27 December 2009

What I Got for Christmas...

I had a really, really great Christmas this year (besides that darn car accident thing).

On December 23rd, I worked all day and went to the Shrine with my parents, sister, and Pete. Going to the Shrine is a long-time tradition with my family. On Christmas Eve, the four of us would go to the Shrine, drive through the Nativity story, and then come home and order pizza and eat fried chicken. Then we would watch a movie and act out the Nativity story before my parents ushered Emme and I to sleep for Santa to come.

We would wake up the next morning, open presents, eat breakfast, and then get on the road to head up to Chicago, which is where my whole family lives.

However, since this was my first Christmas away from home, we had to move things around a bit. We decided to just shift everything back a day, so we went to the Shrine on the 23rd. We all took turns reading the Nativity story and then drove back to St. Louis, where we watched Christmas Vacation (a Hoffman favorite) and ate fried chicken. We all went to bed around midnight-ish and THEN SANTA CAME!

Santa was good to me this year. I got some sweet stuff:

(one month unlimited yoga card for Marbles Yoga)

So. That was a good time! Then, after opening presents at my house with the parents and sister and Pete, we had scrambled eggs and croissants and then headed down to Cairo.

Then the car thing happened but I already told you about that.

We got to Cairo around 4:30, and hung around for a bit before we headed off to church in Mounds City at 5:30 with Steve, Mary, and Mary Helen. Those three had been cooking and wrapping presents all day so when we got home, we ate potato soup and sausage balls (soooooooo good) and then eventually opened presents. It kills me how generous Pete's family is - they welcomed me into the family immediately, after we had started dating, and this year and last year I was in the family Christmas draw, and...it's just so nice. To be welcomed.

So, Mary Helen was just wonderful and picked out some of the best gifts for me this year:

"The Secret" print

She also got me this really pretty Audrey Hepburn journal (which is perfect, because I'm about to run out of room with my current journal) and a pretty pink necklace that says "Peace Love & Cupcakes). I would take pictures but I don't have my new camera up-and-running yet.

Steve and Mary bought me some Moleskine notebooks - which is perfect, because I'm almost through my current one of those, too. And they're pink. Good call!

The next morning, we went over to Grandma Ann's house - Pete's grandma, Jeffie's mom. It was nice because she lives only a few blocks away. Up in Chicago, when we go from family to family, we have to drive usually an hour between each house. So the commute was nice and easy.

There were SO MANY PEOPLE there. And I actually knew most of their names! It was pretty impressive. So it was here that we did one of the name draws and Pete's cousin (?) Nikki gave me a Visa giftcard, which was great. And of course I already spent it, on this:

So besides my giftcard, Grandma Ann got me two books that I've had my eye on for some time:

We left Grandma Ann's pretty quickly - after getting everyone outside to take a huge family picture on Grandma Ann's rickety old porch - so that Mary Helen could head back to her house because she was making dinner (which is really lunch) for her whole side of the family. So we rushed back over there, continued to bake and cook and clean and get ready for everyone else to show up, and then they came and we ate and opened presents.

Bridgett, Mike, and their adorable kids came down from St. Louis too, and got there right in time for dinner. They gave me such a thoughtful gift. I need to take a picture to post it, but Bridgett went through the blog and found three pictures that I had taken at the City Museum and had turned it into a poster! It's so cool. I opened it and looked at the picture and I was like - huh. Those pictures look SO familiar. And Bridgett said, "well...they're taken from your blog!" And THEN it all made sense.

Christy gave me a beautiful Vera Bradley bag (my first Vera Bradley!), which is perfect, because I need a new bag.

So, anyways. I realized that this post seems really superficial, which is not a characteristic that I consider myself to be - but I won't lie. I DO get really excited about receiving presents, but I actually get more exciting about buying them. I take pride in my buying skills. I try to really, really find something that the person will LOVE beyond words. I think Pete and I did pretty good this year (I hope).

So - please don't think I'm materialistic with this post. I just get excited :)

I hope you all had a good holiday, too! What did you get?

25 December 2009

A Christmas-y Adventure

We were about 20 miles outside of St. Louis, near a town/suburb called Arnold. We had just gotten some drive-thru Taco Bell and we were both feeling pretty good - singing songs and bopping around. All of a sudden, a white pick-up truck drove past us and I saw what I thought were sparks flying. I figured that our cars had collided and sparks were coming out because of the car-on-car contact. But no. The passenger seat window (where I was sitting) had completely shattered. Pete and I both looked at each other but neither of us said anything, until the rest of the window (what was left, at least) fell into the car on my lap and at my feet.

Luckily, neither of us were hurt. So we pulled off at the next exit, which had a Lowe's, and Pete ran in to get some duct tape and plastic wrap or a tarp or something. Oh - I forgot to mention. It had been raining all day - hard - and so the entire car was wet. I tried to get out of the car and all the glass that had shattered between my legs dug into my thighs and made it REALLY hard to get up. But I was fine.

Anyway. Pete and I wrestled with some window insulation plastic wrap and the duct tape to see what we could do. The answer = nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The tape didn't stick and the plastic wrap didn't stick much, either - because when we unwrapped it from the box outside, it got wet. And then when one of us was in the car and the other was outside the car, everywhere was wet. Because it was raining and we had no window in one of the cars.

So, I ended up holding the plastic wrap up to where the window was as Pete drove home as fast as he could without getting pulled over. It was SO LOUD. Like being in a helicopter.

Also I should mention by this point, we had thrown away the taco bell because I saw some glass shards in the taco I had been eating. And when I wiped rainwater from my forehead because it was dripping through my hair, I found glass. So that was great.

We ended up driving Pete's car back to my parents house, putting it in the garage, so it could stay dry. Then we picked up my car, jumped in, and barely made it to Cairo in time for church.

So. It was a big adventure of the day. Not to mention that before the car incident happened, we opened presents first thing in the morning at my parents house with them and my sister, and then last night, we opened presents and had supper with Pete and his twin brother, Steve, and his wife, Mary...so it was a long day.

We're not entirely sure what happened. Apparently car windows are made to shatter if something hits them at high speed. It could have been something like a nail or little stone, even - that hit it in the middle and just caused it to shatter. Our guess is something flew out of the damn white pick-up truck and just smacked into it.

Ugh. But other than THAT, Christmas has been great...

21 December 2009


I've been on Paxil for the last four years, and I was on it a year before that.

For those of you that don't know, Paxil is an anti-depressant that also treats anxiety.

I went on it in 7th grade and stayed on it for a year, and then I weaned myself off. It was HORRIBLE. I remember. We spent a long time cutting my 10 mg dosage in half, my mom and I. We were on vacation up in the Northeast and I was miserable for parts of it, just because I was so bummed out.

But eventually I straightened myself out and got better. I started high school, which was difficult for the first couple of months. Soon I made friends and everything was great - until senior year.

The stress of finishing high school, starting a new life in college, FINDING a college, and knowing that my parents hated my then-boyfriend just was horrible. I went to my doctor and asked to go back on it, and he said it wasn't a bad idea.

So I did and I felt better. Then, once college started, things were great. I met Pete. I decided I wanted to be a teacher (hahaha) and I made tons of new, supportive, wonderful friends.

Then, that summer, Pete went home and I stayed in St. Louis. It was horrible. I was so incredibly attached to him that I had panic attacks and dry-heaved before we left each other after every weekend. It was disgusting in more ways than one - first of all, how could I become so attached to a person, and so quickly? And two - dry heaving? It had never happened to me before and I HATED IT. And if you've ever had a panic attack...well, that's reason enough to go on medication.

Anyway. So my doctor and I decided to up my dosage to 20 mg. And I felt better. And I've been on 20 mg ever since.

Well, until last week. I had decided some time ago that I wanted to go off of the medicine. I was sick of putting chemicals in my body, especially because I felt like I was in such a good place. I only have one semester of school left, I'm getting married - these may be stressful situations for some, but I am just so incredibly excited to embrace all of them.

My old psychiatrist had left his firm and had gone elsewhere, so I met the new man that would give me permission to wean off of the Paxil. He wasn't very nice. I had to revisit all the memories of why I went on Paxil in the first place, in 7th grade (which will maybe be a story for another time), and then basically told me that Paxil has NEVER effected pregnancy (which is a total lie) and then said that I'll probably have to stay on it forever because it's just so hard to go off.

He wasn't very nice.

But he did tell me how to go off of it - "should I choose to" - and I started the night after my last exam of the semester. For the first few days I felt fine, totally normal. I even seemed to have more energy than I usually did.

But yesterday - oh man. I felt like crap. I was exhausted all day, even after getting close to 10 hours of sleep, and I had a splitting headache from 3 PMish - until I went to sleep.

I woke up today in a weird other world, it felt like - I was super dizzy and it hurt to just open my eyes. I woke up with my phone in my hand (probably from turning off my alarm) and Twitter open (weird). And with the same splitting headache I had fallen asleep from last night.

So. Long story short - I WANT to get off of this drug. When I was in 7th grade, there weren't many options of anti-depressants available for my age. Paxil was the only one and yes, it worked. It made me feel much better on a daily basis. But it is truly very, very hard to go off of. I've read horror stories (thanks, Internet) about the hallucinations, the sluggishness, the not going to work for two months while withdrawing from this drug. Luckily, so far, all I've experienced is a horrible headache and me being tired. I'm not withdrawing from social situations (thank GOD. that was the worst part about going on and going off in the first place) and I haven't had any anxiety, really, which is good.

But it's going to be a long journey. I want to go off of this. Even though it is only 20 mg, it's already changing the way I live my life and I've only taken 10 mg five nights.

Any prayers or support you send my way are greatly appreciated. I love you all, and sorry this is a long post, but I already journaled about it and I just needed to vent some more.

18 December 2009

Oh. My. Gaw.

(Said in tune to Toots from Clone High)

Saw these pictures on rockstar diaries and just about died. Seriously. Thanks, Naomi! I am so jealous that you get to be dog people soon!

17 December 2009


Okay, loyal readers. I know I've been kind of in and out with posting lately, but I desparately need your help.

I have a wedding dress. Now - to work on the accessories.

I am currently loving two headpieces equally. One is very classy, sleek and smooth, and the other is pink and pretty and more quirky (maybe more my style? I don't know).


Of course, then we have to think about how my hair will LOOK. Since it's St. Louis in July, I'll probably have it in an updo...but since I am growing my hair out, I'm thinking about having it down, too. I mean, we'll be in air-conditioned buildings all day...

Anyway - any thoughts anyone has is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, ladies (and men...but I think Pete is the only boy who really reads this blog. Please correct me if I'm wrong?)

16 December 2009

Christmas Presents

Are you shipping gifts this holiday season? Or wrapping weirdly-shaped/breakable/I-don't-want-anyone-to-drop-it gifts?

Well, Real Simple has you covered. Click here to see the ultimate guide to wrapping and shipping gifts.

Luckily, I'm not going to have to ship anything this season, but I know I will have to in the future.

This is Where We Live.

I spotted this beautiful stop-motion animation video on little brown pen. I watched it while my mouth was hanging open. It's perfect - stop-motion AND literature? Yes please.

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

15 December 2009

Christmas Ornaments

Looking for some Christmas ornaments? Anthropologie has a ton of really pretty, lovely, ornaments that are way on sale (they don't look on sale, but they are, because it's Anthropologie) and available to order online.

I want all of them. Too bad our teeny tree is already full of ornaments. Next year?

Merry Christmas to Me: The Hangover

Okay, okay - I like to consider myself a somewhat sophisticated person (haha, I guess...but who am I kidding?).

But The Hangover? It is delightfully disturbingly disgustingly AWESOME.

Pete and I saw it over the summer and laughed SO hard. I honestly don't think I had laughed that hard since I saw Superbad. Or Knocked Up. Movies from that genre make me laugh like that.

Anyways. It comes out on DVD today, and we have it on Pete's Netflix queue...but it says "very long wait" and really, I don't want to wait.

I want to watch it right now.

So I'm going to run to Borders after work, because I have a coupon for 30% off. It's going to be sweeeeet.

And really, I think that will be the end of Merry Christmas to Me. It should be, at least...

Merry Christmas to Me: Macarons

I wrote about the fabulous Parisian Macarons here, over the summer. Pete and I basically scoured Chicago for them. And we tried them. And we (pretty much) liked them.

Also, I'm obsessed with Chronicle Books. They're a great publisher, and really, just looking at the website makes my mouth water. Not just because they have great cookbooks, but also fabulous picks from the crafting and home decor industries.

In August, I saw that someone was creating a book all about Parisian Macarons, and that it would be out in November. And I kind of forgot about it for awhile. Until two weeks ago, actually. And as I was placing a giant Christmas Amazon order, I conveniently dropped I Love Macarons into my shopping cart, too.

(I put both the Amazon link and Chronicle Books link above...it's sold out at Chronicle Books.)

PS: I'm trying the vanilla macaron/cinnamon filling recipe tonight. I'll post pictures and the turnout tomorrow!!!

Merry Christmas to Me: Wellies

Well...I didn't exactly buy these myself. Mom had been promising to buy me new boots for over a year, and I finally bit the bullet and was like, "um, mom? These boots are really warm and really comfortable and yes, they're $115 BUT they'll last forever" and blah blah blah.

So we got some! = Merry Christmas to me.

[image from here]

Bensimon Shoes

I kind of fell in love with Bensimon shoes when Joanna wrote about them a couple of months ago...and since I'm a member of Gilt Groupe and they were way on sale for only $35...I totally bought myself a pair. In purple!

Merry Christmas to me!

Today - a series of posts of things that I have bought for myself. Because I didn't ask for them for Christmas. And...I already bought all of my Christmas presents, so...I got paid yesterday and I have a ton of money in my account.

And I can't just let a ton of money sit around, now can I?

Also, if anyone wants an invitation to Gilt Groupe or Ideeli, leave a comment or shoot me an email at kaylen.hoffman@gmail.com !!! I was reluctant signing up (it doesn't cost any money...but do I really need to see all of these wonderful things on sale?), but I am SO glad I did. I've only bought a couple of things from there, but I love the service and obviously the super-low prices.

[image from here]

11 December 2009

Guest Blogging!

Check it out! Karen from I Don't Think Prada is the Answer They're Looking For... asked me to guest blog some of my favorite Christmas gift ideas! I think they're pretty cool...so, you should check them out.

10 December 2009

Utterly Engaged

It's a really, really pretty online wedding magazine. I follow them on twitter, or else I would forget about it. Which is why I forget about EVERYTHING online. Seriously - if you don't have twitter and you don't update it...well, this blog post isn't about that.

Anyways. I love this shot, from issue number six of Utterly Engaged. After we leave the church on our wedding day, I wanted to have people through those fun crafty pom-poms at us. But confetti may be a better choice...

And speaking of weddings - seven months from today!

And no, I have nothing else accomplished from last month. Sad, I know. I am, however, about to start working on save-the-dates. Using the gocco. God help me.

MY Stop-Motion Animation Vid

Hey guys. I have been MIA lately (and how often has that been said on this blog?). One of the big reasons is this video - check it out and tell me what you think!

It's my first stop-motion animation video, and it's kind of rough. But I really enjoyed making it and want to try to make another one (with more natural lighting and oh, I don't know, a tripod?).

06 December 2009

I Will.

I will never remember where I parked my car in a big parking lot.

I will always love Christmas trees.

I will never enjoy hearing Rachel Ray's voice - although she does create some good recipes.

I will always want to go to Paris. Even after I go for the first time, I'll want to go back. I just know it.

I will never forget the one time I cheated on a test in 7th grade. I haven't since.

I will always laugh at Pete when he dances all gangsta-like.

I will never win at Snood. But I've come to terms with that.

I will always go into Target and walk out with something I hadn't planned on purchasing.

I will never not put sunscreen on at the beach again (one too many sunburns...)

I will always wished I had gotten a short wedding dress.

I will never have a plain, boring, white-walled house/apartment/dwelling.

I will always strive to be creative.

I will never fall out-of-love with The Office.

I will always want something else.

04 December 2009

Striped Icebergs

Rachel posted these over at Black*Eiffel awhile ago and the pictures just took my breath away.

Rainbow Cake

How amazing is this? I want to eat it all.

via snippet & ink

03 December 2009


So I haven't yet explained my deep-seated love for Glee. A lot of people like it, I know. And chances are, you've at least heard of it, if not watched it a couple times.

I have really enjoyed a lot of the episodes - and I'm about to watch the one from last night here in a few minutes - but WOW, the episode that aired on November 25th...just blew me away. There were lots of good parts, and really, the parts when they all break spontaneously into song kind of bother me. But last week, the group sang "Imagine" with the glee club from a school for the deaf.

I. Lost. It.

Unfortunately, I don't have a video of the actual performance. It's much better to listen to and see at the same time. But I have a plan.

Please. Watch it. It's just...stupendous. It really, really is.

Once you get HERE, click on the "Hairography" episode. Then, after the initial advertisement loads and plays, click ahead to 30:20 (30 minutes and 20 seconds). And have a box of tissues handy. It really, really moved me. More than this show usually does.

Seriously. Please do. I wish I could post it here so you could just press play right now and watch, but this video doesn't exist. FOX took them all down.

Fiance Guest Blog: Favorite Moves of the Decade

Hey, Pete here.

So, I've been inspired by the decades lists over at the AV Club. The cool thing about the 2000's is that it is the first decade that I was really able to culturally immerse myself in. It includes my 4 years of high school, 4 years of college, and 2 years of "adulthood".

This decade was formative for me and I saw a lot of movies. In high school, my friends and I were transitioning from big budget blockbusters to more critically acclaimed film. College was my first real exposure to artsy cinema. Cape Girardeau did not see the release of many of my favorite movies this decade. I frequented the Landmark Theatres in St. Louis on weekends. I made a list of 70 great films I saw and it brought back a lot of great memories. Here are 25 films that stick with me and I see myself revisiting over and over again:

25. Iron Man
24. The Incredibles
23. Good Night, and Good Luck
22. Once

21. Juno

20. Pan's Labrynth
19. Fantastic Mr. Fox

18. Almost Famous

17. Pirates of the Caribbean
16. Gangs of New York
15. Star Trek

14. Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

13. Big Fish

12. Gladiator

11. Squid and the Whale
10. An Education

9. Dark Knight

8. Kill Bill

7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

6. Amelie

5. Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson is my favorite director. I think that Rushmore is his best film (made previous decade), but this one has the best overall style. Anderson's OCD attention to detail is in full force in this move, as is his perfect use of music. There is a very even balance between comedy and drama, making this a hard film to categorize. This movie is moving, hilarious, and beautiful.

4. Brick

This movie came out of nowhere for me. I went to see it on a whim and was blown away. It is a high school murder mystery film noir. The cinematography is exciting and the dialogue is incredibly clever. I can't believe this was Rian Johnson's first movie. Also, this Gordon-Levitt kid is going places, mark my words.

3. Shaun of the Dead

Best comedy of the decade! It really says something when, even after dozens of viewings, I still find new jokes every time I watch it This operates as both a romantic comedy and a zombie film, which is not an easy feat to pull off. I'm so ready for Edgar Wright to knock my socks off again with Scott Pilgrim next year.

2. Memento

True innovation is a rare thing in films these days. This movie is truly unique in its storytelling techniques. The backwards scene structure makes for a mind-screwing first viewing and rewarding repeat viewings. This movie is fun to watch and masterfully crafted. I still recommend this to anyone who has never seen it.

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

No set of films this decade ever seemed as immediately classic as this trilogy. The books seemed impossible to adapt, but Peter Jackson did it. My friends and I sat in the cold, waiting to be the first in line for these movies (we were nerds, if you couldn't guess). I saw the first film 6 times in theaters. These are some of my favorite movies of all time. They are the closest thing my generation has to Star Wars. Downside: they make most other fantasy movies seem disappointing.


UP is so good. If you haven't seen it, go buy it. I'm completely skipping "rent it", because you'll immediately love it so much that you'll just want to buy it anyways.

This was one of my favorite scenes. Enjoy!

02 December 2009

Christmas Decorations

I should really be spreading these posts out, but when I was going through my photo albums for the snow post, I saw all these fun pictures of my floor decorating 7G when I was an RA.

When I was an RA, I worked in a 16-story, co-ed building. I loved my girls - they are so great. I keep in contact with a lot of them still, and I am also happy to report that many of them still live together with their original roommates that were randomly assigned. Great bunch of ladies.

So we decided to go all out. We got ornaments and Christmas lights and cheesy decorations. And we all spent our own money/used our own resources to do so. It was so much fun. We were probably outside in the hall for a good four or five hours decorating. God, talking about it makes me miss my floor. But not my teeny tiny single room or having to walk up seven flights of stairs multiple times a day. Or being called at 3:30 in the morning because some idiot got too drunk and threw up all over the place. Oh, the best story, though, was when these dumb boys on the fourth floor pulled a water fountain off of the wall and threw it out a window. That was great. And who was on call that night? I WAS.

Okay. ANYWAYS - back to the warm and fuzzy feelings...

Joanna, our resident artist (seriously, she's studying art).

Many of our supplies all laid out, ready to go. See my laptop in the foreground? We totally used ideas from Martha Stewart and Real Simple. I'm kind of an old lady.

Stringing ornaments to hang from our ceiling! This wasn't the best idea. Drunk fools would come down the floor and pull them down and break them. By the end of the Christmas season, we only had a few left.

Leah made us a fake Christmas tree. We couldn't have a real (or even fake) on, because it took up too much space and created a fire hazard. Sad, but she did good.

Coming together!

Sigh. So pretty. We even wrapped "presents"! Surprisingly, they were there until we shut down for Christmas.

And obviously we couldn't have a fireplace, so we made one out of paper. The stockings are all 32 of our names!

Our Frosty, with some "snow".

We had floor t-shirts made up. Joanna, who I mentioned previously, drew up a design of a cupcake, which we printed on shirts. We decided to use a cupcake because they're my favorite and I totally got those girls into cupcakes, too. So here we are posing with our shirts around the fire. This obviously isn't all of the girls. A lot of them had already worn their shirts and they were dirty and others simply weren't on the floor at the time. Sad.

My girls called me "Big Momma", so Pete was called "Big Daddy". He got a shirt, too - but I was nice enough to get it for him in red. I'm pretty sure he hasn't worn that shirt since this picture was taken...

A final family shot in front of the tree with some presents. They were singing.