Why hello, 2012!

It seems I’ve taken an unintentional sabbatical from blogging for the month of December.  Between finals and the holidays, I’ve been so busy that I’ve come up short on motivation to write.  Now, on the eve of 2012, I’m finally compelled to write a comeback post.  Nothing fancy here, just a recap on the holidays and a brief note on where my life (and subsequently this blog) are headed in the new year.

Josh and I had a lovely Christmas weekend.  In fact, after all of my moping about Christmas in this post, we went and had ourselves the merriest little Christmas ever.  It was the best one I’ve had since childhood.  In the days since, I’ve tried to decide what made this year’s holiday so much superior than others – there were no special travel plans or big family parties.  The entire experience was just nice this year.  Maybe it had something to do with the idyllic snow flurries that fell all day on December 25th.  Or, perhaps my lack of expectations allowed me to relax and enjoy myself.  Either way, here are photos from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after.

 

1) We made a stop at the Cookie Jar on Christmas Eve for yuletide snacks.  2) Teddy, who naughtily terrorized the cat and frequently tore open our garbage all year, attempted to make it on to Santa’s nice list at the last minute with this painfully cute pose.  3) Cookies for Santa and candy canes for his reindeer because I was out of carrots.  4) Festive wrapping!  5) Our snowy walk through the park on Christmas.  6) Post-meal Christmas lounging.  7) Lindt (owned by Josh’s sister, Gabrielle) with his Christmas present.

Whatever the reasons, Christmas left me feeling revived and upbeat.  I’m excited to embark on a new year with the love of my life and our dog.  I just feel good!  I hope I can maintain this sunny outlook.

In the new year I’ll resume writing consistently in this blog.  I enjoy having a platform to share my experiences with others, but also being able to reflect on my life.  Keeping track of my activities makes me feel more accountable for how I spent my time, which ultimately results in my engaging in more fulfilling activities (crafting, reading, spending time with friends) as opposed to less meaningful time-fillers (television, facebooking, shopping).  I hope that y’all enjoy reading about my adventures, and I’m sure glad you’re here.

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What to do…

…when you wake up on the morning of your Russian final with flu-like symptoms?

Apparently, I have succumbed to some type of mild winter illness on the least opportune of all days.  That’s alright, I’ll make the best of it.  I’ve been up since 4:30am studying and pacing the house (when did I start getting test anxiety?!), so I knew I needed to do something that would help me be calm, focused, centered.  Some people might turn to prayer or meditation to soothe their worries, but not me.  No, I don’t need those things – I just need Bruce Willis.

In the Andrea versus Russian Final battle, I’m John McClane.  Bring it on, Hans.

Christmas Craft Roundup

In the midst of my finals, I have somehow managed to free up exactly one day on which I may shirk academic duties and participate in Christmastime activities.  Josh and I are cramming all of our holiday decorating into a single Sunday, and I am perhaps inappropriately excited for someone my age.  I’m typically feeling so down-and-out about my birthday this time of year that I forget how enjoyable the Christmas season can be.  So, what do we have planned for our day of holiday crafting and decorating?

Firstly, we’ll need a tree!  I’m not entirely sure where we will procure one yet, but it will be from a charitable organization or local farm for certain.  Then there’s the question of decorations for the tree.  We’ve yet to accrue many ornaments in the two years we’ve been a couple, so I looked into homemade decorations and here’s what I’ll be crafting tomorrow:

(Photo and project c/o Cook Quilt Make and Bake)

I am so enamored with these simple dried orange slice ornaments.  They seem like they’ll be pretty easy to create, and will not only add color to my tree but will add another seasonal scent to my home.

(Photo and project c/o Cook Quilt Make and Bake)

I feel like everyone made salt dough ornaments at some point in grade school.  I picked up a couple of cookie cutters from Cliff’s Antiques today so I can now proceed with making heart and star shaped salt dough decorations.

(Photo and project c/o Green Eyed Monster)

The final tree ornament project I’ll be taking on tomorrow will be these stars made from paper towel rolls, Mod Podge, and glitter.  I have all of the components on hand already and am thrilled that I can incorporate a little  R-E-C-Y-C-L-E action into my Christmas decor.

For the remainder of my home, I’m hoping to prepare a few other embellishments.  I have my mind set on crafting some lace bunting to hang in my living room, and I think I’ll work on these projects too:

(Photo and project c/o McLaughlin Designs)

Probably the closest thing to a snow globe I can fashion on my own, I love this “Winter in a Jar” DIY from McLaughlin Designs.

 (Photo and project c/o papernstitch)

No sew, no glue, vintage Christmas wreath project?  Perfect!

I’m thankful for the crafty minds who came up with these projects and so grateful that I can draw on their inspiration to make my cramped apartment feel a little bit more like home.  I can’t wait for tomorrow nor can I wait to document and share this surprising burst of Christmas cheer that’s somehow developed in me.  Who knew that putting the kibosh on my birthday would allow me to enjoy the holidays so much?

Seasick Crocodile

My December has been a whirlwind of exam preparation and paper writing thus far.  But I like having so much academia this time of year – it distracts me from the mess that is Christmas.

 

(photo courtesy of The Consummate Button Pusher)

To be certain, I love the weeks leading up to December 25th.  I appreciate any holiday that encourages folks to douse their homes in frivolous decoration.  I have a genuine love of Christmas music – much to the chagrin of those around me – and can’t wait to get a tree that will fill my house with great smells and pine needles (which will inevitably become lodged in every pair of socks I own).

So what are my issues with Christmas?

For starters, my biological date of birth is December 23rd.  I love the month, I love the number 23, and I love the way “12/23/85” looks when it’s necessary I scribble it on official forms.  I hate having a birthday overshadowed by Christmas.  It’s not that I care about the lack of presents I receive – far from it, in fact.  I just got tired of people forgetting my birthday.  No one wants to celebrate with me when they’re broke and tired from holiday preparation, which I understand.  That’s why my brother and I traded birthdays!  You can read all about it here.  Now I don’t have to worry about having a pesky Christmas birthday.  My anxiety is much lower than usual this time of year knowing I have the luxury of spending that entire day as if it was any other – hooray!

Aside from my birthday woes, I get terrifically disheartened about consumerism in the United States this time of year.  I’m always aware of the fiendish, fervent shopping habits of Americans, but it’s the worst in December.  I am so lucky to have a family that has given up gift giving.  Instead, we bake each other delicious things and hang out together on Christmas.  My parents donate the money they once spent on our Christmas gifts to a charity of my mother’s choosing, and we’re all relieved that we don’t have to fight crowds to shop for each other.  People are aghast when I tell them that my family doesn’t exchange gifts (“What do you even do on Christmas!?”), which, to me, highlights why’s it’s important to take a step back from the gift portion of the holidays and focus on the togetherness aspect.

Togetherness ties in perfectly with my last gripe about Christmastime: For all of my annoying, over the top love of holidays, I have few to share the season with.  I’ll spare y’all the details, but Christmas is a painful reminder of all the people I want so badly to spend the holidays with but can’t.  I try hard to focus on the amazing people I currently have in my life, but that doesn’t do much to take away the sting of missing others.

Once my school semester is over (at the end of next week), I have plenty of projects lined up to keep me busy over winter break.  I have Russian and French to study, a scarf to knit, and a couple Dostoyevsky books to finish.  Additionally, for the next several weeks, my brother and I are spending our Saturday afternoons in the kitchen where he’s teaching me to bake various breads.  We started last weekend and he taught me how to make a versatile soda bread.  Hopefully I can snap some photos next time and share our recipe for whatever type of bread we make.

Lastly, here are a couple of photos and one of my favorite Christmas songs to lighten this text-heavy post:

Pasta is best enjoyed out of Grandma’s old casserole dish.

One of the many scarves I’ll be toiling on…

I am probably the only adult on the planet who doesn’t loathe this song:

Josh and  taking Teddy out for a romp around in the woods tomorrow, so I should have some somewhat interesting walking photos to post over the weekend.  (Regularly scheduled Walkabout Wednesdays will resume after finals, assuming I survive without maiming myself and/or someone else).  Also, to get myself in a more jolly mood, I’m planning a post of my favorite Christmas films that should appear sometime next week!

Vote For Teddy!

The organization that saved my dog, Friends of Retrievers Rescue, is making a calendar.  They invited dog parents to submit cute pictures of their pets and are now having a contest on their Facebook page – whichever 12 pictures receive the most “Likes” will be featured in the calendar.  We (obviously) entered Teddy, and one of his pictures seems to have a chance!  Think he’s adorable?  Head to Facebook and check out Friends of Retrievers!  The calendar contest is contained in their photo albums, and there you’ll find this picture of my favorite dog:

Also, if you love animals and feel like helping out a dog in need this December, be sure to check out Friends of Retrievers website, where they have options to sponsor special needs animals for the holidays.

…Traipse-around Thursday?

I failed miserably yesterday by not posting for Walkabout Wednesday.  I was caught up in a whirlwind of Russian class, working on a French project, and studying for an exam, so excuse me for the tardiness of this post.

I once worked in the outskirts of Portland, where Forest Avenue becomes Route 302 and the city turns quickly to Westbrook, then Windham.  I must have driven past the spot of this week’s walk at least ten times a week for the two years I was employed in that area.  How I never managed to visit this trail before now is a mystery (it perhaps has something to do with the fact that this particular trail head shares a parking lot with a waste management facility) but the paths around the Presumpscot Boat Launch are fascinating.  The area contains a few special attractions, the first of which is the remarkable landscape.  The terrain is varied and, while I haven’t explored much, there seem to be plenty of paths to try out.  There are also signs noting the previous activities of the Presumpscot River area – there was a trolley station and quite a busy waterway.  I want to do some more adventuring in this place soon – I wonder if I could scrounge up a few people who would like to have a picnic there with me?

Now I’m off to reformat the new blog I’ve started – it’s all about my Russian studies.  Hopefully I’ll have it fixed up and ready to share soon.