Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vampires and Finals, not vampire finals. Or final vampires. Well, maybe that last one is true.

Remember those papers that I was doing last week?
.....
Yeah I'm working on them now instead.
(thank goodness the instructors decided to push them back!)
So this is week 2 of finals. Just seems unfair...

Watched Twilight with Tara last night.

Honestly? I didn't like it. I know so many people did, but I was watching it, anticipating enjoyment, and just kept thinking,
Seriously?...
The first thing I noticed (in the initial science class scenes):
Wait a second, the Edward Cullen guy's ear and neck are regular-colored...oh my gosh. You mean to tell me that with ALL those production and makeup and director and grip and camera and everything folk, no one thought to put makeup on the guy's neck? good lord.
And it was downhill from there.

And granted, T and I did fall in love uber quickly and were in full-blown relationship mode by day 5, so I'm aware that it can happen, but having the first real conversation you EVER have with someone being confessing your freakishly strong love still doesn't seem all that realistic.

And that was my take on Twilight.

I think I may have ruined it a bit for Tara. We'd been having perhaps a few too many glasses of Asti and sparkling blueberry juice (my new fav) and I just couldn't hold my tongue.

Sorry Edward Cullen.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Because Tomorrow....Is Another Day!

50 points if you got that Gone With The Wind reference. It's cause Tara is in town.

Get it? Gone W/ The Wind? Tara? You know, the house?

.....

Anyway,

Late into Friday night and beginning at 4:45am Saturday morning, maison RB was echoing with the sounds of furniture moving over basement carpet, M's old canopy bed being assembled, slipcovers being laundered, fresh flowers being arranged, drapes being hung, walls being decorated (using an old monthly calendar, mind you. It's a good idea for a quick decorating change-up - just frame the lovely prints from old calendars that you liked. Except I used ribbons instead of frames, which was a tad ghetto but still pretty. I only had 1.5 days, gimme a break!), and canvases being painted with a certain someone's monogram. Then, candles were lit, pics were printed out and framed to make it feel like home, and gift baskets were assembled.

Yes, I realize that none of those things were particularly noisy, so there was not much echoing à
la maison RB. But focus. The point is, a lot was done.

And at the end, I was happy. Excuse the not-so-lovely pictures, it was MUCH better in person.

The befores of the cluttered and storagey basement room (granted, this is after we dug the bed pieces out of the closet and started messing everything up. I swear it would've been neater had it been a real 'before' pic):



The Tara-retreat-center:

Not too bad, if I don't say so myself.

And, she's doing better already! Everything's officially off, and it's onward and upward, I say :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Warming up the World, One Neck at a Time.


This is my dad's scarf that I finished earlier this week. He called me last night to say he'd gotten it and that he sits right under the air conditioning vent at work so the timing was great (yay!)

See? I'm progressing. That one's better than my yucky first one of a couple months ago, fo sho.

In other news, (good news, mind you) we're going to have a house guest as of tomorrow - yep we've spirited Tara away, to the opposite ocean, to come stay with us for a month. So you can bet your bum that I've been going nuts trying to make the basement bedroom not only livable, but inviting. I'll update you. Perhaps I'll even post before and after pictures (IF it turns out good, that is...)

Happy Friday!!!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Part Deux

In response to PDO's question yesterday,

holy cannoli, yes we wanted that to happen.

The guy she may marry is abusive and a jerk (from a family of jerks who make her suffer to no end too), and she's waffling again. I'm afraid that she'll go through with it, then not have the courage to leave him once they're actually married.

She's the sweetest, most loving person, and she can't bring herself to cause the pain she knows ending it will cause. But goodness gracious, think about the pain she's letting herself live if she goes through with it!

Anyway, that's enough of someone else's business that I'll post on my website. But prayers for the highest and best for her (even if that's an epiphany for the guy that makes him a better partner) will be appreciated!

On other notes, my week has been nutso - kinda behind on my papers (cause of this craziness) and the due dates are approaching fast. It may be almost time to start on the caffeine IV....I'll be talking 500 miles a minute (as opposed to my usual 100 miles a minute) and thinking even faster, and all my thoughts may not make sense, but at least something'll be written, right?

And hey, I can always proofread when I'm off the caffeine rush. But the crash'll probably involve an inability to think logically too...

Hmm maybe I should just stay away from the caffeine.
We'll see.

Happy Thursday! This is the first week in a while that I've wanted to go more slowly!

Today's whiteboard quote:
" We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
~T.S. Eliot

Love that one!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Runaway Bride

If y'all have time, would you mind offering up prayers for Tara in Pennsylvania?

She's calling off her wedding.
(as the World breathes a collective sigh of relief)

Thank heavens.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cherries

Last night I bonked my knee with a 10-lb weight so today I'm wobbly.

Right on the knee cap, you know, when it paralyzes you for a moment as you want to laugh AND cry because you're an idiot for doing something so clumsy?

It may have been because I lately watch Dancing With The Stars while I work out....

Laugh if you want! See if you can look at Julianne Hough for more than 8.3 seconds and not want to do some sit-ups!

Today's whiteboard quote is:

" Optimists are aware that the cherries of life have pits, but are prepared to remove them. Their minds do not dwell on the pits, but on the sweetness of the cherries."
~Joyce Sequichie Hifler

And to make up for my non-decent-posting these past few days, I thought I'd give y'all a link to a marvelous Spring (house AND soul) Cleaning article that was emailed to me this morning.
(it's especially for those of you who are wanting a new relationship...very good ideas in there...)

Anyway, happy Tuesday! And watch those knees!

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's that time again folks...

Yep.

Last week of the quarter time.

This means reading, sleep deprivation, and sore wrists from too much typing will abound.

And I'm already one assignment late (cringe!)

Wish me luck!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Ostara!

a.k.a. the first day of Spring. I love the budding possibilities that this year holds, and I can't wait to see what comes of them. Well, considering the fact that "seeing what comes of them" requires a heck of a lot of effort and hours spent by moi, maybe "can't wait" is a teensy bit too strong a term....

Anyway.

Tonight, at casa RB, there will be a wine and cheese party full of folks I don't know. Sounds fun? Me neither. But I'll know the roomies and there will be wine, which means that I'll be happy. If I have enough energy by then - it's gonna be a busy day! Coffee (remember my extreme susceptibility to caffeine? House parties where I need to be lucid count as justifiable occasions for wall-bouncing) is called for tonight, I'm thinking.

This afternoon I'm also picking up Tara's wedding shower gift! The shower is Sunday, and in Pennsylvania, so it won't get there on time, but I don't mind. I got her a pretty little sweatsuit and had "Bride" embroidered on the back of the hoodie and hip of the pants, in a baby blue (one of her wedding colors).

I'm super excited about it. I know it'll be the perfect gift - see? I'm obsessed with the perfect gift giving. Right there is your first proof. Stay tuned. There'll be lots more in the future.

Okay, I'm off to participate in my busy day.

But you can bet I'll be taking lots of moments to have my own little mental moments of wonder and excitement about the Spring before us.....and to plan for what I'll be bringing in to the world this year (back in the pagan day, it was babies. Now, it's ideas! Much less messy. Usually).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Like Flying....Or Falling

Yesterday, T and I made use of his birthday present! Yes, I know...his birthday isn't for another two weeks and change, but I have the present patience (only when I'm giving them) of a four year old...

"you wanna open it now?"
"...okay, what about now?..."
"just saying, it's okay with me if you open it early...."

...and on and on. Which is why the present had not sat in its box in our living room for 5 hours (after arriving via mail) before T was tearing into the tape, me eagerly waiting to see whether his face fell, lit up, or did a weird I-think-they're-not-so-great-but-Charis-is-watching-so-I-have-to-seem-excited thing.

So
, after aborted hot air balloon, various trip, various stuff, and other such attempts at birthday presents, I finally settled on....

Roller Blades (duh, for both of us. It would have been really nice to give him a pair and say, here, go out, see you in a couple hours. No, got some for me too).

"Why, that's a pre-pubescent pastime" you say.
"Wasn't that a very, nineties, thing to do?" you say...
or, simply, "Roller blading is lame..."

I don't care.

I think it's fun.

When I was a little girl I had a pair of second-hand roller skates that were white with pink wheels. I wore those bad boys on the street in front of my house til my toes couldn't squeeze in any more....heck, speeding around in circles while the clouds swirled above me and a light rain cooled my flushed cheeks is among one of my very favorite childhood memories.

Anywhoo, because of T's and my love for the simplicity of just walking down by the beach, I thought this would be a nice addition, from time to time.

And, let's be honest. The sense of flying you get when you float along, a few inches off the ground, moving oh so smoothly as you're coasting from a speed burst and not putting forth any effort for that gliding you're doing right now, is lovely. And something I wanted. And, something I thought he'd love like I do.

But, I didn't take one thing into account.

T has no experience with roller blades.

So last night was spent going back and forth between M's car (he'd moved his out for space) and the weight bench in the garage, learning the basics of simply moving on those things (during which I learned that I can be a terrible teacher, mind you). He only spilled once (which still made me feel bad), didn't even scrape his hands (I would've felt really bad), and had some miraculous saves after that. Seriously, I was impressed. The boy has spectacular core strength.

We didn't exactly take them out for a spin...

Well, I did go for a couple turns in our itty bitty parking lot. Towards the end, when T's feet needed out and I was getting sleepy (yeah, yeah, it was only 8 o'clock...) I went out for one last ride around the lot and saw that, above me, the sky was my very favorite color - an azure blue fading from a light royal down at the very bottom (where the sun dissappeared), to the color of the velvet that diamonds sit on at the other end of the sky (adorned with a few diamond stars, of course).

It was breathtaking.

I thought about taking a picture but I knew that the combination of my autofocus camera, the ugly buildings flanking the piece of sky I was admiring, and my nonexistant talent for photography would make the image be a random blue blurb rather than the lovely and infinite sky that was captivating me.

So, I went inside and debladed. And went to bed. And woke up, to a Thursday. Which means (you guessed it) the weekend starts tomorrow! (makes me happy)

Happy last day of winter!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stirrings

The fern trees outside my office have tiny new bright green baby leaves. All around I can see the coming of Spring - I can feel it in the warmer air (although I'll always miss Richmond's soft air in the Spring...it literally feels like feathers brushing your skin. This doesn't happen in climates where it never gets really cold...), smell it in the great big wild rose bushes I pass on my daily work walk. They infuse the whole sidewalk next to their yard with the delicious smell of living flowers - I think I could get drunk on it..., and I can hear it in the birdsong that seems renewed with a brighter tone and quicker pace.

Today's whiteboard quote is:
"True inward quietness, is not vacancy, but stability, the steadfastness of a single purpose."
~Caroline Stephen
And inside me too, there is a new quietness. It's like a germination. And what's growing in me right now are thoughts, and ideas, about something seemingly mundane (my new work), but to me it's so important and needed, even spiritual. I think things always feel like that when they speak to your soul, and this is something I've known I was meant for since I was about 10 years old.

So I'll wait for everything to mature until it's ready to be presented to the world, the same way that nature does. All is quiet, then before you can blink, the world is suddenly full of a riot of colors and other signs of life that seemingly came out of nowhere. But they didn't, they were preparing the whole time.

The first day of Spring is Friday - what will you be doing to feel it within you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wear Your Green, Don't Get Pinched

Happy St. Patty's Day!


Have an irish car bomb for me, all I'm doing to celebrate is wearing green ribbons in my hair. I'm no good after 8:00 on a week night....

We did it up last weekend though, between the pub, the Guinness, and the corned beef and cabbage (which would be a Carrots in the Kitchen recipe if I had the energy to type it up...maybe later)

What are y'all doing to celebrate?


Monday, March 16, 2009

Kahluah Cleavage


Saturday morning, after a while of working in my little pillowed cubby in our "library" (aka a spare room- that's-not-really-a-room- because-it-has-only-2-real-walls, -a-banister-and-a-hallway-so-we- put-shelves-in-and-call-it-a-library), T and I escaped to Pasadena's Huntington Gardens.It was a smidge chilly out, but we found a nice grassy knoll to lie on and chat about things like the state of technology, the changes that are happening in today's youth because of it (as he observes as an academic tutor and as I observed when teaching and working with young'uns here and there over the years as a camp counselor and things like that), and other such topics that only dorks like us can appreciate :)
It was nearly comfy enough to nap,
but I realized what a task list I had for the upcoming day and a half so I dragged my eyelids open, and we continued on.
After a couple hours we got stuck in traffic on the way to Tom Bergin's Tavern, which was amazing.
This is T's "Charis isn't yelling at me for having a Guinness for once" face (they have wheat!):
And our respective drinks, his=Guinness, mine=some coffee/Baileys/various other stuff mix. (delicious)

Sunday M took us to lunch at Elephant Bar,
which may be my very favorite restaurant.T liked it too.We made corned beef and cabbage for dinner yesterday. It was amazing (yay for internet recipe conglomerations!)

Saturday night, because the coffee drinks at Bergin's had been soooo yummy, we decided to walk the two blocks to a Starbucks to get large coffees, then bring them back and make our own version (hello, wet bar in our living room that I have used, now, twice). At the Starbucks we saw that a murder in our neighborhood last month had an update - apparently at the end of January, a couple of guys in a van asked for directions from a girl walking home and tried to grab her and put her in the back of the van. She fought them off and ran away, thank goodness. That's who they're thinking the murderers were. Get this - the van incident happened just around the corner from my house, a little over a block away. Put another tally up in the "let's live in a small town" category.... I never had to be afraid to walk to my car in the morning when I lived in the middle of nowhere....

Anyway, so we brought coffee back and spent an inordinate amount of time making coffee drinks, using spoons to ineffectually attempt that cool layering that you sometimes see in those drinks and everything. They ended up cold (not after we microwaved them), really sweet, and VERY strong. I only had one, of course...

At one point (T made a pizza that night) T was at the sink, dealing with the saucepan after the pizza was in the oven, and I was precariously perching/leaning against the opposite counter, with my cup to my lips, and he slipped, sloshing water out of the sink onto his shirt and the floor. At the exact same moment, my hand slipped and my coffee cup did that almost-dropped-it-but-I-didn't thing.
Did he startle me? No.
Did I startle him? No.
Was there a loud sound? Nope.
Did something subconscious happen to make us both startle? I don't think so.
Did the murderer drive by our house and his psychological evil penetrate the house and both of our minds to make us both unknowingly freak out and lose hold of what we were grabbing? I don't know.

What I do know is that my coffee did not go onto the floor like his dishwater. It all got caught by my shirt. And under my shirt. Yuck. (if you don't know what I mean, check the title of this post)

Happy Monday!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Successful Saturday So Far

This is my workspace this morning:
Why, thank you, it is amazing, yes I know.

Oh the day that I can get up and dressed and make my morning commute of....downstairs and into the library where my little "reading corner" is set up, and where I took the pains, upon initial move-in, of installing the lovely canopy and pictures, centered just so, because my bedroom ceiling (where the canopy would ordinarily go) is too high.

(that also means it's undustable. And there's popcorn. Blech.)

In other news, I got off work a smidge early yesterday, and wanted to surprise T (who has Fridays off). I clipclopped over to my car and sped out of Pasadena, just to wind up stuck on a gridlocked 101S.

....argh...

(of course there was nothing on the radio traffic updates about it...there was no accident or anything, just too many people on the road. Stupid overpopulation. It's what we get for settling in a land that has no natural water tables (CA). That means everyone has to live close together, really)

But back to the point. I was stuck and I started to feel the red haze creep up from my toes (red haze = road rage). But, I'm also aware that getting spittin' mad does not traffic move, so I thought of a practice that we were given in an Akido presentation at my last school seminar.

you can try this at home, folks!

Two people stand, face to face. One points his/her finger at the other's throat/chest and moves toward them, with the finger leading. This is supposed to simulate an attack, so that should be the focus of the pointer's attention. The pointer moves at a slow walk, and of course stops when the pointed finger is a couple inches away from the other's throat.

Notice how the pointer felt the "attack" went. Notice how the receiver felt.

Take II: The receiver, before the pointer starts to move, takes a couple of deep breaths to center herself/himself. You can close your eyes if you want, but don't think of protection or anything. Just make it so that you are full present, aware, and relaxed. All of you is with you, not thinking about this or that or being pulled in random directions. Center.

Then the pointing and walking is repeated, and you'll (the receiver) will feel protected and not worried about the finger anymore. The pointer may feel something too.

When I did it, I felt the air around my classmate thicken (only toward my finger, the attack "weapon", I guess) when I moved within about a foot of her. It was amazing! Why knows how this works, I won't get into it here - maybe you can just tell by small body language signs (tightness in the face and body, eye contact - oh, one more thing, hold eye contact during the exercise) that they're not afraid of you and it takes some of your mental strength away as you get closer to the point of actual contact. On the other side of the spectrum, maybe you're aware of a strengthening of their electrical/energetic/whatever "aura", once they feel centered. Whatever you believe, it's a cool exercise.

But, back to traffic.

So I was sitting in traffic, and when I started to get angry, I centered. My anger instantly subsided. And not only that, but (you can feel the palpable road range on LA highways) I felt myself a calm island in a sea of annoyance! It was kind of cool, in a freakish way.

As I was inching along, I noticed an archway above the road that I never had before:
You can't see it in the picture, but there is graffiti on the mini pillars below the road there. How did that get there? The guys spray painting would have had to hang upside down. And that's like 5 stories up. Man, what people will do in an effort to be heard....

I'll take blogging, thanks.

So, as far as my prototype weekend goes, it's on track so far! Then again, it IS only 7:39am. There's still a lot of day before me. We'll see...

Happy Weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday the 13th


Didn't we just have one of those?

Eh who cares, it gives me an excuse to have an extra glass (or 3) of Asti tonight.
Ok who am I kidding, since when did I need an excuse? It's Friday.

Anyway,

This is what I'm thinking about today:
  • Getting things for my website together (it's such a blessing and a curse when you're only waiting on yourself to open a new door...it puts the pressure on and takes the pressure off all at the same time. Definitely more pressure on if you don't meet your self-set guidelines yet. Dang it.)
  • Getting all that pesky thing called school work taken care of before the weekend.
  • The three songs that Tara (T's sweet sister) asked me to sing in her wedding on May 2: All I Ask of You, One Hand, One Heart, and There is Love. I hadn't ever heard those songs before, oh, this Monday. Guess what burned CD is living in my car player right now...I knew those 2 hour a day commutes would come in handy, sooner or later :)
  • And, surprisingly, the fact that it's Friday. Yeah, I know I already talked about that. But it's so amazing that it bears repeating.
My whiteboard quote of the day is:
"There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self."
~Unknown

That's one that should wring at least one productive weekend out of me!



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Being Weekend-Responsible. I hope...

Tomorrow's Friday.

Woohoo!


I am deliciously unsure of what I'll do this weekend. At the beginning of each weekend I (if I don't have some crazy travel or similar booking planned) plan on using the two empty days as prototypes of what my life will be like on that glorious day when I work from home... I say I'll get up early, get dressed, and start on whatever work I have to do right away (my best brain hours are between 7am and 1pm. After 4:00 my IQ drops by about 45 points...). I say that, after this early businessey type stuff is done, I'll use the early afternoon hours to either go do something fun, or clean the house, or do artwork that's being perpetually worked on (I have a folder of silhouettes to do from January that I should have mailed off long ago), or travel to wherever and do Reiki treatments, that sort of thing. In this perfect world, by 4 or 5pm I'll be done with my daily tasks and can lay back and relax for the rest of the evening with T.

So, that's the goal for this weekend. Perhaps, since I wrote it here and can therefore be rightfully called out if/when I post on Monday that I did what I normally do over the weekend:

-Wake up, think that I should get up and dressed
- Realize that there's a warm and cuddly T next to me
- Go back to sleep (although it's not so easy. I bounce up at 7 or 8, even if I went to bed at 3am. It's infuriating. To me AND those around me...)
- Wake up at 10ish, lazily get breakfast, lie around, read a book, or watch a movie, or talk with T about silly things, and before I know it, it's 4:00pm. IQ's gone.
- Spend the rest of the night laying around (like I would in the perfect day....) but guiltily and will a constant weight on my head because I know that things aren't done that should be...

This goes on for both days, until roughly 6:00pm on Sunday night when I am caught up in my mad scramble to (half-assedly, mind you) do all of the things that I was supposed to do over the course of the abundant weekend free hours....

This just won't do. How will I EVER work from home effectively that way?

So, this weekend is a start! We'll see how it goes....

In other news, my new bamboo crochet hooks arrived yesterday! They're impossibly light and lovely. No sore fingers here! And bamboo gets smoother and nicer over time because of the natural oils in your skin, so it's smooth sailing ahead. And that also gives me more incentive to use them, so they'll get smoother faster. I'm currently working on a hat for my old office mate, Mason. She's a runner now, up in Indiana or somewhere cold. The hat'll have a glow-in-the-dark flower on it. I'm excited.

Alrighty tighty, I'm off to a (hopefully) productive Thursday which (hopefully) won't derail like every other day has so far this week, which means I'll actually do what I set out to do :) Wish me luck!

What are your goals for this weekend?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To Get Anything Done

Today's whiteboard quote:

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. ~Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball, you say?
She, actually, was a heck of a woman, especially for the time she lived in. T used to work at Paramount, and I found out when I started dating him that, since she was a workaholic, she designed a small courtyard outside her office at Paramount Studios to look like her back yard. She'd have her children come to work with her and play there. She also had the front to one of the buildings made up to look exactly like one of her houses. Because of these things, she
#1) felt more at home, which is nice when you work a lot (hence my candle warmer here)
#2) could do photo shoots and record media messages from right outside her office, but seem like she was at home, perfectly balancing all the things involved in being a working mother, and taking wonderful care of her children.
Smarty pants, that one.

But back to the quote.

Every day I pick quotes that speak to me and that (sometimes I hear), end up speaking to the people who walk by my office every day. That's nice. But, to be 100% honest, the quotes are only up for selfish reasons. So, today, as I was trying to avoid getting dry-erase dust on my white sweater while I wrote this one out, I did a little mental check.

Do I love myself? ...I think so. Yeah. Sure I do. Hmm. What's the catch? Um, I need to drink more water. Okay, I'll drink more water today. And I need to work on more positive thinking. And I need to get my website up. And I need to remember to run those errands this afternoon.

...and before I knew it my mind had sprinted into to-do list mode, which later, after I realized what I'd done, showed me that I've run into the same pitfall that I think a lot of young professional women (and at-home women. And not so young women. And men) fall into. And that's measuring our own opinion of ourself - our effectiveness, worthwhile contribution to the world, basically right to be living and be loved, even by ourselves, by how much we accomplish.

There's something wrong with that. My Reiki teacher once gave me a huge lecture on how, especially for women, so much thought is given to, and weight is put on, being "enough". Doing enough. Saying enough. Cooking enough. Making enough money. Giving enough love to those we love. Being interesting enough.

She said that, sooner or later, you have to be able to just sit, quietly, calmly, and smile and say, with an appreciative and relaxed sigh, I am enough.

And I nodded, perplexed, because I really had no idea what she was talking about and I was halfway listening with the other half of my mind thinking about how I had to stop by the store on the way home and calls I had to make and homework I had to finish and a flight I had to book for the holidays and how I'd schedule out time to visit both my family and friends and how I needed to take something out of the freezer to thaw it for dinner and the new wall treatment I was working on and how I needed to update my AIM info (yes that was back in the days of AIM) and what I was going to do that weekend and.....

-and now, years later, after I've grown and changed and seen babies born and loved them and massaged their little feet, and after I've had my heart broken a couple times and seen that, even when someone DOES seem to do enough, if it's true that they're NOT enough (not really, not for me), then it doesn't matter.

And now I have some new friends and some old ones and a new(ish) love that has shown me that, if you love the core of someone, what they do, today, doesn't matter at all, because it doesn't define you - so you can love someone even if, tomorrow, they choose to go to clown school or something and derail all you thought that they were going to do...

So shouldn't that count for yourself too? The love at the core, for all that you have the ability and potential to do, moreso than what's checked off of that to-do list?

Seems to make sense. Now, just to do it.....

Just sayin. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Review: Manhattan Beach Creamery

T and I, in an effort to not just laze the weekend away at home, went down to Manhattan Beach a few days ago. We found a sweet Italian restaurant that'll be reviewed in a later post (and revisited a zillion times I'm sure), and across the street, we found this:As we'd been finishing up our lasagna and stuffed eggplant, I was bemoaning the lack of dessert menu. T mentioned the homemade ice cream signs we'd seen on the walk over, and I was in full agreement. So, after we paid the tab, promptly forgot the leftovers that would have been delicious, and re-sweatered ourselves (it was chilly this weekend), we headed across the street (dodging the Girl Scout stand on the way. I was almost persuaded until T dropped the curse that turns any food into poison - "high fructose corn syrup". C'mon Girl Scouts! Redo your cookie recipe without that stuff, and I'll send your stock back up a couple points. And send my weight up a couple pounds too...)We walked in to Manhattan Beach Creamery and my internal 7-year-old self was in heaven. I told T how amazing this place would have seemed when I was a little girl, with the chandeliers, old-fashioned furniture, and pretty displays, and he nodded, unconvinced. Ok, ok....I'm not a little girl and I still kinda thought it was amazing.I wasn't the only one either...it seemed to be a popular hangout for girlfriends and young moms. It was sunny, colorful and comfy, with massive booths, big enough for the largest family (or me and my purse, same thing), old-fashioned decor (our table's decoration was a shadowbox of antique flavoring bottles - so cute).
The counter sections:
And delicious baked goods counter (see that red velvet cupcake? Those were the special that day. They sold out of them while we were there):There were pretty displays, all ready for Easter of course:And, after a long and hard debate, we picked a flavor (who am I kidding, he said a scoop of cheesecake and a scoop of nutella and I was sold)
Happy Tuesday! I'm off to try to catch up on overdue assignments and hopefully clear some of the stacks off my desk today :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Children in Trees

...and by children, I mean these:
This morning I was crossing the street on my walk in and I heard laughter coming from ahead and a little to the right.
Loud, raucous laughter. Then babbling. It sounded like children. After a moment of listening for direction, I realized that the noises echoing around my current patch of silent morning Pasadena came from one of these:
So, I realized that they were not early risen children speaking another language, they were, in fact, parrots. Red-crowned parrots, to be specific.

The story is that in 1965ish, a zoo partially went up in flames and the birds escaped. Now they're not a part of the natural food chain around here, so they travel in loud, obnoxious flocks and yell like people.

It's very disconcerting when they fly by your window or over your head.

But they're pretty, so at least it's 1 for 2 on the senses-pleasing scale.

The story of their release and current population reminds me of the love bugs in Florida:
The look gross but aren't really. They're about the size of lightning bugs, if you know what those are (maybe 3 or 4 mm long) and, on the rare occasion that you see one flying alone, that's what their appearance and flight pattern resembles.

However, they are not lightning bugs.

Why so emphatic, you ask? Because the darned things fly around while getting friendly (hence the name love bug), and their sense of direction is awful. I guess it comes from the two of them flying in opposite directions. That also means that they never go in a straight line, and fly very slowly (more like mosquitoes than anything else I suppose), and they'll land on you. And just hang out. Don't get me wrong, they don't bite or sting so I'm still a sort-of fan. But walking through swarms of them on a campus green is no fun at all.

Oh, and the worst thing? The thing that made most Floridians who read my speak of love bugs and emitted uncontrollable groans of displeasure? That would be that they, as well are not part of the natural food chain (the story I heard was that a Florida university was doing research on them, fruit fly style, and set them free when finished. That, or an animal rights group set them free. Reports are conflicting).

Here, the parrots aren't in the food chain so they just travel in large flocks. No biggie, and you don't see them every day. They're just loud when they pass by.

In Florida, when it's love bug season, it's love bug season. As in, when I was driving on the highway in '07, dropping of my soon-to-be-unused mattresses at a friend's house before the drive out to CA, it sounded as though I were driving through rain. And rain drop = love bug (or pair of love bugs, probably). Gross, I know.

Also, their bodies have corrosive chemicals, so after your car is unrecognizable in color on the front bumper because of the thick and crusty layer of love bug bodies, they'll eat away your paint. And they're extremely hard to wash off.

Here's a tip, Floridians: dryer sheets. A friend of a friend who worked at a car dealership clued me in. Wet the sheets, then scrub at the bugs. They come right off. Make sure to wash your car right afterwards though. The dryer sheet stuff isn't good for your paint either, if it sits there for more than an afternoon.

So, that's my story for this morning. In other news, my friends have been yelling at me to make a new vlog (the last one was before Turkey Day last year. Horrible, I know). Here's a link to my youtube channel for those of you who have tons of time to waste :) So I'll be doing that in the next couple days.

Happy Monday :)


Friday, March 6, 2009

Freakin Friday

My mom had her 50th birthday back in January.

This weekend she's at the Hershey Resort and Spa in Pennsylvania to celebrate. She called me about a week ago and asked if I could come, and because of the short notice and taking off work, I said no.

I would have had to take today off.

And here I am this morning, sick and in bed, and taking off work cause I feel like poo.


That's a bunch of baloney.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On Bling

Today I'm gonna write about the shiny stuff.

Take pearls, for instance.

Do you really know what pearls are? Some folks don't. Since (I think) most of the folks who read my blog are of the feminine persuasion, I'm assuming you do. But for those 3 male readers, here it is.

You start with an oyster. The little guys in shells that live on the bottom of the ocean. The bottom of the ocean = sandiness, so sand will, of course, periodically make its way into the shell of the oyster.

If you've ever eaten an oyster (I'd recommend it, once, just so you can say you've done it), or even seen one for that matter, you'll know that the flesh of the oyster is very soft and tender. Which, when the oyster was alive, = sensitive.

Do you know what it feels like when something as smooth as an eyelash gets caught in your eye? Ouch! And what about something as jagged as a piece of sand? Triple ouch! So imagine what the poor oyster feels like...

But, that's usually okay because since they move around by shooting water, I'm sure they can usually just flush the sand out, similar to how your eye will tear up until the sand/eyelash/whatever is washed away.

Sometimes, they can't do that because of the placement of the sand so, in an effort to stop the constant pain of something hard and sharp digging into their sensitive skin, they start to coat it in whatever they secrete (kinda gross, I know), to smooth out the edges.

I don't know if the edges really get smooth enough to not be uncomfortable, because they keep surrounding the grain of sand with more and more layers to soften and smooth its surface for as long as it's inside the oyster's shell.

And that, my friends, is a pearl.

Gross!!!!

Maybe this is just me, but the thought of wearing something that was created by an innocent living being in order to avoid intense pain just ain't that appealing. Not to mention the fact that many pearls that are used in jewelry are made on farms used for that sort of thing, so you've got people intentionally shoving ouchy sand into the oysters' shells. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.

2nd example? Diamonds.

Ooh I might get yelled at for this....

But whatever. It's my blog and I can say what I want.

Have you ever seen them movie Blood Diamond? Go, rent it, watch it.

I couldn't get over what I saw in that movie for days. And I'm not exaggerating. (doesn't sound like that much, but taking that long to be upset over a movie definitely seemed too long to people who were hanging out with me on those days...)

So, you think the answer is to buy conflict-free diamonds. Okay, at least no grownup got an arm chopped off for it and no kid had to shoot his friend while high on god-knows-what (sorry if you don't understand what I'm saying, if not, go see the movie).

A couple months after the fact that I'd reconciled myself to never buying anything but conflict-free diamonds (which cuts out anything that was made before "conflict-free" came into being), I was on an airplane, flipping through whatever magazines they give you in the little seat pockets, and I came across a fact page on diamonds.

note: I do love diamonds. I love how they sparkle and shine, and they're my birth stone. But, with all that included, this is still how I feel. Strongly, if you couldn't tell already.

One of the random facts on the sheet was that it takes one ton of earth to be moved in order to find one 1-carat diamond. A ton of earth. That's crazy. Have you ever seen a diamond mine?

And we have people toiling and sweating and working for little pay, even in conflict-free mines, and (excuse my language) raping/violating/stealing from Mother Earth to get these shiny pieces of rock that we wear to look pretty.

Hmmm....does something seem wrong with that to you? It kinda sorta does to me.

Within a day or two, I came across (in another magazine - serendipitous, I know) information on man-made diamonds. Having all these things fresh in my mind, I was interested to see what the deal was. I'd always thought that fake diamonds were gross and fragile and yellowed and/or dulled over time, so I did a smidge of research on it the next time I was around Google.

Turns out that the original cubic zirconias were made by scientists who wanted to create synthetic diamonds in order to cut materials being studied. Not for jewelry.

Now, if you get quality fakies, they're completely clear, as hard as diamonds (they can cut glass), and (here's the part that got me) even a jeweler can't tell the difference. The only way to tell a quality man-made one from a natural diamond is to heat them. At some ridiculous temperature the weight of a m-m is different than the weight of a natural diamond.

So? On that day I decided to never buy a real diamond again. And got into fights with my bf at the time, and subsequent people, over the fact that I never wanted a real diamond. Ever. As in, engagement-ring-ever. (How does T feel about it? That's for another post...)

I'm cool w/ that decision (that happened 3 or 4 years ago). And I'm not gonna lie, the fact that it'll make my pockets remain heavier over time doesn't hurt.... :)

I'd love to hear thoughts on this one! I know it's controversial, but I think I'm making sense here...

Oh, and happy Thursday! Weekend tomorrow, woohoo!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Aborted Birthday Gifts (and non-aborted self gifts)

So we're not doing the thing that I was planning for T's birthday.

Sigh.

But, that means that I can blog about it!
(I'm terrible at keeping my own secrets...)

The plan was..... a hot air balloon ride!

The company is in Temecula, and you can visit their site here. You go in the morning (like, eeeeaaarly, 6:30am early) and the ride lasts a couple hours. They fly you over beautiful Temecula wine country, and when you're done, you get breakfast. Gorgeous, relaxing, and original way to spend a Saturday morning, I'll say!

But, I #1) couldn't get enough people to agree to go with in order to make it worthwhile as a group thing, especially when the goal was to go wine tasting afterward, and #2) I realized that although he would appreciate the gesture, T may not even want to do something like that and more importantly, would likely scold me for spending so much on something trivial when the main goal for this year was to save as much as possible (economy, duh. Save it while you're makin it, we say).

So, I broke down and told him. He semi-uncomfortably laughed and agreed that he may not even be all that interested (it's not on his list of things to do. And that's a long list. Now if he'd only write it down and show it to me so I could pick something for my now-empty birthday idea drawing board). He also emphatically agreed that I shouldn't spend the dough. So, now we're doing a beach bonfire for his birthday.

But I'm still tapped out on surprise ideas! He's impossible to do presents for - he's the opposite of materialistic and is always trying to de-clutter his life....the perfectly-sweet-and-fitting-but-nearly-useless present finding gift that I have (and am not modest about at all. I give the best presents ever), he's totally immune to!

Which sucks, for me. So, any ideas for birthday stuff for a guy who hates stuff? Hit me!

In other news, my birds nest ring arrived last night and I'm wearing it today. I love. She even made it small enough so it fits my finger (I have abnormally thin fingers. In high school the other cheerleaders called me 'witch fingers', and now I can never buy rings. I'm a size 4.5. Weird, I know...). Go check out Angie's site, there's lots there!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Saturday in RB

RB = Redondo Beach, by the way. And yes, that's my hand with a beater of gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough and a Guinness. I can honestly say I've never had a Guinness before. Who knew what I was missing? (although, I only had 2/3 of that one before I gave it up to T for "disposal". Those bad boys are heavy!)

This weekend M finally made good on her offer to treat the roomies to tapas at a great restaurant on the pier. There was a little confusion over what to order,

but all turned out well in the end.
Saturday T and I decided to go to the beach. By the time we actually got there, it was starting to cool off again, but we were mostly troopers. Mostly means that T was a trooper. I had a blanket.
When we came back to the house, we found B in the kitchen, preparing his brand new episode. I was having the undeniable urge that comes over me every several weeks to make chocolate chip cookies, so my workspace was...in the corner. Oh well, you know what the Sexy Vegan says about baking...

But I was okay with it.


Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays...

...don't really get me down. As long as I have an umbrella and can mostly stay inside (because okay, chilly water from the sky dripping down my collar would be no good), and as long as it's a quiet and non-crazy Monday (because when you're doing things like hosting conferences at 7am it's not as much a day to be looked forward to).

Now, if you're talking rainy days with a couch all made up with blankets and pillows, delicious warm food, good movies, and a T to snuggle up with, I'm there!

And if you're talking about a vacation Monday, where there's no work to be gone to, rain or no rain, I'll take it!

But, no, it's just a non-rainy regular Monday.

Every morning as I'm stumbling around, brushing my teeth as #1 of 10,000 that day (thanks, invisalign!) or toweling my hair or whatever, I try to remember to praise the morning, as I'm up without pain or sickness and everyone I love is still sleeping peacefully in their beds (West Coast loved ones, that is. I have no clue what those already-up Easterners are doing). Some mornings I do remember. Today I did. And it sure does change the shape of the morning, even though I did run late, get stuck in traffic, and get so lost and concerned about my dramatic and not-so-positive current audiobook that I had to shake my head and remember where I was as I was going in to the office.

What? It's normal to get lost in things like that, right?....Hey, I'll pick that over road rage every time, considering it distracts me from the shenanigans of other drivers.

So have a happy Monday. And give praise for the morning (or afternoon, depending on where you are) because, if you're here to live it and see the sun and smell the wind, it's a good day, compared to some.