Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wish List

Dear Santa, I've been awfully good this year.  I eat up all my veggies, I'm kind to animals (and my fiance!)  I'm always respectful in my work-related emails, even to disgruntled people.  And I work two jobs, so you know I'm responsible.  So here is (part of) my list...

The aptly named Audrey dress by Boden.  On sale at a whopping $188, but I'm sure your elves could make a knockoff for less.
I've waxed poetic about my love of Miss Kaling in a previous entry, but I'd love to get my lil' hands on this book.

Alex & Ani are some fab jewelry designers.  I'm still on a Zinnia/Forever 21/H&M jewelry budget, unless there's something special (and even then, I use my discount at Zinnia).  But when I have more cash, or the next time B asks me about what I want for a gift, Alex & Ani make everything I want in a good bangle.
For stocking stuffers, I always love some good quality candy.  These things are currently my crack cocaine.  I've tried to limit myself to 3 per day.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.
Seriously.  Don't even tell me that those red stripes are not enticing.  I'm not normally a white chocolate fan, but this is my one exception.  AND B doesn't like them at all, so I get the whoooooole bag to myself.

So, I already own this, but.... if you're looking for a good CD to give to a female, try Florence & the Machine's newest release, Ceremonials.  I freaking love Florence, she is just empowering and airy and haunting at the same time.  If there is anyone on your Christmas list who likes good music, get them this CD.

I SO want these for my birthday (Feb. 18 for anyone who wonders). Tom's makes these great shoes that I always like on other people, but wonder what they'd really be like on yours truly.  They're a little too hipster for me.  Until now.  Coming in Spring 2012, Tom's is debuting a line of ballet flats.  Which works for me, because I practically live in ballet flats (and flippie-flops.)  My eye is drawn to the pale pink, but I could easily see myself in the bright blue, or black with off-white toe.

And last, but most certainly not least - the Harry Potter Box DVD Set.  Films 1-8.  Expensive, but so worth it.  If someone has the foresight to gift this to me, I might take a mental health day this winter and watch every.single.one.  And the deleted scenes.  And the directors' commentary.  Thank goodness the Hunger Games trilogy is only 3, because once those films are all out I'll be asking for the same thing.

Happy Happy Holidays, friends! (If I don't get a chance to blog before then).  May your festive winter holiday of choice be filled with love and cheer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Girl's Guide to Walking in Boston - Winter Edition

A lot of people inquire about my intent to walk to work during the winter months.
"Of course you walk when its sunny and 75 out, but you can't possibly walk once the weather gets cold!"
Au contra ire, friends.  I absolutely intend to walk during the cold months, and have in the past.  Just as hardcore runners laugh in the face of cold temps, I, too, do not give up my love of the long walk to work.

My current jaunt is 4.06 miles at its shortest (75 minutes of cardio at my quick clip).
I will try to explain to my fair readers how to walk in the wintertime.  It is doable.  I should know, I didn't skip a day of walking across the Massachusetts Avenue bridge from Boston to Cambridge any day, regardless of snow, sleet, or wind last winter.  (I will admit that once in Cambridge, I cut through MIT buildings, but that is beside the point since the Mass Ave Bridge is probably the windiest point in the Greater Boston Area.)

1. Attire matters.
You need a good coat, people.  A good coat needs to be in a size larger than you would buy a shirt or a sweater, because a good coat is one that can be layered under.  I own an awesome Old Navy Parka (XL since they didn't have any larges) and a Guess wool button-up coat (L) for precisely that reason.  The Guess coat appears to fit well, but there is ample room for a fleece or hoodie.  The parka is for more extreme weather, like blizzards, and can fit a hoodie, fleece, and down vest.

2. Size matters
Not only in a size above, but the length of the coat.  A good coat covers the bum.  People say you lose 90% of body heat from a bare head?  Well, you lose the other 10% from your bum.  I don't know what it is about an uncovered butt, but it just makes you colder.  Plus, if you also invest in tall boots, a long coat leaves a mere 6-10 inch gap of uncovered leg.
If you can, find a coat with sleeves that cover your hands.  That way, when its too cold for bare hands, but too warm for mittens, you still keep your hands nice and toasty.

3. Uniqueness matters
Take it from a girl who was in a sorority.  Its really, really hard to find a black peacoat in a sea of black peacoats.  If you really like a common coat, add something like a ribbon or a pin to make sure it doesn't get mixed up at a coat check or a winter party.

4. Accessorize!
There are so many cute hats, scarves, and hand-warmers out there that are warm.  I recommend a good hat that has a double fleece lining in the ear-area.
Pashmina scarves offer generous warmth, and can be wrapped around the shoulders when you reach your destination.  Knit scarves are just as good at keeping out the cold.
I recommend lined mittens, rather than regular gloves, for hands.  Mittens keep the fingers together (except poor thumb, which can easily chill with the rest of the fingers if you don't need it for anything) and therefore warmer.  The best type are knit, then lined with fleece.

5. Carriers
Invest in a good bag that will stay on your shoulder.  Many bags require physical handling when faced with a puffy shoulder, and fall without hooking a hand around a strap.  I have a great shoulder-bag from H&M that I can strap across my chest, and it stays on.

6. Safety
When traipsing through the city, one must be wary of anything bigger than oneself - like cars and trucks and bikes and buses and other things that go.  And one does NOT want to be that darn dumb pedestrian who darts across the street willy-nilly, paying no mind to oncoming traffic.  Because that darn dumb pedestrian makes those in large vehicles dislike us in general.
- Be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure you look for oncoming traffic while crossing the street, and keep an eye out for sidewalk traffic as well.  If you're at an intersection with flashing lights rather than stop and go, be extra careful.  Cars are looking for gaps in traffic, not necessarily at people who want to cross the street.
- Its ok to dislike bikers who ride on busy sidewalks.  If they hit you, its THEIR fault.
- Try to give a 'thank you' wave to drivers who let you cross if they don't need to.  It keeps up the good walking karma.
- Similarly, you may give dirty looks to cars that speed across crosswalks as you wait to go.  They are, in fact, jerks, and deserve the evil eye.  If one decides to be funny and speed up as you cross, take note of their license plate and car make and model.  Even if police tell you they can't do anything, you will feel better if you report that sort of activity.

7. Helpful hints!
- Invest in earring backs for any wire/hook earrings.  Scarves and wind have a tendency to kidnap earrings.
- If you're in a hurry, keep to the outside of the sidewalk nearest the road.  One can easily dodge slower walkers by walking on the curb.
- Relax your shoulders.  The cold, for whatever reason, causes people to hunch up their shoulders, which can lead to discomfort.  If you remain aware of your shoulders, you're more likely to keep them relaxed and hunch-free.
- During snow storms or showers, don't bother to apply make-up (specifically mascara) until you reach your destination.  I speak from raccoon-eyed experience. 
- If you walk for fitness, like I do, its fun to keep the exercise going while waiting for the crossing sign - I do calf raises at intersections.  Sure, people think I'm a little nuts, but it works the muscles!

I was going to upload some walk-related photos, but the camera won't turn on and my battery charger is at home.  So y'all will just have to picture me in my little hat and long coat for now.

Happy Walking!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The klutz stands alone

I was super excited last night to have the apartment to myself.

Don't get me wrong.  There's nothing I like more than curling up next to B on the couch on a cold winter's night.  Especially a cold winter's Thursday night for all our favorite shows right in a row (Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, Its Always Sunny, and The League).  Honestly, I try not to make plans on Thursday nights, because I love the NBC comedies so much.  Can't wait until 30 Rock comes back!
Anyway, back on track.  I was going to use last night to catch up on some of the shows B doesn't like, i.e. Parenthood.  (Why is NBC so low in its ratings when I feel like all my favorite shows are on that one network?)

Then Mom called, and we started chatting, and I started cleaning, because I can't sit still when I talk on the phone, and rather than pace in the apartment back and forth I decided to be productive.  I was pledging the woodwork - dresser, windowsills, etc, and decided to get behind the TV, which is always super dusty because I don't always remember to pledge there.
So I'm chatting with Mom, the TV is on in the background, I'm in the back of the TV with the wires and cables I have no clue about, and then suddenly, the TV goes black.

That's right, folks.  I was dusting so violently, I knocked out not one, but TWO cables in back of the TV.  And those are some heavy-duty cables.  Obviously there are always more cable holes than cables, so I couldn't figure out where the darn things went.
B comes home at 10 after dude night at the new BBQ joint, and is mildly exasperated at my inability to dust without damaging anything.  Hey.  At least I dust!  If he gets to snort when I trip over my own two feet as a klutz, he can't judge when I knock out cables as a klutz.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The favorites

I've been listening to holiday music pretty much  nonstop all week at work (last week as well).  Today, instead of the usual Pandora Holiday Jazz or Bing Crosby stations, I created a grooveshark list with the top songs that I love to hear at Christmas time.

1. Silent Night, Simon and Garfunkle
A gorgeous rendition, with the reading of the seven o'clock news read in the background.  The juxtaposition of the depressing, violent news with a song of love and peace makes me tear up.

2. The Nutcracker Suite, Tchaikovsky
Thanks to a father with a very particular taste in music, I was exposed to classical at an early age.  I loved, loved, LOVED the Nutcracker ballet, and still do.  The music is so familiar, its like an old friend you see once a year. 

3. Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Bruce Springsteen
I sang a pretty cool version of this in high school choir (with lots of bops and doo-das) but Bruce's is by far better.  I love recordings of live concerts, and that's what this one is from.  The opening is the best, when he starts asking his band if they have been good little boys and girls this year, so Santa will bring them a new saxophone.

(yes, I did just need to spell check saxophone.  don't judge)
4. Frosty the Snowman, The Roches
I was likely the only 5-year-old in kindergarten who even knew the Roches, but they were my favorite band at the ripe old age of 5 and 6, and were second in my musical heart to only the original Broadway cast soundtrack of Cats.  The Roches hail from Park Ridge, NJ, and thus like to sing in a Jersey accent every so often, like in their version of Frosty.
5. All I Want for Christmas is You, Mariah Carey
I'm sorry, Dad.  You tried to bring me up right, with Bach and Beethoven regularly in my childhood vocabulary.  I'm sorry Mom, you tried to lead me down the path of classic rock.  And I still ended up loving a Mariah Carey song.  Its just so darn upbeat!  So darn catchy!  So darn heartfelt!  She's no sultry songstress, crooning to Santa Baby for sables and diamond rings and deeds to properties.  She just wants her love for Christmas.  And at the end of the day, isn't that what we all want?
There are more.  After all, I didn't even mention Bing or Burl, Frank or Dito.  Too many to name, really.  But this is a good start.

What are your favorites, friends?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crossed Signals

Several emails that our organization's president (i.e. my boss) has sent me have not come in - 12+ over the last 3 days.
Fortunately, this happened last week as well, so I was able to quickly say "No, I'm not a lazy bum, I just didn't get that email!"
After which time he read every email he sent me and we said yes I got it, no I didn't get it.  What a process.
And its all Comcast's fault.  Or Xfinitiy.  The cable/phone/interweb company with the identity crisis.
I am in for one busy afternoon!  Good thing I ate my oatmeal!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not to toot my own horn

I don't want to toot my own horn or anything (I mean, not a lot).

But this year I was financially secure enough to buy a really nice holiday gift for a stranger.
C, age 2, asked the Salvation Army Santa/Angel for books and puzzles. Well, C.  You must have been an awesomely well-behaved girl, because you're getting some pretty wonderful books:

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
 Brave Irene

Katy and the Big Snow

Rain Brings Frogs

Aaaand a lovely wooden puzzle with marine animals, that comes with a fishing rods and magnets on each piece so she can go FISHING.

I mean, if I were a small child, I'd really like my gift.
But can I just share how difficult it was to find the puzzle?  Because it was.  Three shops.  I mourn the passing of Curious George Bookstore in Harvard Square, because they would have had just the thing.  But after no luck at the Harvard Book Store AND The Games People Play, I had to suck it up and go to corporate America, aka the Coop, aka Barnes and Noble.  But that's ok, because the rest of my Christmas shopping was at local businesses.  Bam!

Hopefully this doesn't come off as too attention-seeking.  I'm just really excited.  Christmas shopping is that much more fun when you add gifts for kids.  So thank you, Colliers International (our landlord) for partnering with the Salvation Army's Angel Gift program.  And thank you, Cousin Jennifer, for having a son small enough to enjoy Richard Skerry!

Portable phones

I am the office receptionist.

Complicated telephone systems terrify me.
Fortunately, we don't use a complicated telephone system.  We have three lines.  No one has their own extension.  When someone calls for someone other than me, I put them on hold, get up, walk over to the called-for person's desk, and hand them a phone.

It means I get to get up and walk around a good deal.  I really enjoy this process.  I could shout to the people who are relatively close to my desk, but its nice to split up my sitting-at-computer-time with walking-with-a-cordless-handset time.