In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

A White House Christmas

So there I am watching Genevieve Gorder on HGTV showing off the White House Christmas decorations this weekend, and my boyfriend and I discuss the fact that this is all done by volunteers and how have I not volunteered for this yet (if the White House saw my rather random Christmas tree decorations it might think twice about allowing me near it in December) And in the midst of all of this I forgot that I had an 8 am pass to see the White House decorations the very next morning.

Consequently, I hit "snooze" three times before finally prying open my eyes at 7:45 and realized: I have 15 minutes to get my butt to the White House, approximately 25 blocks away in rush hour traffic.

I roused a grumpy but ultimately heroic boyfriend to drive me down, and I was on line by 8:05, and ran into some of my colleagues who were held up at the front gate. Because my name was on the cleared list, I was able to help speed their clearance along... they'd been waiting for 40 minutes in the icy cold for someone to run their drivers licenses. (Since the Salahis, things have been in a bit of a disarray down at 1600.)

Anyway! Here's what I almost missed but for an indulgent boyfriend with a car and love in his heart. The pictures don't quite do it justice....

the east door, and below, the highlight for me. A difficult to photograph series of wreaths -- each with a different fruit or vegetable, tightly packed -- pears, citrus, pomegranates, artichokes, and something that looked cross between a pear and a purple gourd. The latter is the first wreath on the left. Then there were little orange somethings... peppers?

The East Room -- where the president sometimes has press conferences -- was decked out with peacocks. Here's a close up of one of the mantle decorations followed by the mantle and a tree in the room. There was scaffolding still up... some last minute decorating going on.

this tree, above, was made with gold painted newspapers
the tree above was topped with a sheaf of wheat. The theme for the whole house is "simple gifts."

these branches were beautiful but also didn't photograph well. Tiny crystal (or plastic, who knows) cubes were wired to look like an ice storm had just rolled through. Gorgeous.

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