Christmas 2017 comes to an end

Remember how last year my Christmas decorations didn’t get put away until nearly five months after December 25th? The tree was no longer trimmed that whole time, and all of my holidays trinkets had been consolidated on my kitchen table, but they didn’t get put into their usual storage space until May 19th. (I think I took the wreath off my front door around Valentine’s Day.) It was a very belated end of the season. In the spring I figured if I crossed the six-month mark post-Christmas that I might as well just leave the tree up until the holidays rolled around again. Luckily I didn’t quite reach that threshold. On May 19th I finally put my nativity, figurines, lights, ornaments, and tree back in the closet where they could wait until they were seasonally appropriate again.

Christmas 2017 was a little less festive. I did manage to put my Christmas tree up shortly after Thanksgiving, but December was such a mess that I didn’t really get any farther. As my trip to Florida quickly approached I came to the realization that my tree just wasn’t going to get decorated this year. I still got to enjoy the lights (thanks to a pre-lit tree) in my living room every day, but with a busy schedule and some health problems I didn’t have the time or energy to trim it. The photo above shows the single solitary ornament that make it onto my 2017 Christmas tree. It was a perfect gift from one of my running buddies so I hung it up immediately. It had the benefit of not having to get unpacked first. Except for pulling out my wreath, I only cracked open my holiday storage closet to retrieve the Christmas cards bought on sale last year for future use. I ended up sending out a grand total of 62 cards this year, but that’s another story. After getting the flu on New Year’s Eve I spent a lot of time at home recovering, and during that time I managed to gather enough strength to take down my tree and put it back into storage by January 12th. I certainly didn’t break any speed records, but at least it got done while the weather is still cold (at least by LA standards). I missed out on a lot of traditions this holiday season and I’m very sorry to leave my favorite time of year behind. But all I can do right now is move forward. I know that eventually I will be healthy again, and that the 2018 holidays will probably be here before I know it. It just won’t be quite soon enough for me.

Let the Christmas season begin (NaBloPoMo day 30)

Tomorrow is December 1st. I can’t believe the final month of the year is already here. Why does time seem to accelerate starting in October? It’s infuriating. But my love of the holiday season is all the more reason to try to slow down and enjoy every moment of it while it lasts. Tomorrow night is the Seal Beach Christmas parade and I’m planning to watch with some friends. Luckily I only have to walk one block from my house to the parade route on Main Street so it’s one of my most convenient holiday traditions. While there are folks in the community who think that the parade is being held too early this year (they always find something silly to complain about), I think it’s the perfect way to kick off December. My weekend is going to be filled with Christmas activities and other such entertainment so it might as well start with a parade! Last weekend I put up my Christmas tree, after Thanksgiving of course, but it doesn’t have any ornaments on it yet. I’ll try to squeeze some tree trimming into my unusually busy schedule over the next few days. Tonight I was able to get a dozen Christmas cards ready to mail. Like last year I have a list of recipients a mile long so I’d like to get them done quickly otherwise I’ll be scrambling to get them sent before I leave for Florida on the 22nd. As I was getting the first cards ready to go today I realized that I only have Star Trek stamps in the house. Couple that with the fact that some of my Christmas cards are Star Wars themed and I’m worried that I’ll get arrested by the nerd police for mixing franchises! I’ll have to swing by the post office and get some holiday stamps tomorrow so that I can mail a couple more batches of cards over the weekend.

And thus ends NaBloPoMo 2017. I think I was fairly successful this year except for that one night where WordPress didn’t cooperate. If I can manage it I’ll try to keep posting every day for the rest of the year. This is always a tall order as the demands on my time increase during the holiday season, but I feel like writing about all of my celebrations makes them even more enjoyable. Happy December, everyone!

NaBloPoMo day 27

I have four days left of my NaBloPoMo challenge and I’m running out of steam. It doesn’t help that today was the first day back at work after Thanksgiving and it was a long one. And it was a Monday so that meant a lot of meetings and very little productivity. I had to stay late to actually accomplish anything before I left. The only reason I have more than 5 minutes to sit down and write anything today is because my gym is still closed for the holiday, otherwise I’d have spent one of my few free hours there rather than at home. As it is I skipped exercise altogether. At the moment I’m curled up under a blanket on my couch trying to stay awake and put enough coherent sentences together to feel like they are worthy of being published as my daily post. But so far there is very little substance and I don’t know where to turn for inspiration. My brain just isn’t working any more and I can’t wait to take a shower and go to sleep. I’ve actually been looking forward to watching an episode of the second season of “Stranger Things” all day, but I am certain I couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to watch more than a few minutes. So I’m going to end this pathetic little paragraph and get ready for bed as quickly as I can. Hopefully I’ll have the time and energy to write something better tomorrow!

Can I buy stock in Pyrex? (NaBloPoMo day 24)

It’s Black Friday, but I didn’t do much to contribute to the growth of the economy today. After realizing that I’ve already spent a lot of money this month I decided to avoid taxing my credit card on the biggest shopping day of the year. Now that the day is almost over I can say that I was fairly successful. Besides the breakfast I bought at McDonald’s this morning, the only other item I purchased was a plastic lid for one of my Corningware casserole dishes. Exciting, huh? With all the cooking I’ve been doing this fall I’ve discovered that I don’t own enough containers to refrigerate and freeze all of the leftovers for future consumption. It didn’t help that until recently I didn’t have any plastic lids for my Corningware casserole dishes at all, and the glass lids weren’t satisfactory for freezing food. It’s actually been quite an ordeal trying to find a plastic lid for my larger Corningware dish and I had to return two I ordered from Amazon on separate occasions because they weren’t the right size, in spite of their online descriptions. Very frustrating. So today I broke down and ordered a lid directly from the Corningware website. Let’s hope the third time’s the charm!

Regarding Pyrex, which I referenced in the title of this post, I have another story to tell. Late on Tuesday night I reluctantly headed to Target to do some last-minute shopping for Thanksgiving necessities. I hated going anywhere near a store that close to Turkey Day, but it was sadly unavoidable. I had prepared two batches of my homemade cranberry sauce that afternoon in preparation for the Thursday feast, but afterwards I realized that all of my Pyrex smelled like chili! Apparently my leftovers have infused the containers with a distinctive smell that was decidedly incompatible with the cranberry sauce. So as I was picking up a few things at Target I added four new Pyrex dishes in my basket – two for cranberry sauce and two for pumpkin dip (as shown above). A couple of them were even Christmas-themed! Very festive. This is in addition to the two Halloween-themed containers I bought in October while I was cooking up a storm for Whole30. All told I have acquired six new Pyrex containers in the last two months and I had limited kitchen cabinet space to begin with. As one of my co-workers pointed out, I should have bought stock in Pyrex beforehand! I guess I’ll have to keep cooking massive amounts of food throughout the holiday season to justify my purchases!

Thanksgiving prep begins (NaBloBoMo day 21)

Once again it’s late and I have very little time to write anything. I have a feeling that’s going to be the theme for the rest of the week. The holidays are always crazy – I’m not sure why I expected anything different this year! I left work at 6 PM today with a very long list of things I needed to do, but I fell asleep on my couch instead. I was so stressed out about getting everything done before Thanksgiving that all I wanted was to shut down and rest. So I decided not to go for my nightly run and forgot about all of my obligations for a little while. Eventually I got up off the couch, went to Target to buy that extra pie dish that I needed, and made two batches of cranberry sauce in preparation for Thursday (one with diced apple and pear and one without). I regret skipping my run, but my legs could certainly use a rest day after an intense lower body day at boot camp last night. I’ll make up for it this weekend. Right now I need to start thinking about going to bed so I can tackle one last day of work before Thanksgiving, but first I need to wash a dink full of dishes so they aren’t waiting for me when I get home tomorrow night. ‘Tis the season to be sleep deprived!

Is NaBloPoMo dead? (NaBloPoMo day 14)

Through no fault of my own this entry was not published on Tuesday, November 14th as planned. WordPress crashed as I was writing this very short and uninspiring post late last night and I was unwilling to stay up and to wait until it was working again. (Have I mentioned how much I hate WordPress? I’ve had so many problems with it. But that’s a story for another day.) So I wrapped up the last few sentences of this brief post on Wednesday and backdated it to November 14th. I guess this is technically a NaBloPoMo fail, but that’s OK. Let’s just hope that WordPress cooperates for the rest of the month!

When I got home from the gym tonight I had no idea what I was going to write about in today’s post. I have a few drafts in work, but I didn’t have the time or energy required to sufficiently prepare them for publication tonight. So instead I went online and looked for the latest NaBloPoMo writing prompts to see if there was one I could use to compose a quick paragraph to satisfy my post-a-day requirement this month. It wasn’t the most impressive plan, but it was better than missing a day. I even considered being supremely lazy and simply sharing a picture, but that’s more of a Wordless Wednesday thing. Unfortunately a Google search didn’t immediately turn up the NaBloPoMo homepage, which used to be hosted on Blogher. So I did a little more digging, and it looks like NaBloPoMo is defunct! I couldn’t find an obvious explanation so I just assume it quietly went away without any fanfare. This was a somewhat sad revelation considering how many Novembers I’ve been attempting to update my webpage every day to satisfy the NaBloPoMo requirement. I think I started back in 2010 and it was a challenge that I was always glad I at least attempted, whether or not I succeeded. And that now the official event is dead I need to figure out what I want to do in the future. Something to think about as I wrap up this month’s posts!

Hamilton tickets? (NaBloPoMo day 13)

The day before I left for Orlando I got an email from my credit card company stating that there had been some unusual activity on my account. The email encouraged me to give them a call. Now let’s remember that this was Halloween so I was not only incredibly busy with the chili cook-off at work, but also trying to get some actual work done before my vacation, so I didn’t have a lot of time to make phone calls. Plus, I initially thought the email was a scam so there was no way I was going to call the number provided without doing some research. When I had a free minute I logged on to my credit card account to see if I could recognize anything strange. It took about 5 seconds for me to realize that the “scam” in this situation was not the email, but the recent $9600 charge on my card! Apparently, someone had gotten a hold of my number and tried to charge $9600 to Ticketmaster. Holy cow! I am grateful to the credit card company for identifying that this was out of character for my account and flagging it immediately. The downside was that my card had to be cancelled the day before I went to Orlando. Not the most convenient scenario, but I got along just fine with only my debit card while I was gone. I just wasn’t earning Hilton Honors points on all of my Disney World purchases. The horror! When I shared this story in one of my Facebook groups a good friend made a hilarious joke (see the photo above) that still makes me laugh two weeks later. I sympathize with any thief who was so desperate to get a ticket for “Hamilton” that he or she needed a stolen credit card number. I just wish it wasn’t mine!

2017 Resolution #2 revisited (NaBloPoMo day 12)

“I always joke that my entire paycheck goes directly to the Walt Disney Corporation. And with my Disneyland/Disney World annual pass, race registrations, and a couple of trips to Orlando per year it’s not that far from the truth.”
1/26/17 webpage post

Back in January, after the shock of getting my credit card bill from the holidays and a trip to Orlando, I resolved to be more frugal in 2017. About ten months have passed since then and I have to start this resolution revisit by confessing that I haven’t exactly succeeded in being more frugal this year with regards to Disney-related purchases. I’ve renewed my Premier Annual Pass which gives me unrestricted access to all Anaheim and Orlando Disney parks, gone to Disney World twice and run several races there, and participated in four multi-day race weekends at Disneyland. And all of that is on top of my usual visits to the Happiest Place on Earth that have nothing to do with running. These are expenses that, while technically frivolous, bring me a lot of joy. I get an immense sense of accomplishment out of conquering the Disney races (including the Avengers half marathon just this morning), plus I get to see the overwhelming excitement on my sweet goddaughter’s face when we watch Paint the Night or Fantasmic. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for any amount of money, but that doesn’t mean they were cheap! There’s some good news for 2018, though. Well, maybe not so much good news as really terrible news with an indirect upside.

On October 18th runDisney officially made an announcement that most of us in the running community had been expecting for a long time. All West Coast races were cancelled for 2018 and placed on an indefinite hiatus. This was not a huge surprise considering that back in March runDisney suddenly postponed registration for the Disneyland-based Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Weekend shortly before it was supposed to open. (I was one of the lucky few who had already signed up for the 5K using a link sent out to previous participants so I was even more bewildered.) And then they gave us not one word of explanation for the next six months. After this extended radio silence we all knew that the race wasn’t going to happen, but we were still incredibly annoyed at being kept in the dark for so long. When the announcement was finally made last month, current and future construction at the Disneyland Resort was blamed for the race interruption. There’s no guarantee that is the true reason for the hiatus, but we have no idea when or if the race weekends will actually return. So the bad news is that my favorite races have disappeared for at least a year (the Avengers races this weekend were their swan song), but the good news is that I’m going to save a lot of money. Not just on registration costs, but also hotel reservations, food, and merchandise. My bank account is certainly going to thank me, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. The bottom line is that I’ve failed miserably at this particular 2017 resolution, but things are looking up for 2018! Stay tuned for more next year.

NaBloPoMo day 11

It’s not even 7 PM and I am ready to go to sleep. It’s an incredibly thrilling Saturday night around here! Actually, this weekend is pretty exciting due to the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend, but the races cause my bedtimes to be much earlier than normal. So for that reason I’m not spending a lot of time on a webpage post today. Honestly, I tried to write something more substantial. but my brain just wasn’t cooperating. I have gotten up insanely early the last two mornings for the Spider-Man 5K and the Thor 10K so I’m already operating with a sleep deficit, and tomorrow morning is the Super Heroes half marathon. I’ll be setting my alarm for 3 AM again tonight which just sounds ridiculously early. Suddenly going to bed at 7 PM seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The half marathon tomorrow is going to be the last race at Disneyland for a long time (more on that later) so I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Fortunately the weather is much nicer here than it was in Orlando last weekend! The simplest way to make a runner happy is to give them good race weather. Tomorrow is going to be bittersweet. I’m really going to miss running at Disneyland, especially the Avengers races. Here’s hoping the half marathon goes smoothly!

2017 Resolution #4 (NaBloPoMo day 9)

New Year’s Resolution #4: Cook for myself again

I’ll bet you’re wondering, “What happened to resolution #3?” Nevermind about that for now. There’s something I need to do before I write about that one so I’ll get back to it later.

While searching for topics for NaBloPoMo (my daily goings on are not nearly interesting enough to warrant sharing with anyone), I came across a couple of draft posts about the New Year’s resolutions I made back in January. Given that ten months have passed since I gave any thought to my goals for the year, 2017 has obviously not been very productive as far as resolutions go. Fortunately, there’s still a little time to take action and also to take credit for some progress. Case in point, I had absolutely no plans to do Whole30 back in the beginning of the year when I wrote resolution #4 to cook for myself again. At that point I was still halfheartedly eating Nutrisystem meals and snacks, mostly because I was ambivalent about cancelling my monthly deliveries. The premade food was something that required little effort on my part, but I was getting burned out eating the same meals week in and week out. They were edible, but not tasty enough to keep me as a loyal consumer.

After nearly a year where I cooked almost nothing, I started preparing my meals again in September in anticipation for the beginning of Whole30. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. This cooking renaissance reminded me not only that I have to go to the grocery store at least every other day to keep up with all the produce required for a healthy diet, but also that it takes a lot of time to prepare three meals a day! The upside was that I enjoyed knowing that I was cooking from scratch and eating whole, healthy foods. I haven’t written a wrap-up post about my 30-day diet experience yet, but the bottom line is that I was happy with the results. I lost about 6 lbs and I am certain I was healthier at the end than I was at the beginning. Since October 30th my diet has gone downhill a bit, mostly due to my vacation, but I’m working on formulating a maintenance strategy going forward. Especially with the impending holiday season. It can derail even the best-laid plans. I still intend to cook most of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but I want to have some looser restrictions in regards to healthy carbs. I’ve learned that I need more than fruit and sweet potatoes to be able to run any significant distance, and I have a lot of long runs between now and the Dopey Challenge in January. In conclusion, Whole30 absolutely forced me, if unintentionally, to fulfill this New Year’s resolution that I made so many months ago. And since Whole30 is more focused on a lifestyle change rather than temporary dietary rules I think it will help me continue this beneficial trend into next year. Maybe it will even inspire a new resolution in 2018!