Connecticut sunsets, and other weekend things.

While we were in Connecticut last weekend, we took a cold walk with our pup as the sun was setting. I could eat up our beautiful hometown at this time of the day, during any season. And Gus was pretty content with all of the leaf crunching and tree sniffing.

Other weekend things:
*we had dinner at Pepe's in New Haven on Saturday evening, after waiting in line for a whole hour and ten minutes. but we were joined by our dear friends Rebekah and James, so that kind of made our week.
*we celebrated Christmas for the second time on Sunday at my grandparents' home, which was beautiful and tradition-filled. and all was right with the world.
*Blake played 1,506,304 rounds of Dominion. not really, but still. I'm seeing an intervention in our future.
*Gus had a bath, and we remembered that his natural coloring is white and brindle, not yellow and brindle.
*we made three trips to IKEA, the land of magically low prices on home goods. it is my happy place.
*I went out with my papa for breakfast on Monday morning. omelets + talks with my dear old dad = the greatest way to begin a week.
*then Blake's mom (Candygram, if you're a 70 lb. bulldog) came into the city with us, and we ate empanadas.

We're having a low-key New Year's Eve around here. We've decided that the three of us will ring in 2014 in our little apartment, recognizing all of the blessings that have come our way in 2013, and setting goals for the coming year.

Happy holiday to you all!


The week after.

In between catching up on some errands and other obligations while we're here in Connecticut, we've been spending lots of time with family and getting lost in books that I wanted to finish long ago. Tonight and tomorrow we have our second Christmas celebration with my sister and her husband, which we're so looking forward to. 

Happy weekend! 

^^These two with their Mr. and Mrs. Claus chairs, and a (now very clean, vet-approved) pup who thinks every single gift is for him.^^
^^Christmas carols at my parents' home, and long walks with my mama down streets we know so well.^^
 ^^Lots of reading and talking in this house where I grew up.^^
 ^^Coffee dates with sisters, and dates for us Walkers on the New Haven green.^^


A few photos from a Christmas in Connecticut.

It's easy to get caught up in all of the gifting and feasting (the food. I mean...) of the season. Our hope for this year and all of those following is that we commemorate the birth of Christ, exemplify His love in our relationships and bless those who are less fortunate.  

Focusing on these opportunities to honor and bless as we head into 2014. 

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." 
John 1:14a


Merry Christmas Eve!

We're in Connecticut for the remainder of the week, loving on some family and celebrating one very special life. Christmas Eve is in full swing around here - the fire has been lit, the out-of-towners have arrived, the music has been played and mama whipped up a mean pot of clam chowder for this evening.

Hope you're surrounded by loving family and memories in the making, wherever you are.

Merry Christmas Eve, from the Walkers.


Brown paper packages, tied up with strings.

This morning we had a little Christmas celebration at our apartment, just the three of us. Blake has been sick for the last few days and I woke up with a terrible stomachache, so we kept things low key - some Mannheim Steamroller, a brunch with an assortment of our favorite foods, reading on the truest love that we commemorate this season and a few small gifts. We love the idea of gifting meaningful experiences, so we've planned a trip for the coming year as a larger present to each other. We're terribly excited, but more on that later...

We'll likely be inside for the remainder of the day, though the weather in the city is lovely for this time of year. Wish us luck in the fight against illness!


Some thoughts on 2013.

*The other day I read something about the third year of marriage being the hardest, on average. I'm not so sure how true that was for us, since we're fairly limited in our comparison. I do know that this year (half of years three and four) was one of vulnerability in our marriage, of some shower tears (perfect for an ugly cry) and some failed communication. But here we are, and we're better for it. We've learned so much about tone this year, and the importance of prioritizing our marriage above work, other relationships, dreams and passions. We're in it, and we're in it for the long haul. I love that guy and his wild ideas.
*This year was big for us both professionally. We started new things, worked long hours and threw ourselves into areas where we can grow and excel. There's a lot of professional risk involved in this particular season of life, and we've been blessed by some of the challenges and rewards that come with taking a leap.
*We thought a lot about where we are, literally and figuratively. We signed our lease for another year, and made our plans to move (locally) next fall. We warmed to the idea of getting older. Not growing up, but actually being in our mid-twenties and looking at the real possibility that most things get better with age.
*This year, I realized that a little bit of contentment can go a long, long way. The best way to have it all is to accept that you already do. In so many of the ways that matter, we already do.


Winter weather, and other weekend things.

I talk about weekends quite a bit because (a) they're wonderful and (b) if I didn't, you would mostly hear about my job, the gym, random coffee dates and our weeknight shows. Don't get me wrong, all of these things are supremely interesting, but don't make for great blog content. And we all know that my blog always has truly awesome content. ;)

This weekend was kind of a quiet one, given the whole snow situation. On Saturday, I could have sworn the snow was blowing in my face no matter what direction I was walking. Also, you know those people who look adorable when they're all bundled for a day of snow walks? I am not one of those people. I much prefer channeling Randy a la Christmas Story.

And some other things from the weekend:
*on Friday night, I met up with some old friends at Cafe Minerva, which is adorable and just perfect for an evening of catch-up.
*a Christmas cookie swap, which is wonderful in theory and terrible in reality. I will never eat sugar again. or at least not for another month.
*a morning workout, followed by last-minute Christmas shopping and errands. glamorous.
*brunch at Puttanesca, which had the most beautiful decorations and view out into the falling snow.
*lessons & carols at our church, which has a lot of meaningful programs during the Advent season, if you're looking.
*vegetarian chili making in our fancypants Creuset. mayyybe I just enjoy making chili because I like seeing some of our prettier kitchen things out in the open? and mayyybe this is the first time we've ever made anything in the Creuset?
*a Sunday afternoon of reading and TED Talk listening. Fun fact: TED is headquartered on the floor below me at work.
*a friend's dance recital. I'm crazy proud of her for trying something new. sometimes, we make too many excuses for not doing things that help us grow.
*and a gloomy Sunday night, because we all have those every once in a while.
 ^^do you see Blake's additions to my Sunday list? sadly, we didn't get around to the onion rings or robot building.^^


A snow date.

Yesterday at around 9pm, there was nothing we wanted to do more than play a board game. And you have to understand how unusual this is; while Blake is a big fan of games of all kind, I've found that games have the ability to provoke an unbecoming intensity in me. It's not the game's fault, I realize, but hey - I'm working on it.

In any case, the time had come for game playing and snow gallivanting, since we have approximately two games in this apartment and both require far too much thought for a Saturday night. So we donned our gay apparel and ventured out into the snow, which had transfixed the whole of the city in its charms. I dare you to find me a single person who doesn't fall head over heels for Manhattan under a blanket of white. I just dare you.

We spent an hour in the Times Square Toys"R"Us (the closest toy store to our apartment, as luck would have it), landed on Monopoly (the standard. Blake wouldn't even let me get the "Empire" version. isn't that the meanest?) and stopped at Amy's Bread for tea and a slice of the city's best carrot cake to share. I don't even like carrot cake, but this stuff is of rockstar quality.

In all honesty, the actual game playing didn't end terrrribly well. But we keep pressing on, in the name of progress, overcoming shortcomings and all of that.

On a related note, I love my husband. He's the best snow date buddy there ever was.


This morning's sunrise was simply stunning.

We live about three blocks from Times Square, which is kind of ridiculous, when you think about it. Problem is, we didn't really think about it when we moved. We exhausted the apartment hunt, found a place with a stove, a sink and a bathroom and raised the flag of victory over that 450 square foot space. You find yourself doing these things under pressure. Regardless, we love our home, and it has suited us quite well. Despite the throngs of lost tourists and many, many crazies, this is our comfort zone. And occasionally I'll catch a glimpse of a pink sunrise over the glittered intersection of 49th and Broadway, and my heart swims. It's pretty fantastic. 

I'm so ready for this weekend, it's not even funny. This whole week has been a bit of a scramble, and I'm not sure where the whole thing went. Plus, I hear we'll be getting a bit of snow, which is always fun. Perfect weather for the last-minute online shopping that I have to do... 

Stay warm and dry, wherever you are! 


A December proposal.

Here are a few photos from the sweet surprise engagement party we had for friends on Saturday night. Doesn't everything look completely magical under Christmas lights? 

It kind of blows my mind that I've known this group of girls for over two years. When I first met the bride-to-be, she didn't even know her now fiance. And in the last two years, we've had a lot of other changes in our little group - new jobs, new apartments, weddings, family struggles, personal achievements, a baby born just last week. Community is so, so important, and we've found a pretty fantastic support system in these people. For all the ups and downs, it's nice to be surrounded by people who are rooting for you. 

We're so excited for this awesome couple. 


Muppets, and other weekend things.

Can you even believe we're only two weeks (and some change) out from Christmas? I could use another week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, but the whole calendar system is sooo bossy.

This weekend was pretty much all that a December weekend should be, and we've carpe-d the heck out of that diem. But we're tired now, and the only solution for a tired, Christmas-loving soul is a little Muppet Christmas Carol. iTunes is really robbing us blind on Christmas movies this year, but I mean, priorities.

In other weekend news:
*we got to see one of our favorite brothers/brothers-in-law on Friday night, because he works here now! what luck!
*Christmas cookies. weirdly pinkish (I'm so wary of red dye) ones with big old chocolate kisses on top.
*we helped out at the birthday party for Jesus at our church on Saturday morning, assisting some awesome kids as they wrapped gloves for other children in need. big hearts in little people. i melt. also, a nativity play with the burliest Gabriel you ever did see.
*our dear friends got engaged on Saturday night, and we surprised them with a little celebration. we're just crazy about love.
*we had the toddlers in children's church again, and I think I'm really mastering my Berenstain Bears voices.
*I've decided that brunch at Isabella's will be our new pre-Christmas tradition. I went with friends two years ago, fell in love with their decorations, and haven't stopped talking about them since. garland everywhere!
*we're continuing to keep the USPS alive with our Christmas card distribution. holiday mail is the best kind of mail.
*we went to the dog park, Gusington's most favorite of all the places in the world.

Happy Sunday!


Company holiday.

Last night we had our company holiday party, which is an annual tradition to celebrate the season and all of our hard work in the first half of the fiscal year. We all (and I do mean "all" - there are over 700 people who work at my office. claustrophobia!) get together at the Trump Soho, drink champagne, eat dinner, dance and take hundreds of photos in the photo booths. I miiiight have a mild addition to photo booth props. I mean, am I rocking that halo, or am I rocking that halo?

This year's theme was "Naughty and Nice". Nailed it.

Ho, ho, ho and stuff!