Continuing the January theme of “newness” and “making positive changes” and “taking risks that don’t involve bodily harm,” after four years of sticking with the same blog layout, I’ve updated to a sleeker and cleaner look. Which sounds as if I spent all morning designing and coding but actually means I simply slicked on the “Your theme has a new version” button that WordPress annoyingly insisted I pay attention to. And I’m glad I did. I like this minimalist & organized format — it obscures the fact that in real time I have stacks of newspapers, magazines and books threatening to topple over and take over my workspace and I can’t decipher the bottom item on my scribbled grocery list. I need to add “live up to the image of your blog layout” to my rapidly decimated list of New Year’s resolutions. Inspired by the one-click success of trying something new, blogging-wise, I then decided to update all my various profiles scattered throughout cyberspace — you know, those bio forms you filled out back when you were proud of your Beta Club presidency and those photos you posted back when you were a size four. Those days are never coming back, so why enshrine them in Interwebs permanency? In other attempts at newness, I’ve started a new job as managing director of our local community theatre — have I mentioned that theater folks are a wacky bunch and I seem to be fitting right in? — and I somehow have gained 5 pounds over the past two weeks. Could it be that my steady holiday diet of eggnog, sugar cookies, Chex mix and See’s chocolates is responsible?
Happy New Year! Even though the Tournament of Roses parade (and I guess a football game?) isn’t on until tomorrow so it really doesn’t feel like New Year’s morning, this is the first day of 2012. So far I’ve celebrated by (thinking about) a healthy breakfast and (thinking about) doing an exercise DVD, so I count that as a successful year so far. And since we”d already enjoyed the big-city lights of Nashville, Tennessee, this weekend, husband JP and I stayed home for the New Year’s Eve countdown. We chased some screw-top bubbly wine we’d unaccounatably found in the back of the fridge with some yummy Christmas chocolates, threw glitter out on the front porch and alternated being horrified by the (literal) spectre of a propped-up spray-tanned Dick Clark and being sympathetic with the Mobile, Alabama, TV hosts trying to make the anti-climatic Moon Pie drop and the lackluster crowd seem somehow festive. It’s a tough job. Bye-bye, 2011. You brought us adventures, opportunities, a boy grandbaby and much love and joy. However, you also brought us a few tears, fears and heart-stopping moments. Overall, though, you were pretty balanced. Here’s to 2012 — and we’re eating as many black-eyed peas as we can today.
Happy New Year’s Eve! Go forth and have fun tonight. With safety, please. And if you decide to stay home — whether you’re hosting a crowd or a romantic dinner for two — you’ll need something special and sparkly to drink. Several friends shared their favorite bubbly cocktail recipes in the food story I did this week for the TimesDaily. Check it out — it’s not too late to run to the store and stock up on beverage supplies. I did leave out one recipe from my friend Steve, who started off his list of ingredients with “Get some moonshine.” I love the South!
And then take a minute to read my weekly newspaper column for inspiration on making resolutions. Oh my goodness — I could fill pages and pages with promises to do things better. But then it would take me so long to sit down and write all my resolutions down that I wouldn’t have the time to actually, you know, do them. That’s my excuse, anyway. Like right now. I really should go out and walk before it starts raining. But it looks like it might rain any minute. And it’s windy. And cold, maybe. So I’ll just stay inside where it’s nice and warm and dry and THINK about going out to walk. I mean, that’s almost as good, right???
This past week I did get a headstart on one of my resolutions, which is to write more fiction. Of course, friends and family will argue that my newspaper columns already have touches of fiction but they’re all good sports and don’t mind that I might perhaps slightly edit things they say and/or do — for journalism’s sake, of course. Except for almost-3-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable, whose adorability is an absolute fact that needs no exaggeration whatsoever.
Welcome to the first Saturday of 2009 and the ninth day in Cathy’s New Year’s Countdown for a tip on dismantling Christmas at your house. Look, even if you are one of those wonderfully organized people who already have (almost) all the holiday things wrapped, packed, labeled and back in the closet where they belong, you probably have a snowperson here and a Christmas candle there, still hanging around. And of course all the rest of us are staring at the tree that needs taking down today — or is that only me? Anyway, I admit I’m only so-so at housekeeping and downright bad at organization and in no way should I go around dispensing advice on these subjects, but I do love that wonderful feeling when everything is clean and uncluttered and efficient. Granted, because I’m inherently lazy and content to live like a slob, I don’t enjoy that feeling very often. But I know how to get it without much effort, so here’s a quick and easy route to post-holiday satisfaction: When you finally take it all down and put it all up, challenge yourself to 1) Throw/give away three things you don’t use but keep in storage anyway (this is where you can guiltlessly get rid of all those ugly Santas your aunt keeps giving you) and 2) Reorganize so you can easily put your hands on the essential part of your family holidays (the stockings, the Christmas CDs, the Advent calendar) that you spent two weeks trying to find in 2008. Do these things, and I promise you December 2009 will be a little less stressful. Not much, but a little. And isn’t that good enough? Check back for day no. 10 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown.
Welcome to the eighth day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown. Look, I promise you that it is not too late to make your 2009 resolutions. (Go to http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090102/ARTICLES/901020301 to find out why.) You were nursing a headache busy yesterday, anyway, so make today the day. Need inspiration? Go to your favorite bookstore and find new guides and how-to’s for every problem you’ve got. Browsing in good bookstores is a joy and treat you deserve — what better way to start 2009? (A friend told her book-loving granddaughter she’d take her to Barnes & Noble for her birthday but they only had a couple hours and her granddaughter said, “Only two hours? That’s not much time!”) My motivating picks for 2009 are “A Year of Wine” — which explores the idea of drinking wine by the season and packs in lots of wine info — because I want to stop wandering around wine shops aimlessly and choosing bottles only by the cute labels; “Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design” — a workbook for identifying and celebrating your personal style — because I have none; “Great Hair,” by What Not To Wear’s Nick Arrojo — who shows you how to choose styles and products based on your hair’s texture — because my hair is a disaster; and “Get Positively Beautiful,” by WNTW’s Carmindy — who believes in enhancing the positive instead of hiding the negative — because I couldn’t get Nick Arrojo’s book without getting Carmindy’s, too. Based on the way my post-holiday house looks right now, I probably should have concentrated on books about cleaning and organizing, but wine, fashion and makeup are much more fun. Check back for day no. 9 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown, when we finally face the dismantling of Christmas.
For the third day in Cathy’s New Year Countdown, I’m going to give you permission to tackle that one holiday chore you never got around to: Sending out cards. Okay, by “you” I actually mean “me.” I’ve pretty much abandoned snail-mail greetings, yet I keep buying them (“Oh, these are so cute! And they’re 75 percent off!”) and I love getting them. All through December, I keep telling myself — and anyone around who will listen — that I’m going to sit down and send out cards and I can’t go to Wal-Mart or the recycling center or to pick up the dry cleaning because I’ve got to do the cards! But then I end up doing things like reading through the back issues of the Sunday New York Times that pile up or watching reruns of “Whose Wedding is It Anyway?” — you know, important stuff like that. But here’s the thing: It’s still the holidays and you I can still send out cards. And, it’s even better to send them out now because I can answer questions people asked in their cards (“How are the kids?” “Do you like being a grandma?” “Are you still married?”) and, if I get really ambitious, even include some of our Christmas photos. (But probably not since there are still Sunday NY Times to be read. Good idea, though.) And nobody will care if they get holiday cards after Dec. 25. Look at it this way: If you got a holiday card now, would you think “This person obviously is lazy, unorganized and undisciplined and has no idea about the proper order of things” or would you think “Aw, how nice! What a lovely thing to do”??? I rest my case. Come back tomorrow for Day No. 4 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown.