Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plans for ringing in the new year

I hope most of you have far more exciting plans for this evening that Jim and I do. I'm always torn on New Year's Eve. The thought of going and doing something wonderfully fun is always appealing. But then again, so is staying home with a bottle of champagne and a table full of munchies...which is the itinerary for tonight.

I used to want to go to NYC and see "the ball drop." But in recent years, that plan seems less and less attractive. I mean, the actual drop of the ball isn't that interesting. It's not like it even drops. It just sort of slowly slides down the pole, almost as if it's got honey in its track or something. Not to mention the herds of people, the freezing cold....we seem to forget that part when we're sitting in our nice warm living rooms. If I were to spend New Year's in New York, I'd want to find a place to go where there's a party inside and a nice place on a roof somewhere to watch the fireworks. OR....I'd want a fancy schmancy suite at the Marriott Marquis that faces out to Times Square and room service filling every surface. That's how I'd do New York.

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Other possibilities:

Sydney. I've always wanted to go to Australia. I visited New Zealand a few years back. It was pretty lovely. I'd go again. But it's definitely not the same as Australia. But on New Year's Eve in the southern hemisphere, it's summer. How weird would it be to celebrate the new year in WARM weather? Weird, but definitely cool. I'd do Australia.

[caption id="attachment_402" align="aligncenter" width="757" caption="acrossoceana.com"][/caption]

Seriously, though. I think you'd need a boat. How cool would that be!?

Seattle. I know, I know. We were talking about cold. And honestly, I've been in Seattle on New Years. At the foot of the Space Needle to be exact. It was cold. It was not, however, too crowded. I wish I'd had a better camera because the views of the fireworks behind the Space Needle were incredible. On the other hand, if I were to go again, with my nice shiny wonderfully adept camera, I'd probably go to the party at the top rather than hang out at the bottom. What the heck good is a $200 per ticket party if you can't even drink? (I was 19 at the time).

[caption id="attachment_399" align="aligncenter" width="520" caption="seattlecitymonorail.wordpress.com"][/caption]

So far, I think those are the only other places I have a real interest in going. That being said, I'm sure that any city that I love would be cool to go to. I mean, take Paris, for instance. It's supposed to be the most romantic city in the world (I say supposed to because I went with a friend...not a lover [ala Carrie Bradshaw] and it was NOT the romantic experience you would expect...I mean, obviously), I'd imagine huddled together with your lover with a steamy cafe latte and fireworks over the Seine with the Tour d'Eiffel in the foreground would be a pretty amazing New Year's too.

[caption id="attachment_398" align="aligncenter" width="507" caption="blackparistours.com"][/caption]

Alas, my couch calls my name. And the freezer full of fattening goodies my husband and I will consume tonight along with our bottle of peach flavored champagne (neither of us likes regular champagne...in fact, we toasted wine at our wedding)...and any other bottles of goodness we may find in the kitchen....

....assuming we make it past 10 p.m. We're so old.

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 goals and a small clarification

In my last post, I made some comments about my dislike for "New Year's Resolutions," but I'd like to clarify my thoughts a little bit.

I'm not entirely opposed to the concept. I think it's a great idea to have goals and to work toward making yourself a better person in some way. I personally enjoy having goals, and I'll go into mine a little bit more later. My problem with resolutions is that people expect a miraculous change, in the form of reaching their goals, but also in their own motivation to work toward them.

Nothing changes between December 31st and January 1st that couldn't change between March 18th and March 19th. So while the new year provides a fresh start and a great place to begin new goals, it's unlikely that huge life changes will take place, simply because it's time to buy a new calendar.

That being said, I do have some goals for the new year. A lot of them have to do with our finances, which makes the new year a good place to start because it's the start of the fiscal calendar too. And some of them are personal, too, and a lot of them have come about because of recent changes in my health. So the new year really has quite a small role in my goal planning.

As I was browsing some of my favorite blogs yesterday, I came across this post by Tina at Best Body Fitness. She bases her new year's goals on a theme, rather than a list of desired results.

The concept fascinated me, and I instantly remembered a conversation with my good friend, Christie, last week. We were talking about how I don't have the energy to go to the gym even though it's the option for my evening that I should choose. Christie responded by saying she always tries to make the right decision, even if it feels too hard. And, as a result, she ends up feeling better than she had when she'd made the decision to do the harder thing.

[caption id="attachment_389" align="aligncenter" width="572" caption="How lucky am I that my close friend is also an ordained wedding officiant?!"][/caption]

So my blanket goal for 2012 is to always make the decision that seems right for the situation, even if it's the harder of my possible options. That's not to say that the right thing will always be clear. There's still an element of judgement in there, but usually I know what I should do versus what I want to do.

And yes, I've already started. Last night, as my eyes drooped to the floor and my muscles gave me hell the entire time I was changing into my tennis shoes and stretchy capris, I went to the gym. And no, I didn't spend an hour doing a wonderfully intense workout, but I did my best. I gave it all I had (which happened to be 30 mins of cardio, but hey, it was something!), and I felt good about it when I got home, took a shower and allowed myself to flop ont he couch with my book until my husband came home and I had to make dinner.

Along with my blanket goal of trying to always make the right decision, I have a few small goals.

1. I'd like to get my finances in order. And when I say that, you probably imagine a gigantic mess, but really, I don't think it's as bad as I make it out to be. We have our wedding to pay off, most of which is on my credit card and we would like to get our savings built back up so we can have a down payment for a house in the near future. I think mostly I feel uncomfortable carrying a balance on my credit card. I'm one of those pay-it-off-every-month people, and seeing multiple thousand dollars on it just freaks me out!

2. I've already started this one, but I'd like to feel like I'm comfortable being me. And I'm not even sure what that means or who I actually am, but I figure there are a few pieces of this puzzle.

a. I need to learn to let go of the things. A good example is my sister-in-law. She drives me nuts because she moves before she thinks and a lot of times she comes off as being very selfish and controlling. And I don't surround myself with those kinds of people. But she's family now. So I need to learn to just let it go. Another good example is my messy house. I'm messy, and as much as I'd like to be a neat freak, I'm not, and I need to learn to accept it.

b. I need to listen to myself. I think I ignore myself when I feel things I don't want to feel. I think I have this image in my head of the person I want to be and I ignore all feelings, thoughts, etc that don't fit into that image.

Awful, right? But part of my journey to this goal has been trying to figure out why I do it. And I've come up with this: It's never been okay to just be me. For example, my grandmother used to take my spoon/fork/crayon/ball out of my left hand and put it in my right because she didn't want me to be left-handed. My other grandmother's favorite phrase was "that's not ladylike." So I've gone my whole life watching my every move to make sure it's going to be acceptable to everyone around me. Let me tell you, it's exhausting!


Check it out. In both photos I'm using my left hand...

But it's time to care about what I  think, what I  want and what works best for me (...and my husband of course).

I don't, however, know exactly how I plan to do that. The process has been etched into my brain. It's how I think, it's my natural instinct to consider these things before I speak, before I act. And my goal is to retrain myself to think about me first.

So those are my goals. The past year has been pretty crappy, but I have hopes that 2012 will be a year of growth and change and hopefully lots of joy.



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Resolution Schmesolution

I dislike "New Year's Resolutions." I mean I get the idea. I get that we all want to better ourselves and what better way to start fresh than the beginning of a brand new year?

But to me, shouldn't the desire to be a better person in some way be reason enough to make a goal? Why does the new year have to mark your starting point? It's December 27th, why not start today instead?

Because that's not how you do it, I guess. People would rather wait until January 1st to flock to the gyms, where they'll then leisurely stroll along on the elliptical machines in their brand new perfectly matched gym outfits and talk on their cell phones for ten whole minutes of cardio! When that gets boring...oh, about March at the very latest, the gyms will go back to the manageably crowded places they are for nine and a half months out of the year.

Sometimes I think people make resolutions just for the sake of making them. Maybe so they can tell their families and friends to prepare for the day when the brand new shinier, thinner, smarter, happier version of their former selves will emerge.

Mostly, though, I believe people have good intentions. They truly want to make themselves better. But I think making a "New Year's resolution" might just be setting them up for disaster. Rather than setting a life-altering goal, we should set smaller goals that maybe don't look as fabulous as the New Years Eve dress you plan to wear with your new body next year, but that are actually possible to achieve.

Or maybe I'm just cynical. That's a possibility too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Feeling more like myself again

I don't know whether it's excitement for the holidays, maybe I'm sleeping better, or the "crack" energy drink my mom has been feeding me lately, but I'm feeling more myself the past week or so.

Really, there's far too much good stuff in the world to not feel excitement, even if it is because you don't have the energy to.

Like these clouds from my drive home the other night:


I'm not proud of this, but I almost ran off the road trying to take this photo. But it was worth it!


 It really is the little things that make life wonderful. Like how excited I am to go home and be with my husband who I still miss every single day when I'm away from him, even after being together for three years.


And my super-cute little nephew, Tucker.



I mean how can I not enjoy life when this little guy is in it?


Even smaller things, tiny things you wouldn't even think of can give you joy.



Like this salad my mom made us for lunch. It had mixed greens, avocado, pears, blueberries and gorgonzola cheese on it. Talk about happy in the tummy!


I know it's probably not going to last forever. I'm sure my energy is going to dip again, but as long as I've got it, I plan to love every minute of it!


I hope everyone is having a wonderful day and has plenty of lovely little things in life to make it worth breathing for.



 

Three more days!!!

Is anyone besides me entirely unprepared for the arrival of Christmas?

I JUST started my shopping yesterday. No, that's a lie. I started  my shopped over a month ago. But none of the items I ordered stood alone, so what I really started yesterday was my supplemental shopping, so to speak.

But I've hit an obnoxious snag: my husband, I've decided, is expensive. I have been flooded with ideas for his gift....but all of them are well beyond my price range this year.

From tickets to games of his favorite teams to parts for his car, I just don't have the funds to give him the perfect gift. And it's discouraging me. Sure, I have a few small things. But this is our first married Christmas, and I want to give him a gift that says "wow, she really knows me. I know I married her for a reason!"

So does that mean just sucking it up and shelling out the extra money for one of the perfect gift ideas I have?

Or do I just suck it up and accept that I can't get him exactly what I want?

Seems like a lose/lose situation to me. Either way, I have to suck something up.

Despite the frustration and anxiety about gifts, I am definitely excited for Christmas. We are spending Christmas Eve in Santa Cruz with Jim's grandparents house with his parents and some other family on his mom's side. Then we're doing dinner at my mom's house after with my brother's family and a couple of close friends. It should be a really good Christmas.

Is anyone else having crazy problems finding the perfect gift? What are your plans for the weekend?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday parties and half-asleep days

I just checked my last post. It was ten days ago.

And in those last ten days, I thought about posting, even opened up a new post and stared at the screen for sometimes hours (between other things of course), but I just haven't been able to bring myself to write.

For starters, I had no idea where to start, what to write about. I stared at the screen and nothing came to mind.

The other, probably more prominent reason, is that I've been walking through life only half awake. I feel like all I want to do is sleep all the time. Everything feels hard. Cooking dinner feels hard. Putting up our Christmas tree felt hard. And writing a post just seemed too hard. Every time I went to write, I stared at this screen and almost cried. If I can't even come up with the energy to do the thing I love most, how am I going to get through...life?

So I did what any normal person would do: I called my doctor. A prick in the arm and vial full of blood later and I've got myself low T3 thyroid hormone uptake. Another visit to the doc's office and I've got a possible referral to a specialist, potentially more pricks in the arm (I hate those!!) and still no answers as to why I've been so tired.

That being said, life goes on and there's still fun to be had in the world, so while it took me ten days to find the energy to write on my own, when there are other people involved, there aren't many other options besides sucking it up and putting on a pretty face.

Fortunately, I was able to find a small amount of extra energy at the end of the week and even managed to bake three different types of cupcakes for our annual holiday party at work.

Gingerbread with eggnog frosting, Maple walnut, and Peppermint hot chocolate. They were quite the hit!

And the whole evening was a lot of fun. Despite a beyond-crazy day wrapping 40 prizes for our casino-themed party as well as a gift for every employee, rebaking chocolate cupcakes (I tried a new recipe and it turned out SOOOO dry!), frosting all the cupcakes, decorating the room where the party was held, and squeezing in six sporadic hours of work, I had an amazing time and didn't once count down the hours until my bed and I met again.

We also decided this year that we would invite more than just our employees to the party. We invited everyone who was important to us, to our family, and we ended up with a room full of people we love and care about. I don't think it could have been a better evening.


My brother, Matt, teaching my little nephew to play poker.


Our employee's daughter playing with her winnings.

 Christie married Jim and I. Her husband, Nic, is to her left and our employee, Mark is to her right.

My sister-in-law's camera had all the photos of me and Jim on it. Obviously, I can't take photos of myself so well. I'll have to post a few of those when I get them from her.

But the party really was the perfect holiday celelbration. Filled with good food, amazing friends and family and all the laughter you could ask for! I hope everyone's holiday season is exactly that!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Feeling....blah

Lately I've been feeling entirely uninspired. I've been exhausted. A little overwhelmed. But mostly exhausted, and that leaves me wanting to do absolutely nothing...except for sleep.

...I've been trying to write this post since 10 a.m. and it's just not happening.

All I feel like doing is sleeping. Or watching tv. Or reading. Or anything else I can do from a horizontal position.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the doctor about my blood work from last week. People keep telling me my symptoms sound like a thyroid problem, but I was tested for that a few years ago, so I don't think it's that, although I guess things can change. I think mostly I am afraid they're going to tell me that nothing is wrong at all. That I'm feeling tired all the time and there's no reason for it.

I'm also afraid they're going to tell me it's due to stress. I know I have a lot of stress. Today was a classic example: bills + family issues + me taking on extra things I want to do, but don't have time for = a nice little pain in Stephanie's chest and an almost breakdown at work.

And I think that's all this post is going to get from me tonight.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We have our Christmas tree!!!

This weekend was kind of a blur.

Friday night was slumber party night at the vineyard, although my mom got sick and wasn't able to make it. The three of us had a ton of fun anyway. We worked on my cherry zinfandel fudge recipe...which didn't quite work the way I wanted it to, although it tasted AMAZING. We worked on decorating and had a delicious dinner and watched Christmas in Boston (has anyone seen that? It's soooo good!). It was a long night, but full of much needed fun and relaxation!



The next morning we began working on putting lights and decorations up at the shop. Lack of sleep + people not showing up who promised to made me kind of cranky early on, but as everything started going up and becoming festive, my mood changed (putting on Christmas music helped too!).

In the afternoon, my mom and I went to a Christmas tea that my friend, Liz, from college and her mom and sisters host every year. Liz moved away to go to grad school, so it was nice to see her and catch up. It's something my mom and I look forward to every year. Just sitting there, sharing tea memories and steaming cups of the delicious drink and so much food we never leave hungry. It's a delightful break from all the madness!

That evening I went home, changed for the third time that day and Jim and I met his boss and a client of theirs for dinner at Scott's Seafood in Sacramento. We ate and drank and sat and talked for hours. I had never met the client before and he and his girlfriend were lovely people. She and I were sitting at one end of the table, so we talked about food, cooking, kids, crappy mattresses and how different it is to live with men than alone!

All in all, it was a pretty great day. I fell into bed and was asleep almost immediately.

Sunday we got up late, I made gingerbread french toast that didn't quite taste enough like gingerbread but was still delicious and we went out and got our Christmas tree!


We went with Jim's mom and step dad and his little niece, Mya.  She had so much fun, especially because there were free cookies and hot cocoa.....



With PINK marshmallows!!!



They were peppermint flavored. So yummy!




[caption id="attachment_334" align="aligncenter" width="416" caption="Mya and her pink marshmallow hot cocoa"][/caption]

We went out to lunch at Max's where Jim's step dad is the general manager and I am a server (although technically I haven't worked a shift in 5 months. eep!), and then went home to decorate!


Since our apartment is rather small, we tried to find a tree that about matched its size. When we got the thing in, I was worried that it wasn't going to fit in the corner we had our tree last year (and the only corner that would actually fit a tree at all!), but even with the angel on top, it fit in perfectly!




[caption id="attachment_326" align="aligncenter" width="522" caption="Jim fighting with the net around the tree"][/caption]


 


One of our favorite ornaments my mom got us in Alaska last year


Despite being totally exhausted, it was a really fun evening. We ate our usual Sunday "nosh" (maybe I'll post about that next week!), watched a Christmas movie (which I fell asleep in the middle of), and fell into bed without an ounce of trouble falling asleep.


How was your weekend? Do you have your Christmas tree up yet?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thoughts on weddings

I was watching Friends last night, and it was an episode from the season where Monica and Chandler get married. She's talking about all the things that could possibly go wrong and how she wants to be prepared for any situation.

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I've watched the episodes from this season several times; its one of my favorite seasons actually. But since I've been through my own wedding, somehow it just seems....different...to watch people on tv or even in real life talking about planning theirs.

I guess it's because if you haven't had one, weddings are sort of a mystery. They're built up as the most wonderful day of your life, something you need to pour tons of money and time and energy into. There's a stigma about becoming a bridezilla and yes, there are a hundred things that could go wrong. But also there are tons of little details that you can't even dream about until you've been there yourself. Watching Monica in that season before I had my own wedding, I couldn't even picture myself in that position. Granted, I was not a girl who began planning her wedding when she was six, either. I began about December, 2010...just after Jim proposed.

Maybe I'm just weird. But for me, it wasn't that big of a deal. Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and our day was so special and so important. But the planning of it was nothing like the craziness Monica makes it out to be on Friends. I even have friends of my own who seem to have been frazzled to no end while planning their weddings. When I got engaged I had a sense of almost fear, and a slight bout of anxiety about the ten months ahead of me because of these things.

But, for me, it wasn't like that. Sure there were moments of tension. I stressed a bit while trying to find a location. Everything was booking up and I was terrified we'd end up in a stinky bingo hall decorated with streamers somewhere. And again, I got stressed when it came down to the wire and my budget had been almost sucked up but my expenses were still aplenty. But that was it. And on the day of my wedding, I completely floored my mom, my bridesmaids, my mother-in-law and the owners of our venue when I was completely calm, entirely rational and as relaxed as can be in the hours leading up to the start of our ceremony.

But I guess that just goes to show that everyone is different. Everyone handles things differently and reacts to things differently. My thought on it is that if you're stressing, how can you be having a good time? And if you're not having a good time, what's the point?

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Obviously, I'm  having a great time. Can you see how entirely un-stressed I am? Sure, things went wrong. Stuff didn't get put out that was supposed to. But the day was amazing. So many people told me it was the best wedding they'd been to. And you know what? It was the best I'd been to as well. :)