Monday, December 31, 2007


We decided to take a mini vacation between Christmas and New Years since both of us were off work. We hadn't taken a vacation together in forever (or at least a couple of years)! Arizona is different enough that we felt like it really was a getaway, even though it was a short trip.

We (truthfully me) did not get off to a good start. We got a bit of a late start because I didn't get up early enough. Then, I managed to forget my wallet so I didn't have any ID or credit cards with me. Normally, A does all the driving, but still, I felt very insecure without my wallet. Later, I discovered I brought the wrong contact lens solution and I didn't bring any extra bras so I have no idea was I was (not) thinking when I packed.

Our first stop was Casa Grande. I recommend taking the guided tour. The volunteer docents are so enthusiastic about the site. One of my favorite stories is that for as long as Casa Grande stands or until the Hohokam return, a pair of Great Horned owls will remain at Casa Grande. We were told that the owls have been there from at least the 1920s. While I don't want Casa Grande to be destroyed, I also don't want the owls to leave. They were quite a sight to see.
Our next stop was the Tucson Botanical Gardens. They currently have a tropical butterfly exhibit. We just love seeing these.
This is probably the third or fourth butterfly exhibit we've seen. I never tire of them.

We had a mundane Japanese dinner the first night and a terrific Mexican meal the second night. The first was selected by the intriguing name from the GPS. The second was from the restaurant list the hotel gave us, plus, the parking was full when we drove by the night before which we took as a good sign. There were several cars in the parking lot even though it was early (before 5:00). At first, we were the only non-Spanish speaking customers. We were a little taken aback by the menu. We knew it was a Mexican seafood restaurant by the name, Mariscos Chihuahua. But I guess the picture of the shrimp on the restaurant sign should have been a strong indicator. There weren't any appetizers or entrees that didn't have seafood. Good thing we were in the mood for seafood, lol. I was a bit surprised by the assortment of hot sauces plus ketchup on the table. Why ketchup? And, were the dishes not hot enough on their own?

A ordered garlic shrimp and I ordered shrimp in chili sauce. I was assured it wasn't hot, just flavorful. Guess that was why all the sauces were on the table. Look at this plate: french fries, rice, and tortillas. I was in carb heaven! Oh yeah, and the shrimp, too many to count. Guess I shouldn't forget about the shrimp since they were supposed to be the stars on the dish. They were tasty, but a bit too spicy for my tastes. I still managed to finish off most of the dish.After Tucson, we headed north to visit a friend. On the way, we passed an outlet mall. Too bad I didn't spot it sooner because if I had, I would have made A stop. You know how I love outlet shopping. We had a nice visit with E and he choose a Chinese restaurant for dinner, which I smilingly agreed to with some trepidation. Hmmm, no Chinese descriptions on the menu and no chopsticks on the table. Not a good sign. Still, the food was hot and filling and tasty, though all the sauces were too sweet. There was enough food for us to stuff ourselves and for E to take leftovers home for another big meal. I'm not sure if it was the food or the temperature or what, but A and I suffered from some digestional distress the next day. Hmmm, reminds me of Thanksgiving, though this wasn't as bad.

Arizona was beautiful in a deserty sort of way, but the weather? Brrrrrrr!!! My poor skin was dying (and still is). I used up a whole (small hotel) bottle of lotion and it still wasn't enough. All in all, it was nice to get away, even if I do feel like a lizard at the moment.

More on Christmas

Recognize these boxes? They are leftover Harry and David gift boxes. We received a couple of gifts from vendors (though nothing as huge as we used to receive) and I just couldn't let the boxes go to waste (though the contents went to various waists, lol). Yeah, "packrat al" strikes again. Fortunately, all the boxes stack inside each other so they won't take up much room.

We spent Christmas with A's family and his brother's in-laws. For the past few years, we've spent it with my side, so this was a bit different. Traditions in his family are now non-existent since his mom passed away. (Or maybe we haven't had enough time to establish new ones?) And in my family, they've evolved or devolved, depending on how you look at it. Since Uncle T passed away, I just couldn't bear to spend it with my family and not have him there so I decided it would be better to spend it down here. As it turns out, my family was in several places due to Auntie M's passing so it was just as well I stayed down here.

We brought over cholesterol specials from The olive bread was a bit too salty and I think we chopped the olives up a bit too fine since we used a food processor instead of hand chopping. But still, it was tasty. As were the bacon appetizers. Now you know we had to go out and buy all the ingredients for that, lol. They were surprisingly tasty. You can see them here in all their fatty goodness.

It was fun to see little G tear open his and everyone else's presents. He didn't quite get that they weren't all for him, especially since he was allowed to open his sisters' presents also. He's definitely got the oohing and ahhing part down. As soon as he tore into a gift, but before it was even recognizable, he'd cry out, Look at that, Wow!!! And before anyone had a chance to admire the gift, he'd be off to open the next one, lol. Next year should be even more interesting since the twins will be almost two, still a little young to understand what's going on, but old enough to get into everything.

In the past, we had gotten gifts for the in-laws' in-laws (got that?) since we were all opening gifts together. But this year, we thought they were opening gifts at someone else's house, plus there was the rumor that they weren't exchanging gifts. Well, we were surprised that everyone was opening gifts and that there were extra gifts for us. Opps!

Plus, we were a little embarrassed by the generosity of everyone. Not that we cheaped out, but we were more conservative than last year. I know Christmas isn't a tit for tat, but still, we were a bit overwhelmed by our gifts. Really, the best gift of all would be having all of A's family together for a holiday. But I don't see that happening any year soon.

We went to Target yesterday to check out the after Christmas clearances. Anything Christmas-themed is now 75% off. There were a few things left that I wanted, like some large gift bags, but I'm waiting until they're 90% off, lol. A says they'll be gone by then, to which I say, no problem, I didn't really need them anyways. I also didn't need the decorated As that I bought, but I couldn't resist.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful and full of love and joy! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Playing catch up

We just got back from a little vacation to AZ and I'm so far behind everything. Need to unpack, need to do laundry, need to go grocery shopping. Why is coming back from vacation such a chore, lol?

I just checked Google Reader and I've got 35 blog posts to catch up on (and that's just the blogs that I've put on there. There's another dozen or so that I check sporadically). I still need to post about Christmas, Auntie M's funeral, and gasp! China. Sigh. Someday I'll be caught up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A very scrappy Christmas

Santa baby (yep, that's how the tags were signed) brought me lots of scrapping gifts and a tee shirt. Most of these, I knew about since we bought the Cricut (an electronic die cutting machine) together and he showed me the tee shirt in the catalog and I loved the saying. I bought a couple more Cricut cartridges and figured that was it. But the box was awfully heavy and large for the cartridges and tee shirt. It turns out Santa A bought me a cordless Ott light, woo hoo! Perfect for taking to crops. I guess he figured out that I wouldn't buy myself one because I didn't need it. Okay, I know you're thinking I didn't need the Cricut either, but I do have a daylight lamp already, just not cordless. So it was a nice surprise. And I can hardly wait to wear the tee shirt to work.

I think that A was more excited about the calculator I bought him than his big gift (Rosetta Stone Spanish software). Oh well.

On a more discouraging note, I weighed myself this morning and my weight is back up to what it was in September. Could have something to do with me eating nonstop for seven hours yesterday, lol. Plus a huge dinner the night before. Plus all the goodies we had at work for a couple of weeks. A and I both want to lose the extra weight we gained, so hopefully, we can motivate each other.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas cards

Have you finished sending yours out? Or do you not send Christmas cards? This year was a um, semi-half assed effort since I did not write a Christmas letter nor include a photo, although I did write a little something in every card and even a letter in some. I wanted to let some people know about the highs (going to China) and lows (Uncle T's passing) of the year.

Last year, I purchased several boxes of 50%/75%/90% off cards so I don't need to restock after Christmas this year. Though if I do find some I like at 90% off, I'll pick them up. But I need to change my card buying strategy. I really need to pick up two boxes of each style (not always easy to do on clearance) because I like sending everyone the same card. This year, I ran out of cards so I had to open a second box. Now I'll be all confused next year (not really, since I put little notes in the boxes, but you know what I mean). Each year, I select the cards I want to use based on my mood. Some years, I like elegant. This year, I went for humorous.

Then there's the dilemma of who to keep and who to cut. My list is pretty constant, all of A's aunts/uncles, a few on my side, scrapbooking friends, a few childhood friends, a few work friends. I decided to cut one friend off the list since I hadn't received a card in a couple of years, plus she hasn't returned any of my phone calls for a year. Yep, I figured I could take the hint. But low and behold, a card from her this year. Guess she's getting back on the list for another year. We'll re-evaluate if she doesn't call me at all this year. On the other hand, if I keep cutting people off the list, I can stick with the one card box per year strategy, lol.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More drama or is it trauma?

I had gotten two phone calls informing me of my aunt's passing, so I feel somewhat special that people felt the need to tell me. But then, one of the calls was from my uncle (my mom's brother, not the widower); he asked me to write something about my aunt. I was a little taken aback since I had seen my aunt maybe three times in the past 20 years. We weren't exactly close. I tried to demur, but Mr. Stubborn wouldn't take no for an answer. Unfortunately, he couldn't really explain what he wanted. I finally got the impression that this would go into a program or handout. So, I wrote a draft (with lots of blanks) and then talked to my mom to get more details. Came up with something I thought was appropriate, and gave it to A to read. Guess it wasn't my greatest work because he was a little hesitant. I told it was meant to be read, not read out loud. It "sounded" better to him then. You know, because writing a speech is different from writing a written piece. This morning, I dropped the sheet off at my cousin's because she's flying up tomorrow and could get it to my uncle faster than USPS. Then I called my uncle to let him know it was ready. It turns out, someone was going to read what I wrote. Who that someone would be, he couldn't tell me. I lost it then. I told him that first of all, I didn't feel it was appropriate for him to ask me to write something, but I did it anyway. Second, he didn't explain what he wanted so what I wrote wasn't appropriate. Third, if he was speaking, and two of my cousins were speaking, what the heck did he need more speeches for? Yes, I understand that he's stressed and sad. Yes, I know he's been very helpful to my uncle, the widower. But I really don't appreciate him adding stress to my life. So what I wrote is going in the trash (not really, it is going into my family files)

For more drama/trauma, I have been agonizing whether or not to fly up. On the one hand, probably no one expects me to go. On the other hand, I want to go to support my mom and show my respect for my uncle (the widower). A volunteered to drive up, but then, that would be a lot of driving, we'd have to get a hotel ($$$), we'd be tired. We decided it would be better if I flew up alone. But then, there wasn't any place for me to stay. Finally, I decided to fly up the day of the funeral and leave that evening. It is going to be a long day. When my mom heard I was coming up, she immediately called and said not to. I'm soooo upset now. You know how moms talk to you in that tone of voice, the "oh honey, don't do that" tone of voice. Damn it, it is my decision to make! Here I am trying to be supportive and you're shooting me down. Sigh, damned if you and damned if you don't.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sad news

My mom called tonight and I knew it wouldn't be good news. She called to let me know that my Auntie M passed away earlier today. We're all worried about my Uncle B. They were married for over 50 years. They don't have kids, but other members of the family will be helping out. You know, like with the funeral arrangements, and staying with him so he won't be alone. There are already plans for a get together in February. I still don't know what I'm going to do.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Difficult decision

I've been getting updates about my aunt in San Francisco and the news isn't good. Basically, she's getting liquids via IV for comfort, but nothing else. I suspect it will be less than a week before she goes.

So now the decision part. Should I go up for the funeral? A and I have plans for a mini vacation. Is vacation more important than showing support for the family (which is what I think funerals are for)? Usually, I would say not. But we haven't taken a vacation in two years. I know A would understand, but I would feel terrible canceling.

If I do go to the funeral, it would be to support my mom. A little to support my uncle. But really, if I hadn't gone to China this year, I wouldn't have seen my aunt and uncle. Before this, I hadn't seen them since my wedding, oh so many years ago. So I probably wouldn't have even considered going (except to support my mom). I'm all torn up over this. I hate having to make these kinds of decisions.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cardstock craziness

Lifetime Moments is clearancing out their 8.5x11 Bazzill cardstock. If you hurry, there's still a few sheets left (very few). I myself lost my mind and purchased over 200 sheets, it might be closer to 300 sheets. Hey, it was all 50% off (because of how much I purchased). Plus I was so close to free shipping, it was better to spend more to save the minimum $9, probably more, in shipping. Plus, most of it was free since I won a GC. How's that for lots of justification. I have noooooo idea where in the heck I'm going to put all of this. I really don't have room for it, sigh. So if you need any letter-size cardstock (perfect for cards), you know where to find me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

We've got an appetizer baking in the oven, then we need to pack up the car with gifts and more food for the drive over to M&C's. It will be a small gathering tonight, only our side of the family (which I will enjoy). Tomorrow, there will be twice as many people with C's side there also. Should be interesting with a 3 year old, the twins, and a newborn. I'm looking forward to all the kid time.

Thus far, it has been our easiest Christmas. The timing was right so I wasn't too stressed out for work. We're not going out of town. Shopping was easy. I got almost all my cards out (still looking for a few addresses ).

I'm especially thrilled with the gifts I got for A. His big gift came to the office a couple weeks ago and I bought his little gift on the way home on Friday. He took care of his dad and brothers (without too much prompting) and we even got a couple extra things for people. My side of the family decided to not exchange gifts, which worked out for the best since we were all running around with the funeral plans and such. Shipped gifts would have probably ended up on empty doorsteps which would have been bad.

Well, A's loading up the car and I need to finish getting ready. Merry Christmas and hope Santa's good to you this year!

Coupon fun and frustration

Did my usual Sunday grocery shopping this morning, but had to go by myself because A was working. On the one hand, I like shopping by myself because I can wander up and down each aisle looking for unadvertised specials and combine them with coupons. On the other hand, I can't watch the cashier because I'm too busy unloading the cart, so it is difficult for me to check prices (more on that later).

I'm still debating which store to shop at. I used to go to the one down the street (less than two miles), but they are always running out of the advertised specials because it is such a popular location. But then they opened a branch less than half a mile away so I started shopping there. Much quieter, but smaller and not quite as large a selection. For example, today I went to the larger store and they had several items I could not find at the smaller store. On the other hand, the smaller store is in my city so my tax dollars would benefit me more (not that I spend that much, see below, lol).

Today, I spent $33.38; coupon savings was $23 (woo hoo!) and some change. Of course, I had my grocery store club card or the total would have been another $30 more. Ridiculous, isn't it? Yeah, some people don't like giving up their personal info. If so, sign up and give a fake name/address. But then, you wouldn't get the extra coupons in the mail which saved me $5 today. So yeah, you wanna help me save money? I've give you my name and address. (I used to be much more careful about that stuff, but with computers and the internet being what it is today, I figure privacy is a lost cause.)

I scored huge in the meat dept. There were a bunch of markdowns for meat with sell-by dates for next week. Since I'll cook most of it today, no problem. Chicken thighs for 65 cents/pound. Ground beef (yeah, it was the high fat version, but oh well) for 99 cents/pound. But my best score was cornish game hens. It was an advertised special, and I had a coupon so two hens cost me 13 cents! And since they were already frozen, I just stuck them in the freezer for later. I still have to make another trip to the a different store since I refuse to buy vegetables at their outrageous prices.

Back to my frustration at the checkout. I should have checked my recipt while I was there, but I had a cart full of groceries (even though I originally had four items on my shopping list, lol) and there was a huge line. Turns out, I was overcharged $2.50 on the clearance vitamins I bought. That's a lot! Plus, it is the principle of it all. So I will be making a trip to the grocery store tomorrow after work (it is literally on the way home). And I'll pick up another pack of cornish game hens. I've already made room in the freezer, lol.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Japanese spaghetti and meatballs

No, I'm not talking about the Japanese-style spaghetti you get in Japan or Little Tokyo. I'm talking about the yummy dinner A made last night. We had some leftover sauce from this oddly named recipe, which tasted like soy sauce chicken. A bought some ground turkey and made healthy meatballs with oatmeal and flax seed for filler. Then he cooked up some udon noodles and added the leftover sauce. Add in some steamed asparagus and yum! Hope he continues with this cooking trend; he's cooked three nights this week already!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Old technology to the rescue

We're one of the few people on the planet without cable, satellite, fiber optics, or some other form of television besides the regular ol' network stations. My bil just called to ask us to tape "Heros" since his satellite is out. Of course, this means he'll have to dust off and hook up his old VHS machine to watch the tape, lol.

It's December

Can you believe that it's December already? So what's going on with my roses? I usually trim them back after Christmas. But I'm getting lots of new growth right now. On all of the bushes, front and back yard. Crazy isn't it? Hmmmmm, global warming anyone?

Haven't started Christmas cards. Still need to decide if we'll do photos. I bought Santa hats last year on clearance and A agreed that we could do a photo shoot with them. Now, just to remind him of that.

Still have lots of Christmas shopping to do. Bought A a really great gift (at least I think it is great, lol). Spent a LOT more than I usually do. Good thing we cut back on other people, lol.

Actually, we don't spend that much at Christmas. People talk about spending hundreds of dollars on their kids. On the one hand, I am shocked. If they took that money every year and put it into a 529 account for their kids, think of the gain on the kid's college fund. On the other hand, if you bought them a computer, that's way more than a couple hundred bucks. How much do kids really need anyway? Do they really have to have the latest gaming console, and new clothes from American Eagle, and an iPod, plus stocking stuffers? Yeah, just call me Scrooge.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I'm no Martha Stewart, though I put forth some domestic effort this weekend. Made chicken soup with matzo balls yesterday. Took some over to bil's today. They're all sick so I thought sil might not feel like cooking, plus isn't chicken soup the universal cure all?

At bil's, the girls were bawling their heads off. Poor kids were over tired, with stuffed up noses. Finally, we took C out of the crib in the hopes that E would fall asleep. Little C's nose started running and she was fussy, but I didn't mind. There will come a time when the girls won't want to be held so I need to enjoy this while I can. C fell asleep in my arms, sooo sweet!

Did a bit of Christmas shopping. Only got one present out of the way; A really wasn't interested in shopping. :(

Then for dinner tonight, I tried a new recipe. It was a variation of soy sauce chicken. A liked it so I think it will go into the rotation. Then I tried a new muffin recipe. Another hit. I told A not to expect this every weekend, lol. I'm definitely better on the cooking front than the cleaning front, though I've been putting some effort into that also.