Sunday, December 28, 2014

How To Have An Awesome Christmas (The Powers Way!)

Hey everyone! I know you're all being a little over-saturated with posts lately... I guess that's what I get for waiting for so long to post and then having current stuff to post right after! Oops! Let's talk about my Christmas haul and doing Christmas the Powers way! Hooray!

Let me start off by saying that Patrick is a lunatic when it comes to presents. He has rules, and here they are:

1. Starting November first, everything that we buy that isn't 100% necessary gets wrapped and goes straight under the tree, and each gift gets wrapped individually. 

It's all about quantity for Patrick, and things we don't need immediately go straight into the gift pile. The tree starts pooping out presents almost as soon as we put it up (which, for me, is as early as possible because I love Christmas decorations. This year is was around the 14th of November) Frozen chicken? Necessary. New face powder? Well I still have some of the other left, so not necessary... yet. This is how we end up with 130 presents under the tree. This year, he had an eight pack of bottled Vernors shipped from Michigan. Then, he gave me one and then wrapped all of the other bottles individually, so that makes seven separate presents.

2. LISTS. 

Patrick goes from lists. He will buy a gift if A. It is on a list you've given him, B. You have mentioned at least once that you would like that specific item in the future, or C. You are out at the store together and decide on an item together, and then it goes home and gets wrapped. He will not "guess" if you would maybe like an item, because that way nothing is wasted at Christmas. That waffle iron that Aunt Mildred bought you last Christmas that you never opened? That would never happen with Patrick. Personally, I love the way that works out. Christmas then becomes exciting again because you never have to worry about unwrapping a gift that you may have to paste a smile on for, which is always a serious anxiety for me during gift giving situations.

3. Gifts are almost never from a specific person. 

For example, he does most of the Christmas shopping. He buys gifts for himself and for others. Then, he wraps them and puts them from things like "All of Italy," "Steve Jobs," or "Jim Fixx." That way he knows what the item is by looking at the "hint" he has left on it and it gives others the chance to guess what the item is based on the clue. Although, he does sometimes forget what he's written. This year, he opened a gift from "The Mayans" and he had no clue what it was. Altogether, this works out in everyone's favor because that way we never have to play the "Well, you got me 12 gifts and I only got you 5" game. Nope, they're all from random people or things, and he would prefer to buy himself gifts because most of what he wants is pretty specific.

4. Survey gift cards.

Each year, Patrick does hundreds of surveys online through certain websites. These surveys earn him any number of points, which he can cash in at the end of the year for any number of different gift cards. He then cashes them all in for Amazon gift cards, and then finds most of the things you want from your list on Amazon. This year, he had over $600 in Amazon gift cards, and then anything else was paid for out of pocket, however it means that you can either get twice as much as you normally would or you can have a smaller Christmas budget for the year because a large chunk of it is already paid for... and it also means he can go crazy with gift giving.

5. Dollar store stocking stuffers. 

This year, Patrick and I each had three stockings full of stocking stuffers. Crazy, I know. He takes a very small portion of out-of-pocket his Christmas budget and puts it aside for stocking stuffers, then goes crazy at the dollar store buying things that are less practical and more fun. This year, we got things like silly string, hot chocolate packets, gummy bears, Jonas Brothers erasers, glue sticks, etc. Some things are practical but they are mostly ridiculous, which he loves.

Our "stocking stuffers" this year

6. Lay out the presents.

When I wake up on Christmas morning, I go out, tell Patrick I'm awake (or more likely I message him on Google Hangouts...), then I proceed to get ready, shower, etc. When I'm done with my morning routine, I go out to the living room and Patrick has the presents all laid out on the floor so that he can see what they are and easily determine what order he wants to give them out in (and also so he can get really giddy about the sheer number of presents that are coating the floor).

We got new carpet, although I'm not sure about the design. ;)

The way Patrick does Christmas is exciting, and after successfully completing our second Christmas together I'm learning to adjust to it. The only thing that drives me crazy is the stocking part because I am always so careful with things and money. I don't like having things that don't have a use other than for aesthetics, and I can't imagine what I would do with a pack of Jonas Brothers erasers, but it makes him happy so I try not to gripe. So let's get on with it: My Christmas haul!

My "Soot Sprite" slippers, originally from the movie "My Neighbor Totoro" but also known from "Spirited Away"

Pandora bracelet and my first charm, "My Princess"

  1. 1/4 Inch Barrel Curling Wand
  2. Necklace
  3. Ring
  4. Spinning Necklace Holder
  5. Undies (x3)
  6. Blouses (x2)
  7. T Shirts (x2)
  8. Bra
  9. Bandlettes
  10. MP3 player
  11. Iced Tea Maker
  12. Pots & Pans Set
  13. Wooden Spoon Set
  14. Rubber Spatula Set
  15. Tiny Rubber-Tipped Tongs
  16. Purse
  17. Wallet
  18. Pandora Bracelet
  19. Pandora Charm
  20. Face Powder
  21. Cover Up
  22. Eye Liner
  23. Nail Polish
  24. Crystal Pineapple Candy Dish
  25. Taming The Star Runner by S.E. Hinton
  26. Jeggings
  27. Skirt
  28. Scarf Holder/Hanger
  29. Stuffed Giraffe Ornament 
  30. Victoria's Secret PJ Set
  31. Drinking Bird (drinks the water, goes back up to standing, continues)
  32. Ceramic Kitty Measuring Cups
  33. Dyson Pull Along Pet Vacuum
  34. Soot Sprite Slippers
  35. Acne Tools
  36. Minnie Mouse Clip In Ears
  37. Cotton Candy Body Spray
  38. Vibrating Back Massager
  39. Carry On Suitcase
  40. Hedgehog Hanging Calendar
  41. Studded 3/4 Sleeve Knit Shirt
  42. Sketchers Glittery Boat Shoes
  43. Pocketed Yarn Carrying Case
  44. Headphones
  45. Shower Head with Detachable Sprayer (for kitty bathing and hair dying!)
  46. Beastlie
  47. Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries (x4) (I can't find them anywhere in California and they are my favorite)
  48. Vernors (x7) (Also cannot be found in California unless you buy it in a can, but a can of pop could last me several days because I rarely drink it... You see the problem)
  49. Rainbow Bowl & Teaspoon Set
This is just what I got from Patrick, it doesn't even include anything from my family or friends! Keeping in mind that we bought probably 30% of these things way in advance and I wasn't allowed to have them until Christmas (like most of the clothing was purchased in like October or early November simply because I needed new clothes, but I didn't get them until Christmas), we both made out like bandits this year! Christmas with Patrick is way fun, and I wish my family had done it similarly when I was growing up!

Even Marble, my cat, got a present from Patrick, called "Cat's Meow," which is an As Seen On TV item. Don't be fooled by the infomercial stigma; Marble is obsessed with her new toy and even cries when we turn it off! As soon as we can teach her how to turn it on by herself, we won't have to worry anymore :)

"Cat's Meow" featuring Marble

I know that most people enjoy spending the holiday with family, but since my family members are all back in Michigan, at least I got to spend it with the man I love, my precious kitty cat, and a whole hoard of presents.

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday with your loved ones and that you all got what you wanted for Christmas :)

I won't be posting again until after the new year (two whole days, what a shame) and so I wish you all a safe, happy holiday with your friends and I hope 2014 has treated you all as well as it has treated me. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Best Disneyland Trip EVER

Hey y'all! As promised, a post dedicated to Disneyland! Patrick was super busy at the end of the summer, so as soon as we saw an opportunity, we booked a Disney trip. He flew home from Texas, slept for a few hours, woke up, packed, and we left for the park!

We did our usual stop at IHOP and then went straight to the Toy Story Parking Lot, where we get free parking as Premium Annual Passholders. To our surprise, we got to be the Guest of the day!

The wonderful attendant at the entrance gave us Guest of the Day passes, something Patrick has been waiting and wanting to get for his entire life. There are two (2) Guests of the Day per day. The title gets you the following perks for the day:
  1. A special parking spot, complete with Guest of the Day sign, that is reserved for you the entire day.
  2. Your own Toy Story bus to the park. No other guests!
  3. Passes to jump ahead of the line at Radiator Springs Racers.
  4. Pass to jump to the front of the line to get onto a Toy Story bus back to the parking lot (in case there is a long line or you are in a huge rush to get back to the parking lot).
It was a great start to the day! Patrick was so excited that he almost cried. It was less of a big deal for me, but for him it is something that he has been hoping to get for the better part of his life. 

Then we met up with Lena! Lena is a great friend of ours from cast who moved to London for school only a few months after I moved to California, and then she moved straight from London to LA for more school! We don't get to see her as often as we'd like, but we let her know as soon as we knew we were going to be in the park so we could spend some quality time with her.

We met a crazy number of characters for the first time on the first day, beginning with Genie from Aladdin! I thought it was appropriate and I gave him an extra big hug for Robin.

I met Eeyore for the first time. Ever since I began coming to the park, I've been hoping to meet Eeyore, but because the characters only stay out for a certain amount of time, I have seen him and even stood in line to meet him and still missed out on meeting my favorite Disney character. Here, you can see my jumping-up-and-down excitement. 

Christmastime in Disneyland. Unfortunately our trip fell right before Santa comes to town!

This is different scenery-- can you tell?-- and a completely different park! We went over to DCA shortly after we entered Disneyland so that we could meet one of Patrick's favorite characters, and we ran into Eeyore again! Guest of the Day and running into my favorite character twice in one day when I have never been able to meet him before? This was turning into the best day ever!

Patrick got to meet one of his favorites and never-seen-before characters, Oswald! We stalked the area for a while and waited in line to meet Oswald, as he was a new character brought in from Disneyland Tokyo. 

After such an exciting day, we all decided that it was time to go back to the hotel and just hang out. Patrick and I took a nap and Lena watched some television. After we all felt a little more rested, we headed back into the park for dinner. 

Flo's Cafe is one of the best-kept secrets of Disneyland-- or, well, it was. Patrick and I have recommended this restaurant to countless friends who had never even thought to go in there before. We love(d) it! However, this trip we discovered that they completely changed their menu. We were both really displeased and left the restaurant a little sad. I don't think we will be going back there in the future.

After dinner we used our passes to go on Radiator Springs Racers! I am normally not a "rides person" because I get motion sickness and really hate any ride where I can't see (Space Mountain), can't tell what's coming (Space Mountain), and my stomach drops (Space Mountain), but I found that I really enjoyed this ride! You may not be able to tell that my obvious yelling is not in fear but excitement, but I assure you that it is!

We then hiked it back into Disneyland to go on The Haunted Mansion! I don't mind this ride usually, and this time it was really cool because they had it all decked out in Nightmare Before Christmas gear! It was super fun! 

Yes, we match! We had to have these jackets that we found in Disneyland! Patrick wears his almost every single day. I wear mine occasionally (mostly because I would wear it more often but I don't want to look too matchy).

I thought this was the sweetest picture, I'm glad Patrick captured it. The little girl was so excited, and Rapunzel was just as thrilled to meet that little girl. It was precious!

Baymax! If you haven't already seen Big Hero 6, please get your butt to the theater and do so! It was incredible, and it was so cool to see how Disney made Baymax into a real life character and how he and Hiro interacted together.

As always, my favorite part of the parks is the ducks! We found an area near Space Mountain and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage where there were tons and tons of ducks that wanted to be hand fed! One of them bit me, and it was glorious. I have never been more thrilled!

 On our last day, we decided to go to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.! It was fantastic: definitely one of my favorite restaurants now. 

Altogether this was absolutely 100% the BEST Disney trip I have ever had, and I would have to go ahead and say that Patrick feels the same way. The only thing we didn't get to do is see Mickey's Magical Map (our favorite show), but there's always next time!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

October, November, and December!

Hey everyone! Once again, I have been a slacker on the blog-front. We've had such a busy couple of months that now that we finally have some down time, neither of us feels like doing anything productive. This post is going to be a bit of a two-parter in order to keep it short and to give proper spotlight to some of the events. After the new year, I'll even have a third post to share with you! Hooray!

Without further adieu, let's get started! 

Apartment Update:
We do still love our apartment, as I made it clear in my last post. However, we've discovered some new irritating quirks about it-- namely, our neighbor(s). We have discovered, through great pains, that our upstairs neighbor is very overweight and very heavy footed. There is only so much our complex is willing to do about the situation. Specifically, they want to move us to a top floor (third floor) unit in order to prevent the same thing from happening should we move to another first floor or even second floor unit, but I'm being stubborn about it because I don't think we should be punished when we aren't the ones causing the issue. I think that any other person who moves into the unit we're currently in would have the same problem, and I'm not willing to trudge up two flights of stairs for the next nine months. So we are suffering through our iron-footed neighbor, even though the noise is cutting into our sleep and into Patrick's work. The paintings on our wall rattle, as do the glasses in our kitchen cabinets, and we can tell where he is in the apartment at all times. It's terrible. I'm waiting for the day that plaster starts to fall from the ceiling and he just tumbles into our living room. 

October was CRAZY! There were eight Rocky Horror shows scheduled from October 4 through November 1. At the end of the month, we had shows three nights in a row-- one in a different state! The 4th was in Menlo Park, the 17th was in Menlo Park, the 18th was in Cloverdale, the 24th was in Pittsburg, the 25th in SF, the 30th in Reno, the 31st in SF, and the 1st in Menlo Park. Because of Patrick's work schedule, we were only able to make it to six of the eight shows, but it was a blast! I especially had fun doing the Pittsburg, Reno, and Halloween shows. I learned a new skill (doing spotlight), and in doing so I finally found a place on cast where I am particularly useful, because I am really bad at memorizing prop cues. 

Our Pittsburg show even got its own article, which you can check out here. Claps to our amazing cast and especially our directors for getting through the craziest month most of us have ever experienced! 

Spotlight selfie! I really just love this outfit. I wore it to at least three of the Rocktober shows.

Our Janet (Victoria) and Colombia (Diane) posing with their fans!

Our very own "age ambiguous dancing tree"!


Patrick was a mouse (duh!) for Halloween! Actually, he was Karen as a mouse from Mean Girls. We spent weeks looking for the perfect dress, wig, and shoes so that he could look the part but not be as... revealing as the character was in the movie. 

I did his makeup for the night, which I am incredibly proud of (it is screen accurate). He makes a real pretty woman, if I do say so myself!

I don't have any good photos of my Halloween costume on actual Halloween, however here it is a few weeks previously at our friends Mandy and Brook's Halloween party! Can you tell what I went as?

In the midst of Rocktober, Patrick and I were also travelling quite a bit. Lately he has been getting business in places that are reasonable distances away, which means that he can drive and I can go with him. In October we were in Burlingame (just a few miles from where we used to live, but too long of a drive for Patrick to have commuted every day), then we went home for a night, then drove straight to Vegas for a work-related convention, and then we drove straight from Vegas to Reno for the Rocky Reno show. From Reno we drove home and we finally got a short break (from work, not from Rocky, as we still had two more shows). Shortly after that, Patrick flew to Texas for work, and when he got home we went straight to Disneyland! Our Disney trip will be in a separate post because it really was magical. Probably the best trip we've ever had. Our Vegas trip will also be in a separate post because there is so much to include! 

The view from our room in Reno

Most of November was spent with me at home and Patrick travelling. Not a whole lot happened worth mention except for Thanksgiving. This year, even though it was just the two of us, I was determined to have a full Thanksgiving dinner like I would have had with my family in Michigan. So, Patrick let me cook for once, and I made a very successful Thanksgiving dinner. Having been the first time I've ever made an entire meal by myself, we were both really impressed with the job I did! 

Our Menu:
  • Ham
  • Mashed Garlic Redskin Potatoes
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole 
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie (purchased from Safeway because it was a last minute item... Silly me, I thought having Sweet Potato Casserole was kind of the same thing, but someone complained)
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I was hit with some news that I knew was coming but it took me by surprise all the same. My mother moved and all of my stuff was still at the old house, and when I called her and asked if she had gotten all of the things I had asked her to grab for me, she hadn't. I don't mean to say that I don't trust my mother, but if those things are the only things I have left back in Michigan, I wanted to make sure they got to a safe place before she moved out. So when I found out that she has to be out of our old house in very early January, I knew I had to go back to get my stuff and make sure the job was done myself. Only a week away from when I would fly home, I booked a plane ticket and started to pack. I was lucky to even get a ticket so close to the holidays, and had I not gone back when I did, I would have been travelling DURING the holidays, which would have actually been impossible as there were no flights left. And so I went back to Michigan on December 7 and returned to California on December 17 for a quick, pretty disappointing trip home (which I won't get into here). I did get to visit with a few people and some family and I got to go to the Detroit Zoo, but I'm hoping future trips will be better!

Ella is now five years old!

Christina is now eight!

Me and Zach's Corn Snake, Arbok

A tiny bird that flew into my grandparents' sliding glass door. He was quite dazed and needed some love. (P.S. Rest assured that most of these pictures are of animals, because I love them more than humans)

Seafood pasta, compliments of Chef Grandpa! I can still taste it, and it is so, so good.

Babcia! My favorite woman :) I love you!

Hatching butterflies at the Detroit Zoo! HOW COOL!

The most majestic animals on the face of the earth. Look at those beauties.

Obligatory hippo picture!

Coming Up:
Our outlook for the new year changes almost every day, it seems. Patrick's work schedule is never definite, and often he will be sent to any number of places at a moment's notice. We do know that we will be spending Christmas day together, and then Jackie and Dan will be coming over on Saturday and we will do Christmas with them. New Year's Eve will be spent with our Rocky family at our annual NYE Rocky show, but the coming months are really up in the air as for trips, travel, or events. Of course, we do look forward to spending as much time as possible together!