Monday, December 25, 2006

What made today better than I expected

Sleeping in, then making our way to have the best dim sum anywhere in a nearly-deserted shopping district.

Some nice, quiet moments with my really awesome parents.

Adorable friends who loved the gifts I gave them.

Leftover turducken, broccoli-rice casserole, and meatballs (oh yes, meatballs).

Falling asleep with Pirates on the TV.

An open CVS, well-stocked with Haagen-Dazs.

The non-stop company of my goofy, blockheaded, hilarious, loving husband.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Silver bells

Christmas in Houston is always...pretty much what you expect it to be. It could be anything between 25 and 75F, the traffic in front of the Galleria and Baybrook Mall will look worse than you've ever seen it, people drive even more rudely than normal (probably because, in my estimation, they leave their brains at home for the entire of December), and you will not get done everything you meant to, though you have given it the old college try. Frustration in the city - like any city, anywhere - is par for the course.

I'm not an organized person, either, so the holidays will usually not go as smoothly for me as I ever hope. Nevertheless, I do still have a few Favorite Things.

I love driving down Post Oak and seeing the rows of white-lighted trees.

I love walking in a store and smelling cinnamon.

I love turning out baked goods that make people gush.

I love that my husband, as much as he misses sometimes, always gets me Just The Right Things for Christmas. (To wit: an iPod dock with speakers and a box set of Good Eats DVDs.)

I love that people put Santa hats on their dogs.

I love seeing little girls in pretty red dresses, and little boys in dress-up shirts and pants.

And no matter what we've been through, or how often they drive me crazy, or how much trouble it took me to figure out what to get them...I love my family, and my friends, who are the "family I choose."

There have been times this year when it's been hard to be grateful. Times when I just wanted to hibernate, just to hole up with Bryan and the cats and knit and nosh and watch TV for days on end. Some of them have even been within the past few days.

But the thing is: I have a good life. A husband I'm crazy in love with, parents that adore us, more good friends than I ever imagined, a great job, a kitchen full of food and gadgets, and a lovely stash of yarn. It's not perfect, but it's really, really good. It is, in the end, the Best Christmas Gift of All.

Thanks to all of you for reading, to the commenters, to the knitters I see regularly and the bloggers that I don't - for the inspiration and the cookies and the yarn and the friendship. I wish an abundance of blessings on all of you...

...and that every day is full of things you love.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Miss me?

Yeah, me too. Work blah blah, holidays bleh bleh. I have, as usual, somewhat overcommitted myself to projects - though, in my defense, I have actually accomplished quite a bit on some of them. Just...not as much as I'd maybe hoped.

But still, there's a lot of (if not quite enough) knitting happening, a few things going on in the kitchen and the craft room, and still more time than I would normally have to handle at least part of the over-planning. Most importantly, I think I'm more truly inspired than I have been in the past.

I can, alas, share little of this inspiration now. Yes, I know you've heard that several hundred times from several dozen other bloggers, but such is the nature of surprise, yes?

So, while I'm stuck for things that will prove my relative industriousness, I *can* share a few bits and pieces that are giving me a completely non-chemical holiday buzz.

- I feel like cooking again. Yay! Starting with my Best Batch of Pumpkin Bread Ever in October, I have been About the Kitchen Stuff lately. I'm making my award-winning (well, at least among Bryan's Crew) Chili Masala for the department party on Wednesday, and probably starting on the baked goods tomorrow too. (So, Central Houston SnBers: yes, there will be home-baked goodness coming your way in the next two weeks.) I also talked to my mom today about cooking for Christmas Eve, which is when she'll have The Big Dinner for several out-of-town visitors.

- I just spent the weekend with my lovely BFF, her neato husband, and Thomas The Coolest Two-Year-Old Ever again, this time on their turf. Thomas has thoroughly learned my name and used it rather often, which I love. I took pictures, but they weren't so great.

- Bryan and I were shopping in Target last week when I came across the method holiday display. Now, we're regular users of various method products - it's one of the few lines that has fragranced home products that are pleasant, useful, and tolerable by overly-sensitive me. (We have pink grapefruit and lavender items in use in different rooms.)

A quick sniff of the three holiday fragrances, and I'd found a new household love: peppermint vanilla hand wash. People, I can't even tell you how giddy this stuff makes me. It's lightly-scented happy in a pretty bottle, it's cheap, and it's useful. You should get some, or at least try it, and maybe try the frosted cranberry and spiced pear stuff too.

- Finally, something that actually looks like Christmas, right here in a post. From me. (Hey, you never know.) This is from the Central Texas Mini-Tour II, which Bryan and I undertook on Thanksgiving weekend. That Friday, there was unbelievable barbecue in Lockhart, and a stroll through Bastrop's Riverwalk, which was scattered with lovely little displays like this:

Christmas lights are officially my favorite part of the holiday, to be sure. But really, the best part - warning: mush ahead - was strolling along with my honey on a cool, breezy evening, enjoying each other's company. It wasn't a stunning show, no one sprung out any priceless gifts or fancy dinners, and we were thoroughly dressed to chill. But I still think that night will sit in my Best Things Ever mental scrapbook for a long time to come.

...And so to bed. Remind me to tell y'all about my trip to Twisted Yarns this past Friday. :)