Friday, December 9, 2011

Flamingo Father Christmas

I work in an office, not the most glamorous place in the world, but I'm not the most glamorous gal in the world, and the benefits are fantastic, so you'll get no complaints from me.  Sometimes the mundanity of an office can start to feel like a cement block tied to your ankle while you're swimming across a river in January, so you have to find ways to keep yourself entertained.

This week, that entertainment was a little project I like to call "Flamingo Father Christmas." Some "wacky" person stuck a plastic lawn flamingo in the lobby potted plant long before I started here (so, at least six years ago), and I was giving it a look last week, and realized that, although we're not allowed to have a "Christmas Tree" (the custodian got in big trouble for that a few years ago because of the possibility that someone might be offended at some point in the future), there's no rule about not having  Christmas Flamingo.

I decided that our Flamingo needed a new look.  I talked to a coworker who got even more into the idea than I was, she took the task of FFC's outfit, and I took on the (minimal) task of his facial hair.  I've posted the final result below.  Isn't he beautiful??




Monday, December 5, 2011

'Tis the Season

This year we bucked tradition and bought a Christmas tree.  I've loved the straggly natural trees we've found the past few years on my parents' land, but the time and opportunity hasn't availed itself to me, so I paid $20.99 for my tree this year.

I know $20.99 is a good deal for a tree around here, I saw at Walmart they're selling them for $24.98 plus tax, and here on campus, they've got them from $15 - $35. My sister Sarah always goes out and cuts down a tree with her family at Piper Mountain (check out a cool article about them), and I think it's somewhere in the $30 range.

When we lived in Anchorage, it was, unsurprisingly, a lot more expensive to buy a tree, we paid over $40 for a tree that was around 4 1/2 feet tall (we set it on a little end table which was quite cute), but nothing beats the facebook post I saw from a friend in California this weekend.  She showed a picture of her wife and son, with the nice, but somewhat skinny 8-foot tree they'd chosen behind them, then stated that when they'd found out the tree cost $175, they decided to look elsewhere.  Seriously - $175 for a tree??? Not a diamond studded tree? Not a tree that produces fossil fuels? Not a living tree, but one that's in a lot dying its slow death? Not cool.

I feel even better about my $20.99 now.  And, I have to say I think it's beautiful.  This is a picture of it fully decorated, it's not actually tilted, nor is it fuzzy, I took this with my old school cell phone (circa a wicked long time ago), but you get the idea.

Merry Christmas!!!!

2011 Brainerd Family Tree

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back from the Woods

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  As it was Veteran's Day, I had three days away from the office, and went with my mother, daughter, and Mom's new dog Mischka (not sure about the spelling - the name is supposed to be Russian for Teddy Bear) out to Mom's cabin way off in the woods.


All dressed up for a walk during hunting season!
 It was a totally gorgeous weekend.  If you live in New England, you're most likely aware that the foliage this year was way less than stellar, so I didn't really have any of those moments when I gasped "oh my gosh, what an amazing view." That is, until I took Mishy (as I like to call her) for a walk along the dirt roads through the barrens (blueberry fields for the lay person).  If you're interested, here are some of my favorite pictures from the weekend.  I think the color of the leaves in the Blueberry Barrens are SPECTACULAR - and Mishy is wicked cute, right???

Later on this week, I'll be updating the Netflix Christmas Streaming posts, I'm going to try to consolidate them all into one post, as it feels pretty goofy to be cutting and pasting all over the place.  But - without further ado - here are some weekend in Northfield, ME pictures!




Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Letter F

I'm getting ready to switch over to a new computer at work (a Mac!!) and have trying to clean up my current computer so that I'm not moving over files I don't need.

I came across a gem of a spreadsheet yesterday afternoon - the file name: f.xls - it's a spreadsheet, and it consists entirely of descriptive words that start with the letter f (some are misspelled, and some are words that I'm pretty sure do not exist.  I have no idea what motivated me to make this spreadsheet, but I think it's pretty darn awesome, and I really wish I'd made one for each letter of the alphabet (that would at least have made a modicum of sense, right?). 

Without Further delay, I present The Letter F

fab
fabulous
facile
fair
faithless
fallen apart
faltering
familiar
fanatical
fanciful
Fantastic
far out
fascinating
fastidious
fatigued
fatuous
faulty
favorable
fearful
fearsome
featherbrained
feckless
feeble
feeling
felicitous
fell
fencing
feral
fervent
fervid
fetching
fickle
fidgety
fierce
fiery
fine
finespun
finical
finicky
finished
fireball
fit
fitful
fitted
fitting
flabbergasted
flagitious
flaky
flashy
flawless
fleeceable
flexible
flighty
flippant
flipped
flipped out
flirtatious
floored
fluctuating
fluid
flustered
flying high
foggy
foolhardy
foolish
for grins
forbearing
forgiving
formed
formidable
forthright
fortunate
foul
foxy
frank
frantic
fraught
frazzled
freaked out
freakish
freaky
free
free-minded
frenetic
frenzied
fresh
friendly
frightening
frigid
frivolous
frolicsome
frore
frosty
fruity
fuming
furious
fussy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2016 Netflix Streaming Christmas Movies


*Updated as of November 1, 2016 - if you're on Facebook, like the page, and you will see when there are updates.
This is what I call an act of love…
Here are all of the Christmas movies I could find on Netflix – don’t hold the awful ones against me, I decided not to make any value judgments about your choice to watch Barney celebrating Christmas – ‘tis the season to love, not mock your child’s awful taste…


12 Dates of Christmas - Do you love Christmas and miss Saved by the Bell? Or maybe just one of those two? Come on, this is an ABC Family Christmas movie - if you like one, you like them all.  Watch it here before it airs this December!

Abominable Noel - Nope, it's not about the worst Christmas ever - it's about Abominable Snowmen joining with humans for Christmas!

 All I Want for Christmas - Nope, it's not a typo, it's another Christmas movie!! What's the best reason to start dating again? Because your child wants a new father, that's why. 

Beethoven's Christmas Adventure - Do you love slobber? Well, there's a good chance you don't.  I bet you do, however, love Christmas movies - here's another one for you - starring the most famous gigantic dog of the nineties (or was it eighties?).

Bob's Broken Sleigh - this is a newer movie (2015) - It appears that the premise is that a little elf (Bob) is trying to upgrade Santa's sleigh - something goes wrong - there is a crash (will Christmas be canceled!?!?) - and he needs help to get back up in the air.

Casper's Haunted Christmas - poor Casper, that annoyingly friendly ghost has to scare someone before the big day.  I'm not even referred to as a friendly ghost, and I would feel bad messing with someone this time of year.

Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas, The - I haven't seen this - but the pictures showing up do look true to the original illustrations in the Cat in the Hat, and other Seussian hits.  It appears to be a cartoon - which is a big positive for me - as Mike Myer's terrifying turn as the Cat in the Hat ruined live action for me in the genre.

Christmas Again - This appears to be the tale of a grumpy guy selling Christmas Trees in NYC.  I have a sneaking suspicion Mr. Man is going to learn a Christmas lesson and get some holiday cheer along the way!

Christmas Card, The - You know how every year, you're encouraged to send Christmas cards to anonymous soldiers? This is the story of one of those soldiers tracking down the person who sent the card.  Spoiler alert: I'm pretty sure romance will ensue!! 

Christmas Cracker - This is a document about people who are obsessed with Christmas.  I'm king of disappointed that they didn't try to interview me, but I'll get over it. 

Christmas Kiss, A - Reviewers seem pretty split on this ABC-Family/Lifetime style Chick Flick.  A woman who has trouble with her boss, for some reason kisses a random gent on an elevator, only to discover that he is the boss's boyfriend.  

Christmas Ranch - This one's got all the big hits - naughty teen has to spend the holidays with Grandma on a ranch of all places, connects with a horse, tries to save the aforementioned ranch, learns an important lesson, and has a super merry Christmas.  I'm guessing - but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

Christmas on Salvation Street - This new addition has no reviews so far - so my only information is from the synopsis - a Widowed Preacher moves his family to the inner city. 

Christmas Star, A - It turns out that if you're born under the Christmas Star, you have magical powers.  In reading the description, I wasn't really convinced I wanted to watch it.  Then I checked out reviews, and noticed Kylie Minogue and Pierce Brosnan in it - needless to say, I've added this to my wish list. 

Christmas Town - I've never seen this relatively new made-for-tv looking gem.  A single mother visits her father, whose town is "Totally Consumed with Christmas" - my kind of place!

Christmas Wedding Baby -  I haven't seen this, and nothing in the description has anything to do with Christmas - so maybe that's someone's name? I really don't know.

Christmas with the Kranks - Did you know this movie is based on the book "Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham? Consider yourself educated.  I've watched this, and it is a cute little film - a pair of empty nesters try to get out of their annual Christmas decoration extravaganza when their daughter is away for the holiday, only to have to do a mad dash when her schedule changes.  I promise - plenty of hijinks will ensue.

 Curious George, a Very Monkey Christmas - I do love those cute little Curious George cartoons, along with the Man in the Yellow Hat, it appears the two of them are having a hard time deciding what to give each other for the holiday!

Dreamworks Happy Holidays from Madagascar - You get a hit of Valentine's Day and then two Christmas specials! 

Dreamworks Holiday Classics - while the word "classic" might be pushing it - only time will tell!  Four holiday tales involving your favorite (?) Dreamworks' stars - the digital casts of Madagascar, Shrek, and How to Train Your Dragon.

Dreamworks Shrek's Swamp Stories - time to join everyone's favorite ogre in some fun holiday theme adventures.  Not only does this have Christmas - but Halloween as well!

Ernest Saves Christmas - YES, it's stupid - but YES, I really really really love it!!! Hey Vern, who doesn't want to watch a sassy runaway discover the true meaning of Christmas (AKA giving and receiving gifts) via the heartfelt buffoonery of Ernest P. Worrell?

Evergreen Christmas - I know that if I had a choice between being a musician and running a Christmas Tree Farm, it'd be a no-brainer - obviously Christmas Tree Farm - the heroine of this story has some indecision though.

Fitzgerald Family Christmas, The - A long estranged father makes plans to reunite with his wife and seven grown children for the holidays.

Fireplace for Your Home: Winter Wonderland for your Home - this has festive holiday music along with beautiful snowy scenes - wonderful for those of us anxious for winter in the middle of July!
From Time to Time - What's better than going to stay at your ancestral home for Christmas? If your Grandmother is Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter (okay, technically, the actress Maggie Smith who played Professor McGonagall).

Get Santa - Santa gets arrested? What kind of world are we living in??  Thankfully, a father-son team is going to get him out of there!

Good Luck Charlie: It's Christmas - This looks like a 2011 Version of a Full House Christmas (not the plot, but the family friendly TV show made movie length silliness), the ratings are actually quite good - I've never seen the show, but I just might have to watch the movie!

Happy Christmas - Here is a Christmas movie starring Lena Dunham, Anna Kendrick, and Melanie Lynskey - three of my fave lady actors. Reviews are mixed, but one introduced me to the term "mumblecore." I'll be watching, for the actors alone. 

Hercules Saves Christmas – I’m getting more and more excited about watching this (incredibly ridiculous sounding) movie as I type the description.  When you think Christmas what comes to mind: Presents? Jesus’ birth? A talking dog whose job it is to write Santa’s “nice list,” and has the ability to act as an orphan boy’s lawyer? If your answer was number three – I promise you’ll love this movie!

I Am Santa Claus - This is a documentary following professional Santas.  I watched a similar movie a couple of years ago, and it was wonderful - this certainly looks worth a look!









Journey to the Christmas Star - Something about the cover of this reminds me of "the Golden Compass" (most likely a girl riding a bear).  This is a Norwegian movie, that, from reviews, was poorly dubbed, but is a really lovely story.  I plan to catch it at some point, and will fill this out a bit more with some facts!

Koala Brothers Outback Christmas, The - I'm not familiar with the Koala Brothers - but it appears it's a British show for the littles.  It is some sort of adorable claymation and I recommend it on that alone!  Seriously - who doesn't want to watch two koalas flying an airplane and tracking down their penguin friend in Antarctica? 

Kung Fu Panda: Holiday - Here is one of those newer "holiday" movies; it's winter, it's a special, meaningful holiday, etc. etc. etc. In this new arrival, Po has to deal with some wackiness, and then learn the meaning of Chris- Oops - I mean - the meaning of "Winter Feast."

Last Holiday - This is not your typical Christmas movie - but it is a REALLY sweet movie that takes place at Christmas time. I would put this in the While You Were Sleeping Category of a movie that takes place at Christmas, and has a lovely message.

Legend of Frosty the Snowman, The - Word to the Wise: this is not the original Frosty movie - this is circa 2005, and reviewers say it is a pale comparison.

Love Actually - If you love Christmas, or being a hopeless romantic, or Mariah Carey songs, or a host of other things - you will love this modern day Christmas classic!

Magic Snowflake - the Sequel to Santa's Apprentice.  So - watch that one, and then decide if you're up for a second dose.

Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas - Well, I can't say I recommend this one - most commonly seen in the reviews are mentions of the racism and sexism.  I would certainly leave this off my list this year.

Marry Me for Christmas - A lot of movies remind me that we need to get rid of the idea that people MUST get married for happiness.  This movie, like that one with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, follows the theme of  fake fiance.  I have a hunch that they will fall in love in the end like (spoiler alert!) Holiday in Handcuffs.  But there's always the chance this one will make the point that you should be happy with yourself, and don't require another person for your own satisfaction.

Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mickey Mouse - This is a Christmas special with a number of Disney Christmas shorts (I haven't seen this one - but I highly recommend Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, so I think this is probably worth checking out).

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas - Three cute Disney cartoons: Mickey & Minnie play out one of my favorite O. Henry stories: Gift of the Magi; Donald's three wacky nephews play out a Christmas version of the movie Groundhog Day; and Goofy and his son Max figure out that Santa is real.  *Most disturbing part: when all of the ducks at the table get excited about eating a beautifully roast turkey.

Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas - I am imagining this to be the sequel to Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas.  According to Netflix's description it's a holiday battle between Mickey and Minnie and that mean ol' Scrooge McDuck.

Miracle on 34th Street - This is the absolutely wonderful 1994 version of this holiday classic.  I love the original, and I really feel this remake stayed so true to the message.  It's wonderful, and you should show it to your children to make sure it's a part of their childhoods.

Mule-Tide Christmas - This looks like a digital flick for the youngest of the youngsters.  You've got wicked goblins, a certain jolly old elf who wears a red suit, and his trusty mule.  Sounds good (for the 5-7 crowd) to me!

My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas - These are the middle age ponies (from 2005 - they're updated from the mid-1980s ponies I knew, and prior to the new ponies that have inspired the Bronies movement).  I think there could be some very valuable nostalgia.

Pee-wee's Playhouse: Christmas Special - If you're ready for a trip down mid-1980s memory lane - this is the special for you!  If Pee-wee himself isn't enough to pull you in - you've got Zsa Zsa Gabor, Frankie Avalon, Oprah, and even KD Lang to join in the fun!

Pete's Christmas - Groundhog Day meets Christmas Day.  I know Elmo already tried this whole "Christmas is Every Day" thing - it sounds like Pete's having just as hard a time.

Power Rangers Samurai: Christmas Together, Friends Forever - I admit that the Power Rangers have never really grown on me.  I will also admit that I sat through countless hours of them when I was a babysitter to a family with four young sons.  I might even sit through them for 23 more minutes to see this special!

Power Rangers Super Samurai: Stuck on Christmas - here we go - some more Power Rangers (for those of you who are into that sort of thing). 

Radio City Christmas Spectacular, The – If you’ve not had the opportunity to see these incredible women perform in person – I think you should jump at any chance you’re afforded (we saw them for the first time last winter in Boston – they are AMAZING). Luckily for everyone, those who have, and haven’t seen the Rockettes perform – you can watch the show on your TV or computer – seriously – this is awesome stuff!! 

Russell Peters Christmas, A - This 2011 movie was filmed in the style of a 1970s variety show.  Guests range from Michael Buble to Pamela Anderson. I've not seen it, so I'm hoping someone will be able to give me a good review.

Santa Buddies - those rascally golden retriever pups are at it again - Christmas style!

Santa Claws - NOT the horror movie it sounds like - this one is about KITTENS!!!

Santa's Apprentice - What DOES happen when a young orphan is picked to be Santa's successor? He becomes an apprentice of course!

Saving Santa - I've never seen this little digitally animated gem, but the reviews are pretty great - it turns out, you'll find out how Santa delivers all those presents!

Scrooged - HOORAY! It's back - this is an absolute TREASURE of a movie.  Starring Bill Murray as a modern (1980s modern) scrooge, and his interesting host of ghosts.  I can't recommend it enough, if only for the awesome defense of mice.

Search for Santa Paws, The - If you liked Santa Buddies, you definitely want to watch this prequel!  If your children like Santa Buddies, and you need an hour and a half to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine, then they definitely need to watch this!

Secret World of Santa, The - This was a late-1990s French Television Show - there are 26 episodes that have been dubbed into English.

Small Town Santa - If you live in a small town, and arrest an intruder claiming to be Santa, be warned: you are about to get a full-size-sample of the Christmas Spirit!


Thomas & Friends: Santa's Little Engine - Guess who's guiding Santa's sleigh!! Nope - it's not Rudolph - it's THOMAS!!!

Trailer Park Boys: Xmas Special - I'm not a Trailer Park Boys fan, so I'm going to leave this to you to discover on your own.

Traveler, The - I'm not sure if Christmas is anything more than a setting in this very poorly rated movie starring Val Kilmer.  One of us should watch it - I'm nominating you.

Very Minty Christmas, A - My little ponies (I think these are the original ponies - or O.P. as the kids should say) celebrate Christmas.

Very Murray Christmas, A - If you love Bill Murray, and appreciate what an oddball he is - I think you'd better put this on the agenda for running in the background at this year's cookie baking party (which is exactly what I did last year, and probably will do again in 2016).

While You Were Sleeping - I have absolutely loved this movie since the first time I saw it.  It made me fall in love with Sandra Bullock, and made me able to tolerate Bill Pullman.  The plot is farfetched, but adorable.
White Christmas - Quite possibly the greatest movie ever made.  Fact: my sister and I can perform the "Sisters" routine in its entirety, and sing the song together on a regular basis. If you've never seen it - watch it! If you've already seen it, why aren't you watching it again???

Winnie the Pooh, A Very Merry Pooh Year - We already know Pooh's not the brightest bulb on the tree, but we want to watch him have fun adventures during the holiday season anyway!



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christmas (on Netflix) in July?

I can't be the only person who feels the flush of Christmas mid-July.  I know I'm not, as my sister Faith, is as guilty of it as I am.

We try, and we try, and we try to keep ourselves from feeling too festive until at least November - but there's something about a heatwave that gets me hankering for eggnog and wrapping presents.

I plan on unveiling the 2011 Comprehensive Netflix streaming Christmas movie list (with reviews) tonight or tomorrow.  I've been spending some of my spare time combing Netflix looking for movies. 

There is also the possibility of including a Thanksgiving and New Year's list - obviously these movies aren't nearly as plentiful as the Christmas ones - but wouldn't you agree that Alice's Restaurant is just as worthy of my blog as Thomas and Friends: Ultimate Christmas?

So - if you're as excited about the upcoming (eventually) holidays as I am - it's time to get AMPED up!! The Christmas list is coming!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A little bit of History

I've been super duper neglectful of my blog lately.  I assure you that I've been terribly busy doing really important things directly related to solving the problems of world hunger, cancer, and poison ivy.

My degree is in History (note the big "H" signifying the importance of it), and I am pretty sure that I qualify for many lifelong learning credits in the history of me, specifically, to be able to count that as a minor - or at least an associate's degree in myself.

If you were studying the history of me, early adolescence - you'd learn such interesting tidbits as:
  • For my pre-teen through early teen years, I had a life-size poster of Patrick Swayze on my bedroom door.  I would kiss it every night (as long as Faith was nearby, otherwise, I ignored it - it was mainly a thing to drive her crazy).
  • Along with the Patrick Swayze poster, I had an extensive collection of posters of cats - mainly taken from Cat Fancy Magazine, which I really, really, really loved.
  • My freshman year in high school, I rented the movie Benny and Joon no less than 30 times.
  • The first time I smoked a clove cigarette, I felt horribly guilty because I was under the impression that I had just smoked pot.
  • I decided I wanted to be a ballerina (I must have been 13 or 14), and discovered that I was not destined to dance - alas, I could only memorize the moves in one direction across the stage; never was able to reverse it.
  • The first time I dyed my hair, I was 14 - I didn't have my natural hair color again until my late twenties.
  • I broke a world record for hoola hooping up and down Birch Street (according to the newspaper Faith & I published)
That's enough for today.  Be sure to memorize these facts - they might be on the test.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Public Transportation, Stitches, and Tax Credits - oh my!

It's been a busy week since my last blog post.  Seeing as it's now 2011, I'm trying really really really hard to see the good that's happening rather than letting the bad stuff get me down.  Of course - plenty of good has been happening - so that really shouldn't be too hard, right? I'm not just a glass half full kind of girl - I'm a glass half full garnished with a maraschino cherry kind of girl.
Today hasn't been the best day ever - but I'm going to say, without question, that it's been more good than bad. My morning was certainly less than stellar - after trying to get my car to start for 40 minutes, and then having  no luck finding someone to drive me to work (by the time I'd realized it was a losing battle with the car, everyone who commutes to campus had already commuted!), I remembered what a determined gal I am - looked up the public transportation website and found the bus schedule.  Luckily, the bus stops not too far from my house, so after about a five minute walk and then ten/fifteen minutes of waiting (in the below zero temperature of course) I got to ride on the bus!  A positive thing - because I work on campus, I don't have to pay bus fare! How cool is that? This is only the third time I've ever ridden the bus - there was the time when I was fourteen and I rode the bus to the mall, then about four years ago, I locked my keys in the car at the grocery store and had to take the bus home to get my spare (which, it turns out was actually in my purse the whole time - and I was unimpressed). 
Have you ever ridden the Bat Bus (that's what we call it 'round these parts)? It's not as bad as my middle-class-mentality was imagining it.  It was very crowded - I squished my butt & parka between two friendly young women who looked away as soon as I tried to make eye contact. Seeing that I am me, and not prone to sitting silently in a metal twinkie full of other people, I struck up a conversation with one of the eye-averters next to me.  I have to say, I'm relieved that my car started yesterday - it sounds like waiting for the bus when the wind chill is almost forty degrees below zero leaves a lot to be desired.  The bus dropped me off not too far from my building, and I made it inside.  Luckily - I made one brilliant choice earlier in the morning - I put on one of those therma-care wrap things (the ones you use for back pain) - I'm convinced that therma-care deserves mucho credit for me not being frozen solid huddled in a snowbank at the moment. 
That was my morning - it certainly wasn't great - but it could have been a heck of a lot worse!  Don't worry - I'm not going to say - it could have been worse is why it was a good day - there have been some great things today!!! 
Great thing number one: I got to participate in a taste test for the food science folks - not only did I get to enjoy some lovely fresh tomatoes, but I got a crisp (actually kind of weak and wrinkled, but whatever) five dollar bill for my time! Should I holler "show me the Lincolns"???
Great thing number two: this is actually a HUGE thing for me - as a lower-middle-class slash upper-lower-class single parent - there's one day a year that almost overshadows Christmas in terms of awesomeness - that would be the day I file my taxes. And I got my W2 today!  I had already calculated out what everything would be from my last paystub of 2010 (the only part that really involves math is working out your social security/medicare wages, but I'm a brainy gal and I know how to google) - but I didn't want to file until I was positive about the numbers.  It turns out I was right about the numbers! Yay me! All I had to do was check everything over and enter my bank information - now I just get to wait for my tax return.  I used the Turbo Tax Freedom File - to get to the free filing - go to the IRS Free File site, and pick a link you like.  Note to filers: if you used Turbo Tax last year - make sure you sign up for a new account - you can't use the same account information (read: username) two years in a row for the free version.  Since I'm too cheap to pay for something that I could get free - I just logged into my account from last year - got the information I needed (last year's adjusted gross income) and then created a new account.  Why do I like Turbo Tax so much? Because before I started using it, I didn't realize how very many tax credits I was missing - namely the Student Loan Interest one (got back $90 from that one), and the Retirement Account contribution credit (got back $189 from that one).  Definitely worth it for me!
See - today was a good day!!!
Let's look back over the past week and figure out what was so great there!
Monday, January 24th - even though the wind chill was -40 degrees, my car started! Woo Hoo!  Other positives - I received a prize in the mail that I'd won (cream perfume - melon d'eau - lovely scent) as well as two coupons for free hall's cough drops.  Played a great game of Monopoly with my girl, and relaxed in bed. Very nice!  To top it off, the neighbors brought over delicious homemade lemon bars for Azi and me!
Sunday, January 23rd - lots of lounging in bed (as I do so love to do on weekends), lots of playing Mario Kart, and some legends of Zelda Twilight Princess, on the Wii.  The biggest cool thing from Sunday was that I received notification from Rachel at http://texaskitchen.blogspot.com/ that I'd won a giveaway - a Newman's Own Organic bunch of goodies - I am REALLY looking forward to those - in particular the minty cookies!
New Glasses & crazy eyes
Saturday, January 22nd - Saturday didn't start out as anything really special - we were pretty subdued due to Azi's injury on Friday, so we laid low, and I ended up skipping out on a party I'd planned to go to.  I had an eye appointment, and then Azi and I each picked out our new glasses - and I had them replace the lenses in my current frames as well - since they're the cutest dang frames I've ever had. Around 8:00 Azi and I started really getting on each other's nerves, so we went over to hang out with my fab nieces - Mandy, Ally, and Siearah - and we even got to see Rob a bit too! We played really fun games on their X-Box Kinect, and then had a fierce game of Monopoly.  I'm extremely proud that Mandy has surpassed me in Monopoly awesomeness.
Hand + Steak Knife = Emergency Room Trip
Friday, January 21st - this one was not the best day.  The awesome thing of the day? It was a snow day!! Hooray! Unfortunately, around noontime, Azi was getting herself a brownie - they were really hard, and she was cutting them with a sharp knife - the knife slipped and she sliced right into her hand.  Good thing: for the first time in about a month, my car started on the first try - bad thing: she had to get three stitches.  Bad thing: there was already about 7 inches of snow on the car - Good thing: my neighbor heard the screaming from upstairs and came out and helped me clean off the car.  Bad thing - Azi was in a lot of pain - Good thing - the same upstairs neighbor met us outside when we got home and gave Azi to packs of peanut butter cups he'd bought for her.  Quite the day.  On a positive note, I've given myself kudos - it had been so long since the last time that Azi  ad a trip to the ER that she's grown over a foot since then!!!
Thursday, January 20th - they made the announcement about Friday's snow day at 8:00 pm on Thursday night - how great is that????
Wednesday, January 19th - I had to go to the dentist for a toothache (I was right about no cavities - but unfortunately one of my nerves died, the reason for the ache was that my body was treating the dead nerve like a splinter or something) - the good: they put me on antibiotics, and gave me a referral for my root canal - yay!
WHEW - it's been a busy seven days - I wonder what the next seven will bring!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three Day Weekend

The one big drawback to a three day weekend is the feeling of sadness that infiltrates your Tuesday morning (or Monday morning if the third weekend day was a Friday) - I woke up this morning all bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed, for about five seconds, then I realized that my clock was telling the truth about it being 6:37 am and I had to get up shortly. That's when the disappointment slipped in.

Of course, I followed my usual routine and hit the various snooze buttons (I find that a total of three alarm clocks with separate alarm times and different snooze settings are what it takes to get me out of bed on time-ish), and got up a little after 7:00.  Around 7:30, I went out to start the car and discovered that it was bitterly cold out.  It was somewhere in the realm of four degrees (that's what weather.com said it was when I arrived at work at 8:00), which is cold on its own, but it was this icky damp chilly cold - the kind that makes any exposed skin start to ache the moment the ice-air hits it.  A positive about this horrid air-situation is that all of the tree branches I drive by on my way to work were sparkling like a four-year-old girl's art project.
Now, you know I'm the queen of the positive in this lovely 2011, and I'm not trying to be unpleasant and whiny - it's just that I REALLY wish I could be back in bed right now!  I need to remember that, since I made a delicious chicken stew for dinner last night, we have leftovers and I don't have to cook.  Did you know my stew is world famous?  Okay, maybe not world famous - but it's family famous, and honestly, they're about the only people whose opinions matter to me anyway.  My nephew Aaron won't eat anyone else's stew anymore (including his mother - my sister Conni's stew - which is a bit of a sore spot for her).  I didn't bake any bread, but I did make gingerbread for dessert.  Yum yum yum.  See - now I'm starting to looking forward to going home and eating food.
Aaron required blue icing and a theme that incorporated
rainbows, kittens, and slick rick.  I think Conni
did an absolutely AMAZING job.
Well, as you know - it's 2011 - and of course some good things have been happening since the 11th!  Here we go!
Today: I won a contest!  I won a Cream Perfume from http://www.withourbest.com/!!!! 
Monday, January 17th - I slept until noon and then spent the afternoon reading and making chicken stew. Azi and I watched "Once More with Feeling" - the musical Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, and that awesome daughter of mine brought me breakfast in bed! (not in that order)
Sunday, January 16th - Sunday was a completely and totally lazy day.  I stayed in bed roughly 90% of the time and read four novels. How can you beat that???
Saturday, January 15th - went to Heather's housewarming shindig - had a great time - ate some AWESOME spring rolls, and played Apples to Apples.  ALSO - Two $10 iTunes gift cards came in the mail from a contest I won!!!
Friday, January 14th - My awesome nephew's "not-so-sweet-sixteen" birthday party.  Most of the fam was there, with the lovely additions of Janice, Holly, and Matthew.  The best thing about that was the cake my sister made - I'm putting the picture up here - wish I could take credit - but it's all Conni!!
Thursday, January 13th - I won two contests!!!! I won Project Runway stationary & candle from http://confessionsofanover-workedmom.blogspot.com/, and a set of house pillows from http://becausecheaperisbetter.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, January 12th - say it with me - SNOW DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
Tuesday, January 11th - I got to see Azi compete in the school-wide Geography bee.  I didn't realize how impressive this was until they explained that out of the entire school of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, only 30 kids qualified for it - and my sixth grader was one of them!!!  She did a great job - made it through the first round of cuts, but had a harder time on the second round - regardless of that - I'm SOOOOOOOO freaking proud of her!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers

No, I'm not ripping off A Streetcar Named Desire (and yes, that is where the quote came from) - but the fact is, I have always depended on the kindness of stranger, and on myself being a kind stranger when the situation calls for it.  Last night I received a message loud and clear from the universe telling me that "Yes, Jessy, people are still awesome."

Do you ever doubt the awesomeness of people?  Have you ever had one too many jackelope drivers straddling the double-yellow on a two-lane road, or taking up to parking spaces?  I honestly start to think that maybe everyone is an annoying combination of stupidity and evilness, then something happens and I'm reminded that most people are innately good.

Last night I was headed back to Orono with Azi who has requested to now be referred to as "Red," and I'm going to try very hard to remember that), and my gas light flicked on.  I knew from having checked right before I left work that my bank account currently has the impressive balance of $9.18, so I pulled up to the Big Apple, the one remaining gas station in our great nation that does not have you swipe your card at the pump, and carefully put in exactly $8 in gas. After finishing getting my gas, I go inside, make nice chitchat with the guy behind the counter, pull out my wallet, grab for my debit card - and what's this?  Nothing in the debit card slot.  This is when the uncomfortable smiles start, and I rifle like crazy wondering if, for the first time since I got that wallet, I put my debit card in a different slot, and start recalling having taken it out to make an online purchase and setting it on my bedside table.

The man behind the counter was much less smiley than I was at this point, and asked if I could just give him cash.  I said "all I have in cash is fifty cents. Can I bring it to you tomorrow?" Nope - tomorrow is not an option, they can't let you leave the store until you pay.  Did I have another card.  Nope - no other card.  At this point it was starting to appear that Red and I were going to have to build ourselves a little shack out of cardboard Miller Light boxes, because they cashier certainly wasn't letting me go anywhere, when all of a sudden, this voice behind me said "Don't worry about it, I've got you."

Azi and I suspect that my awesome
pom-pom hat might be why the guy
was so nice - because - how can you
not want to help someone with a
pom-pom on their head??
This young guy, probably in his early twenties, buying a case of Miller Light (also known as the building blocks of my future shack-home), pulls out his wallet to pay for my gas.  I did the polite thing saying things like "you can't!" and "that's not fair for you!" while jumping up and down on the inside.  Finally, after asking him for his number about fifteen times - he kept saying not to worry about it, it'd happened to him tons of times, I did get his number.  I'm trying to think of something totally awesome I can bake for him when I give him back his $8.  Any recommendations?

So - there we go - proof that people are wonderful.  When I got in the car and told Red (this is hard, I've had to delete Azi  a few times here) about it, she said that maybe he has a mandatory act of kindness every day.  I don't know if I blogged about it before - but we have a rule about doing at least one act of kindness a day.  Everyone should follow this rule - you just do something nice and unexpected - it can be helping someone pick up papers that are blowing around, or letting someone out of a parking lot during really nasty traffic.  Just something kind.  If you start doing it - I'm telling you - you'll feel great!  There's a good chance you'll make someone's day too!  You might even get blogged about if you're lucky!

Well, obviously that story is the good thing that happened to me on January 10th.  Let's go backwards through the other days I haven't written about yet:
Sunday, January 9th - Matthew and my nephew Aaron came over for beef stew, homemade bread, and to play Wii Pictionary - now that was some fun stuff! AND - Matthew brought strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert!
Saturday, January 8th - we had Jeanne's birthday party to go to, which was awesome and fun - and then when I get home, there was a bottle of sparkling grape juice on my porch!  Not any old bottle, but a commemorative bottle!
Friday, January 7th - I received news about two different contests I'd won!! I won a giveaway on A Mom's Take blog - AND coupons for a jar of barilla's sauce & a box of their pasta!

Thanks, 2011, for being so awesome!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

CLOSED: Giveaway Alert! It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 5

Congratulations Erin.Nicole - your comment #14, was selected by random.org as the winner! I will be contacting you via email for your shipping information and will put your DVDs in the mail on Tuesday!

I've been having so much fun entering giveaways on other blogs that I decided it's high time I did a giveaway of my own!!!  I recently acquired a brand new DVD copy of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 5.  I'd been planning to give it to someone for Christmas, but just wasn't sure who to give it to.  My family's loss is your gain!!

For your opportunity to win this DVD, please just leave a comment on this post - telling me what your favorite thing about the show is - be sure to include your email address (feel free to do something like jessyisawinner at gmail dot com - or whatever). 

For a bonus entry, join my site via Google Friend Connect (on the right), and leave a separate comment telling me that you did so! 

The winning comment number will be selected randomly, and I will contact you - you'll have 48 hours to respond to me with your mailing address.

This contest will end on Friday, January 14th at 11:59 pm.  Anyone in the US is welcome to enter!

I'm hoping this will be the first of many giveaways to come!!  Happy 2011 Everyone!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coffee? Yes, Please!

As you know, I'm not a big pusher of other blogs - I don't tell you what to do or where to go.  BUT - if you're interested in reading a cool and funny blog - AND - possibly winning a Tassimo Coffee maker head on over to Turning the Clock Back Tassimo Giveaway for your chance!

2011: The Best Year Yet? Perhaps.

A few days into 2010, I realized that, for some unknown reason, the universe seemed to have it in for me.  I had an assortment of ailments, money problems, car problems, etc. etc. etc.. I am in no way claiming that 2010 was the worst year ever, but, for me, it came pretty darn close. I decided way back then that 2011 would be different.  My health would be great - my life would be great - every frigging thing would be great. And do you know what? So far it has been!!!
On January first, I had the luck to win a new Ipod touch!  Now, this isn't the most alarming thing in the world, as I spend a ridiculous amount of time these days entering contests - but still, that's a pretty darn sweet prize!  It was made even sweeter by the fact that I was starting to regain my voice (you see, 2010 tried to keep me down by striking me with laryngitis during its last week - note to years who think they can get the better of me:  you totally can't, and I'm talking up a storm again).
On January 2nd, I went out and played Scrabble, ate Pizza Skins, and had awesome conversation at Uno's.  What a treat! Not something I usually do, and even more fun than I expected!
On Monday, January 3rd, I admit I was starting to notice a trend - and then what happened? Season 2 of True Blood was delivered from Amazon a day early!! Good stuff!
On Tuesday, January 4th, I was driving home and talking to Faith on the phone about how I was concerned that nothing awesome had happened yet.  Thankfully, I stopped at IGA, and what to my wondering eyes did appear??? Not from concentrate half gallons of orange juice on sale for $0.48!!!!!  WHEW!!!!
The Misty Sunrise
Wednesday (January 5th) started off on shaky ground - on Mondays and Wednesdays, we have to get up extra early because Azi  as orchestra practice at the school at 7:15 (AM!!!!!!).  I am not, nor have I ever been, a morning person - early to me is getting up at 9:30 on a weekend, you know?  So, I really do not look forward to super early days.  BUT - we were out of the house on time, and then, as I was driving to work I got to see the most incredible sight - there were clouds of mist rising off the river, just as the sun was coming up.  It was gorgeous!!!
Today's good thing?  Well, Azi sent me a message when she got home that there was a long trianglular package on the porch for me!  I will assuredly go on an on about it when I find out what's inside!!!
I'm hoping to keep this up - 2011 is the year, my friends - well, it's my year, at the very least - hopefully yours too!!