Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pinterest Treats

Mine  |  Theirs



I've had a Pinterest account for some time, but despite my best intentions I haven't really made anything that I've pinned (I even have a board called "Things I'll Never Make"). I currently have 113 pins in my board "Tasty Treats," and I was determined to make something from it this Christmas. I actually got ambitious and made two tasty treats, and to my delight they were both a major success.

The first one I made was this Buckeye Bark. Ever since my epiphany for the city swap gift, I've been craving the Ohio-centric candy. But I also wasn't looking forward to rolling balls of peanut butter until my hands fell off, so the bark version was a perfect compromise.

It's so easy you really don't even need directions, but here they are anyway: layer the chocolate, peanut butter mixture, then chocolate again on a Silpat-lined cookie tray, popping it in the freezer to set in between layers. I was worried I would be waiting a long time for the layers to harden, but each probably took less than 15 min. Breaking it with my hands was a little difficult (and melty) and resulted in some not-so-photo-worthy shards, but it tasted so good no one seemed to care.

Mine  |  Theirs
Emboldened by my success with the Buckeye Bark, I decided to make these chocolate cherry cookies. My mom and I had made a version of these (called Santa's Whiskers) back in elementary school for a cookie exchange, and I was so excited when I stumbled on this version.

I added twice as much cherry juice as the recipe called for, doubled the almond extract and added more cherries for extra flavor. I actually only put kisses on top of about half, and sprinkles on the others. I definitely prefer them without the kisses, but I was making them for family and thought they might like the option.

Some reviewers said these were bland because they're not super sweet, but I think they're absolutely delicious. I just ate the last of them today, and I'm already thinking about making more. The cherry juice turns the cookie a really pretty shade of pink that would be perfect for Valentine's Day, even if my man wasn't a huge fan. Luckily, I don't think I'll have any problem eating an entire batch by myself.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!



I'm so in love with our animated Christmas card from 427 Design (the place of my full-time employment for the last four years) that I can't resist sharing it everywhere I can. A Charlie Brown Christmas has always been one of my Christmas staples, and to have myself put into the Peanuts universe just makes me smile every time I watch it.

If you're interested in how we made the animation, you can read this making of post that I wrote for the 427 blog.

We just got our first snowfall here yesterday, which makes it feel so much more like Christmas — I'll be spending my weekend wrapping presents and trying to watch as many holiday movies as I can. Have a great holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Finds

1. Penguin Sweater  |  2. Chalkboard Map  |  3. Fox Mug  |  4. Kazoo Cases  |  5. Fossil Bag  |  6. Cat Sweater



Despite the fact that I'm pretty much terrified of birds, I've always considered penguins an exception. Maybe it's because they can't fly, thereby eliminating my no. 1 fear when it comes to feathered friends (that they'll fly in my face and hair, The Birds-style). Plus they're just incredibly cool looking, and I would be too in this sweater.

I'm a wanderer at heart, always dreaming and planning trips, and this chalkboard map would a perfect way to map out routes, or show where I've been.

This fox mug from Starbucks is even cuter in person. The tail handle is perfectly adorable, and they surprisingly resisted all corporate urges to slap their logo on it, although anyone with eyeballs will probably recognize the cute critter from their winter campaign (I wish they also made a rabbit one, he's always been my favorite).

At 27, am I too old to have one of these animal cases for my iPhone? I kind of think I am, but I also kind of don't care because they're so incredibly cute. As a bonus, they also look like they'd really protect your phone — can that be my excuse?

I not-so-subtly asked my man for this cross body bag from Fossil for Christmas, and I'm not-so-secretly hoping that he got the hint. I've been coveting most of their vintage-inspired collection for a while, and my $25 purse from Target is finally on it's last legs, so I think it's time for an upgrade.

If I need to explain what's so wonderful about this cat sweater, then I'm curious why you're even reading my blog. You must have come here by mistake. Thanks for reading, and I'm sorry.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Vacation



I already revealed that Christmas Vacation was my all-time favorite holiday movie, but I feel like my love for it goes far beyond it's nostalgic Christmas charm. I'm kind of obsessed with everything concerning it, whether it's the merchandise, soundtrack or these amazing commercials from Old Navy.

1. DVD  |  2. Dickey  |  3. Holy Shit Where's the Tylenol  |  4. Moose Mug  |  5. Santa Hat  |  6. Ornaments  |  7. T-Shirt
Last night my friend Emily came over and we had our annual viewing while we sipped nog from my beloved moose mugs. Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like hearing the opening song ("Christmas Vacation...") or holding a cup by it's antler.

Some of my favorite quotes:
  • Is your house on fire, Clark?  
  • Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead? 
  • Don't throw me down, Clark.
  • Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.  
  • I don't *know* Margo!
  • Every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so.  
Please tell me you've seen Christmas Vacation. What are your favorite parts?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas City Swap

More than a month ago, I signed up for Allie Lehman's Christmas City Swap, which is basically a Secret Santa for bloggers all over the country. I entered my info, chose a price limit and she did the work of pairing up bloggers with similar budgets. The point was to send someone, whom you've presumably never met, a package containing products local to where you live.

I love giving gifts (even more than receiving them, and I actually mean that) so of course I signed up. Then I forgot about it for a while, then I freaked out about it when I realized that I had to ship my package by Dec. 21st. I was having a hard time coming up with an item local to me that wasn't cheese — there's not much about Ohio that is particularly memorable, at least not the part I live in, and cheese isn't exactly mailable.

Then I had an eleventh hour epiphany, and decided on the perfect gift: Buckeyes. If you're not familiar, buckeyes are basically balls of peanut butter dipped in chocolate, and they're exactly as delicious as that sounds. Buckeye trees are the official tree of Ohio (and I think they're a football team too, you may have heard of them) and Harry London, based in North Canton since 1922, makes a pretty delicious candy version. I packed up my package last night*, and sent it off today.

I hope the recipient (I don't want to ruin the surprise!) likes them as much as I do, and I'm excited to receive my package, wherever it may be coming from. Thanks so much to Allie for setting this up — is there anything more exciting than sending and receiving packages in the mail?

*Mozart was "helping" me, can you find her in the photo?

12/26 UPDATE: I just received my package from Emily Downey - isn't it adorable? I wasn't sure if the person we got also had us, but Emily was the recipient of my Buckeyes — funny that we both included chocolate in our gifts. I cannot wait to try the Cherry Moon Green tea, it's smells amazing, and the little Hershey guy is so cute — when you pull his string he does a little dance, which is kind of exactly how I feel when I eat chocolate. Thank you so much Emily!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Faux-zarts

The Real Deal

So as you probably know, I'm obsessed with my cat, Mozart, but did you also know that I'm also obsessed with finding Mozart look-a-likes? We got her as a rescue kitten, so I'm sure she's not pure bred, but she's definitely mostly Russian Blue.

She has all the qualifications, so it's no surprise that there are a ton of cats out there that basically look exactly like her. That doesn't stop me from getting excited every time I see one in person, however.

Skinny Mozart


This year I've not only found skinny Mozart, but also obsese Mozart. Skinny Mozart was incredibly friendly, and really, really malnourished. I wanted so badly to take her home, and her owner all but begged me to take her. Unfortunately (or fortunately), my man was the voice of reason, and correctly insisted that we could not take in another cat. I'm constantly reminding myself of my self-imposed rule of "no more cats per household than people", but it's a hard one to keep.

Obese Mozart

Obese Mozart, on the other hand, was very well cared for, and lives the life of luxury (with an abundance of food, obviously) with his brother (sister? mother?) at Bleecker Street Records in NYC. Much like the real Mozart, O.M. followed me everywhere I went around the store, and seemed to like me immediately (the feeling was mutual).

It makes me sad when I think that Mozart can't ever have kittens of her own (although I agree with the policy to spay/neuter rescues), because one of my dreams is to just be covered in Russian Blue kittens. I'm trying not to end up on TLC one day, but with so many adorable kittens in the world, it's just so hard, you know?

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Best Awards Show Ever?



I was super excited back when it was announced that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would be hosting the Golden Globes and then today I saw this promo and got excited all over again.

When I think back to past award shows, I feel like I either really, really love the hosts (Ellen, Steve Martin + Alec Baldwin) or could kind of care less (Hugh Jackman, Ricky Gervais, Anne Hathaway + James Franco).

Tina and Amy most definitely fall into the category of really, really love, PLUS did you hear that Meryl has been nominated for Hope Springs (her 27th nomination)? I know where I'll be on January 13th — maybe I'll even make an animated gif recap of the ceremony, but I'm sure it will just mostly be me looking like this.

PS: Have you read Bossypants yet? Aside from having one of my favorite book covers of all time, it's definitely the funniest book I've ever read — I laughed out loud during most of it, even when I was by myself, which is probably weird.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Parenthood Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas was for Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Hank (Ray Romano) to get together on Parenthood, and last night, I got my wish. Not only did they sleep together (Mark who??) but they shared multiple moments that made my heart practically leap from my chest, they were so adorable. The hand touch! The kiss! The present!


Oh, and when I wasn't crying tears of joy, I was crying tears of COULD THIS SHOW GET ANY BETTER?? That Kristina video? The matching scarves?? Ok, I was lying when I said all I wanted for Christmas was a Sarah-Hank union.



I want to be a Braverman.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Listed: Top Five Christmas Movies



5. The Family Stone

I've always had a thing for big, crazy, loving families (see: my current obsession with Parenthood), probably because I didn't really come from one — loving, of course, but I only have one sister and a whopping total of four cousins. I don't know if the Family Stone is really considered a Christmas classic by anyone, but I've seen it more times that I can remember, and it's always just as funny and enjoyable as I remember.

If nothing else, see it for the cast, including both Wilson brothers, Craig T. Nelson (yet another Parenthood comparison, high praise), Diane Keaton and a divine Rachel McAdams.




4. Home Alone 1 + 2

I was five when the first Home Alone came out, so I can't remember a time in my life when it wasn't a staple at Christmas. Recently, I've come to enjoy the second one (Lost in New York) just as much as the first, which isn't hard considering it's THE EXACT SAME MOVIE, except it takes place in New York City, instead of Chicago.

It's kind of funny to me, watching these movies as an "adult" that once you can do every single grown-up thing he does (eat ice cream for dinner, watch dirty movies, grocery shop), they kind of lose their appeal.

Also, don't forget that the goddess Catherine O'Hara plays his (really kind of crappy) mother, and don't miss John Candy of the Kenosha Kickers and Tim Curry at the Plaza Hotel.



3. Love Actually

Is there any girl person with a registerable heart beat that doesn't like love Love Actually? Aside from being incredibly romantic, it also manages to be funny, sad and heartwarming — everything you could ever want in a holiday film. Oh and it also has Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Kiera Knightly (before she was a thing), that dude from the Walking Dead and a whole bunch more of adorable, sexy and hilarious adults and children, most of which talk in British accents.  



2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

The shortest (and oldest) on my list, A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my top picks mostly for nostalgia-sake. I've been watching it every year I can remember, since my grandpa bought me the VHS (I've since upgraded to DVD).

This year we're using it as inspiration for our animated company Christmas card, and it's renewed my interest in the Peanuts gang. I never really got into the other cartoons (Great Pumpkin - meh), but this one will always hold a special place in my heart. Not to mention it is also one of my favorite Christmas albums of all-time.



1. Christmas Vacation

There is literally no better Christmas movie, in my opinion, than Christmas Vacation. You might even say I'm a little obsessed with it. I have a set of moose mugs to drink egg nog, two (of the four) Hallmark ornaments and even this tacky t-shirt. This movie will always be hysterically funny to me, in fact, it's also in my list of top-five funniest movies of all-time (maybe one day I'll share the rest). To know me is to hear me quote it all year long, and laugh every single time.

It's impossible for me to pick a favorite moment or character, but it's hard to beat any interaction between Cousin Eddie — with his metal plate, cruising into town on fumes in his tenement on wheels — and Clark W. Griswold.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sarah and Hank FOREVA



So it's been nearly a week since Mark broke up with Sarah on Parenthood, and while I don't have anything personally against Jason Ritter (except maybe that I don't dig the porn 'stache), I loved every minute of it. Mostly because I also love every minute that Ray Romano and Lauren Graham share the screen, and I'm hoping beyond hope that this means they'll get together JUST LIKE THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO.

At this point I feel even more invested in Sarah and Hank than I did in Luke and Lorelai. That's how big.

Also: did you see the preview for this week's episode? They can't really let Kristina die, CAN THEY??

Blue Carrot Gift Guide: For Stockings



** Don't forget that you can save 20% off your order in the shop w/the code "BLUECHRISTMAS" until 12/31! **

Friday, December 7, 2012

How I Spend the Christmas Season

Stores start putting out Christmas merchandise in October and I'm like:


Then people start lining up weeks ahead of time for Black Friday sales at places like Best Buy and I'm like:


I hear about stampeding moms at Wal Mart and I'm the one person that's like:


My Uncle and I go Black Friday shopping in a heavily-Jewish area of town, which is usually deserted and we're like:


But then I see someone headed for the same thing I want and I'm like:


For the next week I get approximately two hundred emails containing the words "cyber Monday" and I'm like:


But then two people buy something from Blue Carrot Shop and I'm like:



Then I realize I have extra money in my PayPal account and I'm like:



I fill up online shopping carts only to be mere pennies away from receiving free shipping and I'm like:


Then I add and subtract items until I've spent exactly enough to get free shipping and I'm like:


Then I realize I've hit my spending limit for each person and I'm like:


Then I buy even more things because:


Then I decide that I'll just make cookies for EVERYONE, which ends up looking more like this:


Then I wrap my gifts and put them under the tree, and my cats are like:


Then Christmas comes around and while I'm hoping it looks like this:


Thanks to climate change it's been looking more like this:


Then I pass out my gifts and I feel like:


Until someone gets me something way less awesome then the gift I gave them, and I'm like:


 And spending time with our families always starts out like this:


 And ends up like:


And after eating ALL OF THE THINGS, I pledge to eat better for the New Year, which starts out like:


But pretty soon I'm right back to being like:

 

NEED MORE GIF RECAPS? See how I spent election night

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmastime is Here!

I don't go super crazy with holiday decorations, but I've been slowly accumulating things over the years and I'm really happy with my growing collection. I've tried to stick to a wintery, red and white type of feel — I'm pretty traditional in my Christmas tastes. I got the stockings from Target last year (hung by our bookshelf with care), including the two tiny felt ones for our cats.

I got these ric-rac trimmed towels last year at TJ Maxx, and this year I picked up the snowflake placemats (Target again). I've had my eye on these votive holders, but I haven't been able to quite justify the purchase yet (gimme some time, I'll think of something).

PS - Can you spy the cat portrait by Rachael? It makes me smile daily.

I was always a huge stickler for real trees growing up, but my man already had this faux tree when I moved in, and who am I to argue with something pretty, free, and incredibly easy to set up (it's even pre-lit)?

I've been collecting ornaments for pretty much my entire life, and I have a good mix of vintage, Hallmark and bulbs. It's always hard to pick favorites, but my Christmas Vacation ones make me smile every time I pass the tree. I wish I had the other two in the set (the RV and light-up house), and not only because they are bringing insane prices on eBay right now.

Lastly, one of my very favorite things in my house is this faux bois ceramic vase I got a few years ago from Anthropologie. I switch out the foliage depending on the season — lilacs for summer, Japanese lanterns for fall and holly for winter. Like the tree, I used to abhor fake flowers, but I've been able to find some really nice looking ones lately — a far cry from the dew-drops-on-roses that I will hate always and forever.

I'm really trying to enjoy Christmas this year because we were away for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I'm nearly done with my shopping, and soon it will be time for the annual viewing of Christmas Vacation, complete with rum and eggnog sipped from these mugs, but of course.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Presents for Me



So I finished most of my Christmas shopping today, including a particularly good haul on Amazon.com whereby a savvy combination of gift card credits (thank you Key Bank Rewards, and Amazon Credit Card!) I ended up scoring more than a hundred dollars in gifts for a mere $11.38.

Which led to me looking for one last gift for my man on eBay, where I stumbled (aka I was searching for Meryl Streep posters, totally for my man, I swear) upon two posters from 70s stage productions starring Ms. Streep — Measure for Measure, with John Cazale, and The Taming of the Shrew with Raul Julia. So I made "best offer" offers on them, thinking, oh they won't be accepted.

But then they were.

So, I am now the proud (and broke) owner of these two amazing (and huge — 30" x 45") posters, and now all I have to do is find frames and a place to display them. There's something I love about them being illustrations, and I would imagine they didn't produce many of either.

One of my very favorite experiences in life was seeing Meryl at the Delacorte in Mother Courage, and I can only imagine how wonderful she was in her other performances. I actually know how amazing she was in The Taming of the Shrew, however, and so can you thanks to this video.

Now I just have to save my money for this one to complete the set.

Dream Team

[source]
By now I'm sure you've seen these photos of Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton taking an iPhone photo of themselves at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception, but I haven't been able to stop staring at them in days. Aside from just being adorable, how amazing are these two women? And how approachable and fun do they look, despite being, like, the two most important women on the planet?

If Michelle Obama had joined in, I think I might not have even been able to handle the greatness of it all. I can't tell you what I would give to have a copy of the photo(s) Meryl took. Oh, to be able to flip though that picture roll.

Edit: My amazing friend (and fellow Streep fanatic) Trent has alerted me that I can, in fact, own this photo for the price of $200 (which goes to a charity of your choice). Um, does anyone want to get me a last minute Christmas present?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tea Time

1. Vanilla Cinnamon  |  2. Candy Cane  |  3. Tazo Zen  |  4. Lipton  |  5. Cookie Butter  |  6. Honey Ginseng  |  7. Cat Mug

I always thought tea was kind of wimpy — like coffee's weaker, annoying kid sister. But lately, I've been thinking that I have definitely short-changed tea in a big way. Now I find that I even prefer it to coffee on a lot of days. Sure I still fill an IV drip with Dunkin' Donuts Gingerbread Cookie coffee (and peppermint mocha creamer OH. EM. GEE.) on those days when I can't seem to wake up, but I've become more adventurous lately in my tea game.

My gateway tea was plain 'ole Lipton's green tea, and it's still one of my staples. From there I moved on to other green varieties including The Republic of Tea's honey ginseng, and my favorite: Tazo Zen Green Tea. This weekend I bought two holiday teas from Trader Joe's — I'm sipping the vanilla cinnamon right now (so delicious and Christmassy) and can't wait to try the candy cane.

Of course the right mug can make all the difference (I also judge books by their covers SO WHAT), and I couldn't resist this cat-themed one from Target, because 1. cats and 2. THEY'RE GRAY! Also, just because, have you tried the cookie butter from Trader Joe's? I picked up my first jar this weekend, and I'm already looking for excuses to put it on every single thing I eat. When I was at the store, I saw a woman fill up her cart with at least 15 jars. I thought it was odd until I tasted it, and now I just think she's a genius.

What are some other teas I should try? Should I get more adventurous and add something besides honey? What are your favorites? Does this cookie butter make me look fat?