Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Friday, July 30, 2010

Saying Howdy Do to Sue

It was our quarter close today at work.  A day full of numbers.  Inputting numbers, calling for purchase order numbers, checking revenue numbers.  Going cross-eyed from the numbers.  The boss bought lunch for everyone today, which sounds really nice until you realize it's a thinly disguised ploy to keep you at your desk with the numbers.  Still, a red velvet cupcake did look very cheerful at 3:00.  But it was a long, lo-o-o-o-ng day.
Many of you may know Sue from the Sue's News, Views 'n Muse blog.  It's one of my favorite blogs, and the first one I go to every day.  You could say it starts my day out right.  She and her family have been here in Southern California all week vacationing in Newport Beach.  Right in my back yard.  We made tentative plans the first part of the week to have lunch one day.  I was so positive I could make it work.  But you know how things go.  The week gets more and more hectic (because as quarter closes go, the numbers get more manic every day), and that anticipated long lunch with your as-yet-unmet blogger buddy becomes more and more an elusive fantasy.
I tried not to sound really disappointed when I had to call Sue this morning to tell her there was no way I'd be able to leave work for 2-3 hours, today of all days.  It's just the way things worked out, but truly, I was SO DISAPPOINTED.  I had looked at the lunch as a kind of reward at the end of a long, hard week.  And now I couldn't have it.  I was bummed, and when I got home I was more than a little bit sulky.  My sweet husband said, "Let's just drive down there (I knew where they were staying), see if she's around, and then we can go get some dinner after your meeting."  Really?  It was so kind of him to indulge my little whimsy.  He knew how much I'd been looking forward to it, and I'm sure he was anxious for me to meet reality face to face and shut the heck up about Sue.
So off we hopped in the Explorer (Exploder) and set off for the beach.  It was a beautiful evening down there.  A bit foggy and overcast, but warm.  The perfect kind of evening to wander around.  Turns out Sue was not at the house.  Her daughter (who answered the knock of the crazy lady stranger at the sliding glass door) said she was at the Balboa Fun Zone with the rest of the family, so L and I meandered over there to present ourselves.
Honestly, it was like meeting a very dear, old friend.  She is so familiar and comfortable to be around, and her family is lovely.  We stood and talked for awhile about this and that, while L shot hoops with her menfolk.  It was a very nice slice of time.  I would have loved the long lunch and visit, but I'm glad I had the opportunity for this short meeting, and that she was kind enough to let us crash her family party for a bit.
Blogging is kind of like pen pals on steroids.  What a wonderful opportunity to get to know people from all over, from all walks of life, from every age group.  So many different talents, so much to learn from each one, and the tasty bits they add to my ordinary life are truly delectable.  The chance today to actually meet one of these friends (and yes, some of them I do consider "friends") was stellar.  She did not disappoint.  Thanks, Sue - maybe we'll have that lunch one day, yet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sarah + Johnny = Cash

My niece Sarah and husband John had their first baby yesterday - a little boy named Cash.  L and I went to visit tonight after work, and were surprised to see Sarah up and about and quite lively after her C-section yesterday.
Cash is a good little guy - as long as he's wrapped up like a little burrito he stayed quiet and mellow - and fast asleep.  Towards the end of the visit, he started to try to wake up.  It was fun to sit and hold a newborn for a little bit - you forget how they weigh nothing at all.  Sarah is excited and anxious to get home and start being a mommy.  John was so sweet holding him - there's nothing like a new daddy.  And Cash has a complete Daddy face - he and John are going to look very much alike.  Luckily, that's a good thing!
Anyway, for family members and anyone else who is interested, here's a very grainy picture of me holding Cash in the hospital room.  It was the sweetest thing I did all day.
Now - we need to get my other niece Emily going.  She is overdue and her poor belly is so big for her teensy little body.  I told her about drinking castor oil to get things going (that's what my daughter did her first time around... ewwww...) and it totally worked.  For some reason, she was less than enthusiastic about this suggestion.  I know I'd rather pull my eyelashes out than drink castor oil, but sometimes you reach a certain point of desperation and I was trying to help.  I'm a giver like that.

Congratulations to John and Sarah on their adorable little Cash.  He's a keeper - well done!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Grandma Is A Cat With 9 Lives

Grandma is still in the hospital after running a temp of 104 last night.  L and I went over there today to see her and meet up with my mom and dad.  I wasn't sure what I would find.  While showering and getting ready I gave myself a talking to, and told myself to quit praying that she make it through another crisis.  Maybe she wants to go, I told myself.  Maybe she is sick and tired of surviving for all of us.  So with a half heavy heart I rode with L to our little local hospital.  I was prepared for a lot, but I wasn't prepared for what I got: Grandma sitting up in bed, entertaining everyone with her sense of humor.  After a fever of 104 the night before??? The woman isn't mortal...  But this is what we've become accustomed to - these near crises that she always miraculously pulls through and survives.  She clearly has more work to do here.
When we arrived, she was in the middle of telling everyone how she'd terrorized the nurses the night before.  She'd awakened in the middle of the night not knowing quite where she was, or where my aunt (her caretaker) was.  I mean, she's 99.  So she demanded that they find my aunt.  She knew my aunt would never leave her alone, and where was she??  Apparently this went on for a little while, and finally one of the nurses told her that my aunt had gone home to get some rest.  My grandma started laughing and said that was pretty nervy of her.
This is my grandma shaking her finger while saying how nervy it was:

Well, she started laughing and laughing at how naughty she'd been.  (My daughter told me later that a high fever in the elderly sometimes causes them to act irrationally - ahhh...that explains it)  I noticed my aunt wasn't in the room, and I asked where she'd gone.  Grandma said she'd gone to the bank and was "messing around somewhere."  Anyone who knows my aunt knows that never messes around.  So I told her she was a mean old lady, and she started laughing so hard I was afraid she'd choke.  I haven't seen her in such good spirits in a long while.  Those IVs must be doing her a lot of good.  Especially since her body was experiencing a water shortage.  Now she's all giddy.
My aunt returned after messing around somewhere, and we all left to give them some peace and quiet.  My mom and I made her maiden voyage to Sephora.  The second we walked in there her jaw just dropped.  She'd never seen anything like it.  They were having a promotion for the Benefit brand.  A pretty girl gave us both makeup makeovers, and it turns out she is the niece of the founder of the company.  My mom looked wonderful.  I didn't like mine - but I never like how other people do my makeup.  Still, it was fun to try something new, and Mom had a good time looking around the absolute Fort Knox of the makeup world.  I think she ended up with an Urban Decay eyeliner pencil (although she couldn't wrap her head around the name "Urban Decay"), a Tarte gel blush, and an Urban Decay eyeshadow primer (she also has the oiliest eyelids, like me).  Oh - and a Benefit cream eyeshadow.
Before Sephora, we'd had lunch with Scott at Wolfgang Puck's.  It was so much fun - he always keeps us entertained.  We all shared a banana split.  That was the last thing I needed to eat, but it was really really good.
After shopping we picked up the boys (L and my dad) and went to dinner.  I know - I just made it sound like we ate lunch, and then ate dinner.  There was a fair amount of shopping and walking in between.  Just so you know.
We made our way home by 8:30.  I kept thinking I should stop by the hospital one more time, just to check on Grandma.  Plus, I'd brought her some Sees candy from the mall.  (She has a SERIOUS jones for chocolate)  I turned out the lights in her room and we sat there for about 20 minutes while she told me stories from her childhood.  She got to laughing about some story involving she and her cousin in an outhouse.  It was the kind of story that I think you had to be there, but she laughed so hard over it that I couldn't help laughing too.  This same cousin also taught her to shoot a BB gun and to shoot birds out of the sky.  I know - it's horrible.  She said she didn't think she could do it now (well, I hope NOT) but she was a little kid then.  She grew up in Mesa, AZ, born in August, 1911.  Living large meant you got to go downtown to JC Penney, or you had a dime to go to the movies.  Simple times.  Playing in the great outdoors with whatever you could find.  Dragging your bedding outside to sleep in the hot hot summers - the house would be too sweltering.
Soon it was time to go home.  Grandma needed her sleep, and it was time for the nurse to come in to get her settled in.  But for a few minutes it was so nice to sit in the dark room with her, holding her hand, stroking her arm the way she used to do to me when I was a kid, and listening to what life was like in the early 1900s.  Simple times, and a simple life.  Sweet dreams, Grandma.  I love you.  Be nice to the nurses tonight.

The armband she has on says it all - medical staff BEWARE. This woman means business!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grandma Learns the Value of Water

I sit all day long at my job.  8 hours of pretty much straight sitting.  Walk to the restroom or back to the kitchen, but other than that, it's sitting.  8 hours a day.  Today my coworker Olga and I decided to take ourselves to Target for an hour of walking around.  Retail therapy.
I love that store - they have everything you need from shampoo to Venus Embrace razor blades to dishes and bed linens.  Today I needed to replenish my stock of Excedrin (which, in my world is it's own food group), contact lens solution, and the makeup remover cloths I love so much.  Most things have their own counterpart in a generic Target brand, so I'm saving, saving, saving.
We continued walking around, and I found one of those sitting-up-in-bed pillows with the arms - you know, so you can read in bed without being all slumped over.  Kind of like a soft pillow-chair.  My grandma needs one of those so she can sit in bed or on her couch and watch TV or read in comfort, even if she falls asleep.  This would let her be supported, and - BIG BONUS - it was so so soft, and came in Barney purple - her favorite color.  I found some new workout pants and top, and a Target brand version of a Spanx camisole (compress and smooth out those lumpy fat rolls!)  Oh, and new Q-tips and Target brand Cetaphil face wash.  So. Much. Good. Stuff.
At home later, L and I had a quick dinner of tomato soup (my favorite!) and decided to drop the pillow off with Grandma, and walk the streets over that way.  We called but no answer.  My aunt finally called back and said Grandma was in the hospital!  WHAT?!?  Oddly enough, the other night when we were all at dinner, my Grandma said she didn't drink water very much.  Doesn't like it.  And today she had a raging bladder infection - so bad that she had a fever and couldn't keep anything down.  My poor aunt was with her at the hospital all day, and had just gotten home.  We dropped off the Barney pillow with her, and scooted her back in to get some sleep.  Then we headed over to the hospital.
Grandma was resting when I got there.  I said, "I know you don't like to drink water, but how are you enjoying your bladder infection?"  She laughed and said she would be good and drink her water from now on.  Cheeky girl.  Such a survivor at 99.  I don't know what we'll all do when she finally decides to move on.  We definitely won't laugh as much.  After all, she's the one, who, a few years ago, when asked where she wanted to go eat said      " How about Mother Fudrucker's?"  *Grandma! Watch your language... *  She's hilarious, and the first one to laugh at herself.  I'm so glad she survived this latest little setback.  Such a blessing. And tomorrow she can go home and prop herself up in bed with her new Barney-purple pillow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Heart My Blogging Peeps

L got me some new speakers for my Mac - I am ROCKING OUT.  I love them!  I only have time for a short post.  I need to be in to work early tomorrow.  And by early, I mean on time - like 8:30.  I usually come in about 9:00, but tomorrow Regional HR will be there, and my boss gets all fidgety and nervous if everyone isn't bright and shiny and corporate-like.  And ON TIME.  Whatever. *shaking head and rolling eyes*
So it's off to bed early for me, so I can be *on my game* tomorrow.  I can't wait to retire...from work, I mean.  I like to retire to my bed every night with that cute boy I live with, but right now I'm talking about work.  Retiring from work.  (Let's keep it straight)
What I really wanted to write about was the overwhelmingly kind response to my last (admittedly) whiney post.  For some reason that day I was having a tough time.  After a whiney episode passes I can rarely remember why I was feeling so bad, but at the time it's crystal clear, and my unworthiness flashes in neon for all to see.  And you all responded so kindly.  Not one of you told me to suck it up.  Not one of you told me to quit whining.  It was a testament to me of the basic kindness we all are willing to show each other - even if we are technically strangers.  The responses were a mixture of family and blogging buddies, and each one lifted my spirits so much, you can't even imagine.  I'm high on life, and feel like dancing - which you do NOT want to see.  Trust me.
So thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to cheer me up, to read my meandering thoughts, to make me feel that there really are people out there who think I'm fun, and...and who - gosh darn it -  LIKE me.  I really do appreciate you.  My blog is one of my happy places, and you've just made it even happier.

ps - Cute Jess in Utah cheered me up immensely with her suggestion that I look at this website:
6pm.com    (And Jess - I am thanking you now.  It's a very exciting website - SO. MANY. SHOES.)  But what was really great was that I was perusing the Kate Spade section and my boss walked in and caught me surfing the Web. Awesome.  He gave me THE LOOK.  That's the other reason I think I should be on time tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blah blah blah

Hot today.  HOT.  Woke up with a headache (as I usually do when I'm sleeping and I get hot.) The air ran all night long.  My throat got dry and sore from it.  I can't wait until it cools off and I can open the windows and sleep with fresh air.
At 7:30 or so I slipped downstairs and toasted an English muffin so I could down some Excedrin.  Came back up, propped my pillows up, and went back to sleep with my little rice pillow over my eyes.  (I LOVE that thing - especially when it's cool from the air conditioning.  Feels so good on tired eyes.) While the Excedrin was working it's magic, I thought about how I could decorate the little wooden sleighs I still have to paint - 6 of them!  I think I came up with a good idea or two, so I need to act soon before the creative mojo eludes me.  I remembered that it's Marion's birthday in a few days.  I thought about going to a craft store today to see what I could see.  Dozed off for another hour or so, then Contractor Lance called to say he wanted to bring over the vent cover for the bathroom.  Hmmm... time to get dressed, I guess.
Checked my blog.  2 people commented.  Discouraging. No one is finding my stylings that engrossing, apparently.  I'm not feeling the love - except from those two people.  I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself.  It's really hard to be interesting in every post.  It's hard to be interesting in most of the posts.
Let's face it: life, for the most part, is very routine.  For me it's pretty much get up, get ready/transform myself, go to work, come home, eat dinner, off to yoga, home to bed.  Yeah... fascinating stuff.  And in between, I struggle with what I eat, struggle with my weight, struggle with trying to keep this body that's gone crazy from going completely over the edge.  Struggle with belly fat, swollen ankles (this week) and aching feet/back/knees.  Menopause and rheumatoid arthritis are not my friends.  I struggle with having not enough time to fulfill my (self imposed) obligations to family members.  I struggle with wanting to initiate a girl's night out with ladies from the ward - whoever wants to - but feeling flakey about it at the same time.  I value my down time, and it's hard for me to share it - especially with a group.  Is anyone else like that?  Seriously, I need to improve in that area.  I'm a curmudgeon after work.
Back to my day: My mom called and needed me to help her do the french knots on a needlepoint she is trying to finish.  Showered and dried my hair.  Had to keep standing under the A/C vent to cool off.  I hate drying my hair when it's hot.  Ready to go - hopped in the Miata and headed down to Newport Beach and mom's.  Too hot to take the top down.  Turned on the A/C full blast.
When I got down to the Celestial Kingdom there was a cool breeze blowing and it was actually nice outside (as opposed to the hot blast from Hell further inland where I live.  I was glad I came.  I did Mom's french knots.  It's a good thing her eyesight isn't great, because my knots were a little wonky.  I brought her a Ludovice Enauldi CD (see previous post) to download on to her laptop and also onto her i-Pod.  I set her up with a nice classical music station on Pandora internet radio.  I showed her the Piperlime website for shoes - free shipping/free returns!  We spent a little time looking at shoes.  It was nice to visit with her, and we made plans to go shopping next Saturday.  I even went upstairs and tried to find some nice podcasts from BYU or the like to download on my dad's i-Pod.  I found a couple of things but I don't think he was happy with them.  He's a little picky, so I'll look some more at home.  He likes church things that are more intellectual, and I couldn't find anything that filled the bill.  Any ideas?
Hurried home, and L and I went to see "Inception" with Leonardo di Caprio.  REALLY GOOD.  Fantastic special effects, and the ending.... well... you decide.
So that was it.  Nothing funny, no good stories to tell today.  I didn't lose 5 pounds.  Just an ordinary day.  Except I got to sleep in a little bit.  That part was really nice.  And now I'm ready for bed, so the cycle is complete.  Maybe something interesting will happen tomorrow.  I heard it rained in Puerto Rico today.  Tropical rain.  Sounds heavenly.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tri-Tip Thursday

The whole country was sweltering today.  We here in the Southland went from cloudy and cool to 90+ within a couple of days.  Today, coming home from work, the sky had that funny light it gets when there's a thunderstorm somewhere.  It was sunny and bright, but just off to the east were dark clouds.  As I hit Santiago Canyon it started to rain.  Hard.  In full sun.  I do love a summer storm.  The air smells of damp earth and wet streets. Special bonus if there's thunder and lightening, although in Southern California we don't get that very much.  The air was thick and heavy (for So Cal) and rain was coming down in big drops.  I could see a huge rainbow over where the dark clouds were.  I can't describe the feeling that summer storms give me, but they take me right back to childhood.  I'm sure it's the scent in the air of the cooling rain hitting hot, dusty streets.  Nothing like it.  I want to sit on the porch, and just watch it come down, washing everything clean.
And the perfect soundtrack for that is a new discovery my son Scott told me about: Ludovico Einaudi.  I put off investigating because it was a 26 year old telling me about it.  But it's just the most beautiful music I've ever heard.  It's piano, but not in the usual sense.  This is a soundtrack for nature.  Seriously, go to i-Tunes and check him out.

 I personally purchased the Devinire and the I giorni CDs, but there are about 3 other ones to choose from as well.  I would be happy to own them all, but one must be reasonable, and not go crazy, although you'll want to.
This is music to create by, to chill out with, the soundtrack to a beautiful evening's romance. *waggling eyebrows*  Tell me that you don't agree.  And you're welcome.

My second tip of the day concerns shower gel/body wash.  I am an aficionado of bath and body products that smell incredible in a natural, not too sweet or cloying way.  I cannot use most Bath and Bodyworks products because they develop this sickeningly sweet scent on me that stays and stays, and gets nauseating. I don't notice it on other people so maybe its just me.  And I don't like scents like Angel Food Cake or Chocolate.  Ick.  There are some really good shower gels out there, but a lot of them are expensive: $20 and more.  I found a brand at Target that's amazing: Boots.  When I look at their logo, it's like they're trying to remind you of the much more expensive Kiehl's brand, but I've never seen Boots anywhere but Target.  They have a line of body washes and shower gels that are themed from different parts of the world.  For example, Pomegranate and Avocado from Hawaii, Mango and Babassu Seed Oil from the Amazon, Lemon, Orange and Grape Seed Oil from the Mediterranean.  Those are the three that I chose - for only around $6 each!!  They smell delicious but refreshing, and are not too sweet.  Best of all, when you rinse, the scent rinses too.  It doesn't linger all day, making you sick.  To me, they're the same quality as Origins or Korres at a fraction of the price.  They're satisfyingly foamy too.  Target is such a great source for products that are both great quality and  great value.  I heart Target.
Last tip:  L burned me the new Tom Petty CD.  It's great. You'll want it too, if you're an old (or young) rocker like me.  When I'm finished with my Ludovico, I will rock out to Tom.  He's one of my favorites.  It'll be a great to put it on as I drive to work, persuading me to feel alive and ready for the day.
So there you have it: my personal picks for today.  I didn't have any other creative thoughts to share with you- it was just the same old same old today -  so take these with my fond regards.  You know though - Ludovico is putting some romance in my soul.  I think I'll go see if I can pry L away from his computer for a little rendezvous. *waggling eyebrows*  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Everything from weddings to marshmallow creme with a large helping of Sephora

This weekend was full of going.  Friday night after work my niece Sheri had her reception.  It was held in a local park, and had lovely trees and a lake as a backdrop.  There was a duet playing backgroud music on flute and cello, and it was beautiful and romantic.  Here's the one shot I managed to get of Sheri and my grandma on my i-Phone:

Yesterday was my every-other-month trip to Sephora.  Oh my - how does so much good stuff wind up in one store?  I went in for a daytime moisturizer, and my favorite Korres body lotion  and came out with things I didn't even know existed.  Speaking to the finely aged ladies out there (oh heck, ANYONE would love this) : do you struggle with that dry crepey skin under your eyes?  You moisturize like a demon in the morning, and by about 3:00 it's all dried out again?  WELL - there's a product made my Boscia (a local So Cal company in Irvine) that makes a product intimidatingly called "Enlivening Amino-AG Eye Treatment" that solves that little problem handily.  And it doesn't cost a fortune - like under $50.  You use a very small amount so it should last a couple of months.  It's amazing - I woke up this morning with dewy under-eye skin.  How did I find this goodness?  I had the good luck to be helped by Sal - the lone guy at the Brea Sephora store who just happened to know  everything about skin care -  from ingredients, to what they do, to what brands give you the most bang for your buck.  For 20 minutes or so he was my new best friend.
I wanted a new eyeliner.  (All of my pencils are stubs.)  I always go for brown.  Maybe black at night, but usually brown.  Sal said "No, no" and showed me one by Urban Decay in aubergine - the loveliest deep eggplant-y color.  He said it gives the drama of black with the softness of brown.  He was so right.  AND - this particular brand goes on with no pulling.  No need to wait for it to warm up and soften.  It just glides.  But once it's on for a few seconds it's set - it doesn't come off or melt all over the place. (I have the oiliest eyelids ever, so this is important stuff.)  Lately I've been seeing a lot of makeup ads using aqua on the eyes.  I wanted to try it in a small way and Sal showed me an Urban Decay liner pencil in aqua.  He showed me how to put it on without looking garish or like I was trying to look half my age.  Spot on.  I put it on later to go out to dinner and it looked amazing.
He gave me a generous spray on sample of Narciso Rodriguez For Her perfume. 

 I'm saving my pennies for that one.  (I think it was around $80)  I have perfume to go through still, but this one - OH MY.  It's floral and very pretty, and yet there's something deeper about it so it doesn't disappear in 10 minutes, never to return, like a lot of florals.  And like all good perfumes, you only need a little bit.  The perfume I did come away with is my go-to: Tom Ford Black Orchid.  I like a lot of different perfumes, but what makes me buy it over and over is when other people notice it and give compliments.  This particular one started out with our FedEx guy at working asking me what it was.  He went out and bought it for his wife.  Wow.  I was like, the love doctor.  It's a bit strong at first, so you can only use the tiniest bit.  I found out the hard way that it sets off L's allergies, so I have to spray it on a good 15-20 minutes before being in a closed car with him.  The first time I used it, he had to almost hang his head out of the window on the way to church. That was embarrassing and upsetting all at the same time.  Powerful stuff, but so darkly amazing once it settles down a bit.
So that was my little foray into Sephora.  I want to hug the whole store whenever I go there. I love makeup and skincare, and lotions, and shower gels that smell good.  Prominent in any emergency kit I've ever put togther are lip balms, lotion, moisturizer - all of the things that make you feel human.  I get samples all the time - that's where I put them.  An apocalypse is bad enough.  But cracked lips and dry skin in addition?  Unthinkable.  And, I've packed enough for you, too!  I will share the bounty if disaster strikes when I'm with you.  I know, I know - it's a shallow thing.  Apocalypses mean true disaster, and body balm will be low on the list.  But for now, it gives me comfort and peace that along with food, water, and medical supplies, I've also got some eye cream.  How does it go? - If ye are prepared, ye need not fear?  I'm sure I've paraphrased, but that's the basic idea.  I don't want to be the girl crawling through rubble thinking to myself "Dang - if only I'd put in some sunscreen and a nail file."  Because you know I'll have them.  Right next to the Rosebud Salve (good for scrapes, insect bites, chapped skin AND over the eye cream at night.)
I exited the mall through Macy's and - holy crap - they were having a SHOE SALE!  I remembered in the nick of time that I had an unused Macy's gift card, and awhile later I exited with the cutest pair of Coach wedges that were on sale.  I can't really wear heels anymore, due to a fat ankle that is the result of joint-ritis.  I mean, I can get them on, but then I can't walk without limping, so what's the point?  But I CAN wear wedges that aren't on a big slant.  And cute ones are kind of hard to find, so I was happy when they caught my eye, winked,  and called out "HELLOOO!"  Combine the sale with the gift card, and they were FREE!  It was a good afternoon, my friends.
When I got home we got ready to go out to dinner with our friends Lance and Mel (that's Contractor Lance to you).  We were celebrating the bathroom FINALLY being done.  One more picture, in case you missed it in an earlier post - but now the mirror is up!

They took us to their favorite Chinese restaurant in Los Alamitos.   Have you ever found the best little gem of a restaurant in the most random of places?  I mean, you know you're going to have good food at the beach or in San Francisco, or even at Olive Garden.  But this place was in an ugly little strip mall in Los Alamitos.  

And it was SO GOOD.  We had Walnut Shrimp, Orange Chicken, and a Chicken Vegetable dish.  The shrimp was the best - all buttery and creamy with these candies walnuts on the side.  YUM.  But that was not the best part of the night.  Afterwards, Lance and Mel decided to show us their OTHER favorite restaurant for dessert.  It's called Park Place and its kind of a dark little loungey kind of restaurant modeled after those types of places in the 60's.  They make all of their own ice cream.  I almost don't have to go on after that.  I ordered a chocolate parfait.  Chocolate ice cream layered with marshmallow (marshmallows that had been torched until melted so some of it was the creme, but then you'd come to some that was crunchy with that toasted taste.  HEAVEN) and these little crunchy bits of chocolate cookie.  It took all of my willpower to not completely lick the glass clean.  It's Sunday so I won't go back today.  But I want to go back tomorrow.  I'm not a real dessert-y person, but that was the BEST dessert I've had in I don't know how long.  Maybe EVER.
As I said, its Sunday.  So far a peaceful one (as it should be).  My only wish for today (other than clean sheets on the bed) is for a sunset stroll with the Mister down at the beach.  Next weekend, though, I'd like to have a bonfire and have dinner and s'mores with the waves in the background.  Salt air making our hair all wild and crazy, and bonfire smoke permeating everything.  I have a new s'more maker (a kind of wire basket with 3 separate compartments where you assemble the entire s'more and then toast 3 completely assembled s'mores at once over the fire) that I'm dying to use.  Anyone want to join us?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rock & Roll in the Southland

I'd like to lose about 30 pounds.  (I'd settle for 5 right now.)  But I also really really want to eat some BBQ Kettle Chips.  *scratching head*  It's a daily dilemma...  that's why I'm up here in my office, hiding from the food.   Why is it so hard to lose weight when you get old and crusty and menopause-ish?  Why do I love food so much?  Why do I keep thinking about strawberry shortcake?  {STOP IT!}
We had an earthquake today.  5.4!  I was sitting in my little cubicle at work, and it started shaking and swaying.  It lasted about 30 seconds.   A long 30 seconds of rocking and swaying from a 2nd floor in Mission Viejo.  Then it was time to go home.  Ended the day with a little jolt
That's all that happened today.  An earthquake.  And I'm hungry and BBQ chips sounded really good.  Oh - and yoga with Ashley.  Thank goodness for yoga.  And thank goodness that Ashley likes to go, too.  It makes me more accountable.  Less likely to weasel out of it and sit in bed eating marshmallows or pouring chocolate chips in my mouth.  And I keep thinking that one of these days it's not going to be a little earthquake.  It'll be a big one.  And I'll need to move or run.  Fast.  Hence, the attempt at physical fitness at the yoga studio. Plus, towards the end of class, we have about a 5 minute period where we turn the lights low, and we have a little rest on a blanket.  It's heaven.  There've been a couple of times I've almost almost snored.  I've caught myself just in the nick of time, congratulating myself on a good save.
Still thinking about strawberry shortcake.  Sugar is the devil.  I'm going to go wash up and crawl into bed.  If I go downstairs I'll give in to the evil goodness of every sweet thing I can find.  I'll be glad in the morning that I didn't give in to the devil.  But right now, I've got a serious sugar Jones.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Unveiled: The BATHROOM Plus: Sparklers & Smoke Bombs & Kids

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend with family and friends.  Unfortunately, Katie and the girls had already gone back to Puerto Rico, but we still had Rex and Ronna with their kids, Scott and Ashley, and Andrew was also here for the weekend.
L and I spent Saturday morning and afternoon just getting chores done.  We also took a trip down to South Coast Plaza to shop for towels and accessories for his NEW BATHROOM!

Where the tile pattern stops above the vanity? That's where the mirror will go... when it's done.

Yes, my friends, it's now an almost completely functioning bathroom.  The only things missing are a mirror (which L has currently under construction.  It will be black like the cabinet and have the same moldings to match) AND you may have noticed there is no toilet seat.  That is in the mail and should arrive shortly.  When it does I'll be able to use the bathroom too, although our contractor said that in Brazil (where he served his mission) there are no toilet seats - everyone just balances and it saves money.  I think he should tell that to his wife and see how she takes it.  I'll go out on a limb and use my savings to buy a toilet seat, thank you.
Anyway, what do you think???  I know - you want to take a shower in it right now, don't you? Come visit me and you can!  It's so pretty I want to spend most of my time in there.  So, I just walk by it a lot and turn the light on and off (it's on a clever little auto-dimmer switch.  So cool.  I'm not sure what's next: the master bath?  New flooring upstairs? New patio and cover?  Or perhaps my OFFICE??  (Oooohh THAT would be nice...)  I have a feeling, however, that L isn't in the mood to talk about what's next, yet.  He needs to recover from this one first.

Back to the weekend.  I wanted to BBQ on the 4th, so we also made a whirlwind trip to Home Depot and bought a BBQ.  I could tell that L didn't really want to, but I gave him The Look, and he got on board.  I love to BBQ - L not so much, but I think it's because he hasn't done it all that often.  Before we were married, I BBQd all the time.  It's what you do in the summer, right?  (And in the winter, spring, and fall, if I had my way.)
On Saturday night, L and Andrew went to the Angel game, and I met Ashley after she got off work.  We went to see the movie "Grownups."  Apparently, most of the funny parts are in the promos... It was funny, but not as funny as I'd hoped it would be.  But it WAS nice to spend an evening with Ashley.  We had such a good time.

Sunday came around with perfect weather.  We went to church in the morning, and spent the afternoon getting the house and the food ready.  Rex called and said they'd just meet us at the park.  Hmmmm... I never know what Rex is going to end up doing, so I'd only half planned on him for dinner anyway.  We're still good.  Then I called Scott and asked him what time he was coming.  He said "I told you we weren't coming."  Say what??  I'd talked to Ashley about coming just the night before.  I was about ready to cry.  I had a BRAND NEW BBQ sitting on my patio and lots of food ready to go.  Turns out my 2 boys were a little mad at each other over something and so they were cancelling.  Oh no no no - it didn't take much coaxing to get Scott to come.  A few minutes later, Rex called, said they were on their way, and did we have enough food for everyone after all?  *smacking forehead*  {HUGE SIGH}  Yes, we would figure it out.  (See what I mean??  Craziness... Is it just my family, or is this how grown children can get?  Where's the Love At Home??)  We just threw more hamburgers on the grill, along with some chicken strips.  Voila.  Dinner for a crowd - just the way I like it!
Everyone arrived about 7:30.  We got everyone full on hamburgers, chicken, corn on the cob and juicy red cherries by 8:30, and got a very late start over the to park for the fireworks show.  Parking is dicey even if you get there much earlier.  By 8:30 we really had to park way up on the avenues and walk fast.  Right when we got to the corner where we cross to go into the park, the lights went off and the show began.  As luck would have it, we had a perfect spot to set up chairs and blankets, and plunk down to watch fireworks.  Matthew and Lexi loved it, and me - I NEVER get tired of watching fireworks on the 4th of July.  It's always magical and awe inspiring.
After the show we hurriedly packed up, got back to the cars, and went home for strawberry-blueberry shortcake (it was red, white, and blue!)  After dessert, Grandpa L had another treat for the kids: sparklers and other little fireworks like smoke bombs with bright colored smoke, snakes, and tiny fountains.

 Lexi and Matthew had the time of their lives waving sparklers around.  Lexi took it all pretty seriously, but Matthew giggled the entire time.  I loved it.

Finally: the finale.  L bought these little things called "eyeballs." When you lit them, they would spin around and shoot out sparks - kind of a mini version of those flowers or pinwheels we had as kids.  When the last one appeared to stall, L poked it with the lighter.  It EXPLODED with a loud CRACK, and we all jumped out of our skins.  Lexi started to cry a little bit and wanted to go into the house.  It really didn't come close to causing any damage - we just weren't prepared for the loud noise.  A quick game of Memory calmed her down while Matthew played with some little cars.  Too soon it was time to go and they flew home to Denver this morning.
As we were settling down and getting ready for bed, L commented about how much fun it was to have everyone over for dinner and fireworks.   And I had to smile to myself.  He will always be quiet and reserved, but last night I saw a new side of him that I quite liked, and made me love him even more than I do already.  He was a Firework Lighter, a procurer of many sparklers, the man with the smoke bombs.  He was Grandpa.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A project's end... for now

Did I tell you?  No, no... I don't think I did.  I finished that dresser drawer for Katie and off the whole thing went last week to Arizona.  So here's the last drawer I was working on:

I don't know whether you can see or not, but around the edge of the drawer I started with blue sky and clouds, and then as I got to the lower and bottom edge, it became a night sky and stars.  I thought of that literally the morning of the evening it was going to be picked up and transported.  I had to work fast to get the design laid on and have enough time to get 3 coats of varnish on and dried.  I think I like how it turned out.  A special little drawer for Hayden and Mia.  
Here are the other drawers that were previously done:

1. Chamomile for strength in adversity
2. Sunflower (Katie's favorite flower at one point) for cheerfulness
3. Pansies for loving thoughts
4. Hibiscus for Katie's aloha to Hawaii and for beauty
5. Roses for strength and beauty

Aaaand... here is the top:

A shot of the whole thing:

You may notice that the sides are still not painted.  I'm not sure why I haven't gotten those done yet.  After all, it's been about 14 years since I started this thing.  Maybe it's so I don't feel like the mother/child thing with my daughter is over.  So I have an excuse to go add a little bit more - kind of illustrating the memories in our heads.  I have a loose design in mind for one end of the dresser: a kind of pirate's map set on an aqua background (for the ocean) showing all of the places Katie - and her family - have gone.  We'll start in California, sail to Hawaii, back to California, short detour to Costa Rica, a longer stay in Puerto Rico, to Arizona, and then...???  You know - have those little dotted lines leading all over the place.  
The other end of it?  I have no clue.  Inspiration usually strikes me in the 11th hour, so that end may have to be up against the wall for awhile longer.

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