Monday, December 31, 2012

Ho! Ho! Huh?

Every year, Santa's elves work their little fingers to the bone to crank out hula hoops and baseball bats for all the good girls and boys. And sometimes they stay up way too late, drink too many cups of warm syrup, and come up with some less than magical ideas. Here are a few of my favorite holiday mishaps. 

Some things I see in the store and just think "somebody's definitely getting fired for this one." It's not that the melted crayon art thing is a bad idea per say, just that Crayola is about 6-9 months behind the trend here. It's been all over the internet, especially Pinterest, and everyone who has ever wanted to try making art with melted globs of wax has already done it. And what happens when this stuff doesn't sell? Because who really wants to draw with a bunch of "extra-meltable" crayons? 

This Dale Earnhardt Jr. magnetic racer must not've been a big hit, because there were two of them at Kmart and the box said it was from 2003. That's right, this car has been sadly hanging on a peg for nine years and no one has bought it yet. The box was yellowed and edge worn, the plastic was pulling away from the paper, and the whole thing was held together with lots of Scotch tape. It's kinda sad, really, and if you've ever seen Toy Story, you'll know why. 

This I just don't understand. Suddenly Tim McGraw = Outback Steakhouse? Have they done research that proves listening to a Tim McGraw song gives someone a hankering for a bloomin' onion? Or do they just think people in Tennessee will buy anything with a country star's face on it? 

This is something else I don't understand. Why does Walmart think anybody would want to hang this on their Christmas tree? What do I look like, some sort of chump who would shell out $3 to advertise your store in my house? I don't think so. Plus, it's not as if shopping at Walmart is some sort of prestigious status symbol. Everyone shops at Walmart. Most people hate it. It's just cheap and they have everything. I'm pretty sure even people who work at Walmart don't have enough loyalty to the store or the brand to want one of these hanging in their  home.

This next one is included not because it is WTF-worthy, but because of how adorable it is. And that's exactly the problem. If you look close enough, you'll see that this sequined dog sweater is labeled as an "Ugly Sweater." This has me questioning my whole taste and sense of style, because if Sheldon was a girl, he'd wear this sweater. Heck, if it came in my size, I'd want one. So am I just crazy, is this an ugly sweater? Or do those Boots & Barkley people just not know what they're talking about? 

These shoes have me questioning my taste too. If you're thinking they're hideous and you wouldn't even buy them as part of your tranny-hooker-with-flamboyant-taste-and-ridiculous-balance Halloween costume, we're on the same page.The problem is that they're almost sold out. That's right, there was only about two pairs left in each style, which is really troubling. I was lucky enough that they just so happened to have one pair in a size 8 left, so of course I had to try them on. 

And in case you didn't notice, that sign has a nice "try on at your own risk" statement, releasing the shoe store from any liability in case you twist your ankle putting these suckers on. 

This was honestly the closest I've ever been to breaking a bone. I needed help just getting up out of my chair, and I almost broke my ankle on the first step I took. How anyone walks in these is beyond me. Did I mention I'm afraid of heights? Would not recommend. 

The obsession with camo just blows my mind. Why do people find it necessary to have everything they own look like a pile of dead leaves and twigs? It's not as if you could actually take this hunting with you, surely the sound of the razor would scare all the deer away. And god forbid you drop it out there somewhere, you'd never find it! 

I love me some zombies as much as the next guy, but this is just taking it a little too far. Zombies + politics? Too much. Forget the fact that these are the most terrifying looking cartoon zombies ever, but guys, the election is over. And I don't care who you are, shooting an anthropomorphized political figure is just in bad taste. 

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Next, I have two questionable gifts that I actually bought for someone. 

This first one was part of Shane's Christmas gift. I found it on Groupon and was so excited because Shane loves remote controlled things and especially things he can annoy our dogs with. The helicopter seemed perfect, it was a good price (half off!) and even has a camera that takes pictures and video. One thing I didn't take into account...size.

Imagine the surprise / disappointment that I felt when I opened up that big box and this was all that was inside! I felt like the kid searching for the giant toy in the cereal box only to get something crappy like a stick-on tattoo. I just thought it'd be a little more, I don't know, impressive or something. Even though it was half off, it was still kinda expensive. I later found the same exact helicopters at a kiosk in the mall but didn't ask how much they were, I can imagine they were a much better deal. Luckily, Shane loves it regardless, and has had a wonderful time chasing Charlie and Sheldon around the apartment with it. All's well that ends well, right? 

This next gift should show you just how much I love my little sister, because I bought it at a Walmart without self-checkout lanes. I'm not sure why the Duck Tape people thought it necessary to make Justin Bieber tape, or what my sister will do with it, but I have a feeling I'll be making another run to stock up before the store runs out. 

I even had a nice conversation with the cashier about how we didn't think his music was bad, but that it mutually creeped us out that middle-age women are in love with him. 

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People go at advertising with the best intentions, but sometimes it just misses the mark a bit. 

This sign was spotted at the flea market at the Sevierville exit on 1-40 (bet the airbrush didn't give that away). You could say that the art is good, and even that it is amusing, until you notice the little boy. See the way he's so excited that his mom is zapping the ever-loving crap out of that suspicious curly mustache man? He's way too into it. Not to mention that the poor little mustache man peed his pants at the end. Gross. 

This booth also had a sign that said "We Have Pepper Spray -- WORKS ON DRUG ADDICTS." Seems oddly specific. 

And finally, my dad sent me this next one, which he found while going to lunch with my granddad at Ryan's Buffet. Just a little too "adult" for a family restaurant, don't you think? That window painter could've added any number of holly berries to the end of the candy cane, but no, they had to go for two. You can't say that's accidental. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I loooooooovvveeeee Christmas. Mostly because of the presents, and because it's only twelve days before my birthday. Which means more presents ;) But my absolute favorite part is decorating!
Christmas 2012
Hard to take a picture of it in the dark, but I am in love with this wreath, which I made myself :) It's sparkly and colorful, which is the definition of awesome. 

Four years ago before Shane and I got married, I started making stockings for the both of us. And this year, I actually finished them! Plus two more for the doggies. 
Christmas 2012
Charlie and Sheldon's stockings are my favorite, the little puppies in the Santa hats are just too cute. 

The nativity has a few extra visitors this year, with Santa, Marie Antoinette, and a penguin. We also have two baby Jesuses. It's a long story.
Christmas 2012

You can never have too many Christmas lights. Or too much garland. I'm thinking about making a Walmart run for some more as I type this...
Christmas 2012

Even the water dispenser got a little Christmas spirit.
Christmas 2012

Santa and his reindeer came a little early this year but they decided they liked it and wanted to stay for a while. The elves can handle it, right? 
Christmas 2012

The tree! Our old tree was a bit gigantic, so we picked up this perfect apartment-sized one for only $20. Christmas bargains are the best.
Christmas 2012
I get really carried away when I'm decorating the tree. We have a ton of ornaments, and I like to see how many I can squeeze on the tree without it collapsing under the weight of them all. 

Of course my four giant boxes of ornaments can't all possibly fit on the tree, try as I might, so I had to get creative. Also, check out my awesome Martha Stewart poinsettia wreath! It actually was a Martha Stewart kit, and it took forever to make. 
Christmas 2012

Can't let the tiny ornaments feel left out! 
Christmas 2012

Can you believe we finished our Christmas shopping like two weeks ago, and the gifts are  already wrapped? The best part was it wasn't even planned. We went to the store to start browsing for gift ideas and somehow Santa worked his magic and we ended up with gifts for everyone. I hope every year is this easy! 
Christmas 2012
As prepared as we are, it turns out there is a problem with being done with Christmas shopping and decorating this early. You just get on this shopping high and want to buy more and more presents for everyone, and of course you can never have too many decorations. Our Christmas shopping budget is already way over, and I'm sure by the time the 24th rolls around, every surface in this apartment will twinkle or glitter. 

Of course, Shane and I aren't the only ones ready for Christmas! Charlie and Sheldon went for a special day at the doggie spa and got their holiday haircuts. They even spritzed them with some Christmas cookie perfume. Yum!
Christmas 2012

Now all that's left is to sit out our plate of cookies, scoot our couch away from the fireplace to give Santa some leeway, and wait!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy (early) Turkey Day!

Shane, Charlie, Sheldon and I are currently in the car barreling down the interstate towards Knoxville to spend Thanksgiving with our families! Don't worry, I'm not the one driving ;)

Anyways, I have a lot of things to be thankful for, and I wanted to share a few of them with you:

1. I am thankful we live closer to family now. We sure do miss Maryland and all our friends there, but it's sure a lot easier to drive three hours instead of ten to go home for the holidays.

2. I am thankful that Shane and I are making an effort to be healthier and are participating in the Hot to Trot 5k tomorrow at Turkey Creek. Hopefully we can preemptively burn off some calories. I do wish though that it wasn't so dang early, we have to be there at 6 am (5 am central!) for packet pick up.

3. I am thankful that I was able to buy a cooler on short notice tonight. I thought I was being smart by making all my pies early and then bringing them home, but didn't think of the logistics of them being in the car for several hours. But don't worry, I searched high and low and finally found a suitable model big enough to fit all six pies. Hope my family is ready for a slice of apple, pumpkin or chocolate cream pie!

4. I am thankful that we had no family scheduling conflicts this year. Usually it's difficult to coordinate holidays, but this year we're doing lunch with the Elliotts and dinner with the Horners.

5. I am thankful to not be working retail this year so I actually get to spend the holiday with family. I have done two holiday seasons of retail and that's two more than I would wish on anybody. When you aren't working long shifts and dealing with extremely difficult and ungrateful customers, you're at home, exhausted and hoping you gain your strength back before you have to go back in. Not at all fun.

6. I am thankful that today was my last day at my temp job. It may sound strange to think that someone would be glad to be unemployed, but if you'd seem me working at this job, you'd understand. The whole job was staring at a computer for eight hours a day, clicking back and forth between a zillion different screens and making sure databases matched. And most days, I didn't have very many projects assigned to me, so I would only have  around 1 or 2 hours of work a day. Oh, and we weren't allowed to be on the internet or our phones during downtime, because that was unprofessional. Sitting around getting paid to do basically nothing might sound like a perfect job to some people, but it just  wasn't for me. That's where Mr. Gobbles came from! He was my distraction all day on Tuesday.  

7. Last but not least, I am so thankful that Shane and I already have most of our Christmas shopping done and aren't going out on Black Friday! We somehow managed to knock out most of our list last Saturday, and I must say that I am so relieved. I hate working holiday shopping season, and I hate shopping in it too. Just the trip to Walmart for the cooler almost triggered a nervous breakdown!

Now that you've seen my list...what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving! Feel free to leave a list of your own down in the comments :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zoo! And an anniversary :)

Yesterday Shane and I celebrated ten years together! We decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and spend the day at the Nashville Zoo.

Most of the animals seemed to be in a pretty friendly mood. I guess love was just in the air.

Everywhere but the flamingo habitat, that is. Four of the flamingoes woke up on the wrong side of the pond and would not settle down. I'm not sure if you know this (because I sure didn't), but when flamingoes are mad, they honk like oversized geese. They also seem to be a lot like barking dogs, when one gets going they all join in on the noisy fun.

Some of my other favorites from the day:

The tigers kept pacing back and forth. I imagine it must've been just about time for the zookeepers to bring their giant bowl of raw T-bone steaks.

Ring-tailed lemur, and yes, Shane did serenade it with "I like to move it!"

Cougar! It kept looking at all the people like it couldn't figure out why we all found it so interesting.

Giant porcupine. If it would've just gotten a little closer to the wall I could've satisfied my urge to pet it on the nose. I don't know why, it just looks like it doesn't get much love. 

The donkeys were going nuts. They kept braying and stamping their little feet. 

Shane's favorites, the snowy owls! They just moved them into a new enclosure and the owls were running around checking it out. If you've never seen an owl run before, you're missing out because it is probably the cutest thing ever.

And just look at their legs! Who knew their legs were so long and feathery? It looks like it has on little fluffy bell bottoms.

Shane's new goat friend!

All in all, it was a wonderful day and a great way to celebrate. With our shiny new zoo member passes, I see a lot more visits in the future!

Edit: Per Shane's request, I am adding in one more animal. This little cat (no idea what kind) climbed up in the tree while we were walking past its exhibit. Shane stopped to watch it when all of a sudden the cat locked eyes with him. After an intense stare-off, the cat lept from the tree directly towards Shane and hit the chain link fence. Thank goodness for the fence. Out of frustration for missing his prey, the cat then fell from the tree and landed on the ground with a giant thud. 

Sure, he may look cute and cuddly. But behind those adorable sad eyes is the heart of a killer. This is why we are dog people.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reason #28 why it sucks when your car stereo is stolen... don't remember any of your radio presets so you have to scan through a zillion radio stations to find the two that aren't country. Oh, the joys of living in Music City.
Anyways, you might have already seen the picture I posted to Facebook on Wednesday of what happens when some thugs decide your $125 car stereo looks fancier than it actually is.
We think that since I had an aux-in cable plugged in, they thought maybe there was an iPod in the car. Sucks for them, because even if it had been in there, my iPod is about four years old and scratched all to hell. At any rate, they climbed in through the window and ripped that stereo right out of the dash. They had to have climbed in and out through the window, because if they had opened the door, the alarm would've gone off (thanks for that, VW...relevant later).

They must've seen the extra wiring leading back to the subwoofer, because the thief's next course of action was to fold down the back seat and get into the trunk. Thank goodness Shane and I went to the zoo on Sunday, or my Nikon would've still been back there, where it had lived for the past two months or so. Anyways, the joke was on them, because my sub box is ginormous and wouldn't have fit through the window, and the amp was old (and like Walmart brand) when we got it via trade at a yard sale four years ago, so they left all of that. In fact, the only thing they got besides my stereo (and hopefully some nasty gashes from the glass) was my Nicki Minaj cd, which was in the stereo at the time.

Shane is awesome and called the police for me and took care of calling a guy to come replace the glass. When the guy got to the apartment, he worked on the window for a good hour or so before he finally broke the window regulator. Crap. It would be until Friday (today) before they could get the part in at the VW dealership to fix it, so the guy just taped the window in place, said sorry, and that he'd be back to fix it (and that his company would be paying the $400 replacement part cost. I swear, anything you replace on a VW costs $400. It's like they thought it was just a nice round number or something). You know I can't be that lucky, because this morning they called and said the shipment had been delayed, and that now the part would be in by (hopefully) Monday or Tuesday. So this is how I get to drive around for the next few days! It's especially fun when you drive on the interstate and you can hear wind whistling through the gaps, then you hope and pray the wind doesn't make it somehow shatter and slice you to bits while driving.
Window just taped in there with yellow tape, oh and that wire with the white thing on it is now how you open the door from the inside. How ghetto fabulous is that?
Yay backseat full of car parts!
This label on the inside of the door seems to think that something is LOL-worthy. My car has a bleak sense of humor.
Lovely view of the tape, and also where I started to peel off the paid-too-much-for-it window tint, which really sucks. Now it's super bright driving in my car and other people can actually see in. And of course it couldn't be easy to take off, so some of the windows have little bits and pieces that just won't let go.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Paris and Nice: Part 4

After the craziness of Paris (see here, here, and here) it was time to pack our bags and head to Nice (pronounced like "niece") in southern France. We were exhausted from the first four days of the trip, and really looking forward to some relaxation by the Mediterranean! 

Day 5: Friday, June 1, 2012

Today was an early day. Our wake-up call was at 5:15 a.m. and we had to be in the hotel lobby dressed and ready with our bags packed at 7 a.m. to catch the train from Paris to Nice. 

Shane enjoying some "Bolognese" flavored
chips on the train.
Once on board the TGV, our trip took about 5 hours. (I later realized that this 5-hour train trip was more hours of relaxation than I'd had of sleep the previous night. Ridiculousness.) I slept a little bit then woke up to eat some of the ham sandwich I picked up at the train station. My mom had also packed a bunch of snacks, which was nice. I spent the rest of the trip putting together the first of my travel videos on the iPad. Shane played poker with the other boys on the trip (and I think ended up winning most of the money, although they weren't playing for keeps). Everyone enjoyed the scenery flying past the window. And if felt good to sit for that long :)

After the TGV we went to our hotel, the Best Western Hotel New-York. After a quick stop to drop off the bags, Angélique took us on a walk through Vieux (old) Nice to get some of the best ice cream I've ever had from Fenocchio. It actually won the silver medal for best ice cream in the region! They had some rather adventurous flavor options, but we opted for some of the safer looking options. I had a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of Nutella. Yum! Shane had passion fruit and cherry. 
Yes, that is cactus-flavored ice cream, and it's apparently pretty popular by the looks of it!
Next we went up to the top of the hill (by elevator, thank goodness) to see the ruins of a castle and a panoramic view of the city and the sea. It was absolutely gorgeous. There was also a manmade waterfall at the top, making it just that much more picturesque.

View from the top!

We walked down the hill and went on our way to the Confiserie Florian candy factory. They specialize in local favorites such as candies and jams made from flowers (violet, verbena, jasmine, you name it) and candied whole fruits (tangerines, pears, etc.). We learned about the candy making process, which is very intense -- the tangerines are soaked in sugar syrup for 45 days, for instance -- and then went upstairs to the shop to sample the bounty and buy souvenirs to bring home. Shane loved  the jasmine jelly and bought some for his mom. I was glad that we got to taste the candied tangerines, but I honestly did not care for the taste. They were oozing with thick, sticky, sugary syrup and did not taste like I thought they would. I preferred the candied orange and lemon peels, so we got a bag of each to bring home. 
Candied tangerines

Later we did some walking around town and down to the beach. We even saw the castle where an old film version of Beauty and the Beast was set. The beach was different than the beaches we're used to because it is made up of rocks instead of sand. We walked into the water a bit even though it was freezing (!) because you can't go to the Mediterranean and not dip your toes in. Some more adventurous vacationing teenagers had chosen a big rock and gone diving. Yikes!

Despite the beach made of rocks, there were still plenty of sunbathers.
 I can't imagine it's comfy to lay on those,
 but I guess if it gets hot enough, free hot stone massage!
We had a little bit of time before dinner so we looked at some of the little shops near the beach. We picked out a postcard to send to Shane's mom, her special souvenir request. Dinner was at a little restaurant overlooking the beach, and Shane and I got to sit at the adult table. Of course when you're in Nice, you're going to have salade niçoise. We also had a nice beef roast and little chocolate cakes for dessert. 

Happy birthday Stewart! What a fun way to spend it!

After dinner we went to the square near the beach to go shopping in the market they had set up. They had all sorts of interesting booths there, selling things like jewelry, purses, artwork, and souvenirs made out of the beach rocks. There was even one man at a clay wheel turning tiny clay pots and vases and giving them out to passerby. Shane bought a teensy clay owl for his collection at home.

It was finally time to come back to the hotel. It has been a long day, especially with all the travel, but I am really looking forward to the slower, relaxing pace in Nice.

As usual, there are way too many photos of the day to fit into one blog post, so check out my corresponding YouTube video below!