35 Days of Celebration: 13

35 Days of Celebration: Day 13CardsI have no idea when I became a ‘send out Christmas Cards’ person. Well, I do, last year I believe I sent them out for the first time. I just don’t know how. Not that it matters much, I thoroughly enjoy doing it. Deciding what form the card will take is half the fun. I’m a nerd, but that’s okay.

Today I finished up the letter, the design, got them printed, cut, scored, stamped and stickered shut. All there is to do now is wait for the morning when I will drop them in the post. I think part of the reason I enjoy Christmas cards so much is through my process of creating my cards, I always look over the past year. Doing that, it’s easy to see that I have been very blessed this year. To some I may have a simple life, and that’s okay. It’s my life and not theirs, and I truly cherish the people that have been in my life this year and the experiences I had. Sappy? A bit, but again, that’s okay.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 & 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12

35 Days of Celebration: 12

35 Days12

Tonight’s movie was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Whoever heard of a skinny Santa Claus? Eat. Eat!Mrs. Claus

Boop!

Boop!

Ah, maybe Mrs. Claus is also a specter that floats around my house whispering this exact sentiment to me. I enjoy all the misfits, especially the elf that just wants to be a dentist. Not much to say, like Jack Frost, I enjoyed the visual effects, and it’s definitely a holiday staple.

Also, this is my 200th post. That’s kind of a big deal, right? Oh, and I’m 1/3 of the way through my 35 Days of Celebration and I’m beginning to get excited for the ‘big event’. Christmas. I’ll be lucky enough to see my out-of-state besties a couple of days before Christmas. I’m also hosting my family for Christmas Eve before we head to my parents place for Christmas Day. So until then I’ll continue to hang out with Rudolph and the other misfits. They’re my kind of people.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 & 08 | 09 | 10 | 11

35 Days of Celebration: 11

35 Days of Celebration: Day 11

HouseI knew it would happen, I would do some more decorating. Considered it was snowing all day, I was put in a ‘white Christmas mood’ and it was easy to feel jolly. As I decorated it started to see a theme. If there are materials I have in abundance they are 1) ornaments and 2) glasses. Decorations_2They are everywhere; on the dining room table, the bookshelf, the living room table…just all over the place. However, as I’ve come to realize, cluttered is a bit my style. Just yesterday I was discussing with my mother how my living room always looks messy, no matter how much I have everything cleaned up. My mother than informed me of a distinction: messy and cluttered are different. Instantly I felt better. Funny how easily that happens.

I was surprised by my parent’s offer to help me scoop my drive. They really are just too kind. The first time it snowed it took me 45ish minutes to scoop my driveway, maybe longer. I came to the obvious conclusion that I have the longest in town driveway in the world and that Guinness should promptly be notified. However with the three of us it took only about 15-20 minutes. Strength in numbers.

Dad‘What is that on your hat’
Me‘Jack Skellington. He’s a character from Nightmare Before Christmas…you know, because I’m an adult.’

DinnerOriginally I planned to have french toast and cocoa for my first themed supper. I feel like french toast isn’t the same unless you use texas toast. I was not stocked with such bread, so instead I had pancakes. Of course, I had to have them in the shape of snowflakes to match the snowy day, and with powdered sugar to make the scene complete. Similar to the ‘Sunday Snowflakes’ that my mom would make for us when we were younger. To this day if I have french toast with powdered sugar I call them Sunday Snowflakes. Embarrassing if you are having them on a Tuesday night. However it would have worked today. Even with the pancake exchange it was a fun dinner indeed.

Until next time

~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 & 08 | 09 | 10

35 Days of Celebration: 06

35 Days6Tonight I tried to assemble and decorate a gingerbread house. Keyword: tried. I purchased a kit from Target because it looked like a laugh. When I opened it I saw that half the pieces were broken into two at least, and some were in more than that. Now I enjoy a challenge as much as the next person, so of course I kept going. I tacked together the roof pieces and started assembling the walls. Then my frosting was punctured and it got a whole lot harder. Again, I kept going. Finishing the walls I prepared to add the roof. Gingerbread HouseFor a few moments I thought I had it. Then the worst occurred and the roof gave way. Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. For the best, I suppose. I really didn’t need those sweets lying about and it was a laugh. Fun while it lasted. Perhaps I’ll try again on another night, but use graham crackers. Those will be a little easier to manage I think.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05

The holidays are coming and I’m getting excited!

35 Days of CelebrationIntroducing my plan for the 35 Days of Celebration! Last year I almost made it through blogging about my 41 Days of Celebration, but towards the end got a little too preoccupied. Last year (which can be found here, here, here or here) I did a LOT of cooking with a classic, baking, & watching Doctor Who (which is NOT a bad way to spend the season). This year will be slightly different, but still some of the same. Now since I didn’t quite get all of the days posted last year I’ll see if I can make it through this time around. Once again have a LOT planned. Something everyday from Thanksgiving (November 28) through New Year’s Day. This is merely an introductory post, so if you are looking for a list of Holiday ideas (like I was) I hope this serves as a good reference and generates some fun ideas. Here are the days they I’ve compiled from various blogs and sites as I have them planned out right now. Granted these are as if I were to live a simple hermit life, which, as a lack of posts over the last six months implies, I don’t quite live anymore.

The list:

  1. Go Christmas Tree Hunting & Thanksgiving
  2. Atkins Thanksgiving (extended family)
  3. Create a Christmas Music Mix (to be listening to for the month)
  4. Holiday Movie Night #1
  5. Wrap Christmas Presents
  6. Make a Gingerbread (or Graham Cracker) House
  7. Holiday Movie Night #2 & Make paper chains/snowflakes
  8. Make Homemade Ornaments
  9. Decorate Christmas Tree
  10. Decorate House
  11. French Toast & Hot Chocolate for Dinner
  12. Design Paper Nativity Scene
  13. Holiday Movie Night #3
  14. Design & Mail Out Christmas Cards
  15. Bake Christmas Cookies
  16. Decorate Christmas Cookies
  17. Make a Fort & Holiday Movie Night #4
  18. Red & Green Food Day
  19. Go Ice Skating
  20. Make a Snow globe
  21. Make Stocking Stuffers
  22. Cook Christmas Fudge
  23. Holiday Movie Night #5 & Sleepover Under the Christmas Tree
  24. Candlelight Fancy Dinner
  25. Make Dipped Pretzels
  26. Holiday Movie Night #6 (I have a lot of holiday movies thanks to my family)
  27. Read the Christmas Story
  28. Christmas Day with the Family
  29. Chestnuts Over an Open Fire (Marshmallows too!!)
  30. Hot Chocolate & Candy Canes
  31. Make Hot Chocolate Balls
  32. Holiday Movie Night #7
  33. Make Homemade Mulled Wine
  34. Holiday Movie Night #8 & Make New Year’s Resolution
  35. Take Down Decorations While Having a Christmas Music Dance Party

That’s the plan, but I’m sure that my friends and family will alter and enhance the plan. In fact I know of a work tradition (going on the tour of homes) that is missing. Oh well, looks like I’ll double up more.

Until next time
~ Q

41 days of Celebration: Days 5-15

Day 5: Monday, November 26: Mani-pedi Day – not
The plan was to give myself a manicure and pedicure on Monday night. Really embrace the green and red and the only time of year you can really get away with wearing them together. Only instead I got the biggest surprise to date (I would say of the entire time, but who knows what next week will bring). I was stricken with an 15 hour flu. I started getting really tired at about 4 at work. Then I went home at my usual time (5:30) and was sick and in bed by 6. I told myself I would only nap until 7, ha. When 7 came around I was still under the weather so I just stayed in bed. Hours later I was awake convincing myself that it was the middle of the night. I was convinced it was like 5, but told myself it was probably only 2. When I finally broke down and checked the clock I believe it was 10. Yeah, that was the longest night ever. To my nephew, the germinator, you win. I think getting the entire immediate family sick trumps me giving my sister her second bout of Chicken pox. Although considering she was on vacation in Denver when it struck she would likely disagree.

Day 6: Tuesday, November 27: Christmas Card prep
I had this elaborate idea for my Christmas card. Last year I did a timeline-esque design. This year I thought about making it look like my Facebook timeline, complete with some of the posts, but since that evening have since changed my mind. So in the end that night just didn’t really count. I’m still working on my own idea, I had originally planned to mail them out yesterday, but we’ll see how long it takes me to finish. Next Monday is my new goal. Fingers crossed.

Day 7: Wednesday, November 28: WHO Wednesday: The Christmas Invasion
Poor London, always getting attacked around the holidays. Since Doctor Who is in it’s seventh revival season there are certainly enough Christmas’ specials to last until Christmas. First up was The Christmas Invasion. I’ve seen it before, but it’s always fun to go back and see the tenth doctor’s first adventure, even if he sleeps through most of it. How can you not appreciate an episode that has the hero sleeping most of the way through, then wakes to save the day in his pajamas while quoting The Lion King. Few shows can get away with such antics and I’m glad Doctor Who is one of them. Also I also enjoy who it makes you scared of Christmas stuff. For example this one had attacking Christmas Trees controlled by evil Santas. What a great way to spread Christmas cheer.

Day 8: Thursday, November 29: Decorate/Create Tree
I had planned to decorate my tree on Thursday, but my volleyball team decided to get together to play before tournament started on Friday so the task was postponed to Friday/Saturday. However I will say that sometimes my apartment lease makes me sad. No cats, no pets of any kind (including fish – it was very specific) and no live Christmas Trees. I’m sure there are other restricitions I’m ignoring right now, but those are the two that hit me most often. Since I’m not well-versed in the art of reanimation to make myself my own cat I decided to make my own non-living Christmas. As is the case now a days I got the inspiration from Pinterest.

Day 9: Friday, November 30: Movie Night
Once I’ve padded my Christmas’ movie collection I’ll be able to watch proper movies, but Friday I watched Someone Like You. It is in no way a Christmas movie, but there is one scene that takes place at a Christmas Party. That must have been my justification when I threw it in the mystery bag last month. While watching the non-Christmas movie I built the base of my Christmas Tree. Using a broken IKEA floor lamp (I should say that the light works, I just broke the paper lantern cover that use to surround it – not to tarnish IKEA’s reputation), chains, wire, and lights I made my own version of the tomato cage tree.

Day 10: Saturday, December 1: Cooking and a Classic
After sleeping in a bit I headed to our local thrift store, Affordables, to supplement my Christmas Light collection. They had a ton of icicle lights (whcih I didn’t have any of) and I’m quite fond of the result. The icicles helped fill in some of the more obvious gaps and it still works as a fairly bright source of light in the living room, especially if I turn on the light properly ChristmasTree(which is not the case in the picture). Win-win. Oh, and I still get to decorate a real tree. In a couple weeks my parent’s will be getting theirs so it’s really is the best of all worlds. I just can’t decide if I want to add ornaments to my ‘tree’ or not. However that thought shall be set aside for another day.

I also flip-flopped my standard Sunday with Saturday and did my cooking and a classic. This week I made Grinch Cookies, Mint Kisses and Pretzel hugs (recipes to come) and that was quite fun. Hugs and KissesThere weren’t even any major mishaps. I was interested to see that for the Grinch Cookies I used a sugar cookie base instead of a standard chocolate chip cookie base. The difference is slight, but a difference all the same. Also for the Grinch Cookies I used food coloring while for the Mint Kisses I just chopped up (to the point of being a fine powder) mint chips and the coloring is nearly the same. Oh the discoveries of baking.

I nearly forgot! The classic I watched was Breakfast at Tiffany’s but that is going to require it’s own short post because it’s related (in sentiment) to Casablanca and I’ll just hit them both at once.

Day 11: Sunday, December 2: Tour of Homes
It was a bit of a work outing when two of my co-workers and I decided to hit the tour of homes together. If you don’t know what this is, pretty much a few community members volunteer to have people come into their homes and walk through it to learn/see all the random stuff. For instance one of the houses this year was quite old and the couple that lived there had kept a lot of the original wood work and even restored some of the old details (like the stenciling at the top of the living room). Each of the houses had there very own feel. One was quaint, old and comfortable. Another was large and antique-y while the third was large and modern (with a restored barn that had a partial basketball court in the hayloft). All were fun to walk through and see once.

Day 12: Monday, December 3: Fancy Dinner
I never get to dress up. I don’t really have the occasion for it, so I made myself dinner and then got dressed up. I think this one would be more fun with other people, but I still quite enjoyed it. There is something about the juxtaposition of being fancy-like and eating (in my case) soup. ‘Posh’ indeed.

Day 13: Tuesday, December 4: Dinner with a FriendMonthly I head on over to this townie-esque bar to meet a friend of mine for dinner. We both live about an hour from this place and it’s been changing recently. The first few times we went to this bar it was run by this old rough looking guy. It was quite random, the next few months it was always a surprise who was going to be running the place (it doesn’t seem like the place that requires many employees). Once there was a santa-esque man (including really long beard), a middle aged woman and a semi-ditzy college aged girl. We’ve been going to this place for a couple years now, what can I say, it’s grown on us. Also, sometime this summer, it came under new management. This guy in his twenties bought the place and it’s evident. The place seems a bit more lively now. Granted it’s never crowded, but it’s not so awkward. It use to be that me and my buddy would be the only two in that evening. Now there is a nice buffer row of people at the bar. That’s probably enough about The Town Pump though.

Day 14: Wednesday, December 5: WHO Wednesday: The Runaway Bride
Again with the Doctor, always really. I enjoy Catherine Tate, and the Donna Nobel character but I did forget how crazily self-centered she was in her first introduction to the Doctor.

Day 15: Thursday, December 6: WreathsThursday is my unofficial decorate/craft night I suppose. I threw together a couple of wreaths to decorate the apartment. Wreath_01First I swapped out the decorations on my front door wreath. I decorate this wooden wreath according to the season. Last night I removed the fall leaves and gourds to replace them with greenery and pine cones. A simple, yet festive, alteration.  Wreath_02Secondly I gathered up my ornaments and a hanger to make a quick wreath for my guest-room door. I, for whatever reason, have roughly a bagillion ornaments. So this was a good craft, used some of those suckers up. Now if I can figure out what to do with the rest. The real problem is I get all of these ideas and want to do them all so then I find I don’t have enough and think about getting more then have to rein myself in. We’ll see if I can keep myself in check.

Wow, this is novel long, clearly need to be more prompt with writing up my days, ten days at-a-whack is too many. Until next time – Q

41 days of Celebration Surprises

Wow, twenty days…where does the time go? Not only that, but now it’s 36 days until the new year and already 4 days of my ’41 days of Celebration and Surprises’ have passed. I feel like 25 just aren’t enough (the 25 days of Christmas made popular by ABC Family…and Advent and just so many things in general.) Also, by having 41, instead of just 25, there isn’t the…what’s the word? Let down isn’t right, but if you do that 25 it’s like excitement excitement excitement, Christmas hits and then BAM nothing…so instead I’m gonna keep going right through to the new year, and greet 2013 in a way I haven’t greeted the others.

Day 1: Thursday, November 22: Thanksgiving
Although we are thankful to be together, my immediate family doesn’t really do Thanksgiving in a traditional sense anyway, on the day of

As my dad calls us, The Brain Trust had lots to discuss about the various trees. We’re even starting my nephew off early, he’s not even two yet.

. No, instead our family usually goes Christmas Tree hunting. In the past the hunt has been…heated. All three of us siblings can be headstrong with our opinions on which tree is ‘perfect’. The first year it took us over two hours to agree on a tree. However since then it’s been easier and easier to agree. Either we’re growing up, learning to pick our battles, or know/understand the traits we each look for most. After our tree expedition out to the tree farm we returned home to have dinner. Rather than having turkey or ham we had Nachos (why I love my family). Then we did prep and cooking for the big weekend.

Day 2: Friday, November 23: Atkins Thanksgiving
Every year my mom’s family comes to town for Thanksgiving weekend. Two days of nearly 20 adults in my parents house. It’s awesome and usually crazy. Friday is the big traditional meal day. The family starts arriving around noon and spends the time before the meal either helping with the cooking or out shopping (trying to score a couple Black Friday deals). This year two (of the three that would travel to our house) siblings were able to make it. It was weird, for whatever reason with four less people than usual (still leaving us with 17) it seemed like a much smaller crowd. Seriously, that line of thinking seems rather ridiculous. Anyway, Friday is the day we have our typical Thanksgiving meal. After we washed up and ate too many desserts my cousins and I went to my apartment to finish watching the Creighton- Wisconsin game. It was favorable that we left. One of the families are huge Creighton fans while my brother-in-law is a Wisconsin man. My cousins were able to rejoice in the win without punishing him too much.

Day 3: Saturday, November 24: Atkins Thanksgiving continued & Brunch with the Girls
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with a couple of my besties since they were in town for the holidays. (This is a major bonus to me staying close to home. I’m always here when they come home to visit their families, so if they have spare time for a cup of coffee or something we can usually meet up. We decided to head to The Cafe for brunch, us and maybe a fourth of the population, but I can taste why. It was sooooo good. Pumpkin pancakes, cranberry-lime scones, parfaits. Perfection. It was fun seeing the two of them and hearing about their shenanigans (one of them just closed on a house, the other is a teacher. There are always shenanigans to discuss). After returning home the day was full of soup, games (like Ticket to Ride which, with many of us being rather cut-throat, means it’s usually a five-way battle of wits. My only goal this year was to get longest route. A goal which I did achieve even though I didn’t win overall) , and a couple episodes of Top Gear. (My uncle is really into car, a passion he has somewhat passed onto his son. He had talked about this show and despite myself I may be hooked on it).

Day 4: Sunday, November 25: Cooking and a Classic
My darling sister likes to do some of her Thanksgiving baking weeks ahead and then freeze it (like the amazing rolls/breads we usually have just laying about on Saturday). This has lead me to try an experiment this year. I’m going to start cooking holiday goodies now for our Christmas festivities. That was the plan anyway. Yesterday I tried 4 recipes: Honey-Almond Fudge, Honey Cakes, Pumpkin ‘Fluff’, and Pumpkin Poppers. I had a 75 percent success rating. Care to guess which one didn’t work out?
The Honey Cakes, although more biscuit like, turned out just fine. They are these dense tough cookie-like baked goods that taste really good with some jam. (Sadly I didn’t bring my camera from my parent’s house after the other weekend activities so I don’t have any photos. I even told my mother I wouldn’t be needing it, once again, mother knows best. However since I’ll have the goods for a while, I’ll post a follow up post with both the pictures and the successful recipes when I get it back). I don’t usually bake from scratch, and part of the reason is obvious: I don’t have the proper materials. I had to use a cup to roll out my dough since I didn’t have a proper roller, nor did I have a round cookie cutter. Then I realized I had mason jars and the lids were the perfect size, so that worked out rather well.
Pumpkin Poppers are delicious. They are meant to be more doughnut hole-esque though and I didn’t have the right materials for them either. You’re suppose to cook them in mini-cupcake tins. I only have normal sized ones. Once I had filled them up I decided to just make a shallow loaf/cake with the rest of that batter. It worked shockingly well…except for when I dumped it out and broke it. Even then I just cut it up into various shapes (based on how it had fractured) and it worked out just fine. The ones that I had cooked in pumpkin tins I finished the way the recipe intended (brushing/rolling them in butter then in cinnamon-sugar). The loaf I combined with the Pumpkin Fluff.
Pumpkin Fluff is cool-whip with instant pudding and pumpkin added and is a bit addicting. It made a lovely ‘frosting’ for the Pumpkin loaf-cake and will taste amazing with graham crackers. (This last bit is an extrapolation, but it tasted good with the pumpkin loaf and on it’s own.)
This leaves the fudge being a fail. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so perhaps that was my downfall, but I’ve made fudge without it before. The directions were just poor. I was trying a new recipe and after heating the mixture to soft-ball stage I was instructed to cool it until it reached 100 something degrees (which was suppose to take 50-60 minutes). After 40 I checked it and had a hard mess stuck to the bottom of the pot. The poor pot will never be the same…it still has hardened sugar stuck to it. I’m going to have loads of fun trying to fix that situation. Rather than trying the fudge again I decided to pass on it. I’ll be making more fudge in the next couple of weeks. We don’t need this batch of fudge.
To finish up the day I watched a classic movie. Oh perhaps I should take this time to explain the ‘surprise’ part of the next month. Earlier this month I put a handful of movies in two separate opaque bags. On Friday/Sunday I will close my eyes (for good measure) and pull one out to watch. The ones on Sunday are suppose to be older movies (I honestly can’t recall what I set aside for either night). Yesterday it was The Court Jester starring Danny Kaye. (Also Basil Rathbone who, of course, voiced Sherlock Holmes for so many years)

I love old movies, particularly this one. The writing, although decades old, is still funny and witty. The large ensembles are amusing and add a sense of grandeur that just isn’t the same nowadays.  Which makes it highly re-watchable. If you’ve never seen the movie and are looking for a comedy set in the days of lords and vassals pick this sucker up, you wont be disappointed.

Must dash – plenty of fun to come though, let the holiday festivities begin!
Until next time ~ Q