Christmas is a Feeling in Your Heart

I generally complain about how long the Christmas season is - I think most of us do. But doesn't it always seem like Christmas is here too soon? I never feel I have fully celebrated. I wish I had a full week for decking the halls, figgy pudding, and one-horse-open-sleigh rides.

I have, however, come up with some small, everyday (okay, somewhat kitschy) ways to celebrate that have become cherished traditions.

Gaudy Christmas Pins
Wear one on your winter coat. Pins with jingle bells or flashing lights get extra points.

Green and Red InkUsing green and red pens will feel particularly festive in cubicalville.

Nog in Coffee
Use egg nog, soy nog, whatever nog best suits you.

Holiday Music on Pandora

Christmas Socks
Again, jingle bells are a nice touch here (your coworkers will love them, I promise).

Merry Christmas!


Fake Empire

On my playlist these days: Fake Empire by The National. It was used in Obama's Signs of Hope & Change video sans lyrics - but I'm thinking it might have been chosen because of the lyrics. Hmm... (Good work Obama campaign.)
Stay out super late tonight
picking apples, making pies
put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Tiptoe through our shiny city
with our diamond slippers on
do our gay ballet on ice
bluebirds on our shoulders
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Turn the light out say goodnight
no thinking for a little while
let’s not try to figure out everything at once
It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire


"Is how we have been really how we want to be?"

Ailing economy a chance to teach kids something they'll have forever

I will definitely want to be reminded of this article when I am doing Christmas shopping for my own future children.


Things I Love About Life - Part I

Yes, they're called Crispy Hexagons. I would love to meet the marketing people who came up with the name.


Our New First Lady

I'm not sure I have ever in my life been more excited for the next four years. Is it okay that I adore everything about the Obamas? Or am I just setting myself up to be disappointed?

I ♥ this article - hopefully every member of the news media will read it. Well done, Vanity Fair.

Welcome to the White House, Mrs. Obama!
Given all the other things Mrs. Obama stands for, do we really need to critique every dress, hairstyle, and daily make up job as if she were some teenage contestant on America’s Next Top Model? She is smart, hard-working, dignified, well-intentioned—and human.
. . .
Let’s let our new First Lady be a fully dimensional grown-up woman, with strengths and weaknesses and idiosyncrasies and unconventional quirks and adult sexuality and cranky moods and even—oh, the horror!—opinions that sometimes diverge from those of her husband. We accept all those things in the women we know in everyday life, but it’s still a radical idea to stop imposing absurdly hypocritical, quasi-Victorian standards on our First Lady.


Vote Smart on November 4th

Of course we should all vote. It's part of the responsibility of being in a democratic society. But I would actually prefer that most people didn't.

We really don't want to elect someone like Rahn V. Workcuff accidentally. He's running for the Hennepin County Soil and Supervisor seat on an anti-gay marriage and affordable healthcare platform. I am definitely not joking.

Yes, I understand how fun it is to fill in all of the little boxes - but please use caution and try to do a little bit of research first.


Eezing My Misery

I get sick a lot. Why? We're not quite sure. But if you have a virus, I promise I will get it - despite having hand sanitizer on my desk at work, in my car, and in my purse - despite taking vitamin C tablets every day.

Echinacea seems to less my symptoms and I have sworn by it for years. But I recently found a new homeopathic treatment that has helped greatly with my three most recent colds. Usually I'm sick for a week, at least. Now I'm sick for three days - and not nearly as miserable.


The medical community has done trial after trial and they're still not convinced. But here's the real reason why I think it works:

"The significant reduction in the duration of common colds with zinc gluconate lozenges may be due to the subjects' belief that anything tasting as bad as zinc and with as much aftertaste as zinc must be good medicine" (Farr and Gwaltney, 1987).

Yes, this stuff is good medicine.



I was a teensy-bit cranky on the drive home today. And then Mr. Blue Honda decided to pull out in front of me on Plymouth Ave. Normally I would lay on the horn in such a situation but I noticed his bumper sticker.
Bad driving forgiven. Let's get it done.


Sarah Palin Makes Me Want to Vomit/I Adore Tina Fey

That's a bit harsh, I guess. Sarah Palin doesn't make me want to vomit. The idea of Sarah Palin as VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES makes me want to vomit. I mean, really. What is going on??

8 More Shocking Revelations About Sarah Palin


RNC Protests

There's a whole lot to read about the protests during the RNC and the unwarranted violence and force used by police - not to mention the many, many illegal arrests. Feel free to check any number of alternative media sites.

But I'm glad to see that even the mainstream media is acknowledging the injustice - the video below is from the Pioneer Press. I'm guessing it's only because so many of their journalists were arrested but that's okay, as long as it's acknowledged.

It all makes me a little sick, really. I understand there's a fine balance between security and honoring the first amendment (and basic human rights, for that matter) but I'd argue that we definitely missed it this past week. I'm disappointed in you, St. Paul.


Families, Love & Summertime

A weekend with my family in Minnesota's beautiful lake country helps to remind me what matters.

I don't need to - earn six figures/end global poverty/travel the world/be CEO - to be happy.

I'll be just fine with-

a yard and some flowers ... kids and then grandkids ... church every Sunday ... birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baptisms ... friends to grow old with ... someone I am in love with forever ...

and a summer day up north at the lake.

at a little wooden cabin
up in northern minnesota

we ran together down to the dock

and you jumped right off it

and from out in the water

you called me to join you

and i said baby i cannot swim

if i jump i’ll surely drown you

you said life has no limit

if you’re not afraid to get in it

and oh baby i jumped to you

since then there’s nothing i can’t do

i'm never gonna give you up
what do you got if you ain't got love

If You Ain't Got Love, Mason Jennings


I'm a large medium roast with soy milk and splenda.

Number of possible choices available to a customer at the average Starbucks:

"Starbucks is one of the most prominent cultural examples of providing people with an opportunity to create their identity by providing practically unlimited choice."

Starbucks, the New Coffee Culture, and Why it Reflects Our Changing World



If we can shrink the world's population to a village of only 100 people, keeping all existing ratios the same, that village would look like this:

there would be 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere -- north and south -- and 21 Africans;

52 would be female;

70 would be nonwhite and 30 white;

70 would be non-Christian and 30 would be Christian.

6 of the 100 people would own 59% of all the wealth in the world, and all 6 of those people would be from the United States.

80 of the 100 people would live in substandard housing.

70 would be unable to read and write.

50 would suffer from malnutrition.

1 would have a college education.

Julian Bond
N.A.A.C.P. chairman
The New York Times: May 29, 2000


In Love with Love

The day Drive105 went away and Love105 took its place was a rough one here in the Twin Cities. I refused to listen to Love, and thought it was the worst premise for a radio station ever, until just a few days ago when I landed there accidentally.

Turns out it's the best mix of summertime music EVER. I think my mom once said something about judging a book... blah, blah, blah. Lesson learned.

This is the best of what I've heard so far:

Frank Sinatra - Beyond the Sea
Bee Gees - More Than a Woman
Neil Diamond - Cherry Cherry
Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
Frankie Valli - Grease is the Word
Bob Dylan - Lay, Lady, Lay

ps- Disco is back.


Mint Chocolate Chip

Best part of being a grown up (hands down):
ice cream for dinner.

I could probably do without the rest of it (business casual, 401k, moral responsibility) but mint chocolate chip anytime I want it makes adulthood a-ok in my book.


Sneezing Panda

This is definitely the funniest part of my week, so far.



I mean, really. I have been feeling the strain of it quite a bit lately - maybe because of the season, maybe because work has been crazy (when has it not been crazy?).

Early summer moves slowly. Life (as we are accustomed to living it) moves quickly. And watching a crab apple tree grow leaves and flower over the course of several weeks reminds me how far we have strayed from what seems to be the natural pace of our world.

I just learned that dandelions and tulips close at nighttime. I don't know how I never noticed this. But think how slowly a flower must move - twice a day, every day - to be unnoticed.

Did you know that Americans are exposed to 247-5,000* ads each day?

*Even a measure of over-stimulation is over-stimulating.


Happy May Day...

(If I stand on tippy toes, I can almost actually see summertime.)


I ♥ Peeps

I really do adore Peeps. They're so squishy-yummy - and cute to boot! They bring me an inconceivable amount of delight - so much that I'm giving them their very own tag. Check out the Original Pioneer Press Peeps Diorama Contest. I highly recommend viewing the slideshow in fullscreen mode to fully appreciate the cuteness that is the Peep.


The Bank

I was decluttering tonight and came across a list of quotes I kept while working at the Wells Fargo Phone Bank oh-so-many years ago (okay, 3 years ago). I spoke with a ridiculous number of insane customers while I was there and I'm sad I could only keep track of so many. (I had kept track of more, but my first quote list mysteriously disappeared from my triangle-shaped cube after hours one night. I'm still upset about it.)

There were the lonely, chatty customers:
"Can I tell you a story? What do you get when you have a fish and an elephant? Swimming trunks!" (Ha!)

"This is the history of 'me'... let me begin..." (Oh boy.)

The incredibly unintelligent customers from Alaska:
"We live in a bush. The only Wells Fargo is 150 miles away and only accessible by airplane."

"I can walk around with my phone!" (Revolutionary!)

"My husband just hit a moose with his truck. The moose is still alive but it's not doing so well - it was vomiting and then, of course, the bowels let loose." (Wonderful. And why are you calling me?)

And, my personal favorite, the rude customers:
"Wells Fargo fucking sucks and you guys need help!" (Eloquently put.)

me: "Thank you for calling. I was happy to speak with you."
mother in background: "He wasn't happy to speak with yo ass, bitch!"
I can still hardly believe I made it out alive. Every night I thank my lucky stars that I stumbled upon wonderful Tree Trust and am employed in a job I enjoy, working with people I admire, for an organization I appreciate. It's the cat's pajamas. Really.


Bert, Buffalo

Blake went to South Dakota a couple of summers ago and came home with Bert the Buffalo. Little did Blake know what a part of our lives this small, stuffed buffalo would become (if he had, I worry Bert might not have made it).

Here's the thing - all of my stuffed animals were animated when I was little, thanks to my dad and brother. I had a Snork who wore a sock on his snorky thing all winter to stay warm (my dad's idea). I had a bear who was sometimes served his very own plate at the dinner table. All of my stuffed animals would pop their little heads in the bathroom door to cheer me up when I was in the tub and my mom was pouring water in my eyes. So it quickly just became a way of life. My stuffed animals talked to me, they went on trips with us, they were a part of the family. My bear went off to college with me and met Sarah's bear and the world was a happy place.

So, naturally, I expected that little, stuffed Bert would demonstrate the same behavior as my childhood stuffed animals. Imagine my surprise when I realized that Blake intended for Bert to just sit on a shelf and look cute. It took him quite a while to warm up to the idea of having Bert as an active part of our lives but finally, he could resist no longer - and I do believe that our relationship is better because of it.

This is why:

-Blake demonstrates his ability to be a nurturing caretaker by giving Bert kisses, sharing bites of his food with Bert, and massaging Bert's feet when the poor little guy has had a rough day. (And as much as he'd argue that he does all of this just to appease me, he's the one who panics when Bert is lost under the bed for a mere second.)

Bert & Blake

-Bert can express all sorts of disapproval - releasing me from the role of 'nagging girlfriend'. "Bert wishes you would remember to chew with your mouth closed." "Bert is worried that we're not spending enough quality time together." (It's handy that he speaks only in whispers and mostly to me.) Bert is often on my side - because I'm often right - and I always have an instant "2 to 1" argument.

-Bert is fun. Really. We have a constant prompt to be silly and ridiculous - to play and make each other laugh. That's the big reason.

Is our integration of Bert into our relationship strange? Yes. Are there stranger things in the world? Definitely yes. On the scale of strangeness I think we're doing alright. Maybe every relationship could even benefit from a little stuffed buffalo, who knows. Or maybe it's just us.


Shopping for Vacations that Aren't Being Taken

I've been doing a lot of vacation planning lately. At one point in time I was planning because I actually intended to take a vacation. But then I found out that my preferred vacation partner prefers to spend his time remodeling kitchens instead of traveling with me (that's not totally true - it's just that he will be remodeling for the next four billion months, it seems). I thought about traveling alone but I did that for 3 months last year and it wasn't really my favorite thing in the world. So now I'm just planning vacations that I won't ever take.

In the process I've come across some great travel resources:

I don't know that I'd actually make a purchase through this site, but there's a great option (under Deals) to search multiple destinations and multiple dates. Just choose a departure city and month - it will tell you the least expensive places and dates to travel.

Zuji is based outside of the US and it will, therefore, allow you to do a 'flexible date' search for international flights (US-based sites aren't allowed to do this because of some fuel surcharge issue that I don't really understand).

Mobissimo searches flights from a whole slew of travel websites all at once. It's absolute brilliance. (And as a rational economic agent, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to the intangible ideal of a perfectly competitive market equilibrium based on perfect information - which makes me a happy girl.)


The Weather

Yes, I'm blogging about The Weather. I realize that many people specifically dislike discussion about The Weather, but I'm not one of them. And I haven't posted for a while.

Surfers talk about swell - snowboarders, powder - Minnesotans, The Weather. If we lived in California, there would be no need. It's 75 and sunny, 75 and sunny, 75 and sunny. How boring.*

Living here, at the mercy of an unpredictable and wretched climate, The Weather is something worth discussing.

So I am completely justified in exclaiming, IT WAS 50 AND SUNNY TODAY!

Looks like we're quickly approaching Mud** - I'd better break out the galoshes.

*boring = absolutely wonderful

**My version of the seasons goes something like this like this:


Slow day, apparently

Usually I can only tolerate the traditional media outlets for news (thanks, Macalester). But it might be more than I can handle today.

Como's new baby orangutan will be named Jaya
The public cast votes and donated money with each vote to determine the primate's new name, which was announced during a ceremony Monday at the St. Paul Zoo.

Land O' Lakes' new product breaks butter tradition
Land O' Lakes today says it will start offering its 1-pound package of salted butter in eight "half sticks," breaking the tradition of the standard pack of four sticks.

I have never understood zoo news. I wonder if it's as big in other parts of the country as it is here. But now we have butter news? For heaven's sake.

There must be people who care, right? Otherwise we wouldn't see stories like this in the paper. But WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?


Oh, Valentine's Day...

Yes, Valentine's Day.

The first Valentine's Day Blake and I celebrated together was themed 'White Trash' (his idea, not mine). We dressed like white trash (I had quite a hard time with this), drank Old Milwaukee, then went to White Castle AND Taco Bell. I felt sick, can't imagine why.

Our second Valentine's Day we had a huge fight, were on the verge of breaking up, and I showed up at his door with a case of Old Milwaukee - for old time's sake.

Last Valentine's Day there was an entire ocean between us.

So we have quite the track record. As much as I've always been against heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and long-stemmed roses, I sometimes wonder if my life wouldn't be a little easier with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and long-stemmed roses. I have no doubt that Hallmark is at fault for making me believe this.

I've recently become a fan of PostSecret (a community art project; people create and anonymously send postcards with their secrets) and they have a Valentine's Day themed post today - yes, love is dysfunctional, by nature. But that's okay.

Here are my favorites:


It's What's For Dinner

Fine and noble blog readers, I propose a pooling of ideas.

I'm so tired of feeding myself. I mean, what's the deal? It's like EVERY DAY I have to eat. I desperately miss the days of someone else (i.e. my mom) making dinner every night. And it just doesn't make sense for me to put all of that effort into one meal for just myself. I've been better about cooking in bulk but you can only eat super-healthy chicken and vegetable soup so many times in one week - and I had it again for lunch today.

So I arrived home from work again tonight without the energy or ingredients required to seriously prepare a meal and considered my usual array of sustenance options:
-Peanut butter and jelly
-Frozen waffles
-Pasta with olive oil and parmesan cheese
-Canned soup

When I'm feeling creative, I will occasionally also eat:
-Pita bread and hummus
-A burrito with kidney beans, salsa and cheese

That's it. So what does the rest of the world eat for dinner? I'm in desperate need of some fresh ideas. Please post.


Hard-hitting News

Blake played this for me yesterday and I was laughing so hard all night, I couldn't fall asleep. Apparently it was on the KQ morning show. My question: how can you take yourself seriously, as a reporter, after a story like this?



Something to think about on a -16 Minnesota morning (that "feels like" -36).


Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta dust my bedroom.



World, meet my new puppy-niece, Rosie. Here she is out for a romp in the fresh powder. Isn't she ADORABLE?

She has been staying with her Aunt Annie this week while my brother and his family are hiding from winter in Turks & Caicos.

What a little bundle of joy (and terror)! She's my first puppy - since I never had a dog growing up. So it has been a week of learning, ups and downs. One morning she peed on the floor three times while I was getting ready for work. And she has chewed on every sock I own - I have no idea where she finds them. But then she learned how to traverse the three big steps up onto the back porch, and I was so proud! And we've been working on learning the difference between biting, which hurts!, and licking, which is pretty much the sweetest thing ever.

Then there was the time I found her EATING POOP. We were doing laundry in the basement and she got into the litter box of my roommate's cat and started at it. It wasn't until I smelled it that I realized she was lying in the middle of the floor eating poop. Yes, poop.

At one point in life (a few weeks ago) I was pretty convinced I wanted a puppy of my own. But I've realized that maybe it's not for me - because it's hard when I'm at work, it's 5:30pm, and all of a sudden I have to leave because someone at home is counting on me as her only means of getting to the potty. And stopping for groceries on the way home or meeting a friend for dinner? Not an option.

I don't think I'm ready for someone to be that dependent on me. It has been hard especially this week - when I've had a vicious cold and I want it to be all about me-me-me. But then there's puppy-puppy-puppy.

So that's settled, at least. But she is awfully nice to cuddle with in the evenings. And maybe I do kind of like it when she licks the water off of my ankles after I get out of the shower. And the way she tilts her head to the side when she's listening to me talk. And her cute little tongue and cute little tail. I'm going to miss her quite a bit, actually. Maybe I'll work on convincing my brother and sister-in-law to vacation more frequently.


Powder Rooms

I have a limited capacity for useless knowledge (I'm very efficient in that way) - so maybe that's why I feel obligated to share what I DO know.

I always thought the term "powder room" came from ladies powdering their noses in said room. But it actually originates from before then - when men wore wigs and put powder on them to make them less stinky. Gross.

I'm not going to cite a source on that one, but do a google search. It's true.