Friday, December 31, 2010

Do You Make a New Year's Resolution?

New Year's is one of my favorite holidays. I don't need to go to giant, fancy New Year's Eve party, although champagne is a must. What I love about it is waking up on New Year's Day and getting a chance to change or start over. It is a day of great opportunity.

What I have been surprised to find is that many people don't make New Year's Resolutions. I've been asking lots of people what theirs are, and more ofter than not have heard the following: "I stopped making them years ago" or "I never stick with them, so I stopped making them." I absolutely subscribe to an "to each his own" policy so I didn't push them further but I was curious to know more. Do they never resolve to do anything? And if so, how do they bring change into their life. I'm not criticizing! But for me the only way to make a change is to pick a start date and focus on the change wholeheartedly. I'm not saying this always works but that is how I roll. Or maybe they do make resolutions but they don't like the pressure of having to make them on January 1st.

So tell me! If you are making a New Year's Resolution I would love to hear it. And if not, tell me why?

Song of the Day
Today's song is Prince's 1999.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Club: A Year In Review

For all of you who are still enjoying time off, got an e-reader as a gift, or are stuck in the airport, I thought I would post a list of the books we read in our book club this past year. Many were absolutely fabulous reads (Adventures of K & C), some weren't really my taste (South of Broad), and one I didn't actually read (After River) Oops!

After River by Donna Milner
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

What great books did you read this year?

Song of the Day
Today's song is Mika's We Are Golden, which he said was inspired by book The Magic Toyshop. Check out more songs inspired by literature here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Come Cleanse With Me

I try to start each year off with a challenge. I like to remind myself that I'm in control and can accomplish what I resolve to do. In 2009 I didn't have any sweets for six weeks and in 2010 I gave up alcohol for the month of January. My challenge for 2011 is going to be a whopper! Starting January 1st, I'll be doing the Quantum Wellness Cleanse, created by Kathy Freston.

During this cleanse you don't eat any of the following for 21 days: gluten, animal products, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. I know it may sound like I'll be starving myself but I can eat grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, and as much as I want of all of them. I was telling a very healthy friend about the cleans and she said "Cool. It is like you are pretending to be a vegan who has celiac's disease." Simple as that.

Since I've never done a cleanse like this (or any cleanse for that matter), I will be closely following Freston's book, which I have already found immensely helpful. This cleanse is not just about eating better but also includes mediation, visualization, and exercise. I want to invite you all to do the cleanse with me, although no pressure. I'll leave you with a quote from The Quantum Wellness Cleanse that got me very excited about this big challenge:
Here is the thing about wellness: it's a continuum. We get better at it as we go. We get informed, build esteem, and find what works as we keep putting one foot in front of the other. We develop new tastes and discover different and interesting foods, and move into a new rhythm. And with every day we say, "Okay, I'm bigger than my old habits," we rise to our greater selves. We soar.
Song of the Day
I keep singing this song as "Come Cleanse with Me." Please enjoy Frank Sinatra's Come Fly with Me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How the Post Office Almost Stole Christmas

At the beginning of November I signed up for Winter Wishes, a program organized by New York Cares that provides you with a Christmas list of a local child whose family may not have a lot of money to buy presents. When you sign up they make it very clear that you are making a commitment to a child and that they don't do backups, so if you don't send a gift the child may not receive anything at all.

I was really excited about Winter Wishes. So I waited for my wish list. And I waited and waited. My letter finally arrived on December 16th. "Cutting it a little close, Winter Wishes" I thought. When I opened the envelope I was horrified to find that all gifts were to arrive by December 10th. Oh no! Little Shamel of Long Island City wasn't going to get a present and it was all my fault! Wait! It was all the Post Office's fault. The letter was post marked November 17th. It was a month late! Now I'm not usually one to call customer service and complain. I know mistakes happen. But I have to draw the line at mistakes that threaten to ruin Christmas. Not on my watch! So I called the Post Office and calmly explained how they had destroyed the holiday hopes and dreams of a little boy.

Actually holiday hopes and dreams were not destroyed. The Christmas spirits were smiling on me and Shamel. The letter with his wish list also included the phone number of his after school program. Luckily a nice woman named Veronica was still in her office at 7:30 PM. I explained to her what happened and she said that if I could get the gift there the next day I might not ruin Christmas for Shamel. Ok, that isn't what she said but that is what I heard. As I said, the Christmas spirits were smiling and I luckily had the next day off of work so I was able to buy Shamel the number one thing on his list, a ripstick (I had to Google what this was. I had no idea. Shamel is much cooler than me). I raced it out to Long Island City, arriving 30 minutes before gift opening time.

I'm very happy I was able to hold up my end of the Winter Wishes bargain. Thanks to no help from the Post Office. Merry Christmas Shamel!

Song of the Day
Today's song is the best modern Christmas song, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Gift Tags

I finished my Christmas shopping early this year so I thought I would spend a little extra time with the wrapping. I created monogrammed stickers which I used on small cards for those that I won't be spending Christmas with.
For those I am blessed to be with, I used them as gift tags.
They are not difficult to make. I used Micron pens (any marker or pen will do) to draw the letters on Soho Round Labels. I stuck the labels on scallop round cards (both the labels and cards can be found here) and glued that to the gift cards. For the gift tags I used a glue stick to attach them directly to the wrapping paper.

Song of the Day
Today's song is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." I prefer Judy Garland but James Taylor does a fabulous job.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our First Christmas Tree

Matt and I got our first Christmas tree this year! Because we are feeling very settled in our apartment and because it is impossible not have to the Christmas spirit while in New York, we got a little tree.
We picked one out at Andy's Bodega, which is a whole lot like the Christmas tree farms back in New Hampshire.

We both agreed that we prefer decorations that mean something so we started a tradition of buying one ornament together each year. This tree looks a little sparse but in a few years we will have a tree decorated with a butt load of meaning.
We bought our first ornament at the Union Square Holiday Fair from Mure Designs. The angel is made for Tagua, which is the nut of a Palm Tree. Fun fact about Tagua: It is also called "vegetable ivory" because of how it looks and feels. So our first ornament helps prevent elephants from being killed for their tusks. Our little elephant angel!
The whole tree trimming event only took three minutes, but we drank some great wine and started a new Christmas tradition.
Song of the Day
Don't worry. I'm not going to try to be different and not play Christmas music. Heck! I like it just as much as you do. Please enjoy Bing Crosby's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Talented Friend: Sheena

I usually like to surround myself with no-talent losers, but everyone once and a while a really creative friend will sneak in there. I can think of nothing more positive than celebrating your friends, so I'm creating a new segment called "A Talented Friend," where I will highlight one of my gifted buddies.

Sheena and I grew up together and while I have always known she was incredibly smart and funny, I had no idea that she was a baking artiste! Sheena has been dabbling in cake decorating and here are some of my favorites.
This is a butter cake with raspberry filling, Swiss meringue buttercream and covered in ivory fondant.

This cake cracks me up! Sheena calls it "Terror on the High Seas."

This cake makes me melt. I think it is beyond cute.

Song of the Day
Today's song is Cake's "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Speaking of Spice Racks

All that talk about spice racks put me in the mood for one of my favorite dishes, Sausage Stew! This recipe includes several dried herbs and lots of other very simple ingredients. It makes a huge pot of one of the most tasty, hearty stews on the planet. But be forewarned! This dish requires a ton of chopping, so I would recommend recruiting a friend who is handy with a knife. One of your ninja friends should do just fine.
Song of the day
Few voices lift you up the way Aretha Franklin's does. Lets hope for her full recovery. Please enjoy "Say a Little Prayer."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

101 Things in 1001 Days: 63

Almost everyone living in New York lacks the same two things: space and money. Some would argue we also lack manners but I disagree. JERKS! I included Buy a Spice Rack on my 101 list because my ragtag collection of spices were taking up too much valuable cabinet space. I also could never remember which spices I had so I kept buying more of what I didn't need. At one point I had four jars of cinnamon. Spices are expensive! My dad came to the rescue. Always willing to help a fellow cook in need, he got me this great spice rack. It can stand on it's own or hang on the wall so it is a great space saving device. And I can always remember what I have in stock because I can keep all the spices in fabulous alphabetical order. That's right...I alphabetically order my spices.

Another problem solved by Dad!

Today's Song
This was a bit of a no brainer. Today's song is the Spice Girls' "Wannabe."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Go To Your Reunion

This past weekend was my 10 year high school reunion. Reunions are something you are technically supposed to dread, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to mine. I was a class officer in high school, which evidently means I’m a class officer for life. This time last year, my classmates started mentioning our 10 year reunion. Our fearless leader and class president, Curtis, took the lead and did an amazing job planning the event. I provided support where I could but he was really the mastermind behind the whole thing. I think the reason I wasn’t looking forward to the reunion was I was afraid people would not show up or would be critical of the event. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the exact opposite. About 70% of our class showed up and everyone had wonderful things to say. I had the best time! I can’t remember when I laughed that hard.

I haven’t done a great job at keeping in touch with people from high school. I went college out of state and then moved straight to New York,
so I lost touch with all but a small handful of friends. After the reunion I was kicking myself for this. I went to school with some really fabulous people! Some super hilarious, some very interesting, and some incredibly kind. I realize that everyone has changed some since high school, but my classmates have blossomed into awesome people that I would like to again call my friends. I watched guys who were tough as nails 10 years ago absolutely glow as they showed me pictures of their baby girls. And girls that were once painfully shy tell me jokes that made me laugh so hard I cried.

If you have a reunion coming up,
GO! It won’t be like Romy and Michelle’s. I know high school was not all rainbows and lollipops. But if you go to yours with a positive outlook, remembering the good times and people from high school, I can positively guarantee you'll have fun.

Song of the Day
Today's song is Dave Matthews Band's "Ants Marching."
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