Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry, merry and happy, happy

Friends, we are leaving tomorrow for a glorious ten days in New England.  We'll be visiting our families in Connecticut, heading to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, skiing in Vermont, checking out Portland, Maine for a couple of nights, and finally (finally!) heading down to Block Island to ring in the new year. Poor New Hampshire -- it's the only state not represented.  Maybe we can arrange something...

I hope it is relaxing and restful and really, really fun.  Wishing you all the happiest of holidays.  See you on January 4!

The fabulous house we'll stay at in Block Island!  Eeks!  So excited.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Comfort and Christmas spirit loving brought you by Garrison Keillor

Going to Bed
by George Bilgere

I check the locks on the front door
     and the side door,
make sure the windows are closed
     and the heat dialed down.
I switch off the computer,
     turn off the living room lights.

I let in the cats.

     Reverently, I unplug the Christmas tree,
leaving Christ and the little animals
     in the dark.

The last thing I do
     is step out to the back yard
for a quick look at the Milky Way.

     The stars are halogen-blue.
The constellations, whose names
     I have long since forgotten,
look down anonymously,
     and the whole galaxy
is cartwheeling in silence through the night.

     Everything seems to be okay.

"Going to Bed" by George Bilgere, from Haywire. Read the Writer's Almanac here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

No big deal

My sister is back from her semester in Italy.  These are a few photos from her "Europe in a Nutshell" album.  She got all the photography genes, clearly. 

The top one is of the pretty Christmas lights in Florence, then Interlaken, Switzerland.  I'll leave you to your own devices to ponder the last two. 

By the way (btw?), if you want to be cool, all the kids are saying NBD. No big deal.  Says my little sister.  Just FYI.  (Oh, I know, I'm so funny -- acronym jokes never get old!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

At the same time, no less

I had tea yesterday afternoon with a sweet friend.  We chatted about all the usual stuff, like holiday plans and parties, the guys in our lives, and work. 

I always find this friend to be so wonderful when it comes to work discussions. (Aside: I've read quite a few articles that say women need certain kinds of friends to fill very specific roles as they get older -- the one good at career advice, the good listener, the tough-love giver, and so on.  Do you think that's true?  I think I do...). 

Anyways!  She is lovely to talk to about work.  I find I'm always thinking about the next step, the next big thing I want to try.  I like to constantly explore new options and do research.  I'm always telling Peter about my (awesome!) ideas to start a little business so that I can work from home (never mind that I have no idea what that little business would be), or leaving our jobs in NYC to travel for a year after our wedding, or buying a house in Portland. 

This friend is so great because she thinks exactly the same way.  It's so comforting to hear that she has these same thoughts and half-baked ideas.  When she says, "I want to run X foundation, and become a professor, and move to North Carolina," I say, "YES!"  Because I don't want those exact things, but I totally understand how she could -- and at the same time, no less.

I think I often baffle Peter with how much my ideas float and scatter about, but I think that's because he takes the things I say so seriously.  Which is lovely in it's own way.  But it's also great to have someone just say, "That is so smart!  You should do that!" and know that they will certainly not hold you to it, or be alarmed in the least if you just ship with your formerly brilliant plan. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We go together

Photos from 100 Layer Cake and Snippet & Ink

I get this weird feeling whenever I see my name or Peter's attached to someone elses.  Who is this Deirdre character, and what is she doing with Peter?  And Daniel?!  So wrong.  They should get together actually -- Deirdre and Daniel sound like a cute couple.  The Double Ds!  Hmm. 

I have a very similar feeling about my parents, and even my sister's name and mine going together in some kind of cosmic way. 

A few months ago, my mom told me she met with potential clients named Julie and Peter.  I remember asking if they looked like us.  Ahh, no, Julie, they do not.  (Too bad for them!  Ha ha ha.)

P.S. I labelled this New York because New Yorkers are neurotic, and this is perhaps a glaring sign that I am one of them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easy stocking ornament

I made this little stocking ornament last night.  I used the pattern for these paper stockings to get the shape right.  Super easy, and really quick.  I think this took about an hour, from tracing the pattern to hanging it on the tree. 

My mom made a bunch of ornaments when she was first married about 30 years ago.  You can see one in the left hand side of the photo -- that plaid little bunny. Her ornaments don't have the stitching on the outside where the the stuffing goes in. How did she do that?!

Total aside: is this not the best photo I have ever taken?  No idea how I did it.  None.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fair point

Peter and I got into an awesome discussion last week about the music we'll have at the wedding.  A older gentleman from a band in Boston gave me a call, and he sounded nice, so I could have been 100% ready to book him after chatting for 10 minutes.
Peter was like, " you think maybe we should hear them first?"

Fair point, fiance. Fair point.  I knew there was a reason I was marrying you. 

The truth is, I could be perfectly happy listening to Tony Bennett on repeat throughout our entire reception.  Peter could not.  Our guests are probably happy to hear that. 

We are thinking more about bands and DJs and iPods.  How to decide?  The only thing I know is that I want moments like the ones above.  I love these photos so much.  The first is from Holly Burns' wedding, of her siblings doing a dance routine to "Baby Got Back" (note to siblings: you should all get on this).  The second is Peter and me at a wedding earlier this fall. 

The last one is my favorite.  I love all the photos from this wedding, but this is the best.  Look at the bride's attitude.  And all her cute friends!  So awesome.  And so fun looking. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas spirit

Friends: I cheat on Christmas spirit with George Clooney.

And it felt so good.  Highly recommended.  Two thumbs way up in the air for Up in the Air.

(Is it just me, or is the media totally bombarded with weddings and relationships these days?  Just me?  Okay.)

American Airlines, which plays a role in the movie, has a really warm, down-right inspiring holiday video out.  I think you might enjoy it. Click below to watch.  If you are like me, you may cry.  But if you are normal, I have complete faith that you'll be able to hold it together while watching at your desk. 

Happy Holidays from American Airlines

Friday, December 11, 2009

Giving, and staying in

I was going to share one last gift guide today, focusing on giving this holiday season to worthy causes that hold a special place in my heart.  But the problem with me compiling that list is that it will include all the organizations that are near and dear to me -- not to you.  And I feel so confident that you already know who you would want to share an extra $20 with this season, if you are able to. 

So let's just move on, and chat about the weekend for a second.  I am so excited because we are just staying home, and have no plans to speak of.  Well, no plans with other people.  I'm going to:

1. Make cranberry-lime syrup to use in fun drinks for our party.
2. Finish writing my Christmas cards.
3. Attempt to make a gingerbread house from scratch.  Is this hard?  Let's watch Queer Eye Carson and Martha make one!  That will surely make it less intimidating.
4. Wrap up all the presents I've gathered so far, and try to fill in some remaining gaps. 
5. See Up in the Air or Christmas Carol.  Suggestions?!
6. Start reading Personal History by Katharine Graham for the next book club meeting.  I love book club so! 

That's probably more than enough for 36 hours.  Let's hear it for stay-at-home weekends!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift Guide: The Fresh Basil Wish List

(Clockwise from top left. Mostly under $50!)

1. Primrose slippers: somewhat embarrassing to admit, but I actually wear hand-me down slippers from my mom.  These are darling. 
2. Brooklyn umbrella: I've been using a very bright, very loud Vera Bradley umbrella for years, and let's just say it's seen better days.
3. Streamline Editor Series luggage: Peter, would you be excited to wheel that awesome pink leather-lined bag?  Yes?  Awesome.  Me too!
3. Italian floral wine glasses: These can added to the long list of things I don't need but really want.  But aren't they adorable? 
4. 2010 Calendar -- Paris: A Love Story: We're planning on going to Paris for at least part of our honeymoon, and this would be such a fun way to get excited. 
5. Flower ear warmer: I have a serious NorthFace hat for skiing, but I hate wearing it because it always falls off when I wear my fury hood. I think this would help solve the laying problem, and besides, it's much, much cuter. 
6. Lunch tote: I'm super into bringing my lunch to work everyday, and one of my New Years resolutions is seriously committing to using fewer plastic bags. 
7. Gourd bird ornaments: Maybe I have a little bird thing going on? Regardless, love these cute ornaments. 
8. The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg: I tend to find recipes very constricting; this book lists all sorts of ingredients and the things that go well with them.
9. Wii Resort: Peter keeps trying to get me to play more Wii Tiger Woods golf, but settling in for 18 holes of virtual golf is sort of intimidating.  Shuffle board sounds way more my speed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A quick little break...

...from the gift guides to just say: friends are really neat, aren't they? 

We had friends over for dinner last night that we've been trying to get together with for a while.  They are both a lot cooler than we are, and hence harder to nail down. 

They brought yummy wine and a beautiful pointsettia. For dinner, I made buttered chicken with extra butter (gluttenous!  delicious!).  I had promised them pumpkin crunch, but then didn't come through.  My sweet friend was disappointed, but tried really hard to hide it.  Neat, see? 

*   *   *

Since we've been back home after Thanksgiving, I've been feeling anxious about the holidays and wedding planning.  I want to do all the holiday activities I enjoy, like shopping for the perfect gift and decorating the house and making cookies with my Mom's old holiday cookie press.  But annoying wedding things are invading.  I'm tired of re-organizing the guest list and addressing save the date cards, when what I really want to be doing is sending Christmas cards out to our friends.

I want to be moving slowly enough to remember this season, and I already feel like all the sparkle and joy are whizzing out the window onto the snow-less sidewalk. 

All this to say, having a few dear friends come by to eat peppermint bark and chat about skiing was a really awesome way to spend an evening.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gift Guide: For Your Dad Who Can Give You Perfect Directions No Matter Where You Are

(Clockwise from the top left. Mostly under $50!)

1. A to Z Pinot Noir: fantastic light red wine, just a touch more expensive than the bottles he buys himself.
2. Snow shoes: to keep him active during the cold months.
3. Meyer lemon tree: so he can always have a slice for his water glass.
4. Wicked good moccassins: the perfect slipper. Seriously, wicked good.
5. Art of Shaving creme: to make the daily chore a little nicer.
6. Executive memo set: because his chicken scratch hand-writing needs all the help it can get.
7. Red bird feeder: to further confirm your suspition that he is, in fact, getting old -- he loves watching the birds eat every morning.
8. With a Song in My Heart, by John Pizzarelli: for when he gets tired of listening to your Mom's Michael Buble CD.
9. How Soccer Changed the World, by Franklin Foer: a really interesting look at sports and their connection to globalization. Has "Dad book" written all over it.
10. Golf club pull cart: because you know how much it pains him to spend $20 renting the golf cart every time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gift Guide: For Your Mom Who Always Listens to You Whine

(Clockwise from top left.)

1. Classic hot chocolate: to make Christmas morning even sweeter.
2. Lolita bubble bath: for a special spa-at-home day.
3. Citrus botanical hard placemats: to hurry Spring along.
4. Custom cooking classes: a gift I've given in the past; very well received!
5. French press: since she's been eyeing your French Press for months.
6. Crazy Love, by Michael Buble: because she still actually listens to CDs.
7. Saipua bouquet: to really hurry Spring along.
8. Rosa scarf: because she misses April Cornell stores way more than anyone should.
9. Hot pink golf balls: Much easier to find in the leaves than those boring white ones.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gift Guide: For Your Sister with High Expectations

(Clockwise from the top left. Mostly under $50!)

1. Tweed Throw: to spruce up that icky college apartment couch.
2. Short tailored scarf: so that she can hang on to that European chic she developed while abroad.
3. Gold vermeil custom Initial Stamped coin and birthstone or flower necklace chain: delicate and pretty, just like her.
4. Mon amour Paris : Do we need a reason to support Paris?
5. 2010 Calendar: helps her remember your birthday.
6. Get Cooking, by Molly Katzen: to expand her cooking horizons beyond mashed potatoes.
7. The Best of Everything, by Rona Jaffe: to help her prepare for the working world.
8. Hookmaker: keeps the clutter under control.
9. Chirp clock: so she's always on time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gift Guide: For that Delightful Guy in Your Life

(Clockwise from the top left. Mostly under $50!)

1. Weekend duffel: for all those wedding planning trips he's dragged on.
2. Nudo Olive Oil: You can also adopt your very own olive tree in Italy from Nudo!
3. Shadow Country, by Peter Matthiessen: comes highly recommended by my Peter.
4. Coffee grinder: so the coffee he brings you every morning in bed is super duper fresh.
5. Sephora Scent Sampler: for the indecisive, new-to-cologne guy.
6. Classic Swiss Army knife: for the all grown-up Eagle Scout.
7. Northface Coolmax Liner Socks: to keep skiing feet nice and warm.
8. Berkshire Mountain Distillery: so the gin & tonics will be in steady flow.
9. Classic cufflinks: for those French-cuff shirts his mother likes to give him.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


When we got back to New York on Sunday night, I couldn't fight the holiday decorating urge any longer. I put these cute star lights up on the mantle in our bedroom. I turn them on every morning when I'm getting ready. They cast a very flattering glow for putting make up on! And only $1.99 from Ikea!

My paper whites are in bloom. I must not have given them enough gin though, because when I came home last night, they were completely toppled over. Time to start again with new bulbs.

Happy holiday decorating to you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


There were live camels, sheep and donkeys, more high kicks than you could count, and real fireworks shot off inside Radio City.

It was magical. On the subway home, I impressed Peter with all the song and dance routines I learned from watching the Rockette's.

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