Archive for November, 2010

In my 25 years, I’ve only once not spent Thanksgiving with my family. And that one time was five years ago while I was studying abroad in Paris. Instead, the program organized a dinner for us out at a restaurant, where the waitstaff humored our tradition by bringing out a giant turkey on a platter, then promptly taking it away to carve and serve.

But that’s the only time. Until now.

Tomorrow we’ll fly out to LA to celebrate Thanksgiving with the boyfriend’s family and friends, and I’ll be meeting his brother and his mom for the first time. No pressure.

(I actually have a little boyfriend-approved gift for his brother that will either make him hate me, OR appreciate my sense of humor. I’ll let you know.)

So, of course I’ve been considering what to pack in order to make an appropriate first impression, and there’s one thing that’s throwing me for a loop: a warm Thanksgiving!

November is supposed to be chilly, and Philly has almost always stuck to that formula. Sweaters and jeans, or dresses and boots, or sweats and sweats (depending on what stage of the meal we’re in) have always been the norm. And when I was a child, my family and I always traveled to my grandparents’ home in upstate New York (think: just over the border from Canada) for this holiday, so I’m used to Thanksgivings looking like this:

You don’t worry about looking cute there; you worry about keeping warm and not getting lost in the drifts.

Not that I’m complaining about a warm holiday, mind you. I am most definitely looking forward to it. It’s just going to take a little more planning on how to hide the turkey bulge, when I don’t have all the sweater layers to work with.

Any suggestions? Because not indulging really isn’t an option.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Read Full Post »

I know I’ve been talking about the move a lot, and how much work it was (and continues to be). But this weekend wasn’t all work and no play. In fact, the weekend started off with plans with MJ – dinner, drinks, and a date with Harry Potter.

Now, I’ve ranted briefly about this series before. I love the books, without question, and I fully enjoyed the first four movies. The fifth one irritated me, in that it seemed as though the director (or whoever else was in charge) made sloppy mistakes or blatant changes in the story. After the sixth one, I was beyond irritated. I was furious.

I left the theater wishing I had seen it with someone, just so I could rant. In fact, I called my brother, who had already seen it, and wasted no time in outlining everything wrong with it. I was in the middle of ranting about the language, the made up scenes, the changes in timeline, and the casting choices as he told me that I was being hypercritical.

I disagree.

In any case, with those past experiences I went into the first part of the seventh movie preparing to hate it. I was seeing it because that’s what you do when you love the books and you’ve seen all the movies leading up to it. And how can I fairly critique something without seeing it first? (Not that that’s stopped me before.)

But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. I might even say I enjoyed the movie.

There were, of course, some things that I disagreed with as far as timeline and casting, but overall? Very well done.

I might even see it again.

Plus, I kind of loved the two girls in the audience that dressed up as Harry and the Snitch and ran a lap around the theater.

Can’t wait for Part II – it seems so far away now!

Read Full Post »

Every time I move I say that I never want to move again, and this past weekend was no exception. We’ve agreed that should we change apartments again, we will be hiring movers. And now it’s in writing, just in case one of us forgets.

Overall, though, everything went well. The big pieces are in and the rearranging has begun. The dust we’ve kicked up has been fighting back with a vengeance (I was sneezing and sniffly pretty non-stop yesterday), but things are slowly settling into place. And I love this part. The organizing, combining, and turning this apartment into our home.

That’s not to say, however, that the move is completely done.

What it feels like sometimes

You see, I underestimated just how much stuff I have. Particularly kitchen stuff. I still have about 4-5 boxes (not all of them big, mind you) of glasses, mixing bowls, pots, and pans to go over to the new place. But that’s also not including my cookie/baking sheets, muffin tins, and pie plates (all of which I do actually use, so I can’t justify tossing) or the kitchen goodies that I’ve already brought over – namely my crock pot.

Thanks to Cla’s influence, though, I’m feeling far more comfortable letting go of things. I’ve already posted three such things on Craigslist, and my donation bags continue to grow. It’s kind of liberating, actually.

I’ll continue the packing tonight while enjoying a glass of wine with another girlfriend, who will hopefully want to take some of these items off my hands. But, even if she doesn’t, I no longer feel quite as guilty about getting rid of them.

And that’s a HUGE step for me.

Read Full Post »

The other week, Cla made this offer: “I was thinking that maybe I could come over and help you pack – and help you throw things out.

I absolutely appreciated the offer. She knows me. She knows I hoard. She also knows that I come by it honestly.

(Sorry, Mama. Would you like a Cla for Christmas?)

So last night was our “let’s toss it” date. I felt like I was on a combination episode of “What Not to Wear” and “How Do I Look?” And Cla, with BnB’s help, was the host.

I had to justify nearly every piece of clothing I wanted to save, and Cla informed me that there was no need to keep more than 10 t-shirts – even if [insert every excuse I came up with]. There were some tops that I just hadn’t worn in forever, even though I still thought they were super cute, one of which was an argyle halter top.

Liebchen,” BnB informed me, “I think you’re mature enough to actually have an argyle sweater with arms.” So away went the halter. Along with four bags/boxes worth of other clothing.

At one point, I made the mistake of admitting that I was glad I’d already taken some things over to the boyfriend’s, so Cla couldn’t throw them out.

So you’re hiding things! Maybe we should go over there next!

She was entirely too excited about continuing the purge. The possibility of her sneaking into the new apartment just to weed out more clothes was also broached.

And then came the moment of the night.

You see, I have an entire package of knee high stockings. At one point, I thought they were really practical to wear with pants. And that logic may still hold true, but I never wear them. And that’s what prompted this conversation:

BnB: “Why do you have so many knee highs?

Cla: “You could wear them to rob a bank! I’m going to take some for when I sneak into your apartment. (beat) Maybe I should try one on now.

BnB tried to help, but it was really hard for any of us to stop laughing.

Eventually, though, Cla was successful.

"It's hurting my eyebrows!"

And a little scary.

All in all, I would say that the night was productive. The company was fantastic. The truth wasn’t even close to sugar-coated. The closets were purged.

And I got the go-ahead to replace a few items that I ended up throwing out.

But, I also made a deal on a number of articles that if I don’t wear them by the end of this season, they’ll have to go.

And I have no doubt that Cla will hold me to that. With or without the stocking mask.

*A little Cla commentary on one of my running shirts. So now some lucky donation center is getting a chipmunk running suit.

Read Full Post »

One of the overarching themes of both my history and international relations classes has been the Cold War. We’ve looked at the causes, the threats, the politics, and the effects both then and now. So it’s safe to say that I think or talk about the Cold War on a fairly regular basis. And, as much as I think about it in terms of class and lecture, it also makes me think of middle school.

Yes, middle school.

To my recollection, we didn’t study the Cold War in junior high. We were more focused on Ancient Greece and Egypt and the Renaissance. We didn’t get to modern history until high school. And the Cold War was well over by the time I entered 6th grade, so it wasn’t something that I’d grown up thinking about.

The Cold War reminds me of middle school because of a boy.

I met Griff probably the first day of 6th grade, and shortly after that he became my boyfriend. Basically, he walked me to classes, occasionally carried my books, complimented me, and we sometimes talked on the phone. It lasted all of a month.

He broke up with me by having one of our mutual friends come up to me in class and say, “Griff doesn’t want to date you anymore.” And my little 11-year-old heart was shattered. But I survived.

After the breakup, we didn’t really talk at all, save for group projects, so imagine my surprise when Griff started whispering things at me across the classroom, and in the hall. And it wasn’t just “things;” he would whisper the same phrase over and over:

“The Cold War is over! The Cold War is over!”

It was always in a kind of shouting whisper, like he didn’t want anyone to hear, but he was also trying to make his point.

To say I was confused would be an understatement.

I asked my friend, Lesser, what it meant (consequently, she was the one who had helped Griff break up with me, and she was also going out with his best friend), but she had no idea. I think I even asked my mom at one point, also without a satisfactory explanation.

You might argue that the most productive thing would have been to ask Griff what he meant, but that’s just logical. And how many logical 6th grade girls do you know?

Regardless, I never found out his reasoning behind the phrase. And even when we became friends years down the road, I never bothered to ask him. But now, every time we talk about the Cold War in class I think of Griff.

And I wonder if he would even remember saying it.

Read Full Post »

In packing up my apartment and throwing things out, I’ve come across papers and notes and memories that I hadn’t thought about in ages. One such note came from Cla, right before we graduated from college. We didn’t yet know that we’d both end up in DC, so she decided to leave me with a few words of wisdom.

You see, I’m not a particularly fashion savvy person. I can pull an outfit together, but I’m not always up on the current trends. And I’ve been known to keep an item of clothing for far too long, just because it kind of fits, or doesn’t have too many holes.

During school, I would often consult Clara on outfit choice, color schemes, and all around flattering-ness. So when her words of wisdom turned out to be sage fashion advice, I wasn’t at all surprised, and was honestly a little grateful.

Upon re-reading the list, I realized that many of the tips are common sense, and many I already knew, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

Sorry guys...

A sampling:

1) Denim and denim is NEVER acceptable.

3) An expensive pair of shades or a handbag is an excellent accent to any outfit.

4) Note: Target is a good source for basics.

5) A pair of jeans that look fabulous on YOU will never go out of style.

10) Jewelry – often less is more, unless you’re going to an 80s themed party.

11) Fancy flip-flops are a must for summer.

15) The distance is never too far for shopping at outlet stores.

17) Wear polos sparingly and be careful of their fit; they can make one’s torso look shorter.

18) Certain t-shirts should really only be worn to the gym.

19) Just because it’s in style doesn’t mean it works for you.

20) Be wary of princess waist shirts – if they’re cheaply made the way they fall can make anyone look preggers.

Like I said, a lot of common sense, but also good advice. And a pretty good litmus test for whether or not I should actually keep some of the things currently populating my wardrobe.

Plus, the more I throw out, the more I can justify a trip to the outlets, right? Isn’t that how this works?

Read Full Post »

Exactly one month from today, I will be completely done with my first semester of grad school. I will have turned in all papers, completed all presentations, and just finished my final final exam.

And then I will get on a plane and go far far away…to Puerto Rico!

A couple months ago the boyfriend mentioned that he had friends in San Juan who live right on the beach. Not just a block away, but step-out-the-back-door-and-you’re-on-sand on the beach. And for some crazy reason they want us to visit. They invited us. And who are we to say no to a week of sun, warmth, and relaxation in the middle of December?

So in one month, I’ll be on my way to this:

And maybe even attempting a little bit of this, if his friends are patient teachers:

All in all, this is my light at the end of a long and stressful school tunnel, and it will be my primary motivation over the next 30 days.


Read Full Post »

I was worried with the cooler weather that some of my 25 for 25 goals might have to be pushed to next spring – things like skydiving, hitting a home run, doing an underwear run, and hiking at Great Falls. Luckily, November weather has been more than cooperative, and I finally had a weekend (mostly) free from schoolwork, so we took advantage.

The boyfriend loves Great Falls and I’d never been, so it seemed like a perfect Saturday activity. We hiked just Section A of the Billy Goat Trail, but I’m already hooked. I can’t wait to go back and add B and C to the mix.

The views were breathtaking and postcard-esque, even from my little point-and-shoot:

The trails were challenging, and made for a great workout (especially when we ventured off the beaten path):

"I'm going up that?!"

The perfectly still water allowed me a shot at an artsy photo or two:

And the chances to mimic movie/TV scenes could not be passed up:

My own Dirty Dancing balancing act. Take that, Baby.

Listen – I know this isn’t a flattering photo of me, but I was not about to miss a chance to act out “Jack fighting John Locke/Man in Black from Lost on the cliffs” when I had the perfect setting for it. If you’re a fan, you understand.

All in all, it was a perfect Saturday adventure that I can’t wait to repeat.

Note: All the super cool edited photos came from the boyfriend’s iPhone. My point-and-shoot is starting to get a complex.

Read Full Post »

Back in 2007, after graduating in May, I was spending the summer at home searching the job boards and sending out resumes left and right. I wasn’t set on DC; I was open to anything. But when August rolled around, and I still wasn’t getting many responses, I realized I had to do something drastic.

So I moved.

On September 1st I left my parents’ house and moved to Ballston. Cla, who was already down here and working, and I had found a place close enough to the metro, and cheap enough to fit our budget – and hadn’t yet realized the difference between DC and DC Metro Area.

The first couple weeks were fun. I played housewife and decorated the apartment, cleaned, cooked, and applied for jobs while Cla was at work during the day. I went out for runs, exploring my new neighborhood, finding trails and shops and restaurants.

But then two weeks turned into a month. And then a little longer. And then a little longer. And once you hit that point it feels like you’re never going to find a job. Ever.

I’d had interviews, sure, but nothing that I loved. And nothing, to be honest, that I was ultimately offered.

By the time my current job called me back, it had been about a month since I’d turned in my application. They asked me in for an interview in mid-October; for a second one by the end of the month; and then I started, November 12, 2007.

In hindsight, two jobless months doesn’t seem so bad. And had I known it was only going to be two months, I would have taken more advantage of my free time. But while I was going through it, those two months were excruciating.

The office has changed a lot in three years. Employees have come and gone. I’ve loved it and hated it and loved it again.

More than ever, though, I realize that for a kid right out of college who barely knew what she was doing, this was a pretty sweet first-job to land.

And I’m so grateful for that.

Read Full Post »

Comfort food

One of the things I’ll miss about my apartment is the monthly newsletter. (Though, I don’t know for sure that the new place doesn’t have one.) I don’t always have time to read through it, but the one section I never miss is Recipes. This month’s especially caught my eye, as I was already craving comfort food when I saw the title: Pepper Jack Cheesy Mac.

Yes, please.

I added some andouille sausage to the mix, to give it a little more oomph, and had to substitute a colby jack blend for the pepper jack, due to lack of options at Teeter, but it was exactly what I’d been craving. And I loved the crunch provided by the tortillas. Plus, the leftovers were just as good the next day. (Even if they don’t look it.)

So, if you’re ever looking for a little comfort food like I was, allow me to share.


2 cups (8 ounces) dry elbow macaroni
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 cup broken tortilla chips
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional – I didn’t use it)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2.5 quart casserole dish. Cook macaroni in saucepan, according to package; drain; return to saucepan.
  • Add cheddar cheese, 1.5 cups of pepper jack, evaporated milk, and black pepper to macaroni. (This is also where I added the sausage, since I bought it pre-cooked.) Stir until combined. Pour into casserole dish. Combine remaining 1/2 coup of pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. (I ended up baking for an additional 20 or so.)


Note: While I got this recipe from my newsletter, they got it here. Which I will now be scouring for more meal ideas.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »