Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking For Some Good Music?

Check Out James' Top 10 Albums of 2007.

Boxer - The National

An album of beauty and subtle darkness. Matt Berninger's deep, yet soft vocals intertwined with the brilliant guitar work, propels each slow-burning track in an incredibly satisfying way.

Favorites Tracks:
#1 Fake Empire
#6 Slow Show

Friend And Foe - Menomena

This album is pure fun and imagination. Horn blasts and loud drum rolls explode and mesh with beautiful piano figures in a way that surprises and delights. This band is full of ideas. Even when these songs fail to reach greatness, they never fail to entertain. Layered vocals are at times almost humorous in there delivery and yet can be moving and effective. An adventurous album that never strays too far from accessibility and rewards repeated listening.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Muscle'n Flo
#3 Wet and Rusting
#6 Rotten Hell
#8 My My
Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

The follow-up to 2004's Funeral (while not as brilliant as that record overall) is filled with moments of sheer power and beauty. Rarely do you find such raw emotion, passion and energy in music. This is a band we are sure to be hearing a lot about for years to come.

Favorite Tracks:
#3 Neon Bible
#4 Intervention
#6 Ocean of Noise
#7 The Well and the Lighthouse

Strawberry Jam - Animal Collective

Left field noodling mixed with the pop sensibilities of the Beach Boys. This album/band takes some getting used to, making them a "love it or hate it" affair. The more I listen, the more I am siding with the "love it" camp

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Peacebone
#4 For Reverend Greene
#6 #1
#7 Winter Wonder Land
#9 Derek

Person Pitch - Panda Bear

The drummer for Animal Collective (a.k.a. Panda Bear) may have outdone the rest of the collective with this solo effort. Even more of a Beach Boys influence is on display in this beautiful collection of songs and sounds. While a couple of songs linger a bit too long for their own good, the majority resonate with a brightness and beauty that stays with you. Sit back, close your eyes and enjoy.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Comfy in Nautica
#3 Bros
#4 I'm Not
#7 Ponytail

Sky Blue Sky - Wilco

This band has been churning out pure quality for well over a decade now. This release is a decidedly subdued affair in comparison to their recent work. While not completely successful as an album with a few missteps in spots, there are still moments of sheer brilliance that compare with Wilco's best work. Perfect album for a summer afternoon.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Either Way
#2 You Are My Face
#4 Sky Blue Sky
#5 Side With the Seeds
#9 Leave Me (Like You Found Me)
#11 What Light

Armchair Apocrypha - Andrew Bird

Where did this guy come from? This album is my first exposure to Andrew Bird and I am wishing I had heard of him sooner. His music mixes such divers elements as eery, spaghetti-western style whistling and delicately plucked violin strings with more traditional rock instrumentation. The songwriting is impeccable as each song brings you into it's own unique world and allows you to linger for a while.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Fiery Crash
#2 Imitosis
#6 Dark Matter
#8 The Supine
#10 Scythian Empires

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon

This album is pretty much fun from start to finish. Spoon's sixth album shows a band that is at the top of it's game and is now getting the commercial success it deserves. Great rhythm and hooks all over the place keep things moving along nicely. A truly solid effort.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Don't Make Me a Target
#3 You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
#4 Don't You Evah
#5 Rhthm & Soul
#6 Eddie's Ragga
#10 Black Like Me

Wincing the Night Away - The Shins

I really can't say enough good things about The Shins. This album takes them down a slightly different path than in the past; it is more subtle but no less brilliant. Lyrically, James Mercer shines as always with his large vocabulary and complete sentence structures that fill entire verses at times. While a few slight miscalculations keep this album from perfection, it stands as an amazing piece of work with a handful of absolutely classic songs.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 Sleeping Lessons
#2 Australia
#4 Phantom Limb
#6 Red Rabbits
#7 Turn On Me
#10 Girl Sailor
#11 A Comet Appears

In Rainbows - Radiohead

This is the sound of a band that no longer feels the need to hide behind the (admittedly brilliant) electronic experimentation of the past few albums. In Rainbows is a revelation of sorts as it represents the bands most accessible work in years and does so without abandoning what makes them so unique in the first place. There is not a bad song to be found in this collection.

Favorite Tracks:
#1 15 Step
#2 Bodysnatchers
#3 Nude
#4 Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
#5 All I Need
#6 Faust Arp
#7 Reckoner
#8 House of Cards
#9 Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fall 2007

Check out the video I made with my favorite Fall pictures of Zoe. The music is "Brightly Wound" by Eisley.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Flashback Friday: Sink Your Teeth In

Phew! Right under the wire. Thanks Amy for reminding me that it was Flashback Friday.

Here Ben and Steve take a bite out of James. Ahh, the sweet hind quarters. Did I just say that?

Speaking of teeth, can anyone guess who these belong to?

Yup, they're LaDonna's. Hi LaDonna! Start a blog. That is all.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Ok, so it's not really Christmas anymore. But I meant to post all of our Christmas stuff yesterday and I didn't. It's so hard trying to get back into "normal" life when James has work off until the new year. It's great having him around, but I end up playing with Zoe, watching movies, or playing video games more than I normally would if I were at home alone. Plus I am feeling a little blogged-out after those 12 days. But I really want to get these pictures up for our family (and friends).
The Family Christmas Card

Christmas was great! It snowed on Christmas Eve so we had some nice fresh powder in the morning. We decided to start a new family tradition of making pizza on Christmas Eve and they turned out better than expected. Zoe was a bit of a grouch and cried a bit when we put her down, but I think her teeth were really hurting her. She woke up crying at 5 am as well, then went back down until 8:30.

Grumpy Zoe giving Daddy Cuddles

Christmas Pizza!

Ready for Santa
We had Zoe's new farm (from my parents) all around the tree and Zoe was pretty excited to play with it. I think she would have played with it all day if we hadn't forced her to open her other presents. We could only do about one of her presents every 10 minutes or so, so we had quite the morning of opening presents and eating breakfast. We made awesome breakfast burritos with the left over meat from the pizza.

Back to the presents. We all got tons of cool stuff, Zoe especially. Her favorite was the baby doll we got her and a stroller we got with money from Papa and Grammy K (rest assured that ALL of her presents were HUGE hits and she neglects none of them). We saved those presents for last because I thought they might be her favorites and she played with them for the rest of the day. We also got her some bottles for the baby and she feeds her. While she is feeding the baby Zoe says "Nummy" and then the baby is "done." "Done" is probably Zoe's most useful new word. She also does the sign for it when she is finished eating. So much nicer than shaking her head and screaming when she doesn't want "more" (probably her second most helpful word).

James and I stayed in our pajamas the entire day. We have only left the house for small errands - like replenishing our movie stock at Blockbuster. So far we have rented 7 movies, but we also bought each other several DVDs as well. This has probably been the most relaxing week of our lives since we had Zoe.

These are the only videos we got on the digital camera. But we did capture a ton of the morning with the regular camera. Enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2007

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas I Posted on my Blog

A Twelve-Tooth Nuggle Grin

Of course you can't see all 12 teeth in this picture, but it's as close as you're going to get since 4 of Zoe's teeth are molars. That said, I think Zoe has 12 teeth. Every few days it seems like another one is popping through. Poor kid, she has been a trooper. So I thought it was fitting to end this 12-day fiasco with Zoe's 2008 Christmas picture. I'm glad I spent so much time picking out her dress and then making a little jacket so we could get a head-shot of her. Oh well, it was the only one where she wasn't staring blankly into space or holding the props in front of her face.
We love you all and miss you more than you know. We hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas I posted on my Blog

Eleven Books For Reading

Wow, I almost forgot to post today. Not that I don't have something to post, but James is sick and I am SO ready for Christmas to be here that half the time I walk across the room, I forget what I started out to get or do. So, lets get on with it then.

I've read 11 books this year! So maybe that isn't as many as some of you out there, but that's pretty good for me. I used to be a book fiend, but since being married and having a child, my reading life has been non-existent outside of church material and parenting magazines. So, I proudly present my 11 books for 2007. May there be more next year!

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Mansfield Park
  3. Sense and Sensibility
  4. I'm Chevy Chase, and You're Not
  5. Twilight
  6. New Moon
  7. Eclipse
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  10. A Christmas Carol
  11. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
A note on that last one - technically I haven't read it YET, but it's one of the only Christmas traditions we have in my family, so I will probably read it tonight and tomorrow. It is a little book, but I love love love it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On the Tenth Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Ten Painted Piggies

A few days ago I dropped Zoe off at a friend's house so I could brave the lines of the post office alone. When I came to pick her up, this is what I found:

What do you think? Is red her color, or is she more of a "winter?"

In a totally unrelated matter, does nail polish remover work on carpeting?

Friday, December 21, 2007

On the Ninth Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Nine Old Christmas Pictures
AKA Flashback Friday: Christmases Long, Long Ago

Today I am combining Day 9 with Flashback Friday. A bit of a cop out? Yes, a little, but I am tired and there is still so much to do around our house to get ready for Christmas. And it's already Friday! It has really crept up on me, even though I've been looking forward to it all week.

Here are some pictures of my first Christmas, some early Christmases for James, and Zoe's first Christmas, both in Utah and in Oregon.

Desta - Christmas 1983
Desta with GarrettJamesCathy, JoAnne and JamesJames, Fern and JoAnne
Zoe's Official Christmas Picture 2006
Zoe's First Encounter with SantaUtahOregon - Our First Christmas as a Family

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the Eighth Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Eight(y)* Christmas Cookies

Wow, I just got my Christmas baking done. I ended up making 80 Christmas cookies. So this is what 80 cookies in treat bags looks like (I'll post the picture later in the day). What does an 80-cookie kitchen look like? Frankly, I'm too embarrassed to even take a picture. And I post nearly everything so you know it is bad. Unfortunately the 80-cookie kitchen is also the 50-Christmas card, 3- scrapbook, various sewing projects, coupon-clipping central, 1 large dinner, and 1 last load of laundry kitchen. At least James had already taken care of our dinner dishes.

As usual, I got the recipe off of The Pioneer Woman Cooks. The cookies are pretty yummy for being just sugar cookies (and they're hecka cute) but just a little too labor-intensive. Labor-intensive, hecka cute. . . Remind you of someone?

Making the cookies would have been more fun if I had some willing helpers and had started before 9:30 at night. James did help me, but I got to hear every reason why he shouldn't have had to help me. Apparently, making 80 cookies is "optional" to him. Although I'm pretty sure I saw it somewhere in my Relief Society handbook. Right after that section about tablecloths and centerpieces.

*For anyone out there who thinks I'm fudging my number so I have something to post, let me tell you that I counted every single cookie and we had exactly 80! It's crazy how these things just happen. Blog and ye shall receive, or something like that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the Seventh Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Seven Blogs for Desta

A little redundant? Maybe. But as of this morning, seven of the "Blogs We Dig" are MINE!! That is, they are authored by people who knew me before James and I were married. Now, before I offend anyone, let me just say that I LOVE all of our friends in the blogging world and you are all lovely people. But only 7 of you really knew me as Desta Eldridge. Sorry, James' old roommates, I'm not counting you guys.

Here are the 7 blogs (listed in order of who I've known the longest)

By the way, if you're reading this and you knew me in my maiden name days - Please start a blog and let me know!! I love keeping up with everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the Sixth Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Six Fake Italians

This is my FAVORITE terrible Christmas song. Warning: this song WILL get in your head.

As I was searching for an mp3 file to put on our blog I found this video that I thought was just perfect. James hates this song and if he knew I was planning to post it he probably would have tried to stop me! Enjoy!!!

(if you have any problems viewing the video just search for Dominick the Donkey on YouTube and it will be the first video that comes up)

Monday, December 17, 2007

On the Fifth Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Five Frantic Faces

On Saturday we went and saw Santa. Last year Zoe was 5 months old and she didn't do so well and we figured this year would be the same. It was. But RC Willey does free pictures and there were free hot dogs too, so we went. We showed Zoe pictures and got her to say "tanta" in hopes that she wouldn't freak out. I thought it might have worked when we got there and she stared at the bearded man in awe. Then it was her turn. If we had had more time to go slowly, I think she might have been fine. But the second Santa reached for her, things started going down hill. And then he rang his bell. Blast that infernal bell. He meant it as a friendly gesture, but it scared Zoe to death. As soon as the encounter ended Zoe was fine and went back to staring intently. At least we got a free frame. And 5 shots of Zoe wigging out with Santa (the last one is the official picture that the store took and printed out for us). Sorry Santa, maybe next year!

Last Call!

Alright everyone. I am headed out in a few minutes to mail off the first batch of Christmas cards and packages. If you want a card and haven't sent us your address please do so. You can e-mail me at and we'll send one right out to you. Offer expires Friday, when I wash my hands of all this holiday stuff and simply start enjoying it!

And coming later - The fifth day of Christmas. Don't worry, this one will actually have pictures of Zoe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the Fourth Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Four Survivor Finalists

Is it fate or mere coincidence that this fourth day falls on the day of the Survivor China season finale? Well, this long ride will be over in three amazing hours (well, 2 I guess, but then there's the reunion show as well). Please hold all my calls.
So, WHO will it be? Here are my humble conjectures:

Denise - She's the quiet underdog who has ridden everyone's coattails at one time. She could totally play up the sympathy card since she was never on the inside of the major alliances, but was always loyal to her original tribe.

Courtney - Again, another underdog coattail rider. Although she was NOT quiet at any time during the game. I'm just trying to figure out whether this jury will reward her or Denise for simply attaching themselves to good players and not getting voted out themselves. I'd like to reference Survivor Australia when Tina won over Colby. The jury believed that it was a great "strategy" for Tina to fly under the radar and let Colby do all the heavy lifting. I'm still not too keen on this reasoning. To compensate in some small manner, I plan on naming one of my sons Colby. You think I'm joking? Just wait. (First we have to have James Owen III, then Douglas Riley, and finally William Colby. And if we have another boy then Garth [awesome middle name])

Amanda - I liked her until after the last episode when she tried to distance herself from Todd. She called herself honest and referred to Todd as a backstabber. I'm just not sure who Todd has stabbed in the back that she didn't help twist the knife in. I think she's probably Todd's strongest competition because she is a little less "in your face" about her strategy. It seems like she and Todd used to be really close and now she wants nothing to do with him (of course that could all be editing).

TODD - Oh how I love thee. I really like Todd and I have been nearly hyperventilating each week thinking he might get voted off. Yes, he was coming off a little cocky during the last tribal council, but I still like him. He is one of the best players this games has seen in a while. I don't think he's made as many people mad as he thinks he has, but then again, editing rears it's ugly head. When will they just put this show on three times a week? That stupid Big Brother show is on ALL the time. I'm not even sure if 3 times would be enough for my insatiable desire. I'm sorry I'm so pathetic. Don't worry, this will probably be the last Survivor post until February, which is usually when the next season starts. Unless something extraordinary happens tonight. So I guess this is my second to last Survivor post.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the Third Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Guitar Hero III

The newest addition to our family. Awwwww! Isn't he cute? I totally love this game. On Tuesday I called Target to see if they had any in stock and they told me no. I found myself there later that day and wandered over to electronics just to check things out. And what did my wondering eyes behold? The last copy of Guitar Hero III sitting on the shelf. Pardon the surfer speak, but I was stoked! I'm guessing that I'm the only mom to buy this game for herself. I went straight home and played it. In fact, I beat the entire game by the next night. So, yeah, maybe it was set on Easy, but that's still pretty cool/pathetic. So now I can work on Medium.

This game was pretty much the only thing I wanted for Christmas. And now, with 10 days left until Christmas, I've already beat the game once. I'm not one of those "buy it, wrap it, and look at it under the tree for two weeks" kind of girls. I lack self discipline. Although after I bought the game, for nearly a minute, I seriously considered selling the game online and getting another copy later. But I really wanted the game and there's something about selling "hot" items for inflated prices that sucks the jolly right out of the season for me.

Now my big question is: How do I get just another guitar so James and I can battle? I've only seen the bundled packages. Maybe we'll have to wait on that one.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flashback Friday...A Farewell to Remember

So Desta, for all of her brilliance, was fresh out of ideas for Flashback Friday so she asked me to fill in this week. So I looked through some old photos and decided I would remember my mission farewell. Many of you reading this may have been there. If so, here is a picture to remind you of that beautiful day back in the early summer of 1997.

Standing L-R: Jane ???, Doug DeMartini, Desere' Dever, Becky Greene, Josh Matson, LaDonna Hancock, Lindsay Abel, Kelly Jibson, Marie Bird, April Hostetter, Jennie Mae Hancock, Anna Matson, Courtney Abel.
Sitting L-R: Melissa Hancock, Steve Namanny, Julia Hancock, Jesse Schreiber-Schoonyan, James Gillice, Jenny Greene, Cindy Evers, Laura Amussen, Lucy Schmauch

Of all of these people, 1 of you I never even knew, 9 I have lost contact with (as in I would not know how to get a hold of you), 1 of you I am still in touch with because you married one of my best friends, 3 of you I see every once in a while because your sister married one of my best friends, 5 of you I keep in touch with through the internet, 1 of you I see about once a year or so, and 1 of you I just had lunch with yesterday.

Here's another nice shot of me being tickle tortured at the DeMartini's house after the farewell. (Nice cover up LaDonna.)

On the Second Day of Christmas I Posted on My Blog

Two Handmade Ties

Yep, I'm at it again. I had so much fun making Elder Hitchins' tie and it made him so happy that I decided to make some ties for my nephews on missions. So I found some awesome material in the remnant bin at JoAnn's and I made some more ties (I snagged the material for less than $3!). I even monogrammed the tie loop! And I have enough fabric to make a third one for their other brother who will serve in a couple more years. And if I'm really careful I might be able to squeeze out a fourth for James. He really liked the fabric and he is picky about ties.

In the spirit of handmade gifts, here's a website I found last night. It's called Foldschool and they have free instructions for how to make kid's furniture out of cardboard. I think I might attempt the chair if I can get my hands on some cardboard. I was kind of sad that I didn't have any Christmas Eve assembly projects (not really) so now I might have one. And it's outrageous what they charge for children's furniture. I figure if it's made out of cardboard I won't freak out when Zoe colors on it. In fact, that might be a fun project for us!