For this New Years Eve I thought it would be nice to have a bunch of appetizers to much on for the two of use. So Chris loaded up Songza for some indie apartment music and we got cooking.

We made cocktail meatballs with and without the traditional sauce, mini pigs in a blanket, and I made some healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip (it's hard to find a decent recipe that doesn't involve mayo). That's not a lot of appetizers if you're having a bunch of people over, but for just the two of us it ended up being plenty. We'll have tasty left overs for the next day or so.
We hung out and watched a movie, I played a bunch of video games, and just relaxed in general. I even popped into Animal Crossing to see the festivities.

Overall it was a pretty relaxing evening for one of my least favorite holidays.

I needed chili sauce and I did not have any. Rather than go out and pick some up, a quick search online yielded a simple recipe. The internet is wonderful sometimes.

There are two main malls in Grand Rapids (Woodland and Grandville), but there are a handful of other "malls" that appear to have been built quite awhile ago. One of those is Rogers Plaza. From the outside it looks like just a strip mall, but there is a small interior with shops. Not many shops, but there are some.

The really weird thing about Rogers Plaza is how many stores that have a front facing both the interior mall portion and the parking lot have their mall portion gated off. I guess they don't want worry about monitoring both entrances, which I understand. But it certainly makes the whole mall feel less inviting and useful.

I've really been enjoying my Kobo ereader. It's small and light (not that the Kindle isn't). But I have run into an issue where if I want to read something from the Kindle store, it's really just easier to read it on the Kindle as opposed to stripping the azw file of DRM and then converting it to ePub.

I would love if the standard for ebooks was like mp3s and I could easily move from device to device, no matter where I purchased the music from.

It will get there, someday, but in the meantime I'll keep flipping between the Kobo and the Kindle I guess.

Chris surprised me with a belated Christmas gift that came in the mail today. A cute One Ring replica that I can wear around my neck. Now I can pretend I'm marching to Mordor while wandering around downtown on lunch.

I decided to decorate my cube this morning with some Doctor Who themed sticky notes, courtesy of my Geek Girl Pen Pal.

Having a day off in the middle of the week is nice. Add Christmas to the mix and the day becomes awesome! Even if I can't seem to get my camera in focus so early in the morning.
The day is especially great for a certain sausage-y kitty I know. There are stockings full of toys...
...and new boxes to nap in.
We had a pretty good day today too. Nice snowy weather, a relaxing afternoon, and an adorable kitty who doubles as a heating pad.

Another one of the recipes that came with the awesome Spritz tool my co-worker gave me was one for crackers. With half day at work today, this afternoon seemed like a perfect time to try these.

They're tasty, and more like tiny biscuits than crackers from a box. I did have a small issue with the dough being too dry, so I had to add water, but I'll definitely still try other cracker recipes.

Anyway, the cracker were a good compliment to some home made turkey chili. I like to collect the recipes from the Advance Newspaper we get and this one from last Saturday seemed easy to make (recipe is half way down the page) since we had the ingredients on hand, including frozen turkey.

Awhile back I signed up with the International Geek Girl Pen Pals site. I'd sent a few packages but I'd never actually received a response, so I stopped participating. So imagine my surprise when I arrived home today to these awesome gifts and a nice card!

I'm excited to start reading a new (physical) book and use the bookmark! And the sticky notes are adorable.
Speaking of awesome things in the mail, over the weekend I also received my first Loot Crate (thanks Tony for pushing me over the edge with your tweets!). It actually came on Saturday, but since we were out of town I didn't mess with it too much until Sunday. I am a gamer, so I was pretty happy with a gaming theme for my first Loot Crate. Plus the shirt is from woot, which I love and buy stuff from all the time!

Thanks to the awesome gift my co-worker gave me, I now have the means to make Spritz cookies! Specifically, I decided to make Lemon Spritz Cookies.
I also whipped up a batch of home-made icing. In retrospect I probably should have gone with a buttercream frosting instead icing. Either is delicious, but the icing dripped and was more difficult to decorate the cookies with. Although, some of that is probably a lack of practice on my part.

The cookies were delicious! And I look forward to trying other recipes with the cookie press.

Edit: Chris also showed me how to use the 3D printer today, and I created my first item - a canister to hold the cookie press inserts.
Plus it's deep enough that if I do end up getting a few other inserts, they'll fit right in!

Since Christmas is in the middle of the week this year, we decided it would be easier to celebrate with our families the weekend before.

So we arrived at Chris's mom's house for a delicious brunch at her favorite restaurant, Bahama Breeze. Then it was back to her place for dessert and presents!
There were plenty of gifts all around...
...including a billion dollar bill for Scot...
and nice Father Christmas sculpture for his mom.
In late afternoon we traveled over to my parent's house. They're only about twenty minutes apart, which is pretty convenient.
Everyone was there, including Dayzee who waited just off to the side most of the evening, waiting to see if she was going to get something tasty.
After a tasty lasagna dinner, it was time for presents!
Including an awesomely wrapped gift by Jeff, which contained deliciousness! Who doesn't love cookies and candies!
Dayzee did finally get a tasty peanut butter treat, and she was happy.

Then it was finally time for the drive home. The whole day it had rained in the metro Detroit area and there was an ice storm warning in effect.
The entire drive home it did rain, and it only started to get slushy on the road west of Portland. Most of the drive home was slow, and it took us 3 1/2 hours to make the trip back. It wasn't too bad until I broke the windshield wiper and couldn't clear the driver's side completely. Traffic was only going 20mph on the freeway, but it was still too dangerous to pull over and try to fix it so we had to wait until we hit the next exit, which seemed to take forever to get to.

But thankfully we made it home alright. I don't ever want to drive like that again. Also, I hate these weird wiper blades.

Gifts are wrapped and ready for tomorrow's festivities!

So today was the gift exchange at work. My cubemate gave me a bunch of baking supplies to make Spritz cookies (and to decorate them!). Totally awesome. I'm looking forward to baking some cookies!

My gift to her was mostly home-made treats, so I guess she know me well!

Spent part of the evening wrapping a gift for tomorrow's gift exchange at work.

It's a little snowy downtown, but it doesn't feel nearly as cold as it has the last few days.

With the weather how it was over the weekend, we decided to wait to pick up groceries. So did everyone else, of course. But now we have food!

This is our second year having a full size Christmas tree, and it's sorely lacking in off the wall ornaments. Mostly what we have on the tree are a plethora of decorations I had as a kid, and while I love them and they have meaning for me, I think it would be nice to have a tree decorated with things that mean something to both of us.

We do have two Green Lantern themed cross-stitch ornaments I made last year, so we're getting there. But we're still missing something that honors his Noodliness. I am speaking, of course, about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
So, we picked up two packages of Sculpey. I used ecru colored (Premo!) for the noodles and hazelnut for the meatballs.

I ended up using half the pack of hazelnut for the meatballs (so two bars) and about a third of the ecru for the noodles.

I did create a little bridge to hold the meatballs together before threading the noodles around the base of the ornament.
Assembly took about 10 minutes, maybe 15, which is a lot less that I would have thought. I set everything up on parchment paper, even using a bunch of it folded under the eye stalks for extra support. I didn't want them falling backward while baking in the oven.

I also created a little loop in the center noodle for a hook or string.
After baking for about 30 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, the sculpey was hardened.

After letting it cool for a bit, I painted on the eyes...
...and adorned our tree with his noodliness once the paint was dry!

I finally stumbled across the part in the grocery store where wonton wrappers are. Apparently they're shelved right next to tofu in the fresh produce area. Anyway, I've had this package of wonton wrappers sitting in the fridge and I've been trying to come up with something to make.

Since the weather is kind of snowy and crappy out, I didn't really want to go to the store and pick up a few supplies for other recipes, so I opted for a modification of this Chicken Parmesan Wonton recipe.
I used some turkey I'd frozen from the second Thanksgiving meal, and mixed it up with all of the rest of the ingredients.
They came out pretty tasty and crispy, which is exactly what I'd expect from baked wonton wrappers.

I still have half a package left, so if the weather is nice tomorrow I'll pick up some supplies to make something else delicious like chicken wing dumplings, or maybe even mini-apple pies!

I finally updated my 3DS so I could enjoy the new Miiverse. The process was not without some hassle though. As is typical of Nintendo products, they're very particular on making sure that everything is friendly and appropriate. My name, shatteredhaven, is not. I assume it's because shat is in it, although I couldn't proceed with vowels removed either. I've used shatteredhaven since before Microsoft owned Hotmail, so it's amusing and frustrating to have the nickname be an issue 17 years since I started using it.

Once I finally changed my Mii's name, I was able to create an account (with a completely different name, for some reason) and poke around. Essentially it's a giant message board for their different games.

The whole experience is a little slow and clunky on the 3DS, though it's still neat that it's been released. I'm not sure if it's much faster on the WiiU. I certainly hope it is.

Regardless, I'll probably poke in there from time to time to see different comments and drawings people have posted.

And now the snow is sticking to the windows in the skywalk.

It's still snowing outside. It's cold and dark out, which means I want to do nothing more than snuggle with a blanket on the couch and make virtual snowmen in Animal Crossing. It's so much warmer indoors.

The snow was bound to start sooner or later. I just wish it had been a little later in the day. The trek over to the skywalk was chilly today.

I'm at a desk for nearly all of the working day, and the office layout is pretty open. So I spend a big chunk of the day alternating between various podcasts and audiobooks, just to help keep out the general office chatter that can be distracting.

I spent probably 7 hours listening to the first Mistborn book today. That's more than I usually do of an audiobook in a day, and definitely a lot more than I've done with anything recently (which has been the Wheel of Time series, which honestly isn't that great). It's been a long time since I've actually eagerly wanted to hear more of a book. It also help make the day go by faster.

Not a bad way to kick of the work week.

I didn't leave the house once today. I spent a lot of time reading, playing on my 3DS, and messing around indoors where it was warm.

The Toy and Comic Expo by our house is today. It's the same show we attended last year and again earlier this year. The building is also where they had the Grand Rapids Comic Con earlier this year.
Jeff and Dan were there of course, so we met up with them then headed back to our place for some SmashUp and lunch.
There's not a whole lot of craft tables at the Toy Show, but I still managed to find something. So I picked up a cute Tardis tree ornament while I was there. It's actually by the same person who did the pins I'd bought earlier this year.

I stopped in Vault of Midnight while I was on my lunch today, and what do I see but Comfort and Adam's Rainbow in the Dark (center)! The comic hit stores early this week (it was supposed to be out next week) and it's exiting to see their work nestled on a shelf in a comic shop!
While I was there I picked up a few books. Saga is the one I'm most excited about of the bunch. I really, really liked Y The Last Man, and since Saga is written by the same guy I couldn't pass it up. And of course I had to check out the new Sandman. I enjoyed the original run of the comic, so I'm curious to see what is done with the new series.
I also picked up some tasty treats from RitaGirl's Bakery. Delicious cupcakes and brownies!