Holiday Thoughts

December 27, 2010

This year, my husband and I decided (before my grandfather’s death) that we would not be travelling for the holidays. Every year, in the 13 years we have been together, we have driven all over to please relatives. Sometimes this meant traversing both California and Nevada. Battling holiday traffic and navigating winter weather (okay, I know our weather is nothing compared to other areas of the world) and putting up with family drama is just not the kind of “relaxation” I want to do during my limited time off.

So the foot was put down, and the families dealt with it. And we did everything (mostly nothing) we wanted. We spent time with neighbors and at hockey. (And of course each other.) Just the perfect time off! Because it was just us, the pressure to participate in excess was much lower. I think we’ve started a new tradition.

And for the new year: I’ve already begun to purge! I’ve pulled two trash bags of clothing from my closet to either garage sale or donate. We spent several hours going though paperwork and magazines and tossing away! It feels so good to dump all this stuff. I want to continue working on this at least one day each week. (Not the whole day, just a little bit at the minimum.)

Also for the new year, I want to be healthier. This includes eating at home more and exercising more. It also includes keeping the house tidier and cleaner. Not that we live in a hovel… but we definitely have room to improve. And this will keep us in a better place mentally, plus it will be nice to open our home to friends. I think the focus of simplification remains… We did well with not bringing more clutter into the home in the form of Christmas gifts, so I call that a win!


I found myself missing you…

December 27, 2010

First, thank you all for checking in periodically over the last few months. It means a lot to know you care!

It’s been a bittersweet second half of the year. I am finally employed! YAY! While I’m making considerably less than I was at my last job, I AM making a bit more than I was on unemployment. Also, hockey season has begun and my boys are doing well.

Things have been rough on the health front. My one relative recently diagnosed with leukemia is still fighting the fight. He’s had some rough spots, but overall is doing ok. I have another relative with a different form of leukemia and he too is still trudging though treatments.

The really sad news is that I lost my grandfather on the 17th of December. He was in his 90’s and in so much pain. The doctor think’s he had a blood clot – probably in his lung. My grandmother is still hanging on, even though she battles with advanced Alzheimer’s. I feel that it’s cruel to make her relive the loss of her husband so many times, but on the other hand, I don’t feel it’s right to lie to her. Such are the dilemmas for the family of those with this terrible disease.

So, about my job. I am essentially an account manager supporting client needs and my outside sales people. The environment is excellent – everyone is caring and supportive. This is the most difficult job I’ve ever had, but I really like it. It’s like working on a puzzle all day, which I find challenging and rewarding. Our product is one of education in a sort or personal/professional development nature.

I know I won’t be back posting as often as I had before (I mean hey – I had no job!). I do plan on posting when the mood strikes, such as now. 🙂 I’m excited to jump back in and catch up with the wonderful bloggers on my blogroll!

Construction Zone

July 6, 2010

Watch your step! Bitten’s home is a total construction zone!

We FINALLY had a 3-day weekend where my in-laws could come help us with some home improvement stuff. Here’s what we tackled:

  1. Turn the wall between the dining area & living room into a waist-high wall
  2. Fix the tiles on my kitchen counter
  3. Install indoor/outdoor thermometer & atomic clock
  4. Pull dryer out and clean vent/hose
  5. Install dimmer for dining light, plus kitchen light switch to match
  6. Hang new mailbox

I’ll add photos later since hubby absconded with my camera.

Of course, nothing really went smoothly. I was nearly trapped for life behind the dryer. But, I used my usual grace and coordination to flail myself up the wall and out of the hole.

I don’t know how many times the guys had to pull the sheet rock tape down & re-apply. I guess my house just wants to be full of bubbles. And of course, after the fact, they realized they sell the mesh wall patch stuff in a roll of “tape” too. Oh well. Since it’s so dang humid here (yes, it’s currently RAINING – WTF?) we are waiting extra time for the joint compound to dry.

The humidity is also to blame for my kitchen being, for the most part, non-useable. You see, we had lots of “help” when we first installed our tile. And it seems the trim pieces didn’t get enough mastic on them to hold them to the backerboard. That plus a couple little accidents left me with barely any trim pieces on my counters! U-G-L-Y!! I learned to use a power grinder thingy and got all the old grout and glue off. I also learned how to install tile. Guess what? It’s not that hard! Especially when you’re just replacing pieces. And when you have a father-in-law that can cut pieces to special sizes for you on the spot. Trust me, I know how lucky I am!

I’ll post more about this project, err, these projects, later… Just wanted to pop in to let you know what I’ve been up to!

BTW we did take time out to catch some fireworks. Turns out many of my neighbors have connections for the super-fancy illegal stuff. It was great that we didn’t have to walk but two blocks to catch an amazing show. This actually rivaled some pros!

And… I’m back!

June 10, 2010

Well, I was never really gone.

I’ve been here all along and have been motivated with a few projects away from the computer. In a way I feel like I’ve neglected writing, but on the other hand, I feel like it’s all been so… BORING.

So here’s the scoop! After cleaning the linen closet, I realized I could move the stash of PartyLite decorations (mostly holiday stuff) from the nice guest room to that closet. And in doing this, I realized the closet rod is giving out. It seems that when I rearranged the closets, I upset that delicate balance. So I had to take EVERYTHING off the rod before it completely gave out. Been there, done that – not fun. Wall repair makes hubby swear. Simple fix = one well place screw. Back to the closet with all you heavy jackets! (Will weed through them at a later date.)

In moving all the PartyLite stuff (I was a consultant for a few years) I found things that I forgot I had. None of which I couldn’t live without. Hello EBAY! So far, I’ve sold a dozen things and have only had to stalk one person. Actually, still stalking them. If you’re reading this, I’m holding your Fairy hostage till you pay me, sucker! I listed over 25 things, so to sell 12 is good, but not great. And – it’s MESSY! I completely destroyed the nice guest room! (I could have it presentable in about 30 minutes though, so it’s not TOO bad.)

Oh, and we finally (after owning this joint 11 years) ordered sliding closet doors for the two bedrooms. We found them quickly for the office, so those have been nice for some time.

In the middle of this madness, the garbage disposal shit the bed. It was spewing ick all over the underside of my sink!! So, hubby decides he’s gonna tackle this one himself. Cool! Off to the store to buy a new disposal ($100). Hey look – it’s a shiny new faucet! You know, ours has been stuck on spray for about 5 years. Time to handle that too ($100). I won’t get into the yawn-inducing details, but let’s just say that the faucet was really difficult to install. Compounded by the fact the cold water valve had an opening that was too big for the hose. Had to replace that too. Plumbing sucks, y’all. Woo hoo – a day and a half later, we’ve got it all fixed. Or so we think.

Tuesday, I started up the dishwasher as usual and left the room. Came back a bit later & wondered why the rug in front of the sink was all wet??? UGH! Turns out there was some plug that had to be punched in order for the dishwasher to drain properly. This is what happens when you only read part of the directions, folks. So, empty out under the sink AGAIN, wipe it down AGAIN, and wait for hubby to get home. He gets home and right away we have to go vote. Then we’re met by a contractor bidding a job to paint the exterior of the house (more on this in another post). I finally remember and thankfully, it was an easy fix. Didn’t even have to take the disposal out!

Also over the weekend, hubby installed a new doorbell (sounds kind of like the chimes they play when our hockey team goes on a power play – I LOVE IT!!) and he also replaced the button and switchplate at the front door. It looks SO nice! Let’s see – what else? I think that’s it for home improvement. Well, except I got motivated to paint the doors & trim inside the house (again, after 11 years). I’m really not very good at it. But, it’s still better than how it was to start with. So far I have one door done.

Oh, I’ve also decided to start a crazy diet. LOL It’s actually not THAT crazy, and not really a diet. Basically, I’m working to figure out if I have any food sensitivities. I know I’m not allergic, but apparently food affects all sorts of things such as skin issues, headaches, allergies, lethargy, etc. I eat way too much CRAP and I know it’s bad. This give me a reason to “Break Free” (name of the program) for 28 days. I guess we cut out a bunch of stuff for a while and then add the items back in individually (like gluten, dairy, soy, etc.). This starts on Monday, so I have between now and then to get my shopping done. Hubby’s not convinced he can live without cheese. He said he would do it only when with me – but he’s not getting the point of cutting the stuff out altogether. Oh well – we’ll see how it goes, and I’ll keep you posted!

(My biggest fear is living without my coffeemate and splenda!!!)

Yay for me!

May 25, 2010

Yippee! I got new dishes!

My mother-in-law asked what I wanted for my birthday (in March) and I told her that I wanted to replace a few bowls from my (hand-me-down) corelle set. Trouble is, the pattern has been discontinued probably longer than I have been alive. However, the outlet stores usually have open stock pieces that will match. She couldn’t find any over the last couple months.

She realized, perhaps with a tidbit from my sister-in-law, that I never actually picked the dishes. They came with the marriage. And since there was “service” for about 4,000, I couldn’t justify getting rid of it (plus the fact that the set had belonged to her mother, who unfortunately passed away in her early 50’s). Besides, I can’t complain about something that was free, and perfectly fine.  So she asked if I’d like to pick out a new set? OMG YES!!! The idea was to go to the outlet store about 2 hours away, but it seems the corelle store left that mall. That left one nearly 3 hours away. Well, for the money savings, that much driving didn’t seem to be worth the trouble. Off to Wal-mart, K-Mart, Kohls and any other place we could think of.

After spending a day zig zagging around the county, I settled on this set. We also picked up some open stock pieces like a square serving bowl, a round one, a few soup/pasta bowls and a funny rectangular flat dish. Oh and a couple platters too. (Note to self – must pick up more platters before fall holidays.) Why platters you ask? Because a big ass dinner plate just won’t hold all the food at special occasions! lol

We packed up the old stuff (except my cat’s breakfast saucers) and it was then that I realized she had an ulterior motive. There’s a man at her church that her daughter has befriended. Evidently, he has been divorced for many years and was laid off from is banking job some time ago. He made dinner for my sister-in-law, but didn’t have any dishes. Well, that’s an exaggeration. Dinner was for three people and he had only two plates. He ate off a pie plate. My MIL wants to give him the old set. In a way it surprises me because of the sentimental value. I’m all for it. I suppose she thought about it and realized that it won’t do anyone any good in a box in the garage – why not give it to this guy who cooks?

I’m happy to know that they’re going to a good home, and I’m really excited for my new set! Hubby doesn’t get why I’m excited, but hey, who cares?

Who me? Holy cow.

May 14, 2010

Wow! I'm blushing.


After a mere three months of writing  dabbling with this blog, I have been bestowed an award! Yep – ‘lil ole me. (I can’t believe it either!) 

Thank you Izziedarling from The Whatever Factor! (Hear the trumpets and applause in the background?) 

The rules of the award are to share seven fun facts about you, and select 15 fellow bloggers to receive the award. I hope I do these answers justice! 

Here goes: 

  1. I was born blond and blue eyed. I didn’t know that until last weekend. I wore blue contacts in school and it made my eyes emerald. Obviously fake, but dumb high school boys didn’t know that.
  2. I was a Mariner. (Most people know Sea Scouts. Mariners are the girl version.) Some brave soul took 10 teenage girls under their wing and trained us how to run a boat. We “sailed” (wasn’t a sailboat) from the SF Bay, under the Golden Gate, through Susuin Bay and up to Sacramento on a 15 foot boat. (I never once got sick – oh the joys of being a teenager.) Now I throw up from motion sickness. Rough plane rides, being on a boat – even a cruise ship, riding passenger in a car on a semi-winding road, and anything that goes in circles gets me. So – You! – don’t make me dizzy!
  3. My grandfather has stuff in the Smithsonian. When I took my first trip without family in 6th grade to Washington DC, we stopped to look at his stuff. Somehow, I doubt I will ever get anything in the Smithsonian. Oh well.
  4. I have been to no less than 10 Bluegrass Festivals. I hated every single one of them, except on Sunday morning when they would sing gospel. At that point, I had no religious influence. I just thought it all sounded pretty. I blame these festivals for my present-day hatred of steel guitar, but love of country music. Go figure.
  5. My best friend in high school and I took her dad’s yellow Pantera out one day while we cut school. We got caught with it in the driveway. She was on the hood and another friend was backing it in. We got away with it because she said we chickened out at the end of the driveway. Her dad was a Juvenile Hall officer. Little did he know – we were pretty much hellions, but nothing that bad ever happened.
  6. I would never survive off the land in Hawaii, or any place tropical. I hate pineapple, fresh mango, coconut, poi, kiwi, and just about any other tropical or non-mainstream fruit you can think of. Yes, I know poi is not a fruit. It’s still gnarly.
  7. I have snuck into the drive-in’s in the trunk of a 67 Cadillac. My boyfriend jumped the fence, and my best friend was in the trunk with me. That left her boyfriend to drive in. He looked kinda creepy, so I’m sure that’s why he didn’t get questioned. Those were the days!
  8. And in case #3 doesn’t count since it’s really not about me, I’ll do one more. We used to pile as many people into the Caddy as we could and go driving. One night, I ended up laying across the laps of our friends in the back seat, with the one closest to the rear passenger door screaming (through San Francisco) “A nickel for your pickle!” You didn’t have to be in SF in the 60’s to have some strange fun!

Now, to pass the torch. Please forgive me if you’ve already received this! In the random order that is my life: 

  1. Living Dilbert
  2. In pursuit of Marth Points
  3. A Peine For Your Thoughts
  4. Plane Janer’s Journey
  5. Bouched
  6. Motherese
  7. Seth Godin
  8. Yes I Am Bitching
  9. The Bloggess
  10. Eat, Drink & Be Merry
  11. Eat to Live, Live to Run 
  12. Healthy San Diego Living 
  13. Fix It or Deal 
  14. Live life. Addicted. 
  15. Queen of Quirky

Mom’s Day ’10

May 12, 2010

Lilly, the newest animal (and Tripper on the left)

What a wonderfully busy trip! I decided to forge North to visit family for the Mom’s day weekend. Afterall, I haven’t found a job yet, so why not?

Day one – Friday: Sunburned my arm in LA traffic. Mind-numbing drive up the I-5 Corridor. Turns out the central valley has turned against Boxer & Pelosi. After 7 hours of driving and a vigilant eye for cops, I arrive safe & sound – with no marks against my driving record. Off to the local eatery for a late dinner. I don’t make it in the door more than 4 feet and I’m recognized. He looks quite familiar, but I still have no idea who he is. I know I know him, but just no idea from where. I WILL figure it out.

Day two – Saturday: Supposed to meet an old friend for coffee. She unfortunately slept late (noon) so we decide on Monday after work, since I have a party/wake to attend.  

Day three – Sunday/Mother’s Day: Hang out with mom and then head over to see her parents. My grandmother, suffering from Alzheimer’s is fairly clear today, which is a nice treat. My grandfather STILL hasn’t accepted he needs hearing aids (after how many years??). He’s also in a lot of pain after tearing one of his toenails. He’s a diabetic, so this is especially dangerous for him. Also, he has had some unexplained swelling in one knee and ankle, so it was a fight to keep convincing him to elevate it. During the visit, I reset the digital photo frame I had got them for Christmas. This time I showed my mom what she could do to reset it. On the way home, we stopped and got me some lemon cucumber plant starts. I miss them!


Day four – Monday: my step-dad is off with a friend for a trip to Denver, so it’s just me and mom. We head to our favorite restaurant for lunch (artichoke soup and a grilled cheese with shrimp sandwich). We stop at a local goat farm and pick up some fresh goat cheese. Had it not been raining, it would have been great fun to wander with my camera. Flip flops + goat farm do not make a great combo. Next stop was my step-dad’s parents house. They are such fun!! It’s a bit saddening to compare them to my grandparents. They are both still mobile and going out and having a great time. My grandparents haven’t been mobile in some years, and never really went anywhere. At least not together. Sigh. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Stopped on the way home to pick up some super-amazing sourdough bread from a local bakery. This stuff is AMAZING. Another new discovery: Almond Butter. YUM!!

Day five – Tuesday: Attempted to leave early for the drive home. Ended up leaving at 11:30. I discovered I can make it home from Santa Cruz on a tank of gas. I took Highway 1 as far as San Luis Obispo and restrained myself from stopping more than once for photos. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the scenery was.  Car after car had Texas plates. I wonder if that’s all they rented from the Monterey area? Or maybe there was some strange field trip I wasn’t aware of… I think they were all missing their mirrors since it took them FOREVER to let me by. I’m all for enjoying the scenery, but you really should do it from the turnouts instead of at 5 mph. After 9 hours, I made it home! There was only one accident causing a 10 minute delay. Otherwise, no traffic really (besides the Texans). I’ll leave you with my favorite picture…

Near Big Sur