Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday spirit here I come



So, remember a couple of days ago when I complained a whole bunch and gave you a whole sappy story about Christmas and how I'm bummed to be lacking holiday spirit? Well, things only got worse after I published that grumbling post. I hit rock bottom and had a bit of a cry fest complaining to Ian that he needs to just suck it up and celebrate with me. (I bet you're expecting me to say that worked, but I can assure you it only made him hate Christmas more. 'Oh! The pressure.')

Despite his refusal to participate, he did say one thing during my mopey, 'why won't you just take off your Scrooge outfit and change it in for a Santa beard' chat, that I found helpful: "It's not my responsibility to give you holiday cheer. That's up to you." Ugh, truth. Truth shoved right in my wee-little face like a terribly icy face wash. Of course, he's right. Although I know it would help if he was in the spirit, too, I also know that it's not his job to provide me with the holly jollies. No, I have to do that for myself. SO! I'm going to. Screw this moping around feeling sorry for myself BS. I'm going to kick the sads out of my stockings right this instant. And, so, here for all of you is how I plan to do it...

(The cards I made last year.)


The first step to wriggling out of my Christmas blues is something that I've already done. I signed up for Jessa and Judd's Christmas card swap. So, I, along with nine other bloggers, will be creating nine specially crafted cards for the other participants in the swap. This means, nine beautiful handmade cards will arrive in each of our mailboxes before the big day. How fun, right? To be honest, I'm really excited about this little project. I think it's a great first step to getting my Christmas pants on.

The second step to regaining holiday spirit is easy peasy. I'm going to buy some pine scented candles. This was a suggestion from Sondra after I wrote my depressing, rambling mess of Christmas confusion the other day, and I know she's right. I love the smell of a fresh tree in my house at Christmas time. There's no way you can breathe that in and not feel a least a wee bit festive.

The third step is to participate in as many Christmas activities as possible. I've already volunteered to tend bar at the town Christmas party at the end of December. I'm attending a work Christmas party in a couple of weeks, and I might also attend the Chamber of Commerce party (which is uber fancy, so that could be really fun!). And, I'm also participating in a Christmas craft fair on Dec. 7. For now, that's all that's on the list, but I hope to flesh it out as Dec. 25 draws closer, so that Christmas will be up in my grill as often as possible.

Finally, the fourth step is two-fold: a) stop feeling sorry for myself and b) take bloody control of my life. I am the only one to blame if this Christmas sucks, so it's my responsibility to make sure it doesn't. So, I'm going to decorate as much as I want, even if it means doing it all alone. I'm going to play Christmas music and I'm going to make gifts for the people who matter to me. I'm going to bake and be merry and that's that. There's just no holding me back now!

What do you think? Is my plan aggressive enough? Am I missing any steps?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What to Wear: snow day


Photobucket What up, ladies!? It's What to Wear time and we're dressing for a chilly snow day. We've had snow around these parts for a few weeks already, so I'm well-versed in what to wear for such an occasion. Usually, my outfit revolves around a colourful scarf and toque combo, like you see here.

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Hiding beneath my peacoat (which I adore because it reminds me of Paddington Bear!) are a number of layers to ensure all-day warmth and comfort. I'm wearing a tank top, a T-shirt and my favourite big cozy sweater. For pants, I always wear skinny jeans in the winter to limit any up-leg breeze action. On the shoe front, my little booties are the most impractical part of my outfit. If I intend to stand out in the cold for any length of time, they are not the shoes I would chose. I would just be asking for some wicked frostbite, or at least frost nip. (I'm definitely in need of some new tall, warm boots to keep me from shivering the winter away!)

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From top to bottom:
Toque: Ardene
Scarf: Thrifted
Coat: Army and Navy
Pin: Handmade
Jeans: American Eagle
Shoes: Delia's

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For the most part, I quite like dressing for winter. It's like a game to see how many layers you can fit under your coat. Plus, I adore scarves, which are a compete necessity when you live in the cold white North, and I also love toques. So, basically winter is a pretty great season in my books (despite my former hate for it!). The only thing I'd change is the lack of sunlight. I mean, if there was still light at 5 p.m., I could have taken these photos outside where there is actual snow, rather than up against our freshly painted kitchen wall. Bummer, right!? (Not the new paint. The lack of light!)

Well friends, that's all from me today. Don't forget to check out what the other What to Wearers put together for today's post. You can find them all at their respective blogs:


Katherine: thinkin' outloud
Lisa: lala faux bois

And be sure to check back with all of us on Dec. 13 when we dress for a road trip, just in time for everyone to make the trek home to see their families for the holidays.


What's your go-to item when you're dressing for a snowy day? Do you have a favourite scarf or pair of gloves or toque that you hate to leave the house without?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas confusion

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When I was younger, say from age 18 to 22, Christmas was a bit of a production for me. I loved creating gifts and wrapping them as brown paper packages tied up with string. I'd make my own gift tags and ornaments to dangle from each individual box. I would make decorations and cover my house in holiday joy. I was ALL about it. But, when I was 23, that enthusiasm waned. That year, I moved to Ontario to complete my masters degree, and for Christmas, I flew home to Vancouver Island to spend the holiday with my parents – just the three of us. My sister and brother chose to stay in their new homes to spend the holidays with their partners. So, Christmas, just wasn't Christmas.

Wait. Let me go back a little further so this all of this makes a little more sense. The year I moved out and began my undergraduate degree, my parents bought a winter home in Arizona. So, they didn't come home for Christmas, nor did they for the next four Christmases. So, for those years, from the age of 18 to 22, I found my own way to celebrate, either with my partner's family or with friends. Basically, I learned to make my own Christmas, without the comfort of my childhood home, my childhood decorations and my family. And, to be honest, that was all good and well. I quite enjoyed it, in fact, because every Christmas was a little different.

Then, when I went home again all those years later and it was just my parents and I, and there was no tree up or decorations out (because my mom was suffering from horrible arthritis pain), the magic of Christmas died a little bit for me. I don't blame my parents for this. I'm sure I could have done more to bring out the Christmas cheer in them, but I didn't at the time. So, the following year, when Christmas came around and I was living in Yellowknife, I again made very little of it. (This is in part because Ian doesn't celebrate – he doesn't believe in Jesus and he's not into being forced to see his family, since he enjoys spending time with them already. Oh! And he's also not into consumerism and being forced to spend money on people...) So, that Christmas, Ian and two of my pals came over in the morning for a big breakfast and then we spent the day watching terrible movies. That night, we went to Ian's parents' house and had a lovely dinner with all of Ian's "orphaned" friends. I think that was definitely the best part of the whole day, since it actually felt a bit like Christmas.

That leads us to last year. My sister invited my entire family to spend Christmas at her house last year, but for one reason or another, I ended up being the only one to make the journey. So, I spent the holiday with her and her in laws. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely. But, again, it just wasn't Christmas. It wasn't quite right. I don't know how to explain it fully or even make sense of what I'm trying to say, really.

All I know is, between Ian being anti-Christmas and all of the wonkiness of previous years, I'm not as excited about Christmas as I used to be back in my late teens and early twenties. I don't want to be dramatic, but it bum me out that I'm not totally jazzed that the holidays are just around the corner. I wish I could go back to a place where I was excited to craft and create for the people I love. I wish I was chomping at the bit to wrap gifts and make tags and do Christmas baking. Sometimes I feel an urge, but then I wonder, well, who am I doing it for? Why decorate the house when I'm the only one who will enjoy it? Why do Christmas baking when I'm the only one who's going to eat it?

This Christmas, we're staying in Jasper and having a bit of a friend Christmas. (Ian wants nothing to do with it, aside from being there to cut down the tree and eat the turkey ... which he will likely cook.) Ian's best pal Maarty is a Christmas enthusiast, so he's demanding that Ian participate, but I'm not convinced that's going to work out. Anyway, along with Maarty, my friends Nicole and Amy will also be joining us. So far, the plan is to cut down a tree the weekend before, make turkey, drink mulled wine and just enjoy each other's company. I'm really hoping this cozy-style Christmas might spark the holiday spirit in me once again. I mean, if we have a tree, there will have to be decorations. And, if we're hosting, we'll have to have treats. So, I guess, in a way, having a few people at my house is my way of forcing myself back into the spirit. I'll let you know how it goes.

And, so concludes the rambling story that is my relationship with the holidays. If you have some surefire ways to perk me up, like slapping me across the face with some cedar boughs, please do give it a go! It couldn't hurt to try... or could it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: kitchen makeover

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Kitchens are where it's at. No matter who's house I'm in, it seems my pals and I always end up in the kitchen for a good portion of the evening. We stand around or sprawl out on the counters and just chat the day or night away. There's just something cozy about a kitchen. When I lived in Yellowknife, my roommate and I would spend hours on end sitting on the kitchen counter talking, drinking, making dinner, eating dinner and just being together. We would solve each others problems and share hundreds of laughs from those perches, with our backs up against the cupboards and our legs dangling over the edge. I look back on those talks so fondly. In fact, I'd even go as far as saying, I miss them dearly.

All of this is to say, I love kitchens, whether they're being used for cooking or socializing, I just downright love them.

So, when my landlord told me a couple weeks back that he wanted to give mine a makeover, of course, I celebrated with enthusiastic happy dances. And then, when the work began last week, the happy dances continued. And, now that the work is just about complete (just grouting to go!), I'm basically a convulsing mess of happiness. So, without futher ado, here for you are some before and after shots of our wee-little apartment kitchen. Let's begin with a fun one, shall we?


This was one of our apartment photos when we first moved in. (You can find the rest of the series here, here and here.)

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So, this is what our kitchen used to look like. It was dark and old and it looked like something straight out of the 70s. But now, that has all changed!

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So, this is what my new kitchen looks like without the tiles that were just installed yesterday. I'll post photos when the whole thing is complete. But, I was just too excited to share the transformation, so I decided not to wait until the grouting is complete to post about this lovely little makeover.

Ian and I have the best landlord in the world. Until now, I have never had one that legitimately cared about his tenants the way that ours does. When we moved in one year ago, he asked the old tenant what her one complaint was about the suite and she said the cabinets. On that day, Don promised us we would get new ones, although he wasn't sure when. Well, a year later, here we are with a brand new kitchen. I'd say that's a pretty decent turn around considering he's in charge of dozens, if not hundreds, of suites around town. (We've also got new carpets since we moved in!)

So this week I'm thankful for my awesome landlord, my new kitchen and, on a totally unrelated note, beards.

What are you thankful for? Do you have an amazing landlord?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Silly snowshoes

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My pals Maarty and Mishelle and I went for a snowshoeing adventure on Saturday, only to find out we had picked a terrible location with very little snow. So, we trudged around in our snowshoes, scarping against every rock that was poking out from beneath the snow. It was a bit of bummer, but we still had a great time. Plus, now we're all committed to going again, so we can actually experience snowshoeing... you know, with some actual snow.

On Sunday, we all went skiing at Marmot Basin. Although we managed to do a ton of runs, the day was sort of tainted by a calamity of errors. The first: I had rented boots (as I'm waiting for my new ones to arrive in the mail) and they were so tight that within 10 minutes of being on, I had lost feeling in my toes. And, when I took them off, I literally had pins and needles. Yikes! So, anyway, I rented new ones and all was well.

Then, later in the day, Mishelle injured her ankle, taking her out of commission. So, Maarty and I skied to the parking lot to get the car and when I was attempting to do a wide turn, to get myself turned around, Waldo ended up in the ditch. Yup. That happened. So, Maarty (who's a ski patroller by day) grabbed his avalanche shovel and started digging my wheels out. After his many efforts, it didn't work. So, a guy who Maarty works with used a HUGE forklift type thing to drag my car out. How embarrassing.

From there, we went to pick Mishelle up at the chalet, Maarty carried her to the car and we took her to the hospital. She didn't break anything, but she sure did bungle herself up good.

It was a weekend of adventures, that's for sure.

How was your weekend? Any trips to the hospital or run-ins with a ditch?

Friday, November 23, 2012

My new home office

Photobucket So this is where I do most of my working these days. On any given weekday when I don't have a reason to leave the house, this is what I'll look like. I'm in a big cozy sweater, yoga pants or PJs, my hair is unwashed and undone and I'm generally sitting cross-legged. The couch and our big leather ottoman have become my workspaces. Some days, there are so many papers strewn about that you can't even see the couch cushions.

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While I was in Edmonton a few weeks back, Ian moved a desk into the living room, so that I could have a proper workstation, but, for some reason, I always find myself drawn to the couch. I think part of it is that it's super cushy and cozy and the other part is it gives me a ton of room to spread out. The other thing is my desk is missing a proper chair. I'm currently using one that makes me sit too low for the desk. As a shorty, I find this to be a challenge with all chairs that don't have an adjustable height lever thingy.

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So, anyway, what I do on this couch is call people for interviews, do research and write. Yesterday, my second edition of Snow Zone came out. If you're interested in reading about the snowball battle national championships or people wearing helmets on the ski hill, check it out. This week I'm working on what could be a pretty epic piece on Movember. I'll keep you posted if it pans out, you might just want to see it!

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Remember how I was super nervous about working from home? Well, although I've had a few bad days of mad procrastination, I've actually done fairly well. I'm finishing my work on time and I've had my freelancers work edited and ready to go well before it needs to be. So, it turns out, I am capable of this whole working from home in my PJs thing. Yay!

UPDATE: AND, not only am I capable, I am totally taking advantage of the fact that I have an "office" to myself. How, you ask? Well, this morning, I've been celebrating good news with solo dance parties to bad '90s beats. Yup. I'm awesome! And, so is working from home.

Do you ever work from home? What's your workspace situation? Do you need a desk or can you sprawl out on the couch?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

LOTM: mountain haven

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The other day, we got a few inches of fresh, gorgeous, powdery snow that made the roads in and around town treacherous to drive. And, when I say treacherous, I mean treacherous. Because of the super sketchy streets (and my fear of winter driving), my friend Nicole – who is from New Zealand and had never seen powdery snow until that day – and I decided to go on a walking adventure on a trail near town. That's right, the gorgeous landscape you see above is literally a 10-minute walk from downtown Jasper. Amazing, right? You really don't have to go far to see beauty in this town. You just have to open your eyes wherever you are at that moment and you'll see something gorgeous.

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For Ladies of the Mountains today, our mission was to chat about a mountain haven we'd visited recently. With all the snow on the ground, it's been difficult to get very far, other than to the often trudged trails, so that's what I've had to stick to. The area pictured above is called Old Fort Point. When there's no snow, you can hike up to the top of a huge hill and get an amazing view of the surrounding mountains. But, in the winter months, you're basically stuck in the low lying areas. So, Nicole and I walked from the bottom of Old Fort Point to Lac Beauvert.

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Don't worry, I'm no idiot, I stayed off the thin ice. But, man, I gotta say, my urge to go skating is only getting stronger as the winter goes on. Luckily, the temperatures are dropping, so the ice will grow thicker in no time (I hope!). For Nicole, it was her first time experiencing -18 C. It was the coldest she has ever been. It was fun for me, a Canadian and someone who has lived in -40 C temperatures, to see her freak out about how cold her thighs and bum were (those are always the first to feel the wind!).

This was her "my body's so cold it hurts face":

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Ha! This still makes me laugh. She's just so cute and winter is just so foreign to her. I have to say, I really love meeting the people who come to Jasper to experience Canada. It's just so exciting to go on adventures with them and to see places through their eyes. As a girl who grew up around mountains and snow and big trees, sometimes I take those things for granted, but when I'm with someone who grew up in a city or a completely different country, I'm always reminded just what I have and how special it is.

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Although our little adventure wasn't a big production, it was a lovely way to enjoy the snow and the crisp, cool air. Nicole mentioned while we were walking that Jasper's winter air had to be the cleanest she had ever breathed. What a lovely thought.

Well, it's lovely until you breath and fog up your glasses, anyway...

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Well folks, that was my latest mountainy adventure. Be sure to check out what the other LOTM have been climbing and hiking lately:
Gentri of Gentri Lee
Lena of Musings
Michelle of On The Adventure
Meagan of The Egg Out West
Kelley of A Crooked Trail
And, this month's guest blogger, Amanda from Little Lady Little City

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New job.

I've mentioned it a few times, but I still haven't really told all of you what my new job is. I don't know why I've waited until three months after I found out about it and three weeks after I started to share it here. I guess I was just a wee bit nervous that I wouldn't live up to the challenge. But, it seems, with two issues in the bag, I'm proving capable of this new gig. So, I guess it's time I share with you what I'll be up to ALL winter long.

But first, let me give you some background. About five or six months ago, my newspaper, which was formerly locally owned and operated, was bought out by a larger company. When that happened, it was a bit of a scary time. My co-workers, of which there are only four, and I weren't sure if we were going to have jobs or if our jobs were going to change. Things did change and are continuing to change, and I am still working part-time for the paper, but it's no longer my full-time job. When the paper was sold, the new owner mentioned that one of his other papers in Edmonton was in need of someone to head up a section called Snow Zone. That was about all he had to say before I put myself out there and said, 'Yes please. Pick me!' I honestly had no idea what the job entailed, but I knew it was the right choice. I just knew that the opportunity was presenting itself because I was meant to take it.


So, a couple of weeks ago, I became the editor of Vue Weekly's Snow Zone. (For all of you outside of the Edmonton area, Vue is an alt-weekly that's full of really rad entertainment and arts content, along with a small bit of news.) Snow Zone, as you might guess, is a section that focuses on all things winter. In the past it has greatly focused on skiing and boarding, but this year my goal is to branch out. I want it to be a more inclusive. So, I want to write about snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice fishing, winter camping, organized snowball fights and then, of course, skiing and boarding. 

Being the editor of the section basically means I come up with the story ideas; I decide what's being printed and when; I write; I assign stories to freelancers; I edit; I upload stories to the web; and I give the final OKs on the print copies. Oh! And I also take photos. It's definitely a lot more responsibility than I'm used to, but I'm actually really excited about the new challenge. I really needed this change. So, I'm glad that I jumped at the job, even if I did it before I knew what it was, because it's an incredible opportunity. (Did I mention that I'm now writing for about 20,000 more people than I was a month ago, and I get to do it from a town of 5,000 in the middle of a national park!? Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute. Those opportunities don't land in your lap everyday, so boy am I ever grateful that this one landed in mine.)

So, there. I spilled the beans. Now, I just hope I can live up and prove that I'm worthy of the editor's title and position. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays: alone time

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Over the weekend, I took some time for myself. I went for a wintery walk; I went to a craft fair and wandered around, taking the time to talk to everyone I know and some who I don't; and I spent some time crafting and watching whatever tickled my fancy (mostly Kitchen Nightmares. You-all know how I feel about Gordon Ramsay, right!?).

Sometimes it just feels so good to take a couple of hours to do something I enjoy. Something that I don't have to share with anyone. Something that is just for me. I find it can be so easy to let your schedule get bogged down with people and things to do that you don't ever find time to just be. To just sit back and be lazy. Or to just be with your own thoughts out in nature. As I grow older, I realize more and more the importance of this time to myself. Time to be creative. Time to just think. Time to choose the music without wondering if someone else will like it. There really is something to be said about alone time. Even if that alone time is spent in a room full of people selling or shopping. I actually really enjoyed the freedom of perusing people's wares without feeling I was holding someone up or rushing them. I guess it's the ability to move at my own pace that I'm really learning to value.

So, this week, I'm thankful for productive, creative, soothing alone time.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 19, 2012

When left to my own devices

When I'm stuck taking my own outfit photos, funny things happen. I stand in front of my camera and just can't fight the urge to make ridiculous faces. You know, like when you're a kid in front of a mirror, or when you're looking out the car window during a long and boring road trip. Yeah, those kinds of faces. The kind that most bloggers likely wouldn't put on their blogs. But, if you ask me, they are just too goofy and silly not to share. So, along with a few "real" outfit photos, I have included some fun ones for your viewing pleasure. I hope they brighten up your Monday.

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Not only are these photos too goofy and fun not to share, they also showcase the beauty of my favourite scarf. I found this little guy at Value Village a couple of years ago and have worn it to death ever since. I seriously adore the colours and the gold and every little thing about it. It really is the perfect scarf.

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From top to bottom:
Toque: Ardene
Scarf: Thrifted
Sweater: Walmart
Shirt: Ardene
Jeans: Forever 21

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Do you ever get the urge to make silly faces when there's a camera pointed in your direction?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An icy adventure

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On Friday, I found out people were already skating on the frozen lakes here in Jasper and I lost my mind with excitement. I seriously can't wait to lace up and get out there. But, things have been freezing and melting, melting and freezing, so on and so forth all week, so I'm a little scared to get out on the ice. So, instead on Saturday, I just went for a solo photo adventure to check things out. The above are a select few of my favourite shots. Pictured are Annette and Edith lakes.

Do you get to skate on outdoor ponds and lakes where you live?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Packages. Packages. I love packages.

Photobucket I know. I know. Halloween was weeks ago already. BUT. I signed up for a Halloween Package Swap awhile back and mine just arrived in the mail yesterday, so despite being behind the times, I'm going to show off my new wares. My swippity swappity buddy was Kailyn from Wandering Free. You can see what I sent her here. And, to see what she sent me, just keep on scrolling.

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I got candy galore, Beetlejuice (I am so freaking excited to watch this again. It's been YEARS!), Corpse Bride (Hello, Johnny Depp's voice. *Swoon*), adorable Halloween socks that I won't be too ashamed to wear all year-round, and a cute card. Not a bad haul, eh!?

I know I've said it about 100 million bazillion times before, but MAN, DO I EVER LOVE SNAIL MAIL! I was so pumped at the post office that I ripped into the packaging within seconds of the parcel reaching my fingertips. And, to top it all off, this was only one of two parcels that arrived yesterday. That's right, folks, I'm a popular lady with a hardworking mailbox.

Photobucket The above parcel was courtesy of my pal Lisa from NotLadylike. When I opened it up, I was super excited to see that she made most of the gift herself. The card, a notebook and A PUMPKIN STAMP! I love homemade touches. I just love the idea of someone taking the time to sit down and create something for me, or someone else. It's just so thoughtful.

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Also thoughtful, the fact that Lisa knows I'm a diehard chai lover, so she included a chai chocolate bar. Have you ever heard of this? I sure hadn't. I haven't yet eaten it, but boy, am I ever excited to. I think I'm going to have to pop in Beetlejuice and just have a gorge-fest on all of my goodies. Chai chocolate, Mike and Ikes, Sour Patch Kids, Nerds, Spree... life is good in the Gypsy house.

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So, anyway, I have to send out a huge thank you to Kailyn and Lisa for taking the time to put together such amazing packages for me. You two ladies sure do know how to turn a day from 'Meh' to 'GRRRRRRREAT' (Tony the Tiger style!).

Has anyone else had anything fun show up in their mailbox lately?