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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Happy Happy Snowman

Merry late Christmas to everyone!
In the spirit of Christmas, I headed out to Target today at lunch to see what was on clearance (well, really I just needed catfood, but since I had to go anyway...). All holiday stuff is 50% off, so I picked up some wrapping paper and ornaments, and while browsing the stock, my friend Christyn and I came upon what may be the world's happiest snowman.
Now, we are cracking up in the aisle at this little beverage dispenser, which could have been very cute, but the design was poorly executed. What do you think?
The little snowbank is substantial enough that the dispenser could have been placed lower on the figure. But instead, the spigot is located in a rather unfortunate spot. Odd that it says "love" right above it... (I call this the spigot of love!)
Yeah, I'm perverse, but this just looks too wrong. Oh Target, you never disappoint me. First Easter, now this...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bake-a-Thon 2007!

I spent the weekend at my father's house, for a little (okay, a lot!) Christmas baking. My brother Joe came up to partake this year, so it was actually a lot easier, and we were able to get a whole lot done in 2 days. We made at least 9 different things (I lost count...and my leg fell asleep, so I'm not getting up to walk into the kitchen and check).

Here are a few cute (if I do say so myself) pictures of Gino in cookie baking bliss.

Peanut butter batter from our batch of buckeye balls

Chocolate chip cookie dough

Is this bliss or what?

I will only take responsibility for giving him the first beater. The last 2 were supplied by Dad, and the sugar apparently hit about an hour after Dad left for work, and I was watching Gino before my stepmother got home. That kid was just bouncing off of the walls. Literally bouncing!! (Off the furniture though, not the walls.)

Here's a shot of most of our finished product - this was taken Saturday, but we made more on Sunday:

Clockwise, left to right: Peanut Butter Blossoms, Hello Dolly Bars, Awesome Cookies, Molasses Drops, Butter Rich Spritz, Lemon Cookies (middle)

Now I am off to arrange a tray of cookies to take into work tomorrow, watch While You Were Sleeping and work on the hat/scarf set that my friend ordered today (more $$ for Disneyland!).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Why do some people make everything so complicated?

Everyone at work (okay, maybe 3 or 4 people, but it was enough) kept asking me if we were going to do a Secret Santa exchange this year. I ended up organizing it last year, because everyone wanted to do it, but no one else would pony up and make it happen. So naturally, people seemed to be waiting for me to take the necessary action again this year. So I sent out the email last week to see if people were interested. Most were, so today I sent another email to the willing participants with more details, and asking for input.

My idea, with verbal suggestions from other co-workers, was to pick names next Monday, cap the total spending at $20, leave little items here and there for our giftee through the week, and exchange final gifts on the 19th. Everything seemed fine, although we changed the date to the 18th because people were out on the 19th...

Then I get this email from the boss (on which she has copied everyone) stating if we are leaving small gifts she can't participate. I responded to all, clarifying the spending cap and making the little (and inexpensive) gifts part optional. Then I get this private email from her - "Then some people will get a bunch of gifts and others won't." I responded to her saying that it's all the same value (since the spending cap is the same for both ways), and she just writes back saying "Tami - you know it doesn't work that way."

Oh my God. Grow up, will you? Just tell me if you're participating or not, and keep your whiny crap to yourself. We're all adults and it's all for fun. This is not something you need to stress over! (My other boss was sympathizing with me on this, and yes, I shared the exchange with her, because she had a similar one and had called me vent while I was staring in shock at my email.) While I was conspiring with the other boss, a response to my clarification email came in saying "Great idea! I like it." It made us both laugh.

And I can't tell you how many of my co-workers came over to me to mention how ridiculous that boss's response to the little gifts idea was. Urgh. I'm thinking tiny little things, like a greeting card or a candy cane or something. It's not unheard of in the Secret Santa circles.

There is a reason everyone wanted to do this and no one wanted to spearhead it. At least I won't have to do it next year! (Perk 1 for getting a new job.)

In less irritating/petty news - I cleared out the corner of my living room for my Christmas tree and it is now up, with lights (though the bottom string is unlit because of a broken bulb...and I pulled out the vaccuum after 10pm because I didn't know when the bulb broke or where the glass bits ended up) and the tree skirt.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm Back!

And apparently, I was missed. I wasn't off doing anything exciting or anything, the writing bug just hadn't hit. So...to recap:

I spent Thanksgiving at my mother's house, which was fun. We went shopping at the outlet mall the next day (but unlike my insane mother, I did NOT get there at store-opening...I met her around 10:30am). I managed to complete most of my Christmas shopping, though I had done a lot before Thanksgiving (that's new for me). I only have a couple people left to buy for. Of course, I have supplies to make a few presents, but haven't made them yet.

Saturday morning I drove to my Dad's house and celebrated his birthday (and my step-mother's) and got to see my little brother. I didn't get any pictures this time, so you'll just have to trust me on the uber-cuteness.

I've been working on those scarves commissioned by my boss, and finished them last week. Below is a shot of the scarves, ruffle ends up, in the bag I used to take them in to work.

I finished another hat for another co-worker, which I'll deliver tomorrow. She's already paid, so I hope it fits!

I worked at home again last Wednesday, and since I was home during daylight hours, I went down to my storage unit at lunch and brought up all of my Christmas decorations. I switched over to my winter dishes, and put up my front door wreath, but I haven't decorated my tree yet. Mostly because my tree isn't up yet. I have a fake one, and plan to put it up this week (it was going to be tonight, but I'm not sure now...I mean, Desperate Housewives is on!).

This weekend I worked on some crochet projects and then had a girls lunch and shopping day today. I broke down and bought something for me - a much needed new pair of sneakers. My old pair is developing a visible hole in the right toe, and therefore is really not suitable for work wear anymore. So, I found a cute pair on sale at Mervyn's (thanks Kristin for bearing with me!) and the problem has been solved.

In other news, I'm going to Disneyland! Or as I may start calling it, Jill's wonderful world of knitting spots... (hehe) Moriah has been inviting me to go with her family for the last few years (they always go in January, or have been doing so for a while now), and I figured this would be a good time to take her up on the offer, since I've got the vacation time that's rolling over from this year, and I am still employed. I'm putting aside all the $ from sales to go to the trip, so I'm hoping to sell a few more things to add to my Disney fun fund.

Okay...back to the Desperate Housewives natural disaster show...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Howdy Y'All

Just popping in to say Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all safe and warm with the ones you love today.

As for me, I'm at my mother's house, counting down to T time (that T is for Turkey, that's good enough for me...).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Christmas Rush?

So, I'm starting to wonder if that Christmas rush everyone talks about is going to hit soon. One of my co-workers asked me to bring my jewelry into work last Friday, so I put it all in a bag and decided to include the cards and crocheted stuff too.

Everyone was duly impressed with the scarf and hat (Chloe and Talise), and I ended up selling Talise and getting a custom order for 4 scarves. Yay me! Below is a pic of the yarns I am making the scarves with (she asked for gold, pumpkin, deep blue, and olive, which is not in the below picture). Gracie didn't want to be left out. Unfortunately, I had to whisk her away after taking the shot, so she wouldn't leave (much) cat hair on the yarn.
I've also had more people ask about putting in some orders for the holidays, or for themselves, but I don't have any actual sales from that yet. My custom order (actually for my manager's manager) paid 1/2 up front, so I didn't have to buy supplies out of my pocket (I like that arrangement!).
Also, after this weekend I have a new respect for bowlers. I went bowling on Friday night with some friends (and yes, I still really suck at it). Aside from my final scores, the really pitiful part is how sore I am 2 days later! My thumb is no longer numb (okay, it wasn't quite that bad), but my forearm is totally sore, as is my right ankle (lunges, anyone?) and upper thigh. So sad...
But I'm recovering...and now I have to go attempt to sign into my work computer from home. I'm going to attempt to try to work at home 2x a month. This Wednesday is my trial run (if I find that I'm not getting any work done, I probably will not do it again). Wish me luck!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Weekend Rants and Raves

This past weekend I drove up to Sacramento to visit my friend Kerri. We decided to do something a little different, and hit a comedy club on Saturday night. We ended up at The Punchline. The headliner was Jamie Kaler, whom neither of us had heard of. Apparently he's been in a few things, including the TBS series My Boys (which I've never watched). Well, Kerri and I have decided we might have to start watching now. This guy was hilarious! We laughed so hard, I expected to go down a pant size (ab workout and all that). Anyway, if you can catch his stand up, I would recommend it.

On Sunday, we decided it time for some shopping, so we hit the mall that's near her house. Before leaving for the weekend, I had set a spending limit of $100 for myself (I knew we were shopping, and had decided to replace certain undergarments that have been known to attack - and have since been eliminated from my wardrobe). We cruise through Macy's and see some very cute and overpriced shoes alongside some very skanky and overpriced shoes (a pair of which I picked up and showed to Kerri, stating "Wow, these will totally match my new pole!" Um, then I realized I made the joking exclamation perhaps a wee bit loudly...) But that is neither here nor there.

We came upon the NY & Co store (which I am still in the habit of referring to as Lerner's), and saw major sale signs plastered in and around their display windows. Almost Everything in the Store - Buy One Get One 1/2 Off! So, of course, we had to go in. I actually found 2 items that I liked and decided to buy. After waiting about 4 hours in line (a slight exaggeration, but really not that far off the mark), I get up to the counter and the frazzled associate rings me up. My 2 items come to over $80 (WAY more than I expected to spend, and hadn't even gotten what I'd come to the mall for)!! I questioned the sales girl, since I picked both items up off of the racks/tables with the sales signs prominently displayed. I was told that one of the items wasn't included in the sale, and I assumed it was the satin shirt I had nabbed...I was kind of at a loss, and at that point accepted it and signed the receipt.

Then, as soon as Kerri was done with her purchases, I grumbled to her that I got no discount, and that I was annoyed that the sales girl didn't mention to me prior to completing the transaction that one of my items was bogo 1/2 off and the other wasn't - usually they will at least ask if you wanted to pick up a 2nd item covered under the sale. I stewed a while and as we left I had pretty much decided to come back and either return both items or simply return the shirt that I assumed was the non-sale item and pick up a 2nd sweater, which I assumed was the sale item.

Kerri could tell I was p.o.ed, since I was totally quiet all the way to the elevator (anyone who knows me knows that isn't regular behavior for me), and was no doubt visibly seething. We decided to hit NY & Co on our way back out the mall, allowing me more time to figure out what to do. So, we did some (necessary for me) damage in Victoria's Secret, sniffed around the Body Shop, and found antibacterial hand soaps at B&BW for $3 (good deal!).

Now, Kerri and I are starving - mind you it was the first day of the time change and we'd barely eaten all day. So, on our way back out we decided that I'd stop in at NY & Co and exchange the shirt that wasn't on sale for the 2nd sweater that was, and Kerri would go on to Macy's to pick up a sweater she was drooling over after our first walk through. I was planning to just meet her there when I finished.

Well...the best laid plans and all that... I guess I wasn't the only unhappy customer, because aside from the 2 or 3 purchases ahead of me in line, there were also 2 returns and a huge problematic return in process. People were muttering and whining in line, and a few of them left instead of sticking around to buy. Kerri called me when she was done, and I was still 2 people back from the front! When I finally got up there, with the 2nd sweater I decided to get for the bogo deal, I was told that the sweaters were the items that were NOT on sale, rather, the pants that were folded on the bottom shelf of that display were. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? The sweaters are folded on the top of the table, flanked by two giant signs advertising the sale. The pants are barely even visible. I was disgusted and did a straight exchange for a refund. Saved me over $80!

I left pretty peeved, and don't think I'll be shopping there again for a while. Slight grudge, perhaps, but I consider that to be total false advertising. And then, come to find out, the headband that Kerri had purchased wasn't on sale, though it was on a rack that had a 40% off sign. I also got an email today from Kerri that explained the reason she set off every alarm in all of the stores we entered and exited yesterday. NY & Co didn't remove the security tag from the shirt she bought. So, she has to go back AGAIN, to have the tag removed.

OY!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Head!!

I'm really not that into Halloween this year, which is abnormal for me. I think it's because we're not making a big production out of it at work this year (you know, since there are pretty much no other departments still operating). I don't have any plans this year, and no costume. Though it's possible that some people from work may go out tomorrow. We'll see if that happens though.
Anyway, in the spirit of Halloween, I'll thought I'd share a little tidbit of my childhood.

Although I wasn't the youngest of the 4 kids in my family, I was often the victim of the others, who liked to gang up on me from time to time. So, when I (and my siblings) discovered something that terrified the youngest, I went with it for as long as I could. Of course, now I realize that my youngest brother was probably 5 at the time, and that we may have traumatized him for life...but now that he's 26, I can pull this on him with little to no guilt.

So, I think this all came about after Creepshow was on HBO. I believe it all started when my older sister (who was probably 13 or 14 at the time, and likely was the only one who saw the movie) was trying to scare us all by retelling the stories from the movie. I have no doubt that we were all hanging on her every word. So, she's retelling the "Father's Day" segment, where the dead father says, "I want my cake." (Or something like that.) She did a creepy voice, and it freaked out Tony, the youngest. Somehow, and I can't for the life of me remember how, we figured out that Tony got really scared when we all pointed to the floor in the middle of the room and intoned, "the head...THE HEAD!!"

To this day, it freaks him out. And yes, I test it periodically, because that is how mature I am now that I'm 32.

Anyway, in keeping with the theme of "The Head," I bring you this:

my newest acquisition

Actually, this purchase had nothing to do with Halloween (much to the disappointment of the sales guy at the craft store checkout, who asked what I was planning to do with it. I couldn't think of a good story, so I told the truth). I'm going to use this to display my hats and possibly scarves, so I don't have to struggle to take semi-non-hideous self-portraits anymore.
Nameless head modeling my newest hat creation
I am tempted to add some color to the blank/naked face, but am afraid I will ruin it and make it garish (or more creepy than it already is). I do think I should give it a name though. Anyone want to name that head?

Ella sin nombre modeling Ava. Doesn't she look demure? Pretty impressive "bone" structure, for styrofoam pellets.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

That being said, I'm off to make Christmas cards while watching the rest of Reaper.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It ain't cool, being no jive turkey - so close to Thanksgiving

Quick! Name that movie!

I was browsing around Etsy when a treasury slot opened up, which allowed me to choose cool items from other sellers to feature on the site. So, I decided on a turkey theme, and that line came into my head. I think I picked some pretty nice items, if I do say so myself. If you want to check out my picks - follow this link. I've named it "Jive Turkeys."

Take a peek, look at the items, leave me a comment... You can visit each seller's shop by clicking on the photo of their item. Have fun! (I did!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FYI on CA Wildfires

I'm sure you've all heard about the wildfires raging through Southern CA. Here's a link to the official state site:

http://www.calfires.com/

I am happy to know that they are currently quite some distance from my own family (and family of friends) who live in the Thousand Oaks area (Northwest of LA). They appear to be inching closer to my cousin, who lives in Newport Beach, though. I'm not too worried at the moment, but I still don't like it, and hope they at least flee up to Thousand Oaks with the rest of the family.

So, even if you aren't affected by these events, or don't know anyone who is, please say a little prayer (or send positive vibes in your own way) for all those who are having to deal with this disaster.

Thanks

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My underclothing is trying to tell me something

Yep. Specifically, my bra is crying out to me. Apparently it feels that it is ready for retirement. It decided to strike this afternoon by hoisting a picket sign. A pointy little picket sign in the form of an underwire protruding from the center of the bra and working it's way up the center of my chest. Don't worry, I put an end to the strike before the picet sign was visible above the neckline of my sweater. (This time.)

This actually happened the weekend of my step-brother's wedding, when I was in the salon with my mother. All of the stylists were busy and I was waiting for my turn with the stylist that was currently doing my mother's makeup, and someone came to the salon door which had somehow ended up locked. So, helpful little chick that I am, I went over and opened the door for her. I came back over to the area containing Mom and the stylist, then felt an odd pokey sensation below my neck. I look down, and there's my stray underwire staring at me (taunting me!!)! I'm sure it must have been there when I opened the door for the stranger. (I mean really, how fast does wire travel?)

Mortifying! One would think I'd have thrown out this relic of a bra by now. But alas, I have not. I'm just not too smart, am I?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FYI - check out the Cooking Corner. I posted a new recipe! Will wonders never cease?

Monday, October 15, 2007

PSA - Nutrition Labels

Okay, I was shopping for portable work-friendly healthy lunch options this afternoon and saw that those Campbell's microwavable bowls were on sale for $1.77 a piece. Not bad, so I picked up my favorite (Italian Wedding Soup) and then realized they also had the Healthy Request version on sale.

I'm not sure what made me do it, but I decided to compare the nutrition labels. Now, mind you, the Healthy Request version has the big green banner across the front advertising it as 98% fat free and less sodium. Well, it does have a lot less sodium than the regular version, so if you are watching your sodium, by all means, choose the Healthy Request version.

If you're not watching your sodium intake, check this out...

The regular version has fewer calories (10) than the Healthy Request, and less fat! Not a huge difference (0.5g), but it's there nonetheless. There's also 5mg less cholesterol in the Healthy Request version. Still, I expected a much bigger difference between the two.

I also checked the Grilled Chicken & Sausage Gumbo HR v regular. Again, the "healthy" version has more calories (10 again, sense a theme?), but less sodium, 1 less g of sugar, and the rest all appears the same.

Well, at least they all sell for the same price. (And please note, I was not comparing the vitamin/mineral amounts, which differed slightly, but I don't think most people base their purchases on vitamin A content...)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lights! Camera! Lint Roller!!

So, my little diva kitty just had to be a part of the action. After I had used the lint roller on the base for my newest creation, positioned the lights, lined up my shot and made sure Gracie was a safe distance away, I clicked and got this:

"I'm all ready for my close-up, why are you pointing the camera over there?? " AKA - attack of the huge fuzz-monster.

Really, I probably would've gotten more of her in the shot, but the camera moved when I started yelling and lunged forward to remove her before she could start biting the necklace. So, to placate the drama queen, I corrected my grievous error and took this shot next:

I've lost interest. Catch me after my beauty rest.

I'm just happy that her eyes are somewhat open in this one. The anti-red eye must have caught her off guard.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Another Wedding

Well, I helped Kristin with a wedding last Saturday. We ended up spending the night in Napa, since the bridal party/family were staying there, and the wedding was in Rutherford. Plus, we were still running errands Friday night, so it's better that we stayed local.

Saturday morning I drove along Highway 29 to Rutherford. The sky was filled with hot air balloons (okay, not filled, but there were a lot of them taking off or soaring). I've seen the postcards with all of the balloons, but I guess I thought it was during festival time. However, it appears that the hot air balloons are always up in the early mornings (according to someone I spoke to at the reception site). It was cool.


The reception was held at Auberge du Soleil - very nice venue. I set up the entry table and arranged the dessert table and favors. It all looked very nice. Though I must say, it was probably the most expensive reception site I've ever step foot in (I say that now after checking out their website). As I was leaving after the set up, I noticed that I was in the only non-luxury, non-limo on the road until I got back down into the vineyards.

Anyway, here are some shots from the setup. (I forgot my camera, so these are from my cellphone. Not bad for the phone, huh?) Here is the fountain right outside on the terrace, completely covered in flower petals. It looked really neat (better in person, though).

Here is the dessert table. They did cupcakes instead of a traditional cake, but did have a small round cake for the cutting ceremony. And before you ask, no, I didn't taste one. Um, well, I did get a little frosting on my fingers while arranging them, but I hate to say the frosting had no flavor when I licked it off my finger. Fortunately for the guests, the menu included 3 desserts of the chef's choosing.


Anyway, I hope the bride and groom were pleased with the results. I left right after the bridal party arrived from the ceremony (there wasn't enough for me to do after that and Kristin had it covered). Of course, I later learned from Kristin that very shortly after I took off, the mother of the groom lost consciousness. More than just fainted - her bodily functions shut down. I don't know the full story, but I know that they called 911 and she was revived and didn't end up going to the ER. How embarrassing for her though. Kristin blamed the wine, her tiny stature and the jetlag. (Kristin - feel free to embellish.)

Anyway, later that night I went into San Francisco with Christyn and her husband (and the new baby) for dinner and stuff. We all forgot that it was fleet week, and didn't call ahead for reservations anywhere. Everywhere was fully booked until late, so we ended up at Lori's Diner in Ghirardelli Square. And since we were already there...we just had to stop into the Ghirardelli Chocolate Caffe. I was full from dinner, so just got their original Hot Chocolate (rich and excellent!). We were going to meet up with some of Christyn's other friends who were also in the city, but it didn't end up working out, so we headed home.

It was a long Saturday, but a good one. And Sunday I slept in (yay!), started a new book, worked on my Etsy shop and did 2 loads of laundry. Now, back to the usual grind...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Still Wondering

Well, she hasn't called me yet, so I still have no clue... But, I could have called her and didn't.

I updated my sidebar with an Etsy Mini. So, if anyone is interested, it will be showcasing my four most recently listed items. I'm hoping to start adding things more often, but it all depends on my schedule, creativity levels (not always stable) and craft budget (not always adhered to...).

Anyway, I don't really have too much to say. I went to my stepbrother's wedding last Saturday, and had taken a half day at work on Friday to drive up to my Mom's to help with the rehearsal dinner. Traffic was not on my side. I got there about an hour before the wedding party was supposed to arrive. (Oh, if you're wondering, the rehearsal dinner was at my mother's house, with the meal prepared by a family friend.) I never got a chance to change into the outfit I was planning on wearing, which was okay, since the wedding party showed up in casual-wear anyway. The food was excellent (grilled salmon and marinated tri-trip, mashed potatoes, sauteed carrots and squash, spinach salad, 3 types of fresh bread). My mother had rented linens and chair covers and had set up tables and chairs along the length of the front of her wrap-around porch. She laid out faux fall foliage runners on each table with a potted mum in the center and 3 votive candles. It turned out very nice. Of course, we ran back outside later that night to rush the linens inside after it started raining. Luckily, the guests had all left and I'd already unpinned all the bows and chair covers earlier.

The weather had cleared up by Saturday, and it ended up being a beautiful afternoon for the ceremony, which was outside (no mud!). I felt totally out of my element on the wedding day though, since I wasn't in the wedding and wasn't working it. I haven't been simply a guest at a wedding in quite some time. (Okay, only about 2 months, but that was odd too!) Kristin, my events coordinator friend, will understand this. I guess maybe I'm just more comfortable when I have a purpose at a function like that.

Originally, my mother had made appointments for the bride and all of the bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup done at her usual salon. A week or so before the wedding, the bride decided they were all going to go somewhere else for it. (I thought this was crappy, since they weren't obligated to use my mother's stylist in the first place, and the bride could have declined the offer. Mom was even going to pay for it. And, the stylist had blocked out the whole day for the bridal party, and put off her annual anniversary trip to accept the appointment as a favor to my mom.) Anyway, since the bride and entourage were going elsewhere, my mom and I went and got our hair and makeup done. Mom offered to pay for mine. (I let her, since otherwise, I'd have been doing it all myself.) Let me tell you, at the end I was feeling quite glamorous. (Hopefully, it was not all delusional.) I was probably overdressed and over-made up/coiffed for the wedding, but I didn't care. I didn't get any good pictures of the hair, though I did attempt to take a few after getting back that night. Oh well.
Anyway...that's all for now. As for tomorrow, this week's tv dilemma is whether to continue with my guilty pleasure show (Top Model) or to watch Pushing Daisies, which looks funny and morbid all at once. Right up my alley...
And the next name that I am going to call...is...Pushing Daisies. (Sorry Tyra, but your signature line has gotten tired.)

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Curiosity is Piqued

So, I just got a totally random phone call from a friend of mine. Here's how it went:

Friend: "Quick, I need your address. I can't talk - Dancing With the Stars is on. I'll call you tomorrow."

Me: "Oh my God, you're sad." (Recited address)

Friend: "Okay, gotta go - Call you tomorrow."

That may be the shortest phone call I've ever had. And no, there was no hello. Luckily I was able to recognize her voice. Now, I am dying to know what she needed my address for. As far as I know, she's not engaged or pregnant, and is happy where she's working...hmm.... I am so impatient!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Torn

Yep, that's me. I'm torn. And what's the big decision? Why, thank you for asking!

My dilemma is which of the 9pm primetime shows to watch tonight. There's Gossip Girl, which I watched last week when it premiered and actually enjoyed. On the flip side, there's Private Practice, the Grey's Anatomy spinoff. Now, I'm a HUGE Grey's Anatomy fan, and have been looking forward to the spinoff. But, I don't know...

So, I guess I'm trying to decide between a teen soap opera, and a show of adults that act like teens (I'm assuming)...

I think I'll be flipping through both stations and see which one lasts through the beginning of the season. While working on a new necklace idea, if I can keep the beads and wire out of the cat's jaws.

On the jewelry front - Thanks D.T. for the sale! And check out my new link on the sidebar to my Etsy shop. Thanks!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Open For Business

Well, this weekend I finished setting up my Etsy shop. If you want to check it out, here's the link: www.bytami.etsy.com

I'll be adding a link to my page soon, but I spent today at the Walnut Festival and need to get to bed. I've only listed 7 items so far, but hope to add to it relatively soon. Eventually, I would like to add some of my crocheted items (I set it up with a crochet section, but it is empty at the moment). Of course, I should probably get moving on the baby blanket for Christyn's 12-week old baby before I start any new projects.

I haven't had any sales yet (way early), but I've had each item viewed a modest number of times. I'm just now getting the word out, and have printed out a few preliminary business cards to give to friends and family.

Special thanks to Jill, who may not realize it, but offered me some encouragement in an email she sent a while back regarding the business end. Thanks also to all of my supportive friends out there! (And Joie - setting up the shop isn't too hard, as long as you have enough time to sit at the computer and do it.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

My Very Own Personal Hero

I’ve been working on the jewelry thing lately and have noticed that my cat is mesmerized by beading wire and pearls. I’m using a bead board to lay out some of my designs before stringing them, and this usually ends up on my lap as I work. So does the cat. This has posed a bit of a problem, as she is not content to sit idly by admiring my handiwork.

Nope, not my Gracie. The freshwater pearls shining in the lamplight appear to her as unwilling prey attempting to escape their confines (that would be the indented necklace track). The reflection off of that perfectly faceted Swarovski crystal? The shining eye of the victim, glistening with a tear of defeat! As she crouches to pounce, she thinks to herself, “Must…save…Mommy! The marauding army of evil baubles is quickly advancing!”

Aren’t I lucky to have such a protective hero in my household? God forbid the nylon coated steel coil of beading wire be allowed to hang over the side of the bead board, or dangle from my busy hands, swinging its tail mockingly in Gracie’s face. Better get it before it gets you! Muahahahaha…

Um, anyway, I find myself repeatedly removing the cat from my side/lap/face/couch while beading. She did pounce on a roving pearl last night, overturning numerous beads and gemstones onto my lap, couch and floor. Then she chased what had fallen to the floor. I’m still missing one Swarovski crystal, and am waiting to see it winking up at me from the litter box (in which case I will take the loss and let it lay). I’ve also caught her gnawing at the beading wire, which I don’t think she could cut with her teeth and swallow, but is left all up all kinked from the biting so it will no longer lay quite flat after the attack. I’m sure this is all quite fun for her. As for me...well, I've been picking seed beads out of the carpeting. Enough said.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

Well, some of you may have noticed that I went AWOL last week. I haven't really felt like blogging, so I haven't done it. But, to catch you up, I turned another year older last week (Wednesday was my birthday), but as usual, don't feel any different. Birthdays just don't seem nearly as exciting as they used to when I was little.

My co-workers decorated my cubicle at work with streamers and happy birthday banners (hard to miss). I got flowers delivered from my good friend in GA. Then after work I met up with Kristin for dinner and a little bit of shopping. Bad news for the Target crew, since they had started setting up the Halloween displays and there were items that said "try me." So we did... Maturity is for boring people.

A group of friends got together to celebrate my birthday on Sunday (which is actually my grade-school best friend's birthday!), which was fun. My friend from GA happened to be out visiting family, and Kerri came up from Sacramento to join us. And I made my first jewelry sale! I was wearing a piece that I had completed on Saturday night (I received a package from Aunt Fran that included some beads that were perfect for the necklace I was working on, so I used them right away), and one of my friends was admiring it, and asked if I'd make one for her. I told her I'd sell her this one and asked what she'd pay for it (she wouldn't let me just give it to her for free, I was ready to). So, I made $15. Yay me! I still don't have the website all set up yet, but I'll keep you all posted. I've made a few more items for it too.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Money Matters & Dogs

So, I mentioned about a week ago how I was trying to save money. Caitlin asked me how I figure out my budget. Here's the problem. I don't. Does anyone have a great way to devise a budget? I'm thinking of using Quicken (simply because it's already installed on my hard drive), but I don't actually know how to use it. I'm sure I could figure it out though...

So far, I had balanced my scheduled bill payments against my bank balance to see what would be left over (a sad, paltry amount) before my next paycheck comes in. From that, I limited myself to $100 spending money for the period between paychecks. Of course, I didn't count the cash in my wallet at the time...so I spent it without counting it towards my $100 limit. Then I cashed in all the loose change that I've been collecting at home/car and didn't count that towards the limit either ($33.00 - not bad! First time I've had to wait in line at the CoinStar machine though. The couple in front of me had over $200 in change!).

I think I may need to rethink my current method...Gas alone will be (and has been) about half of my spending allowance, and I still need to eat (groceries add up). Happily, my two front teeth will be paid off in December, and that will free up $120/mo for savings or spending. The credit cards will take a bit longer to pay down, but I'm working on it (which is why I'm trying to spend so little currently).

As for the "dog" in the post title, it's what my apartment smells like right now. And no, I didn't get one. It's from running the vacuum cleaner that I got from my father (he has quite a few dogs). It needs a new filter, but I haven't been able to find one yet. Granted, I haven't been looking... But, in the meantime, the carpet is looking much better. (And no Kristin, I did not completely clean my place before vacuuming, so don't get too excited.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Weekend Photos

I visited my father this weekend, in the incredible scorching heat...aren't I a good kid? Dad and I baked a luscious lemon cake with cream cheese frosting (yum!), while my 3-year old brother watched. We let him lick the frosting bowl, and he was plenty happy with that arrangement...

Woo hoo! Sugar!! I'm not sleeping tonight!

Later that night, my stepmother and I took Gino to the little beach at the local river. He loves it and we almost couldn't get him to leave. Okay, he didn't really have a choice in the matter, but we were about the haul him off kicking and screaming. Luckily, it didn't come to that.

Gearing up for a big splash
So, that was basically my weekend. Not too exciting by many people's standards, but I enjoyed it. Oh, and I got my dad's old vacuum cleaner, which I was sorely in need of, since mine started emitting smoke and died the last time I used it (which was long enough ago that I'm embarrassed to say). So, now I can suck up some of that cat hair that has been taking over my carpet. It really does make a difference. (And sadly, as soon as I got home last night, I started vacuuming! Oh come on now...don't be jealous!)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All that glitters

I made the above bracelet at Kristin's request. This has lobster clasps at both ends to attach to her medical ID bracelet. I don't know what she'll think about it, and this picture sucks (batteries ran out after the shot, so it's the best I could do at this point. But it looks sparkly here), but it gives the general idea. All she told me was that she wanted something neutral that would go with everything. This is what I came up with, but I will make her one that I think will be sturdier, since she wears it all the time and I'm not sure how long this will hold up. I'm not worried about the beads (all glass) so much as the copper colored craft wire that's made of some un-named metal.

Anyway, thanks for all of the business name suggestions! My favorite so far is "Tami's Treasures." But, if anyone has additional ideas, I'm still considering. I'm also wondering - do I need to file for Fictitious Business Name? Crap, another thing to look up. I'm deciding that the CA Business Portal is not very user-friendly. The IRS site is only slightly better.

Well, I'm catching a certain kitty odor...I think that's my cue to clean out the litter box right quick. Fun!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Open to Suggestions

Okay, I'm seriously considering opening an Etsy shop where I can sell hand made jewelry and crocheted items. But, I need a business name. Any suggestions? Seriously, I need your help. Drop me a line with a good (or even mediocre) suggestion for what to call my little shop.

My reservations with opening a shop are that I'm not sure how often I'll be able to add anything to the shop, and I don't know if anyone will buy anything. Also, will I get in gear and ship any sales quickly? (I don't expect to have a ton of volume or anything, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem as long as I check my email frequently...) And, would I have to report the income on taxes? How does that work? How do I know how much to charge for things?

Argh...too many questions...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Surreality

Well, we got additional information about the severance plan today (no info on the retention package yet though). The severance is paid out based on length of time with the company, and is in the form of regular paychecks, including benefits. That's good, since it won't be taxed as a bonus and we won't have to do COBRA during that time. Also, in addition to the severance, the company is giving everyone 60 days paid notice, during which we'll receive our regular paychecks and benefits and not be required to work. (This is a legal requirement.) The severance begins after the 60 day notice period is over.



A lot of people were finishing up their last day today, and will be back tomorrow for the career development seminar. It's weird to see so many people go all at once. Sad. It will be worse tomorrow after the seminar. Then, with those of us left (outside of my department anyway) being spread out so much in the building, it will be quite different.

And speaking of sad, they cleaned out the marketing closet today and it was a madhouse in the hallway where they were placing the loot. It was pathetic...what a bunch of vultures! (And me at the forefront!) Dad - expect some goodies.



In other news, I made this the other day and wore it to work yesterday:
I liked the clasp so much I wore it in front
This is freshwater pearls and czech glass beads on wire. I got a few compliments on it, and some people telling me I should make more and sell them. I'm thinking about Etsy, but don't really know how it works. Here's a close-up:
I'm not sure how sturdy the wire is though, and am afraid it might break after a few wearings. I'll see how long it lasts. I don't know the best type of wire to use to crochet jewelry - I just hope this one didn't contain any lead.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Reprieve

Okay, I can stop the panic process for now. My whole department is being retained for 12 months. We'll get the retention package via mail probably next week, but in the meantime, at least I won't be out of a job come this Friday. What a relief.

I have no clue as to what the retention package with contain, but if I stick it out until the end of the 12 months, I'll at least get severance at that point. And, since I'll know ahead of time when it's coming, I can start the job hunt in advance.

Anyway, I'm no longer feeling nauseated and anxious. However, I do know that it will be different, with other co-workers and support staff from other areas of the company being phased out before the end of my employment. It will be a challenge, no doubt.

Thank you all for your kind words of support!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Adrift

Hmm…I had started a post earlier today about my general paranoia about the mortgage market and it's potential effect on my employment. Since beginning the post, I've found out the impact… The company where I've worked for the past 6 years is shutting down (or rather, being wound down by our parent company). We got the announcement today, at about the same time as the press release went out, but won't know any details on severance packages or possible retention packages until Friday. I do not like change. And, I do not like knowing only a little bit about what's going to happen. Tell me everything right away…don't take a full week to rip off the Band-Aid. (Now, if it were an actual Band-Aid, I might take that full week.)

My particular department *may* be retained for a while (6mo +?), but this is from verbal statements. I won't believe it until I have the retention package in my hands. (Or the severance package, whichever the case may be.) I'm kind of freaking out right now, but given what little we've been told already, it sounds like I should have a good window of time to find something before the severance would run out. I'm hoping they offer us a good retention package, because if they do, I'm riding it out until the end. However, just knowing that it is going to end is causing me gastrointestinal distress. (Sorry you had to hear that, but it's true!)
Anyway…I guess I'll be tightening the proverbial belt a bit now. And brushing up ye olde resume - if I can find a copy of it anywhere. I may have to request it from HR.

Wish me luck (and sanity!). I just may have to start selling that jewelry after all...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ramblings



Well, today I got "the talk" at work again this morning. I have to admit, it was about time. I've been expecting it for a while, walking in late and dreading the possibility of running into one of the bosses (those of you who don't read my blog regularly should know that "the talk" is about my lateness). So, when I got the email from my manager saying to see her when I got in, I knew what was coming. She was okay about it, but warned me that if the big boss catches me, I'm screwed. Also, she'll be forced to write me up if it doesn't stop. This is the kick in the pants I need though - I'm scared witless about it again (because I am always in fear for my job anyway, and have never thought that I'm not expendable in the company), so I should be on time for a while now. That's what I'm hoping anyway. I go in cycles. I'll be good and timely for a while, and then start slipping into old patterns until triggered to watch it again (i.e. getting "the talk"). Argh!



Anyway, in other news, I made the following necklace last night and wore it in to work today:

28 guage copper wire with assorted neutral beads

I didn't get any comments on the necklace today, so I'm thinking maybe it's not too remarkable. I almost never wear any jewelry to work, so I'm kind of surprised no one said anything. Oh well, I like it, so who cares what they think? I do like the copper colored wire though. It's a simple chain, and pretty plain and easy. (hehehe...so easy Dagny...you know you're tempted...)

Detail

My company has just switched over to bi-monthly paychecks from our previous bi-weekly pay schedule. So, instead of getting paid every other Friday, we get paid every 1st and 15th. Well, tomorrow is the first paycheck on the new schedule, and I panicked when I saw my bank balance this evening. I was afraid that my card had been compromised again, but nope - that 3 days between the last normal paycheck (they paid up to the end of last month on the 1st) and the first new one really made a difference! I think I had forgotten about the change before scheduling my last round of bill payments. So, now I feel extra poor, even though everything will even out again after a few checks. Tomorrow even. But today - I feel poor and am thinking about re-budgeting. Which I need to do anyway. I really spend way too much $$ at Starbucks and need to ditch that expensive obsession.

I noticed the low balance tonight, since I needed to get cash out of the ATM so I could go to dinner with Christyn. I wouldn't have panicked if I'd just paid with my ATM card... but it's probably better that I was aware. Anyway, I had lots of fun at dinner, and her husband joined us. We should do that more often. (Not a good plan for my re-budgeting idea...)

Okay - off to bed so I can keep my job!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Blame Aunt Fran

Since I am still not feeling quite normal (for me), I didn't venture out much this weekend. I did try my hand at wire crochet though. I'm blaming Aunt Fran for this. She showed me a cool crocheted necklace she made and inspired me to pick it up. So...I used a full spool of 32 guage wire and made these:


I woke up with an annoying coughing attack that didn't want to stop. I had thought about meeting my friend at the farmer's market this morning, but didn't make it.

Then later, I was feeling somewhat better, or at least I thought I was...so I headed to the library to return a movie and have my fines forgiven (I love that they do this periodically at the library - this week only!). Anyway, I was perusing the mystery stacks when I realized that I was just inexplicably tired and felt an overwhelming need to sit down. I guess I'm not as recovered as I was hoping. And my ears still feel cloggy. I broke down and took another Sudafed this evening, hoping to clear the congestion.

Isn't my life exciting? Now...it may be a good thing that the exhaustion hit while I was at the library, because I was thinking about going back to the craft store for more wire and stuff. I hit the grocery store for some essentials and headed back home instead.

Tomorrow, it's back to work.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Back from The Empire State

Well, I left for my annual trip to Buffalo last Wednesday evening (not yesterday), and returned this past Tuesday. All in all, the trip itself was great. I always have fun with my extended family. And, oddly enough, I ran into a co-worker (different department) in the airport on my way there. She didn't recognize me (we don't actually know each other, but I see her around the office all the time). Anyway, she was on the same flight on her way to NYC with her son.



I stayed with my aunt while in Buffalo, and attended her Stamp Camp on Thursday night (she sells for Stampin' Up and held a Christmas in August card making workshop). She and I share a love of handcrafts. And now I have 4 cool Christmas cards, that I'm hoping I can locate when it's time to send them out.



Friday was my brother's 26th birthday. (He and my other brother had flown in late the night before and had a hotel room in town. My mother and stepfather had driven - yes, they're quite insane - and arrived late the night before as well.) We headed to the home of the original buffalo wings for a birthday lunch. My aunt didn't come with us, as she was busy with the marathon of baking in preparation for Saturday's family picnic.

The birthday boy presenting the spoils of his lunch
We stopped for some delicious soft-serve ice cream (the real thing - not frozen yogurt) on the way back to my aunt's house. I helped her a bit with the baking for a while, and then went with her to the local WW meeting, led by her favorite leader. I gained quite a bit, but was happy I went (reality check). And then more baking after that before my mother and stepfather picked me up to head to Santora's for pizza. No, it was not a low-fat trip. When we still lived in the Buffalo area, my family used to go to Santora's all the time. It's great, but they've remodeled the place since we moved, so it's not quite the same.
Saturday morning my aunt and I drove down to the site of our annual family picnic (it's in the town of Lenox, outside of Syracuse), with her SUV loaded down with cooler's of food and extra blankets and pillows. The picnic itself was fun - less like a picnic than a huge family potluck. We have it at a cabin on a small lake that is co-owned by one of my mother's cousins and a number of his cousins from his other side of the family. It's a beautiful site, and I took quite a few photos on my Sunday morning nature walk. But I'm jumping ahead.
After the major food-fest, when the relatives who live locally to the cabin had gone home, the rest of us (Mom, stepfather, 2 cousins, 2 aunts, 1 uncle, 2 brothers and my cousin's wife) sat down for a Trivial Pursuit tournament. I was on a team with Aunt Fran and my cousin Doug's wife (Doug couldn't come this year, as he was called in for his 2 week training for the National Guard. They are sending him to Egypt for a year shortly). The goal of the tournament was to knock my cousin Greg and my Uncle Tom out of the winning spot, since they won last year (I wasn't there) and never let anyone forget it. My team was ahead for most of the game, which was driving the incumbents crazy. And, like most of the board games played throughout my childhood, and adulthood, for that matter, the game was almost immediately under protest. Anyway, my Aunt Sharon (Tom's wife) and cousin Chris ended up pulling ahead and winning. In the meantime, the team consisting of my two brothers had quit, with Tony hurling thier pie-less game piece into one of the card boxes in disgust. My mother and stepfather left in the middle of the game to start the first leg of their drive back to CA (with a stop in IA to exchange cars).
My cousins (and cousin-in-law) all left early Sunday morning to head back to VA. My brother Joe was antsy to leave, but couldn't get Tony to get up. I'm not sure why he was in such a rush to head back to Buffalo, as the rest of us weren't leaving yet. But it was so like my grandfather that it was almost scary. Aunt Fran headed off to church and I went for an extended nature walk with my camera.
Dewy spiderweb in the grass
After getting back to the cabin, I started tidying up for our departure. Tony was still sleeping, and Joe was fuming, but had given up. Later, after we had all left, Uncle Tom, Aunt Sharon, Aunt Fran and I all went to Sylvan Beach for lunch. Mom's family used to head out there in the summers when they were growing up (I only learned this a few years ago), as two other family members had cottages on the lake (I don't know which relatives now - there are so many to keep straight!)
Thistle with honey bee heavy with pollen
On Monday, Aunt Fran and I met up with my brothers for lunch before they had to head back to the aiport. Then she and I wandered around a few craft stores, where I obtained materials for a crocheted necklace. No photos of that project yet, since it's not finished.
Early Monday morning (very early - 5am) I arrived at the airport for my flight back home. I had to check in at the counter, as my connection was inexplicably unavailable for online check-in (I had tried a few times the night before and that morning). For the first time ever in my memory, the boarding pass printer at the counter ran out of paper. Good thing I checked the envelope before leaving, and noticed that there was only one boarding pass in there. The woman behind the counter couldn't find the key to open the door that would allow her to refill the paper. Come to find out, it's a master key that only a manager had, who was nowhere to be found. Anyway, this caused an uneccesary and annoying delay in the check-in process, which put me back at least 15 minutes. (Those are important minutes.) Then I waited in the security screening line for a full 40 minutes (in the tiny Buffalo airport at 5am!), and still had to find my departure gate. By the time I was through the line, there were only 10 minutes until my flight was scheduled to leave, so I figured I was screwed. What do you know? I was right! The plane wasn't even at the jetway by the time I got to the gate.
So, I was shuffled over to the next gate to wait for the next flight into Chicago, where I could connect to SFO. After the end of the boarding calls, there was one couple who hadn't decided whether or not they were going to get on the flight. The woman was either afraid to fly or sick, as she apparently kept stating that she was going to get sick. One other standby and I had been called to get on board and were already on the jetway when the couple came rushing on, having decided at the last minute to get on the plane. So the other guy (also had missed the same flight I had) and I were called back to the gate to wait for the next flight. Fun.
But, I did get on the next flight and the connection and made it home safely, which is what matters. And it's hard to believe, but I really don't get that worried about flying or making connections, because I figure it's all out of my hands. Don't analyze that logic, since I tend to worry about everything else, whether it's in my control or not.
Anyway, now I'm back, and have contracted some cold or flu or something. Complete congestion, coughing, sneezing, headache and body aches. I'm just happy it hit after the trip and not during. Though I was feeling it a teeny bit before I left. However, this weekend will be all about relaxing and recovering. I am vowing to not make any plans at all. (I haven't had a free weekend to myself in quite some time.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stick a Fork in Me...

I'm done... Or I was after Santa Cruz. Nice and crispy at least. I haven't had a sunburn like that in, oh, ever! And yes, we wore sunscreen. Waterproof even. Of course, it might have helped if we'd reapplied at some point during the day. You'd think we'd be smarter, collectively. Even my darker skinned Philipina friend got a little burn, in a spot that was covered by her suit at the time she applied the sunscreen (not anywhere as bad as the rest of us, who were sadly red, and in pain).

So, a week later, I am a bit tan, except for that patch on my back (that wasn't covered by my hair, spf 1000) that is still itching and not done peeling.
Burning aside, we had a great time. We started off after work Friday night by heading over to Chevy's for cheap happy hour eats and to skip rush hour traffic. Even though there was an accident on 17, we made it to Santa Cruz in less than 2 hours. And time passed quickly, what with our in-car vocal performances (Kristin, you would have gotten out of the car and walked the rest of the way). We got to the b&b (a realtor's in-law unit above their garage, but she called it a b&b, because they stock the fridge for your breakfast - and then some) and the proprietor offered to let us use her Garmin GPS for our weekend, at no charge! This because I was happy that she showed us a map to the local beaches, and mentioned to my friends that we could use that on Saturday to get to Monterey.
Saturday morning we got up early, yes - even me - to go whale watching out of Monterey. We got there in time (had to be there by 8:30am, for the 9am sailing), and headed out on the bay. There were a lot of CA sea lions on the rocks right on the coast, and some sea birds (the name of which I can't remember). We stopped at Moss Landing, over a deep underwater canyon, and waited for the action to begin. We got a little show from Curly the Humpback whale, but didn't see any other whales or dolphins. (There is no guarantee that any animals will surface during the trip.) A cute sea lion put on a little show for us. We saw some Harbor Seals (I think), and some sea otters.
Check out how close Curly came to the fishing boat!
Later, when heading back, one of my friends (the one who REALLY wanted to go whale watching, we'll call her Y) ended up quite seasick - thank goodness there was a restroom on the boat. Another of the friends felt queasy (let's call her Z), but I convinced her to go lay down in the galley, where she fell asleep. She felt fine when she woke up, right before we were back at the dock. Y fell asleep after getting sick and felt a little better after that (I would have spent the rest of the day laying down in the car recovering, or at least an hour or so). After getting off the boat, we all walked down the pier looking for a good place for lunch (Y didn't protest, and we asked to make sure she was up for food). We ended up having some excellent clam chowder.
After lunch, we visited some shops and made some little purchases. We all ended up buying the same shirt (it's totally cute!). You just can't argue good taste.

I watched our purses while my friends made a makeshift dressing room. I took this when they didn't know it was coming. Muahahahhahahaaa.

After our shopping spree, we attempted to use the Garmin to find a Starbucks. Aside from the coffee/chai buzz that Z and I were craving, we needed a large accomodating bathroom where we could all change into our swimsuits for the beach. We circled around downtown for a while before finding a free parking spot, then Y asked to girls walking by where the Starbucks was. They informed us that it was around the corner, but had burned down a few weeks ago. Naturally! So, we ended up at the mall, where we changed in the Macy's large ladies room, and Z and I got our Starbucks fix.

We spent the next few hours at the beach, fighting the waves and enjoying the sand and sun. We didn't even burn that day (except for the small bit of pink on my and Z's faces from the boat ride). After the beach, we headed back downtown for dinner and found that there was some big motorcycle to-do, sponsored by Red Bull, going on in the middle of the main strip. We stood around the barricades for a while waiting for some action, but we were hungry and tired, so headed off for food. After dinner, they were on another break before the last performance, and we had lost our prime spots, so we headed back to Santa Cruz.

Sunday we slept in until about 9:30am, then ate a liesurely breakfast out on the back balcony before packing up all of our stuff to checkout. Then we headed to one of the state beaches and hung out until dinner time. My mother would be freaked out to know how far into the ocean we swam - riding the waves. Though we all got taken out by the waves a time or two. And that salt-water will clear your sinuses, given a chance. And Y and I learned not to stand too close to Z when a wave is coming, because once she's under, Z will grab onto anything trying to get up out of the water. She almost got my suit bottoms at one point (I got them back into proper position before the wave fully receded), and Y's top at another. My joke was that Z was trying to get a whole new suit by the end of the trip. Of course, we know that was not really her intention.

After the beach, it was dinner on the waterfront before heading back home.

Dinner. Notice the pre-burn on the 3 white chicks? There was no hiding the trip from the uninvited co-workers come Monday!

We had a great time though, and it was worth the burn. Would have been that much better without it...but still a great time. No in-fighting or anything (got to love that!). But, what more would you expect from a group consisting of 2 Virgos and 2 Tauruses (Tauri?).


Monday, July 23, 2007

Weekend Photos

I have uploaded photos from this weekend, but will be posting about the trip later. Right now, I'm just too tired. So, enjoy the pictorial evidence!

That's a humpback whale. They call him curly. No, I didn't make that up.
The sea lions put on a show for us.
While their buddies were sunbathing.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sand & Sea

Well, I'm all packed for my trip to Santa Cruz/Monterey. We're all leaving tomorrow after work, and I got suckered into driving. They all (the 3 co-workers that I'm going with) descended on me the other day during work and asked, "so...who's driving?" Then as the silence hung thick in the air and I realized they were all staring at me with unwavering eyes...I was trapped...though I don't mind driving so much, as long as we have really good directions to everywhere we're going. I've done the drive before, on my own, but I'm also easily lost. So wish me luck!

We've booked our reservations for the whale watching trip in Monterey on Saturday, so expect plenty of pictures. I'm hoping I can get some good shots of marine life. And maybe some blackmail shots of my friends. hehehe... I'm still hoping for good weather though - it's always hit or miss...

All right then, off to bed. One of my co-horts is planning to call my cell tomorrow at an ungodly hour, in the hopes of rousing me from my blissful slumber. So, I'd better get to that sleeping while I can!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fitting Frustration

Just how much weight do I have to lose before I stop feeling fat in a fitting room? (It's a rhetorical question...as is the next one.) Why do bathing suit sizes not correspond to any other clothing size? Or perhaps the real question is, why does my body not fit any actual manufactured size? (Oh - I know the answer to that one! I don't have the body of a 10 year old boy! So, naturally, women's clothing isn't proportioned for me!)

Ah...yeah....So, if you hadn't guessed, I went shopping today. To make matters worse, I was looking for a new bathing suit (thought I'd try to get a new one before my trip to Santa Cruz this weekend. Looks like I'm stuck with what I've already got! Oh well, it saves me some cash). I should know better by now. And, since I was heading into the fitting rooms anyway, I picked up some other cute items to see how they'd look on me. Sizes no longer have any meaning. I'm totally convinced. Most places I shop I am a medium top, and about an 8 bottom. Today, a medium was way too small. One size 10 was too big, and one size 10 was way too small. Go figure. The medium one piece suit was fine on top, but too long for my torso (and the legs were cut too low, so I looked like a pear shape, even though I'm an hourglass. Who designs these things? I didn't want to spend any more time getting irritated at nothing working, so walked out with no clothes. Wait - let me rephrase that. I walked out without any NEW clothes.

And this morning I was all set to be on time to work. I grabbed the bag of frozen meals to take in to work, and the bag of stuff I was returning to Target after work, and headed down to my car. It was overcast, and had rained during the night, and I was totally dressed for summer, but was not turning back to change. I got to the highway and realized that I did not have my purse with me. That means no wallet, no driver's license, no cell phone, no money, no tax refund check that I had finally stuck in my purse to take to the bank...I had to turn around and go get it. I feel naked without it, somehow. So, that made me late again after all. :(


And because I promised Dagny some food porn, here it is:
It's not the bean salad I had planned to make. I got home way too late to start all the chopping that would be necessary for that. So I threw this makeshift omelette together instead. I like to think that I excercised a great deal of restraint in not swinging into a drive-thru on my way home, since I was starving half to death before leaving the store. And I spent the whole drive home thinking about what I had at home that I could prepare quickly (that would contain the necessary number of points for the rest of my day). With the omelette, I figured I could use the rest of the sliced mushrooms that I bought for the scallop dish before they went bad in my fridge. I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil and added the eggs right to that, then threw in some vine-ripened tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh minced parsley. Yum! And filling. 7 points for the whole thing, which was plenty. It's not really a recipe, so I'm posting it here instead of at the recipe corner. And yes, I realize I overcooked the eggs - they are browner than I normally make them, as the liquid from the mushrooms was fooling me into thinking the center of the omelette was not fully cooked. It still tasted good.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sizzling...


I'd thought I'd post a picture a la Dagny. I decided to cook tonight, since I went to the trouble of buying all of the necessary ingredients, and didn't want the pricey scallops to go bad. So, I made Citrus-Scallops with Sweet Vegetable Saute from one of my old WW cookbooks. You can find the recipe, and more details of my culinary disasters, over at The Cooking Corner. (Just for you Jill, I finally messed with my template and added the link on my sidebar - I've been meaning to do it for a while, but now it's finally done!)
Traffic tonight sucked, and set me back, so I was really hungry when I got home, and it showed in my cooking distraction. I made more mistakes than usual...but if you've read any of my past recipes...you'll see that I have a tendency to improve anyway. It turned out pretty well, but I think I might have to give it another shot, another time, when I am less distracted. (And amazingly enough, Gracie was not one of the distractions. I think my opening the sliding glass door helped - she loves sitting by the screen when the glass is open. And now that I've closed the door, she's sleeping smack dab in the middle of the living room.)
This post really had no point. Sorry about that. If you've gotten this far - thank you for reading! Sometimes I just let the stream of consciousness flow. Guess this was one of those times. :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crazy Old Men

I met Kristin at the Farmer's Market again this morning, though I got on the freeway going the wrong direction (by habit - it's the way to work), so ended up getting there way late. I can't tell you how often I've done that though... Normally, I realize my mistake right away. Not today...I didn't figure it out until I was halfway through Vallejo...Oops!!

Anyway, I was prepared for the farmer's market today. I picked out a few recipes from my huge stash of cookbooks to try - but had limited myself to 2 so I wouldn't overbuy (which I have a tendency to do). And I also limited myself to the WW cookbooks, since I'm still intent on following the plan. If anything turns out well, I may post them at the cooking corner. I chose a simple bean salad and a citrus scallop dish. I splurged on the scallops, but the recipe looks so good! Let's hope I don't screw it up!

So, after perusing the stands and sampling the goodies, Kristin had to take off to go meet a client. So, I decided to go check out the organic coffee booth (really to check out what drinks they were selling, since I hadn't had any caffeine yet today). Now, I'm reading the little signs on sticks in the bins of loose beans (different stages of the roasting process), and this older guy with a bike and the world's least appropriate athletic shorts (like those terrible short shorts they used to make us wear in gym) comes up behind me and says, "excuse me." So I turn around and he asks me if I'm Stephanie. I'm not, so I tell him so. And because Kristin had told me earlier that there was this other woman there that looked just like me, I told him that too, and said he might be able to find her. Then, he asked me if I lived in Walnut Creek (which is where the farmer's market was). I say no, wondering why this interchange was not yet over. And then he proceeds to explain that he was behind this woman in line at Trader Joe's the other day and he thinks he ended up with her receipt in his bag (I'm assuming that her name must have been Stephanie, which must have been on the receipt, but he never actually said that). Now I think he's a little odd, after the story with basically no point... And he keeps talking. Where are you from? And you came all the way out here? Are you single? (Yes, he asked that. Then I knew the conversation had to end...why is it always the whack jobs that I seem to attract?) So, with no hesitation, I tell him I'm not single, and go back to perusing the coffee beans. And he doesn't stop asking me stupid pointless questions... Like when is the new going to open? (I don't know, actually...) And now, I'm turning back to the beans after each answer, trying to signal that I am done with the conversation. Finally, he says goodbye and leaves. Very bizarre!

Urgh...so why is it that only old guys (and I mean that this guy was in his mid to late 50s) and those with apparent mental delays (possibly this guy too...) approach me to show any interest? Life is so not fair.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Is it Friday Yet?

Yeah, I already know the answer to that one.

Luckily, the a/c was fixed early on this past Monday. Unfortunately, in no time at all I was back to freezing in my tiny little cell. I mean, cube. Also, on Monday morning my co-workers and I all received an email from the department dictator (aka the boss) stating that since she's going on vacation next week, all of our files that are due by the 20th need to be completed before the end of this week. That pretty much screwed all of us for the whole week. So, I've been working extra hours and stressing out. Again. But at least the week of the 20th should be somewhat smooth sailing. (Man, I hope I don't regret making that statement.)

And to top it off, I am planning on a weekend trip to Santa Cruz/Monterey with some co-workers. We're going to leave Friday night (the 20th, so maybe I can leave early, since the boss is on vacation...shh...don't tell) after work, and will be staying in a vacation rental for two nights in Santa Cruz. I'm hoping the weather improves by then...it's cool and muggy here lately. We're thinking of going whale watching in Monterey on Saturday too, which I've never done. I'll be sure to take my camera.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Well, I hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July. I continued my tradition of joining Kerri's family at their annual barbecue. And this year was a scorcher! It was 99 degrees in the shade outside...but a great day to go swimming. Which we did. We had 12 people in the pool, which appeared to have amused Kerri's brother in law. Kerri and I also taught her 7yr old niece and friend how to play Uno (Kerri and I had a bit of a tournament going on, in the shade, under the fan). Funny thing about Uno - it always makes me think of my Aunt Fran, because I seem to have memories of playing it with her in my grandmother's kitchen when I was younger.

After fireworks in the street (during which Kerri's brother in law tempted fate numerous times with the lighter and fuses) I headed back home, since I had to work on Thursday. Or so I thought. I got to work Thursday morning, on time for once, and noticed that it was warmer than normal once I moved from the hallway into my department's area. Then my co-workers started complaining of a funny smell. No, it wasn't me. And I hadn't noticed it until they started talking about it. Then I smelled it. Strong and acrid...and quite unpleasant. Everyone was wondering what was going on and if anyone had talked to facilities. Turns out that the air conditioning had blown a motor, and there was not only the smell, but smoke coming in through some of the overhead vents (apparently, one of the vents in the boss's office). So, I've been at work for maybe 10 minutes, and my boss comes down the side of the cubicle row with her purse telling everyone to come downstairs with her and get fresh air, until the problem is figured out. So, we all proceed downstairs and I head out back with some co-workers to sit on the patio. Minutes later, word comes around that the big boss (the one directly over my boss, who's office had the smoky vent) decided to let all of our department head home for the rest of the day, since there was no telling how long it would be for the problem to get fixed, and she wouldn't make us work with the smell (she's very scent sensitive).

So, I got Thursday off after all. Too bad I didn't know in advance! I didn't want to turn around and head home right away, since it's a 45 minute drive, so I got my oil changed, which I've been putting off. The funny thing about that is that there was a huge line at the oil changers, but when I go on my lunch break (like I normally do) there's never anyone else waiting. Even with the line, it only took 1/2 hour, and I still didn't want to go home yet, so I headed over to Starbucks and read my book while having some much needed caffeine. Later, I went to visit Christyn and the new baby (don't worry, I called first). He's so cute! Seems so small for being 9 pounds. (Of course, I didn't have to give birth to him...I'm sure he seemed plenty large to Christyn!) I swung by WW on my way home later, to find that I had gained a whole freakin' pound over the past week. I think it was those chips I couldn't stay away from at the BBQ. I'm sticking to it though (trying to at least).

Friday, the smell in the office was pretty much gone. The air conditioning was not working in my wing though. Everyone with those mini desk fans had them going on high. Maybe I'll stop complaining about cold it normally is in there...(nah, not going to happen).

Yesterday, I finally made the flight reservations for the annual family picnic in Buffalo (okay, the picnic itself is not in Buffalo, but that's where I fly into and stay with my Aunt). Tickets are expensive, and went up in the 10min it took me to consult my Aunt about my plans! But, I am going. I didn't make it out for the picnic last year, since I went out in June for my cousin's wedding.

Now, I'm hoping that the a/c at work is fixed tomorrow...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Weekend Inspiration and Babies!

Before heading off to Jodie's yesterday morning, Kristin and I met up in Walnut Creek at the farmer's market. It was bigger than I had expected, given it's location (though not as large as the one in Pleasanton, that I used to go to with Joie). Apparently it is peach/nectarine/apricot season, as almost every booth had one or more of those fruits. Anyone who knows me knows I don't care for fresh peaches...one bad experience as a child ruined it for me forever. Though I did taste a few nectarines.

Lucky for me, it's plum and pluot season. I love me some plums...didn't see too many pluots though. Anyway, I ended up buying a whole bunch of stuff, and actually ended up talking myself out of buying more. I didn't want to end up with a bunch of spoiled veggies/fruits rotting in my fridge...which wouldn't be unusual for me. I walked out with some yummy looking lettuce, a few delicious plums, 2 large portobello mushrooms (which I may have paid too much for, but I wanted them and didn't see them elsewhere), some excellent vine-ripened tomatoes (which is saying something - I haven't tasted such good tomatoes since we grew them ourselves in Buffalo - you just can't get a great tomato in a supermarket, can you?), and a large bunch of fresh basil.

The Portobellos inspired me to create a recipe for Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with a Balsamic Reduction. It was pretty good, if I do say so myself. Too bad I didn't snap a picture. I was too hungry. (I made it tonight and wrote up what I did into the recipe in that link.)

In other news - Christyn had her baby this morning, and called me pretty darn soon after giving birth. She had little Morgan around 9:30am today (and called me before 10:30am). She must have been tired. I don't know that she wants me sharing all the details with the world, so that's all I'll disclose right now. Welcome to the world little Morgan!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Goats


That's right.
Goats.
On the hills of Northern California.
Grazing along the freeway in order to control the fire hazard. No really. I'm not making this up. (And you can't tell in the photo there, but they are fenced in to that area.) Anyway, these cute little chompers were doing their thing on the side of the road (though one was up eating the tree leaves instead of the dry grass), and slowing down traffic by their mere presence. So, yeah...I had to take a picture.
Anyway, that was on the way back from Jodie's today. I finally made it out there to see the new baby (who is now 3 months old). Very cute. :)
And speaking of babies...I haven't heard from my friend Christyn (ans sometime commenter) all weekend, so I'm wondering if she had her baby yet. He was due last Tuesday, the 26th, but seems to be waiting to make a fashionable entrance.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fun w/ Fondant

I spent last weekend at my Mom's house to celebrate her birthday. Mom made her own birthday cake (from scratch - lemon with berry filling). She is practicing for my step-son's wedding, set for September, when she'll be making and decorating the cake. So I helped her with decorating ideas.

She likes the look of rolled fondant on a cake, but hadn't worked with it before (me neither). So, we gave it a shot. In the process, I managed to break the marble rolling pin that she's used for the past 10-15 years (I think she's had it that long)...I don't know if I used too much pressure or what, but I actually cracked the handle. There's me on the left (a highly unflattering shot of me, if I do say so myself...say hi to my 5 chins - they've come out of hiding!) pulling a MacGuyver and fixing the rolling pin with duct tape. It's a temporary fix... Some little slivers of splintered wood may have ended up in the fondant decorations. Good thing we'd already managed to cover the cake, and I was just rolling the rest out to play with decorating motifs.


Now, please realize that the below cake - our never really made it to finished product - is not how we would actually decorate a wedding cake, but was a platform for practicing. Like a very high calorie blank slate. All things considered, it's not so bad. Even though it looks like a veiled hat from the 40's.


Mom and I also made my great-grandmother's cream cheese mints, which Mom is thinking of making for the wedding as well. They turned out great, but I think I may need some helpful hints from my aunt. (Aunt Fran made a great batch at Christmas that she shipped out to Mom's.)


And, after the weekend food-fest, I am officially back on WW. According to my weekly tracker (I have the 3 month journal), the last time I tracked my meals was the end of March. Gee, wonder why I've been steadily gaining weight? Anyway, I'm back on track, and treating it like a new start. I'm even exercising...well, I'm walking at lunch again. A couple of my co-workers go for about a half-hour each day. Now that I'm "in" with the walkers (there are only 2...and one of them is leaving the company after next week), they said I'm staying in. That should help keep me on task. Wish me luck! (Again!) I only have 10lbs (give or take a lb) to go...though it was less a few months ago...The gain stops now!

***OMG - Can you believe I've had over 10,000 visits to this site?? Who'd have thought it?***