Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking to 2010


Our New Years Eve celebration is pretty mellow. We are spending it at home with some friends and our new Blue Ray player (Christmas gift from the inlaws).

Looking to 2010 I am ready for a fresh start. Here we go!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Artwork Giveaway!

Brooklyn Limestone is having a giveaway! Free artwork! Run on over and check it out!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas

Today I am making cookies with my step daughter. A little later we will head over to my parents house to kick off the craziness that is Christmas. Tomorrow morning it will be with my in laws then we drop the kiddos off with their mom at noon.

Our Christmas day tradition is to go to the movies. We are going to see Sherlock Holmes and It's Complicated. We "might" also see Avatar which my SD says is amazing.

I didn't get everything done I wanted to this year. I didn't make stockings or my indoor "mink" wreath. I have not even test driven my new sewing machine. I think I may just do the stockings and wreath this weekend in preparation for next year. That way they will be done and I can pack them away with all of the decorations as we take them down. The wreath is brown velvet that looks like fur and could stay up year round if I felt like it.

Well, I am rambling - have a happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two Days Left

OK - no sewing was done yesterday. I have decided not to stress myself out by trying to make six individually designed stockings by tomorrow. I have ideas in my head but I really want the process to be fun and stress free so I have decided to use the stockings I have for the hubs and I and get the kids new stockings that we can use for this year.

I might get around to making my indoor wreath today though. Right after I finish a pile of gift tags for the huge pile of gifts under our tree. I wrote the names near the back seam of wrapping paper so I would know who's was who's. I did think it might be fun to just put the pile in the middle of the floor and let everyone at them. Then the gifts could be distributed to the giftee. Yeah - no.

For some holiday inspiration, go check out Brooklyn Limestone for her annual holiday gift. This year it was personalized tea towels. That Yudu looks like something I might have to put on my wish list. Also check out this post of previous holiday gifts she has sent out. Brooklyn Limestone is so darn creative!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Closer to Christmas

I got a new sewing machine. Today is my day to sew. I have stockings to make (I know, better late than never) and my sister asked me yesterday if I could make a pillow in time for Christmas Eve.

Shortly I am off to the fabric store to pick up the last items I need. Then its a day of sewing. The hubs and I are having a dinner date and then going to pick up the last of the Christmas gifts we need so they can get wrapped and we can spend tomorrow (Christmas Eve Eve) just enjoying the day off and spending time with the kids.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hand Made Christmas

I'm off work for the week and about to head out and meet my sister with her two kids and my mom to have lunch and finish up Christmas shopping.

Head on over to Small Notebook. They are having a handmade Christmas this year. Her post has some great ideas. Also, if you are renters (of an apartment or a house or whatever) and you desperately love the look of a fireplace check out theirs. Her husband built it. Looks like stacks of different types of wood. I love the different colors. I don't think its a real working fireplace but you could certainly put candles in the "firebox" to achieve the same look.

Then you can head over to Brooklyn Limestone for her recipe for her Sugar Plum Shortbread. I always love the extra details she has in her packaging. If I ever get myself organized I would love to do this as a cute little Christmas gift.

Hand Made Christmas

I'm off work for the week and about to head out and meet my sister with her two kids and my mom to have lunch and finish up Christmas shopping.

Head on over to Small Notebook. They are having a handmade Christmas this year. Her post has some great ideas. Also, if you are renters (of an apartment or a house or whatever) and you desperately love the look of a fireplace check out theirs. Her husband built it. Looks like stacks of different types of wood. I love the different colors. I don't think its a real working fireplace but you could certainly put candles in the "firebox" to achieve the same look.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Like Our Christmas Wrapped in Dysfunction

I don't know what it is about this time of year but it seems to bring out the craziness inherent in families. I absolutely love to watch dysfunctional Christmas movies. It makes me laugh and not worry so much about the own bit of dysfunction in my extended family.

The Ref

Denis Leary plays an unfortunate cat burglar, who is abandoned by his partner in the middle of a heist, and is forced to take an irritating Connecticut couple (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) hostage. He soon finds that he took more than he bargained for when the couple's blackmailing son (Robert J Steinmiller Jr) and despicable in-laws step into the picture. Before long they're driving him nuts with their petty bickering and family problems. The only way for him to survive is to be their referee and resolve their differences, before he can be nabbed by the police.

The Family Stone

The Stone family unites in common cause when their favorite son (Dermot Mulroney) brings his uptight girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the Christmas holiday, with plans of proposing. Overwhelmed by the hostile reception, she begs her sister (Claire Danes) to join her for emotional support, triggering further complications.

Fred Claus

During childhood, Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn) suffered his younger brother Nick's (Paul Giamatti) saintliness. Jump ahead: Fred is a fast-talking, genial but self-centered guy in Chicago looking for $50,000 to open an off-track-betting shop. When one scam goes awry, he calls Nick at the North Pole for a loan: Nick will give him the money only if Fred comes up to help a few days with the Christmas rush. After his girlfriend (Rachel Weisz) dumps him, Fred heads north. Santa's facing an audit from an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey), and it's not pleasant. Fred's job is to review charts and determine who's naughty and who's nice. Is there any fraternal feeling left, can either learn from the other, and what about Santa getting fired?

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

It's Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark (Chevy Chase) , his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo)and their two kids (Juliette Lewis & Johnny Galecki). Clark's continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.

The Holiday

In London, Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) writes a wedding column in a newspaper and has an unrequited love for her colleague Jasper Bloom (Rufus Sewell). Nearby Christmas, she is informed that Jasper is engaged and will marry another colleague, and her life turns head over heels. In Los Angeles, the movie-trailers maker Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) has just broken with her unfaithful boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns) and wants to forget him. Amanda access a house exchange website, and impulsively swaps her mansion for Iris' cottage in Surrey for the holiday along the next two weeks. While in Surrey, Amanda meets Iris' brother and book editor Graham (Jude Law) and they fall in love for each other. Meanwhile Iris meet her next door neighbor, the ninety year old screenplay writer Arthur (Eli Wallach), who helps her to retrieve her self-esteem, and the film composer Miles (Jack Black), and they fall in love for each other.

The Matador

A chance encounter between a travelling salesman (Greg Kinnear) and a lonely hitman (Pierce Brosnan) triggers a strangely profound relationship which provokes each to act in ways neither would have imagined possible. Fate steps in to form a friendship between two men from irreconcilable worlds that will alter the lives of both forever.

A Christmas Story

Ralphie (Peter Billingsly), a young boy growing up in the '40's, dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun. He sets out to convince the world this is the perfect gift. But along the way, he runs into opposition from his parents (Darren McGavin & Melinda Dillon), his teacher, and even good 'ol Santa Claus himself.

Home Alone

In this film, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) is an eight year old boy left at home by his parents (John Heard & Catherine O'Hara), when they leave with the rest of the family for Christmas holidays to Paris. At first he seems to enjoy living alone, but after a while he understands that things aren't so easy. Especially when two robbers (Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern) decide to break in a particular house. HIS house! Is he able to defend his home?

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Based on the book by the famous Dr. Seuss. Inside a snowflake exists the magical land of Whoville. In Whoville, live the Who's, an almost mutated sort of munchkinlike people. All the Who's love Christmas, yet just outside of their beloved Whoville lives the Grinch (Jim Carrey). The Grinch is a nasty creature that hates Christmas, and plots to steal it away from the Whos which he equally abhors. Yet a small child, Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), decides to try befriend the Grinch.

Scrooged

Frank Cross (Bill Murray) runs a US TV station which is planning a live adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Frank's childhood wasn't a particularly pleasant one, and so he doesn't really appreciate the Christmas spirit. With the help of the ghosts of Christmas past (David Johansen) , present (Carol Kane) and future(Chaz Conner) , Frank realizes he must change.

Elf

Buddy (Will Farrell) was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa's sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father (James Caan), Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa's naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter's relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities.

The Santa Claus

Divorcee Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is disgusted to learn that his ex (Wendy Crewson) and her husband (Judge Reinhold) have tried - and failed - to break it easy to their 6-year-old son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) that Santa isn't real. On Christmas Eve, Scott reads The Night Before Christmas... then receives an unexpected visitor on his roof. When he's startled by Scott's calling out and falls, the Santa impersonator disappears, leaving only an 8-reindeer sleigh and a suit with instructions to put it on if he's involved in an accident. Scott does, and is transported around the town dropping gifts through chimneys until he's taken to the North Pole and informed by the head elf (David Krumholtz) who claim they're elves that he is now Santa. Charlie is proud of his dad's new job, though Scott's convinced it's a dream. Until his hair turns white, his beard refuses to stay shaved, he gains weight inexplicably, even for his sudden love of junk food... Now he's accepted it, there's just one problem: how to keep it secret from his disbelieving family?

Die Hard

New York City Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) has just arrived in Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his wife (Bonnie Bedilia). Unfortunatly, it is not going to be a Merry Christmas for everyone. A group of terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is holding everyone in the Nakatomi Plaza building hostage. With no way of anyone getting in or out, it's up to McClane to stop them all. All 12!

Movies on my must see list (hopefully this Christmas season) are...

Four Christmasses

Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) have been together three years, in love, having fun, doing all sorts of things together with no intention of marriage or children. Christmas morning, they're on their way to Fiji, having told their two sets of divorced parents that they're off to do charity work. Through a fluke, they have no choice but to visit each of their four idiosyncratic parents. As the day progresses, Brad and Kate remember growing up, each learns more about the other, and Kate realizes that her life may not be as good as it could be. Do they know each other well enough to weather the storms families bring?

Mixed Nuts

Philip (Steve Martin) runs a crisis hotline with Catherine (Rita Wilson) and Mrs Munchnik (Madeline Kahn). That's the easy part, now it gets tricky... Stanley loves evicting people and he evicts Philip. Philip loves helping people and he is loved by Catherine. Catherine is loved by Louie (Adam Sandler) who loves writing songs. Chris (Liev Schreiber) loves dancing to songs and loves to wear large dresses. Gracie (Juliette Lewis) also loves to wear large dresses because she's pregnant. She loves the baby's father, Felix (Anthony LaPaglia), who loves to paint. That just leaves Mrs. Munchnik who hasn't been loved by anybody in a very long time.

Bad Santa

"Bad Santa" is the story of two conmen (Billy Bob Thornton & Tony Cox) who go on a road trip to malls dressed as Santa and his elf. Rather than spreading good cheer, the duo's motive is to rob each establishment, a strategy that becomes complicated when they encounter an 8-year-old who teaches them the true meaning of Christmas.

What is your favorite dysfunctional Christmas movie?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Budget Update

The hubs doesn't get paid for two days and I get paid Tuesday next week but I don't see a lot of spending in the next two days so here we go.

Budgeted/Actual

Student Loan - $93/$93
Netflix - $27/$26.27
First Mortgage - $796.73/$796.73
Home Owners Dues - $217.41/$217.41
CC1 - $35 (minimum plus a little extra - I rounded up)/$35
CC2 - $30 (minimum plus a little extra - I rounded up)/$30
CC4 - $105 (minimum plus a lot extra)/$105
Groceries - $100/$168.01
Gas - $35/$69.50
Save - $800 (earmarked for bi-weekly mortgage plan)/$400
Mad Money - $328 (mostly Christmas gifts)/$476.02
Left Over - $115.80 (to filter in to the second half of the month)/$106.05

I went over in all the places I normally do. We did get some Christmas shopping done and we are close to being finished. Groceries was extra because of a holiday party we held that I didn't account for. We did more that normal driving due to the kids having plans with friends which accounted for the overage in gas.

We decided not to do the bi weekly mortgage payments for now. What we did decide to do was figure out how much extra a month bi weekly payments would add to our mortgage payment. I have budgeted larger than normal payments for our first and second mortgage next month to make it like we were doing bi weekly payments.

Budget for the next two weeks.

Income - $2053.45
Cell - $199.23
Cable/Internet - $68.70
Car payment - $200 (minimum plus extra)
Personal Loan Payment - $460
Second Mortgage - $96.15
CC4 - $30 (minimum plus a little extra)
Car/Home Insurance - $148.39
PUD - $83
DSHS - $400
Mad Money - $367.98 + $106.05 = $474.03

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Decorating Ideas

Still super busy at work but I thought I would post some links to some great Christmas decorating ideas.

Karla at It's The Little Things has a wonderfully decorated home. Her front door and entry are truly decked out for the holidays.

Stefanie over at Brooklyn Limestone had an impromptu Buon Natale party. The inspiration was a family member visiting from Italy.

Christie at Just Beachy came up with a great way to wrap gifts and recycle fabric at the same time.

Designer Eddie Ross has a wonderful red and white decorated table for your holiday meal.

Janis at Junk Dreams found some wonderful old trophy's perfect for a trio of mini trees.

For a creative and easily personalized gift idea you can jump on over to Linda & Dixie's blog Funky Junk Sisters to get the scoop on making individual cupcakes in a jar or candy stix. Add them to your reader so you won't miss any of their homemade holiday ideas.

Brin at My Messy Thrilling Life has made the cutest tiny sweater garland! I have a few tiny knitted sweaters I have been making for gift tags. If I make enough I can do this too!

Finally at the Nesting Place we have a great way to wrap packages with Garnish.

I need to drag out my Christmas decorations and get on the ball myself. I hope to post some photos soon. My colors are chocolate, cream and green. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Budget

I am taking a clue from Sallie's Niece and spelling out my budget for the next two weeks. Payday is tomorrow for both the hubs and I (that does not always happen). Here is where it's supposed to go.

Beginning Balance - $2717.94 (income of $2053.45 + account balance of $664.49)

Student Loan - $93
Netflix - $27
First Mortgage - $796.73
Home Owners Dues - $217.41
CC1 - $35 (minimum plus a little extra - I rounded up)
CC2 - $30 (minimum plus a little extra - I rounded up)
CC4 - $105 (minimum plus a lot extra)
Groceries - $100
Gas - $35
Save - $800 (earmarked for bi-weekly mortgage plan)
Mad Money - $328 (mostly Christmas gifts)
Left Over - $115.8 (to filter in to the second half of the month)

The money that will go in to savings will be held there to pay our January mortgage. Then we will also make two half payments in January to set up our February mortgage payments. By paying bi-weekly, we will end up making 13 mortgage payments a year and pay our debt down faster as well as save on interest.

I have tried to buy some Christmas gifts for the past several months and because I didn't have lists from people it was hard. I should have just put some money aside every month and then I could use it now.

Now off to sew and watch more Samantha Brown - please tell me how to get her job?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Resolutions

I know we still have a few weeks before the start of the new year and the traditional resolution experience.

This year went by way to fast and the last couple months have been a blur. I am completely worn out due to being overworked (and yes underpaid) along with biting off more than I can chew with sewing two complete outfits for the hubs and I in under two weeks. Oh yeah, and dealing with getting custody of the hubs kids.

So, needless to say I have not been taking good care of myself. My weight loss plan went out the window and its rare that I get more than six hours of sleep.

My only resolution for the new year is to put myself first. To take better care of myself. That is a simple statement but oh so loaded with possibilities.

Taking care of myself means getting regular exercise, eating healthy food, making personal time for myself, learning to say no, figuring out what I really want out of life and instead of putting things off - living in the now.


In the spirit of this new "resolution" I am hopping off the computer and going to spend at least one hour working on getting my corset for the Steampunk Ball this Saturday. It may not turn out like I had planed and I do have a contingency plan.