Wednesday, December 23, 2009


So far my vacation has been blissful! Snuggling, a fire in the fireplace, hot bubble baths, freshly baked cookies, homemade meals, a Chanukah party with close friends, presents all around, outlet shopping, TONS of snow, sleeping in and a few movies.

I realized that blogging was becoming something I HAD TO DO RIGHT NOW OR ELSE during this vacation, so I need a small break until the New Year. At that time I will return with my New Year's goals and some retrospection on 2009.

I wish you and yours the best and the brightest that the holiday season has to offer! Can't wait to catch up again in 2010!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best of '09: Day 16

Best Tea

My favorite tea of the year (other than Yogi Tea in peppermint, which is my standby) was Teavana's Ayurvedic White Chai. I haven't ever tasted anything like it. So yummy! Here is the description from the website:

"A chai that stands apart! This energizing tea contains spicy bursts of cinnamon, cloves and black and red pepper tempered with sweet coconut and delicate lemongrass. These complex flavors enhance the Ayurvedic properties of this rare white tea. "

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Revelry Review

You. Must. Read. This. Book. Now.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer seeks to shed light on the factory farming industry, as well as gain a better understanding about the stories we create and tell (and retell) to and about each other and about what we eat. He starts by writing about his grandmother, who survived the Holocaust eating very little. Safran Foer wonders how he can turn down her chicken soup when he knows that it is an expression of love from her. When he becomes a father, he decides that he needs to find out exactly where meat comes from in order to feed it to his son without disturbing his conscience. Turns out he can't--they are all now vegetarians/vegans.

I've read quite a number of books on the farming industry, why we should all be vegetarians or vegans and how to eat a meatless diet. I've never read any quite like this. I learned some new things. For instance, did you know that such a thing existed as sea lice?! ICK! He talks to several farmers, including one that is a vegetarian, members of PETA, his own family, etc. Since Safran Foer usually writes fiction (Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and the writing is really superb in this one too. I have never eaten red meat or pork and I stopped eating shellfish and chicken a few years back. This book made me so glad that I did. I am not sure that I will ever be able to eat fish after reading this either.

If you read it, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best of '09: Day 12

Best Food

I am clearly beyond a little late to the artichoke party, but I only discovered artichokes in 2009. Previously I would avoid them because they looked rather unappealing. I gave them a try at a Greek restaurant one day on a total whim and now I can't stop eating them! On pizzas, with lentils, in stews, with pasta, etc. I love artichokes!

Read more about the Best of '09 Blog Challenge here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best of '09: Day 11

Best Place

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea."~Isak Dinesen

My favorite place has always been the beach, or really any body of water. I love seeing the bay from my Mom's balcony in New Jersey, walking along the beach with Jesse in Florida or reading by the lake in Maine. Some of my favorite moments from my childhood were spent at the beach. There is something about its ebb and flow and all the life it contains. It makes you feel so very small, in a good way.

Read more about the Best of '09 blog challenge here.

{Photo credit: Jesse.Millan}

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of '09: Day 9

Best Album

Ray Lamontagne's "Gossip in the Grain" actually came out in 2008. I, however, did not discover it until this year. It's beautifully haunting and touching and just perfect. I love it. Go listen!

Read more about the Best of '09 Blog Challenge here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best of '09: Day 9


In general, 2009 was a very challenging year for me. I balanced a full-time job with part-time graduate studies. I took some of the most difficult courses I have taken to date. I faced a few health challenges. Time seemed scarce and stress seemed to abound.

The biggest challenge I faced this year, however, was being in a long-distance relationship.

Due to a number of circumstances, my boyfriend and I don't live near each other. I live in the Washington, DC area. In the beginning of the year, he lived in New York City and now, due to school, lives in Pennsylvania. Since we both have pretty full plates, it doesn't leave all that much time to visit. Reading and studying and, in my case, work, take up so much of our time that short Gmail video chats is what we rely on to get by.

This year I have learned so much about myself through this experience. I've learned a lot about love, trust, patience, communication, the importance of scheduling, understanding, honesty and empathy. I think you learn about boundaries and about voicing what you need better than you might if you were together all the time. I also learned that after this year, I don't ever want to have to be long-distance ever again. The distance most certainly teaches you to appreciate the time you do get to spend together, but I would never trade that for being able to come home to him every night.

{Photo credit: Mykl Roventine}

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today's Pretties

Crystalline Globe Necklace from Anthropologie

artLAB's Super Soft, Super Chic PLUM Flannel Ruffle Scarf

Best of '09: Day 8

Moment of Peace

Without a doubt, my best moment of peace this year was, in reality, a week's worth of moments: my trip to Maine this summer. I spent a week enjoying life instead of constantly putting out fires and responding to whatever comes my way. I had very limited access to internet and t.v. I napped whenever I felt like it. I laughed. I read, if I remember correctly, five books. I swam. I played ping pong. I played Pictionary. I laid in a hammock. It was blissful. It was the first time all year that I felt like I was truly relaxing. Time felt like it was moving at a different pace. I remember thinking on more than one occasion, This is true happiness.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Revelry Review: Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

This morning I started and finished Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy. The book traces the history of birthing practices to explain how we ended up where we are today. She ultimately concludes that birthing practices have always, and will likely continue to, reflect the time period in which they are created.

Equal parts horror story (she discusses how, in certain times, women were literally ripped apart in order to make room for the baby to be born and stuck fetuses were torn out of women's bodies with hooks) and fascinating sociological history (when and why were men ultimately allowed into the delivery room?), this book is a great read for anyone interested in women's history, birth, pregnancy, etc.

This book made me SO grateful that I will have children in the 21st century, even with its birthing oddities, such as "too posh to push" scheduled c-sections.

Best of '09: Day 7

Today's "Best of '09" category is Best Blog Find of the Year. Many of the blogs that I currently read I also read prior to this year. However, there is one that always brings a smile to my face when I read it that I did come across in 2009: Naturally Nina.

Nina's posts are always authentic and engaging. She writes in such an honest way that I feel like I know her in real life! She recently got engaged and her posts about her fiancee, being engaged and weddings are absolutely adorable. She is also into yoga, coffee, blogs-of-the-week and appreciating the city where she lives. What's not to love?! Thanks, Nina, for being such a source of inspiration!

{Image credit: Naturally Nina}

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best of '09: Day 6

Best Workshop/Conference

Well, this was really more of a one-day local retreat, but I am going to say Kimberly Wilson's "New Year's Gala" this past January anyway because it was that good. We set intentions and goals, learned about how to best take care of ourselves through nutrition, did slow-flow yoga, wrote in our journals and generally basked in both a sense of community and the glow of a beautiful setting. It was the perfect way to start the new year. If you will be in the Washington, DC area, Kimberly will be hosting the retreat again on January 9, 2010. To sign up, go to the Tranquil Space website under "workshops".

For more information on the "Best of '09 Blog Challenge", visit Gwen Bell's blog.

{Photo credit: Tranquility Du Jour}

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Best of '09: Day 5

Best Night Out

Over the summer, a friend took me to see the musical "Spring Awakening" at the Kennedy Center. Before we went we had dinner at a great Thai restaurant in Georgetown. The musical itself was so powerful that it left me thinking about it for days.

There was also another fun night when I went to Dallas for 24 hours in early January, but that one I don't remember too much of. Oops!

For more on the "Best of '09 Blog Challenge", visit Gwen Bell's blog.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best of '09 Blog Challenge: Days 1-4

I have quite the unnatural obsession with lists, favorites, memes, etc, so I was over-the-moon to discover Gwen Bell's Best of '09 blog challenge. Every day in December, bloggers will post their responses to her "Best of '09" categories. I may not do every day's category but I'm going to try to do as many as I can. Since it's already December 4th, I have some catching up to do!

December 1: Best Trip

This is the first year in five years that I did not travel abroad. While I would have loved to see other parts of the world, I am really thankful to have had the chance to get to see more of the good old US of A. I visited Florida, Missouri, Maine (three times!) and Massachusetts for the first time this year. Of those, my favorite was my first trip to Maine back in August. I got to know Jesse's family much better, see a beautiful part of the country and fell in love with New England. We spent our days recharging our batteries, swimming, reading, eating all things blueberry and sight-seeing. Even now, when I need to relax, I mentally picture our time spent at the lake.

December 2: Best Restaurant Moment

My birthday is four days before Valentine's Day. Last February Jesse came to visit and we went out to Me Jana, which serves Lebanese tapas, to celebrate both occasions. The food was scrumptious and the company was so very handsome. It was romantic and perfect.

December 3: Best Article

"Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch" by Michael Pollan was both interesting and engaging.

December 4: Best Book

I read roughly 80 books a year, so it is very hard to pick just I'll pick four. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder both broke my heart and gave me hope. This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor by Susan Wicklund steeled my resolve. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn , which I blogged about here, opened my eyes and motivated me to do more. And lastly, The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau inspired me to get into the kitchen and get creative.

{Photo credit: mysza831}

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Goals

I can't believe it is already December! My goals for this month include:

-Finish up my send-to-last semester (!) of graduate school with good grades and low-ish stress levels.

-Finish holiday shopping and wrapping everything by December 20th

-Take deep breaths and enjoy making new memories with my family, friends and boyfriend

-Catch up on blogging

-Start crocheting and cooking often

-Get to the gym regularly

-Research different ideas for career paths

-Rest and relax

My last day of work for the year is December 11th. I can't wait to have lots and lots of totally free time!

{Photo credit: Muffet}