Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. We arrived in Boise on Friday night after a relatively painless flight - far less painless than actually getting to the Los Angeles Airport at 4:30 p.m. during rush hour on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. The trip has gone by fast but we feel pretty accomplished in all we have managed to do since we got here. Saturday morning we finished up the last of our Christmas shopping, ate lunch at the Noodle Dump (endearing term for Don's family's favorite Chinese Restaurant), and had a fun one night gaming session at Angie's place (Don's sister) with her boyfriend and some friends. They were a great bunch and we had a lot of fun despite keeping some of us up slightly passed our bed time to finish the session.

Sunday was our official unofficial Christmas day. After sleeping in, we all got ready and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house to open presents and enjoy a fabulous turkey dinner which had been roasting in the oven since midnight. The evening's events also included a couple of rounds of the game Apples to Apples until the Boise State Football game which started off terrible, came all the way back to tie with one minute to go, only to get beat by a winning field goal in the final seconds of the game.

Sunday morning we met up with Don's good friend Adam from high school and his VERY pregnant wife Julia. They are due in the next couple of weeks and very excited for the big change their life is about to take with the birth of their first child. We wish them all the best and are very excited for them. We had a very nice breakfast at a place called Capri's and then were off to rescue Mom from boredom and get her out of the house. We actually decided to brave the mall because Don wanted to get his ring sized. I got him a wedding ring for Christmas and his mom also gave him her old band which works well as a men's ring too. So now instead of having no wedding rings (since he lost his first one) he has two! He is REALLY married now.

Monday night was Christmas eve and time for the annual holiday gathering of extended family. It's my fourth time now attending one of these holiday gatherings and I finally have all of the names and family tree connections down. There have been some difficult times of late with some major injuries and illness in the family so it was a very low key evening. But it was nice to be able to just get together and focus on being together rather than somebody having to organize a major dinner party or big gift exchange. Everybody brought what they could, an appetizer or some sweets, a friend of the family helped out with the main dish and we all had some food and drinks and caught up on each other's lives. And there was good news too. Don's cousin announced that she is newly pregnant and expecting their second child in about 7-8 months. Congratulations! Which of course lead to us getting inundated with questions about when we were going to produce offspring so we got to make our own announcement that we are NOT pregnant and NOT trying and that everyone better just take care of their health so they will be around to enjoy it when we are good and ready to get around to it.

It's Tuesday morning now and we are getting ready to leave to the airport in a little bit. When we get home Kristy will pick us up from the airport and we will get to spend the rest of the week with her until New Years when she flies back. So the holiday will continue and apparently I have been on the computer longer than I thought and now have to rush to get ready in time to catch our flight. Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Baby Cordy

We pulled this old archived footage off of Grandma Bunch's computer today of Cordy as a puppy. Here she is at 6 months old playing with Saucey - Don's Grandpa's Nephew's Wiener Dog. These were the days before Seumas existed and Cordy was desperate for a playmate. At 6 years old and carrying the typical doxie weight, Cordy had Saucey worn out in about 20 minutes.


video

Friday, December 21, 2007

Seumas Heaven

video

Doggie heaven is very simple. It consists of your favorite dog toy and a pile of clean warm blankets fresh from the dryer. Here is Seumas enjoying his seven minutes in heaven.

He Works Hard for the Money


Couldn't resist this picture worth a thousand words of Don Monday evening at the end of a long hard day at work. I think it's the beer in the crotch that really sells it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

99 Blogs on the Wall

Yep, this is blog number 99. I'm about to hit triple digits. Took me a while to get here since my last post but with the ups and downs of the unemployment ride one never feels like blogging during the downs so I had to wait for some good ups when I would have something interesting to report on rather than just silence. And the downs are all about the silence - waiting for the phone to ring and being stuck all alone with the thoughts in your own head: "This job is perfect! I'm so qualified! I can do this in my sleep. They'll love me. Is there something wrong with my phone? Maybe my applications aren't getting through. Did I really say that in the interview? Why didn't I just quit while I was ahead? I'm going to be unemployed for the rest of my life!!!!!!!!!" Actually, the application and interview process is going well. However, thanks to the wonderful timing of the holiday season no one is in a hurry to get on to the actual hiring process. Everybody would rather take vacations and stuff. Dummies.

So of the applications that I sent out, three have already resulted in an interview. I'm averaging one a week so far which isn't bad. The first one, thumbs down. Not interested. I don't think they could afford me anyway. However, the next two are both very exciting prospects. One in Commercial Lending for a major bank and the other a credit position with a very successful Leasing Company. The interview with the bank was last Tuesday and it was a slam dunk. I was exactly what they were looking for and they were exactly what I was looking for. I emailed the HR rep today to tell her that I would be out of town for the holidays and let her know when and where I could be reached. She emailed me back and said they plan to make a decision next week and would be in touch as soon as she had more information. Two hours later I heard from both of my former bosses that she had just called and they had both given her glowing reviews. So it sounds like that one is in the bag but you never know until it's all said and done. The other one I interviewed with just yesterday. The interview went very well and the credit manager and I hit it off immediately. I don't have as strong a read on that one but I am certainly qualified and there is a strong chance that they may make me an offer as well. They also intend to make a decision by the end of next week.

Now, on the superficial side, the bank has way better benefits but a longer commute, while the leasing company is much closer and includes a variety of other incentives. Both of them have excellent opportunities for professional growth that will continue to make me even more marketable and advance my career in the direction I want to go. If offered both, I do not know at this point which one I would choose. It does not come down to money. Both are competitive salaries and I have no intention of holding out for the highest bidder. But I have already passed through the entry level and even mid level stages of my career and established myself at the advanced level in my industry which to this point has been a combination of equipment financing and banking. These two positions will allow me to now start focusing in the longer term toward the management level with the specialized knowledge that each industry offers and could define my career from this point forward. Basically, the decision that I have to make at this point is whether I want to be a Banker or a Lessor. They probably sound like the same thing to most people but they are actually some considerable differences and I'm not going to make the effort to try to explain it to you so you will just have to take my word for it.

Wow, and when I put in those terms - whether I am a Banker or Lessor at heart - I actually know now which I would chose if both offers presented themselves. This blog has actually been really productive for helping me straighten out my feelings toward this. However, since I know that the unemployment cycle includes ups and downs and revolving feelings and cycles of thought that can change on a whim, and since I haven't been given an official offer from either one yet, I will refrain from publishing it on the internet and keep you all in suspense until the actual miraculous event of being hired actually occurs.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain

I know it would be way too much to wish for snow this Christmas in California. But in the last couple of days we actually have had a few rain showers. It is amazing how clear and beautiful the sky is and how clean the air is. When Don and I were driving to church and to Burbank this morning for an errand, we couldn't get over how gorgeous all of the mountains are when you are not admiring them through a lense of haze.

Company Christmas Party

Last night was Don's Company Christmas party. We had a really good time. They held it at the same venue they always do but it was interesting to be able to drive there for the first time instead of flying from Washington. It was our fourth Christmas party with Revchem so it's definitely starting to have that feeling of family. Anyway, there was good food, drinks, music, dancing, and games in which Don and another coworker won themselves each a nice gift card to Starbucks. You couldn't ask for a better prize than that for Don. I was really excited to be there with my handsome husband. I'm so proud of everything he has done and accomplished in his position since we have moved here and it was nice to be at a function where I could publicly support him and get to know all of his employees and coworkers.

Today we have church and a couple of errands to run. Then it will be back to the grindstone of getting ready to start the job hunting for the week again and prepping for my upcoming interview.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cricket, Cricket, Ring

You would think that being unemployed and staying home would be a treat. There's just so much liesure time to walk the dogs, read Harry Potter, get some exercise, and do errands during the day when the stores aren't crowded. Actually, in the words of the controversial character Borat ... NOT!!!! Not true at all.

Job hunting takes a lot of time -- searching all the websites for current openings in my field; writing, and rewriting, and modifying my resume and cover letter for each position; calling industry contacts to see if they have heard of any openings or know of anyone whose looking for help. At this point, if I'm even unemployed long enough to collect on my unemployment claim, I will feel like I've definitely earned that money. I'm not saying that I've been productive every minute of every day, but it amazes me that after one whole entire week of being home, I have not been able to get to a single load of laundry done, haven't walked the dogs once (poor puppies) or exercised at all for that matter, and haven't had the time to put together a meal plan that lasts longer than what's for dinner tonight? And forget doing errands during the day. I'm tied to the house during normal business hours for fear of leaving and missing a phone call from a potential employer. So, surprising to say, after my first full week of unemployment, I'm actually glad it's the weekend so I can have a bit of a break!

To sum up the search so far, I had one interview on Monday with a colleague of my previous' boss. Went well, is a possibility, but I'm kind of hoping to get away from Broker Leasing and see if I can steer more toward Commercial Banking since that will offer a lot more stability and opportunities for advancement, not to mention better benefits. In the last week I have found and applied for 5 such jobs in the immediate vicinity that I am highly qualified for and am excited about.

I have found in the past when job hunting, that it takes a week or two from when I start sending out applications to start getting calls back. And usually when I get a call that almost always leads to an interview which almost always leads to an offer. But still, there is that initial week of silence that is always a little bit deafening and makes you start to doubt yourself, start to panic a little about the job market, start to waffle on your salary. At the end of the first week, even after carrying the cordless phone all over the house with me so that I wouldn't miss hearing a phone call, 5pm on Friday rolled around and still had not heard from anyone. Now don't get me wrong, I got plenty of phone calls. It's amazing how many calls you get from people when they know you are home during the day, and lots of support too from people who had just heard the news. Just no calls from any of the potential employers I was looking forward to hearing from.

So last night Don and I settled into our chairs to watch the finale of Supernatural Season Two. And what do you know, 6:00 p.m. rolls around and the phone rings. Don and I both sighed, not in the mood for personal calls and annoyed by the interruption to our nice relaxing evening. When I went to pick up the phone, I noticed that I did not recognize the local phone number on the caller ID. When I answered it, a nice lady introduced herself as an HR recruiter for a bank that I recently submitted my resume to! She was working a little bit late on this Friday evening and had just received my resume and thought it was worth trying to catch me before she went home.

We had a very nice chat about the position. It sounds like I am exactly what they are looking for and they are exactly what I am looking for. It is a Commercial Loan Administrative Assistant position in my salary range with the opportunity to grow into some Underwriting responsibilities. Perfect! The only bummer about the position, and this is a pretty big bummer, is that though their offices are in Sherman Oaks right now, they are going to be moving to Glendale soon. Doh! Well, that is farther than I wanted to go but the farthest that I am willing to go. Too bad they are not staying here though! Anyway, I will be interviewing with them next week. There are still a couple of similar positions in the direct vicinity. If they offer the same salary and the same opportunities those would obviously be preferable. And it always helps for salary negotiations when you already have an offer on the table. So it looks like things are moving in the right direction. And I'm going to enjoy a nice, well deserved weekend.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Job Hunt

Thanks everyone for all the support! It's nice. Really. :)

Couple of positives on the job front. Looks like there are two positions of interest in my immediate vicinity (a.k.a. less than two miles). One with a bank, the other with a successful credit union. I have applied for both. My sister helped me upgrade my resume from awesome to awesometastic so I'm feeling pretty positive that I should at least get a call or an interview out of them.

Also, I submitted my resume to a leasing recruiting agency and got a call from a recruiter this morning so it is possible something could come from that.

And finally submitted my claim for unemployment insurance. Weekly benefits are about 30% of my normal take home pay. Ouch! Good thing I have a Sugar Daddy for a husband.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Big News

It's funny how you can post one thing in the morning and then something big happens later that day and you go back and read your last post and think, wow, I can't believe that was my frame of mind only a few hours ago. So much has changed since then!

Anyway, for those of you who haven't heard the news yet, I was laid off from my job on Friday afternoon. No notice, just handed me a check for wages-to-date and said Merry Christmas. The owner of the company went over my boss' head to let me go. We were doing pretty well on the finance side of things but unfortunately the second company was dragging both companies down. Luckily, I was aware enough to notice the signs so it wasn't a complete surprise and had already started keeping an eye out for other opportunities.

Honestly, the working environment was becoming more and more unpleasant anyway so Don and I are both feeling pretty positive about this opportunity/nudge to get out there and look for something better. And it could not have come at a better time financially. Luckily, I did our Christmas shopping early so that was mostly taken care of and had just paid our rent and all of our bills for the month. We were getting set up for a nice month to pay off some debt, but easy come easy go I guess. Still, there have been enough positive signs in this to keep us feeling like God is watching out for us and we are on the right path. Sunday was the first week of Advent, which is the first week of the new Church year. It just really felt like we were in the right place and right time to be beginning a new path for something as big as starting a new job.

I have already had one interview with a friend of my boss. He has more interviews to complete but if he offers me the position, it would be similar work with the same salary range. It's more than he wanted to spend but I put my foot down. He is a small company too and no guarantees like my last job. There are some positions I would be willing to take a pay cut for (within reason) but mostly they involve a greater amount of stability and opportunities for upward mobility. Speaking of such jobs, there is an opening for a commercial loan administrator (similar to what I do) that is less than two miles from my house for a major bank that I really have my fingers crossed for. They just posted the position last week and banks can take a while to get through their interview processes so I am kind of spinning my wheels this week hoping to hear back from them before I start really getting out there and doing the mass resume thing.

Although we are feeling overwhelmingly positive about the situation all things considered, there are still the obvious anxieties, insecurities, and depression that come with being unemployed to battle. So far I'm doing pretty well but would certainly welcome any and all prayers for a quick resolution. In the meantime, in between job searching on the internet and making calls, I am having fun being a stay at home mom for the pups and playing housewife. Don has already offered for me to come to his office and help him with his filing but he says he will have to pay me in other ways than cash. I'd be happy with dish duty for a week or scrubbing the kitchen floor, but I have the feeling he was thinking other things. . .

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

Don and I were both exhausted last night when we got home from work. I made no effort to work out or cook a healthy dinner. I was resigned to spending an evening reading by the light of my Christmas tree and really looking forward to it. And that's exactly what I did. Don mentioned that he had spoken with Jeremy earlier that day and that they wanted to come by and work on developing a new gaming character for the campaign since Jeremy's died on Wednesday. Perfect! I immediately tossed Harry Potter aside and surrounded myself with gaming books instead. Matt is going to be starting a new campaign in January and I have yet to decide what I'm going to play. So last night I immersed myself in gaming books and searched for ideas and inspiration. And finally towards the end of the night I came up with an idea that actually excites me. I'm going to create a character with a basic background, a basic class (probably rogue), and instead of planning her future out for her from the getgo, since we're starting at level one, I think I'll actually let her advance as is fitting to the story and decide what other classes she is going to take as we progress. Anyway, it was a most relaxing evening well spent and I'm looking forward to spending much more time with my Christmas tree this weekend. Thank God it's Friday.

Also, FYI, it is raining today. How cool is that?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Working it out

Yesterday at work was insane. Since things are slow on the auction side of things, the beloved company owner has nothing to do himself so he is micromanaging everyone else - except me. But he is micromanaging my boss which to a certain extent falls back in my lap. Now, I am actually quite busy this week already with lots of projects piled up on my desk to get to and lots of ambitions. But when owner man is asking for updates/reports/files/information from my boss every five minutes, guess who my boss is asking for assistance with these requests. I kid you not, I could not complete a single task yesterday without being interrupted ten times. It was incredibly irritating, and I admit that by the end of the day I was wearing my irritation on my sleeve. Thanks be to God that last night was gaming night and I got to go home and unwind to an awesome session which included one party death (Thanks Remus for your ultimate sacrifice) and mucho experience points.

Today, however, I am prepared. I have my legal pad out and am ready to make a list to prioritize tasks as they are given to me. I'm not going to allow my day to be picked apart so scatter brained on the fly as things come up. Instead, when new task is given to me I'll write it down and let him know that I'll get to things in their proper order.

Additionally, we just found out this week that the owner wants to reorganize our work space to rent out the "extra room" and generate a profit. So Steve and I have to move across the hallway over by the sales guys some time next week. It will be a small downgrade and not quite as comfortable, but at least we will still be down in the basement where people will leave us alone. Plus, the sales guys are really cool so at least they will make nice office mates. That being said, I am highly motivated to get my desk cleaned off before we have to move. So much to do, I won't have much time to blog or chat the next couple of days but I will update as I get time.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Don and I had no desire to do any shopping yesterday. The stores in LA are crowded enough on a normal day without having to fight the rat race of Black Friday. However, I really wanted to dip in and out of Costco really quick to pick up an artificial Christmas Tree. I figured if I was just going in and out for one thing I could tolerate the chaos. Then Don needed to go to Target because something he was planning to order for his family was no longer available on Target.com. So we decided to just suck it up and go because otherwise we would just have been sitting around the house all day anyway.

But the whole experience ended up being awesome. We went at 1:00 p.m. and by that time the crowds must have come and gone already. It was actually LESS busy than it would have been on a normal day at both stores. At Target we found the item we were looking for $15.00 cheaper than we expected, and at Costco we ended up browsing and picking up a few more gifts for people in addition to the tree. We splurged a little and bought a really nice pre-lit 7.5 foot tall artificial tree with very life like needles and nice full branches. It was so easy to put together Don and I about laughed. Here are a few pictures of our tree assembly. Today I need to go back to the store and get a tree skirt and some stockings for the fireplace.

Cordy and Seumas Surf the Christmas Tree Box.

The dogs pose in front of the tree.

The finished product.


Close Ups

The Angel

Our other Angel

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It is a gorgeous foggy morning here. I had a little trouble sleeping in so I'm up a little earlier than I'd like. The dogs are snuggled in bed with Don. I need to go to the grocery store and pick up a couple of things for the Cranberry Jello Salad I'm making today. I think I will walk to the store to get a little exercise. When I get back I plan to spend my Thanksgiving morning drinking tea and curled up on the couch watching Gone with the Wind which I checked out from the library last night. It's so nice to be on vacation. We got invited to Thanksgiving dinner by some of Don's friends in the gaming industry so we won't be alone after all. Plus, it turns out that someone finally stepped up and accepted the invitation to come and stay with us for the Thanksgiving weekend - our three legged friend Max (Jeremy and Katy's Dog.) He gets in today at noon. Cordy and Seumas will be so excited. Tomorrow morning, after I balance my checkbook and see where we're at, I think we might go down to Costco and get a fake Christmas tree and start decorating for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Weight Management

My computer has been replaced and I'm up and running again. Instead of replacing my crappy stolen computer with a nice new computer, they replaced my crappy stolen computer with a crappier older ancient dinosaur computer from the garage storage. This morning when it took my "new" computer 10 minutes to boot up and log in - after I sat around for an hour while IT worked on installing my programs - I seriously considered handing in my notice unless they were willing to give me a significant upgrade. There is no way I'm going to spend half my day waiting for the seasons to change while it takes a single document 45 minutes to load on my computer. I was relieved to find out that once I am actually logged in and things have warmed up, everything runs pretty much on par with my old computer. So that is a big relief.

So until late morning, a lot of the last 24 hours have been spent waiting around in stall mode unable to do anything productive. I decided yesterday afternoon to take advantage of the opportunity to schedule a doctor's appointment that I've been meaning to schedule but didn't want to take the time off work. I decided to try a new doctor since the one I got last time was kind of a dud - hooray Kaiser Permanente. This guy was definitely more thorough and took time to really explain things to me but still not going to win any awards based on personality. The problem is that my doctor in Tacoma was perfect. I had never felt so thoroughly cared for and so confident in his diagnosis and treatments, I just know he is going to be impossible to replace. There are a lot of smart doctors out there making a lot of money, but not as many out there who actually really care about their patients and how they are feeling. I know. I was a chaplain once.

Anyway, since then, I have been poked, prodded, stuck, and scraped. I had my blood drawn, got a Tetnis shot, had a skin test, been weighed, measured, evaluated. I have to go back Friday morning for the results of my skin test and have to see a dermatologist for a skin irritation problem I've been having - I'll spare you the icky details. I'll get my blood work back in a few days and find out if I have any horrible diseases and if I'm getting all the vitamins and nutrients I need.

But the really exciting part of the exam was when my doctor told me that he noticed that my weight was "getting close" to what would be considered overweight for my height and that he would like to see me lose a couple of pounds "since excess weight can lead to other factors such as diabetes and heart disease." I said that for the most part I ate pretty healthy food and was very good at exercising. And his response was that that was all very good, now let's just get the " weight under control" too before I get "any older."

And here I thought I was all special about to turn 30 and still getting hit on in the supermarket parking lot. But now all of a sudden, if I don't get my weight "under control" before I turn 30 than there is no turning back! I will be doomed a life of horrible diseases because I weigh all of ... 144 pounds???? I asked the doctor how much weight I would have to lose as I didn't want to be one of those twiggy LA girls. He said that I was not quite at the overweight mark but that he would like to see me down to 141 just to give me a more comfortable "buffer." Ha ha ha! So now I need to trim 3 pounds to promote my life longevity. And just in time for the holidays. Oh well. I have done a pretty good job of managing my weight over the past ten years. I've kept myself pretty constant under 145 and if I start to get over that I trim back and work a little harder. But I guess I will now have to set my "buffer" a little lower. Doctor's orders. I'll show you "buffer." Just give me a few weeks in the gym.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Robbed Again

The hooligans were running rampant in the Valley this weekend. Don's new building got graffitied and mine got robbed again. This time, they did take my computer. So I'm pretty paralyzed for the next day or two until they can get me a new one. I will be trying to steal a few moments from my boss' computer here and there as I am able. But for the most part, you won't be able to catch me live the next few days. They even took my phone. Happy holidays.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wiener Wonderland

Here are a few pics from the Dachshund Meetup today.

If you want to see more, you can check out my webshots album.

There were 15-20 Doxies that showed up all together. Most were smooth hairs but there was one long haired and two wire haired.

Like true dachshunds they were more interested in the people and hunting for scraps than they were the other dogs.

Our training with Cordy and Seumas has really paid off. They were the most well behaved pups at the party, and the cutest I might add.

This senior citizen stole my heart. He was the cutest sweetest gentlest soul I've ever met. If Seumas turns out just like him when he reaches the silver haired age I could not be more pleased.

This pretty girl took time to smile for the camera.

Look again, this guy in the middle is not Cordy but a giant male standard named Mokey and just as sweet as our little girl. If they had not both been fixed already, I would have been tempted to breed them.

The people outlasted all the dogs. By the end of two hours, the homosapeans were all sitting around gabbing while the pups all were begging to be let up to curl up in our laps and go to sleep. Such a hard day!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Killer Shrimp

Dah... duh... dah... duh... da... du... da... du... da... du... da... du... da... du... da... du... da... du... da... du

No, this is not a recent horror movie we watched but a new restaurant that we tried last night. That's right. Not only did I NOT cook last night, but we even went out to a dining establishment and paid other people to cook for us. It was such a nice splurge, something we haven't done in a long time as we have been trying to save money. But even so, despite the gourmet dinner, our pocket book was less than smoking by the time we left the restuarant. Between the four of us (Jeremy and Katy included) we spent an even $100 and that included beverages, a huge dessert split four ways, tax and a tip.

At Killer Shrimp your options are... (a) Killer Shrimp with Bread; (b) Killer Shrimp with Pasta; or (c) Killer Shrimp with Rice. And that is it. If you don't like Killer Shrimp you are screwed. (It says so right on the menu.) I am always impressed, in a culture that values choices and options so much, by a restaurant that can succeed on such a limited selection. You know that if they specialize in one thing and one thing only, that that one thing better be prettty darn magnificently spectacular.

And surely enough it was. The killer shrimp comes out in this giant bowl of the most incredibly developed broth with layers upon layers of flavor - spicy, garlicky, sweetness - with an entire basket of of fresh baguette slices to soak up all that lovely goodness. Kinda looks like the picture here only the broth was not tomato based but instead had this gorgeous golden hugh that swirled around and changed colors when you dipped your bread in it.

My only complaint was that they do not peel and de-vein the shrimp for you. Apparently it preserves the flavor quite a bit more, but I seemed to be the only one at our table who was completely disgusted by having to pull off the tiny little row of legs with my bare fingers before I could peel and eat them. The funny thing is I have seen more dead deer in my life than I know what to do with and they don't bother me a bit, but there's something about those little insect like legs that had me completely creeped out. At least they cut the heads off for us. But I dealt with my phobia and enjoyed the meal nonetheless. It truly was amazing.

And of course, going with the limited selection theme, when it came time for dessert they only had two options: Sweet Potato Pie or Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. What do you know, that just happens to be the way Don and I like our Chocolate Cake. However, we are pretty tough critics when it comes to cake. We don't like regular flour cakes but this one ended up to be more of a rich ganache and was again, dare I say, perfect. Even the hand whipped cream on the side was delectable. I only wish that it would get colder in California. On the first winter night where it drops below 50 (if that EVER happens here) I want to be back there lapping up that amazing broth and letting it warm my tummy and awaken my senses.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Welcome Weekend

We at the Early Household are very eager to welcome in the weekend here. This week has been a bit draining for both of us. Don is still averaging 12 to 13 hour days at work but he said he is getting closer to the point where he won't need to make those 4:30 a.m. wake up calls anymore as they nail down their morning routines in the new shop.

Work has been a little draining for me this week too. Again, I mostly work by myself but our sister company is not performing very well and stress levels are high in all of the other departments. It just makes for a bit of a toxic environment. Since we (the leasing company) are the only ones that are actually making money out of the two companies instead of losing it, we are obviously in a much more comfortable position, but it also puts a lot of pressure on us to save everyone else's *&^%>, you know?

Plus, when the days get this long for Don, I normally pick up the slack around the house and give him a free ride to rejuvenate when he gets home. Given that I spend the majority of my grueling 7 hour work day blogging and checking the headlines every 5 minutes I figure it is the least I can do to take over the cooking, and cleaning, and laundry when he is out breaking his back to put bread on our table. Don is just lucky that we have a gardener. We seem to have fallen into the routine of traditional household roles except that there is no lawn that needs to be mowed. Man did he get lucky.

O.K. Back to my original train of thought... So I appreciate the sacrifices he is making, particularly in lack of sleep, and the ridiculous fires he is having to put out at work (including one of their delivery trucks that literally caught fire the other day) from other people not doing their jobs properly and the responsibility ending up in his lap (isn't it fun to be a manager), and I am willing to step up and do my part to contribute. Even so, I can usually keep pace with the life of a single... uhh ... wife? ... for about 2 to 3 weeks before I hit the wall myself. And I definitely hit the wall Wednesday night after taking on the major dinner project in the middle of the week. Not that I haven't been completely enjoying our new cooking blog and trying all of these new recipes. But I have given myself leave to take it easy the next couple of days with some light cleaning and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until I have regained the wind that has been knocked out of me. Regardless, the timing is not bad. We have a short week next week followed by a four day weekend and by the end of that things should be mostly back to normal with Don's working hours and I'll have a full time husband again.

So we are happy that we are headed into the weekend. And though I don't want it to pass too quickly, I can't wait for Sunday afternoon to roll around as we are going to a Dachshund meetup for local dachshund owners to all get our pups together to play. I'm so excited. I promise to take lots of pictures and post them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dear Santa

It has been a very good year. Don and I have been very happy with our move to California, as have Cordy and Seumas. We found a nice home, a nice church, a nice group of friends, and everyone is healthy and doing well. There truly isn't anything I need this year. But if you feel that I have been extra good and still want to bring me something, here are a few things I would not mind ending up in my stocking...

A new sharp vegetable peeler. Mine is old and dull. Don cursed 6 times last night when he was trying to peel the potatoes for me. I counted. But please don't put him on your naughty list. Other than that he has been a very good boy.

One of those hand held pastry blenders, you know, for mixing pie dough. Then maybe I could do some more baking. I would really like to try to make a Shephards Pie some day but I think it would be better if I made my own crust.

A muffin tin. Don't have one. Now that we don't live with Emily anymore I can't borrow hers.

A large crockpot. The one we have is too small for most things I want to make (like Corned Beef and Cabbage!) and one of its little tripod legs is broken so it wobbles.

I would love some new kitchen towels and wash cloths. All of mine or old and worn out. They don't have to be fancy. Just new and clean.

Some new regular white sweat socks. Again, old and warn out.

A subscription for Cooking Light magazine or any of the Cooking Light annual cookbooks (except for 2003 and 2004 since I already have those) so I can continue to find new inspiration for my cooking blog. Plus I really like Cooking Light magazine since it is organized by month and usually highlights the freshest in seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Nice heavy duty calphalon pots and pans with lids that are oven safe or a dutch oven. Time to wean out some of our old cheap ones, plus, Don melted one of the lids that wasn't supposed to go in the oven.

The Harry Potter DVD's - all five of them, I don't have any and I LOVE THEM. I especially love to watch them around Christmas time.

More exercise pants size medium and not too long please.

The list is not in any particular order of desire, just a few things I have been daydreaming about lately. Thanks Santa!

Love,
Cid Kid

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Proud Aunty Cindy

I just got these new pictures of my niece on her play date last night and had to show them off immediately. Amber is the one on the far right - the cutest one of course!

Now I got these pictures from my sister Kristy, not my sister Terri (Amber's Mom) who sent them to Kristy. And I am also told that Kristy got to talk on the phone to Amber (2 1/2 years old) the other night . Where's my phone call?!!!



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rockstar

Yep, I am officially a Rockstar. This weekend Don and I were introduced to and then promptly purchased the PS2 game Guitar Hero. Man is it fun! How awesome is it that we can play the guitar without actually having to learn how to play the guitar?! You can read all about it in Don's Blog. Anyway, after a full day of rocking out, something unexpected happened to me this morning at 9:00 a.m. in the grocery store parking lot. I was actually hit on by a decently attractive, genuinely nice, non-creep. When does THAT happen? After a brief encounter of him showing me how to get into the Washington Mutual ATM lobby during non-business hours (swipe your debit card on the side of the door) and my thanking him profusely as I may have never figured it out on my own, he started to walk away to his car, had a minor inner struggle and a few seconds later turned back to me. And his pickup line... "I'm sorry, just one more thing, I have to tell you that that sweater really brings out your eyes." He asked me my name, introduced himself, shook my hand and then asked with hopeful eyebrow raised, "Single?" I broke the news to him gently, told him that he made my day anyway and that for what it was worth, if I wasn't already married to the man of my dreams, I would have given him my number. The sweater in reference - my $10 sweatshirt hoodie from target with accidental paint splatters all over it from the Rebuilding Tacoma Project. Considering that I had not yet showered, put any makeup on, or dressed up in the slightest, I'm thinking it could only have been one thing that captivated him... my rockstar glow. I have my first groupie!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Personal Insight

I was rereading some archived posts on a friends blog and came across this introspective exercise. Thought I would share...

life would be simpler if... we had no debt.
i feel most beautiful... when I'm out in public with a group of powerful women.
the quality i like most about myself... is my natural ability to bring out other people's best qualities. Don't ask me how I do this. It just seems to happen.
the quality i like least about myself is... that I don't have any major goals for my personal life right now.
something that no one knows about me is... that I never pray.
something I'm proud of... That I'm still a Democrat even though we make a lot more money now. Go Hillary.
guiltiest pleasure? Snuggling with my dogs in bed.
high road or low road? High
my favorite possession is... my Bible. I think I would die without it.
when i was little, i wanted to be... a boy. Girl's were dumb. Then I became a woman.
what surprises me most about my adult life is... how long it takes to get your career started, buy a house, and be ready for kids. Weren't we supposed to have all this by the time we were 25? I'm shooting for 35 now.
the big decision i'm currently wrestling with is... how to be more generous with my tithing when I am still trying to pay off credit cards, save for a house, and plan for retirement.
my motto is... perfection is a selfish ambition. But a little kindness could change the world.

Anyone else want to give it a try?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Puppy Pics


Here's a little update on what Cordy and Seumas have been up to.


Cordy sunbathing. I didn't realize it until just now, but her stomach has actually gotten tanner since we've moved to California. I can't believe how pink she used to be. Now her tummy is a dark brown. This picture was taken the first month we were here.


I have a toy!


Seumas' first night after his surgery. Poor puppy. Cordy is standing guard to make sure he is all right. She was very gentle with him after the surgery while he was healing.

Wine Country


As I blogged earlier, I lost hundreds of pictures from my corrupt memory card in my camera but finally got around to uploading the few that were not destroyed. Here are a couple from our trip to wine country.


The Wine!


The View from Edna Valley Vineyard in San Luis Bispo.


Our Picnic Lunch on Saturday Afternoon.

Camille, the "Fruit" Loop

Congratulations Curt and Laurel

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 we attended the wedding of our dear friend Curt from college and his lovely new wife Laurel. They had a traditional ceremony and a very lovely reception. It is one of those weddings you just love to witness because the two people are so clearly made for each other. We have only met Laurel a few times but you don't need to be around her long to realize what a gracious and pleasant person she is and to see how happy she makes Curt. Congratulations you two! Here are a few pictures from the reception. You can see more in my webshots album.


The First Dance

The flower girls had more fun than anyone at the reception twirling in their dresses on the dance floor.

There was a light reception with drinks and appetizers, followed by the presentation of the bride and groom with dinner and dancing. Everything was very elegant and the food was delicious.

Party Pictures

November SoCal Forecast

This morning was a gorgeous cool foggy dewy morning. I couldn't resist stopping for a latte and an oatmeal currant scone on the way to work. I even had my heater running in my car. Here is the forecast for the rest of the week in case you were wondering. Extended forecast actually says it's supposed to be highs in the sixties next week. Might be time to get the sweater box down from the closet.





Today Tomorrow Wed Thu Fri
AM Clouds
PM Sun
Mostly Sunny Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy
High: 72°Low: 50° High: 76°Low: 52° High: 77°Low: 52° High: 72°Low: 51° High: 70°Low: 50°

Want to know what we've been eating?

I haven't been posting much lately because over the weekend Camille and I started a fun new blog together and that's where all of my blogging time has gone lately. We decided it would be fun to start a cooking blog where we share recipes we've tried and the stories that develop in creating them. We decided for this blog to focus solely on new recipes to give us some inspiration to get out there and try new things in the kitchen. We even gave it a flirtatious angle by calling ourselves the Cooking Kama Sutras. (Camille came up with the name. I said I wanted something sexy.) So when you get a chance, click on the link and check us out. And if you want to be part of the fun too, let me know and I'll send you an invitation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Don and I have a quaint Halloween planned. Nothing can top a DeMille or a Page Halloween Party (two of our friends up north who both host awesome Halloween Parties with elaborate decorations and even better company) so we are not even going to try. Our gaming group is getting together tonight for what else but gaming. Camille is making her spooktacular ravioli lasagna. I ordered "Freaks" from Netflix - a 1930's horror classic cast with authentic circus people. Maybe we will get around to watching it. I'm curious to see if we get any tricker treaters. I don't expect that many. I'm hoping to get home early enough to take Seumas for a walk in his "costume" - his little brown trench coat. I don't have a costume for Cordy but maybe I will throw her little pink sweater on or something.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Icky Sicky

Now that I am finally starting to feel better (not that this lingering cough is ever going to go away) poor Don has come down with a Virus of a different kind - the stomach flu. There is nothing quite so pitiful as hearing your partner lose their lunch from the next room. Heart wrenching :( The doctor happily confirmed that it was not a life threatening illness and ordered Don home to a day of bed rest. So I am happy that he is at home resting rather than trying to work through it. Still no word on when they will get the go ahead to start moving their shop but one thing's for sure... it won't be today. Looks like it's another week of Chicken Noodle soup for our house.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Top 10 things I am looking forward to about being well

Since I got back from Oregon, I have had a nasty cold. Let this be a lesson to all of you to always take your Airborn before flying. I remembered the Dramamine but I knew I was forgetting something. Anyway, I am finally starting feel like I'm on my way to recovery and I can't wait until this thing is completely gone. The way I have been coughing up a storm, some might mistake me for the beloved Demonhunters RPG character - The Tuberculotic Zombie Pirate.

And here are the Top 10 things I am looking forward to about being well:

1. Being able to breath.
2. Regaining my sense of smell.
3. Being able to wear appropriately weathered clothing (instead of a fleece jacket in the midst of a heat wave.)
4. Not having to go to the bathroom every ten minutes from drinking so much water.
5. Being able to work out and walk my dogs (poor kids, they are ticking time bombs of hyperactivity).
6. Sleeping in the same bed as my husband again (I have been sleeping in the spare bedroom so that I can sprawl and cough and fever sweat without bothering his sleep patterns and hopefully spare him of this dreadful disease.)
7. Having the energy to do the daily chores - cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping.
8. Making a trip to the farmer's market and planning some good healthy meals - I am reading "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" right now and it's inspired me to make an effort to support local farmers.
9. Being able to think clearly once the hazy fog is gone from my stuffy head.
10. And finally, being able to do something other than sit around and watch t.v. all day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Erasure

Don and I tried to download the 335 pictures from my camera to my computer last night only to find that the card was corrupt and we lost all but about 15 of the pictures. Gone from our digital memory are all of the pictures I took of Seumas after his surgery, our girls' weekend to wine country, and my trip home to Oregon with all of my pictures of my little niece Amber. I guess I will just have to rely on other people to take pictures and send them to me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Halloween ... in my dreams

The spooky Halloween holiday is fast approaching. I haven't thought about costumes or anything like that. I will have to see what I can throw together with what I have in my house. I don't feel like putting too much into it. But apparently I'm thinking about Halloween on some level because last night I had the following interesting dream...

I was still at home here in Eugene. But my friend Courtney's house (right around the corner from my parents) had somehow turned into a haunted house. Not the fake kind but a real live haunted house and somehow in order to save the world, I had to go inside and defeat the house. So along with about 30 other people, we entered willingly, some out of a sense of duty and some naively looking for a cheap Halloween thrill. We were all locked inside in haunted house fashion. Of course on the inside, it was not the familiar house of my best childhood girlfriend but a gigantic manshion with winding staircases and endless hallways with room after room. I banded together with a couple of other people for safety and we were going through the house with relative ease unlocking clues and doing quite well. But then as haunted houses are so good at doing, the house managed to separate us. As one girl entered through the door to the next room the house shut the door behind her and locked us out. By the time got the door open it was a completely different room and she was gone. Instead we were attacked by two ghouls (which for the most part looked like ordinary human beings with dark makeup under their eyes). I defended the party by picking up the one guy and swinging him around by his ankles and smashing his head against the wall over and over agin. Even in my dream I remember thinking, 'Wow. This does not make sense scientifically. With how much bigger and taller he is then me I should not be strong enough or tall enough to do this. Either I must have super strength right now from my adrenaline being up or ghouls must way a lot less than real humans do.' So I killed the first ghoul and then tried to do the exact same thing to the second but for some reason her head would not break. I think I must have woken up shortly after that because that is the last thing I remember.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Here I am in Eugene for a quick three day weekend trip. Arrived around 2:00 a.m. on Friday night (after two hours of flight delays). And I fly back to LA tomorrow evening. I am so glad to be home. It has been wonderful to see my family. My niece is just adorable. She is talking now which makes her 1000 times more interesting and I was already quite fond of her. Some of my favorite sayings for the weekend have included the following:

Standing in line at the food court in the mall, Amber says to random woman waiting behind us, "Hi Lady. Me Amber."

In the car with Mommy on the way to Grandma's house to see Aunt Cindy...
Terri: "Do you remember Aunt Cindy?"
Amber: "Want to see Seumas."

At the grocery store with Grandma and Aunt Cindy, Amber spots some Care Bear Stickers:
Amber points: "Care Bear Stickers Grandma!"Grandma hands stickers to Amber. Amber examines stickers and says, "Care Bears look sleepy." Cradles "sleepy" stickers to her cheek.

I met up with my good friend Summer on Saturday night. She gave me a fabulous haircut and then we went out to the bars. We had a very good time but I was irresponsible and mixed my alcohols (lots of them). I paid severly for it this morning and my hangover took me out most of the day which was a bummer considering my time here is short. But Terri and Matt are talking about trying to take a trip out to see us in January or February if they can work it out with their vacation time at work. So I'm really hoping they can make it work! I will be sad to go back to LA, but at the same time I miss my husband so I'm also looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Neighborhood Watch Puppy

We have an issue with our mail carrier. She leaves the front gate open. This to me does not seem like proper mail carrier etiquette. If someone's front gate is closed when you enter it, I think the common courtesy would be to close it again when you leave. Most of the time it is not a major issue since Don and I close it again every night when we get home from work before we let the dogs out.

But this last Saturday she got us. I let the dogs out the back door in the middle of the day and a few minutes later I hear Seumas barking. I go out in the back yard and I can still hear him barking but I don't see him. So I go around to the front yard and the darn gate is open. I can hear Seumas barking down the street. So I yell at Don, and bolt down the street in my fluffy winter socks (afterall it was only 65 degrees out). I come around the corner to find Seumas there in the middle of the road barking his head off. He has two cars completely stopped and he won't let them by. Luckily the drivers are both laughing their heads off instead of making tire tracks out of him. It was terribly dangerous and I'm definitely upset with our irresponsible mail person, but I still can't help but laugh at that hilarious site of Seumas taking on two full sized cars and claiming the entire block as our property on which he was not about to let them trespass. It looks like Seumas may have been neutered but he definitely has not lost his balls.

Cordy was a good girl and stayed in the yard where she barked safely behind the open gate.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Robbed!

This has been an interesting Monday morning. I arrived to work to discover that our building had been robbed over the weekend. I work in a three story building which is owned by the owner of our company. The finance department (that's me and Steve) are on the ground floor along with the auction salespeople (Michael and Rob) and our IT person (Val). The second floor is accounting, reception, marketing and all of the VP types who I actually don't really know what they do but they have big names on their door and look important. The third floor is rented out to a real estate company. So this morning, it appears that the ground floor (my floor) had been robbed over the weekend. Michael, Rob, and Val all had their computers stolen. For some reason they left mine and Steve's alone. Thank you Robber! Other than the missing computers, you could not tell anyone had even been here. No sign of forced entry and they did not trash the place. Kind of wondering if that disgruntled receptionist they fired last week has been back for revenge?

So Val, Michael and Rob are all trying to find some way to be productive this morning without a computer. Needless to say it's kind of difficult to make sales calls when you don't have any of your contact lists that were on your hard drive, nor any internet access to look up new information. And how exactly does an IT person do IT without a computer? Luckily, Steve and I were unaffected. So I can still process my credits, do my documents, and most importantly, blog about how we got robbed this morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Inspirational Savings

When it comes to saving money and exercising a little fiscal discipline, Don and I tend to follow the pattern of a crash dieter. We will be really good for a few of weeks, and then go on a splurge and undo a lot of the work we did to get ahead. Cursed credit cards! Well, the saga continues in our personal goal for paying off the credit card debt we took on to finance our sudden move.

The truth is we are making a decent income. We have enough money to pay the bills with a decent chunk left to spend, save, or apply towards our debt as we see fit. Which sometimes makes it difficult to stay on track. It's hard to put off buying something you want when you CAN afford it but really should be spending your money on something else. Especially if it falls into the category of something you can convince yourself that you NEED or that it is an INVESTMENT. Like new bras, new hiking shoes, celebrating with friends you haven't seen in a long time at a fancy restaurant or a trip to wine country. O.K. None of those things constitute a NECESSITY, but you also have to live your life a little. I guess good fiscal management is like a healthy diet and lifestyle where you have to allow yourself a treat here and there without going overboard. And the more you can pinch pennies here or there on daily basis, the faster you are going to reach your goals.

So, as a tool for helping me to reach my goal of getting our credit cards paid off (once again - seems like every time you pay it off, something else comes up), I decided to start a journal this morning. We had some cute little message pad tablets in our office supplies that are the perfect size to carry around in your purse. I titled my new journal "My Little Booklet of Inspirational Savings,"and I'm going to carry it around with me during the day to write down all of the ways that I succeed in saving money on a daily basis. For me, this is a very good motivator. I am a person who loves to see my own progress in written form. When Don and I did our Premarital Counseling tests and scored really high, we both said that we understood that the test results were not the be all end all predictor of the quality of marriage that we were going to have, but we were still really excited to get a good grade!

I am hoping that the process of writing down my little successes will help me to be motivated to keep on track and will also bring more consciousness and thoughtfulness to how I spend money. If this turns out to work really well then maybe I will have to start one for my diet and exercise too!

So far I have written down the following, "today I saved money by ..."

1. Eating groceries on hand for lunch and breakfast instead of going out.
2. Lowered electricity bill by going around the house first thing this morning and turning off all the lights that Don left on when he went to work.
3. Bought the cheapest DVD player I could find at Target ($30!) to replace the broken one by my treadmill, instead of one with lots of cool options.
4. Picked up a large bag of cheap dog food while I was at Target, thus saving on overall cost and saving on gas by turning one errand into two.
5. Did not use the airconditioner in my car or my house today.
6. Did not go around accelerating or speeding and wasting gas on my commute.
7. Will eat leftovers for dinner before they go bad.
8. Planned two more dinners this week using grocery items we already have in the cupboards.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Makeover

I've been thinking about updating my blog for a while to a fresh new look... but Camille beat me to it! Of course, this time I went with the shades of light blue. It is both my favorite color to wear and also reminds me of all the rain you all are getting while I walk my dogs in the sunshine. :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Happy :)

Last night we hosted Matt's Birthday BBQ at our house. Since we have such a nice space for entertaining that can accommodate a lot of people Matt and Camille asked if they could have it at our place instead of their very lovely, but somewhat more crowded apartment. And of course we said, "Of course!"

We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwursts, and corn. Also, we got to meet a lot of Matt's friends from AFI that we haven't met yet. It was a really pleasant crowd and all seemed to have a good time. The two comments we got all night which I don't think I will ever get tired of hearing were, "I love your house," and "I love your dogs." As always, Cordy and Seumas charmed the pants off of everyone. I love my life.

After a week long schedule of fun and celebration, today we start to wind down as Jeff, Tina, Brie and Steve get ready to fly out this evening. Our final planned event of this weekend is Brunch at Matt and Camille's on their Rooftop Sun Porch (the eight of us). Camille is making a brunch casserole, I will assemble my favorite fruit salad (golden delicious apples, strawberries, and blueberries with lemon yogurt dressing from scratch), and there is talk of Mimosas. Got to get ready to go now. Those Mimosas are calling my name!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Reminiscings

Some of my favorite reminiscings from last night...

Tina's story about her spunky three year old daughter who, when told recently, "I don't like your attitude right now little girl!" responded with, "Well, fine Mommy. Which attitude would you like then? This one (hands on hips emphatically)? Or this one (hands shrug in the air - whatever!?)?"

Jeremy's story about the bachelor party tattoo in Vegas, the messages he left for Katy asking her if it was o.k., his decision to get one anyway after he couldn't get ahold of her, and the "unwelcome" welcome home he got from the entire bachelorette party.

The time that Steve packed away three quarters of a leftover chicken and rice casserole in the time that it took Matt to go upstairs and change his clothes and come down to find Camille with her a gaping expression on her face. Is that humanly possible??????!!!!!!!!!!

And finally.......

Question: How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Answer: A Fish.

Surprise!

So, if you haven't been keeping track, this is the year that Don and I and a good majority of our friends all turn 30 years old. And it started last night with the first one of the year - Matt's 30th Birthday. Welcome to your 4th decade Matt! Well, Camille being the lovely wife that she is, has been planning a very grand surprise for Matt for this most special occasion for several months now. Matt was forwarned that there would be a surprise for his birthday, but he had no idea what that surprise was going to be. He had some guesses and wishful ideas of what it might be but Camille, with all of her might, managed to keep it in and never spoiled the secret. The two things that Matt did know was that there was a dinner planned for Friday night and a BBQ planned for Saturday, so whatever the surprise was going to be, he thought it most likely to show up on one of those nights. But for his actual birthday, Thursday, October 4th we were going to celebrate the day by doing two of the things Matt loves most, eating Camille's fabulous ravioli lasagna for dinner and GAMING!

So Matt and Camille arrive around 5:30 last night like any other Thursday night gaming night. I serenade Matt with a solo rendition of Happy Birthday and a large vanilla burning candle. I told him that since I didn't have 30 candles he would have to settle for one 30 pound candle. I explain that Don is running a little late from his meeting in Ontario and that I haven't heard from Jeremy and Katy yet but I'm sure they're on their way. It's all good though because that will give us time to start dinner and get the gaming room ready so that we can dive right in when everyone gets here.

And here comes the good part... Matt goes to set his bag in the gaming room and is surprised to see that Jeremy and Katy are already here sitting at the gaming table. Only Jeremy and Katy are four people instead of two people. Only Jeremy and Katy are not Jeremy and Katy at all but four of our dearest Washington friends flown in this morning to celebrate this milestone in Matt's life - Jeff, Tina, Steve and Brie! This realization prompts the chain link reaction of a stumbling motion backwards into the wall accompanied by a "What the f**k?!", followed by shouts of "SURPRISE!", much laughter, many cheers, and huge big bear hugs. And Tina caught it all on video with her camera.

We had a very fun evening of reminiscing about old memories, catching up on new memories, and getting old friends acquainted with new friends. Matt was glowing for the entire evening and declared it "the best birthday he has ever had." Our hopes and prayers for Matt's 30th is that his best birthday ever turns into his best year ever which turns into his best decade ever. Happy Birthday Matt :)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What's in a Name?

Inspired by Jenny and Camille. Thanks girls.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car), Kitty Dodge

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie), Mint Chocolate Chip No Bake

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name), C-Mes (Same as Camille's!!!!!!!!)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal), Teal Dachshund

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born), Jo Eugene

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first), Mesci

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink), The Sky Blue White Russian

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers), Johnny John

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy), Vanilla Chocolate Cherry

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ), Jean Earl

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter), Goewey Glasgow

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower). Advent Blossom

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”) Grapefruit Dressy Pants

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree), Luna Dogwood

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”), The Dog Training Cloudbreak Tour

That was way more fun than I thought it would be.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hiking

I joined a hiking club on meetup.com. It's really a great thing. They plan all of the hikes, give you the stats such as level of difficulty, how long, elevation gain, etc. They tell you a time and a place to meet and send you directions. All you have to do is RSVP and show up. So I am excited about this new hobby. On Saturday Don and I went to REI to get new hiking boots. One pair of hiking boots alone can be a spendy item, but two pairs really adds up! It reminds me of the time in Bellingham when we went out and bought our bicycles. I hope we get more use out of these. Ever since I took my girls trip to wine country the other weekend, I've awakened an interest to start getting out and exploring more of this new region that we live in. I can't think of a better way to do it than through hiking.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Coffee and Rain

It's raining this morning! Well, o.k., it's sprinkling very mildly... but it was enough to have to use my windshield wipers on my way to work! I love it! I'm wearing a sweater, jeans, and tennis shoes, and sipping a Mocha - my Friday morning treat to myself. Unfortunately it's an iced mocha. I wasn't thinking properly when I ordered it and now am wishing that it was all hot and steamy to complete my cozy rainy morning fantasy. Hmmm, that statement can be taken really the wrong way. I'm talking about coffee guys! I mean coffee... guys, not Coffee Guys.

So, back on track, there is the most adorable perfect little coffee shop called Marie et Cie in Studio City that I drive by on my way to work every morning. It has a fantastic atmosphere with the most adorable indoor and outdoor seating. They also have a store where they sell cards, home decor, and furniture - really cute eclectic stuff. The coffee is always excellent and consistent, the service is amazing, and it's way cheaper than Starbucks! I've grown very attached to my local coffee house, despite the fact that I'm not a huge coffee drinker. Plus, it is a one of a kind, locally owned place that has been around for 15 years so it makes me feel good to be supporting their business. So this coffee shop has become my new beacon of temptation. I have strong desire to stop in every single time I drive by it and I'm not exagerating. So, the only way I have been able to curb my temptation to drink lattes 10 times a week is to turn it into a special Friday morning ritual. Starting with Monday, as I'm nearing the coffee shop and my arms are starting to tense at the wheel urging me to pull into the parking lot, I tell myself no, that I have to wait for the end of the week. So as the days of the week go by and I get closer to Friday, the anticipation builds as I look forward to my special end of the week treat with Marie.

This being a ritual and all, of course I order the same thing every week - a white chocolate mocha over ice and a cranberry muffin. Now, when I say cranberry muffin, I'm not talking about oversweetened, dried cranberries. We're talking about whole fresh melt in your mouth juicy cranberries with this incredible orange glaze on top. It reminds me of the time my best childhood friend Courtney and I made fresh Oregon Blueberry homemade muffins from scratch at her mom's house to enter at the county fair. Now I have this incredible urge to run out and buy a muffin tin and start looking for different muffin recipes to play around with. Although, if I were able to come up with a cranberry muffin recipe to make at home that are as good at the ones at Marie's, that might not be the best thing in the world for me. It's dangerous to have access to that much power. However, as I was turning to leave the coffee shop this morning, my eye did catch an item in the pastry case that just might lead me to move on from the orange glazed cranberry muffin. Behold, the Rustic Apple Tart. I already can't wait until next Friday. Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PUPDATE

So Seumas is doing well in his recovery. The first night we brought him home he was definitely groggy and in pain. He whimpered every now and again - so helpless. It about tore our hearts out. Don and I did our best to comfort him. We wrapped him up in the afghan and nestled him between us on the couch and carried him outside so he could relieve himself every couple of hours. We also kept a close eye on him so that he wouldn't have to wear the cone thing as much as possible. For the first couple days he had some scabs and redness but those are starting to heal now. He doesn't seem to be in any pain anymore but he has been doing a pretty good job of monitoring his own activity level and keeping things low key. He still wants to jump off the couch and the bed though so we really have to watch him. Mostly he has been a little ball of utter sweetness. Of course we have been giving him the royal treatment including a diet of soft canned foods while he is still healing and lots of affection and attention. He is so good when we check him out to see how things are healing. He lays on his side for us and lifts his leg so that we can examine him. It feels pretty good to know he trusts us that much to voluntarily let us get that close to his wound. He still wants to lick a bit so during the day I shut him in the kennel by himself with the cone on and then take it off at night when we can watch him. He makes a pretty darn cute lampshade puppy. He obviously doesn't love to wear it but he deals with it pretty well. I just have to remember to take it off before I let him outside because it get's stuck in the grass and he can only move backwards and not forwards.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Drop Off

Today is Seumas' big day for his surgery. Luckily, I watched the episode of the dog whisperer earlier this week where Cesar takes in three rescue dogs from Hurricane Katrina to help rehabilitate them and in part of their physical healing process they all go in together to get spayed and neutered. So I followed Cesar's instructions for helping to make this the most positive and least stressful experience possible. We stuck to our morning routine as much as possible. Don got up and let the dogs out and then put them in bed with me where they got to snuggle for another 30 minutes or so. Then I got up and got ready for work like I normally do. when it was time I took Seumas for a big long walk to help him burn off energy, take care of his business, and get into a nice calm relaxed state before entering the vet.

When we arrived at the vet he did quite well, he was very curious about all of the other animals in the waiting area - sniffing cats in boxes and socializing with the other dogs. However, I didn't factor in the Friday morning rush. We had to wait in the little waiting area about 20 minutes or so before we were helped so Seumas had lots of time to absorb all of the weak energy from all of the other spooked animals in the office and by the end he was quite frightened himself and wondering what was going on. He became little hunch puppy with his tail between his legs and his big spooky eyes really unsure of what was happening.

And this was the hardest part. Cesar says never nurture an animal when they are in a weak state of mind because it only reinforces their fears. Instead, remain calm and assertive like nothing is wrong and allow them to learn to deal with the situation (assuming there is no true danger). It was the hardest thing in the world to not pick him up and shelter him when he tried to crawl up my leg for protection. But I maintained my "jedi cool" (as Kristy put it) and projected a confident energy that he had nothing to be afraid of. It felt so cruel but I knew that if I were to rush in to the rescue and cater to his fears that it would be more about making myself feel better than doing what was actually best for him.

So finally I filled out the paperwork and accompanied him during a quick check up and then they said to come back between 4 and 6 to pick him up. I plan to be there by 4:01. I am only trying to hold off until about 1:00 or 2:00 before I call the vet to check up on him. Now that he is out of sensory range I can express all the anxiety I want until I go back to pick him up again and see that he is all right.

Out of all of us, Cordy is taking it the hardest. When I stopped off at home to change for work she was running all over the house looking for Seumas and panicking. I could still hear her inside the house whimpering frantically when I was pulling out of the driveway. Poor Girl.