Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Things That Have Made January Bearable

Let's face it-- January is the worst. Christmas is over, no one wants to take down the decorations but it's even more depressing to leave them up, there's no more vacation, and you can't feel as confident saying "I know I've already had five cookies, but it's a HOLIDAY!" This year I felt like January was extra hard since I had such a short time in Texas and had to rush back up here so I could walk 12 miles to work in 8 feet of snow. I started to really question whether or not I could live here through the winter-- slash started to look into tropical winter home options. When I remembered that I'm a social worker and can't afford cable, I snapped back into reality and started to focus on ways to make January awesome. With the help of my fabulous family and friends... it's actually been a pretty great month! Layers and all! So without further adieu, my list of things that have made January bearable...

1) Christmas Presents
I got some pretty great Christmas presents this year-- and definitely some out of the box ones (Thanks Aunt Janet for the "booty pop"-- and thank you Henderson gene for the flat behind so that gifts like these are embarrassingly appropraite.) Probably one of my favorite gifts was from my brother and sister. Now I'm a pretty plain girl. I like my neutral tones and I tend to jump on a trend about a year after it's popular, so I'm not really out there with my taste. Thankfully, Josh and Stacy are there to help me dive in to unexplored lands and experience new things. Such as a Mallard duck tea pot. I mean you really don't even need the picture, cause it's EXACTLY what you would think it looks like. I thought I might go crazy and get a red kettle... maybe even a green one! But nope-- my bro and sis felt like a Mallard duck was appropriate. And I'm not gonna lie, I love it. I mean what's NOT to love? Although I do feel a bit uncomfortable each time I pour the water out and I have to decapitate the duck. But he recovers every time! And I mean, why wouldn't I love having that hunter's lodge/bachelor pad feeling every time I go into the kitchen?

Another AWESOME gift I got-- an electric blanket. Now I understand that this is probably a gift most suited for your loved ones who are now in nursing facilities... but there has been no greater moments this frigid January than when I nestle into my heated bed (dual controls thank you very much) and drift off to sleep, momentarily forgetting the 5 feet of snow and eight layers I have to wear each day. One day I found my roommate enjoying the blanket...

(PS We don't share a bed for those of you who just got uncomfortable... She just couldn't resist the power of the blanket!)

2) Roommate Dinners

It was super lame when I was back in the NYC all by myself eating sandwiches and cereal for dinner during my depression. Who likes to cook for one?! The ole roomie FINALLY returned from her Texas travels (YAY!) and so I strapped the apron back on and started cooking again! Gourmet meals followed by Pillsbury cookies and chocolate mint milk? Yes, please.

3) Sweet Treats... And Andrew's Faces

It's no secret that the real reason I moved to NYC is because of the extensive sweet treat availabilities. Tiff's Treats and The Yogurt Experience were good, Austin.... but they got NOTHIN' on sweet treats here! So, Andrew, Leticia, and I have made some special efforts this blustery season to get out there, endure the cold, and keep sampling! Here are some of my faves-- if you'll notice, Andrew has a disability and is unable to take a normal photo. Another thing that has added to my January happiness :)

At the Milk Bar. Strawberry-Banana Milkshake, Cinnamon Bun Pie and Banana Creme Cake Truffles. Mmmm.

If you can get past the face... note the beauty of the crepe!

World's BEST Cheesecake. And also, Andrew looks like Popeye a bit here.

4) Chai Tea Lattes
I love chai tea lattes. I mean there just aren't many things better, really. I've made it my personal goal to attempt to try all the chais in the city and assess the best one(s). This particular chai, pictured above, was tasty enough but most impressive probably was the cinnamon swirl. The barista spent some serious time on it-- quite the art form. Kinda want to quit my job and become a barista to learn these skills.

But lets be real... no matter how many new things I try, I will still always love escaping the harsh January cold by cozying up with a book in the Starbucks and paying $5.00 for a drink I could easily make myself at home. There's just something familiar and comforting about it. I know that I'll give my high-maintenance order and over-pay and stand in line like cattle ... and it'll be the same tasty result in the end. Thank you to all you donors who provided me with Starbucks cards for Christmas. They have been, embarrassingly, already used. So I am open for more donations! YOU can join this list as things that make January bearable! :)

5) Warm Clothing

Cold weather is not a joke up here! Imagine my shock and surprise when I found out that a "snow day" did not in fact mean you sleep in and go frolic outside while making a two foot snowman, wearing the scarf you get to wear three times a year. No no-- snow days here mean you put on every piece of clothing you own, and you continue on with life as you know it. Snow all of a sudden went from being the ultimate winter experience, to my nemesis. The first day back to work? I slid on my galoshes, ready to hike through the unplowed streets and puddles of slush... and then I fell down an escalator on the way to the subway. Welcome to winter, Sara. Welcome. Perk? I purchased this lovely down coat, complete with fur on the hood...

I realize I look like I have some special needs in this photo... but I think it truly shows the joy I experience when I'm in the puffy jacket. My days of making fun of fur on hoods are over. It's so toasty! I'm a complete convert. Looks like this coat and i are going to be best friends for the next two months at least. Bring it on!

And on a closing note-- does anyone want to take a look at Wednesday's forecast and tell me what those bouncing balls mean?
Leticia: "What do you think this means for Wednesday?"
Sara: "Golf balls raining? I think it means I'm calling in sick!"

So January-- though you thought you had me down in the beginning, you are no match for the awesome wintery fun that has been had here in NYC. I'm feeling positive. Or at least I was until I saw that the low on Saturday is 8 degrees. I hadn't even considered the possibility of single-digit days. Looks like I'm gonna be utilizing ALL my sick days and more! Happy January!

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's Been Fun 2010-- Let's Start All Over Again!

I need you to know that I wrote that title without intentionally rhyming. I swear. But I love rhymes, so I'm not going to re-write the title to make it sound less like a Dr. Seuss book.

Well I'm not gonna lie, leaving Texas was hard. I was hoping and praying that my flight would get canceled so I could stay longer in the Great State. But then everyone else's flight got canceled and mine was good to go. Awesome. So I left Killeen and headed to Dallas where I found out my flight had been delayed three hours. SO not only was I having to go back to NYC against my will, I also had to hang out in the airport for awhile in a terminal with no Cinnabon.

(Sidenote: I know there were like thousands of people stranded in airports for DAYS, so I'm not ACTUALLY complaining.. just kind of!)

When I finally arrived at Newark, it was 2:00am. I waded through the piles of abandoned luggage and thankfully located my bag. I purchased my ticket for the train to NYC and headed on up. I arrived at the platform just as the train pulled away. The last train for the night. Excellent. So there I am, with my $12.50 train ticket in hand, two bags in tow, gazing out at the mounds of snow... thinking to myself, "Where did I move? Why am I here? Why is there so much snow? (And most importantly) WHY did I fly into Newark?!" So I snapped out of my self-pity moment, and headed with the crowd (AKA the three other people who happened to get flights that weren't canceled and thought they were clever by flying into Newark) and got into the taxi line. I knew it was going to be a ridiculous amount of money and I knew the driver was going to instantly hate me when I told him he was going to be taking me to Queens, but I didn't really have any other option at that point!! So I put my bags in the trunk and got in the first cab to have this conversation:

Cab Driver: "Ok, where you going?"
Me: "Queens-- Ridgewood/Glendale area?"
Cab Driver: "Queens okay.. oh NO NO!! I no go there! You have to leave cab"
Me: "What? You don't go to Queens? Why not?"
Cab Driver: "No Queens, I sorry, leave cab please!"

Keep in mind it's now 3:00am. I have to be at work at 9:00am. And I'm in New Jersey. Okay moving on...

So I get into another cab, this time leading with Ridgewood ("near Brooklyn") instead of Queens and we head on down the road. This is what I am seeing around me:

This picture doesn't really do it justice... but there was a LOT of snow. And I don't want to see any of you Yankees making comments about how you've seen more blah blah blah WHATEVER it was a LOT.

So we drive on. I'm of course leading him with my phone GPS because NO TAXIS have GPS systems. Am I wrong, or is the taxi industry THE target audience for the GPS? I don't know what went wrong there. But anyway, we're driving along and the driver is getting angrier and angrier the longer we keep driving and the more times I say "Yeah, it's just a bit further... yeah a few more blocks... we'll get there!" So we arrive to the end of my street and see that my road has not in fact been plowed, so I exit at the end of the street with my two bags and purse.

It is now 4:00am. I am in a snow drift. With suitcases. Literally attempting to roll the bags in 20 inches of SNOW. Some visuals of my street for you:

This is the street where I got dropped off...
And this is right outside of my door. I really took it as a WELCOME BACK, SARA! Well done for choosing to live in Queens, where no one cares to plow the roads.

So I went upstairs, collapsed, took a little three hour nap, and then I was up at 7:00am to meet my friends Audrey and Bart who were coming to stay with me for New Years! YAY! I met them at the subway stop, introduced them to the mound of snow that was my neighborhood, left them a map, and headed on to work!

I was feeling kind of crazy but I rewarded myself with some tea and a bagel and felt much better about the day. It was of course pointless for me to be at work because there were like three other people there and ZERO clients came in since none of the buses in Brooklyn were working! In fact, the majority of them were STUCK in the middle of roads in the snow. Once again I began to feel as though I work in a third-world country. Secrets revealed-- NYC is NOT so advanced!

As I walked to work, I was excited to see a little path that was forged in front of me that I could follow...

What you cannot see (and what I didn't see) ahead is that this little path ends abruptly which left me standing knee-high in the snow not knowing exactly how to navigate from there. So I naturally just walked on through, half supporting myself with an abandoned car and got snow ALL up in my boots. Luckily I was almost to my building where I proceeded to thaw out the rest of the way. And of course, enjoyed my bagel.

I was SO thankful to have Audrey and Bart here for the weekend!! We enjoyed some tasty Thai food, NYC cheesecake, went to a hilarious Improv show and enjoyed the fireworks in Central Park on New Years Eve!

Fireworks pictures are hard... but they were really cool and lasted like 20 minutes! I'm gonna pretend that the stupid state AND city tax I have to pay went directly to fund that fireworks show and not to pay whoever was sleeping instead of plowing the roads. Slash... note to NYC, perhaps next year we should look into shortening the fireworks show and purchase a few more snow plows? Just a thought...
Bart's a photographer so naturally he's not in any of the photos. Sorry, Bart! It was a lot of fun though and I'm so glad they were able to come!! They left on Saturday afternoon and I decided the best way for me to start the New Year was to alternate sleep with Netflix for the next 36 hours. And order a pizza for myself. No regrets.

I'm excited about 2011! I don't really like that it's an odd number or that 11 is prime, but I feel like it's gonna be a good year! Hopefully one of exciting adventures and continued growth and I'm sure no shortage of humbling experiences. I feel very blessed to be where I am and am excited to see how the Lord leads in this year to come!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holidays with the Hendersons

Well, the last couple of weeks have been CRAZY and simultaneously awesome :) On December 23rd, I jetted out of my job a couple of hours early to catch my flight from JFK and arrived in Austin around 7:00pm and dove into the loving arms of my mom and sister! It was quite the reunion...

That guy standing behind us was also really excited to have me home... you can tell from his expression.

Mom and Stacy quickly solidified their role as favorite family members when I got to the car and Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets were waiting for me!! (Sorry Dad and Josh-- you'll have to work harder next time). Stacy had conducted a "friends poll" and contacted some of my friends whose numbers she had to determine which kinds of dipping sauces I like best with the nuggets-- so thank you to those friends who know my love of Polynesian and Chick-fil-A sauce. SOME friends need to review my sauce preferences... you know who you are.

Christmas this year was a little different thanks to Heathrow Airport and their idiocy. Josh was supposed to fly in to New York the day before my flight and we were going to fly out together.... but then London received 3 inches of snow and the world came to an end. Two cancelled flights and like 4 hours on the phone later, Josh learned that he would not be able to get to Texas until Sunday... the 26th. My BFF Erika also received the same news, as she also was making the trip from the Motherland. My Christmas plans were experiencing an earthquake of uncertainty. Nevertheless, both of them arrived to the Great State and we were able to play -- even though it was a short time. Our family decided to move Christmas to Monday so that we pretend like none of these snafoos ever happened. PLUS when Christmas is on a fake day, you can go shopping directly after receiving your Christmas presents! It's brilliant-- I think it may become a new Henderson family tradition. So here are some highlights from the short yet refreshing holiday...

Christmas baking!! Those are sausage balls my friends... delish.
We spend a lot of our holidays in the kitchen... it just feels right.

Our fabulous Aunt Janet and Meme from Florida mailed us a box of TREATS, including this taxi cab they purchased during their Thanksgiving NYC trip filled with...
Meme's HO CAKE! (Don't worry yourself with the derivation of this term... just know that it is TASTY!) Not sure if it's okay to pack so many refrigerated items in a non-refrigerated shipping container... but that question sure didn't slow us down! Thanks Florida fam!
First Christmas dinner. I mean, just because Josh wasn't there yet didn't mean we were going to STARVE ourselves, come on!
Yay Josh is here!! Can't keep the Hendersons down BRITAIN!
Mom wore her "Snow Happens" sweatshirt... which is hilarious on so many levels. In fact, I think Mom is wearing a snowman shirt in all the pictures I have posted of her. This was unintentional... but oh so appropriate.
Christmas morning #2! We start by sorting the presents...
Then we open the stockings (I wasn't kidding about the snowman shirts... you know you love them!)
"Mixed nuts AND new pens?! What more could a guy ask for?!"
The grandparents are also visited by Saint Nick...
Who is aware of their love for puzzle books!
Then I read the Christmas story aloud. Because let's be real-- that's what this shindig is all about! And also, I really like reading aloud :)

You'll notice that there are not any pictures posted of me on Christmas morning beyond this shot of my hands. I blame myself and thank my sister for her efforts in trying to help me see what would happen if I did not listen to her. This conversation had taken place that morning:

Me: Stacy.. why are you doing your hair?
Stacy: Because Sara, you know there are going to be pictures taken and we always look rough and this year I'm preparing better!
Me: Whatever that's dumb.

... She was correct, of course. But oh so kind to post pictures of me anyway on Facebook so you can consult her photos if you'd like to see Sara's Face on Christmas Morning: Uncut.

Lesson learned.

Josh had a recorder in his stocking. Yep, like the one you learned to play in 5th grade. No one knows why he got that-- or why we learn to play the recorder in the 5th grade. But he sure did try to do a remix of Three Blind Mice! Keep workin' Josh.... you'll get there!
I asked for some Ugg boots for Christmas. Now I know they're ugly and in Texas typically worn with short shorts and white v-necks by sorority girls(at least at Baylor) but they actually serve a purpose here in chilly NYC and I thought they would be useful for me to have since I've regularly been losing feeling in my toes due to the harsh conditions!

So my mom and dad ordered them off a website where they were discounted... and then China charged their credit card and no boots were received. (Yes, China-- the whole country). So my creative parents crafted these guys and wrapped them up anyway as a sort of consolation prize. So clever :)
Then we started baking for Christmas Meal #2. Stacy had the brilliant idea to make yeast rolls in the formation of a Christmas tree! SO colorful! Unfortunately the yeast did not rise and we ended up throwing them around the house later rather than eating them. Good thought though! Definitely something to build on for next year. You know it looks awesome!
This is what Josh and Granddad did while the rest of us slaved in the kitchen. Thanks, buddy.
Leo thinks he's a lapdog. And KNOWS he has effectively replaced all three of us children. HIS Ugg boots came in. Whatever.

I also got to see some friends while I was in Texas... all for very brief encounters since I'm now a grown-up and have to work all the time. (Anyone with ideas for alternatives to working for a living, I'm all ears!)

Brunch with Tabi and Laura!! We really wanted to make a Flat Carrie since she couldn't make it but there was no time! But not to worry because...
I saw her later at the Macy's shoe department! Haha-- love you, Temple. :)
Then Erika, Kara, and Whitney and I met up for a little gift exchange. I think you can see on her face that Kara didn't want anything more this Christmas than to own Laura Bush's Memoir.
Erika's three favorite things-- Crosswords, Silk n Shine, and Starbucks.
AND Whitney can't handle photo posing. Sorry Whit-- this is all I had and I couldn't leave you out!

There were some good group shots taken, I promise. But of course they weren't on my camera, so this is all I got!

Overall, my Christmas vaca was short but lovely. I miss Texas already but NYC has been fun these past few days and I'm sure 2011 holds some exciting adventures! More posts to come regarding my return to the snow-filled city and New Years Eve festivities :) Merry belated Christmas!!