Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015

It seems like my Grinch-like mood last night allowed me to completely gloss over what an amazing Christmas I had this year.

And for that, I feel ashamed.

Because it was such an incredible few days.

On December 23—Christmas Eve Eve—Adam and I continued our tradition of having our own little Christmas celebration.

Since Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are packed with family events and activities, we like to set aside time to exchange our gifts to each other, cook a cozy supper, concoct festive drinks, and watch our favorite holiday movies.

While I loved all of the special items Adam chose for me, the gift that made cry was a framed print of my favorite Norman Rockwell painting.

We enjoyed duck, potatoes au gratin, and broccoli for dinner and drank Peppermint White Russians (I pretty quickly switched to wine!) while watching Home Alone 2 and holiday episodes of our favorite shows.

I didn't ever want the night to end.

On Christmas Eve, we ran a bunch of last-minute errands before going to evening mass with my family followed by our "Feast," which is a smorgasbord of appetizers and desserts.

We played LCR, opened presents, watched Elf, and ate entirely too much. My parents had their driveway all lined with luminaries and with their life-size nativity out front...well, it was just magical.

My older brother even bought me CHAMPAGNE GUMMY BEARS!

I mean, crazy awesome, right?

I also received a really special gift from my parents—a handmade nativity. The details are just extraordinary. I wanted to sit there looking at it all evening long! I only wish I didn't have to wait an entire year to display it.

Christmas morning was spent with Adam's family. His mom always makes the most wonderful quiche! We sipped on coffee and opened presents in the den, laughing and joking all the while. It was so cozy.

Around 3:30, I jetted off to my grandparents' house (which is a whole hour's drive!) and enjoyed Christmas dinner with my dad's side of the family.

We then all retreated to the basement, where my grandma lays out a whole spread of cookies she's prepared as well as piping hot wassail. My grandma always spoils me with the most perfect presents. This year, she bought me a gorgeous coat from Modcloth. It just needs to stop raining so I can actually wear it!

The only bummer about this Christmas was that I felt quite crummy.

I had a terrible cold and by Christmas night, my throat was throbbing and I had a small fever.

But even terrible colds can't hurt the mood on Christmas!

Because it really is the happiest time of the year.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Post-Christmas Slump

Confession: I've been feeling a bit glum the past few days.
My birthday is over. Christmas is over.

The holiday lights will soon come down. I'll need to file away my lovely birthday cards. Music stations have already replaced Christmas tunes with their "80s, 90s and Today" lineups. That excited, festive spirit begins to vanish. Our beautiful tree will lose its ornaments and be tossed to the curb...I mean, this is sad stuff!

Plus, the rich, delicious foods are gone. Yet the excess weight remains.

And even though I have plenty to look forward to in the next few weeks—New Year's Eve, an Italian cooking class at Sur La Table with Adam, a hair appointment, tickets to Kinky Boots—I can't help but feel a bit down.

Does anyone else go through a post-Christmas slump? How do you cope?

Please let me know if you have any advice for this Holiday Queen.

I'll be off setting the coffee maker timer for tomorrow morning and choosing an outfit for work. And probably be fluctuating between feelings of anxiety, sadness, and plumpness.

I should really add the gym to that above list of upcoming activities.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My credit card number was stolen. How junky is that?


After all of my online shopping, I'm finally a victim of credit card fraud.
Saturday afternoon, I pulled up my email to check on Adam and my hotel reservation for the night. We were at an out-of-town wedding for a very good friend of mine, and I wanted to check on the address of where we'd be staying that evening.

Except do you know what was in my inbox?

An email from my credit card company alerting me about a charge that I had not made.

Panic! Panic! Panic!

"Are you okay?" Adam asked me, as my eyes grew big and the color from my face vanished over the $600+ transaction.

"Not okay," I whispered back. "My card has been compromised."

"Ugh, I'm sorry," he replied sympathetically. "We still have twenty minutes until the start of mass. Why don't you try calling real fast?"

I hurriedly made my way outside and fumbled around with my phone. My hands were shaking, and I couldn't even think straight because I was so frazzled.

After approximately five to seven minutes of bumbling around, I came back into the church and conceded to handle the matter after the marriage ceremony.

I was much too distracted and anxious! Was the crook charging Louboutins to my account? A Burberry trench? A car?

Gah! My friend was about to get married!

My mind swirled and whirled.


Following the absolutely beautiful ceremony (my friend was such a bombshell, and the mass made me ugly cry more than once), I was able to get ahold of the company and talk to a representative.

She was sympathetic and also made me feel better knowing that this sort of thing happens quite a lot. It was the perfect mixture of "Poor you!" and "You're not alone in this!"

I wanted to be simultaneously pitied and assured I hadn't been singled out in some terrible way.

We froze my account, and I ordered a new card.

The worst part though was that I couldn't dispute the charge until it had actually been applied to my account since it was off hanging out in Pending Land.

So, of course, I watched that charge like a hawk for two straight days, waiting for the moment I could call up the company once more and get everything sorted out.

That moment came tonight, and guess who I got to speak to?

The Fraudulent Charge Investigation Team!

Isn't that wonderfully dramatic?

The team member asked me all sorts of questions.

"Do you suspect anyone of using your card?"


"Are you sure?"

God, was I sure? He was making me nervous.

"Yes, I am sure."

Especially since the charge had been made thousands of miles away, and none of my acquaintances had visited the west coast over the weekend.

After a very thorough examination, he concluded I had indeed been a victim of online fraud and vowed to get on my case.


My advice for all credit card users out there?

Sign up for fraudulent alerts from your credit card company. I was able to stop my credit card crook immediately because of the alerts I had signed up for, and I'm glad I didn't discover what was happening weeks after the fraudulent activity.

Now that would have been especially junky.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dealing with Anxiety

I am a worrier.

I spend entirely too much of my time worrying about the following:
  • Did I lock my front door?
  • I used the oven last night. Did I ever turn it off?
  • Oh my God. I can't believe I just said that! Will so-and-so be offended/think I'm weird/etc?
  • I think I'm having chest pains. Am I having a heart attack?
  • I'm not saving enough money. My account should be bigger by now.
  • Etc
Sometimes, my worries get so big and overwhelming, they turn into full-blown anxiety attacks. 

Anxiety attacks are scary, whether they are of the physical variety (heart racing, sweaty palms, nausea) or psychological (mind whirling, unable to sleep).


Wednesday morning, I woke up at 4am with an anxious attack.

I curled up in bed and tried to think of the happiest thoughts I could. I took deep breaths. I told myself  I would be okay.

But anxiety doesn't like to be reasoned with. It's rude that way.

So instead, I got up for the day and got to my desk super early for work.

As the day continued on, I wasn't feeling so well. 

That night, I was supposed to go to a weekly class.

I texted my friend and told her what happened and that I wasn't feeling well. She completely understood.

So instead? I decided to take it easy and have the most calming night I could.

I got home from work and immediately went to lie down in the dark bedroom. The dogs curled up beside me, and I was able to finally turn my mind off and close my eyes.

I warmed up some chili for dinner and then took Gus Bear on a short walk and admired the Christmas lights.

Instead of turning on Netflix when I arrived home, I plugged the lights in on the tree, poured myself a glass of wine, and cozied up with a good book.

It was even a Christmas book!

How merry and bright is that?

The dogs even got in on the relaxation efforts and cuddled up beside me.

Adam called from his business trip, and we talked for a while, too. We said how much we missed each other and talked about our days.

By the time I was crawling into bed, I felt happy, calm, and light.

It's amazing how much good a relaxing night in can do when you have the simple luxury of turning your whirling mind off to outside distractions and stresses.

So take that anxiety. 

You're tough, but I am so much tougher. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

One Spectacular Sunday

As much as I love lazy Sundays, today was just about the exact opposite of that! In a great way!

10:15am: My mum picks me up curbside from my apartment.

10:17am: My mum reveals that she's brought along a St. Nick's stocking for me. Isn't that amazing? Still getting a stocking from your parents at age 25? And look at what was all inside! From a Starbucks gift card to a bottle of champagne, I was beyond merry and bright.

10:30am: We attend mass downtown. The advent wreath always makes me so happy, and we had a nice sermon today.

11:30am: Time for brunch! I order this sassy grits, eggs, and pork loin dish. It was definitely eclectic, but I eat just about every last bit.

12:30pm: We continue to sip on our coffee and black tea respectively.

12:40pm: We took a stroll through a contemporary arts museum. We both pretended to understand and appreciate the works of art, but they were all a bit too edgy and over our heads. We nodded politely/intelligently beside each as if this was not the case.

1:00pm: Time for White Christmas at the Aronoff!
2:30pm: Whoa that was a long first act. And was this really the plot line? We expected more.

3:30pm: The play has ended with a jazzy Christmas number and fake snow falling from the ceiling. The sort-of boring plot line seems suddenly worth it. Plus, the choreography and costumes were just beautiful.

3:45pm: We saunter around the Christmas Market on Cincinnati's Fountain Square. There are only beer, hot cocoa, and sausage booths in addition to dream catchers and incense for sale. We are disappointed.

4:00pm: I arrive home. I eat some cheese. I vacuum. I eat some chocolate.

4:30pm: I stop eating random items and head to Adam's.

5:30pm: We celebrate Adam's grandpa's 94th birthday with a nice dinner of scallops and stuffed mushrooms. The food is delicious, and we spend lots of time laughing about weird things Adam did as a child.

7:30pm: We leave dinner and decide to drive around the nearby neighborhoods, admiring all of the holiday displays and lights.

8:00pm: Adam drives us through a DRIVE-THRU NATIVITY (!!!) in the neighborhood he grew up in. We see donkeys, a camel, sheep, and children dressed up as biblical characters. It's kind of amazing.

8:30pm: We stop at R.E.I. so we can exchange the purple jacket Adam bought me for a bigger size. My new jacket is soft and cozy. I am happy.

9:00pm: We arrive home. I do some editing work and eat Reese's Pieces.

10:43pm: We turn on Bill Murray's Christmas special on Netflix.


Busy Sunday, right?

Here is wishing everyone a happy, productive, and wonderful week!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas Cards

For me, one of the most magical parts of the holiday season is receiving Christmas cards.

I can remember eagerly running out to the mailbox each December afternoon when I was little and hunting through the various catalogues, small parcels, and envelopes, so hoping for a Christmas card or two.

My favorites were the cards that featured illustrations of cozy towns or funny reindeer. I loved it when a family friend or relative would include photos or an annual letter of sorts. I would read every word of my dad's boss' family update with immense interest or look at baby photos of my mom's childhood friend's children and awe over how cute they were.

Holiday cards always feel so warm and personal.

This year, I am sending out my very own Christmas cards.

Which makes me feel like quite the adult!

When we were in Harbor Springs, Michigan this past August, I found a set of cards that I just loved and had to purchase. Look at that big yellow moon! And the snow!

My favorite part of these cards though is the Irish blessing: May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.

I also went out and bought a second set at TJ Maxx. These ones are not nearly as quaint, but I do love the glitter and pastels!

I'm also including this photo in each from the photoshoot my friend Meg did with Clementine and me this past fall.

I bought a neat Christmas card/ornament chandelier from Crate and Barrel at the end of last season, so I cannot wait until I receive my first card and can put it to use!
Happy writing and reading! :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

17 Hours without an iPhone

Last night, I was enjoying my evening bath when my mum called.

The two of us spent about fifteen minutes catching up on our days and talking about:

  • Her quest for another set of the same curtains she had purchased six years ago ("Futile," I told her)
  • How my little brother had somehow received a good grade on his most recent school paper
  • Bejeweled jean jackets 

We said our goodbyes and love yous, and I reached over to set my phone on the edge of the Jacuzzi tub.

Except it slipped out of my hands.

And plunged into the water!

I must admit, my first instinct was not panic.

After all, I had hibiscus tea in my system, and I was sitting in a warm bath full of bubbles.

Instead, I felt very blasé, simply retrieving my drenched iPhone off the tub floor, drying it with a towel, and then burying it in a bag of basmati.

About fifteen minutes later though, panic set it.

I can't afford a new iPhone right now! If this phone doesn't survive, I'm doomed!

Either way, for the next seventeen hours—for better or for worse—I was to be without a phone.

The following are my observations.

My evening was much more productive. Obviously.

I was able to actually focus and enjoy the things I was doing. Instead of posting an Instagram photo of the cute teapot my grandma recently bought me, I savored the warm tea (and did so without constant interruptions of checking how many "likes" I was receiving). 
Photo I would have taken and posted last night, had I had access to a phone.
I actually paid attention during an entire TV show. 

I missed talking to Adam before bedtime.

I liked not staring at a screen while scrolling through Facebook and Instagram right before bed.

I was very scared going to sleep last night knowing I wouldn't be able to call anyone if there was an emergency.

The good news is, when I excavated my iPhone from the basmati this afternoon, it was mostly functional.

My home button is broken, but I can live with that.

Lessons learned?

Turn my phone off occasionally and enjoy the moment.

And do not ever bring an electronic into the Jacuzzi tub again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It's December, and I'm back to blogging!

Today is the first day of my favorite month of the year.

So it seems like a nice time to jump back into my blogging routine.

Here's what's been happening in my life lately...

Adam and I went to Corsi Tree Farm last Friday, and I got to chop down my first Christmas tree!* It was an absolutely magical day. The weather was mild for late November, but the overcast sky gave a proper Christmassy feel. We picked out the most perfect tree, a wide one which we've lovingly named "Bertha."

*Adam actually chopped it down. And drug it to the netting station. And then secured it in the truck bed. And then pruned it once we got home.

I received really nice, positive feedback from a literary agent regarding my first novel. Writing to literary agents can be a disheartening experience, so the advice and kind words she passed along were so much appreciated. She also gave the encouragement I needed to get excited again about the second novel I'm working on.
I've been writing to the scent of Fresh Balsam. And the sight of my hot boyfriend.
I'm trying to figure out a better routine. This week, I'm going to try getting to work by 7am, come home for a bit to play with Clem in the early evening, and then go to the gym a bit later. My gym is at work (which is wonderful), but sometimes, I just want a little break from the building. I think coming home for an hour or so between might help. We'll see. Either way, my bottom is growing, and it must be stopped.

I'm dreaming of these rain boots on my Christmas list.

A la the lovely Kate Spade
I bought a CD for the first time in years. Adele, of course.

I've been rocking my glasses and enjoying a headache-free, much less exhausted existence.

I'm reading my first Elin Hilderbrand novel, Winter Street, and can see what all of the hype is about! It's been such a cozy read and perfect for the holiday season. Note: I also just discovered from Googling for a cover image that it's a trilogy? Hurrah!

I hope everyone's December is off to a merry start! :)