Wednesday, February 29, 2012

For the Love of Bears (and the Berenstains)

A few days ago, Jan Berenstain passed away, half of the Berenstain writing/illustrating duo that meant so much to me as a child.  I owned dozens of Berenstain Bear books, and I still have them packed away for a time in the future when I have children in my life who might love to read as much as I did.  Jan, along with her husband Stan, wrote over 300 Berenstain Bear books in about 50 years, cementing their place in the repertoire of nightly bedtime stories around the world. 

My favorite part about the characters in their books is that they were modeled after the own Berenstain family.  While reading the books, Mama and Papa Bear seemed human, and dealt with real problems that children encounter daily.  And after meeting at age 18, Stan and Jan worked together for over 50 years creating this wonderful world for young readers.  How amazing to collaborate daily with the person you love the most.

There will still be Berenstain Bear books (their son is taking over) and I know I'm not the only one who will look back and remember how these stories made me feel like I wasn't alone.  I thank the Bears and the Berenstains for nurturing so many through their words and illustrations. 

P.S. I always loved The Berenstain Bears and the Bully and The Berenstains Bears and Too Much Junk Food.  Any favorites?

Photo courtesy of AP/EW

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just a Bit Under

I haven't been myself for a couple of months.  My ears have been aching and my head has been pounding, so much so that it's hard to focus on anything.  And then last Thursday, I almost got into an accident on my way to work because I was dizzy while driving, and I knew I had to go back to the doctor.

So, it's Migraine City for me, with some TMJ trouble to boot.  My balance is much better and I'm not as lightheaded as I was last week, although my head is still hurting.  I'm truly hoping this will be the end of the constant headaches and ear aches though.  I just hate feeling disoriented all the time.

While I was fading in and out of sleep this weekend, I kept thinking about the cool breeze and warm sun that comes with spring.  In the morning when I leave for work now, I can smell the ocean and it makes me want to turn around, head back into the condo for sneakers and walk down to the beach.  Pretty soon, when I get home from work around 6:30pm, it'll still be light out.  I've always loved winter but this year, I can't wait to be able to spend time outside, perhaps because I feel like I've been ill and cooped up forever.

Yesterday, I walked down the street during my lunch hour and was reminded of how much I love the handmade decorations that the local yarn store, Knit, displays on the street.  It adds color and comfort on even my gray days.  Even when I'm feeling blah and off-balance.  Even when most people just walk by and ignore them.  Sometimes the smallest thing really makes a difference.

Photos courtesy of my new iPhone (yes, I'm trying to use it!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Design Aspirations

On Saturday, I tried to straighten up our apartment a bit and couldn't believe that it actually looked messier when I was done than when I started.  I'd love to have one of those homes where everything has a place, where there are shelves with alphabetized books and shiny cabinets with cake platters organized by size and color.  How can we keep our comforter fluffy? And why is it so hard to find curtains that fit our windows and actually look good?  These are all things I hope to learn as I grow up and become an adult (sidenote: I'm almost 30 and have lived on my own for many years without gaining much knowledge in this area.  Maybe I'm missing the decorating gene...).

After the mild weather this weekend, I'm anxiously awaiting the first warmish day so that I can open windows and air out the apartment, as if that would somehow make it more cheery.  Also, new goal for the year: try to make our bedroom look as beautiful as this one below, which was featured on Design*Sponge.  Happy Monday!

Photo courtesy of Design*Sponge

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Suddenly, It's a Good Day

We just booked a vacation.  To Florida.  Our first real 'beach' vacation.  I can't wait.  The hotel is on the ocean and has two pools, and we can order drinks while we are sunning on the beach.  On the beach.  We will have a king-size bed in our room, and we will read lots of books and magazines.  Did I mention that I can't wait?

Photo via weheartit via

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For My Valentine

For Christmas, I made a Shutterfly photo album for Anthony as a kind of 2011 year-in-review.  It was so much fun to put together and I can't count the number of times I teared up while going through the pictures.  There were also many photos that made me laugh, a bunch that made me roll my eyes, and a few that made me cringe (specifically, the ones where I look like I have a double chin--ha!). He really loved it (even the crazy food montage I added at the end), and now we have a great way to remember a random year in our lives. 

The point is that we can have a seriously good time when doing nothing special just because we are together, which makes everything even better.  The point is that we truly love each other and can't imagine being without one another.  I want to remember all of the times we have together so that down the road, I can still cherish the things that made our relationship wonderful even when we were young.  With a year of wedding planning ahead, I think 2012 is going to be a pretty great year for us too, and I hope to have a ton more snapshots for next year's album.

Lots of love to my perfect valentine, Anthony. I love you with all of my heart.  xoxo

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chubby Hearts

I was so excited when I saw the felt project that Liz from Say Yes to Hoboken posted last week that I went to the craft store and bought a myriad of colors to make my own rainbow heart garland.  Of course, I ran out of time before Valentine's Day but was able to make a bunch of small red and pink hearts to glue onto magnets and add to cards for my family.  I can't wait to make the garland with all eight colors so that I can hang it in the apartment year-round.

There's really nothing that makes me happier than crafts and chubby hearts.

Thanks to Liz for sharing this adorable project. xo

Friday, February 10, 2012

Doesn't CPK always mean Cabbage Patch Kid?


I didn't make valentines this week. I didn't finish writing that short story.  Our apartment still needs to be vacuumed.  For most of the week I had a killer headache and earache, which forced me to actually see a doctor yesterday.  Prognosis: Undetermined.  I have a follow-up with an ENT physician next Wednesday and until then, I have some medicated ear drops.  Not very helpful but it's a start. 

I did however meet up with a friend last night at a California Pizza Kitchen (people sometimes shorten this to CPK which really confuses me because CPK will always translate into Cabbage Patch Kid in my mind.  What an awesome restaurant that would be...) where I had a delicious salad and we actually ordered a dessert to share, something that I never do.  We sat and sipped coffee while we spooned our warm brownie sundae thing like real grown-ups.  Then we went next door and wandered around the giant Barnes and Noble and I successfully resisted buying a new book because I already have five dozen in my 'to-read' queue.  It was a good night. 

There's snow in tomorrow's forecast and despite the fact that this has been a winter with 50 degree highs in New England, everyone is panicking.  Inclement weather or not, have a wonderful weekend, my dears, and I'll try to do the same.  xo

Image from Sugar Plum via weheartit

Monday, February 6, 2012

(Super) Weekend

This weekend had a theme: food.  We had dinner out with friends on Friday and dinner out with family on Saturday night, along with visits to two supermarkets for Super Bowl snack ingredients.  We wound up watching the game at home yesterday and I made some really unhealthy food to replace a normal, balanced meal for dinner. 

Maybe it's all of those advertising and marketing classes that Anthony has taken over the last few years, but those Ro-Tel and Velveeta commercials definitely worked on him, the ideal consumer. 

This dip was super delicious, even though it does feel like a sin to eat that melted orange Velveeta.

I've never made guacamole before and to be honest, avocados really grossed me out until recently.  I tried this recipe which has fresh corn and chipotles and we really loved it, especially with those lime Tostito chips.

And even though I don't eat hot dogs, I made these wee ones for Anthony and he couldn't have been happier. 

Other highlights include getting a bunch of work done at a near-empty Starbucks yesterday (the espresso-chugging men talking about how they couldn't sleep because they were so excited for the Super Bowl was a fave moment) and making mini french toast for breakfast (the bag with the french baguette ripped and the loaf fell onto the floor on the way into our apartment, but we used the five-second rule, brushed it off and tried to forget it was momentarily on the ground).

Bonus: This morning, I ripped my pants when I got to work and spent the entire day trying to hide it so that my co-workers didn't see my chub.  Happy Monday!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Books Read in January, and Confronting the Grumpiness

I'll fully admit that I was pretty grumpy in January.  I felt kind of like how I imagine a baby feels on most days: a little sleepy, a little hungry, and kind of cranky with intermittent moments of hysterical laughter.  There's just a lot going on (some good, some bad).  I'm feeling a little groggy, like there's tons of stuff being thrown at me and I can technically only retain so much, but I'm still doing my best to take in everything and be everywhere all at once. 

I did keep one of my goals though, which was to read at least two books a month, which never used to be a challenge but now seems a bit more difficult.  I finished two, in addition to starting three others (not very efficient, I know).  It really made me happy to delve into books again and I'm pretty sure I can keep at it through 2012.  

Book #1 was Faith by Jennifer Haigh.  It's no secret that Haigh is one of my favorite writers and when I finished Faith, which is her latest book, I felt satisfied, just like with her earlier novels.  I couldn't wait to get to the end to see what happened, and it was so well-written and delicate, rightly so since it's dealing with such a delicate subject, Catholic priests and scandals.  As someone who was raised Catholic, I found the religious background that Haigh provides to be really interesting, and most of it is information that many religious people may not even know, although it really was the family at the center of the story that kept me reading.  It pains me to think that Jennifer Haigh is still considered a 'chick lit' author even after writing such thoughtful and serious novels. 

Book #2 was Other People We Married by Emma Straub.  I was familiar with a few of Straub's short stories that had been in literary magazines and I really wanted this collection.  It was great and I loved the characters that she created.  Just like with Danielle Evans' short story collection, each piece was unique and relateable in some way.  I'm not comparing my writing to Emma's wonderful writing (I somehow feel like I can call her Emma now, like we're friends or something) but I think we have similar styles and that just added to my enjoyment.  Her book is a fun, fast read that I would definitely recommend. 

There you have it, little ones.  I'm going to spend the weekend doing cheerful stuff, like making valentines to send out to my loves and buying a new bottle of foundation with the Sephora gift card I received for Christmas.  Also, the Super Bowl is on Sunday night and I think Anthony and I are going to stay at home and eat chips and dip for dinner.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Image from Startingtohunt via weheartit