Thursday, December 31, 2009

The end of an era...

Holy cats - It is the last day of 2009! How did that come up so quickly?

2009 was a great year for me. Here is a quick list of things that stand out in my mind.

I learned how to...
...Tile! And I admire that subway tile kitchen backsplash every day.
...knit!
...make a lemon meringue pie!
...make short ribs!
...make crepes!
...snake a drain!
...more about investing thanks to my investment club!
...switch out light switches!
...how to "spin"
...make a roman shade!
...install a over the range microwave!
...play and beat my husband in rummy!
...that skinny jeans and leggings are my favorite clothing items!

Some accomplishments:
1. Adding adjunct faculty to my resume
2. Donating 8 vials of blood to a research project and NOT fainting
3. Making gifts for 80% of the birthdays we buy presents for
4. Reaching 64% of my new years resolutions
5. Finishing a half marathon and not being crazy enough to train for another full marathon.
6. Starting a book club
7. Selling enough Schlocks to buy a new sewing machine
8. Making it to the two year anniversary mark in our marriage :)
9. Finally got my health insurance to pay for my glasses
10. Winning a radio contest to attend a local celebrity's wedding

Marriages: This year we actually had fewer weddings to attend than in years past:
1. Jill & Ryan
2. Karen & Ryan (but the not the aforementioned Ryan)
3. Juliana & Charlie
4. Jason & Paula
5. Kristy & Greg
6. Chris & Tara (if you saw earlier versions of this post, rest assured that it was CHRIS and Tara that got married...not CHRIST and tara.)

Births! The weddings may be tapering down, but if 2009 is any indication, I have a feeling that births may be on the rise!
1. Alex B.
2. Sarah D.
3. Emelia H.
4. Henry S.
5. Nate A.
6. Alex VDL.
7. Stella B.
8. Little Ike, nate's aunt & uncles puppy :)

Deaths
Unfortunately 2009 was also the year my great-grandmother, Hazel, and family dog, Moose passed away.

Events!
1. My great grandfather decided to auction off most of his belongings. I purchased cool jewelry, glassware and plates.
2. I visited 8 states this year: Georgia, Arizona, New York, Pennslyvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Washington, D.C.
3. My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!
4. Most. Amazing. Bruce. Springsteen. Concert. Ever!
5. 10 year class reunion where we really did party like it was 1999
6. Family reunion with Nate's maternal grandmother's family
7. Family reunion with my paternal great-grandmother's family

"Oh My God, Did That Really Just Happen/Did I Really Just Do That?" Moments
1. Falling on the treadmill (repeatedly) at the YMCA during one of the busiest hours of the day
2. Meeting Carrie Underwood in NYC
3. Meeting Deena Kastor in NYC
4. Falling on the dancefloor at my best friend's wedding and then subsequently having to explain why I had to get an xray and wear a bootie to everyone
5. Almost sh**ing my pants upon seeing a coyote in Phoenix while running
6. Screaming and running around the parking lot when I found the limo driver in the wedding contest challenge and then when we actually went to the wedding, making a sandwhich with my husband and the groom on the dance floor where I pretend to spank the groom. Seriously. I won a contest to go to this wedding and I do THAT on the dance floor.
7. Screaming PINKBERRY on the upper west side of New York like I had found an oasis in the desert.
8. The entire bachelorette party doing multiple beer bongs in my kitchen at JS's bachelorette party. CRAZY. FUN. The next morning wasn't quite a scene out of The Hangover, but pretty darn close.

I'm sure there are MANY more of these moments, but I have to get a lot of stuff done before we hop on a plane at 4:30!

I'm looking forward to 2010 and the next decade!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I haven't brought up Bruce in a while...


Bruce Springsteen was honored at the Kennedy Center last night. Jon Stewart introduced the tribute with a great (and obviously funny) speech and a variety of artists performed Bruce songs. I am in love with the Ben Harper and Jennifer Nettles version of "I'm On Fire" and hoping that I can find it to download. Eddie Vedder's "My City of Ruins" was awesome as well. Even Michelle and her husband were rocking along by the end of the tribute. (Nate and I have taken to calling the Prez "Michelle's Husband" after we heard the song Forever by Drake).

Seven years after I met him, my husband finally conceded that "Bruce is a pretty cool guy" last night. It's a hard job being right all the time, but someone's gotta do it and I'm happy to oblige. ha ha ha

More about the Kennedy Center honors here.

Water Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

UGH.

Well, we cleaned out the basement last night, including removing the still wet carpet. Take note - carpet circa 1970 is gross and smelly. Carpet circa 1970 that is SATURATED with water is absolutely revolting.

Here are some pictures of what the left half of our basement looked like before we ripped up the carpet




Totally a set out of That '70's show, right?!

We ended up having to use a box cutter to cut the carpet into strips because it was so heavy with water (this AFTER Nate shop vac-ed it). Then Nate rolled the strips up and put them into heavy duty lawn bags. After he removed the carpet, I had to scoop up black carpet goo (i.e. old rotten padding) with our new snow shovel (Merry Christmas from my dad). Eventually, we did get all the carpet up, even though the cement floor is still really wet. We have fans going to try to get it dry. I forgot to take pictures of the "after".

This morning, Nate took 8 huge bags (2 trips) to the dump. Overnight the water emptied out of the carpet into the bags so it was another mess. At this point, we really do NEED a vacation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Panic!

Thank goodness my father-in-law got a shop vac for Christmas. Nate brought that home and removed 20 gallons of water from our basement carpet. The basement now smells like old wet carpet - lovely. On the bright side, we now have a good excuse to get that carpet out of there! I think back to our "trash the carpet" housewarming party which we had in fall of 2007. The theme was "trash the carpet" because we were going to get rid of that basement carpet ASAP. Here we are over two years later with the same carpet :)

While Nate shop vac-ed, I made homemade vegetable soup and then we watched Jersey Shore. My brothers-in-law told us to watch this train wreck of a show. Train wreck it is. Are these people for real? I think I lost a few IQ points during the running time.

The basement was done, dinner was gone so we decided to fill out our cruise documents online. The documents need to be done by new years eve and are pretty standard - fill out your passport number, give them a credit card for any incidentals, etc. Nate went to get the passports and he could not find his. We TORE the house apart for over an hour and still could not find it. Eventually, we did find it wedged into an old bank folder. PHEW! Then this morning when I was finishing the documents, I realized he could have just brought his birth certificate and drivers' license. Oh well. It is more fun acquiring passport stamps!

Here is our itinerary:
Days 1-3: AT SEA
Day 4: St. Maarten
Day 5: St. Thomas
Day 6: At Sea
Day 7: Castaway Cay, Bahamas
Day 8: Return to port super early

Here is the ship:


People keep asking me if I bought a new wardrobe for the cruise. Uh, no. I am recycling (for the billionth time) all the dresses I have from the numerous weddings we have attended in the past couple of years. I went a little crazy buying bathing suits for our honeymoon so I still have all of those. I also remember STUFFING a suitcase full of stuff for our honeymoon and wearing the same 3 things over and over. I did get a new pair of flip flops and a beach bag for Christmas so those are the only two new things that will be accompanying me - I have to have room for all the books and magazines, people! :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

4 Traveling Days, 3 French Rolls, 2 Tired Schlottys and a Flooded Basement on 1**th Street

Christmas again flew by in a busy blur. As usual, we had a great holiday with our families. Here is a shot of us at about 3:30 on Christmas Eve when we departed our house. We had to use the self timer and put the camera on the ledge so pardon the crappy shot.


Here is our tree - it is my favorite tree we have had yet! I love the addition of the red wooden beads. These were on my family tree growing up and I acquired them when we were moving my dad over the summer.

We also went to the Bucks game the night before Christmas Eve to celebrate my cousin-in-law's birthday. Here is a shot of us from the game:


We got back home last night around 7 PM. I went straight to bed to watch tv for a few hours. This morning, Nate went down to the basement to get a clean shirt and discovered that at some point in the 4 days that we were gone, the basement flooded! The water in the sump pump hose froze and therefore the pump stopped running. Thankfully nothing was ruined except the really old (circa 1970) carpet that is down there. We now have a good excuse for pulling it up and throwing it away!

Handmade Holiday Part 2

The handmade gifts went over well. Nate & I made my mother-in-law a table runner for her dining room:



You may have noticed that I said "Nate & I". He cut out all of the material and worked on pressing. We were working with linen so it was easy to wrinkle.

I also made my mom a bag for her upcoming trip. This was not much of a surprise because I had her pick out the main material, but I think she liked it.


This is another Birdie Sling. The main fabric is from Amy Butler's new Love collection. The inside lining fabric is actually leftover from a pair of pants I made CD and the handle is leftover table runner fabric. I aim to use up all fabric remnants!

The final handmade thing I made this Christmas was the fabric alphabet for my niece, Toni. Again, she had already seen these because I gave her a few of the finished letters during cookie making to see if she would like them. She did so I finished this very putzy project at 12:30 on Christmas Eve!


I think the handmade gifts will continue into 2010. I was pretty satisfied with how many I was able to accomplish in 2009. My 2009 sewing album is here if you are interested. This album excludes Schlocks but otherwise is fairly complete, I think.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Too excited to work....

Ah...last night I lost 5 pounds. Of hair. I swear that my hair grows wider rather than longer. Thank you to Kacie who fixed me up just in time for the holidays. I am getting closer to my Amelie-type style!!!

The next couple of days promise to be jam-packed. The action starts tonight where we will be going to the Milwaukee Bucks basketball game in style. My in-laws bid on and won a package for one of the suites and gave it to my cousin-in-law, Ben, for his birthday, which is today. Ben decided to take the whole fam along and his girlfriend. Free pizza, free booze and free snacks!! Oh yeah, and some basketball too ;).

Tomorrow I plan on sleeping in and then I have one more gift to finish up for my niece. Oh, and a few Gossip Girl Discs! We will be heading to the in-laws tomorrow night to begin four days of Christmas celebration with our families!

If I don't return to the blog before then, Merry Christmas everyone!!

Handmade Holiday: Part 1

I got some amazing news this morning - my dear friend, AH, is home for Christmas rather than in a hospital bed in preterm labor!!!! Never doubt the Christmas miracle!

Last night I finished 2 more gifts and made dark chocolate glaze brownies for our holiday potluck at work today. And watched some Gossip Girl ;)
It's time for the big reveal, well, the first part anyway. I have been busy sewing 8collapsable tote bags for my office mates:


When you have so much fabric stowed away in your house that you could practically open a fabric store, handmade gifts are the way to go. I also noticed that all of us at work pretty much use those ugly conference bags for lunch so I thought a little boost was necessary.

I loosely based the bags off of the collapsible tote bag in the book, One Yard Wonders: 101 Fabulous Fabric Projects. I just ordered the book from BN (where they have an "exclusive edition that provides 5 additional projects) and really like it. In my obsession over fabric, I usually order 1 yard of it when i have no project in mind (which occurs like 99% of the time) so this book will definitely go to good use. I plan to continue doing handmade gifts in 2010 as much as possible so this book will definitely come in handy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book It Returns for the Holidays



This is the 30th book I read in 2009 - the goal setting shot. I liked it. If you are not into reading books that are more into character development than plot, then I do not recommend this book. Leave a comment and I will send it to you. If more than one person comments, I will draw a name. Be sure to leave an email address of where I can contact you if I don't know you personally :)

Disclaimer: The book cover has some water damage so the book you will be receiving is definitely used.

More info on Three Junes here.

"I love it when we're crusing together"

Last night I finished two more gifts, for the women who brought us into this world. Both of them turned out VERY good! Nate even helped out - he is now master cutter and presser in the Schlotty Santa Workshop. I will post pictures of everything after they are given out as I'm not sure who does and does not read this blog ;)

I will be finishing up the handmade gifts tonight after a much needed haircut! This is why I don't ever break my procrastination habit - because stuff still gets done. Well, besides that ruffle scarf...

In other news, we got our cruise travel portfolio delivered via UPS last night! Normally I would be thinking about vacation nonstop, but I have been so focused on Christmas and getting things done for that that I haven't really thought about it that much! After the hustle and bustle of December, i will be very happy to be on a boat, in the sun, with a book. We leave for FL in 1 week and 2 days. The ship departs in 1 week and 4 days. Woohoo!

Title of this post comes from that really bad movie, Duets, where Huey Lewis (Hip to be Square) and Gwnyth Paltrow (pre Goop) sang, you guessed it, a duet.

Monday, December 21, 2009

6 down, 1 abandoned and 3 to go!

Ok, I may have calmed down from the lemon meringue pie to talk about the REST of the weekend, which was BUSY, but rewarding.

We woke up early Saturday morning and decided to get moving to hopefully beat the crowds to the mall. We ended up getting a free $15 American Express card for parking in the "far away" structure at the mall! The mall was basically empty which allowed us to finish our shopping by mid-morning. We went to breakfast at the cafe downtown where my sister works and then to the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum for a quick break. We finished off the shopping and were home by early afternoon. SCORE! As much as I do not usually like to save my shopping for the last minute, I can see why people do - stores had amazingly great deals.

The remainder of the day was spent crafting. I finished six of the nine gifts I wanted to make. I am planning on finishing the remaining three in the next couple of nights. Nothing like getting down to the wire! I have basically decided that the ruffled scarf is not going to get done. Luckily the recipient's birthday is in the beginning part of the year!

Sunday we spent the better part of the day wrapping our gifts and cooking on the new stove! I am so happy we went with gas - it is a delight to use! We made braised short ribs, Brussels Sprouts with bacon, mashed Yukon gold potatoes for dinner with my in-laws. I was in bed pretty early last night as I was quite tired.

4 more days until Christmas!!

3rd Time's a Charm!

HOLY CANOLI.

I SUCCESSFULLY MADE A LEMON MERINGUE PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You may recall Attempt #1 and Attempt #2.

Well, Attempt #3 was the winner -




It was so amazingly yummy - I am quite proud of it. What was the difference? I actually ditched the recipe I used for #1 and #2 and used the recipe from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Result - One perfect pie!!!!!!

Phew - 11 days before 2009 was over - got that resolution crossed off!

I also crossed off two of my other pending resolutions over the weekend:

1) I finished 30 books! The official list:
White Teeth
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen
The Great Man: A Novel
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Anna Karenina
Revolutionary Road
Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life
North River: A Novel
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Possession: A Romance
The God of Small Things
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
The Book Thief
Commencement: A Novel
Farm City
The Girl who Played with Fire
The Likeness: A Novel
When Crickets Cry
The Wonder Spot
Case Histories: A Novel
People of the Book
The Help
Dead Until Dawn (Sookie Stackhouse #1)
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Snow Flower & the Secret Fan
Straight Up and Dirty
Three Junes

2. I made braised short ribs over the weekend. They also were quite good.

Thus, all of my pending resolutions are accomplished. Nine of the 14 resolutions I set in January are done - 64%. Maybe I learned that resolutions are not my forte! ha ha ha

Friday, December 18, 2009

This all has to happen in the next 36 hours

The weekend promises to be eventful. We have a lot to cram in:

Nate's holiday party for work

Andy Warhol exhibit at MAM - closes too soon!

Dinner with the in-laws

Monitoring the status of AH & Kilo

Finishing up Christmas shopping

Delivering Neighbor Gifts

Oh, and whipping up 9 handmade gifts. On the bright side, we finished season 3 of The Wire last night so there *hopefully* won't be too many distractions

Mark the Calendar - The Kitchen is DUNZO!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess what arrived this morning? Our new stove! Kitchen complete!

  1. Sand cabinents, wood putty any existing holes

  2. Prime cabinets

  3. Paint cabinets

  4. Change cabinet hardware

  5. Change countertops

  6. Install sink and garbage disposal

  7. Install subway tile backsplash

  8. Install new microwave

  9. Remove upper cabinets that divide kitchen & dining area

  10. Paint pantry doors and install new door hardware

  11. Build and install cookbook shelf

  12. New light fixtures

  13. Make and install roman shade in window

  14. Install gas shut off valve

  15. New range/oven




Much better than what we started with one year, six months, three weeks and 4 days ago:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Keep Calm & Carry On

I am doubtful that the knitted scarf will be complete by Christmas. I had to take a break from knitting because I have been having shoulder pain. Like, it is difficult lift my arm up to wash my hair shoulder pain. So when I read about Yokoo in the NYT, I could not imagine how she built up the endurance to knit for 13 hours a day.

I have to keep my eyes on the prize...


Photo Source: Sadie & Oliver where I also got the pattern for the scarf via Ravelry

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fighting the WI Pasty Winter Skin Syndrome

My sister and I attended the Blush holiday open house last night. They had really great cupcakes, warm apple cider and plenty of people to test out makeup on you. I LOVE makeup. Can't get enough. Throw in the promise of a free gift and I am set. In winter I get very pasty looking, especially with the bitter cold we have been experiencing lately. I wanted to find a bronzer that would "warm me up" but not turn me into Amerita. (I went to FL the week before my friend's wedding in the ATL a few years back and the make-up artist actually had to use makeup intended for a much darker complected person - hence I believe AH coined the name, "Amerita" for me. It was the tannest (most tan??) I have ever been - see photo. I also had these ridiculously awful bubblegum pink nails - what was i thinking?)

But I digress...back to the bronzer.

I explained that I wanted a bronzer but I didn't want to look like an oompa loompa. Voila - Laura Mercier Matte Bronzer Light. My new favorite beauty product of the week...although i am still rocking the red lipstick from NYC. The sis had some lovely eye makeup done as well.

Our free gift for attending was a little gift pack of three different lip venoms. Angelina Jolie, watch out.

We tooled around Anthropologie, oogling but not purchasing anything and then headed to Bella for soup and grilled cheese. A great night!

Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis the Season

We had a jam packed weekend. Friday night we made a taco bar in our kitchen and wolfed down taco after taco. How amazing are beef, fresh cilantro and onion corn tacos? After our taco fest, we started the third season of The Wire. Excellent so far.

Saturday my cousin/goddaughter, LM, came down for The Nutcracker. This was my Christmas gift to her. We did some shopping in the Third Ward and had lunch at Taco de Bajo before heading to the show. I love The Nutcracker and hope that she liked it!

We headed to my hometown Saturday evening to spend the night with my dad and sister going through and attempting to organize old family photos. We also watched Four Christmases - story of our lives.

Sunday we had our first family Christmas event - my Nana's annual extended family Christmas Party. This party is all about the Lincoln's baby - we get our annual Christmas Card from my Great-Grandpa T with a $5 bill. It is always a good time. After the party, we headed to get a Christmas tree with my brother & niece to help them decorate. I have decided that 3 1/2 year old children are my favorite age. Toni is in LOVE with Christmas. Here are some photos:

Making play-doh sprinkles:


My brother, Toni & Frazier the dog:


Toni is obessed with her dog. The poor thing is a good sport:




I'm not really sure how she got so dirty - probably having too much fun.

Last night Nate decorated our tree while I finished grading final exams. I am so glad the semester is over. Now I have 10 days to get those Christmas presents done!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nooooo Reservations...Except that I DO have Reservations!



Thanks to an anonymous blog comment (ahem, from my MIL), Nate & I are heading to the Riverside Friday 1/22 to see Anthony Bourdain!!!! I just bought our tickets and am super excited. We didn't get front row (already sold out) but are still in the front section. Now how can I plot and scheme so that I can actually meet him??? ha ha ha

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December issue of Lonny Mag

Lonny Magazine Issue 2 is out.

I really like this magazine but wish it was in print.

Adventures of a Wanna-be Knitter

I picked up disc 1 of Gossip Girl Season 1 from my local library last night and was envisioning a nice evening of watching all 4 episodes while continuing to work on my knitting.

What I did not envision: Spending 2 1/2 hours untangling yarn.

I swear, I don't need an instruction manual for every little thing, but I did not know that it was bad news to try to knit directly from yarn that is wound up like this:


Apparently, it is recommended that you untwist the pretzel-like yarn and then roll that yarn into a ball before beginning. Well, I did not do this. I untwisted the pretzel and started knitting from a big 'ol loop of yarn. I should have read this beforehand.

Oh wait. Let me back up. Nate's grandmother, an avid knitter, saw me knitting from this giant loop over the summer and asked me why I didn't wind it in a ball. I gave her a blank look and said, "I dunno". Here would have been the time to start winding, but I just kept going.

Since summer, I have started over with this same yarn about 4 times. My first scarf I picked a way too difficult pattern. Just because I made a dishcloth and a hat does not make me an expert knitter. So i started over with a different pattern. Way too many mistakes later, I ripped that out too. Never once did I think, "i really should wind this into a ball".

Well, now i picked a pattern that is working quite well and I am making some headway. Enter jumbled mess of yarn. I decide to find the end of the yarn and begin winding into a ball. Oh my lord. How tedious. I was bound and determined not to cut the yarn though so I worked out all of the kinks, knots, etc. And now I have a nice big ball of yarn. And still no progress made on the actual scarf.

BTW, Gossip Girl is awesome. Made me wish I was back in NYC.

Photo Source: The Purl Bee - craft blog of Purl Soho, a very cute knitting shop in Soho.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Ro-oh-oh-oh-ad

We had our first big snowstorm of the year last night! It wasn't quite big enough to get me out of work today, but we have several more months to attempt that. Nate went outside to try to capture photos but they just look dark with lots of light from the snowflakes. I love when it snows in December right before Christmas. It puts me in the holiday mood instantly. Now, come March 30, I hate snow with a passion, but I always start out loving it.

Our Christmas tree still needs to be decorated. We went with a very full tree this year and our typical 4 strands of lights did not cover all of it so we need to pick up some more lights and then put the ornaments on. Our tree is a tribute to our childhood. Both of our moms gave us these tupperwares full of ornaments that we had growing up, some of them handmade. So we have a half-eaten glittery pretzel ornament and homemade clothespin reindeer mixed in with our Old World Christmas. Every year I think it might be fun to do a color-coordinated "pretty" tree but I take one look at that ornament box and reach for the pretzel ornament. We can tell you a zillion stories about the ornaments on our tree and i love it.

I did find a great idea on the blogosphere - the ribbon over the door card holder:

Currently we get Christmas cards and they go into this decorative basket type thing. Not a great way to see them all so I think i might try to do this ribbon thing. Bonus points in that it will hide our ugly interior doors some.

Speaking of holiday cards, I had to laugh in that all of the cards we have received so far come from people with children. Damn, you mothers know how to multitask! It made me feel a little lame-o that I haven't gotten ours out yet. I'm too busy lazing in my bed nursing my treadmill wounds. Ok, I'm about halfway done. I also will never buy cards with glitter on them again. We have glitter everywhere - and it even gets on the pen while writing so you have to wipe off this inky-glittery goo from the pen tip every couple of cards. Ick.

Which brings me to the holiday gifts portion of this post. I have great intentions to do as many handmade gifts as possible this year. Even though I realize I only have 2 weeks and 2 days left. The person receiving the hand-knit ruffle scarf may not get it until April, but night by night, it is progressing. Note to self: Next year start making holiday gifts in June. Oh wait, that's right. I did think to start them last June and then procrastinated until now.

I hope your holiday planning is going a little better than mine!

My intention with the title of this post was to get you singing Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham from National Lampoon's Vacation. Christmas Vacation is in my Top 5 Holiday movies list.

Bedroom Picture with TV

Here is the a shot of my new favorite spot in our house with the new TV:


Basically the overstuffed chair and the dresser switched places to accomodate the TV.
We also moved our rug to be at the foot of the bed. I really love the look of all the wallpaper that is out now, but knowing that wallpaper is a huge pain in the a** to remove makes me not want to put it up. So I bought all of these supplies to stencil a wallpaper like pattern on the long wall of our bedroom instead. Add that to the 2010 to-do list.

Now onto shows. I kept seeing recaps and fashions from Gossip Girl and I wondered what that was all about. I put the first DVD of season 1 on reserve at the library and it is in now. Do people watch this show? Is it good? I am kind of thinking it will fall into the guilty pleasure file, along with ANTM.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Paparazzi Cause Injury at Local YMCA

I hate treadmills. I generally try to run outside at all costs, but during winter here in WI, it gets a little dicey. Mainly because of ice/slipperiness. I have had a few slips on the ice in my 14 year running career.

Thus, during what suppossedly is this huge snowstorm, I decided to run indoors tonight.

To combat the bordeom that is running on a treadmill, I usually break out the Ipod, something I do not use while running outside.

I usually head for the fancy treadmills where you can select all these programs and hook up and control your ipod using the big screen. I had my program all selected, was starting out at a comfortable 7.0 mph and I could not get the Ipod screen to work. I hopped to put both of my feet on the sides of the treadmill to get Lady Gaga to begin playing. Paparazzi started out in full force.

WHY I DID NOT JUST PUSH STOP ON THE TREADMILL IS BEYOND ME. I instead tried to hop back on and start running.

WRONG.

I totally fell on my knee. Thankfully i grabbed the railing in time before I face planted but I could not hit the stop button and kept trying to get up, fall down, get up fall down. I think I managed to go up and down 3 or 4 times before getting the thing to stop. (NOTE TO SELF: THIS IS WHY TREADMILLS COME WITH ONE OF THOSE EMERGENCY STOP CLIPS).

HOW EMBARRASSING! I'm not really sure if anyone saw me because no one came over to push stop on my machine or came up to me to see if I was ok. I kept running for a mile but my knees were throbbing. I looked down and saw that they were all bloody:



Sigh. Lady Gaga and me and treadmills are not a good combination.

Decorate the Christmas Tree or Watch Tv in my nice warm bed?

When our handy man came to hook up the shut-off valve to the gas line for our stove, he also figured out a way to run cable up to our bedroom. Take that lazy cable man.

Thus, we have had a tv in our bedroom for approximately 6 days.

Saturday morning I woke up at 7 AM. Nate was still sleeping so I turned on the beast. 3 hour-long episodes of America's Next Top Model (cyle 1) later, I decided to actually get up for the day. Yikes - 3 hours wasted there!

Last night I crawled into bed a bit early and turned on my buddy, bourdain. I had the electric blanket on and was all cozy. The heat probably went to my brain because the next think I knew I was signing up for the Bourdain text message updates.

Meanwhile, our Christmas tree still needs to be decorated.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Countdowns

3 days until the final exam for the class I am teaching.

5 days until I take my cousin/goddaughter LM to The Nutcracker for her Christmas present.

6 days until the first family holiday celebration starts.

17 days until Christmas Eve!

24 days until we leave for FL.

26 days until we leave on the cruise!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The ol' switcheroo

Last week I went to turn on the guestroom light (home of my shoe closet) and nothing happened. Throughout our house we have these old light switches that do not really switch on/off but rather rock and roll towards on and off. The guest room light malfunction was all the motivation we needed to switch out all of the old school light switches for new ones. Gotta love a $6 upgrade. Considering a switch is like 54 cents, I'm not sure why we didn't do this earlier. Probably the same reason our kitchen remodeling project took us a year and a half.

AAAAAANNNNNNNNNDDDDDDD....we ordered our stove! It will be delivered on 12/18. We realized while purchasing the stove that it is our last appliance to buy for a while (knocking on wood that one does not break). We actually were a little sad about it. Then we gave each other a high five. The Home Depot guy likely thought we were crazy.

Tonight we will be grilling steaks, decorating the tannenbaum and catching the Amazing Race finale. Why do weekends have to end?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

12 days of Christmas


My mom and i were oogling over these plates from the Pottery Barn catalog. I love then, although they are not very practical for me because we go elsewhere for Christmas but we are still hoping that they go on clearance after the holidays.

Confession

Bad Romance and Paparazzi are now in my Itunes.

Please pray for my husband who i think is sick of my singing.

Cookie Extravaganza!

Another event that took place last weekend was our annual cookie making. Last year my mom, sister and I spent NINE HOURS making cookies and candies. This year, we invited my niece Toni to join in the fun. We did not expect to get as much accomplished with a 3 1/2 year old in the mix.

People, this 3 1/2 year old was a rock star. She cracked eggs (with one hand!), licked a lot of beaters and was in heaven with cookie cutters and sprinkles.

Seven hours later we had:

Fudge
Caramels
Peanut butter balls
Sugar Cookies (triple batch!)
Snowball cookies
Gingerbread men
Rock Candy
Chocolate Covered Peanuts
These pictures are a little dark because we used the self timer on my camera to take them but here is the group:



The only thing that we did not make from our list last year was the Hershey Kiss / Peanut butter cookies because we forgot to buy Hershey Kisses.

Last year, Nate & I made platters for our neighbors. We are going to do the same thing again this year, but want to make more of them to use them as an excuse to meet some of our other neighbors down the block.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I only have 29 days to get these done!

Can you believe it is DECEMBER?! This year went by in a flash. Nate asked me about my book-related new years resolution the other day and that got me thinking about my list.

Here are resolutions that I had that I did not and will not meet in the next 29 days:
1. Logging my running miles. Still running...still not logging.
2. Triathlon. I did buy and use a bike though and for that I am proud.
3. Send 52 letters/cards to family friends for non-birthday reasons. How fun does this sound? This is definitely going to be on the 2010 list.
4. Make the Stitch Skirt. Ahh! clothes! They still scare me but definitely going to return on my 2010 list.
5. Begin upstairs bathroom remodel. We are going to remodel the bathroom, but it is not going to be as extensive as we once had envisioned. Watch for it in 2010 - if i keep blogging.

Here are resolutions that I did meet!
1. Clean/Organize closets - woohoo! goodwill (and my family) got a lot of donations
2. Learn to knit - working on a ruffly scarf right now
3. Vacation - double points - we went to Cleveland & New Buffalo, MI and NYC & Philly
4. Replace all heat vent covers
5. Landscaping - we are building on this in 2010 with a landscape design courtesy of Hawks and my in-laws who won the package and gave it to us!
6. Move the piano - how fun is it to play Christmas carols on the piano? Even Toni, my 3 1/2 year old niece can play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (with some assistance from grandma).

Here are resolutions in which I have 29 days to finish:
1. Read 30 books. I have 28 done - only 2 more in 29 days to go!!! Definitely doable. 2009 was a GREAT literary year for me - I read some fabulous books.

White Teeth
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen
The Great Man: A Novel
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Anna Karenina
Revolutionary Road
Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life
North River: A Novel
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Possession: A Romance
The God of Small Things
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
The Book Thief
Commencement: A Novel
Farm City
The Girl who Played with Fire
The Likeness: A Novel
When Crickets Cry
The Wonder Spot
Case Histories: A Novel
People of the Book
The Help
Dead Until Dawn (Sookie Stackhouse #1)
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Snow Flower & the Secret Fan

2. Various cooking-related goals. I have to retry the lemon meringue pie before new years eve and try making ribs.

3. Finish the kitchen - see earlier post. This is getting DONE! We started 2009 with is unfinished project - we CANNOT start 2010 with it.

Maybe we won't have a TV in our bedroom..but we will have a gas stove by 2010!

You think it would be all too easy to buy a tv and get it into the bedroom. It is only 19" for crying out loud.

Sigh.

Yesterday I left work early to get home to meet the cable guy who was going to set up wireless internet so we can have Internet on our desktop and the MacBook at the same time. He was also going to run cable up to our bedroom so that we can hook up our new tv.

Wireless internet - check. No problem!

Tv - not so much. Apparently based on what he told us, he couldn't run cable up to our bedroom from the basement. He could run it along the outside of the house but we were not about to have that happen. Clark Griswold anyone?

I boxed up the tv with a long face and waited for Nate to come home.

All hope is not lost! Nate had some conversations at his work and also talked to the man who is at our house currently to set up a gas line for our stove (Yes - we STILL have not done that!). He said he would take a look at it and probably would not have an issue with it. So we may still get our bedroom TV after all!

Remember our kitchen list? Yeah, I haven't brought it up in many months because we hadn't made any progress. May 31 was actually the last time I blogged about our kitchen. Here was the list the last time you saw it:

Because I love crossing stuff off the list:

  1. Sand cabinents, wood putty any existing holes

  2. Prime cabinets

  3. Paint cabinets

  4. Change cabinet hardware

  5. Change countertops

  6. Install sink and garbage disposal

  7. Install subway tile backsplash

  8. Install new microwave

  9. Remove upper cabinets that divide kitchen & dining area

  10. Paint pantry doors and install new door hardware

  11. Build and install cookbook shelf

  12. New light fixtures

  13. Make and install roman shade in window

  14. Install gas shut off valve

  15. New range/oven



After today we will be able to cross off "install gas shut off valve" and maybe tonight or this weekend we will go purchase our new range/oven. Then our kitchen will be done. 1 1/2 years later. Holy crap. Time flies when you avoid home remodeling ha ha ha.

We have 29 days to get this kitchen done according to my new years resolutions home edition!

Hopefully in addition to the gas shut off valve and electric box we will also have cable in our bedroom when i get home tonight!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Black Friday

I hate black friday. With a passion.

However, I did venture out this Black Friday as I already mentioned for the TV. I have to say that at 8 AM Best Buy was fairly well organized. I was in and out within 15 minutes.

What I did NOT mention in my previous post is that I made one other big purchase that day - a new Mac Book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I took the teaching job, I had decided that I was going to use the extra income and get a crazy pair of shoes in NYC, which I did NOT end up buying. In the meantime, they offered me the same job in the spring semester, which I accepted thinking I could upgrade my laptop, which I have had since college. No shoes in NYC = Laptop Upgrade came sooner. WOOHOO!

I just realized that I now may never leave my bed. ha ha ha

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary Pa & Nana!!

Over the weekend we also celebrated my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. We started out the celebration with a Mass in which they received a special blessing. After Mass we had dinner and cocktails at a nearby supper club. My aunts & mom arranged to have the centerpieces with yellow roses, which were their wedding flowers. They still had their cake topper so a mini cake was made with that too! My sister and I enjoyed looking through their wedding album and we wished that hats and gloves were still the style.

Then it was picture time -
Here are my siblings with Nana & Pa and our Great Grandpa T.


My necklace was from Forever 21. However, I jazzed it up a bit with an old clip on earring that was in the box of jewelry my sister & I purchased from my great grandpa's auction back in September. I'm not sure if the earring belonged to my great grandmother or another family member but it is very sparkly and I like it. I had thought about changing the back so that it would be a brooch but the clip on earring back works well to clip onto necklaces and headbands, which I have also done.

Here is a family picture - My niece was very excited to wear loads of pink tulle


All in all the celebration was very nice. I hope that I am lucky to make it 50 years as well!

And the holidays ensue...

The past four days have been crazy fun.

We had our first Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws on Thanksgiving. I made Martha's cranberry sauce from the November 2009 issue of Living and a citrus fruit dish from Better Homes & Gardens. I recommend making the cranberry sauce (it's also delicious with brie) and pass on the citrus. As is custom, we went through all of the black friday ads after dinner. We also learned how to play hand and foot, which is a version of canasta. I love card games!

And now a confession.

I indignantly proclaimed that we would NEVER...I repeat NEVER...have a television in our bedroom. Nate didn't see what the big deal was but I said that we didn't need a television in our bedroom and that we would become lazy buffoons if we had one.

Ladies and Gentleman, I am ready to eat my words and become a lazy buffoon.

It started with me saying, "well, it might be sort of nice to have a tv in our room so that I could watch shows and not fall asleep on the couch". This happens a lot because i love laying down while watching tv and then I start dozing off. Finally, I said, "I think we should get a tv for the room". I think it was a joyous occassion in my husband's life.

As our Christmas present to each other, we bought a small television for our bedroom on a Best Buy Black Friday deal. I didn't wake up early, I didn't stand in line, I just went over to the Best Buy and figured if they still had them, then I would get it, and if not, we weren't destined to have one. I guess we were destined to have one. The cable company is coming tomorrow to hook it up.

Two years and 2 months into marriage, I'm throwing away all the magic for a 19" flat screen with a remote. ha ha ha.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Enchiladas Suiza

We made the Cempazuchi's Enchiladas Suiza for dinner last night. The recipe was featured in the MKE Journal a few weeks back. They are very yummy and good leftover the next day too (as I am eating my lunch right now).

Click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What can I say, I happen to be an aficionado of the dive bar.”

That's right - yet another blog post dedicated to Anthony Bourdain. I can't help it - I love the guy!

Last night was a lazy sort of night. We got in two episodes of No Reservations - one where he was touring around Chile and one where he has Zamir (from the Romania episode!) come to the USA and go with him to Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo. We knew we were in for a good episode when Zamir came on the screen! While in Baltimore, Bourdain met up with not one but two stars from The Wire, which he called, "the greatest show on television". Given that we just finished season 1 a couple of weeks ago and season 2 is almost here via the library, we loved that comment.

While in Buffalo, which we thought was very similar to MKE, we started strategizing how we could get Bourdain to come to Wisconsin. He could even stay in our guestroom, ha ha ha.

During commercial breaks, I finished Kitchen Confidential! I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was reading an episode of No Reservations - his personality is all over the book. Part of the book also took place in Les Halles, which of course we visited in NYC so that was fun to read and think back to my meal there (even though Bourdain isn't there anymore).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Now that was a lovely weekend

The weekend went by in a flash, although we didn't really do all that much, which was SO wonderful. I caught up on reading all of my magazines that were delivered post-vacation, we cooked, we cleaned. We had a surprise birthday party for a friend (she was surprised - yay!).

Yesterday was an amazingly nice late November day. I ran outside in shorts & a tshirt! I had just turned onto the bike path while running and heard this loud rustling behind me. I turned around and a deer was running straight at me while his 2 friends ran to the right of me! They paused and then kept running. A bike rider coming the opposite direction rode past and commented, "Well, now that was lovely". And it was.

I also started on these alphabet letters. I have about 6 of the 26 done. My assessment thus far is that these are really putzy and maybe not that cool. We'll see what the kiddos think. I'm planning on having Toni test them out on Friday. Why i decided to make these and not start on my long DIY Christmas list, I have no idea. Thanks to Nate-O who took over cutting when my hand refused to cut anymore letters out.

We also made Mark Bittman's Cassoulet from a recent issue of Runner's World. It was really really good and easy. Click here for the recipe. We used a combo of Italian sausage and bone-in pork chops for the meat.

We kinda sorta watched the AMA's as well. I have a soft spot in my heart for these awards as my sister (whose name begins with an A), my brother (whose name begins with a M) and I (also an A) used to VIDEO our own AMA awards. They are so awkward and so funny. This year's AMAs were ok. I have to publicly confess my love of Lady Gaga.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's not whatcha got, it's a-what you give

I have been very lucky to feel the generosity of people lately in a fun way. Example #1: Last weekend, my friend JC, used her $200 spa gift card that she won to treat the four of us to pedicures. I don't think i would have been that giving - i would have hoarded that thing for sure.

Example #2: Then last night I was lucky to get this fabric in the mail, which my friend AH won in a contest and decided to pass along to me:

It is from this fun etsy shop and is so incredibly soft!

Thank you ladies!

Thank you Tesla for the Title of this Post. ha ha ha. BLK that's for you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My latest love: Bvlgari Soap

It is hardly a secret that I love free samples. I have posted before about them and I maintain a daily email "free sample of the day" list. Given this, I LOVE going to hotels for all of the mini products. We were lucky to have gotten a motherload of Korres products at our first hotel in NYC:

Nate asked for more lotion because, "my wife has dry skin" and they UNLOADED stuff on us! The scent of basil lemon body milk is a constant reminder of NYC.

Our second hotel had L'Occitane and Lather products. Both of which were very nice but those maids were not as forthcoming with dropping some extras off. :)

Our hotel in Philly did not have the greatest products. However, our friend BCK was staying at The Ritz and that dollface got us extras of her Bvlgari products. SCORE!

We just opened the bar of Bvlgari soap the other day and since then we have been raving about the it, particularly it's nice scent. Our whole bathroom smells wonderful because of that soap. I went online to check out how much it would be to purchase: $15.99 for a 1.5 oz bar! Looks like I will be savoring that soap until it's gone and then hitting up more people that stay at the Ritz!

I've Come to Suck Your Blood


I will admit that I really loved the first Twilight book. Nate borrowed the next three books from one of his coworkers and I read the second one. I didn't think that one was as good and I was starting to not really like Bella, the main character. My cousin-in-law, CP, told me to not even bother with the other two, but I started on the third one. At that point, CP and I decided to go see the movie. My brother-in-law, DS, just happened to be at the movie with his friend so the four of us sat together. AND LAUGHED THROUGH THE WHOLE THING. At that point I felt like I was way too old to read the rest of the books and I just read the Wikipedia summaries as CP instructed me to do.

Since then, other friends have read the books - some of them agree with me and others thought the third and fourth books made up for the second one and loved all of them. I think everyone agreed that the movie was a bit of a disappointment.

CP, DS & I then spent the summer quoting twilight and laughing about it whenver we saw each other. Now we are planning to go see the New Moon movie next week. Nate never saw the movie nor read the books so he never really understood what we were laughing about until last night. We rented Twilight so he could catch up before seeing New Moon next week.

We were again cracking up through the movie and talking like vampires. Muah-ah-ah-ah-ah.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Baby we were Born to Run

Now that the vacation recaps are over, I'll get back to "real life". A fun-filled weekend kept me from being too depressed that vacation was over. We headed to Madison - Nate hung out with his brother and went to the Badger game while I had celebrated SU's birthday with SU, LP & JC. We had dinner at Brasserie V followed by drinks at the Old Fashioned. The next morning we had a fantastic brunch at Sardine followed by pedicures. My toes are now smokin' in havana.

We watched The Proposal - pretty standard romantic comedy, but I enjoyed it. Or maybe I just enjoyed being a beached whale on the couch, ha ha ha.

We had brunch at Copper Dock to celebrate my grandmother-in-law's, cousin-in-law's and father-in-law's birthdays. We finished our yard work for the year and I ended my weekend with the best Bruce Springsteen concert that I have been to. Not a bad weekend at all.

That said, I am looking forward to a quiet week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Philadelphia Freedom

Friday afternoon, we arrived via Amtrak to Philadelphia. We spent a majority of the weekend touring the sights - The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, University of Pennslyvania, The Art Museum, and The Rodin Museum. We had some excellent culinary adventures in Philly with a variety of people.




Friday afternoon we snacked at the Reading Terminal. That evening, we joined my boss and his wife at Seafood Unlimited which was very good. After that we headed to the Rum Bar. Saturday we met up with PS and JP for Brunch at Jones. Brunch turned into a few beers at Nodding Head Brewery, which turned into some more cocktails at The Plough and The Stars which turned into dinner at Continental. It was fun hanging out with them all day.

Sunday we met Old MD Girl and her husband for bunch at White Dog Cafe. It was also very delicious and fun. Sunday evening we met up with my colleague and friend, BCK, for dinner at the Black Sheep Pub, cocktails at Rum Bar and the Continetnal.

Monday it was time for work, attending a conference. Monday night we and a bunch of my collegues ate at Cuba Libre, which was also great. Tuesday I met up with AB and her daughter AB for some coffee. I had fun playing with Katie and Mary AB's dolls :) We had lunch at Morimoto that day, which Nate was really excited about since he is a fan of Iron Chef. The food was really yummy.

Tuesday night, BCK and her mom joined us and we headed to Pat's for Cheesesteaks and to Franklin Fountain for Ice Cream. Wednesday morning I gave my presentation and we were off to the airport, our luggage a little heavier than it was when we left MKE. I think we might have been a few pounds heavier too thanks to Philly :)

Let's Here it For New York, New York, New York

This will be my last post recapping NYC.

I skipped talking about Otto and Stage Deli on my Wednesday recap. We had lunch at Mario Batali's Otto on Wednesday and because we were SO FULL from that meal, we had a cheesecake and new pickles from Stage Deli for dinner after Mary Poppins. Highly reccomend both places!

Days 6 & 7: Thursday & Friday

Thursday was the day that Nate was canonized as a saint. He took me shopping for the ENTIRE DAY! Well not entirely, but pretty close. We started the day off with a ride on the (free) Staten Island Ferry.

We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the ferry.

We did not stay on Staten Island though.

We came back and took the subway to SoHo. I was in heaven. There is AMAZING shopping in SoHo. I really wanted this cute pair of flats at the Emmett McCarthy EMC2 shop (former Project Runway contestant) but wouldn't you know it - they didn't have my size. :( I found another cute pair at Tory Burch. Again, none in my size. Oh well. We took a small break to eat at Katz's Deli, the deli that was featured in When Harry Met Sally (love that movie).


NYC Deli Pickles are AMAZING!

After Katz's we headed back to SoHO for more shopping. There was this great second hand store that I loved and spent over an hour in. I seriously could not believe what people decided to get rid of! Luckily, they were filming a Law & Order Criminal Intent right outside so Nate didn't get too bored!

We had another small meal at Balthazar. It was also fantastic.

Then it was back to 5th Avenue. I went into Bottega Veneta and the salesman was so amazing. He kept pulling out all of these secret drawers and showing me these amazing shoes. Then we went upstairs to preview the Spring Collection in case I wanted to order anything. Um, yeah right. If I were a zillionnaire I would have taken everything in that store!

We headed to Sushiagogo for dinner and on our way to one last trip to Magnolia Bakery (the Upper West Side one again) we walked through a filming for Wall Street 2. On our way back from the bakery, we went through the set again and they were using a rain machine. It was CRAZY.

Friday morning, I headed out for a run through Central Park. It was rather short though because I had some SORE legs from the amount of walking we did. Right when the ticker tape parade began for the Yankees, we were boarding a train to head towards Philadelphia.

Overall, NYC was amazing. I loved every minute of it and am probably suffering from some post-vacation depression. The title of this post is from the Jay-Z & Alicia Keys Empire State of Mind, which was all over the place the day we left. I guess they even performed it at the end of the parade. Awesome.