Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Winter break

laelene Posted in mba,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Ah, inertia. Ever since Thanksgiving break, I’ve seen a noticeable decline in motivation in all my classmates. We sort of just didn’t want to get back into things after our first real break.

Now that we finally got through the rest of classes, finished up finals, and are on winter break, all I want to do is lounge around. I don’t want to check emails or read books as I thought I might have done. I don’t like watching TV, but for boredom’s sake I’d turn something on just to have it going in the background.

This is reminding me of the spring break I had once where I was one of the only people on campus and I basically watched a dance competition show nonstop. I completely messed up my sleep schedule that time, staying up until 7 or 8 am and sleeping through until 6 pm. At least this time I’m keeping somewhat normal hours, though I’ve lost all sense of what day it is.

I’ve only got two more weeks at home before leaving and I want to maximize my time doing nothing and hanging out with the cats. So that’s the plan.

Pie pops for Pi Day

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Last week I was going through emails and saw these adorable pie pops from Treatsie. My friend “Calavera” and I decided we had to make them, so she came over this weekend to make some belated Pi Day treats.

piece of pie crust stuck in glass cup while cutting out circles in pie crust

We used a small glass to cut out the circles in the pie crust.

circular pie crust pieces with leftover material

Extra pie crust that we rolled out and cut until it was all used.

pie crust strips cut and laid out

The other piece of pie crust was cut into long strips and woven.

thin strips of pie crust woven into lattice pattern

Weaving together the pie crust lattice.

cutting circles in pie crust lattice

Once done, we used the same glass to cut out circles on the lattice.

round pieces of pie crust with little bit left over

After cutting, we had minimal waste of the crust.

putting together pie pops with jam and egg wash

Then we got to work putting together the pops, putting jam inside.

pie pops put together and ready for sugar dusting before baking

Almost ready for baking!

adding sugar to pie pops before baking

The final touch, adding some sugar on top.

pie pops in oven baking

And in they go for baking.

heart pie pop leaking jam while baking

The heart one was pumping and “bleeding” everywhere.

finished pie pops laid out on turtle-shaped cutting board

Ta-da! The finished product. We tried carving our initials and making the sand dollar ones, but the lattice ones came out best.

Happy Leap Day!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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I know it’s not a true holiday, but it sure feels like it should be. Today was one of the quietest days at the office, with a surprising number of people leaving early. Tomorrow are primary elections so a lot of kids are home and it’ll likely be another quiet day at the office.

In the future, I hope that I’ll be at a company where we can celebrate Leap Day by encouraging people to get one more day of trying something new. I mean, it’s only once every fortyear…

I celebrated with a colleague by taking advantage of Melting Pot’s $29 4-course deal. We saved over $10 each! It was great to slowly enjoy our meal and chat about all sorts of random things. Wouldn’t it be nice to get an extra day here and there to enjoy quality time with others?

So what did you do on this Leap Day?

Seasonal shift

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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With the days getting cooler and shorter, we’re on the brink of the holidays. Some things I enjoy most from this change are the festive lights that start popping up everywhere, the rain that will eventually turn to snow, and the potential deals to be had! Here are some videos showing a few of those experiences…

twinkling tree holiday lights from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

snowfall in reston town center from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

There’s something very exciting about the first snowfall of the season. It starts a new era.

target black friday time lapse from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Last year was the first time we did Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving night! And the first time I took advantage of Black Friday deals in years. Or maybe ever.

Laser tag holiday party

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Yesterday our company had our holiday party celebration at a laser tag place! I think it was my first time, but then I have this faint memory of darkness, glowing lights, and being downright awful at the game. I don’t know if that was just a dream from my childhood or an actual memory. Either way, I was very new to this experience and had a lot to learn. We booked the whole place for over 4 hours and it was quite the night of fun and exercise!

shadowland laser adventures laser tag in chantilly

Arriving at the holiday party after the Secret Santa at the office.

laser tag gear hanging on the wall

We signed waivers, gathered in the break room, then moved on to the briefing room before putting on our packs.

I’d show you those pictures, but some of my coworkers might not want to appear on my blog. 😛 Just imagine a break room painted with some sort of alien landscape with observation domes. There are a bunch of long tables and chairs there for people to sit (in our case, eat and drink). Across the way are doors leading to the briefing room, which is mostly kept darkened. There are other things painted on to these walls and it sort of looks like the background in the next picture. Three sides of the room have wooden benches lining them, one row in front, one row in back much like bleachers. Along the forth wall are the rules, a sample gem (glowing thing on the wall that can give you power-ups but also tag you), and a blown up example of what the display screen on the gun look like.

They walk you through the basics and then let us choose how we wanted to play each time. The first time it was two teams against each other. The second time we went crazy with four. The third time we toned it down to three and the forth time we had team captains split us into two teams (I’m pretty sure I was the worst player on my team then, but we still won!). And finally they went a fifth time with free for all. I really wanted zombies and didn’t want to get demolished in the free for all, so I sat out and got to stand by the entrance to watch everyone else battle it out. The same 6 or 7 people kept running around and around the area closest to me. Seems like many people had zones they preferred, so some sort of pattern.

girl wearing laser tag pack for laser tag game

Got my pack 14 on and ready to rumble!

laser tag gun display panel showing stats

The display on our laser guns let us know all sorts of stats that thoroughly confused me. Half the time I couldn’t tell if someone got hit or hit me.

laser tag arena with everything painted black and glowing lights everywhere

In we went! It wasn’t until later that I realized there was a gem right at the beginning.

sign reserving and welcoming company party to laser tag venue

A few rounds in, I suddenly noticed the sign for our party!

scoareboard listing ranking and stats for players after laser tag round

After each game, we’d convene outside to check out how everyone did.

laser tag score card summarizing stats of game for each player

They even handed out score cards! I was pretty consistently one of the last (usually third to last).

Black Friday (on Thanksgiving) for a First-Timer

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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My family isn’t big on shopping and my mom’s great at getting deals unrelated to the craze of this time of year. Growing up, we never did Black Friday (who wants to wake up that early?) and we enjoyed a much more chill holiday weekend. However, in recent years with retailers opening Thanksgiving night, it’s become something that I actually considered doing. Lining up at 5 pm at night is far easier than crawling up at 2 in the morning to get in line by 3. This year, Panda and I decided the one item we’d look for is a TV. We had never really gotten a TV since moving to the condo, so we had this giant living room area and no screen to match. What we’ve had is a 24″ that came free with the couch set. Not nearly the size you need when you’re sitting a good 10 feet away.

This morning, the ads came and we confirmed what we wanted: a 48″ Westinghouse at Target. With doors opening at 6, we decided to get into line around 5.

line outside target store thanksgiving night for target black friday store opening sale

It got pretty cold in line, but it definitely could have been worse.

target crackers with deal coupons inside

I’m not sure Americans know what crackers are, but the Brits certainly would!

westinghouse 48 inch tv on sale for black friday at target

Snagged that and went to check out!

broken brand new westinghouse tv screen

Not what we wanted to see upon turning it on.

westinghouse 48 inch tv being exchanged for in-stock 50 inch at target

Of course they were out of stock when we went to exchange it, but we were able to get the 50″ instead.

brand new 50 inch tv versus small 24 inch old one

Now that’s more like it… the old TV was sooo small.

It turned out to be quite the adventure and required another trip to Target. At first, the manager seemed reluctant to give us an exchange for a similar product without charging us the difference (which sort of defeats the purpose of the Black Friday deal, don’t you think?). Luckily, when we found the same brand with a slightly larger screen, she was willing to let the extra $100 price difference slide and gave us an even exchange. At least we got an extra 2 inches for all that hassle!

Working remotely in Hawaii

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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I spent a week out in Hawaii while doing everything to make it seem like I wasn’t even gone work-wise. It was a last-minute thing: when I realized Veteran’s Day was the following week, I had asked Panda what our plans were (anticipating taking Monday off to enjoy a 4-day weekend). Instead of the type of answer I was expecting, I discovered that would be the week he was slated to go to Hawaii for work. I was so disappointed because I was really wanted to enjoy the weekend with him, but work travel meant he’d be leaving me Sunday morning. In other words, what I thought would be a long weekend would actually only consist of Saturday. For the first time, I was actually serious about joining him on a work trip. I really didn’t want to lose out on making it a holiday weekend worth my time.

So, once it was confirmed that he was going, I decided to make a decision and book tickets too. I’ve never planned a trip like this on such short notice, but it was one of those things I knew I’d regret for ages if I didn’t go for it. I figured I could still get all my work done at the normal EST hours I work and then I’d have the afternoon to enjoy the surroundings in Hawaii. Just like that, we found tickets for times I felt were reasonable and least interfered with work. By Sunday, we were off on our journey to spend a week out at the North Shore.

turtle bay resort at north shore hotel room with king bed

My office for the week.

I woke up daily (except Veteran’s Day and the weekend) at 4:30 HST to start work. I joined meetings remotely, answered emails, and worked on projects. Before I knew it, the sun would be rising and people were going off to lunch. I’d usually have a late “lunch” break and go enjoy the breakfast buffet downstairs. I savored the meals and watched the waves coming in as the heat began to build outside. Then it was back to the room for more work, which flew by pretty quickly. I found myself to be more productive (or at least it felt so) working from the hotel. This was probably because I had very few distractions. I hardly even got up for a drink or restroom break whereas usually at work I’m up at least once or twice an hour.

view of sunrise from turtle bay resort hotel room

Being awake for the sunrise was pretty cool.

view of turtle bay beach and ocean from turtle bay resort hotel room

The daytime view was pretty awesome too.

breakfast spread from breakfast buffet at turtle bay resort

A typical breakfast halfway through the work day!

I tried to finish my day around 1, but it usually went past that, though for the most part I was able to stop working by 2. At that point I had the choice of beaches to play at. One day I went the less traveled route and happily caught dozens of hermit crabs, snails, and even fish. Another day I found other crabs lurking by the rocks and swam around in the bay following a variety of fish around coral reefs. Yet another day I caught more critters and had a staring contest with some ghost crabs. I kept meaning to go to the banyan tree everyone checks out, but there were so many distractions along the way that I never quite made it there. I did have fun filming storks taking off in slo-mo, getting super close-ups of the creatures I caught, and generally basking in the sun.

clear plastic cup with a fish, hermit crab, and sea snail

Just the beginning of my catchings.

As the sun went down, we’d search for dinner and my night would wind down. I’d shower off the sand from the day and spend some time online before calling it a night. I tried to sleep around 8, but oftentimes it was closer to 10 when I got to bed. And then the day would start anew just past 4 as my alarms began to ring. It was much easier to wake up at that time than I thought it might be. I was quickly alert and ready to go! On our days off, we’d sleep in until 9 or so and then grab breakfast before embarking out on some adventure. Panda didn’t get the weekend, but luckily was free on Veteran’s Day and had some opportunities to leave work for a few hours. We went to Waikiki twice, hiked Diamond Head, visited Pearl Harbor, and even swung by the Dole Plantation. Not bad for a working vacation!

Our first Halloween

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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It’s our first Halloween as homeowners and you can tell by the massive bags of Sour Patch Kids we gave out (along with Rice Krispy Treats too). The Sour Patch Kids were a hit with pretty much ever kid who came to our door. I think we had a total of twenty-some-odd visitors over the course of about half a dozen doorbell rings. A mostly quiet night, but that’s probably partly due to our neighborhood still being new and many condos still standing empty. It wasn’t easy to tell whether people were home and/or living in each unit, plus with our condo style, the doors are down a sidewalk between the walls of our buildings. The other style condos in the area have the front doors all along the front facing the street, so it’s easier for the kids to run from one to the next.

We made sure to turn on our front door light and we lit up fairy lights in one of the windows facing the road. Inside the front door, we lit up the tiny pumpkin I got from my recent HelloFresh box. Panda originally wanted to shine a light on it to cast a shadow like the bat signal, but the shadow was either too small or too blurry, so we decided to light the mini pumpkin instead. Next year we’ll have to make sure we carve a pumpkin and light it up out by the end of our sidewalk to get more people to our door. It also took use some time to hop off the couch and run down the stairs, so maybe we can read books on the stairs or something to be closer to the door.

Overall it was a fun Halloween, not too crazy, but it had its moments (especially at work). Here are some highlights:

laughing girl dressed up as waldo for halloween blending in with whiteboard with red stripes drawn on

This idea for Where’s Waldo sounded much better in our heads, but still provided for some great amusement today.

halloween trio dressed up as lumberjack with axe, shark, and waldo

In no other scenario would you find a lumberjack axing a shark attacking a Waldo. What fun!

mini pumpkin held in the palm of the hand

Fits in the palm of my hand.

light shining on mini pumpkin inside window by door

Our makeshift lighting for the “pumpkin signal” that didn’t quite work.

mini pumpkin inside window by door lit up by lamp

From the outside, I think you get the idea that we’re open for business, right?

cat chewing on bag of candy in basket of halloween candy

Smokey tried to dig in as soon as the kids were gone and the doorbell stopped ringing.

Julep October 2014: The Black Magic Collection review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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I got this box before my vacation, but it was missing an item. I reached out and requested they send me an extra product too since this isn’t the first time this has happened. I received those while away, so now I have the review ready! I knew right away I wanted the night mask, so that narrowed down my choices. I happened to like both shades offered in the Classic With A Twist box, so I opted for that. For the first time, I also loved a ton of their add-ons, so I got an extra polish, nail decals, and the lip crayon.

Julep ranges from just under $20 to $40 per box and comes with combinations of nail polish colors, skincare products, and beauty products (depending on your style profile choice). They offer plenty of upgrade and add-on options too. Boxes are sent monthly unless you choose to skip (skips are earned every six months for subscribers Dec 18th, 2013 and later). You also have the option of gifting your box to a friend. They offer a referral program that earns you $15 store credit per referral.

julep maven october 2014 black magic collection box contents

October’s Classic With A Twist Black Magic Collection box with add-ons

set of julep polishes in casper, logan, deann, catrina, and karmen

Polish colors in Casper, Logan, DeAnn, Catrina, and Karmen.

I had to get Casper because it’ll glow in the dark! Logan and DeAnn came with the box and the last two were bonuses for ordering three add-ons. I already have Catrina from another box, so I’ll trade that.

julep plush pout lip crayon in aurora pink

Plush Pout Lip Crayon in Aurora Pink
I wanted this back when they first offered it, but didn’t like the box selections. Now I have one and it feels good (smells great), but that shade is way bright for me!

julep night shift sleeping mask

Night Shift Sleeping Mask
I’m a fan of this one for sure. It’s super hydrating and soothing.

julep black cat nail decals and bag of candy corn

black cat nail decals and candy corn
The decals were missing originally, so I had them send me two sets. So cute, though I wish some cats faced the other way too.

julep black magic collection card, discount offer card, quote card, candy corn info slip, and bonus card

The Black Magic Collection cards.

julep new mascaras sneak peek card

A sneak peek at their new mascaras.

julep night shift sleeping mask info card

Info card for the Night Shift mask.

This was a fun box that I liked putting together. I paid just over $40 for it and got a ton of stuff! I’m excited to do some glow-in-the-dark nails with cats. Those decals will work great in other situations too, especially for this cat lover. 🙂

Join as a Julep Maven to get polishes and/or beauty products sent to you monthly! Use code FREEBOX or FREEMAVEN to get the first box free (you pay shipping).

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

World Cat Day!

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,
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Between vacationing, reading, writing, and so much more, I’ve neglected to post as much as usual. I just finished up the novel I was reading (Amy Tan’s latest – The Valley of Amazement) so that should free up time to blog more. It’s hard to write when so much flowing through my head consists of ideas for no less than five separate story lines for potential novels of my own. I add to them when I can and get a mind dump every few nights.

In the mean time, here’s a belated World Cat Day dedication to my beloved felines. I was absolutely tickled to find it coincided with my now marriage anniversary date!

cat napping on top of open book

To Missy, the best snuggle buddy ever, particularly in the cooler months. She’s overcome her little mute tendencies and now meows all the time!

cat standing with front paws in sink and back up on counter

To Molly, whose old grumpy self has eased up a bit. She still follows my mom around like her life depends on it and it’s hilarious.

cat sitting on sofa with one paw outstretched

And to Smokey, the adorable little weirdo who gives me some super entertaining stories to share at work. She may not like to be held, but she’ll come to you on her own.

My cats are a special bunch and provide me with endless joy and entertainment. Don’t worry if I become a crazy cat lady. I’ll be loving it!

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