Christmas 2010

I confess I was a terrible photographer this year.  For one my ISO sensitivity was set too high on my camera and I forgot to change it so all my pics are WAY noisy.  Sigh. Also, I was having too much fun to take pictures!  This was the first year we split Christmas day.  CSP had to work late on Christmas Eve and didn’t get home til past 8 pm.  Normally this would be the year his parents would be with us on Christmas Eve but with CSP’s schedule and the fact that they live an hour away we just pushed the visit to Christmas day.  Early Christmas day CSP had to get up at the crack of dawn and go BACK into work :( for a couple hours.  He is a grocery store manager and on days the store is closed they still have to check the freezers to make sure they don’t lose product.  Sure enough he lost a case and had to spend way more time there than we’d thought cause he had to pull all the product and get it into another freezer so they wouldn’t lose it.  I’m so thankful CSP has a good job but it sure can make the holidays a bit of a mess!  He didn’t get home til well past when I thought we’d be at my sister’s house.  So we quickly loaded the car and hit the road.

We missed breakfast but were in time for lunch, presents and Dirty Santa. We brought Jake and Joey a soccer goal that had to be opened in the garage. Papa & Sara help Jake open the soccer goal CSP & I gave him & Joey for Christmas But we did end up inside too. Jake, Joey & Papa around the Christmas tree at Marc & Sara's Momo is such a trooper.  She’s still in pain from her hernia surgery last week and has a swollen spot the size of a large lemon (looks like she’s smuggling fruit in her pants!) but she hung in there! Momo I made yummy Spiced Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins. It was my first attempt at stuffing a muffin and they turned out great! I made yummy Spiced Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins I’ll post the recipe soon.

I can’t believe it but I’d never played Dirty Santa before!  At least that I can remember.  It was so fun!  Gigi provided all the gifts since it was a surprise to the rest of us that we’d be playing.  Most of the presents were for the boys and that was just fine- it was more fun stealing presents than actually getting a present!  There were 9 of us and most of us are super competitive, watch out on game night!   Papa opened his first and it was a Jacob’s ladder.  He instantly wanted to trade that bad boy in and when everyone else would be deciding he would chant behind us “Jacob ladder.  Jacob ladder.”  He kept forgetting the ‘s.  Marc chose to open a present and wound up with a box of candles.  He was trying to read the box to find out what scent but some of it was in French.  He said “Ooh citronella!  Citronella is French for creamy!”  Bahahaha!!

We left Sara’s at about 4 and swung back by our house before heading out to CSP’s parents’ house.  We ran in, grabbed presents and Zoe and hit the road.  Zoe is still in a crate when we’re gone and we didn’t want her spending all day and night in there!  We made good time and beat the snow.  Whew!  CSP was seriously sweating the weather on the way there. In-laws' tree CSP was worried about the snow that had been predicted so our time at his parents’ was shorter than planned.  We opened presents first then had a wonderful dinner.  WHO KNEW that the hit gift of the night would be the one I spent the least amount of money on?   You can go online and spend about $10 each on one of these.  OR you can do like I did and buy a full dozen at the Dollar Tree!  Everyone on my list (who drives) received one of these and they are raving!  I know I LOVE mine.  I have short arms, yo!  I keep one in each car and one in the house for cleaning tall mirrors, windows, the tv, etc.  LOVE.   Everyone also like their Scentsy plug ins.  I just love when people love the gifts I give them!  Instead of wrapping paper or gift bags this year I used reusable grocery/tote bags to package up my presents.  Going green at Christmas!

Dinner was fabulous as usual.  My in-laws and my aunt and uncle are all serious foodies.  You’re not gonna get tv dinners over there!  They made Beef Wellington.  I’ve always heard Gordon Ramsay yell about it on Hell’s Kitchen but I’d never tried it.  It was so neat!  Looked like a little meat present on my plate. Beef Wellington for Christmas dinner.  Side dishes not pictured but nommed. CSP loved it so much he ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning! Dessert was creme puffs. Mom of CSP made cream puffs for Christmas dinner dessert One had egg nog whipped cream inside and the other had peppermint ice cream with hot fudge. We went home with full bellies to say the least!  Zoe was on her best behavior all night and slept like a log when we got home.  She just has the best time when she can go visit people and get some loving.  6 humans to love on one little pug= heaven for her!

CSP turns 39!

CSP's birthday cake- the Univ of Minnesota logo- by Mom of CSP CSP’s parents came over yesterday to celebrate his 39th birthday.   CSP’s Mom made this cake/giant cookie combo in the spirit of the University of Minnesota (CSP’s favorite college football team- they are from MN).  His parents made us yummy beer cheese soup & beef stroganoff – CSP’s favorite meal that his parents chef up.  The plan was to watch the Minnesota Vikings game on tv but the Metrodome collapsed under the weight of all the snow they’ve been getting lately!   Look how cute my boy is holding up his new Minnesota pullover.CSP loves his new pullover! I wonder what he’s wishing for? Making a wish! More pics here.

Another app for under your tree

Foursquare is not new to me or the app world but I’m constantly surprised when I find out people I know with smart phones don’t use Foursquare. The main complaint I hear is “I don’t want everyone knowing where I am!”  Well they don’t have to.  You can check in all day long and never alert a single person out there in WWW land of your whereabouts.  You can check in and have your check in appear on Twitter and/or Facebook and show up for your Foursquare friends.  But you don’t have to.  So why use this app?  Many reasons my friends!  Users add tips to venues like “Stay away from the salmon” or “Be sure to order the burger”.  Those can be very helpful.  It’s fun to be out and about, check in and see that a friend of yours is just one store over or even right where you are!  You also earn badges & mayorships that can bring discounts and freebies.  I’m a competitive person who loves a freebie so this is right up my alley!

Lots of brands (companies) are on Foursquare and if you follow them then you’ll unlock special badges & goodies.  I had NO idea how many brands were linked with Foursquare until I stumbled upon this list.  You must check it out!  Plus the author lists all the active badges on 4SQ and how to get them.  He’s put a ton of work into this and it is really helpful!

I am a siren of the sea

Behold!  On the left is my new favorite fingernail polish.  The brands don’t matter here.  It’s the color that matters.  My favorite Christmas colors are purple, aqua, lime green & hot pink so I wanted to paint my nails to be festive.  The purple is Sally Hansen.  It’s a deep purple with a bluish tint.  Kinda what I picture that indigo to be in ROYGBIV.  Makes me feel far more edgy and hip than I am.  I’d show you a picture of my actual stubby little fingers but my manicure is chipped right awful from all this unpacking.  I’m just not made for manual labor!

On the right is my new favorite toe nail polish.  Yes I know it’s December but unpainted toe nails give me the creeps. It’s a super glittery aqua.  I got it in a cheap 4 pack while looking for the perfect purple.  The “purple” in the multipack was really a blue parading around as purple.  The brand is LA Colors and I got it at CVS for like $3 for the 4 pack.  I was a little worried that I might be too pale to pull off such dark and bold colors but I think they work.  I’d show you a pic of my actual toes but who really likes to look at other people’s toes except for toe pervs?  Plus my left big toe is all wonky since I had an ingrown toenail taken care of an all he left me was a tiny sliver of a nail.  Sadist! Conservative CSP was appropriately shocked and dismayed and cried “GREEEEEN????” when he saw my toes as if it was the end of the world as he knows it.  I corrected him that it is NOT green but a lovely aqua.  It makes me feel like a mermaid. And who doesn’t want to be a mermaid?

Books Read in 2010- Final Tally

Let’s be honest, I won’t be reading any more books between now and the end of the year.  I have boxes to unpack and Christmas cards to send.  So I thought I’d go ahead and post my final list.
  1. Night by Elie Weisel.  EVERYONE should read this book.  Around 100 pages, but the hardest 100 pages to get through.  So worth it though.
  2. Exposure by Brandilyn Collins.  via Kindle for iPhone.  With the exception of the main character’s lame first name (Kaycee, ugh)…it was good!  Esp for a free Kindle book!
  3. 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs.  Love her.
  4. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson.  Very cute book.  Also a Kindle free read.  There’s a sequel I can’t wait to read.
  5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson.  Currently working on this one.
  6. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot.  Very cute book.  Funny.
  7. Big Boned by Meg Cabot.  See above.
  8. The Shack by William P. Young.  Thought provoking
  9. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline.  Tense.  Good.
  10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Should be required reading.  Fantastic.
  11. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris… Love!  It’s book 1 of the Sookie Stackhousebooks.
  12. Living dead in Dallas. by Charlaine Harris.  Hooked on this series
  13. Precious /Push by Sapphire.  Surprisingly short.  Full of foul language and behavior.  Glad I read it but wouldn’t read again.
  14. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris.  Still loving this series
  15. Twenties Girl by  Sophie Kinsella.  Fun read!  Very girlie.
  16. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris.  This book is where you really notice the split from the tv series.  I kinda wish the tv show would stay more true to the books.
  17. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  18. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris.  This one got REALLY corny!  But I’m invested and I want to see what happens!
  19. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  SO good.  Haunting. Had no idea it was a Young Adult book until after I read it.
  20. Hunger games by Suzanne Collins.  Amazing.  Seriously.  Devoured this and Catching Fire in one weekend.
  21. Catching fire by Suzanne Collins.  Could not put down.  Great characters, storyline.  Can totally see as a movie. Can’t wait for book 3!
  22. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler.  Ok, but not nearly as funny as Are You There God, It’s Me, Chelsea.  I only laughed out loud like once.  She even said on her show that she was rushing to finish this book and you could totally tell.
  23. Maneater by Gigi Levangie Grazer.  Listened to this one on the way out to the Outer Banks on CD.  It was pretty good.  Light stuff for a road trip.
  24. Anyone But You by Jennifer Cruisie.  Listened to this on the way home from the Outer Banks on CD.  Wish we had picked this one first to listen to instead of Maneater.  Super cute and we were both disappointed when we arrived home before the story was over.  Immediately checked the book out of the library and finished the story.  Would be a really cute Rom Com movie.
  25. Altogether Dead by Charlaine Harris.  I think this is the one that deals with Hurricane Katrina.  I really liked how she dealt with it.
  26. Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society by  Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  Delightful!  Just a lovely book.  I’m so glad I read this.  Loved the letters format, loved the depiction of WW2.  Not as romanticized as other books I’ve read.  Wished there was more book to read.  As soon as I finished it I instantly missed the characters.
  27. The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie  Very cute.  Could definitely be a movie.
  28. Wild Ride Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.  Liked this a lot more than I thought I would.  After the first chapter I almost stopped reading it but I’m sure glad I didn’t.
  29. Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen.  Funny & clever.
  30. Undone by Karin Slaughter.  Very good.  Creepy.  Sticks with you.  Unfortunately once I was finished reading this I found out it’s the book that brings together 2 of Slaughter’s series.  So now I’m going to go back and read all the books I skipped.  Doh!
  31. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris.  Liked this one a lot.  A little more somber. She didn’t do as much “Previously on Sookie’s life” as she’s done before and that made it much more enjoyable.
  32. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer.  This was interesting and a bit sad.
  33. Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Laura Weisberger.  Can’t remember much about this now.  I suppose that says something.
  34. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  Fabulous. Loved loved loved it.

I went back and looked at my final list of books read in 2009 and saw that I set a goal of 50 books for 2010.  Oy.  Fell short.  I’ll have to do better in 2011!

My gift to you

If I was independently wealthy then I’d buy all my peeps iPhones and iPads for Christmas.  Alas this is not the case.  So instead I will give to you free Apps that you will love and that will no doubt change your life for the better.  Huzzah!  Now, first understand that I do not get paid or receive any swag from any of my endorsements (not that I’d turn it down- I love presents!).  I just love to share things I love!

This week let me tell you about Waze.  Waze is a free app for iPhone,  Android, Blackberry and other smart phones.  It’s a GPS service that is also social.  It offers turn by turn directions and users submit traffic alerts in real time.  I have one of those FM transmitter things that I use to plug my iPhone into my car.  It allows me to listen to the music on the iPod part of my phone through my car speakers.  While I’m driving and listening to music I’ll also have Waze running.  When it’s time to turn the music will go quiet for a second and Miss Waze will come through my speakers and say “In half a mile turn right.”  It’s so awesome.  I don’t have to take my eyes off the road to look at a map.  I don’t have to switch back and forth between the iPod and Waze apps.  It all works together.  And I don’t have to listen to annoying talk radio to get traffic alerts.  Because users send in alerts in real time I usually hear about accidents or construction before it is reported on the radio.  Fab.   You can join a group on Waze to get more specific info.  For instance there are groups based on geographic location.  Charlotte is made up of tons of neighborhoods and has lots of suburbs.  I am a member of a few different groups based on geographic criteria so when I’m out and about I’ll get alerts on my phone that are specific to those groups.  You can ping other users that you can see on the live map and ask questions or just chat.  There is a Foursquare badge you can earn using Waze, and you can check in on Foursquare without ever leaving the Waze app.   You also earn points and there is a leader board for friendly competition.  Waze is on Twitter so if you have any questions you can ask via Twitter and they are super quick at getting back to you.  On the main Waze website there’s a forum and support area as well.   Waze is global so you don’t have to live or be in the US of A to enjoy it.  Now, go join up on Waze so I can earn extra points by referring you!  Oh, and so you’ll never get lost again.  That’s more important.  But the points are nice too! :)

We’ve got a bleeder!!!

People ask me about my husband CSP’s name all the time.  Does he live up to it?  Why do we call him CSP instead of his real name ?  Well, he is super private and super careful about safety.  CSP does not want me to use his real name on the internet.  The moment I type out his first name and it hits the interwebs people all over the world will know exactly who he is and bum rush the house.  So Susan came up with Captain Safety Pants because of his safety record.  And does he live up to the name?  ONLY EVERY DAY.

The other night I came home from girls’ night .  CSP was already at home enjoying an evening with the pugs.  I was wearing a long skirt and the pugs came running up to greet me like they usually do.  Except they have been more excited than usual since we moved.  I think they are  still getting used to the move and are just so relieved that we actually come home to the new joint after we leave.  Anyway, they all came running up and standing up on their hind legs to greet me (we’re working on this).  They are little dogs and are trying to get closer to my face to say hello.  I sat down on the sofa next to CSP and we started talking.  After a little while I noticed my leg was stinging.  I looked down and my foot was in a puddle of blood!  One of the pugs scratched my leg with their claw.

CSP sprung into action!  GET IN THE BATHTUB!!!  He was frantic.  He dragged me into the bathroom and put me in the shower.  He grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and started dousing my legs while going on about how open wounds were gonna put me right back in the hospital and how could I die of infection when we just moved into this house!

It’s been over a week and I’m still alive but CSP continues to watch me for any further developments.