Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tamsin eyeing the tree

Tamsin eyeing the tree, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Whenever we put up our artificial tree, our cat never misses a chance to climb it and sometimes curl up underneath. She has yet to topple it, so we let her have her fun.

What I Like about Christmas...

I like how all the stores are packed to the gills with Christmas and non-Christmas related items for sale - stuff that you don't often see the rest of the year. I like having more choices, even if some of those extra items are often a bit silly, if not a bit superfluous.

Christmas music
I like Christmas music, especially the classics, but you can OD on this, especially since the same songs are often played on a continuous loop. It’s not really Christmas unless Julie Andrews is singing “Ding Dong Merrily on High.” I also can’t get enough of the Pogues, “Christmas in New York.”

Television & Movies
I like Christmas themed movies and TV programs, but you have to be in the mood for them, and some are better than others (or rather, some are more saccharine than others). Among the new ones this year that I've particularly enjoyed is "Arthur Christmas." Though not a classic, it was still fun, and I delighted in hearing British accents for a couple hours (kind of made me homesick for my adopted country).

I also very much enjoyed the Christmas episode of "The Middle." I thought it was funny how Frankie was in such a good mood after attending a festive event (and had had a little wine), and decided she'd have a holiday open house for her neighbors on Christmas Eve. This sounds like just the sort of thing I would do (if I honestly thought any of my neighbors would be free to come over during the holidays, and would want to). I think my husband would take it with the same sense of humor as Frankie's husband, Mike, since they share many similarities as both men and husbands.

Favorite (newish) classic Christmas TV special - "Shrek the Halls." Being a Shrek fan anyway, I guess it's only natural I'd like the Christmas special, but I especially appreciate that it's not too sappy and sweet, and uses one of my favorite Spice Girls songs, "Christmas Wrapping," a song I certainly don't hear nearly enough during the holidays.

I like getting presents.
I know Christmas shouldn't be about the material things, but that certainly is a big part of the holiday. It's nice to get something new, and even better to get a lot of new somethings, especially when each item is a complete surprise. This is less and less common the older I get since my relatives would much rather rely on my Amazon Wish List instead of using what they know about me to get something original. I know it can be difficult because I am one of those people who, when they want something, usually go out and buy it, so I guess I can't really be too hard on my friends and relatives. After all, it's the thought that counts.

I like giving presents (but sometimes it's a lot of work choosing stuff!). Just so you don't think I'm a total scrooge, the older I get, the more I enjoy seeing the looks on everyone else's faces when they open the gifts I gave them. I pride myself on the thought I put into choosing everything, so it's nice to get that positive feedback when I hit the mark. Of course my relatives could all be really good fakers, but I hope that's not the case.

Visions of sugar plums danced in her head...
I like all the sweets that come out just around the holidays. Of course this is also my Achilles heel since I usually end up eating too much of everything, and then feel bloated and guilty until after the new year. Not sure if I'll do much better this year. I guess I'll just have to try and stay busy and out of the kitchen.

I love, love, love outdoor Christmas lights.
With the nights being long and dark until late spring, it's the one thing that never fails to cheer me up whenever I am out after dark. I especially enjoy those 'Clark Griswolds' who make the extra effort to go all out and create something festive for their neighborhood. Roman, I'm talking about you, and all your neighbors with whom you collaborate. I think it's also great that they accept donations for charity, so everyone benefits. Plus, I noticed one of your neighbors handing out candy canes, so that's a nice gesture as well. Also, a shout out to the residents of the Ridgewood estate. I’ve never seen the neighborhood looking so festive, so a big thanks to everyone for spreading a little holiday cheer.

The candlelight service at a local church
Last year I fancied a change from standing on my tippy-toes in the back corner of my church for the 10pm "midnight" mass, so decided to go to a different church and check out their service. My uncle, always up for an adventure, accompanied me. Although it wasn't quite an adventure, it was a truly wonderful experience. Unlike at my church where it's usually standing room only unless you arrive no less than about an hour early, we were able to sit (and sit quite comfortably I might add) and see everything going on. The homily, given by a pair of youthful ministers was interesting, informative and entertaining. However, the best part of the service was when the lights were turned out and we took turns lighting candles while singing "Silent Night." My sister's mother-in-law said they do that at their church too, and it always moves her to tears, so I'm glad I wasn't the only one misting up.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

me wearing my 'tux' hat

me wearing my 'tux' hat, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Thanks Dana!

White Elephant Gift Exchange

It's that time of year again – office Christmas party, tacky Christmas specials and white elephant gift exchange. A new co-worker came up with this idea since no one else seemed particularly enthused about doing a regular gift exchange (mostly because of there being so many new employees, not knowing their likes and dislikes). So it was agreed. After which, we discussed particularly memorable white elephant gifts we had received in the past. This is why I was so surprised when I saw the selection of gifts purchased for our exchange. It was almost as if they missed the whole point.

The first gift opened was a set of holiday-themed nesting bowls. The giftee was thrilled. Following that a set of cheap and cheerful picture frames was opened, as was a little OSU snow globe ornament and a set of coffee mugs with coffee. When I retold this story to my husband, he said it sounded more like a Secret Santa than a White Elephant gift exchange.

I, however, did receive an appropriate gift – one of those knitted animal hats that are so popular this year. It's both cute and warm. Not sure how much use it will get, but I may wear it from time to time. For my white elephant giveaway I bought Christmas-themed knee socks, Rudolph lip gloss and some candy lumps of coal.

My husband received a pair of boxer shorts with mistletoe where the crotch should be. His co-workers obviously get the idea [thanks for letting me borrow those – they were the hit of our office party!].


Here's a picture I found on the internet of that precious little girl in the driver's seat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Great Adverts of 2011

Well, it's that time of year again - time to reflect back on the year that was. Even though I am one of the millions who has a DVR and faithfully record all my programs, I do occasionally stop fast forwarding through the commercials when one of these gems comes on.

The Subaru ad where the dad hands the keys to his little daughter who later morphs into a teenager before driving off. It's not so much the poignancy of the commercial (as I'm not a parent), but the fact that the little girl looks so much like my 7 year old niece Gwen that makes me pause each time. I also discovered this interesting bit of trivia when reading about the commercial, "(Interesting side note: the two girls who star in the ad are real-life sisters and the “dad” is the real-life father to both girls.)" How cool is that? A commercial with a touch of reality - something you rarely see these days.

a link to the article:

the Volkswagon Passat ad with the little boy trying to be Darth Vader. So much has been said about this commercial already, that I'm not entirely sure I have anything original to add, other than to say I think it's a classic, and I hope it's preserved in the Commercials Hall of Fame or whatever they have for memorable advertisements.

the Toyota Prius ad designed by Saatchi & Saatchi has got to be one of the most clever, eye-catching, detail-oriented commercials I've ever seen. I defy anyone to fast forward through it the first time they see it since they'd be depriving themself of a genuine work of cinematography. I'm not sure how they made this commercial, but I'm pretty sure a lot of humans had to work 'cheek to cheek' on this one. I am also a little partial to Toyota since our family currently owns two Priuses.

As far as CGI commercials go, I think the two best have got to be Target's commercial for Gwen Stefani's Harajuku line (I love Japanese looking products) and Ron Howard's commercial for Canon's Project Imagina8ion. Both are fun and cute and clever and all the other normal adjectives one applies to such a work of imagination.

Even though I live in Ohio, I've always had a soft spot for California (and had dreams of living there someday when I was a teenager), so I quite like the travelogue commercial currently airing. It's celebrity packed and shows a good cross section of culture and activities offered throughout the state. I especially like how Betty White (who has certainly made quite a comeback these last few years) worms her way into this one as well being shown on a golf cart.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Credit Card Purchases

I was just talking to some of my female co-workers/friends (who are rather close in age to myself) about what their first credit card purchase was, and how old they were when they made it.

One of them said she was 18 and bought a television, which she slowly paid off in monthly instalments. She's now encouraging her two college-age daughters to do the same (although TVs are so cheap today that a computer would be a better choice if you want to pay that off little by little).

My friend said she just now got her first credit card (always used her debit card previously) and bought a winter coat which she plans to pay off in full when the bill arrives.

My first purchase, back when I was between 18-24 yrs old, was either a black purse (from JC Penney I think) or a book (from Tower City in Cleveland). I think it was the book as I probably used a check to pay for the purse. I still have the book (and the purse), which cost $25 and is called, "He Was a Midwestern Boy on His Own" by Bob Greene.

When my husband moved to America with me back in 2004, he was advised to get a credit card in his name, charge something on it, and then pay it off in instalments(I think that's what we were told, but it was a awhile ago now, so can't quite remember), in order [for him] to establish credit. How funny that you have to accummulate a little debt in this country in order to establish credit.

I had a co-worker back in England who probably still doesn't have a credit card, though I'm quite sure she has a debit card. She told me she never trusted herself with a credit card. Judging from how much clothing she constantly returned, she might be right not to trust herself. In fact, I'm sure if I had to pay cash for all my purchases, I probably wouldn't buy even half the stuff I come home with. However, at least my husband and I can always afford to pay off our monthly bill.