Married to the Empire

Friday, December 28, 2007

Playing with my new camera

You'll just have to bear with me here. I've been slow to update because I've been busy with typical after-Christmas stuff, such as playing with Steven's new Wii that my parents gave him! Never thought I'd actually enjoy video games of any sort. I'm now on a quest to find a copy of Dance Dance Revolution, which apparently sold out with all those Wiis that no one could find for Christmas.

I've also been (slowly) learning how to use my new camera. It has all sorts of interesting features, such as letting you color in a subject and make all the background black-and-white. I'm still a major novice with this thing, but I hope to eventually have better pictures here.

Anyway, bear with me as I play around with a few pictures I took on it, including one of myself in the bathroom mirror. This camera is so amazing because it totally adjusted itself to allow for taking a picture in a mirror without the flash or whatever. Pretty cool!

Oh, and a picture of THE best cake in the world: Apple Stack Cake! This was my birthday cake, which we ate after Christmas dinner. My mom only made half a cake because there were only going to be 4 of us there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Stormtroopers on TV

The guys filmed a bunch of TV promos at WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas at the beginning of the month. It finally aired last Friday. Someone posted their portion of the show on YouTube. You can see it here. Enjoy!

The after-Christmas lull

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas filled with friends, family, and the celebration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We had a lovely Christmas here in our little part of Texas. Steven was off work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so we had a nice, relaxing little holiday.

Just thought I'd leave you with a few images of Christmas at our home. Our Christmas tree all lit up on Christmas Eve (yes, we are colored-light people):

The cats enjoying their new scratching post (catnip-infused scratching posts are a very good thing!):

Steven enjoying his new graphic novel, Marvel Zombies v. Army of Darkness:

Apart from doing laundry today, I'll be spending a little time with the manual for my new, pink digital camera (with a pink carrying case!). These are the last of my photos from our old camera. Hopefully I'll be able to post new pics from my pretty new camera by tomorrow!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stormtroopers on Channel 8 tonight

The stormtroopers filmed a bunch of promo shots at WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas on December 1st. That will finally air tonight. If you're in Dallas-Fort Worth or just happen to get Dallas stations where you live, it's on at 8pm tonight. The show is called The Photographers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Letters to Santa

I'm short on time lately for multiple reasons, so I decided that today's post would simply lead you to some fun reading. The Dallas Morning News today published several local kids' letters to Santa. They range from cute and sweet to heartbreaking to laugh-out-loud funny. There's a kid demanding an elf for Christmas, and another kid who tries hard to proselytize Santa. Enjoy!

Birthday celebration

My parents took us out to dinner Wednesday night to celebrate my birthday. It's not until the 25th, but because it's on Christmas, we always do it early. We ate at my favorite restaurant: Pappadeaux.

Steven had ordered my gift and had it sent to his parents' house. I guess he went to pick it up that day because he had it with him at the restaurant. He said he hopes I'm in support of breast cancer. I gave him a very bewildered look, and he pointed out my gift.

He said his mom had asked about what paper he wanted it wrapped in. He told her that I like pink. She told him that she found some great paper with pink ribbons all over it. Apparently, she has no idea that those little pink ribbons stand for breast-cancer support. We all got a good laugh over that.

Since I'm usually the one behind the camera, you'll get a rare look at me. Steven snapped this as I was opening his present:

When we got home, Steven set about putting my present together. The cats busied themselves by playing in the box it came in:

My present all put together and set into place:

Isn't it cute? It's the only thing I asked Steven for. My other record player was part of a giant stereo I got when I went to college over 15 years ago. The CD changer was long dead and gone, and the speakers were big and ugly. I wanted something smaller and more stylish. I just love the retro 50s look!

My husband is so sweet!

Gift wrap central

Sorry I've been slow to update around here. Things have just been super busy. Typical Christmas stuff, plus a minor plumbing issue that took up a good chunk of my Tuesday.

I finally got around to wrapping gifts. I always set aside a few hours in a day to take care of this task. I drag everything out into the living room and set up in front of the TV. Usually I pop in a Christmas movie, but now that we have cable, I just watched a movie that was on.

I like to use my cutting board as a nice, flat surface, but I can't just put it out and get to work. My little feline helpers are always anxious to play first. They love the cutting board because it can be set up to make tunnels. Whenever it comes out, they mill around anxiously until their tunnels are set up. It's easiest to just do it and let them get it out of their systems, then I can get to work.

And did I mention they like to "help?"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Giving and receiving

Gifts are on most of our minds at this time of year. We think hard about what to give, and if we're honest, we think about what we'll receive, too.

I'm not usually too into gift exchanges at parties, though. To be perfectly frank, I tend to think they're a colossal waste of money. No one really needs (another) $10 trinket. But, sometimes we participate just to go along and not make waves.

The women's ministry at our church had a big Christmas party Sunday night. We were to bring a $10 gift of something that relaxes us. That was open to personal interpretation. Steven said I should give an ice pack and a heating pad, but those are migraine-survival tools for me, and I didn't think they'd really go over all that well at a gift exchange. Instead, I decided to give something that truly represents my tools of relaxation: reading and writing. I wound up making this journal:

I think it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself! I hooked a mechanical pencil through the ribbons that tie it shut. I paired this with a gift card to Barnes & Noble so the recipient could choose her own books.

In addition to a gift for the gift-exchange game, we were to bring a gift for a baby whose mother is in need of assistance. I was told she needed some toys, but I chose to give board books instead. The English teacher in me is all about instilling an early love of reading. These are the ones I gave:

The gorilla one has become my favorite baby book to give. The illustrations are great, and it's a really cute little story. I just loved the rhymes in the other book.

And last, but certainly not least, I wanted to show off a special gift that came to my door on Saturday. I've been trying to cook more vegetarian meals for Steven's health, and I finally became brave enough to try some Indian cooking a few weeks ago, thanks to a sweet gift of spices from my blogging friend Annie. In spite of the fact that I always said I didn't like Indian food (bad restaurant experience years ago), I really enjoyed the meal I made with Annie's spices. So, because I liked that meal, my dear friend Judy in New York sent me a box positively brimming with goodies for Indian cooking!

She sent me a basic cookbook, which is perfect for me as I'm a complete novice with Indian cooking, several of her favorite recipes, and tons of spices. I can hardly wait to try this stuff out! Steven is looking forward to it, too, because he loves Indian food. A huge THANK YOU to Judy for this wonderful gift!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas with friends

Friday night we celebrated Christmas with our regular social group. Steven and I have no children, and amazingly there are several other couples at our church who are childless. Even more amazing is that we've bonded with all of them, and we're all great friends! The Lord truly answered a big prayer for us 6 years ago when we found this church. (Not that we're against being with people with kids, but when you have none of your own, your lifestyle tends to be a bit different.)

We spent the evening at the home of Sandy and Glenn, our Canadian friends. We have 4 other couples with whom we hang out, and all of us were able to make it last night.

Karen and Dan:

Marylou (with Thunder the Cat):

Marylou, John, Glenn, and Stan:

Michelle fell asleep by the fire (I just love this picture!):

Sandy with Sable the Masked Bandit:

I tried getting a picture of Sable with that bow around her neck. She looked so pretty, but she squirmed so much that the picture came out blurry. What did turn out, though, is a little more true-to-life: cat desperate to get out of bow around neck.

These are the wonderful people who received all that bread I baked on Friday.

Oh, one last picture. This was just too sweet a photo op not to take the picture. Thunder Cat under the Christmas tree:

Marathon bread-baking session

Years ago when we first married, Steven and I decided that at Christmas, we'd pretty much just spend money on family. Friends would get homemade gifts. It just gets too expensive to buy gifts for everyone we love.

So my annual Christmas gift to our friends is homemade bread. I shy away from cookies and the like because people are inundated with sweets at this time of year. I discovered a few years ago that I really enjoy baking bread (and I'm pretty good at it, too, if I do say so myself), so I give out bread for Christmas. It's always very well received.

Friday was a marathon baking session with 3 different types of bread to be made.

I made 18 mini loaves of pumpkin bread and 2 large loaves (not pictured):

Twelve loaves of raspberry-glazed mini lemon-cornmeal loaves:

Four loaves of wheat bread:

I packaged them all up and used kitchen labels from Martha Stewart's craft line at Michael's:

The really nice thing is that if our friends aren't ready to eat it now, it all freezes well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Those reindeer, er, kitty cat games

Christmas brings all sorts of excitement for our cats. They really have no concept of presents, even though they have an adorable stocking of their own that will be filled with some toys and maybe a can of tuna.

Their excitement comes from having a Christmas tree in the living room.

No, they don't climb it. (We broke Doogie of that habit his first Christmas through the use of the Evil Bicycle Horn. Great cat discipline tool!) They hide under it. They think it's great for games of chase or fishing pole. They can hide under it, then mount a surprise attack.

But they also enjoy for their toys to hide under the tree skirt. Here they're enjoying a game of catnip fish:

You can see their intense focus, as they are aware that their fishy is under the tree skirt.

Doogie going after it:

Calvin readying himself to mount an attack:

Of course, sometimes we have problems with the tree. Like the year I accidentally smacked their fishing pole into the tree, Calvin took a leap after it, landed in the tree, and knocked out a bunch of ornaments, breaking one in the process. Or things like last night's mishap where Doogie threw up near the tree skirt, then Calvin walked by and proceeded to bury it under the skirt, making an even greater mess for me to clean up.

Life with cats is always interesting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas preparations

Sorry for the lack of updates. We had a youth-group retreat all weekend, which was a lot of fun, but utterly exhausting. Sleep never seems to be scheduled into these things!

I have a lot of stuff to do to prepare for Christmas, and I lost the whole weekend for working on projects, so Monday was spent frantically trying to get some of it done. I have to get my sister's family's gifts in the mail TODAY. I'm just hoping that they'll arrive in London in time for Christmas morning!

A picture of some of what I've been working on:

And even though I vowed last year that I would never make my own Christmas cards again, I find myself breaking that vow. Funny how a year's time can make the memory fuzzy about what a pain something was!

But at least the house is decorated, and most of the gifts are already bought. I've still got tons to do, but it could certainly be worse!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Homemade ornaments... Star Wars style!

A couple of years ago I purchased Martha Stewart's Homemade Holidays DVD. I'm a die-hard Martha fan, and this DVD is great! I was entranced by the clothespin ornaments on the DVD, so I set about making them. I followed her patterns quite closely for the Victorian people and Santa and Mrs. Claus. (Sorry for the not-great-quality pics. I'm not very good with this camera.)

I made several and gave pairs away as gifts. Each of my nieces received a set in little boxes to keep forever. I love being able to pass on things like that!

Steven was so impressed with how my ornaments turned out that he asked if I could make some Star Wars ones for him. It was a challenge I felt up to taking. Because I had tiny little balls for making buns for Mrs. Claus's hair, I figured I could just roll them in brown paint (you know where I'm going with this, don't you?). A little leather could work for a gun holster and belt...

And here you have it: Princess Leia and Han Solo!

Steven wants a stormtrooper, too. Not sure how to do that one...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Outing myself a bit

I've decided to start using our real names here. My blog will still be Ewokgirl, as will any comments I leave on other blogs, but I'll let you know my real name. And Ruf's. My reason for this is probably silly, but I'll be including my blog address in my Christmas letter this year. My blog is the best way for friends and family to keep up with our lives. I just really didn't want to have to explain to everyone why I use the nicknames here that I do.

So, without further ado...

My name is Anne Marie, and Ruf's name is Steven. From here on out, I'll be using our real names when I update here.

But our last name will remain safely anonymous.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Homemade fleece cat

My youngest niece is about to turn 4, and I decided to make her a kitty cat for Christmas. My sewing skills are pretty undeveloped, but I figured I could manage this project. And I was pleased to find out that I was right!

I think it turned out quite well. I bought this book a year or two ago at Half-Price Books for less than $5. It has tons of animal-related craft projects in it, and I got the pattern for the cat out of it. I have plenty of fleece leftover, so after Christmas, I'm thinking that I may make some more cats as baby gifts (but I'll replace the button eyes with fabric). This wound up being a fairly easy and fun thing to make. I just hope she likes it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Filming promos for WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas

The stormtroopers were invited by WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas to come to their downtown studio and film some promos that will be shown here in Dallas on December 18, 2007 at 9pm. Something about the future of television with shots of the Empire taking over the studio. The guys had a blast doing this. I took a TON of pictures, but I'll just show you a few highlights.

Princess Leia manning the news desk, with 2 Imperial Officers standing menacingly over her:

Stormtroopers taking over the cameras:

Imperial Officers having a laugh over the Imperial takeover:

Jango Fett doing the weather:

The troops marching down the newsroom hallway:

Serious and silly group shots:

Neiman-Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade 2007

The Neiman-Marcus Adolphus Children's Parade in downtown Dallas is an annual tradition down here. Apart from being a pretty big parade that is nationally televised, it supports a great cause. The parade raises money for the Children's Medical Center of Dallas. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures taken at this year's parade.

The Chick-fil-A cows were a big hit. Apart from being really cute and a great ad campaign, they were personable with their dancing, working the crowd, and posing for pictures with kids.

Spiderman and the Green Goblin:

My personal favorite group. You should have heard the crowd yelling, "Star Wars!" so enthusiastically. Kids and adults were thrilled to see this group, which made me feel proud to be a stormtrooper wife.

I just love the Hardin-Simmons Cowboy Band. They have fun uniforms and a distinctive shuffle that they do when they march.

Hello Kitty balloon (notice the Dallas skyline behind her head):

Looney Tunes (personally, I've never been a fan, but I do realize that I'm in the minority):

Cinderella and her pumpkin coach. Kids who have received treatment at Children's Medical Center of Dallas had the privilege of riding in the parade. The article from The Dallas Morning News about the parade has a cute part about the little girl who rode with Cinderella. I got a kick out of it.

Captain Jack Sparrow had the unseemly job of Pooper Scooper behind parade horses. That just struck me as so very funny!

Finally, a few miscellaneous pictures I just happen to like: