Christmas is in the air...

With Thanksgiving (and for that matter, November!) having coming and gone, that means Christmas is right around the corner!

After eating turkey and pumpkin pie and finishing my Christmas shopping for this year, it was time to put up the tree and put out all the Christmas decorations!

In the spirit of Christmas, here are some of my favorite holiday albums to throw on, in no particular order:

1. "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" by The Transiberian Orchestra

Product DetailsMy two favorite tracks on this album are "Christmas Sarajevo 12/24" and "A Mad Russian's Christmas," both instrumental pieces that I heard on the radio around Christmastime when I was a kid. Eventually my mom got me the CD one year. While I'm not too crazy about and tend to skip over the songs with a choir in it, I LOVE the instrumental pieces on this album.

What's great about the TSO is that they combine electric guitars into their orchestral pieces to create amazing instrumental works that everyone can enjoy!

2. "Snowed In" by Hanson

Product DetailsNow I know not everyone is fond of Hanson - either you loved their breakout hit "Mmmbop" or you didn't - yes, I was a Hanson fan back in 7th grade but grew out of them by the time I reached high school, however the brothers are definitely gifted and talented and as a Christmas album, this is probably still one of my favorites just due to several of the classics Hanson performs so well.

My favorite tracks on this one are "At Christmas" - a Hanson original - and their rendition of a "Silent Night Medley: O Holy Night/ Silent Night/ O Come All Ye Faithful."

Don't write it off just because it's Hanson! As a Christmas album, this one is solid!

3. "Little Drummer Boy EP" by Jars of Clay

Product Details This 3 track EP is worth getting if not for Jars' version of "The Little Drummer Boy" but for their version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," which is also included. Probably one of the prettiest versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"it is also very dark and cryptic sounding, really drawing you into the song, making you apart of it. Their version of "The Little Drummer Boy" also is very delightful and one that everyone should enjoy.

4. "A Very Special Christmas 3" by various artists

Product DetailsSo I know this compilation series has been around for awhile, but volume 3 is the only one I own. This particular volume of the series contains Christmas songs covered by various popular artists from the mid-90s, such as Natalie Merchant, Hootie and the Blowfish, Blues Traveler, Tracy Chapman, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Enya, and more.

My personal favorites are No Doubt's "Oi to the World" - which is an upbeat, uptempo ska song - and The Smashing Pumpkins' "Christmastime" - Billy Corgan really knows how to croon em out!

5. "Happy Christmas, vol. 1+2" by various artists

This compilation set (which is now on volume 5 according to Amazon.com), features Christmas songs by some of the more well-known Bec Recordings artists such as Five Iron Frenzy, Plankeye, Switchfoot, MxPx, Sixpence None the Richer, The Deluxetone Rockets and more. True, the majority of artists and bands on Bec Recordings are Christian, being a Christmas album series, it's not strictly limited to hymns - quite a bit of these bands and artists are pretty rocking musically!

Some of my favorites off the first two albums in this series are "You Gotta Get Up" by Five Iron Frenzy, "Away in a Manager" by Plankeye, "Winter Wonderland" by Joy Electric, "Heaven's Got a Baby" by Sarah Mason, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Sixpence None the Richer, and "Christmas Day" by MxPx


Team Edward or Team Jacob? How about Team Who Cares?

This weekend, the 2nd film in the Twilight Saga, New Moon, opened in theaters. For the past few months, the cast of the film has been all the rage on entertainment channels and gossip magazines. Its midnight release broke the box-office record for midnight sales, beating out last summer's midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Price.

What I don't get, is why do so many people care?

Sure I read the books before they became insanely popular. I'll admit, the first 3 in the series were alright - they were nothing great and sure not anything special, but they were somewhat entertaining and an easy read. I took me awhile to get into Twilight (the first book), but when I did, I read New Moon (the second book) in about a day or 2, finishing the third book (Eclipse) by the end of the week. Now the fourth book... yes, I bought it the first weekend it was out, but it honestly took me 2 weeks to get through it. You know a book is bad when you have to force yourself to read it just to find out how the Saga ends. The only good part of Breaking Dawn (the fourth book and last in the series - thank God!), were the chapters from Jacob's point of view. The rest of the book, and come to think of it the whole series, was a Mary Sue (as my husband says writers call it), where the author lives out her fantasy through the main character, letting the main character get everything she could ever want.

Honestly though, I don't understand why these books are so popular, and especially the movie.

Now I haven't seen New Moon yet, however I plan on seeing it later once the hype of it dies down and it's half price, but Twilight was HORRIBLE. The cinematography was bad, the "special effects" were terrrrrrrible, and the acting was horrendous. We just watched the Riff Trax version of it recently which made the movie actually watchable (for those that remember MST3K - Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Riff Trax is the child of the MST3K crew, where they provide humorous commentary tracks to current films that can be sync'd up to the DVD).

And with the books... Bella is a HORRIBLE role model for girls. She doesn't care to see the big picture, she doesn't appreciate what she has, she's selfish and has no regard for her friends and family (how many times in the series does she treat her dad like crap and sneak around with Edward or Jacob behind his back, blow off her friends at school, or emotionally hurt Jacob?) and she's willing to give up everything, including her family and her life for one "boy" who is a terrible boyfriend (which we'll get to in a minute!). She pretty much uses Jacob and then continues to manipulate the poor boy and his feelings for her and string him along when it's convenient for her to do so once Edward is back in the picture. She's not a very strong female role model for teenage girls to be looking up to.

And then there's Edward Cullen... who is a horrible example of what a boyfriend should be. He sneaks into Bella's room while she's sleeping just to "watch her sleep" which is creepy in and of itself, and he's always making the decisions in the relationship without any regard for how she feels - healthy couples communicate and come to agreements together - it's NOT one having a say in what's best for the other without giving them a say in the matter. And throughout the series we see him be selfish and emotionally abusive towards Bella as well, with his whole "we shouldn't be together" and then 2 seconds later "I can't resist you" and then coming and going again and again. I'm sorry, but don't ever let a guy string you along girls - if he can't make up his mind about whether or not he wants to be with you, walk away and find someone that will.

I will admit, after the events that occur in New Moon I was pretty much telling myself what an idiot Bella was every few pages. So I honestly don't get why teenage girls (and some grown women for that matter too) are so into this series - the books weren't even THAT great!

I'll admit, if I had to choose a "team" I would be Team Jacob, but mainly because of my husband. The character Jacob and my husband have similar qualities, both physically and personality-wise. And Jacob and Bella's relationship/friendship sort of reflects the one I had with my husband - we had been friends for 9 years before I gave him a chance. I knew he had a huge crush on me the entire time though, but resisted and we still remained close though despite this, although he would occasionally make comments about wishing I was his, etc while I was dating other guys. The fact that Jacob puts up with all of Bella's crap once Edward comes back into the picture says a lot about him and reminds me of how much my husband put up with me when I was dating a guy that was completely wrong for me.

I completely agree with Stephen King when he said that Twilight author Stephanie Meyer "can't write worth a damn" - while her books are a simple and easy read, there really isn't much to them. And she completely changed classic vampire lore, creating "vegetarian" vampires and stating that instead of burning in sunlight, they sparkle. Maybe that's why the kids love it - instead of being deadly predators, these ones are bright and shiny and sparkle in sunlight!

Honestly though, I'd much rather take my True Blood vampires and werewolves over the Twilight ones anyday. The series is much better written, the world in the series is much more believable, drawing you into the series, and in the books, heroine Sookie Stackhouse, is a much stronger, better female role model for the most part.


For the love of Netflix

In August, my husband I decided to sign up for Netflix. So far, my only regret is that we didn't sign up sooner - I LOVE Netflix.

My husband and I watch a lot of movies. For several years in college I worked at a movie theater (from May-Sept 2005, and then June 2006-July 2008), and for the last half of my career there, I was management. Working at the theater, I got to screen films for free before the rest of the public, and I got to bring a guest (or 2 as management) to any non-sold out show.

When I moved back to my hometown and took a job closer to where we were living, we cut but a bit on how many movies were seeing, but not by much, as the theater chain up here has what they call "The Five Buck Club," where after a movie has been in theaters for usually at least 2 weeks, if you are a member, you present your Five Buck Club card and get to see the film for only $5 instead of the full $9.75 or whatever it costs nowadays. Now the only problem with The Five Buck Club, is that sometimes a movie doesn't stay in theaters for more than 2 weeks, or they get rid of it early for a slew of new films they need to make room for or it just does so poorly that they don't see the benefit of keeping it longer than 2 weeks. Because we no longer have a 2nd Run Theater up here anymore, this means hubby and I miss some films.

The week before we joined Netflix, we rented 2 movies from Blockbuster. Just to rent 2 movies from there, that had been out for several months already, cost us $9 total!

With Netflix, for $8.99 a month you can rent unlimited movies (that is, you can have 1 out at a time - if you want more than that at a time you can pay more), and you can watch tons of films instantly online. And the great thing is that you can find TONS of movies - even rare obscure titles, foreign flicks, and old, old classics. You can also rate movies on a 5-star scale and write reviews to share with other Netflix members. If you invite friends to join you and they accept, you can view each other's rated films and queues.

Normally, we didn't use to rent a lot of movies since we usually saw all the ones we really wanted as soon as they came out in theaters, but with Netflix, we no longer need to rush out to see something that might flop in it's opening week and pay almost $20 for it.

With Netflix, we have our queue set up, and if there's something we'd like to see, but don't want to spend the money on it in the theater or if it never made it The Five Buck Club, we can just save it to our queue and when it comes out on DVD it'll be added to the top of our queue and sent to us as soon as a copy is avaliable.

Because of Netflix we have watched so many more movies in the past few months - lately, for our date night, we find ourselves either going out for a nice dinner and coming home to watch our Netflix movie, or we pick up a $5 pizza from Little Caesar's and eat it while we watch our movie.

Talk about a great way to save on your monthly entertainment budget!

And like I said earlier, some films you can even watch instantly on your computer! There's been several times where my husband is at work and I'll find a movie on there that I wanted to see that he didn't, I can go ahead and watch it. Netflix also has tons of TV shows you can either watch instantly or have sent to you disc by disc.

Plus, the more you rate movies, the more movies Netflix can recommend for you based off what you liked and didn't like.

Now true, it might not be as quick as going to the video store yourself and picking something up, however it is pretty quick.

Say we watch our movie on Monday and drop it off in our outgoing mailbox either later that night or early on Tuesday. Tuesday morning, the mail goes out with the DVD we are returning, they receive it late that night or early Wednesday and immediately send us out the next film in our queue, which arrives Thursday afternoon. See? It takes roughly 48hrs to have a new movie sent to you. You can easily watch at least 2 movies a week, in addition to any you may watch online. That is so worth the $8.99 a month! Just one trip to the video store alone costs you roughly $4!

I honestly think Netflix is one of the best inventions of the past few years.


I Fantasize About the UPS Man, do you?

The summer before my wedding, my family took a trip to Virgina Beach, however I didn't go with them, as I was busy working 2 jobs and with the upcoming wedding in September and our honeymoon I really couldn't afford to take an additional week off work back then.

Well, they decided it'd be nice to bring me back a 'fun' souvenir t-shirt they found in one of the shops along the boardwalk (and if you've ever been to Virginia Beach you know all about the boardwalk there and the tons of tourist shops there!).

Now my husband has been working for UPS since the beginning of 2006 and is a supervisor there as well. The t-shirt they brought back for me was a light brown one that says "I fantasize about the UPS man," exactly like the image you see with this blog.

I'm not one to wear novelty shirts like that out in public (personally I think they're tacky), but I have no problem wearing them around the house or as a sleep shirt, which is ultimately how I ended up wearing this one.

Well, one day last Spring, on my day off, I decided to sleep in like I usually do and snuggle in bed with my dear hubby. I was also expecting a package to be delivered, so when our buzzer rang, I promptly jumped out of bed, made sure I looked decent and answered.

The UPS delivery guy came to the door with the package I had been waiting for and asked me to sign for it.

While I'm signing for the package, the UPS delivery guy asks me "Are you part of The Family?" with a big grin on his face.

I pause and look at him with a bit of a confused expression as I'm not entirely sure what he's referring to by The Family.

"Your... shirt. Do you work for UPS too?" he asks, still with a big goofy grin on his face.

I stop for a moment and realize that oh geez, I wore the shirt to bed last night and since I'm in my PJs, I'm still wearing it. And wow, this delivery guy looks like a total geeky guy - short with glasses too and he has a big, wide grin on his face because of my shirt! LOL

I give a small chuckle and tell him that no, I myself don't work for UPS, but my husband does - he's a supervisor.

He hands over my package, still with that big goofy grin on his face, and says whatever delivery guys say when they leave.

I close the door and immediately bust out laughing at what had just occured. I go running into the bedroom and wake up dear hubby to tell him all about it too, in which he busts out laughing as well!

I'm sure I made that dorky delivery driver's day!


Avon calling... too many times!

So recently, I decided to become an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay.

I was looking to make a little extra money cuz I figured anything is better than nothing and after looking into it more, I loved the philosophy the company is based on (The Golden Rule and the idea of God first, Family second, Career third). My husband seemed to like that when it came to Mary Kay, it is a consumable, unlike the jewelry I was considering selling, so that would mean I would always have people coming to me for reorders, plus, Mary Kay has a 90% buyback guarentee so if we decided it wasn't working out I could always return what I hadn't used and get 90% of what we paid for it back. I also liked that my unit's weekly meetings and get together was considered girl time too, as at times I get tired of being cooped up in the apartment when I'm not working 2 days a week at my day job.

Now a friend of mine was also considering signing up for Mary Kay after hearing all the benefits and rewards you can reap if you put the effort in, and asked on her Facebook if anyone would buy from her if she sold. Unfortunately, she didn't get a lot of good response and one girl even told her to sell Avon, citing Mary Kay ladies are crazy and pushy - I would beg to differ, just based off my own experiences.

Now true, I have heard stories of sales ladies from various companies who do get a bit pushy and annoying, but the only annoying experience with one I personally have had was with an Avon lady.

I got engaged at the beginning of January 2008 and shortly after I attended a local bridal expo with my mom and mother in law.

Now when you arrive at the expo, they have you fill out and sign a sheet with your phone number and email in order to qualify for any of the drawings they do throughout the expo. Without reading the fine print, I, like all the other soon to be brides, went ahead and filled out the form - who wouldn't want to get put in a drawing to win a free veil or honeymoon to the tropics?

Well, like most of the other soon to be brides, I didn't win any of the handful of drawings they did that afternoon.

A few weeks later, I got a voicemail from a lady who said she was an Avon rep and wanted to get together for a free facial and discuss my makeup for my wedding.

I wasn't interested, as my Matron of Honor did Mary Kay at the time and had already offered to do my makeup for me, so I didn't bother to call this Avon lady back and deleted her voicemail.

Then a week later, she called again and left me another voicemail, similar to the first.

Eventually she reached me one evening as I was driving home from work and was irritated that she was calling me YET AGAIN.

She told me who she was and why she was calling. She asked if I had makeup plans for my wedding yet and I informed her about my Matron of Honor being with Mary Kay and that she was already going to be doing my makeup for me. The lady then offered her free facial to me, but I told her I really didn't have the time and wasn't interested. She said if I changed my mind to please give her a call and I figured that was the end of it.

But it wasn't.

The next thing I knew, I was getting email offers from her EVERY OTHER WEEK. Luckily, I had them sent to an email account I wasn't checking regularly, but still...

I went to this bridal expo almost 2 years ago and it is the only place I can figure where she got my phone number and email address from, as I have never filled out anything for Avon before. TO THIS DAY I am STILL getting emails from this woman. I have NEVER bought anything from her, or from Avon for that matter, and I haven't even spoken to her since that one phone call back in February or March of 2008!!

Talk about annoying!

I finally figured out how to unsubscribe from her emails, as there was no "to unsubcribe from this mailing, click here" link on any of the emails (thank you gmail for implementing a block feature!)

So the lessons learned from this:
-Read the fine print before you sign up for anything at bridal expos (for example) as you never know who they will give your info to and how long that person will harass you for.
-And before you go defending one company over the other, you really can't say one company has crazy pushy ladies while another one is great because there will ALWAYS be someone who had a bad experience with the company you're saying is so great.

Do I think Mary Kay is great?
Sure I do - I wouldn't have signed up for it if I thought otherwise.

Will I tell you that no one is crazy or pushy there?
Well, to be honest, the only consultants I know and have encountered are the ones in my unit and some friends of mine who have sold it in the past. From my experiences, all the women I've met with Mary Kay are really friendly and aren't nearly as overly annoying or pushy as this one Avon lady I encountered was. Those of you that know me know that I'm not very pushy at all! And yet I'm doing just fine with my Mary Kay business.


Christopher Walken does "Pokerface"

Another gem a friend showed me that was just too funny not to repost!

Apparently on Halloween, Christopher Walken appeared on some BBC talk show and read the lyrics to Lady Gaga's song "Pokerface." Someone on Youtube decided to mash that clip together with the "Pokerface" music video and here is in the end result - this really is just too funny!


The Best of Halloween 2009

Growing up, as a little kid, Halloween was that one day out of the year where you get to dress up like your favorite movie or tv character and go door to door with your neighborhood friends asking for candy from all the neighbors.

As I got older, I would dress up as something simple (like a vampire for example) and pass out candy to all the little trick or treaters that would come to our house while my mom and aunt took my little sister and cousin trick or treating.

Once I got to college, Halloween was a time where slutty girls would dress up skimpy little slutty versions of classic characters or outfits, while the rest of us would dress up as something more down to earth (like a pirate) or a favorite character (like the year my roommate and I dressed up like our World of Warcraft characters). It was also a time to find some fun Halloween parties too!

Now that I'm out of college and living the typical life of a 25yr old, finding a good Halloween party is hard to come by, and we don't exactly have the cash to spend on a Halloween costume. I will admit though, my favorite part of Halloween is still seeing all the clever costumes people come up with! Thanks to Facebook, I still got to enjoy seeing what people came up!

This year, I saw:
-several zombie girls
-a really good Billy Mays
-Hannibal Lecter and Clarice
-Michael Jackson
-Flo from the Progressive commercials
-Vulcans from Star Trek
-dead Abe Lincoln
-Pyramid Head from Silent Hill
- 7 and 9 from Tim Burton's 9

among some other really neat costumes!

What did we do? We decided to go Trick or Treating for food - Taco Bell was giving away free Blackjack Tacos from 6-10, while Sonic had 50cent Corndogs from 6-10! It was a fun time regardless though!