Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 09: Failed Resolution

I made it!! I completed the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge!

(If you missed any, you can find them all here.)

Thanks, Gwen, for putting this all together!

December 31st: Resolution you wish you'd stuck with. (You know, there's always next year...)

It's all pretty cliche.

I wish I had gotten fit this year. I wish my house was organized. I wish I'd done a lot of things that I didn't actually do.

But I ended up doing a lot of stuff that I didn't think that I would do, which I figure makes up for it.

(Except for the whole not getting fit thing... going to Nashville doesn't really make up for that, does it?)

(Oh well.)

Here's to 2010!

(I've watched that video about twenty-seven times in the last three days... and thirteen more times since I embedded it in this post.)

(Who knew so many people used the word "down" this year?)

(I just searched my blog for the word "down" and it was used in 19 posts this year... given the crazy amount of times that the word was obviously used by pop stars in 2009, I feel like that's not nearly enough.)

(Resolution for 2010: use the word "down" more.)

(Shit... it'll probably be out of style by this time next year. What's the word of 2010? I'd really appreciate knowing *now* so that I'm not in this situation next year.)

(Because it's embarrassing.)

(I shouldn't have even pointed it out... fuck.)

(Maybe "fuck" will be the biggest word of 2010. I hope so, because I'm already on top of that one.)

(Also? I don't recognize more than half of those songs in the video. Another resolution for 2010: listen to more Top 40 radio...)

(I'm ambitious.)



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 09: Ad

December 30th: Ad. What advertisement made you think this year?

This one made me think... mostly because I didn't get it the first time I saw it.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best of 09: Laugh

December 29th: Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

If you haven't already figured it out, my entire family is completely insane. Earlier this year my grandma said, "This family is not dysfunctional, we're funny."

I'm very lucky because I'm surrounded by hilarious people. We're so completely insane that we laugh all the time. It's the way we are.

(I've actually had people say that they would buy tickets just to observe our Thanksgiving dinner...)

My friends constantly make me smile and fall over with laughter.

My relationship with Mike is built on total hilarity... we make each other laugh every single day. (I truly believe that it's the number one reason we've been together for nearly 8 years (so far).)

Even my dogs have a sense of humor (when I'm having a bad day, I swear they do shit just to make me smile).

Some people think that I have a cynical, dark, sense of humor, but I don't see it that way. I think laughing at the twisted, disturbing stuff makes living easier, better, and fun. I've learned that you have to laugh at the dark stuff because it's the only way to get through it all.

Some of the funniest people that I've met have lived through unimaginable tragedy - the loss of a child, horrible disease, terrible accidents - but they keep laughing and they keep making other people laugh.

Laughter makes you happy to be alive, it makes it easier to get up in the morning, it allows you to cope when something bad happens.

It's survival.

It's the only way to live.

PS: You know what's really funny? This post is about the biggest laugh of my year and it's turned out to be a ridiculously serious commentary...

PPS: Shit... I feel bad about that. Here:

You're welcome.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of 09: Stationery

December 28th: Stationery. When you touch the paper, your heart melts. The ink flows from the pen. What was your stationery find of the year?

I don't collect "stationery", like for writing thank you notes on or anything, but I am a total whore for school supplies and journals.

I LOVE the look and feel and excitement of a new, blank notebook.

(It's the little things, people.)

(I think that I should go back to school so that I can get new supplies.)

(That may not be the *best* reason... but it's still appealing.)

(Does anybody else really want to make a trip to an office supply store? Just me?)

I found this journal the day after my grandma died, a time when I felt particularly c-r-a-z-y.

The cover says:

"My Dysfunctions:
A journal for chronicling my immeasurably fascinating dysfunctions, neuroses, emotions, inner children, moments of shame and doubt, projection, self-loathing, misanthropy, and completely normal insanity, because the only difference between me and the rest of the population is that I acknowledge how crazy I am and they're all in mind-numbing denial."

It's filled with quotes from some of the most awesomely dysfunctional people in history and each page starts with "Why I Am Dysfunctional Today".

Needless to say, this journal really spoke to me.

(Not literally...)


"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you."
- Rita Mae Brown

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best of 09: Social Web Moment

December 27th: Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to know only from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

2009 has been all about social web moments. I met my blogging hero, I became an active member of the social web community, and I even got a job in the social web.

Specifically, being featured on the Men's Health Blog, Working out the Details, was a great opportunity and a cool thing to be involved with.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Best of 09: Aha! Moment

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Mine was filled with laughs, family, food, and a Snuggie!

AND I was quoted in The Colorado Daily!

(My quote is the last line in the article... I actually said it's "too damn crowded", not "... crowded".)

(You know, because I'm classy.)

December 26th: Insight or aha! moment. What was your epiphany of the year?

That blogging is fun and that I could make friends doing it!

And that I should be a professional advent calendar maker.

That was a big turning point for me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best of 09: Christmas-y Edition

December 24th: Learning Experience. What was a lesson that you learned this year that changed you?

That I can do things that I didn't think I could do.

And? How to make BBQ Pulled Pork. It's changed my life.

December 25th: Gift. What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

I continued buying books. Even though I stopped buying many "luxury items" (like haircuts and eyebrow waxing... 2009 was not my *hottest* year), I kept getting myself books, because they make me so very happy.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best of 09: Web Tool

December 23rd: Web tool. It came into your work flow this year and now you couldn't live without it. It has simplified or improved your online experience.

I've already told you about my love for Lijit here.

Another great online tool is Hootsuite. It allows you to schedule tweets, which is really helpful when you manage a corporate Twitter account, or have a post scheduled to go live over the holidays and want to send out a message when it's published... hypothetically...

Finally, I LOVE Picnik. This is the site that I use to take my pictures from "okay" and "normal" to OH EM GEE THAT IS AWESOME, like this one:

(Was the snow effect too much? Or just awesome enough?)
(I'm going with just the right amount of awesome...)

Plus, I got to hang out with some of the beautiful ladies that work there at BlogHer this year, and they were some of the greatest girls I've ever met (which always helps).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best of 09: Startup

December 22nd. Startup. What's a business that you found this year that you love? Who thought it up? What makes it special?

I'm not just saying this because I've been doing some social media magic for them, but I've gotta give props to Zwaggle.

If you're a parent, you need to join this site. It's an online marketplace for parents to swap their gently used kids' gear, for free. It's a green, free, awesome way to get the stuff you need, and share the stuff you don't.

Another company that I found this year? Lijit is a local Boulder business that offers an awesome search engine for your blog. I met their social media mastermind, Tara, at Blissdom, and she has been an awesome mentor and friend to me ever since. I think that every blog should have a search engine, and with Lijit you get that along with awesome statistics about who's visiting your site on a weekly basis.

On top of that, they have amazing customer service. Recently, I was having trouble with my search results. I told Tara about it through the Lijit twitter account, and she sent it to their support department. Within a few hours I received a very nice email telling me exactly what was wrong and how it's being fixed.

(In fact, I just got another email confirming that my search results are working! Love it...)

Finally, I discovered Etsy this year. Etsy is a site that allows users to post their handmade goods to sell. It has an amazing amount of cool stuff, and by buying from there, your supporting actual people making their own products, rather than corporations.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of 09: Project

This is my 200th post! Throw streamers! Glitter! Presents all around!

(Except not.)

(But yay.)

December 21st: Project. What did you start this year that you're proud of?

Honestly? This. This crazy, month long Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.

This past year I've gone back and forth between writing several times a week and writing once or twice a month. This is the first time that I've not only committed to blogging everyday, but actually done it. The prompts from Gwen help immensely, but the fact that I've written something - anything - even when I really didn't feel like it or want to... that's pretty cool.

Instead of saying "maybe later" or just ignoring the many, many tweets about this project, I actually joined in. And that isn't something that I usually do.

The posts might not always be amazing or inspiring or hilarious, but at least they're here... and I'm proud of that.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best of 09: Person

I am listening to Mike play a violent war game on his computer. The sounds of gun fire and screaming soldiers is filling my house - and heart - with so much extra holiday cheer. It's truly magical.

December 20th: New Person. She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

I've been sitting here forever, and I've come up with so many people. I think about the woman who said hello to me in the elevator when I first got to Blissdom, or the lady who offered me a seat at her table in a crowded hotel restaurant.

I think about the people who talked to me at parties, made me laugh, invited me out for drinks.

And those are just the people who's hands I actually gotten to shake. I've met even more online, and I feel like I know them just as well, if not better, than a lot of the people I've talked with in person.

There are too many new people in 2009. I can't pick one, and you can't make me. If you said a kind word to me, talked to me on Twitter, commented on this blog, played me in Words with Friends... you're my people.


For 2010, though, I'm going to be keeping score.

(5 points for complimenting my outfit, 10 for buying me cake on a stick, and 15 if my dogs like you.)

(Bonus points if you're Team Edward.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best of 09: Car Ride

December 19th: Car ride. What did you see? How did it smell? Did you eat anything as you drove there? Who were you with?

After my grandmother's memorial my family went to a gorgeous town in Southwest Colorado, Ridgway, to spread my grandparent's ashes.

I rode down with Mike and my dad in my dad's Prius, and the rest of the family piled into my mom's (totally kick-ass) RV.

(There were too many of us to all fit in the RV and I get carsick sitting in it while it's driving on a straightaway, let alone while it's driving over mountains.)

At one point we needed to call the RV.

My dad decided that rather than allowing me to call my brother, who was trapped in enjoying the RV with our whole, entire, extended family, he would use his trusty voice-activated hands-free phone thingy.

Dad: Phone (waiting)... Phone... PHONE!!

Condescending lady who talks from the voice-activated hands-free phone thingy (seriously, listen to the robot lady's voice next time you're in a car that talks to you... she is totally judging you): Phone. Please choose how you would like to place a call.

Dad: Name... Name... NAME!!

Lady from the voice-activated hands-free phone thingy who thinks she's better than us
: Name. Please say the name of the person you would like to call.

Dad: AJ... AJ...

Me: Dad, why don't I just dial?

Dad: No, this is way more convenient. AYYYYY JAYYYYY.

Lady who has lost all respect for us (I don't really blame her) from the voice-activated hands-free phone thingy: Calling Annie.

Dad: Shit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best of 09: Shop

I have five dogs in my house right now. Five noisy, dirty, barking, far too energetic dogs. Plus, one of them figured out how to escape from the backyard, so they're currently being held hostage inside.

Needless to say, this puppy playgroup is making it hard to concentrate.

Therefore, this is going to be short and sweet.

December 18th: Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

Target (because we buy our food there) and various bookstores (because I'm a whore for books).

Holy motherfucking shit. A dog just barked on the TV.

Oh the insanity.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best of 09: Word

December 17th: Word of phrase. A word the encapsulates your year. "2009 was___."

2009 was geeky.

It was full of blogging conferences and tweeting and vampires and comic books and television shows that break out into song and iPhones and scrabble and Lady Gaga and writing letters to my dogs and MARISKA HARGITAY and advent calendars and, of course, coming out as a geek in front of hundreds of other geeks.

Yep... 2009 was pretty damn geeky.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best of 09: Tea

Still going strong on the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.

(Crazy, I know.)

December 16th: Tea of the Year. I can taste my favorite tea right now. What's yours?

This question makes me laugh because I remember reading Gwen's tweets and blog post when she decided to give up coffee a few months ago.

I don't like regular coffee, and if I'm having espresso, it's mixed with a whole lot of chocolate and other flavored syrup. But, since I prefer to eat my calories rather than drink them, I tend to stick with tea.

(And hot chocolate... I love me some hot chocolate.)

When I lived in Australia I became a very big tea drinker. I had English Breakfast tea everyday, multiple times a day. I'd go out to coffee shops or restaurants and sit with a pot of tea and read a book.

After my English Breakfast tea bender, if you will, I came home and sort of lost my desire. I still love tea, and drink it on a regular basis, but I don't have it nearly as much as I did in Sydney.

I like the act of drinking tea. Waiting for it to steep (well... I can only wait a couple of minutes before I just go for it... so maybe I don't really like that part), adding just the right amount of milk and sugar, sipping it sip by sip.

(The "sip by sip" thing drives Mike crazy. I'm sorry, Mike, but tea is meant to be sipped, not gulped.)

This year, I found a great spice tea from Celestial Seasonings: Bengal Spice. It's got cinnamon, ginger and cloves, and it tastes a lot like a chai. I like mine with a little bit of milk and sweetener, or made into a cambric (a tea latte).

I also really like chocolate mate... because it's chocolate flavored tea.

(Enough said.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best of 09: Packaging

I've been dreading this question since the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge began, but here it goes.

December 15th: Best Packaging. Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

Seriously? I feel like the only way that you would have an answer to this is if you actually saw something that made you yell "that is the best packaging I've ever seen!"... and I don't think that I have said that in 2009...

I guess I will take this opportunity to give props to Apple. The packaging they use is minimal and sleek (just like their products). Every part of the package is used (it irritates me to no end when something comes in a package that is mostly empty space or filled with disposable paper or plastic).

When you get an iPhone (as I was able to do this year) (HELL YES), the box is pretty much the size of the phone. I love that. No mess, no trash, all awesome.

It's not some amazing concept, and it's not new to 2009, but I still think it's pretty cool.

Also, it's the perfect size for your Golden Retriever carry.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best of 09: Rush

December 14th: Rush. When did you get your best rush of the year?

I would say the biggest rush I had this year was speaking at my grandmother's funeral.

I didn't think that I could do it. I didn't really want to do it. But I felt so much better after I did.

I felt relieved that it was over.

I felt proud that I had stood in front of 60 plus people and spoken coherently.

I felt happy that I was able to make people laugh instead of cry.

In it's own way, that experience was "a rush".

And, if I'm going to be completely honest, I got a rush when they sang "Somebody to Love" on Glee:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best of 09: Best Change to My Home

December 13th: What's the best change you made to place you live.

A few months ago I got a call from Mike on his way to work. He was biking near Family Housing by campus, and he saw a bunch of stuff out back with a big sign that said "free".

Among the old TV sets, used strollers, and beat up snowboards was a big drafting table.

I had been wanting my own desk for awhile. Mike has his own work space, and I usually just moved my computer from the kitchen to the living room and kept all of my shit important documents and prized possessions scattered throughout the house.

I met Mike over there when he got off and saw the table. It was huge and white, the paint was cracking on the surface, and there was the faint outline of a big cartoon man with an afro smoking a gigantic blunt.

It was perfect (?).

We (Mike) hauled it to the car and took it to his parents house. Mike spent over an hour making the surface smooth with an electric sander. We then got some pretty blue contact paper with flowers all over it.

(It's not as eccentric as the humongous weed smoker, but I've made my peace with that.)

It's great to have my own space to blog and read and keep my stuff.

This also led to another change to our house: in order to fit my awesome pretty blue table in the house, we had to get rid of the last remaining piece of the famous "duct-tape couch".

So, this change is somewhat bittersweet.

(For Mike. Apparently he had a deeper attachment to the couch than I thought.)

(Me? Not so much.)

Also, I finished my Christmas decorations:

(I added the Torah after the fact... because it's Chanukah. Also, I couldn't get my hands on a real one.)

(I wrapped those presents in pages from a giant coloring book. So, after my family and friends open their presents, they can have some craft time. It's like two gifts in one. I am generous.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best of 09: New Food

December 12th: New Food. You're now in love with Lebanese food and you didn't even know what it was in January of this year.

You know how I wrote about Tee & Cakes yesterday?

Well, I also have to mention them in this post. This little shop has my absolute new favorite food.

Two words: Cake. Pop.

It is cake... on a stick. Covered in icing. Dipped in chocolate. Decorated with pretty-ness.

It's the perfect treat.

Go get one... NOW.

PS: Today is my mama's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMY!

PPS: I gave her an organizational tool for her birthday. You know, to organize paperwork and stuff. I am, like, the best daughter ever.

PPPS: Also, Happy Chanukah/Hanukkah! I ate ham today for breakfast... it appears that in addition to being the best daughter ever, I'm also the worst Jew ever.

PPPPS: But it was really good ham... speaking of pork products: Tee & Cakes also has a Bacon Chocolate cupcake. It's pretty much the definition of awesome.

PPPPPS: SEE? Worst Jew ever.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best of 09: Best Place

Before we get started on today's Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt...

(Put this on my list of "shit I should have thought of", right under the snuggie.)

December 11th. The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook?

One of my new favorite places is Tee & Cakes in downtown Boulder. It's a really great spot, complete with cute decor, a great tea selection, and, of course, cupcakes.

(Cupcakes always vastly improve my opinion of a place. Even if I don't actually buy a cupcake, I like that they're there. It's whimsical.)

Also, they have fantastic wireless internet. It really sucks to drag all of your stuff out and order a cup of tea just to realize that you can't connect to the world wide web.

Finally, they tweet great deals. I LOVE when local businesses use social media... especially when those tweets help to feed me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of 09: Album of the Year

You know it's been cold far too long when you get excited that it's 24 degrees.

Since it was such a beautiful and warm day, I actually left my house, so my post for the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge comes a little later than usual.

But here it is!

(You thought I gave up, didn't you?)

December 10th: Album of the Year. What's rocking your world?

Regina Spektor: Far (Every song on this album is amazing.)

The Glee Soundtracks (These songs always put a huge smile on my face.)

(Best. Show. Ever. BTW.)

The New Moon Soundtrack (Great songs from great artists.)

Maybe you're like me and watch Grey's Anatomy with a fiery passion. Maybe you think the cheesy story lines and love triangles are crap. But I assure you, the music on that show is incredible. The songs from this year's episodes make up a soundtrack so amazing and emotional that I have to include this show as one of my favorite albums of the year. (A sample of some of my very favorites):

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best of 09: Challenge

The sun is out. It's still 12 degrees, though.

(Why am I complaining about the weather so much? Because this DOESN'T happen in Boulder! We have a wonderful climate where it snows one day, and MELTS a day later. This snow? Has been frozen to my lawn for over a week. I've been here for 24 years, and I assure you, THIS IS NOT BOULDER WEATHER!!)

(If this crazy climate change doesn't convince you that something big is happening, I don't know what will.)

(And by "something big", I mean the Decepticons are coming. Obviously.)

The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt for today?

December 9th: Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

Well, Blissdom was a challenge.

And being with my grandmother while she was dying certainly took me to my "edge and then some".

But my "best challenge of the year"?

The first time I beat my dad at Words with Friends.

It took a long time, and it wasn't always easy, but I persevered, and am a better person because of it.

(Clearly, I don't feel like going very deep today.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best of 09: Moment of Peace

Best of 2009 Blog Challenge prompt for today:

December 8th: Moment of Peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?

Ironically, this question has been stressing me out.

I don't have a lot of peaceful moments. Believe it or not, my mind is a very busy place (even if my body is, well, not.)

One moment that keeps coming up for me is when my grandma was dying. My mom, brother and I had been at her house for 24 hours. A nurse and social worker from our local Hospice Care came to talk to us. They explained the process of dying, explained what was happening, how to keep my grandmother comfortable, and assured us that she wasn't in pain. We had spent the previous day terrified that we were doing everything wrong. We were afraid that we weren't doing enough (whatever that means). We were afraid that we couldn't leave her alone. That we couldn't relax.

But they took away all of our fears. They told us that we couldn't do anything wrong. She would go when she was ready.

It was like they flipped a switch in us. We relaxed, we breathed, we let ourselves smile. We ended up having a great night. We watched TV, we ate junk food, we laughed. The people from Hospice Care told us that the sounds of us having a good time would probably be reassuring to my grandmother. Even her dog, Rachael, who hadn't left her side in days, came out and sat with us for awhile.

The nurse had told us that it would probably be a few more days before she went, but, of course, she passed away that night. (She never was one to play by the rules.)

It's a little weird to think about, but that night was a good night. My brother, mom and I bonded. My grandma was able to hear us having a good time in the other room. It was... peaceful.

Now, enough about my sweet dead grandma and let's get back to me.

(If that offends you, you obviously didn't know her, because she'd think that was hilarious.)

Yesterday I saw that the weather was supposed to get even colder today, so I decided to buck up and take Bonnie and Hannah to a park a block away. I put on a ridiculous amount of layers, shoved my pants into my boots, and wore my 75 cent gloves from Target.

(Those gloves weren't warm *at all*... shocking.)

We got to the park and started to run around and, sure enough, the dogs started limping with frozen paws.


I fought the urge to rub that fact in their little doggy faces (because I'm mature), and we headed home. When we got to the front yard the girls started to make doggy angels, so I figured maybe they were fine and could handle a little more outside time. Then they started to walk on three legs again, so we scratched that idea.

APPARENTLY Bonnie has forgotten this whole experience because she has spent much of the 5 degree day sitting in the backyard, staring at the kitchen window. I think that she knows I'll see her there, and she's trying to convince me that she's tough enough for a walk.

She then comes inside, burrows under my blanket, and spends the next 15 minutes licking the ice off of her paws.

Yeah, nice try Bonnie. Nice try.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Best of 09: Blog Find of the Year

From the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:

December 7th: Blog Find of the Year. That gem of a blog that you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

Yeah, that's easy.


Do you realize how many blogs there are? Do you realize how many are great? Do you realize that I can't list them all because my fingers are frozen?*

This is the "year of the blog" for me. This is the year that I expanded my blog reading outside of my group of friends. This is the year that I actually found that great wide world called THE BLOGOSPHERE.


(That was supposed to be "scary music sounds"... did that not work?)

Hell, this is the year that I found Gwen Bell, whose responsible for this whole series.

Essentially, I found ALL of my favorite blogs this year.

One that stands out right this minute? A very recent find called Ex Hot Girl. Jennifer is totally honest, completely hilarious, and extremely entertaining.

My current blogroll is way out of date, so I'll work on getting it updated as soon as I can, but here it is in case you're curious about some of my other favorites.

What was your favorite blog find this year?

*It is 9 mother fucking degrees here. NINE. And it's been this cold for a WEEK. I'm basically hibernating because Ally B is not meant to go out in this kind of cold. (My ears get really cold and then I want to cry... and crying in NINE DEGREE weather is really bad.) (Two words: frozen snot.) Instead of braving the cold, I've been trying to distract Bonnie. She seems to think that it's MY fault that it's too cold for her little paws to go anywhere.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best of 09: Conferences & Satan's Pop-Tart

I'm still here. Still strong. Still freezing (it's 12 freaking degrees here in Boulder).

Today's prompt for the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:

December 6th: Workshop or Conference. Was there a conference or workshop that you attended that was especially beneficial? Where was it? What did you learn?

I think that it's kind of cool that I can actually answer this question in the affirmative. Obviously I had some "especially beneficial" experiences in Nashville and Chicago this year because those experiences have already been written about during this challenge.

I didn't necessarily learn a lot about blogging, per se. What I learned was a lot about myself. What I got were some great memories and even better friends.

Sounds pretty good to me.

In other news, I burned myself on a toaster pastry this morning. It was like the devil's pop-tart, it was so hot. I may not have any lasting scars or blisters on the outside, but my psyche is severely damaged.

I write about it because nobody that I've told today has really taken it seriously. I guess this is because I wasn't technically that hurt and still have full function of my hand, but it was horrific, nonetheless.

Thanks for listening. I knew y'all would understand.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Best of 09: Best Night Out

Today's prompt for the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge is:

December 5th: Night Out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

I've already written about it here.

It was in Chicago.

Jenny the Bloggess was there.

So was Ali.

Megan from Velveteen Mind stopped by.

The wonderful Stiletto Mom, Mary Anne said some kind words to me.

George declared me his hero for introducing him to Jenny.

Even Jen Lancaster made an appearance.

And, of course, Nancy W. Kappes (paralegal) was there.


Another great night was last month with Mike an AH-MAZE-ING Regina Spektor concert.

It was the best concert that I've been to in a long time, and every song was incredible. The hours and hours (and hours) spent sitting on the hardest concrete ever (and the subsequent sore ass that was a result) was totally worth it when we scored the most perfect spot for the show: front row, able to see her play the piano, and right in front of her keyboard and guitar.

The night was even better when she seamlessly told a rude concert goer to "shut the fuck up" in the middle of one of her songs.

Can you say "hero"?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best of 09: Favorite Book(s)

I'm kicking ass and taking names on this whole Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. I've made it two days, which is some sort of personal best.

I should get a medal... or a cookie.

At least a cookie.

December 4th: Book. What book - fiction or non - touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

My goal for this year was to read 50 books. I am on my 43rd.

(Therefore, December is also dubbed "Don't bother Ally because she has a god damn goal to finish".)

The books that I've read this year have varied from classics and great works of literature to overrated best-sellers and trashy fantasy.

My favorite? I can't list one. Thankfully, I've kept track of all of the books that I've read since January 1st, so I'll list the ones that stand out to me the most.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl - This is a book that I've thought a lot about. I didn't love it at first, but it's grown on me a lot.

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster - I finished this book at Blissdom, hours before I actually met Jen. It was a hilarious book, and my copy now holds a note from the author herself.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons - I'm a twelve year old boy.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith - AWESOME. It's romantic and full of zombie killing mayhem. What could be bad?

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - I read The Hunger Games in 2008 and it instantly earned a spot on my "favorite books of all time" shelf. This year, the sequel, Catching Fire, came out, so I read them both. Sooooo good.

The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning - These books are kept in the romance section at the bookstore, so if you see someone ducking into that section with sunglasses, an over sized parka and a wig, it might be me. But shame cannot keep me from these trashy sci-fi stories.

The Twilight Saga - 1) Since 2007, I've read the series four times (only once this year). 2) It's still awesome. 3) TEAM EDWARD. 4) Duh.

I'm in the process of finishing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's absolutely amazing and certainly earns a spot on this list.

These books have been given as gifts, shared with family and friends, blogged about, or discussed in front of a hundred fellow geeks.

Now leave me alone... I have a New Year's Resolution to finish up.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Best of 09: Let's Get it Started

During the month of December, the Social Media Maven Gwen Bell has set out the challenge to reflect on the past 12 months through blogging and twitter.

Well, I always like a challenge.

(LIE. I hate a challenge, but I've decided to suck it up and do this one.)

So I decided to join the growing number of awesome bloggers and participate in the Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.

I figure it's a good way to review the year, and it'll bring me up to 200 posts on this here blog.

Gwen has posted a prompt for each day of December on her blog, and I'm three days late (go figure), so here are my answers to the first three questions:

December 1st: Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

I've thought a lot about this, and my best trip wasn't the most relaxing or most fun. In fact, I spent an amazing amount of time hiding in my hotel room, crying and downing gratuitous amounts of anti-anxiety medication. I ended up having some really great moments, but overall, my trip to Nashville in February was a tad stressful.

So why would this be my pick for "Best Trip of 2009"? When I went to Nashville for Blissdom '09, it was a huge step for me. I had never been anywhere by myself. I had never had to ride a plane with nobody to hold my hand, or stay in a city where I didn't know a single person.

It was just me.

And I survived. It opened doors for me, because surviving Blissdom allowed me to survive BlogHer, where I had some amazing experiences. It gave me an opportunity to meet some awesome people, who I'm thrilled to call my friends.

It might not have been the "best" trip, but it was the best for me.

December 2nd: Restaurant Moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What tastes stand out in your mind?

You know when you go to a restaurant and sit down near a family and suddenly realize that you should move because that family won't stop laughing or talking about inappropriate things or cussing too loud or being generally annoying?

Yeah, that's my family. So I have a lot of great restaurant experiences.

But for 2009, the first thing that comes to mind is the restaurant that Mike took me to for my birthday in August. It was a place in Denver that we had never been named Potager. All of the food is bought from local farms, and the menu is constantly changing to reflect what's in season.

We sat in the beautiful courtyard in the back, and it was very relaxing.

(Even when the hostess spilled my Prosecco (I'm fancy) and broke the glass.)

(It happens.)

But what do I remember the most? What makes it stand out in my mind? Was it the twinkling lights in the courtyard, or the warmth from a lovely August evening in Colorado, or stealing bites from Mike's meal?


It was the whole Colorado peach that was cooked, hollowed out and stuffed with blue cheese and other deliciousness, wrapped in fancy bacon.

That? Was pure awesomeness... wrapped in bacon...

December 3rd: Best Article. What's an article that you read that blew you away?

It's a hard question to answer because there's just so much news out there.

You know what? Just read The New Yorker and you can find some of the year's best there.


Well, that, and the article about Robert Pattinson in Vanity Fair last month.


(Note to self: try not to wait and answer three questions in one day because by the third you get bored and your blood sugar starts to dip so you don't take the time to answer the questions. Bad Ally.)

(Note to readers: if you want to join in on the fun, visit Gwen's site to learn more.)

(Another note to readers: The chocolate chip advent calendar was a huge success. I should get an award for that baby.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I am? Crafty.

Yesterday I was at the drugstore and I saw Advent Calendars.

I was immediately flooded with images of my childhood: anxiously waiting for dinner to end so that my brother and I could open the little cardboard door for that date and find the little, delicious chocolate treat.

Me: AJ!! I found Advent Calendars! Do you remember those? When did Mom and Dad stop giving us those?

AJ: Probably at the appropriate age to stop being so excited about Advent Calendars.

Me: Asshole.

Last night I was so excited to open the little door labeled "1".

I opened it up, removed the little piece of chocolate shaped like a little present, and... tasted like crap.

Seriously... it crumpled in my mouth, tasted like glue, and burned going down my throat.

Stupid childhood memories bought for $1.50.

BUT, instead of being sad and throwing away my dreams about having an advent calendar this year, I got my creativity on.

Ally B Speakin' Presents:

Step 1: Get crappy advent calendars for 2 for $3.


Rabid Deer


Creepy Raccoon

Step 2: Gather your supplies. You'll need some new, edible candy to replace the crappy shit. You'll also need some tape.

All I have on hand are generic semi-sweet chocolate chips... so be it.

Hannah Helper

Step 3: Remove crappy candy.


Dispose of the crappy candy responsibly, like in your leftover breakfast.


Step 4: Put good candy (or generic semi-sweet chocolate chips) in the empty spaces.


It's important to keep a sense of excitement and surprise, so mix up how many chocolate chips you put in each space.

But make it more that one chocolate chip, because if you open it up and see only one lonely chocolate chip... well, that's a sad day for everyone.

Step 5: Close them back up. It's preferable to use clear tape because duct tape is just stupid looking... and super glue probably isn't the best idea.


There, I just saved your holiday memories.

You're welcome.