Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Year In Review

Almost time to say, "2010, See Ya!". As I have done on my blog every year since 2007, I like to write a little recap of my year and look back and reflect. So here goes!


I dealt with the post-holiday blues by dabbling with the thought that I would take up knitting. I did NOT learn how to knit this year. Maybe next year. I had a bulb garden.

You should always stop & smell the flowers, says Noodles!

Cats really are curious! That's Baxter
And Noodles modeled his latest winter sweater.

This cozy sweater features a fur collar

And I shopped A LOT and spent a lot of money. I recapped some of my spending here. On January 20, I had an epiphany. I needed to put down the plastic and start living on cash only. I made it my goal to only buy essential items only and declared it My Year of No Shopping. I started a second blog to chronicle my journey.


Eric and I flew to Southern California for a winter getaway. I actually won 2 round-trip tickets on Sun Country Air on Twitter and off we went. We flew into San Diego and spent time at all my favorite places - La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Fashion Valley, Fashion Island, Sprinkles Cupcakes, The Melting Pot.

Yum! Red Velvet

I got to hang out with my girlfriend, Angie, one day and my other friend, Jodan, another day.

Champagne brunch

I spent Valentine's Day alone because Eric had to fly to Jamaica for work, but I got a big bouquet of flowers, an orchid plant and See's chocolates.

Gorgeous Valentine's Day bouquet


Eric started a new job in March after 14 years at his former company. It would turn out to be a "mistake", but we wouldn't realize that til later! My friend Amber and I went to a book signing for Jodi Picoult's new book. And I entered Noodles in a Cutest Dog contest. He didn't win even though I pestered all my friends on Facebook and Twitter to vote for him.


I ALMOST accepted a new job but instead I ended up going from 32 hours a week to 40 hours at my current job. What a difference it has made in my paycheck--ha ha! I did my yearly volunteer work at "Ever After Gowns" to make sure that all deserving high school girls can have a beautiful prom dress, shoes, accessories and a lovely prom experience.


I went to Vegas on a family vacation (my husband and I, my mom, and Eric's parents as well) and stayed at the Wynn Encore and we had a fantastic time.

My mom had a penthouse room - here is the view from the top!

Vegas all lit up at night!

Eric and I saw Holly Madison in Peep Show. I had the most delicious Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity.

Frrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity

Went to the top of the fake Eiffel Tower in a windstorm.

Eiffel Tower at Paris Hotel - in a windstorm--I was seriously freezing

Ate a lot, shopped (a little), drank a lot. A mention as to the shopping - Vegas is when I fell off the No Shopping wagon and bought a Kate Spade clutch. Oops!

Pretty Kate Spade clutch was my shopping downfall

This was also the month that Noodles and I did our annual "Walk for Animals" to help raise money for the Humane Society.

Noodles takes a break!

A wagonful of cute pups!


My favorite part of this month was when my favorite part-time dog, Roxie, a little Shih Tzu came to visit. I think she ended up staying about two weeks. I love her! Little Roxie Fox. I can't wait til her owners go on vacation again!


Another favorite thing about this month was my first Minnesota Bloggers Dinner with Margaret, Cathy, Lisa, and Marcy. The gang! We have since had one other dinner and a Christmas Cookie Exchange and added Michael to our little group.


Easily my favorite part about this month was our weekend getaway to Mackinac Island, Michigan. We took Noodles with us and bicycled all over the island. I love this island. No cars allowed--you have to walk, bicycle, or get around by horse. It is lovely! There are cute boutiques, fudge shops, Starbucks, wonderful restaurants. It is lovely!

On the ferry

I rode this bike everywhere!

Mackinac Bridge


In August I was off to New Hampshire to visit Eric's family and it included a trip to Boston and Newbury Street, one of my favorite places to shop. It also included a trip to Salem, Massachusetts home of the witches. I love it there, the history and the magic. And we also went to the Yankee Candle headquarters in Deerfield, Massachusetts which was very cool. August was also State Fair month here in the Midwest. I went to both the Iowa State Fair and the Minnesota State Fair.

Ferris Wheel!

Iowa State Fair

Minnesota State Fair

Another thing worthing mentioning about this month is when my blogging friend, Michelle, interviewed me for her blog. You can read my interview here. I was honored!


I was a very bad blogger in September; my posts were practically non-existent! Between two blogs, I only had 5 whole posts. One thing that stands out about September was the horrible idea to get all my medical appointments done in one day. On one day I went to the gynecologist and had a pelvic and pap smear and then a mammogram and then I went to the dentist. What was I thinking??!! Afterwards I went to lunch with my husband and then went shopping and had a cookie at Macy's. At least those appointments are out of the way!


My favorite month. I celebrated my birthday at The Melting Pot.

My birthday dinner at The Melting Pot

I celebrated Halloween.

A witch & her familiar

And then two days after my birthday and four days before his own, my husband lost his job. I threw him a surprise 40th birthday party anyway.

Surprise! Does he look surprised & delighted??!!

It was a very interesting and crazy month and I was slightly worried about being poor, but I also knew we would prevail. This was also the month that I decided to start a new blog and phase out the other two. I felt like Pretty Random Thoughts was no longer fresh and I had failed in my No Shopping at Girl In Kate Spade Mittens. So I started a new blog where I hoped to combine the best of both worlds. I gave it the same birthday as me - October 13.


Hooray, my husband was offered a new job and he really likes it. We had our first snowfall on November 13th. We had a low-key Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us.

First Snow of the Season


I missed my other two blogs, so I brought them back. I now blog at 3 places and I am happy with that. December had some down days. As in, I wasn't always my usual perky self, but my friends helped to cheer me up. And December had a ton of snow, well over 30 inches on the ground.

More snow!!!

Eric and I celebrated our 8th anniversary on December 13th. You can read about that here!

What I will remember about December is how many people touched my life and the true spirit of Christmas. I made a wonderful new blogging friend, Tina, who I know will be my friend in the New Year, too! A friend from high school sent me a box of fun Vera Bradley items which she totally did not have to do. She is very kind! And something touching happened on Christmas Eve that I have not mentioned on any of my blogs. A friend's mother died of cancer earlier in the month. Her mother was very special to me and often sent me hand-made cards. She made them with rubber stamps. Well, on Christmas Eve no less I received one of the most special rubber stamps--a cat holding flowers - that was the stamp she used to make me a birthday card years ago. My friend included a very sweet note about how she knew I was the person whom her mom would most want to have this stamp. I cried. And I realized I am very blessed and surrounded with many, many lovely and wonderful angels.

Christmas Eve, always my favorite day of the year - with my pals, Noodles & Baxter



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Resolve To ...

It is getting to be that time of year. Time to make out my New Year's Resolutions for 2011. Twenty - eleven! Can you believe that??? Where did 2010 go? Definitely I blinked and the year was gone. I guess it really is true that the older you get, the faster time flies.

While I do love list-making, I am not exactly always on board with New Year's Resolutions. For one thing, everyone always makes the same ones--mainly to lose weight. And then everyone goes all crazy with dieting and exercise for about four days and then they fail. Some years I don't make resolutions and some years I just like to make predictions.

This year I find myself in a more goal setting frame of mind, so here goes:

1. Lose 5 pounds. I don't even really NEED to lose 5 pounds, but it seems like it would be something good to do for myself. Some of you might not know this, but last year over a period of about 6 months I lost a few pounds. And it was not like I was plus-sized before or shopping at Lane Bryant (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I was definitely on the train to Chubby Town so I did it the old-fashioned way. I worked out every single day, no matter what, and I kept a food journal, trying to keep myself around 1200 calories per day. Of course, some days I went over and that was okay. Now I wear a size 4 to size 6 depending on where I shop and I am happy. I don't need to be a size zero or super skinny as long as I am toned and at a healthy weight. But I tend to gain about 2 or 3 pounds of water weight whenever I have PMS so I decided if I lose 5 more pounds I will be just slightly better off and I can probably do that by cutting out a glass of wine here and there, and a cookie or two. And I continue to be very diligent about exercise. That is key.

2. Pay off 4 credit cards. If you follow me on The Girl in Kate Spade Mittens that goal sounds very familiar. In fact, it was my goal from last year. Guess what--I still need to do it. I have two small balances on two of my department store cards (Bloomingdale's and Von Maur) and I still need to pay off Macy's and my smallest Visa balance. I can do it!

3. Pay down $6,000 in credit card debt. By May of last year, I was down $3,000 in credit card debt. Now I am only down $855. I backslid, it is true. Redoubling my efforts to try to live on a more cash basis.

4. Contribute one percent more to my 401k plan at work. I want to do this every year. I won't be young forever!

5. Save $2,000. I have 3 separate personal savings accounts - a Smarty Pig, an ING and a US Bank S.T.A.R.T. My goals for them are pretty unstructured, but I like one of them to be for short-term, one for long-term and one for emergencies.

6, Be happy and grateful and laugh and smile and be silly at every chance.

7. Blog more and comment more.

What are your resolutions?

P.S. I almost forgot to list the most important one. Cut out the clutter! Keep every closet, drawer and cupboard NEAT. Throw away, donate and shred. Edit. Yes, the show "Hoarders" on TLC freaks me out.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Infamous To Do List

I always have one, a To Do list. Sometimes it is on a scrap of paper, sometimes in the little notebook I carry around for jotting down ideas, things I need to buy, a book I want to read, a song I like. Anyhow there is always an unending To Do list somewhere and it is never more ambitious than when I have, oh, say TWELVE WHOLE DAYS OFF at Christmastime.

My friend, Sttaci, gave me an entire stash of "L" notepads and memo pads and magnetic pads that are PERFECT for making my lists. You know, "L" for Lesli. I have a fondness for the letter L!

My list this morning looks a little something like this:

Thank you cards. For all those wonderful Christmas presents I received. I found some thank-you cards from years past, but chances are, I will need to buy more thank-you cards.

Update my address book. I still carry around a purse-sized address book that is about 10 years old. Somewhere, but I can't even tell you where, I have the cutest Anne Keenan Higgins address book that I need to transfer all my addresses to. Only I can't find it. But maybe I will come across it this week.

Since I am:

Working on my walk-in closet (always!)

Clearing off my dresser

Straightening my yellow Pottery Barn desk (my gawd I have paperwork that is pre-historic!)

I also received for Christmas the Nookcolor from my husband and so far I have charged it for 3 hours, put on its cute lavender cover (still waiting for Kate Spade to come out with a cover for the Nookcolor version! like they have for the regular Nooks), navigated my way around until I am halfway familiar, and listened to Pandora while working out. I want to actually purchase a book or magazine. I received many Barnes & Noble gift cards for Christmas because everyone knew I was getting a Nook.

Buy a purple Christmas tree. I actually did that yesterday!! I returned one of my gifts that really wasn't to my taste or decorating style and I used the store credit to purchase a 2-foot purple Christmas tree instead for next year.

Melly. Okay, this is a store at the Galleria in Edina that has a certain kate spade velvet bow bag that I want. I think it would be perfect for New Years Eve and it is now on sale.

Williams Sonoma. I have a $30 coupon because I spent so much there on a gift for my husband, the cook. I bought him a very expensive pressure cooker. I know nothing about cooking and if it doesn't involve making cute cupcakes, forget it. But Eric is really into cooking and this thing does everything in a fraction of the time it would normally take.




Yes, I really listed that 3 times. I am planning to work out a total of 90 minutes today. I am 2-3 pounds heavier than normal and it is true it could just be PMS weight gain, but it could also be all of those holiday treats so I figure I better nip it in the bud now!

So that's my list. I better get busy!


What's on your list? Are you on a staycation this week or are you at work?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas List

This post is inspired by my pal and fellow blogger Margaret the Minnesota Mom over at Happy To Be From Iowa.

Things I Love About Christmas

Christmas lights around various neighborhoods

White Christmas trees


Beautiful gift wrap and ribbon

Decorating the house & tree

*Fruitcake (yes, seriously!)

*Chocolate covered cherries

*Christmas Cookies

Glittery ornaments

Christmas cards from my friends

Packages in the mail

12 days off from work

Gift cards

Christmas movies on Lifetime Fa La La La

The magical feeling I still get on Christmas Eve

A Christmas stocking bursting with fun things

Vintage Santas

**Pets sleeping under the Christmas tree

Things I Don't Love About Christmas

Candy canes

Crabby people

Long lines

Ugly Christmas sweaters & sweatshirts

*Weight gain!

**Cats climbing the tree

When it is over - the blahs

Taking Down the Tree

But mostly I really LOVE Christmas. Merry Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Molly Marx!

I saw this book at Target in November and made a mental note of the title for future reference. (Okay, I had Eric take my picture holding the book so I would remember!). So when I was at Barnes & Noble a few weeks later, I bought it with a gift card.

It was one of those books that I loved so much that I HAVE to read the other books by the same writer, Sally Koslow. I am still trying to be good with my money so I always turn to my Public Library first and fortunately they carried both of her other books. On the other hand, I also have a policy of BUYING the books of my favorite authors because I like to support them.

But the next best thing is blogging about a fun new writer and that is what I am doing.

The Late Lamented Molly Marx is a humorous, yet touching look at life in the hereafter--or rather Molly observes life going on without her as she visits from the "Duration" and she also relives some of the moments in her life and marriage, time spent with her daughter, sister, parents, best friend and lover. Shortly before she died, she had been having an extra-marital affair and was going to put an end to it and try to focus all of her energies on her marriage. But, well, something happened along the way.

I loved this book, the writer's breezy style, attention to detail, and character development. It really makes one stop and think about how short life is, about the choices we make, and how important love is.

Anyhow that was my take on the book. It goes under the category of one of my favorite books of 2010.

From Amazon:

"The circumstances of Molly Marx’s death may be suspicious, but she hasn’t lost her joie de vivre. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly, thirty-five years old, is delighted to discover that she can still keep tabs on those she left behind: Annabel, her beloved four-year-old daughter; Lucy, her combustible twin sister; Kitty, her piece-of-work mother-in-law; Brie, her beautiful and steadfast best friend; and, of course, her husband, Barry, a plastic surgeon with more than a professional interest in many of his female patients. As a bonus, Molly quickly realizes that the afterlife comes with a finely tuned BS detector.

Exploring the bonds of fidelity, family, and friendship, and narrated by a memorable and endearing character, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving, and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story, and all heart."

Recommended reading!!

P.S. Her other 2 books that I am picking up from the Library this week are "Little Pink Slips" and "With Friends Like These".