Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fried Potatoes

Smell is a powerful memory stimulator. This morning I was making fried potatoes (to eat with our eggs) and the smell of the potatoes frying reminded me of my freshman year and particularly of my friend, Mary Merna. She and I would fry potatoes all the time - good food, good times.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Serious Business

Ryan and I decorated our tree again this year, sans Audrey. It is one of my favorite things to do with Ryan because he gets so crazy about it. He has a certain way that trees must be decorated and any deviation from said way, is unthinkable. So of course, I enjoy putting the "balls" (which he says use of the word "balls" instead of "ornaments" should automatically disqualify me from being able to put them up this year) in the wrong spots (big on top, small on the bottom, same colors close together, etc.) just to watch him go crazy about it when he finds them misplaced.

Usually, I move a ball or two into the wrong spot several times throughout the season just to watch Ryan notice them and call out "Oh No! This is all wrong! Amber, did you move this ornament here? It's a good thing I saw this to fix it." or something along those lines. Let the merriment begin.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


There is something special about homemade things. My sister William made me a couple of coffee mugs that I love and each morning I think about how her perfectly polished little hands formed the handle to be so comfy. We also have a couple of beautiful afgans on our couches from my grandmas. Other than those few exceptions, I think our house is store bought. This is unfortunate, because homemade things have a way of bringing the people you love into your home.

When I was a child, my mom used to ask us to make her something for Christmas, Bday, Mother's Day, etc. I always thought she was a little on the crazy side - nobody wants homemade presents, they are just plain embarrassing. Now I firmly agree with my mom. So, this year, I decided to try to make a gift or two for Christmas. I am not going to say who the "lucky" recipients are (other than Audrey, because I think they read this blog) but it has been (still is) a lot of fun to make their presents. I also want Audrey to know how great homemade presents are, so I am making a scarf for her.

Long story short, if you get a slightly tacky cross-stitch from me in the mail, hang it with pride and please know it was made with love.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Holiday Decorating

I enjoy decorating for the holidays, but only to a certain point. I like a few cute chachkies that are holiday appropriate, but too many feels cluttered. So this year I was surprised to realize that, aside from the tree, my entire holiday decorating took only 30 minutes to complete. I am listing them for my own personal benefit to know what to do next year without having to spend an hour rifling through the boxes to make sure I didn't miss anything (kind of a checklist for the future).

Things I did this year:
-put up our 2 advent calendars (felt trees with mini ornaments) one in the entry and one above the fireplace in the library
-three stockings on the fireplace mantel
-the "Ho Ho Ho" candles that William gave me last year on the right side of the fireplace
-the nutcrackers and the nutcracker book on the left side of the mantel
-the candy dish on the ledge in the kitchen
-the evergreen candle in front of the silver plate in the library
-evergreen garland around the stair rails with a red bow on the end of the banisters
-snowflake candle in entry bathroom with snowflake hand-towels
-got out the Christmas mugs in the cupboard - for hot cocoa
-the fudge container on the book shelf
-wreath on the front door

Things I would like to eventually add to my decorating list:
-Nice wreath over fireplace (I almost bought an actual pine wreath at costco yesterday - but my frugal sensibilities kept me from it)
-Replace 2 advent calendars with one that we actually really love
-Holiday bedding for my bedroom - flannel holiday sheets (or just a solid red or green) and a holiday quilt and pillow shams
-Holiday rug for the entry
-Wreaths for back doors

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sugar-Free Update

I did really well for the first few days (M,T,W) - and I felt really great. Then Thanksgiving came and I had one piece of Pumpkin Pie with whip cream - not too bad. But i repeated that the next day and the next and followed that with some homemade goodies that my sister G and I made while she was here - fudge and sugar cookies. So I fell off the sugar-free wagon and by the end of my days I was feeling lousy again. So I am recommitting.

The key to my success (on the 3 days I was successful) was to eat small healthy snacks often. I never went without food for longer than 3 hours. I ate cottage cheese, string cheese, yogurt, grapefruit, oatmeal with flax, bananas, apples, green beans, frozen veggies, etc. If I have those things on hand and in mind, I can avoid my (disarmingly strong) urge to eat a sweet treat.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I am so excited. I am going to attend my first Jane Austen Society meeting next Saturday in DC. I haven't officially joined the Society yet, as I figured I should attend a meeting first and see if it is really my cup of tea or not. It is a luncheon at the Embassy Suites and the speaker's topic is titled: "A Rushing Stream: Reading Beyond Austen". To be honest, I am a little skeptical about how much I will like this topic. I am also a little nervous that I will be the most under-read of all the Janeites there. I mean I have read all of her works at one point, and some of them many times over, but to be honest, I haven't read any Austen since the summer. What if everyone else reads her much more frequently and think I am a bit of poser.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Sunday afternoon I had an epiphany. I realized I am addicted to sugar. I use it as a substitute for anything and everything (sleep, medicine, entertainment, etc.). This is not a recent phenomenon for me, back in college my secret cure-all to any ailment was brownies. Subconsciously, I still believe there is nothing a delicious brownie or k.a. cookie can't cure.

Back to Sunday - that afternoon and evening I had a stomach ache. Not a doubled-over-throwing -up-kind-of-stomach-ache, just a dull,-everything-is-not-right-sort-of-stomach-ache. In fact, I realized I have those quite often, so I decided to try an experiment. I have cut out all superfluous sugar. No sugar in my coffee or oatmeal, etc. I am not going extreme, I am planning on having a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and I am still eating things that traditionally hide a little sugar - like bread and spaghetti sauce. I just want to see if I really need all the sugar I eat, or if I just eat it because my blood sugar is spiking up and down. I am also hoping my stomach just overall feels better at the end of the experiment.

The good news is I have been eating less sugar the last two days and while I am dead-dog-tired right now, I haven't felt too bad otherwise.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Book Club

Ryan and I used to have a book club. It was co-ed and made up mainly of co-workers and former roommates. We got together roughly once a month and we alternated between fiction and non-fiction. We rotated who picked the book and hosted the meeting/led the discussion. I actually really miss those book club days.

These are the books we read (in no particular order): Sea Biscuit, Life of Pi, Atonement, The Tipping Point, His Excellency, Into the Wild, Middlesex, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Treasure Trove, You Shall Know Our Velocity!, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Looking for Class and Bluebeard.

Clearly, we read a wide variety of books.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I consider myself a Janeite (lover of all things Jane Austen). My first introduction to Jane Austen was in the movie Clueless (which is an adaptation of Emma). While I loved Clueless, my real conversion did not happen until after I graduated college. (I read Pride and Prejudice one summer during college. I really liked it, but didn't bother to rent any movie versions or read any of her other works. )

Shortly after I got married I was looking for good reading material. We took the metro to and from work everyday and because we lived so close to the metro, we took it quite often for other things as well - so I had lots of good time to read. One auspicious morning I grabbed my old paperback version of P&P to reread on the train. This time I fell in love!! I was actually irritated when the metro ride went off without a hitch because I got less reading time. When I finished it, I read Emma. Within a few months, I read them all, including her unfinished ones. I watched all the movie versions of her books that I could find and I now own almost all of them. (Of course, P&P with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is standard by which all others are measured.)

So now, I am setting my sites a little higher - I really want to go to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath (England). I would love to go with a group of friends who love Jane Austen too. So let me know if you are game.

In the meantime, here is a fun little puzzle for fellow Janeites to enjoy:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Healthy Breakfast

As I posted earlier, I have become a real fan of Irish oats. Well, I just found a way to make them even healthier and add a bit of a nutty flavor to them - flax seed meal. I just added a couple of tablespoons of flax seed meal to my Irish oats this morning with my brown sugar and it was delicious. Plus, because flax seed is so healthy (fiber, omegas and lignans) it felt good to eat and helped me stay full a little longer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A bit down

Lately, I have been feeling a bit down. Strangely, it took me a while to realize it. I noticed that I was lethargic and that recently I haven't come up with any of my usual "good ideas" or wanted to work on any of my "fun projects." I thought maybe I was bored, but then I realized I didn't want to do nothing (except rest) because I was bored, but rather because I am just plain exhausted. I haven't had a good nights sleep in a very long time.

So I am renewing my resolve to take better care of me with going to bed early, eating healthy and doing a little exercise too. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be back to my perky self again.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Life 101

I was the oldest kid in my family, so I kind of had to learn the ropes on my own (and with the help of good friends with older siblings). I tried to pass on a little bit about how life (meaning higher education, getting a job, managing a career, etc.) actually works to my little sister William. To be honest, though, she has a native sense about how to jump through hoops and work a system to her advantage that I just don't have.

I see my other younger sisters really struggling to figure out basic life decisions and it troubles me. One of them seemed to be on her way to graduation (though ever so slowly), until she met her now husband, and then quickly abandoned the education ship altogether. Another just moved to Boston just to get the hell out of dodge - which I can appreciate - but she has no real ambitions towards getting her degree either. Thankfully one sister, F, has some good friends who are all in school and keeping her on track a little bit more.

Even so, I am worried about her job prospects. She is currently working as a waitress to put herself through school. I am very proud of her for working so hard and going it on her own, but I really want her to graduate with a chance to get a real job that she will enjoy when she is finished. I am hoping to steer her towards doing either an internship or a study abroad in her field of study so that she will have some relevant experience and possibly a few good references too.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bright Idea

Throughout the entire house, almost all of the fixtures, hinges, doorknobs, etc. are brass. Annoying, but not worth fixing - except in the bathrooms where the rest of the fixtures - towel racks, tp holders, faucets, etc. - are all silver-toned. I actually liked the light fixture the builders put in for the powder room, so I decided to just paint it silver and reinstall it. Pretty and Frugal!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Powder Room Update

Recently we had our one-year drywall fix. The powder room, which was previously painted a dark grey, needed a lot of touch-ups. I was nearly out of paint, so I decided since I had to buy some more paint anyway, that I might as well go two-toned.

I really like the effect, it brightened the space, but still kept a little of the drama that the dark color added.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Irish Oats

I think food can be one of the finer things in life. I love finding a new food, trying a new recipe or rediscovering a forgotten favorite.

So when I saw a show about Irish Oats (also known as Scottish Oats and Steel Cut Oats), I had to try them. Sure enough, these delicious oats are my new favorite breakfast food. They are slow cooking - it takes 30 minutes to boil them to a delicious creamy yet chewy consistency. In fact, they are so good that I hardly put any brown sugar on them at all.

It took me a while to find them, but the search was worth it. For anyone else interested in trying them, Trader Joe's has the best price and selection.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fall Decorating

I decorated my mantel for fall. I bought three bags of candy corn and filled two matching clear cylinder vases with the candy corn creating three distinct layers (and putting my favorite type - Indian corn - out of my reach). Then I put them on either side of a maple leaf berry swag and added a few mini squash and mini pumpkin scattered in front of the swag. Originally Audrey helped by adding Farmer Bob in with the squash and pumpkins, but he has been MIA for a while now, so I couldn't get a picture of that. I also put the pumpkins for us to carve on the hearth, though the little one has been mistaken for a ball, so it usually sits on the bookshelf.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Northern Exposure

I realized the other day that I missed almost all TV that occurred during my high-school and college years. In high-school I was too busy and in college we didn't have TV. The exception was 'Friends'. I started late on that one, but then when my other roomies and I were hooked, we would go to friends' houses for "Friends" parties or we would go on campus and watch it in some of the auditorium style classrooms.

Anyway, I have decided to catch up on some of those via Netflix. Northern Exposure was one that came to mind, so I watched the first two episodes this week. It was pretty good. And what makes it even better is, there are no commercials and no timing issues. The only bad thing is that watching Northern Exposure makes me want to move to Alaska, it is just so beautiful.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Holiday Planning

Flylady has this thing called the Holiday Cruise, where you are supposed to pretend you are going on a cruise for the first 3 weeks in December and must therefore have all of your holiday stuff done before then.

I decided to give an organized holiday a shot, so today I filled in the list of gifts to purchase from her online control journal. Which gave me a chance to think about what I actually want to get for people. I looked online for some prices and because I am ordering so early, I will be able to do slow boat shipping and still get everything in time. I am really excited about this.

In another part of the holiday control journal you list traditions that your family does and the dates that you will do them this year along with any preparations that need to happen for those traditions. It is really quite brilliant and so much fun to be getting into the holiday spirit in October.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bring It On Marathon

I just recently realized that they came out with a part 2 to the fabulous "Bring It On" cheerleading movie. So I casually mentioned to Ryan that I was thinking about putting them both on our list to get at the same time so that I could have a "Bring It On" Marathon. For some reason, he was both amused and horrified by my good idea.

Law School

Ryan just started an LSAT study course this week. It made the whole thing seem suddenly real and sort of scary to think of being student poor again and to think that we could be living almost any where at this time next year. To be honest, I really like our house. It is just a townhouse, but it is pretty big and we bought it directly from the builder, so we got to pick out little things like the kitchen cabinets, floors and counters. Plus we have painted so many rooms and Audrey's room looks fabulous! It is the perfect little girl room. So in many ways, I hope Ryan ends up going to a local school.

The $50 challenge

Well, aside from the occasional (read: weekly) eating out, we are doing pretty well on our challenge. In fact, it no longer really feels so much like a challenge at all. I am not implying that I just buy lots of snacky things at the grocery store, but it is safe to say that since I am planning our meals and snacks a little more carefully which results in us eating better food consistently, the challenge seems like a much better lifestyle choice.

Monday, September 18, 2006


So this past week was a little less frugal. I went over my $50/week goal by $5. Those fresh apples at the farmers market were so tempting that I couldn't resist.

It is actually a bit ironic that this is the week that I went over for the first time. In the past couple of weeks, I have needed to buy big things that were a substantial portion of my allotment (like chicken breasts that were $13/bag). In order to do that, I was making sure I was not buying anything except the things on my list. Last week there was nothing big to buy, so I decided to stock up on some pantry things that I am low on, like some canned goods, etc. I guess my stocking up really added up.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Proclivity for productivity

I recently read an article about how most people are happier when they are productive. And that some people actually find productive hobbies and such to be relaxing.

I thought to myself, that is definitely me. I am productive to a fault!

Then last night after a nice and productive day, I lied down on the couch and just vegged for 2 hours, watching Dancing with the Stars and Justice. To be honest, I didn't feel an ounce like being productive, I was very happy to just do nothing. So perhaps I am not as inclined to be productive as I like to pretend.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Frugalling along

So far the $50/week challenge for groceries has gone really well. (We still end up eating out at least once a week and I am not counting that in the $50.)

I have found that there are two main tricks to eating well on $50. The first is to plan a menu. This actually isn't that hard so far. I am just writing my ideas for meals directly on the calendar in the pantry. Some people spend a day doing this, I just do it whenever I happen to think of something. For example, I was talking to someone about salmon recently and thought how much I would like to eat some, so the next time I was at the pantry, I filled in a salmon day for a weekend dinner because salmon seems kind of fancy to me. So far I am basically ahead by a week or so which has made grocery shopping pretty easy. I also add any missing ingredients to make the meal onto my shopping list right when I write the meal on the calendar, so I won't forget.

The second key is to buy only one big item a week. Today I bought some frozen Alaskan salmon fillets at Costco. Last week, I bought a large bag of frozen chicken breasts.

Tomorrow, I am going to go to the farmer's market to see if I can finally get some decent produce - yum.

To tell the truth, I think we are eating better on $50/week than we did before.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

French Bread

Yesterday I tried making baguettes for the first time. It was actually quite simple and I skipped the whole kneading by hand for 6-10 minutes step in favor of my dough hook on my mixer, which made the whole thing about as simple as you can get.

The best part was, it turned out absolutely delicious and my house smelled great!! Plus the part that I don't like about French Bread is the too crusty crust, so I just didn't do the browning step at 450 and just went straight to baking. It was great, still a little crusty, but not rock solid and the bread itself was a little more dense than normal French Bread, but that was perfect for dipping in our lentil soup last night - yum, yum!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Good Eats

I like this dorky show on the Food Network called Good Eats. The guy who runs the show likes to bring out the basic science behind food preparation - which is why I like it. He also explains the best way to use various kitchen tools and why they are used in the way that they are - which is another thing I like about it.

One idea of his that I really liked was his spice cabinet. He has little tins attached to the inside of the cabinet doors with the names of the herbs and spices written on the front. So I decided to create my own version. I found some little tins at the container store and bought some magnets and then I glued them together and viola I have a new spice system on the side of my fridge - which is pretty handy because my stove/oven is just two feet away.

My new spice system is pretty good, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. First, I only bought seven containers and I have more than seven types of spices. I decided to only put sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.) into the new spice containers and that works pretty well, but I am still a few tins short. Second, the tins are 4 oz big. That is pretty big for spices. So I am on the lookout for smaller tins in the future.

I love being able to see my spices without hunting through the cabinet.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Jersey Tomatoes

I was at a bridal shower in Baltimore, MD last weekend and someone there was from NJ and had brought some fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes were very tasty and everyone there kept raving about the NJ tomatoes.

Apparently I live on the moon because I had no idea NJ was famous for tomatoes.

In all seriousness, I have been thinking about produce a lot lately anyway - mainly because we just don't have anywhere near us to get any decent produce. How is this possible to live in a suburb of the nations capitol and have such terrible food in the grocery store. I even tried to go to a local farmers market. Apparently they just don't bother to have it there anymore because the commuter lot (where it was held) was empty when I arrived at 10 am. What does a girl have to do to get some good food around here.

Next weekend, I think I am going to try Eastern Market.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Last night I felt the urge to write in a good old fashioned journal. The only problem is, I don't have one anymore. Luckily (because I am so frugal and they were on sale for back-to-school) I had recently stocked up on spiral notebooks, so I grabbed a new spiral and started to write about my day. It was a busy but ordinary day, yet somehow, all of the ordinary moments seemed to be a little more special when I took the time to write about them. I think there is something magical about recording your life - it seems to make you feel more alive.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gilby Baby

My favorite basketball player is Gilbert Arenas - or Gilby Baby as he affectionately known in our house. He is cute, well-mannered, well-spoken and a darn good basketball player. Plus he is humble. I get really annoyed by the egos and the entourages of some of the sports personalities.

So you can only imagine how mad I was for him, when he didn't make the American Team for the world championship. That was such a dumb move, Gilby is so cute and nice, everyone loves to watch him play. And when he smiles - forget about it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Frugal Fanny

A friend of mine a couple of years ago said that his wife budgeted $50/week for groceries and she never went over that. At the time I was thoroughly impressed and wondered if that was even possible (though to be honest, they consistently ate much better than we did, she was a SAHM and cooked all of their meals and we were DINKs who ate out quite a bit - $50/meal was not uncommon).

So in an effort to be prove my frugality, I have decided to take up the challenge and try that myself. I have done it for the last two weeks without a problem (except for when we went out to eat on Friday night). However, I have my freezer and pantry pretty well stocked from less frugal days. The real challenge will be to see if I actually will be able to buy my refills from costco within that budget.

In order to accomplish this, I pulled out a separate wallet to keep the grocery money in and I am only going to deal in cash - $50/week. So far, the only trick is to actually plan our meals and make them. When I actually do plan a menu, we eat so much better, so this may actually be better eats for less money.

If anyone else is feeling up for a challenge, try $50/week for food and let me know how it goes.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Old Friends

Ryan and I went over to his best friend's new house last weekend for dinner. It was lovely to see them and three children (all girls). Audrey loved playing with new people and new toys. It was an interesting dynamic, the boys ended up playing with/watching the children while the women got to tour the new house and chat about future decorating plans, etc. - lots of fun. Hopefully I will be able to get together with his wife to do some fun projects soon, especially if the husbands continue this nice trend.


Lately I have been thinking about what sort of hobbies I have and which ones I would like to have and which hobbies I pretend to have.

I pretend I am a scrapbooker because I would really like to be one. I think I could also say that my house is a hobby of mine because I enjoy coming up with little projects to improve/decorate it.

I used to love to go dancing. Maybe I should take that up again. A tap class would be fun. I also used to love outdoors things like camping, but again, I haven't done that for years, and it really seems like more trouble than it is worth to go camping with a one year old.

I love to read, especially good fiction - Jane Austen is a favorite. I used to like to travel, but now I hate flying more than I like to see new places, so until I own a jet, that one is out.

I used to love to crochet, maybe I will take that up again.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mommy Moment

Last night at 3:30 am, I had what can only be described as a "mommy moment". I had just fed little Audrey and was taking her back to her bed. Usually she is groggy and has her eyes closed and I just hurry as fast as I can so that I can set her down before she falls all the way asleep. Last night however, she was just looking at me. As our eyes met, I looked into her big blues and started to smile and I whispered, "I love you sweet girl" and she just smiled back at me gently (not her usual fill-her-whole-face-up-smile) as if she knew that already. It was just a tender moment. So I did what any first-time sleep deprived parent would do, I savored it. This time instead of putting her right to bed, I walked around with her and rocked her as we just smiled at each other. It was a fabulous moment (and actually fabulous seems a little weak as a descriptor).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Seeing Clearly

While we were out in Utah for Bud's wedding, my glasses were broken by a friend's children. As glasses are a big pain to replace and fairly expensive I was quite bummed. When I told Ryan about the incident I mentioned that I was tired of having to worry about glasses and I was ready to consider surgery. He was so excited. He has been trying to talk me into considering surgery forever and I just have been too afraid to even think about it.

So I started to read up on what actually happens when you get eye surgery. And I started to get nauseated. I am not kidding just reading about the surgery made me queasy. Now I have a new approach, I am just going to read up on the best doctors and then get an exam to see if I am even a candidate. If I am, then I will read up on the surgery.

I must say, it would be really nice to see clearly without glasses, I just don't know if it would be nice enough to get surgery.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bergdorf Blonds: book review

Sadly I am reviewing chick lit on my blog. Perhaps even more sadly, I am reading chick lit. And saddest of all, I enjoyed this book immensely.

It took me a while (probably 30 pages) to get into the characters and their non-frugal ways (which I found annoying - don't even bother with the shopaholic series if you are frugal like me) but in the end, I thought the characters were well developed and I really liked the twist at the end.

So if you are looking for a light and easy read, dig right in.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pink Painting Fiasco

While William was in town, she and I did all kinds of fun house projects. And if we are going to be completely honest, William really did the lion's share of most of them.

One of these projects was to paint the entire main living level. We started with the living room. We painted it green - it looked great. So we moved on to the library - which we also painted green. That was another success story. So aimed with new found color picking confidence, I went bold and picked pink for my kitchen/dining room. We painted that (which was by far the hardest of the three rooms because of the sheer volume of trim work) - and it just didn't look right.

The pink looked rather nice in the dining room portion of the room. I have black furniture in there and it was a really nice contrast. However, in the kitchen portion, it made the cherry cabinets look orange. Orange just doesn't go so well with pink and wasn't what I was hoping for at all. The think that made me decide to repaint however, was the effect the pink room had on the other rooms on the floor. The whole floor is open and with the pink in the middle it made the whole floor look like a cute little girl room in lovely pastels. The strange part about that was that the green on its own was a deep and muted green that didn't look pastelly at all.

I will never be a professional painter, but I certainly learned something. One wrong color can change the whole feel of the house.

We just finished repainting the kitchen today. We painted it beige. Which actually turned out quite nice and my green rooms are back to looking elegant and not little kiddish.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Awkward Moments

I was just thinking of some of my most awkward moments.

One that comes to mind took place at the second law firm that I worked at in DC. I had been there about a month and I was starting to get to know the staff by name. So in an effort to be friendly (and also not forget names too quickly) I said hello to the fellow delivering the mail.

Me: Hey Robert, How's it going? (in a very cheery voice).

Dwight: I'm Dwight! Robert died two weeks ago. (In a very scolding and disgusted way).

Me: Oh. (long awkward pause - I mean really how do you recover from that) Bye (in a much less, cheery and wishing I was invisible voice).

Sunday, July 02, 2006


One of my favorite Sunday activities for as long as I have been able to push furniture - has been to rearrange my room - and now with a whole house - to rearrange the house.

Growing up, every Sunday they would give you a program for Sacrament Meeting. I quickly realized that the programs had a great number of uses - from origami, to drawing, to tic-tac-toe. My favorite use was to make a floorplan of my bedroom and then try to fill in the furniture in a new and appealing way. Since I shared a room with my sister, William, she was of course my PIC (partner in crime) in these useful Sunday endeavors.

Well, the habit was so enjoyable and so cemented, that I still wake up on Sunday mornings wanting to do a little something different in my house. I now try to channel that energy into various projects, like sweeping the garage or putting up towel racks, etc. But it is the same drive. I now have two PICs - Ryan and William. Unfortunately, Ryan does not share the same rearranging drive and William is far away, so I can only benefit from her assistance via phone these days.

At William's wise suggestion, I have started a list of house projects that I eventually want to do. I am hoping to get lots of assistance when she comes to visit. Maybe I should start an "improve the room" fund in the meantime.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What's in a name?

In an attempt to be frugal, I shop at a very obscure grocery store that is dirt cheap and that we affectionately refer to as "the used food store". So as you can imagine, such a store is located in a rather run down part of town in a strip-mall with a few other obscure shops.

Well, yesterday as I was going there, one of the shops, "Campos Furniture" had printed up a huge banner of a sign that was hung on the side of big box-truck parked in the parking lot.

The sign read:


Remodiling Sale

Our name says it all

There were two fabulously funny things about this sign. The first is that they misspelled "remodiling" on a huge printed banner (if you could see the area it is in, you would also appreciate the humor in them remodeling at all). And second, that the store's slogan is: our name says it all. Now maybe I am ignorant to the deeper meaning of the words "Campos Furniture" but to me, that name does not really say a whole lot, let alone, say it all.

Birthday Presents

I think I was 4 or 5 when my mom asked me if there was something special I wanted for my birthday that year. In fact there was. I had been eyeing the Mac'n Cheese sleeping bag offered on the back of specially marked boxes for sometime. My mom double and triple checked that a Mac'n Cheese sleeping bag was what I really wanted. She made sure that I knew that if she ordered it, that I couldn't change my mind and get a toy later on, etc. But I was positive - I really wanted that Mac'n Cheese sleeping bag. The sleeping bag looked just like the blue box with orange food on it.

She ordered it and I had to wait for the longest 6-8 weeks of my life in anticipation of its arrival. It finally came and I slept in it immediately and for the next few days, I would not sleep anywhere except in my new sleeping bag on the floor of my room. I remember some adult - probably my mom - commenting on how thin and flimsy it was, but to me it was heaven. I was sleeping inside a giant box of Kraft Mac'n Cheese. :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Indigo Girls

The Indigo Girls are my favorite band. Now while my husband finds that as a convienient reason to tease me about having been a lesbian in a past life, I really just love their lyrics and their music. Oftentimes I disagree with some of their more political songs, but I still love their music because it feels very real and sometimes very raw.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Social Awkwardness

Ryan's Grandma died over the weekend. She was very old and had a great life. So we are headed out to the funeral this week.

I have only been to a couple of funerals in my life so far. The most recent was my grandfather's about 8 years ago. I felt a little uncomfortable at the funeral - which I think is normal. I must admit to feeling v. uncomfortable about this upcoming funeral - for more formal reasons. At my own grandfather's funeral any faux paus that I may have made in funeral ettiquete would have been dismissed as a grandchild greiving. At this one, I am hoping I don't just say something terribly strange or imprudent.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

All or nothing

Life seems to be an all or nothing sort of game. You can be going along fine, maybe even feeling that life is a little monotonous and then all of a sudden, every big event in your life happens at once or everything that can go wrong does.

This week it has been the case of things going wrong. The weekend started off with Audrey having a fever, so we had to cancel our trip to Charlottesville to attend Ryan's bff's law school graduation dinner party. Then right as Audrey is feeling better, I lose my wallet, and her fever turns into a cold on the day the new babysitter started. Everyone knows when you are sick, you just want your mommy. Then Ryan's car has a flat tire and today it just plain won't start at all, so I had to drive him in to work at the last minute and then I am driving all the way to Baltimore and back to go to my BIL's medical school graduation and dinner party. Mind you, I still don't have a license and/or any money to even fill the car with gas and Audrey still has a cold. And to top it all off, we seem to have a leaking toilet that is pooling water in our master bath.

To be honest, at this point, it has become funny.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Nanny

I have a new person working for me as Audrey's babysitter.

She is a home-schooled teenager, who can come over in the mornings. It seems to be working out pretty well so far. She is really nice and Audrey likes her a lot.

Plus I find that I am a little more comfortable bossing around people younger than me. So when Audrey takes a nap, I have no problem assigning little projects to her. I am hoping that having a helper on projects, is going to help me get some of the ever-present projects (like putting stuff up on free-cycle) moving along.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The bathroom project

All of my interior decorating for the whole house has started (and apparently stalled) with the entry bathroom.

We painted it a lovely light grey, replaced the towel rod with a towel ring, added some frameless glass-covered rose pictures and viola - we have a pretty bathroom.

I would still like to add a small white floor rug, paint the light fixture silver and put a couple of single flower vases on the main wall to put roses in.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I was decluttering a couple of "treasure boxes" that I keep. Turns out most of my "treasures" were actually trash. Shells that I can't remember what beach I picked them up on, keychains saved for some strange reason, broken pieces of cheap jewelry, etc. Why in the world have I kept all of this stuff for so long?

Saturday, May 13, 2006


We just got back from a family vacation with my husband's family to Williamsburg, VA. It was actually a lot of fun. We went to Colonial Williamsburg for one day, the guys went golfing and the girls went shopping in the morning of another day, then we all just hung out and relaxed for the afternoon and on the last day we went to Busch Gardens all day and in the evening R and I took a lovely stroll around the market area of Colonial Williamsburg. And of course, we ate at really good restaurants every evening for dinner. And I think a good dinner really makes for a good vacation.

We absolutely loved the area. It was beautiful. I really liked Colonial Williamsburg. The revolutionary war period is my favorite part of American history, so I really enjoyed being in a restored city and seeing all of the houses and the little shops and hearing all the stories and such.

On our stroll we walked around the William and Mary campus. I am really hoping that R decides to go to law school there.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Working from home takes a lot of self-discipline. I remember working at an office - (at some jobs) it was easy to putz around for a day (chatting with co-workers, volunteering to pick up lunch, and then afternoon snacks, checking my email, signing up for electronic bill-pay, etc.) if I wasn't feeling so great. It just doesn't work the same way anymore. When I check my personal email, it is now on my dime. Even so, the positives of working from home, especially when I have a little one, far out weigh the negatives. However, I definitely cannot do it without a babysitter. If you thought co-workers were a distraction, a cute little girl sitting on your feet, smiling and babbling, is just plain irresistible.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tough to be the mom

I must admit, I may be a little bit of a softy as a mom. But I really can't just let her cry herself to sleep like all the books say.

Don't get me wrong, I will let her blow off a little steam if she is just overly tired or just being fussy. But when she really crys, I always go in and try to comfort her. It just breaks my heart to hear her crying for real. The times that I am trying to be tough, I will go and sit outside her doorway and cry right along with her. Finally it feels like my heart will break and I go on in and try again. I'll feed her, rock her, sing to her and just cuddle and kiss her. Sometimes, I think I am being selfish for just wanting to treasure as much of her babyhood as I possibly can. But is there really such a thing as too much cuddling and kissing for babies?

Friday, March 31, 2006

A rose by any other name.

I have been surprised by how buying a brand-new house has made me even more excited about home improvement projects. I think with our old house, there was just so much work to do to even start to make it look fabulous that it just felt daunting.

My current dream to-do list is:
-Paint color in every room (and I would love to paint the inside of the closets a complementary color, just for the fun of it).
-Put in a patio in the backyard
-Create an edible garden (veggies for the summer)
-Create a rose garden (to put on my table)
-Install the garage door opener and make our garage into a usable space (for both the car and other stuff)
-Put in a storage door (we have a lot of dead space behind a couple of walls that I would love to take advantage of)

This weekend we are going to start some home improvement projects. My husband, R, agreed to painting the bathroom (we are starting small, but it is still a start). I am hoping to do a lovely shade of warm grey. It has hardwood floors and white fixtures, and 4 frameless glass pictures of roses, so I think that will work well. Maybe I will take a before and after picture.

We also have a couple of people coming over to give us an estimate on how much it will cost to install a garage door opener and put a small door in the wall to access some space for storage. If the price is right, we can have that going soon too I hope.

A project I am really excited about is my rose garden. I bought 5 rose bushes - all different shades, and i want to plant them this weekend. In Provo, we lived in a little house right across the street from the BYU arboretum. The arboretum had lots of lovely little paths through the plants, but my favorite place was the roses circle. They had so many types and I loved to walk through there and just smell them. I also fondly remember going to see a beautiful rose garden in Switzerland when I was a teenager. So when I saw rose bushes on sale at aldi for really cheap I couldn't resist the chance to create my own little rose garden - in the hope that I will be able to cut flowers for my table regularly.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A New Addiction

When C&C came out over Christmas, I had no idea they would introduce me to a new addiction. I am a not-so-closet Sudoku Addict.

In fact, I own 3 different Sudoku books and whenever I am watching TV or just experiencing a little down time, I indulge myself. I have even come up with a number of very good justifications for why I should do sudoku every day - maybe even spend hours doing it every day.

-It is a great brain stimulation and no one wants alzhimers disease
-It is a social sport - I can still carry on a conversation whilst enjoying sudoku (R may disagree with this one)

That is all I have come up with so far. I did however, come across the greatest thing yet - samurai Sudoku. It is 5 intertwined sudoku puzzles - could it get any better? Well apparently it does! There is killer butterfly samurai sudoku - I haven't tried that one... yet.

(see to try out some great free puzzles)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Domestic Help

Today was the first day with a nanny - whose name, ironically enough is Nana. She is going to be coming over every morning for 2 hours. It was really nice. She basically just read to Audrey and played with her and fed her some food. Audrey really likes her - she always smiles for her and goes right to her.

I must admit, it is a little awkward to have someone else here working for me. I don't know how to set the whole thing up. For example, as I was going upstairs to my office, I realized I had not given her a tour of our house or showed her where I would be working or where Audrey's room was, so I did that quickly before I started to work. I think there will definitely be an adjustment period for us to figure things out.

Nana has agreed to help by doing some light cleaning if/when Audrey sleeps. However, I don't even know what to tell her to do. Flylady suggests everyone keep a control journal to keep the house running smoothly, so I think I will try to use that. In the meantime, today I noticed that Nana had organized Audrey's bookshelf - so she may just find little things to do on her own anyway.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


So I am finally, after 4 seasons, starting to watch 24. And last night they had a 2 hour 24. During which 40% or some other extremely large number of people working at CTU were killed by nerve gas. The premise that CTU only found out about it with 2 minutes until it was released and sent everyone running out of the building and only was able to seal off 3 rooms in the whole building, and so anyone in the building not in those 3 rooms died, was just crazy.

I used to work at DARPA - a rather small DoD agency. I knew within 10 minutes of starting exactly where each safe room in the building was. In fact, they gave me a card to attach to my badge that listed emergency procedures and safe rooms for each floor of both buildings. I also knew that each safe room had enough hoods and masks as well as other emergency supplies to protect each person in the building. None of these rooms was more than 30 seconds away from me at any given moment and at a panic run, I am sure that I could have found one very quickly.

A few jobs before that, I worked at a law firm in DC. Not exactly the sort of place known for high security measures. Even so, each employee was fitted with a mask - that we were given to keep at our desks - for any sort of emergency.

My point is, I appreciate non-realistic shows as much as the next person (Gilmore Girls is my favorite show), but this was a little too far fetched even for me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I consider myself to be quite frugal. My husband, R, does not yet see it that way. In fact, whenever I do something particularly spendy, he makes me repeat after him the phrase, "I am not frugal". My friend Charlie calls it "Spaving" - spending to save.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Finding my Inner Interior Decorator

Ikea is my happy place. So many rooms with all kinds of neat organizing and decorating ideas and gadgets, good food and soft serve at the end of it all. It is just a fun and exciting place.

So when my sister E was here, I was thrilled to go and wander around. I saw several things that would look great in my home, but I didn't buy them. Why? Because I couldn't decide if that was the best look, or if that was the direction I really wanted to go in that room, etc. Later on, I was reading an article on finding your inner interior decorator and realized that I have "IDA" - Interior Decorating Anxiety.

The article said that if your walls are still white, and more or less bare because you can't decide what color to paint, pictures to buy/put up, etc. - then you are probably suffering from IDA. I was reading all about me. The article suggested starting small and not trying to conquer the whole house at once. Since I have recently decided to start working from home seriously, I am going to start by decorating our home office.

R and I decided to allocate a small amount of money to the project. My plan is to paint, do some sort of window treatment, get some shelves - and put them up on the wall, get a printer (not a decorating thing, just a home office thing), and if there is any money for it, some sort of comfy chair/love seat. I think I basically need 3 zones - a crafty zone, a computer/work zone and a household files/office supplies zone.

First things first - I agreed to get the paper piles and clutter cleaned up/filed/shredded before I would paint. So I guess I better get going on that - yikes, no wonder I have IDA.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thai Chi

I *love* Thai food, so I thought I would give Tai Chi a try too. Turns out they really don't have much in common.

But, I just found a new thing on our cable - we have free on-demand movies - including (and this is the new-to-me part) free fitness programs. So I thought I would mix things up a bit and try some Tai Chi.

I really liked it and was surprised at how good it felt and also at how difficult it was to do. I think the difficulty came mainly from the fact that it is really fluid, so I had a hard time with hand and foot placement. This was not at all helped by the low-budget nature of the show. The camera would be showing someone's face while the instructor was explaining hand or foot placement.

My uncle David actually does Tai Chi religiously every morning - outside. As a kid, I kind of thought it was weird to see our guest outside early in the morning waving his arms about slowly while moving back and forth on his feet. However, his fluidity made an impression and I tried to find that myself today - rather unsuccessfully.

The instructor talked about how certain exercises and stretches were good for various organs and muscles, so apparently it is a very healthy thing to do. I am going to do some more research on this. In the mean time, it is a nice bit of variety in my exercising.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My Sweet Hearts

Having a baby has added a new dimension of joy and depth to my life. I now have two sweet hearts!

We are all standing underneath one of my all time favorite prints - Ecstasy by Maxfield Parrish. While it does not make for a great photo, it does remind me of moments of ecstasy in my own life. And many of those moments are found when I am with these two people.

To see this print go to

Monday, February 13, 2006

Life in fast-forward

Some days seem to go by as slow as molasses and others go by at the speed of light. Today was an interesting time warp all in and of itself. Today, I did the taxes for the investment club that I am in with some girlfriends. That was a huge task that feels like it was monumental to complete. It turned out to be more of a mole-hill than a mountain, but even so, it was looming large for the past month.

Then Ryan got a new job. Yep.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Don't Eat Pete

My sister Elena is engaged! I haven't met the fellow yet, but he seems like a nice enough guy.

The crazy thing is they have only known each other and been dating for a few months. Don't worry though, they aren't rushing things, the wedding isn't until June 30th. Craziness.

I happened to mention that it all seemed to be happening rather fast to her. Her response was, "when you know - you know". I guess that is true. And who am I to doubt that she knows. It just worries me because she has always been a bit of a serial monogamist. She has a serious boyfriend within one week after she is broken up with the previous guy. I just don't want the rose colored glasses to come off too late. Don't get me wrong, I don't think Pete is a bad guy or that there is anything wrong with him at all. In fact, I am quite sure I will like him tremendously. I just don't want Elena to find out a few months or years too late that they aren't really as compatible as she thought. I mean the first few months of every relationship is really just the honeymoon phase.

Having already stated my concerns to her though, I am just going to keep my mouth shut from here on out and hope for the best. Lots of happy couples know right away when they find each other.

We used to play this game as a family called (strangely enough), "Don't Eat Pete". It was a laminated piece of paper with 9 squares on it. Each square had a different face. One member of the family would step out of the room and the rest of the family would decide which face was "Pete". The person who had left the room would return to find a game board with nine m&ms over the nine faces. They would pick up and eat each of the m&ms one at a time, until they started to take the m&m over the designated "Pete". And this was the fun part - we would all yell "Don't Eat Pete!" And their turn would be over, regardless of how many m&ms they got.

It looks like Elena has finished her turn tasting m&ms and has found her "Pete" - literally.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


A little while back, i.e., early January, I found an interesting website - (link is located on the sidebar). It is dedicated to helping people gain control of their lives and homes - in small doable increments. Since it is free, I figured I would try it for a little while.

Since joining, my house has been getting cleaner and more organized little by little. The laundry is never piled up, because I do 1 load everyday, our bed is always made and my kitchen is mostly clean. I love it!

I really love some of her philosophies. She says "you can do anything for 15 minutes"; "you are not behind, just jump in where you are"; your home did not get messy in a day, it won't get clean in a day; and my personal favorite, you can't organize clutter, you have to get rid of it.

I think the most powerful thing she teaches is the power of routines. I had read that children crave routines. Order really helps them to thrive. But I never figured that would be the same way for adults, but I have found that trying to stick with a couple of routines has really made my life easier. I have a morning routine, a before bed routine and Audrey's bedtime routine. And I try to follow flylady's days of the week schedule too. I try to plan my menu for the next week on Wednesdays, right after I clean out the fridge to see what we still have and what we need. Then after making my list while I am making a menu, I go grocery shopping on Thursdays. Now I don't find myself needing to make more than one trip a week to the grocery store and we are starting to have really fun food - last night we had beer-battered onion rings and burgers -yum! I guess a little organization and a few good routines, really go a long way towards improving one's quality of life.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Money Matters Book Club

I grew up more or less lower middle-class. And I think, like the majority of people, I grew up with more fear towards money than actual understanding of it.

That however is no excuse for poor money management as an adult. After I graduated, I started to see that I needed some money education. So I started to read lots of personal finance books. I have learned a lot from them, but I think I need to reread some of them and find some new books to read.

So I am starting my own personal "money matters book club". Where at least once a month I am going to read various personal finance and money books. My goal is to continue to change my attitude towards money into a positive and healthy one and in the process glean some wisdom that will help me to better manage what I do have. I am also hoping for a little motivation - I love to read success stories, and I guess I am hoping to become a success story one day.

I am going to start with one of my favorites: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Jill of Many Trades

I have had a few jobs in my day. In fact, when I was filling out my application for security clearance a couple of years ago, I was amazed by how many crazy jobs I have taken. Here are a few greatest hits:

Grossest: Fish gutter at a cannery in Alaska. I was regularly covered, including all over my face, with fish guts, blood and viscera - yum!

First: Dr. Elridge's Plant Pathology lab at the University of Utah. I was 14 and they gave us a stipend to work in a science lab for the summer. That was my first experience working let alone working in a lab setting and it was a lot of fun. I got to grind samples with liquid nitrogen and prep them for the mass spectometer. I made test tubes out of tubes of glass, who knew glass was so easy to melt. I measured specimens in the green house and out in the field. It really was a fabulous job.

Fast Food: Hot Diggity Dog - no I am not making this up. My friend Emily knew the owner and so several of my friends and I worked there for a few months in high school. It didn't last long - the job nor the joint.

Most boring: There were several contestants for this one, but the winner was my second job. I worked at my dad's company doing assorted office tasks. Most of the time this amounted to shredding old tax documents - for days on end. They would literally send me into a room with a large shredder and an office or two filled with boxes of docs to be shredded. There was really no way to make this interesting. To add insult to injury, the shredder was so loud that I almost always walked away with a headache.

Janitorial: Unfortunately there are several contestants for this one too. But the winner is the bathroom crew at 5 AM in the law building at BYU. Because it was a team effort, it was actually a lot of fun, despite the fact that we were cleaning 7 floors of bathrooms at the crack of dawn. I got to meet and work with a fabulous lady named Ingrid. She was a hoot. She would do *anything* for candy.

Telecenter: Sadly, also several choices to pick from in this illustrious category - so I will pick two. The first is the Holiday Inn call center. It wasn't too bad, just a little crazy. The training was a full week to answer the phones and they were really intense about it. This was my summer job before I headed off to Alaska. The second was called Allied Marketing in Provo, UT. Now that was a funny place. It was almost all students, but the supervisors really took their power over us very seriously. I did the midnight shift and that was never easy. Plus it was the first time I learned what it was like to IM with a bunch of people you were sitting in the same room with. That took a little adjusting to - why not just turn around and talk? The gasoline drive-off calls were the most fun. I worked at an internet start-up company in Silicon Valley right as the boom started to go bust. Lucky for me it was a summer job, that company went under. But they had the best employee perks ever. We had a pool table, a couple of work out rooms with weight benches, etc., a video game room with huge comfy chairs, and the best part - a well stocked kitchen courtesy of the company, including catered lunch for everyone - everyday.

Sales: I tried to sell those Cutco knives. Unfortunately, I am a terrible sales person and I was my only customer.

Weapons: I worked as a contractor for the US Navy selling Undersea Weapons to foreign countries - my main focus was Japan. Honestly it sounds much more hardcore to say you are an "arms dealer" than it really was. It was actually very administrative in nature, there is a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through for both countries.

Retail: This is a tough call, Eddie Bauer and Pier One Imports - I spent most of the money I made at both places, and I enjoyed them pretty much the same too.

Teaching: Anatomy 260. I got to teach the lab portion on the cadavers. That was a lot of fun. When I taught muscles, I came with some beef jerky and started chewing on it shortly before we started looking at the real thing. I probably got a bigger kick out of this than my students.

Most disturbing: Toxicology lab. My best friend Mary and I were working on a test of Vie Haka on lab mice. We had to cut open the euthenized pregnant mice. That job made me switch my major from zoo to botany. Botany labs were a lot more fun to work in. We also did fungal tests, counted box elder bugs, counted trees on a particular stretch of the canyon, etc. Science is just fun.

Favorite: DARPA. I got to read through all kinds of cutting-edge technology. And I am just nerdy enough and curious enough to love that sort of stuff.

Current: I am doing patent work on a very part-time basis. It too is very interesting and I think I will love it more as I keep going.

My own Word of Wisdom

As a Mormon, I felt that the Word of Wisdom was a good idea. I liked the idea that God had given a guide to healthy living. As an ex-Mormon, I still think it is important to live a healthy lifestyle, especially with food.

Some of the things I would like to incorporate into my own personal Healthy Life Guide from the original Word of Wisdom are:

1. Grains - "All grain is good for the food of man" DC 89:16. Whole grains especially just feel good when you eat them. I love a bowl of brown rice cereal in the morning or a sandwhich on a hearty bread.
2. Fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs, especially those in season - "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these things to be used with prudence and thanksgiving." DC 89:11. I have wanted to have my own garden for a long time. I really love good fresh fruit and veggies. And having fresh herbs makes all the difference. Maybe I should start with an herb garden.
3. Moderation - I cannot find an exact scripture for this one, but I know from countless Sunday school lessons that this is one of the primary ideas behind the WoW. I actually think this one needs a more prominent role in my own life. I.e., it is all good and well to eat healthy delicious foods, but if you eat too much of them, it is still not healthy.


Epicurus said, "Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship."

This year I will turn 30 - 30! I am still a little amazed by that myself.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Suddenly Strangers - book review

Suddenly Strangers, Brad and Chris Morin, 2004

I know you are traditionally supposed to wait until you finish a book to post a review, but I wanted to say how much I am enjoying this book right now.

Synopsis: This book is written by two brothers who were born and raised Mormon and left later in their adults lives. It is more or less (from what I have read so far) just their personal experiences in leaving. The brothers were very happy in their faith and in their families prior to leaving.

The good: I like this book because I can relate. I know everyone has their own personal religious experiences regardless of what religion you are, but in many ways, there are some common threads that happen to most people when they are making a transition. I also like the title, I think it is a great description of the way it feels to lose the religion you were born and raised in.

The bad: I think this is a niche market book. For people who know nothing about Mormons, they will probably be bored quite quickly. Also, so far, they are going to great lengths to tell just how great their family lives were - maybe a bit of overkill. The formatting is a little awkward - it is really 2 stories in one book.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A natural "foody"

I like to consider myself a "foody." I appreciate good food more than most and will go to great lengths to get it. After our Christmas trips to NYC, I can't stop talking about the great food, the restaurants, the desserts... you get the idea.

Today I fed little Audrey her first solid food. And she **loved** it. Before I even had the first spoonful to her mouth she was kicking her legs in excitement, eyes and mouth wide open in anticipation and arms out stretched to grab the spoon and the food herself. After her first taste of rice cereal, she paused for a moment gave me a look to let me know she was deciding how she felt about the whole experience and then looked up at me and gave me a huge smile and started licking her lips for more.

By the end, both of our hands were covered in cereal - as was her face, but she was thrilled. I thought about my own favorite meals, Del Frisco's in New York or my own ginger-soy sauce over wild Pacific salmon. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I guess good food can elicit that sort of response at any age.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Missing my mom

My parents divorced when I was six and when I was eight my dad and step-mom took full custody of us three kids. So I have not lived with my mom full-time since then. It used to be a big scene every time I left her, where I would cry as I boarded the plane, etc. When I was twelve, a not-so-sensitive stewardess asked me why I was crying and when I told her she asked, "aren't you a little bit old to be crying over missing your mom?"

I was always a very independent kid and I reckoned she was right. I decided to be "tough." From that point on I never missed my mom, or really anyone else for that matter (just as a matter of principle) - I was being a grown-up.

So imagine my surprise, when the moment my little girl was born, feeling this overwhelming sense of "I miss my mommy." I can't explain it, but there it is. I have never missed my mom so much as I have this past six months. It is completely disarming. I am 29 years old and a mom myself, but I often just feel like I want to run to my own mom and have her hold me and make me something warm and good to eat. I just want to follow her around the house while she does whatever she is doing and have her tell me stories and just chat.

I guess my twelve-year old assumption, that being grown up meant not missing your mom, was completely wrong. Perhaps being "grown-up" means you can acknowledge the loss you feel when the people you love the most are not part of your daily life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"What I know for sure"

Oprah does a column in her magazine with the title, "What I know for sure". I recently came across a compilation of her best of. It was interesting to read and it got me thinking, what do I know for sure?

When I was a Mormon, the list of what i knew for sure was much longer, and it was for the most part the same things that all Mormons "know for sure" - and we called that a testimony. More on this topic later...

Now however, what I know for sure is much more - well, me and simple. (Incidentally, I think it is a healthy exercise for all people to really completely change their paradigms at some point in their lives.) Back to what I know, well, it isn't much. But I know that love exists and is eveywhere around us. I know that the people who truly do love you, will love you even if you no longer believe the same things that they do - so it is best to be true to yourself. I know that life is too short and the time we have with the various people we love is fleeting. People grow up, move, change, etc., so we must treasure the moments with the loved ones in our life while we have them. I know that loving and living life to its fullest is the surest way to show our gratitude for it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mi Casa es su casa

My "happy place" is in Mexico. I dream that I am able to afford one of the beautiful little casa's right on the beach at paradise of the sea, I have dreamed of buying a casa there for a while now. Ryan thinks I am a little crazy because I talk about it all the time, as if it is a foregone conclusion that we will inevitably own a casa there and soon. It may be a little crazy, but that is what dreams are for.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


A - my 5 1/2 month old little girl - just cut her first tooth! You still can't see the tooth, but you can feel it. I must say, I am going to miss her adorable gummy smile.


Hi, I'm Madame. My friend MB gave me that nickname back in college. It was the first nickname that ever really stuck, so I am sticking with it here.

In this blog I plan to share my thoughts, musings and adventures. I fancy myself to be a good deal more interesting than I probably am, but then, don't we all. Your comments are always welcome.