Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And so it goes...

Here we are, the last day of 2013. I'm really not one to get all retrospective, and actually this post may end up being a lot of rambling randomness. For me personally, 2013 was a pretty good year, and I'll take it because the previous three years saw some major shit go down. But 2013 did suck for a lot of people close to me, so I'm hopeful for 2014. Of course, life isn't puppies and rainbows, and bad things happen to good people and on and on. But for anyone reading this, I wish nothing but the best for you in the new year!


A couple weeks ago I did a post about some of my favorite things in 2013. While I'm sure I left out a lot, there were two things I wanted to be sure to mention. One of the best books I read was The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. If you somehow haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. And late in the year I became obsessed with this song:

Say Something (feat. Christina Aguilera) by A Great Big World on Grooveshark


Last weekend we had Christmas part 2 with my family. We went to Erie, PA to my brother's house. We decided it was Opposite Day because I got this:

It's a tagine, for cooking Moroccan food, and I've wanted to try it, but as we all know I'm not the cook in our house. Luckily I received a cookbook as well. I'll let you know how it goes. We had a great time hanging out with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephews (and their dog Munch), and I even have a family picture to share!

photo by Jackie


I dropped the ball on sending Christmas cards, even though I've had them since Halloween. Some of you still may get one in the mail, but if not, here's our holiday greeting.


Have a safe and enjoyable New Year's Eve, however you celebrate. Oh, and here's a little pet peeve of mine: it drives me nuts to see advertisements for parties that read "New Year's Eve 2014." NO, that will be 365 days from now. Anyway, we'll be getting together with neighbors and staying in the 'hood. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

He went to ...


This is my happy place:

Cheesecake Boutique on Lane Avenue in Columbus. Seriously, if I'm feeling down this is where I go. I feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when I'm there. The ladies just bring me clothes to try on and they are brilliant at choosing the right size (even for a good-sized girl like me). I was in there last week and bought a dress for our party and for Christmas Eve. Aaron went in looking for a present for me and just said "I'm Gwen's husband" and Lori immediately pulled out this dress and said "this is what you're getting." Boom.

But wait, there's more! Aaron kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas and I said that I wanted tickets to see Sting with Paul Simon during their upcoming tour. Problem is, they're not playing anywhere super close to Columbus. But in my stocking was a big Hershey bar and inside the wrapping, a la Willy Wonka, were two tickets to the show in Hershey, PA in March!

Also in my stocking:

He's a pretty good gift giver. I think I'll keep him.

We spent Christmas Day with Aaron's family in northern Kentucky. It was a lovely day and it's such fun with the young nieces.

And after the full day of presents, candy, shrimp cocktail, gymnastics and other fun and games:

Lauren (13) Julia (8) Kate (5)

I know that for a lot of you, Christmas is over. Not so for us. We'll have Christmas with my family this weekend so check back on Monday for that.

Also, today my girl Erin is talking about themes for 2014. You can read about mine in her post here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Merry!

To all of my lovely readers 

Merry Christmas !

Monday, December 23, 2013

Party All The Time

I have a serious case of the Mondays. Thank God it's a short work week. Last night we had every intention of getting to bed early but we went to our neighbors' house for our usual Sunday Night Wind Down and got sucked into The Sound of Music (Julie Andrews version). Then I didn't sleep well thanks to a nasty cough. Then I realized that my mouse bit the dust and I'm not about to use the touchpad on the laptop. And of course I still have some shopping to do This all adds up to a late post.

This was a party weekend. Friday night we had a party at our house. I haven't done the final count yet but I wouldn't be surprised if I found out there were 100 people here. It was crazy, but crazy fun too!

I freakin' love these wreaths, courtesy of my friend Bart and
Flourish bespoke floral and event styling

The infamous meat tree! (Thanks to Cafe del Mondo.)

Bart also surprised me with this gorgeous centerpiece.

Garage crowd

Outside view of the house

Our fun new wreath

I wore this gorgeous new dress but then didn't get
any pictures of myself. I know, I suck.

The next day:

I think we're set on wine for a little while.
The cats (and I) needed naps after all the excitement.

It's such a fun party and it's really cool when we bring together people from different areas of our life. And sometimes we discover connections between people whom we didn't know knew each other! (That's an awkward sentence but I just can't be bothered with fixing it.) This year I actually mailed out real invitations because not everyone is on Facebook and Evite has let me down in the past, but it seems that short of hand delivering invitations to everyone, there's no foolproof way to make sure everyone gets an invitation. And inevitably I end up forgetting someone. So, sorry if that happened to you. Love ya, mean it.

Saturday night we had three parties to hit and we decided we had to do all or nothing. We made it to all three of them and it was a late night but we had such a good time hanging out with three completely different groups of people.

Sunday we did our church thing, then it was time to face the music and clean up the house. Thankfully the cleaning lady is coming today to really take care of business but we still had work to do. And then there was napping. And football. And the aforementioned Sound of Music. And this:

PS #1 - Have you heard that Marla has been nominated as a Hilarious Health Activist? Click here to vote for her. Please and thank you!

PS #2 - I've stayed away from this Duck Dynasty BS. You all should know where I stand, but I think we're all missing the real controversy which is: what the hell is Phil Robertson doing in GQ in the first place?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Everyday Makeup

This here's one of those girly-girl posts that I occasionally do. When I posted my 2013 favorite things I was going to include favorite beauty products but eventually decided to give those their own post. So I was thinking of my five favorite products (because five seems like a good number) and then I realized that those five together pretty much sum up my everyday look. And by "everyday" I mean every day that I actually leave the house. Just so we're clear.

1. Dior - Diorskin Nude BB Creme (in Medium 003). If you ask me "what's the difference between foundation and BB Creme?" I'll say "I have no freakin' clue." And I'll admit that this shit is expensive. But last summer while at Sephora, one of their associates put this on me (although it was the tan version then) I kinda fell in love. It gives me good coverage without being too thick and heavy.

2. Benefit - Brow Zings (in Medium). This stuff lasts forever; believe me, because I'm obsessed with defining my eyebrows so I use this every day and I've had it for probably a year. The left side is kind of waxy and the right side is more powdery. Sometimes I only use the waxy side and it works perfectly well on its own.

3. Maybelline - Falsies Big Eyes mascara (in Brownish Black). Here I'm going with drugstore product. I feel like I'm on an eternal quest for mascara, and even when I first tried this one I was skeptical. There are two wands; one for upper lashes and one for lower, and I felt like even the upper lashes brush was pretty thin. But it really extends my lashes and (most importantly) I don't get smudges under my eyes like I seem to with most mascaras.

4. Dior - Dior Addict Lipstick (in Rock 'n Roll). I know, I know. Another expensive item. I never would have picked this shade for myself but I love it. It's got a little shimmer and it's the only lipstick that Aaron has EVER complimented me on (without prompting). Ever. That's over 26 years, people. Damn straight I'm buying it.

5. Kevin Murphy - Undressed paste for hair. I get this at the salon. I tried to find it on Amazon but they had it listed at $64.99 and I promise I don't pay THAT much for it. I don't know what the hell that's about. Anyway, I use this on my hair after it's dry and it defines my curls and defrizzes and softens and ... it's fabulous.

So ... I took before and after pictures and I'm going to show them to you but I must apologize for the quality of these pictures. Quite frankly, they suck, but I think you can still get the idea. The only difference between the two pictures is the above products.

There you have it. I do generally add a touch of blush but that would be six products, not five, and I don't have a favorite blush. Any recommendations?

And to link up with Whitney, here's an appropriate tune:

Glamorous Life by Sheila E. on Grooveshark

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things - 2013

If my friend Steph is hosting a linkup, I'm in (unless it's about cleaning and organizing...or recipes). But today is all about favorite things of 2013. And -- how convenient! -- Helene is doing a linkup of best songs of 2013 so I can kill two birds with one stone.

(These are only new or new-to-me shows.)
  • The Blacklist (NBC)
  • The Newsroom (HBO)
  • Homeland (Showtime)
  • The Americans (FX)
  • Witches of East End (Lifetime) - this one is a total guilty pleasure!

(I haven't seen many movies lately; I usually wait until January to do a lot of that.)
  • Argo
  • Lincoln
  • 42
  • Girl Rising
  • Enough Said

(This is pathetic. I was a bad book reader this year, and it's funny that two of the three are non-fiction, which I rarely read. I'm not a resolution makER but I think I'll have to resolve to read more.)
  • Recipe for Joy - by my friend Robin Davis
  • Reconstructing Amelia - by Kimberly McCreight
  • I Am Malala - by Malala Yousafszai

(Again, some of these aren't new to 2013, but that's when I became obsessed with them.)
  • "Same Love" - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • "Brave" - Sara Bareilles
  • "Bottom of the River" - Delta Rae
  • "Wings" - Little Mix
  • "Sure on This Shining Night" - Conspirare 
  • "Next to Me" - Emeli Sande
  • "Some Nights" - Fun
  • Wake Me Up" - Avicii
  • "This Kind of Love" - Sister Hazel
  • "It's Time" - Imagine Dragons
  • "No Day But Today" - Idina Menzel 

  • I started my new job after working at my previous job for 16 years.
  • We welcomed some brand new framily members: Rylie, Cooper and Lauren!
  • This was the year that I put more into my blog, which allowed me to meet new friends. And I even got to meet two in person when I visited Steph in November!
Steph, Brie, Me, Marla
  • We went to Europe on a choir tour with some of our best friends, and I gained a new close friend, Kat.

A lot of people close to me had some shitty things happen this year, so I'm grateful to look at the positives of 2013. I hope you all had some favorite things during the year. Happy Gwensday!

That's What She Read
Helene in Between

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tell All Tuesday

Ah, the procrastination monster is hot on my heels. Seriously, Christmas is next week? (Ooo, but it is on a Gwensday so there's that.)

Our weekend was fun and busy. We had our church Christmas concert Sunday. If you're interested, you can watch it here. (And if you go to 24:15 in Part One and watch for about 3 minutes, you can see/hear me sing solo.)

Friday night we went to Bob's Bar where the Columbus Brewing Company (you know, my employer) had a tap takeover Christmas party. One of the beers was a super dark stout called Steel Dawn. Aaron calls it "The Stopper."

I still have some house decorating to do. We do have the trees up, which the cats are trying their hardest to dismantle. But then they look so damn cute. I really do think Bella poses; she's such a diva. Wonder where she gets that?

Are y'all watching The Voice? Tonight they announce the winner. I'm OK with either Jacquie or Tessanne (I don't think Will has a chance). I'm guessing that Tessanne will win; she's #1 on iTunes again this week.

How about The Sing Off? I was bummed last week when Street Corner Renaissance went home so early. These dudes are way older than the rest of the groups and they did a One Direction song the first week. And they rocked it! Regardless, I really like this show because I love a capella music and because the judges are awesome. They give real, constructive criticism.

OK, I must sign off now and get some shit done, but I knew I had to post today to link up with my girl Marla, who's co-hosting Tell All Tuesdays this week! I'll be back tomorrow with some of my favorite things of 2013.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Yippee-ki-yay, Mofos!

This post originally appeared on Friday, December 13, 2013 (hence the reference below).

Horray for Friday! I'm not the superstitious type. I scoff at Friday the 13th. I've had two black cats and I'll probably always have a black cat. Anyway... that's not my topic today so let's move on.

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Die Hard Whenever I'm asked what my favorite Christmas movie is, my answer is Die Hard (Aaron prefers Die Hard 2, probably because of all the snow). I'm not kidding. Bruce Willis saves Christmas! Well, except for Mr. Takagi and sleazeball Harry. This movie also introduced American moviegoers to the brilliance of Alan Rickman. Hans Gruber = best villain ever.

Favorite quotes:
"I'm Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson ... no relation."
"Want a breath mint?"
"Happy trails, Hans."
And of course, "yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker."

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Sorry to my boyfriend Dylan McDermott, but I can't get behind the 1994 remake. Nothing tops Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle and young Natalie Wood as that brat Susie who ends up believing. And how smooth is Mr. Gailey when he uses the Post Office as proof that Santa exists. Little does he know it was some schmo in the dead letter department who thinks "what a fun prank" and sends all the Santa letters to the courthouse.

Favorite quotes:
"Your Santa Claus is intoxicated." (clip here)
"Susan, I speak French but that doesn't make me Joan of Arc."
"The district attorney's a Republican."
"Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to."

Christmas Vacation  I have to be honest: it took me a while to like this movie. I always felt bad for Clark and hated that he got shit on when he was just trying to give his family a good Christmas. But it's one of Aaron's favorites and after watching it 794 times, I've come to appreciate it and even enjoy it. I drew the line, however, when Aaron wanted to name our female cat "Cousin Eddie." 

Favorite quotes:
(Obviously) "Shitter was full!"
"Eddie, if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now."
"I'm sorry, this is our family's first kidnapping."

A Christmas Story
My dad had never seen this movie until one year on the TNT marathon. And then he went to the basement and brought out his very own Red Ryder BB Gun.

Favorite quotes:
"My kid brother looked like a tick about to pop."
"I triple-dog dare you!"
"Only I didn't say 'fudge' ... I said the queen mother of dirty words."
"Fra-jee-lay. Must be Italian."

Love Actually I can seriously watch this movie over and over (and I do). I think my favorite storyline is the one with Jamie and Aurelia, but that could change tomorrow. I love the soundtrack, I love the cast. Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and look! There's Alan Rickman again. AND did you know that Chiwetel Ejiofor, now headed for an Oscar nom for 12 Years a Slave played Kiera Knightley's husband AND Andrew Lincoln, currently in a lead role on The Walking Dead, played his best friend who was in love with Kiera Knightley? And the kid who played Sam is now 23 and is on Game of Thrones

Here's a little quiz to determine which Love Actually character you are. I got Mia, and my results said "Yuck. She's the worst. Feel free to take this quiz again." So I did, and this time I got Juliet - "You like pie, you can't take a hint, and you're a hot commodity in the love department."

I can't believe I never noticed how many turtlenecks are in this movie. Here you can see a ranking of the turtlenecks. It's quite hilarious.

Favorite quotes:
"Just in cases..."
"There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?" "DUH."
"Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love."
"I did have an awful premonition that I was going to fuck up on the first day."

In honor of Die Hard, here's a little ditty to get you in the holiday spirit.

And now, you'll have to excuse me while I go re-watch some of these. What are your favorite Christmas movies?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gwen Coco's List of No-Nos - Holiday Edition

It's now less than two weeks until Christmas. Eep. I've done a lot of online shopping, but truthfully I enjoy going out and shopping in "real life," especially when I can do it in the middle of the day on a Gwensday. Yesterday I ventured out and while I had a good experience, I did come up with some new pet peeves (you can also read Part One and Volume Two). And so, I present:

When parking, if you stalk me for my parking spot and I can clearly see other available spaces, I WILL take my sweet time leaving. I might even just put my shopping bags in the car and go back to the mall.

The 12 days of Christmas really refer to the 12 days after Christmas, not the days before Christmas. I get that it's a good ploy for retailers to use the days leading up to Christmas for sales and such, but it's not right. However, there's a fun little ditty popular with high school choirs (mine did it, which tells you how old it is) which twists around the song. It starts "the first day after Christmas, my true love and I had a fight / and so I chopped the pear tree down and burned it just for spite."

Dear nieces and nephews, if I don't get a list from you, you're getting clothes. Sorry 'bout your luck.

While I love listening to the local radio station 103.5, which plays 70s, 80s and 90s, when the temperature outside is this:

it's just cruel and unusual punishment to play this:

The Boys of Summer by Don Henley on Grooveshark

And just for fun, not a pet peeve but I thought this was fantastic:

Happy Friday Eve!