Reflections on this winter

I am not at home.  I am at a friend’s house, having escaped the storm and coming straight here from work, rather than wait for aforementioned friend to get out of work before coming here.  Nope.  I may be a New England girl, but I do not chance the snowstorm.  Said friend was justly rewarded for my intrusion by a straightened bedroom (I was bored, Yule is Saturday and there are only so many days and so much time left) and a cup of hot white chocolate peppermint tea (still obsessed) upon her arrival.  Life is good.  Very shortly, we will bake — bread (me) and cookies (her).  I just love the week leading up to Yule.

Yule, for those of you playing the home game and who may not have been here last year, is a very special holiday that my friend Jess has thrown every year since 2006.  Well, to be fair, 2006 was a hastily thrown-together joint year.  The five of us who attended were all horribly poor, our fare was a pork roast that my mother had charitably given me, and we gave each other the smallest, barest Yule gifts because that was what we could afford.  We made up lyrics to Christmas carols and decorated a Charlie Brown-esque “Yule tree.”  It was wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

In the eight years since then, Yule has become bigger and better, as we’ve become older and wiser.  Since Yule ’08, the Yule party has always been held at Jess’s house, and she acts as hostess.  I pitch in with the cooking (which we maintain is the best part of Yule), but it’s Jess’s show.

The point of Yule is a non-denominational celebration of friendship, the holidays, and the return of the light.  I am Catholic, and Jess is pagan, and our friends come from all walks of life in between.  Yule does not align itself with anything other than the winter solstice.  We do not have rituals, and religion is not forced on anyone.  We celebrate each other, our friendships, our triumphs and struggles, our love for each other, and the return of brighter days.  We eat food, play games (mostly horrible ones like Cards Against Humanity) and exchange presents.  Dinner is always as sumptuous an affair as we can make it without breaking the bank.  2010 was the infamous “Turducken Yule” — and yes, Jess did make a turducken.  It was masterful.  This year is going to be beef Wellington (Jess) and roast chicken, for those who don’t like beef (I am providing the chicken, but she will be seasoning it).

Yule is wonderful, it is exciting, it is exhausting — it is my favorite time of the holiday season.

Last year’s Yule:

Clockwise from R: Sam, Jess, Tina, Drea, Christina, Joe, and me.

Four more days.  I can’t wait.

Little Victories — Week Three

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.

Week Three:

– The Patriots won the AFC Divisional Title on Sunday, which was a nailbiting, scary-as-hell, total blast to watch.  I don’t know if this is a victory for me, per se, but it made me happy so I count it.

– Started the semester with a bang; I love my class and I love the teacher and I am just full-on enjoying myself.

– Got within 30% of finishing World Without End, and with any luck, I’ll complete it this weekend so I can get down to required reading for the semester.

– Decided “the hell with it” and spent about half of my Christmas money and a $50 GC on a Kindle Fire.  This I totally blame all of you for; nobody threw up any roadblocks to my post about it and so I figured, there are no real cons worth worrying about!  And just did it.

– Made a real attempt to eat and cook healthier by shopping organic at Trader Joe’s and making myself some healthier meals, like quinoa and sauteed chicken.

– Had a wonderful Knit Night at my friend Drea’s last night, where I put to rest a lot of my anxiety that my friend(s) were annoyed or fed up with me (anxiety disorder is a constant battle against common sense, I know).

Items added to my 2013 jar: 1.

Let’s hear it for the weekend!

Little Victories, Week 1

For 2013, I’m going to have a Friday post every single week, for positive victories in my life.  They may not be big things, but they will be things that I am proud of, things I did in the past seven days.  I’m hoping this will keep me focused on the positive, all the good things that are going on in my life.  So this is Week 1 of “Little Victories” (which may or may not always be little).

– My friend Drea saw this beautiful idea for a 2013 memory jar somewhere on line and suggested we all do it.  She probably got it from someone who linked to a Pinterest board.  I don’t do Pinterest, though I do have an account (that is a rant for another day), but I fell in love with this idea, and we’re going to AC Moore after work today to get the supplies to make our own Memory Jars.  And to knit.  Because we do that.

– I made peace with D on New Year’s Eve, which is something I didn’t expect to do.  I stopped by his apartment to pick up my key, because we both feel it’s only right that I retain a house key so long as I still have property and furniture in there.  While I was there, we had a long talk, accompanied by tea and petting Ollie, and both of us seemed to get on the same page and really make peace with each other.  I’m happy to say that in the last seventy-two hours, we have not fought or hurt each other, and that is a major victory in my book.

– I cleaned my apartment from top to bottom on New Year’s Day, allowing me to feel like I’m getting a fresh, clean start.  Of course, there’s already a laundry basket full of clean laundry that needs folding and putting away, but at least it was a start!

– With the exception of Monday (NYE, so it doesn’t really count), I have had homecooked meals every single night this week (and cooked all but one of them, on NYD, which David made).  Dinner this week included: chicken parmesan (Tuesday), grilled chicken and baked potatoes (Wednesday), and chicken cutlets with rice (Wednesday).  I eat a lot of chicken.  That’s okay, chicken is good for you.

– I finished (almost!) all of my Christmas shopping.  I know it’s weird to still be Christmas shopping in January, but my final Christmas party is this weekend, so I had a little extra time.  Plus being sick really knocked me for a loop last week, so I really did need the extra time.

First picture of me in 2013.  I look tired, which I guess is normal for getting over a terrible illness.  But I feel happy, and I think I look pretty happy.

I still feel pretty confident that 2013 is going to be great.

On Yule, With Joy

The last entry (hell, the last couple of days) have been rough, so I wanted to post something a little happier.

Today is Yule, the winter solstice, and this is the day my friend Jess throws her annual Yule party.  It’s a winter celebration of all faiths, where 10 of us will get together, exchange presents, cook and eat delicious food, and just altogether have an amazing time.  It’s the high point of every year, and we look forward to it.  This is the seventh year that we’ve had Yule (although only Jess and I were part of the original and have been to every single one).

2006: Paul, me, and Jess, with the World’s Ugliest Yule Tree.

 

2007: Ryan, Jess, Paul, Rain, Katie and me, just before dinner.

 

Unbelievably, I don’t have a single picture from Yule 2008, but that was the day my Aunt Nancy died, so I think I just forgot to take pictures.

2009: I don’t have a group shot but this one is hilarious. Drea and Jess opening presents.

 

2010: The TURDUCKEN year! Jess (right) made a turducken. It was amazing.

 

2011: David, me, and our friend Jim.

I’m very much looking forward to tonight…good food, good friends, and commemorating another trip around the sun.

And the fact that the Mayans were wrong.

Another One Bites The Dust

One paper down, one to go!

(Granted, this one is bigger, and more important, but it’s already finished except for the revisions, which I NEED TO WORK ON)

I don’t have that much to write about, so we’ll do bullets.

– Adult cooking.  I discovered potato gnocchi and holy hell, my life will never be the same.  DELICIOUS.  I boiled them for 2 minutes, then tossed them in melted butter and roasted garlic, sprinkled them with Parmesan cheese, and had grilled chicken with Montreal seasonings on the side.  OH MA GA.  New favorite meal ever!  I seriously can’t get enough, and I’m going to gain like 10 lbs.

This is my REALLY PROFESSIONAL picture (i.e. taken with my Samsung Stratosphere) of my dinner from two nights ago.

dinner

Could seriously eat it any day of the week.

– School is so close to being done!  At some point I have to do the aforementioned edits, but I am getting so close!  There is a bottle of moscato in my fridge AS I TYPE THIS, waiting for December 18th and the end of the semester.

– Snow.  Look, white crap.  We’re scheduled for an unwelcome visit from you and I DAGF how many New Englanders sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, as far as I am concerned YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE at least until December 23rd.  This Christmas is going to be difficult enough.  Snow before or on December 22nd means that my grandparents will more than likely cancel their flight and won’t be in on Christmas, and…yeah.  I just can’t do that.  Please.  This year has been sucktastic enough.  The promise of the entire family being here for Christmas was the thing that was keeping my Christmas spirit going.  Please please please please don’t come next weekend.  Please.

The 10 day forecast says that we only have a 10% chance of snow on the 22nd.  Please stay that way.  (I feel like I can’t stress this enough)

Shopping.  I am ALMOST done!  A couple of friend presents and putting together the finishing touches on my last family presents, and then I’m set!  Pretty happy with what I put together this year.

I also got my package from Sephora yesterday!  Because of the Beauty Insider $15 off a $50 purchase, I was able to justify picking up Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector (I got a sample in my It Kit a month ago and after squeezing the last little bit out of it, realized that I can’t live without it) and the Sephora Collection Smoothing Translucent Setting Powder.

My only complaint about this is the packaging, not the product.  This is TINY.  You’d think I wouldn’t be such a moron about reading the amount in the packaging, but I am.  For almost $40, this should be a much bigger product.  The good thing is that a SAMPLE of it lasted me a month, so this should last me quite a bit longer.  It’s amazing the difference.  I don’t usually get massive dark circles but a lack of sleep (and let’s be honest, crying in the last few weeks) has wreaked havoc on my eyes, leaving them dark and puffy.  A tiny little dab of this stuff (applied with the ice-cold metal applicator) de-puffs and lightens my undereye circles.  It’s brilliant. (Rating: 8/10, mainly because of the package)

The powder was a gamble because I’ve been having issues matching face powders to my incredibly pale skin (increasing since my already-less-than-impressive “summer tan” has faded).  I decided to take a chance on the translucent powder because it was supposed to just matte-ify my face, not put color into it, and figured I’d compensate with blush.  Well, this is a winner!  It matte-ifies my face, seals my makeup, and doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing a mask.  Bonus: the container is BRILLIANT.  When you pop the lid open, it allows just a small amount of powder free into the top level for brushing.  If you need a little more, close the container, turn it upside down and then back up, and re-open, to replenish the powder.  Love it!  (Rating: 10/10!)

– Knitting.  I have two projects that DEFINITELY need to be finished, one for this weekend, and two for next Friday.  I have one more that I MIGHT do for actual Christmas, but we’ll see, since it’s not a big deal if it isn’t done, I have other gifts for the recipient.  We’ll see!  I’m going to Knit Night tonight and hopefully I’ll bang out the last few rows of the one I’m working on for Saturday!

And I think that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  We’ll see how the weekend pans out!

Living (Not So) Single

In celebration of my last class session of the Fall ’12 semester (although I still have two papers and one “class” — potluck dinner — at my teacher’s house), I decided to make a real meal for dinner last night.  It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I had sort of given up on cooking real food for myself when D and I separated.  It’s difficult to cook a meal for yourself when you live alone.  Most recipes are geared towards lots of people and multiple servings.  I also come home late most nights of the week (between 7:30 and 8:00 PM) so it’s difficult to get up the desire to actually cook a “real” meal.

But last night, class got out at 6:20 PM, and I was home by 7:00 PM, with a bag of chicken breasts (really big, plump, I-can-get-four-pieces-out-of-each-of-these chicken breasts) and I decided to go to work.

I breaded each of the breasts with an egg wash and a mix of breadcrumbs and parmasan cheese, and baked it in the oven at $250 for about 20 minutes (10 on each side).  It came out a little dry, so I won’t be doing that again.  I also sauteed some carrots in butter and garlic (OMG DELICIOUS) and for my starch?  Well.  Frozen pierogis boiled in water.  I haven’t been keeping potatoes in the house because they’ll go bad too quickly.  Plus I’ve been cutting down on my starches.  Or at least trying to.

First adult meal in the new place?  Success.

 

This weekend is going to be weird…D and I are finally splitting our finances on Saturday.  We have a joint bank account, so of course it seems logical to split that and split the money.  We met on Tuesday afternoon to write it out on paper, and came to a very quick and amicable decision as to who gets what.  It’s definitely a surreal experience.  I think back to how much time and attention planning the wedding took, and this is…just so fast and heartless, I guess.  I keep getting twinges of sadness, but at the same time, it will be a relief to have my bank account in my sole possession again, after Saturday.  Plus I can really bunk down and finish my Christmas shopping!

And Christmas knitting.  Which is what Knit Night is for!