Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Oh, 2012…

One of my favorite things about New Year’s Eve is that it forces you, if at least momentarily, to reflect on the year you are finishing. Some years I have cringed at the memories I was leaving behind (ugh, 2009 and 2010) but this is one of those years where I can’t help but grin as I think back. I don’t mean to brag, especially since I know a lot of people who had a tough year, but as far as I am concerned, 2012 was effing awesome.

I don’t want to bore anyone by listing the year month by month or anything, so here’s a sort of random compiling of categories to help me remember this year:

New skills I learned (or at least tried):
 Sailing– took classes at a community college and learned some fundamentals on small Lido boats; saw how it all works on a 50 ft boat in May off the coast of Mallorca. Planning to continue my sailing education.

Cheese making– I feel I have mastered making mozzarella and goat cheese. The cheddar, parmesean, and gouda I tried really sucked, but now with more kitchen space and better equipment, I plan to try again this winter.

Gardening– I have several hanging and potted plants on the balcony. Some have died and been replaced, some are still going strong. At the moment they are all living and thriving, but I want to learn more about how to keep that happening, and how to start a vegetable garden in the back yard.

Teaching a writing course that included more literary analysis– I feel like that went better than expected. I copied my colleague Beth and started assigning Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Saw There in my English 101 courses, and since I did, the classes and assignments are so much more fun. At a time when I was feeling discouraged and burned out about teaching, it’s shown me just how awesome my job can be.

Teaching an Upper-Division Course: When Beth and I got the opportunity to co-teach a course for undergrads and grad students who work in our writing center, I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. It ended up being such a positive experience, though.

New Year’s Resolution, and did I keep it:
 To make my bed every day. In the parts of the year where I lived alone, yes. But once I moved in with Cliff it became nearly impossible since he’s usually in bed when I am leaving for work.

Favorite television show:
Hands down, The Walking Dead. I am obsessed. So obsessed that Cliff bought me a Katana for Christmas.

Road Trips:
Joshua Tree in March, Phoenix/ Tempe in November, Bakersfield in December

Best Meals:
Beef Tartare in Paris
Traditional Mayan food in Xela, Guatemala
The yogurt, fruit, granola and honey breakfast we kept ordering at Hotel Modelo in Xela, Guatemala
Christmas Eve tamales
Cedar Plank salmon that Cliff and I grilled up
Filet Mignon with bleu cheese crust at Ruth’s Chris

Best drink:
ginger margaritas at Rip Jack Inn in Costa Rica

Books read:
Middlesex, The Hunger Games trilogy, Just Kids, Big Sur, Lamb, Medium Raw, The End of Something, A Moveable Feast, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Paris Wife

Books I started, didn’t finish, but will come back to:
Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Bitter Fruit, and Blindness

Scariest moment:
Zip lining in Costa Rica and braking too early so that I was stuck on the line and had to pull myself long to the platform. I actually still have nightmares about zip lining.
Moment that should have been scary but really wasn’t:
Falling out of the raft and being swept down the rapids (also in Costa Rica)

Memories that will ALWAYS make me smile:
-playing hop scotch and “Salta!” with the preschoolers in Guatemala, and little Roxanna Michaela showing me the stash of chalk she had hidden in the folds of her traditional skirt.

-finding Shakespeare and Co. in Paris in the pouring rain– we got lost and combed the streets for hours looking for it

-The cats that hung out on the bar in Costa Rica
-The bartender at The Liberty Bounds pub in London who was excited that I was from Huntington Beach. He said that when he was younger, he and his friends would practice their California surfer accent, much the way I’ve tried a British accent.
-Cliff presenting me with a leopard print key to his house
– Getting hammered with my brother at The Bruery’s St. Patrick’s Day bash
-Dinners with my family

Biggest Physical Accomplishment:
Hiking to the summit of Mount Baldy

Memory that makes me Proud of Myself:
Making friends with strangers in Dublin. I had always been afraid of traveling alone, but when I got to Dublin I discovered that I wasn’t staying with a friend and had to experience the city on my own. I cried for a short while, but then I got myself a bus pass and a map, and went exploring. I chatted with all sorts of people and surprised myself with what a good time I could have. A few times I found myself lost outside of the city due to my poor understanding of the bus table, but it all worked out, and I always found my way, eventually.

Places I traveled to (internationally):
Costa Rica (Arenal and then Playa Grande), Amsterdam (for a few hours– enough time to visit coffee shops & the red light district, and to get some pommes frites), Mallorca, Guatemala (Xela, Lake Atitlan, and Antigua), Dublin, London, and Paris.

Things I kind of Sucked at:
-Keeping some plants alive
-Saving money
-Speaking Spanish
-Zip Lining
-Tying bowline knots
– Not dwelling on negativity when I should know better
– Keeping up with everyone in Vegas. I am not the drinker I used to be!

The Best Change of 2012:
Every day I come home to my best friend.

Resolutions for 2013:
Do more yoga
Stay in better communication with friends and family
Write more

2013, you’ve got a lot of awesomeness to compete with, but I have faith in you.
I can already tell that this year is going to be amazing, and we’ll be ringing it in at the W Hotel in Hollywood tonight.
CAN’T WAIT!
Cheers, everyone!
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Oh, 2012…

One of my favorite things about New Year’s Eve is that it forces you, if at least momentarily, to reflect on the year you are finishing. Some years I have cringed at the memories I was leaving behind (ugh, 2009 and 2010) but this is one of those years where I can’t help but grin as I think back. I don’t mean to brag, especially since I know a lot of people who had a tough year, but as far as I am concerned, 2012 was effing awesome.

I don’t want to bore anyone by listing the year month by month or anything, so here’s a sort of random compiling of categories to help me remember this year:

New skills I learned (or at least tried):
 Sailing– took classes at a community college and learned some fundamentals on small Lido boats; saw how it all works on a 50 ft boat in May off the coast of Mallorca. Planning to continue my sailing education.

Cheese making– I feel I have mastered making mozzarella and goat cheese. The cheddar, parmesean, and gouda I tried really sucked, but now with more kitchen space and better equipment, I plan to try again this winter.

Gardening– I have several hanging and potted plants on the balcony. Some have died and been replaced, some are still going strong. At the moment they are all living and thriving, but I want to learn more about how to keep that happening, and how to start a vegetable garden in the back yard.

Teaching a writing course that included more literary analysis– I feel like that went better than expected. I copied my colleague Beth and started assigning Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Saw There in my English 101 courses, and since I did, the classes and assignments are so much more fun. At a time when I was feeling discouraged and burned out about teaching, it’s shown me just how awesome my job can be.

Teaching an Upper-Division Course: When Beth and I got the opportunity to co-teach a course for undergrads and grad students who work in our writing center, I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. It ended up being such a positive experience, though.

New Year’s Resolution, and did I keep it:
 To make my bed every day. In the parts of the year where I lived alone, yes. But once I moved in with Cliff it became nearly impossible since he’s usually in bed when I am leaving for work.

Favorite television show:
Hands down, The Walking Dead. I am obsessed. So obsessed that Cliff bought me a Katana for Christmas.

Road Trips:
Joshua Tree in March, Phoenix/ Tempe in November, Bakersfield in December

Best Meals:
Beef Tartare in Paris
Traditional Mayan food in Xela, Guatemala
The yogurt, fruit, granola and honey breakfast we kept ordering at Hotel Modelo in Xela, Guatemala
Christmas Eve tamales
Cedar Plank salmon that Cliff and I grilled up
Filet Mignon with bleu cheese crust at Ruth’s Chris

Best drink:
ginger margaritas at Rip Jack Inn in Costa Rica

Books read:
Middlesex, The Hunger Games trilogy, Just Kids, Big Sur, Lamb, Medium Raw, The End of Something, A Moveable Feast, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Paris Wife

Books I started, didn’t finish, but will come back to:
Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Bitter Fruit, and Blindness

Scariest moment:
Zip lining in Costa Rica and braking too early so that I was stuck on the line and had to pull myself long to the platform. I actually still have nightmares about zip lining.
Moment that should have been scary but really wasn’t:
Falling out of the raft and being swept down the rapids (also in Costa Rica)

Memories that will ALWAYS make me smile:
-playing hop scotch and “Salta!” with the preschoolers in Guatemala, and little Roxanna Michaela showing me the stash of chalk she had hidden in the folds of her traditional skirt.

-finding Shakespeare and Co. in Paris in the pouring rain– we got lost and combed the streets for hours looking for it

-The cats that hung out on the bar in Costa Rica
-The bartender at The Liberty Bounds pub in London who was excited that I was from Huntington Beach. He said that when he was younger, he and his friends would practice their California surfer accent, much the way I’ve tried a British accent.
-Cliff presenting me with a leopard print key to his house
– Getting hammered with my brother at The Bruery’s St. Patrick’s Day bash
-Dinners with my family

Biggest Physical Accomplishment:
Hiking to the summit of Mount Baldy

Memory that makes me Proud of Myself:
Making friends with strangers in Dublin. I had always been afraid of traveling alone, but when I got to Dublin I discovered that I wasn’t staying with a friend and had to experience the city on my own. I cried for a short while, but then I got myself a bus pass and a map, and went exploring. I chatted with all sorts of people and surprised myself with what a good time I could have. A few times I found myself lost outside of the city due to my poor understanding of the bus table, but it all worked out, and I always found my way, eventually.

Places I traveled to (internationally):
Costa Rica (Arenal and then Playa Grande), Amsterdam (for a few hours– enough time to visit coffee shops & the red light district, and to get some pommes frites), Mallorca, Guatemala (Xela, Lake Atitlan, and Antigua), Dublin, London, and Paris.

Things I kind of Sucked at:
-Keeping some plants alive
-Saving money
-Speaking Spanish
-Zip Lining
-Tying bowline knots
– Not dwelling on negativity when I should know better
– Keeping up with everyone in Vegas. I am not the drinker I used to be!

The Best Change of 2012:
Every day I come home to my best friend.

Resolutions for 2013:
Do more yoga
Stay in better communication with friends and family
Write more

2013, you’ve got a lot of awesomeness to compete with, but I have faith in you.
I can already tell that this year is going to be amazing, and we’ll be ringing it in at the W Hotel in Hollywood tonight.
CAN’T WAIT!
Cheers, everyone!

Cookies and Swords!

So my mom brought me a tin of my FAVORITE Christmas cookies, of which I have been guilty of having more than a couple. In fact, there is now only one left, and that lone cookie reminds me that Christmas is now over.

Believe it or not, Christmas has not really been my favorite time of year. It reminds me of hard times my family has gone through, of depression and loss and feeling inadequate for not having money to spend it the way television insists we do. It can seem so forced and artificial, and the materialism of the holiday has left me feeling just as discouraged as Charlie Brown.

But I have been coming around, and have developed a new appreciation for Christmas. Part of it has to do with having someone special to share it all with (I don’t blame you for gagging right about now). Cliff and I put up lights and decorations, and this was our first Christmas together.

My friend Emily gave me this chandelier ornament! How fabulous!

We even put up lights, which was a big deal for me since I grew up in a condo that didn’t allow us to put up outdoor lights, and since then I have lived in apartments/ houses where I could only put lights in windows. We even bought a snowman lawn thingy that we put up on the balcony.

On Christmas Eve, my mom and Grandpa came over for dinner. I loved playing hostess, and I cooked up tamales (bought ’em, didn’t make them myself. No way.) and other yummy sides, and we all drank wine and talked late into the night. It really was wonderful. My grandpa and Cliff are like new BFFs.
 Here’s the cheese plate from that night– I made the mozzarella myself, and chopped some rosemary from my garden to sprinkle on top. Yummers!

Christmas day we slept in, I made french toast and eggs, and we got to opening presents. I still can’t believe my man got me this:

That’s right, a friggin KATANA! The picture doesn’t do it justice; it really is gorgeous. I am actually a little afraid of it– that bad boy can do some serious damage. I am determined to learn more about it, if not at least from watching YouTube videos.

After a day of being lazy and making plans for our January vacay, on the night after Christmas we went to Ruth’s Chris for dinner with my man’s sister and cousin. What’s better than amazing steaks, (hello, they melt a pat of butter on each one!) good wine, and raunchy conversation? Nothing, I say!

And finally, last night, I met Cliff’s aunt when she hosted dinner at her house. She is a fun woman, and another night of great food, wine, and conversation rounded out the week perfectly.

Even if Christmas itself can be lame at times, the wonderful thing about it is that it gets you at a dinner table with family and friends– I didn’t even get into the fun girls’ night out I had before Christmas, or the post-Christmas beers I had with other friends! But it’s all about spending time with the people who matter most. This year I was blessed to get to include Cliff in my family time, and to be included in his. And really, that is better than any Christmas gift, even if it is a badass sword.