Monday, December 31, 2012

Peace Out, 2012

It seems like people are really tempted to sum up a year with big words like "good" or "bad" or "tough"  or even "awesome!" But each year is so complex, so rife with experience, that I can't really reduce it to an umbrella term like that.

For me, 2012 was new, challenging, exciting, emotional, frustrating, hopeful, and many other things. Here are some (of many) things I will remember:

*Matt and I moved in together in early January (a new experience for me)

*We endured a pretty vicious, ongoing custody battle with the mother of Matt's daughter, which illustrated the lengths people will go to to hurt others when they are hurt themselves

*Matt and I took a beautiful Easter trip to Mendocino County

*I quit my teaching job and took a new job with Voice of Witness, which I love (I find that changes are often scary, but worth it)

*My girls came to visit, and we trekked down from San Francisco to Orange County so that Marianne could see CJ Wilson play in his  new stadium :)

*Matt and I took a 24 hour train from Oakland to Seattle to see his mom (and retrieve a car she graciously gave him when his was stolen from our street)--on the way home, I got to meet Lindsay, whom I love!

*Our beloved & uproarious family dog, Ignatius, passed away

*My sweet grandma passed away

*Matt came with me to Georgia for the first time for my grandma's funeral and met my entire extended family

*My cousins came to visit, and we had an incredible & hilarious time in San Francisco and Napa

*Matt's sweet dad came to visit, while Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc in his New Jersey town

*I went to Vegas for work and got to hang out with Lindsey, who is now one of my besties

*Matt and I went back to Georgia for Christmas for a week

*We adopted an abandoned kitten! More on that tomorrow . . .

Pretty intense year, with all its ups and downs. Many of my friends had babies, too, which is fun to witness. The word I'm adopting for 2013 is peace, both inner and outward. Here's hoping to (coming close to) achieving it!

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My (Annual) Christmas in Georgia

Matt and I got back around midnight last night from a week of celebrating the holidays with my southern family. Matt's observations: "they are drawly and matriarchal." HA! My bestie Jason responded: "All southern families are run by matriarchs." ;)

We stayed at my mama's house, which is the very house I grew up in:

Georgia: where people have yards and fences

There are always a zillion things to do when we're home for the holidays. Just about my entire extended family lives in Georgia, and many of my oldest friends do, as well. Frankly, it's impossible to fit everything in in just one week. 

On Friday night, the day after we'd gotten into town, I left Matt at home and my mama, sister, and I drove out to my aunt's in the country for her annual Christmas girls' night (we're all girl cousins). We eat, drink, laugh, and play games--it's lots of fun. I took this picture, which is a terrible, badly-lit iPhone picture, but you can get an idea, at least:

I seriously need to invest in a camera.

My aunt Pat, the one with the little dog in her lap, lives in a beautiful, cabin-esque house in the country. She decks it out at to the nines at Christmas. See what I mean?

Shudder.

As usual, we spent Christmas Eve with my dad and stepmom, and Christmas day at my mama's with her whole extended family. My dad made Brunswick Stew (at Matt's request) and a delicious potato soup for me, and we opened gifts by the tree as Dad pulled out his inappropriate, raucous monkey puppet, Marv. 

Here, Marv is claiming to be Beyonce's real baby daddy.

It was nice and cold on Christmas Day (though sadly, no snow this year), and we welcomed family & friends over to my mama's house throughout the day. It's always so good to see everyone . . . but by the end of the night, I'm exhausted! I didn't take enough pictures, but here are a couple I snapped:

Matt opening gifts from my family

Mama, very excited about the power drill we got her!

Leon, basking in the glow of the Christmas tree

Adam and Jason, two of my besties who just bought their first house together!

I wish I'd been a better documentarian on our trip (and used a real camera). We squeezed a lot into this trip--Matt and I went to see this incredible band of four sisters with one of my oldest friends, Lane; we trekked out to Jasper, Georgia, to see the town that shares a name with Matt's son (and visited a gun/hunting store with more camo-wearing men than I cared to count); visited with my friends Laura and Zach and their darling son, Slate; and spent some time cuddling with my oldest friend Lesley's new baby, Phoebe:

Be still my heart!

Oh, and my cousin Ashley cut nearly 10 inches off my hair. I went to her salon and in a sudden act of bravery, asked her to just chop it. I'm still adjusting, but overall, I like it. Here's a picture:

The shortest it has been in at least ten years!

Tell me all about your holidays! What you did, what you gave, what you received, etc. etc. I want to hear it all!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

Source: flickr.com via Leah on Pinterest

I'm sitting here at my mama's house in Georgia, gazing at her beautiful tree (it's 5 am and I can't sleep, but on the bright side, the tree is mighty pretty). Last night she pointed out that despite any--or all--of our struggles, we are so lucky. Sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed by things that feel so important in the moment, and it can be hard to forgive others and ourselves, but ultimately? We have a lot to be thankful for. 

Often in January I give myself a word to focus on for the year. A couple years ago it was productivity, and before that it was progress. This coming year, it's going to be peace

We spend Christmas Eve with our dad and Christmas day with our mama, so it's off to celebration #1 tonight. I'm grateful to have Matt here and excited about a couple of special gifts I got for people this year--isn't it wonderful to get something you know is going to be a hit? 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, in whatever form you celebrate or don't. 

Also, if you haven't already, enter Leeann's blogiversary giveaway! The winner will receive a Target gift card, two skull bracelets, a knitted bow headband, an Etsy giftcard, and my contribution: Free People earrings. 

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cards!

I've already expressed how smitten I am with our Christmas tree, and I'm equally crazy about Christmas cards. Thank you so much to everyone who has sent us a card so far. They're all taped up on the back of our front door (where they'll stay all year!), and I'm adding to the collection as I eagerly check the mail every day.

The space below the peep hole is for my sister's card, which will feature my nephew (their Great Dane, Leon), whose face I like to stare at at eye-level all year round.

Another thing making me happy this Christmas is this post. MODG--hilarious and not-your-typical mommy blogger--did this last year & it is truly magical to behold. If you have a need, you post it. If you can give, you respond. I've spent countless hours reading all the posts, as it's so heartening to see people helping out this time of year. Check it out. If you are in need, you will get help. If you can give, you might make someone's Christmas. 

Matt and I are heading to Georgia tomorrow to spend Christmas with my family! My dad was generous enough to give us skymiles so we could both make the trip. Even though it will be a bittersweet Christmas because it will be our first without my grandma (and Ignatius), I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone. I think my dreams of having a white Christmas have officially been dashed, however--I checked the weather today, and it's 25 degrees warmer in Georgia than it is here in the Bay. Whaaaaatttttt?

Last thing: my dear bloggy & IRL friend Leeann is having a five-year blogiversary giveaway. FIVE YEARS! I'm contributing a pair of Free People earrings (my fave):


So go enter here! You could win all kinds of good stuff for the holidays. :)

Hope everyone's enjoying the season--next time you here from me, I'll be in the deep South!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Thoughts on Teachers & Sandy Hook

I can't stop thinking about the discussions that schools across the country--especially elementary schools--are going to have today with their students. I can only hope that these schools are equipped with the resources they need: counselors, parent involvement, empathetic administrators, among other things.

Yesterday, Matt's 9 year old son asked me, "Did any kids die?" It took me off guard and frankly, I was surprised he didn't already know the answer. Although I suspect that ultimately, he kind of did. There was really only one thing I could say: I told him that yes, some kids had died, but that this was a completely rare, freakish event, and that he shouldn't be afraid to go to school.

His teachers are going to have to field a lot more questions, most of which they won't know the answers to. They're doing tough work for all of us today.

p.s.: What do you think of the controversial article, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother?" It looks like the blogger has changed the original name of the post. In any case, I don't know. I guess I think the message is important, but it sort of gives me the chills that she compares her son--who hasn't killed anyone--to a mass murderer. NBC interviewed her here, though I haven't watched it yet.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Johnny Was

One of my coworkers at McSweeney's wears the prettiest dresses & tunics. I've complimented her several times, and finally, on Monday, asked where she gets these treasures. She told me they're from Johnny Was, an L.A. based boutique that has a store down in San Jose. I'm seriously contemplating a trip down to Santana Row after the holidays (given that I'm currently way too broke from Christmas fallout to shop for myself!). 

Check out some of these gorgeous pieces from their gypsy-inspired, boho chic collection:

I want this so bad it hurts.



If this is still on sale when I next get paid, it will be mine!





I haven't been this obsessed with a clothing line in a while. Discovering Johnny Was really makes me wish I had more discretionary money! Those draped wraps in particular . . . they make me swoon! What do you think of these flowy, bohemian clothes? I'm in love!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Santa Baby?

The other day, I got my cousin Ashley's Christmas card in the mail, and on the front was a picture of her adorable daughter, Emma Kate, throwing a fit on Santa's lap. It is basically the most hilarious card ever, and it reminded me how much I love seeing pictures of kids losing their shizz whilst visiting ye old Kris Kringle. Here is the specific picture I speak of:

Emma Kate does not love Santa Claus.

Shortly after Ashley's card arrived, my friend Lindsay's showed up in the mail . . . containing this gem:

The twins also do not love Santa.

I mean, I do feel a smidgen of guilt thinking that these pictures are so funny. Parents basically sacrifice their kids' comfort and security by throwing them onto the lap of a large, bearded, strange man, and then step back far enough to take a good picture while the children howl. And yet I'm so glad they do, cause it's amazingly funny. 

So funny, in fact, that I put a call out on facebook for similar pictures, and here's what I got. Feast your eyes on this gold mine:

JD & Santa

Elise & Santa

The one above is particularly funny because this Santa, on whose lap Elise sits, is her very own father. And yet still, pure terror. HA!

Kruz, Gabriella, & Santa

Baby Indio & Santa

Reese (nephew of le Bargain Blonde) & Santa

Olivia, her mom Bethany, & Santa

Even sitting on her own mama's lap did not calm Olivia's terror around Santa Claus . . .

Walter, his tonsils, & Santa

my uncle Mike, my aunts, & Santa . . . circa 1960 (before my mama was born!)

How awesome is my aunt Pat (on the right in the picture) for being able to dig up & produce this picture mere minutes after I requested screaming-child-in-Santa's-lap pics? 

These have not only made my day, but they've pretty much made my holiday season. Thanks for sharing your kids' misery with me. I hope they all get sweet presents to make up for their nightmare-inducing Santa visit. Wait--is this a form of immersion therapy?

Merry early Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Alternative Gift Guide

Hunting for the perfect gift is simultaneously one of the most fun and stressful pre-Christmas activities. There's nothing like buying a gift you just know the recipient is gonna love, but then there's that dreadful scrambling-for-a-gift that inevitably results in spending a billion last-minute dollars on something of questionable value.

This year my family made really specific lists, so there hasn't been a lot of mystery involved. Matt was sort of puzzled by this . . . he said in his family, they don't make lists; rather, they seek out unique gifts they hope (but don't know) that each other will like. Somehow, that way sort of retains the magic, I think. I've already proposed to my family that we abandon lists next year.

I'm pretty much done shopping, but here are some things I think would make excellent, slightly-outside-the-mainstream gifts:

What a hilarious way to drink your coffee, right? Perfect gift/stocking stuffer for your coffee drinking brother/sister/spouse/mom/dad with a sense of humor and an appreciation for decorative motherfuckin' gourd season.
Where to buy: McSweeney's 
Price: $12

Source: fab.com via Claire on Pinterest
Okay so the truth is that I really really really want this shirt. 
Where to buy: fab.com
Price: $19.50

Source: fab.com via Claire on Pinterest
This ring is pretty f'ing sweet, and they have it in NYC, London, and Seattle as well (though I had to feature San Francisco, duh!)
Where to buy: fab.com
Price: $70

Okay so this is Voice of Witness' newest title and I work for Voice of Witness . . . but damn if it isn't an incredible book. It's our first book that's primarily photography-based, and it documents the photos and stories of refugees as they first arrive in the United States.
Where to buy: McSweeney's
Price: $25


If there's anyone in your life who loves Sons of Anarchy and has a new baby, he or she needs this (it comes in pink, too).
Where to buy: FX Shop
Price: $9.95

Have you bought any gifts that are funny, clever, edgy, or that you're particularly proud of this year? Tell me about them! And happy blinged out tree season, motherfuckers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beauty Rituals

The more I read bloggers' posts on their beauty rituals and favorite products, the more I think about what I do (and don't do) on the reg. For instance:

*I don't have a face wash I swear by. I'm currently using a combination of Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash and Biore Warming Anti-Blackhead Cream Cleanser, but frankly. . . I'm not that picky.

*I don't use the same shampoo all the time. In fact, I used to care a lot and would only buy fancy stuff like Bumble & Bumble or Redken. But in the past couple years I've accepted that I can't afford fancy everything, so now I mostly use TreSemme or the organic stuff from Whole Foods.

*I do care very much about foundation! I hate the idea of thick, runny drugstore foundation (omg remember the way Cover Girl foundation smelled in the 90's? Does it still smell that way? The horror!). I use a tinted moisturizer + mineral powder and that is generally it for foundation.

This is my fave: sephora.com

*Eyeshadow is the most important part of my makeup routine. I mix it up a little, but tend to stay with browns and purples (I have green eyes). I love my Naked 2 Palette that my sister and brother-in-law got me for my birthday, and I use Maybelline's Color Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk (it's purple, I promise!) almost every day as well. I really want some more of them (Audacious Asphalt, Bad to the Bronze, Tough as Taupe, and Bold Gold are in my wheelhouse). Also: e.l.f. has really great, cheap mineral eyeshadow! I have three purple shades & they're solid. 

*I've been using Crest Whitestrips (thanks to Influenster) and am really impressed with the results. My teeth are sorta high risk because I drink coffee every day & plenty of red wine. ;) I haven't used them every single night, but I've been pretty regular with them, and I can definitely see a change in my teeth: they really are visibly whiter. 


The only trouble I have is that they leave my teeth feeling quite sore. I asked the darling Brianna about this (since she is a dental hygienist), and she recommended taking an Advil right before applying the strips and/or the next day when they're hurting. That's definitely brought me some relief. In-office whitening treatments are SO EXPENSIVE that they're totally out of the question for me. Since these Crest Whitestrips really do work, I'll be using them again for sure . . . just buying a bottle of ibuprofen along with them. ;)

Tell me about your beauty routines! What are your do's and don'ts?

*p.s. You really should join Influenster if you haven't already. So fun to test products for review!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekend Update: Lazybones

Really, only one significant thing happened this weekend: we got our Christmas tree! Unfailingly one of my favorite days of the year.


The living room is kind of a mess, but isn't the tree lovely? Other than trekking out to get the tree on Friday, we didn't do a whole hell of a lot. December is the month where I basically don't want to do anything other than sit on my couch staring at the tree and watching Christmas movies (so far Matt and I have watched The Christmas Puppy and The Christmas Bunny--I kid you not). Unfortunately, work beckons . . . but this evening, you know where to find me.

What did you do this weekend?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

#SportsFreak365

It's funny that I'm loyal to the New Orleans Saints and not the Atlanta Falcons. When I really think about it, I think it's probably because college football is so big in the South . . . and my college (Tulane University) was all kinds of awesome, but they don't exactly have a world-class football team. ;)  Therefore, the Saints are sort of the bridge between college and football for me, since I went to school in New Orleans.

One can find many a fleur de lis around my house. :) The Saints mean more to me than football; my love for the team is deeply connected to my love for the city and all it has overcome.

Thanks to the Clever Girls Collective, I received an NFL #SportsFreak365 custom calendar featuring my favorite NOLA boys!


You can create your own calendar here. There are over 3000 players to choose from, and you can select which pictures go with which months (you can even choose which month you want to start your calendar with!). What's even cooler is that you can enter custom text & pictures to mark birthdays/anniversaries/etc. on your calendar! And if you order now, they're 35% off (regularly $24.95). 

Showing off your team spirit has never been easier! Whatever team you root for and whatever sport they play, find the gear you need at SportsFreak365.com. Just in time for the holidays, you can get 30% off  any purchase using the code “Clever30.” And while you’re there, be sure to enter to win $500 toward team gear in Ditka’s SportsFreak of the Week Contest!

I was selected for participation in this campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What happens in Vegas . . .

You know your job is pretty awesome when it sends you to Vegas for an English teachers' conference. And you get to stay at the Cosmopolitan and hang out with your buddy Lindsey and attend a workshop entitled Literacy on Lockdown about teaching writing in correctional facilities. The conference was really great--TONS of books, lots of information, lots of chatting about our incredible Voice of Witness titles . . . but I'm pretty sure y'all are not nearly as interested in the National Council of Teachers of English as you are in my time with everyone's favorite Bargain Blonde.

Lindsey and I had an amazing time together, but we only took ONE PICTURE. Well, she took one picture of me on Thursday night but suffice to say it is inappropriate for the internet. In any case, here's all I got:


We had our typical wild Vegas night on Thursday, which was a blast. But let me tell you that the City of Sin is freakin' EXPENSIVE! I paid $4.25 for a plain coffee in the mornings and we couldn't even afford a bottle of wine at dinner Thursday night, because there was only ONE BOTTLE under $100. Ridic. So we did what any smart girls would do . . . we headed to the hole-in-the-wall pizza joint where they serve huge glasses of $6 box wine. Ha.

After the boxed wine, before the real shenanigans

On Friday night, we went with one of Lindsey's new friends to La Cave (inside The Wynn). We had all kinds of delicious food, most notably S'MORES FLATBREAD:

it tasted even better than it looks

And the food adventures didn't stop there. On Saturday night, we went to the Cosmopolitan's famed buffet, the Wicked Spoon, and oh my Lord was it good. I mean I felt like I wanted to die afterwards, but ultimately, it was worth it. The mashed potatoes . . . the nutella gelato . . . the mac and cheese bar.

So I guess I pretty much just described my Weekend in Food with Lindsey. Which is fitting, since we pretty much discuss food 24/7, ha. Even better than the food we ate & the drinks we drank, though, was all the laughing and talking that's been building up for months. She's pretty much the best: beautiful and funny and friendly and smart. But you already knew that. ;)

As if that weren't enough awesomeness for one weekend . . . this happened:


I saw on Instagram that Meghan was in Vegas . . . the very same weekend I was! We've been chatting via our blogs (and email, and twitter) for a couple years now, so we knew we had to meet up! Meghan came to the Cosmopolitan and we met at one of the many fancy bars there for some Joel Gott Cabernet (so funny to go to Las Vegas and drink wine that originates 45 minutes from where I live). We only had an hour together, but rest assured that I could have easily hung out with her for five more! She's even more darling in person than she is on her adorable blog. Meghan, I'm so excited that we got to hang out! Here's hoping that next time, it's for longer. :)

I think I've written enough for one dang blog post, but I'll be back in a day or two to tell you about these cool performance artists Lindsey & I experienced. Happy almost-Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Tuesday Miscellany

Apparently I've been too busy for blogging these days! Trying to snap back into shape in the form of a general life update + some randoms:

This past weekend was so pretty in San Francisco. It's finally starting to get chilly (yay!) and a trip downtown on Friday night proved that my favorite time of year has arrived!

The tree in Union Square

Even better than the big tree? The ice skating rink is open!! I can't wait to get tickets and make a date to skate around Union Square while listening to Christmas music and gazing at the enormous tree. It's one of my favorite things to do all year. While we didn't ice skate on Friday night, Matt and I did have a sushi date downtown, followed by dessert at Burger Bar. Feast your eyes on this:


That is a sugar donut (halved), passion fruit gelee, a nutella "burger," cheesecake mousse, kiwi, and strawberry. Holy mother, it was amazing. Terrified to calculate how many calories I consumed with that bad boy, but it was unequivocally worth it!

I did have to exercise a lot this weekend to make up for the Dessert Incident of Friday Night. I went for a neighborhood run on Saturday, and then put in 5.5 hilly miles (alternating running & walking) on Sunday. I still may not have burned off those Burger Bar calories . . . haha.

And then something marvelous happened on Sunday:

nola.com

The Saints beat their rivals--the previously undefeated Falcons--on Sunday! I was biting my nails on the edge of my seat, but my boys brought home a sweet, sweet victory in the end. The Saints/Falcons games are especially meaningful to me since I'm from Atlanta, but went to college in New Orleans and am a Saints fan. You can imagine the shit-talkin' that goes down on my facebook timeline. ;) I didn't gloat, though . . . it was an incredibly well-played game on both sides, and the score is always close between these two teams. In any case, WHO DAT!

Yesterday it was back to the grind, with meetings and classroom visits and such. But I'm lucky to have a job that I think is fun. I know that's pretty rare. And speaking of my job, I'm off to Vegas on Thursday for the National Council of Teachers of English conference . . . needless to say, I cannot wait to see this girl

In other news, have you seen this blog post? I cannot stop reading. 

Also, this is my current favorite thing:


But don't ask me where I got it.

Okay, time to get back to work. Looking forward to catching up on your blogs--I've missed everyone!