Monday, December 22, 2008

Cue the Charlie Brown Christmas Song in 5, 4, 3, 2...

So it's officially Christmas week! I'm still working, but there's no one in the hallways, so that's good enough for me from now til Wednesday at noon.

T and I have already exchanged gifts, because...yeah there's no good reason for it. I just can't keep my own secrets. Others' secrets I'm a vault for, but my own? Sieve. We were sitting there roughly a week ago, got on the subject, and I couldn't hold back anymore. I'd been working on it for a month and a half - that's a marathon for me!

T leaves tonight to go back east, and I'm sure the drive to the airport tonight won't be especially fun because of that. Ok, that's an understatement. But I'm flying out at the end of the week to join him, and he'll get to see MY hometown this time. I'm excited. And scared - there's only so cool a town of 5K can even be, and that's not very. At all.

I've been better about everyone else's presents. SO good, in fact, that I haven't even mailed off the long-distance gifts.
Wait that's a little too good. I think it flips back around to 'bad' on the meter. Sorry guys!


I hope everyone's having a great pre-holiday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prayers for Ward

My little brother Ward Brown was in a motorcycle accident last weekend. A car ran a red light and his bike hit it, catapulting him into the air where he somersaulted, landed on his back on the other side of the car, then slid for 40 feet on the asphalt.

When I got the call I was concerned, but calm. I knew in my heart that he would be alright.

And, he was. They had to put him out and intubate him because he was concussed and combative ("He was the most polite combative person I've ever seen" a nurse later told my mother), but he had no broken bones, no brain damage, only major bruising and swelling. He was sent home after about 2 days.

This morning at 6:21am I got a text from my mother, saying he is back in the hospital for blood clots in his lungs. Apparently he was staying at a friends house last night and had intense, almost unbearable chest pain. Jay (the friend) took him to the hospital, where they did an MRI then a CAT scan, and found the clots. He's on cumadin right now to thin his blood, and they're keeping him for a few days.

This time, I don't feel so calm. I'm afraid. My heart is afraid. And he's 3,000 miles away, on the opposite coast of the country, so I can't even see him.

Blood clots are scary. Nearly everyone knows of someone who's had serious injuries from blood clots, even the most serious injury, which I don't want to say in relation to my brother. But, of course we're all thinking it.

Please, if you have any spare time in your day, even 30 seconds, say a little prayer for him. His name is Ward Brown, and he's one of the most amazing people - the world needs him in it.

I'm 100% convinced of the power of prayer, so any help at all will be greatly appreciated, and I'm sure it'll be felt. Please help.

Thanks,
Charis

Friday, December 19, 2008

Second Down! Xmas Break is So Close I Can SMELL It

Almost there....

I just need to wrap up some course stuff (a page paper here and there, a couple evals, the usual)...\

...and then...

Home Free, baby!

Can't wait. I love school and all, but come on. I'm one of those who always has a mental To Do list pinging in the back of my mind. Crossing stuff off (and on time! gasp) is going to feel amaaaazing.

Then I can go back east in peace.

I just made a wine, I mean rhyme. Sort of. Yes, I actually typed wine by mistake. Is it time for the weekend to start yet?

30-Minute Day

Yesterday, as I was wrapping up to brave the cold after the workday was through-
-by the way, the Winter is finally here in SoCal! Yaaay! I was missing those gloves of mine-
-I had kids on the brain. Not that I want them yet or anything, but I was thinking about my future with them, one day. I want to be a very hands-on mom when the time comes, and even am in favor of homeschooling (I have a background in education and see how horrible our public schools are. Lots of my friends are teachers. Don't get me started about what I know...Oh, also, just my decision. I know homeschooling definitely isn't a good fit for everyone...) Anyway, I thought about how I get lost in things, and can go hours without even looking around the room when I'm wrapped up in a task that I'm interested in.

This just won't do. When I have little 'uns, their attention spans aren't more that 15 minutes long!

Then, that got me to thinking. One reason why I'm in favor of, more or less, treating (as in, talking to) kids like they're adults is that, I remember being 4, and 7, and 10 years old. I was the same 'me' that I am now. The voice in my head hasn't changed because I've gotten taller, or because I have a driver's license or a rent payment. Why are attention spans necessarily different?

I think it's probably natural for our attention spans to be "short" like that. Goodness knows that mine is when I'm doing something that I don't want to be doing. And add to that the fact that I'm not a huge fan of my days flying by, good or bad (bad=I feel like I've lost a day completely; good=I wish I had enjoyed it more, moment-to-moment), and I came up with the 30-Minute Day.

I've decided to change what I'm doing each half hour. At work, that's easy to do - my desk is full - and at home, I'll make it easy. Exercise for a half hour (that's all you need with some good Pilates, trust me). Meditate and write about what you experienced, both in the half hour. Unpack one room for that long (or in my case, one box), then move on to another.

I think it'll help space my day. And by staying aware of the time, I'll experience my time, rather than having it slip through my fingers.

I only have 7 minutes left to post this, a desk full of work, and a paper to finish tonight. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Halfway Done!

One big paper down, one to go!

It's on quarter-life and spirituality. If you're bored and have lots of time on your hands, email me and I'll send you a copy :)

charismb@yahoo.com

Finals Week MIA-ness

I'll apologize in advance for possible MIA-ness this week. It's finals week. I don't talk about school that much; as I've been in forever and feel like I WILL be in forever, I don't talk about it the same way I don't talk about showering

....yes, I do shower everyday. See? Don't necessarily talk about it...

Because this week is finals week, there are (dumdumdummmmm) papers to be written. And, as the reason for this blog in the first place is to keep my typing fingers nimble, that will be happening anyway, whether or not I'm posting. It is true, however, that this writing won't be fun-blog-writing, it'll be boring-academic-cited-psychological-writing. Oh well, you can't have everything.

But, back to it! Rest assured that I will be:

1) Staying caffeinated,

and

2) Acquiring carpal tunnel.

Just kidding. I like my forearms, no carpal tunnel for me. And I stay away from caffeine (mostly), so that huge Starbucks cup just has water in it.

Happy almost-Christmas-week!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Popsicle Toes

Yesterday the chilly SoCal winds started turning me into a Chariscicle from the ground up (as per usual). I remember going to the high school football games with my sister back in 8th grade, and needing to come home and sit on the edge of the tub, her and I side by side with our feet in the hot water until our toes thawed out. Pins and needles included. Not good extremety circulation for the Brown sisters...

Anyway, so when I get cold my toes and fingers start to lose blood flow, and it takes foreeeever for it to come back. (a running joke between friends and me is that I don't get warmer, I just suck the warmth out of anything I touch. And things like thick socks and blankets only insulate the cold...)

But I digress.

It was cold outside and my shoes were summery ones so, although I was wearing thick socks and all, I was still starting to freeze. White toes time.

T gave me a foot massage to warm them (a little freaked out by just how cold I actually felt in the footal area).

Not working.


He put my toes under his leg (we were sitting side by side) to just let them warm up eventually.

Got nothin.

So, he gets up, walks across the room, and puts a chair out, facing the wall.

"Sit down."

ummm..., okay...

So I do, and he stretches my feet out in front of me, and out of nowhere, produces a blow dryer and blow dries my feet.

It worked though! I felt great!

Then he dug out his grandfather's army socks and his own brown boots, and bundled up my toesies in them. I clomped around in his 11 1/2 size shoes all night (I wear a 7. In women's. Which means a 5 in men's).

Good times.

Wishing you a toesty start to the week!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sick Day

Today's whiteboard quote is:

"Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress."
~Epictetus


Yesterday was a sick day. I wore my pj's all day, finished watching a movie that I'd needed to for at least a month, and read when I should've been sleeping (can't help it, I'm an addict! Once T walked into the room and I heard a booming voice say, "What did I tell you?" ... I'd promised no more opening of the book....). I also carried a little box of lotioney tissues around with me (my nose officially thanks T for getting me that kind), blew my nose about a zillion honkin times, which is gross -the blowing in general, I HATE that feeling-, and did not write anything, which I had planned to do.

I was also made homemade chicken soup by T (best boyfriend ever), with help and tips from B (thank you SO much B, especially since I know you hate cooking using meat!), and ate lots of raw-garlic popcorn, which will probably make me smell bad for the next 2 days, but what always works to knock out a cold.

Somehow, as always, even when I'm snotty and disgusting, T made me feel beautiful. Love him.

Finally I fell asleep around 6:30ish and woke up this morning, only slightly sniffly, and with none of the vertigo or gross swollen eyesedness I'd had yesterday. I was surprised, because I didn't get nearly the amount of sleep I'd expected!

So, I armed myself with some leftover chicken soup, bundled up because I'd heard a newscast on Wednesday that said we're getting in an "Arctic breeze" or something that had made it 60 below in Russia so it's supposed to be really cold this weekend.... Yeah. 52 degrees. Bollocks!

Sick days are nice. Even though you feel like poo, it's nice to have a free pass to do nothing but lay around. Not that I don't have plenty of laying around in my life, but usually I feel guilty afterward for not being more productive. Not today!

What makes it better? I come back to the world to a Friday! Woohoo! And M and I are throwing a dinner party tonight, which I'll have pics from tomorrow, if I can force myself to be productive enough to post them on a Saturday morning ;)

Happy almost-weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trashy

I just dumped my mini-paper-recycling bucket into the big paper-recycling-bin in the hallway. A couple post-its floated behind the big blue can, and I bent down, scooted it out of the way, and reached into the grimy corner to retrieve them.

Because I'm that neat?

No.

Because I don't want anyone to see my inspirational stuff I post around my office here and there (my daily affirmations go on the stickies. Today's is I receive goodness from the Universe).

I'd be embarrassed if someone saw them. I'd feel like a dork.

And yet, I

#1) write one on my hallway whiteboard every day (Today's is "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" ~Henry David Thoreau), and

#2) just posted this on my blog, for the whole world to see...

How does that make sense?

I'm bleary eyed and my nose is running like an Olympian. In a half hour I'll drive home, and into striped pajamas and bed I go.

Happy, healthy Wednesday to you...

Be Sweet Too

For the past two days I have been obsessed with Nie Nie. Between her blog and her sister's blog, I've been walking around in a daze with my "free-time-mind" completely hijacked by this story. Well, not only by the story, but by the life. The life that led up to the accident that was so simply exquisite, and the life that is, and that will be, now-after the accident. Definitely as gorgeous, maybe even moreso, but in different ways.

That's what is amazing about blogging - how it brings people together. You can really see and identify with people you may never have even met, much less bonded with, in your non-cyber life. There is always a community.

Technology is a blessing, certainly, in times like these.

Last night, after thinking about it all afternoon (it's a blessing and a vice of mine, I look too close. I think of these things too much. Sometimes praying about them helps me by making my life so much more precious in many ways that I have yet to mention, but it always affects me. In college I couldn't eat or sleep normally for days after I read a blurb about the murder of a child by other children. It was in Child Psychopathology class, and I was sucked in. I guess that's a drawback of having good "spatial ability", aka the ability to picture things. Believe me, I'm not bragging - what does being tested and saying that I have an above-average ability to, say, see the back of a chair in my mind do for me?...)

Back on the subject I go...

Nie Nie is a goddess of one of my soon-to-be new year's resolutions this year (drumroll...) to be more homemaker-ey next year. Yup, I want to have a house that's decorated for the season and often smells like cookies. Can't help it. When I was little my sister and I made homemade noodles with my mom, stringing them from broom handles across countertops. I remember the flour under my fingernails, and my baby brother crawling on the floor, trying to get at the deliciousness hanging just out of his chubby paws' reach (I may have pinched off copious amounts for him. That's what good sisters do, right? At least I have that going for me...)

The joy she took in the beautiful simplicity of everyday living has given me new vision. Last night I went to visit T and was so grateful just to have him, whole and healthy and loving me - these are the things we should be paying attention to, that makes life sweet.

The crisp air chilling my cheeks and blowing my hair as I walk outside,

The warmth of the boys' hallway heater as I walk by (yay for it being in the center of their apt!),

Chatting in the living room about recipes and work,

Painting my toenails in a hard-won empty hour just after the sun's set and while the oven's preheating,

Warm hugs from my love....

Sometimes (ok, usually) life is more complicated. Traffic, deadlines, Christmas shopping, travel plans, returning phone calls,

But can't it always be sweet too?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shopping Dates and Peppy Mornings

This morning I am extremely energetic. Like, freakishly so. I don't know why, but I'm going with it!

Sometimes you have randomly "good days" or randomly "bad days". Where stuff just goes right or wrong. Little things, here and there, but in the end they all combine to make things awesome, or to make you want to turn in early (around 1pm, say...) and start again on the next one.

Today isn't necessarily either good or bad in those ways, but energy always helps. It's also helping me with my
resolution resolutions, which are coming along nicely, if quietly.

Perhaps last night has to do with my day today. It rocked. I hadn't hung out with M in what seemed like forever, so we had a shopping-and-dinner date. Traffic wasn't horrible on my way home from work
-hold that-
Traffic was nice on my way home from work (working on more optimistic wording. It's a good thing) so I got there in under an hour, went home, relaxed, read, puttered around, did NOT unpack (oops. Maybe bruised a shin or two on random boxes. Karma) for roughly a half hour til M came by and picked me up.

We are straight-up JcPenney sales junkies (I once got a satiney summery dress there, strapless, black and white and lovely, for $6. I know. Amazing) and knew that there was a good sale still going on from the weekend. So we beelined it to the mall. As M was driving, there was a lot of:

"I think my turn is coming up-" (as I watch it go by)
"Wait...was that it?"
"Yeah."
"Crap."
she turns around
"I've never been to this mall before..."
"Yeah you have"
"I have?"
"Yeah, we saw the Sex and the City movie here"
"We did?"
"Yeah"
.....5 points if you can guess who was who.....
One of the many reasons I love my sister - she is an intellectual giant (nope, not exaggerating) and yet I'm still sometimes smarter. **insert evil laugh here**

ANYway, she'd checked to see where JcPenney was online before she left to come get me, and we got to the mall finally, trying to decide whether to circle around it until we found the correct entrance, or just park somewhere and walk. Finally, we decided to do the latter. We went in and, lo and behold, there was um, no JcPenney in that mall. Anywhere. So we called up our ever-useful GPS system, Mom, back in VA, who is 98% of the time magically by a computer, who searched it for us.

Yes we do that. Like we're 5 years old. Hey, if you had a resource that always came through like that, you'd use it too. Sorry for all the sleep deprivation because of the time difference, Mom. :)

So we were on our way to the actual JcPenney!

We drove for a while, thought we'd passed it, realized we didn't, wondered if that was a mall or just a Macy's on the left, I figured it must be a mall because it had a massive parking structure...which went on, and on and, we decided that we could turn in any old time because the parking garage went to the end of the earth....

But finally, we were there. And?

No good sales.

Sigh.

But, all was not lost! In a quick perusal of the mall, we found an old-timey scale!

I didn't realize we were making a Burlington ad,


And M, glam as always.

We decided to hit up Outback for dinner (I love. It had been waaay too long) and here's the carnage that remained of the Pumpernickel loaf. (note. I did abide by my kicking-illness'-a#$ diet all day. I figured a splurge wasn't so bad. And, this morning? Only a mildly scratchy throat. Yay!) Oh. It also includes a picture of her delicious martini and what I was drinking - hot water with lemon. No fun at all.


There was delicious food, laughter, an amazing gingerbread martini which we will now put on our 'search and destroy' list to figure out how to replicate it at home, and upon the drive home, we found the most ghetto stop sign ever:



And that's it. Wishing you lots of family fun this December!

PS: here's one that shows why I love where I work. I was walking across campus yesterday and witnessed cuddling turtles. Makes me happy. (sorry it's kinda dark...)



Monday, December 8, 2008

Lovely Lazy Weekend

So I haven't posted in a few days because I didn't have much to say at the end of last week after a slightly torturous ortho appointment on Thursday (I'm thankful for my Invisalign, thankful, @$%^%$) and Glee Club performances on Friday and Saturday nights (rocking my "Quaker going to the prom" GC "regalia"). Besides, I thought that today I'd have lots of things to write about, like my exciting weekend of Christmas shopping and ice skating (that's right boys and girls, there is OUTDOORS ice skating here in SoCal, and I am thankful for refrigeration technology. Fo real.)

And here it is, Monday, and what did I do this weekend?

Nada.

It was awesome.

Granted, I did become a little disgruntled (a.k.a fire-breathing dragonish. Poor T) on Saturday afternoon when I realized that I was exhausted for some strange reason and my day was gone already (in hanging out around the apt, I didn't even get dressed til around 1 or 2) because I only had time for a much-needed nap before driving all the way to Pasadena for the performance (by the way, hello traffic jam...I ran in after the warmup and after the soundchecks, getting lost in the crazy maze of a church, and finally taking my jacket off about 10 minutes before we started, and 50 minutes late. Thank goodness for car-driving-vocal-warmups, is all I'll say about that).

Afterward, it was back for some band practice and midnight pumpkin cookie baking (didn't turn out so well. I didn't realize til halfway into the batter that the boys didn't have any eggs. Oops...)

Sunday morning was a walk down to the farmer's market with T, then a yummy and healthy brunch (we have to get on the good-eating train now because the holidays back east are going to be food-debauchery. Can't wait!), followed by naps, dinner, movie night (we watched Goodfellas, which I'd never seen and gave me nightmares, I'm a pansy I know). Yesterday was a one-hour-in-jeans (the farmer's market), the-rest-of-the-day-in-T's-sweatpants (that sounded much worse than it actually was, I borrowed his sweatpants because they were comfy) kind of a day. Oh, besides the fact that around noonish yesterday, I started to notice a kind of ouchy tickle in my throat...

Remember that "random" exhaustion on Saturday afternoon?

...I failed to mention a moment at the Friday night performance where all the members were rushing around getting ready to file into the main chapel, and I was reaching around someone to get into a cabinet. She was coughing into a hanky - not an "oops there's something in my throat" cough, or even a "sip of water just went down the wrong pipe" cough. No, it was one of those rough, rattling "I have disgusting strep throat-or-some-such-other-unfortunate-winter-illness" kind of a cough. I didn't think much of it, you hear people coughing all the time. Until. She removed the hanky from in front of her face, turned to leave the cabinet area, and coughed. In. My. Face. DISGUSTING.

I remember thinking at the time, "oh no that can't be good", quickly followed by "okay little immune system, go to work! I will not get sick, I will not get sick, not get sick....." (I totally believe in the power of affirmations, can you tell?)

And here I am, Monday, sore throat, tired, a bit achy (which may have just been the yoga and Pilates that I did yesterday afternoon. Forgot to put that in there. It was after the nap and before the movie, and yes, I do choose to exercise on my mat in T's room just to inspire him to work out too so I can watch...I'm allowed to do that!)

Anyway, along with affirmations, I'm a big believer in kicking illnesses a#$ by the following methods (depending on the illness), so I'll choose to drink one glass of water each hour, and eat only things loaded in Vitamin C, with the odd carb here and there.

The end. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Resolution Resolutions

Only one word to describe my day: CRAZY. I won't go into the details, let's just say that it was one of those days. Not bad, just so busy that I think, at one point, my head may've been spinning around, exorcist-style.

Anyway, on to other things. Now that there's about a month left til the new year, I'm making resolution resolutions.

Sound silly? Ok, yes it does. But it's not, actually. Here's how it works -

You take stock of this past year, and see how you did. See what you want, and how you'd like the next year to go.

According to the Stages of Change Model, the first thing you do when there's time to make a major change is "precontemplate" it. As in, kinda sorta thinking about making the change. Or, even realizing that how things currently are isn't how you'd like for them to be, and therefore acknowledging that perhaps some sort of change would be a good idea, even if you don't know what the change would look like. (note: if you follow the link, they're talking a lot about addiction or destructive behaviors. I learned it while getting my master's in health, and the spin I was given was on picking up a healthy habit using the model, like exercising or eating right. Just sayin, ignore the negative stuff if you're reading up on it, as that's not really what I'm referring to here.)

So, this is my month of precontemplation. And, I am very excited to say, that there will be big, AWESOME changes in this next year! And, in this month, all I'm going to do is think about them. I'm not allowed to actually do anything. I'm going to build up steam, then be rearing to go by the time the new year rolls around. Stay tuned for updates, in a month :)

So, what might you get excited about in the new year?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sleep Deprivation Isn't Fun For Anyone

...that is, unless you're really sleep deprived, to the point of giggle attacks and foolishness, as can be evidenced here...

But I digress. Let me give a little context. Yesterday was a helluva day:
-Awaken, 3:30am
-Take an advil, 3:32am
-Hang around the apartment, waiting for it to kick in, 3:33am - 4:35am
-Decided I can go back to sleep, so start to doze, 4:45am
-Say "good morning" (or something) to my alarm, 5:45am
-Begin drive to work, 6:45am
-Arrive at work, 7:25am
-Leave work, 4:00pm
-Run errands (dry cleaning, Target, etc.), 4:00pm - 5:40pm
-Go to Library (for some schoolwork, reading), 5:40pm - 6:15pm
-Drive to Church for glee club rehearsal for this weekend's performance, 6:20pm
-Rehearse (a.k.a. stand uncomfortably on risers, sweat, then freeze in the old church, be jostled by fellow singers, yelled at by director (as a part of the choir, not myself. I'm a mouse in rehearsal, unlike in the rest of my life), have head vibrated by bell ringer directly behind me, have ears blasted by trumpet players directly in front of me), 6:30pm-9:40pm
note: we were told we'd be getting out at 9:15ish to 9:30ish at the latest. Such was not the case. Don't these people know I turn into a pumpkin at 9 on weeknights? And on top of that I had to drive to Egypt to get home...
-Drive home, 9:40pm - 10:20pm
note: driving home includes nodding off and scary eye workage. More on that later.
-Go to bed: 11:30pm
-Say "hello" (or something) to today's alarm, 4:45am
-Drive to work, 5:15am - 6:20am (including seeing nasty motorcycle accident that also clogged the 110, which did provoke a moment and gratitude for my mundane health, as well as sorrow and prayers for the man lying on the pavement being attended to by paramedics...)
-Gym, 6:25am - 7:00am
-In to work, 7:25am

Now. I don't go to the gym only to work out (not anymore, at least). I go because, if I don't leave before 5:45am, the traffic will make me late for my 7:30am start time in the office. If I leave before 5:30am, I'll be there with an hour to spare. Yes, the difference in traffic is that much. So I'm forced to go to the gym. However, this doesn't mean much because when I'm this tired, my workout is 50% at best...

And about the "eye workage" mentioned above, the truth is...I fall asleep on the road. Bad. I know, it's horrible, and that's one of the reasons that I make it a point, whenever possible, to get enough sleep. Somewhere during my junior year in high school when I was driving an hour each way to school because my mom had moved far away from my high school and I refused to transfer (brat), and was doing extracurriculars which made my driving hours something like 5:15-6:30am, then 10:30-11:30pm, my body just began to say to me "screw you. You won't give me sleep, I'll take it. I don't care what you're doing." I would fall asleep on the road regularly. Sometimes, after a drive up to Richmond, my new home, I'd feel as if I'd taken a nap, and not remember a thing about the drive. I would force my eyes to remain open, so they'd just shut off. Not even kidding. All of a sudden, I'd be blind. I'd have to shake my head a little to make my vision kick back in. Oh, and hallucinations on the road. Had those too. Let's not even go there.

And there started my borderline narcolepsy. I am convinced that I am not fated to die in a car crash, because that totally would have happened about a zillion times over the years.

In college I would fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. I slept through all the Oceans movies (11, 12, 13). I slept through Hannibal. In the second row.

Over the ensuing years, this has gone away mostly, but from time to time I'll feel the freight train of sleep, coming to get me. When it really sucks is when I'm in a meeting at work, or driving, of course. And that's what almost happened last night. It wasn't full-force, and I didn't ever actually fall asleep, but the train was close by. And the smaller lanes and crazier traffic on the West Coast made it nerve wracking, lemme tell you. Suffice it too, to say that T will probably never want me to drive after dark again...

So, today, I am tired. And it's a long day because we're having our office Christmas party tonight. Woohoo. Can you sense my excitement?

I need a nap.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008


Thanksgiving!
Or, as we should perhaps call it, Turkey Day! (because we should give thanks all the time, right? Oh, maybe I'll withdraw that opinion, because there's Valentine's Day too, which, yes, is a holiday greatly inflated by the consumer industry blah blah blah, still - it's nice that there's a day devoted to love. And we should love everyday too...so Thanksgiving it is.)
~
I cooked a LOT this year, for the very first time. I, of course, like to cook and all, I just don't do it too often. Hopefully, that's changing. (the only thing that 'hopefully' stands for in that instance is my 'hope' that I'll get off my tired bum at the end of the day and actually cook something...) In the past, I've taken care of one or two dishes, but I'd never been responsible for the turkey. Or for anything very important, for that matter. I've made lots of pumpkin pies, but I don't count that. This time, I did the turkey, sweet potato casserole, cornbread, AND pie. It was lots of fun!
I'll get back to cooking in a minute. The first thing that I learned this holiday, prior to the turkey-making, was how to play chess. T and I are learning together. Now it's all we do.
(note the grocery bags in the background, having yet to be unloaded...)
I was very excited. Although we were only 5, somehow a 12-lb turkey was purchased. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
I got the idea for what I'd do from a combination of a few recipes on www.allrecipes.com, good old common sense, and the amazing vegan chef and friend B, who has not always been a vegan and dug up some great tips for me out of the foggy pre-vegan memory. Here he is, being kind enough to help me with the brining (was it kindness or the fact that he didn't want me to touch his salt container with my gross turkeyed hands? we'll never know...)
Because T doesn't eat gluten, I searched for some gluten-free recipes for things like cornbread and pumpkin pie. I was 1 for 2 - the cornbread was awful. BUT, the pie was great! The crust, not having regular flour, didn't stick together the way it should so I decided to do mini pies in a cupcake pan rather than gambling with a full-sized pie crust:
They turned out amazingly well! Beautiful, perfectly browned and delicious. I think they'll be making a reappearance before long.
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Finally, the time came. After a day of cooking, chess, and general foolery, dinner was ready! I was also the only girl in attendance, so I represented the whole gender (you can bet I was under some how's-the-turkey-gonna-taste pressure!) The friend who we were visiting has a balcony that overlooks the Pacific, so the boys moved the table outside as I got ready. I came out to a bare dining room and a lovely table under the sunset:
Gorgeousness. They even did a great job with setting the table, for boys :)
So, we all sat, and after lots of pictures were taken (I could've sworn B's tripod was going to fall off the wall of the balcony to the mountain below, but all ended up fine in the end) we sat down to eat. There was amazing butternut squash soup, delicious vegan stuffing, green bean casserole, wine - of course, marinaded brussel sprouts, plus everything I'd made, and I'm sure I'm forgetting even more. We passed around the serving dishes, and I heard echoes of kudos on the turkey. (I was SO nervous!) Finally I got some, and tried it...and....it was AWESOME. Yay! Moist and flavorful (oh yes, I used bacon. That's right, bacon. Everwhere. Can't go wrong with that.) I think I've found my permanent turkey recipe.
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I finished before the boys (snacking while cooking all day made me the one with the smallest appetite) and hung out on the hammock nearby on the balcony, gazing up at my much-missed-in-LA stars -
Eventually T came over and joined me, as well as thankfully keeping me warm (if you know me, you know that I don't generate my own body heat)
yes, those are snowmen on my socks. I can at least wear snow if I can't see it, ever.
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The next morning, we woke up at 4am for Black Friday shopping! T was infinitely less excited than I was, but he was an amazing sport about it, as always.
I love Black Friday. I usually only shop for a few hours, am back in bed by 11am, and spend maybe, a THIRD of what I would on Cmas presents otherwise. It's amazing. The crowds don't bother me because I am ready. It's like my own personal Running of the Bulls. (any more than once a year, I would never. Just sayin.)
But sadly, this time the sales were not so great. We ended up only buying a few things, and heading back down toward home just as the sun was coming up. Made for oh-so-gorgeous views though:
Once we arrived back in Santa Monica, we went to the omelette parlor for breakfast. This, unfortunately, was where we ran out of steam. Terry did about 1.7 seconds before me.
Back home, back to sleep, to wake up at noon, refreshed and ready for a great long weekend!
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I can't complain. Even though it's Monday. One down, two to go. Bring on Christmas!