Friday, December 30, 2011

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."

^ quote from Victor Hugo

[Photo from the collection of The Boat Lullabies]
Books read in 2011
As you can see, I read a lot more in 2009 and 2010! This list is short due to two things - Anna Karenina took me ages to read, and I borrowed books from the library to read at the beach and can't remember what they were. 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
The Ha-ha by Dave King
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Bed and Breakfast by Lois Battle
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Currently in the middle of Love Walked In by Marisa De los Santos, and I plan to read Great House by Nicole Krauss on Saturday.

Favorite book of 2009: Tie! The Reader by Bernhard Schlink and Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
Favorite book of 2010: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Favorite book of 2011: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Kick-off book for 2012: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (eek!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

good gifting

I recently wrote a column in the DN-R's holiday gift guide about being a good gift giver. My best advice was to be a listener - as in, take note of your friend's favorite author or the earrings your mom has been eyeing.

All this to say, back in August I put up a post about using dishes to hold jewelry and literally oohed and ahhed over these babies -

- and guess what? My friend Amber read the post and promptly purchased the bowls for me. She came over today with a birthday gift, and when I unwrapped the bowls I thought "these look familiar! where have I seen these before?"

I was so touched that she bought them for me. I think it's sweet that she's had them at her house all this time, waiting for my birthday. Thanks love!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

christmas present

gotta practice not cutting off my head...

eek! I got the camera I asked for! Next time you see me you'll have to ask me what I went through before opening it... it's a long, silly story. I'm still considering my options and researching different cameras, but so far I'm having a blast watching tutorials and burying my nose in the user's manual. I've got a lot to learn.

Andy's older brother Darren, reading to our niece Jaiden
Melissa (Andy's younger sister and Jaiden's mom) and Barb (Andy's mom)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

leave of absence

I'd like to blog about my time with Kristen and the craft we made, my lunch with Becca and how our outfits were eerily similar, my Christmas Eve morning....

but what I'd like even more is to go read with my husband.

so here's where I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS! and tell you that I'll be back next week.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

birthday brunch

Andy called me in early December and suggested that he take me to The Little Grill for a birthday breakfast on the 3rd. He knew we'd be in NOVA w/ my parents for my actual birthday, so he thought I might enjoy a little "just the two of us" time. I was so thrilled - he knows I've always wanted to go to The Little Grill for breakfast, and it's not the kind of restaurant he'd normally pick. (I say this because Andy likes to stick with what he knows he likes.)

So it's the morning of the 3rd and I come down the stairs, ready to go. Andy is busy perusing the restaurant's breakfast menu. He frowns.

"Babe... I don't think I want to go after all. It doesn't sound very good. They don't have many options." (In his defense, the menu has a lot of vegetarian options, which don't appeal to Mr. Carnivore.)
"But babe, everyone LOVES their breakfast! Besides, breakfast is breakfast - every place is going to have the same kind of thing - like pancakes, eggs, etc," I argued.
"But... I just don't think I'll like it. Do we have to go?"

I remember trying not to look as disappointed as I felt. I said it was fine, and that we could go to IHOP (his fav breakfast place). We had a nice time, but it didn't feel like "my" birthday date.

A few days later, after I had thought and prayed about it, I confessed to Andy that I was disappointed about our cute date being changed, and that I regretted not voicing my opinion more. We agreed that we would have a dinner date in NOVA on Saturday the 10th to make up for it.

The 10th rolls around, and all day I was racking my brain trying to come up with a place for us to have our date. But nothing was sounding good (probably because our dinner on Friday night was so filling/amazing). Andy mentioned that he was craving pizza, and I said "NO WAY are we having PIZZA for my birthday date!" But then around 5 p.m. I realized that what I wanted the most was to put pjs on, order pizza and snuggle up in front of a show. I said "OK... if we get pizza instead of going out tonight then we should go to The Little Grill for breakfast next Saturday (the 17th)."

Andy laughed and said "is your birthday ever going to end?" :) (nope!)

from here
Yesterday morning we headed downtown, first for a trip to the Farmer's Market and then to The Little Grill. Andy ordered pancakes, sausage and spicy potatoes, and I had french toast, bacon and spicy potatoes. Holycannoli it was fantastic! He admitted right away that he had been wrong about the food.

We had such a blast. The restaurant's atmosphere is so fun, and it had been years since I had been inside the place (it was Andy's first time). Many of the tables have old school trivia games on them, so we played "Christmas Trivia" and I won. ;) I asked Andy if he'd want to go back, and he said "Oh, absolutely!" Who wants to join us? :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

an imperfect me

from here

Last week a woman walked into the newsroom and right away I knew she was going to be trouble. She asked to see a reporter who hadn't come in to work yet. Well, where is he? she wanted know. I DONT KNOW, IM NOT HIS MOTHER I wanted to say back. Where does he get his facts? She practically spat the words at me. I sent her back to speak with the city editor.

The whole newsroom could hear her venomous accusations. She was upset because an article had been written about her son's death. He died in a car crash, and the article said that police suspected alcohol was involved. The woman said, "I hope someone in your family dies and something false is written about them and then you'll know what it's like."

I don't remember exactly what was going through my head, but I remember it being something like this - ughhhh that's such a trashy thing to say! we report the news, that's our job. leave us alone. go home.

And then the next day I read this - written by my coworker.

“Where does he get his facts?”
She’s disheveled. Track pants, a fleece pullover, and a voice full of hot dried tears. She’s pissed, but approaches the city editor’s desk like a visitation, carefully, holding her own hands and a folded newspaper between them.

Her son died a week ago today. He enjoyed restoring cars and snowboarding. He crossed the center line and flipped. A sergeant said alcohol appeared to be a factor. People will remember that part, read it and shake their heads before turning to the sports section.
Less than ten inches of text summed up twenty years of a person. And here comes his mother, slowly walking past us all typing away on our own stories, to defend twenty years of raising him.

“Why? Why would you put the article right next to the obituary? I don’t think you do care.”
The rasp in her words, threats to pull her subscription and make sure others did the same — they always say that. We haven’t had a grieving mother come into the newsroom in a month, but it’s always the same. The paper’s done something to mar the image of her child, and the reporter needs to hear it. The last one broke down in tears.

In a job where the weightiest interview I’ve done was with a cancer survivor, a normal day involves finding the warm-fuzzy soundbites, and the angriest phone call to my editor typically involves a mistake in the crossword, these are the most painful moments I’ve witnessed.
He told her “we’re just here to report the news,” which yes is true, but doesn’t change the reality she’s in. The facts aren’t straight, because her whole world is now crooked.

Beautifully written, right? Such a compassionate outlook on the situation. Such a completely opposite outlook from mine.

It can be said with confidence at the outset, and also at any subsequent stage on the road, that learning to love all the different sorts of people whom God sends across our path, in all the different sorts of situations he shapes up for us and them, is going to prove the hardest discipline we shall ever face.
- Thomas Howard and J. I. Packer, Christianity: The True Humanism

I sat at my desk and cried, staring at the line the fact's aren't straight, because her whole world is now crooked. I was ashamed of myself. I'm still ashamed. I cannot believe that I allowed my thoughts to be so judgmental, calloused and cruel. I cannot believe that I didn't take the time to consider her pain. I cannot believe that my heart didn't go out to her (it does now, but it feels like it's too late). I cannot believe that I've used the word "compassionate" to describe myself. I've even said here before that compassion is my favorite virtue. I cannot believe that I hid from her the very best part of me - the love of Christ within me. 

I didn't think about anything else but that woman - and how terribly I had judged her - for the rest of the week. I don't think I'll ever stop thinking about her. I hope I will never again lack in compassion.

On my list of 25 things that happened to me this weekend, I wrote that I cried because I felt ashamed. This is what I was crying over. I spent the drive to Springfield letting the tears fall, bringing myself before my God. "Have mercy on me, a sinner," I prayed.  And then I rested in the knowledge that God loves me despite my wretchedness, and I cried because I am forgiven.

Monday, December 12, 2011

25th birthday

25 random and unexciting things that happened this weekend
*not in order*

1. Saw an antique shop on Chain Bridge Road that I absolutely must visit the next time I'm home and loaded with cash...
2. Sang so loud I got a sore throat
3. Got sung to by my brother & sis in law over Skype (it was already Dec. 11 there when we talked on Saturday)
4. Spent close to an hour carefully applying stickers to card stock
5. Listened to my husband scream several times during the Bears game
6. Woke up to a birthday text sent just after midnight - thanks Bilal!
7. Cried in the car because I was ashamed of myself
8. Cried in the car because I know I'm forgiven
9. Cried because I was laughing at Andy's joke about the Beach Boy who sings the part "Christmas comes this time each year" in this song (it's the lamest line ever and he doesn't even sing it, he just says it... so Andy made up a story about how it ended up being recorded that way and we all completely lost it)
10. Watched the Christmas light display on Collingwood Road
11. Stared at a star sculpture at the Crate & Barrel outlet and racked my brain trying to think of where I could put it in the house... but came up w/ nothing and chose to walk away from it
12. Felt like I was going to die after drinking my free birthday drink at Caribou (large dark choc. mocha)
13. Felt like I had died and gone to heaven during my birthday dinner at Carlyle in Shirlington
14. Was kissed under the mistletoe (multiple times)
15. Wore my grandmother's ring
16. Watched the dogs play
17. Remembered these videos I put on youtube:

18. Assumed my mom didn't have a bedtime gift (tradition) for me because I wasn't planning on staying over Sunday night, but then I changed my mine and stayed and she had a present waiting :)
19. Started this blog post and got distracted
20. Saw "The Descendants" with my momma
21. Bought some Christmas ornaments with the intention to give them as gifts.... but I might keep them
22. May have gotten some cavities from all the chocolate I consumed
23. Hugged some wonderful old friends (love you LA and Zebs!)
24. Looked through old photographs
25. Felt incredibly blessed

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

they once loved


some of my favorite pics and couples from oldloves

which couple or picture is your favorite? 
trying to choose... from the pics, my fav are johnny depp + winona ryder, michael caine and natalie woods, joaquin phoenix and liv tyler and nicholas cage and laura dern.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

a few lessons from my friends

Using the phrase "It is what it is" makes you less attractive - Becca

Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break. - Katie C.

When someone asks if you wants more dessert, always say yes. And if they ask you to take some home? Say yes to that, too. - Caitlyn

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, the juice from your fruit cup WILL get all over you. - Kelly

If you come home in the night, wake up your wife and let her know... otherwise she might think you're an intruder, jump out of bed, fall down the stairs and run to a neighbor's house and call 9-11. - Amber and Elliott

Cheese does not count as a topping on a pizza. - Heather

If your guests throw birdseed at you when you leave your wedding, ask them to toss it gently, not hurl it at you. - Amy

hehe. poor justin and amy! photo by Alicia White

Never turn down a free hot dog. - me

Sunday, December 4, 2011

unveiling my chili recipe

I found a variation of this recipe back in the spring when I began prepping for our church's chili cook-off. I don't remember where I found it - it was a random cooking blog - and the recipe was titled "Taco Soup." I thought it sounded like it could just as easily be called a chili. I tested the recipe over and over and over, tweaking the ingredients every time. I ended up with this. It's quick, and it's delicious. 

**I now use two cans of condensed tomato soup, and add only one can of water. We love this soup so much that we try to stretch it as far as it can go, which often means adding more beans the next day! We also now use a full tablespoon of hot sauce instead of two teaspoons.**

oh, and if you're EXTRA curious, I never ended up entering the chili in the cook-off. FAIL. I know. It was all ready to go, but the cook-off was cancelled at the last minute because of the snow/power outage back in October. The cook-off was rescheduled, but we were in Tampa and missed it. ah well.