Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Countdown

John and I are heading up north today to spend Christmas with our families. The poor dude got up at 5am to get to work in hoping he'll finish by 3pm. Guess who got up at 9am? Ummmm...that would be me. I feel so bad I got 4 more hours of sleep than him! That is ridiculous!

Our time at home is going to be crazy as we only have 2 days with each family. I always remind myself that at least we get to see both families during Christmas. I know if that wasn't possible one of us would be really bummed out.

I wonder if I should shower today. Decisions, decisions. I've still got to pack and do some cleaning around the casa before we leave. What am I doing dinking around on the computer you might ask? Oh right...icing my ankle. Yes...my Achilles is still bad, and I'm still limping around like a gimp. It is getting better, but it's definitely not 100%. At least I can walk around, I mean limp around, with no pain. I am still icing it twice a day though.

So I'll be gone for about a week. I'm not sure if I will have something blogworthy to write about, or if I will have time. So until then, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Now he Really is Taller then Me

John brought this comparison photo home the other day from his chiropractor. Look at what a difference the chiro has made just in one year. He's even taller! Isn't that amazing? His hips are still too far forward, which they are going to work on, but it doesn't help that he sits in his car so much for work.

I feel so bad because I'm the one who begged him to start going to the Chiro, and I don't go! Isn't that awful? I think I might have to start going in January. I went before when I lived in the Bay Area and really liked it. I'll let you know if I stop being a hypocrite.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Does Oprah eat this?

Last week John and I received an early Christmas gift to ourselves. I few weeks prior to last we were watching the Food Network and they had a show on about Chicago Pizza vs. NY Pizza...which was better. We only caught the end of the show where they were focusing on the Chicago pizza, but it was very interesting. So interesting in fact that we decided to order some pizza online! (One minor downfall to having easy access to your computer while watching TV).

One of the best pizza places in Chicago, we learned, was pizza by Lou Malnati's. So good that you could have it delivered to your door frozen. They came packaged on dry ice:
We ordered a cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and spinach.
John and I both couldn't wait to try it since neither of us had ever had Chicago style pizza, (that we could remember).

A before photo of the pepperoni:
My piece of heaven:
Over all it was really good, but I did feel like I ate a pound of cheese. This week we tried the cheese pizza, and the pepperoni was much better. The cheese wasn't that flavorful.

It's definitely a different kind of pizza then NY or Italy. We met quite a few peeps from Chicago on our trip, and I'd always ask them if the pizza was better in Italy. The responses were mostly the same that they were two different to compare, and now I know what they meant.

If you know of a pizza lover then this would be a great gift, however I'm still partial to thin crust pizza.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lights

A few weekends ago John and I headed up to Atascadero to walk around the lake and look at the homes that were decorated. We've done this for the past two years, as my friend Steph organizes it. The highlight was definitely the food and company at Steph's house before we headed to the lake. This year seemed some what lack luster than last year. I think there were fewer homes decorated, and way less people. I did get to snack on some free hot chocolate, apple cider, and popcorn though, so it made walking by the dark houses less painful.

Here is a photo of Lucas checking out the lights:
Here is John striking a pose:
Here is Steph and I trying to get warm. (Is it also bad that I wanted to post this photo to show my mom that I wore the hat and scarf she knitted me? Yes I'm wearing two scarfs. For some reason I didn't bring my really warm coat, so John forked over his scarf.)
As I was writing this entry I wanted to link to the entry I wrote last year of this event, and then I realized that I didn't write one! I knew I had gotten some good photos, and I can't believe I didn't post them.

Sooooo just for your viewing pleasure I'm going to post a few from last year. Here is John and I both look a bit crazed. It must have been the cold. It was a lot colder last year.
Here is myself, Ellie, and Steph.
Last but not least here is Lucas. Look how small he was! He was totally stylin' in his Santa outfit though.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The C Word is back...and no it's not Christmas.

This past Friday John and I headed up to San Francisco for about 24 hours because I had my 'second opinion' appointment with Dr. Orloff at UCSF. (Which my local dr. recommended since my multiple scans hadn't located the mysterious thyroid cells in my body).

Before my appointment John and I met up with my uncle Eric for lunch. I got a recommendation from the doctors office of where to go and she suggested Ocean Taqueria. Let me just say that it was awesome! First of all it looked totally sketchy...sign number 1 that it's a good Mexican place, (Mr. Kin Burrito, John, taught me that). Second of all it had homemade tortillas and horchata! Our burritos were SO good. I swear...nothing beats a homemade tortilla!

After lunch we headed over to my appointment. I started out answering a bunch of questions for the doctor's assistant and then she wanted to take a look at my vocal cords to make sure they weren't damaged from my first surgery. No prob, I thought. Then she pulls out this device that is about 9 inches long and my stomach just sank. I think she saw the look on my face because she then told me that she wasn't going to put the whole thing down my throat. Thank god!

At the end of the device were two small lights and a video camera. She had to hold my tongue and then put the device at the very back of my throat. She then ask me to make some sounds like a vocal coach would. (I only gagged a couple of times.)

Where I was sitting, I couldn't see the video monitor, but John could, so I had to watch his reaction of watching the video. He made it seem like it was super exciting and it was killing me not being able to see it. However the nice lady did let me see the video after she was done. It was totally cool! It was neat to see how my vocal cords worked, but the whole area looked like an alien...or the mouth of the Predator. I also got to see my windpipe, which was neat. I asked her if she was going to be printing any of the photos, (in hoping that I could get one), but she didn't. (Later we realized that John could have videoed the video with my camera. Dang!) The video image kind of looked like this, but a lot grosser:
After that the dr. came in and asked more questions, and then did a neck exam where she felt all around my neck. I could tell that she knew exactly what she was feeling as she went over every part of my neck. She then asked me if I was left handed, (and I said yes), because I was more tight on my left side. So crazy.

I thought that she would just look over my test results and give me her opinion, but I was wrong. I was also going to get an ultra sound. Even John knew that. I don't know why I didn't think I would get one. My dr. here in SLO had told us that she was specially trained and performed all of her own ultrasounds. That is why her skill is so valuable and why can find things other technicians can't. Then she told us that she had to go to Germany for the training, and just now doctors in the US are getting the ultrasound machines in their offices. Talk about being behind in the times!

She was so thorough with the ultrasound. She took her time, and took a ton of screenshots. It will be great to have those images in the future to use as a reference to see if any of my other lymph nodes have grown. On my right side she noticed some calcium sparkles in one of my lymph nodes. She told me it was unusual and that it's something to keep an eye on. Thank goodness she found something! Then as she continued, she noticed more calcium in another lymph node. She then said since there are two that she'd like to try to biopsy the bigger one, even though it was only 1cm at it's widest point. I was in total shock. I biopsy right then and there? Now? Today? Crap. My first biopsy was really awful because the first dr. thought the numbing juice had kicked in, and it hadn't. John was sweet and asked me if I was ok because he knew how much I disliked my first one. It all happened so fast.

I asked her if I could see the lymph nodes so she showed me the sparkly calcium on the screen. She also told me how if she got any blood in the sample then it wouldn't be readable and how the lymph node is really small. I had total confidence in her though. She also marked the spot on my neck with a marker, just like Uma in Pulp Fiction! That was cause for a photo:
John was also trying to capture all the goo on my neck since it was all over. Even my hair was sticking to my neck, but I had to hold that out of the way so you could see the mark. See how high up the mark is?

I found this image online that shows where some of the other lymph nodes are in our head/neck...in case you were wondering.
Before the dr. started the biopsy, we had to wait for the pathologist to show up, because she was going to look at the cells RIGHT THERE IN THE OFFICE. Can you believe it? I then asked the dr. how long I'd have to wait for the results, and she said that the pathologist could tell me right there if I wanted. I couldn't believe the service. Here in SLO, you have to get your ultra sound and biopsy in two different locations and then wait a week for the results. Here I was getting everything in one room...and in one day!

Once the pathologist showed up, (she got stuck in the elevator), the dr. did the biopsy. Let me say it wasn't that bad at all. Granted she only had to get one sample, unlike the first one I had done. John was fascinated to watch it, because he said you couldn't see the needle on the screen, but you could see the lymph node move when she was gathering the cells. While she was gathering the cells the pathologist was also watching the syringe and checking to see if any blood got in the sample.

So within 2 minutes she took the sample, looked at it under the microscope, and told me that once again I had cancer. Crap.

Dr. Orloff said that they would need to remove the lymph nodes, and that they would remove all of the ones in that area. She also said that she was booked in January as most people wanted to get their surgeries after the holidays. Sounds like I might have the surgery in February. I'm hoping someone will cancel and I can get in earlier. I've love to have my surgery before I get a job. I'm also not 100% if I will have the surgery in S.F. She is going to talk to my dr. this week and give me a call.

I really can't believe I have to have another surgery. Why can't we leave the lymph nodes in there and hope they disappear? I know that's really not an option. I'm not sure if I'll have to have any more radioactive iodine, but I will be surprised if I do. I will also have to protect my scar from the sun for a whole YEAR again. That was a total pain...but I've done it before. Heck I've done this whole thing before. Will that make it easier? I'm hoping it will. I don't think it will make the time before surgery easier as I'm totally dreading it, but I'm hoping I'll be able to handle the pain better afterwards.

Overall I was so impressed with Dr. Orloff and how knowledgeable she was in the neck and with thyroids. I had never been to a specialist before, but I loved it! She even had all sorts of thyroid diagrams, handouts and models in the rooms. I'm so thankful I have such good doctors. They are actually the best doctors I've ever gone to for anything.

After the 2+ hour appointment I got to go to this art store that my uncle recommended. Let me just say that it was AWESOME! They has so much great stuff in there. I had to be somewhat in control, as my main reason for going there was to get a new portfolio, which I did, but man did I want to buy more stuff. Maybe next time. On our way there I saw this old Tab sign. I thought it was pretty cool:
There was also this graffiti wall that was so pretty:
That night we stayed with John's friend Scotty and he took us to this GREAT Mediterranean place call Fattoush. John's other college roommate Nory and his wife Jessie came up from the East Bay to meet us as well as an old high school friend of ours Mike and his girlfriend. Dinner was tons of fun with great company and great food. How could we go wrong?

After we went out for a few drinks. Here is John and Nory with their Irish Car Bombs.
Are you wondering whose eye ball that is on the left? Well Scotty decided to wreck the photo so I cropped him out. He deserves his own photo:
Here is Jessie and I:
Right before this photo was taken, Scotty came over to harass us. I can't even remember what he did, but this photo cracks me up.
So overall I guess you could say it was a productive/fun/downer sort of a visit. One thing is for sure...I'll have to wait a few months before I can wear my cancer survivor shirt that John got me. Good thing it's winter right now!

Popcorn Lovin' Fool

I just saw this video online and I HAD to post it! It reminded me how cute my dwarf hamsters used to be...and it totally made me want to get one again! Try to view it with sound if you can, there is a really corny song that accompanies the video.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So cute and practical!

Here is a photo of a quilt that I made with my friends Jen and Sam for a mutual friend of ours who is having a baby girl next month. Ok, I didn't really help them with it. I did help pick out the fabric, but when it came time to sew I couldn't meet up with them. I think it was the weekend my family was in town. See...I did have a legit excuse. Plus, sewing straight lines is the easiest. I'm always game for that.

I was so pleased to see the final product and to see how well all of the colors went together. I love how the pink and green compliment each other. Jen and Sam, you guys did a great job with assembling it all!

I have a few more crafty Christmas gifts I'm working on, but I can't post them on here as some of the recipients read the blog. You'll have to wait for after the gifts are given. Sorry!

What's in a Grade?

I recently applied for a job that required a copy of my college transcript. I was very interested to check it out and to go down memory lane. For the most part I was pretty satisfied except for my 4 dreaded C's. Let me just say that I am not a 'C' student, and to see those C's it still makes me cringe.

For example...here were my grades for one quarter:

Intro to geography = C-
Global geography = C
3D Design = A-

What do we see here? Two C's in my general ed classes and an A- in my major class? Hmmmm. Those C grades are totally legit I'm afraid to say. In both of those classes my entire grade was based on 2-3 multiple choice tests. Ideal for my learning disability! Yeah right.

After barely passing the first exams I went in to talk to both of my teachers. The teacher to the intro class was an old guy and I think he thought I was feeding him a line about my disability. Even though I'd aced the map identification part of the exam he still didn't by it.

My other teacher was younger, and I got a bit more help and sympathy from him. He gave me a few tips of where he liked to get test questions from in the text. I have the feeling I should have had a C- in that class, but he knew I was putting forth the effort...unlike Mr. Crotchety.

Next onto my web design grade...a C+. Yes you read that right. How could I have gotten a C in a class that I loved and am good at? Simple...having an a-hole teacher that felt he needed to make sure he showed a wide range of grades to the dean. No joke! I never missed a class, competed all assignments on time, always took his criticisms and adjusted my work as necessary. Basically being the perfect student, and still I didn't get the grade I deserved.

I think the last project of the class he gave me a low grade, which caused me to get the C. What is worse is that his criteria of the grade he gave me was just based on opinion. He basically didn't like it. He didn't have a check list or anything concrete that he based the grade on. I still can't believe it. He was a bad teacher all around, but I had never really suffered the consequences of his badness until that class. Yes, it's you...Joe Coates. Where ever you are. I am still mad about the undeserving C+ you gave me.

Are you wondering how I knew he was giving out grades students didn't deserve? Well there was another student who was also from Humboldt and I later found out he gave her a C+ too! What is worse is that she was a straight A student! It was totally unheard of for her to get a C. Right then I knew that he was handing them out like they were no big deal.

The last C I had on my transcript was during my last quarter in school. I decided to take Color Photography for fun...which I did have, although my teacher obviously didn't agree that having fun = a good grade. I know can you believe it? What is wrong with shooting a stuffed Pikachu in different kitchen scenarios?

Note: I in no way wrote this entry to defend my grades to my parents, (since they forked over the cash for my education). Plus I'm sure they heard the same stories 6 years ago! I honestly am still ticked off to see that web design C on my transcript!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yummers!

This past weekend my friend Steph had a get together at her house and she asked me to bring a dessert. I was more than happy to since I've been in total cooking mode. I wanted to bring something I'd never made before, and decided to email a good friend of mine's dad, who is a great cook. Just in case I didn't hear back from him I also decided to make a pumpkin chiffon pie that I saw on Oprah. But he did email me back and the email included a recipe for a Dark Chocolate Semifreddo. I was SO excited as A) I knew what all the ingredients were, B) It didn't look to labor intensive, and C) He even sent a photo!!! How could I mess it up?It was really pretty easy to make. Here is John folding in the ingredients. (I had to call my sue chef in for this part as I didn't want to tire my arm out.)
Close up of the mixture:
Everyone at the party said they liked it, and I have the feeling they weren't just being nice. The end result is almost like an ice cream, because it's frozen, but the texture is a bit like a mousse. Needless to say it was SO good. I even saved a little bit of it at home for John and I to snack on later. Here it is...now do you see why I included the other 'end result' photo? This doesn't really do it justice.
(Yes, that is the ice bag for my ankle. I totally over did it that day and my ankle has been really sore ever since. I think I had a major relapse. It's so frustrating).

Anyway, the pumpkin chiffon pie did not turn out as easy...hence no photos. Part of the instructions were to beat two egg whites until they were stiff. I beat the egg whites for probably 20+ minutes and they NEVER GOT STIFF! I was so mad. I had to use them anyway even though they never stiffened up. I think it tasted pretty good, but I never got over the fact that the whites didn't stiffen. I mean what the heck was going on with them? I didn't feel like the pie was a total success, which bummed me out because I was on such a role of baking successes.

In addition to the dessert baking, John also got inspired to finally make some homemade pizza dough. The poor dude has wanted to make it since we got back from our trip, but he hasn't had time, as well as the right equipment. So that morning we headed over to Bed Bath and picked up a pizza stone and a wood board to roll out the dough.
The dough made four servings. Here is the 'before baked' shot.
Here is the after:
Let me just tell you that this was one of the BEST pizzas I've ever had in my life. No joke. We brought back two jars of generic tomato sauce from our trip, which John used as the sauce. It is WAY better on pizza than pasta, let me tell you. John also put on brie, Parmesan, Gorgonzola, and fresh mozzarella cheeses. Along with olive oil, tomatoes, and basil. I was so impressed at how good they tasted, and it did remind me of Italy. I think we would need to install a wood fire oven to get the exact crust, but I am more than satisfied with our oven. To top it off...we've had it for dinner for the past 3 nights!! Talk about heaven!

I was going through my photos the other day, and trying to label them all when I came across this photo:
This is an apple and pear crisp that I made this summer, and never got around to blogging about it. I was very excited that I was able to use the pears from my backyard, but as you can see, it turned out juicy. I'm not sure if it was because I made it and then left it in the fridge for a few hours before baking it or if because my pears were Asian. All I know is that there was a lake in the bottom of the pan. Not the most appetizing.

So as you can see my cooking experiences don't always turn out good.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Grinch Found in SLO

Before the 49er game today, John and decided to go get some Gus' sandwiches, (our Sunday football tradition). When I opened the garage door I noticed that part of the Christmas lights that were hung above the garage were hanging down. I was kind of shocked since they have been up for over a week. Then I noticed that one light was missing which I thought was even weirder. THEN...I noticed that about the last 10 lights were missing at the end of the strand. (The strand was longer then the roof line, so we placed the end of it in a bush next to our garage.)

So yeah...ummmmmm...who STOLE our light bulbs???

Was it a neighbor that was concerned that the lights might set the bush on fire?
Probably not if they were on fire patrol, because why would they take the lights? You'd think they would have left the lights on the ground.

Was it the neighbor whose bush we were 'borrowing'?
That would really shock me since we use the bush every year. Plus if it was the neighbor don't you think they would have come over and asked us to put the lights somewhere else? Well maybe with a normal neighbor. We have lived here for 3 years and I've never really met the home owner....and her name is Amber.

Was it the neighbor's roommates? Did they come home drunk and then decide to steal them?

This is my desperation theory as it doesn't really make sense.

I'd really like to write up a nasty sign and hang it on the bush where the lights were, but I probably won't.

I was expression our light whoas to our nice neighbors tonight and they told us how last year someone placed their two white mechanical reindeer in the 'mounting' position and they were no longer functional this year. Was it the same pervy person who took our lights? Whose knows, but thank goodness we don't have our lawn gnomes on out in the front yard.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm Walkin' Here!

That past Thursday John and I went down to Farmers Market. On the way back to our car, we saw a motorcycle cop giving some dude a ticket. Somewhat exciting, but I think we missed most of the action.

Then as we walked down to the next block John said he thought he heard another motorcycle cop engine and he did. The cop was parked across the street, but then suddenly took off and went towards the parking garage. We thought that was odd because what crimes could he prevent in the parking garage?

As we were crossing the the next street, and about half way through the crosswalk, this chick decide to turn down the street and cut in front of us. Then John yells 'Where's the cops when you need them?' and I pointed out that she was even on her cell phone! Talk about not paying attention!

We looked to our left after she drove by and what do you know? Who was in the lane heading in the opposite direction? The motorcycle cop that we saw head into the parking garage! He looked at us and then flipped a U-ey and put his lights on. We could not believe it! How many times have you ever said 'Where's the cops when you need them.' and they really are there? I think it was my second Christmas miracle!

We walked really quickly to our car so we could find out where the bust was taking place. Once we spotted them we did a slow drive by to check the scene. It was very hard not to yell obscenities out the window at the girl, especially since John had my window locked.

Just in case my play by play wasn't the clearest, I created a visual graphic for you - click on it to enlarge. (I also tried to take a photo with my cell phone, but it totally didn't turn out.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tofurky?

This Thanksgiving was very mellow. Maybe it was because John's 4 nieces and nephew weren't celebrating it with us...ya think?

It seems like every other year we host it and since we hosted last year, we headed down to Molly's, (my sister-in-law), place in Santa Monica. We watched a little football and hung out until it was time to eat. We were supposed to eat in between 1 and 2 and were waiting for one of Molly's friends to show up. Once it was 2:15 we could not wait any longer. I felt bad that we ate without her, but she did show up an hour late.

The meal was really tasty and it was the first time I had ever been to a Thanksgiving with tofurky. John and I both tried it, and I must say that it didn't taste like much. Maybe a little like chicken? Molly and her friend were the vegetarians, and they both agreed that it tasted more like turkey if you ate it with some cranberry sauce.

This was also the first time I had ever been to a Thanksgiving without a turkey. Normally when John and I host, we make a turkey for our guests...not for us. Our meat of choice is ham. Since Molly knew this she provided us with a nice honey baked ham. (Did you know you are supposed to serve those at room temperature? Isn't that weird? Do you like cold ham? I sure don't.) We were both totally satisfied with the ham, but on the way home John mentioned that he kind of missed the turkey, and I surprisingly agreed. I don't think we missed eating the turkey, but I think we missed the presence of a turkey. Maybe next year I'll get a big plastic one and use it as a center piece.

We left early the next morning and headed to Bakersfield where we drove 20 proprieties for John's job. Some were drive-bys but we also went into some pretty dirty places with cockroaches. It was really nice being home for the weekend and it allowed us to get our house prepped for Christmas.

Here are a few photos from turkey day.

Who is this man in the kitchen? He doesn't look like he has any idea what he is peeling. (Just kidding! That is just Michael faking you out.)

I asked John to put the candied walnuts on the pumpkin trifle I made. Can you tell what animal he created out of them?

Here is John and his tasty looking meal:
Molly, Michael, and the pups:
Clyde was sitting directly behind me on the couch. You can't really get the perspective in this photo, but it was pretty ridiculous. I'm not sure why he looks so guilty.
Of course I couldn't end this entry without a video! here is John and his Thanksgiving Day Dance:
video

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tis the Season

I must say that I am SO excited Christmas is FINALLY here!! Even though I've been wanting to listen to Christmas music since Halloween it has taken me a few days to get into the spirit. Well now that I've immersed myself in it I'm loving it!

One advantage of being a house wife during this time of year is that I have time to bake! Thanks to some fabulous peppermint cookies I made last year I've been waiting all year to try out some new holiday cookie recipes. I had no idea that when Christmas 2008 would roll around that I would have enough time to bake cookie plates for people! I barely had enough time last year to make one batch of cookies, and now I'm a cookie making machine!

Yesterday I made the following:

My award winning fudge and some marshmallow brownies. Both turned out with no probs, except I did forget to add the vanilla into the fudge, but you can't really taste that it's missing.

After those two batches I had to take a break because my ankle started to hurt. I did make one more kind of cookie later that night though. I'm not sure what to think of this one. They look like lemon bars but aren't. They are more of a soft lemon cake. At the end of the recipe it said to add whatever frosting you like, so I decided to drizzle some powdered sugar frosting over the top of it. It looked ok, but it didn't look like the frosting was going to harden. I need them to be firm because I'm planning on stacking all of the cookies in a small tin. My thought was to cover it with tin foil and put it in the fridge overnight. That should work, shouldn't it?

Well when I took them out this morning they still seemed a bit soggy, and part of the tin foil fell onto the top and a huge chunk of the frosting stuck to it. ARGH!

On to plan B...the freezer. I cut up the bars and put them in the freezer. That should harden the frosting, right? Apparently not. I'm not sure what is up with these things, but I have the feeling that they might look like mush when I put them in the cookie tins.

Here they are in the freezer bag and they are still a little mushy. I may have to sandwich two together to keep them from sticking to everything. Any other ideas?

After dealing with the lemon mess I thought I'd try to turn things around and make my fave peppermint sugar cookies. Everything turned out fine with them, but I can't help think that they don't look the same as last year. It's nothing major. I just think they looked cuter last year. Oh well...at least they taste good.

The other new cookie I decided to make was called Orange Balls. You mix a bunch of stuff together, roll them in balls, and then roll them in powdered sugar. The recipe said to store them in an air tight container so my plan was to use my casserole dish. I knew it couldn't hold all of them, so once the dish was filled I was going to put a piece of wax paper down and start on the second layer. That should work perfectly because the powdered sugar would not stick to the wax paper right?

Well as I was finishing up with the first layer I noticed that the powdered sugar was absorbing into the cookie leaving it sticky. CRAP NUTS! Whatever...I put the wax paper on them and started on the next layer anyway.

When I finished I took a peak at the bottom layer and it looked like the cookies were starting to expand! What the heck was going on with these mutant cookies? I don't want to be handing out orange reindeer poops!

I put the lid on it and put it in the fridge. HOPING that some of the shapes will be salvaged. I'm totally scared to see what has happened to them.

Ok I just went and checked on them and take a look for yourself. As you can see 95% of the powdered sugar has absorbed. Also please note the area where one ball is missing. Do you see how much cookie is left on the paper? It doesn't seem like these balls are sticking together. Any ideas of what I should do? Should I roll them in more powdered sugar? (Yes the missing one is now in my belly, and it tasted pretty good!)
Here is a shot of the balls on the bottom level. See how they are kind of mushing together?
Total orange reindeer poop.

On a lighter note...

Another plus to being home at this time of year is that I get to hang out with all of my Christmas decorations all day long! I was lucky to have time this past weekend to get them all set up, and the house couldn't look more festive. OK, so it could. But only if I had a few more trees around.

Here is my snowman tree along with the decorated mantel:
Here is our real/regular tree in the other room:
Here is our other mantel with the stockings I made last year. I'm glad they made it through one year and no spiders laid any eggs in them. They look quite toasty.

I'm also 99.9% done with my Christmas shopping, and all I have left are the homemade gifts I'm supposed to be working on. I normally like to get all of my shopping done in November since I order the majority of my gifts online. It also gives me a little leeway in case I ordered the wrong item, like I did this year. Oops!

I had a few things I wanted to get at Gottschalk's this past weekend so John and I went and checked out the sales. They were pretty good, but I did notice one thing. When I am shopping in a store, I am much more likely to impulse shop than I am when I'm online. Conclusion...I am saving money by shopping online, even with the extra shipping costs. Granted there is a much smaller shopping high by shopping online, but you get a little bit of it when your gift comes in the mail.

I've been storing all of the gifts in our guest room, (I can't tell you how much I love having that extra room), and now the HUGE job of wrapping is daunting me. I know I should get started on it, but also looming in the background are the homemade gifts I promised I would make for certain people, and sending out our Christmas cards. I really need to get cracking. I'm hoping to get crafty while John and I watch some of our favorite Christmas movies. We've gathered quite the collection over the last few years, and like to watch one or 2 each weekend in December. Hopefully we will be able to do it this year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cutie Patutie

Last week before we headed down to Santa Monica for Thanksgiving I was looking through my pile of 'to read' books. I've got a break from my current book club until January, so now was my time to read some of the books that have collected some MAJOR dust. I picked out two possibilities...both I received for Christmas LAST year. I know so pathetic. Anyway the first one I decided to read was Celebrity Detox by Rosie O'Donnell. I finished it on Monday I started it last Thursday. In case you need help with the math, that is a total of 4 days. FOUR DAYS! As some of you may know I am not a fast reader, and for me to finish a book in 4 days is somewhat of a miracle. Oh my gosh! A Christmas miracle! My first one of the season!

Five reasons I finished the book so quickly:

A) It's an easy read
B) It's non-fiction
C) I'm a sucker for the inside scoop on celebs
D) I love Rosie
E) I didn't want to clean the house

As much as I love behind the scenes info, what is also great about this book is how honest Rosie is. There is so much information out there, (online/TV/magazines), that half the time I take everything with a grain of salt.

I've also read Rosie's first book, Find Me, which I also really enjoyed. So if you are looking for a couple of quick reads and are a fan of Rosie, I highly recommend them. Put them on your Christmas lists ASAP!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cali to Sconnie

Like I had mentioned in my previous post, last weekend John and I headed to Madison, Wisconsin to watch the Cal Poly Mustang football team take on the Division 1 badgers. Overall it was an experience like none other, and I can't tell you how thankful I am that we made the journey. Who cares if I'm unemployed! Don't you know that money grows on trees?

We drove up to S.F. on Thursday night and caught our flight to Madison, (via Chicago), the following morning. While we were waiting to board a guy next to me asked me to watch his stuff while he went to buy some Ghirardelli chocolate. I said sure, and when he came back we started some small talk.

After he found out we were traveling for a football game he got SO pumped! I guess his family are season ticket holders for Michigan football. He kept telling us that we were going to have tons of fun, and that he did believe Cal Poly had a chance to win. He also told us that Wisconsin fans are really nice to opposing fans, which I was very thankful to hear. I definitely do not like routing for a 'visiting' team in any sporting arena. What is awesome is that he was totally right. Most of the fans we met were so nice and polite, and told us how great Cal Poly played. Granted there were a few a-holes behind us in the stands who made some snide remarks, but at least none of the CP fans got into it with them.

Along with telling us to drink a lot of beer and to eat chili, he also told us that people surf on The Great Lakes. Say what? John was super skeptical so then the guy started telling us about the movie 'Unsalted.' That was his proof. Looks like he knew what he was talking about.

Overall the dude was really nice. He had moved out to S.F. for the last 3 months and was so excited to go home to visit his family. It was interesting talking to someone who knew so little about California, and knew so much about the mid-west.

The flight went as well as it could. John and I did not have seats together (on both flights), but what is worse is that I had to sit next to a very large man. He seriously took up 1.5 seats. I was lucky that I was on the aisle so I could partially hang out of the seat and elevate my foot at the same time. He was very nice, but I felt bad for him. I'm sure he would have been much happier/comfortable if he had bought two tickets. One cool thing was that we saw a man and woman decked out in CP gear get on the plane and John totally gave the dude a high five! It totally cracked me up.

When we landed in Chicago I had a cart waiting for me, and thank goodness I did! Our connecting gate was totally in BFE. We also had to walk outside to get to the plane and it was SO cold, and John was still in his t-shirt! Crazy man.

We got into Madison around 6pm, (4pm CA time), and we were both exhausted! I was so mad! There was no reason we should have been that tired...unless it was a sign of old age! No way!

As I was walking out of the plane, some worker said 'Welcome to Sconnie!' I was like, 'say what?' What the heck did that guy say to me? I then realized it must have been some sort of nickname for Wisconsin. Then for the life of me I could not remember what the dude said. It was killing me because I couldn't ask John if he had ever heard of the name before. I just think that is the funniest nickname. Do you think it's like 'Cali'? For the rest of the trip whenever I would need to say Wisconsin I would say Sconnie, so I'd blend in with the locals. You know it totally worked.

Our hotel had complimentary appetizers each night so after we checked in we headed back down to check the scene. There were a few peeps milling about in CP gear, which got us pumped up. It was then that we realized that most of the people traveling for the game were PARENTS! DUH!

We grabbed a cab for dinner and went to the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. It was totally packed but we found one table open by the pool tables. I found it very interesting to people watch as I'm used to seeing college kids in shorts and flip flops. Here everyone is bundled up from head to toe!

We had a couple of pool balls come our way and one dude fell down. I don't think he was wasted...maybe he just lost his balance? Whatever the reason, his friends looked horrified.

The food was really tasty, but what really made the cake was that they had cider on tap!!!! It was SO good.
As you can see I'm sporting a new hat that my mom made for me. I can't help feel like Chicky Baby from the blues band in Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Is there a resemblance even though my right eye is visible?

We decided to walk back to the hotel after dinner as I really wanted to check out their downtown. It was SO cute....but SO cold. We couldn't walk that fast because I was still limping around, but John didn't seem to mind. Or did he?

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They had some really cute shops and tasty looking restaurants. It seemed like most of the shops were trendier than the main street in Boulder, CO. What else was interesting was the huge variety in ethnic restaurants. There were multiple Indian and Greek places, along with Thai, African, and Afghanistan. I was really impressed, but also sad that I couldn't try them all.

Since we were totally freezing we decided to grab a hot chocolate at a coffee shop, which was the perfect topper to the evening.

The next morning we totally slept in due to the 2 hour jet lag. No joke! There was the local paper outside of our door so we decided to see what the write up was about the day's game. It was pretty good, and gave CP props where necessary. However they predicted a Wisconsin victory by 20 points. I thought, well as long as we can stay close to them for a couple of quarters I'll be satisfied.

Here is a photo of their main street that I took on the way to the stadium:
We walked around a bit before we headed to the tail gate. I wanted to buy my dad a cheese head for Christmas, but they were $20! (Sorry dad, even though I know how much you love Brett Favre).

On our way over to the stadium there were Wisconsin fans EVERYWHERE! Mostly because they all ate lunch downtown, and since the campus is located at the end of the street, they could just walk to the game. However on our walk we did see some people wearing green and yellow! We would get very excited until we saw that they were PACKER fans!!! You know that once they realized that CP's colors were the same that they were pissed!!

The Cal Poly Alumni Association had organized a tail gate lunch before the game which included a really good meal. We sat next to three young kids and all found out that they graduated this year and 2 of them had moved out to the mid-west to attend grad school. There was one other table with younger looking students, however I think they all might have been alumni as well. The majority of the crowd were parents and old local alumni.

As we walked towards the stadium I tried not to make any eye contact with the badger fans, because it seemed when I did I would get a lot of stink eyes! When we finally saw the outside of the stadium I was totally taken aback at how HUGE it was! All it needed was one more level and it would have been as big as a professional stadium.

I wasn't sure how good our seats were going to be because the visitor section in CP's stadium is in the boonies. However our seats were AWESOME! We were 2 rows from the field and right behind our teams bench! What was the best part is that the first three rows were all CP fans. I think there were about 100 fans out of 50k that were routing for CP. Let me say you form a very quick bond with those few fans.

Finally it was time for the game to start, and the Mustangs made their entrance!
It was amazing how everything was so much bigger...the stadium...the band...their football players. Click on this photo to enlarge it. Can you tell how much bigger/taller they were than us?
Another thing that was great was their scoreboard with a video screen. Because of the screen we got to watch the replays and it was awesome! There were even a few calls that were 'reviewed' which is also different from the regular CP games. One thing that was a killer was the TV timeouts. We were already out there freezing, and then when you add extra minutes just for the TV crowd it was a killer.

Here we are trying to stay warm. I didn't really get cold until the 4th quarter. I also didn't need to use any hand warmers which surprised me.
At one point the band came and played in front of us. It was pretty sweet.

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It's tradition at Camp Randall that before the 4th quarter they play 'Jump Around' and everyone jumps. Now I heard about this before going, and I thought 'Big deal! They play that at the CP stadium too.' Boy was I wrong! The WHOLE stadium jumps, not just the student section, (like at our home games). I tried to get a video but I don't think it does it justice. (You might need to watch it twice).
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The Mustangs lead the WHOLE game until they lost in overtime. I don't know if I've ever been to a more exciting football game. It was seriously like the Super Bowl. Almost more exciting than that because CP was such a huge underdog, and for them to play FLAWLESS almost the whole game was just amazing. Of course the only flawless thing was our kicker. He missed two extra points during regulation play and had we had those two points then Wisconsin would not have been able to tie it up.

Once we went into overtime we knew the odds were against us. In college each team gets a chance to score from their own 20 yard line. They continue to go back and forth until one team does not score.

CP got the ball first and on the first play our quarterback, Johnathan Dally, threw the perfect pass to our star wide receiver, Ramses Barden, for a touch down. It was SO exciting. However the excitement soon disappeared as our kicker went on the field. I couldn't watch. So I watched John's reaction. He first looked hopeful, and then told me he missed. The ball hit the top of the goal post and bounced out. I seriously could not believe it. Of course Wisconsin was going to score, and of course their kicker was not going to miss.

What I don't understand is why we didn't go for two. We would have had a better chance at making it across the goal line then our kicker had of making the kick.

I just couldn't believe that the Mustangs were in route to pull off one of the biggest upsets ever and it slipped through their fingers. It was such a heart breaker. I was extremely mad at the kicker and still am. John says he felt bad for the guy because he's just a kid, but I don't. Dealing with missing kicks is part of being a kicker. I have not one ounce of sympathy for him. Maybe if he missed one kick I would feel bad, but THREE? NO WAY! Just yesterday an article came out in the local paper about Andrew Gardner and how he did fine in the play-off game this past Saturday. But you know what? I don't care! I, and I'm sure MANY others, will never forget his missed kicks in Wisconsin. The article had some points, but nothing that was valid, in my opinion.

One point was that the misses always over shadow the makes. (He made a field goal in the beginning of the season to win one game.) I don't think making one field goal compares to missing three extra points in one game. They weren't long field goals either, they were 'gimme' points. Totally different.

Sorry for the tangent. It's just that I've been mad for a week and a half, and when I read that article about it, it just made me more mad. What is worse is that he is a Junior which means he will be back next year.

There are a few other good articles that I found online about the game if you'd like to check them out. One of them gives a bit better play by play then I did. Article 1 and article 2.

Also this week a Wisconsin fan wrote into CP's newspaper about how impressed he was with our team. It's a really nice article if you care to check it out.

After the game we decided to drown our sorrows at in the hotel bar with a few cocktails.
A few other CP fans showed up and we all were able to complain together. Although there was quiet a bit of sympathy for the kicker in the room, I remained silent. After our appetizers we headed downtown and ate an Italian place. It was really good despite the cheap prices and odd atmosphere.

The next morning we had to get up at 6:30am to get to the airport on time. That doesn't seem that early right? Well when you are still on CA time it is WAY too early. My body totally thought it was 4:30am! It was a total killer which lead for us both to be exhausted on the whole trip home. At least on both of our flights home we got to sit together. You don't realize how great it is to sit next to your traveling companion, until you aren't able to. Needless to say just because of that the trip was much more enjoyable. Also our connection was in Denver on the way back which was nicer too, because one flight wasn't way longer than the other.

When we landed in Denver we decided to practice our Amazing Race skills and see if we could get on a earlier flight. It totally worked! We had about a half hour before the flight took off so we had to grab a bite to eat and then eat it as fast as we could. By catching that flight we shaved off 2 hours on our trip and made it home around 5pm. My foot was also extra sore all day. Do you think it had anything to do with all of my celebratory jumping at the game?

I had the BEST time in Wisconsin and am so glad I talked John into going with me. I was all ready to travel to Montana had CP won their game this past weekend, but they lost. It seems like the team they played watched the Wisconsin game tapes and learned that we had no passing defense. I find it interesting that no other teams figured that out this season. Oh well...there is always next season!