November 24, 2009

give thanks.

letterpress card via YeeHaw Industries

Things will be a little quiet on Claremont Road over the next few days as we'll be celebrating the lovely (and delicious) Thanksgiving holiday with our families.

This year I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, loving family, delightful in-laws, caring friends, good health, and cozy home. And, I'm thankful to you, dear readers, for taking the time to read whatever I happen to be rambling about at any given moment on this here blog. Claremont Road is almost one year old and it has been such a fun year getting to know you all.

Here's wishing you a delightful long weekend with the ones you love, and all the turkey/stuffing/mashed potatoes/yams/pumpkin pie/cranberry sauce (the canned, jellied kind, of course) your little heart desires.

Happy Thanksgiving!


November 22, 2009

my dream Christmas list

Where did November go? Wasn't Halloween just yesterday?? I'm having a difficult time believing that Thanksgiving is almost upon us and, before we know it, December will be rearing it's (much chillier) head.

I'm attempting to think about my holiday shopping in advance this year so I'm not a stress-ball the week before Santa arrives on his sleigh. The problem is that in looking for ideas for others, I start dreaming about everything I want for myself. And unfortunately, everything I want is something I will continue to want because I can't afford it. And I would never expect anyone I know to buy these things for me, either... but it's fun to dream, right?

Brooke's dream Christmas list

1. A digital SLR

My little Panasonic Lumix TZ-5 is an amazing little point-and-shoot, but I am DY-ING for a real camera, with fabulous lenses, to boot. My ultimate goal is to have one by the time we have our first kid so we can capture every googly, drooly, poop-and-puke-filled moment with amazing clarity. But I'm impatient and I want it now, Daddy!

2. A 27" iMac

I love my MacBook Pro, but some projects would be so much nicer to work on with a larger screen. And it will come in super handy when editing the photos taken on the aforementioned hypothetical DSLR. Plus, it's pretty. I'm a designerd, and I like pretty Mac computers. So there.

3. A new winter wardrobe
I'm a fan of Fossil and Anthropologie, in case anyone wants to know...

(left: Fossil, right: Anthro)

4. A stylist
While we're at it, how about we get someone to teach me how to dress myself. I struggle to get creative with my wardrobe and wear trends without feeling self-conscious. Particularly, I'd like someone who can teach me about accessorizing — I'm terrible at accessorizing. If it's not too much to ask, I'd like Stacy and Clinton to be my stylists. I think I could really be BFF's with these two if given the chance.

5. A high-def flat screen
Every time we go to Target for any reason, Nick needs to go hang out by the flat screens for a while. I pretend to be annoyed, but let's face it: I want one, too.

6. A personal trainer
I can't possibly procrastinate or make excuses if I have a trainer kicking my ass into shape. Bring it, Jillian.

7. A house
Hey... go big or go home, right?

What's on your dream Christmas list?

November 19, 2009

SYTYCD season 6 | top 14

I think it's finally happened — So You Think You Can Dance finally got it's mojo back!

Did you feel it, too? Tuesday's performance show was the first time this season that I felt really excited and inspired by the dancers and the choreography. Honestly the only dance I didn't like was Karen and Kevin's, and the judges were pretty much on the same page there. I was blown away by Ellenore and Ryan, totally impressed by Kathryn and Legacy, and pleasantly surprised by Jakob and Ashleigh. Although their dance got mixed reviews, I really dug Channing and Victor. Overall, it was the kind of dancing and choreography that I feel like this season has been lacking thus far.

I thought the group performance on Wednesday's results show was nothing short of spectacular (thank you, Wade Robson), but I was really bummed later in the evening to find out that Channing got the boot — I really liked her and thought Karen should have gone home — but Kevin's departure was expected. His technique just isn't where it should be at this point in the competition.

What did you think? Are you back on the bandwagon (if you had taken a brief jump off)?

November 17, 2009

twine time

I don't know what I'll do with it, but I want some of this twine. Just because.

images from Divine Twine, found via Whisker Graphics

Jillian Michaels is trying to kill me

Okay... so she's not actually trying to kill me. But her 30 Day Shred may do just that.

I have heard about the Shred for a while now. In the land of brides, it was pretty much everywhere, but I never looked into it or tried it. It just sounded intimidating.

But then I kept hearing about it. Again and again and again. And I'd look into buying it, but I'm cheap and I didn't want to spend the money on the DVD. And then... and then... my friend Beth showed me that levels 1 and 2 of the Shred are FREE OnDemand with our Comcast cable service! Free, I tell you!!

I started Shredding (ha) yesterday. And it was hard. And today, my legs were like jello when I was going down the stairs of my apartment after my workout. But I don't think I've ever felt so sore from just a 20-minute workout, so this is definitely my kind of workout: quick and effective.

The hardest part about exercising for me has always been finding the time. I've gotten progressively better at waking up early to work out before work (and I am the farthest thing from a "morning person" you will ever meet); but even so, if I sleep in an extra 10 minutes or so one day, it means I'm either not completing my So You Think You Can Dance: Get Fit workout (yes, I own both, and they're super fun) because I have run out of time, or I'm rushing to get to work because I finished the workout but left myself less time to get ready. And while I love my dance workouts, sometimes 40 minutes in the morning just isn't possible, and I usually don't feel like I've done much if I only do it for 20 minutes. Working out in the evenings has become too difficult with my work/life schedule, so it's either mornings or nothing.

Needing to put aside only 20 minutes in the morning for the Shred is certainly a good way to avoid the "I'm too tired" or "I don't have time" excuses. I am putting my faith in Jillian that this may just be the workout that finally helps me drop those extra 8 pounds I've put on since our wedding, without just "phoning it in" at the gym for two hours (her expressions are so silly!). I'll let you know how it goes! (And now, *gulp,* I'll really have to do it, because it's out there in blogland for all to see.)

Do you Shred?

November 14, 2009

SYTYCD season 6 | top 16 (and some thoughts)

So. Clearly I've been a little busy since it took me several days to find time to watch the last two episodes of So You Think You Can Dance from this week. And while I'm used to watching in the summer when there are less new shows on and less craziness going on in life, I have to say that I'm still feeling iffy about this season. So much so that I kind of don't really feel like writing even a half-assed recap, as I've done the last two weeks.

I mentioned last week that I am disenchanted by the number of props being used, the new set that seems to inhibit interesting camera work, and the distracting backgrounds flashing on the screen behind each dance (not to mention the overwhelmingly icky lighting). All of that, combined with lackluster choreography so far (with the exception of a few great Stacey Tookey numbers, a Wade Robson number, and a few other gems), just has me feeling very "meh" about this season. And it pains me to say that, as this show has been a favorite of mine for the last five seasons. I don't really know if it also has to do with the dancers — I think I've been so distracted by the other things I DON'T like about this season that I've had a hard time even focusing on the dancers.

What do you think? Are you losing interest in SYTYCD this season?

November 9, 2009

happy anniversary, Sesame Street!

Wow — forty years. My earliest memories of television are of watching Sesame Street in our family room. Aside from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, it was really the only other show I think I watched when I was a wee one (before I discovered the likes of the Mickey Mouse Club and Kids Incorporated... but that's a post for another day).

In addition to daily visits to Sesame Street, I also grew up listening to the Beatles, thanks to my mom's undying love for Paul McCartney since the age of 13 (her infatuation still continues today), so I'm sure it comes as no surprise that one of my absolute favorite Sesame Street sketches is of the Beetles performing "Letter B." In honor of the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, I thought I'd share the video with you. It really doesn't get any cuter than this.

Another favorite is the cartoon where the little kid is walking to the corner store to pick up "a quart of milk, a loaf of bread, and a stick of buttah" for his mother. I can't find a video anywhere... but I'm sure some of you may know exactly what I'm talking about :-)

What is your favorite Sesame Street memory? Head over to their website to vote on your favorite Sesame video of the 80s!

November 5, 2009

SYTYCD season 6 | top 18

Sorry for the delay with this... been a busy few days!


  • Noelle's voice is a little grating. And her dancing did not do much for me.
  • I was surprised by how much I liked the Viennese Waltz that Ashleigh and Jakob performed. Definitely a highlight, and I'm disliking her less than I have so far this season. Jakob is phenomenal.
  • I cannot stop looking at Bianca's unpointed feet. Yuck.
  • Is it me or does the camera work suck this season?
  • I liked the Bollywood number, but I could do without all the props this week. They just become distracting when each couple only gets a short amount of time to dance.
  • Even though their samba was a little off, I really like Channing.
  • I found NappyTab's choreography for Karen and Kevin almost offensive. Really, how many booty rolls can there be? This is a DANCE competition. Not a booty-off.
  • Thank you, Stacy Tookey. That amazing contemporary number that Kathryn and Legacy performed is the kind of choreography I've been looking for this season! I think they're a favorite couple of mine.
  • Mary should not wear that dress ever again.
  • Absolutely loved Wade's number, but what else is new... he's a genius. I found the artwork background very distracting, though. Too many changes this season with the set and they have not proven to be postive ones.
  • Ellenore danced like a pro with her dress stuck to her shoe through most of her tango with Ryan! They have a very professional look about them when they dance.
  • The show most definitely improved overall towards the end.
Tonight's dances and my grades:
  1. Noelle + Russell | Hip Hop | "Move Shake Drop Remix" | C
  2. Ashleigh + Jakob | Viennese Waltz | "At Last" | A-
  3. Bianca + Victor | Broadway | "Maybe God Is Trying to Tell You Something" | B-
  4. Mollee + Nathan | Bollywood | "Azeem O Shaan Shadenshah" | B+
  5. Channing + Phillip | Samba | "Maracatu Funk " | B-
  6. Karen + Kevin | Hip Hop | "Ice Cream Paint Job" | B-
  7. Kathryn + Legacy | Contemporary | "2 Steps Away" | A
  8. Pauline + Peter | Jazz | "Little Green Bag" | A
  9. Ellenore + Ryan | Argentine Tango | "Violentango" | A
SPOILER ALERT | Bottom 4 and Going Home
Bottom 4: Noelle, Bianca, Victor, Phillip
Going Home: Bianca and Phillip
I think it was Bianca's time to go... her technique is just not strong enough to last in this competition. I'm surprised that Phillip is going home, although I don't think Victor should have gone; the guys are all really strong this year but I think Kevin could have been a contender for the bottom 4. I can't believe that Phillip's father died a week and a half before he got voted off... I had no idea.

forgotten tune: "More Than Words"

Nineteen years later, and this song is still a guilty pleasure.

November 2, 2009

how right you are, fortune cookie.

November 1, 2009

the Drapers

We're big fans of Mad Men on AMC, so we decided to be Don and Betty Draper for Halloween this year. We were both able to pull our costumes together mostly with things we already owned, so that always makes it more fun for me than getting something store-bought that comes in one package. Oh, and I look pretty funny in a blonde wig with my super dark eyebrows (which I attempted to make more blonde-ish with yellow makeup, but succeeded instead at making them sort of green), but I don't mind adding a silly factor.

Nick bought the Fedora at Target; I bought the wig and white gloves at Halloween Adventure; we already owned everything else. I wore two skirts underneath my dress to give it a fuller 60s look without spending money on a petticoat.

What did you dress up as for Halloween? Do you go the store-bought-in-one-fell-swoop or pulled-together-on-your-own route?