Sunday, December 21, 2008

I should have just worn a baseball cap. And a winner!

Is there anything more awkward than randomly running into your (former) hairdresser, trying desperately to pretend that your hair is not about 5 inches shorter than when she last saw you?

I think not.

I was shopping at Walmart on Friday, trying to remember everything I needed for Christmas while juggling numbers in my head to make sure I didn't go over my budget. In the midst of my deep contemplation, I heard someone say, "Hey, you!"

I glanced up and didn't recognize her at first. Then slowly the fuzziness fled my brain and it dawned on me...My hairdresser! Oh. no. I have NEVER seen her before outside of the salon, and of all times to run into her, it had to be after I went somewhere else and got my hair chopped.

My mind raced as I alternated between wishing my hair would magically grow 5 inches to wondering if she noticed. Worse, I was so worried about what she was thinking that I could barely make any type of decent conversation with her. Should I explain? I promise, I only got it cut because I was in Indiana and I couldn't pass up a $15 haircut at the Aveda Institute, not because I don't like you, because I do, I really really do!

Naturally, being the don't-rock-the-boat kind of person that I am, I said nothing. We chatted about her kids and Christmas and gift-buying, and she never once mentioned my hair. But I know she noticed.


Weird, isn't it? That whole feeling that you've "cheated" on your hairdresser...anyone else been there? I know, it's my hair, I can go where I want, and I shouldn't worry about it, but still...weird.

Moving on...

I know I have missed the last few HFTH updates. Last week Missy forgot to put up Mr. Linky until Friday night, so that was my excuse for not linking up. However, I actually did lose another pound last week, so that puts me at 5 pounds total. I think it's obvious that unless The Biggest Loser calls and invites me to be part of a special Christmas episode, I'm not going to reach my original goal. It would have been nice, sure, but I'm not completely disappointed...I mean, I still lost 5 pounds during the holidays. I know better than to complain about that. But I know I have a long way to go, and so even though the HFTH sisters will probably not continue, at least in any unified fashion, I will still be plugging away on my own. I will not be sorry when all of the Christmas baking and birthdays and temptation are behind me and I can start to focus again.

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes you have sent my way...I appreciate every single one! I had a lovely birthday today - the highlight was when Savannah insisted that the cheesecake squares that I was making for the cookie exchange was my birthday cake, and that I needed to light a candle right then and there so she could sing Happy Birthday to me. I lit my Christmas Cookie Candle, put it next to the cheesecake, and then proceeded to get all weepy and blubbery as she sang, "Happy Birthday, dear Mo-mmmmyyyyy". Tell me that isn't the best present ever. And then when I blew out my candle she got mad and told me to light it again because she was supposed to be the one to blow it out.

On to the giveaway...I plugged in the numbers to, and the winner of a $5 Starbucks gift card is... Sara! Congrats...I'll be emailing you to get your address.

Speaking of Starbucks, my girlfriends took me out Saturday night to dinner and then for coffee afterwards, and my friend Tara talked me into trying the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. It was very good, but in my humble opinion it still does not hold a candle to my beloved Caramel Macchiato or the Peppermint Mocha. But now I can say that I've tried it.

Happy Monday!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

How about a Caramel Macchiato?

First of all, several weeks ago I won a giveaway from the very lovely and lovable Linda at Growin' with it. I have been meaning to mention it and say a huge thank you to her - she sent me a super cute scarf and a gift card to Target (which is long gone by now, big surprise, right?). Linda, you're the best!

I also recently won another giveaway, a gift card to Starbucks. I was so very excited about this, because I just don't treat myself to Starbucks very often, and as soon as I won I was already debating in my head whether to buy a Peppermint Mocha with it, or to try something new like the Salted Hot Chocolate thing I keep hearing about (which, honestly, sounds very weird...but you all keep raving about it, so I totally trust my bloggy friends' taste buds).

But, since I am still in the middle of my weight loss challenge, I couldn't quite bring myself to indulge in a Starbucks drink. Yes, I know they have the sugar-free varieties, but call me crazy, I want the real thing when I go to Starbucks.

And so I have held onto this card until this week. Which happens to be my birthday week. (My poor hubby - not only does he have Christmas presents to contend with, he also has my birthday on the 21st and then Savannah's birthday on the 27th. He's a trooper).

So my point is, I have decided to do a giveaway for one $5 Starbucks gift card to celebrate my birthday. Leave me a comment on this post, and tell me the best thing that has happened to you this week. And since it's my birthday, I would love to hear from all of you - yes, even those of you who visit faithfully but prefer to lurk. It's open to anyone, even if you don't have a blog, and even if you're one of my real-life friends. I might even throw in a couple of other goodies...hmmm. I'll pick a name on Sunday night, my actual birthday, and let you know on Monday. It probably won't get to you until after Christmas, though.

So that's birthday present to myself...passing along the glorious calories of Starbucks to you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gift Cards and Fire Pits

So, last Saturday evening, we went to our favorite resort here in town for dinner. It had suddenly occurred to me sometime last week that the gift card we had received from Ricardo's previous boss for Christmas last year was somewhere around a year old, and I began to wonder if it had an expiration date. I called on Thursday, the 11th, to check on it, and they informed me that yes, it would expire a year from the purchase date. Ok, fine, I thought, we probably have a few weeks left.

Then I happened to rummage through Ricardo's dresser that afternoon and found the envelope it came in. You can imagine the sinking feeling I felt when I read, Expires December 8th.

4 days! We had missed it by just 4 days. I was so bummed. There was over $125 left on the card, and I could not believe that we had just thrown the equivalent of 5 free meals down the drain. That gift card had been a little bright spot to us in an otherwise financially tough year; we always felt like we were on a mini vacation when we went to the resort for dinner.

But when I talked to Ricardo about it that night, we started to wonder if it was really the truth, if their system had actually cancelled it out, or if we could try to get in a few more times. I know that sometimes gift card policies are somewhat lax, and so we decided it was worth a try.

So we got all dolled up (well, Savannah and I did - Ricardo probably would not appreciate that term being applied to him) and made the trek to the other side of the city. I checked first with the front desk, handing them my card and asking the balance, and they never said anything about it being expired, which made me feel better. But I still held my breath as I handed over the gift card to the cashier when we entered the restaurant buffet. I guess she didn't catch the surreptitious glances that Ricardo and I threw each other, because she smiled at Savannah as she chatted with us, and then said, "Here you go! Enjoy!"

As we ate, we speculated on why the card was still good, and wondered how much longer it would be before it was cancelled out of their system. Perhaps they left it in the system until the end of the year? Maybe it really never expired and they just told people it did to get them to use it faster? Such was our fascinating dinner discussion.

And then, that is when I came up with the brilliant idea of buying a new gift card with the old one, adding on a few dollars for good measure. I sent Ricardo to the front desk to do the deed, while Savannah and I wandered around the lobby admiring the 25 foot Christmas tree.

Then Ricardo walked toward us, new gift card held triumphantly in hand.

And I feel so much better knowing that $100 didn't go to waste. You have no idea how that bothered me.

We glanced outside as we passed the doors that led to the pool area, and noticed that at the far end of the courtyard there was a fire pit burning. It wasn't terribly cold, just enough to remind us that it was December, so we strolled outside. As we approached, we noticed another couple, middle-aged, snuggled together in a cozy manner by the fire pit. I didn't want to interrupt, and so we started to veer in a different direction, but the lady leaned forward and called to us that we were welcome to join them. We thanked her as we greeted them and then settled ourselves onto the pillow-covered bench, gazing into the fire. It wasn't a real fire, but rather a gas fire with somewhat fakey-looking flames flickering about on a bed of small dark rocks. It was a perfect evening, with the mountains standing darkly in the background, an almost-full moon about to make an appearance, and soft music wafting over the air in romantic waves.

Savannah, who was oohing and ahhing over the leaping flames, suddenly noticed the rocks, and with just a few words shattered the mesmerizing ambiance.

"Mama!" She gasped, with amazement evident in her voice. " that....poopy?"

A titter rippled from the couple, as Ricardo and I rushed to assure her that it was not, in fact, poopy. "It's rocks, baby," I said, even as my voice shook with laughter.

"Ohhhhh! Rocks! Not poopy..." the confusion was cleared up.

Sometimes I wish I were 3 and could get by with saying whatever I wanted like that. Oh, the innocence.

We stayed a few minutes and watched the moon burst above the mountain, and then the cold started to creep in and we made our way back to the car. Ricardo surprised us by taking us to a Christmas light display here in town. It was admittedly a bit cheesy, but Savannah loved it, and in seeing it through her eyes, it was easy to experience the magic of it.

It was just one of those nights that you wish would never end.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Come on, ring those bells....light the Christmas tree...

The lovely BooMama is hosting the third annual Christmas Tour of Homes, and I'm so excited to get in on it...


So, come on in, everybody!

In the interest of full disclosure (otherwise known as keepin' it real), my house was not picked up when I snapped these pictures. But due to some masterful cropping, you should be none the wiser.

We like our house to have a lived in feel.

So, here is what you see as you come in the front door...

When it comes to Christmas villages, I think you either love them or you hate them. I happen to love them. My hubby, not so much. But he loves me, and so the village prevails. And what makes it even better is when I find a piece that is seriously on sale after Christmas - one of these pieces retailed for $60, and I snagged it for less than $7 a week or so after the holidays. Oh, how I love a good deal.

Here's our tree. We are working on collecting meaningful and sentimental pieces for my daughter, but so far we don't have a lot.

I had some help decorating this year. Who says a tree heavy-laden with ornaments only at the bottom is a bad thing? Not this girl! Where else are you supposed to put them when you're only 2 1/2 feet tall?

The entertainment center boasts some garland and some glittery gold trees, another fabulous after-Christmas find. I purchased them intending to give them away as gifts, and as you can see, my good intentions ended here. On top of my own cabinet.

Stockings over our fireplace, the kind which leaps to life at the flick of a switch. Doesn't have quite the same ambience as a real fireplace, but it's pretty handy nonetheless.

The centerpiece on my dining room table...

My sparkly Christmas tree candle...

And the nativity scene in my daughters room. She has been strictly directed not to touch, but we all know what a temptation that is when you are not quite three. And really, I don't care all that much...getting to touch is all part of the magic, I think.

A few years back, we got almost a foot of snow - extremely unusual for our area. I am including this picture, because it makes me feel so warm and cozy, and it's how Chrismtas is supposed to look. I am still dreaming of a White Christmas for this year, although chances are it will be sunny and 50 degrees.

And that's it! Thank you so much for stopping by. From our house to yours...have a very Merry Christmas!

Oh, and many, many thanks to our lovely hostess!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Visions of Sugarplums - and Cinnamon Rolls - dance in my head...

I had an evening at home alone tonight. Ricardo had a meeting at church and he took Savannah with him. Even better, he just called and told me that they were bringing in pizza for everybody, so I didn't have to worry about feeding him when he gets back.

I had big plans for sitting down and blogging all evening. Catching up on the past few weeks' worth of stuff that has been going on around here. Things like the new haircut that I got when I was in Indiana, which I may or may not have cried a few tears over. (More on that later, when I get up the courage to post a pic of it).

But instead, I found myself curled up on the couch with my favorite blanket, the TV on, and the Food Network website pulled up. And the Better Homes and Gardens site. And my Taste of Home magazine next to me. Oh, my my my. I have officially been bitten by the Christmas baking bug.

When the Pioneer Woman reposted her Cinnamon Roll recipe earlier this week, I decided then and there that we would have to start a new tradition here at the Moments and Memories household.

So I told Ricardo, "Guess what? From now on I think I am going to make fresh homemade Cinnamon Rolls every year on Christmas morning."

And he replied, "How 'bout every morning?"

I think the plan meets with his approval. And yes, my HFTH sisters, I know it is not HFTH approved. But I think I can get by with it once a year.

But then I saw this piece of goodness on the Food Network site...Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze, from none other than Emeril.

And now I'm torn. Coffee Cake or Cinnamon Rolls?

I have also been debating about whether or not to have a Christmas Cookie Exchange with a couple of my friends. It is such a busy time for everyone, obviously, but it sounds like so much fun. And you get at least six different kinds of cookies for the trouble of making one. Except, I wouldn't be able to limit myself to baking just one, and I would probably make these:

And these:

And these:

And of course, I would give them all away. Oh yes I would. Why would I keep temptation like this around the house?

So, if you were coming to a cookie exchange at my house, what would you bring?


Friday, December 05, 2008

Back home

Well, hi there!

I am back after almost 2 weeks of no posting, and boy, does it feel a little weird trying to get back into the swing of things. My Google Reader is bursting at the seams and begging me to get busy reading and commenting, but there are other important things to do, like sitting on the couch watching Christmas movies. (Elf, anybody?)

I didn't mention it beforehand, due to the unknown crazy burglar people that most undoubtedly are lurking at my blog just waiting for me to leave, but we went to Indiana for Thanksgiving. Savannah was beside herself with excitement. She remembered so much from our August trip, and she was sure that she was going to get to pick raspberries with Kampa again. But Indiana trades fresh berries for snow in November, and so she contented herself with stomping around in the little bit of fresh powder that fell on Monday.

I realize that Thanksgiving is past now and you all have moved on to Christmas, so I will just post one picture that pretty much sums up how we all felt about Thanksgiving dinner. Notice that the protein and vegetables are being ignored in favor of the mashed potatoes. She's a smart one, this carb-lovin' girl.

I know I should be doing a Fit Friday post right now, and I might later on, but last time I jumped on the scale (after Thanksgiving, mind you) I was holding steady - no loss, but no gain either. In fact, my mom has a most tricky scale at her house and I thought for about 1.5 seconds that I had actually lost 2 or 3 pounds. Then she had to go and burst my bubble by telling me that the scale is about 3 pounds light. Whatever. I chose to believe that I had lost until I got back home and my evil (and accurate) scale informed me otherwise. The delusion was nice while it lasted.

Y'all can go visit Missy if you want to see some people that had some actual HFTH success this week...

Hopefully I will be by to visit you all later...I am determined to get my reader cleared out. Have a great weekend!