Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Turning the page


In reality, December 31 to January 1 is simply a flip of the calendar page. Symbolically, it's a lot more to me. It's a blank slate I fill how I choose.

It's a new beginning, a chance to discard that which no longer serves me, grows me, or makes me happy so that I may make room for that which will.

It's another year for me to continue to capitalize on my strengths and work on my weaknesses. It's a new planner to fill with goals and ideas. It's a new chance to understand and to be understood. It's a fresh opportunity to be kind every day to myself and to others.

These prospects excite me. I'm ready to turn the page. 

Good luck to MFD marching in his 27th (edited...I thought it was the 26th) Mummers Parade tomorrow, as well as all of our friends and family in other bands.
from a previous year
Not sure what a Mummer is? Click here or read my blog about Mummers Day 2014. If you're out of the area and would like to watch, click here for the live stream of the parade. MFD is in a string band, and that division is last. Bands should hit the judging/TV area around 1 if the parade is running on time. His band - The Joseph A. Ferko String Band - is last in the lineup. If you're in the area, head down to the parade! It's a Philly must.

NYE Trivia: this is my 293rd blog post of the year.

I wish you health, growth, and prosperity in 2015.

Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 - it's a wrap


I love looking ahead to the possibilities of a new year, but not before I look back and think on the moments that made this year good, and the ones that made it bad too. The ying and the yang, so to speak.

Time goes faster and faster every year, doesn't it? I remember being a kid and thinking the summer lasted for an eternity. As an adult I know it's two shakes of a lamb's tail. The same can be said for a year.
I like to do yearly wrap up posts so I can look back and see my year at a glance. For you, dear readers, maybe there's something you missed along the way. You can click on anything underlined and it will take you to that post.
Some favorite posts - mine and yours
Reflections from 37
bitches eating crackers
why I don't want to hear anyone bitching about how other people act like their lives are perfect,
Romance is dead because that's how I like it
Do what you can
In our house, Buddha wears rosary beads
 the ways I love Dirty Dancing
when I was in high school
Mae's blog post was the most popular and loved. Sorry boys.

MFD said a lot of shit and you guys loved it all. The latest Shit MFD Said is Vol 13 and the links for 1-12 can be found on the bottom of that post.

Cooking: recipes I laid on your table this year
Mac & cheese please - regular & brie with baconBerry CobblerTurkey Rice SoupSnow Day StromboliGa-gung Ga-gung ChiliDamn Good Crescent Roll Jalapeno Popper BitesHeyohhh QuesoPancake BitesShe-Ra Power Breakfast MuffinsZucchini Pie, Greek orzo cold salad, asparagus corn salad, macaroni salad, Baker's one bowl brownies from scratch, unconventional barbecue chicken, lightened up shrimp & corn chowder, avgo-lenono soup, spinach muffins, spinach & artichoke dip, spinach casserole,
Hausfrauing/Organization
10 things I do to make life easier in the kitchen10 tips on decluttering10 Things I do to make daily life easierspring hausfrauing tipsOrganizers I loveLet's talk about vacuumsHow I use essential oils, Five best organizing resources, My top five organizing tips

I also let myself off the hook and got an awesome cleaning lady to come in once a month.

Recommended products: Mr. Clean with Gain and OdoBan (especially if you have a dog that marks)

Goal Check
winterspringsummerfall

Reading
This year, I read 64 books. My top books seven of this year, in no order...except that #1 was definitely my favorite book I read all year.
1. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
2. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
3. The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley
4. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
5. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
6. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
7. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler

I also wrote these book related posts: some of the best friends I've never met and started a monthly Show Us Your Books link up with Jana of Jana Says. You can always find those posts in my Reading tab at the top.

Travel
MexicoChicagoDisney CruiseDisney at Christmas

MFD and I also had a lovely long weekend in Salem, MA for Kim & Steve's wedding; an April weekend in Cape May; a few trips to Lori & Jack's, and a weekend in Ocean City with Laura, Chris & the boys. Solo I enjoyed a weekend in Boston for Kim's shower and girls weekend in OCNJ in June.

I also gave you the lowdown on my cruise essentialswhy you should put your toiletries in test tubes, and my Philly Favorites.

Music
Not typically a concert-goer, MFD and I saw Bruno Mars in Hershey, PA, in July and Fleetwood Mac in Philly in October. Both were excellent. Stevie Nicks and I are now best friends. Just thought you should know.

Big Life Things
Both of my Kims and my brother and Aubrey got married this year. We had a blast at all of their wedding events.
Miss Eva the Diva came roaring into the world in April.

Firsts for me
This year, for the first time I...
-Saw a concert in a club box
-Flew first class
-Saw a game at Wrigley Field
-Went to a horse race
-Saw a shore sunrise in the fall
-Took a vacation in December
-Finished Christmas shopping in October
2014 was full and good. I always like the Zora Neale Hurston quote, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." This year was a year that answered after a few that questioned.

Before we close out 2014, I need to wish my good friend Angie a happy birthday today.
I'm pumped for 2015 because like a true psycho I already have our big vacations booked for the year, and both include places we've never been and things that have long been on my life to do list.

If there's anything you'd like to see on this blog, I'm always open to suggestions. Likewise, if there are any questions you have, you can always email me (lifeaccordingtosteph@gmail.com). Thank you so much for reading this year, but even more for interacting with me, be it by commenting on posts here, via email, on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

TWTW - the one after Christmas

If you're looking for a Christmas recap, click here.

This weekend was one of general sloth. I didn't wear real clothes or makeup. I didn't leave the house on Friday or Sunday and was only out from 9 - 11:30 on Saturday morning. It was truly glorious. I did things I don't usually do - fell asleep on the couch and didn't get up to get into bed, slept late, gave the dogs lots of lounging with me time, and watched a lot of movies. MFD and I both found this weekend really relaxing and much needed.

What we watched: The last half of the third season of The Wire and the beginning of the fourth. Re-watched Cruel Intentions, Throw Momma From the Train, and Full Metal Jacket. New watches: Divergent - I liked it more than I thought I would and definitely liked Tris more than I liked her in the book, Her - Very weird, and The To-Do List - not too good.
Saturday morning I hit HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, DSW, AC Moore, Michael's, and Marshalls. I strolled leisurely with my iced coffee and picked up new wall stuff to change out kitchen decor, a new fish eye type mirror, two new scarves (the purple and paisley were Christmas gifts, the other two were purchased Saturday), and a new mirrored tray I'm obsessed with.
I removed all Christmas except for the tree, front window display, and exterior. MFD would prefer it all be out forever and I want it all down immediately so we compromised like adults. He's happy because stuff is still out and I'm happy because the surfaces are no longer cluttered with a lot more stuff than is typically out.

I never get why people consider those who remove Christmas decor the day after to be less full of the holiday spirit. It's interesting. Is the spirit of the season in our hearts or is it in the decor we clothe our homes in? I care if someone is kind all year, not how, when, and for how long they decorate their home. If you want it out, keep it up. If you don't, don't. I'm a Sunday after Thanksgiving to day after Christmas person myself.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing glamorous hausfrauing like washing couches/sheets/towels, doing four other loads of laundry, picking up, food prep, minor purging, and being covered with dog hair.

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I enjoy Christmas, but I'm always really jazzed as the new year approaches like a big fat unwritten 365 page book I can write as I wish.

I'm back at work today. If you're off this week, I wish you rejuvenation. Of course our holiday season doesn't truly end until after New Year's Day - I mean Mummer's Day. Tomorrow, my look back on 2014.

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending
















Friday, December 26, 2014

The Christmas that was

And it's done. Christmas has come and gone. We got to see a lot of our people and that's what it's about, right?

Wednesday night I met Kimmy Foo Foo in from NYC and her parents along with Christy and Al in from Truckee and Christy's mom for dinner. Mike and Jared joined us for drinks. I have no photos but it was a nice night until I went grocery shopping at 11 p.m. and stood in a 20 minute line. Crazy.

Christmas Eve we  met up with framily at Sandy's as is tradition. My Dad was sick this year so him and Carol weren't there. This is the first Christmas Eve in I don't know how long that I didn't spend the day with my dad. I did take him some veggie soup I made in the morning though so I saw him briefly.
After that it was off to my uncle's where I did not take enough photos probably because I was deep in my cups at this point. HO HO HOOOOOOOOOO mofos. We also stopped to see MFD's cousins on the way home.
Christmas day was more relaxed for us than it's been in years. My parents and Stephen & Aubrey came over for breakfast and MFD's family came over for lunch. We got to sit and relax and it was really wonderful especially since MFD was volunteering with the homeless from 10:30-2:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve.
I whipped up some jalapeno popper dip and headed over to Mom & Rich's to round out the day.
Our families were very generous with us as always. Just a few lovelies...
Santa brought us the Ninja, a personalized ornament from Carol & my Dad, a shirt bought at Muscle Shoals and shipped from our good friend Gena Ho, homemade lotion that smells and feels amazing from Sarah, and two new Alex & Anis for me from Santa. We're blessed with awesome people in our lives who are very generous as well.

Christmas is the only day of the year when I don't care what my house looks like. Today, it still looks like this, and something must be done about it. I'm super pleased that my office is closed today, but if it wasn't I'd be off anyway. I never work on my birthday, Christmas Eve, or the day after Christmas.

I'll be setting it to rights since Clark Griswold will not allow the Christmas decor to be put away today. If I had my way, It would all be gone already. I'm going to work on him a little and see if I can make some of it disappear. Edited to add: compromise - we're now in Christmas Light mode - tree, front window and exterior stuff is still up, the rest of the house is back to normal.

I hope you had a truly wonderful Christmas. Tell me all about it!

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Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things











Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Everything!

Can I just say I love being married to someone who likes to do shit like this for a laugh?
Because I do. I love it.

Today and every day I'm counting my blessings...
for the framily in my circle,
for my job, my health, and my home,
and for all the other big and small things that make this life a wonderful life.

I'm especially thankful that I know - regardless of the petty bullshit and annoyances, the assholes I encounter, the periods of dissatisfaction, the times things don't go my way, or the stumbling blocks I hit  - that I do indeed have a wonderful life. I roll with the bad days because they allow me to truly appreciate how good the good days are. 

I am rich in ways a lot of people in this world will never know, and that humbles me. My parents and family laid a great foundation of love and encouragement for me and you cannot put a price tag on that. So regardless of what else you gift others with this year, please make the first gift love and encouragement for the people around you. Lifting each other up is a vital part of the human condition. Shine your light on others. Participate. Receive. 

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas Eve & Day.
Your time together is the true present and better than anything you can buy at a store. 
Enjoy and HAVE FUN!


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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All We Want For Christmas: From the Pugs

Everyone gets their shot at a Christmas Wish List...
I require the following. I'd prefer my desires to be granted today but if I must wait for Christmas, I will. I may pee on the curtains to show my displeasure, however. Fair warning. My wish list:

1. Total world domination.
2. Twenty-four hour a day access to the same food my humans are eating.
3. A weekend or 15 without my sister. And for her to have to wear silly costumes every day for my amusement.
4. For my parents to never go away on a trip. Ever. Then I won't have to pretend to be deaf for 3-10 days after they return home to make them feel guilty and terrible for not taking me with them. It's hard for me to remember I'm supposed to be deaf so they're doubly putting me out.
5. A world where no one tries to clean my ears.

1. Daily romps in our fields, Treat Lady's woods, or on the beach with tons of time to mark everything in my path. Geege was here! I say it with pee.
2. The freedom to hump the air or lick Gus's ears without getting scolded by my mother.
3. For my mother to stay home 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so I can guard her and our home, following her everywhere and barking like a good guard does every time a person, dog, or car passes by. I am the Royal Guard and you shall not enter!
4. Fresh fruit at every meal.
5. A world where no one tries to take me to the vet.
1. A blinged out grill and some sweet hoodies.
2. A recording contract with Jay-Z. My Gremlin noises will be the next big hit in the music industry.
3. Endless scratches from my adoring fans.
4. For bullying my brothers and sitting staring in Gus's face waiting until he's done with his bone so I can steal it to be cool with everyone involved.
5. A world where no one tries to tell me where I can and can't sit. Yes, I can sit there and I WILL.

Peace out and happy Christmas Eve Eve on behalf of the dogs.

You might also enjoy this blog post by Geege, this blog post by Gus, and the most popular - Mae's blog post.

*************************
Haikuesday
Dog blogs: I like them.
Dogs want stuff for Christmas too.
For real. I asked them.
*************************
I would be remiss if I didn't wish you all a Happy Festivus today.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

TWTW - short scenes from the weekend before Christmas


Sorry for any doubles from Instagram, Sunday night was lazy town.
1 - Greenery to fill the wall vases.
2 through 5 - Dad & Carol's annual Christmas party. The majority of the food I ate this week was cookie-ish in nature. Hashtag holidays.
6 - Friday night was grocery shopping and macaroni salad making. Then I got a massage and rolled into HomeGoods while I was feeling loose and spendy. I picked up this rack then proceeded to purge and reorganize all of my health and beauty products.
7 through 9 - Sunday with Lori. We hit Target and PetSmart. Mae got some new gear. Then we had linner with my brothers and their ladies at Georgine's. We were in pajamas by 5:30 p.m.
10 - This weekend you may have missed my fall goal report and my winter goals.

Other than that, a lot of purging and reorganizing around the house in anticipation of Christmas and a lot of time with the dogs who are clinging to me like glue since we returned from vacation.
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Congratulations to the winner of my Ho Ho Ho Mofos giveaway, Erika. She won $50 and chose to have $25 donated to The Kelsey Smith Foundation as the charity of her choice.

Christmas week - are you ready?

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending
















Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Goals

Tis the season to get some winter goals up here. 

1. Finally make a pie crust/pie from scratch. I failed to do this in my October Choose Your Own Adventure Food Theme Challenge and in my fall goals. Time to get this shit done.

2. Host dinner party so people help us eat the turkey I have in the freezer.

3. Make a 40 by 40 list of uh, 40 things I want to do before I'm 40. I turn 38 in March. I need time for some of them.

4. Book Airfare for wild west trip.

5. Organize and catalog loose photos, including possibly using a pay to scan service.

6. Stick to my exercise schedule.

7. Creative writing off the blog once a week.

8. Try three new to me restaurants.

9. Get the Be Nice Box project going.

10. Go through beauty products - keep, toss, reorganize, share.

Have you made any winter goals?

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fall goals - how did I do?

Well here we are, the final day of fall. Winter is upon us in name as well as feeling. Here's how I did on my fall goals. 

1. Major wardrobe overhaul - both summer and winter - all clothes and shoes, special occasion clothes, everything down to socks. Purge, update, and upgrade. And dry clean the winter coats while I'm at it. Dunzo. I got rid of a lot of clothes and consolidated. I actually have extra room in my drawers. And the winter coats were dry cleaned. 

2. Get up 15 minutes earlier three days a week. This happened once a week for a while, then it didn't happen any more. Bomb.

3. Stretch every night before bed. This didn't happen every night, but it happened at least four nights a week, which is four more nights than it ever did. 

4. Daily dog walk unless it's raining. I should've added or unless it's frigid - they don't like that. I mean, I don't either, but they really don't.

5. Try new recipes: one new app, main dish, veggie side, Sunday soup, dessert, and pie crust/pie from scratch. All links go to pins on pinterest.
      App - pepperjack cheese dip
      Main dish - lazy Sunday casserole, Minnesota hot dish, easy italian chicken bake
      Veggie side - Cauliflower tater tots
      Sunday soup - Shrimp & Corn Chowder
      Dessert - pumpkin pie cupcakes
      Breakfast - spinach muffins
      Pie crust/pie from scratch - I made mini apple hand pies, but the crust was not from scratch. Halvesies?

6. Outdoors:
       a) Clear out both sheds and find new storage for cushions Dunzo
       b) Winterize flower beds Dunzo
       c) Major cleanup of side yard Dunzo
       d) Pray for Yard Crashers to materialize as I'm working my ass off and fending off spiders.                       Done, but the bastards didn't show.

7. Go see a beach sunrise at the shore. Dunzo - November 8. 

8. October wallet watch. Results are here.

9. Vacuum/wash window treatments and clean baseboards. Done, hatefully. 

10. Take my car in for a tune up. Newp. I took it to get inspected, but that's it. Bomb.

Did you make fall goals? How did you do?

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Pipe Dream Wish List

I've seen a lot of wish lists on blogs over the past month. Tis the season to put all your wishes out there, right? My list is not as simple as an awesome mug or sparkly flip flops. These are things I really want but things I know I'm not going to get.

Things like...

*Four day work weeks and three day weekends or European company vacation time at American companies

*A lifetime supply of Sanuks

*Canada's maternity policy for American families

*Equal pay for equal work across the board

*For no one to stop dead in the middle of a walkway or doorway like they own it

*For a consenting adult of sound mind to be able to marry whoever they want

*For no one to be hungry or without clean water or shelter

*An overhaul of the welfare, justice, and education systems in America

*A cure for childhood cancer. Cancer is a douche warlord in general, but childhood cancer destroys me.

*Term limits for all politicians - 5 years of service and you're out. Politics should not be a career.

*A good, safe, loving home for all children

*A huge fenced in farm and the funds to operate it so I can house all the unwanted and mistreated dogs out there.

*An end to multi-media and people playing MFing videos when TV or radio is on or having radio and TV on simultaneously. It is annoying as fuck and it must stop.

*For vaginas not to be political agenda items

*Less need to be right and more of a need to understand and be understood worldwide

*Teleportation abilities

*Peace on earth, the biggest pipe dream of all. People have been fighting over power, greed, religion, control, land, money, and resources since the beginning of time and it will continue on until the end of time unless we start evolving a lot more quickly. Still, it's nice to dream.

I could go on forever but it's Friday and I have shit to do. Come sit on my lap and tell me what's on your far out wish list.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

1. Christmas Day, seven days from today. You heard it here first. Or probably last. Whatever. I love our new Advent Calendar. I wanted to buy all the available Disney Victorian Christmas stuff but the store was so crowded at 11 p.m. I almost started karate chopping pushy motherFers in the neck so I had to grab the countdown calendar and get the F out of there.
2. Philly Friends: Do you know about Rosa's Fresh Pizza? Located at 25 S. 11 Street, slices are always hot and fresh and just $1. Beyond affordable pizza, Rosa's believes in giving back to the community - when you buy your slice, you can pay another $1 to go towards feeding residents of Philadelphia in need. Can't get to Rosa's to donate? You can pre-purchase a hot slice of pizza online for one of the many homeless Rosa's serves by clicking here. I think this is pretty awesome. Even more awesome? Rosa's has paired up with Rush Order Tees to feed AND clothe the homeless this winter. If you buy a short sleeve t-shirt ($14), you contribute seven pizza slices for homeless visitors. If you buy a crew neck sweatshirt ($40), they donate a matching crewneck to homeless visitors. On the inside of every sweatshirt is a tag with schedules and locations of meals and classes for the homeless. I freaking love do-good companies. I spoke to them on the phone on Tuesday about my sweatshirt order and they were so nice. They're giving clothes out to homeless on 12/20. Stop around to see some good in the world if you're in the city. Check them out please!
3. Speaking of do gooders, my friend the lovely Kerry at Till Then, Smile Often sent me a holiday care package. The cookies were le bomb. MFD even got a mug! I absolutely love everything inside, it's perfection. Thank you Kerry!
4. Today is the last day to enter my Ho HO HO mofos holiday giveaway, where you can win $50 Amazon Giftcard OR Paypal cash for yourself PLUS a $25 donation to the charity of your choice. Click here to enter if you haven't already.

5. Do you guys read Emily at Martinis & Bikinis? When I post recipes on Tuesdays I link up with her. Is it wrong to like to read her more in the winter because it's usually shitty and gray here and she lives in sunny FL? Regardless, check her out by clicking on her blog name above. And check out her pepper jack cheese and corn dip recipe if you need something to bring to a party this weekend.

6. Bloggers or anyone looking for new blogs to follow, check out Blogger_Gram on Instagram run by that idea wunderkind Helene from Helene in Between.
Image via Helene in Between

7. Did I tell you Nordstrom Rack opened a block from my office? I heard a rumor that Santa has gone crazy for me this year. This may or may not be related to sentence #1.

8. Grinch alert: I loathe wrapping gifts. I miss the days when KVSR would come home from college or NYC after college and wrap all of my gifts for me. Speaking of people doing holiday things for me, shout out to my Mom for baking the cookies MFD needed for his office Christmas cookie swap. I was sick this week and unable to and her baking is far superior to mine anyway. HO HO HO mofos. Tis the season.

9. I wonder if I could hire George Michael to call me and sing Last Christmas every year?
I sincerely love it. It's the best Christmas song aside from The Fairytale of New York by the Pogues. Have a listen to both:
Last Christmas by Wham! on Grooveshark
Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues Feat. Kirsty MacColl on Grooveshark
10. E-card of the week.

Toodle-oo. 

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Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things











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