Friday, December 23, 2011

How I'll Spend My Christmas Vacation

I saved up enough vacation time this year to take off the entire week between Christmas and New Year's.  I have a half day today, and don't return to work until January 3.  AMAZING. :-)

This is pretty much how I plan to spend my time:

Wine, books and music, curled up on a comfy recliner in my den... To be interrupted only by our traditional New Year's Eve trip to Wildwood with some friends from college for some late-night water sliding.

What are your plans for the holidays?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Halfway Out of the Dark

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! 

Depending on where you live, the winter solstice is either today (if you live in or west of CST) or tomorrow (if you live east of CST).  The article I linked to above shows you how to determine the approximate time the solstice occurs for you.  I live in EST, so for me it's 12:30am on December 22.

Photo by Andrew Dunn
This is probably not a big surprise seeing as I am a bit of a nerd who throws parties in honor of things like the Perseid meteor shower, but I really like that tradtions such as adorning our houses with Christmas lights and candles and burning a Yule log originated from the fact that winter solstice (a function of the earth's axial tilt and its position in relation to the sun) marks when the nights start to get shorter and the days get longer.  I'm also a fan of the fact that using evergreens to decorate the home symbolizes the persistence of life in the dead of winter. 

So much of the imagery and symbolism behind this season is just so hopeful and optimistic, and because much of it is actually rooted in astronomy just makes it that cooler!

Last year's Doctor Who Christmas special (if you haven't watched it, you should!) used the term "halfway out of the dark" to describe this time of year.  Personally, I think that's a fantastic description, both from a literal and metaphorical perspective. :-)

(Speaking of which, 4 days til this year's Christmas special!  Is anyone else going through Doctor Who withdrawal??)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

All Wrapped Up

I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping - just one more thing on my list!

In the meantime, I've started wrapping the gifts I do have.

This year I decided to use brown kraft paper and ribbon (along with adorable handmade tags I bought at a craft show!) instead of my usual printed wrapping paper and bows.

I'm pretty happy with the results so far:

I absolutely LOVE that I was able to get a 30" x 40' roll of the kraft paper for $5.  MUCH more cost effective than traditional wrapping paper, and I think I was able to give the gifts a bit more personality this way.  (Although I suspect most of my wrapping paper savings will go towards buying piles and piles of fun ribbon...)

What do you think about kraft paper for wrapping gifts?  Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Deck the Halls

I got a bit of a late start on Christmas decorating this year.  We didn't get our tree until last week, and it's probably the fattest tree we've had so far:

Note Elvis's doggy bed to the right of the tree.  \Probably not the best placement, but amazingly, we haven't had any ornament casualties so far.

Our fireplace is a testament to how obsessed we are with our pets:

The elaborate stockings on either end of the fireplace are actually ours, my mom made mine for me when I was little and made one for Glen after we got married.  But naturally, Elvis has the biggest stocking.  Our rats, Nory and Sery, and our degus, Barnum and Bailey, each have their own tiny green stocking.  Call us crazy, but I think it's adorable. :-)

And of course, we have some greenery and candles on the mantel:

I don't even remember where I bought that, but I love it.  As I type this, I'm snuggled up on the couch with Elvis, with the candles flickering and the tree lit up, and it's so cozy!

We don't have a ton of decorations in the den, but this one is really cute:

Glen's parents bought it for us a few years back, when we were still in the apartment.  I break it out around Christmas, and I leave it out pretty much all winter.

And here's a sneak peak of the dining room table (we're hosting Christmas dinner this year, so expect photos of the place settings in a week or so!):

The centerpiece is made from live greenery, my mom picked it up for me when we went to Christkindlmarkt last weekend.  So pretty. :-)  Apparently if I remember to water it a couple of times a week it should last well into January. 

Have any of you posted photos of your holiday decor?  If so, share the link in the comments - I'd love to check it out!

P.S.  Have you seen this photo on Bookshelf Porn?

I don't think I could forgo a live tree altogether, but I kind of want to try a miniature version of this next year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sinatra Night 2011

If you've been reading this blog for at least a year, you know that Glen and I have a tradition of celebrating Frank Sinatra's birthday by getting dressed up and inviting our friends over for booze, food and Rat Pack music.

Frank's birthday fell on a Monday this year, so we celebrated two days early.

Please forgive the glare in that picture... It didn't occur to me at the time that we were standing right in front of a window.  Oops!

By the way, that's the dress my parents got me for my birthday.  It's the first piece of clothing I've gotten from ModCloth and I'm kind of in love.  I think I may be addicted now...

One of the highlights of my night was getting to spend time with these lovely ladies!  We all went to high school together, and I've known each of them for anywhere from 14 to all of my 29 years! 

This may very well be my favorite photo of the evening.  Right in the middle of the party, Elvis decided it was nap time.  He climbed right on Glen's lap, curled up, and went to sleep. 

As always, we had a wonderful time, and I'm already looking forward to next year's party! :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Just One Person

The Muppets has been out for a couple of weeks now, but after reading some articles about it online yesterday, I found myself browsing YouTube and found some amazing, incredibly moving stuff from Jim Henson's memorial service, including:

-Big Bird singing "It's Not Easy Being Green":

(I got a little teary-eyed on this one, especially at the end.)

-Frank Oz giving a eulogy:

(I laughed an awful lot, but started crying a bit at the end.)

And this performance of the song "Just One Person":

(When the performers and their Muppets start pouring onto the stage after the first few verses I lost it. Totally. And. Completely. Lost. It.)

Mind you, all of this crying happened at my desk at work, during my lunch hour.  Thank goodness I have my own office, with a door that closes, or I'd have completely humiliated myself. 

It's really kind of ridiculous how I can still find myself grieving the death of someone I've never met, someone who died when I was only 7 years old, nearly 22 years ago.  But the fact of the matter is that I grew up on Jim Henson's work (most notably Fraggle Rock), and it played a significant role in shaping my view of the world... and considering the following quote, I suppose that isn't such a bad thing!

When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here. -Jim Henson

Monday, December 5, 2011

Busiest. Weekend. Ever.

How was your weekend?

Mine was incredibly busy, but also incredibly fun.  And now I am incredibly tired.

I spent Friday night frantically trying to replenish inventory, since I managed to sell quite a bit of stuff at the open house on Sunday.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning for my second-to-last craft show of the season, Crafts in the Warren Tech.  I had to leave my house at 7:00, and the show ran from 9:00-4:00, the longest one I did this year.  No sooner did I get home and unpacked than we had to leave for our friends' Chrismukkah party. (For the record: My friends and I started celebrating Chrismukkah before The O.C. made it cool.)  We didn't get home until nearly 2:00 in the morning.

Up bright and early again on Sunday for my final craft show of the season, then went to my husband's show at SteelStacks.  His guests were both folks we went to college with, both of whom I haven't seen in quite awhile, so it was great being able to hang out with them for a bit!

Here they are interviewing comic book journalist Jill Pantozzi of Has Boobs, Reads Comics and The Mary Sue:

Note: While Eric and I DID date for a few months about 10 years ago (ugh, typing that made me feel SO old), I am NOT the cheating ex-girlfriend.  I am the girlfriend he dated to get to Glen.  They were even roommates one year back in college, and Eric was a groomsman in our wedding!  Now my husband and my ex-boyfriend do things like snuggle and go on road trips together.  Not awkward at all. ;-)

And I couldn't possibly end this post without sharing a picture Eric took of me wearing the helmet from his costume: 

Stylish, I know.

After about 5 hours of sleep last night (we didn't get home from dropping Eric off in Philly until around 1:30) I feel like I should be more tired than I am.  Perhaps I was energized by such a fun weekend.  It is equally likely that I've moved beyond tired into delirious.  Probably the latter.  But so worth it. :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Open House: Success!

Today I hosted a holiday open house for myself and 5 other local crafters/vendors.  This was the first time I've ever done anything like this and it was exhausting, nervewracking and fun.

I completely flaked out on taking any pictures of the event, but I was pretty impressed that my relatively small house was able to accomodate 6 crafters and vendors plus a bunch of guests without feeling too claustrophobic. I had to rearrange some furniture, but some things, including the fireplace and the piano, served quite nicely for people to display their wares.

In addition to making a nice little profit for the day, I also got some Christmas shopping done.  I won't post pictures of any of the gifts I bought (don't want to ruin anyone's surprise!) but I did purchase a nice little piece of holiday decor from my friend Hannah, who just started making wreaths:

She doesn't have a website or online shop at this point, but if she does start one, I'll be sure to post the link here! :-)

Other wonderful crafters and vendors at this event included:
  • Krystyn of KameKnits, who makes gorgeous scarves, hats, gloves, blankets, and even stuffed animals! 
  • Kristin, a Miche Bag rep (Check out her website for great Cyber Monday deals!)
  • Jo Marie, an Arbonne rep (Also check out her website.  She's super nice, and I think I may now be an Arbonne convert!)
  • Sue, who doesn't have a website or online shop, but she designs BEAUTIFUL handmade greeting cards.  If you live in the Lehigh Valley and would be interested in checking out her work, send me an email with your contact info and I'll pass it along to her.
It was definitely a nice way to close out my 4-day Thanksgiving weekend.  Other festivities included not one, but TWO Thanksgiving dinners, a trip to the dog park, playing with the Easton Municipal Band at the Peace Candle lighting in downtown Easton, and a pre-birthday outing at The Bookstore.

Lilly (Kristin's dog), Molly (my "niece", who belongs to my older brother-in-law and his wife), and Elvis

At the candlelighting ceremony.  It reminds me of something that would happen in Stars Hollow.

It generates quite a crowd!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Living Room Decor

When we first moved into our house 2 1/2 years ago, we put sooo much effort into tearing down wallpaper and painting that I couldn't bring myself to put many nails in the walls.

Which is why until last week, these were the only things on the wall in the living room:

The posters are Casablanca and His Girl Friday, we've had them since we lived in the apartment.
So until recently, the wall where the fireplace is was empty, and the only way to tell what time it was from the living room was to crane our necks to see through the archway to the kitchen and squint while we attempted to read the clock on the stove.

That's the rat cage on the right. 
I really wish Nory and/or Sery were poking their little heads out when I took this!

But when a 50% off clock sale at Kohl's coincided with a 30% off coupon, I decided this one would be perfect above the mantel:

It's a really small change, but it's functional and helps to give at least a little more personality to the space. ;-)

Note that we have taken to protecting the couch from Elvis fur with a Spiderman blanket. 
Next on the shopping list: a blanket that somewhat matches the couch. :-P

 Tomorrow's my last day of work before a 4-day week, and I am SO ready for a break!  This year I'll be eating two Thanksgiving dinners - one at my parents' place and one at my in-laws' place.  Are you doing anything fun for Thanksgiving this year??

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Openin', Another Show!

Ok, actually it's just another craft show, this post has nothing to do with the theatre, but Sinatra Night 2011 is just around the corner and I've been listening to (and playing) a lot of Cole Porter pieces. ;-)

Anyway, I've officially added my 8th and final show for Fall 2011. I'll be at Holland Township School on December 4 from 1:00 til 4:00. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello!

And if you're in or near Lopatcong, NJ tonight, stop by the holiday bazaar at the middle school between 6:00 and 9:00!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Gonna Need a Lot of Coffee...

...if I expect to make it through the rest of this month!

This past weekend wasn't too bad, especially since I had Friday off from the day job.  I did, however, have a holiday bazaar from 6-9 that night, and that went fairly well.  I switched up the display just a little bit though.  I've kind of starting to not really care for the acrylic easel-style displays I've been using for the past two years, as seen on the risers here:

I decided to swap them out with the velveteen easels that give the buyer a better idea of how the necklace will look on.  I think it makes the display look less cluttered, as well:

Anyway, that show went well - I made a decent amount of sales, and I found out about a group on Facebook for local vendors and crafters, so hopefully that will help me find lots of shows to do next year!  I worked at the library on Saturday, and Glen and I spent Sunday afternoon doing yard work.  There was a solid layer of leaves covering our entire yard.  It was pretty bad, I'm still kind of sore from all the raking.

My schedule for the next week and a half is pretty crazy.  In addition to working, I'll be going to Glen's show tonight, I have another holiday bazaar Friday night, a craft show Saturday, possibly attending another of Glen's shows on Sunday, band rehearsal Monday, Thanksgiving, playing with the band at the Peace Candle lighting ceremony Friday, and I'll be hosting a holiday open house for some local crafters and vendors on Sunday the 27th. 

I'm quite excited about that last one.  It's a relatively small thing, just 4 crafters and 2 vendors, but between the 6 of us we should be able to get lots of friends and family to show up and do some Christmas shopping.  I'm planning to serve coffee, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and plenty of appetizers and desserts.  And we recently inherited a LOT of old Christmas records, so perhaps I'll put some of those on.

Of course, Elvis will be banished that afternoon, possibly to play at the dog park.  I'm sure he'd love to hang out with the visitors at the house, but I don't trust him to not knock over someone's display or steal people's food. ;-) 

And speaking of the pup, we went to Petco the other day to pick up his food.  We feed him the Synergy variety of Natural Balance because of the high protein content, it's the only way he can keep weight on.  While Elvis and I made our way through the dog food section, I saw this:

Seriously, Natural Balance?  SERIOUSLY?!?!  I can't think of a single good reason for this.  But then again, there are probably people who can't think of a single good reason to save bits of filet mignon for their dog, but Glen and I do that... So I guess to each his own?? ;-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Shiny, New Dog Park!

Until this past weekend, the closest dog park was a 20-minute drive away.  Elvis is absolutely insane in the car, so it was usually a very long 20 minutes!

So naturally, I was incredibly excited when a new dog park opened on Saturday, a mere 10 minutes from my house.  The park is located next to the also newly-opened Karl Stirner Arts Trail, along the Bushkill Creek, and you have to walk a little ways along the trail to get to it - no problem for a high-energy guy like Elvis. ;-)

The park isn't huge, but it's certainly big enough for Elvis to run around like a maniac:

That's him on the right-hand side of the photo, near the rock. 

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of Elvis with his new friends, but he did make a bunch of them.  One of his favorite games at home is for Glen or I to chase him in circles around the dining room table.  Well, I think that game has been supplanted by getting chased in circles around the dog park by 5 of his new doggy friends.  He had the biggest, goofiest grin on his face the whole time, with a hint of smugness because he knew he was faster than any of them.  We even got a mention in the local paper, as did Elvis' new buddy Nemo.  And for the record, Mr. Malone, Elvis is a black and white ball of energy, NOT a brown and white ball of energy. ;-)

I have to admit that at first I was annoyed by the lack of parking in close proximity to the dog park... but I guess if this is where I have to walk to get to the park, I can't be too mad about it:

How was your weekend?  Did you get to enjoy the same wonderful, crisp fall weather we had here in the Lehigh Valley?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Bazaar

Do I win a prize for lamest blog post title ever??? ;-)

Seriously though, it looks like I'll be doing quite a number of holiday bazaars/shopping nights this year in addition to the usual Saturday craft shows.  My show on November 11 is a holiday bazaar at an elementary school, and I just sent in an application for another one at a local middle school that's going to be held on November 18.  And I just got another email about a third bazaar that's being held November 17, which I'd like to do as long as I can switch my usual library shift to another night that week.  At this point, I'm really liking the whole holiday bazaar/shopping night thing because they only take up a few hours on a weeknight, as opposed to an entire Saturday. 

If I am able to do both of those bazaars, I'll be up to a total of 4 shows in November alone, and 7 shows for the entire season.  That's on top of my regular full-time job and my part-time job at the library.  And it occurs to me that it might be a good idea to bulk up my inventory a bit, since I was only anticipating doing 4 or 5 shows.  Plus I still haven't gotten around to posting any new items in my Etsy shop, which I would really, really like to do before Thanksgiving.  Think I'll be tired by the time December rolls around??

Edit : I completely forgot about yet another tentative date for a holiday bazaar - I got an email about one that may be taking place on December 4.  So make that a total of 8 shows this season.  Eek!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I know I said I'd have pictures of my Halloween costume up yesterday, but when we got home from the Halloween party, we came home to this:
Thanks, nor'easter in October!
We spent the morning (and part of the afternoon) turning that mess into this mess: 

By the time evening rolled around I just wanted to sleep. ;-)

Anyway, here's my Amelia Pond costume in its entirety:

Just pretend my hair is the same color as what was on the box.

And here I am with my husband, the 11th Doctor (and his brand new sonic screwdriver):

Since I put so much effort into my costume, I decided to dress up again to hand out candy to the trick-or-
treaters tonight, but sadly not a single one knew who Amelia Pond is. :-(

Oh, and Glen was filming a segment tonight for his November show at SteelStacks, so this is the type of scene trick-or-treaters were likely to encounter:

Tyler and Mike, two of the show's writers/correspondents.
Something tells me this is going to negatively impact the number of trick-or-treaters we get next year.  Or just completely change the demographic. ;-)\

Friday, October 28, 2011

Handmade Halloween: A Retrospective

Ever since my first Halloween, I've had a long-standing tradition of wearing handmade costumes.  This tradition was started by my very talented mother, who made all the costumes from my early years:
Me as a witch in 1984. 

Me as She-Ra in 1986.  One of my absolute favorite costumes ever.

Sometimes I'd make costumes completely on my own, with no intervention from my mother:

This is what happens when you leave a not-quite-8-year-old to her own devices. In case you couldn't guess, I was a Martian in 1990.

And sometimes, your Catholic school decides that the only way students are allowed to wear costumes for Halloween is if they dress up as saints:

Here I am as Kateri Tekakwitha in 1993. 
I designed this costume based on illustrations from a biography of her, and my mom sewed it.

Fast-forward to fall of 2003, my junior year of college, and the She-Ra costume returned, this time made 100% by me.

That's my good friend Jency as Harry Potter on the left. 
And that is definitely not an alcoholic beverage in my hand 1 month before my 21st birthday.

I kind of cheated in 2007.  I didn't actually MAKE my costume so much as cobble it together from things I found in Halloween stores and things I already owned.  The skirt and boots were already in my wardrobe.  I bought the wig, pitchfork red fishnets and t-shirt.

You can't see it in this picture, but my t-shirt says "I feel a sin coming on."  Classy, I know. ;-)

This year I've returned to the grand tradition of a proper handmade costume.  The only element I purchased from a Halloween store was the hat, which was still modified.  Everything else was thrifted, already in my closet, or made from scratch.  Also, I returned to the grand tradition of asking my mom for help.  Here's a little sneak preview:

Doctor Who fans will probably guess that my costume is Amelia Pond.  My husband already dresses like The Doctor most of the time, so his costume mostly involved updating his sonic screwdriver to the 11th Doctor's, since until this week he only had the 10th Doctor's.  We'll be attending a Halloween party this weekend, so expect pictures before Sunday's over. :-)

Are you going to any Halloween parties?  What are you going as?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cherry Truffle

Usually when I dye my hair, I opt for Natural Instincts in Cinnaberry. My natural hair color is medium to dark brown with red highlights, and Cinnaberry gives those highlights a nice little boost without looking unnatural.

However, I needed to go a bit more red for my Halloween costume this year, so I went with a L'Oreal color called "cherry truffle."
Also, I switched brands without doing a patch test 48 hours before dyeing. I like to live dangerously.

My hair's still wet so I can't share the results just yet, but I'll definitely post photos of my new hair color (and my Halloween costume!) after this weekend.

Oh, and the craft show this past Saturday went pretty well! This one was well established and there was a decent crowd, so I made a pretty good profit for the day. And I processed my first credit card purchase! It's kind of silly how excited I was about it. My next show is November 11, so here's hoping I make lots more sales, credit card or otherwise! ;-)

UPDATE: While my hair is redder (more red?) than before,it's more mahogany than cherry truffle. I managed to take a quick picture between jobs tonight, and you can see that it's actually quite red where the light catches it.

I guess this means I'll have to spend a lot of time directly under bright lights during the party on Saturday?? ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Historic Haunts

Last night, Glen and I went on a Halloween-themed double date with some friends. 

The Historic Haunts ghost tour departs from the Moravian Bookshop in Bethlehem, PA: 

The tour guide took us to various historic sites around downtown Bethlehem and told us stories about ghosts that supposedly make appearances at those sites.  Regardless of whether you believe there's any truth to those stories, the tour was full of interesting historical information, and we got to see some gorgeous old buildings.

Here's a photo of the tour outside the Sun Inn:

Please forgive my finger in the upper left-hand corner.  I still haven't quite mastered taking pictures with my iPhone without blocking the lense. ;-)

Anyway, the Sun Inn is actually going going to be on Ghost Hunters later this year.  Apparently the T.A.P.S. folks were there a few weeks ago.  I've only seen a handful of episodes of this show, but I just may have to tune in to that one to see a local landmark!

The tour ended back at the bookshop, where there was hot apple cider.  We ended the evening with dinner and pumpkin ale at the Bethlehem Brew Works

Elvis is getting into the Halloween spirit, too.  Here he is napping on the couch and snuggling the monster squeaky toy Glen got him this week:

What have you been doing this month to get into the Halloween spirit?
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