Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ending on a High Note

It’s hard not to reflect on the past year in this time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. And I have to admit, I’ve been reflecting that 2014 was a pretty great year. I’m sure that sounds arrogant, but I mean it with the most sincere intentions. In my 29 years, they certainly have not all been easy. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some really bruised years. But this past year was honestly one of my best– and it’s ending on a really high note:

Tim and I are in the process of closing on a house we really love. It’s taken a lot of hard work over the past nearly two years for Tim and I to work towards saving enough money for a down payment, and sometimes it felt like we’d never get there. But those struggles are what make this all the more sweeter. I feel so much pride for what Tim and I have accomplished together, and we’ve also been lucky enough to have tremendous love and support from our friends and family through the process. Come mid-January, we should be homeowners!

The house is really the icing on this cake of a year.There were so many highlights, such as pulling off a surprise birthday celebration trip to Nashville with my dear friend for his wife and my husband, a last-minute trip to South Carolina with my parents for some March Madness fun, and a concert in Indianapolis this past summer with my brother and sister and their spouses. Tim and I celebrated our 5th anniversary on the beaches of Tulum, Mexico, I made a really positive career change that is already proving to be so rewarding, and doing this 29 Before 30 has been so fun and enriching. And the best part of the year: my friends and family are all healthy and happy. A girl really couldn’t ask for more.

I hope your year was just as great. But if it wasn’t, the promise of a brand new year is just around the corner and it’s a chance to start over. Here’s to 2015!

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made these sweet potato and black bean enchiladas for my weekly recipe. We haven’t eaten them yet– I stuck them in our fridge to heat up one night this week for an easy dinner, but they look and smell really good!
  • Tim and I had a great day trip/date night last Friday. We went down to Evansville to watch the high school basketball team my dad is helping coach play a game. It was so much fun to watch the game, and Tim and I went out for THE BEST Chinese food before it.
  • I’ve only been focusing on the Academy Award winners for best picture that I haven’t seen, but I saw that Netflix had 1976’s winner, Rocky, so I rewatched it this morning while doing housework. Such a classic!
  • I’ve continued writing and taking photos.
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Top 5 Christmas Comedies

I’m a total sucker for pretty much all Christmas movies, but I hold a very dear place in my heart for the comedies. They are ones I watch each year without ever getting tired of them.

There are, however, a few that are far superior. In my humble opinion, here are the Top 5 Christmas Comedy Movies, ranked:

5) Fred Claus. Super funny cast– Vince Vaughn, Kathy Bates, Kevin Spacey, John Michael Higgins. My favorite part of the movie: Paul Giamatti as Santa.

4) Home Alone. A classic from my childhood. You can’t NOT love this movie. Favorite scene: John Candy as Gus Polinksi, Polka King of the Midwest.

3) A Christmas Story. The best storytelling. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, you always laugh. Favorite quote: “Aah! Fra-gee-leh! It must be Italian.”

2) Elf. Two words. WILL. FERRELL. This movie is perfect. It’s so hard to pick a favorite part, but I do particularly love the scene where Buddy sees the Gimbel’s Santa and says to him: “You sit on a throne of lies!” and “You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa.”

And, drum roll, please….

1) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. If you disagree, then you are wrong and I feel sorry for you. Not only is this the best Christmas comedy and probably best Christmas movie period, but it’s one of the most quotable films of all time. It’s impossible to pick a favorite line, but here’s just a sampling of what Tim and I quote to each other on a year round basis:

“Why’s the carpet wet, Todd? I don’t know Margot!”

“And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.”

“Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now. ”

“Every time Catherine revved up the microwave I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for a half hour or so.”

“Why do you need a coat and a hammer? Catch it in a coat. Smack it with a hammer.”

And obviously, last but not least:

“That there’s an RV.” and “Shitter’s full.”

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to need to watch Christmas Vacation for the 651st time.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I finished book #3, Blood, Butter, and Bones. Beautiful and sad and hopeful. I also started book #4, Barrel Fever, the collection of essays and short stories by David Sedaris.
  • For week eleven’s recipe, I made this easy homemade ramen, and yesterday I made a homemade chicken noodle soup that I didn’t really follow a recipe for, but it was sort of close to this.
  • I mailed out all of my Christmas cards!
  • I got my first framed family wedding photo: My grandma gave me a copy of the below photo from her wedding day. How stunning are she and my grandpa?
  • I took part in something charitable around the holidays. Tim and I are both really passionate about pets, which is obvious due to the love of our dogs. We both truly believe in animal shelters, as Gunner was a shelter puppy, and our shelter here in Bloomington does an amazing job. Yesterday, we went to Big Lots and Target and gathered up toys, bones, blankets, cleaning supplies, and treats to donate to the Bloomington Animal Shelter. They were so appreciative when we dropped everything off, and it made my heart so happy to give to a cause I believe in so deeply. Here’s the link to their Amazon Wish List if you feel so inclined.
  • I continued writing and taking photos. Here are a few shots from last week:

 

His and hers cocktails.

His and hers cocktails.

Our staff retreat was  to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Our staff retreat was to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

My beautiful grandmother and grandfather leaving for their honeymoon.

My beautiful grandmother and grandfather leaving for their honeymoon.

Our donation to the Animal Shelter.

Our donation to the Animal Shelter.

Christmas Magic

Is there anything more magical than Christmas as a kid?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Christmases of my childhood. Ours were always very steeped in rituals and traditions. When Tyler, Tory, and I were little, the three of us spent the night before every Christmas Eve together in my brother’s bed– most likely in matching red flannel pajamas– sleeping restlessly as we waited for Santa Claus to come to our house a night early. We woke up on Christmas Eve morning (I’m sure as early as I could talk my older siblings into), and would walk out together in a line, oldest to youngest, with our eyes closed.  Once reaching our living room, we would count to three and open our eyes all at the same time to MAGIC. Stockings swollen and full of surprises, unwrapped gifts set out in front of the tree in special piles for each kid. MAGIC. The grand reveal was followed by present-opening with our mom and dad, and then the five of us scarfing down an epic blueberry pancake breakfast cooked by my dad. We’d just hang out, show off our new gifts, snuggle, stay in our pj’s all day, and be together. It made me feel safe and warm and loved.

We rounded out Christmas Eve with the Vandeventer family Christmas at my Mamaw and Papaw’s, which was a nighttime celebration filled with what felt like 100 cousins, the best country comfort food known to man, and music. The music was the best part. After dinner, my uncles would pull out their guitars and we’d all gather into the basement and sing carols and hymns. It made me feel part of something way bigger than myself.

We’d leave late in the night from Mamaw and Papaw’s and head straight to my Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s, which was only about a 10 minute drive but felt like forever as a child. The three of us kids would repeat our ritual from the night before, all sleeping together again in matching pj’s in a bed upstairs at my grandparents. We’d wake up and go downstairs to Maw Maw’s HUGE tree and get to experience the magic all over again. It made me feel lucky, so very lucky.

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic for these Christmases lately. They say hindsight is 20/20, but I guess I never really got just how special it all was until I got older. All of us kids grew up, we lost many of our loved ones, and our extended families have simply grown apart. It makes me sad, but I really do fully grasp just how fortunate I was to have so much love around the holidays as a child. I really do think it’s all cyclical, too. My very special nephews and niece get to have their own traditions and rituals that hopefully they will remember forever. It’s now my mom and dad’s turn to be the larger-than-life grandparents and my brother’s, sister’s, and my turn to make the magic happen for Gram, Marina, Rhett, and Hank. And hopefully they, too, will feel just as loved and lucky and like they are a part of something much bigger than themselves.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I did a  riff on this pizza for last week’s recipe. I replaced the goat cheese with ricotta because Tim’s not so crazy about goat cheese, and I added arugula dressed in olive oil, lemon, and dijon on top for a little acidity. Super tasty.
  • I watched 1970’s Best Picture winner, Patton. It was pretty good, just long. And although it takes place in WWII, there really aren’t many battle scenes, rather, the war just sort of serves  as a backdrop.
  • Tim and are deciding on our Christmas cards this week, AND we decided on our holiday charity. More on that soon!
  • I got back into the habit of writing and taking photos every day. Here are two photos of my pups from last week:
Poor Georgia got all tangled up in our curtains while watching for squirrels

Poor Georgia got all tangled up in our curtains while watching for squirrels

Snuggling the Gunner boy

Snuggling the Gunner boy

Musings on Becoming an Old Lady

This past Saturday, I dealt a few of my younger friends a harsh reality: I’m a full-blown old lady.

In the span of about an hour and a half, I went from “Hey! Let’s get together and play Cards Against Humanity,” to “I’m sorry, I know it’s not even 10 p.m., but I’ve got to get horizontal.” In my defense, Mexican food played a heavy hand in my record-breaking spiral down to Flake City. Hanging out seems like a fantastic idea until you’ve eaten your body weight in cheese dip and it’s all you can do to a) stay awake and b) keep your pants buttoned on the way home when all you can do is think about the sweatpants you want to put on and the couch you’re going to lay on, HARD.

Here’s the thing: I’m 100% fine with my old lady tendencies. I’m much more well-rested and comfortable since becoming one. Not only am I going to bed earlier, but strange things related to sleep suddenly matter, such as buying quality sheets and pillows and NEVER being ok with sleeping on the couch. Just last week before Thanksgiving, my dad asked if Tim and I wanted to come down to their house Wednesday night. I replied that we would be happy to, but only if there was a bed to sleep in. My parents’ house is great, but with the addition of my 3 nephews and niece, beds are at a premium when the whole family is in town. And somehow, being the youngest and only childless ones has drawn Tim and I the short straw. I’ve spent too many holiday nights sleeplessly flailing on a couch, head to toe with my husband to maximize space, finally falling asleep around 5am only to be awoken to the footsteps of the munchkins approximately 15 minutes later. Let this be the forum in which I officially declare: I am too old for that shiz.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • For Thanksgiving, I cooked the Pioneer Woman’s stuffing for my weekly recipe, and it was insanely good.
  • I finished all of my letters to my family about why I love them and delivered each to their recipients on Thanksgiving. The process of writing these letters has not only been the most rewarding part of my 29 Before 30, but it’s  been one of the most special experiences in my life. I’m so thankful to be able to express gratitude to my loved ones.
  • I’ve started book #3, Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. She is a gorgeous writer!
  • Daily photos and writing in my journal suffered a bit in the holiday week. I wrote all of my letters by hand, so I often only got a sentence or two down in my journal each day of last week. I have no excuse for slacking on taking pictures though,  and I hope to get committed back to both of these.