In A Year

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that WordPress looks totally foreign to me. I mean really, did they update this thing? I swear it was laid out differently before.

I haven’t written a post since Christmas, but it hasn’t been for lack of things to write about. What brought me back to my blog was an anniversary.

May 20th, which fell on this weekend a year ago, was the day I graduated college. I wrote a post then about my dance team, my family, my boyfriend, and my house mates; about how much I loved them all.

Now, a year later (how can it have already been a year?), I look back at the last fifty two weeks in shock of how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same.

A few short weeks after graduation, I got a job and up and moved to Brighton. After two months there I moved again to be closer to the job that I quit two months later. I then finished out the month in Swampscott, MA playing Portal 2, job searching and reading Game of Thrones on the beach. After that I moved home, feeling as though I was back at square one. Two weeks after moving home, I found and started a new job.

Just over two months later, I was promoted at that job and marveling at how much I actually liked it. 

Then, about a month ago, Joey and I made the decision to move in together, and two weeks ago we spent our first night in Downtown Hartford in our new apartment.

So, to recap, in the past year, I’ve had two jobs and moved five times.

A midst all this change however, there have been a few constants.

I’ve made it back to school several times. First semester I was helping coach the dance team on Monday nights. Even after I moved home, I found myself there every few weekends visiting friends and my sister. When I wasn’t visiting school, I often found myself in Boston visiting all those housemates who rooted themselves there together.

The most active thread on my phone is that between me and my four best girl friends from school.

I spent most evenings last week at my dance studio, rehearsing the alumni piece for the recital.

I even managed to re-create my favorite panini from school on the George Foreman the other night. 

And of course, my unwavering boyfriend supported me through every move and both jobs and even let me convince him to move in with me months ahead of schedule when I found a place I loved. 


A year ago when everyone felt as though everything was about to change, I was panicked about losing the things I had loved most about the last four years. But now, a year later, I’ve realized that most things change only if you let them. Friendships, relationships, what you value, are all under your control. 

Things you can’t change or can’t control? Things that come to pass happen for a reason. Every opportunity that doesn’t pan out is a lesson. Even when you feel as though you are backtracking, you must realize life never ever goes backwards only forwards. Every  unforeseen challenge is a test, a chance to learn, and an opportunity to reaffirm that you are going in the right direction. If you weren’t, it wouldn’t be worth fighting to get there.

It’s impossible for me to scroll down my news feed these days without seeing statuses and photos from this year’s graduating seniors and reminiscing about where I was a year ago. But when I do, it’s a fond memory, not a sad longing for days gone. I still have everything I loved about my life a year ago, and for that I am so, so thankful.

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The Commandments of Christmas Decorating

After the other day’s Grinchy post about all the worst things you can do when decorating for Christmas, I felt like I had to prove that there were things that I love about Christmas decorations too.

As I said before, I absolutely love decorating for Christmas and I have a huge appreciation for those who do it really well. Every year, my family drives around on Christmas Eve to see the lights in our area and we leave notes for the houses with the best lights.

There are some surefire ways to get one of the coveted notes, so I present to you: The Commandments of Christmas Decorating.

1. Colored Lights

When I was a kid, I begged my parents to put up colored lights. I thought they were way more fun than those boring old white ones. These days I actually prefer the classic, warm, white lights, but I still love when a house utilizes the colored lights.

The catch is, which ever color scheme you go with, you MUST stick with it. No mixing white lights and colored lights!

2. White lights

Classic white lights are my favorite these days. I love the warm, inviting look they give to a house.  As with colored lights, it’s one or the other; if you go white lights, you go all the way.

3. Candles in the windows

My mom has been putting candles in the windows of our house for as long as I can remember. It’s a homey touch that I really like. In the very top most window of our house we even have a Santa holding a candle to complete the Christmas look. Note, if you’re doing candles in the windows, you must do EVERY window. No slacking!

4. Old fashioned, large light bulbs.

Every year there’s a house on our Christmas Eve tour that has a bush decked out in the old-fashioned, large bulbs. It’s a favorite of my mom’s and I have to say I like the old-time look as well. They make for a great way to accent a tree in the yard!

5. Wreaths (or anything) wrapped in lots of lights

I know, I know, this borders on the “excessive” line from my previous post. But, there’s a house in my town that, last year, wrapped a tree in their yard completely in Christmas lights. It looks so cool to see all the branches, even the smallest ones, lit up. If you take the time to do this, let that be the focal point of your decorations; don’t over do it on the rest of the house!

I also love wreaths wrapped in lights too. The bigger the better! Again, it’s a great focal piece for your decorations.

6. Garland, or as my mom would say, swag.

I had always called this stuff garland until one year, when my mom announced it was time to get out the swag. Apparently she’s not the only one that calls it this because when I Googled “Christmas swag” most of the results were like this; there was only one thuggish looking Santa Claus, so she wins.

I  love the look of swag around a front door. The best part about it is that it looks great during the day too. Too many people think only of their decorations in the evening and are left with a bare looking house and lots of wires during the day. Swag is the perfect way to make sure your holiday decorations stand the test of sunlight.

My mom uses swag inside too: she wraps it around the banister and hangs it from the mantle above the fireplace. Be creative with your swag! Michael’s and Joanne’s sells pre-decorated swag, but you can buy some that’s relatively plain and dress it up with poinsettias, pine cones, ribbon and lights to match your other decorations.

7. Icicle lights

Icicle lights are my personal favorite. Added to any roof line, they instantly make a home look like a gingerbread house. Also, icicle lights are the only type of lights that can be professionally installed and still look good. If your house has a particularly lovely roof line, or if you have a gazebo, icicle lights are definitely the way to go!

BONUS – Musically coordinated lights.

There is a house I visit every year that breaks every rule of my cardinal sins of Christmas decorating, but is definitely the best decorated house in town.

The owner coordinates light shows all night to songs on the radio that you can tune into while you’re parked in front of his house. It’s excessive, ridiculous, over the top, and absolutely wonderful. It goes to show that even the cardinal sins can be committed, and the result can be fantastic.


It’s supposed to be pretty mild out today so our family will be getting up all our Christmas decorations! Happy decorating!!

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Guest Post: Ladder Lunacy

While I put the finishing touches on The Commandments of Christmas Decorating, I thought I’d keep you all entertained with a guest post from a very special person in my life…my dad!

He’s the king of Christmas decorating, except for that one time…

Following the Christmas decorating post on MMWords I was inspired to describe and depict a story from several  years ago that accurately outlines the inherent risk of the use of ladders by anyone (most notably me) who is NOT proficient in their proper use.  The extent of the risk rises, metaphorically, with higher extension ladders and beyond.

A mere  step-ladder, for example, has risk of head injuries such as cuts, abrasions, and possible ankle and arm damage including bone breakage.  But as you graduate to any type of extension ladder, the use of which places the user  higher than they can see with standard issue CVS reader glasses, the risk of injury increases exponentially to: major injury, ICU visits, coma and life-altering scares to young people.

The Event occurred early in the decorating season of 2000.  I had selected a homemade wreath to put over our hearth at home in our relatively new house.  We had moved in during fall 1999, and the previous Christmas we did not venture into full decorating:  merely focusing on getting a tree up with some lights and decorating the mantle.  This year, however, I felt we needed something grander, in keeping  with the wide expanse of our great room which has ceiling height of 23 feet and exposed natural beams.

So, after assembling the homemade wreath (adding poinsettia leaves for some color) I proceeded to get out the ladder and place the wreath on the middle portion of the fireplace chimney that extends to the ceiling.  The first placement was uneventful: I managed under my wife’s watchful eye to get up the ladder, place a nail, get the wreath hung and the ladder back into garage without a scratch.  HUGE  SUCCESS!  I only inspired a few hesitant stares from her while ascending and descending  and a big sigh of relieve when the ladder was safely returned to its menacing perch in the garage.

Now I should say that if anyone could call themselves a “ladder whisperer” it would be me.  Each time I touch the thing I hear voices in my head saying:  You’re F$&#%’d. You’re going down mother F*&#$er.  What the hell are you doing taunting me with those slippery sole shoes a$%hole?  The ladder has a very foul mouth.

Returning it to the garage after any use is my personal victory; a MacArthur sort of moment where D-Day is defined by any uneventful use.  (Having not served in the greatest generation, these little victories simply have to do).


Following said placement of wreath, I settled in on the couch and, of course, viewed my work.  Wait…what is that I note?  The wreath is NOT CENTERED!!!

Now, the wreath is taunting me:  screaming at me: I’m not centered, I’m not centered… I can’t relax; I can’t live with it…

I ask my wife, does she notice it?  She says it’s fine.  This, I’m sure is not in response to the inquiry, but rather, a dreaded nod to the fact she does not want me to venture back up on the ladder and tempt my good fortune. My daughters chime in as well:  Dad, its fine.

I manage to suppress my instincts throughout the day and surrender to the wreath taunts while going about the remainder of my business:  putting away some boxes, getting some coffee, washing my car, and flipping the bird to the ladder each pass.

That night I go to sleep restless.  Tossing and turning throughout the night, I  go out on the balcony to look several times:  the wreath is bathed in a very soft beam of light: it screams at me:  I’m not centered dumb a$#!

I quietly get up, drag out the ladder and attempt to place it without disturbing my sleeping family.

Here, sports fans, is my fatal mistake:  and proof positive that a highly educated person can lack the important gene of ladder common sense.  I placed the foot of the ladder on the area rug in the great room, right at its edge. Somehow I had not done so in the earlier attempt; perhaps my wife had noted it and corrected me.

I made my way up the ladder, ever so gently, ever so quietly…each moment getting higher and closer to the wreath…(it actually giggled at me here…) Imagine, if you will, Marley on Scrooge’s door, coming to life.

At the peak of my ascent I felt a slight movement…the ladder footing, sensing my peril, now begin to put pressure on the rug causing it to crinkle up and slide away...

You know how they say that in a disaster your life flashes before your eyes?  Well, I stand here now to confirm this happens….the slide and descent seemingly took forever…

As I descended, and I do mean this, my only thought was:  “Oh my wife is going to be very mad at me.”

In HD quality, the unfolding scene went like this:  slow and frightening descent… the ladder (and me) every so subtly  starting to shift to the right.

It then simultaneously went down to the right, me clinging with white knuckled fingers as she laughed at me with a voice that sounded like Vincent Price at the end of Thriller.

The right post of the ladder then skidded off the edge of the chimney and the ladder  contorted itself into the window blinds then down into the Christmas tree.

Ornaments smashing and crashing.

The left side of the tree crushed.

The ladder crashes towards the floor with me riding atop it like Santa on a possessed sleigh.

An enormous symphony of crashing, glass, wood splintering and metal banging.

A huge thud at  the end.

I look up from the crash and there, on the balcony were my daughters and my wife, eyes like saucers.

All I could say: “I wanted to straighten out the wreath…..”

Thanks, Dad, for brightening my day with that one! In case any of you are wondering, yes, that really did happen, in the middle of the night, 12 years ago. Good luck to all you decorators out there. Be careful with that ladder! Don’t forget to check in tomorrow for The Commandments of Christmas Decorating with all my favorite decorating classics!

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The Cardinal Sins of Christmas Decorating

Number one rule of the Christmas season is to wait until after Thanksgiving to go all out. I’m a firm believer in one holiday at a time and since Thanksgiving just happens to be my favorite holiday you must do it right and not steamroll it with over-zealous Christmas spirit.

Now, since it is in fact the week after Thanksgiving (hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Gobble, gobble), we’re in the clear. Dust off your garland, untangle your lights, pick out a tree and compose your holiday playlist because it is officially the holiday season!

I absolutely love decorating for Christmas but I tend to get a bit… judgmental…when I see decorations that are sub par. I mean A for effort and all, but it’s the holidays people! Sticking a light-up reindeer on your lawn and calling it a day does not cut it. Sorry (not really).

So to help everyone avoid my judgement, I present to you, the Cardinal Sins of Christmas Decorating.

1. Excessive Lights.

think there’s a house in there somewhere…

If your neighbors don’t realize when the sun sets because of your lights, you’re over doing it.

2. Poorly timed, blinky lights.

See these? They’re nice, they’re subtle, they don’t run the risk of sending anyone into epileptic shock.

If every bush and tree in front of your house is adorned with strands of blinking lights all blinking at different frequencies and patterns, you deserve to be tied to a chair in your yard and forced to stare at them all night long.

3. Oddly colored LED lights.

This isn’t the worst offense on the list, but it should still be avoided if possible. Something about the oddly futuristic glow of LED Christmas lights makes the back of my eyeballs ache.

4. The half-ass job.

One strand of lights? Really? If you’re going to decorate the house, do it right, put in a little effort. Seriously, why did this person even bother?

5. The clearly-professional snob.

I bet you people will disagree with me on this one. I know lights aren’t exactly the easiest/most exciting thing to get on your house. In fact, they’re rather infuriating. So I see why those with fat wallets will dish out the dough to have a professional do their house for them. But seeing houses perfectly trimmed in lights spaced out down to a fraction of an inch gives me the creeps.

Besides, tangling yourself in Christmas lights and unleashing every curse word you know when, just as you think you’re done, you realize half the strands you used don’t even light up, is half the fun! Side note: always test your lights before spending all that time adorning your yard, do yourself a favor.

But there’s one Christmas decorating trend that I absolutely abhor above all others. Searching for images of this one made me sick to my stomach.

6. Net lights.

Oh, God WHY!? They combine half-assing it, (because seriously how hard is it to throw a blanket of lights over a bush in your hard?) and professional snobby look, because all the lights are perfectly spaced out in a grid pattern. The biggest problem with net lights is when people literally drape them over their shrubbery and call it a day. The square yard of lights really says “Merry Christmas” don’t you think?

And lest you think that by properly adorning your yard with net lights that I can’t tell, I can spot net lighting from a mile away. I’d rather see a hand-wrapped tree any day.

There, now that you all think I’m a Scrooge, happy decorating!

Stay tuned for part two of my Christmas decorating series: The Commandments of Christmas Decorating, where I share all my favorite decorating classics!

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Photo Beast (aka My Sister)

This is gonna be short and sweet, folks.

My sister recently set up her online portfolio of all her artistic works going all the way back to high school. She included a lot of stunning pieces from her time in Florence, Italy.

So seriously, if you like art, photography, florence, food, people…check it out. Her work is amazing! This one is probably one of my favorites, but it’s SO HARD to pick. Go see her stuff. Seriously.

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