Blogmas: Christmas

The day is finally here, and I have to say: I’m excited but more so I am relieved! Blogging every day was fun to do for a month, but not something I would commit to for any longer than that. There were too many days where I posted something that was not at all up to my personal standards, but on the other hand, the requirement to post something was helpful and often inspiring, and I think I ended up with a small handful of posts that I’m incredibly proud of. If nothing else, I know what I’m capable of now, so I can more easily plan this blog for the coming year.

But hey, we made it! Christmas! Woo!

The cats were very gracious gift-getters.

My day largely orbited around cooking. Rutherford had to be sequestered since he can’t not be on the counter, but since I wasn’t cooking any meat, it didn’t rile up Di or Bart.

I stuck mostly to my menu from the other day.

I prepped a lot while the potatoes did their first bake in the oven. Lots of chopping and since I don’t do it “right,” my nails suffered for it, sadly. Also, we probably ate a little bit of nail. Ew.
Making the twice baked potatoes was a lot of fun and crazy tasty. My filling consisted of white cheddar, broccoli, butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, and paprika. Did I mention none of these foods were particularly diet conscious?
My mushroom parcels didn’t stay together in the oven which was a downer, but totally my fault because I didn’t use an egg to bind them, just butter, but they were tasty! No meat required.
Here’s our fancy spread, soda in wine glasses and all! That’s a round of brie baked into a puff pastry. It melted all out of it. Wah wah wah…
And here’s a closeup of the plate!

Just a side note: I only found out today brie isn’t actually vegetarian since it’s usually made with rennet which is gross, but also I had already bought it. I try to avoid adding parmesan to things because it’s made this way as well, but when you eat cheese you just never know. Not that cheese is kind to animals at all, but that’s a different blog and a bigger life change I’m working towards.

Last night for Christmas eve, we visited Anachostic and helped him put out luminaries which was a blast. Of course Husband and I exchanged gifts as well today, and he was very thoughtful and creative, and the cats had a ball in the paper, but Bart’s pike ruined everything because he had to eat the plastic. Then I had a nice little nap (the one I missed yesterday!) and played The Sims Medieval, an almost seven year old game that I only just got yesterday. While I did that I listed to creepy conspiracies on YouTube, and ya know, that made the day just about perfect!

Now I just need to get through two days of work, and then I’ll have five whole days off! So, while I enjoyed Blogmas terribly, I am taking a little time off (probably) so when 2018 rolls around in seven days I’ll be ready…with Vacancy! Happy Christmas! And now, my favorite Christmas song:



Blogmas: Christmas Eve!

Look, I’m not one to brag about the things I have. Thing are inconsequential in this life. We should appreciate the natural and what has been given to us by the universe. We should love life, a cool breeze, a warm smile, a good hug. But when you get a present as AWESOME as I got last night, you have to shout about it!

Rutherford, Bart, Di

Lovely couple gifted us with some extraordinary things, but these portraits of our kitties took the cake (and the cheese, and the ice cubes, and the treats, and all the things our hellspawn love). There is probably no more appropriate gift for me and Husband than this. First, it’s of the cats who we love very much and are a great source of entertainment for us. Also, they’ve been cartoon-ized which really speaks to our preference for things to never be too serious, but they’re just so well done and we have high standards for stuff (or art-stuff at least!) Finally, they were done by an independent artist on the web, Keekers, and we are both really into helping out indie brands and startups.


If Husband and I ever have a human child, we’ll have to commission another hahaha.

So here we are, Dear Reader, on the eve of Christmas. There is nothing and yet so much left to do! I braved the Xmas Eve crowds to go to Walgreens and pick up some soda for Husband because 1) I am the world’s best wife, and 2) I wanted to put something other than water in the wine glasses I intend on using tomorrow. On my plate for the rest of the day is:

Cleaning (I need this place to be photo op ready)
Menu planning (timing of oven use)
Simming (yeah this has to be scheduled in so it gets done)
Christmas Eve lunch/dinner (I’m not doing a big cook two days in a row)
A nap? (???)
And an end of the day visit to spread a little holiday cheer!

It’s already almost noon, so I fear I’m behind, but I did get in some working out and a little cleaning this morning, and Husband is up and showered, so he can contribute to the goings on. Guys, are you ready? It’s almost here!

Blogmas: Dinner

So I thought I was prepared for Christmas. Presents bought and wrapped, plans laid out, decorations and comfiness abounding, then I realized that I had no idea what we were going to eat! Husband and I have been eating out so much recently I forgot that cooking was an option and that nothing is really open on Christmas day, and I don’t really want to make someone else cook for me on Christmas. Plus, I vowed to actually do Christmas this year, and that includes a fancy dinner!

But this is also my first Christmas as a vegetarian (pescatarian, to be fair, but only like twice a month). Husband isn’t vegetarian, but he really enjoys a lot of meat-free dishes, so I put together a menu that’s going to be bangin’. I don’t usually do recipes exactly as they’re suggested (unless I’m baking), so I’ll be doing a version of the following:

Mushroom Parcels (say it like an English person, drop the “r”, it’s so much fancier)

Twice Baked Potatoes (I’m stuffing mine with broccoli too I think)

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Baked Brie/Camembert

I also bought a mini apple pie for dessert from the Publix bakery. This thing is legit adorable, just wait til you see it, But you won’t until Christmas!

It’s going to be a cheesy menu, but we will probably need it. We went to a hibachi tonight with lovely couple, and while that food is amazing, we always vacate our bowels afterwards. In fact, I’m blogging from the toilet right now! We also did a gift exchange with lovely couple, but that deserves its very own blog and, frankly, more energy than I have right now. Just know that omg it was ah-may-zing!

Blogmas: Bramas

So I know it’s the season of giving and all that, but I bought myself a present: new bras! I was really flat chested for a long time, then I put on a lot of weight, and the only thing good about that was finally having big squishy boobies. When I got back down to fighting weight this summer, I just didn’t know what to do with the old funbags. I knew I wasn’t still the “Almost A” that I was in high school, but the bras I’d gotten at the top of my weight were comically large and made me look like I was purposely wearing a shit ton of padding. I had (an still have) no interest in getting measured by some stranger in an underwear shop. Seriously, one time when I was at my heaviest I went to get new bras at like a Hanes Outlet or something, and the woman who worked there would just NOT LEAVE ME ALONE. Constant knocking on the fitting room door, checking on me while I searched the racks, asking if I wanted to be measured. Listen, lady, if I want your yellowed fingernails cupping my tatas, I’ll fucking tell you, but for now keep that measuring tape slathered in gods know how many other reluctant women’s  boob sweat far from me.

So I scoured the internet til I happened upon A Bra That Fits, and I followed those guidelines. I was shocked (SHOCKED I SAY) to read I was a 30DD. No way! Double Ds are like huge ole knockers, porn star titties, and I feel like I’m only just barely sexually dimorphic from a 13 year old boy. But I trusted the internet, as you do, and I ordered one from three different brands for a whopping $107 American. That. Is. A. Lot.

Shockingly, or not, a 30 inch band is just way too tight for me. I don’t really have much fat around my chest, but I do have, uh, what are they called? Oh, right, RIBS BONES. So I sent them back to Amazon and got my complete refund because Amazon is a boss ass bitch, and I ordered 32Ds from the same brands.

Shockingly, or not, my total was only $57 for the same thing but different sizes. Because women’s clothing is a fucking joke, and using less fabric costs more, I guess.

So why 32D and not 32DD? That’s the secret, you guys, the bra code is not at all what you think, or at least, not what I thought. A, B, C, D, DD, and so on (and there are a LOT of so ons…) are cup volumes, and the numbers are band sizes. Easy enough, right? And if the bands are numbered in inches and always the same, cups must always be the same too, right? WRONG. A 32C’s cup is not the same as a 34C’s cup which is not the same as a 36C’s cup. When the bands get bigger, the cups get smaller. So for every band size change going up in number, you must also change the cup going down, and vice versa. These are called sister sizes and they work like this:

30DD = 32D = 34C = 36B = 38A

Even though it’s a little bit complicated, it actually makes a lot of sense and totally negates my claim that women’s clothing is a fucking joke (but only bras are the exception).

So I got the 32Ds and they’re actually pretty nice. One has a cup gaping issue but I think that is due to the brand (everything I’ve read warns you that brand to brand you will find lots of differences, so I guess I’m back to women’s clothing be a fucking joke). Another’s band feels too tight still, so that might be going back, but I’m trying to break it in instead (another suggestion from the internet). And the third is pretty much perfect. I’ve found the goldilocks of bras. So while the suggested fit I got wasn’t totally spot on, it was pretty damn close, and I learned a hell of a lot about bras. If you wear a bra, you need to know these things too! So, merry Christmas, bra-wearers! Here’s your info!

Blogmas: The Longest Night

Winter begins today in the northern hemisphere, though being so close to the equator it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Tampa was a VERY balmy 70 degrees F by the time I went outside at 6:30 this morning and the high was 80. But the winter solstice is not necessarily about the cold, but about darkness, the shortest day, and the longest night.

Winter solstice falls during Yule from which most of our modern Christmas traditions come. Both holidays have a history of ghost stories and things that knock on your bedroom window in the night. Yule, like Halloween, is thought to have been a time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. The dead, or draugr (a term I’m co-opting for a fantasy novel), could walk amongst us, sometimes taking part in the Wild Hunt which, if you see, you may be spirited away to join. Glimpsing the Wild Hunt could also be prophetic of coming war.

One of the creepier accounts of this death march through the sky comes from 1127 when an abbot, Henry d’Angely, was appointed to a monastery in Britain. Apparently he was terrible and witnesses said the following went on through to Easter:

Many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The huntsmen were black, huge, and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats, and their hounds were jet black, with eyes like saucers, and horrible…and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns.

But perhaps the concept of dark, vengeful spirits is only the bastardization of a more positive procession of lost gods and goddesses through the sky, who only wish to bestow good will. Faerie folk taking to the sky, welcoming the rebirth of the sun.

While a horde of demonic hunters is pretty frightening, what chills me a bit more is the concept of The Stranger. During Yule, you may be visited by an entity, wearing a human visage or perhaps not, seeking shelter. Accounts report The Stranger being met in the street, looking mostly like a man, but not quite. Sure, he wears the clothes, the skin, even the smile, but there’s something hollow there, something missing. That’s The Need, and he is searching for someone to help fill a void.

Other stories tell of an incessant rapping at the door or window, but no form on the other side when answered. You’re advised to invite the unseen into your home, offer it a place at your table and a means to keep warm that night. In this case, opening your heart to the wandering may bring you luck. Good or bad, I’m unsure.

Tomorrow, the days begin to grow, the sun is reborn, and though half of the world will plunge into the coldest weather it will see all year, the promise of spring is on the horizon. But tonight we’re in that limbo, and if you linger long enough at a crossroads or in a doorway, be sure to try and catch a glimpse of the other side. Or not.

For me, well, the cats keep mulling about the front door and cocking their ears at a sound I can’t quite make out. At least, I don’t think I can. So I’m off to investigate.

Blogmas: 5 Last Minute Gift Ideas

I’ve thankfully finished all of my Christmas shopping with four days to spare, but I know not everybody is quite so lucky. To help out those poor, unfortunate souls with no idea what to get their spouse, coworkers, or other obligatory gift recipient, I’ve put together a list of five gifts you already have in your own home just waiting to be given to that lucky someone in your life. How convenient is that?

IMG_20171220_195406069Festive Diamond Sphere Decor

Imagine gifting a loved one with a beautiful globe of precious, shining gems they can place upon their Christmas tree. They may not even be able to discern that this fancy-shmancy looking ornament is nothing more than a ball of tinfoil, tightly packed by your own hands and impaled on one of the hooks you found unceremoniously one night with your bare feet while trudging to the bathroom, wondering how the fuck you didn’t find it two weeks ago when you packed away the unused decorations. Bonus if you’ve wrapped something up inside. Doesn’t matter what, everyone enjoys a surprise. I’ve put an old baby carrot in mine. It’s symbolic of the baby Jesus. Bonus to the bonus, this can be used as a cat toy!

IMG_20171220_195039887_BURST000_COVER_TOPHair Ribbons

We’ve all got a girly-girl to bequeath with a gift this season, but why get her the same old pink things she probably already owns when you can give her a hand-crafted, upcycled, laundry-chic accessory? Two used dryer sheets and a little knotting skill, and you’ve got an A+ gift that will have the whole world asking “Who is she?” and “Why does she smell so good?” (A valid question when someone’s wearing trash in their hair.) As a plus, your gift receiver can use this to play with her cats too!


IMG_20171220_195223877Best Friend Forever

Every child wants to wake up to a puppy under the tree on Christmas morning, but not every parent wants to wake up to a puppy piddle puddle where the tree used to be every morning after that. A good alternative is gifting the child in your life a pet that requires next to no responsibilities: a pet rock. Check your front or backyards, your giftee’s new best friend is certainly already out there, just waiting to be adopted. And if the giftee already has a cat, it won’t feel intimidated or bullied by Rocky.

IMG_20171220_195625029Sportball 5000 XG Turbo Pain Reliever

Active people. We’ve all got one in our lives, running from here to there, wearing tight clothes, eating a salad like they’re some kind of fucking rabbit. But they’re actually people, and you can probably hand off a gift to them as they jog on by. The Sportball 5000 XG Turbo Pain Reliever utilizes revolutionary crystalline hydrogen dioxide technology enwrapped in a patented malleable containment field. Applied directly to any spot of discomfort instantly relieves inflammation and pain, and will leave your gift receiver with a smile of pure satisfaction. This gift is also transformative! Sometimes you’re just lifting too heavy to take a break, and before you know it you need to hydrate and do it now! Drink up on demand with the S5XGTPR as it converts into an emergency hydration packet. Your cat can also utilize the Turbo Pain Reliever, albeit not for very long.

IMG_20171220_195817925A World of Possibilities

Chances are, you managed to actually purchase a gift for someone, at the very least you snagged something for yourself on black Friday, and you probably have the empty box from that purchase lying around. Well, wrap that baby up and hand it off! No, don’t put anything inside it, trust me. This can go one of three ways:

  1. They open the box, find nothing inside, then you tell them you’ve given them the most precious gift of all: time. When they don’t understand that right away, explain that the time they would have spent utilizing a gift from you can now be spent on something else–whatever they want, in fact. Tell them they are so very welcome as they will be too astounded at your genius to remember to thank you.
  2. They open the box, find nothing inside, then you scream “Oh my _insert_diety_here_! Where is…how did…what in the world? It was there! Right there, I tell you!” The receiver will undoubtedly get caught up in your flabbergastment, most likely to the point they will forget to even ask what it was you had boxed up, but in the unlikely event that they do question you, insist it was the absolute most perfect gift, specifics are unnecessary and, in fact, would only sadden them since they don’t have the gift now. If they give you any kind of skeptical look, immediately go on the defensive, “What? You think I just wrapped up an empty box and gave it to you? What kind of monster do you think I am? How very dare you!”
  3. They open the box, find nothing inside, then thank you profusely for getting them the perfect gift for their cat.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of last minute gifts. You are so very welcome.

Edit: Omigosh I forgot the music! I am so sorry, Dear Reader. To make up for it, please enjoy The Boss sliding down your chimney:

Blogmas: The One With A Christmas Special

I talked about Friends very briefly today and that got me thinking about one of my favorite things about the holidays: TV specials. Nowadays (boy do I hate that word), TV comes at you all at once so you can binge watch it, so the holiday special might be dying off. This would make me sad if I still watched TV, I guess, but I also realize that everything evolves, and shit can’t stay the same just because I like it that way, goddammit!

But we’ll always have the holiday special of yore. No, not those ones with the music and the variety–who cares about those?? I mean the ones that matter, you know, the ones I like, where your favorite sitcom would do a Halloween or Christmas episode (or sometimes even a musical).

Friends is my favorite sitcom and my favorite Christmas episode is probably S02E09, “The One with Phoebe’s Dad.” I always felt very akin to Phoebe (and you can fuck right off, Buzzfeed, with that “you’re a Mike!” bullshit). Like a lot of sitcoms in the 90s, the characters are a bit extreme and you can find a part of yourself in all of them, but I think I have the most in common with Feebs. No, I never lived on the street, I don’t have an estranged twin on Mad About You, a bum’s never spit in my mouth, but I do both play acoustic guitar and sing really terribly, am vegetarian, and I spent a long stretch of my life not knowing who my father was.

So, first of all, in this episode specifically, Phoebe tells everyone “Happy Christmas Eve Eve” which is just fucking cute, so I needed to get that out of the way. Then she grabs a picture frame that Ross purchased to give to his parents from Ben that currently has a stock photo of a man in it. She says, “Where did you get this? This is my father, this is a picture of my dad!” The audience laughs because Phoebe is a fucking weirdo and haha she’s so dumb thinking that stock actor is her dad! After Chandler tells her “that’s the guy that comes in the frame” and Rachel questions how Phoebe has never been on Oprah because her step-dad is in jail and her biological dad left her mom before she was born (because that’s such an uncommon thing for men to do, right?), Phoebe shows them a photo her mother gave her of the same guy, but it’s obviously stock as well. She has an epiphanous moment and goes off to speak to her grandmother (since her mom is dead–there’s a lot of tragic backstory).

When she talks to her grandma, she gets the truth out of her. Frances confesses, “It was your mother’s idea, you know, she didn’t want you to know your real father because it hurt her so much when he left, and I didn’t want to go along with it, but then she died and it was harder to argue with her. Not impossible, but harder.”

Phoebe has to quickly come to terms with the fact that her father isn’t a famous tree surgeon and doesn’t live in a hut in Burma where there are no phones. Phoebe is easily characterized on the surface as dumb or naive, but she understands the truth fairly quickly despite having believed her father was the stock photo guy for years. Of course, not that much character development can happen in 22 minutes, I get that, but from having experienced something at least a little similar, I like to think what’s going on here is that she always knew the truth, but it just didn’t slap her in the face until the moment it came out of her own mouth. Of course the stock photo guy was never her father, but she didn’t want to have to admit it because the alternative–not knowing at all–is much worse.

I got info on my biological father from my grandma as well, and it took me years to work up the courage to ask. I didn’t believe my dad was a stock photo guy, I knew explicitly that I didn’t know him at all and no one ever volunteered any information on him, not even a terrible lie, but I certainly made up stories in my head about who he was, and that was a big part of why asking about him was so scary. I’d created multiple fantasies that were all undoubtedly superior to the truth. Even the scenarios where he was a villain (these, admittedly, prevailed) were preferable to whatever the truth was because I could control them and they were easy. They were black and white, and my feelings could be written in short, simple sentences, even single words. The truth is messy and complex, and no one wants to live that.

Phoebe’s grandma tells her she’s “better off without him” which everyone loves to tell you. I won’t even get into this, but fuck is it patronizing to tell someone this. Just don’t do it. Even if you’ve been in the “same” situation, no one can know what any other person is truly going through, so fuck off with that. It takes a whole new scene for Frances to fess up that she knows even more about the father: his exact address.

As an aside: When Phoebe gets the address and the keys to her grandma’s cab and goes to leave on her quest to find her dad, she quips. “Wish me luck, Grandpa!” to a photo of Albert Einstein that her grandma keeps by the front door. It’s played for laughs, and I’m sure this wasn’t the intention, but it’s an interesting layer to add that Phoebe’s grandmother was likely also knocked up and walked out on.

Phoebe takes Chandler and Joey with her on the drive (their B, or maybe C, story is that they haven’t purchased any Christmas presents yet despite that it’s Christmas Eve and she plans to take them to the outlet mall after the “about two hours” Chandler thinks she’ll need with her biological father–ha). She’s really excited about the prospect of meeting her dad. It’s here where she and I differ. But then she freezes and can’t do it. And so I find my spirit animal again.

She runs back and forth to the house a couple times once they park outside it. Joey asks her what’s going on (he is the dumb one, after all) and the following occurs:

Phoebe: It’s just like a whole mess of stuff. Like yesterday, my dad was the whole Burma tree surgeon guy and now, ya know, he’s a pharmacist guy and…

Joey: Well, maybe he’s this really cool pharmacist guy.

Phoebe: Yeah, maybe! And maybe I’ll knock on the door and he’ll hug me, and…I’ll have a dad! And I’ll go to his pharmacy and everyone will be really nice to me because, ya know, I’m Frank’s daughter.

Chandler: So why not go knock?

Phoebe: Well because what if…what if he’s not this great dad guy? I mean, what if, what if he’s just still the dirtbag who ran out on my mom and us?

Joey: Yeah.

Phoebe: Ya know what, I’ve already lost a fake dad this week, and I don’t think I’m ready to lose a real one.

First of all, the acting in this scene is phenomenal for a sitcom. There were a lot of forced jokes and dumb remarks on Friends, like most 90s sitcoms, but the show had a charm to it that was unique to its time. The characters poked fun at one another and did stupid things, but they appeared to love one another, and they had real struggles that the writers treated carefully. Everything wasn’t always tied into a neat bow at the end. It got popular for a while to rewatch old sitcoms and talk about how problematic they were and how easy it was to hate all the characters because they were so terrible, but in rewatching this, I don’t find that to be true at all. Even Ross was likeable in this episode!

So ultimately Phoebe chickens out which I have done SO MANY TIMES, but everyone loves her anyway, and the conclusion she comes to is acceptable for the audience, her friends, and most importantly to her. It’s also convenient because it allows the writers to bring this plot back later on, but we’ll forget about that for right now.

This episode isn’t really about Christmas so much as it is about Phoebe, but Christmas is a great backdrop to her story. When the holidays come around everyone loves to talk about family, this concept that’s pretty foreign to some people in the sense that others like to consider it. I don’t think family is a list of people who are related to you. Honestly, blood relation means nothing, obviously, when it can be walked away from so easily. What matters is who sticks around and who puts you first and loves you. And maybe that’s what Christmas is about too.

During the credits scene, Joey and Chandler hand out the makeshift gifts they got for everyone at the gas station since they didn’t get their shopping done. While Rachel, Ross, and Monica sarcastically accept the car wipers, soda, and condoms they respectively received, Phoebe is genuinely excited about the toilet seat covers she’s given. Again, it’s played to highlight her naiveté. Oh, harhar, these boys were thoughtless and you bought into that! But there’s a better analysis of that exchange, at least better in my eyes. Phoebe had a great many Christmases where she got nothing, and any gift would mean the world to her. Chandler and Joey had already given her the support she needed in the car–they didn’t care that they couldn’t ultimately go shopping because she couldn’t make up her mind to go in or not, and they listened to her and accepted the decision she made. And then, AND THEN, on top of that, they did give her something tangible after all. It was all more than she expected, and more than she probably felt she deserved.

And now, please enjoy this somewhat musical clip from a totaly different episode.