Thursday, November 4, 2010

Goal completed!

It took me until December 31 in the late afternoon, but I was able to complete my goal of reading a book for each letter of the alphabet in 2010. I'm glad that I did this as it allowed me the opportunity to read some books that, while I did intend to read them eventually, were very thought-provoking and interesting.

Here's my list of books I've read this past year from A to Z. If you check out my Good Reads profile ( ) you can see how I rated them and if I wrote a review. In total I read 73 books in 2010 - most were really good, and some I absolutely loved.

A ~ Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

B ~ Burning the map by Laura Caldwell

C ~ Certain girls by Jennifer Weiner

D ~ The dirt on clean: an unsanitized history by Katherine Ashenburg

E ~ An embarrassment of mangoes: a Caribbean interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

F ~ The Frugal Gourmet keeps the feast: past, present & future by Jeff Smith

G ~ Grace under pressure: Grey's Anatomy uncovered by Hillary Robson

H ~ The host by Stephenie Meyer

I ~ Insatiable: tales from a life of delicious excess by Gael Greene

J ~ The joy of doing things badly: a girl's guide to love, life & foolish bravery by Veronica Chambers

K ~ Kings of Madison Avenue: the unofficial guide to Mad Men by Jesse McLean

L ~ Love and other impossible pursuits by Ayelet Waldman

M ~ The mermaids singing by Lisa Carey

N ~ The next thing on my list by Jill Smolinski

O ~ Orange is the new black: my year in a women's prison by Piper Kerman

P ~ Pretty in plaid: a life, a witch, and a wardrobe, or the wonder years before the condescending, egomanical, self-centered smart-ass phase by Jen Lancaster

Q ~ Queen of babble by Meg Cabot

R ~ Rachel's holiday by Marian Keyes

S ~ Serenity found: more unauthorized essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly universe by Jane Espenson

T ~ The time traveler's wife by Audrey Niffenegger

U ~ Unbearable lightness by Portia de Rossi

V ~ The virgin suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

W ~ What we eat when we eat alone by Deborah Madison

X ~ Exes and ohs by Beth Kendrick

Y ~ A year in the world: journeys of a passionate traveller by Frances Mayes

Z ~ The zookeeper's wife: a war story by Diane Ackerman

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Books A to Z

I was referencing my GoodReads list the other day and was happy to see that finally my list of books I've read is bigger than the list of books I want to read. I really enjoy the ability to keep a growing list of books I have read, that I'm currently reading and that I want to read. But it always seems that for every book I read, there are at least 2 to 3 more books added to my to-read list. You should check out the website, and if you join - add me as a friend! :)

A new thing they offer is statistics measuring how many books you've read each year. So far this year I've read 61 books. I started to wonder if I'd read a book for each letter of the alphabet. And if not, how many more would I need to read in order to read books from A to Z. So, I made an Excel spreadsheet and found that I was missing 9 books - D, N, O, Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z. I looked through my to-read list and found books to correspond with each missing letter and my plan to is to read them before the end of the year.

I'll post my full list at the end of the year, or when I complete my goal, but for now here is the list of books I need to read in the next 2 months.

D - The dirt on clean by Katherine Ashenbury
N - The next thing on my list by Jill Smolinski
O - Orange is the new black by Piper Kerman
Q - Queen of babble by Meg Cabot
U - The unprejudiced palate by Angelo Pellegrini
V - The virgin suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
X - Exes and ohs by Beth Kendrick
Y - A year in the world by Frances Mayes
Z - The zookeeper's wife by Diane Ackerman

Hopefully I can make it...we'll see. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

This one's for Gigi...

Instead of feeling bad for not writing on this blog more often, I'll just take time to catch up and move on. :)

We've been in our house for 1 year as of today! It's hard to believe that a whole year has gone by, and yet in many other ways it seems like so much more time has passed. We still have MANY boxes to unpack, we still keep finding little things that need to be replaced or fixed, and we still are adjusting each month to the bills and costs involved in being homeowners.

Our house got broken into in January, likely by some teenagers, and several things were stolen. We felt unsafe for a time and every little noise would bring up fear...but God is faithful and it is only through His peace that we do not have to be afraid. We are cautious and make sure our house is secure when we leave...but we are not afraid to leave home and we are not afraid to be home.

In July we were able to attend my cousin Bethany's wedding along with my parents, sister, Auntie Terrianne & Uncle Jerry and cousins Laura and Kevin. We had lots of fun being silly at the hotel we all stayed at as well as during the beautiful wedding of Bethany and Ray.

The cousins - Jay, Laura, Kelly, Bethany, me, Kevin and Brandon
After the wedding, Josh & I were able to spend one extra night near the central coast - in Cayucos at our favorite Shoreline Inn on the beach. We enjoyed the opportunity to spend the afternoon with my longtime friend Jeff while there, as well as checking out the antique stores and cute shops like the new Brown Butter Cookie Company which had amazingly delicious cookies! On the way home, we stopped at the Pasolivo olive oil tasting room and joined their press club and had the best crab lunch ever in Pismo Beach at the Cracked Crab. Though I am not usually a fan of crab, this was especially delicious and sweet and the owner was very knowledgeable and friendly - we would highly recommend that you visit if you ever have the opportunity!
Almost a month ago, my Mom had surgery to remove her right kidney which had a tumor growing in it. They chose to remove the entire kidney due to the location of the tumor and we're glad they did so - it turned out that it was stage-2 cancer, but it appears that it had not spread at all so she does not need to have chemo or radiation. She recovered quickyl in the hospital and was home within 3 days, but still needs help around the house. Now that Dad is back to work, my grandparents have come to visit for a few weeks to help out.
Saturday was my Dad's birthday, and for lunch my sister & I took him out to lunch for Thai food - something new for all three of us, but we were all eager to try it. We went to the Thai House in Redlands which had been recommended to us, and we had several menu choices recommended as well by friends. For starters we had Chicken Satay with peanut sauce and cucumbers, Tom Yun Kai - lemongrass soup with chicken and mushrooms, and Larb - minced beef with onions in a lime dressing served with cabbage. All were quite tasty, but we especially loved the soup and Kelly's favorite item of the meal was the Larb. For our meal we shared Gang Karee - yellow curry with potatoes, carrots, onions and chicken; and Drunken Noodles - wide, flat noodles in a sauce with tomatoes, onions and thai basil. Dad & I both decided that the curry was our favorite item of our meal. All in all, the Thai food experience was a big hit and we all can't wait to try again. :)
Well, this doesn't completely cover everything from the past many months, but it's some of the highlights. Hopefully my grandma (also known as Gigi - an abbreviation for Great Grandma for my niece and nephew) will be glad that I finally updated and I'll try to do so more often. Love you Grandma! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

100 Things About Me

It's taken me about a month to slowly accumulate these 100 things and then read through them to make sure I didn't repeat myself. Hopefully you enjoy learning some new and quirky things about me. :)

1. I hate confrontation, but will do it if I feel strongly enough.

2. I am often much too nice.

3. I try very hard to never be cruel or to say things I don’t mean or would regret.

4. I am content with how I look 98% of the time.

5. I will not eat peas, sweet potatoes or brussel sprouts.

6. I love broccoli.

7. Bell peppers are one of my new favorite foods, except green ones.

8. My favorite number has always been 8.

9. I own a house.

10. I have a very active imagination and when I was little this translated into believing that a tiny Noah lived in a pipe outside of the bank and I would say hello to him every time we had to run an errand at the bank.

11. Roses are my very favorite flower, but I also love hydrangeas, orchids and tulips.

12. I want to go to Paris in the springtime.

13. I’m proud to say I once went white-water rafting on class 4 and 5 rapids, but I will NEVER do it again.

14. I am slightly afraid of heights.

15. Spiders and bugs freak me out, but I will kill them if no one else is around to do it for me.

16. I used to get strep throat every year and almost had to have my tonsils removed…but now I never get it and instead get bronchitis which I never used to get.

17. I will be your friend forever, with a few rare exceptions.

18. I love to roll down my windows in the car and blast my music super loud – sometimes its Nickelback or the Mamma Mia soundtrack, but sometimes its just instrumental music that stirs my soul.

19. I love to cook and bake, but hate to knead or roll things out.

20. Words of encouragement make me feel loved.

21. Survivor is one of my all-time favorite shows and I never get tired of watching it.

22. I get easily hooked on soap opera type TV shows with multiple characters and storylines, especially if the acting and writing is well-done.

23. I believe that God is in control, all the time.

24. My parents have been happily married for almost 37 years.

25. I met my husband through on February 25, 2002. His silly-face profile picture made me curious, his romantic profile intrigued me, his deep sexy voice wooed me, and his absolute love and care for me convinced me that I had found the man God had planned for me. We were engaged by June 21 and married on December 21...and though we have our ups and downs I couldn't imagine my life without him and I love him more than ever.

26. I have always loved stickers.

27. Good bread with real butter makes me so happy.

28. I was born on August 28 – the same day as my Auntie Terrianne, my mom’s best friend…and I know about 4 other people with this birth date, but none the same age as me.

29. If I could have multiple clones of myself, I would want one of them to do nothing but read all the time – every book I could ever want to read.

30. I turned 30 last year and found my first grey hairs recently.

31. I would love to someday visit Kerikeri, New Zealand, mostly because of the name.

32. I love to send cards to people I love.

33. I had my first boyfriend in the 8th grade, but didn’t have my fist kiss until my freshman year of college.

34. My first kiss was on the roller coaster Colossus at Magic Mountain – not the best location for a kiss, nor was it a great kiss.

35. I know all the words for the script and soundtrack of Dirty Dancing.

36. My favorite ice cream is soft serve chocolate from Foster Freeze.

37. I love to color.

38. I want to have a garden and grow tomatoes, green onions, shallots, cucumbers, cilantro, thyme, sweet bell peppers (red, orange & yellow), strawberries and raspberries.

39. I collect cookbooks.

40. My favorite food network chefs are Ina Garten, Nigella Lawson, and Melissa d’Arabian…but I’ve been known to enjoy Giada de Laurentiis, Rachael Ray and Tyler Florence.

41. I love reading cooking blogs and am thrilled we live in an age where there are so many people who HAVE cooking blogs for me to read!

42. I love to sing in my car.

43. I need a pedicure.

44. My top three favorite home cooked meals are roast beef with carrots and potatoes, my mom’s spaghetti, and chicken tacos with sautéed red pepper and homemade guacamole.

45. My favorite animal is the orangutan; especially the cute little baby ones with wild orange hair.

46. I hope to always be an annual pass holder at Disneyland.

47. As my niece often asks me…my three favorite rides at Disneyland are: Pirates of the Caribbean, Storybook Canal Boats and Space Mountain.

48. I have a “man book” – ask me what it is.

49. I am so glad they brought back Captain EO and hope it sticks around for a long time.

50. I saw the movie “Fast & Furious” on the day it opened and liked it so much that I went to see it again at a different theater an hour later. Yes, it’s all about Vin Diesel.

51. I really want a new Dell laptop with the OPI color Pompeii Purple and think that it is brilliant marketing for Dell to team up with OPI nail polish.

52. I miss playing the SIMS and hate that my laptop and over 10 years of SIMS history is gone.

53. I like to try new recipes on company and never practice any recipes in advance.

54. I like to collect keychains.

55. On my work keys all the keychains are from vacations that either I or my coworkers have gone on and includes three shoes – a sandal from Mexico, a flip flop from Bali and wooden Dutch shoes from Solvang.

56. I love Mister Rogers. His show was so soothing and memorable and I have collected three books of his sayings that I often quote from in notes to family and friends.

57. I have read Gone with the Wind three times.

58. The first meal I remember cooking was Chicken Cattiatore and I remember we ate outside on the back patio.

59. I love the novel Wuthering Heights and adore the movie version with Ralph Fiennes and Juliet Binoche. It amazes me that a sheltered woman with little relationship experience created the dark and passionate Heathcliff and Cathy.

60. I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to not finish reading a book even if I hate it.

61. I want to be a warm and affectionate person who hugs easily, but it does not come naturally to me although I find it easier when the person I’m interacting with initiates it.

62. I am a people pleaser, but try hard to be who I am in spite of this.

63. I love people who speak with an accent…especially French, Australian or British.

64. I love working with students, especially the library student workers. But I’m always sad when they graduate and leave.

65. I try to always be content in my circumstances, but can get discouraged more easily than I like.

66. My favorite ribs are the Original Baby Back Ribs at Chili’s.

67. I enjoy cooking and baking with my niece and we have matching aprons from Disneyland that we always wear when doing so.

68. My grandpa owned a Foster Freeze when I was a kid and I have many happy memories of that time. I always got a deep-fried burrito with a little fry bag of shredded cheese and to this day that is the only thing I order at any Foster Freeze in memory of my grandpa…other than ice cream that is!

69. I love to eat ice. Crushed ice is my very favorite and I started loving it as a child when my grandpa’s Foster Freeze had it and I would go around eating a cup of ice. It’s hard to find places that have it, but I know of a couple and always enjoy having it when I can. And I would love to own a crushed ice machine in my house.

70. I have been to almost all of the 50 states, but still have a few left to go – Alaska, North & South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.

71. I prefer to sleep on my left side, with one pillow to cuddle with, one pillow between my knees and a small pillow under my foot – and two pillows under my head.

72. I love flip flops and own at least 20 pairs, but most often wear either my pink or black ones.

73. One of my favorite places in the world is Cayucos, CA.

74. My favorite beverages include icy cold Coke in a can, iced tea with lemon & lots of ice, and Diet Dr. Pepper.

75. I prefer to use a medium point black ink pen, especially at work.

76. No matter how many times I’ve seen them, I always cry when I watch Beaches, Steel Magnolias and The Notebook.

77. I love pictures, photo albums, scrapbooks and picture frames.

78. I love to sit by the ocean, watching and listening, but hate to swim in it.

79. My favorite color is pink and I like to wear it as often as possible.

80. I love how in the movie “The Saint” Elisabeth Shue’s character had little post-it notes all over her apartment & journal – full of scraps of poetry, quotes, lists, etc. I do that a little bit on my computer at work with little post-its with Bible verses.

81. I love to change the color of my hair. It’s been dark brown, auburn, blonde, orangey red (not purposeful but it’s what happens when you add auburn hair dye to brassy blonde) black, brown with blonde highlights and now dark brown with auburn highlights. My favorites have been black and auburn…though I do like it now as well.

82. Though I haven’t been to too many concerts, I have seen – Trick Pony, Brooks & Dunn, Bon Jovi, Daughtry, Bette Midler, Trace Adkins and Toby Keith.

83. When I was a kid, I used to play marine biologist in the pool – water balloons were dolphins or fish, Tupperware blocks that opened were crabs, bricks were sponges, and the pool cleaner was an octopus (though it did look like one, with a floating disk with several long hoses coming off it).

84. My sister and I used to play Oregon Trail – we’d load up the porch swing wagon and deck chair horses with supplies including clothes, blankets, pillows, a Bible, a pitcher of lemon water and a sleeve of Saltines. Each “day” of the trip we’d portion out the crackers and water until they were gone and we “arrived”.

85. Growing up, I was in love with Patrick Swayze. I loved the movie Dirty Dancing and had a poster of him on my wall that was moved so many times (including to college) that all the edges are ragged from pushpin holes.

86. The funny movies I could watch again and again and still crack up are Night at the Roxbury and Zoolander.

87. I don’t like scary things in movies or TV – if it looks or seems too scary for me I’m not ashamed to cover my eyes and even hum to myself if necessary.

88. I used to collect straws from Bakers…I don’t know why. But my collection has come in handy now and then over the years.

89. I would love to take a vacation that centers on eating BBQ all over the South to try the different styles and varieties – brisket is my favorite, especially chopped/shredded and I prefer a sweeter thick sauce to a vinegary thin sauce.

90. I have 1 godson, 6 nephews, 2 nieces and many other children who I love and always send cards and stickers to for major holidays and birthdays.
91. I accepted the Lord when I was 4 years old while listening to a Psalty the Singing Songbook record with my mom and sister.

92. Other than babysitting, being a nanny, tutoring and being a student worker I have only had one real job – the one I have now and have been at for almost 10 years.

93. My favorite breakfast would include French toast, maple bacon, cold milk and maybe some fresh sweet raspberries.

94. I love cucumbers – in tea sandwiches with soft butter; dipped in French onion dip; sliced in a homemade red wine vinaigrette; doused in lemon juice & salt; chopped up in a taco salad with kidney beans, onion, tomato and avocado; or tossed with thinly sliced onion, sour cream, lemon juice, salt & pepper.

95. Some of the books I could reread again and again are: You Shouldn’t Have to Say Goodbye by Patricia Hermes, the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn (actually basically anything she writes), the Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison and the Chesapeake Bay Saga by Nora Roberts.

96. I collect pressed pennies, Gone with the wind memorabilia, and choose-your-mood magnet sets.

97. I like to talk to myself while driving in the car and no, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about it.

98. I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, but only in the past year have grown to enjoy the taste of it – though only with a LOT of Crème Brulee creamer or as a hot mocha.

99. Lunch is one of the hardest meals for me. I really dislike leftovers, frozen dinners, and sandwiches so it is always a struggle to find something to pack for lunch. I prefer hot food for lunch, so often resort to fast food but don’t like to spend the money all the time. I have been this way since I was a kid and the only time it wasn’t an issue was in college when I could eat in the cafeteria every day.

100. I like to keep track of the dinners that I make for friends so that I can try new things and not accidentally serve the same menu.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Catching up

It’s been too long since I last updated this blog, but I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to say. The past few months have been quite difficult at times and in the midst of the challenging times I just didn’t feel like blogging. I still really don’t feel like blogging. But perhaps it will help to just write it down. Perhaps it won’t really help, but at least it will allow my blog to move on even if we aren’t completely able to move on.

First of all, though I do appreciate our ability to own a house, it has been challenging to get used to home ownership and all the financial aspects that come with it. While we have been able to pay our bills we’ve had a lot of learning “Uh Oh” moments that took large chunks out of our extra money. HOA monthly payments (including a large transfer fee), figuring out how much watering is “TOO” much and getting the bill that told us (Eek!), extra fees for going over our monthly cell phone minutes (we have since upgraded our plan), etc have made for some tight financial moments and some slight remorse for giving up the relative comfort of renting. But we do love having our three cats (though hubby hates the almost constant need to clean the litter box!), having more space and knowing that it is ours to do with as we please.

In October, the week before Josh’s parents had planned to move out of state, his Dad got unexpectedly sick and was admitted to the hospital with a serious infection due to a leak in his colon and intestines. He had major surgery and was in the hospital for almost a month with many ups and downs. Most of the time passed in a blur of roller coaster emotions, overnights spent in uncomfortable waiting room chairs, lots of eating out, and sitting and talking with family & friends who gathered to wait and pray. Sadly, on November 16, my father-in-law passed away and went home to meet the Lord. That week was spent with family who flew in for the memorial service, and though we were all sad I have to say it was time well spent together with my in-laws. This really does not adequately explain or show how truly hard that month was, but…it’s what I can say for now.

Most of December was spent working, dealing with grief, Josh helped his mom a lot as she prepared to move out of state just prior to Christmas, and I spent the end of the month enjoying my two week holiday from work. We didn’t have a lot of extra money this year and for the first time I did basically ALL my shopping on Christmas Eve! We managed to have a lovely Christmas spent with some of my family as well as my sister’s in-laws. I got some boxes unpacked, did some yardwork, framed some pictures and enjoyed several baking/craft days with my niece. I would have loved just one more week of vacation, but had to go back to work.

As usual, at least for me, I got sick once again at the beginning of the new year. It always seems to be something for me and this year it was a cold that turned into bronchitis. Thankfully I am feeling better finally, but the cough has lingered for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, it seems that I have passed on the cold to my sister and my mom…and it turned into an ear infection and bronchitis respectively. Hopefully we all get better soon.

The other big stress happened almost two weeks ago when our house was broken into and several pieces of technology stolen. Thankfully I was not home (I was sick that day and wanted to stay home, but had to work at least half day to cover the front desk of the library) and nothing was broken and our cats were fine. But the feeling of being violated and knowing that someone we don’t know went through our things has been challenging to get over. I just have to keep giving my anxiousness to God and trust that He will take care of me. I know it to be true, and I know that He did protect us already, but I still have to keep giving it up to Him when I feel afraid.

Life has been challenging and trying and difficult lately. But there have also been moments of joy and laughter and love. Thankfully God has filled our lives with wonderful friends and family who have come alongside us to support, encourage, cry, laugh, and just love us; and their influence on our lives has been so appreciated. I know God is in control and He has not been surprised by anything that has happened to us…so I just need to keep trusting and keep praying.