Friday, December 21, 2012

10 Days of Cheap Christmas: Day #9

Last for me but certainly not least!  In fact this was the first item I bought for this project.  Like many of the other items purchased these Push Pop Toppers came in a few varieties but the instant I saw Mrs. Claus I fell in love.  There’s snowmen and Santa galore in all shapes, sizes, etc. but it’s extraordinarily rare to find Mrs. Claus especially in any sort of toy-like form.  My love for this tiny treasure transcends the holiday.

The candy itself you may be asking?  Not bad.  It’s Cherry Vanilla and thankfully they didn’t skimp on the creamy vanilla flavor and while it tasted rather good I doubt I’ll finish it as a 30-year-old man rarely has a time or place where eating a Push Pop seems appropriate.

And there she is among a batch of freshly baked cookies.  In the opening I didn’t want to pour into detail but now allow me in the words of Konnan to “speak on this”.  I love everything about her.  The gray old lady hair parted down the middle.  The little eye glasses resting on her tiny button nose.  But most of all?  I love the adorable little pan of freshly baked cookies. Each heartbreakingly cute cookie is the size of a, well, I can’t think up a fitting comparison but know you’d want to eat them all if you were here.  If a tornado hit my house tonight they’d find me the next day amid the wreckage clutching this figurine.

April O’Neil: Mrs. Claus how does it feel to be handpicked to be Brian’s last entry into this celebratory countdown?

Mrs. Claus: It’s an honor and to show my gratitude I’ve made him a fresh batch of my beloved cookies.

Isn’t she just the best?  This holiday season has been superb for me full of joy.  Just look above at my own two little ones Yukari and Owen telling Santa their Christmas wishes including a drum set and a new season of Veronica Mars.

April O’Neil: Brian, any closing comments on the 10 Days of Cheap Christmas?

Brian: Sure, just watch the video above where I succinctly sum it up at one of my favorite places in the universe the Cincinnati Museum Center!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

10 Days of Cheap Christmas: Day #7

Day seven, baby!  We're a week into this bad boy and today's going to be extra special because I'll be joined by a special guest reviewer!  First let's talk briefly about the product we'll be looking at.  For $1 at Dollar Tree I picked up a bag of fluffy fun in the guise of holiday themed marshmallows.  The store had an admirable aisle dedicated solely to Christmas which was a veritable smorgasbord of goodies.  I imagined it'd be tough narrowing down my selection but I instantly fell in love with these and couldn't release my grasp on the bag.

Here's my son Owen who bravely volunteered to try out the foodstuffs.  Below will play less like a typical review and more like play-by-play commentary as I broadcast the results of our little edible experiment.

The marshmallows come in three holiday shapes which I had a hell of a time trying to document.  I couldn't get a quality shot using the limited light available with the candy cane being especially challenging.  On the far left is a Christmas Tree!  Surely I could have found one in better condition in the bag but that'd require a little more effort than clearly I was willing to give.  Onward.  A Snowman!  He's a pillowy pile of jolly joy ready to melt in your mouth.  Lastly, that blasted Candy Cane which is clearly camera shy.

Owen expressing interest in this bag of bizarre things.  He's never ate marshmallows before.

There's the hand-off -- this is about to go down.

He's taking a bite!  So far, so good.  But what will his reaction be?

He likes it!  Owen likes it!  Isn't that the most adorable thing you've ever  seen?  Well, since Tanana healed Kenai in Brother Bear that is.

(Missing picture of my mallows in a cup of clumpy hot chocolate I mistakenly prematurely deleted.)

Being an "adult" I didn't want to just chomp into raw marshmallows.  So I opted to make some hot chocolate to toss 'em in.  First, though, an admission.  Come on guys out there, don't let me down, aren't there random, little things that you could probably do/figure out that you sometimes just chalk up to your girlfriend/wife to be able to do saving you the thorny issue of learning some new skill or ability?  Or is it just me?  Case in point: I've never made hot chocolate.  For some reason I'd assumed it was difficult or time consuming and figured "I'll wait until Amanda gets home."  Then she told me I could just put some hot water and/or milk in it.  I played it off like I'd known that since the Reagan administration.

(Second missing picture, this one an amazing action shot of me dumping out the hot chocolate as it poured down in mid-air towards its demise in the sink.)

Only to prove my ineptitude further.  I poured the powder in first!  Big error.  You're supposed to heat the liquid first then add your powdery cocoa dust.  So now I've got this lumpy, muddy guck that I didn't dare attempt to microwave and make a bigger mess of.  I failed at hot chocolate.

After much finagling I was able to at least recover this tiny thumbnail versions so you know I’m not entirely crazy.  That pouring shot was a real beauty too.

For those needing more of Owen's expert analysis here's  a video I captured where Owen evidently finds holiday marshmallows hilarious.

My daughter Yukari was jealous Owen got such a major role in today's article and insisted she get a cameo.  Here she is modish in Christmas sleeper with a message:

Yukari: Don't forget tomorrow's update on the countdown will be up over on Will's blog VeggieMacabre!  Enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

10 Days of Cheap Christmas: Day #5

It's day five and we're keeping this cheery holiday romp rolling into its second-half with another review for that ass!  I snagged today's item at Target.  There were a few different varieties but I choose the Christmas tree content to colorize my own faux gift packages.  The Target Dollar Spot can be hit or miss but if you're looking for a die cast car, hard plastic elephant, paper plates, or a Witch Parking Only novelty road sign then it's the place for you.

Here's a closer look at the particulars as the package breaks down the arithmetic.  Looks simple enough!

Here's everything before I get my art on.  This isn't a segregated water fountain in 1943 so make no mistake when I say "colors only" I'm talking about busting out the markers!  It looks a bit pedestrian but the quality of the materials themselves and then the finished product will determine if it was worth the measly buck.

And it begins!  Not surprisingly like riding a bike one doesn't forget coloring and I was having fun like I was in third grade doodling Magnokor at my desk all over again.

While I'm showing off cheap X-Mas stuff I've recently acquired here's a lame advent calendar with bite-sized chocolate I got for fifty cents at Jungle Jim's International Market the other night.

More action shots!  That's what the young whippersnappers want these days.  Here I am detailing a beautiful blue ornament and still having a blast.

The finished product!  Isn't it lovely?  And it's John, the father of the family from Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, one of my favorite attractions at Disney World!

Brian: Do you like my tree?

John: I sure do, Brian!  Also, my son James is a real big fan of your site.  He says it's "totally boss" and "way cool, dude!".

Brian: Oh, that's great!  I'm honored.  I'd love to have him make a cameo in one of my videos sometime.

John: That tree would sure look good in our living room but we've already got one of our own as you know.  Well, it's time I get back home.  Sarah's making pot roast.  And remember, "There's a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day"!

My 2012 Christmas Card.  Limited edition.

In closing I liked this way more than I'd originally anticipated.  The actual coloring and designing was fun, for example peep the blue and yellow package I did in the colors of my beloved Van Buren Elementary School (RIP).  The markers themselves were fine, especially the red which bled onto the wood as though that was its life mission and its time to shine had come, yellow sort of petered out though (you suck, yellow).  Now writing this a few days after my wood art looks even better as the colors are very crisp and pop.  Definitely a steal at a $1.

Just like Banksy I had to leave my mark behind so read it and weep and enjoy the rest of the countdown!  Save me eggnog.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

10 Days of Cheap Christmas: Day #3

The ball is back in my court now for Day 3 of the 10 Days of Cheap Christmas countdown.  You may recognize this item if you're a keen viewer and saw it during the video Will and I made for this project.  It's a miniature gingerbread house I scored at Dollar Tree for, you guessed it, $1.  I like the gift wrap motif and underneath that its wrapped again in a tight layer of plastic to keep it fresher than the cuts and fades Issac Rosenberg was dishing out in Barbershop 2: Back in Business.

This gives new meaning to the phrase "home invasion"!  The smell of gingerbread that emerged was surprisingly potent (like that herb your little cousin sells -- natch!).

Wait a second -- what is this!

Zartan: This is my holiday retreat home.  If you're going to stand there gawking, taking pictures, and making bad puns the least you can do is let me give you the tour.

Brian: Well, sure, I'd be honored!  Please.

Zartan: Here's the front of the place.  That wreath was handcrafted in Reykjavík.

Brian: Oh, cool, that's where Björk is from.

Zartan: Gesundheit.

Brian: Nice snowman, too.  My friend Deon the Distasteful would probably ask you if a handicapped kid made it for a quick buck but --

Zartan: That's enough.

Brian: Is that a sled parked at the front door?

Zartan: No it's the red fucking carpet and this is opening night to your one-man show "Webmaster that Zartan Snuffed".

Brian: Moving right along...

Zartan: Here's the left side of the place where I have my make-up, disguise, and holographic technology lab.  It's also got a real dandy of a candy cane decoration leaning up against it.

Brian: Good choice.  Really compliments the blue window frames and pulls it all together.

Zartan: Here's the right side it houses the guest rooms where my twin younger siblings Zandar and Zarana stay when they visit.

Brian: What about that gift over there?  Wow!  Is that something special for your daughter Zanya?

Zartan: No it's a new chainsaw blade and ponytail clip for Buzzer.  Any other questions Ernie Pyle?

Zartan: Here's the ass of the place.  I put out a little tree behind the house as well so the raccoons and rodents can share in the holiday spirit.

Brian: That was awfully thoughtful of you.  Now where's the pisser?

After escaping unscathed from Zartan when he went inside to fetch some chocolate-covered donuts and grape soda (it's a Dreadnoks thing) I tried to eat his house.  I couldn't do it.  Is this thing even edible?  Was it intended to be consumed or merely observed and appreciated ocularly?  I took a nibble then placed it in a prominent spot in my own kitchen so I can see it daily.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

10 Days of Cheap Christmas: Day #1

Let's get this countdown kicked off proper!  This is a wacky, well, words fail, but let's say miniature gumdrop (do a Google Images search for "gumdrop" you'll thank me later for introducing you to your new favorite adorable wallpaper) sucker on a really long stick.  I got this thing at Michaels as I was leaving noticing it near the checkouts and paid some obtuse irregular odd price like 43 cents for it.

I told you it's a long stick!  Perfect size for, I'm not sure, possibly attacking a fleeing relative who's running through the house or terrorizing the family pet.

Here's the money shot!  Now they had several different versions of these but this one warmed my heart fastest (same reason I choose chili).  Why?  Well, they didn't have my first choice Michael Ironside in a tacky Christmas sweater.  No seriously, do you really need to ask?  It's freaking Santa Claus holding a stand of Christmas lights!  That just doesn't happen.  A wreath?  I could buy it.  A present?  Why certainly!  But holding an item us everyday folk use in our celebration of the very holiday he represents?  That'd be like a picture of Michael Jordan in your childhood bedroom dunking on your doorway basketball hoop.

Also, why is his tongue sticking out?  Is he mocking us?  I never took Santa for the type to blow raspberries in jest.

Of course even at 2AM my cat Tomo had to see what was going on in the kitchen.  This reminds me of pretty much any article I posted in 2009 when my wife and I still lived in a small apartment, before children, when my cat was the coolest thing on the planet (she's now relegated to a bit player like Trevor Ochmonek on Alf).

I took the first bite without hesitation leaving Santa looking like JFK post-killshot.  Actually this image really sort of resembles that teenager who gets his head crushed by a car in that wonderful scene in The Toxic Avenger.

I made quick work of the candy (not that there was much to it) and all that remained was the strand of lights.  Which brings us full-circle.  Another reason I chose this particular sucker is I'm a sucker for Christmas lights.  One of my favorite childhood memories, and I'm not just talking holidays here, was loading up into the car with my parents and big brother on cold winter nights around this time of year and driving through neighborhoods looking at other families' Christmas lights and decorations.  So magical.  I especially recall the year that I knew in a few short days under the tree a Game Genie for the NES was awaiting me and I was fantasizing in the backseat about all of the games I'd now be able to conquer.