Archive for October, 2009

Just not feeling it

I just can’t seem to get into the Halloween spirit this year. Usually we’re the couple that decorates the house, has our costumes planned weeks in advance, and participates in all the fun fall festivities leading up to the big day – haunted houses, pumpkin and apple picking, pumpkin carving, etc. But this year we’ve done nothing. I put out a few decorations but not the really cool ones. I don’t even feel like dressing up even though the neighborhood theme (cowboys & indians) was picked out last year. I just don’t want to buy a costume or put in the effort.

Instead I’ve had to refrain from making out the Christmas cards, debating Christmas stamps, and playing non-stop Christmas music. I caved and bought some sugar and spice lip gloss, but that’s it!

I did however manage to watch Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin, and scare the crap out of myself watching Amityville Horror (oh Ryan Reynolds, you are pretty with your shirt off). And maybe I’ll watch Hocus Pocus tomorrow, but I know I’ll be one of those people who runs out to the store to buy candy a few mere hours before trick-or-treaters arrive. And unless I want to be the party pooper of my group of neighbor friends, I’ll need to find a suitable costume that hopefully doesn’t cost more than $15. My husband might go as Wolverine. He’s been growing the beard for about a week, so all he needs is a flannel shirt and white tank, and some claws. I haven’t seen any claws at the Halloween stores so I hope he doesn’t expect me to make them. Maybe I’ll just get a pig snout and a set of wings and go as the “swine flew”. I’m sure no one will think of THAT this year. (insert sarcasm here)

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Almost everyone I know is having a really shitty time with life right now. Whether it’s stress, relationships, friendships, or maybe they’re just sick, litterally everyone I know has something worth complaining about in their lives at the moment.

Which is why, this morning when I was stressing out about work stuff and wondering if maybe I’m just a pansy because EVERYONE has issues right now, I kind of lost it and cried. In my office. At 9am. For some, this might be a weekly or monthly occurrance. But in the almost six years that I’ve worked for my company, I have never – I repeat, never – cried at work over work-related reasons. But today I did. And then I just got more frustrated, except this time with myself because I should be stronger than this, but that only made me cry a little more. To describe it, it wasn’t a full on sob, but more of a defeated, kicked in the gut too many times to care anymore, kind of cry. To get into it really wouldn’t make much sense to anyone that doesn’t work with me, so I won’t.

Usually I have a firmer grasp on the reality of things. I mean, in the grand scheme of life, my little work issues are laughable. I probably won’t even remember them in five years. So why does it feel like the entire world is crashing down around me?

I talked things over with a manager that I just adore and she really helped me sort through my thoughts and frustrations. Though nothing has changed yet, I felt better. Then that afternoon, it’s like my husband sensed that I needed some cheering up, so I was surprised to receive a delivery of 50 mini-roses. I hadn’t said much to him about work other than I was really stressed, so that surprised me. He’s a pretty awesome husband.

So here’s what I learned today:

  • It’s okay to cry.
  • It’s also okay to ask for help. You may have to swallow your pride to do either of these, but sometimes the alternative is much worse.
  • Talking helps. As long as it’s someone you respect and trust.
  • Husbands aren’t always as dense as they like to let on. They can be incredibly thoughtful and romantic if they really want to. And sometimes, when you think they’re not listening and they don’t really care, they just might surprise you.
  • And lastly, the world isn’t ending just because you have a bad day. But if it is, or you just feel like it is, you can sit beside me when the world comes down.

Post inspired by this song:

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At this moment…

Stole this monthly meme from my good buddy Nora because today is one of those days when I WANT to write so much, but my mind is going in a thousand different directions, so this just seems easier. Sorry, but I’m lazy. A lazy blogger. We’re the worst.

Current Book(s):
Work in Progress: an Albert Einstein biography
Finished: The Birth of Venus

Current Music:
An assortment of Christmas music. I know it’s early, but I’ve been working on holiday-themed projects at work and so it helped to inspire me. And now I’m slightly addicted.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure:
Season 1 of True Blood

Current Colors:
bright oranges and browns. What can I say? It’s fall and less than a week until Halloween.

Current Obsessions:
Organizing (vacation photos, home files)
Planning our next vacation
Soups – all I seem to want to eat lately is soup.

Current Drink:
Water and Crystal Light

Current Songs:
Sweetest Thing – U2

Current Movie:
Just watched Year One

Current TV Show:
Biggest Loser Season 8

Current Wish-List:
A cleaning lady

Current Needs:
More energy, motivation and hours in the day to hit the gym

Current Triumph(s):
Losing 4 lbs.

Current Bane(s) of my Existence:
My Google Reader, too much work at work, re-doing the tile floor in the guest bathroom, and upcoming daylight savings time. I absolutely hate that it will soon be dark at 5:30 at night.

Current Goal(s):
Lose 10 more pounds by December

Put the new tile floor in before Thanksgiving

Finish printing all of our vacation photos from these last few years and put them in albums

Organize the home office

Finish this damn Einstein biography so I can read something more fun

Current Indulgence:

cheesy tortilla soup (I can make a semi-healthy version that is soooo good)

Current Blessing:
Friends – I’ve been able to spend at least one night every week hanging out with a friend. I love that.    

Current Slang or Saying:
You know how some people will call and ask  “how are you?” Well I always start by asking, “what are you doing?”

Current (Fav) Outfit:
Jeans and a sweatshirt. Or PJ pants and a sweatshirt.

Current Excitement:
Halloween! Even though I have NO idea what I’m going to be yet.

Current Mood:
Sleepy. It’s bedtime.

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Seething With Jealousy?

I went to the dentist for my regular six month cleaning and it just so happens that my dentist is also the dad of a girl I used to work with about five years ago. So even though I haven’t spoken to her in almost five years, I get an update on her life from her dad every six months. I’ve heard about her big move to Chicago, her engagement, her wedding, her vacations, etc. She’s a nice girl, and though we were peers, I didn’t know her very well. We only worked together for about four or five months anyway. So I never thought much about the conversations with her dad and updates until today.

As it turns out, his daughter and her new husband quit their jobs to go on the adventure of a lifetime – one year of nothing but traveling and seeing the world. They’ll start in Argentina,  then go to Brazil, then New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and so on. Are they wealthy? Not really, so they’ll be living in hostels, making their own food, and carrying little more than what can fit in a backpack. FOR A YEAR.

I spent the entire drive to work in my car in absolute silence. Of course I was jealous. But I was deep in thought trying to figure out how to make a dream like this come true. I had so many questions. How does one (or in this case, two people) plan and budget for such a trip? How do you know how much money you’ll need to buy plane tickets to get you from point A to B? And how much are the hostels? How far in advance do you plan? What do you do with all your stuff? How much money can you make by selling all your stuff? Is it enough to pay for a year’s worth of traveling? How often do you have to do laundry if the only clothes you have are the ones you can carry? How many pairs of underwear do you need?

I was in the zone, almost obsessing over this for a good 30 to 40 minutes. But the more I thought about it, the less appealing it became. I remember our European cruise last year. We were only gone 10 days, and we loved (almost) every minute of it (I could’ve done without the constipation. And Naples.) but I missed home. I missed my dog. I missed my family (phone calls were too expensive). I missed my job (strange, but true). I missed my country! Would I like to travel the world? Of course! But do I want to experience it as an almost-homeless person? Not really. I like staying in a hotel or eating out at a restaurant. They don’t have to be fancy, but I wouldn’t complain if they were!

So as far as I’m concerned, the girl I used to know can have her year off and her adventure. I’m sure it will be unforgettable and she’ll have no regrets. But I hope she writes a book or takes some really awesome photographs to sell when she gets back because trying to reenter the job market in this economy after taking an entire year off might not be so easy. How does “hostel jumping” translate on a resume anyway?

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Three is Enough

Since May, I’ve lost three grandparents this year. First, there was hubby’s grandma, whom I considered my grandma as well because we were all pretty close. Then, there was my biological father’s father. We weren’t very close and I hadn’t seen him in years, but funerals are never really easy. Then this past weekend was my step-dad’s mother’s funeral. Again, we weren’t very close, but that had more to do with her almost decade long battle with Alzheimer’s. She hadn’t so much as opened her eyes in two years, and probably hadn’t spoken in at least five, so it felt like we lost her a long, long time ago.

The only positive about the weekend – in addition to seeing the gorgeous fall colors of the trees in Kentucky – was getting to see family, some of which I hadn’t seen since my wedding. (Which was also in Kentucky. I even saw the preacher that married us.) I used to spend a lot of time with my step-family, especially around the holidays back in my pre-marital days. But with marriage comes a new family and with a new family comes new traditions, so I stopped partaking in the step-family Thanksgiving dinner in Kentucky in order to host my own Thanksgiving here in St. Louis with my parents, grandparents, aunt and cousin. And then Xmas is spent with the in-laws. It would be so much easier if everyone lived in the same town, or same state, but we’re just all so spread out that we can’t go from house to house in one day or even one weekend during the holidays.

So even though the circumstances weren’t ideal, it was nice to spend time with parts of my family I don’t get to see very often. Even if I didn’t particularly care for driving – by myself – for a total of 9 hours this weekend since hubby was out-of-town for work (and attending a U2 concert, 20 ft from the stage as I’m typing this. Not that I’m bitter. Because I’m not. No really, I don’t even like U2.) I used to make the drive alone all the time, but road-trips are always better with two.

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Yesterday? Sucked. It was one of those days when all of these little, seemingly insignificant yet highly annoying things kept happening to the point where I had to ask myself, several times, what did I do to deserve such bad karma?

First, my alarm didn’t go off and I woke up almost an hour later than I had wanted to. Sometimes, when I’m getting ready, I check my work e-mail. When I did, I had an email from my boss wanting to meet at 8 or 8:30 am (we don’t have to be in the office until 8:30, but he’s a morning guy.) I told him I might be able to meet at 8:30 but that I was running late. Then I realized I had to stop for gas. And then I hit a wall of traffic because of bridge construction. So I didn’t make my 8:30 meeting. Not a huge deal, but annoying for all involved, I’m sure.

The majority of my work day went as normal, until 6pm when I left work in a hurry for another meeting. But the gods must have been against me because it took me 30 minutes just to get out of the downtown area. THIRTY MINUTES when it normally takes three to five minutes. So I missed my second meeting of the day.

Then I get home, and my U-verse is out. The U-verse I just had installed on Saturday? Yep. Out. On Biggest Loser night. And when U-verse goes out, it doesn’t only affect your TV. Oh no. It knocked my wireless out too. I spent 35 minutes on the phone with the tech only for him to tell me someone will have to come out tomorrow and I’ll have to be home by 4pm to wait for the repair guy.

Around 8pm, I finally made myself some dinner – a grilled cheese sandwich – and somehow proceeded to burn it. I made another one and burned that one too. You would think it was my first time making a grilled cheese sandwich. Actually, I think I made a better grilled cheese sandwich my first time. I don’t know what happened but I’m blaming the pan.

I decided to take the dog for a walk. It was raining. So that was fun. Then I went to Blockbuster and the grocery store (uneventful, thank goodness) and called it a night. I figured that once I went to bed, it would be over and I could look forward to tomorrow. Except my mom called this morning to tell me my step-dad’s mom (my step-grandma) passed away last night. So apparently Tuesday was much worse than I originally thought.

So you over there, you with the voodoo doll that looks a lot like me? Put that down and give me a break. I’m not in the poking mood.


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Napa Valley

On our way out of San Francisco, we made one more stop by the Golden Gate Bridge before heading out to Napa Valley.


We also stopped by Muir Woods, which is sort of a scary drive with all the twists and turns. But it was Sunday, and gorgeous, and therefore we couldn’t find a parking spot at the park to even park our car. Well okay, that’s a lie. We found one, but it was about one and half miles away from the park entrance and it was so hot, we decided to save that excursion for some other time.

The further out of the city we drove, the hotter it became. We drove through Sonoma and then into Napa to our hotel. The Silverado Resort was everything the pictures showed it to be. Even better was the complimentary room upgrade to a Jr. Suite and the surprise fruit basket, cheese platter and bottle of Chardonnay delivery we received just minutes after settling into our room. (side note: I had been corresponding with the resort’s resident Twitterer prior to our trip, which is how we even found out about the resort in the first place. She was kind enough to arrange some of those special extras and we couldn’t have been more impressed. Thanks Erika!)


Since we now had everything we needed in our room, we saw no need to leave the resort. So we walked across the street to the spa and made appointments for our couples massage that evening. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool while we waited. (Both the resort and the spa have a pool, plus the spa has a jacuzzi, so we pool-hopped for a couple of hours.) I haven’t been to many spas in my life but this had to be one of the better ones. Robes and slippers waiting for me in my own locker, steam rooms, saunas, hot tea, citrus water…I could’ve lived there.

After our massage we simply walked back across the street to the resort restaurant where I had the best corn and crab chowder I’ve ever tasted. I need to learn how to make it. Soooo good.

The next two days were all about winery hopping. We visited:

Whitehall Lane Winery (we had two free tastings vouchers)


Markham Vineyards (also free tastings voucher)


Castello di Amorosa (my favorite. No voucher. I bought a bottle of wine calld “Fantasia” to bring home with me.)



Chateau Montelena (of the movie “Bottle Shock” fame)


And since it was crush season, we got to see the wineries in action as they literally crushed the grapes to extract the juices.


Beringer Vineyards


Day 2 of winery hopping:

Domaine Carneros (great for Champagne lovers)


We sat on the patio and enjoyed the view


Artesa Winery (just look at the view beyond the fountain! We were told this place had the best views of the Carneros region and I’m willing to bet they were right.)


Cuvaison Winery


Simply gorgeous! I think we picked the perfect time to year to see the valley and the weather was wonderful. And with more than 350 wineries in Napa Valley, there’s enough there to hopefully make a return trip some day. If you’ve never been to Napa, note that everything closes pretty early. Most of the wineries close at 5 or 6 pm (and open as early as 9:30 or 10 am!) and the restaurants stop serving food after 9pm. Not much night-life in the valley, presumably because everyone is already passed out or drunk from the full day of drinking. Since we only did tastings, and even shared tastings at times, neither of us ever got drunk so the nights were kind of boring after dinner. Except for the last night when we met a couple from Louisville, Kentucky at the local bar (one of only two  bars in the downtown area that stay open past 10pm) and spent the entire evening hanging out with them until about 12:30 when the place closed. They were a lot of fun and we exchanged contact info so we can potentially meet up in the future when we pass through that way (which we do a few times a year to visit the in-laws and my parents).

Though it was one of the most expensive trips we’ve ever taken (maybe more than Hawaii), we had a blast and hope to go back some day.

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San Francisco Day 2

After a great first day in San Francisco, we woke up the next morning (my hubby’s official birthday), anxious for the day’s main activity: watching the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park. Since the game didn’t start until 1pm, we took our time waking up, watching the Michigan game, and getting ready for the day. We had already planned to eat lunch near the ballpark at a bar & grill called 21st Amendment. It was recommended to us by a local we met at the wine shop the night before. Since we didn’t have a car and the ballpark was not within walking distance, we decided to use public transit rather than cab it. As per usual, I was navigating until I lost all self-control when I spotted a cable car that had stopped for loading/unloading. I may have said “That’s our cable car!” in order to make my husband think that was our ride. We quickly hopped on only to realize it was headed in the complete opposite direction of the ballpark. The great thing about cable cars though, is the fact that they go up and down the same street, like a train on a track, just stopping at intersections for people to hop on and off. So we just stayed on the car until it ran out of cable and returned to the same spot. Waste of time? Perhaps. But it was fun and we can say we’ve rode on a San Francisco cable car now.


After a couple of bus switches (and realizing it would have been cheaper to take a cab) we made it to AT&T Park.


We purchased our tickets and with time to spare, found the 21st Amendment bar & grill. Fortunately, they were playing the Michigan game, and we just happened to sit next to another couple where the guy was also a Michigan fan. It also helps that they won that day. After lunch, we went to the game and I have to say that AT&T Park has one of the most gorgeous views of any ballpark we’ve been to.


That was the view from our nosebleed seats. We didn’t stay there very long, mostly because it was just so hot and the sun was beating right down on us. So we went down a few levels and just walked around for most of the game. Two things that shocked me: 1. The sheer amount of Cubs fans. In fact, there could have been more Cubs fans thans Giants fans at that game. It was hard to tell. 2. Garlic fries. I’ve never seen garlic fries at a ballpark, but they were more popular than nachos. Weird.

We spent some time walking along the perimeter, just looking out at the bay. The most notable boat had to be this one.


Just as we were getting bored and ready to leave, I ran into a girl that I went to high school with. She graduated the year before me so we weren’t really friends, but we recognized each other and I gave her crap about wearing a Cubs shirt (if you’re from St. Louis, like we are, then you’re assumed to be a Cards fan). They were visiting San Francisco for their one year wedding anniversary so she claimed she was wearing the shirt as a gift to him. ha!

After the game, we cabbed it over to Chinatown. We weren’t big fans. So then we walked over to the Italian district, which was much more our style. We ate an early dinner by sharing a calzone at one place and had dessert of tiramisu gelato and a cappuccino at another place. After that, we felt like we were out of things to do so we went back to the room, changed, and walked across the street to a building where you can go up to the 52nd floor and view the entire city. I forget what it’s called but it’s sort of like the Rainbow Room in NYC. So we had some overpriced drinks and a crab cake appetizer there while we took in gorgeous sites of the city at night.

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San Francisco

We left early Friday morning and even despite a few delays, we finally landed at SFO around 11:30 am local time. We hopped a cab to the fabulous Omni Hotel. (Travel Tip: For the best deal, use third-party travel sites like Kayak.com or Expedia.com and once you’ve found your top three hotels, check their websites to see if the hotels themselves are promoting even cheaper deals than those third-party sites.) We arrived a few hours before official check-in time and the couple in front of us had just politely been told their room wasn’t ready, so I stepped up to the front desk with my friendliest smile and even though our room wasn’t ready, the front desk clerk was more than happy to find us a similar room that was ready. He also recommended a 3.5 hour city tour and though the tour was already booked, he was able to squeeze us in with the tour company at the last minute with some sweet-talking of his own. So we dropped off our stuff (our room was perfect!), grabbed a snack from the snack shop next door, and waited for our tour.

Most people know that San Francisco is incredibly hilly, and therefore not much fun if you tried to explore it on foot. It’s also a runner’s nightmare, so even though I had every intention of jogging, I figured it could wait until we hit Napa. The tour was okay. We took a bus past Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, the Italian District, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to a museum, up to twin peaks, past the painted ladies (the houses featured in the opening sequence of Full House), through the old hippy hangout area of town (I forget what the tour guide called it) where Janis Joplin used to hang out. So we saw quite a bit of the city. The biggest downside was that our tour guide’s first language was not English, so it was difficult to understand him at times and we only caught bits and pieces of what he was saying. So enough talk, let’s look at pictures:


A foggy Golden Gate Bridge


View of the city from twin peaks (at least I think that’s what it’s called).


The painted ladies. I was probably more excited to see this (and the Mrs. Doubtfire House, which I didn’t snap a good picture of) than anything else on the tour.

The tour ended a Fisherman’s Wharf so instead of going back to our hotel, we just stayed at the wharf and walked around.


From the wharf, we could see Alcatraz.


And the Golden Gate Bridge.


Alcatraz from Pier 39. If the flag is any indication, it was windy. And cold. So most of our photos from here have me awkwardly holding my hair back in a faux ponytail. Like this:


Shortly after this picture, we bought my husband a jacket because he was freezing his arse off in that thin short-sleeve shirt. Oh he had a jacket or two, back at the room, but we considered it a souvenir since it says San Francisco on it.

We ate dinner at a place called Scoma’s since it was recommended to us by a friend, but even though the food was okay, we were a little disappointed. It was sort of pricey, the portions were small, and we just weren’t impressed. I think we expected more East Coast style of seafood dining. After dinner, we kept walking until we hit Ghiradelli Square.


The store even gives out free samples! But I couldn’t make up my mind on what to buy, so I walked out with nothing at all. Instead we went to the little wine shop across the plaza and did our first California wine tasting. I ended up buying two bottles of sparkling Shiraz and had them shipped to us because 1) it’s delicious and 2) there are only three places in the US that make it. It’s a good holiday wine, so I’ll have a bottle for Thanksgiving, when all the family comes in town, and another bottle to take to the in-laws’ house for Xmas. They just arrived yesterday and they kind of look like champagne bottles. I’m so tempted to break into one early.

We got back to our room around 10 pm to discover this:


When I booked our room, I noted that it was for a birthday celebration (my husband’s) and even though his birthday wasn’t until the next day, we were pretty excited to come back and find a huge piece of chocolate cake and a small bottle of champagne waiting for us. And of course, I even lit the candle that came with it and forced him to make a birthday wish. Thank you, Omni Hotels!

A sweet ending to a wonderful first day.

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(I’m still sorting through our vacay pics, but in the meantime, let’s look at all the happy.)

Happiness is…

A very realistic dream where I was hanging out with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. More importantly, James McAvoy. I almost never have dreams that involve handsome men. Especially not handsome, famous, SCOTTISH men. Le sigh. Stupid alarm clock.


New boots! I’m not much of a shopoholic, but the desire to buy at least five new pairs of boots is hitting me hard. I covet these immensely and plan to purchase something similar this weekend. These are Aerosoles. You see, I’m experiencing some slight foot pain and I think these would be both stylish AND comfortable. I’m all about the comfort, baby.

We just signed up for AT&T U-verse service. I’ve been wanting this for at least a year, and it’s finally available in my neighborhood. More HD channels! DVR! DVR on ALL three of our TVs! And for less than $20 more than I’m paying for basic service (with no DVR) with Charter. I’m so excited for the switch! And to finally have a DVR! Bye bye Charter!

Speaking of TV…

I can’t wait to veg out on the couch with my hubby and just relax and catch up on some movie rentals this weekend.

So what’s making you happy lately?

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