Monthly Archives: December 2012

Next Week: T is for Tourist Trap

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timessquareLAST POST OF 2012!!!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh….FREAK OUT!!!!

I can’t believe it’s New Years Eve.  I’m not going to post about “Oh what a year it was, let’s reflect.”  You all know what kind of crazy year it’s been for me.  Let’s not rehash it.  🙂

I’m excited for 2013, though.  There’s something final about taking that calendar off the wall and thinking to yourself, “That was last year.  This is this year”.  A whole new year of laughter, tears, problems, and praise.  I can hardly wait to screw it all up. 😀

To start the year off right, I’m back in action with my.alphabet.year next weekend.  I’ve decided to be a complete anti-Yinzer next weekend and head down to the city to experience some “tourist destinations”.  Pittsburgh’s full of them, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something.  The Incline, the Science Center, that Casino, Pitt, every museum you could ever imagine, my favorite Macy’s in the world.  Ok, maybe some of those are “tourist destinations”, per se.  But they’re on my list of favorite things, so I’ll probably stop by anyway.

We are low budget next weekend, since I just paid off my credit card bill.  2013 debt free!!!  Going to have lots of fun without spending a lot of money.

If anyone wants to join me, let me know.  And for all you out-of-town readers out there who can’t join me, let me know if there’s anything in the city you’ve always wanted to see but never did.  Let me be your eyes.

Happy New Year everyone!!  Stay safe, have fun, and keep those New Year’s resolutions!!

E

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No More Christmas

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So for those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting me, I’m what some might call eccentric.  I’m the kind of person who thinks crazy things, believes the unbelievable, and says whatever’s on my mind.  I have an off-the-beaten-path sense of humor, am wildly sarcastic and cynical, and like to climb on my soapbox every so often (don’t even ask me about the Amish and income taxes…don’t…).  I am my own breed, and while some people often think I’m crass, unforgiving, and too honest, I wouldn’t change who I am for all the marbles in China. (although, let’s be honest, there’s very little I’d do for all the marbles in China.  What would I do with billions of marbles??)

That being said, a lot of people sometimes wonder where I get my spunky personality from.  It’s hard to blend all these varieties of crazy together into one living breathing human, but the impossible has been done.  It wasn’t that hard, though, when my personality comes honestly from my mother.

I love my mom.  She’s one of my favorite people to talk to.  She listens when I need to vent, gives advice when I’m looking for it, cares too much about animals, likes to bake, has a funny sense of humor, and is slightly crazy.  She’s me in 26 years.  When people meet me, and then they meet my mom, they see where I get my personality from.  I’m a little more sarcastic than she is, and a little more pessimistic, but often times how we think and act are one in the same.

One thing I love about my mom is sometimes she tends to get on these “Soapbox Rants” where she goes to war against muti-billion dollar companies, or politicians, or chemicals she doesn’t like.  Growing up it seemed like there was always someone or something new she was against.  Wal-Mart.  Applebees.  Disneyland Resort.  Bob Casey.  The Philadelphia Eagles.  Our neighbor John.  My 8th grade English teacher.  Lowes.  The local mall.  She had stories to support her boycotts, annoyances and yelling, and as children we just thought everyone’s moms went on soapbox rants from time to time about corporate America, evil politicians, and egotistical sports teams.  I’ve learned since then this isn’t the norm.

Over the past few years one of my mom’s favorite rants was about Christmas.  How consumer-based it had become, how annoying other customers in stores were at this time of year, how retail stores try to convince you to buy more than you need so they can improve their fourth quarter earnings.  She always was threatening to cancel Christmas, but I always assumed to was more venting than anything else.  And for years every Christmas she’d buy me some gifts, even as I’ve grown up and moved out.

Last Christmas I remember her saying, “That’s it, I’m done with Christmas, no more gifts, no more shopping.  Christmas time is about family time, not about all the things we can stuff under the tree!”  And I remember thinking, There she goes again, her yearly empty threat to cancel Christmas.  I wonder how long she’ll continue this stance this year.”

And continue the rant she did.  January into February, February into March, March into April.  Around springtime I thought, Maybe this year she’s serious about this.  Maybe this is the year we finally cancel Christmas.

familyxmasWell, I was right.  December 25, 2012, the Days officially cancelled Christmas.  Well, we didn’t cancel Christmas, per se, just the materialistic part of Christmas that we Americans have latched onto.  We didn’t go crazy with the gift shopping.  We didn’t spend hours in line looking for that “perfect gift”.  Instead we bought a few small gifts for each other, stuffed our stockings, and opened them together on Christmas Eve.  The holiday season was more about hanging out and spending time together, and less about swapping gifts, cluttering the living room with paper, and returning things we already have.  We watched movies, baked, laughed, and set up a photo booth with my sister’s supplies.  We guarded our home from the roaming meth heads (that’s another story for another day).  We watched Michael Buble croon out Christmas tunes.  We watched New Girl.  We ate a TON of Christmas popcorn.

At the end of the day, it was the perfect Christmas.  Absolutely wonderful.  The focus of our day was back on what’s important, family, love, and blessings.  God has blessed our family with so much this year, and it was a wonderful way to appreciate that together.

So for those of you who think, “Lis is crazy, I don’t know where she gets it from,” know I get most of it honestly from my family, especially my mom.  And today of all days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  My mom cancelling Christmas in our family was the best thing we’ve ever done as a family.  The day was about remembering what is important in life, and not about who has the best presents.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope your day was wonderful and bright!

Lis

Lord Help the Mister Who Comes Between Me and My Sister…

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We all have that one Christmas movie that we could watch a thousand times and never get bored with.  Maybe you’re an Elf fan.  Or you love a Muppet Christmas Carol.  Or you know every word to the (in my opinion) excruciatingly long It’s a Wonderful Life.  Regardless of your tastes, though, we all have that one movie that we simply cannot get enough of.

WC_Still_0006.tifFor me, that movie is White Christmas. You hear people say all the time, “Oh yeah [Insert movie title] is my favorite movie, I know every line!” only to find out they really don’t.  Well don’t be mistaken, folks, I know every single line of this movie. I even know the hand motions, like when Bing covers Danny Kaye’s mouth in “Mandy”.  When singing the song, I always act it out too.  I’m that big of a fan.  This year I’ve watched the movie 5 times this month, and I’m sure I’ll squeeze in at  least one more watch before Christmas.  In fact…..yep, it’s now running on my Netflix.  Yay!!

I’ve watched this movie since I was a little kid, and secretly one of the reasons I’ve always loved it is because of the Haynes Sisters, and their magical act.  I always imagined my sister and I as the perfect sister act.  We had beauty, charm, and killer dance moves.  Who wouldn’t want to see us dance with bright blue feathered fans?  I would pay $6.60 or $8.80 to see that (there’s a White Christmas reference for you die hards)

Don't we look like we could be in a song and dance number?

Don’t we look like we could be in a song and dance number?

Growing up, my little sister Allison and I used to always pretend we were the Haynes sisters.  I was usually Betty, since my name is Elisabeth, and she was Judy, since she had brown eyes.  We thought we were smashing hits in our bedroom, dancing and crooning away to our stuffed animals.  Someday we knew we’d make it big, and you’d find us at an old Vermont Inn hotel talking about boys and the future, and the famous Wallace and Davis.

Some things were a little different.  We were brunettes, Betty and Judy were blonds.  We were growing up in the 1990s, and the Haynes sisters were popular in the 1950s.  We couldn’t really sing or dance.  They could (yes, I know Vera-Ellen didn’t sing, leave that be for another post).  But we had spunk.  We had grit.  For God’s sake, we shared a room for 15 years.  That should count for something.

So we’d have White Christmas sing-a-longs, dressing up in adult clothes and promising to share every little thing we are wearing.  We had a blast.  An honest to goodness blast.  We were going to make it big some day.  The Day sisters.  Elisabeth and Allison.  Live tonight, one night only. 🙂

I guess we’ve reached that age where we should have made it big by now.  Beauty is fleeting, and the Haynes sisters were classic-ly beautiful.  Maybe we should have focused a little more on our song and dance numbers as a child, because the older I become the more I realize it’s not in the cards for the Day sisters to become a famous act.

family1One thing that will never change, though, is that no matter how old we get, I will always have a little sister who will always need looking after.  Sure, we didn’t meet Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby yet, but when we do, we’ll still have each others backs.  And I know if I ever run off to the Unicorn Club over a soured love interest, she’ll be right behind me, trying to get me to come home.

And I guess when I think about it, that’s why I love this movie so much.  Besides the Christmas theme, and the singing and dancing, growing up I loved watching a movie about two sisters who were best friends.  I hoped that some day I would grow up and be best friends with my sister the way Judy and Betty were.  And if we happened to be ridiculously rich and beautiful too, well, I’m never going to turn that down.

We’re not rich, and we clean up well, but we prefer sweats over dresses most days.  But after all of our fighting, bickering, tattling, pinching, hair pulling, and crying, I’d say Allison and I have become pretty good friends after all these years.  We have our own dreams and goals, our own businesses and our own college debts, but I’ve got her back and she’s got mine.  And as the famous song reminds us, Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister!  Hear that, men!!

If you have a sister, no matter where she is or what she’s doing, let her know today how much you appreciate her.  Even if you’re not super close, be happy to be blessed with one of the best life-long friendships you could ever have.  If you don’t have an actual sister, call your best friend, the one who acts like that sister you never had, and let her know today how much you appreciate her.  And if you’re nearby and can swing it, watch White Christmas today.  I promise it will be worth it.  🙂

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to start dancing!  Where’s that blue dress??

Next Week: C is for Christmas?

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Yikes, I forgot to post this past weekend!  Dear readers, what did you do without a blog post 😉  I hope you made it!

It’s been a busy few weeks for me.  I have been baking, and traveling, and working at Initech.  Christmas is just around the corner!  Presents are everywhere waiting to be wrapped.  My brother is moving in with me for a week starting tomorrow.  And I’m flat broke.  Holy crap, isn’t it just the most wonderful time of year?

So next weekend is Christmas, which means I’m going to be braving the middle of the state to return home for a few days.  What moron decided to make both southern corners of Pennsylvania interesting, and leave the rest to the redneck and Amish is beyond me, but let me tell you, driving home is one of the most boring drives I have ever experienced in my 26 years of life.  Tree…tree…tree…cow….tree…tree…barn…tree…tree…tree…tree…tractor.  For four hours.  It’s enough for me to want to fly home.

Since it’s Christmas weekend, though, I’m going to be taking a break from my.alphabet.year to enjoy the yuletide festivities my family always participates in.  It’s funny, when I talk to most people about holiday traditions in their family they usually say something like, “Oh, it’s so much fun, every Christmas Eve we head down to the live nativity scene at my grandma’s church, followed by midnight mass and then a big breakfast in the morning.”  So cute.  Sheetz_Altoona_PAMy family traditions?  Last year we went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on Christmas Eve.  Talk about a movie even Jesus would love!  And on Christmas, we have our yearly Sheetz run.  That’s right, after all the presents are opened, meals are eaten, games are played, movies are watched, arguments are won or lost, and laughter is complete, we pile (illegally I might add) 5 people into a 4 seatbelt car, and trek on down to Sheetz.  If you’re asking yourself “What is a Sheetz?” you are not from Pennsylvania.  You don’t understand.  Once there we order a buffet of food, soda, chips, and milkshakes, only to cart it all back home and eat all of it.  Laugh all you want, but it is the one tradition my family has every year.  Who needs a living nativity scene when you have $5 steak burritos and $2 mozzarella sticks?

So I’ll be on break next weekend, celebrating the holidays with my family.  I suggest you do the same.  If you don’t have a family, come be part of mine.  If you do have a family, give them a hug from me.  For real.

I’ll be back the following week with a new adventure, don’t you worry.  We’re about half way done here with this year, how crazy is that?!  As always, thanks for joining me on this crazy ride.

Have a blessed and safe holiday season!  You are the best, my readers.

Lis

Candy Canes!!

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For those of you who don’t know me, one of the things I love most about Christmas time is candy canes.  Oh candy canes!  I can’t get enough of their wonderful minty goodness!  I wish sugar free candy canes tasted better, because I would be sucking those down like I hadn’t eaten in months.

candy-cane-hunt-mable-houseI love all the new things manufacturers come out with every Yuletide season that are “candy cane” flavored.  Pop Tarts.  Oreos.  McFlurries.  Coffee.  Cupcakes (who am I kidding with this one, though, I can have candy cane cupcakes anytime I want!).  Pretty much, I think the rule of thumb is, if you should not be eating it, they’re going to be tempting me to do just that by adding some mint flavoring and red food coloring!

A few weeks ago when I headed down to the Strip District for X is for eXact Change, my brother and I stumbled into the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company and saw on their “Coming Soon” billboard a listing for candy cane kettle corn for one week in December.  Be still, my heart.  Kettle corn AND candy cane.  Holy mother!

Here’s the problem with the PPC, though…I don’t work anywhere NEAR them.  And they all close at normal human hours of 6 or 7pm.  Oh snap.  Yesterday was an easier day at work, so I thought, hey, let’s leave a little early and head on downtown to get some Candy Cane popcorn.  Sounds like the perfect winter gift.

Except, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.  Traffic was moving slow as dirt, Lord knows why because there’s no hockey game to head downtown for.  Then I get downtown and stupid bus lanes clog me up even more.  Thanks to some good friends I managed to snag some free parking downtown.  But by then it was 6:35 and the place, still several blocks away, closed at 7.  There I ran, in the dark, in the cold, by myself, in high heels, trying to make it to the PPC.  Out of breath, 6 blocks later, I pulled up at the door at 6:45.  I pulled on the door.  Locked.  All the lights were on, but it looks like they decided to close early.  I called the store, heard the phone ringing inside.  Nothing.  No one answered.  No one showed their face.  No candy cane popcorn.

Thankfully, my awesome brother lives downtown, and managed to get the popcorn for me today, without sprinting through the downtown, without banging on the door for several minutes.  God bless brothers.

This is my life, though.  Chasing time for candy canes.  Maybe it’s why I love life so much 🙂

Time to bake.  See you soon!!

E

P is for Pamper Party

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Man, how is my vacation over again?!  Do I REALLY have to return to Initech again tomorrow?  Blah!

So I’m back from my internet hiatus, back from New Jersey, and back from my vacation.  I headed home for an extended weekend, and left my computer and cell phone charger at home.  The computer was left at home on purpose…the charger, not so much.  But I unplugged for a few days, and it was a wonderful and relaxing few days.

During my break from Initech, though, I managed to head to a day spa for some R&R.  I headed out with my old college roommate for a manicure, pedicure, and massage.  She found an unreal Living Social deal and we decided to splurge and indulge in a little pampering.  Everyone deserves a treat every once in awhile!

Here’s a fun fact about me: before this week, I had never had a manicure, pedicure, OR massage.  Crazy, right?  Not really when you know me.  I’m not a “pampering” kind of person.  I don’t dress up a lot, and there’s never been a moment where I’ve thought, “Man, if only my nails were professionally done right now.”  That’s just not who I am.

I’ll admit, though, I was excited to try all of these things, and all at one stop.  The manicure and pedicure were definitely a fun experience, especially the always stressful decision of picking your nail color.  Wild, safe, unnatural, natural?  In the end I feel my color choices reflect who I am…a natural pale pink on my fingers, that go with anything and is considered a “safe” choice.  A bright purple on my toes, that shows my wild side, but only if I’m willing to show you my feet 🙂

head_massageThe massage…wow, the massage.  First off, I hear a lot of people tell me how the first time they went for a massage they were nervous to have someone else touch them when they had little to no clothing on.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I had no problem with that.  I’m not Girls Gone Wild crazy, but I’m comfortable enough with myself and my body to care less if someone else gives me a massage.  And I LOVED every second of it.  I had this moment mid-massage where I was afraid I was going to fall asleep, and my only concern was to not fall asleep and start snoring.  How awkward would that be?  I would be the one who totally did that too. 🙂  So I laid there and thought over and over again, “Don’t fall asleep…don’t fall asleep…don’t fall asleep.”  It worked.  No naps, no snoring, no awkward half-naked moments.  A successful massage!

Now that I’m relaxed, though, it’s time to head back to work for another long work week.  I am loving all these days off, but it makes me want to return to work even less once my vacation is over.  Anyone want to donate to my retirement fund?  I bake cupcakes 🙂

Have a wonderful week.  Go get a massage.  Embrace your inner wild-child, strip down, and relax!!  It’s such a wonderful feeling.

See you soon,

Lis

Next Week: P is for Pamper Party

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220px-NSYNC-Home_for_Christmas_(album_cover)Ah, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!!  The Christmas spirit has fully descended upon the greater city of Pittsburgh!  I know some people grumble about how much people “over do” Christmas, and I’m sorry if you feel that way, because I LOVE decorating for Christmas.  Absolutely love it!!  I’m one of those people who gets all of my decorations out from the back of my closet, crank the Christmas tunes, and get busy!  If you think to yourself, “I bet no one actually listens to the N*Sync Christmas album anymore from start to finish, you’re totally wrong, because I do!  Several times!!

Before I really get into the Christmas spirit, though, I’m going to take this next week to spend some time relaxing and unwinding.  I work Monday and Tuesday, and have a half day on Wednesday.  Then it’s time to bake 3 dozen cupcakes for an order, and head off to New Jersey for some much needed family time.  But in the midst of all that family time, I’ll be heading off for another Alphabet Adventure.

Next weekend I will be heading out for the ultimate relaxation experience: a spa day with my old college roommate.  Now, before I tell you about all the fun we have planned, let me be honest: I’ve never been a “pamper” kind of person.  pamperpartiesI have never set foot inside a nail studio.  I’ve never paid for my nails to be done, or had anything fun like a massage, a make up artist make me up, or my feet pedicured.  You’re lucky I pay $40 for a professional to chop my hair off 😉  I’m just not that sort of person.  My old roommate, though, LOVES that kind of stuff.  And, I’ll be honest, it sounds nice to pay someone to do my nails.  So when she found a killer Living Social deal a few weeks ago, we scooped it up.  For $50 we’ll get manicures, pedicures, and a 45 minutes massage.  Total zen bliss….yes, I might get there!!

This is going to be a true adventure, though, because I’ve never experienced anything like this before.  I guess that’s why I love this blogging adventure: I have definitely stepped outside of my comfort zone, and learned to experience a new side to life.  It’s the time of year where you start to reflect on the past year, the goods the bads, as 2012 comes to a close.  Starting My Alphabet Year has definitely been a highlight of this past year!

Have a wonderful weekend!  Decorate for Christmas for me!!  Bust out the N*Sync album, I know you still have it somewhere!!!

Lis