Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Living Inside A Snow Globe

On this the Eve of the New Year my world is being blanketed by the pure driven snow. Mother Nature is giving me the gift of a blank slate as she purifies my surroundings. What a way to end and begin a year. I guess it is the way human life begins and ends as well. Blame my "deep" thoughts on the deep snow. For now I am living inside a snow globe and its a dream come true.

The views from my windows...

Here's to starting fresh and new beginnings in 2009!

CJane Inspire

NieNie's sister reflects on 2008 and looks forward to 2009 here.

Vegan Cupcake Tour

This is my 100th post. It is only fitting that there be cupcakes to celebrate the milestone.

On Monday my friend and fellow vegan, Tanya, and my husband (not vegan) and I went on a Vegan Cupcake Tour. On the recommendation of Cupcakes Take The Cake we set out to visit Kick *ss Cupcakes in Somerville's Davis Square and Sweet Cupcakes on Mass. Ave. in Boston.

Kick *ss was, well, kick *ss! Incredibly friendly people, interesting flavors, and scrumptious cupcakes for humans and pets alike. They have a new vegan flavor every few months. If I had to find a drawback, it would have to be the seating. There are only three stools at a small counter by the window which worked out fine as the three of us were the only ones there. In the summer this isn't an issue because there are plenty of places to sit outside, but right now it is chilly. Don't let the seating deter you, though. They are happy to makeup amazing, smoosh-free to go boxes and, according to Tanya's husband, the cupcakes taste just as amazing at home.

I took pictures! Yippee for my new camera :-)

My Vegan Cinna Punk (Tanya had one, too)

Mr. B&B's Chocolate Mocha

For Kitties

For Puppies

For People

Gluten Free!

Just in the mood for frosting?

Kick *ss Cupcakes ended up being our only successful stop as we arrived at Sweet only to find a note in the window stating that they were closed for the day due to electricity issues. So, we peeked in the window and just stood staring in the window, awed by the gorgeous interior with the amazing pink velvet booth and shiny silver and pink vintage'y' wall paper. It was like going back in time. In time we will go back. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #143 - I believe...

When I saw this prompt I immediately thought of my sister-in-law who's one word motto is "Believe" and who's room is plastered with said motto AND I thought of the song Belief by Gavin DeGraw.

My sister-in-law believes, says what she believes, lives what she believes, and so much good comes into her life as a result.

"Belief makes things real, makes things feel, feel alright. Belief makes things true." - Gavin DeGraw

Stating your beliefs is brave. You make yourself vulnerable. People have died due to their beliefs or in the name of their beliefs.

Here goes my act of bravery for the day...

I believe...
love of all kinds matters most.

animals deserve respect, are not for eating, and should not be exploited for the entertainment of humans.

in holding hands, especially when your angry, because it reminds you of your bond.

little things and gestures go a long way.

formal education does not equal intelligence.

in dancing to your own drummer.

in following your own path even if it is a long and winding road.

change is the only constant so work on being flexible and adaptable.

in finding the magic in every day.

in finding the good in even the gravest situation.

when you get down to it, at our base, we are all the same.

you get the most by giving.

forgiving is good for the forgiven, but best for the forgiver.

we should listen more and talk less.

the child inside never leaves you no matter how much you may have neglected it.

in being spontaneous.

in always seeking balance.

tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it...yet. (Anne of Green Gables)

mistakes are a means of learning.

sometimes a good book and a cup of tea solve everything.

in giving people the benefit of the doubt.

in always being open to possibility.

in believing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

1:50 a.m. Thoughts

It is 1:50 a.m. and I can't sleep. Insomnia, a blessing or a curse? I'm not sure, but it visits me on occasion and if I charted it, it probably happens at least once every three months. This night/morning, thanks to insomnia I have discovered Shutter Sisters, visited twitter peeps nests, begun experimenting with watercolor pencils in my newly created art journal, got to wondering about a certain poet/artist I only sort of know and would like to know better, and began reading through this awesome cookbook. Maybe if I did not do things to energize my brain when I have insomnia, I would be better able to sleep, but laying in bed wide awake for 40 minutes is more than enough for me... I would rather be productive.

I have a feeling I am going to read this post some time much later today and quite possibly regret posting my ramblings.

Wii Fit is remarkable. When I asked for it for Christmas I wasn't sure if it would work or if I would stick with it, but I knew it was quite nippy here in New England and I no longer had the motivation to go next door and shoot hoops in the park. I also knew that if I joined a gym I would find every excuse not to go. So, I asked for Wii Fit and it was under the Christmas Tree. I have been using it for the past two days and have the compulsive urge to use it right now, but my husband who does not have insomnia would most likely not appreciate my running in place on our wood floors. Wii Fit is FUN! So fun that I have worked out for more than an hour each day. There are Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobic Exercises, and Balance Exercises. As you improve, you unlock additional exercises in each category. Sun salutations, alternating push-ups and side planks, Hula Hooping, tightrope walking all in my own living room! And it WORKS, just ask my abs, thighs, glutes, and upper arms. Still, in all of my soreness, I can't wait to hop on the balance board for the third day in a row and practice my warrior pose, rowing squats, advanced step-aerobics, and ski jumping. Who knew working out, trying to shed 25-30 pounds, could be so entertaining?

Digital Camera. I have woefully been without one for three days short of a year. We have received our refund, but it will not be put towards a camera. Why? Santa took care of that, too! I have been snapping away, but have not yet learned how to transfer photos from the camera to the computer. Easy Schemeasy I have no doubt, but still I must learn. Hopefully Mr. B&B will help me out when he wakes up today and I can get some holiday and other photos posted. Being without a camera for a year was difficult, but looking back there were positives as well. Instead of capturing the moments on film, I was able to be in the moment and capture the little moments in my heart. This year brought perspective into my life and taught me that as a photographer you need to not only capture moments on film, but in your heart and that you have to have heart to capture those moments on film. Can't wait to delve back in to photography and share that journey with all of you.

Pillow. In my 27 years, I have never had a brand new pillow. Instead, I inherited pillows from others. Like other families pass down hand-me-down clothing, our family passed down hand-me-down pillows. On Christmas morning, for the first time in my life, I received a brand new, still in the packaging, crisp white pillow. It is so comfortable and smells fresh and is already melding perfectly to my neck and head. It is the little things that bring joy, I'm telling you... Still, I have insomnia and am not sleeping on my pillow, but hugging it to my chest while I type. Odd.

Do you ever find yourself thinking and wondering about someone you didn't realize was on your mind? I do. Right now that person is a poet/artist I know, but don't really know and would like to know better. We've crossed paths on a few occasions and every time I have been blown away by this person's kindness, creative capabilities and ability to completely capture my attention in every way. This person is unflinchingly honest in all artistic pursuits and always seems to present an authentic self from clothing to conversation to art. To me that is just so beautiful.

If you are ever up at 1:50 in the morning and looking for some entertainment, check out Twitter. Talk about a cross-section of the world's population! Informative, entertaining, inspirational, laugh out loud funny, talented... Hours of mindless entertainment.

OK, enough rambling. If you stayed with me through this whole post, I am sure it cannot have been easy and I thank you. To not only spare me from my insomnia, but also spare you more of these early morning ramblings, please leave a comment detailing your sleep remedies. Many thanks! and Sweet Dreams <3

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Meme Express - Fruitcake

Do you like fruitcake?
I do like fruitcake, but I much prefer the Italian equivalent, Panettone. I haven't had it in a long time because it is not vegan, but I used to have it on Christmas Eve at my Mom's best friend's celebration.

Did you give or receive a fruitcake for Christmas?

Have you ever baked a fruitcake?


Do you have a fruitcake recipe to share?
I am interested in trying this vegan raw fruitcake recipe.

Have you ever actually eaten a fruitcake?


Visit Meme Express here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have Yourself a MerNie Little Christmas

Four months ago Christian and Stephanie Nielson were severely burned in a plane crash. Out of that crash hope was born, community was born, a stronger belief in miracles was born. Christian (burned over approx. 30% of his body) and Stephanie (burned over approx. 85% of her body) survived, continue to heal, are rehabilitating their bodies, and are supported not only by their families but by their community in Mesa, Arizona and Provo, Utah and all across the blog world from places as far away as Australia.

Their family has been with them through it all showing solidarity, strength, hope, all the while spreading their story. Through spreading their story they have showed thousands of people an incredible example of what family can be and what is possible with hope, love, and prayer. In their time of need they have continued to give whether they recognize it or not. Stephanie's sister Courtney, a new mother herself, took in Stephanie's three oldest children, her sister Lucy took in her youngest child, and together they make sure the children see each other every day. After consulting with Christian, Stephanie's sister Paige bought a house for Stephanie, Christian and the children very close to Stephanie's family in anticipation of the help Stephanie will need and her sisters want to be there to give when she is well enough to come home from the medical facility. As evidenced by Courtney's blog, in spite of everything, the children are happy and are still being allowed to be normal, well adjusted children without adult worries or adult responsibilities and that is wonderful and thrilling to me and a testament to their family.

Their faith is evidenced in all that they do, but most obviously through their simple request for prayers. The strength of faith is most obvious when tested. The Nielson's and Clark's have most certainly been tested, but seem not to have wavered. Instead they seem to have leaned on their faith and each other to help them through and help them remain positive. I do not even know them, but when they Fasted and asked others to fast for Stephanie and Christian, I did. I also find myself saying little prayers a various times of day when people come to mind. The example set by Christian and Stephanie's family caused me to begin volunteering my time with two organizations which is something I have always wanted to do, but have put on the back burner in the past. Faith is powerful and the Nielson's and Clark's have reminded me and reinforced that truth for me.

Family and Faith. One could not ask for more. The Nielson's and Clark's are a testament to that. This holiday season, especially with all of the economic concerns, I think it is important to remember what really matters. Family and Faith.

A ginormous thank you and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the Nielson's and Clark's and all of you in Blogville.

To read more about this remarkable family visit CJane, Lizzy Writes, and AliceKind.

To see the still recovering Stephanie's Posts of Christmases Past click here, here (December 2005, scroll through for lots of posts), here, here (December 2006, scroll through for lots of posts), here (December 2007, scroll for lots of posts), and here.

CJane posted photos of Christmas 2008 on NieNie's blog here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #142 - Late

"Sunday Scribblings was set up to provide inspiration and motivation for anyone who enjoys writing and would like a weekly challenge." This weeks prompt is "Late".

"Late" was not allowed when I was growing up. My mother always had us up and ready to go with plenty of time to spare before we had to get to where we were going. Often we were 15 minutes early, never less than 10 minutes early. I understand early. I know how to wait patiently. I know how to occupy myself when I am waiting. Even now I rarely go anywhere without a book to read and never go anywhere with a notebook & pen for writing. My mother taught me that being early or, at the very least, on time, shows respect for the person(s) you are meeting and demonstrates your reliability and sense of responsibility. Oh, and if something unforeseen happens you call, explain, and let those waiting for you know you are getting there as fast as you can. These "unforeseen circumstances" should happen very rarely because you should be giving yourself more than enough time (i.e. be accounting for unforeseen circumstances) to get your destination on time at the very least. "Late" was not allowed.

Fast forward to now. I am married to someone who grew up much differently. He is much more "loose" about time. He assumes wherever he is going people will forgive him for being 10, 15, even 30 (perhaps more) minutes late. He runs on the belief that everyone will understand. He does not view being late as even a small indiscretion. We have had to come to an understanding about time. If we are going to see my family or going to and event we have been invited to due to my activities, we leave when I want to leave. When we go to see his family or go to an event we were invited to due to his activities, we leave when he wants to leave. It works most of the time, but can sometimes get a bit complicated if we are going to visit joint-friends. Our joint-friends know that if I am coming alone I will be on time, but if my husband and I are coming together they can expect tardiness of some sort.

While I appreciate the lessons my mother taught me, I also appreciate having the husband I do. Being with my husband has helped me to loosen up a little bit about time. Instead of leaving a 30 or forty-five minute "cushion" of time when I go some where, I tend to leave a 15 minute cushion (unless we are going somewhere new). I have learned to be more in the moment which helps me enjoy and appreciate every minute more. I believe I am beginning to find a healthy balance when it comes to time.

I leave you with an interesting tidbit: While I can become crazy over being late to every day appointments, I am very relaxed about how long it takes to accomplish certain goals and milestones along my life path. Case in point: I am twenty-seven and still working toward my bachelor's degree. What does this say about me?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rockin' Robin Tweet, Tweet, Tweet...

If Bobby Day only knew what "tweet" would come to mean when he wrote the song Rockin' Robin in 1958...

I am referring to Twitter where I began "tweeting" not a week ago. If you have not heard of Twitter, check it out here. I am still learning the lingo and protocol myself, but it is pretty fun and can be a bit addictive. Basically, it is a "mini-blog", but you are aloud only 140 words per "tweet" ("post" in the big blog world)to get your thoughts and point across. You can also reply to the tweets of others. It is a nice challenge and the Twitter community is a friendly and eclectic lot. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, click on the link at the bottom of BeTwitterful in the column to the right below "Blog Archive" and above "Brainy and Beautiful Followers". If you would just like to visit my "nest" on Twitter, click here. If you would like to start tweeting, sign up here.

"Every little swallow, every chickadee
Every little bird in the tall oak tree
The wise old owl, the big black crow
Flapping them wings sayin' go bird go"
~ Bobby Day ~

Dads Were Kids Once

This holiday season I have been thinking a lot about this time of year really being for the children and how important it is to make it as fun for children as possible. I even posted about it on my other blog Notes on Nannying here.

My dad publishes a weekly newspaper in his neck of the woods called My Backyard. Every week he writes a column titled From the Publisher's Desk. This week he recalled holiday memories of yore and I found it delightful. Even at 27 years old it can be hard to imagine my parents as children so this glimpse into my father's childhood is such a treat. It also made me realize how strongly our childhood holiday memories stay with us as we age (my Dad is nearly sixty-six). For this reason and many others, making the holidays as special as possible for the children is so very important. Read my dad's column here.

Happy Holidays!

Queen of Snow Removal

Though I have always thought it would be a worth while experience, I have never lived alone. My freshman year at Emmanuel College I was never without a roommate. My sophomore year, spent at Bridgewater State College, I lived with my mom's best friend who had an empty nest and lived near campus. Then I lived with my parents again and shortly after that moved out to live with my best friend and her family while I searched for a job. After three months, I found a full-time job and moved in with my aunt and her family who lived closer to my place of employment. Three months later, it was back to my parents house for a year or so and then off to live with my then-boyfriend now-husband. I have never lived alone, but I am prone to wondering if I could. Am I capable of caring for myself? Would I be able to take care of home repairs? Would the bathroom ever get cleaned? Would I be organized enough to make sure the car got its oil change every 3.000 miles? What if there was a natural disaster?

Well, the answer to my last question came this weekend. Here in Massachusetts it snowed Friday afternoon through Sunday night. Mr. B&B was away in New Mexico until Saturday night leaving me to brave the storm alone. I awoke Saturday and set to work. Bundled up in several layers of warmness and a faux-fur lined hat with ear flaps, I began the clean-up.
First, clear the front porch of snowdrifts.
Second, clear the stairs and lay down eco-friendly ice melt.
Third, the front walk and sidewalk.
Forth, and most difficult, remove mound of plow droppings from end of driveway.
Fifth, clear the driveway.
Admittedly, when I had cleared half the driveway, the upstairs neighbors came out to help. Lyle walked to the gas station with the gas can, came back and mixed the eco-friendly oil with the gas, filled the snowblower with said mixture, and snowblew the rest of the snow against the fence. Thank you Lyle!
Finally, shovel out and clean off car.

When I finished, I felt such a sense of accomplishment and inwardly dubbed myself the Queen of Snow Removal. The mailman was pretty proud of me, too, and thankful that I had cleared a path to the front door. I saw lots of adolescent children wandering around the neighborhood with shovels, but I must have looked like I knew what I was doing because none of them offered assistance. The pups and their people were out and about barking their approval, too.

Though I was only alone for part of the storm, I was still alone and not only survived, but also did what needed to be done. I also learned that one is never really and truly alone when they have neighbors.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Never Underestimate the Power of the Nie

I am always talking about NieNie and her family and spreading their story to anyone who will listen. This complete stranger and her amazing family have totally changed and captivated me and many others. I am so thankful to them for their honesty and willingness to be so open with so many strangers about so many very personal things.

Latest update?

It looks like Nie's latest skin graft is taking. Thanks for any prayers and positivity you may have sent the Nielson's way. Keep it coming <3

What I Mean to V

We had our end of session ceremony at Teen Voices tonight. Mentors read paragraphs they had written to their mentees and vice versa.

This is what one of my mentees, V, had to say about me:

From the day my phone rung, I have always liked you. It wasn't when we first met, or when we chuckled during mentoring, it was the minute you said Hi. We were talking for about 20 minutes and I didn't even know you. I was already amazed by the person you were, and the spirit you always carry. I treasured learning about you, and the journey you've experienced; especially what you do in school and your life at home - you truly do inspire me. i don't know who, out of the two-was most excited. The excitement never wore off, and you have been such a help on numerous things. I've not only gained knowledge, but a college friend! I love the fact that you're always smiling, no matter the day. it reminds me to be more like you. You are someone who should be celebrated, not only for your work but for your heart, I hope i have more than today to commemorate. Love always, V-

I just want to be sure to say that I am not posting V---'s paragraph to toot my own horn. I am posting it because I do not know how to express what a joy it has been to mentor at Teen Voices and to be part of the lives of these incredible teen girls. So, maybe by reading their words, you can begin to understand. Maybe it will inspire you to pursue your own volunteer interests or spark a volunteer interest you did not know you had.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Mean to A

We had our end of session ceremony at Teen Voices tonight. Mentors read paragraphs they had written to their mentees and vice versa.

This is what one of my mentees, A, had to say about me:

Saturday morning I woke up waiting for your call, not knowing who you were but still anticipating. 9:30, checked my phone, still no call. 10:00, checked it again, still no call. Hours later, checked my phone, OH NO! A missed call from an unknown number. Could it be you? Yes! There's a message: "hi a-, its your mentor Alex, if you coule give me a call back that would be great. Thanx."
Yay! You finally called. I called you back excited to talk to you.
At orientation we learned about first impressions. Guess what? You passed. You made a great first impression. You were funny, and mellow, and just down to earth. When I finally met you that Tuesday in person, you brought us little welcome baggies. Thank you again.
Working with you here has been a very appreciative experience. You may not know it, but I learned a lot from you. You were always somewhat insightful, and fun to talk to. We could talk to you about anything. You always ask us how our days are going and if we were frustrated you allowed us to vent before beginning. you were very understanding. i also found your life very interesting, and I can say that we have something in common that I can relate to.
Soooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Stay sweet, and I love youuuuu!
Thank you for everything.

I just want to be sure to say that I am not posting A---'s paragraph to toot my own horn. I am posting it because I do not know how to express what a joy it has been to mentor at Teen Voices and to be part of the lives of these incredible teen girls. So, maybe by reading their words, you can begin to understand. Maybe it will inspire you to pursue your own volunteer interests or spark a volunteer interest you did not know you had.

What I Mean to K

We had our end of session ceremony at Teen Voices tonight. Mentors read paragraphs they had written to their mentees and vice versa.

This is what one of my mentees, K, had to say about me:

Alex, OMGEEE Alex, what to say about Alex. I remember when I first talked to you on the phone and you sounded like you were 5. I was like who did Saun pair me up with, and then, when I seen you in person, you looked like you were 18. When V---, A---, and I asked you how old you are and you told us that you were 27, we were all bugged eyed because you look so young. Thankfully you acted it, too. You are a great mentor, from the moments that my group and i were being lazy to the times that we were all amped about working. You even took us to BK, and paid. Whenever one of us needed help, and we know how often that was, you helped us no matter what. I can talk to you about anything, and it was weird because if we came in, as soon as you saw us, you knew our mood. I am thankful to work with you because you were very caring and thoughtful when it came to one of us. Thank you, Alex, for everything that you did for me. Yours truly, K---!!!

I just want to be sure to say that I am not posting K---'s paragraph to toot my own horn. I am posting it because I do not know how to express what a joy it has been to mentor at Teen Voices and to be part of the lives of these incredible teen girls. So, maybe by reading their words, you can begin to understand. Maybe it will inspire you to pursue your own volunteer interests or spark a volunteer interest you did not know you had.

What My Mentees Mean to Me

This afternoon into the evening was my final mentoring session with my three Teen Voices girls. It was cut short because, due to an impending snow storm, the Teen Voices staff decided to move up our appreciation ceremony scheduled for tomorrow evening to this evening. The girls and I got two hours of work done in forty-five minutes time. A.MAZE.ING. So incredibly proud of them!!!!!

So, the ceremony consisted of speeches by the Editor-In-Chief and staff of Teen Voices. The teen girls gave "shout outs" to people they have become close to and spoke about Teen Voices in general. The heart of the ceremony was when the girls read paragraphs they had written to their mentors and the mentors read paragraphs they had written to their girls. I didn't cry, but you better believe there were lots and lots of hugs.

I will post their paragraphs about me individually later.

This is what I had to say to them (names have been protected):

I was blessed with three mentees. When this all started I knew their names, now I like to think I know even just a little piece of their hearts. _______________________________________________________________________
K---. NOT K---. K---. And, if you can’t get it right, K--- will do. Respect, y’all. Original name for an original young lady.

Original because you were the first one I met on our first day.

Original because I don’t know any other ladies who successfully rock the suspenders and pearls and polkadots all at once.

Original because I’ve never heard anyone rap out thoughts and feelings on stage quite the way you did at the Teen Voices spoken word event.

Original because there is not another person who sees the world exactly as you do which is why I hope you continue to share your point of view through writing and photography. Don’t hold back or ever let anyone hold you back from your creative expressions. You have a gift and you would be doing a disservice to the universe if you let anything or anyone get in the way of it. Live your dream.

You always worked hard, but there were times when your silence caused me wonder how interested you really were. As soon as doubt crossed my mind you would do something to show me otherwise. Actions sometimes speak louder than words and I loved that you often reminded me of that. Thank you for always keeping things interesting just by being yourself.
A---. Not A---. A---. As she says, “Good-ness, get it right people.” Unique name for a unique young woman.

A young women who prefers to work leaning over the table or laying on the ground rather than sitting down.

A young women who loves the word “lothario”.

A young women who thinks and speaks at warp speed and then calls me out when it is obvious by my reply that I only sort of understood half of what she was saying.

A young woman who, during a somewhat confusing conversation about the location of Planned Parenthood, once asked, “Wait? What? They moved the building? Where’d they put it?”

A---, you are amazingly, unfalteringly aware of what you want, where you are going, and how you are going to get there. Hold on to that. Stay confident and determined. The world better watch out, step back, get out the way because you have so much to give, so much to teach, and, when you are done, it will be a better place because you were here. There is nothing you cannot accomplish. You will take, you are in the process of taking, the world by storm. No doubt, you will blow us all away!
V---. No name confusion here, but a remarkable Miss. nonetheless.

Miss. Conscientious.

Miss. Perfectionist.

Miss. Independent.

Miss. Calls Me Miss.

V---, I admire your willingness to speak honestly about what is on your mind, is going on in your life, without fear of how others might react. It is refreshing and I know that I have benefited from your willingness to share. It is beautiful. You are beautiful. As far as work goes, thank you for keeping everyone on task and staying focused when it would have been just as easy and maybe more fun to fall off the wagon into silly oblivion. Your seriousness and obvious desire to work hard completing the tasks on any given day helped me keep it together. Your honesty and work ethic will get you far. Miss. V---, you are beauty inside and out!

To all three of you,
I will miss gummy fruit snacks, gathering around one computer to “do it together”, and nagging you about saving your sources. I will miss exchanging big hugs, leaning over your shoulders every five minutes asking how things are going, and telling you how wonderful you are. I am so grateful for your trust, honesty, hard work, and openness to possibilities during our work together. I loved each and every minute. I love each and every one of you. And though I have said it again and again and again I must say it once more. I am so very proud of you and you should be extremely proud of yourselves! Round of applause for K---, A---, and V---!!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. - Doris Day

TangoBaby posted her results to the quiz Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn? or someone else? Mad Men Era Female Icon Quiz

I am a Doris Day.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Doris!


You are a Doris -- "I must help others."

Dorises are warm, concerned, nurturing, and sensitive to other people's needs.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.

  • * Share fun times with me.

  • * Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.

  • * Let me know that I am important and special to you.

  • * Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.

In Intimate Relationships

  • * Reassure me that I am interesting to you.

  • * Reassure me often that you love me.

  • * Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.

What I Like About Being a Doris

  • * being able to relate easily to people and to make friends

  • * knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better

  • * being generous, caring, and warm

  • * being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings

  • * being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor

What's Hard About Being a Doris

  • * not being able to say no

  • * having low self-esteem

  • * feeling drained from overdoing for others

  • * not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish

  • * criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should

  • * being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tume in to them

  • * working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings

Dorises as Children Often

  • * are very sensitive to disapproval and criticism

  • * try hard to please their parents by being helpful and understanding

  • * are outwardly compliant

  • * are popular or try to be popular with other children

  • * act coy, precocious, or dramatic in order to get attention

  • * are clowns and jokers (the more extroverted Dorises), or quiet and shy (the more introverted Dorises)

Dorises as Parents

  • * are good listeners, love their children unconditionally, and are warm and encouraging (or suffer guilt if they aren't)

  • * are often playful with their children

  • * wonder: "Am I doing it right?" "Am I giving enough?" "Have I caused irreparable damage?"

  • * can become fiercely protective

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

This is a little crazy...

Doris Day


We are also both vegetarian and concerned about animal rights.

Who knew?

Your Personal Year In Review

Usually I reflect and make resolutions on my birthday instead of at the end of the calendar year, BUT this is an amazing year-end list! Melissa at birds.eye.view posted this listy quiz of sorts By Ariane de Bonvoisin and found on HuffPo. As Melissa says, it’s one you do yourself!

* What was the best thing that happened to me this year?

My husband and I moved into a two-family turned two condos with all the original 1920's charms and we have made it a home.

* What did I do this year that I’m really proud of?

I have always wanted to volunteer. Finally, instead of just searching for opportunities, I took action. Volunteering is more challenging and also more rewarding than I ever imagined.

I began blogging regularly and putting myself and my writing out there in just a small way. Facing that fear is something I am proud of.

Started focusing on my mental health and am taking steps to improve it.

* Who did I really help?

I like to think I have helped my fellow volunteers and the families I have begun to know at Perkins School for the Blind.

Volunteering/Interning at Teen Voices Magazine, I hope I have helped the young women I have been working with to grow and change for the better.

By sending words of encouragement, contributing to Threads of Love, and spreading their story to everyone I can, I have tried to help the Nielson Family in my own small way.

I have tried to help my friends and family by always being here to listen, emote, and love.

I have tried to help my husband by getting up every morning to make his lunch and send him off to work with a hug and words of encouragement, by thanking him every night for working so hard to take care of our little family and for all of the support he gives to me no matter what, by participating in events that his employer puts on (volunteering at charity run, making apple pie, going to the Holiday Party), by fully understanding and encouraging all of the work travel he needs to do, by keeping the house running so he can leave his stress at work and fully relax when he is at home, and by just loving him.

* Who do I need to thank and acknowledge for having been there for me?

All of the people who I have helped have in turn helped me.

The other volunteers at Perkins have been friendly and encouraging. The families at Perkins have shown me what true courage and love really are. The child I worked one-on-one with at Perkins helped me to be patient, adapt, see the world in new ways, and pay attention to and acknowledge even the smallest accomplishments.

The young women at Teen Voices have helped to recognize that "normal" varies from person to person. They have helped me to be a better leader and listener. They have helped me to see my own possibilities by exhibiting theirs.

The Nielson and Clark families have helped me to grow in faith, to cherish every moment, to be grateful every day, to find the positive in every situation, to begin to figure out what I want my family to be like should my husband and I be blessed with children, to show my love to my husband every day in every way... Just so many lessons from NieNie, CJane, AliceKind, Lizzy Writes, and Christian.

My friends and family have helped me by being there to listen, emote, and love.

My husband has helped me by supporting our family, giving me the freedom to pursue all of my pursuits to the fullest, letting me be me, loving me just the way I am... Just being the incredible man he is... The yin to my yang.

* What are the top three lessons I learned?

It is more than o.k. to seek help when you need it.

We are all the same, even in our differences.

Our strength lies in our weaknesses.

* What increased my happiness and joy this year?

Making friends with complete strangers through blogging and volunteering.

Finding time for writing in one way or another nearly every day.

An "at home" vacation with my husband during which we went to Nascar in New Hampshire, the Science Museum, wandered around Boston, and went to the Brockton Fair, among other adventures.

Spending time in Maine with my oldest sister and her family

* What’s something I got through that was really tough?

It has been an overall easy year aside from the following two somewhat difficult happenings:

The family dog dying unexpectedly was difficult.

My grandfather passed away.

* What did I avoid that I must pay more attention to in 2009?

Conflict. I need to work on speaking my mind especially when I have anxiety built up around doing so due to fear of rejection, fear of being the recipient of anger, and fear of disappointment and/or disappointing.

* What character trait did I develop most this year?

Open-mindedness. I feel I have been more receptive to the views of others and to recognizing things in and about myself that I never have before. My mind just feels much more open to possibility and alternatives.

* What new people did I meet that are now in my life?

I met Lyle and Angela who live in the condo above us. They are friendly, interesting, and very giving people. Couldn't ask for better neighbors! We definitely lucked out :-)

I met my fellow volunteers and the families at Perkins and the young women and staff at Teen Voices magazine.

I met my postcard buddy, Melissa, who I am so happy to be getting to know. Maybe a visit to San Francisco is in the cards for me in 2009 <3

There are still memories to be made in 2008, but I am looking forward to 2009 and whatever is coming my way as I, a self proclaimed work in progress, evolve.

Sparkly Tights, Spinach, and Spinning

This past Saturday night Mr. B&B and I went to his company holiday party.

Getting prepped and primped is always so fun! As he is trying to choose a tie and I am debating tights or no tights, I yell questions and he yells answers. He preps me with a who's who and schedule of events (cocktail hour, dinner, President of Company Speech, raffle, dessert, dancing) while we primp.

Primping for Her - This year I wore the dress from this post with these shoes and sparkly silver footless tights.

Primping for Him: black and grey checked three-button suit, red button-down shirt, silver tie.

We then met our friends Tanya and Greg on the green line train to Boston. They got on one-stop before us and we met them in the first car. So dreamy and romantic!

Green Line to Blue Line and we arrived at our destination where we found Keith and Alison had already arrived. A drink or two later Brian arrived sans Irma who was performing with one of the orchestras she belongs to. Chittering and chattering while nibbling on bruschetta and other assorted yummies ensued.

Then we were ushered into the ballroom. The tables were lovely in their simplicity. White linens. Black napkins. Silver Tree on mirror surrounded by four votive candles in center of table.

Dinner was served buffet style. Being vegan, my meal consisted of fresh spinach salad, roasted butternut squash, roasted regular and sweet potatoes, and half of Mr. B&B's blueberry roll. Delicioso!

Mr. B&B won a raffle prize - $100 visa gift card!

Petits Fours of all kinds are irresistible even for this very very vegan girl. So adorable, fancy, and delicate. My favorite was the lemon cake sheathed in white chocolate.

Mr. B&B, not a dancer himself, did promise me, the dancing doll, one spin around the parquet. We danced to Lady in Red and everything else disappeared. Brian, who was sans Irma, LOVES to dance and is phenomenal. He learned by joining a ballroom dance group in college. So, I asked him to dance and he fox-trotted me effortlessly around the periphery of the crowded dance floor ending with a spin and a dip. Heaven!

And home we went loosening ties and slipping off shoes all the way.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brainy and Beautiful Bettie Page

The Free-Spirited, Independent, and Sensual 1950's Pin-Up passed away on the 11th.

Her beauty speaks for itself:

She was college educated and crafty. So, crafty that she sewed some of her own costumes and bathing suits.

She is memorialized here.

Bettie Page Reveals All is a movie being made by Mark Mori. For more info. click here.

The Notorious Betty Page is a movie that was released in 2006.

Bye Bye, Bettie <3

NieNie's New Skin

NieNie is having another skin graft surgery today.

Prayers and positivity are appreciated <3

Kendrick the Christmas Tree

Yesterday Mr. B&B and I finally went to Russo's to pick out our Christmas Tree and Christmas Tree stand. Mr. B&B found Kendrick and spun him around for me to have a look. We knew Kendrick was the one. After a quick trimming of the trunk, the nice tree man wrapped Kendrick up and secured him tightly to the roof of the Saab for the journey home.

Once home, Mr. B&B removed Kendrick from the roof and brought him inside while I assembled the makeshift snow batting tree skirt and the tree stand. Once Kendrick was securely fastened into the tree stand and given a drink of water, we began considering names for him. I suggested Phil for a boy or Carla for a girl. Mr. B&B pronounced them "awful" suggestions for our tall, strong, green tree. He suggested Kendrick "'cause the tree is just like Kendrick Perkins of the Boston Celtics." I could not deny the tall, strong, and green commonalities. And so it was that our Christmas Tree came to be called Kendrick.

Since I am without camera, I can not provide pictures of our luscious Kendrick the Christmas Tree. Instead I give you a photo of Kendrick Perkins of the 22 and 2, best record in franchise history, best record in the NBA, World Champion, Boston Celtics:

Now just picture Kendrick Perkins bedecked in red and gold LED lights and some gold, silver, green and red ornaments with this...

on his head. Yep, that is about what our tree looks like. What a perfect tree it is!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Free Your Mind

and the rest will follow. So say En Vogue in this song on YouTube. Also a so-sayer and believer in such philosophy,my poetry professor.

On Thursday, during our one-on-one meeting, I asked my poetry professor what one thing I could do to improve my writing. She told me to free-write poetry every day. In her opinion, which I agree with, my biggest weakness is that I think too much when I am writing instead of freeing my mind to go where it wishes and just being the vehicle through which it flows. After looking through my notebook and realizing how often I cross things out and self-edit, Professor suggested I do all my free-writing on the computer so that I do not have the option of crossing out. She told me it is her belief that if I do that I will find at least two or three usable lines a day.

Today I took her advice and this was the result:
Morning tonight feels like waking up to broken glass of shattered window panes. French doors open to English men wearing tweed coats and smoking ciggies. Signs of forced entry lay shimmering in the grass all rainbowy with dew. Was it you coming to steal me away in the night? If you asked I might have gone. Gone from the relative safety of my existence to the windiness of yours. Possibility appeals to me in fleeting moments of temporary sanity. Brokenness is old hat, but there’s got to be something behind that. Walk through it and reach for the light of the lamppost glowing like the moon and stitch me up, lift me up, talk me out of it and in to you. Sleepless sounds of strength emerging as we’re converging verging on reckless. You open a book and fill up with wonder and tear it asunder. Under the words lies the truth. Eat up the inky stains and spit out the blank page to write it all anew. Few resist the urge to abandon truth for greatness. Greed is not in your verbiage. Invisible fingerprints dust the sills of broken windows seeking solace. Tonight morning is found on distant shores where we might have been and might be going, racing time, holding on to moments slipping along the seams of the globe out witting the light of lesser gods. Stars stretch languidly across your face as you become one, a celestial body among celestial bodies. Bodies are piling up, but souls are floating free suspended between truth and humanity. Flight is folly and you fancy me a fool, a high compliment from you. I lay above you and sink below wallowing in weightless wonderment over it and under it singing soundlessly watching the airwaves ripple into dawn. Over breakfast all appears unmatched apples and pears. Swiftly moving songbirds are singing outside and I let them in to feast on leftover bits of peanut butter toast. Out in the barn I sew with a needle in a haystack.

I think there might be a tiny nugget of truth in all this "free your mind" business...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NieNie News 2008

I am always trying to share Nie's story with anyone who will listen. It would be wonderful if you could help spread the word and keep the story alive as well.

One easy way?

CJane posted the following opportunity:

"From Nie Reader Jolleen-

Channel 3 is having a vote right now to see who the top AZ story of 2008 is. Although they did not list Stephanie and Christians' story (not only the accident, but the story after it), I think they should have! If they pick it up and it wins, maybe it will continue to get coverage and continued support! (Channel 3 and their website have had a few segments/articles about them already.)
So, why not ask Nie supporters to email, and tell them their vote for the most unforgettable story of 2008 is Stephanie and Christian Nielson and their amazing road toward recovery. As well as the vote, add a comment about how we think the most Unforgettable Story of 2008 should be one that personally touches so many people and spans across such broad aspects of life: death, tragedy, family, fear, faith, technology (blogs), community, medical miracles, service for strangers, a world praying for and donating to a family they have never met, and LOVE."

I sent a little email. Maybe you will too?

See Some of Channel 3 - AZ Central stories about the Nielson's here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell Fellow Poets

Poetry class came to an end last night. I already miss it. I miss giving and receiving feedback. I miss the unique voices. I miss the professor. I miss the teasing and the laughter. I just miss all of it and everyone.

Last night I gave everyone a tiny notebook. Inside each notebook was a personal note to each of them and my contact information. I hope they keep in touch.

Andrew, Carrie, Davy, Jan, Lucien, Sam... If you happen to visit my little corner of the blog world, don't be shy, leave me a little hello. Oh, and really, a big thank you to each of you for making this semester an amazing one for me. Each of you is an inspiration to me and I hope you keep in touch. I'll miss reading your work.

Nothing, but love, admiration, and respect <3

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

In our house, we usually do the groceries together, but I am the cook. I love too cook and Mr. B&B loves my cooking. I get to exercise my creativity and Mr. B&B gets good eats. Sounds wonderful, right? It is! Only...

Sometimes I secretly wish my man would cook with me. There is something so intimate and sensual about the idea of cooking together. This morning my wish came true!

When we went grocery shopping last Sunday there was a free sample of Abobora Japonesa Soup. Abobora Japonesa is a type of squash that you can read about here. Mr. B&B LOVED it. So we took a copy of the recipe and bought the necessary ingredients. I just didn't get around to making it until this morning.

I was doing alright with the recipe until I had to peel and chop the Abobora Japonesa. I tried five different knifes and two different peelers, but nothing worked. I was a damsel in distress. Suddenly, my knight in flannel pajama pants appeared and, working together, we got the job done.

The greatest things about having Mr. B&B with me in the kitchen:
honing communication, cooperation, and problem solving skills
telling stories about cooking with various people when we were little
reaching around each other to get at tools and ingredients
watching him work...something so sexy about chopping, peeling, etc.

Then we cuddled on the couch, under the blankets and ate our yummy, organic, warm soup for lunch on this frigid December day.

If you'd like to whip up a little romance of your own, the recipe is below.

Abobora Japonesa Soup

1 garlic clove
1 medium onion
1.5 pounds (or half of the whole) Abobora Japonesa peeled and cubed
4 cups of water
1 cup of milk (I substituted soy milk and it worked fine)
1 tablespoon of butter (again, I substituted soy and it worked fine)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the olive oil with onion and garlic.
Peel and cube the Abobora Japonesa.
Add Abobora Japonesa to the saute.
Add water and salt and cook until Abobora Japonesa is slightly firm.
Beat in the blender with milk, butter and pepper.

Yum Yum!

If I could I would...

send holiday gifts to blog friends.

For example:

Black Bird Notecards to Sam at blackbird fly.

Support Your Local Salad t-shirt for Crunchy Chicken

Grocery Bag for Vegan Lunchbox.

If I only had a camera...

In September of 2007, Mr. B&B bought me a camera and splurged for the warranty on said camera.

In January 2008, the camera broke.

In February 2008, I called the warranty people. They emailed me the label and info. I needed to send back the broken camera and have our money returned.

In May 2008, I finally mailed the camera in.

Soon after, we moved.

I have been occasionally bemoaning the fact that we do not have a camera ever since. Every time, Mr. B&B tells me to call the warranty people because it is likely that the check they mailed went back to them because of our having moved. I have called, been put on hold, and given up on waiting to talk to a real person.

Last weekend, Mr. B&B, no doubt tired of my mourning the loss of the camera yet doing nothing about it, called the warranty people. He was right about the address issue.

Yes, I will say it again, Mr. B&B was right! R-i-g-h-t, right!

Mr. B&B assured me that they assured him that the check is in the mail and we shall receive it in a few weeks.

Once check is received, we buy camera, and you see many more photographs on my blog!

I love photographs on blogs. Photographs on blogs are such an enhancement and sometimes more powerful than words. There will be photos, Just you wait and see...

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Pink Elephant and The German

Holidays can be tricky. For the past seven holiday seasons, my husband and I have been able to see both his family and my family for both holidays. Our families live only 15 minutes apart so we do Thanksgiving dinner at one house and dessert at the other, same thing on Christmas. We trade off who gets what dinner each year. Last year was Thanksgiving Dinner with my parents and dessert with his; Christmas Dinner with his parents and dessert with mine. So, it was back to his parents for Thanksgiving Dinner this year except...

Thanksgiving dinner ended up being at his Granny's house.

This was a problem because she lives 45 minutes from my parents.

Thankfully my parents were understanding and said, "Just call us on Thanksgiving and we will see you at Christmas."

So, off to Granny's we went bearing Vegan Shepard's Pie (carrots, onions, sweet potato) and my vegan version of Pear Galette. Delish!

We arrived after Mr. B&B's aunt, uncle, and cousin BUT before his parents, brother, and sister. We chatted and began setting things out on the buffet. I must admit chatting was somewhat difficult for me because of the big pink elephant in the room that we were forewarned not to talk about. Everyone knows the "secret" so why can't we talk about it? Why must we pretend? Silence and pretending does not change the facts. I think many families have big pink elephants, so if you need to get yours off your chest, please comment on this blog post. You'll feel better for sure!

Our Pink Elephant? Mr. B&B's cousin, who married in May 2007 (2 weeks after our April wedding), has been separated from his wife for the past four months and divorce proceedings have begun.

Phew... I sure feel better. I mean, I feel horrible about the demise of their marriage, but glad to have typed the truth out loud.

When my in-laws arrived with the turkey, dinner began. My amazing 20-year-old sister-in-law said grace. She has a beautiful way with words. I spent all of dinner talking with her about art therapy, interning at non-profits, alternative medicine, and her recent trip to a Navajo reservation. Oh, how I have missed her! We always try and get together, but our schedules are very different.

After dinner all of the ladies gathered in the kitchen to clean up, divvy up food, and do dishes. Well, Granny was doing dishes, sister-in-law was drying, and others were putting away. Out of the blue my mother-in-law says to her daughter, "Have you told them about The German?" It seems my sister-in-law met a German recently and they are "kind of falling in love" with each other, but he returns home to Germany in a few short weeks when his student visa runs out. "He is smart and cute and sweet, but who knows what will happen so we are just enjoying the time we have." says my smitten, but still sort of level headed sister-in-law.

Before anyone can be happy for her, things go wild. Granny, quite possibly because of the big pink elephant in the room, begins going on and on about how The German probably has other American girls and girls back in Germany that he is seeing. If he is so cute and smart and sweet there is no way that her granddaughter is the only one he is seeing. This escalates quickly and tensions rise. The smitten one is walking the fine line of disputing and debating her grandmother and quite possibly verbally attacking her for her disrespect, inability to be happy for her, inability to recognize her as an adult, and overall pessimism.

Not one for tension, at a pause in verbal repartee, I offered to take over with dish drying. Sister-in-Law accepted. I was left alone with Granny. I talked about my parents having Thanksgiving with my brother, his girlfriend who is on a student visa from Romania, and her brother who was having his first Thanksgiving meal ever. Slowly changing the subject, bringing down the tension... I can do that.

Well, unlike the Pink Elephant, Granny is going to talk about The German. Still heated she tells me she is not stupid and she knows she ruffled her grandchild's feathers. I respond that I never said she was stupid. I continue to get an earful about her grandchild being too sensitive and sensitivity being a handicap. She goes on to say that this time last year she saw her grandchild get hurt by a young man and she just doesn't want to see that happen again. I responded that I understand that, but sometimes, as hard as it is to watch, especially with romantic relationships, we have to let those we love learn by living, learn by making mistakes because sometimes that is the only way for them to grow. At least we both said our piece.

My thoughts didn't go over too well, but the dishes were done and I went in search of my husband. We had a pleasant dessert and departed. My husband and I enjoyed the peaceful ride home just the two of us gabbing and singing to the radio and reflecting on what we're thankful for. Yes, family, no matter how crazy they can be, were on the list somewhere between our marriage and the Pear Galette ;-)

What do you think of Pink Elephants and Germans? Do you have a preference? If so, which one? Feel free to let the elephants loose in the comment section!

Christmas Dress

Ok, I haven't written about Thanksgiving yet, but I will...

After I ask for a little advice.

Every year since my birth my mother has made sure I have a new dress or outfit, but usually I pick a dress, for Christmas. Yesterday I received a check in the amount of $105.00, Thank You Most Generous Mother, to purchase said dress or outfit.

This morning I have been perusing Anthropologie's website and can not choose between this amazing frock for $99.95:

OR this combo:

Farose Wide-Legs and Eastern Rays V-Neck

OR this combo:

Millicent Blouse with Light Field Skirt

OR this combo:

Inamorata Blouse with Midnight Theater Skirt

Help! I am open to other suggestions. and while you are checking these things out, do a little shopping for yourself, even if it is just "fantasy shopping"!

It is the season of giving... I might pick up a little something to giveaway right on this here blog to one helpful reader while I'm at the checkout ;-)

Thank you :-) and No, I do not get kickbacks from Anthro ;-)