Monday, December 29, 2008

Resolutions Come Early

Yesterday as I was driving by the gym (note, I didn't go in) I noticed an unusally high amount of cars in the lot. Gyms across the country are jam-packed in January as everyone tries to atone for the binge eating of the previous 6 weeks (speaking of bad eating habits, try bad drinking habits, the 20 worst drinks listed here). Resolutions fade as the spring progresses, and soon you have your favorite elliptical machine back. Some statistician determined that it takes 3-4 months to make something, like exercise, a habit and about 6 months until your body craves exercise after starting a workout regimen (prior to that, it seems like a punishment...."sorry, I can't get together tonight, I have to go to the gym").

Maybe I'll try to sneak in a visit before the New Year starts in force.

How Much Stuff is Enough?

Before Christmas, I had read an article by Anna Quindlen, "Stuff is Not Salvation." She ponders how American's continue to be obsessed with accumulating stuff, even to the extent of trampling a Wal-Mart employee. This year for Christmas with my mom, sister and aunt, we tried something new: 3 gifts, 1 store bought and 2 either regifted, recycled or home-made. Part of this was purely practical, when you've just moved into a new house or apartment (like mom and sis), you've gotten rid of junk already and you don't want to accumulate more. For my aunt, she is trying to downsize from a house into a townhouse...more stuff to give away. Long ago my mom said she didn't want anything she had to dust...she'd rather have something we could enjoy together.

We had a surprising amount of creativity...I baked some treats and made gifts with the help of Shutterfly. My aunt made us photo collages from some of our recent trips. And then there were the "recycled" gifts. I asked for a Pyrex measuring cup. I got 3 certified "pre-loved" cups (well, one broke in the parking lot and the other I traded for some measuring cups). Obviously I'm the only one who cooks.

Gift giving continues all year long, and while the economy continues to be challenge, maybe you can share something pre-loved with your friends and family.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

White Christmas

There is no shortage of snow in Wisconsin. It hasn't stopped snowing all day. In Denver, it looks to be a green Christmas this year (different if you're in Vail....but isn't everything different in Vail?). Wherever you are, enjoy a blessed Christmas with your family and friends.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Learning to Savor

When I was 8 years old, my mom took my younger sister and I to Europe for a month. For the first 2 weeks, we stayed at a friend's house in southern England. One of the highlights, aside from chasing sheep on the downs, was tea time. We would go out for tea, naturally, but the best part of tea was the cake, cookie or torte that went with it. After we came back, we would still have tea time, but with a local treat, whether fancy chocolates or cupcakes. The goal was to savor. Enjoy the sweet, but nibble, trying to make it last as long as possible.

I wish I had the ability to savor books. I love to read, but I read quickly and have a hard time putting a good one down. This past week, two books that I had requested from the library came in at almost the same time. Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens and Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs. I really like both authors, and each may only have one book released each year. So what did I do? Read them both cover to cover over the course of the weekend. I could have stretched it out, reading a few chapters a day, but no.

I remember when a friend recommended the Harry Potter books when I was in college. A few years after graduation, I decided to read the first one. Books 2 -4 followed in short order. Then I had to wait impatiently like the rest of humanity for the remaining three books to be released over the course of 5 years. Each time I picked up a new one (and I'm not ashamed to say that I would go to the midnight release parties at Barnes and Noble), I read it immediately.

Now on to a new phenomenon: Twilight. A friend loaned me her copy telling me that I wouldn't be able to put it down once I started it. So I haven't started it...yet. It will be on my carryon for my trip to Wisconsin for Christmas. At least all 4 books in the set are out, so if I am addicted, I can feed my addiction without a problem.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Retail Therapy

I did it. I joined the herds of Coloradans who have not completed their Christmas shopping. Or the minuscule percentage who have, but couldn't resist the early bird / night owl / noon day sparrow sale at their favorite store. I'm not a mall person. It's as close to claustrophobia as I get. I like free-standing stores or "lifestyle" shopping centers that are designed like a main street where you walk outside from store to store (and at this time of the year, you may find carolers in Victorian dress as well). You know, the ones that have ice skating rinks and fire pits.

I usually get emails from my favorite stores with coupons, etc. I learned of a new website Retail Me Not that collects Internet coupons and discount codes for various stores. The message from these new breed of sites is that one should never pay full price. So now you can find discounts from that store where you only shop when looking for specialty engraved toast tongs for Great-Aunt Hilda. You wouldn't want to be on their email or mailing list. The jokes would never end.

The trend for 2009 is : pay less. Who wants to argue with that?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Non-traditional Christmas Carols - Part 2

In addition to children's classics like the "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" song, there are a few others that are newer to radio. One that always makes me tear up a bit is "The Christmas Shoes." You'd have to have a heart of stone not to love the message.

At the absolute other end of the spectrum is a new song by Toby Keith, who is not not known for his political correctness by any stretch of the imagination (see exhibit A: "The Taliban Song").

In reality, two of my favorite Christmas songs are "Mary, Did You Know?" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Whatever your favorite is, be sure to enjoy it this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Non-traditional Christmas Carols

Just when you think you can't stand another rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful" or "Holly Jolly Christmas"....a Christmas song from the 1950's is resurrected and may be my favorite for the season: "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." When was the last time you were able to sing the word rhinocerouseses in any song, much less a Christmas carol?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan

There is something very festive about palm trees decorated for Christmas. Aside from the one Christmas we spent in Egypt, every year I'm in Wisconsin or Illinois (except for the time the blizzard kept me here in Colorado) and the weather never includes sunny, warm weather. It seems especially desirable considering it's 15 degrees outside. Who knows if I'd like a tropical Christmas? Maybe I'm destined to stay in snowy climates. But I'll never know if I don't try. Maybe next year it will be mahi mahi and pina coladas (and a real good tan).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Doggy in the Window

High end department stores traditionally have annual Christmas display windows. Growing up we would go to Chicago and see what Marshall Fields had done. Last week when we were in San Francisco, there was a big crowd at Macy's around the windows. At first glance walking by, we were thinking "Oh those windows are nice." Then we saw the SPCA collecting money, and we looked again. All the display windows have pets available for adoption. Last year they were able to place almost 300 pets through the Christmas windows promotion. It's "How Much is that Doggy in the Window?" for a very good cause.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Trip Down University Lane

Yesterday the DJ's on one of the local radio stations played an a capella version of The 12 Days of Christmas, by Straight No Chaser, an a capella choir from Indiana University. Listening to it reminded me of going to see The Other Guys when I was at the University of Illinois. Ahh...warm fuzzy orange and blue feelings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pursuing the Perfect Sunset

When the sun sets over the ocean, all I want to do is grab my camera and try to get the most colorful shots. Obviously, having no ocean at home, the only time I get to do this is when traveling. On our vacation, stopping along the beach before the sun went down was a highlight (although picnicking on the beach and eating seafood run second and third). Lots of people stop what they're doing in town and go to the beach with their families and dogs to watch the the beauty of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Bark Like a Lion

On Thanksgiving we stopped at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California. The supports under the boardwalk are sleeping and sunning spots for many sea lions. They've got the good life.

Swim in the ocean. Eat seafood. Bask in the sun. Repeat.


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