Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Happy

Merry Christmas!

via Pinterest @AmyDame

I hope you all get lots of reading done over the holidays. I am looking forward to my plane ride to finish a few I've been working on myself for awhile now. Cookie making, present wrapping, shopping, and decorating have been encroaching on my reading time as of late so I haven't added to the book list in awhile, but I'm hoping to pack my suitcase with five or six good books for my upcoming Christmas trip to Savannah. Knowing my husband, however, I will not have even one second to sit and read!

Stay tuned because I'll be posting again soon with a collection of top ten lists from 2011, including my top ten best books of 2011.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You'll Be Hooked

Have you seen Instagram yet? It's a (free!) photo app where you can share your iPhone photos, or really any photos you want to upload, in a series that your friends can follow. Get it here.

I love it so much! It really makes me notice all the photographic moments I have the opportunity to experience in everyday life. It also adds another fun dimension to what I know about my friends' and family members' lives.

Here are a few of my favorite photos that I've taken in the last few weeks. To see more, follow me @hbmcardle.
And, if you don't have an iPhone, it looks like you can still follow friends' Instagram feeds online via Webstagram.

Conversation #10

Me: I think I know why I had such a bad headache. Actually, never mind, too much information.
Him: (Nodding vigorously.)
Me: What in the world are you thinking I was going to say?
Him: I don't know, but if you are saying it is too much information...
Me: I think I am really offended right now.
Him: (Eyebrow cocked, side look.)
Me: (Muttering.) Fine. It's true.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Random Acts of Cookies

I love the idea of practicing Random Acts of Cookies.

This was my inspiration to tackle one of my goals on My Life List, to Take Baked Goods to a Nursing Home. There's a nursing home down the block from my house which always makes me a little sad because so many people there spend time sitting outside watching the traffic on Ridge. It's a pretty busy thoroughfare for cars in our neighborhood, but it always strikes me as a bit of a depressing view. It's certainly not a nursing home with a lovely view of the lake, though it does have a modest view of a park across the four lanes of traffic. I guess it's not as bad as it could be. 

Turns out the biggest hurdle is finding a place where it's actually possible to donate homemade food. Apparently if it's any place that is state regulated (which is probably all nursing homes), then you can't. It's a reasonable restriction of course. It means I'm going to have to get creative in order to achieve my life list goal. Going to have to think about this goal some more.

In the meantime, our block club (for which Nathan and I are officers) decided to volunteer at the local food pantry. It was a really great date night actually, and we're planning to head back again to bring by some things for the organization's clothes closet sometime in the next week or two. If you have one near you, I certainly recommend your trying it out.

I'll just have to practice my Random Acts of Cookies on other people who are unprotected by government health codes. Maybe I'll save that for the neighbors in those dull winter months that seem to be right around the corner after the holidays. I'll give people time to set their goals of losing weight and getting healthy in the new year and then, Bam! They'll find a plate of salted caramel brownies waiting eagerly at their front door. Hmm, that seems a bit un-neighborly, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Here!

My sister, Jessica, and me visiting Santa, probably 1984

I love this time of year not only for the days off from work, the Christmas cookies, and the smells of evergreen, but also because it's the time of year that everyone starts to share their best music of the year lists. This is one of the easiest ways to expose yourself to great new and/or obscure music.

A few of my favorite lists that are free...
 The All Songs Considered, The Year in Music, 2011, List on NPR.

 Mighty Girl's 2012 Victory Mix  (Ok, this isn't really a best of 2011 list, but it's a great list anyway.)

 My friend Ben's the 2011 cuts list on Spotify.

And one that is completely worth the $0.99 it costs to buy the issue...(Which also gives you the right to download 31 songs, half of which are on my favorites-of-the-year list.)
 Paste's Best of 2011 Issue

I highly recommend that if you only have time to listen to one, you spring for that $.99 issue of Paste. The songs you can download make it more than worth it, I promise.

UPDATE: Also, this time of year is one that seems to encourage people to give a lot of good Christmas mp3s away for free. Check out the 25 Days of Free on Amazon and the weekly free songs on iTunes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Believe in Settling

Barricade by James Goodman via Flickr
 A few years ago I heard a This I Believe segment on NPR called, I think, A Marriage That's Good Enough. I remember being somewhat horrified at the time that the author of the essay so freely admitted that she had settled for her husband.

And yet. And yet.

Now I fully embrace that sentiment. Of course we settle. It's nothing so dramatic as settling for someone you don't love just because you don't want to be single anymore (which I certainly don't recommend because any "joy" in being paired up lessens dramatically when you're picking that partner's horrifyingly smelly sweaty clothes off of the floor or watching him clip his toenails near your pillow*).

Settling happens when you love a person who can't sit through a movie in the theater though you love going to movies. When you fully realize that there are quite a few guys out there who like hugging for more than 2 minutes before they go limp waiting for you to set them free from your embrace. Settling happens when he would like you run a marathon with him one day, and you guffaw in his face and say, "Not a chance in this lifetime, sucker!"

Sure, you could throw in the towel on your relationship and possibly find that guy or girl out there who matches your interests, personality, and all the rest so completely that he or she is your soulmate, but there's nothing to ensure that that person even exists. To be unwilling to settle for less than a perfect match means that you are also expecting that other person to be equally unwilling to settle, and, heads up, that may result in their being unwilling to settle for you.

So settling actually translates to being gentle to yourself. Realizing that you'll probably never again look like you did just out of college, figure out what career fulfills you, or run that marathon that you feel just a little guilty about not wanting anything to do with is okay when you embrace settling. You can settle for the imperfect and still be very very happy. And then you can grow to see those imperfections as reasons to love that person even more.

But not the toenail clippings. The toenail clippings will never ever ever ever be lovable. Ever.

*My own husband has not done this. To my knowledge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Diary of a Visit from My Sister

Clockwise from top left: The festive lions at the Art Institute.
Chimney Cake photo from Chimney Cake Island;
Set of Pirates of Penzance;
Homemade pizza,
Emily nearly skating backward-this time on purpose!
Renegade Craft Fair poster from their website.
All other photos by me.
Wednesday afternoon arrival. Homemade dinner of Shrimp Fra Diavolo.

Thursday. Breakfast of crepes with spiced oranges. Lunch of el Cubana sandwiches at La Unica and dessert of a Chimney Cake at Chimney Cake Island. Emily heads downtown to shop, while I work from home all day. Post work/shopping WERQ class at the gym. Dinner at Nookies.

Friday. Crepes with spiced oranges again. Shopping at North Avenue. Meet Nathan for lunch at Heaven on Seventh. Shopping downtown. Dinner of grilled Mexican Skirt Steak. Dessert of homemade Peanut Buster Parfaits. 

Saturday. Cereal. Art Institute. Lunch at the Institute's cafe, discovery of goat cheese and pears as pizza topping. Yum! Train to Wicker Park to see Pirates of Penzance at the Chopin Theater. Shoe shopping. Buses home. Hang out with upstairs neighbor for dinner. Second dinner at friends' house in Andersonville.

Sunday. Cereal. Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale in Wicker Park. Return home to recreate the Art Institute pizza with goat cheese, red onion, and pears. Ice skating at Warren Park. Home to hot tea, biscotti, and Bananagrams.

Monday departure.