Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blessed

Last night I was watching TV and the trailer for the movie "P.S. I Love You" came on. I made the mistake of reading this book shortly after I had gotten married and pretty much cried my way through it. It's a great story, but one that really hit a nerve for me. I knew they were turning the book into a movie, but didn't know who was being cast. So, as I'm watching the trailer, I notice that Hilary Swank is starring and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is playing the love interest. He is most recently known for playing Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy. <3 <3 Great casting IMO.

My mother-in-law is the one the got me hooked on Grey's Anatomy. I was having dinner with the in-laws on the night of the third season finale and we watched it together --- and proceeded to bawl our way through the final scene. Ever since then, I've been hooked. Denny is still one of our favorite characters from the show, so when I saw this trailer, my first thought was to call my MIL and see if she had seen it yet.

She was home when I called, so I told her about the movie (she has read the book so she was familiar that a movie was being made, but like me, hadn't seen the trailer) and then we proceeded to chat about other random stuff for the next half-hour. Keeping in mind, of course, I'm seeing them tonight for dinner, too.

After I hung up, I realized just how special that conversation really was. Sure, we weren't talking about anything all that important, but the fact that I can call my MIL out of the blue to discuss a movie trailer is pretty darn cool... and I think rare. I'm always calling my own mom to tell her silly little things that happened or just to chit chat for a minute, but to be developing the same type of relationship with my MIL is something I'm so proud of.

I love that our relationship is such that I'm comfortable having dinner with her (and my father-in-law) every couple weeks sans the husband, that we can talk to each other frankly and express varying opinions on issues without the other person taking offense, that she feels comfortable conviding in me about things that are personal to her, that I can call her randomly to tell her about something I saw or heard. It helps, of course, that my in-laws are far from overbearing and are very careful to give us our space as a married couple (no random drop-ins or incessant phone calls from them ever). And that in turn, has made me much more keen on keeping them involved in our lives and treating them the way I treat my own parents.

I'm just so very blessed to have not only found the perfect husband for me, but to have also found a family that has welcomed me with open arms and has never been a source of stress for me as an individual or us as a couple. And my MIL is a huge part of that. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I may not have decorated the apartment yet...

but my office cubicle sure got into the Christmas spirit this morning!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Loooong Weekend Roundup

I probably should have blogged about my mid-week through weekend activities a little at a time, but quite frankly I was just too lazy to get around to writing about it until now. So, sorry in advance for this being a novella. ;)

Wednesday

My mom and I spent the morning and afternoon together doing a little shopping and a little cooking before getting ready to go to the SYTYCD tour at the Nokia Theater. We got to downtown really early to beat the traffic and had a nice dinner at Liberty Grill. From there, we walked over to the theater and braved the horrendous crowds to get through security. The short version is that the show was absolutely fantastic, but here are a few specific comments:

  • Lauren and Shawna are much more impressive dancers in person than they ever were on the show. I really wasn't expecting that.
  • Lacey, one of my favorites, had a knee injury so was only able to perform a couple of numbers and with only minimal energy. Pretty sad.
  • Danny is chiseled out of a piece of rock. No really, the guy has like no body fat. So impressive. Oh yeah, and he is an amazing dancer to boot.
  • Each of the top 10 dancers performed a solo, but they were only given 30 seconds or so. I would have loved to see each person have a minute or more to perform.

Thursday

Hubs and I hung out at home in the morning and watched a little football before getting ready to go to his family's Thanksgiving dinner that afternoon. As usual, it was complete organized chaos, but so much fun. This year, my mom, dad and brother also joined the festivities, which was really nice. There were probably around 50-ish folks there so it was what you would call a large group. The guys decided to deep fry the turkeys and they were so good! My vote is for deep frying them every year. :) It was great seeing everyone again, especially his cousins who lives in PA and their 5 adorable children. It was our first time seeing their twin girls (almost 7 months old) and they are just as cute as their older brother and sisters. We also found out that another one of his cousins is pregnant and due next summer. So fun! [...and the more that everyone else is having babies, the less we're getting pressured to add to our family - ha!]

That night I drove to San Diego to spend the night with one of my bffs, K, so we could get up early (like 3:30am early) and shop til we dropped! This is a yearly tradition for us and really marks the beginning of the Christmas season. There was actually one year that K's now husband took her out of town to visit his cousin over Thanksgiving and we were both so miserable (and she was quite vocal about that fact) that he vowed to never do that again. Smart guy ;) Yes people think we're nuts, but we have a great time together and usually get most of our shopping done. Good times!

Friday

Yup, K and I are crazy and we got up at 3:30 like we planned, got ready and headed out to the Carlsbad outlets. K's sister L came with us too and we spent several hours there milling around and picking up a few things. After a quick run to Target and Old Navy, we dropped L back at home and then continued on to UTC in La Jolla for more shopping. Sadly, this year we were both pretty uninspired so we didn't get a lot of our shopping done, but we still had a great time just hanging out and catching up with each other.

That night, we had leftover Thanksgiving dinner with K's parents and her sister and soon to be BIL and then us kids played Movie Scene It! We were all delirious from lack of sleep, but it was good times.

Saturday

After catching up on some sleep, K and I woke up, got ready and met up with J and her mom to chat a little and hang out. From there, K and I grabbed lunch and then I was on my way back to LA. Jim was working (poor thing) so I sat on our couch and caught up on my DVR shows. That night we had dinner together and just chilled.

Sunday

Yet another chill day. I cleaned the apartment, did a silly amount of laundry (but now our bed looks and smells all purtty) and cleaned out more of the DVR box. Our Pats gave us quite a scare last night (how did they let Philly stick around?!?), but they perservered at the end. Woohoo!

And now, it's back to work and time to start prepping for Christmas :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Drinking and Chatting in Las Vegas

Pretty much sums up my weekend! Thursday night I flew out to Vegas to meet up with J and K (who was to meet us the next evening after work) for a girl's weekend at J's house. Her fiance was out of town, so we had the house all to ourselves. This for some reason made the boys nervous, but they really had nothing to worry about. It was one of the most mellow girl weekends we've had. I mean, we didn't even make it to the strip once!

After J picked me up from the airport, we headed back to her place where I got the full tour of her house. OMG, it is so nice! They've been slowly decorating and getting all of the rooms together and while she says there are still some projects they need to tackle, it is really beautiful as it is right now. I informed her that I was going to live on her kitchen island because I loved it so much. (We told K this and she said she'd move in to the cupboards below, so hey, at least I'd have company!) Later, we sat around nursing a glass (or two) of wine, just talking and catching up.

Friday, I managed to sleep until 10! Good lord. By that time, J had already gotten up, made breakfast for us (which she waited to eat til I finally pulled myself out of bed) and was almost done watching a taped episode of One Tree Hill. I joined her on the couch while we ate and then got ready to run around a bit. We hit Target (we both scored a couple of Christmas presents), Barnes & Noble (we managed to spend about 1 1/2 hours reading cookbooks) and Whole Foods. There they were giving out samples of their Beaujolais Noveau wine and brie with strawberries. So.Freaking.Tasty. We bought a bottle of wine to share over the weekend and then picked up the ingredients for a DIY version of the strawberry brie and also fig brie. Wine and cheese was definitely a theme for the weekend.

Later in the day we had lunch and then went home to watch some TV before picking up K at the airport. [The poor thing had her flight delayed over 2 hours, which was no fun for any of us.] J and I watched Stick It, the gymnastics version of Bring It On and half of Ice Princess, the figure skating version of Bring It On. Basically, if there was a movie on that our husbands would rather gouge their eyes out than watch, we saw it this weekend.

K's flight finally came in around 10:30ish, so we scooped her up and headed back to the house where we had a repeat of Thursday night; lots of wine and lots of catching up. We also thought it a good idea to stay up until after 3am. I was seriously seeing 3 of K by the time we went to bed.

Saturday morning I was, again, the last one to get up. Oops! We had breakfast and then sat around just chatting, watching TV and helping K plan her sister's bachelorette party until it was time for lunch. After getting ready we headed over to Pei Wei for lunch and then Golden Spoon for dessert (their pumpkin pie yogurt is delish in case you're wondering). J is getting married next fall so she took us around to several places they were considering for their wedding after lunch. They are all beautiful, but of course, K and I had our favorites. At the last place, we actually parked ourselves at the bar of the possible reception site, ordered drinks and started brainstorming wedding colors, room set-up and table decor. Thankfully, the bartenders were very nice, one of which is in the middle of planning his own wedding, so we didn't get too many strange looks.

None of us had the desire or energy to go out on the town that night, so after heading back to the house, we got into comfy clothes and did more of the same; more wine, more cheese (and other assorted goodies), more cheesy movies and lots more talking. It was almost 2am before we finally called it a night.

The next morning we were up fairly early. K wanted to watch the Charger game (kinda rough b/c they lost) and we got in a few more hours of just hanging out. That afternoon they drove me back to the airport, where I had a 3pm flight back to LA. Sad.

You know, I don't get to see them very often, but I love them to pieces and so enjoy the time we do get to spend with each other. I know with J's wedding next year I'll be seeing them more frequently in the coming months and I actually get to see them both over Thanksgiving (more on that in a later post). It was another great girlie weekend and while it was mellow, it was also so much fun! Thanks for a great weekend girls and I can't wait to do it again :D

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Light sky blue

Alyssa tried out this fun color personality test. Her results were mixed so she invited the rest of us that read her blog to give a whirl. I actually think my results are a fairly decent description of my personality.

you are lightskyblue
#87CEFA

Your dominant hues are cyan and blue. You like people and enjoy making friends. You're conservative and like to make sure things make sense before you step into them, especially in relationships. You are curious but respected for your opinions by people who you sometimes wouldn't even suspect.

Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


I'm definitely a people-person (come by it honest as my mom and grandma are the same way) and I think I have a optimistic outlook on life. I'm definitely conservative day-to-day stuff (not sure that would completely describe my political views) and if people respect my opinions, well that is great! I'm not, however, always relaxed about things as when I'm feeling overwhelmed I can tend to get a bit frazzled. And like Alyssa, I was kind of hoping I'd be some shade of pink. ;)

Okay, now it's your turn!

Random act of kindness

Monday started off bumpy. Like as in literally bumpy. I had the day off in observance of Veteran's Day so I had a full day of activities planned -- run a few errands, cook, clean, etc. Basically, just be a domestic diva for the day. Fun!

I get out to my car, hop in, back out and... it sounds like there are rocks in the engine. :X Oh crap. This car is supposed to go for another 80K miles at least and now it sounds like something is terribly wrong. I start panicking and call Jim to fill him in. As I'm on the phone, I circle the car and lo and behold, there is the problem. A very, very flat front right tire. Oh. Okay, well that's not so bad. Annoying, but not awful.

I don't change tires, so AAA comes out, puts on the spare and I open up the yellow pages to find a tire shop in our area. I've had to do the whole "let's drive on an LA freeway while only being able to go 45 mph" and it's absolute hell. I needed something that wouldn't require hopping on a freeway.

The first place I see is Globe Motorsports. Based on their ad, they sell Goodyear tires (what I currently have on the car) and they are only a few miles away. Perfect. I make my way to the shop only to find the tiny parking lot overrun with customers. Lovely.

One of the employees, Greg, comes over and asks what the problem is. I fill him in and he asks to see the tire. He looks at it, turning it this way and that. And then says "You know, this tire looks new to me. I think it's just the patch that leaked. Um, let me run some tests on it, but I think we should be able to just fix it. I mean, no need to sell you a new tire if you don't need it."

I'm sorry, did you just say you're trying to save me $$?!? What the...?!?

After coming back to my senses, I walked into the lobby and waited there reading a magazine. About an hour later, Greg waved me over and said they fixed the tire and the car was ready to go. Awesome!! And then we have this exchange:

Me: Fantastic! So, how much do I owe you?
Greg: You know, I don't even have a bill for you. Don't worry about it.
Me: Wait, what?! No, I mean...
Greg: Really. If you want to do something, just give my guy like $5 and it's fine.
Me: [speechless]

We all know how it usually works when a woman walks into any shop dealing with cars. They automatically see dollar signs and try to take you for whatever they can get. I have never had something like this happen anywhere, much less at a car shop!!

I gave the service guy $10 (everything I had in my wallet) and then got in my car in a daze. Once I stopped freaking out over how amazed I was at what had just happened, I promptly drove over to Crumbs, picked up a dozen cupcakes and drove them back out to the guys. They were a little shocked that I dropped off a thank you gift and I think they were probably as happy with the situation as they had originally made me with their generousity, kindness and most excellent customer service.

I am still blown-away at the situation. Needless to say, they have a customer for life with me. It's just so rare to find people like this today and it was so uplifting to know that they still exist.

So, if you ever need tires, you know where to go! Tell them Amber (with the cupcakes) sent you!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Musings

I was totally that girl this morning at Starbucks ordering a "tall, sugar-free, non-fat, extra-hot gingerbread latte, light whip". I felt totally silly ordering it, but it was so darn good.
_______________________

I'm currently wearing "Tea & Crumpets" on my toes courtesy of my morning pedicure. Nail polish names just kill me (in a good way).
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I'm loving this dreary cold weather. Jim worked from home today, so we've been in the apartment all day with the tv just hanging out. So great.
_______________________

They played most of the Chargers-Colts game in the pouring rain. In no way, shape or form does that look like fun.
_______________________

My new Le Creuset dutch oven is so purtty, but it's gonna take some getting used to. It definitely works differently from my regular cookware, but the baked potato soup still turned out fairly well. Hopefully this cold weather hangs on so I have more excuses to use it for comfort food dishes.

ABC, easy as 123

I was tagged by Nanette to do a meme. Um, some of these were hard!

Rules: List a word that describes you for every letter of the alphabet. Offer as much or as little explanation as you wish. Please keep the words positive (for example, don’t use “fat” for F or “lame” for L), and feel free to get creative. Tag as many or as few people as you wish.

A: Agile (Well, when I'm dancing at least)

B: Blue-eyed

C: Clumsy (I'm always bruising myself on something or other it seems)

D: Dancer

E: Educated

F: Fun

G: Generous

H: Happy

I: Interested (in so many different things really)

J: Joyful

K: Kind

L: Lovable

M: Married (I love being able to describe myself as such)

N: Nonstop

O: Old-soul (My mother-in-law often says this about me and she is probably right)

P: Pear-shaped

Q: Quiet (As much as I love hanging out with people, I also adore my alone time)

R: Reader (Have been ever since I was a kid)

S: Smiley

T: Tailored (I've given up trying to follow most fashion trends)

U: Upbeat

V: Volunteer

W: Wacky

X: X-rayed (at least once every 2 years at the dentist)

Y: Young

Z: Zonked (by the end of the week this describes me perfectly!)

I'm now tagging:
Alyssa at 2007's Journey
Leslie at Adventures in Randomness
Aline at Screw the Turtle, Isn't it Time I Win the Race?
Tater at tasty tater talks

No worries if this isn't your cup of tea. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Music to my ears

Last weekend I was just thinking about how funny it is that a specific song can bring up such strong emotions or bring you back to a specific moment in time. And then I was catching up on Nanette's blog and saw this. I love this post so much that I've been inspired to re-create it with my own little ipod. Here are the first 10 songs that came up on my ipod (after putting it on shuffle) with a little commentary about each song:

1. You've Got a Friend by James Taylor - The last time I volunteered at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, it was a winter session specifically for the kids aged 15-18. One of the counselors, Judge, who has been around forever brought his guitar and during one of the activities a small group of us counselors were sitting outside together and he started playing. And guided by Judge, the rest of us joined in singing. Lots of old stuff from Paul Simon, John Mellencamp and James Taylor. I specifically remember this song because I just felt so happy at that moment to be outside, enjoying the gorgeous winter afternoon in the woods and being surrounded by such a wonderful, talented bunch of volunteers and campers.

2. Too Much by Dave Matthews Band - I didn't even know who this band was until I started dating my husband. But Jim was obessesed with them and would constantly play their music in the car. The is one of the songs I came to love and we would often sing it together while he was driving me home after our dates that first year.

3. Gangsta Lovin' by Eve & Alicia Keys - I love listening to Pop and Hip Hop stations in the car when I'm driving around. This was a popular song a few years back, I always found myself grooving in my car when it would come on, so I finally downloaded it onto my ipod. And yes, I still find myself groovin' to the beat when I hear it.

4. Cherry Bomb by John Mellencamp - Another artist that my husband introduced me to when we started dating. It is such a happy albeit somewhat sentimental song and it reminds me of many car trips with Jim, just driving down the road singing our hearts out.

5. London Rain by Heather Nova - I was introduced to Dawson's Creek by my 2 best friends my senior year of college. I fell in love with the show and became quite enamored with a lot of the music that was used. This led to buying both Soundtracks for the show and downloading many other songs from itunes. This specific song was used in several different episodes and I really enjoy listening to it.

6. You Can Do It by Ice Cube - Oh man. Senior year in college, we're at a formal date party for my sorority and we're all having a swell time dancing and drinking and just hanging out. My friends and I hear that one of the younger girls is not feeling well and we head into the bathroom to check on her. And there she is in her big party dress worshiping the porcelain god. I grab a hairband and start gathering up her hair to make sure it doesn't fall into the toilet when this song comes on and you can softly hear it in the bathroom. And wouldn't you know, this girl starts boppin' her booty while she is still being sick. I think I started laughing from the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. Amazing.

7. You and I by Michael Buble - No real specific memory or moment tied to this song from me, but it's from his first album, which happens to be one of those great CDs that you can play straight through and enjoy every song. Love that!

8. Jive Talking by The Bee Gees - I'm not sure why I like this song but I do. It's just so happy and upbeat. Fun!

9. Life, In a Nutshell by Barenaked Ladies - Yet another artist I wasn't terribly familiar with until I started dating Jim. Sure, I had listened to One Week on the radio when it was really popular a few years prior, but I didn't know their old stuff. We listened to their live album often that first year we were dating and then when he left for school that next year, it became bittersweet. I was so sad he was gone and listening to the album would alternately make me happy remembering the good times together and also heighten the sadness of him no longer being in California. Even now, hearing that album can totally put me in a melancholy mood.

10. The Glamourous Life by Sheila E. - In high school, we used to warm up to this song in jazz dance class and I will forever associate it with stretching and doing across the floor kicks and turns.

And now, I want to hear about the first 10 songs that come up on your ipod and what memories and stories they evoke. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Oodles of noodles

This week I'm finally getting back to my normal Monday-Friday post-work schedule now that I've gotten over being sick. I wanted to try some new recipes this week, but I didn't have a ton of time to cook this week. I found this recipe for chicken chow mein on Cooking Light that looked fairly simple but also really yummy.

I couldn't find the pre-cut carrots, but instead substituted julienned red bell pepper. And let me tell you, this dish was awesome! It's fast and easy to prepare, makes a ton of food and the flavor, while not authentic, is really good! I can't wait to make it again, but next time I'm going to add in even more vegetables to balance out the noodles a bit. I highly recommend this dish :)

Clean Sweep -- it's not just a tv show

Last weekend started early for me as I flew to my mom's house Thursday night to spend the weekend with her. And what were we going to do over the next 2 1/2 days? Why, clean out, organize and re-arrange her downstairs bedroom! Although really, this is only the tip of the iceburg....

Backstory: My parents had been married for 32 years, when early this year my mom filed for divorce. The reasons are long and complicated and messy to go into, though I will say that adultery and abuse were not part of the equation. Thank God. That being said, the divorce should be final by year's end. My mom is now living in the house where I grew up in Northern California by herself (my dad is living in Arizona) and the 30+ years of stuff that has accumulated in the house is just out of control. My mom finally hit a turning point this summer and has started changing her outlook on life. I think there were a number of years where she hasn't been happy, but buried that unhappiness to not make waves within her marriage or the family in general. Instead of dealing with it, she compensated by shopping. Which, of course, just added to the clutter and craziness in the house leading to more unhappiness.... Well, you see where this is going. But over the past few months I have seen such a change in her and it is definitely for the positive! She is getting her life back in order in so many ways, but it is partly expressed by getting her literal house in order, too.

So, this weekend's task was to tackle the bedroom. Quite frankly, we were both overwhelmed with the sheer volume of "stuff" we had to go through. I have tried to help her organize and clean out the bedroom before, but she fought me on purging a lot of the clutter and instead of weeding things out, we just re-arranged what was already there. But not this time!

Once we finally found a place to start, she was throwing stuff into the Goodwill and "sell" piles with wild abandon. I think we had a disagreement on whether to keep or sell maybe 3 items in the entire room. Over the course of 2 days we made 3 trips to Goodwill, 1 trip to the hazardous waste recycling center (for an old TV and batteries) and filed up at least 2 garbage cans of boxes, papers, old mini-blinds and whatnot. She also has several boxes of items that need to go to the antique dealer next week to see if it can be sold. Amazing!

After the room had been purged of all the unnecessary crap, we found homes for the things that were staying in the room, gave the whole thing a good cleaning, replaced the mini-blinds and window coverings and updated the bedding and lamps. It is not an understatement when I say the room looks like a million bucks!!

My sweet mother was just giddy at how much we accomplished and with the final results. She said it was just the motivation she needed to get her started again tackling other rooms in the house. [Prior to my arrival, she had already been working on the garage, backyard and various rooms in the house for at least several weeks. It's just that there is so much to go through, it can be overwhelming and quite tiring at times].

I am so happy for her and really proud of her for taking charge of her life and making some big changes that are right for her. My mom has always been a "people-pleaser", putting everyone else's wants and needs ahead of her own, and now for once, she is putting herself first. It just puts a huge smile on my face when I think about how far she has come in just a few months.

It was a work weekend and I'm still somewhat tired from all the activity, but it was also a lot of fun and well-worth the effort. :)