Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011, I'm looking at you in my rearview mirror.

Since I may not blog before we enter 2012, these are the thoughts I am leaving as my last for this year of 2011. 

Dear 2011,

You kinda sucked a little bit.  But you also evolved and made me see things differently so thanks for that.  I met new people, rekindled old friendships, created new memories, gained self confidence and discovery, changed my outlook on life in some ways, and generally have a greater appreciation for what God has blessed me with.  My wish for 2012 is first and foremost, health and happiness for all of my friends and family.  2011 was a challenge for many of them, to say the least.  It saddens me to see people struggle, especially those who I care about so much.  So I often pray for strength not just for myself but for others as well.  I bid you a fond farewell and am hoping for a 2012 filled with smiles.

Love,
Nicole

With that being said, I need to give a shout out to someone special......my cousin Rachel.
 
Rachel Slick, you kicked 2011's ass. 

Rachel has continued to inspire me and reading her blog posts made me take a step back and really think about what is important and where to focus my energy when I was having bad days of my own.   I mean, dude... she had a double lung transplant.  A DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT!!!  Do you know anyone who has had this done and told by Hopkins it was probably the best transplant they've ever seen?  No.  (well, unless you know Rachel, haha).  I could go on and on but you should just read the blog, which is written by Rachel and her husband Jonny.  Seriously, go read it.  I also have to give a shout out to Rachel's sister Mary too.  Both are just the sweetest people you'll ever meet.  Every year I do the Great Strides walk for them to raise money to try and find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

So anyway, just a few days ago we had our annual family Christmas in Shippensburg, PA and it was the first time I'd seen Rachel since before she had her transplant (which was in February).  Rachel told me that some comments I had made to her through their blog and Facebook during her recovery really helped her and I didn't realize to what extent.  It made me feel so wonderful to have given any form of encouragement to someone who needed it.   It also goes to show you....you can't always tell if someone is having a tough day so don't hold back any kind words you might be thinking!  That person might appreciate them more than you think.

Here is a photo of Rachel and I from the family Christmas:


Rachel and Jonny

Group shot although a few couldn't make it that day and are missing :(


Merry Christmas everyone, and here's to a fabulous 2012

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Tannenbaum O Tannenbaum

I meant to make an entry pertaining to our family outing to the Christmas tree farm earlier than today but hey.  I'm here now.  So a few weeks ago we went to get our Christmas trees.  It is a tradition that we go as a family even though we don't all live in one house anymore.  People have their own different traditions, and this is one of ours.  It's always fun and I always take my camera (of course).  This year Lila came with us!  She had a great time and even made a new friend (human, not dog).  Everyone seems to love Lila and she draws many compliments.  One time I was out walking her and a woman driving by stopped her car just to tell me how pretty Lila is. 

It was a beautiful day and a good time was had by all.  Here are a few images from the day:


Lila and friend
Young love
Taken by my mom.  She snapped all kinds of shots while I cut my tree down.  At one point I looked up and she was laying on the ground snapping left and right shouting, "I'm into it!!!!!"  We had a laugh.
Also taken by my mom - post tree cutting.  My hair got caught in the branch.
Sprouting
Truckin'
Successful family tree outing!








Wednesday, December 7, 2011

there at the seaside, 5th of December

Tori Amos show recap:

It was awesome.
That's really all that needs to be said. 
There was no bag checking at the door so I had my camera inside the venue as I'd hoped.  I did not have my zoom lens so the images were from afar although we did have quite good seats. 

Great weather, great dinner with my great friend Mandee, and great show.  All around it was just....you guessed it.....GREAT!

Here are a few shots from the night:

Opening act whose name I don't know but his voice was very similar to Jeff Buckley's

Creative angle?  Yes.  Also, it helps to tilt your camera when people's heads are in your viewfinder and there's no way around it




Apollon Musag├Ęte Quartett - these guys were very impressive


We walked past the White House during the stroll from the Metro to the venue

Here is a video from the show of Tori playing Winter with the quartet.  I wish you could really appreciate how amazing this was in concert.  The video portrays it to a point, but hearing it in person was just so lovely.  For non Tori people, this song is played with strings on the studio album and this tour is the first time she has ever had strings play with her live.  So my excitement level was pretty elevated. 

Another one of my favorites from the night was the Tubular Bells/God/Running Up That Hill medley. 

Another notch in my belt loop for Tori shows.  Next time around I think I'll have reached the baker's dozen. 











Sunday, December 4, 2011

you know that apple green ice cream can melt in your hands

It's Tori time. 

Tomorrow, that is.  At good old Constitution Hall in DC.  I've been there a number of times, mainly for a Tori show.  I anticipate fabulousness and know that I will not be disappointed.  I've seen a lot of shows over the years and if you ask me who captures the audience the most?  I'm sure you can guess what my answer is. 

Never have I been in a concert where it's so quiet, that in certain song moments you could hear a pin drop.  I've often just sat there mesmerized.  Seeing Tori is truly an experience.  In one show you can see her tear shit up, joke and laugh, and feel the raw emotion that just bleeds from her.  She's an odd one, no doubt, but she's one hell of a performer. 

Last week I finally got some framed art hung on the wall (the hanging courtesy of Michelle) and I decided to use that as the image for today.  This piece was what Tori signed the first time I met her.  I really didn't say much because it happened on a whim and I was a little starstruck.  I do recall thinking how tiny she was though....and her hands were warm, I remember that because it was cold outside.  I had on a long coat and upon meeting her she greeted me with her hands and I thought, "she's warm, tiny, angelic, and radiant". 



I am hoping to have returned from tomorrow's show with some images to share.  I hope the kind folks who work the doors at Constitution Hall don't pick through the giant lady purse seeking my camera as they have not in past years.  Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

The entry title today comes from one of my favorite Tori songs which is an old b-side and if interested, you can hear it here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baking has begun

I love to bake. 

The one baked good recipe I've made the most is hands down Vegan Banana Bread.  It's not your typical banana bread and I actually don't follow the recipe.  I've changed it a bunch of times to make it to my own taste.  It calls for margarine (not butter since it's vegan) but I use real butter.  When I bake, I have to use real butter.  I'm sorry, there's just no other way to do it.  So really, it's not even remotely vegan the way I make it, but the linked recipe is what I use for the base.  In the last dozen or so loaves, I've been adding Saigon Cinnamon and it seems to go over very well with people. 

Since I had 4 very ripe bananas, I decided to make two loaves tonight.  I've been meaning to start my holiday baking anyway so why not banana bread to kick it off and take a few photos while I'm at it?  At some point there may be a self portrait while doing Christmas baking wearing my special Christmas apron.  I have kind of a mini obsession with aprons and my mom got me a very pretty one a few years back that is meant to be worn this time of year. 

My apartment smells like a giant loaf of baked banana, also known as heaven.  On a side note, did you know that Paula Deen makes fudge with Velveeta?  It's true.  I own the cookbook.  The recipe calls for 1/2 pound of Velveeta, two sticks of butter, and two 16oz packages of confectioners sugar (and a few other ingredients).  But...seriously?  You may as well just eat this fudge while driving yourself to the hospital because you'll inevitably end up on a gurney one way or another.

Here's the bread makin' :






Happy December!