Friday, December 28, 2007

what I did on my winter vacation

Sunday, December 16, 2007

christmas giving


I've had company for the past week and a half, and it has been super fun. I am exhausted. My 3 out-of-town guests and I had a lot of fun nights out, walked all over San Francisco, spent way too much money, and watched the entire 3rd season of LOST. Hoo boy; I can't wait for that to start up again.

Today I decided to face reality- ibym "reality"... "a messy house, a million loads of laundry, and a to-do list about a mile long." I didn't actually get to my laundry today because of a lack of quarters and the bank being closed, but I did manage to buy Christmas cards, go to the drugstore, plan my menu and gather my recipes for Christmas dinner, holidazzle le blog, give myself a mani/pedi, and
completely start and finish my Christmas shopping.

That's right folks, with the exception of one or two homemade gifts, I decided to embrace my new hippie surroundings and de-consumerize this year.
No shopping. My family is by no means wealthy, but we all have plenty and don't lack for you know... things, and stuff, so I thought that maybe the world could be a better place if I used the money I would normally spend on buying them gifts and donate it to causes that I thought they would appreciate. I did a lot of research, actually, and found some really great charities, so I thought I would link 'em here in case anyone else would be interested in similar giving. It's a perfect gift for the people in your life that have everything- plus an added bonus of good karma.

for Dad and Stepmom: The VVA Fund, which supports Vietnam Veterans. My dad served in the Air Force in Vietnam, and the VVA has a great operating budget- using only around 1-2% of their income (the legal limit is 25% in order to call yourself a not-for-profit organization) for operating expenses. The Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund (VVAF) supports 69 projects in 25 states, specifically focusing on Disability Assistance for disabled veterans and projects supporting Homeless veterans.

for Mom and Stepdad: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since they recently purchased land in southwest North Carolina and intend to retire there, they will be utilizing the Park on a regular basis. I signed them up to be "Wildflower Friends," and their gift will help preserve, restore, and enhance the park's natural and cultural resources.

for sister and brother-in-law (on Mom's side): The SPCA of Columbus, Ohio. Their family are big animal lovers and have rescued 3 pets already. Their donation goes toward abandoned pets getting immunizations and adoption into good homes.

for sister and brother-in-law (on Dad's side): The Sierra Club, which is the nation's oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization. They grow lots of their own vegetables, make their own wine, and are really interested in organic farming and sustaining the environment.

Uncle Al and Auntie Sandy: Young Life Northwest Houston. All their clan has been extremely involved in YL for years. Ask anyone in the country who has ever been to a meeting, and they probably know Uncle Al (if by reputation only). Their donation will fund YL programs right in their neighborhood, benefiting the kids they actually work with.

Cousin Julia: Defeat Autism Now! Jule has a big heart and a special affinity for children with special needs. DAN!
is dedicated to educating parents and clinicians regarding biomedically-based research, appropriate testing, and safe and effective interventions for autism for those parents and clinicians who do not regard psychotropic drugs as the best or only means of treating autistic patients.

Cousin Justin: was too slow getting back to me regarding a charity he specifically wanted, so I chose for him, and my personal favorite is the Sesame Street Workshop. Sesame Street Workshop funds innovative and engaging educational content for television, radio, books, magazines, interactive media, and outreach for children in over 120 countries.

Step-grandparents: UNICEF, another on of my favorite charities. UNICEF has a great website, including an "inspired gift" page where you can choose EXACTLY what you want your money to fund and send the honorary an e-card telling them what they paid for. The gift I made in their name will fund 100 children two crucial measles vaccinations. Measles kills over 800,000 children a year (and leaves some survivors with lifelong disabilities)-- can you believe $46 can save 100 of them?

So, happy Christmas to all. I love my family; they are all smart and loving and giving, and I know they will all enjoy sacrificing a candle or a DVD to make our world a little cleaner, safer, and/or more educated.

Monday, December 10, 2007

ok folks, back to yule

OK, so, sorry it's been so long since I've said hello. I can't believe I haven't updated since Thanksgiving, but it always happens that when I have something worth blogging about, I'm way too busy with said activity to actually sit down and tell you about it, and when I have the time to spend, then there is nothing going on to tell.

Sooo, since Thanksgiving, I have: come in 3rd place at Power Jack's Monday Night Pop Culture Trivia Challenge (working my way up from dead last), given up forever on butternut squash and made some truly stellar tomato soup, hand-crafted a Star of David out of popsicle sticks for my friend Blake's "I Love Christmas and Jews" Christmas tree-slash-Hannukah bush, booked a ski trip, got a visit from Scotty and KJ:

lost my favorite scarf, been attacked by a rather cheeky squirrel in Golden Gate Park, made a new friend, bought a piece of pizza for a homeless man, joined Bay Area Mensa, walked on the beach, had multiple houseguests, broke my vacuum cleaner, thrown pretty much the best Christmas party I have ever had, and watched possibly the worst movie in the history of the universe.

You have to see it. It's an ABC Family Original called Holiday in Handcuffs, starring Melissa Joan Hart, Mario "A.C. Slater" Lopez, and Markie Post- and I swear, it is the most horrible movie I have ever seen in my whole life- and yes, that does include Just my Luck with Lindsay Lohan.

Seriously, you guys should check it out. There's a kidnapping, a gay brother, a drunk grandmother, a bitchy fiancee, a running Oreo gag, the unfortunate usage of the word "boink," and everyone learning the true meaning of love, communication, and acceptance in under 2 hours.... Now that's what I call Christmas!!!