Friday, December 23, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We've been busy bees getting ready for the holidays, but we made sure to stop and enjoy many sweet little moments sipping on egg nog and baileys, celebrating my 29th birthday, nibbling on festive treats, and visiting a local tree farm for our Christmas tree!

Hope this holiday brings joy, laughter, and happy memories to you and yours! 

Stay tuned for my annual slideshow at the end of the month!

Two trees! :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thumbprint Holiday Cookies

Made from a box, but super cute, festive and yummy!!

Happy Holidays!

Pink Cheeks

Really tall old man behind me at the post office: Excuse me, can you bend down a little so I can see over your head.

Me: ha! Good one!

Old Man: So how tall are you? Four foot somethin'?

Me: 5 foot even

Old Man: Wowee, ain't much taller than a country mouse, eh!

Me: *abashedley smiles*

Old Man bends down to my level and with the kindest eyes says: Well, I'll tell ya this...your face turns a nice shade of pink.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gobble Gobble

Thanksgiving this year was extra special. Steve and I hosted my mom's side of the family at our house this year. TWENTY TWO people. Yes, I was in over my head. But, I must say, everything went off without a hitch and it was the most memorable Thanksgiving dinners ever. My mom arrived in town the Monday before Thanksgiving to help. We (she) bought all of the groceries, she helped me move ALL of our furniture for the carpet cleaner, we decorated the tables, and she was my main squeeze in the kitchen! By 2:00 on T-day, the house was packed with all of our family! 

The second my grandpa arrived, Steve was ready with an ice cold Keystone Light for him :)
 All of the grandkids

Fun with ladderball! 

 Super carver

My favorite part of our Thanksgiving celebration were the dinner games. This note was at the entryway table when everyone arrived. (Don't you love the beer can rim leftover??)

Then, I wrapped the slips of paper in foil, and put the foils into the rolls before baking. I baked the rolls and before dinner told everyone to grab a roll and open it up to find the foil. Once dinner got going, we took turns opening the slips of paper and reading aloud the "thankful" note. The person with that note had to guess who wrote it. This game was hilarious, sweet, and memorable. My favorite thank you's were "I'm thankful for the Green Door" - a joke played on my grandpa by my cousin. "I'm thankful for my mom who is looking down on us all today", a sweet message about my grandma Ladonna who I KNOW was there celebrating along with us, too. "I am thankful for waking up next to someone who smiles first thing every morning" - Steve's message about me! :) All of the thank you's were creative, lovely, and fun and I highly recommend this game!!! 

The next game was Turkey Word Blitz, where I got the idea from my friend Heather. Before Thursday, I wrote down Thanksgiving day themed words on pieces of paper and hid them under everyone's placemat. After we finished eating, I asked everyone to look under their plates to find their word, and one by one we went around the table describing or acting it out without saying the actual word. Some words were challenging and some were easy, but it was another good way to get a huge table all involved together. 

I am so thankful that everyone traveled from far away to be with us on Thanksgiving. I've always wanted to throw a huge dinner party, complete with fun decorations, good food, and lots of laughs and that's exactly what it was. I loved seeing my cousins and learning about what they're interested in (Justin Beiber!) I loved tap dancing with the little girls - putting on a show for everyone (complete with stage lights and a spot light, thanks, Steve!) and I loved being together in one place, talking about old times and dreaming about the future. 

It truly is a happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Year of the Foot

I thought I would give everyone one last virtual update of my bunion surgery results. Ya'll cross your fingers that this is the last time you have to see pictures of my ugly hoofs.

Foot before:

After Surgery, earlier this year:

One year later:

It's been a year since my bunion surgery and I still often find myself grateful for being able to walk. As I think back on the crutches, awkward baths, many miles driven to and from LA, and the hum of the ice machine, I realize what a huge ordeal this surgery really was. I remember my first steps in my tennis shoes, and how liberating it felt. I remember wishing I could do the most simple things in life..stand up, take a shower, cook dinner, carry things! And I remember my sweet husband taking such good care of me - the best part of being couch-ridden.

And now, a year later, I am doing all of those little things and I hardly notice my foot at all! I think the surgery was a huge success. A few months ago my foot still felt very stiff, and Steve would say, "well don't worry it hasn't even been a year yet!" And now that the year is up, my foot actually feels almost normal! I've changed my footwear habits - mostly flats and tennis shoes, and kitten heels for special occasions! People ask if I would do it again on the other foot..right now I say NO. I don't have time for all of that again. But, if my left foot starts giving me problems, I won't hesitate.

If you ever need a podiatrist, you MUST visit The University Foot and Ankle Institute and say hi to Dr. Briskin for me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011


Today, I am thankful for living in such a beautiful place. Today it is 70 degrees and sunny. The leaves are golden yellow, the wind chimes are singing, and as the rush of sweet November air moves past my face, I am reminded that I am lucky to live here. Arroyo Grande is where I call home. Looking around at my family visiting us here, with smiles on their faces and laughter reverberating off the walls, my heart is filled with love and joy and I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, I am thankful for my family. To all of my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and family friends, thank you for being a part of my life. Without you, I wouldn't have a reason to decorate the house so festively, scrub my toilets, try new recipes, or tap dance. Thinking of everyone on this day of thanks, near or far, you are all in my heart!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Today, I am thankful for my husband. He never ceases to amaze me - he is good at everything he does. His talents come from lots of hard work and thoughtfulness. I always tell him my home-cooked meals are made with love, and it's the same story with his handy-work around the house. Everything he touches and transforms, he does so with the utmost love and care. Thank you, Steve, for being loving, affectionate, and for making our home so lovely and nice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Today, I am thankful for my mom. She brings people together. She makes things happen. And she does it with a smile on her face and a generous heart. I am pretty good at hiding my stress and anxiety but with her I let it all out and she never judges me or gets upset. She tells me not to worry and reminds me that sometimes it's just best to keep it simple. Good advice when making Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people! Thanks, Mom! 

Monday, November 21, 2011


I have a lot to be thankful for. This week I am taking a moment each day to reflect on what is important in my life and what brings me joy.

Today, I am thankful that I have a job. A job where I earn (yes, earn!) the means to own a house, to put food on the table, and best of all, a job that gives me paid vacation! It's unfortunate that there are many people out there without work, who want work. I think those of us who have jobs need to be grateful for the opportunity. Tell your boss thank you. Afterall, having a job in America is not an entitlement, it's a privilege.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jem Gold

Getting this on Friday!!!

Steve's parents were here over the weekend and his mom taught me how to sew on her Jem Gold sewing machine. I loved it so much, I bought one of my own! It's perfect for all of the basics. The bobbin stuff is the hardest part...wait, I take that back...the lingo is the hardest part!!! But, I already hemmed two pairs of pants and fixed a busted tie on a chair pad! I have all sorts of projects in mind for when I get my own machine. Maybe sewing is my calling!?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Happy birthday to my big brother, Ryan. Top 11 things I love about my broham:

11. He is a produce guy at Whole Foods which, in my book, is the most awesome store of all time. Plus, he can explain how to tell when a cantaloupe is ripe!

10. He has a pretty flower tattoo on his arm.

9. He makes a mean salad.

8. He always sends the sweetest birthday and thank you cards with handwritten messages from the heart.

7. He lives far from family, but is always eager to make the trip to see everyone.

6. You can always count on him to bring his camera and snap lots of pictures. It's just too bad we never see any of them ;)

5. When we were little, a bee landed on my forehead and he saved me from getting stung by throwing his shoe at my face. Thanks, brother!!

4. He always says 'I love you'.

3. I could learn a lesson or two from Ryan about drinking water. He drinks so much water and his skin is like a baby's butt because of it. Super jealous.

2. He is a really good snowboarder and I wish I had the same inclination for snow sports because he makes any day on the mountain sound fabulous.

1. He is positive and happy and I never hear him say anything mean.

Love you, brother!

And a special note for my beloved Grandma Ladonna who's birthday was today too. I read this on twitter today, "There's nothing in the entire universe that's better than a grandmother." It's true and I miss her and think of her often!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

82 Pricks

And no, I'm not talking about a football team.

Today I went in for food allergy testing to determine what I couldn't figure out on my own. The doctor also recommended I get tested for pollens from trees, grasses and weeds since sometimes food allergies can occur from cross-pollination. Overall, I was tested for 82 different species. 82 pricks on the skin of my back. Fun! 

I don't know everything they tested for, but there was a good combination from my list of foods that I ate before having a reaction, common allergen foods, and other items that were close to the foods I listed. This includes rice, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, corn, wheat, soy, eggs, milk, grapes, sesame seeds, navy beans, shrimp, fish, and chicken. I have no idea what trees, weed, and grasses they tested for other than the ones that came up with very strong positive results.

Before I get to the results, let me explain the process a little bit for those of you who have never been tested for allergies. I arrived at 3:30 and first the nurse numbered my back in columns. 82 times. No big deal. Each test felt like a little scratch, some of which stung a bit right away, and others I could hardly feel at all. I kept imagining the nurse scratching over a mole and that made me feel worse than the actual scratch. 

After all 82 pricks, she asked if it felt itchy. It felt more tingly and burning than itchy, which meant sitting there for the 20 minute incubation period was not that bad. 12 minutes in, the nurse mentioned she was surprised I wasn't itching because she's seen a lot of people with less worse reactions and were going nuts not being able to scratch their itch! Part of that statement made me nervous, but since it wasn't itchy, I wasn't too worried.

Five minutes later, she decided to go ahead with the measuring since I was "reacting so much". (They measure the size of the hives that appear which determines the severity of the allergy). About halfway through the measuring (this was the longest part), I began to feel strange. Like no other feeling I've had before. My heart was beating strangely. Not super fast, but faster than normal, and extremely strong. I felt a tightness in my chest, but nothing too uncomfortable. I kept talking to myself, "should I tell her how I am feeling? Or, should I wait until she is done? Yeah, wait until she is done. I am sure she is almost done. Hurry up! Eek, this is weird. What if I pass out right here? What if my heart stops?!" Scary stuff!! She finally finished and I told her I was feeling strange. She asked me for details and gave me some water and cleaned off the testing sites with water, alcohol and cream. I started to feel OK, but not great.

The nurse wanted to do a second test for the spots that were unclear, which meant pricks THROUGH the skin on my arms. I wasn't looking forward to that and as I sat there waiting for her to gather supplies, I felt worse. A second nurse came in, asked me about my symptoms, immediately told the other nurse to take my blood pressure and pulse. They called off the secondary test and she gave me some liquid antihistamine immediately. The strange heart sensation and tightness subsided almost immediately, but I began to wheeze, sneeze, sniff, and my throat itched so bad, I could barely speak.

Are you surprised!? Yeah, me, neither.

They had me sit in the waiting room until the doctor was ready to review the results. Since my symptoms didn't improve, and actually got worse, the nurse told the doctor what was going on. He suggested I take a regular allergy pill, Singulair, an oral steriod, Prednisone, and a SHOT of epinephrine! YES, a shot right in my thigh! You know, just that stuff people carry around with them when they are having a SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION!! Literally 3 minutes later, I was already feeling almost back to normal.

So by now its 5:15 and I still haven't learned what is causing my allergies. I wait and wait some more..which at this point is completely fine with me because I am still recovering from all of that and I am oh so anxious to get answers! 



After a mix up with the doctor's schedule (I wasn't on it), I am finally talking to him about the results. There was only ONE positive result for the food allergy tests and....drumroll please....NAVY BEANS! What the hell are navy beans?! And when have I eaten them?! He quickly moved onto the pollens, which sort of ercked me because I was more interested in the foods, obviously. Well, turns out I am "exquisitely sensitive" (yes, his words!) to three trees: Ash, Alder, and Birch. He said those were the biggest reactions by far. Hmm, funny thing, we have a birch tree right outside our bedroom window. Anyway, he asked if I ever thought I had reactions to apples because apparently there is some sort of cross-pollination with birch trees and apples. I told him that sometimes when I eat an apple, my mouth does feel a bit tingly. Ding ding ding! But, this doesn't resolve my other food allergy problem...

So I asked him again, "so no other FOODS?" and he mentioned that there was a slight reaction to soy, corn, and wheat. Alright, more clues! There was corn in some of the dishes I ate, and lots of wheat, so that's something! He said the second step would be to order a RAST (radioallergosorbent test), or a blood test to re-examine the hits for further information. Sign me up!

The rest of the consult was about allergy shots, home air filters, car air filters, closing the doors and windows in the spring and fall, and driving with the windows up. Hmm, most of that list sounds horrid. I was a bit annoyed that he seemed to be pushing the allergy shots, which I am absolutely NOT interested in. And after all, the only reason I even agreed to testing for pollens was for the cross-pollination with foods. 

With that said, I have to get more blood drawn to do the RAST test and then hopefully he will be able to come to more conclusions than NAVY BEANS! Uggg. 

Alright, folks, I think this journey is just beginning!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

These owl cupcakes will make you swoon!

We had a Halloween bake contest at work and I got plenty of inspiration from Pinterest, and landed on making these precious little owl cupcakes. I think they turned out great, and they were a huge hit at the party!! They were super easy to make. I used Double Stufd Oreos for the eyes and Reeses Pieces for the iris and beak. And I used a butter knife to create the owl-like tufts with the frosting!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The best rice dish ever

If there is one recipe you MUST try from this blog, this is it!! I adapted my recipe from  Martha Stewart's, One-pot Curried Cauliflower Rice. Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies, but I hardly eat it because the hubs despises it. One of his favorite foods is rice. Any type of rice, and he'll be happy. The beauty of this recipe is that I get cauliflower and he gets a yummy rice side - all in the same dish! It's easy, fun, and goes with any dinner.

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
As much cauliflower as you want
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced small
1 cup basmati rice (uncooked)
2 teaspoons cumin powder*
1 tsp garlic pepper
1/2 can of chickpeas (or more if you want), rinsed and drained
About 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a pot** heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tsp oil and onion back to  pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 min. Add uncooked rice, cumin, garlic pepper, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 2 min. Add broth and cream and bring to a boil. Scatter cauliflower over top (do not stir to combine). Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. 

*The original recipe calls for curry powder, but I didn't have any. If you'd rather use curry seasonings, use instead of the cumin and garlic pepper.

**I used a large oven-safe saute pan, but in the future, I will probably try this recipe in my new Le Creuset dutch oven.

Makes 3-4 servings depending on the amount of cauliflower and chickpeas you use.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shucking Corn with Ken

A local AG man teaches us how to shuck corn with ease (and quaintness!) And nearly 4 million hits on You Tube - he's famous! How cute is he?! I am definitely going to use this trick next time I buy corn on the cob!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Saturday marked the inaugural Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k walk in downtown San Luis Obispo. Overall, nearly $30,000 was raised for breast cancer. Can you believe it?! My team, The Boob Patrol, raised $1800 and $710 of that was from my own fundraising efforts!! I want to thank all of you who donated and supported me in my first charity walk! You ALL light up my life!

Linda and Jim Bass
James Dwight
Pat and Margo Friemel
Rachel Higgins and Family
Vicki Higgins
Dorothy Joyce
Bob and Gayle Mallory
Phil and Kellie Martin
Heather Mohr
Nell Rogers
Haleh Sahami
Helya Sahami
Joanna Schafhausen
Kara Warren
Richard and Cathy Wright

Now, for some highlights of the event!

I got there early to help set up and the volunteer booth had lots of yummy breakfast pastries for the volunteers. Well, a homeless man decided to take this opportunity and help himself! He came to the booth THREE times for snacks, balancing a handful of banana bread, bagels, and cinnamon rolls in one hand, and a sleeping bag in the other. One time he came with a plastic bag and nonchalantly loaded it up, taking his sweet time. Normally, I would be appalled at such a bold move, but it was actually entertaining. He wasn't trying to be sneaky about it..just going about his business as usual. He even managed to get a participant sticker and wore it proudly on his sweatshirt.

San Luis Obispo is normally pretty chilly in the mornings, but this day, it was at least 70 degrees by 8am. By the time the walk started, everyone had peeled off their layers and smeared on the sunscreen. Our team wore hot pink boas, which were super fun, but made us incredibly hot and sweaty!!

The morning started out with a welcome message from the event coordinator who is a breast cancer survivor. Then, they invited all of the women up on the stage who survived breast cancer or were in the middle of treatment. It was inspiring, sad, overwhelming, and joyful all at the same time. A couple of the women had survived two rounds of cancer. A  younger woman followed her mom on stage as they battled this horrible disease together. Even though I don't personally know anyone who has struggled with breast cancer, these women really made me feel proud that I was there to help THEM. I walked for breast cancer patients around the globe. I walked for family and friends who have suffered or are suffering from ALL kinds of cancer.

Before the walk began, we did a warm-up routine to Lady Gaga's, The Edge. Four ladies were up on stage leading the "dance" and they were smiling so big! It made me laugh out loud and pause for a moment to take it all in. Hundreds of people, dressed in crazy pink outfits, all shaking their butts. I looked around at all the teenage girls there, and thought, "I hope they are looking at these strong women with admiration!" I know I was.

Along the way, a chatty young girl, probably about 13 or 14 came walking up beside me and said, "you look athletic!" HA! I think that is the first time in my life I heard those words. She also kept yipping and whooping as we passed onlookers and after each woot she'd say, "just had to throw that out there". Yeah, she pretty much made my day.

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