Tuesday, November 30

Holiday Crafts and Disliked things about the Holidays

{7} Holiday Craft/DIY

I haven't exactly gotten around to my crafts/diy for the season, but I know my plans.

1) I plan on making our Christmas cards this season.  I looked at the Christmas cards at Target and just couldn't find any that I liked both the design and the message inside the card.  I went to Michaels and bought a pack of white notecards, a Christmas tree rubber stamp, some green ink and some some silver and red paint pens.  I'm gonna stamp the front and then write a message on the inside of the cards.  I feel like they're more thoughtful since I'll make the effort to make them all.  Much better than buying a pack and merely signing my name.  I'll post a picture of the finished project once I've completed it.

2) I plan on making loaves of pumpkin bread for our friends.  Gifts are too expensive to get for all of those who care and I have a great pumpkin bread recipe that makes 3 loaves per each batch.  I'll just wrap them in saran and tie a bow on top!

3) I hope to make a wreath.  Greenery wreaths are so expensive (both for real and fake ones) so I'm going to go to Michaels or Joanns to get a foam wreath and felt.  From there, I'll make rosettes and hot glue them all over the wreath.  Pictured below is an example made with book pages.  I plan on doing white and red felt flowers.  Should be pretty!

Must credit Stephanie Lynn for the idea + step-by-step

{8} Least favorite thing about the Holidays

I love the holiday season, so it's difficult to come up with things I dislike about Christmas, but I'll do my best:

1) Crowds/traffic.  I hate people moseying at the mall and waiting in the parking lot for that slow car to back out of a close spot.  Don't be lazy!  Park where there's a spot and get some exercise.  No wonder our nation's obese!

2) Cold weather.  Well, I take this back.  I like cold weather leading up to Christmas because it's festive and makes it feel like the holidays, but after December 25, I'm ready for spring weather!

3) People forgetting the reason for the season.  I feel like Americans get so caught up in buying gifts that the real reason for the season is lost.  Church has been put on a back burner for a lot of people.  The holidays should be about remembering the birth of Jesus and spending time with those we love.

It's hard to find things not to love about the holidays.  It's such a magical time!  I'm so excited to spend time with my loved ones and enjoy the season!

On another note, I heard "Tubthumping" on the radio this morning.  Hello 1997!  Dang that song's catchy.  Lovin' me some Pandora Christmas stations to get it out of my head!

Monday, November 29

Long Holiday Weekend in Review!

It was so nice to have a 4-day weekend!  Waking up for work this morning was quite a challenge after all the fun I had!

Wednesday night I got home from work and started on my "Autumn Cheesecake" for Thanksgiving.  M came home while I was in the midst of it and said we were gonna go to dinner with his dad.  I did as much as possible without leaving the house with the oven on, we went to Mexican (YUM) and then I came home and finished it.  My goal was to be Pioneer Woman and document the step-by-step.  Well, I didn't remember this until I was layering the apples on top (one of the last steps.)  Fail.  I did take a before and after baking picture.  Here ya go.

It was a huge success, as well as a wonderful afternoon lunch with lots of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, apple slaw, and cranberry (sludge, as my mom called it.)  The company was even better than the food.

Thursday morning we woke up and participated in Habitrot.  I was overly confident that I'd be able to run 3.1 miles when I hadn't been training and I'd had surgery 2.5 weeks before.  I was so very very wrong.  I managed to run about a mile altogether, but definitely felt like I was going to die when I finished.  M managed to run it in about 29 minutes!  I was very proud of him.  Mom, dad and Drew finished right under an hour, walking. 

We ate lunch around 2 (as described above) and then played this game called The Game of Things.  It's kind of Apples to Apples-like, but also different.  Check it out if you're interested.  It's one of those games where there's a topic/question-y type thing and everyone writes an answer.  Sometimes the responses are serious and sometimes they're funny/silly.  It was a hoot.  M and I came home afterwards to feed Sally-dog and relax.

Friday morning I woke up about 6:45 to shower and get ready to go Black Friday shopping with Brandon.  While I was getting ready I snapped this precious picture of M and Sally snuggling.  She definitely loves her daddy!  

Brandon, his mom and his dad (my honorary parents) were running late, so I fiddle-farted around and then finally left to meet them at the Green Hills Mall Starbucks.  Yum!  I love peppermint hot chocolates!  Green Hills is so much less crowded than Cool Springs.  It's definitely a more enjoyable shopping experience.  So we hit up Dillards where Brandon got more Ralph Lauren Polo stuff that he didn't need.  We went to every store we wanted at GH and then drove to Cool Springs where were ran into Richard and his parents so we all had lunch at Chilis.  I managed to get some great deals (and everything on my Black Friday "me" wish list)!  

1) Holiday Party Dress.  Intentionally for M's office holiday party at Morton's, I bought a beautiful black strapless dress from White House Black Market.  It was initially $178 but was on sale for $100, plus BF sale for 20% off.  I got it for $80!  Win!  Now I just have to withstand the two-week wait to wear it!

It looks much sexier and fuller on me than this skinny-mini model.

2) Boots.  I've been wanting some cute grey suede boots to wear with skinny jeans and/or leggings and tights.  I went to Macy's knowing exactly what I wanted and expecting not to find it.  Nope, got precisely what I wanted to for the best price you could imagine.  Initially $69.99.  Marked $50 + an additional 20% off + a $10 off coupon.  $70 boots for $24!  I rock.

Not the actual pair, but pretty much the same exact thing!

3) New Purse.  I have been hating my purse for a while.  It's frayed and beat up.  Blah.  So we went into New York and Company, who was having a 60% off sale and found a big, black, sparkly bag for $42.  $42 at 60%= $17.  <3

4) Sparkly, skinny belts.  I bought two: black glitter and silver glitter.  Go me!

After shopping, Brandon and I watched the Santa Clause, and then I went home.  M and I grabbed a bite at Fulin's, by our house.  We each had soup, split some pork dumplings and a volcano sushi roll.  Then we spent the evening watching Mad Men.

Saturday we woke up and after some Comcast internet drama, M cut a hole in the wall to run a cable, then crawled under the house while I knocked on the wall so he could find me.  It was amusing.  I was helping while watching my Vols beat Kentucky for the 26th straight year!  

We met up with KJ and Joel, Brandon, Richard and Amber at Sam's in Hillsboro Village for an early dinner.  Then KJ, Joel, M and I went downtown to watch the Predators lose to the NY Rangers.  It was a great time, though.  There were plenty of fights and great company.  Joel had never been to a Preds game before.  Our friend Laura was also at the game, so KJ and I popped over to say hey.  After the game, M and I went to BB Kings to meet Jimmy for his dad's birthday thing.  The music was fun and M and I danced for a couple songs.  

M and I at the Predators game!

Sunday we woke early.  The Comcast guy came and set up our xfinity internet.  I got ready and went to church to only be disappointed.  I didn't know that the 10:30 service was now a contemporary service.  I don't like contemporary services.  I know it's weird, but I'm a stickler for tradition when it comes to church.  Following the service, I went over to my parents house and once Drew arrived, we put up our Christmas tree.  Traditionally, dad untangles the hooks while the rest of us hang the ornaments.  Dad contributed a surprising amount in comparison to other years.  The tree turned out great!

Please ignore the ghetto TV tray entertainment center.
And mom had hung the stockings up already.  M's part of the family with his monogrammed stocking!

Dad, mom, Drew, me, M!
All-in-all a great weekend!  Lots to look forward to over the next few weeks!  Can't wait for the holidays to be in full swing! :)

My favorite holiday movies and Christmas wish list!

{5} Favorite Holiday Movies

I must admit, this one is tough and easy at the same time.  I have so many favorite holiday movies that it's hard to select just a few, but if I must, I absolutely know my faves.

1) It's a Wonderful Life.  Favorite Classic Movie.  I will admit that for several years, it seemed like a silly movie that my mom always talked about.  Well, 4 years ago, my grandmother was sick and passed away.  While my mom was in Alabama taking care of things, I decorated the house for her and then sat down to watch this movie for the first time.  It was so bad that I turned it off.  The next year, I popped it in again, hoping my feelings would have changed.  I'm so glad I did.  I cried.  I cried and cried and cried.  It is such a feel good movie and now a must-watch each Christmas season.  If you haven't seen it, go rent it now...you won't regret it!

 2) A Christmas Story.  Favorite Holiday Comedy.  I don't even know when the obsession with this movie began, but I honestly can't remember a Christmas when we didn't watch this movie for 24 hours straight.  My brother, dad and I find it absolutely hysterical...every time.  My mom thinks we're crazy and doesn't understand the obsession.  Regardless, I have the short stories written my Jean Shepherd and the DVD.  My family can quote it backwards and forwards.  Last year the Tennessee Repertory Theatre did A Christmas Story in the round at TPAC.  Drew and I decided to buy tickets for each other for Christmas.  It was totally worth it.  With the play being in the round, it was open for active participation by the audience.  The actors were really into it, and it was interesting to see how they adapted some of the scenes from the movie for the stage.  Not only that, but they had the actual BB gun prop from the movie, which Drew and I took a picture with, naturally.  This movie will be a holiday classic I will never stop watching on Christmas day.

Drew and I with the BB gun from the movie.  "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"

There is a three way tie for my favorite holiday chick-flick between The Holiday, Love Actually, and the Family Stone.  They're all great, feel good movies!

The Holiday
Love Actually
The Family Stone

When it comes to childhood classics, every year I must watch Home Alone and the Santa Clause.  Both are rather stupid movies, but very entertaining none-the-less.

 Runners up in Holiday Classic and Holiday Comedy are Miracle on 34th Street (the original) and Elf.

I also love the Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton.  I know many people don't because it's weird, but I think it's festive.  Bonus: It can be a Halloween and Christmas movie!

And last but not least, there's a French film called Joyeux Noel (or Merry Christmas) which is based on a true story during World War I on the Western Front.  I don't want to spoil it, but it's a beautiful movie.  IMDB's summary: On Christmas Eve during world War I, the Germans, French, and Scottish fraternize and get to know the men who live on the opposite side of a brutal war, in what became a true lesson of humanity.  You should definitely check it out!

{6} My Christmas Wish List

In the Elmore household, you make a list or you don't really get anything for Christmas.  So anywho, they already know what I want, but here's a general summary.

1) KitchenAid Stand Mixer, in Silver (I blame Pioneer Woman)

2) The Cotton Patch Gospel.  When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my church did a performance of the Cotton Patch Gospel, a play.  The play was adapted from Clarence Jordan's translation of the Bible in to layman's terms.  Basically, he wrote the gospels as if they took place in deep south Georgia.  I am asking for his gospel translation(s).

3) Toms shoes.  In grey.
4) Nike Tempo Track shorts.  In red.

5) Subscriptions to Real Simple and/or Southern Living.

6) A 2011 Crossword Calendar

7) Pioneer Woman's Cookbook!

8) Black leather gloves

9) A French rolling pin, standing box cheese grater, and kitchen shears

10) Cute Knit Tunic from Old Navy

11) New Years Eve dress (several options: all fun and sparkly)

12) Light Trench Jacket

I'm supposed to give M some more $15-20 gift ideas, so I'm still scheming.  With a boyfriend, parents and brother I have to come up with plenty of ideas.  Hopefully I'll get my most wished-for.

Stay tuned for blog post #2 today.  Weekend re-cap.

Saturday, November 27

Most Meaningful Gift and Tips/Tricks to budget shopping

I'm running behind with my 12-Days of Christmas blogging challenge, so I'll do two-in-one today.

{3} The Most Meaningful/Best Gift You've received

This is hard.  I'm blessed and have received many things I've wanted growing up.  I'd have to say my top three would be:

1) Cruise with my high school best friends our senior year. We were on the dumpiest Carnival cruise ship, the Holiday, but we had the best time!  I knew it was what I was getting for Christmas, but regardless, I made such good memories with people who are still some of the most important people in my life.  

KJ, Me and Leah snorkling off the coast of Mexico

Brandon and I underwater while snorkling

2)  My pearl earrings and necklace set.  I asked for this in college and my parents bought it for me from ShaneCo.  They were really beautiful.  I lost one of the earrings about 6 months ago, but I still have the necklace.
3) My American Girl Dolls.  I loved them.  I played with them all the time and they were so fun to dress up.  I was always afraid I'd pull the string in the back and pull their head off!

{4} Tips/Tricks to a Budget Friendly Holiday Season

For holiday shopping, plan out how much you can afford to spend on each of your loved ones.  Map out your shopping and make a list to make sure you don't overbuy/overpay.  I prefer to do as much online shopping as possible to prevent buying stuff for myself when I'm at the mall.  Plus, many sites offer free shipping.  

Eat in more often during the month of December.  This saves a ton of money.  Chili and big batches of soup make several meals to get your money's worth, plus with the colder weather, it makes for a great meal.  Avoid going out for drinks to make your budget last.  This saves on calories and money.  

It's hard to find money saving tricks, but cutting back in small ways can make a huge difference.

Thursday, November 25

So much to be thankful for...

I am thankful for so many things in my life.  I live a very blessed life and often take it for granted.

M and I at KJ's wedding 7.9.10

{1} M.  He is the best boyfriend in the world.  He is always putting me before himself.  He is loving, honorable, handsome, giving, funny, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with him.

Dad, my friend Brandon, me and my mom at Brandon's graduation party in May 2010

 {2} My mom and dad.  I am blessed to have a family that is genuinely close and gets one another.  Growing up, I didn't like my mom because she was too strict and harsh with me.  In retrospect I now see how she was trying to raise me.  She used tough love and now I am blessed to consider her one of my best friends.  I tell her almost everything.  It's easy to see that I have become my mom.  My dad drives me up the wall, but I love him dearly.  He is always there for me and always goes above and beyond.  Growing up, I was such a daddy's girl.  He's a goofy and generally happy person.  He loves his family and has always done all he could to provide a comfortable and safe lifestyle for his family. 

Drew and I, Halloween 2010

{3} My brother.  Although he tried to hurt and harm me occasionally when we were kids, my brother is the best you could ever ask for.  We're not like normal siblings.  We fought every now and then, but for the most part, we got along like peas and carrots.  When we were little we had a list of inside jokes that we would often reference.  As we've gotten older, we've remained close friends.  My brother makes surprise crossword puzzles for me and will go out of his way to think of creative gifts he thinks you will enjoy.  We have our own language, handshake and nicknames.  I admire him so much.

Tailgating before the UT/Vandy game: Kim, Chelsea, Katie Rush, Me, KJ, Nan, Carolyn, Laura and Jill

Brandon and I at his graduation festivities

Bridesmaids at KJ's Wedding: Leah, Amber, KJ, Me, Erin, Sarah

{4} My friends.  I have some of the greatest friends in the world.  We are getting to the age where everyone is getting married or serious with their significant others.  It's becoming a rare occasion to get together, but regardless, we are there for each other and it's still a joy to get together and it be "just like old times" or to pick up right where we left off.  Many of my friends have been there for me through the thick of the drama, and for that, I am grateful.


{5} Sally-dog.  I never had a dog growing up, and when M told me he had a dog when we started dating, I was a little worried.  I've been scared of them since I can remember.  Not only was Sally a dog, she was a big, hyperactive puppy-dog.  Yikes!  While dating and after moving in with M, I have come to love Sally as if I had adopted her on my own.  She is loving and sweet.  I am thankful that she cheers me up.

{6} My job.  I don't always love my job, in fact, I rarely do, but I am grateful that I have one.  As a recent college graduate, only a year and a half out of school, I understand that it's damn-near impossible to find a job, especially an entry-level job.  Competition's tough and just knowing in general what I would like to do makes my desire to leave or be unemployed non-existent.

{7} Privileges.  I'm thankful that I can life comfortably.  I get my bills paid and still have money to spend on me.  I have the luxury to buy some new clothes every month or travel to see friends.  I know this is not something everyone has right now, and for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 24

Black Friday and Shopping!

{2} Black Friday/General Shopping Tips and Tricks

Growing up, we never really participated in Black Friday.  My mom's not a big shopper and she and my dad would typically take a day off work to do all their Christmas shopping so they didn't have to fight the crowds.  In high school and part of college, I worked retail, so I couldn't go shopping because I was stuck being a slave to the retail junkies.  Half-way through college, I started working at Bed Bath and Beyond and decided I didn't want to spend my few holiday days working.  I started going shopping with my best friend Brandon and his mom, Reda.

Now, Black Friday shopping for us isn't getting the best deal on Christmas gifts.  In fact, we typically don't do any Christmas gift shopping on Black Friday.  We're selfish and buy for ourselves.  In reality, though, we're helping the economy.  I've almost completed my regular Christmas shopping with only 1 or 2 gifts left.  This way, I've done my part by buying gifts for my loved ones AND shopping for myself.  Win/win situation!

Because I don't do my Christmas shopping and care about getting one specific deal, I don't have that much advice.  I guess my main thing would be to have fun.  I love to shop.  Try not to let the crazies interfere with the joy of buying gifts for others.

In regards to shopping tricks, since I did most of my shopping online, try and find places you can get free shipping.  Amazon.com has free shipping on any purchase over $25.  AWESOME!  Try to get your shopping done at odd hours and times.  I find that the left over gifts I have to get that weren't available online, are much more enjoyable to buy on a random weeknight when the mall is fairly vacated.

Oh, and getting a Starbucks treat before hitting the stores is always a plus!  Happy Shopping! :)

Wee Bit Wednesday

I've decided to start participating in Wee Bit Wednesdays, so here goes!

{one} what kind of camera do you have? Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital Elph.  It's blue and pretty, but just your basic point and shoot digital camera

{two} you just won $1000 and you have to spend it on yourself on one item. what do you buy? Probably a lap-top or desk top.  Or maybe a kick-ass TV 

{three} if you had to choose, would you rather live with your parents in the same house forever or 5000 miles away? Hmm, this is hard because I love my parents dearly, but we lived in a pretty small 3- bedroom house.  I guess with them forever because I'm never gonna be rich enough with my history degree to come see them all the time from 5000 miles away
{four} is your christmas tree up yet? Not yet.  The one in my office is.  My family's putting up the Elmore tree on Sunday, and M and I won't put ours up for a week or two because we're gonna get a real one

{five} do you bring reusable bags to the grocery store? I wish I did.  We own a whole bunch of them, but I always forget to grab them when I'm going to the store 

{six} which would be worse: listening to the same song on replay for the rest of your life or having to eat the same meal everyday for the rest of your life? listening to the same song on replay the rest of my life.  The same meal would get dull, but at least it could be my favorite foods, the song would drive me up the wall.

{seven} name 3 things you are thankful for this season. M, my family, and living a fairly comfortable lifestyle 

{eight} do you dye/highlight your hair? if so, do you do it yourself or have it done at the salon? No, I haven't dyed my hair in about 2-3 years.  I used to use a bottle and have only had it dyed once at the salon 

{nine} would you rather watch a movie at home or at the theater? At home.  My legs get restless at the theatre, but at home I can pause and get up and go to the bathroom, fix snacks, etc.  Plus, then I'm not paying an arm, a leg and my first born child to see a movie.

{ten} would you rather win $1000/week for life or $5 million all at once? $5 million all at once so I could buy a new car, and invest the rest so I could travel later in life.

Tuesday, November 23


Today is day 1 of the 12 Day of Christmas blogging challenge.

{1} Christmas/Holiday Traditions

My family has lots of Christmas/Holiday traditions. I won't bore you with Thanksgiving because we no longer have any Thanksgiving traditions. Christmas is my favorite holiday. There are many reasons for this, two of which are gift giving and gift receiving, but probably my favorite part is the holiday traditions.

Growing up, the tree never went up the weekend after Thanksgiving, like many peoples' do. Instead, my mom did not like having it up for extended periods of time, so we would find a time 2-3 weeks before Christmas when all 4 of us were around. In recent years, however, it has become our tradition to put the tree up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This started when my brother and I would go off to college. It wasn't worth putting the tree up after we could get home from school after finals, so I suggested we do like most other American families. So now we are.

My parents are both from Alabama, so growing up, it was our tradition to drive to my mom's mom's house the Saturday before Christmas, eat, open presents and visit with my extended family. Then we would pile in the car, drive to my dad's mom's house and spend the night. The next day we would eat, open presents and visit with my extended family. Then we would drive home.

This used to be all we saw of my relatives for the Christmas season. When I was 11, my grandfather, Baw Baw, passed away. After that, my grandmother would come stay with us on Christmas Eve-Christmas day. This continued until she passed away when I was in college. This altered our Christmas plans and now we only go to my dad's mom's house the Sunday before Christmas to eat, open presents and visit with my extended family.

My family spends Christmas Eve with our neighbors. The festivities alternate between my parents house and the Harshman's house. We get together at 5 pm, eat finger foods, we used to open presents when we were younger, then go to church. We'd attend the 7 pm candlelight Christmas service. The Harshmans and Elmores would take up the whole pew, we'd take communion, and go home. From there, we might hang out with the Harshmans a little longer (i.e. Robert and I would listen to Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, and we'd play shoot 'em-up video games) We'd go home, Drew and I (mostly I) would ask to open a present, be denied that opportunity, and be told to hit the hay or Santa wouldn't stop at the house.

Some years Drew and I will read the Nutcracker, an edition we had illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Until I was in high school, Santa brought unwrapped presents to the Elmore household. Mom and Dad and Drew each had a present for me under the tree. I wouldn't be able to sleep on Christmas Eve. I would get up around 4 or 5 am, sneak into the living, see what Santa left me and go back to bed until 6 or 7, when I was allowed to wake my family members. We'd get up and Drew and I would play with our presents while breakfast cooked. We weren't allowed to open our stockings until after breakfast to keep us from filling up on candy. Now, we sleep in because we're older, and mom wraps all the presents 3 weeks before "Santa comes." When we do get up, we pass out all the presents and open them in a round, watching everyone open each present. It's quite fun, but takes a couple of hours. We typically eat breakfast in the middle. My dad started this weird tradition growing up where we made goofy gift tags for each other. The tradition persisted until last year when it was just too difficult to come up with fresh ideas.

Once we're done opening presents, we can start on stockings. You check out your swag and then we play "Let's Make a Deal." Yes, we barter with each other to get the candy we really wanted in our stockings. Dad always tries to hoodwink us into trading for our Starbucks gift cards.

At this point, we lay around, play with our new toys, try on new clothes and generally be lazy. When I was little, and occasionally still, my childhood best friend and I will go to each other's houses to see what each other got that we can play with.

Delicious Yorkshire Puddings!
Mid-afternoon people shower and get ready, then we help mom cook dinner. Evidently most people each turkey or ham accompanied by Thanksgiving-y type sides for Christmas. How strange! We eat a traditional English dinner of: prime rib, Yorkshire puddings, green beans, Waldorf salad, new potatoes, and crescent rolls. Dessert varies, but in the past few years we've had cheescakes. We eat off the fine china. Every year when we sit down to sup, no one will volunteer to say the blessing, so it usually falls upon my brother. Then, while we're eating, we go around and say what our favorite gift we received was. It's quite fun.

Christmas with my family is very important to me. I love my mom and dad and brother dearly, so it's wonderful to get to share such a meaningful holiday season with them. I look forward to continuing holiday traditions with M, and starting several of our own!

Oh, and I forgot to mention, my brother and I will inevitably watch A Christmas Story clips all day long, whenever we can catch part of it.  It is our hands down favorite movie, but more on that to come a later post!

On an unrelated note. I thought I would share this hideous photo of Kesha at the American Music Awards. I'm embarrassed to say I went to high school with her! At least it's entertaining to laugh at her and say WTF?!

Monday, November 22

Rocky Top will always be Home Sweet Home to me!

This was a great, but jam-packed, weekend.  M and I have been looking forward to this game for a long time.  He is almost the perfect man with his one flaw being his allegiance to Vanderbilt.  He did graduate from there, so at least it's justified.  When we started dating, I thought how fun it would be to get to have an inhouse/instate rivalry.  Since we started dating in December, we didn't get to experience football season together.  After months together, we finally got to experience our first football season.  Both our teams have new coaches this year and both our teams have played miserably all season.  When we went to Knoxville for my birthday weekend/UT vs. Florida game, we told my friend Carolyn that they should come to Nashville in November for UT/Vandy.  Turns out, the majority of my college group of friends came in town (several are from Nash originally and are either still here, or are in grad school.)  Carolyn came in town early to see Harry Potter on Thursday night.  Friday I gave her my house key so she wouldn't be stuck at the house all day long while I was at work.  When I got home, I popped in the shower while we discussed plans for the night. 

Her boyfriend, John, had flown to DC for a job interview and requested that his return flight go to Nashville so that he would be here for the game and festivities.  I figured Caro, M, KJ and Joel would grab a low-key dinner before picking John up at the airport at 9pm.  Turns out, our friends all wanted to get together for dinner.  We finally managed to get a headcount for dinner of 8 and tried to figure out where we could get in and out in time to get to the airport to pick up John.  We opted for Pizza Perfect by Hillsboro Village.  We had a good time at dinner and left the group telling them we'd meet back up with them after we dropped John's stuff by the house.  M had told his friend Adam he would run the lights for his band's show, so he was going to meet us out later.  We ended up only going one place, which was kind of disappointing because Caro and I wanted to take John downtown to Broadway for some honky-tonks and Big Bang dueling piano bar, but Kim was adamant about wanting to go to Whiskey Kitchen.  It was a pretty cool bar, and it turns out our waitress was one of our sorority sisters, which was pretty funny.  I found $5 on the way from the car to the bar.  Win!

M met us there, but it was really loud and I was pretty tired (I can only blame myself because of the midnight HP showing,) so we didn't stay too much later.  We got home around 1 am where we pretty much fell straight into bed.  

Saturday morning we woke up relatively early, it's hard not to with a 65lb puppy-dog who thinks she's a small and discrete lapdog.  <3 Sally.  I made breakfast while folks took showers.  Over breakfast we made a game plan to send John and M on with Jill's jeep to find a tailgate spot while we ran to the grocery and liquor stores.  Best idea ever.

We managed to spend $100 at the store buying hot dogs/hamburgers/etc.  We found the guys and determined that they had found the perfect tailgating spot, albeit possible sketchy.  Turns out it was parking for the rec center, so you were supposed to have a permit, so there was the ever-so-sleight possibility that Caro and Jill's cars could get towed.  Jill decided to move hers to a garage and drama ensued with our friends not wanting to park their cars there at the risk of getting towed, but expecting to be able to dump all their tailgate valuables in our Honda Accord.  Once we got the drama sorted out, the fun began.

M did most of the grilling on Carolyn's brother's really neat-o tailgate grill.  It folds flat and has wheels and tiny propane tanks.  Totally awesome.  We got there around 12:30 and the game wasn't until 6:30, so we had plenty of time to eat, drink and play cornhole.  People came and went visiting the tailgate, many sticking around for the whole thing.  I didn't feel very drunk, but things seem hazy about the game, so I guess I had more than I thought.  Anyway, so we cleaned up and then headed to the stadium, with M's excellent guidance.  Caro, John, M and I bought tickets together, so we found our seat and proceeded watch a one possession victory for UT.  M did not care for all the obnoxious UT fans around us, and his annoying girlfriend didn't help (whoops!)  We shared some delicious nachos and stuck the game out right until the end.  Surprisingly, it wasn't that cold.  Even though Vandy lost, it was a great first rivalry game for M and I.  He suggested we frame the tickets.  He's precious!

We all met back at the car where we proceeded to decide on a late night trip to Waffle House.  I had a delicious waffle and crispy bacon.  

I tend to hit a wall.  When I do, I want nothing else but to go to sleep.  This happened at Waffle House.  I managed to hold on to consciousness long enough to get home, unload the car and put on pj's, but then I crashed while M cleaned up.  Sleep was wonderful.

Sunday we woke, and I got in the shower knowing we had to meet my parents for brunch at 10:30 for my brother's birthday (which was Saturday.)  Trying to hustle 3 friends and one boyfriend to get ready, packed, and out the door by 10:15 is no easy task, folks.  Finally M and I had said goodbye and were on our way.  Good thing I was driving since I have a lead foot.

We got to Copper Kettle, and I wasn't feeling that great.  While we were there, I ran into two of my favorite high school teachers: Ms. Taylor my French teacher and Ms. Justus my freshman English and senior Film as Lit teacher.  

M took my car after brunch, and mom, dad, Drew and I went back to the house to play some family games.  Animosity ensued.  Fun times.  Mom took me back home since I was without car.  M's dad was at our house when I got there while M fixed his computer.  He bought us pizza for dinner and left after his computer was fixed.  M and I watched the rest of my Mad Men disc and went to bed.  

We both agreed that we had a great weekend, but we missed having any minute of alone time.  When my alarm went off this morning, I could've used another 3 hours of sleep.  

I had a great weekend and was so glad to see my friends, but I'm definitely grateful for a three day and semi-relaxing week!  Planning/entertaining for so many is definitely exhausting!

Tomorrow I'm starting a 12-Day of Christmas blog challenge!  I'm very excited.  You can check out the details here if you want to participate.

Friday, November 19

I solemnly swear I am up to no good...

It's almost over-- the glorious mystery of what will be next in the world of Harry Potter.  There is only one installment left.  I have attended midnight movie showings and book releases for almost ten years now.  Come next summer, I will no longer have Harry to look forward to.  It's foreign and I don't know how to comprehend it.  When all is said and done, I will own 7 magical, whimsical books and 8 dvds with a cache of wonderful memories.  It will be the end of an era.  An era I don't think I'm quite ready to let go of.

I set my facebook status last night to read "I solemnly swear I am up to no good."  M, who has no interest whatsoever in Harry Potter, was reading his news feed and asks across the room, "you solemnly swear you're up to no good?"  I pulled my eyes away from my computer screen and looked upon him with pity and said, "sorry, you're a muggle, you wouldn't understand."  This only confused him further.

Finally, 10 pm arrived and Carolyn, Brandon and my brother showed up at the house, causing Sally to ooze excitement.  She didn't know how to contain herself with the arrival of three more exciting people than M and I.  We loaded up and drove to the Green Hills theatre.  Now, I have seen midnight showings at Thoroughbred in Cool Springs and the Pinnacle in Knoxville.  It was hyped up and hectic with lots of crazy Harry Potter nut-sos.  Green Hills was not quite like that.  There were people who were dressed up, but there was no dueling on the floor below the screen, and no crazy paper mache with feathers Hedwig costume.  It was nice, though.  The ushers were letting people into the theatres instead of forcing us to sit in a queue for the specific auditorium we were in and letting us scramble into the theatre for seats.  We got some decent seats, settled in and hung out for an hour and a half before the movie started.  

There were surprisingly few previews before the movie, 2, maybe 3?  The movie started promptly at 12:10, which shocked me as I expected 20 minutes or so.  

Overall, I thought the movie was a great!  Maybe the best and most accurate so far.  Sure, there were things that weren't exactly spot-on, but there were no additional scenes that never happened (like in HBP) and the things that were changed won't be that significant to the overall plot.  It was a bit more scary than the others have been, and the slight bits of humor were great.  

I was rather concerned about what the stopping point would be for part 1, and I was pleasantly pleased.  I won't say because I don't want to ruin it for others, but it sets part 2 up to be action-packed.  I find this more appealing than Harry, Ron, and Hermione jumping around from forest to beach, and so forth. (which was actually rather minimal in the movie)

I will be attending the midnight premiere of Part 2 next summer.  I will be thoroughly exhausted for work just like I am now, but it will be worth it.  I will complete my obsession with Harry Potter in the proper fashion, and I'm sure I will cry both during the course of the movie, and at the end knowing there's nothing to look forward to.  There will no longer be the next movie trailer to come out or promotional stills.  It will be devastating, but I suppose it can't go on forever.

Mischief Managed!

Thursday, November 18

'Roid Rage

Unfortunately, I believe I've been suffering from 'Roid Rage.  I mean, probably not really, but it sure as heck seems like it.

I had an allergic reaction to something used during the surgery.  It was either the adhesive they used to secure my stitch strip things or the sanitizer they used to clean my abdomen before they operated.  Either way, I had this horrible reaction with angry welts and itchiness beyond reason.  It was miserable.  I would wake up at all hours of the night and scratch, scratch, scratch, then repeat.  The itchiness has definitely gotten better, but not gone away.  The welts are gone and the redness is down.  My hormones, however, are ragin'.

I have pretty bad road rage to begin with.  If you've ever ridden with me in the car, you know this.  But after my third speeding ticket and traffic school experience, I came to the realization that I needed to chill the eff out.  I still get upset sometimes, especially if I'm in a rush or people are just being *complete* idiots, but it's definitely improved.

So Tuesday night, traffic was bad because of the rain, but I really didn't get too upset about it.  Yesterday, however, made me irate.

Traffic was bad for no good reason: i.e. the sun was shining, the roads were dry, hump day was over.  I should've been a happy time.  It was not, though.  There was one particular situation that just pissed me off so badly, that I had to share about it here.

{Scenario A}

Scenario A- I'm not a good artist, but these are cars, bear with me
So traffic was horrible on my drive home yesterday.  Now the route I normally take is 65 South to Broadway/Church/Charlotte, depending on how badly traffic is backed up.  Unfortunately, yesterday traffic was backed almost all the way to the split where you choose to go to Memphis, or where you make the poor decision to go toward Knoxville/Huntsville.  I went my merry way and saw the traffic was backed up pretty far.  I politely worked my way over to the far right lane as opportunities became available.  I was a polite citizen and used my blinker to indicate my decision and then I politely sat in the far right lane, aka exit ramp for Charlotte Pike, waiting for my turn to sit at the light.

Clearly there is no where to go, as traffic is dead stopped.  Asshole, as I've labeled him on the priceless artwork above, decides he's more important than everyone in the entire universe and that rules do not apply to him.  I wish I'd gotten the memo.  He decides he'll go around all of us on the right shoulder.

Um, no?  That's not fair.  Why wouldn't asshole have to wait his turn like everyone else.  It infuriated me.  He managed to get slightly ahead of me on the shoulder (which is not indicated in the picture above) and then he foolishly let me gain on him.  Now, I must state that I had already been hugging, if I wasn't already over the solid white line.  So I get past him and pull even further over the white line so that he can not get around me.  Hah, serves him right.  

He then decides that life is too short to keep living, so he nearly swipes my bumper as he jerks it left to go around me as another car is flying up the left land of the exit ramp.  He narrowly avoided hitting the on-coming car.  He then flew up to sit behind other cars at the light.  In a hurry to sit and wait.  Awesome.  I never saw him again.

This morning before I left for work, M was watching the news and saw the traffic report.  According to Tennessee Mornings, my commute was going to s-u-c-k.  M looked up the TDOT map of the accidents and saw that traffic was being diverted along my route.  He suggested I take Franklin Road.  However, I did that on Tuesday and FRA traffic slows that down, so I sucked it up and hopped on 65 North.  There was typical traffic all the way through downtown where it said traffic was being diverted.  I didn't meet a hitch in my commute until I got to my exit, where traffic was backed up to the split for the exit ramp. 

I will tell you about Scenario B.  It occurs at least once a week, so it's a regular rage producer for me, but I'm including it since it still falls under my 'roid rage.

{Scenario B}
Scenario B, these are also cars.  I'm such a good artist
The off-ramp to get off at my exit for work, Rosa Parks, often backs up.  They're doing construction on a bridge at the exit, which contributes to the suck-age, but often times, it's just because people are idiots.  When the ramp is backed all the way up to the split, as it was this morning, it means I will be late to work.  It can add up to 10-15 more minutes of waiting.  

Today it was backed up.  Now today isn't as bad as a lot of days, but it still wasn't pleasant.  People, like asshole in Scenario A, think that they are more entitled to breaking rules, and bypassing those who have been patiently waiting.  They will fly up around the traffic, like Blinker Jerk in the artwork above.  They expect to be let in.  I don't mind when it's further back, because sometimes it's people who are coming from the west and they don't have an opportunity to get in the exit lane.  Some people do it, however, when the white line is no longer a dash, but a solid white line.  I do not let those people in.  I will let them hit me if they think it's important enough to break driving rules and think they're better than every other person whose been waiting for 10 minutes.

Clearly these issues rub me the wrong way, especially when I am not sleeping well because I'm taking a steriod pack to keep me from itching from my allergic reaction, and especially when I suspect I'm suffering from 'roid rage.  I'm probably not, but at least I finally have something to blame for my driving frustrations.

T-minus 20 minutes until I leave.  Let's hope traffic is exponentially better than it was yesterday and the day before.

Tonight's the Harry Potter premiere, so I've been looking forward to that all day, plus Carolyn's almost in town, and I'm looking forward to Friday and a fun-filled weekend.  As my coworker Kendra would say, Happy Friday Eve!

Wednesday, November 17

Incoherent Hump Day

This post is going to be all sorts of all over the place.  So here we go.

I fulfilled my itch to start shopping yesterday.  M set a limit that we'll each spend on each other for Christmas.  This sent me into "reevaluate mode."  I had to tweak my ideas and decide what I thought was the most important vs least important.  I still have a couple of other things to buy, but I'm so looking forward to spoiling him.

I bought one of his gifts at Esty.  I <3 Etsy.  If you've never been, you have to check it out.  It's like ebay, but with handcrafted and vintage things.  I've bought some gifts for my mom there as well and have been very pleased with the vendors.  

Then I popped on over to Amazon where I got free super saving shipping because I'm awesome.  There's been a gift I've had my eye on for M for about 4 months, so I finally popped on over and bought it.  It's funny to see the shipping added and then removed from your order.  It's a great way to save a bit extra, though, and also avoid the crazies around the mall.  

I got free shipping at LLBean as well, although I'm not really sure why.  Either way, I'm not gonna complain.  Now I just need to run to Target and TJMaxx and besides wrapping, I'll be done with M's gifts.  

I asked him last night if he'd thought about what he's getting me, just out of curiosity, and he retaliated by asking why I am already buying stuff when it's only November 16.  I told him I like to get my shopping out of the way before December so that I can enjoy the holiday season.  I think he looked at me like I was crazy!

Growing up, my families Thanksgiving tradition consisted of hitting the road early (9am-ish) to drive two hours to my mom's mom's house in Hartselle, Alabama.  It's quite the booming metropolis.  We'd spent the early afternoon there, eating lunch, chatting, and playing with my cousins.  Most Americans eat pumpkin or pecan pie, or something of similar fall-spirit for dessert on Thanksgiving, and I believe Sisi, my grandmother, did indeed make those desserts, but it was always a tradition (for some reason of which I'm still not sure) for her to make homemade banana pudding.  It was the best. homemade. banana. pudding.  EVER.  I have made it and it is just absolutely to die for.  (After lunch, we would drive to Athens, Alabama to eat Thanksgiving dinner at my dad's mom's house, but that's not the point of this story.)

Tradition is essential to me when it comes to the holidays.  I don't like things to change.  For example: We eat Christmas dinner on my parent's fine china.  It's the only day of the year we use it, and I think it's wonderful and a must-do for the holidays.  Well, about 5 years ago, my mom went shopping and bought something she'd been wanting for a long time (apparently.)  She bought Christmas place settings.  They are cute and have holly and Christmas-y decorations.  She brought them home all excited and goes, "Look Ingrid!  We can eat Christmas dinner off of them!"

I stopped her right there and said that we couldn't because we always eat Christmas dinner off the fine china because it's the only day out of 365 that we do.  I won.  She didn't return the place settings, instead we replaced holiday paper products at breakfast with festive holly plates.  Win-win situation.

Ironically, I wasn't upset when my mom bought new stockings even though our old ones were hand cross-stitched by her and Drew and I had had them as long as I can remember.  I'm weird.

As a stickler for all things tradition, when my mom's mom died and my dad's mom decided to relocate her family Thanksgiving to Shoney's, (that's a WHOLE 'nother story...) and we started staying home in Franklin for Thanksgiving, I was hell-bent that we would have banana pudding for dessert because that's how Sisi did it.  I'm pretty sure mom, dad and Drew would've been perfectly content with a pecan pie, but because it was so important to me, they let me make banana pudding.  It's really good banana pudding, y'all.  Made from scratch, with meringue on top.  Absolutely divine!  

So about two weeks ago, mom e-mailed dad, Drew and I to let us know the Thanksgiving menu.  We're a cool family.  Anyway, we're doing the basics: turkey, gravy, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry chutney, and apple coleslaw.  I don't know what apple coleslaw is and I won't be eating the green beans or cranberry chutney, but yum, the menu looks good.  Mom had told me I could make banana pudding, and die hard traditional me actually said, "no, I'll make some sort of fall themed cheesecake for dessert."  She was stunned.  As anyone would be if they really understood my lack of wavering when it comes to change.  

Autumn Cheesecake-are you salivating yet?
After a couple of hours of research, aka looking through my cookbooks and cheesecake recipes and a little good searching, I decided on "Autumn Cheesecake."  It's gonna be delicious folks.  It's just a basic cheesecake filling with a cinnamon-y graham cracker and pecan crust.  Then you slice apples and place them all pretty on top, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and more pecans and then bake for 70 minutes.  Just talking about it is making my mouth water and making me wish it were next Thursday already.  I'm gonna be all Pioneer Woman as I make and bake it, ya know, taking pictures, blogging with the step by step, with pictures.  It'll be great.  And M will be mad at me when the whole house smells divine next Wednesday night, and I tell him he can't eat it until Thursday.  It'll be fun.  And mean. 

Opryland Hotel
Our one-year anniversary's in a couple of weeks.  With the holiday season, I don't really want to go to some fancy elaborate dinner.  I mean, don't get me wrong, that would be fun and such, but I think I'd rather do something more festive.  The Opryland Hotel reopened on Monday, so I've suggested we get dressed up the Friday night following our anniversary, head to Opryland and have drinks at The Falls, their new atrium bar which seems totally relaxed and fun.  Afterwards or before, we can roam around the hotel and look at the Christmas decorations which I love to do every year (post about Opryland pending), but was unfortunate not to be able to see last year.  I'm so happy they've finished their renovations since the flood.  Sounds like a great and casual way to celebrate our love!    
The Falls at Opryland Hotel

Carolyn, Laura and Nan will all be in town this weekend for the UT/Vandy game.  They're three of my favorite college friends and sisters.  I don't get to see them often enough.  Laura came to our Halloween party, but I haven't seen Carolyn and Nan since my birthday weekend when I went to Knoxville.  Carolyn gets in tomorrow night around 9 or so.  We're going to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I'm so excited, I don't know how to handle it.  Then I'll get to see all my favorite college friends when we go out downtown Friday night.  Carolyn's boyfriend John hasn't ever been out in Nashville, so we're gonna hit up Big Bang and some other wonderful honky-tonks on Broadway.  Then Saturday we're tailgating before the game.  I'm excited because Carolyn, John, M and I were able to get tickets together, so even if we don't care the seats, we'll be able to chat and have a good time.  It's gonna be such an awesome weekend!  Plus, my brother's birthday's on Saturday, so we're celebrating Sunday.  I'm excited to have that to look forward to.  I have so much to do tonight and tomorrow with cleaning and such.  It's totally worth it to see some of my favorite people.  Carolyn is one of M's favorites of my friends, he's totally stoked that she's gonna be staying with us.  

I'm so excited to have fun plans, then a three-day week followed by a four-day weekend.  It sure does make time fly by!
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