Dec 14

The Maristopher Annual Christmas Date

Every Christmas, Chris and I schedule a special date. The Christmas Date.

We generally have date night every Friday, but those are more casual and less planning goes into them. We know on Friday that we will be hungry, we won’t want to cook since it’s the end of the week, and that we’ll want a few beers. So we go to Chelino’s or Buffalo Wild Wings, generally. This isn’t to say that we don’t want to to go to other places. These places are just close by and give us lots of food and beer for our dollar and they’re super close to our house.

In the past, we’ve gone to Benvenuti’s, a really nice Italian place in downtown Norman, and we’ve gone for steak. We’ve looked at Christmas lights. Once we even did an eggnog tasting at home. (That was really gross.) But this year, we went with a more casual theme.

First, we stopped for pho at Pho Sooner near Campus Corner. We’d both been craving it recently, and it was a good, chilly night to have a spicy soup.

Then, we needed some beer. The Brewhouse is one of my favorite places in Norman. It’s a really casual place with lots of seating, pool tables, an expansive bar top, and all the TVs you need to catch EVERY possible sporting event. Many a Thunder playoff game has been watched here…

A few weeks ago, Chris and I were driving through Downtown Norman in separate cars. We had decided to meet at Lowe’s after work to pick up some paint and curtains, and I followed him home from there. While we drove down Main Street, I was struck by how pretty and done up it was for the holiday. I told him that when we finally got home. He was more struck by how terrible traffic is, and how he hates when people come to a complete stop before turning right, even if they have a green light.

Anyway, I knew I wanted a chance to take some pictures of the lights and some of the store fronts with their Christmas decorations, so we incorporated that into the evening. I appreciate that Chris humors me when I tell him I want to walk around aimlessly in the cold and dark. That’s true love.

We still had some time to kill before heading off to see some live music, so we stopped at the Abner Ale House, the place where we met on July 12, 2010. I was bartending. It was the Schneider pint night. Chris came in after the ruckus died down. Then enjoyed as I proceeded to make fun of a dude that wouldn’t shut up about soup. (Is it weird that we came here after eating soup earlier in the night? A little.)

After that, we headed to The Opolis for a Enchantment Under the Mistletoe, featuring Kyle Reid and the Low Swinging Chariots, as well as a whole gaggle of other local folks. There was a $10 suggested cover, with the proceeds going to the St. Michael’s Christmas Day community dinner, so it was totally worth it. And If I’m being honest, $10 for all the musicians that we got to see is beyond a good deal. I had me a hot apple cider with bourbon, and pretty much spent the rest of the evening swaying in a corner.

And of course, when the evening was over, we went home, warmed up on the couch, and snuggled with everyone’s favorite pit beagle, Rosie Puppins. It was the perfect Christmas date.

What about you? Do you have a Christmas date tradition?

Marisa Mohi

Dec 14

How to Make a Christmas Wreath Out of Ornaments to Procrastinate

I’m sure if you did a Google search about writing, you’d come up with millions of results on how to do it. There would be articles on developing and defining your voice, editing, finding critique partners, and plotting and pacing. And I suppose that’s all valid. I mean, sure. You’ve got to know how to do that.

But would you find an article on how to channel your newfound love of the holiday season into your procrastination process? Likely not.

That’s why I’m writing this. See, writing isn’t all getting your butt in the chair and making magic come out of your fingers into the keyboard. It’s also about procrastinating. I mean, sometimes you just have to reorganize your bookshelf and put everything in alphabetical order. Other times you have to watch every single episode of Monarch of the Glen on Netflix. And still, you may find yourself choosing, for the first time in your life, to vacuum behind the refrigerator. These are all things that must be done, and they are great things to do when you’re putting off writing.

But what if it’s almost Christmas, and you’ve had just enough egg nog to think that you’re a crafter? Well, that’s what happened to me, and why I’m now the proud owner of the gaudiest wreath that $15 and 3 hours can create.

On Friday, I decided I was going to turn these gold ornaments into a wreath. I bought them 4 years ago on super sale after Christmas was over. Since my tree is covered in kitsch of multiple varieties, there has never been space for these. (Also, I started this project while it was super dark outside and my kitchen has the worst lighting ever. I’ve been super great about writing picture-heavy posts with terrible pictures lately.)

So, I went to a craft store and picked up a foam wreath and a hot glue gun. That’s how not crafty I am. I didn’t even have a glue gun.

Fridays are typically date nights, and Chris and I had plans to eat tons of Mexican food that evening at Chelino’s. Before we left, I got started on the wreath, and then we went to eat. I didn’t finish the wreath that evening, because we got home and watched The Babadook (WATCH IT YOU GUYS OMG). The next morning, we got up relatively early for a Saturday, got some donuts, did Christmas shopping for a couple of hours, had lunch, finished shopping, and came home for a few hours before heading off to Chris’s company’s Christmas party. In those few hours at home is when I finished the wreath.

And now, for those of you at home who should be spending their free time on Saturdays working on their novels/freelance writing projects, I’ve got a guide for how to waste that time by making Christmas wreaths.

Step 1: Gather your supplies.

Everything I have here except for the red jingle bells, glue gun and the foam wreath I already had on hand. I’ve been picking up ornaments here and there and have kept them in a giant Rubbermaid tub for the past 4 years, just waiting for a reason to use them. Some of them are from Target and some are from Big Lots. And while I had always planned to make a Christmas wreath, I had no idea I was going to use all these things to do it. A thank you to Alexis for giving me the red sleigh bells that she had left over. They make my wreath super loud and I love it.

Step 2: Glue your big balls.

I tried to make the pattern as random as possible as I went so I didn’t have two of the same kinds of gold balls touching. But that kind of became impossible. And while I’m a perfectionist, I’m more impatient than anything else.

Step 3: Go to Chelino’s.

You can actually go to eat anywhere. But I recommend Chelino’s because I love puerco lindo, chilaquiles norteños, and sopapillas. There is not a food item on that menu that I don’t love. And you really need some Tecate with salt and lime. It really makes the meal. Know that once you consume this food, you’ll be too tired to finish your Christmas wreath. So eat with abandon, and then get home and take your jeans off before the button pops off.

Step 3: Continue gluing.

Putting the rest of the gold balls on the Christmas wreath was awful. It took a long time and if I didn’t hold them still, they started to slide around since the surface wasn’t flat. So I had to hold them there while I waited. This could be because I got hot glue instead of cold glue (they were right next to each other on the shelves and I didn’t think there would be a difference–crafters, is there a difference?)

So, I would glue the balls on and then hold them. Occasionally, in holding them, I would get the glue on my hand and it would burn. Then, I was reminded of the time in the seventh grade when we had to make a model home in Spanish class. The assignment was meant to teach us the names of the rooms and furniture in the house. However, it was a ton of work for something that probably could’ve been completed by making flashcards. Or, if the teacher really wanted some half-ass crafts, we could’ve made collages by cutting pictures out of catalogs.

Anyway, while in Mrs. Street’s fifth hour Spanish portable classroom, I hot glued my hand to a shoe box while trying to make a garage (el garaje). I screamed “SON OF A!” as one does. (Note: I just said “son of a” and ended it there.) I almost got in trouble, but Mrs. Street took pity on my when she saw my hand was literally hot glued to a shoe box.

So, you can contemplate all that while you hold those stupid round ornaments on a round surface while you’re gluing. Or you can watch Gilmore Girls on your iPad Mini and slowly get more and more angry because Lorelai really sucks.

Step 4: Now, you get to put on the little bits.

I had some gingerbread men (GINGERBREAD ‘TIL I’M DEAD), cupcakes, and weird stripey swizzles from Big Lots, tiny gold and brown balls from Target, and some red bells from Alexis–the Alexis who made my golden snitch ornament. (Note: You may not have an Alexis to shop at. I suggest finding a crafty friend and taking their refuse.) I used all these little things to fill in the holes left over from the big balls.

Step 5: Let it dry.

When I had finally finished the Christmas wreath, I had watched several episodes of Gilmore Girls (Does no one on that show know how to employ the subjunctive tense?), had a few Miller High Lifes, (The gold cans matched the wreath!) and a few glasses of orange juice. (Secretly, I love heartburn.) I went to go take a nap while all the little pieces set.

Step 6: Try to hang up this jingley wreath while your poor boyfriend naps on the couch.

There are moments in life when you realize you live in an episode of I Love Lucy, only you’re the swarthy Hispanic one and your boyfriend is the charming redhead. And in this scenario, you’re trying to be sneaky lest you have “some ‘splaining to do.” This was one of those moments.

I was trying not to make any noise while I wiggled this chunky Christmas wreath into a holder that is way too small to hold it. That made some noise. Then, I tried to hang it up on the front door, only to find that the wreath hanger won’t let the door close. But every time I swung the door to try to shut it, it jingled like Santa’s sleigh was about to crash land in the yard. I finally stopped and hung it on the laundry room door–where it still hangs today. Because it still won’t fit on the damn front door. (It also won’t fit in the wreath box I bought 4 years ago either. Or in anything, really.)

And that, my friends, is how you procrastinate for the holiday season. Have you ever made a wreath? What vital tasks do you like to put off doing while you craft?

Marisa Mohi

Dec 14

The Best Songs of 2014

Today I’m linking up with Helene for a very special reason. It’s the end of 2014, which means it’s time for all the year end lists. And today, I’m bringing you my best songs of 2014.

The Best Songs Of 2014
I’m definitely not a music snob, so if you are, you may want to just cruise on through. And know that for me, lyrics are the most important part of a song. (Must be those multiple worthless degrees in writing that make me think that words are so important.) Anyway, check out my songs below and the reasons why they made the list!
“I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” by The Hold Steady

I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You by The Hold Steady on Grooveshark

I don’t think The Hold Steady can create a record that I don’t like. Every song of theirs tells a story, and this one is no exception. I love the mentions of war, and how it’s weird when you introduce new people to your home town and the people you used to know and the scene you were from. And for some reason, when I envision the lyrics in my head, I see The Warriors, only I don’t hate it this time.
 “Do I Wanna Know” by Arctic Monkeys

Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys on Grooveshark

This song is slow in all the perfect ways. There’s something dirty and primal and almost drunk about the lyrics, like you’re slowly slipping into insobriety with someone that you like, but you’ve still got your guard up. I believe this song was used in season 2 of Peaky Blinders, and it really made me more in love with every male character in that show with their post-World War I haircuts and 3-piece suits. (I probably like this show for the costumes more than anything else. And I see nothing wrong with this.)
 “Red Violins” by The Gaslight Anthem

Red Violins by The Gaslight Anthem on Grooveshark

I’m not sure if this song references the movie The Red Violin or not. But I would suppose so, since that’s a rather strange reference to make if not. But I feel like this song is about a crossroads, and there are choices to be made in a relationship, or perhaps, choices to be made to end a relationship. There’s something about the lyrics that make me think he’s encouraging her to cheat on her man, in a very pretty way.
“Take Me to Church” by Hozier

Take Me To Church by Hozier on Grooveshark

This has been the song of the year that’s been stuck in my head and that won’t go away. I didn’t care for it at first, but now I can’t stop singing and I love it. And the line “the only Heaven I’ll be sent to / is when I’m alone with you” is sexy as hell.
“My Silver Lining” by First Aid Kit

My Silver lining by First Aid Kit on Grooveshark

If I were ever to go back in time, I would want to hang out with my mom and dad in the seventies and just see what they were like and what they did when they started dating. For some reason, this song makes me think of that. I mean, the whole vibe is very sixties and seventies, and i think my mom would love this band.
 “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers

I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers on Grooveshark

This song came out kind of right when I needed it, and I know it was the same for a lot of people. The sentiment is the perfect sentiment for the end of year when we have resolutions and the promise of a clean slate waiting.
What about you? What was your best song of 2014?

Marisa Mohi

Dec 14

My Christmas Tree is Kitschy as Hell

I am the youngest child in my family. I’m 29. Does this mean that my parents have thrown out the janky handmade ornaments my brother and I created as children?

Hell no.

If you were to walk into my parents’ home during the holiday season, you would see a tree that is decorated not only with fancy antique ornaments from my great grandmother, but also with literal pieces of garbage crafted by the fruit of her loins.

There is this baby food lid with my brother’s picture.

This snowman.

This tree with my brother’s picture on it.

This construction paper bear.

This bear playing a trumpet.

And this…well, this.

In my defense, I was responsible for the bears and the snowman.

But I only bring this up to say that I have a very specific Christmas tree style: Kitsch.

Growing up, I had friends whose mothers would have two Christmas trees. One would be prominently displayed in the front of the home where visitors were sure to see it. The colors of the lights and ornaments all matched and complimented one another, and every last thing that hung from the boughs was store bought, and not like Walmart store bought. We’re talking Dillard’s-level and above Christmas decorations.

Then, in the back of the house, in the rooms where the family was allowed to sit on the furniture, would be the second tree. That tree would hold all the brightly colored decorations that only an elementary school kid can craft under the tutelage of the art teacher they met with once every two weeks. (It’s pretty obvious I grew up in Edmond, from this Tale of Two Christmas Trees.)

My mother, however, being the super enabler that she is, has always been so ridiculously proud of my brother and I. So much so, that she will continue to allow the aforementioned monstrosities to hang upon her tree until the end of time.

Now. I don’t have kids. And Rosie seems to be incapable of making me a Christmas tree ornament. (Unless that was her intention for the dead fat rat she left on the back porch last week…) But still, I really appreciate an eclectic tree. I don’t like when things match on a Christmas tree. I don’t think everything should be classy. I definitely do not believe in acting like a grown up when you go purchase Christmas ornaments. Because of this, my Christmas tree is kitschy as Hell.

So, I present to you my tree. (Please forgive the lighting. I’m not home when the sun is up, and it’s been hella dark lately and I didn’t feel like moving the whole tree closer to the window and turning it to get good shadows on all the ornaments.)

It’s nothing like the trees of most bloggers. I occasionally fear showing my living conditions, lest my blog be taken away by some sort of blogger protective services until I can prove myself to be worthy by painting a chevron accent wall and hanging at least 3 “live, laugh, love” prints in my living room.

But this is my tree–full of cutesy, kitschy, and nerdy stuff. But most importantly, it’s all stuff that represents me and Chris, at least in some way.

This is our ornament of the year–the year of Muay Thai.

My friend, Alexis, made me this golden snitch based off the tutorial on Epbot.

This was our ornament of the year last year–the year that Rosie Puppins came to live with us.

Decorate the tree you must. Have much Christmas spirit you will.

What about you? Does your mother hoard garbage to hang on the tree forever? Are you a super matchy-matchy tree person? Are you crazy jealous of that beer ornament? And if you love kitsch, please show me pictures!

Marisa Mohi

Dec 14

Mudbloods: The Movie

From mudbloodsmovie.com

Last night, Chris and I settled in to watch a Netflix movie. And by that I mean we had no plans and Chris was being kind of a grump (this is him at his finest) so we needed to find something that was fun and entertaining.

Enter Mudbloods.

In case you didn’t know, “mudblood” is a term from Harry Potter that is a derogatory way to refer to a wizard who is from a muggle family but can practice magic. Mudbloods follows the UCLA quidditch team and their quest to take the 2011 Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup.

I will say that Chris and I enjoyed this. On the one hand, we laughed hysterically at the quidditch rap song (I go hard on the motherlovin’ pitch, wizard!). On the other, I found myself legitimately tearing up as I watched the UCLA team not only raise enough money to compete at the world cup, but during the actual sports scenes themselves. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a sports movie.

Is this movie for everyone? Probably not. Mudbloods really appealed to the part of me that grew up playing sports, and I felt my heart swell when I realized that for a lot of the quidditch team, this was their first sport. Nerds don’t typically get to experience that transcendental feeling of belonging to a team and working together for a common goal. But I think that the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association affords them the opportunity to do so. Just the bits of the speeches the UCLA coach gave to his team were enough to make me miss playing softball, regardless of how retrospectively ambivalent I am towards the teams I belonged to.

You can currently catch Mudbloods on Netflix. And if you feel like maybe you need to order a Mudbloods quidditch shirt, you can do it right here.

Full disclosure: I did laugh at the quidditch matches. It’s kind of hard not to. I mean, they have brooms between their legs.

Marisa Mohi