Friday, December 21, 2012

San Diego to Sacramento

Oh, what a day, oh, what a drive! We left San Diego around 7:15 last night...only 45 minutes behind schedule, which may have been a good thing because we avoided almost all traffic, even in L.A. We slowed to about 40 mph for a short stretch where the freeway inexplicably shrunk to three lanes. I think I now know why L.A. has such terrible traffic. After stopping at Burger King for a quick bite, we left civilization behind for about five hours as we drove along the dull, lonely stretch of highway.

The dogs did awesome on their super long car ride. Zoe slept in the back seat while Emma transitioned between spending time with her sister and napping on my lap. We were able to get Zoe's collapsed kennel to stand up in the backseat, which created a nice doggie barrier. 

We arrived in Sacramento at Micah's dad's house around 4 a.m. After unpacking and setting up the dogs' kennels in the garage, we fell asleep and slept til noon. We then went shopping with Micah's dad this afternoon and out to dinner. 

It's rained most of the day today and I suppose I should get used to it for the next 10 days. Thankfully, we had a dry drive last night but I'm afraid tomorrow's drive won't be as peaceful. We get to cross the snowy Siskiyou Pass and are crossing our fingers that the drive isn't too bad. We've packed plenty of snacks and water in case we get snowed in and we're stopping to pick up chains on our way out of town tomorrow morning. Let's hope we won't have to use them!

Here's a few pictures of the pups from our day one journey!

Zoe and Emma at the start of the drive. Bye San Diego!

Zoe wondering where we're heading.

Emma was sad that she couldn't get over the barrier.

Zoe trying to get cozy in the backseat.

Emma squeezing in next to her sister.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Thoughts Are With Sandy Hook Elementary

I sat down in my car this morning, with my iPod on shuffle, and heard the last lines of Blaine Larsen's "How Do You Get That Lonely?" The country song is about teen suicide but many of the lyrics can be applied to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. For instance, take the title of the song and simply replace the word "Lonely" with any number of words: "Twisted," "Sick," "Disgusting." How does anyone get to the point in their lives where the answer to their problems is to kill 20 children? Twenty innocent kids whose only thought on Friday morning was that Christmas was a little over a week away and they'd better be on their best behavior for Santa. Twenty trusting kids who left their homes to go to school, like they did everyday, and expected to return in only a handful of hours. Twenty sweet kids too young to even comprehend what happened when the gunman opened fire. And twenty young lives lost way too soon. 

The song asks, " How do you feel so empty, you want to let it all go? How do you get that lonely...and nobody knows?" I don't if the gunman (who doesn't deserve the respect of being called by his name) was lonely or depressed or had any number of other mental illnesses but to commit something so despicable there has to be something seriously wrong. How does this go undetected? Did his family or friends have any idea that something wasn't right with this man? Could he not have sought help rather than commit one of the worst shooting crimes ever?

The lyrics go on to ponder, "Did his girlfriend break up with him, did he buy or steal that gun? Did he lose a fight with drugs or alcohol? Did his Mom and Daddy forget to say I love you son? Did no one see the writing on the wall?" So many questions, so many possibilities. What causes someone to snap? I read this morning that there is new evidence suggesting a motive so perhaps we'll know soon. 

I've always been vocal about my dislike of guns but I honestly can't say that I've done enough research into whether completely banning guns is a good or bad thing. I just wish that they had never been invented to begin with and then we wouldn't have to make this call. But any way you look at it, guns do harm, not good. Their sole purpose is to hurt and kill. I understand that it's the people that make the decision to use the guns but all too often the guns end up in the wrong hands and people get hurt. 

Or in this case, 20 innocent children lost their chance at a bright and promising future.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Yelp Holiday

Last night was the Yelp Elite Christmas Party AKA the "Ugly Sweater Party." Micah and I donned our sweaters, which may not have been the ugliest but were at least seasonal, and joined our friends, Ashleigh and Jeff, for the festivities. The party was held at the California Fruit Wine Company in Vista, which is about 30 minutes north of my place in Del Mar. It felt like quite a trek to the middle of nowhere in particular. 

The party was held in a wine warehouse with dim lighting and rows of tables. Quite frankly, it wasn't my favorite location. It felt crowded...too many people crammed into too small a venue. The other two Yelp parties that I've attended were held in an indoor/outdoor space --although it was summer then-- but I appreciated the freedom to move. 

We arrived and pushed our way to the bar, which was serving five flavored wines. I sampled all five! The cranberry was amazing and had a nice kick to it and the chocolate cherry was wonderfully sweet! The pumpkin spice was festive and the plum and apricot both had a nice flavor. All in all, I give the wines an A+.

Me and Micah
Me and Ashleigh
Along the back wall, the caterers were offering bites of a few food items. And I do mean bites. I've never seen portion sizes so small. 

Our tiny food
I don't go to Yelp parties expecting a full-fledged meal but the previous events have had enough food to constitute a good snack. This event, however, merely offered a lox appetizer about the size of a dime; a bite of ribeye (which was incredibly tender); a lemon lavender sorbet shooter and a two-bite biscotti. 

Thankfully, there was also a cupcake display. These mini cupcakes were offered in a variety of flavors, including red velvet and, my favorite, cookies and cream! The cupcakes were all delicious!

Ashleigh and Jeff
The Yelp photographer snapped this photo of us...I think his flash was a little too bright...
I'm pretty sure my skin is not the same color as my white sweater. :)
After we were done drinking and eating, we lined up for the photo booth again...and again...and again. There were just so many fun props that we had to keep returning for more! Micah and I gave it three shots, Ashleigh and I hopped in for a go and then the four of us all piled in for a round. All the pictures turned out awesome, minus the first shot of Ashleigh and me with my eyes half closed (not sure what happened there but I'm choosing to forget that the photo existed).

Our collage of photo booth shots
All in all, it was fun to get out of the house but the night didn't quite live up to my previous Yelp events. Hopefully 2013 will bring many more Yelp parties though!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Busy Week

The past five days have been a blur...and I don't see things slowing down much before Christmas. I honestly don't have the time to even write this blog but I'm afraid if I don't, I'll get out of the habit again and bye-bye blog. So here I am...and here's a quick summary of the last few days.

Friday: It was Disneyland day! It's been my and Micah's tradition for the past three years to spend a day at Disneyland admiring all the holiday decorations. It was my intention to write a full blog post on this day but with the craziness of life right now, I don't see that happening. Instead, here's the short version. 

We arrived at Disneyland around 1 PM, which was about three hours later than I had intended. The parking garage was oddly full for a Friday afternoon and we had to park at the Anaheim Convention Center and take a bus to the park. That was a new experience.

We spent the majority of the day wandering through the parks. Thanks to our annual passes, we don't feel rushed to squeeze everything into a day and can actually sit back and just people watch. We rode a few rides, finished some Christmas shopping and watched the fireworks show. All in all, a pretty successful day.

Saturday: This was a hurry up and wait day. We went to Micah's annual National Guard Christmas Party (which isn't really much of a party) in the afternoon. Since it was technically his drill day too, we were stuck on the guard's schedule...and let me tell you, they suck at scheduling! For an institution that is so strict with punctuality, you'd think they could create a schedule and stick to it. Nope! We arrived at the armory around 11:30, thinking that the event would start around noon. It was after 2 by the time the speeches started and by the time we ate (it was catered by Marie Calender's), the food was only lukewarm. 

I'm not a huge fan of the guard to begin with...nothing against them personally but I don't like Micah being a part of it. And it's partially because of things like this. I hate how they think they can just control your life and make you rearrange your schedule on a whim. So making small talk with the guys in charge as they thanked me for my support was difficult. While in my head I was telling them off for all the crap they've pulled in the last year, outwardly I had to just smile, nod and bite my tongue.

Sunday: Oh Sunday, fun day! We started with a brunch at Cafe Merlot in the Rancho Bernardo Winery. It was a nice, leisurely brunch with multiple courses. We started with a cheese plate and a couple glasses of champagne. By the time our sandwiches arrived, we were already stuffed from all the cheese, fruit and crackers! Then we had an apple strudel for dessert, which was amazing!

After a three-hour babysitting job with a 4-year-old girl and her pug (!!!), Micah and I headed to the movies to see "Wreck It Ralph." The movie was surprisingly great! After seeing the previews, I wasn't sold on it but we had movie tickets that were expiring and it was the only thing out that seemed doable. But the movie definitely won me over. It was cute and entertaining and I'd watch it again!

The beginning of this week has been busy with work, wrapping Christmas presents and Taco Tuesday. 

Tonight is the Yelp Christmas Party and I hope to have some time tomorrow to write a blog about it. Crossing my fingers!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Many Outfits of Emma the Pug

My pug addiction is getting out of control. It seems that I can no longer go on a shopping trip without buying something for Emma. Everywhere I go, I find a new outfit for her...I swear, my pug will soon have more clothes than I do!

Since we're driving up to Washington for Christmas and Emma is a San Diego pug, I wanted to get her a warm jacket to wear. I figure that living in Southern California, she hasn't had the chance to develop much of a natural winter coat. But I found that one new coat wasn't enough and now she has two!

Not only will she have two new coats, but she also has holiday dresses and sweaters. There's just something about dressing my pug in cute clothes that I can't get enough of...and I swear that she could be a pug model, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Who would have thought that searching for ugly Christmas sweaters would be so difficult? Micah and I -- along with our friend Ashleigh -- have been invited to the North County San Diego Yelp Elite Ugly Christmas Sweater party next week. Problem was...we didn't have any sweaters that fit the requirements. 

I've heard about Ugly Christmas Sweater parties for years but have never attended one. I'm more interested in wearing something cute than ugly. So I decided to compromise and find something that fit at least semi-flattering but had a holiday theme. 

Over the weekend, Micah and I visited several thrift shops in P.B., a beach neighborhood in San Diego that caters to a younger, college-age crowd that frequents such parties. Bad idea! It seemed that the shops had already been picked over and there were shockingly few choices. It seemed it was either an insanely large sweater that at least three people could fit inside or a regular sweater with bits of Christmas decorations glued to it. Seriously?!? Christmas sweaters are not known for being attractive to begin with, it's really not necessary to add bits of tinsel and holly to make it extremely hideous. 

Today, I joined Ashleigh on a hunt for sweaters in the "classier" neighborhoods of Solana Beach and Encinitas. Our stops at Marshalls and Ross proved disappointing as there were no sweaters to be found. (I did, however, find Emma a few new pieces to her winter wardrobe but that's for another post.) 

Then we stopped by a thrift store that I remembered seeing a couple weeks back. If I didn't know it was there, I probably wouldn't have found it. It's small and tucked away in a little strip mall just off the Coast Hwy. Yet this tiny story had the largest selection of Christmas sweaters that I had seen! The options still weren't one hundred percent ideal but when does thrift store shopping ever present the perfect choice? While I initially envisioned a cute yet tacky sweater with a Santa or reindeer knitted on the front, I never came across anything remotely close and I ultimately selected a simple ski sweater with snowflakes. On the plus side, at least it only cost $10, which is about what I was willing to pay for a one-time-wear sweater.

My sweater
Micah's sweater

Oh, Christmas Tree

Two nights ago, my roommate and I finally decorated our Christmas tree. Amazingly, we both had the exact same vision for what we wanted the tree to look like and I must say that it turned out perfect! 

With a combination of silver and blue ornaments -- ranging from glittery to metallic to matte -- and bright white lights, this is truly the tree of my dreams. It's simple yet elegant. 

Now, if only I had a camera that took decent pictures again. I think I'll just have to wait for Christmas for that wish to come true! But in the meantime, here are a few shots of the tree.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A New Beginning

Is it sad that I call myself a writer and yet I don't write for fun anymore? I guess when you've spent the greater portion of the last five years writing professionally, writing in your spare time is the last thing you want to do. I admit that I've tried to keep a blog in the past and while I'm able to stay on top of it for a month or two, it ultimately gets left behind. I'm hoping that this time will be different.

This blog will be my way of sharing thoughts on life and current events as well as personal anecdotes from my life. I'm hoping that it will allow me to find the joy and fun in writing again.

So here's to a new beginning!