December 19, 2011

Surprise Birthday Party

Bri's boyfriend Dan decided to through her a surprise party this year.  Her birthday is two days after Christmas, and is often the case with birthdays around major holidays, it's often overlooked.  We threw it early, as it both proved it was not forgotten, and guaranteed the largest number of people could come.

She showed up at the bar where we were waiting, looking ready to hurt someone.  The story to get her there was apparently panic inducing.  We pretty much forgot to yell surprise when she walked in.  And then she started crying.  Then I panicked.  Thankfully, it turned out to be a happy and relieved cry that it was a happy occasion.  She'd never had a surprise party before.

After some food and a few drinks, we walked over to the local bowling alley.  I'm a horrible bowler.  I think my score from the first game was a 29.  Even with bumpers on the second game, I had a whopping 112.  I had a shot called a pickleback, which was some kind of whiskey shot with a pickle juice chaser.  I love pickle juice, but even I was surprised by how well the two went together.

Victory dance
We ordered a funnel cake a la mode, and had them put candles on it.  Bri wanted to show it off, but as I was taking pictures, one of the funnel cakes, complete with flame, fell off the plate and into her lap.  We had all had too many drinks to be properly horrified that an open flame was in her lap, and instead we all collapsed into laughter.  Thankfully, no one caught on fire, and the damage was limited to a plate full of ice cream.  On the plus side, I got one hilarious action shot.

Bri's Birthday Funnel Cake
It was a fun night.

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December 18, 2011

Christmas #1

DS and I decided to do Christmas with each other and the cats today.  It was the last full day we had to ourselves at home, without work or other obligations.  Also, I was in the mood for a pick me up.

Most of our gifts for each other were mostly things that we needed and wanted, but for whatever reason, had not gotten around to getting for ourselves.  The gifts for the cats were more whimsical, and honestly, bought more for Felix than Winston.  Winston likes two things in life: rabbit fur covered mice, and edibles.  Felix is much more well-rounded.  We got them a play tube, a toy that rolls and has feathers and burlap, and a packaged set of interchangeable sushi toys filled with catnip and with velcro pieces to attach to a stick and string.  So far, neither cat has been very interested in the tube, though I was thoroughly surprised to see Winston immediately get in it.  It was a short-lived excitement.  He hasn't cared about it since.  I'm more surprised that Felix doesn't care about it.  In fact, she seems afraid of it.  She's always seemed very fond of small, enclosed places, so I had thought she would love this thing.  I figured she'd love the rolling toy, because she can sink her claws in the burlap, and chew on the feathers, and roll it around the floor.  All of which have been true.  They both love the sushi toys.  I wasn't sure if the catnip would win over Winston, but he's been attacking them with gusto, so long as we pick them up.  Felix, in typical fashion, is quite happy to drag them around the house without our intervention.

Here are some photos of our decorations and Winston attacking some sushi.

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December 14, 2011

Engineering Christmas Party at WHYY

Tonight was the annual holiday party for the Engineering School.  It's held somewhere different every year.  Last year it was at the Academy of Music, which is the same place the ballet is held.  This year it was at the studios of WHYY, which is essentially Philadelphia's PBS station.  It was really cool to see the studios, and even though they weren't filming tonight, the control rooms were still functioning since they were still showing taped things on air.  

As seems usual at this point, the evening started with cocktails and appetizers.  The empanadas were amazing.  Elmo was running around, which was interesting.  Then there's the big sit down dinner.  This year we had three different  buffets with different kinds of food.  DS and I felt it was important to try all of them.  The kimchi pancake things with the aioli sauce... wow.  So good.

After dinner there's always some entertainment.  This year, it was a live performance of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!  It was hosted by Carl Kasell and Patrick Stoner.  They used two professors as the contestants, and it was pretty funny.  Afterwards, they were both kind enough to hang around and talk to people and have their photos taken.

Carl Kasell enjoying dessert
 Mr. Kasell has been doing radio for 62 years.  Just let that sink in for a bit.

Dessert was so delicious.  We had spiced apples, gingerbread, chocolate mousse tarts, hibiscus cheesecake, and some kind of pistachio brittle.  I had all of it.  Some of it more than once.

One of my favorite things about these parties is that I get to dress up.  I don't get to do that a lot often.  This year I felt like doing something different with my hair, and this is what I came up with:

Up-do for the Engineering Christmas party
I got a lot of compliments on these earrings, which I made just before the party to match my dress.  I'm afraid people think I wove the pearls together, but alas, I bought them that way.  One person even asked how to find my shop, so fingers crossed!

December 13, 2011

Visiting Family

This weekend, DS's mom, sister, and niece all came up for their annual viewing of The Nutcracker.  The latter two had seen it three years in a row by three different ballets.  It's sort of their thing.  So we talked them into seeing ours, which had the added benefit of finally getting them up here to see us.

Our niece is 9 and really wanted to see things like the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross house.  That was easy for us to do, since we live within a few blocks of all that stuff.  Saturday morning we walked around looking at some of the close stuff.  One of my favorite things to show people is Elfreth's Alley, which is the oldest continuously inhabited street in the United States.  As a nice bonus, the residents had decorated for Christmas.  We also toured the Betsy Ross house, where the Betsy impersonator talked to us for a long time, and made our niece a paper star using the same techniques used to make the first flag.  We checked out the Liberty Bell, where we learned that the name came much later in its life when abolitionists adopted it as their sign of freedom.  Then his sister wanted to see the Love statue, so we went across town to see that.  On the way back, we checked out the plaza where all the giant game pieces are, which was a lot of fun.

We had some time before we had to get ready for the ballet, so our niece and I made some jewelry, and I taught her how to play The First Noel on the piano.  It was a lot of fun to see her trying so hard to get it right, and I was super proud when she could finally play it through without messing up and with correct fingering.

The ballet was magnificent.  There was a full orchestra and a choir there for the music.  The sets were really cool, and some of the costuming was just gorgeous.  This was my third ballet company viewing of The Nutcracker, and it's always interesting seeing all the little ways companies do things the same and differently.  The pas de deux at the end was just so great.  Our niece thought that part was boring, but it was the more technical part that probably doesn't look as impressive when you're small and don't understand how hard standing on en pointe and being pulled across the stage with one leg up in the air really is.

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend.  I hope they get to come back soon, because we barely even scratched the surface of things to do in the city.  Plus I just love hanging out with them.  Maybe next time they'll bring the boys too!

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