Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Domesticity

I do not know what it is, but I find myself wanting to jump full force into the holidays.  I want to spend the days decorating, baking cookies, wrapping presents, watching Christmas movies, all those things which scream Christmas to me.

Yesterday, I bought a few outdoor decorations, and started decorating our porch a little.  I have big plans to make some more decorations, probably this weekend.  Today, I made cookies for the doggie, and the Hubby.  I have plans for a few Christmas photo shoots as well.

I am not sure when I will get the tree up, or the presents wrapped, but you can bet I will love every minute of it when I do.  I will also enjoy each viewing of Charlie Brown's Christmas, a Christmas Carol, and of course, White Christmas.

Later this week, I get to deliver the toys from Stuff My Car, and enjoy a lovely dinner with Lindsay, Kacy, and Chris.

So, I am declaring myself in full holiday mode now.  And it is officially time to starting wishing all a Merry Christmas.

How will you start preparing for the holidays?  What all do you do to celebrate?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Baby it's cold outside...

Well, we have hit that time of year where it is officially cold outside.  Particularly in the mornings.  This morning, there was a heavy frost, so Hubby had to go out and start his car to let it defrost a little before leaving for work.  I was sitting on the couch, and it was just a cold miserable feeling, knowing Hubby had to go back to work after 4 days off.  I knew I was going to miss him a ton, and it was just a sad way to start my morning.

That is until....

Hubby kissed me goodbye, and then nonchalantly walked over and opened our dog's crate, and said "have fun".  He thought he was teasing me, that the puppy would want to jump and play and lick my face.  Instead, Dexter, ambled over to the couch, hopped up, and snuggled down under the blanket with me.  We cuddled and napped for 2 hours.  It was the perfect way to start my morning.

Happiness really is a warm puppy.  But I am still going to crank about the cold.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It Made My Day.... Pumpkin Roll

Late last night, as yesterday rolled into today, Hubby and I got a hankering for something sweet.  We had lots to choose from, with Thanksgiving food still hanging around.  Hubby had some pie earlier, and I am not a pie eater, so I looked around the fridge, and spied a bag way in the back on the top shelf.  What was this?  It was, it was...

PUMPKIN ROLL!  Yippee!  Mom had brought it on Thanksgiving, but we never opened it.  I figured she took it home with her, but she had forgotten all about it.  Hubby and I had a piece immediately and it was awesome.

So, Mommy, I am sorry that we inadvertently bogarted the pumpkin roll.  To my loving family, I am sorry I am unable to share it's deliciousness with you.  But I have to admit, finding it certainly did make my day!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Have you started your Christmas shopping?

This weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year.  How much shopping have you done?  Were you one of those crazy people waiting in line on Black Friday?  Let me remind you what I did on Black Friday: LET'S GO PENS!

That is NOT to say, however, that I did not shop on Black Friday.  Au contraire, I started my shopping early yesterday morning.  From the comfort of my couch.

Yes, that is right, I am one of those people who does not go to a mall during the Christmas season if I can help it.  I hate crowds, I dislike the nasty way people treat each other, and above all, I would rather be spending the time with Hubby and the dog, all snuggled in a blanket.  So, I shop online.  And this year, I am trying out a new store called Zappos.  I am a little late in the game with this site, they have been around for a while, and I know several people who order from them regularly.  Not only have I heard wonderful things about the merchandise and extremely prompt shipping, I have heard nothing but rave reviews of their customer service as well.

When I first started hearing the buzz about shopping online with the Zappos website, I thought the site only sold shoes, because that is what most people talked about.  And they certainly do sell shoes.  They probably have any kind of shoe you might be looking for, in different styles and colors, and at different price points.  But they also clothes, accessories like handbags, and housewares.  This is a great website to direct your husband or boyfriend too with ideas for you if he struggles for good gifts.

There are tons of perks to shopping through Zappos.  Free shipping is one such perk.  Yes that is right I said free shipping.  Also, you have one full year to make a return.  I do not know a single store in the mall with a policy that flexible!  And if all else fails, you can always get gift cards for the website, which I for one think would make a fabulous gift.

So, as you can see, I am kind of in love, as in dotting all my i's with hearts love, with the Zappos site.  I highly recommend it.  I would tell you more about why I love this site, but, I have holiday shopping to do!

**This was a sponsored post brought to you by Zappos.com.  All content is original, and all opinions are 100% mine**

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for... Black Friday

Today, I am thankful for Black Friday.  Not because of the sales, or the football games, or travelers or any of the usual things.  I am thankful that all of those things, in addition to some other circumstances, led to an unexpected day of fun with my Hubby!

Early this morning, I got a text from an old college pal saying he had 2 extra tickets for today's Pens game up for grabs, because his fellow season ticket holders could not attend for a couple of reasons.  When I asked him how much and he said free, I jumped at the chance for us to go.  How often does someone offer you free Pens tickets?  I have know R. since my first day of my first class of college, and he has asked me to go to games in the past but I have never been able to go. The fact that he had 2 tickets on a day when both Hubby and I could go?  Serendipity.

We got there just in time to get out tickets and get to our seats.  While we had gone to a game in September, it was a preseason game, so this was my first OFFICIAL Pens game.  I was so pumped.  As always, our seats were great, because there is not a bad seat in Consol.

It was great to catch up with my friend, and it warmed my heart to learn he recently proposed to his girlfriend.  It makes me happy to see people in love!  Also, I got to be with the man I love, my wonderful Hubby.  Despite being a little sick (he caught what I had last weekend), he had a blast!

It was a really good game.  It started slow, and I have to say, the Pens had a lot of sloppy passes.  I would like to think the reason my sweet baboo Letang was sloppy was because he was distracted by my saucy redheaded presence in the building.  But his hair is as hot as mine, so I will let it slide.

Sid the Kid looked a little tired today, he must have had too much turkey yesterday, but hey, even superstars like him need to rest on their laurels now and then.  He still helped to lead the team and assist on a goal.

And then there was Fleury, more like Fury today.  He took a lot of hits by the Senators, before fighting back. It is rare to see a goalie get a penalty, but I say good on him, he needed to defend himself, as well as our net.  And he did one heck of a job.  To be fair, so did the other goalie.  Just not as well as The Flower.

Despite the fact that I was just regaining my voice, and Hubby might be losing his, we helped cheer on the team with some LET'S GO PENS.  What an awesome sound that is, to hear 18,000 people yelling that!

The game was tense for the whole last period, and nothing was certain, right up until the end.  No matter what the outcome, this was going to be a hard fought battle for both sides.

But in the end, our black and gold boys were victorious once again.

We wanted to take R. out afterwards, but everything in the city was packed, and he needed to head back to Columbus, where he lives, so I told him I would take him to lunch the next time he is in the Burgh as a thank you for the tickets.  What an awesome, unexpected blessing this was!

Since traffic on 28 looked bad, we headed to Cranberry and went to dinner, just me and Hubby.  We went to one of our old date spots, and it was an unexpected dinner date.  We had a blast.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you, R., for the tickets, and helping make this "old married couple" have an unexpected date!

(ps I got a new camera.  We were in the next to the last row of Consol, opposite the Pens bench, and I got these AWESOME pictures, you can click on them to see bigger versions.  How cool is it that my camera can zoom this well??!!  Hubby got me the camera.  Sigh.  I am a lucky lady!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This Thanksgiving

I learned a tremendous amount of information during this Thanksgiving.  Having my family come and visit me was a tremendous experience, and cooking for my family was so fun and rewarding.  The food turned out amazingly delicious, and we had so much food!  Three kinds of turkey, two kinds of stuffing, two kinds of sweet potatoes, two kinds of cranberries, mashed potatoes, two kinds of rolls, green beans, corn, honey glazed carrots, and several kinds of pie, plus my low calorie crisp.

So, among the things I learned this Thanksgiving were:

Peeling and cutting raw yams/sweet potatoes are a pain in the butt.  They are also completely worth it.  We had both fresh and canned.  I did not touch the canned.  The fresh were so delicious, they needed very little seasoning.  Save your marshmallows, I just found my new sweet potato recipe.

I tend to overcook.  That menu that I listed above?  Yeah, that was for 11 people.  It was about 20 pounds of turkey alone.  That is almost 2 pounds per person.  We had no room on the tables.  We  tore that food up though.  I mean, we still have leftovers, but, we certainly did me proud.

I learned that my sister is a Black Friday fanatic.  She makes lists, has maps of stores, analyzes the store fliers,    for goodness sake, she was even weighing her purses to see which one would better fit her strategy.  She stores water and nutrition bars in her purse to keep her going on her shopping endeavors.  She knows how to work it like no other.

Party games are never more fun than with my family.  We played one of our favorites, a game called Things.   Things got kind of naughty pretty quickly, with several new words entering the family lexicon.  I will spare you, but if you really want to know, read my tweets.

My dog is needier than I ever imagined.  Seriously.  That is all I can say about that.

Having a guest for Thanksgiving is one of the greatest blessings ever.  My brother brought one of his fellow nursing students with him.  Her name is Kate, and she is from California.  Because of school, she did not have time to travel to CA for the holiday, so she came here instead.  She fit right in, and added merriment to the party.

The phrase "that's what she said" can never be uttered too many times in one night.  It will always be funny.

My family is incredibly giving and generous.  They all brought toys for Stuff My Car.  They are amazing.  Seriously.  I love them beyond all measure.

So, these are some of the things that I learned over this holiday.  I learned that I am blessed beyond belief.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday: Dear Friends

1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Last night, we got a chance to celebrate with a very special group of friends.  We were very excited because the group included our friend Chris, which is a long time friend of Steve's.  Chris actually officiated our wedding, so he is very dear to us, but because he lives out of state we had not seen him since the wedding last year.  It was wonderful for us to get together with him, as well as E and J, and J and M, to eat some delicious food and just enjoy each other's company.  We got to talk about E and J's upcoming nuptials.  We also updated Chris about our house and dog.

 We went to one of our favorite places ever, India Garden in Oakland.  It can be a bit of a hike for us, so we do not go all that often, every couple of months or so.  It had been quite a while since we had been there last, so we were all looking forward to some delicious Indian food.  We got there and it was buffet night, so I got to try a lot of new dishes I had not tried before, including goat curry.  Everything was amazingly delicious.  Chris has actually been to India, and he said the food is very authentic to what he had during his travels, which is why he likes this restaurant so much.

I also love the ambiance of the restaurant.  I love the music playing, and the gorgeous colors of the decor.

I am so very blessed to have met so many wonderful friends by marrying Hubby.  I have only lived in Kittanning for a little over a year, but I have a rich social network of friends who are much like a family to me.  And through those friends, we have met new friends.  It is never easy starting out in a new place, but I came into a ready made "crew" who accepted me and cared about me.  Some of the friends do not live in town, so we do not get to see them as often, but they are dear to us none the less.  And I still maintain many very wonderful friendships with my own friends from other circles, from my pre-married life.  So, today, I thank God, for blessing me with so many dear friends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

I had really high hopes for my Thanksgiving preparations.  I was going to get all crafty and hand make a banner, and some other cute decorations.  I was going to have a spotless home for my family to full appreciate the improvements since the last time they saw it.  I was going to have everything be perfect well in advance.

Yeah, about that...

On Friday, I had a tickle in my throat.    It did not deter me from attending light up night, then going out late to do my Turkey Day grocery shopping, as well as some toy shopping for Stuff My Car.  On Saturday, it got a little worse, but I still made it to the birthday party.  By Sunday, I was a sick in bed mess.  I slept all day while Hubby went to the Steeler game with his friend M.  I have been struggling ever since.  Needless to say, those adorable decorations I imagined, well, those are not happening.  And while my house will be clean and tidy, perfect it will not be.  But never the less, this holiday will be fantastic, because I will surrounded by the people I love.

And I am finally starting to feel better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kindness. It's Kind of My Thing

The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. ~William Wordsworth
Over the past few months, I have been introduced to something life changing, called The Kindness Movement.  Do not worry, this is not some New Agey seminar riddled philosophy of self improvement, or anything like that.  It is actually pretty simple, and really something I knew all along.  It has one premise.  Be kind, always.  Kind of a lofty goal, I know, but isn't it one we should all be striving for?

The Kindness Movement is really picking up speed online, thanks in part to social media.  And one of Pittsburgh's own has a lot to do with that.  For a year, she was known only as Secret Agent L, a girl who went around the city doing random acts of goodness and kindness and day brightening.  Then she decided she wanted to do more, and in order to do that, she needed to reveal her identity.  So, she held a reveal party to raise money for charity.  Now, she continues her do goodery, though no longer anonymous.  But she has hundreds of anonymous affiliated agents around the world, who do similar anonymous acts of kindness.  I am one of them, and let me tell you, it feels so wonderful to do these kindness missions.  Getting them ready is so fun, and knowing you are making someone else's day better is amazing.

Another great group within the Kindness Movement is ItStartsWith.Us, run by Nate St. Pierre.  This global network has several affiliates, including Love Drop, which provides financial support for families in need, and  Love Bomb, another group I am involved with, which finds a blogger each week who is having some sort of personal struggle, and drops a love bomb on them in the form of encouraging and love filled blog comments.  It is amazing how something so simple can touch a person's life.

There are hundreds of ways to show people kindness, it does not require a lot of time or money.  There are tons of other websites that you can look at for ideas, including Random Acts of Kindness.  November is Kindness Month, so what better time to get involved in the Kindness Movement?  It costs nothing, the rewards are overwhelming, and the experience is life changing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What a party!

Last night, we attended a 15th birthday party for the twin daughters of our friends.  The party consisted of the girls' friends, the family, and the friends of the parents.  I can honestly say, it was one of the best birthday parties I have ever attended, including my own.  No surprise though, our friends are amazing, and we always have a good time with them.  I can not remember a time when I felt more comfortable letting lose, kicking back and just being free and enjoying life.  I told the hostess, it was like attending Prom, only more fun.  This was what Prom would have been like had I not been so self conscious.  And since Hubby never attended Prom, it was extra fun for him.  I just love seeing him let lose and have a good time.

For the first part of the night, mostly it was the young ones dancing.  I pride myself on the fact that I knew the majority of the songs that were being played.  The girls were doing most of the dancing, but later on a few of the boys joined in.  I loved that the older girls did not seem to mind that the two younger girls wanted to tag along and dance with them.  The little girl in the red is the younger sister of the birthday girls.

This is the little brother of the birthday girls, getting down a little himself.  He is such a doll!

After a while, the adult ladies took over the dance floor to show the young ones we've still got it.  We has such a blast!

There were even some slow songs.  I love seeing all the couples loving up to each other.  It makes me happy that we have so many wonderful couples that we are friends with (this is just a sampling).

And of course, it can't be a birthday party without cake!  Here are the two lovely birthday girls, M and S, with the delicious cake.

We had such a wonderful evening, despite the fact that I was, and still am, a little under the weather.  Happy Birthday girls, and thank you to the entire C family for a wonderful, fun evening!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Small Town Elements: Light Up Night

For the first time ever, I got to attend Light Up Night activities last night!  It started off with a Parade, headed by the award winning Kittanning High School Band.

There were lots of other characters in the parade, including Mrs. Claus and The Grinch.
There were fire trucks, and of course, SANTA!!!

After the parade, Santa circled around, and flipped the switch to turn on the lights, first on the left side of the street
then on the right side of the street.
People then lined up to see Santa and have pictures taken with him.  Since we were not going to do that, we meandered around Market Street to see what all was going on.  There were people selling popcorn, hot chocolate, cider, cookies, and some food.  

There were pumpkin pie eating contests, and pony rides.

The Grinch was available for photo ops.

A local church sponsored a Gingerbread village, including a gingerbread replica of the Armstrong County Courthouse.

Stores decorated their windows.

But one of my favorite things was this:

Since both our dads are Vets, we put an ornament on for each of them, and they hang side by side.

Finally, it was time to walk home, but not before getting a lasting impression about the true meaning of the season.

What a blessing it is living in a small town.