Friday, December 23, 2011

Trim the Tree

Under the Tree
Marshmallow & Peppermint
I can't believe Christmas is almost here! 
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

♥ Travis and Teri were kind enough as always to have everyone over to there place, where our little gift exchange with everybody went down! I have some of the most thoughtful and fun friends and it means the world that we all do something as small as give each other a little Christmas something :)

♥ I'm not sure if I love it, or find them so silly that I love them by default, but tacky Christmas sweaters are so endearing. Wearing a tacky St. Patty's sweater or Halloween sweater just isn't the same. Throw on a string of Christmas lights as a necklace that everyone seems to have and add a funky holiday brooch and you're ready to rock that old lady sweater in style. Kooky and endearing, see?

little loves
youthberry tea ♥ Christmas cards ♥ three years strong of April and my Nutcracker tradition - one of my favorites! ♥ my own copy of "Catching Fire" ♥ owl coin purses ♥ my favorite cashier at Target - a little old man who's super friendly, super quick, and makes you feel like you are on a gameshow ♥ kitten videos and other hilarious YouTube finds ♥ thank you's from coworkers ♥ my end-of-term reward - Blowfish's Haporo boots!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater's Nutcraker

( source )

Every December, April and I take advantage of my student discount and go see the Nutcracker downtown at the Benedum Center. It's been our little holiday tradition for 3 years now and it's one that I look forward to most. Last year we scored unbelievable seats (for $15 a piece at that!) and ended up only a few rows back from the stage.

Seeing the PBT perform the Nutcracker never gets old or redundant, and every year when the curtains rise and the music starts resounding through the auditorium, with its great chandelier, complete and utter magic seizes me, even though I must have seen this production 20 times in my life. Every time I see a performance, I spot something new. Just watching different guests at the opening party interact creates a whole different show each time!

Not too shabby seats this year either...

The Pittsburgh twist to it in recent years has made it all the more charming. A few years back, Artistic Director Terrence Orr tweaked it to give the show some Pittsburgh pizzaz, adding in the Kaufmann's clock to the proscenium; guests such as the Heinz's and Kaufmann's themselves; carousels; a view from Mt. Washington; and this historic Shadyside home you see in the backdrop above. The Nutcracker still has all of the charm from the "classic" versions I remember seeing when I was little, but seeing all of the Pittsburgh history married in just makes it that much cooler!

Have you seen the Nutcracker performed? Any fun twists on it in your town?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Cookies Cookies

Growing up at Grandma's house, I can remember the scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air every year at Christmastime. There was always an abundance of sweets to set on that ruby-red platter so that Santa could indulge (and us as well!) on Christmas Eve.

Cookbook Cut-out Cut-out cookies Cookies Icing Icing

Thumbprints, icing cookies, M&Ms, cold dough, lady-locks - you name it, and Gram always had them on hand. But perhaps my favorite of all are these little gems; just simple cut-out sugar cookies, sprinkled with crystals or iced. And being able to make them with her means all the cookies in the world.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I Love Thursday


♥ Drumroll....CLASSES ARE OVER! Finally. This term was really intense for some reason or another, and it's not the most credit-laden term I've had either. But three long papers, a proposal, presentation, and two exams later, it's just good to take a quick break before I start my very last term of undergrad ever! But now it's time to frantically finish things for the holidays xD

♥ As a thank you to one of my professors for writing me (and already posting -- talk about prompt!) a recommendation letter for graduate school, I wanted to put together something special as a thank you. One of my favorite parts of the little bundle were these DIY candy cane marshmallows for hot chocolate consumption. Not only were they really fun to make, they turned out super cute and super delicious!

  little loves
"Once Upon a Time" -- can't wait for the next season to start! ♥ doing really well in my first unofficial graduate class ♥ snazzy scarves from Elayne ♥ baking christmas cookies ♥ Grandma ♥ getting called 'miss' ♥ dabbling in Photoshop actions...any good recommendations or tutorials? ♥ having free time again! (well, a little) ♥ Riesling ♥ playing cards - Phase 10 may be my new favorite! ♥ the yelling and antagonism associated with playing Phase 10 with friends xD ♥ scalloped edge scissors ♥ Neil Gaiman ♥ peppermint bark chocolates

What are you loving lately?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Japanese Puikura or "print club" machines are photobooths that allow you to take pictures and decorate them -- and they're usually big enough to get a group of friends in!

They're all over Japan, which my friend Heather and I took advantage of after school at the department arcade, but I've seen them in the U.S. too, mainly in California (and sadly, none really in Pittsburgh). Regular photobooths just aren't the same. They magically seem to even out your skin tone, and I've even seen ones where you can give yourself gigantic eyes xD My host sister had various purikura with her friends plastered all over her cellphone and notebooks (they're also stickers, which makes it even better!)

There's a few purikura-style simulators online that you can check out here and here. But nothing beats the real thing, evil scientist lab, dinosaurs, and all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

link love

♥ The 12 Dates of Christmas is such a cute idea!
♥ Scott of Quirky Travel Guy recounts 66 Things I Love About Pittsburgh
♥ Gala Darling talks traditions with her December Activity Guide -- such a cute idea!
♥ I love bookshelves. And these 20 sensational bookshelves demand to be loved, especially 4, 8, 12 and 17! But I'll take them all xD
♥ Shannon of shannon*bear shares a photography find by Tom Hussey called 'Reflections'. Such a great concept, and has really got me thinking!
♥ I can't wait until spring when I can give making a flower crown a shot! For now, I'll just have to oogle Pie N' the Sky's flower crown DIY

What awesome links have you found this week?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

♥ This week is the last week of class! Hooray! I always love when the current term ends and a new oen starts - I need a little change of pace.

♥ I'm not one for group projects. Not saying that I can't do them, on the contrary, I end up leading them more often than not, but I honestly just prefer working on my own. Finishing up our group presentation for my Ed. Psych. class has been interesting, but having a group member who is equally organized and on the ball about things is nice for a change; usually it doesn't happen that way xD

little loves
trips to Oakmont bakery ♥ Hachimitsu to Clover ♥ mini-road trips with Pa ♥ the best cheesesteak at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that Dad used to go to! ♥ flannel pjs ♥ chocolate covered raisins ♥ having one project done and out of the way! ♥

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas List

With Christmas coming up I couldn't resist posting some things I've been oogling lately :) If I had to put together my list for Santa, it'd be mostly this! - comfy, cozy, and knit!


And then there's this little gem of a messenger/laptop bag. But I don't have 525 euros laying around. I doubt I ever will. But if Santa has an extra and wants to just leave it here for me to take good care of, I'm down with that xD

What's on your wishlist this holiday season?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crunch time!!

Next Tuesday night cannot get here fast enough. I'm down to my last week of classes+finals and it's every college student's nightmare. The caffeine consumption has begun, and the procrastinating, well, that's been going on for a while now. 

It's actually pretty warm out for December, so I popped over for my favorite white chocolate peppermint mocha from Starbucks (though I did spy their cranberry Christmas tea on the shelves!), snuggled it into my cute little cup cozy and am currently crashing in Posvar for a writing sprint on my 25-page, "Reading in the Digital Age" paper before meeting with my Educational Psychology group -- gotta put some finishing touches on our presentation.

Hope your week is off to a good start! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sponsor: Lariats & Lavender

I've been reading Angie's blog since I first sat down to My Life as a Teacup and she's easily become a great friend of mine. Between tweets back and forth, GChats, lengthy emails and contributing to one another's blogs, she's a great gal with impeccable taste! I look forward to her posts that range from geeky to stylishly chic, to just a simple tale about her holidays.

Angie always has great stories to share, so I thought it'd be nice to hear her take on the holidays, blogging, and life in general! 

Hi, everyone! I'm Angie, a 22-year-old wife, fur and feather momma, gamer, geek and artist living in Utah with my gorgeous wife and soul mate Jen, our kitties Wedge and Mau and our cockatiel Jango! 

My home sweet home on the web is Lariats and Lavender. I hope you stop by and visit!

What inspired you to start blogging? Has your outlook on blogging changed since you've started?
I love making friends, I think friends can actually become family. I knew blogging would be a wonderful way for me to meet people around the world. Whether they are right here in my state, Utah, or across the country or even countries away! I've been very lucky and have met so many amazing, wonderful, supportive and creative people who HAVE become my friends! You're one of them! *wink*

I also wanted a place where I could show off my creativity, share what mine and Jen's marriage is like and talk about issues I think are worth discussing, plus so much more! Lariats and Lavender has truly become my little home on the web! My view on blogging really hasn't changed, well... It's changed for the better! I've met a few people who could be considered rude, or negative Nancy's in the blogging world, however I have met so many open-minded and fabulous people. I have a lot more faith in the world, knowing so many people with good hearts are out there! 

What's one thing or tip you wish you would have known when you first started Lariats & Lavender?
BE YOURSELF! Seriously! When I first started blogging in 2009, my blog would lean more towards everyone else's favorite subjects. I never posted anything geeky, because I didn't know any other geek girls at the time, I didn't post much about Wicca because I thought I would offend people, etc. And you know what? My early blog had maybe two followers, neither who became friends. 
When I actually started my REAL blog, Lariats and Lavender, on January 1st that is when I stayed true to myself, true to my own hobbies, etc. and started gaining followers and better yet, friends! 

Your pets Wedge, Jango, and Mau mean so much to you (plus, they're adorable!). And I know animals can do some pretty quirky things; what's the craziest story you have of your pets :) ?
The first year we had Wedge, Jen and I were downstairs in the kitchen one warm July night and my mother-in-law was in her den reading a book from the Twilight series. My mother-in-law is a truly brave woman and not much scares her, so we didn't know WHAT was going on when she started screaming bloody murder. We ran upstairs to her saying there was something big outside her window trying to get in! 

Our sweet little Wedge kitten had somehow ripped our bedroom window screen, gotten onto the room and I guess he couldn't figure out which window was ours and tried to get into the den! 

Our animals can be so crazy, but they're our babies and we love them! 

Your "Joy & Good Cheer" print is adorable, and I know it's your dream to be an artist! What got you interested and started in art? Do you have a favorite thing to draw?
I've been interested in art ever since I was a little girl. My mother and her father were both artists, and while my grandpa passed away before I was born, my mom was ALWAYS doing something artsy. She constantly provider me with all of the tools I needed to be creative, from pencils and sketchpads galore, to paints, to modeling clay. 

When I was little, I loved drawing made-up worlds, with little animals as the inhabitants! I loved doing fashion and make-overs as well and well, I still love all of the above. *wink* 

As for my favorite thing to draw, I excel at drawing women. I can't draw guys at all without making them look super feminine! I'm working on that, though. I love drawing cutesy art, such as my Joy & Good Cheer print. I'm a big kid, basically! I also love drawing fanart! 

The holidays are coming up and I know you talked a little bit about them on your blog. Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?
I love our Christmas tradition of giving little gifts until Christmas Eve and Day. Sometimes we can do this, sometimes we can't, all depending on how we're doing financially but it's such fun! I also love filling stockings with little goodies! On Christmas Eve we have cheese and chocolate fondue with a good movie playing (usually it's a Harry Potter movie!) Jen and I also have our own tree, with our own ornaments. It's so much fun setting everything up!

This year, I am hoping we will also celebrate Yule; as I said earlier we're Wiccan and yule is a very special Sabbat. I don't think a lot of people truly understand what Wicca is about, but it's very natural and very loving. It's a good feeling celebrating our Sabbats! 

My FAVORITE tradition though is our yearly ornament!!! We'll buy or make an ornament every year for our tree! 

How about a winter drink?
I love a good blush wine! We have some every Thanksgiving! I also love Archer Farms pumpkin coffee with some Pumpkin Spice creamer. Yum!

What's your fondest memory of a snow day?
When I first moved here so I could move in with Jen, we spent our first snowy Winter day together creating a jolly snowman! He was the first snowman I ever made and we had so much fun rolling him, putting him together and taking pictures. I also made a snow angel! Wheeee! 

Tell us about your favorite Christmas ornament or decoration!
My favorite ornament is one Jen sent me, the first ornament she sent me in fact! It's gorgeous... See? 

Finish this sentence: All I want for Christmas is ______.
My little family. They are all that truly matter! 

And because I must ask: favorite movie in the Star Wars series? :)
The Empire Strikes Back!!! I love the Original Trilogy. *grin* I also love The Star Wars Holiday Special... The only time you'll see Chewie's mother in an apron! It's SO horribly cheesy, but it's one movie I wish I owned!

Thank you so much for having me, Kristin! You're absolutely wonderful!

Thanks a bunch Angie! It's been fantastic getting to know you a little bit better!

Friday, December 2, 2011

December Is Here!

December's dream.

Christmastime is always like the first snow - living in Pennsylvania, snow is something that comes each year, without fail; it's no surprise, but every year I get excited to see it nonetheless.

I've got lots of gift wrapping to do, Christmas dinners with family to attend, and I always like to take a moment in December to look at what I've accomplished over the past year and what goals I'd like to strive for with the new year.

My December to-do's?

♥ See the Muppet movie!
♥ Reflect on my 101 in 1001 list
♥ Finish my final exams and papers for my last undergraduate fall term
♥ Take the JLPTs (eep!)
♥ Go ice skating and learn to skate backwards
♥ Annual Nutcracker ballet-date with April

What are you looking forward to this month?