Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Letter R is Everywhere

On movies, that is. PG-13 movies are pretty bad lately, too. I just want to watch a good, clean movie that's not necessarily an animation. I dearly love Pixar, but sometimes I want to see real people not abusing drugs, not involved in casual sex, and not killing each other. I periodically check new movie trailers on to decide from a one and a half-minute trailer whether a movie will pass my good and clean standards. Not surprisingly, these movies usually have enough junk in them to put at least one indicative shot in the trailer, and I can pretty accurately tell within a minute and a half that they will contain degrading material.

But today I found two movies that look like they're worth watching. It almost goes without saying that they're both from independent production companies. When a movie is classified as "indie," you can usually bet on one of two things:
  1. The movie will very much be rated 'R.'
  2. The movie will very much be rated 'G.'
It's either really bad or really good. Anyway, I think the following movies look really good, and I wish they would play at a theatre near me.

"Family Law"
"Sweet Land"

Thing I'm thankful for: Rice-A-Roni Spanish rice. Yum.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Season 7, Baby!

I'm so excited. I can't really contain myself. I'm smiling just thinking about the season 7 release of my favorite show, "Seinfeld." I was going to buy it the day after Thanksgiving, but thought it'd be just as cheap after Christmas -- hm . . . what a silly post-Thanksgiving shopping novice I was. It was nearly $40 at both Wal-Mart and Target yesterday. Yesterday! The day after Christmas!

Luckily, I remembered the incredible prices at Sam's Club. So I went there right after work, and although the DVD set was more expensive than I thought it'd be, it was still cheaper than I had seen so far. I decided to get it and use it as a kind of conditioned stimulus. Anytime I think about watching an episode (which is pretty much every night), I have to do some studying for the GRE. See, I like the show so much, that I use it as a reward for myself.

Here's to a good exam score!

Thing I'm thankful for: DVD's. Think about the bulkiness of a TV show on VHS. Yuck.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to post a picture of my first Christmas tree -- it's so pretty! I forgot to e-mail a picture of it to myself while I was at my apartment, and now I'm home with my parents so I can't take another picture. Instead, here's their tree:

Isn't it nice? Notice the presents underneath. The fact that we have even one is reason to be thankful, but it really isn't a lot for a family that's used to having a mound of presents for at least eight people every year. I remember unwrapping presents for what seemed like the whole morning when I was little. Of course, parents can get away with wrapping candy or puzzles or small games and things when kids are young. As we grow, presents cost more, and we inevitably get fewer of them. That, combined with the fact that it's just four of us now -- Mom, Dad, Lexi, and me -- leaves few presents we can actually open tomorrow. (Many of the presents are for family members who are away.)

I guess what I'm trying to express is that it's okay. Hopefully by the time we're "grown up," having fewer presents is fine with us. Hopefully we've learned the joy of giving and receiving and what this holiday really means. I'm talking about being with loved ones and celebrating life with them. And I'm talking about the gift of eternal life and salvation from the savior Jesus Christ that allows us the chance to be with those loved ones forever, even after death. I have two parents, five brothers and sisters, four brothers- and sisters-in-law, and five nieces and nephews who I love more than anyone I've ever known, and the prospect of leaving them when I die is the most depressing one I could imagine. Thankfully, Christ has made that prospect null and void. I can't think of a better gift.

So to my mom, I say: If you're reading this, it's fine that I don't have a lot of presents under the tree. I don't think any one of your kids really cares about presents anymore. But it's cute that you want to give so much anyway.

To my family: I love you.

And to everyone else: Merry Christmas. I hope you're spending it with the ones you love.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hot Chocolate Party

Last Saturday, I went ice skating at Centennial Olympic Park with lots of people from church, and afterward, some of them came over to my apartment for hot chocolate (Except it wasn't that cold, really. Darn that warm weather!). But I'm glad people still came over. :)

Here are the pictures from the night:

Andrea, Jennifer, Clint (What is he doing?), and Ashley. Fine people indeed.

Jeremy. He helped out and made the hot chocolate. (Thanks, Jewemy!)

David didn't want his picture taken, so he made a silly face. Well, little did he know, his picture would be on my blog for all the world to see! (If he really wants me to take it off, I will.) ;)

Hillary and Michelle. What a wonderful picture, huh? All the colors go together so nicely. And I just love Michelle's striped shirt, which is funny because I think she said it was from Banana Republic. (See Holiday Work Party = Day of Anxiety.)

New friends Rreza (spelling?) and Erin.

Ben (who somehow cut his thumb and waited patiently while I remembered, then forgot, then remembered to get a Band-Aid) and Oren.

Jacob and Rachel. (No, not the ones from the Bible.)

Steven and Liz.


Ashley and . . . er, Ashley's friend. :(

Liz and the Great Jenean.

Loranna (spelling?), Ben, Jenean, and Jeremy.

I don't quite know what was going on here, but there was a lot of laughter. That's a green mint M&M on Ben's ear . . .

Oren, who looks very relaxed here . . .

I had so much fun that night. I love hosting parties, although I think it was small enough to count as only a get-together . . . Thanks for coming, friends!

Thing I'm thankful for: my Crate and Barrel hot chocolate mugs. I got them on sale!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

First Pedicure

That's right, folks. I got a pedicure today. Two of my co-workers had been wanting me to try it for months. In order to get out of it when they went about 3 months ago, I promised I would do it "next time." Well, next time came.

Why did I not want a pedicure so much? Because I'm ashamed of my feet. They're really big. I wear a women's shoe size 12 W and sometimes WW. I have long finger toes. I can pick stuff up with them. I had ingrown toenails when I was younger. People used to make fun of my feet. I was called "Sasquatch" numerous times. My so-called best friend told me I could going snow-shoeing without the snow shoes. :(

I mean, don't get me wrong -- my feet aren't all hairy and gross like many men's feet. But women are supposed to have "cute" feet. They're supposed to wear pretty sandals and get their toenails painted. Well, I've only painted my toenails about 3 times in my entire life, and the paint was a nude/beige color. I don't like to draw attention to my feet.

But with some prodding from my co-workers, I gave in. And here's what I think:
  1. The massage chair was super-nice.
  2. The leg massage was super-nice.
  3. Once I got through the first 5 minutes, I wasn't as embarrassed about my big feet as I thought I'd be.

It was okay. But I didn't absolutely love it like it seems a lot of girls do. I might get one again before I go swimming during the summer or something. But I don't even show my feet much anyway, so it's maybe a waste of money? I dunno. I'd get one again, though.

One bonus of the experience: My pedicurist told me I had really soft skin. (That's because I don't let it see the light of day, usually.) :)

Thing I'm thankful for: the function of my feet, even though I don't like the way they look.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

London is My Station

I was alerted to this super-scientific survey by Ashley. Apparently, I belong in London. Not bad, I say. Not bad at all! It's a good thing I speak English! Capitol, capitol!

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.

No wonder you and London will get along so well.

What City Do You Belong In?

Thing I'm thankful for: time.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gift Cards

I just arrived home from a bit of Christmas shopping. One of the items in my bag is a gift card. Right. A gift card -- the all-around, one-purchase-fits-all piece of plastic. It's the present next door. Who wouldn't want that?

After baking a cake, I sat down to read my e-mail. Then I went to, where I saw the following article heading: Are Gift Cards Cheating? Immediately, two thoughts went through my mind:
  1. Man, what do they pay editors over there at Microsoft? Why didn't any of them catch that ill-usage of the English language? Gift cards are cheating, huh? On what?
  2. Are gift cards cheating? Or, to put it correctly, is giving gift cards cheating?

The author of the article makes some very good points. She basically equates giving a gift card to throwing money at someone. That's sort of true, I guess, except that a gift card might actually end up the person. But she's right . . . I'm cheating on my gift-giving. Had I started my holiday planning and shopping earlier, I might not have had to buy a gift card. She made a few other good points and left me feeling sufficiently guilty.

One of the points she made was that giving a gift card means that you didn't get to know someone. I began to go over this logic. If that statement was true, then giving a gift other than a gift card would mean that you took the time to know someone very well. But I think we all know how incorrect that statement is -- I mean, have you ever gotten a gift you didn't like? I know that last year, when I unwrapped that calendar of horses with some of the months missing, that the person who gave it to me didn't know me very well. In that situation, a gift card would've been a lot more meaningful.

And it's not like people buy gift cards from The Gift Card Store. I think there is some thought that goes into picking which store you get the card from. The card I bought today, for example, is a gift card to be used in a book store. I know this person loves reading, but how can I possibly know what she wants to read? I could ask her, but then she'll know what she's getting for Christmas. Or I could just buy a card that's worth more because I inevitably end up putting more money into the card than I would on one or two books. That way, when she sees the amount on the card, she'll think, "Cool. I get to spend all of this at this store! A store of books!" Or maybe I think a person will think that because when I get gift cards, I usually spend the money on necessities like toilet paper and shampoo and groceries. So a gift card to a specific store is nice because then I don't have the guilt of shopping there.

But now I'm talking about my own psyche, which is kind of weird, so I'll stop here. Just know that I don't think gift cards are thoughtless. I do like to give (and get) other things besides gift cards, but I don't think gift cards are tacky. They're not as immediately exciting to unwrap as, say, a digital camera, but they are useful. And I like useful.

So what say you, blog-readers? Do you think gift cards are thoughtless? And please, state your age because the author of the article wrote that according to a national survey by Coinstar, 82% of Americans under age 44 said they appreciated getting gift cards.

Thing I'm thankful for: online recipes.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I don't know how long the trailer for the new "Harry Potter" movie has been on the Apple Web site, but I myself just found it tonight. It looks pretty good. To be honest, I can't wait! Check it out!

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Thing I'm thankful for: movies that are actually clean enough to watch!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

White Lights or Colored?

This is another opposites question: Which do you like better -- white Christmas lights or colored? I think white lights are so classic and sophisticated, but colored lights are fun to look at. So I think I'm gonna cheat here and say that I like colored lights on the outside of the house, but white lights on the tree.

What do you think?

Thing I'm thankful for: Christmas music.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Congealed Goo and a Loaded Question

It's 3:45 a.m., and I just finished making candied sweet potatoes for my office work party tomorrow. When I say I "finished" them, I mean I somehow messed up the sauce so that now it looks like brown snot all over the sweet potatoes. Gross. I have no idea what happened. Well, actually, I think I cooked the sauce too long because I pulled a Cathy Snow and forgot about the pan on the stove. I never even use the stove for this recipe, usually. I always -- and I mean always -- use the microwave. Who knows why I decided after 4 years of making this sauce, to try something new. That's what's wrong with me. I try new things under pressure, which inevitably leads to anxiety or failure, and so I don't like trying new things.

I mean, I can't begin to describe the embarrassment and shame I feel when something I bake doesn't come out right. Baking is the one of the only areas I feel pretty competent in (as far as homemakers -- not pastry chefs -- go). I get red in the face just thinking about those sweet potatoes. I'm thinking about not taking them to work tomorrow. I'll sleep on it and decide in the morning . . .

Because I'm so mentally distraught, I'm going to keep blogging for a few minutes. I'm using two questions from the game Loaded Questions as my prompt.

What muscle would you flex if you wanted to intimidate somebody?
My brain. Ha ha! The brain isn't even made of muscle; it's nervous tissue! I hate it when people refer to it as a muscle to be exercised.

If you could have been a star in any movie, which movie would you choose?
Well, I guess I'd like to star in an English movie. Like "Emma."

**Update: Since writing this post almost two weeks ago, I might have changed my mind on the 2nd loaded question. "Funny Girl" is a possible upset. "You think beautiful girls are gonna stay in style forevah? I SHOULD SAY NOT!"

Thing I'm thankful for: premium cotton rounds from CVS.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Before and After






Okay, okay. That last one is just silly. It's me laughing at myself for taking pictures of myself. But I had to in order for you to see my new hair color. You may not even be able to tell a difference because of poor lighting and camera phone quality, but it is different. There's a hint of red in my hair now, actually. That's something I have never tried before, but I think I like it. It's like my original color with a kick! We'll see, though -- it always takes me a few days to decide whether or not I really like my hair. I'll let you know.

What do you think?

Thing I'm thankful for: chilly winter nights and vegetable soup, chatting with Lauren in front of the fire, and sitting on the floor.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sawa: Not Just a Nickname Anymore

So I called Prometrics today to reschedule my GRE. I'm just not prepared to take it. Yet. But I will be. Bright and early on January 13th, I will wow the test graders and graduate admissions staff alike!

What's the point of this post, you ask? Well, on the phone I had to give the lady my e-mail address. Now, for those of you who don't know, "sawa" is part of my e-mail address. (Don't you like my trickery in not giving the address away?) People often get a confused look on their faces when I tell them my address. I have to say it, spell it out, say it again, and finally, explain to them that it's a nickname that my family calls me. (If I know they're into movies, I will tell them it comes from "Labyrinth.")

Well, I did the same thing for the Prometrics lady today. She checked and re-checked that she had heard me right by repeating it to me. She said something like, "Hm." So I thought she was probably struggling to find the reason I would have an e-mail address like that.

Later, we were waiting for my information to "go through the system," and she asked me again if my e-mail address was indeed correct. I told her it was, and she said, "That's very interesting. In my country, "sawa" means togetherness. Did you know that?" I said that no, I did not, and we got into a short conversation about where she's from. One of her parents is Portuguese and one is from Jordan, which is where she grew up. And in Jordan -- when you mean the word "together" -- you say "sawa." Pretty neat, huh?

So in Hebrew, my name means "princess," and in Arabic, my nickname means "together." Maybe I'm a princess who's got it together? Or a princess who holds everything together? Or maybe I not even a princess, really. :(

I thought that was fun and neat, anyway. If you want to find out what your name means, you may be able to find it at "Behind the Name."

Thing I'm thankful for: my name. I like it. It fits me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Movies

After reading Ashley's post a couple of nights ago, I decided to give you a run-down on my favorite Christmas movies. I love watching them with my family around the holidays. It never gets old.

So here they are, in no particular order, really, and they're each preceded by my favorite quotes.

"Ha, ha! My mouth's bleedin', Burt! My mouth's bleedin'! Zuzu's petals! Zuzu's petals!" -- George Bailey

"It's a Wonderful Life" -- Ah, an all-time classic. I love, love, love this movie. What can I say about it? It's just . . . perfect.

"Gideon can make it so Dad's not dead anymore!" -- Abbie Grainger

"One Magic Christmas" -- I think this probably came on the Wonderful World of Disney the Saturday before Christmas. My family watched it every year. Not a lot of people are familiar with it, but it's a feel-good movie. One thing interesting to me about this movie is that Mary Steenburgen's character wears a mauve puffy coat, and my mom always used to wear a mauve puffy coat. So this movie reminds me of my mom.

"Well, this is just a reel nice su-prise, Clark. A reeel nice su-prise." -- Uncle Eddie

"Christmas Vacation" -- I think I like watching this movie with my dad the best. Since it's kind of risque sometimes, my dad likes to pretend that he's appalled. But he LOVES this movie. LOVES it.

"KEVIN!" -- Mrs. McAllister, the mother

"Home Alone" -- I think my mom and dad took Blake, Lexi, and me to see this on Thanksgiving. I always liked it, but my mom LOVES it. She always laughs like she's seeing it for the first time.

"Fra-JILL-ay -- sounds exotic." -- The Old Man

"A Christmas Story" -- I think this is probably a universal Christmas classic. I don't think I know anybody who doesn't like this movie. No -- No, I don't.

"I -- I'd like to stroke it!" -- Tiny Tim

"A Christmas Carol" -- the 1938 version, I think. The above line was one of the first lines I remember quoting from a movie and absolutely relishing in impersonations.

"That's exactly what Attila the Hun said, but when he saw his mother? Niagra Falls!" -- The Ghost of Christmas Past

"Scrooged" -- I can't remember what this is rated, but my oldest sister gave it to me for Christmas the year I was 9, maybe. My dad of course thought that was a completely inappropriate for a 9-year-old, and I must say that my 25-year-old self agrees with him. I remember being a tad ashamed that it was my movie, and I still sometimes feel naughty for watching it. But it is a pretty good twist on the class Christmas Carol. Besides, who doesn't like Bill Murray?

What are YOUR favorite holiday movies? Which ones did you watch over and over again with your family?

Thing I'm thankful for: Christmas movies, of course!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hot or Cold?

I'm sorry I don't have a digital camera right now because I know my blog is probably boring you to death lately. If it's boring me, it's GOT to be boring you.

Until I get some fun images on here, I have to come up with fun, engaging content. So tonight I will give my stance on hot and cold. Which one would I choose?

Cold, of course. You can always cover up with a blanket to try to get warm. If you can't get warm, it doesn't matter too much, because it's just fun wrapping up in a snuggly blanket. When it's cold, I don't sweat as much, my skin gets less oily, and I don't look so pale among the general populous -- all very good things for my physical appearance. Also, winter clothes are my favorite clothes. Who doesn't love sweaters? (But my personal favorite is the sweatsuit -- old school style, complete with elastic ankles.)

Perhaps my favorite thing about cold weather, though, is that when it gets cold enough, it snows! Not only is snow pretty and fun to play in, it's part of my name! And there are so many great "snow" words!

Snow angel
Snow day! (This was a special favorite growing up . . .)

What would you choose, readers? Hot or cold?

Thing I'm thankful for: air hockey.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Holiday Work Party = Day of Anxiety

I had my first annual holiday work party last night. I did not want to go -- for several reasons, but mainly because my company of employment contracts their employees out to CDC. So we're just a bunch of contractors who work in different buildings in Atlanta. I only knew 3 people in the entire organization. Well, after spending a significant part of my Saturday looking for something festive to wear for this party and after realizing how weird work parties are, I pondered on some of the events that took place yesterday and came up with some take-home lessons:

  1. Banana Republic always has your back. The prices are a bit steep for me, but it really is the go-to place for semi-semi-formal clothing.
  2. Hotel conference room carpet is always ugly.
  3. I really like Asians. (I always knew that, but it was reinforced last night. Thankfully, two Chinese women at my table let me sit by them and laugh with them.)
  4. For a lot of women, semi-formal clothing means baring cleavage.
  5. When an African man dances in his traditional dance, it is okay for women to lose their normal inhibitions at the office and stuff money in his pants. (Seriously, people -- this one's real.)
  6. That lady in her mid-40's who seems so professional at work can booty-dance as much as an 18-year-old college freshman.
  7. If you sit through work holiday party raves, it isn't a guarantee that you'll win a doorprize when it's over.
  8. Never go to a business party alone. You may think your friends don't want to go to your work party with you, but once you're there, you'll realize that the embarrassment of asking a friend to go to a work party with you because you don't have a "date" is much less than the embarrassment you have watching GROWN ADULTS booty dance.
Thing I'm thankful for: not drinking.