Friday, November 29, 2013

the evolution of Christmas

IT'S HERE!  Don't ask what because you KNOW WHAT!  And if you don't, go back to human school because you should know that it's officially CHRISTMAS TIME!

I've been trying to be a mature, jaded adult about all of this and (apart from a few rogue Instagram pics) I've done a pretty good job of containing  my holiday cheer until the appropriate time.  But according to all of the blogging books and human guidelines, it's now officially time to start pooping glitter and chugging the 'nog!

In celebration, I present my first unashamedly "I Love Christmas Way Too Much" post! WEEEEEEEEE!

Christmas is obviously magical at any age but there's no denying that the lure of the whole glorious season changes over the course of your lifetime.  This list probably won't tell you anything that you don't already know but then again, when do I ever do that?

Worst Parts

Mall Santa is sort of creepy.

December 24 is the longest night ever.

Grownups just seriously don't get the repercussions of staying up too late.  He knows when you are sleeping, for crying out loud!

Best Parts

Bottom Line: Why It's Awesome

All you get is a crap ton of toys and THEY ALL RULE.

Worst Parts

Keeping up the surly teenager face when you really just want to dance around in your footies on Christmas morning

"No, Grandma, I don't have a boyfriend.  Like, jeez."

This cold weather is, like, totally messing up my hair.

Best Parts

Bottom Line: Why It's Awesome

No school and lots and lots of food.  Plus, you look totally hot in earmuffs.

Worst Parts

"A whole MONTH without my friends?!"

"Wait a sec.  When did Christmas cookies start doing this to my butt?"

Your bedroom no longer exists.  Your parents have an extremely well-furnished new storage closet, though.

Best Parts

Bottom Line: Why It's Awesome

Exams over.  That's enough.

Worst Parts

So many gifts to buy, so little money.

So many places to go, so little money.

So many Christmas festivities, so little money.

So many pies, SO MANY CALORIES.

Best Parts

Bottom Line: Why It's Awesome

All you do for a week is hang out with your family.
And the only thing wrong with that is that it took you twenty something years to figure out that's all you need.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

things people don’t say when flying home for the holidays

By the time a lot of you read this, I'll be (hopefully) on a plane that (hopefully) hasn't been delayed 3 hours.  I went through that last year which was enough fun for the next 459 years or so.

So yes, I'm either en route to Baltimore or in a holding cell for assaulting TSA.  Regardless, what better way to kick off the most stressful travel day of the year than blogging about it?

Oh good, made it to the airport early.

This line is just flying by.

I’m really glad I wore 5 bangle bracelets, my studded belt, and pure gold pendant necklace today.

That lady in front of me wearing the thigh-high, lace-up boots really zipped through security.

So glad I remembered to bring this bottle of water!

Good thing they confiscated my pocket knife.  That is much more of a threat than this water bottle they let me keep.

Wow, that TSA agent was so friendly!

That X-Ray machine was fun.  I don’t feel violated at all.

My hands feel so clean after using that bathroom.

Coffee at that price?  What a steal.

This sandwich I just bought is so fresh.

Oh look, my flight’s early!

Good thing that lady thought to pack her dog in her carry-on.  It’s so well behaved!

Boarding already? And they didn't even change our gate!

Look how well my carry-on fits into the overhead compartment.

Oh, what a sweet baby sitting next to me.

I can totally hear what the pilot just said over the intercom.

Taking off right on schedule!

I’m just so comfortable, I never want to land.

Good thing I don’t have to pee!  It would be really annoying to climb over that woman in the aisle seat… again.

Look how peaceful that baby looks while she sleeps.

I don’t feel tired at all.  Definitely no naps on this flight.

I just woke up and my neck feels great.

So much arm room!

So much leg room!

Landing ahead of schedule?  How convenient.

It’s amazing how efficiently everyone is de-boarding the plane.

Look, my suitcase is the first one around the carousel!

Look, my suitcase isn’t the very last one around the carousel!

Man, it really sucks to be home.

Have an extra special Hump Day today! 
Go easy on those crying babies... tomorrow's Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Blog Reader Appreciation Series Part 6: Thanksgiving Special

What I want to know is why Monday keeps happening.

But at least this Monday is considerably less heartbreaking than normal because (in case you haven't heard) Thursday is Thanksgiving which means a shortened week!  So today is more like Wednesday, right?

So just to make my own series just that much more ridiculous...

I don't care how much your Monday sucks or how many nuclear options you've had to pull out... I know you're thankful for something.  So grab some tea because no matter what you're thankful for, I've got something here for you.

Don't even worry about it.  There's no way you looked as stupid as these people...

If You Ever Feel Stupid, Just Look At What These 30 People Did. You’ll Feel Better…Trust Me.

Understandable, because evidently 23 isn't much to get worked up about.

Every Year Of Your Twenties, Ranked From Worst To Best

Ok, maybe this is no one.  But you can hardly blame me; I live in the brunch capital of the US after all.

Finally, a Definitive Map of Which States Drink Bloody Marys and Which Prefer Mimosas

Believe me: you're not the only one.  Lots of money, lots of travel, lots of family asking awkward questions... don't do it alone.  Let one of these pretties help you out.

#1. Pumpkin Pie Eggnog via The Cooking Bride
#2. Winter Sangria via Joy Ever After
#3. Grown Up Hot Chocolate with Homemade Bailey’s Marshmallows via How Sweet It Is

She sounds like a keeper.

10 Ways to Know Your Woman is a Keeper

I agree.  The only thing better than Chipotle is more Chipotle.

How To Get Huge Portions At Chipotle

You should be.  Mental strength is not a joke.

Mentally Strong People: the 13 Things They Avoid

I can assure you that you weren't as thankful as I was.

You might remember me mentioning Toast last weekend, a new brunch location I was jonesing to try. Unfortunately, it turned out to be nothing but a mascarpone and Nutella stuffed dream in light of the unfortunate storms that swept through the Midwest last Sunday.

The weather went from being unseasonably deadly to absolutely frigid in the 7 days I had to wait for this brunch.  Derrick said at one point that it burned his throat to breathe.

But whereas I was grudgingly willing to put my plans on hold for widespread natural disaster, I wasn't about to do it for Derrick's trachea.  Luckily Derrick is a good sport about, well, everything; the only time he really mentioned the sub 20's temperature was as he puffed out little clouds of breath for me to get a picture of.

But despite that photography failure, the rest of the afternoon lived up to almost every powdered sugar expectation I had.

Ok, maybe that's an overstatement.  To be honest, I was a little disappointed with Toast's signature wasabi Bloody Mary mix.  I thought I was in for a real treat when the waitress brought it out, apologizing for it being "really full."  (If delivering a larger than usual Bloody is her idea of offensive then I'd beg her to kick me in the shins and call me names.)

But it turns out that some things are better when they don't immediately clear out your nostrils.  One sip and I was suddenly feeling much more sympathetic towards Derrick's trachea.

But the food was so good that we both left Toast saying we should come back, even with the subpar Bloody experience.  And if you've been reading this blog at all, you know that's saying something.

Just something about those scrambled eggs with tomato, prosciutto, gruyere, and fresh house pesto, house potatoes, fresh fruit, and strawberry, brown sugar, and cinnamon crepes... it got to us.

Call us crazy, I guess.

Happy pseudo-Hump Day!  Make it a good one.

Not feeling appreciated or just not digging that turkey head?  Maybe I can make it better:

Blog Reader Appreciation Series

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

the best advice I've ever received

You know the feeling after you get sick eating shrimp and then can't eat shrimp again for a month? Some things just stick with you.

You never know when you're going to hear something that happens to stick but when you do, the impact can be more profound than even the worst case of food poisoning.

I'd love to be the one sharing this sticky, wise insight; unfortunately, the best I've got is "don't drink scalding hot tea with a straw".  But the fact that I've learned that lesson the hard way (i.e. green tea induced blood blisters on my uvula) yet have still made it through 23 years of life means that I must be getting some pretty good advice somewhere else.

And I have... which is what brings me to this:

I don't know how it started, but my dad has signed every birthday card since 1999 as "Dadward" (in reference to Squidward Tentacles).  But when he isn't channeling his inner, animated squid, he is just Dad, one of the smartest people I know.

In response to one of the many overly dramatic crises of a teenage girl, he once told me something that I think about often: my feelings themselves never need to be justified.  If something makes you sad, then you have the right to feel sad.  If something makes you angry, you don't need to rationalize it.

That doesn't mean that how you act on those emotions can't be wrong (so don't quote Dadward when you throw a toaster because the cat pooped on the carpet again).  But never apologize for a feeling because a feeling isn't right or wrong.  It just is.

Did you really think I wasn't going to have something about running in here?

This advice is only helpful if you're, ya know, running a marathon.  But if you are running a marathon, this is gold.  Kathleen Castles-Fonseca, i.e. Steph's (my college roommate and best friend) mom, ran a sub 2:40 marathon at the age of 40 at the Olympic trials and is one of the most amazing runners I know. 

If I were her, I would have blocked my emails by now... but she hasn't.  Instead, she continues to answer every anxious, marathon novice question I assault her with, including my latest about pacing.  She told me:

Basically, remember that the marathon isn't a sprint... it's, well, a marathon.  She said that your body starts breaking down at mile 20, so you don't want beat yourself before you get there.

For the first half of my last marathon, the little blonde nut in me was screaming, "Run faster!"  Had I listened to her, I almost definitely would have bonked by mile 20.  Instead, I repeated Ms. Fonseca's words over and over until that little blonde wacko got tired of fighting... and then the race really started.

As if I needed any more motivation to do what I want.

But seriously.  This advice might be the most influential advice I've ever received.

I've made some major decisions in my life with which not everyone might agree (spontaneously moving to an unknown city and living with my boyfriend before being married, for example).  And like anyone, before I made those decisions, I asked for people's opinions.

My mom isn't telling me to ignore what I hear.  In fact, she's told me to be mindful of the opinions of those I trust because they can often give me a new perspective.  But while I should (and do) value and respect the opinions and advice I receive, no one truly understands my situation as well as I do; someone looking in from the outside can't possibly know every detail surrounding my circumstance.

In the end, you need to go with your gut... because your gut is the one who will be living with your choices.

A little bit deeper than my normal posts, I know.  And a lot of you probably aren't burning your uvulas and don't need any more life advice.

But then again, there might also be some of you who, as a college freshmen, had to go to the health center for your crusted-over eyelids because you thought it was a good idea to slam your forehead into some decorative fake snow.

So to those people: you're welcome.

SaturDAY SaturDAY!

What's the best advice you've ever received?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

where'd Colorado go? what happens when high schoolers don't have a map.

You might remember that link I shared last Monday about average people's attempts to draw a map of the United States from memory.  I personally have had a soft spot for US geography ever since freshman year of college, when my roommates and I sunk so low in our procrastination attempts as to spend an evening having "who can remember the most state capitals" contests.

(We did this multiple times.  Why we never had very many visitors that year, I still don't know.)

But apparently I wasn't the only one who got a kick out of seeing people completely screw up the Midwest; the next day, my ex-Foodie Pen Pal and semi-legitimate best friend I've never met, Esther, texted me with her version of the task.

To say I was impressed is an understatement; other than two missing states and an rather unruly New England (and the fact that evidently, Maryland doesn't exist)... she did a pretty solid job.  Better than I could have done at least.

Which got me wondering: is everyone in the real world that much better at geography than me?

Well, no.  No in fact, they're not.

And I have evidence to prove it.  After texting a few people asking them to draw the US from memory, my suspicions were confirmed: the Midwest only exists if you live here.  And also that US geography teachers don't deserve summer vacation.

Exhibit A: This map comes from a friend who was recently accepted into the Occupational Therapy grad program at the Medical University of South Carolina.

She somehow managed a stunning display of simultaneous dedication to detail and unashamed laziness. I'm not sure whether she didn't know "all the other states" or just didn't care to try; either way, I'm sure the counting thing won't be a big deal once she's in the medical field.

Unfortunately, however, I had to admit that what the map lacked in, you know, substance... her outlining skills were pretty impressive.  I was not too worried though because I had the next pictures to make up for it.

To give you some background, one of my friends from college coaches high school cross country.  After Wednesday's practice, she led them in a little game of "Give Nicole Something to Write About on Friday" featuring US geography.

Some of my favorites included:

The girl who is under the impression that Mexico is really just a giant hand to the south.  And also that Rhode Island borders one of the Great Lakes.

And then there was the girl who decided that the Great Lakes just don't exist at all.  I mean, does Michigan really need its own lake anyway?

Then there's this kid who is going to be in for quite a shock when he hears that we have, in fact, colonized the West.  I guess they haven't gotten to the Lewis and Clark lecture yet.

But my absolute favorite was this kid who has learned that when in doubt, put an American flag on it. Because everyone likes America.

He evidently still needs to work out a few details of that strategy (for example, the color of the stripes). But once he's got that down, he'll be gold.

But as is life, just when you're patting yourself on the back for having the geography skills of the average high school student, you get knocked back to reality by the future astronaut working to get her PhD in aerospace science

She couldn't just leave it at a perfectly proportioned and flawlessly labeled map... she had to add a touch of chemistry to make us feel that much more inadequate.

Whats's the point in all this? Well, not much besides giving me something to laugh about as I'm squished up against some guy's back on the crowded bus home from work.

And also just to thank God for the GPS; otherwise, we'd definitely never get to Rhode Island.

Happy Friday!  Put your hands up; they're playin your song.

Linking up with Sarah because who isn't a fan of the good ol' USA?  Also linking up with Whitney.

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