Tag Archives: Christmas

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

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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

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

X is for eXact Change

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Ah, Thanksgiving weekend is almost over, can this really be happening?  Do I have to return to Initech tomorrow?  Any Powerball winners willing to give me some quick cash??  Anyone…anyone…??

Well, while you all decide if you want to give me money for nothing in return (the answer to that is always YES!), let me tell you about my fun weekend supporting small businesses and shopping with the holiday rushes.

For those of you who didn’t see last week’s blog post, I decided to go out on the town this weekend and spend some money in the local community.  My goal was to take $20 down to the Strip and see just how close to the $20 I could spend before leaving.  And, if I played my cards just right, I wouldn’t go over my $20 limit either.

So Saturday morning was a cold morning here in the Burgh.  The temperature sat around 22 degrees, and the wind was gusting at over 20 MPH.  Not really a day for outdoor shopping.  But, let’s be honest, I’m up for anything these days, so I bundled up, grabbed a warm hat, and headed down to Duquesne to pick up my brother Matt.  He’s on Thanksgiving break, but had to stay to work at Apple, so he had some time to kill with his sister.  Tagging along to the strip apparently sounded like the perfect way for him to spend his Saturday morning too.

Before we arrived at the strip, though, we ended up smack dab in the middle of a parade.  Nope, not making that up.  We were driving downtown, made a left at a light, and boom, we found ourselves in the middle of what looked to be a Christmas parade.  Complete with floats, marching bands, and even a surprise visit from Santa.  It was pretty amusing to watch as we drove the opposite way down the same street, except for the moment when the Fred Flintstone balloon started to blow away from his handlers and head straight for my car.  Crisis was adverted, though, and Fred resumed his normal route on the parade street.

We did manage to snag some free parking, which is a blessing in disguise down in the Strip District…why pay $10 to park when I can walk 3 blocks and park for free?  That’s just what we did, which meant my 20 wasn’t broken until I headed into the chocolate store to Christmas shop.  No, this isn’t a candy store: it’s a chocolate store.  They have chocolate from all over the world, and it smells so incredibly heavenly in there.  I’ll be honest, some of it is a bit over priced, but I guess that’s the sacrifice you make for Japanese candy bars not sold in the United States.  I bought a few Christmas presents for people, spending $12.45.

Next it was on to the Yinzer store, for 1,000 rounds of Gangnam Style and more Hines Ward jerseys than you could possibly hope to ever wear in a life time.  Sorry Steeler fans, I still don’t own ANY Steeler apparel, and I didn’t buy any yesterday either.  Contact me if you’d like to donate something to my hopeless cause.

I did go to the Asian supermarket, though, and buy some yummy food, because Matt wouldn’t go into the fish market with me.  They had salmon and mango sushi, and still that wasn’t enough to convince the boy!  So we headed into the Asian market instead.  We were the only people in there who spoke English as our first language, but I’m kind of OK with that.  I love Asian markets, and bought some cookies before I left.  3 boxes, $1.97, bringing my total for the day up to $14.92.

So now what to do?  I have $5 left to spend, and want to spend it all.  I could buy a $5 purse the man swears to me is real Coach, but I have a sneaking suspicion he’s just trying to make the sale.  I could buy some fresh pineapple, $1 each, that look and smell so delicious.  Or, I could fight traffic, and humans, and head to the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company.  Guess which option I chose 🙂

Now, let me be honest with you, I did go over my $20 limit there.  However, I bought two bags of popcorn, one of which I’m giving away to a friend as a gift.  The one bag was $3.85, the other bag was $3.75, so if you only count the one bag I bought for myself, my total for the day comes to $19.27.  Not too shabby when you look at my $20 limit!!  Only 73 cents off!  Now, again, I know I went slightly over with my second bag purchase, but it’s the holiday season, the time of giving more than you should, and helping others to be happy.  Apparently I really like to give by buying extra bags of chocolate peanut butter kettle corn!

Over all, the challenge I set for myself this week was wildly successful.  I managed to snag a few small gifts for friends and family, treat myself to some delicious Asian cookies, and stuff myself full of Spicy Cheddar and Bacon popcorn (It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten!)  Plus I got to hang out with my brother, something I don’t do nearly enough.  I’d say this was a weekend, and a $20 bill well spent.

Off to relax for these final few hours before I return to work tomorrow.  Christmas break cannot get here soon enough.  What am I talking about, though, I have so much vacation time over this coming month it’s not even funny.  I am busy in the coming weeks setting off to see friends and family all over.  Not to mention I have several dozen cupcakes to bake for customers.  So much to do!!

Have a wonderful week!  I’ll be back next week with my next Alphabet Adventure!!

Lis

Launching Tonight!

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I know I said no more bakery posts, but I can’t help myself, I’m so excited!!!

We are finally launching our fundraising campaign tonight, and all I can say is its about time!! This has been more than a month in planning. I’m excited to see what happens. I hope this helps to spread the word about our bakery and raise some money for our bakery business.

Check my bakery blog tonight for ordering information. Or comment below!!

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Yay Christmas!!