Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Letter E

I did find the letter E on my vacation ... it's posted. I should really get the other letters up that I have found, but haven't photographed.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about ... see this and this.)

The Next Life

What do you want to be next time around?

I don't care if you believe in re-incarnation or not ... I'm sure you've thought about it. And no sappy answers like, 'I would be me again.'

Me? I want to be a storm chaser. I secretly love hearing that the conditions are right for tornadoes. I've always wanted to see one, but ... surprisingly ... I never have. All those years in Oklahoma and Texas and not a single tornado sighting. Having worked in grocery stores for a huge chunk of my working days, I was always ushering customers into the dairy coolers or freezers whenever the tornadoes were close. Yes, that's where you go. I've done it three times. I've always been in the general area, but at work ... therefore, unable to "enjoy" a tornado.

Please, spare me the stories of your grandmother losing her house ... you've got to admit ... a tornado is a pretty awesome power ... to be completely amazed by ... not to be taken lightly.

I know, I know ... where's the Christmas summary ... I'm getting there.

So, we stayed in Oklahoma with some friends, had breakfast with Gigi and Aunt Pam, drove to Texas, finished Christmas shopping, spent the morning with my brothers, Steven and Erik, Lex, and my mom, enjoyed all of Kevin's relatives at the annual Christmas Eve party, wore matching pajamas, opened presents with his parents, ate prime rib, packed up the car, and drove back home.

It was all pretty Christmasy.

To tell the truth, I can't wait to be here next year. Not that I don't miss being back in Texas with all of our family, but it just doesn't seem like Christmas unless you're home. And, as much as I hate to say it sometimes, Illinois is home. I can't wait to see Lubbock's face when he runs out of his room to see what Santa brought him. I can't wait to start our own traditions, too.

Back to this year ... On the drive home, we thought we might be able to drive it all in one shot, but Lubbock had other plans. He slept most of the afternoon leg (since we left after lunch) and woke up around 9p in a bad mood. We decided to stop in Springfield, Missouri, since we kept hearing radio reports of severe weather past St. Louis. Our thought was, if we're going to deal with bad weather, we should do it during the day. It was another 3 hours until St. Louis, but it would be midnight, we'd be exhausted and have less of an opportunity to sleep than if we stopped then. Or so we thought. We failed to take into consideration the fact that Lubbock had slept all day. He was ready to party by the time we got settled in. He was up until midnight anyway! Then he woke up around 5a. We didn't get much sleep, but some was better than none.

We packed up the car and got on the road. It was very windy and this was the only part of the trip that Kevin had me drive since I just followed all signs to St. Louis. I was only too happy to let Kevin take over driving just before St. Louis ... but just after a diaper change.

Lubbock was cranky and I thought ... we haven't changed his diaper in about three hours, so we should stop. I got his diaper off and almost immediately, he opened the floodgates. There was a lady that was in there and she opened the stall door, having a direct visual of what my son was doing. Fortunately for her, she was on the safe side of all this. Unfortunately, she had to walk through the puddle to get out. I tried to clean it up with paper towels, but they were such crappy quality, I was just making things worse. So, I cleaned Lubbock up as well as I could and told the lady at the register what happened. I offered to clean it up if she would tell me where the mop was, but she said they'd get it. (I always offer to clean things up, but have only been taken up on it once ... I feel better offering, though.)

We thought we'd keep going and stop in Springfield, Illinois, for lunch. We were listening to sports talk on the radio when some weather information started coming in. Talks of tornadoes being spotted and severe thunderstorms. We are complete idiots when it comes to Illinois geography, county names, and anything else like that, but I do carry a map with me. So, I found where we were and found where the tornado was spotted.

"Uh, Kevin. I think we should go ahead and stop here. The tornado is about two miles north of us. Right in our path." So, we stopped at Dairy Queen. We let Lubbock play in the indoor playground ... all the while, I'm looking out the window at the clouds roll by, not looking at all like tornado-producing skies. The watch (or warning ... I can never remember which is which) expired at 12:15p, but we waited until 12:30p just to be safe. We got back on the road, but as soon as we did, the weather started getting miserable. Heavy rain that you couldn't see through and high winds. Again, more warnings ... this time for the mile markers we were driving in, but they weren't for tornadoes this time. It was only a four mile area of bad storms, so Kevin kept driving and we made it through. Safe, but still never having witnessed a tornado.

I've looked at tornado chasing tours, but they're like $5000 for a couple for a week and (of course) there's no guarantee you'll actually see one. I think I'll just see what happens in my next 18 years of life and if I haven't seen one, I'll request that for my 50th birthday. Really? I've already got my present for my 50th birthday picked out? Sigh!

So, Christmas was Christmas. Lubbock got a ton of cute clothes, some Christmas books, a magnetic toy for his surf board in his room, a musical instrument set, a stick horse, a stuffed monkey, a backpack, a basketball hoop, and a motorized 4x4. I think next year, we're setting better limits. I recognize a grandparents' need to spoil their grandchildren ... but ... we live in a 1000 square foot house. Where do they think all this stuff fits? (Love you guys!)

And ... Lubbock's favorite thing from all of this was the old keyboard Kevin's dad gave him. So, when Lubbock goes to type on it, I always tell him that he's blogging. I'm trying to break him in early!

The Vacation in Pictures

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Unimpressive Santa Picture

Last year, Lubbock was about seven months old when we visited Santa. I was very worried about what his reaction would be. He spent a while looking at Santa and it was very hard to get him to look at the camera. The photo we wound up with looked much like a mug shot ... for both of them. I don't think Santa was ready and Lubbock was just confused about the whole situation.

This year, I thought we may have a meltdown. We arrived at the mall with the plan that he had just had his nap, we'd have lunch, then get in line while he played for a while. Hoping he'd have the perfect balance of food and energy-excertion. Well, this is what we got this year. Much the same. Santa looks more like he was expecting the picture, though.

I'm sorry if you're expecting more of a post, but we've been super busy here. The drive was exhausting ... we left home at 7:30p-ish and arrived in Oklahoma City at 9a on Saturday. We hung out with Kara & Bryan and their three kids on Saturday, woke up Sunday morning, had breakfast with Gigi (my grandmother, Lubbock's great-grandmother ... g g ... Gigi ... her real name is Joyce) and my Aunt Pam ... drove to Texas. Lubbock still wasn't feeling well. His ears were obviously still bothering him since he has been rubbing them even more. Sunday night we put Lubbock to bed thinking we'd get a nice night's sleep. Lubbock woke up "losing his lunch" ... so to speak. So, we were up the rest of the night. Sigh! He's feeling better now. We've finally started our Christmas shopping ... still not done. But, tomorrow being Christmas Eve, I think tomorrow will be an even more crazy day.

I promise a really long, picture-full blog when we arrive back in cold, cold, cold, cold, cold Batavia.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The 2009 Budget

Anyone that I talk money to (which I realize is a dangerous subject) knows that I drank from the Dave Ramsey punch and am loving it. Our goal is to be out of debt (except the house) in the next two years. No car payment, no credit cards, no student loan ... just a mortgage.

I'm not brave enough to lay out our entire financial system ... unlike this sweet girl I found, but I will give you the general idea of what we do.

We developed a spreadsheet and entered all our monthly 'fixed' expenses ...

  • mortgage
  • property taxes
  • home insurance
  • auto insurance
  • life insurance
  • phone
  • cable
  • gas
  • electric
  • sewage
  • trash
  • cell phone
  • bottled water (I consider this essential since we're on well water ... yuck!)
Then I list our debts ...

  • Kevin's car (we bought mine with cash)
  • my student loans
  • credit cards
Now comes the part I'd like to discuss with all my friends out there ... the discretionary spending. Three categories:

  • food (which includes food, toiletries, diapers, wipes, household items, and eating out)
  • Kevin's allowance (which he uses for eating out at lunch time, haircuts, and gas to get to and from work, and clothes)
  • my allowance (which I use for eating out at lunch time, haircuts for Lubbock and I, gas, toys, clothes for me)
Any amount of money left over at the end of the month goes toward our debt. This means, no extra money each month ... Dave calls this a zero-balance budget.

We've tried so many different amounts in the discretionary areas and really haven't come up with a good number. I tried making more categories ... separating out the food from toiletries from diapers & wipes, from household items ... you get the idea ... but it just got too confusing and I spent more time shifting money from category to category because sometimes we didn't need toiletries and sometimes we did. I digress ...

The question I pose to you, my dear readers, is ... do you budget? How much do you allocate to the discretionary areas? What do you find most difficult to budget? What tricks have you learned along the way?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Calendar and Cookie Swap Documentation

Just photos today ... Lubbock's got a cold and a slight ear infection ... and I've got to get packed for our drive south (again, am I crazy to drive cross country with a 19 month old?) ...

The calendar is awesome (I love the Museum of Modern Art's web based gift shop) ... each day you get to punch out the number and reveal a bold circle of color. And, as I told my calendar swapmate ... who doesn't what to punch something out once a day!?!

The plate is Santa's cookie plate. Of course, it's Fiesta ... I can't live without it in my life. Almost all my Fiesta pieces are purchases made at the Dish Barn in Canton, Texas. Great prices on slightly imperfect dishes. It's a gold mine if you don't mind digging!

I "need" the recipe for this one ... it's got a secret inside ... yummy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Trash Can Breakfast

I did mention that Kevin took Lubbock out without socks, right? Well, I'm not blaming him ... but, Lubbock seems to have come down with a horrible cough, crackly breathing, snot rockets upon sneezing, and he's a little warm. Poor little guy.

I refuse to take him to the playgroup this week since I don't believe in sharing misery (unless it's chicken pox ... which I am desperate to expose him to ... anyone? Anyone?). I thought this meant that I'd be stuck with all 120 oatmeal raisin cookies, but Brandy offered (or at least said 'yes' when I asked her) to come get my cookies and bring the others back to my side of town. What a sweetheart!

Back to this morning ... I've run out of fresh fruit and waffles and haven't made it to the grocery store in a few days, so for breakfast I had to be a little creative. Cheerios and raisins is what I offered. Not accepted. I let him down while I searched for something else he might enjoy. As I turn around, I see my son digging in the trashcan and eating freeze dried bananas (something I gave him at dinner and he threw on the floor). At first, I was thinking, no wonder he's ill ... eating food out of the trashcan. But then I thought ... he's already sick and the vitamins in the bananas may do him some good.

Am I crazy? Does anyone else let their kid eat breakfast out of the trashcan?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Christmas Decision

There has been a ton of talk this year about not letting Christmas manage you. Or maybe I'm just actually paying attention to it this year. I acknowledge that I do allow the true meaning of Christmas to be over-shadowed by my need to be the perfect gift-giver and treat-maker.

So, as I sat with Kevin last night eating my birthday dinner (portobello ravioli from California Pizza Kitchen), I really started thinking about how I used to not be so stressed out during this time of year. I thought back to how I'd go Christmas shopping with the masses on Black Friday and really didn't worry about much of anything.

How was that?

I was a full time college student, working full time, participating in every activity known to man, living on next to nothing ... and I wasn't stressed out?

Then it came to me ... I took care of my own needs during that time of year. If it was a pretty necklace that I just 'needed' or locking myself in my room for an evening of nothingness ... I did it.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that this year, I would give myself a present, too.

Drum roll, please.

I am not making 5 chocolate covered pretzels for 75 of Kevin's coworkers (meaning 375 total pretzels).

Instead, I will spend more time with Lubbock and Kevin.

Merry Christmas to me.

(And don't worry, Jen. I'm still making cookies for the cookie exchange ... I haven't gone off the deep end that badly!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Silly Monkey Birthday

I knew Kevin and Lubbock were up to something yesterday. They got dressed in some very warm clothing (except Kevin wore flip flops and he didn't put socks on Lubbock ... just shoes) and left to "run errands." I just sighed and possibly even rolled my eyes.

Having complete control of the household, I knew there were very few errands that Kevin could know about and even fewer that he would offer to run! But I also knew that for the next few hours, there would be random women entering our house, dropping off their donations ... I can see how he'd rather leave then listen to the endless chatter of wives nearing Christmas.

They came home just in time to send off the stragglers and he said he couldn't find what he knows I want. How is it that he can know what I want, but I don't? He's so wise.

He made hamburgers for us (mine was blue cheese and grilled onions ... yum) and we settled in to watch the Dallas Cowboys game. He and Lubbock disappeared again toward the back of the house. "What are you two up to?" "None of your business."

So, I decided to see if I couldn't get an early night's sleep and snuggled into the couch at about 8p! I think I was asleep around 8:01p. I heard some clanking dishes occasionally and then my husband re-appeared with Lubbock. He put Lubbock to bed and sat down in his chair. No mention of the time spent on the other side of the house. Hmmm. Suspicious. I decided not to concern myself with it too much and went back to sleep.

A little later, Kevin woke me up and asked if I wanted to go to bed. As I walked by the kitchen, I saw all the dishes were done and the counter tops wiped down ... I thought to myself that that alone was a great birthday present.

He said "I'm not leaving you with the button hook tomorrow." I don't know where we got that term from ... button hook. But, it's basically when someone does something that makes your life harder. For instance, Kevin gives me the button hook when uses all the hot water and doesn't tell me. So, a morning without dishes ... the opposite of the button hook. Anyway ...

I woke up in the morning and as I approached the coffee pot (usually my first stop of the morning), I saw a card. It's from Kevin. A very wordy, appropriate card for the two of us. I love him.

I turned around and poking out of Lubbock's drawer was another card. "Monkeys are silly." That put such a smile on my face. I imagine that it's exactly what Lubbock would say when he learns about how silly monkeys are.

So, that was my birthday morning. What a great way to start it. What a great present.

Brandy sent me a text yesterday inviting Lubbock and I to a birthday lunch. So, we accepted. We hung out at Target and then parted ways so that the boys could take their naps. They're too cute together. If the carts got too far away, they immediately let us know this so we could correct the problem. Those monkeys are silly.

Now, here I am ... writing my blog. I've had 15 people say Happy Birthday via Facebook (and one attempted sent card ... it just won't pull up). I've received a birthday card from our financial advisor, my husband, and Lubbock. One email. And four phone calls. Not bad. I love this one day of the holiday season where I can selfishly do what I want to do ... and calories don't count.

The Best Christmas Ever

Yesterday, I hosted the Open House Drop Off for everyone who participated with me in sponsoring a family through TriCity Family Services. What a complete success!

I really appreciate all my friends who bought gifts for this local family. It warms my heart to know that as I sit around the tree with my family on Christmas morning, opening presents, that there will be another family able to do the same thing.

At the open house, I supplied everything you would need to wrap the presents ... wrapping paper, scissors, tape, bows, ribbon, cheese, crackers, and wine. I bought the cinnamon almonds from Trader Joe's and they were yummy. High on my holiday list. And if you haven't tried the cracked pepper and olive oil Triscuits yet ... you don't know what you're missing. Enough about food!

Let's talk about the wine. I've found my new favorite ... Well Read. It's an organic red wine that's made without sulfates. If drinking wine gives you a headache, it could be that you're allergic to sulfates. This is the only brand I've found so far made without sulfates, and I found that I have less sinus pressure with this wine. And it's a bonus that it's organic. For all my non-drinking friends out there ... you should try 7-up's new pomegranate flavor ... it is really refreshing. And I think it would be good mixed with orange juice.

One more product ... the heavenly soy candles I bought from The Blackberry Briar were burning and everyone that walked in said they could smell them from outside. They loved them. So, I know you won't be disappointed in them either.

Back to the open house ... Heather was the only guest for a while, so I sent her back home to get her own families presents that she hadn't yet wrapped! I haven't wrapped any of the presents I have yet, either. Not that this is a big deal since I think I've only purchased three gifts so far this year. I've been so lazy this year. In fact, I have a wedding gift that I purchased over the summer and haven't wrapped and haven't given yet. The wedding was in Texas, so we weren't able to go, but I just haven't gotten around to giving the gift yet. What are the time constraints on wedding gift giving?

Not to keep harping on things I haven't done ... but, I haven't started on the pretzels yet. I did, however, do a test batch to see if my peanut butter chocolate ones were going to work ... I think they are going to work. They'll be a little tedious, but ... isn't that what Christmas is all about?


Well, let's face it ... there's only 10 days left. But, around here ... this is the one day of the season that I decide not to focus on Christmas. Instead, I focus on me. It's my birthday! Yah! It's been great so far. I'll do a separate posting later to tell you all about my day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Summary of the Cookie Exchange

First, let me say that I feel an extraordinary amount of pressure to post only great pictures from now on. That said, these aren't great ... but you can't always control the lighting in every situation! Moving on ...

Lubbock and I attended our first cookie exchange. We brought my favorite ... oatmeal raisin (and since I didn't have enough raisins, I used cranberries as well ... mmm).

Linda, of Tri City Tots, hosted the cookie exchange. She had the house set up perfectly. The cookies were laid on her kitchen island. She had hot cocoa with spoons dipped in chocolate for stirring! (I'm stealing this idea one day.)

She had a craft project set up in the dining room for the older kids. They made miniature gingerbread houses (graham cracker houses if you want to be technical). This kept some of the children busy for well over an hour!

She already had the milk cartons taped down, the pieces of graham cracker cut to size, and all the candies laid out for decorating, including coconut flakes for snow! Another idea I'll steal at some point.

The little kids played upstairs for a while, but once Lubbock discovered there were older kids, he wanted to be where they were. I really don't think he considers himself a baby anymore. He'll stand by the older kids as they talk to each other and say 'ya' and if they laugh, he laughs. He cracks me up sometimes. Linda has a small ball pit that Lubbock played in for a majority of the time. He would hand me a ball and I threw it back in from the other side of the pit. He thought this was hilarious. At least someone thinks I have a good sense of humor.

As for the cookies, we got a great variety. Lots of sugar cookies, a few green corn flake wreaths, some yummy peanut butter kisses, some chocolate and peanut butter bars (those were my favorite), and on and on. There were 14 people in attendance, so it made for a nice mixture of cookies. We came with 2 dozen of one kind and left with a mixture of 2 dozen. It's a nice amount to tide me over for the next cookie exchange. The big one!

Our playgroup is doing a 10 dozen one so that we won't have to bake so many different ones for the holiday parties. Just a lot of one kind. I'll take our spoils down to Texas to share.

I do need to get crackin' on the gifts for Kevin's office, though. I set such a high standard the first year I did anything. I was pregnant, so I had all the time in the world and made an assorted box for all 50 people in the office. It wound up being about 2 dozen per person. The next year, I had some help, but there were about 60 people. I still did boxes, but took a slightly easier approach. I did mostly cookies, but also did dipped pretzels and a small bag of Chex Mix to fill most of the space. Each person got about 12 cookies last year. Kevin said most people liked the pretzels best of all, though. (This slightly bothered me since that was the least difficult thing in the whole box. Oh, well!)

It's saving me from putting forth too much effort this year. They now have over 70 people. I'm just going to make pretzels for them, I think. I'm trying to decide what kinds, though. I'm thinking ... regular chocolate dipped, peppermint white chocolate dipped, nuts and dark chocolate dipped, and I don't know if it will work, but a peanut butter chocolate dipped one. I'll probably work on these this weekend, so I'll take pictures and let you know how they turn out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The First Cookie Exchange

When I was in college, for the last two years, I lived with my friend, Kara. Her mom makes the best oatmeal raisin cookies. The secret is the spice cake mix! (But you didn't hear that from me.) I've made several variations of this recipe. Last year, I used Craisins, dark chocolate, and walnuts. This year I used one cup raisins and one cup cranberries! No chocolate or nuts in this batch.

I have two cookie exchanges this year. We only need two dozen for the one today, but I need 10 dozen for the one next week ... not to mention I still need to come up with a finalized plan for the gifts for Kevin's office (I think chocolate dipped pretzels since they're quick and easy).

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Preheat oven to 350

1 package spice cake mix
2 c. rolled oats
2 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. milk
2 c. raisins
1 c. nuts
1/4 c. dark brown sugar

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper, though). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet about 1 minute, then remove to a rack to finish cooling. They will seem uncooked at first, but once they cool ... they're fine. And delicious!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The New Years Card

Have I mentioned that I'm not doing Christmas cards this year? Ya, how unlike me ... but, I am sending out New Years cards. I just couldn't get my act together in time to devote enough time to the Christmas card thing. I didn't get the photo shoot set up for family photos and didn't get around to even getting a good photo of Lubbock until Saturday.

I'm not using these photos, but thought they were great in all their own ways. The first one because it cracks me up that he still comes at me when I'm taking his picture. You can see the beginnings of dimples and I love the way his eyes turn up when he smiles.

This one is great because it's just the typical Lubbock look. He's oh, so serious. Most of the time.

And I really like this one because of the lighting and his little red nose and cheeks. I really am lucky, aren't I?

The Tree Is Up

Aunt Lo came by and placed ornaments on the tree as I tied elastic ribbon to each ball. They are non-breakable, but I did not want to use metal hooks, so I opted for the extremely tedious task of affixing the ribbon to each. Knowing how OCD I am, Lauren agreed to help with the condition I didn't critique her work. Not only did I not say anything, I didn't move anything! (Big step, I know!) Mostly, by the time it was all said and done, I was too tired ... but ... she did a great job, too!

We've gone with a deep red, brown, bronze, and gold theme. I found some fabric that I will have made into a tree skirt and stockings. I just need to find some brown faux fur for the top!

I plan on using the leftover fabric to make some small bird ornaments. I think that if I spray it with fabric stiffener ... I should be able to make it work ... but basically it will look like this. (It's the 7th picture down.) But the fabric will look help bring the colors on the tree and the orange in the living room together. Orange is a Christmas color, right? Well, in my house it is.

Other decorations around the house include: an undecorated wreath on the front door, a small pre-lit tree in the master bedroom, and a metal Santa statue in the living room. It's too dark and gloomy outside for me to get great pictures of anything, so those will have to wait for another day.

Speaking of gloomy ... It appears that I have been selected for jury duty in January. I got the letter today. I don't think they'll choose me since I have so much experience as an injury adjuster ... that pretty much precludes you because they assume you start off agreeing with the prosecutor. Whatever ... It's $10/day! Even less than working the polls!

And speaking of polls ... with the Governor's charges today, there is talk of a special election in relation to filling Obama's seat. I may be able to work another 15 hour day for $145! Woo hoo! The economy's lookin' better and better!

And speaking of ... well, there's not a great transition for this one ... my big time sorority White Elephant party was canceled for tonight. It's getting icy out there and they don't want to drive on it. I can't blame them, but ... man, I cleaned the house for nothing! Okay, I never got around to mopping the floors ... but, maybe I'll do that when Lubbock goes to bed since Kevin will be at a work thingy. The one nice thing about work thingys is that I get to eat at Taco Bell. Mmmm.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Bottle Cap Business

Gretchen was kind enough to host a Holiday Market for all of her entrepreneurial friends to show off their goods this afternoon.

The youngest of the business-minded gals included her daughter, Meredith, and Meredith's friend, Mollie. They are super crafty ... they make fleece pillows, decorated purses and bags, picture frames and fashion necklaces out of bottle caps! The back of the bottle cap has a magnet affixed to it and you can interchange the bottle caps to match whatever your mood is for that day. What a clever idea ... and cute, too!

I bought a few because the designs matched my kitchen and I can use the bottle caps as magnets. Who couldn't use more kitchen magnets?

If you're looking to purchase these little pieces of handmade perfection ... visit It's a Girl Thing in downtown Geneva. If I had a girl, I'm sure it would be a place we would spend many an afternoon.

I thought the picture with the tree in the middle was quite representative of the two of them. They were moving around so much all afternoon that I couldn't get a picture of them standing still. They're such smart business women already. If they didn't have a specific product, they had an order sheet for special requests ... promising to get back to them as soon as possible. And of course, the best business decision was the offer to hold Lubbock while I looked at all the goodies. Such a promising future, those two!

There was a Stampin' Up rep and Tastefully Simple rep, too. They had beautiful and delicious holiday ideas. At this point, however, Lubbock was infinitely more interested in trying to destroy said displays than allowing me to look at them for any amount of time.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Michelle of The Blackberry Briar. She makes hand poured soy candles (and is a doll maker and artist as well). Even before speaking to her, I was a fan of soy candles for several reasons. They don't produce a sooty smoke and they burn more slowly than your traditional candle will. So, I couldn't resist buying a small candle for the bathroom (in the Apple Tango scent) and a large candle (Bittersweet Berry) for the living room ... I can't wait to burn these. Instead, right now, I'm sitting here just smelling it. And smelling it. And smelling it. The berry candle just smells of winter warm pie (it's a good thing, I promise!).

So, after all that excitement ... Lubbock and I went home to work on putting our tree together with the help of Aunt Lo. I still think the tree is crooked and is lacking a little something on the top, so I'm not fully prepared to post pictures (lest you think there's something in my house that's less than perfect). Such high standards.