Friday, December 31, 2010

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne.

Today on our long, long trip home we heard on Sirius radio that nobody knows the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne." Everybody sings, "Should auld acquaintance be forgot hmmm mmm mmm mmm mmm..." until they trail off.

I know the lyrics. All of them. Before I pat myself on the back for knowing one of our nation's most famous songs (I mean who doesn't hear that song every NYE), I must admit I only know it because it's on the soundtrack for Sex & the City (the first movie). Ha! :)
Last year, Christopher and I rang in 2010 by going out to a fancy pants dinner. We ate at a small restaurant that even had a jazzy lady singer and piano player serenade us. After, we went to our friends' housewarming/NYE party. We left our fancy clothes at home for some bonfire basics and tried on the NYE props.
This year, we have no such big plans or props. We spent on the day on the road, coming home from visiting Christopher's family. We unloaded all of my stuff from his car, obviously it had multiplied x48 since we had loaded his car last week. Our families were really good to us, and the clearance sales were reallly good to me! Christopher went home to relax, take a nap, and go for a run. I stayed home to relax, unpack, and... blog. :)

Our town puts on its very own ball drop. Last year, we were lucky enough to be taking Telula for a walk when it was getting set up. Let me say, this ball drop is a big deal. Like thousands of people come to see it from all around. What we saw last year confirmed the rumors of the ball drop.... the ball is indeed a huge ball of tin foil with light bulbs strung around it. Small towns get thrills from small things, I suppose. And what's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing! :) Tonight, our only plan is to watch the ball drop downtown while shivering in the frigid night air. We were only in northern Illinois, but it felt like we left spring and came back to find winter.

Soooo, Happy New Year! I am excited that this is the last year I will be kissing away the year as a single*. Next year, I'll be a married lady. :)

*I tease Christopher that we're still single. As in, when we fill out paperwork, we're neither divorced, widowed, or married. We'll be checking the single box for less than four more months!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From now on our troubles will be out of sight.

It's been a wonderful week. Christopher and I celebrated Christmas together on the eve of Christmas Eve. We went out to dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant, then exchanged presents.
Christopher and Bryan's tree
I got this pretty wrapping idea from here.

We celebrated Christmas Eve at Nonie's house (my mom's mom). It's been tradition in our family to eat French meat pie on Christmas Eve, a tradition that came from my grandfather's 100% French family (and Nonie is 100% Irish... how cool is that? Unheard of these days).

I love listening to the stories of their Christmases long ago. Nonie and Grandpa were both from Catholic families, so they couldn't eat all day Christmas Eve (Ember Days...a thing of the past in the Catholic faith now). They attended midnight mass - literally midnight, unlike today's 9:00pm "midnight" mass. With all their relatives, they bundled themselves up to stay warm in the cold Michigan night, and walked several long blocks to church. Nonie said they were like a parade going down the streets together. She still likes to laugh about her mother-in-law's skinny legs covered in layers of long underwear walking through the snow.

When they got home after their long Christmas mass, it would be two in the morning. Grandpa's mom would take the warm meat pies out of her wood stove (seriously, I have trouble keeping things warm when I can set things to a temperature... how did she do this?!) and they would feast like kings. The menu was always French meat pie, homemade baked beans, and pickles. Today, the menu remains the same. My brother and I agree that when we think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is meat pie.

This year was the first year without Grandpa with us. Nonie set up a memory tree with pictures of the loved ones that weren't at the table: Grandpa, Aunt Rosie, John, and my mom. It was beautiful, but it was sad. As we said our blessing, I saw many tears blinked back around the tables. I'm glad Grandpa was with my mom this year, but I'm selfish. I wish they were still with me.
Nonie is an amazing piano player.  She made me sing with her.  Embarrassing, but fun.

Christmas Day was spent at my grandparents on my dad's side. The tradition there is a Christmas brunch and then presents. The youngest always passes out presents. The baby of the family - my 18-year-old brother - was the little elf, as he has been for.... about 17 years. :) He wasn't thrilled, but he humored the family.
The day after Christmas, we headed to Illinois to be with Christopher's dad's family. We have relaxed, shopped, and had lots of fun visiting with his relatives we don't get to see as much as we'd like. We usually visit Illinois for Easter, but this year we'll be busy getting ready for our wedding (our WEDDING!) the following weekend.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"I want a hippopotamus for Christmas..."

"...only a hippopotamus will do!" What's on your list? I've been asking for a hippo for years to no avail. :)

Merry Christmas!

These are a few pics from last year. I can't wait to take more this Christmas. And french meat pie! My mouth is watering just thinking about what's to come today! :) Hope your Christmas is lovely!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Snow is falling down as you step out of your car..."

"...Presents in your arms and you've traveled far." Yup, I'm listening to Hanson Christmas (Snowed In) compliments of one of my good friends circa 1998. :)

Today was the LAST day of school until 2011. Finally! Highlights of the day: wrapping our gifts (coffee sweaters and chocolate-covered peppermint sticks & stirring spoons), a lesson on cribbage (fun game + math practice... score!), ice skating, and a little present exchange. I wrapped their presents in leftover newspapers (we're a Green School!) and decorated them with yarn. For a crazy day-after-the-Christmas-program-and-last-day-of-school-before-winter-break, it was fun. I got many compliments on how our snowflakes turned out. They're so pretty and so easy!

Our Christmas program went very well last night. My class had the best play. No bias. ;) It made for a looooong day for Teacher though. I was at school at 7:00am and didn't get home till after 10pm. Christopher came to watch the program. Since he doesn't get to visit my school very often, he makes a point of bringing flowers when he does visit. The girls were all oohing and ahhing over them. Thank you sweetheart. I love these sparkly orchids! The students also told Christopher that I talk about him all the time. At least they added that it's all good! :)

Christopher and I are doing our Christmas tomorrow night and I'm super excited. We'll be heading to my grandparents' houses for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then heading to his dad's house for the rest of Christmas break. It made sense to do our Christmas exchange before we left so we wouldn't have more presents to haul... well, unless we decide to bring our new stuff with us!

What I wore...Christmas program apparel:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Every other day of the week is fine

Pure. chaos.

That is how this week will be at school. My head is already spinning.

Today, we had a student recital for kids to show off their musical talents (I was amazed. We have some seriously gifted kids). We worked on Christmas presents for the kids' parents. We worked more on the presents while I read out loud. I troubleshooted the presents. We worked more on the presents.

You see, this year I had the brilliant idea to teach my students how to knit. Now that their presents are just about finished, I'm pretty ecstatic and totally proud of their hard work... but... it was a slow, nerve-wracking process. I was pretty worried their projects weren't going to be done on time. I shouldn't have second guessed them - my students always prevail, especially at Christmastime.

We're making their parents coffee sweaters. The fact that I taught myself how to knit by watching a youtube video (this video to be exact) and then considering myself an efficient enough knitter to teach my kids the next day? Probably not my best idea. But it worked. :)

We also have a Christmas program with the theme of our ancestors' traditions. My class is doing Mexican traditions. We've been practicing our play and creating a paper mache star to use as our pinata prop.  
Tomorrow will be our dress rehearsal and more presents for parents. We'll finish up our knitting projects, then make chocolate dipped peppermint sticks.

On Wednesday we're going to learn how to play cribbage and then ice skate in the afternoon.

And then it will be blessed, blissed, wonderful Christmas break. xoxo

What I wore...I felt Christmas-y because I had a red headband on. Does this happen to anyone else? :)
Headband: Charlotte Russe
Dress: Kohls (on clearance for $13!)
Shirt: Target
Tights: KMart
Shoes: Target
Belt: Kohls

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This has never happened before.

My best friend Holli came up to visit for the night. We went to a White Elephant Christmas party with Christopher and his brother Bryan. Holli had never participate in a white elephant exchange before. I was happy to explain to her the rules. We ran to St. Vinnie's to find her a fabulous gift to bring, but they were closed. I realized I had a few things in my very own basement I could get rid of so... we shopped at my house instead.

Holli had a really hard decision to make. Should she choose the Palm Pilot (that doesn't turn on), a complete outfit (from the bags of clothes I keep meaning to drop off at Goodwill), or a light up witch in a pumpkin or holographic cat?? She went with the holographic cat. Good choice, right?! I went with a manicure kit I had received last year at a different exchange.

The party was a lot of fun. Christopher and I left with 'real' gifts. He got an automatic ball return (for golf practice) and I got a bottle of Captain. Holli went home with rubber zebra print gloves, a poncho, and.... um... other stuff too. :) Bryan went home with the lovely manicure set that I had provided. I bet he's excited to try it out.......or wrap it for the next party he goes to! Either way!

After the party, Holli and I exchanged gifts. I love what she got me... but the highlight of the night was that for the first time ever, we got each other the same thing! As soon as she saw the box wrapped up, she knew what that part of her present was. Andes mint cookies.

Holli - Is that box on top edible?
Me - No! (I hate ruining gifts. I'm a horrible liar. I always give them away when asked.)
Holli - Are you sure?
Me - Why? (See, I caved immediately)
Holli - I think I know what it is. I think I gave you one too.
Me - Is it... something you've never seen before this year and something you were excited to find?
Holli - Yes. Is it something that is made from something else that we both love?
We compared boxes and burst out laughing.

So, if you haven't tried these... you need to. You're welcome. :)

What I wore...
Sweater: Charlotte Russe
Shirt: Target
Belt: Forever 21
Jeans: Kohls
Socks: Target
Boots: Steve Madden

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy birthday to you, this is your day.

Yesterday, was my man's birthday. 27! I can call him an old man for exactly one month and one day, since that is exactly how much younger I am than him. :)
Christopher's 26th birthday (last year)

In celebration of Christopher's changing of age, I made him a homemade ice cream cake. I'd never made one before, and he (and his coworkers) loved it. Success! (Ice cream cake was his request. Who wants ice cream cake in the middle of winter?! My man apparently.)
I had to leave for school (really) early, so I tricked him into picking up his cake at my house. I told him that I had forgotten to let Telula outside before I left. (Bad dog momma, huh?! Good thing I didn't actually forget). He found this sign on my bedroom door when he got to my place:
Just in case anyone else wanted the "recipe":
I made a (box) devil's food cake in a 9x13 pan. When it cooled, I cut it in half so that there were two thin layers of cake. I had envisioned making the end product into layers (cake/ice cream/cake/ice cream) but it was too thick for my pan, so I made two ice cream cakes instead.
I put one layer of cake down on the bottom of the pan. In a separate bowl, I mixed softened chocolate ice cream, cool whip (lite because... it made me feel better ha!), and half a box of crushed oreos. I put a thick layer using half of the ice cream mixture on top of the cake. Then I sprinkled more oreos on top and drizzled chocolate syrup all over. I did the same for the other ice cream cake.
Easy peasy and I keep getting awesome compliments on it. Had there been a Dairy Queen nearby, I would have just bought a cake. People have been saying it's even better than DQ cakes. Yay! Enjoy!! :o)

After work, I took him out to his favorite Italian restaurant. Every year, we talk about the fact that we only go to that restaurant once a year and decide we should go more often. And then it's his birthday again and we haven't been there in a year. :)

I was pretty tricky with his gifts this year. One of his presents was a golf shirt that I had actually bought when he was with me at the golf course last summer. He had an inkling at the time that I was hiding a shirt... but of course he forgot all about it since then. Yay!

Every birthday, he receives The Office's newest season on DVD. I was actually going to give it to him for Christmas this year, but he made a big deal out of it being tradition so I caved. :) With that, he got a card game called WHAC A MOLE. If you watched The Office last season, you will be in our little joke. Since Pam's sister "WHAC'ed" Angela, we've been reenacting the fun.

Happy birthday, Love. Hope your loved your day. :)

What I wore...
Shameless, I tell ya. I did not make that card for him. I just used it to pose.
Button down: Abercrombie
Sweater: hand-me-down from a coworker (Calvin Klein brand)
Pants: Old, old, old...
Shoes: New! Target
Pearls: Were my mom's

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow day!!!!! & THIRTY

I got a call last night to let me know that school was cancelled today! Seriously, I don't know what's better than a snow day being called off the night before! I jumped around my apartment squealing, "No school tomorrow! Snow day!" Even Telula, my golden retriever, joined in on the fun. I don't think I'll ever grow up. :)

Christopher and I had a delightful weekend. We took Telula to the doggy park, started adding things to our wedding registry, addressed a lot of our Save the Dates, got takeout from one of our favorite restaurants, and celebrated Christopher's birthday. His birthday is actually tomorrow, but Gizzae (a Chicago reggae band) was in town so we went to see them. Christopher got a picture with the lead singer the last time they were in town in August. The guy remembered him and where the picture was taken. I had to tease Chris that he's probably the only male that asks for a picture with the band.... :)

 This is what we wore (this was my first official night without the 30x30... and what did I choose? A 30x30 dress. Ridiculous! The cardigan was brand new that day though!):
Dress: Forever 21
Cardigan: Kohls
Leggings: Kohls
Socks: Target
Boots: Steve Madden

Last, but not least - outfit #30. I'd like to create a recap, but that's postponed until I figure out how! :)
Dress: Forever 21
Cardigan: Target
Jeans: Kohls
Shoes: Target
Belt: Target

Friday, December 10, 2010

Just when I was complaining about the snow... TWENTY-SEVEN, TWENTY-EIGHT, & TWENTY-NINE

...the scariest thing happened to me. For starters, I don't live in the town that I work in. My commute is about 30 miles. That means when it's nice out, it takes me about 30 minutes to get there... but I live in the great north. So, like, 80% of the year (I exaggerate. 78% of the year) it takes me much longer.

I'm a cautious driver and I'd rather get there late than not get there at all. When it's bad, I'll go 35 mph and let all the crazies pass me. (nerd alert...) I've got audio books to keep me company! :) Today, I "risked" it and went 42 mph. I was in a really straight stretch at this point, and I have no idea what caused the next part to happen.

All of a sudden, I was headed towards the ditch across the street. Panicked, I turned my wheel a bit, and I was headed towards the ditch on the right side of the road. Somehow I began spinning wildly around (two full turns). When I stopped spinning, I was driving in the correct lane in the direction I had been traveling.... but my car was backwards! Oh. my. goodness. Scared. to. death. Thank God there was no car headed in the other lane because we would have hit head on. There was a truck behind me, but they were able to slow down so as not to hit me. My hands shook for a good hour after that, and all I could do was repeat a prayer of gratitude that I was perfectly fine.

So much for my lucky week! Wait, maybe this was lucky? Since there were no cars in the other lane? Okay. Thank you God.

I like these remixes with this dress, but I think the last one looks incredibly short. I could never wear it to school, and I doubt I'd ever wear it anywhere out of my house! I'd like it better with black leggings underneath.

 Dress: Forever 21
Cardigan: Target
Leggings: Kohls
Boots: Younkers

 Dress: Forever 21
Cardigan: Target
Skirt: Forever 21
Flats: Target

 Dress as skirt: Forever 21
Shirt: Forever 21
Tights: Walmart
Flats: Target
Headband: Handmade by me!
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