Monday, December 5, 2011

december cheer

Happy December!  Where did this year go?  I can't believe it's already December...seems like just yesterday we were gearing up for Fall.  Today I heard on the radio that there's only 20-some odd days left of this year and we'll be in 2012 soon.  Crazy!  

How adorable are these advent calendars?  Every year I check out the adorable holiday items at Trader Joe's and buy Advent calendars for us to go through during December.  Typically, they only sell one type of Advent calendar and lately, it's been the print on the left.  But, this year, they've decided to do 3 different prints!  I couldn't get over just how cute the polar bears are, and check out those squirrels popping out of the snow with their wide eyes, so precious!  I got our calendars a few days late this year so we'll have a few days of chocolate to catch up on, oops.  Oh well!  Nom nom nom.  Trader Joe's has some fun things this year, but I was in a rush so I didn't get a chance to check out everything thoroughly.  But there were a ton of different cookies, candies, gingerbread, chocolate, peppermint...everything holiday sounding and tasting was accounted for - yum!  I even scored a four-flavor popcorn tin featuring those same adorable polar bears ice skating and fishing.  Couldn't resist!

Are you ready for the holidays?  We started our Christmas shopping this past weekend, but I still feel horribly behind.  I've been ordering a lot of things online since we'll be spending Christmas with Matt's parents and my parents obviously live far away so it's just easier to have things shipped.  There have also been some great deals online these days, too.  Sure beats fighting the crowds at the stores sometimes.  I'm still pretty far behind and clueless about some gifts to get, which stinks because usually I'm on top of things and have ideas starting as far back as in the Fall.  I have no idea what happened to me this year.  Definitely will be brainstorming during the week.  Matt and I might brave the stores again this weekend to continue with our shopping.  We're also planning to go to Disneyland on Sunday.  I've been wanting to go during the holidays to check out the decorations and enjoy the holiday magic and festivities (same thoughts for going to the San Diego Zoo as well for Jungle Bells).  Sunday also happens to be our 5-year anniversary...can you believe it??  I sure can't!  It'll be nice to celebrate with Mickey and friends ;)

I love this time of year and the holiday season!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

happy holiday weekend!

Things have been pretty crazy busy around here, but it's been a fun-filled holiday weekend.  Too bad we have to go back to work tomorrow, boo.  At least Christmas is merely a few weeks away!  Woohoo!  

I'll have to save the other holiday-related re-capping for later, but I think this picture from Saturday night says it all.  Heehee.  Definitely lots of good and fun things to be thankful for! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

some days you just feel like a burnt bread

Do you know this feeling?  This feeling of being just like Kogepan, a cute, yet very burnt, bread.  

Things have been really crazy, and now, in the middle of it all, I'm left feeling like poor Kogepan.  I'm not really sure what happened...October was looking pretty manageable, then bam!  Insanity.  Work has been crazy busy as we've been short-staffed and seemingly endless deadlines are drowning everyone.  As my co-worker cried out yesterday evening, '..... I just want my life back ....!'  

For the past few weeks, every day's hours seem to fly by and I have no idea where the time goes.  And then, it just feels like there's never enough time for everything.  Good to be busy, not good to feel like we're just rowing around in a circle because we only have one oar.  Ha. 

Things just feel really endless right now, and it's not helping that I have a ton of stuff due on Thursday so it feels like a big weight on top of me.  I'm hoping that after that day, I can breathe a big sigh of relief.  It'd be nice to get my life back in order considering there are a lot of things coming up, too.  It's totally not helping that my hormones are out of control this week (hello, weepy emotional mess), Matt ran off to Arizona for his annual (and very unfortunate) trip, and I've been feeling super homesick lately.  Not sure why, maybe because things feel crazy and I miss that "stability" that only home can bring.  I felt so crazed for a taste of home that I made a really bare bones/cheat version of hot and sour soup tonight with random things I had lying around.  It really hit the spot in a way, but also made me more nostalgic.  Whoops.

There are some fun things to look forward to coming up, if I can survive until this weekend.  The firm's Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk in Woodland Hills is next weekend (the Hollywood Walk on Oct. 1 apparently went very well) and of all things, apparently the Woodland Hills Walk is carnival themed!  As in, carnival games and the works.  Could that be any more perfect, considering Matt's love for such games?  Rumor is that we might even have our own game booth but no official word yet.  Hopefully it won't be something like a dunk tank...  After that, my parents come to visit for USC Parents Weekend and considering the current state of things (see above), this couldn't be coming at a better time.  It'll be good to be able to catch up and spend time with everyone - as even Matt's parents are planning to come down that weekend so we can all go to California Adventure and Disneyland together, yay!  I've felt like such an absentee daughter lately ... or, well, absentee everything.  I have a few days off in November, and before you know it, it'll be Thanksgiving and Christmas!  I love that *magical* feeling of the holidays, and really, I sure could use some of that magic right now!  I'm really looking forward to getting back on the right track and feeling 'normal' again.  Even if just a little bit.  (I spent some time last weekend knitting a portion of a jumbo version of the knitted monkey pattern, and it was so fun!  Felt good to just release some stress/tension.)

But, it's one day at a time for now and I really need to keep reminding myself.  And you know, if going to USC has taught me anything, it's that you just have to keep fighting on every day, good or bad, rain or shine :)  So let's not forget it!  Here are some reminders:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

monkey madness

If you know me, you know just how much Matt loves monkeys.  Like, LOVES.  When Rebecca Danger - whose monster patterns I absolutely love as well - made the pattern for Jerry the Musical Monkey, I knew I had to have it and make him for Matt!

I've attempted to knit him up before and it's been a struggle.  First, I used a crappy set of knitting needles and it just didn't feel right.  I also seemed to have forgotten, too, that when I learned to crochet, it was also hard at first but then I got the hang of it.  Something about knitting has frustrated me every time I've tried and tried again, and as a result, I've found myself with a whole lot of started and stopped projects with no real progress.  What gives?

Last night, I took another look at Jerry and I'm determined to start and finish him this time around.  I'm never going to learn, or even get good, at knitting if I don't keep trying and practicing, right?  I even bought a skein of blue wool yarn a few weeks ago specifically for this little guy.  So far, I'm 10 rounds in and I'm liking my progress!

I really like the way knitted pieces look and feel, all those neat little stitches and with a lot of stretch.  Also, I learned that knitting uses a lot less yarn than crocheting, go figure.  

I'm using Patons Classic Wool yarn in Royal Blue on size 5 Knitpicks Options circular knitting needles.  They're part of a set I bought that's interchangeable - and lemme say, Knitpicks needles are sharp!  Not bad enough to cause injury but they do pinch after a while.  Rebecca really advocates using the magic loop method on circular needles to knit in the round rather than using double pointed needles.  I had previously used double pointed needles on another project and they drove me crazy, having to switch between them constantly and then I'd drop stitches so often - UGH.  I wasn't sure if I could figure out how to do the magic loop method but after some Youtube videos (a godsend for learning how to do crafts, lemme tell you) and experimenting, I've learned it's really easy and simply amazing!  

I have 30 more rounds of knitting in the round before I have to start messing around with increases/decreases and other things.  My Stitch 'N Bitch Knitters Handbook is also amazingly helpful.  Knitting is actually fun again...especially as I wind down from a crazy day (of which there are many these days) and in front of the TV.  Hopefully I won't any more major snags.  *knocks on wood*

This is obviously the start to Jerry's body, I'll keep you posted on his progress as I continue knitting :)  I hope to become good enough one day to crank out endless cute things and scarves, etc.  Then I can look back and laugh at how foolish I was to give up so often now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

oh-so busy...and ready for fall!

Sometimes Mondays make me a little crabby......


Actually, today wasn't so bad but it was definitely Bizarre - yes, with a capital B.  Things have been hard with our team since a lot of people are gone, thanks to surgery, maternity leave, and just plain ol' quitting.  Just a few of us are left to run the show and it's definitely been interesting.  I was anticipating a busy week and then a bit of a breather...until a pile of greens (the discovery questions I need to respond to from defense counsel comes printed on green paper) about 3 inches thick found their way into my inbox.  I took a quick glance at one of the 10+ documents and there were 229 questions alone for me to respond to in just that one document for one client.  Hmph!!  I think there are at least 1,000 questions to object and respond to for a plethora of clients and they're all due by mid-October.  Awesome.  Thanks a lot, defense counsel!  You can guess who's on my #$@! list these days.

The above photo was taken by me in the wee Saturday morning hours on Virginia Beach during our vacation to the east coast in July.  How cool is this little guy, just sitting on the sand and chilling?  That trip was hot and humid as hell, but I do miss being on vacation right about now.  

This past weekend was less busy/hectic than usual but I still have no idea where it went!  Friday was pretty bad - not only was I exhausted from the week, but Matt had a day's worth of work in San Diego - where he even commuted from LA to San Diego and back.  In the end, he was up for nearly 24 hours, yeesh.  Saturday was devoted to USC football of course and thankfully, the game was later in the day.  In the end, in the words of Dr. Bartner:  "Band...........we killed 'em!!! ............ We're 3 and 0!!!!!" 

Sunday had no plans whatsoever so we weren't quite sure what to do with ourselves.  We ended up at a card shop of sorts so Matt could buy more baseball card supplies to organize all of his cards, then we stopped by the mall since it was nearby.  It was a total zoo, but fun to just walk around a bit.  Plus Matt finally got his hands on an Angry Bird plush in a claw machine, too.  Don't know Angry Birds?  It's this amazingly addictive puzzle game where you launch angry birds (some have special abilities, too) at structures where evil pigs (who stole their eggs) are hiding out.  Sounds silly but it's totally fabulous and actually really cute.  The Angry Birds eluded us in the claw machines in Vegas (they're too round to stay put in the claw usually) but Matt managed to snag one this time around.  I never knew but his favorite bird is the bomb bird, and when we saw this guy in a store window in passing, he had to have him!:

Please excuse my awkward face, haha.  I still have patterns I found online for creating all of the Angry Birds and I'll get to them eventually.  There's just too much going on with work, studying, and crafts.  If only there were more hours in a day (and more energy to go along with it)!!

Weather has been cooling down here and it's reminding me of all the great things to look forward to with the arrival of Fall:  football; baking; wearing sweaters, hoodies, and boots; my parents' visit for USC Parents Weekend; our annual trip to Arizona; crisp cool weather; Disneyland decked out for Halloween and later, Christmas; being able to drink hot tea again without melting into a puddle; and the holidays just around the corner!!  I'm not sure where the year went per se and it's all gone so quickly as of late, but it's definitely my favorite time of year at the moment.  Gotta enjoy every moment you can!

What are you excited for this Fall?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

oh yay!

Things sure have been busy around here...hmm, I wonder why? :)  

It's football season yet again!  Oh yay!!

Edit:  I just noticed this is my 100th blog post, too.  OH YAY! :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

pillow pet love, disney style

Could they be any cuter?

(Photo taken with Instagram - love that Apple app!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

a surprise for me!

Look what I got in the mail!

Unexpectedly, I received this awesome keychain from the San Diego Zoo today.  I thought it was some more nonsense Matt bought that was being delivered but it was a package for me! :D  A few weeks ago, I donated to Yun Zi’s Wish List gift for a tree (my second time donating to the Wish List; I made a donation in Matt’s name for a marmoset snack toy a few months ago) and got not only a lovely e-mail a few weeks ago thanking me for my donation but now, I received this surprise treat!

This keychain used to be an enrichment item for a San Diego Zoo critter, and now it’s been recycled into a keychain for me!  How cool is that??  As if I wasn’t obsessed enough with the Zoo before, now I have a piece of it here with me!  I wonder what animal used my enrichment piece…there sure are a lot of scratch and gnaw marks, heehee.

I think it’s time to donate another amount in Matt’s and Daf’s names now!  Heehee.

You can donate here and wish Yun Zi a very happy birthday month! :D

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

teeny-tiny mochimochi

Have I ever told you about my love for mochimochi?  Anna is this amazingly creative knitter who makes these awesome knitted toys, her mochimochi.  I first discovered her when looking at books in Borders (RIP Borders, sigh) and I saw (and subsequently bought) her first Knitting Mochimochi book.  Then I found out about her awesome website and blog where I could purchase even more adorable patterns.  And Anna is a total sweetheart!  Between the awesome knitted monsters of Rebecca Danger and Anna's adorable Mochimochi, I knew I had to learn how to knit just so I could make some of these adorable new friends!  

Admittedly, my knitting is still in its early stages and I find that I'm just learning as I go.  But one day I hope to make all of the great patterns I've collected from all of these talented ladies.  I used to think crochet was really tough, too, and now it's a breeze, so I hope I'll be equally good at knitting before I know it!  You know how I love me some cute handmade critters.  Anna's designs are super adorable and whimsical - where else can you find patterns for all sorts of cute animals and, oh I dunno, a happy toilet?  Love them all!  (Reading her old posts about all the cute stuff in Japan makes Matt and I want to go, you know how we love us some claw machines and the prizes overseas are WAY better than the stuff we get here.)

Anna's been challenging herself to make tiny knitted items through the years and that's the theme of her newest book (pictured above) which came out yesterday!  I've been waiting for months for it to come out and was *thrilled* to see that the book even includes her pattern for tiny monkeys.  AND they're clutching tiny bananas!  How cute is that??  I was considering picking up the book at Barnes & Noble last night but decided instead to buy from Anna directly so I could get an autographed copy.  Unfortunately, she lives in NY so I wouldn't be able to make it to a book signing so this is the next best thing.  I can't wait until my book comes so I can check out the rest of the patterns and jump back into knitting!  Maybe these tiny mochimochi will be just the thing to get me going so I can soon be drowning in a sea of knitted fun! :)

(Have I mentioned lately just how much I love crafty cute things?)

never-ending weekend fun

Do you ever have one of those weeks that seem to blend right into the weekend and then blend into the new week before you know it?  Last week felt like one of those weeks!  Work was super busy during the week but it turned into no rest for the weary as there was a lot of nonstop fun during the weekend as well.

On Saturday, Matt decided it would be a great idea to hop on up to Fresno for that night's Fresno Grizzlies baseball game.   I was really tempted not to go as Fresno is three hours away, yeesh.  But it's pretty lame not to do stuff together even if it's crazy, right?  So we rented a car for the day and headed up at 1:30 p.m. for that night's game.  On the way up, we hit a snag in the plans when the 5 N halted at a dead stop because a semi carting new cars was ON FIRE on the freeway.  We could see the thick black smoke from afar and knew we were in trouble as we got closer.  Thankfully, the fire was contained fairly quickly and we were on our way soon enough although on reduced-down-to-one-lane traffic.  It was pretty crazy to drive past the mess - the front half of the truck was intact but the back half was burned from the inside out and you could see all the new cars inside.  Or, err, what was left of them.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and the game turned out to be pretty fun.  It wasn't too crowded so we got to sit in our section in peace.  At one point, they did a segment from the local ABC sports broadcast and I realized the sportscaster was one of my USC journalism classmates!  I completely forgot he worked in Fresno and it was cool to see and hear him being a pro.  I got a stuffed animal of the mascot Parker (he's a bear, obviously) to add to my mascot collection and they even had this awesome plush hat of his head/face that I bought and wore in the car on the way home, haha.  12 hours after leaving home, we made it back, definitely exhausted.  Phew!

On Sunday, we headed out to the house of my big boss for a firm BBQ/pool party at his house in Long Beach.  The whole staff was invited, as well as families and significant others.  Most of my co-workers were there and it was pretty fun.  Of course, the community is a gated community so when we pulled up, I had to give our info to the guard on duty and when she gave us the parking pass, Matt noticed that she had written 'Mr. Ho' on the pass (since he was driving).  Say what?  Ok then.  Only a few kids got in the pool and the rest of us relaxed at tables set up around the pool.  The weather was nice so it worked out, and it was nice to meet some of the spouses and significant others of some of my co-workers.  The food was typical fare (burgers, hot dogs) and some tasty bits like fresh guacamole and homemade macaroni and cheese.  Yum.

Afterwards, we headed to California Adventure/Disneyland since we were close and the weather was nice.  We first snagged a snack of mozzarella sticks and beverages at the bar in Rainforest Cafe beforehand.  The crowds weren't too bad and we got to enjoy a lot of different rides at California Adventure.  We did Silly Symphony Swings twice (which Matt had never done before even when it was the Orange Stinger), Goofy Flying School (re-done from Mulholland Madness), Golden Zephyr, Jumpin' Jellyfish, and although the Little Mermaid ride was closed at first, we happened to walk right up when it was just re-opening so we just about walked right on.  That's never happened before!  Much like my sister said, the ride has its creepy moments, like Ariel looking and dancing crazed in the 'Under the Sea' room, and the ending was somewhat abrupt as far as wrapping up the story, but some of it was cute, especially the depictions of Sebastian and the music.  I'm glad we did it but I can't say it would be worth waiting in a long line.

We zipped over to Disneyland for a short while after, so we could do Buzz Lightyear (as pictured above).  Don't you love my classic dumb-founded open-mouthed face?  Haha.  Matt was really proud of his score because he achieved it legitimately (the ride never stopped anywhere) and he hit a spot on Zorg that got him uber points.  He was really excited.  I'm just happy we got the picture this time, I don't always get it when I send it to myself, boo.  I picked up some freshly made pecan nuttles (aka pixies) when we were leaving afterwards, too.  I've been craving those things for a while but they haven't been making them!  But, mmm tasty.

I even found the Tigger pillow pet on the way out to add to my collection.  (Of course I failed to take any pics...pfft, I've been so bad about this lately.)  A few weeks before, I found the Pluto pillow pet which I had been trying to find for a while, and this week, I noticed that of the Pluto, Eeyore and Tigger pillows, only Tigger was left!  So glad I got Pluto the last time.  But I love 'em to death, they're so cute and soft, heehee.  A Jamba Juice on the way out and Taco Bell for dinner and the night (and weekend) were complete.  Exhausting! 

I still have pics to take and a post to make of my goodies from Renegade LA, and still have pics for a post about our trip to the East Coast to Virginia Beach, etc.  Super behind, I know.  Just trying to get back on my feet, I suppose, especially after all this craziness! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

cooking mama

Have you ever played the game Cooking Mama?  It's this ridiculous video game where the main character cooks up dishes and you get scores as you help to 'prep' all the ingredients and follow the recipes until you complete the dish.  It's awesomely kawaii and fobby and I turned my sister onto it not so long ago (or so it feels) and we cracked up endlessly.  Especially when we'd mess up the recipes and Cooking Mama would get upset with us and have flames in her eyes :)  Don't worry, Mama will fix it!

I've felt a bit like Cooking Mama lately, which isn't such a bad thing.  And no, no flame eyes for me - Cooking Mama would be proud of my dishes I think!  I forgot how much I've missed cooking! Here's what I've been making (some are from this weekend and some are from the past couple of weeks):

New York Times' easiest macaroni and cheese.  I read about this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and had to try it for myself!  It really was easy especially since you don't have to pre-boil the macaroni and I ate the leftovers for days.

Pepperoni pizza.  Well, obviously, this was for Matt.  I used the pizza dough from Trader Joe's as a base, then used their pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and gourmet pepperoni.  Did you know Trader Joe's sells pepperoni?  I like that they also seriously call it 'gourmet pepperoni.'  I think Matt liked the pizza a lot, he ate 5 pieces, haha.

Mini corn dogs!  I saw this recipe from The Cooking Bride and as lovers of corn dogs, I had to try it out.  It was really easy, fried up in a cinch, and they were SO good.  Crunchy and slightly sweet - totally delish.  We were happy campers that night :)

And this lovely banana bread.  As you may know, I *love* Mel's Kitchen Cafe blog since every recipe I've tried (and I've tried a LOT) is easy and turns out wonderfully delicious!  I've made this banana bread a few times and I was in a baking mood so it was a no brainer.  My bananas seemed a little small, so I ended up using 4 bananas instead of 3 as called for in the recipe.  It was as delicious as it looks.  

I also made butter chicken (or chicken tikka masala) again using this recipe for inspiration but I changed up a lot of the ingredients and the method.  Of course, I forgot to take any pictures of it in my hurry to eat the deliciousness, but trust me that it was good!  I used my food processor to really blend up the onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapenos so my sauce wouldn't be chunky.  And I usually use tomato sauce rather than diced tomatoes to make it smooth and saucy.  Perfect to use naan to sop it all up!  Also, I don't broil the chicken with yogurt beforehand, just plopped chicken chunks into the sauce and simmered away.  And to keep the sauce from being watery, I just topped with cilantro on my plate rather than mixed it all in.  

Tasty treats!  Looking forward to making some other goodies soon :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

crafty monkeys

Check out this adorable monkey print fabric I bought last weekend.  What do you I should make with it?

How about new kitchen curtains?  I sewed them on my sewing machine on Saturday night.  I bought some remnant fabric (muslin) to add as backing to each side to double up the fabric and add to the thickness.  Love the Joann's remnants section!  You can find some super finds sometimes of scraps of fabric that are all half off the original price.  The muslin worked perfect - although I took these pics at night so they're not so great (sorry), I noticed on Sunday that the combination of fabrics were light enough to let some pretty sunlight shine through still.  Adorable!  My sewing machine started acting up after I added more thread onto the bobbin so the right curtain is a little rough around the edges, but it still looks pretty good anyway!  The curtains hang from a tension rod and from curtain clips, both purchased at Target.  I sewed the curtains without a pattern, just from an idea in my head.  Not too shabby, huh?

It was super fun to be able to be crafty again and although I was rusty on the sewing machine, I was impressed I haven't forgotten the basics of how to thread the needle, etc.  I'd really love to keep a goal of working on/making a crafty thing each week.  Not a huge project, just small things...and fun.  I wonder what my next project will be?  I'm thinking it'll be something knitting related - I must practice and learn how to knit!  There are so many cute things to make :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

life back on track

Things have been unfortunately busy which has not helped the whole slew of photos I still need to upload off my camera and blog posts that still need to be written.  Food has been cooked, adorable purchases were made, and places have been visited - yet I haven't had the chance to write about any of them!  I'm planning for a big crafty weekend and staying home to relax, so hopefully updating everything at that time.  I'll also want to sew up some new curtains with adorable monkey fabric I purchased last weekend, work on some plush (hello, Angry Birds!), do a little more de-cluttering, and hopefully print out some pictures for my office and practice some knitting.  Phew!  It really stinks when there's so much you want to do and just not enough time (or energy) to do it in.  Lately I've been feeling pretty inspired, too, but I just can't find the time to get my act together.   I can't wait to get caught up on everything...and life in general. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the sweetest things

Hi again!  I really have no idea how the summer is flying by so quickly, but things sure have been busy.  In the last few weeks, we've been working, traveling to and fro, going to baseball games, a wedding, visiting family, going to San Diego (twice), watching my friend Kristen make her stand-up comic debut at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood (she killed it, by the way!  so proud of her), and trying to get enough sleep whenever we can.  Sometimes I think I can barely even keep up with myself, hmph.  I'm still trying to figure out/decide how to make my blog better and more inspired, but I've just been too tired to think straight on most days.  I miss crafting, too!  Somehow I have to find a way to fit in everything.

Anyway, here's a pic of us at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA.  It took us quite a few tries to get a good pic - we were even standing in the street at one point, yeesh.  But I love me some Jelly Bellys!  I got a better strap for my DSLR and a definite goal for the near future is to take more pics AND definitely more pics of the two of us.  I've decided that my pics are fairly boring when I'm always only taking pics of Matt, haha.

Monday, June 13, 2011

i spy a hidden mickey!

We've been busy hanging out at the SD Zoo and checking out tide pools and beaches, but I haven't had the chance to upload photos yet.  Matt's even been using his Flip camera to take some funny videos.  I'm happy he's been enjoying his birthday present.  The weather's been beautiful and we've seen some cool creatures!  I've really loved being at the beach, walking on the sand and walking along the shore with lapping waves.  Hopefully I can share some snippets soon.

I was amused to find this seemingly Hidden Mickey in the rocks of the tide pools at Corona Del Mar on Sunday.  Hidden Mickeys are everywhere!  Or so I'd like to think :)

jr mint's big 'mile'-stone

First it was...


Woohoo!  So proud of my lil jr mint!  We've been anywhere and everywhere together for these 100,000 miles and I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

stitches cakes!

And this is what became of my special ingredients.  Cute and tasty, and based on our favorite sock monkey friend! :)

(I also forgot to take a pic of Matt with Stitches and a Stitches cake, and a pic of Matt with his birthday present.  Oops.  Will need to do that in the near future.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

happy birthday, matt!

Today is Matt's birthday!  Unfortunately, there was no celebrating today since he's still up north and I'm still down south.  Boo.  However, he'll be arriving for the weekend yet again and celebrations must commence!  I've been bugging him for a week to figure out what he wants to do.  Of course, he's indecisive and not at all helpful, but for now, he says some time at the beach (and tide pools!) might be nice.  Let's hope the weather holds up!  I'd love to give my DSLR a workout outside with such beautiful scenery.  I'll have to ponder other festivities and/or a nice meal, too. 

Matt already opened his birthday gift last weekend, but I didn't get the chance to take a picture of him with it.  He loved it, so I'll say it was a success!  The ingredients above are for the surprise I'm planning to make for him tomorrow after I get off work and while he's driving down. I developed the idea solely in my head, but I hope I'll be able to execute it and that it'll be an awesome (and delicious) treat when it's done and he arrives.  I'll be documenting the process - fingers crossed! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

photoshop magic

I was drawing a real blank on what to get Matt for his upcoming birthday, but then inspiration struck me.  I needed a picture of Stitches and Lil Miss (yes, I created and sewed both of them from socks for him) so after some posing and snapping, I got this gem of a pic that I actually edited in Photoshop all on my own!  I'm far from being a pro at Photoshop and it's nothing short of a miracle that I managed to clean up this image when I had no clue what I was doing, but I'm really excited that I figured it out and it actually looks pretty good if I do say so myself.  Hopefully I'll continue to learn how to use it and be a Photoshop pro in no time.

The white space above the image was done intentionally as I needed it for my special, secret plans.  Can't ruin the surprise now so you'll just have to wait and see what it is later!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

happy mother's day

Well, Daf, Matt and I really goofed it up this year and completely failed to make arrangements to get nice things for my mom and his mom for Mother's Day.  Ugh, failures.  How lame are we??  But, of course, we are super appreciative and thankful for our moms even if we have nothing tangible or gift-like to show for it.  We hope they've both had a wonderful Mother's Day!  We enjoyed a Lakers loss (swept by the Mavericks out of the playoffs!) but an unfortunate Bulls loss (sigh).  I just got my new knitting needles and books yesterday when I hung out with Daf yesterday (WOOHOO for shopping and Souplantation) so maybe I can make something soon :)  Love you mommy!

The upcoming week looks pretty calm.  I have plans to see two of my college friends for dinner one night and USC graduation is on Friday.  Although it looks like it's shaping up that Daf and I will hang out like old times the following week for a Glee-athon and assorted misadventures and food.  YAY!   Plus, Matt's parents will be here in two weeks to visit us in LA and we'll all be going to Disneyland.  Whee!  It's nice to have things to look forward to, can't wait! :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Rose gracious in thanking others for his MVP

Many get plaudits from Bulls point guard for help, but none more so than mother

By K.C. Johnson, Tribune reporter
9:38 PM CDT, May 3, 2011

The Maurice Podoloff trophy stood in all its splendor. The new car from the award’s sponsor gleamed nearby. And everybody on stage kept gushing about Derrick Rose, who became the youngest most valuable player in NBA history on Tuesday.

For all the heights Rose routinely reaches — the acrobatic layups and breathtaking drives, the history-making performances and awards — it can be easy to overlook how grounded he is.

Rose reminded all before accepting the award, looking hilariously uncomfortable as the compliments from others piled up. And then again after rising to claim the prize, offering a heartfelt speech that belied his 22 years.

He thanked God for giving him ability. He thanked the NBA for the award. He thanked his teammates and coaching staff for pushing him to play with passion. He thanked Bulls ownership and management for signing “good guys” who “love each other.” He thanked his trainer, agency, fans and the city of Chicago.

He thanked Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen — who watched wearing his Hall of Fame blazer — for building the franchise’s foundation. And Rose also offered sincere appreciation for his friends and family, many of whom sat watching in the front row.

“You’re the ones who push me and make sure I stay on the right path, waking me up and making sure I get to practice,” Rose said. “I’m blessed to have you in my life.”

And then Rose turned to his mother, Brenda, who already dabbed at moist eyes with a tissue.

“Last but not least, I want to thank my mom, Brenda Rose,” Derrick said. “My heart, the reason I play the way I play, just everything. Just knowing the days I don’t feel right, going to practice, having a hard time, I think about her when she had to wake me up, go to work and make sure I was all right. Those were hard days. My days shouldn’t be hard because I’m doing what I’m doing and that’s playing basketball.

“You kept me going. I love you and appreciate you being in my life.”

This is the local kid made good, the youngest of four sons Brenda raised as a single mother on the South Side. This is the player who honed his craft playing pick-up at Murray Park in the Englewood neighborhood, exhibiting qualities Chicagoans appreciate like toughness and selflessness.

Starring in his hometown, Rose ran away with the voting, drawing 113 of 121 first-place votes and finishing with 1,182 points. The Magic’s Dwight Howard finished a distant second with 643 points, while the Heat’s LeBron James, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and the Thunder’s Kevin Durant rounded out the top five.

“This ranks at the top,” Rose said of an already star-studded, three-year career. “This is something you don’t dream about as a kid. When I was younger, I just thought about playing in the NBA. I didn’t think about winning Rookie of the Year or this award. This puts me over the top. It makes you think anything is possible.”

Anything probably is considering the Bulls cashed in ridiculous 1.7 percent odds in the 2008 NBA draft lottery to land Rose. Jordan won the first of his five MVPs at age 25 after all.

“I’m not even touching that man right there,” Rose said sheepishly. “I’m far away from him. It would be great to get close to him. But this is a different team and different era. We’re just trying to win the next game.”

This mindset goes a long way in explaining the success of Rose, who helped lead the Bulls to a league-best 62 victories and became the seventh player in league history to average at least 25 points, 7.5 assists and 4 rebounds. Winning, not personal achievement, is what drives him.

“Whatever Derrick’s ceiling is, he will reach because of his determination and desire,” general manager Gar Forman said. “Going into that draft, I remember our feeling was this is too good to be true. We sit here today three years later and our feeling is still: This is really too good to be true.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau felt as much when first getting to know Rose, attending his practices with Team USA that eventually won gold at last summer’s World Championships.

“After each practice, he would come and ask questions, and the type of questions he asked really impressed me,” Thibodeau said. “They weren’t only about his own individual performance but also about the team and how he could do better. Immediately, that (interest) turned to our team in Chicago. He wanted to know how people were doing and what the plan was — immediately.”

Everything about Rose’s career seems immediate, from the breathtaking speed he displays on fast breaks to his rapid ascension to join the game’s elite. He’s the first third-year player to win the award since Moses Malone in 1978-79.

“It’s amazing,” Rose said. “I’m still learning about the game, still having careless turnovers. To be MVP at 22 makes me want to push harder, stay in the gym longer. I’m blessed to be in this position.”

Rose created such lofty expectations himself, asking why he couldn’t be the MVP on the eve of training camp.

“When he makes comments like that, he usually owns up to them,” Rose’s brother, Reggie, said. “He doesn’t crack. The will and push he has is off the charts.”

Added Derrick: “I wasn’t trying to be cocky at all. I knew I put a lot of hard work in in the summer and I just wanted to push myself.”

It worked. And when the ceremony died down, Rose got smothered in family embraces, a group hug for greatness.

“It’s tough growing up where I grew up,” Rose said. “My family is very small and really tight. Just being around the neighborhood, my brothers were always around.

“I didn’t want to be in any trouble because I knew my mom or brothers would find out. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I just tried to do everything right. When I was in high school, they built a wall around me. It was all love and would pay off soon.”

As Rose spoke, Brenda stood close by, eyeing the trophy she heard her youngest son say he wanted.

“That’s his dream,” Brenda said. “Go for it. That’s what happened. He went for it. And he got it.”

Twitter @kcjhoop

Rose is Most Valuable Player… and person

by Sam Smith

It’s rare when you see Derrick Rose uncertain, hesitant, overwhelmed by the moment, when his cool, stoic exterior is rocked by emotion.

Not to say he doesn’t experience normal, human feelings. Though too often we view our sporting heroes, the Olympians of our society, through a prism of dispassionate cool and even tempered separation, that the Herculean sporting tasks they are empowered to perform raise them beyond us, to divine level.

But they bleed and they burn, as well. Many of us who are around sporting stars are asked what they really are like, what beats and stands behind that curtain of eminence.

For Derrick Rose, who Tuesday was officially named the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player, the game’s greatest individual honor, it is the foundation that made the man, albeit young, but wise in sporting accomplishment and humanity.

Rose was presented with the award late Tuesday afternoon, and in his remarks thanked, “God for giving me the ability to go out and play the way I’m playing.”

There will be a pregame presentation Wednesday before Game 2 with Atlanta.

Rose thanked his teammates, friends, the Bulls management, his trainers, representatives, the former Bulls and coaches and fans.

He talked fondly about his family, his brothers who guided and shielded him through the rough times growing up on the South Side of Chicago.

“You are the ones who pushed me every single day, made sure I was on the right path, made sure I got to practice and stayed on the right path. I’m blessed to have you in my life,” Rose said.

And then he talked about Brenda Rose, his mother.

Rose stumbled as he began to choose the words, an uncertainty we never witness in his basketball. The memories whizzed by in his head like the fast breaks he so mesmerizes the sporting world with.

“Thanks to my mom,” Rose said, stopping, trying to draw a breath, his eyes welling. “Brenda… My heart, the reason why I play the way I play… Just everything… Just knowing the days I the days I didn’t feel like going to practice…”

Rose stopped again, his mind obviously racing back and leaping from one day to another, to crisis and incident, and mom always there, always with the firm hand and kind word. When you grow up in that area without a two parent family, with the violence and poverty surrounding you, it’s not only difficult but debilitating.

But Brenda was strong when others weren’t and she worked harder and longer to provide for her family, and for the kid, Derrick. We see that loyalty and humility in Rose, but also the strength and resolve that comes from a model of stability and perseverance.

“Me having a hard time waking up, she had to go to work to make sure all of us were all right,” said Rose. “Those were hard days. My days should not be as hard.

“You,” Rose said looking into his mom’s eyes in the front row, “kept me going every day and I love you and I appreciate you in my life.”

Everything that is Derrick is Brenda, and everything that Derrick ever has goes to Brenda. Though Rose did laugh when he asked his mom, who proudly embraces the evidence of what is becoming a Hall of Fame career, to let him keep the MVP trophy for a few days before she gets it.

“I want to have the trophy a couple of days before she steals it,” Rose said with a laugh. “Give me two or three days, Mom.”

This is a big deal, and not just because of all the MVP chanting all season and this being the premier NBA award. Rose becomes the youngest ever to win it in a landslide over runner up Dwight Howard. Rose received 1,182 points and 113 first place votes to Howard’s 643 points and three first place votes. Dirk Nowitzki was second in first place votes with five. Everyone who won the award before 2000 is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and none of those since are eligible in being active or recently retired. This is an historic talent the Bulls have once again and one Chicago can embrace like never before.

Rose joins Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Larry Bird, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade among those only able to average at least 25 points, 7.5 assists and four rebounds in a season.

This is a Chicago kid. Born here, growing up here, playing here and with just a year stop at the U. of Memphis being part of the fabric of the community. He represents more about Chicago and basketball than anyone who has come before him for his roots and his dedication and current success with the Bulls. He’s handled the pressure of playing in your home town with the same confidence and self-effacement that endeared him to so many while growing up and empowered him to reach the standards he’s achieved at such a young age.

Here was a kid who in an age and era of ostentation and bombast, quietly demurred on the court with lesser personal statistics so others could get scholarships in high school, had a better chance at a pro contract in college. You serve and you sacrifice, lessons he learned watching his mom and his small, tight family.

Derrick doesn’t speak that much, never has and still doesn’t.

But he watches.

“When I was younger,” Rose said, “I only thought about playing in the NBA. I didn’t think about rookie of the year or All-Star, only playing in the NBA. This award puts me over the top. It makes you think (you can do) anything. I’m the type of guy who feeds off anything. I’m quiet. I watch a lot of things. I watch you the whole time you are around me.”

We like to develop psychological profiles of our sporting stars, our politicians, entertainers, imbue them with larger motives and ambitions.

Not to say Rose didn’t have dreams and desires like anyone else. But he is mostly a simple and pure young man dedicated to a discipline and homage.

It truly is a rare combination these days, where talent, dedication and lack of entitlement meet, where those who watch him are fortunate and those who know him are prosperous in their own personal inventory.

Of course, this award comes not for decency but basketball brilliance. And Rose has been all of that from the day in preseason he asked—not predicted—why he couldn’t be the league MVP, a moment now often looked back upon with amusement and awe.

“I was saying I wanted to be the MVP,” Rose explained, as if those of us there didn’t long know. “I wasn’t trying to be cocky. I knew I had put in a lot of hard work in the offseason. I wanted to push myself. That was it.”

Why not me? Why not now? Don’t let others decide who you are and who you should be.

No one thought that could be Rose, not with LeBron and Wade and Kobe and Durant and Howard and Dirk. Heck, Rose wasn’t even considered one of the top three point guards. But it’s a great lesson even if Rose would never pose it that way. You take what you have and apply it within your universe and why can’t you. No, all the work Rose may do won’t likely help him find a cure for cancer. But if you select a discipline and work, it doesn’t matter what they think. Only what you do.

Rose being from Chicago also understood better than others what sporting success means here.

“Coming from Chicago, Chicago has been waiting being in a drought, waiting for something to happen,” said Rose. “It feels good when you go out to hear people chant for you, hear your teammates talking he way they are treated the same. You can be me or the last person on the bench. The fans are great.”

Rose understands Chicago, the Second City mentality, the Midwestern flyover zone. He knows about seeking success, but something that always struck me about Rose was when he talks about the Bulls championships of the ’90s. Of course, he was young. He remembers some, but what he remembers more was while the games were on he was at the park playing. That is Chicago, really. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. It’s not about the celebration as much as the journey and the satisfaction of achievement.

And doing so as a group, with friends and family.

Rose was asked about being the hunted now, and he acknowledged. No matter, he said.

“I’ve got my teammates behind me,” he said. “I’m all about winning. My teammates are great. They don’t think about how many points they score. Management picked great guys who are winners. I love them.”

That is Rose as much as anyone. I’ve always also been struck not only by his eagerness to improve, but an amazing, sincere desire to help. I hear countless times from teammates and coaches how when Rose comes out of games his questions always are what he can do to get someone going more, to help someone struggling, how he can change his game to help the group.

Really, it’s what a family does, and a team, at heart, is a family. You do what you can to help your brothers and sisters because when they are happy you can be happier.

“Growing up where I grew up I stayed on the right path because of my family,” Rose reiterated. “I did not want to get in trouble with by brothers and my mom. So I made sure I did the right things.

“My family is very small, very small,” said Rose. “Being around the neighborhood, my brothers always were around. I didn’t want to be in any trouble. I knew my mom and brothers would find out. I didn’t want to hurt my mom or brothers’ feelings. When I was in high school, they built a wall around me. Knowing it was all love I knew it would pay off.”

For many players, it’s too much playing where they were raised, but Rose says he loves the pressure, if that’s what it is. Not really for him. As he always says, he’s a baller. It’s ballin’.

“I want the pressure as a player,” Rose said. “It makes you perform better playing here every night. This is where I’m from. Bringing the excitement back to the city means a lot.”

No matter the circumstances, the thrilling win or debilitating loss, I’ve rarely seen Rose any different.

It’s always about the next time, a view he shares with coach Tom Thibodeau and which has driven this overachieving Bulls team this season. If you put in the work and prepare, you have nothing to be ashamed about but to go out and compete again.

Rose agreed winning an MVP at such a young age is an honor, but only motivates him.

“Winning at 22 makes me want to push harder, work harder, stay in the gym longer,” said Rose. “I’m blessed to have an award like this now.

“It’s a learning process,” Rose said about basketball, if also life. “You go out and have some bad games and bad times, but you have to fight through it.”

It is life in most any big city, anywhere, really. You work and persevere for the good of the group.

“It’s paying off being a gym rat,” Rose said. “I just try to play the game hard and play smart. And I’m from here. It makes you feel special when you are out there. It makes you play harder.”

Derrick Rose is Chicago and Chicago is Derrick Rose. He’s regarded as the best in his chosen profession, at least for now. But the man he represents makes a winner of us all.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

aces of bases

I'm back from a weekend in Reno, NV!  No big winnings on the slot machines, unfortunately, but we did enjoy playing (and winning!) at carnival games at Circus, Circus.  Reno was definitely an interesting place.  Can't say I'm dying to go back anytime soon but I'm glad I went at least once to check it out.  I was pretty stressed out getting there on Friday because I was taking an earlier flight (which ended up being delayed anyway, figures), but I was also making a connection through Vegas so I was really worried that the delay out of LA and the lack of delay out of Vegas was going to be completely messed up - it didn't help that the flight from Vegas to Reno was the last of the night so if anything went wrong and we missed it...yikes.  Somehow, it all worked out perfectly and me and my luggage arrived just fine, phew.  Funny, too, but I be-friended a fellow traveler leaving LA who was also anxious to make it to Vegas because she was trying to catch the same connection to Reno.  As we talked more, we soon realized that in fact, not only does she work at the same company as my dear friend Kristen (who began her work at this company just a month ago), but that they actually work on the same team and just met for the first time on Wed (which also happened to be the same day I met Kristen for dinner myself to hear about said job)!  Mind you, their company has more than 300 employees, too, and she only flew to LA for a few days for training.  What are the chances? 

Of course, the weekend wasn't complete without baseball!  Reno is home of the Triple A Reno Aces, farm team to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The stadium was right in the city and was really modern/nice, but the unfortunate thing was the Sat night game was FREEZING.  Matt really liked their mascot Archie the last time he saw the team, and we actually managed to find him on the concourse (purely by accident) and got this picture with him.  Pretty cool, huh?  He big!

The Aces also have this crazy tradition that happens for the 7th inning stretch.  To sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," they inflate a HUGE baseball character that rises above the outfield wall (I think they call him "Ball on the Wall") and he actually leads the crowd in song.  Literally, his mouth moves to the lyrics!

Isn't he cute?  All in all, a good weekend.  We found out that Whiplash, a monkey "cowboy" that's been trained to ride dogs (who Matt first saw in a clip on ESPN), is coming to perform at an Aces game in the future and Matt was so sad to see that it was a Thursday night game so he wouldn't be able to go.  But after I suggested checking out his website to see where else he would be performing, Matt was thrilled to see he'd be at a Sacramento River Cats game in June on a weekend!  So I guess we'll be seeing Whiplash after all, haha.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

yummies for my tummy

It's no secret that I love Trader Joe's.  LOVE TJs.  How could you not?  But these are a few of my favorite things as of late (all new products!):

Yuzu is this delicious Asian citrus - not quite lemon, not quite orange, not quite grapefruit.  A taste all its own!  This yummy box contains 10 packets of yuzu juice mixed with honey and sugar.  Add a packet to either hot or cold water and you get a delicious citrus-y sweet beverage!  I love that it's not syrupy since it's just juice so adding water doesn't require much, if any, mixing.  And you can add as much or as little water depending on how sweet you want it to be.  (In fact, my cashier told me that she doesn't even add water at all because she loves hers super sweet!) 

Marvelous Malted Milk Ball Cookies?  Yes please!  I saw these babies on the new shelf and grabbed them immediately.  My favorite Trader Joe's has been doing a 'send a worker around with free samples' deal and while I was poking at frozen shrimp, a girl carrying around 3 tubs gave me a free sample.  YUM.  I'm a sucker for chocolate chip cookies and the addition of malted milk balls adds another bit of depth and dimension.  This is more of a crunchy cookie rather than soft, if you were curious.  Get some!

I don't have a pic of this since it's currently in the fridge, but I found Carmelized Onion Dip in the refrigerated section.  My aforementioned cashier told me she ate half the container without realizing it and only stopped because she ran out of chips!  Although she said I should reconsider my purchase (jokingly, of course), I found the dip totally delicious as a snack last night with Trader Joe's ruffled thicker cut potato chips (with sea salt).

Get some goodies today!  Your belly will thank you :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

smile, i'm thinking of you

Of course, I meant to write sooner than a week after my birthday but things have been so busy!  Work was unbelievably hectic last week so I was stressed out to the max - what a way to celebrate my birthday AND not good for my alopecia.  My scalp felt like it was on fire for a few days and hair shed was awful, ugh.  Thankfully, a nice weekend calmed me down and the work got done so it was a real relief.  

I had a nice birthday, but it wasn't all that eventful.  I spent the actual day watching my Bulls beat the Celtics and relaxed.  On Friday night, Matt, Daf, Josh and I went to dinner in Downtown Disney and then spent about an hour in Disneyland - we kicked butt on Buzz Lightyear about 3 times, haha, and then rode on Pirates of the Caribbean for the last ride of the night.  Although the cast member at City Hall wasn't the most enthused when I got my birthday pin, he did offer me 3 other pins for my fellow celebrators to commemorate celebrating with me!  I can't wait until the summer festivities start up and we'll all have more free time so we can go for longer, fuller days.  For end of the night birthday treats, Daf bought me a birthday caramel apple AND we shared a Rocky Road Dazzler from Haagen Dazs, which I've always wanted to try.  Yummy!  

Matt and I spent a quiet Saturday visiting one of his card shops and doing some light shopping at the Beverly Center.  (I wanted to check out a cute pair of ballet flats - success!)  We intended to go to Benihana's for dinner, but time got away from us and it got too late so we ended up having Taco Bell instead.  Oops.  Hopefully we'll get to go soon, I've been craving me some Benihana yumminess.  On Sunday, we enjoyed part of the Bulls vs. Magic game (yet another Bulls victory), went to Lake Elsinore for a baseball game, and after getting Portillo's for dinner, came back to watch the Lakers vs. Thunder game (a lovely LOSS for the Lakers).  Awesome day.

I had received some lovely cards and goodies for my birthday, but I wanted to take pics to share.  I've been so busy at home that I haven't had the chance to go and do that yet.  Today we actually had the April babies birthday cake at work and it turned out to be a fairly delicious white cake with whipped cream and strawberries.  Bummer that I got an end piece though so I didn't have as many strawberries that I would've liked, oops, but it was still tasty anyway.  You know that Seinfeld episode where Elaine's work has a million cakes for every celebration?  Yeah, we're kinda like that.  I was beginning to have cake withdrawals from us not having anything to celebrate lately.  

Anyway, I meant to share these pictures wayyy long ago but of course, that was when I was side-tracked thanks to feeling down and out.  So I'll share them now!  Since I was pretty bummed back then, one day I came home from work and found this card in my mailbox:

Matt's so silly.  But it still made me smile and cheered me up, especially because the card came in a package that included Melon O's...Mmm...I had said that Melon O's were my favorite (besides Peachie O's, of course) so Matt had to send me some when he found them!  It was nice to know that even if/when we're apart, he was still thinking about me and trying to cheer me up :)

Easter is just around the corner and we're actually getting Good Friday off this year so I can't wait for a long weekend.  Things are still busy but not as terribly crazy as they were last week, so I'm thankful for that.  I love all things Easter - the decor, the candy, the cuteness.  PEEPS, Cadbury mini eggs, and Matt's favorite Cadbury creme eggs.  Matt and I kept our tradition of making each other Easter baskets every year - check them out:

How cute are these, right?  Walgreens has the best Easter stuff sometimes, I swear.  Are you ready for Easter, too?  If not, you better hop to it (sorry for the pun)!

This weekend will be busy, but I'll see about getting another post up soon with the birthday stuff.  I've still been working on my knitting here and there, but I hope to get on a better schedule with the crafty things soon.  After I get home from work, settle in and cook/eat, it's always late before I know it.  Where does the time go?  I have no idea.  But I better find out so I can keep crafting and posting! :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

hello again

It's been more than a month since I last wrote, and it really sucks that I've been gone so long so I promise not to do that again, ok?  Things have not gone as planned, or even as I would've thought, since the Bar was over.  I had such big dreams, looking forward to all the things that I could do again--crafts, cleaning, reading, relaxing...But then a whole slew of bad news happened both during and right after the Bar, and on top of it all, I've been battling through a bout of sudden alopecia!  I've never experienced this before, and dealing with the rapid hair loss and confusion has been pretty scary.  Even though it's not life threatening at all, it's still been hard on my self esteem to deal and understand how or why this is happening to me and hoping to recover soon.  Thankfully, my bloodwork came back mostly normal, so it's definitely nothing serious.  However, it sucks to know that most likely, the extreme stress, lack of sleep, and bad nutrition over the past few months have contributed to my sudden and extreme hair loss.  There's really nothing to prepare you for watching your hair shed continuously and so suddenly.  As much as you don't want to stress more about it, you still can't help it.  Alopecia's a jerk that way.  You don't know how much hair you're going to lose, whether you'll go bald, whether you'll re-grow hair, or whether it'll happen again (and how many times again) months, years down the line.

For now, I'm trying to stay positive.  Although I can obviously tell how much hair I've lost and I notice how thin it all is when I look in the mirror, for now, people can't really tell I don't think.  I have some wigs on hand just in case and shedding had lessened this week--less stress or maybe there's less hair on my head to shed, haha, I'm not sure.  Well, until work got super swamped and I've been a little overwhelmed since yesterday, so now my scalp feels like it's on fire again and I've shed more than I'd like today.  This definitely proves to me that the hair loss is related to my stress levels.  Now I need to relax!  

But, I have enjoyed doing more cooking and trying to eat healthier during the past few weeks.  I've been making a lot of tasty meals and trying to eat lots of fruits and veggies, so my tummy is definitely happy.  I've learned that what's important is not to sweat the small stuff and just enjoy life!  It was totally not worth it to get caught up in a lot of that dumb stuff before if I knew it could cause my body to shut down like this.  Realizing this has made me a lot happier and I try to keep this mindset day in, day out.  I'm hoping (and hopeful) that once my body balances itself out, my hair will start growing back and I'll be back to normal.  Even now, I see little growths of hair here and there, although not consistently yet and definitely not all over.  Lesson learned that we all really need to take better care of ourselves, ok? 

There are some fun things to look forward to, including the fact that tomorrow is actually my birthday!  I've been so busy and caught up in things that I almost forgot, can you believe, haha.  I'm looking forward to a relaxing night--my Chicago Bulls are taking on the Boston Celtics at the United Center so I'm looking forward to watching that game on TNT.  Most of my nights lately have been spent watching basketball games (it's almost playoff time!) and just lying around watching Nick at Nite.  Love it!  I've also been practicing and teaching myself more how to knit--the other night, I finally taught myself the magic loop method in knitting and I am IN LOVE.  It makes everything so much easier.  I have so many awesome patterns that I can't wait to work through.  Right now, I'm working on a knitted monkey pattern from the fabulous Rebecca Danger of  I have a bunch of her knitted monsters patterns that I can't wait to tackle, too!  I miss being crafty and I miss Etsy, but I hope knitting will tide me over for now and help me unwind every night.  Hopefully I'll be back to my old self before I know it and I can get my Etsy shop going again in a few months.  That's the plan for now.  But I just want to fill my life full of knitted monsters and friends at this point!  I'll document my progress and share it with you as I go along :)

As for any other birthday celebrations, Matt will return this weekend so we'll figure something out to do.  There was some talk about dropping by Disneyland on Friday night with Josh and Daf for dinner and hanging out, so that might happen.  I like my birthday celebrations really low key so I'm not wanting or expecting anything big.  The following weekend, we'll be going to an art show that Matt's mom is in, and Easter weekend, I'm dying for a trip to San Diego to see our San Diego Zoo friends!  There have been a bunch of babies born in the recent weeks, including a baby girl giraffe and two baby boy tiger cubs, that I'd like to see.  The Zoo is also celebrating Play Days during the month of April, where there are a lot of animal interactions and fun things happening.  Matt and I both happen to have Good Friday off, so it'd be a great weekend to get away.  Especially when the next 2 weeks or so are super busy at work.  Fun stuff!

My tummy is rumbly now so it means it's time for food!  But it feels good to be back in the blog world...definitely more fun and happy blog posts to come in the near future :)  There are just too many adventures out there to be had!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 february bar

Hey, remember me?  Yeah, I'm back!  It's been one hell of a week, unfortunately not without its drama and emotional rollercoaster.  

The exam was yuck, and judging from my friends' feelings, they felt the same way about it, too.  No one ever knows how they did, even afterward, because you just feel yucky about it and it's impossible to know what they were looking for or if you even did anything right.  There are a lot less people that take the exam in February which makes the environment a lot less crowded and everyone is just more relaxed, probably because the majority of us have taken it before.  It's a very 'jeez, why are we here again, ugh' attitude, haha.  The trip out to the convention center was smooth and this year, I was smart enough to buy enough food for the few days so I didn't go hungry and could relax in my hotel room every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It was really cold in the convention center, though, and with the lack of sleep (you just get so paranoid about oversleeping), stress, and exhaustion, by the time I got back to my hotel room after the afternoon session of the third day, I felt horribly achey, dizzy, feverish and chilly at the same time.  Horrible!!  Although I was booked to checkout the next day, I had planned to just go home that night anyway (I wanted a place to keep my stuff so I didn't have to rush to pack before the last day and leave my stuff in my car the entire day, bleh), but I felt so terrible that it took me a while before I felt well enough to gather my stuff and go home.  Sadly, Matt was even flying in on Friday and I felt so sick and awful...I couldn't believe taking this test took that much out of me!  I was more afraid that I caught something bad, like the flu, since I felt achey all over, as if 50 lb weights were tied to each of the muscles all over my body, and there was just weird tinging running up and down my spine and into the top of my head.  I was cold but then falling asleep made me feel hot.  It was so painful to move around or even sit still, and everything seemed so cloudy.  I did rely on Tylenol for a few doses, since I was afraid I was getting a fever and it also helped relieve some of the aches.  I'm so relieved at least that this happened after the exam was over (even if it was ridiculous that it happened immediately afterward) and that it was also the weekend so I could try to sleep it off.

We ended up doing absolutely nothing this weekend and it really felt good for once.  I slept a whole bunch and finally, I feel somewhat back to my normal self.  I still have a bit of some nose congestion and my throat is just a little scratchy, but I hope to be back in shape within the next few days!  At least I feel I can function tomorrow for my first day of work after being away for 2 weeks.  I left with a million things due during the next 2 weeks and I'm praying that nothing major happened while I was gone, because I don't know what I'm going to do if there are disasters to clean up.  Trying not to think about that...

The week has also been hard because there have just been so many passings.  At the beginning of the exam, a friend of mine (who was also taking the Bar) found out that his grandma passed away.  On Tuesday, Matt's beloved cat Noogie, who he's had since his first day of high school, was put to sleep because he's been suffering from so many different health problems.  And the day after the exam was over, while I was in ill and crazed state, I found out that my grandpa had passed away as well.  Definitely a hard week for everyone :(  

The week has been so busy that I haven't taken as many photos as I would've liked.  And actually, I've been struggling a lot lately to come up with interesting photos to take to 'represent' my day in this 2011 year.  I had intended at the beginning of the year to do a photo a day so I would keep up with blogging but I think some days have become stale as I've had to force myself to come up with an idea of something to post.  Blogging for so many days already has made me really enjoy blogging in general and I think, in light of missing a week of posts, rather than catch up, I think I'm going to scrap the idea of continuing to force myself to come up with specific ideas for daily posts and focus instead on posts that are on a more creative level and more fun.  That would be more fun and interesting for all of us, don't you think?  So for now, I guess I'm scrapping my 2011 photo yearbook project and I'm just going to develop my creative and fun blogging side and keep blogging as much as I can to share the fun things that are going on with my life.

I did take some funny pictures from my Bar exam experience.  Matt was so kind to use his hotel points to book me a hotel and because of how often he has to book hotels for work (one of the ONLY perks about his job), he has platinum status and often gets to upgrade to a suite.  So I got to live in style and for free while taking this exam, same as I did last July.  Lucky me!  The front desk woman got really confused when I checked in and referred to Matt as my 'husband,' but whatever, at least I got the room even though it was in his name without any problems.  Check out my digs for those few days:

It was nice to have a lot of room, not that I really needed it.  (Yeah, do you also like my stuffed animals who came on the trip, too?  Haha...I needed the company and for it to feel like 'home.')  Too bad I can't transfer that extra room to my current apartment, haha.  We could really use that extra space here.  But I was glad I planned better this year so I had an easier time packing and transporting things to/from.  It's probably not a good thing that I'm becoming an old pro at this, though.  

I also took a funny picture of my Ziploc bag for the exam.  I learned last year just how strict the proctors are about making sure that you put everything into a (stupid) plastic bag, including your wallet.  The list of items you can bring to the exam is really strict and everyone has to look like a total fool carrying a plastic baggie full of all his/her belongings to and from the convention center every day.  That's how you can spot all the exam takers - I mean, really, it's not hard to notice someone tightly clutching something as ridiculous as this everywhere s/he goes:

My last picture is actually one I borrowed from Matt's mom of precious Noogie.  It's one of our favorite pictures of him - he just looks so handsome and distinguished in it, and it was a photo that was used on many of Matt's birthday cakes, complete with a party hat, too.  She posted this picture of him on Facebook the day of his passing and it made me really sad, and Matt even sadder of course.  I guess since he was fine at Christmas, I just assumed I'd still see him this year so I never thought anything of it that he was getting older.  But he's had a steady decline lately with a tumor in his head growing bigger every day behind his eye, causing it to swell and the side of his face to bulge, among other mouth and teeth infections :(  Matt got to say bye to him last weekend, but it's still hard to imagine that I won't see him there anymore.  It's going to be really weird.  Even though we all know it's for the best so he doesn't suffer, it was still hard.  But he did live a great and long life with a family and a little boy turned man who loved him very much so I guess that's what's most important.  Rest in peace little Noogie, the best kitty ever.