top five holiday movies (sort of)

How are you celebrating the new year? It’s supposed to be zero degrees here tonight with the windchill, so I’m looking forward to a night of staying in for fun times. We’re having an Entourage marathon and avoiding Times Square. In my humble opinion, parties can be fun if they involve good friends, board games, cards, and baking chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a party like that in forever, so a night of DVDs and ordering in is the next best thing.

If you’re also staying in tonight and looking for a good holiday movie, this journal entry is for you! Presenting my Top Five Holiday Movies (sort of, because they all feature Christmas but not as a central theme).

1. The Holiday

I can relate to feelings of profound loneliness this time of year. The Holiday begins in the depths of relationship despair, then makes you feel like anything is possible. Special appearance by my husband, John Krasinski.

2. The Family Man

Because I have love for New York like that.

3. Untamed Heart

Back in 1993, I was too busy with college to watch movies or even know what movies were out (except for Philadelphia, which was filmed on Penn’s campus). However, Christian Slater always finds his way back to me and watching Untamed Heart was inevitable. This movie rocks my world.

4. Serendipity

Jeremy Piven and I go way back. Plus, their frozen hot chocolate is the ultimate.

5. Go

The three different perspectives inspired the format of Take Me There. Plus, Timothy Olyphant is way underrated.

Whether you’re staying in, going out, or doing some of both, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

things that rock

I am interviewed over at What Vanessa Reads. Vanessa’s site has a new design and lots going on, so why not go on over and say hey? I’m so impressed with Vanessa and other teens who share their love of reading with us in such meaningful ways. Long live real books!

Smart chicks like Tina Fey rule. She is also funny and insightful and way talented. Thus, she is one of my people. So when I recently found out that she lived on the Upper West Side at 80th & Columbus, I was like, “No way! I lived at 80th & Columbus!” And then she said how when she lived there, she watched the new planetarium at the Museum of Natural History being built. I was all, “Get out! I watched the planetarium being built!” Which means not only were we neighbors, we were neighbors at the exact same time. I like this.

High tea in Canada

On our way home from Canada, we had high tea at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. High tea is righteous. I got to pretend I was way fancier than I am, plus there’s dessert. Here you can see the three tiers of each tea: scones, sandwiches, and sweets. The sweets included a maple leaf cookie, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, and a tart. The tart (top left) was way too dainty for SP. Although the most pretentious item was clearly the frilly salmon finger sandwich (middle right), complete with its own miniscule lemon wedge the size of a dust mote. I immediately scored the classic cucumber sandwich since it was vegetarian.

The flight back had a turbulent takeoff and landing, what with all the wind. I suffer from motion sickness, so this was bad news for me. Taking two Bonine before traveling seems to do close to nothing when smacked with a turbulence/altitude change combo. I used visualization to save the day, playing “Summer Breeze” in my mind and holding on to the book I was reading. This book is a freaking work of genius and you will hear about it when I’m done. The power of visualization is strong, not only in creating your ideal life but in helping you get through hard situations.

Garrison Keillor had an awesome bit on “A Prairie Home Companion” before Christmas. It’s a short skit with two Christmas trees waiting on a New York sidewalk to be bought. It’s one of those things that has a way stronger effect on me than it should. See or hear the trees here.

adventures in winter wonderland

I have returned from the cottage in the woods. Canada is an ideal place to celebrate Christmas since it is always cold and usually very snowy. Plus, I scored some righteous gifts from SP’s mom, including a gingerbread house kit, toque with big pom-pom, and an Office desk calendar. One of the many highlights included being in the outdoor hot tub, surrounded by snow and alarmingly cold air. Here’s a steamy pic of me and SP (you can see the shadows of the plastic palm trees that live next to the hot tub – tropical!):

Christmas in Canada

SP’s mom is quite an interesting lady. As a result of master kitchen planning, she has two dishwashers. She loves to play 500 (the Australian version, not the 500 I grew up playing). She says funny things, like if something is ridiculous she calls it “rot” (which I have now adopted and altered into “a load of rot”). She also loves fun holiday accessories and rocked this antler gift from me. It lights up!

Christmas in Canada

Every year I give SP’s parents a tin of Lazzaroni Amaretti di Saronno cookies. Each cookie is wrapped in special paper that can be lit and flies into the air (thus, his mom calls them my flying cookies). I featured this spectacular activity in Take Me There and it is a Christmas tradition for me. Here’s SP’s dad watching one of the cookie papers fly:

Christmas in Canada

So yeah, it was a wonderful Christmas time. I hope your holidays have been just as fun!

holiday cheer

Does anyone celebrate Festivus for real? If so, what do you do with your Festivus pole? Does it just sit there, or do you dance around it or something?

Allison and I had our annual gift exchange at Crumbs yesterday. Crumbs featured snowflake cupcakes and assorted holiday cookies:

Christmas cupcakes at Crumbs

Gift bag highlights included the new Neil Young Sugar Mountain (for her) and Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street (for me).

I’m off to the chilly Canadian tundra. SP’s ma saved the Christmas tree for me to decorate tomorrow morning because she rocks like that.

Have a wonderful week of holiday celebration!  I wish you a time filled with laughter and happiness, friends and family, hope and light.

into the light

Welcome to longer daylight hours! The winter solstice was yesterday and that was the day with the least amount of daylight (about nine hours here in New York). Daylight hours will only be increasing by about two minutes per day until June 21, but those minutes will soon add up to equal happier times. Note to my plants (who are all huddled around the one window that supplies them with enough light to live): You can do this!

December 20 was Serendipity Day.  Otherwise known as Serendipity Do-Da Day.

My gourds have passed on.  I love assembling a plethora of gourds every fall.  I had these two where the bright orange stripe on one matched the bright orange of the other, who had dark green patches to match the other’s dark green stripes. Coordinated gourds rock.  Also in hibernation is the Colasanti Tree.  Luckily, Eric Luper sent me the last photo of my tree before all of his leaves fell off this fall:

The Colasanti Tree

One way to celebrate the winter solstice involves burning a Yule log.  This ritual symbolizes welcoming in light after the darkness.  It represents entering a brighter time in life and a fresh new year (with no mistakes in it, Anne of Green Gables fans).  If you don’t have a whole log with leaves wrapped around it to burn, that’s okay.  You can create your own ritual by burning paper.  You know how certain negative thoughts have been bothering you this year?  Those thoughts limit you from living your ideal life.  So you can write them all down on paper, then burn the paper to represent letting go of these limiting thoughts and opening yourself up to the possibilities of everything the new year offers.  Let’s bring in positive energy with the sunlight!

the score

Dismayed: I was buying a gift that was $16.26. I gave the cashier $20.01 because a.) who wants four pennies? and b.) i wanted three quarters back because I had to do laundry. The cashier was flabbergasted. He asked the register, “Why’d she give me a penny?” like it was a conspiracy or something. Sadly, this is not the first time lack of skills has presented itself. One cashier at a different store had to actually use a calculator to figure out $4.26 – $3.01. In education, we call this a “teachable moment.” So I explained about the quarters. And worried about the future of our country.

Skills: 0 Malaise: 10

Entertained: I started Netflixing One Tree Hill. My students used to tell me that I’d like it, so I thought it was time to finally see what’s up. I’ve only watched season one and there’s a bit too much ridiculous drama so far, but I’m hoping that might calm down in the next season. I understand that Chad Michael Murray is considered hot in the way that I understand Brad and Leo are considered hot, but none of these pretty boys are my type. I like Chad’s character, it’s just that sometimes he bothers me, all strutting around with his porcupine fluffy hair and showing off his arms. It’s the same reaction I had when he was on Dawson’s Creek. I like that One Tree Hill is filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina like Dawson’s Creek was. You can totally see the same dock that Joey and Dawson hung out on! I’ve wanted to visit Wilmington and see Dawson’s locations for a long time.

Bottom line: bring on Season Two

Impressed: Over vacay, I read The Serious Kiss by Mary Hogan and loved it. Mary has a serious talent for connecting you to her characters. She also did a fantastic job balancing heavy issues (alcoholism, obesity) with lighter ones. This story is warm, hilarious, and endearing. Yay Mary!

Grade: gold star

Agog: The Hubble Space Telescope’s photo of the Spitzer Helix Nebula, which my friend Elisa calls The Eye. This planetary nebula is the result of a dead star that is emitting radiation and gases. The white dwarf star, which was a lot like the Sun, is the tiny white dot at the center. Even more amazing: Hubble’s galaxy photos. I could look at them forever, they are so gorgeous.

Spitzer Helix Nebula

Closing thought: Will humans inhabit a new planet to avoid extinction?