Sunday, December 9, 2007

Advent Calendar

I never had an advent calendar growing up. I can't say that I really even knew what it was. Sure, I knew of the Advent wreath at church and the significance of the weeks leading to Christmas, but I never opened any tiny little doors to reveal part of a jolly Christmas scene and perchance a piece of chocolate.
For a few years now I have toyed with the idea of making an advent calendar, but have never felt sufficiently ambitious. After all, 24 days require a LOT of creativity. Well, this year was the year. Forget the chocolates, forget the cute doors and the Christmas scene. Gabe and I needed something a little more our speed. And so our first advent calendar came to be. OK, so maybe this wasn't the most creative advent calendar, but I think it was pretty good for a start, don't you? We (read I) wanted the focus to be on slowing down and enjoying every day of the season together. There is something so rewarding about opening that envelope in the morning and knowing that something special awaits at the end of the day. Why didn't we start this tradition years ago?

I've been naughty


How sad it is that this little blog has fallen victim to such neglect lately. It is just that November flew by with such reckless abandon that I hardly had time to answer an email let alone keep up with my blogging. Wonderful ideas for posts came and went, yet never made their way to the page. Piles of magazines have accumulated (is it too late to read October's Real Simple?) and the amount of paper on my desk levels the top of my coffee cup. In the midst of it all came a weding, homemade Christmas cards, holiday party invitations and the creation of the advent calendar. But now I am back and with a lighter workload and a renewed spirit. Just in time to fight the crowds, find the sales, wrap the gifts, and make Christmas dinner for 12. I wouldn't have it any other way. 'Tis the most wonderful time of the year!
image : RealSimple.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bunches of Fun

What? You've never heard of "Bunches of Fun"? Oh, you, my friend are missing out. Picture this- you have just stuffed yourself full of turkey and mashed potatoes and you're not quite ready for dessert. You love to play games, but there is simply not enough time, space, or energy to pull out Monopoly or Pictionary. Enter "Bunches of Fun". Nobody really knows the origins of this game but it made its way into our Thanksgiving celebration about 8 years ago or so. How do you play, you ask? It's simple. Everyone contributes "bunches" of fun things to guess. You write them on little scraps of paper and then put them into a bowl. These could be anything from movies, to pop culture icons, to objects lying around the house. The object is to guess as many things as you can from your partner's clues in one minute. The team that ends up with the most overall points when there are no more clues is the winner. Oh yeah, it's a bunch of fun. Just take a look:

video

(I must warn you , however, if you are overly competitive as I am, you may need to watch it. Ever since the infamous "how did you not get that, are you stupid?!" slip of '01, Gabe refuses to take part in the fun.)

So thankful

It was yet another fabulous feast on Underhill Lane. It seems that with each passing year I take these celebrations more to heart and truly reflect on what it means to be part of such an amazing family. You see, some things go without saying; the food will be exceptional, the house will be chaotic and over crowded (over 20), Mom will go above and beyond by not only making two pumpkin pies from scratch, but also a boysenberry cobbler, Dad and I will wash way too many dishes, the kids will be screaming, someone will be crying, and "Bunches of Fun" will be played. But what changes each year is the ever growing feeling of attachment I have to this holiday. This is the one holiday that I can say has remained the same for my entire life. When my grandmother passed away, my mom picked up where she left off. It is simply perfect every year. Sure, different family members and friends may come each year and this year we knocked the famous fruit salad off the menu, but the familiar feeling is one of comfort and stability. Spending this time with my family makes my year complete and I am thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lovely Ladies' Night


I am typically not a real "girls' girl". I also am not a huge fan of hanging around women I don't know very well (I am teal, remember?!). I'm weird, I know. So when Erin asked me to go out this weekend for a bachelorette evening, my first instinct was to decline. Oh, am I happy I didn't. Thank you, Erin, it was a great time and I was glad to have been a part of it. Thirteen days and counting!

Monday, November 12, 2007

A little of this, a little of that.

When the temperature drops, it's time for soup. Only one little flaw with this plan-today it was 80 degrees. Never mind that. Gabe has been rambling on about vegetable soup for days now and this seemed as good a night as any.
I love soup, I really do. I even love to make it. The problem is that when you are a carnivore married to a vegetarian, it is often difficult to find recipes that please both palettes. So I made up this pleasingly simple, quite hearty and rather quick-cooking recipe.

a satisfied customer - hope he'll be as satisfied tomorrow night, and the next- this makes a lot of soup!



Simple Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

1 medium onion, thickly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can whole, peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
2 small gold or red potatoes, chopped
3/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 small zucchini
1 yellow squash
any other veggies you like
1.5 t dried thyme
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 T balsamic vinegar
a few dashes of Tabasco
1 32 oz carton, plus 1 14 oz. can of organic vegetable broth (of course you could make this yourself!)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes, until soft and a bit caramelized. Add the garlic and saute about 1-2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and carrots and raise the flame to medium-high. Add the thyme, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 4 minutes just to give the carrots a head start. Add the rest of the vegetables and the broth and simmer at a lower heat until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through. Add the vinegar and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve with a few dashes of Tabasco. Mmmm.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

But I HATE teal!

I was on How About Orange's blog and saw one of these color personality tests. Why do I always indulge in these? Do I really need to know what color I would be if I were, in fact, a color? What does this test even mean? Should I run out and buy something teal in hopes that good fortune awaits? Whatever. It was a fun 2 minutes. But seriously, teal? Yuck. I am going to take the test again tomorrow and see if I can be tangerine or chartreuse.


Oh, and Gabe, be sure to re-read and commit to memory that line that says if I'm doing it, "it'll be done right". Uh-huh, that's right.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Witchy Woman

Gabe: You need to color your front tooth black.
Me: But I don't want to be an ugly witch, I want to be a cute witch.
Gabe: Witches always have their front tooth black.
Me: Yes, UGLY witches do.
Gabe: You should color your front tooth black.

Uggghhhhh!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh yeah, what did YOU have for dinner?

Sometimes it is simply wonderful to not have to worry about having dinner on the table for Gabe. Case in point, tonight he'll be home late so I fixed myself the quintessential lonely girl's meal- leftover flourless chocolate cake with toasted almonds and vanilla bean ice cream. Oh yeah, it was that good.

Yes, the picture is blurry. I was in a hurry so that the ice cream wouldn't melt!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Humdinger

If you've never played Cranium, you may not understand. If you have played, you will totally appreciate it's role as the perfect ending to a rather formal dinner party.

Take a look at what we were doing Saturday night. In an effort to keep things interesting, we were not allowed to pair up with our spouses. That's me with my brother in law, Eric as we attempted to dominate the performing category (needless to say, we lost!). Let's see if you can figure them out...

video

video

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tag, I'm it.

So Alyssa "memed" me and, to be honest, I had to look up what the word even meant. Realizing that I had not caught an infectious disease and that it wasn't just a case of someone spelling my name wrong, I decided to indulge.

Four Jobs I've Had In My Life
I've had many jobs, but I bet you didn't know about these four.

  1. Fit model for Wet Seal. It wasn't nearly as glamorous as it sounds and I suffered from a sever case of "zipper finger".
  2. Cashier at a pet store. This is how I financed my wild weekends in high school.
  3. Starbucks barista. This was one of my favorite jobs. I can still make a mean latte.
  4. Cleaning lady. One Summer I cleaned a lady's house every week and made more money than a full week's work at a regular job.

Four movies I Can Watch Over and Over

  1. Reality Bites. I was "emo" and I didn't even know it.
  2. The Sound of Music. Every Christmas.
  3. The Thrill Of It All. Doris Day and James Garner in one of my absolute favorites.
  4. Amelie. Everything about this movie is amazing.

Four TV Shows I Like To Watch

  1. The Office.
  2. Barefoot Contessa.
  3. Brothers and Sisters.
  4. Law and Order.

Four Places I Have Vacationed

  1. Costa Rica
  2. Spain
  3. Hawaii
  4. Belgium

Four Of My Favorite Dishes

  1. Red Enchiladas (New Mexico style, of course)
  2. Santa Fe omelets from Mimi's Cafe
  3. Spaghetti with meat sauce
  4. chocolate ice cream (it's not a dish, but it's a favorite)

Four Places I'd Rather Be

  1. on the beach with my new Martha Stewart Weddings and Domino
  2. at Hotel Bula Bula drinking a "Siberian"
  3. at South Coast Plaza with a fistful of cash
  4. at a cafe in Paris

Four Websites I Visit Daily

  1. msn.com
  2. google.com (Numerous times a day, actually. I seem to have a lot of random things that enter my mind that I simply must investigate, such as what the heck a "meme" is!)
  3. a bunch of wedding and party planning blogs
  4. Design*Sponge

That was a bit harder than I had expected. Try it, you'll see.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My name is Mimi, and I'm a Negative Nelly

I've been in a bit of a "funk of negativity" lately. Maybe it's the change of the weather or that it is getting dark so much earlier, or perhaps just the fact that I have been thinking so much about how quickly time is passing and that every time I turn around the days have faded into months and I haven't done even one tenth of the things I have set out to do. Regardless, it's time for some positive thinking. I have decided to make a list of 25 things that make me happy. Here goes, in no particular order:

  1. Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream
  2. Gabe
  3. stepping on crunchy fallen leaves
  4. a clean house
  5. new magazines, particularly Real Simple, Cooking Light, MS Weddings, Domino, and Blueprint
  6. Chachi and Nacho (the kitties)
  7. sleeping in, but not too late
  8. cooking
  9. feeling creative
  10. Marc Jacobs bags
  11. receiving mail (good mail!)
  12. sitting on the beach
  13. spending time on Underhill Lane
  14. watching re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210 (a ridiculously guilty pleasure found on the soap opera channel)
  15. Cable TV (a relatively new addition to our house)
  16. planning parties for anyone, for any reason
  17. Williams-Sonoma
  18. my sister
  19. Paris
  20. red painted toenails
  21. a fresh haircut
  22. being a Palmer
  23. my iPod
  24. Natalie
  25. crystal doorknobs

Wow, that was surprisingly simple. I could go on for another 50, no problem! I guess everybody needs to step back and change focus every once in a while. Here's to a more positive outlook!

Monday, October 1, 2007

The "Happiest Place on Earth", well, almost

Ever since Gabe's comment about my negative postings, I have been apprehensive to say anything that could be in any way perceived as complaining. (Have you noticed I haven't posted in a few days!) Well this weekend we went to the happiest place on earth, and you know what, it was not the happiest of days! Not because Disneyland is not truly a wonderful place, but because I woke up with a pinched nerve in my neck and could not move my head to the left, not even a little bit. That's right, I spent all week bragging about Space Mountain and the Matterhorn and I couldn't even ride them. (By the way, we had free tickets or of course we would have stayed home! I'm not paying $61 to go in and just walk around!)

We were able to go on a few rides that involved very little neck movement like the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, so all was not in vane. Not to mention the fact that for October, the whole park is decorated for Halloween so it is actually quite fun just to walk around and take it all in. All in all, not my best time at Disneyland, but even when you're writhing in pain, it's pretty difficult to be grumpy at the Magic Kingdom.

If I look a bit awkward, it's only because I couldn't move my head!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

$5 minimum

First it was 31 Flavors, then my favorite bagel shop, and now my local French bakery. Despite the most obvious theme (yes, I have an insatiable appetite for all things terribly high in fat and carbohydrates), what I am reeling over is the infamous "$5 minimum purchase for debit cards" policy. It's stupid.

I don't carry cash. I never have and probably never will. Why should I unless I am going to a garage sale? It's not that I have anything against carrying cash, it just seems so much easier to carry a card- no change, no wadded up bills, no coming up short. But this new thing about forcing me to spend a minimum amount of money is ridiculous. When 99% of the items you sell are less than $5, what do you want a customer to do? No, I don't want a bagel and a coffee, I just want a bagel. No, I don't want a three scoop sundae with extra fudge, I want a cone. No, I don't want 2 dozen cookies! I just want my 3 heart cookies and a couple of tea cakes for Gabe! Ugghh!!!

Maybe it's not normal to become so annoyed by such a minor thing. You might even be thinking that I should just buy an extra something, relax, and move on, but that's not the point! Before walking into a store, I always check for the bright blue and orange sticker that cheerfully tells me that the establishment "gladly" accepts debit cards. If they don't accept them "gladly", perhaps they should not accept them at all. "Cash Only", I get it. I'll go to the bank and make sure I'm loaded with cash. The point is you should not have a sign that you take cards if it is only half-true.

Please don't misunderstand, I am a loyal customer happy to pay for what I order. I even tried to get the bagel store to charge my card $5 even though I was only spending $3 and they said they couldn't, I would have to buy something else! What?

I did a bit of research (if you can count Googling debit card minimums and checking out the first couple of posts research) and it seems that this may not even be a policy that is allowed under a retailer's contract with Visa or MasterCard. It's just something stores impose because they are too cheap to lose twenty cents on my $3 purchase. Whatever the truth is, I'm not happy.

Well tonight was the last straw. When I was told I would have to spend an extra $1.50 for my cookies I walked out. That's right. I left in a huff. I will no longer be a slave to the retail world. But I must say that I am really craving a cookie. : (

image: flickr

Monday, September 24, 2007

Date Night

A funny thing happens when you have kids- it's called date night. Not having kids of my own, this is a totally foreign concept. What do you mean you have to schedule time together? I don't think my sister and her husband have gone to a movie together alone in over 2 years! (No, Disney movies with the kids don't count!) And forget about the 4 of us going out together, it seems someone always has to stay home with the kids. Not this weekend. Date night was in full force. Adult restaurant, adult drinks, adult conversation, and not a pacifier or Thomas Train in sight.
Am I selfish to cherish all of my alone time with my husband? Maybe. And one day I know we, too, will have to schedule our alone time. Until then, however, it's date night whenever and wherever we want and I love it!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bad days

I had one today. Not the terrible, life changing kind-just the kind where nothing quite goes as you had planned and everything and everyone annoys you. And then Gabe came home. Normally this would be the time where I am in a "take no prisoners", "don't ask me what's wrong or if I'm feeling better" kind of mood, but not tonight. With the turn of his key I put on my "don't start with me" face only to see him with flowers in one hand and frozen yogurt in the other. OK, I feel better now.

Here goes...


Life is sneaky. There you are living life, working, creating, enjoying, complaining and then...wham! All of a sudden another year has passed and you can't even remember what you ate for dinner last night. Where does the time go? What do I have to show for the last six months, year, decade? Am I truly supposed to remember everything?
I have come to the realization lately that my life is flying by without record. I have so many experiences, thoughts, feelings, wishes, observations, and ponderings that come and go with each day only to be left behind as if they never were. Each feeling is overcome by a new one and I find myself trying desperately to take it all in, live each day fully and look toward the future all the while striving to hold on to what brought me to this point in the first place. And so it is that I begin my new journey of chronicling my life as it is. Good or bad, boring or mundane, this is me and this is what I am all about. Maybe you'll read faithfully and maybe you'll just drop by on occasion, but inevitably you, too, will become a part of who I am and who I will one day become.