Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Time is Here, and so are the Surveys

In honor of the fact that it is after Thanksgiving and therefore officially Christmastime, and I am having desperate lack of inspiration, I will now fall back on the procrastinator's/uncreative blogger's closest ally: the email survey, this time with a festive twist. Enjoy.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Depends on what I'm giving and in how big of a hurry I am. Also, I would like to point out that non-traditional wrapping styles (i.e. paper grocery sacks, re-used shirt boxes and even bath towels, can be used in a pinch with great success. It's been done. That's all I can say.)

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial trees are dead to me. Haha.

3. When do you put up the tree? As soon as humanly possible. I love decorating for Christmas, plus, then I get the Woods inside my house, which is a huge bonus.

4. When do you take the tree down? I dunno. Sometime after New Year's, when the bells stop ringing and the children aren't singing and the world is grey again.

5. Do you like eggnog? I like it in my coffee instead of creamer. So delicious and fattening. Perfect for Christmastime.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I remember getting My Little Ponies, which was pretty exciting. I also got Samantha one year, complete with a trunk to keep her in, thanks to a woodworking Dad.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? My mom and dad have a Precious Moments one that's really cute. I'm beginning to feel that the Bower needs one of it's own, though.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My Dad, hands down. I'm a pretty good shopper, though, and an intense listener around holidays and birthdays, so I dig for hints and usually come out somewhat close to the mark.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Probably my mom. There always seems to be something perfect for her readily available.

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? I think I was 16 when my grandma gave me the last baby doll I hope I ever receive. I think it smelled funny, too.

11. Mail or email Christmas card? Snail mail, all the way. I love opening letters, and I figure everybody else does, too. Mom and Dad were dependent on me to write their Christmas letter too, up until last year, and I have a feeling I'm going to get drafted for Linthicum Family News Update Duty again soon.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life, far and away. Elf also makes me laugh and think of House 9 Christmas, and of course I love the creepy claymation Rudolph.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Sooner than I probably should.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. Everybody does. Don't look at me like that.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Wow. That's like asking a Valley Girl to name her favorite store at the mall. Or boy at the mall. Or shirt at the mall. Or... anyways. Right off, I love Pumpkin Pie, Christmas sugar cookies, my Mom's coffee cake, sweet breads, and ham and scalloped potatoes for dinner. Gosh I like food. Gosh I'm hungry.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I like colors. Mo' color, mo' betta.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Come O Come Emmanuel is my favorite hymn. Mary, Did You Know? is quickly climbing the charts, though.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I travel to go home. Makes sense.

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? When I read this, I thought, "No, because they're already named. I may think Blitzen is a dumb name, but who am I to mess with tradition?" I realize now what it really means, but my original thought is funnier.

20. Do you have an Angel on top or a star? I grew up with an angel up there. At House 9 we had a rather ramshackle foil star. I like it either way.

21. Annoying thing about this time of year? That I can't actually afford to buy all the gifts I would like to. Boo budgets.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yummy Texas

I'm in Texas for the week of Thanksgiving. Last Saturday we loaded Bonnie with suitcases, golf clubs and dreams of queso and bbq, and headed East. 21 hours, several Starbucks stops, 5 tanks of gas and a few crazy jokes later, we landed in Fort Worth.

It's been terrific. Adam's family is terrific, my friends (Val and Megan!) are terrific, the weather is terrific, the food, of course, is terrific.

And that's what I'm here to talk about. Texas Food.

Texas Food is unlike anywhere else in the world. It's massive, delicious, and filled with beef. No, seriously. I haven't eaten so much beef and cheese since... well, since I left Texas. Texans are not as concerned with quality as they are with quantity... if there's a block of gourmet cheese at Tom Thumb or a tub of kind-of gourmet cheese at Wal-Mart, Wally always wins.

Texas Food is also all about being big. The drinks are veritable water towers of Dr Pepper - which is awesome for me, because I practically need an IV of Diet Coke just to maintain daily sanity. Route 44's are my best friend. :) Also, the burgers are huge, the fries are huge, the LouAnn platter at Luby's is for sissies, and the queso is so cheesy awesome good that I think I might need to go eat some. Right. Now.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I've been temporarily distracted by... anything.

I can be a rather staid person, sometimes to the point of being so responsible that I forget to have fun. (You're thinking: we know you're no fun, and now you're Captain Obvious. Wow, Dani, this is really boring. If I wasn't stuck at work, I'd leave this awful blog and never come back... Well, fine then. Nobody is making you stay. Shoo. You and your mean thoughts. Anyways.)

Lately, though, I am completely distracted at the slightest provocation. Actually, the above paragraph is a perfect example. I started out telling you that I'm very grown-up and responsible, and ended with a snarky conversation between myself and my reader's imaginary thoughts. This imagination thing takes distraction to a whole new level.

Because of my complete inability to hold one thought for longer then a minute at a time, (My hands smell funny. Is that the keyboard smell? Wait, blog? Ummm, yes.) Anyway, because of the short-attention-span that is plaguing my life lately, today's post is in bulleted points of whatever random thoughts fly into my head. Enter at your own risk. (Mmmm. Blueberry muffin. This is definitely blueberry muffin weather. I wonder if Starbucks still has those lowfat-but-not-really ones? That sounds so good right now.)

Oh yeah. Blogging. First Bullet. GO.

  • It's blueberry muffin weather.
  • "Blueberry muffin weather" is when it's the perfect blend of stormy and fall-ish and we all (my family) hung out cooking (and eating) eggs and muffins until late morning, at which point we all just wanted to go back to bed thanks to our distended tummies, but instead would foolishly go chop firewood or something.
  • Christmastime is here! Well, not really. But the mall and Starbucks are sellin' the Corporate Christmas Scene and I'm buyin'. I can't help myself. Something about the red ribbons, twinkle lights and eggnog just makes me happy...
  • Naps are amazing. I've taken to getting home around 4:30 and crashing for at least an hour before my nightly activities begin. It's one of the best things about my entire day. Which is actually a little sad when you think about it...
  • I need to work out more. Lately naps have had priority over sweat, so my fat has had priority over my muscles. Yuck.
  • Speaking of working out, I work on the 6th floor of my office building, and can often be found running up and down the stairs following particularly aggravating projects - it doesn't work so well in heels, though. Frustration management and traditional business wear don't mix. I almost tumbled to my death last week.
  • Hence, today I am taking advantage of the fact that it's Friday, and am in baggy pants and sneaks. I've already run the stairs twice and it's only 10 a.m.
  • Friday. Just the name brings a smile to my face and a sparkle to my eye.
  • I have to work this weekend though. Boo that.
  • Diet Coke doesn't have the polar bears on their Christmas cans anymore, and this is very sad. They've replaced caffeine-addicted fuzzy characters with generic holiday-ish patterns and I am not a fan. Way to lose your edge, Diet Coke. At least Original Coca-Cola stayed true to Saint Nick.
  • I got involved in an interesting discussion of facial hair last night. OK, so I wasn't really involved per se - I didn't have a whole lot to add as far as my facial hair growth patterns - but I was fascinated. How do bristles just sprout out of the side of your face? All six or so guys standing around had funny stories about shaving too often or with a wild boar tusk or something. That would actually make a great book. "Not by the Hair of My Chinny-Chin-Chin - Manhood, boyhood, the first shave and the quest for beardedness" Nobody steal this - I'm sensing a Bestseller here.
  • One of my good friends is having a black and white birthday party tonight. I realized I don't have anything black and white. Nothing. So I bought a white shirt and will get away with pin-striped pants, I hope. If I still lived with Val some serious closet-raiding would be happening tonight.
  • I cut my hair. Just cut it all off. Kirsten and I went to dinner the other night and were both complaining about our hair, so we decided to fix it then and there. We went to SuperCuts 'cause we're classy like that, and paid $18 for incredibly smokin' new wigs. Anyway, I cut about 5 inches off all the way around. Shorter in the front, longer in the back - but not a mullet. Just so we're clear.
  • White-Out is so fun. I've pretty much mastered the White-Out on Post-It Note art form. Wait, what? I don't know who that girl is. I'm working.
  • I bought a table at a garage sale for a buck and then spent $30 on paint and stuff to re-finish it, because that math makes perfect sense. Actually, though, "working in the shop" has been super fun, and I'm really looking forward to getting grubby again this weekend.
  • Speaking of the shop, we've transformed Adam's fun garage into a SUPER fun garage, with two kayaks, a mountain bike, fishing gear, body boards and now, woodworking projects. His neighbors love us.
  • Since the woodworking craze began, I call Adam's garage "The Shop", FYI.
  • And, he's building me a chest/home for a very small, very naughty person who needs to be locked up in a box. Actually, I jest. It's gonna be awesome and I can't wait to fill it with stuff and set my hot cocoa on it on a winter evening. We even found the perfect hardware for it.
  • I need to go kayaking.
  • I need to quit making a random list and get back to work.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


As I have now joined the proud ranks of road-raging California commuters, I would like to add my horn to the noise. Here are a few tips on driving on the California highways, byways (hat tip to Steven Moore) and side streets and on being a good driver/pedestrian/commuter, or at least not a completely comatose one, as so many apparently are.

The likelihood that anybody who shares the roads with me will ever read this is incredibly slim. I know this. But writing out my woes is cathartic, and you are stuck at work, blog-surfing, and thus a captive audience - so you will read this, no matter how dull the story of my commute may be.

  1. It appears to be a law that if there is one large, weighed-down, slow-moving, repair-man-type truck on the road, there will be another, taking up the other lane and slowing everybody down. Repair men of the world, listen to me. WE LOVE YOU. We do. You fix our plugged drains, unrattle our rattling doors, and fearlessly stare down the bad circuitry demons. However, our love fades every time you go 35 in a 55... and especially when you team up to make passing you impossible. We respect that your trucks are big and weighed down and you get paid by the hour. Just let the rest of us by... and our love will remain untarnished.
  2. Same goes for moms. I salute you, moms. You guys work hard and have some of the toughest jobs in the universe. However, I also know that when I am behind a mini-van with "Honor-Roll Student" stickers on the bumper and shades in the windows, I am in for a slow drive. Unless, of course, Junior spits up in a big way. In which case we must always be prepared for the quick exit to the nearest parking lot/bathroom/wherever moms go to make do. Not really having much experience with the whole kid scene, I can't really hold a grudge here though. Just... good job, moms. Keep it up, and... well, you could move into the slow lane now and then. If you think about it.
  3. Nobody in California waves. EVER. Megan and I perfected the art of "Dallas Driving" (one hand on the steering wheel, one hand waving frantically out the back window at everybody whom you're cutting off as you cross several lanes of traffic for an exit that you should have noticed a lot earlier, but were too busy jamming out to the sweet lovin' sounds of Plus One...) So I wave. I think as I get into somebody's lane and give a cheery wave, they must think "Aw, how quaint. She waved with her whole hand! She must be from the South." This, I assume, makes their day better because they start thinking about Grandma Hazel's Sweet Potato Pie and not the thousands of dollars in debt they racked up last night in South Coast Plaza. At least I hope so. They're probably just wondering what the heck I'm doing.
  4. STEREOTYPE ALERT. When someone is driving incredibly poorly, if I finally get up next to them, I always look to see what kind of person has been so blissfully wrecking my morning. 99% of the time they are women, and 80% of the time they are on cell phones - typically very bling-y ones with large jewels stuck in conspicuous places. Girls, girls. Throw woman-kind a bone here. Silence is golden. Or the radio. Or maybe just watching the road instead of discussing your eyeliner application with your girlfriends. Or maybe you could talk about driving, and that would keep you focused. Something has to change, though. Please.
  5. Pedestrians. Walking is good for both body and soul. I am completely in support of walking, and think everybody should walk and use cross-walks and all that good stuff. I would also just like to remind the foot-traveling population that crosswalks are kind of a favor on the car-bound people's part. Really. We have agreed that while you're walking in-between the white lines from sidewalk to sidewalk, we will not run you over. However, that does not mean that you can abuse the privilege. The cross-walk is not the place to begin deep discussions, check out your manicure, or drink in the scenery. I join your ranks almost every evening, and I KNOW that the street can be crossed before the light changes. Please endeavor to do so, and we will gladly continue not running you over.
  6. Honking. Really, guys? Honking is to driving what "How to Save a Life" is to music. Overdone. Overplayed. Worn out. Please stop.
  7. When people think they're being sneaky, they're really just being rude. There's a place right by work where you can get onto the 55 going either North or South. The southbound lanes are always clear, Northbound are always packed. So certain sneaky people think they can blaze up the Southbound end until just before it splits, then gracefully merge, with no one the wiser and their own selfish tushes a few hundred yards further down the freeway. It doesn't work. For reals. All that happens is the Southbounders get slowed down and annoyed by the unsuccessful merging attempts, the Northbounders get righteously indignant at "sneakers" lack of courtesy, and everybody is honking and tailgating and nobody is better off... and it happens EVERY DAY. Oh, dumb Californians.
  8. If you're a guy and you pull up next to me, this does not mean that the Freeway Gods have ordained that we are destined to be together. It does not mean that I think you're cute. It does not mean that my window is down in order to talk to random guys, including you. It does not mean anything. Go away and learn to not be creepy.
  9. If you tailgate me, I want to slam on my brakes. I have not done it yet, but be warned. No bueno.
  10. Finally, be NICE. I seriously believe that people get in their cars and assume their mean driving alter ego. Wave. Smile. Take a sip of your $10 latte. Commuters are people too!