Archive | December 2010

No More Complaints…Maybe

Is it actually possible to eradicate (or at least minimize) the amount of complaining in daily life?

In a bi-coastal experiment “The Reluctant Housewife” and I will explore how our lives and the lives of those around us might be changed if we tone down the complaining.

Follow our progress (and set backs) at No More Complaints.

2010 Year in Review

I had reservations about starting this blog (mostly whether I would ever have anything to talk about), but I’ve enjoyed my first year in the blogosphere. After looking back at the 85+ posts from 2010, I tried to pick out my favorite 5. Sadly for you, it was impossible for me to narrow it to less than 10.

Without further ado, my top 10 posts of 2010.

January 25: How to be a Good Housewife
The post that started it all!

March 23: Attack of the Killer Ants!
We were so lucky to have these special guests come and go throughout the year … Here’s hoping that they will not make a repeat appearance in 2011!

March 30: Coupon Clipper Extraordinaire
My ability to save more than I spend thanks to super double coupon days definitely had to make it on the top 10!

April 6: The Visitors
I am cheating a little bit with this one since it ended up being a 3-part series — first my college friends visited, then we had Norwegian/English guests who were stranded thanks to the Icelandic Volcano and they were followed by my in-laws.

July 15: A New Routine
Summer 2010 brought ridiculous heat and an altered work schedule that I think made everyone think I might be losing it.

July 20: The Seven Year Itch
After a lengthy hiatus from singing, I took to the stage and had my first recital since I was 18!

August 3: The Life of a Freelancer
With the first half of the year behind me, I examined the ups and downs of life as a freelancer.

August 11: The Intern
Business was treating me so well that I was able to have not one, but two interns, during 2010. They didn’t get a whole lot done, but they were pretty darn cute!

September 9: Happy Wednesday!
A wedding anniversary shouldn’t be the only special day for a married couple.

November 22: Conversations in Amman
Traveling is always a wonderful experience and our trip to Jordan left us with some particularly entertaining stories…

After reviewing my adventures from the past 12 months, I anxiously anticipate what will come my way in 2011. Hopefully I will find the time in the new year to write about more quirky household experiences and you will continue to enjoy reading about them.

Happy (early) New Year!

Good Intentions

When I was heading home for the holidays I crafted a long list of things I would get accomplished while in California. The list included (among other things):

• finishing a press release and making contacts for a theatre project
• playing around with design ideas for a new client
• blogging four or five times during the break about all the things I have been baking/crafting/etc

I think it is clear that these thing have not yet happened. Alas, fitting my lengthy to-do list into the schedule my husband and I arranged to fit in everything we wanted to do while visiting our families and friends isn’t going as I had envisioned. Even if the schedule says “lunch with grandma, dinner with A’s parents,” somehow the whole day is accounted for. I had imagined I could take care of things during the hours in between, but somehow those hours seem to have simply vanished into thin air.

Despite my best intentions, I have not yet blogged from home. I failed to post about the second round of holiday cookie decorating when I used pink-tipped tweezers to get my bell sugar cookie decorated perfectly nor did I mention my parents 40th wedding anniversary earlier this week. Now with Christmas right around the corner I should be finalizing our gift wrapping during the precious few hours I have home alone, but here I am in front of the computer — it seems that nothing goes according to plan!

But I am not complaining that these things haven’t been completed. On the contrary, I am so grateful that my hours have been filled with good company, food and wine during the past week. I am attempting to let go of the things on my list that haven’t been accomplished yet and hope you will join me. Our lists will be waiting for us after the holidays, so tonight I urge you to sit around a fire, sing some Christmas carols and have some mulled cider with loved ones.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Guest Blog: Manliest of Mugs

In an attempt to keep the creative juices flowing, be thoughtful AND keep costs down around the holidays (I’m tired out just typing all that) I try to make gifts for my friends. This year, along with the usual homemade libations, I attempted a Mod Podge (hereafter known as MP) project. MP is this crazy stuff you can use to paint just about anything flat onto anything else relatively flat. I am pretty sure that is their slogan.

Luckily the ‘what to make’ with the MP issue solved itself early this year. I’ve been a bit obsessed over fake mustaches. Why? I have no clue. Perhaps it is a desire to transform a symbol of machismo or down-right creepiness into silliness and whimsy or perhaps a knock on the head as a child, who knows, it will likely remain a mystery of the universe. What is important is for me to share my mustache obsession with friends and family during the holidays.

After a rather difficult task of incorporating fake mustaches into this year’s holiday photo (imagine trying to keep an 11–month–old from ripping off their fake mustache and stop fidgeting while waiting for the timer on the camera to just finish already and take the picture!), I thought I was up for the holiday gift challenge of incorporating fake mustaches into fun and/or usable gifts. Utility is a nice feature in gifts. It turned out to be far easier than the holiday photo. Far faaaar easier.

What was this fabulously macho yet gender-neutral gift? Why, a mustached mug of course! Who couldn’t use a bit of humor with their mug of coffee or tea in the morning?

If you are interested in making your own mustached mug – here are the directions:

You will need:
• Mustache stickers or clings (try Etsy.com and help out crafters selling their wares)
• A light-colored mug
• A sponge-y paintbrush Mod Podge

Wash and dry the mug. Decide where to place your mustache. (I had my husband hold up the mug in front of his face with the rim of the mug just under his nose and then placed the mustache where his upper lip would be.) Follow the directions on the package to apply the mustache. Paint a thin coat of Mod Podge over the mustache area – it will dry clear. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and put on a second coat. After the second coat is dry – wash the mug again and voila a manly mug for girls and boys!

– The Reluctant Housewife

Home for the Holidays

San Francisco visit during Christmas 2007

With only 11 days until Christmas and the air in DC  becoming more and more frigid, I find myself anxiously anticipating my trip to California tomorrow. Am I packed? Yes. Am I ready? Definitely not. For some reason, I feel rushed and unprepared for this trip, despite the fact that my work projects are all in a good place — either on hold for the holidays or in the process of being reviewed — and it is so cold, I can’t wait to get out of here!

Maybe it is my lack of excitement about the traveling process itself. After flying from DC to Paris, Paris to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Amman, Amman to London and London back to DC last month, I am a little over airports and airplanes to be perfectly frank.

But in California family and friends, balmy weather (comparatively speaking) and all my favorite local eateries await. Yes, it might be sad, but having my favorite iced mocha is an important part of any trip home. In fact, a few weeks ago I dreamt that I had been staying with my parents for nearly a week and hadn’t gone to the cafe yet — let’s just say I was shocked and pretty disoriented when I woke up. That couldn’t really happen, right??

Being home means numerous family dinners. Playing with Bonnie the black Labrador.  Celebrating my parents 40th wedding anniversary. Visiting with friends over drinks, coffee, lunch — really, any excuse to eat and catch up works for me! Shopping with my mom. Wine tasting with my in-laws. It’s two weeks of fabulous times.

In about 16 hours I will be trudging through the airport wearing my backpack and lugging my canvas sack of gifts and snacks, pulling off my shoes, coat and sweater, and carrying my plastic bag of liquids — always a fun balancing act. But it’s an early morning routine that is well worth it to see my parents 8 hours later for the first time since July, eat at In & Out burger and finally get my hands on that iced mocha I’ve been dreaming about!

Annual Amaryllis Contest, Part 2

I was sitting in the living room this weekend admiring the Christmas tree and eating one (I swear, only one) of the cookies I baked when I glanced over and saw my depressing looking amaryllis.

You may recall my mention of said plant last week, but despite having another week to grow, the amaryllis is looking just as sad as before.

I went through some holiday pictures from last year and found shots of my thriving 2099 amaryllis. Since I don’t think I am going to get anywhere near as beautiful of a plant in 2010, I thought I’d admire last years instead. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to see a green stalk, let alone any flowers!

Baking Bonanza

 

After Decoration

It doesn’t seem quite like the holidays without fresh baked cookies galore. Today I tackled my first round of baking madness, making about 10 dozen cookies to share at a cookie swap and give as gifts. I got a head start last night, preparing some chocolate crinkle cookie dough so that it could rest in the fridge over night. This morning I  whipped up some snickerdoodle dough allowing it to chill while I ran errands.

Once home, I spent the following two hours putting sheet after sheet of cookies in the oven and finally decorating the sugar cookies with sprinkles, red hots and colorful sugar.

Now, you may notice that my sugar cookies are not amazing Christmas trees, snowmen or winter bells. No, I am far too lazy for that undertaking. Instead I take the easy way out by making drop sugar cookies. I mean, as long as the cookies are slathered in frosting and topped with sparkling decoration, who cares what they look like. Right?

Now my back is killing me thanks to our tile floor and my fingers smell like cinnamon sugar (I guess there isn’t really anything wrong with this), but it is well worth it to have all these sweet treats to share.

Next week baking extravaganza number two, a yearly tradition with my aunt in California, will occur. However, she is a much more dedicated baker than I am and actually rolls out her gingerbread and sugar cookie dough, then uses cookie cutters to make all sorts of adorable options. Really, today was just a warm-up to get my creative juices flowing so that I am ready to take on the stars, Santa Clauses and cute cottages that are coming my way in five days.