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.

photo19 photo20 photo22 photo23 photo24
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…
blog 022 blog 024
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.