Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy all holidays to my lovely blog readers! Thanks for a great year! I hope wherever you are and whenever you can this year you get to celebrate this Christmas season with family and friends and have lots of joy!

This year we're doing lots of traveling, catching up with many friends, seeing lots of family and hosting some in our new (still to us) place. We've got lots to be thankful for (hey! Not just for thanksgiving ya know) and have loved all the exciting and eventful things in 2011.

This is our second Christmas as a married couple and we've got a few traditions so far of our own. One: put up our fake super great deal tree early. Two: buy a new ornament each year, (preferably with that year on it) there will be this years' ornament preview soon. It's a goodie this year! Three: bake (ok that's mine!). Four: try not to give away any gift secrets to the other person. Through bank accounts, packages with obvious return labels or just lack of will bring able to hold back. I love Christmas.

This is our Christmas card this year. We used MyPublisher which was awesome. I love our little card this year, that photo of us in San Francisco, and the cute design. It's a keeper! Also I'm telling you that if you need to choose a printer/book maker/card company people choose MyPublisher. Seriously They have the best customer service and highest quality products I've seen. First I had a great coupon for some free cards (yay!), then FedEx lost my package and without me even having to ask nicely MyPublisher replaced the whole thing; rush. Wow. That was awesome. Thanks! Anyway that's the story of these 2011 Christmas cards. Happy day.

It's almost Christmas!!! Enjoy!

Ps. MyPublisher did not sponsor this post or endorse this. They don't even know that my blog exists. I just love them and their products.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Photo dump December 2011

These are some photos of lately.  

Downtown Richmond - it gets lit up for the holidays.  Very pretty.

These make a great meat free - chic'ken salad. They taste great when baked! From Martins (/Giant)

Best Saturday morning brunch - steel cut oatmeal. I ate mine with blueberries; T with nuts, dried fruit & brown sugar. Oh and perfectly homemade espresso in cool cups.  

We made snowflakes out of coffee filters to decorate for Christmas.  We used coffee filters since they are free and actually easy to cut.  Not as thick as printer paper but hold up more than tissue paper.  And they're already round!  We taped them to our front window.


Just chillin' Cornelius and I.

Funny sign.

The turkey we had at Thanksgiving.  Yumm...

My dad also made pheasant for the big meal.  

The table all fancy for Thanksgiving.




Photo dump end.

Bonus! I'm linking up with the wonderful Latte Love on an awesome Blogger Map. Want to see what local bloggers are near you in your travels?? Link up too!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Wish List 2011

This Christmas we're not going to heavy on gifts. It's a 'love letters and the thought that counts' year. We'll exchange some but mostly on the modest side. We're baking up lots of big batches of cookies for family and friends (oops - gave away that surprise!).

We've been making the holiday season special by doing other things like decorating together, mailing Christmas cards, listening to pandora and 8tracks Christmas music, and more. I thought it'd be fun to wrap up non gifts. Everyone loves boxes under the tree right? So why not wrap up regular things for a fun surprise! I splurged on a holiday scented Narnia theme Method kitchen soap Similar to this one (we live dangerously I know!) and wrapped that. I also gave Tony regular every day stuff in gifts under the tree like axe body spray and his very own watch with a new battery. It's the little things right?!

But just for fun! In dream world I'd ask for:


       



Tony wants these











What's on your Christmas Wishlist?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cat Burglar!

Have we mentioned our issues with our noisy upstairs neighbors? To summarize, we have a couple of newly graduated gentlemen above us who still behave as though they're in college. Pre-gaming from 9pm until 11pm, which usually includes some loud music, people click-clacking around in high heels, shouting & playing music, coming home at 3am to party more. A few strongly worded letters SEEM to have helped the situation, and we sleep better than we did a few months ago. It's lights out around 10pm for us most nights as my school day starts pretty early. We drift to sleep without the noisy shouting of drunken 22 year olds, and the soft, sweet, quiet settles in...

...until...

3:00am. A soft pitter-pattering begins on our bedroom door. It gets louder. It gets faster. What at first sounded like soft hands, now starts to involve claws and turns into scratching. It's just annoying enough to wake you up... then keep you awake. And it's as persistent. It's our cat, Cornelius!

insert Jaws theme music here...
The little bugger decided that he doesn't like human circadian rhythms, so he likes to do things like play or eat when everyone else is asleep. In our old apartment, we used our second bedroom as the cat's bedroom- he had all he needed in there, his litterbox, food, water & a door to close him in there with. We had the same problem there- we couldn't let him sleep with us because he'd wake up at 3am and walk on our heads or knock stuff off our dressers. Here however, we now have the luxury (misfortune?) of having a basement where we keep his box. But we feel bad locking him down there, what with the bugs & wall mold and what not. That's bad for kitten lungs. We tried locking him in our second bedroom/office at our current place, but without his litter box, he decided to poop on the floor. Fail.
border control
We tried putting a pillow from our couch across the bottom of the door but he's so big that it was only a minor deterrent. And Cornelius is a smart cat. He would scratch anyway, and we took to opening the door, then spraying him with water. But he started to get wise to us, and as soon as he would hear us get up from the bed, he'd hide in the dark. Did we mention that he tries to open doorknobs, like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park?
source

Can you spot the kitty in this picture? Nope? Neither can we at 3am, with no lights on. He's like a little kid ringing the doorbell & running away!

While you're busy hunting him down in the dark apartment with a water bottle, he sneaks stealthily into the bedroom, and hides himself under the bed. And waits until we get back in bed to announce himself. Every now and then you can find him poking his little head around a corner or up from under some furniture, hiding from the water, saying with his little eyes "Don't spray me, bro!"

"what's in your hand?"
"Please don't spray me! I just want to play!"




















Whatever should we do to fix this problem? We've considered the following ideas unless someone can think of a better one!

  • Kitten Mittens


  • Remote-controlled water gun
  • Placing cell phone by the door & calling it when he scratches (and using a dog-bark ringtone)
  • Is it unethical to give a cat some benadryl to get him to sleep?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Books I've read in 2011

I read a lot. I read a lot of books; well I listen to a lot of books. Yep I'm an audiobook reader. I 'read' most of my books in audiobook form. To me that doesn't make it any less of a read. I used to get a lot in during my commute to work as it was 35 mins each way 4 days a week back in Raleigh. Now I just have a lot of time on my hands so I still get a lot in. These are the books I've read in the last 12 months. Not all are audiobook form but probably 75% are digital; the rest old fashion paper form.

In oldest to newest read:

2011

19 Minutes - Jodi Picoult
*The China Study - T. Colin Campbell
Sarah’s Key - Tatiana de Rosnay
Lift - Kelly Corrigan
I don’t know how she does it - Allison Pearson
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Say You’re One Of Them - Uwem Akpan
At Home - Bill Bryson
A Reliable Wife – Robert Goolrick
Bikram Yoga – Bikram Choudhury
What Remains – Carole Radziwill
The Life of Pi –Yann Martel
*Medium Raw - Anthony Bourdain
The Pact - Jodi Picoult
Bossypants - Tina Fey
A walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Sex, Drugs and Cocoapuffs - Chuck Klosterman
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
I’d know you anywhere - Laura Lippman
*The Emperor of All Maladies: A biography of Cancer - Siddhartha Mukherjee
The art of running in the rain - Garth Stein
Little Bee- Chris cleave
A Stolen Life- Jaycee Dugard
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand - Helen Simonson
Just as Long as we’re together - Judy Blume
Cleopatra’s Daughter - Michelle Moran
Push (Precious) - Sapphire
*A Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry
*Dewey - Vicki Myron

Total = 30

*Books not yet completed. 

The 2 latest unfinished ones I am currently reading now (possibly finished by the time this gets post gets published live) and the 3 unfinished books from earlier this year I plan to finish one day. I think there were others actually I only kinda started that weren't counted. Some book by Barbara Kingsolver; others are lost. Where did I get all these books? Most I got from the library (yes libraries have digital loans!), some were gifts, we owned a few, and for a while I had an audible.com subscription (that was a gift as well).

There will be a couple more added to the list before 2012 hits. I've got plans to read 1493 by Charles Mann and another Jodi Picoult book around Christmas. That'll bring my total finished books read up to 29! That's 2.4 books a month! In 2010 I only read 22. What an improvement!

My favorites:
  1. Lift - Kelly Corrigan
  2. At Home - Bill Bryson
  3. Bossypants - Tina Fey
Least favorites: 
  1. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
  2. What Remains – Carole Radziwill
  3. I’d know you anywhere - Laura Lippman
The book Lift by Kelly Corrigan is absolutely my number 1 favorite! It is very short; tiny in fact so I have listened to it at least 15 times straight through. Probably more like 30+ counting all the pieces I'll listen to it randomly. No kidding. I can recite word for word along with the audio large portions of it. Try me. It's not in novel format so I just pick off anywhere and start listening when bored.

Halfway through the year the audio input aux jack in my car broke. I used to use it to listen to audiobooks from my iPhone whenever I was in the car by myself. Commuting, errands etc. Now I've got to get it fixed. My book reading is suffering. I keep track of everything on Google docs; I love Google.

What book recommendations to you have for me for 2012? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

DIY Christmas Tree Ornaments

We've put up our tree! It's decorated and lit and ready for Santa. :)

We've had this tree for a few years since we bought it at an after Christmas sale at Target. It's not super big but it's always been perfect for our apartments. We of course have an assortment of ornaments - target red, brown & gold baubles; some with glitter, a few owls and some gifted ornaments. We've got one from our honeymoon, one we made as a replica of our own wedding cake, a few candy canes and some new DIY'd ones I just made recently!

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I made a couple new ornaments for our collection this year. They're cheap and semi organic! I got the idea from Pinterest. I can't find the original pin but this is bascially the idea:
Pinterest source
The idea to use pinecones came from two places - one this post a while ago, and two I found a bag of scented ones while pulling out the tree from storage. So armed with craftiness, lots of pinecones, and a smart husband I made painted Christmas tree ornaments.

I started with the same can of white spray paint we've had forever. This thing will run out eventually I fear.

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I used the same method I used here where I screwed picture hanging loop hooks into the pine cones. It was pretty easy but you could use a screwdriver to drill a pilot hole if your pine cones are too dried out or won't budge and you pinch your fingers raw trying to hold those pokey things.
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I just hung the pinecones and spray painted! I was working outside (yay for warm Virginia Decembers!) next to our recycle bin and used some scrap shredded paper to hang them. They're dangelling from a broom over my scrap cardboard. I mostly sprayed from above and a little from the sides. This way some of the original organic brown shows through and gives it a 2 color look. I did 2 coats since I wanted it to look glossy and bright! Since they already had hooks in them I just opened a paperclip for each to hang on the tree. Although now I see that pretty ribbon in the Pinterest photo I may want to add that to mine.


See how cute they look on our tree? And a totally free project! Well assuming you can find pinecones out back, have those loop screws, spray paint (another color perhaps!) and paperclips/ribbon. It was fun and I'm thinking of making a few more. I did a large one and a smaller still semi closed one. Hopefully these will stay and we'll be able to use them for years to come!



Got any DIY ornaments?

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