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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 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


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'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! 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'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 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


That's right.
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.