30 December 2009

2009 in Review

While I've done month by month reviews before, I think I will break from that format this year. Instead, here's a thematic look back:

notable stuff: I was shortlisted for CBC's Canada Writes, I celebrated turning 40 by watching Hubby smash the hell out of a cake, I got sucked into Twitter, I got a lot of food out of the garden, and we safely navigated the H1N1 scare.

web finds: This year, I fell out of love with Go Fug Yourself after several site redesigns and a new ad partner meant the site itself was fugly and annoying. However, I still like snark and for that, I now go to Regretsy which skewers some of the quirkier things listed on Etsy and Cakewrecks which does the same for "professionally designed cakes." The primary difference between the two is that Regretsy content frequently skirts an NC17 rating whereas Cakewrecks barely rates a PG so I can share the posts with Kiddo.

While I dearly miss At the Movies (and its follow up, which I refer to as the Ebert and Assclown years), I continue to get Ebert's reviews via a weekly email newsletter from the Chicago Sun-Times. I don't know why I hadn't noticed it before but Ebert also has a blog -- and it is full of awesome that is sometimes but not always related to movies. Speaking of awesome (and occasionally NSFW) the comic/info stuff at the Oatmeal often makes me laugh. I finally added it to my Google Reader yesterday after reading this post.

new toys: In the spring, I got a bike but I am a weather sissy and will not ride when it is overly hot, overly cold or overly wet so I have used it less than would be ideal. In the be-careful-what-you-wish-for category, I won an OTTO coffee machine. While it is very pretty, it's a pain to use. For Christmas I got two new toys: a Flip UltraHD Camcorder and a serger both of which come with learning curves. As a family, we also got a PS3 (which I love), a Macbook (for app development), and a Wii Balance Board with Wii Fit, which promptly told me I was fat and should exercise more. (Well, duh.)

escapes: Early in the year we went to Vegas. Bad idea; that city is not our kind of place. As a family, we like elbow room and clean air, two things that are at a premium in Vegas. We cleansed our palate with a weekend at Beach Acres, a few trips to Vancouver, a family weekend in Nanoose Bay, and a much-needed anniversary retreat to Sooke Harbour House. We also spent Christmas at Beach Acres, though that trip was probably more ambitious than the season called for.

play time: Over the year, I spent a lot of time caring for my Moshi Monster and, inside Facebook, playing a trio of addictive games: Lexulous, PackRat, and Bejeweled Blitz. While I have a bunch of games on my iPod, my faves are still the PopCap games -- Bejeweled, Bookworm and, of course, Chuzzle -- I highly recommend all three for any platform (and Zuma, too, which we bought for the PS3.)

I read a fair number of books, though there are still many unfinished tomes beside my bed. I found that Charlie Huston's crime novels are great fun to chew through, as was a novel based on characters from the TV series Bones (which I've never watched) -- I found it among the books at the Beach Acres cabin. I also read a number of books by local author Karen Rivers. Her blog and twitter feed regularly make me laugh (and snort) but her books... well, I won't likely pick up any more; they're well written but not to my taste.

I've been struggling to recall which movies I saw in the theatre this year. I know we saw plenty; here's what I remember (after searching the web for 2009 releases!): Race to Witch Mountain, Watchmen, Coraline, Up, Julie and Julia, Monsters vs. Aliens, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Public Enemies, Inglorious Basterds, 9, Star Trek 11, Zombieland, A Christmas Carol, and 2012. You can probably guess which ones we saw with Kiddo.


Happy New Year!

25 December 2009

Happy Christmas, 2009.

We are hiding away in Parksville this year -- us and the inlaws in two cabins -- and I think I am going to go take some photos down at the beach. My new gift is recharging so you'll have to wait for that -- but expect more YouTube fun in the new year ;) Actually, I got two big gifts this year (I am very spoiled) -- I also got a gift certificate from Hubby which I used to buy a Janome serger that I will set up after Christmas.

Getting up here was an adventure -- we rented a Thule carrier for the top of the van -- thank goodness because even with it, we were packed full. Hopefully, going back we can re-pack things (like unwrapped gifts) and we won't have as much food (we brought enough to feed 9 people for three days) so that at least people can stretch their legs.

I of course will do my part to lighten the load by drinking coffee and eating chocolate...

Merry Christmas All.

20 December 2009

A Dickens exception

Some of you may recall that I really don't like Charles Dickens (or most of his contemporaries) but there is one notable exception and that is his novella, A Christmas Carol. Earlier this year, I did go to see the filmed-for-3D version starring Jim Carrey. I was expecting utter crap (like, say, Jim Carrey as the Grinch) but was pleasantly surprised -- aside from one ridiculous sequence, it kept close to the original text. Very close, actually. I would recommend seeing it (3D is not necessary to the experience, though.)

Tonight, we've been watching the George C. Scott version (from 1984) and to answer a question (how specific Dickens was in his description of the Ghost of Christmas Past), I looked up the original text on the internet archive (here's a very nice Putnam edition you can read online). Kiddo was reading it over my shoulder and asked to read the whole thing -- so I found a Project Gutenberg edition through Stanza and downloaded it to my iPod. She's now curled up on her bed reading Dickens. How awesome is that?

Of course, my favourite version is probably the Muppet Christmas Carol ("Light the lamp, not the rat!!") which I will watch sometime before the 25th.

19 December 2009

Furniture and appliance compromises


Our washing machine is on its last legs; mid-week I was pretty sure it was pining for the fjords. Before springing for a new washer, we decided to try a small load. Hubby used the perma-press setting and to my surprise, it made it through. We tried another, and another, and decided that this was the way to go. So, for now we just have to compromise and do more smaller loads until we can afford to replace it (and likely the dryer, too). I'm not too concerned, of course; the appliances were all included in the house purchase and the washer dryer were old and beat up when we inherited them.

Sigh #2

Ever since Kiddo was wee, and we bought a non-standard size crib (which she outgrew almost immediately), we seem to have made consistently questionable choices in beds for her. The only really good bed we had for her (well, we still have it, up in the attic) was the captain's bed but in her tiny room here, we felt like she needed more space so we bought the Tromsö loft bed from IKEA. But the clearance from the ceiling once the mattress was in place made it mostly useless. Still, she slept there until she came down with the flu (and flu+ladder=disaster). For whatever reason, we never put the mattress back up on the loft, letting her play up there with the padding of a couple of blankets.

So, when friends of ours let us know they had to get rid of an almost new twin bed because they are moving, we decided to buy it. Today, I manhandled it home (tied it to the top of the van and hoped that we would beat the rain -- we did) and into the house. I shoved things around in her room and heaved her mattress back up to the loft then started to move the new bed into place and wouldn't you know it? it didn't fit under the loft! I was ready to blame it on IKEA and their non-standard sizings (at least not standard in North America) but when I measured it then did a web search for "standard mattress sizes" I discovered that the new bed is an "extra long " twin. Huh. Never knew such a thing existed.

So, we have turned the new bed 90° under her loft -- it'll do for now but there is less than a 12 inches of clearance between the foot of the bed and the wall so it's far from ideal. Like the washer and dryer, we're just going to live with the compromise until after Christmas.


13 December 2009

The Vancouver Embargo Begins

A while back, we earned a free night with our "usual" hotel chain and we had to use it before Dec 25th or lose it. We chose to use it in order to facilitate one last shopping spree in Vancouver before the International Sporting Event That Shall Not Be Named (ISETSNBN) descends, bringing with it all manner of neo-fascist f**kery1.

We rolled out on a 9 am ferry, dining in style in the Pacific Buffet. After a brief stop to fuel up, we headed for Aberdeen Mall -- Hubby hung with Kiddo in the play zone while I did some damage in Daiso. As luck would have it, Friday turned out to be Midnight Madness at IKEA -- specials every hour and crowds to go with it, but we got two new cabinets and more media storage for the living room plus a few other bits and pieces.

After all that, we returned to the hotel exhausted. Sunday we picked up my Mother in Law from the ferries and ventured into DressSew Supplies downtown -- frustrating to get there but we left with two bags of fabric, trim, notions and costume pieces. Next stop was T, then lunch and a few stores in the Kits neighbourhood. Our last stop was to stock up on some Asian imports at Yaohan Centre in Richmond before it was back to the ferries and another trip to the buffet.

Today was planned to be a quiet day but turned out to be a lot of work as we built and installed new IKEA purchases, sorted and reorganized our crap (why? to make room for MORE crap, of course! Sigh.) and swept up two or three rabbits worth of dust bunnies from the corners. That was followed by an attempted computer rescue for my Mom (her machine froze and she had no way to get past the blue error screen without a rescue disk). Unfortunately, there was to be no rescue -- it's still in limbo. Once home, there was still filing and laundry waiting. Ugh.

This week will be busy: five days of work and Hubby has meeting-palooza this week plus Kiddo has two evening performances of her Holiday Concert. At least Friday is my last workday and Kiddo's last school day until January.

1Yeah, I'm more than a little bitter after actually trying to navigate through the "transportation improvements" -- slowly crawling past the many signs stating No Stopping Feb-Mar.

07 December 2009

contrary logic.and random thoughts

Apparently, I had PeGeStuDoMo all wrong. I shouldn't have told anyone what I was doing and that is why I failed. (Actually, I figure I failed because I am a gold medalist** in procrastination)
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Kiddo has requested all vegetarian meals this week --perfectly doable but it's making me crave steak and click on every link that mentions food -- which meant I found this curiosity (that would be great if I liked peppermint lattes) and this wonderful tale of determination not to waste food.
* * *

Finally, just for fun, here's a great ad from LG -- more or less a PSA asking people to think before they text, "Give it a ponder." There is a whole series of these. They make me smile.

**hey, here's hoping VanOC doesn't come after me for saying "gold medalist."

03 December 2009

Troll Maintenance.

Those of you who follow this blog will be aware that I picked up an internet troll last week, someone who felt compelled to spew vile text over recent posts all because I shared some random thoughts about a 40 year old television special.

Since I don't want to give him any further power, comments are now moderated until further notice and comments on this post are closed.

[The image accompanying this post is the Troll of Norway, uploaded by Flickr user Christoph Grothaus, used through a CC-BY-ND license.]