Thursday, December 31, 2015

We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne


I don't make new year's resolutions anymore and I don't give a shit about going out or even doing anything on New Year's Eve - my grand plans for tonight are pajamas, hot crab dip, Making a Murderer and hopefully asleep by 11 - but I do love the anticipation of the new year and saying goodbye to the old one.

Sometimes it's hard for me to look back on the year and reflect...sometimes that's because the year was full of shit, which has happened to me many times; and sometimes it's because the year was so life changing that I can't really comprehend it yet. The latter has been true for me the past two years. I'm trying to gulp it all down and get my balance and breathe before I turn my face towards the new year.
Whatever you do tonight, take a minute to recognize the goodness this year has left you with, and open the door to let any badness float out into the dark of night where it belongs so it can go lay down in the yard like the turd it is. If you drink, don't drive, and if you drive, don't drink.

Good luck to MFD marching in his 28th Mummers Parade tomorrow, as well as all of our friends and family in other bands.
from New Year's Day 2015
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 (it's rarely 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. Peters and I will be trolling around down there tomorrow, so when you see me post weird shit on Instagram, these links above will sort of explain it.

This year's Philly.com article on what's new in the 2016 Parade is here.

Here's to health, growth, and prosperity for all of us in 2016!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

As 2015 sails off into the sunset...


I know most of you don't give a shit about perusing a summary of my year, so I put some blog post highlights immediately below this paragraph so you can see if you missed anything you might like. You can click on anything that's a different color and it will take you to that post.

Blog Post Highlight Reel 
Good for you. I mean it. 
Islands in the stream of consciousness from the massage table
Time is Money - how I'm cutting down on running around
I know this much is true
Plum Paper packages tied up with strings
Road Trip tips & tales
The day the Comcast cable died
Where I'm from
The other side of fear
Types of Assholes at the Park + Ride
I'm the person who...
I'm going through a phase.
Self Esteem Boot Camp
These dreams go on when I close my eyes
I'm too old for this shit

Crowd favorite MFD posts ran monthly January through December.

Show Us Your Books celebrated its first anniversary in October. All Show Us Your Books posts can be found here, and my top 10 books I read in 2015 can be found here.

Cooking: recipes I laid on your table this year
Mimi's bacon breakfast muffins, Veggie Soup for the Soul, Egg in a Mug (from Nicole Marica), Breakfast burritos (freezable), krauty chicken, orange kielbasa in the crock, No bake energy bites, butternut squash mac & cheese-ish, oven baked ribs, holiday double cheese scalloped potatoes, cucumber salsa, iced coffee in bulk, easy breezy dinner, cold taco dip, veggie pizzas, reese's peanut butter s'mores in the oven, yo quiero taco cup, egg sandwiches (freezable), fire in the hole bites, once upon a turchicken burger, loaded cauliflower bowls, to brine or not to brine: let's talk turkey, it's all greek to me salad (from my mom), dog stew AKA poop soup (for dogs),

A huge benefit of this blog for me is having a place to store my memories and lists and life events, so I'm a fan of the yearly look back. Before I figure out where I'm going next year, I want to review where I'm coming from. It makes sense to me. I vary how I do these posts every year, and this year it's monthly. Sort of.

Life Highlight Reel
January: Mummer's Parade January - Cibo with Jill & Frank. February: friends dinner at our house. March: Dirty Dancing on stage with Carol and the ladies in Michelle's family - My birthday weekend in Niagara Falls March 14-16
April: Celebrating the Diva's first birthday  - March of Dimes Walk for Babies with Team Eva the Diva. May: Beverly Hills 90210 Gay Bingo - Memorial Day wknd at Melissa's - Memorial Day wknd part two at the lake
June: Jimmy & Jackie's annual Flag Day party, Annual Shook BBQ, live music at Crossing Vineyards, family day on the boards in OCNJ, dinner at Tallulah's, David Gray and Amos Lee (with Andy) in concert at the Mann Music Center
June into July: family vacation in Emerald Isle
July: Girls' Weekend at the Lake, Girls' weekend in Boston & Maine, impromptu weekend in Stone Harbor around a Ferko concert with a stop in Sea Isle to hang with the Sannellis. Also, hair chop.
October: Our 20th high school reunion on Spirit of Philadelphia, my fabulous niece Lola graced the world with her presence, we closed on our shore house, Philly Cheesesteak Festival with Marla, dogs as Star Wars crew for Halloween. 
December: A weekend alone at the shore, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Dad & Carol's Christmas Party, Christmas
Happy happy birthday to my fabulous friend Angie today!

I would be remiss if I left today without thanking you for joining me for another 365 days around the sun. If there's anything you'd like to see on this blog, I'm always open to suggestions - please leave a comment or email me (lifeaccordingtosteph@gmail.com). While I appreciate you reading this year, I'm even more grateful for the interactions via comments on here, email,  Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. The interactions are the threads that tie this hobby together for me and I appreciate them and you for reading.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Show Us Your Books: Best of 2015 Edition

I spend a lot of time reading, so I can't let the last week of the year go by without talking about what books pushed my buttons this year. Jana and I love discussing books with you all on the second Tuesday of each month for Show Us Your Books, and this best of 2015 extra seemed to make sense.

In 2015, I read 104 books. I'm reading my 105th now and this one sure as shit won't make the list. Out of the 104 I've finished, these are my top 10:

1. You by Caroline Kepnes (January) - If a book contains a psycho, chances are I'll like it. If it contains a psycho that the author manages to make likable, I will love it. That is this book, and its follow up that I read in December.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir (March) - If you would have told me that a book that has a lot of science and math in it would be in my top 10, I would've told you to GFY. But it's here and it's true - the techy stuff did not prohibit me from enjoying this book. Mark Watney is one of the most likable narrators I've come across. Impossible to root against him.

3. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs (March) - Sometimes a book resides in my top 10 not because it was well written or because it was a feel good story, but because it made me think or because it upset my balance in a way I needed it upset.

4. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (April) - I love books about reading, and while this is about other things, it's largely about the powerful impact reading can have on our lives.

5. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (May) - Beautiful writing, well shaped characters, and the intensity of the emotions of youth combine for a riveting read. I stayed up late to finish this one, crying a lot at the end.

6. Arcadia by Lauren Groff (May) - I do love me a cult book. Combine that with good writing and well developed characters and you've got me.

7. The Wayward Pines Trilogy (June) - Sometimes a book makes my top 10 because I absolutely devoured it - that was true of all three books in the Pines trilogy. I wish I had more to read from Blake Crouch.

8. Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde (June) - This book pinged a lot of my points - a road trip to Yellowstone, sobriety, dog love, choosing your family. Sometimes it feels like you come across a book at a perfect time, and this was one of those books for me.

9. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer (September) - Good old fashioned mass market paperback writing on scheming and dynasties.

10. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (October) - A punch in the gut, it should be required reading for all parents and kids.
Life According to Steph

I cannot wait to see what you chose as your favorite reads of 2015. Non-bloggers, please comment with yours!


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Monday, December 28, 2015

TWTW - the one with the Christmas

I've just awoken from my last season of CSI Sunday night coma. I'm like a fat tick about to pop. I'll have you all know I'm 1993 pounds heavier than I was when I left work on Wednesday. Anyway, let's see..so Christmas happened, huh?

Wednesday it poured like an asshole. I made the pilgrimage to DiBruno's for Prima Donna gouda cheese because I can't make it through the Christmas weekend without it. Wednesday night I got my hair done with the fabulous Kristi at Sensational Scissors, and when I came home my living room looked totally different. MFD put my favorite flowered rug in the basement, cleaned all the floors, put down a new rug, and changed the couch cushion covers. I walked in going WTF? What is this place? But it looks nice.
Lori spent the night and some time on Christmas Eve morning before heading back up north. I made some spinach mac and cheese muffins, ranch dip, and roasted red pepper dip.
Traditional Christmas Eve afternoon at Sandy's with framily:
Followed by Christmas Eve at my uncle Billy's and aunt Sue's and a stop in at MFD's cousin's. All Christmas Eve stops in a dress with bare legs and flip flops.
Guess what Santa brought me? A freaking beach cruiser. This is what it looks like because it's not put together yet. See that feminist rants shirt? Does Santa know me or what? MFD's fishing rod rack and other outdoorsy items were well loved, but his man bun did not work out as I had hoped. We were spoiled by our loved ones too. Materially, it was a nice Christmas.
But it's not really about the material stuff, is it? We are lucky to be surrounded by so many awesome people...some related to us and some not. Christmas day we made stops at my Mom & Rich's, my Dad & Carol's, the hospital to see my father-in-law (he was sprung the next day), and rounded it out with dinner at Frank & Amanda's.
Saturday I took stock of life under MFD's tent city out back, sorted and put grifts away, and caught Mae eating MFD's wireless headphones before heading to Sam's and Giant.
I did some food prep in the afternoon, and we had friends over Saturday night. Activities included pie in the face, laughing, bullshitting, Cards Against Humanity, and TV outside (hence the aforementioned tent city). It was fun but we didn't go to sleep until 3 a.m...you know that's late for this old lady.
By the time Sunday rolled around, I was straight up out of gas. I got an 80 minute massage at 11, ate a shit load of cookies, stopped by Pier 1 to pick up the papasan chair that came in for the shore, and popped into TJ Maxx. I was going to get that canvas for the third floor at the shore many moons ago and didn't, so when I saw it there again, I figured it was kismet. I got a coffee mug too - Call me Boss Lady? Come on, I couldn't resist. After that I had dinner at my Dad & Carol's with the family. How cute are my little niece's plaid tights? To quote white girls everywhere, I literally can't even. I made my way home and died on the couch for a few hours. The End.
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Don't forget! Tomorrow is a special Show Us Your Books: Best of 2015.

I want to hear about your Christmas - how was it? Last week of 2015...let's make it a great one, shall we?
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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday Thoughts: Merry Christmas!

Sending wishes of merry and bright days from our house to yours. I will refrain from saying and may all your Christmases be white because it's going to be over 70 degrees in Philadelphia today on Christmas Eve and I'm wearing flip flops. There's a snowball's chance in hell of a white Christmas around these parts but we're rolling with it.
Don't forget to join Jana and I for Show Us Your Books: Best of edition on Tuesday!

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Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things

Stuff, Things, etc.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Shit MFD Said Vol. 25: Christmas Eve Eve Special

As he goes to turn the bluetooth speaker on before heading out to decorate
Me: Mike! You're going to be outside. Your part of the decorating is outside.
MFD: I need to get prepared.
Me: For what?
MFD: Well Steph, for you Christmas is visual. For me it's auditory. I need to get in the mood with my music.

MFD: I wonder if I'll ever find my wedding ring. 
Me: Do you know how many times I've heard that?
MFD: Well sometimes it's gone a long time.
Me: And?
MFD: Well. I'm just saying. It's been a long time this time.

Holding up a bowl next to the sink with sugar in the bottom
Me: What is this? 
MFD: My Christmas sugar gum drops bowl.
Me: Why isn't the container it came in your Christmas sugar gum drops bowl?
MFD: Why do you care?
Me: If you would've put this bowl in the dishwasher, we would not be having this conversation.
MFD: Regrets. I've had a few. 

Watching Mum TV (it's a Philly Thing) every day
MFD: Steph, don't you wish you were in this band? Dancing?
Me: No. 
MFD: Why not? 
Repeat 

While reading this 
MFD: We don't watch Mum TV every day.
Me: A lot of days, okay? 

When I realize Dune is on
Me: You know, Mike, we went to see Star Wars tonight which is fine. I like Star Wars. But this is like The Dork Awakens.
MFD: You don't have to watch this. You can go upstairs.

MFD: Dolly, do you want to go to the Mummer's Parade?
Me: No.
MFD: It would be awesome if we lived downtown and they could go.
Me: No. I would never take them no matter where we lived.
MFD: They would love it. They tell me they want to go every year.
Me: They would hate it. The music, the loud noises, all the people.
MFD: Gus wouldn't mind the noise.
Me: Gus is deaf.

Sunday night just before six
Me: Are you getting a shower?
MFD: Of course.
Me: Can you give Mae a bath?
MFD: I have to be in and out in like five seconds.
Me: Oh. Where are you going?
MFD: I have to marry someone.
Me: Of course. 

Happy Festivus! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas in Philly: Wanamaker Light Show



The Wanamaker Light Show in Macy's is my favorite thing about Christmas in Philly and has been a tradition in this city since 1956. The grand old Wanamaker Organ, a sight in its own right, is covered up with a huge tree and light display during the holidays. It runs from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve with shows at 10, noon, 2, 4, 6, and 8 (no shows on Christmas Day).

I remember taking the train down as a child with Gamma, claiming our spots on the ground floor, and waiting for the magic. The excitement is still there today and since I work a few blocks away, I make it a point to catch a show every year.

Everyone comes in and crowds the floors and balconies to get their spot. Arrive early to get a good one, and don't try to shop during it because it's a cluster.
Since you're already there, you might as well check out the Dickens Village that's been happening in Macy's for the past 20 years. The third floor of Macy’s is transformed into a 6,000 s.f. Dickens Village for the holiday season to bring A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to life with more than 100 fully animated figures reenacting 26 of the story’s most memorable moments.

Then maybe walk through City Hall to see the Christmas tree and out to Dilworth Park to check out the Rothman Ice Rink and the little shops on the side.
What's your favorite local holiday excitement?

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Joining SaraPinky, and Katie for Countdown to Christmas

Monday, December 21, 2015

TWTW - the one before Christmas

Dorks unite! Friday night we saw The Force Awakens with Mark and Sarah and we loved it. Just enough cheese, humor, and drama to make it really line up with the original three movies. I have zero cares for the second trilogy released. MFD saw it again on Saturday night. It was the first time I went to the movies where there were recliners and I have to say it was awesome. I don't think I've been to the movies since we saw Gatsby. Is that possible?
We stopped off at Target after, because the only time I will go to the store right now is in the dead of night. Star Wars shit was everywhere. The marketing on this re-emergence is phenomenal. And yes, of course we got that cereal. Since I told you last week what a crime scene wrapper I was, I thought I'd show you...wrapped for me by me. ho ho no, mofos. I am the worst wrapper in all the land.
I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen. Doesn't the freaking refrigerator always appear at its most grody when you don't have the time or inclination to clean it out? I had to pause and do that in the midst of food making.
Lola Jean was the most popular person at Cici & Pop's Christmas party, of course. I ate so much there I nearly popped, all the food was delicious and I wish I took a pic of the dessert spread because it was fabulous. We drove around our neighborhood looking at Christmas lights on the way home.
Saturday night I slept for over 10 hours and it was fucking amazing. Sunday morning started off slow, and I had to do some work work throughout the day, but I got on to house pickup/sheets changing/towel washing/box breaking down stuff soon enough. I also lolled around on the couch and read. It was worth it, I woke up feeling refreshed today. 

Weekly food prep: egg muffins with sausage, cheese, and red peppers for breakfasts; jalapeno popper quinoa bites and cucumbers for lunch; 408 holiday sweets at work for snacks; poop soup and scrambled eggs for the dogs; spaghetti squash with red sauce (sausage in there) for dinner along with some veggie rice from the freezer. I also made a pear and cranberry gingersnap crumble from Smitten Kitchen for the party Saturday. It was good! And peanut butter blossom cookies Sunday. I don't think I baked cookies at Christmas last year which makes sense because I don't enjoy baking.
This weekend at the shore, new counters/sink/faucet went in on Friday, thanks to MFD being able to be down there. Top two left photos are the original kitchen, bottom left is after we painted the cabinets and put new hardware on, all the right photos are with new appliances/painted cabinets/new counters. 
I have to say, I do love it. MFD was right about switching out the appliances. And getting rid of that one piece of brown trim is already on the spring to do list. Don't worry.

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And today...well, despite the unseasonably warm temps we've been having on the east coast, it's the first day of winter. I'm hoping for minimal snow and ice like most other people who have to leave the house for work I'm sure. 

How did you fare this weekend?
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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

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