Eat your heart out Dick Clark (or LMNT's top ten holiday tunes)

I tend to be one who gets bit by the Christmas bug a little later in the season than most, although I will admit this is the first year ever that I almost considered getting a tree. I'm not 100% Scrooge! Yay!

Actually, I do love Christmas, it's just that decorating for one (especially when you're not around your house on Christmas itself) doesn't really get me in the spirit. But what does get me there is music. Feeling inspired by TIG and the greatest hits collection she created for her family got me thinking about the songs that get me merry and bright. So I've cobbled together this list (and even found you corresponding videos/videos of still-frame photographs for each) of the songs that are undeniably Christmas for LMNT. Not completely conventional, some more random than others, but all are full of memories. Enjoy!

10. "Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses
The instant I hear this song, I have an uncontrollable urge to fold oatmeal colored fair isle sweaters. I spent two holiday shopping seasons working at Eddie Bauer in college and I think the number of times I heard this song is nearing on infinity (interestingly, I think that's the same number of sweaters I folded there, too). And while I could have given you a video from the 80s, what's better than a house that lights up to music?

Really, any of these 80s gems could make my countdown for the same reason as The Waitresses--I went through that list of top ten 80s Christmas hits and I'm pretty sure every single one of them made Eddie Bauer's 1995 in-store holiday compilation (with a few Bing Crosby classics for good measure).

9. We Are Santa's Elves, Videocraft Chorus
Not only is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" my all-time favorite Christmas special, but I sang this with the rest of my first grade class at Sts. Peter and Paul's 1983 Holiday Spectacular. And a one-a, and a two-a...

8. "Deck the Halls," Manheim Steamroller
There was a stretch of at least three Christmases when my mom bought this Manheim Steamroller album each year, because she had forgotten she bought it the year before (and the year before that).

7. "The Christians and the Pagans," Dar Williams
This is definitely an obscure Christmas pick, but it makes me think of my first few years living out in the Northwest, and the cozy house I had with my two dear friends, and I just like the message about us all getting along regardless our beliefs. My "peace on earth, good will toward all" offering, if you will.

6. "Sister Winter," Sufjan Stevens
This is my hipster showing. Stevens is an incredibly talented indie musician and artist (and is also devoutly Christian). He and some of his crazy artistic friends used to write and record holiday EPs that they'd send out with homemade covers. Oh to be so creative! A few years ago, he mass produced the EPs and sold them as a box set. This song is my favorite from all five discs. I love how it starts out so beautifully and peacefully--like you're outside in the expanse of the winter chill--and then erupts into a joyful celebration of a Happy Christmas.

When I think about starting my own family traditions, and I think about some of the reasons I have songs on this list it's because they were so much a part of my childhood. I like to think that these EPs will be similarly ingrained into the holiday memories of my own kids someday. And I like that.

5. "The Twelve Days of Christmas," John Denver and the Muppets
Considering I LOVED the Muppets as a kid (and wait a minute, LOVED John Denver even more than I LOVED the Muppets), I'm pretty sure I had heard this song hundreds of times, however, the first time I truly heard this song I was in college in a Hallmark store with my brother. He had just charmed the pants off of a lovely older female employee for a hot cup of wassail (which neither of us had any idea what that was), when we heard Beakers distinctive voice loud and clear proclaiming the ninth day. We literally fell down laughing so hard and had tears streaming down our faces (and that was all because of Beaker and had nothing to do with the wassail, and I still don't really know what that is).

4. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings," Bare Naked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan
Thank you, Canada, for this, the best Christmas (and Boxing Day) present ever!

3. "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays," The Carpenters
True story, I love this entire album. Trying to pick one song from it was, in a word, impossible. Yet, I managed to make the impossible possible. For as long as I can remember, we listened to this album in its entirety throughout the holiday season (and I literally mean album. In fact, I believe we had this on LP, then cassette tape, and then CD. That's right, the soothing sounds of the Carpenter family will not be bested by the advancements in audio technology). I'd recommend the entire album; whenever I hear it, I'm immediately transported "home" either decorating the tree, wrapping Christmas caramels, or just being with my family. To that end, "Home for the Holidays" seemed appropriate. Because, for the holidays you really can't beat home sweet home.

(And holy cow! If that video wasn't pure wholesome Lawrence-Welk-inspired fun, then I don't know what is.)

2. "Carol of the Bells," Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis was right up there with The Carpenters in our house. His Christmas album was on constant repeat in our living room. Plus "Carol of the Bells" is my favorite traditional carol.

1. "Colorado Christmas," The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
If you live anywhere other than Colorado, you likely have never heard this song. This is my 11th holiday season in Seattle and I know I've never heard it out there, because they'd be all, "Huh?! 'A quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow?' What's that all about? Try rain, buckets and buckets of rain." And I can tell you right now, if anyone ever wrote a song proclaiming that all that rain is "the closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere," well they'd be laughed right out of town (oh, and we'd all be doomed). But this is hands down my all-time favorite Christmas tune. And I can attest that there's nothing I look forward to more than getting on that plane and heading home to Colorado for Christmas. Even when we don't have snow, it's still a Colorado Christmas and I love it. And there's no dreaming this year, for my Christmas is most definitely white.


A social experiment with the Cupcake Twins--Part II

You can read Part I of this story here...
Have you ever walked into a bar on a Friday night with a tray full of BACON CUPCAKES!? Well, here's what happens when you do.

First of all, you need to think about how you want to carry them around. My Cupcake Twin and I considered several options: glass cake platter, silver tray, wooden tray. We finally settled on the most simple solution possible: the cheap tray in which they were baked (because you need to remember that as soon as they are all given away, you're going to be stuck carrying whatever item you chose around with you the rest of the night).

Second you need to think about your story, because why exactly are you walking around with cupcakes? It's not to say that you need to stick to your story at all times, but you do just need to be confident in why you have cupcakes, so when some random dude (who you don't want to give a cupcake to) says something about them being fantastic, you can fire back with a, "yes, WE (meaning you and your Cupcake Twin) are fantastic!" And then when he responds with a, "well that's a bold statement." You can then fire back with a, "No, that's the truth. The bold statement is walking in here with a tray of BACON CUPCAKES!" And then just walk away.

In thinking about your story, you'll also want to be thinking about your criteria for what makes for a cupcake-worthy gent. Because the executive decisions you've previously made about the size and quantity of cupcakes you'll bake and how you'll be transporting them around town will inevitably dictate the number of cupcakes you have at your disposal, you're really going to need to determine how you'll dole the treats out. Be prepared that many factors may play into you changing your mind throughout the night, but be sure you know your must haves and your deal-breakers (say for instance, as I mentioned in Part I, a wedding ring? DEAL-BREAKER! Sorry married guys who might really love cupcakes, but guess what? You've already got yourself a "cupcake"--and she's at home--and your puppy-dog eyes will get you nowhere with us. We do not feel sorry for you. And no, you cannot buy one of our cupcakes for a dollar. They are not for sale.).

Third, you need to be really careful for what you wish. Remember how I'm really good at manifesting things? Well, when you take cupcakes to a bar it's probably a good idea to be focused on what you really and truly want. Me? I wanted to see if I could get a guy's number. Did that. Social experiment victory! However, next time, I think I'm going to be a little more specific about that so I can manifest something a little bit closer to the Mr. Right I really and truly want.

Fourth, you need to be strategic about the establishments you visit. You want a place that is frequented by men (heed the advice above about manifesting, and make sure you're heading to places where the odds of meeting Mr. Right, not just any-old-Mister, are high). We went to a couple of places and had varying degrees of luck. We got our feet wet at an Irish pub--safe environment full of bacon-lovers and men--and then headed to a little fancier spot we tend to frequent. As we were heading out for the night, we did wonder if we'd be allowed to bring food in, or if they would shun our tasty treats. As it turns out, if you reserve a couple for your servers and bartenders it can go a long way.

About that last point, when our server at the Irish pub asked us about the cupcakes it was impossible to not tell her what we were doing. She thought the idea was brilliant, so of course we gave her a cupcake, and then we gave one to the bartender, and then when we got to the second bar, we gave five away to the owners/bartenders and serving staff, because we know them pretty well, and because they've had to put up with our craziness on more than one occasion. In the event you're keeping count, that's seven courtesy cupcakes gifted. And okay, we split one, so that's eight out and only four left for prospective charming guys. Whoops!

With our cupcakes rationed, we ended up handing two out to a couple of guys who were sitting near us at the Irish pub, our approach was just to ask them if they wanted cupcakes they said yes, ate them, enjoyed them, and then left (granted we asked them if they wanted cupcakes as they were preparing to leave). Neither of us wanted anything to come from giving these two away, it was actually more about proving to ourselves that we could actually give cupcakes away to people other than the employees of the establishments we were visiting. Social experiment victory!

When we were down to our final two cupcakes it was later in the evening and we were sitting at the bar in our final destination on a very uncharacteristically quiet night. Prospects were looking grim (only the group of guys which contained both the married man who would pay good money for a BACON CUPCAKE! and the guy who most definitely could not handle our fantastic boldness), until two nicely dressed and unmarried guys enter the bar. They sit at a high-top table behind us and we tried out a new pick-up move. We grab two coasters and place one cupcake on each. We give them to our server--who is in cahoots with us, especially after we give her a cupcake of her own, even in spite of the fact that she's a vegetarian--who takes them over to the table and says, "The lovely ladies at the bar have sent these cupcakes over to you." And it works like a charm (kind of like when someone sends over a drink, only it's a BACON CUPCAKE!). Social experiment victory! We ended up chatting with the guys for quite some time and yes, I got a phone number out of it (the phone number of a guy who is not quite what I'm looking for and who is also moving to Manhattan next week, but a phone number nonetheless. Say it with me, Internets, social experiment victory!).

Don't be surprised if the Cupcake Twins are out again in the New Year. We've learned some important lessons that we need to put back into practice. Note to self: use bacon, don't give all your cupcakes to the waitstaff, focus on what you really want, sit at the bar, send cupcakes over--it's simultaneously mysterious, intriguing, domestic, and hilarious. And most importantly, regardless the executive decisions you make, always opt for bold and fantastic!


A social experiment with the Cupcake Twins--Part I

Sometimes an idea is hatched under the influence that might be potentially crazy and ridiculous, but because you are under the influence you know that it is undoubtedly the best idea you've had in your life. Ever.

This is how the Cupcake Twins were born.

A few weeks ago, a fellow single friend and I were out on the town, looking and feeling good, yet attracting nothing but married men. Perplexed, we put our big brains together figure out how we could change our luck and actually get single fellows to come our way. I won't take you through our entire thought process (as there was a lot of wandering around until we finally landed on the final product), but suffice it to say we boiled it down to the simple mind of a single man. Unsure on why we weren't attracting Mr. [Unmarried] Right to us, we decided we should reach into our bag of tricks and use an irresistible secret weapon: cupcakes.

That's right. Cupcakes. Our plan was a simple one, bake a batch of cupcakes and visit a couple of target-rich environments on a Friday night and use them to draw attention and open the door for opportunity. Brilliant! We agreed that we would only give the cupcakes out to those who were truly cupcake-worthy (first criterion: must not be married). Even more brilliant! We set dates for cupcake making and D (delivery) Day, and our plan was in motion.

Earlier in the week, I was sharing the plan with a group of friends (guys, gals, singles, couples) and right away one of the guys turned to me and said, "I'm not sure that will work. Girls like cupcakes. Guys like bacon. If you walked into a bar with a plate of bacon, you cannot lose."

I looked at him incredulously, as if I'm going to walk into a bar with a plate of bacon?! You know, because walking in with a platter of cupcakes is just so much more logical. But I did give his comment some thought because people do love bacon and you usually can't lose (unless those people happen to be vegetarians or vegans, and if they are, well then they probably aren't people that I would spend forever with because mmm-mmm, I love meat). My friend and I considered this new viewpoint and made executive decision number one: Bacon Cupcakes!

With a modified plan I hit the store to get supplies for cupcake making day and made executive decisions two, three, and four: instead of making mini-cupcakes we'd make normal-size ones becasue the store didn't have mini-cupcake tins, we would not be making cupcakes from scratch but would be making the box variety, and likewise, we would not be making a chocolate ganache when we could just use a ready-to-spread tub of frosting. Silly us had thought that we would wow people with our baking abilities and make homemade treats, then we realized nobody is really going to notice the difference and why put that much energy into strangers and a social experiment that could backfire. Plus I didn't want to do all those dishes. And we opened the box and combined the ingredients at home, therefore the cupcakes would be undeniably home-made.

So we busted out some "rich butter flavor" yellow cupcakes and added an unspecified amount of artificial maple flavoring (why splurge on pure maple extract, right?), frosted them with "rich chocolate" frosting and sprinkled them with bits of bacon. Admittedly the bacon was a splurge. In case you didn't know this, happy free-range pigs make for ridiculously yummy bacon, and if you have ridiculously yummy bacon on a cupake, you're probably more willing to overlook the fact that the cake has both artificial butter and maple flavoring and is so overloaded with sugar and preservatives because mmm-mmm, you love meat!

You're probably curious about how this social experiment turned out... and that will be Part II of this story. But just in case you were curious about how my house smells, it's smelled like pancakes, Log Cabin syrup, and bacon for two solid days now.


Little voices

Have you ever wondered how an LMNT post comes to be? Well, Internets, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much—hold it! That’s something completely different.

I’m not sure how other bloggers think about their posts, as I’m sure we all employ very different techniques. Some might outline their thoughts, making sure they have a clear introduction with a clear thesis, supporting points, and conclusion. Some probably even proofread and revise what they’ve written. Well, not this blogger. Thesis? Hmmm, rarely. Proofread? Ha! Well, sometimes I do go back and reread what I’ve spewed all over the page, but that’s mostly me validating that I am indeed as hilarious as I thought I was when I wrote those words the first time.

I’m probably not the best person to dole out any sort of advice, but I don't think there's any harm in letting you go into my brain a little bit here, because I think the post development--from thought to publication--is interesting. And by interesting, I mean potentially weird.

I seem to remember a conversation with TIG in high school about how when she was thinking, she would picture the words being typed out in her mind (is that true, or am I making that up?). For me, I actually hear myself saying everything I think, as in I’m completely narrating my own life--every single thought--and when the occasion calls for it (read: particularly dramatic situations) I add a musical soundtrack underneath my narration.

Take right now for instance, as I’m thinking about what I'm typing, I’m reading it out loud in my head. This word, and that one, and yes, even this one. Even the words that I love to say out loud are fun to say in my head. The French ones too. Faire de l’alpinisme. Okay, this is getting to be too much; the echo in here makes my head ache.

So, for me, a post doesn’t start with an outline, but essentially starts with a conversation with myself. If something funny or random happens to me, I immediately talk about it in my head to myself and it becomes the backbone of my post. So all those half-finished posts I have laying around are really just unfinished conversations with myself that are swimming around in my brain. The finished project is really just me coming around after leaving myself hanging for hours, days, or even months.

Is this unique? Maybe everyone talks to themselves incessantly in their head? Do you? Or how about when you read something, do you hear yourself reading it aloud then too? I'm not that weird, or am I? Inquiring minds (and head voices) want to know.


Funk my life

Lo, a month has passed since last I've posted, and the Internets hath had nary a peep from LMNT. Sad face emoticon.

I actually have a handful of half-started, half-conceptualized posts that I just never had the real oomph to finish. You see, Internets, I'm in one of my funks; one of those funks that inevitably follows a period of uber-activity overload. Where I go from being extremely regimented and scheduled, having some place to be, something to do, or someone depending upon me almost every hour of the day to nada. Nothing. Nowhere to be, nothing to do, nobody depending upon squat. These funks are so predictable, you can set your watch to them.

When I'm in that crazy state of hustle and bustle and frenetic energy, that's when I actually feel like I function the best. From my perspective, I know what I'm doing, I have purpose, and things seem to have more vitality. What I don't really know is how people experience me during those periods. I mean, I think I'm giving them my best, I'm in the zone, and they certainly couldn't ask for more. I hesitate to open myself up for feedback on that, because I'm not sure I can imagine that happy little self-perception shattering. But I wonder what it's like on the outside.

What's becoming ever clear to me in this particular funk is that I'm not sure I know how to operate at a pace that is less than frenetic. I thrive off of that pace and I think it's something that was ingrained into me back in high school. When I'm in this fallow period, I feel absolutely demoralized. From my perspective I feel lethargic, listless, lacking in purpose, and everything is shrouded in a very dull haze. In the same light, I wonder how people experience me in this stage. My self-criticalness is at heightened levels in times like these, so it's absolutely unfathomable for me to think anyone really thinks they are getting the best LMNT they could.

I know there has to be a balance, what I don't know is how to strike that. I'm very skilled at swinging the pendulum from one side to the other, it's just that finding the place in between that's really hard. My knee absolutely jerks when I'm in a fallow funk and then I suddenly find myself involved in activities I don't really care about, going places I don't really want to go, or dating people I really don't want to date.

I can tell you that I'm trying my darnedest to be intentional about this funk, and not collect things/activities/hobbies/boyfriends in a shallow way; I'm trying to find that balance. And it's hard. And it's so much easier to swing to either side--the pull that pendulum is strong I tell you. Note to self: resistance is not futile! And when I find that balance--because I have faith I will--I'll be even more curious to know how others are experiencing me and most importantly how I'm experiencing myself.