Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Musings: Part Two

I have a cold. 

I'm taking cold medicine. 

Cold medicine makes me looney. 

I apologize in advance. 

Ready, set, go. 

Everyday last week and continuing on into this week, I've been boiling a few sticks of cinnamon in some water on my stove.  My friend Momma Bug told me that her aunt used to boil cinnamon sticks in water with a few drops of oil to "kill the bugs" in her house.  I said, "Screw the bugs, it smells amazing." 

So I went to the grocery story and cinnamon sticks were ridiculously expensive.  A small jar with 4-5 sticks was $6. 

So then I went to my local ethnic grocery store and got a whole bag of cinnamon sticks (about 25) for less than $3.  My grocery store happens to be middle eastern, but I'm sure you could find the same great deal at a hispanic grocery store too. 

So throw some water in a pot, throw 2-3 cinnamon sticks in, a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil, and turn the heat on really low.  Don't forget to turn the heat off before you leave the house. 

By the way, the same pot and the same 2-3 sticks last me a few days.  I just put the lid on when I turn off the heat.  Add more water when you need it.  Keep your house warm and smelling very holiday! 

Thank you Momma Bug. 

I've noticed something that bugs me: the Philippines are spelled with a "Ph-" but the people from the Philippines are Filipino with an "F-".  I'm baffled.  It turns my world upside down.  I cannot understand.  Shouldn't the country be the Filippines?  Or the people be Philipino?  Oh jeez.  My brain hurts. 

The Pioneer Woman's book comes out February 1st.  Don't believe me?  Click here.  I'm so excited.  I cannot wait to put on my favorite pair of holey yoga pants and curl up with some country cooking to read it. 

Our tree has been up since November 20th.  Yes, that's early.  In my defense it's because Big Mike was leaving for Thanksgiving.  I had to get him to help me before he left.  In reality, I just wanted it to feel like Christmas.  Pictures to follow.   

I order our holiday cards last night.  40 cards.  40 envleopes.  That means we've got to play the "Top 40 Friends & Family" game soon, and I'm hoping Big Mike lets me have a few more than 20 cards...I'm selfish that way. 

I went to see "HP7" last week with my daddy.  It was hard.  I knew they had to cut it into two parts.  I prepared myself for this happening.  Then it happened and I was still upset.  Ah nuts.  I was crying at the time, Dobby died.  I cannot believe Dobby died.  And he said that he was glad he was with his friends.  Yup, that did me in.  Waterworks. 

I absolutely, totally, one-hundred percent, cannot stand it when women wear heels, boots, or wedges and then proceed to CLOMP around in them like some miniature pony.  It bugs me in the store.  It bugs me in the office.  It bugs me everywhere.  If you cannot walk politely in your shoes, then you shouldn't wear those shoes. 

Reckless Kelly is coming to Los Angeles.  December 7th at the Mint.  I'm there.  Along with my two favorite Reckless Kelly fans, Shelly and Amanda.  Love.  This.  Dive.  Bar.  Band.  Thank you Shelly for introducing me to them! 

I've come to the realization that because we live in sunny southern California, there are only 2 ways to identify that the holidays have arrived:

First, KOST 103.5 begins playing holiday music.

Next, red cups arrive at your local Starbucks. 

Without snow falling or trees dying, us So-Cal people have no idea what's going on. 

That's it for me. 

I promise I'll get back to posting photography, recipes, and Maddie stories soon.  But for now I'm going to pop a few more cold pills and get back to feeling like a train rain over a pile of poop and that pile of poop is me. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mike is home! Mike is home!

Alright, Big Mike went to visit his family this week.  I'm proud to annouce that he's home.  Safe.  Eating Del Taco in the living room. 

I know all is right in the world when I hear him and Maddie smackin' on some chicken soft tacos. 

The first thing I did when I saw him? 

I made him listen to this...

Click here. Cuteness abounds!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I have to share this...follow this blog!

I started reading this blog because of my sorority sister's blog.  She shared it with me.  I've shared it with you. 

I'm sharing it again because it's too darn funny not to. 

Click Here. 

It's about moving. 

I did that this year. 

It's about dogs. 

I got a new dog this year. 

It's about going crazy. 

I do that every day. 

So thank you Ms. Hyperbole and a Half.  I salute you! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've been in "random" mode all week.  My company has some important visiors so I've been on edge every day.  So on my way to and from work, my brain has started kicking in to some really odd walls lately. 

Did you know that Taylor Swift was the opening act for the Jonas Brothers a few years ago?  Well she was.  Now I want to call up those Jo Bros and say "So what does it feel like to be totally and utterly eclipsed by a former opening act and ex girlfriend?" 

Yah, I'm not a nice person. 

Yo Gabba Gabba is coming live to the Nokia theater.  I saw the commercial.  It looks like a rave for little people. 

Really little people jumping around with colorful lights zooming all over them?  Yah.  That's a rave. 

OK Go's treadmill dance still makes me chuckle.  Go to You Tube and look it up. 

Many cities and counties accross the country are banning plastic bags in supermarkets because of their ramifications to the ecosystem and dumps.  What about banning paper or styrofoam cups at coffee shops?  How about take out containers at restaurants?  I'm just laughing to myself because eventually I'll need to pack my thermal mug, tupperware, and re-usable grocery bags with me when I leave my house.  I'm going to need a suitcase for all of this crap! 

Ree Drummond challenged Bobby Flay to a Thanksgiving Throwdown yesterday.  Bobby Flay didn't make mashed potatoes.  Bobby Flay lost.  I hope he got the hint.  Potatoes are pivotal. 

If you'll excuse me, I have to go dye my hair red, buy a farm in Oklahoma, and get Big Mike a few pairs of Wrangler jeans. 

Brett Favre is the spokesperson for Wrangler, right?  Nevermind.  No Wranglers.  I am mad at Mr. Favre. 

I was at Michael's last night and I was looking at Christmas decorations.  I must have picked some things up because when I got to the check out stand a woman said, "My aren't you pretty and sparkly!" 

I smiled and gave a polite laugh before I left the store.  When I got to my car, I looked in my mirror and found that I had that stupid, really fine, impossible to remove glitter all over my face.  I looked like a woodland fairy.  Well, I wish I had looked that good.  I looked like a really tired and slightly angry woodland fairy. 

I hate fine glitter.  It's static charged or something so it can stick to anything it touches. 

The Target sale starts at 4 o'clock in the morning on Black Friday.  I feel horrible for all of the Target employees.  Just horrible.  I hope they get free coffee or barbituates if they work that shift. 

That is all.  I hope you enjoyed my blah, blah, blah! 

Think happy! 


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Take A Picture: The Best Munchie EVER!!!

I'm going to share the whole story later on, but for now I'll tell you that Big Mike and I went to the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo this past weekend.  It was a great time, a great weekend, but for now I need to tell you about what I ate. 

It was nutritionally shameful. 

It was a frightful color. 

It was stuffed full of sodium. 

But it was delicous. 

Can you see that?  Do you know what that is?  Can you smell that deliciousness? 

Here's another shot, just so we're clear. 

That is a small bag of flaming hot Cheetos (yum) opened up with a big dollop of nacho cheese on top.  They serve it with a spoon and a smile for only $1 at the rodeo. 

I cannot confirm or deny how many I ate. 

Carry on,


Monday, November 15, 2010

My dog's got CLASS!!!

Well this weekend, Maddie & her friends completed their intermediate level class.  In case you missed her first graduation, I blogged about it here

This class was a bit different than the first.  The first class was very structured.  In order to learn "down" you had to first learn "sit."  In order to learn "stay" you had to first learn "down."  And so on, and so forth. 

In her intermediate class, the instructor was able to work more closely with each dog's "issues" and believe me, they all had "issues."  Maddie's problem is socialization.  She's a social butterfly, except she's not exactly sure what to do in order to be social.  She wants to play with dogs, but she doesn't know how.  She wants to love on people, but she ends up romping around on them. 

So throughout the 8 weeks, Maddie was challenged in class and at home with socialization.  She learned how to play, how to react to other dogs, when it's okay to play and when it's not, and many other things. 

However, better than socialization, I think all of the dogs learned patience.  To prove it, I have to show you this.  Each of the dogs sat patiently with their trainer, Auntie Nicole, and the parents were able to take their photograph.  I'm not talking about one-on-one photos (that's too easy) I'm talking about each pup in a line to get their photo taken...

From left to right, Maddie, Milan, Auntie Nicole, Dozer, Brady, and Harvey. 

I think Maddie's going to take some time off of school for a few months and see what her retention is like, but overall she's a great little pup!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Financial Friday

I know, I know.  I promised we'd be talking about my time management skills this week.  But something else has been tugging on my heart.  Actually it's tugging on my wallet. 

The truth is that most of us are in some sort of a financial crisis.  Or, if we are not in a crisis we are making some severe budget cuts in order to obtain the things that we find important in our lives (weddings, our first homes, etc.).  Please don't misunderstand me, this isn't a rant.  This isn't a finger-pointing blog.  This is an entry all about me trying to return to what is important. 

My mind gets away from me sometimes and all of a sudden I find myself looking at $200 boots here.  Other days I'm sitting on my iTunes account, and I talk myself out of a $10-$12 purchase for new music.  Most days, I am simply talking myself out of buying lunch or stopping at Starbucks for a latte. 

You see, about a year ago I placed myself on a pretty strict budget.  Sometimes it's too strict and I have a wee bit of a breakdown.  Other times, I do just fine and I can move around within my budget. 

So then, this week my car's battery light comes on.  I immediately called my mom.  She immediately told me that my dad will help me with this later.  We are not car women.  We have never pretended to be.  I can't blame her for deflecting to my dad. 

Well I decided that I needed to put on my big girl panties and pull them up high.  No more crying to daddy when my car is broken.  I am a college educated woman.  I am independent.  I'm no slouch. 

Then I called the dealership.  $99.50 for diagnostics. 



That's when my pride went out the door and I called Big Mike. 

I explained to him that the light was on but the car was still starting and running perfectly fine.  I was just going to drive around forever and ever with this light on.  That was my decision.  The end. 

I'm pretty sure my hypothetical hands were on my hypothetical hips. 

"Yah, except if it's your alternator.  Then you're going to be driving one day and your car is just going to stop running.

Well I hadn't thougt about that. 

So then I sucked it up and drove to my local Auto Zone.  Just a tip, Auto Zone performs a free diagnostic battery and alternator test.  It was quick.  It was free.  My battery was fine.  My alternator was not. 

The guy at Auto Zone asked me, "So do you want to go in and see if we have one?" and as I obliged I asked how long the installation would take. 

They don't do that there. 

So it was back to the Ford service place I went.  To flush more money down the drain.  New tires in spring.  New brakes in summer.  New alternator in fall.  I hope I get winter off...

I know I'm not the only one that is constantly worried about money, I read about it on Airing My Dirty Laundry's blog and even more specifically about driving around in an older car because it's paid for on Hiking the Stacks blog. 

So as I'm hitting my cash reserves pretty hard to pay for this nearly $500 expense, I ask you all:

What do you do to save for a rainy day?

  • Is it a savings account? 
  • Is it a jar under your bed? 
  • Is it something else that I need to know about? 

I consider myself a financially savvy woman, I have a retirement account, savings accounts, savings bonds, etc.  But for some reason I still come to tears when I have to part with this much money (especially this close to Christmas). 

I kindly explained to my parents that I'm accepting donations. 

I pray they will be generous enough to oblige...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time Management Week: Day 2

Something I've been using a lot lately in my kitchen: my freezer. 

Yah, you read that correctly, I said my freezer. 

Before you think I'm making Big Mike eat ice-sicles for dinner, hear me out. 

When I make lasagna, I make 2.  I brown the meat.  I mix the ricotta.  I layer two dishes full of delicious goodness. 

Then, I cook one, then I cover the other one in tinfoil and I stuff it into the freezer. 

A few weeks later, I take it out of the freezer and shove it into the refrigerator for a day or two.  When I'm leaving work, I call home and tell Big Mike to take it out of the fridge, leave the foil on, and shove it into the oven. 

When I get home, dinner is cooked!  I just slide it out of the oven and it's ready to eat.  (Remember, my commute is usually 45 minutes to an hour.  That's perfect cooking time!)

Other things that I've frozen include enchiladas, pot roast, and breakfast sandwiches.

The trick with enchiladas and lasagna is to assemble everything, but not to cook it. 

Pot roast is obviously cooked, then frozen. 

Breakfast sandwiches get an english muffin, scrambled egg, slice of ham or pre-cooked bacon, and a slice of cheese.  I throw them in a plastic baggie and toss them into the freezer.  Then, each morning I can take one out and wrap it in a paper towel.  I can microwave it for about one minute (depends on your microwave) at 70% power and viola! I have a fast and easy breakfast.  You're paying upwards of $2-$3 for breakfast sandwiches at Subway, Jack in the Box, Carls Jr, and McDonalds.  Why not save some money and make it yourself? 

So there you have it, my meal time fix.  You know what I freeze, now I want to know what you freeze!  Meatballs?  Muffins?  Entire meals?  I'd love to know so I can try it out too!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Take a Picture Tuesday: Miss Malina

I've just got to throw this out there: as much as I tell people that I didn't enjoy my high school experience (because I didn't), I want every one to know that I met some really amazing people along the way.  I think it goes without saying that the teachers, cheerleaders, cheer moms, coaches, classmates, and their parents all had a profound impact on my life at the time and I find it so wonderful that I get a note, an email, a phone call, or a message from people that I haven't had the pleasure of seeing in years. 

You're probably thinking "huh?" and so I'll explain.  I got a not from a friend of mine's mother through my blog a few weeks ago.  She informed me that her family had a new addition and wanted to know if I'd like to photograph her.  Without hesitation I jumped at the opportunity, which for so many people may seem odd but for me it just seemed right. 

Boy, was it right. 

Through this amazing woman, I was able to meet an adorable little baby named Malina as well as her loving (and creative!) family.  Her mother, father, and Godmother were all at the shoot and I had such an amazing time capturing their moments. 

They've recieved their pictures already, so I feel good in showing you all a few shots of this adorable little girl and all of the people that love her. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Time Management Week: Day 1

Alright, last week I told you I was going to work on maximizing what I got out of each hour of every single day.  It's a little test for me, and I am inviting you all on my journey. 

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, check out my rant here

I'm not focusing on a 7 day plan because I don't believe in micro managing myself or others.  Weekends are supposed to be fun and if I'm trying to cram a bunch of stuff into them, well I just don't like it.  So here's how this is going to go.  Each day I'm going to pick something that I have to do.  Then, I'm going to try to optimize it or improve it somehow. 

First step: Commute. 

When I first started working for my company, I was living with my parents and saving up money to buy a house.  The lab was 4 miles from their house and it took me about 8 minutes to get to work.  If I was going to be at work at 8 o'clock, I left 10 minutes before that.  Now, since I've bought my house and my commute is closer to 25 miles, I've had to do a little adjusting. 

I don't mind my drive to work, but I need to improve it.  My father commuted from Los Angeles county to Orange county for many, many years.  I've taken a page out of his book and I'm going to optimize my drive.  I'm not going to make it any shorter or change my route.  I've already found my best route and I leave at the perfect time to dodge most of the traffic.  By leaving after most kids have been dropped off at school, I can hop on the freeway and scoot accross several towns in about 45 minutes.  It's not great, but it's not bad. 

So now you want to know what I am going to do? 

Well I hate the radio.  Ryan Seacrest bugs me.  Literally bugs me.  Bugs me means: Creepy crawly feelings. 

I have an iPod and I usually crank it up and dance down the road to my favorite "up 'n at 'em" tunes. 

But now, since I need to do this anyway, I've stacked myself up with several books on CD. 

That's right, I'm going to read a book on my way to work. 

Uhm, I mean have a book read to me on the way to work. 

It's great!  Many moons ago, I started reading the Harry Potter books by buying them from iTunes and listening to them on my iPod.  I don't know why, but I stopped doing this.  I forgot how much joy it brought me. 

So now I'm reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and I've already got Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows lined up and ready to go.  I borrowed the CD's from my father (he's got quite the CD library) but if I couldn't have borrowed them from him, I was going to stop by my local library. 

In Rancho Cucamonga, I've found that we can check out books on CD for $1.  The duration is 2 weeks and it seems to be just the right amount of time for me to make it through a book.  It's how I read Eat, Pray, Love as well as several other books. 

This means that when I arrive at work, my mind has been fully awake and I haven't been so sleepy or groggy.  It also means that when I come home from work, I'm not worrying about finishing up the cleaning or the cooking so that I can sneak in  a few minutes of reading before bed time.  I've satisfied my literary craving for the day already! 


What do you do to make your commute easier to swallow? 

Drive happy! 


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's "F you" Friday

I start off every week in a chipper and optimistic mood.  I arrive at 9 o'clock (sometimes earlier) to my laboratory and I'm refreshed.  I sort of flitter about the lab or office and pick up tasks where they were left off on Friday afternoon and I go about my business. 

Inevitably over the past several weeks, I'm blindsided or smacked in the face by something or someone that foils my good mood and momentum.  Sometimes it's a computer program that faults or gives an error.  Other days it's an unfinished report that gets pushed back onto my desk for one reason or another.  A lot of unexpected meetings have been popping up lately and throwing a monkey wrench in my plans.  Most of the time, it's when I find a problem with one of our reports. 

Usually, the problem is a minor one.  However, because people are either (a) too lazy or (b) not properly trained, this problem has trickled down the chain until it lands in the laps of myself and my amazing coworker.  I have to say this right now to let you know that I do appreciate the 2 men that I work with: my coworker and fellow analyst as well as my supervisor and part time therapist.  Both of these guys are stand up fellows, and I'd be happy to work alongside them for many years to come. 

But this has really pushed my buttons and started forcing me to think about my life and how I prioritize it.  Forgive me but I'm a very analytical person and I need numbers to begin to quantify things.  A few days ago, in a rant to one of my dear friends, Rose, I wrote this.  It's sort of a running diatribe written about my own life and my own problem with time management. 

I've since improved it.  I've created a pie chart.  I've thought about it.  I've started examining ways to ease my tension.  In my experience, everything is like a machine.  When a machine is running badly, the first step is to step back and assess the machine as a whole.  Then you can begin to alter pieces of the machine or complete any necessary repairs to the machine. 

Here is my machine:

Assuming that I am requiring no energy when I am sleeping, and my washing and primping energy is very small (I'm fairly low maintenance on work days), that leaves me 14 hours per day to use 100% of my energy.  If I'm using that energy at a moderately steady rate, that translates to roughly 7% of my total energy per hour. 

Yah, I know, I'm a nerd.  But hear me out. 

Look at your breakdown.  Where do you spend your energy?  Do you have a short commute?  A long commute?  Are you a muscle head that spends their free time at the gym?  Are you a couch potato that can constantly be found with a DVR and a magazine? 

So now that I know where my time goes every day, my challenge for the next week is to do more things in the same amount of time.  I'm going to maximize my time for at least one week and see how it goes. 

Do I sound crazy?  I'll show you. 

Have a great day! 


I have a love hate relationship with ____________.

I have a love hate relationship with WalMart

Yes, it's true. 

I love me some low prices.  Bonus: McDonald's inside of the building.  No need to make 2 stops. 

Let's talk about this for a second before you think I'm nuts.  WalMart really does have a habit of having better prices on a lot of (but not all) things.  Let's talk about my shopping list. 

First up. L'Oreal Double Extend Keratin Lash Boosting Serum

I have been dying to try this.  Plus?  I have a coupon.  I checked a few prices. 

Target $12.49

Walmart $10.49

This means that with my coupon for $2 off, it's only $8.49 plus tax at WalMart.  Something I'm willing to try for a little bit healthier lashes. 

Next item: After a few months on "ProActive" and a few more months using the "Acne Free" system, I switched back to my good old Neutrogena products.  They're tried and true.  They're inexpensive.  They last forever.  They aren't harsh.  Bonus?  They don't smell too bad. 

Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser

Target $5.84

Walmart $5.84


And finally: A basic scoopneck tee with long sleeves.  It's a go-to essential for me.  I can pair it with jeans and a scarf and hit the door feeling pretty cozy and cute. 

Target $10.00 per tee

WalMart $12.00 for 2 Tee's

Ladies and gentlemen, WalMart wins again! 

But then comes the guilt.  Then the hatred.  Then the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.  You see, in college I watched an entire series about how WalMart bullied and eventually shut down American companies with their business tactics.  (Look up Rubbermaid and see how WalMart forced them to drive their prices so low they eventually went under and were bought up by an overseas company.)  Just type "walmart killed american businesses" into any search engine and you'll see what I mean.  Good old Mr. Walton was so focused on the fact that he could drive the prices down, he forgot to stop and think about whether or not he should

So there you have it.  I'll walk into a WalMart after work this week and I'll pick up my necessities.  I'll probably go to a Target, too.  I just can't help myself.  I'm in love with Target.  But I'm doing my part to stimulate the economy, even if it is only with a tee and some face wash. 

How do you feel about WalMart?  Do you shop there?  Do you avoid it like the plague? (My father won't set foot in a WalMart.)

Next time you go to WalMart, bring this with you: WalMart Bingo

Shop happy! 


Monday, November 1, 2010

Why I'm so sad...

I'm sort of depressed. 

No, really.  I am. 

Last night, Big Mike and I waited up until 10 o'clock. 

We lit the candle in the pumpkin and put him outside our door. 

We turned on our porch light. 

We waited. 

And waited. 

And waited some more. 

Then, we watched the first four episodes of Mad Men Season 1. 

Then, we waited some more. 

Finally, we turned off our light and went to bed. 

Without handing out a single piece of candy. 

Not a single trick or treat'er. 

Not one little kid that I could ask, "Oh, what are YOU supposed to be?"

Not one smart butt that I have to say, "My, aren't YOU scary!"

I have to go now.  I have three entire bags of fun size candy to eat to fill the void in my heart created by the lack of cute little kids.  Those m&m's, Snickers, and Twix bars aren't going to eat themselves, you know. 

Did you have any kids come to your door?  Did I forget something?  Was I supposed to put a big sign out that said "FREE CANDY" or something?  Where do all the kids go on Halloween now?  Church festivals?  The mall?  Their grandmother's houses?