Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Hawaii

Every other year I spend Christmas in Hawaii. 2010 was my year to travel. Here are some highlights…
Spending a couple of days in Honolulu before heading to Kona. I left rainy Los Angeles only to arrive in flooding Honolulu.


photo12We washed away our rain sorrows with tropical beverages.
photo3After a rainy drive to North Shore, hoping to catch some big wave surfing, the storm actually decreased the wave size and there was little to see other than this big guy. Honus are my favorite part of Hawaii.

photo6photo8photo7photo9 photo10 photo11Spending Christmas in Hawaii doesn’t usually feel much like Christmas to me. It’s hot and humid…I like me a good winter. I’m never really feeling the holiday spirit when sweating. However, after a break in the rain, we ventured out to Honolulu City Hall. They decorated the entire square block for Christmas and it bettered my holiday mood a little bit.

The sun shown through the clouds as we prepared to depart to the Big Island.

photo13 Upon arriving in Kona, we finally saw our first sunset of the trip.
The next day was spent on a card-playing marathon. We played for 7 whole hours while it poured down more rain.

photo15Presents were wrapped and put by the tree.
photo16Christmas Eve was spent at home with friends and the famous “Hanukkah” brisket.

Shopping the day after Christmas always seems like a good idea on Christmas day. Not only was it crowded, but with the cost to carry luggage these days, shopping and traveling don’t really mix.
photo21 So it was a good time to have some more tropical drinks and watch the ocean.

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Most of the final full day in Kona consisted of a trip to Hawi, a small art town with some great galleries and shops. There is a shop there called Pura Vida, and I visit it each time I come in to town. They have the most amazing jewelry.

Heading home this morning. It was a nice trip, but I’m glad to be on my way back home.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka

SantaAlii Dr.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

I wish you all a very merry Christmas! Enjoy your day with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Baby Sitting the Monster

While out of state for the holidays, my monster of a puppy is staying with my friends Kristen and Brian.  These are very dear friends who I hope will remain my dear friends after Rigby’s visit. 

Rigby is a a good dog, but she’s also crazy.  Since she is a herding dog she has so much energy.  The only way to tire her is long walks or runs at the dog park.  Unfortunately, since I have been gone, California has been experiencing torrential rains; more rain than we usually see over a year or two in just a couple of days.  One rainy day is enough to send me right over the edge with this crazy dog, so the fact that California is on it’s 5th day of rain is really testing my friendship with Kristen and Brian.

Kristen and I have been texting since I have left.  Other than frustration with the rain and not being able to get the dogs out to walk, the texts showed that generally things were going well.

Yesterday, there was a slight shift in texts…
”We’re still friends, but definitely not ready for a puppy any time soon…..I can’t seem to wear her out.”

This morning, this is what I received…
”Had to rescue baby Jesus from her this am.”

I told you she was rotten!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Well, It’s the Thought That Counts

One Christmas when I was still living at home, my mom asked for an electric razor. At that time internet shopping had not yet been invented, so I did some research in the many catalogs we received at the time and found one that looked good. My dad, who always tried his darnedest with gifts, took on the task of placing the order.


My dad kept the presents that he bought for my mom and me in the garage in his workbench and on a day when neither of us were home he’d wrap them on his own and they would have magically appear under the tree by the time we got home. My mom’s razor arrived in the mail packaged in a small cardboard box. Rather than open the box and have to rebox it, Dad wrapped it up the way it arrived and stuck it under the tree.

On Christmas morning, as usual, I played Santa and passed out the gifts one at a time while we watched each other open them. When I handed the package of the electric razor to my mom, my darling dad sat with a smile on his face, feeling good that he bought a gift my mom actually wanted. However, when my mom opened the box she looked inquisitively at it. “Ohhhh, thank you?” she said hesitantly. “What is it?” I asked, knowing that it was the razor he had ordered. She reached into the box to pull out the contents, but instead of pulling out a razor she pulled out a jar of cream. She read the label, “Cellulite Cream”.


My dad’s face dropped. It wasn’t what he had ordered and on top of that what did arrive could have been taken as an insult to my mom.

Of course, there was a good explanation for the tasteless Christmas gift, but there were a few tense moments before that explanation was given. It was left up to my mom to call the company and explain the situation. Her new razor arrived a couple weeks later, and they let her keep the cream. Lucky her!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

This weekend I broke my self-imposed Sunday “day of rest” and attended an annual Christmas party and cookie exchange that my anonymous friend throws with her mom and sister. It’s always a fun time and this year was no exception.

If you’ve never been involved in a cookie exchange before, this is how it works…each attendee makes a lot of one kind of cookie. In this case we each made 6 dozen cookies. Upon arriving at the party, the cookies are displayed and each person takes 2-3 of each kind of cookie. If there are remaining cookies after everyone has had their turn, the process starts over again. At the end of the exchange you go home with a nice variety of cookies for your holiday needs.

This year’s spread…blog 028
(Those chocolaty/caramely things to the right were to die for)

Close ups…
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Just looking at all these cookies makes my teeth hurt.

Last year I made sour cream cutouts which are the best cookie I have ever eaten, but very time consuming. I didn’t have the time, plus I’m still ticked that I couldn’t decorate them with silver balls, so I made another quick recipe which also happens to be a crowd pleaser.

I call these White Trash Truffles. blog 030
They taste just like professionally crafted truffles, but they are far from the real thing as the ingredients leave much to be desired. In fact, I hate to even post the recipe because I don’t think there is one natural ingredient in them (are chocolate chips considered natural). But they are so easy and do taste good. They are sure to be a hit!

White Trash Truffles
1-16 oz package of oreo cookies
1-8 oz package of cream cheese
1-20 oz package of chocolate chips or baking chocolate
various sprinkles, toppings, etc.

1. Place package of oreos in a food processor and chop until finely crushed.
2. Add cream cheese to the cookies and blend together in the food processor until well blended (no longer see white)
3. Stick mixture in the refrigerator or freezer until chilled and easier to work with.
4. Roll out chocolate mixture into small balls and lay them on a cookie sheet lined with wax/parchment paper. Note: Since the cream cheese will soften in your hand the balls should be placed in the fridge to chill back up before moving onto the next step.
5. Once balls are chilled, melt the chocolate (a small batch at a time) in a double broiler or the microwave.
6. Place a chocolate ball on a fork and pour chocolate over it with a spoon. Roll ball into the spoon in order to get the bottom, and then used the form to roll it back onto the lined cookie sheet. (This takes some time to get the hang of as the chocolate is quite thick even when melted).
7. Before the chocolate hardens completely sprinkle with candies, jimmies, crushed cookie, etc.
8. Place the chocolate dipped balls back in the fridge until ready to serve or pack up for a cookie exchange.
This recipe makes 5-6 dozen depending on the size you want them. They are rich so I don’t make them too big.

I have heard of others replacing the oreos with other sandwich cookies (peanut butter, mint, etc) and the melted chocolate with other flavors (white chocolate, yogurt, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Street Lights

blog 057

This street light installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Chris Burden is very nice during the day.  I visited the museum for an event last night and the recycled street lamps are even more beautiful after the sun goes down.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Cards

This weekend I finished making, writing, stuffing, and addressing this year’s Christmas cards.

blog 039 (a sampling of the cards I made this year)

blog 055Over the last few years Christmas cards seem to have morphed into other things completely. Some send out the photo card printed with a generic messages while others send a newsletter type thing telling about the the past year. I’ve also received a few of the above in email form. Times are busy and Christmas cards seem to be something people feel like they need to do but don’t have time for. There’s nothing wrong with these holiday wishes, but I like to go old school; Hand made cards and handwritten greeting and addresses. It’s kind of a cathartic process for me. Afterwards I feel so accomplished. It might also be that this year I am not in town for the holidays so I don’t have a tree, my gifts will not be wrapped up with pretty paper and bows, and the house (inside and out) is decoration free. Part if me is relieved that there will not be any clean up after the holidays are over, but another part of me is feeling a little Grinch-y this year. The Christmas cards have helped.

Do you Christmas card, newsletter, email, or as my mom says “I don’t think I’m doing Christmas cards this year…I sent them last year”?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still Makes Me Cry Like A Baby

Last night I found out that a friend of mine had to put her dog down this past week. He was an older dog and it was time. Of course she is very sad.

I emailed my friend to let her know I was thinking of her. She replied back telling me how she was feeling. While I read the email, I broke into tears…which led me to write this. Most of you know that I recently went through the loss of my dog Koho earlier this year. Clearly, I am still not healed from the loss of my pet. The new puppy certainly gets me through the day to day, but talking about it, thinking about it, or hearing about other people going through it makes me fall apart in a big way.

I think at this point, it’s not the missing her that makes me fall apart. I do miss her, but Rigby does a pretty good job of distracting me from that. Whenever it pops into my mind, I go directly to sitting in the vets office and having to make the decision to put her down, while she sat with me on the leash as I talked to the vet.

She had been pretty sick for about a month and the vets couldn’t give me a reason why. She got sick when she ate and had lost so much weight. I knew that morning when I got up that that was going to be the day. I took her into the vet in the morning for one more test, one more chance. I went to work while they kept her for the test. After back and forth phone calls and a lot of talking and crying with work friends there was still no diagnosis.

I was so exhausted and just a mess. I knew what I had to do and was set to do it. At the end of the work day, Jason came with me and was my support in making that decision (thank goodness) because the vet had no intention of telling me I needed to do it as he was ready to run more thousand dollar tests to find a diagnosis on my sick, 15 year old dog. Telling the vet that I thought it was time KILLED me. They asked if I wanted to be with her when they put her down. I couldn’t do it. Remembering that part is what pushes me right over the edge. I so don’t regret not going with her because there is know why I could have been there while they did that to my best friend, but thinking about them taking her out of the room, and her not knowing what was about to happen just makes me so, so sad.

I can picture that day vividly. I don’t think I feel guilty about my decision, because I know in my head that it was the right thing, but I can’t seem to push the picture of them taking her out of the room and me seeing her for the last time out of my head.

It’s so silly really, because I am fine. I’ve just been so teary since hearing from my friend about her experience. It brought back these memories. Maybe getting it down for the world to see will facilitate some closure.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Productive Week

I love vacation. Vacation is the only time I feel like I’m able to have some fun. When we are in school I am so exhausted at the end of the day I don’t have any drive to accomplish a whole lot of anything. And then getting up at 5:30 in the morning…forget about it.

We had this past week off for Fall break. It was lovely. I had a very relaxing break but it was also very productive. I think the reason it was productive is because I am a night person. When I’m working I have to be a morning person which I hate with every fiber of my being. Instead, on vacation, I can sleep in until I decide to get out of bed, get my jobs done for the day, and still stay up late for some fun.

There were a lot of things going on this week…dinner with friends,

blog 011doctors appts, working in my classroom, cleaning my closet, game night, movies, and two Thanksgivings. In addition, my cute little coffee maker arrived so I had time to experiment.
blog 014 blog 019
Even though I kept busy, I still had some time to myself. More than anything, when I’m home, I love to play in my art room. However I don’t like to work on my art when I only have an hour or two. I like to be in there when I have 6 or 7 hours just to experiment and create. During vacation I’m able to do that. This week I worked in my art journal and got to work on my holiday cards.
The crazy puppy also enjoyed that I was home spending time with her this week. Each day we went to the dog park AND on a walk which definitely helps with the craziness.
blog 017
Rigby is pure 9-month-old trouble, but we had some time to work on her manners this week.

All in all it was such a nice vacation. But it’s back to work this week. Setting the alarm was brutal. I’m getting through the let down of going back to work by thinking about winter vacation…starting in three weeks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Number 2

It’s awfully nice to attend Thanksgiving at someone else’s house. There is less stress not being the hostess (or host) of the event. It is much, much easier to arrive with a side dish than it is to plan and coordinate the meal. I should have been happy to visit with family and friends without having to worry about them all in my home. However, there was something missing…leftovers!

To me, the best part of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey sandwich for lunch the next day. Leftovers are a hit or miss when eating elsewhere and it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. That’s why I hosted my own Thanksgiving meal last night…Thanksaturday if you will.

I had never made a turkey before, but I like to cook and I’m pretty good at it. So how hard could it really be, right? Well, it was hard! To start, the wrapping on the turkey said the icky parts of the turkey were packaged in two bags and shoved into the cavity. I only found one! I had my hand shoved in that turkey’s butt for a good 5 minutes trying to find bag #2. I couldn’t, which worried me, but I felt the first bag that included the neck and it felt like the other parts were also inside so I figured I was good to go. The turkey was prepped and put in the oven to cook for the directed 3 and a half hours.
blog 007
The 3 and a half hours turned into about 5 hours. In the mean time, prepping the side dishes so they were all finished at the same time as the turkey and each other was quite the task. Especially when the turkey took forever to cook. Once it finally did, it looked beautiful!

blog 008
This was also the first time I carved a turkey. It went pretty well until I got through one side and located the 2nd bag of “goodies”. They were still securely sealed inside the baggie but I truly think they crawled inside the turkey after I put it in the oven because I had checked it inside and out for that 2nd bag.

Without further ado, the meal was finally prepared! We had turkey (of course), smashed potatoes, gravy, lemon roasted asparagus, and cranberry sauce. blog 009
It was an uncomplicated meal, but it sure tasted good. Plus, we all finished the evening with our own set of leftovers to make sandwiches with this week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Peeing in the Kitchen – A Thanksgiving Story

I have a very small family.  Other than my mom, I have an aunt and a couple of cousins and that’s it.  Our holiday get togethers are kind of a random mixture of friends and family and no longer really tradition oriented.  So this story really could have happened on a regular day and it still would have been funny.  However, since it happened on Thanksgiving, it’s even funnier.

A few years back my cousin Diane had Thanksgiving at her house.  There were about 15 people there that day and we had quite a nice dinner.  After the dinner was over some guests were resting on the couch while others helped clean up the mess.  When most of the cleaning was finished all that remained in the kitchen were my cousin Diane and my aunt (Diane’s mom).  They dried dishes and put them away.

Let me give you some pertinent background information about my cousin and my aunt.  They pee when they laugh too hard.  That’s right.  If they get to laughing a lot, they have an “accident”.  As far back as I can remember, combined they have probably peed their pants about 8 times.  Which, to me, is a lot to pee your pants as an adult.

While Diane and my Aunt Kathy were doing the dishes, Diane bent down to one of the cupboards below the counter to put something away.  While down there, my aunt accidentally whacked her in the head with a pot.  The sound of the pot hitting her head made a “Bonnnggg” sound.  Diane was ok in the sense that she wasn’t hurt, but she sat down on the kitchen floor and burst into laughter.  The rest of us who heard the ringing also started laughing once we realized she was ok.  That made Diane laugh harder, and that made Diane pee right there on the kitchen floor.  If that weren’t bad enough, Diane peeing on the kitchen floor made the rest of laugh, including her mom, my Aunt Kathy.  Who then peed on the kitchen floor as well. 

Those of witnessing all this peeing were quite surprised.  We had seen this behavior from each of them individually, but never as a duo.  Everyone moved out of the kitchen area quite quickly so we didn’t have to be involved in the clean up.  We were thankful that we had already had dinner as none of us would have wanted to eat a Thanksgiving dinner after there had been pee on the kitchen floor.  Surprisingly enough, we haven’t had Thanksgiving at Diane’s house since then.

Happy Turkey Day everyone! 


Monday, November 22, 2010

Listen…I Think That’s the Sound of the Earth Dying

Did you know earlier this year that Sun Chips introduced a new 100% compostable bag? Made of plant material, this bag is super good for the environment because it decomposes over time rather than sitting in a landfill for years and years.

I’m only an occasional Sun Chip consumer so I only knew about the new bag from some friends. They joked however about how noisy the new bag was. Here’s an example…

It is pretty noisy, but none of my friends stopped buying it because of the noise. In fact, one bought it just for that reason.

As I mentioned, I don’t eat a lot of Sun Chips, so I didn’t think too much about it after except that it was a great concept. I think all companies who package food should do so in compostable packages. Then this past week, while watching Real Time With Bill Maher, I learned that due to customer complaints about the noise, Frito Lay is returning to it’s original Earth-killing bag for 5 of their 6 flavors.

What could possibly be that annoying about the bag? All chip bags are noisy. Eating chips is noisy. Perhaps this bag is noisier than it’s predecessor. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bag you’d take with you to the movies, but really, if I were a loyal Sun Chip eater, this bag wouldn’t stop me from staying that way. Even if it did bother me, I’d handle a little bit of noise to help the environment. If it bothered me a lot, I might even put in a little extra effort and put them in a bowl.

To the people who would stop buying an Earth-friendly product because of the sound of the bag I have this message for you…
A noisy Sun Chip bag is a small inconvenience compared the sound of the Earth dying.

And a message to Frito Lay…
Shame on you for caving to a warped public opinion. An opinion of people who clearly can’t sacrifice anything (not even the sound of their chip bag) to help the environment.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now Maybe I’ll Be a Coffee Drink(er)

About once a week I drink coffee…if you can call it that. Coffee connoisseurs and hard core black coffee drinkers would laugh at my coffee consumption. Instead of choking down this

coffee2I happily sip sweet and caramel-y coffee drinks like this
coffee Mmmmm!
Since these coffee drinks are so expensive I have tried to make my own by adding fancy creamers to regular coffee. However, I can’t make a pot of coffee to save my life. It ends up just tasting like coffee water so I continue to spend $4-$5 a pop on these yummy cups of heaven. Just not very often since I can’t afford it too often. That is until recently…

A few weeks back I was in one of the best kitchen stores in the world, Sur La Table. They happen to be demonstrating a new single serve coffee machine made by Krupps and Nescafe. It was so easy and the coffee was so tasty! Plus there isn’t any measuring coffee or water and no coffee filters. Instead, you just stick one of the premeasured “pods” inside the machine and it does everything including steaming the milk! That put a bug in my ear about single serve coffee makers.

I did some research but kept coming back to the Krupps because it is so darn cute AND it is red!
red_main_img I know, right!?!?!

This week I finally broke down and purchased the Dolce Gusto Creativa machine. I got the email today that it had been shipped and was on it’s way! So yay!

Now here’s hoping that my new machine will pay for itself in the near future because I won’t be spending all that money for one drink. I think it will be so much fun to use that I might even try black coffee one of these days.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Maybe I Am A Little Bit Cool

I’ve been on a blog hiatus recently. Wanting to spend more time creating art than writing my blog. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do both, so I’ve let it slide. I will do my best to keep up with the writing. Still reading and enjoying your blogs.

I went shoe shopping this weekend. I love shoes; can’t get enough of them. We were in DSW for about 1 minute when I spotted these little gems…


I tried them on and they were so comfortable, plus they looked really cute with the jeans I wore. SOLD!

After wandering around rows and rows of shoes looking for a pair of brown flats I gave up (I can’t ever find cute brown flats) and got into line.

The checkout girl was probably about 20 and very bubbly. She opened the box and gasped, “Oh my god! These are so cute!” I agreed. “Not a lot of people have bought these,” she added, “It takes a special kind of person for these shoes.” I nodded and laughed politely all the while thinking, “What the hell does that mean?” But actually said, “Really? I just thought they were cute.” “NO! You’re really cool to pull off shoes like these. I couldn’t do it.” More polite nodding.

I’m so the opposite of cool, so as I left the store I wondered if this girl had just made some underhanded compliments at my expense. But as the evening went on, I decided to just be cool knowing that not every Tom, Dick and Harry bought these shoes. Now let’s see if I’m cool enough to pull them off.