Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Blog Host

Hi All!

Trying something new... we'll see if it works. Check out this week's blog here.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Adventures of the Newlyweds

This past Thanksgiving marked the first official holiday Anthony and I shared together as Husband and Wife.

(As I have said before - technically, it is the second holiday... I seem to remember spending 4th of July with him... ;-) But I still don't count that as our first official Holiday together, seeing as how we were celebrating our Marriage that afternoon, rather than INDEPENDENCE Day!)

I was so happy to be in Carson City, NV with my mother's side of the family. Don't get me wrong - I loved Thanksgiving last year with Anthony's Family. It was a blast and I learned a lot! But I missed and longed for my own family and our homegrown traditions (as I'm sure Anthony expeirenced this year).

Thanksgiving is so wonderfully predictable and dependable at my Grandmother's house. Cooking starts at 9am. The Parade is on - if you don't like it, go away. Dad BBQ's the Turkey. Mama and Granny rule the kitchen - what they say goes. What they ask for (nicely, of course!) gets done. The "Kids" set the table. Everyone contributes something. This year I did the ham, but usually I do the Jello Salad. New Tradition this year = Anthony contributes, too!!! He brought one of his favorite family traditions to us. Every year his mother makes cardamom bread for Thanksgiving. It is Anthony's favorite. Anthony learned how to make it this year from her! He made it and brought it for everyone to try. Everyone loved it! He has been told he is expected to provide it from now on. That made him smile. A little part of him is now officially part of us.

"Dinner" is really "Supper" as we eat around 4:30pm. PopPop says the prayer. Dinner always lasts a rediculously long time as we are all eating and talking and laughing, and eating some more. Clean up is a team effort - everyone has a job. The table and kitchen are 85% clean before dessert is served (always several types of pie and hand made whip cream, which I got to make this year).

I LOVE our Thanksgiving. It is one of the few times a year I get to see my Mom's side of the family, and I always miss them more when I have to go home. But this year, it was so special - Anthony was no longer "The boy Jen brought" or "Jen's Friend." He was just Anthony. And more importantly, a member of the family. Not that he hadn't been welcome or anything before now - he was! Everyone loves him! But this year was different. The jokes were no longer "inside jokes" as he was in on them. He participated, rather than obverved. And, as always, he made me feel incredibly lucky to have him by my side.

(Ok, everyone, all together now - Awwwwwwww.)

Oh - and Anthony and I got to share a bed this year! Thanks to Alyse being gracious enough to give up the sofa sleeper, Anthony and I didn't have to sleep on the air matress and non-fold out couch (respectively). So Thank you, Bug! It made our first Holiday together that much more special. 

Now to my favorite part of T-day weekend. Seriously people, the BEST part of Thanksgiving weekend for me has NOTHING to do with Thanksgiving. True, I love T-day and all of its traditional glory. But Black Friday - now THAT is something we do right. Shopping, you say? NO WAY!!! Dude, after all that tryptophan, we sleep! We wake up no earlier than 9am. This year I slept till 10! Lunch is left overs. YUM. Then, the family - the WHOLE family, Granny and PopPop included - goes bowling. Joey, my 3 year old cousin, loves to bowl. And we all have a blast watching him. Let's face it, we know my dad is going to win, closely followed by my Uncle John. But we play! And we cheer each other on, and have a grand old time. Black Friday rules in my fam!

Ok - Time-out must be taken this year to adress "The Bet."

My father is a logical, level headed, incredibly smart man. But every now and again, he does something totally out of left feild that ends up biting him in the butt. This is one of those times.

My dad was observing my cousin Alex bowl. Alex ended up with 2 pins, close together, but not next to each other. My dad said he'd give Alex $10 if he could knock down both pins. My father knew that the chances were VERY slim, and that $10 wasn't that big of a loss, if somehow he did make the shot. As my father predicted, Alex didn't make it. "Awwwwww," we all said. "Good try, Alex!" Then, Alyse went up to bowl. After her first turn, she ended up with a 7/10 ish kind of split. Super difficult shot. Dad said, 'Whoa! That is a $50 shot. If you make that, I'll give you $50."

Guess what happened...

She made the shot. And Dad had to pony up. One of those stories we'll be telling for a while...

Anywho - after we are done bowling, the whole gang treks back to Granny's house for Taco night. Let me tell ya, peeps - I don't care how good that Mexican place is down the street. These are the BEST tacos you'll ever have. Period. We love Taco Night. Pan fried corn tortilla tacos, lightly salted, with perfectly seasoned ground beef. Add the "fixings" to your liking and dip in home made green or red sauc. Have some authentic Mexican rice (also home made) on the side, and you've got a recipie for the best dinner on the planet.

Mine always looks a little bland - all it is in there is meat and cheese... but still soooooo good!

Taco night ends our festivites. We go home on Saturday so we have Sunday to rest before the world goes back to normal on Monday. It was truly a wonderful holiday filled with family, fun, and amazing food. Can't wait to do it again in 2011. Now onto Francis Family Thanksgiving this year! Woot!

Oh yea - did I mentioned it snowed while we were there?

Love it.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Brown

As many of you may have noticed, my status for the last couple of hours as been simply, "Chocolate Brown." You may have also noticed that I'm not the only one out there who has some sort of color as their current status.

If you haven't been let in on the secret yet, here it is: "Chocolate Brown" is the color of the bra I am currently wearing.

Yup. You read that right. I'm wearing a chocolate brown bra right now. What color are you wearing?

I was so curious as to why all my girlfriends had colors up as their status. I come to find out that someone late yesterday/early today started sending out a message to girl's Facebook Inboxes saying something to the effect of "let's take over facebook" and put our status as the color of our bra to 'confuse the guys."

Apparently this silly idea didn't go very far. I mean, who cares? I have better things to do with my time than try and confuse boys. I can do that just by being a woman. BUT when someone decided to add purpose to this little endeavor, it EXPLODED. That purpose?


Who wouldn't want to jump on that bandwagon!? Of course, you get your naysayers out there who ask, "how on earth can that help? How stupid." Well Mr. Negative Nelly - I'll tell ya what purpose it serves! The "secret" element to it all compelled people figure it out - to be "in the know." In essence, to do some research. Because of this phenomenon, people have been stumbling across blogs like this:

Go on. Read it. I'll wait.

You done yet? Good. How great was that? So well put.

Ok, Ok. Let's face it. Negative Nelly is right - Letting the whole world know what color my bra is has ZERO effect on breast cancer research or even awareness. But when my color, combined with everyone else willing to participate encourages flow of information and ideas, it has a HUGE impact. People get information they didn't have. (Did you know that men can get breast cancer, too? Did you know that, according to the CDC, 41,116 women and 375 men died from breast cancer in 2005? Did you know that breast cancer is the 7th most common cause of death among women (Also CDC)? Bet you didn't. See? You just learned something.) This silly crazy exercise obviously draws attention to breasts in general. My fellow blogger is right - while your down there checking out that awesome color, give yourself a breast exam.

Instructions for giving a self-exam can be found here:

I felt compelled to blog. Cancer has touched my life in the cruelest of ways over the years. Fierce battles that have been fought hard and finally lost. But they fought to live because they had the chance. They got help because they could. It makes me SO angry when I hear stories of people who die from this disease, but could have been saved with early detection. I have been giving myself a "Self breast exam" from the age of 16. Once a month, EVERY month. No exceptions.

And ladies - a tip for you. Let's be honest - no one knows your knockers like your boyfriend (or girlfriend)/fiance/husband (or wife), right? Let them give you the exam. They may notice something you won't. And they'll think you are SO COOL for letting them do it. ;-)

I lost my Grandmother to breast cancer in 2002. We lost her sister, my Aunt, just last month to the same. Enough is enough. We have the power to take action. For all the naysayers out there who said "this is dumb - wouldn't donating to research be more helpful?" I say yes! It would be more helpful! Get off your butt and do it instead of picking on those who are trying to make a difference! To those who are aware that breast cancer runs in your family - be responsible! Self exams starting right this second! Annual exams without relenting! To everyone on the whole planet (because it isn't just breast cancer - it is all cancer) Educate yourselves. Knowledge is power.

In the meantime, I am proud to tell you that it's Chocolate brown. All day. Tomorrow will more than likely be black.

I will get off my soap box when every man on the planet knows they are subject to this too. I will get off my soap box when every woman does monthly self exams, annual paps, and regular mammograms when the time comes. Until then, I'm never going to stop talking about it. I'm never going to ease up. I'm never going to let it slide. We can change the future. We can change the outcome. But just like this little exercise, it can't just be me. It's gotta be everyone. EVERYONE has got to get in the know.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Blogs, blogs, blogs!

I have so much to blog about and so little time!!!

But I always tell myself, Jenifer! You are NEVER going to simply HAVE the time. You have to MAKE the time.

I don't make New Years Resolutions. I find them a little hollow - we say we will do something just for the sake of having something to do! So no, I don't make resolutions. I set goals.

Goals in my life are really important. They keep me going. They keep me challenged. So one of my goals this year is to blog, at least once a week, every week in 2010. Starting with this one. (That will = no less than 52 blogs this year. But I think I can do it!!!)

Like I said - I have so much to blog about! Right now, I am working on a 2 blogs from November (Friend's wedding and Thanksgiving), 1 blog from December (Christmas), and 2 blogs for January (New Years and San Fran Trip).

Also, as promised, the start of the new year will mean the re-start of the Cupcake blogs!!! I won't be doing them as frequently as I used to (every week!!!) But more like once a month. We think we can handle that. I will be writing a blog soon with a list of the projects to come so if you want to jump in and help on one, you are more than welcome!!!

I must apologize to Miss Miranda D'Angelo. She and I were supposed to start our "Wreak This Journal" Journey back in September and it never happened. I PROMISE we will start that before the end of January. But, that will mean that you need to start your own blog, missy!!! Hop to it! ;-)

And lastly, Anthony and I fully intend to take CherryTree Threads to the max this year. We are in the works to become an official Company. Anthony has already designed a logo and is helping me with a website (shout out to showit sites that Bree Shepard introduced me to! They rock!) So I will be making frequent updates about CherryTree as we grow and find our way in this crazy world. Wish us luck!

2010 looks to be shaping up quite nicely! We really are enjoying married life and our jobs. We are so thankful for everything we have coming into this year and feel truly blessed. We hope that our (or rather, MY) goals inspire you to create some of your own. And if you haven't already, start a blog! I'd love to keep up with you by reading your daily adventures!

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Just wanted to take a second to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Anthony and I begin our 55 hour Holiday Extravaganza in t-minus 4 hours and can't wait!

Thursday, December 24th:
3pm: Christmas Eve gathering with my Father's extended family (Dinner at 5pm)

6pm: Drive to Ventura

6:30pm: Swedish Smorgasbord at Grandma Tillquist's house (Ant's Mom's extended family)

10:30pm: Drive to Moorpark

11:00pm: "Midnight Christmas" gift exchange with my immidiate familiy, complete with PJ's, donuts, and cinnamon buns! yum!

Friday, December 25th:
1am (ish): Drive home to Thousand Oaks and SLEEP!!!!

7:30am - wake up, breakfast at home with Anthony for our first ever Christmas at home as a married couple! The gifts are already under the tree, calling my name!!!

8:45: Drive to Newbury Park

9:00am: Christmas brunch and gift exchange with Anthony's immediate family (including our Nephew Max's FIRST CHRISTMAS!

12:00pm: home for lunch, maybe a quick nap?

2:00pm: Drive to Palmdale for Christmas dinner with Anthony's mom's extended family

10:00pm: home!!!

Saturday, December 26th:
2pm: Drive to Moorpark for Day After Christmas dinner with my Dad's extended family.


Tired just reading it!!!
And SO looking forward to it all. Gotta start getting ready!!!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Review

Trying something new here, and hopefully trying out something else new later this week. (Don't hold your breath tho - Holidays = Busy girl = not a lot of time for blogging.)

Just finished a really, REALLY great book. Out of 5 stars, I'd give it 4 and a half. One of those that you really just can't put down.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown.

I know, I know - the book was just made a movie and was secondary to The Da Vinci Code - blah blah blah.

First, I'll have you know that I read The Da Vinci Code by shear interest before the movie was even being filmed. It stood alone on a book shelf and just invited me to pick it up and read it. I had NO IDEA at the time that it was a series, nor did I know that it was the second book in said series and not the first. But I digress...

The point is that I loved the Movie, "The Da Vinci Code" and really want to see "Angels & Demons." But, of course, that means I need to read the book first, right? ALWAYS!

So, on our trip home from Reno over Thanksgiving, I picked it up off of the airport newsstand shelf and started reading. Instantly, I was hooked - the same way I was with Da Vinci Code. Mr. Brown has this ridiculously simple way of writing. It makes everyone from the most intellectual reader to the "I don't read very often" type feel right at home. And history buffs/ conspiracy theorists are just clamoring for the next page. Myself included. I love the fact that while his books are TOTAL works of fiction, they are based in real, HISTORICALLY based fact. These places, these documents, these secret societies all existed or still exist today. How cool is that??? The research he must have done to keep these books true to realty must have taken years. I can't even imagine. And here he is - writing it all out in a way that makes it all visually available for anyone. LOVE IT.

Angels & Demons is the first in a series of at least three books (possibly more - don't know). The series follows a Harvard Professor named Robert Langdon on some pretty astonishing, life threatening adventures through ancient relics and symbols, set in modern day scenarios. Crazy as it sounds - it all somehow works. It's even believable! This stuff could actually happen! (Possible, but not likely... I hope.)

This adventure takes us to Vatican City on the Eve of Conclave, as the current Pope has passed away and the time for a new regime is in order. But conclave and it's ancient traditions are threatened by the Church's ultimate and most aggressive arch enemy - Science itself - in the form of an very old Secret Society called the Illuminati. The legend of The Illuminati goes back to the days of Galileo. These men met in secret all over Rome to discuss scientific breakthroughs and theories away from the eyes of the Church. Eventually the Church crushed the group and forbade them to ever meet again. But Secrecy has always kind of been their thing, and the time has come for them to reveal themselves in a modern world as a fierce alternative to Religion.

In this story, the Illuminati is back, and they are out for revenge!!! I won't tell you what happens - You'll have to find out for yourself. All I can tell you is that you NEVER see the ending twists coming, I don't care how many times you think you know. I found myself saying, out loud, "What??? Wait a minute - how is that.... huh???" And then reading on and saying (again out loud) "ohhhhhhhhhh. I get it." And this happened more than once.

It really is a very well written work of fiction and I highly, highly recommend it. The Chapters are numerous, but usually very short, so it is an easy read. The short chapters are a tool Brown uses to cut from one story line to another n order to keep you abreast of all the information you need to know to keep putting two and two together. It is also convenient for when you need to put the book down for a minute or two to walk the dog or eat - telling someone "just one second, I need to finish this chapter" really only takes another minute or so on average.

So now, I've read Angels & Demons. Looking forward to watching the movie. I am also re-reading The Da Vinci Code (which makes LOADS more sense in the first few chapters, now that I know what the references to The Vatican mean to the story). Once I finish it this time around, I fully intent on going out and purchasing "The Lost Symbol" the third book in the series. I simply can't wait to find out what happens to Langdon and the absolutely riveting half fact/ half fiction adventure.

What are you still sitting there reading this for? Go read the book!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Day like any other

Hi Gang!

Sorry it's taken me so long to get something up here. It's been 2 weeks! Yikes!

Life has been so busy at home and at work lately, that blogging totally feel to the wayside. Work this week was crazy due to a HUGE computer crash we had. Lost a lot of data that we had to recover by re-entering it all back into the system manually. Not so fun. And on the home front, preparing for Christmas, seeing our families, and trying to start our own traditions has taken up almost all of our time. What time isn't taken up has been devoted to CherryTree. We are up and running on ( and I've loving it all. Life is pretty good, tho! Well - mostly...

I'd like to take a moment and say a little prayer for my Aunt Lynda, who passed away one week ago, today. She fought a ridiculously tough battle with breast cancer for the past 15 years, and even though she passed away due to the cancer, I'm proud to say that she actually won that fight. She rode the wave of borrowed time for longer than any Doctor predicted. And she lived up every moment. She had 3 kids - all married - and 9 (nine!!!) Grandchildren. She traveled and worked right up to the end, and I couldn't be prouder of her defiance. In her son's words at her memorial: "Cancer certainly did not define her." She was a trooper and a wonderful woman who will be missed.

A Prayer for my Aunt:
“Little knew that morning that God was going to call your name. In life we loved you dearly, in death we do the same. It broke our hearts to lose you, you did not go alone; for part of us went with you the day God called you home. You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide, and though we cannot see you, you are always by our side. Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.”

Life is so crazy. My mother always told me, "If you want to make God laugh, then make a plan." She, as always, was right. Plans go awry. My Aunt's passing was jut another example. We thought she'd be here to share Christmas with all of us. So as the holidays approach, I'm not making plans, so much as I'm trying to make opportunities for memories. I plan to have my camera with me every second (much to Anthony's dismay) and fully intend to document our memories here on my blog.

I'll do a blog about our Thanksgiving Traditions (hopefully) this weekend. I have so many pictures to share with all of you. I also have to do a blog on my friend, Danica's Wedding. Then, coming up is Christmas Tree Hunting, Christmas parties, and our Christmas Traditions, followed by our trip up north for NYE. Lots to come.

It is odd to not be coming up with something new to be Thankful for every day and writing about it. Truth be told, I don't have the time right now to do that. But I definitely think about these things every day. And I'm thankful for all of you who read my ramblings!

Work is going well. I've had a hand in two new toy lines that will be coming out in early 2010. Can't wait to show them to you. Dog Lovers out there, get ready for some cool stuff!!!

I promise to do my best from here on out not to go more than a week without blogging. Keep up with your blogs too! I love reading them. I want to hear all about your holiday traditions.

Have a great evening!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Today.

Once again, I just ran out of time to blog over the last two days. It is crazy how busy the last 48 hours got. Work was nuts both days, plus cleaning, packing, and traveling = tired Jen. But it was all sooooo worth it.

On Tuesday I was going to blog about being Thankful for my Dad and my sister. I know just how lucky I am to have the family I do. My father is my hero. I'm certainly Daddy's little girl. He brought music into my life, and I can't tell you how big of an impact that had. But more recently, my dad and I have found a communication groove that I just love. We talk tech. We talk sports. We talk world news. We discuss things I didn't really appreciate when I was younger. And I love to hear about what he thinks - it always makes me think. I'm so thankful to have a father that I have a great relationship with. I'm so thankful that both of my parents are so much more - they are both my close friends.

And my sister - ha! Don't even get me started. She's amazing. I mean yea - she's annoying as all get out sometimes. She's super set in her ways and more stubborn than I am. But - she's my sister. She's so creative and so smart. She's such a fighter - in a good way. She sticks to her guns and her beliefs, and she loves with all of her heart. She keeps me on my toes. As the big sister, I'm always worried about her, even when we both know I don't need to be. But I'm lucky enough to have gotten along with her over the years, and because of that, she talks to me. She comes to me with things. I know things no one else knows about her because I'm her confidant. She's a wonderful young woman that I love to hang out with. She's got such a great sense of style and flair that I love to watch. And we have so much fun when we are together. We laugh. We sing. Sometimes we even dance! And who else can I do that with? Not many people, for sure. I'm so lucky to have her in my life. I'm thankful to have a great relationship with her. I've always said she was my first best friend. And she still is. I'm thankful for my sister.

Yesterday I was going to blog that I am thankful for my friends. All of you. You know who you are. I am so blessed to have such great friends. A group of girls that can't be beat. Some great guys that are simply beyond compare. I've got friends that listen, friends that always say what I need to hear, friends that are always there (both metaphorically and physically) whenever I need them - without questioning why they are answering a phone call at 3am or standing in a parking lot 20 minutes from home in their PJ's because my keys are locked in my car. I'm one of those people that is kind of fearless. And I think I have that part of me because I've never felt alone. I've always had good close friends nearby to back me up - forget about whether I'm right or wrong. (If I'm wrong, we'll just have a chit-chat about it later, right?). I'm so thankful for your friendship. I am so thankful for your loyalty. I am so thankful for the warmth that you've wraped around me countless times. I can't ever express to you how special each and every one of you are to me. It can't be done. Just know that I love you, and thank God that He placed you in my life.

And today, I'm so Thankful for one thing. This:

I am so Thankful for my amazing and loving family. I couldn't have asked for better people in my life. There is so much love in this group and I'm so lucky to be a part of it all. I'm thankful for our traditions. I'm thankful for the laughter. I'm thankful for the memories.

I'm thankful for my Family.

Thanks so much for reading! This was fun! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Mail Merge

I remember about 5 years ago, now (the summer before Anthony and I started dating) I learned about this wonderful thing called "Mail Merge."

For those of you who don't know, as I didn't back then, Mail Merge is this fabulous little device in Microsoft Excel. It is used to convert Excel Tables into working Word Docs. It's great when you've got to duplicate sometime similar, but every one is still different. For example: when you are making hundreds of name tags that all look the same, have the same font, are all set up the same - but every name is, of course, different. You put all the names in order in excel, then you mail merge them to fit into your nifty pre-perforated template for name tags, hit print, and VOILA! You are in business. Saves SO MUCH TIME!!

I use it on more occasions than you would think. Most recently, we used it to print addresses on our wedding invitations. Super cool! Who needs a calligrapher when you've got mail merge?

And today, I used it again. I'm working on our Christmas Cards (I have this high flying goal of having them ready to mail on Dec. 11th - We'll see.) and I have over 110 to send. I have no idea when our Christmas card list got so big! I mean, I only sent 70 last year! And I know I'm probably forgetting someone - sorry if it is you! I didn't mean it, I promise!

But with the daunting task of addressing envelopes looming near, I am so relieved to know how to use mail merge. I will print beautifully written labels to put on envelops that the post office can easily read, and I won't get a hand cramp! Yippie!

So, with so much to do this holiday season, I am so thankful for time savers like Mail Merge. Thank you Microsoft!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Sunday

And on the 7th day, God rested...

Boy did He have it right. It has been a super long week. And on top of it all, Anthony AND the dog got sick, so I've been doing all I can to care for them, and to keep the house together. Thank goodness Anthony is no where near as big a baby as I am when I'm sick!

The good news is that Pup is better. He's much happier, and we aren't dealing with the accidents or messes of a couple of days ago. And while Ant isn't better yet, he's on his way. He went to the doctor - of his own accord (miracle of miracles!) and got meds. He's been on a codeine induced rest regimen since Friday. He should be good to go for our little trip on Wednesday. Woot! Now if I can only keep myself healthy, we will be right on track! Knock on wood and keep those fingers crossed!

One way I'm ensuring I stay well: resting.

I know that is such a simple concept, but it is so important. I know so many people out there, especially during this time of year, think they don't have the time to rest. I keep saying it isn't about "having" the time. It's about "making" the time. Otherwise, you'll get sick and your body will take you out of the game for much longer than you had anticipated in the first place.

So today, we are home. I've gotten several things done, most of which take more mental effort that physical effort. And Anthony is enjoying his video games and my company. We ran all of our errands for the weekend yesterday for the sole purpose of being able to stay home today. And while I have a lot to get done today, I'm doing it all from my couch.

And I think a nap will be in order later. Oh - forgot to blog yesterday, so there you go. Yesterday, I was Thankful for Naps, wishing I could have taken one. I'll make up for it today!

I'm thankful for the down time. I'm thankful for the company. I'm thankful that my little family will be healthy and happy this Thanksgiving, and that is really all I can ask for. I'm thankful for restful Sundays.