Going for the gold

CSP & I have been in a race since late September.  We’ve been racing to see who could earn their Starbucks Gold Card first.  He won.  He flashed that thing around at Christmas like a newly engaged girl showing off her engagement ring.  You’d think he’d been given a free pass to the Playboy mansion.  If you aren’t familiar with the program you register a gift card online then keep reloading it.  Each time you visit Starbucks you earn a star.  He goes about every day as there is a Starbucks right next door to his work.  Plus he just gets the tall coffee of the day so it’s just a dollar or so.  Me, I don’t drink coffee.  I sure do like their fancy $900 drinks though.  White Peppermint Mocha, that caramel apple cider thing, and my new favorite: salted caramel hot chocolate.  YUM.  I have the app on my iPhone and it is pretty fun seeing my iconic Starbucks cup fill up with little gold stars.  There’s a satisfying ding each time one goes in.  I finally earned my 30th star today. I can’t wait for my card to come so I can be as cool as CSP.  Oh, so why is it a big deal to get the gold card?  You get all sorts of freebies.  Free refills on coffee and tea, free shots of flavor, free drinks on your birthday and throughout the year.  And it only costs like $1738 for your free drink.  I kid, I kid.  You can reload your card on your phone which is cool.  Oh, and a Starbucks girl told me a secret.  If you’re buying more than one thing have them ring them up separately and you’ll get a star for each transaction.  Nice!  I love getting the inside scoop!

Southern White Christmas

This Christmas was the first White Christmas that Charlotte has experienced since 1947! Lonely Christmas tree on the Christmas tree lot.  You can just make out the lights It didn’t start snowing where we were until dinner, but hey- that still counts!  The day after Christmas, Boxing Day for our Canadian friends, CSP, Zoe, and I went out to look at the snow. Zoe's ready to go see the snow! We got about 3.5-4 inches in our little suburb but in our old neck of the woods they got over 5 inches!  That might not seem like a lot to some of you but that’s a big deal in Charlotte and an even bigger deal that it was on Christmas!  Plus it was floofy snow.  We usually get an ice/snow mix so it was great to have the fluffy stuff.

Here’s our snowy house :Our snowy house There’s a farm down the street from us where they turned their hay bales into a big angel!  At night his halo and wings light up.  So fun! Love this hay guy!  All dusted with snow! Snow makes even the normally boring drive to Starbucks pretty: Everything's prettier in the snow! Even the drive to Starbucks! CLick on all the pics to enlarge. When we returned home we took the pugs out to the back patio to see how they’d like the snow. Apparently pugs are not snow dogs! At least ours aren’t! Zoe was determined to keep at least one paw out of the white stuff: Zoe figures if she can keep that ONE paw in the air then she's won the battle of snow vs. pug. Kiki was kind of bored with the whole thing: Hmm, snow is cold noms. And Molly was the most pitiful of all! Molly is NOT a snow pug The snow started melting that day and was completely gone within a few days but it was sure fun while it lasted! If you’d like to see more pictures click here.

Christmas 2010

I confess I was a terrible photographer this year.  For one my ISO sensitivity was set too high on my camera and I forgot to change it so all my pics are WAY noisy.  Sigh. Also, I was having too much fun to take pictures!  This was the first year we split Christmas day.  CSP had to work late on Christmas Eve and didn’t get home til past 8 pm.  Normally this would be the year his parents would be with us on Christmas Eve but with CSP’s schedule and the fact that they live an hour away we just pushed the visit to Christmas day.  Early Christmas day CSP had to get up at the crack of dawn and go BACK into work 😦 for a couple hours.  He is a grocery store manager and on days the store is closed they still have to check the freezers to make sure they don’t lose product.  Sure enough he lost a case and had to spend way more time there than we’d thought cause he had to pull all the product and get it into another freezer so they wouldn’t lose it.  I’m so thankful CSP has a good job but it sure can make the holidays a bit of a mess!  He didn’t get home til well past when I thought we’d be at my sister’s house.  So we quickly loaded the car and hit the road.

We missed breakfast but were in time for lunch, presents and Dirty Santa. We brought Jake and Joey a soccer goal that had to be opened in the garage. Papa & Sara help Jake open the soccer goal CSP & I gave him & Joey for Christmas But we did end up inside too. Jake, Joey & Papa around the Christmas tree at Marc & Sara's Momo is such a trooper.  She’s still in pain from her hernia surgery last week and has a swollen spot the size of a large lemon (looks like she’s smuggling fruit in her pants!) but she hung in there! Momo I made yummy Spiced Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins. It was my first attempt at stuffing a muffin and they turned out great! I made yummy Spiced Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins I’ll post the recipe soon.

I can’t believe it but I’d never played Dirty Santa before!  At least that I can remember.  It was so fun!  Gigi provided all the gifts since it was a surprise to the rest of us that we’d be playing.  Most of the presents were for the boys and that was just fine- it was more fun stealing presents than actually getting a present!  There were 9 of us and most of us are super competitive, watch out on game night!   Papa opened his first and it was a Jacob’s ladder.  He instantly wanted to trade that bad boy in and when everyone else would be deciding he would chant behind us “Jacob ladder.  Jacob ladder.”  He kept forgetting the ‘s.  Marc chose to open a present and wound up with a box of candles.  He was trying to read the box to find out what scent but some of it was in French.  He said “Ooh citronella!  Citronella is French for creamy!”  Bahahaha!!

We left Sara’s at about 4 and swung back by our house before heading out to CSP’s parents’ house.  We ran in, grabbed presents and Zoe and hit the road.  Zoe is still in a crate when we’re gone and we didn’t want her spending all day and night in there!  We made good time and beat the snow.  Whew!  CSP was seriously sweating the weather on the way there. In-laws' tree CSP was worried about the snow that had been predicted so our time at his parents’ was shorter than planned.  We opened presents first then had a wonderful dinner.  WHO KNEW that the hit gift of the night would be the one I spent the least amount of money on?   You can go online and spend about $10 each on one of these.  OR you can do like I did and buy a full dozen at the Dollar Tree!  Everyone on my list (who drives) received one of these and they are raving!  I know I LOVE mine.  I have short arms, yo!  I keep one in each car and one in the house for cleaning tall mirrors, windows, the tv, etc.  LOVE.   Everyone also like their Scentsy plug ins.  I just love when people love the gifts I give them!  Instead of wrapping paper or gift bags this year I used reusable grocery/tote bags to package up my presents.  Going green at Christmas!

Dinner was fabulous as usual.  My in-laws and my aunt and uncle are all serious foodies.  You’re not gonna get tv dinners over there!  They made Beef Wellington.  I’ve always heard Gordon Ramsay yell about it on Hell’s Kitchen but I’d never tried it.  It was so neat!  Looked like a little meat present on my plate. Beef Wellington for Christmas dinner.  Side dishes not pictured but nommed. CSP loved it so much he ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning! Dessert was creme puffs. Mom of CSP made cream puffs for Christmas dinner dessert One had egg nog whipped cream inside and the other had peppermint ice cream with hot fudge. We went home with full bellies to say the least!  Zoe was on her best behavior all night and slept like a log when we got home.  She just has the best time when she can go visit people and get some loving.  6 humans to love on one little pug= heaven for her!

CSP turns 39!

CSP's birthday cake- the Univ of Minnesota logo- by Mom of CSP CSP’s parents came over yesterday to celebrate his 39th birthday.   CSP’s Mom made this cake/giant cookie combo in the spirit of the University of Minnesota (CSP’s favorite college football team– they are from MN).  His parents made us yummy beer cheese soup & beef stroganoff – CSP’s favorite meal that his parents chef up.  The plan was to watch the Minnesota Vikings game on tv but the Metrodome collapsed under the weight of all the snow they’ve been getting lately!   Look how cute my boy is holding up his new Minnesota pullover.CSP loves his new pullover! I wonder what he’s wishing for? Making a wish! More pics here.

I am a siren of the sea

Behold!  On the left is my new favorite fingernail polish.  The brands don’t matter here.  It’s the color that matters.  My favorite Christmas colors are purple, aqua, lime green & hot pink so I wanted to paint my nails to be festive.  The purple is Sally Hansen.  It’s a deep purple with a bluish tint.  Kinda what I picture that indigo to be in ROYGBIV.  Makes me feel far more edgy and hip than I am.  I’d show you a picture of my actual stubby little fingers but my manicure is chipped right awful from all this unpacking.  I’m just not made for manual labor!

On the right is my new favorite toe nail polish.  Yes I know it’s December but unpainted toe nails give me the creeps. It’s a super glittery aqua.  I got it in a cheap 4 pack while looking for the perfect purple.  The “purple” in the multipack was really a blue parading around as purple.  The brand is LA Colors and I got it at CVS for like $3 for the 4 pack.  I was a little worried that I might be too pale to pull off such dark and bold colors but I think they work.  I’d show you a pic of my actual toes but who really likes to look at other people’s toes except for toe pervs?  Plus my left big toe is all wonky since I had an ingrown toenail taken care of an all he left me was a tiny sliver of a nail.  Sadist! Conservative CSP was appropriately shocked and dismayed and cried “GREEEEEN????” when he saw my toes as if it was the end of the world as he knows it.  I corrected him that it is NOT green but a lovely aqua.  It makes me feel like a mermaid. And who doesn’t want to be a mermaid?

My gift to you

If I was independently wealthy then I’d buy all my peeps iPhones and iPads for Christmas.  Alas this is not the case.  So instead I will give to you free Apps that you will love and that will no doubt change your life for the better.  Huzzah!  Now, first understand that I do not get paid or receive any swag from any of my endorsements (not that I’d turn it down- I love presents!).  I just love to share things I love!

This week let me tell you about Waze.  Waze is a free app for iPhone,  Android, Blackberry and other smart phones.  It’s a GPS service that is also social.  It offers turn by turn directions and users submit traffic alerts in real time.  I have one of those FM transmitter things that I use to plug my iPhone into my car.  It allows me to listen to the music on the iPod part of my phone through my car speakers.  While I’m driving and listening to music I’ll also have Waze running.  When it’s time to turn the music will go quiet for a second and Miss Waze will come through my speakers and say “In half a mile turn right.”  It’s so awesome.  I don’t have to take my eyes off the road to look at a map.  I don’t have to switch back and forth between the iPod and Waze apps.  It all works together.  And I don’t have to listen to annoying talk radio to get traffic alerts.  Because users send in alerts in real time I usually hear about accidents or construction before it is reported on the radio.  Fab.   You can join a group on Waze to get more specific info.  For instance there are groups based on geographic location.  Charlotte is made up of tons of neighborhoods and has lots of suburbs.  I am a member of a few different groups based on geographic criteria so when I’m out and about I’ll get alerts on my phone that are specific to those groups.  You can ping other users that you can see on the live map and ask questions or just chat.  There is a Foursquare badge you can earn using Waze, and you can check in on Foursquare without ever leaving the Waze app.   You also earn points and there is a leader board for friendly competition.  Waze is on Twitter so if you have any questions you can ask via Twitter and they are super quick at getting back to you.  On the main Waze website there’s a forum and support area as well.   Waze is global so you don’t have to live or be in the US of A to enjoy it.  Now, go join up on Waze so I can earn extra points by referring you!  Oh, and so you’ll never get lost again.  That’s more important.  But the points are nice too! 🙂

I can’t believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year already!

While I am anti Christmas songs pre-Thanksgiving, it is Christmas card list making time again!  Now, I can’t promise that I’ll actually be able to find my Christmas cards in the sea of boxes in the garage, take a cute Christmas themed pic of the pugs &/or us, and get my long list of Christmas cards filled out and mailed in time for them to arrive before 2011.  But I sure will try.  If you’d like to be on the receiving end of some of my paper based holiday cheer then be sure to email me with your address if I don’t have it.  hey shanny at gmail dot com.  No spaces.  If you aren’t sure if I have your current address then go ahead for safety’s sake and send it to me.  If I have not sent you my new address and you’d like it, please let me know.  I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week already!  Then Christmas season will be here!  Help me prepare!  Don’t dilly or dally!