Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Whatever

All in all, 2014 was a bust. Super eventful, though. Some good things happened, and a lot of really crappy things happened, and when someone asks me how things are going lately, I'm inclined to say, "It's whatever."

But in the spirit of hope -- hope that 2015 will bring better things . . . I hope you and yours are happy and healthy, and I hope the upcoming year is full of wonder and love.

H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R !

Thing I'm thankful for: Clay's chili and Summer's sausage dip! Good food is a good way to ring in the new year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I have been traveling like crazy these last few days and have barely had time to sleep! So before Christmas comes to a close, I wanted to post two of my favorite songs.

The first is "Silent Night," sung by Julie Andrews. I hadn't even heard this version until this year, but I love it already. I think it's a good song for Christmas Eve.

The second is "Betelehemu," and is great to listen to on Christmas Day. I love the energetic and joyful tone of this song. It reminds me that although Christ's birth was quiet and humble and solemn, it was also happy and wonderful and exciting.

Thing I'm thankful for: seeing my nieces and nephews open presents

Christmas Lights!

Here's something Californians do right: Christmas lights. I'm not only amazed at the number of houses I see decorated with lights, I'm also amazed at the amount of lights. It's as though Clark W. Griswold lives at every house!*

Take a look at these!

One particular street in San Carlos was crazy busy. Traffic was not great, and the sidewalks were extremely crowded. It was difficult to get a good view of each house because so many people were standing in front and taking pictures.

You can see the owners of the house in the photo below. They just hung out in their driveway, greeting people and having a good time. Lots of homeowners did that. They would hang out in their driveways or garages and chat with the folks passing by.

These guys apparently had an extra Jeep laying around to use as a prop in their light display. Can you spot Santa and Mrs. Clause?

This place had the tallest decorated tree I've ever seen in a residential neighborhood.

Some houses were colorful:

Some houses had a theme:

Some houses went a little nuts with the inflatable decorations (It seems to be a trend these days.):

And one house was more about Hanukkah than Christmas. (It's difficult to tell in this picture, but the bright white blob in the left window is a dreidel!)

This house, though. This house was the silver tuna. It was absolutely incredible.

Finally, there was this house: Star Wars House. I made a special trip just for this house, and I wasn't disappointed. The homeowner set the lights to Christmas music, the main title of "Frozen," and even some hip hop. The "Star Wars" portion of the display was the best part, though, and here it is, captured on video:

Thing I'm thankful for: people's creativity and willingness to display Christmas lights

*There's even a website dedicated to helping you find the best light displays in California! Check out California Christmas Lights.

Wavy Lines

I awoke to this today:

The first time I saw those wavy lines, I didn't know what they meant. I thought maybe my weather app wasn't working or that maybe hadn't synced with my phone yet and the wavy lines were just a placeholder until all the data was downloaded. When the lines persisted, though, I tapped on the widget to for details. This is what I saw:

Fog! Wavy lines meant fog!

When fog moves into the cities along the Bay, it often looks like a huge, white marshmallow, creeping in and threatening to suffocate everything in its path. It's both beautiful and foreboding, and it's astonishing to me that it happens on a regular basis. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it.

Thing I'm thankful for: sunshine

*The wavy lines are a level of abstraction that doesn't really make sense to me. A graphic of a cloud signifies cloudy skies, a sun signifies sunny skies, and raindrops signify rain. It only seems to follow that fog would be a translucent cloud or a puffy-looking blob. (Or a marshmallow?) But wavy lines? I don't understand.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nostalgic Christmas

I've been really bad at my Christmas songs posts. They were supposed to be regular installments! Ah, well. Sometimes things get in the way of blogging. :/

But here's a song I've been listening to today that reminds me of Christmas. It's from the "Little Women" soundtrack, and although it's not directly about Christmas, it reminds me of Christmas. It reminds me of my childhood Christmases and how wonderful they were and how they cannot last. It's a nostalgic Christmas song.

Thing I'm thankful for: homemade bread!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Spy a Longhorn!

Thing I'm thankful for: reminders of another life

Secret Santa

When I got home tonight, I had a small package waiting on my doorstep. I wasn't expecting a package, so I thought it was probably something from my mom or maybe an early Christmas present from one of my siblings. And maybe it was.

But maybe it wasn't.

There was no order slip inside -- no indication who this package was from. The return address didn't help, either; all it says is "Amazon Fulfillment Services." I have no idea who this thing is from. So many people have asked for my address lately, so it could be one of a number of people . . . I'm at a complete loss!

What did this secret Santa give me? A book called Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career -- and How You Can, Too. If my eyes weren't so dried up from a lack of sleep lately, I would've cried a little bit. This book is a little nudge -- one of many lately -- that make me think long and hard about what I'm doing with my life. It seems to say, "Sara, you are more talented than you think!"

And so.

Dear Secret Santa,

Thank you, thank you, thank you. The fact that you sent this gift to me indicates a few things: 1) You are an intent listener; 2) You are thoughtful; and 3) You have confidence in me.

That third point means so much more than you know. Or probably you do know, which is why you had the book sent to me at all.

I've been struggling with a book decision lately. I haven't been able to decide what to read during the holidays, especially when I'm stuck on a plane. I guess my struggle is over, huh!?! Obviously, I will be reading the book you got me! Yay!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart and with all the love I can muster -- thank you.


Thing I'm thankful for: people. I'm almost always thankful for specific people. (And food) (But mostly people.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More Christmas Songs

I missed the last few days, so you get four of my favorite Christmas songs today.
And another one from good ol' Bing—Jingle Bells! (But only the version with The Andrews Sisters!) (It makes a difference, if you sing it with a smile!)

Obviously, I like Christmas music from the 30s and 40s, but that's not all you'll get on these posts. Promise.

Thing I'm thankful for: German pancakes! Sie sind sehr, sehr gut. Ich esse Pfannkuchen jetzt!


You may have heard that it's raining in California. A lot.* It's so much rain (and wind) for this state that companies all over the Bay Area told their employees yesterday to work from home, if they needed to. I am, in fact, working from home today.

Weather is a funny thing. I was just talking to one of my sisters last night about weather and natural disasters and how every region of the U.S. has something they deal with on a regular basis. For Southerners and some Midwesterners, it's tornadoes, rainstorms, and heat. For Northerners, it's snow. For Californians, it's earthquakes, and for people along the Gulf and East Coast, it's hurricanes. People in each region are familiar with what they deal with, so they don't get too scared, and they handle their weather without much of a fuss.

For example, I grew up in Southern states, so I generally know how to recognize signs that a tornado is near. I even kind of love those signs. I love rain and thunder, and that eerie green cast to the sky. I love gloomy gray clouds and being outside when there's lightning. Like people in every region of the country, though, I am terrified of the unfamiliar. I am terrified of earthquakes and hurricanes. I am nervous if there's too much snow on the road—and too much snow on the road is anything more than a dusting.

And why shouldn't I be scared? Or at least a little nervous? I've never had to regularly drive in snow, and I've never had to tape up my windows in preparation for a hurricane, and I've never had to think about items in my house falling down while the earth is shaking.

Right now, Californians are staying inside because the roads here aren't build for flash floods, nor are drivers used to navigating wet streets. It's a little laughable, I guess, but it's also just endearing and sort of nostalgic. I love that weather reminds people of home and gives them something to talk about. I love that no matter how advanced technology gets, humans will always be slaves to weather. It's oddly unifying and comforting.

Thing I'm thankful for: a roof, electricity, and wifi

*It's been years since California has seen so much rain in one day. Obviously, it reminds me of the 50-year storm.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Cool Yule

I meant to start this on the 1st, but I've already let a week get away from me . . . So now you get 19 days of my favorite Christmas music instead of 25. Ah, well.

To kick things off, here's Louis Armstrong with "Cool Yule."

Thing I'm thankful for: old friends I'm getting to know again

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Patterns and Thieves

Here are a few certainties in life:
  • If you go on a plane trip with me, you will be rushing to the airport. My track record for being on time for air travel is about 13%.
  • If you date me, you will get engaged to the very next person you date. Your chances of making it to the altar are about 90%.
  • If you leave your stuff in my car or in my apartment, it might get stolen. Especially if it's in my car.
Let's talk about that last point in more detail. I've been the victim of theft four times, and three of those times have happened since 2012. I thought I might make it to the end of 2014 without a hitch, but last night, some jerk broke my streak. And here's what:

I used to feel a little bad for thieves. I thought they at least deserved my pity. What, for example, drove them to such dire acts? Certainly life must be pretty bad for them, if they felt that the best solution to their problems was to steal and worse, damage someone's personal property. Now, though, I have no sympathy. No sympathy. It's such a hassle to replace stolen things and broken doors and windshields. It's a hassle to clean up blood and bits of glass. It's a hassle to spend hours on the phone with insurance claims agents and adjusters. It's a hassle to have a family vacation temporarily ruined. It's also scary and traumatic.

Here's an open letter to thieves:

Dear thieves,



Thing I'm thankful for: that more wasn't stolen.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Holiday Movies, Pt. 2

Google has several laundromats on campus -- they even provide the soap! However. They use energy-efficient and environmentally friendly washers and dryers. Now, I know I should like that, but . . . My clothes just don't end up coming out of the wash quite as clean or wonderful-smelling when I do my laundry there. So I prefer to use my neighborhood laundromat. It's always clean and fairly reasonable in price. Also, it has a TV.

Tonight, as I'm sitting here waiting for my clothes to get clean, A Charlie Brown Christmas came on, and I was mesmerized. What a perfect little movie. I love it so much, and since I was sitting there not really doing anything, I decided to search my blog for that post I once wrote about my favorite Christmas movies. Here it is: Holiday Movies.

Guess what? "A Charlie Brown Christmas" didn't make the cut! How could that be?!?

I realized I had never really watched it until 2007. I don't know why . . . I suppose it's because I didn't grow up on it. I don't remember my parents ever watching it; that's for sure. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, though, I developed a small love for jazz, and I had two little nieces who loved cartoons. So one quiet evening around Christmas 2007, I bought a cheap copy at Target and watched it all alone. I remember laying on the couch and wondering how such a movie could've escaped my attention up to such a late point in life.

Just think about Lucy going on and on about life's various phobias. Think about Sally's funny Christmas list. Think about Snoopy's weird personality, and think about Linus's little voice saying, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." It just never gets old.

So. Where would I put this in the order of holiday things? I guess I'd say it's after "It's a Wonderful Life," but before all the others. It's no. 2.

Thing I'm thankful for: visitors!