When Your Dad Gets an iPhone

My Mom, sister, and I exchange an average of four pictures of day.

Two of them are always the outfits Alyssa and I are wearing that day (seriously), at least one of them is usually of Holly, Dilly or Zula and a lot of times Alyssa texts us pictures of whatever she made herself for dinner that night (she advanced past me in the cooking arena after about 3 days of living in her apartment).

My Dad usually isn't in on our daily conversation because we exchange literally dozens of text messages a day and he has a job that involves a lot of concentration? Also, he doesn't like when things beep at him and he signs most of his text messages "Love, Dad" (which I love) so it would be pretty time consuming for him.

This week, Alyssa had her first round of graduate school finals (she finished yesterday!) so our pictures since about Wednesday of last week included a lot of her in yoga pangs looking stressed. She even sent us one that said "I'm turning into a stress unicorn," with her pointing to a zit in the middle of her forehead.

On Tuesday, she sent us this angry/sad picture of herself because she had a final at 4:00PM that day.

I was walking to my office, so obviously I sent her this picture back.

My Mom thought this whole thing was hilarious and sent the pictures to my Dad. Ten minutes later we had this.

I died of laughter right there on Broadway.

After he sent it, he wrote "I'm going to use it in the 9:00 AM meeting" and then Alyssa texted back "Its 9:03! You're late!" (you should know that Alyssa worked for my Dad's company for two summers and never got invited to the 9:00 AM meeting. She's still fairly offended).

This is a pretty pointless post however I want to advocate for parents having iPhones! Because this whole interaction was incredible and when you live far from your family, its nice to be able to be in basically a constant chain of conversations with them. Go get your parents iPhones...and then teach them how to take selfies! Right now, go!

Sidesmas 2014

Sidesgiving got pushed to December again this year so Sidesmas it was!

If you're new around here, Sides/giving/mas is basically Friendsgiving but there's not turkey, only sides. We were trying to remember how many we've had and we think this was number 7!

We had a few less people this year, which meant we were able to fit everyone in the kitchen, which was great. It was a lot easier to talk to everyone and pass everything!

Three guests wore the same sweater. Aaron and Sarah meant to (because they're a couple and like to match?) and Dave accidentally brought the same one to wear (I'm not totally sold on the fact that this was an accident). It had dinosaurs and narwhals on it, can you even?

Aaron also had a pretty sweat pair of dinosaur socks.

After we were done cooking and before everyone got to our house, I ran upstairs to put my makeup on and get changed. I washed my hands twice after cutting three whole onions and then one more time before I put my contacts in. Onions seem to be persistent buggers though, because when I got my contacts in, I thought my eyes were actually going to fall out of my head. So no go, contacts.

Shannon and I have really perfected the selfie.

Ashley even came in the midst of finals season at Harvard and two days after her brand new nephew was born!

We typically play the Newly Weds/Friends game after dinner but this year our friend, Jon suggested we play White Elephant instead.

It was a big hit! Top gifts included: an inflatable unicorn horn, a remote control car (that was broken and which John and Lisa took apart the next morning and fixed), a table top air hockey set, a dinosaur comb (that John stole from someone, he loves it) and...Doody Head.

Aaron won Doody Head, but here's a picture of John with it on. Its a hat divided into point sections and then people throw doody at you. It was really the best...if best can mean people throwing fake poop all over your house.

AND Stephanie really played to her audience (a group of people who love cats) and I ended up winning this! I thought Jon was going to steal it from me, but I told him I would never forgive him if he did, so he backed down and stuck with his air hockey and sangria, thank goodness.

I love you, Sidesmas.

A Recipe: Stowe Treats

Yesterday was my department's annual Holiday Potluck lunch! Even though my Administrative Assistant, Terrie, threatened to never speak to me again, I didn't make my traditional Trifle this time (I now owe her an extra big one on her birthday).

Instead, I made Stowe Treats! I had no idea what they were called until I made them for Sidesmas on Saturday and Becca exclaimed "STOWE TREATS!". Apparently her upstate New York family goes to Stowe, Vermont to ski (because its not cold enough in upstate New York?) and they make these all the time. Also, John kept calling them "crackers with brown sauce" which I hated. So here you go: Stowe Treats!

Here's what you need: 
1. Two sleeves of Saltine crackers
2. Two sticks of butter (two and a half if you're making a big batch)
3. One cup brown sugar (one and a half for a big batch)
4. Assorted candy for the top (optional)

"Recipe" (see how that's in quotes? Its not that serious) 
1. Lay out about 45 Saline crackers on a tin foil-ed cookie sheet while pre-heating your oven to 325 degrees

2. In a sauce pan (I used a pot because I like the extra security of the high sides so nothing goes over), melt two sticks of butter (cubed) over medium to high heat. Once butter is melted, slowly pour in brown sugar while stirring (this is important, otherwise it sticks!)

3. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and stir for another two minutes. Then pour mixture on to crackers. Its going to look gross but you just have to go with it

4. Put them in the oven for 6-8 minutes (check them to make sure they don't overcook)

5. While they're baking, put your candy in a ziplock bag (I did plain and peanut butter M&Ms) and hit the heck out of them with a wooden spoon (how much are you guys enjoying these pictures? Enjoy my slippers in this next shot)

6. Once done, take crackers out of the oven and sprinkle candy on top. Let sit for at least 90 minutes before cutting (I suggest a pizza cutter). Put them in the refrigerator over night to be extra sure they're set.

Voila! Your colleagues will be super impressed...except for Terrie who will tell you that she is still mad at you even after you tell her how heavy a trifle is to carry on the train. Everyone else though will give you high fives!

Family Christmas Brunch

For the past few years, my Aunts have hosted Family Christmas Brunch at The Friars and its one of my favorite days of the year. Holidays get increasingly complicated when you get married, it seems (we're headed to Albany this year) so it was so nice to see everyone in one place.

This is less of a post and more of a glorified photo dump. Sorry in advance if you don't come here to see pictures of my cute family.

I love this picture so much. Its a good thing they didn't both have their Vitas, otherwise they would have been cooperatively killing a dragon like they were at Thanksgiving.

Alexander is all about the selfies.

Two and a half year old babies are no joke in the lifting department!

Me and my godmother! Selfies forever Aunt Lau...selfies forever. My red cheeks are courtesy of some apple that was in a drink I had. Conclusion: I am actually allergic and should stop eating them (not shown: my bloodshot eyes 20 minutes later).

Alyssa is Jonathan's absolute favorite. Sometimes he just sits in a group of people and yells "ALYSSA!" This picture is after Alyssa chased him all over the place, including up two flights of stairs. She was not impressed and he was not tired.

Alyssa's birthday was the day before (23!) so we had ice cream birthday cake for her! According to her, it had the "perfect combination of cake and ice cream!".

See you next year, Friars!

My Mom is not in any of these pictures because she took basically all of them. Mission next year: take the phone away from my Mom. 

Bullet Proof Vests, Vacuum Cleaners and Bingo with A Drag Queen

This weekend was really one for the books in terms of hilarity.

On Saturday night we slept at John's Aunt and Uncle's house. Uncle Paul happens to work in law enforcement and happened to have a bullet proof vest hanging in the guest room where we were sleeping. Did you know that bullet proof vets are not knife proof? They're not! I would definitely want the bullet proof/knife proof combo situation (does that even exist?) but I guess the bullet proof one was okay to use while pretending to fight crime in their living room.

On Sunday I got into an epic battle with our vacuum cleaner. John had gone to his last day of work on a production of Parade that he was doing so I decided to turn on some Call the Midwife and start cleaning our house in preparation for Sidesmas (which is this weekend!). We have this dust that we use on our carpets that gets all the cat hair up and makes the whole house smell great (its most definitely full of chemicals, but I'll do anything to make our house smell like clean linen). Anyway, I put the cats in the bathroom and threw the dust all over the carpet. I waited 25 minutes, I turned on the vacuum and proceeded to watch as our fancy vacuum blew the dust all over the place. Which is exactly the opposite of what a vacuum is supposed to do. 

I Googled our vacuum (obviously) and read 3 step by step tutorials and watched three videos on how to take it apart and fix it. I got the thing totally apart, cleaned it all out, cried while Joe died from the ulcers on his leg (you kill me, Call the Midwife) and then prepared to put the whole thing back together. Except I couldn't get the head to re-attach. I tried for a full hour and I will not lie to you: I cursed and cried and yelled and then gave up in an exhausted heap. 

Then Becca came over and tried. And tried and tried. And we watched another video. We gave up after I used her hand held dustbuster to get most of it up (a good friend will bring you their dustbuster in an emergency). John came home four hours later and got it together with one firm push. I was never more thrilled and more enraged in my entire life. 

See all the dust? 
After giving up on the vacuum, Becca and I went out to dinner and then met two of our friends at Ginger's for happy hour drinks and some Bingo with a Drag Queen Host. We started the evening with a blue shot (because why not on a Sunday night) and some ciders. 

Before Bingo started, we thought it would be a good idea to get double Gin and Tonics and to tell the man running the show that sure, I would make the lights flicker when someone won and of course Veronica would ring the bell. 

I have a somewhat crippling fear in Bingo (and really all luck drawn games...I'm a mess during a raffle) that I will think I have won, but then have my card check will have not won. And then everyone will think I'm a big, fat cheater and jeer (totally rational, I know). Its a lot of pressure and frankly, I prefer not to win. But YAY Becca won! That was fun enough for me, I think. We yelled and screamed and flickered the lights and she got a picture with a super pretty Drag Queen named Lola that I can't find anywhere. HOORAY BINGO!

Inflation Celebration!

Last Wednesday John came to pick me up from work and we made our way to the Upper West Side in the pouring, freezing rain to see Macy's Inflation Celebration!

My Aunt Lau used to take me to see the balloons get blown up (before it was an official Celebration, I think) when I was a kid. There were a few years that I even got to see the balloons the night before and then again the next morning as they marched down the city's streets. John had never been, and since this was the first Thanksgiving Eve that we were in the city together, we decided we had to go.

We took the B to 81st Street and when we got there, the station was already crowded and it was only 4:30. The cops were so helpful though, and we made our way up the stairs and into the rain to see the balloons. When I was a kid, we would go late, around 10:00 but since it was raining everyone online said they would go up earlier and they were right! This is what we saw as soon as we came out of the subway.

One of my favorite thing about watching the balloons go up is that usually the ones that have faces look like they are sleeping. Look at Sponge Bob!

And Papa Smurf is like "Guys, I am so hungover I had such a rager last night".

It was so cold and rainy but overall it was very well organized. There was a flow to the walking traffic and at the end of it, you ended right back at the entrance to the subway.

After a slightly harrowing subway trip home, we went to one of our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood. Earlier in the week, John had driven past and seen their Christmas decorations. "You will LOVE it" he said when he walked in the door. He knows me pretty well!

The Pacific Ocean!

After our time in Portland/Mt. Hood, we loaded back into the car for the drive to San Francisco. We split the drive up into two days, because it was so far. Driving day #1 took us from Mt. Hood, Oregon to Crescent City, California. It included a lot of snacks and a lot of napping (on Becca's part).

The drive was beautiful and we our third rainbow of the trip on this day. I was hoping you could see it in this picture, but you can't...luckily the mountains are pretty!

We stayed at The Crescent Beach Motel (John, Becca and I's first motel!) and our rooms had sliding doors right to the ocean. The Pacific Ocean was one of the things I was most excited about for our trip, so our arrival at the motel after a whole day of driving was very exciting.

Even thought it was 50 degrees and misting, Shannon and I took our shoes off and headed toward the ocean. I had grand plans of putting on my swim suit and just getting in, but it was really too cold for that.

Look how excited I am! The beach was really incredible and I would recommend the motel even if motels aren't your thing.

That night we had take out for dinner and watched the Royals play the San Francisco Giants. It was at this point that as a non-baseball follower I realized that we were going to be pulling into San Francisco the evening of the last game...just as it was wrapping up. AND Shannon is a Royals fan. It was a high stress situation.

The next morning we woke up, took a few more photos, and got back  in the car to go explore the Redwoods (another post, potentially two) and drive to San Francisco.

We only had to drive about 20 minutes to the Redwoods, but the drive was so beautiful we ended up stopping a few times.

At this spot, we were pulling into the pull off just as another car was pulling out. When they saw us pull in, the car stopped abruptly and a guy in his twenties jumped out and started running toward us, arms flailing above his head "DO YOU GUYS WANT A PICTURE????"

The answer was that yes, we did want a picture. John got totally flustered though (because of the yelling and the guy's rapid approach) and said "Nah, man...we're good". So this is the best picture we have. For our next trip, we're going to get a selfie stick.

Work Hard, Feel Good about Yourself and Don't Feel Bad about It

Work has been a little bit hard the past few weeks. Not in a bad way...more in a challenging, I don't know what's coming next for me kind of way. New and fun things are happening at home, too. I got some writing pieces picked up, I just started with a Mentoring program (more on this later) that I'm loving, John and I are embarking on Year 2 of married life.

Last week I read Amy Poehler's new memoir, Yes Please. I didn't love it, but it was okay (nothing will ever live up to Mindy Kaling's book for me, she's ruined me for memoirs). Within the first 20 pages though, there were two quotes that I love so much I'm sharing them with you now. I'd like to point out now that I'm not into quotes so much and this is the first time I'm doing this on this blog so I think you should take these pretty seriously!

I've been saying this one a lot to myself at work lately: 
"I love saying "yes" and I love saying "please." Saying "yes" doesn't mean I don't know how to say no, and saying "please" doesn't mean I am waiting for permission. "Yes please" sounds powerful and concise. Its a response to a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman" (page 19)

I loved this one so much, that I sent it to my Mentee after she asked me if she could email me more than the once a week requirement. Obviously I said yes because she's the coolest 13 year old I've ever met, and I think we kind of clicked. But also I'm a giant loser because I sent her a quote? Oh well.
"So here we go, you and me. Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready. This is America and I am allowed to have healthy self-esteem"

The bold part is my absolute favorite. My new (created in the shower last week) mantra is "Work hard, feel good about yourself and don't feel bad about it".

Amen, Amy Poehler. Amen.


Go Hang Out with the People Who Knew You When You Were 16...Right Now

Last weekend, one of my best friends from high school, Jackie, got married.

That's her on the right in the white! This picture is from the winter of 2006 when we went out a mini-tour of rural Pennsylvania colleges to visit Jen (next to Jackie) at York College of Pennsylvania and Jackie at Juniata College. Needless to say it was a weekend of a lot of pictures and way to many shots (we didn't really drink in high school and were still getting the hang of it at this point). Kim (in the brown) and I nearly exploded with excitement as we drove up to Jen's dorm that freezing cold night, we were so excited to see her.

Apparently long sleeved white tshirts were something we though were appropriate to wear on a night out?
This picture is from our first winter break home from college at our Annual Holiday Extravaganza (notice the capitalization? It was a super serious event). If ever there was a picture that illustrates the joy of reuniting with your friends from home after your first semester away at college, I think this is it. "Look at us!" our eyes say "We are so worldly and we know everything there is to know about everything! We are very mature and take ourselves very seriously!"

I think I can count the number of times I've seen Jen, Jackie and Kim on two hands since that picture was taken. And that really sucks. We didn't have a falling out (at least I don't think we did? Won't it be super awkward/terrible if they read this and are like "YES WE DID, KATE, we hate you!") and I never made a conscious decision to not keep up with them. It just kind of happened and before I knew it, it was 2013 and we were all adults. Getting engaged, getting married, having jobs that made us move away kind of adults.

My three best high school friends see a lot of each other. Maybe because they live in the same state (though not particularly close, Pennsylvania is a big state!), maybe because they are just way more proactive than I am. Maybe because people change and grow apart and that's fine.

But this Saturday we were all in the same room again and it was the lovliest...it just happened to be that the room happened to be a church and then a reception hall and one of us happened to look a lot better than the other three (no offense to Jen and Kim, but we just really weren't competing with the dress and the killer eyelash situation Jackie had going on).

And so I say to you: go hang out with the people who knew you when you were 16 right this second.

It is the strangest/weirdest/coolest experience ever. Its extra strange/weird/cool when you have significant others!

Have so much fun and leave on good terms. Make promises to see more of each other. Because I think even if nothing comes of those promises, when you get married or graduate from graduate school or buy a house or have a baby the people who knew you when you were 16 and awkward will be there. And you'll be able to say to each other "Remember when we had the Holiday Extravaganza and we gave people pumpernickel toast with cream cheese and pickles to eat?" and laugh and laugh. Because the people who made that toast together were important to each other and I think its important to remember that and hold on to it if you can.*

So, I'll see you ladies in December at Jen's wedding...and maybe after that, too.

*My Mom is shaking her head right now and saying "I told you so, Kate"