A Tour of My Christmas Decorations

December 7, 2008 at 9:10 am (Married Life) (, , , , )

Hubby and I have decorated our apartment up for Christmas all nice and spiffy (I’ve gotten over my pre-holiday humdrums), but since we have hardly anyone to invite over to see the decorations I thought I’d put them up here.

Here I am with our Christmas Wreath.  it's inside, because nobody but us ever see's our "front" door anyways

Here I am with our Christmas Wreath. it's inside, because nobody but us ever see's our "front" door anyways

Luckily for us, I had accumulated almost an entire tree worth of ornaments before I ever moved out of my parents house, this did mean however, that the huge box of cheap ornaments we bought last year weren’t needed for the tree.  I put them to good use anyways, on top of a cabinet.

Nothing but gravity, and lucky placement is holding those up there.

Nothing but gravity, and lucky placement is holding those up there.

Hubby helped me set up the tree, but I did most of the decorating, although he helped with the tin “tinsel” ornaments.

Our Christmas tree

Our Christmas tree

I’ve included Pictures of a few of our ornaments, so you can really see what it looks like.

I played french horn in elementary school.  As a result I own more french horn ornaments than anyone else on the planet.

I played french horn in elementary school. As a result I own more french horn ornaments than anyone else on the planet.


This is our Precious Moments "Our First Christmas Together" ornament. Obviously it was new last year, not this year.

Hubby's Mom sent us these, we have a whole set of them.  Super cute!

Hubby's Mom sent us these, we have a whole set of them. Super cute!

This ornament has no particular sentimental value, but Hubby took a darn good picture of it, so I decided to show it off

This ornament has no particular sentimental value, but Hubby took a darn good picture of it, so I decided to show it off

Not included in the picture tour of our ornaments are several other things.  You’ll have to imagine the snowman clock, which chimes a different Christmas carol every hour.  On our glass door, we have a lovely, sparkly static-cling christmas wreath from the dollar store (am I classy or what).  Also from the dollar store, the perennial favourite felt banners.  One is blue, has snowmen and says NOEL.  The other is  red, has santa and reads “HOHO”.  Yep, you read that right, not Ho Ho Ho, just Ho Ho.


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Agatha Christie Shortage

December 6, 2008 at 4:32 pm (Books) ()

I’m not a person who has a favourite book.  I love too many different genres and styles to name one book as favourite.  I do however think that I can safely declare a favourite author.  She has written 70 some-odd books, and I’ve read them all.  In fact I’ve read them all numerous times, and they’re still my go-to books when I need something light.  As the title of this post suggests, that author is Agatha Christie.

The thing I find with her books is they’re always enjoyable.  They’re often silly, seldom realistic, and occasionally way out there, but who cares.  The Whodunits she wrote are darn good puzzles.  And most often I either forget how it ends between readings or, with some of the more beloved ones, remember the ending, and spend the whole book gloating as I recognize the pointers, and wondering how I was so dim as not to figure it out the first time through.

I can’t even say that I have a favourite Agatha Christie novel, although I can name my top few: Murder on the Orient Express, the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Cat Among the Pigeens are right up there.  (Pretty much I love Hercule Poirot) Favourite short story collections include: the Tuesday Night Club Murders, and Partners in Crime.

I have a problem though.  My mom owned everything Agatha Christie had ever written long before I started reading them.  This means I never built up a good Agatha Christie collection of my own.  I just borrowed Mom’s.  Once I started university, I started to rectify this, mostly by asking for some of the omnibuses etc as birthday gifts.  As a result, I have about 20 of her books here with me.

The problem with only having 20 Agatha Christie’s in this city, is that I’ve read them all at least once, and several of them twice since I moved here a year and a bit ago.  Now, I can read these books over and over, but three times in a year is a little much.  There’s no time to let any of the details fade, at all.

So I need more, that’s the obvious solution.  But now we stumble upon the fact that I’m a little bit cheap, and a little bit illogical.  There’s no good reason for me not to pay $10 a piece for some of these books, but it seems like way to much for something I’ve read before (this is where the lack of logic comes in, that $10 is a much better bet than the $15 or $16 I’ll spend on something I’ve never heard of because it looks interesting).  I seriously need to find a used book store in this city.  But until I do, at least I can whine about it on the internet.

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The Mistborn Series

December 3, 2008 at 11:21 pm (Books) (, )

Hubby and I both recently finished reading the Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson.  Hubby declared the third book, The Hero of Ages, to be the best end of a fantasy series he’s ever read.  He then spent the next week or so hounding me to start reading it right now so he could listen to me speculate about how it would end.

Personally I was just thrilled to actually read the end of a fantasy series.  Especially one that actually ended after three books, the way so many series now seem to continue indefinitely, or at least until the author dies (as a side note, this is the author who will be finishing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, now that he has passed).  I was starting to think that the idea of ending your story after three books had died with Tolkien.

I do have to agree with Hubby that it is an excellent book.  And one that ties things up very nicely.  This book ties up loose ends from earlier in the series that I didn’t even realize were loose until right before they were resolved.  The story was super interesting and engaging.  And I was up way to late two nights running finishing it.  It didn’t actually keep me up half the night the way the first one, Mistborn: The Final Empire, did but it was close.

I’m torn about which book in this series is my favourite.  I think that distinction goes to the first one.  It was a really, really, really good book.  The second one, also very good, was probably my least favourite of the three.  I know it was hubby’s least favourite.  It had the most politicking and the least action of the three.

While I wouldn’t call this series light reading, it wasn’t heavy either.  The novels deal with some grown up themes like loyalty and leadership, but they are quick paced, and easy to read.  There’s never any feeling of slogging through to the good parts (a la The Two Towers) because most parts are good parts.  If you’re looking for a good fantasy, I recommend these.

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What Do You Mean It’s Not My Favourite Anymore

November 29, 2008 at 11:05 pm (Everything Else)

I posted earlier about my newly discovered love of Audiobooks.  I’m still enjoying them very much, but I’ve made a horrifying discovery.  There is a book that I loved to read as a child, which is just dead boring to listen to as an adult.  When did this happen? Why don’t I like it anymore?

The book is Heidi, by Johanna Spyri.  I remember it as a charming story about a little girl living on a mountain who’s sent to a city, get’s homesick, takes her new friend back to the mountian, and everything is happy.  What I’m listening to is an extremely dull story about a child who is too good to be true, living an exceptionally boring life on a mountain (boring to me, she was delighted with all of it) and then being sent to the city.  In the city things don’t get much more entertaining.  So far I’m only a quarter of the way through listening to it, but I’m not sure I’m going to finish.   I think I’m happier remembering Heidi as a book I loved, and leaving it on the shelf, so to speak, at least until I’ve got a little girl of my own to read it to.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.  I’m still not sure when I outgrew teen gross-out comedies for example.  But it’s definitely the most devestating.  Beloved childhood items like books should come with a warning “do not read again as an adult, you won’t like it.” (yes, I kow that’s totally impossible, no two people feel the same)  Not because this problem is universal, but because it isn’t.  Little House on the Prairie was awesome when I reread it a year or two ago, so it doen’t happen with all books.  Which makes it even harder to avoid the ones that are so disappointing.

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Quantum of Solace

November 26, 2008 at 12:06 pm (Movies) (, )

Hubby and I went to the see the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, last weekend.  He was pretty impressed; I, on the other hand, was somewhat disappointed.  It wasn’t a bad movie, in fact it was a pretty good movie, it just didn’t do much for me.

From the very beginning I had a problem with the way that the action scenes were shot.  In one of the very earliest, a fight scene between two men in suits, I had no idea which was James Bond, and which the bad guy, until a pause in the action.  It was shot in that jerky manner that seems to be so popular right now.  It’s just unfortunate that I’m no good at following that type of thing, and so was confused.

I also found the plot somewhat confusing.  It picked right up after Casino Royale, a movie which I loved by the way, but it seemed that only some aspects of the story were related to the prvious movie.  I was generally just a bit lost.  I think the story was quite good, but as I’m not completely sure what it was about, I can’t be positive.

Another problem, for me, is that the movie was quite dark.  It was lacking in a lot of the upbeat moments that make James Bond fun.  Casino Royale was a much darker movie than the Pierce Brosnan bond movies, but it still had a lot of those fun moments.  Quantum of Solace had far fewer of those.  Which was a real let down for me, as I went to a James Bond movie looking for an afternoon of fun.

That said, I think that I’m more or less alone in this opinion.  Hubby, as I mentioned above, really liked the movie.  My parents, who saw it the same day, half a country away, also really enjoyed it.  And I can’t say that I thought it was a waste of time or money.  I just didn’t like it nearly as much as I expected to.

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Yay Audiobooks

November 23, 2008 at 11:06 pm (Books) (, , )

I’ve discovered the absolute greatest thing for jogging, and also for the bus:  audio books.  I was having a small problem with getting bored during jogs.  As Hubby and I have become better and better joggers, we’re doing less walking.  These means that we don’t get breaks during our jogging to chat.  Without any real chatting, 25-30 minutes of jogging can get pretty darn boring.

I’ve tried listening to music while I jog, but it just doesn’t seem to work for me.  I find myself jogging in time to the music, which is often not the right rhythm/pace for me. So with music out of the picture I started looking for other things that I could do with my iPod to make jogging less boring.  And I hit on the idea of audio books.

A quick google search revealed that if you’re looking for audio books of things in the public domain (i.e. to old to be under copyright) you have tons of free options.  So far I’ve been using Free Classic Audio Books because I like their iPod ready downloads.  The library isn’t huge, but I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve listened to.  I’ve also been looking at the LibriVox library, but it’s so large that I’ve found it easier to start with the small one first.

I started off with a book I’d read many times before: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.  This was a good choice for me, as it took a couple of chapters to get used to hearing the story instead of reading it.  I have to say that I was absolutely thrilled though.  I’ve always found Agatha Christie’s work entertaining, but it’s never been laugh out loud funny until you hear it read by an Englishman who’s accent is perfect for Captain Hastings.  The accent he used for Poirot was even better.  I can’t wait to start trying out some other books.

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Bah Humbug

November 21, 2008 at 11:06 pm (Everything Else) (, , )

To start this post I need to be very clear on one point: I love Christmas.  It’s absolutely my favourite time of the year.  I love the decorations, I love the food, I love the presents (giving and getting).  I even love the things that drive everyone else crazy like the super crowded malls, just because they’re part of Christmas.

In fact, I love Christmas so much that I have to set myself some very strict rules to keep from driving everyone around me crazy.  This means that in my little world the holiday season MAY NOT start until November 25.  That’s the date we put up the tree and start decorating.  That’s the date I start shopping.  That’s when things begin.

It doesn’t bother me when stores don’t follow my rules.  Although I did think it was ridiculous when Hubby announced on November first that the Future Shop website was already changed over to a Christmas theme.  I think it takes alot away from the specialness that by early November the whole mall is decorated up with lights and tinsel.  But because it’s a company, not a person, I don’t let it get to me.

Real people however is something totally different.  It’s mid November now, and I took it as a personal affront today when I saw several houses with Christmas lights on.  I was absolutely indignant.  It was as though, by breaking my rules, I felt that these people I had never met were somehow getting away with something they shouldn’t.  Which is silly, because I was out shopping for a wreath.  But dang it, that wreath won’t get hung up until November 25th.  It’s different I tell you.

For the most part I keep these opinions to myself.  Hubby tends to know how I feel, but I would never tell a stranger.  Nor for the most part will I tell people I know, if I feel they’re violating the rules.  The only exception is if you break the rules before Hallowe’en.  When Mom asked me to put together a Christmas list in late October, I intentionally procrastinated until after Hallowe’en.  I just think it kills the spirit of one holiday to start looking forward to the next.

So until November 25th, I say Bah Humbug! Put those lights away!  After the 25th, I’ll be singing Jingle Bells.  I guess I’m just an odd one.

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Mamma Mia it’s Movie Time

November 18, 2008 at 9:53 pm (Movies) (, , )

Thanks to the wonders of cheap, on campus, movie theatres that show movies in between theatrical release and dvd release, Sis and I went to see Mamma Mia the other night.  I can’t say that it was a great movie, but I can say that it’s been quite a while since I laughed that hard in a theatre.

Sis and I were pretty much raised on the music of ABBA.  I think at some point my parents got sick of Raffi and other children’s music.  So they decided that ABBA was something they enjoyed, which was relatively child safe, and had a lot of upbeat rhythms that children would enjoy.  As a result, we both know almost every word to every song, and certainly every word of all the really popular ones.

We both had a great time at the movie.  At the start of each major musical number, we were leaning in and singing to one another.  There was even some dancing in our seats.  And a whole lot of laughing.  Especially when Pierce Brosnan started singing.  The movie was very well cast in most other ways, but I really don’t think that his singing voice is good enough for a large role in a musical.  I believe Sis’s words were “why is he singing so funny like that?” before we realized it was just the way he sings.

I’ve seen the stage musical version in the past, and almost my only disappointment with the movie was a few of the numbers from the musical that were left out.  However the more I think about it, the more I can completely understand why they were left out.  Most of the songs removed from the movie were duets, and I supposed a stage musical can spend alot of time with two people standing around singing, however in a movie that would start to get old pretty quick.  So for the most part I can forgive their removal.

The most important thing I can say about this movie is that although I only saw it yesterday, I already want to see it again.  I’m definitely getting this one on DVD.

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Mmmmmm Tacos

November 14, 2008 at 3:21 pm (The joy of cooking) (, , , )

Hubby and I made tacos, or at least something that is a reasonable semblance thereof, the other night and they were so yummy.  Usually for things like tacos and fajitas we buy the old el paso seasoning mix, add chicken or beef and veggies and we’re good to go.  However this was a last minute decision to make tacos, as the original plan of pork chops and broccoli didn’t appeal to either of us, so no old el paso packets were on hand.

We had tortillas in the freezer, as well as ground beef, so soft tacos were the easiest option.  The last time we bought a package of tortillas, I had the brilliant idea to take the whole package apart, and put a sheet of waxed paper between each one.  This way we could freeze them, and just take out as many as we needed.  I had hoped it would work obviously, but never expected the technique to be nearly as successful as it actually was.  The wraps came out no problem.  All except the one mysterious cut wrap that is.  The frozen solid wrap was cut or broken in a perfectly straight line.  I can’t figure out how it happened, other than I know that it was broken when  I put them in the freezer.

We started with ground beef and onion in the frying pan, liberally salted and peppered.  Once that was all browned up and yummy, i started inventing taco sauce by throwning flavours into the pan.  I used a base of about three tablespoons of salsa.  To this I added garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and a bit of cumin.  Once that was mixed in, I hit it with the Worcestershire sauce (makes everything taste better) and the Frank’s red hot sauce.

The result was a bit different from old el paso, and I’m not sure how much like most tacos it really was, as we don’t do them that often, but it’s definitely on the keeper list.

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November 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm (Books) (, , , , , , )

I just finished reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I really enjoyed this book, although I have to say that for a classic horror novel, I didn’t find it scary at all.  It was certainly a bit suspenseful, and very interesting, but it did not frighten me.  And just for the record, I am the single most easily frightened person that I know.  So if I didn’t find it scary I doubt that anybody else will.

I have a few words of warning for anyone buying what are now considered “classic” novels.  If the book is now in the public domain, be careful that what you are buying is actually that book. Also, skip the introduction, read it last.

I purchased Frankenstein online, the first time that I bought it.  Yes, I had to buy the book twice.  That’s because I assumed, when I placed my order, that any book labelled with the title of Frankenstein and the author Mary Shelley, was the book I was looking for.  I bought the cheapest one, because, well, why pay more for the same thing.

The problem came when our order arrived, and I pulled from the box the Dover Childrens Classics, large print, illustrated, very very abridged (30 pages long) copy of Frankenstein.  I went back to the online order to see just how stupid I had been.  It really was an easy mistake to make.  You have to read into the back cover description a couple of sentences to find the words children, illustrated or abridged.

So I returned this book, and bought another one, in person this time.  Knowing that I finally had the right thing, I sat down to enjoy my book.  As well as the original text of the novel, this book included two introductions and an afterword.  Now, I highly recommend the introduction to the book written by Mary Shelley herself.  Most copies of this book I’ve seen contain this introduction, and it is a good lead in to the story.

The other introduction however, was written by someone who seemed to assume that anyone reading this book was already completely familiar with the story.  While I was loosely familiar with the book:  I knew it was about a man creating a monster, I knew that Frankenstein referred to the name of the man rather than the monster, etc.  I did not however know that certain characters would be dying, until I was halfway through the introduction.  I knew that the monster in the book was intelligent (unlike most Frankenstein novels) but I did not know many characteristics that were mentioned in the introduction.

So my second word of warning is simple: don’t read the introduction until you’ve read the book, because the person who wrote it may assume you already know everything.

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