Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year In Review

Today is the last day of 2008. (you knew that, way to start off with a dud) As such, it's time to eat some junk late at night before the diet kicks in and think about how far we've traveled in 365 short days.

My best friend since 8th grade and I "resolve" every year. Our ritual includes going to Uno, last year's resolutions in hand, checking off what we did, laughing at how we didn't do hardly anything we said we would do, then beating ourselves up about being fat and lazy and writing new resolutions. All over nachos and deep dish pepperoni pizza. Yes, I now what "irony" means. And "self defeating." And "stupid."

Anyhow, as a year in review, I give you "2008 Resolutions and Goals"
  • Redo upstairs bathroom (paint, decorate, change light and fan). I (and by I, I mean DeuceDad) knocked this one out of the park because he installed a new tub/shower and 2 new toilets in the new house. Go DeuceDad!
  • Tackle Debt. I don't want to talk about finances here but suffice it to say that we rocked professionally this year and are now happy with our financial situation.
  • Lose weight. I lost what I gained earlier this year if that counts for anything
  • Exercise 3x/wk. I'm really doing that since October. Woo hoo!
  • Run 5k in spring. HA!! (that's a sarcastic "ha". Didn't happen)
  • Get a new roof. Um, we sold the old roof and bought a house with a new roof, does that count?
  • Reevaluate college. I was half-heartedly pursuing a Master's degree. I'm not anymore. Reevaluated and quit. Good for me.
  • Get house organized! This house is actually less organized than the last. Not good.
  • Exfoliate. I know that's a weird goal - but I had let my skin fall into disrepair. I'm in love with Dove Cool Moisture now, and I'm soft as a baby's rear.
  • Plant vegetable garden. Nope.
  • Cook my way through a cookbook. I found and unpacked my cookbooks, so I'm halfway there, right?
  • See friends at least once every other week. I was struggling with balancing motherhood/work/self. I'm giving myself the thumbs up here, even though I'm not working now, plus I moved close to BFF who I know see constantly.
  • Go on date with DeuceDad once per month. Not at all. I think we went out by ourselves twice this year. Eek.

6 out of 13. Not good. I wouldn't pass a Regent's exam with that grade. I did have a couple of things going on this year, so it's not like I spent the whole year playing with myself. I would give the year in general a big thumbs up. Move and new job accomplished, money set in order, and good exercise habit formed. The other items were things I would still like to do, but I feel good about where I've been this year.

Tomorrow's installment: Next year's crazy-long list of resolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What to do with all that paper

After the Christmas catalog-rush, the mailbox is partly ripped of the side of the house from the shear weight of all the catalogs we received, and the magazine basket is listing precariously. Time for action!

Reduce: I am a long-time believer in Consumer Reports, but I don't actually use the magazine the way it's intended. It just seems that I'm always buying things at some other time than when that thing is reviewed, and I never keep enough back issues to make the buying guide useful. So this year instead of the same old subscription, she bought an online subscription with searchable archives for how to buy any conceivable consumer product!

Reuse: All the health/fitness, fashion, and decorating mags go to my BFF for a second reading.

Recycle: That is 90% Cabela's catalogs BTW. We spent enough money this year that we may be getting the hard cover catalog.

That only took 5 minutes and it cleared some clutter. If I figure out how to cut back on the catalogs I'll be sure to let you know!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My New Toy

Santa brought me a new toy! Nice orange boxes, huh?

And the contents? A dSLR!! I've been wanting one of these. I've talked for a long time about getting into photography. I also want to be able to take some more artistic pictures to use in scrapbooks - you can only have just so many posed shots, right? DeuceDad is such a good listener that he remembered I had mentioned all that. He did a ton of research and went to a real camera store... what a great santa!

It takes great "plain-old" shots of Deuce being cute (playing with the shopping cart my parents got him for Christmas)

But I still have a lot to learn. The auto modes make it really easy to use but I want to learn the features and how to take some special shots - like close-ups:

Next I really want to work on action shots of Deuce. It will take 3 frames per second (and this thing is for beginners!) so I think I can do some cool things with that. I also have a big zoom lens so it would be an opportunity to take some scenery shots especially at my in-laws.

Yay presents!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Collective Sigh of Relief

Christmas is over. It was good, no complaints about the last 24 hours. And now may I have my life back, please and thank you.

I was a Grinch this year. Not in the mood, not having fun shopping or preparing. It really all came to a head when I couldn't find "the story." My father and his father before him always read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" before putting the kids to bed Christmas Eve. It's a cherished part of our holiday tradition. When DeuceDad became a father in 2007, my dad bought him his own book and passed on the tradition. DeuceDad read the story to his wife and infant son last Christmas, our first as a family of our own. It was really a wonderful experience for me, and I hope for DeuceDad too.

Fast forward to December 24, 2008. We moved months ago, and with piles of boxes left to unpack, I can't find the story anywhere. I tore apart the basement. DeuceDad tore apart the garage. I burst into hysterical sobbing. We had gone the better part of a month spending money and fooling around with expensive gifts and I had forgotten one of the few things I truly enjoy - the story. I unwound with Deuce for a few minutes while DeuceDad re-searched the basement, and then it came to me. An odd box of books hidden around behind some shelves in the family room. It was found. I slid down the wall onto the floor and just breathed.

That sums up the month leading up to Christmas Eve dinner. DeuceDad and I cooked together like we haven't since last year, he submitted himself to hours of carols, and everyone had fun.

Christmas morning, Christmas morning part two, afternoon nap time, and Christmas dinner where all really wonderful and we were both able to enjoy watching our parents shower Deuce with affection (and gifts. Oh the gifts.).

Next year I plan to reread this post December 1 to remind myself of what really matters. To be honest, I don't think I can put my finger on what that thing is that really matters. Maybe it's sharing something as simple as a poem read aloud, seeing smiles on faces when they got what they really wanted, biting into food someone made from scratch, sitting back at the end of it all and feeling glad it's over. There it is - feeling glad it's over. Because as important as holiday traditions are, I think the everyday is more important. Remind me of that next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The PJs had it

...until I realized that I had 2 incomplete gifts and MILs gift probably isn't going to be here on time so we went out. Well, and I mopped the kitchen floor. But other than that, the PJs had it ;)

It's Christmas Eve everyone! The wrapping is done (unless UPS really comes through for me, please, please, please), the menus and shopping are done (some cooking to do but that's okay), and the house really isn't in bad shape (I've managed to maintain fairly well from my birthday).

The Christmas CDs are out in full force - any favs? My mom and I buy the Hallmark CDs every year, Barry Manilow from last year is spinning now. I have to admit that my all time favorite is Mariah Carey. "All I want for Christmas is you" has been my ring tone for the last month, and if the phone rings in the car, I often have that song on the radio, too. It's an obsession.

I wanted to post the video, but Sony apparently "requested" that the embed feature be disabled. Bah Humbug. If you are so inclined, you can click through.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

The DeuceFamily

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Either way, I'm going to be angry

DeuceDad has found ALL of his presents so far. He has even found the two extra presents I bought him because he found his "big" present. I blame myself - I left things lying out where 99.99% of the time he would never look but happened to need something right there. I just have such a hard time finishing a task beginning to end with Deuce around. He always needs something, which I don't blame his 18 month old self for, but it leaves a lot of unfinished business.

I was angry at DeuceDad for finding things and giving them a close inspection instead of walking away.

Then I was angry at myself for leaving gifts out and allowing the surprise to be spoiled.

But now I'm angry at DeuceDad again. "Well, if you get out of bed now you'll get more done and won't be able to blame Deuce for not finishing things."

Now I'm angry. But am I going to accomplish a lot today just to show him I can, or lie around in my pjs to show him I can.

I'm voting for pjs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Siren Song...

...of How the Grinch Stole Christmas means Christmas is really almost here. Time to dress up the pets and cook the roast beest!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy-a Birth-a-day-a To-a Me-a

I am one of those annoying people who hate my birthday. I hate getting older, hate assessing where I've been in the last year, hate planning for next year. I'm very happy in my daily existance, but once a year I take stock and find myself to be aging incredibly fast and accomplishing at an incredibly slow rate.

This year is no exception. At least the breakdown came last night when I cried to DeuceDad that I'm a loser with no job and there is no hope for me. With that behind me I hope to be able to enjoy my day.

I went to Jazz this morning and came home to Deuce already up, fed and dressed, and coffee made. DeuceDad's going out to shovel while I enjoy Deuce for a while.

Then maybe some shopping, chili eating, visiting with family and then board games!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I interrupt this blog post to give you a blizzard

Happy Friday, people, and welcome to New York State where we are experiencing um, clement (is that a word? the opposite of inclement) weather in the form of a blizzard.

At this moment I am second guessing the decision to buy a new computer instead of a snowblower. Why this moment? I am newly out of the shower I had to take to thaw my frozen skin from spending over an hour shoveling the driveway in stupid thin pants. I seriously loved this computer until 90 minutes ago. Oh, and our 2 car garage with the nice wide driveway. And the large lot so the house isn't too close to the road. All brilliant ideas in the summertime.

I thought I read something about 30 days same as cash...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookie Compromise

Christmas cookie baking is one of my favorite traditions. Every year my mom and I spend one of the days after Thanksgiving baking 10s of dozens of Christmas cookies, many of them Italian recipes handed down from her immigrant grandmother. We use fragrant ingredients like orange zest, cocoa, anise and nuts to create delicious treats we only have once a year.

These cookies are my favorites for sentimental reasons as well as their taste.

DeuceDad really loves chocolate chip.

I maintain that there is nothing special or festive about a chocolate chip cookie. I make them all year long and while they are delicious there's nothing Christmas-y about them.

But last year I figured out a compromise - I made chocolate chip Christmas tree cut-outs. The dough is too sticky to roll them out, so I spread the dough on a half-sheet pan, baked, cooled, then cut with a cutter.

The process begins (with some minor sampling from the corner)

Festive, huh?

The leftovers are the cook's treat:

Feel free to use that idea - you can cut any shape. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Your backyard friends..."

I'm hiding in the office while Deuce watches a little afternoon Backyardigans. I even have music on. Am I concerned that Deuce will get in trouble/hurt? Um, no, that would require him to move away from the television.

I just can't stand the Backyardigans any more. I like them. It's a cute show. Creative. I don't ever want to see it ever again!

Rant over. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday: Menu Planning

It's that time of year again - cooking and eating all the once-a-year special foods you only get at Christmas time. And for us that means buying exotic ingredients that I will no doubt forget at the grocery store unless I have a detailed list. Sharing time!

My birthday is coming up on Saturday (28! Yike!). We're having:
Beef chili
venison chili (depending on how many people are coming)
white chili
corn bread
toppings: cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions, green onions

We're hosting Christmas eve and having:
DeuceDad's family's seafood salad
DeuceDad's family's tuna recipe
lemon spaghetti
caesar salad
some kind of dessert I haven't decided on yet

And Christmas morning:
Hashbrown casserole
pecan french toast

So good!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

W is for Winter

Winter has challeged me for finding things to do with Deuce. It's too cold and wet for babies at the playground and story hours at our local libraries are over until after New Year's. We go to the children's museum - that's about all I've got.

Oh, and this box.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Baby "Shower"

Today I have the chance to talk about three of my favorite things; crochet, papercrafting and party planning!

My best friend from our old hometown is having her second baby. I haven't been around during the pregnancy like she was for me, so I wanted to do something special for her. I started off by making the Seija Set from Stitch and Bitch: The Happy Hooker. This came out really well and I would definitely make it again in any color combo for boy or girl babies. I love the braid accent just to make a simple thing a little special.

When I had Deuce, she and another friend threw us a really great shower - a couple's shower, which I had never heard of before - and I wanted to do something for her too. Showers for second babies are kind of a faux pas, plus she's having her second girl, so she doesn't need anything. She cloth diapers, so she doesn't even need diapers.

So for something special I booked a party at a place called Make and Take Gourmet. It's a meal prep place, plus they have a nice little sitting area where we can have some snacks and cake. The idea is the guests prepare meals and give some to the guest of honor and take some home for themselves. This is the ultimate party to throw - I'm bringing the snacks and cake, that's it. I invite people and Make and Take handles the RSVP's preparation and clean-up. Plus it's something she will use and will make her life easier after the baby comes. I'm so happy about this idea!

You'll notice I said a magic word - invitations! They're a tri-fold with all the info printed on the inside and embellishments on the front. Not too shabby for using what I have on hand. I'm being serious, I didn't buy anything for this. The only thing that went wrong with them is that I set up the words inside to print in 3 columns - but I didn't fix the margins to really center the columns on a tri-fold page. But I already printed everything so it's going to have to be okay.

I've had that elephant stamp and the special delivery stamp for years. It's Elephant And Baby from A Muse Art Stamps. I love every single thing A Muse sells and would shop myself silly there if I didn't have such amazing personal restrain. (ha ha ha ha ha!!)

And to top things off, I happened to find cute paper plates and napkins half price at Target last night. This thing is really coming together!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When did Wednesday get here?

I somehow completely missed Tuesday! I had a good tackle too! When we moved into the new house our garage was literally full front-to-back, side-to-side, floor-to-ceiling full of boxes and furniture. I unpacked 8 more boxes Monday so that both of our vehicles now fit in the garage!! Woo hoo! One of my must-haves when we moved was at least a garage for "my" vehicle. Which is a waste of lumber if you can't fit anything in there for all the junk!

Well that took up my whole day Monday, so Tuesday was laundry and housework catch up, and new cell phone day! Check it out! (Sorry the pic is huge...)

I'm so in love. I have tons of stuff to play around with, contacts to put in, features to figure out. Oh, did I mention this is my birthday present! Early, but awesome!

Um, what else? Oh, I applied to another job. No word on how the interview went, although I'm assuming not stellar since I haven't heard back yet. I know it's the holidays, but I would love to hear something back. No, scratch that. I'd like to be left in suspense and then hear a yes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy 18 month birthday!

18 months ago, I became Mom. I'm so thankful.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I'm probably the last fiber-crafter on earth to try Noro yarn, but the day came on Friday when I reached into my (small) stash of revered yarn and pulled out the Noro Kureyon, printed the instructions for the Rook hat and scarf, (Ravelry links) and unearthed my hallowed but seldom used carved rosewood K hook. This was going to be good.

And it was. The colorway I bought (deep blue/olive 233) doesn't have as much variegation (word?) as some, but I do like all the colors (no muddy brown blobs). So color after color was pleasing. Definitely some detritus - sticks and such on my lap after completing the crown of the hat. One knot. Thick and thin spots. Good fun after the 100s of rows of solid-color sc I'm doing for DeuceDad's SU afghan.

But I don't love the pattern - there's this spike stitch that I can't quite master that you're supposed to do when the color has completely changed to really show off the colors. Maybe it's my dye-lot, but the colors are changing gradually and I don't see the drastic change.

My gauge was also WAY off - soooo tight which is odd for me, I typically go down 2 hook sizes from what's suggested in the pattern. I mean, a K hook for worsted weight yard is a huge hook in my world. So I modified the number of increases to get a big enough crown (I guess that means I've made a few hats that I could do that without getting up for reference material). I also had to rip back a few times because I misjudged a color run and had to move my spike stitch. Oh, and this stuff HATES frogging. I actually broke the yard twice.

So I'm going to finish the hat because I don't want to risk destroying a whole skein by frogging the thing. I'm going to rethink the scarf though... we'll see.

Friday, December 5, 2008

V is for Villain

This was picked up Tuesday. Not clean (the door didn't get that dusty in 3 days), but picked up. Not remodeled (nice carpet and panelling, huh?), but picked up. And now? Junk. On the floor. Again.

Toddlers. Humph.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

U is for Underwear

When you are one, your undershirt is a perfectly acceptable outfit. You can even dress it up with a hat if desired.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday: Crap... I mean craft... Room

First I just want to say that after the awfully unproductive day I had yesterday, I've already done more housework in the 2 hours I've been awake. Phew.

Anyhow, our new house has an office on the lower level, that will someday be a real live craft room. In the meantime it has turned into a garbage dump. Since I don't have a camera today, I'm going to give you the 360. Starting at the door -
  • stool with books, pencil case, tissue paper on it, and work desk detritus under.
  • wire shelves with sorting trays. Sorting trays are empty
  • bolt of fabric for as-yet not started curtains
  • book shelf with one box worth of books unpacked
  • computer with modem lying next to it
  • desk with monitor, keyboard, old phone charger, baby wipe wrapper on it
  • filing cabinet, piled on top are empty CD cases, baby art and potentially bills
  • pile of junk
  • box of junk
  • empty Cricut cutter box
  • box of junk
  • box of junk
  • schnitzels of paper from die cutter
  • card table with ABC book project, empty bag of sun chips, papers to be filed, board book
  • shredder with stack of stuff to be shredded on the floor next to it
  • the center part of a ring stacker
  • a Mary Kay Satin Hands set

And I wonder why I have a hard time being creative. I'll update when it's tackle-complete

Monday, December 1, 2008

Waste of Space

Deuce is recovering from a virus and took a 5 hour nap today. And I did nothing. I took a nap, and ate left over taco dip. I'm a waste of space. And my stomach doesn't feel great now because of the snacking. Ugh.

Yay It's Monday! (I didn't just say that did I?)

It's a new week and time to come up with a game plan. In no particular order, this week I plan to:
  • Keep on that house work
  • Cook Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • Take pics and update Ravelry with the scads of crocheting I've finished recently
  • Apply to more jobs
  • Take Deuce to at least 2 activities
  • Work out!
  • Finish the ABC book
  • Process, post and print November pictures
  • Do one home improvement/organization project TBD

Okay, now I'm expecting you to hold me to that!