Posts tagged ‘weekends’

May 30, 2013

Ten things to be happy about 5/30/12

I haven’t written one of these posts in a while. I’m not really sure why. But I thoroughly enjoy them and it’s a good practice in gratitude, which everyone can use a healthy dose of every now and then.

 

1. My  brother is bringing me Starbucks! I can’t wait. I am seriously dragging today.

2. Tonight is yoga! When we started, I was nervous about the heat because the place we go to basically only does classes with some amount of heat. It’s been okay, though. I’ve actually been really enjoying it.

3. This weekend is my friend Stephanie’s bachelorette party! We rented a house and we’re spending the weekend relaxing, eating delicious food, and doing all sorts of girly fun stuff.

4. I am almost finished editing photos from Jim’s dad’s wedding! And they turned out pretty great. I’m happy with them. This is one of my favorites so far.

jim and nancy

5. My friend Reanna and I are Costco shopping for the weekend today. I know maybe that makes me kind of lame, but I love Costco!

6. Jim and I are going to Alaska this year! We’ll be spending the 4th of July there as well as attending a wedding of close family friends of mine. I’m beyond excited! Below is one of my favorite photos from our last trip in 2009…too long ago.

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7. I joined a new book club! Two might be a bit to keep up with, but that’s okay. Just another excuse to read more! And I’m really excited about meeting and getting to know a new group of girls. You can never have too many friends…or read too many books!

8. We got a new juicer! Not that there was anything wrong with our old juicer. We’re donating it to a friend, and we upgraded. Our new one can do more greens and also can make almond butter and ice cream, which is really exciting!

juicer

9. I made a really yummy quinoa salad two nights ago. We’ve been eating it for dinner the past two nights, and I have it for lunch today. Just another hour and a half! P.S. I’ll be posting the recipe soon!

10. I got my wedding ring cleaned yesterday! And its so shiny and pretty today.  It’s an amethyst, so it’s purple, and when it’s clean the stone turns to such a dark color. It’s almost like a different ring.

Your turn! What are some things you’re really happy about today?

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May 6, 2013

Summertime White Sangria

I love sangria. Jim loves it too, and whenever we go to Mexican restaurants that serve it, we get a glass…or a pitcher, whatever.

I’ve always wanted to try making my own, but never have had the patience to let it sit overnight and all that. But when we decided to have people over for fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

I searched through our wine “cellar” for a relatively inexpensive bottle of red that I didn’t mind sacrificing (of course there was the potential that this would turn out horribly and waste an entire bottle of wine), and unfortunately I came up short. I didn’t have a single bottle of red wine that I wanted to turn into sangria. So I switched gears. We had TONS of bottles of white because we both enjoy red just a little bit better (until summer comes around anyway), so I decided to make some sangria out of white wine instead.

We popped open a bottle of Rome Valley Vineyards‘ Chardonnay and started making magic!

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Summertime White Sangria

The beauty of sangria is that you can pretty much put whatever fruit into it that you want. I mean sure there’s a traditional recipe, but you can make something completely delicious and unique to your own taste just as easily. I used a handful of different fruits we already had on hand.

2 oranges, sliced

1 lime, sliced

5 strawberries, cut in half, tops removed

5 thin slices of rhubarb

2 shots of triple sec

I bottle of chardonnay (you can use whatever white wine you like or have on hand)

Sparkling water (Mine was lime scented, and I used about 36 ounces, but you can taste as you go. It’s not a science)

Pour your wine into a pitcher. Add fruit and triple sec. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight or for several hours. The longer, the better. When you’re ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water. Serve ice cold in your most beautiful glasses, garnished with extra fruit.

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It turned out pretty dern delicious, if I don’t say so myself. Originally I wanted to use limes, raspberries and peaches, but they only had limes at our local grocery store…you know, the only one open at 10:30 when I decided I wanted to attempt this endeavor. I think I’ll try that combination next time. I’ve also heard people use ginger ale instead of the sparkling water and it gives it more flavor. I didn’t want the added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup. Yuck!), so I will probably always stick with the water.

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Also this weekend, I finally got to play around with my new camera. It does a pretty good job, eh? Here are a few of my favorite shots of Katie that I took. She’s a hard dog to photograph, let me tell you! She’s like my brother when it comes to taking her picture. She always turns away from the camera! So the fact that I got these ones was a miracle in and of itself!

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Isn’t she cute? Just chilling in the grass.

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This one I made a funny sound at her, so she tilted her head as if to ask “what the heck was that?!”

I hope everyone is having a happy Monday! Or at least a not-sucky Monday as Mondays can be pretty challenging.

Have you ever tried making sangria before? If so, did you use a recipe or did you just wing it like I did?

April 4, 2013

Getting away for a weekend

This past weekend, Jim and I were finally able to take a long weekend and do some good relaxing. Even though it meant missing Easter with the families, we took Monday off and spent the weekend at my family’s house on the coast in Northern California. It’s about the most relaxing place I’ve been. The house is beautiful, the view is unparalleled and there’s nothing like the sound of waves crashing against rock to release life’s tensions.

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Of course, we had to overcome a few obstacles before we could actually do any relaxing.

Like find a way to get propane to the house.

We arrived late on Friday night to a little blue card on the door that said the propane tank had been capped off because the account wasn’t current. We called them and apparently the card on file had been declined (we later learned it was because of a fraud alert), and of course, there was nothing they could do until Monday. So we had no heater, no stove, no HOT WATER. Until Jim came up with the brilliant idea to buy a 5 gallon tank and attach it to the line to the house.

So we went down to the cove to find propane.

And walk around the tidal flats a bit.

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And get a delicious fish burger.

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We LOOOOOOOOOOVE our fish burgers!

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Fortunately for us, the general store sold 5 -gallon propane tanks. Full. It looked pretty funny sitting next to the big tank, like it was the little brother tank learning to warm the big house.

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That problem finally under control and we were darn ready for a shower, so we go upstairs to this beauty and turn on the tap. It’s cold. Wait for it. Still cold. A few more minutes. Still like ice. So now we need to find the water heater. But there isn’t one to be found anywhere. We deduce the following: it’s tankless. So we look around some more, and finally I point to the crawl space panel on the ceiling in the master bathroom. “Maybe up there?”

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Except it’s dark, so I go back downstairs for a flashlight. Armed with the light Jim, who is the only one tall enough to even touch the panel let alone get his head into the hole, takes a peek. There are no lights on. It needs to be reset. But it’s quite a ways in there. Jim can’t reach it at all. I told him I’d go find him a poking device, head back downstairs and return with a pool cue. So Jim’s standing on the bench with the flashlight in one hand, the pool cue in another poking at a hole in the ceiling. If he’d been sufficiently clothed I totally would have taken a photo! Instead you get the tools out of place in the bathroom.

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So we take our shower and it’s amazingly luxurious. This shower is Jim’s number one reason for wanting to come to this house. We each get our own lovely shower head, plus body jets. It’s pretty amazing.

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Once we’re done with our shower (it’s about 3p.m. by this point), we’re ready for a snack, so we go back to the kitchen where we left our food on the counter only to find ants crawling all over the dirty pancake batter bowl from breakfast (I left it because it had raw egg in it and I wanted to wait to wash it until we had hot water) and heading for the rest of our food. We quickly moved it all to the kitchen island, checked everything that was open and bagged it all in freezer bags so they couldn’t get in if they found it again. Then we went about killing all the ants we could find and putting traps (which we found under the kitchen sink) by the window where they seemed to be getting in.

Ok, so we’re halfway through the first of our two full days of relaxation and finally we can sit down.

We brought a puzzle, which we put together while partaking in “adult coffees.”

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Katie lounged around the house, being lazy and trying to sneak upstairs whenever she thought we weren’t looking.

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I spent a lot of time reading Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr.  I am thoroughly enjoying it. I bought her Crazy, Sex Kitchen book a few months ago, and was so intrigued by her philosophies that I decided I needed to read Crazy, Sexy Diet too. Initially I turned away from this book because I hate the word “diet.” It’s so unfriendly. But I took a peek inside the book on Amazon, and decided it wasn’t really a diet book, so to speak and bought it anyway. It actually outlines exactly how I want to live my life in regards to what I put in my body and what I expect from it in return. I’ve been a vegetarian for eighteen years, but I feel like I’m ready to take that next step and cut out dairy, eggs and processed foods as well.

Ok, so back to the weekend. One of my favorite movies was on: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Even Jim thinks this movie is hilarious! We sat down with our “nosh” dinner and watched the movie.

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The sunsets up there are absolutely gorgeous, and we were fortunate that the clouds didn’t completely block our view either night.

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Sunday morning we again cooked breakfast on the griddle. We had propane, but we weren’t sure how for five gallons was going to get us, so we didn’t want to waste it where we didn’t need it. After breakfast we took Katie down to the black sand beach. It was really really foggy, but she enjoyed running in the sand and trying to avoid the waves, sniffing around at everything she saw.

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She was a happy pooch.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging, being lazy, doing that relaxing thing. We watched a Friends marathon, followed by a marathon of our favorite show of all time: Monk.

We made sausages (meat for him, veggie for me) on the griddle and ate them with a big salad for dinner.

After dinner we took a bath, one of my favorite parts of this house. Technically it can fit three people and has amazingly relaxing jets and changes colors and makes tons of bubbles and the freaking works. It was amazing. A glass of wine, a few chocolates and we were in heaven. Well, at least I was.

shelter cove15The blanket is up over the window because people finally moved into the house next door. The other window has the sun shade down.

Someone thought it was appropriate to light off fireworks for Easter. We weren’t complaining. They were small, but they were pretty.

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The next morning we packed up and headed home, feeling much more refreshed than when we started. I could have used a week. Maybe not there because there’s so little to do I’d get bored, but a good week vacation definitely must be in my future, hopefully sooner than later.

March 26, 2013

Playing Catch Up

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted. I know, I know. It’s not that weird. It’s sort of what I do. Erratic posting is what I’m all about. And I’m learning something: that’s just who I am. I’m messy and uncoordinated, unorganized, and I’d rather spend my time playing that cleaning.

I’m not even going to apologize about it.

katie helping

Although I must do some cleaning, because here’s an adorable photo of Katie “helping” me fold towels. The pink one is hers.

Anyway, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so I’m going to just get to it.

The past week has been amazingly busy, sort of intense and completely filled with fun.

I think I left you just before St. Patrick’s day. Jim and I have a tradition of Irish Car Bombs. The drink AND the cupcakes. He makes the drinks; I make the cupcakes, and we enjoy too many of both.

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But we have a lot of fun. And somehow I managed to get plenty of photos of the drinks and none of the cupcakes. I guess that’s why we should start with cupcakes?

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Sometimes I make him corned beef and cabbage. But not this year.

st pattys day3This year we had a “nosh” of shamrock shaped ravioli, tater tots with my special “tot sauce”, jalapeno poppers, spinach dip and some sliced tomatoes….for good measure. And, of course, more Guinness.

And while eating this pile of fat, carbs and calories (except for the tomatoes, of course) , we watched a documentary. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Have you ever watched one of these food documentaries? They kind of make you feel terribly guilty about the way you eat. This one was about an Australian named Joe Cross who comes to the US to do a juice “reboot” for 60 days. Over the course of the movie, and under close monitoring by doctors, he looses close to 100 lbs from drinking just juice.

So as Jim and I sat there and ate our greasy feast, something clicked. We looked at our plates, listened to our bellies and decided maybe Joe had something. Of course, we weren’t going to go 60 days on nothing but juice, but we decided to try a week. I may end up writing a separate post about our juice experience, so I won’t tell too much about it right now, but I will say I was really happy with the way it turned out. Not just because I lost a few pounds, but because I feel so much better than I have in a long time.

Our last juice day was Friday because Saturday we celebrated Jim’s sister-in-law’s 30th birthday in Napa. And there was no way we were sipping juice while everyone else sipped Pinot!

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Two of my sisters-in-law. Natalia, on the left and Stefanie, the birthday girl on the right.

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On the bus, getting the day started right! (Like my beautiful forehead in the bottom left?)

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Jim found the only lemon cupcake in the box. He’s probably going to kill me for posting this photo.

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At one of the wineries.

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The whole group of us. They rented a party bus and we spent the day touring different wineries followed by dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Napa. Overall it was a pretty amazing day. Jim and I even managed to sneak away for a little while to visit our favorite Napa winery, Gustavo Thrace. This is the one we did the grape stomping at back in October.

March 11, 2013

Officially Moved In

This weekend we finally had our yard sale, sold or donated the rest of the crap we didn’t need or want and left a big, deliciously empty space in the garage. I figure that, even more than having our housewarming party, means we’re moved in! Of course, now we have to finish organizing what’s left in the garage. But that part’s easy.

The yard sale took up most of our Saturday, and I even remembered to take some photos to post (which I still haven’t really gotten used to doing), but my camera was going whacky on me yesterday (the reason why the rest of the photos in this post are of the lovely cell phone variety). But it’s okay. So is life sometimes. But seriously. It feels SOOOOOO amazing to have all that junk gone. I hate clutter. I hate messes. I hate extra junk. I need to have clean and tidy and put away and that mound of junk was bringing me down.

Anyway, Saturday night we decided to go out to dinner instead of cooking. There was no way I was going to be able to come up with anything besides tater tots and frozen pizza, so we went to sushi instead.

Popcorn Shrimp Temaki

Popcorn Shrimp Temaki

We have a new…I hate to use the word “favorite” because while their Popcorn Shrimp Temaki is probably my favorite hand roll of all time, the rest of their rolls are…well…eh. In fact I almost yacked on the spider roll we ordered. I had to spit it in my napkin. Gross, right? Jim told me to. I wasn’t going to. It’s kind of rude (but then again so is yacking at the table in  a restaurant, right?). Then he held up his left hand, palm toward him, wedding ring toward me, and said “and that’s why it’s okay.” He’s so funny. And he’s right, of course.

Sunday we woke up a bit later than Saturday…and then an hour later than that because of the time change. Stupid time change. I made breakfast, which I usually do. But I have this problem. I can spend one day at home and then I nut up. So since we were home almost all day Saturday, Sunday morning came along and I had a serious itch to get the heck out of the house.

We have a favorite bike trail that we like to ride. It’s about eleven and a half miles around Lake Natoma. There are usually a lot of people…joggers, walkers, people on strange contraptions (like the elliptical machine thing we saw one guy on…wish I’d taken a cell phone photo, but I was about to die about that time), horses along with the bikers?…cyclists? The folk who ride the bikes. Us.

Lake Natoma

However, we decided we wanted to bring Katie. And since she’s not terribly fabulous on the leash yet, and she certainly has never done an 11 mile jaunt attached to a bike before, we chose to walk it instead. (This is the part of the weekend where my camera decided to stop reading the card that was in it and I almost threw it off the bridge into the lake).

Can't believe I had to facebook jack my own photos

Can’t believe I had to facebook jack my own photos

It was a beautiful day. About 70 degrees, warm, a little wind coming off the lake. The trees were green and those that bloom were doing their thing. It felt really good to be out there….until it didn’t. Until we got almost halfway around the lake and realized, hey, walking might be a bigger pain in the ass that bike-riding, not to mention we’re trying to train a dog to walk on the leash here. By the time we finished, four hours later, we were both so beat all we could do was fall into the car. Katie even slept the entire way home.

It was a good thing I already had dinner in the slow cooker (it’s a Cuisinart, not a Crock Pot), or else we would have been going for those tater tots and frozen pizza.

We had a nice evening, though. We watched an episode of Property Wars (anyone else love that show?!) and an episode of…uh…can’t remember the name….they fish for tuna? Jim? Are you reading this? What’s that show called? Anyway, we watched, we ate, we had some ice cream in bed and then we were out.

Unfortunately a bird outside our bedroom window wasn’t aware that the time change didn’t mean he was supposed to sit and squawk at 2 am. Between him and the nice little sunburn I procured on our little walk, I probably didn’t sleep more than three hours all night. And we went to bed early! Hopefully he gets with the program tonight!

January 20, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I’ve been busy in the kitchen this weekend! Well, busy period, but I somehow found a way to whip up two new recipes for you in the midst of cleaning and planning and shopping and otherwise trying to get our house together. I’ll post you an update on the house soon, too, but for now, here’s pancakes!

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I decided to make these because we got some lemons in our Farm Fresh to You box and I haven’t gotten around to coming up with something profound to make with them, and since they’re starting to look a little less than perky, I put them to good use. Jim loves lemons, so I figured he’d enjoy this recipe. And he did.

Blueberry Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1 tbsp baking powder

3ish tbsp flaxseed meal (I like to add it for a little bit of fiber. Go for it. It’s good for you.)

1 egg

1 1/4 cups almond milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 tbsp vanilla extract (if my husband didn’t hate it with all of his being, I would have used almond extract. Feel free to make the change if you’re fortunate enough to have the option. I won’t blame you for deviating)

zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

handful of blueberries

powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder and flaxseed meal. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup (or another bowl), whisk the egg, almond milk, ricotta, vanilla (or almond) extract and lemon zest until they’re just combined and the ricotta is mostly un-lumpy. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the blueberries. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle pan in whatever size you prefer. Meanwhile sift powdered sugar into the lemon juice. Add just enough so that it starts to turn a whitish color and gets a little thick. It’s just a glaze, and since lemons come in different sizes I can’t really tell you how much you’re going to need. Let’s just say, you’re going to keep adding sugar and you’re going to think it’s too much but it’s not. It’s okay. Add a little drizzle of glaze between each pancake in your stack and top with extra blueberries…and why not? A little more glaze on top.

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This recipe makes enough for about three pancakes for two people. That was a little too much for us, so we had two each and a bagged the rest for Jim to take to work.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

December 27, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is over. Gone. Past. Done. Most years I could regale you with how much I enjoyed the season. Baking cookies with my mom. Driving around and looking at houses adorned with millions of tiny colored lights. Making a trek to Nevada City for Victorian Christmas. Picking out the perfect tree and then decorating it whilst sipping cocoa and idly tuning in to a Christmas movie in the background. I could tell you about how my DVR is 92% full with every Christmas movie and special that aired. I’d tell you about shopping trips and adventures in wrapping. And picking a handful of names from the Angel Tree.

Katie "helped" with the little wrapping I did do

Katie “helped” with the little wrapping I did do

But this year I got nothin.

I guess that’s not entirely true. Mom and I did our baking. Granted, it was a seriously condensed version of what we usually bake. Only ten different types of cookies plus fudge. You’re probably laughing because yes, that is a lot of cookies, but we usually do about twice that. I did, however, try several new recipes. I’ll share my favorite with you later. I may have to make another batch because I think they all got eaten before I had the chance to take photos.

We also did get a tree and decorate it and I did make hot cocoa. But we got our tree from Home Depot because it was the week before Christmas and they were the only ones with trees left that didn’t belong at Charlie Brown’s Christmas pageant and we just didn’t have a day free to go pick out and cut down one like we wanted to.

I also did some shopping. Two days before Christmas. And that was all. We bought gifts for nieces and nephews and our parents and the rest got homemade salted caramel hot chocolate…which, by the way, was fabulous in itself. I’ll share that with you soon as well. I actually DID get photos of those. For now, here’s Jim making salted caramel sauce.

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And one of me in the cutesy Christmas apron my grandmother gave me. Jim pretty much made the sauce by himself. I just wanted to pose with my apron.

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We didn’t even hang out stockings this year. We got new ones. Pretty Pottery Barn ones (granted, mine showed up all messed up from the embroidery machine, but it still works. They did give me a refund in case you were wondering), but we also got a new mantle, which was still too tacky after being painted to put anything heavy on. So it held our cards (and Jim’s birthday cards) and stockings lived on the floor.

You'll have to excuse the phone photos. They're all I've got at the moment.

You’ll have to excuse the phone photos. They’re all I’ve got at the moment.

I bet you’re wondering why Christmas was no big thing this year. I mean it was our first Christmas in our first house and it should have been special right? Well, I think that’s part of the reason. We still haven’t really finished unpacking and the house has pretty much taken all of our energy and attention (minus what Katie requires). Christmas more or less sneaked up on us. We have just been too busy. Not to mention I’ve had a nasty bug of some sort for the entire month of December, so I haven’t felt like doing anything. Not even putting our house together. On Saturday, we had our first of four days off and the plan was to work on getting the rest of the stuff in the garage put away, clean the inside, get it all nice looking again. We sat on the couch and watch the first two Lord of the Rings movies instead. And you know what? It felt darn good.

Now that the holidays are essentially over and my cough is finally chilling out, life can start to find its way to normal. I’m excited for the new year, to get settled into our new home, our new life with our new pooch. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be amazing.

How was your Christmas? Do you have big plans for the new year?

November 27, 2012

Finding Happiness

To say that I’ve been busy lately would be an understatement. To say that my life is chaotic at the moment would be one too. And to say that I’m completely and utterly happy would be a third.

In August, when I put together my list of thirty things to do before I turn 30, I added “Learn to be happy in Roseville.” It seemed like such a daunting task. There are so many things about this town that I just despise: the lack of character, the cookie-cutterness of it. The fact that most of the restaurants and stores are national chains and the neighborhoods are a sea of suburban track housing. How could I ever be happy in such blah surroundings?

I’ve always believed that old saying that wherever you go, there you’ll be. Problems and all. That’s probably why I never moved to Boston or London or any of the other crazy locations that I was sure would make life so much better. Don’t get me wrong. I still think I’d rather live in either one of those places, but I was always aware that simply being there wouldn’t change me. I do, however, think I’ve remedied a couple of the major problems that made me feel so strongly about my current locale.

First things first. I am NOT a beige person. I believe our previous housing situation is to blame for my unhappiness in two three four ways. The first is beige. Our apartment, the hallway to our apartment, the exterior of our building was BEIGE. Is there an uglier, less happy color? Secondly, It was roughly the size of a shoebox which meant we had to rent a separate home for all of our pretty wedding gifts, our camping equipment and our childhood mementos in the form of a storage unit. Not to mention, it ALWAYS  looked and felt cluttered and that causes me some serious cognitive dissonance (I’m not a messy person, but there’s nowhere to put it all!). I can not handle clutter (insert involuntary shudder here). Thirdly, it was dark. When you have to turn on a light to see in the kitchen regardless of the hour, there’s no way you’ve got enough natural light. Lastly, I believe that not having a place that was really home was getting to me. I mean sure, we had a place where our stuff lived and where we slept at night and had our nosh and Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew video game marathons on Sunday afternoons, but it wasn’t ours. It was…standard. And it wasn’t enough.

In walks our new house (no, not literally…we actually walked into it, but that’s not the point). Which, by the way, we love. And we OWN. And while it WAS beige when we moved in, now it’s a pretty shade of grey with a touch of blue and more than enough sunlight to satisfy my vitamin D requirements. We’ve put holes in the walls with no regard for a security deposit. As I mentioned before, we painted….the WHOLE HOUSE. We even painted one wall a dark blue and one room a beautiful teal green color. We have a garage for our camping stuff, a big enough kitchen for all of our shiny new wedding gifts and even an entire room just for my books!

I know, I know. “We want to see pictures!” Well, you’re going to have to wait. Because while I’m uuber excited to have enough space for all of our stuff, we are still living in clutter, the clutter of the still-needs-to-be-put-away. So when I get it all together, I’ll write a whole post full of photos of our new house. Deal?

For now, I’ll post this one for you: Our new pooch, Katie.

We rescued her from the SPCA in Sacramento. She’s the sweetest dog, about a year old. She loves to be around people and hates the back yard! Which is too bad for her because she’s going to be spending some time there, especially while we’re still getting stuff put away. Her previous owners brought her to the shelter because they didn’t have enough time for her. She comes to work with me every day, so we don’t have a problem there (and don’t feel so sorry for her for having to spend time in the back yard. She is by no means neglected)! She’s part black lab and part…..we don’t really know. The vet speculates terrier, but she also looks a little like a basenji. We won’t ever know for sure, but we don’t care anyway. We love her regardless of her pedigree.

Katie’s been with us for about two weeks, which means she got to meet the families at Thanksgiving. They all loved her. And we had such a great time seeing all of them. Although there was one person missing at the dinner table this Thanksgiving: Jim’s uncle Ken, who passed away at the end of July. There was a moment toward the end of dinner when I realized that the last time I’d sat at the formal dining table at Jim’s parents’ house had been…I don’t even remember the occasion… but Jim was working late and didn’t make it to dinner. Uncle Ken was being his obnoxious self and terrorizing Jim’s sister, Tricia. It wasn’t a particularly eventful evening or memorable in any way except that he had been sitting across the table from me during that dinner, and now he won’t ever again. Uncle Ken would have loved Katie.

Two Christmases ago, Uncle Ken and his wife, Elaine, spent the holiday in Mexico with my family. Uncle Ken is in black next to me. The guy above him is the bartender at the hotel where they stayed. He’d become part of the family by the end of our trip. And the head in the background to the right of the bartender is my youngest brother, Dan. I can barely remember Uncle Ken without that giant smile on his face. For as much of a pain in the butt as he could be at times, he sure did love life. I’m so glad we got to spend this time with him.

But enough of hanging out on the verge of tears. Life is good. And there’s so much to love about it. Uncle Ken would have been so pissed if he knew we were sitting around crying over him. He’d want us to feel the joy in our lives. And between owning our own home, having a new pooch in our little family, being closer to Jim’s family, and the numerous little things that make life amazing, I think I may just be able to stay happily in Roseville. …for a while anyway.

October 29, 2012

Crazy weekend #4: Disneyland

Last weekend we was our final crazy weekend in October. And it sure was a doozy!

Friday night when Jim got off work, he and my mom and I piled into my car with our formal wear and a giant sack of healthy snacks and hit the road. Sevenish hours later, we pulled up to our hotel and couldn’t fall into bed quick enough (with one exception: we stayed at the Doubletree and they have those yummy chocolate chip cookies? Yea, Mom and I had to eat ours before we slept).

The next morning we forwent arriving at the park when it opened in favor of sleeping a few more hours, which I ended up quite grateful for. More on that later.

We got to the park just after 10 a.m. and spent a few hours with BJ and Ashley before they went back to their hotel for naps (they DID arrive at the park when it opened).

You can tell my coffee hasn’t hit me quite yet in this photo! I did love all the pumpkin decorations they had up for fall though. You can see Minnie Mouse in the background.

After lunch, Mom and Jim and I took off on our own and hit up our favorite rides: Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion (which had insanely long lines due to its new holiday makeover), and we got fast passes for Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Unfortunately, when we went to use our fast passes BOTH rides had just broken down. What the heck kind of bad luck is that? Not to mention, the rides I listed above are pretty much the only ones we got to ride. We didn’t even get to California Adventure because there were SO many people. I haven’t been to Disneyland in the past few years when it’s been this packed.
It really rather put a damper on our day, and made me both thankful and regretful that we slept those extra hours. If we hadn’t, I’d have been cranky as a hungry bear, but we’d also have had more time to go on rides in the morning. Oh, well. It is what it is.

I discovered one cool thing though: there’s a boat with my name in Pirates of the Caribbean!

Cool, huh? No, we didn’t get to ride in it. Our day wasn’t that lucky.

After we waited for about half an hour for Space Mountain to get back up and running, we gave up and went back to the hotel to change for dinner.  BJ and Ashley picked us up a little early and we headed back to the park for Rome Valley Vineyards’ annual winemaker’s dinner at Club 33.

We rode the train from the main gate back to New Orleans Square

We took our annual photo by the door. (Don’t you love how the humidity got to my hair? I look kind of creepy)

Last year’s photo

I believe this was our second…third?..course. Lobster Bisque and Asparagus Baklava. So delicious!

Dessert!!! So yummy! And so sad I only got two bites. 😦

BJ and Ashley. The girl peeking out from behind Ashley is Rachel, the manager (who was very cool, by the way). The guy is Matt. He was our server for my bachelorette party last year. And me and Mommy.

Bachelorette party: Matt’s hiding in the back, third head from the right. He was quite a trooper that night! 🙂

So back to last weekend. Dinner was amazing. So many courses of delicious food, such good wine and a great group of people. Despite some hiccups during the day, the evening turned out really well. Ashley turned 21 a couple of days before, so we celebrated her birthday as well as the new wine from the vineyard. I wish someone had gotten a photo of it, but BJ actually presented me with a really nice framed copy of the new label which I helped design as well as helping name the wine.

We left the park well after closing. It’s one of the coolest things. Picture this: it’s dark. It’s quiet. There are no people anywhere, except those who are cleaning and getting everything ready for the next day. Main Street is deserted. It’s one of the most bizarre and fascinating things I’ve ever seen.

Once back to the hotel, we took another annual photo:

The four of us girls.

Last year’s photo.

And one with Jim, because he’s pretty important too. 🙂

The next morning we got up, met BJ and Ashley and some of their other friends for breakfast and then started our seven hour drive home.

The weekend was short and crazy and fun and exhausting and it made me soooo glad to stay home and veg (and pack!!) this past weekend.  Now we’ve got more craziness ahead as we get to the end of our escrow period just in time for the holiday madness to begin. I guess I’d better start working on controlling my stress because the end is nowhere in sight!

Have a great Monday!!!

October 23, 2012

Crazy weekend #3: Grape Stomping

I told you my October was going to be crammed full of crazy weekends. On the coattails of our anniversary, last weekend we ventured to Napa to our favorite winery’s first annual grape stomping event.

Have you ever seen the movie Bottle Shock? If you like wine, I recommend you see it asap. It’s about a 1976 blind tasting competition between French wines and California wines, which kind of sounds totally boring, but it’s more about the time leading up to the competition. It centers around Chateau Montelena, a failing winery in the Napa Valley as well as a struggling immigrant, Gustavo Brambila who works the fields there.

Jim and I love this movie, so two years ago for his birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Napa to see Chateau Montelena as well as GustavoThrace, the winery that Gustavo Brambila eventually established with his business partner Thrace Bromberger.

Anyway, long story short, we loved GustavoThrace and we vowed to return as soon as we could.

Well, it’s been two years and we just managed to find the time to do it. And only because they offered a living social deal for it (interestingly, the same day I found the one for Monterey). We were beyond excited and knew we had to do it.

And it hadn’t changed a bit. At least in the good ways. The firs time we went down, we were treated more like family than customers. And upon meeting the rest of Gustavo’s family, we learned that that’s just the way they do things. They’re not like most businesses that put money before any thing else. They put people first. Then wine. And the, because everyone’s gotta eat, money.

But back to the event. It was their first annual, so everyone was new to the process. They decided to have a little fun with it instead of people just jumping in buckets and smushing grapes between their toes. When we arrived, we chose a colored bandana that identified which team we would be on. Over the course of our time there, we were to create a label for our new wine, which was a merlot and after the stomping was over, the labels were all judged and a winner chosen based on creativity, presentation and design.

And our group won! I wish I’d taken a photo of our label, but I did get one of all of our team with Gustavo.

And I got a few of the stomping itself.

Before stomping:

In the bucket:

After stomping:

It was actually quite chilly and the stems poked my feet. It was definitely an interesting new experience. I’d do it again. 🙂

Ok, I know I’m backed up…a whole weekend to be exact. But last weekend’s post is comin up soon!