Monthly Archive for December, 2010

A picture from her very first New Year’s Eve Celebration

Balancing a party hat on the Party Girl's head. Click for more detail.

I couldn’t resist!  I just can’t believe how much she’s grown between this photo (above) and the one we took today (below).

Happy New Year!

The perfect end to a wonderful year.

After a constant stream of parties and house guests over the last few months (year, really), we’re chilling at home this New Year’s Eve.

It’s not quite Hawaii-level Relaxation, but it will be perfect.

2010, you’ve been so good to us. Welcome, 2011!

And then we picked up another hitchhiker

Have you tried Letterboxing yet?

We’re still somewhat obsessed about it. Check out the tab at the top of the page to see how many we have found now. I’ll give you a hint…as of the publication of this post…it rhymes with smorty. 😉

Today, we went letterboxing with some friends downtown. We stopped to get the one at Union Station first and then went to find another one in the area. Daddy then picked us up and took Claire and me out to lunch at a place that is also home to a hidden letterbox! And, in with that carving, we found a hitchhiker!

It’s not every day you can be excited about picking up a hitchhiker, and it’s certainly not every day you actively try to find a home for one.

Oh no. This means we’ll be forced to go letterboxing again soon. Darn. 😉

Save your strength…

…it’s gonna be a busy weekend!

I can’t believe the little elf in the above photo is 5 years old now!

However and whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Well, that’s the coolest thing we’ve seen on a Solstice since 1638.

Click the photo to see more detail.
I think it turned out great, if I do say so myself!
You can even make out some of the stars if you squint!

Earlier this morning (at 12:41 am, Mountain Time, to be exact), we witnessed a total Lunar Eclipse.  (Truth be told, we practiced taking photos with the full moon a couple hours before that.  I did set an alarm for 12:30, in the off chance I’d fall asleep and miss it.  I’m a Night Owl, but I also like to be prepared.  Luckily, we had the perfect vantage point from the deck in our back yard!)

Although eclipses are always really cool to see, the fact that it coincided with the Solstice made it just that much more special.

The night was perfect:  Crisp, clear, and we got to see stars we never see from our vantage point in the city, what with the bright glow from that pesky moon obscured by something large and lumbering, its shadow getting in the way.

The reddish glow was mesmerizing.  Watching the sliver of silver disappearing was breathtaking.

We took so many photos, played with tons of different settings, and I’m glad we had the tripod set up to capture this without the wiggle of human hands in the cold night air.


Here’s one we took while playing with the exposures &
fancy-schmancy camera settings.
Just like the one above, click to see more detail.

What a beautiful night for a Lunar Eclipse.  What a beautiful beginning to the Solstice.

Happy Solstice, everyone!

This Fudge is Easy to Make and Hard to Resist!

I volunteered to bring a dessert item to Bunco tonight, and I decided to slave away in the kitchen for hours making my famous fudge.

Okay, since Santa’s watching, I’ll tell the truth.

It really IS the Easiest Fudge in the World!

Easiest Fudge in the World

12 oz. bag of chocolate chips
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 2 to 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Spread in lined (with waxed paper) 8 x 8 pan. Cool.

For real. That’s it!

And, here are some notes about the recipe:

  • Make SURE the ounces on the packages of chocolate chips and condensed milk match the recipe.  Any deviations can lead to what my inlaws jokingly (yet very lovingly) refer to as Peanut Butter Sludge.  Be that as it may, they still ate the entire pan.  So, there.
  • I usually do 2 batches at a time, and it only needs 2 minutes in my microwave. Be sure to stir after each minute, until all the chips are melted. I put 2 batches in one 9 x 13 pan. I just let it cool on the counter, no need to cool in the fridge. You can keep it plain or add whatever toppings you want: M&Ms, nuts, crushed candy-canes, etc.  Just press them lightly into the top as it cools.

Seriously. That’s IT. The hardest part is not eating the whole pan during the “testing the quality control” portion of the process. 😉

“Tangled” is my favorite Disney Princess Movie. There, I said it.

NOTE:  I talk about this movie in detail, but I’ve done a trick with the font color.  If you don’t want to be spoiled, be sure you’re reading this at The Casual Perfectionist (and not through a reader).  If you want to see the spoilery bits, just highlight the portion between the <spoiler> and </spoiler> for the text to be revealed!

Daddy went skiing this weekend, so Claire and Momma had a fun girls’ day together. This time, we decided to go see Tangled!

This is the newest Disney Princess movie, and it’s based on the story of Rapunzel. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how they were going to adapt this story, because the original story is a bit creepy, but aren’t all Disney movies, in a way?  😉

I LOVE what they’ve done with the story. In fact, I dare say this is my favorite princess movie…EVER.

Claire loved it too!

There were parts that made her nervous, but I’d whisper to her that I was just SURE things would work out.

She was pretty distressed by one thing that happened, but it’s not what you might think!  Since some of you may want to remain spoiler free, I’ll type it in white font. If you want to see it, highlight the following space (between the spoiler tags) with your mouse:

<spoiler>
She was SO DISTRESSED when Rapunzel’s hair was cut SHORT and turned BROWN! Never mind the fact that Flynn had just perished and Mother Gothel looked like she’d seen the spirits come out of the Ark of the Covenant.

“Is it going to grow back, Momma!? Is it going to turn blonde again!? Oh, this is just TERRIBLE!”

Ha!

No, she didn’t like when he died, but more because that triggered the short brown hair incident. Plus, he gets to live and she is stuck with short brown hair!?
</spoiler>

Oh, Claire!  I explained that it could never happen to her.  😉

Was this movie too scary for Claire? No. BUT, all kids are different, so before you decide to take your own little prince or princess to this movie, consider the following:

We haven’t seen Dumbo, Bambi nor The Lion King with her yet.   The wolves in Beauty and the Beast are somewhat scary to her, but she’s more concerned about Belle’s father and why he’s sick.  She has no idea that there is a beginning scene to Finding Nemo, because I skip it.  (Truth be told, it’s too scary for ME.)  She asks to watch that movie and loves it on one level but cries through the ENTIRE thing because the dad and Nemo can’t find each other. (“Will they EVER find each other??” “Um, yes…you’ve seen this before and know they do…plus, it’s called FINDING Nemo.”) That just REALLY bothers her.

Dragons? Witches? No bother.
Not being with the one you love and searching? DREADFUL.

I loved Tangled.  I LOVED it. One of the things I loved most about it was the fact that

<spoiler> neither of her parents were killed by the end of the movie!! </spoiler> In fact, I’d have to research this, but I think the only Disney PRINCESS movie prior to Tangled that has <spoiler> a LIVE mother is Princess and the Frog, but they kill Tiana’s father off </spoiler> by the end of the story…

In the meantime, I’ve spent the last couple of days (sleeping hours excluded, when she’s just regenerating more questions to ask) answering questions about the movie:

<spoiler>

How did Mother Gothel feed the baby Rapunzel? (This is my personal favorite, and I don’t know the answer!)

How did Mother Gothel get out of the castle without hurting herself or the baby?

Was the tower already there or did she build it?

How did Mother Gothel get up and down before Rapunzel’s hair grew long enough?

How did Rapunzel take a bath?

How did she go to the potty with all that hair?

Will Rapunzel’s hair EVER grow back?  Will it EVER turn blonde again?

</spoiler>

…and so on.

My favorite question, which isn’t too spoilery at all, was when she asked how Mother Gothel kept her there without locking her in the tower. We got to talk about brainwashing, and how it’s possible to be kept captive by guilt and lies.

All great questions…from such a great movie!

NO, I did NOT get to see this movie for free.  I paid good hard-earned money for it, and I’d do it again in a heart-beat. 😉

Wanna know what I REALLY thought of Disney On Ice this year?

Claire LOVED Disney on Ice!  But, what did *I* think?

I’ve written about it, IN FULL, here.

Click on the photo to check out my review!

Voices

For I don’t know how long, I’ve been doing voices for Claire’s dolls. She knows on one level, that it’s me doing the talking but the magic of it all takes over, and there comes a point when I truly think she is having real conversations with them.

Ann and Andy with Puppy while on our trip to San Francisco

It all started with Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. Ann talks in a really soft, almost breathless, slightly higher pitched voice. She is one of the most considerate dolls I know. She gets very concerned about Claire, and about everyone, really.  Her favorite phrase is, “That’s wonderful, Sweetheart!”  She’s really good at calming Andy down when he loses his hat.

Andy sounds dangerously like Cartman. (Yes, from SouthPark. I’m sorry. It just happened.) He has more of a temper, but he tries to keep it in check. His hat is very distracting to him, and he tells Claire that. A lot. First, his hat was permanently attached to his head, and this was very distracting. He and Ann and Claire convinced Momma to clip the little thread attaching it. Momma warned them all that it would be easier to lose Andy’s hat, but no one listened to her.

Now, Andy can take a bath (Imaginary! They don’t go in real water.) without his hat, which is much less distracting to him than it was with the hat, but now he loses his hat all the time. Now, this is distracting. Claire thinks his distress is the funniest thing ever. Ann, on the other hand, is always concerned.  “It’s all right, Andy.  I’m sure we’ll find it.  Claire is wonderful at finding such things.”

Some other things to know about Ann and Andy: A conversation with them can make Claire do the weirdest things. They convince her to get her clothes on in the morning before her Momma asks her to. They get her to brush her hair and her teeth without being asked.

Momma really likes Ann and Andy.

(Side note: When they ride with us in the car, they either have to take a nap or dance to the music, because Momma has to pay attention to the traffic. Those dolls have moves!)

Fred the Garden Gnome

A while ago, we discovered that Ann and Andy aren’t the only ones in the house that can speak. In addition to Mariposa, a little stuffed butterfly that only speaks in Spanish, we have Fred, the garden gnome who is staying on our kitchen counter.  He also talks. He’s British. His accent would make John Cleese proud.

Fred and Claire have the most hilarious conversations every day. Fred tends to get flustered by things and take things way too literally. For example, when Claire told him that she got her shots, and he was just sure that the nurses were using guns!  Or bows and arrows!  Or perhaps sling-shots! He also tries to eat the bun on Claire’s head before she goes to Ballet Class. Claire loves setting him straight.

Fred is also deathly afraid of babies. (He thinks they have fangs! And claws! Silly Fred.) He was really surprised that Claire came back from visiting baby Everett unscathed.

I’m not sure how long this stage will last. We’ve been playing this game for a while, so its days may be numbered. Or not. As Ann would say in a breathlessly hopeful voice, “Don’t worry. It will all work out.”

True Holiday Confessions. What’s yours?

Go check out my post at Mile High Mamas today!

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