Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Young Adult

For the past few months I've had an obsession with reading young adult fiction.  I've always been a closet YA fan, but only recently have I allowed myself to read them with abandon.  Sure, I mix in a few "literary must-reads" here and there...and a smattering of biography and history, but my purest pleasure comes from getting lost in the worlds painted by YA authors.

I love that in YA literature good and evil are so clearly delineated.  And, though it may go back and forth for a while and may be precariously close to tipping in the other direction, good eventually triumphs over evil.  Not every story may end wrapped nicely in a bow, but for the most part they're somewhat uplifting. 

It's a nice change from much of the literature on my "I have to read this book because it's influential/classic/will-come-up-in-educated-conversation (or jeopardy)" list.

Here's what I've been reading lately:

The Maze Runner series by Dashner
Eragon by Paolini
the Matched series by Condi
the Divergent series by Roth
the Artemis Fowl series by Colfer
The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster (for maybe the 15th time - it's a favorite)
the Flavia de Luce series by Bradley
the Percy Jackson series by Riordan
the Hobbit by Tolkien (also for the umpteenth time)

So, my question for you is: what should I be reading now?  I'm currently working my way through A People's History of the United States, but am finding its apologist view of history more-than-slightly depressing.  I need a good YA book to keep my spirits afloat.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cleaning out the closets

Blake has been out of town a lot lately for work.  In fact, he's been gone about two nights a week for the last 5 weeks: Chicago, Dallas, New York, Boston, Atlanta...the list goes one. 

While he's away, I try to keep myself extra busy.  It's usually the time when I finally get down to business with my housekeeping- vacuuming, scrubbing baseboards etc., but it's also when I do a lot of crafting.

Last night some friends came over and we watched the movie Brave while we knitted/sewed on our various projects. 

Knitting night may sound a bit sister-wives-ish, but let me tell you: it's simply grand!  It's the perfect time to watch silly movies, eat snacks, and attempt one of the pins languishing in the depths of the pinterest archives. 

Blake served part of his mission in Cape Verde (a group of islands off the west coast of Africa).  Some of his converts made him lace doilies by hand as a thank you gift.  They've been hiding out in the back of his closet in New Hampshire ever since, but this summer when I saw them I knew I wanted to drag them out and make something useful out of them.  I'd seen an idea on pinterest via Martha Stewart and mentally filed it away as a potential use for the doilies.

So yesterday it was finally down to business.  After much arranging and re-arranging, I came up with a satisfactory placement and roughly sewed the doilies together.  I may or may not have accidentally sewn a couple of them to the rug as I went (wasn't that a fun discovery at the end when I tried to pick the whole thing up? whoops).

After snipping my creation free of the rug, I added it to the table with a new poinsettia from the grocery store and some grey-green candles.  Nothing glamorous, but it makes me happy to have Christmas making an appearance at the house.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First world problems

Most years I have my Christmas shopping done (or close to done) by Thanksgiving.  This is partially because I like to plan ahead and find deals throughout the year, but it's mostly due to the fact that I absolutely can't stand going to the mall in December.

The crowds.  The harsh lights.  The cold weather outside that makes me dress warm and then carry around more and more clothes as I shed layers in the store. 

I get stressed.  I get tired.  I get sweaty.

This year I am way behind.  As in I just started my shopping this week.  November 2012, I love you, but you're bringing me down.  Why are you bringing me down?

Now, this late start would be ok if I actually had a idea in mind of what to buy for everyone on my list.  Then I could go clicky clicky online from the comfort of my own bed on Black Friday morning and get most of it taken care of.  But alas, I'm fresh out of ideas. 

Like most December-mall-o-phobes, I'll be turning to the internet for guidance (and pestering my family and friends with every spare second of my time for their lists).  I'll tell you one thing, though, there ain't no way you'll see me out at all hours waiting in line with those hooligans on Black Friday.

BuzzFeed claims that the the US Army lists Walmart as the most dangerous place in the country on Black Friday each year.  Not Detroit, not SE DC, but Walmart. 

If that's not enough to keep you out of the malls this weekend, I don't know what would.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apocalypse Now

The world is in a sorry state.  You know how I know?  Because something like this is for sale on the world wide web.  And it's for sale for $49.00 (!!!). 

The dubious levels of taste on Etsy make me question the status of the human race. [And now I'm off to have nightmares about those bulging black eyes.]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Au Bonheur des Dames

So, we've learned that I sometimes get drawn in my infomercials.

Well, infomercials are nothing compared to the infinite buying (spending?) opportunities that fall clothing catalogues provide. 

Colder weather equals more layers equals more clothes equals scarves/sweaters/jackets/earmuffs etc. 

And the terrible thing is that it's hard to escape.  J.Crew sends what seems like hundreds of catalogues each year, Nordstrom's glossy mags are more like books, and let's not even get started on the dreaded email promotions that flood my inbox on a daily basis. 

I rarely buy anything, but my online shopping carts at any given point are filled at probably 15 different stores.  I get some sort of grim satisfaction going through the site, picking out everything I want, and then seeing the total at the end.  I think it's satisfying mostly because the total always scares me out of making even a single purchase.  Fear is an effective budgeting tool.

But, in an effort to reign in my online shopping, I've been systematically unsubscribing myself from all sorts of mailing lists.  Goodbye to the siren's song of 30% off $150 or more at J.Crew.  Adieu to the shopping rabbit hole that is the 40% off friends and family sale at Gap. 

Plus, as Christmas approaches, I'm instituting a credit card embargo.  The only time my AmEx is allowed to make an appearance is when there are gifts for others involved...

P.S.  I am now realizing that this makes me sound like a shop-a-holic or a prolific spender.  I maintain that I am neither...I just tend to get starry-eyed over beautiful's The Ladies' Paradise up in here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bits and pieces.

If you really want to enjoy a chick flick, go out with a colleague on a Thursday night and catch the 8:00 showing.  It'll be post-happy hour, and filled with women who've had enough to drink that they're entertainingly heckling and swooning, but not so much to drink that they're obnoxious.  You won't regret it.

If you're unable to resist eating all of the left-over Halloween candy at home, put it in bags and hide it in out-of-the-way places.  I promise that this simple act will save you approximately 10,000 calories in under two days. 

If you really want a good political conversation, bring up the election with a DC resident and then remind them that their vote doesn't actually count.

If you're ever tempted by a TV infomercial, it's not always the best course of action to resist your purchase impulses.  Blake and I are now the proud owners of the Perfect Tortilla Pan Set, and after a test-run on Saturday, I can verify their absolute necessity.  (That's what having power during a hurricane does to you - it makes you watch 8 hours of TV so you get suckered into such things...)

City of Words DC is a recent find that will keep you sufficiently preoccupied during your lunch hour. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Coming up for air.


I've made it.

Hurricane Sandy closed down the Law Center for two days last week.  And, although it was lovely to have two days off (with power, miraculously!), I came back to absolute insanity at work.

You see, having two days cancelled means that we had to reschedule over 300 classes...all within the next four weeks until the semester is over.  It was a nightmare.  Picture a gigantic puzzle in which the pieces are constantly changing shape and deciding not to alight correctly on a whim. 

I'm down to tracking down my last handful of professors, and then I can breath a true sigh of relief, but at least I'm getting close and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So.  Other than craziness at work, yes, we're totally fine - no damage at home, no power outages, no water problems.  We're thankful that we just finished doing all our waterproofing projects this summer and are now certain they were worth every penny.  It's nice to feel like our money was well-spent.