One of the things I've been meaning to get done is car maintenance. An oil change, some new tires; you know those things you should make time for that you perpetually put off.  Since Chris and I had the day off today we decided to do some running around today.

We swung by Discount Tire and picked up four new tires. Expensive, but considering they're likely the original tires that came on the car (at the very least they've been the same ones I've had since I bought it) the treads were low and it was time.

After that we ran around to a few different places and then off to get an oil change.

Not a terribly exciting lead up to New Years Eve, but then New Years Eve to me is kind of a "meh" holiday.  As a kid I stayed up with my parents and watched a marathon of movies.  The majority of my 20's I've spent barely staying awake (but certainly not always making it) and never out.  I'm not really a bar fly so there isn't much appeal to hang out at a bar.  In fact, I really just prefer to stay at home and hang out.

So for all the people headed out for the evening - I hope you have fun!  And for all the people staying in for the evening - I hope you have fun! As long as you're doing something you enjoy and not hurting anyone, that's all that really matters, right?

Alright, so maybe I'm more "in" the skywalk than on it, but for some reason I think of Simple Mind's song Up On The Catwalk every time I walk through this thing (even though they are completely not related, at all....).  As a kid I didn't know what a catwalk was so I thought the song was more or less referring to Cat Woman walking up on some precarious beam stretched across two buildings under construction or something.  I didn't know any of the other lyrics to the song so it almost made sense to me...  Anyway....

I had a delicious turkey and cranberry lunch at the Skywalk Deli with Lori today.  I good last lunch out for the work week.  We both discussed our plans for the upcoming holiday, which more or less involve hanging out at home since neither of us are barflies.

Looking forward to more lunches in the new year!

Another day, another trip to the library on lunch.  It's a pretty good way to convince myself to get a little exercise and get out of the office on lunch.  I also messed around with some of the photo filters on the ipod touch. I started with the below photo and ended up with the above photo.

I spent my lunch break at the library, which is becoming a daily occurrence on these chilly winter days.  The library is more full these days than the late fall, but that's to be expected now that it's much colder out.

I also worked a bit in the evening on my photo comparison post for the LOTRO blog I contribute too.  Massively listed A Casual Stroll to Mordor as #1 in MMO blogs for 2010, which is pretty awesome.  The creators definitely do a ton of work and I'm happy to have the opportunity to write my comparison posts and share them with such an fun and friendly audience.

On my way back from lunch at the library, I swung by Rosa Park Circle.  It may be early afternoon on a Monday but this place was pretty busy.

It's a weird in-between day. It's after a holiday, but still the weekend, but the end of the weekend. I don't know. It sort of felt weird. It probably didn't help that we stumbled across a cache of Valentine's Day candy at the store.

Still, we got quite a bit done. Cleaning, grocery shopping, gaming (well, I did), picked up a santa hat for the My First Bacon (as pictured above).  I've also been playing a bit more with Instagram application on the ipod touch (which is why both the photos in this blogpost were processed with).

Chris was pretty busy and creative today; he made a puppet and even made a few videos, including one with the cat.

In the evening we tried out the soft serve ice cream maker Chris bought me.  I usually let ice cream from the store get soft, or sometimes I even microwave it, so I more or less end up eating it soft serve. It was tasty and easy to make.

All in all a good Sunday.  Excited to head off to bed soon and read more of The Demon-Haunter World by Carl Sagan.

Morning has come and with it more brightly wrapped gifts!  Neither of us really had an easy time picking out gifts for the other.  There isn't a whole lot either of us really need; between the two of us we have enough furniture for at least a house and a half, and we both certainly have enough gadgets for a small army of high-tech ferrets.

But spending time together is the best part of the day (super cheesy, I know).  And we got to do that.  Peppy and Leki had fun playing together through a small pile of wrapping paper and boxes. It always great to see Leki get into playing with the ferret; so often he just looks at her confused by her strange ferret dance.

We even got to play a little bit with FaceTime.  Since my dad has a mac mini Chris and I got him a webcam to hook up to so he can use Skype and FaceTime in the living room.  So we tested it this afternoon between my ipod touch and my parents lovely flatscreen tv hooked up to their mac mini. Worked great.  I'm not a huge fan of video chat in general, but I'm glad to see that it worked well and at the possibilities of interrupting their video watching in the evening.  mwhahaha

Seriously though.  It was a great day.  Here's a slideshow of the holiday happenings over the last few days from my flickr feed.

Chris and I headed out late morning to the east side of the state to spend xmas eve with my parents and little brother. We got there and were greeted with a table of tasty snacks, cakes, and delicious caramel popcorn.  Dinner was great, and Chris got some interesting panoramic shots at dinner and after.

It was a good day filled with great food.  I scored 2011 Ferret Calendar (which is now a tradition)  as well as some great books and cool toe socks.  You can never have enough of those. Had a great time visiting with the family.

With the shortened work week the day was pretty hectic.  Then after some running around for last minute items, the day just seemed exhausting.  Everyone fell asleep pretty early...except me. I spent a good several hours tossing, turning, getting up, watching a movie, laying back down.  I finally fell asleep only to wake up to a very excited hyper cat looking for attention via toe chewing.

Oh well. With the long weekend ahead I suppose it will all equal out.

We finally put up the tree today.  It's a small one, tucked out of the way from the cat so he can't OM NOM it like he did last year. It's a cute thing, and even if the lights aren't blue (which are my favorite on an xmas tree) the tree itself is decorated blue so it works out.

Now to finish up some gifts for Friday and Saturday....

After work Chris suggested tasty Chinese food for dinner.  He's not a huge fan and we don't eat out a ton so I was excited for deliciousness.

As you can see, it was a tasty feast with plenty of food left over for dinner tomorrow and maybe even Thursday. OM NOM NOM!

On another note, we still haven't put up our tree....

Monday was a lazy day. I was really determined to get together my weekly photo comparison post but motivation was sapped out of me as soon as I sat down on the couch.  Instead, there was a lot of snuggling (and some protesting by Leki) as well as dozing off.  I chalk it up to the weekend being entirely too short.

We headed over to the east side of the state today to visit with Chris's best friend, Chris, who is in town from China for the holidays.

He's a nice guy and its awesome the two were able to get together today. For me - I spent a chunk o the day harassing my parents, eating cookies, and doing some shopping. least since 1993.  I'm a fan of nearly all things fantasy, so when I was introduced to the Xanth series as a little kid I was hooked for several years.  I may not be a master at quipping puns, but it was amusing to read pages packed full of them.  One year a PC game called Companions of Xanth came out based on one of the books - Demons Don't Dream. It was a computer game packed with puzzles (based on puns and consequently I wasn't very good at at first) and fantasy creatures.  A true delight.

The box for this game survived and somehow through the years it has become tradition to wrap gifts in it.  Unlike today's game boxes, this made of thick cardboard and oversized - slightly larger than a sheet of paper.  Perfect for wrapping books, video games, DVDs, or anything else you can think of.  It may not get used every year, but anytime I lay my hands on it I'm sure to put it back into the family gift-giving circulation.

Tron Legacy officially opens today.  I'd caught bits of the original as a kid, but I didn't watch it in its entirety until last winter.  I liked it; the pacing was slow and graphics not as awesome as modern films, but it's an 80's flick with computers, how could I not like it?

So a bunch of us headed out to watch it.  Chris, trusty ipod touch in hand, chronicled the event.

Chris even found me an adorable Angry Birds stuffed animal. 

So with the rental car I'm dropping Chris off at work and enjoying having a vehicle on lunch.  I decided to head out on Alpine and walk around the stores since it's kind of chilly outdoors for a walk downtown.

I stopped by the Best Buy that moved down the street a bit, and hit a few other stores including, apparently, a closing Office Depot.

Yes, I realize this is the 3rd post in a row specifically about food. I can't help it! There is so much free tasty food floating around this week it's hard to not have chocolate-dipped strawberries and petits fours on the brain!

Today was our holiday lunch at work, catered from Leo's in downtown Grand Rapids. As you can see, there was a full spread of delicious options!  In the evening I also managed to scarf down the rest of the box of petits fours.

In the evening I played a little bit more World of Warcraft character recently created on a new server.  I really am enjoying the changes and there aren't nearly as many painful leveling experiences as the last time I played on the Alliance.  All the games I play have recently launched x-mas-themed events so over the next few weeks I'll be working my way through Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars, and World of Warcraft. How can you pass up a virtual snowball fight? All the fun of a real snowballs without any of the cold!

Today has certainly felt like a long day. Dropping off the car at the body shop, getting a rental, going to work...  So it was good to come home and enjoy the tasty pot roast Chris started.  Dinner was delicious.  As you can see, Leki heartily approved of it. 

And, thanks to the tasty package from the Swiss Colony my parents bought us, we were able to enjoy some savory delights.  That includes petits fours..... 

A tasty tower arrived today from Swiss Colony from my parents. Leki was extremely excited about the ribbons on top, and spent time chewing on them while I worked out which boxes needed to be refrigerated and which didn't.

Looking forward to tasty meats, cheeses, and especially petits fours! 

If there is one thing that local media and weather stations love, it's news of impending rough weather. Coverage can be non-stop, blown out of proportion, sensationalized.  Sometimes the coverage warrants it, sometimes not. Last year our local weather went a little crazy with news of a snowpocalypse.  This year I haven't heard quite the same fervor around the incoming storm, however.

Where I'm at, I've barely seen anything; maybe 1/2 an inch.  I know other parts of Grand Rapids (especially east of us) were worse.  Heck, it was slushy and icy when I was out earlier on the east side of US-131, just not the west side (and typically the heavier snowfall dumps west of US-131).

I've heard through twitter, facebook and even World of Warcraft that there's crazier snowfall in the Flint and metro Detroit area, with intermittent internet outages and crazy limbs falling.

Hopefully you are snuggled up somewhere warm and safe, even if there's no snow to be seen.  It's just the time of year for that sort of things.

So yeah...that's what happened today.  We left mid-morning to run some errands and stopped off real quick to wash the car.  As we were leaving someone backed into us and took out the driver-side mirror and smacked into the driver-side door as well as the passenger door.  It's amazing how easy the door crumpled...

I was able to get a claim in with insurance right away, but when I called to add information (and see where to email photos) I was on hold for quite a while. So long in fact that I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and after 2 hours I just hung up.

We didn't have a whole lot planned for the day outside a few errands, so we got home and had a lot of the afternoon left.  After cookies were baked I decided that more World of Warcraft was in order. Through the wonders of facebook I discovered several months ago that a childhood friend of mine, Wendy, plays World of Warcraft with her husband. So I decided with the new expansion to re-roll (that means create a new character on a new server) an alliance character on her server and I've been having fun with the new quest lines.

Meanwhile the cat has been enjoying staring at the bird in her "away cage" for most of the evening.

It's a good evening and I look forward to seeing what sort of snow (if any) we get tonight. Since we're supposed to get a lot...we'll probably get nothing.

Friday has been a little bit of everything and nothing. There are a whole bunch of things I haven't done (bake, organize, clean, clear our my RSS folder) but there are a fair number of things I have done (video games, tv watching, eating).  

I took a stroll along Kent Trails mid-morning. It was pretty quiet and not nearly as cold as yesterday or Wednesday. 

In the afternoon Chris and I decided to do a mini-marathon of The Walking Dead.  It's a zombie show on AMC based on the comic The Walking Dead.  I wanted to read the comics before finishing the show, but after listening to Adam and Comfort yesterday I decided I'd try watching it to see how it holds up as a show as opposed to a comparison to the comic (which is how they are trying to look at it vs a lot of people we know are looking at it).  We're 1/2 way through episode 5 (out of 6) and so far I'm on the fence.  It's kind of like The Stand meets zombie movies.  Unfortunately, I don't really care about any of the characters. Maybe that will help me not have nightmares (as I'm not a huge zombie fan, but vampires have been destroyed in recent years).

Around 4:30pm we caught wind that Bernie Sanders had been "filibustering" in the senate on the tax cut since 10:25am, so we stopped watching The Walking Dead and turned on C-SPAN 2.  Amazingly there was hardly any coverage on any other news channels and barely anything in print.  Guess that's why it took us 6 hours to hear anything.

We've been watching C-SPAN 2 for a few hours now. On a Friday night.  And I'm totally digging it.

It's my second day off this week and Chris's first, so what better way to spend it than with the awesome comic creating duo Comfort and Adam?  Though it was only a day together, we made the most of it. We ate authentic Flint cuisine, took a lovely stroll, watched them rock out in the awesome way they do, watched the presidential press conference on tax cuts and unemployment compensation (for FUN, as Comfort aptly pointed out) and even managed to fit in Red Letter Media's review of the latest Star Trek movie.  If you have not seen any of Red Letter Media's reviews, you really should watch them; start with the review of the Episode I: The Phatom Menace. Seriously. It's hilarious.

Chris even has an awesome video that highlights some of the awesomeness of the day.

I'm on vacation for the next three days, which means lots of free time to do random things.  What's on the agenda for today? Cataclysm.

I played World of Warcraft off an on most of the day, reading news articles and preparing dinner (tasty chicken cordon bleu) between breaks.

I took a stroll in the afternoon just to get out of the apartment. It was chilly and started to snow as soon as I hit kent trails. Still, it was nice to be out and about. A good break from the frustrating news coverage, to be sure.

I also slapped together a quick video while I was messing around on my Worgen. I've always been amused by the dances each of the genders and races get, so I was amused to see that the Worgen dances like Lady Gaga in her Poker Face video.

My favorite is still the Night Elf doing Michael Jackson moves though. 

I have some days off this week which I'm promptly going to spend playing video games and hanging with friends. I started early today; picked up a copy of World of Warcraft's latest expansion Cataclysm (and if the advertisements on TV indicate anything, chances are even if you're not a gamer you know what I'm talking about).

The game, if you didn't know, is divided into two factions: Alliance and Horde. The first character I ever created was on Alliance, but pretty much after that everyone has been Horde. I love the gothic, ruined architecture of the Undead's area, for starters.

Anyway, I've almost exclusively played Horde characters when I've played off and on over the past 5 years.

So with this latest expansion I thought I'd give Alliance a go again since they have basically a werewolf race (Worgen) that has an equally gothic and dark area and history.

Now, as you know, World of Warcraft is incredibly popular. So you can imagine with a new expansion and new races and areas to explore, it would be congested at times. Like last night.

Here's a screenshot of a lot of other players trying to get at a poor little Chance the Cat to complete a quest required to leave the Worgen starter area.

So I've been wanting to make gingerbread cookies for some unfathomable reason. I'm not a fan of anything that makes me bust out a rolling pin, but here I am...rolling out dough.

I have a plethora of cookie cutters. Oodles. Most of them were my grandmothers but some I've bought over the years.  Of course they're all in the storage unit.  So, what do we have in the apartment?

The easter cookie cutters we picked up earlier this year.
So Chris picked out the most easily converted cookie cutters and away I went. He converted a few easter bunnies to Santa with a hat, but for the most part I just cut out eggs (that should like bulbs, right?) and flowers (that should be like stars, right?).

What you see are the tasty (and super strong) blobs of gingerbread strewn across some cooling racks.

I briefly debated decorating them...but I caught myself decorating an egg (that should be a bulb) as an easter egg, I gave up.

Today has been just a random assortment of things. We did some running around for a few hours to different local Meijer stores, searching for some cheap action figures (since they're on sale this week).  I stumbled across a plethora of Webkinz, including an opossum. I looked for a ferret but no such luck.

I played some Lord of the Rings Online just doing miscellaneous quests I'd had sitting in my log for awhile. I figure with Cataclysm coming out in a few days I'll likely be absorbed with that, so best to spend some time in Middle Earth now.

Dinah got to spend a much larger chunk of the day in her away cage while Chris hung out in the living room. Leki left her alone for the most part so she was able to relax a bit more.

I did make some cookies (chocolate chip) and still have some dough in the fridge chilling.  I'll attempt gingerbread cookies tomorrow night I think.

Dinah is our 6 1/2 year old parakeet.  She's never had a history of being friendly with people but over the past year she's become increasingly tolerant of me and she flat out loves Chris.

She will screech incessantly when she wants his attention and she's always up for being handled and having her chest rubbed - by him.

So this weekend we finally set out on a mission; picking up an "away cage" for her.  Her normal cage is actually a cockatiel cage, so it's a little large and doesn't fit everywhere. Chris wanted to find something we can put her in (to protect her from an over zealous cat) and have her around while we are elsewhere in the apartment.

So far it seems like the system will work out well, once she is ok with the change in scenery.  She's willing enough to hop into a new cage, but the cat understandably makes her nervous.

We also spent part of the day out searching for more Lego Mini Figures. Here's a short video Chris put together of our adventures.  If you missed it, the first bit of our quest is here.

Like a lot of bookstores these days, Schuler's has a cafe inside of it.  So Lori and I met for lunch today and checked it out.

I'm not really surprised at that they have a cafe, or that they offer some cold sandwiches or pastries, but I was surprised at the full blown menu including personal pan pizzas as well as a beer and wine selection.

And their prices.

But that's ok; sometimes you stumble across an expensive lunch menu downtown, sometimes a reasonably priced one.  The important thing was I got to catch up with Lori and have a nice chat before we each had to go back to work.

If only lunch breaks were longer....

I buy new shoes rather infrequently so I always forget this part...

7am: Ill just wear these boots all day. They can pass for work-shoes.  Dont want to lug around two pairs of shoes all day. *slip on winter boots*

1pm Lunch Break: *walking outside* this is working out good. Shoes aren't leaking. Awesome. Toes are chilly, but s'ok.

2pm: *walking back to work* Ugh, this is getting painful.Almost back to the office.

2:25pm: Would anyone notice if I walked around barefoot?

3:15pm: Decided to stop drinking anything. Too risky. Debating on whether or not I should print anything. May start bleeding if I take another step.

4:30pm: Broke down, had to print something. Walking to printer....AGONY!

5pm: Ride is here. Seriously debated dashing to car in socks.

5:25: Chris needed to make a stop.  At store. Decided to try unzipping boot in desperate attempt to stop zipper from scraping across tender flesh. Mildly successful.