Sunday, June 29, 2008

Creative Organizing - Make-Up

I am going to start posting some organizing tips on here. I am crazy for organization (as many of you are painfully aware, including my husband!) I even have a blog on my blog favorites that is strictly dedicated entirely to organization! I won't get crazy and start a blog dedicated to organization, I don't have the time or the energy for that, but I thought I would share little tips from time to time of things that have worked for me in hopes that someone else might find them useful.

The first one is for make-up. Do you remember those Caboodles from back in the day? They came in a variety of colors, were somewhat over-priced for what they were, and really did not have that many compartments when it came right down to it. So, I headed down to my local K-Mart (this was probably around 15 years ago or more) and I picked up a tackle box in the sporting goods section. That tackle box has lasted me all of these years and I still love it! I can hold all of my eye shadows, lipsticks, liners, brushes, tweezers, concealer, foundation, in one box and I love it! When Nancy was doing test runs of my make-up for the wedding, I could just grab my tackle box and take everything to her house without making multiple trips or worrying if I would forget a certain bag. This method may not work for everyone, but it works very well for me. I can see everything and the whole thing fits easily under my bathroom counter. Here are a few pics. Don't look too closely at the dust!

I Work for the Best Company!

After I left Surfware I thought I would never again work for a company that I believe in as deeply or that treated me as wonderfully. Well, never underestimate God! I should know better by now, but I am human and I still let fear and doubt creep in. It took me many months to find this job and I knew right away that this was a wonderful company instictively felt like I would be a good fit and would enjoy working there, but during the first couple of months things were a little rocky. It had nothing to do with the firm or even the people there, but I was struggling trying to learn so much during the height of tax season and felt inadequate (don't we all at times) and like I could not measure up. I came home many nights and cried, but I persevered and things got easier. I got to know the employees and the Clients and things started clicking for me and I was making less mistakes and coming into my own. Instead of hearing "where's Eva" (the former receptionist) each time I answered the phone, Clients began to compliment me and tell me that are so glad to hear my voice when they call and I was constantly receiving encouragement. Every week the Partners hold what they call a "stand-up" meeting and they update all of the staff on what's going on with the firm, give us the latest stats, and focus on an important topic, like integrity and responsiveness. Their value system matches mine so perfectly, I am constantly reminded I am in the right place. As if all of this wasn't enough, on Friday we had what is called a "report-out" meeting. The Partners wanted to fill us in on the results from all of the tax season debriefing meetings and the Partner retreat. They shared with us some of the things they are looking in for the future and told us how important the staff is to the firm and how much they appreciate us. I was so touched and then they did something I never would have expected. They told us that they understand how the increasing gas prices are affecting each of us and they are looking into alternative schedules, opportunities for people to work at home, and they told us that they are going to give us each an auto allowance to help us in the interim. They will base it on the distance each of us travels to and from work and I have no idea how much it will be, nor do I honestly care. I am just so incredibly honored to work for people that care enough about their staff to help us out at the pump. It's not their fault that gas prices are increasing, nor is it really their problem, but they want to help and that means so much to me. I am literally beaming with pride that I get to work for such a wonderful team of people and things like this motivate me more than ever to give my best and work hard and be an asset to the firm. I made this card to give to the Partners to thank them. I stole the idea from Pam to make the corner pieces by using the 5 petal flower punch and I think it turned out really cute!

Stampin' Up Projects

I can't take credit for the design any of these projects! I did them all at Pam's house during our monthly Stampin' Up workshop. Yes, I made them with my own hands, but the concept was not mine so I can't take credit any of them. I absolutely LOVE going to Pam's to work on projects. I have met so many wonderful friends and am starting to (starting to!) come into my own and get a little bit braver with creating my own designs. I have a few that I am going to post soon that I did with the supplies I have been collecting over the last several months. A couple of photos are on my SLR camera from when Jay had the digital in Germany so I have to wait to develop the film and then I have one that I did today that I am really proud of, but I have to wait to give it to the recipient before I post it on here :).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Scary Drive Home

Tonight I had a very terrifying drive home from work. I was driving along Alamo Pintado where all the apple orchards and wineries are and I was talking to Jay on the phone (on my Blue Tooth - I'm a safe driver!) and a doe and two fawns scurried across the road right in front of me. I wasn't driving too fast (probably between 40 and 45) and just got new front brakes on Saturday, so I was able to stop in time to miss them, but still had to stop rather abruptly and D2's birthday gift went flying to the floor of my car. Fortunately for D2, his birthday gift is not fragile this year! Unfortunately, the white SUV on the opposite side of the road wasn't so lucky and she hit the last fawn and knocked it onto the highway. As I was braking, I felt the animal bump into my wheel. I am not sure if I was completely stopped and it just bumped into my car from the impact or if I hit it as it was coming off of the other car. The woman who it the fawn pulled over and stopped immediately and I could see the little fawn in the middle of the road flailing about and my heart completely sank into my chest. I knew it wasn't the driver's fault, she had no warning, but seeing that poor animal flailing about while it's mother and sibling ran off into the apple orchard just shook me up. I pulled over as soon as it was safe and got out of the car (still talking to Jay.) Meanwhile, in my rear view mirror I could see it get up, then stumble back down to the ground, then get up again and stumble back down to the ground. I felt so bad and didn't know what to do. I was afraid that if it was severely injured I would have to call animal rescue and have them come out and get it and possibly put it down. Jay advised me to make sure I didn't get too close because it's still a wild animal but I did get out and safely started to walk back to the area the incident occurred. Meanwhile, several other vehicles stopped to check on the animal and the driver. The Santa Ynez Valley is a very small community full of animal lovers and just about everyone knows each other. When I got out of my car, a woman across the street that had just pulled over ran over to me and told me that the fawn had gotten up and ran off into the apple orchard. I could not believe it! I didn't think it had the strength but somehow, someway, it was able to get back up and run to safety and hopefully find it's mother and sibling. The woman that pulled over and talked to me told me she lived across the street and she was going to go and check on it and reassured me she would make sure that everything was ok. Jay was so concerned about me driving home and about me being shaken up. I know he's used to seeing deer in the road from living in rural Kansas, but it's just something I can never get used to and especially seeing a fawn, it just broke my heart. He was so understanding and supportive and just reminded me how blessed I am to have a husband who cares about things deeply, simply because I do and for no other reason. I think that deer are some of God's most beautiful creatures and I just wish they would cross right next to those deer crossing signs! Anyway, I hope that little fawn is ok and I've been praying ever since that there were no broken bones and no internal injuries and that it was able to find its way back to its mother and sibling.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a much better end to my day! I absolutely love seeing deer on my way home from work, but not in the middle of the highway.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chrissi's Baptism

My punkin was baptised! I'm so sorry we couldn't be there to witness this important event in her little life, but Nana was sweet enough to take some photos and send them to us so we could feel like we were part of it, in some small way. Chrissi decided on her own that she wanted to be baptised, just as she decided on her own to ask Jesus into her heart. I will never forget when Sandi told me of events of the night that Chrissi came to know the Lord. They were kneeling down saying prayers when she was around 3 years old and somewhat out of the blue, Chrissi turned to Mommy and said, "Mommy, is Jesus in my heart?" Sandi told her that all she had to do was ask, and he would come into her heart so she replied, "Ok Mommy, wet's do that!" No, that is not a typo, all of Chrissi's L's were once W's. She also used to say aminal and hostible and called her coat jack-jack, a soda a co-coke and a pillow a pow-pow. Now she is coming up on her 9th birthday and growing into such a beautiful young lady and we could all not be more proud of her.

Punkin, we miss you soooooooooooooooo much and we are incredible proud of you. I can't wait to see you in person and shower you with hugs and kisses!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm an Aunt (again)

On Tuesday evening at 5:37pm, Kim, Ron and Aiden welcomed a new addition to their family:

Ashton Grant
8 pounds 12 ounces
21 inches long

Mommy and baby are doing well. Aiden is so excited to have a new baby brother! We're so happy for our dear, sweet friends and we can't wait to meet baby Ashton.
Unfortunately, tomorrow we take the girls to LAX and on the way home if Kim and Ashton are feeling up for company, we're going to stop by and visit and bring the baby a welcome to the world present. Hopefully things will start cooling down soon for the little guy. We have had such a heat wave here! Yesterday, it was 116 in Orcutt!!!! By Tuesday it's supposed to be back down to 68. I can't wait to feel a chill again :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there! We celebrated with my Dad (D1) yesterday. We met Dad & Valerie in Santa Barbara for the afternoon. We had lunch at Bucatini and everyone really enjoyed it. We were going to go to our usual (The Palace Grill) but they were serving a special graduation menu, so we asked for their suggestion and were so glad that we did. We would have preferred to sit outside, because it was an absolutely gorgeous day, but they had inside seating immediately available, so we sat inside and had a really nice visit. Dad and Valerie hadn't seen Nicole since she was here for Spring Break, so they were really anxious to visit with her and get to spend some time with all of us. After lunch, we went and walked down State Street and did a little bit of shopping. Well, the ladies did some shopping, the men stood outside and waited on us! Valerie got a couple of tops and some sandals at Coldwater Creek and I got some sandals at Coldwater Creek and a butterfly key chain (which is SO me!) from Brighton. Then we took the girls down to Old Navy and Kendall got a t-shirt and Nicole got some pants. Unfortunately, we were sort of rushed because Jay had to get back to be at the base by 6:00 for a special dinner event, but we made the most of our time together. My Dad loved his Formula One racing game and his card and we all loved getting to spend time together.

Today was Jay's day and we told him he could do whatever he wanted. So, he started his day by sleeping in! We weren't able to make it to church, but I think we all really needed the extra sleep. When we got up, Jay made breakfast burritos for he and Nicole and I (Kendall doesn't like eggs, so she had waffles.) I know, what kind of wife lets her husband make breakfast on Father's day? Me!!! Actually, he enjoys making breakfast and he promised Nicole he would make breakfast burritos while she's here and since she's leaving in a week, he went ahead and made them today. After breakfast he opened his gift and his cards and read his poem. Kendall made him a really cute poem in school and the girls each got him a musical card and a combined touching card and I got him a lovey-dovey card and we got him a valet for the top of his dresser. He has so many electronic gadgets now (don't we all) that he needed a place to keep them all together, along with their chargers. The valet also has small drawers for keys, watches, loose change, sunglasses, etc. Don't ya just love Costco!!!! After we cleaned up breakfast, I got all showered and did my hair and make-up and the girls and I watched Eight Below (fabulous movie, by the way) while Jay tinkered in the garage with his magnets. He's building some contraption with wood, duct tape, glue, magnets, and nails to test the magnetic energy and build some conconction. Since it was his day, he asked for 3 hours to work on his project, so the girls and I entertained ourselves with Eight Below and then Kendall watched videos on You Tube while Nicole and I watched Ratatouille and I finished 4 loads of laundry. Then, at 4:00 we drove to the base and played 2 games of bowling and then had dinner at the bowling alley while watching the Laker game. All in all, it was a great Father's Day and although we miss Lonnie so much and wish we could have celebrated with D2 and Eric and Aaron, we had a wonderful family day together and I think Jay could feel how much his family loves him. Not just on Father's Day, but every day of the year. We really are so very blessed.

Enjoying his musical cards

Showing off his new valet

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rosemary Chicken with Wild Rice

Source: Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook
Servings: 6
Points: 6

1 cup wild rice
1 Tbl olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 lb skinless boneless chicken breasts, cubed
2 carrots, diced
2 Tbl finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 Tbl dried
1/4 cup & 2 Tbl orange marmalade
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Cook the wild rice according to the package directions
2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and saute until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and carrots and saute, stirring frequently, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the rosemary; cook until chicken is cooked through, 3-4 minutes longer.
3. Stir in the marmalade, mustard and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the ride; toss to combine.

Nancy's Bridal Shower

Yesterday was Nancy's bridal shower. Cari & Kristy threw a beautiful shower at Cari's house in Newbury Park. Nancy looked amazing (when doesn't she!) and everything turned out really well. Jay was working and Nicole was at a slumber party from the night before and decided to extend her stay, so Kendall and I went by ourselves. We didn't hit any traffic on the way there and only had to make one stop for gas. My Mapquest directions were perfect and we didn't even get lost! There was lots of socializing, followed by lunch (croissant sandwiches, broccoli salad, caesar salad, fresh fruit, veggies and dip, tortilla chips and guacamole, cheese and salami and crackers) and then the games began! The first game was "how well do you know Nancy" and I thought I knew her soooooooooo well and was shocked at how many answers I got wrong! I must keep better track of the things she tells me. Berkeley and Brian's mom were tied for first place and Berkeley won the prize. I should hope she knows her Mommy. The next game was a guessing game, we had to guess how many plain M&M's were in the jar. After the games were over, Nancy opened her presents and we enjoyed the gorgeous cake that Sue ordered from Albertson's. Nancy got lots of sexy nighties for her honeymoon and just about all of their glasses, a nice steamer, sheets, a wine decanter, and all kinds of wonderful things to start her new life as Mrs. Reitz! I am so happy for Nancy, she has always been such a good friend to me and no one deserves happiness more than she does. Maybe equally, but not more!!!!

The beautiful cake

Nancy & Berkeley

Kendall & Ben

Nancy & I

Stac & Nancy & I

Recipe Book

At last month's Stampin' Up workshop we made the most adorable recipe books. Now if I can just find some recipes that are small enough to fit onto those small sheets, we'll be in business. I always look forward to the workshops every month. Pam gives us the most adorable projects to work on and I love learning new techniques and how to use all of the amazing tools that are available. There is nothing like a homemade card to make someone feel really special.

I'm gradually building up my collection of stamps and tools and papers and am far from perfecting my craft, but it's a hobby that I am really enjoying. It gives me a creative outlet and something special to give to those that I love.

Disneyland/Magic Mountain

On May 29th and 30th, we played hookie and took a mini family vacation to some amusement parks. Kendall missed her first two days of school this year (it's the end of the year, they aren't doing anything anyway, right?) and Jay and I took a couple of vacation days and Wednesday night we drove down to Anaheim after work and school. We stopped for a quick bite at Taco Bell on our way and got down to the hotel and got settled quickly and Nicole took her shower and I took mine and Jay and Kendall waited for the morning to take theirs. The beds were hard and it was not easy to fall asleep, but considering all things, we got a decent night's sleep and got up early in the morning and got ready for our day. The hotel offered a very modest continental breakfast (complimentary, you cannot complain!) and we had a small breakfast and then headed over to Disneyland. Our hotel was within walking distance, so we didn't have to pay extra for parking and we had our tickets already so we went to the entrance and just waited for the gates to open. We headed straight for Finding Nemo and apparently, so did everyone else in the park. We skipped that line and went over to Space Mountain and only had to wait around 20 minutes. It was Kendall and Nicole's first ride on Space Mountain and they both really liked it a lot. Although the park was crowded, we didn't have to wait longer for any ride than 30 minutes, with the exception of Finding Nemo, which we finally did ride and the wait was only 45 minutes, which was good because the ride was not worth waiting more than 30 minutes. I wasn't impressed. I love the movie and I thought they took too many shortcuts with the ride by using the animation. The animation looked good and it was clever, but I was hoping to see the characters up close, not projected onto open space. But, we were glad we got to ride it, since we've heard so much about it. All in all, we had a wonderful day! We went to the Hungry Bear for lunch (it was recommended by the friendly Magic Kingdom staff members) and even though it took about an hour to get our food, we were all glad we took their suggestion. The Hungry Bear is in Critter Country and the tables face the river. Nicole and I got a table while Jay and Kendall waited in line and we saw ducks swimming and watched the River Boat pass and it was extremely peaceful and beautiful. They had yummy burgers too, and very nice portions! Which was a good thing, because we were all starving! I think we were all really pleased with our day and we created some wonderful memories. At the end of the day, the girls learned a lesson in compromise. We were running out of time because the park closed at 9:00 and Kendall wanted to ride Indiana Jones one more time and Nicole wanted to go souvenir shopping. We told them we only had time for one or the other, so they would have to come up with a compromise on their own and if they were not able to, we would just head back to the hotel. They had a stand-off initially, and then offered for Jay to go on Indiana Jones with Kendall and for me to take Nicole shopping (although this was very creative, not exactly the compromise we had in mind!) and then decided on Indiana Jones. Kendall's compromise was that Nicole would get to choose the first ride and the last ride of the day at Magic Mountain. We were very proud of our girls and the lesson they learned! They are growing up indeed.

After our day of fun at the Magic Kingdom, we left the park and stopped at Quizno's on our way back to the hotel and then got back and Nicole and I showered in the evening again and then we all crashed! The bed was just as hard the second night, but we were so tired that we didn't even care. We got up early Friday morning and had a quick breakfast at the hotel and then drove to Valencia to Magic Mountain. We hit a little bit of traffic on the 5 so we didn't make it there before the park opened, but the lines were really modest all day. We headed to Goliath first, since it was Nicole's choice and she wanted a ride that we could all go on. The only ride we didn't get to ride was X2. The line was over 2 hours long and as a result, all of the other thrill rides little or no lines at all. Our day at Six Flags was not without a little excitement. We were getting into the Jet Stream when we noticed a young boy a few boats back that appeared to be stuck in his boat. The ride worker was over tugging on his leg and he was crying out in pain and we thought they would stop the ride, but they moved us along and we completed the entire ride. We got back to the docking area and there was a back-up of boats and people in line were leaving. The staff explained that someone was stuck in the boat and we would have to be patient and wait until they were able to get him out and move us forward to let us off the ride. Eventually, he got himself out and we saw him walking up the stairs to the exit, so apparently he was ok. We could not figure out how he managed to get stuck inside, but we were all relieved that he was ok! We all had a great time at Six Flags and I think everyone got to ride their favorite rides. Jay and I tried Tatsu finally and it was a blast! I was TERRIFIED because you are hanging mid air, facing the ground the entire time. I thought for sure I would get sick, but it was a very smooth ride and I got off and felt great! We still haven't convinced Kendall to try an upside down ride, but maybe next time. She faced her fears as well this trip by riding Indiania Jones and opening her eyes during the Haunted Mansion, so we're proud of her bravery :). Nicole is a little dare-devil, I don't think she has a single fear bone in her body.

The park closed at 6 and we stopped at Claim Jumper for a nice dinner on our way home and then drove back to Santa Maria. We were very glad that we still had Saturday and Sunday to recuperate. The trip was almost perfect. The only thing that would have made it better was if Chrissi was able to be with us. Maybe next time Punkin!


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