Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Year in Review

No paper towels except for the bathrooms, and no paper napkins.

I became obsessed with colored flats and also with It's a great source for shoes on the cheap, people.

Aldi became a weekly stop for a lot of dairy and produce staples, and I counted the money I saved.

Polar Bear Plunge in Sea Isle City on February 18 - CHECK. Cross that off the life list. And it wasn't even that cold. Thank you, universe.

Life changer:

My first foray into bread that was not a quick bread: english muffin bread.

MFD and I walked over the Ben Franklin Bridge on my 35th birthday, another life list item.

I started making my own Febreze, fabric softener, glass cleaner, and granite cleaner, and I haven't bought any since.

I changed the name of this blog from Weinerwhistle to Life According to Steph.

I became a devotee of Zoya nail polish.

Geege turned eight and Gussie turned 7.

The best dessert I made all year: salted caramel butter bars.

The best dip I made all year: bacon double cheeseburger dip.

One of the best meals I made this year: Pan seared chicken with balsamic cream sauce, mushrooms and carmelized onions.

My favorite quick meal: Chicken enchilada pasta.

I think you should make spinach feta turkey burgers

I got an iphone. And had a brief but extremely ardent affair with solitaire.

We spent a weekend in Cape May to celebrate my Grandmom's 80th.

My brother graduated from high school and started college at Villanova.

We got a new car.

I spent a lot of time at my Mom & Rich's pool.

I started drinking beer on ice like an old lady.

I carried a watermelon. You didn't think you'd get through this post without a Dirty Dancing reference, did you?

My obsession with Duck Dynasty occupied a lot of my time.

We got a new roommate. Darren Daulton himself.

I touched the Pacific Ocean for the first time, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, rode on a street car, visited Alcatraz, and hugged a redwood tree.

We went sailing on Lake Tahoe while spending a weekend with my best friends and attending a wedding.

This blog turned a year old in July.

We had an awesome weekend in Strathmere with Frank and Amanda.

I finally made Pioneer Woman's iced coffee and good Lord it was wonderful.

I continued my mad love affair with pinterest and found new ways to organize my scarves, purses, makeup, and under the bathroom sinks.

Two days in Cocoa Beach.

Seven day Disney cruise on Disney's newest ship with friends. Stops in St. Martin, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay. It was marvelous and wonderful. I'd like to go back.

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary and 10 years together with an amazing eight course meal at a fancy french restaurant after trolling around St. Martin all day.

President Barack Obama was re-elected. We housed out of state campaign workers in the final days of the campaign.

We were Bill and Monica for Halloween.

We were also Amish thanks to Kenny & Lauren's costume lending.

Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl ended.

Sandy devastated the East Coast. A crazy gunman devastated Sandy Hook Elementary School. I've had about enough of Sandy disasters.

Books I enjoyed in 2012:
Gone Girl
Tigers in Red Weather
Rules of Civility
The Fault in our Stars
Four novels (in order) by Tana French

Friends and family got engaged, married, moved in together, announced pregnancies, lost dogs, got new dogs. We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. We lost loved ones - my step grandmom died in the summer, and Grandmom died on December 21 after a courageous nine month battle with pancreatic cancer.

I reflected on my grandmothers and knowing your weaknesses; shared some of my life lessonscleaning tips, why I love America, shore love, and favorite books. I elaborated on the art of saying no and managing expectations.

Like every year, 2012 contained good and bad. I subscribe to the school of life where you need to know the bad to appreciate how good the good is when it's good. Say that five times fast.

As this year winds down, I'm setting my sights on 2013 and what things I can knock off of my life list next year, what recipes I want to try, restaurants I have to get to, weekend getaways I'd like to get nailed down, home improvement projects...I'm ready to leave 2012 in the dust!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A day of silence, a place for donations


Any donations made to Newtown Youth and Family Services will be donated directly to those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. 

Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We can't be good at everything

I am fierce with myself. Like everyone, I show my strengths more than my weaknesses, but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of the places where I fall short or the character flaws that I have.

This blog naturally gravitates to a lot of things that are my strengths: productivity, organization, cooking, saying no, dissing Justin Bieber. A lot of people have said to me,  "How do you do all the shit you do on a weekend?" To them I say, "How do you take a spin class at 5 am or run a 5k or divide a check by seven without using a calculator?"  Your triumphs could very well be one of my hot mess disasters. We can't all be good at everything, and if we were all good at the same things, that would suck. Because who would assemble furniture for me? I actually hate when people say, "Stop! You CAN do it!" One, let's be honest: I don't really want to. Two, no, I can't. Just like I can't hop on my purple Unicorn Wanda and take a quick ride to the moon.

If I try something a few times and don't get better at it, I say good day to it. Some things you just know in your gut you're not ever going to get the hang of, and when that happens to me, I'm okay with it. I don't beat my head against the wall or try it 59 more times. I'm not going to be good at everything I do. Part of life is playing to your strengths and knowing your weaknesses so you can avoid them. These are some of mine.

1. I am not arty or crafty. I am afraid of hot glue guns. I spaz when creation is in the air. I like to pin shit on pinterest and imagine myself standing calmly before my assembled materials, wearing crisp white pants and a slim finely striped button down accessorized by a complementary chunky necklace, with my hair in a topknot I effortlessly fashioned myself. I gaze around serenely and pick up a tool to begin. Then I wake the fuck up and go look at something someone else has made.  Because it isn't happening. And I'll never wear white pants.

2. Blow drying my hair. My arms get tired, I always have resulting Uncle Larrys, and I'd rather just skip it. So I skip it. Every day.

3. I am very very bad at dealing with weak people and attention whores. I feel like punching them in the face. Sweet Brown ain't got no time for that.

4. Getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise. I lack the willpower and desire, and I am not going to be acquiring either of them. I can't even walk a straight line that early. Once I busted out some Billy Blanks at 6 a.m. and nearly broke my face and some glassware in my living room. I'd rather stay in bed for my own safety and to preserve my belongings.

So would Geege. Obviously.
5. My self pedis leave a lot to be desired.

6. I am unable and unwilling to keep my dogs off of furniture and beds. I'll deal with the hair, and so will you if you come over.

7. I can't hang anything worth a damn. Michelle has hung pretty much every picture and curtain rod in my house. The ones that are crooked are my masterpieces.

8. Using power tools. I'm like a baby trying to pilot a rocket ship.

9. I know every word to a lot of songs, but you don't want to hear me sing them. It's not a pretty sound.

10. My gift wrapping is an atrocity. Bags are my friend.

11. 5 + 3 x 12 = hand me the calculator. Math is a foreign language to me.

12. I'm impatient to the max and will lose my shit over it.

So there you have it. Some of my shitshiney qualities. And I'm okay with being bad at stuff. I like to know and acknowledge my blind spots so they don't bite me in the ass. Then I spend 98% of my time accentuating the positive: the things I'm good at doing, my natural proclivity for certain tasks and ways of thinking. I hope you do too.

It's sunny  here today in Philadelphia, the first time since last Wednesday? Or Tuesday? I can't even remember.

Have a good one!

Linking up with Helene for Tell Me About it Tuesday.

Helene in Between

Friday, November 30, 2012

30 days of thanks, straight up. No chaser.

What was I thankful for this month?

November 1 -  Pink starburst

November 2 - The  library website, down all week due to Sandy, is back up. And I'm thankful for my Dad. Today is his birthday.

November 3 - I can fill my car with gas when many in NY and NJ can't, and that I have heat and electric and water and a roof over my head when many do not.

November 4 - That others are taking collections for Sandy victims so I have a place to take donations.

November 5 - To have room to house out of state campaign workers in the last days leading up to the elections.

November 6 - The right to vote.

November 7 - MFD. For so many reasons, one of the tops being the laughter he brings to my life daily. Especially on the days I don't feel like laughing.

November 8 - Fresh clean sheets.

November 9 - Out of town visitors who are content to get into pajamas, eat cheesesteaks, and have drinks on the couch. Holler, Misty.

November 10 - Lunch with my knottie ladies, seeing Kim & Steve who are in town for the night from Boston, and a great night with our framily (friends who are like family = framily. I JUST COINED THAT) - Kim, Steve, Debbie, Michelle, Jamie, Jenn, Frank, Amanda, Jimmy, Jackie, Chris, Diana, Evan.

November 11 - Veterans.

November 12 - My job.

November 13 - Leftover meatloaf, eaten cold with a mountain of ketchup.

November 14 - Vicks VapoRub and garishly bright flannel pajama sets.

November 15 - My nephews, the way they make me laugh and the promises they have for bright futures.

November 16 - Email and texting that enable me to communicate with so many people daily without picking up the phone.

November 17 - The utter joy I get from my dogs.

November 18 - Lazy Sunday afternoons with a good book.

November 19 - Convenience, and working in close proximity to my bank and pharmacy.

November 20 - Nail polish.

November 21 - DVR.

November 22 - Spending Thanksgiving with my Grandmom, which I haven't done in many years.

November 23 - Iced coffee from DD and the fact that Debbie spends most holidays with us - you don't have to be blood to be family. FRAMILY, y'all.

November 24 - The season's first flurries.

November 25 - My parents. Both my mom and my dad are the fucking best, in different ways. And their spouses are wonderful for them. Their divorce wasn't easy to go through, but I truly believe everyone is where they're supposed to be now.

November 26 - Free shipping on online purchases.

November 27 - My Tuesday night zumba instructor who kicks ass, Michelle for being my gym buddy, and that girls weekend in January with Laura and the two Kims was super easy to schedule this year.

November 28 - Groupon deals.

November 29 - My younger brothers. Both of them have grown into funny, respectable, kind men.

November 30 - Fridays.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You're not welcome ever again

So last night on the train I saw TIGHT ROLLED PANTS, you guys. My brain seized. I was transported back to 1987 when I wore acid washed tight rolled jeans with big ass socks, colored Reeboks, and garish sweaters in Mrs. Victor's fifth grade class.

I am certainly not a fashionista. I have been to the grocery store in my plaid pajama pants. I have worn yoga pants to work. Nonetheless, here are other things I hope will go away and never come back:
  • Trucker hats
  • Fedoras
  • Shoulder pads
  • Fanny packs (I already know Laura will disagree with me on this)
  • Uggs. I know, I know. They're comfortable and warm. Everyone keeps telling me that. I just...can't.

  • Those sneakers that claim to tone your buttocks. They just look like lopsided platforms. 
  • Vibram toe shoes. They freak me out.
  • Celebrities that are bundled up for frigid temperatures when it hits 62. 

Now early 90s grunge...that can come back any day.

What trends are you over  for eternity?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grinch List

Let me preface this by saying that I enjoy the Christmas season. I like to deck my halls, share good cheer with those dear to me, send and receive cards, sing Fairytale of New York at the top of my lungs, marvel over ugly Christmas sweaters, sit on the couch and admire the glow of our tree, put reindeer antlers on my dogs, donate toys for tots, bake Christmas cookies, watch Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, see everyone's tree and Santa pics, the whole nine.

But there are things I don't like too, and I'm probably not the only one. We rarely mention the stressful dark side of the holiday season for fear of being branded a Scrooge. Even though this is a season cloaked in magic, there is a reality to it, like there is to everything. Not loving everything about the holiday season doesn't make me or you Scrooge. This year my gift to myself is acknowledging that.

So what don't I like?

Doing the Christmas tree. I like it when it's up, but putting it up? No. Thankfully I'm married to MFD W. Griswold and he does it start to finish. And he does it very well - he clips it lovingly with scissors, he places each ornament carefully. He has an eye for symmetry and our tree is always beautiful. I usually have to take it down, which I also hate, but I'll take it. And, pine needles. Insidious vacuum hose ruiners.

Christmas music 24/7. Or that Christmas Shoes song, ever.

The attempt to cram a year of cheer into one month. By 12/26, I'm tired.

Seeing Christmas decor in stores at Halloween (I'm looking at you, Kohl's), really irks me. It takes away some of the rush. I remember when nothing was up in stores until after Thanksgiving, and it seemed like magic happened overnight. Now it's the sales that happen overnight. It puts me in a bad mood. I feel like greed and consumerism take over a lot of the season.

Expecting shiny happy kumbaya love circles because it's the holidays. Not everyone gets along or likes everyone else, and that's okay. That's life. Pretending for December is awkward.

Scheduling Christmas Day. Have I timed it right? Are we spending enough time everywhere? Someone is invariably disappointed and I am always anxious about it in advance. Why is it harder to keep in mind during the holidays that if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one?

The holiday season tests my desire to keep a good life balance. I want to do everything and be everywhere and see everyone. I have to remember that I can't do it all without getting totally run down, rendering me useless like Randy in A Christmas Story.

This concludes the airing of the grievances and holiday whining.

Next up: feats of strength and holiday posts about pooping candy cane scented sunshine.

Linking up with Helene, Emily and Kathleen for Tell Me About it Tuesday.

Helene in Between
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