29 November 2011

NY recap: high highs #5 - #10

ohh, that bittersweet feeling when vacation is over. 80% disappointment that it’s back to reality and 20% looking forward to sleeping in your own bed, using your own shower, cuddling with your kitties :)

i thought i'd share a few high highs of the trip - i'll try to do one a day because there is just no way that i could do one high high for the whole trip.  over a week of family time, city time, time with good friends, and of course some wonderful meals from my godmother and nanny.  

high high #5 - tuesday the 22nd 

seeing this guy.  

friends since praha, 2006

one of our best friends from prague and a groomsman in our wedding, mr. s.  it was so great to see him, catch up, and meet his lovely new girlfriend. plus we ate at an awesome restaurant, one mario batali's otto pizzeria!  side note - the food is super affordable, so if you're in the area check it out.  but a big play of comfort food (pasta) was just icing on the cake of the evening. 

high high #6 - thursday the 24th

me & em, the bride-to-be at our station and bar!

time with our favorite soon-to-be-married couple!  it's kind of a tradition in our family to head out for drinks after holiday meals - so we walked up to a local bar after thanksgiving dinner (and dessert).  we shared a few pitchers of winter seasonals with the bride and groom.  i felt SO blessed - it was just two days before their big day and we got to spend the entire evening with them.  i totally believe that these two are meant for each other.  they are just the complete embodiment of two genuinely good people meant to be together.  so over-the-moon happy for them! 

thanksgiving was all around a lovely day.  i really needed that family time, especially with some family members i hadn't seen in quite a while.  it was almost perfect.  and when your godmother, who is aa trained chef, is making thanksgiving dinner well then it's even better.

high highs #7 and #8 - saturday the 26th

me, aj and my two cousins who are like sisters to me

i really hate to say it because this defeats the purpose of high highs, but i have two!  the ceremony went off without a hitch and the cocktail hour was amazing.  when the reception began and the band started playing, it was the biggest party you've ever seen.  one of the first songs they played - just as most people were sitting down to eat - was 'that thing you do.'  yes, the 50s song from the tom hanks movie.  well i'm not proud to admit this, but my two cousins, my brother and i made up a dance to this song back in the day when the movie came out.  we would dance around in my godmother's apartment and may have even performed our routine for family (yes, we were super cool).  so when the song came in, immediately my brother, the my cousin the bride, my other cousin the maid of honor and i were out there dancing our dance like you've never seen.  it was a fantastic memory of my childhood i was able to relive and a reminder that no matter what happens, we will still have that special bond the four of us have always had.

my favorite couple ever!
but a very close second would have to be the last dance of the night - shout.  typical song played at all weddings, right?  well when the groom has a cowbell and is in the middle of the dance floor, it livens it up a bit.  especially after 'a little bit softer now,' when everyone is starting to stand back up and get a little louder, and the bride dances onto the floor with a tambourine.  EVERYONE was dancing and was pretty tipsy at this point - and it was just the most fun moment of the night.  a perfect example of how much fun these two are.  pretty hilarious :) 

high high #9 - sunday the 27th 

me & dad at the wedding :)
brunch with my dad, his wife and aj.  i miss my dad so much and it was great to spend some time with him.

high high #10 - monday the 28th

part of my home, my childhood - astoria park
catching the N train back to astoria after a lovely dinner with my incredible godmother and her equally amazing husband in the village at one of our favorite places.  i had my headphones on and was standing on the platform at union square when the train rushed by me, blowing my hat off my head and my hair back off my shoulders.  and in that moment i realized how much i miss the city.  

don't be fooled - the rest of the trip was just as much of a high as these moments.  but these were just the best of the best.  i can't wait to get back out there soon - so many exciting thigns are going on with my family that i want to be a part of!  

but in the meantime, i have a few more days of hell school until it's break.  just five more days... 

until after school!  i can't wait to post bathroom updates for the upstairs, bathroom design ideas for the downstairs, and HOLIDAY decorations! 

24 November 2011

what i'm thankful for

hi friends.  i've made it to new york and it's been a wonderful trip so far.  in the weeks leading up to this trip, i was a little worried... 10 days is a long time to be away from home when we have SO much to do.  but it's been great, because we have TIME.  time to see old friends, time to laugh, time to sit and talk with family, time to reminisce.

i have a lot of things to be thankful for thankful for this year.  i thought i'd share the 10 things i am most grateful for from last thanksgiving to this one.  i'll try to keep it semi-brief, because i have mashed potatoes with truffle oil waiting for me... that's right.

1.  that i'm surviving school.  i was so worried going into this semester that i wouldn't be able to handle it all.  but i've done decently well in school and have been able to have some remnants of a social life.  some remnants.  but i've also had time to volunteer and spend time on things that are important to me, which has been a real gift.  i will have to juggle more going in to 2012, so this was a good test of just how much i can handle.

2. it's been a good year for friends, both old and new.  i'm thankful that i've met so many new people through school, the campaign, blogging, and other avenues.  i'm also very thankful that i've been able to rekindle some long lost friendships that had fallen by the wayside throughout the last few years.  i love the people in my life and i'm happy to be adding new ones every day.

3.  i'm so, so, so very thankful for our home.  sure, the roof over our heads has been leaky at times (not literally) but when so many people have lost their homes in the last few years, we are lucky that we own such a beautiful house that we are able to make improvements to.  it's our home, and i can't wait to spend the holiday seasons there for years to come.

4.  it's been a rough year for my family.  but i am so thankful for my ever-changing family that is so wonderful in so many different ways.  we lost someone very special to all of us back in february and it's taken my family a while to re-adjust itself to what it means to exist without her.  but we've made some strides, and i hope that we are on our way to a new definition of family.  she was a great woman, a true matriarch that held us together.  we've fallen apart a little without you nanny, but we'll get it together.  we've had some great additions to our family this year - my new aunt beth, my first and most-loved nephew little man, and my cousin's soon-to-be-husband patrick (wedding is tomorrow!).  i'm thankful that i have such loving and supportive parents and in-laws.  i don't know what i'd do without this support system.

5. we have had a few ups and downs health-wise this year, but everyone in my family is strong and healthy.  i'm very, very thankful for that.

6.  i'm blogging while on vacation.  i'm thankful that i have a job that allows me to take this time off to spend with my family during the holidays and my cousin's wedding.  i'm thankful that i'm able to semi-relax on this vacation, too :)

7.  one miracle of this year is the celebration of love during the holidays we get to experience tomorrow.  i can't think of two people more in love than my cousin and her fiance and i just can't wait for the wedding tomorrow.  no black friday shopping for me, just manicures with the bride and my fellow bridesmaids before it's off to the rehearsal.  it's the perfect reminder of what this time of year should really be about - family and love.

8.  our kitties.  they just make me happy.  :)

9.  my husband, the love of my life, philip.  i couldn't do half of anything i do without him.  he's my everything.  a quick story: five years ago it was our first thanksgiving together (or rather our first holiday together) and i remember almost every moment.  holding his hand before dinner, kissing in the kitchen, choking up at the dinner table with our friends in prague talking about how thankful we all were for one another in our lives.  i was convinced it would be the only holiday i'd get to spend with him.  and every thanksgiving, i remember that feeling and i'm thankful that he's the person i spend all my holidays with.

10.  it's been a year for personal growth.  i've kind of figured out what i want to do, i've gone back to school, and my life has a direction.  and i love the direction it's going in.

happy thanksgiving friends.  what are you thankful for today?


19 November 2011

breaking point.

me, very unhappy.
but not as unhappy as i was today.
wow.  i guess it was my own fault, really.  i went on and on yesterday about how it was a rough week, and i was so looking forward to vacay, but friday was a bad last day at work...

today was worse.  much worse, actually.

while i was at school (and really just not feelin it, by the way), i got a text from philip.  see, we have been using the downstairs shower for a few weeks now while we finish the upstairs bathroom makeover.  it's a pretty small space, but i repainted it last summer and we did a few little updates to make it useable.  another thing you need to know about this story is that our basement is uber-gross.  i refuse to go down there (i think that's where hostel was filmed), so it's just philip that goes down there every once in a while to retrieve or store something we don't use often.  today, it was his bicycle.  we put them away about a month or so ago, knowing it was too cold to go bike-drinking anymore.  but today he needed to get a part at the hardware store while i was at school, so he was going to bike.

but as he walked down the stairs into the basement, he noticed something curious.  the wall, along the right side of the staircase, was black.  so he touched it.  and when he touched it - not only was it soaking wet to the touch - but the wall caved in when he touched it.  apparently, whoever installed the bathroom shower with it's fancy greek-blue tiles installed it right to the drywall.  which doesn't hold up to moisture well.  so there was a giant puddle in the basement, and so far it seems to just be dumb luck that we have been using the bathroom shower and it hasn't fallen in to the basement.  there could be mold growing, but we haven't been able to find out just yet so that's another post for another awesome day.

so as of today at, say, 3pm, the downstairs bathroom is strictly off-limits.  it's upstairs bathroom only for us, which of course isn't finished yet, so that's not really as great as it sounds.  but i found out about this at exactly the wrong moment (would there ever be a right moment to hear this news?), as i was feeling totally overwhelmed with school.  and it's worth mentioning that instead of eating lunch on our noon break today, i got in a fight with my dad.  so i was feeling especially awesome.

what i guess i'm trying to say is, lesson learned.  i will never again post that i'm so stressed and it can't get worse.  because it can and it did.  but it's kind of funny, because this was my longest streak yet- i haven't had a day off since columbus day weekend and i won't be done until monday.  so i don't know how many days total that is but it's quite a bit.  i thought i was handling it all well - lots of stuff going on at work, increased responsibilities with the campaign, the home stretch with school - but it all just came crashing down today.  i did some serious therapy-crying on my way home from class.

but to make it all better - my mom was waiting at our house for me when i got home :) we had wine and brainstormed ideas for the fancy new downstairs bathroom we'll have to renovate now.  and then we all went out for moules frites at indulge.

the bright side?  our next house project will be remodeling the bathroom... downstairs.  suggestions anyone?  also - moms make it all better.

til tomorrow when i update you on the UPSTAIRS bathroom...


18 November 2011

fill in the blank stressful-friday

guys.  it's been a rough day.  for real.  it was one of those days where nothing really went my way, and just when i felt like i couldn't possibly handle ONE MORE THING something else happens.  when everyone needs me to solve all their problems but i can't seem to solve my own.  it was a long one.  but finally, i am done with my last day of work before vacation.  


just some blanks tonight, school tomorrow and sunday, then it's vacation time.  i'll have most of the day monday to sleep in, clean the house, pack and prepare.  i love those kind of days.  now if only i would wake up tomorrow and it would be monday... 

1.   a nervous habit i have is   just one habit? picking at my cuticles.  twirling my hair.  fidgeting.  shaking my leg.

2.   something that makes me sad is  well, there is something, but i'm not going to make it public.  but it makes me sad from time to time.

3.  today i am thankful for  my upcoming vacation!  it is crazy stressful right now getting ready for the trip - but once that moment, my favorite moment, arrives it will all be worth it.  and i get to see my loving family, some amazing friends, and watch one of my favorite couples tie the knot.  nothing could be better.

4. my favorite room in my house is    my living room. it's the only room that's actually done - no paint, no decorations, nothing missing.  so i love hanging out there because it is what the rest of my house will feel like someday... 

5.  i can't stand  intolerance, racism or stereotyping of any kind.

6.  if i had an extra $100 to spend on whatever i wanted today i would  look for christmas presents!  i have picked out a few so far and can't wait to do more holiday shopping!  that being said i might also be a little selfish and spend this fake $100 on something for my house for the christmas cocktail party :)

7.  the last person i hung out with was  my girlfriend walker, who came over on wednesday night to drink wine, eat thai food and help me dye my hair.  high school style.  it rocked.

14 November 2011


nothing like some good italian comfort food. 
hi.  my name is alaina, and i stress eat.

it's true.  i think i've known this about myself for a while, but this semester it has become painfully obvious.  let's rewind a bit to january 2011.  just about 11 months ago, i decided rather than making any new years resolutions, i would set a few measurable (and reasonable) goals for myself.  one such goal was to cook a new recipe at least once a week.  not that hard.  and i'd say i stuck to it - at least until the summer.  in a 100+ year old house with no a/c, it's absolute hell to stand over a stove or turn on the oven.  so that kind of stopped.

but... then i started school.  and so the whole i'm-not-cooking-because-it's-hot thing turned into i'm not cooking.  because i'm too busy.  so now, when i cook, it's things that are kind of big, so we have leftovers and i don't have to do it again in another few days.  nice, right?  good wife right there.  and, being so busy and all, i've been skipping breakfast since this summer, which i know is a huge no-no.  and now life has just gotten busier and busier, so it's grabbing dinner on the way home and ordering in chinese when i'm way too exhausted to cook.  it's getting bad.  i mean, i ate a vegetarian egg roll at 10:30am today.

i should have known over the summer when i got my bridesmaid dress for em's wedding and when it came it was a little too... tight.  so i exchanged it and got the next size, and in the process saved $100 because the dress was then on sale.  so i figured it was a good thing.  well, when philip looked at me earlier this week and said, 'hey babe, have you tried on your bridesmaid dress?' well, that was a new low. between this stress eating thing and the holiday season... i need to practice some self control.  i think i'll go for my mom's suggestion of having a glass of wine instead of dinner when not too hungry.

to be honest, i've always had a fairly healthy body image.  i am not a big girl, but i have a few curves.  sure, my behind is big for a little white girl (but smaller than j.lo's).  but there are parts of my body that i like.  i never allowed a scale in our house, because i believe that if you like what you see, then why attach a number to it?  either you are happy or you aren't.  and since i am approaching the 'i am not happy' end of the spectrum, some changes will need to be adjusted to that theory here in the january 2012.

but here's hoping that if i keep stress eating, i could look like this:

'she wore her sexuality with an older woman’s ease, and not like an awkward purse, never knowing how to hold it, where to hang it, or when to just put it down.'
— zadie smith, white teeth
ps - this is from slaughterhouse 90210

and yes, the bridesmaid dress still fits. for now  :)

13 November 2011

the bathroom vol. 2: update iii

it's just that time of year.

it's hard to get out of bed in the morning.  it's cold.  it's dark.  you just don't want to do too much besides cuddle under the blanket.  that's how i feel lately (and apparently so does the mous, my cat).  so there hasn't been much going on house-wise for me.

but philip, on the other hand, is a MACHINE.  i know i married him, so i might be a bit biased, but he is so amazing.  he has made leaps and bounds on the bathroom project and i tell you what friends it is looking amazing.  here's a glimpse of what's been going on.

putting together our new vanity today!

instructions, piping, new tile... 

new wall color.

getting the sink on just right.

TWO sinks!  count 'em! 
we got started early today with the paint.  philip had already painted the walls but the trim still needed some help.  so i put on a few coats of killz to get rid any mold or mildew.  while letting that dry before the trim paint i was anticipating on painting, we ran to ikea!  whoooo!  i didn't get the legs for the vanity and it turns out we needed them, so off we went on a little trip.  and, of course, we picked up a few other goodies while we were there...

our new lamp in the living room! 
actually that was it.  or at least that is all i can show you now.  but once we got home, i made an awful discovery: we don't have any trim paint left from our paint party!  what the hell!  so now i have to figure out the shade we used and see if i can match it so we can have some consistency in this house.  so instead i did a little bit of fun decorating.  hooray!

new mantle arrangement.
other side of the mantle.

finally hung the frame philip got for his birthday! 

a GIFT WRAPPING station for the holidays! 

there's already some presents up there :)

picked up this gem yesterday - in our bedroom
from my favorite shop around!
so all in all, it was a strange weekend.  off friday, worked saturday, impromptu sleepover @ mom's saturday night, and bathroom/ikea all day today.  we expected the bathroom to be done tonight... but with an old house like this, when you start one project, three or four more pop up.  so we have to get ourselves some different pipes.  of course.  hopefully it will be done soon - our big new york trip is coming up!

hope you had as great a weekend as i did :)

til next time...

12 November 2011


whoa. super awesome day yesterday.  the magic of 11/11, right?

i had my first one-on-one yesterday morning (at 11am!).  i'm certain most of you don't know what that is, so i'll clue you in.  1:1s are something the obama campaign are trying to do with past supporters.  it's basically team leader or volunteer from the campaign sitting down with a supporter - or someone who isn't a supporter yet - and talking with them about their concerns, the issues that are important to them, and their ideas for how we can make 2012 a success.  at my phone bank on tuesday i scheduled my first 1:1, and so today i actually went out and hosted my first 1:1 as a co-team leader.  i was very, very excited.

i won't bore you with the whole details - they aren't important to the story anyway.  but when the man i was meeting was asked what his motivation was for coming out and meeting with someone, he said it was me.  he told me i had a great energy over the phone and i made it sound like it was something important to do, so he thought he'd come check it out.

now, that was awesome.  and it wasn't the 1:1 that necessarily made me feel so great, but the fact that i had empowered someone to feel like they could come out and make a difference in their community.  and i totally felt like i had finally found my calling.  i have been close for a while, but i think i'm really into this community organizing thing.  the feeling i had while sitting and talking about issues with two people in my community, about how we can make a difference, really got me going.  i've posted it before, but the thought of the world is run by those who show up once again came into my mind.  i want to be the person who shows up.  i want to be one of those people who helps other people get involved and turn their community, their state, their country into the kind of place they want it to be.  the ideas of helping our brothers and sisters in our communities is something that we talked a lot about - and, sure, some of it may have to do with our own political perspective - but the volunteer i met was talking about this ideology of helping people.  some people can be democrats, some can be republicans, some are independents or other parties, and a lot of those people feel like they can pick and choose.  fiscally conservative, socially liberal.  i hear it all the time.  but as this man spoke, he said that he feels that there are some candidates - in this case, conservatives - that just don't have the same worldview.  it's not an option to 'pick a side,' or just vote for certain issues.  for him, it was about finding someone who saw the world the way he did.  and i felt like i saw the world the same way this man did.  and i can't wait to have that feeling again.

i'll get off my soapbox now and go clean my house.  just had to share :)

11 November 2011

another friday off!

friends!  sorry the blog has taken a quite pathetic turn lately.  i'm in the last push - just 10 days until i'm on a plane to new york for my 10 day vacation.  thanksgiving, my family, miss emily's wedding... it doesn't get much better than that.  of course to enjoy all that i first have to survive one more work week and one more school-filled weekend (next weekend).  i have a midterm to take in the meantime, and when i come back from this trip it will effectively be december!  what the heck people!  at least i have today off to do some work and clean my house, before a big fancy chamber dinner tomorrow night.  this is my weekend to get caught up.  let's see if that actually happens :)

1.   my favorite new blog of the moment is  hello giggles! consistently hilarious.

2.   something i am thankful for is no school this sunday!  sleeping in!  

3.  something that made me laugh this week was me trying to stand up after bending down to grab something but stepping on my dress, so instead falling over on the ground.  in front of my staff.

4. an item that is currently on my wish list is someone to come paint my f*@$(%^ entryway.

5.  i am excited about five more days of work/school before a MUCH-NEEDED vacation to see some of the world's greatest people and my beautiful cousin's thanksgiving wedding!  i' got excited just typing that sentence!

6.  if i were a color i would be blue maybe, or yellow.  lately probably a deep, golden yellow... because it's bright and happy but not in an obnoxious way : )

7.  my favorite way to spend a chilly fall day is by drinking something warm and laughing with my husband. but lately i have been just doing homework.  lame.  

side note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend brooke today!  

08 November 2011

a dream realized

another quick post, because it's waaaaaay past my bedtime, and i'm blogging.

when people, especially young newlywed couples like us, go house shopping i'm sure they look for a lot in a house.  can i host christmas here?  are there enough bedrooms for a baby or two?  what are the schools like?  is this a decent commute to work for me?

but i don't quite think that far ahead.  all i could really think about when we bought the house, was about having friends over.  not in a real 'entertaining' type of way.  i'm not the girl who's always the hostess.  but rather creating a house where people felt at home, where we could have a friend or two or seven over and sit around our big dining room table.  in my imagination i always imagined it would be cold outside - we would have the candles and maybe even the fireplace lit, but definitely the candles on the dining room table.  we'd have wine, and we would sit and talk, whisper, laugh, tell stories, dream about the future and reminisce about the past around the table.

well, tonight that happened.  one of my very bestest girlfriends came over and we shared a bottle of wine and some pizza.  no, i didn't make the pizza, we ordered it.  but after my girlfriend left, and i was throwing my hair into a ponytail and pouring water into my coffee pot when i realized that i had just experienced what i had always imagined my house being.

and our house isn't perfect.  the bathroom is still torn up.  we haven't painted over 'the artery' yet.  the landscaping is nowhere near finished.  our bedroom is freezing in the winter and a sauna in the summer.  the granite in the kitchen is cracked where the previous owners didn't have it properly reinforced.  but it's a home.  and not only is it our home, but in a sense, it has become a home to those who come and spend time here.  and i couldn't love it any more if i tried, because it's everything i always wanted :)

06 November 2011

high high #4

i am happy to report that my high high of my weekend was my new class - organizational change agents.  i totally love it.  not nearly as labor-intensive as my last class.  we've had a lot of great discussions so far and there are some really interesting people in my class.  i am really loving going to school.  i came to that realization this morning after i treated myself to my usual morning pre-school latte, heading off on 25 south to class.  and i was looking forward to a few (ok, 8) hours of intelligent discussion.  when i leave class for the day, i really feel like i got something out of it, and not just closer to a degree.

i would write more but i am exhausted - i did homework all last night after class just so i could relax with philip, so intend to do just that.

but i have friday off for the holiday, so i plan on having some bathroom updates, or at least a clean house with some nice fall decorations up :)

how was your weekend???

04 November 2011

november blanks!

whoooooo!  it's my day off!  one, glorious day that will consist of meeting my advisor, sushi with my mom, shoe shopping for one miss emily's wedding in just a few short weeks, and taking care of my under-the-weather hubby.  but all the same it is MY day, my last day of rest until thanksgiving week.  yikes!  i start my new class - organizational change agents - tomorrow, and i'm a little bit antsy.  i have a few friends from my first class who will be returning but also some who won't be there.  but all in all this really signifies the beginning of the end of the semester.  is it possible?  have i almost made it???

ok, now to the good stuff...

1.   my favorite thing about this week was/is  that i worked so hard on my final paper in the last month that it was a relatively easy week, as far as oh-my-god-my-12-page-final-is-due-friday goes.  just some adding, some editing, some citing.  i've definitely done worse jobs of procrastinating.  guess i'm just growing up :) 

2.   colder weather makes me want to stay in bed, under my electric blanket.  or if i have to get up, at least downstairs by the fireplace with a mug of tea.

3.  three things that make me terribly happy as of late are the snow, my husband (always on the list), and new friends i'm making :)

4. if i could only wear one kind of shoe for the rest of my life, i'd choose this is a nonsense question.  why would i only be limited to one kind of shoe?  what kind of life is that?

5.  my personality type is  ENFP.  i've been wanting to take the myers briggs for a long time, but after looking at the different options i'm certain that's what i would be.  extrovert, intuitive, feeler, perceiving.    and what does that mean exactly?  from the MBTI website:
*warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. see life as full of possibilities. make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.*
yep.  sounds about right :)

6.  i have a serious problem resisting lately it's been starbucks, or really any warm beverage of any sort.  but every weekend i've had to get up and drag my sorry ass to school, i've treated myself to a latte on the drive to parker.  for my first six sessions it was a pumpkin spice, this next few sessions it will be cinnamon dolce... mmm.

7.  my favorite color to wear is brown.  really.  i love my earth tones.

well, have a good weekend friends, and i'll try to catch up with you all after my new class and update you on any bathroom progress we may share!  


02 November 2011

high high #3

today, my high point was peeing.

in the brand new toilet in our bathroom, that is.  and anyone who saw the old toilet knows why.  this one is so clean and shiny and, well, ignorable.  it's just a normal functioning water efficient toilet.  i never thought i would be so happy about a commode.  now i know this basically the opposite of my last high high, but i'm just so happy with how the bathroom is turning out and how quickly it's moving!  when we re-did the shower in the spring it seemed to take forever... this has been about a week or so.  lovely. 

here's a shot of the bathroom this evening:

ok, so it's mostly a shot of the new john.  but it's so nice to have a normal one.  and next up: painting!  we picked out some samples last night and i am happy to report painting should begin by this weekend.  stay tuned friends! 

stay warm out in that snow :) 

01 November 2011

thought of the day

just have to get through two more days... a snow storm tomorrow, meeting on thursday, before my day off friday.  i'll get there.