Saturday, September 29, 2012

This Saturday, there is a wedding.


Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars 
And pulled that rope tight?
Have you ever 
Held your breath 
And asked yourself 
Will it ever get better than tonight?
("Glitter in the Air," Pink)



(photo  taken by Chele, edited by Andie Smith)

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 1 Week

I had grand delusions of posting some wedding-related (specific to ours) trivia questions, with the answers coming post-event. Delusions because no bride has time to dream this sort of thing up a week before throwing a huge party, never mind one that is juggling some last minute changes and a making a 900-mile trip to her own Big Day.

Suffice to say I am stressing about some things, whipping together the final details, packing for a week in Virginia, coordinating between vendors, and very much ready for this day to be here. I will just share the trivia and details...later.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 2 Weeks

When I was a little (and not-so-little) girl, Gram used to tell me that I wasn't allowed to date until I was 29 and that I couldn't get married until I was 35. With hindsight and all that, I have many times wished I had listened to that first part. I could have saved myself a lot of hard lessons. However, it occurred to me that when we say that 'we do,' I will be 13 days shy of turning 36 years old.

Well played, Gram.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

I Watch TV: 2011-2012, Finale (Part Four of Four)

Last one! Last one!

I've gone through the three major networks already, which leaves the likes of FOX, Bravo, Showtime, AMC and TNT. I only watch a smattering of shows on these channels, even combined, so this should be quick!

Fringe (season four): After an...odd third season, Fringe was back with a vengeance for season four. I loved the additional depth of the characters. Even though this show regularly freaks me out (I only watch during daylight hours!) and often confuses the heck out of me, what with the jumping between universes and occasionally both forward and backward in time, with a side of foreseeing the world as it *might* be, I still look forward to seeing where our fearless team will go next. I always leave an episode with more questions (like what is the deal with Nina or is it not Nina, but "Nina"??), but the writing and the acting is top-notch, so rather than feeling frustrated, I just want more. My favorite part of season four, though, was then romance between Peter and Olivia adding a whole new dimension, this time of the emotional sense, rather than the literal. Bring it, season five! Drop my jaw!

Favorite characters: Olivia Dunham. Peter Bishop. Walter Bishop.

Best episodes: Wallflower. The End of All Things. A Short Story About Love.

Alcatraz (season one): FOX, you break my heart. Alcatraz was fun and exciting. It was CSI meets Fringe with a side of Person of Interest during the Mad Men era. Even with that blend of similarities to other shows, it was unlike any other show on tv. It was intriguing the way they wove the story, leaking out just enough new details to lead you into the next episode. There were no real stand-alone episodes, because each new story tied into the bigger picture. And now we'll never fully know what that bigger picture was going to be, because just like that, FOX pulled the plug. (I don't deal well with lack of resolution, in case that isn't obvious, and they left off on a whopper of a cliffhanger.)

Favorite characters: Dr. Diego Soto. Lucy Banerjee.

Best episodes: Guy Hastings. The Ames Brothers. Webb Porter. Tommy Madsen.

Top Chef (season nine): This is the one and only reality/competition show I watch. I have such a love-hate relationship with it. I hate the whiny, dramatic chefs, preferring those with a little swagger and a sense of humor. I adore Padma and Tom. I love all the twists to the challenges, but I hate when my favorite chefs are on the chopping block at Judges Table. Hated the Last Chance Kitchen catch they added this season. The show just sucks me in.

Favorite characters: Not so much contestants, but in addition to my favorite judges, Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi, I was rooting Paul and Greyson. (Yay, Paul won!)

Best episodes: Restaurant Wars is always my favorite challenge.

Dexter (season six): This season was strange. I didn't like Dexter being so unsure of himself. It left too many opportunities for error in judgment. The Doomsday Killer story got off to a very slow start, even though I thought the theme, based on the book of Revelation, had amazing potential It was almost as if Dexter's own uncertainty spilled into the development of the story itself. The first half of the season felt hesitant to me, like it was trying to be something it wasn't. What intrigued me more than Doomsday was the thread of Louis. It seemed to fly under the radar, almost completely ignored. I hope they don't let this one fade away, unexplored, because I have a ton of questions, mostly of the "What is his deal?" and "Why??" varieties. I am almost more interested in that than in what happens when we get back to Dexter and Debra in the church.

Favorite characters: Dexter Morgan.

Best episodes: Horse of a Different Color. This Is the Way the World Ends.

Mad Men (season five): This was the first season of Mad Men that I have "watched live" and it blew my mind. I am still reeling from everything that happened. It was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish, with brilliant acting, stellar writing, layers upon layers of details, and so much upon which to reflect. Parts of it I hated, not because it was poorly done, but because it was such difficult material done so well. Mad Men is one of those shows I think about long after it ends.

Favorite characters: Joan Holloway Harris. Peggy Olson. Don Draper.

Best episodes: Christmas Waltz. The Other Woman.

Dallas (season one): This is a show to which I have many sentimental ties. I sat between my Gram and Gramp on Friday nights as JR and Bobby went head to head, Miss Ellie pleaded with them to stop the fighting and Cliff Barnes connived, schemed, and generally drive JR out of his mind. My eyes were covered during moments inappropriate for little girls (not that I would have understood anyway), but I remember Miss Ellie's kidnapping and "who shot JR?" and the whole dream sequence reveal. What I mean by all that is this revisitation of something holding so much nostalgia for me was either going to go very well or very poorly. I had no choice, though, but to watch and find out. I couldn't have been more pleased. It's pure fluff, a nighttime soap filled with unbelievability and drama and so many tangled webs, you could spend the entire season trying to unravel them, only to find out everything you know is not at all as it appears at even second or third glance.

Favorite characters: JR Ewing. JR's eyebrows. Christopher Ewing.

Best episodes: The opening sequence with the theme song (it takes me back every single time and yes, I stop to give it my full attention--how they handled this detail was a major factor in whether this series reprise was going to work for me at all). Enemy of My Enemy. Family Business.

**************************
Part One (ABC)
Part Two (NBC)
Part Three (CBS)

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

My friends...

...I can email one of you with my daily Virtual Disney Visit Itinerary and you will jump right into the conversation, fully invested, without ever once thinking I am out of my mind. Our spins on the Peoplemover with Dole Whips in hand make some days more bearable than I could ever express. Thank you for taking the time to imagine, discuss, listen, offer and rant with me, no matter the topic. I have you to thank for whatever shred of sanity that remains.

...One of you stretches me far beyond my comfort zone. Everyone needs that person in their life, if they intend to grow, and yet you never judge me when I take the stretching at my own pace. You are the yin to my yang. My opposite but still my equal. We have laughed more over long-standing jokes and "remember that time..." than I do with anyone else. You are the family I choose for myself, because you understand the importance of giving back as much as you receive, and I know you've got my back. There's no one else with whom I would rather balance out the universe.

...To one of you I say "Me too!" and you always bounce back "Of course." Or perhaps it goes the other way. Your kind heart, generosity, honesty, and the fairness with which you treat others remind me that good people exist in this world, but it is your wicked sense of humor and deadpan sarcasm that may be my most favorite, because even though life has not always played kindly with you, you never lose them. Attitude is everything and I admire you for that.

...One of you always has a kind or encouraging word for me. You may not realize that the well-placed Scripture you share or the gentle reminders you give have the impact that they do, but they ground me when I need it most. You are one of the most sincere people I know and you remind me that is a quality to which  I give high value, not only in others, but in myself.

...There are people with whom you can pick up immediately where you left off, whether you "left off" an hour ago or some time last spring, and one of you is exactly this sort of person. I love your ability to resume the conversation without needing to recap, as if you had merely tapped a pause button where we last left off. It cracks me up. But more than that, you aren't afraid to bare it all, emotionally or mentally. Your emotions and reactions may be volatile and intense, but you certainly own them, good or bad. And you work harder on fixing the areas that need work than most people actually see or give you credit for. You've grown tremendously over the past year and I am so proud of you.

...I never had a little sister (or, well, any sister), but I imagine that if I did, you'd be her. I love that you make me think before I speak, that you ask me questions that force me to pause and evaluate my own actions before responding. You think I give you all this one-sided advice but I am actually learning through self-evaluation. So few people create the proper relationship for this to happen--most of the time we want or need someone to listen, to nod along, to offer the appropriate platitudes, and that certainly has its place--but rest assured you are not the only one growing through our exchanges, and I appreciate that you give me the opportunity to not only be your friend but allow me the chance to see myself more clearly.

...One of you is has the ability to understand me without actual words. We can have a conversation consisting solely of fragmented sentences spoken in gasps between gales of laughter, the kind that makes your stomach hurt like a thousand crunches and tears stream down your face til you can't breathe, and no one needs to explain what we're talking about, we just know. When our friendship was new, I was at a crossroads, and we survived it. And we've survived many more since then. I know you are willing to go to battle with me, to say the hard things gently but firmly, and to kick the butt of anyone who makes me cry...and then take me out for cake. Because really? Cake frosting is the cement of friendship. Everyone should know this.

...I am fairly sure one of you was separated from me at birth. We process things the same way. We have nearly identical reactions and preferences (I say "nearly" because we disagree on a few things, like ink color and, more recently, a particular fruit). You have a firsthand knowledge of what it feels like to be me, even though the paths we've taken in life are far from identical. It just seems, at our very core, we are alike in the most fundamental ways, in both strengths and weaknesses. When it feels like I am the only one, that no one else could possibly "get it"...there you are, and you do.

...To those of you who take the time to communicate, to share laughter, who make the effort, who listen, who make my world richer for what you bring, who take me as I am (a thankless task many times, I fear), you are not thanked often enough for simply being here, allowing your circle to overlap mine and walking beside me each time our paths merge. You make this "broken road" beautiful in the very midst of its flaws and shadows.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Watch TV: 2011-2012, Finale (Part Three of Four)

Oof. September. New tv on the horizon (as in already showing on my DVR schedule.) Now I really need to get with the program (pun unintended!). Planning a wedding is really taking up a lot of my play time.

Up next: CBS.

Disclaimer: You shouldn't read if you don't want to risk spoilers! Although, seriously, if you haven't watched yet? That's kind of on you.

The Good Wife (season three): What can I say about one of my favorite shows currently on tv? It's smart and tells a great story. And not quite your typical legal show, because instead of being about what goes on with the case, it's more about the dynamics of the law firm, and of course, inside the home of our main character, Alicia Florrick. Some very curious things took place at Lockhart-Gardner last year. Alicia was busy sorting out her feelings about Kalinda. Will was busy sorting out what to do with himself when he got suspended. Diane was busy sorting out the finances as the firm struggled. And I was busy sorting out my feelings with Chandler Bing Matthew Perry being a not so nice guy. I know the fate of the firm and what will happen with Alicia and Peter are supposed to be the big questions, but personally I am dying to know what Kalinda's big secret is and who is pounding on her door while she waits with a gun in her lap.

Favorite characters: Alicia Florrick. Kalinda Sharma. Eli Gold.

Best episodes: What Went Wrong. The Dream Team.

Blue Bloods (season two): I look forward to this show every week. Tom Selleck and Donny Wahlberg play two of my favorite characters on tv right now. Each week, I can't wait to see Frank make the best decisions for his city and his family, even when they're really hard, and to see Danny "Danny Reagan" some perp upside his punk head. I feel like I know the Reagans. I can't wait to sit down to Sunday dinner with them again.

Favorite characters: Frank Reagan. Danny Reagan.

Best episodes: The Job. Reagan V. Reagan.

The Big Bang Theory (season five): I'm not sure I could ever pick a favorite season of BBT. They make me laugh again and again. Will I be watching season six? Let's just say we watched the reruns all summer long and still laugh like lunatics. This may well be the funniest sitcom I've watched since Friends went off the air.

Favorite characters: Leonard Hofstadter. Amy Farrah Fowler. Sheldon Cooper. -- It's so difficult for me to pick a favorite, because much like Friends, the dynamic of the cast would be sorely lacking with even one character missing. It still blows my mind that they seamlessly added both Amy and Bernadette so late in the game and made them integral to the overall success of the show.

Best episodes: (Yes, six of them. And you have no idea how difficult it was to narrow down even that far.) The Infestation Hypothesis. The Good Guy Fluctuation. The Isolation Permutation. The Shiny Trinket Maneuver. The Weekend Vortex. The Stag Convergence

Person of Interest (season one): Quite possibly my favorite new show of 2011-2012 (that survived the ax, anyway). I love the intelligent humor, the sarcasm, the unflappable deadpan way Mr Reese speaks to everyone, the unexpected twists. This show is suspense and action at is suspended-disbelief finest. You can't look away or miss an episode (my DVR and I got in a *big* fight over that one) without losing crucial details and pieces of the bigger story. You know there was a jaw-dropping finale and I will be right there to see what happens next!

Favorite characters: John Reese. Harold Finch.

Best episodes: There were about five great episodes in addition to these, but they saved the best of the best for the final two of the season. No Good Deed. Firewall.

How I Met Your Mother (season seven): This was a rather volatile season, for a sitcom. The obvious humor was tempered with some difficult news for Robin to process and the sweetness of Lily and Marshall's new baby. Way back in the first episode, T predicted that Barney's bride would be Robin. I feel like we ultimately spent the season on Barney's journey instead of Ted's. As much as I enjoy this show, even I am starting to feel the angst of "when will it be Ted's turn??" Perhaps that is the intended climax of the show, to tap into the moment each (or most) of us ask ourselves this very question. I don't know. But I am starting to feel anxious for Ted now and also, I WANT TO KNOW WHO SHE IS ALREADY!!

Favorite characters: Ted Mosby. Lily Aldrin.

Best episodes: Tick Tick Tick. The Rebound Girl.

2 Broke Girls (season one): At first, I wasn't sure about this one. It was raunchy and stiff (which would easily lead to a raunchy joke). Even the parts that were funny ended up feeling more forced and uncomfortable than a laugh track. But I reminded myself to let the kinks (and another desperate raunchy joke) work themselves out, if they could. By the end of its rookie season, I felt like maybe we have...something. Maybe. Season two will tell. I just hope we don't go the way of...well...hold that thought, we'll get to it next.

Favorite characters: More than the actual characters themselves, I like the dynamic between Caroline Channing and Max Black. (I still can't figure out the purpose of Han, Sophie and Oleg though. Other than awkward filler.)

Best episodes: And the Rich People Problems.

Two and a Half Men (season nine): leading from my comment on 2 Broke Girls... There have been very few shows, in my history of watching television, that I have been unable to see through to the end, even when the final season(s) lacked the same "oomph" as the beginning. If this show was depressing and strange during Charlie Sheen's final season, it lost its mind without him. It went from raunchy and shameless to downright twisted, crossing more lines than a kickoff return out of the end zone. It wasn't even shocked-snicker-funny anymore. Just gross, offensive and downright disturbing. We toughed it out through the whole season, hoping they would turn things back around. We were wrong. And we won't be back for more.

Favorite character: Kathy Bates as the spirit of Charlie Harper.

Best Least offensive episode: Why We Gave Up Women.

Unforgettable (season one): Showing some interesting potential right out of the gate, I slowly found myself getting sucked in by the curious story of the main character who can remember every detail of everything...except the murder of her sister, when they were children. It spent the whole year "on the bubble," partially because it doesn't have the acting power of The Good Wife or Mad Men, but there is sarcasm, dry humor, and plenty of suspense. Not to mention the dangling clues from a serial killer offering Carrie his help and the fact that they nailed the oh-my-gosh-SO-close-to-some-answers about Carrie's missing past in the season finale...only to have CBS drag its feet, ultimately canceling it. While I fumed, because seriously, I hate when there are unresolved cliffhangers, a couple of other networks kicked its tires. I watched out of the corner of my eye to see if Lifetime or TNT might take a flyer on it, because I would have followed it to cable, and then CBS decided that if others were showing real interest, perhaps they ought to reconsider. They yanked the show back off the market and slotted it for a sophomore season. Now I just have to wait for it to come back in the summer of 2013 and hope that too much time hasn't passed for it to have any following whatsoever. There's always the benefit of there being absolute garbage for real tv during the summer offering little in the way of ratings competition, I guess.

Favorite characters: Carrie Wells. Al Burns.

Best episodes: With Honor. Golden Bird. Carries' Caller. The Man in the Woods.

The Mentalist (season four): After a great season three, season four disappointed me a little. As a mostly light-hearted crime drama series with a side of clever humor, I expect the unorthodox, but this season felt fragmented to me. It just never seemed to find the cohesiveness previous seasons had enjoyed and that made it difficult for me to feel immersed in the story. So though the fourth season was largely unforgettable to me (not to be confused with the Unforgettable I just finished reviewing), I will still be back for more of Patrick Jane's mischievous escapades as he hunts for his nemesis, Red John.

Favorite characters: Patrick Jane.

Best episodes: The Crimson Hat.

CSI: New York (season eight): When word came down that they were downsizing the CSI franchise, I held my breath, waiting to see which one would be given the ultimate death sentence. Of the three, New York is my favorite and I felt relieved to hear it would survive. I especially liked this season because we got to dip a little into what makes Mac tick, his past, and his life outside the office--something we don't get from any of the CSIs. I'm looking forward to more of that.

Favorite characters: Mac Taylor. Lindsay Monroe Messer.

Best episodes: Indelible. Air Apparent. Flash Pop.


CSI: Miami (season ten): Horatio Caine has repeated himself for emphasis for the last time, folks. He's repeated himself for the last time. I've felt that this show had kind of reached its end by the time its ninth season was coming to a close and the tenth confirmed it for me. I still watched but this show hardly glued me to my seat. It had become background noise for me. I just couldn't connect with the characters anymore. There was no adrenaline when they were in trouble. I think that is the death knell for a show of this nature, because if it doesn't make your heart thump when the characters are in a do-or-die situation, there is no way you're invested in the outcome. Even the introduction of a serial killer arc (my typical weakness) didn't reel me in. The final season flatlined for me.

Favorite characters: Calleigh Duquesne.

Best episodes: Last StrawRest in Pieces.


CSI (season twelve): Of the three CSI's, I have always found this one the most bizarre. You just never know what you're going to get. Aliens? Creepy guys in skin tight leather suits covered in zippers? But some of the most riveting serial killer acrs have come from this show, so I keep watching, never knowing when the next great story line will emerge. The way this season ended, it looks like it could be a "lucky thirteen" coming up!

Favorite characters: Catherine Willows. Dr Al Robbins.

Best episodes: CSI Down. Genetic Disorder. Ms Willows Regrets. Tressed to Kill.

Rules of Engagement (season six): Every time I think there's no way they will renew this show or that it will simply disappear into a hiatus from which it never returns, they bring it back again. It's not a bad show, but it isn't a great one either. It's just enough funny that it keeps me watching, but it's lost some of its luster. Even in a sitcom, I like my characters to evolve and deepen, but they just never seem to get there on Rules of Engagement, leading to occasional moments of hilarity but never even near the ballpark of Big Bang Theory. They claim it will be back mid-season again. We'll see... (Does David Spade ever not play a douche? Seriously.)

Favorite characters: Jeff. Timmy.

Best episodes: Nature CallsAfter the Lovin'.

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Part One (ABC)
Part Two (NBC)

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 3 Weeks

Nervous.
Excited.
Overwhelmed.
Busy.
Organized.
Anxious.
Thrilled.
Content.
Frustrated.
Stumped.
Pleased.

Ready.

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The Girl on the Other Coast: September 8, 2012

My friend G, who lives (shockingly) on "the other coast," and I have decided to collaborate on a little blog project. Every other week, we are going to compose "tandem posts"...the catch being, I am going to post hers over here and she's going to post mine over there! We've both been feeling a little overwhelmed lately and our blogging has suffered as a result, so this should keep it fun as well as having the other person playing a motivation factor. We thought we would shoot for every other Saturday and see how it goes. They won't be in the same format each time. In fact, you'll never know quire what we've cooked up! Without further adieu...

Meet G. =)


Best Shower Song: When I was in choir (for 8 years) I would always practice my music in the shower. What can I say? There are great acoustics in there! My favorite songs though? The Star Spangled Banner, Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You, and O Holy Night (during Christmas). Like I said, great acoustics.

Best Vice: I don't know if I have a vice. But prosciutto ALWAYS makes me feel better. Always.

Best Thrill: I love Disneyland!! I'm super jealous that Dawn can go to WDW as often as she wants. Clearly I need to visit. I'm just saying. Honestly, I literally can't fall asleep the night before going to The Happiest Place on Earth. I'm like a little kid just giddy with excitement. Dawn...do you agree?

Best Recent Read: I'm still working on "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.

Best Friend: Jen and I have known each other for 18 years (18 years!). I also consider Scott my best friend. I have a few really good friends as well which makes me feel blessed.

Best Hidden Talent: Hmm...this is a tough one. Is sarcasm a talent? Because I'm fabulous at that! I taught myself how to play the piano. It's true! I took a music class in 7th grade and learned the scale and how to read music. The rest is history. I don't really share that with people because I'm afraid they'll ask me to play for them and it makes me nervous. So shh...

Curious what my answers were? (Humor me. Pretend you're curious.) Take a virtual voyage to Little Italy and find out!

***************************************
(edit to add my answers)


Best Shower Song: I only sing (alone) in the car! In the car, it's a dead tie between "Her Eyes" by Pat Monahan and "Hello World" by Lady Antebellum. People can probably hear me outside my car. I'm going to just keep pretending my car is a soundproof bubble
.
Best Vice: I don't know if it this technically falls under the dictionary definition of a vice, but I must have some form of dessert after dinner, every single day, even if it's just a couple of M&Ms. If I skip dessert, something ominous is most certainly afoot.

Best Thrill: I am the most boring human being alive, so for me, it would be riding Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom. Ask me again after saying marriage vows though. ;-)

Best Recent Read: "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. But that isn't the best book I've *ever* read.

Best Friend: Oh, see this is too hard. I don't have one best friend. I am so very lucky that I have a small circle of people who fall under that category. Not counting T, who is a category unto himself, Nichole, Daniel, Alison and Heather are the people for whom I would do anything, the people who already *have* done anything for me.

Best Hidden Talent: Play a commercial with a celebrity voice over and I can tell you who it is. Sometimes, T tells me I am crazy, so we look it up. I honestly can't remember the last time I was wrong!

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: August 2012

A photo of me:

I love that Nichole took this of me!

1) Candle scents this month:
French Vanilla. Juicy Peach. Black Cherry. Pineapple Cilantro. Midnight Oasis. Seaside Holiday. Pink Sands. Vanilla Lime.

2) What I am reading this month:
I finished The Help (Kathryn Stockett). Wow. What a powerfully written book. I am going to leave it at that, for now. I am still working my way slowly through Knuckler: My Life with Baseball's Most Confounding Pitch (Tim Wakefield with Tony Massarotti), just savoring it as I go. This has been a challenging year to be a Sox fan and I am appreciating the opportunity to feel good about *something* related to my team. I needed a couple of light, fun "airplane reads" for my trip to San Francisco. One was the first book in a series, Million Dollar Baby (Amy Patricia Meade), and its Depression Era light-hearted mystery feel was exactly right. I will be seeking out the subsequent books in this series for sure. I really enjoyed the writing, the plot, and the characters. I also checked out a Mary Higgins Clark I hadn't read before--I'll Walk Alone wasn't a bad book, but, having read many of her other books, this wasn't Clark's best by any means. I started The Murderer's Daughters (Randy Susan Meyers), but I only got about 85% of it finished before it was due back to the library, so I will have to re-borrow it to finish. I am currently working on another cozy mystery, the first book in another series, called Homicide in Hardcover (Kate Carlisle).

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
"Overwhelmed" by Tim McMorris. "Hold On" by Michael Buble. "The Nearness of You," by Norah Jones.

4) Movies I saw:
Not a single one. I've been torturing myself with abysmal Red Sox baseball, cleaning out the remaining television shows on the DVR in preparation for the new season approaching, and watching more Boston Legal on DVD.

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
Felix Hernandez pitching a perfect game against Tampa Bay.

6) Something yummy I made:
Nothing worth noting. We really need to get back to trying some new recipes again. Dinner menu ruts are no fun.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Alioto's (Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco). Hyde Street Seafood (San Francisco). Left Bank Brasserie (San Jose, CA). First Crush (San Francisco). butterfly (Pier 33-Alcatraz Landing, San Francisco). House of Banquet (traditional dim sum, Richmond District, San Francisco). Olive Garden.

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Ice cream sandwiches.
2. Cool weather in San Francisco.
3. Ghirardelli chocolate (which doesn't top See's but it's a very pleasant runner-up).
4. My basil is growing like crazy! Big news for a girl with a Wanted poster in the plant world, for the notorious Black Thumb Murders.
5. A Friday trip to Animal Kingdom on August 31. My plan worked to perfection: out-of-state tourists are low when kids first go back to school, and while I knew the locals would be out in droves for the Labor Day weekend, on Friday, kids were still in school and adults were working, but *I* had a coupon (won at our last company Christmas party) for Friday off to make a four-day holiday weekend. Score! Light (for Disney) crowds and a bonus day off from work!

9) A goal I had for this month:
Buy wedding rings - mission accomplished!

10) This month I looked forward to:
Vacation in San Francisco with Nichole and Daniel.

11) Something I want to be thankful for this month:
Being disciplined enough to have a savings account. While it's no fun to make a withdrawal, after working so hard to build it up, it is very nice to not stress about where the money will come from to put a new transmission into T's truck. The balance may dip a little, but we'll build it back up again.

12) A photo I took this month:

That photo above of me? This is what I was seeing. (Ok, that was a really fun way to pair those photos...says the photo geek.)

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Saturdays Are for Weddings: 4 Weeks

Last Sunday, at church, the theme of the sermon was marriage. This obviously is something that caught my ear. T and I have a pretty even keel relationship. We hardly ever argue or disagree. Not because we're perfect people, but because I think we're pretty good at communicating with each other. One of the things the pastor said was that every couple should have a good fight before they get married, just to prove you can work through stormy waters and come out the other side.

There is more to a good relationship, though, than surviving a big argument. What I took most to heart is that a good marriage is found not in what you get from your spouse but what you give them. If you're in a strong relationship, you don't need to be selfish, because while you're giving to them, they're giving back to you. It's not always an even trade off; sometimes one person needs a little more -- a little more help, a little more grace, a little more compassion -- but in the end, it all balances out. You should also be fully invested in celebrating their joys, easing their burdens, and building them up...not in demanding all the glory, wanting your life to be made easier, or tearing them down because they haven't lived up to lofty, unrealistic expectations. Human beings, even those who love you deeply, will disappoint you now and then. Starry-eyed romantic love doesn't want to see or acknowledge this, but the sooner you learn to spend less time nit-picking their weaknesses and more time appreciating their strengths, the stronger your relationship will grow deep roots.

I think one of my favorite parts of our relationship is that we already do many of these things. I make a conscious effort to thank T for little things he does, not because he looks for the praise, but because I want him to know that I see and that I don't take it for granted. And for all the times I am less than pleasant, less than motivated, less than the person I ought to be, I am lucky enough that T doesn't dwell on those things. No, I won't try to pretend we're perfect. No good comes from that kind of delusion. But it sure was nice to hear these foundation cornerstones listed and to realize these are things we already do far more often than not, and when we fail, we aren't afraid to apologize and try harder. Affirmation that this decision to commit to one another is not one we're entering lightly or without a solid base upon which to build.

That's a pretty good thing to know as we enter the final weeks leading up to the wedding.

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