You Are At The Archives for December 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 in

Traditional Christmas (Almost)

I was asked a week ago if I had any special Christmas traditions and I couldn’t think of any. My family does all the normal stuff. We open gifts Christmas morning, eat a nice meal in the afternoon, then my mom, my brother and I usually go to my Grandma’s house later in the day. We usually end the night watching Christmas movies.

It’s always special and fun to me but nothing really out of the ordinary. Actually, it sounds like kind of like a picture perfect Christmas, right? Well, almost. 

I tend to cause a little bit of mischief every year on Christmas, usually to my older brother, Eric.  Who wants a perfect Christmas anyway?

Before I get into how I terrorized my brother every year, it’ll make more sense if you know a little bit about him. He’s only a year older than me but we are almost complete opposites.

He’s six foot and looks like he would have made a pretty good football player (if he was into sports as a kid, which he wasn’t). He has a pretty mellow nature and doesn’t get excited about anything too often.

The holiday season tends to make him a little uncomfortable because he’s not really into the whole family time “let’s get together and emote.” So basically, Eric is never very thrilled about the holidays and mostly keeps to himself trying to stay under the radar. Unfortunately for him, I know his aversion for the holidays.

Over the years my stupid pranks usual involved wrapping my Christmas gift to Eric.

Several years in a row, I got the bright idea to wrap his gift using box, packing tape instead of regular office tape. After picking out some the most feminine Christmas paper, I would wrap the entire gift with layers and layers of packing tape. Not only did this make the gift completely water resistant it also made it extremely difficult and time consuming to open. Eric never really saw the humor in this.

Then there was the year that I decided to get a little bit artsy with my wrapping. I remember looking down at his gift that year and it looked so ordinary. I couldn’t possibly let him down with a normally wrapped gift. So I made it into a Christmas origami bird.
There were the years I wrapped his gift with as many bows and ribbon as I could find making his gift the most attention grabbing and ridiculous under the tree. 

I like to think that under his disgruntled attitude, deep down he really liked the special thought I put into wrapping his gifts (Yes, I do realize I was a total brat to grow up with).

My parent’s Christmas tree is another normal yearly Christmas tradition in our family. They always buy a real tree and decorate it with white lights and red and gold ornaments, taking time every year to find new ornaments to match the color scheme. It is always very pretty and smells perfectly like Christmas.
What a lovely tradition, right? Well, I have a tradition too. You know when you’re ornament shopping and in every store you find a couple of ornaments that make you wonder, “What is it?” or “Who in their right mind would buy that?” Well, you’ve just stumbled upon my own Christmas tradition. I buy those weird ornaments and put them on my parent’s Christmas tree.

Every year I go out in search of the most bizarre ornaments (It’s really not that hard to find some really weird ones, Americans have pretty bad taste). One of my favorite parts is the look on the cashier's face while they are wrapping whatever strange ornament I picked out. It’s always the same forced bright, smile while they’re choking out, “This is... sooo cute” or “What a fun ornament! Where are you going to put it?”

This should probably embarrass me. But what makes it all worthwhile is the exasperated look on my father’s face every year as I hang whatever sequined, glittered monstrosity on the front of their carefully planned and decorated tree.

These are the ornaments I found this year. Try to guess what the second one is. Don’t worry if it takes a little bit to figure it out what it is, that’s all part of the tradition.
Glitter, feather, bright purple

The tail is the best part

Hot pink with glitter
Sequined eyes = Christmas cheer

Sunday, December 12, 2010 in , ,

Marshmallow World

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like Christmas music. But not just any Christmas music, I like the really bad pop ones. Sure the old classics like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams are great. But let’s be honest here, there's something really entertaining about bad Christmas music, right?

It's not that I go out of my way to listen to bad Christmas music, but it's kind of like that drunken co worker at the yearly Christmas party. It’s not that you want see a him get smashed, poorly try to recreate the evolution of dance, or make suggestive jokes about being Santa’s “little helper,” but it’s more entertaining if it does happen. To me, pop Christmas music is that co worker doing the stanky leg.

My all time favorite Christmas song is by Wham! “Last Christmas.” The original version, not all these modern remakes. There is something so good about hearing 80s keyboard sounds on a Christmas song. And I mean, young George Michael? What else is there to say? Just makes you want to pour some bleach on your jeans and get a bitchin’ perm.

Another awfully good Christmas song has got to be “Christmas Shoes” by Newsong. I realize this is a touching song about the true spirit of Christmas and those special moments of humanity in the world. It's a very sad story that would break anyone's heart. But did they have to make it into such a horrible, cheesy song to make sensitive, middle age women cry?

Each year driving home for Christmas I got to hear this song every 20 minutes or so on the 24 hour Christmas station. Missourians really love a country singer singing about shoes and Jesus. Basically, what I’m trying to say is I know every word of this song right down to mimicking the little boy’s voice at the end (which does make me feel like a bad person).

I was feeling a little sad about not having a Christmas tree in my apartment this year. The last few years I’ve collected some Christmas decorations but I wasn’t able to bring any of them with me. So I broke down and bought a small tinsel tree. It’s silver with blue and glittery ornaments. It’s pretty gaudy but at least I have a little bit of Christmas spirit.

Charlie Brown would be so sad
 Oh yeah, we've been getting a lot of snow. Well, it's probably normal for Madison but it seems like a lot of snow to me. Here are some pictures from the latest snow fall.

Sunday, December 5, 2010 in ,

5.5 X 3.2

I’ve mentioned before I’m not very good at cooking. I go through spurts of trying to get better at it. Like after watching Julie & Julia or reading some terrifying article about Americans slowly killing ourselves because of our high fat diets. Or seeing some consumer alert about sneezing restaurant workers and the disturbing amounts of E coli on spatulas.

It doesn’t make me proud to admit that the only good thing about my cooking is that I know I washed my hands. But I have gotten a lot better at baking. And the holiday season has always seemed like the perfect time to bake some unhealthy food.

He's a closet Paula Deen fan
I’m not too bad at baking some things. I can make a mean vanilla cupcake so by default I’m not too bad at cakes. Really I should stick with those. But every year I find these recipes and I think to myself, “Oh, that would be really good. I like cranberries and pumpkin, I’m sure they would taste great together in a cookie!”

That’s when things start going wrong. I don’t have the culinary skills to pick a recipe by just looking at the ingredients. And unfortunately I don’t have a taste tester to warn me before I take a bunch of weird cookies to school to feed some potential new friends.

That’s the thing about moving to a new town, you don’t have a special friend to taste test your experiments... ahem, cooking. A friend is going to be honest but still nice about it. They’re not going to spit it out in front of your face while making loud, theatrical, gagging noises. A kind taste tester is a true friend.

This is also a good opportunity to see how long your current relationship is going to last. For example, you’ve just spent hours trying to find the perfect recipe online. You’ve found all the ingredients at the grocery store and just spent the rest of the afternoon mixing, measuring, and stirring. You're hovering in the lava hot kitchen because it’s been preheating for the last two hours as you debated how lumpy a batter should really look.

Enter your new boyfriend. You have high hopes for this one. He’s got a great personality, clever sense of humor, and to top it all off a lush head of hair. He  tastes the food of your laborious day and remarks unenthusiastically, “Well, it’s not bad.” I give that relationship two weeks.

Since it is the holiday season, I already did a little baking. Some of it turned out good and some not so good.

Cranberry- pear crisp. Not bad.
With my apartment being so small, it makes sense to have a small kitchen. But small doesn’t even begin to describe it. My kitchen is only about 17 square feet. It has a beverage refrigerator. Yeah, just like the one you had in your freshman dorm.

So damn cozy
It’s hard to cook much of anything in such a tiny space, let alone try to mix and stir baking batter but it seemed to work out OK.

The vast counter space
Well, the pumpkin- cranberry cookies didn’t really work out but that’s not my kitchen’s fault. The cranberry- pear crisp turned out really well. However, it should have come with a warning that you’ll attract older divorced men.

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