Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend with Family

I didn't post a Thanksgiving post last week with my blessings, but I did reflect upon them, and I cherished my Thanksgiving Day with my family. I also had a great long weekend with my family!

I've been fighting a cold the past two weeks, and I was still sniffly on Thanksgiving Day, but I put on my Sunday best and headed to my parents' house while Jed cooked Thanksgiving dinner at our house for his parents. After greeting my parents, sister and grandmother who was staying at their house for the weekend, I plopped down in my mother's Lazy Boy to watch my Patriots beat the Lions by a hair.

After the game, we, along with my two aunts and two uncles, sat down for our feast. There were two turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, whipped butternut squash, green bean casserole, candied sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffed celery, olives and pickles. Oh yeah, and my lil sis made a delish raspberry soup topped with homemade whipped cream, a raspberry and mint leaves! Yummmm! Jed, and Morris, came to my parents' after his dinner for dessert.

I won't even get into dessert... it was another whole tabletop full of food, including my aunt's chocolate Kahlua coffee trifle and my favorite raspberry jam thumbprint cookies. And wine, lots of wine. I was a happy, stuffed Jen by the end of the day. :)

Here's a few pictures from the day -- unfortunately I didn't get pictures of the whole family in attendance.

It's incredible that my mother allows Morris in her house since she is very allergic to animals, but she loves him so much that he is allowed to visit in the kitchen only (and he has to be carried from the front door to the kitchen so he doesn't touch the carpets)!

Morris really wanted to go into the living room and hang out with everyone, but he wasn't allowed. I sat in the doorway between the kitchen and living room keeping him company.
(Outfit: Gap cardigan, Gap army trousers, Chinese Laundry flats)

My mom loves her granddog.

My lil sis, me and Morris. People have thought we are twins (me and sis, not either of us and Morris).

We had Thanksgiving dinner Friday night, Saturday night and last night between my parents' and Jed's leftovers. I think that was the last of it, but I enjoyed every bite.

On Friday, my sister brought my grandmother to my house so she could see it. I've been here for almost a year and a half, and my Nana had never been here! She thought it was "cute" and then fell asleep on my couch watching TV. Oh I love my Nana.

Saturday, I headed to my parents' house once again, early, to join my mom, Nana, sis and sis' best friend on a road trip out to the Yankee Candle flagship store in Deerfield, MA. Oh my, that place is HUGE and oh so much fun. It is such a good thing I live two hours away, because I would spend entirely too much time and money there if I was closer.

The entire building had a huge wraparound porch with painted cows along it. So fun!

We started the afternoon at Chandler's restaurant for lunch. It looks like a huge barn or candlery (is that what a building where candles are made is called?). No electric lights -- all lighting was provided by either candle-lit chandeliers or candle wall sconces! I imagine it would be beautiful at night.

Mom and I both ordered the broccoli and mushroom quiche, which was light and fluffy, along with a side salad with Chandler's homemade apple cider vinaigrette. I would definitely eat there again as the prices were very reasonable for lunch (especially considering we were in a tourist trap, and it was the only restaurant).

Once I walked into the actual store, I think my jaw knocked a jar candle off the shelf it fell so hard! There was the general store, the male store with all kinds of sports memorabilia, the enormous candle emporium (including a section to make your own candle!), the Christmas village Black Forest...
Look at the tiny little ski lift to the left!

... the Bavarian village... 

... the cute carts scattered around the cobblestone-floor food court, a Vera Bradley shop, a Pandora counter, a pet shop and two kitchen shops! We shopped for FIVE HOURS, and I feel like I might have missed something! 

One thing I didn't miss was the snow!
Yes, snow fell from the ceiling every four minutes, and it was beautiful. Little did we know, flurries fell outside the building as well, and the evidence was on the car when we left.

I managed to finish my Christmas shopping for all but three people Saturday, and I only spent $163, about $30 of which was for myself (c'mon, you didn't think I'd make it out without picking up something for myself, did you?)! They're all really thoughtful, unique gifts too, about which I'm super happy. Sorry, I would share what I got with you, but I don't want to ruin the surprise for any of those people on my gift list who might read this blog.

The glorious long weekend closed with Christmas decorating! Mi casa is now officially decorated for Christmas sans tree, which we'll get in two weeks. I haven't taken any pictures yet, but if I remember to, I will post some here. I always hate the shorter, darker days of November until the lights of Christmas brighten the void in December. It just makes me smile.

Wow, this was a long post! I hope I didn't bore you. How was your Thanksgiving and long weekend? What did you do? Have you decorated your home for the holidays? 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Marriage of Furt

Did you see last night's episode of Glee??? While it didn't stand up to last week's Gwyneth episode, for me, it was pretty fun. 


The wedding music for Burt and Carol's wedding was awesome! I almost want to save it for my own wedding. I loved their ceremony -- cue the tears -- the entrance, their first dance and Finn's tribute to Kurt. It's hard to pick a favorite.

Speaking of Kurt, what a great job he did with the wedding design! I couldn't find many pictures online, but here's a picture of Lea Michelle in her bridesmaid dress.
The colors were perfect for a fall wedding! You can't see it, but she had an orange Gerbera in her hair, and the flower bouquets were in similar tones. I don't normally go for reds, but this shade was really pretty and flattering. The Glee girls all wore the same color but in different dress styles -- a trend I'm loving for weddings.

Love was floating all around in this episode, but I can't say it was overly cheesy... well, except maybe for the wedding of Sue and Sue.

And, with the exception of Kurt's issues with bullying at school. Props to the Glee dudes for sticking up for him, along with Burt. But it just wasn't enough, and the episode ended with Kurt announcing his transfer to a private prep school with a strict no harassment policy.

While Kurt is leaving the school, it doesn't seem like he'll completely leave the show, as his new school is competing in regionals. 

What did you think of "Furt?"

{Image via perezhilton.com}

Monday, November 22, 2010

Free holiday cards!

Whoa, I just realized it has been a month since my vacation, and I haven't shared ANY of it here! While I'm not going to share much right now (I'm still waiting for a lot of pictures from the couples we traveled with), I will give you a teaser.

I'm sharing these photos with you because I'm thinking of using them on holiday cards this year. I've never done photo Christmas cards before, but Shutterfly is offering a deal I can't pass up: They are giving 50 free holiday cards to bloggers who write a post about their favorite Shutterfly holiday cards! If you would like to get 50 free cards, go here, and go here to check out their holiday cards.

I have never used Shutterfly, but I have heard SO many good things about them: the free photo storage, great print quality, awesome photo books and, of course, wonderful holiday cards! I'm really excited to upload my pictures and start using their services. I always love receiving photo holiday cards.

Before I reveal the pictures, here are the card designs I'm thinking of using. I couldn't pick just one, so maybe you guys can help me pick a favorite. I wanted something simple that wouldn't detract from the photos since they are such vivid, vacation photos.

Happy Snowflake
I love blue and snowflakes, so I liked the text on this card. I also like how the photos stand on their own, framed in white.

 Sunny Christmas
I saw this one, and I almost made my mind up immediately. I mean, how perfect is this design for showcasing our vacation pictures?? I just wish my pictures came out as well as this family's!

Classic Black
This design is the ultimate in simplicity -- unfussy and classic, but not very merry. They also have it with a red background, but I thought that might clash with the beachy vaca pictures.

Funny, it looks like the same family is in all three designs I chose! Anywho, I want to do three pictures, I think -- two of me and Jed, and one of Morris. These are the pictures I'm thinking of...

Me and Jed parasailing in Cozumel

Jed and I geared up to parasail

Jed and I kissing a stingray in Grand Cayman

So what do you think? I need help! I still have to take some pictures of Morris because the most recent ones I have are from late summer, and he has a lot more hair now! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Possibly the best episode of "Glee" ever!

I'm a couple days late with this, but I've been fighting a bad cold. I loved Tuesday's episode of Glee. It might be my favorite episode thus far.

Gwyneth Paltrow is my new favorite thing -- the next vocal star. She has a country music movie coming out, the title track of which she performed at this year's Country Music Awards. Now she's flexing her singing muscles on Glee. Incredible. We know she's a great actress, but now she's a great vocalist. I really hope she comes out with a country album because I'll totally buy it.

I freakin' loved all of her performances! And Will Schuster's Singing in the Rain dream scene with Mike Chang? Awesomeness. Singing in the Rain is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I loved the mashed-up, "modern" spin at the end with Paltrow.

Let's not leave out the Tuesday after-school special point on self-esteem and respecting yourself enough to speak up when the situation calls for it. As cheesy as it is, I think we all need reminders like that at times. When was the last time you bit your tongue because you held the unpopular viewpoint?

If you haven't seen this episode, find it and watch it. I guarantee you'll be entertained.

Sorry if this post is a little all over the place... it might be the drugs writing. :)

{Image via Google Images}

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Completely unmotivated

Hey out there. I'm having a pretty tough time motivating myself lately. I'm not sure what's going on with me; sure, I always have tasks and projects I push off because I don't feel like doing them, but I am usually able to substitute something else I have to get done so I stay productive.

Lately, nothing. It's an internal war to do almost anything.

Including coming up with some interesting, unique content for this little space of mine. I didn't want to do these surveys anymore, but I just can't bring myself to do anything else for today.

I found Roots & Rings Ten on Tuesday through Doniree, and if you haven't read her, you must. It seemed fun, and a little different, so I'm going with it.

1. What is your favorite breakfast pastry?
I admit it, most of the time, I cannot resist a donut. My dad used to make fun of me for it all the time. I'm lucky I'm not shaped like a donut!
2. Were you ever in a Thanksgiving or Christmas play?
Probably when I was really young, but I don't remember. I bet it wasn't very good, and I blocked it out as a result. :)
3. What is your favorite clothing accessory?
Jewelry. Classic, beautiful, simple jewelry.
4. What is your favorite item of clothing?
Jeans. I heart jeans. I don't really like shopping for jeans, but once I find my perfect pair, I could live in them.
5. What is your favorite color and why?
Blue. Any shade or tone. It's my color.
6. What is your favorite type of Christmas cookie?
Gingerbread, but they gotta be the chewy gingerbread, not that crisp stuff.
7. What is your favorite scent (food, perfume/lotion)
I love my Bermuda perfume sampler. I love vanilla. I love my man's cologne. I love coconut -- all beachy smells. Snow (yes, snow does smell) and summer rain.
8. What is your favorite household cleaner?
Endust. And Lysol wipes. I can't live without those.
9. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? And what did you actually grow up to be?
I'm realizing that I always wanted to be a mom. I've been pushing myself to be a professional, and I'm forgetting that it's ok if I'm just a mom in the future. As far as jobs, I wanted to be a professional dancer SO BAD (and unlike a lot of lil ballerinas, I worked for it taking lessons and competing for 16 years), and I wanted to be a writer. I got half of it right: I write. I miss the dancing though. For work, I do marketing communications.
10. What is the last song or album you bought?
I think it was the "Hope for Haiti" album off iTunes.
 Whoops! I meant to be pictures in here for you, but... yeah... 

Monday, November 15, 2010

C25K Check-In

Today I realized that I need to make running a habit. It needs to be a conscious decision that becomes a subconscious part of my day... like taking a shower.

Which, believe it or not, is the perfect segue into how I motivated myself to run today. LOL  I was just about to hop in the shower when I realized that I wanted to squeeze in a run today, and if I showered then, I'd only have to shower later after my run. But, wait a minute, what prevents me from squeezing in that run NOW, and then I can have my shower too?

The answer was absolutely nothing, so I went for a run. I followed the same one-mile loop I did Friday, using week one of C25K. Here's the stats and playlist:

Time: ~12:45

Black & White People -- Matchbox 20
Carnival Town -- Norah Jones
Always You -- Sophie Zelmani
She's Gotta Be -- Keith Urban

I was dreading today (I'm not a big fan of Mondays, but who really is?), and I was trying to find something to look forward to as I was falling asleep last night. This is what I have to look forward to: my runs. I've started focusing on the sensation of my feet hitting the ground, and it's... grounding. 

{Image via Real Simple}

Friday, November 12, 2010

Born to run?

Hardly, but I'm making an effort anyway. I have been less than motivated in keeping up with my Couch to 5K training, but I have a renewed sense of "get out there and pound pavement." To help keep me on track, I also have a virtual running buddy, Michelle of Oh Mishka! We've already started emailing each other to see how the other is doing with her running.

It is because of this accountability to Michelle that I bit the bullet and ran this morning. A coworker recommended me to MapMyRun, and I used it for the first time today. Basically this is a tool that enables you to enter your address (don't worry, it remains private) and then map out your neighborhood with whatever distances you want. There are a bunch of other features I've yet to discover, but this distance mapping is really the tool I was looking for.

I started easy and simple: a one-mile run following week one of C25K. This is a shorter route than the program recommends, but I don't want to discourage myself out of the gate again. I'll continue with week one next week, gradually building up to three miles. I hope to map out a few different three-mile loops around my neighborhood so I won't get bored with the scenery.

Since I only did a mile today, my playlist was super short:
Amazing -- Aerosmith
Hold It Now, Hit It -- Beastie Boys
Black & White People -- Matchbox 20

In total, I was out there for about 13 minutes today, plus my warm-up walk with Morris.

{Image via Real Simple}

Thursday, November 11, 2010

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave...

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Ever since my grandfather died on September 11, 2002 -- the first anniversary of that dreaded day -- the last line of our National Anthem chokes me up every time I hear it. I think the reason behind it is stated perfectly in the reflection I chose for today from Elmer Davis: "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." My grandfather was brave, and he served in the name of freedom for this country he loved. His ship was one of the first to arrive in Hiroshima after the atomic bombing; he was one of the first to witness the devastation and the pain. That ship also issued his death sentence. He died from a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos... from the ship he served on. I think of him today, and I think of all those who serve and have served our country in the armed forces. They define bravery for the rest of us, who often forget what it really means.

So many people are posting amazing things on Facebook today in observance of Veteran's Day. I wanted to share some of them.

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount of "up to and including my life." Freedom isn't free.

The soldier, not the reporter, gives you freedom of the press. The soldier, not the poet, gives you freedom of speech. The soldier, not the campus groups, allows you to protest. The soldier that salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped in the flag, allows protesters to burn the flag.

Today is not just a day off from work or school. Today is one day, that should be like every day, where you thank the people who have served this country with their courage and heart. Don't let today pass without thanking at least one of these brave souls.

God bless America and all those who protect her. 

How are you acknowledging Veteran's Day?

{Image via Guardian of the Redeemer}

Friday, November 5, 2010

High Five for Friday! And a lil Christmas...

Just Me and My Life

Hi guys (well, I guess it should be gals since most of my readers are ladies)! I've been pretty lazy about blogging this week. It's not that I haven't had ideas (I have!); I just get so tired at night, and my brain seems to shut down on me. I'm really impressed and touched (for lack of a better word due to brain shutdown) that you are all still here! I haven't lost any friends. So, thanks for being loyal readers, I'm really grateful for all of you.

I don't know about you -- sound off in the comments if you'd like -- but I still make a Christmas list every year. It usually only goes to my mother, and sometimes my sister will buy off of it, but my mother requires it. I like making one; it ensures I'll get what I need/want every year because Mom's really good about going by the list and then throwing in some surprises. I think Jed will probably get a copy this year because we're actually doing real presents to each other -- as opposed to last year when we just splurged on a new entertainment system for the living room and called it our Christmas present.

So, it's getting to be that time, but I started thinking about my list weeks ago. I couldn't help it! Today's Friday Fives over at Beth's (click button above) is five things on your Christmas list this year. Fun!

Brown leather boots, like these Franco Sarto ones found at Zappos.com

L.L. Bean's Gore-Tex Insulated Mittens because my fingers get SO cold when I ski.

Also for skiing (and everyday wear), L.L. Bean's Fitness Fleece Quarter-Zip Pullover. I already have one of these in black, and I LOVE it -- the perfect second layer for skiing. P.S. Don't really want the green, I'd rather have brown, ivory, tidal blue or pacific blue... if you're wondering. :)

Yankee Candle Large Jar candles -- I like so many scents, but Sun & Sand might be my favorite.

Patriots Fleece Gloves -- I lost mine last year, and I miss them terribly. They were the perfect everyday glove; my knit ones just don't keep the cold out as well!

There you have it, the bulk of my Christmas list! I haven't really though of a lot that I need this year; I tend to keep my list to things I need but wouldn't necessarily buy for myself. Occasionally I'll throw in an extravagant want. The rest of my list is basically long underwear for skiing (didn't think you'd want to see a picture of that!), a gym membership and gift certificates for massages and places I shop (yeah, L.L. Bean and Yankee Candle are on that list too!).

What's making your Christmas list this year, friends? I'm curious! Maybe you'll inspire me to add a couple more items to mine that I didn't think of!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello out there!

Wow, it feels like it has been forever, doesn't it?

I can explain my absence in two bullets.

  1. I was on vacation for a week, cruising the beautiful, albeit sometimes sketchy, Western Caribbean with some of my bestest friends.
  2. This post, by Matt Cheuvront of Life without Pants.
There have been a couple weddings during my absence, so I want to congratulate Brown Girl, Rachel and Christin on their nuptials! I can't wait to see more pictures and hear more about your special day and honeymoon! 

My vacation was excellent. It was one of those "bucket list" trips -- even though I didn't intend it to be -- where I crossed off quite a few things on my bucket list. I will be collecting pictures this upcoming weekend, and as soon as I have sorted through them, I will share.

Vacation and travel always makes me put things back into perspective. I get a new zest for life, and I re-prioritize. It never lasts, but I guess that just means I need to travel more often! :-) This blog is certainly a priority, as is reading all of your blogs, but I have had some other things higher on the list.

Work has been crazy busy. I feel like I'm putting in twice as many hours as I actually am, but I guess that means I'm being productive? I like being busy at work; it makes me feel useful and accomplished.

I've also put a new priority on sleep. I'm trying to form healthy sleep habits getting eight hours a night, winding down before bed, not pushing back bedtime to squeeze in one more thing, etc. I've also been focused on my goal to read more, so I've been trying to make more time to read daily. Plus there is the cooking, spending time with Jed, catching up on TV... not all more important than blogging, but certainly what I've been up to.

Finally, I'm really unplugging, as Matt writes in his post. Besides work, I've been avoiding my laptop. I haven't really checked Facebook. I've only logged on to Facebook once since I returned from vaca. I gave up catching up on my Reader and marked most of the items as read... without reading them (highly unlike me). I love being present online, but I don't want that to come at the expense of being present in real life.

So, don't panic if you don't see me around all the time. I'm here. Chances are I'm reading your blog. I'll post when I have something to post, and I hope you'll stick around to read it. 

Keep in touch, and know I am doing my best to do the same!