Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Wow, is it already 2011?!  Nah, but it will be in a few hours!

As the new year approaches, I can't help but wonder where 2010 has gone.  Of course, I suffer this same nostalgia every year, but most of the time I'm more than happy to see the year go, in exchange for the promise of a new year.  This year is no different, though I'm certain 2010 is a year I won't soon forget.  It's the year I found myself half done with a Master's Degree and the year I lost my grandma.  It's been a hard year, filled with ups and downs, and though I'm not elated to see it go like I have been so many times in the past, I'm glad it's over.

New years always make me feel so very cheerful, at least for a little while, and for that alone I love the New Years holiday.

Why yes, yes I am PowerPoint card making crazy!  I hope you like it (click the image to see it larger).  I decided to put my babies on it this year, but now that I look at it, I managed to forget Mr. Pretty.  Oh well, maybe he can make it to next year's card!

Wherever you are, and whatever you're doing this New Year's holiday, I hope you're safe and sound and with those you love.  For my part, we're going out to dinner tonight, probably to Chilis, and then spending the evening in to watch the ball drop.  Tomorrow, I think we'll watch the Rose Parade, even though Matt doesn't enjoy parades  -- I just asked him, he said sure!  2011 is looking up and it's not even here yet!

When I figure out what my resolutions will be, I'll post them.  I never actually adhere to those things, and it's gotten me thinking that maybe if I did, I'd have a better year than the previous have turned out to be.  So, this year I'm going to think hard and try to come up with resolutions that will improve my life, but are manageable.  I'm tired of making idealistic resolutions, time to make one that's realistic for a change!

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Now that Christmas is over, and it's nearly New Years, I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on the holiday.   This year, Matt and I had an amazing holiday!  I know I spend a lot of the year complaining about this, or that, but right now I have no complaints, except that I wasn't able to be with my family.  That's it, everything else was really nice.  We got some lovely gifts, had a nice dinner with my in-laws, and spent the post-Christmas eating our very own Christmas dinner and watching some football.  I would go so far as to say that it was the best holiday we've had in a very long time!

I know, I know, stop the gushing and tell you what I got!!  Wow, that sounded kind of self-centered, didn't it?  In my defense there's really no way to share an un-self-centered entry about Christmas.  It's almost always about the gifts and fun you had.  Okay, enough inner dialogue for one post, onto the gifts!

Matt's been giving me gifts for about the last month, but he still managed to give me something really amazing for Christmas... on Christmas (or pretty close)!  He ordered a custom novel for me from UStarNovels!  They're a company who take a classic novel that's out of copyright and allows you to put in your personal information to create a personalized novel experience.  No surprise, and a testament to how well he knows me, Matt ordered me Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Rather than Miss Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy being the main characters, Miss Kristyn Rhodes & Mr. Matthew Hammond are.  It changes all of the names, of course, so the Bennett family becomes the Rhodes family, but the story remains the same!

Here're some of the pictures I took of the book, sorry for the wonky angle on all of my pics lately, I can't seem to manage to the flash glare and it's entirely too dark in my house to take pics without the flash, even during the day...

I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear me say that Matt hit it out of the ballpark with this gift!  I absolutely love it... LOOOOOOOVE it!!  The book is really nice quality, the pages aren't cheap or thin, the print is clear and beautiful, and who doesn't want to star in their favorite novel?! UStarNovels clearly pays close attention to detail when printing these paperbacks, they're really lovely!  Matt did have a little trouble paying for it, as he tried ordering it from the UK version of their site and our bank wouldn't approve the funds transfer.  He finally did get it paid for (obviously), and apparently their customer service is top notch because he said that every time he needed to email them, they had gotten back to him in only a few hours. Anyway, when the book came, there were two.  They had accidently processed the order twice, so now I have two copies!  One is in my curio cabinet so nothing happens to it, the other is in my filing cabinet.

He also got me two little plushies, which wouldn't mean anything to those who don't play WoW, except that they're adorable.  One is a Griffon Hatchling, the other is a Windrider Hatchling and they came with in-game pets.  They are so adorable!  He would have saved them for Christmas, of that I'm certain, had I not insisted that he give them to me the moment they arrived!  Otherwise, he got me a Sarah Peyton Homes flame-less candle set which is really neat, a little Happy Bunny notebook, a pink wallet, and a magnet with a very perky woman's face on it and says "Surprisingly Enough, I don't give shit."  Oh, and all the smaller gifts (wallet, notebook, & magnet) were wrapped in a gift bag and rather than using tissue paper, he used Hershey Kisses!  So, now I have three bags worth of Hershey Kisses (caramel, candy cane, & cordial cherry), which I'm working at slowly.  Then of course there's Mr. Pretty the Betta and his tank!

My awesome parents sent us gifts in the mail, which we opened late on Christmas Eve when we opened our other gifts.  They got us each a Snuggie (which we asked for... don't judge us, they're really warm!) mine's pink and Matt's is camo!  They also got me matching slippers, a really cute handbag with matching wallet and scarf, and my little sister Candi got us a sandwich maker, which Matt was especially happy with as he can't cook.  He can, however, use the Foreman Grill, so we have the utmost confidence that he'll be able to use the sandwich maker.

Earlier in the week, we had gone out to Melanie and Joey's for cards and Monday Night Football and while there they gave us our gifts.  Melanie made me the most adorable vintage apron and a picture with little aprons.  I had been saying that I want to make a vintage apron but couldn't find a really good pattern.  I love them and have been wanting one, so she made me one.  I had the hardest time getting a picture because when you hang it up, you can't see what it is and I don't have a dressform -- although I think I'm going to look for a vintage dressform, I just love them so much.  Check this out, pink and brown polka dots...

Cute, right?!  Otherwise, my friend Marsha got me a really lovely pink sweater and Nikka got me a pink and white chocolate shoe that is far too cute to eat!  My pal Paula got a little mouse toy and some peanut butter filled Oinkies for Anakin and put them in a cute little bag for me.  My girly Mayren sent me a whole bunch of homemade bath stuff, including soaps (I LOVE the Energy Blend!!), foot soak, bath fizzy, sugar scrub, lip balm, dry clay facial mask, a lotion stick, and a candle all the way from California!  The packaging on that stuff from California was really pretty, too!

On Christmas day we went to Waco to see my in-laws.  It was just us and them and it was really nice.  We had dinner and desert, and opened presents, of course!  My in-laws got us gift cards to Sonic & Subway, a tin of popcorn, a loaf of cinnamon raisin Panera bread, cute little note cards, chip clips, a notepad for the fridge, a nail file with a K on it, calendars for the new year, and a cute red sequin ball cap.

Okay, so I had to include a picture of that magnet, it's too cute.  Matt said he saw it and it looked just like my attitude.  It's on my fridge and every time I see it, I smile.  It never ceases to amaze me that he knows me so well.  I never took him for paying so much attention, but it seems I underestimated him!

The day after Christmas I made a post-Christmas dinner, we watched Football, and played Shadowrun.  It was really nice just spending the day together, and since I enjoy baking, it was twice the fun!  I made a huge ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, pink salad, brown and serve rolls, a 3-layer pumpkin spice pie, an apple-raisin spice pie, and a pecan pie. Dinner turned out amazing and now we have a ton of left overs, both from our dinner and from my in-laws, who sent us home with a ton of food.   We've been eating ham and potatoes for days, and I wish I'd gotten double the makings for the pink salad because it got gobbled up in record time, we both love it so much!

All in all, we had an amazing day.  I didn't include pictures of everything I got because there would have been a lot of pictures, but also because it would have taken me hours to crop them all down.  I've been working on this post for more than two hours now, besides more pictures would have just been overkill.  I'm hoping that I didn't forget anything, but I really think I got it all.  I omitted most of what Matt got, who cares about that anyway? Ha!  I'm hoping we have as lovely a New Year holiday as we did Christmas; I think we'll probably just stay home and spend the holiday together.

Wow... I just realized, reading back over this, that I had a very pink holiday.  Almost all the gifts I got, and pretty much all from the people who really know me, were pink!  Even the rocks in Mr. Pretty's tank are pink!

One final note, Thank you to everyone who extended a lovely invitation for the holidays.  It always makes us feel loved to be invited to share the holidays with family and friends!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!!

After seeing a lovely holiday card at Jodi's blog, which she made with PowerPoint, I was reminded that another friend of mine also makes holiday cards with PowerPoint.  So, inspired by the beauty of their cards, I set out to make one of my own!  The resulting card is the one below and I think it came out pretty good for my first try!!

The picture is one of the only pics I have of us, and it was taken a long time ago. We still look like that, plus about 8 years, give or take a year. I used a clip-art background, added the picture, and made the "Warmest Wishes this Holiday Season" part with Photoshop and added it as an image.

So, with Christmas quickly approaching, I hope you all have a very happy holiday! Drive safe and eat too much, that's what we intend to do!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cupcake Vineyards: Red Velvet

I found this lovely bottle of wine at the store last week and bought it on the weight of it's name -- Cupcake Vineyards!  Now, I can't bring myself to open it, it's just too pretty!  Of course, my horrible photography skills don't do the bottle justice at all.  It has a deep blue color to the glass.  I just had to share, it's too good to pass up!

The back of the bottle says, "This wine shows a heady nose of chocolate, deep rich blackberries, red fruits, and a creamy mocha finish that is unmistakable in its intensity and length." It's not just called Cupcake Vineyards: Red Velvet, it apparently tastes like chocolate, too!   The wine is actually a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, & Cabernet Sauvignon.  I just don't know that I can open it... of course, it wasn't very expensive, so maybe I will and if I love it, I'll go get another. I'm just afraid I won't be able to get it here again, that's happened a time or two.

You know, I think I will open it and have a glass.  If I can't find it here, I can always order it online if I really fall in love with it!


I wanted to take the time to make an update to this post because I've been getting a lot of hits, which indicates to me that people are interested. I've had the opportunity on several occasions to share a glass of wine with my husband and we both really enjoyed it! I had chilled it, but we both agree it's better at room temperature. The rich, chocolate flavor is very available when the wine's at room temperature. In short, we loved it and highly recommend it!

Beautiful color, no?  We thought so!  Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... Christmas?

I'm back and it hasn't been a month... it hasn't even been a whole week.  This has to be some kind of record!!  Might be that I'll be able to write more over the Christmas break, but I'm not going to push it.  I'm really happy to have a break and I'm trying to enjoy it without stress and pressure.  I told Matt we're having a "stress-free break" which he seems to like, but is a little skeptical about. I think he's waiting for the other shoe to drop... silly boy! When I said I wanted to have a nice break, I mean that.  I think he's starting to see that I actually meant it because he's beginning to relax.  Poor guy, living with me must be a nightmare -- I know he's recently expected a house to fall on me at any moment, it's been really tense around here.  I'm tired of tension, I want my break to be a break!

And, on that note, I've gotten all of my grades back for the Fall semester and I made straight A's!! I knew last week that I had gotten an A in British History to 1603, but I learned today that I also got A's in British Lit: Early Modern & Restoration Drama and in Studies in Classical Rhetoric.  I am elated, to say the very least.  This last month and a half or so, since about the beginning of November, has been a rush of un-ending work, both school work and work work.  Papers to write, test to take, presentations to give, labs to conduct, students to tutor, it was amazingly crazy and I was immensely happy when, last week, it was all over.  I was also fairly concerned about my British Lit grade because it was teetering on the edge of an A, but I wasn't certain I had done well enough on the final to actually pull the A out.  It turns out that, in fact, I did!

Since school's been out, I've actually been pretty busy, but not with work or school.  Rather, I've been cleaning my house.  I worked on it on Thursday, Friday (with help from Melanie), and Saturday and I still don't feel like it's really clean.  I still have laundry to do, but the biggest problem is the clutter.  It's everywhere.  I'd love to have a clutter-free house, but I don't see that happening without getting rid of a LOT of stuff.  I'm trying to tell myself that it just looks lived in, but the truth is, I've got a lot of things and things produce clutter.  Mostly, I spent so much time cleaning up because I want to spend my stress-free break in a nice clean house.  It's been a mess for months, since during the semester I can't seem to find much time to clean it up and Matt's not much of a helper when it comes to cleaning.  So, it was a top priority and I got it mostly done, thank goodness.  I may try to do something with some of this clutter, but I'm not sure what yet, so for now things are as good as they're going to get and that's okay!

I also wanted to have a clean house because Christmas is coming and I wanted my decorations to stand out and look nice, rather than just being more a part of the mess.  I think we'll have a really good holiday this year, I hope so anyway, even though I miss my family.  The only problem with the holiday this year is, despite the pretty tree in my living room, the unseasonably warm weather is making it difficult to feel festive.  I want to feel like it's Christmas, but at 80 degrees (yes, that's what it was here today), it's almost impossible to fool my brain into believing it's winter.  The funny thing about that is, it actually is winter, but Texas has me thoroughly tricked.  It just doesn't feel like Christmas!

Ah well, c'est la vie, can't help the weather!  Believe me, if I could, it would be snowing here like it was this time last year.  As it stands, we can't even get rain.  It's been months since it's so much as clouded up, let alone rained, and there's no rain in our immediate future.  This is a terrible way to ring in the new year, especially since I'm hoping that we'll have a cooler, wetter 2011!  2010 has been such a dud!

 I hope you're having as good a week as I am. To those who aren't, I hope things look up soon. Good night, my friends, sleep tight!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Light, I See You...

I'll just start with this: I lied, I don't have pictures today -- In my defense, I'm at work and don't have access to my pics.  Maybe next time.

My finals are nearly over now, just one to go tonight, and I'm feeling much better than I was when last I wrote.  Stress does terrible things to my psyche.  The two finals I had yesterday were pretty brutal, but tonight's should be fine, so I'm not worried.  Okay, to be honest, even if it was going to be brutal I still don't think I have it in me to worry anymore about this semester; I'm all worried out.  Sadly, I still didn't sleep well last night, even after taking two really hard finals yesterday.  I can't seem to let down from this semester, but am hoping that once classes are over and work's done, and once grades are in, I'll feel better.  Unfortunately, grades won't be in until Monday, so I most likely won't know how I did until Tuesday morning.

I have gotten a few individual grades back so far and they've been okay.   I got an A- on my childfree rhetoric paper, which I feel like I really earned.  It was a good paper with a few problems, like having cast too wide a net for the project, but overall a good paper. I made an A-/B+ on my British lit paper, which is the equivalent of a 90 -- it's an A, but only barely.  When my professor gave the Brit lit paper back yesterday she went over all the problems with it and we discussed how I could have tightened it up.  Talking to her, I was feeling okay.  Then, I left her office, the paper in hand, and it took everything I had not to burst into tears right there in the stairwell.  I worked so hard on that paper, I felt like it was good, and she said she could see that I'd worked extremely hard on it.  She also said that my "prose were elegant and beautiful" which is an immense compliment coming not just from a professor, but from someone I respect as much as Dr. Y.  She also loved my title, but then, she's a sucker for a good title and mine was awesome (if I do say so myself)!

I can almost hear you asking yourself why I would cry at having made an A.  The answer isn't a simple one, becuase I don't exactly know.  It's like the feeling you get when you're proud of something you've done, and think it's good work that represents your intellect and work ethic, but then someone else sees what you've done and isn't really as impressed as you were.  It's heartbreaking.  Also, I think it has to do with the frustration of never seeming to be able to do better than that.  I'd really like to make an A, or an A+, but can't seem to do better than an A- on most of my work -- Okay, in all fairness, I did make an A on my rhetoric mid-term.  Ultimately, I know it's my fault, I need to maybe study  more or thinking it through a little harder, but it's still frustrating.  I work really hard for the grades I get, I put in 100% of my effort, and I'm finding that 100% isn't representing anything better than an A-; it makes me feel like a sub-par person. Also, embarrassment is a hard pill to swallow.  I want my professors, especially the ones I respect, to look at me and see a smart capable student and when I do A-/B+ work, I don't feel like they're capable of doing that.  I guess I feel like I'm letting them, and myself, down.

I have a complex and I'm hoping, soon, to overcome it.  I'm just trying to tell myself that I need to toughen up and grown thicker skin, because when it comes time to write my thesis, it's the job of my committee to scrutinize my arguments and tell me how to improve them.  I have the feeling that when that time comes, I'm going to spend a lot of time feeling sub-par, so prepare yourselves for the pity-party of the century.  Maybe I should start prefacing my posts with content warnings.  "Warning, this post contains large quantities of pitiful self-loathing.  Read at your own risk."  That sounds about right.

Wish me luck on my last final, and send good thoughts that the work I've already done has been good enough to warrant good grades.  I'd really like to make A's this semester.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's My Party & I'll Cry If I Want To...

I usually start these posts after a long time with an apology, or some sort of surprise that it's been so long since I last wrote, but I don't really have the energy to do that this time.  So, instead, you're getting an explanation about why I'm not apologizing or waxing philosophic about where the time has gone.  Now that I think about, that would probably have been quicker, but it just doesn't fit today's mood.  Today, I'm tired and a little bit grumpy... surprise, surprise.

It's only Monday and I'm exhausted, which does not bode well for the rest of the week.  Though work hours are short this week, since we're only open from 10-3 for finals week, I still have finals and I'm feeling, right now, like that's simply too much, like I won't get through it, like I can't possibly write even one more test, or paper, or word, really. It's not a good feeling as I reach the end.  I should be happy, right?  I got all my paper's done, that should be a good thing.  Not really feeling it, but I'm hoping to feel better when it's all over and grades are in.  I'm so tired of being worried about grades, so tired.  At this point, if I fail everything I doubt I'd care. Indifference is not a good feeling, I should be elated or excited, or... something, right?  Huh.

Nope, nothing.

Maybe it's because I've been so busy and haven't had time to think it through, or worry about worrying, or throw a tantrum about being so busy?  I don't know.  Over the last month I've done two long papers and four short papers, given two presentations, studied, worked and gone to class, and I spent last Friday night proctoring a final for freshmen English.  Believe it or not, I kind of enjoyed it, the final I mean.  It gave me a chance to sit and read my friend's novel, which I've been trying to get to for weeks.  I really just want to do something I want to do, rather than what everyone else expects me to do, just for a little while.  Pretty immature, isn't it?  Still, I can't help feeling like I should have the right to time to myself once in a while.  Everyone needs time to unwind without someone else's expectations hovering over them.  Can't play World of Warcraft or read a book or watch TV, have to write a paper, study for a test, go to work or class, clean the house, do what Matt wants, cook dinner, do the laundry, go to this appointment or that appointment, or a thousand other things not of my own devising.

Yes, I'm having a tantrum.

I'm just not cut out for this stress.  And yes, much of this is my doing.  No one forced me to apply for grad school (eh hem, mostly), no one forced me apply for the assistantship, and while that may be technically true, expectations are still hanging over my head like a two ton anvil.  My own, those of my husband, and honestly, I have no idea what I'd be doing if not this.  Probably something else I'd complain about in equal measure.  I suppose what I want is stability and a normal life.  I see people around me with normal lives, regular jobs, and I want those things too (with a few notable exceptions).  I wasn't cut out for a life with a schedule in flux, where expectations are constantly changing, where I feel, all the time, like I'm being chewed up and spit out.  College is supposed to make your life better, right?  Not make you feel more hopeless.

Ultimately, I try to remind myself that this is a means to an end.  I have a job I like (generally) and am attending classes I enjoy (for the most part) and in a few years, when it's all over, I'll have a Master's degree and two years quality work experience. I have a wonderful, if unhelpful, husband and a great family.  I just need to remember the good things and try not to let the bad get me down.  Here it comes, an apology... I didn't mean to spend this whole entry complaining or sounding like a whiny baby, but it certainly came out like that, didn't it?  Not much of an apology, but you get my point.  I just, I don't know, I think I just needed to get this all out because I'm feeling a little better now than when I started this entry.

I'll write again soon, I promise, and next time I'll bring pictures -- this post would probably have come out less whiny and more upbeat had I been at home and had access to pictures.  I hope y'all are having a better week, or month, or year than I am.  Thankfully, it'll all be over soon.  I really need the break to rest and refresh, and the promise of a new year to look forward to.