Friday, August 31, 2007

Aloooha!

Today is my last day at work before our big vacation starts bright and early Sunday morning. The reason for this trip is two-fold:

1. My husband has been working like a madman since Februrary and he is due for a bit of a break so that he doesn't start to look like this:

2. The second reason is to celebrate this:
We'll be celebrating our 2 year anniversary in a little over a week, which is crazy to me because it feels like we've been together forever (in a good way though)!

Hawaii, Maui in particular, holds a very special place in our hearts because a) it was the first place we went on a "real" vacation together and b) it was where we got engaged (two separate trips btw). And let me just tell you, the engagement was a rockin' success. Dinner at Mama's Fish House and then a complete lie to me about how he needed to "sober up before we drove back" so we headed out to the beach to let him "sober up" (right, like a walk on the beach was going to do that. don't really know why i bought that story, but whatevs). Anywho, as we're walking, he stops me and tells me that he loves me and some other very nice things I'm sure --- this is where I knew what was coming and well, I sort of went deaf for a moment --- and then he got down on one knee and proposed. I said Yes! followed quickly by a "I thought you'd never ask!" and then we proceeded to be giggly and stupid for the rest of the night.

But, here is where it gets interesting. We head back towards the restaurant and a fairly normal looking guy comes up to us and asks if we want him to take our picture. Why, it's like he read our minds! Oh, but it gets better. He sheepishly proceeds to tell us that he saw Jim get down on one knee to propose and he said he always remembered his sister saying how much she wished she had pictures from her actual proposal. So... he took out his camera and started taking pictures. By the time he started shooting, Jim had already stood up, but he caught the rest of it. And we were in such a giddy haze that we were ecstatic to hear this!! (Granted, later that night, this sort of creeped us out a bit, but hey, he hasn't stalked us, so I guess it's all good). He gave us his email, said to drop him a line when we got back to the mainland and he'd send over the pictures. I did just that and this is highlight of what he sent:

Pretty crazy right? I absolutely LOVE the last one as it is kind of artsy. So yeah, Maui is a pretty special place for us.

The real point of this post is to say the blog will be neglected for the next two weeks as Jim and I will be sitting on a beach, drinking mai tais and *hopefully* staying far far away from the computer. A full recap though when I return.

Cheers everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's all about ME!

So, I was tagged by Aline and Mrs. P to share 8 things about myself. The previous game was to share 7 fun facts (you can see that here), so this is upping the ante a little bit. Sorry in advance if you already know these, but here goes:

1. I did not drink until I was officially 21. Sure, this may not be ground-breaking news, but let me also add that I was in a sorority in college. And not one that revolved around academics. Crazy, right? And yet, I was always welcome for outings as I made a great DD for those few years. Even today, I'm still very much a light-weight when it comes to drinking.

2. I have never gotten an electronic personal organizer (e.g. PDA), but instead still use a zipper-bound paper one. What can I say, I'm old-school like that. I also cannot bear to throw out the pages from 2005 that coincide with the week of our wedding and honeymoon. Instead, they sit there at the front of the organizer as a pleasant reminder of being married and what a fantastic time we had in Europe.

3. When I was 17, I tried out for "All-Stars" at cheerleading camp and was the only girl from our squad to be invited to Paris to cheer/dance in their New Year's Parades. It was an unbelievably fun trip! My mom came with me and we made friends with a group of other girls and their moms while we were there. Several girls were there solo, so we sort of "adopted" them into the group and we spent the next week basically attached at the hip. We were from all over the US, so we lost touch after the trip, but it was really an experience of a lifetime.

4. I'm *slightly* obsessed with organization and my closet reflects that. My clothes are organized by color and then within each color by type (e.g. sleeveless, then short sleeved, then long sleeved tops). My shoes are all in clear plastic boxes stacked neatly in shelves. People are actually speechless when they see it. Yes, I'm crazy. Yes my husband knew this before he married me. But, it really makes picking out clothes quite easy.

5. I once dated a guy that was my TA in college. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but the class he TA'd was over before we started dating or even flirting with each other. That is probably the most scandalous thing that I did in college. Ha!

6. When I was 21, I went through a phase where I really wanted a baby. I seriously don't know what I was thinking! It lasted all of a month, then I came to my senses. And now? Um, yeah, the closer I get to 30, the more I want to wait even longer to have kids. This pleases my husband to no end.

7. I'm love pens! Have since elementary school when Sanrio was biggest thing ever. I still love buying new pens, but I'm very picky about what I like. I prefer fine tip with a smooth ink flow. The pentel RSVP pens are my current favorite, but I'm always on the look out for new ones to try out.

8. My initial plan in college was to become a doctor. I went so far as to take the MCAT and then decided that the life of a doctor just wasn't for me. I instead went to grad school for Public Health and never looked back. It's a decision that I've never once regretted and in many ways I think it was one of the better decisions I've made in my life.

Most everyone has already been tagged for this so I think I'm out of options for tagging other folks. :-(

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So much to tell, so little time....

I've really gotten into the habit of blogging nearly every day... but then last week my computer died. As in, it needs serious professional help. Boooo! Work has been crazy and so my blogging has been cut drastically short this past week. And the really sad part is that there has been so much fun stuff going on to blog about. Hmph! So, while many of these events could be an entire blog post in and of themselves, I'm instead just doing a short recap of the past week and trying to squeeze in highlights of everything. Sorry in advance for the long, jumbled post.

Fantasy Football

Thursday night my husband and I attended a Fantasy Football Draft dinner with some of his co-workers. We are sharing a team, which should be fun seeing as how I watch far more football than I care to admit. This dinner though was intense. The host had ordered this whole fantasy football draft kit, the picks were posted online in real time on the team forum so that those who couldn't attend could keep up with who was already taken, there was food galore and a full bar set-up, etc etc. The make-up of the attendees was quite the mix. Swinging bachelors dropping the f-bomb at every turn, a few married childless couples and several guys with wives who were due any day now. While Jim does work crazy hours, his co-workers are a riot and I always have so much fun at events with them and this one was no exception. Regular season kicks off in a little over a week --- stay tuned for updates!

Brother-in-law Birthday Dinner

Friday night we headed to PF Changs for a birthday dinner for Jim's middle brother. The group included my in-laws, Jim's youngest brother and his girlfriend, Jim, me and the birthday boy. Great food, great conversation, lots of laughs. I declined wine at dinner because I was driving and I got the "Oh, why aren't we drinking tonight there Amber? Hmmm...." from my mother-in-law, followed by lots of giggles. I love her to pieces, but I don't have the heart to tell just how far away we are from having babies. Also, my youngest brother-in-law and his girlfriend are the cutest! Everytime I hang out with them, I like her more and more as an individual, but also think they make a really good pair. Yes they're young, but I wouldn't be surprised if they wind up dating for a long time and eventually wind up married... which would please me to no end. You know, I'd prefer to not have to deal with the crazies as my sisters-in-law.

Baby Shower

Saturday I attended a baby shower for my dear friend Wan. WeeMo, Wan, and R all did a great job of re-capping the day complete with pictures and everything. Needless to say it was a very fun afternoon and I can't wait to see Wan's little bean very soon!

Sunday Brunch

Sunday morning was another fun GTG with a bunch of cool chicks from LA and OC. WeeMo again did a fantastic job summing it all up. The food was fab, the company was even better and I can't wait to meet up with the gals again soon!

The rest of the weekend was filled with a blur of laundry, cleaning the apartment, finishing up birthday party invites for a co-worker's daughter and getting ready for the week. Good times. We only have a few days left til we are officially on vacation and I cannot wait. This week is jam-packed with hitting the gym, tying up loose ends before the trip and packing. Wheeee!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Night #2 sans husband

Last night was the second night in a row with the hubs staying at the office til the wee hours of the morning. He is getting just slammed right now at work and while this has happened before, I feel particularly bad for him this time. It all started this weekend --- he worked from home both days, but it was serious work. He literally didn't leave the apartment either day and was up late both nights working away. Monday was much of the same with him staying late, coming home for a quick late dinner and then continuing to work for several hours. Tuesday night was an all-nighter (I think he got home around 5am) and last night he stayed until maybe 2 or 3ish this morning. My normally chipper and happy husband just sounds beat down and depressed. This is the same guy that even after pulling a series of all-nighters in law school and being stressed beyond belief, would still perk up when I called and not let on how stressed out he really was.

This time is different. I can almost hear the stressed out expression on his face when I call to check in at night, but the worst part is there isn't anything I can do to improve the situation. So instead I worry about him and pray that things let up a little in the next week and a half or so. I've already resigned myself to the fact that he is going to have to bring his blackberry with us to the beach on our vacation and he going to have to do some document editing a couple of nights too, but I hope that the whole trip isn't consumed with him having to work. The reason for this vacation was that he needed to get away and have a bit of a break. If the mobile office is going to be a constant on the trip though, it sort of defeats the purpose.

Tonight we are going to a fantasy football draft dinner (more on that tomorrow), which should actually be a lot of fun. And there will no doubt be an abundance of good beer and yummy food so that should help a little. I just hope he is able to get some sleep tonight so he doesn't totally crash and burn over the next few days. :(

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Music to my ears

I have recently realized that if it wasn't for my TV addiction, I'd rarely have new music to download from itunes. As my husband has pointed out more than once, I'm a total sucker for a montage---you know, when they show a bunch of different scenes from several plotlines and set it all to a background song. Well, I can't get enough of them! Some of my favorite shows, such as Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill and Grey's Anatomy, are notorious for them. And while some may argue these programs are not the most high-brow television out there (my husband, for one -- I think he'd rather gouge out his eyeballs than sit through an episode of any of the above listed shows), they are suprising in that they tend to use really good music! Combine that with SYTYCD, which also uses some really great stuff, and I seem to have a never-ending list of new songs I need to download.

Some of the songs that I'm particularly digging right now are:

Mellow:
Switchfoot - Dare You to Move
Elisa - Dancing
Ryan Adams - Two, Everybody Knows
Paolo Nutini - Million Faces, Last Request
Travis - Closer
Robin Thicke - Lost Without U, Can You Believe
Ray LaMontagne - Hold You In My Arms, Within You
James Morrison - This Boy

Work it out:
Eve - Tambourine
Ciara - Get Up
JT - Love Stoned
Timbaland - The Way I Are
Christina Aguilera - Candyman
Ne-Yo - Because of You
Sean Paul - (When You Gonna) Give It All To Me

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another weekend gone

On Thursday I realized that I had absolutely no plans whatsoever. This is something that only happens to me about every 6 months or so, so I was stoked! A whole weekend to do whatever I wanted with no prior commitments to get in the way. Here is what a lazy, "fly by the seat of your pants" weekend looks like:

Friday

After work I swung by Beverly Hills to run some errands and pick up a box of Frittelli's doughnuts. In addition, I had to get some invite supplies for my co-worker's daughter's birthday party from Paper Source and I ran through Banana Republic to pick up a few tank tops for our upcoming vacation. While at Banana Republic, I spotted an adorable pair of glen plaid wool pants in black and white with a hint of pink in them. I tried them on and they fit perfectly! So those came home with me too. Oops!

That night, Jim picked me up after work and we ran out to Costco to stock up on some essentials (paper towels, wine, plastic cutlery for the office, snacks, etc etc), we grabbed a pizza for dinner and called it a night.

Saturday

We woke up and tried the doughnuts I had picked up the night before. I had the lemon glazed doughnut, he had a raspberry glazed doughnut and we split a vanilla latte cake doughnut. I really really wanted to love them, but they were just okay. Maybe it had to do with them being a day old, but I wasn't impressed. I'll probably give them another shot, but I was sad they didn't knock my socks off.

After a stop at the gym for step class and a long chat with my very pregnant step teacher, I headed to Century City mall to look for a new strapless bra. Now, I'm not the most well endowed girl, which is fine, but the selection of strapless bras for small-chested gals at Bloomingdales was dismal at best. I have previously had luck with the Wacoal petites line (ironic because at 5'6" with long legs for my height, I'm anything but petite... guess my chest is though. hmph!) and I did manage to find a few hanging in the back corner, but they were all one cup size smaller than what I normally wear. On a lark, I decided to try one on. Um, yeah, it fit. Like it fit really well. That is just great. I guess the few pounds I've lost have all come off my chest. Someone mentioned to me that since the area is mostly adipose tissue, if you're losing body fat, your chest is going to get smaller. Well that's great and all, but last time I checked, my backside was mostly adipose tissue too, but I'm not noticing a huge decrease in size back there! Anywho, I guess I should be glad I found one because what I thought was a dismal selection at Bloomies looked like a gold mine in comparison to what I found at several other large department stores. Good times.

That night I made lamb for the hubs (thank you trader joes!) with mashed potatoes from scratch and roasted asparagus. Between the dinner, a bottle of red and old episodes of Nip/Tuck (best trashy show ever btw) it was a very mellow evening.

Sunday

Yesterday was the ultimate lazy day. Got up late, had breakfast, lounged around on the couch watching re-runs of One Tree Hill (yes, I love that show. what?) and tried not to melt in our apartment. In the late afternoon I finally ventured out to pick up a baby shower gift for a friend, a birthday gift for another co-worker's daughter (more on the baby gifts in an upcoming post) and groceries for the week. I had planned on doing laundry, but I just never worked up enough motivation to get it done. Oh well.

Last night I tried a new salmon recipe for dinner -- pan-seared salmon with a savory sour cream and dill sauce and shaved cucumber with dill -- and it was pretty good. Made my lunch for Monday, laid out my clothes for work and called it a night.

Sadly, my husband didn't figure much into this weekend as he worked from home the entire time. As in, didn't step foot out of the apartment from late Friday night until this morning when he went to work. It was really sad.

:-(

Upside --- only 13 days til we leave for Hawaii! woohoo!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oh Starbucks, how I love thee....

Amongst our friends it is a well known fact that Jim and I are both addicted to coffee. He may be slightly more obsessed with the stuff than I am, but I'm running a very close second. I mean, we're the couple that registered for 3 different coffee-making type appliances for our wedding --- and all of them get regular use.

Most nights before going to bed, Jim gets the coffeemaker all set for me to turn on in the morning when I wake up. [Side note: We have very different work/sleep schedules. I'm in bed by 10pm and up by 5:30am. Jim, on the other hand, rarely makes it to be before midnight and sleeps until 8-ish] The coffee brews while I'm in the shower, I fill up my pink metal Starbucks travel mug and leave the rest for him to take into work later. It's a perfect system really.

Anywho, the last 2 nights Jim hasn't made the coffee --- Monday night he was too busy getting to bed super early so he could wake up at 4:30am to be in SD for a hearing at 8:30am, fun... on opposite day; last night he got the machine all set up... just forgot to put the grinds in the filter, gave me a great laugh this morning --- and quite frankly, I am just too lazy/still half asleep to do it myself when I get up. So the last 2 mornings I have have taken my little pink mug with me empty and stopped at a Starbucks on the way in to work.

While I love our system of making coffee at home --- both for the convenience factor and it being easy on the budget --- I always forget how much I love fresh brewed Starbucks coffee from the shop itself. It just smells stronger and tastes better than anything we're able to make at home. I tend to smile a little with every sip and it just makes the morning that much better.

Tomorrow we'll be back to our regular coffee system, but right now I'm enjoying my little Starbucks treat. Mmmm, mmmm good!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

my ipod: a history


Stats
Name: ipod mini
Color: pink
Capacity: 4GB
Condition: slightly beat-up, but still kickin'

My ipod is not the newest model on the block, but I will have this little gal til she finally bites the big one (hopefully not anytime soon). Why, you ask? Ah, that is a good question, but requires a look way back to 2004....

After my husband finished law school in '04 he moved back to LA to clerk for a year. We got engaged the summer before he started clerking, so by the time September rolled around, we (well, really me, but whatevs) were knee-deep in wedding planning and pinching our pennies for all the upcoming festivities over the next year. On top of that, I chose not to move in with him for the year we were engaged (too long of a story for this post), but instead made frequent trips back and forth between our two apartments: mine in Redondo and his in Beverly Hills.

We knew before he started his clerkship that he was going to be working for an amazing judge, but one that demanded a lot of time. "A lot" wound up being 7 days a week, 10-14 hours a day for the entire year. Yup, you read that right. I think I can count on 2 hands how many completely free days he had that year. Granted, it was all worth it in the end, but it was grueling while he was going through it.

To help alleviate some of the strain, I started to play "good wife" before we had made it official and fell into a habit of sending him to the office with breakfast, lunch and dinner all prepped and ready to pop in the microwave whenever he finally got a spare second to eat. Since I couldn't help him do the work, at least I could make sure he was properly fed. I mean really though, that was about the extent of the help I could provide.

Skip ahead to Valentine's Day. We promised not to spend much on each other because of the upcoming honeymoon and other wedding expenses. No problem. I got him I think a new coffee mug and a DVD or something and called it a day. That night, we did take out from Cheesecake Factory for dinner and he swung by to pick me so I could go with him to get the food. I get in the car and start chatting away. He then says that maybe I should look under the blanket on the floor. And there is a small little box with a pink ipod mini inside.

What? Why? We said we weren't going to get anything big for each other! And there is a silly little coffee mug and some stupid DVD back at the apartment for him ... and that is it. Ack!

He tells me to just wait a second and explains that he really wanted to let me know how much he appreciated the fact that I was sending him with food everyday, keeping his apartment somewhat organized and basically being so understanding of the crazy schedule he was keeping. And just wanted to say thank you for everything. Hence, the adorable little pink ipod that was now sitting in my lap. Best. Gift. Ever. (okay, maybe the e-ring was better, but just barely)

Since that night, my little pink ipod has been with me everywhere. It accompanies me to the office, on flights, to the gym, in the car... you name it, and my ipod is there. I love it not just because it is an ipod---because let's be honest, they are just inherently cute---but because of what my specific ipod means to me and the reason for which I came to own it. So even though I think all the newer, smaller and more colorful models are cute and sassy, I don't have any plans to upgrade mine. Instead, I'm just hoping my little gal holds on for at least a few more years.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend in Review

Why is it that the weekend is never long enough? I even had Friday off and it still didn't seem like enough time to get everything done. Sigh. I'm tired and the week hasn't even started yet. Even so, here is the weekend rundown (albeit not a very creative one):

Friday:

  • Got up at a decent hour, made breakfast and cleaned the kitchen.
  • Made it to an early afternoon step class.
  • Ran some errands in Beverly Hills (thankfully traffic wasn't too icky) and then did some light grocery shopping.
  • Made dinner and relaxed with the hubby on the couch with a bottle of red wine and watched Chinatown.

Saturday:

  • Made breakfast at home, watched some news, straightened up the apartment a bit.
  • Tried a new ballet stretch class and a bollywood dance class --- both of which were a lot of fun and well-worth the money. Will definitely be back to both.
  • Worked on baby shower invites (can't post them here b/c I don't want to spoil them for the guest of honor).
  • Did 5 loads of laundry (how 2 people can create so much laundry is beyond me; I can only imagine what happens when you add a kid to the mix. yikes!).
  • Walked over to the Grove for dinner at Marmalade Cafe. Sat next to a family with several small children and was shocked at how well-behaved they were. I'm kicking myself for not mentioning this to the mom --- I'm sure she would have liked to hear how much we appreciated her (and her husband's) efforts at teaching her kids table manners.
  • Spent the rest of the night on the couch folding laundry while watching a double feature of 48 hours mystery.

Sunday:

  • Met Kelly at the Farmer's Market in Hollywood for some early morning shopping. Picked up some beautiful berries (they tasted as good as they looked) and some heirloom tomatoes. Can't wait to go back next week.
  • Finished off the baby shower invites.
  • Went to a lyrical jazz class in the late afternoon (yes, I fully realize I'm on a total dance kick, but it's like I just can't stop.)
  • Made dinner, packed up my lunch for today, finished straightening the apartment and then collapsed into bed fairly early.

See, too much to do and not enough hours to do it. The kicker of all this... I slept horribly last night and somehow still managed to pop out of bed right when my alarm went off instead of hitting snooze 3 times (my usual morning habit). This meant I actually had time to not only get ready, but also put away the clean dishes, put gas in the car and still make it to work early. I'm really hoping the rest of this week goes as smashingly well as this morning.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

All it takes is a Spark

As some of you know, I love to dance. I started taking lessons at a small studio in Northern CA when I was 6 and stayed with it til I left for college at 18. I was definitely a big fish in a small pond though, so when I got to college I took a couple of classes, but for the most part I didn't keep it up. Great dancers are a dime a dozen in LA and competition is fierce, even in small laid back classes. Fast-forward several years and I was missing the fact that I wasn't dancing regularly anymore. I started taking the odd class here and there and have been dancing somewhat consistently ever since. I've lucked out in finding instructors and classes that are challenging, but also welcoming to newcomers and those that aren't professional dancers, but who are just there to have fun.

Three years ago, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) debuted over the summer and I couldn't have been more excited! Being able to watch great dancers and choreographers each week was such a treat and it's been the highlight of my summer TV watching for the past 3 seasons. Shane Sparks has been one of my favorite choreographers from the get go and I always look forward to seeing what he comes up with each week. Late last month, I stumbled across an announcement that he was teaching hip hop twice a week in LA at a large, well-known studio and started toying with the idea of taking one of his classes. Crazy, right? I mean, this is a man that draws upwards of 100 folks per class he teaches and is so good that celebs like JT and Missy Elliot will just drop in to work on their moves. After much hemming and hawing and a good pep talk from another dance instructor, last night I finally made the drive out to Millenium to take his class. Eeek!

I was really nervous yesterday leading up to the class, but once I actually got there I was suprisingly calm. I paid and signed in and then watched the 17 and under class Shane was teaching to scope out the choreography and judge how in over my head I was going to be. About 20 minutes later, the kids were finished and it was a mad dash by the adults to get into the room and get a good spot on the floor. To say it was a packed class would be an understatement. If there was one person, there had to be 80, easy. But instead of being nervous, I started to get excited. This was going to be fun!

His assistant put us through a quick 5 minute warm-up and then it was time to start dancing. The rules were laid down quickly: this is an adult class, it's going to move fast, so keep up. We learned the first 4-eight counts of choreography (to a remix of Ciara's 'Get Up'), drilled it a couple times and then were asked to assemble ourselves into groups of 5. I thankfully found myself paired with 2 talented young guys and girls (yes, I was the old married hag of the group) and we were then taught the opening 6-eight counts that included formation changes and a lot of freestyling. So far so good.

From there, 2 groups at a time were asked to come to the middle of the floor to perform. I was shocked at how supportive the group was --- hootin' and hollerin' for each other, totally into watching each other dance. It was amazing that a group this size could feel so intimate, but it did. And then it was our turn. I think we did well and went full out and overall I was pleased with our performance.

After everyone had a turn, Shane announced that it was getting late and that we couldn't get through everyone again, so he was going to ask 2 groups to come back and perform one more time and then he was going to call it a night. The first group called back was spectacular the first time around and everyone was excited to see them again. Talk about totally playing with the choreography and making it their own. Awesome!

Then there was a pause, he looked around and next thing I know... my group is headed back to the dance floor!!! No freaking way!!! I only had a second for it to register and my first thought was "O. M. G! I am going to be dancing in front of f'ing Shane Sparks with only 4 other people on the floor with me!!!" And instead of getting nervous, my next thought was "Okay, let's do this!"

That 1 minute on the dance floor was so beyond exhilirating, I can't even try to describe it. I think it is basically what people would describe as a natural high. After we finished, he thanked everyone for coming and then the class disbursed. A lot of the students had come in from all over the US for a dance intensive workshop with Millenium, so a line of girls was forming around him to take a picture with him before they left. I, on the other hand, just wanted to go say thank you. I managed to get up to him before the line of girls started getting antsy and was able to make eye contact.

I think I had a grin on my face from ear to ear as I thanked him for an amazing class and told him that I had an awesome time. He must have said thanks or maybe good job or something... my mind is a little fuzzy on that part because at the same time he leaned in and gave me a big hug! [thud] O. M. G. Even just remembering it puts that silly grin back on my face! My feet were literally not touching the floor as I walked out of the studio and back to my car. The whole experience could not have been more perfect if I had planned it all out myself.

It took me over 25 years to get to a point where I would go and try something new without wondering what people would think of me; of being so fearful of doing it poorly that I wouldn't try it in the first place. That stops here though. The whole class was fun, but beyond that, it was such a boost to my self-confidence. I might now have been the best in the class, but I was definitely able to keep up. I can't wait til I can go back and take his class again. And who knows, I might just start sampling other classes there as well!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

my husband, master impressionist


As I was typing my earlier blog entry, my husband was sitting next to me on the couch doing some work on his laptop. While he can be very serious at times, when we're by ourselves we are known to get really silly with each other. Okay, so I'm sitting here on the couch and somehow he mentions his blackberry. I have no idea how one thing led to another, but next thing I know he is impersonating his blackberry. He starts making the beeping/vibrating sound and then blinking his eyes like the way the light blinks when a new message is received. For some reason this struck us both as completely hilarious -- like laughing so hard we were crying hilarious. It's moments like this that I know I picked the right one.

Sometimes it just takes one

I had plans tonight to meet a friend at Runyon Canyon to catch up and get a cardio workout in at the same time. I changed at work and drove straight there. I got a voicemail message after I already found a parking spot that told me she had a family emergency and that we'd have to re-schedule. I was a little bummed, but hey, stuff happens. And when it's family stuff, of course that is going to trump a silly evening hike. I got back in my car and started for home.

After getting about 3 blocks down the street I thought "this is silly! i'm already here, dressed and ready to go. why am i driving home?" So, I turned the car back around, re-parked the car, grabbed my water and ipod (thank god I remembered to throw it in my bag) and off I went! I cannot explain how proud of myself I was for continuing with my original evening plans even though it meant I was solo. I had a great time enjoying the view, getting some fresh air and watching all the dogs exploring the trail.

My friend and I are going to re-schedule our joint hike for later this week, but somtimes things happen for a reason. I am now totally comfortable going there for a hike by myself and it's something I'm looking forward to adding to my usual line-up of workout activities!

I'm officially an ice cube


While it may very well be summer, there is absolutely no need for our office to be 60 degrees right now. That's right folks, I'm sitting here bundled up like it's the middle of winter because the thermostat is set ridiculously low and there is no way to reset it. Booooo!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Birthday Dinner -- Take 2

Since my real birthday fell on a Sunday this year, we decided to celebrate Saturday night instead. I have been so excited since learning that Chef Tom Colicchio had opened an LA outlet of his famous NY restaurant Craft last month and Jim was a doll to make reservations there for us for my birthday dinner. Woohoo!

After getting all dressed up (yes, it is LA where jeans are allowed almost everywhere, but it was my birthday and I wanted to look fancy!) we took off for Century City for our 7pm reservation. The front of the building is very modern looking with lots of light wood and glass. After stepping inside a very chic and open interior the hostess informed us that they had outdoor seating and would we be interested. Sure, why not? We get seated and then realize we did not make a good selection. It was quite windy and pretty chilly. And not a heat lamp to be seen. Hmmm, this is not starting off very well. Before I give you the wrong impression though, I should point out that once the waiter came over (and very promptly I might add), he mentioned that fire code was such that they were not able to have heat lamps on the patio b/c the main building was too close to allow them to be used safely. They were working on installing a heating system on the floor of the patio and that it should be up and running in the next 3 weeks or so. In the meantime, they had a supply of black pashminas that guests could use to help stay warm.

It probably would have been better to just move inside, but I felt bad asking for a change of table, so we braved the chilly weather and dug into the menu. Where do I even start? The menu is a long flat rectangle that lists first courses to the left, main entrees down the middle and sides to the right. Everything sounds fantastic and we both have trouble deciding what to order. I started with a raspberry lemon mojito and the heirloom basil seed salad while Jim ordered a Chimay and the tuna and pickled jalapeno. Before our appetizers were served, an amuse bouche came out (how fun!) -- a small toast point with a little egg, salsa verde and white anchovie on top. While it may not have been something I would have ordered, it was pretty tasty.

Everything comes family style, so the appetizers were placed in the middle of the table so we would have an easy time of going back and forth between the two. The heirloom tomatoes were sooo good -- perfectly ripe and seasoned so that the natural flavor was enhanced, not overpowered. The tuna tasted very fresh, but as Jim mentioned, he would have liked to have had more to get a better idea of how good it was.

For dinner, we ordered the braised short ribs, halibut with salsa verde, roasted asparagus and gratin potatoes. The presentation was beautiful (clean and not overdressed) and the food did not disappoint. The short ribs were tender and had a great flavor, while the salsa verde had a saltiness to it that totally gave the halibut a different taste that was expected, but in a good way. The gratin potatoes were a huge surprise as they were different from any others we have tasted from a restaurant. It's hard to put my finger on what was different, but they were and they were really really good!

For dessert I opted for the chocolate souffle and Jim ordered the "Studies" in blueberry. Another amuse bouche preceeded dessert -- melon soup with cucumber sorbet -- that was did a great job of cleansing the palate. The souffle was to die for!! Perfectly cooked and lots of deep chocolate flavor. The side of hazelnut ice cream was a nice touch too. The study is an interesting concept that was pulled off well. The bottom of the bowl came with fresh blueberries on one side and blueberry compote on the other. On top was a scoop of blueberry ice cream and blueberry gelato. Sounds strange, but it was actually really nice. I'm not a huge blueberry fan though ( I'd probably try the strawberry study next time), but Jim really liked it.

Even with the chilly weather, the meal was delicious and the whole experience was one I'd like to do again (but with maybe a heater or two!)On top of this wonderful dinner, I also got a new brown leather Kate Spade bag from Jim! I love it so much and it's perfect for fall. Needless to say I had a very happy birthday!

Birthday Dinner -- Take 1

Thursday night was my father-in-law's official birthday and with mine being just 3 days later, we are now in the habit of doing a joint birthday dinner celebration with my husband's family. Jim and I along with his 2 brothers made the trek down to the south bay for a wonderful home-cooked meal by my mother-in-law, lots of yummy dessert and presents. Fun!

Fresh grilled salmon was on the menu accompanied with mac n cheese, salad, sweet corn on the cob and bread. Mmmmm! After stuffing ourselves on an abundance of food, out came not 1, but 2 cakes --- one for me and one for my father-in-law. We blew out our candles and then proceeded to cut into the yummy cakes; lemon chiffon and red velvet. Have I mentioned how much I love cake?

Midway through dessert out came the presents. My father-in-law got a new pair of shorts from the boys, a white polo (by request) from us and a new laptop from his wife. He was beyond excited, but the requests for techy help from the boys started immediately. :-)

As my brother-in-laws pointed out, I am usually the recipient of "domestic" type gifts, which sounds bad, but I love getting stuff for our home especially if it is stuff for the kitchen or entertaining. My in-laws got me a dark wood 3-tier stand and from the boys I received a box of baking goodies (2 cupcake holders, brownie mix, 3 cans of sprinkles cupcake mix and a spatula). Guess who is going to be baking this week? :-)

We stayed way too late, especially in light of having to wake up early the next morning for work, but it was a really fun night and great to catch up with everyone while having a big family dinner!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wacky Wednesday

Yesterday morning I had a dr. appt --- not a huge deal, but it did mean I had to take the morning off of work. After fighting horrendous traffic on Wilshire I finally made it to Westwood, got up to the office, signed in and took a seat. The receptionist then called my name.

Receptionist: Amber, we don't have you on the schedule today. Your appt is actually on the 17th.
Me: That is true, but I came in 4 weeks ago to pick up a prescription and changed the appt in person to today at 10am. [pointing to the other receptionist] Actually, she is the one that changed it for me.

Receptionist: Well, the doctor already has 2 appts right now, so I don't know what to tell you.

Me: [trying not to go postal] Well, I'm taking off work for this so....

Receptionist: [annoyed look and slight eyeroll] Well, [sigh], there was a cancellation at 10:40am. I guess you can just wait. Do you want to wait?

Me: Um, yeah.

Whatever happened to "the customer [patient] is always right"? I worked in a medical office for 3 years and I can count on one hand how many people showed up on the wrong day for an appointment. Folks just don't show up to a dr. office claiming to have an appointment when they don't have one. It just doesn't happen. I have had issues with the reception staff at this office before, but all I was looking for was a simple "I'm so sorry, there must have been some mix-up. I really apologize... You know, we did have a cancellation, would you mind waiting and we can squeeze you in?" How hard would that have been to say?

Thankfully my doctor is an absolutely wonderful lady who usually runs on time and is very pleasant to be around. I also love having a doctor that is in true private practice (a rarity these days) so that when the time comes for babies (not anytime soon), I'll actually know who is delivering the kid, not just having to rely on the luck of the draw with who is on call that day.

Okay, so after calming myself down after the whole appt debacle, I finally saw the dr. and everything went smoothly. 20 minutes later I was in my car, pulling out of the parking into ... another parking lot. Westwood was absolute gridlock! I mean, like not moving at. all. It took me 40 minutes to get to the 405 ... and I was already in Westwood for cripes sake! And then magically, once I got on the freeway, it was wide open. Why in the world the city streets were so messed up is absolutely beyond me. All in all it took me over an hour to get back to work downtown. sigh. So much for getting back early.

To top it all off, I couldn't figure out why my right shoe was making a funny clicking noise when I walked. Come to find out the tip of my high heel had come off and I was walking on just the metal tip. Lovely.

The upside to all of this was dinner at Cobras and Matadors. We took 2 female summer associates out (another jr. associate joined us) and it was a great time. Good food and wine, great conversation and we actually scored a table that allowed us to be able to hear each other fairly well. Granted, I drank too much and went to bed too late, but it was a nice end to an otherwise ridiculous day.