Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Orange In My Stocking

It's going to Marvin's and getting the best tree you can find. It's discovering the perfect spot for your favorite ornament.

It's sweeping up pine needles for 25 straight days.

It's the huge tree in the Belk parking lot. It's Christmas in Dixie and The Redneck 12 Days of Christmas on the radio, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas on TV.

It's the Story A Day 'Til Christmas book, with one story to read each night until Christmas Eve.

It's the train depot decorations and the manger scenes in front of every church.

It's Christmas Eve candlelight services. It's driving around town looking at lights, with an occasional glance in the sky in hopes to see Santa Claus and his sleigh.

It's cookies and hot chocolate, singing carols next to the tree while mom plays piano and dad plays guitar. 

It's dad reciting "The Night Before Christmas" before you go to bed. It's saving the most beautifully decorated cookies for Santa, and putting out carrots for his reindeer carefully placed next to your Christmas list.

It's waking up on Christmas morning at 4AM, checking out your loot, then playing board games with your brother and sister until 6AM to pass the time (because that's the earliest mom and dad say you can wake them up!)

It's the apple and orange that's in your stocking every year. It's taking turns opening gifts, and a floor full of wrapping paper and ribbon.

It's putting on your new Christmas clothes. It's mom's egg casserole for breakfast and bringing out the good china for Christmas dinner--complete with ham and scalloped potatoes, surrounded by family and friends.

It's Christmas tradition.

This year may you be blessed with traditions new and old, and enjoy the magic this season brings-- whether you're 9 or 99!

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Tis The Season

In my very first blog post I made mention of the fact that I am a restless human being, jetting around participating in random activities, and can never sit still. I keep my schedule consistently full because I don't know how to not be busy, and maybe in some way like to see how far I can take myself.
As a matter of fact, this personality trait is one of the main reasons for the name of my blog - because I'm always on the run.  

Get it?!?! 
I know, I know, I should have gone into comedy.

So anyway, Christmas allows me to go into full beast mode and be completely psycho and fully engulf myself in new projects and decorating the house and baking goodies.

Exhibit A: Learning How to Sew

When I was little my mom hand made a good bit of our clothes. She sewed all of our Halloween costumes and made all of our Easter dresses. I have fond memories of going to Wal-Mart and picking out patterns and fabric (seriously, where was Project Runway in 1989?!). If our jeans got a hole in them (we all know how graceful I am, so that was often) mom would sew a patch in the knee with a fun colorful fabric.

 For whatever reason, I never took interest in learning how to sew at the time. Present day I have kicked myself in the pants for not sitting down with my mom for just 10 minutes to learn how to read a pattern and operate a sewing machine.
After becoming a member of Pinterest and wasting the hours away browsing the web's countless Christmas projects and getting inspired (which means seeing about 100 things I wanted to make that required knowledge of sewing) I made the decision that it was time to learn. 

So I took my first class, just in time for the holidays!

I made a wine bag, and learned how to thread, stitch, wind a bobbin, and make a button hole. 


Needless to say, this has opened up a whole can of worms in the creativity realm - don't be surprised if you get homemade gifts for the next 10 years.

Exhibit B: Decking the Halls

I'm the sap that loves putting up the ornaments on the tree while Christmas music is playing in the background, and hanging the stockings by the fireplace, and putting lights and outdoor ornaments on our palm trees outside (yea I live in Florida, we don't have Douglas Firs here so we make do). 

In typical DIY -Martha Stewart - Pinterest mode, I made my own rag wreath for the front door, made the tree topper with ribbon that I found on clearance last year, and am in the process of making my own tree skirt (in the process meaning I have the materials but haven't done anything with them yet).

I also put together this cute little guy below for the 1st Annual Christmas Tree Challenge at work -- each department received a tree and had a $20 budget to decorate.

Oh yea, I was all over this project like white on rice.

Can of white spray paint : 97 cents 
Can of fake snow spray: $2.99
Styrofoam head: $1.99
Styrofoam balls for buttons: $1.99 
Eyes and mouth (glued on river rocks): $2.99
Nose (glued on fake carrot): 99 cents
Arms: free, compliments of my backyard 
Hat and Scarf: free, previously owned 

I was $7 under budget -  I think I should get bonus points.

Exhibit C: Baking 
How To Make a Cake

My mom somehow managed to make everything from cut-out Christmas cookies to Divinity to Fudge to Gingerbread around the holidays. We always had at least 5 home baked goods readily available for our gluttonous pleasure.  While I have not mastered baking in multiples, I have been able to pull together some  pretty cute Christmas foods for various purposes, such as the Santa bread that I found on TasteOfHome and these adorable Santa Hat Brownies I made from the inspiration of 

The challenge with the bread was finding someone to initially cut into it. We all felt bad taking a knife to his beard. Sorry, Santa.

I hope everyone enjoys their last 6 days before Christmas ....I'm anxiously awaiting Saint Nick's arrival with a spatula in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Show Me The Money

It's that time of the year.

The time when my bank puts a hold on my funds for "suspicious activity" because I purchase 4 different things from amazon in the same day, and the time when I somehow spend over $100 on decorations for the house, yet walk out of Michael's with only a couple small bags of stuff in my hand.

It's the time when I call the same client every hour to make sure they got that contract, "just in case" something was wrong with the email server or it ended up in junk mail.

At some point in my life, everything in the month of December began to center around money: saving it, spending it, collecting it. 

At work, there's anticipation of what the final numbers will be for the year - it's all about dollars, whether it be personal and team quotas or rates or revpar indexes.  I feel pretty confident that we'll make and exceed the anticipated production number and pull off an awesome year. Even if it means  camping out by the fax machine (which conveniently always decides to malfunction at the end of the month) or checking email every two minutes.

No! Not again! Why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam!

Personally, I've been getting by pretty well and saving myself some green so far thanks to free shipping and discount coupons. All gifts (with the exception for maybe 1 or 2) have been bought. I did all my shopping online and even splurged on Black Friday and bought myself a laptop of my very own! It even has Windows 7! (I know, I'm so two thousand and LATE). Prateek will be excited to not have to share his Mac Air anymore, and I'll finally be able to download ridiculous amounts of house music and maybe even some audio mixing software in my quest to become a world famous DJ. The possibilities are endless.  

Surrounding all of this holiday "cheer", I have also gotten extremely antsy. Mostly due to the fact that I've been in hibernation and haven't gone for a run in over a month. It was nice to take some time off, but I've had enough and am starting to feel a little squishy. 

So this week is the last straw....I am going for a test run to see how my knee feels. Barring any setbacks, I'm jumping back in the saddle with full force: long runs and workouts and yoga and gym time and spinning and resistance training and hill training and speedwork and....

 There are so many good half marathons coming up in the beginning of 2012 that I need to get it in gear. Plus, winters in Florida are FABULOUS to run in, so I refuse to miss out!

I know all my friends and family can't wait to deal with "Marathon Mary" again. Sorry in advance. But if you're lucky, you'll have the privelage of seeing this look of pure (frightening) joy once more:

Also since it's Thursday, I'll leave you with a thought: 

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Son's First Hero, A Daughter's First Love

5 years ago today, on December 5, 2006, I lost my hero, my first love, my Dad.

I posted about my Dad and his story back in June on Father's Day- you can read it here in full. 

I miss him every day, but this is one of those days where you wake up and look at the date and it hits you out of nowhere. 

PS - He was also a huge Bama fan, and I can't help but wonder if he had any say in the BCS rankings yesterday! Even as an Auburn fan it makes me smile to think about it :) 

My goal today is to celebrate his life, because oh, what a life he lived!

In memory of Roy H. Malone:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Empire State of Mind

In high school, Jackie and Kate were (and still are!) the jelly to my peanut butter. We did everything together. Even though now we're worlds apart with jobs and husbands/significants and everything else, we still somehow manage to keep up with one another and pick up right where we left off. 

We planned this New York trip almost 6 months in advance, which is probably the earliest I've ever personally planned a trip in my entire life. Little did I know at the time of planning it that I would A) get selected to run the Marathon the weekend before, and B) have a work trip the three days in between San Francisco and New York! It was a whirlwind week to say the least, so by the time we got to the airport I was more than ready to participate in mindless activities such as shopping, eating, and being tacky tourists.

Jackie was in town already so we flew up together, and she had scored some Sky Club passes. 
So we cocktailed. 

The plane got delayed, so we cocktailed more. 

Then we cocktailed on the plane. 

Then, since the Sky Club passes were only valid for one day, we cocktailed again at the lounge at La Guardia.

 The bartender poured us two each..... to go.

FYI, it's hard to double fist and carry luggage.

On the way to the hotel in the cab, Jackie makes it clear to the Pakistani driver that we are tourists and she then asked that he "tell us all about the city as we go along". She also looked up Empire State of Mind on her phone and played it on repeat about 4 times.

I immediately busted out my iPhone map and tracked where we were going to make sure we were going in the right direction and not down some back alley or taking a "shortcut" through Jersey to get to our hotel on Wall Street. 

 By the time we got to the hotel (safe and sound!), it was sleepy time for Mary. Kate met us at the hotel later that night, but I couldn't tell you when because I was passed out asleep.

 Our swanky digs

Since we stayed on Wall Street the first night, we got up the next morning and wandered around looking for the Bull.  

On our way, there was a guy selling hats for $2. It was chilly outside (perfect hat weather), and you can't beat that price with a stick.

We bought 5.

We eventually got to the bull, and even though it was surrounded by barricades due to protesting we still got close enough to take some pictures, don't you worry.

The best thing about us three is that while we have many common interests, we also have enough differentiating us to always keep it exciting. 

For example, Jackie and I approve of the Bull. Kate clearly does not.

Me, I'm the classy one.

Jackie enjoys self-portraits and has developed quite a remarkable talent in holding out her arm and making a picture look like someone else took it.

That's all her.

After our bull adventure and a little mosey around the 9/11 memorial we cabbed it up to Grand Central Station to check into the Grand Hyatt, where we'd call home the next few days. After a delicious hibiscus flower cocktail, we decided to walk the few blocks to Times Square and check out the TKTS line for discount show tickets. 
We were in a quandary deciding which one to see, and most were sold out by the time we got to the front of the line. We ended up scoring some to Avenue Q, which I had seen before but LOVED, and promised Jackie and Kate they'd love it too.

It was colder than any of us had anticipated, so shopping was in order before going out that night. $20 peacoats from a classy retailer called Strawberry (It's like a schlocky Forever21 with a twist of tween hipster) and $5 pashminas from the street vendor, and we were all set.

The plan was to take a cab from the hotel to the theater, but after some drama of getting cabs stolen from us from a nasty man with a horrible yankee accent, ended up walking halfway to the theater because we were running late.
Usually being a little behind schedule isn't a big deal, but for a show, they will close the doors and not let you in.

We made it by the skin of our teeth, and laughed till we cried at sure-to-be classic showtunes such as "If You Were Gay" and "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist". Seriously, go see this show.
Unless you get offended easily. Then maybe it's not for you.

Fabulous green couch at the show

The next day was the day we had all been waiting for - Chinatown.

We met up with our other high school BFF Jonathan, who now lives in Brooklyn, and he accompanied us through Canal Street.

Chinatown has changed a lot since I'd last been there. It used to be that you went into a back room for the good stuff. Modern day Chinatown, you wait for someone to whisper "Prada? Gucci?" and if you looked up and acknowledged it, you followed them down the block, around a corner, around another corner, and down another few blocks to a quiet street. 
From there, you get a plastic menu-type sheet to view images of the bags that are available.

I picked out a few off the "bag menu" and the little ladies dissipated around a corner. About 10 minutes later they were back with a solid black plastic bag, holding the goods. 

I bargained it down to a reasonable price, and bought two for almost the price of one.

After I bought those, I bargained some faux Tiffany rings. And a few bracelets. And earrings.

Apparently if you spend more than $100 in Chinatown, they congratulate the guy that initially brought you over because you're a high roller. I was certain that my mug shot would be posted for future reference so that I could be targeted.

Is it being a cheapskate to buy a knockoff? I prefer the term "frugal", but sure.I've also bought my fair share of the real deal, like my Prada bag that cost me more than I would ever admit to, which never sees the light of day because I'm afraid it's going to get dirty. 

We made our way out of Chinatown and started heading towards the East Village. We passed a darling store called C. Wonder that was having their grand opening. The lime green doors drew me in, I couldn't help myself! I was browsing the jewelry, looked up and Kelly Ripa was standing there.Yay for celebrity sightings!

We made our way to a sports bar, as Auburn was playing LSU (let's not talk about that game though) and Alabama was playing Tennessee. It was a good place to sit and catch up and take goofy photos.

Jackie wanted to go sing karaoke later on, so we walked down a few blocks to the nearest karaoke bar and warmed up our vocal chords. This little place was a ton of fun - everyone sang along with everyone else's songs. One of the regulars was Irish and sang "Molly Malone" but changed it to Mary. Very sweet of them. Little did I know that she died of a fever and no one could save her and that was the end of sweet Molly Mary Malone. Bummer.

Needless to say, the next morning came too quickly and it was time to hit the road for the airport back to our respective states.

These ladies know more about me than most anyone else. They understand where I've come from and what I've gone through and where I want to go. They're the people I count on to drive me home after too many margaritas, and my voice of reason for when things get a little out of hand.  They're my future bridesmaids. They're the aunties to my future children.
They're just ridiculously fabulous.

I love you both and can't wait for our next trip!