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:
SLEEP IN!!!!
2pm: Drive to Moorpark for Day After Christmas dinner with my Dad's extended family.

*whew*

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

Merry Christmas!
-Jen

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!

-Jen

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 Etsy.com (cherrytreethreads.etsy.com) 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:
BROKEN CHAIN
“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!
-Jen

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!
-Jen

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!

-Jen

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.

-Jen

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: My Mom

Again, I know I was going to wait until next week to be thankful for the people in my life, but once again, I find it hard to resist!

I had lunch today with my mom. And let me tell you - an hour is NEVER enough. She and I could litterally talk for hours. And we have! And I always realize way too late just how much I have to tell her when I see her. I need more hours in the day.

When I was younger, I definitely went through that whole "I don't need anyone - including my Mom" phase. We had your typical arguments and miscommunications, as any teenager does with their mother. But I consider myself SO lucky. I know others who never moved out of that stage. Or worse, I know some who went from typical miscommunication to outright NO communication. But not me and my mom. We worked through that awkward phase of mine and now, she isn't just my mom. She's one of my best friends.

I can seriously tell her ANYTHING. And sometimes that is great, and sometimes, I have to remember, she's still my mom. Haha. But she takes it all in stride and with a heck of a lot of grace.

Best of all, my mom has never been "Mom," as so many others call their mothers. Nope, she hated that. And when I was younger that annoyed the crap out of me. But as time has gone on, I'm so thankful she never gave in. She's MamaBear. Or Mama for short. And that title says so much about the kind of mom she is. She's warm and compassionate. She's protective and inclusive. No, she's not fuzzy, but she certainly is cuddly! She gives great MamaBear hugs! She listens really well and always seems to say the right thing - even when the right thing is the LAST thing you wanted to hear. She's got great judgment and she's just so darn cute on top of it all!

My Mama has always been the proud type - proud of her husband, proud of her baby girls, proud of her family. She's always encouraged both me and my sister in whatever it was we were taking on. And she never missed an opportunity to tell us just how proud of us she was. I think it was (and still is) a huge contributor to why we both succeeded in a lot of areas growing up. I owe a lot to my Mama. She believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. She sacrificed so much to give me everything she could. I'm super lucky to have someone like her looking out for me.

I tell people that if I end up being half the Mama she is, then I know I'm doing something right. She'll be embarrassed that I said that on here, knowing that a whopping 2 dozen people read my blog now. But it's true. She's a really special woman and I'm so thankful God put the two of us together. He knew I needed a mom like her - He knew I needed a MamaBear.

I'm Thankful that I have always had someone looking out for me. I am thankful I have always had someone to turn to. I am thankful that I have always had someone there willing to pick up the pieces, even when the reason a situation was such a mess was totally my fault. I am thankful for her wisdom and her insight. OH! And a super big shout out to her home remedies, too! (Remember the pics of the tar on the entire Exec Cab's feet my Senior year in college? Yea - MamBear to the rescue on that one!)

My mom is more than a mom to me. She's an inspiration. She's a goal of something to live up to. She's an example worth following. And she's such an amazing friend. I'm SUPER thankful for my MamaBear.

Love Jen
;-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: socks

By show of hands, who likes to wear socks? Anyone? Anyone?

Well, I do. I LOVE socks. They are so comfy and so squishy and soft and warm! A good pair of socks really can't be beat.

But, of course, they can't be just any socks. No, my socks have character. For example: one of my favorite pairs is the powder blue pair with rainbow paw prints all over them. Or what about the white ones with he multi-colored shamrocks? I have socks for pretty much every holiday, too. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, just to name a few.

I also have several different colors of argyle, and some more subtle patterns that I could wear to work under dress pants. But NONE of my socks are plain. Even my tennis shoe socks have a stripe or a color or a small pattern on them. Each pair of socks has it's own personality. I love to wear them and show them off when I can.

Now that the weather has turned cooler, I get to wear socks! I'm so happy! Currently I'm wearing the multi-colored shamrocks. Tomorrow? Who knows. It is all about what I choose to wear and what mood I'm in. But I'm thankful that this subtle accessory of mine makes me feel so good. I'm thankful for the comfort they bring. I'm thankful that they keep my feet warm, too! I'm Thankful for MY socks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Traditions

Can't you just hear it?

Tradiiitiooooooon! Tradition!

Every time I hear the word "Tradition" I hear Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing "Tradition!"

And man, does my family have Thanksgiving Traditions. Everything from religiously watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to cooking our Turkey on the BBQ, I can always count on our family traditions.

Thanksgiving for my family is always at my Grandmother's house in Carson City, NV. On Turkey Day, the cooking starts at 9am. Bird/stuffing first. Everyone contributes something - appetizers, garnishes, entrees, drinks... everyone has a hand in our feast. Our appetizers always end up being "lunch" and they are always predictable: shrimp, olives, pate, olives, veggies, olives, some kind of bread, oh... and did I mention olives? (My favorite!)

We always have 2 meats - Turkey and Ham. This year, I'm cooking the ham. We always have jello salad - this year is Orange. So yummy. We always have rolls, stuffing, salad, veggies (that I never eat), mashed potatoes and MORE OLIVES!! And then dessert, which is a pie or two and cheese cake.

The "Kids" (which is still me, my sister, and now Anthony) set the table, which will have 13+ people at it this year, before cooking is done. PopPop always says the prayer. Everyone helps out with clearing the table and with the dishes to make it easier and faster. Then afterwards, we play games as a family with the TV on in the background.

T-day is a whole weekend for my family. And we go bowling on black friday to avoid the shopping crowd. And we eat left overs for lunch and have Taco night for dinner. AH-maaaaazing! Seriously - a house full of mexicans and spaniards? Yea - let's just say, we do Taco night RIGHT!

And this year, we add another tradition! Anthony, of course, has to contribute this year too. So he taught me how to make Cardemom bread like his mom makes for Thanksgiving every year and we are bringing that to the feast. It is one of Anthony's favorite traditions of his own Thanksgivings, and now it is a part of ours! I am so happy to share our very first holiday together as a married couple. Well... second. I seem to remember spending 4th of July with him this year...

So I'm thankful for traditions - both new and old. ;-)

-Jen

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: The cold weather

Jen confession #102 - I'm a cold wuss. Like, no joke, I used to wear sweatshirts in the spring and early summer in Southern California because I was cold. Yea. Wuss.

Then, in 2007, Anthony and I moved from SoCal to NorCal. And I learned that what I thought was "cold" was never actually cold. From early September to late March you need full on pants, jackets, scarves and closed toe shoes. It is below 50 degrees for 4 months straight! (Now I know anyone who has lived in snow is laughing at me, but dude - baby steps, people!)

So I was forced to adjust. I worked through it. I got used to the weather. I survived.

And then, this year, we moved back to SoCal. And we are one week away from Thanksgiving, and tonight, for the first time, I thought "Oooo. It's cold." Until now, it's been cool. And I was wearing flip flops and sweaters or long sleeved t-shirts while all my friends are in hoodies and tennis shoes.

And let me tell you - Anthony and I have just been so miserable with the heat! All the way through to Thanksgiving! What gives? We complain (to each other) that we miss Fall in NorCal. But going back to live there won't be happening for several years. So having some Fall weather here makes us feel more at home. I, and I think I speak for Anthony too, am very thankful that Fall seems to have finally arrived here in SoCal. Wooo hoo!

-Jen

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Anthony

So, I was going to wait until the week of Thanksgiving to do a few blogs about the people in my life that I am thankful for. And of course, one of the people I am most thankful for is my husband, Anthony.

But I felt like I had to do this one today. On the way to work this morning, I heard a song by Daruis Rucker called "History in the making." The song is all about this guy who is making a memory out of the current moment he is sharing with his girl and saying that this could be a moment they want to remember as part of their personal history. One of the lines in the chourus that just hit me was, "Baby this - could be our last 'first kiss'."

Have you ever thought about that? That the person you spend your life with gave you the last 'first kiss' you'll ever have? I really never did until today. Anthony and I will celebrate 5 years together on Friday. And 5 years ago this month, I had my very last "first kiss." I remember it like it just happened, but it's odd to think that it will never happen again.

And then I look at my husband, sitting next to me and I think about all the things he does for me - like being in his jeans and white t-shirt (my favorite) that he chose to wear, just for me. He cooks for me. He buys silly little gifts for me on random Tuesdays just to tell me he loves me. He takes such good care of me, every day. And he gives THE BEST hugs and kisses. (Nope - don't want to hear rebuttle. End of story - THE. BEST.)

He makes me laugh like you wouldn't believe. The laughter we share brings us to tears on a pretty regular basis. And he teaches me new things every day. He pushes me to think both inside and outside of the box. He encourages my creativity, and he puts up with my crazy shinanigans.

He is a family man, who has embraced my large, loud, crazy family - and accepted me into his even larger, even louder, even crazier one. And through everything we've created our own little crazy family. Granted, right now it is just him, me and the dog, but it is our family nontheless.

Anthony inspires me, every day, to be the woman and the wife and the friend I want to be. I am so thankful to have Anthony in my life. I am so thankful he chose me. I am so thankful he loves me with all of his heart and lets me love him right back. I am thankful for his hugs and his kisses and his funny, quirky sense of humor.

I love Anthony more than he knows. And as we look back on our first 5 years together, I can't help but be thankful that he gave me my last 'first kiss.'

Love you, Ant. Happy 5 years on Friday!!
-Jen

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Sewing Skills

I have a VERY funny dog.

He insists on sleeping underneath blankets. He actually puts his head on pillows. He buries himself in towels, laundry, or anything soft we leave around. I've even found him inside my hoodie sweatshirt before! But he's so darn cute, so we let him do these weird things whenever he wants.

He's a finicky dog. He only eats one kind of dog food - all other brands makes him sick. He only likes the bone marrow treats - the rest of them will be left on the floor for me to step on. He only likes rawhide sticks - not bones or ears or whatever. He only wants to bury himself in CLEAN laundry - dirty laundry is something he turns his nose up to. He doesn't want to sit next to you. It's your lap, or nothing. See? Finicky dog.

The thing he is most finicky about is: Toys. It must have three specific criteria to qualify as a "Pup" toy. 1) it must fit in his mouth. 2) it must be plush (as opposed to rubber or latex). 3) It MUST squeak.

His favorite squeaky toy is this very small orcha whale. We bought several of them at once, predicting that Target wouldn't carry them for long. And we were right. Finally, we are down to two orcha whales left. And one of them is... dun dun dun! defective! The squeaker is broken! So of course, Pup won't play with it. Sad face.

And then, this afternoon, it happened. He tore apart the one he will play with. It is dead. It's just not something we can let him play with any more. He was so upset when I took it away. He whined and barked and just looked so pathetic. And he, of course, turned his nose up at the non-squeaking one when I brought that out as a replacement.

And then, the lightbulb went on! I thought - ok - I'll take the working squeaker out of the old whale, and put it in the new whale! So I pulled out the old squeaker from the huge rip. Then I got out my seam ripper, thread and needle, and went to work. ORCHA SURGERY!!! I ripped the seam of the new whale, took out the broken squeaker, made the switch, sewed him back up, and voila! WHOLE NEW TOY. And Pup is already warming up to the new whale! (It always takes a day or two - he knows it isn't the same toy.)

But the best part of the story? Pup was just so funny as I was "in surgery." I was here, on our couch, stiching the whale back up, and pup was just so crazed! He was jumping up and down and whining and trying to bite the whale to take it from me - I think he thought I was hurting it!! He was like a worried parent uncertain that the Doctor even knew what she was talking about, let alone what she was doing! It was so cute. Poor guy. But it was worth it! He took it out of my hand when I was done and ran away to protect it.

All is well that ends well. Pup is happy with his new toy, and I am happy that the old whale is finally gone. And that is a long winded way to say - I'm super Thankful for my sewing skills!!! They came in handy!

Now I just have to figure out what to do in 8 months when the "new whale" becomes the "old whale" and I have no quick fix. ;-) Oh well.

-Jen

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: A clean house and Popsicles

Gah! I did it again! I TOTALLY forgot about blogging yesterday. Plumb forgot. BUT I forgot because of what I was doing instead - cleaning my house.

So, yesterday, I would have written that I am Thankful for a Clean house:
Jen confession #82 - I am not always the cleanest person in the world... I can be sort of "messy."
Jen confession #83 - I have a neat freak buried deep in me somewhere and she comes out a couple of times a year.

One of those times was yesterday. Maybe it was because the house had literally exploded at the seams. Maybe it was because I'd vacuumed at work, caught the cleaning bug, and brought it home with me. Maybe it was because my Mother-In-Law was coming over the next day. It was most likely a combo of all three. Either way, Anthony and I came home from work yesterday, ate dinner, changed clothes, and cleaned our apartment - top to bottom.

Anthony cleaned the kitchen until it sparkled. I put everything away and dusted the whole house. DUSTED! I even got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed our bathroom floor! We finally finished unpacking everything, and all of our "stuff" has finally found a home. We did laundry and vaccuumed and put all the dog toys away. Dude, let me tell you - MY.HOUSE.IS.CLEAN. So clean that when my MIL came over this morning, she commented! She told me my house looked nice and clean!!! (I know that Elissa and Becka are reading this and their jaws are hitting the floor) You have to know Linda - but if there ever was a woman out there who would win a Gold Medal if "cleaning house" was an Olympic Sport, it would be her. Talk about clean freak! So when SHE thinks MY house is clean... It's like wow.

If you know me well, I'm not really the one who seeks approval. The way I do things is just that - How I do things. And if you don't like it, tough toenails. BUT there are a few things that I can't help but get excited about when I hear them - like when I bake/cook something and my mom thinks it tastes great. Or when I solve a puzzle and Anthony give me props. This is one of those times... A seal of approval on a clean house from the MIL makes me feel pretty good.

But the best part? I freakin LOVE my apartment. And I love it a million times more when it is clean. There is so much space! And it's so cute! (If I do say so, myself!) It's small, and slightly eclectic, but it's ours. And we are so happy here. I can relax in my livingroom when it's this clean. So I'm thankful for my clean house.

As for today, I am Thankful for Popsicles.

Yup. Popsicles.

As I was writing this, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to tell you all that I was Thankful for for today. And then, Anthony, without me even asking, brought me my last creamsicle in the box. It made me so happy! And I knew what to write about.

I insist on always having them in the freezer. Currently there is half a box of Chocolate Pops left. But creamsicles are my favorite. Mmmmm. Gotta love that creamy center! I love that popsicles can be fruity, creamy, or chocolatey. I love that they are always sweet, and always COLD. (Obviously, right?) Popsicles just make me happy! And it makes me even happier to know that my husband knows me so well. So tonight, I am thankful for that cold, sweet treat. I am thankful that it is one of those "simple things" that Anthony can do for me. I am thankful for the happy feeling I get when I eat one. So yea - I'm Thankful for Popsicles. ;-)

-Jen

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Pilates

Ho-leeee-coooowww. I'm in pain. But a good pain. A pain that is rightfully earned with sweat (thankfully no blood, or tears... but close!).

I started doing Pilates earlier this year. A wonderful friend of mine, Kristen Routh, teaches the class. Kristen and I go way back. She was literally my first friend at CLU. We were paired up in an activity in our Peer Group over oritentation weekend and have been friends ever since. We had so much in common - Sports Med majors (hence our peer group pairing), dancers at heart, sarcastic sense of humor, dog lovers... the list goes on. She's great...

BUT. (There is always a but) She is a tough cookie. Man-alive, she is a buff woman. Strongest girl I know. Honest to God. Seriously - she has this quiet nature about her, but I would NEVER want to make her mad. She kicks my butt every week without ever touching me. I don't want to know what her punch would feel like!!!

And her class is as tough as she is. My best girl, Miranda, came with me to class tonight, and she agrees - this isn't just Pilates. This is ass-kicking, body molding, strength building, craziness! And, that being said, we are so thankful!

As a child/teenager, I was THAT girl - the athletic/dancer/gymnast/skinny girl who could eat anything. Sorry if you hate me now. But I was active. I ran around like a crazy person, so what I ate never mattered. And the metabolism was higher than you ever want to know (even actually dangerously high.) While I'm still "skinny-mini," I finally have the ability to gain weight, the metabolism isn't quite as high, and I'm no where near as active. So if I want to stay that girl that you all love to hate (which, honestly, I do!) then I've got to do SOMETHING. And let's get real - skinny doesn't = Fit. I am SUCH A WUSS!!! I can't lift anything. I can't run long distances. I am asthmatic. I am so not fit. So pilates keeps me active, and is helping be build strength. I did push-ups! 5 REAL push-ups in a row, no giving up or giving in. I've NEVER done that before. And while that is no big deal for so many peope out there, it's HUGE for me. So I'm making progress and I'm thankful for that.

So I'm thankful for the sweat. I'm thankful for the newfound strength. I'm thankful for the chance to be active. And I'm thankful to have a little friendly competition with Miranda (thanks for being such an awesome pilates partner!) and for a chance to see my good friend Kristen on a regular basis. I'm Thankful for Pilates.

-Jen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Rolly Chairs, Blokus, And Glee!

Gah!!!! I've missed 2 days!!! Sorry people, time just got away from me.

Ok, to make up for it, here was Monday's Thankful Item: Rolly Chairs.

Yup - you heard me. Office chairs that have wheels on the bottom of them so you can roll. Gotta tell ya - LIFE SAVERS in my office. My boss's desk is about 15 feet from me. Close enough to talk, but not close enough to throw things safely, or see her computer screen. So... when I need to be about 3 feet from her (about 8-10 times a day) I roll.

Oh - and I have not 1, but 2 desks. Have I ever mentioned that? Yea - computer desk is the main one, about about 6 feet to my right is my second desk, where I do all of our office shipping and catalog "stuff." This second desk holds a good 20% of my day! So, I roll.

Rolly chairs - the vehicle of the modern office. That's how I roll. And I'm Thankful. ;-)


Tuesday's Thankful Item: Blokus.

If you have never played this game (or even heard of it), DUDE. It is an awesome game. It's a puzzle, and looks like Tetris, but slightly different. It is seriously HOURS of fun for me and Anthony, and last night - we picked up the "Travel" version for our trip to Reno for Thanksgiving. It's so cool! We played it last night before we went to bed, just to make sure all the pieces were there. (And to anyone who's played with our normal size set - the blue "one piece" actually came with this one! Woot!).

Blokus makes me think. It makes me strategize. And I CAN BEAT ANTHONY AT IT!!! I am so thankful for the fun it brings to our home.

And Today's Thankful Item: Glee.

If you aren't a Glee fan... well, then we simply can't be friends anymore. ;-) Just kidding. But seriously - BEST.SHOW.EVER. But the best part for me isn't that the show litterally mirrors my life in High School, or that there is FINALLY a "HSM" for adults, or that this craze of singing kids is sweeping the nation. Nope - the best part for me is that Alyse, my sister, comes over to our house to watch it with us. Every week. Without fail. I get my time with her, diving into a world we've been a part of for sooooooooo long and is finally COOL!!! We are at home with this show, and we get silly and excited when it comes on. (Like when we litterally SCREAMED out loud when Emma sang for the first time! AND she sang "Could Have Danced All Night" from my fair lady. I mean, is there a better song out there for her? I think not!)

So I'm thankful for the show, and how happy it makes me. But most of all I'm thankful for one more thing my sister and I have in common and can share. Because my time with her is priceless.

-Jen

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Pasta

Blog #4:

Oh Pasta - How I love thee. Let me count the ways!

Dude. I. LOVE. PASTA. I have since I was a kid - a kid small enough to truly think it was really called "noodles." And the finicky eater in me has changed so little since then. I wouldn't touch pasta unless it had butter on it. LOTS of butter. ONLY butter. And then, as my iron deficiency reared its ugly head in my pre-teen years, it was butter and salt only! No red sauce. No cheese. No veggies. No meat. (Yup - you heard me. No meat!)

My favorite dinner of all time was steak and pasta. But not just any steak and pasta. No. No. No. It was specifically Steak and Pasta made by my Teca (Grandma on my dad's side.) Man oh man. She DRENCHED the pasta in butter. And she cooked the steak JUST right. (which is probably why my dad does steak so well). And she never argued about my sister and I wanting NOTHING to do with veggies. It was a special dinner we got throughout my childhood, and I'd give anything to have one more. Sadly, Teca left this world in 2002 and I've had to find other ways to like my pasta since.

In college, I discovered a love for Parmesan Cheese. Salty Cheese???? Yes please!!! And now, my pasta has evolved from "plain butter" to "Pasta with Butter, Salt, Parmesan, and the occasional helping of grilled chicken." I've also conceeded occasionally to have my pasta with a meat sauce - of course there needs to be very little sauce and A LOT of meat, still covered in parmesan, but still - I'll eat it. But I just love pasta. After all this time. And it is so easy to make. Truth be told, it is the first thing I ever learned to cook.

So, as I eat my curly-q pasta with butter, salt, and parmesan, I am thankful for so many reasons. I'm Thankful for the memories I have of Teca in my childhood. They were great times. I am thankful that, no matter where I am or what I am doing, pasta is always an easy fix to my eating issues. And I am thankful that there is a comfort food that makes me so happy all the time. So yea - I'm Thankful for Pasta.

-Jen

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Weddings

Bolg #3:

Anthony and I just got home from a wedding. Through facebook, I have reconnected with an old friend from High School. Her name is Danica and she got married today! (Shout out, and congrats to her and Rob!)

Danica and Rob are Mormon and got married in a Temple this morning, which Anthony and I could not attend (although I really would love to see the inside of a Mormon Temple someday - I hear they are just beautiful.). Anthony and I went to the reception this evening. Gotta say - it was beautiful. They went with fall colors - browns and oranges - with accents of a lime green. It was a great combo! And there were little silk leaves on the tables too! And the room was draped with a white cloth coming from the center of the room where 3 huge paper lanterns were lit. It was just lovely. And you could tell that Danica and Rob were happy, too. She looked gorgeous! Like a princess.

I couldn't be happier for my old friend. And, of course, I couldn't help but think back to my own wedding, just 4 months ago. It was everything I wanted - My Hunter Green colors, the dress that made me feel like a princess, decorations that fit my personality, and our family and friends by our sides. It was a wonderful day I will never forget. And I'm so Thankful that it turned out the way it did.

So many people worked really hard to help me and Anthony have our special day. Mostly our parents and our bridal party. And it went off without a hitch because I had so many people looking out for me. I remember only good things from that day.

So I am thankful for weddings. I am thankful that Danica found her Prince Charming and had her happy day. And I am Thankful for the people in my life that made my own wedding possible and so spectacular. I'm one lucky girl.

-Jen

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: RootBeer

Bloggy Blog #2:

Jen Confession #8 - I'm addicted to caffeine. And not just caffeine. But caffeine in the form of Soda. Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper... I can't help myself! I love soda!

But, as we all know, caffeine is not a good thing to be addicted to. So I've worked very hard over the last month or so, and gotten myself down to 1 (count it - ONE) cup/can of caffeinated soda per day. And some days I've totally gone without. (Truth be told - having piggy flu for two weeks didn't hurt the effort! I was on water and juice the whole time!)

I'm super proud of my accomplishment and anyone who has known me for any reasonable amount of time knows what a feat this is. But I will tell you that I get easily bored of water, apple juice, and lemonade.

This afternoon, it hit me - that 3pm lull where I might actually fall asleep with my eyes open at my desk. I had little choice - so I walked over to "Merlin's," a little deli about 5 doors down from Charming, and had my first soda since Tuesday. Ahh. Blissful caffeine rush. It got me through the rest of my day, for sure. But, that meant no more soda for today. And that sucked because I had intended to have a soda with dinner. And it was a huge dissapointment to replace it with propell water. So for the rest of the night I was craving a soda. Of any kind. Oh well. Had to deal. So I went the evening without my much desired beverage.

And then!!! Anthony to the rescue!!! We were out and about and he reminded me that most RootBeers don't have any caffeine! So, while we were out and about, he walked me over to Bristol Farms to get one. But they were closed. Boo. So he drove me to the McDonalds down the street. Ummmmm.... when did McDonalds stop serving RootBeer? Boo. So he drove me to Rite-Aid. And once again! Foiled! No RootBeer!!! So Anthony drove me to Ralphs (in the same parking lot) and FINALLY!!! We found Mugs RootBeer in the refrigerated section. It was wonderful! I had my soda, and didn't break my rule about "no more than one can of caffeine!" So cool.

So, that is a long winded way of saying I am Thankful for RootBeer. Oh - and one amazing husband. ;-)

-Jen

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today, I am Thankful for: Charming Pet Products

Bloggy-blog #1 of my "I am Thankful" Series.

Today, I am thankful for "Charming Pet Products." This is the company I work for. And I'm thankful for them for a myriad of reasons. First of which is: I HAVE A JOB!! I was laid off from Stanford in April, and finding work in this economy was no easy feat! But Charming (as we call it) has embraced me with open arms... and a much needed pay check.

So, yes. I'm thankful to have a job at all. I know not everyone around me is so lucky. And while I could easily complain trivial things like my pay is lower than I'm accustomed, or the work isn't part of my desired field, or whatever else there possibly is to complain about (can't be much I only came up with 2!), why would I? I have a job. I'm thankful.

But I am duly thankful for the job in-and-of-itself. I am thankful that I am busy most of the day. I am thankful that I believe in the company and our products. I am thankful that it is a relaxed setting (as I sit here in Jeans and a T-shirt). And I am super thankful that the hours are flexible. For example. Just a few weeks ago, a friend needed a mid-day lift to the airport. My boss said, "come in an hour early and take a 2 hour lunch. Help your friend." Easy peasy.

I am thankful that I get to bring my dog to work! Pup, bless him, is such a fickle little guy. Being alone ALL DAY upsets him - and then we get things like torn up bathroom trash or knocked over tray tables or "gifts" of the most unpleasant kind when we get home. So I am SO THANKFUL that I get to bring the little mooch...er... I mean pooch to work with me every morning. He gets a car ride that he cherishes, he gets exercise when Henry (the Boss's dog) chases him around the office, and he is only alone for 4 hours in the afternoon, which he can TOTALLY handle. Problems solved. So I am very thankful for that.

Ooooooo! And I'm Thankful that I work close enough to home that I get to go home for lunch with the Hubby pretty much daily! SUPER BONUS!

And most importantly, I am thankful for my bosses, Christine & Nick. They aren't just bosses, they are becoming friends. Not only do they treat me as an equal around here, but they share their lives (which, with two little ones is never boring!) with me, and let me share mine with them. I feel a certain amount of respect for the knowledge I bring to the table, and for the first time in a long time, I feel truly appreciated for the work I accomplish.

So, as I sit here at my Charming desk at the end of the day - noticing that both bosses have left for the day, leaving me to my own devices and trusting that it's all gotten done (which it has), that I really couldn't be more blessed with the job that finally said "Yes!" to me. I promise to not take it (or anything that goes along with it) for granted.

I am Thankful for Charming Pet Products. =)
-Jen

So many new toys!

Hi All!

Ok, so this blog is going to be a jumble of thoughts and craziness!

First off, CherryTree Threads is online!!! Check us out at CherryTreeThreads.etsy.com and take a look around. Right now I've only got 9 pieces of Jewelry up, but a few blankets, aprons, and a few "Holiday" items are in the works and should be up in the next few weeks. Great gift ideas here people!!!

Also - I want to know what you think! I need all the help and (constructive!) criticism I can get! So facebook me with feedback, or email me at cherrytreethreads@gmail.com

I also will do custom jobs! So if you are looking for something for yourself, or for a great gift for a friend/loved one, let me know! I'd love to work it out.

Onto the next thing - this blog is also a TEST RUN! My friend, Amy, pointed me in the direction of TwitterFeed.com (I stalked the info on twitter, Amy! Thanks!) Supposedly, if I set it up right, this blog should appear on my Facebook, and a URL to it should appear on my twitter. We'll see if I did it right.

If you aren't already following me on twitter - click "Follow Me on Twitter" off to the right hand side of the blog! CherryTree will have one soon. We'll update every time we add an item to the site.

Enough with business... On a more personal agenda - I have to apologize. I know several of you have been waiting patiently for the next installment of "The Cupcake Project." It is to be a replica of "Starry Night" in icing. Crazy, I know. Unfortunately, I must put the entire project on hold for a little bit. With the holidays coming, and us being the Newlyweds figuring out budgets and such, money is not something I can spend at will. And truth be told, cupcakes happen to be one of my more expensive hobbies. So sorry, but Starry Night won't happen until sometime after the New Year. Forgive me. I'll make it up to you. You can come eat the cupcakes when I finally do finish it. ;-)

In it's place, I've taken on a few other (much lower cost) ideas. First of which is a journey my Friend Miranda and I plan to take together and document. In an attempt to open up our creative brains, we are blindly following a book I bought a few months back called "Wreak this journal." It is a journal that tells you to do absolutely outrageous things to it, in it, around it, etc. in an effort to get you to be more creative. It is meant to be totally left up to our interpretations. So that will be fun to see, and interesting to learn what comes out of it. More on that soon.

Next, I took yet another idea from my friend Amy and modified it. Every Year she does a "December Daily" where she writes a short blog for every day of December. In the blog she covers everything from Holiday Traditions, to photo's of the season, to what she's doing with her family and friends in the Christmas Spirit! Looks like fun! But so as not to steal her thunder (just her wonderful ideas!) I'm starting now. And then, of course, the Theme will be "Thanksgiving." Everyday (starting today - right after I finish this blog) I am going to write a small blurb about something I am Thankful for. I'll do it right up to Thanksgiving day! Should be fun! Please feel free to also steal the idea. I'd love to hear all about what everyone around here is Thankful for this Holiday Season.

Lastly, I'm working on some blog ideas for December. The Holiday season is my favorite time of year - not just for the obvious reasons of cheer and good food - but for the togetherness. The events that surround the holidays that ensure I see people I wouldn't otherwise see, and the people I choose to spend my time with. The holiday season brings out the best in people and I love the festiveness of it all. So I'll be blogging about some of my favorite Holiday Traditions, as well as exploring some new ones! Should be a fun adventure.

Lots and lots to come from the bloggy-blog. Hope I can keep up!

Have a great day, everyone!
-Jen

Monday, November 2, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Sorry everyone! I've been super busy over the last 2 weeks and have ZERO time to blog. But I wanted you all to know I didn't fall off the face of the planet or anything. I have some great things to blog about very soon! Promise!

In the meantime, check out my newest gadget!!!
(Off to the right and down a little) ------------------------------------->
CherryTree Threads is officially being sold on Etsy.com:

There is only one item on there right now (just figuring it all out!) But I hope to have several more items up before the week's end. And I make custom pieces!! So if you want something made especially for you, let me know! We'll get it done! You can email me with requests and pricing at cherrytreethreads@gmail.com.

Woot!
-Jen

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CherryTree Threads

Alright - It's time to go public.

No, I don't have some big hairy secret or anything. I have an idea. Well, "We" (as in Anthony & I) have an idea. And that is to start my own run-from-home business. My "Arts & Crafts" have started to take over, and I've had several people (from friends to complete strangers) ask "How much?" for some of the things I make.

Most prominent of these items are the jewelry pieces I've made. Next are the blankets/quilts I've been making. The last item is a new venture, so we'll see how it goes - Anyone interested in really cute, really flirty aprons? The baker/party hostess in me loves the idea of having aprons that match my shoes. Hahaha.

I'm working on a website through showitsites.com (Thanks Bri and Sandy!!) and working on everything from a logo to a mission. I've got a lot of work cut out for me, but I think it will be really fun. And if it works, maybe it will be something I end up doing full time. I've learned a lot from the small businesses around me - My dad, a few friends, and even the company I work for now. I'm going to start small and see where it takes me. I've got a couple of "Projects" (what I call each item I work on) going on in the Jewelry department, and I plan on taking pictures of what is available and putting it on the site. I'm hoping to have the site up and running by Halloween.

But the one thing I think will set me apart is that I don't plan on selling just pre-made things. I am putting a page on my site where customers can contact me with ideas of their own that I can custom make for them - I mean, that is how this whole thing really started! I didn't like anything I found out there for jewelry for me and for my bridesmaids for my wedding - so I learned how to make it! And it was perfect. Exactly what I wanted. I'd love to make simple little details like that easy for Brides coming down the pike.

I know that my ideas and concepts are a little "all over" at the moment. But it's coming together. And I have a name! I knew from the word "Go" that I wanted to incorporate my love of Cherries into my logo and theme. Anthony came up with CherryTree Threads, and I fell in love. So there it is!! I'm excited for the adventre. Keep checking back for more news!

-Jen

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thousand Oaks Quilting Show!

We LOVE Quilts!
As some of you already know, one of my ever expanding hobbies is quilting. I got into quilting for my mom last year. We have this family tradition where every year we pick each other's names out of a hat. They person you draw is the person you make a handmade Christmas gift for the next year. Well, last year, I had my mom as the person to make a gift for. She'd loved quilts for a long time and within recent years had started to learn to quilt. But I knew that she wanted a companion to do these projects with, and I thought - sure. Why the heck not? I'll learn.

So, my good friend and co-worker (who's been quilting, the old fashioned way (by HAND) since she was about 12 or so) agreed to teach me the basics. She was an AWESOME teacher. She made everything about this intricate art make sense.

This is a picture of a quilt sewn by hand in the 1930's:


So, I made my first basic quilt: a purple lap quilt in a "chair rail" pattern and I gave it to my mom last Christmas. I told her the quilt was the tangible gift for her to hang on to, but the real gift was that I had learned to quilt so we could quilt together. She cried.

Here we are, and almost a year later, my mother and I have a real love and appreciation for this art, and we've actually been making quilts along the way! I've made 3 so far (the first, plus one for my nephew, Max, when he was born in March, and the largest quilt I've made so far was for my sister as a gift to commemorate her Graduation from CLU in May) and I'm currently working on the most daunting quilt I've tried so far - a queen sized bed quilt called a "wedding quilt" to have here at home for me and Anthony. Imagine! A quilt for me!!!!

Just one of the more intricate quilting patterns possible out there!
Well, my Mom found out that CLU was hosting a local Quilting show, so of course, we had to go. It was amazing! The quilts were fabulous, and the fabrics for sale were too cute to pass up. We had such a good time on our "Mommy/Daughter" day, and we learned some new things along the way! Plus, we both have new ideas for quilts, and some new projects, too! Check it out!

Trunk of trimmings!

A Quilt that my Mom and I bought raffle tickets for. Hope we win!!!

Hippo & Elephant Print! You have no idea how cool/rare this combo is!!

My mom bought the print in 2 colors to make totes for me and my sister.
Our favorite Animals are Elephants and Hippos, Respectively.

Trying out the "Quilting Chair" which is ergonomically correct for quilting!

Historic Themed Quilt! How neat!


I took a liking to the next quilt:



Very cool concept: Bicentennial Celebration of a town, this quilter went door to door collecting neck ties from each family! She embroidered the family names on the ties, then quilted it together - naming it "Ties that Bind" and displayed it at the town celebrations. How great is that????

You can TOTALLY see that it is made of neck ties!
Totes!


Quilt made of old Jeans! How cool! I'm never throwing another pair away again!

Just some more beautiful quilts that I loved:





I can't wait until I'm good enough some day to have one of my quilts in a show. That would be so awesome! But I've got a ways to go before then. This was so much fun, and I can't wait to get started on my next quilt! I promise to blog about it, and a couple of other sewing projects in the works, when they are complete.

-Jen

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Expanding our horizons

Anthony and I recently started to really look at our daily diets and how it effects our lives. If you weren't already aware, I am SUPER picky. I don't eat things that are green, except for green apples and celery. I don't eat vegetables except for corn, celery, & carrots. I don't eat seafood of any kind. I don't like potatoes, or meatloaf, or most soups. I don't like tomatoes, or onions, or mushrooms. And I'm not a big cheese person at all. But I still HAVE to have cheddar cheese on my hamburgers and Parmesan on my pasta. Oh - and my foods are almost never allowed to touch each other on the plate. I hate that. Bleh.

When Anthony and I met, I felt wonderful because I'd finally met someone who ate a lot like me! Plain, simple, and carbo loaded. But a few years ago, Anthony started to branch out, and he has FAR surpassed me. But maybe not in a good way - he hasn't been eating all that healthily. So we decided 2 things. That I needed to branch out more, and Anthony needed to eat better. So, we've been trying. And it's been going well! We've almost totally cut out Soda (and Anthony has already lost a pound or two because of it!) and there are more fruit and veggies in the house now than I think there has ever been.

So, in honor of making this new lifestyle a routine, Anthony (the cook between the two of us) made us dinner last week in our brand new wok! (Shout out of Thanks to my parents for buying it for him for his b-day! It's coming in handy!)

We marinated lean steak strips in a Baja Chipotle sauce overnight. Anthony threw the meat, along with an orange bell pepper and some shrimp into the wok, and voila! A pretty hearty meal! We put that over rice, and had at it. It was so tasty! And much healthier than what we normally eat! Check out the pics!


Now, I could just stop there and pretend I ate it like it looks above. But let's not kid ourselves here, folks. First, I don't eat shrimp. Second off, I'm pretty sure I don't like bell peppers. And third - IT'S ALL TOUCHING!!!!

Nope... This is what my plate looked like:Now, I did eat the pepper! I didn't like it enough to say, yea - I'd eat that all by itself! Or even enough to say I'd eat a lot of it in one dish! But I can tolerate it enough to eat them if they were mixed in with a dish, say at a Chinese restaurant or something. So that is a start. I didn't get the shrimp down. Smelled it and gagged. So Anthony ate it for me. But the meat and the rice were great together! And no soda, either. I had propel water. So while I'm so not saintly yet, I'm doing well on the trying new things!!! Let's hope I can keep it up!

-Jen

Monday, October 5, 2009

Things I want, but Cant Afford...

Impulses and I don't always get along. I'm totally guilty of doing the "impulse buy" when I'm out and about - bringing things home that I know I don't need, but still just "HAD TO HAVE." Anthony loves to roll his eyes at me for it.

I do this thing when I'm in stores with Anthony where I see something I want, but know I don't need - I tug on his arm or sleeve, point at it as if I were 5 years old, and pout, "Anferneeee! I want that." 5 years together and it's still never worked. Ha! I guess that is a good thing. Because if I'm honest (and I should be), Anthony rarely deprives me of things I want when we can afford it. It is always the things I want that would break the bank that he turns me down on, and I can't really argue with him on it.

In light of this little rant, I thought I'd put a list of things together that I REALLY want, but can't have. Or rather, can't afford. I bet you anything several of these items will end up on my Christmas or Birthday list in the near future - but trust me. I'm not holding my breath. Promise.

1) RosettaStone in Spanish & in Arabic.
- Seriously people! Ant and I aren't kidding when we tell people we want to be able to actually speak the languages of our heritage well enough to teach our kids. We have every intention of learning the languages, passing them on, and speaking them regularly in our home. But we gotta learn them first. Why does the darn program have to be so expensive? I'll tell ya why - IT WORKS. And supply and demand says that yes, they can charge $500 for the full lesson because who else is going to teach you? That's right. Nobody. Pony up.

2)
Coach Purse. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not all that "trendy" when it comes to designer things. But we all also know that I have 2 very distinct weaknesses... purses, and shoes. And not just any purse or shoe - no no! It has to be designer for it to really "wow" the crowd. Now, let's face it. I have one guess purse, and about 20 knock offs, and NONE of my shoes are designer, unless you count Ann Taylor as designer. I don't. I'm talking Calvin Klein, Gucci, Jimmy Choo - ok, I'll stop drooling now... Which brings me to:

3) Calvin Klein Mary Janes. Mmmmmmm. Look how pretty they are!!! I actually want the gray suede version of this, but I couldn't find a pic. But still... I want!

4)
J-Crew Black Dress. As part of my 101 in 1001, I'm on the search for the PERFECT "Little Black Dress." Look no further, people! I've found heaven in black cotton cady (as they call it). I've tried it on, and if looks could kill, you'd be dead! I love it. Too bad it is currently $225, and Anthony won't let me buy ANY one article of clothing exceeding $60. Hrumph!

5)
Elfa Storage Center for my home office. Yes, I have a home office. Actually, I share a home office with Anthony. And it needs help! We are organized people, no doubt! But there is just never enough space. I want to create a space for all of my beading and sewing projects so they won't get mixed up, wrinkled, or start to overlap on to Anthony's precious drawing boards. Help me Elfa! Help me!

6)
New Sectional Couch. Don't get me wrong - the futon ROCKS! But let's face it. We want a house. The Futon will rock the world of the office before too long, and we'll need something to sit on!!! And I've always wanted a sectional. They are so comfy and inclusive, and they just fit me so nicely. Can't you just see me, relaxing with a blanket, a book, and the dog on this? You know you can!

7)
Jewelry Armoire for my every growing collection. I make jewelry, people! My collection is starting to escape it's tiny little excuse for a Jewelry organizer, and I won't stand for it any longer! I need something like this, that holds it all, organizes it all, and matches our bedroom furniture. It's beautiful cherry wood and contemporary look and feel is calling out to me - "Jen! Come organize me!" Oy.

8)
Victoria's Secret Pea Coat. Just because. I'm the biggest cold wuss on the planet, and Anthony would indulge me with coats and scarves (my favorites!) when we lived up north as sort of a "Hey - Thanks for packing up your life and moving to a totally new place that is way colder than you ever expected so we could be together" gesture. Let's just say, it worked every time! I want to go back! And dangit, I want to go back with this in my suit case!

9)
My Siberian Husky. Oh Pup, don't feel betrayed. We love you to pieces. But let's be honest. Pup, you aren't a real dog. You are more of a dog/cat/mountain goat rolled into one, with the neediness of a small child to boot! I am a DOG person - through and through. I would never turn pup away, or get rid of him, or even think of such things! But I am fully aware that when his adorable/funny/crazy little life is over, it's back to big dogs that know how to sit, stay, FETCH, roll over, and heel. And man, am I in love with this breed. Such stunning beauty. Can't wait.

10)
The iPhone... I know, I know... "Jen! You said you hated that thing!" And really, I do. If I had a dime for every time I tried to get Anthony's, Phil's, Gaby's, Morgan's, and now even Beckie's attention away from that thing and failed, I'd take you out to lunch! But, alas, it's functionality, dependability, speed, and convenience have come to outweigh all that. The world is a changing people, and my "media phone" that let's me check email and my bank account and not much else just isn't going to cut it. If I'm going to own my own business someday, I've got to get over it and get one.

BUT I STILL DON'T HAVE TO LIKE TEXTING ON IT!! So there. :-)D

So there you have it. 10 things I really want, but can't afford at the moment. Anthony says that when I win the lottery, I can have all those things and more. Hahaha. I just have to remember, I have to play to win. ;-)

-Jen

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art & Wine Festival

Two Weekends ago, Anthony and I traveled up north to visit friends and attend the Annual Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival. We flew up to NorCal on Friday night, spent Saturday in San Francisco with Anthony's parents and good friend, Danny Greenia. We went wine tasting, had lunch at our favorite diner in Geradeli square, and wandered around for the afternoon. Saturday night, we went to the Sharks Vs. Cyotes Pre-Season Hockey game at the Shark Tank. Sharks won!!! Woot!!! (Sorry I don't have any pictures of that! Left the camera at home).

Sunday, we attended the Festival. We met up with Danny again, along with our friends Kim, Morgan, & Mariel, and enjoyed the music, the food, and the art! It was great fun! And Anthony ran into many old firends (or their parents) and got to introduce me all day as "My Wife, Jen." It was so cool to hear. Hahaha. Enjoy the photos!!!

Danny's Great Smile to start off our day!
Beautiful San Fran.
On the way to the Wine Cellar, we saw this in a store window. Lauged really hard and agreed that this is the kind of thing we'll probably dress our kids in when we have them. Too funny.
Ant & Danny in front of Cellar 360.
The View from our table:
The Boys, settling in.
:-) Great photo of Ant and his Mom laughing at something they were talking about.
Gaby loves to share wine!
Here we go, people! I'm trying wine!! Well, sniffing first...
Savengion Blanc - I actually could tolorate this one. It tasted like grapefruit.
Check out the spread! 2 different kinds of goat cheese and one kind of cow cheese - the cow cheese (the really thin one with the purple line) is "Drunken Cheese" which means it is soaked in wine. And those crustini's... OMG to DIE FOR!!! So Good. They were drenched in some buttery, salty, garlic-y goodness and we ordered a second plate! We ate every last one! Can't wait to go back, just for those!
Some artsy photos Ant and I took of the glasses:


Ant trying wine. Also a big step for him. Niether of us really like wine.
Oh, Danny - my wino friend. He and Gaby loved trying them, and discussing them.
Second one I "liked" (which really means that I can handle/tolorate it enough to drink a glass - I still don't actually LIKE any wine). It was about the 5th or 6th wine I tried. It is called Nightengale, and it is a dessert wine.

Napkin. Looks cool.
Wandering around SF means a trip to Boudin!!
The boys, checking out MORE wine. Hahaha.
Meet my new friend!
Segway Tour!!! I want to do this someday!
Sigh. I love San Fran...
Trolly!!!
Sunday, on our way to the festival.
How cute are parents? I love pictures like this of them and of my parents. I sneak them in whenever possible.
GIANT spider. Bleh!
Danny stole the camera for a while! It was a beautiful day, even if it was too hot!
Mr. Anderson's Band - we always watch them.
Oh Morgan... Never without the Iphone.
Anthony (wearing Kimmi's hat) and Kimmi!
The Group! (Minus me, the photographer)

We had such a great time visiting with everyone. A weekend up north after 6 months (or more for Ant) was a great treat! But it reminded us of how much we loved living up there, and now we miss it. Not that we didn't miss it before - we are just more aware of it. We love the people here in SoCal - they are one of the greatest reasons for being down here! But we know where we want to end up, long term. In the meantime we'll enjoy our mini vacay's to visit there. It was a great weekend! Can't wait for New Years!

-Jen