Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In one week, one day...

Jacob and I will be HERE!

At the Aura Wyndham all-inclusive resort in Cozumel, Mexico.

We reserved a "swim-up room" - meaning our patio is directly on the pool. Just slip out of bed and right into the water. No waiting for elevators in a bathrobe required.

It's currently 77 degrees there. It was snowing last time I checked here in NYC.

I can't wait!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Recap

On Christmas morning, Jacob and I woke up, ordered breakfast from our local diner (waffles and scrambled eggs - yum!), and opened our presents.

First up - Jacob gave me beautiful silver earrings from Tiffany's. Aren't they soooo pretty? I really needed some studs for everyday wear - all the earrings I had were dangly.

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He also got me what I've been DYING to have forever - a Playstation 3! As you know, I am a gamer girl at heart! And I've been really wanting to play some of the games only available on the Playstation 3 - such as Metal Gear Solid 4. (Which he had bought me as well! I've already logged in quite a few hours this weekend on the game!)

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In addition, I got the castle expansion pack to Heroscope - this board game we and our friends like to play. It's a really cool game - where you build your own 3D terrain maps to play on. This set allows you to build a castle to seige.

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And last but not least - this cute little skeleton stuffed animal, perfect for the goth girl in me. :)

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Isn't he a great gift giver!?!

Here's what I got him:

A photo scanner. He has boxes of photos in the closet he's been hoping to convert to digital.

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A Marc Jacobs messenger bag.

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And a black cashmere sweater - since he's always cold. :) As you can see it was early in the morning and he's still a bit squinty here as he models it.

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Normally I don't put clothing on Molly too much, but I figured she should be festive today. So she's wearing her Old Navy parka that my mom got her one Christmas past.

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After that, we started cooking. We'd already cooked a turkey the night before and Jacob had carved all the meat. I took that and made turkey pies. Basically you just take a bottom crust, then add turkey and gravy then add a top crust and bake for a half hour. So delicious and easy - and it's better than just plain turkey because the gravy makes the turkey juicy and tender. Plus everyone loves pie crust. We used to have turkey pies every year at Christmas back home and they're still my favorite meal ever.

We also had mashed potatoes, corn, peas, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. What a feast!

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I bought one of those Yule Log DVDs and put it on for atmosphere. It gave the room a really warm feeling - even if there was technically no heat. Oh and note the gorgeous wine glasses and decanter in this photo. Gifts from Jacob's parents that went to very good use.

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Liz came over, bearing dessert! A delicious cake for us and some orange jello for Jacob. Sadly I didn't take a photo of the cake - but it was awesome, let me tell you!

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After dinner Liz and I loaded up Boogie Superstar on the Wii and had a dance and sing off. Man, that thing is quite a workout! The pics are a bit blurry we were moving so fast! At least you're spared our attempts at singing!! Most of the songs on the disc were ones we never heard of--teeny bopper music like AJ and Ally, so we were improvising quite a bit. Still, it was super fun and we were laughing so hard we could barely sing at times.

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Later on, Marcos and Leanna came over and we played a board game called Ticket to Ride that Liz had brought over. Good game if you haven't played it.

And that was pretty much it! A fun, festive holiday in NYC! Couldn't ask for anything more!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

What I remember about Christmas...

As with most kids growing up, Christmas morning was always the best morning of the year. I'd never be able to sleep in. Five am and I was up and awake, but cruelly forced to stay in my room until Mom and Dad awoke. I'd try to pass the time by reading short stories in this book of fairy tales I had in my closet - one of those big hardcover books that someone must have given me at one time or another The type with the real stories - often gritty - rather than the happy Disneyized versions. The one I remember most is The Little Match Girl. So sweet and tragic.

After what seemed an eternity (but was probably really six am) Mom and Dad got up - and would...INSIST ON TAKING SHOWERS!! Before presents! Oh the humanity. So my brother and I would sit at the top of the steps, waiting to go downstairs, dying to know what Santa had left us.

Finally they'd be done getting dressed and annouce it was time to go downstairs. My dad would always have to go first. He'd walk slowly down the stairs, step by step, as my brother and I held our breaths with anticipation. Then he'd, without fail, gasp loudly and say, "Oh, oh!"

My brother and I would look at one another. Oh, oh?"

"I think Santa made a mistake," he'd say, slowly and dramatically. "And left...TOO MANY PRESENTS!"

That was our cue to come barreling down the stairs to see for ourselves. And sure enough, there were piles and piles of gifts under our tree, all colorfully wrapped. But one gift stood out amongst them all. The one we had asked for.

You see, in our house we weren't allowed to make Christmas lists. We could only ask for one thing. And whatever that thing was (within reason) - we'd be guaranteed to get on Christmas morning. I remember it being agonizing to try to decide what to ask for each year. Three presents stand out in my mind today. A Cabbage Patch Kid (the year they were impossible to find), a Little House on the Prairie Colorforms set (an inexpensive request, but man I love that thing sooo much!), and this special doll from the Sears catalog that came with a ton of outfits and baby furniture. (It was so freaking awesome, I wish I could find a picture to show you.) Looking back, I actually like the no-list rule. It made that one gift so special.

But now was not the time to open presents. First we had to march into the family room and open our stockings. My parents were good at stocking them to the brim with fun stuff and, of course, lots of candy. They were really health conscious and so getting candy was a rare treat for us. My secret hope, every Christmas, was to get a stuffed animal in my stocking. Which oftentimes I did.

Now it was time for breakfast. Mom would usually cook soft boiled eggs or something easy like that. We'd eat as fast as we could, washing them down with egg nog, then rush back to the living room for present opening time.

We'd open presents one at a time, my brother being the youngest going first. We'd marvel over each gift and thank the person (or Santa) who brought it. The trick was picking presents that weren't socks or mittens first, leaving them for last. For some reason, I always ended up with a few extra presents after everyone else was done. My parents insisted they spent the same on each of us, so I'm not sure why. But I always secretly hoped for it just the same.

After that, we'd play with our toys while Mom started dinner and Dad put on Christmas music, preparing for our company. My Grandmother (Mom's mother) and Uncle Chuck would usually show up first and we'd open their presents and then my other Grandmother would come by a bit later. (She'd always have given us our presents beforehand, so we'd have them on Christmas morning. At the time I thought she must be rich because she always gave the best, most expensive presents.) And then lastly my aunt and uncle and cousins Jennnifer and Maria would arrive. That was the best part because now we had two more people our age to play with. We'd show each new guest our gifts and then Mom would announce that dinner was ready.

Dinner was always turkey pies and they were soo good. My mom claims now it was just because she's not a good cook and they were really easy to make, but I don't care. To me, they'll always be the best Christmas meal ever. Hot turkey and gravy, swaddled under a flaky pie crust. Yum! This year, I'm attempting to recreate this here in New York for Jacob and Liz. Cross fingers it comes out as good as Mom's always did.

After dinner we'd usually play with our cousins some more and pose for photos. We have this one photo of the four of us cousins sitting on the couch that we took year after year after year. It become lovingly dubbed "The Cousins Couch Picture" and we still take it if we're ever together to this day. I wish I had a few to show you - all my copies burned in my house fire. (Anyone family member reading this have one I can post?

And then everyone would leave and Christmas would officially be over. We'd play with our new toys and then eventually go to bed. Always thinking to ourselves as we drifted off to sleep - this was definitely the best Christmas ever!!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don't forget to give!

It can be tempting, especially during tough economic times, to cross giving to charities off your holiday to-do list. But just giving a little can do so much for someone less fortunate.

I recently produced a Better TV segment on three very worthy charities. Check it out and find it in your heart to give.

* Charity: Water
* In a Perfect World Foundation
* WaggyTail Rescue

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Party!

Since no one's company seems to be throwing holiday parties this year due to the bad economy, Liz and I decided to throw one of our own at The Dove Parlour in the West Village Saturday night.

To make it extra fun, I made up little gift bags for each attendee - stuffed with silly toys and candy you might remember as a kid.

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The dress code was swanky - but I decided to add a festive Santa hat just for fun. Here's my "before" pictures, in front of our lovely Christmas tree! As you can see from photo #2, Molly got a holiday haircut earlier in the day. She still doesn't love the santa hat though.

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Liz did a cool menswear kind of thing. And Elizabeth wore this amazing vintage Betsy Johnson dress.

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After scouring the menu, Stacey and Leanna decided on hot mulled wine. Perfect for a cold, snowy winter's night!

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I was very happy to have my friend Jamie stop by! She's a dear old friend I met when I used to live in San Diego.

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The talk went far into the night. And while I swear everyone got along just fine, for some reason, everytime we took a candid photo, someone ended up looking kind of mad or surprised.

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The gift bags were a great hit. And soon our table was full of toys.

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This demonic snowman - inside one of the gift bags, got a lot of attention.

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All in all, a fun time was had by all! Happy Holidays everyone!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas in Texas

I've been a super lazy blogger this week and I apologize. Just a lot to do to get ready for the holidays!

So this past weekend we headed down to Kingsland, Texas (about an hour outside of Austin) to celebrate Christmas with Jacob's family at their lake house.

They had a gigantic tree that puts ours to shame. Of course, so do their cathedral ceilings.

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Jacob's mom had a Christmas stocking all made for me! With my name on it and everything! Made me feel like one of the family. :)

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As my dad used to say every morning at Christmas, Uh, oh. I think Santa made a mistake...and left TOO MANY PRESENTS! (This was never true, by the way, since it's literally impossible to ever have too many presents!)

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Jacob's sister must know her brother well, judging from the Batman t-shirt she bought him.

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Not to mention the Dallas Cowboys baseball hat.

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I, myself, got tons of great presents. Some highlights - a gift certificate to the UGGS store online. Can't WAIT to pick out a new pair of boots. I cried when my old ones wore out last year and I to throw them away. We also got a beautiful set of wine glasses and decanter as well as some martini glasses and a mixer. (Perfect for our next party!) I got some great earrings and other jewelry, too. Yay!

Afterwards, we baked like five kinds of cookies.

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And got ready for our surf and turf dinner. (I just went with the turf, as I'm allergic to shellfish.) The steak was cooked on the grill and tasted absolutely delicious!!

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Jacob's friend Josh came over with his daughter Abbey. So adorable. She loved the Christmas stuffed dog Jacob's mom gave her. It played one Christmas song. And she wanted to hear it over and over and over again.

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At night we played games and spent some time in the jacuzzi. Now THAT'S something you don't do on Christmas in New England!

The next day we drove to Dallas to watch the Cowboys beat the Giants. You might remember I had bought the tickets for Jacob (a die-hard Cowboy's fan) for our anniversary. So I was glad the present ended up coming with a win as well.

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I liked the Christmas halftime show with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

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They're tearing down the stadium after this season, so this was one of the final games. You can buy one of these seats!

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All in all, an excellent trip - and a great time to get out of the cold! I never thought in a million years I'd say this, but I really like Texas.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cowboys 20 Giants 8

Cowboys 20 Giants 8, originally uploaded by starrgirl77.

I think Jacob enjoyed his anniversary present. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas #1

I'm heading to Texas this weekend to celebrate an early Christmas with Jacob's family. We're also going to see the Cowboys play the Giants in Dallas (and hopefully not get slaughtered!)

In the meantime, thought I'd share with you a couple pictures of our Christmas tree. We put it up this week!

As you can see, Molly isn't a big fan of her Santa hat.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How to Throw a Successful Book Party

I am guest blogging at my agent Kristin Nelson's Pub Rants blog today - offering up tips on how to throw a successful book party.

Check it out!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Liz and Mar - Honorary Socialites

Last night Liz and I took part in the second annual Luxe Cause - a holiday charity event hosted by socialites Mina Jacqueline Au, Tracy Stern, Anisha Lakahni, and Gillian Hearst. Taking place in Tracy's breathtaking Upper East Side apartment, each partcipant displayed their wares for well-heeled guests to peruse and purchase--all in the name of charity, of course!

Liz and I perched on a window seat, high above the city, and sold copies of our books--the proceeds going to our favorite charities. The people watching alone was amazing--okay, the shoe/boot watching alone was amazing in and of itself. And Liz got to get her tea fix on with Tracy, who, as I've mentioned here before, does the fabulous SalonTea line of products. (I think Liz bought out half her supply.) And we met a ton of really nice people who were so gracious in coming to check out our books.

We even got written up in one of the big Manhattan society blogs, Guest of a Guest--a definite first for me! :)

All in all - a night to remember - and a great cause too! I'm really happy Mina invited us to participate.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Book Party Recap

Last night fellow YA author Melissa Walker and I hosted what turned out to be a fantastic book release party at Butter. We had a geat turnout - probably about 75 people over the course of the night. Great crowd too--attendees from Vogue, Teen Vogue, ELLE, InStyle, Daily Candy, CNN and, of course, Better TV. We also had socialites, publicists, a ton of great authors, and Dorchester and Penguin editor types.

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As people snacked on Butter's signature homemade chocolates and sipped martinis at the bar, Melissa and I mingled and signed books.

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Since the theme of my new book is gaming, I brought a bunch of fun kids' games to put on the tables for guests to play. People got really into it!

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Socialite Mina Jacqueline Au and author of Schooled, Anisha Lakhani, play Connect Four.

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Britney, Jacob, Benny and Chris play Hungry Hungry Hippos.

I was especially excited that my friend Diana Peterfreund (Secret Society Girl, Rampant) came up from DC for the night. I hadn't seen her in like forever, so it was great to catch up.

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Liz Maverick with Diana.

Diana arrived accompanied by the amazing Scott Westerfeld and his wife author Justine Larbalestier and author Maureen Johnson.. I'm such a big fan of Scott's Uglies series and it was great to meet him in person at last. He was so nice and down to earth and approachable. And he told me he'd seen Gamer Girl all over the place while on his book tour. Yay!

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Scott even gave us a sneak peak of the steampunk artwork of his upcoming novel Leviathon. OMG we are all in for a treat when this one comes out! I think we have to wait til 2010 though. :(

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All in all it was a great night! Couldn't have asked for a better turn-out or a better party. Thanks to everyone who came out and partied with us! Also thanks to Clarins and Lierac for their gift bag donations and Butter for allowing us use of the space.