Halloween Decorations Tour

Happy Monday, Blog Friends!

I hope you had a spectacular weekend. I also hope that you, like my boyfriend, are enjoying a day off of work for Columbus Day, while I am sitting in my little cubicle staring at a computer for 9 hours. No, really. I do. I’m not bitter. Not at all.

And really, Columbus Day probably shouldn’t be a holiday…You know…considering the slaughters and overall not-coolness of the guy. Nope. Definitely not bitter.

So I’m going to take you on a tour, today! A photo tour of our Halloween decked out apartment! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to put up our orange Halloween tree this year…but next year, we will hopefully have a house with lots of space for Halloween trees. And Christmas trees. Because…well…have you met me? (Hmmm…I guess not. But whatever. You know enough to know that I get a little crazy during the holidays.)

I started getting prepped in September. Not just because we had a Halloween Kickoff party, but also because 1. Our apartment was a complete disaster and 2. I like to enjoy the decorations for as long as possible.

We go a little creepy and a little autumn-y so that the decor can last until it’s time for Christmas music. I mean decorations. The foggy cover is because I took these pictures while the fog machine was rolling (you know, for effect.) I told you, guys…I don’t mess around.

Welcome to our apartment!TV Horror Pumpkins Pumpkins Leaves above the balcony  Bloody bathroom Stop Sign Spiderwebbed office  Pumpkin with witch's hat 2013-10-05 19.06.58

Chatchky ShelvesDeck the Games

What do you do to make Halloween special, Blog Friends?

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Monday memories: Because Valentine’s Day is totally stupid anyway

So this is the only peep you’re going to hear from me on the subject of that Hallmark holiday couples everywhere waste money on and singletons everywhere cry into their beer. As the theme for this morning’s Monday Memories is LOOOOOOOOVE, I thought I’d tell you about the one time before Brian that I had a “Valentine.”

I was in college and dating Rockabilly. (We had already broken up and gotten back together once, as I spent 2 weeks in London and he missed me and blah blah blah). So we had been back together for a couple of weeks when the VD rolled into town. Neither of us had really ever done anything for it…so I planned some stupid shmoopy crap and cooked dinner. I won’t tell you about the shmoopy crap (because I’m totally embarrassed for myself that it involved a scavenger hunt…), but I will tell you that dinner involved a bottle of champagne. That I drank. By myself. Rockabilly enjoyed a bottle of PBR, and I enjoyed a bottle of Korbel.

After dinner, his single buddy called to say he was at the bar. I told Rockabilly to head over there, I wanted to clean the kitchen first, and I would meet him there.

He left, and I immediately went down to the bedroom for a “nap.” An hour later, I saw that he was calling my cell, but I was groggy (read: drunk on champagne and passed the fuck out) and opted not to answer. I fell back asleep and woke up at 4 AM to discover that he had called me like 5 times, leaving messages as to which bar to find him at each time. And that he was home. Whoops! Guess I slept through the evening’s festivities. And I didn’t really feel all that bad. And neither did he. So I guess when we broke up (again) a few weeks later, it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise.

Join me and my pals as we write memories to make you laugh. If you’d like to get involved, next week’s theme is FOOD!

Monday Memories
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Happy National Cheese Lover’s Day!

Seriously.

Today is a great day…for CHEESE!

So go out. Buy a hunk. Eat the whole thing. You deserve it. Might I recommend some of my elite fancy favorites? (I don’t have a Google Doc or anything…) You can likely find these guys at a Whole Foods or fancy cheese market near you. If you don’t have one of those, your local grocer should have Cabot, Kerry Gold Dubliner, or some fine cheese spread from Wisconsin  I do love my Wisconsin Cheese.

Cypress Grove Cheese

This goat cheese specialist makes some of the finest goat cheese around. From Midnight Moon (mild and delightful, perfect for less than adventures cheesies) to Humboldt Fog (OH MY GOD if you like brie and blue, you’ve got to try this shit. Not for the casual cheese eater. This one is for the connoisseur.)

They’ve got a variety of other flavored goat cheeses for the taking, including truffle tremor (Hello truffle flavor!) But you know…don’t let this tiny little post show you how much I love Cypress Grove. Let me love letter speak for itself.

Cheese pictures Cheese pictures Cheese pictures Cheese pictures Cheese pictures

Can you tell we like to have “cheese days?”

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Best New Year’s Eve. Ever.

I debated internally whether to have a politically charged Fiscal Cliff Bullshit post directed at the United States government or to have a fun New  Year’s Eve post to make my readers laugh. Lucky for you, I chose the latter.

Of course, when I say the best New Year’s Eve, I’ll bet you’re thinking some hoity toity event. Or a gathering of my closest friends. Or even hanging out with family. But it’s not.

New Year’s Eve has always been pretty high expectation, low outcome in my book. When I was a kid, the parents owned a bar…so we ALWAYS had babysitters. First it was Vicky. Then her younger brother Mark. Vicky was cool. Mark was a douche canoe.

Mark would throw parties and smoke weed in our house. Mark and his friends would eat all of my hard earned caramel delight cookies in one sitting. Mark sent my cousins and brother and I to bed at 11 on New Year’s Eve.

Sometimes, it would be my Gram that watched us. Sometimes we would go to my best friend, Kelly’s house and her mom would watch us. Always, though, Mom and Dad would try to make it as fun as possible for us without being there. They’d buy the sparkling grape juice and plastic champagne glasses to send with us. They’d give us noise makers and headgear. They’d make platters of shrimp cocktail and cheese with crackers. They’d try really really hard to make it awesome. And for us kids, it totally was.

But as I got older, expectations got higher…and the outcomes dwindled. In middle school, my brother and his best friend watched a South Park marathon, while I whined that I wanted to watch something that wasn’t ridiculously stupid. In high school my brother and I co-hosted a party…OK that was pretty awesome. A bunch of straight-laced high school kids on New Year’s Eve not even attempting to drink alcohol? I know you’re probably thinking what planet did this girl grow up on? But it’s true. We were Stepford Children.

After that, it was mostly downhill.My freshman year of college, I spent New Year’s Eve weekend trapped in a cabin in the middle of nowhere Indiana as the only single non-pot smoking girl with a large group of stoner couples with no phone reception, no television, no books, a lot of booze, and the only DVD they brought was the worst movie ever made: Dumb and Dumber (an apt title.)

I spent New Year’s Eve in New Orleans one year. It was like a 16 block square mosh pot. And I needed to pee. And I hate crowds. We watched the ball drop, then went back to our hotel and played MASH with our new-found friends/fraternity brothers (Alpha Phi Omega) until 4 in the morning…after I peed in the hotel lobby men’s room.

I spent New Year’s Eve in Denver one year, again for an APO national convention. It was okay. I kissed a boy from Texas at midnight. Despite his awesome accent…he wasn’t a great kisser. Let’s just say things aren’t always bigger/better in Texas.

Parties with friends seemed un-fun. I stopped getting excited about the “holiday” and started calling it amateur night. I had boyfriends during several New Year’s Eves…and guess what? None of them ever wanted to be there to kiss me at midnight. It was depressing, to say the least. Rockabilly. The Bartender. Both were boyfriends who had nothing better to do, but refused to spend time with me on a holiday almost as much designed for making non-couples or girls in bad relationships feel bad as Valentine’s Day.

So in 2010, after a VERY exhausting year, I managed to have the greatest New Year’s Eve in the history of ever. The year that I accidentally fell into the presidency of my local Jaycees chapter. The year that I student taught. The year that I had no job, but worked harder than I ever had in my entire life.

The night before, I had pulled an all-nighter with some really amazing friends. We had drunkenly discussed re-playing the same evening over the next night, as none of us had New Year’s plans. My bestie, Lily, and some of our near and dear ones planned to do it all over again. But the next day, New Year’s Eve, we were all exhausted. And hungover.

I went home. Lily went home. We slept all day. When I woke up, I called Lily. She was still sleeping, so Mom and I went out to dinner. Dad was driving a limo at the time, so he was out of commission most of the night. Mom and I had a wonderful dinner. We came back to the house, and Buck, the bad dog, had consumed a pound of chocolate truffles. Oh great. Our dog is going to die. My mom started crying, and I started Googling.

“He’ll be fine mom. Seriously. He’s a big dog. He’ll probably just get sick.”

I called Lily again. She had just woken up. Going over to our friends’ was now out of the question. We were so over drinking. Here’s how the conversation went:

Lily: moan What’s up, Pookie?

Me: We going over to Jenna’s?

Lily: I don’t think so. I called her a bit ago and she feels like shit.

Me: Yeah. Me too. Wanna come over and watch movies?

Lily: Nah…you could come over here.

Me: Nah. I don’t want to leave the house.

Lily: Me neither.

Me: We had our party night. Maybe I’ll just go to bed early.

Lily: Shit, that’s my plan.

Me: OK. Happy New Year, Pookie.

Lily: You too, Pookie.

A while later, my girlfriend Hilary called and asked me whether I wanted to go to her party. I opted out, because I was playing Mario Kart on the Wii and had no intentions of doing anything else. And for 4 straight hours…I played Mario Kart. Like it was a regular old night. And it felt good. No one was calling me to ask questions or because some drama had happened in the Jaycees that I had to deal with. I wasn’t grading papers. Or working. Or surrounded by people I didn’t want to be surrounded by. I was just relaxing.

And then it was almost midnight. I turned off Mario Kart to watch the ball drop. Yelled up to my mom to see if she wanted to come down. She didn’t. My dad stopped home for a few minutes (they were always together at midnight). At exactly 12:00, several things happened all at once.

  1. The ball dropped.

  2. The dog vomited an exorbitant amount of liquid chocolate right. In front. Of my face. Seriously, he was 3 feet in front of me. I almost threw up watching it.  My dad, the amazing dad that he is, managed to clear the nasty puddle from the living room, while Buck looked at us, sad and confused.

  3. I received the best text ever from Hilary, who was also a local Jaycees president: “Congratulations on surviving your year as president. We are so done!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Relief washed over me as I was no longer in charge. I was no longer responsible. I was free.

  4. I resumed playing Mario Kart while a flurry of texts and phone calls made their way to my phone.

No drama. No drinking. No driving. No bullshit. The lowest maintenance New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had. It was fantastic.

I suppose I can’t end this post without saying that last year was the first time I had someone that I really wanted to kiss at midnight…and he wanted to kiss me right back. And this year, I’ll again be spending the evening with him. And our friends. Relaxing and playing board games. As it should be.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Confession Friday: I Lost at LIFE

OK. Here goes. The following conversation happened last night:

Me: So, do you want to try out our new game? (Our previous roommate bought us this sweet game, Dominion, for Christmas…and the next day, I had popped it, organized it, and read all of the rules. I proceeded to ask Brian to play every day thereafter.)

Brian: I kinda just want to relax and snuggle and watch TV. (The same answer he’s had every night since we got the game).

Me: You don’t ever want to play games with just me. It’s just like when I was a kid. I wish we had a dog.

Brian: You can’t play games with a dog.

Me: Yes, you can.

Brian: But you’ll always win.

Me: That’s not true!

Brian: I know…(and then he hugs me sympathetically).

We finally got to play Dominion last night. He felt so sorry for me…and, wait for it…he enjoyed himself.

The following conversation happened on Christmas.

Little A: Auntie Chrissy, did you bring LIFE?

Me: No, A…sorry.

Little A: That’s OK. Can we open presents?

Me: Sure. Ask Auntie Patti, though. She’s the boss.

Little A: yells Auntie Patti! Can we open presents??

Mom: Sure! (She was never that easy going when WE were kids!)

Present opening ensues.

Little A: opens games Oh sweet! Can we play!?

Me: Definitely!

So we start setting up Catan Jr. which is awesome.

Dad: Sure beats playing with the dog, right? he chuckles at me

Me: Dad, did you read that blog post?

Dad: Huh?

Me: The one I wrote about Bismark?

Dad: No, I just remember it. You always played LIFE with Bismark. I remember you lost a lot, too.

Classic Game of LIFE

 

Woj (My Little Brother, whose name is also Brian, which gets confusing): You lost to the DOG? Hahahahahahahaha! (Literally that many ha’s)

Me: Sometimes…

Woj: How many times did Bismark go to college?

Me: A lot.

Woj: Hahahahahahahahahaha!

So there you have it, Blog Friends. My dirty little gamer secret. And you know what? Right now, I totally wish I had a dog.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Oplatki Tradition and Holiday Wishes

Every year since before I was born, my family has had a Polish Christmas Eve tradition. We wash our hands with a silver dollar before dinner, starting with the oldest and ending with the youngest members of the family. It’s like…the sweetest tradition ever. This is to bring a year of financial goodness for everyone (I’m still waiting for mine to kick in…since 1997…)

My family celebrates Christmas Eve with oplatki and other Polish traditions, granting each other wishes for the coming year.

Then we feast on the Polish delicacies: pierogi (stuffed dumplings), gwumpki (cabbage rolls), kapusta (saurkraut), kielbasa (sausage–even though traditional Polaks don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve), and kolacky (cookies).

After the feast, we bust out one of my favorite parts of the evening: the oplatki (communion-like wafer of goodness). With the oplatki, everyone walks around to the members of the family, and shares with them three wishes and three pieces of their oplatki. When I was a kid, we all hated it. We would try to give Grandpa the biggest pieces, and ask for just the tiniest little bites for ourselves. As we got older, my sister and I would fight over the leftovers.

The thing was, three wishes to each family member can seem…tedious. I wish you happiness. Oplatki I wish you health. Oplatki I wish you lots of money. Oplatki Repeat for each person. From the time I turned 12, my aunt would always wish that I found love. Oplatki And so it would go until everyone had shared wishes with everyone else in a big happy family love sharing wish sharing circle. Oh and they hand fed the oplatki into your mouth, just like communion. (Click that if you’ve never read about my First Communion. Seriously. Go. I’ll wait.)

Anyways, back to wishes… I’ve already told you about my super awesome Christmas List… April, the sassy-pants behind First Time Mom & Dad granted me some wishes. Five of them for the holidays. Here they are in all their beautiful glory.

  1. I wish for the perfect job. One in which I am appreciated as a member of a team. One in which I can ask questions and offer answers/suggestions. One in which I make a decent salary, so that I can take my amazing boyfriend out to a fancy dinner once in a while. One in which I don’t feel worked to the bone, but I want to work hard for. One that makes me feel needed. You hear that, potential employers? I’m looking for the perfect job. Are you it?

  2. I wish for cancer to go away. Someone near and dear to our hearts is battling and I wish for her. To fight it. To beat it.*

  3. I wish for sponsorship from a cheese company. (Come on, we’ve got to lighten things up after the last one!)

  4. I wish for world peace world travel.

  5. I wish for cookies.

Cookie Monster Meme

 What are your 5 wishes?

*Brian’s mom passed away in March of 2013. We still miss her.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dear Santa, All I Want for Christmas… (With Pictures!)

While Tweeting with Pesky Pippi (I know, it’s like we were destined to be friends) last night, I got a brilliant idea. Who needs to hint around the Christmas bush? Here’s my “Dear Santa” list.

Yes, I’m a greedy asshole who made a Christmas list last night. I worked really hard on it, too. So Santa, buddy… I’ll take the following AWESOME items:

  • Munchkin Christmas Edition?! 3 different bonus packs?! Yes. Yes. and Yes. Available for under $10 each on Amazon
  • A Harry Potter Light Switch decal (Because I’m a complete nerd and sometimes I need a little pick-me-up), available from Etsy for only $9.99
  • The Grammar Pack (The low price of $40 for 5 posters of Grammar Nazi joy on The Oatmeal)
  • A holiday cheese dish towel, available from Zazzle for only $17.55 (get it? The Baby Cheeses?!?!?!)
  • A Middle Finger Key (only $8.95 from CoolMaterial)
  • ANYTHING from ThisiswhyImBroke.

Munchkin Christmas Game

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the lights

 

The Oatmeal Grammar Pack

 

Middle FInger Key Cool Gift ideas

 

Holiday Cheese Dish Towel

Now, while you all think I just made a greedy ass Christmas list (totally under $100 for anyone not in the mood to do math)…I also showed you some really cool websites where you can find crazy unique gifts for the people you love. You know, if you’re into the whole buying people stuff for Christmas or birthdays or something.

I’d like to say that I’m going to make Christmas presents…but the last time I did that, I was up until midnight on Christmas Eve cutting myself with roller blades and tying fleece knots and wrapping presents. No thank you.

Do  I really want these things? Maybe. Do I really need any of these things? No. But if Santa were to wrap them up and put them under the tree or in my stocking, it’s not like I would, you know…complain or anything!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Greetings from a Dog

Holiday Greetings Dog

Dog Greeting

Sleeping dog Christmas tree

Reindeer dog


Life as we know it by Paula

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How I Tricked Brian Into Christmas Music

Dear Katie,
Don’t hate me. 🙂
 
Also, side note: Just because I won’t start decorating, doesn’t mean I can’t get a little into the holiday spirit…
 

So last night, I was cooking dinner and Brian was putting our new table together (not IKEA to inquiring minds). He had turned on Pandora, and we were jammin’ out. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him move towards the laptop to change the station…I was immediately drawn to the table, where I sneakily stood behind him (and he didn’t notice)…

I watched as he searched Pandora for Christmas music. He hovered over the “stations.” He debated internally like I have never seen before. And then…it was gone. He closed out and started to get up.

“No! You should do it!” I cried.

“What the?!” Apparently he really hadn’t noticed that I was standing. right. behind. him. the. whole. time. “No, I just can’t. It’s too soon.”

I looked at him, disheartened, and asked, “Do you know how much more I would have loved you if you had done it?”

“I would have lost a little bit of respect for myself.”

“No…Christmas music is good. It’s good.”

“Nope. Not yet. Thanksgiving is as early as it should be, and even that is pushing it.”

“But it’s only a week away!”

“And a week, you must wait.”

So I sat down at the computer and put on Pandora Christmas. The first song that came on was Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Brian’s response was that this was an acceptable song, because it didn’t discuss Christmas at all. Then White Christmas came on and I was ballerina-ing around our super tiny kitchen. Much like when Katie and I pretend we are Romy and Michelle dancing at the prom.

No joke, we do this at every wedding we go to together.

Brian and I hadn’t even been dating a year when this happened. And instead of judging us…he got it on video.

Anyways…back to Christmas music. So after White Christmas came Faith Hill…and Brian couldn’t take any more. So I stopped dancing and made my way over to the computer, where I changed the station to Winter Solstice. He said that that was alright. The sound of instrumental music filled the apartment. Not one Christmas-y word was heard…though there were most definitely a lot of Christmas-y tunes.

Brian said to me, “Why is the solstice music talking about Jesus?”

“I didn’t hear the word, Jesus…”

“I most definitely heard Jesus in my head.”

“But no one said ‘Jesus.'”

“I see what you’re doing… this is trickery it is.”

Ah yes. Trickery indeed. Christmas Music is Coming…

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Joy of Haunted Houses and Halloween

I love love love Halloween. It’s THE ultimate holiday. It’s the fourth family holiday, you know. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween. My aunt in North Carolina actually flies into Chicago for this, above all other holidays. It’s the best. I’ve had my fair share of Halloween costumes, many of which were homemade or half homemade.

Haunted House Costumes Galore

This is the first in a series of photo posts in honor of my favorite holiday.

Crazy Haunted House Costume Numbers Clown

I used to volunteer at a haunted house…

In fact, this is how I managed to survive student teaching. I’ve said it was the hardest thing I ever did in my life, but it got a little crazy, considering I was president of my local Jaycee chapter, who ran a haunted house. One of the most hectic times of my life–I escaped into the costumed crazy of Suzzee, my haunted house character with character.

She started out because I love acting the crazy part.

 

Crazy Haunted House Costume 2

This is Suzzee at the very early stages

Crazy Haunted House Costume with Teased Hair

Check out that hair!

As I’ve had some experience in the world of haunted houses, I’ve decided to share with you the secrets to haunted houses. This is what to prepare for.

The Five Types of Haunted House Scares

The Standard Scare

This scare revolves around the things that typically scare…Spooky atmosphere. Scary music. Dark hallways. Traditional monsters. Dead people.This is the easy scare. Mostly scares little ones…

Redneck Monster Haunted House Costume

My redneck monster

Dead Haunted House Character

Dead

Haunted House Costume

My audition photo for The Walking Dead. What do you think?

The Boo! Scare

This scare is the most common. The jump-out-of-a-hidey-spot scare. The rah! scare. The scare they’re expecting, but not expecting…If you’re going through a haunted house, expect this when you least expect it. And when you most expect it. Just be ready for it everywhere.

Haunted House Creepy Little Girl

Suzzee started taking shape. She was a little girl who got into mommy’s makeup, but she was crazy. She was sweet, but mean. Friendly, but nasty. Quiet, but loud…When you least expected it, she was there–screaming in your face…

The Grotesque Scare

As you can see in the photo above, I wasn’t opposed to covering myself in fake blood. (corn syrup and food coloring) The grotesque scare feeds on the fear factor of humans. I’ll bet you never thought about how gross watching someone masticate is… I took every opportunity to chew in people’s faces.

Haunted House Crazy Girl

That red candy was a gummy heart with red liquid candy…it was like eating a heart covered in blood…and I was absolutely disgusting while I did it… I also used gummy finger fries in bloody ketchup…

Haunted House Characters

Suzzee was caught by the popo and stuck behind bars for a while…That pink bunny had a squeaker in it…and was stuffed with cotton candy…which I pulled out and ate in front of people. They really thought I was eating the cotton…

Haunted House Costume Fun

Told you.

The Personal Space Scare

This scare is easy. Walk up to someone who looks scared…stand close enough that you’re just barely touching them (without touching them). Get your face in their face. Sniff them. Smile at them. Scowl at them. Or even better…Scream in their face when they start laughing at you. All of these things are allowed in a haunted house!

Crazy Haunted House Halloween Costume

Suzzee had no problem walking up to people and crowding their personal space. Often.

The Mind-Fuck Scare

There really was no other way to describe this type of scare. It’s the scare that leaves you with nightmares. It’s the scare that makes you unforgettable to teeny bopper radio DJ’s (Yes, that’s right…I ran into them at the car show 5 months later looking normal…Guess what? They still remembered me. They told me they were still having nightmares about my character. It was the greatest compliment. Ever.) I’ve got a super creepy monotonous singing voice that I bust out for haunted housing… I can stare at the same spot for 5 minutes straight…It’s pretty fun.

Haunted House Creepy Character

Creepy right? MIND-FUCK

So Suzzee was the best…Because she encompassed ALL of the scares. An all-around mind-fuck who did and said whatever she wanted.It was great, because I had to be in character at all times. So instead of being the responsible president or the responsible student. Or the responsible teacher… I could just be Suzzee. And life was fun.

When I grow up, I want to be an actress.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!