs from where I was the last time I weighed. I don't feel like I am being super strict with myself. I had some stressful days last week (don't get me started) and I consumed several items that I would firmly put in the emotional eating because I am stressed category. If you see me eating donuts, it's the eating equivalent of me bumming a cigarette off you, unfiltered, and lighting up.

I just started thinking about this doctor, and how he told me to lose 50 lbs, like oh of course I could do that, and how at the time, it was the worst, most impossible thing ever.

I was thinking about this doctor and how wrong he was (because in April I found this place, I was examined, I went through physical therapy, and within 2 weeks I was able to walk a whole mile without pain, and no I didn't lose 50 lbs to do it).

But I was also thinking about myself and about how wrong I was. How wrong about what I could and could not do. How wrong in my beliefs about myself.

In 6 lbs I will be where that doctor said was a healthy weight for me, for my body and my frame. I will still be considered "obese" by the BMI-lovers out there, and by most of my peer group (I use that term very loosely, to indicate people of my age range living in Western society and victims of the Media Juggernaut).

Right now I am thisclose to the weight I was when I started on Weight Watchers, 10 years ago, when I felt fat and sad and ugly because I was so so so very far away from meeting any societal standard of beauty. When I hated my photos and ignored my physical body as much as possible (until I wanted it to do something, of course). I was at my highest weight ever. It was hopeless for me to even try and be "pretty," so I concentrated on other things in my life and tried to embrace what I did have going for me.

Right now, if I make it to that weight, it will feel like a victory.

Right now, I am in the best shape of my life.

Right now, I can have donuts one day and pancakes with whipped cream the next, and I still lose 5 lbs that week because my metabolism is now revving like a racehorse.

And it's been a year. A whole freaking year. I am not a person who decided to lose weight and take control of my life or whatever meaningless bullshit passes for weightloss inspiration out there, Internetz. I am not a person who started weighing my food or tracking anything. The most I do is check in on Facebook whenever I make it to the gym. I am not a person who bought a treadmill and drags myself on it every day or every other day whether I like it or not. It's been a month to lost this additional 4-5 lbs (fluctuates). I was at -39/40 around Christmas and that was a month ago.

I see people I haven't seen in months, and eventually, maybe, perhaps, they say, "hey you look really good!" No one's mouth drops open when they see me bc of a big change in me. I still wear a lot of my same clothes.

I guess my point, if I even have one, is that on the outside I still look like a fat middle aged woman, and I still carry a lot of my weight in my stomach, and I still don't look good naked (that I can tell, and I'm not having anyone else check that right now), and I still can't enter any kind of beauty pageant.

On the outside I still don't meet those beauty standards. At all. My outside can still be judged. My outside still IS judged, all the time, and always negatively. I'm judged as

* a person who doesn't take care of herself. (FALSE)

* a person who is lazy. (FALSE)

* a person who sits on her ass and eats cheeseburgers and bonbons and shoves crap in her mouth while watching TV. (I have been known to shove crap in my mouth, because we all eat crap sometimes! but I never do it mindlessly, while "watching TV" - FALSE)

* a person who needs to try eating a salad once in a while (I love salad - FALSE)

* a person who doesn't care about health (SO FALSE)

I don't judge myself, the way I used to, when I weighed even less than I do NOW. Because I know. I know the truth, and as usual, what is True and Real cannot ever be seen accurately in a 30 second sound bite (or described a short blog post, apparently).

Last January I decided to Nurture myself, rather than Indulge myself, and see how that went. It was a battle for sure. It's been slow. Glacial in fact.

That could be a bad thing but in fact.... it has been the BEST THING EVER.

This weekend I have plans. This weekend I cannot go to the gym but that is ok, because tomorrow night I will be celebrating Lá Fhéile Bríde. I will be calling to Brighid to come and pleasepleaseplease get rid of this horrible bitter winter. I will be dancing and screaming at a Tuatha Dea concert with a lot of other wild people. I will dance and chant and sing and scream.

And I will give thanks. I will give thanks upon thanks upon thanks. I will scream THANK YOU for taking away my ability to walk. THANK YOU for making it so painful to stand. THANK YOU for the pain. THANK YOU for the despair.

Out of the bitterness, there comes joy.

Out of the darkness, there comes Light.

And out of this bitter winter, there will come spring.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kitchen Leftover Salad

This is my new creation. Inspired by a post on Facebook about making a week's worth of layered salad in mason jars, combined with watching the dude at Subway make me a chopped chicken salad about 5 times since New Years Day. Calling it Kitchen Leftover salad. Or just plain Leftover Salad.

It's basically a chopped salad of all the bits and pieces I have leftover in the house. I am always buying stuff and using half of it or 3/4 of it, and the rest sits until it goes bad and I finally throw it out and replace it.

This salad uses up all those bits and pieces, and it's really different every time I make it. I use up everything I can.

This first time I had:

01. 1/2 a head of iceberg lettuce to start, with the edges going brown
Smash the head on the counter core-down and then pull the core out, remove the wilted outer leaves, cut off and toss the brown areas. Then chop chop chop into small pieces and toss into a big bowl.

You could also use: kale, spinach leaves, romaine hearts, leftovers from a bagged salad, or all of these combined.

02. several chicken tenders I had baked the night before in a seasoning blend I did not like
It just really didn't work out. But I had the chicken and it was cooked, so I chopped it all and tossed it in.

I find I really need a protein in the salad. I have also hard boiled the last couple of eggs, and last night I dug out 2 cans of tuna that I think I've had for 6-9 months in the cabinet (the tuna flavor really seemed to take over so I am not sure I like that, but it was filling)

03. the last orange bell pepper left from a trio of colored peppers in a bag
04. the last several mini sweet peppers that also came in a bag
05. 2 celery stalks and leaves from a whole bunch I bought when I needed one for a recipe
06. grated up the bottom survivors of a bag of baby carrots
07. 2 wrinkled oranges I was never going to eat for snacks -- cut off the peels and sectioned them and tossed in the juice too
08. 1 apple starting to wrinkle -- cut off the peel and grated it in there
09. half of a cucumber I never used, with the half going bad cut off and tossed. cut off the peel too just because, then chunked the rest with a knife
10. dregs of a bag of sliced almonds. have also used sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans... I always have nuts around and I like having a good fat on a salad
11. a whole lot of blueberries -- these weren't really leftover because I just bought them, but I love berries on a salad
12. cheese, added later. I discovered I like that. I had a small baggie of shredded monterey jack so I threw it in there too
13. the last of the green onions
14. maybe some other stuff I forgot

Obviously tomatoes are missing, because I don't like raw tomatoes, but the point is, whatever you have in the house can be chopped into small chunks, peel on or cut off, and thrown into a bowl. I like a base of crunchy green, some protein, some nuts and cheese or other good fat in there. I'd love to add cooked pasta or other grains sometime, but have not so far.

I keep saying bowl and that is not quite right. My big plastic bowl has a lid but I have also used a giant plastic square container with a lid, because I like to shake shake shake it all together.

Then you need your dressing of choice. I got this recipe for a balsamic vinegar dressing from my sister, but then I changed it up a bit.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp of raspberry balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp of dijon or brown mustard (a big squeeze)
pinch of white sugar
a LOT of minced garlic -- maybe 3-4 cloves

I put this all in a small bowl and whisked it. You could use any kind of vinegar you like, but I had never opened the raspberry vinegar at all so I tried that and it was good. Obviously I like fruit in my salad.

So I transferred half this salad into my big container, put on half the dressing, put on the lid and shake shake shake. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, scraped all the dressing and last of the garlic into it, put the lid on and shake shake shake.

It was so very very good that I have made a version of this 2 more times, each time the ingredients vary somewhat. I have recently used cuties (clementines) chopped up, frozen raspberries (thawed), Spanish onion, tuna, sunflower seeds, hardboiled eggs, red onion, Italian parsley, cilantro, walnuts, cashews, dried cranberries, cheddar cheese, goat cheese, not all at once but you get the gist. I want to move into adding canned beans and see how that goes. I have cannelini beans, Great Northern beans, and kidney beans at home.

Each time it is fresh and crisp and good and healthy, especially in these dark winter days. What I really love is that I don't measure, I just chop stuff up and throw it in there.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Simply having a wonderful Christmas-time

My mom and dad, together in the same place, talking together. (Divorced since 1970, so they are very rarely in the same place together.)

My brother and sisters on my mom's side and my sister on dad's side, all together, first time ever. And all their spouses and children!

My best friend was there.

My nephews were playing games and tumbling around like puppies together.

Food. Football game. Yelling at the screen.

Monique shoving food in her mouth before I even told people to come eat. heh.

Christen's famous kolachy. Covered in crack, I mean powdered sugar.

Presents and gift wrap and bows everywhere.

Turkey chili, lemon-basil pasta, spinach quiche, homemade dip. WINE. My brother brought me Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling --  so appropriate. Caramel crunch (flavored) coffee with chocolate fudge creamer.

My dad at Christmas with his one grandchild, and me taking photos.
My sisters all meeting for the first time.
Monique tearing up when she read the message I wrote inside a book for her.
Me tearing up when I put on an opalite pendant from St. Martin, for me, from Stephanie.
My best friend hand washing all the dishes for me.

A full home. FULL.

The best time ever.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Text convo with my sister earlier this week:

Stephie: I got you a Christmas gift but before I give it to you, was there anything you really wanted?

[practical] I need this ... and this ... and this ...
Me: but really I want Richard Armitage wrapped in edible gift wrap

[ . . . ]

Me: Just kidding!!!
Me: you don't have to wrap him. Naked is fine.


Other things to report...

* Saw the movie. Loved it. He made me cry when he entered the mountain. My guy is in the NUMBER ONE MOVIE in the world. Ridiculously proud.

that box! gorgeous! so thoughtful
* Coworker gave me a gift today. She is southern and her family home includes pecan trees. Her dad picks them and shells them, she gave me a gorgeous box filled with this home picked southern goodness, and said "happy solstice." Overwhelmed.

* My dad's birthday was Wed. Have had some "issues" with him the last year or two, but I finally called him and told him about it without ripping his head off. I'm trying to grow as a person, it's hard.

* Hosting my family and closest friends at my place for the holidays (on Sunday) for the first time ever. Planning my menu. Tentatively White Lightning Turkey Chili, with things like sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and shredded cheese available to fatten it up, Lemon basil pasta, multiple flavors of hummus and veggies for dipping, desserts by mom, other snacks by my sister, sodas and drinks by my other sister, Bears game on the TV by request, and Cards Against Humanity to top it off.

* Looked at the potluck pics. Then looked at pics of us from last year. Felt amazed. Put them side by side. So happy. 40 lbs down. 25 more to go and I will feel pretty content.

* Going to this concert at St Procopius Abbey this weekend with my BFF. Excited.

* Planning more cookie baking, and peppermint-popcorn making in the next 2 days. More decorating planned, plus gift wrapping.Going to thrift stores in search of cheap coffee cups to use for Sunday.

* I bought myself a Christmas gift. Something decadent and luxurious. mmmm white fake fur. It finally arrived and I put it on my bed and ooooo. Love. Big pimpin'.

* Lunch today with my old college friend Mary. So lovely to chat with old friends who knew me in my younger days.

* My cranberry holiday liqueur has been steeping for 2 weeks and is about ready to decant into decorated bottles.

* Christmas dinner planned with my uncle's family. SO happy we have reconnected these past few years.

I am off work until after Christmas! So much still to do. There will be some gym time in there as well and I am actually looking forward to it. I want to spend time on the treadmill. I have BIG PLANS for spring, fantastic wonderful plans, and I want to be in shape and ready to kick off the next, best phase of my life.