Saturday, December 29, 2007

Good times in NYC

Our big trip to NYC was yesterday. It was great. We were able to take an express train and were in the city before 10 am. We took the subway from Herald Square up to and walked around Rockefeller Center and saw the giant Christmas tree (which is incredible, btw). We walked up 5th Avenue and peeked in all the fancy stores along the way. Mom and I ducked into St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was pretty impressive (both in size and beauty). W really enjoyed a spin around F.A.O. Schwarz; he especially liked the giant stuffed puppy dogs, which he would back up and run into head first, giggling with delight. We had a tasty lunch at a hamburger joint, which looked kind of like a hole-in-the-wall, but was actually really good, and well-priced, considering it was situated between 5th and Park avenues. Then we walked over to the CitiGroup Center and saw the holiday model train display (Mike loves model trains!). I was pretty amused at the woman in line in front of us. She had a little girl who was probably 2 and a half or 3, who was decked out in a Juicy Couture t-shirt, True Religion jeans, and silver cowgirl boots. Her mom was made up within an inch of her life and was carrying a couple of shopping bags from Fendi and Prada. You weren't allowed to bring strollers in to the train exhibit, and I noticed, after she abandoned her fancy-schmancy stroller, that there was a good-sized Tiffany's bag in the bottom basket. I thought, for a split second, about asking her if she thought it might be a good idea to carry it with her instead of leaving it like she had done... but something told me she probably already knew it and just didn't care.
After that, we took the subway over to Grand Central Station, where we were able to see the holiday light show on the ceiling (W thought that was pretty neat). By then it was close to time for my parents to take W back to NJ, so we escorted them back to Penn Station to catch the train. Mike and I then considered catching a train to Canada (ha!) but decided instead to amble around the Union Square area. We people-watched on a park bench for a good long while and even saw a guy wearing an LSU sweatshirt (Geaux Tigers!). We went to Strand Books, an incredible bookstore with over 18 miles of books.
By 5:30, we were getting super hungry, so we went on to Union Square Cafe. Let me cut to the chase: Our meal was incredible. We started with the calamari, which came with this anchovy mayonnaise dipping sauce. We also had their homemade garlic/parm potato chips. Mike had duck, I had steak. I had excellent red wine with my meal. The only disappointment was the mashed potatoes that came with my dish; I told Mike they tasted like school cafeteria mashed potatoes; he agreed with my assessment based on sight. We had a wonderful server; in fact, in searching for an image of USC to put in this post, I found this article about her! Very neat! After eating we considered staying in the city a little longer, but we were so tired that we just went ahead to the train station and just barely caught the 8:07 train. We were home by 10, as this wasn't an express train. All in all, a fantastic day. I'll post pictures soon.
And to top it all off, W did NOT fuss when my mom put him to bed. A miracle!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Look out, New York!

My parents have been here since Christmas Eve; it's great having them here. Tomorrow all of us are heading in to the Big Apple for a day of sight-seeing. We're taking an 8 o'clock train in (an Express one--43 minutes from our station to Penn Station!) and planning to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and the store displays along 5th Avenue, among other things. Mom and Dad are going to bring W back home around 3 in the afternoon and Mike and I are going to stay in the city for dinner and some after-dinner fun (we're going to try to get tix to a show). We have had dinner reservations at Union Square Cafe for weeks now--we made the reservations 2 weeks ago and they had TWO availabilities-- 5:45 and 8:15! We opted for the earlier one. We originally planned to stay in NYC for the night--we already had a hotel booked--but I chickened out about leaving W all night with my 'rents, mainly because he still isn't sleeping through the night consistently and often wants a 4 am nursing session. Anyway, we will have a wonderful dinner and time afterwards in NYC and then take a late train (10 or 11) back home. I am pretty excited.

Monday, December 24, 2007

For your Christmas viewing pleasure

One of my favorite movies of ALL TIME is on NBC tonight--It's a Wonderful Life. My mama told me that I needed to see this movie one summer when I was home from college and in a fairly deep depression. I mean REALLY deep depression. I was depressed about, among other things, the 1997 suicide-death of a dear friend and feeling pretty ready to check-out myself. Mama had me watch this movie for obvious reasons, for those of you who have seen the film. For those of you who haven't, do yourself a favor, and either watch it, TiVo it, or tape it. You won't regret it. Sure, there might be some cheesy parts in it, and yes, it is in black-and-white (which I don't care about, but some find b/w annoying), but I think you will appreciate the sentiment of the movie.
And for the record, yes, it is a very wonderful life these days!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas brownies

I just baked a bunch of brownies for our neighbors. Some have Andes mints baked into them. I bagged them up in little brown bags that I decorated with my kitty-cat "Caught up in the Christmas Spirit" stamp and then tied shut with red and green ribbons.
Shhhh! Don't tell anyone that I can actually be NICE sometimes...
By the way, when I was looking online for the image of my stamp, I noticed on Ebay where some people were selling cards (for $1.50 each!) they made by using the stamp and coloring in the little lights. That made me chuckle, since I got card stock and made my OWN Christmas cards this year with this stamp and some Crayola markers!


I just got off the phone with my mom. She and my dad are flying to NJ tomorrow to spend a week with us. I'm pretty excited, especially about seeing my dad, since he hasn't been to visit since he helped us move in back in June. Anyway, Mama was calling to see if I wanted her to bring the gift that my grandfather Archie (my dad's adoptive dad--Dad's biological father died when my grandmother was 7 months preggers) gave me for Christmas. Let me preface this by saying that Archie is one of the cheapest men on the face of the earth. Let me also say that he is pretty old and can't exactly go around buying extravagant gifts for people. That being said, I will continue. So Mama said that he gave me a Pyrex dish that had belonged to my grandmother (who died when I was 4). For the past few years he has been giving me and Mama things that belonged to her--costume jewelry, mainly--as well as a regular present, such as a gift card, or, as he did last year, a cashmere-like scarf. Okay, so this year, it's a Pyrex dish. Hmm. It's nice to have it since it belonged to my grandmother and she was a really good cook. But what did my three cousins get? Money. Cash. Ducats.
I am such a horrible person to even say what I have said--it sounds immature and shallow, right? I'm not complaining, really. I just think it's a little weird.
If you're sitting there and aren't convinced, let me put the icing on the cake for you. For our wedding gift, Archie "gave" me and Mike a picture he has hanging in his house. The catch? We can't have it till he croaks. Now you'll agree with me on the weirdness factor of the whole thing.


FYI, today is Festivus. Gather 'round Ye Olde Festivus Pole and air those grievances, people!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What a mess!

Here's a little holiday elf-ish-ness for y'all! This is W in his early-morning bed-head glory.

Here are pics of my latest cross-stitch projects that I put in the mail for friends this morning.

This is for a friend's 5-year-old daughter who is going to start losing teeth any day now. On the back of the piece is a little pocket for the tooth and money. It's to hang on the doorknob, because we all know how much the tooth fairy hates to have to search for a tooth under the pillow!

This is a Christmas ornament for the same little girl. I also got her this craft kit that lets you make your own pencil erasers. You make your erasers with the provided Sculpey clay, bake it for a certain amount of time, and volia! You've got a personalized eraser!

This ornament is for the daughter of another friend. This little girl is 2; I just sent her a "Birthday Blessings" cross-stitch for her birthday, which was last week. I also sent a door-hanging that says "Diva" in hot pink glittery letters, since that is what her mama calls her.
This is for the son of my dearest friend. Her little boy was born in March. I also sent him a touch-and-feel book with farm animals in it. W loves those types of books, so I figured her little guy might appreciate it too.
All the designs I posted above are by Lizzie Kate.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

I had a nice birthday today. Mike got the bag for me that I wanted. He printed out the webpage with the picture and description of the bag and went to the store in Princeton that carries Vera Bradley bags. He handed the clerk the print-out and said, "I need this for my wife". The clerk was very accommodating. I also got a sweet card from Mike, W, Kramer, Willie and Maggie. My in-laws got me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. They have a deal going on right now where you get THREE years for 20 bucks. Not bad! My mom (and dad) got me a pair of brown wedge-heel boots when I was in MS over Thanksgiving, as well as Season 3 of 90210. Mom and dad are bringing it for me when they come next week for Christmas. I cannot wait to watch some of the best 90210 episodes EVER. Let's see... Donna and Brenda go to France, Dylan and Kelly hook up, Kelly od's on diet pills and...... DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

RIP Santa?

What is it with parents telling their kids that Santa is dead?? Sure "St. Nicholas" the person is dead... But SANTA?? No no no. Let kids believe in the "magic" of Santa as long as possible. Rachel felt my distress at this development and sent this picture to me:

When W gets older, Mike and I have decided that we will let him believe for as long as he wants to and then take the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" approach.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas prep

I just ordered W some books and a DVD from to take advantage of their free super-saver shipping (I think today was the last day to get it in time for Christmas delivery). They also have their great 4-for-3 promo on a lot of stuff. I was able to get him three books, a DVD, and a 2008 calendar for me for $30. Not bad. The DVD is a Sesame Street one called "Sing, Hoot and Howl with the Sesame Street Animals." He'll love it since he loves SS and he is nuts about animals of any kind. The DVD has the muppet animals, plus videos of real animals. I got him a few "lift the flap" books as well since he has a few already and really likes manipulating the flaps and gets all excited when he sees what's underneath. The calendar I got for myself is by Anne Taintor. I love her stuff. She takes (real) pictures of women from the 1940s and 1950s and adds kitchy, sassy phrases such as "of course it buys happiness" and "make your own damn dinner." I think I'll enjoy it all year long. I had a grocery list pad for a while (I've used it all up" by Anne Taintor that said "frugal is such an ugly word" across the top. It was great. I miss it.
I assembled several cross-stitched Christmas ornaments last night that I've got to get mailed tomorrow. Our mail around here is super-slow, so I need to give it plenty of time to get to Mississippi. I did ornaments for some friends' kids and I assembled the "Welcome Tooth Fairy" door-hanger for another little girl. I'll post pics when I get a chance.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas scent

I am very into "smells." I like the smell of "Christmas," whether it's pine- or cinnamon-scented candles (cranberry is good too!). Unfortunately a lot of the "seasonal" candles irritate Mike's allergies, so I have had to find an alternative. Lots of people do some sort of variation of a stove-top potpourri, but I started doing this particular "recipe" last year and really enjoy it, so I thought I would share.

In a saucepan, combine the following:
  • 1 quart water
  • 5-6 cinnamon sticks (break some if you want)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • tablespoon of whole cloves
  • 1/2 an orange, cut into quarters (you can squeeze some juice out into the water if you want)
  • 1/2 a lemon, cut into quarters (again, squeeze some juice if you want)
Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer. You can store the mixture in the fridge (covered) for a few days, just add some water when you put it back on the stove. Some of the ingredients (cinnamon and cloves) can be expensive, so just buy the cheapest available. You're not going to be eating it, so the quality doesn't really matter. I got one of those "restaurant" size containers of cinnamon sticks at the store because they were priced 2/$7, as opposed to the McCormick brand, which would have cost $4.99.

W is doing some fun new things. To name a few:
  1. Identifying (pointing, etc) certain body parts, namely arms, hands, nose, tummy and mouth
  2. Says "ga" for "cat" and "ba" for "ball"
  3. Says "da" for Dad and "ma" for Mom
  4. Points at kitchen cabinet when he wants food (this isn't necessarily a positive development)
  5. Follows some two-step directions (today I asked him to "Go get the ball and bring it to Mama", which he did)
  6. Gently pets his kitties and doggie
He's a busy boy!

Wintry mix

I need to go to the grocery store, but can't because the weather is too nasty. We are down to one pitiful banana. Mike and I ate the last grapefruit last night, W and I ate the last apple at lunch. This is pathetic! It's snowing/raining/sleeting outside and it's just disgusting. We are under a winter weather advisory until 11 tonight, so it doesn't look promising for a late-afternoon run to the store either. Looks like another night of cereal for dinner!
The entire right side of my Christmas tree is ornament-less right now. Between Kramer and W, I can't keep it decorated to save my life. I can't put the decorations back on when W pulls them off because then he gets the idea that it's fun to take them off and have them put back on again. I found him chewing on a gold glitter "snowflake" earlier today. God knows what kind of toxins he ingested.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas cheer

In spite of the continuing dreary weather, I am actually feeling somewhat chipper. I think I can chalk that up to feeling the Christmas spirit. Even though W doesn't know what is going on, he gets so excited about the Christmas lights that are up everywhere, including those in our house. We have them on our Christmas tree, as well as mixed with evergreen garland on top of the entertainment center (the LSU helmet lights add a nice touch, I think). Unfortunately he has figured out how to turn OFF (and therefore, ON) the tree lights. There is a little step-on button that sits on the floor that makes a satisfying "click" noise that he really appreciates, so a few times a day, our living room turns into a "strobe-lit club scene."
I am also feeling Christmas-y because I got my Christmas cards mailed today--all 93 of them! W helped me get stamps yesterday; boy, was that fun. The line at the PO was annoyingly long, of course. There was a woman there with a dolly of gifts, plus more stacked on a counter. She was ahead of me, but when she got to the counter and the clerk asked her if she needed to insure anything, she said yes, but hadn't filled out the form, so she had to go do that, and volia, it was my turn! Thus began the Choosing of the Stamps.
I am not a big fan of either Christmas design this year, but had settled on these:
Well, they were sold out. I don't like the other Christmas design this year AT ALL:

Well, these looked sort of Christmas-y...

And this just doesn't say "Christmas" if you know what I mean...
So naturally, I picked these:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A dreary day

I've been a little under the weather for the past week or so, which explains the lack of updates. It stayed cold all week, but this week should be warmer. My in-laws were here all week, so they were able to keep W pretty busy so I could get to feeling a bit better. When they left on Friday they took Eudora with them back to Mississippi. She is going to be living with my parents from now on since she can't really be around the baby. We just couldn't trust her.
I've gotten a lot of cross-stitching done recently. I did a birthday one for my friend's daughter's 2nd birthday, a "Welcome, Tooth Fairy" piece for another friend's daughter, and I'm putting the finishing touches on a "My 1st Christmas" ornament for my dearest friend's son who was born in March.
I couldn't fall asleep last night so I stayed up for a while reading a book I picked up at the library yesterday, The Pinball Theory of the Apocalypse, by Jonathan Selwood. It's pretty amusing and very brief. I'm about halfway through it. The book is about a disillusioned native Los Angeleno artist who makes her living painting reproductions of masterpieces and replacing the people in them with today's pop icons. Her work is favored by the nouveau riche who have enough money to throw around on original art, but not enough to acquire pieces by the masters. The narrator's life seems to be as unstable as the ground beneath her native city (which is plagued by a quake and aftershocks throughout the book). So far, she has locked horns with her art dealer/wannabe agent, lost her boyfriend of 6 years to a 16-year-old Latina Britney Spears, and been turned away from her apartment due to damage from the quake. Can it get any worse? Probably so; I have 100 pages to go.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Geaux Tigers

Victory for LSU? We'll see. January 7, 2008, 7 pm, Louisiana Superdome. It'll be televised on Fox.
It's a shame, though, that Mizzou didn't make it to a BCS bowl. Reason #29865 that the BCS system is dumb.
For a comprehensive schedule of bowl games, click here.

White stuff

We had some of the white stuff yesterday. Not much, just a light dusting. It was fun seeing W's reaction to his first snow experience. He liked "marching" in place on the sidewalk where it was a little icy, and therefore, crunchy. His Grandpa Bob helped him up several times when he slipped and wound up in a split. He wore his new snow boots, along with his heavy coat, mittens and hat. He was pretty cute.
I'm working on a "Birthday Blessings" cross stitch for my friend's daughter's birthday. She turns 2 mid-month, so I'm working feverishly to finish it and get it mailed to her in time.
We have our Christmas tree up and decorated. I got non-breakable ornaments so that W and the cats wouldn't be able to cause too much damage. It's decorated with burgundy and gold. I'll post pictures at some point; I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. We don't have any of our "special" ornaments on it because of W's penchant for curiosity. Those will have to wait till next year to go on display. I suppose I could hang a garland above a doorway and put them on the garland... That's a possibility.
I need a new tote bag. Of course, like every female I know, I have tons of bags, but (again, like every female I know) I have a "favorite" that I use all the time. I've been carrying the same Longchamp bag on and off since college. It's a great size; I can use it not only for a purse, but also for a W stash bag. However, I think it's time to mix it up a bit. So this is what I hope I get for my birthday. I think it's a fun color, and it's the perfect size for my needs. I could use it as an everyday purse, plus I could stash a book, Sudoku, or cross stitch project inside. Excellent!