Wednesday, December 31, 2008

See you later 2008

It seems like the natural thing to do today is to reflect upon this past year. 2008 definitely had some up and down moments for myself. I don't think I'm quite ready yet to share all of the downs with everyone, so instead I'll focus on the positives. Here's my best memories of 2008:

Meeting New People-
Moving to Baltimore was incredibly nerve racking. I didn't know anyone except for a few friends and co-workers that my husband introduced me to. Thankfully, my local Nest board is amazing and I've had the pleasure of meeting some pretty incredible women over the past year. Even though I communicate with them mainly through the online world, they're fantastic women and have given me so many wonderful recommendations that I now feel comfortable calling Baltimore home.

Baltimore Sports & Social Club-
I thought my team athletics days ended in college. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the hubs and I could play dodgeball, softball and football with other adults. Bonus points for sponsored drinking activities after our games. Plus, it's not just fun, we played in a charity event that raised thousands of dollars for two non-profit organizations. Sign me up!!!

Exploring Baltimore-
When the hubs and I first moved the area, back in July 2007, we were too busy with wedding planning and adjusting to really get out and see the sights. Thankfully, we each made a list of things we wanted to see in the area (coupled with a few Nestie suggestions) and we started to explore our new area. Okay, we picked the hottest day of the year to visit the zoo, but it was still a good time. I'm still adjusting to sidewalks, 24 hour grocery stores, walk signals, noise and parking garages, but I think coming from a tiny little town that doesn't even have a single traffic light to where I am now... I'm adjusting quite nicely.

Super Bowl Champs!

Uh hello, the New York Football Giants won the Super Bowl! Jax and I were total jocks and wore our Manning jerseys during the game. After a few pathetic postseason appearances by the Yankees (and one non-existent postseason) my faith in NY athletics was being questioned. Plus, did anyone really think Eli Manning would ever win a Super Bowl??? Peyton, yes, but Eli?

Living an hour away from my best friend-
Those grad school years were difficult when I was in Delaware and she was in New York City. Our visits were drastically limited to once a semester. Thank goodness we see each other monthly now. We do need to work on our shopping skills though. Somehow when we go shopping together we hardly ever buy anything. That's great for our mutual wallets, but not for our closets!

Getting in touch with my inner Martha-
I grew plants from seeds! I carved pumpkins! I tried new recipes! I came up with new cleaning tricks! I started to decorate our house! Of course not everything I tried came out perfectly, but I tried. I think that's a pretty good start.

Road Trips-
Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and western Maryland were all visited by a hyper red head this year. I hate flying and haven't been on a plane since my honeymoon (driving to Brazil really wasn't feasible). I'd much rather drive and jam to tunes along the way. Of course it helps that many of this year's destinations had a Sheetz stop along the way.

No more school!

Unless I decide to go to law school or pursue my Ph.d, I'm done with school. I was the first person from my family to obtain my Bachelor's Degree and now I've one upped my status and finished my Master's Degree.

Camden Yards-
I think I've made my love for baseball abundantly clear, but here it goes again. The hubs and I finally counted them up and we went to an astonishing 35 games this year at Camden Yards. The thought of how many hot dogs I consumed through the months of April to September is somewhat gross, but they were tasty at the time. The hubs and I went to a Raven's game this past Sunday and I begged him to let us walk along Eutaw Street instead of through the parking lots. April will be here before we know it and I can't wait to see how many games we go to this year. Who knows, maybe the O's will even win a few more games this year.

2008 Summer Olympics-
I don't even think I need to remind everyone how awesome the Olympics were. Swimming, beach volleyball, women's soccer, track & field, water polo and table tennis consumed my life for those too few August days. My best Olympic memory- celebrating with random strangers after a Micheal Phelps victory. Sure, watching the women's soccer team win gold was pretty impressive, but the random crowd at Starbucks just showed how everyone gets caught up in Olympic fever.

Family bonds-
Driving my brother to New York for his knee surgery wasn't fun, but the combined eight hours of car ride conversation was enjoyable. Celebrating my mom's 50th birthday in July was definitely a good time. Crazy shenanigans with my brother-in-law provided lots of entertainment (I did accidentally punch him in the ribs during a haunted hay ride). Having the most mature conversation I've ever had with my dad was a big wake up for both of us. Receiving e-mails from my sister that bluntly read, "get on IM!" always made me laugh. Meeting up with my aunt and uncle for lunch and a trip to Longwood Gardens was tons of fun. Celebrating Christmas in New York with everyone will stay on my mind for most of 2009.

Jax and Jewels-
They're cute, cuddly, entertaining, dramatic, opinionated and the furriest blankets. They are mini versions of kids. Hopefully, after dealing with all of their chaos, the hubs and I will be somewhat ready to have kids when we're 30 (oh crap, that's only 4 years away!!!).

Losing our newlywed status-
That's right, we're no longer newlyweds! We went out with a bang and had a fantastic anniversary weekend. That's right, not a single day, but a three day party!

The hubs-
He dropped everything to take care of me when my grandfather left this world. Those rough times just further cemented how incredible my hubs treats me. He makes me cappuccino whenever I want some. After almost seven years of being together he still opens and closes my car door. He watches my tv shows (okay, he isn't thrilled with Prison Break, but he likes SVU). He takes the dogs out on weekend mornings to let me have a few extra minutes of sleep. He tells me my cooking tastes good (there have definitely been a few white lies in there). He puts the worm on my fishing hook because he knows I think worms are gross. He finally ran a 5k just because I've been begging him to. He calls me out when I'm acting like a crazy person. His idea of a small present is a diamond necklace. He knows when I need my space. He doesn't swear... ever! Even though our anniversary fell on a Monday, he insisted on taking two days off from work so we could celebrate properly. He watches soccer games with me. He lies and tells me he can't tell I've put on weight. He makes me laugh every day. He does the dishes. He trusted me enough to teach him how to ski. He challenges me to be a better person. He absolutely adores me and I happen to think he's an amazing person as well. I consider myself lucky ever single day because he's in my life.

So there you go. 2008 was a pretty decent year. You hear that 2009? The ball is in your court now.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New York recap (Part 3)

Today's recap is going to be devoted to one particular aspect of the trip up to NY- video games. Now, I have earned a reputation as being a "gaming hater." I randomly played video games as a kid, but stopped once I was in middle school. I just didn't see the point and I didn't exactly have a lot of free time to waste pounding away on some little remote. My deep hatred for video games continued into college when I almost broke a friend's PS2 remote. How the heck was I supposed to know the remote would vibrate in order to tell me to do something different? Not cool. I've tried to play a few times with the hubs and each time ends with me getting my butt kicked and then getting pissed. I don't think that was the intended result and that sour taste sticks with me.

But, it just might be that I haven't come across the right gaming system... until I met a Wii. Truth be told, I would much rather go outside and actually play a game of tennis, but I will admit that watching my little red headed character flip uncontrollably (oh wait, I am controlling her) is rather entertaining.

For the most part I played the role of spectator and enjoyed watching the hubs battle with my nephew. You would think the kid would have a rather sizable advantage seeing how the hubs has only played on a Wii a handful of times, but the gamer skills are strong in my hubs.

First up, a little game of Wii bowling.

Babe, you did not just trash talk to an 8 year old???

That's alright, Denzel just scored a point that basically told the old guy to shut up.

Different day and a different game. Wii tennis anyone?

Dude!!! Are you guys going to go outside at all??? There happens to be a ton of snow out there.

Alright, seriously this has got to stop. It's Christmas Eve and all you guys want to do is play video games. What happened to spending time with family???

You mean it isn't a Christmas morning tradition to play Guitar Hero??? Okay, the hubs and I are totally guilty for this one because we're the ones who gave the kid the game and guitars.

I present these next photos as evidential proof that it is a family trait to make weird faces while concentrating. Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

Exhibit C.

Nailed it!!!

Clearly, this picture has absolutely nothing to do with video games, but I had to include it because its too cute. Meet Chance, my parents' poodle (now there is a sentence I never thought I would say).

To sum up, the hubs and I had a great time in New York. Next year we're going to switch holidays and go up for Thanksgiving. I'm a little bummed about that because the chance of having snow for Thanksgiving isn't as great as the chance of a White Christmas. I miss snow. Thankfully, the hubs and I have a ski trip planned in a few weeks and I'll get my powder fill in then.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New York recap (Part 2)

Today's recap is going to be dedicated to Christmas with the family. The hubs and I stayed at my sister's house and we opened presents there on Christmas morning. After we were done there we went over to my mom and dad's house and opened the rest of our presents. Then, everyone got ready and came back to my parents' house for Christmas dinner. The table was set for 34 people, but I think somehow a few numbers were shuffled and we only had 28 people. I know, tragic, spending Christmas with 28 members of your family. (I'm kidding!!!)

Denzel with Jewels. Can you believe I had to wake this kid up at 8am? What 8 year old sleeps in on Christmas morning???

Apparently, I open presents in a super human fashion. To be fair, I could sense that it was a new Coach purse and I was right!!!

Jax was a bit confused- eat the wrapping paper or play with the tennis ball. Decision, decisions, decisions.

Jewels seemed to enjoy terrorizing her new toy.

Denzel, my nephew, clearly had the most to open on Christmas.

You know that Mastercard commercial where the kid plays with the box instead of the expensive toy? Jax and Jewels are just like that. I swear their favorite part of the holidays is ripping apart boxes, wrapping paper and their ever favorite- the cardboard tube wrapping paper comes with.

Now, over at my parents' house. I can't believe I didn't get a decent picture of their tree. My brother, hubs and I found a little 12 footer for this year's party. Normally, we get a 14ft or bigger, but our normal tree farm was closed!

I risked death or exile from my father for putting a Santa's hat on his precious caribou. To be fair, I had help, the hubs filled the hat with newspaper because it wasn't standing up correctly. So ha! I'm not going down all by myself.

The fantastic centerpiece Ev brought with her.

My favorite aunt and my nephew.

We love this kid!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New York recap (Part 1)

Wow, I'm exhausted. The hubs and I went up to New York for Christmas. A whole week filled with laughter, snow, wine, Wii, Guitar Hero, dogs, presents, baking and family. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for fun in my book.

Initially, the hubs and I were going to make our 5 hour trek to NY on Sunday, but a weather forecast that included snow and ice forced us to push our trip up a day early to Saturday. I must admit, the trip up was breathtakingly beautiful. The region had been hammered the day before with snow and ice and that made for some fantastic scenery to gaze upon while driving. Of course I did the driving (um, growing up in the Catskills for me vs city driving for the hubs) and the hubs slept most of the trip. I think he woke up somewhere near Hazelton for a few minutes and then woke up again for good in Scranton. I'm pretty sure when he looked out the window in Scranton and saw a BMW flipped on its roof he thought he might want to be prepared for a sudden stop. Saturday's drive was one of those days where I was incredibly happy to be driving an SUV.

Today's post is going to be dedicated to the scenery up in New York. Again, I was incredibly fortunate to grow up where I did. The hubs summed it up when I was suiting up to go for a hike in the snow, "she misses the outdoors... and snow." Every single time I peered out a window I would sigh and say, "I miss this place. Look how beautiful it is!"

See, nature makes snow balls. Mother Nature is just begging you to throw them at people!

I have a slight obsession with icicles.
Hmm, I think there might be a tad too much snow to go camping.

My absolute favorite tree in the world.

Later in the week it rained/sleet/frozen rained. Pick your own term and that's basically what came down. It was cold, slippery and wet.

Last, but certainly not least, the lake. Crazy temperature swings didn't allow for safe ice skating, but I keep hoping that one year the ice will be thick enough for a massive hockey party on Christmas. Stupid global warming!!!

I think I was demonstrating to the hubs my fantastic slap shot technique.

His idea of smiling for a photo is a bit different than what I had in mind.
Alright, that'll do.

Hopefully, next year I'll do a better job with the photos and have a better camera (wink wink).

Friday, December 19, 2008

The uncomfortable holiday encounter

I have a major fear during the holiday season: the unequal exchange. Basically, someone gives me a gift and I'm left empty handed with nothing to give in return. Or, someone sends me a Christmas card and I didn't send them one. Of course with the Christmas card embarrassment I can always send out a card the next day and cover up most of the shame.

Now, the hubs and I are leaving to visit my family tomorrow. If any more surprising Christmas cards show up between tomorrow and the 27th, then the sender is going to have to wait until next year to receive a card. Hopefully, we don't receive too many more unexpected cards. On one hand I love receiving cards, but I always feel guilty when that unexpected card shows up in the mail.

My extended family does a Secret Santa-ish type gift exchange, which is nice because I have a lot of aunts and uncles. The gift exchange system is in place to help everyone's wallets and I am not one to complain. I'm pretty confident the hubs and I won't be left red-faced this year, but I'm still nervous because three years ago one of my cousins gave us a gift and we didn't have one to give in return. Talk about being embarrassed!!! Every year I swear to buy a generic giftcard to have in my back pocket for just that very reason. Too bad every year I forget to buy the thing! Doh!!!

The hubs, of course, thinks I'm crazy when it comes to these matters. His response, "babe, who cares if someone sends us a card and we didn't send them one. No one keeps track of that stuff." He's knows some people do, but he just says these things to keep me sane (clearly, not all of them work!).

Does anyone else fret over these things or am I really crazy?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas cards are out!

Woohoo, I dropped off our Christmas cards earlier today at the Post Office. We sent out 25 cards, but hopefully next year we'll send out even more. Maybe even next year I'll make cute labels or jazz up the envelopes. I had ever intention of doing that this year, but a lack of printer ink killed that idea.

Here's the card distribution breakdown:
Arizona- 1
Florida- 2
Maryland- 1
Michigan- 1
New Jersey- 8
New York- 2
North Carolina- 1
Ohio- 6
West Virginia- 3

Hmmmmm, why do we live in Maryland again? Oh that's right because the bulk of our families live in either New Jersey or Ohio. I'm sure that those four-plus hour drives will come in handy when we'd like a babysitter. Good thing we're not having kiddos for quite a few years. Maybe we can convince a few family members to relocate to the Baltimore area.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I need your help

Alright, I have an idea and I can't make a final decision. I bought a pretty frame a few weeks ago at Micheal's and I'd like to print off some type of Christmas decoration to hang for the holidays. I love Wordle and thought to myself, "well, instead of making something in Photoshop and going nuts in the process, why not just use Wordle and be done with it!"

So, I have three different Wordle creations. Which one do you think I should print and frame?

Option #1:

Option #2

Option #3

Please leave a comment and let me know which one you like the best. Thank you!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Card photo shoot

The hubs and I decided to send out photo Christmas cards this year. Well, I came up with the idea and he went along with it. We quickly looked over our photos from the past year and realized that we didn't have a single photo of both of us with the pups after my new haircut. Hey, when you chop almost 12 inches off of your hair, you need to use a new photo.

I set up my tripod, gave the hubs a few tennis balls (I'll get to that), and armed the 10 second timer on the camera. Our first location was quickly shut down because it was too cold outside and after a few takes the pups were shivering too much.

So here's a few photos from our little photo shoot.

The hubs looks scared. The idea was to throw a tennis ball over the camera and that would get the dogs to look at the camera. The hubs probably came close to hitting the camera on this take and was scared it was going to fall over.

Hmmmm, something is off in this photo. I swear my dogs didn't watch any crazy video tape and they haven't received any scary phone calls screaming, "seven days."

Okay, the lighting is off in this one. Plus, Jax wasn't cooperating and escaped from my death grip. (Also, we realized that the stockings in the background weren't working out.)

This was our runner up photo. It's cute, but we tried just once more to see if we could get everyone looking forward, no scary expressions and hopefully no crazy eyes.

Okay, we've got some doggy crazy eyes, but I think I can fix those in Photoshop.

Ahhh, there it is. Gotta give a shout out for The Pioneer Woman's photoshop actions (I love those bad boys).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Way to go Baltimore Sun!!!

Alright, I confess, I don't pay for the newspaper. That's a difficult thing for me to announce because when I was a teenager I read the paper every single day (and not just for the comics!!!). Thankfully, due to a little piece of technology called, "the internet," I can read the paper every morning without having to run outside and pick it up off of my sidewalk.

This morning, while I'm enjoying my bagel and chocolate milk (I'm out of Earl Grey tea!!!) I was perusing the Baltimore Sun and I found this little gem:

Gifts for Women

Of course I clicked on it. I was genuinely interested in what the Sun would suggest for women. There was, of course, the standard cooking products, cleaning stuff (I won't even go there), wine accessories and clothes. The most interesting thing I thought, the main reason for this post, was that the Sun included a few items from Etsy. I thought that was pretty awesome.

Orichette Necklace from Nina Ditoff
( This signature necklace mimics the shape of the popular pasta. Cocktail rings, earrings and bracelets are also available in the collection. Necklace is $295. Online:

Mod wood dangle earrings
Simple, affordable, versatile. $20. Online: