Archives for December 2011

2011 in Review

Places I Went:
Chicago again
San Francisco
New York City
Dallas again

Favorite Books I Read:
Unsaid – Neil Abramson
The Kitchen Daughter – Jael McHenry
We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan
This Is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper

Major Accomplishments:
New job
Walked 39.3 miles to kick breast cancer in the bootay
Several airplane trips without actually hyperventilating

Favorite Photograph of the Year:
Is actually a series of photographs and not THE favorite, but A favorite.
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Favorite Thing that Became an Unfavorite Thing:
Adele, there is not a single doubt in my mind of how talented you are – because dang, girl you can sing. But the radio killed a very good thing. There is only so many times you can hear “Rolling in the Deep” before you start cringing at the opening notes of the song and flipping the volume off or changing the station altogether when the song comes on. It’s not just you, sweetpea, radio has a tendency to destroy my love for most music that happens to get radio airtime. It ain’t good.

And just in general…
With every moment of difficulty, every second I spent in 2011 trying to just catch my breath, so much good was in this year, that I have to remind myself, lest I focus only on the negative and lose all of what brought me joy. This is the year that my sister’s struggle with infertility came to an end – she and my brother in law conceived my niece through IVF – cannot wait to meet her in the new year. This is the year I traveled more than I had in a long time. I love travel. I love to be with friends. I love exploring new places. This was good. This was the year that my travel brought me together with far flung friends. One of the greatest things about blogging is the network of friends I have made – but the downside is that so many of them are not in my neck of the woods — and in 2011, I enjoyed getting to connect with them – in Nashville, Dallas, Chicago, wherever. It was nice. (Gah. “Nice”. What a lame word.)

I’m not good at recaps
But that’s okay.

If I never hear Katy Perry’s “Firework” again, it will be too soon. 2011 was the year that brought on that ridiculousness.

I am the queen of cheesecake.

I don’t seem to be getting tired of Ryan Gosling memes yet.

I still haven’t taken the Christmas tree down.

I don’t know what 2012 has in store for me but I have to believe it’s good
And if it’s not, I’ll get through the year like I did this year – finding enough joy in the little moments to sustain me through the tough times.

Life goes on. You know?

Thursday Ten: Another Year Is Almost Gone edition

1. This is the last Thursday Ten post of 2011 – and either you’re really excited (WHOO! I DON’T HAVE TO READ ANOTHER ONE OF THESE UNTIL NEXT YEAR!) or you’re sad and mourning the passage of time and are grateful that with my weekly Ten lists, I made the time seem like it was flying and how, HOW WILL YOU EVER REPAY YOUR DEBT TO ME (I’d like a new car, please).

2. To celebrate the end of 2011, I’ve done what millions of other people have done before me: I got a cold. Today, I’ve got cold medicine on board – but there’s definite tradeoffs. While I definitely feel less like my head is a stuffed up mess, my brain on cold medicine is not what you would call…functional. Oh well.

3. As a treat for myself, I bought myself some nice shampoo and conditioner. I had been using some great stuff from Avon that I received to review (and I love it), but I wanted a break because I have missed the smell of Aveda Shampure. I stopped at a salon on my way home yesterday and picked some up. Right now, I am sniffing my hair while typing this post (something I could not do successfully without cold medicine, I might add).

4. In fun news, I’m working on a playlist to try to define, musically, what my year looked like. Not as easy as you’d think – also, trying to not include anything by Ke$ha (what was 2011 without Ke$ha – uh. Kidding. Kind of). Not all the songs will be from this year – some just define the moments, and some are songs I was drawn to over the course of the past twelve months. What songs would be on YOUR 2011 playlist?

5. Day after Christmas, half off candy canes. I won’t tell you how many boxes of candy canes I bought (a lot), but I’m so glad I bought them. Yummy minty goodness.

6. In an effort to be “more healthy”, I have decided to drink more water (hydration!) and more green tea (metabolism boosting!) and less Coke Zero (all the evil things that taste so yummy!). I’m wondering how long does it take for my metabolism to speed up and JUST HOW MUCH TEA I HAVE TO DRINK TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

7. The days are getting longer. I look forward to when it’s light when I drive to work and light when I drive home. That will be nice. There are so many ways that winter is awful, but the darkness – the stupid darkness – is one of the biggest.

8. I wore leggings today. This was only my second time venturing out in public in them. I am tremendously comfortable and not nearly as aware of my thighs as I thought I’d be.

9. Do you go into a new year with a word or a theme? I decided my word for 2011 was “HOPE” and I have yet to decide what my word will be for 2012. I don’t make resolutions – but I’ll pick a word. Seems a little less daunting.

10. Seems like this post needs a photo. Here’s Chicago. I LOVE Chicago. One of my favorite cities on the planet. Definitely in my top 3.
Wandering around Chicago in the morning

The Christmas Letter I Didn’t Send

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Dear Friends,

I don’t send Christmas letters – and I didn’t send cards again this year – second year in a row. The thing with Christmas letters is that either your year was really phenomenal – you did all these amazing great things and I will be beside myself with jealousy at the places you went and the cool things you did… or (and this is the more likely of the two), I will wonder why on earth you wrote a Christmas letter to tell me that you had a head cold for three weeks in October (bonus points if you mention phlegm) and that your Uncle Chip who lives in Tallahassee bought a puggle and Chip can’t seem to figure out how to housetrain his dog. No one really needs to know that but it’s one of those letters that is seemingly written out of some bizarre sense of obligation – you have to write something but you have nothing to say so you say anything (fortunately, I only got one letter like that this year).



I didn’t send a Christmas letter to you (or you. Or you. Or you), but if I had, it would say that whether you celebrate Christmas or not, no matter what this time of year means to you I hope that you have days full of joy and smiles. I hope you are able to be with friends and family.

I am surrounded by a lot of really special people in my life – both near and far – and I am lucky. And those who are far away are brought nearer via technology and I love that too. I have good friends – and when things are difficult, and when I struggle, I know I have people I can lean on. That’s a blessing to me.

If you’re one of those people to me, thank you so much for being there, for being a light in my life – and know that on Christmas – and any other day of the year – you mean the world to me.

Wishing you a holiday full of love,


Thursday Ten: Oh? I Have a Blog? edition

1.  So, yeah, I haven’t been here in awhile and there’s been no new content for awhile and while I don’t think anyone noticed, if you did notice, I’m so sorry. Also, I realize that “notice” and “care” do not mean the same thing. So, I’ll pretend that yes, if you noticed, you also cared and mourned the lack of new content in this space. Whatever, it’s my blog. I can do that.

2. Well, where were you Sarah? I’m glad you asked. I was in Dallas for the second time this year – this time to photograph the wedding of my dear sweet friend. What an amazing honor to be asked to capture her special day. I am elbow deep in editing pictures – that’s definitely a time consuming part of the process – but it’s fun to re-live the day every time I open up Lightroom on my laptop!

3. Another trip means another series of plane adventures. Smooth flying and not at all worth the worrying I did before hand (Don’t you dare remind me that next time I am freaking out about travel). I still don’t love air travel – but you can’t beat the convenience, and how else am I going to get this view of Chicago?
in the air

4. Looks like we’re going to be having a green Christmas in Michigan this year. Ask me if I’m heartbroken (NO!).

5. Really looking forward to seeing the US adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. I read the trilogy, but the Swedish version of the movie was too intense for me. I’m already loving the Trent Reznor soundtrack – so I hope the movie is good as well. I don’t have a thing for Daniel Craig, so that aspect doesn’t really appeal to me. Should be interesting, anyway.

6. I wonder if there’s been studies done on how songs get stuck in one’s head. Today, I’ve been hearing that weird song from the grinch movie (If substituted all the made up words to “Dara Torres, Dara Torres, Welcome Christmas, come this way…”).

7. Are you done holiday shopping or are you the last minute sort? I think I’m done. We’ll see – midday tomorrow, I’ll probably come up with something I have to buy. Hope not. I’m so over shopping.

8. The shopping may be done but I have yet to start baking. On my agenda this year – a salted caramel cheesecake and as per my tradition, monkey bread for Christmas morning breakfast. What will you be baking this year?

9. And once the holidays end, I will kick into high gear of planning my sister’s baby shower. Cannot believe my niece is going to make her debut in our world in just a few months. Having so much fun celebrating her already and she’s not even born (and you know, her middle name will be Sarah. How much do I LOVE that?).

10. In case I don’t manage to blog again until next week (I’d like to say that won’t happen, but, I can’t!), I hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas, or Channukah or whatever you celebrate. Wishing you the best this holiday season. Lots of love, light and candy canes.

Thursday Ten: WHOA, DECEMBER. SLOW DOWN edition

1. You’d think that things in December would slow down, life would mellow out and we could all dial it back a little and just chill out and eat Christmas cookies and maybe sing a few carols while sitting next to the Christmas tree doing ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY NOTHING. Yeah. No go.

2. Every year around this time people start talking about holiday movie classics – and I guarantee, I haven’t seen most of them. “Love, Actually”? Nope. “Elf”? Never. “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Not even that gem. I’m just a dork that way. Maybe I should make it a point to see at least one of them this year. What’s your favorite?

3. Tomorrow I bake cookies like a mad woman to prepare for our annual cookie decorating party. Every year I forget what a gigantic pain rolled cookies are, but it’s worth it when the kids have so much fun decorating cookies with their friends.

4. Lot of people talking about and thinking about John Lennon today. I’m no different.
Central Park

5. Usually I am SO MUCH FURTHER along on holiday shopping than I am this year. Not even close to done. And I keep forgetting to send my dad’s gift to California (though, he always opens it early, so maybe it’s good that I wait). Was hoping to be done by next week – not sure if that’s going to happen.

6. I started reading Chris Bohjalian’s new book and had to put it down because a plane crash was a central theme and I have to get on a plane next week. I know the statistics are in my favor but that was just too much creepy too close to airplane time.

7. While holiday shopping I bought some of Sephora’s “Naughty Is The New Nice” nail polish – a gorgeous, glittery icy-silver-blue polish. Well, that gorgeous polish DOES NOT WANT TO COME OFF. I’ve tried a few different times with nail polish remover and now I’m on to that age old remedy of picking it off with my fingernails. My nails really look like hell.

8. New music is old music – I reloading the soundtrack to “Waiting To Exhale” into my iTunes. In college, there was a period where I fell asleep to that album every night… and instantly when I put it on last night, thirty seconds into track one my eyelids got heavy. Old habits.

9. I really miss having time for photography. The past few pictures of the day have been hastily snapped during lunch hour – and I have only been mildly okay with the things I’ve shot. I miss the time I could spend on it. I still carry my camera bag often – because you never know. But, yeah… it stinks.

10. I have not wrapped a single Christmas present. I don’t want to. That’s the least fun part. Three rolls of wrapping paper in the office and a tree with nothing under it says maybe I should get moving soon. Bleh.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Woman Who Won’t Tell You What She Wants for Christmas

Do you know one of those women? You ask her what she wants for Christmas and she “doesn’t know”? It’s pretty common. I am not one who likes to give a long detailed list of what I would like (my mother, on the other hand, is quite specific and in fact makes sure to give her list to both my sister AND me to make sure her bases are covered).

So, here’s some help shopping for the difficult woman in your life. DISCLAIMER: This only works if she is somewhat like me or shares my interests. I’m a strange bird, and what floats my boat might not float hers. DISCLAIMER PART TWO: These things are all just random things I’ve found. No PR company has given me any kickbacks to tell you nice things about them. They are just things I find pretty cool. (Note to PR companies: If you would like to give me any kickbacks for saying any of the nice things I have already said about the items listed below, I’m not opposed to that).

Macro Cell Lens Band at the Photojojo Store!

Is she a camera nerd? Rarely spotted without her iPhone? HEY! ME TOO! This macro cell lens thingamabobber from PhotoJojo looks crazy cool… and it’s only $15. That means if you need a fun stocking stuffer, this would be a great thing. Or, if you’re not out to spend a bunch of dinero, just want to give a cool gift, you can do it without breaking the bank. (Okay fine, this list isn’t gender specific. I bet lots of guys would dig this also)

The Lens Cap Strap Holder at the Photojojo Store!

Since we’re already hanging out on Photojojo, and we’re talking about camera nerds… Does she ever lose her lens caps? HEY! ME TOO! Spare her the agony of crawling around looking for a lens cap after a shoot and pick up one of these things for her.

My friend Lisa is an AMAZING jewelry designer, and you can’t go wrong with any of her amazing jewelry pieces. She’s not accepting any custom orders, but that’s okay, because some of her standard stuff is pretty cool. Like these stacking rings – funky, stylish, sassy… yet classic. Her Etsy store has a lot of amazing finds.

Other Ideas…

Does she always run over her iPod earbuds with the vacuum cleaner or otherwise break them? Check out some headphones (I don’t have time to do the research for you – here are some noise cancelling headphones options).

Does she like to bake or cook? You probably can’t lose if you walk into Williams Sonoma, shut your eyes, spin around three times and point to something. Why? Everything in that store is really cool and makes you feel like you are capable of making edible things.

Does she love to read? Try to find a book for her. It’s scary, yes – because buying a book for someone is kind of a personal thing. My dad gives me a book every year and almost every year it’s a total dud. But… if you know her and know of other books she likes, you may be able to find books that are similar. If you dare. [Note: If you need book recommendations, really, I’m happy to help y’all out – leave a comment and I’ll see if I can suggest something]

Or the best idea yet…

Surprise her. You know her, otherwise you wouldn’t be buying her a gift, right? What does she enjoy? What are her hobbies? What does she love to do? If you don’t have any idea (and you should, right?), have you tried asking a friend of hers, a family member, the woman who works at the store she goes to frequently? A well-thought out surprise gift centered around the things she enjoys (whether her hobbies are knitting and underwater basket-weaving or training carrier pigeons or WHATEVER) will go a LONG way. Trust me.

Happy shopping.

Thursday Ten: Toast and Butter edition

1. I really love carbs – and as I type, I’m enjoying a slice of sourdough bread covered with melty butter and really I think if there was ever a reason when I would have to not eat carbs anymore I would be so sad and life would NOT BE THE SAME.

2. I had a migraine on Monday that knocked me flat on my butt.  Between the aching pain of the headache and the queasiness, I was miserable. I used to get migraines a lot more frequently and Monday was a reminder of how lucky I am that I am not a chronic migraine-sufferer. UGH. No fun.

3. The past few days I have not used my dSLR at ALL. It’s weird. Even my pictures of the day have been with either my iPhone or my point and shoot. It’s weird – they say the best camera is the one you have with you – and that’s true – I’d rather have my iPhone camera than none, but I miss shooting like I’m TRYING.

4. After some initial adjustment and glitchiness, I think I really am starting to like Lightroom. Witness below, a portrait of a blogger playing with some overdone Lightroom preset.
A girl, her camera, and some whacked out Lightroom preset.

5. What’s been keeping me amused this week? The latest from the guys behind the “Whole Foods Parking Lot” video. “Yoga Girl” is just as funny – even if you are like me and aren’t really a yoga person.

6. Go see The Muppets. Go. Go see it. I know, it’s expensive to go to the movies, and the kids will probably want popcorn and stuff and it will cost roughly the same as a month’s mortgage payment… but it’s adorable.

7. Tis the season for my email inbox to be filled with daily emails from the same online retailers trying to get me to buy stuff. SO MUCH JUNK MAIL. It’s crazy-making. Same companies, every day. I just delete them all. I don’t even read them anymore. Wonder how many good sales I’m missing?

8. Go Blue! Michigan beat Ohio State last weekend which was a long time coming. That was a very close game and I’m glad they finally won (also big congrats to Michigan’s coach, who was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year! Awesome!).

9. Okay, admittedly, I started writing this post hours ago. When I indeed had toast and butter. Now, I have a lukewarm Coke Zero and a bag of beef jerky and I WISH I had another slice of toast. I estimated yesterday that probably 95% of what I write/tweet/talk about is food. I haven’t officially checked that – but I can’t be far off.

10. Tis the season…for people to drive me crazy. There’s probably another post brewing – but I received an email last night from one of the classroom moms of a kiddo in The Princess’s class. Even hours after I clicked delete on the sucker, it still irks me. I don’t much care for the Mom Olympics – and this rallying to be the BEST PARENT EVER by coordinating the teacher’s holiday gift (despite receiving three SEPARATE letters from the school and teacher with specific requests of what to get – none of which this parent is adhering to). You know what? You probably don’t get a prize for kissing the teacher’s butt. And if you do, I don’t want it anyway.