Amanda Cade

Worth It! (Things to try, read, watch, hear, and discuss)

cats

National Cat Herders Day is actually tomorrow, but I have something else planned for tomorrow’s post, so I’m saluting chaos coordinators a day early. I’ve loved the expression “like herding cats” since the first time I heard it, and there are so many situations where it applies (my nieces’ birthday parties, my friends on a road trip, sometimes my team at work). So tomorrow we should all give a shout out and a thank you to the people we know who keep moving forward, and moving the rest of us along.

For your viewing pleasure, the Super Bowl 2000 commercial that gave us a visual for the simile:

Come to think of it, that commercial reminds meย wayย too much of my job on a busy day.

cats

Are you a “cat herder”? Do you have one in your life? Tell me all about it.

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During the holidays, I always plan a special day or evening with each of my three nieces. This year, when I asked four year old Carly what she wanted to do, she said, “Eat spaghetti”. I suggested several more unique activities, but she was set on spaghetti (like I said, she’s four). So last night we went to Cannoli’s, a family owned restaurant in north St. Louis County. I’ve been going there for years, but it was Carly’s first visit, and she always loves going somewhere new.

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The restaurant’s decor is designed to resemble an Italian street, so the walls are lined with “storefronts” that create a very homey and welcoming atmosphere (though Carly was disappointed that we couldn’t go inside), and the food and service are always great.

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We finished dinner with a cannoli, of course, and worked out an equitable arrangement where she ate 90% of the filling and I ate 90% of the shell. All in all, we had a wonderful time.

pasta last vista

Where are your favorite places to eat with friends and family?

That’s right: National Gingerbread House Day is a real thing, and how awesome is that? Making a gingerbread house was one of my new experience goals, but I have to admit I’ve had some difficulty pulling it off. My plan was to take a class with my sister Amy and one of my nieces, but you wouldn’t believe how quickly those classes fill up. We did find a place about forty minutes away that allows you to just walk in and build, but we’ve had scheduling conflicts and haven’t been able to make it out there yet.

Our next idea was to get a kit and try it without the assistance of professional help. When I totally forgot to order one, I ran to the store the morning they were supposed to come over, and managed to find a cookie house kit, which I decided was close enough. Then Amy had to cancel, which was a problem because my niece had her heart set on “making a house today“. So we decided that they would decorate their own house that evening, and the three of us would plan a different activity for later.

Of course, that left me with a cookie house kit and no one to build it with, so I called my friend Mike and we combined our total lack of artistic skills in the hope that two negatives would equal a positive. I’ll tell you that story on Sunday.

gingerbread house

Are you doing any holiday crafting or other bonding activities?

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Many organizations have one big holiday party, and call it good. Not my job. We have ugly sweater days, and gift exchanges at team meetings, and department parties, and whole staff potlucks…we love the holidays. I have a holiday event with one group after work today, and one during a meeting tomorrow morning, with several more next week. It’s a lot of fun, but also a lot of juggling.

I’m taking my own advice and trying keep it simple, such as doing a lot more buy-and-bring as opposed to bake-and-bring (especially since the high-pressure assignment is still going on, so my baking time is seriously limited). For today, I added a cheesecake sampler to last night’s grocery delivery, and grabbed some paper products left over from a birthday party a few months back (I always save the extras in ziploc bags so I can use them another time). For tomorrow, I volunteered to bring the donuts, since that only requires a five minute stop on my way to work. As the holiday season ramps up, I’m going for the low-stress options.

stockingHow is your holiday calendar shaping up? How are you keeping your to do list and obligations manageable?ย 

santa c

As usual, lots of people at work have been adding holiday decorations to their desks, shelves, doors, etc. I am no exception. However, my new favorite decoration (pictured above) has gotten some interesting reactions. The most common (as the post title implies) is “What is THAT?” Others include:

  • “Is that a frog? No, it has wings, and…tentacles?”
  • “I feel like it’s looking at me.”
  • “I’m not sure if that’s cute or concerning. Or both.”
  • “Um, have you considered something a little more…um…normal?”
  • “Is that from a movie…or a book…or…?”
  • “Seriously, can you put it away until I leave?”
  • “Oh, what a cute…whatever it is.”
  • “Omg, it’s Cthulhu Claus!”

That last one was from a colleague who’s totally on my wavelength when it comes to being a geek, and therefore correctly identified this super-cute interpretation of the horrific Great Old One from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu”. We then spent a very unproductive but insanely fun fifteen minutes looking at all the great Cthulhu Claus artwork online.

I might have to keep him around all year.

muahaha

Do you have/have you seen any offbeat holiday decorations?ย 

 

National Pastry Day is one of my favorite lesser-known holidays, for reasons I’m sure I don’t have to explain. Lol. I happen to be one of the luckiest sugar freaks in the world, because I live less than ten minutes away from the best donut shop in St. Louis (according to multiple media polls, and my personal opinion) and a fantastic bakery. Both are locally owned and operated by talented and incredibly nice people, and I’ve been a loyal customer since I moved back to St. Louis about sixteen years ago. This morning, I went to Helfer’s Pastries and spent almost ten minutes debating between dozens of wonderful options, before finally narrowing it down to a cinnamon roll or a caramel roll…

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…and then buying both. I’m not going to eat them both by myself. I promise.

snack attack (pastry)

Do you have a favorite pastry, bakery, and/or locally owned business?

 

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I’m really excited to have completed the first week of Blogmas! So far, I’ve posted:

Today, I wanted to share a new gift idea: a wallet sized laminated bookmark/card so easy to make that even I can do it! (As I’ve mentioned before, my craft skills are…questionable.) I’ve made about two dozen of these for various people, and each one cost me less than a dollar and didn’t take long at all.

Step One: Supplies

20191207_072919The key element of this project is a self adhesive laminating pouch. I used wallet size, and bought them from Amazon in packs of 10 (here’s a link if you want to take a look). They’re also available at office supply stores, and probably other places, and they have other sizes if you want to make something a little bigger. Other than that, all you need is a computer, printer, and paper. You could also hand write or draw, if that’s more to your taste, although using the computer definitely saves time in the long run (and is a lifesaver for those of us with limited artistic skill).

Step Two: Design

20191207_072824All you have to do is create a new document, insert a table, and set the row height and column width to fit inside the pouch. For wallet sized, I set the dimensions at 2.2 x 3.3 inches, which let me fit three on a page. Once that’s done, you can fill the space with whatever images, messages, etc. that you want. Each row in your table will become the front and back of one of your cards. For my nieces, I put a picture of us on the front and a personalized message on the back. For my sisters, there’s a picture and holiday message on one side and a list of favorite memories on the other. You can personalize it as much or as little as you want-there’s nothing wrong with using the same design for multiple people, or for everyone. I made five copies, for five of my friends, of the one pictured here. It has a general holiday message, and lines from a Matt Hart poem called “The Friend”.

Step Three: Assemble

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Print out your designs, and then carefully cut the rows apart. Fold each one in half, and then seal them in the pouch. It’s that easy!

Christmas chimney

Do you make any of your holiday gifts? What are some of your favorites to give or receive?