Wednesday, December 30, 2009
January 25th - we got engaged the day before my dad's birthday in our living room after making dinner together. It was such a memorable moment and we were absolutely thrilled to share the news.
March 8th - I went shopping for my wedding dress with my mom, sister, bridesmaid, grandmother, and aunt. A week later, Mr. K and I had our engagement photos taken.
July 4th - A week after celebrating my 28th birthday with my parents, we spent the whole weekend with Mr. K's parents and our friend Army Daniel. We swam, ate, drank, watched fireworks, and played many many games of Yahtzee.
August 22nd - My sister and bridesmaid threw me a wonderful bridal shower and bachelorette party. I had the best time, and was just amazed at every one's generosity. The next day, I drove with my sister to her new home in Seattle.
Tons of wedding planning...
October 16th - The Mister turned 25 and we got married. It was truly the best day, and I'll never forget the happiness and love we shared that day. Our wedding day was followed by a fabulous weekend with family. Every day since brings something that reminds of why I'm lucky to have met this incredible man.
October 18th - We brought home Clover, and life really turned upside down. We love her, but I'm not sure I've really slept since August. She's hilarious and a great playmate for Paisley, so I think we'll keep her :)
Thanksgiving - We spent the day with my family, our very first Thanksgiving spent together (we were apart last year). We had our first health scare with Paisley, and I still have days when I worry.
Christmas - I won't entirely rehash the post below, but our first married Christmas brought family, love, and the beginnings of meaningful traditions.
So what's to come for 2010? We'll be ringing in the New Year at home, with a pot roast, champagne, and Wii (shocker!) There will hopefully, maybe, be a new home. We won't be buying, but I think we'd really like to find a house to rent. Apartment living is getting old, and we desire more privacy, responsibility, and space. We'll work on building savings and see where we are in terms of starting a family at the end of the year. We hope to travel to visit family, and we'll be getting a visit from my brother-in-law and future sister-in-law early in January. I hope to have more time to play with cooking and baking, and I'll be finished with my graduate program in May. It's sure to be an exciting time in the Kingston Castle.
We wish you all a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!!
Monday, December 28, 2009
And here's my little losing house...
I think a lot of people thought that Mr. K would use a ton of frosting since he almost literally survives on an IV drip of straight sugar, but I was the messy one. Thanks to the difficult icing and structural issues, I was over the whole thing in about 20 minutes, he decorated for almost an hour.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Mr. K has to work today (boo, but he'll hopefully be home early), so I'm home with the pups. I've got some baking and cookie decorating to do and I need to run a couple of errands. We've decided to have a 1st Annual Gingerbread Challenge. Inspired by $7.99 gingerbread houses at Michael's, Food Network's Challenge and Iron Chef we're going to each decorate a gingerbread house and see who does the most fabulous job. Mr. K keeps saying "and now for the secret ingredient... giiiingaaaaabreeeeead!" like the Chairman on Iron Chef. The smack talk (which I royally suck at) is heating up on Facebook, and I'm getting excited. I'll post pictures some time this weekend. We'll also cook dinner together and watch movies and just hang out before heading to Tucson tomorrow morning.
Clover gave me a wonderful Christmas gift and slept until 6:45 this morning!! She sure tired herself out playing with my in-law's Shepherd mix, Jager, last night. It was wonderful to get a full night's sleep and to wake up to an alarm. And of course, she's still tired, as she's currently sleeping soundly next to me with Paisley.
Enjoy your Christmas Eve!!
Monday, December 21, 2009
1/2 cup firm butter or margarine
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can (21 oz) apple pie filling
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Heat oven to 350. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9” pan with non-stick cooking spray
Place cookie mix in large bowl. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and coarse. Reserve 1 ½ cups crumb mixture; press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked crust. In medium bowl, mix pie filling and cinnamon. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top. Sprinkle with walnuts.
This weekend was fun. I was off on Friday and pretty much hung out. I had lunch with my friend Kristi and then took a much needed nap. I was invited to another department's Christmas party - they were gracious enough to include me, since I'm just a poor tax girl with a tiny department that doesn't do a lot of fun stuff. We had yummy apps, a white elephant exchange, played games, and then went to the dog track for the closing weekend. We had a drink and hung out with my coworkers a bit before heading home to watch Christmas Vacation.
Saturday, I went to Mrs. ESPN's to decorate cookies. It was very nice meeting some of her friends and chatting and drinking wine. After decorating, I met Mr. K at our friends' house for pizza and gifts. They have a new baby, so we picked out 1st Christmas PJs for her and a cute Rockstar set for her older brother. Their kids are just wonderful and sweet, and I hadn't seen them in a while so it was fun to hang out. And as a bonus, our friend M put pencil to tracing paper and worked on my tattoo design. It's beautiful and I can't wait to see the color version later this week.
Yesterday was fun as well, though I honestly woke up (at 4:30, thanks to some pups) on the wrong side of the bed. We were lazy in the morning and then went Christmas shopping. I'm finally finished!! And I'm done wrapping, too. We even found our first Christmas ornament and got some delicious chicken wings. It ended up being a nice day.
This will be an exciting week. Work will be a breeze, just a few things to wrap up and prepare for my return in January. My aunt flies in from New York today, and Mija will be here late tomorrow night. We have a potluck tomorrow for dinner at a coworker's house. Wednesday I'm off and will take time to just chill, then celebrate Christmas with Mr. K's parents.
We're debating when to head to Tucson. I think it'd be nice to wake up in our home on our first Christmas, but I also love being at my parents' house early in the morning. But Mr. K has to work Christmas Eve and won't be home until probably 6:30, so I think we'll end up just making a special dinner and staying at home. Then we'll head to Tucson Christmas day and be there until Sunday with my family. I'm really looking forward to Christmas with them and my husband.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Samy Fat Hair Thickening Creme
I have fine hair. It also wants to be curly and sometimes is. Without a thickening agent, my hair is frizzy and blah. And this is my favorite product for plumping my hair and making sure it's got some body. My hair just feels better when I use it. My only complaint is they've changed the packaging from an up-right pump to a squeeze bottle - it's too thick to squeeze out.Ballet Flats
I love my black ballet flats from Charlotte Russe (of all places) and I wear them probably 2-3 times a week and on the weekends. I'm not much of a heel girl, and ballet flats are super comfy and you can find a ton of great styles and colors to jazz up any outfit. I'd usually rather be in flip flops, but ballet flats make me feel like I've at least made some effort. In addition to my black pair, I have brown, purple suede, red, and white.
It's actually a pretty baby pink - stupid cell phone camera. I've had this thing for almost 5 years and aside for the leather beginning to wear on the edges, it's still holding up. For Christmas, Mr. Kingston offered to get me a new Coach wallet, and I honestly couldn't find one that had a layout similar to my Gucci wallet. I love that is has two bill compartments, plus another snap-enclosed compartment on the other side. I just love it, and it's going to take a very special wallet to replace it.
LG VoyagerI upgraded my phone to the LG Voyager just before Thanksgiving last year. It was my first QWERTY keyboard phone and I can never go back. Mr. Kingston and I text probbably 300 times more than we talk, so this phone is awesome. I hated how so many phones were so tiny, and this one if big enough to be comfortable to talk on. It also has a touchscreen on the front which comes in handy. The downside? The obvious lack of a good camera.
Glade Carpet Powder
I love this stuff! I may sound like a commercial, but it freshens the whole room when I vacuum. Even without vacuuming, I sometimes sprinkle some around the room to leave a fresh scent. It's my favorite "cleaning" product. I realize it's weird that carpet powder is here among ballet flats and a Gucci wallet, but Glade Carpet Powder rules.
Mr. Kingston got this for me for Christmas last year. It gets a ton of use, especially with all the wedding planning and the new puppy this past year. It's small, easy to use, takes great photos, and it's pink (!). I take it almost everywhere with me.
So there they are: some of my favorite things. I'm sure I could come up with a ton of products that I love, but these are the faves, barring the obvious ones like my wedding ring set, art books, and my framed print of the Sistine Chapel (which I should post a picture of because it's awesome).
What are your favorite things?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The admins suggested labels ("judges like labels"), so I called my whole candy canes swizzle sticks, and labeled the crushed candy canes.
Now all I have to do is wait until judging at noon!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
She looks much happier than Paisley did in the outfit, don't you think?
Last night was also Puppy's 1st time sleeping in the bed. She was asleep on the couch, but when we went to turn out the lights, she started whining. And she got louder and louder. Finally, Mr. K told me to bring her to bed. Thinking she'd be hyper and try to play with Paisley, I was a little hesitant. But she curled right up and went right to sleep. All she wanted was to be in bed with us. And she slept very soundly straight through 6am (and probably would have slept later if I hadn't woken her up), so this might be a great solution to our 5am-weekend problem.
Tomorrow is Cocoa Bar day, and I'm super excited. I hung about 30 snowflakes from the ceiling above my cubicle, and it looks beautiful. I've snuck in supplies both mornings this week. I'm really looking forward to a fun and festive day at work tomorrow.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Just to show how small it is, I'm standing next to a 7 footer. Our tree is about 3 1/2 feet.
After picking our tree, we went to Glendale Glitters in Old Towne Glendale. There were dancers, face painters, food booths, and various vendors. We treated ourselves to some lightly spiked cocoa and hit the streets. Every tree was beautifully lit and everyone was in a festive mood. It wasn't nearly as crowded as Zoo Lights last year, so it was a nice change of pace.
Today, we slept in and did a lot of Christmas shopping. I'm usually a procrastinator when it comes to Christmas shopping, but even I was feeling a little stressed about how much I'd put it off. It just seems like after the wedding, Thanksgiving snuck up on us, and now it's suddenly 12 days until Christmas. But I put a huge dent in my shopping so I feel a lot better.
After an afternoon at the mall, we came home and decorated our tree. We dressed it up with plain white lights (no twinkling - twinkling drives me nuts), white, silver, and grey ornaments, and an ice blue bead garland. We still hope to add some personal ornaments for our first married Christmas, but I think it came out quite nice, don't you?
Friday, December 11, 2009
The Santa Clause. I loved this movie when I was younger and I still like it. Scott Calvin finds Santa collapsed on his roof and is forced by the reindeer and his son to finish Santa's duties. After a stay at the North Pole, his world is turned upside down. Over the course of the year, he becomes Santa. He shaves and his beard grows back in seconds. His hair greys. He gains weight and has an appetite only for milk and cookies. Of course, everyone thinks he's insane. Except for his son, who believes it all. In the end, Scott accepts his new identity and is proud to be Santa Claus. It's just a sweet flick with heartwarming scenes and a great line: "Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing."
Elf. Ah, I love Elf. Like, really love Elf. While I baked and decorated my dad's turkey cookies, I watched it three times. I never ever get tired of Elf. And I don't think anyone could pull off the character quite like Will Ferrell. The concept is hilarious: a human, Buddy, raised by elves at the North Pole heads back to New York City to find his biological father, a workaholic book publisher on the naughty list. Buddy only needs 45 minutes of sleep a day, accidentally gets a job at a department store and then gets fired for beating the everloving Christmas spirit out of the fake Santa, eats lots of candy, and is adorably clueless. Add in a love story, drama with Santa's sleigh, and a drunken incident in a mailroom full of "shiny bins" and you've got yourself a seriously hilarious movie. And there are so many great lines in this movie, I don't even know where to begin.
Christmas Vacation. No movie reminds me of Christmas with my family more than this one does. My dad and I watch this at least once every Christmas season. Premise: the Griswold family Christmas goes haywire, hilarity ensues. You've got crotchety grandparents, yuppie neighbors in matching silver running suits, and Griswold kids who aren't happy to give up their rooms. And then there is Clark, who devotes his time decorating his house with 25,000 twinkle lights to avoid the family; Uncle Eddie, who drops by unannounced in his RV and proceeds to empty his mobile palace's toilet into the storm sewer ("Sh!tter was full!") and then kidnaps Clark's boss; Aunt Bethany, who adorably leads the family in the Pledge of Allegiance instead of a blessing at Christmas dinner. There are many parts of this movie that I didn't get until I was older. And everytime I watch it, I laugh a little harder. It never gets old, and it's a fun tradition with my dad. It's too hard to pick out quotes I like. This movie is all about the funny exchanges between characters. I love the peanut gallery when Clark is trying to light the house, only to end up knocking out power for an entire neighborhood. Any scene with Uncle Eddie is a riot. And who can forget the second scene: the Griswolds marching through the snow to find the perfect Christmas tree only to discover no one brought a saw? It's just great movie about a good old fashioned family Christmas gone horribly awry.
What are your Christmas favorite movies?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
My work name change is a completely different story. First, I needed manager approval (why?!) to change my name on payroll and benefits. Then, I needed manager approval again (why?!) to change my email address. Then, I needed approval to get a new ID badge with my new name. Of course, none of the systems that HR, IT and the badge shop use link up internally, so you have to do them in the right order and wait some unwritten prescribed amount of time for the information to trickle down. Now, my issue is that my old name isn't searchable and my old and new email accounts aren't linked. I have no idea how many emails I haven't received and how many people are looking for me. IT in India doesn't seem to get what I'm trying to explain to them. I'm ready to scream.
And why exactly have I put myself through this? To me, I've never questioned changing my name. I'm traditional that way and always assumed I would take my husband's name. My maiden name is also a fairly long, hard to spell and pronounce Polish name, so I've "upgraded" in terms of getting something easier with Kingston. My maiden name became my middle name so that I would be able to keep it in a way but not have to say or pronounce it on a regular basis. To me, hyphenating wasn't an option. My mom has a hyphenated name and though it works for her, it also creates it wasn't for me. Hyphenating can come with it's own headaches. Besides, my last name would have been 17 letters long with 3 K's, plus a hyphen. No thanks.
I admit that I do tend to find it interesting when women keep their name to keep their identity. For me, I am me no matter what my name is. Granted, I'm not renowned professionally by a certain name, and that's an instance where I understand why a woman would keep her name professionally. Socially, however, I think there is a sense of unity in a couple having a shared name, even more so when there are children. I understand that changing or not changing a name is a personal choice, and I completely respect other wives' choices. I just wouldn't ever NOT change my own name.
Plus, there's the Mrs. factor. I wanted to be a Mrs. You're not technically a Mrs. if you don't share your name with your husband. Since Mrs. literally means "wife of," a woman who calls herself Mrs. Maiden Name is implying that she's married to her father, technically. Mrs. Brooke Kingston isn't even correct, since I can't be married to myself. I'm Mrs. Dan Kingston (yes, I know, I don't use our names usually, but our real names aren't hard to find in blog comments, so whatever). If you keep your name or refer to yourself as your first name with his last name, it's Ms. I understand the intention behind trying to attach Ms. to your own first name, but it's simply not correct in the traditional sense.
I can understand not wanting to lose yourself in marriage, but to me, you're not lost in changing your name. I'm simply reinvented as Brooke with a new last name and the same values and morals and goals, but with a husband to share them with.
Feel free to share any thoughts you have on the subject.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
First, welcome hugs to my new readers and followers - happy to have you! I started this blog to chronicle our lives and memories, but I'm truly flattered if someone finds it interesting. I'm so happy to have been told about and to be a part of SITS and I look forward to the new daily reading material ans support.
Hugs to Shannon. I'm sorry you had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. You and Henry are in my thoughts and I truly hope you get good news soon. If it means anything, yours is my favorite Knot wedding yet. Big hugs!
Hugs to Salt - thanks once again for making me an awesome Cocoa Bar sign and being a truly wonderful friend. I can't wait for your wedding, and I'll be thinking the most lovely thoughts for you and M on February 27th. I hope we get to chill in Baltimore sooner than later.
That's all for now. Perhaps I should instate Hugs Tuesdays. I hope everyone has a wonderful week!
The snowflakes are all the same but most of the mittens are unqiue. I had fun doing them and I'm very thankful to Mr. Kingston for keep the dogs busy while I finished up the details when he got home.
I'm wondering if my obsession with my Cocoa Bar is an indication I'm going through wedding withdrawal...
Monday, December 7, 2009
Didn't it come out super cute? I'm for sure going to win, now. The "Candy Cane Girls" in the corner of the office used red and white all over their cubicle and hung candy canes (hence their new office nickname) from the ceiling. They've got an advantage being where they are - you have to deliberately walk out of the way to get a peek at their decoration. I'm not scared though.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
These guys greet us from the wall cut-outs between the hallway and the dining/living rooms.
These are some of my favorite little snowmen. The upside down guy is one of my absolute favorites - you can stand him any way you want. I made the little guy wearing the blue and purple hat and mittens when I worked for a paint-your-own pottery store.
After we went to a funeral yesterday (Mr. Kingston's high school friend's father passed away) we had a late lunch and then went shopping together. He got his Christmas gift from me - a Blackberry - and we got just a little gift shopping done for a couple other people. Then we went shopping for decorations. We got new stockings, lights and ornaments for our future tree, and lights for the balcony. It looks awesome, and I'll have to take a picture of it tonight.
I got us cheap dollar store stockings last year but thought that new nice ones were in order for our first married Christmas. At some point in our browsing, Mr. Kingston made a comment that we could choose another style in a few years, and when I told him that my parents still use their stockings from 30 years ago (and mine at my parents' house is from my first Christmas) he got serious about picking the perfect ones. We chose these:
His is the red one at the top, then mine, then Paisley's (purple) and Clover's. I had visions of getting The Girls huge stockings and stuffing them full of toys, but since Paisley got sick we agreed on no more plush toys, just in case. That eliminates about 90% of dog toys, so they'll mostly be getting little treats.
When we got home, we decorated, drank our Starbucks peppermint mochas, and then played Yahtzee together. This morning, I baked 5 dozen cookies for my cocoa bar at work. I decided on ice blue and red mittens and blue and white snowflakes. We're going to go visit friends in a bit and introduce them to Clover, so I haven't started, but they'll make a nice project either later this afternoon or tomorrow evening when Mr. K is working.
Last year we went to Zoo Lights and we decided that we'll go to Glendale Glitters this year instead. I'm hoping for next weekend - we drove through Old Towne Glendale and everything was so festive and pretty, so I can't wait! We'll hopefully also get our tree next weekend, so then I can post pictures of that. It's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Oh! I have pictures from one of the traditions I blogged about last week, the family search for our Christmas tree. Here's how it goes:
Mom shakes her contender...
and a winner is chosen. He looks awfully smug.
I don't have photos of it lit up, but I thought I got some pretty good shots of the typical Choosing of The Tree.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I've been planning something that I'm super excited about. I've mostly kept it a secret at the office so my idea doesn't get snatched. We're having a cubicle decorating contest - yeah, I know, something lame to make life in a box less lame - and I plan to turn my cubicle into... drumroll please... a cocoa bar!! I'm so excited about it. There's a potluck that day, and my contribution will be the cocoa and cookies. I'm going to have toppings like marshmallows, crushed candy canes, chocolate shavings, and cinnamon. My lovely buddy, Salt, is a graphic designer, and she's agreed to design my sign. I can't wait to see it. I'll decorate with everything wintery I can find - snow flakes, some of my snowmen, wintery wrapping paper on the inside walls. I'm serious about winning this contest.
There will hopefully be decorating going on in the apartment this weekend too. I got bit by the bug when I was home for Thanksgiving and we decorated my parents' house, and I told myself I wouldn't do anything until after my final. But now I'm excited to turn our home into cozy Christmas goodness. I don't know if we'll get a tree just yet because we don't want it to get try and start losing needles, but I'm looking forward to getting the snowmen and our stockings out and putting up some lights. What will make me thrilled more than anything is if Mr. Kingston gets excited about it too. A tradition that I forgot to mention is the advent calendar - mine arrived from my mom in the mail yesterday. She got me the kind with chocolate, so I'm pretty sure I can getthe husband on board with this stuff.
Tangent: it's not that Mr. Kingston doesn't like Christmas or isn't excited. We had a great time getting ready for the holidays last year. We went shopping and to Zoo Lights and did other fun festive things. But his family doesn't seem to make a big deal of Christmas, and the memories I have of decorating together with my family isn't something he has experience with.
I'll hopefully get started on some Christmas shopping this weekend, as well. I've got some good ideas, and I'm anxious to get started with the buying. Mr. Kingston wants a Blackberry for Christmas and I told him we could pick it up this weekend if he'd like - I know he's anxious. I want to also sign up for the cake decorating class Mrs. ESPN got me for a shower gift. Of course, if I'm going to have a winter wonderland cocoa bar happening in my cubicle in 12 days, I also need to get started with some baking. And there's more little stuff, as always. It should make for a busy weekend, hopefully making memories of our first Christmas season together.
What are your weekend plans?