2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,300 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


New Year’s Eve

Does anyone else wonder what the big deal with this day is?  I suppose that sounds bitter, and it’s not supposed to– I had two party invites and another invites for drinks- but I’m just not feeling it tonight. Mom says New Years is depressing because it’s sort of the end of the holiday season, and maybe that’s true. Or maybe it’s just this odd pressure the culture seems to put on this random night to be magical.  Heck, there’s even a movie about it, just like the movie they made to highlight my other favorite holiday, Valentines Day.

Despte the fact that I’m celebrating this holiday in exactly the opposite way than the world tells me I should (I’m at home, single as can be, and hanging out with my parents), I’m okay with it.  Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity.

Now excuse me, Jeopardy is on.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

It’s 4:32 EST, and I’m about to head to bed.  I’ve just returned from the traditional post-Midnight Mass party, and I stayed a bit later this year knowing that there will be no small children waking me up early tomorrow.  The party consists of visiting with old friends (one of which I hadn’t seen in three or four years) and caroling on the front porch until the police come.  Well, they didn’t come this year, nor did the newspaper boy.  But the caroling was still beautiful — you can’t beat caroling four-part harmony at 3:45am.

Midnight Mass was beautiful, as it always is.  It’s one of my favorite liturgies of the year, just behind Holy Thursday.  There’s something about that burst of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with the trumpet as the servers begin to walk up the aisle that gets me every time.

It’s strange that it’s just Mom, Dad, and I tomorrow morning — it’s not the first time, but that doesn’t make it less strange. Christmas isn’t quite the same without the little people making it a bit more magical.  But I know that everyone has to do what is best for their family on Christmas, so while the heart is heavy, it’s also an understanding heart. : )  It will be good to see my brother and his family by dinner time.

I hope everyone has a beautiful feast!  May the Christ child bless you abundantly!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

“Formerly, people had spoken of God and formed human images of him in all sorts of different ways. God himself had spoken in many and various ways to mankind. But now something new has happened: he has appeared. He has revealed himself. He has emerged from the inaccessible light in which he dwells. He himself has come into our midst. This was the great joy of Christmas for the early Church: God has appeared. No longer is he merely an idea, no longer do we have to form a picture of him on the basis of mere words… The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed: this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas.” -Pope Benedict XVI, Midnight Mass, 2011


Christmas Preparations

Sorry I’ve been away.  My blog has suffered because I’ve been engaged in real communication, both face-to-face and written correspondence in the form of Christmas cards.  I’ve also been engaged in Advent baking, Advent cleaning, Advent decorating, and Advent socializing.

Let’s take a trip through the last few weeks in the form of pictures.  (Don’t fret, I haven’t forgotten that I left you smack dab in the middle of my trip to Rome.  It’s just that when I have ten minutes to blog, it’s easier to post a bunch of pictures than to wax eloquently about an incredible experience.)

I had the day off on December 8th, so I spent the day finishing up Christmas shopping and then cleaning my apartment.  It would be embarrassing to admit that there were still boxes in my bedroom that needed to be unpacked from my move, so I won’t admit it.   But it was very, very productive day.  I went down to my storage closet and brought up all my Christmas decorations and started to decorate by the evening, but then it was time to go eat tiramisu and drink red wine to celebrate my friend Manda’s birthday.  So I finished up a few days later.

Here’s my tree, a shot of the shepherds up on the bookshelf, watching their sheep and waiting for Christmas, and then a new little thing I did in the window between my kitchen and living room.  You can’t really tell, but those are little red and green jingle bells hanging from sprigs of berries.

The following week I had a lovely birthday.  It included a trip to the Grilled Cheeserie food truck for lunch with friends, dinner with friends, and The Bishop’s Wife (a lovely movie if you haven’t seen it!) with friends.

I didn’t take pictures of my lovely friends, but I did take a picture of the lovely cocktail Laura made us while we watched The Bishop’s Wife.  (She also made a peanut butter pie that was amazing.)

I also took a picture of the fabulous cookies my friend Liza made for me.  Nutella sandwich cookies.  That recipe clearly had my name written all over it.  (I’m beginning to worry about myself.  I only take pictures of food and drink.)

A few days later was our office Christmas party.  I’m sure many people groan about their office Christmas party, but I was really looking forward to ours.  We’ve never really had an official Christmas party — the typical dress-up affair where you bring your spouse and drink wine and mingle.  We’ve had luncheons, and I guess there was an unofficial party a few years back, but no one really remembers a time when we had the classic office party.

I brought it up to our president at one point, and she ran with it.  She put me in charge and told me to have at it.

I think there was some doubt in the planning stages amongst some of my coworkers, but we didn’t let that bother us. My friend Jennie and I went to a local hotel to see if they could help.  They worked hard to keep us under budget, and the Sisters gave the okay.   Jennie designed beautiful invitations, I helped put them together, and suddenly, people began to look forward to the shindig.  The plan was to have a Holy Hour at 5, then head to the hotel for heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

I really wanted it to be a dressy affair, but all I could do was hope the beauty of the invitation conveyed that to people.  It’s hard to begin a tradition (although looking back at my time in college, I seem to have a knack for it…) because you don’t have much to work with and you want to start things off right.

Not to be prideful, but I think this tradition started off right.

First of all, we had a macaroni and cheese bar.  Who doesn’t like a macaroni and cheese bar?!  When Jennie and I met with the hotel and heard that was a menu possibility, I think that was the deciding factor for the hotel.  At least it was for me.  And it didn’t disappoint.

photo courtesy of M.Koshute

Seriously, how fun is that?  Macaroni and cheese in martini glasses?  It was a hit.

We also had butler-passed wassail for the first hour.  Also a hit.  At least with me.

It was such a lovely evening.  I think most everyone appreciated the time at the end of the semester to wind down, chat with coworkers, meet spouses, exchange presents with “Advent Angels” (that’s a future post in and of itself) and pose for pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  In some ways, we were back in 8th grade.  But that’s besides the point.

(I’ve asked none of these people for permission to post the following pictures.  I hope they don’t sue me.)

photo courtesy of P.Downey

Those are the awesome people who work in the same trailer building as I do.  Some may accuse us of being the cool kids on campus.  They would be correct.

photo courtesy of P. Downey

Aren’t our fascinators fantastic?  Yeah, in all honesty, it wasn’t the macaroni and cheese bar that made the party.  It was our fascinators.

Liza and I made them the night before.  (Maria just wanted a single flower.  I know- it’s hard to believe someone wouldn’t want feathers on their head, right?  I don’t understand it either.)  You can’t really get the full effect of them in this picture (and no, the lights are the chandelier in the room, they are not attached to my head)   Not only was it fun to create them, it made for hilarious quotes such as, “I’m not hot-gluing your head” (Liza to Joannie) and “Go big or go home” (Joannie to Liza) or “I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more feathers!”  (Liza making fun of Joannie wanting more feathers)

We may have gotten some funny looks, but I think secretly everyone wanted one of their own.

The next day I recovered from the party and spent the day listening to Christmas music (I had made a playlist for the party that was 9 hours long.  So I had plenty to listen to…) and baking holiday treats.  These were the highpoint:

Tiramisu cookie balls.  I won’t show you the low point (chocolate peppermint cookies that were a bust).  But after a day and a half of baking and making treats, I had enough to fill little bags for my friends!

Yesterday afternoon was spent drinking tea and watching Miracle on 34th Street (don’t worry, Dad, the old one) with my friends.  Now the Advent festivities continue, as we continue to prepare for Christmas by watching MORE Christmas movies.  Tonight– It’s a Wonderful Life — on the big screen!


The day has arrived!

I’ve lived in the South for several years now… without a Chick-fil-A.  Can you imagine?  I live in the SOUTH… and the nearest Chick-fil-A was a half an hour away (sometimes longer with traffic).

That’s just not acceptable.

Until TODAY!  Opening three miles away from work, our new Chick-fil-A promises to bring much happiness.  And weight gain.

To celebrate:


Everyone should buy themselves birthday presents. (unless you know whatever it is might be coming from someone else- then it’s just mean. Or dumb.)

I received a $10 gift certificate from World Market for my birthday, because they’re brilliant and know if they give you $10, you’ll spend $20. Surprisingly, I was good and didn’t buy the scarf I was first drawn to- because it was certainly not $10.

Instead, I wandered over to the houseware section, figuring there was definitely something I needed for the kitchen.

Luckily, I remembered the dishwasher had eaten my tablespoon measuring spoon awhile ago, something I usually only remember when I’m baking and annoyed I have to measure everything in teaspoons.

So I treated myself to these. Aren’t they great?



Happy birthday to me! 🙂