Photographic Evidence

Wow! I haven’t written in a month and it feels … weird. At first it was nice not to stress about writing a post during finals, and then it was also nice to enjoy my Christmas peacefully, but afterwards I kind of missed it. Really missed it, actually.

By the end of break I was itching to write about my adventures and, oddly enough, get back to my hectic life on campus. Sometimes the schoolwork can be overwhelming (It’s only been two days and I have so much homework!), but I think if I wasn’t as busy as I am, I wouldn’t be happy. I need activity in my life; whether it’s mental, physical, or emotional, I need something to be invested in.

I think that’s why I was so busy over break, and let me tell you, this was no resort in the Bahamas or skiing in the Alps!

But I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow. That would be immensely boring and I have enough pictures to make this much more interesting. However, I will explain a few events because not all pictures tell an accurate story!

Christmas at Grandpas

The Annual Ugly Sock Contest

My aunt started a crazy tradition of having an “ugly sock contest” and I usually got stuck with all the horrible socks. This year I got my revenge!

James

I think this was one of my favorite parts of break. My cousin who lives in New York City asked me to cat sit for her during New Year's weekend so I brought my friend Phoebe & Stacey along on the journey into the city and spent five glorious days exploring together.

 

Misty misty morning

At the Lego Store

The Intrepid Explorer!

Bethesda Terrace

Beware the Weeping Angels!

Our walk in Central Park turned into Let’s-Find-All-The-Places-Where-They-Filmed-Doctor-Who. Which was brilliant! I think we climbed on every boulder in the southern half of the park until we found the right one.

Superman Alex
While I visited my sister in chilly Massachusetts, I finished up this hat for my friend Alex.
Off to Sherlock...

You'll never believe where we went next!

At the ballThe Daintiest Thing Under A Bonnet Charity Ball hosted by the Baker Street Babes. A Sherlockian dinner and auction whose total proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project. (Photo Cred – Melinda Caric)

Silent Auction

Photo cred Melinda Caric

I got to spend a few days at home reading, doing laundry, and curling up with my cat, but it’s safe to say I had more fun running around with my friends than sleeping!

Somewhere in there I played Cards Against Humanity, saw Les Mis and Django Unchained (I can’t believe I got carded to buy my ticket), and almost made it to The Hobbit.

And that, my dear readers, pretty much wraps up my winter break! I hope you all had a wonderful time with your family, or away from work, or enjoying yourself in some small way. Here’s to a new year and a new semester!

See ya around guys!

Presenting: A Crafty Christmas

I sit here, sipping my Chai tea
letting smooth tones
of Christmas jazz
wash over me.
The foggy gray sky offers little hope
of wint’ry snow
or distraction
from final’s mope.
But in a bag I have a small yarn stash,
which will be used
to make presents
worth more than cash.

With finals drawing near, so too does Christmas. This means many things for college students:

  1. Shopping for gifts is a perfectly good procrastination excuse.
  2. More reasons to bake and eat cookies!
    Lemon Pomegranate CookiesPre baking - I think they look like jewels! Mocha Brownie Chocolate Chip Cookies
  3. It’s socially acceptable to wear dorky Christmas sweaters.
  4. (Free) Department dinners.
  5. Knitting comes in handy for whipping up last minute presents.

Ok, so the last one is kind of tailored to my own Christmas plans, but it’s more common than you think.

I grew up in a crafty household, and quickly learned that hand-made presents were cherished more than those I bought at the store. It sounds horribly cliche, and maybe I over do it when I paint my own “gift wrap” (paper bags, since I’m too lazy/broke to buy holiday paper), but I promise you those hand made gifts are worth all the hours you put into them.

I remember when I first learned counted cross-stitch and I spent several years churning out kitchy samplers and ornaments for my family. Shortly after that came knitting and crocheting which launched my brief career in scarves. There were also short stints of beading and I’m pretty sure everyone remembers those woven potholders!

Sooner or later everyone in my family received (or is receiving) something I made, and I don’t mean that in a pompous “I’m better than you are” way at all. It just kind of happened. And those hand made presents, no matter how young and inexperienced I was at the time, still hang on walls, get put on the Christmas tree, or are worn when the weather gets chilly.

You may not be the best artist (I know I’m not) or craftsman, but you don’t have to be. The only thing that matters is that you put care and (this is so cheesy) love into the production of the gift. I like to joke with my friends at knitting club that if I’m working on a project and I keep on messing up or the pattern is frustrating, I’ll put it down and let it rest so it doesn’t get bad karma. It sounds silly, but it’s true. You can really tell when knitters had a hard time with a project (tight stitches) and/or if they put a lot of effort into it (resilience despite a few mistakes).

Sometimes the process of making something means more than the end result, which I think a few of my fellow knitters are discovering!

Knitting ClubA Knifty Knitter!

No matter what you choose to make or buy, it’s the thought behind the gift that makes people smile.

Another Knifty Knitter!A Final Knifty Knitter!Teaching how to knit Socks

Brotherly Love and Christmas Tidings

“I’m going to kidnap your roommate”
“What?”

A few moments later there was a knock on my door and my neighbor/friend came in, picked me up by the legs, and proceeded to carry me to his room.

Ah yes, the joys of having brotherly friends.

Don’t worry, I was going to hang out in his room anyway, so I got him to put me down so I could get my knitting and homework. But honestly? I love having friends who can be totally goofy and are like a second family.

Actually, they’re more like my primary family for nine months out of the year. And that’s truly what gets me through each day, knowing there’s someone who has my back (or legs), and can relate to my experiences. It’s true I have two sisters, but there’s such a large age gap it’s like we’re in two different generations!

So, when I get back from breaks it’s like a little family reunion, everyone hugging each other, visiting our neighbors, and enjoying each others company.

In the case of this Thanksgiving break, our reunion consisted of freaking out over homework, decorating our Christmas tree and the rest of the room, and other prep for the holidays.

I won’t bore you with the first bit of our reunion, except to say that reading a book (for history class) about the Holocaust will make you 100 times more thankful and appreciative of the life you are currently leading.

As for the second bit:

I have now experienced the joy of a Christmas tree in my own place!!!

You know when people move into their first apartment and have to buy their own furniture, or celebrate their first (fill-in-the-blank) in their new “place” and it’s a really big deal? Big in terms of life steps and making your own way in the world. Well, that’s why I’m so excited about having a Christmas tree in my apartment.

Setting up the tree

Always the dramatic one...

Last year my roommates and I hung things up and baked sugar cookies we then decorated, but we didn’t have a tree.

The Christmas tree at my house is always one of my favorite childhood memories. We would get a real tree, strap it onto the roof of the car, I’d help my dad bring it into the house, set it up, and laugh at the cats’ reactions to its sudden appearance in our living room. We’d spend one night decorating it, filling it with ornaments passed down through the generations, pictures of family members young and old, ornaments made in kindergarten with bow-tie pasta and glitter paint. The whole house would smell like pine; it was wonderful. On Christmas morning candy canes and small presents would be hidden amongst the branches.

The tree in my apartment is significantly smaller and therefore can’t be host to as many surprises, but it still adds Christmas cheer to the room.

Fin!Close up

As my roommates and I decorated, we listened and sang along to Christmas music, everything from Jason Mraz’s “Winter Wonderland” to Bing Crosby’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I’ve also discovered the wonders of Pandora’s Folk Christmas playlist (my favorite artists so far: John Fahey and Windham Hill).

We’ve also been modifying the posters in our room; there will soon be a sleigh and reindeer traversing the Starry Night.

500 Days of ChristmasSheldon

I’m sure we’ll decorate more before we go home for the holidays, and I know I have to put some time into knitting Christmas presents for my roommates! I think I’ll be spending more time with my brotherly neighbors to work on that.

I want the presents to be a surprise!

Adventure Time!

If you ever visit my room, the first thing you’ll see is the “Room 213 Bucket List.”
Bucket List

My roommates and I made it at the beginning of the year because we kept on coming up with things to do but either a) forgot them in a week, or b) lost motivation to do them. This weekend we were finally able to check off a few boxes after our adventure to the Inner Harbor.

Our original plan was to visit the aquarium, as suggested by my roommate Erin, but their tickets were a bit pricey for the short amount of time we had available to us. Instead, we decided to meander around the Inner Harbor and let our stomachs lead us to an eventual destination.

Getting out of the apartment to explore the city was such a good idea. It was gorgeous. There was a light breeze, blue skies, and Christmas decorations were slowly changing the piers into a jungle of colored lights (Personally, I don’t want anything to do with Christmas till after Thanksgiving. But, I have to admit that the Inner Harbor decorations got me excited).

Crazy Roomies

USS Constitution

USS Constitution ~ I love maritime history!

As we walked along the crowded walkway, we snapped pictures of the beautiful sunset and sang along to the Christmas carols a street musician played on his saxophone.

It turns out the first destination we came to was Barnes and Noble.

Luckily, all my roommates love to read, so we killed an hour or two perusing the maze of books. I got side-tracked by a Hobbit display case (I’m so excited for the movie. Words cannot describe my enthusiasm for J.R.R. Tolkein and Martin Freeman). After many declarations of oohs and aahs in the fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, art, and knitting section, I finally decided I could indulge myself and buy Clash of Kings. Soon after, the fragrant smells coming from The Hard Rock Cafe next door caused us all to agree that it was time for dinner.

As we exited the store, a crowd gathered by one of the piers and a choir began to sing. I’m sure they sounded lovely, but our attention was drawn to Noodles and Co.

At Dinner

I had a lovely Chicken Pad Thai…

Chix Pad Thai

and we chatted about our Thanksgiving traditions over our food.

After a very filling meal, we walked around some of the shops and I got a bit of Christmas shopping done (shout out to Stacey: be prepared for an awkwardly awesome gift!).

By the time we returned outside, it had grown dark and Santa was making the rounds in a massive crowd of families by the pier. There was even snow confetti!!!

Snow Confetti!

And a giant pink poodle (I think it was a cotton candy vendor).

Pink Poodle

All the walking around and seeing the sights was fairly exhausting, so we headed home shortly thereafter to mugs of tea and lounging in pajamas. I broke out the new book and continued to work on some art homework.

All in all, it was a pretty good (and pretty tiring) weekend. I wonder what we’ll do next on the bucket list…..

Body as Machine