Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Best Friend Comes to Town

A couple weekends ago, one of my best friends from high school, Lillian, came to San Diego on a business trip. Lucky me! This meant that we finally got some uninterrupted BFF-time that we hadn't had for quite awhile. Before I moved to San Diego in 2010, she had spent two years in Pullman finishing her master's so we haven't been in the same city since early 2008. In the little time that we've spent together over the past nearly five years, a lot of it has been spent hanging out as part of a group or watching Supernatural marathons with quick bursts of catching up thrown in here and there.

But on this weekend trip, we plenty of quality time!

We began on Friday afternoon when I picked her up and brought her back to my neck of the woods. We took Emma on a walk through the neighborhood shopping center, where Lillian fell in love with some jewelry and the shop owner fell in love with Emma. 

Then we joined a few of my San Diego friends for a sushi night. We attempted to go to Sushi Deli but found out there was over an hour wait. So Lil and I hopped on our phones and found another Japanese restaurant just up the street that could seat us asap. The food was amazing and the group of people was both fun and hilarious. 

We spent almost the entire day on Saturday just hanging out and catching up (while, of course, enjoying all that San Diego has to offer) and it was wonderful! We started the day with some homemade chocolate chip and butterscotch pancakes before moving to the Del Mar beach to sit outside in the 75-degree January sun. 

Me and Lil at Del Mar beach.

Emma came along for the girl time too!

Lillian at the beach.
After an hour or two of chatting on the seaside bench, I drove us up the coast to Cardiff for acai bowls at Sambazon Cafe. This seaside market area signifies everything that I think California should be. It's laidback yet stylish and is only a mere walk to the beach. Not only did we enjoy great food but also a great laugh as a table full of surfer boys mistook us for a lesbian couple. Apparently, while I was chatting with one of the boys about Emma the pug (and Lillian ordered,) I kept mentioning "we" in conversation. As in "we take our dogs to the beach." I, of course, was referring to Micah and throwing "we" into the conversation as subtle hint that I wasn't single and was immune to his lame pick-up attempts. But when Lillian came out of the restaurant to relieve me and watch Emma while I ordered, surfer boy got the wrong idea. He later came up to Lillian and point blank asked her if we were a couple, to which she laughed and sputtered, "No!" 

We took a quick stroll on the beach but the wind was kicking up and the temperature was dropping so we turned back to head home and prepare for phase two of the evening. 

Lillian enjoying some puppy love.
Lillian had mentioned that she would like to do some cheap shopping so I took her to Garnet Avenue in PB. I warned her ahead of time that PB was douchebag central. I don't know what happens to that area after dark but all the DBs come crawling out and sure enough, we ran into a few.

But first we wandered through the shops and Lillian picked out a few things. I wasn't in need of anything at the time but am wishing now that I had been more alert as I need to return to these same shops within the next week or two to search for a red dress for my next Yelp party.

By this point, we were hungry and decided to try Narraya Thai. We were quickly glad that we did as we were seated in the sunken table section of the restaurant. It looked like we were sitting on the floor, which provided for a new and exciting dining experience. We also learned that if we reviewed the restaurant on Yelp we could get a free appetizer. They shouldn't tell the crazy Yelper that because I whipped out my phone and posted a review in five minutes. Our free curry puffs were amazing and well worth the review!

Me and Lillian at Narraya.
After dinner, we walked back to the car and encountered one of the many PB DBs on the street corner. He wanted to know where we were headed and, like the cool people we are, we told him home...at 9:30...on a Saturday night. Guess we really are getting older. :)

We went home and squeezed in a couple Supernatural episodes too!

The next morning, we enjoyed brunch at The Beach House (silly me, I forgot to take pictures!) and then dropped Lil off at the airport. It's always sad to say good bye to a friend but I know that our friendship can handle any time or distance apart. And I'm looking forward to seeing her in July when she returns for Comic Con!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Les Miserables

I admit that I did not enjoy reading Les Miserables in high school. Like most required books, I barely skimmed the pages (but loved the Sparknotes version). I vaguely remember the story of Jean Valjean stealing the bread to feed his family but the rest of the book had faded into my memory.

When I saw that a new movie version was coming out around Christmas, I wasn't sure if I wanted to see it. But when I heard that the film was a success and was up for awards, I decided to give it a shot. I had bought Micah a gift card to the luxury movie theater near our house (it's actually within walking distance) for his birthday and we were looking for a longer movie to see in the soft, cushy seats. The Hobbit, another book that I hardly read in high school, was our other option but considering that I barely survived sitting through the first Lord of the Rings, I opted against further suffering. 

Late Saturday morning (I had to work at 5:30 p.m. so we had to attend the early show), we headed over to the theater. After selecting our seats, we settled into the plush, reclining chairs and Micah ordered some food from the roving waiter. 

Then the movie began...and I was largely mesmerized for two and a half hours. Bits of the story came back to me as I watched but the entire final third of the movie (the part that tells the story of the revolution) seemed new to me. Young Cosette was hauntingly beautiful as a poor, neglected child in a Cinderellaesque surrounding.  

I recognized a couple of the songs ("I Dreamed a Dream" and "On My Own") but the rest were unknown. I've always been a fan of musicals so the near constant singing didn't bother me. 

I'm curious now if after having seen the movie, the book would seem any more interesting to me. Or perhaps it would just be more appealing now that it's not being forced upon me. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dreaming About Tokyo Disney

I don't usually remember my dreams, much less actually take the time to write about them, but last night's dream was so random and vivid.

I often dream about Disneyland (big surprise, huh?) but last night I had a dream about Tokyo Disneyland. I hopped a plane and flew across the Pacific...with no shoes. At least, I was barefoot when I disembarked in Japan. So my first order of business was finding some shoes. I selected a pair of flip flops but then I realized that I was in need of a pedicure (which in real life, I'm planning to do today). So I ended up in a little nail shop that was run by American girls with Japanese accents. I chose a red polish (which I would seldom choose in my conscience state).

After finally getting my feet prepared, I arrived at Tokyo Disneyland at 4 p.m. It looked like Anaheim's version but with a lot more Japanese people. The main thing I remember about this portion of the dream was that my friend ordered a huge ice cream sundae that five or six people shared while watching the parade.

Then it was time to fly back home. Guess I traveled all the way to Japan for one day.

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Opportunities

I've been wanting to expand my work in social media for the past couple of months but decided to hold off until after the holidays. Not only were the holidays a busy and stressful time (and the 10-day vacation would have put a crimp in my starting new work), but I thought I would make tax time slightly easier by not starting a new job at the end of the year.

When I returned to San Diego around New Years, I decided to post an ad on Craigslist looking for freelance writing and social media work. I wanted to take on a couple extra clients that I could work on from home and easily fit into my existing schedule. 

For the first couple of weeks, I received almost nothing. I began to wonder if Craigslist or my email was broken. I was feeling discouraged and beginning to doubt if this approach would work.

Then, about two weeks ago, the emails started coming in. First one, then two and eventually I received around six emails from people looking for either writing or social media help (or sometimes both).

I'm currently trying to get four of these new jobs off the ground. I've met with one client in person and talked with two others via the phone. A couple have sent over the information I need to get started and the others are working on compiling a list of everything I need to get started. 

The next couple weeks will help me determine which jobs are going to stick. I'll see who is reliable in communicating their hopes and needs with me and who is a pleasure to work for (being happy in my work is something that I greatly need). 

Hopefully, I'll find that at least a couple of these new opportunities transition into part-time, permanent gigs to coincide nicely with my current social media jobs. 

Postponing the Rest of my Holiday Blogs

I started writing my Christmas vacation blog with good intentions and a plan to chronicle the whole trip. Alas, the days fly by and my poor blog gets tossed to the wayside. Now, almost a month since I returned to San Diego, I have more pressing matters to discuss. Perhaps I'll return to the tale of my holiday travels but in the meantime, I have a few other blog ideas that must take center stage.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Visiting Sylvia

One of the highlights of my visits to Seattle is always visiting Sylvia and her family. I had the pleasure of taking care of Sylvia for about eight months in 2010, just prior to my move to San Diego, and I'm so happy that I can continue to be a part of her life from afar. It's amazing how six or so months can go by between visits and yet it always feels like we begin just where we left off. Although we're not actually related, I definitely feel like she (and the rest of her family) are part of my family too.

Micah and I arrived in Seattle around 1 p.m. on December 23 and drove straight to Sylvia's house. She greeted me at the door with open arms and a great big hug! Micah carried Emma (our pug) into the house and we introduced the two. They quickly became best friends and Emma, as usual, made herself feel right at home. 

Here are my favorite photos from our visit:

Sylvia and Emma

Sylvia's little brother, Clifford. Sylvia took this
photo herself.

She's so funny!

Giggles!

She still loves my hair!

I wish I knew what she was looking
at but her expression is great!

So sweet!

Love her!

Hugs!

Kisses!

Emma had to join the picture too!

Our funny photo.

Micah and Sylvia's funny photo.

After visiting for a few hours and catching up with her parents, it was time to hit the road again and complete our journey to Snohomish. Looking forward to seeing Sylvia in the summer!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Salem to Seattle

A lot happened on December 23 so I'm going to break it down into parts for the blog. 

After a good night's sleep in Salem, we woke up and planned to hit the road around 8 a.m. Our departure time got delayed, however, because we first had to say goodbye to Zoe. We had decided before the trip that Zoe would stay in Oregon with Micah's mom. We didn't need a mastiff running through my mom's house and terrorizing the five cats (we figured the pug would be enough trauma for the scaredy cats). But after we arrived at Micah's mom's house, we decided that Zoe would be better off staying with a family friend who had two other big dogs. So the friend came over on Sunday morning to pick Zoe up and introduce her to her new friends, a German shepherd and a rottweiler. 

The look that almost broke my heart.

Zoe and her new German Shepherd friend, Otto.

Zoe and her new rottweiler friend, Sophie.

I was in the house getting ready and packing so I missed the initial introductions. By the time I got outside, Zoe was already loaded into the back of the pick-up truck. The sight of her behind bars nearly broke my heart. I suddenly realized what this must look like to her; it looked like we were giving her away. I promised her that we would be back for her (not that she understood but it's the thought that counts) and I lifted up Emma to say good bye. Ems then started whining in my arms and I could tell it would be a rough couple of days for them to be separated. These pups do love each other!

After Zoe rode off down the road with her new friends, we went back inside to finish packing and Emma said good bye to her new friend, Dottie (Micah's mom's boston terrier.

Dottie and Emma

Then we finished loading up the car and headed up the 5 towards Seattle. 

Hello, Washington!

Welcome to Washington!

We made a quick stop for gas and grabbed a bite for breakfast just north of Portland and then cruised on north. The four-hour drive went by fairly quickly and before we knew it, we had arrived!

Seattle skyline

University of Washington!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sacramento to Salem

Obviously, the past couple of weeks have been incredibly hectic and thus I haven't had time to keep up on the blog. But I intend to get back to writing this week and will share the story of the rest of our Christmas vacation. 

When I last wrote, we were in Sacramento en route to Oregon and Washington. After we left Micah's dad's house, the rest of the trip was a blur and for a good portion of it, I was without Internet access. Thus, I had difficulty finding the time to write a blog, let alone having the means to actually post it. 

Without further ado, here is the story of our drive from Sacramento to Salem.

Our goal was to leave Sacramento by 8 a.m. and we were on the road a little after 8:30. For me, the queen of running late, a half hour delay was doing good! We stopped at a Les Schwab in town (a NW tire store chain that I greatly miss in San Diego) to pick up snow chains, which we knew were necessary to have before attempting to cross the Siskiyou Pass. A quick stop at a Costco to fill up and we were on our way up the 5. 

Emma squeezing on top of her kennel.

Zoe enjoying the cold air in Sacramento.

The first two and a half hours were largely uneventful. The freeway is flat and we drove through some farmland. We passed through a cloud of hail and saw a rainbow. 

Blue sky just outside of Sacramento.

Then the sky turned grey.
video
                         Here's a quick video of the pouring rain, which 
                            happened to  stop just as I was filming.
        
Then the rainbow came!
Then I noticed a billboard for the Black Bear Diner. On family road trips, we often stopped at this charming chain of restaurants in Northern California and after reading Yelp reviews about their amazingly large portions, Micah was excited to give it a try. We pulled into the Redding location (it was the closest) around noon and barely got a spot in the full parking lot. The restaurant was busy but since it was just the two of us, we were seated right away in a small booth. We perused the menu for a few minutes and as a ranch lover and non-pig eater, I was "horrified" to see that the only ranch they had was BACON ranch. No salad or even french fries for me then. I made a mental note to tell them how I felt about this in my Yelp review. Micah chose the Bob's Bacon Burger, a ridiculously large hamburger, and fries with an ungodly amount of calories (over 2,000!!!). 

Bob's Bacon Burger
I went for the slightly healthier French dip. 

French Dip
After waiting 45 minutes, our food finally arrived. Micah (thankfully) didn't eat his entire burger but was impressed with the size. My sandwich was decent but the bread arrived a little soggy from sloshed au jus. The whole dining experience lasted well over an hour and by the end, we were anxious to get back on the road.

video
                            Emma upset that she couldn't join me 
                                          in the front seat.

Shortly after leaving Redding, we saw our first snow of the trip. 

First dusting of snow.

Snow near Lake Shasta.
A snowy hillside.

400 more miles to Portland, so about another
350 miles to Salem.

Clear roads!

As we continued toward the Siskiyou Pass, the snow began to pile higher on the side of the road but the roads were clear. In fact, we made it all the way through the pass without any snow on the road and only a very light snow flurry. 

Clearing the roads.

It's a winter wonderland!

The snow falling down.

This whole time, the pups napped in the backseat.

Puppy snuggles!

Emma makes a great pillow for Zoe.

We stopped at the rest area just north of Yreka and just south of the California-Oregon border to let the dogs experience their first snow day. There wasn't a lot of snow on the ground but the patchy covering was enough for these San Diego dogs. Emma was more interested in the other dog playing in the grass and Zoe kept trying to rub her face in the snow. 

Emma's first snow!

Micah and the pups in the patchy snow.

Zoe trying to rub her nose in the snow.

We reached the summit with no problems and made it through the pass by 3 p.m. 

A snowy Oregon welcomes us.

Lots of snow!

We reached the summit!

The rest of the four-hour drive to Salem was uneventful, especially after the sun set around Grants Pass. 

We finally arrived in Salem around 7 p.m. and stopped to pick up pizza at Papa Murphy's. I love their take'n'bake chicken garlic pizza and, unfortunately, there aren't any Papa Murphy's in San Diego. I looked it up and the closest is in San Clemente (south Orange County) or Temecula so it's not impossible to get here but it's about an hour's drive. While we were picking up the pizza, I noticed they had a s'mores dessert pizza. I had to try it and added it to my order, along with a side of cheese bread. I'm on vacation...might as well splurge!

S'mores dessert pizza!

Piled high with pizzas, we settled in at Micah's mom's house for the night.