Monday, November 28, 2011


Thanksgiving is gone.  I can finally decorate (paper snowflakes are already in the windows) and listen to holiday tunes, but only sometimes if B is around.
My Dad preached a thoughtful advent sermon on Sunday, which made me remember the Advent Sundays when I was a kid.  I hated it (sorry, Dad).
I hated the waiting.  I was always excited for Thanksgiving, but after Thanksgiving I realized there was still an entire month before Christmas Day.  Pure torture.  One year I made myself so excited for Christmas (age 4) that I got sick on the day of, and was so weak my parents had to help me open my presents.  Not cool.
A lot of people have this reaction to the holiday season:
Honestly, I don't blame them.  With Black Friday 'officially' kicking off the Christmas season, stores opening at midnight, commercials with crazy-thin looking women working out extra hard to beat the crowds at the sales, and stories of people being shot, punched, and peppersprayed (c'mon guys, this isn't #OWS), its easy to get stressed out.

Today is 'cyber Monday', coined after online retailers noticed a spike in sales the Monday after Thanksgiving.  So of course all my groupon and Rue La La emails are dedicated to holiday gifts.  Which also has the potential to turn a busy Monday back at the office into a buying free-for-all.

But as an adult, I find I enjoy the Christmas Season more than the actual holiday itself.  I love Christmas shopping.  I love Holiday cups at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. I love listening to the Christmas music on Pandora at work.  I love being able to say "Merry Christams" and "Happy Holidays" to people.

You would wonder about this, especially if you knew how long I have spent in retail.  But small shops are different than the Targets and Best Buys of Black Friday Lore.  Small shops are friendlier, warmer, and all-in-all, more helpful than the big box stores.  You get personal attention and a person who really cares about finding the perfect gift with you.

Slow down, friends.  Take a few moments to relax and remember that Christmas is about Advent.  Its about the excitement of an upcoming holiday, as much as the holiday itself.  Go from the stressed-out image to this:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks and Giving

Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday.
I love Christmas SEASON, but the day itself always goes too fast.  Its more that I enjoy the cheer and good tidings people wish for each other, and Christmas at an independent retail store is always so pleasant (kudos, Zinnia and Book Shop).
But I've been very lucky to grow up with an awesome family who do Thanksgiving the correct way, i.e.
Parents tricking children into thinking pre-meal turkey was snakeskin so they wouldn't have to share
Clearing the table without being allowed to stack the dishes
Corn made by Grammie (I've tried corn made by others.  Not the same).
Violin sing-a-longs and dance-a-longs
Playing Alice's Restaurant Massacre 345634348867 times in one day
Paying respects to our dearly departed in my aunt's minivan
Watching Mary Poppins, Annie, or the Sound of Music, or all three
Day-after hike to Castle Craig, followed by either the movies or the mall (madhouses, both of them!)
To name a few...

Now that I'm engaged, I share Thanksgiving with other families as well.  This year, we're spending Thursday in Boston with B and his bro.  The three of us are cooking what WE want to eat (roast beef and macaroni and cheese, please!)  Beforehand, B and I are seeing the new Muppet movie.  Love traditions.
So clearly, I have a lot to be thankful for.
B's brother, who is now my brother
My fab friends, local and not-so-local
A sister who is almost as enthusiastic about my wedding as I am
A job with co-workers who make me laugh on an hourly basis
The Hunger Games Trilogy
The Muppets, and Jason Segal for their comeback
Rain boots
Orange juice
Green tea (new discovery)
Florence & the Machine
My future parents-in-law.  I'm serious, so many people complain about their in-laws, but I have great ones.
My own parents, and their support
The blogosphere, giving me an outlet to test my writing skills
Toenail polish
Joseph's Bakery in Southie
Our beach
Being on the third floor with skylights so we can really hear the rain
Close-knit families
Instant Oatmeal Packets
The ability to read
Hershey's Peppermint White Chocolate Kisses

I could keep going, but I just would end up listing everything I really enjoy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coffee Snob

I love our new neighborhood, and some of the adorbs new places we have tried so far.

One place in particular has made me a huge coffee snob.  On the days I buy coffee there, if I need another cup later its just not the same.  Java House doesn't have its own web site, but I've linked to the Yelp! page.

Now, I do need to divulge that all I've had here is the coffee, and one muffin.  And I accidentally grabbed a chocolate chipper instead of blueberry, so I didn't thoroughly enjoy it.  (This girl loves chocolate, but not as a breakfast food, and I feel like the breakfast bar industry is trying to overwhelm us with chocolate.  But that is a different blog post.)
What is so wonderful about Java House coffee?  The flavors.  These aren't flavor syrups that make coffee way too sweet.  The beans are roasted with the syrup, so you get a much more subtle flavor.

I love the Snickerdoodle, Thin Mint, and German Chocolate flavors for hot coffee.  Just discovered Thin Mint this morning and was over the moon when I tasted it.
For iced, the Milky Way and Mocha Vanilla ones are awesome, as well as the above Snickerdoodle and German Chocolate.

One warning - they do not take cards, so make sure to bring cash, or use their ATM (with the lowest fee I've seen in Boston, $1.95!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

You really do get what you pay for

Autumn is out in full force in Boston (in spite of Monday's predicted high of 68 degrees).  I realize that while I loathed November growing up, I adore it in Boston.  The leaves still haven't all changed or peaked, so we get gorgeous scenery.  I'm still enjoying the fact that I wear pants and sweaters.  Blue skies juxtaposed with cooler temps make me smile.

However, fall and winter bring tights.  And we all know how I handle tights (see old rant here).

Until now.
I have realized that with tights, you get what you pay for.  The old tights, the ones that run as soon as I look at them the wrong way, were cheap and from CVS.  I think I spend more money at CVS than I do on food, which is saying a lot.  The first thing I did in my adult life was get myself a CVS card, and it has come to be quite useful.  Just not for tight purchases.

My lovely co-worker mentioned last week that Lord and Taylor was having a tight sale.  On Saturday, before the really cold rain hit, I ran over there to see if anything was left.

I got one pair of patterned tights that I have yet to wear, although I've had good luck with patterned tights, so fingers crossed.

Plain black tights, clearly, were not on sale.  But I bit the bullet and picked up a pair of Ellen Tracy opaque black tights for $14 (not exactly bank-breaking, but not chump change either).  I put them on for an event today and I can tell they're really good quality.  Soft, pliable, and ready for heavy wear.

Which is good.  I'm going to need them more and more!