About          |          Fueled by Cocktails          |          Whole30          |          Website         |          Contact


Friday, December 31, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday: New Year's

Go play along at Lauren's blog



1.   New Year's is (awesome/lame/other) fun, but not one of my favorite holidays... it's my dad's birthday, so we always had an awesome big party while I was growing up. I haven't done much for it the past few years, though... I'm usually still resting from Christmas!

2.  Last New Year's Eve I spent some time with C's family, then had pancakes at midnight with my family. It was low-key but fun.

3.  My New Year's resolution is keeping on doing what I'm doing... I've been making a lot of changes in my life lately, and I plan on continuing down that path. I also created a 2011 to-do list, that I'm going to mark off and blog about as I do everything on the list.

4.  The best way to spend New Year's Eve is doing something that's worth remembering. The symbolic change into a new year is significant. Even if it's low-key, you need to do something.
This was my favorite new years-- I went on a road trip to a friend's wedding,
and me and some friends made a 2 weeks trip out of it... including being at
the Grand Canyon on NYE. We spent the night in our car on the side of the
road (it was 10 degrees outside). It was freezing... but the last sun I saw in 2009
was over the Grand Canyon... which was awesome.

5.  My prediction for an up-and-coming trend in 2011 is moving away from jeans/denim and into different fabrics... I think we all wear too much denim (I live in it, and wear it almost every day)... but I see a change coming soon.

6.  This New Year's Eve I will be with C. We don't have much plans (I told you about the ones I did have yesterday)... we may go to a bar, we may stay home... either say it'll be nice to have a whole, special night with him (and then a feast tomorrow!)

7.  A fresh start is scary but necessary. I don't think only starting "new" on January 1 is healthy... I think keeping an open/changing mind year-round is better. It's just fun to celebrate life on New Years.

Buzz: Google Doodle - New Years Eve

Google is sending out a Happy New Year's Eve to everyone with their latest Google Doodle.
There's really not much else to say about it... it just makes me smile :-)

Happy New Year 2011!

(Be safe ♥ )

Countdown to 2011: Top 1

My Favorite Blog to follow:

Written by Joanna Goddard.

I love this blog because Joanna writes to you, not at you... she has a very casual air that is contagious. She's a wife -- so you get some romance. She's a mom -- so you get some "new mommy"advice and get to see lots of awesome baby pictures. She's a professional magazine writer that lives in NYC -- so you get some Carrie Bradshaw-esque moments thrown in. Her fashion sense is awesome, she puts out incredible holiday gift guides, and while she's not crafty herself, she does like to talk about awesome ETSY shops and promote those who are crafty.

I can't remember for the life of my how I came across this blog, but I'm so glad I did. It gave me an example of what I'd like this blog to be. It's a great read. And there's multiple give-always a week... so there's always a chance to win awesome stuff ♥

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Countdown to 2011: Top 2

My 2 Favorite Blog Posts

Although I posted my first blog post in October 2009, I actively began blogging in September 2010, when I posted a happy birthday message to my nephew Danzig. I've posted over 200 blogs since that post... and while every post isn't as awesome as some, I'm still very happy with myself. I've fallen in love with blogging, and I wanted to share my 2 favorite blog posts of the year...

2) #Reverb10 - Party

This post was in response to the Reverb 10 prompts I've been following all December. This one spoke the most to me. I love parties. So asking me what my favorite party of all year was is actually a big question for me. I got to express my love for family while talking about my favorite party... it was the perfect combination.

1) Blue Baker's Baker

I love community and I love business. Focusing more on local businesses is one of my goals for next year-- I think there are some amazing people in the community of Bryan-College Station, TX and they should be featured. This post was one of my first attempts at highlighting people behind local businesses. Blue Baker holds a spot in my heart, because I worked there for a little over a year, I love their food, but I especially love the employees. So, I gave tribute to one of the best employees Abby in this post. It's definitely my favorite thing I wrote all year.


(To see my entire 5-4-3-2-1 countdown to 2011, go here.)

Coming this weekend....

Because C is working, and we're heading to the Cotton Bowl next weekend... we're having a low-key New Years celebration. What that means: no plans. We're gonna just go with the flow, and feel out the day.

I am cooking a "traditional" New Years Day meal on Saturday, though. Black eyed peas, cabbage... 2 of my favorite veggies! My family usually ate ham on New Years Day, but I'm not quite ready to cook a ham, so instead I'm trying out my first roast. (We've been eating vegetarian all week because of an awesome cookbook C bought me... so I figured he deserved red meat for a day)



I hope you all have a Happy New Years! And, if you haven't been keeping up with my Countdown to 2011, you should be...

1 - Coming soon ♥

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's my favorite: Christmas Gift

{via}
I am very blessed to have a generous family, especially during the holidays. I received many wonderful gifts, including cash & gift cards, fuzzy socks, a roasting pan, Glee on Blu-ray... the list goes on and on. But, my favorite gift came from my mom. She gave me 4 gifts, one leading up to the other. It was quite clever. ♥

Gift #1: A magical wand
Gift #2: Wizard of Oz on DVD
Gift #3: Wicked the Musical on CD
Gift #4: Tickets to Wicked at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio

{via}
I'm really excited about seeing Wicked. I was in NYC when the show opened, but didn't get a chance to see it that summer. So, I'm really excited to get to have a weekend away with C and a chance to catch up on some "culture." And the Majestic Theatre is gorgeous!

I love this theatre... it's so gorgeous!
{via}
So, thank you mom! I can't wait to use your awesome gift ♥

5 o'clock happy hour: December 29, 2010

Today's top stories bookmarked for all eternity:

  • Poor, poor Christine O'Donnell... apparently there's a "phony" report of her finances released after a federal investigation... the girl can't get a break.
  • And speaking of people that can't get a break... Sarah Palin is coming under fire for criticizing Michelle Obama's childhood obesity actions.
  • Michael Vick is also coming down under fire... some think he should have been executed for killing dogs.
I spoke about the multiple celebrity engagements yesterday... but today a more in-depth look at Reese Witherspoon's ring was released. 
Look at this beautiful thing!
{via}
  • A recent poll has revealed.... the final Harry Potter installment is the most anticipated movie of 2011. (Even though it doesn't come out until July!)
  • The previously injured Spider-Man Broadway actor was released from the hospital for rehab. Now, let's see if he sues the company like he threatened last week!
*************************
And, again, it's a really slow news day. So, here's to a short happy hour!
I hope you have a wonderful evening ♥

Countdown to 2011: Top 3

It's 3 days until the New Year! 2011's coming fast. I've been doing a countdown this week ... and today is my Top 3...

Top 3 Websites to Follow
You've probably figured I find most of my information online, and I love sharing what I find with you all (especially here!), so I figured I'd share my favorite sites to get news from. ♥



3) Paste Magazine - "Signs of life in music, movies and culture"... I love this magazine because it covers so much stuff (and throws in some awesome fluffy pieces, like my favorite: Nine Nostalgic Nintendo Games to Play at Work -- not that I would ever do that!). It's not as mainstream as the other two sources, so you get a really good twist on stories you're read elsewhere as well as stories you haven't read.

2) E! Entertainment Online - Ok, so this is super mainstream, way overdone, and may frustrate most of you... but I love following E! Entertainment online. It really does get the best inside scoops on celebrity news and gossip. There's even an app on my phone that I get browse through while waiting for anything. I got to give them credit for the amazing stuff they dig up and report.

1) Mashable - Finally, the best website ever... if you haven't started obsessing over every article Mashable writes, then you probably have a life. As for me, Mashable takes up about 1/3 of my Internet browsing time (including Facebook and Twitter)... my favorite are the how-to guides and this holiday they had the best holiday gift-guide ever... I just love that although some articles can get technical, most articles are easy to read. Also, the founder Pete Cashmore is one of the sexiest men ever, so I want to keep him successful... ;-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

5 o'clock happy hour: December 28, 2010

I completely forgot my happy hour yesterday! The University I work at is closed for the whole week, so I've been a couch potato/stay-at-home-wife. It's been so relaxing! But, enough of me... here's today's top stories bookmarked for all eternity:

Celebrity families have gotten bigger and better over the past few days...

In all, there were 8 celebrity engagements in the past 2 months!

The world of politics is exceptionally slow right now, because of the holiday thing. President Obama is even on vacation himself at his Hawaiian get-away.




Other than that, not much has been going on. I started a count-down to 2011... first up was my 5 favorite celebrity moments of 2010... second was my 4 favorite and least favorite movies of the year. I'll count down 3-2-1 over the next few days. (So stayed tuned!)

As always, check back every day around 5 for the day's top stories.

#Reverb10 - Ordinary Joy


December 27 – Ordinary Joy
Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
(Author: BrenĂ© Brown)

**************************
{via}
I had breakfast with an old friend the other day. It wasn't anything special... just coffee and breakfast at a local shop. We sat for an hour, chatted about life, and just enjoyed catching up after not really talking for over a year. It was pleasant. And it set me up for a pleasant morning.

I went home after breakfast, sat outside in the perfect 60 degree weather on my back porch. I wrote and read for a few hours. Just me. It was completely ordinary, but gave me great joy.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: spending time alone is one of my greatest joys.

Countdown to 2011: Top 4

The 4 best movies I saw this year:
(Rotten Tomato ratings are listed next to the movie title)


4) Love and Other Drugs - 50%

While I don't know many other people that loved this movie, I fell in love with it (even despite the very cheesy ending.) Most of this love affair is because of Anne Hathaway, and how much I love her. You can see my review for this movie here.

3) Easy A - 87%

Probably one of the funniest movies I'd seen in a long time... I was hesitant to see it at first, but was pleasantly surprised when the movie was nothing like I expected. It's on my list of movies to buy, which is high praise. You can see my review for this movie here.

2) Shutter Island - 68% / Inception - 87%

I know-- this is 2 movies. But the common denominator is Leonardo DiCaprio. I find this man's ability to act incredible. This year alone, C and I have watched Gang of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed, Blood Diamond, Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, and Inception. In every single movie, this guys nails his performance. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next... therefore he gets a multi-favorite nomination.

1) Toy Story 3 - 99%

I laughed. I cried. I saw my childhood flash before my eyes. I was entertained. I walked away wanting more. I loved this movie. I can't say enough about it, therefore it gets the #1 spot for the year... something animated movies don't often get in my world. I like this description of it:

"This film - this whole three-part, 15-year epic …turns out to be a long, melancholy meditation on loss, impermanence and that noble, stubborn, foolish thing called love." A.O. Scott, The New York Times {via}

{via}

Of course if I'm going to have a "best" list, I might as well have a "worst" list. So, here goes nothing...

The 4 worst movies I saw this year:




4) Iron Man 2 - 74%

It was lame. Fun, good adventure... yes. But I walked away completely underwhelmed. They built this movie up too much to not blow me away. It was one of the biggest disappointments of the entire year, and makes me hesitate to see the next film they spit out. (Kinda like I have no intention of seeing the next installment of Pirates of the Caribbean)

3) Knight and Day- 54%

I saw this movie knowing it wasn't going to be great. I went in with low expectations. And, you now what? Even those low expectations weren't met. I just thought with 2 actors that can obviously act (and obviously do action scenes) it would've given me more. It didn't.

2) Salt - 61%

Angelina Jolie. One of my favorite women in the world. Boo. Maybe motherhood is ruining her ability to read scripts. But she did Tomb Raider 2 a while ago, so maybe I've been liking her despite herself? Either way... boo.

1) The Other Guys - 78%

OK, I recognize a lot of people liked this movie. Me? I almost walked out I was so painfully bored. And I don't walk out on movies... ever. But, I really thought this was the worst piece of crap thrown on a big screen I had seen in a really long time... and I watch some pretty lame movies. Will Ferrel: I love you. Better luck next time, I guess.


{via}

Do you agree? Disagree? Have a list of your own? Let me know!

*********************************

PS-- just to put my list in perspective, here's E! Entertainment's list of the Top 10 Movies of 2010:

  1. The Social Network (would be my #5)
  2. Black Swan (haven't seen it yet)
  3. Inception
  4. The Kids Are Alright (I'm not sure why I didn't see this-- I wanted to!)
  5. How to Train Your Dragon (animated film... don't see much of those)
  6. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (I liked it, and it would probably be my #10)
  7. 127 Hours (haven't seen it, and really not interest)
  8. Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows (best HP movie so far, but it's still a HP movie)
  9. Piranha 3-D (really? I mean, really?)
  10. The Karate Kid (see above comment)

Alphabet Soup


I'm going to start a new theme post for the next 26 weeks that I'm really excited about...


I have been posting about the TV show Glee every Tuesday, but I feel my time in that department has come to a close. I found out I enjoy the show so much more when I just casually watch it. So, instead, I'm playing an Alphabet Soup game.

Starting with the letter "A" I'll write about the most important/fun/interesting thing that letter brings to mind. Who doesn't like a little Alphabet Soup in their life? They'll be an opportunity for you, too, to post your entries along with mine.

So, tune in next Tuesday -- and have the letter A on your mind ♥

Monday, December 27, 2010

Countdown to 2011: Top 5



5) Jeff Bridges winning Best Actor... 5 nominations and finally a win. This story's good enough to make anyone smile.
"Thank you, Mom and Dad, for getting me into such a groovy profession," he said.
4) Sandra Bullock's Best Actress win, divorce, and adoption

Just look at this cover.
I almost bought People that month.
Almost.
3) Conan vs. Leno - if you don't know what this is about, then just go away. It was awesome, sad and funny to watch... and some excellent jokes can now be used for a long time to come...

2) Katy Perry's Sesame Street shut-down then subsequent SNL appearance

1) Betty White on SNL... it had the most views that season for a reason. It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.


Recipe of the Week: Pasta, Navy Bean and Spinach Soup

For Christmas, C gave me the healthy eating cookbook "Skinny Bitch" by Kim Barnouin. I'm really excited about it-- she explains in the intro that the book isn't about being skinny, but taking control of all the food you eat (it is a Vegan cookbook), being aware of products that are actually bad for you, and just making life healthier in general. While I don't plan on becoming a Vegan anytime soon, I am excited about trying out recipes like Curried Chickpea Cakes and Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto. 

This week being so cold, I decided my first recipe would be a soup. Bypassing the Raw Green Soup recipe that uses Vitamix as its base, I went went something more familiar:

Pasta, Navy Bean, and Spinach Soup

Ingredients
I haven't made it yet, but expect it to look
something like this. {via}
  • 2 TBS grapeseed oil (which, I've never used... but figured to try it out. It was $10 at the local "healthy foods" grocery store)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 (15-oz) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (32-oz) carton vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Spring of fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 1 cup cooked pasta, small shape
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh basil
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Directions
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the potato, tomatoes, and spinach... saute 2 minutes. Add the beans, broth, water, salt, and thyme or rosemary and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 20 minutes, or until potato is soft. Add cooked pasta to the soup, and cook 5 minutes. Garnish each serving with basil and ground pepper.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

#Reverb10 - Soul Food


December 26 – Soul Food
What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?


**************************

My 1 year anniversary meant 1 thing for me: I get to eat one last piece of my wedding cake.

C thought it was a dumb tradition, and I was going to pass it up, but my mom insisted. And when we took that 1 year old piece of cake out of the freezer, and unwrapped it at the hotel, it wasn't too appealing to look at... but once we took one bit of the cake, a rush of emotion came over me and went straight to the soul.

Eating my wedding cake a year later spoke to me. It reminded me of the amazing life I signed up for - of the amazing times we'd had so far, and the amazing adventures we planned on going on in the future. Just now, thinking about eating that cake, my heart is happy.

I'll never forget eating that piece of cake last July.

#Reverb10 - Photo


December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
To see all my Reverb 10 posts, you can go here.

**********************

Who I am: 
  • I am a girl that loves fun and games - Yahtzee with family will always warm my heart. 
  • I am a girl that loves "finer things" in life - port cheese, smoked Gouda, etc.
  • I am a girl that love simplicity - Apples, cheese and crackers will always be my favorite meal
  • I am a girl that loves community - I love when a meal forces the people around the table to interact

Who I strive to be:
  • I strive to be someone of character - who will eat fine wine and cheese
  • I strive to be someone easy to relate to - who will eat wheat thins with my wine and cheese
  • I strive to be someone that takes care of things around me - who will use a cutting board when necessary
  • I strive to be someone people want to know - who has fun stories of "that time when we..."

Review: Tron Legacy

{via}
So, last week I had the opportunity to go see Tron Legacy not only in 3D, but I sat in D-Box seats. If you're unfamiliar with D-Box seats (as I was) the simple explanation is they are motion seats that vibrate and move while you are watching the movie. You can technically call them "motion simulation systems" -- much like something you'd find at a theme park. They definitely added a little something to the movie... but it was an additional $15 a person on top of the movie tickets (which were more expensive 3D tickets). I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to experience every movie like that, but it was fun and a nice Christmas gift from our friend John.

Here are the boys waiting for the movie... clearly happy
I decided to snap a picture. ♥
The movie itself was equally as pleasing and equally as forgettable. I'm glad I saw it, but it was never made to be my favorite movie. And, if you're sitting there saying "well, you had to see the original to really get it!" - I did see the original. And I thought the same as I did of this sequel... it was pleasant, fun, visually beautiful, technologically advanced for its time, and forgettable.

{via]
The movie gurus over at Rotten Tomatoes agree with me. Tron Legacy currently has a 48% rating.  Though it is interesting to note that the "audience" at Rotten Tomatoes is giving it a 74% rating. Big gap there.

I will say the design elements of the whole movie were beautiful. It takes some creative, and well-thought out plans to execute beautiful scenery in a sun-less world.

If you haven't seen it yet, I'd really suggest to you to go see it. It's fun, and it'll be great discussion topics around the dinner table and bars for a while.

My grade: C+
Oscar worthy? Maybe for special effects, sound effects and cinematography... but that'd be generous.

{via}
Tonight, I'm excited to see Jeff Bridges in a more "grown up" role, in True Grit. I'll let you know how that goes!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Buzz: Gaga for Gingerbread

So my friend Alexandra posted a link to these amazing Gingerbread designs the other day, and I thought I should share them. Because what makes Christmas better than Lady Gaga?

{via}
Aren't these incredible? Brooke McClay posted this in her blog over at the parenting site Babble. She and her kids used a Martha Stewart Gingerbread recipe, then decorated them as Lady Gaga.  It was her 8 year old son's idea. My favorite? The replica of Gaga's idiotic meat dress... Brooke and her kids used bacon for the outfit!


So, if you'd like to see more close ups of Gaga Gingerbread, and hear more from Brooke, go over to Babble and check it out!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#Reverb10 - New Name


December 23 – New Name
Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
(Author: Becca Wilcott)
*************************
{via}

When I was a child, my first camp counselor was named Crystal. This amused me, because whenever I put myself in my Barbie games, I alway named either myself or the "main character" Crystal. I also always had a imaginary friend (the healthy kind... not the creepy kind) named Crystal. I knew the second I got to camp that my birth certificate was wrong. The first name I ever wanted to have was Crystal.
When I was 16, I got my official driver's license. I decided right then and there that my parents were idiots, and my middle name shouldn't be spelt R-E-N-E (which is the boring Latin spelling) but instead R-E-N-E-E (naturally with the little "thingy" above one of the "e"s, although to be fair I could never remember which one... but the French were cooler than my parents, so it didn't matter). So, when I filled out the official application, I just added an extra "e".
When I was 21, I got married. My 16 year old stunt bit me in the butt. I had since realized my parents were in fact not idiots, Latin was way cooler than French, and I liked the simplicity of my middle name without the extra "e". The ladies that drew up my marriage certificate used the incorrect version of my middle name, that I am now stuck with, because of teenage rebellion.
When I was 21, and was married, I legally changed my last name away from a Slovic, unique, semi-famous one into a white-bread, boring, lazy one. I got my new driver's license (wrong middle name, naturally), my new Social Security Card (correct middle name, go figure), and updated my Facebook name. None of this bothered me, until my dad saw my new driver's license and almost cried. It was then that I realized, the name given to me at birth meant something, and that I was going to miss it terribly.
I love walking around with my husband's last name. It makes us feel a part of a whole. However, when the occasion calls for it, I still call myself by my first last name. I still smile every time I meet someone named Crystal. And, I put the correct spelling of my middle name on the top of this blog, to always remind me what was given me from the start is the best. 
And my parents aren't idiots.
*************************
To see all my Reverb 10 posts, go here.

5 o'clock happy hour: December 23, 2010

I am 1 of 5 people still left working in Kyle Field. Motivation to do anything except celebrate Christmas is absolute zero. So, have a wonderful, merry Christmas! 
The news can wait until Monday.

Today the field looks like this:

Just a little cloudier
{via}

But I'm imagining it looking like this:

{via}

I'm wishing for a White Christmas. But as  Texas girl, I"m used to being disappointed. Anyway....
Merry Christmas!

Google Doodle: Spreading Holiday Cheer


Did you see today's Google Doodle? It's an interactive collection of holiday celebrations from around the world. It'll be up for the next 2 1/2 days... so get to it and get clicking! I know it's kinda hard to see the "google" in this doodle at first, but it's there.... I really like how unique and different it is. It actually caught me off guard when I first saw it. 

So, where are all the pictures going to take you?

  • St. Basil's Cathedral in Russia
  • Acropolis of Athens in Greece
  • A recipe for Buche de Noel, a traditional "Yule log" from France
  • Mount Fuju in Japan
  • The Great Wall of China... found at every strip mall in America (also in China)
  • A recipe for Pierogi - fried dumplings served in Poland
  • Bollywood Dance celebrations, because what's more festive than Indian dancing?
  • The Sahara desert in Africa
  • Information on the Oud, an Arabic guitar-like instrument
  • Chill peppers from South America.
  • The Sydney Harbour in Australia
  • Venice gondolas, for a little holiday romance
  • Nepal - the country. The whole thing.
  • Chilean vineyards - for your holiday wine needs
  • The Afircan kanga - a great gift for a new mom
  • The Moroccan henna lamp (this are gorgeous!)
and last but not least....
  • Videos for "Up on the Housetop" - which you can see here, as shown in a Hyundai commercial:

So, go to Google, click on all the pictures, and enjoy traveling the world!

Coming this weekend....

{via my friend Lisha -- isn't this the best? from 1968}

I hope all of you the very best Christmas weekend!

Have a wonderful, merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

5 o'clock happy hour: December 22, 2010

Today's top stories, bookmarked for all eternity:
kitchen table cabinets hood
{via}

In non-kitchen related news...
spider-man-musical-matinee-canceled-after-stunt-person-accident
{via}
  • Comcast and NBC's merger won't be happening before the new year. But the deal is still on track.
  • YouTube sensation Antoine Dodson's 5 minutes of fame just got longer, thanks to The Lopez Show and Christmas. (Yes, there's a new video for you to watch.)
  • The finale of the British show "X-Factor" was last week... and apparently, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna's performances were too racy for British TV. Go watch and judge for yourself.
  • The band Paramore is splitting up... and it's getting nasty.
  • And, the poor, poor Spider Man musical gets another hit today: the director is being prosecuted because of yesterday's incident.

And in non-entertainment news...

  • The Senate passed a $4.3 billion health care bill for 9/11 first responders today.
  • Obama signed the DADT repeal bill, and then immediately began talking about gay marriage.
  • A fire in Chicago left 2 firefighters dead and 17 injured today... and it just so happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Union Stock Yards fire.

So that I don't leave you on a sad note... David Schwimmer (Ross from Friends) announced he is going to be a dad with his wife. Isn't that sweet? ♥
Baby on the Way for David Schwimmer! | David Schwimmer

Check back everyday around 5 for the day's top stories.

Buzz: One more reason to love Mike Sherman

If you don't love Mike Sherman now, you will after reading his letter to Texas high school coaches

As the state finals rapidly come to a close this weekend and another Texas High School football season nears its conclusion, still another season comes upon us which is more challenging and under even greater scrutiny than the 2010 season we just finished: the "Christmas Season" when you have to buy your wife a present.
I've been coaching for over 30 years and married for 28 of those years and I'm sad to say I have not gotten it right yet. If you evaluated my total performance as a husband on buying my wife a present (or not) at Christmas time, she would have "fired" me long ago.
As I often do in these letters, I share my football experiences with the great high school coaches in the state in case there is something we do that can be of value to you as a coach. Nothing in these previous letters has had more value that what I share with you in this letter today...and that is what not to buy your wife at Christmas time. I have had a lot of painful experiences here. The following is my short list of pitfalls I have learned that you may want to avoid when picking out the perfect gift for your wife.
The Husky 2600ps 2.4 GPM Power Washer
As much as I have tried to defend this idea in my simple little mind, it was a bad idea. I guess just because she said she wanted the driveway and patio "power washed", it doesn't mean she wanted to do it herself with her own power washer. I must say it was the "Cadillac of power washers" though with 6 different nozzles and power settings, as well as 2600 ps and 2.4 gallons per minute. I guess as a general rule, Christmas shopping for your wife at Home Depot is not a good choice. (I should have known when they said they didn't have a "gift wrapping department". Did I mention it pumped 2.4 Gallons a minute??)
Zirconia Diamond Bracelet
You can have a great Christmas with the Zirconia product which is a "synthetic" diamond. You're happy because it is extremely cheaper than real diamonds - she's happy because she thinks you spent all this money on an "authentic" diamond bracelet for her...and you are the best husband a woman could ever hope for...at least until she goes to insure it three weeks later and finds out after the fact that it's not real. That may be a tough one to explain ... but you will have had a good Christmas - but be prepared for the fallout later. That's the trade off. (As I told her, I can't tell the difference from farm raised catfish and river caught catfish - they both taste the same to me. She didn't buy it.)

Anything from Continental's Sky Mall Magazine
I've gone this route too many times. Buying her a present thumbing through a magazine while flying around the State of Texas recruiting is not her idea of putting much "thought or effort" into her gift. Heck, you still have to make the phone call! Doesn't that count for something?! I've made this mistake more than I care to admit.
Buying an Outfit off the Store Manikin
I hate malls like most men so I only go into a mall if there's a store with great parking and easy in easy out access. Not a problem. The problem arises when you walk into the store and pick the first woman's outfit you see on a manikin as your wife's Christmas present. I was in and out in 22 short minutes with all the items wrapped separately. Everything matched; thought it was a good plan. How would she know I pulled the slacks, sweater, blouse, coat, scarf, etc. off a store manikin in the women's department of Dillard's in Green Bay, Wisconsin? I'd get points for matching all the items - plus multiple gifts. She'll think ... "he put a lot of thought into this right!" When she questioned me ...did you pick all these things out yourself?" I proudly responded "yeah...pretty good, huh?" I forgot one thing. When she brought the items back to exchange, which she usually does whenever I pick out clothing, she entered the same door I did right by the entrance to the store and saw the same manikin I saw dressed in her outfit that I supposedly "picked out myself"... If that wasn't bad enough, my wife later explained the outfit I bought for her was designed for a woman my mother or grandmothers age. (I guess that explains the slacks with the expandable waist.) I thought it looked pretty good! Not what a middle aged mother of five wants to hear. She also made notice to me that she didn't appreciate the fact that I picked out the very first thing I saw as I entered the store. "You couldn't have been in that store 30 minutes!!" she scolded me. She was right about that one...it was 22 minutes.
Christmas Card with Money In It
Out of frustration one year, I went this route. This was a bad idea from the start but I was desperate. We had played and beaten the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Eve to win the NFC North Championship. I always do my shopping at the last minute and of course the stores were closed when we got back to Green Bay late that evening so I came up empty and was in a panic. CVS was open however and I picked up a card and I had some cash in my top desk drawer at my office which I stuffed in the envelope after I signed my name to the card.
I've got to admit, I learned something that evening of December 25, 2003. Our couch in the den was not very comfortable. I also learned if I don't get this right next time, I'd better start thinking about investing in a larger more comfortable couch!!
Nothing
For those newly married or young coaches never fall for this trap. The veteran coaches who are married will tell you this about wives. When she says "Honey ... I do not want you to buy me anything for Christmas"...when she says this ... and listen to me carefully ... when she says she wants "nothing for Christmas" ... RUN ... do not walk ... to the nearest Talbots, Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom's with your American Express or Visa card as well as a picture ID and buy her the most expensive thing in the store. Bite the bullet on the cost- it will be worth it in the end.
I am ashamed to say I have fallen for this more than once. "Presence not Presents" was a theme I employed more than once. I loved the concept but learned it does not work with wives at Christmas time. This is a set up. Do not make the same mistake(s) I've made.
I've got to admit, I am a truly blessed man. If it wasn't for my wife Karen, who totally embraces the Christmas spirit, my 5 kids would not have the memories they share for this special season. She has put up with me, my quirks, my moods, my inability to effectively read her mind, my thrifty nature, my failure to appreciate authentic jewelry, my phobia of malls, my lack of taste in woman's clothing... and my job as a football coach for 30 years. She is the 'Mother Theresa' of coaches' wives ... as long as I don't forget the Christmas present.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!
Gig 'Em and God Bless
Mike Sherman