Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Ride

I've started a new project. I guess it could still be considered another blogging endeavor, but more than anything I'd like to think it a writing exercise. Not that blogging isn't writing, (because it is! and everyone who blogs is a writer! go blogging community!) and this is probably splitting hairs, but I think it's time to separate the zippy, off-the-cuff, running life commentary from the short stories of my life.

It's not that the stories of my life share anything significant or life-alteringly profound. But I feel I have an interesting place and voice in this world. There are some blogs that cover what it's like to be single, Mormon and in a big city. None are to my taste, so I've decided to create my own. In the between, I plan to both record the present and remember the history of how I got to where I am today--and it's been a ride, I'll tell you that much.

Did you know I aspired to to be a romance fiction writer? (Those who can't learn...) I learned two interesting lessons from that experiment. That and more!


I may or may not be worth a bookmark, but you can decide for yourself. The page above links to the "About," but for my very first actual post, I've made like the first hit, opening song in one of my favorite musicals of the high school variety and kareoked The Start of Something New.

Maybe I'm being ambitious, but someone gave me ambition for my birthday apparently...

Monday, December 21, 2009


I'm working on a new blog. Not a post, an actual new (supplemental) blog. More to come on that soon(ish), but I need your help in the meantime. Life and death here people, so I've created a new poll in the right real estate. Please respond. No one's feelings (read: mine) are going to be hurt, I'm just trying to figure out the taxonomy (tagging) system for my new stuff.

So. Help me. Quickly. And don't feel bad.

Also, happy Monday. Did you enjoy your weekend? Did it have crazy snow? Mine didn't, but you wouldn't have guessed with the number of times I left the house. Nothing like last year. Glad I got out of Boston before the BIG ONE hit! Travel safe everyone. XO.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wms. and Otherwise

I'm not even kidding when I say this picture makes me happy to be alive. If I can't be in Utah where my sisters and besties are, I'll settle for them getting together without me. And they do it willingly, I don't even have to push! There are a ton of really cheesy statements I could make here, but I'll limit it to one big SQUEE.

Building a Mystery

Mystery Google.

Have you been there yet? Type anything into the Google search box and the results returned are what the person just before you searched.

Today, to mess with the person searching just after me, I typed in “I’m watching you.”
The results returned? “Who’s behind me?”

What’s the word or phrase for what just happened to me? I can’t push my brain past YOU GOT SERVED. I’m blaming it on jet lag but it’s probably just my love of C+ street movies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tacky at 27

Despite my protestations, Brenda really wanted to throw me a birthday party this year. I've had some pretty stinking memorable birthdays (the red dress at 25, and the disco skate-a-thon as my SLC send-off), but I'm pretty sure this was my favorite party yet. There's something to be said for someone else doing all the work!

I love December, you all are very well aware. So B turned my birthday into a tacky holiday-themed event. Having thrown my ugly sweater gem away when I left SLC, I was on the hunt for a new one. Instead, I stumbled upon this tacky gold sequined disco top. How could I turn it down? I was like a cat distracted by shiny things all night. But seriously, the food was incredible (hot cocoa, fudge, cookies, rice krispy(!) wreaths, candy, soda, cheeseball, shrimp(!!!)), the mood festive, and the company fantastic.

If you want to see me awkward, put me in a situation in front of people where I'm not quite sure what's going to happen. (I'm too much of a planner to love too much of a surprise!) The awkwardness is exponentialized when a "very special number" is announced, and you're pretty sure the loosest dude cannon in the tri-state area is going to give you a "very special dance." Don't worry, he just took his pants off as a special Christmas treat.

So all in all, a wonderful evening. Relatively low key (but maybe that's because I just had to show up?) but a perfect end to another year, another birthday, and another Boston holiday season.

Heading home tomorrow! Woot.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy/Sad for the day

After a ridiculously amazing weekend, I find myself having an off day.

The good news is I'm convinced there's not much the perfect batch of snickerdoodles can't fix.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Like a Kelly Clarkson song

Do you want to know what I've been doing the last week? Well, the answer is basically trying to breathe. I've had the Head Cold of HorrorTM that's threatened my very desire to stay alive and kicking. Now let me compare this cold to a Kelly Clarkson "I don't need you fool, I'm on my own now" anthem. The songs hit hard and fast from the opening measure, right? And the bridge endures two key changes and some slamming guitar solos and then pounds out to the closing notes? Yah, that's what's happening with my face. And the bridge happened to hit on my birthday. Holler!

As a lil birthday treat to myself, instead of working (sick) from home, I just didn't work at all. A legitimate sick day. I've only taken one day in the last 20 months, and that was for cosmetic surgery. That's right, only one day, and I've been pretty sick this year; I'm just reluctant to spend my PTO time not in a foreign country. I'm nothing if not resiliant.

So I was home in bed, profusely weeping from both my left eye and nose for the majority of the day I was awake. In the brief interludes between naps, I was gifted with the kindest emails, facebook posts, texts, and singing phone calls. If there's ever a day to be home, it's a day when all you hear is nice things about yourself. In between the Dayquil, Nyquil, and *menthol nasal spray.

Not wanting the day to be a complete waste, hauled myself out of bed and into the shower to go out to eat with my girls still in Boston. What a lovely evening we had--marred only by the fact our waiter could not keep a comment to himself. Not a photo exists of me with a whole face, but that's fine, that left side has given me nothing but trouble this last week. I'd cut it off if I had the 3D chance. Gives a whole new meaning to the line, "Since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time," eh?
* Menthol nasal spray represents both the absolute best and worst of times. On the "best" side of the coin, 3 sprays in each nostril and you go from plugged up to breathingly clear in 30 seconds and lasts for 10 hours. (True story.) On the flip "worst" side, any kind of nasal spray (if used properly) is like jumping into a pool without your nose plugged--and the menthol makes it cold and tingly. I read the directions on the bottle last night and it said not to use longer than 3 days, or the spray could be exasperbating the problem. I'm pretty torn here. Frankly nasal spray, my December and life would suck without you, but perhaps it's time for me to breakaway.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Birthday Letter

Happy Birthday self, you’re another year older.


You’re a year older, but are you wiser too? Did you make the most of 26? Are you a better person coming out on the other side?

It’s okay to admit that 26 was a bit of a rocky year; no beach is composed completely of sand. There were times of intense heartbreak and crippling letdown, but you lived to tell about it, didn’t you? And not only is your heart still beating, but it’s stronger and more aware.

This was the year the training wheels came off and no one was holding on to the back of your seat to keep it upright. Alone and far from home, this was the year you fully created a new home. More people moved out of your life than in, but what of it? You’ve managed to irrevocably knot your heart strings to those who’ve earned a place there. They’re better people for it. You’re better for it.

All those things you love about yourself? People love those about you too. And the rough spots? Well, people may see those too, but you’re your own harshest critic Nat. You know that, now remember it in year twenty-seven.

Surely there are moments in the last year you wish you could take back, but because you can’t go back and change it, there’s no use feeling regret or disappointment. Move on and use historical data to project future outcomes. A year just past. Don’t let it be in vain.

Riding on your own has also allowed you to experience breathtaking views. Moments so grand your breath was taken completely away and in its place settled a general feeling of rightness. Not only celestial experiences surrounded by loved ones, but also irreplaceable moments steeped in the silence of independence. This is the year you learned to fully love and appreciate you. That gift is impossible to purchase or give, but is earned through struggle and perseverance. If the rocky roads were payments credited toward this ultimate treasure, they’re roads worth taking again, aren’t they?

This is the lesson you should remember from year twenty-six.

On the last night of your twenty-sixth year, you open a card from your grandparents. “We applaud your success and think you are brave,” it says. Your heart warms not only because you feel the collective support of those who’ve had a hand in forming the mold, but also because for the first time ever, you believe it too.

And that’s something you feel good about. A worthwhile year. May this next year be as good as the last.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

On the first weekend of Christmas...

My face is kind of a wreck. To put it mildly, I've been weeping from two of the three holes in the left side of my face for two days now. (I paid for fully branded lasik eye surgery, so no Liz Lemon mouth drain for me.) The good news is, I'm not letting this stand in the way of the most wonderful time of the year. You've heard about it, right? My obsession with December?

In years past I've let Christmas sneak up on me. I've vowed for this year to be different. I've been listening to (and enjoying!) Christmas music, the soft glow of the twinkle lights set up in our living room, and finding the perfect gifts. And it snowed for the first time yesterday. A lot!

Tonight, I attended the most festive party of my Boston existence. The spread of food was mind boggling for one person to put together (rockstar!), but we ate and ate and ate some more. Everyone was festively attired, and we gathered around the piano to sing Christmas songs four separate times. Two things we learned: 1) "O Holy Night" is a very, very high song and 2) "We Three Kings" sounds an awful lot like a pirates' song. But that might have been the homemade egg nog talking.

My grandmother collects nativities from every place she visits. In my continued quest to a) be more like my grandparents and b) revel in nostalgic traditions, I decided to take on the same challenge. I'm not at 100 percent, but I'm trying. And let's be honest, some locations facilitate easier procurement than others alright? So my home is now hosting the truest Spirit of Christmas! Let's take a tour shall we?

This is perhaps my favorite purchase of this Thanksgiving trip. I saw this Nativity in Mexico City our first day at an outdoor market. By the time we went back that afternoon (as I didn't want to haul it around), the entire market had been taken down. Somewhat devastated, we vowed to spend time the next day looking. Que suerte to have found it again from a different vendor, huh? The pieces are probably 9 inches tall and somehow I didn't get the shepherd photoed:

The set is tiny! I feel like a giant trying to set these pieces in their proper place. The woman who sold both Colleen and I this set in Mexico City (yep, I bought two) was too adorable. She saw us looking at nativities and unearthed these sets. She unwrapped the baby Jesus and in her sweet Spanish (that I understood! holy gift of tongues!) told us how cute he was. Agreeing, we immediately bought without even seeing the other pieces. When the price is right... Colleen aptly named this set "The Grab Bag Nativity." Los Gauchos de Argentina:
My final nativity piece was purchased last year in Italy. The snow globe plays Silent Night and I'm still ecstatic that it didn't break in my suitcase:
I hope you're each enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. Take the time to enjoy it! President Monson reminded us in tonight's Christmas Devotional that Christmas shouldn't be a time of pressure and fatigue, but rather we should relax and enjoy the Spirit of the Season. Join me, the weather is nice.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

La Dia de Gracias

Last Thanksgiving, it was Sicily, Italy by day, cruise ship by night. This Thanksgiving, it was Buenos Aires, Argentina by day, Mexico City by night. Hot, humid, and festive!

Contemplating the homeland:
The pilgrims and indians still getting along (even after eight days of 24/7 togetherness):
While you were carving a turkey, we dined on all-you-can eat Argentinian beef:
The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. This conquistador discovered this flag in 2009:
An armed guard at La Casa Rosada. Yes, the President lives in The Pink House (translated).
The best we could do of us and La Casa Rosada:We spent quite awhile listing the five things we were most grateful for this year. A few tears may or may not have been shed--but it may have been due to the high carbonation in the Coca Light or Fanta we were drinking... but most likely not. The things I'm most thankful for this year:
  1. My job; the challenge and the learning and the fact I'm getting better
  2. Modern technology (nerd alert!)
  3. The way I've learned to love myself this year (which I feel is directly related to...)
  4. The Temple
  5. The people in my life--both family and friends
I hope you each had good food, good company, and a good time reflecting on how much we each have to be thankful for. Until next year!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

the best part of today

Bless Boston's heart, but it's a bit of a revolving door as far as people are concerned. Two years is the median length of time folks stay in the Hub. This presents situations in both sides of the glass, but I'll submit to the jury that there's nothing quite like having a friend with whom time apart melts away in a matter of seconds should the right phrase, song, or memory present itself.

I was lucky enough to meet Alicia my first year in the dorms at BYU and we bonded fast and furiously. We lived together off and on the rest of college and then I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid at her wedding 3.5 years ago. We've only seen each other a handful of times since then but this week we bonded over a shared memory of Claiken, and tonight, I got a text message that made me smile:

"Can't help but think of you when this happens."
Only people who really know and love you can bank on you're predictabilities (or have minds like steel traps and remember blog posts from three years ago) can display such love. Today was a pretty good day, full of good music and books and TVs and pizza with Linda... but this text trumped them all.

Happy. So go, right now, and email or text or chat a good friend and remind them about something you know or love about them. It'll make them (and you!) happy too. Now GO.

Winner winner pollo dinner

The polls for the highly official Luna Nueva GIVEAWAY have closed. Thanks to those who played. I ran the comments through Random.org and the big winner is.......... Comment #1!

Congratulations to my cousin-in-law Brittney. This busy, hardworking lady keeps a fun blog of her crafting and projects outside of tending to the needs of her three boys under the age of 5. (I usually feel lazy after reading her posts. You're amazing Britt!) Send me your address and I'll get this terrible copy of Luna Nueva in the mail.

As a note, I previewed the DVD last night and it *does* work, but well... let's just say I'm glad you've seen it in a theater. But it is dubbed in Spanish, so it's pretty funny. You thought the acting was terrible before? Add in the overexaggerated Spanish and it's worth a few minutes of laughter.

Three random tidbits about today:
* It's 67 degrees outside. In December. In Boston. This can only mean it's going to snow tomorrow, right?
* I got the "In the Heights" Soundtrack today and it's amaaaaaaaaazing. And the show is coming to the Boston Opera House in January. I'm just beside myself. Life just keeps getting better and better.
* My rather addictive personality has flared up in terms of "fine" dining. I finally got brave and looked at the nutritional facts online and am beyond relieved that I'm not on the way to breaking the scale--but just maybe am on the fast track to heart disease. But it's such a tasty, and locationally convenient way to go.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Last Thanksgiving

I'm kind of obsessed with Taylor Swift's cover of "Last Christmas." (I'm happy to send it to you should you be so interested.) Consta-repeat over here. But that's not what this blog is about. This blog was supposed to be about Turkey Day in Buenos Aires, but it's not about that either. (I keep distracting myself.) Instead? It's about last Thanksgiving.

You see, I started what was supposed to be today's blog by comparing and contrasting this and last year's grand events--both which took place overseas but which had very different experiences. I got to reviewing the photos from the cruise with my cute grandparents and my gorg sister Alaina, and I got sucked into the photos. And then I was sorry (again) for not being a better blogger last year. (How can I remember my life if I don't publish it? It's like that tree that fell in the forest but no one heard about it.) But Thanksgiving on floating city with tuxedos, formalwear, an ice turkey sculpture, and an on-board casino? That stuff can't be left alone.

And how can I live a complete life if this photo isn't posted? Really. How could I? Hello new desktop background.
Learning from a pro

Not going to lie, I love the slots. And I may have corrupted Alaina--she was the big winner of the trip. A one-night addict! I can't complain though, she was kind enough to share her quarters with me.
Thanksgiving Aboard

Where they tried their best for a turkey dinner, it left something to be desired. I may or may not have had a shrimp cocktail (or two) and a hamburger instead. But on holidays (and cruises) you do what you want, right? And per tradition, we followed up our nightly three course meal with a piece (or two) of pizza and a cherry coke on the way back to the room. Happy Thanksgiving indeed.

So this blog isn't what it was supposed to be about. Big deal, I'm the sheriff of these parts. If you aren't ready to put me in blog jail yet, I'll tie this blog post into a nice neat package and give you the T.Swift version of Last Christmas. Because this blog isn't supposed to be about that either. Oh well. Happy Thanksgiving 2008.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Death (of) photos

I felt really awkward taking photos on my trip. Perhaps it was because we were traveling outside of the common tourist destinations, or maybe because every inch of my very tall, very blonde, very straight-off-the-Mayflower look just didn't blend too well in Latin America--but I couldn't bring myself to photo too much of our surroundings. Mental pictures will have to do until I can rewind it all in Heaven.

On our first full day in Buenos Aires (martes for those who care), we cabbed our way to La Recoleta Cemetery to check out where the rich Latins go once they up and die.

I've tried to weed it down, really I have. But this place begged to be photoed. And none of these folks were alive and kicking long enough to be bothered by the photos I took.

It's hard to describe how insane these memorials were--the glass work, the granite work, the coffin work. It was awesome. And kind of creepy; we saw more than one coffin with the lid all askew--in fact, that one had a window broken out of the tomb as well. Ai yie yie!

All in all it was nice to take a little break from shopping, eating, and relaxing. But soon enough, we were back at it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Luna Nueva -- a GIVEAWAY!

Most of you know my feelings about the Twilight hysteria. I've read, I'll watch, but I definitely don't love. Definitely. Don't. Love. What I do love though? New Moon in Spanish. Something about the direct translation of New Moon to Luna Nueva just brought joy to my heart. And there were posters every.where.

Maybe my head's been in the sand as far as Luna Nueva was concerned pre-trip, but I hadn't even seen the poster! Holy creepy Jasper. (Even creepier when we found his face floating around on the ground in a random part of town. And maybe we took it with us for a day or so.)

So Monday/Lunes night/noche we took ourselves to the movie. For FOUR DOLLARS. In a nicer theater than any Boston l. We really didn't know if the movie was going to be dubbed or have Spanish subtitles. Either way it would have been hilarious. On a map, the theater looked near our apartment but we had a bit of difficulty finding it. While it threw a little hiccup in our plan, it also let us ask the question every 8th grader learns for conversational Spanish -- "Por favor, donde estan las cinemas?" Ohmygosh you guys, we couldn't quit laughing. And we both got to ask it to different people. One of my favorite moments of the trip.

Boy oh boy. I have plenty to say about this movie, but I'll keep it to myself. And move on!

So now! As promised! The first GIVEAWAY in NatA! history:

I have in my possession.
A copy.
Of Luna Nueva.
For one of you lucky readers. I'm not sure if it works, or what the quality is, but I have procured an illegal copy of this tasty (and terrible) treat.
And I will mail it to you.

So drop me a comment by Thursday at noon and I'll randomly draw for this giveaway! And then hope it works.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Trips are hard work

The short news is, I'm home. The long news is that I've spent more time sleeping and clearing off the recorded goodies on my DVR rather than deal with the unpacking, the laundry, and the general back to real life-ness required after a week out of the country. Had I not left my apartment keys in Argentina I may have had a bit more spare time today to deal with real life... but who'm I kidding? I'd probably still be sleeping and watching TV rather than laundry.

My photos have been uploaded however and they're ready to roll. I'm ready to start telling you about the trip and all it's wonderful splendorness--there's so much to tell and so many legs of the journey to cover I'm not quite sure how I'll organize, but I will tell you that there'll be a NatAttack first tomorrow--A GIVEAWAY. So stay tuned on Monday for your chance to win something ridiculous from abroad.

Another special thanks to all the guest bloggers--didn't they do a great job? I had a blast checking in to see what was going on in these parts while I was away. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Jamar, Stephanie, Juan, Whitney, Kendall, Mallory, and Mary. Make sure to add them to your reader lists, they all write a good blog.

Also, is November over yet? This blogging every day thing is taxing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nat is Awesome.

It's the holidays! Black Friday is past, and Christmas is on the queue. Lots of hustle. Plenty o'bustle. Everyone's excited to see the family, find the perfect gift, eat all the best foods, pull out the Christmas music, light the fires, and basically have a ball. Simultaneous with this, many of us are fighting off the germs threatening us at every handshake or touch of a door handle. I myself have been recovering slowly from…well…it doesn't really have a name. If I had to name the thing that gives you a runny nose, constant coughing, body aches, sore throat, a cold sore, and a tense neck, I think I'd name it Carla. Carla works as well as anything else. Carla has more or less gone away, but in her wake of wrathful phlegm, she leaves behind a single chotchkie...a cough. This cough is surely familiar to you. Long after all symptoms have left, even months later, the cough remains. Like dust flakes coating your inner respiratory, it lingers, lifts, and regenerates ad nauseum. Perhaps you've been up nights enjoying this leftover piece of crap for a cold symptom, or annoyed the daylights out of other movie theater patrons on a Saturday afternoon. Yes, there are many things about the cough that make you want to punch yourself in the lungs, but hey! Don't do that! Turn that smile upside down, friend! Because here it is. A special list for you.

Fun Things To Do With A Residual Carla Cough

  1. Cough in a descending scale of pitches. For advanced pupils, try arpeggios.
  2. Use the cough to help further cultivate your chimpanzee imitation.
  3. Go to a movie or play and see how many times you can cough during the pauses in dialogue. At the show's beginning you are allotted fifty points. You lose two points every time you interrupt a line. If you reach curtain call with at least 45 points or more, you get a steak dinner. Have the theater patron in front of you pay.
  4. Visit the supermarket wearing a mask, and when you're standing next to someone, lift it away from your face only when you cough, replace when coughing is done. Then give your fellow shopper a hello and keep moving.
  5. Create a cough interpretive dance. Put the cough into your whole body, and move as the cough would have you go. Set this dance to Kenny Loggins' beloved, "Danger Zone."
  6. Make lots of crank calls to pizza joints and sandwich shops where you must list several custom toppings, making sure to cough directly into the phone like a maniac in between items.

Well, folks, that's six. That should get you started. If you have a great idea to add, please put it in a comment! I'm going to start on my interpretive dance now. See yas!

Nat Is Awesome.



Friday, November 27, 2009

That's Right, It's Turkey Day

I am Nat's younger sister, 3rd of the 4 girls in our family. Nat was gracious enough to allow me to blog about my day of Thanksgiving for all to read.

This was my first married Thanksgiving, and I offered to host for my husband's family (brave, I know). Alaina (oldest of the daughters) lent me her house for our festivities and we crammed 11 adults and 5 kids into Lain's 3 bedroom condo. I had my first experience with cooking a turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy for all 16 (minus the 1 baby) people. This was also the first year I heard about brining a turkey. The recipe is an Alton Brown Calvert family tried and true, and it turned out so nice and juicy. In fact, the only downside to the turkey was the slightly salty gravy. So anyway, we had all the classic favorites, and a dessert spread consisting of 7 different types of pie, oreo truffles, and butterscotch oatmeal cookies. I was so grateful to have so many people help out for Thanksgiving.

Now, I love Thanksgiving, but I am happy that starting tomorrow, I get to celebrate Christmas without being considered in the crazy category. I mean, not that it stopped me before, but now I can really celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. I put up a strand of lights outside on November 16 and set up the Christmas tree on the same day. I've slowly been putting up more and more Christmas decorations, and finished my outside lights on Wednesday night. I just can't help but celebrate my favorite time of year. How soon after Halloween is considered acceptable to start celebrating Christmas? Does Thanksgiving warrant it's own collection of pilgrim, indian, and Mayflower decorations? Thanks for reading and may your holiday season officially begin.

Written by Kendall, blog at http://kendalllee.blogspot.com and http://sousandhischef.blogspot.com/

ps. Sending this email from a draft in my inbox. I'm sorry, Nat! And thanks to Whit for posting on Thanksgiving.

Man Bags

I am a fan of convenience and practicality. Girls are allowed to carry purses but why is it so taboo is a man wants to carry a bag? Dear men of the world, I LOVE your bags. I love them so much that the last three months of college I've secretly pulled out my phone and taken a picture of your beautiful declarations of manhood every time I see you. I don't know what it is about BYU but there seems to be no shortage of attractive male characters carrying around bags of all
shapes and sizes. (Unfortunately I seem to have traveled home to Oregon without my miniSD card reader so I don't have my actual pictures but hopefully Nat will let me post them in the near future.)

Let me give you a little history of the origin of the man bag. It all started with Indiana Jones; the rugged professor that moonlighted as an adventurer and heart throb who carried around a bag. Of course it's possible I am a little bit biased seeing as I am in love with Harrison Ford, but it doesn't make a difference anyway. Indiana noticed the convenience in not having to carry everything around in either his hands or pockets. His adventure time was greatly improved by his ability to store his valuables in the bag strung sidesaddle around his hips and at times this nifty feature saved his life. Time does not stand still for a man while he stores his valuables deep in his pockets.

Man bags can tell a girl a lot about the man carrying it. Perhaps it is a laptop bag with a padded strap. This tells us the man can't go anywhere without his technology fix. If it's soft leather with many buckles on the front it's probably safe to infer that that man has nothing to hide and is just a confidant man with a bag. Then there is the briefcase** on a strap which reads "strictly business". All styles are different and all styles can be acceptable.

Friends, I urge you to open your eyes and see the beauty of a man with a bag. They come in all styles and shapes, from leather to cloth and even canvas. All sorts of embellishments can be seen but it is up to the man to carry the bag. Carry the bag, don't let the bag carry you. If you are a man, tote that bag around with pride! America is the land of opportunity and all should have the opportunity for the greatest convenience. Oh and I think it's pretty safe to say most women greatly love a man with his bag. At least I know I do.

Love the bag, love the man.

Next trend: Fanny-packs for women. Think about how great it is to not have to hold on to your purse. I've already got one and it's leather. That's class if I ever saw it.


**They can call it a briefcase but as long as it's got a strap, it's a man bag.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Midnight Madness

Well, first off I need to apologize.  I totally dropped the ball yesterday.  I thought about my glorious post, but alas, work consumed my time until 3 AM this morning.  Yes.  3. AM. 

Well, anyway, on to the late blog post. 

Last year my mom and I had the genius idea to go to the Gilroy outlets for the Ralph Lauren factory store sale.  We figured, hey, no one is going to want to stay up that late for some deals, but we, the shopper-extraordinaires would.  Well, turns out we were wrong.  The line of the freeway was so backed up, it took us 45 minutes just get to the exit and into the parking lot, where we could not find a parking spot.  We were relegated to the open, dark, muddy farm fields behind.  We walked 20 minutes to get to the outlet store where you could barely walk without bumping into another person.  Let's just say...it was MADNESS. 

Thankfully my sweet husband came with me and my mom.  While I looked for Christmas presents and treats for us, he got in the massively long line to check out (I think it took 45 minutes just to get to a cashier).  But the deals!  The deals were great and a couple days after the whole experience seemed like a bad dream, my mom and I were really happy we went (it has taken Mike a few more months to recover).

So now that I have forgotten all of those painful crowd-mob memories, we are off tonight to Midnight Madness...only in Marysville -- where they have EVEN BETTER outlets! 

Kate Spade 50% off the entire store?  Yes please.  J.Crew clearance?  Sign me up.  Ralph Lauren too?  Burberry?  Brooks Brothers?  Oh boy. 

Let's just hope we don't get stampeded.

{Thanks Nat and you can find me at: http://richardhasbeenreplaced.blogspot.com}

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Un buen viaje!

Hola mis amigos!

A quick interruption from your scheduled guest bloggers (aren´t they doing a GREAT job!?) for a jaunty hola from Argentina. People. This place is muy fantastico! Perhaps my favorite place so far. But that could have more to do with the warm (at times hot, HELLO sunburn) weather, the cheap wares, and the food. I promptly bought two pairs of antique boots at the market and have been drinking Coke Light like it´s cheaper than water (as it is). Last night we had steaks as big as my face, and as they were as flavorful and tender as everyone says they are.

Perhaps my favorite thing so far has been our $4 spend to see Luna Neueva at the Cinemark theater just a few blocks from our house. FOUR DOLLARS folks. This will deserve a post all in itself (when photos can be included) but definitely a fun evening.

The place we´ve rented is AMAZING. JUST AMAZING. The perfect location, the perfect price, the perfect place to spread out. THERE´S SO MUCH TO SAY AND TALK ABOUT!

Okay, I´ll end now, but you´ll be happy to know my Spanish has picked right back up, and I´m basically a pro now. I can order food, ask for directions, answer questions about myself and generally navigate life. (Having Colleen as another Spanish speaker just above my level has made us UNSTOPPABLE.)

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to everyone. Hope you´re happy and well and enjoying the Northern Hemisphere.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Point Oh

I like giving people nick names. Natalie made it easy. If memory serves me well, the first time I read this blog it was this hair color changing related post in which she refereed to herself as "Nat 2.0". Thus from that moment on when talking about her with Colleen I took to calling her Natalie 2.0 since Colleen and I knew another Natalie here in Austin. I don't know when during our chit-google-talks Friday Night Lights came up, but we sure do share a passion for that show and here I live in the town it is filmed in. Not once have I run into any of the cast members. Once, at a party, I met a football scene crowd extra. Such is my luck.

Oh yes, right about now you may be wondering who I am. My name is Juan and I'm a friend of Colleen's from way back. This is one of my favorite Collen pictures that I've taken. It must have taken me about 3 trips to Boston for all the stars to align properly and get a picture with Natalie and her signature picture mouth pose.

Tomorrow I'm on my way up to Fort Worth(less) for Thanks Giving. I'm always thankful for all the amazing women in my life.

And for the fact that they don't slap me when I prank them.

Over at my blog, the latest posts have some synergy going. One is all songs by singers named Natalie. The other, an instrumental Tango Suite. Check it out.

[ Juan ]

By Request: A Photo

By request (I aim to please Breona!) a photo. I picked one with Nat in it just for funsies.

Creature of Habit

It's coming down to the wire on my assigned day of guest blogging - in fact, for you East Coasters it's already Tuesday and I've missed the boat - and I'm feeling the pressure. Who knew blogging on a schedule would be so hard? Lucky for me I rock the West Coast, Seattle to be exact, and still have time. But I guess I wouldn't be me if I didn't sprinkle every assignment with a little procrastination. By way of introduction, I'm stephanielynn and am a friend of Nat's from her Utah (post-college) days. We first bonded in the workplace and over many, many baskets of rolls at The Texas. The bonding continues from afar over things like Friday Night Lights, RW/RR Challenges, SYTYCD...you know, the finer things in life.

This morning I was thinking about how habit rules my life without me even realizing it. And I would imagine that I'm not alone. This thought came to me today after I had some laptop trouble at work. Between the hours of 8:30 and 10:00am I received the blue screen of death upwards of seven times always followed by my computer automatically restarting. Not exactly ideal in terms of productivity. After my new IT (best) friend took a look he announced, "I think you might have a virus".

Perfect. My computer caught the swine flu.

Thirty minutes later and I had my very own "loaner laptop" to get me through the day. I had my email. I had the Internet. I should have been set, right?


I may as well have been my 85 year-old grandfather trying to figure this thing out. I had no links saved as favorites. I struggled to remember passwords. There were no contacts auto-populating in my emails. My shortcuts to files were no longer on my desktop. Not to mention the loaner introduced me to the world of Vista.

Oh boy. I was lost.

And this led my mind to wander through all of the habits I've fallen into on a daily basis and marvel at how my life could get so turned upside down by the slightest unbalance in my routine. Like the time a weekly report at work got delayed by ONE day and it felt as though the world would end. What?! You mean I have to analyze this data on THURSDAY? But that's what I do on WEDNESDAY!  Can. Not. Compute. System. Crashing. And then my head exploded.

So I've decided to give myself a challenge - feel free to join me. The challenge is this: To simply be more aware. To live consciously instead of just going through the motions. And to possibly throw myself a curve ball every so often.

We'll start of slow. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll by a different flavor of Vitamin Water. Or I might just sleep on the left side of the bed tonight instead of the right. Or if I'm feeling really crazy, I'll analyze that data on Friday instead of Wednesday.

But let's not get too carried away.

You can find me here: http://thehardestthingandtherightthing.blogspot.com/
(And let's not judge the name of my blog, okay? We'll just let that one slide.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ready. Set. Cook, Eat and Repeat.

Pretend this a Sunday post, for NatAttack's sake...

Quick Intro: Hello, my name is Jam (or Jamar) and I coming to you straight from Gossip Girl Land (NYC). NatAttack and I have been friendshipping it up going on 7 years now. So here is my entry.

So, I work for a culinary magazine and guess what? Ta daaaaa, I love food. Big deal, everyone loves food, right? Of course, but some are more industrious than others. I feel like everyone who comes into my office to interview for a position always exclaim they have a "passion" for food. I guess for me that word is more played out than S.Palin's Oprah interview, but alas, there really is no other word to describe it. So naturally, my favorite holiday is one that involves massive amounts of food to be prepared under my tutelage. Thanksgiving. Ahh the days when I would awake to the smells of freshly baked yeasty rolls and the aromatic scent of turkey and ham, as they move in concert one with another. My mom and grandmothers are amazing cooks and I believe they have channeled their "passion" for an excellent gastronomic event into my ideas of a classic Thanksgiving feast. So, my friend Carol and I have decided to join forces this year and cook for the masses, or about 10 of our friends that are still in New York. She has the turkey, I have the ham. She's got the potatoes and cranberries and I've got the brussels and rolls covered. And the list goes on until we have more than enough to feed our waistlines. Now it's quite ironic, but the dinner itself isn't what brings me joy. I revel in the preparation of pie crusts, seasoning vegetables, and finding that perfect glaze to accompany the community ham. However, I also look forward to 3.5 hours after the initial dinner when everyone has awakened from their glutton-filled slumber for round 2. Nothing is more sexy and appetizing than to know that a full spread of goodies is waiting for you to stuff into 3-5 rolls.
As for my daily eating choices, I am definitely not a food snob. I would consider myself what you would call an "Equal Opportunity Eater". I have no biases against food as long as it tastes good going down. You can see me hobnobbing with my co-workers at a restaurant tasting, or you can see me with NatAttack at the BK throwing down burgers as I refill her cup with equal parts diet and regular Coke (it's an instant key to her heart.) Well readers, I believe I have fulfilled my obligations to the blog. Now excuse me as I figure out what to eat for lunch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life from the front row

Another lotto win on Broadway. STOP. Lyrical hip hop song and dance. STOP. Set in New York. STOP. Photo taken from my seat in the front row before the show started and changed my life. STOP. If you're bored this holiday week, search "In The Heights" on YouTube. STOP.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

starting a bucket list

Of late, I've been part of several conversations about bucket lists. I struggle to contribute because I don't have a detailed list of what I want to do or learn--in fact, I generally steal from other people's lists. (I can thank Katie for my Argentinian Thanksgiving adventure!)

Sometimes I think bucket lists are cliché because they either include cheesy duhs (Tell someone you love them. At the beach.) or are unatainably ridiculous (kill an elephant and mount the tusks in the living room!). I'm also judgy, so don't listen to me.

However cold and dark my heart however, inspiration must have struck because I'm ready to present my first two totally attainable bucket list items:

1. Sit courtside at an NBA game.
2. Cook a (good) turkey

So there you have it. If you, or someone you know can help me achieve these goals, that'd be helpful.

What's the most absurd item on your bucket list? What else should be on MY bucket list?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I Believe: Gratitude

Alternate Title: "I too am thankful for muffins and donuts"

...and also so many of the other things in this sweet video.

With the Thanksgiving holiday all but around the corner, my thoughts are turned to tradition, blessings, and the gratitude I feel so strongly in my life. I've watched this video countless times (funny considering my perpetual disdain for streaming video) because it's funny, and warm, and I love the feeling I get listening to Elder Oaks talk.

I love Elder Oaks challenge, "Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality." So true! My personal journey is different than each of yours and this blog should be a testament to that fact! Lately I've been ruminating on a blog post on the "Why I Came to Boston" (which has never been fully discussed here) and have unanimously agreed with myself that this little adventure of mine has truly changed my life. It's not a circumstance I ever considered would become a reality, but I guess God had a different circumstance in mind for me, eh? How thankful I am for that. (And will discuss at length further. Later.)

"When we understand that God offers us opportunities for blessings and blesses us through our own adversities and the adversities of others we can understand why He has commanded us again and again to thank the Lord they God in all things."

So this is it. My general shout out of Gratitude in Thanksgiving for all that I've been given. For the tactile goods and tools required for everyday living. For the intangible quality (and eternal!) relationships I share with my family and friends. For my innate gifts and talents. For the ability to express myself freely. For the time and talents and desire to serve in God's Kingdom. For learning to truly love myself and recognizing my worth as a daughter, a sister, a friend.

For independence.
For dependence.

For Happy Ever After.
And most importantly...
For Happy Right Now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Driving off with Best in Show

It's very late so I'll keep this short. I'm just getting home from work events for the day. Why? We attended a very prestigious web development awards ceremony tonight--complete with the semi-dressy cocktail dresses, the semi-boozy industry professionals, and a few sites up for awards.

I'm happy to announce that Zipcar.com won not only the first award of the night for Applied Technology but also a Best in Show award for User Experience. I won't go into a lot of detail, but huge, huge wins. (Celebrated with quite a few drinks and celebratory dinners on Newbury Street.) A fabulous big name client win on a site I was owner to and sole manager of. The client couldn't be more pleased and these two wins combined with a few other work things this week are giving me my best work week ever. I know I shouldn't need tangible proof to prove I'm good at my job, but it does feel nice. Glad I'm not a waste of cyber space. That stuff don't come too cheap. Wiiiiiink.

Monday, November 16, 2009

First a copilot, now an architect

Not only is our burned out church building being rebuilt, but we're getting a new Stake Center. Cambridge, Mass. thanks everyone for being tithing payers. This image cracks me right up: (click the photo for a bigger image if you can't see):
Not sure who updated the sign, but I feel like this is an image you'll start seeing in email forwards pretty soon. The new Stake Center is the first of its kind in our area -- our closest Stake Center is 12 miles (~30 minutes) West of here -- so we're thrilled!

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!