Thursday, November 29, 2012

"That was really fun--let's never do it again."

GUYS.

THE CHRISTMAS SEASON IS UPON US.

I'm really excited.

Of course, most of you are probably still digesting leftover turkey, but I've been more than ready for Christmas since before Halloween got here. I blame it on the 30-something-degree temperatures that smacked me in the face in late October (thanks, Michigan, I get it), but I refuse to be pushed around. It got cold, I was forced to bring out the scarf and gloves, and thus felt compelled to buy presents for people. It's all good. Well, I've actually barely started my shopping, but hey--at least my tree is up.

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Because my living room is still in a state of decorating distress, you get a front row view of my tree! Enjoy!
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I'm also really excited about this wreath that my mom made for me over Thanksgiving break. It's huge and I love it.

I actually kicked off my Christmas decorating last weekend while I was home with my family over Thanksgiving. It all started with a Home Depot flyer.

Me (looking at the Black Friday ad): "Carolyn! Look at this gingerbread house! It's so cute . . . it even has a little Home Depot guy!

Carolyn (being difficult): *Long stare* *Hides face to pretend she's not interested* *Smiles in silent admittance that she loves the Home Depot gingerbread house, too*

Fast-forward to the next day . . . I'm in Home Depot with my parents, Carolyn's off somewhere getting tires put on her car. There has been talk of Carolyn leaving town early to beat holiday traffic, but I will not let that stand. I find the best gingerbread house ever on a shelf near the registers, snap a picture, and send it to her with the words, "If you stay tonight, I will buy this to make."

Her response: "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YES!!!" (or something like that)

Later that night, we sit down to assemble this fine work of art. Growing up, we never really put together a real gingerbread house, but I figured that if people do this every day, two twenty-somethings should be able to figure out how to stick some cookies together with frosting. And that's where the real work began.

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Left: My mom helps out with frosting the roof.
Right: Carolyn works some of her horrible magic to ruin the roof.

Guys, making a gingerbread house is really hard. When you open a pre-made kit, the cookies are bent to the point of almost breaking, the candy is stale, and the frosting sticks about as well as semi-malleable plastic. We soon learned that our creation might not turn out quite like the picture on the box, and craft time quickly turned into a Kindergarten project gone horribly wrong.

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The frosting was so thick, it took forever to cover the roof. I'll give you one guess as to which side you think my mom and I did, and which side Carolyn took charge of.

I felt kind of bad for my mom, because the whole process was kind of reminiscent of being seven years old and not knowing how to build your own solar system. When Carolyn and I became useless, she took over. And we watched. And no one really wanted to decorate the gingerbread house any more.

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"This sucks." - My mom
There was a lot of laughing going on at the kitchen table that night, but somehow we finished. Kind of.

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"It doesn't look like the picture!"
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Amputee down.
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At the time, we thought this part actually looked a little better than the majority of the house.
Up close, it just kind of makes me want to throw up a little.

After doing all we could to make the ugly even uglier, we accepted our mediocrity and gracefully resigned our efforts for the evening. The eight dollars I spent on the kit? Totally worth it.

And in the end, I fixed our little mess the best way I knew how . . .


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Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

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I think Veteran's Day is one of those holidays that we often forget about. I don't think it's out of disrespect, but with so many "calendar" and "bank" holidays, anything other than Christmas and Thanksgiving often gets pushed to the side.

Yesterday, though, I had the honor of attending a special Veteran's Day service at church, which included story time with a (very sweet and personable) 90-year-old former Marine that fought in World War II. A self-proclaimed "farm boy" from southeast Michigan, this man told his story of leaving home at 22 to join the war, a journey that included a bout of pneumonia, struggles to catch up with his crew after being left behind while hospitalized, and ultimately, being shot in the head during battle on the beaches of Iwo Jima. To hear accounts firsthand from this man was both fascinating and heartwarming, and I left church feeling a strong sense of admiration for him and the other men and women (within and outside of our church) who have served and who continue to serve today.

So, happy Veteran's day weekend to all of you--whether you have engaged in battle, engineered military equipment, served the wounded, raised a flag, or merely served in your own way as a civilian or in some other type of public service. You are appreciated, whether or not you hear anyone express gratitude.

And to evvvveryone--keep on spreading the love! It's not just a bank holiday or three-day weekend, after all. Why not give a soldier a smile today? :)


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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VOTE

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That's me yesterday, standing on the front steps of the Michigan State Capitol. I didn't plan the proximity of this visit to coincide with the election, but it kind of happened anyway. And while I'll get back to more of my Lansing trip in an upcoming post, today is much too important for me to assume that I can distract everyone from what's going on in the United States today.

If you're 18, go out and vote. If you're 25, 42, 89, or 100 (or anywhere in between), go out and vote. Or have someone bring you a piece of paper (or whatever they're doing these days for people who can't get out of their houses), and circle names or fill in bubbles and vote. Remember, no one will listen to your opinions the rest of the year if they find out you skipped your duties today. So you might as well cover all your bases while you can.

And if it's any extra incentive, remember that you can usually use your "I Voted" sticker as a bargaining tool for things like free ice cream and coffee. But free perks usually taste better when you have that extra feeling of self-accomplishment built in, so . . . vote. No stealing stickers.

After all, most people don't get to live in a country where they can freely express their opinions, contribute ideas, and take stupid pictures of themselves in capitol building elevators. So, I think we owe it to ourselves and everyone else to take advantage of every right we're given--especially if it means preserving values that we stand for and believe in.

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Say yes to silly faces. Happy election day, everyone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's Twitchcraft

I'm a firm believer that the best projects are accomplished through making huge messes. So, following that frame of mind, I'm considering my Halloween costume this year to be a great success. The downside? My living room and dining area are a wreck right now.

Because Halloween falls on my birthday every year, I like dressing up regardless of whether or not anyone else around me feels like doing so. Thus ensued my search yesterday morning for costume materials, delayed to the last minute because it took me until Tuesday evening to figure out what on Earth I was going to be. The final verdict? I decided to embody this newfangled social contraption that's most commonly referred to as Twitter.

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My dining room table, covered in Halloween magic. I originally made a mask to go with my costume, but decided (after an hour and a half of meticulous feather arranging and glue gun burns), that it was way too much. Hit me up if you have plans to impersonate a peacock any time soon.


After some less-than-tragic angst over trying to figure out iron-on transfers (I made Brad help so I could blame him if it turned out badly) and a last-minute run to the drugstore for glitter, everything finally came together. Say hello to social networking in human form:

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Voila!

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Brad told me to make this face.

Despite the fact that the only people who saw my costume were 20 trick-or-treaters and a group of un-costumed friends we went to dinner with (most of whom probably just assumed I was an under-dressed flapper), I had a lot of fun putting together the outfit and playing dress-up. Plus, I'm sure that this t-shirt will get quite a few more wears, even after the picture starts crackling (I have a couple "I <3 NY" shirts that have previously demonstrated the inevitable). It's win-win, as far as I'm concerned. If anyone's planning a social media party, just lemme know.
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