Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday shopping

We're hooked on xbox 360, it's a horrible horrible addiction with so many great games out, but it's a lot of fun. Since the 360 has been out for over a year, there are a lot of great titles out there, plus really good ones coming out all the time (unlike the PS3). We've already got several good games we're playing (and some we haven't even started) but there was a sale at Target we just couldn't resist.

A good friend of mine is quite a gamer and knows the type of games I enjoy. He highly recommend Orange Box as something I'd like. Orange Box contains 5 games: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Chap 1, Half-Life 2: Chap 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Half-Life games are shooters, but with quite an immersive story-line, unlike Halo. Portal is an extremely interesting puzzle game. I decided it would be a great (belated) birthday gift but I was waiting for a sale from Best Buy before getting it. Mike is a big racing fan, and is currently playing Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3). PGR4 has been released for a month or so, but he wanted to wait on buying it since he wasn't finished with PGR3, plus it would be a birthday or christmas present for him.

Imagine our surprise when I open the Target circular and find out that both Orange Box and PGR4 are on sale for $48 (regularly $60) after Thanksgiving. We decided to brave the crowds since we wanted these games. We headed to the Target in Reston at 9am, surprisingly there were absolutely no crowds at all. The Target was no busier than a typical saturday or sunday morning. We were in and out of there in about 5 minutes with the games in our grubby sweaty little hands.

I've already opened Orange Box and started Half-Life 2. It is quite fun, but I really need to hone my shooting skills...I suck! Portal is very very cool, I find myself thinking of solutions at the oddest times of the day on puzzles I'm stuck on. Mike is going to wait to start PGR4, but that's because he has more willpower than I do.

Third time's the charm - too late

We've got our third chocolate foster in a row now. We've had Maddy, Brownie (only for one week so I never blogged about her), and now Pete. Pete is an extremely cute 1.5 yr old chocolate male. He has one of the cutest faces we've ever seen, and he's very very good for a puppy (mentally labs stay puppies till about 4 yrs of age). He's pretty small, around 60 lbs, he loves to hang around people, and he can entertain himself quite well. He'll take a stuffed toy, throw it around, chase after it, and just run around. Pete is fantastic, even gets along with Max and they play tug-o-war with towels (or my shirt...whatever is more convenient). Unfortunately Pete was seen by a couple right before we got him and they've decided to adopt him. Unfortunate because Mike and I really like this dog and would have seriously thought about adopting him ourselves.

He fits in perfectly in this household - loves the couches, people, and just hanging around. He is a little more active than Max, but not so active that it drives us nuts. Pete is fantastic around kids, adults, and other dogs. We took him to the dog park this morning but he seemed more interested in smelling and marking the perimeter than actually playing with other dogs. He did do a little interacting, but much less than we expected.

We only have him for one more week until the adoption, but I plan on enjoying him the entire time.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving yums

This has been a really great year for giving thanks for us. Not only is Mike in remission from Crohn's, but his last PET scan was all clear for Hodkins. We've spent lots of time together, went on a fantastic Mediterranean cruise and discovered the joys of xbox 360 (I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or bad).

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family. Unlike Jen and Din, who had Thanksgiving twice only a few hours apart (that has GOT to be filling), once with us, and once with Din's family; we had both sides of the family at our house to celebrate. So it was my parents, Jen, Din, my cousin, and Mike's mom, sister, her kids for a total of 11 of us.

Jen came over early on thursday to help cook...actually she did most of the side dishes, I took care of the turkey. I think that worked out great since she's got our Mom's gene for cooking (YUM) and I spent a lot less time running around ragged. I brined the turkey using Alton Brown's brining method, and we had stuffing, mashed potatoes, spinach casserole, green bean casserole, mac&cheese, bread, corn, and a couple of korean dishes that my mom and aunt brought over. I'm surprised our table didn't start groaning with all the weight. The turkey came out perfect this year, very juicy, tender, and flavorful, and the sides were all fantastic. Definitely great eats, and having a lot of the family here was actually quite enjoyable. The kids played some xbox, the parents chatted, we caught up with various family news. Given the chance, I would definitely do that again next year. I thought it would be a bit crazy, but it turned out wonderful.

Knit craze

I seem to have exchanged my stitching mojo into knitting mojo in the last couple of months. I've put away all my cross-stitch stuff and pulled out my knitting. Course I think Sue's birthday present to me had a lot to do with this sudden urge for knitting. She's seen me drool over the Great American Aran Afghan for over a year so she finally told me to pick out some yarn and bought me all the yarn I needed to complete this afghan for my birthday! So by the time 25 skeins of yarn came in, I was giddy with anticipation. I finished my first square (there are 24 total knit squares) after restarting the sucker more than a few times (gauge was wrong, knit too tight, read pattern incorrectly, etc). The advantage of re-doing the square a few times is by the fourth retry, I'm already familiar with the pattern so I'm whizzing through it pretty fast.

After I finished my first square, I thought I'd try making some socks with some sock yarn Cindy got for me a couple of years ago. It only took me about 2 weeks to finish a pair (with lots of breaks in between). I'm extremely proud of how well they turned out! Since they fit perfectly on Jen, I gave them to her since she loves all sorts of goofy socks. Now I've been told I have to make her more of them.

Now I'm trying to finish up a shawl, only about 13 more rows to go, but I really should be good, put down all my knitting and get started on my christmas ornament exchange. If I'm not careful, I may not get it done in time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Halloween Christmas

In an earlier post, I mentioned the Halloween exchange I've participated in and the project I sent forward. Well, I got mine in the mail a few days ago and it was a doozy! Vicky sent me an amazing Halloween bell-pull! Unfortunately the picture doesn't quite do it justice, it is quite sparkly and gorgeous. I can't wait to hang it up for next year.

Vicky also sent me a whole lot of loot. I got a really cool Blue Ribbon Designs Halloween Sampler, some yummy Lindt chocolate, some hand-dyed fabric, and a LOT of gorgeous floss. Now I have to figure out how to use all this stuff but for now I think I'll just fondle it and dream.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Roughing it

Ok, we didn't *really* rough it much. Since we've both starting job hunting and (hopefully) will start working by mid-dec or early jan, we decided to take a short vacation away from the house. With the pretty leaves starting to sprout, we booked a cabin in Luray for a couple of days and took Max with us. The cabin had a fireplace, great view, and all the regular amenitites we could want. We spent a few hours at Shenandoah, drove Skyline Drive and hiked one of the trails (only 2 miles long). Max really enjoyed the hike, he was all over the place sniffing everything he could, and of course marking everything he could.

We spent a lot of time together at the cabin without interference from the internet, tv, xbox or the phone. We got to play some scrabble (yay, I won!), work on a puzzle together, read, talk, and sit in front of the fire. It's not like we were stressed and needed to get away, but it was nice to go someplace else and actually spend time together. The view was quite nice, the leaves were still colorful, and the weather was in the low-60s. Overall a relaxing fantastic couple of days.

Strangely, we think Max is more of a homebody than us. He seemed a bit off while we were at the cabin, we think he just likes being at home where he's used to his routine and all his comfort areas (dog beds, couches, bed).

Halloween exchange

This post is way overdo. I originally put it off because I had to wait for my recipient to receive the package, but after she got it, I just never got around to posting about it.

Back in late August, a group of us decided to do a halloween/finishing exchange. The idea was to stitching a halloween theme piece and actually finish it into something neat (ie ornament, biscornu, fob, needlecase, etc). I found a cute Lizzie Kate design so I stitched it and finished it into a box ornament. Finishing a project is always a bit scary since you don't want to mess up your stitching by doing a crappy job. In this case, Sue and I did our finishing together to give each other some encouragement. I'm quite pleased with how the whole thing turned out and mailed the finished box with a lot of neat goodies (stitching chart, chart pack, chocolates, and yarn) to my recipient.

Whew, next is my Christmas ornament exchange! I don't think I'm going to do as many exchanges this year. As soon as a project because an obligation I always lose interest!

Halloween for Max

Max has always been a bit of a chow-hound and will take advantage of situations where we've left food available. In the past, he's learned how to self-feed from the dog container and if we leave the pantry door open he'll eat whatever he can reach. We've learned to keep things off the counter, shut the pantry door, empty the open trash cans of candy/snack wrappers, etc. One of the places he's never gotten to is the middle of our kitchen table so we've placed items there to keep out of Max's reach. Right after Halloween, we had a large bucket full of candy left and we kept it on the kitchen table so we can randomly grab a snack when we wanted. Max had left it alone so we never worried about it (can you see where this is going...?). Last friday, I went out for some chores and came back a couple of hours later. I walked into the family room and noticed an empty skittles wrapper. Realizing that skittles wrapper used to be full of skittles and in the middle of the kitchen table, I walked back into the kitchen and realized Max had got between two chairs, put his front half on the table and slid the bucket of candy close enough wherein he began to graze like a horse out of the bucket. He must have had a fair share of candy because he left about 15 pieces in the bucket (and left the bucket on the kitchen table); however he had eaten about 50 pieces of halloween candy -- wrappers and all!

I was a bit worried about how all that sugar, chocolate, and wrappers would react inside of Max so I decided to keep an eye on him for the afternoon. If he took a turn for the worse, I would take him into the vet. He spent most of the time sleeping and wasn't in any discomfort. I knew he was perfectly fine when I was making my lunch and he came begging for food like nothing had happened. It took about 3 days but he finally started passing all the wrapper out which made picking up his poop REALLY interesting. Needless to say, we've stopped putting food on the kitchen table.