Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Ornament A Year Keeps the Memories Clear

Have you heard 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'? Well, this is the Christmas version of that saying: An ornament a year keeps the memories clear. Make sure you quote me when you start using that one.

Each year growing up, each of us kids in my family got a personalized Christmas ornament. When decorating the Christmas tree every year, we would place our own ornaments on the tree and would be reminded of the year from which the ornament came. I know my brother and I each had a music note the year we were both in marching band, or I had a pink rocking horse on one of my very first Christmases, for example.

So, when John and I started getting our own Christmas trees I made sure to get us a personalized ornament for every year. I have tried to make sure that the ornament corresponds with whatever happened during the respective years, but some years were a stretch because nothing major happened.

For example, in 2005 [the year of our first Christmas tree] I purchased this ornament of two reindeer carrying a Christmas tree. This has to do with 2005 because this was the year that John and I dressed in reindeer costumes (including the leg warmers, of course) and carried our Christmas tree all the way home.
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2006 was the year we must not have had much money, which led me to purchase this ugly snowman.

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In 2007, we bought our first house and so this house ornament is quite fitting. I blurred our address, but if you must know what it said to get the full effect, it said 1234 Please Don't Stalk Me St.

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2008 was the year of the musical polka-dotted Christmas tree. It used to play 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' but now it sounds more like cats dying. This symbolizes er, uh, I've got nothing. 2008 must have been a year of nothingness.

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2009 was easy...we got married! So this year's ornament was pretty self explanatory. It says 'Just Married' on the back window of the car since it's a little hard to read in this picture.

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Which brings us to 2010. I was hoping to have another obvious ornament this year which included either a 3rd person or a bump of some sort, but that hasn't happened this year. So instead, I bought this house (without the little snowman in the window) and I drew two kitty cats in the upstairs windows after I brought it home.
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That was about three weeks ago. & if you noticed, We are actually not Bill and Maxine. And there is no little Tyler, and we aren't the Millers. (Narrowed it down a little bit for you, stalkers.) But, as it was a bit too early to hang my new ornament on a tree that didn't exist until just a couple of days ago, I stored this ornament in my pile of stuff by my desk in the mean time. Not the most organized place, but I knew where it was and where to find it when the time came.

So that time was Sunday, if you recall. I always like to hang my newest ornament of the year on the tree first. I came to my pile of stuff to retrieve 2010's ornament, and it was no where to be found. I searched in drawers and in closets but to no avail. That ornament must have sprouted legs and run away.

So I guess this is a good place to mention that I have a certain "roommate" [of the two-legged variety] that accidentally throws things away in his cleaning frenzies. It is the best estimate of what has happened to this ornament. But, he felt bad about it so he went and dug through the garbage to see if he could find it, but he did not. He did however find the bag it came in, and the postcard from the little shop was still in there. This led me to their website where I was able to order a replacement 2010 ornament in the same design.

So maybe 2010's ornament will have a story after all. If by chance the lost ornament turns up and we end up with two of the same ornament for this year, we'll always remember the story that led us to having two. & although it's happened before and I'm sure it will happen again, I hope this "roommate" of mine starts to learn his lesson. I'd hate to have to start screening all of the trash before it leaves the house!

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmasfying Our Home

From my 101 in 1001 list, #86: Go to the mountains to cut down my own Christmas tree - CHECK!
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Well, maybe I didn't exactly cut it down myself, but this nice man with a chainsaw did when I asked him to - same difference, right?

If I were forced to use a hand saw and chop it down myself, there is a very good chance I would still be in the mountains hacking away at the tree now - a full 30 hours later. & we wouldn't want that for me, right?

But let's back up a little bit. Back to the part before I became an accessory to the murder of my poor Christmas tree.

My sister, nephews, parents and I drove up to the North Carolina Mountains to pick out our Christmas trees at Circle C farm. It is only about a 2.5 hour drive which isn't bad considering we normally drive 2 minutes to the Home Depot and pay half the price for our Christmas tree. You read that right - it is about twice the price and 75 times the distance away to get our Christmas tree here. But, it's all about the experience!

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My experience included the following: forgetting to take my good camera and having to use my little point and shoot, forgetting socks and having to borrow my mom's, spilling hot warm chocolate on my leg, holding on to my sister's arm for her dear life as she nearly slid off the back of the hayride up the mountain, becoming overwhelmed with the Christmas tree selection process, and having another wonderful time with my family whom I love so dearly!

I finally did choose this beautiful and fat tree. I'm hoping that little guy in front of it was not it's son, or I'll feel really bad for splitting up his family.
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DISCLAIMER: Don't judge me and my lumpiness- I had gloves and other things (I'm sure) in my pockets making me look so lumpy!
John was originally supposed to go on this trip with me, but at the last minute made me a deal I couldn't refuse. He stayed home and cleaned the house, PLUS, got out all of the empty storage containers for my fall decor and got out all of my Christmas decorations in preparation for me to decorate the house and tree. I loathe dragging that stuff out so I considered that a fair deal!

When I got home, we put the tree up and I noticed that he had very "neatly" stacked all of the boxes of Christmas decorations around the kitchen table. But I shouldn't complain because I guess the word 'neatly' wasn't in our deal (or in his vocabulary, for that matter). [Another disclaimer: that's totally a joke because of the two of us, he is probably neater than I am!]

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But, I pulled through and was able to decorate the tree and our house today without too much trouble. I quite like it all so far, but I need more! A trip to Garden Ridge or Wal-Mart is in my future - just don't tell John.
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This little guy quite likes it too...in the span of one day he upgraded his nap time digs from a torn, too-small shoe box to a romantic and warm spot under the tree.

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He seems quite pleased, I'd say.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

2009 Christmas Card

To participate in a promotion I read about here, I am sharing my 2009 Christmas card I created on Shutterfly.com.

This was my favorite Christmas card to date, and it's going to be hard to top it in 2010!

Although, the 2008 Christmas card could have been better if I changed up the saying that I used. I used the picture I shared with you here (the February 23rd picture) and used the saying 'Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.' Instead, I should have said 'Merry Christmas to all and to all a Bud Light' since there is a  blaring Bud Light sign in the background. But, alas. One of those moments where you come up with something really great to say AFTER the fact.

But anyways, I will be using Shutterfly.com to create this year's card as well and you should too!

Stirling Snowflake Christmas
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Chris!

Today is my brother-in-law Chris' birthday! Happy Birthday Chris!

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Chris has been a part of our family now for 24ish years...which is practically my entire memorable life since I don't think I remember too much before the age of 4. Well, except for the memories of swimming around in a very little pool and getting flushed out through a narrow canal. But, besides that I have no memories before age 4.

Chris is married to my sister Christy and they were high school sweethearts. & college sweethearts. & married sweethearts. & parent sweethearts. & in a few weeks, parents-to-a-teenager sweethearts!

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So basically he is no "in-law" but an older brother instead. I mean, after a certain number of years I think the in-law status starts diminishing. But then that would mean my "brother" is married to my sister, which would just be weird. So, forget I ever said it. In other words, he has been around since my younger brother and I were kids, and I think he is closer to my family than most in-laws usually are!

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If I were giving out superlatives yearbook-style for my family, Chris would definitely win "Most Likely to Make You Spit Out Your Drink From Laughter" because he is our families comedic relief. He may also be in the running for "Best Dressed" seeing as how he claimed to be wearing ruby red slippers à la Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz the other day. Very fashionista of you, Chris!

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Hope you have a marvelous birthday Chris! Can't wait to celebrate with you on Tuesday, and not have your birthday overshadowed by that turkey again! That pesky bird, he is.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Epic Tale of the Hair Plan

A few months ago, my coworker Patrick asked myself and my other coworker Katie for help with his hair. He needed a new 'do and asked for us to send him some suggestions.

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Given the current state of his affairs (ahairs?), we obliged, sent several suggestions, and they were all shot down. We had to bring in a professional (Reagan), and she suggested all of this which I told you about here. Patrick was satisfied with all of her suggestions and marched himself to the salon with the printed blog in his hands.

When he got back, it was better, but wasn't as dramatic as we had hoped. He claimed that it would be in time, as his stylist had placed him on a hair plan

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So we waited. & waited. & then he went back for phase 2 of the plan and when he got back it was no different than before. I didn't even take pictures of it because I was disappointed. I mean, come on Patrick! Do YOU want to be happy with your hair (which he was) or do you want Katie and I to be happy with it? I think the answer is obvious! Keep the coworkers happy!

This week, Patrick finally decided (due to no coercion from us, of course) that he wanted something different and had me take a long hair farewell picture.


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He looks like he might cry at any moment! It's just hair, Patrick!

On Friday, he very nervously marched himself down to the salon and got a totally different look. I think the pictures of the results speak for themselves.


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West siiiiide!

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Katie and I are quite happy with our his new hair. And Patrick is too! How do I know? Well, for the first time since he and I have been Facebook friends, his profile picture is of him and not some inanimate object.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

Friday, November 19, 2010

#37 - Just Call Me Timely Tammy

From my 101 in 1001 list, '# 37 - Make the on-time train every day for 2 weeks' is complete!

I decided to try and knock out one of the tougher items on the list and I cannot believe I was able to do it on my first attempt, to be perfectly honest. To prove it to you, I took a picture of my clock (which has the date AND time on it) each morning when I got to my desk.

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& before you call my bluff, the time is only 9:01 on November 8th because it was the first day back to work after falling back for Daylight Saving Time, and I took a picture before I set the clock back.

The train comes every 10 minutes, and I strive to make the one that puts me at my desk right at 8:00 (+/- a minute or two depending on elevator waits). But, if I'm struggling in the morning I don't feel guilty for being 10 minutes late and will just take the next train. I should feel guilty, but I don't...which is why I put this on my list. But now that my two weeks are over, I have learned my lesson and feel very enlightened.

The learned lesson:  Never again will I subject my coworkers to the monstrosity that was my hair this past Wednesday just to arrive to work on time. It just wasn't worth it. With an extra 10 minutes I could've made something really beautiful, I am sure of it! Something like this, perhaps?

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Beautiful, yes?

I fell asleep with my hair soaking wet the night before and maybe hit snooze a time or two too many that morning. Which meant I had about 5 minutes tops to make something presentable out of bedhead, and that was simply impossible. I think I ended up disguising the bedhead wave on the top of my head with a gold headband, and then pony-tailed/bunned the rest of it up.

But I wasn't about to throw a week and a half's worth of being on time in the trash for one bad hair day! I sucked it up and hid in my cubicle for the day in an effort not to scare anyone.

All that matters is this one word though: CHECK!
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekend Project: Curb Appeal

A couple of weekends ago I decided that my front porch needed some more pizazz. It consisted of the following:
  • 2 pots of struggling mums flanking my front door
  • 3 hanging baskets full of leftover summer Begonias, which were also starting to struggle
  • 2 wicker chairs from Pier One, which had both seen a bit too much weather in their days
  • 2 ugly blue/green plaid cushions in those chairs
  • and 1 cute little, empty table between them
In other words, it all needed some work.

The flowers were easy. I always take down the hanging baskets during winter so I just dumped the flowers and stowed the hanging baskets away until next spring. I replaced the dying mums in the other pots with purple pansies and some other greenish plant that I'll have to re-ask my Mama the name of.

I then had leftover pansies so I made one more pot of them and I bought another cute basket of them to complete the flower part of the makeover.

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But the chairs. Oh, the chairs. If you remember, I got them for $10/each from a garage sale a couple of years ago. They were originally from Pier 1 Imports, but they have since lost their luster. Weathered wicker is the worst and they needed a paint job badly.

See?
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Yuck, huh? So, when I got a Saturday alone (meaning John was not home and therefore would not interfere [a.k.a. take over] my project), I went to Lowe's and purchased some spray paint. A deep red primer (mainly cause that's all they had) and what I thought would be a chocolate brown for the final color.

First step was to remove the cushions. And no, I wouldn't normally include this blatantly obvious step because I don't think the regular Life of Lacey reader is that dumb, but if I left it out then I wouldn't have a place to put this little fun fact: After removing the cushions, the next step is to remove the fork and instruction manual that have been mysteriously stowed here for God only knows how long. [JOOOHHHNNN!!!]

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Honestly, I couldn't even make this stuff up.
 Then I started spray painting. And did you know that your finger really starts to cramp up after a while when spray painting? 'Cause it does. And you have to keep switching fingers when one finger tires out to another stronger finger. It took a team of fingers, but with a little perseverance and a little paint spillage, I made it through the primer coats.

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Next was the chocolate brown coat. But as I started spraying, it looked less chocolately and more brown-grey-ee. I don't know if it was because of my weird primer color or not, but I went with it. When it was done it looked 1000 times better than it did when I started and I kinda like the color even more than the chocolate brown I was originally going for. See for yourself:

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Finally, after finishing both chairs and securing some new ill-fitting-but-will-suffice red cushions, I was ready to put it all together.

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I quite like it and can't wait to Christmas-fy it in a couple of weeks! What do you think? Not bad for a little money, a couple finger cramps and the finding of a long lost fork!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

'Twas A Lazy Morn

Woke up late around 10:00. John was gone playing disc golf with his buddies. I had nothing to do and so (as usual) I wasted a couple hours on the internet. But I wasn't alone in my laziness.

Tuna was right by my keyboard waiting for the slightest flinch of my hand in his direction. Meaning - as soon as my hand starts moving his way he gets all excited thinking he's going to get pet.

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And Reese was right behind me on the floor, soaking up the sun coming through the window, and having himself a little cat nap.

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I just love a good, lazy, cozy morning.

And, on a completely different topic which probably deserves it's own blog post but I'm too lazy to do that, here is a conversation overheard on the train ride home from work yesterday. These types of funnies are becoming so common on the train I may start a new feature on the blog called OTT, or "Overheard on the Train Today." Stay tuned.

Dude #1: ...Nah man, he was cut from the team. He plays overseas now.

Dude #2: For real? I didn't know that man!

Dude #1: Yeah man. He had a gambling and alcohol problem and was cut from the team. He plays overseas now in Canada.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Ketchup

Want to hear the story of how John and I both ended up in tears at a restaurant in Washington D.C?

Well, on our last night in DC, John and I were searching on the Trip Advisor mobile site for a restaurant that was not only close to our hotel, but that had good reviews. (I make all vacation and traveling decisions based on the Trip Advisor reviews...if you haven't used it, you should!) Since we were in more of a residential area of DC our choices were limited. Ultimately though, we decided on the Froggy Bottom Pub only a few blocks away.

The reviews of Froggy Bottom said all of the food was pretty good, but several people mentioned that the Phở was the best thing here. Neither of us had ever heard of Phở, but Dr. Google came to our rescue and explained that it is a Vietnamese noodle soup. John was interested in trying it, however I was not. I know you're surprised.

Pho Neon signWhen we get to the restaurant and look over our menus, John notices that even though the neon Phở sign was in the window, the Phở was no where to be found on the menu. When the waitress came over John asked her about the Phở and she tells us that they do in fact have it but it's not on the menu with all of the American food they serve. It's sort of a members only item I guess, and the exclusiveness of the dish sells John. He orders the Phở with chicken and I order a turkey club with french fries.

Before the food comes, the waitress comes back and drops off two condiment bottles and a plate of garnishes which include sprouts, cilantro, limes, and onions. We have no idea what any of this is for, but didn't want to give ourselves away to all of the locals who are slurping down their Phở all around us so John accepts it like he's a Phở expert - a Phexpert, if you will.

Finally the soup is served and John prepares to dig in as any Phexpert would. He throws some of the garnishes into the soup, and tests the two condiments on the saucer. The first one was in a red bottle much like what we normally see ketchup served in and the other was in a clear bottle and contained a typical Asian sauce of some sort. When he squeezes a drop from the red bottle onto the saucer, he immediately exclaims "ketchup" and puts it aside. He had no interest in adding ketchup to his soup. He then tried the other sauce and eventually decides to add it to his soup after he had already eaten about half of it. (Am I the only one that thinks it's weird to add a sauce to a soup?)

After he added the sauce he instantly liked the Phở so much more, and so I suggest that the "ketchup" is probably not ketchup and is actually another sauce for his soup. Seeing as how there was already a bottle of Heinz on the table, he decides that I may be right and dips his finger in the drop he originally made on his saucer and tastes it.

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Apparently it was extremely hot and not ketchup at all! But that didn't deter him from squeezing a very generous amount into his Phở. John is a spicy foods lover, but this was apparently just too much. Poor thing was biting into the limes & slurping down his beer as fast as he could to try and put out the fire in his mouth. His nose was running and he was tearing up a bit, or to translate that into man-code, "his eyes were watering". He must have had an eyelash in his eye, or something.

But want to know who actually was crying during this whole situation? That would be me. I was laughing so hard at all of it that I cried. And that is how we both ended up in tears right there in the Froggy Bottom Pub.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Monumental Anniversary

For our first anniversary, John and I wanted to take a weekend trip somewhere close-ish and somewhere that neither of us had ever been. Ultimately, we decided on Washington, DC after discovering that a Cirque du Soleil show was going to be playing there on our anniversary weekend. And if you remember my 101 list, you will know that this little trip then knocks off at least two items:
  • 11. Take a trip for our anniversary.
  • 14. See a show by Cirque de Soleil.
It could possibly even work for #12 - Visit a state I've never been to before, but, DC isn't in a state and even though we flew into Baltimore I don't think it should count. But, if it gets down to May 2013 and this item has yet to be marked off, then I may come back and change my mind. Besides, the Amtrak/MARC station in Baltimore was just beautiful and I can't imagine that Maryland has too much more to offer, right?

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We flew in early Friday morning and only had one thing on the agenda that day: Ovo by Cirque du Soleil at 4:00 p.m. Which, was a good thing because even though the show was only right outside of DC, it took a long time and a lot of energy to get there. But we did enjoy the scenery along the way through Old Town in Alexandria, VA, over the Potomac River, and finally through National Harbor, Maryland. To put it short, we did all of this in order to get from our hotel to the show -

In text:

Walk .4 miles to Metro, Take Metro 8 stops south, (Option here to take shuttle to river or to walk - we chose to walk since we wanted to stop for lunch) walk 1.1 miles to the river, take water taxi across the Potomac, and finally walk the last 1.3 miles to the show. & then to get back - you get the idea.

And in pictures:
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And stupid me did not wear my tennis shoes because I thought there would be more shuttling and less walking so my feet were pretty upset with me. I didn't wear heels, but I did wear some flats with minimal support. Boo.

That was Friday in a nutshell. Ovo was Omazing, in case you were wondering. I don't think there are any bad Cirque shows, though.

So Saturday was our day to do the things that you have to do in Washington, DC just because you are there. Such as monuments and museums and such. I was worried that we'd both be bored with this, because it's just not our cup of tea but we gave it a good shot anyways. We saw the main monuments, attempted a museum and called it a day. We didn't want to make our anniversary weekend too much like a field trip - and museums and monuments are not at the top of our fun list.

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But we have the pictures to prove we attempted it, and then went back to the hotel for a nap, a swim in the indoor pool and then some time in the hot tub to soothe our aching feet.

With an early flight Sunday morning, we spent the rest of the night by grabbing dinner at a local pub, and then watching the baseball game to finish up the night.

Hopefully we will be able to keep up this tradition of visiting a new place with each year's anniversary. And next time, it'll be even more great if I remember to pack my flat iron and hairbrush!