Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fall Break

Fall break from school has been this week. I didn't realize it would be, but it has been a much needed break. It has been relaxing and busy at the same time. That's my favorite way to spend a vacation - busy, but with the kinds of things I want to do, and the day doesn't start until I want to start it. I was summoned for Jury Service this week, but, HOORAY, after calling in each night, I never had to go to court. So instead, here are some leisurely things I have done...
I went to see the new James Bond film - Quantum of Solace. MmmMmm, that new James Bond is good looking.
This photo is actually from Casino Royale, but it's worth looking at again. Mr. Bond didn't wear a bathing suit in the new movie, but there was a shirtless scene. It was a fun, actiony movie. Plus, did I mention how hot Mr. Bond is?

My oldest friend Kristen and I took her three kids to the LA Zoo. They are one of my most favorite families so it's always fun to spend the day with them.

Here are some of my best photos of the day.

Here are the three kids - Matthew (the monster), Emily, and Nicholas. All three are such hams for the camera.

Emily spent more time playing on the mosaic animals than she did watching the real ones.

Don't tell anyone, but Nicholas is my favorite.
"Winter" during an 80 degree day.

We spent about 20 minutes in the orangutans' area. They were a lot of fun to watch. A baby (fur to the right) climbed all over the older one. The kids enjoyed watching both of them and the orangutans seemed to enjoy watching the kids as well.

I love animals, so the zoo, in one way, is fun to visit. The exotic animals are so beautiful. They are truly amazing creatures. On the other hand, I am troubled by the zoo. Some of the animals seemed lonely and depressed, and some seemed like they were going crazy being trapped in their small habitat. Others didn't seem to mind at all, and I enjoyed watching them, but it was very difficult to watch the animals who seemed to be having a hard time. The tiger, for example, paced and paced around it's area without stopping. I was exhausted just watching it. The elephant, one of my favorites, was all alone in a very small area. It either threw dirt on itself, which can be a sign of distress, or rocked back in forth for long periods of time.

My friend Tami asked me to make her some cards for her gift giving this year. After working for several hours each night, I am just about finished making the 78 cards. It has been fun being able to work late and not have to worry about getting up early the next morning to go to my real job. I will post some photos of the sets when they are completed.

I am two gifts away from having my Christmas shopping DONE! Woot! Woot! It is such a nice feeling. I still have to write my Christmas cards, but that will get done this weekend.

The best part of this week so far has been the sleeping in. I haven't gotten up before 9:00 am so far this week. I haven't set the alarm and that is a nice feeling. After Thanksgiving Thursday, I still have four more days off. I love vacation!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

I know, I know, I know...I have posted this recipe before. It pains me to repeat a post and I know I give other repeaters such a hard time, but the repeat is for good reason. Back in August I posted this recipe in my first Tasty Tuesday, but it was August and everyone was hot, from the heat. It is now November and in most of the world it has cooled, except of course in Socal where it's still super hot, so I wanted to remind you about my most favorite and easy soup recipe. So this is not really a repeat but more a public service announcement. SlĂ inte!

Chicken Tortilla Soup - Slow Cooker
2-3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 (15 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (add more if you like it like I do)
7 corn tortillas
vegetable oil

1. Put all ingredients (except tortilla and oil) into slow cooker. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. Before serving, shred chicken using a fork - it will just fall apart.
2. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven until lightly brown and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Add tortilla strips and any other toppings...serve!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just One Word

Grandma J over at Ask Grandma J posted this meme and I "borrowed" it for my own post. You all know how much I LOVE quizzes. Plus, there's not too much thinking, since the answers are only one word. Wait, I don't respond to anything in only one word, that might be difficult. I'll try...
Where is your cell phone - charging
Your hair color - blond
Your mother - Hawaii
Favorite thing - bed
Your dream last night - none
Your dream goal - debt-free
The room you're in - bedroom
Your hobby - art
Your fear - SNAKES
Where do you want to be in 6 years - somewhere
Where were you last night - Getty
What you're not - patient
One of your wish list items - supplies
Where you grew up - SoCal
The last thing you did - drew
What are you wearing - t-shirt
Your TV- old
Your pet- Koho
Your computer -Dell
Your mood - tired
Missing someone - Dad
Your car - Escape
Something you're not wearing - pants
Favorite shop - DSW
Your summer - hot
Love someone - yes
Favorite color - red
When you last laughed - now
When you last cried - always
I did it! It was hard not trying to explain my answers, but I was able to do it. You are next!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Merry Thanksgivoween

Someone sent this to me in an email last week, and it, quite frankly, sums up the way I feel about the holidays these days. Don't get me wrong, I do like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but what's the deal with it arriving earlier and earlier every year? Yesterday we stopped at the Citadel Outlet Mall for lunch on the way home from the conference in San Diego. Walking back to the car we heard Christmas music playing. YES, that's right, Christmas music on November 18th! It's not even Thanksgiving yet PLUS it's still 90 degrees outside. It's just too early and I'm so not in the mood yet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

Away at a conference in San Diego. Posting will resume when I return.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

Last week I held Book Club and this was the dessert I made. It comes from a Southern Living party I went to a few years ago. It is probably the easiest desert ever and is always a hit.

Easy Cherry Cobbler
2 cans cherry pie filling (any fruit works great)
2 sticks of butter (melted)
1 package white cake mix (not Jiffy)
2/3 cup water

1. Spread cherry pie filling into the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish.
2. Pour 2/3 cup water over the pie filling.
3. Sprinkle the cake mix over the top of the filling.
4. Pour butter evenly over the top of the cake mix.
5. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until top is golden brown.
6. Let set for 10-15 minutes.
7. While still warm, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
8. Enjoy!
Being the host, I forgot to take a picture of it when it came out of the oven or when it was served. This was what was left after everyone left. It's funny how food that has already been partly eaten doesn't look quite as appetizing as it does before everyone digs in. But I promise you that it is very, very good, even if looks like a big mess in the picture.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It was another busy Saturday and I was inspired to write, however after the length of last weekend's post, I thought I would include these inspirations under "Random Thoughts" since that's what most of them are anyways. I have been addicted to taking pictures with my crappy iphone camera (it's so easy), so most of this post is in pictures, albeit not very good ones...

  • I met some friends in Pasadena yesterday morning. We went to Dick Blick, one of my favorite stores and then the Cheesecake Factory for lunch.

    On the way back to the car we walked past Mrs. Beasly's bakery and spotted some cupcakes. Cupcakes are all the rage right now, but these are not your ordinary cupcakes.

    My friend's son said, "I don't think I'd like those very much." Ha, ha! I agree.
  • My wonderful dog Koho has some hot spots on her paws. She got them many years ago, and there is no medical reason why. She has them again and she licks them raw. There is nothing I can do to keep her away from them other than an e-collar, a.k.a. a cone collar. I don't like the regular, plastic collars because they are uncomfortable and hard. She runs into and scratches walls, couches, tables, and me because she can't judge the size of her cone-shaped head. Yesterday I bought her a padded, nylon one that is supposed to be more comfortable. I think Koho would beg to differ.
    How funny looking is this. I feel so bad, and I can't even look at her because it makes me feel bad. She stands in the middle of the room without moving. She's so sweet though and wags her tail the entire time. I took it off of her for a little while this morning to give her a break. She slept the entire time, probably so exhausted from having it on. I keep telling myself it will just be a couple of weeks and once the hot spots are healed, she won't have to worry about it, but I still feel bad.

  • Last night I went to the Van Morrison concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl is probably my most favorite place to see a concert - it's outside and the sound is great. I love Van Morrison and was so excited to hear him do so many of the hits that I grew up with. However, last night did not meet my expectations. The music and his voice are great, but he only sang four, count them, four songs that I knew (and I have 3 or 4 albums that I regularly listen to) and those four were sung so differently than the album versions that we weren't able to sing along. It was a disappointing show.
  • After the concert we walked down Highlands to Hollywood Blvd to jump on the subway. It was a quiet walk back to the station until we got to Hollywood and Highland. All of a sudden, we were in the middle of a Prop. 8 protest. The protesters were on two corners, chanting, and not really bothering anyone. The police dotted the street, there to keep order if needed.
  • We stood across the street and watched with other lookey-loos for awhile. As we watched, the protesters got louder and then walked into the crosswalk and stood, blocking Highland. The police ran around a little bit and then a police truck drove past us with police in riot gear hanging off the sides. The "audience" gasped. The police lined the intersection. We were told to either go across the street and join the protesters or leave. The subway station was right behind us so we slowly walked towards it. Before taking the escalator down to the station, a large group of protesters poured onto the streets from the station. We stood and watched for awhile and then a police officer looked at us and said, "Go, now." We quickly turned and hopped on the escalator. On the ride down, I had two thoughts. First, I wondered why the police armed up so quickly. The protesters were chanting, but being very civil. No one was being disrespectful or dangerous. My second thought was about the two 15ish year old girls riding down the escalator in front of us, who then turned around and rode it back up behind the protesters. Tell me, how is it that these "little" girls are out, in Hollywood, at 11:00 PM on a Saturday night with no parents around, and gay marriage is being blamed for the crumbling of family values. Just wondering.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My First Love, Part 5 (The Final Chapter)

Sparks was put up for sale and sold to a little girl at a barn across town. It was sad, but my parents weren't able to afford two horses, so it had to be done in order for me to continue progressing with my riding.

My parents and I met with my trainers to talk about what we would be looking at. They had to discuss pricing and location (how far we were willing to go). I also told them that I would really like to have a grey horse. Bay (dark brown) and chestnut (light brown) are the most common. That is what I had always ridden and owned, but I had always loved the greys. My trainers laughed. I rode with a group of girls and we were all about the same age. During this time we were silly preteens and our trainers ALWAYS laughed at us. In this case, they told me to not get my hopes up. Greys are rare and pretty greys are really rare. Grey horses are born black and spend only a short time being pretty dapply grey before they turn white with brown or black dots all over their body. My trainers felt it would be difficult to find a horse that had the skills I wanted for the price my parents were willing to pay and that was grey. I told them I knew that, but if they found one I'd be happy. I knew it was a long shot though and it certainly wasn't a deal breaker.

I spent the next few months after selling Sparky riding my trainers' horses while we tried to find a new one for me. Then one day, I got home from school and there was a message on the answering machine. I remember it to this day. "Hi Kim, it's Patsy. There is a horse down in San Diego that we want to take you down to see. He is an 8 year old warmblood who shows hunter/jumper. He is 16.1 hands (1 hand = 4 inches). Oh, and guess what, heeee'sss greeeyyy." I jumped up and down. I was so excited to go see him. The following week Jamie, my other trainer, hooked up the trailer to the truck and he, Patsy, and I drove south down to San Diego to checkout the grey horse. The horse was beautiful. He wasn't spotted, but a really pretty dapply grey. His name was Sidney. He was mellow and sweet and really enjoyed jumping around the fences. So we loaded him in the trailer and brought him back up to try for a few weeks.

He acclimated nicely to our barn and after getting him checked out by the vet, he was mine.

Isn't he pretty?!?!

For the next 3-4 years Sidney and I trained pretty hard and showed almost every weekend. I was a teenager at this time and Sidney was what kept me out of trouble. My parents always had him to hold over my head, whether it be grades, or boys, or the car,or annoying teenage behavior, I knew that if I stepped out of line I wouldn't be riding or showing the next week. My dad always said that all teenage girls should have horses because it keeps them out of trouble.

Sidney's show name was "London Fog". My dad came up with that one too. Around the barn, we just called him Sid. He was a sweetheart as well, like Sparky. I loved giving him baths with this shampoo called Quicksilver. It was this dark purple shampoo that when used on the white socks or blazes of a horse made them super duper white. I used it all over Sidney and he was always so shiny and beautiful.

Sidney and I were pretty successful together over the next few years. Then I graduated from high school and had plans to go away to college on the East Coast. I hadn't really thought about what would happen once I graduated high school, but as it got closer, my parents reminded me that they couldn't afford college and riding at the same time. Therefore shortly after the show season ended my senior year of high school, Sidney went up for sale. We didn't sell him right away, thank goodness, so when I went away to college some friends of mine rode him and took care of him. One of them even leased him for awhile, which means my parents still owned him but my friend paid all the boarding and training and used him like he was her own.

During the middle of my freshmen year, a little girl from my barn bought him for her first horse. He was older at that time and basically bomb-proof, so he was perfect for her. I haven't been on a horse since Sidney was sold.

In some of the comments I have been asked why I don't still ride. The answer to that comes down to one reason...I can't afford it. Knowing what it's like to have a mortgage and expenses makes me wonder how in the world my parents were able to afford to keep a horse boarded and their daughter in training. The monthly expense at that time was very expensive and nowadays it's exorbitantly high. I do want to own a horse and ride again someday, but until teachers make a lot more money or I marry a rich man who can pay the bills, I'm going to just have to relive the past. Maybe someday I will be able to ride again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tasty Tuesday

This past Thursday I hosted Book Club. We read "Three Cups of Tea" which was a phenomenal true story about a man who built schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I also made dinner and desert which consisted of Chicken Pesto Pasta, Cesar salad, garlic bread, cherry cobbler and ice cream. The cobbler recipe will be the topic of next week's Tasty Tuesday. Slainte!

Chicken Pesto Pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, removed from skin
1 handful of pine nuts (lightly browned in oven)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano
40 basil leaves
2 pieces of grilled chicken breast
1 box cooked pasta (I used ziti)

1. Heat oil and garlic cloves in small pan over medium heat for a minute or two.
2. Combine oil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese, and basil in food processor.
3. Pulse until chopped and blended.
4. Mix together hot pasta, chicken, and pesto sauce. (Pesto sauce should not be heated. Mix pesto sauce at room temperature into hot pasta.)
5. Enjoy!
This recipe makes one batch of pesto pasta. The picture is double the recipe.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's the End of the World As We Know It

It was another busy Saturday this past weekend. I had a lot of errands to run and some social plans, but there were parts of the day that were rather surreal.

First off, during the middle of the night a lightning and thunder storm rolled into town. Sure, we get rain in SoCal, sometimes, but thunder and lightning storms are not the norm. The claps of thunder shook my house and the lightning lit up my bedroom. The storm continued on and off all day.

I left my house for the day and drove to the bagel shop to pick up some bagels for a breakfast. When I walked in the shop it was dark. I thought to myself, "Well, good thing I called ahead to order them since the power is out." However, the cashier said, "Cash only." They couldn't run a credit card, and I didn't have any cash so I told her that I had called ahead with an order so she got her manager. She let me take the bagels, but said I had to promise to come back and pay for them. I gave her my information and left with the bagels. I stopped off at the breakfast for a few minutes, ran some errands and then met a friend for a movie and then lunch.

On my way to the bagel shop I noticed that the gas station across the street had gas for $2.67 so when I was on my home I went back the way I came so I could stop at the gas station. Now, the corner that the gas station is on has been a protest site in the last few weeks due to Prop. 8. For the last 2-3 weeks this very large intersection has had ...I am trying to come up with the right words to type here, but all I can seem to come up with is...IDIOTS parading on the four corners with their yellow, professionally made "Yes on Prop. 8" signs. The Prop. that, if it passes, will ban gay marriage. When I drive by this corner, it makes me cringe and my feathers get ruffled, and I roll down the window and yell things. (Even though Jason tells me I shouldn't.) It just makes me mad. Anyhow, I started to get riled up as I got closer and thought to myself, "It's ok, gas is $2.67, just go and get the gas and ignore the stupid idiots." I did my best to ignore them; I shook my head and rolled my eyes as I drove past, oh and snapped this picture.

If you are saying to yourself, "Hey, that's a child holding a sign!" You would be correct. Not only are these ignorant a-holes walking around with these horrific signs, they have their children doing it too. Signs that say things like "Protect Marriage", "Marriage Has One Meaning", etc. Now, I'm not eloquent enough to write about this, so all I will say is that this is soooo wrong. On top of it, these church going individuals are teaching their children to hate as well.

"OK, Kim! Just get yourself across the street to the gas station and get yourself away from this corner before you take out your imaginary machine gun and shoot them." Thank goodness I didn't have to stop at the light so I drove across the street and pulled into the gas station with the cheapest gas in town. It was a bit busy, but I only had to wait about 30 seconds before a car pulled out and I pulled in. "WooHoo!" We have been paying about $4.00 for gas for the last year or so so $2.67 seems cheap. I swiped my credit card, pushed the "regular" button, and put the nozzle in my gas tank. "Click!" I heard. I pulled it out and put it back in, "Click!" I heard again. I pressed the "regular" button again, squeezed the nozzle, "Click!" Sighing I looked around to the other side of the pump where a man was standing, not pumping gas also. "Are you having trouble with this pump too?" I asked. "Yes, are you too?" I nodded. Then a lady walked by and told us that she was told inside that they were out of that gas and only had the "premium" gas which was about $3.00. "Oh my frickin' god!" Here I was, having to be on the same corner as the biggots to get this cheap gas and THEY ARE OUT OF GAS! OUT OF GAS!

I canceled the transaction, climbed back in the car and drove around the parking lot back onto the road. Due to the traffic, I had to go out a different way than I came in which meant I had to drive back by the biggots. I pulled out and sat in the right turn lane for a few moments waiting for the light to change. As I waited, REM's "It's the End of the World As We Know It" came on the radio. This is what I saw as I listened and waited.
A thunder and lightning rainstorm, biggots bringing their kids right along with their stupidity, and the cheap gas that wasn't made me want to scream. Global warming, limiting civil rights, or oil production...someday one, two, or all three are going to be the end of the world as we know it and I don't feel fine. It makes me angry.

Now, on a lighter note. There were some good parts to the day.
I saw 'RocknRolla' today at the movies. It was GREAT! Very English and very funny. It is a Guy Ritchie (soon to be ex-Mr. Madonna) film and they are always so much fun. There was a lot going on, but it all pulled together at the end. Plus a lot of very cute boys with accents in it. What could be better. I loved it!

I do have to also add that there is a small group of "No on 8" supporters at a different intersection a few blocks away from the gas station incident. They are not quite as organized and in your face as the "Yes" supporters are, in fact they are a bit of a motley crew. Their signs are homemade rather than professionally made, but they are still effective. My favorite is, "No on Hate (8)."

I also got a new purse on Saturday. I love my Santee Alley fakes. They are so cute and fun, but a big pain in the butt. They are bottomless pitts and it often takes me minutes, not seconds, minutes to find important things like keys or my wallet.

The last few days, for some reason, have been particularly bad and I end up getting angry as I have to pull stuff out to find what I am looking for. I keep threatening to design a purse that actually holds everything it a place, but is still stylish. Someday, in my freetime I just might. So today, I went to Kohls, probably one of my least favorite stores, but it was next to Whole Foods where I was doing some shopping. They were having a sale so the store was a mess - the main reason I don't like going there, it's always a mess. I wandered around, looking at the purses. All the cute ones had just one big opening so everything can fall to the bottom. The ones that had more pockets were just not my style. But I finally found one.

It's kind of cute. It has some style, but even better it has 4 large dividers/pockets in addition to the cell phone pockets and 2 zipper pockets for small things. When I got home I spent some time organizing it. It holds a lot and I think I can actually find something inside it. We'll see.

To end this crazy, long post I also received my Lean Cuisine lunch tote in the mail this afternoon. Yay! Isn't it cute. I'm tempted to use this as my purse, but it also has just one big open space, which is fine for a sandwich, but not for car keys. If you haven't gotten yours yet, here's the info. Remember, it's only $10 and $5 of it goes to charity.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My First Love - part 4

During the next year my trainers and I spent a lot of time building up my confidence and looking for a new horse. I had lost an entire show season, but it was worth it.

The following winter my trainer brought in a horse from a ranch about an hour away. The ranch was a thoroughbred racing ranch called Hart Ranch which also housed horses that had been tried for racing and didn't work out. These horses were kept in outdoor pens in herds and since it was winter, the horse I was shown looked like a hairy nightmare. His name was Sparky and he was the furriest horse I had ever seen. Because his hair was so long, he was a dull brown color; not pretty or flashy like the horses I was used to. However, since he came from the Hart racing barn, he had a brand on his left shoulder. The brand was a heart....get it Hart, heart? For a girl of 11, a horse that had a heart on it was a dream come true. He was also the sweetest horse I had ever seen. He was young, and not proficient with the jumping yet, but he had a kind nature and seemed very trainable. Sparky was mine after a couple of weeks.

It took a few months and some serious "manscaping", but Sparks turned into a very pretty little horse with a cute little heart.

Shortly after, my trainer went a little nuts and left the barn where I trained. To make a long story short, Sparky and I had to change trainers in the middle of the show season. We were able to stay at the same barn, but the adjustment took some time. However, it was better in the long run.
Sparky and I continued showing around LA County and he was a hit. We did very well in our division and won several awards. My dad's favorite TV show at the time was Cheers. I showed Sparks under the show name "Cheers".

He was the sweetest horse in the world. During horse shows, riders and horses spend a lot of time waiting around until it's their turn to ride. One might ride in several classes, but there may be hours of wait time in between each class. Most of the time the horses wait, tied to the horse trailer, eating and the riders spend their time wandering around, watching their friends ride, and eating. I loved this horse so much that when we were waiting around, I'd lead him around with me to watch the other classes. I'd sit in the bleachers, holding onto his rope, and he'd rest his head in my lap as I pet him. How cute is that!
After a few years though, my abilities outgrew him and I was in the market for a new horse. Sadly, my family was a one-horse family and I had to put Sparky up for sale in order to afford a new one.