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Saturday, December 31, 2011

GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE, 2011!

That's right! See you later, sucker! Sayonara! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out! Not that I'm bitter, because I'm not. I'm just glad to be seeing the back end of 2011 and the beginning of a new year. Not that there weren't high points. There were. I'm sure there were. A whole 12 months, there had to be some good times, right? They just don't leap to mind the way the hard times do, ya know?

Ironically, 11 is (one of) my lucky number(s), so you'd think that this would have been, like, the best year ever, but it really wasn't. Look, no one kicked, everyone I love is healthy and reasonably happy, and despite my best efforts Ted has managed to keep us out of the poorhouse, so what the hell am I bitching about? Well, there were some lows. Ted and I had our first fight in front of the kids. I'm no mother of the year, as I imagine is obvious, but still. Also, I realized I have no friends in my town, despite having lived here for two years. It took a dead rodent on the floor of my living room to bring this fact home, which also sort of sucked. And I may or may not have had some sort of mid-life crisis which involved a lot of inappropriate texting and posting pictures of my cleavage on the Interwebs.


However. It wasn't all tears and dead vermin and boob shots. I started this site, which, in addition to bringing joy to thousands dozens of readers all over the tri-state area, provides me with an outlet for some of the crazy. I also acquired 7 clients, one of whom is not even related to me or one of my best friends but a real person! Who came to me! To hire me! I know. I can't believe it either. My "real" job is humming along. My kids are healthy. I'm madly in love with and married to the one person on earth who's willing to put up with me. And I've realized what I want from 2012, which is really half the battle in terms of goals. Once you know what you want, the hard part is done. Remember that.

So what's my New Year's Resolution? For years I had the same one: honesty - to stop lying. Not that I was ever some compulsive liar, weaving tall tales or telling massive whoppers, but I wanted to erase even the "white lies" from my life. You know, when you just can't motivate to meet a friend for plans so you say that something came up instead? Well, now I just tell the truth. Mostly. It took a few years, that one. Then two years ago I resolved to eat more risotto. It was far and away the best New Year's resolution EVER. And it worked! I DID eat more risotto! I don't even remember what last year's was, which is probably just as well. But for 2012, I have the perfect resolution:

SIMPLIFY

Let me explain. I'm tired of having too many clothes to fit in my closet, and yet nothing to wear. I'm tired of the kids having piles of toys that clutter up the house but never get played with. I'm tired of leaving all of the family's medical insurance paperwork until it piles up so high that I want to vomit at the thought of tackling it. I'm tired of ordering groceries only to find that I've bought too much of stuff that we already had, and left out what we needed. I could go on, but you get the point.


Don't worry, I'm not going all minimalist on you. I like stuff, and I like having a lot of it. I'm just tired of having too much of everything, if that makes any sense. I want to be more thoughtful about what I buy, more ruthless about what I get rid of, and more organized with day-to-day shit, both on the job(s) and in my home.



Wish me luck! I wish all of you lots of luck and love and laughter in 2012, and hope you have a great time tonight ringing it in. Happy New Year!

XOXOXO
ABC
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CHEERS!

Now, I will drink wine out of pretty much anything - pint glasses, coffee mugs, plastic cups, straight from the bottle... I am not a choosy gal. However, when it comes to champagne, I prefer to sip my bubbly from a flute. Made of glass. Don't get me wrong, I've never turned down a glass of champers, no matter what it was served in, and I never will. But if I have a choice in the matter, I like a fancy glass. So sue me. And since New Year's Eve is upon us, here are some of my favorite flutes.

I didn't register for china when I got married, as there are several sets in the family and I had actually already gotten my greedy paws on a beautiful pink flowered one that belonged to Ted's grandmother. But I did register for crystal, and I love our champagne flutes:


Ignore the dust. Mercy the Amazing Nanny has been on vacation for a week and a half and I am a rotten housekeeper. The glasses are from Tiffany & Co. and, when clean, are lovely. Tiffany also sells a pair of plain flutes:


This is my go-to gift when someone gets engaged because they come in a nice box and if you really like the couple you can also give them a good bottle of champagne to go with the glasses. Although the glasses themselves are a hefty $125, so you'd have to REALLY like the couple.

If you like a little more design with your drink, Kate Spade has some beautiful options. I've already mentioned how much I like these:


And they're sold as a pair for $60, making them a downright bargain, relatively speaking. These are sold singly:


And cost $40 each - also doable. But my absolute favorite glasses for champagne are none of the above. They come from Riedel, which is a stemware maker that wine snobs swear by. I don't know about all that, but these flutes from their Wine line are amazing:


You can't really tell, but the stems are sort of curved, like four super-slim stems stuck together. That's possibly the worst explanation ever of something I'm trying to make sound great, but whatever. They feel fancy to hold. I love them. They make the $30 Brut Rose I buy in bulk taste better. They make me look better while I'm drinking it. AND, at about $25 each from Wine Enthusiast, they are also the cheapest of the bunch, allowing you to buy more of what goes IN the glass. See? And Ted says I'm not financially practical.

I'll be back tomorrow with my resolutions for 2012 but in the meantime, put your champagne on ice and get ready to ring in a new year full of luck and love!

XOXOXO
ABC

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BEFORE AND AFTER: MY OFFICE

I posted a while ago about the fucking disaster that my office had become, hoping that the shame of public exposure would prompt me to clean it. Sadly, I am apparently immune to shame, as the mess sat there until I was forced to clear out the room for Christmas as it's where all the presents are kept and wrapped before "Santa" puts them under the tree. But even after all the scraps of paper and bits of tape and ribbon had been cleared away, it wasn't looking any too special. I needed inspiration. And it arrived in the mail in the form of a package from my wonderful, talented, beautiful, kind, and patient web designer, Alyssa Yuhas. It contained a gift, a print that I fell in love with and immediately wanted to frame and hang on the wall of my office where it would inspire me every day. So I did.

But hanging it up forced me to confront the fact that my office was still disgusting, and apparently wasn't going to clean itself. Ugh. But there was no way around it, so I got to work. What follows is the result, complete with before and after photos. Here's the view from the door before:


After:


Here's the rest of the room, before:


And after:


The TV wall and desk, before:


And after:


As for the parts that were too gross/blocked by crap to document for the "before" photos, here is some more "after.":

Windowsill, Bulletin Board I
Stacked Photos Waiting to be Hung, Storage Totes
CU Storage Totes (L.L. Bean, excellent for storing file folders)
Bulletin Board II
Bulletin Board III
First Painting I Ever Owned, Top of Pillows on Bed
And of course, the print that helped me get my fat ass into gear and clean up this dump in the first place:

Words to Live By
Thank you, Alyssa, for the lovely print and the kick in the ass that it provided. See, even I need a kick in the ass sometimes (shut up, Ted). And only by keeping my own shit in order can I continue to help my clients - leading by example, if you will. Who wants to barf? Everyone? OK, fine, but it's true.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Monday, December 26, 2011

HOLIDAY CARD HANGOVER

I love me some holiday cards. I torture my family by forcing them to take a photo for one every year, because, please, if there's no photo? Don't bother. I don't care about your well wishes penned on some generic seasonal greeting card. That shit doesn't even make the display; it goes straight into the trash. No, I need to see photos of your kids, and preferably you as well. Feel free to include the pets, although personally I think that's totally queer (of course, I included my house one year. That's right, a picture of the house, just sitting there. So who the fuck am I to judge?). I love getting the cards, and put them on the mantel as soon as they arrive in the mail:




It's seriously one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, maybe because it's some kind of proof that there are people out there who know I exist. Or at least have my mailing address and like Ted enough to keep us on their list. But the madness doesn't stop with the mantel display. I keep all the cards each year, and paste them into a book:





This is all very Martha Stewart of me, I am aware, but I don't care. And you know, people like looking through the books when they come over, even if they don't know 90% of the people in the pictures. It's still fascinating. Like looking at someone's high school yearbook - always interesting, for some reason. What about you? What do you do with the photos? Chuck 'em all in the garbage (except mine which you frame and hang in your bedroom)?

Well, it's off to bed soon as tomorrow has a packed schedule, what with taking the tree down, playing some Tailgate Toss, and cleaning up the shithole that is my living room after the brats tore through their gifts and then complained that the other one got better stuff. Charming. Oh, and by the way, we have no heat. Happy End-of-2011 to me!

XOXOXO
ABC
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Here's hoping your home is as filled with love and warmth as mine is right now. Minus the dysfunction and with even more pharmaceuticals. 


Oh, who am I kidding! The dysfunction is what makes it home, and I have plenty of pharmaceuticals!


Ho ho ho, and I'll see you suckers on the other side of Christmas ;)

XOXOXO
ABC
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HOME SWEET HOME

No matter how beautiful the beach is, or how good the food is, or how well behaved the kids are, it's still great to get home. And in our case, we barely saw the beach because the brats wanted to spend every second either in the kiddie pool at Pirate Cove, which was basically one big bacteria frappe as far as I was concerned, or at the "X-Box Center" where they could sit in a dark room on a stool about 12 inches from a TV screen playing the same Lego Star Wars game they play at home. As for the food, well, the vegan options were not plentiful, so I basically lived on salad and fries the whole time. And my kids' behavior was nothing short of revolting - plenty of whining about everything from why couldn't they spend every second in the X-Box Center to why they had to sit like decent humans at a table for long enough so that I could choke down yet another fucking order of fries.

We did take advantage of the free professional photo session offered by the resort (you only pay for the pictures you want), at my insistence, mostly because otherwise there would be no photographic evidence that I was even ON the trip since I take all the photos. And that went well:



So we'll have the photos, and after the memories of the whining and the bad food and the no sex because we were all staying in one room fades, we can use revisionist history to remember this as the best vacation ever. Which it was not. So it was really, really nice to get home.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

FAMILY VACATION: PART 1 OF MANY

So you'd think it would be impossible to be miserable in a place that looks like this:


But we're certainly giving it our best shot. The trip was off to an inauspicious start when American Airlines cancelled the three hour and 15 minute direct flight that we had booked and put us instead on a flight that connected through Miami and left JFK at 5:30 AM. Nothin' better than starting out a relaxing vacation by rousing your 3 and 5 year old kids at 3:30 in the morning and hauling ass to the airport for a nine-hour door-to-door travel experience.

Service on the plane(s) was repellant, even though we had ponied up $$$ and plenty of miles for four First Class tickets. The stop-over, despite my children being lavished with overpriced toys from Hudson News, was endless.

When we finally arrived, I realized that I may have made a tactical error in booking the vacation at a Beaches resort. I was lured by the siren song of free drinks as well as free child-care in the form of the kids' camps that are available. Needless to say, neither kid wants anything to do with camp, and it's impossible to take full advantage of the free drinks while saddled with the brats. This is not something that seems to bother most of the other guests, however.

Speaking of which, while we as a family are hardly classy, the crowd here is basically "Jersey Shore: 10 Years Later" and makes Ted and I look like Kate and Wills.

But whatever, the beach is beautiful and we are lucky to be away together as a family, right? HAH! Our first night here, we all fall asleep peacefully until Andrew starts vomiting... and continues to do so about every hour on the hour until well past dawn. I felt terrible for him, and much worse for myself.

And that was just our first 24 hours! Good times. Stay tuned for the rest.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

ANIMAL URGES

No, no, not those kind of animal urges. Although if I listen to any more of the album Rapprocher by Class Actress before Ted gets home, I'm going to have to make out with the UPS man:


Go ahead, have a listen. Especially track number ten, Hangin' On. Ah, well, I'm "hangin' on" till Ted returns on Tuesday. But back to the animal urges I to which I was referring. Animal PRINTS. I'm late to the party on this one, I know, but I have been holding out. Why? Too out there, too aggressive, too attention-grabbing... Then I realized that I basically just described myself and gave in. Here's what I want:

Top Shop, $200
I mean, dalmatian print? It's Cruella de Ville, New Millennium style! As in, not real puppy fur, which is gross. Instead, it's faux and it's fabulous. Genius. But I am not limiting myself to black and white:

J. Crew, $200
This would look amazing with black tights and shoes and a very fitted dark brown turtleneck sweater. I'm not sure what the hell else I'd wear it with, but since I don't own it and probably never will, who gives a shit? Anyway, moving on:

J. Crew, $45

A scarf, on the other hand? Ultimately wearable. With almost anything. Love love love. An "accent piece," if you will. Another accent piece? Shoes:
Vince Camuto (Piper Lime), $90
I know what you're thinking. Those shoes are kind of cheap and those heels are awfully high - won't I look like a whore? First of all, they are on sale and used to be more expensive. And secondly, let's be honest - how long are we really going to be wearing animal prints? Who knows? Not me. So I'm not dropping $400 fucking dollars on a pair of leopard print shoes, thank you very much. And thirdly, the heel is only 3.5 inches which is practically a flat these days. So shut up. Whore.

But let's not be selfish and only think of oneself. There's also the house to consider:

Kyoozi (Etsy), $50


Jonathan Adler, $1K
Yes, these are both black and white, but black and white goes with almost ANYTHING, and how the fuck do I know what your living room looks like? You could have no taste. In fact, since you are here, you very probably have no taste.

I leave you with the ultimate Animal:



Now go listen to Class Actress and make out with your mailman!

XOXOXO
ABC
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Friday, December 9, 2011

GIVE IT AWAY: PART THREE

Farfetched though it may seem, there are actually times when I think of people other than myself. The people I am currently thinking of are the men and women in uniform who are risking their lives while I sit my fat ass on the couch and wait for the football game to start on Sunday.

I am doing plenty of shopping these days, and you are too. I know you are. Don't lie, it just cheapens our relationship. So while you're out there buying shit for yourself, or your family and friends, or your favorite blogger (hey, you never know), why not shell out a few extra bucks and buy some stuff for the people who are providing you with the freedom to shop. I mean, they are providing us with other important freedoms, too, but let's prioritize.

What's that? You don't know what to get for the troops, or how to get it to them? No worries, I have the answer! It's AnySoldier.com, and it's an awesome site that takes letters from active soldiers and makes them available to you and me.

Photo Source: AnySoldier.com
You can read through hundreds of letters from actual troops that include their specific needs and wants. The requests alone will drive home what kind of lives these men and women are living - most of them ask for things like razors, shaving cream, soap, feminine hygiene products, snacks, candy, books, and magazines. Things that you and I take for granted. Especially the candy. I can eat my weight in Twizzlers in one sitting.

Photo Source: AnySoldier.com
Choose whichever letter(s) speak to you and go to Costco or Sam's Club of BJ's or whatever, and buy a shitload of stuff, pack it up in a box and send it off. The site makes it so easy any moron could manage it (trust me, if I can manage this it's not rocket science), and you don't have to pay the shipping to Afghanistan or anything, you just have to get it to the nearest US base (they provide the address) and the Armed Forces takes care of the rest.

Photo Source: AnySoldier.com
We are lucky to be safe and with those we love this holiday season. Do something nice for some of the people who aren't. 

XOXOXO
ABC

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

BAG IT FOR LESS

This Kate Spade bag has been turning up on holiday wish lists everywhere (magazines, Pinterest, blogs, etc.):

It looks like perfectly lovely bag, and the striped lining is particularly adorable. But it costs about $550! Now check out this very similar item from L.L. Bean:

I'll admit that the lining is nowhere near as cute, and there are some features lacking, such as the long shoulder strap. But it's almost the exact same size, and has things that Kate's bag doesn't, like a nifty divider section that zips closed, and longer handles making it easier to sling over your shoulder. Also, the inside zipper pocket looks bigger. But best of all, it costs about $150! That's right, you guys. You can save $400 and still have a very awesome leather tote. I know that it's very awesome because I own it. Would I steer you wrong? I would not. So if you're looking for a present for yourself this holiday season, buy this L.L. Bean bag instead of the Kate Spade one, and then take the $400 I just saved you and go to Kate Spade and buy, oh, I don't know, stuff like THIS:
$80
Adorable barrettes that I bet look even better in your hair, especially if your hair is brown. Which mine is. Just sayin'. 

$65
Mittens that speak for themselves!

$80
Glamstastic earrings that will make you look like a lady even if you swear like a sailor.

$60
Beautiful champagne flutes for all the bubbly with which you should be celebrating.
$75
A patent leather belt with a bow? I just might have to double my belt collection!

$20
Coasters with instructions that should definitely be followed.
$95
This is billed as a cosmetics case, but I would totes use it as a clutch purse for a fabulous party. I mean, it LOOKS like a party!

Now, some people (Ted) might say that by SPENDING the $400 that I was supposed to be SAVING you guys, I haven't really SAVED any money at all. But that's an awfully technical way to look at it, don't you think? Happy shopping!

XOXOXO
ABC
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