Monthly Archives: December 2013

Home for the holidays

Merry Christmas! / ¬°Feliz Navidad! I hope that you are all enjoying some kind of a slowdown or a break right now, and that you have plenty of time to spend with your loved ones, wherever you are.

I came home from school on the night of the 21st, in the middle of a big snowstorm that ended up dumping about 8 inches of the white stuff in our neighborhood. The next day involved lots of shoveling. On the 23rd, I went shopping (I swore I’d be done by then), baked three kinds of cookies, and wrapped all of my gifts. In my head, I was going to be finished with all of those tasks by about 5 o’ clock. I finished at 12:30 AM.

Idyllic, until you have to shovel it out of your driveway. (Oh, why am I complaining? My family did most of it.)

Idyllic, until you have to shovel it out of your driveway. (Oh, why am I complaining? My family did most of it.)

Cookie baking started at 8 AM...

Cookie baking started at 8 AM…

...picked up again around 5 PM...

…picked up again around 5 PM…

...and finally ended around 11 PM.

…and finally ended around 11 PM.

The next morning, I did a little cleaning, prepped a breakfast casserole, and baked a coffee cake for Christmas morning. After all of that, the huge payoff was a slow and lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We like to draw things out in my house- wake up, make the coffee, maybe open the stockings, then eat breakfast, then open a few presents, then take a break to talk to family, then a few more gifts, then a break…and so on until it’s all done. We may have established a new record for longest Christmas gift-opening this year- not because we have hundreds of gifts, but because we take our sweet time. I will be doing the same with my own children and they will probably lose their minds.

No words.

No words.

Just about sums it up.

Just about sums it up.

In other news: I got the grant! And…I’m not going to Chile this time around. For one thing, flight prices went up and would exceed the entire award. For another (and more important) thing, it would just have been too much stress to organize a trip right at the end of finals week, and then be traveling for almost the entirety of my shorter-than-normal break. Conversations with no less than two advisors, my boss, my parents, and four friends confirmed my instinct that all of the craziness would not be worth it. So I’m taking a break and spending more time at home than I have since last winter break.

I knew barely a day into it that this was the right decision. I haven’t been this relaxed and relatively unoccupied in months. My life would be so incredibly hectic right now were I to be heading to Chile next week. This is not to say that I don’t miss everyone and everything in that skinny little country and that hot, bustling city I’ve called home, but sometimes you just need to stick around in one place for a little while longer. And for me right now, that place is here. I know that I’ll be back in Santiago one day. The links are too strong now for it to be any other way. But this was not the time. If I were supposed to be going, I would just know, and I would not have agonized over the decision, and it would not have caused me so much stress. Being an ambitious person makes it really difficult to say no to an opportunity like a paid international trip. But I also needed to realize that the bigger opportunity may have been this very vacation that I’ve got right now. Everything happens for a reason- and so far, it’s turning out very, very well.

Life is good, friends. I hope that you can celebrate the holidays a little while longer, even beyond New Year’s. If you’re Catholic like me, remember that Christmas doesn’t technically end for us until Epiphany- so don’t stop until then! Appreciate the time you have with your loved ones, and let them know that you’re happy to be there with them. Put away your phone and shut your laptop down for a while (…says the girl writing this on the Internet). Just sit. And smile. Think about how good this year was- and how much more awesome next year will be.

Wishing you peace, joy, and above all, love,

Gaby

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A marathon and a sprint

Well that was a fast two months since I last posted!

Hello everybody. How are you? I’m alive. And doing well. As I predicted, life got busy busy busy after that last post. There were essays to write and projects to present and life to be lived.

Summary:

I had a birthday! I wore a wool coat- the opposite of the shorts that I wore on my last birthday in Santiago. Despite it being a Monday, I was able to celebrate with a yummy dinner, a pisco cocktail (Peruvian, but you know what, it works), and trivia. It was everything I could have asked for a very unimportant birthday at the beginning of the week. There were no Taylor Swift songs involved, and I was quite happy about it. No photos- it seems like some of the most enjoyable nights are the ones that are the least documented.

After the birthday, there was Thanksgiving! Which of course meant that I got to go home and bake a bit. I arrived at home Tuesday night, and my baking ingredients were all ready to go. So I spent Wednesday throwing flour all over the place, and this was the result:

This was my second try at this pie crust. I threw the first one out. I didn't think this was a good sign for the rest of the day.

This was my second try at this pie crust. I threw the first one out. I didn’t think this was a good sign for the rest of the day.

This is the magic stuff.

This is the magic stuff.

Ready! I panicked for nothing. On the right is excess pie filling. I like to eat that for breakfast. With a side of real pie.

Ready! I panicked for nothing. On the right is excess pie filling. I like to eat that for breakfast. With a side of real pie.

I make the pumpkin pie mostly for myself. The real show-stopper is the apple pie.

This wasn't even all of the apples that I prepped for this pie. The rest I turned into an apple crisp.

This wasn’t even all of the apples that I prepped for this pie. The rest I turned into an apple crisp.

I seriously worried about the crust bursting and the pies overflowing into the oven. Why? Why does my mind work this way?

I seriously worried about the crust bursting and the pies overflowing into the oven. Why? Why does my mind work this way?

Turned out just fine. As always. And I could have fit the excess apples inside. Note to self: fruits cook down in heat. Duh...

Turned out just fine. As always. And I could have fit the excess apples inside. Note to self: fruit cooks down in heat. Duh…

Thanksgiving Day itself was lovely. My dad made an amazing dinner, and my mom and I were faithful sous chefs (okay, my mom was the sous chef, and the dishwasher. I mostly just took pictures and ate cheese and crackers.).

It's going to be an interesting Thanksgiving the first year that I try to reproduce this goodness. My standards are very high.

It’s going to be an interesting Thanksgiving the first year that I try to reproduce this goodness. My standards are very high.

Serving suggestion. Everything looks better with a filter on it, right?

Serving suggestion. Everything looks better with a filter on it, right?

The next morning, I ate pie for breakfast and drank way too much coffee. I ventured out at 4 AM for Black Friday shopping, then made a big second breakfast, and lazed the rest of the day away.

Because we didn't eat enough that weekend.

Because we didn’t eat enough that weekend.

And then I went back to school. I wrote a grant proposal to go back to Chile over winter break for thesis research. If I get it, my break will look something like this: home. Cookies. Christmas. New Year’s road trip. New York to Santiago. A week of Chilean summer. Back to winter. Unpack. Repack. Back to school.

If I don’t get the grant, my break will look like this: Cookies. Christmas. New Year’s road trip. Back home. More cookies. Sleep. Back to school.

Both of those possibilities sound pretty awesome, don’t you think?

Why did I title this “A marathon and a sprint?” Because since the last time I’ve posted, that is what things have felt like around here. It’s a marathon because I had to keep going, and it was a sprint because I had a lot to get done, in not a lot of time. It is finally slowing down to a jog, as I turn in final papers and finish up my holiday shopping (the Internet is amazing), and I’m hoping it will become a stroll by the time I come home next week. I am ready for the break. And I know that whatever this break is- whether it’s a nice jog through family parties and baking, or a pretty brisk run from the US to Santiago and back- it will be exactly what I need.

All right, I overdid the running metaphor there. Thanks for bearing with me. Maybe once my brain is a little more rested, you’ll get some more pictures of cookies, and some reflections on everything that has happened in the past year. Because 2013 has been a big one, hasn’t it? And I have a feeling that 2014 is going to give me even more.

With love,

Gaby

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