The Book Nook

The Book Nook is my little place to talk about (not to be insanely obvious here…) books.  Because I like to read a book every year or so.  I promise I won’t give anything away (but, things happen).  And, there is a 76% chance that you’ll find this review a complete waste of time because you read the book 10 years ago.  Moving on.

THE BOOK: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

My thoughts (which most likely carry little to no influence):

This book was recommended to me a lifetime ago right here on this piddly blog and I finally buckled down and read it over the holidays.  When I say buckled down, what I mean is, I was down right glued to its delicious pages, with only one care in the entirety of the world: I needed to find out what happens to the alarmingly michevious book thief.  I’m not going to tell you what it’s about because I want you to go in blind, like me.  It’s for the best.  I stayed up until midnight reading it (you have no idea the magnitude of this gesture), with the Christmas tree all aglow and a blanket tucked around my legs.  Although I read furiously, as my heart did gymnastics and my hands sweated, I could not for the life of me, warm my feet.  Because, honestly, you can’t read The Book Thief and feel warm all over.

Grade: A++

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)?   My god, YES already!!!  That’s three exclamations!  Now four!  I need to just. stop.

What I am reading now:  Nothing right this hot second, but have I high hopes that my friend will lend me The Help.  If not, I will resort to reading the Twilight series secretly in my closet because it’s almost 2012 and I’ve got some serious catching up to do.

Pocket full of posies

Now that the holidays are over, I can finally spill the beans on my Christmas crafts.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s homemade and from the heart.

Some history.  Almost a year ago, inspired by this wreath, I made myself a little rosette pin that I’ve been wearing on my winter jacket.  I’ve collected quite a few compliments on the funky piece, which made me erratically decide that every lady I know should have one for their jacket too.  Well, everyone except my friend Becky…

Becky: “Cute pin, Candace!”

Candace: “Thanks!  I made it!  I could make one for you too!”

Becky, politely: “No, thanks though.”

Undeterred, I made one for my MIL for Mother’s Day, which she thoughtfully stabbed to her coat when she came out to visit.

Then, while at my Grandma’s for Easter last April (suffering from a ham coma which rendered my thinking a bit salty), I offered to make one for all of the ladies in my family.  It totally seemed doable, except for the small fact that I was trying to sell my house, quit my job, say goodbye and move across the country

Needless to say, my goal of finishing them in time for my cousin’s bridal shower in late May DID NOT HAPPEN.  No big deal, I was headed back to MN for her wedding that September, which would give me plenty of time to make the goods and hand them out, since the whole family would be together again.  That also DID NOT HAPPEN.  Fast forward to December.

I finally got my act together and finished them up.  It took me a long time.

I kinda love them.  I made little monogram gift tags to go with each posy pin, using supplies from my enormous craft bin.

Most importantly, I made them with love.

I sure hope they liked them.  Did you get crafty for Christmas this year?

Flashback Friday

It’s the most…wonderful time…of the year!

My twin and I, 1979.  Levi is completely astounded to be caught out in public sporting red tights.  Go on and tell MamaP how cute her little babies were, ok?  I don’t mind.

Merry Everything, y’all!

A Christmas Letter

Alas, one of the heartbreaks of moving from Minnesota is that Emily’s Christmas Card Magic is no longer at my finger tips.  Left to my own dreadful devices, I had to create my own.  I marched Hubs out to the wilderness, set up the lucky tripod and we managed to squeeze out ONE decent shot before the draw of hot coffee and bagels was too much to deny.

So, this is for those of you that I was too inconsiderate to send an actual card/letter combo to but I’m hoping you’ll forgive me anyway.

My (rein)dears, 

Now that our stint in twenty eleven is quickly coming to an end, it’s time to take a look back on what the heck just happened in the 12 month long smear that was this past year. Keep reading, this will only take a hot second and you’ve come this far already.

In early spring, we dared to dance with Disappointment and put our townhome up for sale again. Turns out, we were going about this house selling drama all wrong with tidy digs, perfectly rolled guest towels and inviting fresh cut flowers. Our misfortune came to a surprise halt the day we were ambushed with a showing, right smack in the middle of our “Let’s cook Indian food tonight!” tornado. We frantically opened all of the windows, jammed part of the meal down the disposal, stashed the unsightly rice cooker in a cupboard and the tucked rest of the oh so very fragrant grub, pan and all, into the fridge and ran for our lives. After I consoled my disgusted heart with a heaping pile of ice cream, we got our first (and only) offer that night.

Once the house sold, I quit my engineering job (a true Christmas miracle!), we bundled up all of our cherished belongings and BAM, moved out west to Boulder, Colorado.

(How could one puny sentence change my life forever!?)

Luckily, Colorado has been kind to us. We set up camp in a cute apartment complex that boasts of a grumpy hot tub (50% success rate that it will be warm) and posh fitness center that I have never used. We both work from home now on Zack’s startup, take coffee breaks on our snug patio and savor the charming mountain view. In late summer, I snagged a cross country coaching job at a local high school (bless their little puberty soaked souls), which turned out to be quite the compliment to our indulgent foodie tour of this delectable town. This adventure has been just what we needed; the perfect fit. Well…almost. We left part of our hearts and all of our memories in Minnesota. So, although we are lovingly rebuilding a life here, we don’t go a day without remembering where we came from, the smiling faces we our proud to call our friends and the folks we are blessed to be related to. I propose a toast, from our new home to yours; a toast to love, fresh and old. And lots of it. Let this new year be sweet and worth the wait.

Love,

Candace & Zack

An outtake, with my version of Michelle Bachman Eyes:  Click on the picture, it makes it big and really scary.

Happy Holidays, my internets.  Here is my letter from 2010 for all of you curious (bored) souls out there.  And try to erase the above image from your mind because crazy is not what Christmas is all about.

Holiday Cheer

I was soooooo excited to decorate for the holidays, especially since this is our first Christmas in Colorado.  My goals were simple:

1.  Use what I have.  I am completely avoiding Target/Pier1 after Christmas sales because, in all truthfulness, I feel satisfied with what I have (dissimilar to how I feel about the clothes in my closet).  Two bins worth of Christmas decorations is plenty and we don’t have room to store any more.  We don’t have room in the budget for it either.  Blogland is littered with the most beautifully decorated houses; but what we have, right this very moment, is good enough you know?

2.  Make our new place feel special for the holidays.

I’d say I gotter done.  Come check it out.

Our wreath (clashing spitefully against our pumpkin door):

Our tree (sorry about the exposure, I’m unsuccessfully trying to learn how to use our camera):

We are those fake tree people and honestly, I really like it that way.  I picked ours up at Menards a few Christmases ago and even though I keep suspecting I’ll tire of the red and gold theme that we’ve had for years; I can’t help it, I totally fall head over heels for it every December.  I absolutely love plugging the tree in, it’s my favorite part of the day.  Oh, and if you spotted the zebra gift bag under the tree (Hubs doing), then you win something.  Like a shout-out or a fist pump in your honor.

Our meh-mantel:

An awesomely crooked picture of our hutch:

Not sure if it’s apparent, but the monster hutch is taking up room where our table should be.  But isn’t it so pretty?

And, lastly, our living room:

I put mis-matched Christmas towels in the bathrooms and kitchen and called it a day.  It was free, it was festive, and along with the loving holiday cards we’ve got plastered all over the fridge, it makes my heart very happy.

How about you?  Are you pulling out the old stuff or waiting for those delicious after Christmas sales to pick out something sparkly and new for next year?  Anyone keeping their tree up until at least New Year’s like I am?

To check out these exact same decorations, a year younger, click here.

Flashback Friday

This is a Flashwaaaayback Friday.  Christmas, 1969.  MamaP, a sizzlin’ 19 year old, was rockin’ around the Christmas tree with her brother Steve and mother Audrey.

Audrey looks like she may need a quick swig of spiked eggnog, no?

Happy holidays to you, my fine folks!

Get In My Belly: Chocolate Ritz Bits

I think I made these up all by myself…but honestly all of the information in my brain is either stolen or incorrect, so take that for what it’s worth.  The important thing to remember is any moron can make these and that’s why I make them every Christmas.

Ingredients

  • Bag of milk chocolate melting chocolate (Wiltons brand from Michaels is fab.  Don’t shuffle over there without a precious 40% off coupon, ya hear?)
  • Box of peanut butter Ritz bits
  • Wax paper

**You can be naive the first go around, but once you’re a veteran, you’ll want to double the batch.

Instructions

  1. I imagine you already suspect where this is going but…melt chocolate in the microwave.
  2. Dip Ritz bits in chocolate and rest on wax paper to cool.
  3. Pop them, 4 at a time, into your pie hole at holiday gatherings and bark at anyone if they try to snag one.

My Presence

Remember, last year, when we were saving for our outrageously complicated camera and so we opted to gift each other our time in lieu of Christmas presents?  To save you the click through, basically it boils down to a bad iStock photo (which I might swap out when no one’s looking even though that’s against blog rules), a much too long title (also a target for editing) and the fact that, well, we were to gift each other a few dates instead of shiny wrapped pressies under the tree.  Can you seriously believe I agreed to that?!?

This year, we are kinda doing the same thing, with some modifications.  We are only doing three dates, TOTAL.  I pick one, Hubs picks one and we settle on one together.   It was a bit much last year with the three dates a piece and I suspect Hubs started to tire of dating me (because he already suffered through that for five years before we got married).  The second difference being, we are exchanging gifts as well (Hello Sephora?  Did you call me?), but since we are criminally stingy elves, it’ll be a small haul.

Hubs Date:

1. A hike and hot chocolate.  As in, Hubs wants to drink hot chocolate at the summit.  That’s all sorts of adorable.  We need to find a thermos, stat.

(the)Candace’s Date:

2. I’m copying last year’s because creativity is not my strong suit and I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of our morning running date, capped with breakfast.

Shared Date:

3. Either snowshoeing or cross country skiing (also a repeat), depending on what equipment we can round up on the cheap.

It’s best if you shield your eyes, but I couldn’t help but confess my excitement to spend purposeful time with my love.  He is my most favorite gift of all.