Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot: New Years Eves Gone By

2000 (because I don't remember any New Years prior to this one):  I am laying on a sleeping bag in our living room, eating popcorn and Junior Mints.  I keep taking sips of Mountain Dew and getting annoyed at the way the Junior Mints cancel out the taste of, like, anything else.  My mom's antique noisemakers lay beside me, ready to be put into use at the stroke of midnight.  We are watching the annual New Year's festivities on television, with quick switches to the news channel at commercials.  I am confused by the news coverage of people stocking up on water bottles and batteries - it's just another year to me.  The excitement doesn't faze me in the least, and I am asleep before eleven, Dick Clark's voice in the background.

2001:  I am excited for my best friend's family's New Year's Eve party, held mostly for adults who attend their church.  I have high hopes for a certain boy to be there, who I met through a random visit to said church.  Unfortunately, it isn't meant to be, since that boy is skiing with his family in Colorado, which I find to be inexplicably hilarious.  Instead, I spend the night dancing to the Grease soundtrack and Shania Twain in my friend's basement, decked out in an iridescent shirt and electric blue platform sneakers.  (Before I leave for the party, my parents laughingly refer to these shoes as my "blue suede shoes."  I don't understand the reference.)

Update:  They were these, but blue.  Oh God.
(photo from Etsy)

2002:  Another church party at my friend's house.  We dance, give each other makeovers, and "model," which in my case means I quietly berate myself for not being able to fit into my friend's tank top with angel wings on it, while she is swimming in my Gap t-shirt.  The next day, I go roller-skating with my sister for her birthday, a tradition that will hang on even until my early 20s.  My sister gives me another Gap t-shirt, and I repay her with Listerine breath sheets and cans of baby applesauce.  I have a "jerkin'" time...(according to my journal at this time, the movie Josie and the Pussycats was to blame for my usage of the word "jerkin'".  Ugh.)

Also, this:
I hope I didn't follow through with this "resolution."  I blame Avril.

2006:  I make the following New Year's resolutions, having high hopes because I have not yet realized that I am the worst at following through and New Year's resolutions are just setting me up to fail.
* Get good grades - I always managed to do this, mostly because at sixteen, my best Friends were Monica, Chandler, Joey, and the gang (see what I did there?) and I didn't have much of a social life to speak of.
*Make nice with everyone and have people like me - I want to clarify that this is verbatim out of a 2006 notebook.  I would never write something this pathetic now.  That's just sad.  I will say I was never actively disliked, if that counts.
*Party - This never happened.  And don't use "party" as a verb, 16-year-old Chelsea.
*Make fashion statements - Psh, I always do this.  Not to brag or anything, but I was def the first person in our class to ever wear leggings.  The boy I had a crush on stared at me in horror and asked, "What is that you have on under your skirt?  I don't...get it."  Hatas gon' hate!
*Make "trick it up" work - I don't know what this means.  Is this like wanting to make "fetch" happen?  Because Gretchen, stop trying to make "fetch" happen!  It's not going to happen.

2007:  I make the following New Year's resolutions, titling the list as "Things to Accomplish," but let's call it what it really is.
*Sing in front of a big crowd - Check!
*Get one of my writing pieces published - Sorry, this won't happen until sometime in 2010.
*Go camping - What?  Why would I want to do this?!  I hate all things associated with outdoors!
*Ride every ride at Valley Fair - This will just never happen.  Ever.  There are roller coasters at Valley Fair, were you aware?
*Dance in the rain - Puke.  We aren't living in a Nicholas Sparks novel here.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  (Is that phrase still relevant?)
*Find a guy who accepts me for who I am - Valid.
*Watch Titanic without crying - Good luck.

2011:  I am living alone in the dorms and am experiencing for the first time in a while what it feels like to be single.  I do not handle it well.  Unknowing that in only a few short months, I will start a relationship with the man who will become my husband, I decide to text my ex-boyfriend and ask him if he has a New Year's kiss.  I do not see this as being unnecessary and masochistic, but I will later.  When he says no, I tell him that my New Year's kiss is the poster of Robert Pattinson I have on my wall.  I don't know why I tell him this, and apparently he doesn't either, because he doesn't respond.  I eat some chocolate and fall asleep to reruns of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

2013:  I see a great movie (Saving Mr. Banks, highly recommended) and do some shopping with my parents.  I am currently laying in bed with my dog, a People magazine, and an Anne Tyler novel, waiting for my workaholic husband to get home.  I won't have an actual New Year's kiss, champagne, or a party.  I won't have any New Year's resolutions, which is just fine with me.  I wouldn't really have my life any other way :)

Happy New Years, everyone!  :)


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Just a Notch in Your Bedpost, But You're Just A Line in a Song: Music Nostalgia Part 2

We'll pick up right where we left off, in 2003, when I was thirteen years old and my favorite things included the neon rubber bands on my braces, having my parents drive me and my Lucky-cologne-wearing boyfriend to the movies, and sometimes pretending I was hardcore by listening to Evanescence and occasionally wearing Converse.  I was in 7th/8th grade during this year, being taught social studies by my dad and acting cool because I could call him "Dad" or "dummy" instead of "Mr. T."  (I wasn't cool.  Only a loser calls her teacher Dad.)  I was in a heated relationship that involved lying to my parents so I could kiss this brace-faced guy inside an oversized tire on the playground, that involved lots and lots of awkward silences, that involved way too much...Beyonce.  Let's get to the music.

2003:  Crazy in Love - Beyonce ft. Jay-Z
Too much Beyonce?!  you ask...How could anyone ever have too much Beyonce?!  Well, this was in the days before she started being just the greatest woman on earth and also releasing surprise albums (Bow down, bitches).  All I knew of Beyonce prior to this video was that she was part of the late, great, Destiny's Child (R.I.P.) and the only member worth pretending to be when dancing to the Charlie's Angels soundtrack ("Beyonce...can you handle this?").  After this video, she was a booty-shakin', boyfriend-seducing harlot.  Never mind that I tried REALLY hard to master her "Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh no no" butt pop...she was my enemy.  No joke.  The password for my MSN Instant Message account (remember those?) at the time was "beyoncehater".  

This was because of my then-boyfriend's and his best friend's infatuation for her.  Once they had seen this video, along with the video for Baby Boy, they were goners.  They talked about her (also Christina Milian) all the time.  I think a poster on the wall may have been involved.  One day we were at the park (him, the best friend, my best friend who was also his best friend's girlfriend, and me) (there was probably a better way to say that but I don't care) and they were talking about the American Pie series, specifically Stifler's mom who was a MILF.  They decided, after much giggling, that they would coin a new phrase:  MILF-B.  What does this stand for?  Well, it stands for "Mom, I'd like to...Beyonce."  I didn't understand why they thought it was so funny...I still don't.  Because why would you tell your mom that?  Anyway.  My best friend and I decided to be all dramatic and angry with them, because HOW DARE THEY talk like that in front of us?  End of story, we probably made up twenty minutes later with promises of a homemade mix cd and a late-night screening of 8 Mile.

Also, this guy is amazing and fabulous.

2004:  Salt Shaker - Ying Yang Twins ft. Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz
I'm not gonna lie, this was a tough choice.  Should I choose "Hey Ya" by OutKast because my dad always thought they were saying "Bad Dog"?  "Just Lose It" by Eminem because of the impulse of my classmates to constantly sing it in science class?  Or what about "Pieces of Me" by Ashlee Simpson in honor of the night I slept on my sister's couch and was up all night with that goddamn song in my head?  "My Immortal" for the time I sang it and played the piano at a concert?  

When in doubt, always go with the Ying Yang Twins.  This particular song was a favorite of mine to get me "pumped up" while on the bus on the way to...cheer at a game.  But more importantly, it was a song frequently played at (I'm ashamed to admit) NightStorm.  NightStorm, if you're unfamiliar, was a "dance party" which allowed 14-year-olds to mingle with college students, for girls to lose their tops accidentally-on-purpose in a disgusting waterfall of foam, for girls like me wearing camisoles and training bras to feel like adults.  (Parents, don't let your kids go here.)  (I am convinced that the reason I hate bars/clubs today is because of NightStorm.  I once found a hypodermic needle on the floor amongst the lingering foam, and one time a guy who looked like the lead singer of Limp Bizkit groped me to the song "My Neck, My Back.")  "Salt Shaker" was playing in the background when sparks flew between myself and a boy from "out of town" - I liked him so much that I kept the gum that he gave me...like, a chewed wad.  I was confused between being romantic and being disgusting.  It was also "Salt Shaker" that played when my friend got up on a platform to dance with a tall handsome stranger, while I danced alone and was then accosted by a midget (sorry.  Little person.) who almost violently grinded his hips into my...knees?  I quickly excused myself to go to the bathroom.  But I have never forgotten.

2005:  Sugar, We're Going Down - Fall Out Boy
I was quite the Fall Out Boy enthusiast back when I was 15.  I would listen to them on my cd player (I wasn't cool enough to have an iPod yet) and hang the headphones around my neck so people would hear it and think I was all alternative - my favorite lyric was something like, "There's a ribbon on my wrist that says 'Do not open until Christmas."  ...Because self-harming was so cool?  Anyway.  My boyfriend at the time had a flip phone whose ring tone was a distorted version of "Sugar, We're Going Down," and I thought it was so cool.  I didn't get a cell phone until I was 16, so I was easily impressed.  This song was basically the soundtrack of the relationship, and now when I hear it I want to punch someone.  And that's all I have to say.  :)

On another note, my husband is still convinced that they are saying "Sugar wood."  He messes up song lyrics a lot...it's pretty cute.

2006:  Grillz - Nelly ft. Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp
Yes, this is the second Nelly song on this (continued) list.  (I also went to his concert one time, but I had a heart episode and had to leave...before my sister even got to see him perform "Hot in Herre"!)  To me, this song brings back haunting memories of gym class.  My P.E. teacher at the time must have had a mix cd full of different Nelly songs, and he would play it over the loudspeaker in the gym while we ran around playing dodgeball or kickball.  But the one I remember most is "Grillz."  The boys would strut around rapping about their "wife beats" and their "white tees", and the girls who were actually good at gym would bust out dance moves in between home run kicks.  I, however, was not good at gym.  I sucked at gym.  When we played dodgeball, I would get hit on purpose so that I could get out and go sit on the bleachers, and during kickball, I often lingered on bases to avoid running.  Every once in a while, if it was an activity I really hated (hockey and basketball come to mind), I would fake menstrual cramps, the classic girl's excuse.  When we were told we had to run the mile in under 12 minutes or run the risk of getting dropped a letter grade (harsh), I ran/walked the mile and clocked in at 11:59.  Behind literally everyone.  The athletic kids would get all pissed off at me if I bunted the kickball and slowly slouched over to the base, telling me I should at least try.  But I would just shrug and mouth the words at them:  "Da whole top's diamond and the bottom row's gold."

This is where our journey's gonna end today...I might continue this (yet again) later on.  :)  Thanks for tunin' in.


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Twelve Dates of Christmas Revisited

A little over a year ago, I posted about how I wanted to participate in a trend that was taking over the blog world called "Twelve Dates of Christmas."  This never actually happened.  I always have good intentions about carrying out plans, it's just that Netflix just always seems to take priority over said plans.  However, this winter, Husband and I have actually gotten around to fulfilling a few of those dates...better late than never?  The fact that we have gone out on dates at all is quite an accomplishment in itself - we're more of the staying-in-playing-video-games type of people.  The highlights of the winter dating spree thus far have been:

Countless Visits to Different Humane Societies/Shelters in the Area
This is one of my all-time favorite things to do!  There is no other feeling out there like the feeling of making a difference, and even if you're just taking one dog out on a walk or brushing one cat's fur, you've likely made that animal EXTREMELY happy.  I remember one day last month, Jared and I spent over two hours at the Humane Society just taking out dog after dog on a walk.  We like to take the ones that aren't as popular with most volunteers (a stubborn golden retriever or an energetic pit, for example) because it's those animals that need the most lovin'.  The gorgeous girl above is named Roxie, available at the PAWS Humane Society, and we absolutely fell in love with her.  More interested in giving cuddles and kisses than chasing a ball, this one.  I would go alone to the shelters to volunteer, for sure, but it's always nice to have someone there with you to share the joy in spending time with animals...and to pick up the poop.

Game Night
One night, after going out to eat, Jared and I decided to visit Gamers (because we're the biggest geeks that ever existed.)  I decided to pick one game, and he picked another, and then we took 'em both home and played for hours.  My choice was Adventure Island II for NES, which was clearly superior to Jared's choice of MarioKart for N64.  (Though most people would argue the opposite...I am complete garbage at racing games.)  Following that, we played a round or two of Just Dance and Glee Karaoke, and then we followed that up with Uno and Scattergories.  It was a relaxed, fun night, even though it did get a little heated at times because my husband is a sore loser.

The empty plastic ornaments were three dollars, and the paint pens were six, both at Michael's.  Mustache made by Jared, Riley + paw print made by Jared, printed lyrics to "I Believe in Santa Claus" by Kenny and Dolly by both of us, snowman and jelly beans by yours truly.  This was a super easy, cheap, and fun way to spend an evening.  I also kept spelling it "Clause" instead of "Claus"...I was all confused by that damn Tim Allen movie...and so we tried to turn the "e's" into poorly-drawn snowflakes.  

Trans-Siberian Orchestra:  The Lost Christmas Eve Tour
Following a slumber party at his parent's house with two shih-tzus, Jared and I went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert, which I had been wanting to attend for YEARS.  (The tickets were Jared's 1st anniversary gift to me, while I got him tickets to Valley Scare - first year is paper, y'know...) It was pretty amazing.  A little more singing and hair-flinging than I had anticipated...but still amazing.  Any concert that can make me want to play air-guitar to "Carol of the Bells" is pretty damn cool.

Vintage Christmas Shopping

I have a strong love for vintage Christmas ornaments, and that was the only thing our house was sorely lacking this years in terms of decoration.  This ornament I found at an amazing little vintage shop in downtown Cedar Falls is a near replica of an ornament my mom has, and I loovvvve it.  The starburst glasses were an impulse buy, but they look awesome in my glass case for dishes too pretty to use.  Jared doesn't enjoy shopping unless it's at Scheel's, so this was definitely more of a date for me...but he was a trooper, nodding politely at houndstooth-print wrapping paper and paint-by-numbers prints of kittens.  

Jammies for Riley!
Because there is not a whole lot cuter than a dog wearing onesie pajamas.  Please don't judge us because we are the type of people who purchase clothing for their dog.

Still to do:  hot chocolate drinking, Christmas-light-looking, and Christmas-Vacation-watching!  


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Two Loves of My Life

...are dogs...and books.  Shut your mouth.  I'm allowed to be a nerd.  Here are a couple of brief gift guides to satisfy the literary dog-lover in your life.  Or...treat yo'self to one of these fun items.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I myself have already ordered at least two of these things.

For the Lit Lovers:

Jane Austen library candle - This elegant-looking candle contains a quote from Jane Austen (or several other well-known authors), and it is scented with gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine.  For those of you freaks who like to sniff your books before you read them (holla!!! Me too!), there are some lovely book-scented candles/sprays out there as well.
Fuck Off, I'm Reading tee - For when you really, REALLY don't want to be disturbed while reading.  I can think of a few times this shirt would have come in handy for me.  (Coworkers:  there's a reason I go to my car to eat my lunch.  And Husband:  there's a reason the bedroom door is closed.  And the television off.)
Handmade Harry Potter notebooks - Any Harry Potter fans out there who also like to write?!  These notebooks are custom-made to look like Hogwarts textbooks.  Super nerdy, I understand, but also kind of awesome, no?  You can choose from things like "Spells and Charms" or "Defense Against the Dark Arts"!  :)  
Hundred Acre Wood pendant - Winnie the Pooh was one of my childhood favorites, and this cute pocket-watch-style pendant necklace pictures a "map" of the Hundred Acre Wood!
In the Night Kitchen tee - Out of Print clothing offers sooo many cute book-themed tshirts - this is just one of them.  Bonus:  it's a "banned book," ridiculously enough.  I guess it shows the little boy's CARTOON DRAWING penis.  God forbid.  Notice, though, that there's no genitalia on the shirt itself :)
Book-style tissue box - Okay, so, I don't know how useful a "tissue box" would actually be, but this is pretty darn cute.  On the side, it reads "Book of Tissue."

Dog Lovers Unite!:
BarkBox subscription - This box costs 12 bucks a month, and it is shipped to you monthly and contains lots of goodies for your pup!  The boxes can include things like organic dog treats, cleaning products, and different types of toys.  This is just like Birchbox, but for dogs, and I love the idea!  Plus, 10 percent of the proceeds go to animal rescue.
Shake by Carli Davidson - This is a hilarious photography book I hope will grace my coffee table one day!  It's full of cute photos of dogs mid-shake.
Handmade pit bull terrier necklace - I adore the idea of giving the world's most misunderstood breed some love.  This particular necklace is super colorful and made to look like a "Day of the Dead" style sugar skull.  Again, 10 percent of the proceeds are donated to pit bull rescue!
Custom pet sculpture - This Etsy artist sculpts a tiny totem of your pet using photos that you send her.  The result is a petite version of your dog - I would love one of these made to look like my dirty white dog, Riley!
Bloggers Love Dogs 2014 calendar - A beautiful calendar full of gorgeous photographs of dogs, taken by well-known bloggers.  ALL of the proceeds for this calendar are donated to the Humane Society of the United States!
Beautiful Old Dogs by David Tabatsky - This is one of the most moving photography books I have ever seen.  I own it, and by like page 3, I was bawling my eyes out.  Full of great pictures of senior dogs accompanied by emotional anecdotes. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

thnks fr th mmrs...Music Nostalgia Part 1

Fun fact:  Until I was literally like 14, my sister tape recorded me songs from the radio or her own tapes and made countless mix tapes for me.  (My first cd was long overdue, and the one I chose?  S Club 7.  Sigh.)  They started when I was around six years old, and each one had a personalized "title" - Angie always had her tapes titled with a lyric from one of the songs, and, believing my sister was the coolest thing ever (hee!), I chose to do the same.  I remember one mix tape in particular, I chose to title "Higher Than the Heavens Above," because it contained the song Emotions by Mariah Carey, which I adored and one time made my cousin Kyle listen to when we were like seven, believing he would be as moved by it as I was.  (He wasn't...he was just like, "Oh.")

When listening to these mix tapes, I can sometimes pinpoint things I was doing while each song was playing.  When I hear certain songs on the radio, I will immediately feel something like extreme nostalgia or extreme embarrassment, depending on the song and the memory it evokes.  For example, when I hear "Don't Let Me Get Me" by Pink, I am dancing around my old childhood home with a purple inflatable chair in the corner and a face mask drying on my face.  "Whoomp! There It Is" by Tag Team comes on, and I am doing gymnastics on a blanket in my living room while my mom watches and gets angry because she thinks she heard the word "ass".  (Which she didn't, I had the edited version...but had she listened closer, I know now, she had a right to be mad.  That song was filthy!) "All or Nothing" by O-Town? = Every middle school dance ever.

There is at least one song in the "top one hundred" list of each year that corresponds with a memory.  Please indulge me during this trip down memory lane....I'll start in 1996 - The Year of the First Mix Tape.

1996:  Don't Speak - Gwen Stefani
It was either this song or "Spiderwebs" that was one of my favorite songs on my first sister-made mixtape.  I was obsessed with it, and I vividly remember smashing my foam microphone into my lips while crooning "Hush, hush, don't tell me 'cuz it hurts!"  I didn't actually sing, mind you.  I just lipsynched.  It was honest-to-God one of my favorite pasttimes.  I would grab my mike or the nearest hairbrush and just friggin' jam, exaggerated facial expressions and all.  I did this in the car, out in public, in front of my parents.  Wherever.  I was super proud of my lipsynching/dancing abilities.  Don't act like you didn't do this.  You know you did.

Incidentally, somewhere during this era, I had a fuzzy purple notebook on a keychain, and on one of these pages, I wrote something like, "Hey gurl!  You're awesome! <3 Chelsea".  Why?  Well, because, I clearly remember pretending to sign an autograph and then toss it out into the "crowd" of fans.  Fantasy lipsynching?  It was my thing.

1997:  I'll Be Missing You - Puff Daddy
I loved this song solely for the Faith Evans part.  I always misheard Puffy as saying things like "We miss you, babe," and thinking, Wow.  He must have really loved this ex-girlfriend of his.  And finally my sister informed me that no, he was in fact, saying "Big."  "Big?  We miss you...Big?" I asked...I was so confused.  She took out the cd (or tape, whatever, I don't remember), Notorious B.I.G.  Oh.  Okay.  The song was a tribute.  But even today, it sounds to me like he's saying "babe."  No disrespect to Biggie.

1998:  The Boy is Mine - Brandy and Monica
I actually had the cassette single (remember those?) of this song, and it had a picture of Brandy and Monica glaring at each other looking particularly sassy and fierce on the cover.  When I had my friend Jordan over, we would fight about who would get to be Brandy and who would HAVE to be Monica...for some reason we favored Brandy here, though Monica was clearly superior.  And then we would lipsynch it, circling around each other and mouthing the words angrily.  (Yes, I lipsynched with friends.  It was the cool thing to do.)

1999:  I Try - Macy Gray
I hated this song when I was younger.  Actually, you know what?  I still hate it.  Macy Gray's voice just creeped me the eff out, and I used to do imitations of it to try and make my brother-in-law laugh.  I'm not giving this song any more credit by writing about it.

2000:  Bye Bye Bye - NSYNC
I was in 4th grade when this came out, and my jam at the time was more "It's Gonna be Me."  This is mostly because I received a note from my then-boyfriend that said, "Chelsea, I think we should have a song.  I think the song should be It's Gonna Be Me."  To which I most likely responded...OKAY!!!  (Even though I didn't realize at the time that this song is about a guy liking a girl who is with another guy.  And also my friend Heather and her 'boyfriend's' song was This I Promise You, which is clearly ten times more romantic.)  But I do remember being obsessed with the stomp/fist-pump dance move from the video of Bye Bye Bye.

Also, in sixth grade, my friends and I decided to dance to this song at our school's annual lipsynch contest.  (Apparently I am not the only one who loves to lipsynch.  My school dedicated an entire contest to it.)  Two years later, was this song still relevant?  Who knows.  We danced to it anyway, mainly just freestyling with an occasional "bye bye bye" wave like Justin does in the video.  I wore athletic swishy pants, my brother's football jersey, multiple sweatbands, and about a gallon of body and face glitter.  Our group's name?  Cosmic Crush.  My idea.  (I am cringing with embarrassment.)

2001:  Follow Me - Uncle Kracker
Though it feels to me like this song came out earlier than this, all I think of now when I hear it is chlorine, sun, and stinging eyes, because it was the anthem of the radio station whenever my friend Heather and I would go to the pool.  It comes on the radio to this day and I am thrown back to the days of running across hot pavement to get a push pop and giving peace signs across the pool to boys we thought were cute.  (Yes, peace signs.  They were my favorite around this era.  Because, girl powah.)

Also, this year's list was chock full of songs I used to sing on my karaoke machine.  (I upgraded from lipsynching.)  Also "Lady Marmalade", which I was obsessed with and had no idea it was inappropriate.

2002:  Hot in Herre - Nelly/Cleaning Out My Closet - Eminem
This year was a good year for rap.  I, for some reason, made it my goal to memorize both of these songs word for word and in their entirety.  I think I thought it would impress guys, or something.  (To be fair, I still break these songs out when I'm driving in the car with my husband.  And he's always impressed.)  But seriously, I had "Hot in Herre" on my karaoke cd, and I once performed it to a group of sleepover friends.  Hot in Herre.  I sang it.  To several girls.  I don't even know.  (On a side note, why is there two Rs in the word "here"?  I've never understood that.  I think it's a rapper thing.  Like, my stupid eighth-grade boyfriend who thought he was "gangsta" would call me "hott" in notes.  Is that a thing?)  As for Cleaning Out My Closet, I once sang the entire song to the cutest guy in our class while riding in the back of a limousine.  Whoever sold the most magazines got to ride in a limo to Pizza Hut.  It was quite the prize.  And apparently I thought the best way to celebrate would be to rap some Eminem?

Eh, we're gonna break this bad boy up into sections.  I hadn't anticipated it being so long...I'm so old!  There are so many years to cover!!

To be continued.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Movies/Specials I Can't Live Without

I am currently trying to drag myself away from American Horror Story Asylum (which JUST got added to Netflix, by the way!) in order to write this post.  Not very Christmasy of me, I know, but it's pretty awesome nonetheless.  Jessica Lange can do no wrong.  I'll try to focus on this list rather than skin-mask-wearing murderers for now, but no guarantees.

5.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I don't know how people don't like this movie.  Yes, the cartoon version is a classic, without a doubt.  And I'm as tired of Jim Carrey as much as the next person.  But he pulled this role off.  When this was in theaters, I went five times.  Including once after Christmas, when no one else was in the theaters.  There's just nothing bad about this movie - except maybe the Faith Hill song in the end credits.  I may even tear up a few times...because God dammit, my heart grows three sizes when I watch it!

4.  Just Friends
I guess this isn't technically a Christmas movie, but it's definitely Christmas...oriented?  Ryan Reynolds (better known to me now as 'Chubby Bunny') is a god among men, and his high school infatuation with his "just friend" Jamie - played by Amy Smart - lingers around until he is a nerd no more and comes back for Christmas.  Anna Faris plays a dumb but hilarious role (let's face it, has she ever played anything other than that?) as Samantha, Chubby Bunny's annoying client.  It's just a fun, silly movie that simply isn't given enough credit.  Citizen Kane it is not.  But steer clear of Anna Faris movies if "smart" plotlines are what you're looking for.  The only thing I dislike about this movie is Amy Smart's character...she throws herself all over Chris (Ryan Reynolds) and like...writhes around on his lap and wrestles with him, but oh.  They're just "friends."  Okay, Jamie Pal, okay.

3.  The PeeWee's Playhouse Christmas Special
You should first note that this video is the entire episode.  You're welcome.  I'm so jealous of you; I wish I could watch this again for the first time ever.  There really aren't enough words to describe this Christmas special.  Here are a few:  Oprah Winfrey with her 80s hair, Annette Funicello with green teeth, three elderly women wearing booty shorts and go go boots (they have an official 'band' name, but it's unimportant for our purposes), a screaming Charo, the always-inappropriate Miss Yvonne, plus Chairy, Konky, and the whole gang.  Oh, and Cher.  I can't even think about this Christmas special without giggling.

2.  Home Alone
I love the second movie nearly as much as the first, but we'll just consolidate them into one, because it's basically the same movie except in New York.  (I refuse to acknowledge Home Alone 3, 4, and 5.)  A couple of things related to this movie:  1.  Even though most people think Kevin is kind of a shithead, I just think he's hilarious.  When he says to his mom, "I am upstairs, dummy," I usually pee in my pants a little bit because he's so awesome.  I wish I was Kevin.  Or any of the McAllisters, really - look at their house!  2.  Sometimes my sister says to me, "You are what the French call 'les incompetent."  Like when I don't know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, make it successfully to my grandma's house without needing directions, or pack a suitcase.  (Though, to be realistic, why are they making him pack his own suitcase?  When I was 8, I certainly didn't know how to pack a suitcase.  I kind of still don't know how to pack a suitcase.  Suitcase.)  It hurts.  3.  I once worked at a video store.  While employed there, I worked with a guy named Kevin.  When he was hired, I felt so much joy inside...because if he messed up, I could say to him..."Kevin, you are such a disease."  And I did say it.  A lot.  In fact, I think he kind of hated me as a result.  ...Worth it.

Also, this is hilarious.

1.  Christmas Vacation
This movie definitely withstands the test of time.  It is still hilarious.  "And why is the floor all wet, Todd?" is still hilarious.  "Shitter was full!" is still hilarious.  "Don't throw me down, Clark," is probably the most hilarious of all, because Aunt Bethany is freaking adorable.  Also, my dad is Clark Griswold.  (Except for the corniness, and the pervertedness toward salesladies in the lingerie department.  Let's hope.)  My dad has totally stapled his shirtsleeve to a wall, and that whole ladder-falling-on-him thing has totally happened.  I'm sure he also mutters and gets inordinately angry with Christmas lights that aren't cooperating.  Also he likes eggnog (but when he drinks it, he doesn't whisper, "It's good.  It's good," in a really creepy way like "Sparky" does.  Just so you know.)

Honorable mentions go to Elf (I love me some Will Ferrell, but it's gotten a little old over the years.  Also Zooey Deschanel with blonde hair scares me a little.), Christmas Story (you'll shoot your eye out, kid!  Also, how rude is it when Santa pushes Ralphie down the slide with his boot on his forehead?!  Who does that?!), The Polar Express, Christmas With the Kranks, and A Charlie Brown Christmas (I <3 Pigpen).

Okay, back to my episode of American Horror Story!  Netflix is the best :)


Thursday, December 5, 2013

If I Was a Rich Girl...Plus a Few Randoms!

I wish I could say that my family was low-key about Christmas gifts.  But, y'know...that would be a giant lie.  We aren't low-key.  At all.  My mom tends to go completely overboard and give us way more than anyone deserves - we're pretty spoiled when it comes to Christmas.  (Sometimes...when she thinks one of us has gotten fewer presents than everyone else...she'll go to her bedroom and creep back out with two more plastic-sack-wrapped gifts that she "forgot about."  Oh, Mom.)  Of course we know that Christmas isn't about gifts.  But we love giving them anyway just to see the look on the person's face when they open them.  (Our faces, by the way, are nearly always excited and happy, except the year my sister gave me a gift that an actual giant black spider jumped out of.  I still remember what the gift was, it was so traumatizing - it was a mirror that said "Rockstar" at the top.  Because I was such a rockstar in my Gap tshirts and lace-up bellbottoms.)

Christmas is one of the few occasions when you're encouraged to act like a child and get caught all up in the holiday.  Why not go nuts?  A girl can dream, and these are all gifts that I've been dreaming about for years.  Consider it a wish list for if I win the lottery one day.

(left to right)

Lomography Diana F+ Medium Format Camera - I have always wanted to get into photography.  (I took a couple photography courses in high school, but we were constantly running out of photo paper...so we got a free period most of the time instead.  I usually left and went tanning.  Let's face it, my whole senior year was a crapshoot.)  This adorable little toy camera would be a fun way to venture into the photography world.  I hear that with these cameras, you never know exactly how your pictures are going to turn out - risky, but often a fun surprise! Amazon, $39.95

Harry Potter Scene It:  The Complete Cinematic Journey - Right now, I own Scene It board games for Friends, The Office, and Disney movies.  While I'm pretty decent at movie trivia in general, I am fully confident that I could kick anyone's ass at the Harry Potter Scene It.  (Jared and I, for whatever reason, fall asleep with these movies as the soundtrack more often than not, and lots of times, I'll wake up with "I killed Sirius Black, I killed Sirius Black!" or "Yer a wizard, Harry..." ringing in my head.)  If this wasn't so inexplicably pricey, it would be on my game shelf right now.  Amazon, $61.75

Patrick Eats His Dinner by Geoffrey Hayes - This book is kind of a cult-ish classic with my family (along with Tan Tan's Hat, Labyrinth, and PeeWee's Big Adventure).  I'm not sure why, but we enjoy quoting it ("Little green balls of mushy poison") and then giggling like it's hilarious.  I remember reading it a lot when I was little-little, and all of a sudden, it became something of a collector's item.  Impossible to track down at any library, and super expensive on Amazon.  I would love to have this.  Amazon, around $175.00

Whatever:  The 90s Pop Culture Box - Like the many others around the Internet, I adore 90s culture.  Don't we all love the decade we grew up in?  For me, Gelly Roll pens, NSYNC, Boy Meets World, slap bracelets...they all evoke some part of childhood that I really miss.  This box contains 7 cds chock full of the music that defined the decade.  There are two other boxes (70s and 80s) which are said to be much better compilations, but I think these cds would bring back some fond memories for me.  (Like when my sister would listen to "What's Up" by 4 Non Blondes and I would think she was so cool and alternative - ha! - or how my mom would get mad when I listened to "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks.)

Demeter Fragrance in Suntan Lotion - The Demeter line carries sooo many fragrances that are completely unique, including Play-Doh, grass, and even...cannabis.  (Which, incidentally, I pronounced "ka-KNOB-ees" until...like two years ago.  No joke.  Eh, whatever.  Hugs, not drugs.)  My favorite scent, though, would be suntan lotion, which I haven't tried yet.  The website describes it as a classic "Coppertone" scent, which I can definitely get behind.  I also had a Bath and Body Works Wallflower in my bathroom that I think was called "Suntan" which evoked SO many memories every time I went to go pee.  Memories of my mom's favorite rainbow-colored pool float and the concession stand by the lake fondly referred to as the "Sugar Shack."  I'm hoping this would smell like that.  Demeter, $20 for a small bottle of perfume

Giant fireplace mantel - I have never actually come across one of these for sale, but when I came across this story on Apartment Therapy, I fell in love.  How cool would it be to have a big old fireplace mantel in your living room without the hassle (and cost) of lighting it?  (You don't think so?  Just me?)  Anyway, I think it would be super fun, and I would have a blast decorating the mantel for the holidays and filling the space where a "fire" would go with all sorts of stuff!  

nuLOOM Hand-Hooked Alexa Moroccan Trellis Wool Rug - I have wanted a printed rug like this for such a long time...the only problem is, we have nowhere to put it.  Our house is so full of crap and vintage knick-knacks I almost can't stand it, and our floors are mostly carpeted, anyway.  I dream of one day having a house with hardwood floors where one of these can cover the creaky boards.  Also, there is an EXCELLENT knockoff of this rug that can be found at Target!  Overstock, $142.00

Olivia Star Indoor/Outdoor Pendant light - I love unique lighting fixtures, and this one would look amazing hanging in an entryway.  I got the idea from 7th House on the Left, which is one of my VERY FAVORITE home decor/DIY blogs.  I get so many decorating ideas from here.  Pottery Barn, $149.00

What do you think, Santa?  I've been an awful good girl.  (Not really.  I have just been average.)

Also, another gift that I would be thankful for any day of the year?  Donations to the Humane Society of North Iowa or the PAWS Humane Society located in Charles City.  The animals found there need more love and care than any of us.

A random item I wanted to share:

How similar is this little hedgehog (right) that my mom made to the Anthropologie one I posted about last week?!  It is made from a recycled book and holds pictures/papers instead of pencils :)  I went over to my parent's house yesterday and it was just sitting on the counter - Mom works in the children's department at a public library, and she is forever doing crafts with the kids.  This is one of 'em, and I got to keep the result!  :)  I love the little guy.

One more random thing:

I would like to once again reiterate how amazing I think Emily McDowell's prints are.  These should be hung straight above my desk where I will see them (hopefully therefore living by them) every single day.  I am constantly afraid of things.  I'm afraid of change, of leaving things behind, of starting new things, of not being good enough.  Constantly worrying about how other people view me, about whether I am hated by former coworkers and friends that I'm no longer in touch with, about my life not being as fulfilling as others'.  I am one big mess of worry and fear and anxiety.  If I was a Mister (of the Little Mister and Miss books...), I would be that pink one that just looks like scribbles of crazy stress.  If I was a color, I would be dark red because that's the color I see when I hyperventilate.  If I was a celebrity, I'd be Amanda Bynes because I feel like the biggest mess on the planet more often than I don't.  I hope I'm not the only one.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Cure for the Blues?

*Trader Joe's frozen chocolate croissants.  You have to let them rise overnight, but it's worth the few extra hours.  These are especially good straight out of the oven, eaten while simultaneously crying and watching a sappy ABC Family Christmas movie.  (Not that I speak from experience, or anything...)

*Watch sappy ABC Family Christmas movies with your Christmas tree all lit up in the corner.  I don't know what it is about a lit-up Christmas tree...it just makes me happy.  Also, go for the Amy Smart + Zack Morris Christmas movie, NOT the Melissa Joan Hart + AC Slater one.  Trust me on this.

*Pet a dog.  Or cat.  Or bunny.  Seriously, studies show that just petting a dog can release all sorts of positive chemicals in your brain!  (I'm not going to include these studies, no, but just know that they're out there.)  When I go to the humane society and play fetch with my favorite pups, I NEVER go home feeling grumpy or sad.  EVER.  Best feeling ever.

*Crafts.  Preferably something involving glitter or metallic spray paint.  Making something pretty always improves my mood.  Last night, I painted wooden letters spelling "JOY" using metallic puff paints.  So there's that.

*Cold shower, then popcorn, then multiple episodes of SpongeBob.  (If you happen to have NCS, this works wonders as well :) The more salt, the better.)  When watching SpongeBob, any episode will do to cheer you up - let's face it, there is no being sad when accompanied by Patrick Star and the gang - but I prefer to stick to seasons 1-6.  I recommend the episode "Ripped Pants."

*Go to bed.  Seriously, just go to bed.  If you have a sleeping mask and the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, all the better.  I don't know how many times I have had a raging migraine or a case of the Debbie Downers when the only thing that really makes it go away is to go to sleep.  When you wake up in the morning, everything seems better.  Or at least not as bad.

*Turn on a loud rap song, the nastier the better.  I myself enjoy Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up".  Dance ghetto at your dog and make him stare at you while tilting his head.  Repeat until you're cheered up.

*Watch a good show marathon-style.  I like Oddities (it's like American Pickers for weirdos - check it out on Netflix!) and America's Next Top Model.  (Shut up.)

*Online shop.  Have no regrets.  In other words, Treat Yo'Self.

*Paint your nails fun colors.  Actually, don't.  Don't do this - painting my nails always pisses me off.  There's always smudges within like two seconds.  Paint your toenails.  That's easier.

*Buy fashion magazines and read them standing up in the kitchen while eating graham crackers.  Watch infomercials while moisturizing your hands.  Examine your pores for an hour in a magnifying mirror.  Watch Sex and the City so you know what I'm talking about.

*Go to Barnes and Noble and allow yourself three novels/memoirs/magazines, whatever floats your boat.  Luxuriate in the bathtub and read.  Is luxuriate a word?

*Play The Unfinished Swan.  Seriously.

*Know that no matter what, it could always be worse.  Know that someone, somewhere, would probably give anything to be in your shoes right now.  Know that regardless of what is happening in your life right now, you are lucky.  Lucky!  And know that even if you feel fat, or you feel like everyone is moving forward while you're in a freeze-frame, or you don't really know what the hell you're doing in life...it'll be all right.  It's always all right.


Monday, December 2, 2013

My List of Highly Underrated (or Unknown) Movies

I live with a man who has never seen Grease, The Wizard of Oz, or, prior to last month, Billy Madison.  This is a guy who, when I talked about Gone with the Wind and how I loved it, responded with, "What's so great about it?  Isn't it about, like...horses?"  It's needless to say that the list I made of movies for us to watch together spanned more than just a couple of pages.  So when we finally watched Labyrinth together (one of my favorite childhood movies), my hopes were high.  Unfortunately, he fell asleep less than halfway through it.  I don't know who could fall asleep while David Bowie is singing about stealing babies.  His argument was that I have poor taste in movies, but my argument was that I just see the value in all sorts of underrated movies, while he does not!  And I shouldn't listen to someone who claims his favorite movie is Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween.

Anyway.  The following are movies which I absolutely LOVE but which get almost no credit, in my opinion - not just from my horror-movie-obsessed husband, either.  If you haven't seen these movies, get 'em on your list - they're great!! (All videos from youtube)

500 Days of Summer
This movie sparked my love for all things Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Zooey Deschanel (who I also love, and who is rocking some cute bangs and outfits in this movie) plays Summer, a girl who "doesn't believe in love."  JGL plays Tom, who falls for her.  I don't love Zooey's character in this movie, but that's basically the only thing I don't love about it.  It is probably the most creative movie I have ever seen, in terms of the way they shot it.  Chloe Moretz also plays Tom's badass little sister, and the movie has an amazing soundtrack.  I just can't even say enough good things about this movie.  Go watch it!

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
I'm actually not sure if this movie is underrated or not, because honestly, it's kind of a piece of crap.  But it's funny, campy, 1989 awesomeness, and I love it.  Bill and Ted are like the poor man's Wayne and Garth, and somehow, they manage to travel through time collecting historical figures (including Beethoven and Socrates) for their school's history project.  It's just fun.  "Be excellent to each other."  :)  Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, though?  Not so excellent.

Blue Valentine
Michelle Williams got an Oscar nod for her role in this movie, and while her acting was definitely amazing, I thought Ryan Gosling got the shaft.  He was SO GOOD in his role of a tired, run-down father and husband that he made me cry, like, three different times!  Michelle's character was kind of a bitch, to be honest.  This movie has too many feelings for me, but you should definitely give it a try.  It's worth it just for the scene where Mr. Gosling plays the ukelele and sings while Michelle dances.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Rodrick Rules
Let's get one thing straight up front:  I HATED the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  HATED IT.  I thought the main character was a dickhead (if I'm allowed to say that about a child) and wasn't "wimpy" at all - he was just a bully asshole.  Okay.  Now that that's cleared up, I loved its sequel.  For whatever reason, I found this movie absolutely hilarious.  I don't know if it's because the chubby friend lip synchs to Tik Tok, or because the main character "poops his pants" at church.  Probably both.  This kid's movie made me laugh out loud, which rarely happens!

Dirty Girl
This little-known campy treasure is more of a drama than a comedy, but it's soooo funny to me.  It's set in 1987, so needless to say, it has a great soundtrack.  Danielle and her new, closeted gay friend Clark are going on a road trip to find Danielle's father.  It's equal parts funny, sweet, and sad, and there's a male stripper scene (at a drive-in movie, no less) that can't be beat.  :)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
This movie is all in French, but don't be put off by the subtitles!  This is a true story about the former Elle editor, Jean Bauby, who suffers a stroke and becomes completely paralyzed.  His left eye is the only thing that he can move, and with it, he learns to communicate.  It is amazing and horribly, horribly sad.  Definitely worth the watch, but make sure to have lots of tissues handy.

Eight Below
Since the news of Paul Walker's death, I have been wanting to watch one of his movies.  I'm not a fan of the Fast and Furious series, but I love Eight Below.  Dogs are very close to my heart, and this movie is about what happens to them when two Antarctic explorers have to leave them to fend for themselves.  Sweet, sad, and touching; I think it is one of Paul Walker's best.

I don't understand why this movie wasn't more popular than it was.  Starring a young Reese Witherspoon and a sexy, sexy Mark Wahlberg, this movie is about a scarily-abusive relationship.  

Going the Distance
This romantic comedy stars Justin Long and Drew Barrymore.  I have no idea why it's not more popular than it is.  It is more raunchy than most romantic comedies, but I thought it was a helluva lot more funny too!  I don't like Justin Long at all, but I was willing to overlook his feminine mouth for this hilarious movie about a long-distance relationship.

Again, since dogs are so close to my heart, I included this sweet true story about a dog who is faithful to his owner, even after extreme circumstances part them.  Richard Gere plays a college professor who rescues Hachi and forms an amazing bond with him.  Grab tissues on this one.  :(

I don't normally enjoy documentaries that much, but this was a great one.  It was all about what constitutes happiness in different places around the world, and how some countries can need so little and still be so so happy.  It was inspiring and uplifting, but I guess it has to be with a title like "Happy."

Hot Rod
Rod (Andy Samberg) is a stuntman who isn't so great at his job.  That is the premise of this movie that makes me pee my pants laughing.  The first time I watched it, I hated it, but it only gets better the more you watch it, so give it a chance!  It is definitely dumb humor, so you have to watch it with pretty unsophisticated expectations.  This is probably one of my favorite movies of all time.

The Impossible
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor are FANTASTIC in this fist-clenching movie about the 2004 tsunami off the coast of Thailand.  A true story, it's all about what happens when one family gets separated from one another in the tragedy.  It's emotional and it makes your pulse race.  The three young boys put on a wonderful performance as well.

Okay, I haven't seen this one in quite some time, so forgive me if you watch it and it sucks.  Based on Shakespeare's Othello, this movie stars Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett.  It centers around a high school basketball player and the lengths his friend will go to in order to manipulate him.  Pretty dramatic stuff.

The Orphanage
This Spanish ghost story is the work of Guillermo del Toro.  Again, don't let the subtitles deter you - it's a pretty terrifying movie.  A woman moves back to her childhood orphanage with her son, who begins communicating with an unseen friend.  It sounds cliched, but del Toro does something really unexpected with the typical ghost story.  I love this.

Pan's Labyrinth
Another Spanish subtitled film by Guillermo del Toro, and I love this one just as much.  A spooky tale about a stepdaughter of an awful army officer who steps into a fantasy world to escape.  Creepy and strange and awesome!

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Based on the true story of a 1950s housewife who wins contests in order to support her ten children.  Starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, who does an impeccable job in the role of a reluctant, grumpy husband.  This movie captivated me.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
This movie stars the adorable Michael Cera, who must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in order to win her heart.  Silly and fun, with tons of video game references.

This fun summertime movie was filmed in 1989 but set in swingin' sixties Myrtle Beach.  Four girlfriends head to Myrtle Beach for an irresponsible weekend of boys and drinking.  Starring Bridget Fonda and Phoebe Cates.  I love the fashion and music of this movie; it always perks me up when I feel down.

The Slammin' Salmon
Brought to you by the same guys who made Super Troopers, this movie is a not-quite-as-good version of Waiting.  A group of waiters decide to see who can make the most money in one night.  Hijinks ensue, etc.  The late, great Michael Clarke Duncan plays the owner of the restaurant.  It's a pretty dumb movie, but there are some parts that I find hilarious!

This movie is based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, and I actually enjoyed the movie better, for once.  It stars Claire Danes, Ewan McGregor, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert DeNiro, and the plot is absolutely magical!  Ewan McGregor's character ventures past the wall that separates our world from a magical realm, and he runs into a fallen star (Claire Danes).  I loved this.  It's like a grown up fairy tale.

Stir of Echoes
This horror/suspense movie goes largely unnoticed, and I don't know why, because I think it's great!  Kevin Bacon plays a guy who, once hypnotized, finds himself seeing things that other people don't.  A young girl begins appearing to him, and he finds himself trying to resolve the mystery that surrounds her.  I think it's an awesome plot, and the little boy who plays Kevin Bacon's son is frigging adorable.

Okay.  Don't judge me for liking this movie.  I don't even know why.  It is so cheesy and campy and fun that I can't help but love it.  Two guys and a girl end up roomed together in a college dorm.  At first, things are awkward between them.  But then the three become close friends...and maybe a bit more?  Sigh.  It's just fun.

Willard has some kind of bond with rats, and he uses them to fulfill his sociopathic wishes.  I don't really know how to explain this movie.  It's very weird, and Crispin Glover creeps me the eff out as Willard.  Watch this wanting to laugh at it.  Watched while in a good mood, it's super fun, if a bit creepy.

Yes Man
I grow tired of Jim Carrey quickly, and him and Zooey Deschanel do NOT a couple make.  Put those things aside, and I really love this movie.  It was kind of a box office flop, but it inspires me - basically, Jim Carrey's character makes a pact to say "yes" to everything for a year.  It made me want to go, like, rock climbing and do karaoke and stuff.  

I'm sure there are more, but I think I have gone on for long enough!  I think all of these movies deserve more recognition than they were given.  Give them a shot if you're bored and see how you like 'em!