Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How we're spending NYE and favorite posts of 2014

Do you guys remember how we spent Christmas Eve eve?  We found out our hot water heater was on the fritz and not to jump on the TMI train but the Mr and I had to take a speed shower together if we both wanted hot water.  Twas not romantic.

Ask us how we spent New Years Eve eve.

Taking a speed shower together trying to both get some of the last tank of hot water left before we had to turn off the gas line because of a gas leak in the new hot water heater.

2014.  Put a fork in it...

via

So I thought in the spirit of other blogging traditions of end of year lists, I'd make one of my own.

Here's a look back at some of my favorite posts from 2014 because if I don't see something positive out of this year, twill have felt all for naught.  You dig?

The Day I Said Yes

Vacay Recap Week One

Vacation Recap Week Two

Personal Goal... Achieved

Side Table Makeover

100 Happy Days Completed

An Armoire Gets A New Lease on Life

The Soundtrack of My Life - Mix Tape Edition

Road Trippin':  Fall in New England

Christmas Time is Here

It's good to see that there were some good times in there sprinkled with the challenges.

Obviously, I'm happiest when we're on vacation and while that remodel took our summer and a lot out of me, I love the end result too much to dwell on how much it drained me.  ;-)

We don't have any plans for tonight.  I actually had to remind the Mr that it's New Years Eve!  So you can see we've settled into middle age quite nicely.  HA!  My suspicion is we will finish up our binge watching marathon of The Wonder Years.  Jealous?

Happy New Year to you all!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to let in the plumber.

What was your favorite moment of 2014?  Any plans for tonight?

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Friday, December 26, 2014

This little pilot light of mine



It didn't wanna shine.

Well, our Christmas was uh...different.

If you follow on Facebook, you know that Christmas Eve Eve our hot water heater decided to die.  Yep.  Right there on the spot, the day before our big Christmas Eve gathering with my mom where I have nothing to do all day but run around like a chicken with my head cut off.

I already had some sinus issue where I couldn't smell/taste for the two days prior.  (Thanks a lot sick dude at the Christmas concert.  Note to self:  No more Christmas concerts the week before Christmas)   So I wasn't in the merriest frames of mind to begin with.  Then I notice there isn't hot water when I'm washing my hands.  The Mr checks and says the pilot light is out.  We wait for the scent of gas to dissipate (relying on his sniffer, not mine obviously) and he relights it.  Ten minutes later, it's out again.  Repeat.

Great.

We were already thinking it needed to be replaced because there was a ton of sediment knocking around in there that draining and flushing wouldn't remedy and it was driving me insane.  We figured we'd replace it in the new year.  The heater had other plans.  We got seriously screwed by, we'll call them Schmoto Schmooter when we had our last one installed.  It was not built to last, a crappy tank and we paid twice the price than the whole install through Lowe's.  Not fun to realize how much you were previously bent over.

So to thank them for coming out on Christmas Eve, I baked some cookies for the installers (just when I thought I was done!)  When I gave it to the guy, he turned so red because a girl talked to him I thought he was going to rocket out of his skin!

I suppose I should've been more frantic but I guess I felt like the $700 we just got in credit card cash back that was going to go toward pleasure, would now be delegated for this Christmas surprise.  This meant that basically it was only going to bite into our regular budget for over $100.  I'm thankful that money was available to us when an emergency reared its head and instead of feeling bummed and boo hoo-ing, all I could feel was grateful.

I guess that feeling of gratefulness along with the Christmas story is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

Now, time for my last two hostess duties and tomorrow I'm just going to lay in bed all day.

How was your Christmas/holiday?

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merriest of Christmases to you all!

Enjoy every moment, one day of indulgence won't kill you so don't sweat it too much, take a walk with family after you eat and then savor a well deserved nap when all is said and done.

(via)
Merry Christmas to you all!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas Eve

One of my favorites and a good reminder...

"It's Christmas Eve.   It's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer.  We smile a little easier.  We share a little more.   For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people we always hoped we would be.

It's a miracle...it's really sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve.   And if you waste that miracle, you're gonna burn for it. I know what I'm talking about.   You have to do something. You have to take a chance and you do have to get involved.    There are people that are having trouble making their miracle happen.  There are people that don't have enough to eat and there people that are cold.   You can go out and say hello to these people.   You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say "here" or make 'em a sandwich and say, "oh by the way...here."

l get it now.  And if you give, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you.  Not just the poor and hungry, it's everybody whose gotta have this miracle!   It can happen tonight for you all!  If you believe in this pure thing,  the miracle will happen and you'll want it to happen again tomorrow!   You won't be one of those bastards that says  "Christmas is once a year and it's a fraud." 

It's not!

It can happen every day! You've just got to want that feeling!   And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it!  You'll want it every day of your life!  It can happen to you!   I believe in it now.   I believe it's gonna happen to me now. I'm ready for it!  It's great.   It's a good feeling.   It's really better than I've felt in a long time.

I'm ready.

Have a Merry Christmas everybody."

-Frank Cross
Scrooged

And to cover the bases...God bless us, everyone.

Merry Christmas and don't forget to leave the cookies out for Santa!



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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

23 years

Today the Mr and I have "officially" been together for 23 years.

It's been 23 years since my 17 year old ears heard his 19 year old voice say "I love you" for the first time.  Of course anyone he told face palmed because the dude isn't supposed to say it first and certainly not after one official date three days prior.  What can I say, I was irresistible!  ;-)  Saying it that first time was as easy as it is saying it now.

Somehow even then, I knew.  I knew that this Christmas romance wasn't a passing thing and that we would share many more "I love you's" over our lifetime.  We've shared many highs and good times.  We've been through our challenging times, often feeling like it was us against the world.  But our closeness, friendship, respect and love for each other is something our families, friends and basic strangers have told us they wished for themselves or their children for years.  For that, I am proud.

It's good to know that when you look at someone that there is no doubt in your mind they have your back.  There is no better feeling than when they've watched you go from an Aqua Net, Sun In, big haired teen to a super morbidly obese woman to losing a good deal of the weight as you cruise into middle age complaining about aching joints and thinning hair and still tell you how 'cute' you are at all of those stages.  I suspect when I'm 90 and he's straightening my wig or listening to me yammer on about something and forget my point halfway through that he'll still say I'm 'cute.'

There is no one I would rather go through life with.



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Monday, December 22, 2014

Cookies and Christmas gathering #1

It was a whirlwind weekend.

Lots of baking.

Delivering cookies.



The Christmas concert was good and we looked at some Christmas lights when we were done.

Baked more cookies.

Ate cookies.

Then it was Christmas with a branch of the family tree.  We had a nice time even if there was an extra guest that was a little grating.  She's a nice enough girl but as our Christmases with older grandparents become less taken for granted, I'm selfish with the time I'd like to spend as a family with them.  This person is in town for 3 weeks, why do they need to hone in on the one time per year we see this grandma?  This is my haul from her.



I was so glad to get this second set of silverware.  Dante's Peak is one of those movies that I like but don't know why.  Any time it's on, I have to watch it.  Newhart makes me look like I'm 80 years old and should be drinking prune juice cocktails.  I guess I really should've followed my instinct and taken it off my list prior to her shopping because you ever look at something and go...'yeah, that's never getting opened.'  I think I have 8 DVD's in the same boat down in the basement.  Oops!  I may force myself to watch it though because well...this is Larry, this is my brother Daryl and this is my other brother Daryl.

There was apparently some drama prior that I was filled in on but I just roll my eyes and thank God that my contact with them is limited.  I pray for them, I wish them well but I refuse to play the game.  I was given fair warning Christmas Day could be "tense."

Yay?

As the Mr quoted....'another Christmas in the trenches.'

Maybe we'll just hitch a ride on Santa's sleigh and have him drop us off anywhere but here?  Drop us in Chicago or on the top of Mount Washington please, St. Nick!

But even with all of other people's attempts to poop on the holiday, I am taking in the next few days as they are my favorite of the year.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Crunch time and what I'm reading this week

People!  Can you believe it is the Friday before Christmas!?  This is what I've been talking about...you blink and suddenly you're in crunch time and the time will suck into some kind of wormhole and throw you out on December 26th wondering what the hell happened to this last week.

Today I am baking, baking and maybe a little baking.  Not just the stuff for friends but the stuff for us too.  We have a holiday concert tonight and I must note for future Christmases that going to a Christmas concert the Friday before Christmas is not the best way to take stress off of myself.  I also learned that Jif is weak peanut butter to use for buckeyes and will be reverting back to store brand which tastes infinitely more like peanuts.  Pffft.

But enough of my Christmas crank, let's get to...



Are You Enlightened or a Control Freak? What Your Airplane Seat Choice Says About You  (I'm a first class window person...yep, this nails me.  Except for the pretentious part because I hate nothing more than that awkward point where people are passing you and giving you stink eye.  I'm not traveling to Hawaii in coach, my legs couldn't take it with my muscle issues)

 Forget Calories—Count These Instead to Lose Weight Fast  (Good reminders!)

Former Pop Singer Spills 10 Juicy Secrets About Being in a Failed '90s Boy Band  (I was never a boy band person (unless you count Duran Duran but they were a MAN band) but some interesting stuff in this one)

Five Amazing Things Foil Can Do  (Cool pizza hack!)

21 Photos The Elf On The Shelf Doesn’t Want You To See  (Pretty hilarious and I would probably so traumatize our child with these.)

7 Big Benefits Of Exercising Outside This Winter  ("Make sure you bundle up if you go outside...it's a little nippy")

13 Greeting Cards That Mean Well, But Are Just Making It Worse  (#1 made me cry laugh)

Paralyzed Dog Who Learns To Walk Reminds Us Why Everyone Deserves A Second Chance  (Aww, sweet nugget)

10-Year-Old Fan Makes Justin Timberlake Cry During Concert  (I love JT)

16 Cookies That Can Be Thrown Together At the Very Last Minute  (For the procrastinators)

Charlie Sheen to Reprise His Iconic Ferris Bueller's Day Off Role on The Goldbergs   (This should be a hoot.  I said hoot)

The Drinking Mistake That's Costing You Pounds  (Oops, better go grab my bottle!)

How Fat Leaves the Body  (Inhale....EXHALE!)

How Much Your Pregnancy Will Really Cost You  (For the pregger readers)

How to Keep the Magic of Santa Alive For Kids  (Love this)

My Family Love Story by Seth Rogen  (I'm kind of in love with him after his amazing advocacy in this area)

Everything Macaulay Culkin Eats In The 'Home Alone' Movies, Ranked  (Pretty much agree)

Sharon Stone Opens Up About Her Brain Aneurysm  (Whether you're a fan or not, some good insight in this article and most of it is not about her health issues)

7 Simple Ways To Welcome Holiday Guests  (Yay!  I do them all!)

The Truth About Santa (Always a good one to drag out this time of year for those with questioning kids, consider giving this near perfect explanation)

Puppy gets relaxing bath...cutest thing ever

This is the only video you need to watch today  (Did I mention I love JT?)

I know this was a long list but I will likely not be doing links next Friday because I will not have time to brush my own hair much less read anything this week.  So soak it in or read half the list then save the other half for next Friday.

Tonight we have the concert, tomorrow I'm delivering the cookies and eating cookies and Sunday is Christmas with one branch of the family tree and I have a billion things to bake/make for it too.  I'll have Monday to breathe and then the 23rd-26th I'll be in a trance and the 27th I'll be in bed all day long.

What are your plans this weekend?  Any holiday gatherings?  Baking marathons?

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baking Bonanza

I don't know about y'all but I'm knee deep in flour, baking for family and friends.  (And ourselves this weekend)  I like to keep up on what friends I bake for might like and they shared a pic of cookies with a bear holding an almond.  I couldn't find a bear but we did already have a santa so I used him.



Then I forgot after baking some cookies for my MIL to turn down the oven and santa had a tan.

D'oh!

No worries, I made a new batch.  But they are super cute and I know my friend will love them!

When I'm making mega batches of dough, I like to pre-mix the dry ingredients when I have time earlier in the month.  Then when baking day comes, I can dump all of the dry ingredients in after I've whipped up the wet ones.  Just make sure you list what recipe it's for and what ingredients you added so you know not to re-add them.



In case you need some new recipes to try, here are some of the ones I consistently make for family and friends.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies  (Recipe I used for the nut holding Santa.  Wow that sounds bad)

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies  (A little messy to make but always a hit and make the perfect vehicle for a whoopie pie with a twist.  They get better with age)

Maple Buckeyes  (Whether you use maple peanut butter, regular or some other flavors, these are wonderful)

Egg Nog Cookies  (A great subtle egg nog taste even the haters will love!)

Snowballs (aka-Mexican Wedding Cookies)

Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies  (These are always a hit because, well...Biscoff)


I like to use impending visits with friends to try out new cookie recipes so this year I gave these a try.

Potato Chip Cookies

and

Biscoff Criss Cross Cookies

If you have picky people (like my family), don't tell them they are potato chip cookies...I renamed them 'sweet and salty shortbread cookies.'  When I gave the link to a friend I made them for she said "there's no way there's potato chips in there!"  It's a great texture and while they probably won't be in our personal core cookie baking, I will probably make both of those yearly as gifts for others and we'll grab a few out of the batch.  I would blow through those potato chip cookies for sure and since they use chips, that's likely why you can't eat just one.

Our core cookies are cut outs from the old Better Homes and Garden cookbook (decorated with multi-colored icing), chocolate chip M&M (the Mr's favorite), Buckeyes and I usually make gingerbread but sometimes I cheat and use pre-made Trader Joe's Molasses break and bakes to give myself a break which is what I'm doing this year.

If you're looking for more recipe ideas, click here to see all of my 12 Days of Treats links from previous years.  Lots of truffle and fudge ideas in addition to cookies.  I didn't have the oomph to do it this year.  I'll try to do better next year!  ;-)

What are your core cookies your family likes you to bake for them every holiday season?

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our short stint in the fitness band world

The Mr's heart rate monitor (HRM) was on the fritz for the past month or so.  His griping about his  frustration alone probably burned more calories than what would end up showing up on the screen.  It was pretty obvious his strap died and after having it for quite a few years, we can't really complain about it eventually waving the white flag.

Obviously the fitness band market is all the rage right now.  The Mr did a buttload of research before ever proclaiming what he perceived to be the holy grail currently available.



At $200 for the Garmin VivoSmart with the chest strap, I was less than comfortable paying that kind of dough for something I could easily pay half that price for and get what I needed.  All I really need to know is calories burned for my workout and that's as far as I go.  I don't have the time or desire to crunch numbers and scan data.  I'm sure that can be fun in the beginning but I'm simple.  The Mr convinced me that knowing our BMR could be beneficial for us in knowing how much we should really be eating instead of going off of various website calculations.  I surrendered and figured that could come in handy.  One day after going over some finances, I decided to surprise him with buying one for each of us.  I was skeptical but I was interested in seeing calories burned while sleeping and tracking those patterns and such so I was willing to play along.

As we did our initial setup on the website (or app), I was looking forward to seeing it in action so we did a strenuous strength session.  I kept swiping to see where you find the calories burned for the workout alone vs. the whole day, which were the only calorie numbers I could find.  Well, I would be swiping for eternity because this most basic of HRM functions wasn't there.  That's right, I paid $200 for a fancy pants HRM that doesn't even tell me the calories burned during my workout!!  It only tells you the amount of calories you burn the whole day whether you're wearing the strap all day to track for BMR purposes or not.  I wrote down the calories burned for the day before the workout and then what it was after the workout so I could figure out how many calories I burned.  It was half of what I usually burned for that workout.  I figured maybe because it wasn't using a full day's data it was off so I tried not to hold a grudge (I did though) and we got to the other features.

We had various issues with it retaining settings despite setting what we wanted, saving it and syncing it to the band.  Then the calories that were burned during the workout based off my math directly after the workout were different in their dashboard than what the band said I burned after syncing.  I was so ticked at one point, I declared I was sending it back asap.  I knew I had to give it at least a few days but this was not going well.

Before you go to bed, you have to start a sleep timer and then you stop it when you wake up for the day.  When I looked to see how much sleep I actually got, I was an exact match to when I started my timer.  So it doesn't actually track your sleep, it tracks movement during the times your sleep timer is recording.  Given how many times I tossed and turned that first night, I'm pretty sure I got closer to 6 hours of sleep and not the 7 hrs 24 mins it claimed I got.

The Mr was getting more info on his because he created a MyFitnessPal account and he said he was irritated because his BMR was the exact same number by the end of the second day as it had been the end of the first day when we'd only been wearing it for 6 hours before it reset at midnight.  My numbers were different but it was because I didn't have a MFP account and didn't want one.  By the end of the night, I created an account and my numbers changed from what they were prior to the sync to the exact same number.  Basically, all it did was take the info I entered in MFP and guesstimated on their formulas, not actual info like I thought I was getting wearing a chest strap for 2 days straight.  So, I could've used MFP for free to get the info Garmin acted like it was providing and not paid $200 for it.

The move bar is a joke.  The first full day I did this, I was on my feet and moving in the kitchen for well over 90 minutes.  It did not record a single bit of that movement toward my goal because it forces  you to get up and walk continuous steps.  I'm talking you cannot even pause or it won't count and you have to somewhat exaggerate your arm movements as well.  Can you cheat it if say you're on a conference call and can't get up?  Yep.  Just wildly wave your arm in the air for at least 30 seconds.  We did it for testing purposes and were disappointed you could cheat it.  One of the main reasons I got it was because the commercials make it seem like when the move bar goes off when you're inactive for an hour that it alerts more than once.  It doesn't...until an hour later.  Then it only requires you to move more to get it to go off.

The pedometer is also laughable.  You know the thing that counts your steps and is basically what the whole band revolves around goal wise?  When I can go to the bathroom and it counts 30 steps according to the pedometer when I've only walked 5 actual steps in the time I looked at the band, how can I honestly believe the data I'm getting?  Like any pedometer, if you're driving in a car, it counts at least 100 steps even though no steps were taken.

The final straw for me was when I did my second workout and it was a hard one.  I wore the new band and my old HRM which was working fine for me.  I did update my old HRM with the most current info for my maximum heart rate which is based off of my age and activity level (I always list as sedentary).  I checked both devices throughout the workout and any time they didn't match  perfectly heart rate wise, they were within 1-2 beats either way so I considered that accurate.  What wasn't accurate?  My calories burned!  The VivoSmart said despite me being in high zone 3 for most of the workout and dripping with sweat afterward that I burned 465 calories and my old HRM said I burned 866 calories!  Uh...pardon?  I have tested my old HRM and another brand we have as a back up and they match.  So now I really can't believe what I'm seeing.  The Mr's numbers were also off by about 25% which is a lot for him.

We were completely unimpressed on too many levels to be able to justify keeping it.  The fact that you can't even look down to see what calories you burn after a workout much less not knowing if the numbers you're seeing are right, is just too much for me to keep it.  In addition to that it wouldn't stay paired with our tablets and it was all way more trouble than it's worth.

I will stick with the HRM I have and the Mr has ordered a new strap for his.  For cautions sake, I will maybe subtract 200 calories off super high burn workouts for me even though I feel I earned every calorie burn and see if I get better results after the first of the year when weight loss over maintenance becomes our goal again.

I was irritated but not for myself, for the Mr.  He did so much research on this and to have it fail so completely for our needs is a real bummer.  There are some people who love it but ultimately it gets 3 1/2 stars on most review sites and that's no higher than our current HRM's get.  Given how much more it is, not worth it for our purposes and how we use HRM info.  If others like it and it helps them, good on them.  It just doesn't meet our needs and that money is better in my pocket than theirs right now.  If they fix quite a few things and drop the price, then we might give them another shot but until then, we'll stick with what we've got.

I'm a basic info person, I don't need all of that data and moreover I don't need data I don't feel I can trust 100%.

I will stick with traditional heart rate monitors because they get the same ratings as these fancy, expensive brands.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mall walkers, English rose and Grinch time

Yesterday we had some pretty mild temps so I figured we'd better catch some walks when walking weather presents itself.  This time we thought we'd tackle the local outdoor shopping plaza.  Yes...we were mall walkers.  Anyone remember that craze in the early 90's of the elderly walking malls before the stores opened?

I cannot tell you how nice it was to be among the throngs of people darting in and out of stores with their must purchase gifts knowing I've been done for 6 weeks.  I know that for some people shopping closer to Christmas is half the fun but I am just not built that way.  I need to be able to leave if people start to annoy me.   Which always never happens.

We walked about 2 1/2 miles around the perimeter and then backtracked and hit a few stores.  I did have one gift I wanted to pick up in Anthropologie and since I knew we'd be there, I left my hands feeling like sandpaper.  (Anyone else feel like they could sand an old wooden bench with their hands?)  I love to sample their sassy lotions and oh my Lord I put on their English Rose lotion and couldn't stop sniffing my hands for 4 hours!  Heavenly.  I'm gonna have to wait for a sale because I just can't bring myself to pay $22 for it given the size.  Either that or I'm going to just go there every day and use their sample.  You don't think they'll catch on, do you?  Hee hee.

We came home and I made dinner...spicy orange BBQ mahi burger and potato wedges.

Then it was time to settle in with a cup of decaf tea and two egg nog cookies I budgeted for to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas .


The real version, not that atrocity with Jim Carrey.  I caught a glimpse of it before bed the other night and thought I would have nightmares!

I solidified my final Christmas visit and now I need to get to menu planning/deciding what restaurants to go to if the culinary muse doesn't strike.  Luckily there's a whole slew of restaurants opening in our area so I don't think we'll be at a loss.

We have to really soak in all of this week because from Sunday to Friday, it is going to be crazy cakes around here!  I can't believe in 10 days it's all going to be over.  :-(

Do you ever walk non-conventional places for your workouts?  What is your favorite scent of lotion?

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Cookies, brunch and almost minus a digit

Twas quite the weekend!

As I mentioned Friday, our friends had to cancel our Saturday gathering because they were both sick as dogs.  I turned around and made plans right away with another friend for a Sunday brunch.  She's a super sweet girl who almost married into the family but that didn't work out.  Thankfully we have kept in touch and get together on occasion.  She mentioned my baking and I decided to bake up her and her boyfriend some non traditional cookies.  I don't know how but I saw a recipe for potato chip cookies and I was totally intrigued.  I decided I had to make some and I'd let her be the guinea pig, we'd eat a few and the rest go to work with the Mr.  I followed this recipe and man, they were GOOD!  If you're a fan of sweet and salty, they are awesome.  I told her they were 'sweet and salty shortbread cookies' because I don't know if people will weird out when they know the ingredients.  So I dipped mine in chocolate and sprinkled a little French fleur de sel I had on hand.  That extra little kick of salt was perfect.



I made quite the spread because she likes my cooking so much.  I made challah egg nog French toast and billionaires bacon.  (Spicy brown sugar bacon)



That was pre-coating them in a little brown sugar.  Yes, I made sure to remove the calories ahead of time.  ;-)

Luckily I bought extra of everything because something told me she might bring her boyfriend this time and I was right.  Just as she was leaving she asked if it was okay to bring him.  He is so nice and we had such a good time.  They also made us feel so old like when they learned our wedding pics were taken on film.  Yep, that's right.  We all had to stand there for 20 minutes while the man used the fire stick and kept the shutter open to get our expressions and hoped the black plague didn't kill anyone in the wedding party while we waited.  HA!

She's a budding photographer and I saw this cute mug with a vintage camera on it so I picked it up for her and when she mentioned my baking, I made 6 different kinds of cookies for them and a packet of my not yet patented perfect cup of hot cocoa.  Here's a sneak peek into one of their boxes of cookies.


The hug I got was worth it.  Might I say those 'Delightful Fudgies' are friggin' awesome?  Just follow my ChocoRolo Cookie recipe but instead of using Rolos use Delightful's peanut butter chocolate chips.  Holy Lord.  I mean they were all good but those were some of our favorites.  We skipped a traditional dinner that night for trying each kind of cookie.  Quality control calories don't count, right?

Oh yeah, if you'd like to know what true horror is, you can do what I did to make me think I'd be losing my 2nd toe...


It was more red than that when I peeled off my compression socks after a day full of baking.  It actually looked like it had cut completely through my toe.  I felt about halfway through the day what felt like my toe knuckle rubbing pretty bad.  I thought it was just rubbing against the material but didn't have time to tend to it.  Finally after 6 hours of this feeling I couldn't take it and pulled off the sock to find somehow one of MY HAIRS off of my head got wrapped around my toe and stuck to the left over Blister Blocker adhesive in there and it had been slowly cutting off the circulation to my toe all day.  I looked in horror and between almost fainting and almost screaming in terror from it looking like it was going to fall off, I had the thought to get peroxide.  "I'll dump peroxide on it and if it bubbles then we'll see if I need stitches and I'll scream to alert the Mr and then faint."  Thankfully there were no bubbles.  It took about 3 hours to return to normal.  And yes, even with stitches in my foot...brunch would've gone on.  I'm that dedicated of a host, y'all!

After they left, we both got hit by a wall of exhaustion and took a 30 minute nap.  I got up and nudged the Mr to get up for a walk around the historic district.  I think we were able to make it another 30 minutes before feeling like we wanted to cut our legs off so I think the walks are working!  The lights were all lit up and it was almost dusk when we were done.

Then it was off to the grocery store to pick up some fruit and veggies.  Then home for dinner and since my sassy Pottery Barn Santa Mugs came 2 days EARLY, we were able to enjoy our Sunday hot cocoa in them whilst watching Home Alone 2!



Yes...I made those snowman marshmallows.  I saw their pricier brother at Williams Sonoma and made some for us and friends.  :-)   I'm the original Christmas nerd, what can I say.

What did you guys do this weekend?

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Get off my lawn and what I'm reading this week

Yesterday's visit with the chiro went well.  He told me no high impact the rest of the year since I had such great results laying off this week.  I don't mind and he said it'll just help me heal that much faster and I'm all about that, yo!  Must make him some cookies for next week too.  I know...it's a sickness.  When I know they're for someone else, I'm not tempted by them so no worries.   Yet.

On a doing mama proud note, the Mr caught one of the little bastards that has been molesting our curbside lighted Christmas trees yesterday!  Like IN THE ACT.  He gave him a good little 1970's style tongue lashing that will mean absolutely nothing because his parents likely would do nothing if confronted with his misdeeds.  He even broke the one he pulled out of the ground and we just bought those damn things 2 1/2 weeks ago!  NOT happy!  We think he was one of four that have been yanking it out of the ground as I saw three others walk by a few minutes later to stop and read the "Smile!  You're on camera!" sign we have posted by them.  I alerted the Mr and he ran to the door like Scrooge minus the cane to whack them all with.  So we are settling into the "get off my damn lawn" phase of life quite nicely.  He made me proud!

But enough of all of that, let's get to...



8 Ways to Lose Weight While You Sleep  (Sign me up yo!  Actually that new fitness tracker says I burned 700 cals whilst sleeping.  I think I'd have to subtract 50 calories for the laughing I did in the first few minutes of tracking.)

12 Things You Might Not Know About "The Twelve Days of Christmas"  (That's a lot of friggin' birds is all I know.  I'd be eating well for the first half of the year!)

Time Your Strength Training and Cardio for Better Sleep!  (I don't know if there's any truth to this voodoo but might be something to try if you're in a plateau.)

30 Homemade Food Gifts for the Holidays  (Give the gift of yum!)

WestJet Christmas Miracle: Spirit of Giving  (They did it again!  *sniff*)

2014: The Year Seniors Put Our Gym Routines to Shame  (I wanna be them when I grow up)

Time capsule homes from the 1930s to the 1980s  (Flippin' awesome!)

How to Stop Internet Ads From Ruining Your Holiday Gift Surprises  (Good info to know this time of year!)

'Biggest Loser' Star Rachel Frederickson on Life After Controversial Win  (Poor thing couldn't win for winnin')

Dad Speaks Out After 21-Year-Old Sues Him to Pay College Tuition  (Oh man, this chaps my arse)

10 Adorable Free Holiday Printables  (SUPER cute tags!  I've printed a few mahself!)

Playing With My Son:  An experiment in forced nostalgia and questionable parenting  (Courtesy of the Mr and we both agree this would be us.  Actually if we had a kid, it would be forced to watch old school cartoons and TV shows until it went to school and would ask other kids if they saw Tom & Jerry Saturday or watched the new episode of Mork and Mindy)

19 Secrets of UPS Drivers  (Stop trying to seduce them...they have a schedule to keep)

Why the Holidays Smell So Good (According to Science)    (Makes a lot of sense!)

'Comfyballs' Underwear Denied Trademark Because 'Balls'  (I still can't imagine sitting on balls all day.  But sorry even that or a soft grazing bringing a dude to his knees doesn't compare to monthly visitors, pushing humans out of your hoo-ha and menopause.)

Well, we got the word last night that our friends we were getting together with tomorrow night are both sick with two kinds of creeping crud between them.  The Mr talked to the male half and said he sounded like crap and it's definitely something we don't want to catch this holiday season so we'll get together in January.  But a few minutes later I made brunch plans with a friend for Sunday morning so we'll be having egg nog French toast.  I have to bake some cookies for her so I'd better make a few more doughs today and choose what I'm going to make.  She mentioned my baking specifically so it's not optional and I'm glad for it because when you get a rep from someone who appreciates it, you like to deliver.  Well, I do.  :)

Whatchu got planned this weekend?  All business or tomfoolery or a healthy mix of both?

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

A rump full of holly

Happy "Is It Friday Yet?!"

Yesterday I started feeling the stress of all of the entertaining I have coming up.



I love to entertain, trust me, I live for it, but there just aren't enough weekends in December when Thanksgiving is so late.  I need to make a to do or rather a 'to bake' list and when everything needs to be made.  I've got butter softened so I can start pre-making my cookie dough and freeze it.  I will be glad when those things are all in the freezer and I can just thaw, scoop and bake.  I cannot believe it's two weeks until Christmas.  SO much to do and seemingly so little time to do it.  Just need to finalize a few visits and I can plan a little better and make my lists on what to buy at the grocery stores.

We started to do Powerstrike and I realized a few moves into the kicks that this was not going to be good for my vow of low impact for the rest of the year to heal up.  I felt a little pain shoot into my toe and while I might've been able to handle it, I don't want to yo yo on the road to recovery.  I want to recover and be done with it.  I know this is the WORST time of year to have to cut back on jumping around but I have to listen to the bod so I don't continue being 'little Moe with the gimpy leg.'  So I let the Mr jump around and I did Walk Away the Pounds moves while he finished Powerstrike.  I felt like such a loser, I almost cried.  I know he doesn't see me that way but I feel like I'm holding him back if he does my lower impact workouts.  So I may just start working out during the day and he can do whatever his normal body can handle when he gets home.  Pity...party of one.

I surprised the Mr with this fitness tracker he wanted.  His heart rate monitor has been on the fritz the past month and I finally got tired of hearing it.  I told him if bitching about his crappy HRM burned calories then he was burning a lot.  HA!  I got one for myself as well and to say I hate it with everything in me is an understatement.  I am going to give it one week (okay, probably today after screwing with it all night) to see if I change my mind before I bash it with authority and send it back.  He can keep his if he wants but I have never had an HRM where you do your workout and you can't even look down and see how many damn calories you burned.  I mean for real?!   That is the most basic of functions and this is supposed to be top of the line!?  Then we're both fairly certain that the calorie count is WAY off and the forums seem to confirm this.  I hate this thing...it comes straight from Satan's fiery taint, I tell you.

I was so frustrated by the time I was done dealing with that thing and taking my frustration with it out on anyone in 5 yards...aka The Mr...I didn't have the time or patience to make what I had planned for dinner so I switched it to BBQ chicken, sweet potato and carrots.  It was quite yummy though.

Today is my weekly with the chiro.  Zap me, talk some ball and rake my shins.  $40 please!  It's a crock that insurance doesn't cover anything.  Oh they'd cover for 12 visits if I had spinal issues but legs...no dice.  Rat bastard insurance companies.

Sorry, I've got a sprig of holly up my butt today.  I don't mean to be a downer.

via
What baking is on your list for the season?  Do you make 'to do lists' to help you through the holidays?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rudolph, zucchini switch and Santa mugs

It's hump day, y'all!  

Did anyone watch the 50th anniversary Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer last night?  It doesn't matter how many times I've seen it, it's appointment TV every Christmas season.  Who can resist that face?

(via)
I was reading a post by my friend Kristen at the Putt Putt Runner about taking in moments.  She makes good points about taking in not just the big things like the holidays, occasions and such but the little things.  She talked about even being able to go to the grocery store and that some people have to go hours to get groceries and I've got four grocery stores in walking distance of me.  I'm also grateful that the Mr and I go together.  I never realized how rare that supposedly is because when I would mention it at work people always asked how I got him to do it.  Uh, I said 'let's go to the store' and he came with me.  But her post got me thinking of my favorite little moments of the past few days.  When we were on our walk yesterday, I was following just behind him because parts of the sidewalk were narrow or we'd be close to passing someone.  At one point he said "I don't know who you are but you've been following me for 23 years and I hope you don't stop."  :-)  Last night my favorite moment was when I was seductively putting on my granny compression socks before our workout and sang Robert Palmer's "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" and he cracked up laughing.  It's little moments like those that make life fun and I thank Kristen for reminding me to enjoy those.

I burned 425 calories doing a free weight session.  Then I tried a new version of a favorite.  I know we will never cut out pasta but I thought I'd try that whole replacing half of your pasta with zucchini thing.  So I measured out four ounces of whole wheat pasta and did as much of a zucchini on my mandoline as I could, shaved 1/2 ounce of balsamic cheddar and made chicken parm.



It really helped bulk it up and cut 200 calories from the dinner so I think that'll work in the future.  (Especially in the summer when zucchini is plentiful!)


Oh and I couldn't help myself, I had to break down and buy my coveted Santa Claus mugs from Pottery Barn.

(via)
They were the gift of the day with 30% off yesterday and were the lowest I've seen them.  When I checked the pattern, I saw two of the items were sold out.  I called my local store and they said all of the local area stores are out and won't be getting more in.  OY!  See, this is always goes for me...I wait for the prices to drop and then go to buy it on sale and it's sold out.  Every. Friggin'. Time.  So I bit the bullet and even with shipping I'd save $7.  Not quite the savings I wanted but I suspect hot cocoa will taste 110% better in these.

What was your favorite little moment from yesterday?  Do you ever say you're going to buy something and when you go back to buy it, it's sold out and you try to kick your own butt?

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grave error, wonky walk and macaron munch

Howdy do, y'all!

I'm not ashamed to admit I didn't haul my bum outta bed until 10am yesterday!  That's right.  I slept hard too.  I'm paying for it but needed the sleep.  Walking for 90 minutes on up and down terrain at a pretty fast clip was enough to make us both a little sore.  So we got up and had a bowl of cereal with some cut up nana and chia seeds in there and lounged a bit.

The Mr took the movie back, we decided to eat some lunch and get to a belated task.  Our dog and my mom's dog are buried next to each other in a pet cemetery and we always have their Christmas trees on their graves at Thanksgiving.  Time got away from us this year but we made it out and wired some small stuffed animals they would've loved playing with on them and got them looking all purty.  It brings us great comfort to know that not only were they great friends in life but will be next to each other forever.

When we were done there, we decided to go walk the historic district some more to keep on the low impact route this week and next while I heal up.  While it is low impact, those wonky sidewalks are like doing 3 1/2 miles on a balance board.  I wore my granny compression socks so I could reduce any impact on my legs if possible.  Because the patisserie we pass only has gingerbread macarons for the next 2 weeks, we had to stop.


Hey, it's almond flour and egg whites, it's practically healthy right?  HA!  Well, being it's like 2", we didn't feel guilty.  I'm not a macaron girl but that flavor was wonderful, so I'm glad we tried it.

We took the long way home and were bummed to see so many people have gotten lazy and not put up Christmas lights.  I'd say more people don't have any up than do.  It's really sad.

I made dinner when we got home.


Stuffed flounder over thai lime rice and green beans.

We caught up on the DVR a bit and then it was time to watch Scrooged.  Man I love that movie!

Do you like macarons?  What's your favorite flavor?

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Yuletide weekend

Twas quite the weekend around here!

Friday we went to a Christmas jazz show and it was wonderful.  It really set the holiday mood and the city was lit up under the foggy blanket over the buildings.  We came home and put on the Christmas music station, lit some pine incense, turned on the tree and any other lighted decoration and enjoyed a mug of tea and a truffle.  It was exactly one of those times that I talked about being able to sit back and enjoy the season.  It was perfect.  If every day felt like that, I wouldn't feel the stress the rest of the season brings at all!

Saturday we hit a few local stores, grabbed some deep dish at a pizza joint then headed on our road trip to more Christmas tomfoolery.  We stopped by an antique store where I'm pretty sure these come to life at night.


We've been going to these candle lightings our whole marriage and sadly, the town is morphing from an old timey feel to just a regular mom and pop any town USA feel.  The same stores are rarely there two years in a row.  We think the last old fashioned shop will likely be gone next year and if that's the case, we don't think we'll make a trip back.  We did luck out and have really nice people next to us this year instead of the usual screaming child, stumbling drunk hilljack, indifferent teens trying to pull of how lame it is to be there yet they're all there so just admit you like it since no one is holding a gun to your heads and shut up jerks or the sick person coughing their disease all over us.  Having someone come up and stand beside us and wish us a Merry Christmas was like "holy crap!  Did something normal just happen!?  You mean, no drunk Santa this year??"  Yep...it happened about 10 years ago.


We got home and watched some football then headed to bed.  I am happy to report I got the best night's sleep I've had in a long time which is always the way to start what could be the most interesting day of your weekend.

Lunch with the in-laws.

It's not that it's bad, it's just awkward sometimes.  You never know what will be said and how others will choose to react so you just kind of go in feeling like an emotional kamikaze and hope everyone comes out unscathed in the end.  It seemed we all walked away with no therapy appointments necessary so...yay!  His mom wants to get together again before Christmas.  I don't think she realizes it's like 2 1/2 weeks away!

When that was done, we did a little shopping, chilled for a bit then headed out to see Christmas lights.  We hoped with it being Sunday there would be less people than Friday or Saturday.  It was a lie.  I about froze my nubbins off but it was pretty just the same.


I don't know why we felt compelled to rent Tammy but we did.  I enjoyed Susan Sarandon in a different role.  I was irritated at first that Melissa McCarthy seemed to be playing the same character she does in every movie but thankfully the last third of the movie turned around and it was actually quite sweet.  So, $1.50 well spent.

Today, the Mr took the day off to breathe from all of that activity.  I'd like to clean up a bit since we're having company this weekend and I don't want to be doing it all on Friday.

I'm looking forward to sleeping in and doing whatever the heck I want today!  WOOT!

What did y'all do this weekend?

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Dialin' it back and what I'm reading this week

Finally Friday y'all!

I am under orders from the chiro to dial back the exercise intensity for a few days.  I made the stupid mistake of piling on a bunch of high impact stuff when I felt better and woke in pain and unable to walk in the middle of the night.  Oy, the road to recovery is always so fun.  Not.

But enough of that crap, let's get to...





11 Restaurant Scams That Sabotage Weight Loss  (Those sneaky bastards)

Sleepy Hollow LOL Video: Silly Clips Imagine Headless at Home  (I almost wee'd at the dinner music video.  But go to Neil's channel and watch the Oz video as well as some of his songs.  Totally talented)

25 festive life hacks for a stress-free holiday  (Some are good, others like #2...please don't ever do.  Ever)

48 Healthier Holiday Cookie Recipes  (Yummy!)

The Dirty Spots that Can Damage Your Home (and How to Clean Them)  (Yeah, I totally need to do the A/C and dryer vent)

27 Things You Might Not Know About 'Christmas Vacation'  (For fans of the holiday Griswolds)

25 Life Lessons Written by a 99-Year-Old Man  (Spread the wisdom, yo)

The Massive Fitness Trend That's Not Actually Healthy at All  (Mama can't handle the hard stuff any more.  Sigh)

What to Buy (and Avoid Buying) in December  (Duly noted!)

Unplugged Weddings Are The Latest Craze  (As they should be.  Nothing worse as a bride and groom to look out to your loved ones during the ceremony and see nothing but phones and tablets staring back at you.  Some of the stories in this article are disturbing)

Lost Claus?  (Let's not let the Christmas card tradition die)

This Homeless Poodle Just Realized She’s Being Rescued  (Get out the tissues if you have a beating heart in your chest)

We're going to a holiday jazz concert tonight.  Tomorrow is a Christmas event and then Sunday is lunch with the in-laws.  Then Monday we'll collapse!

What's on the agenda for your weekend?  Do you send out Christmas cards?

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas time is here

I've been seeing a lot of lovely home tours lately of people's abodes all gussied up for Christmas.  Now I don't have some big ol' house to show you my many rooms, nooks and crannies because it's just the Mr and I and we live in a shoebox that is close to being paid off.  But that doesn't mean you can't come on in and sit a spell.  Hot chocolate is on the stove...come on in.

This is the project I've been eluding to the past few days...



I saw this picture on Country Living's website and given how much the Mr loves skiing and our recent stay in a skiing mecca of Stowe, VT, I knew I wanted to do it in our home.  Two days later, I was hunting through antique shows and stumbled upon this set of skis for $25!  One of them was stained but we can either keep them that way or when the season is over, I can strip the wooden skis and re-stain them.

I knew if I did the wreath on them it would add a ton more weight and cover the leather straps on the skis so we got this swag of greens to hang in the middle instead.  I also hung up some small ski art prints I picked up in Stowe and love the way it all came together.


You may remember what the mantel area looked like when I did the post about creating a Fall vignette.  Well, it was time to get a splash of Christmas!


Oh, let's not forget the tree...


Yes, I totally have a star on top and I like it that way.  It's how I always drew them as a kid and for me an angel, big bow or anything else won't do.  It's filled with red and opal white ornaments as well as some shiny ornaments from our travels.  I put the travel ornaments that didn't go with my motif on a smaller tree I'll show you in a few.

But let's get back to the mantel.

I decided to keep the birch tube vase and added some fresh greens, two sprigs of sparkly holly from World Market, a couple of pine cones and an antique sheet music paper chain.  The candle smells like pine so it's nice to light and take in the smell of Christmas when I go nose blind to the greens.



On the window, I used a 6" candle ring centerpiece with fir, cedar and boxwood hung with a red ribbon.  Simple but still conveys the cozy feel of Christmas.


Of course I have to have up our old school ceramic tree we picked up last year!  I put it on a book just to vary the height a little and I love this sparkly candle with the poinsettia ring.  Don't worry, it's a battery-operated votive candle so no real flame has a chance of setting fire to the wreath.  They aren't cheap but were worth every penny.


This sparkly vintage Christmas bulb garland was a project last year and I loved it so much it made a return appearance this year.


I took my Fall flowers out of my coal bucket and replaced them with some birch logs, more World Market sparkly holly and a few ornaments.


The armoire is pretty simple this year.  I just put up a poinsettia swag I used to hang on the wall on top.


The little converted CD shelves house a couple of knick knacks.  On the left is a Santa drinking cocoa and a fireplace.  The bottom is a little putz house knock off I made last year.  You can lift the top off and put a faux votive in there.  On the right is a wooden Santa that holds candy canes that my work dad gave me for Christmas many years ago.  If you look behind him, you can see he's hiding our Christmas DVD's to watch.  On the bottom is a vintage hen that I painted with mirror spray paint and a decorative pine incense box.


On the top shelf is just a votive holder with some boxwood and faux berries.  There is a hole in the back of the armoire so I used a vintage tin lid to cover it.


On to the other armoire...


Let's take a look at each shelf.  On the top is the white nativity scene I've had since before the Mr and I were married.  It's from Christmas Around the World.  Anyone remember that company?  On the top shelf is a J O Y decoration I made a few weeks ago with antique sheet music, ribbon and sparkly glitter.  There's a small birch tube with fresh greens and this gigantor pine cone we got from the nursery.  It's way too big for the shelf but I have nowhere else to put it right now so we'll deal with it for this year.



On the second shelf is another tin lid, some porcelain carolers I've had forever in front of a bottle brush tree.  I also have my grandma's gumdrop tree up as well.


On the bottom shelf is my sewing drawer I did, a cloche full of vintage ornaments and bulbs with fairy lights and small stack of vintage books and of course another tin lid.


I tied together the Christmas colored books with jute twine secured with a jingle bell and pine cone.


The other tree with the travel ornaments was stuck in a vintage cookie tin and put in a corner on an old stool.  That area needed a little Christmas...right this very minute.


Because I like simple wreaths, I just decorate with a string of faux berries.  Because our weather is so unpredictable and the front door is in direct sunlight, I hang it inside most of the time and when we're expecting company, I'll flip it to the front of the door to welcome guests.  You may also recognize the quick craft project of the hanging tea towel on the wall.  I still need to twist the top a bit to hang it higher.


That's about it!

Now, let's plug in the tree, grab some hot cocoa and gab by the fire!


What colors do you use to decorate?  Do you have a "theme" or a mish mash of things collected over the years?

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