Tuesday, December 09, 2008

International Charges

Don and I had some fun last night in the UK. Except we didn't. However, somebody half way accross the world got ahold of our credit card information and charged up a night on the town. They had a very nice dinner at some place called Haskell's for $100. We're hoping they at least tipped the waitor well on our behalf. And they also visited the touchtone store probably for some prepaid phones. Such an interesting global and technological age we live in that we can steal from people on the other side the planet and all it takes is a little bit of information. Big Kudos go out to our credit card company who spotted the charges right away and called us before any of them went through. I guess something just didn't seem quite right that we could be having dinner at the PF Changs in Sherman Oaks and then a few hours later sipping tea with the Brittish???

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Preparations

Don and I won the get your Christmas Tree up the fastest contest. It is a contest right? We had the tree up by noon on Friday and decorated the same day. It took me three separate trips to Costco to get the tree skirt, garland, and stockings but I also found a few Christmas presents in the mean time so it all worked out. You have to try hard to create Christmas here. Since it feels like summertime, you wouldn't know what time of year it was without the decorations, music, and holiday treats that go with it. I am loving my christmas tree right now.

I recently learned that my 3 1/2 year old neice can type her own name on the computer. She can't write it yet but she can type it. It's so hard to fathom! I'm amazed by the miracle of it. I hope I can get a live demonstration next time we are on Skype together.

Don and I head home to Oregon in three weeks for Christmas. It will be the first time we've spent Christmas with my family since Don and I have been married. It will be my first Christmas with Amber. And it will be the first time Kristy, Terri, and I have all been home together for the holidays in even longer than any of the above. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I hope Mom and Papa have a really big tree to accomodate all of the presents we will be bringing for Amber.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

There are still some things about California weather that surprise me. Like the fact that this weekend for the first time this year, we finally turned the heat on in our house. All be it, it was only for an hour in the morning and later that afternoon it got up to 75 degrees. We're definitely spoiled in that respect. I love that I can get up and walk the dogs every morning without worrying about rain. But when it comes to the holiday season, there's still a part of you that longs for the crisp chilled air to match the season and get you into that fall/winter spirit. This week the weather is cooperating. We are experiencing something this morning I haven't seen in a lllloooooooonnnnnngggggg time. FOG. It's so beautiful. And it forces Los Angeleans to do something they never do, slow down on the commute. We should also have a couple of days of rain this week and a few highs in the upper sixties. Brrrrrrr. At least I'll get to wear my new fall coat!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It's a sad title for this moment in history. Last night as we watched the electoral map turn blue and the election was called in favor of Obama, the immediate response was elation and celebration. Shouting, jumping, cheering, hugging. Then it went to solemn awe as we tried to fathom the giant leap our country had taken in electing the first African-American President of the United States. Not that this was a condition that qualifies him, but for the first time in history, it did not disqualify him either. I've never felt so patriotic or proud to be an American. It's a true measure of what democracy can achieve. I'm awed by the power of a grass roots campaign that came from the people, by the people, for the people. And I have great hopes and aspirations for the healing of a nation that is desperately in need of healing. Nathan shared a quote with us last night. He couldn't remember where it came from, but it goes something like this: "Rosa Parks SAT so that Martin Luther King could STAND. Martin Luther King STOOD so that Barack Obama could RUN. Barack Obama RAN so that we can FLY."

Even in the celebration and awe of this profound moment, there is still sadness. My new state, California, voted to ban gay marriage, overturning a decision not six months ago to amend the state constitution to extend the legal rights of marriage to same sex couples. I wish I could celebrate the victory of the new presidency with unrestraint. But for me it is still a sad day where the human rights we celebrate for some are still denied to others.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Numbers

Tomorrow is the official initial weigh in for the start of our Biggest Loser contest at work. But I have the unofficial results. My own weight was pretty much what I expected - 144 pounds. It's Cordy and Seumas' weight that really shocked me - 25 pounds and 19 pounds respectively. OUCH! A healthy weight for them should be about 20 and 15 pounds. They have as much weight to lose as I do! Don is also showing support. He offered to get up with me in the mornings to walk together with the dogs and maybe even do some yoga. I'll also be changing my eating habits quite a bit, 4-5 small meals a day instead of 2-3 larger ones. It's a trick I've learned from watching the Real Biggest Loser show to consume less calories overall but keep your metabolism in high gear. I'm even considering creating an alter ego for my workout persona so that even when I don't feel like working out, I can pretend to be someone else who can't get enough of it!

This may not be the true spirit of the contest, but of course I celebrated my last weekend before the weigh in by consuming everything I won't be allowed to eat for the next two months - pizza, hamburger, fries, chocolate souffle, beer, martinis, mocha, soda and donuts. Bye bye high calorie foods.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Biggest Loser

We started a Biggest Loser Competition at work. $25 buy in. Contest goes from November 3rd to January 5th. Karen is bringing her scale to work and we are going to weigh in every Monday. At the end of two months, the colleague who has lost the greatest percentage of body weight takes home the winnings. We are all excited about the idea of getting healthy and losing weight. But we are also having huge blast trash talking each other despite the fact that we haven't even started yet. It's been a while since I've done anything truly competitive and I think this will be a lot of fun. Everybody wish me luck.

Since I will be walking the dogs a lot, I've decide to also weigh in Cordy and Seumas so that they can have their own biggest loser competition as well. Whichever wiener dog loses the greatest percentage of body weight, wins a night of sleeping in the big bed with Mommy and Daddy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time for Two

Happy Monday morning. Don and I just came off of a lovely weekend. It was the first weekend since I can't even remember that we spent the whole time just the two of us. We are blessed to be surrounded by an amazing group of friends here who have become our family away from home. We love spending time with them, love hosting and entertaining, even just hanging out and doing laundry together. But while we love all of that and don't intend to scale back, it was a golden opportunity to indulge in alone time this weekend and reconnect as a couple.

Here are just a few things we did:

- Bought the new Batman Lego Game and played on our new PS3.
- Went grocery shopping together.
- Bought a beautiful new dish set at Target.
- Got a burger at Fatburger.
- Cooked Dinner together.
- Sat out and sunned in the backyard with the dogs
- Watched the Tudors on Netflix
- Started our first little bit of Christmas shopping.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Credit Card Debt Free

Just made the last payoff amount to our credit card and put our first chunk of savings into our "down payment for a house fund." Man that feels good!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meal Plan

My sister, Terri, says it takes 30 days to form a new habit. Well after one week of cooking awesome meals, I think I'm converted. So here's another weeks worth of meals planned out, recipes printed, and groceries stocked. It's going to be a good week. Watch the cooking blog for reviews.

Monday
Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Tuesday:
Thai Style Ground Beef

Wednesday:
Camille's cooking dinner!

Thursday:
Feta Chicken and Vegetables
Citrus Couscous Salad

Friday:
Turkey Jambalaya
Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lots of updates this week on the cooking blog

http://cookingkamasutras.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Hour of Power was muy successful. Mostly because I delegated a bunch of stuff and got down towards the bottom of my inbox. Time for a snack break and then the push through to 5'oclock. Can't wait for gaming tonight!

Hour of Power

I learned this term from Emily Olson. This is when you don't feel like working, so you set a timer for an hour and work really hard and see how much you can get done by the time the timer goes off. So I'm setting the timer, going to see if there's anyway I can get through my inbox and notes by the end of the hour. Too much on my plate. I'd pay money if I could have no phone calls or sales people interrupting me over the next hour. Except then I would be paying money to work, which is just wrong. Back in an hour!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Late night menu planning

Yes, I'm still alive. I've definitely lost touch with the blogging world. It was much easier to keep up with when I had a boring job and time to kill all day long on the computer. Now that I'm busy at work, there's no down time during the day and not so much feeling like sitting in front of the computer when I get home. So here, is a self reminder that blogs don't have to be extensive. Quickie updates are OK too.

So one of the shows I've discovered with my reintroduction into the world of television (by the way, love that TIVO thing!) is the Biggest Loser. What a fun show and very motivating. Since we've moved into our new place we have a huge living room so I've been able to keep my treadmill in there and use it so much more. As you can see from Don's blog, we even taught Cordy to walk on the treadmill! It's soooo cute. So I'm in better shape than I have been in a while and thinking about setting some kind of goal whether it be joining a basketball league or running a race.

Also, I've been a little uninspired for a while on the cooking and mealplanning so the show has also been a good motivator to get back into that some more. I just created a fabulous menu of dinners from the week and was so excited I have to share. So here's what's serving up at the Early Household this week:

Sunday:
Sirloin Steaks with Mushroom Sauce
Spicy Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

Monday:
Parchment Baked Halibut with Pesto, Zucchini, and Carrots
Green & Yellow Wax Beans with Roasted Pepper

Tuesday:
Roasted Pepper-Pesto Tomato Pizza
Greek Dinner Salad

Wednesday:
Smoked Turkey, Brie, Green Apple, and Watercress Sandwich
Strawberry-Kiwi Salad with Basil

Thursday:
Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Sweet & Spicy Sauce

Friday:
Linguine with Sauteed Shrimp & Coconut Lime Sauce
Broccoli with Red Pepper Flakes and Toasted Garlic

All of these recipes can be found on the MyRecipes.com website and by following the links above. I will be off to the Encino Farmer's Market in the morning to pick up some fresh ingredients. Watch our Cooking Kama Sutras Blog for reviews of the recipes throughout the week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Let the Moving Begin

Things are happening. This morning I go to pick up the keys to our new place and we can start taking loads over. I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about the move. Not excited to leave the current place but excited to save money. I'm more focused on the actual physical process of the moving than the end result of being in the new place. At this point I'm happy to get started and ready to be done. The house is definitely smaller than the one we have now and the layout is really different, so I've been having trouble in my mind figuring out how to arrange things and what will fit where. We'll just have to start putting things in and see where they fit.

I think the things that I will miss the most about this house are the covered porch, the gaming room, and the central air. But it's always liberating to downsize. I'm excited to have a smaller house that's easier to clean, to leave more things in storage, and to finally have a dishwasher.

In other exciting news, I had an unexpected surprise yesterday when my boss pulled me in his office and told me I was getting a raise! Not due for a review or anything. Just, a 'we're really glad you're here, you're doing a great job, and we want to give you more money,' kind of thing. There's nothing quite so strong of an affirmation as putting your money where your mouth is, particularly when it's in my pocket! It's also nice to know that the long hours I've been putting in have been worth it. With our new employee that we just hired (She's great!), there are a lot of exciting things happening for us. In a stagnating economy, it's nice to be with a company where business is booming and significant growth is happening, and it's exciting to be a part of that success.

Given the savings we're about to incur on our new rent, and factoring in my raise that just went into effect, we'll be netting almost a full grand in monthly income to our favor. Given the circumstances, I finally caved and allowed Don to do something we haven't done in a very long time... order Cable television. Soon to be installed in our new house, we are about to be the proud hosts to 200+ digital channels including On Demand Options and TIVO capabilities. If you don't hear from me for a while it is because I have fallen into the abyss of the Home and Garden Channel.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Approved!

Just heard from the landlord that we are pretty much approved for the new place. He just needs to call to verify our employment. We can come by tomorrow to pick up the forms. It will be sad to leave our current place and a major pain in the @$$ to pack. But can you imagine what we can do with an extra $750 a month?!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stress

We really have been living the good life since we moved to California. Something of a "Honeymoon Period" you could say. It's the happiest Don and I have ever been. We've been inspired and satisfied by our work. We haven't had to worry about finances. We've established great friendships. We've enjoyed the environment and the culture. We've basically been worry free for a while now. Oh, how I wish that feeling could last forever. I really had forgotten what it's like to be burdened by stress, anxiety, doubts, and burdens. But we've had plenty of them in the last couple of weeks. It really is true that what women want most in life is security. That doesn't mean to me that we have to make tons of money (although I won't turn it down if it comes my way.) But I'm not good with the unknowns. I hate being in limbo. I hate uncertainty and not knowing what my future holds - especially with something as large as where I'm going to be living next month. Not that there isn't excitement in it too. But I prefer the stability of the even keel rather than the huge peaks and valleys of the emotional tidal wave we've been riding this month. Stress sucks. It messes with your head. It messes with your heart. And it really messes with your sleep. But, really after a whole year of bliss, I guess I can't complain too much about our minor struggles in the grand scheme of things. Life moves ahead and we are just along for the ride. We might as well try and enjoy it as best we can.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Small Steps

If we are going to be moving, there is lots to be done. Still waiting to hear on the application if we were approved or not. Tonight I've decided to spend working on our home office. My desk needs some major cleaning and there are lots of things to throw out, recycle, donate and shred. There's nothing like the giant task of moving to motivate you to pair down and simplify your life. It's actually quite liberating.

Cooling Down

Also, I forgot to mention... We have been having a lovely heat waive. 4 days last week with highs over 110F. Things have finally cooled down. The high today is only supposed to be 85! I may celebrate by doing errands tonight which I have been avoiding since it was too hot to get in and out of the car.

This one's for you, Grandma

I realize the blogs have been few and far between. Work has been busy with not much "down time." But here's an update for our loved ones so you still know we're alive and kicking. I need to remember that even when I don't have time to launch an extended detailed monologue, short posts with the basics are still acceptable.

So, yes, we are alive, and some pretty big things going on. Our lease expired and it was time to renew. The landlord decided to raise the rent which made us a little bitter. Given the fact that we had good payment history and that property values were dropping while our expenses are going up, we just couldn't see how she could justify the increase. Also, with the economy in such a bunch, we just don't feel as stable as we did a year ago this time. So it got us to thinking, and we decided to at least look around and see if there were any other reasonable options that might save us a chunk of change. Well, long story short, in less than 24 hours, we found a 2 bedroom house in our direct neighborhood for significantly less. $750 a month less! Sure there are a few downgrades, and a little less space. But still has the essentials and really, plenty for the two of us and the dogs. This has been a nice place but more than we need. So we applied and will find out later this week if we were accepted. Can't imagine why we would be declined. And if accepted we will be moved in to the new place by the end of next month.

Also, at work, our new hire starts next week. It will be a lot of time to get her trained but she seems pretty bright and I think she will do well. So maybe some day down the road I will actually be able to work a normal schedule. In the meantime, I may have to put in some extra time this weekend to get some more training materials put together.

The 4th of July is coming up and my sister Kristy is coming to visit! I can't wait to see her and to plan some fun things while she is here. We will most likely host a BBQ on the 4th. We also want to do some hiking and go to the beach. Also, I'm looking forward to the 3 day weekend!

Finally, we just found out that Don's short film from the 48 hour film project won the viewer's choice award for their group! Way to go Babe! This means they make it to the next round and could potentially win some prizes or at least some notariety! They are working on a director's cut of the film. As soon as it's ready they'll post it on YouTube and I'll put up the link for it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

80's Gothic Skate Night



Here are a few pictures from our recent skating outing. I haven't been skating since I was a little girl. It's a lot more difficult when you are thirty. The balance and coordination were much easier when you only way 80 pounds. Plus, it hurt less when you fell down. Go to my Webshots Album for more pics.




New Photos / Old Photos

Better late then never. Here are some pictures from our girl's weekend to wine country last November. My camera had a glitch and I lost about 300 pictures that I had taken. Now I know better and unload them more frequently. Anyway, Paige just recently brought me copies of the pictures she took from that weekend. Here are a few sample pics. The rest you can view in my Webshot Albums.


Here we are at the start of our road trip getting so happy to be getting out of the city!


A lovely viewing stop along the way.


A picture of Camille and I in front of Edna Valley Vineyards. Let the wine tasting begin!




Bottums up!


Statuette and I guarding the grounds of Hurst Castle!


The most beautiful outdoor pool I have ever seen in person. I want to swim in it! Check out the webshots album for pics of the indoor pool!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Roots

Over the past weekend, Don spent 48 hours in a film competition which left me to entertain myself. So Saturday evening, Paige and I decided to get together and do something. Since she has headshots coming up (very expensive headshots), she needed to die her hair to cover up her roots and grow out. So I invited her to bring the die over and we could watch movies and hang out during the dying process. Well, to make a long story short, we never got around to the actual hair die part, but we certainly did get down to our roots. While looking through our DVD shelf to see if we had anything interesting, Paige got super excited when she noticed that we had a couple seasons of our mutual childhood favorite cartoon "Heman and the Masters of the Universe." As soon as I mentioned that watching those cartoons always makes me want to color in coloring books we had sealed our fate that that was how we would spend our evening. So off to Target we went to pick up some new coloring books, coloring crayons, and of course a nice little stash of junkfood for our childhood flashback playdate. Even though many of the crayons from our brand new box we discovered to be broken upon opening, and the coloring book selection was nothing like it was when we were kids, we still ended up having a quite enjoyable evening. As Paige mentioned, coloring in your 30s is so much more satisfying than when you were a kid. You can actually stay in the lines and the finished product is much nicer!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Out of Place

This morning, on my way to work, I saw a Toyota Camry with racing stripes on it. Does that sound out of place to anyone else?

Speaking of out of place, yes, I am working on a Sunday. I don't plan to make a habit of it, and in fact, I'm not actually working on "my work." Meaning, the active deals and stuff that I have sitting in my inbox, I am purposefully not going to touch today. What I did come in to do though, is to put together a training manual with sample documents, forms, and procedures. No one has ever taken the time to put together any kind of resource for new employees and since our staff is growing, I wanted to do that now. It will help A LOT with the training process in the coming weeks and months and save me lots of time in the long run. So, yes, I am giving up one Sunday to do this project. And truth be told, there is something rather peaceful that I relish about being here by myself, in the peace and quiet, with no distractions, no phone interruptions, no salesmen at my heals with their emergencies that need immediate attention. Just me, my Starbucks, and my NPR. It really isn't the worst way to spend a Sunday.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ready...Set...Relax

As you can tell by the lack of posting, life has been a bity busy and chaotic lately. Both Don and I have been working long hours at work. My work is in transition and currently and have slowly been learning how to and who to delegate certain things to certain people to carry over until our new crew is up to speed. Of course in the meantime, I am carrying the brunt of the load, in certain areas at least. So long hours, a bit of stress, having to make some of my first major middle management decisions. All of it is pretty exciting and I'm happy about where we're going but putting that much energy and time into my professional life has put my personal life temporarily on hold. Haven't seen too much of Don in the past few weeks and the dishes and laundry have suffered tremendously.

Enter Katy and her 28th birthday to the rescue. Katy and Jeremy have a timeshare that allows them to book and stay at a certain series of hotels in a number of different touristy hot spots. For her birthday weekend she decided to book a trip to Solvang. Off we went for a very exciting trip and chance to get away. Although I missed my dogs we had a really fabulous time (the six of us - me and don, jeremy and katy, matt and camille.) Solvang is an adorable little danish town in Santa Barbara area. We had some fun in the pool, ate a lot of good danish food, and did a lot of wine tasting. Don and I are going to be a bigger wine cabinet now! While I admit it took a little while to get detached from thinking about all of the things I "should" be doing at work and at home, I'm excited to say I did finally achieve a state of relaxation, free from worry and obligation. It was a very fun weekend with good friends, good food. A true vacation.

Now that I'm back to work, I have my priorities for the week laid out and am making a point to get even better at delegating so that I can stick to my regular hours. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

Children so often get the benefit of praise from their parents, but it's not often the other way around. Of course, when you are little, parents are all-knowing people who don't need feedback because they're just doing what every parent would automatically do. As you grow older though, you come to understand how hard parenting really is and that, unfortunately, not all children are as blessed to have parents as wonderful as I do.

Well, Mom, I don't think a parent could have done better by a child. When I look at my life and how happy I am, all of the things I am most thankful for come from you ...

... a happy marriage... Seeing from your's and Papa's marriage, how two people can be so committed to each other, love and value each other so much, stick together through tough times, treat each other with respect and honesty. I'm so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend at my side and to know that this is the most important thing in life.

... security ... I know what it means to come home to a house everyday where I am loved and well cared for. It is a good feeling to know that whatever happens in life, even in the worst of circumstances, I'll never be homeless, destitute, or alone because I will always have friends and family who will support me and see me through to better times.

... compassion ... I'm grateful for inheriting your sense of empathy and compassion for others who are struggling and have not yet found their way in life. Because of you I am able to see the best in people rather than focusing on the worst.

... success ... For all of your confidence in me, for everything that you invested in my opportunities and education, for raising me with the belief that I could achieve anything I set out to do.

... health and wellness ... For teaching us about nutrition, feeding us balanced meals, learning about hunting and growing our own gardens, and supporting healthy activities like basketball and volleyball.

I really couldn't ask for more than that. I love you and thank you for making me the person I am.

Oh, and just one more thing. Thanks for passing on your great genes in the looks department!

Happy Mothers Day.

Friday, May 09, 2008

LARP-ing Wiener Dog

Stands for Live Action Role Playing. Which basically means running around and hitting each other with foam swords. It was quite the entertainment at Don's Bday BBQ. So much fun, that Seumas even got into it. Check out the hilarious video.


video

Friday, May 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Honey

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband who crosses the bridge to a new decade today. 30 years old! I love you baby and I look forward to seeing where we end up by the time the next decade turns over. I'm sorry we couldn't make it to Washington like we planned. But I promise a very special birthday celebration right here in California. We have made special reservations for tonight for a really cool event but I can't tell you about them yet because Don doesn't know where we are going. It's a surprise! And then tomorrow we are hosting a lovely BBQ in our backyard. The weather is cooperating beautifully with highs in the 70s to low 80s. If only we didn't have to squeeze a trip downtown in sometime this weekend to pick up Don's mini from the dealership due to getting a tire replaced that got damaged the other day. Oh well, at least the house is MOSTLY clean and all we have left to do before the BBQ is a little light picking up and some grocery shopping. And I plan to take a half day from work today so I should be able to get most of that done and then have all weekend to celebrate.

In other exciting news, we finally got a doggie door installed in the back and some temporary fencing to keep the pups in the backyard (since there is no separation in the gate/fence between the front and back yard.) So we are trying out this new venture. It is pretty fun to see Cordy's and Seumas' little walnut sized brains trying to figure out how the thing works. We had lots of practice last night coaxed by many treats. Seumas is much brighter than Cordy. She can't figure out where exactly to push on the door to get it to open. So she stands by and watches Seumas and waits for him to get it propped open a little and then plows him over and rushes ahead herself. Come to think of it, that is pretty clever. Maybe she is the smarter one! I promise some action photos soon of the dogs using their new exit along with pictures of our BBQ and Don's birthday weekend.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Memoirs of a Geisha

I finally finished the book yesterday afternoon. And wow, the payoff was good, though not what I was expecting. A very good story from start to finish which swept me off my feet. Feeling somewhat saddened that the story was over, I immediately went to the video store to rent the movie. Don watched it with me. It was a good movie, though not nearly as powerful as the book, and a little less satisfying. Don really enjoyed it since he was able to watch it as a stand alone movie, as opposed to myself who was comparing it to the story in the book. He particularly appreciated all of the symbolism they were able to portray cinematically such as water imagery, etc, which I confess I missed much of focusing on other things. In my case, much of the movie felt a bit rushed and a little more shallow than the depth of layers and emotions the book was able to bring out. Still, it was interesting to see what kinds of adjustments and changes they made from book to movie to convey the same story. In the end, I recommend both but the book is much better.

So after finishing such a satisfying book, I'm now on the hunt for the next interesting read. Perhaps a new book club is in my not to distant future.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reviews Continued

The next review comes with a disclaimer. ***WARNING: Book may be hazardous to your sleeping patterns.*** O.K., now that we've got that out of the way, I wanted to share that I am currently reading Memoirs of a Geisha. This book was highly recommended by my friend Katy who leant me her very own copy. We have been in the stages of planning an adventure for our gaming group based off of the world of Serenity/Firefly (movie/tv series) and I was thinking about creating a character who was a registered companion. Katy mentioned that there were many similarities between the ways of the Geisha and those of a Registered Companion and so it might be interesting background reading for me. Boy was she right! Interesting indeed! So far I am only a third of the way through the book but it is quite the page turner. The book takes place in Japan during the Great Depression. It is a very compelling tale of a young impoverished girl's plight through being orphaned, indentured, and her rise to status through her training as a Geisha. It is not an easy life and one wonders how such a young child can bear the burdens she is given to carry. With so much tending toward the dramatic, it is building up for an expected major payoff toward the end. I hope I will not be left unsatisfied.

Additionally, with Don being gone this week at the Gamma Trade Show in Vegas, my sleeping patterns have been odd with Cordy and Seumas as my bedmates. Cute and snuggly as they are, I can never quite sleep as soundly as I would like to through the night when they are in bed with me. So I have been waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling back to sleep. Well, last night, rather than lie awake with the boredom of my own thougths which usually tend to drift back towards work, I decided to pick up my book and read a chapter or two thinking it would put me back to sleep as reading usually does. Wrong! Not this page turner. 75 pages and 3 hours later it was 3:00 a.m. and I had to force myself to put the book down and go back to sleep. This morning, I was so tired in the shower that I accidently tried to wash my face with conditioner! Well, I may be a little groggy, but at least my skin is well moisturized!

Reviews

I started a new television show called The Riches last night on Netflix. It is a series starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. I found the show one day when I was IMDB'ing Eddie Izzard to see what projects he had been up to lately. When I read the show's synopsis, I was curious. It's about a con artist family (that's right, mom, dad, three kids) who decide to give up their nomadic life and gypsy ways to pull off the biggest con of all - staying rooted and living the life of a "normal" (on the show called "buffers") suburban family. Well, I have to admit, that based on the concept of the show and the cast, I expected the episodes to be mostly comedic in nature. So I was pretty surprised when the Pilot ended up being much more serious in tone. The whole setup for how they end up in their situation is actually quite serious and a little disturbing. After watching the second episode, it's clear that the series is a drama in nature, but will have the opportunity to work in lots of elements of circumstantial comedy. It's still good and very interesting, but far different from what I was expecting.

I have more reviews to follow but work that I need to get to so check back later for updates.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Plus One

Today I found out some news from my boss that actually comes as very good news. Eventually, we will be adding another full time person to our office to do similar work as I do. I am a bit relieved actually. When I was hired they let one gal go. Two of the office personnel are transitioning into other sales related roles. Which just leaves me and one part time person. I haven't been here long enough to get a grip on the kind of volume we will be handling, so it isn't so much that I was worried that one and a half people couldn't handle the volume. But this definitely puts us in a much better position to grow. Mostly, though, I am relieved to know there will be another full time me because that gives me a lot more freedom scheduling wise and to take vacation days, etc. Don't know how soon that will be happening... sometime in the next six months or so. But I feel good about where we are as an office and where we are headed. All good signs I'm still in the right place.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Organization Sensation

Wow, this has been a busy week. We had a rush at work this week for the first three days. Lots of credits, approvals, documents, and fundings! Then my boss and one of our lead sales guys went out of town. It took me a day and a half of long hours to catch up, but catch up I did. Today I had no new items coming in on my desk. It was the perfect day. I had the opportunity to go through all of my files, organize them, and create checklists for future files that will keep everything organized and make things go much more efficiently from here on out. My Type A personality is supersatisfied. I feel like I finally have a work flow and a system that makes sense. Now I can look in any file, know where everything is at, look at my list and see exactly what's missing and what still needs to be done. Think of how much time it will save!!! Did I mention I'm glowing. Come on, other Type A's out there. Can you not identify?

It has been a busy week at home too. Don and I applied for Life Insurance this week through Thrivant Financial Aid for Lutherans. It turns out that our rep is a close friend of one of the guys I work for. Small world. Anyway, part of the underwriting is that you have to go through a medical exam and medical history to determine how healthy you are and how much of a risk you are. So they sent a "portable nurse" to our house to draw blood, weigh us, measure us, and take down our medical history. Kind of nice that they come to your house. The results of our check up will determine what our premiums will be. Don is more expensive because he is a boy.

Everyone at my work has been sick with a superbug and so far I have been lucky enough not to catch it because I had a small cold a couple of weeks ago. I have been struggling with allergies though. I've started experimenting with different over the counter allergy meds - benadryl and all clear. They make a huge difference however they also knock me out. Last night was gaming night and I couldn't stay awake. I conked out at 8:30! If anyone has tried any allergy meds that work and don't drain your energy, I'd be open to hearing about them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Demo Blog

My coworker Bill is trying to figure out how blogs work. This is a demonstration for him.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Made Over

What a fun weekend! After hiking on Sunday, I pretty much crashed for the rest of the day exhausted. But Sunday was a great day. We started by meeting Jeremy and Katy and the Farmer's Market in Studio City and had lunch at the Indian Buffet. Then the four of us headed over to The Grove and caught up with Matt and Camille for the new movie 21 about the MIT kids who make a bunch of money counting cards at blackjack. Very fun movie! Afterwards, the girls wanted to do some shopping so the boys went and found themselves a nice pub to enjoy a few beers.

Our shopping day was sooo much fun. We all got makeovers at the makeup counter at Nordstrom by professional makeup artists who made us look like models. So I picked up some new makeup and also found two new pairs of jeans that fit all the crucial elements - petite legs, comfortable, and slimming! SUCCESS! I got one pair in blue and one in black. The black ones are actually nice enought to pass for business casual so I am so excited that I can actually wear them to work.

So with the girls all dolled up from our makeovers, we were definitely in going out mode, so we finished the evening by going out to dinner at one of Matt and Camille's favorite places - The 101 Cafe - a cute little old school diner where they serve breakfast all day and old fashioned soda drinks like egg cremes and cherry cokes. It was a fun day had by all and with our new makeup in tow, us girls are scheming to plan some more "going out" events in the near future. There is even talk of swing dancing. I am so thankful for such a great group of friends that all get along and enjoy each others company. We have so much fun doing couple things together but then also can split up every now and then and have girl time and guy time too. How did we get so lucky? Next weekend we may be doing a day at Renfair. I have never been before but Jeremy and Katy are pros who have worked their quite a bit. So it will be nice to go with someone who is familiar with it and can show us around.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

7 Miles!!!

As I have been alluding to in my blog, we finally did our JPL hike yesterday. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! Such a lovely opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and commune with nature again. Cordy and Seumas were troopers hiking a total of 7 MILES with Camille, Mary, and me. It was such a great way to start the weekend and although the dogs and I spent the rest of the day achy and exhausted, we can't wait to get out and do more. I am posting some of the pics below. As you can see from the first one, we discovered that Cordy thinks she is a water dog.



Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Awake

So it's 3:00 a.m. and here I am at the computer. And I owe it all to the half a bottle of wine I drank with my dinner. It was great for knocking me out but once I woke up around 1:00 I am wide awake for the rest of the night. After laying in bed for a couple of hours and getting bored of my own thoughts in my head, I decided to get up and be somewhat productive by doing some finances on the computer and now a quick blog. Aside from the insomnia, it was overall an exceptionally great Monday. It included another good day of work, followed by a trip to the dog park, back home for an easy, healthy and tasty dinner with the aforementioned bottle of wine, and some fun socializing with Jeremy and Katy. And now I am headed back to bed. Hopefully, getting a couple of productive things out of my awakeness will give me the peace of mind to slip back into a relaxing state and fall asleep again. Good day and good night.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bright Sunshiny Day

We live in this wonderful state where you can pretty much be outdoors all year round and as of late, I am feeling extremely inspired to plan some more interesting weekend adventures. As you can see from my previous post, Don and I, Katy and Jeremy, Matt and Camille, and Rian and Anne Marie all made it out to the Grove for lunch at the Farmers Market today. I love being able to sit in an outdoor market in march in flip flops and sunglasses, jeans and a t-shirt and enjoy the company of wonderful friends. Poor Anne Marie was lamenting about the snow in Portland they were about to return to. How lucky I am! So instead of letting the weekends pass me by with Don sleeping until 1:00 p.m. because he has nothing better to do, I am hoping to start planning some exciting things to do on the weekends with which to update my blog. Particular events I hope to be able to post about soon include hiking trips, trips to the beach, Sherman Oaks festival coming up, afternoons at the dog park, evening barbecues, trying new restaurants, and maybe a japanese garden. I better keep my camera battery charged! In the mean time, here are a few more pics from our afternoon at the Grove.

Where we at.


The view from our table.
Jeremy's plate of things that crawl around in the ocean


Matt and Camille


Don and me in front of Huntington Meats - the best meat market in town


Katy (next to Matt) wearing her new SLS Voice Instructor T-Shirt.
Congratulations on your certification!


Shhhhhh! Don and Jeremy are eating Hush Puppies. Apparently they are supposed to go well with the Alligator that Don ordered. Yes, I said Alligator.

Camille sporting her new "I need a haircut hat" from her recent trip to Catalina Island.
Watch her blog for details on the fun filled family weekend.

Farewell and Godspeed

We had a bittersweet weekend as we had a lovely send off for our friend Rian who is relocating to Portland where his girlfriend lives. Her name is Anne Marie and we finally got to meet for the first time this weekend. It can definitely be said that they are a great match for each other. We whole heartedly approve! So, though it is sad to see him leave it could not be for a better reason and we are all very excited for him. Rian, best of luck and we hope things go great for you and Anne Marie in Portland. Come back and see us soon!


Don and Rian packing up a few items from the Early storage warehouse

Cordy and Seumas try to hitch a free ride to Oregon

Lunch at the Farmers Market in the Grove before Rian and Anne Marie hit the road


Rian enjoying his awesometastic french dip sandwich.


The Happy Couple - Best wishes you two!

Like the rest of us, Seumas was so depressed after Rian left he could barely move.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Well, as you can see from my lack of posting, life has become a bit fuller and busier since I've joined the working world. Not as much time to sit and reminisce about my day as I am busy with the doing. Work is still going very well. It is so exciting to take a process that I am already familiar with and apply it in a new way. It feels great to be learning new things and be challenged again. My days go by quickly as I am constantly busy and always have something to do.

I also love being back on the work week schedule. I love routine and it feels good to have evening and weekends again. My social life has been pretty full too with gaming nights, dinner at Camille's, a weeknight screener, and last night Don's graduation from his Dale Carnegie Sales Class in which he took home the Sales Champion Award -- Congratulations honey! Later on this week we will be attending a Rock Opera at the House of Blues. I do miss the pups though. However, we get lots of snuggle time on the weekends.

And finally, with being back on a new routine, it has made it easier to incorporate more healthy eating choices and exercise back into my life. I am actually down two whole pounds! Yay me!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Speaking of Poker...

Don is on his way to Vegas right now with Jeremy for a huge trade show dealing with his main industry now that he supplies to - the movie special effects industry. It should be an awesome opportunity to make some strong new contacts, pull in some new business, and learn more about the industry. I'm sure he will have a wonderful time.

It's been a while since I've had a couple of overnights in the house to myself and I'm starting to think about what I want to accomplish with my time so I don't end up playing online poker all weekend. So here is my to do list.

1. Get the house picked up.
2. Make a meal plan for this week and pick up groceries.
3. Make an exercise plan for the week that includes walking the dogs.
4. Get the office into shape so that Don will give me my dining room table back!!!!

Wish me luck!

Week 1

Well, I've finished my first full week of work and I'm still happy to be there! I can tell it's going to be a place where I can both succeed and be challenged. I already have learned a few new things this week. Some parts of the training process are a little bit frustrating as training processes can be. I know a lot and I'm eager to run but of course they have me crawling to begin with. So for the moment I am being way underutilized and have to deal with some periods of boredom throughout my day. But I have a great team and it will only get better from here. They understand the process and can get things done. From an operations standpoint things seem a little disorganized and a bit chaotic. I'm sure there is a method to the madness but just not easy to pick up on for someone new coming in. Still, type A person that I am, I'd like to see about things becoming a little more streamlined and systematic down the road. I think that is part of the vision also for the company as people transition into their new roles. Things should become a lot more defined and it will be much clearer whose responsibility is what. Also, hopefully there will be more checks and balances which will help again with the quality and consistency of the work being produced.

In exciting news, I got my first paycheck yesterday! It feels soooo good to be earning an income again. Though I was thankful for my unemployment insurance while I needed it, it is very nice to not need it anymore. We celebrated my first paycheck together by picking up the tab at Mexicali's for a night out on the town with Jeremy and Katy, and Rian B who showed up unannounced in the area last night for an unknown length of time. He is on call for a possible show they are doing this week in the Valley. They ended up being cheap dates anyway as we got a very good deal on our food and drinks. Then I got them back by coming home and playing poker where I won all of their fake money and cleaned Rian, Don, Jeremy, and Katy out of all of their chips tournament style. It may have helped that I was the only one not drinking excessively. Although I do have to mention that Katy (who was the most inebriated) and I were the last ones standing at the table. Who says poker is a man's game?

Also, we finally paid off Cordy's $1000 vet bill from when she got Pancreatitus last year right before we moved. So stay tuned to hear updates on the dogs' health. They usually like to get violently ill or poison themselves for a trip to the Animal ER whenever our balance actually gets down to zero.

Monday, March 10, 2008

First Day Part 2

It was great! I do like my coworkers! It is a very nice office and I have a nice desk - corner space with a window. Everybody is pretty relaxed and flexible. The office equipment is all very good quality and up to date - huge flat screen monitors, wireless mouse, and very comfortable desk chairs, etc. It is nice to be working with people again in a team environment as opposed to all by myself at my previous job. We all went out to lunch today to a nice Chinese place in Burbank. The commute is not bad at all - about 15 - 20 minutes with no freeways. Sounds like I can leave the house closer to 8 am since I don't really need to be there until closer to 8:30. Which means maybe we can sleep in a little later or walk the dogs a little longer. Ideally I'd like to walk the dogs in the morning and again first thing in the evening when I get home. I think they are having a hard time adjusting to Mommy being back at work. They missed me today and are sticking to me like magnets. I was starving when I got home from work today and glad we had some leftover pizza that I could just heat up instead of having to take the time to cook anything. I need to readjust to the 40 hour work week and a fixed eating schedule, and also bring in some snack bars or something to keep at work. I also had a chance to check out the HUGE Ralph's grocery store on the corner this morning since I arrived early to work. It is a very nice facility and will probably be the place I get the majority of my groceries especially for quick weeknight meals. All in all I'm quite happy!

First Day

I'm getting ready to head off for my first day of work. Don got up with me this morning at 6 am and we walked the dogs together which was a great way to start the day. It feels really good to be in professional clothes again with hair and makeup done. It's been a while! Now I'm sipping coffee with my husband and working on our laptops until I leave the house. I'm sure this nostalgia and excitement about getting up early and going to work will wear off soon. But right now I'm enjoying every minute of it.

I hope it goes well today....
I hope I like my coworkers and they like me...
I hope I have a nice desk/workspace...
I hope I get to have instant messenger at work...
I hope they have a cool breakroom or at least an adequate kitchen space for bringing my lunch and/or preparing food...

I'll let you know how it goes tonight. Have a good day everyone. :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Caved

Everybody check out Don's blog for pics of his new Mini Cooper S.

http://donsearlylight.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 07, 2008

Bonus!

Well, it's only 38 days late (long story) but Don's end of year bonus check FINALLY arrived. It was a more than respectable amount considering he only put in 6 months last year - way to go honey! - though not quite enough to fulfill all of the financial priorities that we set before Don gets into his Mini. That would have been too easy. We still have a bit more work to do. After playing with the numbers, calculating, budgeting, and strategizing how to make it stretch the furthest, we were able to kill the Big Credit Card, pay our 2008 taxes, along with a good chunk of this months' bills. We still have a little ways to go on our Less Big Credit Card but with both of us back up to our full time salaries we should be able to kill that one too in the next couple of months. After the last three months of being unemployed, I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to be back on top of our finances again. And the one and only nice thing about Don's bonus being late is that at least his next quarterly bonus is not far behind.

In other news, Don woke up this morning and told me he had bad dreams again last night. When I asked him what they were about he said that he had lost Seumas in a poker bet. A nightmare indeed! Far worse than the one the previous night where he had Great-Dane-Sized Tarantulas chasing him!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

5 Things That Have Made Me Happy Today

1. My dogs' wagging tails and affectionate tongues when I woke them up this morning.
2. A gorgeous sunny sky and a crisp cool breeze during Don's and my new morning routine of walking the dogs together. I love starting the day this way and hope we stick too it.
3. No doggie business to pick up after on our entire walk -- they actually took care of business in our own yard before we left.
4. Vanilla Hazelnut Creamer for my coffee.
5. Fancy weekday breakfast of Applewood Smoked Bacon and Scrambled Omelet with swiss cheese, fresh basil, and fresh tomato salsa.

And it's not even 8:00 a.m. yet. It's the little things in life that count. Sometimes happiness can pass you by if you forget to pay attention to it. What gave you happiness today?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bed Time Stories

What an exciting day. My first ever trip to Ikea. What a cool place! My mission to get new bedding today was mostly successful except for the most crucial element. The down comforter that I wanted (the awesome version that was really cheap) was out of stock. However, they have ordered more and it is in transit so I will have to go back and pick it up in a day or two. I did however pick out my awesome new duvet cover (also from Ikea and super cheap) and after two trips to Linens and Things decided to make a significant investment in all of the crucial elements of bedding...

1. A new Mattress pad/liner to protect the mattress and replace ours that is very old and practically shredded.
2. A new extra blanket to go in between the sheets and the Comforter - today we learned these are called coverlets. The one we have been using for the last five years, while it is homemade, super comfortable, and has great sentimental value, unfortunately over the years it has become too stretched out and hangs way over the edges of the bed. So it will be graduating to the spare bed and now we have a nice cream colored one to go on our new bed.
3. A new dust ruffle bedskirt - cream colored to match the coverlet - since our old bedskirt no longer matches our new bedding.
4. A set of new 18" deep fitted sheets to fit our HUGE pillowtop mattress. The color is called Seaglass, a very light seafoam green. 650 threadcount - I think I am in heaven.
5. And finally a gorgeous duvet. Very simple design - deep dark rich purple color. Soft cottony texture but with a satiny sheen that shimmers in the light.

It is torture that I have all of this exciting new bedding and I still have to wait a few days to pick up the comforter. This time I went 100% for comfort buying the softest fabrics I could find and easiest to wash. I can't wait to get everything and put it all together and see how much the room changes with the contrast in colors. Needless to say the maroon and gold we had before didn't exactly mesh with the periwinkle blue wall paper - wall paper which I should stress came with the house, we did not pick it out.

So given how much needed to be updated on the bedding it was a little more spendy than I had planned despite getting an awesome deal on the comforter and duvet. So it looks like that will be it for now. We'll have to save new dish shopping until after the paychecks start actually coming in.

Celebrate Good Times

Well, we are still on a bit of a high here at our household. Today I'm celebrating the new job and a bit of a belated anniversary gift (4 years two weeks ago) by going out and buying some new bedding for our bed. I have never been fond of the comforter set we picked out for our wedding registry. It was pretty but the material is scratchy and not even comfortable. Still Don really wanted it and that was one of my first concessions during the early stages of learning how to compromise in a marriage. Four years later I am still sick of it and it is now in bad enough shape that we can justify throwing it out and getting a new set. So I'm picking up Katy in a bit and we are going to hit the big bedding stores - Linens and Things, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Ikea too for a cheap synthetic down comforter if I decide to go the duvet route. Also on the list of possible splurge items today are a new dog bed for the pups and a set of new dishes since many of our original wedding set have broken and so now we have a missmatch of plastic and ceramic and it's about time to start over. Just like I didn't like the bedding that Don picked out he has never been fond of the dishes that I picked out. So we should both make out quite well on this year's anniversary splurges. I can't wait to get my new household items back to the house. Then I can play housewife for the my last week and get this place sparkling and beautiful with my fun new accents. It's like playing the Simms only real life!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Employed! Gainfully!

I landed an awesome job today with a top rated leasing company in Burbank. Awesome team. Very down to earth owners. I think we are really going to get a long. I don't know my official title yet but I will basically be a senior processor and a team leader for their credit department. It's a fantastic opportunity with a lot of responsibility and unlimited growth potential. Salary is great and benefits are sufficient. I'm so excited! I start on Monday. Now we just need Don's bonus check to get here so we can go down to the mini dealership and order his new car.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quickies

A few brief updates to report on.

I recently kicked up the job search a little more aggressively. Am putting a lot more energy and focus out there and expanding my search to include related fields and a little bit further commutes. I also recently realized that the Red Line is an easy 30 minute commute from North Hollywood straight into downtown so that has opened me up to a lot of opportunities out there in the financial district which also usually involve better pay as well. I have been getting some good responses to my applications. So far I have one interview scheduled for next Tuesday and am hoping to hear back on some others.

I have been recently introduced to the game of poker and I really enjoy it. I don't even know what the version is called that we play -- I think it might be Texas Hold Em. We played tonight for the first time using actual money instead of just pretend chips and I walked away with $33 of the $45 pot! Pretty good beginners' luck!

I had a nice visit with the pastor of our church this week. Told her I was bored out of my mind from being unemployed and needed some volunteer work to do. So she hooked me up with a member of the church who is going through some medical procedures and needs help getting too and from appointments and errands and such. So I met with her today and we had a very nice visit and got a few things done together. I'm going to try to help her out a couple of days a week until I get a job. It's a nice opportunity for me to get out of the house and do something productive and hopefully the good karma will come back my way. She also seems to be a really nice person and I'm looking forward to getting to know her more.

I've started downloading audiobooks onto my Ipod to listen to when I'm out exercising or doing chores around the house and I love it! (Which is another reason I love the idea of commuting by subway - more chances to listen to my Ipod.) Currently I have been going through the book "Into the Wild," true story that was recently made into a major motion picture about a boy who goes into the Alaskan wild to try to live out his dream of living off the land and communing with nature and ends up dying alone. It is an amazing read and I definitely recommend it - part tragic and part inspiring; part wise and part foolish; the kind of essentially human story that everyone has an opinion about. I'm on the final chapter right now. If you've read it or are familiar with the story I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Diet and exercise are going well. Let the blood sugar get a little too low tonight and ended up splurging on Pizza. Still haven't caved to the soda cravings. I've realized that my will power is strong enough to get me through the Lenten discipline but as soon as it's over I'm going back to drinking pop. It just brings me too much pleasure to live without.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stop that Cart!

Even though we have been living here for 7+ months now, every time we have a new "LA experience" it still tickles me. Today, I had one of those in the most unexpected of circumstances. I had a few errands to run this morning which included cashing some checks and doing a bit of grocery shopping. Luckily, my bank, the Trader Joes, and our local produce mart are all in the same parking lot so I could accomplish all of my errands with one stop. However, given the popularity of the shopping center, the parking lot is sometimes a bit of a zoo. I took one trip through the parking lot and seeing no empty spaces decided to circle around the block and park a ways away on street parking. No problem, I can stretch my legs a bit and the exercise isn't going to hurt me. Grocery shopping was a complete success. I stocked up on lots of regular items as well as have a weeks worth of dinners and lunches - 6 bags of groceries -- all for around $100. Gotta love Trader Joes. Well, I started the trek back to my car figuring I would just bring the shopping cart back to the parking lot when I was finished. Well, there I am pushing my cart along and I start getting close to the street and all of a sudden the front wheel jams and I practically fall head long into my basket. So I try to pull the cart back and reposition the wheel but it appears to be stuck. I look down at the wheel to see what it is caught on and nothing. It appears to be locked up for no reason. For the life of me, I can't seem to get the cart to move. Then I look up a few feet in front of me near the parking lot entrance and see a sign that says: "Shoppers Beware: Shopping carts are programmed to lock if you try to remove them from the Parking Lot." Wow! Who knew shopping cart technology could be so sophisticated! Ha ha ha. Well, it was a little bit of a challenge juggling all six of my grocery bags down the street to my car but we made it. And not without a funny story for my blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dos Peros

This is why two wiener dogs are better than one.





Happy Tummies

Don and I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see a lot of friends and loved ones in the last two weeks. Starting with our trip to Tacoma. And then as soon as we got back home Ben came for a trip out. And to top it off Don's sister Angie and her lovely boyfriend Mike were in the region on a golfing trip with his parents and went out of their way to make a quick trip out to see us and spend a little time with us before they had to fly back to Boise. They arrived early Friday evening. A little weary from traveling we had a low key evening, a nice dinner and some games at our house. But before they left the next morning we decided to give them a little taste of the good life in LA and drove them out to The Grove to have breakfast at our favorite breakfast place called The Farm. With market/farm fresh quality ingredients with the pictures and descriptions of the food below, you will quickly see why it is our favorite place. Here is what we ordered... Which one would you pick?

CINDY: Stuffed Crepe - Crepe stuffed with Scrambled Egg, Wild Mushrooms, Gruyere Cheese, and topped with a Champaigne Hollandaise Sauce.


DON: Eggs Benedict - Poached Eggs seved over Sauteed Spinach and Honey Roasted Ham on Toasted Farm Brioche with Hollandaise Sauce.

ANGIE: Buttermilk Pancakes - Three Pancakes served with Vermont Maple Syrup & Sweet Butter, Blueberry, Granola, or Banana-Macademia Nut

MIKE: Fried Egg Sandwich - Fried Eggs, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Shallot Aioli & Jack Cheese on a Toasted Croissant

Here we are at the end of our meal with happy tummies.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2 Miles

One of the reasons I have loved living in California is how inviting our neighborhood is for getting outside and walking the dogs in the lovely sunshine and seeing all the cute California homes. There is a wonderful loop that the dogs like to take through our residential neighborhood and I have been curious for some time about the length of the walk so this morning I finally decided pace it out with my car. What do you know, the loop comes out to be one mile exactly! Well, that couldn't be any more perfect. Since I am a person that likes to see and measure progress, I'm going to print out some kind of table that measures out 100 miles or so so that I can mark them off each time the dogs and I take a loop. I figure I will give myself some kind of reward everytime I get to a certain mark. This afternoon the dogs and I just took TWO LOOPS! Cordy was really not excited when we got back to the house and kept on going for a second time around! Oh well, she needs to get in shape just like Mommy does. I'll let you know when I hit my first 25 mile mark!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cravings

I want a Coke sooooooooooooooooooo badly!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snowball Effect

Contrary to the blog title, no it is definitely not snowing here. In fact, Don and I came back from our cold and rainy trip to Tacoma to three stunningly gorgeous days up to 80 degrees and we are loving it. The dogs and I have had some really nice pleasant walks this week.

No the snowball effect that I'm referring to is the figurative one. I've never been good about watching what I eat, or more I should say I've never really tried to. But it's something I've started lately as I'm sure you've read in my previous blogs. Well, my biggest area of weakness has to be in eating out and we have been doing a lot of it lately due to our traveling. Well, tonight we had a lovely meal out at the Hamburger Hamlet treated by Ben. Thank you Ben! We were quite hungry when we got there so I know a dinner salad would be out of the picture as it would not come close to filling me up. And after all, it is the Hamburger Hamlet and those burgers were sounding really good. Plus, big juicy burgers go really well with high calorie sodas which I had just given up for Lent. So with water to drink, I started noticing going through the menu that you could order a turkey patty in place of beef for any of their gourmet burgers without any additional cost. Now, a turkey burger goes pretty well with water! So I ended up selecting a turkey burger with light goat cheese and pesto, tomato and arugula. The hardest step was now what to do with their sides as I am a huge addict of their mesquite fries. But since I had already made the decision to go healthy on the drink and the main, I didn't want to undo all that good work and cancel it all out with the calories and saturated fats from the fries. So in the end I was good and ordered the side salad instead. I am really excited at the moment about seeing how just committing to one healthy choice can snowball and lead to so many other healthy choices. And most exciting of all, was that by the time we were finished with our meal and ready to go, even though I had cleaned my plate I still felt very light and pleasantly full as opposed to everyone else who was felt heavy and sluggish from their high calorie meals. So I am very proud of myself and feeling empowered. Cheers.

Ashes to Ashes

With the event of Ash Wednesday a week ago, thus begins one of Don's and My favorite church season -- the season of Lent. I had been planning to try and make it to PLU chapel for the service, but Tuesday night I came down with the traveling cold and so spent most of the day resting in my hotel. However, luckily Stevie invited us out to dinner and then we joined him and Jenn along with Matt and Emily at First Lutheran for a nice traditional evening Ash Wednesday worship. It was a wonderful service and it really spoke to Don and I both in a very meaningful way - thank you Holy Spirit. The Pastor was very direct and engaging in his sermon. He didn't try to fancy it up with bells and whistles or fire and brimstone and thus it allowed us time to digest and meditate on the meaning of his very simple truthful heartfelt message.

The reason we love Lent so much is because of the very real way it allows you to focus on your faith and your spiritual life. I've always been deeply and romantically attached to monasticism -- the fasting, the studying, the praying, the self giving service. Perhaps, now ourselves being in the desert, we will find ever new meanings this year in our Lenten Journeys through these 40 days and nights. For our disciplines I have decided to give up soda and Don has given up alcohol. There have already been a few moments where I have realized that, wow, this is not going to be easy, but I guess that's the point of a discipline isn't it? But it is such a refreshing and rewarding experience to get away from excessive indulgences which our culture so very much perpetuates -- all of those meaningless things that get in the way of our true purposes, self-sustaining wholeness, and the recognition of God's divine grace in the world around us.

Also, just the opportunity to worship with close friends again made us aware of just how much we missed having those close spiritual connections and relationships and realized that for all of the good things that we really like about the church we have been going to off and on since we moved down here, that the hospitality is not amazing, and we really don't feel any more connected to the congregation now than we did our first Sunday there. So we may begin to start exploring some other churches in our neighborhood to see if there might be some place that we connect more with.

So there is a little bit of where we are at this Lent. I hope that your own Lenten Journeys are filled with glimpses of God's grace and meaning for your own life.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl

Superbowl Sunday, otherwise known as the least attended church day of the year, actually turned out to be a rather exciting game. Despite not having any specific team to root for, with the numerous exchanges of possessions and leads in the fourth quarter, it definitely kept us on our toes to see who would come out on top. Also, got to see several great friends including Steve S. and Katherine who hosted, Steve W. and Jenn, Steve C., Jesse, Ben, Milton and Laurie, Jenny and Kevin and their adorable boy Patrick, and Kelly and Dave. So it really didn't matter whether the game turned out to be a flop or not, we still would have had a great time. Earlier in the day we also got to catch up with Emily and Michael and see their new turn of the century home and all of the exciting renovations they have planned.

Don's workweek starts tomorrow. I have a few things on my agenda to do this week while he is working including some Tacoma stores I want to visit, some more job hunting and interview prep to do, and a few friends to see who have daytime slots available. I just hope the week doesn't go by too quickly.

T-Town

We made it to Tacoma safe and sound and are already enjoying our time in the Pacific Northwest catching up with friends. It was an interesting feeling getting off the plane and stepping back out into the Northwest Culture. The sights... the sounds... the way people dress. It was definitely a feeling of relaxation like coming home after a long trip. I'm definitely a product of this culture. It has left it's mark on me in a major way and although our move to California is the best thing that's ever happened to us I still think that this is the place I will return to at some stage in our lives even if it be a couple of decades for now. Of course, we always dream of retiring in Bellingham - the most beautiful city in the world but the place with no jobs :)

We have been enjoying the fresh clean air (thankfully no Tacoma aroma), the lack of traffic congestion, and the awesome selection of fresh seafood and microbrews. Of course the best part though has been seeing friends we miss dearly. When we arrived Friday night, Nathan, Christian, Matt and Jessica all answered the last minute call to meet us at Stanley and Seaforts for a night cap before calling it a day. Yesterday, after driving all over Federal Way to all of the Starbucks trying to track down the elusive Emily, we finally gave up and decided to go and crash on Nathan and Hannah's privacy and gave them a 12:00 p.m. unannounced wakeup call. We visited with them for the afternoon which included lunch at Duke's Chowder House where I had the Northwest Seafood Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl and Don had Snowcap Beer Battered Fish and Chips. It was awesome and probably not the last time we will eat there this week.

Then for the evening Brian and Tiffany invited us over to their place for an evening of games. They are now living with Cameron so we got to see the adorable baby Devlin who is talking now and miraculously continues to get cuter every day. We played with my camera and then she had to go to bed but not before I got her in a cute ladybug costume. Apparently she is very big on the dress up. We also got to meet Cameron's new beau, Dan, who is a fabulous cook and made us an amazing spread of gourmet appetizers including baked brie with caremelized onions, wine and shallot glazed steamed clams, and cajun fried catfish. Wow, we infinitely approve Cameron! As the night wore on our party grew and Michael, Nathan, Hannah and Matt S joined us and all had a great time.

Later this morning Don and I will be headed to a Superbowl gathering where we will get to see even more friends that we haven't seen in a while. We are all about maximizing our time here to see as many people as possible and as often as possible. It's kind of hard for us to make the plans ourselves since we are laid up in a hotel so we are kind of at the whim of others to invite us out and host us. If you find yourself with some free time in the next week give us a call and we will come on over or make a plan to meet somewhere. Group activities are highly encouraged. Starting tomorrow Don will be working days at Revchem through the end of the week but we will be catching dinner every night so if you want to have us over or go out with us let us know what night you will be free. I will have the days free for the most part for anyone who has an irregular work schedule and wants to get together. I know I'm planning on trying to make it to PLU chapel this Wednesday for Ash Wednesday service if anyone is free. Friday night we are going to see Nathan's play along with Matt S. and Emily R. if anyone can make that. It sounds like it's supposed to be really good. Next Saturday afternoon from about 11 to 5 there is going to be a brief period of Epic Arena gaming if anyone wants to roll up a character and join us. So far Saturday evening is free and then we leave Sunday morning the 10th.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Warming Up

After crawling out of bed from a short nap this evening and complaining once again about how cold our house was and how lame our heater was, Don decided to get the ladder out and give our heating vents a closer inspection. What he discovered has us feeling rather foolish. We have been freezing all winter long because there is a second grate inside the first grate in all of our vents which were closed all around the house! Well that explains why my gas bill was $260 last month and yet I still couldn't heat the house over 60. Dumb! Once he opened up all the vents, we were warmed up within about 15 minutes.

Additionally, we had some severe windstorms today and lost power for a few hours. Not only am I bored from being unemployed and being home by myself all day, but on top of that take away my power. I couldn't watch t.v., couldn't call anyone, had no computer or internet, couldn't do laundry and brrrrrrrrr no heat. So the dogs got to have a nice afternoon nap with Mommy in the big bed while she read her book and snuggled to keep warm.

With all of the distratctions out of the way, it did give me a little time for self reflection and got me motivated and thinking about some personal goals. Let's just say I have a new exercise and fitness plan to try out in the next couple of weeks. On top of structured exercise I want to try to incorporate more fun physical activities in my life like our hike to Paramount Ranch the other week. Tomorrow, weather permitting, Katy and I are going to try out the off leash dog park in our neighborhood. I hear it's supposed to be pretty nice and I'm looking forward to getting out of the house and getting some fresh air.