Monday, December 31, 2012

2013: Four Simple Goals

A blog I like to read called A Beautiful Mess blogged about the idea of Four Simple Goals.  Since 2013 will be nuts and the year of The Wedding, instead of writing a huge long list of things I want to accomplish I decided to keep it simple this year.  My goals are:

1.  Eat (at least) one vegetable a day.  I've been getting better about thinking about what I eat and trying to make better choices about what I eat.  I've lost a few pounds (hooray!) as a result, so something must be working.  I've been using an app where I can keep track of what I eat and what exercise I do, so it'll be easy to track this.

2.  Quit coffee.  I actually started this a few days ago, but the goal is to continue it into 2013.  I haven't had coffee since Wednesday.  So far so good!  I'm drinking black tea, which is better because it's less sugar and cream and less expensive since I can just get a tin of it instead of spending $10-15 a week on coffee.  The goal is to keep it going once work starts up again.  I'm allowing myself to cheat on weekends when there's a fun latte with crazy flavors involved (i.e., Starbucks, Gulu, Jaho)

3.  Finish my 5k goal and run the 5k outside in a race.  As I've noted, I've run several 5k's in the gym alone on a treadmill.  I'm also working on improving my time.  I'm at about 40-43 minutes right now, which is decent.  Once it's warmer and there's sunlight after work, I'm getting outside to keep it going and then I'll be signing up for a 5k in the spring or summer.  There's a breast cancer 5k I'm looking at or the Fiesta 5k in June.

4.  Finish the blue sweater and knit another fun sweater.  The blue sweater is about 60% done.  Maybe 70%.  But then all my friends made an unofficial pregnancy pact and had babies, and those babies needed hats.  So the blue sweater went into hiding in the closet.  Well now most people have had their babies, so it's time I finish it and wear it!  I also want to make another sweater for myself.  I might just do a plain thing, I'm not sure.  There are a few I'm eying and I have a ton of yarn asking to be used.

I'll keep this updated with how it's going.  I'm also still doing the 50/50 challenge, but that I'll keep separate from my goals.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Television PSA

The West Wing is streaming on Netflix right now.  All seasons.  GET ON IT.

Also, there's a storm coming, so I think today might be the best day to watch all of season 1 and get started on it. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and is enjoying their Boxing Day.  Ricky and I have been tidying up, enjoying our new gifts, and are off to see Les Mis at the (newly funded by Kickstarter so it doesn't have to close!) Cinema Salem. 

Above is some star lights that were on my aunt's porch that I thought were pretty when I was leaving their house the night of Christmas.  I though they were pretty against the blue and black.

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 12

Christmas Eve!  This has been fun, albeit often done in bulk.  Tonight, we're featuring one of my favorite songs of not only Christmas but probably of all time.  That'd be True Blue Miracle from Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.  It's such a beautiful happy pretty song, and I love the idea that all the Sesame Street gang takes the subway to a different area of the city to get Christmas trees and go ice skating, then have to take the subway back to town.

Ricky and I have spent the last few Christmas Eves watching Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.  It's been a fun way to prepare for Christmas... and this special is so nostalgic and fun.  I strongly recommend it.

I hope you enjoyed this mini series.  It's been fun talking about what festive things I've done and thinking about what songs I like.

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 11

Yesterday I continued on my tour of old friend Christmas parties by heading to Worcester to embrace my college days.  Tim has been teaching at HC and living across the street from the campus, and he held an egg nog party for his friends.  It was really fun getting together and laughing about crazy old stories.  When we were getting into our cars, though, Jess and I both agreed that we wished that this was 7 years ago and we lived across the street from an off-campus party and didn't have to drive over an hour home.  Alas.

I asked Ricky what Christmas song he wanted, and that was Robert Smigel's Christmastime for the Jews, which was featured on SNL a few years ago.  It made him laugh so hard he cried.  Not a traditional Christmas carol, but definitely a good one for this.  And it's clay animation... who doesn't love that?!

Christmastime for the Jews from Bix Pix Entertainment, Inc. on Vimeo.

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 10

It's been a crazy weekend, so I am woefully behind on this.  Saturday night was Friendmas.  Friendmas is the annual Christmas get together my friends from high school and I have every year to get together and catch up.  We have a Yankee Swap and play weird games.  It's really fun, and as we've all been pairing off and settling down it's been nice having the spouses be a part of it.

This song doesn't have anything to do with Friendmas, but I wanted to talk about it for a moment.  This day, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about a favorite one of mine from the 80's.  I am of course talking about Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC.  It ends Die Hard (a Landry brother Christmas movie favorite) and it always makes me laugh. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 9

Tonight was one of our favorite Christmas traditions:  decorating stockings!  For the last few years, Ricky and I have been painting stockings for ourselves and the pets.  It was very nice to have some egg nog, paint, and watch Bob's Burgers.  I will post our stockings soon.

Speaking of pets, can we just take a moment to appreciate this photo of President Obama shopping with and for Bo at a Petsmart?!?

HOW CUTE IS THAT?  He's picking out some snacks for his dog Bo.  How great is that?  There are also photos of Bo meeting a poodle named Cinnamon.  Worth checking out.

Anyways, back to Christmas music.  We watched a favorite of mine for the last 20 (!!!) years:  The Muppet Christmas Carol.  I've loved this movie since it first came out in theatres, and no season is complete without a viewing.  In honor of that, here's my favorite song from it, It Feels Like Christmas.  Keep your eye out for the cutest mouse Muppets ever, which Ricky loves.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 8

Caught up on this!  Huzzah!  Tonight I had perhaps the least holiday-ish thing:  a dentist appointment.  But it was a necessary evil, I suppose.  Clean bill of teeth health, though I need to get a filling replaced.  The week is winding down, and we're getting closer to some Christmas parties, and the big day itself.  Tomorrow is my last day of work for the year, and we get out early which is nice.

Today we'll play some super cheesy music... I'm of course talking about Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime.  I feel like it's super cheesy (and possibly highlights why Paul needs someone like John to edit him and keep him from going into super cheese fest).  I do like the music video because it's so dated and of that era.

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 7

Wednesday I managed to get a lot of Christmas wrapping done!  Is there anything more satisfying than getting almost all of you wrapping done?  I locked myself in the bedroom and wrapped almost everything and organized it.  Only a few things left that need to arrive in the mail, to find where I put a calendar for someone, and then I'll be done.  In the craziness of the last few weeks, I was nice to have a night to catch up and checking things off my list.

In honor of Christmas wrapping... It's Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses.  I've always thought this song made me feel like I'm working seasonal help at The Gap, folding sweaters.  I have a feeling if I actually worked at The Gap, I'd be really sick of this song, but since I haven't I'm cool with this song still.

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 6

Tuesday was another holiday party, but this one was for the entire college.  It's nice to get fancy, have some drinks and tasty food at a swanky club, and look at fancy paintings of famous people.  The desserts weren't as good as last year, but it's okay.

For Tuesday, let's play Someday at Christmas.  I often feel like Stevie Wonder's lyrics leave little to be desired, but after the events from last week it's been on the brain recently.  I also am a big fan of the background singers and blasting this song on high.

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 5

Monday began a very busy week of holiday events.  My department had a holiday lunch downtown, and we did our Yankee Swap.  I managed to luck out and being a wine and a weird sushi kit and come home with wine and beer.  Huzzah!

Today let's highlight a favorite of mine, though I know somewhere my mom is groaning.  I've always loved the marriage of styles and generations when David Bowie and Bing Crosby came together to sing The Little Drummer Boy.  The opening is insanely cheesy, but I do love the arrangements.  (I found a version that skipped most of the opening, which is probably for the best)

I tried to purchase it on iTunes for a Christmas mix I made for a friend, but unfortunately you can't get it on iTunes.  WTF, iTunes.

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 4

No surprise, I've let this slip, so I'll just do a bunch of catch up right now and talk about what I was doing on each day.  On Sunday, I worked.  I've been doing some holiday hours at a gift shop on the weekends.  It's been fun, and as Ricky says, fulfills my high school desires to be Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.

So let's do something a little classic.  I've always loved The Nutcracker, and I feel like it's so pretty.  So here's the dance of the sugar plum fairies.  Whenever I hear those bells, it brings to a moment when it's cold and snowing and there's lots of lights everywhere and evergreen.  Here's a version of it I heard recently and am a big fan of.  It's from a favorite band of mine:  Pamplemoose!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 3

Feeling a little better today, less overwhelmed with the sadness of yesterday's events.  I think it helps that I spent the day helping friends move back to the state (yay!) and then went to a super fun Christmas party hosted by good friends Mike and Christine (yay times two!) at night.  They have a yankee swap where everyone needs to bring a gift from their house, and it's always entertaining to see what crap people have lying around.  My coworkers should be expecting a sushi maker on Monday at our work swap, as I try to pass it off as a nice gift.

I think in the vein of old friends, I'll post a song by the Royal Guardsmen.  The reason being is because when I was in elementary school chorus we had to sing this song, which I always thought was a crazy song.  Then, years later, I found out that someone wrote it in the 60's sincerely, and it was a pop hit... not just something weird our chorus teacher thought up.  I also felt the same feeling of "wait... people knew that song in real life?" when I found out that he wanted us to sing an Alan Sherman song at a concert.

Weird song performed quite sincerely by a bunch of Brits.  I promise tomorrow's song won't be Peanuts- themed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 2

I know it's hard on a day like this to think of holidays and celebration.  My heart aches and I am haunted by the photos of small children holding hands being led out of their school by police, their innocence shaken and probably gone forever.  I'm also saddened by the photos of young parents hugging each other in parking lots, overcome with grief.  Of President Obama tearing up at a press conference not as an elected official, but as a parent putting himself in their place.  It's all a lot to stomach and hopefully this moment will be the moment that calls for changed legislation and help for those who are mentally ill and unstable.

In spite of this, and maybe because of this, I listened to music that cheers me up at the end of the day at work.  A brief escape from the stress of today.  While this doesn't erase the feelings I'm feeling, it does help alleviate some of that sadness.

I decided on Vince Guaraldi's Ice Skating, since I've always loved A Charlie Brown Christmas, and thought it'd be a nice note to end today on.  Kids enjoying wintertimes and feeling carefree, something that every child should have, and sadly a grouping of them lost today.

Hug your loved ones a lot tighter tonight, and be very grateful of everything you have in your life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Music: Day 1

I decided to do a little project this year to get ready for the holidays.  12 Days of Christmas Music!  If the food network can promote cookies, I can promote some songs.  This is in no particular order of my favorites, just a collection of songs I like. 

Today let's start with Step Into Christmas by Elton John, which seems appropriate to "step into" this themed series.  I put this song on a mix for Ricky for Christmas last year.  Gotta love some old timey, squeaky-voiced Elton John.  And to borrow from The Muppet Show... he looks like a stolen car.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Cheer, HC-Style

If you look outside, it doesn't look like December.  It doesn't even really feel like December inside from my apartment.  We have one pine tree candle, and we've purchased stockings to decorate, and we've even made a decent dent in the large canon of Christmas movies out there, but I'm just not in the Christmas spirit yet.  Today, though, I think that may change, as I'm returning to Holy Cross for the afternoon.

Ricky and even my coworkers sometimes tease me about my love for HC.  There's just something about that little academic paradise on a hill that sets my heart pitter patter, and it comes out even stronger in the wintertime.  Much like how Hogwarts always looked prettier at Christmas, Holy Cross feels and looks even prettier under a blanket of snow with greenery and advent wreaths.  Last night, HC hosted its annual tradition of Lessons and Carols.  I didn't steam it, but I'm sure it was merry with the choir singing and candles and greens everywhere.  I went a few times when I was in college, and it's a really nice experience.

This is a stressful time in the life of a Crusader, since classes are wrapping up and finals are going to be underway next week.  It was a lot of not sleeping for me and a lot of cramming to write all my papers and study literary themes or important plays.  We even had all of the student performances during the reading days, so those three days that I could have used as a jump start on papers were spent in the Pit, rehearsing one thing or another.  But it was still very nice, since it signified the end of a semester and visual proof of learning outcomes. 

There was definitely a social aspect to the end of the semester and finals.  Because no one had classes, big lunches used for discussing books and studying happened regularly.  Jess, Karin, Tim, sometimes Erin, and I would also spend hours in Hogan, buying cup after cup of coffee and writing papers on the couches.  At night, we'd all trek to Midnight Breakfast and stay for hours, soaking up all the free coffee they provided while eating egg sandwiches and hash browns.  This was the break we'd need, though often someone would have a book or a paper in hand to edit and hopefully not get coffee or maple syrup on.  It didn't matter what we were doing, we'd make sure we were there every night.  There was also a memorable time when our classmate Ed (now a monk!) was panicking about something and gave himself a bloody nose.

I know I discussed all of this last year, but the feelings of nostalgia came flooding back again.  Why?  My friend Tim has been teaching at HC all semester, and today is the last day of his fall semester.  He's celebrating with pizza (as only one can when you're finishing Milton) and then I am joining him for a later lunch somewhere in the city.  It's been exciting hearing him talk about being back in Worcester and starting on his career path, so spending time with Tim on the last day of classes seems appropriate.  It makes me remember all the winters in Worcester (or while I was in Worcester and he was studying in England) we've spent together.  The midnight breakfast, the coffees in Hogan, the Christmas party where he dressed up like Santa.  All of it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think this trip to Worcester will be the beginning of holiday cheer that I need.  A walk around to look at the greens, see the manger, drink too much coffee with Tim... that'll all bring me to that frame of mind that's ready for Christmas and the holidays in general.  I'm glad that I'm doing it a little older, a lot wiser, a few more grays and a ring on my left hand, and that I don't have to stretch my margins out to get a paragraph onto the 10th page all while trying not to spill in my books so I can try to sell them back to the bookstore.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fifty Fifty Movie Round Up: Movies 6-10

"You have a crazy group of movies to talk about." ~Ricky

...Yep.  Yep I do.

6.  See No Evil Hear No Evil (10/24).  This movie was the level of 80's hijinks and crap I expected.  A lot of Gene Wilder yelling and a lot of Richard Pryor making a wide-eyed look of shock.  That being said, I did laugh and I enjoyed seeing a young Kevin Spacey playing a vaguely European villain.

7.  30 Minutes Or Less (10/27).  It was funny but a little predicable.  I enjoyed a subtle Social Network reference.  I will say, at the request of Ricky, that we watched this movie at 4:30 on a weekend.  That is the perfect time to watch this movie... late afternoon on a weekend before doing weekend night stuff.

8.  Despicable Me (10/28).  I really loved this movie.  Clever and sweet and funny.  It has a lot of heart.  I strongly recommend this movie.  It's so fluffy I could die.

9.  Bottle Rocket (11/2).  I liked it a lot, but I have to say... I like his later works a lot better.  Cool to see young baby Wilson brothers, and it's funny and typically Wes Anderson weird, but my heart belongs to The Royal Tenenbaums.

10.  The French Lieutenant's Woman (11/11).  HUGELY disappointed with this movie.  It had great potential to be weird and different and creatively made, and it fell so flat.  I mean, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons are great actors, but the whole time we kept thinking "you're falling flat, there's so much more you could do with this plot".

Wow, I seem grumpy about these five movies.  I promise the next five will be a lot happier!