December 31, 2011

Foregoing a Yearly Tradition: My New Year's Extravaganza With My Meilleure Amie - Part Deux


This is a repost from New Year's Eve 2009 - with some modifications to bring the post up to date - but it's oddly appropriate once again. 

****
Molly and Me,  January 1st, 2011,  Minneapolis

Molly and I have been meilleures amies since middle school, and starting in seventh grade (when we got up to some shenanigans at my dad's new year's eve party) we've had a New Year's tradition to spend the holiday together  often at the cost of spurning our boyfriends for each other. This will only be the fifth in fifteen new year's eves that we don't celebrate together - boo. I'm pretty bummed out about not getting to see her this year, especially because we have a long history of partying hard and internationally that I would have liked to continue (even though I know we'll continue it next year).

Until the end of high school we were obviously celebrating locally, here in good old Cambridge, but starting in college we've spent each year's special night in (chronologically) New York City (in the Empire State Building - because we are badasses like that), Montreal, Boston, Chicago, New York (again), Rome, and Minneapolis.

So now all I can do to not get too lonely for my Molly Moo today is reminisce about the good times we've had, imagine all those to come...

So Molly, let's take a little stroll down memory lane, shall we?

1997: The year a great tradition started. When that you, me and Laura stole three bottles of champagne from my dad's party, went to drink it in the snow, and couldn't stop laughing for hours... (life was so much simpler when we were young!)

1999: When I had that insanely huge and out of control New Year's Bash at my dad's house, for which I thought it was imperative to have a black light set up in the living room (ahh, the joys of the 90s)


2002: When we spent New Year's Eve at "the apartment" and I'm pretty sure at one point you had a carrot in your pocket... 'nuff said.

2003: When we rung in the new year watching the fireworks from like the 50th floor of the Empire State Building. That was awesome. With the DJ's t-shirt: "black vinyl white powder" and whatever nonsense that was going on in the bathroom (and eventually got the party broken up) but went straight over our heads because we were 19 and oh-so-innocent.


2004: When you came to visit me in Montreal, and I slipped and slid down seven feet of black ice on my butt. I think we also met K-OS (a famous Canadian rapper for those of you--ok fine, ALL of you--who don't know).


2005: When we were stuck in Boston, but ended up having a great time with Rose at that random house party in Allston, which was unfortunately after it snowed about a foot on us while we were waiting for the bus... in mini skirts and open-toed shoes. (20 years old and oh-so-wise).

2006: When I came to visit you again in Chicago, and we party-hopped all night long, ending up at a very friendly lesbian party where I was confused about why there were no guys to flirt with. Then, thanks to my hangover, I had a cultural misunderstanding with the waitress at the Golden Nugget the next day.

2007: When you came to Rome and we had the most unbelievably random and awesome night ever - from partying with the Italian aristocracy (and posing for photos in front of their pair of original Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe prints) to packing six people in a Fiat Panda and singing Queen at the tops of our lungs, to grunge-ing out with the punk rockers and their dogs at the 3 am concert at some abandoned train station.

2008: When we went back to New York and made it a night of Stoli Blue and Soda, while chatting up new friends outside the club at the Chelsea Hotel. That was the night I discovered almost no one's American cell phone is set up for international calls, trying desperately to call my boyfriend in Italy.

2010: When I flew to visit you and Walter in Minneapolis and what started off as a tranquil houseparty ended up with me getting kidnapped by your friends and you managing to convince the cab driver to drive the still half-full keg to the next house party. A night of stilettos in the snow and pink champagne, Minnesota-style.

***

I wish I had pictures of all of these wonderful evenings (I do of some, but I have too much respect for myself and Molly to post them online) so all of you could truly understand how amazing New Year's Eve can become when Molly and I get together and become a force of  nature to be reckoned with!

At the risk of sounding maudlin and melancholy, I guess I don't really care because if it's not going to be an amazing night celebrating my my partner in good times, I guess it doesn't really have
 to be an amazing night at all....

But even though I have nothing planned just yet, this year I'll probably end up spending some quality time with my roommates, which I know will be loads of fun because those girls are just as much a force of nature.


Happy New Year Everyone!
Have a Wonderful Evening, and Be Safe!
Don't Drink and Drive! :)

December 30, 2011

Napping, and Sewing, and Movies, Oh My!



It's been such a lovely long vacation.

Since I came home last Monday, I think I only had one social night with friends (I had a dinner party then we went to a holiday party and then for drinks at a hotel bar in Boston). It was fun, but it was exhausting!

Every other night I've been at home in my PJs watching movies with my mom and sewing up a storm. I'm redoing the curtains in my bedroom, which is quite the big project, and sewing up little gifts for the friend I'm visiting in Jamaica and her babies (which I'd love to show you, but I don't know if she reads this blog, so I don't want to spoil the surprise!)

I've watched probably ten or so movies in the last few days. Taken a few naps. Stayed up until 3am reading. Slept in past noon most days. One day I never even got dressed!

It's been pure vacational bliss.

Today I'm going back to New York for New Year's Eve and a few days organizing my life before I jet off to Jamaica and then back up to Boston before starting a new (and my last!) semester at the end of January.

I know my vacation isn't over. I have another three weeks until I have to worry about anything seriously. But the lazing around at home, admiring the twinkling lights on the tree, listening to Diana Krall and eating too many chocolate truffles part of my vacation is over.

I'm a little bummed, but I think it's also time for me to put on some real clothes and start organizing my real life again.

What will you miss most about the holiday vacation?



New Year's Blanks





1.   New Years is   a night I love, always a grand time, even though so many people love to hate. I usually spend it with my bestie, Molly (post about that coming up tomorrow) but this year it wasn't possible.     .

2.   One of my New Year's resolutions will be  to stick with my half marathon training, and if I achieve that goal, to aim for a marathon the year after. Although it's more of a goal than a resolution    .

3.  A New Year's resolution I've made in the past was to  take more pictures of random day to day things. I think I'll renew that resolution next year   .

4. The most time consuming resolution I ever made was   none? I rarely make resolutions, and when I do, I rarely stick to them. They've certainly never been time consuming    .

5.  This year I will be spending New Year's Eve   with one or all of my roommates, maybe. I'm not quite sure yet! 

6.  If I could wish one thing for my new year it would be   to find a jab I love (that pays well), as soon as possible, but that doesn't start until July so that I can take a month off after school ends to visit my family in Italy and go to my friend's wedding in Ireland  .

7.  2012 is going to be   the first year I'll be a real grown up  .


***


December 29, 2011

Found Treasure: Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

I was at my dad's house for Christmas Lunch and as I was leaving I suddenly remembered to grab a little treasure from my childhood that my dad had reminded me of last time I was home.

A little robin's egg blue vintage Singer sewing machine from the 1950s! 


With it's own little matching carrying case!


(Sorry for the blurry pictures... iphone and bad lighting)

So my dad pulled it out and we dusted it off to try it out, and it still works! Like a charm!




Apparently I used to sew on this little beauty when I was a child, but I'd totally forgotten that I owned it and it's just been collecting dust for the last ten years!





In other news, a family friend gave us a whole box of vintage fabric.



So my mother decided to put the little Singer to the test, and whipped up some cute vintage potholders:


I'm so excited to have this little machine back!



Do you have any childhood treasures?


December 25, 2011

Joyeux Noël!

Our Fat Christmas Tree

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah!



December 23, 2011

Filling In Christmas Blanks




1.   The best way to spread Christmas cheer is   with lots and lots of delicious food!

2.   The thing I love most about Christmas is   coming home and relaxing with my family without having to worry about what's on my To Do list     .

3.  The holiday season is a time for   not worrying about the scale   .

4. My favorite thing to eat at the holidays is    all the things. But especially oysters, fois gras, and champagne (my mother does Christmas French-style), lots of cheese, and the Mont Blanc - a traditional meringue and marrons glace` dessert - that I make every year  .

5.  I will be spending Christmas    Eve with my mother, throwing our yearly Christmas Eve dinner party, and Christmas Day with my father, opening presents and having Christmas brunch  .

6.  Tis better to (give or receive?)   usually I'd say to give - I love shopping for presents and finding the perfect gift - but this year I'll say neither. My brother is in Italy with my dad's family, and I'm spending a low key Christmas with my parents that is no so much about gifts this year (we'll do most of the exchanging when my brother gets back from Europe) as it is about just being thankful for the time I have to spend at home  .

7.  I'm dreaming of a     not rainy     Christmas.  I won't go so far as to hope for snow (it's been in the 50s the last few days, so I don't see it happening) but I really hope it doesn't rain. 



December 20, 2011

The Little Things

Truffles and Candied Ginger

Berries and Evergreens

White Poinsettas

My mom's homemade Praline

What are the little things that get you in the holiday mood? 


December 19, 2011

Done!

Yesterday, in an incredible feat of Fuck You Finals determination, I churned out an 18 page term paper in ten hours, effectively closing out this semester.

Yes, I still have to edit it, and do one more small assignment, but I'm essentially done.

Done.

After four--FOUR--weeks of finals, presentations, term papers, group projects, and every other imaginable assignment, I'm finally done with this semester.

And I'm three quarters done with grad school.

I'd dwell on this a little longer if I didn't have to go to Boston in three hours--for which I still haven't packed.

Hopefully in the next month I have off I'll have a bit more time to dedicate here.

Design Is Mine via Pinterest

But not before I follow my post-finals bliss to Cambridge, NY, Jamaica, Cambridge, and back to NY. 

Be back soon!



December 16, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday




1.   My most favorite "little thing" is   having a chunk of time and knowing I can do whatever I want with it .

2.   I'd give anything to  not have to worry about finding a job     .

3.  I can't believe   I'm graduating in six months!

4. The one thing I'd like to achieve today is   finishing both the assignments that I have slated to be done by today (one is necessary, but both is unlikely)  .

5.  The last thing I want to do today is   work on my budgeting final. I hate excel!!

6.  If I were writing my own blank today, it would say:   "The thing I'm most looking forward to over the holidays is planning our annual christmas party with my mom, and going to Jamaica!

7.  My favorite candle scent is    unscented. I love the look of candles, but I really really hate the smell of scented candles. It's like an instant migraine for me .



Indulging In Aesthetic Therapy


If there's one thing I've learning during this extremely long, very trying finals period, it's that the little things can make all the difference.

  • Waking up in the morning and discovering you have just enough milk left for your coffee.
  • Taking an extra five minutes under a hot shower.
  • Having an early morning appointment cancelled at the last minute and getting to sleep in an extra hour.
  • Going for a long run.
  • Calling it an early night and watching an episode of Modern Family before bed.
  • Your roommate's grandmother's care package full of delicious homemade peanut butter cookies.

I've also discovered how important it is to really be comfortable in your environment. And having pretty things to look at makes such a big difference.

I've indulged in a little aesthetic therapy, and it's really helped me get through finals with my sanity intact.



My new night table, courtesy of my roommate's friend who is moving to Seattle and unloaded a boatload of furniture and housewares onto us, which gave our apartment the facelift it so desperately needed. The drawer was missing (as it was when she found it on the street) so I sewed a little curtain for it out of muslin, and I think it looks darling. It also matches the teal and white theme I have going in my room. 


Those pots I bought from this adorable vintage shop on Etsy to put plants in, but I don't have small enough plants yet, so I'm leaving them there for now where they look adorable. 


I saw this on someone else's macbook a while back and coveted it immensely. So when I came across it on Etsy, I had to have it immediately. When the apple glows it's simply marvelous.


This year has brought a lot of changes for me. I used to be afraid that if I ever had to run for my life, I would collapse and die anyway after half a mile. But now I love it and I'm actually running a 15k this weekend! I also used to always kill plants. I couldn't even keep that ridiculous little pot of grass from IKEA alive. Now I have four plants (including the white Poinsetta, which I stole today from our school's holiday party) and they're all alive! Even after I dropped one and it broke in half! This little green corner (along with the Begonia I have on my desk) makes me so happy. Plants really add a living dimension to any space.


These birds are my new favorite thing. Another great Etsy find, this wal decal is just what I needed to fill the blank wall above my sewing corner, and the teal bird inadvertently matches my new night table perfectly! Just looking at them makes me so happy.

What kind of aesthetic therapy do you indulge in 
when you need a break?


December 11, 2011

The Gift Of Giving

When I lived in Italy I loved preparing for the holidays.

Not that I don't love it now, but I don't really have time to anymore.

Where as then I had weeks to plan and buy and wrap up my gifts carefully before my family came to visit me or I went home to visit them, now it's far more hectic.

For the last couple of years I've had final exams and papers until around the 20th of December (not to mention a holiday gift budget that is significantly reduced compared to when I had a job) and then it's a mad four-day scramble to get presents for everyone.

This year is no different.

I've essentially been writing papers and doing group projects and presentations since before Thanksgiving. And I'm not done until next Monday.

But every once in a while I give myself a little break on Pinterest or Etsy to rest my brain a bit, and lately I've seen what would make some adorable gifts for the special sombodies in your life.


For the dreamer:
Co and Waito via  Pinterest

For the whimsical:

Export Italy via  Pinterest



For the baby:
Inktastik via Pinterest

For the minimalist:
The Seting Stake Time via Pinterest

For the dapper gentleman:

GQ via Pinterest

For the sarcastic:

Kate Spade via Pinterest

For the fashionista:

The Berry via Pinterest

For the crafter:

Mary Engelbreit via Pinterest

For the edgy:

HonestlyWTF via Pinterest

What gifts are on your wish list this year?


December 1, 2011

How To Find Your Inner Philanthropist


I posted this last year in December (and the year before), and as much as I'd like to write a whole new post with essentially the same message, I'm just beginning finals, so I don't really have time. But I wanted to get the message out there since December 1st is World AIDS Day and the beginning of the season of Charity. So whether you're reading this for the first or second (or third) time, remember to think of others this holiday season!

***

The holidays (between the thankfulness of Thanksgiving and gift-giving of Christmas) are a time for us to realize not only how lucky we are (and if you're reading this, just by having access to a computer you're luckier than probably about 90% of the world's population), but how many other people need a hand just to make it from day to day.

Especially now--when those in need are no longer just abstract starving children in the third world (which sounds insensitive, but that's actually the way many of us perceive problems in the third world--as abstract), but an increasing number of people in our very own "developed" nations, with whom we have contact every day, who find themselves in dire straights--it's a time to think about what we can be doing for others to try to improve their situation in the little ways we can, and to make the world a better home for everybody.

I got this wonderful list of outlets for your inner philanthropist from JennyMac over at Let's Have a Cocktail (so I can't take credit for compiling the list of sites), and I thought it would be a good idea to try to pass around these resources to as many people as possible so we can all try to do a little bit for someone else.

Feel free to copy the list and post it yourselves; the more this information gets around, the more people will do it. And for even the most cash-strapped among us, there's an option to make a loan (see number 25) that you'll get back So there's no excuse to not make a effort for the greater good :)

(And for those without even the liquidity to make a loan, you can donate your used books, clothes, time, or even your blood!)

Here's a list of different ways you can make your contribution. As a Scottish proverb says, "charity begins at home, but shouldn't end there." So get outside your homes and give some charity.


How to Find You Inner Philanthropist:

1. Get involved. A super easy website: http://www.dosomething.org can help you find service projects in your zip code. They also encourage you to engage your teenage family members to get involved in philanthropy. Their aim is to inspire the next generation of “doers”. You can also find local events/charities/nonprofits to support at www.dogoodchannel.com

2. Mentor/coach/tutor a future John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott or Stephanie Meyer at http://826national.org/ which is 7 nonprofits working to celebrate and advance creative writing in students age 16-18.

3. Go to your book case and clean it out. Instead of donating to the library, take those books to a local literacy program.

4. You can also join http://www.booksforsoldiers.com for free and send them to troops.

5. Give blood. To find a local blood bank: www.givelife.org

6. Send a holiday card for FREE to a soldier abroad through a Xerox sponsored program www.letssaythanks.com

7. Save all of your magazines from the month and donate them to a local women’s shelter.

8. Call a local retirement community and schedule a visit. You can spend an hour or two calling bingo. We have done it and it is a total hoot. One of the elderly ladies won and yelled “OH SWEET JESUS”. I crack up now thinking about it. (You can also take your sassy OPI or MAC nail polish instead and do some fun manicures. )

9. You can donate baby blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to http://projectnightnight.com/ which helps homeless children.

10. Donate your old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Go to www.ncadv.org and look under Take Action and then Donate.

11. Donate shoes (you know you have more than you can ever wear!) to www.shareyoursoles.org

12. Mentor an at-risk teen online at http://icouldbe.org

13. Become an online reading mentor and penpal for kids in 3rd – 5th grade at www.in2books.com

14. Volunteer at a National Park. www.nps.gov

15. Donate your unused airline rewards miles to Salvation Army, Make A Wish, or others.

16. Play www.freerice.com and every correct vocab word you identify, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program

17. You can also go to www.freekibble.com and for every answers, you send 10 pieces of dog food to an animal shelter in need

18. Donate gift cards you won’t use to www.plasticjungle.com

19. If you knit, you can send squares to www.warmupamerica.org. The squares will be knit into afghans and donated to battered women’s shelters.

20. Sign up to volunteer at www.keenusa.org and become a one on one volunteer to teach kids with disabilities about noncompetitive sports.


Small Donations and Related Goodness

21. Every dollar donated to www.roomtoread.org promotes children’s literacy.

22. Donate a minimum of $10.00 to www.pajamaprogram.org which provides jammies and books for kids in orphanages, group homes, and shelters.

23. Buy some gourmet bean dips, salsa mixes, or spice rubs (among other things) from www.womensbeanproject.com which provides jobs and job training to homeless women. And they just celebrated their 20th anniversary.

24. Lend $25.00 to www.kiva.org which takes your loan and helps woman all over the world start businesses. You can choose your cause and the money will be paid back.

25. Give $25 to Puppies Behind Bars: a program teaching inmates how to train puppies to be service animals.

26. Buy beautiful handmade jewelry from http://www.madebysurvivors.com/ which is combating human slavery and trafficking by providing training, job skills, and life skills to women freed from sex slavery.

27. A $35 donation to Sleeping Children Around the World www.scaw.org provides a BedKit that consists of a mat or mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (if applicable), clothes outfit, towel and school supplies for a needy child.

28. Give a $35 Gift of Hope to women and children rescued from Sex Slavery and Sex Trafficking at www.sharedhope.org.

29. $35 dollar will also feed a needy child for one month with Share Our Strength at www.strength.org

30. Make an online donation to www.doctorswithoutborders.org which provides aid in almost 60 countries to people suffering from abuse, neglect, famine, malnutrition, lack of health care and natural disasters. $35 will provide 35 vaccines.

31. And finally, because there are so many people on this Earth without clean and safe drinking water, you can donate $20 to http://www.charitywater.org/ and give one person drinking water for 20 years.