“Ten years on and something’s shifted, same apartment, roommate’s gone”

So much for being a better blogger :o( Speaking of which, last call to take the reader survey!

Things I’ve done since I last wrote:

  • Went to the PA Farm Show. Had a very long day looking at animals and farm equipment and eating all the food. Once again GG proves that you can’t take him anywhere! (At first it was kind of amusing, but after a while I think our friends L and S were getting just as frustrated as I was that he has to talk to every vendor or presenter… We wanted to go see stuff!)
  • We had our big learning event at work. This is the third year and every time it’s been a little different. The first year, we had on-site events and tons of technical issues with the online part. Last year we kept it very simple and everything was online, very few problems. This year, we went back to having on-site and online events, and there are two 6-hour weeks (instead of one 12-hour week), one in January and one in July. It’s just as much work for us running it each time though, so it basically doubled our work. But everything went very smoothly, plus we had our contractor from Michigan in town, and it is always fun hanging out with her. I had a couple of the girls over for dinner one night, which was a hit.
  • GG and I went to dinner with one of my very oldest friends and her boyfriend. She’s given me my last two annual haircuts, actually, and last year we decided that we should do dinner, but it took until this year to actually plan it. It was a lot of fun. We lost touch a little through high school and college (she moved away), but now thanks to Facebook we’ve reconnected, and we can still talk up a storm like we never spent any time apart. That’s the sign of a good friendship.
  • I went out over the holiday weekend to take advantage of some sales and restock my work wardrobe. (Best deals: NY&Co was selling tons of stuff for $10 a piece. I ended up getting a bag full of clothes for the price of one of those items regularly!) Turns out every item I purchased was black, gray, or purple. (I would’ve gotten turquoise or teal things too, but those don’t seem to be in style this season…)
  • I had two events for my side job. One of which was my biggest ever. The other required me to drive out in the rush hour snowstorm we had on Friday (it took almost three hours to travel what normally would take an hour), and GG came with me out of concern for my safety :o) (and because I talked him into it). I still made it and it went well, though!
  • We went to see Jim Gaffigan at the Tower Theater! My friend J had asked me months ago if we’d be interested in going with her and her husband S, and got tickets. Then MB mentioned that she had gotten tickets to the same show for A’s birthday! So the six of us ended up going together, going out to dinner, and then to the show. They all actually met each other 5 years ago at my 25th birthday party, but I’m not surprised they don’t remember each other. They are the parents of all our favorite superbabies, so it was cool to get them together. Oh and the show was fabulous! My face hurt by the end from laughing the whole time. I loved the routine about shellfish and seafood, because I don’t eat it and feel exactly the same way!

Also, I’ve been reading on my Kindle, and watching TV (yes, I cried at the Fringe finale, and I will probably cry this week at the 30 Rock finale, and the upcoming finale of The Office).

Looking forward to a couple restful weeks coming up, because I see another busy period on the horizon…

White Corn Guacamole

When I went out with my friends for our pre-Christmas shopping day, we had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen and ordered their White Corn Guacamole as an appetizer. It was barely enough to feed three of us (but ok as an appetizer I guess), and I vowed to figure out how to make it at home. Luckily, the internet took care of that for me, I just had to make a couple little adjustments. Enjoy!

  • Cube and mash 3 avocados
  • Add the following:
    • 1/2 cup sweet white corn
    • 1/2 red pepper, diced
    • 1/4 cup black beans
    • 1/4 cup jicama, diced
    • 1/2 cup onion, diced
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 whole serrano pepper, diced (optional)
    • handful of cilantro, chopped
    • juice of 1/2 lime
  • Combine and serve with tortilla chips

Ok, the photo may not be that appetizing, but I promise in real life it’s green and creamy with just the right amount of crunch and texture, and if you like guacamole you will love it!

Homemade Hand Scrub

I love a good hand scrub. I haven’t used any for a while, and I had this jar hanging around, so I thought it would be a fun project I could do on my own. I found these basic recipes and mixed up my own batch, using mostly things I had on hand. (I did buy a bottle of grapeseed oil – you can use olive oil, but it might smell too strong.)

So here is my recipe:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Epsom salt
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Transfer into a jar.

The great thing about this is that it’s so versatile. You can use more sugar (for a finer scrub), or brown sugar, or kosher salt, or whatever you want/have. I used vanilla because it smells nice and I have some, but you could use any essential oil, lemon, etc.

It works great, and my hands feel so soft (but not greasy)!

Reader Survey!

One of my goals for this year is to be a better blogger. I used to write multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day! Lately, it’s more like a couple times a month. Sometimes I have a topic I really want to write about, but I just never get around to getting my thoughts in order. And more often, between Twitter, Facebook, etc., there’s just a quicker, easier way to share. But one of the things that I really like about being a blogger is that I can go back to almost any day (actually, between all my old blogs, as far back as 1999!) and see what I was doing, what was going on in my life, what I was thinking about, etc. And by being a bad blogger, I lose that ability. So primarily, I am keeping this journal for myself. But, I also like sharing my opinions, and writing about things I enjoy (or don’t enjoy). Some of my most popular posts have been on specific TV shows or products I’ve reviewed (that eShakti review really took on a life of its own for a while!), and if I can steer someone toward something good or away from something bad, I enjoy helping out.

So… I have developed a quick, eight-question survey for readers of this blog! (And really, three of those questions are your name [optional] and comment boxes.) Please take a moment to tell me what you like reading here and what you could do without. Also, I know I’m connected with a lot of my readers via other social networks, and I try to post different things in different spots, but I’m sure there’s overlap (and even more now that it’s so easy to post from my phone). So let me know if that bugs you, too. Thanks!

Take the survey here!

The Rest of My Christmas Vacation

To pick up where I left off… We decided to have a very casual, informal, early dinner party on New Year’s Eve (after which people were welcome to go out somewhere more exciting, go home, etc. before midnight). The number of people who were going to attend kept increasing, so on Saturday morning, GG accompanied me on a frantic shopping trip to get everything needed for the party. Frantic because it was supposed to start snowing sometime that day. We were out for a couple hours, and literally the moment we got home, it started snowing!

And then the snow continued… and continued… We had at least 4″ by the time it stopped around 5 PM. We’d been planning to see Les Miserables that afternoon, but that plan was obviously out, so I just resigned myself to the fact that was not happening. Then a couple kids came around to try to shovel our driveway, and I didn’t want to pay people for that, so I was like, “Well, I guess it’s time to shovel.” It actually was good shoveling snow – by the time GG had cleaned off his car, I had shoveled the whole driveway and sidewalk myself. And since everything was clear… we could go see Les Mis! It was awesome. I saw it live years ago and for most of my childhood I had the soundtrack memorized, but it had been a while. My one real complaint was that, while it may work on stage, just focusing on a single person’s face singing a solo piece doesn’t really lend itself to film so well. I wish they had done something more interesting, considering they had the medium of film to work with. For example, in “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” I always imagined it with the ghosts of the guys sitting around – couldn’t they have added in some ghost dudes? GG also enjoyed it (he was actually seeing it voluntarily, after being impressed by the cinematography when he saw a preview while at a different movie), but you should have seen the face he made when, after “One Day More,” I whispered, “And that’s the end of Act 1.”

On Sunday we went to the UPenn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to see the Maya 2012 exhibit. I’d been wanting to go since it opened, and of course now that it was about to end we finally went. It was actually a really good exhibit. Lots of multi-media, different ways to get your interest. And pretty informative, too, even for a Maya geek like me. I also like the way it was laid out, explaining how the Mayan writing and calendar systems worked, then showing examples, explaining about specific sites (Copan), and then finishing up with modern Mayans. After the museum, we went to Percy Street Barbecue for lunch. GG had been talking this place (and their mac & cheese) up for weeks, but honestly… I was not impressed. Their claim to fame seems to be that they have the largest selection of canned beer in the country, and the food was not all that amazing. When we got home, I prepped all the food for NYE dinner that I could do in advance.

Monday was our NYE party, so I spent the day cleaning and cooking. I actually thought I’d started cooking kind of early, but I was actually still cooking when our guests got there at 6 PM. Oh yeah, at some point in the previous two days, the number of people we were expecting got up to about 12, which was way too many for me, and then down to six as everyone started coming down with some cold/flu thing. Everyone kept saying how bad they felt about canceling, but I was secretly happy. We ended up with two other couples (and our favorite baby), and that was pretty perfect. The food all turned out pretty good – it was mostly stuff I’d found on Pinterest. There were a couple things I wouldn’t do again. The big hit of the night was the Hot Chocolate Bar – everyone got a mug of chocolate, which they could dress up with toppings like marshmallows, sprinkles, caramel, candy canes, and cookie sticks. I would definitely do that again for a winter party. Anyway, everyone had cleared out by 11 PM and I passed out on the sofa. GG woke me at 11:59:55 and I counted down the last five seconds to midnight, drank my glass of sparkling cider, and fell back asleep.

Tuesday was my last day of vacation, and the first day that I could really relax. Obviously I’d given up on my home project by this point. So I spent the day on the couch with my favorite Christmas gift. I also finally ordered my Kindle! And I watched about 9000 episodes of “Buying Alaska,” which really makes those losers on “House Hunters” look like wimps.

My short workweek was a good introduction back to working, and luckily not everyone was back from vacation yet, so it was fairly quiet. A lot of those who were back were out sick. And eventually the cold caught up to me – I was sneezing and sniffling on Thursday, miserable on Friday and most of Saturday, but recovering by Sunday. I’m pretty much back to normal today. I would like to thank the power of Vitamin C!

Oh, and guess what arrived on Saturday afternoon, several days earlier than anticipated? My Kindle! It’s the new Paperwhite version. It’s so tiny, but really it’s the perfect size. I also ordered a case for it, which is due to arrive this week. I figured out how to get ebooks from my library, and have already almost finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

2013 Goals:

  • Read 25 books (I think that’s doable)
  • Send 2 cards/letters per month to people just to let them know I’m thinking of them
  • Be a better blogger (more on this soon – watch for a reader survey!)