New Year’s Eve 2012

“So here’s to 2012 and all of the inevitable ups and downs it brings! I’ll make sure to write about all of them.”
12/31/11 post

It’s the last day of 2012 and I couldn’t be happier. Well, I guess I could be happier if I wasn’t sick and sitting at home tonight rather than at the New Year’s Eve party I was invited to, but there’s nothing that can be done about that. Even though I was looking forward to socializing tonight (especially after doing a good imitation of a slug since I got back from Tallahassee) I wasn’t about to risk inflecting anyone else. I still feel pretty gross. At this rate I’ll have to take Wednesday off from work because I won’t be well enough to be around people by then. But anyway, so far on this last day of 2012 I’ve only managed to return some shoes at the mall, take down and put away my Christmas decorations, and watch a ridiculous amount of television. Tonight I’ll be ringing in the new year watching movies (and maybe Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve if I can stay awake – I fell asleep really early last night because I was feeling so rotten) on my awesome new flat screen TV. Or watching more episodes of “Doctor Who” on my iPad. It’s a toss up. It isn’t the most glamorous way to bid farewell to 2012 – heaven knows I’d rather be wearing a party dress and laughing with friends – but one way or another I’m glad to see this year end. Regarding the quote from my last post of 2011, I haven’t documented all of the ups and downs of 2012 yet, but I will in due time. Things have been happening in the last few months that I’ve kept somewhat under wraps, but eventually I’ll be able to write the truth about all of it. But not yet. Happy New Year to my loyal readers. I’m looking forward to 2013 more than you know.

“New Year’s Eve” Eve

I think my cold is both better and worse today. My sinuses hurt when I lie down so I didn’t sleep very well last night, but I think my congestion is starting to clear up despite my sleep deprivation so that’s a good sign. I can still barely breathe out of my nose and I feel like I’m going to sneeze all the time, but it’s not too bad. I originally planned to stay home today and try to recover, but this is the kind of illness that seems even worse when I’m sitting around doing nothing. So after watching a couple of episodes of “Doctor Who” on my iPad (I admit it, I’m in love with this show. I’m up to the beginning of season 4 now.), I got out of bed, got dressed, and went out for a while to get my mind off my cold. The first place I headed was The Block at Orange to do a little shopping. Usually I’m not much of a shopper, but I had unusually good luck today which is good news because my wardrobe needs some serious help. I’m not sure if “help” is the right word for what I bought today, though. I keep wondering if my fashion sense is improving or regressing recently because I’ve been buying a lot of cardigans and blazers for work, but also tank tops and hoodies (mostly for outside work, but there are exceptions). It’s like I can’t decide how old I want to look. The first stop I made was the Converse outlet for a new pair of gray All Stars. My old pair was in sad shape so I had to get rid of them. Luckily there was a 30% off sale so I didn’t spend as much as I expected. Then I went to the Aeropostale store for a gray lace hoodie that I’ve had my eye on for about a third of the original price. Are you seeing a theme here? To continue the trend I picked up a couple of new cardigans (orange and navy blue, perfect for a die hard Gator fan like me) at Ann Taylor Loft for half price, and finally I got two pairs of jeans at the Levi’s outlet for $25 each. I came home with more stuff than I usually buy in five shopping trips and I didn’t spend very much! Quite a stroke of luck, but I was exhausted when I left due to my cold. On my way home from shopping I picked up my new awesome flat screen TV at Best Buy. It didn’t take long to set up once I got home and right now I’m using it to watch some Disney movies I recorded on ABC Family while I was in Florida. There are quite a few of the animated movies that I don’t own on DVD so I made sure to DVR them when they were on earlier this week. I already watched “Pocahontas” (which was one of Disney’s weaker offerings) and I’ve got “Mulan” (one of my favorites) in the queue, but right now I’m in the middle of “Hercules” (which is better than I remember). I definitely love the music. This bit in particular rang true with me today.

I am on my way, I can go the distance
I don’t care how far, somehow I’ll be strong
I know every mile will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to find where I belong

That’s a mantra I need to keep in mind each day. Besides my disgusting cold I’m feeling pretty good today and I have a lot of hope for the future. 2012 is ending in a way I never expected, but I have every reason to believe that 2013 is going to better than I could have ever imagined.

I’m sick

Well, I’m back on the West Coast which makes me very happy, but I have a cold. Don’t you just love coming home from a trip sick? I guess it’s better than being sick while you’re out of town, but I had big plans for these last four days of my holiday break! I may have to re-prioritize my to do list so that I still accomplish some things I’ve been wanting to do, but also stay home and rest as much as possible. I want to be completely well before I have to go back to work (and also back to my regular spinning classes) on Wednesday. So I stayed home almost the entire day (which was fairly appropriate considering it rained all morning), but I still tried to make the most of my time. I spent the morning unpacking my suitcase (in my pajamas!) and organizing the messes I made just before I left for Tallahassee. Unpacking was more complicated than after a typical business trip because there were lots of random things like garlic powder, a bag of quarters, kitchen utensils, and kid’s books in my suitcase with the usual clothes and toiletries. I also had a bunch of new clothes and makeup that my mom bought for me. I love shopping with her! (That reminds me that I should have gotten some more hangers at Target this afternoon, but I forgot.) This afternoon when I got hungry I ventured out of the house to pick up a few things at Target and to grab a sandwich from Jersey Mike’s. Then I came back home and crashed on the couch to catch up on some of the shows that have been piling up in my DVR over the past few weeks. I should have picked up my new TV at Best Buy today, but by the time I left Target I was ready to go home. I’ll go get it and set it up tomorrow, assuming I feel better. After a few hours I got tired of sitting around feeling sorry for myself so I went to the movies to see “Breaking Dawn Part 2.” It was really stupid, even cringe inducing, but luckily it was the last movie in the Twilight saga so I won’t be obliged to see any more. At least it got me out of the house for a while. The theater was packed for a movie that’s been out for over a month (because it was Saturday night, I guess?), but fortunately there was an empty seat next to me so I was able to sneeze in that direction rather than on someone else. Stupid cold. I only sneezed twice during the movie despite my sinuses feeling tickly the whole time, but then of course I sneezed four times in a row while on the freeway driving home. That’s not exactly safe, but what was I supposed to do? I think my cold might be getting worse. Ugh. Time for me to go to bed and try to sleep it off.

From DFW

I’m sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for my flight to Los Angeles. It doesn’t leave for an hour and a half so I have some time to kill. It’s too bad that I can’t eat while I’m traveling because it looks like DFW has some good food options! At least I was able to get my iPhone and laptop connected to some free wifi this time. It certainly makes the time between flights go by faster. Today was my last day in Tallahassee so of course we spent the morning and afternoon doing all of the things we had put off during the first five days of my trip. We picked up some jeans I was having hemmed, my mom bought me some makeup at Dillard’s, I looked for some new Gator apparel at Marshalls, and my dad helped me pick out a television at Best Buy (which I purchased with some Christmas money). I didn’t buy the TV in Tallahassee, obviously, but I ordered it online and I’ll pick it up at a local store tomorrow morning when I’m back in LA. It’s a 32″ Samsung LED that’s going to be great with the Blu-ray player I bought on Black Friday (which I ordered while I was in San Francisco visiting my brother and picked up the Sunday after Thanksgiving when I got back to LA). I have four days before I have to go back to work on January 2nd and I might spend a majority of that time enjoying my new TV! It’s going to be especially nice to watch the Sugar Bowl (Florida vs. Louisville) on the 2nd. It might be a one-sided game (if the Gators don’t win I’ll be surprised, but I’m still only cautiously optimistic), but it’ll be pretty much the last college football game I’ll watch until next fall so there’s no way I’m going to miss it. My trip to Tallahassee was lots of fun. I’ll have to write more about it before I go back to work on Wednesday. We did a lot of cooking (including my famous lasagna for Christmas Day lunch), a lot of shopping, and a lot of visiting with family and friends. It was nice. I can’t believe there are only three days of 2012 left. I’m definitely not going to be sorry to see this year end, but I’m in a better place right now that I was a couple of months ago so I’m not quite ready to close the door on 2012. I’m going to try to spend these next three days wrapping up some loose ends and accomplishing a few things so I can start 2013 with a clean(er) slate. Unfortunately I caught a cold a couple of days ago so I’m not feeling 100%. Luckily I have some time to rest before going back to work on Wednesday. I’m getting in to Los Angeles very late tonight so I expect I’ll only have enough energy to crawl into bed when I get home. At least I got a chance to update my webpage while sitting here at DFW! I have a lot of stuff I want to write about before the end of the year so I will probably get started on that while I’m en route to LAX. These next four days are going to go by fast and I’ll have to go back to work before I know it. I’m going to try and enjoy every minute.

Chocolate chip cookies #21

Chocolate chip cookies #21: Based on Food.com’s Maple White Chocolate Chip Cookies. Baked on 11/20/12.

Happy Boxing Day! Did everyone have a good Christmas? Good. I’ll write about mine soon, but today I’m going to turn back the clock about a month and talk about a chocolate chip cookie recipe I tried for Thanksgiving. I wish I had a photo of the dessert spread in San Francisco that I contributed to because it was beautiful, but I was so exhausted after my early morning flight on Thanksgiving Day that I opted to go to bed shortly after dinner. I wrote a post earlier this month about my Thanksgiving baking, but I didn’t go into much detail about the recipes I used. Well, this was my second attempt at maple chocolate chip cookies. This batch had maple syrup in the batter rather than maple extract and I wanted to see what difference it would make. The cookies turned out quite well and they were very popular with my brother and his friends, but I didn’t like them quite as much as the first version (chocolate chip cookie recipe #20). Still, they were pretty good so I might try combining the two recipes to make the ultimate maple chocolate chip cookie one of these days!

More travel ramblings

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Unfortunately I’m going to bore you with some more of my in flight and airport ramblings because I haven’t had time to write up anything else today. I’ll write more about my busy Christmas Eve with my family another day. Until then enjoy more of my stream of consciousness musings.

I did indeed fall asleep before my flight to Dallas took off. Apparently the headrests on this plane are very conducive to sleep for me because I was out for almost two hours! But like I said, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first installment “The Hobbit,” but I will give it another chance this week. When the movie was over Dan and I went to dinner at Umami Burger in Hermosa Beach. A truffle burger, sweet potato fries, and a Mexican Coke really hit the spot. My burger was a little rarer that I would have liked, but Dan was kind enough to finish it off for me. When I got home I had to buckle down and pack for my trip. The first thing I had to do was cut up the two pans of cookies I’d made earlier in the day. I hope they turned out OK because I was so stuffed from dinner that I didn’t sample either batch to make sure I hadn’t screwed either of them up somehow. I’m usually pretty good at following a recipe, at least as far as checking to make sure I added all of the necessary ingredients before baking, but maybe not about everything. I can’t say I’m all that good at beating the butter and sugar for the full three minutes to make sure it is “light and fluffy.” I’m not the most patient cook. I’ll make sure to try the cookies before I serve them to my friends tomorrow. I’m having a bunch of my high school friends over to my parent’s house tomorrow night for dessert and catching up. (Side note: My seat on this flight is comfortable enough given the fact that I slept for almost 2 hours, but the overhead compartment blocks about 20% of the screen on the televisions. Not that I wanted to watch “Frankenweenie,” but I would have been very disappointed if they had showed something I really wanted to see and the upper right hand corner was blocked from my view. But I digress.) I got all of the cookies cut up and packed in a Tupperware to go in my suitcase while watching “A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie” that I recorded earlier this week. I must have three pounds of cookies to take to Tallahassee! I really hope they taste OK. I definitely overcooked the chocolate chip cookie bars a little and the consistency wasn’t what I expected when I was cutting them up. I’ll let you know how they turned out after tomorrow. I got my suitcase packed pretty quickly last night, but not quickly enough to get a full night’s sleep before I had to get up at 2:30 AM to get ready to go to the airport. I’m definitely feeling better after a little nap, but I know I’ll be exhausted tonight. I haven’t spent Christmas in Tallahassee since 2005. I remember going to a party that year and meeting Danny and Meghan’s first baby girl and now they have three daughters! The years go by so fast. Time for my flight to land so I’ll pick this up again later.

I just got to the gate where my flight to Tallahassee is supposed to leave, but I have two hours until it’s scheduled to take off. And since DFW doesn’t seem to have free wifi I might get up again in a few minutes and walk around for a while. I saw a Food Network (I typed “Foot Network” the first time!) magazine with lots of Christmas cookies on the cover when I was at LAX, but besides that there wasn’t an extensive selection of cooking magazines there. I was hoping to check out Paula Deen and maybe Cooking Light as well. I don’t think I’ve been to DFW since Thanksgiving 2007 when I had the stomach flu. I was already sick when we arrived here on that trip so I don’t remember anything at all about the airport (except that the bathroom wasn’t nearly close enough to our arrival gate). I didn’t realize this airport was so spread out. My flight from LAX arrived at the C terminal, but my connection to Tallahassee is leaving out of the B terminal so I had to hop on the Skylink train to get over here. And it was quite a long ride! It looks like DFW is under significant construction so it might not look anything like it did five years ago. (It seems that not only is there no wifi service here, but my AT&T cell service is bad too. I can’t seem to send a text despite my phone telling me that I have service. I hate when that happens.) I admit that this airport looks very polished and new. One of my co-workers told me that there are a lot of good food options here, but I just can’t eat when I’m flying. As much as my stomach is growling, it’s just not worth risking a horrible stomach ache to alleviate my hunger. As a rule of thumb I probably shouldn’t eat anything on a day that I fly because hunger is much better than indigestion, but I rarely follow that rule absolutely. I’ll probably grab something to eat with my mom when I arrive in Tallahassee, but I need to remember to make it something small. Not only do I not need any extra calories on a day that I’m spending almost all of my time sitting down, but my stomach will thank me if I moderate. Maybe I can talk her into picking up a cherry Coke at Sonic. OK, I’m going to go do some walking. Not only do I want to look for that cooking magazine, but I’m tired of sitting down!

Over the river and through the woods

Most of this post was written while waiting to board my flight from LAX to DFW today and the rest was written after I got on the plane but before takeoff. Just another random stream-of-consciousness offering from yours truly!

Here I am, sitting at the airport again. The American Airlines terminal is all done up with Christmas trees everywhere which was a bit of a surprise to me even though it is just three days until Christmas. That made me realize that I haven’t flown anywhere for Christmas in years. Dan and I flew to New Zealand on 12/21/08 and spent Christmas there, but that was four years ago. Right now there are Christmas songs playing on the sound system at LAX. Since I haven’t been able to get into the Christmas spirit this year due to a variety of factors I haven’t been listening to the 24/7 Christmas stations this holiday season. I know I’ll regret missing the music when it’s gone, but I just wasn’t in the right mindset for it this year. I do have a few Christmas songs on my iPod, but not that many. I probably need to bulk up my holiday playlist before I board my first flight. I have no idea if there will be a movie shown on the way to Dallas. I should check that on the American Airlines website since LAX finally has free wifi. It’s really nice. I know I there won’t be a movie on my flight from Dallas to Tallahassee because the plane is very small. I’m not sure which model, but it just has one seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other side. Fortunately I like flying in small planes. I’ll definitely have to update the video library on my iPhone before I get on that flight because I’ll be solely responsible for my own entertainment. I decided not to bring my iPad with me on this trip because I didn’t want three different electronic devices on my carry-on bag (the iPad would have been in addition to my laptop that I’m using right now and my Kindle which I plan to use on board if I can stay awake). But when I was in the security line this morning I found out that you no longer have to take Kindles and iPads out of your carry-on bag when putting them through the x-ray machine. That would have been nice to know ahead of time. I remember the first time I got chastised for not putting my Kindle in a separate bin when going through security. Since then I’ve usually just been packing it in my suitcase (wrapped up in t-shirts for cushioning) to avoid the hassle of another electronic device that has to be scanned separately (although my laptop is small enough that I’ve been able to get away with putting it and the Kindle in a bin together). I’ve been neglecting my reading lately in favor of watching episodes of “Doctor Who” on Netflix Instant on my iPad, but I have several books on my Kindle that I’m looking forward to reading. While they aren’t exactly the most intellectual fare I’m sure reading them would be more beneficial to my brain that watching television. (Although I love “Doctor Who.”) So I packed my Kindle in my carry-on today rather than my suitcase in the hope that I’ll be alert enough to do some reading on the plane. I wouldn’t be surprised if I fall asleep before the plane takes off, though. I only slept three hours last night and I was so out of it when my alarm went off at 2:30 AM that I almost dismissed it as a mistake and went back to sleep. Luckily about ten seconds later I remembered why it was set so early and was able to drag myself out of bed. Yesterday was extremely busy for me for several reasons. On Thursday night I was supposed to bake two batches of cookies to take to Tallahassee with me, but I had a little mishap that prevented it. I was browning the butter for my favorite chocolate chip cookies and I think I cooked it just a little bit too long because when I poured it into the bowl with the brown sugar the mixture smelled burnt. So instead of risking bad cookies (and potentially wasting eggs, flour, and chocolate chips) I just threw the butter/sugar concoction into the trash and decided to start over the next day. This was a problem not only because it was my last full day in town, but also because my calendar was already really packed. The first thing I did that morning was force myself to get out of bed at 5:15 AM and go to my last spinning class of the year. I was still really tired when my alarm went off, but I would have been mad at myself if I had missed it due to laziness. I went to spinning classes all five days this week which was a little intense, but I’m glad I did it. As is usually the case, the week before Christmas has been characterized by good food and lots of it. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of monitoring my intake and avoiding sweets except for the potluck on Tuesday and the Ruby’s outing on Wednesday. And I wasn’t able to turn down a piece of chocolate when one of my co-workers walked around with a box personally offering goodies to each person on Thursday morning. But when someone delivered a huge slice of chocolate peppermint cake to me later that day I was able to successfully pawn it off on someone else. The cake sure looked good, but I was glad to avoid the calories. But back to my explanation of yesterday. I went to work after my spinning class, but I was already so stressed about getting everything done in preparation for my trip to Tallahassee that I decided to leave early. I felt a little guilty leaving before lunch on the last day of the year, but my boss took the day off so it wasn’t really a big deal. I rushed home, threw a load of laundry in the wash, and started baking cookies. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to whip up two batches of cookies (chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodle blondies), but I guess I’ve had so much practice recently that I’ve developed muscle memory. I had left the butter out on the counter to soften overnight, but it’s been so cold in Los Angeles recently (lows in the upper 30s) that it didn’t actually get soft enough. I’ve found that setting a bowl of butter on top of the stove while the oven is heating up works wonders. Well, that and putting the bowl in direct sunlight! I had to brown the butter for the chocolate chip cookies in a saucepan but I was much more careful this time around after burning it the night before. I didn’t quite let the butter get as brown as I could have, but I didn’t want to ruin it again. The two pans of cookies were out of the oven and cooling on the counter in plenty of time for me to leave the house for my afternoon engagement. Dan and I went to see “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” yesterday afternoon and I was really looking forward to it. I guess I’ve been looking forward to it for years now and it’s finally here! Dan really liked the movie, but I wasn’t as big of a fan. I still enjoyed it, but I guess it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. I’ll still go see it again with my dad when I’m in Tallahassee. Dan and I didn’t see the movie in 3D or the new High Frame Rate (HFR) format so I think my dad and I will have to do that to see if it increases the enjoyment for the film. It was so strange seeing Hobbiton on the big screen again. Even though it was more than five years ago it seems like just yesterday I was standing on the hill in front of Bag End, looking out over the farm where Hobbiton was filmed. I felt like I could step into the screen and be right back in Matamata. I wonder if that feeling will be even stronger with the movie in 3D? I guess I’ll find out. In the past my family used to go to the movies on Christmas Day so hopefully my dad and I will go see “The Hobbit” again on Tuesday.