Christmas Season

Christmas Season

Gang, it's finally here! It's FINALLY HERE! No more avoiding Christmas radio stations that have already been looping holiday tunes nonstop (I hold a strict Not-Before-Thanksgiving policy). The lights can go up! The tree can sparkle! The snowmen decorations can litter my apartment! Christmas is here, friends. And it certainly is the most wonderful time of the year.

I realize I've skipped over posting about Thanksgiving (spent it Up North with Eric's family). It was wonderful and relaxing and a great holiday, and at some point I may get around to posting about it, but right now I've got a one-track mind - and it's set on CHRISTMAS.

You know the opening scene in "Christmas Vacation" where the parents are belting out Christmas carols as they drive down the road, then Clark Griswold pauses for his son to join in: "Take is away, Rust!" Well.... that was Eric and I during our three-hour drive back to Milwaukee on Sunday. Just singing along merrily the whole time, his 18-year-old brother and our cat, Mr. Pancakes, wincing from the back seat, praying for us to stop.

When we got home, we immediately dragged out the Christmas decorations from storage. We rested for about an hour, then got right to work. While spinning Christmas records we loved as kids, we put up the tree and set up all the decorations around the apartment. And later that night, we chose "Christmas Vacation" as our first holiday movie to watch for the year. It's always a good one to start off with. "A Christmas Story" comes later - at a time when we're both ready to recite it, word for word, to the ending.

Last year, although he never took kindly to his pilgrim hat for Thanksgiving, we bought Mr. Pancakes a Santa hat and a jingle-bell collar. We attempted to put them on him but it lasted just three seconds. This year, he stood still, adorned in fanciful Christmas regalia for nearly three minutes before going berzerk! That is how I was able to capture the photo above (later than night, I made this e-Christmas card for Mr. Pancakes - I know he'd want it spread all around). Mr. Pancakes loves Christmas, but he won't let anyone know - he tries to put on a gruff exterior, despite his fluffiness.

I'm not afraid to admit I am a bonafide Christmas nerd. It really is my happiest time of year. I get so worked up about it, mostly because of nostalgia. I have Christmas routines that cannot be broken (for example: I must watch every Christmas movie I loved as a child before Christmas Day or it won't really be Christmas), and I must bake plenty of treats to share with everyone around me (and eat half of them myself). I love the fact that, in the year 2010, we're all still enamored with movies, music and traditions from generations before us. Christmas is timeless and ageless and at times, even hokey, but it's the one time of year we're all expected to act like kids, and even encouraged to do so.

What's your favorite holiday? Is it Christmas? Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?


Boo - The Facebook Dog

Boo - The Facebook Dog

I have been obsessed with Pomeranians for a very long time. For years, in fact. To some, they are a dog breed that fits into the realm of "puntables," but to me, I honestly believe they are the essence of cuteness. There can be no cuter. Their teddy-bear face, their seemingly never-ending smiles and their super-plushness of fur. With these powers combined, the Pomeranian is Captain Adorable.

One day, I will own a Pomeranian of my very own, but until then, I am living vicariously through Boo, a recent Internet sensation who has more than 400,000 fans on Facebook. I forget how I first stumbled upon his fan page, but once I did I was hooked. I looked through all the photos, played every video and squealed with glee every time. I firmly believe there is no way a person can look at Boo's Facebook page and not feel instantly happy. LOOK HOW FLUFFY! LOOK HOW DOPEY! I've got Pommie envy, for sure, as Boo is, hands down, the cutest dog I have ever seen in life.

Once you become a fan of Boo on Facebook, you can follow along with his antics, gush at his photo albums and try not to jump through the computer screen to hug him. Every time I see that derpy face pop up in my news feed, I light up a little inside. 

Do you have a favorite breed of dog? Do little Pomeranian-type dogs infuriate or make you melt?


Breaking In Wisconsin Traditions

Breaking in Wisconsin Traditions

Little by little, I'm discovering all the pleasant little traditions that are either exclusive to Wisconsin, or something I'd never heard of/experienced while growing up in Ohio. One of those traditions is picking up hot ham and rolls from the market for Sunday lunch. A couple of years ago I noticed there were signs displayed in a few markets around town advertising selling hot ham and rolls on Sundays. I asked my boyfriend what was up with the love for ham and he looked at me like lobsters were crawling out of my ears. 

"You don't have hot ham and rolls on Sundays in Ohio????" 
Well... umm... I suppose if you've got a hankering for ham and rolls on a particular Sunday you could go buy some and no one would stand in your way....
"That's ridiculous. When I was little, we'd leave church, go get our hot ham and rolls, and there is Sunday lunch."
Well, OK, then. Let's get hot ham and rolls some Sunday then.

That Sunday finally came today.

We stopped by Giordano's, an adorable Italian deli/market on Brady Street that's been a Milwaukee institution for generations, a place I'd been wanting to explore for quite some time now. It's a tiny little store but full of charm - of course, Sinatra's golden pipes were serenading the shoppers as they made their way through the narrow isles of special Italian goods (and what looked like a good selection of wine!). As we put in our order for ham, I sampled some of the best croutons I've ever tasted, smiled at the framed photo of Joe DiMaggio hanging above the deli counter, then took a peek down one of the isles with the most olive oil I've ever seen in one place. They also had a really cool assortment of seed oils that I have GOT to try someday - pumpkin seed oil, I'm looking at you.

It seemed like such a sweet little shop, a real neighborhood store where everyone working there was family and all the customers were good friends. "'Ey Felix, that meat turned out great!" a customer exclaimed to what looked like Mr. Giordano, himself. I loved the place, and can't wait to go back to try one of their hot deli sandwiches.

After a spin on the bike trainer, it was time to experience my first Sunday hot ham and roll lunch. And, oh my goodness, was it ever tasty. The ham was thinly sliced, but juicy, with just a hint of slight sweetness. I layered it on pretty thick and topped it with some shaved gouda (the only cheese we had in the fridge). But really, the star of the show was the fabulous roll, baked fresh from Sciordano's, a cute little bakery just half a block from Giordano's. I've had some of their baked goods before, and there's just no beating them. The roll was soft and chewy and the perfect vehicle for the sweet ham. It took everything I had not to heat up another roll and just east it plain right after (that will probably be happening later tonight). 

I'm glad I've got another tradition under my belt. This is nothing fancy, and I'd have to say between the two, I like a Wisconsin Fish Fry better, but this is a nice little (inexpensive) treat. I'm just glad I got to take a quick look at Giordano's before it moves across Brady Street to its future, much larger location. 

Are hot ham and rolls a tradition to you on Sundays? Where is your favorite place to pick up the ham and rolls? Do you have a favorite little market like Giordano's? 


Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes

Wow... I just realized how terrible of a blogger I've been. It's been two weeks since Halloween and I've yet to post my costume! Not that many of you probably care... but I promised I'd post something the day after, and here it is, two weeks later and nothing! 

I had a really hard time coming up with a costume idea this year. I like to be creative and different with my costumes - making something that may not go over with everyone, but the people who actually do get it think it's great. I thought about this for months, and a few ideas popped in my ind, but unfortunately they were all pair costumes, and my boyfriend had had his heart set on his costume for weeks.

And then, it hit me. This spring, I saw a skit on SNL that was one of the funniest I'd seen in years (easy enough, since the show has been so downhill the last half a decade). Naturally, it featured one of the funniest women on TV in my book, Kristen Wiig. Wiig is quickly becoming one of my comedic heroes, as she's so amazing with the tiniest little facial movements and has impeccable comedic timing. Anyway, this sketch, a spoof of the classic "Lawrence Welk Shoe," killed me from the instant Wiig appeared on screen. I couldn't believe I hadn't come up with the idea to be her character, whose name I believe is Judice, sooner.

Here I am, baby hands, gigantic forehead and all:

"Someone should tell her she should consider bangs."

And Eric? Why, he was the one and only Nature Boy: Ric Flair!
Stylin' and profilin'


We really had a lot of fun with our costumes this year. They were both great characters to play, and even though I lost one of my baby hands at the end of the night, everything went off without a hitch! I already can't wait until next year! I may already have a few ideas in mind....


Lake Michigan Sunrises

Lake Michigan Sunrises

Whenever I've had visitors who'd never been to Milwaukee before, they've always marveled at just how beautiful and cool the city is. To the outsiders, they assume Milwaukee is a more industrial-looking city, with little outdoor charm. From the architecture to the landscape and especially the lakefront, this really is a gorgeous city that doesn't get enough credit from outsiders. 

I'm lucky enough to live a block or so away from the Lake Michigan waterfront, and sometimes I think I take for granted just how fantastic the location of my apartment is. I've always got a beautiful place to run, play tennis, relax on a blanket or play on the beach. And when I'm up early enough, the sun rising over Lake Michigan is a scene that really can't be beat.

This morning, Eric was up bright and early due to the Daylight Saving Time change. I'd told him he needs to start using his camera more, because I've been getting more use of it lately than he has! So he quickly got dressed, grabbed his camera and took off to get some early-morning sunrise photos. I wish I could say I went with him, but not even the beauty happening outside could pull me from bed before 7 a.m. this morning...

Here are some examples of just how amazing Milwaukee, and especially my neighborhood, can be in the morning:



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