Tag Archives: List

My Christmas Soundtrack

4 Dec

Red-Christmas-Decorations-ChristmasIt’s that time of year again where the only type of music that fills my ears is holiday-inspired. (Besides the ’80s tunes that I require during my shower time. Hello, Mr. Big.) I do not discriminate, well I do, but my playlists are filled with many artists I wouldn’t usually listen to on a daily basis, like Mannheim Steamroller, Amy Grant, and Harry Connick, Jr (but never Jessica Simpson or the like. Never.) I actually look forward to going to work, knowing I will be listening to my Christmas soundtrack on Spotify on the way – which is always uplifting, no matter the circumstances.

So here are my top six tunes this year, the ones that I gravitate toward walking to and fro. Some have been on my favorites list for years, while others have moved up the ladder in the last couple weeks.

1) Pennies From Heaven – Louis Prima

This is not a Christmas song. It has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams, but I think he has the perfect voice for this song. Louis’s gravely, gritty voice plus the fast-paced beat makes it the perfect listen to while walking down the crazed streets of NYC. It doesn’t hurt that it was featured on Elf and now I believe it is a holiday song. I feel like I’m in a soundtrack to my own holiday-themed movie when this pops on.This song isn’t really a Christmas anthem, but it sure has made the rounds on the radio stations like this number has:

I Believe – Frank Sinatra

But I would never consider Annie Lennox’s version of “My Favorite Things” a holiday tune. No, that’s just freakin’ creepy, like Elf On A Shelf. Save that shit for Halloween.

2) Same Old Lang Syne – Dan Fogelberg

This song has been my go-to Christmas tune since high school. I love, love Dan Fogelberg’s work, and this song is just gorgeous. Like many of his songs, it is autobiographical, and the lyrics just paint such a sad, lovely picture that many people can relate to. The fact that it was written about a meeting between him and his high school sweetheart in their hometown of Peoria, IL and that they both kept it a secret from the public for such a long time, so damn beautiful.

3) The River – Rachael Yamagata

Yes, the Joni Mitchell original version ranks supreme. But I love, love, love Rachael Yamagata. I own all of her records and absolutely love her voice quality. And as much as I love Joni, I hate to admit that I like this version even more. It’s so sad, so relatable, and just so wonderful.

4) Wishlist – Pearl Jam

Yes. Just yes. Pearl Jam is probably one of the top bands that pop up regularly on my Spotify playlists. We actually made a wedding playlist CD as party favors (which I will post next week), and Pearl Jam made the list with love song “Just Breathe”. Vedder sings of all the things he wishes for, but ends it with the line “I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me.” What we should be thinking about at this time of year.

5) Winter Song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

Damn beautiful. That’s all I can say about this song. “Is love alive?” and this stanza “This is my winter song/December never felt so wrong/Cause you’re not where you belong/Inside my arms”. I listen to this song in remembrance of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I think of the families, the community, and the extremely sad loss.

6) Still, Still, Still – Mannheim Steamroller

I remember singing this Austrian lullaby in middle school and loving the melody ever since. Whenever I hear it being played, I close my eyes and imagine it being dark at night, with the snow falling and twinkling lights nearby. I instantly get transported back to my childhood.

And while I’m not including all of my favorites, I cannot stop listening to Sting’s If On A Winter Night album and Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong. Both just delicious bites of the season.

Oh, Christmas.


Make-Up Must-Haves No. 2

17 Oct
I also recommend anything Tarte - it's great stuff, great packaging, and just a great company.

I also recommend anything Tarte – it’s great stuff, great packaging, and just a great company. (Not being paid by them, just have a ton of their products.)

A few months ago, I wrote a blog blabbing on and on about my favorite beauty products and so much has changed (not really) since that day. Well, a few trips to Sephora, some birthday gifts, and a couple flash beauty sales – that’s what.

With the whole wedding day coming up and a couple Sephora gift cards to splurge on wedding makeup with (give me a break, it’s going to be stuff that I’d wear anyway), this list will probably change again – but whatev’s. I’d rather spend my paycheck on magnificent packaging and fantastic beauties than food and rent any day. PB&J’s FOREVA! (I do pay my rent and I do eat more than sammies, just so we’re clear.)

MAC ‘Haute and Naughty Lash’ Mascara

mac mascara-24
Don’t hate. But I’s got some connected friends. This was a present from a dear pal that is lucky enough to get freebies (legally) every once and awhile. Lucky me. I have been stuck with Lancomé – which I still love – but never thought I would enjoy another lash thickening-lengthening blend for as long as I lived. Was I ever wrong. This stuff is more than my jam. It’s my jelly. It does the trick, and although it’s not waterproof, it sure acts like it. (I also really enjoyed the hot pink and purple topper – makes me think that Jerrica from Jem And The Holograms would have worn it.)

Sephora Precision Pore Cleansing Pad

Sephora+Pore+PadSo I have this thing for beauty and lifestyle blogs. A year ago, jobless and bored, I spent hours each day poring over xoJane online. The It Happened To Me section was my delight and I savored each one – until I ran through their entire stash. Lately though, I’m pretty sick of a lot of their content – “I’m shamed for this.” “I’m shamed for that.” “I’m more special and unique and here is my sob story.” Ya di ya di ya. BORING. Yes, I love a good place to be selfish (here) like everyone else, but still – get’s old. There is one fashion/beauty blogger named Alison Freer who pretty much keeps me coming back for more. She recommended this little $5 number in a blog months ago instead of spending the big bucks on a Clarisonic (which I still want.) It seriously cleans out your pours while washing your face with any gritty scrub in the shower. It does the job. Don’t get lunch, get this instead.

Chanel lip gloss

This was a birthday gift – which is now probably one of my favorite birthday gifts of all time. I’m a fan of lip gloss, especially the more natural-looking kind, but always have a problem. Stickiness. I’ve bought tube after tube of Smashbox’s kind, and although I love the color, I feel like my lips are glued together. The cheaper brands seem to leave a plasticky taste and feel. This was not only a great color but the first time ever that I felt like my lips weren’t going to stay trapped together in a perma-thin-lipped smile. So worth it.

Benefit’s Watt’s Up

I’m a big believer in all things Benefit. Not because of the cute packaging (which is super adorable), but because I have never had an issue with any of their products. (I’m planning on buying High Brow this week.) This is a little shine stick that I got with a Benefit mascara for a Birthday Beauty Insider’s Gift from Sephora. (Probably the best b-day gift I have received from that store.) I have gone through three pots of High Beam (a liquid highlighter), but this is one that I can store in my purse, blends easy, and is just pure awesome.

L’Occitane Jasmin perfume

I used to babysit on the Upper West Side, and would sometimes arrive a little too early for my sitting job. So I’d wander around Central Park and to this block of amazing stores. After too many visits to the MAC store, I happened to receive a free sample of this perfume outside. I grabbed the free sample, said “Thank You”, and went on my way. A couple blocks later, I smelled the scent. It was natural, it was beautiful, it was … for me. I was about to run late to my job, but I had this sudden urge of “I HAVE TO HAVE”, so I went back to the store. I bought the perfume and wear it basically everyday (sorry Origins, you have been replaced). It’s my go-to store for gifts, as I can’t imagine anyone would hate this store’s products.

BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector

This was a find at a flash sale. I wouldn’t have normally bought this for it’s usual price, but man, what a deal. I have found many, many foundations and tints that I could use – and this just edges all of them out a bit more. It has a tinge of shimmer (not too crazy, goes on smoothly (like a face lotion), isn’t at all heavy and has an SPF of 25 (which is pretty important for my everyday face care.) It’s a large bottle, so I don’t think I will be going through it very fast.

First Aid Beauty 5-In-1 Face Cream

I love face lotions. This was, again, from a flash sale, but it was definitely a steal. This is the creamiest, loveliest of lotions I have ever had. It’s anti-aging, has an SPF of 30, and moisturizes better than any I have ever owned before. So good.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge

I was recently in a wedding and had my makeup done by an artist (she’s AMAZE-BALLS!) I haven’t had this happen since I was in college plays, and loved the experience. It feels so good, it makes me want to fall asleep, and the “Before” and “Afters” are pretty damn amazing. Anyhoo, she introduced me to Aqua Rouge (on one side is the lipstick, on the other is the gloss), and it stays on like a Mo-Fo. Does not come off, even when you try. So for an event, it’s a must. I purchased a really dark berry color, and plan to buy a nice red for my big day. I also want to try out their liquid liner and other cool products. Love things that don’t melt off my face right away.

So there ya go. Another list. Do what you will with it, but seriously, I would tell you if I hated the product. Oh yeah, another list. I can definitely get behind a “Which Make-Up Products Do I Hate” list. I’ve had more than enough misses over hits.

I Want My Iowa State Fair

10 Sep

This year marked the second in a row that I missed the Iowa State Fair. A record for this gal. And while I have partaken in the fried butter, fried Twinkies, and well, basically most things fried, what I miss the most from this yearly extravaganza is the people watching. It’s a mecca of awesomeness. So while I mourn the fact that I missed Iowa’s largest pig and the llama limbo (llamas do limbo, I saw it with my own eyes), here is a column that I wrote a couple years back.


This is the perfect time of year for certain items: 1) Buying mosquito spray in bulk just to keep your current blood supply at its necessary level; 2) Finding that certain Spider Man or Pokemon (or whatever cartoon creature is hot these days) backpack. And lunch box. And folders; and, 3) Meandering your way to the Iowa State Fair.

The third item is just necessary. There is no other event like it … anywhere. Where can you people-watch and see not one, not two, but four women in their muumuus and bedroom slippers outside in public? You can go from building to building – and each year there is something new. Either a new food, a new display or a new, albeit, weird experience.

A few summers ago, I worked as an intern in the Iowa State Fair marketing department. I worked on the daily schedule, press releases and various events at the fair.

For the 10 days of the fair, I worked a vigorous schedule from morning ’til night. Most of the time, I was stuck at a desk writing press releases about all of the contests and shows happening.

So that I would not go crazy – I decided to do something out of the ordinary to make my time there a more memorable experience. I was going to try it all – the food, that is.

The staff received a few food vouchers but not many, so it was also an experience on my wallet. It made me sad watching the debit machine pump out cash as my balance dwindled.

And I wasn’t going to just eat my favorite foods, I was going to eat everything (or try to). This will sound absurd to those who know me as I have a very particular appetite. With the way that I eat, I could almost be considered semi-vegetarian as I don’t prefer to eat a lot of meat.

I started off slow on my journey – going for the familiar. Every morning, I would try a new stand for coffee and something breakfast-oriented. That was easy – I’m not a huge breakfast fan but I’m okay with the bakery variety.

But when it came to lunch, that was where I got creative. Most of the items were portable – on a stick or easy to carry in one hand. From the average corn dog to the pork chop on a stick to fried pickles, anything was fair game.

Around the sixth day of my experiment, I decided to try the food I most dreaded: The grinder. The smell of the stand made me want to gag. But I went for it. And it wasn’t horrible. It didn’t make me throw up. But I probably won’t try it again.

For desserts, again it was the food on the stick variety: fried Twinkies, Snickers, monkey tail (chocolate-covered banana) and ice cream bars.

Weighing probably a good 10 pounds heavier after the fair, I judged what was good for me. It was surprising on what I found the best and the worst. For example, I thought I would enjoy a salad on a stick. Found out it wasn’t really worth the money. But here are a few of my favorite finds:

Coffee and pastries: From the Wooden Shoe food stand outside of the Varied Industries Building on the Grand Concourse. Amazing Dutch letters.

Best homemade lemonade: Surprisingly not at any of the stands. It’s in the indoor stand of Peterman in the Old Pioneer Building. (Try their cheeseburgers.)

Pork chop: The Iowa Pork Producers’ stand.

Fried anything: Anything from the Veggie-Table stand outside Varied Industries Building.

Root beer: Griffin stands.

Best dessert: Cookies in a cup out of the Barksdale stand outside Varied Industries Building.

Corn dog: Campbell’s Concession stands, located everywhere.

Best overall: Hot beef sundae located at the Beef Quarters’. Trust me, totally worth it.

Best of Omaha

8 May


I used to despise Omaha. I didn’t care if it was a pretty town or that it was close to home, it just wasn’t the big city I wanted to live in. So when I would make my 3-hour trek (it was exactly 3 hours, no more – no less), I would hem and haw about having to spend more time in a place that I had already determined was awful. But here’s the thing: It isn’t. It’s actually pretty awesome. The reason I had such a dilemma with the city was that my boyfriend (who lived there) tried his damnedest to convince me that I wanted to live there too. And like a small child, I would argue the opposite until I was blue in the face. It’s just in my nature to be that immature. And while I pretended that I would rather be anywhere else, I secretly enjoyed being there. In fact, I’ve even suggested moving to said city if he were to get a teaching job at his alma mater (University of Nebraska). Of course, his jaw dropped.

Wells people, since I spent almost every other weekend there for three years (THREE YEARS? My poor car.) I have some advice on some of the coolest places to visit in Omaha. Well, the places I enjoyed exploring, anyways.


Scout Dry Goods & Trade – 5019 Underwood Ave. http://ilovescout.com/

Guys, I have a serious second-hand clothing store addiction. And honestly, I haven’t been super happy with the selection in NYC. Yeah, blasphemous, I know. But, it is all because of this store. It spoiled me. I like a store that is going to sell amazing vintage/fancy brands/at a decent price. You can find the first two, but not the third. Most of the second-hand stores here (like the one that they featured on a TV show) are way too expensive for what they provide. And people go bananas for it. BANANAS. But this store has it all. I also bought my first Theory skirt here for $50. Yeah, it’s that awesome. Every weekend, there was a new awesome selection (they are very picky with the product that comes through their doors). My meager paycheck went basically to car payments and this store. Oh, and for all that gas to drive to said establishment. Anyways, go to this store. I miss it so.

The Afternoon – 10000 California St. www.theafternoon.com

There are actually two locations for this store in Omaha. This just so happens to be the one I enjoy going to the most. It’s a store of knickknacks, a hodgepodge of great things that you don’t realize you need until you get in the store. I got my more quirky presents for people exclusively at this place. There is also one in the Mall of America, if you are thinking to yourself “Hey! I think I know that store, but you are thinking the wrong location!” No, my friends. I’ve been to three of them so far. All deliciously wonderful.

Homer’s Music – 1210 Howard St. www.homersmusic.com

My first trip to Omaha was memorable. Nate and I were completely unsure why I was there. Were we dating? Maybe, who knows, can’t keep track. But I knew one thing. When I saw this record shop, I had to go in. If you love music (good music), for the love of God go in. ‘Murica.


Bangkok Cuisine – 1905 Farnam St.

Um, I have a confession. I have tried a lot of Asian food in NYC (Chinatown, Midtown, East Village, many other places), and I have yet to find a place that will beat this restaurant. I’m not even joking or exaggerating even a tiny bit. We have been to many restaurants and bars in Omaha (that’s just our favorite form of entertainment, eating). We basically ate here almost every weekend I visited. The first time, after going on a major Urbanspoon kick, we took the recommendations and went. We went round and round the block, because there is not actually a well-lit sign or anything. Just a bright yellow door. And while the ambiance of the restaurant might be lacking, it is the best Asian cuisine I have ever had. We have even half-joked about flying to Omaha just to get some Tom Yum Gai soup. Oh, and the prices are unbelievably cheap. So, yeah, GO.

Dundee Dell 5007 Underwood Ave.

Awesome pub. And surprise, it’s a few stores away from Scout. So, double plus! The entire Dundee neighborhood is just pretty bad ass. Warren Buffet lives there. We loved to go look at Christmas lights in the Dundee district, where houses are located on cobblestone roads. It’s pretty beautiful. Back to the pub. Try their Philly Cheesesteak Po Boy. Num-num.

Crescent Moon Ale House – 3578 Farnam St.

Sticking with the pub theme a couple more rounds. This place is boss. Their food, their drinks – we just freakin’ loved this place. In the afternoon, in the evening. Whenever. Try their soup menu. So great. Also, they are right next to Beertopia, a beer heaven.

Upstream Brewing Company – 514 S 11th St.

Because I don’t want to seem like I just hang out in bars (kinda true), I’ll put a couple in this one entry. Just if you go to the Old Market, which is beautiful, check out this brewery. Again, this is sad, but I have not found a beer I like more than one of their house beers, the Firehouse Red. I get excited when I find something that somewhat rivals it – but it still loses. Okay, I also give shout-outs to Jake’s Cigars & Spirits (crazy mixed drinks) and Old Mattress Factory Bar (great atmosphere).

Rick’s Cafe Boatyard – 514 S 11th St.

This restaurant is located right on the Missouri River (that’s the right one…I think…). Although the food is just alright, it’s the atmosphere and being right on the water that gives this location a top vote.


Crane Coffee – 5923 Center St.

Besides eating out, we like to go get coffee. A lot. And there are some great options in Omaha: Caffeine Dreams, Blue Line Cafe, Scooter’s – we just really enjoyed Crane Coffee. There are a couple of locations, and it just seemed to be our go-to place.


Aksarben Theater – 2110 S 67th St.

Hold on to your britches, because I have four favorites in this category. Besides eating lots of food and drinking copious amounts of liquids, we like to watch a ton of movies, children. Yeah, we’s gots favorites. We go to a lot of movies, and it was super important for us to find some great theaters in our area when we moved to Jersey City. It took awhile, and we learned that just because there is a movie theater in a mall close to us, it doesn’t mean we should go there. Like ever. Anyhoo, this theater is super clean, hip (has a full bar), and just great. This was our go-to mainstream theater that shows blockbuster films.

Marcus Midtown Cinema – 3201 Farnam St.

I brag about my experiences at Marcus basically anywhere I go. We Love Marcus Midtown. Okay, so you go up a couple escalators. And then you buy your ticket, I mean your seat. You can pay for standard seats, or leather, or the creamy leather Oh-my-god awesome seats. In the upgraded seats, you can ring a buzzer and ask a waiter to bring you food and drinks. It’s basically one of the best things I have ever discovered. The prices are not unreasonable for dinner and a movie, and it’s just a lot of fun. Oh, and the quality of the screen and sound are pretty spectacular.

Film Streams – 1340 Mike Fahey St.

We admit it. We see a lot of films. We can be big movie snobs. And so we sometimes like to go to snobby films. This is that place we can enjoy said movies. With other people with turned-up noses.

Dundee Theatre – 4952 Dodge St.

This theater is disgusting, dirty, and very old. And very beautiful. It’s so grand and lovely with chandeliers, but you go there for the midnight showings. Whether it is The Rocky Horror Picture Show or something completely hideous, you can heckle the crap out of a movie with many other young adults. It helps if you have drank a few.


Fontenelle Forest – 1111 Bellevue Blvd N. www.fontenelleforest.org

We have gone to many parks in Omaha. We have also visited many of the trails, and while this is a bit outside of the city, it’s definitely a must-see. This forest has many winding bridges, and is just a real green beauty.

Heartland of America Park – 800 Douglas St.

This man-made park was a place we spent a lot of time at. Mostly to watch the geese around the lake, because we were cool like that. Honestly, many important conversations were had at this lake while we were busy making sure we weren’t sitting on goose poop. “Should we break up?” “No, don’t sit there. Goose poop!” “Thanks for that, so should we?” “Nah. Eh, maybe.”

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge – 705 Riverfront Dr.

Kind of one of those must-dos in Omaha. I always grudgingly trudged to the bridge, but enjoyed being there when I was finally on it. Especially when it was lit up at night.


Old Market

If you are going to visit Omaha, more than likely you have heard of the Old Market. It’s a cobblestone shopping mecca filled with restaurants, eclectic stores, and other attractions. There are hidden stores in back allies that I super enjoyed and it’s just a place that will put a smile on your face. If you like that sort of thing.

Henry Doorly Zoo 3701 S 10th St.

Okay. You aren’t from Nebraska. You are definitely, most likely going to the zoo. Or to the airport. In any case, you won’t be disappointed (I mean the airport is nice :)). We should have bought yearly passes for the money we plunked down to watch penguins and gorillas. The aquarium is wonderful, the desert dome is wonderful, it’s all just a happy-happy-joy-joy kind of place. Tip: Go on a weekday. And if you are going, get there when it opens. It gets crowded fast and parking is free, but finding a spot isn’t always the easiest.

So there. A few of my favorite places in good ole Omaha. I look forward to seeing this city again someday. I also look forward to driving a car, seeing green spaces, friendly Midwesterners … okay, done grumbling.


Christmas: A few of my favorite things

12 Dec

We all can think of a couple of items that make the Christmas season so special to each of us. Perhaps it is a movie, carol, or distinct memory that makes us relish the holiday.

Well, here are just a few of my favorite things about this exciting time — in no particular order.


This iconic movie ranks top on my list of Christmas movies.

This iconic movie ranks top on my list of Christmas movies.

This is hard. There are so many classics: The Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, Home Alone, the list goes on and on. For me, myself and I, there are two movies that have to watched during the month of December — Little Women and Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy Garland is iconic and absolutely wonderful, singing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” That movie just makes me clasp my hands to the side of my head and sigh. Little Women, well I know that isn’t really considered a “Christmas” movie. Yet, with all of the winter moments and the scene signifying Christmas miracles – it gets me into the holiday spirit. It might also have to do with the fact that my late grandmother owned a copy of the 1949 version that I watched over and over, and it makes me feel a bit closer to her during the holidays.


I did not understand Pee Wee's more irreverent humor until later years. This is a definitely a holiday gem.

I did not understand Pee Wee’s more irreverent humor until later years. This is a definitely a holiday gem.

Movies and specials aren’t in the same category for me. Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Claymation’s Christmas, Muppet Christmas, there are so many amazing 30 minute to hour television extravaganzas that enliven childhood memories of supreme happiness. The one that I have to catch each year, with no fail, is “Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special.” It is so late ’80s, it’s not even funny. No, it is super funny. From the King of Cartoons to the Magic Screen, each and every character from the beloved children show unite with stars of the time to create a Christmas spectacular. As in Pee Wee’s words, “Feliz Navi’blah!”



RIP Dan Fogelberg

This is super hard. From Perry Como to Ella Fitzgerald to Louis Armstrong, the classics always reign supreme. But (oh, there’s a but) I have to listen to two songs on repeat from Thanksgiving to well after the holiday season is over: Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne” and Joni Mitchell’s “River.” I’m not depressed, no, these are just original pieces from true songwriters. Fogelberg’s songs are seriously like opening up his soul to the masses. I love when music used to tell a story — one that was relatable and truly sentimental and from the heart. Both of those songs can bring me to moments in my life that I cherish and hold dear.

FAVORITE ALBUM (in its entirety):

I heart "Grown-Up Christmas List" and "Emmanuel, God With Us" so much.

I heart “Grown-Up Christmas List” and “Emmanuel, God With Us” so much.

Again, a toughy. I have to listen to at least three Mannheim Steamroller albums through December, as well as the iconic Mariah Carey “Merry Christmas” CD. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” will get me dancing in a matter of seconds and makes me feel like a middle schooler again. Yet, this honor is bestowed on “The Christmas Collection” by Amy Grant. I’m not a huge fan of hers outside of the holiday season, but it contains all of her Christmas classics. My mom and I would listen to her songs over and over during shopping trips and drives to craft fairs. Her music is the nostalgia that I require while gazing at the lights on my tree. “Breath of Heaven” is seriously one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.


I'm sorry that I'm not sorry for this. I'm just sorry that you are so bitter, Suki.

I’m sorry that I’m not sorry for this. I’m just sorry that you are so bitter, Suki.

This honor is bestowed on dressing up animals in crazy costumes. My parents’ poor cat Suki is known to be the brunt of our humor (don’t feel sorry for her, she is treated like the most spoiled of princesses at their house). She is one of those animals that has a very distinct personality — meaning, she either doesn’t want to be around you, doesn’t want you to touch her, and actually just wants you to leave her alone. So when the Mrs. Claus outfit or reindeer antlers comes out — there is a distinct cringe. She falls to the ground dramatically, and doesn’t move as if she was stricken suddenly by some tropic disease. Drama cat is hilarious, for sure.



For me, it is Christmas Eve. It hasn’t changed with our family for more than 20 years. I spend a great deal of time during the day with my mom making homemade chili and oyster stew. We frost sugar cookies, listen to Christmas music, and talk. The entire family will go to 4 p.m. Mass at our local Catholic church. Honestly, Mass on Christmas Eve is one of the most beautiful experiences. Incense, songs, rituals — I enjoy it immensely. This is about nostalgia, as well. I spent a great deal of time during my childhood’s winter months practicing music as we prepared for the children’s choir Mass on Christmas Eve. This meant pretty dresses, pretty tights, and fighting to the death for the best solos. Anyways, we will go home, eat our big feast, play games, tell jokes, watch a Christmas movie, and open a few presents. It is one of those truly special times that I look forward to all year round.


Opening these little windows each day was such a relief for my OCD self. I need one of these now, STAT.

Opening these little windows each day was such a relief for my OCD self. I need one of these now, STAT.

The anticipation. The letdown afterwards is awful. Instead, I love to surround myself with anything Christmas and get excited for the parties, fun, and experiences that will be had. As a child, we always had an Advent calendar. It was great for me, because I could see exactly how many days were left until Christmas. Each morning, I would beg my mom to let it be my turn to open the little window on the paper calendar. It was almost better than opening up presents (almost). Being out-of-state, that feeling of childlike anticipation has somewhat returned. I am anxious and thrilled, counting down the days until I’m back with family.


Of course, there would be a giant cat in the nativity scene. It just makes sense.

Of course, there would be a giant cat in the nativity scene. It just makes sense.

That’s easy: Family. We are a quirky, quick-witted, hearty bunch of people. For example, this is the nativity scene that is set up at my parents’ house during the holiday season. Something look wrong with it? Yeah, my mom did that. She thinks it’s funny, and we do too. If the cat was left out of the manger, it just wouldn’t make sense to us at all. Every nativity scene needs a giant white cat, truly. I look forward to coming home next week and spending time with them. Christmas in Iowa – the best gift for this girl.

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