Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Review

Year in Review lists stress me out. I always think, "how do they remember everything that happened this year?" Then I realize they were probably making lists throughout the year to keep track. Not me. I have a weird relationship with time. If you gave me a list of things that happened in the last three years and asked me to say which things happened in 2013, I'd probably get like 65-75% right.

But luckily, I have a smart phone that has 1,523 pictures stored on  it, many of which are from this year. So I looked back to get an idea of what I should highlight from this year. Not everything is pictured. Like, why don't I have any pictures saved from the Bon Jovi concert I went to? Or that time I swam with sharks? Or the time I was Justin Bieber's date to the Grammys? (One of those is true.)

But as I mentioned, I did preserve many memories in my phone from this year, and it was fun to scroll through and remember some of the highlights. Here is a little collage I made of them:

From left to right:

Row One: I went to a Monster Truck Rally with Sarah and Sara! I'm going to be honest: I wouldn't go again. Not nearly enough destruction. Waaaayyy too much setting up and taking down.
Another adventure with Sarah and Sara: I went to my first Red Wings game! Very fun.
Grandma turned 93!
I baked a lot this year.

Row Two: I spent as much time as possible with my nieces and nephews. They make me happy beyond measure.
I went to a special screening of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the actors who played Mike Teevee and Charlie Bucket were present! They told insider secrets about the filming and signed autographs.
I was the girls camp director in my ward. We had a cake auction to earn money for camp. Camp itself is not pictured, but was such a fun time. I loved every minute of it!
I went to Colorado with some friends for a midnight bike ride - such a fun adventure!! I did two other fun bike tours this year in Detroit. They were also very fun, especially the tour de troit.

Row Three: I spent as much time as I could in Ludington, my favorite place.
I was the googly eyed bandit.
I went to some Tigers games!
My friend Christi came to visit!

Row Four: My bestie, Erin, got married! Love her.
I did the great turtle run on Mackinac Island with my sisters. My parents came too and we had a great time.
I bought my first Kitchenaid Mixer and it was love at first sight. The honeymoon time is over now but I'm just as in love now as I was when I first bought it.
I got to visit with one of my mission companions! It was like no time had passed. Such a wonderful reunion!

And there you have it - a brief year in review.

And now I'm slightly stressed out just in case I missed something important. Something I did with you. There are lots of things that happened this year that can't be pictured. New friendships made, and old friendships nurtured. I created a lot - food and crafts. I listened to a lot of public radio and a lot of music. Thanks to social media and the convenience of texting, I stayed in touch with friends across the globe with ease. I watched Netflix and went out to movies. I wrote blog posts and read blog posts. I grew closer with my family. I went through some very difficult times that make me glad in some ways to start over with a new year. But many good things happened, so I am grateful for 2013. Good times and bad.

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

Merry Christmas! I hope Santa gave you everything you wanted!

I couldn't sleep last night, anticipating the foot steps of Santa and his reindeer on the roof, so I laid in bed and made a few emoji quizzes on my phone for my sister, Katherine. They are all Christmas movies. I'm not saying they're perfect, but I was working with a limited number of emojis so cut me some slack. They would be a lot easier to figure out if you were inside my brain, but I have faith in you!


Any guesses?

Merry Christmas and happy Wednesday!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014: Predictions

1. A new food will be marketed: potato chips dipped in chocolate and wrapped in bacon then dipped in maple syrup.

Prediction 1.5: I will buy it.

2. Miley Cyrus will just be naked all the time.

3. I will buy a  new down comforter (this is more of a to-do item than a prediction but if I don't write it down, I'll forget).

4. J. K. Rowling will announce a new Harry Potter book. She had promised she would never do it, but the fan pressure was just too much for her. They (we) were so relentless, she caved. She is now our literary slave. We demand more Harry Potter and we won't back down until we get more, more, MORE!

5. At least one of the Duck Dynasty guys will go into politics.

6. The Olympics will preempt all my favorite tv shows.

7. US Olympic fans will be shocked to see the new US bobsled team: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, the gymnast girl with the smirk, and Apolo Anton Ohno. They will win the event even though Ryan Lochte will fall out of the sled during the race. Putin will not be pleased.

8. The Royal Baby's name will officially be changed to "The Royal Baby."

9. Robin Thicke will release a new song at the start of summer called "Really blurred lines." The song will actually be about the time a migraine caused him to lose some of his vision. But somehow it will still be incredibly raunchy (and a real toe tapper).

10. Instagram will create a new photo filter called "x-ray" which will actually help in diagnosing health problems such as tumors, swallowed forks, and ghostly possessions. This filter will become even more popular than Nashville or Walden. (It will not be covered under Obamacare.)

What are some of your predictions for 2014?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

Christmas is in ONE WEEK! Which is why I'm getting to Wednesday thoughts so late today. I am, like many of you, busy, busy, busy. Mostly with fun stuff though, so it feels wrong to complain. I mean, how can a person complain that they have been making too many cookies, or spent an evening Christmas caroling with people they love, or that they have been visiting with too many friends and family members? One can't, really.

But I am too tired to give you a good post tonight. Here are my random thoughts as I sit here, glassy eyed, thinking about my cozy bed waiting for me:

* Work should start later in the winter. Beds are 75-100% cozier in the winter. It's a scientific fact.

* My car might not be clean again until spring. Every time I'm about to wash it, it snows again. It's covered in slush!

* That last thought was super boring, so here's a better one: I looked for mistletoe at the store today but couldn't find any. I've never tricked anyone into kissing me under the mistletoe before, and it's partly because I can never find mistletoe! Is it a legend, like elves? Or is it real, like Santa? Where can I get some?

* I still haven't wrapped my presents.

* My secret Santa got me some pickle flavored lip balm. But I think pickle flavored lip balm and mistletoe cancel each other out.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ding, Fries Are Done

Last full week of work before Christmas week! Woohoo!

I have been doing lots of things to get in the Christmas spirit. I sort of have a Christmas checklist. It's malleable and I'm always open to adding more traditions. Here is a sampling of what I have done so far!

Over the weekend I made homemade marshmallows for the first time. This is something I've wanted to try for a long time. I ended up sharing and eating so many of them, I made a second batch right away!

Put them in hot chocolate, and you will never be sad again. Until you run out. Then you'll be sad. But you can make more so it's temporary.

Here is the recipe! 

I've also been making countless Christmas cookies. I love making and giving away (while taste testing, of course) cookies for the holidays!

You know that Christmas song, "It's the most wonderful time of the year"? Well, it has that line: 

There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

This year I decided to take that to heart and I got together with my scary-movie-buddy to watch one. We watched the movie "Mama" which came out earlier this year. The premise of the movie is that at the very beginning, a man kills his wife then takes his two young daughters to a remote cabin to kill them too (no idea why). He gets stopped from killing them though by an unseen force (a ghost) who then raises the girls for 5 years. Her name? Mama. And she's a ghost. When the girls are found and given to their uncle and his girlfriend, Mama comes too. And she doesn't want anyone else to raise the girls except her.

Sounds like a good, spooky premise right? Well, it was disappointing. It started out scary but got more and more dumb as it went.

But still, I did see a "scary ghost story," so I can check that off.

Other than that one scary movie, I have watched a lot of traditional Christmas movies too, such as: Elf, The Grinch (Jim Carrey version), Mickey's Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas Vacation, and others.

I have finished my Christmas shopping. Jealous? I'm pretty impressed with myself. In fact, I've been done for about a week. This is a record for me I think!

Things I still have to do:

Wrap presents! Rebecca from the blog "Older and Wisor" is the best wrapper around! Almost as good as Eminem. Check out her blog for creative ways to gift wrap! Here's my favorite example of her wrapping skillz:

Watch the serious Christmas movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol," (the George C. Scott version - my favorite). I love "A Christmas Carol" but "It's a Wonderful Life" feels more like an assignment. I have to watch it every Christmas but it's hard. Especially when Uncle  Billy loses the money and George Bailey yells at him - my heart can't handle that part. It's aching just thinking about it. I do like the movie, it's just hard to watch at times. I don't want to talk about the part when the pharmacist slaps George because of the sad phone call he receives. Or the alternate reality where the pharmacist gets kicked out of Martini's and everyone laughs at him. Uuuuuggghhhh. So sad!

What do you still have to do? What are some things you HAVE to do every year or it doesn't feel like Christmas?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Winter Thoughts

I haven't yet felt the romance the start of winter usually brings for me. Usually at the start of winter, I savor the feeling and sound of my boots crunching on the snow. I soak in the stillness and the smell that comes with colder weather and snow. I imagine winter evenings sipping hot cocoa in front of a fireplace, watching an old movie under a warm blanket. In my winter imaginings it's always "hot cocoa" and never "hot chocolate." I don't know why but I'm pretty sure hot cocoa is more romantic.

It's so much quieter in the winter and I love that. I walk down the street with my scarf pulled up over my mouth and part of my nose, and I think about stories I've read that paint nostalgic winter scenes. Like "The Dead" by James Joyce, which takes place in the winter and has such rich imagery, that it always comes to mind when my feet are crunching through the snow.

But though that story has come to mind for me several times already this winter, I haven't felt it. I haven't felt the feelings it usually evokes in me. I've been too busy to even pay much attention to the advent of winter. So far the only times I've noticed it is when it's been a nuisance, like when I was trying to get the youth to line up for and ride on the float in the Christmas parade over the weekend and they all complained about how cold they were most of the time. Or that night, when I was lying in bed trying to sleep but unable to because my lungs ached so much from breathing in the frigid air for hours earlier. Or when I was driving into work this morning and found my tires slipping on the icy roads. Or when it's completely dark at 5:00pm.

And already the winter competitiveness has started on Facebook. Posts like:

Person one: So cold on my walk to the bus this morning! It's only 20 degrees out! #brrrrr
Person two: It's only 8 degrees here - we WISH it were 20 degrees! #heatwave
Me (thinking): shut up.


Person one: So much snow today! Rough ride home from work! #10inchesofsnow
Person two: We had a foot and a half here! We couldn't leave the house! 10 inches sounds great!
Person three: Try living in (cold/arctic state)! We get 10 inches of snow every second of every day!
Me (thinking): shut up. #pleaseshutup

Facebook has turned people into perpetual one uppers and extreme weather brings them out more than anything.

Last night I met up with some of my oldest and dearest friends for a pre-holiday dinner. The restaurant was cozy and crowded. The staff had decorated it for Christmas adding to the overall feel of being in a special Christmas episode of Cheers (the tv show), with the snow billowing outside.

I started feeling a little of the winter warmth I hadn't felt yet.

On the way home, my friend told me that she's been trying to have a positive attitude about winter, and that it's working. I mentioned a poem that comes to mind for me in December:

I Heard a Bird Sing
by Oliver Herford

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

It's always a comfort when you just can't muster any romantic feelings for winter to remember spring.

Happy wintry Wednesday!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mystery Machine

Last night I encountered a real mystery on Facebook. A friend posted a really strange status that I just had to get to the bottom of .....You know what? I just wrote a whole paragraph explaining what happened then deleted it because it's simply too convoluted and had a very anticlimactic ending. I don't want to put you through the emotional roller coaster I went through (though admittedly it was a kids coaster).

But suffice it to say, I was able to get to the bottom of it with the help of a friend who turned out to be an amazing sleuth. It got me thinking: Who would be my dream mystery team? If I had mysteries to solve on a regular basis, who would I want to solve them with?

If you could choose 5 people to be on your dream mystery team, who would they be?

After giving it a lot of thought, here's who I decided on:

Jessica Fletcher: This one is a no brainer. Jessica is the wisest woman ever to walk to face of the earth. Plus she makes amazing Maine specialty dishes. I feel like that could come in handy somehow. Not to mention that she knows someone in every town and city in the world. A classy lady with a ton of friends and a brilliant mind is my top pick for a mystery dream team.

Velma Dace Dinkley (yes that's her full name): I almost didn't include Velma on this list because she's constantly losing her glasses, but then it came to me: laser eye surgery!

Shawn Spencer: I realize Shawn isn't a real psychic, but he's incredibly observant. Plus, he's really funny.  And with his knowledge of pop culture, he's a MUST on this team. Oh, and his sleuthing skills of course.

Ms. Marple: No one knows human nature better than Ms. Marple. She notices everything, down to the little glances people give each other. Nothing gets past her. It's almost creepy now that I think about it.

Hercule Poirot:  Though condescending and French, I have to have him on my team. Yes it will be annoying when he throws around French phrases that most people won't understand, but in the end, he'll figure out whodunnit. (UPDATE: I've been reminded that he's Belgian, not French. But I'm leaving that part in there because he seems French and speaks French. Close enough.)

There are several people who almost made me list, but got cut for various reasons:

Burton Guster: I love Gus, so it was hard for me to leave him off the list, but though he's a fun side kick for Shawn, most of the time he doesn't do much mystery solving himself.

The rest of the Scooby Doo gang: I feel like Fred's ascot would be distracting. He is very handsome though, for a cartoon, so it was tempting to add him just for that. Scooby Doo doesn't do much at all and neither does Shaggy. I do love those two, but in a pinch, I'd rather they stayed home. Plus, we'd be spending all our money on Scooby Snacks just to get them to do the most basic of things. Daphne would just get caught in a trap and we'd spend all our time rescuing her.

Ok, now it's your turn. Who are they five you would choose for mystery dream team?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

This week one of my coworkers told me that she got engaged over Thanksgiving weekend. I'm not the kind of woman who asks to see the engagement ring - I've never cared about that. I look just because I know it's what's expected of me but I couldn't care less. It's a ring. Big deal.

But this time I felt compelled to look. It turns out her engagement ring is made partially from a METEORITE. Now that is a pretty cool ring. Plus, you don't have to worry about "blood" being attached to it, unlike blood diamonds or blood gold. I mean, unless the meteorite crashed into someone. I'll let you make the morality call on that one.

Ok, but here's the other thing - I looked into this whole meteorite ring and know what I found? They make wedding rings out of DINOSAUR bone too. Once again, a blood free way to get engaged. (I mean, except dinosaur blood which I'm actually fine with.) Oh, and the pièce de résistance:


Only the following people would own that ring: Lex Luther, Bruce Wayne, and the man I marry.

In other Wednesday Thoughts, does every day between Black Friday and Christmas have some kind of buying title assigned to it? Just when I thought we were done with the whole thing on "Cyber" Monday, I hear on the radio yesterday that it was "Giving Tuesday" - what!? I mean, I'm all for giving but when will the assigned days stop? What's today? I need a schedule:

Black Friday
Buyers remorse Saturday
Enjoy my new stuff Sunday
Cyber Monday
Giving Tuesday
Broke Wednesday
Make it stop Thursday

Lastly, in Wednesday Thoughts, I have been blowing through my favorite Christmas movies already. So far I've seen Elf, Christmas Vacation, The Grinch (Jim Carrey version), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and a Hallmark movie staring DJ Tanner. I need to pace myself! Pretty soon I'll only be left with the serious ones, like A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version) and It's a Wonderful Life. Thankfully I haven't watched A Christmas Story yet - I still have that to look forward to.

If you have any other Christmas movie recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Song Oh-No-No's

Now that we're officially in the Christmas season, I've been listening to more Christmas music while I'm in the car. I tend to like most Christmas music, but there are about a handful of Christmas songs I would put on my "oh-no-no" list, a la Tom Haverford.

Here's the working list so far:

1. Anything by Trans Siberian Orchestra (edited)

Their music sounds like the soundtrack to Krampus, the anti-Santa who punishes bad children at Christmas. It's the warning music when a Christmas monster is coming and you're running and running but he's gaining on you!!!!

2. Santa Baby

How is anyone comfortable with this song? It's just twisted. It makes me uncomfortable. Don't talk to Santa like that. It's not appropriate. Unless you're Mrs. Claus. (Which I don't think you are.)

3. I want a hippopotamus for Christmas

That voice. That voice!! For years this was my nephew's favorite Christmas song. For that reason alone, I try to cut it some slack. But if it wasn't for that, it would at the top of my oh-no-no list.

4. Feliz Navidad 

Try, just try to get this song out of your head after hearing even just a verse of it. It's not going to happen.

5. I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus

This is similar to #2. It's just weird. The kid is freaking out because his mom is cheating on his dad with Santa Claus. This is going to lead to a difficult conversation the next day no matter how you look at it.

6. Grandma got run over by a reindeer

Ok, first of all, the whole premise of this song is weird. This guy's grandma was drunk and she was killed by Santa's reindeer who ran her over. But basically Christmas for their family just went on as usual. I feel like they didn't care much about their grandma. And grandpa just totally moved on. This song is about a truly heartless family. And I feel like they might be alcoholics.

Side note: I always forget that reindeer are real. Santa's not though... right?

7. Christmas shoes

This song is about a kid who wants to buy his mom some shoes for Christmas because she's probably going to die really really soon and "he wants her to look beautiful in case she meets Jesus tonight." The kid can't afford the shoes so the lead singer of the band (who happens to be buying some gloves behind him in line at the store) spots him the cash. If you think you like this song, please go watch the official music video of it then get back to me. It's so bad it hurts.

I know what you're thinking at this point - how did the Chipmunks Christmas Song not make this list? Um, because it's an amazing song, and I better not hear you besmirch the Chipmunks' name again. That song is a national treasure.

What is the Christmas song you just can't listen to?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

May I see your jello list?

Mormons love jello. This is a scientific fact. Why Mormons love jello is one of life's great mysteries. Maybe because it's so delicious? I'm not sure. I've only really come around to jello in the past year. In fact, I used to find it difficult to make. That's embarrassing to admit considering the recipe is one packet of jello mixed with water of varying temperatures.

My mom, however, is a full-on jello connoisseur, even though she's a convert to Mormonism. She'll say things like, "I'm making cheesy potato and ham casserole for dinner so I think I'll make orange jello. It pairs well with cheesy potato casserole."

A couple weeks ago, I was making pork chops and decided to make some jello. I looked in the cupboard and thought, "hmmm, I think peach jello would pair well with pork chops." I've crossed over.

I guess jello is the Mormon substitution for wine? Next time I go to a fancy restaurant I'll ask to see the jello list and see what happens.

In case you're wondering which jellos would pair well which which dish, I thought I'd make a little list for you. You really don't want to have the wrong jello with the wrong dish. It would be a major social faux pas.

I don't know about you, but if a man made me a layered jello, I would fall head over heels. I think I'll pass on any jello with vegetables though. That's for the more refined palette.

What's your favorite jello?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Updates

I hope you all stuffed yourselves with turkey yesterday! I have been enjoying my time off from work and my time with family. Here are some highlights of my weekend so far!

* I found out my 9 year old niece LOVES Full House. She was exposed to it while on vacation recently and talks about it all the time. I couldn't be more proud.

* We had a sleepover with my little nieces and nephew so their parents could do the Black Friday sales this morning. I used to do the Black Friday sales but the last few years I decided it wasn't worth the hassle. I love laying in my warm bed, knowing I'm not hating my fellow men for pushing past me to get to the $3 DVDs. And this morning I got to wake up to this adorable sight:

* We showed the movie "Nacho Libre" to the kids last night and they giggled nonstop (so did I). In fact, my nephew was giggling in his sleep last night. He doesn't remember why, but I assumed it had something to do with Nacho.

* I broke my rule about optical illusions, which I usually hate, and made one with the kids:

So messed up.

* When the kids got up, I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. What's better than pancakes with a big glass of cold milk? The best part is I got a text from my sister this afternoon telling my about a conversation she had with my nephew after she picked him up:

Nephew: Did you know I'm wearing the pants with the hole in them?
Sister: No, we should throw those away.
Nephew: No way! These are my lucky pants!
Sister: How are they lucky?
Nephew: Hellllooooo! I got chocolate chip pancakes this morning!

* I did some Christmas crafting. I made a wreath, a light display, and a candy dish. I loooove Christmas! Also, I discovered that Vanna White is in the yarn biz. Turning letters for a living just doesn't pay what it used to I guess.

* I watched one of my very favorite Christmas movies, "Christmas Vacation." My favorite line is when Clark is trying to get the lights to work at the beginning of the movie, and his dad says, "If you need any help, give me a holler. I'll be upstairs asleep." I quote that all the time when I offer to help but don't really mean it.

Best scene

* I saw Catching Fire again! It was just as tense/good/sad/excellent/suspenseful/wonderful the second time. And this time I snuck in a turkey sandwich so it was even *that* much better.

What are some Christmas movies you bust out after Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

I shouldn't save Wednesday Thoughts till the evening. By the end of the day my thoughts basically consist of, "....." This is how it seems to work for me:

Morning: A million thoughts
Early afternoon: Brain starts to deaden.
Late afternoon/early evening: Burst of energy/thousands of thoughts
Night time: 3-4 thoughts
Laying in bed trying to sleep: Ten million thoughts

I'm in the 3-4 thoughts area right now.  Here they are!

Today after work, I got together with the youth from church and worked on the float for the local Christmas parade. It was cooooold but still super fun. We played the Charlie Brown Christmas movie soundtrack and got to work!

It's going to look so great when everything is up - it's the tree lot from the Charlie Brown movie.

After that I went to the doctor for a follow up visit. The form there for me had some information that seemed a little harsh:

Seems to me that that "never" is a little mean. How about "not yet married" or "still looking for Mr. Right" or "married to the Lord"?

This evening I went out to dinner with my family, then the baking began. I've made cupcakes, graham cracker houses, jello jigglers, sweet potatoes, and maybe other stuff. I'm not even sure at this point. I've been a whirling dervish in the kitchen.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Mine is a tie between Oreo Delight (a special dish my mom makes for holidays), mashed potatoes, turkey, pistachio pudding, stuffing, corn, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole.

I'm sorry for this boring post, guys. You caught me in my 3-4 thought range.

Happy Wednesday and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Conversation Guide

For many people, spending time with family for the holidays is stressful. Getting everyone together can be an emotional time bomb that usually explodes all over the pumpkin pie. Luckily, I have a great time with my family and generally don't want to stomp on any of their toes in a fit of rage, but I know not all of you feel the same way about your own families during the holidays. So I thought I'd help out today by making a conversation guide to help you get out of sticky conversations.

If you follow this guide, you just might be able to get through Thanksgiving without binge-eating a second turkey. Results not guaranteed.

Unwanted question: So, are you dating anyone?
Response: You know who I would love to date? Ryan Gosling - the guy has it all! Is he married?

Unwanted question: Are you pregnant?
Response: Yes, it's triplets. I'm kidding, I just gained weight. I was hoping someone would notice.

Unwanted question: I heard you got arrested this year!
Response: The good news is I'm not allowed to leave the state for the next year. It's a great opportunity to explore this beautiful place! Ever been to the U.P.?

Unwanted question: I know a wonderful single man I want to set you up with.
Response: I'm legally not allowed to be set up. It's part of my probation.

And if you want to completely avoid letting them ask you a personal question, you can control the conversation yourself. Here are some great talking points that are sure to get people thinking about things other than your personal life (warning, some of these will make you sound like a lunatic but the upside is you won't have to answer personal questions):

I heard poisonous snakes are moving their way north from Florida because of global warming. We probably don't need to worry about it for a few more years though. I hope.

So, universal health care? More like communist China, am I right? (this one should buy you a lot of time to sit back and enjoy your mashed potatoes.)

I wonder what the baby of a dog and a fish would look like. 

Would you rather have ten fingers on each hand or have three elbows on each arm?

Sarah Palin. 

I only eat pumpkin pie made from pumpkins that died of natural causes. How about you? Are you ok with eating murdered pumpkins?

 Did you know this house is rumored to be built on an Indian burial ground? Anyone ever seen anything spooky here?

I heard there's an escaped convict nearby so I should probably head home before dark.

Before anyone in my family reads these and gets offended, I want to reiterate, I won't be needing any of these. But I am here for you guys and want to help in any way I can to make your holidays more joyous and less stressful. So if you are anxious about all that family time, print these talking points off and let them be your guide to a stress-free holiday.

Also, I wasn't kidding about the snakes migrating north because of global warming. It's messed up.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I realized this morning that Thanksgiving is this week (yay!) and I haven't given much thought to what I'm grateful for. I've given it a little thought. But then I just moved on with my life and never looked back at that little bit of gratitude. So I thought today I would make a list of things I am grateful for.

These are in no particular order - just listed as they came to mind.

  1. My family - I have so much fun with my family and love them times ten.
  2. My church - the other largest source of happiness in my life.
  3. My friends - besides family and religion, nothing makes me happier than my friends. And I've been so blessed with wonderful friends!

...Ok, here's where I make a difficult decision. Do I stay serious and list things like "freedom, shelter, employment, food, and safety"? Or do I go on to other less important things like "tv, books, my bike, vacations, my Kitchenaid mixer, Full House, and days off of work"?

This is why I don't make gratitude lists! It seems inappropropriate to list the frivolous with the serious. I can't decide on the order! PLUS, what if I list "tv" before "employment"? Or "crafts" before "freedom"? Even though I said things where in no particular order, it just doesn't look good! And people judge! Oh boy do they judge!

Here's what I'll do. I'll go to one of those "word cloud" websites and just type in a list of things I'm grateful for. Then I'll let the word cloud decide which of those things to emphasize. That way the pressure is off me. 

You might notice what made the headline of that word cloud - totally not my fault. I mean.... we all know that I'm not more grateful for Full House than more important things. PLUS, this particular website picks and chooses which words you listed to put in the word cloud. Like, Michigan didn't even make the cloud even though it was on my list. I'll try again:

These things just do their own thing. There's no controlling them. Obviously I love my own family more than Full House.

So from my family to yours, I hope you are filled with the spirit of gratitude this week!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

Tonight I thought I'd tell you a little about my day. It wasn't a particularly interesting day at all - it was just a normal day. But I don't know, maybe you're just bored enough to enjoy it?

This morning:

I really couldn't get out of bed this morning. It was so warm in my bed. So, so warm and cozy. When I finally got out and started walking across my bedroom, I was overcome with a shiver from the cold air and I bit down on my tongue. Hard. But I survived to tell the tale.

I got ready quickly and when I got out to my car, I saw that I was going to have to scrape my windows. I need a new scraper. Or a garage.


I worked from about 8:30-4:30. While at work, I listened to some podcasts, ate a lot of pomegranate seeds, and had the same soup for lunch that I've had every day this week. I also finally remembered to take down the Twilight picture a coworker had put on the side of my overhead bin at work, and which I only discovered yesterday after it had been up for weeks.

I thought about how Adam Levine was named "Sexiest Man Alive" (like anyone could even know that) by People magazine. I read a tweet that I think sums up this decision:

On the outside!! I laughed out loud, for real.

I also worked, of course. Oh, and I listened to "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" by Celine Dion on repeat.

I read an article about how Angela Lansbury isn't thrilled about the Murder, She Wrote remake. If you know me at all, you know I have passionate feelings about Murder, She Wrote. I'm with Angela on this. I mean, that show was perfect as it was. Why re-do it? I can't talk about it anymore, I'm getting all worked up.

After work:

I had to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work. My shopping list was as follows: pomegranates (I just can't get enough), tissues, Mio water flavoring, rice, and eggs. While walking through the grocery store parking lot, I saw this bumper sticker, which I loved.

Stuff I bought that wasn't on my list: Pringles and two cans of Cheeseburger Spaghettios for a friend whose favorite food is Spaghettios. Gross.


I went to a youth activity at the church. I work with the 12-13 year old girls and tonight we had a game night planned. We started with Cranium, after which we played Taboo. We ate Pringles, popcorn, and potato chips. The Pringles were "loaded potato" flavored. They were disgusting.

After those games, one of the girls suggested we play Truth or Dare. I got picked on first and was forced to reveal information about my first kiss. Things almost fell apart a couple turns later when it was revealed that two of the girls have a crush on the same boy. I don't even want to talk about the dare portion of the game. Let's just say, as a leader I was starting to get nervous. Thankfully the game was short-lived.

Later, while I was washing dishes in the kitchen of the church, two of the older girls came in to help me and to chat. One of them told me I really need to work on finding someone to date.

I can't catch a break.


I baked a cake for a dinner tomorrow:

Pretty interesting day, huh? (She asked, sarcastically.) I can't complain though. Most days are like this - get out of bed, work, run errands, make food, eat, exercise, watch tv, bathe, clean, do laundry. It could be much, much worse.

Over all, I'd say today was a good day.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hep Alien

Warning! This post contains:
*embarrassing facts about my music taste
*80's glam rock pictures/references
* lengthy discussion of the band "Skid Row" and more importantly,
*a brief history of Sebastian Bach

On my way home from work yesterday, I heard the Skid Row song, "18 and Life" on the radio. I hear this song on the radio a lot considering it came out a million years ago (20?). And of course, I always rock out to it when it's on. I can't decide which Skid Row song is better to rock out to - that one or "Youth Gone Wild" or maybe even "Monkey Business"?

Weigh in, if you have an opinion (and if your opinion is that Skid Row sucks, then amscray). You may have to listen to all three before you can decide. I'll give you a minute. 18 and Life, amiright?

Anyway, as I was turning the volume up and rocking out, I was thinking about the lead singer of Skid Row, Sebastian Bach, and how I thought he was so hot back in the day. So I texted my friend Jesse about it. Not because Jesse would agree (he's a heterosexual man), but because he's my go-to friend for rock music references.

I googled a picture of a young Sebastian Bach for reference and had a serious "What in the...." moment. He looked like a girl!!! I had forgotten about that "glam metal" look of the time!

So many feelings

Here are a couple of the textversations yesterday (and one this morning) I had with Jesse about it.

What Jesse doesn't realize is that I am nowhere near done sending him pictures of Sebastian Bach. (I never said it was easy being my friend.)

I think the reason I forgot what Sebastian Bach used to look like is because the last time I saw him was when he was in Lane Kim's band, Hep Alien, on Gilmore Girls.

Much more manly. (Side note: I miss Gilmore Girls. And I'm still not ok with any of the guys Rory dated. Except maybe Jess.)

Have any of you ever looked back on your early crushes and thought "what was I thinking..."!?

Monday, November 18, 2013


Today marks the start of the LLW - Last Lame Week of the year! By which I mean, it's the last normal week, by Elizabeth standards. Next week is Thanksgiving week, and after that marks the start of Christmas Season!! I am super excited. Time off of work, Christmas parties, Christmas cookies, family time, movies, and so much more.

I can't guarantee that you won't have lame days between next week and the end of the year. But at least there are fun things to look forward to, right? I mean, unless there aren't. In which case, I'm sorry. But maybe these happy corgis will cheer you up?

These corgis accurately represent how I feel about the upcoming season!



LLW for the win!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Opening Day

This morning on my way to work, I drove past a pumpkin patch. In that pumpkin patch was a deer, just
looking around, trying to find the perfect pumpkin for breakfast. It was a majestic site, but my first thought was, "watch it, deer." Why? Because today is the opening day of (regular firearm) hunting season in Michigan.

Why do I know this? Because in Michigan Opening Day is a big deal. In fact, when I was growing up, we didn't even have school the first day of hunting season. No one in my immediate family hunts, and it's not something I'm interested in (though I'm not opposed to it - the deer population in Michigan is seriously huge. I see them out and about nearly every day as I'm driving around town), but growing up in Michigan you can't help but be aware of the start of hunting season. It's part of being a Midwesterner.

Yesterday, a facebook friend of mine posted a link to an article about sayings that are unique to Midwesterners. I read through the list and assessed if they are true to Michiganders or not. I mean, not all Midwesterners are the same. Not all Michiganders are the same either - you have the Yoopers, the trolls, the fudgies, Ted Nugent, the townies, the farmers, and so on. So I guess I'm not speaking for all Michiganders when I assess these sayings but in my experience, here is what I think.

Without further ado, here is the list of Midwestern sayings from this article (link) with my assessments:

1. "If I had my druthers" - No. I mean, yes, this is said, but no it is not common. I've never said it in my life, nor to I intend to. Maybe because I'm under 60 years old.

2. "Oh for cute!" or "Oh for fun!" - No. In fact, I thought this was a Utah thing. I wouldn't be caught dead saying either of these.

3. "For crying out loud!" - Yes. I say this all the time. Doesn't everyone?

4. "That makes as much sense as government cheese." What!? No. I mean, I don't even know what that means. I know what government cheese is but I've never heard that expression in all my days.

5. "He's schnookered." No. I guess in context, I might be able to figure out what it means but I don't think this is a regular saying.

6. "The frozen choosen." No! Who says that!?

7. "Slow as molasses in January." Hmmm... I've said the first part but I don't add "in January." That's too specific. Let's be real, February is as cold as January. So is March. I don't even want to talk about April. Let's just leave it at "Slow as molasses" and call it a day.

8. "Duck duck gray duck." WHAT is that!? NO! We don't say that. It's Duck Duck Goose, the end.

9. "He's got the holler tail." I don't know what that means and I don't want to know. Maybe it's a product of incest or something.

10. "Puthergoin-eh." I can't even.... I mean, what does that even mean!? Makes no sense.

11. "Tough tomatoes." I think I've heard this one before but it's by no means common in my experience.

12. "You betcha." Maybe I'm just not country enough for these sayings. Maybe because I didn't grow up on a farm or something but seriously, while I have of course heard this saying, I don't say it myself. And neither 99% of the people I know.

13. "Dontcha know." Once again, this feels like a very country thing to say. I don't know if Michigan humans actually say it or not, but it feels more like something someone in a book would say.

14. "Uff Da" - Never heard of this, never want to hear of it. Don't know what it means. I'd like to keep it that way.

Michiganders, what do you think? Have you heard of these?

And if you're from other states, what are some common sayings where you're from?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

I'm finally coming out of a sick fog. I have been fighting what turned out to be bronchitis and a sinus infection for about a week or longer. I finally broke down and went to the doctor on Monday. I was so sick and so miserable, that I expected the doctor to say, "your suspicion was right. You are dying. You are so brave for waiting so long to come see me. It's a miracle you were able to drive yourself here. We'll have to check you into the hospital and get you the best care available until you can get back on your feet again."

Then the next week or two would look like this:

But all she said was, "stay home from work at least one more day and take these antibiotics."

There was no mention of how brave I am at all.

And now here I am, a couple days later, back at work. Wishing I was in the bed pictured above. Wishing I had the luxury of staying in bed a few more days but since I am just well enough to be back to the grind, I'm back to the grind.

But aren't antibiotics a wonderful thing? I'm so grateful for them. I'm done whining now.

Here are some other thoughts for this Wednesday:

* I ordered the movie Son in Law over the weekend. Remember that movie? I think it won like ten Oscars and it stars Pauly Shore. It got 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. I bought it for $6. I haven't seen it in forever, but I remember it being worth $6. Not $7 though. Just $6. I'll let you know after I watch it if it stands the test of time.

* While I was in bed with the plague, it snowed. I missed it. I looked at it out my window once though and it was really pretty. This morning I walked out the door and saw a dusting of it still left on my pumpkin. And the grass was frozen and crunchy and my car was covered with frost. Thick frost. I guess it's time to start rushing out to my car while I'm getting ready and warming it up so I don't have to scrape my windows.

* I'm getting super excited for Thanksgiving. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe? I'm trying to find one that will really wow everyone.

Guys, that's really all I have today. Those are my Wednesday Thoughts. I hope they are acceptable to you.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

When fall starts to get darker and colder, it always reminds me of the 70's. Mind you, I was barely even alive in the 70's - I'm actually quite young (I sort of ruined that by admitting to being alive in the 70's, didn't I?). Maybe it's just because of the color palette - brown and green were really popular colors for home decor at that time. But for whatever reason, when it starts to look like this outside:

I think of the 70's. I think it's because of this picture of me as a baby, outside in the late 70's. This is one of my favorite pictures of myself as a baby because of how my parents look. So groovy I can't even stand it.

With my mom and dad, fall of 1970-something

Or maybe this picture of me in the fall in the 70's, surrounded by leaves.

Or this one with my cousin.

Check out my coat. Pretty groovy, huh?

I feel like most of my outdoor pictures from my early childhood were taken in the fall. Walking down the street looking at the colors, I think of these pictures I've seen from my childhood, and I get Simon and Garfunkel songs in my head. Probably because of the time change. "Hello darkness, my old friend." That's usually the first line that comes to mind.

And for good reason. Now that we've "fallen back," the sun is setting on my drive home from work. It's not my favorite. But we'll get through it together, ok?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November's OK

In the past, I've written some disparaging things about November. I can't help it, I just love October and it bums me out when it's over. But I've been thinking about it this year and I've realized that November actually has a lot going for it.

Here's the list I came up with for why November is actually pretty ok.

Left-over Halloween candy

This one is both a blessing and a curse. Ever since the day after Halloween, we have had three bowls/bags of extra candy in our office. THREE. And we're all trying to watch what we eat, so the candy only decreases by a tiny margin every day.

The interesting thing about left-over candy is what you learn about your coworkers. Like, no one in my office likes Whoppers. Or 3 Musketeers. Those are always the last to go.

You also learn who has good taste in your office. I held up a mini Twix and a mini Milky Way to my friend at work and asked him which I should choose. He said, "Well, they're both kind of ew." Aghast, I responded, "You're kind of ew!" (I chose the Milky Way.)


Turkey is on sale this month, so it doesn't have to be limited to Thanksgiving, people. And I don't know if you realize it or not, but turkey is straight up delicious. If you thought Thanksgiving was only for pilgrams and Native Americans, and that turkey could only be eaten on Thanksgiving, I'm here to tell you, it's not.


Pre-Christmas month

I'm not a Christmas purist. I sometimes listen to Christmas music in the middle of spring. I'm a full on honey badger when it comes to Christmas music - I don't even care when I listen to it. I love it! I am one of those persecuted innocents who listens to Christmas music regularly starting in November. I don't force it on others though, I just listen to it on my headphones, so don't have me arrested or anything.

I've also started planning my Christmas cookie exchange party, Secret Santa, a trip to Bronners in Frankenmuth, and I'm teaching a Christmas candy making class at my church's Christmas workshop this Saturday. And there's nothing you can even do about it! So don't even try! Christmas!!!!


Sorry, I'm calm now.


Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays out there. Don't worry, even though I love Christmas, I still give Thanksgiving its due. Over the weekend I even put up Thanksgiving decorations. (Though I think a lot about Christmas in November, I hold off on decorating for it until after Thanksgiving. I know the rules.) I really do love that November is a month where people focus on what they are grateful for. Gratitude really does wonders for the soul. Plus, turkey, and parades, and family time. My excitement level is seriously rising right now.


No Shave November

Beards are popping up everywhere!  How many of you are participating in this? Have any of you women participated by not shaving your legs? (Or your beards, I'm not here to judge.)

Am I forgetting any of the awesome things about November?