Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lights Before Christmas…after Christmas and Wii Fit Plus

Hi, y’all!  On Tuesday night, Mom and I participated in one of our yearly traditions – the Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo!  We’ve gone every year for as long as I can remember, even if that means going after Christmas as we had to resort to this year.

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They have a couple of big fire pits in which people roast (mucho overpriced) marshmallows on a stick. 

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Mom and I get hot chocolate every time we come…it always tastes better when you’re walking through the zoo looking at Christmas lights!!  I was so cold/excited/flustered that I didn’t take a picture, though.  Booo.  These lights are my absolute favorite…for some reason on this type, the colors just POP:

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They even had soapsuds snow!

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When we left the zoo, we tracked down our own copy of Wii Fit Plus at Target.  I was put to shame when I was told I hadn’t done the Wii Fit in over 280 days (in my defense, I’ve done other fitness programs on the Wii since then…just not regularly Embarrassed).  However, my Mii has lost over 30lbs since she last played the game!  Why I forgot to take a picture of that screen, I do not understand.  But I did take a picture of this (tube TV = crappy picture):

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Happy early birthday, LAYLA!!!

The game itself is pretty fun…if I understand it correctly, the disc you get contains all the games from the original Wii Fit plus a whole bunch of new games, a few new yoga poses, and a few new strength poses.  You can also play with multiple people (taking turns on the board when necessary) and customize your workout, but I haven’t dabbled with those features yet.  (I read somewhere that even though you can customize your workout, you can’t save the routine – gotta investigate further!)  I really like some of the new games…my legs got killed on the Segway game because you’re in a permanent squatting position.  There’s also a bike game where you walk in place on the board to “pedal” and you have to find these flags all over the place and run into them…that game took forever!  I can tell it was working the ankle/calf muscles I need to strengthen, so I’ll definitely be playing that again.  I’m looking forward to playing again tonight and delving deeper into some of the games!

If you don’t already have the balance board, I’d get the Wii Fit Plus bundled with the board.  It’s hard to say yet if the new games are worth the $20 bucks extra, but I can definitely say it’s better than $40 extra.  Though now that I’m sitting here thinking about it more, it’s probably worth the price.  The new rhythm games (Kung Fu and Marching Band) are pretty darned fun!!

When I was done playing video games, I promptly PTFOed.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avoiding reality

I’ve been avoiding reality since Christmas – this involves lots of pajama-wearing, movie-watching, and puzzle-putting-together.  Though 4 days was long enough to keep my laptop all closed up…I finally fired her up today and caught up on Christmas recaps in Google Reader.  And here I am writing my own.

First, some decorations!  Here are the critters’ stockings.  On top are Madigan and Brooks, and below are my bird Morgan (I made her little birdy foot stocking years ago!), the dogs BJ and Sophie, and my other cat Lucky.  Of course Santa visits them, too!

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Of course “she” didn’t forget my parents…

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But this Santa’s Little Helper forgot to take a picture of her own stocking.  Embarrassed  She did remember to take a picture of her presents from Santa, though!!

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Most of the unwrapped gifts have funny stories: I was with “Santa” when she purchased the mirrored star, as I picked it out and suggested we jump on it before it was sold out!  I bought a set of the set of mixing bowls a few weeks back, but Santa fell in love with them and had to buy a 2nd set.  The black and white gift basket in the back? Cheapo Walgreens products bought on clearance with me last year (“the appeal is in the package, it’s mostly for looks!” said Santa, and I agree).  The game in the front sounds really fun – but it calls for a minimum of 4 players.  I can’t wait to play it!!  In the big box is this gorgeous beverage server (which I forgot to photograph also…chalk it up to Christmas morning excitement):

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image source

Here are my flippin’ sweet PJ pants in size XL from Old Navy (no longer XXL!)

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My haul included some martini glasses, a cute purse, a sweet apron, some new dark brown Fuggs (“fake Uggs”), DVDs (The Hangover, Better Off Ted, Flight of the Conchords Season 2, Home Alone special edition), a journal, some house shoes, some money for new (SMALLER) clothes, and bunches of other things!  Check out this gift set box – I’m such a 3-year-old…I was almost as excited about the box as I was the amazing smelly stuff held safely within:

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Mom made Dad and me some fleecy alma mater blankets (check out my mirror star in the background!!):

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Tough break about Clemson whipping Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, Pops.

Maddy took lessons from an old man about how to open Christmas presents.

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The swimcap/penis hat looks much better on Mom, don’t you think?

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On Christmas morning, we had our traditional breakfast casserole (if only I had a buck for every instance of the word “casserole” on the blog over the past 2 months…) made mostly with bread, sausage, cheese, eggs, and milk, accompanied by crescent rolls (and my homemade apple butter!).  Oh sugary simple carbs, I miss you so.

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The rest of our day (the past 3 days, actually) was spent like this:

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Christmas movies and puzzles.  I gave this one to Mom on Christmas Eve (isn’t that easel stand thingy the coolest invention ever?  I’ve never seen a puzzle box like that!) and we put it together on Christmas day, followed by several others over the past couple of days…

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I got a little obsessed, to say the least.  There’s something deeply psychological, though, about starting a puzzle and being able to see it through to the finished product.  I don’t get that satisfaction often, especially in this house Where Things Don’t Get Finished.  Ooh, we (Lucky the cat included) also colored in our giant-ass Rudolph coloring bookNerd

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My eats lately were more casserole-heavy on Christmas and have been getting progressively more healthy and whole.  By tomorrow, I might just be back to eating normally!  The scale was up 0.8lb this morning, but I’m keeping all my phalanges crossed that it’s just icky bloaty water.  Another slightly worthless thing I’ve done over the holiday is get accustomed to my Wii again (by playing Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, a reward for losing 20lbs total that I hadn’t opened until now).  I fully intend to start using my fitness programs again, but y’all know how my intentions usually end up.

Can’t you share stats with friends on the Wii Fit if you’re hooked up to wireless?  Or am I making that up because it’s what I want to hear?  What’s your favorite game for the Wii?  Mine’s Rayman’s Ravin’ Rabbids TV Party – it’s got little mini-games and lets you play with friends…just yesterday Mom and I were sailing down snowy slopes using wildebeests as sleds, using our butt cheeks to steer on the balance board.  Love it.

PS – I got excited about that new fitness program, Your Shape with Jenny McCarthy, but read bunches of reviews saying the camera was too finicky and that the exercises weren’t much different than those in My Fitness CoachDoes anyone have any insight?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

12 shrimps a-spooning

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!!  This morning I awoke bright and early (cough 9am cough) and headed to the bank and grocery store.  It was pretty busy, but lots of people were cheerful!  When I got home, I went straight to tidying up the kitchen and finishing my cookies.  This was the first year I had my cake decorating tips, so I kinda went to town piping on the icing.  The royal icing I slapped on first was stiffer than I’d have liked, but I was too lazy to go back and thin it out (laziness is a theme on the ol’ blog, can’tcha tell?)

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Here are all that I made:

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See those dipped pretzel rods?  They’re leftovers from 2 weeks ago.  Don’t tell the neighbors.  I worked until about 2pm and was famished.  I had some smoked turkey with some kind of deli mustard and steamed broccoli + cauliflower with parmesan cheese.

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After lunch and tidying up, I showered and we delivered cookies to the neighbors.  I’ve always done it just to be nice, but in the past few years, they’ve started giving us goodies as well.  We got 2 jars of amazing homemade pickles, a loaf of Panera’s holycrapamazing holiday bread, and I got some Christmas money from our dear next door neighbor. 

One tradition I’m really missing this year is our Christmas punch.  Every Christmas Eve we make a punch with ginger ale, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, almond extract, and sugar, but this year we settled for Sierra Mist Free Cranberry Splash with some almond extract mixed in.  It was a poor substitute for my beloved punch, but it was something special to sip on during the day.  It would’ve helped if we had busted out the punch bowl, but with space as limited as it is in this temporary kitchen, we poured straight from the bottle.  I did dig out my stemless red wine glasses, though!

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Mom and Dad traditionally have boiled shrimp on Christmas Eve (I run hot and cold with shrimp…sometimes it weirds me out, so I don’t always have it), so I partook of some for my dinner.  I also made a green bean casserole, complete with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions…blehhhh.  Don’t get me wrong – it was amazing.  My heart and gallbladder are just probably slightly pissed at me.

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I pre-portioned my dinner so I wouldn’t keep nibbling, and Mom made fun of me for being so OCD about my shrimp.  I truthfully didn’t mean to lay them out in such an orderly fashion – it just kinda happened!  And yeah, that’s way too much green bean casserole.  I’m dealing with it.

I’m currently on my 2nd viewing of A Christmas Story – a movie I cannot watch until Christmas Eve.  I watched it earlier in December last year and spoiled it for myself.  Like eating a crappy McDonald’s cheeseburger mere hours before dining on five-star restaurant fare, when the main event (TBS marathon) arrived on December 24th, it just wasn’t as special.  So this year, I abstained until 8pm Christmas Eve.  Every year when I see the beginning credits start to roll, I get choked up…that means it’s really officially Christmas!!

I’m off to get gussied up for our church candlelight service.  Though I’m not a church-goer, it’s a tradition to attend and then come home to read The Littlest Angel with my Mom.  I’m 25, but I’m certain we’ll keep doing this until I have to read it to her.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Christmastiiiiiime is here….

…something sooooomething beeeer.  Speaking of which, you might wanna grab one and settle in…this is a long recap post!

I’m in the thick of Christmassing, and I love it!  Over the past couple of days, I’ve finished my shopping and wrapping, started cookie-baking (it’s been a tradition since I was a little girl that we make cookies and deliver them to the neighbors Christmas Eve), and participated in an awesome soiree with some very dear friends!

We switch up most of the cookies we make every year; here is this year’s roundup of baked goods:

“Melting Moments” – a shortbread-type thumbprint cookie with a powdered sugar glaze in the middle.  Instead of putting my thumb in it – which always makes the little well too shallow – I stick the end of a mixing spoon in each one. 

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It gives a deeper little well in which to put more frosting!  However this year my frosting was too thick.  I didn’t care, though…it still looked and tasted fine.  They look like little Muppet boobies.

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I baked chocolate chip cookies (one of our must-haves)…

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…and made some Diabetes Explosion Supreme sandwiches out of a few with the leftover frosting from the thumbprint cookies…

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Mom and I split one this evening and I subsequently got queasy due to sugar overload.  Oh yeah.  That means they’re good.  Wink  I’ve also got my mint brownies from the other day, as well as our other Christmas staple, the star of the show:

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Roll-out cut-out sugar cookies!  I’ve got some grandiose plans for decorating these bad boys tomorrow.  Though we’ll see if I carry those plans out.  Eye-rolling  (Side note: the recipe calls for orange zest but we’ve always skipped it…I decided to go all Martha this year and give it a shot.  Much to my surprise, the zest doesn’t just impart taste – it changes the entire texture!  They’re so moist and amazing, and a tad citrusy, when they’re usually hard and bland!!)  Also as a last-minute addition, I’m trying this recipe from Bon Appetit, one that several others have made and blogged about:

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Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies!  They’re cooling as we speak, and I still have yet to drizzle the white chocolate on top.  And while I wait, I’ve got some entertainment…

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That’s my Madigan parading her rawhide chew around (in front of an ugly-ass sheet covering our pool table).  You give this dog a bone and she walks around for 30 minutes showing everyone.  She acts all nonchalant, like “oh, what? this thing? yeah, I guess it’s cool…did you see it? should I walk by again?”  Even in front of the other two dogs when they have their own.  Bless her heart.  And yep, she’s wearing a Christmas ribbon on her collar!!

Today I had a doctor’s appointment and weighed in at 23lbs less than I did when I first walked in there 5 weeks ago!  I lost 6lbs over the past two weeks, which is a miracle considering I’ve had a few social events lately [read: I’ve eaten a lot of crap].  I’ve also lost 2-3 inches each on my bust, waist, and hips!  After my appointment, I had some time to kill before my MASSAGE!!!! so I went to World Market for a few goodies and ravenously tried to seek out food between there and my next stop.  I had every intention of packing lunch, but I’m lazy/forgetful/not running on all 8 cylinders in the morning, so thusly I was lunchless.  I tried a health food store that I’ve never been to but have passed many a time, 14 Carrot, in Lexington:

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I was looking for a grab-n-go salad, even a wrap, but I didn’t find anything.  I didn’t even see any indication that their deli made anything but smoothies.  Maybe I was just so overwhelmed I overlooked a menu, but I walked out empty-handed and empty-stomached.  I drove down the street closer to my massage therapist (my cousin’s wife!) and saw a Publix so I stopped for a surefire salad.  I bought it, drove further, parked, and ate in my car.  I was sooo hungry and scarfing it down like I’d never eat again, when I encountered ITA short hair whose color was vastly different than my own.  I stared at it a second, contemplated a split second more…then picked it out and kept eating.  I waited too late and could’ve gnawed off my own arm if given the proper seasoning, so a hairy salad was better than getting ornery during my massage (which was awesome, btw!) and having my quest for nirvana interrupted by my growling stomach. 

While I was at my appointment, I dropped off a present for my cousin’s 4-year-old daughter, Faith.  She’s the closest thing I might ever have to a niece, and I’m not good with kids, so I try to bond with her as much as possible.  She asked me to make her a hat to replace one she outgrew last year (“pink and yellow with sparkles, please!”), so I gave it to her mom to pass along today (the white yarn has iridescent sparkles!!).

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Faith called me on the phone this evening, and in her sweet little 4-year-old voice, told me how much she liked it and how perfectly it fit her.  My heart kinda grew 3 sizes today.  Open-mouthed

One more important thing!  Last night I attended an ornament exchange party at a friend’s house…we usually get together a few days before Christmas, and sometimes there’s 20 of us, but there are always this core group of girls.  When Mom looked at this picture last night, she said “you know, you all are kinda starting to look alike.”  That’s what growing up together will do to you!

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(plus 1 who hadn’t arrived yet!)

I’ve been friends with one of these gals for over 21 years!  A couple more for 19-20 years, and the others about 15 years.  Pretty cool bragging rights for a bunch of 25-year-olds!  I sure do got some fine-ass friends, right, y’all?? Hot  And of course, I ate naughty things:

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(for the record, I only ate one bite of that cookie!!)

…and I drank naughty things

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BUT I only drank two glasses of this amount, and I drank water all night!  I’d call that a victory!!  However, that does mean I can’t blame the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol on things like this:

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That’s just pure, old-fashioned silliness right there, folks.  We did a “White Elephant,” “Yankee Swap,” whatever you want to call it thing with our ornaments…but we’re all too nice – nobody stole from anyone else!  Some of us did end up trading afterward though.  Here’s the one I brought:

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And here’s the one I brought home:

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I sure am lucky to have such great friends who can all pick up where we left off!

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What are some of your Christmas traditions?  Do you get together with friends you grew up with when you go home?  Most importantly, what kind of cookies are you baking this year?!