December 2009 Archives

Things I Love: Music Edition

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I was recently going through a bunch of my older cds and there is a lot of great music that I haven't listened to in quite a while but still really love.  I am not sure how popular these will be in the thirty-something crowd, since most people I know that are around my age have never heard of thes bands.  I am very curious for your feedback though, should you have any.  I am also very curious as to what you are listening to these days.

* the links to the albums and dvds in this post are amazon affiliate links


1.  Andrew McMahon.

Instead of saving the best for last I am going to jump in head first.  Andrew McMahon is one of my absolute favorite artists.  He has been ever since I was introduced to him back in 2003 or 2004.  He is the front-man for two bands called Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin.  I own all of his albums as well as his 2 dvds.  I don't know what it is, but this kid really speaks to me.  Although it is hard to choose, I think my favorite song is one called Konstantine.  The video clip below is a video of him and his band Something Corporate playing the song live.  I really think you should view it.  I will warn you that it is long, almost 9 minutes long, but it is totally worth it.


Something Corporate Albums:

Leaving Through the Window  


Jack's Mannequin Albums:

Everything in Transit  

The Glass Passenger


Something Corporate - Live at the Ventura Theater

Dear Jack -- A documentary about Andrew's fight with Leukemia.  I just received this for Christmas and have already watched it twice.


2.  Bright Eyes.

This is another band I was introduced to right around the same time as Something Corporate.

Here is a video of one of my favorite Bright Eyes songs, Bowl of Oranges.

The three Bright Eyes albums I own:

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Digital Ash in a Digital Urn


3.  Plain White T's.

Check out their myspace page to listen to a sampling of their songs.

Click the following link to see the video for my favorite song by them (youtube wouldn't let me embed): Hey there Delilah

The albums that I own:



4.  The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie. 

I lump these two together because the lead singer for both is the same, Ben Gibbard.

My favorite Postal Service song is "Such Great Heights" from the album Give Up.  A favorite Death Cab song is "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" from the ablum Plans.

The Postal Service MySpace page.

Death Cab for Cutie MySpace page.

The albums I own:




So if you actually had the time and desire to listen to any of the above, what did you think?  What are some of your favorite songs/artists/albums that you're listening to right now?



More things I love:

Food Edition, Letter 'M' Edition, Winter Edition


To you, From me, With love

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I am about to head off to spend the next few days with my family.  Before I go, I'd like to wish you a very merry christmas.


Happy Holidays,




Tasty Holiday Treats: Church Windows

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This past Sunday afternoon I was still going strong on the baking front.  I made a "cookie" that was very appropriately named for making on a Sunday.  Church Windows!  I had never heard of them until they were suggested by my friend Jess.  They are a simple mixing of melted chocolate and marshmallows. 



Church Windows Recipe



1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1 12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1 10.5 oz. package of mini colored marshmallows

Mix chocolate and butter in a double boiler until melted.

Take off heat and allow to cool for approximately five minutes. It should be cool before adding marshmallows so they don't melt. 

Add marshmallows and mix.

When thoroughly mixed, pour onto aluminum foil and form into cylinder.

Put the cylinder in the refrigerator and then slice into cookies.

Helpful Hint: For the cylinder, take an empty paper towel roll, cut in length-wise and put aluminum foil on the inside, then add the chocolate/marshmallow mix. This should help make a more symmetric cookie.



The list of ingredients can't get much simpler.



Melt in double boiler or make-shift one like mine if you don't own one.



Looks kinda gross when melted and mixed with marshmallows.



All rolled up.  I only had one paper towel roll so had to make do with just foil for the second roll.



They do end up kind of pretty, even if my poor photography skills don't show it.



These were by far the simplest of all the treats I made this weekend.  They were also probably my least favorite, but only because I am not a huge fan of marshmallows.  I brought a dozen or so into work and set them out by the coffee machine and water cooler, and sent an email to the engineering department at my company.  I did this around 10:00 AM.  At around 10:30 AM I was over by the counter I had set the plate of cookies down on and there was one left.  By 11 they were gone. I got a lot of emails and visits to my desk with people telling me how good they were.  So even though they weren't my favorite, they were certainly a hit at the office.


This is part 3 of a three part series on Tasty Holiday Treats. 

Read part 1:  Peanut Butter and Chocolate Buckeyes

Read part 2:  Traditional Sugar Cookies

On Saturday afternoon I tackled Traditional Sugar Cookies.  I used a recipe given to me by my mom.  The recipe below is exactly as she sent it to me, including all of her comments. 

One lesson learned during this baking experience?  Erin is incapable of nicely decorating sugar cookies using icing.  Seriously, it was pretty pathetic.  Luckily I decided to do the majority of the cookies using red and green sprinkles.

I made mine with only 4 different cookie cutters: angel, holly leaf, snowman, and a bell.  I saw this 4-pack at the grocery store and they were just too cute to resist.  They are actually what prompted this little baking frenzy.

I made a double batch and I think it made a little more than 5 dozen cookies, although I didn't count.



Christmas Sugar Cookies

(I usually make a double recipe so I'll put the regular amount in front of the ingredient and then the double amount.  Good Luck!)


3/4 (1 1/2) cup shortening (I use butter)

1 (2) cup sugar

2 (4) eggs

1 (2) teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 (5) cups all-purpose flour

1 (2) teaspoon baking powder

1 (2) teaspoon salt



Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla. (I usually take the butter out ahead so that it is kind of soft.) Blend in mixture of flour, baking powder and salt a little at a time. Cover; chill at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board (like pie crust). Cut into desired shapes. Decorate with colored sugar. Bake on ungreased baking sheet 6-8 minutes or until very light brown. They cook a little more when you take them out so don't over do. It's good to have two baking sheets so you can keep them going. Cool on rack and enjoy!







This is part 2 of a three part series on Tasty Holiday Treats. 

Read part 1:  Peanut Butter and Chocolate Buckeyes

Read part 3:  Chocolate and Marshmallow Church Windows

Tasty Holiday Treats: Buckeyes

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I decided a week or so ago that I wanted to do a bunch of holiday baking this year.  I have never done this in the past, but somehow got it in my head that this year I was going to do it.  Even despite the old crappy oven.  So I reached out to people for their favorite recipes and chose three to do this weekend. 

So this is the first of series of three posts, one for each of the tasty treats I decided to make.

First up is something suggested by an old friend of mine.  It has chocolate and peanut butter so I knew I had to make this one.  I searched up some recipes and found a great one over at The Way the Cookie Crumbles and adapted it ever so slightly.  It seemed easy enough for a novice like myself to make so on Friday afternoon, on a lovely vacation day from work, I headed to the store to get everything I needed and got started.



Buckeye Recipe



1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1 jar of creamy peanut butter (approximately 18 oz.)

1 tablespoon of vanialla extract

3 cups of powdered sugar

16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate



1.  In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-low speed until creamy. Add peanut butter and continue mixing until fully blended. Blend in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar. Mix on medium-low speed until fully blended. It should have the texture of very thick cookie dough.

2.  Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Push a toothpick into each ball. Put the peanut butter balls in the freezer and chill until hard, at least 4 hours.

3.  Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Using the toothpick as a handle, dip each peanut butter ball in chocolate, leaving a section of peanut butter uncoated. Place chocolate covered balls on parchment or wax paper and remove the toothpick. Once the peanut butter has softened, you can use a finger to smooth over the hole from the toothpick. 





For the semi-sweet chocolate I ended up buying a 24 oz. bag of Nestles morsels and used 2/3 of the bag. 

I ended up with extra chocolate but I really think it was the perfect amount because right at the very end it was starting to get difficult to dip and cover the balls.

This recipe should make between 4 and 5 dozen buckeyes, depending on the size.  I made just over 4 dozen.

I split them up onto two different baking sheets due to size contraints but this ended up working out really well.  I left the second baking sheet in the freezer until I was done coating the second. This worked out well because if they sit out to long the balls will start to soften which makes the dipping difficult/impossible.  I also recommend enlisting a friend to help make it go a little faster.  But maybe I was just being too picky and going rather slowly. :)

So far my batch has been taste-tested by three different people (one being me, ha) and they all gave two thumbs up.

According to the original site I got the recipe from, Buckeyes can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for at least a week.



This is part 1 of a three part series on Tasty Holiday Treats. 

Read part 2:  Traditional Sugar Cookies

Read part 3:  Chocolate and Marshmallow Church Windows

This Week Was a Very Good Week

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First, it was only a three day work week.  I took Monday and Friday off.  Instead of taking a large chunk of time off at the end of December I opted to spread out my vacation days taking long weekends every week. 

Second, I received a humongous, outrageous, ginormous, astronomical bonus at work on Thursday.  Ok, I exaggerated, it wasn't that large.  But it was a big holiday bonus that I was very happy with.

Third, when I stepped onto the scale Thursday morning I weighed one hundred and twenty six pounds.  That is a total of 15 (FIFTEEN!) pounds lost since the end of October.  Only 6 more pounds to go.

Fourth, almost all of my Christmas shopping was completed so I can stop stressing so much.  A few of the gifts have even been wrapped.  Only one more gift left to get.  A little something for my boyfriend's parents.  What do you get for the parents of your significant other anyway?  Last year I got them a really pretty vase that my boyfriend says his mom uses regularly, but I haven't come up with any great ideas for this year yet.

Fifth, christmas cookies!  Between today and tomorrrow I plan to make three different kinds of tasty Christmas treats -- Buckeyes, Church Windows, and traditional Sugar Cookies.  Some of them will be eaten by me (I have to taste test them before I can let anyone else eat them, right?), but most will be enjoyed by others.  At least I hope they come out well enough to be enjoyed.

 Christmas Sugar Cookies.jpg

photo by Dano

My mother was never much of a baker.  And apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree because I am not much of one either.  My mom had one Christmas cookie recipe for sugar cookies that we made every year.  By "we" I mostly mean my oldest and youngest sisters.  My mom didn't really want to do it, and my sisters never really wanted my help. 

So I am reaching out to you for help.  Please share your favorite christmas cookie recipes!  I'd love to make some cookies for people at the office and my boyfriend's family, but I don't really have any great recipes.  I did have some friends on facebook suggest Church Windows and Buckeyes yesterday (which I will probably attempt this weekend), but I wanted to see what other suggestions you guys had.  A sugar cookie recipe would be fantastic, but all types of holiday cookies would be more than welcome.  Also, pretty much the simpler the better because, as I said, I'm not much of a baker.  We need to start slow  :)

So what is your favorite Christmas cookie recipe?  Is there a story behind it?

More Gift Ideas For Thirty-Somethings

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A week or so ago I made a post with some ideas for christmas gifts for thirty-somethings.  There seemed to be quite a few people searching for gifts for that demographic so I thought I'd do another round, for anyone who still isn't done with their shopping yet (like me).  Happy shopping!

Disclaimer:  All links besides the 7 piece server and the Men's North Face jacket are affiliate links through




B. Smith 7 Piece Multi Server ($39.99)

The one pictured here is from Bed Bath and Beyond.  I don't have anything like this and would really love to have one for entertaining.  I put this on my Christmas list this year.


Rival RC61 3-Cup Rice Cooker, Red ($22.89)

My boyfriend and I bought this earlier this year at the urging of my boyfriend's sister.  We both absolutely love it.  The rice comes out so much better than boiling it in a pot and no rice ends up stuck to the bottom. The rice tastes better and the cleanup is easier.  It also comes with a steamer so you can steam vegetables at the same time which is very handy.  It says 3-cup but that's dry, it actually makes 6 cups when cooked.


Kodak Easyshare P730 7-Inch Digital Frame ($69.00)

I thought a digital photo frame would be perfect for my friend who is a mom of two very young girls.  She has a couple of her favorite pictures displayed on her desk but she has a TON more on her computer that I'm sure she'd love to display as well.  When I found this one I was looking for something between $50 and $75.  I also wanted something with 15:9 aspect ratio to match the size of most photos. View the most popular Digital Photo Frames on amazon for other options.


Mele Jewelry Box, Belinda Cherry Jewelry Box ($64.00)

I have quite a bit of jewelry; necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings.  And most of the time whatever I am not wearing sits on top of my dresser in a bit of a mess.  I would love to have a jewelry box like this one so that I have a neat place to store it and have a place to hang my necklaces.  This appears to be a really good deal right now at 57% off the orginal price from Home Storage Warehouse.



North Face Jacket.jpg

North Face Mens' Denali Fleece (165.00)

These jackets can be a little expensive, but I know several people who have them and love them.  They seem to be really well made.  I really don't think you can go wrong with this, unless the person you are buying for already has one.


This one seems to be one of the best in its price range ($40 on amazon).  There are lots of great reviews.  My favorite feature is the vacuum so that all the little trimmed hairs aren't left all over the place.  There are also 9 different length settings which is really nice.  Also has self-sharpening blades and comes with a travel pouch which is very handy.


Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Nighthawk Stainless Steel Watch ($237.00)

A couple of Christmases ago my boyfriend's parents bought him a Citizen Eco-Drive watch.  It is still going strong and he still loves it.  The best part is not having to worry about the battery dying.  There are lots of other styles and price ranges of mens citizen watches to choose from.



TomTom GO 630 4.3-Inch Bluetooth Portable GPS Navigator ($168.00)

This is almost the exact same model that my boyfriend's parents have (they have the 720) and are very happy with.  I just bought this one for my parents and can't wait to give it to them!


adidas Elite Team Medium Duffel ($34.94)

This is another one from my wish list this year.  We have taken a lot of long weekend trips the last several months and I kept wishing I had a bag just like this one.  Everything I have is either too big or too small.  This one is 28 inches long, and a little over a foot high which I think would make the perfect size.


Electronic Catch Phrase ($15.99)

I don't remember exactly how I was introduced to this game years ago, or if I received it as a gift or if I purchased it myself.  I have given it as a gift to multiple people since, and it is definitely one of my favorites (along with scattegories) to play as a family or with friends. 

Fun Times

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Today was a bit of a crap-tastic day, but all is well that ends well. 

First, I had to go to the dentist and have a cavity filled.  It had been many years since I've had a cavity and I really, really wasn't very happy.  I know a lot of people that hate the dentist, and many who avoid them altogether, but I am not one of them.  I honestly don't mind going to my twice-annual cleaning.  Really, my least favorite part is the small talk I have to make with the hygienist.  I had one of those normal cleaning appointments on Monday, they took some x-rays, discovered the cavity, and the next thing I knew I was scheduled to be back on Thursday at 12:30p.  So there was that fun-ness (which actually wasn't that bad, even painless, despite all my whining and pouting and anxiety beforehand). 

Then, there was the wonderful commute home.  I live 7 miles from work.  It normally takes precisely 10 minutes from parking lot to driveway.  Tonight, it took me nearly an hour.  The roads were pretty terrible due to due a big snow storm off of Lake Erie.  In general I don't really like driving that much.  Combine driving and snow and I panic.  If there is a flake in the air and it is optional for me to drive anywhere then forgetaboutit.  I had white knuckles the entire time and almost just stopped in the middle of the road because I could't take it anymore after nearly rear-ending my boyfriend in front me while listening to my anti-lock breaks making that terrible grinding sound.

I am able to put that all behind me though.  Because I don't have to work tomorrow.  Or the day after that.  Or that day after that.  Or the day after that!  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, since I've no place to go.  :) 


Contentment and Calmness

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The night is cold, but I am sitting on my couch in my warm and comfortable home.  I am staring at the 7.5 foot fake Christmas tree that stands in front of the living room bay window.  The lights reflect brilliantly on the glass of the 6 large windows.  In the distance I can see the outdoor light display at the house across the street.  Colored lights.  Clear lights.  Three reindeer with lights, one of which keeps moving his head back and forth.  Back and forth.  The only things missing are my partner and a cup of hot chocolate.  The evening news is on the television in the background but I'm not really listening.  I am instead hearing my own voice, in my head. 

"I wish life could always be so calm, and I could always be this content."

All too often I let one little thing that didn't go perfectly according to plan get the better of me.  My mood can sour in an instant.  I try to talk myself out of it using reason and logic but it's usually not that easy.  I get too caught up in the moment and can't take a step back to view the big picture.  I wish I could bottle up this contentment and calmness and whenever one of life's bumps or curves in the road appears, I could take a sip and all would be well again.  Just like that.  'Cause really, my life is good, and there's no need to let the small and insignificant things overshadow all the large and important things. 


Organizing Your Bedroom

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I am one of those people that has entirely too many clothes.  One thing I compromised on when buying my house was having a huge walk-in closet in my bedroom.  I really, really wanted a large walk-in closet.  Since I have a lot of clothes, and not a lot of closet space, my bedroom is a little bit of a mess.  My closet is full (it is meant for 2 people and holds only my clothing) and I have started taking over the closet in the guest bedroom.

So here is a picture of one half of my closet:

bedroom organization 011.JPG


As you can see, it is exploding, just a little bit.  And I have other clothes strewn about my room because they just don't fit.  I pretty much can't cram things any tighter to fit more in.  I saw a commercial for these platinum wonder hangers and decided they might significantly help, or even solve, my exploding closet problem.  So yesterday we (my boyfriend and I) did some shopping and made a stop at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I didn't get the platinum ones but ended up buying a cheaper plastic version instead.


First, a little background for anyone who is not yet familiar with the wonder hangers...


1.  When I first opened the package this is what the pieces inside looked like:

bedroom organization 012.JPG


2.  You put the hooks through the two holes at each end and put it up in the closet by placing the two hooks on the bar in the closet and hang the clothes:

  003 closet organizer.JPG

3.  Pull one hook off and let it fall so that it is only being held up by one hook.  El Fin.

005 closet organizer.JPG


This afternoon I spent some time putting them together and re-organzing the closet.  After removing some things, and putting 40 shirts on the 8 sets, the closet does feel a bit improved and more organized.   

bedroom organization 022.JPG

If I squish, you can see there is a fair amount of new-found space:

002 closet organizer.JPG 

What I like: 

  • You can organize things in groups:  tank tops in one set, dressy blouses in another set, etc.

  • It seems to work with all different types of hangers
  • Very easy to put together and use


What I don't like: 

  • It did not triple the space in my closet as advertised.
  • It's a little bit bulky.  Maybe the platinum one would be better?


Overall verdict?  Pretty good.  I am content enough that I'm not going to return them, but they weren't quite as spectacular as I was hoping.


The other product that I bought to help organize my bedroom was a Diamond Drawer Organizer.  My underwear drawer and sock drawer were about as bad as the closet.  I didn't get a before picture, but here is the sock drawer after putting in the organizer. 

bedroom organization 007.JPG

I actually really like this thing.  Not all my socks are in there (many are sitting in the laundry basket waiting to be washed) but this thing neatly holds 32 pair of socks or underwear or whatever you want.  I am definitely going to buy another one of these for the underwear drawer.

The total price for both purchases came to $12.94 so I think it was a pretty good deal.  I used a $5 off coupon and a 20% off coupon that seem to show up in my mailbox almost daily.


How organized or disorganized is your master bedroom?  What type of products do you use to help organize your bedroom?


Related articles:

Tips for Decluttering Your Home, and Keeping it That Way

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

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51LA-9333zL__AA260_.jpgJust after Thanksgiving (as in the very next day) I noticed the neighbors starting to put up their trees and outdoor Christmas lights.  I started thinking, hey, those look kinda nice.  I kinda wish I had some.  Day by day and little by little that 'kinda want' turned into a 'must have'.  I made up my mind yesterday and tonight after work I persuaded my boyfriend to stop at Target to look at lights.  We were successful in our question and ended up getting net lights.  I had no idea they even made these things but my boyfriend found them and they seemed like they'd make outdoor decorating much easier so I was all for it. 

(photo from


I have some bushes in the front I want to throw the lights over.  In my head it will take about 5 minutes to complete.  It will be easy and the lights will look perfect.  Ha, right?  I was so excited and so convinced that it was going to take no time at all I wanted to do it tonight as soon as we got back from the store.  My boyfriend was having none of it...

erin: Can we put up the lights tonight?

erin's boyfriend: No.  We'll do it on Saturday.

erin:  But why?  It's much warmer tonight than it's supposed to be on the weekend.

erin's boyfriend: It's dark out.  We're not putting them up in the dark!

erin:  I think it will be fine.  There are lights on the outside of the house.

erin's boyfriend: What lights?

erin:  The ones over the garage.

erin's boyfriend: Oh, you mean the ones that are nowhere near the bushes?

erin:  hrmph.

So yeah, I was very disappointed, but we did not get the lights up tonight.  He complains that I don't have enough holiday spirit and now when I want to be all festive and embrace the season he is the one with the bah humbug attitude!  :)


What sort of decorating do you do for the holidays?

Gifts for Thirty-Somethings

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I wanted to put together a short list of items/recommendations for Christmas gifts for thirty-something sisters, brothers, or significant others.  If you have any other ideas/suggestions of things you have given or recieved that were huge hits, please append the list in the comments  :) 



Disclaimer:  All but the first two links are amazon affiliate links.

1. Women's Montana Glove:  I want these for when I have to go out in the brutal cold and brush of the car or shovel the driveway.

2. Power Stretch® Glove:  My sister bought me these for my birthday and I really love them for day-to-day cold-weather wear.

3. Vera Bradley Libby (New Prints):  My 3 sisters, my mother, and I all love these purses.

4. Sweet Dreams Contoured Sleep Mask with Earplugs and Travel Pouch - Black:  I just bought this for my sister.  Sleep masks are awesome and this one got a lot of good reviews on amazon.  This would go along well with the next item... 

5. Marpac SleepMate 980A Electro-Mechanical Sound Conditioner:  I also bought this for the same sister just mentioned above.  She currently uses a fan or humidifier or some other thing that makes loud noise to help her sleep.   

6. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:  I read two books by Betty Smith this year and loved both of them.  The first one, and probably my favorite, was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  The other was called Joy in the Morning and I highly recommend both.  

7. Wii Sports Resort:  My boyfriend and I bought this a month or so ago and have played it quite a bit.  You can play alone, with one other person, or with a group of people. It contains I love the fencing (sword play) and the archery  :) 

8. Victorinox Swiss Army Sportsman II Knife with AA LED Flashlight:  I went out on a limb a little bit and just bought this for my boyfriend.  It seemed practical and useful and he's mentioned wanting one in the past, but probably not something he'd buy for himself.    

9. Blade mCX S300 RTF:  I wanted to surprise my boyfriend with something fun this Christmas and this is what I came up with.  I talked with a friend who loves these and has 3 of them, and this is one of the ones he recommended. 



(For more gift suggestions see my follow-up post: more gift ideas for thirty-somethings or my gift ideas for 2010 post)

About This Blog

Stories, advice, and random thoughts from a thirty-something female.

Many people in their thirties are dealing with common issues and concerns. Some of these include buying a home, establishing a career, starting a family, and dealing with aging parents. I will blog about all these things as well as other every day stuff as I make my way through this third decade of life.

You can read more about the author behind thirty-something blog on the About Me page.





About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

January 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.