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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tacoma Bound

Don and I just booked a flight for Tacoma next week. He will be covering for his former boss while he is on vacation and since I am still not working I'm going to come along. We arrive Friday evening and don't leave until the following Sunday afternoon - a whole ten days. We will be staying at the La Quinta hotel. Anyone want to get together????

Sunday, January 27, 2008


If you are paying attention to the news we are having incredible rain showers in California. We received 2-3 inches in the Valley last night alone and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Cordy and Seumas are not happy about this. Don and I plan to spend a nice Sunday indoors drinking coffee and making epic level gaming characters. Hope everyone is having a nice day and staying dry. I have an interview on Monday morning and am very glad that it is here in Van Nuys. I wouldn't want to have to negotiate freeway traffic in this weather.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Don, Jeremy and I just got back from seeing the movie Cloverfield in the theaters - the new thriller by J.J. Abrams (director of the T.V. series Lost). Don't worry, I won't give any spoilers away but I do have to say a brief word on the style of the movie and encourage everyone to go and see it. The consensus from all of us was that the movie was great. It was a high budget Godzilla type creature feature filmed similar to The Blair Witch project, a first person hand held camera documentary of the accounts taking place. I'm not really into monster movies but I loved this take on it.

The problem with monster movies is that you know they are not real. No matter how much you suspend disbelief, you are constantly aware that this is all make believe and you are watching a fictional story unfold. Because of the first person perspective from which this is shot, you never have time to think about the unreality of it all. You are too busy feeling like you are actually running for your life through the streets of Manhattan with the characters on the screen and thinking what your next move is going to be and how you are going to get away to have any time whatsoever to think about the fact that this is not real and could never happen. And even more amusing, we spent more time on the car ride home talking about what our strategy for escape would have been and how we would have reacted similarly or differently than the actual characters did than we did critiquing the movie itself. Well done J.J. Abrams.

I am really picky these days about what movies I will actually go to a theater to see and what I will wait for to come out on DVD. This movie is definitely best experienced in a theater. So go and see it and let me know what you think.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I'm trying to figure out how I ever got used to spending the majority of my days being rained on. We have definitely entered a wet season. Don't get me wrong, I am not so self absorbed to be ungrateful for the rain. We definitely need it. And we are getting plenty of it. It has been raining this entire week and is supposed to go right on through this weekend. But man is it inconvenient. The dogs are going crazy from being cooped up but won't even go outside to go to the bathroom despite the fact that I have had Cordy's rain coat on her the entire week. I don't own a hooded raincoat anymore and I refuse to buy one to use a couple of weeks out of the year. Not to mention that my house with zero insulation is freezing. With highs in the fifties (currently 47 degrees) my heater is working nonstop to maintain a temperature somewhere in the sixties. I actually had to wear a stocking cap to bed the other night.

So as not to be an entire blog of spoiled California Girl rants, I will end on a positive note. All of this rain has at least inspired me to do a complete overhaul of the Gaming Room and unbury my treadmill. Dog walking and hiking are definitely out for the time being but at least I can still get some cardio in at home. So last night from 9:00 to Midnight, I spent tidying up, putting away leftover dishes and snack items, reshelving all of the games and books, designating new spaces for gaming supplies, and making the exercise equipment more accessible. It's been many a month since I've seen that room looking in this good a shape. Now I just need to run over everything with a dust rag and broom and it will actually be a space I feel like spending time in outside of just gaming.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Warning: this post contains gross details about nasty bugs but is important information for dog owners. Camille recently updated her blog with a lovely post about our exciting weekend hike at Paramount Ranch with the dogs. She also did a good job explaining about how Katy and I managed to not freak out when we discovered that all of the pooches were crawling with ticks on the ride home. We got the majority off before they latched on but Cordy and Max each had a stubborn hitch-hiker that was not about to exit on it's own accord. After doing a little research we tried oil, matches, and finally plucked them out with tweezers - making sure to get the whole head in the process. Today, however, I discovered that one sneaky bastard had gone undetected by latching himself on to Seumas' inner ear. Gross! They are much easier to detect on a black dog once they are all swelled up with a fresh belly full of pink blood. So I ran him by the animal doctor which luckily is only a couple of blocks from our house. The technician took him in the back, got the tick out and and we were in and out in 5 minutes with no charge. I love my vet! I only wish I could find some medical doctors that were as good as the animal doctors around here.

I also got some really good advice while I was there for what to do should we encounter future tick incidents. For preventative measures the vet recommended Advantix which is the next step up from Advantage but covers both fleas and ticks. You can also get a tick collar which is more effective but also more toxic. And if the dogs should still manage to get ticks the best course of action for removing them is to rub the tick counterclockwise in a circular motion and it will exit on it's own accord. And we actually got to test this theory out not an hour later when we got home and found another tick inside Cordy's inner ear this time. Note to self -- check dog's ears next time as this seems to be a sweet spot for the nasty buggers. Well, it definitely didn't come out immediately but with some persistent counterclockwise rubbing eventually it popped itself out and was given an immediate disposal with the big flush (that's the toilet, not poker.) So now we know for future reference how to disengage a tick that's already attached itself. I just have one more question resounding in my head at this point.... Why counterclockwise????

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So I've heard a couple people mention of late about how they use podcasts as a source of entertainment/inspiration to help them in their exercise. I decided to check this phenomenon out myself. After doing a little research on Itunes, I've selected a couple of programs that I can't wait to try - Podrunner and JogTunesIndie Podcast. Both are podcasts of a collection of songs organized by beats per minute for your running/high intensity workout. The first I believe is more of a collection of techno-inspired music while the other is lyrical songs by Indie artists. I subscribed to both and I can't wait to try them out on a walk/run.

I also discovered after doing a bit more searching that you can download entire yoga workouts also. One that I might be interested in trying is Elsie's Yoga class which features over 60 separate classes. Right now I'm still really excited about my Rodney Yee Yoga DVD for flexibility. But when I get bored and want to incorporate a little more variety I can't wait to try some of these out. And the best part about all of these podcasts...? They're FREE! Considering most Yoga classes/clubs in LA will run you upwards of $100 a month, I would say that's a pretty good deal.

Does anybody else have any good podcasts that you subscribe to that I should try?

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Year of Cooking Light

It's an impressive blog title. I know. I'll get to that in a minute.

So, I have to say that I had an awesome day. I am still continuing along aggressively with the job hunting. It's so much work I have to say not just in terms of actual labor but also in the enormous amount of energy it takes to remain focused and positive. I still feel pretty good about where I'm at. It's not that employers don't want me. It's that I'm still searching for what I want. And eventually the two will match up. O.K. so there may have been a couple of opportunities out there that I did want that didn't swing my way, yet at least. Let's just hope they keep swinging. So, if that gives you an idea of the mantras that I go through on a daily basis you can imagine my response when Katy called me up this afternoon and said, "I want to get out of the house. Would you like to join me?" My response of course was, "YES! God, Yes!"

The only important thing on the agenda was to get some lunch as it was about that time and we were both getting hungry. So we decided at first that we wanted to try this restaurant that I had been to before called Tapas. It is a place where they serve appetizer sized dishes and you order a few different things and split them amongst each other. However, when we got there, we discovered that it was locked and that they are only open for dinner. Dumb! So on to plan B. Drive down Ventura and see what we find. Well, we only got a block before we saw a sign that said Pinot Bistro and we veered sharply just in time to make it into the parking lot. And what an exciting find this place was. Everything on the menu looked exquisite. Katy ordered the French Onion Soup and a Roast Beef Sandwich. I had the Fish and Chips with a Raspberry Lemonade. It was all top notch and we can't wait to go back again sometime and sample other things from the menu.

Afterwards, we took advantage of the location and decided to drive by Katy's community garden plot which was only a few blocks away. So I got to see all of the things she has planted and am getting excited now about trying another herb garden out soon with my planters in the back yard again. Then, I took her by the Produce Mart that is by my house where I get all my fruits and veggies. Since we both read the book Animal, Vegetable, Mineral together, we have both been making a concerted effort to buy as much locally grown foods as possible. Luckily, this is much easier to do in California than it is many other places. So that was the basic extent of our Girls' afternoon outing. While everything we did I thoroughly enjoyed, I don't think it would have mattered how we spent our time as much as I loved the opportunity to just get away from the pressures of job hunting for a little while, treat myself with some very fine company, and not be sitting around the house waiting for the phone to ring. It was awesome.

But the day does not end at 4:00 p.m. and by the time we finished the afternoon Jeremy was ready for some socialization as well. So the four of us this time met up for dinner and after dropping Don off back at home for an early bed time, we headed down the street to the Courtyard Marriott where our friend Rian is staying while he is in town filming an episode of Super Nanny. This is the exact same hotel that Don and I stayed at when we were down here interviewing for his job and it is a really nice place. Katy and I were both eager to get a swim in at their heated outdoor pool and it was so awesome. So there we are, 9:00 at night doing the backstroke on top of a four story building and looking up at the moon and the stars shining bright over our heads and I had one of those moments where it hit me again -- this time last year, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that I would be living in a place where I could swim outside at night in January. And since Katy and I had the pool all to ourselves there we were swimming along for a good while doing leisurely laps along side each other deep in chatting and storytelling mode.

Eventually, however, we decided to take advantage of not only the fun and relaxing aspect of the pool but the physical benefits as well and we pushed ourselves to do a couple more challenging laps (i.e., full aggressive breast strokes as opposed to back strokes and doggy paddling during conversation). And as we did so we both became painfully aware that we are sorely out of shape. Not that we didn't know this before, but there's nothing like slapping a bikini on a woman and putting her to an aerobic test to really come face to face with the state of things. There's just not much room for denial about anything in a bikini.

One of the things that most people who know me well know about me is that I am an extremely positive thinker. I tend to always cast the best light on everything including past memories. If somebody remembers the glass being half empty, I remember it being half full. Well, we all have certain lights that we cast on things and they are not always reality. What this means for me is that I usually tend to think I am a healthy person because I have a concept of myself as an athlete and exercise is important to me. Whether or not I carry out a plan to completion I always come back to it. The problem is I never carry it out. I am always getting back on the horse but not staying on the horse and over time my aerobic health and strength has deteriorated to a condition of being winded during light activity. I am starting to feel the effects of a body that is never going to get younger and only going to get older. I have to choose my exercises more carefully like things that aren't too high impact or stressful on the joints.

Likewise, I tend to think that I have a healthy diet because Don and I enjoy mostly healthy foods. When we cook at home, we stay away from processed foods, use lots of fresh meat and produce and primarily prepare low fat, low salt, and low cholesterol foods. The problem is, when we don't cook at home, we almost always turn to high fat, high salt, and high cholesterol foods for the quick fix. Thus they cancel each other out. And that doesn't even factor in snacks and drinks.

So I guess here I am admitting to myself that I am not actually living up to the healthy self-image that I have of myself. It's great to have a positive self-image, but I think that the real thing must be even better. And while the ultimate goal is not necessarily to look smoking hot in a bikini (although that is certainly a bonus!) you can't exactly lie to yourself and tell yourself that you look smoking hot when it's staring you back in the mirror. All this leads to the obvious conclusion that it's time for some improvements.

Which brings me back to the blog title. A little more long winded than I planned but I guess that's what happens when you use social networking sights like these as your own journaling tool for self-revelation. So when I got back home and was lying awake in bed thinking about what kind of changes I was going to make, I decided instead of lying awake and thinking about them, I would actually get up and start working on them. I had already started a project, primarily to give myself something productive to do with all of this time I have at home by myself, of doing a full year's worth of meal plans. I am a person who does best when I have a concrete plan and stick to it. And while it takes a lot of energy to cook every night, it takes even more energy sometimes to plan it and do the grocery shopping. So I decided to get myself one step ahead by planning out the entire year.

Now this is dinners only mind you. But still an enormous task nonetheless. And to stay on track healthwise, I decided to select all of my recipes from Cooking Light. Not only do I have a couple of their annual cookbooks to start with but for Christmas I got a sordid collection of used issues from my sister as well as a new subscription from my grandparents. I'm keeping track of the recipes and actual meal plan in my Master Cook software program which is perfect for this kind of thing. And I recently finished the entire meal plan. I have 4-5 recipes planned out for each week. That accounts for a couple of nights a week when we may not be home, go out to eat, or eat up leftovers. By no means do I expect that I will ever stick to this plan 100%, but at least I have a plan now. I may want to change things or modify them here or there, try new recipes from other sources or whatnot. But at least I have a plan in place to fall back on when I don't have the time to take the extra steps.

So tonight, I decided to get up and take the extra step to not just have the recipes picked out but to print them out and start filing them in a notebook divided up in one week blocks. That way as each week comes I can just go to the notebook, pull out that week's recipes, and make my grocery list. Also, this makes it much easier for Don to get involved with the cooking as he can see what the plan is also and doesn't have to be so dependent on me to tell him what we are having for dinner and where to find the recipe, etc. So at this exact moment, I have 14 weeks worth of recipes, planned, printed and filed. And I am feeling pretty darn good about that. So there is a good start and a solid plan for healthful eating. Maybe tomorrow I'll start thinking about exercise.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Last night at 7:58 p.m. Drucilla the Elven Cleric was laid to rest after getting caught in a giant explosion which included an unintentional cremation (64 points of damage). Drucilla was my gaming character for the last six months who I grew from first level to 8th level. Her main attributes were her utter devotion to the destruction of all undead creatures, her ability to bring healing and divine favor on her party members, and her eternal gratitude to her close knit team which taught her that the culmination of life is not about personal glory but about personal sacrifice as the gods see fit. Before Drucilla died, she had a chance to practice this new found philosophy by risking her own life to stop the evil Lord of Blades in a maneuver that had little chance of working but was almost certain to get her killed. Still the gods found favor on her and she succeeded in her attack, which tipped the balance of the scales in favor of her team and allowed them to defeat him. As a reward for her ultimate sacrifice, the gods allowed her to live a few minutes longer to accomplish their mission and see her friends to safety. Drucilla died knowing that her friends were safe, the schema had been destroyed, and the balance to their world had been restored. May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Day

Still the same old thing here. Getting tired of being home all day. Working really hard on the job hunting thing. I've surfed all the sights, researched all the employers in my field, sent out applications for all of the appropriate positions. Now I have to wait a few days to see if I hear back from anyone or for new positions to open up and post to start the application cycle all over again. The job search takes up so much time that I am having trouble keeping up with the rest of my life. So I am taking a break today from actively job hunting and doing a few other things around the house like: laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and preparing dinner for our gaming group tonight.

Also, Don and I watched a new movie last night called "Fido". It didn't get a lot of press which is why I wanted to spread the word. It is a zombie comedy set in 50's era about people who have tamed zombies and now keep them as household pets/servants. Also, the lead zombie in the movie is played by Billy Connelly. While it was not drop you on the floor hilarious, it still was very amusing and quite clever. I recommend seeing it if you get a chance. And if you do, let me know what you think. It is available on Netflix. Maybe if I had my own Zombie I could get more done around here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I'm sure it has to be related to the unemployment status, but I have been having the stupidest re-occuring dream lately. It is my senior year of high school and I have been cut from the basketball team. Seriously, I have had three separate dreams now and they each seem to be picking up where the other left off like a serial show or something. In the first dream, I got usurped by the rising freshman star. In the second dream I found out I actually didn't make the team. Then finally, last night in episode three, my high school coach actually sat down with me on the bench while the other girls were practicing and asked me what my intentions were now that I had been cut from the team but was still showing up for practices? I told him that I was committed to the team whether he put me on the floor or not and that I intended to keep on practicing with them and would sit the bench during the games to rally the team.

I have to give my subconscious a little credit on this one. Getting cut from the basketball team - something I loved so passionately and that represented a major portion of my childhood identity - my senior year after having been committed to that team for so many years... I can't think of a better archetypal representation for my ultimate fear of failure and humiliation. Even so, I am proud of the fact that even in dreamland, that despite circumstances that are beyond my control I still know deep down inside that I am the best player for the job, that my coach is making a huge mistake, and that NO ONE can take care of my team the way I can. Spoken like a true Point Guard. Take that Sandman.

Friday, January 11, 2008


After a two day sales meeting, including an overnight stay across town, Don is finally on his way back home to begin the weekend - On his way back home at 4:30 on Friday afternoon mind you. Traffic is lovely. So to make the time go by, through the magic of technology we are communicating via mobile phone while co-producing this blog post via laptop.

So, it's probably a good time to officially announce, that while I am still an unemployed vagabond, Don has already in 6 months of his huge promotion received another huge promotion. He is now a technical sales representative for the company which comes with lots of exciting perks like his own fancy pants laptop, lots of bonus potential, an expense account, and the really exciting part ... a car allowance and paid gas card! Woohoo. The lead sales agent for the company, and Don's mentor of sorts, told him that it won't take long before he never knows what the price of gas is anymore. Oh, and also, though he may put in a 12 hour day here and there depending on how aggressive he wants to be, he will get to do that out of the basis of his home office rather than a 4:30 a.m. wake up call across town.

My job search is moving along a little more agressively now. I was kind of in tread water mode while waiting to hear back on the bank position and the leasing position that I blogged about earlier. I finally did hear back from the bank and they said that they still have not made a decision and probably won't for a couple more weeks. Blah. But then talked to the leasing company and they offered the current position to someone else but said that she is "definitely keeping my resume on hand and will be giving me a call as soon as something opens up for someone with my experience." So that is promising but doesn't do me a whole lot of good right now. So I've been doing a lot of researching for positions of interests and sending out applications. I'm getting the most responses right now through staffing agencies and have a couple of potential interviews lined up for next week for leasing and loan documentation positions. The nice thing about the positions through the staffing agencies is that they move a lot quicker with the middle man trying to match you up and close the deal. The one position needs a Lease Administrator who can start next Monday or Tuesday while the other needs people who only have experience with a certain documentation software that I have used in the past so that eliminates a lot of the competition on both accounts. So we will see what comes of those.

After Don's overnight trip and two days of unemployed isolation around my house I am in desperate need of some socialization so Jeremy and Katy are on there way over and we are headed to an exciting dinner at Red Lobster. I'm so hungry I could eat my arm but I think I will exercise some will power and hold off for some awesome cheesy bread.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wrapping Up 2007

There wasn't much time to post during the holidays with traveling, company, gatherings and whatnot so here is a catch up pictorial from our end of year adventures. To start, here we are at the Caprice Cafe in downtown Boise having Christmas Eve breakfast with good friends Adam and Julia.

We had a wonderful time in Idaho with Don's family and are always sad to say goodbye, but we had a couple of things to look forward to when we returned home. First, our puppies whom we missed terribly were sooooo happy to see us! They got to spend a few days at Wiener Wonderland - an all dachshund day care in our neighborhood - while we were away. As you can see by the picture, they stuck to us like magnets for the first couple days we were home trying to make sure we didn't run away and leave them again. We did discover though that you can bring little dogs on the airplane with you now so next time we go somewhere we might try to take them with us. We will probably have to sedate Seumas though so that he doesn't cry all the way.

Also, the other thing to look forward too when we got home was that my sister Kristy was in town on a trip with some friends. Kristy's friends had to fly back on Friday the 28th but Kristy stayed with us through New Years and made me get up at 5:00 a.m. on New Years day to take her to the airport! So we got in a couple of fun touristy things while she was here. Our first full day together we went to Universal Studios. Don was pretty bummed that we had to work but I got the deal for SoCal Residents where I buy one day and get the whole year of 2008 free so Don and I can go back together again sometime.

One of the highlights of the Universal Trip was that Kristy knows an old family friend who is an animal trainer at Universal Studios so through her connections we got to meet some of the trainers and animal actors. This cute little guy right here is Archie. How many people in their lives can say that they have ever gotten to hold an Orangutang? I don't even know how to SPELL Orangatang! He was so cute! They even gave us some front of the line passes which made the rest of the day at the park quite a luxury. Instead of having to wait in lines all day we were able to go straight to the front and get the most out of our experience.

After meeting the animal actors we took the guided tour to see the park. During the tour you get to see a lot of different common outdoor sets used in Universal pictures such as the town square from back to the future, as well as some other special effects like this flash flood that left Kristy a little, shall we say, damp?

Other recognizable sets from the tour included the Creepy Bates Motel from the Movie Psycho which I have to say just looks a little less frightening with the set from Dr. Seusses Grinch behind it! And we even took a trip down Wisteria Lane and saw all the homes from Desperate Housewives.

After just narrowly missing being eaten by Jaws, we managed to finish the tour in one piece and saw a couple other attractions before it started getting really windy and I decided to call it a day. Besides Universal Studios, Kristy and I also ended up taking a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo which was a lot of fun also. However, I lamely left my camera at home so you will have to watch Kristy's blog and hopefully she will post some fun pictures of the animals we saw.

Besides Christmas and New Years, we also celebrated my 30th Birthday last week! Wow, a whole new decade. I feel pretty good about being 30. I'm ready to be there. Although I don't have a job at the moment, I still feel good about where I'm at in my career and where we are at in life. I have a wonderful husband, a supportive family, great friends, and two adorable puppies. My needs are taken care of, my life is moving forward, I have good goals for myself, and I am continuing to grow as a human being. And I am happy and Don is happy which makes me happy too. I didn't feel the need to mark my birthday with a huge celebration. Dinner and games with my friends is how I chose to spend the day and I loved every minute of it.

But instead of a huge celebration I did ask Don if I could mark my 30th in a different way - with a wardrobe makeover and he lovingly obliged my wish. So Kristy came with me to a mall all the way down in Redondo Beach to visit a couple of stores that they didn't have closer and was my personal shopper for the morning. I got a few new pairs of exercise pants, a new pair of boots, some new work suits, a new pair of jeans, new bras that fit and aren't all stretched out, some new shirts. But I think even more awesome than buying the new clothes was the very liberating feeling of going through my closet and drawers when I got home and getting rid of everything that didn't fit right, had lost it's shape or faded, was out of season or no longer age appropriate. I definitely have less clothes than I started out with but it is awesome to be able to look in my closet and dresser and know that everything in there fits and I feel comfortable and even attractive wearing. Thank you honey!

So that just leaves New Years Eve which we spent how we spend most of our special occassions these days - at our house with good food, good company, and good times. Don't forget good drinks! Here are Katy and I playing Guitar Hero. If you look closely you can see Seumas trying to get in on the action. I am wearing one of my new outfits - Sweater top with new jeans and boots which you can't see but they are really cute and I got such a good deal! No Katy is not Indian, but she did go to a Bali party right before coming over to our place and so is wearing her gorgeous pink and yellow sari and looking smoking hot! While we girls warmed up on Guitar Hero, the boys closed the year with some stinky cigars on the back porch and then came back in to join us for the countdown. After midnight we decided to play our new Catch Phrase Game - boys against girls of course - which turned out to be a huge hit! We were laughing so hard that before we knew it we had been playing for two hours and realizing that I had to take Kristy to the airport in just a few hours decided we better call it a night. For some H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S video on how Cordy spent her New Year's, you HAVE to check out Camille's New Year's Post on her Blog. Seriously, you don't want to miss this. Happy New Year everyone.