Tag Archives: holidays

Presidents Day: My Twitter Guide to US Presidents

Thanks to good ol’ George Washington’s birth, I had a day on the couch yesterday, and a new Presidents Day tradition was born.

Below, your guide to US Presidents:

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Thanks to my mom for being a US history teacher and dragging me to every presidential historical site in America. Extra thanks to James Foreman for creating my lovely campaign poster, to Mark Stratton for suggesting that I compile them all into a blog post, and to Anthony Closkey who suggested future fun afoot….

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Filed under Lists

Weekend Wrap-Up: Fireworks Edition

 

I spent most of my weekend sitting on this porch overlooking the mountains and watching the many fireworks strewn about the yard being set off by the Lady. We arrived on Friday night to cocktails being poured, a delicious dinner on the grill, and devoted ourselves to three days of doing nothing but relaxing and enjoying small town America.

There was a pick-up soccer game. A fireworks display seen from the golf course. Two bands. Blueberry pie. Mint chocolate chip ice cream. Lots of long drives with the windows down and the music turned up. Endless sunshine. A few movies on the couch. Friends stopping by and us headed out to drop in on others.

In short, it was perfection.

(And I’m pretty sure that her parents liked me too. I adored them.)

I can’t remember the last time that I came back from a weekend away so rested and refreshed. Sometimes, my dears, life is just too lovely. And I’m not taking that for granted.

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‘Tis the Season to Give Back

I’ve had my tough times to be sure, but in general I am a very lucky girl. I have a job that I enjoy, a roof over my head, wonderful friends and family, and all of you out there making me laugh and sharing your fabulous internet selves with me.  

On top of that, I got to be a Gap Brand Ambassador and throw a fantastic party and give away tons of free jeans and gift cards this summer to my friends and readers at a “Born to Fit” party. But after the party was done and the giveaways handled, I ended up with a few pairs of men’s jeans that no one I knew could fit into. I thought about passing them off to Goodwill, but brand new Gap jeans seemed too good for a donations box, just so some college student could buy them for $10 down the line.   

And then I thought, where could I find some men who could really use these? My local veterans hospital is nearby and has several great programs: one to help homeless veterans turn their lives around, with on site housing, job training, the works. Many of the other patients have limited clothing when they arrive and could use something clean and nice other than hospital scrubs for job interviews and starting over. And the newly returning veterans have been wearing uniforms every day and would love some civilian wear.

I contacted my hook-up with the Gap and asked, just to keep the ol’ ethics clean, and got the green light. Today, these guys get an early Christmas.

If you have new or gently used clothing you would like to donate to clothe veterans in need (especially winter stuff and new socks, underwear, and t-shirts), you can find your local Veterans Affairs medical center here . The home page should list a contact for the voluntary services department who can tell you how you can help.  

And remember our female Veterans as well! I didn’t have any women’s items to donate, but they would love donations for everyone who serves: young and old, male and female, and at any time of year. They can always use jeans, khakis, polos, and sweaters/ sweatsuits in any size.

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Filed under Daily Life, Style

A Stolen Christmas Quiz

Yes, I stole your questionnaire, Lora. It’s been a busy month and I have a lot of posting to do before I head home for the holidays…. I promise your answers are funnier.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I’d rather use paper, but since most of my gifts have to fly home with me for the holidays, wrapping is a no-no. The post office was supposed to bring me flat-rate boxes so I could wrap and ship, but they never did. Oh well, I’ll be reusing my Mom’s recycled gift bags again.  

 2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. I’d rather have real, but my townhouse is tiny and I’m out of town so often that I’d worry about fire. My 4′ fake one has served me well for the last three years.

3. When do you put up the tree? If it were up to me, I’d put it up on Thanksgiving evening, but since I cook the whole Thanksgiving feast around these parts (and then get stuck with most of the clean-up), I usually get around to it when the clean-up is done and I’ve recovered from my turkey hangover.

4. When do you take the tree down? It’s bad luck unless it comes down on New Year’s. Last year I missed the deadline by, oh, two weeks or so…

5. Do you like eggnog? I have to thin it out with milk. Or booze. Rum, to be precise. It’s too thick straight from the carton.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably a book. I was a very bookish little thing. Oh, and there was the year everyone was insane over Cabbage Patch Kids and my parents both bought them just in case, so I looked very spoiled with two. If only cell phones had been invented they could have saved the cash.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I have one that I got on clearance when I worked at Michael’s  one year in college. Small and somewhat tacky, but it does the job.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My fancy younger sister. I usually give up around now and just buy something small with a Coach logo on it.

9. Easiest person to buy for? BC, hands down.

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? Christmas came just after the start of a new relationship in 2001 and I gave cologne. I got a rainbow stuffed peace sign rearview mirror thingy. Because “you’re all into politics and stuff.”

11. Mail or e-mail Christmas card? Mail. Always mail. And I’d use lickable stamps if I could still buy them. I heart stationery. And writing little notes inside. I used to send 70 or so out per year. This year I slopped together 20, but they went out in time. I don’t know if anyone is still sending them- I’ve only gotten two so far.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? All of the classics will always hold a special, near-and-dear spot in my heart, but I love “Elf”. It cracks me up every time. I like to whisper, too.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I used to wait until December, but now that I try to shop on Etsy  and buy handmade, I start a little bit closer to Halloween to be sure everything can be made and arrive in time. I still have three people to shop for this weekend, so I’m no early finisher.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?  I don’t think I’ve ever re-gifted a Christmas gift. Wine brought to a party? Sure. I have given away a ton of Christmas gifts that I hated to people who didn’t hate them or had the room for them or to Goodwill. I like to think of it as finding them better homes.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Yorkshire pudding  ftw! (I get to have one Southern and one British Christmas and I do love some Paula Deen, but Yorkshire pudding only comes out once a year).

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear, with lots of ticky-tacky homemade and souvenir ornaments to add color.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Silent Night makes me go all mushy and lumpy in the throat every time. If you get a small child to sing it, there may be actual tears.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Always travel. The whole family is in Georgia and Tennessee and I am in Pittsburgh. It’s much easier for one of me to go there than vice versa. When I have octuplets though, they are all gonna have to come to my place.

19. Can you name Santa’s reindeer? Every last one.

20. Do you have an Angel on top or a star? I grew up in an angel house, but I’m a star girl myself.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. My mom always has us open pajamas on Christmas Eve. It’s a running family joke that she always buys mine too small. In every Christmas morning picture, I look like a stuffed sausage in my tiny Christmas pajamas.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? That my birthday is the 23rd. I have long sworn to do nothing Christmas-related on my birthday. I always cave in and pick up a last-minute gift, or fly home, or exchange presents with someone at a birthday happy hour though.

23. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? I am not a fan of those plastic icicles on the tree- they get everywhere and make an Easter basket-sized clean-up.

25. Which looks best theme trees or homey trees? I am a total home-y tree gal- the tackier the better. Handmade. Handpainted. Or even this little winner I grabbed at the Dulles airport:

26. Gingerbread or sugar cookies? Sugar. With sprinkles or colored sugar or jelly or chocolate chips or really anything sweet and tasty that you can do to a cookie. I do like a gingerbread scented candle though.

27. Do you like Fruitcake? Nope. My dear granny is a huge fan, so when I see it I think of her and get all warm and fuzzy, but it’s not going in my mouth.

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In which I whine

I’m working on my “substitute holiday”.

I ate all my clearance Valentine candy.

I’m on a conference call and can’t leave my desk but desperately need a glass of water.

I haven’t been sleeping right lately.

I have no work clothes that I like.

My cell phone plan is overpriced.

It is still winter.

I am going to Anaheim, CA on Thursday for four days and won’t be going to Disneyland or the beach.

My head itches.

My bedroom needs vacuumed because the dust is killing me.

My office mate is loudly typing (on a TYPEWRITER while I interview job candidates on the phone even though she knows I’m interviewing assistant candidates.

I’d rather be writing, now that I have some really good ideas for stories, and I’m afraid I’ll lose them. I’d also rather be setting up a writing table/ desk in my house, because curling up on the couch leads to napping too often and bad ergonomics.

I have to buy plane tickets to Florida and they’re really more expensive than I want to pay for.

I have adorable new Mary Jane pumps on at work with 3 ” stack heels, but since they’re new they still need some breaking in and are hurting my arches.
I need a haircut.

I need to go grocery shopping.

I need to do laundry.

I am homesick for my sisters after my recent visit.

Old people (over 55 and who are parents of friends) should not friend their childrens’ high school friends on Facebook. Also my parents’ second cousins who I never see should not add me on Facebook and read silly status updates about cocktailing and whatnot.

And on that upbeat note….

If there’s anyone in the Anaheim area who’ll be bored this Friday or Saturday night, I’ll be right outside Disneyland- lemme know.

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Filed under Daily Life, Family, Lists, Travel, Writing

Shopping Local, Shopping Handmade

As a former retail slave, Black Friday still gives me cold chills and knots in my stomach. I spent too many mornings recovering from a turkey coma with angry shoppers seeking bargains that were sold out at 7 am, expecting no lines on a busy shopping day, and hostilely celebrating the season with consumerism. In recent years, I’ve avoided the hell of the malls by doing all of my holiday shopping online and shipping the gifts to my parents’ house in Atlanta. It’s been great- the gifts are there, wrapped, and ready to go when I arrive, with no extra costs for checking luggage full of gifts and no time of my visit spent doing gift wrapping.

This year, I’m trying to reign in my corporate spending. There are tons of great local boutiques in my neighborhood with original gifts to buy. My Etsy searching habits have resulted in great handmade gift options. And yes, some of my gifts this year will be my own creations. Yesterday for less than $100 (shipping included), I picked up 18 Christmas cards and four gifts, and tagged quite a few more to snag on the next payday round of shopping. In the interest of sharing the wealth, below are some of my finds:

My Christmas postcards:

from GlitterWorkshop

from GlitterWorkshop

A freshwater pearl ring (and matching earrings) for my sister, the Yuppie (& a free pendant for me):

From MuyinMolly

From MuyinMolly

 A scarf for my mini-me, the bicycle queen (and from a local Pittsburgher):

From garbella

From garbella

And for BC, the best pal, and kitschy Catholic-abilia collector:

from DosMujeres

from DosMujeres

I’m a little nervous sharing the Etsy wealth with you all, because one-of-a-kind means that you all might go snatch up the things I saved for later. But if you find something you love- I encourage you to spend your dollars on handmade. Today, I’m observing Buy Nothing Day. And also, a self-declared holiday- Clean Up My House Because I’m Having Company on Sunday Day.

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Waiting for the Long Weekend

It was one of those Fridays. I came home Thursday night and fell asleep at 7 pm on the couch with every intention of waking up at 10 to get some things done around the house before rolling back into bed. Instead, I woke up when the fiance’ rolled in from work at midnight. By the time we caught up on the day, looked over his homework for school, shoveled down some mac and cheese, and I made it back to bed, it was 3 am. Which meant that when the alarm went off at 5:30 am, I hit snooze and rolled back over at 7:30. I dashed into some clothes, called a cab, and waited. And waited. Until the cab showed up at 8:45 due to traffic. I dragged myself into the office at 9:15 and hot the ground running. And it didn’t stop until I rolled out the door from work and into my front door at 8:00 pm.
And now that it’s the weekend, I can’t seem to slow that working brain down to the idea that I have three long, uninterrupted, plan-free days to kill. That it’s ok for me to sleep instead of doing the dishes, to read one of the three books I got for Christmas, to write, and lounge and refuse to be productive for a while.
“Productivity” is the curse of the American life. My friends from Europe and Australia are fascinated by the way we work so hard, such long days, without enough vacation, and then define ourselves by our careers. They work for nine months or so, save all their money, and then spend a month’s vacation on the beach in Greece. They cook real dinners and linger over them with wine til ten, while I scrub and cram in some extra take home work. And I envy them. I’m spending the weekend re-prioritizing- putting my life before the work in my life.

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Filed under Daily Life, Soul Searching, Working for a Living