Christmas in Maryland

Catch-up travel blogging from Christmas week.

After work on Tuesday night, the Hubby and I boarded a flight from Minneapolis to Baltimore, Maryland. My mom picked us up at BWI at 11:00pm (My mom is pretty awesome) and drove us to Hagerstown through some seriously thick fog; I kept my eyes shut for quite a few parts of the the hour-long trip. We made it home without incident and hit the sack almost before the front door was locked.

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Christmas in Maryland

Holiday Office Party

Hi everybody!

drnick

 

The days and nights have been just packed. I’ve had no time for catching up on current events or really having much of a life, and so no blogging. It’s been a whirlwind of holiday cooking, shopping, wrapping, and decorating.

Today is the office holiday potluck! Last night I diced 10 tomatoes, eight limes, two onions, chopped two bunches of cilantro, smashed an entire bulb of garlic, and slow-cooked eight pounds of carnitas overnight. The house smelled really good this morning.

The four of us who share an office have decorated it to the nines for the cube decorating contest. Live tree and all, yo. People are really getting in to it this year. I spent an hour on Sunday making ornaments (images of our company’s products taped onto ornaments), my officemate made garland out of expired plastic labware over the weekend, we saw one of our coworkers carrying a surge protector to his cube, and another guy brought in a working electric train set. Unfortunately I can’t post photos of the cube decorations because there’s too much confidential paperwork in the background of all the shots, but believe me when I say that it is a fabulously festive office environment this year.

I can share this photo:

Ugly Sweater Contest
My “Ugly Sweater Contest” entry. Once seen, it can never be unseen.

Happy holidays to those of you who celebrate!

Holiday Office Party

Gangland Turkey Killing

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate the holiday! I have a few odds and ends for today’s post, and then I’m getting back to the party!

Things are all a-flurry in the Bilyeu-Hubby family households. Over the past two days I have made gluten-free mincemeat pie, Mom’s made cranberry sauce, many board games have been played, and much 12-year Glenlivet has been drunkified.

I’m hosting Atheists Talk on Sunday. You can listen live at 9am CST when we interview Dr. Ivan R. Schwab about his new book Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved.  I can already tell this interview is going to be a blast; in 2006 Dr. Schwab won an Ig Nobel award in ornithology and he wore a giant, red woodpecker hat for his acceptance speech! Silly + Science Talk sounds like a good reason to wake up early on a Sunday to me! If you listen live, remember that you can always call or email us with questions during the show. We love that. Doooo eeet!

Here’s a little holiday-themed stupidness that my brain did when I was glancing at the newspaper yesterday:

Of course, the image is associated with the article beneath it, but at first glance I thought Thanskgiving had gotten really weird this year. Considering the seriousness of the first story, I have to say that’s some odd article formatting, Star Tribune.

Here are links to the first, very not-funny story about a gang feud in St. Paul, and to the second story about the weird not-really-a-pardon-more-of-a-stay-of-execution for the turkey named Bipartisan. 

And with that I’m back to the holiday chaos!  Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend!

Gangland Turkey Killing

Vote No: Halloween Edition

This lovely household in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis has taken the Minnesota Vote No to Marriage Inequality campaign down a wonderfully thematic path:

Photo shows a front yard with Halloween decorations: spray-painted foam/cardboard/wood gravestones, plastic pumpkin trick-or-treat buckets. The centerpiece is two life-size skeleton ghouls dressed in white under a “wedding” trellis, with two ghouls as attendants. In front of them is the Minnesotans United for All Families orange “Vote No: Don’t Limit The Freedom To Marry” yard sign. In the background is a huge hand-made sign that says “VOTE NO” in string lighting on a wood frame.

Don’t limit the freedom of ghouls to marry!

Photo shows the entire front yard in all of it’s Halloweened glory.

The idea that this amendment might pass makes for a very scary story, indeed.

Vote No: Halloween Edition

Hey – he just woke up!

Jesus is getting his butt kicked in Mario Kart this morning. He must be feeling a little groggy, what with that dying and getting resurrected and all.

On a completely unrelated note: Does anyone know why Google doesn’t have a Doodle for Easter today? The only thing I found on the About section of Google Doodles is “The doodle selection process aims to celebrate interesting events and anniversaries that reflect Google’s personality and love of innovation.” They doodle based on location (different doodles for different countries), so I would have though US Google would create something for the Christians in the audience. They have done non-religious Christmas Doodles. Trust me, I’m not complaining, just pleasantly surprised to find godiness quietly absent from the Google front page.

Hey – he just woke up!

Cross-Country Connections: Together

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Together.

This week is a little bit different. First – it’s late. Last Friday the Hubby and I left on holiday and didn’t get home until Tuesday. I started editting photos yesterday, and finally have my #$%@ together for CCC today.

This year we drove down to Woodstock, Illinois for the third annual Christmas Gathering At Aunt Leigh’s House. Aunt Leigh has a beautiful house with lots of rooms – enough to put up 14 of us on our busiest night!

Second, Mom, Erin and I didn’t take photos. Instead, we had the Hubby take a group photo of the three of us. We brought the CCC gang to one living room in a completely new location.

From Mom, me and Erin in Woodstock, Illinois:

Mom, me and Erin in front of the Christmas tree in Aunt Leigh’s living room.

And one more bonus shot. I was pleased to have remembered my tripod (I’d be more pleased if I hadn’t forgotten it in Woodstock when we came home to Minneapolis). We were able to take a group shot of everyone who made it to Christmas this year.

First Row: Aunt Leigh, Cousin Haley, Uncle-in-Law Greg, Cousin Sidney, Aunt Diane, Grandma Betty, Mom
Second Row: Me, the Hubby Aaron, Brother-in-Law Ralph, Sister Erin

Leigh, Haley and Greg live in Woodstock. Sidney and Diane came up from Springfield, Illinois. Grandma Betty is from Vienna, Illinois. Mom is from Carbondale, Illinois. Me and the Hubby are from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ralph and Erin are from Bellingham, Washington.

Hooray for family, and for making these Cross-Country Connections in person.

Happy Holidays.

Cross-Country Connections: Together

Happy Easter Monday Floggings

Jana from Learn.Make.Think shares a story from her childhood in Slovakia. This is a short excerpt:

The days leading to the Easter weekend, us – the girls – spent scrubbing the house top to bottom; washing windows, dusting carpets, waxing floors, starching curtains and decorating both indoor and out before we got to “relax” in the kitchen. We had to dye  the eggs, bake Easter bread pudding and wrap all the gingerbread Easter bunnies my mom would make each year. Arranging them in baskets alongside all the chocolate eggs in colourful wrappers without being allowed to munch on any of them has always constituted child abuse in my eyes.

That, and what would traditionally happen on Easter Monday:

You see, the boys had only one task to complete on Easter weekend: take a walk to the woods, find a willow tree, select 8 longest, thinnest and the most flexible branches and braid them into a whip.

So that they could whip us.

Right before (or after, or both) they throw us into an ice-cold stream.  Or a pond. Or a bathtub. All because they have our well-being at heart. After all, according to a tradition dating back to pagan days, the cold water strengthens our health while being whipped with willow braids full of fresh sap is supposed to make us more fertile.

Jana tells her story with a sad humor and intersperses the hard words with lovely pictures of her colorful painted Easter eggs. It’s a heck of a read.

Read the whole story at Jana’s blog.

Happy Easter Monday Floggings

Hello, 2011.

Here’s hoping you all had a great time last night, and that you made it safely into 2011.

The Hubby and I had a lame and lovely New Year’s Eve.  Neither of us felt like finding a party, and with the weather being all nasty it wasn’t that big of a stretch to decide to stay in.  We started watching the TV miniseries of Dune with William Hurt, had leftovers for dinner (‘cuz who wants to eat 2010 leftovers in 2011???), and we went to bed at 11:38pm.

This morning we have no hangovers, we woke up at a decent hour, I was motivated to make yummy frittata, and the Hubby was motivated to eat yummy frittata!

Happy New Year!

And in the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new” check out this AWESOME video that I found on Facebook via Being A Geek last night.  It’s about death, dying, cataclysms and the amazing fact that life on this planet has survived for so long, in spite of said death, dying and cataclysms.

 

Hello, 2011.

Aaaaand, We’re Back!

How’s everyone’s vacation going?  I didn’t have easy access to wireless for my laptop over the last week, thus no new blog posts.  But y’all had better things to do than read my ramblings anyway, so we’ll just wipe our hands of that last week and pick it up where we left off.

I know that I have had a lovely time with family over the past week, and the Hubby and I took this entire week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work, so we’ve got another four days of stay-cation in Minneapolis.  We briefly considered doing a runaway last minute Thursday-Sunday deal down to someplace warm and sunny.  You know, pack a swimsuit, some flippy-floppies, the passports, a few pairs of underwear and just go lay on a beach for the next couple of days.  But after writing out the January rent check and tallying the Christmas spending…well…I may be able to squeeze in a trip to the indoor water park near the Mall of America

We’re going to run out and get some yummy gluten-free Original Pancake House for breakfast, and then today is Returns/Exchanges Day:

Technically, my duplicate Doubt has already been “returned”, which is why there is only one copy in the picture above, but there is a fun story associated with it.  My Mom, who gave me the second copy, thought it looked interesting and had started reading the first chapter before she wrapped it up.  When I opened it on Christmas day and gave her the half-amused, half-apologetic “Someone already gave me this” look, she eagerly took it back and said “Oh good!  I want to read this anyway.”  I think we ended up bartering a red sweater and some crazy expensive socks* for the book.

When we get back later today, I promise there will be a full accounting of all of the nerdy/geeky Christmas presents that I raked in this holiday – oh and there are some doozies!  Also, I took over 300 pictures in the Museum of Science and Industry on Tuesday’s day trip to Chicago, so after I pare those down I’ll share that adventure.

Happy Holidays!

~~~~~

*Who pays $17 for a pair of socks, Muh-ther?  This “smartwool” better be able to do differential equations.

Aaaaand, We’re Back!

Aaaaand, We're Back!

How’s everyone’s vacation going?  I didn’t have easy access to wireless for my laptop over the last week, thus no new blog posts.  But y’all had better things to do than read my ramblings anyway, so we’ll just wipe our hands of that last week and pick it up where we left off.

I know that I have had a lovely time with family over the past week, and the Hubby and I took this entire week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work, so we’ve got another four days of stay-cation in Minneapolis.  We briefly considered doing a runaway last minute Thursday-Sunday deal down to someplace warm and sunny.  You know, pack a swimsuit, some flippy-floppies, the passports, a few pairs of underwear and just go lay on a beach for the next couple of days.  But after writing out the January rent check and tallying the Christmas spending…well…I may be able to squeeze in a trip to the indoor water park near the Mall of America

We’re going to run out and get some yummy gluten-free Original Pancake House for breakfast, and then today is Returns/Exchanges Day:

Technically, my duplicate Doubt has already been “returned”, which is why there is only one copy in the picture above, but there is a fun story associated with it.  My Mom, who gave me the second copy, thought it looked interesting and had started reading the first chapter before she wrapped it up.  When I opened it on Christmas day and gave her the half-amused, half-apologetic “Someone already gave me this” look, she eagerly took it back and said “Oh good!  I want to read this anyway.”  I think we ended up bartering a red sweater and some crazy expensive socks* for the book.

When we get back later today, I promise there will be a full accounting of all of the nerdy/geeky Christmas presents that I raked in this holiday – oh and there are some doozies!  Also, I took over 300 pictures in the Museum of Science and Industry on Tuesday’s day trip to Chicago, so after I pare those down I’ll share that adventure.

Happy Holidays!

~~~~~

*Who pays $17 for a pair of socks, Muh-ther?  This “smartwool” better be able to do differential equations.

Aaaaand, We're Back!