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?