Archive for January, 2012

January 30, 2012

Conquering Fears

This weekend was about facing my fears and telling them where they can shove it. And it wasn’t even what I set out to do. But sometimes you’re offered opportunities, and somehow I’ve figured out where to find that unique ability to just say “Yes!”

They actually made a movie about this concept, I believe. “Yes Man,” it was called. Not a bad movie, actually. I like Zooey Deschanel.


Of course, this is a little bit overboard and I have no intentions of becoming a “Yes Woman,” but I think there’s definitely something to be said for seizing opportunities….even if they’re scary.

So we started the weekend with the party at the Nugget in Reno I was telling you about. It was a ton of fun.

Photo booth fun!

My brother, Matt, brought the baby, who was, of course, the star of the show. Poor guy didn’t have a nap all day, though, and true to form, he fell asleep on me on the dance floor.

My favorite part of the evening, though, was just before the party. In my family, I’ve sort of learned to just do my own thing because waiting for them to figure out what they’re doing can cost you a whole evening. So Jim and I got dressed, and since we were starving, we went downstairs to the bar at Orozko and ordered a couple of drinks and appetizers. As we sat down….at the best seat in the house, we later learned…the evening’s entertainment arrived, a guy with a microphone who sang Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond (among others). It was just nice to sit there, listening to good music, drinking a martini, enjoying some delicious appetizers and just being together before we had to go into the party and turn on the schmooze.

After the party, like we usually do, we all went back downstairs to do a little gambling. Now, I’m not a big gambler. I like to play $10-$20 on the penny slots and call it good. Except my brother came up to me and said “Let’s go teach you how to play blackjack.” And honestly, it scared the crap out of me. $5 minimums=lots of potential lost cash!


But I did it anyway. And we lost some cash (fortunately we wrote it off as a “business expense”). But I did it. I looked my fear in the eye and I said “I’m going to do it anyway.” ….Oh, and I doubled my $10 on the pennies. Just sayin’.

On Sunday, we got up leisurely (after going to be after 2 am!), had breakfast with my youngest brother, Dan, who is going to school in Reno and then went to Rome Valley Vineyards, where we got married.

I wish I had photos of this day, but it was one of those days you just live. I didn’t have time to whip out a camera and document it. Besides, I had no pockets and was on the back of a quad, so…. If you knew the size of my scaredy-catedness, you’d have been proud of me. Not only did I ride all over the vineyard (lots of steep hills!!!) on the back of a quad, I shot a gun AND walked into an old mine to the point where I could barely see sunlight behind us anymore.

I may not be a tough girl yet, but I’m working on it! One step at a time.

How was your weekend? Conquer any fears lately?


January 27, 2012

10 things to be happy about 1/27

It’s a ten things kind of day. This week the world seems to be crumbling around me. On Tuesday, Jim left his job. His boss is verbally abusive, pays less than minimum wage (he pays book time, which is 26 an hour for Jim…except he works on average 12 hours a day, but only like 20 a week book time…it’s complicated and makes me mad, so I’m done talking about it), and just told Jim to “F” off one too many times. I came into work this morning to a computer that didn’t work and a brother getting on my case about leaving early for an appointment yesterday (by the way, I didn’t take a lunch to compensate, but does he pay attention to that? No.). And those are just the highlights of a really lousy week.

So I need a dose of gratitude. Enter 10 things to be happy about. I’ll be happy if I can come up with six today!

1. I have my favorite graham crackers today. These things are to-die-for. I brought the remains of a jar of peanut butter with me today for them.



2. It’s Friday. And this hellacious week is over.


3. When I get home, my husband will be there. The plus side to him losing his job, I get to see him more.

On top of a memorial in Gettysburg


 4. We’re going to a party tomorrow! I told you about that one last week…in Reno. Our largest customer does an “employee appreciation” party every January. We’re there for “vendor appreciation.”

At our last dress-up party


5. I just ordered my business cards! They’ll look a little something like this:


6. I’m getting my nails done with my mom after work.


7.  I am so in love with my new water bottle! Mine is a prettier blue and white, though.


8. I got my eyebrows waxed this week (my lovely mother-in-law does them for me. She’s an esthetician), and I’m proud to say I no longer look like a bushman.

9. I just found out my brother-in-law and his wife are having a baby boy in June!

10. My husband has dinner in the crock pot. I bet it’s going to be a “compromise” meal, but I don’t have to cook it! 🙂

January 25, 2012

12 things in 2012

I have fun making plans, goals, setting challenges for myself. I have a list of things to do before I die (where did the term “bucket list” come from anyway? I’m not a fan), but that’s a pretty broad range of time, so I figure I’ll write one for myself for the year as well and I’ll keep you all posted as I go along.

1. Launch Stephanie Sutherlin Photography

I love to photograph weddings

2. Finish The Girl in the Painting, a novel that I’m writing and submit it to an agent

3. Paint pottery with Jim

4. Enter a photo competition

I entered this one in a small competition last year. I believe it hit 4th place.

5. Move into a house

6. Read all the books on one of the shelves of my bookcase

I'm working on this one at present. It's so good.

7. Visit our friends in Las Vegas

8. Learn how to make wine

9. Find a cool new hiking spot

10. Cut my hair and donate to Locks of Love

11. Purchase a new camera body and a L-Series wide angle lens

12. Pay off our wedding (eep!)

So there they are. Twelve goals. Although in light of yesterday’s events, some of these may be more difficult than others. Like I said, I’ll keep ya posted!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

January 23, 2012

Funny story

As a vegetarian, there are some things I just can’t do. Most of them are related to cooking meat, but on rare occasions, I find myself in the position to be purchasing meat.

This was the case yesterday. And I wish to gosh I’d remembered to take a photo.

So most people know that yesterday was big in the world of football. My husband is a 49ers fan, as is BJ, the owner of the vineyard where we got married. So naturally, we found ourselves over there to watch the big game.

I am not a fan of football. It just doesn’t interest me. I can’t help it. And neither can BJ’s 20-year-old daughter Ashley.

BJ had promised Jim prime rib for dinner. She had one in the freezer she was going to take out and cook up. Well, she forgot to take it out of the freezer and realized this about 30 minutes before kick-off. Whoops. So who do they elect to go to the grocery store? (Mine you, there’s only one. And it’s not a Safeway or a SaveMart or a Raleys. It’s a Mar Val. Haven’t heard of it? Neither has most of the population) Yep, Ashley and the Vegetarian.

It shouldn’t be that hard, though, right? Go to the store, take my credit card and get prime rib, BJ says. Okay, we can do that.

Except when we got to the meat section of the grocery store and my brain went into “uuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” mode, it wasn’t that easy. There was plenty of beef. Tenderloin and ribs of all sorts except the prime version we were looking for.

So we did what any logic-minded person would do. We asked the butcher.

“What size do you need?” he asks.

Ashley and I exchange glances.

“Uh, I don’t know. Enough to feed 4-5 people, I guess,” I tell him. I mean, there are actually three people eating. Jim usually counts as two. And if there was a little extra, that would be okay. Lunch tomorrow or something.

So he tells us it’ll be about five minutes. We go get the other things we need and come back.

Well he comes out of the back with EIGHT POUNDS of beef!!! It was about the size of my mom’s jack russell terrier!

Leea is about 11 lbs, but it’s still pretty close!

And, of course, it comes with a heft price tag of $73. 

So we bring it home and BJ is tied up with a phone call, and she doesn’t notice the giant hunk of meat sitting on her counter until about an hour later, at which point we hear a “WHOOOLY COW!” reverberate through the house. And mind you, BJ was born and raised in New Jersey, so she’s got a voice and a half on her. It was even louder than Jim screaming at the game on tv.

We come rushing it, laughing and told her, “That’s what you get for sending Ashley and the Vegetarian to the store for meat. Next time, you can miss kick off and do it yourself.”

And she says, “$73, well worth it!”

That was a good day.

January 23, 2012

Macadamia nut halibut

I realized yesterday it’s been a loooong time since I’ve posted a recipe. So I decided last night’s delicious macadamia nut halibut was just the ticket.

The recipe was really created by Jim’s step dad. And includes a seasoning mix that you won’t have access to because Donnie mixes it himself and measures by SMELL. I have a container of the stuff, but I can’t tell you exatly what’s in it, mostly because I have no idea. I simply know it’s delicious and goes on pretty much anything.

Macadamia nut halibut

1 halibut filet (size doesn’t matter)

1 egg

Equal parts crushed macadamia nuts and Bisquick (like 1/2 – 3/4 cup each depending on the size of your fish)

Seasonings: garlic, salt, pepper, parsley. Those are the main components of Donnie’s seasoning salt

Parmesan cheese (you like parmesan? you use more)

Preheat oven to 375.

Crack the egg into a shallow bowl or other dish that will fit your halibut filet and wisk it a little. In a separate bowl, combine the Bisquick, nuts and seasoning. Make sure your filet is rinsed and dried. Dip it in the egg, turn it over and then transfer it into the bowl with the mut mixture. Place in a baking dish, sprinkle with parmesan and bake for approx. 15 minutes.

Serve with a side of veggies, maybe a little bit of pasta or rice and wha-la! Delicious!

I’m so excited about tonight. My sister-in-law and her daughter are coming over to catch up on the last two week’s worth of Bachelor episodes. It’s not a show I’ve historically been terribly into, but I’ve seen a couple of season’s (Jake’s and Ali’s) and I can watch it…especially if it involves getting together with people I love and eating delicious food.

Have a lovely week everyone!

January 18, 2012

10 things to be happy about

I think I need one of these today. It’s shaping up to be one of those days… the ones where every little thing that can go wrong does? Like I went to pick my keys up off the counter and in the process knocked a stack of papers onto the floor. And my coffee mug wasn’t letting any coffee out…until it was…and then it was flooding my face and choking me in the process.

So since my crankiness meter just shot through the roof, I thought it was fitting that I spend some time trying to turn my frown upside down and find some gratitude in this day.

1. I got some groceries last night….so I have my usual latte this morning (even though it tried to drown me on my way to work).

2. I’m working on editing some photos today….while I should be working.

3. I get to spend the evening at my favorite place in the world with some of my favorite people.

Rome Valley Vineyards, where we were married in October.

4. We got a new router at work. Crossing fingers for faster internet! This may not seem like such a big deal, but we have regular outages that leave us with NO internet sometimes.

5. I have a delicious homemade gingerbread soy latte to drink this morning. De-licious!

6. I have a reason to wear my favorite fancy dress again! We’re going to a party next weekend, and it’s a dress-up occasion.

Me (in the dress) and my mommy (in red) and the two favorite people from #3. Gosh that was a good night.

7. I get paid on Friday!! That’s always happy, right? I think it’s time to get my nails done. It’s been….months. Since before my wedding actually…so late September. Eek!

8. I have delicious leftover lentil soup for lunch today…which is in less than an hour.

9. Despite what seems to be an unknown crippling fear, I’ve been writing.

10.  I have to do it. I have to put him every time because he makes me happier than anything else in my life. My husband.

In Santa Cruz for our one year anniversary.

Done. Phew. That was hard today! But I think I’m feeling a little bit better…

January 16, 2012

One of those Sundays

Sunday has a bit of stigma about it. It’s supposed to be a day of rest. And they don’t call it Sunday Funday for nothing. Except in our house (apartment), it’s usually spent on the couch with movies or catching up on shows and a coffee table full of “nosh.” And that’s fine with me. It’s good to have a day to just hang out and recharge your batteries for the week ahead.

But this Sunday was not one of those  Sundays. The Sunday was of the Funday variety. My friend Beth had mentioned meeting up with us, but I hadn’t talked to Jim till late Saturday night because we both got home late. So Sunday morning, I rolled over, looked at him and said “Let’s have an adventure today!

He grumbled a bit because it was only 8:30 and he usually gets up closer to 10 or 11. But once he came into full consciousness, he was quite receptive to the idea.

So I texted Beth and told her we’d meet her in Petaluma in a few hours!

Of course, we needed to make a few stops first.

Model Bakery in downtown Napa for some breakfast

And of course, who can drive through Napa without doing a little wine tasting? Unfortunately, our favorite winery, Gustavo-Thrace, was closed for some reason. It’s right across from the bakery, but another favorite, Jacuzzi winery (yes, of the jacuzzi tub fame…they also made airplane propellers…dynamic family, eh?), was open and hoppin’. I didn’t get any photos there because it was a mad house, and I kind of forgot, but I did get a shot of this cabbage like plant outside.

Kinda cool, eh?

From there we headed up to Petaluma, my college stomping grounds. In the three years and change Jim and I have been together, I’ve never taken him up there and shown him around. It was a perfect day to do it. The sun was shining, it wasn’t too cold. It made for a nice walk through the Sonoma State campus.


The main quad at SSU

There were tons of ducks in the lake

My alumni brick

From there we finally met my friend Beth at the outlets in Petaluma (Sonoma State in actually in Rohnert Park…but it’s in Sonoma County, so I guess that works.)

Downtown Petaluma...from my favorite Starbucks!

Petaluma holds a special place in my heart. When I was little, we’d spend weekends at Dillon Beach. The closest city was Petaluma, so when we’d get too bored at the beach while my dad and brothers were fishing, my mom and I and the other girls would go into Petaluma to shop, have lunch, get away from the windy, sandy, cold beach (Northern California, people, NORTHERN).

Also, when I was in college, it was where I worked, and also where I live for two years. It’s the first home I made on my own without my family. I love it there, and even though I don’t live there anymore, it still makes me happy to cruise through the streets of downtown, stop at my favorite Starbucks or bookstore. The only part of Petaluma I am not so fond of is running into my ex….which hasn’t happened in the four years since we broke up and, of course, it would happen the day I bring my husband up.

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I spun around immediately and walked the other way. His head was down, so he didn’t see us, but it was such a weird feeling. It was almost just an instinctive reaction. I don’t remember thinking about it, I just remember my eyes hitting him, then my feet spinning around and rushing away.

But enough of the unpleasantness, there was far more fun to be had!

We met Beth at the outlets….and had a little fun with hats at Saks.


Isn't he cute? LOL


After we’d laughed out butts off, we drove to my favorite Thai restaurant for a late lunch. My favorite dishes are yellow curry and pad thai (of course, right?). This place makes the best I’ve ever had.

And who can eat thai food without a thai iced tea?

The lady who served us (who I think also owns the place) was super nice and brought us, on the house, a small pre-appetizer. It was sticky rice with some sort of tomato sweet and sour sauce. When she brought it to the table she asked us if we knew how to eat. We told her we’d never had it before (which was true. It must have been a new thing), so she proceeded to take Beth’s fork and fill it with rice before spooning some of the sauce on top. We were expecting something incredibly complex, but we went with it. I’m sure it’s not the only way to eat the stuff….

Not sure how we would have managed this without such detailed instructions

I’m not sure we could have asked for a better Sunday (with the exception of seeing the ex…at least I looked good in case he did happen to catch a glimpse!). Of course, it would have been nice if our favorite winery had been open. And I wish I’d taken more photos, but I guess being caught up in the moment is a good reason not to get a shot of every experience.

We even got home at a decent hour, and were able to watch a little bit of tv and cuddle on the couch, my favorite part of most of our Sundays.

January 12, 2012

10 things to be HAPPY about

I used to make a list in my journal every morning of 10 things I should be happy about. At the time I was suffering from pretty serious depression (mostly the kind that made me want to sleep all the time. I want to be clear that it was never bad enough to contemplate ending my life…just sleeping it away), and it was a way to try and bring my spirits up first thing in the morning. Start the day right, if you will.

I’ve since stopped making the lists….I’ve actually only recently started writing in my journal on a regular basis again. It’s quite theraputic…but it takes up a lot of time sometimes if I have a million things to say, which I usually do.

Back to the list. I love reading things like this on other people’s blogs, so I figured rather than writing mine in my journal, maybe I’d write it on the blog instead. Not every day of course, maybe just once a week so I can share what’s going through my head.

#1: My husband

I know that’s probably an obvious one, but I can’t help myself. I still look at him almost every day and think “Wow, I am actually married to that man,” and a little tingle of joy creeps up my spine and fills my heart with happy.

At Bryce Canyon during our month and a half journey around the country


#2: Going to tea with my mom tomorrow

In a particularly bad time in my life, my mom and I stumbled upon a cute little tea room not too far from her house. That tea room has since closed down, but we still make a habit of getting together for tea once in a while to relax and forget about the outside world for a couple of hours.

At the Russian Tea Room in NYC for Mom's 50th birthday


#3: I got to see my nephew today!

Love this little guy!

#4: I got my name change started!

I’ll have my new social security card and driver’s license in about 2 weeks. Then I’ve got to get started on changing my credit cards, insurance, etc, etc, etc.

#5: We FINALLY got our Christmas tree taken down.

I know, I know, the tree is supposed to make you happy. And it did. But now it’s time for Christmas to go back into its boxes until next year.

#6: Our bikes are done.

We took them to the bike shop to be “tuned” and they’re finally ready for us to pick up. We used to go for a ride every Sunday morning, but something happened to mine and the first gear wasn’t working, and let me tell you, hills are no fun without it!

A Sunday ride from about two years ago

#7: I’ve gotten my photography business started.

Okay, I haven’t actually shot it out into the world, but I’ve gotten my paperwork for my business license (I want to go by Stephanie Sutherlin, but it has to be a legal name before I start using it for business) and I have my website all ready to launch as soon as the business is ready. I also have business cards started and I’m working on pricing and policies, etc.  I’m beyond excited!

#8: I finally watched Something Borrowed!

Okay, so the movie wasn’t as good as the book. I wasn’t expecting it to be. But I went over to Jim’s step brother’s house and watched with his wife and daughter and ate a ton of crap I shouldn’t have eaten and drank just a tad too much wine and had an amazing time with a great friend. So I consider it a success.


#9: By the time I finish this post, it’ll be a reasonable time to go home.

I feel like poo, and all I want to do is curl up on my couch with some tea and a box of tissue and do some high quality resting. I may even trade the couch out of this equation for my bed. That’s how ick I feel right now.


#10: I checked everything off my to-do list today.

I made all the calls I’d been putting off. And I addressed all the difficult things at work that I’d put into a stack mentally labeled ” to do later.” And for that reason, I believe I have earned my early leaving.

If you need me, I’ll be the lump under my favorite fuzzy red blankey.

January 12, 2012

Nothing to report

I started writing this post yesterday:

I didn’t post yesterday. I haven’t been feeling well…again. My mom has been on the verge of sick for a few weeks now, and I think she may have passed it on to me. Either way, I’ve decided when I’m sick that I need to really take the resting thing to the greatest heights possible. When I’m sick, I’m tired. When I feel too tired, I feel defeated. I start to think about things and I feel like I can’t do anything because I just don’t have the energy.

So yesterday, as I’m sitting on the couch, I chose to zone out in my book rather than try to come up with something witty or even interesting to write about.

…and I never finished it. I am still not feeling fabulous, and besides the “getting sick” feeling that I’ve got, I feel discouraged. I thought I’d found the perfect solution to my fatigue problem. It was working. And I’m hoping that I really am just feeling under the weather with a bug and not because I’ve gotten back to a place where what I’m doing isn’t helping me feel less tired.

It’s at this point that I would normally give up. Except that aside from feeling better for a period of time, I also believe that the way I’ve been eating is the best for my body. I feel like I’ve made an inherent change not only to what I put in my mouth, but the way I view eating as a concept. I don’t want to eat crap just because it tastes good. I want it to also DO something for me.

So I’m discouraged. I am in need of a new change to make in my habits to test for fatigue improvement. I’m pretty much back to square one. Except…I feel like I’ve made progress. If not in the fatigue department, in the life department. I feel like I’ve made choices that will make me feel better as a whole, and that, my friends, is progress.

Besides, I might still just be sick. We’ll see in a few days!


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January 9, 2012

Scrambled tofu for breakfast

I’m on day five of my new “eating philosophy,” as I’m calling it, since “diet” is such an awful word. So far, I’m pleased with my progress. Since I’m not shooting for the perfect vegan award, I don’t feel like it’s impossible to be successful at what I want to accomplish.

This past weekend, I had a birthday dinner for my husband’s step dad to attend, which consisted of a caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella and basil) and almost 2 slices of the best dang cheese pizza in the world. I couldn’t have given it up, wouldn’t have wanted to. And I didn’t feel guilty eating it because the rest of the day had been entirely vegan. On Sunday night, we went to dinner at a friends’ house and they served pasta with alfredo sauce and bread with parmesan, so of course, I had those too. But again, I did well the rest of the day and I felt okay splurging a little bit on a delicious dinner with good friends.

Life, after all, is best served with a good dose of moderation, yes?

So this morning, I’m back to my happy plan….I like that. I think that’s what I’m going to call it because it makes me feel more alive, more energetic and more HAPPY!

As previously mentioned, I am having scrambled tofu for breakfast.

I’ve never really used tofu as such a direct substitute for eggs before, but it actually tasted really good. I crumbled some extra firm tofu into a pan and sautéed it with some sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach and salt, pepper and a little garlic. I ate a mandarin, a slice of sprouted wheat toast with Earth Balance butter and a soy latte along side it. It was pretty dern delicious.

I’m actually kind of excited about this new plan of mine. It’s the first I’ve ever had that I think I may actually be able to make work. I mean, it makes sense: put food into my body that helps it perform better. What makes more sense than that?