Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow Day

In what is hopefully not becoming a New Years Eve tradition, New England was the recipient of the 2nd consecutive NYE snow storm. Snowfall was much less this year than last and stopped by mid-afternoon which meant there was no way I was staying indoors all day.

So I ended 2009 with one of my favorite passtimes.... a pedicure. So yes, even though there was snow on the ground, I had flips on getting pretty toes. Not a bad way to end the year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

See Ya Christmas

Well it's been almost a week since Christmas and I'm still getting over it. The traveling and eating and generally laziness that comes along with the holiday season has left me exhausted. We had a very lovely holiday and were very fortunate to receive many nice gifts, but the best gift of all was to spend some much needed time with family.

I made these cupcakes and also baked cookies for the festitivies, but am now still too lazy to write out the recipe.

Next up: 2010. Big things in store for the Ciccarelli's. Big things.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 12): Spending Time With Family

Without a doubt, my favorite thing about the holiday season is spending time with family. I can probably be heard over and over throughout the month of December saying how I hate the shopping for gifts because it's not the most important part about Christmas. The busy shopping malls and stressful process of selecting, paying for and wrapping (ok I do love the wrapping) makes Christmas seem a little less like a family holiday and a little more like a retailer's dream.

What I'm looking forward to the most tonight and tomorrow is spending time with family. We'll spend the day today and tonight with my mother and sister and join in on the Ciccarelli family craziness tomorrow. I love the close knit family time that we'll spend together, laughing and enjoying each other's company. I so look forward to watching the little kids open their gifts and get excited. Most of all, I look forward to spending another holiday season with Larry and hope that at a Christmas in the very near future, we will have another stocking to hang for a new little wide-eyed Ciccarelli to get excited about (much like the little Larry III shown above in his very first Christmas picture).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 11): Christmas Decorations

OK so I already touched on Christmas Trees but I would be cheating if I didn't also mention my love of outdoor Christmas decorations. There are two things that I love - the first is driving around looking at all the wonderfully (aka tastefully) decorated houses this time of year. I remember growing up that my mom would always take us on drives to look at houses that go all out. I used to love going to those parks where you just drive for a few miles and see the decorations. Houses that fall into this category are those shown below - simple white lights and wreaths.

The other thing that I (really) enjoy looking at is tacky Christmas decorations. We're talking Clark Griswold houses. There is a long list of decorations that I hate which include big tacky colored lights, reindeer/deer (especially the animated ones) and last but not least the inflatibles. I can't remember when these stupid things started popping up but I hate them. Every year, it seems like there are more and more. They're ridiculously tacky and I can't understand why anyone would want one on their lawn!

And on a side note, because I thought this was really entertaining (and I can't believe people have this much time on their hands to put something like this together), here is a house that lights up to match up to Christmas music.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 10): Snow

I heard on radio this morning that the definition of a "White Christmas" is at least 1 inch of snow on the ground. Well thanks to the storm that dumped a foot on CT this past weekend, it looks like we'll have one.

I admit it, I'm a White Christmas dreamer. I do love living in New England and enjoy the occasional snow storm (read: I like the first snow and any other snow that does not conflict with my social calendar and allows me to hibernate indoors on a weekend when I was already planning to do so) so I always long for snow on Christmas. I love the thought of having fresh snow on the ground for Christmas morning. Seeing houses and trees covered with a pretty white layer makes me smile.

This past weekend during the snow storm, Larry and I enjoyed the rare opportunity to just relax and enjoy. We took advantage of Larry's newfound love of the fireplace and just hung out (OK will minus the trip to work at Baby Gap on Sunday morning). I can only hope that with today being the first day of winter, that the rest of the snow storms we get this season are as enjoyable as this one. It's not likely but a girl can dream...

Larry's masterpiece

Yes, I really drove Sunday morning to work here

Picturesque downtown Greenwich (yay for the new Ralph Lauren) covered in snow

Sunday, December 20, 2009

RIP Larry's iPhone

7/11/08 -12/19/09

Yesterday we mourned the loss of a great companion. After a fateful visit through the washing machine, Larry's beloved white 16gb iphone is no longer with us.

After a brief miss-communication with the laundry fairy*, the iphone remained in the pocket of a pair of Larry's sweatpants bound for a saturday night laundry washing. The laundry fairy has been given a verbal warning and promises to check pockets more thoroughly after her second offense ( Larry's coach wallet met a similar fate a few years back in boston) of this nature.

Since I have promised not to bring up the topic, I apologize in advance to my husband for this post. My final parting words are that today has been wonderfully quiet without the stupid fantasy football app chiming its alerts every 5 minutes.

*the laundry fairy is our running joke about how the laundry gets done in our household. Larry often remarks that his clothes disappear from the bedroom floor and re-appear in his dresser drawers through the help of the laundry fairy. Of course we're not talking about tinkerbell here, it's really just the work of a really fantastic (read: clean freak) housewife.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 9): Oprah's Favorite Things

It's no twist of fate that Oprah's Favorite Things is on my list of Favorite Things. Every year, Oprah picks an episode and selects 20 or so of her favorite gifts for that year and gives one away to every one in her audience. Some things are small, like books or clothes, but some things are crazy like TVs or cars! You can actually refer back to the history of her lists here. In my opinoin, its the best episode of the year. Except that this year, Oprah has decided to not share her Favorite Things with the world. Bah humbug.

This episode normally airs the day before Thanksgiving and I've somehow always managed to watch it (because of early release from work or traveling home from college). Last year I tuned in and was majorly dissapointed. Oprah decided to have the theme of "How to Have the Thriftiest Holiday Ever!" and give out homemade gift ideas. I appreicate the craftiness but lady I tune in to salivate all of the ridicuslously expensive crap that I'll never have.

I get that the economy sucks and people can't afford to buy Uggs or crazy electronic equipment just because Oprah says she loves it but who cares. I'm just as happy to sit at home and watch the sheer delight in the lucky son of a bitch's eyes who have the dumb luck to be at that particular taping. As long as someone gets the free stuff, I'm fine with watching it on TV and dreaming....

I thought this picture was funny. I'm sure all of her employees are paid well which is probably the only reason they subject themselves to dressing up like elves

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What is Wrong With Kids These Days?

I don’t ever remember being obsessed with having any one toy for Christmas (except maybe the year the Barbie motorized Jeep came out but even at that young, I knew there was no way in hell I Santa was bringing it) but I certainly understand the craze sometimes. I thought that the Tickle Me Elmo was cute (although would probably get really annoying really quick), and I totally understood the Wii craze from a few years ago. But this year’s hot today just leaves me confused. Supposedly these Zhu Zhu Pets are one of the top toys to get this year and I really don’t get it.

According to AOL Shopping, “Zhu Zhu Pets™ are innovative, realistic, interactive, plush, and artificially intelligent hamsters that talk and move around in their own playsets. Zhu Zhu Pets™ include two play modes: loving mode and explore mode. In their loving mode, you can pet them, love them, hear them squeak and chatter. In their explore mode, they'll scoot, scamper, bump and boogie across the floor or through their Hamster Habitat. These hamsters have over 40 different sound effects, depending on the unique environment they encounter.”

I can’t even begin to think of why any kid would want to play with a robot hamster. What’s even more startling is that these little suckers normally retail for about 10 bucks and are already being sold on ebay for $50-$100 which is ridiculous. I haven't seen a toy this stupid since the Furby doll (another hot Christmas gift that left me saying WTF?). I guess I’m mostly annoyed that I didn’t know of this stupid toy sooner so that I could have stocked up on them and made a huge re-sale profit on ebay.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 8): Advent Calendars

When you're young, I think it's a cardinal rule that once it hits November, you start counting down for Christmas. Nothing heightens the countdown like an advent calendar. It's there everyday to remind you exactly how many more days are left until December 25th.

When I was little, my mom had had painted a gorgeous wooden advent calendar with a great big christmas tree and a tiny peg for every day of the month where a tiny ornament would hang until it's day came to be moved onto the tree. The highlight of course was Day #24 where there was a miniture baby jesus in a cradle but I used to also love picking the other ornaments (candy canes, snowflakes, drums, angels, toys, snowmen, etc.) each day and placing them on the tree. It's such a great memory of my childhood.

Since I haven't lived at home for several years for Christmas, I was so happily surprised to find out that Larry's family had their own advent calendar tradition. Every year, Larry's grandparents would gift him with the best kind of advent calendar - the ones with chocolate! Now I had never seen these until I was in college so I don't know how I managed to miss out on this but I now look forward to it every year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 7): Christmas Trees

Although this is the 5th Christmas that Larry and I have lived together (crap, does that really mean we graduated almost 5 years ago?) we have never put up a Christmas tree. When we lived in Boston, our apartment's landlord wouldn't allow it and we also took off for CT for the holidays, making it not even worth it to try to sneak one in. Then for the last few years, we've lived with family so we'd help with theirs but never really considered it our own.

And since we don't have one again this year, we took some time out this weekend to help decorate Grandma & Grandpa's tree with the kids. A great replacement, but still looking forward to next year for a tree of our own!

Larry and Jillian

Jack's only contribution (and a sign that the Ciccarelli family is made up only of Yankee fans)

the finished product (minus the top)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 6): Holiday Baking

I really do enjoy to bake all year round but definitely enjoy holiday baking the most. Christmas brings out the kind of creativity and details that just don't go into ordinary chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes.

Last year, Brooke and I took on the daunting task of creating cookie gift baskets to distribute. We spent an entire day baking all sorts of cookies which was not only fun but delicious.

When I started to think about other Christmas seasons where I've baked, 1997 immediately popped into my head because of this:

A homemade gingerbread house that my friend Sarah and I made. I only know it was from 1997, because the back reads "Hot 97" with our initials. I'm not posting it because it also includes some unfortunate close-ups of the two of us and I prefer to keep the 2009 version of us fresh in my head :). Maybe someday I'll try to actually re-create something simliar because I remember it being such a fun activity (but also very time consuming). Definitley not in the picture for this year but I'll keep it on my wish list for next year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 5): Holiday Music

Sure I enjoy the Christmas classics like "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" and "Let it Snow" but I wouldn't even count those as my favorite holiday songs.

I even really enjoy Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas". It's kind of funny to think that "new" or "original" holiday music just doesn't come out anymore and be successful. Of course many artists do cover albums or re-makes but when is the last time you've really heard something original that's stayed popular? I'd count N'Sync's "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" but I'm not sure everyone would agree with me.

Along the same lines of "original" music, the songs I really like at Christmas are the terrible, cheesy holiday songs that kind make your ears hurt. Like "Dominic the Donkey" and "Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer" (although that is super red-neck) but I think the best holiday cheesy music is classic Adam Sandler.

Seems fitting with today being the first day of Chanukah, I mainly love the celebrity call-outs but it's funny, catchy, and sure to be around for years.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baby Gap = LOVE

So I decided to take on a part time holiday job working at BabyGap/GapKids. I figured it wouldn't be a bad thing to have some extra spending money for christmas gifts and that the ginormous Gap/Banana/Old Navy republic employee discount would be useful for the holiday gifts.

My only responsibilities are really just to fold clothes and keep the store in order while all the crazy parents search for clothes but I've really enjoyed it. It's mindless work and is a nice break from the office environment. And, oh my I love looking at baby clothes all day. I leave the store and my ovaries are aching for a little one to put into all the adorable clothes and every week I go in, I find something else to fall in love with.

Who couldn't resist putting a teeny tiny baby in one of these? Yes, I do realize how impractical it would be to squish an infant into this

And what about the amazing acessories? Sadly, they do not make these in adult sizes

I even got Larry interested in the baby clothes with this one

But don't worry, even though it's no secret that Larry and I want kids in the near future, I haven't gone all crazy town and bought anything yet (although Larry did say I should definitely buy the Transformers tee).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 4): D*ck in a Box

In what might quite possibly be the funniest thing to ever come out of Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake further proved to the world that he is awesome (and even hot in polyester circa 1980) with D*ck in a Box. This clip was everywhere in 2006 when it came out and it never fails to re-appear around this time every year.

I can’t even begin to explain the craziness of the video, so I’ll let Wikipedia do the talking: The music video portrays two Casanova-type men (played by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake) singing about giving Christmas gifts to their lovers (played by Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig, respectively). Each man has a gift-wrapped box attached to his waist. The lyrics include step-by-step instructions on how to create the "gift" (1: "Cut a hole in a box", 2: "Put your junk in that box", 3: "Make her open the box... and that's the way you do it!"). They also sing about how a "dick in a box" is better than other gifts, and suitable for any holiday or occasion. At the end of the film, they are both arrested and taken away by the police, presumably for indecent exposure, after they bring their boxes "backstage at the CMAs".

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 3): Holiday Movies

The month of December is also a great time to catch up on holiday classics. Although we own several of these on DVD, I will always stop and watch when they are on TV (preferably shown with swears and without commercials). Here’s a run-down of my top favorites.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan. Although this movie is much more tame than some of his other notable classics, soon after it’s debut in 2003 it became an instant classic in my book. I laugh everytime I hear “Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?” and you have to give Will props for pulling off those yellow spandex tights.

Christmas Vacation
I said recently in conversation that it’s not often that a sequel to a movie is better than the first installment. With Christmas Vacation as the third installment in the National Lampoon’s series, it’ definitely my favorite. The Griswolds are wacky and makes me feel a whole lot better about the craziness that comes with families around the holidays. The holiday season at Bentley College was always ushered in with a group viewing of this movie which is one of my favorite college memories with my school family.

Home Alone
You can’t have Christmas without Kevin McCallister. Although this plot is somewhat unbelieveable (yes, I know it’s just a movie) it’s a movie that I know Larry will sit our kids down to watch years from now. Plus, you can’t miss out on seeing Maculay Culkin before he hit his MJ phase which just got weird for everyone. I don’t vouch for the second or third versions though, they should have stopped with the first.

Bad Santa
I’m not usually a Billy Bob supporter (although I do love Bernie Mac) but this movie is funny. It’s not a traditional Christmas flick but more of a dark comedy with some sweet moments thrown in. I do also firmly believe there are wackos out there that would name their child Thurman Merman.

Other notable mentions include How the Grinch Stole Christmas(we’re talking the animated version, not the Jim Carrey re-make), Frosty the Snowman and a Charlie Brown Christmas because I’m a sucker for kids classics.

Noticeable missing from my list of favorites are:
· Polar Express – loved the book but thought the computer children were just creepy looking (almost as bad as those creatures in A Nightmare Before Christmas). Big fail for Tom Hanks.

· Christmas Story – I may be the only person to never have seen this movie. I know it includes something about a bb gun, a frozen tongue and a leg lamp. Larry has a fit every year when I mention that I still have no desire to see it.

· It’s a Wonderful Life/Miracle on 34th Street – call me a brat but I can’t watch anything in black and white

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tsk, Tsk, Eldrick

Celebrities and scandals go hand and hand. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Tiger Woods is the latest victim of scandal. I’ve always liked Tiger Woods and thought he always seemed to be a good guy but I guess nothing surprises me these days. So it’s safe to say now that Tiger has pretty much admitted something went down.

I think most people that know me know that I have an extreme hatred for Lance Armstrong and his cheating ways but with Tiger, I’ll choose to focus on the funniest parts of this whole story:

  1. Tiger’s wife Elin supposedly used one of his golf clubs to help free him from his car

  2. I’ve read a report where Tiger told his friend in a taped phone conversation that he needed to get a "Kobe Special” or a "A house on a finger."

  3. Even though you’re a billionare, you still need to ask for favors… you know the ones where you ask your mistress to remove her name from her voicemail because your wife got hold of your cell phone?

  4. Comedians are having a field day with this whole thing. My favorite joke is from George Lopez: "“There’s a lot of speculation on what caused the crash,” Lopez said. “Let me remind you Tiger Woods is half-Black and half-Asian ... the Black side picked the rims that went on the Escalade, the Asian side was driving.”
The Woods family in happier times

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 2): Christmas Wish Lists

This next one is also top on my list of things that mean it’s almost time for Christmas. I’m pretty sure that I made Christmas lists when I was little but I never expected that I would still be asked for them at age 26. Larry’s family is very generous in the fact that they always ask for lists of things we would like for Christmas. My favorite part of this is checking out Larry’s list. He probably won’t admit it but he loves writing out his list. In fact, he started asking me back in October to start remembering things he wanted. The best part is the intricacy of this list – it almost always is created on an excel spreadsheet and is itemized to also include direct links to products that can be bought online. If I could find a picture of this year’s list I would include it just to prove how into this he gets.

As for the younger kids in our family (who are of acceptable age for still writing Christmas wish lists), I also love reading their Christmas lists. Last year’s list from Jack still has me laughing. If I can remember correctly it included gems such as: Night-vision goggles, a private jet, a TV, a couch for his room, a work-out room and a Sham-wow. Such imagination that one has, but somehow I don’t remember any of those items being under the tree last year. I got a sneak peek at this year’s list which is unfortunately not as exciting, lots of Yankees gear and some video game stuff mostly. I really hope Donna saved that 2008 list though because this is definitely one of the stories that I will be teasing him about in 10 years. Although, if he’s anything like Larry, I’m sure he’ll still be writing lists at 26 like his big cousin.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Favorites (Day 1): Holiday TV Commercials

Seeing that it is December 1st (by the way - holy crap, how is that even possible?), I thought I would get in the hoilday spirit and start a theme this month. In honor of the traditional "12 Days of Christmas", I'll be listing my "12 Favorite Things About the Holidays". So here's day 1...

It’s no secret that I love TV. Well I also am strange in the fact that I love commercials. One of the first signs that I know it’s Christmas time is when I see the Hershey Kisses holiday commercial. I’m talking about the one where those adorable little chocolate kisses ring like bells to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” It’s so simple and I love it. And I love that the good people over at Hershey’s haven’t changed the ad by touching it up or modernizing it at all over the years. I’m pretty sure it’s the same ad that’s run for years (almost 20?) and that’s why I love it.

I was getting ready for work one day last week and had the Today show on in the background and as soon as I heard those familiar bells I stopped and smiled because I knew it was Christmas.