Friday, December 29, 2006


So finally... this will just about catch me up on my backlog of photos that have been building up in my digital camera... and I will make it quick since, frankly, anyone who celebrates Christmas has the same story as me from December 25th... you know, wake up, throw on some clothes suitable for photos, plop on the couch with a bunch of gifts, and snack away on unhealthy Entemann's pastries while listening to David Bowie's "Little Drummer Boy" for the 916th time on the easy listening radio station that has played nothing but classic Christmas hits 24-7 for weeks in a row.
My mom and I invited Miguel over to share in the festivities, and he arrived around 10am...

Here was the set-up...

... we threw in some fresh fruit & mimosas too.

And our stockings (not exactly hung by the non-existent chimney)...

... I'm a total sucker for stocking stuffers. Really, I love buying & receiving them! It's my favorite part of Christmas.

Here I am with one of my gifts...

... looking positively thrilled.

After gift time, as usual, we prepared a Christmas ham dinner.

And here's my mom just before delving in to the food...

... you can see that Maytag enjoyed our holidays too. My mom's been going through hell trying to get a new washer and dryer installed in her apartment because Home Depot screwed up her order and didn't send all the installation parts, which are all on back-order now. So the appliances are sitting pretty in the dining room because they don't fit anywhere else. Such lovely ambiance.

Anyway, I've skipped over the most important part of Christmas... sheer materialistic gluttony.

Forget the ham dinner (which was tasty)... here is some of the loot I brought in this year... In the food & beverage category:

... a much needed bread knife! Yeaaa!

And some funky posavasos (AKA coasters)...

... which my brother sent to me from Argentina.

In the literary category, I got this cool book:

... which details a Scottish diplomat's walk across central Afghanistan a few years ago.

And I also got this challenging read:

... which included a check for $100 for hair coloring from my mom!

Furthermore, in the beauty category my mom also got me this:

... a Lather moisture mask, which is a dream come true for my insanely dry skin.

Moving on to fashion, I got the Swatch that I asked for to replace my all-time favorite Saudi watch I accidentally ruined last summer after I went bodysurfing with it at the beach (oops):

So cute and very comfortable.

And speaking of cute, Miguel got me this great necklace:

... it's totally my style. Clean, simple, and yet slightly off-beat.

And from my dad, I got new luggage to replace the TJ Maxx crap I bought a few years ago that recently started falling apart:

Since my dad's a pilot, I figured he'd be the best person to recommend good luggage. He got me the TravelPro Crew 5 series that flight crews use. I'll give it a try going back to Tucson and see how it fares!!!

And that's it for Christmas. The last few days -- the post-Christmas, pre-New Year's week where life is in total limbo -- I've literally just been sitting around. I've been doing a little job hunting (aaaaccchhhhh!), I've made labels for my mom's Christmas cards, I've been watching a lot of the Discovery Health Channel, and I've been playing a lot of video games. Pretty sad actually. To be honest, I haven't even seen that many of my friends because it requires effort to coordinate everything (and actually, many/most of them are out of town right now or with family). But I figure this is my last real chance to indulge in unrealistic, college-student-winter-break-behavior, and damn it, I'm going to make the most of it.

Tomorrow I might even set my alarm for 10am!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Eve

If you ask me, there are few things more ridiculous in the suburbs than the ludicrous names given to streets in new subdivisions.

On Christmas Eve, Miguel and I went to visit his older brother, who lives in the farthest outer reaches of the Maryland burbs in a brand new neighborhood chock full of evil McMansions built on what was once pristine dairy farmland. If there's one thing I hate the most about the exburbs, it's enormous brick front houses with tacky vinyl siding covering the other three sides of the structure. As in... we can afford brick, but only on the side that visitors see... then we had to cut costs so we stuck vinyl everywhere else. It looks ridiculous.

Here is the view coming into the neighborhood...

I was visibly cringing.

Then we started seeing the street names, which were so ludicrous Miguel and I started to laugh out loud and had to pull over to adequately photograph them:

Any idea what an Inkberry is? Or a Serviceberry for that matter?

This one is charming too:

Very Bed, Bath, and Beyond...

All urban bitchiness aside, M's brother does have a very nice home once you get past the brick/siding combo and picket fence.

Here is Miguel with his 7-year old nephew in the family room...

And here I am with the newest little member of the family, Gabriel...

... who is six months old and really really cute!

Here's M's brother playing with Gabriel and his new gift...

We stayed for a few hours, ate some Christmas cookies, watched some E! television shows, and chatted with M's brother's in-laws who were visiting. Then it was time to hit the road back to the urban reality that we live in.

We spent Christmas eve night with Nichole, Luis, his parents, and my mom, which was an entertaining affair and then we hit the hay around 1am.

All in all, it was a pretty good day, and this is turning into a long, boring blog entry that I must end now in order to go get a drink.

Look forward to Christmas next time, and then we'll be all caught up!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


My cute, precocious, adorable, fabulous, beautiful, and all-around perfect niece is turning 5 years old today...


The Annual Christmas Party

Every year, my former co-worker, JM, has a big annual party at her house in Falls Church. Without a doubt, she and her husband, W., are the most gung-ho Christmas people I have ever met, and their home is living proof of that every December.

Upon pulling up to their driveway last Saturday night, the 23rd, I wasn't at all surprised to see every single column, window, and flat surface on the front of their house outfitted in garland and blinking lights, accompanied by a waving and ho-ho'ing life-size Santa next to the front door. Truly, it would have given Clark Griswold some serious competition. I was told that W. started decorating this year on the day after Halloween. Now that's dedication.

Anyway, their annual party is really nice... it's mostly a co-worker and family party, which adds up to about 50 people, most of whom I already know from the State Department, and it's the best possible way to catch up on all the gossip about work that I've missed over the past year and a half, which, of course, I absolutely relish.

They have it professionally catered with a bartender and waiter, and the food is laid out onto separate dessert and dinner buffet areas, and it's always delicious.

Here is the cake they served this year at the dessert table:

And here is their one-year old daughter, Kate, who is super cute:

They hosted a game in which guests had to guess the answers to Chrismas trivia questions for prizes. Kate got a hold of some of the prizes and started handing them out to random guests. I'm proud to announce that I won one of the prizes (a Christmas towel set) for properly answering the question: "Who is King George's archrival in the ballet, 'the Nutcracker'"?

J. & W. have three little dogs, two Yorkies and a mutt, that they lock up in the garage during the party so they're not underfoot and barking like mad throughout the night. One of my friends said the Yorkies had just gotten groomed and looked like litle ewoks so I wanted to see it for myself.

Here is Teense:

He really wanted out of the garage!

Later on, the kids left, and the non-parents ended the night out on the back patio under the heat lamp. Although the front and inside of the house are decorated with more Christmas decor than I knew existed (including almost every wall hanging, knick knack, and dish), I wasn't prepared for the amount of Christmas equipment in the back yard. I'm talking about a singing train, an electric life-size blowing snowglobe, animated reindeer, inflatable Christmas characters (like Santa climbing halfway up a tree), and lights, lights lights, lights, and more lights. It was truly a winter wonderland.

Here is J.'s best friend from high school and her husband...
They're really fun to hang out with. She's a lawyer in NYC, and he's an artist and designer.

And here's J.'s brother about to be attacked by a neighborhood cat:

These are some of W.'s co-workers:

They work at State too but not in my old office so I don't really know them very well.

Little Kate was still awake at midnight (the latest she's ever stayed up)...

... despite J.'s best efforts to wind her down. She was in a remarkably good mood though for an exhausted one-year old.

After about five red wines (I'm sure my teeth were purple), I decided to call it a night, especially since my nose started running like a faucet as a result of my annoying cold. That's never a good look.

Usually we do an office photo, but this year for some reason it just didn't happen. C'est la vie.

And that does it for the 23rd of December. Tomorrow I'll attack Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Day After Christmas

Merry Crappy Day After Christmas!

I have lots to catch up on, but first I must report that aside from all the Christmas festivities, Miguel turned 40, and I am only now recovering from what developed into a raging, full-fledged cold that endured the entire Christmas weekend.

Last Thursday night, Miguel and I joined Nichole, Luis, and his parents to see a play -- called Tempodyssey (which sucked royally, BTW) -- in downtown DC. Afterwards, N & L had to escort the parents home to an early bedtime, but I took M. out for imbibements at our favorite DC bar -- Saint Ex, where he officially turned 40.

Here he is climbing the stairs from the downstairs bar after a few beers...

Happy 40th!!!

The next day (Friday), I surprised him with this little cake...

And numerous candles to extinguish...

We also tried out a new Thai restaurant for his birthday lunch and while waiting for our food, we took photos that we thought might be worthy of CD cover art...

Here was my attempt at artsiness:

And Miguel's:

I think I win.

Anyway, lots more has happened, of course, such as JM's annual Christmas party Saturday night, Christmas Eve with M's brother, and Christmas at my mom's house all day yesterday, but I'll talk about all of that in my next blog entry or this will be a mile long.

I'm off to the elliptical now to burn off the 1,482 Christmas cookies I ate over the last three days... later!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Latest Comings and Goings

I think I'm in the midst of catching a cold. So far, I've fended it off pretty well, thanks to Airborne and Zicam, but I can still feel it in the recesses of my respiratory system... blaaah!

It probably didn't help that I had four very full glasses of wine at my friend Jen's house last night, which accompanied homemade grilled cheese and tomato soup. We had a great time imbibing, snacking, and catching up on life's events. She's headed out to Florida on Friday for two weeks with her husband and each of their families... so last night was my only chance to see her while I'm home. She's one of my oldest friends from college and also part of the Shady Nook dinner crew!

Here we are at my going away party in August 2005:

As for other events, Miguel is picking me up today so we can go to a church organ recital in Alexandria at noon. As has been stated in the past... I love organ music (yes... I am a closeted nerd!!!) so it should be a lovely way to spend an hour or two today. Then I have to finish up some last minute Christmas shopping.

My mom took the day off of work yesterday, and we tooled around town doing errands, shopping for Christmas dinner, and just having fun. Here she is with me last Saturday, in her bartending tux (hahahaha!) before she headed out to a holiday party at which she was serving drinks and h'ors d'oerves...

The mini-tux cracks me up! I'm also not sure why she's latched onto the tree top here, but I guess it was part of our Christmas-y pose.

This picture is also clear evidence that my natural hair color is absolute shite. Ugggh, who knew that a person could look so washed out from paper bag brown hair? Not to mention I think I have plucked out at least 60 grey hairs in the past month now that everything has been revealed in its true natural form. I must stop doing this.

Bring me the dye! NOW!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dinner Party at N & L's

I have a little bit of catching up to do on what I've been up to since I've been home...

Aside from Christmas tree shopping and decorating last weekend, Miguel and I went to a dinner party at Luis and Nichole's house on Saturday night. Our other friends, Sonja and Marco, were visiting from NYC for the weekend -- so Nichole made a big lasagna meal for all of us, and we hung out together all evening.

Since Miguel is turning 40 this Friday (gasp!), and Marco & Sonja's son, Noah, turned one last month, Nichole planned a joint birthday celebration for them...

Here are the birthday boys...

Young and old!

Here was their cake (en Espanol)...

... a tasty pumpkin cheesecake. Yum.

I think Miguel did most of the work here...

... but then again, he had more candles.

Here's Sonja helping Noah open his gift (stuffed penguin bowling)...

... with a very preggers Nichole in the background.
Poor little Noah has excema from the cold weather (wind/rain) that chaps his skin.

Here's Noah's dad, Marco...

... he's from Mexico City like Luis.

And here's his Jack Russell Terrier, Porkchop, on the left...

... with N&L's Australian Sheperd, Raku, on the right.

They were locked out in the sun room, dying to get in and eat our dinner scraps!!! Too bad it didn't happen... Look at how desperate the two of them look.

After dinner and cake we spent a good amount of time lounging on the couch in the living room helping Luis and Nichole pick out names for their daughter, who will be born in February. Their top pick so far is Mia, which I think is super cute! They pretty much rejected all of our suggestions, such as "Peggy" from Miguel, which rhymes with their last name...

The evening ended with Luis snoring loudly on the sofa, Nichole getting kicked by the baby, Sonja and Marco conking out in their seats, Miguel drowsing in and out of food coma, and me playing alone with Amos the cat. All in all a lovely evening!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Home for Christmas

Well, I made it in one piece to DC!!

I got in an hour late last Friday evening due to some sort of cargo complications in Minneapolis (during which we sat on the tarmac for 60 full minutes wondering if we were ever going to take off)...

Sitting, sitting, sitting, sitting...

...but thankfully we arrived safely, and I got to my mom's house that night around midnight.

I spent Saturday morning lounging around with my mom and then running errands. She needed to pick up a birthday gift for my niece Isabella, and I insisted that we purchase a Christmas tree this year.

See, we had a fake tree (named "Scotty") for many years, which my parents bought the first year they were married. However, about 10 years ago, Scotty suffered an unfortunate death when his wooden support post finally cracked in half under the weight of our ornaments. He made a splintering sound, keeled over suddenly, smashed to the carpeted floor, and was declared DOA. It was a sad day indeed.

Since then, Scotty has remained unreplaced. My mother believed that decorating her living room's silk ficus trees was enough. She thought it was whimsical and cute to put our ornaments on these spindly little leafy home decorations...

Not exactly the image of Christmas...

I thought it was clever at first, but it just never felt quite right. So this year, I said enough was enough and demanded that we finally replace Scotty with another conical, traditionally shaped tree. And let's get this straight... we are strictly fake tree people.

Unfortunately, every single store we went to was sold out of artificial trees! And we also wanted a cute little 3' type of tree... not some enormous ceiling scraper. After driving all over strip mall hell for at least an hour in pursuit of our little pine, we finally... finally... found him in none other than CVS, sitting atop the Coke coolers in the back.

The whole scenario reminded me a bit of Charlie Brown's Christmas...

... the sad little reject that no one else wanted.

However, we spent Sunday morning decorating him...

... and oh, what a beauty!