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I suppose our reputation precedes us. AMURICA!

G'PapaPasisa&ME

Me, my pops, and my baby nephew Chris, circa a million years ago.

My nephew Chris, who is more a like little brother than a nephew because we are so close in age, teaches English at a school in Japan. He gave his students a worksheet to review the grammar they have recently learned by completing sentences about Christmas in America. Here are his favorite answers:

In America, on Christmas, we enjoy… killing reindeer with a machine gun.

Many children love Santa Claus because he gives… them a unicorn.

On Christmas morning, children always look very… bloody.

This is a stocking! It is a sock to… receive presents.

This year for Christmas, Ms. Haruo wants to… go to a Haunted house.

Chris will go to America for Christmas to… kill.

Now that I know the Japanese believe American Christmas is all about violence and bloodshed, I’m confident that my traditional decapitated and mutilated gingerbread people will be the PERFECT gift for my nephew’s Japanese fiance and her family. Super!

Sweet Sweet Lovin

Happy Monday, you guys.

You’re welcome.

There are three hours left in November so I can totally get away with this

Lots of people feel like Thanksgiving weekend is a good time to pull out the Christmas tree and start listening to carols on the radio. Not me. As long as I’m still eating turkey leftovers, it’s Thanksgiving season. I can’t get into the Christmas spirit until the first of December at least. With that in mind, and because so many of you requested it*, I present you with a story of Thanksgiving, as told by the Sylvanians.

*No one requested it.

pilgrim home

It is November, 1621. A friendly Native American family approaches the home of some wary Pilgrims.

Pilgrims are wary

The Pilgrims are incredibly wary. Those natives are awfully intimidating.

keep the children indoors

“Keep the children indoors! Away from those frightening savages.” Mama Thistlethorne whispers loudly. Nevermind it was those very people she called savages who gifted her with the nice rug for her floors, all the food laid out, and the lovely hand-carved totems that guard her door.

babe on back

What is it the Native Americans bring to the wary Pilgrims? Another blanket! And some pretty necklaces for the ladies. Those savages aren’t so savage after all! (They should be though, considering the gifts of infectious disease they’ve been getting from the Europeans for years.)

Meanwhile, in the nearby Native American village…

mantle village

Father Sweetwater teaches the chief about Jesus while a fisherman cooks them a nice roasted fish dinner.

preaching fireside

Father Sweetwater said, “Jesus is good.” And that is the story of the first Thanksgiving.*

*Not really.

Extended Holiday

his hands while he cooks

He made squash for Thanksgiving dinner. He had to work that night, but he made this wonderful squash dish as his contribution. His love in a side dish, so we wouldn’t forget. There was a moment at the table, one moment, when everyone was eating and someone tasted the squash and exclaimed over its flavor. Then someone else had to try and soon everyone was eating squash and exclaiming, so I got to brag on my beloved, which made me beam. I adore him.

“Where is he?” They all asked. “It’s so awful he has to work!” And then they pat my cheek while I insist that I don’t mind, I’m used to it. He’s worked every single holiday for every year I’ve known him, eleven years last July. I long ago gave up on the idea of spending holidays with him. I resented it for years until I figured out that holidays don’t have to be celebrated when everyone else celebrates and new traditions can be invented every year. Now I kind of love it. He works on holidays so we’re forced to draw them out, add an extra day of celebration to the week. An extra day to feel grateful, safe, loved. An extra day to sleep in and eat good food. It turns out to be pretty fabulous.

This year we shared a romantic Thanksgiving for two on Michael’s day off. We ate meatloaf leftovers and worked on a Christmas craft project inspired by the Dia de los Muertos display we saw earlier in the month. It turns out that clay people and cardboard houses are waaaaay harder to make than you’d think. Three hours of work yielded six naked, faceless people, one house with an unattached roof and only half a paint job, and a miniature wiener dog. If we actually want a whole village we’ll be working on this every year for the rest of our lives, but then again, isn’t that what it was all about? Creating a new family tradition.

He’ll work Christmas Eve and Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. We’ll wait until his next day off to celebrate together, the two of us, alone in our little home with the beasts and their endless shedded tufts of hair. We’ll cook if it sounds like fun or we’ll order in. We’ll nest. We’ll watch holiday movies or go adventuring, build tiny dream homes out of cardboard and hot glue or spend hours in bed. Whatever we do won’t matter as long as we’re together, uninterrupted, happy and in love.

This is my fourth week linking up with Just Write. You should totally link up too.

It’s not all skin and bones

This is the best. song. ever. I seriously cannot stop myself from dancing whenever I hear it. Total mood picker-up-er. Play the video, close your eyes and listen to this song. Now. Play it play it play it DO IT!

Wasn’t that awesome? Don’t you feel great now? Is that not the happiest song you’ve ever heard in your entire life? The perfect feeling to start a long weekend with, am I right?

RedEnvelope Give-a-way Winner!!

The Random.org random number generator has spoken!

Screen shot 2011-11-23 at 9.29.44 AM

Congratulations to Courtney B, who plans to give her mom a personalized gift for Christmas. Courtney, if you’re reading, I have emailed you the one-time use gift code. If you have any trouble with it, please let me know.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

Provide Commerce, the parent company to such brands as ProFlowers, Personal Creations, Red Envelope and Shari’s Berries, is offering ALL OF YOU an exclusive Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal at Personal Creations, right in time for Christmas. Here’s a link to a video that details the Buy 1 Get 1 (BOGO) deal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Hd7vZ_TSg Please note: This is a limited time offer.

Alright kids. Now that I’ve written the most commercial post posted in all my four years of blogging, I have to go take a shower. A hot, hot, hot shower. To wash away the shame.

Just kidding. We all know the holidays are all about commercialism. Am I right? I’m just getting into the holiday spirit!

RedEnvelope + Give-a-way!

*This give-a-way is CLOSED.  See who won here!

Today I want to talk about RedEnvelope. Not the red envelope you get in the mail when you forget to pay your electric bill too many times in a row. No, no, that is a bad red envelope. I want to talk about a good RedEnvelope. A RedEnvelope that represents fun, personalized gifts for friends and family. And why would I talk about this? Because, you guys. They sent me two products to review and offered to give one of my readers (that’s YOU) a one-time use $100 gift code to use on any of their fabulous products. Winning!

(Is anyone saying that anymore? Duh – winning! Are we over that? Moving on…)

our family room

Our family room, last month. Hence the Halloween centerpiece on the coffee table. Notice anything different? Hopefully you notice LOTS of things different, since the last time I posted a family room decor update it looked like this. Yikes. And remember when it looked like this? It’s come a very long way, and is finally FINALLY done. As in, there isn’t anything else I would add, I love it, it is exactly the cozy, weird, hobbled together reading nook I always dreamed it would be. (What does my family room have to do with your chance to win a $100 gift code? JUST WAIT.)

our family room 2

The first product RedEnvelope sent me was a personalized pillow that ties my whole sofa together. I didn’t get to choose the graphic, but I did get to choose the text (though the character and line restrictions were super strict) and I was really happy with how it came out. The pillow cover is made of a rough canvas material. Not necessarily cozy for snuggling up with, but I have a feeling it will last a long time. The screen printed graphic looks great. The font, though small, is pretty crisp considering how nubby the canvas is.

screenprint closeup

I wanted the pillow to read, “Snyder Family. Lots of love, lots of pet hair,” but the restrictions prevented me, as the graphic is designed to include family member names, not sentences. I managed to get away with what you see above and I dig it.

RedEnvelope asked that I rate the product out of five stars, one being “I hate this” and five being “this is the best product EVER.” I give this pillow three out of five stars. As much as I love the pillow, and I really do, it loses a star for its price and another for the quality of the pillow insert. While the pillow cover looks nice, the insert is awful. If you lay your head on it, it completely flattens out. It feels cheap. Like something you’d buy for five dollars at Pick n’ Save. Which is why I was a little horrified to find out that the retail on this pillow is $59.95.

Theo loves our personalized pillow

Theo doesn’t care, as long as he still gets his belly rubbed.

If I received this personalized pillow as a gift, I’d be delighted. It’s adorable, and as I said earlier, it really pulls my sofa together. But if I paid $59.95 for it, I would be really upset when it arrived in the mail and I realized how poor the quality of the insert is. Especially if I intended to give it as a gift.

Now, if I only paid twenty-five bucks for it, I’d be thrilled. At twenty-five bucks it would be a five-star product. But for sixty dollars I expect a softer pillow cover and a much, much fuller, thicker, more pillowy pillow insert. And yet, I love it’s look and I would absolutely buy it if I had a gift code to spend.

air plant

This air plant and glass globe also came from RedEnvelope. It’s a nifty item that would look great in a garden or, as shown above, in a window. We’d like to hang it but it didn’t come with anything to hang it from and we’re not sure what to use. String won’t be sturdy enough. Twine would look tacky. A chain would be too harsh for the delicate glass. Maybe fishing line? This is another item that would make a cool gift, but again, I balked at the $29.95 price tag. An air plant is five bucks at the Garden Center, you can get pebbles for free at the beach or nearest stream bed, and the glass globe comes from CB2 (they didn’t take the CB2 sticker off the bottom before they sent it to me) where you can order it for $3.95. Now, if it also came with something pretty to hang the globe by, and something else to put in the globe for some added pizzazz (a miniature skull or a frolicking ceramic animal, anyone?) I might not have suffered the same sticker shock. But it doesn’t, so this also gets three out of five stars for being overpriced.

Overall, I’m enjoying these items and I’m especially jazzed to offer one lucky reader a $100 gift code. The holidays are coming and this is a great chance to pick up Christmas gifts for your wife, Chanukah gifts for your husband, a present for your sister, your father, the cute kid you babysit, whomever. They have something for everyone – personalized ornaments, gorgeous jewelry, fun novelty gifts. I adore this personalized pie plate, and they even sell a personalizable beer holster. You can’t tell me there isn’t a man in your life who wouldn’t love his own beer holster.

To win, check out the website at RedEnvelope.com, then come back here and leave a comment telling me who you’d like to surprise this holiday season with a personalized gift. For additional entries, tweet a link to this post, link to this post on Facebook, “Like” RedEnvelope on Facebook, whatever you want. Just be sure you come back here to leave a comment and tell me what you did. Each comment serves as one entry and you can enter as many times as you want. Contest ends Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. PST. The winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday, November 23. The day before Thanksgiving! So you’ll have something to be thankful for. (Just kidding. You already have lots to be thankful for, I know that.)

Ok, kids. Comment away!

P.S. I was not compensated for this post, though I did receive the two items pictured above at no cost. My thoughts and opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Canoga Park

This video has been making me laugh for days now. Every time I think about it, I start laughing. I was falling asleep the other night, and this video popped into my head and I started laughing so loud I woke Mike up. What is it, you ask? It’s a tourism video for my little corner of the San Fernando Valley. This whole thing was filmed within blocks of my apartment. At one point, I think you can even see my building. Canoga Park – Come visit! (But get your tetanus shot first.)

Dear Jackhole

Dear Jackhole in the douchey Ed Hardy t-shirt,

I realize that we’re all guilty of judging people at first glance. I mean, I just decided you were a doucheturd based on the brand of your t-shirt. Except that’s not really why. The real reason is because you chose to make a snarky comment to your homely girlfriend about me and the little dog in my arms when you could see that I was clearly within earshot.

A few things about that:

1) The dog is not mine. I’m merely dogsitting.

2) The dog is wearing a sweater because without it he shivers in the cold. Which it was, when we left the house that morning. It was very, very cold. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to watch little dogs shiver in the cold. I’d much rather see them wearing a sweater.

3) I’m not carrying the dog because it’s some kind of pathetic baby stand-in, as you implied, although that was the reason I once carried my dachshund in a sling. But I only did that once, and only in the privacy of my own home, so suck it. I’m carrying the dog out of fear that he’ll lift his leg on one of the artisan booths, not only disrespecting said artisans, but spoiling their lovingly hand-crafted creations. I’m trying to be nice, dickwad, unlike you. You with your loud, rude, judgy comments about a perfectly nice girl carrying a perfectly nice dog who happens to be wearing a sweater out of necessity.

But whatever. I mean, if it makes you feel good about yourself to say snarky things about a perfect stranger WHILE THEY ARE STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU, go right ahead. You obviously need the self-esteem boost more than I do.

Yours truly,
The girl carrying the little dog wearing a sweater.

P.S. I hope your penis shrivels up and falls off in your sleep.

Not So Friendly

waiting for their walk

Waiting patiently for walkies

It’s dark out. Not late, but dark. Some of the street lamps are out and I feel uneasy as I head down the block, but the dogs need to do their business and they are happy as they sniff about. I shuffle after them in second-hand sweatpants, wool hiking socks, crocs, and one of my husband’s dog hair infused fleeces. I haven’t brushed or even washed my hair in days. I push my glasses back up my nose and stare out at empty space while the dogs snuffle something in the grass. There is a man walking down the sidewalk from the other direction. He is carrying a paper plate of food. It looks like rice and something else. I think, maybe the dogs will poop here and then we can go home, up the stairs, curl up on the sofa with a bowl of salted caramel ice cream, a plate of cheese and crackers, and the latest episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. I just want to bury my head in the sand.

There are quick movements at the end of the leashes and I realize the dogs are eating something. The man with the plate of food stops in front of us and says something about the dogs eating and as I try to reel them in, away from whatever offal it is they are stuffing down their doggy throats I say, “Yeah, I know. It’s disgusting. I just hope it’s not poop.” I gain control of them, manage to pull them away from their prize. The man laughs and says, “No, no. I asked if they are allowed to eat people food.” He holds out his plate of rice and what looks like chicken.

He is nice looking. Broad shouldered, blond, mid-thirties. He smiles but the smile is not sincere. It is the smile of a single man who sees a girl walking alone and thinks she might be easy. There is a lilt in his voice I do not like. It is patronizing and it makes my hackles go up. I am not alone. Valentine lunges at the man’s legs, barking, growling, teeth bared. He takes a step away and I let her leash go long.

“Nope. They don’t eat people food. In fact, they aren’t very friendly.” I practically have to yell over the cacophony of barking, because now the wiener dog is barking too, the force of his voice lifting his feet off the pavement in little wiener dog hops.

The man smiles. “What about you?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Are you friendly?”

I pause for a moment. Really? I’m dressed like a homeless lady and my dogs are trying to kill you. How desperate does a guy have to be? “Not so much.”

Two days later I’m walking the dogs again, this time on the other side of the street. Someone calls out to me. “Hey neighbor! How are you!” I look up at the man addressing me. My mind is blank. He smiles and points to himself. “I’m Roger. We met the other night. I wanted to feed your dogs.”

It all comes back to me. “Oh. Right.”

“What are you up to? Want to hang out?”

“Not even a little.”

“Alright. I get the hint.” He looks angry when he walks away. What else was I supposed to say?

This is my first post for Just Write, an exercise in writing begun by Heather of the EOWant to join?