Friday, December 26, 2008

I am Lauren, stocking enthusiast

For some reason, this Christmas, every time I have either said or heard something about stockings (the Christmas kind, of course) images of translucent nude colored stockings seen only on the legs of little old ladies have come to mind. This is a new thing for me, and it has been slightly troubling. I have always been one to express my enthusiasm for Christmas stockings, so this year, every time I gush "Oh I just LOVE stockings!" I can't help but feel the necessity to clarify- Christmas stockings or stocking stuffers. Maybe it is just that I'm getting older and am more aware of the things I say, or maybe it has something to do with my awareness of the origins of Christmas stockings... but all of this is irrelevant to the fact that I just LOVE stockings! (this is just me clarifying my intended use of the word "stocking", and justifying/explaining this clarification...)

Anyway... I will say it again... I just LOVE stockings!! I don't know how stockings are stuffed in other households, but at my house, they are ALWAYS something to look forward to. Slowly unpacking a stocking, full of many miniature goodies, is, in my opinion, the best way to kick off a merry Christmas morning. One of the things that makes stockings so special in my house is that the majority of the stocking stuffers are wrapped, adding to the suspense and excitement.

Our stockings are stuffed with more than just pez dispensers and candy canes (though, throughout the years, these items have often been included). Anything small enough to fit into the stocking ought to be stuffed. Common stocking stuffers have included make-up, nail polish, tweezers, fragrances, socks, panties, pens, gift cards, cash, mints, gum, chocolate, and the like. Thrilling, is it not?

How are stockings stuffed in your home? Does Santa know you as well as he seems to know me? For some reason he always know juuuuust what to give me.

It occurred to me yesterday that stockings are simply too wonderful to happen only once a year. When I have kids, I am going to start a birthday stocking tradition! Perhaps, since birthday stockings aren't (yet) mass marketed as are Christmas stockings, we will have to use the old lady version instead.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am Lauren, coffee enthusiast

Born of two avid coffee drinkers, and raised during the height of the coffee culture craze, I was predisposed to love coffee. My enthusiasm was sparked at a very early age. Every morning while my mom enjoyed her daily brew, I would snuggle close and beg for a coffee kiss. Soon the innocent lip to lip coffee tastings were not sufficient. Sips turned into gulps, and before long she was fixing me my very own cup of the sweet creamy concoction.

Ever since my dad discovered our shared love of coffee, he has taken it upon himself to foster and fuel my enthusiasm with countless coffee-shop outings. He made sure, early on, that I knew the difference between a latte, a cappuccino, and an americano. Like most coffee-shop goers, we sip our lattes and discuss current issues and such, but likely at some point our conversation will shift to the topic of coffee. My father and I discuss coffee as many discuss philosophy or religion. To us, it is not just a drink, but an artful delicacy to be carefully contemplated and savored.

I am willing to admit it... This attitude towards coffee has somewhere along the way turned me into a slight coffee snob. Whether it was boycotting a coffee-shop for not having whole milk (the only TRUE way to make a latte), or shelling out a lofty chunk of my savings in order to purchase THE ultimate espresso machine (pictured above), at some point during the past year I have been affirmed that my particularity about coffee is not the norm.

Not only am I a coffee snob, but I am also a coffee addict. If I do not have my 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning, at about 3 PM I get the most insane headache. Actually,these afternoon headaches are pretty typical. I usually take them to mean it is time for my afternoon latte, but on the days I have missed my morning cup(s), they are particularly insane. Yes, I am fully aware that coffee is a drug. I am certainly not one to condone drug abuse, which is why I prefer to attribute my frequent coffee consumption to my intense enthusiasm for the beverage.

Apparently, this love for coffee is nothing new. In the 1730s, Johann Sebastian Bach composed what is known today as the Coffee Cantata. It tells a story of a girl who refuses to marry unless she can find a man who will tolerate her coffee enthusiasm. I feel that I can truly identify with this young woman and what she has to say. She pretty much says it all...

"If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat."