Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Cheer

So I'm in the mood to be a bit of a consumer and hunt down some holiday cheer. Earlier this year, I went on a bit of a rampage and tossed out everything and anything that wasn't absolutely necessary in our entry closet. That included all of our holiday decorations, including our fake tree. Now that it's after Thanksgiving and cheery little glittery lights are popping up everywhere, I'm feeling like our condo needs some festiveness as well and I'm seriously regretting my impulsive lack-of-space driven anger.

I guess it's a fresh start, then, huh? So where should I begin? I'm really loving the current trend of a smaller tree hoisted up by being placed in a wicker basket. It gives the tree extra height without taking more room in storage, and plus I could use the wicker basket to keep the other decorations stashed nicely away. And there's way more room for presents. Which is always a good thing. Plus, a shorter tree is typically less expensive... so not only do we save more room, but we have more money left over. Score!

I also would like to get a bit crafty. Take a look at this adorable tabletop tree:

More lovely crafts and instructions here.

At the above site she has instructions to make some incredible ornaments and gift boxes using the same style. Perhaps I should use this to decorate my tree? I'm so over breakable ornaments!

And check out this clever and amazing Kanzashi tree:

Details and how-to found here.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the work that is necessary to create this. All those squares of fabric, folded, stitched, glued... I don't think I'd have the willpower to complete this. The person who made this had an etsy site at one point- I would be so tempted to buy one if she still sold them. They're gorgeous!

I'm always so impressed by the creativity of the people found on both sites... I wish I had planned for the holidays sooner! Perhaps if I get started on the Kanzashi tree now, it might be ready for 2012!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Second Deadly Sin.

It's been a long, long time since I've been good about my diet. I love to bake and cook, and while I've stepped away from large quantities of junk food, I still love to participate in gluttony.

And in the spirit of researching the seven deadly sins, I was actually quite surprised that there are multiple ways to commit gluttony. As found on Wikipedia:
  1. Laute - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
  2. Nimis - eating food that is excessive in quantity
  3. Studiose - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
  4. Praepropere - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
  5. Ardenter - eating too eagerly.
I'm a champion of all five, definitely. I think my favorite form of gluttony is #3 though. I love tea parties full of little dainty sandwiches and scones and delicate petits fours. I also love wedding cakes. And those are pretty fancy.

So I'm now heading back to a paleo/primal diet. So brace yourself- lots of boring food posts up ahead! And there's something really fun about trying to make your favorite dishes out of a relatively limited set of ingredients. I rather enjoy the challenge!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Today marks the third year anniversary of my father's death.

I'll never forget waking up at 7am on Monday, rolling over and seeing the three missed calls. I called my voicemail, and hearing my mother's voice tell me "Julie, I think your father is gone..". I swear that my heart stopped that moment from shock. I turned off my phone, turned to Val and told him "Dad is gone.". And that's when my heart rebooted, and the tears couldn't stop.

My father had suffered the majority of his life from a collection of illnesses that were associated with the onset of his juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. His body was crippled by his autoimmune system.

And while he suffered for the majority of his life, his pain was not his identity. His joyful spirit shone through. He loved to laugh and make others do the same - his sense of humor was one of my favorite things about my father. He also had a thirst for knowledge - he loved history, fishing, sailing, construction, automobiles and DIY. When someone had a question, they could ask my dad. He could usually point them in the right direction. Have you ever read or flipped through the book "Back to Basics"? He was basically a human resource for that book.

He was and remains my greatest inspiration. He makes me want to be a better and more productive person, to get out there and see the things that he never had a chance to see.

The world lost an asset three years ago. I lost my father, one of my best friends, and my guidance counselor. The values he shared and the joy he brought to our lives will never be forgotten.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy (Early) Pawlidays

Look - My newly dark plum nails are making a cameo here!

We ventured to our friends' home this evening to drop our doglet off for the weekend. They had some holiday outfits for their kittens lying around (their cats* tolerate them, amazingly!).

...and so we decided to deck out Abby with some festive attire, too. She's about the same size as the kittens.
This is what happens when you say the T-R-E-A-T word:

And then things got silly. Swear to god, this hasn't been manipulated
I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Such a ridiculous picture. It has been a lovely evening. I guess I should finish packing to Sacramento, eh?

*All cats shown here are considered "Good Cats." These types of cats are rare and hard to find. Do not assume that all other cats are forgiven for their heinous behavior and crimes against my furniture and sleep patterns

A First

So call me crazy, but today was the day I finally lost my virginity.

My toe virginity, that is. Before you think I'm a pervert, let me clarify: I had my first pedicure.

Don't get me wrong, I take great care of my feet. I was blessed with lovely toes, and I do what I can to take care of the one asset that I actually like on my entire body. But this was the first time I let someone else do the work. It wasn't half as weird as I thought it would be. And my toes look lovely. And those jetted tubs? Amazing. Especially on such a gray and gross day.

This is the darkest nail color I've ever worn, by far. I'm rocking OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark. It's nearly black, but with a plumish warmth to it that I adore. It'll look great with my plum top I'm wearing for tomorrow's dinner.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Thanksgiving has always been a difficult holiday. This year, it falls the day before the third anniversary of my father's death. Black Friday, huh? That's a bit ironic.

Ever since my father's passing, my family has evolved and changed. It's not a bad thing, it's just.. well, different. So this year, we're mixing things up a bit. While we were invited to visit my mom's, we have decided to run down to Vancouver, WA. The hub's father is now in the state, and this will be his first Thanksgiving with his dad in seven years. Seven years!

As if one day celebrating Thanksgiving wasn't enough, we're also flying down to Sacramento this weekend for a dinner at his aunt and uncle's home. It'll be nice to see everyone- his family is so lovely and welcoming. It'll be nice to get to know them better. Plus, it'll be super exciting to see what all the hype is about regarding the new body scanners and frisking procedures.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photos from Our Trip!

It's been exactly one month since we had arrived in Paris. And in honor of that special occasion, I finally uploaded photos.

Five of my favorite photographs:

I am pretty pleased. I had over 600 photos, all shot manually. Shooting manually gives me so much room to explore and push my exposures. All of the cathedrals and museums were no flash zones, so I really had to manipulate my settings to get the results that I wanted.

I need to get our photography website up and running. We've been asked to shoot a wedding (I had to decline - my skills are no where good enough to shoot weddings), engagement photos, and holiday photos. I'm so excited that people are beginning to think of us first for pictures. It's so much fun for us, it's the best date in the world and such a joy trying to capture the happy moments in a digital format.

More photos from my Canon EOS here.

And of course, the obligatory slideshow, for one stop viewing!

Optometrist Appt Today!

I am blessed with great vision, however with a dose of astigmatism. Essentially my eyeballs aren't perfectly round, so it takes longer for me to read and focus on something. When I go into malls or other areas with a lot of visual stimuli I will get headaches really quickly, and I am really uncomfortable driving over 45mph because by the time I really see something, it's already whirred by me. Seriously, it scares the hell out of me. Fortunately for me and the rest of the world, I walk everywhere or take the back routes (25mph, ftw!).

I've tried glasses, and having a gap between my face and the glasses causes a really distorted, drunk feeling. I can't walk in them, I've almost fallen down the stairs wearing them. They're great when I'm reading, but walking around I tend to high-step and still manage to trip over everything. I've tried two different prescriptions with no luck.

I finally got to the point where I am so frustrated by the lag in my vision that I set up another appointment with the optometrist, this time for contacts. If glasses aren't cutting it, maybe contacts will be exactly what I need. Here's to hoping.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mazda 2, Part II

I sat in no less than five Mazdas this weekend, and without a doubt the Mazda2 was my favorite. We test drove it and the results were pretty much what we expected: Incredibly sensitive handling, although a bit slow on the acceleration (100hp, after all!). The visibility while sitting inside was amazing, especially when compared to my Scion tC. I really want something I feel like I can see out of (imagine that.. lol).

I want one now, but I still refuse to buy one brand new. They may depreciate as much as $3400 in the first year. Perhaps this time next year, when all the 2012 models come out, I'll be able to snag my own lovely little subcompact. Or I'll fall in love with something else entirely. It's a curse being so fickle.

But for what it's worth, this car is the one I desire at this very moment:

Picture and More Info at

Besides, in the time I have to wait I can figure out what I'm going to name it. I'm kind of fond of "Daphne."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Mazda 2

I got to see my mom today! It's weird that we live in the same state yet see one another maybe 5 times a year.

And because I got to spend more time in my car than I usually do, it really reiterates the idea that I really want a new car. Maybe not a new,
new car... but maybe just a different car.

So I've been looking around and daydreaming. You know how much I love little cars, right? I can't get over small, efficient vehicles. While I was in Europe I could not get over how awesome all of the cars were- they looked tiny on the outside, but had plenty of room on the inside, and lots of pep. Nothing like going 90mph down a freeway in something that looked smaller than a Geo Metro!

And then I saw this: The 2011 Mazda 2.

Photo from Motor Trend - Great Article & More Pics Here

.... did you hear that??? That was the sound of me squealing with joy.

It's a small car, yes, but it still seats 5, and starts at under $14k. And do you see that giant grin in the grill? How can you NOT be happy looking at that thing? It's too darn infectious. I might just be in love.

Alas, my love may have to wait. I generally do not believe in buying brand new cars. They depreciate so darn fast, it just doesn't seem like a wise investment.

But all the same, it doesn't mean that I can't test drive one and wax poetically over it. And who knows? Maybe I can make an exception to my rule. It might be worth having something I can actually see out of and want to drive.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Found out that Dave Niehaus passed away today. I have never appreciated the finer aspects of sports, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for that man. He could make any game interesting, and was one heck of a guy. He will be sorely missed..

Future Travel Plans

I have yet to finish going through all of my photos. I'm not sure why I'm being such a brat about it. I got some really great pictures, I'm just not really all that excited about sorting through them, cropping, and uploading them all. I really need to work on my digital organization, too.

We'll probably be on the other side of the world again come January. He has mentioned that he'd like company for his next business trip. While I'd love to visit Taiwan, I'm not too keen on sitting on an airplane for 12 hours. If we were staying there for 3 months or so, and then returning, then yes, maybe... But 12 hours one day, 6 days relaxing, then another 12? I don't know.

On one hand, I'm thinking life is too short, and things get complicated so easily.. I have my health, and we have the means... but seriously, honey... why can't we take a boat this time?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Family Decision

Our trip to Belgium was epic. France, not so much. I have a lot of things to say about the French. Ironically a lot of them start with the letter 'F.'

Anyway. Brugge (or Bruges - it's the capital of the Flemish region of Belgium) is the place my soul will haunt when I die. Seriously. I've told the husband when I die I will haunt a particular pub called Staminee De Garre. Belgium has moved me so much that I've decided that we will embrace our Flemish last name and learn Dutch, I'm going to learn traditional Flemish dishes, we will make a mecca back to Belgium once a year (if our good fortune holds), and if we ever do have kidlets we will raise them in Belgian traditions.

Gulden Draak in De Garre

The hub's father is on his way to visit today. And we are taking him to a Flemish pub in Fremont to celebrate this little decision of ours. I found a Dutch tutor (who also happens to be a fitness trainer- maybe I can have her yell in Dutch will I work out?).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Jello Chronicles

Halloween 2010 Jello Shots were a success! I love the fact that these are biodegradable too.. no nasty plastic cups to waste.

1. Half a bunch of oranges from end to end (not through the middle). I split apart 12.
2. Scoop out all the guts. Save for peel-less marmalade or orange juice or both.
3. Place orange halve bowls on muffin tins.
4. Fill with jello mixture.
5. Put in fridge. Cool for about 4 hours.
6. Slice each half into thirds.

Jello mixture for approximately three oranges:

1 8oz packet of jello
3/4 Boiling water
1/2 cup of flavored liquor
1/2 cup of vodka

I made four flavors- Found this guide to be quite helpful in planning:

1. Twizzlers -raspberry jello + peach schnapps (by far most popular)
2. Princess Peach - peach jello + peach schnapps
3. Lemon Drops -lemon jello + citron vodka
4. Fuzzy Navel - orange jello + peach schnapps

I'm working on a vegan recipe. It'd be great to come up with a healthier version that is nearly guilt-free.