Tag Archives: holidays

GOOP Holiday Gift Guide: Revised!

This is the time of year when everyone publishes holiday gift guides with super practical items like a $345,000 Celebrity Robot Avatar from Hammacher Schlemmer to a $150, 15-pound loaf of bread from Oprah’s Favorite Things.

Gwenyth Paltrow, actress, queen of condescension and creator of GOOP—“an eminent lifestyle publication”— got in on the act with their own GOOP Gift Guide for 2014. I realize that I might not be the target audience, seeing as I save 20 minutes on my beauty routine by not having a beauty routine, but I am in the publication’s demographic.

I am also an editor and decided to rewrite some of the captions they included in the guide to appeal to the more practical anti-GOOPer out there, like:

Easy Health Angel Juicer

$4,739

Caption: Absurd, but awesome.

What it should say: Gold jewelry for your kitchen that will cost more green than it will ever juice.

See where I’m going with this?

Actually, I’m going over to In the Powder Room with this, so head on over and read the other nine “New and Improved” Holiday Gift Guide descriptions.

GOOP Gift Guide_ Revised!Happy anti-GOOPing and I’ll see you here on Tuesday!

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Stepping On My Seasonal Soapbox

The music, the decorations, the sale ads—the holidays are already here. While I promise to get back to humor next time, today I have to step on my seasonal soapbox.

fall

Like a lot of people, I sometimes find this time of year to be hard. Between the loss of family gatherings due to time and distance, the rampant and unnecessary consumerism, no holiday break, a dash of deep depression and a partridge in a pear tree, I would much rather just skip to January 2.

There won’t be a big family meal, and come Christmas there won’t be many—if any—gifts. Times are tight and money is even tighter, regardless of the date on the calendar.

I’ve never been bitter because we don’t have money for things, but I do get annoyed that others are so obsessed with those things.

However, I get it. It’s easy to feel pressured to buy things, eat foods that don’t make you feel good and stress about spending time with people you might not enjoy all that much except in small doses.

When that’s no longer an option, you learn a valuable lesson—be better, not bitter, and be thankful for all that you have.

So this time of year I really have to distance myself from certain things online and on TV, as I can’t stand seeing people filmed on Black Friday – ravenous for deals on TVs, cameras, phones, etc., people in malls pushing others over, obsessed with getting things.

Then they show Christmas Day.

The mall is quiet. People are home with their families. The holiday is over. Until the next shot when it’s Dec. 26 and people are right back at the mall again, ravenous for after-Christmas sales and replacing the gifts they didn’t want. It’s like somehow Christmas didn’t happen for some people. It didn’t fill the hole. It wasn’t enough.

It’s different when you’re a kid, or at least it was for me, and so I understand that it’s different for parents.

The holidays were a magical time with no worries, only wonder. The fact that parents can take the time to create fun traditions and keep that magic alive is priceless, and something I keep with me now.

Growing up I was lucky enough that every holiday dozens of people in my big Polish family would be crammed around tables full of food and conversation. And while I might remember a few of the special gifts that I got, those “things” aren’t first on my mind.

What I remember much more are the things that we did and said, making the food that we ate and places we went every year.

So this year with every Black Friday ad, every person complaining about “surviving the holidays” like it’s a terminal illness, I’m going to try not roll my eyes.

Instead when they complain about feeling burdened to buy gifts, I might kindly remind them to connect to why the person they’re shopping for is special to them and how they want them to feel when they open the gifts.

Instead of overcommitting to events that just leave them drained, try to take a moment to stop and take in the sights and the smells of the season. Step back and ask, “What do I want to remember?” And if they have kids, “What do I want them to remember?”

Because even though some things are unavoidable—crazy uncles making “breast or leg man” jokes around a dead bird carcass stuffed with stale bread, awkward company parties, people freaking out over red cups at Starbucks—there are some things we can control.

We can be thankful for things that we have and make the memories that we want to keep–and that doesn’t cost a dime.

(Steps off soapbox, trips, has a piece of broccoli fall out of my shirt that fell in there sometime while I was eating dinner.)

Let the season begin.

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Sarah from “Est. 1975″ Has Issues

First of all, Happy Halloween! As we’ve discussed, I’m not exactly into this holiday that much. In fact, this year I think I’ll just go as either “Gluten” so people avoid me or “Life” and just hand out lemons.

But there is one brave blogger who agreed to spill her issues here on this day of tricks and treats. I’ve only recently “met” her, but she won me over a couple of months ago with this post (read it after this one, of course, as right now it’s all about me.)

Actually, it isn’t. It’s all about Sarah, so here she is, my friends!

Sarah2 Name: Sarah

Blog: est. 1975

Where, what and why do you write?

Where: I write 99.99 percent of my material in bed. I put a shit ton of pillows up against the headboard and then I lean back and just do it to it. The only downside is that I get laptop burns on my legs if I’m not wearing pants. Which is more often than I’d like to admit. And also right now.

What: Most of my writing is of the comic variety but I have been known to branch out into other genres, particularly when publishing work on websites other than my own blog. I stick to the funny stuff on est. 1975 though, because I’m pretty sure my fans would hunt me down with fiery Internet torches if I didn’t.

Why: I write because it’s the only thing I’m even remotely good at.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning.

“Waking up is bullsh*t and I hate it.”

What’s the one “issue” or frustration annoying you the most right now?

Funny answer: About six months ago I started to inexplicably sweat a lot. Like a LOT. Through the armpits of my T-shirts, my underwear, the bottoms of my socks, etc. And the deodorant? IT DOES NOTHING.

Serious answer: I have a massive issue with social media. I hate it. I really, really hate it. And yet I absolutely rely on it to market myself, my blog and my freelance writing/editing business. I feel like I spend more hours of the day on social media than I do participating in anything else, and that bums me out worse than stinkbugs.

(Editor’s note: Amen. I use it for fun, but I hate feeling like I “have” to use it so I will forever be a peon and continue to use it selfishly for fun. I tried the serious thing and I’M STILL NOT RICH AND FAMOUS. Anyway, I have to think stinkbugs might be a problem given your sweating profusion? )

Three websites you visit every day.

I mentioned how I rely on social media for marketing and promotion, right? So I bet you can guess that my sad answer is Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

What’s an unusual talent and/or accomplishment you could never put on a resume?

I can crack an egg with one hand, and I don’t even get any shell in the bowl. Well, maybe one tiny piece.

Favorite place to be?

My bedroom. Unless there are stinkbugs in it. In which case I want to be as far away from my bedroom as possible.

If you could rule the land for one day, what laws would you create and enforce?

  1. Every time anyone looks at their cell phone while driving, they have to pay me $5.
  2. Delusions of grandeur are forbidden.
  3. No stinkbugs.

(Editor’s note: Not to be rude, but I’m noticing a preoccupation with stink bugs, which might be something to explore in your next therapy session.)

What TV show would you want to appear on?

BBC’s Sherlock because Benedict Cumberbatch.

Best and worst things I could find in your refrigerator right now?                              

Best? A million of those little flavored milks.

Worst? Everything else.

What question do you wish I had asked you and what would be your reply?

“What are the three things you hate to do the most?”

This is a tough one because I hate to do so very many things. But okay, I’ll give it a shot. I think I‘d have to start off with laundry. Laundry is the ultimate “f*** you” household chore – it requires an unappealing amount of physical labor, there are way too many different mechanisms by which things can go wrong and worst of all, it is a chore that never really ends.

I also hate making phone calls to people I don’t know. Like SO MUCH. I have to seriously consider questions like this on an almost daily basis: “Would I rather call the dentist and make an appointment? Or would I rather let all of my teeth rot out of my head just so I don’t have to talk to some strange woman on the phone? Hmm. What to do, what to do.”

(Me again: Holy heck, yes. Although I would say “making phone calls to people” and not just limit it to people that I don’t know.)

The third thing that I hate to do the most is let a holiday go by without some sort of acknowledgement. So because today is Halloween, I wrote a limerick for you all to enjoy:

There once was a Halloween witch,

Whose cackle would make your eye twitch,

She had warts on her nose,

And 17 toes,

So she turned into one cranky bi*ch.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

In the spirit of the holiday, spill it: Best and worst Halloween candy? Best and worst costume you’ve worn? 

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Things That Scare Me More Than Halloween

As the plethora of pumpkins and décor would indicate, we’re getting closer to Halloween. And while I’m not really a Scrooge, I’m also not that into the holiday anymore.

I write about Halloween five months out of the year for one of my magazines at work, and if I want candy, costumes and creepiness, I can go to WalMart and wander among the shoppers any day of the week.

Plus, a lot of the “scary” things associated with the day like skulls, witches and spiders—okay, I’ll give you that last one—don’t really scare me at all. Even the stray black cat that hangs out here crossing my path doesn’t spook me at all, (although mouthing “you’re screwed” and giving me the finger when it walked by just seemed rude.)

Anyway, I even did the haunted house thing a couple of years ago but decided that I would never again pay $20 for people to jump out and yell at me when there were things in my daily adult life that scare me even more—for free.

halloween

Getting a notification that I’ve been tagged in a Facebook picture without having any idea what picture it is.

Sneezing while driving.

Seeing a picture of myself as a toddler in a bathing suit and realizing my boobs are still the same size.

Getting my mortgage statement.

Touching the remote control at the gym, or worse, being stuck on a cardio machine near someone who evidently marinated in Axe cologne.

Being selected as either Dr. Oz’s assistant of the day or “going to Flavortown” with Guy Fieri.

People without a sense of humor.

Seeing a bug inside, running to get a paper towel to dispose of the bug, and coming back to find the bug has since departed to regions now unknown.

Losing the Internet for more than five minutes.

Using a toilet away from home and having it refuse to flush.

Eating the last bite of something without realizing I just ate the last bite of something. I am never more emotionally unprepared.

Going to feed the birds and having a mouse jump out of the birdseed bag.

Three words: Company Teambuilding Activity

Accidentally hitting the switch for the garbage disposal instead of the light above the sink.

Trying on a shirt in a dressing room—scary enough as it is—but then getting stuck in said shirt, providing the security cameras with a panic-filled performance of attempted removal.

Typos.

Having to touch a bathroom door handle, noticing it’s wet, and not knowing if it’s because someone washed their hands or if they didn’t. (Thank god for hand sanitizer.)

My grandma trying to hook me up with the new 90-year-old resident at the home because, “I can’t afford to be picky anymore.”

Realizing more people will read a Buzzfeed quiz in one day to find out what their “Spirit Vegetable” is than will read my whole blog/books in a year.

(For the record, I would be a Brussels sprout—often steamed and rather bitter.)

So as you can see, Halloween really has nothing on my general day-to-day neurosis. Bring it on, Freddy Krueger. Bring it on.

What would you add to your list?

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Halloween Décor for the Domestically Disabled

It’s officially fall now, which means women ages 21-45 have become pumpkin zealots and that Halloween is just around the corner.

So to help you prepare for the holiday season and prove you don’t have to spend a fortune to be festive, I’m sharing my absolutely finite wisdom.

decor

First of all, we’ll start inside. Stop dusting your house right now.* By avoiding the removal of dust, you will accumulate a layer of spookiness and cobwebs that people pay good money to artificially replicate.

*This does not apply to me, of course, as I have to dust everything every weekend—OCD trumps festiveness.

Once you’ve set the mood, there are simple household objects that can make cheap and easy decorations with minimal effort.

For example, if you put a tiny cape on a staple remover—and possibly some googly eyes if you’re really feeling ambitious— you have a quick and easy vampire decoration.

And what Halloween scene would be complete without a ghost or two? Considering my penchant for delightful smells, I suggest you pull double duty and simply drape a gel air freshener with a napkin, add a couple of eyes and voila! A spooky scented spirit to delight the masses. If you’re lucky, the “trick or treat” aroma will mask the slight odor of broken dreams and steamed broccoli that’s wafting through your kitchen.

If you’re only concerned with the external appearance of your home, cease all yard work two weeks ago and move to the next point below.

There have been orange construction cones just down my street for the past month or so (evidently they’re not in a hurry to finish whatever they’re doing.) And while most people simply see an annoyance, I see cheap Halloween candy corn decorations for my lawn.

Now I am in no way suggesting you (allegedly) take something that doesn’t belong to you, but if a strong wind happens to blow a couple cones your way—along with the leaves from your yard into the neighbor’s—that’s simply nature’s way of getting into the holiday spirit.

True, suggesting that you paint them to be exact replicas of the waxy candy might make things look suspicious, but most people will be too impressed with your creative prowess to be upset at the borrowing of said cone —allegedly.

In fact, they will probably stand in your yard clapping so hard it will set off the lame motion-sensored Halloween witch the other neighbors PAID for and put out.

Amateurs.

Once your house and yard are set, it’s time to prepare to pass out the treats. Candy can be expensive, and given the fact that everyone else passes out candy—not very creative, now are we?—I have a much more economical and creative solution.

Sometimes you even get jelly and jams.

Set yourself apart from the crowd by passing out more practical samples treats you’ve accumulated throughout the year. Traveling? Make sure to stock up on things like shampoos, hand wipes, coffee packets and jelly from the hotel room.

Stuck waiting in the doctor’s office? Cotton balls, tongue depressors and plastic gloves (do not give to children under age 3) make for hours of creative artistic play.

This step also requires a bit of planning, but if you start now you can be set for next Halloween. And while the kids might not initially realize the benefit of these alternative treats, when their hands are sticky from egging your house, they’ll certainly appreciate the hand wipes.

Happy Haunting.

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Patriotic Pyromania

I hold these truths to be self evident, that I love sleeping in the summer.

Well, I also love sleeping in the winter, spring and fall—I love sleeping—but I especially love sleeping in the summer. The windows open, a gentle breeze blowing through, the sounds of nature serving as a gentle lullaby. Minus the occasional manic cricket cackle, I consider summer sleeping quite possibly one of my favorite activities.

In fact, I actually think about these things mid-winter when I’m huddled in bed under blankets in the fetal position with the windows sealed shut and the humidifier/heater going full blast. The promise of summer sleeping—along with the promise of baseball season and fresh green beans— is what gets me through.

So imagine my displeasure every year around this time when my peaceful nights are no more, when I climb on top of the covers only to be jolted out of my meditative trance five minutes later by what is assumed to be either an apparent drive-by or carpet bombing.

I do not live in either a ghetto or a war zone, so that leaves one other option—pyromaniacs celebrating their independence from maturity and common sense by blowing crap up.

After all, what’s more American than purchasing illegal fireworks and lighting them off in the middle of the night—or even the middle of the day—the two weeks before and the two months after the Fourth of July?

I can answer that—just about anything.

 

I’m not anti-fireworks.

I’m not talking about the normal explosives people go downtown to see on the actual Fourth of July. (Although I’m not too into that either. At first I go “oooh, ahhh, pretty” then near the end when the dog is terrified and I’m tired from lack of sleep due to constant booming for two weeks prior to that day, I’m pretty much over it and feel ready for a Valium salt lick.)

I’m talking about the idiots that shoot off bottle rockets, M80s and firecrackers, the result of which could result in either the burning down of my house or torching of my sanity.

Along with the aforementioned noise pollution, pieces of the blasted things—actual litter— will be found throughout my backyard and neighboring streets for at least the next week.

Perhaps I’m missing something here, but I just don’t see the appeal of spending large amounts of money on things that go “boom” from a shady man on the side of a road in a striped tent blasting “Born in the USA” from his mobile home.

They want loud noises?

Keeping blowing crap up at 2am, causing me to wake up and hit the deck with “Gangstas Paradise” stuck in my head. If they stop over about one minute after this happens, not only will I give them loud noises, but I can guarantee that my language will be colorful as well (“oooh, ahhh, pretty” will not be included.)

I’m not suggesting people have to stick to sparklers, colored smoke bombs and those creepy snake things that completely ruin the sidewalks forever. All I’m suggesting is that they abide by normal explosive etiquette and keep the pyromania and possible arson with a sonic boom soundtrack to the weekend of the holiday.

After all, this is a holiday to celebrate certain unalienable rights—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, a good summer night’s sleep.

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Never Any Doubt

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, which means there will probably be a (well-deserved) wave of posts honoring the women who brought us all into this world. While I always make sure to say what I mean and mean what I say, when it comes to being openly emotive and mushy?

momNot so much.

This is not a trait I inherited from my mom, as she openly proclaims her love for people and things at an almost disturbingly frequent rate, hugging people she just met and tearing up over a random card I might send in the mail.

I used to find this annoying, and to be honest, sometimes I still do. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s often hard to relate to a virtue in someone else that you can’t easily conceive of in yourself.

But as an adult I’ve learned to navigate these differences and approach our relationship differently. She’ll never change who she is—loving, but stubborn as hell—and accepting our differences instead of constantly fighting against them has really been key as the years have gone by.

Which brings me to my point.

I’ve written about my mom’s disability before, but it can be summarized by saying she’s had 13 spinal surgeries, among other issues, and her neck and spine are completely fused.

Even though things weren’t “normal” with my mom when I was a kid—surgeries, braces, body casts—she made sure that everything else I knew was. I was raised with the knowledge that I was special, I was smart, I was loved.

Things haven’t become easier as time has gone on. I still worry about her on a daily basis, and I know she still worries about me. We both have our reasons to worry. But no matter what I might doubt in this world—myself, humanity, the validity of expiration dates on ChapStick—one thing I will never, ever doubt is the love that my mom has for me.

How she does it—how any parent does it—amazes me.

I would be a mess.

The thought of loving something that much, watching that little person leave my side or feel pain or hurt or sadness in any way, feeling so helpless as to how things might turn out—and doing most of this behind that “mom” mask of strength that so many moms seem to wear—all that would scare me to death.

But this isn’t about me.

It’s about my mom—every mom—who goes through these feelings of doubt that they’re doing things “right.”  Doubt that their children are happy and loved, that they know they’re happy and loved, that they’re protected enough but not overly so.

Maybe it’s because I’m older now or because I hear it from friends or read it on blogs, but I never fully grasped the scope and the depth of the sacrifice you all so willing make every day, most often with laughter and love. 

I thank you.

Because while I’ll never have kids of my own—my level of nurturing and dedication extends only to a (fake) houseplant—I respect the women who do, not just for what they do on a daily basis, but for who they are.

Women who worry. Women who sacrifice. Women who raise their children with the knowledge that they’re special, that they’re smart, that they’re loved and accepted—even if they’re not mushy.

I’m lucky.

I’ve never had any doubt.

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