Saturday, December 31, 2011

Remember the old + Welcome the new

I am sitting here in New York City on my buttercream microsuede corporate apartment couch feeling the way I normally feel as the end of a year draws to a close.
I always have an urge to capture the memories of the passing year and lock them up, 
hold them close, preserve them from ever leaving my heart.

There's something so exciting about the promise of a new year.
What will it hold? What surprises will there be?
So many different thoughts race through our minds depending on what season of life we find ourselves in...
Will this be the year I land the job of my dreams?
Will I meet the love of my life?
Will this be the year I get pregnant?
Will I finally get to retire?
Will I be able to purchase my first house?

I think we all like the idea of a clean slate. A brand new year with no mistakes in it yet.
A fresh year to accept our own challenges to cook more or exercise daily or tackle a new DIY.

And while I am excited to behold all that 2012 has for me and my little family,
I don't want to forget the past year, the one that shaped us into who we are today,
the one that helped bring us to this very place.

Here are a few of my favorite memories from 2011.

January / moved to New York City in the middle of a blizzard
February / learned to navigate our fair city
March / hung out with Jimmy Fallon
April / found our favorite pizza in Brooklyn

May / welcomed Spring to the city
June / discovered Central Park at dusk
July / dined outdoors
August / introduced my parents to the Big Apple

September / walked in the cool of the day
October / met some of my favorite ladies in Boston
November / celebrated Thanksgiving with friends in NYC
December / bought our first city Christmas tree

Thanks for being such a great year, 2011. I liked you a whole lot.
2012, bring it on. You've got some shoes to fill.

Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?
Anne of Green Gables

Happy New Year, friends.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's still Christmas over here + a birthday, too

Hi blog people! It's a little quiet around blogland, huh?
I've been missing you all, though, so I thought I'd give you a quick little Rigo family update...

It still looks like Christmas around these parts. The tree is still lit and there are still presents to give.

We broke out the big, down comforter last night. NYC finally decided to act like it's winter.
27 degrees that felt like 19 was welcomed by cozying up with my man under blankets and falling asleep
by the light of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Bliss.

We're still reading Christmas cards and I'm still sporting Christmas plaid pajams.
And I am totally okay with that.

In some non-Christmas related news, today is my friend's birthday.
She's the kind of friend you just really enjoy spending time with.
 The one you wish you could click your heels, show up on her doorstep and throw your arms around her neck.
Here's wishing you a beautiful, non-Christmasy birthday, Elizabeth. I love you a whole lot.

Whether it's still Christmas at your place or your birthday or just a Thursday, hope it's a happy one.

Friday, December 23, 2011

have a holly jolly Christmas

Last Saturday, a friend and I met up for manicures.
We were talking about what color we wanted when I said to Jessica,
I think I want one glittered nail on each hand (a subtle nod to this lady).
Jessica nodded in agreement and said, Oh you mean a disco nail.
You learn something new everyday.

Merry Christmas from me and my disco nail!


Merry Christmas from my man and me!

We both like you guys so much.
I like you tons and he likes you because I like you.
That's how marriage works.

From Mr. and Mrs. Rigo to all of you...
may your days be filled with love and light.

see you sometime next week!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

traditions + We'll be home for Christmas

a new tradition: taking pictures of the Rockefeller tree 2010, 2011

I love tradition, especially at Christmastime. Here are a few of my favorites...

Picking out a tree. Just the right one for our family. I always wanted the biggest one on the lot and would have to be reminded our living room wasn't eight stories high.

Hugging the tree. Once we found our tree, my mom would and I would stand on either side and hug the fragrant fir with smiles a mile wide while my dad took our picture.

Taking the tree home. Always in my dad's vintage green truck, our little family sitting three deep in the cab. Transporting our new tree any other way would have been a sacrilege.

Watering the tree. My mom has a certain pitcher that she always uses to water the tree. It's mustard yellow and has a long spout. I loved being big enough for the chore.

Lighting the tree. This was one of my absolute favorite parts. Once the lights are lit, we check the tree from the road. We'd hurry out the door into the brisk, chilly night, walk down our driveway and stand in the middle of our front yard and clap that Christmas had officially begun at The Mitchell's. Exclamations of It's perfect! and The best one yet! coming from us all.

Carols. My parents have always loved music and during the holidays, the tunes would nearly be constant. I have a soft place in my heart for Aaron Neville's Louisiana Christmas Day. Don't hate.

Wood burning fire. My dad would make the best fires that would run you out of the house into the cold night to get some relief. I can remember my little self sitting in front of the fire after my bath letting my hair dry, feeling all Little House in the Big Woods.

Christmas Eve. We always spend Christmas Eve going to our church's candlelight evening service and then to dinner at my nana's. She cooks the same meal for us that her mother cooked for her as a little girl on Christmas Eve. Talk about tradition. I love it so.

Christmas Eve Gift. The tale goes: the first person to say Christmas Eve Gift! on the 24th to another person is owed an early gift by the one on the receiving end of the message. So if my dad says Christmas Eve Gift! first to me, then I owe him a gift right then. We mostly leave off the gift exchange part, but find a lot of pride in being the winner. My whole family is in on this tradition: grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins. You dare not answer the phone on Christmas Eve saying hello or you'll be had. I have found one of the best ways to win is to shout the tiding from my bed. My dad is always awake before me, though, and has a sixth sense about when I'm going to shout. We usually tie.

Christmas Day. Magical. I'd be filled with such excitement the night before, I could hardly go to sleep. I'd tell myself, the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner it will be here! I love those fluttery feelings of excitement over everyone opening gifts and oohing and aahing. Seeing the plate of cookies I'd left for Santa filled with crumbs, evidence that he'd seen my note and read my words a gift in itself. The day simply lingers on and honestly, that's one of the best parts. The order was/is: gifts from Santa, unwrapped, displayed by the tree. Gifts to one another. Stockings. Brunch at my granny's. Cousins. Family. Being together and being happy. Contentment in it's truest form.

Christmas Gift. Same as Christmas Eve Gift! just on the 25th and drop the Eve.

Married Christmas. Since Justin and I got married, we started some traditions of our own. We save a cutting from our tree stump, and write on it the date and where we're living. The next year, I tie ribbon through the stump and it becomes an ornament. I can't convince him to hug the tree with me, but he will at least smile for a quick pic. Another tradition we started was celebrating Advent. Lighting a progression of candles each Sunday in December symbolizing the coming of Light into the world.

These are just a handful of some of my favorite traditions. A few others would be: making Martha Washingtons, putting up Christmas cards from scattered family and friends, meticulously wrapping gifts, watching some Christmas classics on TV, being silly with my cousin Kelly, littles playing, telling my dad to tell Santa Claus I've been a good girl, baking in the kitchen with my mama.

We feel rich this year to have some time to go home for Christmas. This is the first year in all the years I've known Justin that he has Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off work (other than last year when we were in between travel assignments).

Let the traditions continue.

We are very rich, indeed.

/ / /

A note to keep it real...

I just painted a picture for you of all my favorite memories, the ones I chose to share. While they are all true, I feel like I need to issue this disclaimer: we are not a perfect family. We each have our own flaws and are selfish by nature. I am pretty sure there were a couple Christmases we left the tree lot in a huff because I was pouting about the tree not being big enough or tall enough or the one I wanted. I am certain there were years where frustrations were high and grace was low and we all got our feelings hurt.

But here's the crux of it all: at the end of the day, we are family and we love each other greatly. We forgive hurt feelings and we won't allow drama to reign. When I think of Christmases past, I don't dwell on the times we ticked one another off or the tree I didn't get. Instead, I remember all those beautiful memories above and strive to make more of those and less of the other.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Old Flat Top

What would you say if I told you Justin and I found this gem of a vintage camper in the East village,
we just couldn't help ourselves and now we are the proud new owners?

You would say, Molly, you are lying.
And I would say, Busted.

I grew up going camping with my grandparents and I loved it.
I think Old Flat Top would have made a nice addition to the Rigo family.
I could've decorated the mess out of that old fella.

Next Christmas, we might just show up on your doorstep a la National Lampoon's style.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa Claus came to town. Mrs. Claus, too.

My very own Santa Claus came to New York City and brought my mama with him.
We all have a slight affinity for Angry Birds.

We did a bit of window shopping.

Pausing to get a special sendoff from the FAO toy soldiers for some of our favorite little friends at home.

Oh the memories of Cabbage Patch Kids.
FAO was commemorating the 1983 doll, the one that came out the year I was born. Serendipity.
When I was four, I got to pick out my own baby, Leoni, at the Cabbage Patch Hospital.
Leoni had a friend who looked just like this doll with the sailor dress and all... she belonged to my friend Anne.
We were good little mamas.

Next up, the Apple store. I think my mom and I were still mesmerized by FAO.

It was my Dad's turn to play.
He said, I bet Angry Birds would be awesome on an iPad.

We had a special date to see the Radio City Rockettes.

Thom Filicia decked their halls this year.

Such a beautiful show and so very worth it.

Introducing my parents to The Tree. We're old friends now.

I loved seeing the look of wide-eyed wonder on my mom's face. I know the exact way she was feeling.

Meanwhile, I think J was looking for Liz Lemon.

Dinner at The Smith. Get the jalapeƱo cheese grits.

Dad and I made a stop by one of our favorite local bakeries to get treats for Mama and J. And us.

I like the sight of them at the subway. They make me proud adapting to city life so well.

Apparently, Santa and his helpers ride the subway, too.

On our way to shop the holiday markets at Grand Central and Union Square,
Mama and I heard Junior's cheesecake calling our names.
The look on my mom's face says it all.

Santas in Grand Central getting ready for a flash mob.

Holiday market shopping with cider.
It was good, but not as good as the Rigo Swazzle.

Dropping by Chelsea Market, home to the Food Network, another family fave.

Making a garland for our little tree.

Sunday morning we went to Brooklyn and heard some of the most amazing music I've ever heard.

Dinner at Molly's Irish Pub. This place is swiftly becoming one of my favorite places in the city.
The wood burning fireplace makes the place feel especially cozy on such chilly nights.

Family Almost Christmas Dinner.
J carving his very first turkey which was amazing. He won the title of Official Turkey Cooker.

I am a fortunate woman... my husband loves my parents and my parents love my husband.
We had big nights out and cozy nights in.

It was a very merry Almost Christmas with the people I love most.

Monday, December 19, 2011

baby, it's finally cold outside

It's 28 degrees as I type this, the coldest it's been this season in NYC other than the freak Halloween snow storm.

Our neighbors have an alarm clock that has been going off every 6 minutes for the past 24 hours. I almost don't even notice it anymore. I think they might've already taken off for the holidays and forgot to reset their clock. Justin thinks they might be dead. Let's hope it's the former.

I heard a little girl tell her mother what she wanted for Christmas as I was walking down the sidewalk.
She was maybe seven...
"A pink scooter. A tattoo on my forehead. Neon yellow hair. Oh! and 42 iPads."
The mom replied: Why would you need 42 iPads? You only have one set of hands.
Daughter: So I can play all the games at the same time while I text.
The mom: What games would you play?
Daughter: Angry Birds, Scrabble and all the other ones.
Brother, who's maybe four, chimes in: But 22 of them need to be Kindle Fires.

The subways are filled with folks going home for the holidays evidenced by suitcases on wheels and bags overflowing with festively wrapped gifts. I can't help but wonder where they're going, who all they will visit, what gifts they chose. Even though it's crazy crowded, I love it.

I try to look up as much as possible when I walk. Christmas trees and strings of lights and wreaths dot apartment windows and balconies from the ground floor all the way to the sky.

I have always wished for a certain experience in New York and today it finally happened. I hopped on the subway at our neighborhood stop. I quickly found a seat and settled in for my ride. I glanced up and noticed a girl in a beautiful green peacoat. And then I realized the girl wearing that pretty number was my friend Ashley. On the same train. In my same subway car. She lives in Queens. I live in Manhattan. What are the odds? It's a small world even in this big city.

The last time I took a cab, I was on my way to a friend's for a little party. I was wearing a fancy dress with absolutely no shame. The air was crisp. Little Drummer Boy belted from the radio. Christmas tree vendors were selling firs to young and old alike. Christmas might have arrived at that very moment for me.

We celebrated my parents' Christmas visit to the city with a family dinner, just the four of us. Our tree twinkled, Pandora rocked seasonal tunes, everyone contributed their own special dish, candles flickered. We laughed. We ate. We took our time and didn't rush. We were altogether and right where we wanted to be. There was something so special about that night. Almost like a little voice whispered to me, Don't forget this. I found myself answering, As if I could.

Christmas magic doesn't only occur on December 25th.

Tender moments and comical ones, too, are all around us, daring us to pause and be captivated. I don't want to rush through these days or allow them to pass me by in a flash.

If Little Drummer Boy is going play, I am going to listen. And probably sing along, too.

Don't forget this.

As if I could.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Brazen Me + It's almost Christmas!

 I started doing posts called The Brazen Me on September 28, almost three months ago.
I've updated you a few times on my journey toward becoming a more healthy me.
So far, I have lost 8 pounds.
Not as much as I'd like to report, but at least moving in the right direction.

I have lacked in the determination department as of late. It's hard to break habits, no?
Here's what I know: I desire to be wholly healthy.
Not just physically, but emotionally, relationally, spiritually.
Thanks so much to those of you cheering me on along this journey.

/ / /

In other news... Y'all. Christmas is almost here!
Festive decor has been finding it's way to our apartment since Thanksgiving.
Justin told me he never knew we'd pay money for pinecones.
My response: Yeah, but these smell like cinnamon.
J: They smell like money.

You can see who's the spender and who's the saver, no?

Good things coming next week, friends. Good things.
The big ole blog revamp probably won't make an appearance until 2012, but you never know.
I do love a good surprise.

Merry Almost Christmas, friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

party of four

Last night, I put on a fancy dress from asos, stained my lips red, threw on my cowgirl boots
and grabbed a cab heading south to Colleen's for a little Christmas partay.

Colleen and her pal Tina posing with one of the many delicacies of the evening...
Colleen's chocolate pecan pie. Ohmyworditwasdamngood.

We minded our manners and had dinner first.

And then we got down to business with dessert. And wine, of course.
Tina made gingerbread with real whipped cream with a citrusy twist.
I could have slapped somebody.

Colleen and I wished for some of our blogger buddies to be with us. One day we'll have one big party.
Here's looking at you, kid.

One of each, thankyouverymuch.

Party of four.
The striking redhead on the far left? That's Tina. She works for Tory Burch.
And guess what she brought with her in addition to that yummy gingerbread?
One-of-a-kind Tory scarves for all.
Once we finally picked our jaws up off the floor, we managed a group pic with our lovely gifts.

My beautiful navy leopard Tory. I couldn't have picked out a better one.
Thank you, Tina!

I stopped by J's work to see him on my way home from my big night.
The plate of goodies the girls sent with me lasted oh about five minutes.

Oh well. 'Tis the season for sharing.
And Tory Burch scarf wearing.