Saturday, December 30

an incidental redecoration

Sometime last month, Jake and Lizzy managed to bend the handles on my wine opener (I'm guessing Lizzy knocked the wine opener stand over and Jake tramped on it). This wasn't any old wine opener, either--it was a silver-plated limited edition one given to me for Christmas a couple of years ago by Brian's dad. I wasn't too happy about this. Our jeweler recommended someone who might be able to fix it, but they were not able to due to the type of metal it was.

I searched the internet for parts and finally came upon the manufacturer's website. I was able to order exactly what I needed and the price wasn't too bad, either. I was pretty excited to find this site because all parts for my opener are available. However, when I received my part, there was a note on my receipt saying that this was the last one they had.

Given that, I decided to find a safer haven for my wine opener. It had been knocked over a few other times in the past and I didn't want it to happen again since the last time was nearly fatal. I ended up putting it in the nook by my sideboard, which used to house our Grandmother clock. It should be pretty safe there. Upon doing that, we took a good look at the room and ended up moving everything that was on the walls to a different spot, too. We also moved a piece of art from the living room into the dining room. Brian has to make two picture frames, but other than that, the walls are done in there.

While I was at it, we removed an ugly phone jack that was no longer in use. Doing this left an outlet-sized hole in the plaster that I had to fix. It wasn't anything I hadn't done before, but moving the location of my wine opener sure turned into a bigger job than anticipated.

Friday, December 29

kalifornia

We watched this movie last night. It starred Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis. The movie was rather reminiscent of Natural Born Killers (which also starred Juliette Lewis), but not quite as good. We did enjoy it, though. This movie actually came out a year before NBK, so it wasn't quite the rip-off I thought it was.

It was interesting to see Pitt playing a total bumpkin, who also happens to be a serial killer. Much like Tom Cruise, the guy can't grow a beard to save his life (but it still didn't hurt to look at him). To be honest, if the movie starred anyone else, I wouldn't have bothered to watch it, but when Brad Pitt is on the screen, nothing else matters.

Thursday, December 28

nine lives

Brian and I watched this movie last night. I have to say, we were both really impressed with it. The story presented one clip each from nine women's lives, some of which intersected. While each clip had a similar theme, the stories were all very different. It was definitely a unique movie, but it didn't really tell a story in the traditional sense. It sparked a 30 minute conversation afterwards, if that tells you anything. This one's worth watching again.

Wednesday, December 27

the fifth day of christmas

We made a road trip to Maryland this afternoon and visited Brian's grandmother. She spent Christmas with Brian's aunt's family this year so we didn't get to see her until today. It was a pretty nice drive because it's all country roads and there's never any traffic. Plus, the weather was good so that made it especially nice. Of course, I slept practically the whole way there because 1. I always sleep in the car and 2. I was all sneezy today so I took a benadryl before we left.

Brian's parent's were there. And, their big dog, too. We stayed for a few hours and then headed home before dark. We spent part of this evening putting some of our gifts away, but now we're down to the hard stuff--finding a place for everything Jake got--so we're taking a break from that until tomorrow. Maybe there will be more room then.

Tuesday, December 26

the fourth day of christmas

We have this thing with our families where each of us is required to visit the other familys' house once per Christmas season. We've already been to Brian's parent's house (Christmas Eve) and my parent's have been here (Christmas Day), so we knocked out the other two today.

We went to my parent's house at lunchtime and they ordered some wings and pizza. That was a nice change of pace from the past few days. We hung out for a little bit and then played a couple of games of Boggle. I kicked everyone's ass. Multiple times (do you sense a theme here)?

This evening, Brian's parent's came over. Drinks were drunk, snacks were eaten. It was a good time.

Now that all of that is done, I can do one of my favorite Christmas things--put all of the gifts away.

Monday, December 25

the third day of christmas

Today was the big day. I was planning on getting up around 8am (or whenever Jake happened to get up), but I awoke at 5:30am and could not fall back asleep. I tossed and turned for a while before I decided to get up and get to work. I went to the kitchen, cleaned it and started to work on Christmas dinner. After a little while, Jake poked his head out of the hallway and I told him that Santa didn't come. He yelled, "Get to bed!" as he thought it was still night time. I told him that it was actually the morning and to go wake up his dad so we could open gifts.

Jake had just about as much fun opening his gifts this morning as he did last night. After that he went to work on his new toys (that kept him busy for much of the day) and I went to work on dinner. Cooking Christmas dinner was definitely less work than Thanksgiving dinner, but still a decent amount of work. My parents, grandmother, and brother joined us for dinner.

On the menu: shrimp cocktail, chicken soup with pasta cheese squares (both homemade and done ahead of time), leg of lamb, turkey breast (I had to do this on the grill because there wasn't room in my oven for both the lamb and the turkey), mashed potato gratin, baked yams and potatoes (for the non-gratin eaters), lemon-garlic broccoli, oven roasted asparagus, dinner rolls, and salad (the last two provided by my mom).

Dinner was pretty good if I do say so myself. After we ate, we opened gifts (again). Then we sat around and talked for a bit before having dessert. A short while later, everyone left. Brian and I got the kitchen back in order and then Brian and Jake played with the pirate ships Jake got for Christmas while I arranged my jewelry in the new jewelry box I received today. When the guys were done playing pirate, they assembled the air hockey table and we all played a few rounds. I am the undisputed champion. I kicked both their asses. Numerous times. It was a lot of fun.

the second day of christmas

We spent Christmas Eve with Brian's family. His sister and her husband and two boys were in for the occasion. Brian's mom had to work daylight yesterday, so the cooking duties fell to Jennifer. We had the traditional lasagna for supper and it was quite delicious.

Jake has been bouncing off the walls for a week now because of Christmas. And, I think this is his best Christmas yet. Brian's parents bought him an air hockey table. They didn't know he wanted one, but he's been talking about getting one for months now. You should've seen the look on his face when he opened that gift--it was priceless.

Here's a lesson I learned two years ago...no matter how much Jake says he wants something, don't bother buying it until November because he will change his mind and want something else by then. This year, he didn't really ask for anything so I finished my shopping. As soon as I was done, he started talking about how much he wanted a Snow Monster Mega Rig Adventure. He talked about it for weeks. Not wanting to disappoint, we decided to buy it for him as an extra gift. No sooner did that arrive and he changed his mind and wanted the lego version of Captain Jack Sparrow's Black Pearl. But, I couldn't really justify buying another gift at this point, so we were just going to go with what we had.

Brian told his sister about it and she went and bought the Black Pearl for Jake even though she, too, was done with her shopping (he'll be getting his original Christmas present for his birthday, instead). Wasn't that nice?

I could go on, but I need to get ready for Christmas dinner, which we are having here.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 23

the funniest thing i heard all day

Brian was on the phone with his mom this afternoon. She was talking about what they got Jacob for Christmas this year. While she did not actually say what it was, she was describing the size, weight and such. His dad heard the topic of conversation and got on their other line and told Brian, "I'm not saying what it is, but you might want to pick up some monkey food while you're out shopping today."

It's funny now, anyway. We'll see if it's still funny tomorrow.

little miss sunshine

This story was about a dysfunctional family that embarked on a cross-country trip so that their young daughter could realize her dream of being in a beauty pageant. It was kind of reminiscent of Vacation (complete with a dead body stashed in the trunk), but in more of a dramatic, rather than comedic way. I liked the movie, but Brian did not. I thought all of the actors did a fine job--particularly Steve Carell, who played the gay, suicidal uncle. It was interesting to see him in that type of role.

the first day of christmas

We kicked off the Christmas season last night by having our friend John and his girlfriend over. His kids had other plans and were not able to make it, so Jake was disappointed. Still, we all had a good time. I put out a nice spread of snacks and we hung out and ate and drank all evening. We're off to a good start...

Wednesday, December 20

ready as i'll ever be

I made my third and last batch of cookies this evening, so I guess I'm finally done prepping for the holidays. Bring on the holiday visitors! I did five batches of dog treats this year, too. Though I started baking in November, things still got down to the wire.

And, just in time for the holidays, I've gotten myself a cold. Jake has one, too. Nothing major, but still kind of annoying. I always seem to get one over Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Work has been a little crazy this week, so I'm looking forward to Christmas if only for the time off. My company added Christmas Eve to our list of paid holidays, so we get Monday and Tuesday off this year. And, I'm taking the rest of next week off, so I have a nice little break coming up.

Sunday, December 17

black hawk down

We finished watching this movie last night--it was a two-nighter (anything longer than two hours generally becomes a multi night viewing for us). In one word, this movie was intense. It was about The Battle of Mogadishu. The movie was not character-based. There were so many characters in the film and you don't really find out anything about any of them. But, it was a really good film nonetheless. The battle scenes were just crazy. For whatever reason, I tend to like war movies. I find them quite interesting.

Anyway, this is the second best movie I've seen this year (Walk the Line being the best).

approved by penelec

As I mentioned previously, Brian decorated the outside of the house with lights this year. I've been wanting to post a picture, but he was waiting for it to snow before taking one. However, that does not appear to be in the cards this year (I'm not complaining--it's supposed to be 57 degrees today), so he took one last night. And, now I've posted. My job here is done.

Saturday, December 16

christmas party

My work Christmas party was last night. It was held at the City View Bar & Grill. As far as work Christmas parties go, it was one of the better ones. In recent years, each attendee received two drink coupons and then had to pay for the rest of their drinks. This year, the planning committee set a number for the bar tab and once it reached that number, it turned into a cash bar. The tab lasted until 9:30, which is when we left, so that worked out pretty well. It would've lasted longer, but upon hearing that the bar had Cabo Wabo tequila, my coworkers went through three bottles of it (which was all the bar had in stock, by the way).

The food was pretty good. It was probably the best meal I've eaten there so far. I also won one of the prizes--a Misys camo bag that had a shirt and a desk clock in it. I gave the bag and clock to Jake--he thinks it is great that Misys gives us stuff like that.

Jake went to Brian's parents house while we were at the party. We had to pick him up last night because he had a birthday party to go to at noon today so we didn't want to have to rush around this morning picking him up. By 9:30 we were just about ready to go anyway so it all worked out.

Wednesday, December 13

talladega nights: the ballad of ricky bobby

We haven't been watching a lot of movies during the week lately because we've been working our way through the Arrested Development DVDs (highly recommended. we caught most of the episodes on TV, but missed some because they were always changing the timeslot for the show. watching them all in a row is a real treat). We're taking a couple week break from that before we watch the final season, so it was nice to watch a movie for a change last night.

Talladega Nights was a funny movie. It was not a hilarious movie. I did not cry from laughing even once while watching it (which is how I measure my comedies). We both enjoyed it, but that's as far as it went. I don't think I need to summarize the plot--if you haven't heard about this movie by now, it's probably because you don't want to.

I did like it a lot more than the last Will Ferrell movie I saw, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Of course, I didn't like that movie so this one was bound to be better.

Time to watch another movie. I have a Blockbuster quota to fill before spring.

Tuesday, December 12

beach road

This was written by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge. I'm not sure why Patterson has been writing a bunch of books with co-authors, but I think this is the first one of those that I've read. The book was ok--I read it in a timely enough fashion. I didn't like the ending, though. It was one of those endings you could never guess (because the author doesn't give any hints--he just springs it on you). I don't like that. While it was not one of Patterson's best novels, it did keep me entertained for a few days, anyway.

Sunday, December 10

eraserhead

We watched this one last night. It was David Lynch's directorial debut. The movie was quite odd and there's probably no one I can recommend it to, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. On the other hand, it isn't going to go down in history as one of my favorite movies (nor one of my favorite David Lynch movies either).

It was a story of a man living in an industrial wasteland whose girlfriend becomes pregnant and gives birth to some sort of weird creature. That's about all I can tell you--not because I don't want to give anything away, but as is typical of David Lynch--I didn't "get" the rest of the story.

re: beautifulsilence.net

There have been numerous inquiries regarding the source of the photos on the beautifulsilence.net site. Sorry to disappoint, but these photos were purchased from iStockphoto. But, thanks anyway. I'm flattered.

Saturday, December 9

christmas preps

Jake stayed at my parent's last night. Since this was probably our last Jake-free opportunity before Christmas, we spent the evening wrapping gifts. Today, we got all of the decorations out of the attic and put up the tree and decorated the house after Jake got home. The house looks pretty good, but we definitely have some straightening up to do--there are boxes everywhere.

And, I finally finished making my Christmas cards last week. I started sending them out a few days ago. I'm too lazy to go to the post office, so I send out a bunch per day over the course of a week. They'll all be mailed in the next few days.

Still left: baking.

Thursday, December 7

a test

Winter has arrived. The weather sure was crappy on the drive home from work today. It took me nearly 30 minutes to get home (normally it takes 15-20 minutes, depending on the traffic). It was a good test for the Highlander, though. The roads weren't totally horrible, but they weren't good, either. My car performed admirably. I had zero issues. I wasn't expecting to have any, but you never know. The guy in front of me was sliding all over the place. Times like these, I'm glad I have 4WD.

Wednesday, December 6

beautiful silence relaunch

Brian redid the Beautiful Silence site so it would be more of a showcase site for his business. Same content, different interface. Check it out.

Friday, December 1

i didn't get the memo

Is Christmas coming earlier than usual this year? We have already gotten two Christmas cards in the mail (and this was before the 1st). I think the earliest we ever received a card in the past was the 6th or 7th. Not to mention the fact that everyone has their Christmas lights up already, but I think the good weather explains that.

I guess this means I better finish making my Christmas cards. I have one last batch to make, but I've been having problems coming up with a good idea. I have a few now, so with any luck, I'll hammer those out over the weekend.

I am 99% done with my shopping. There are some things I won't get until the last minute, but that is all I have left to buy.

Brian and Jake put Christmas lights outside today. I can't wait to see them tonight. I suppose I'll need to decorate the house soon. Normally, I don't like to do that until the middle of the month (actually, I don't even "like" doing it then), but Jake's been pushing to decorate earlier, so we probably will. And, I won't have any excuses not to because we bought an artificial tree last year, so it's not like the needles are going to fall off if we put it up early.

Last week, I started baking. One batch of dog treats down, four to go. I haven't baked any cookies yet. I'm going to try to do at least one batch of dog treats and/or cookies each weekend until all of my baking is done.

My favorite holiday preparation is wrapping Christmas gifts. But, now that Jake's around, we need to do that when he's not home. I don't know when that is going to be, but I'm hoping to do that mid-month. If that doesn't work itself out, I guess I'll need to schedule something.

back to work order

It's Brian's first day of self-employment and, already, I'm ready to send him back to work. Things started off well enough today. He went for his usual morning run with Lizzy and then even took Alice for a run around the block. He got Jake ready for school and got him on the bus. The Jake thing usually sets me back 15 minutes (therefore causing me to extend my work day by 15 minutes), so this was nice.

Lunchtime rolled around and Brian wanted to put the bike in the shed for the winter. He was outside for a bit and then he called me from his cell to tell me his bike was stuck in the yard. And stuck, it was--up to the frame. We tried pushing and pulling, but nothing worked--it just made a bigger trench in the yard. We were able to slip a brick under the back tire and this helped a little, but still, no luck. Then, we threw some cat litter in the hole and this gave us just enough traction to push the bike out of the trench and onto a piece of plywood on another spot of the yard. We're hoping the ground either dries up or freezes (without snow) so that he can get the bike in the shed for the winter.

This set me back 45 minutes. I would have rather gotten Jake ready for school.