Tuesday, February 26, 2013

40DOT: Days 9-11

It's been feeling springy here, with [slightly] warmer temps, a little bit of sun, and a lot of rain. I know I already showed you some snowdrops, but now they are opening more, and I had a better camera when I took these. I'll include a few other springy photos in this post so you can know what's growing around here so far.

On with my thankfuls...

Day 9 (Feb 22): Friday was another half-day for me, due to an appointment, which is always nice (especially since I become practically useless on Friday afternoons). I had purchased some gnocchi the day before and decided to make it into soup for dinner. I based my recipe very loosely off an Olive Garden copycat recipe, and I was surprised it turned out so tastily!

I'm not a big soup person, so I don't have much experience making it. But here's basically what I did for this: Cut up some chicken breast and cook it in olive oil and butter in a large pot on the stove. Add garlic and chopped celery and stir. Add enough flour to coat the chicken/celery mixture and stir it right up. Add chicken broth and any spices you want, like Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil and add gnocchi. Boil as long as the package says the gnocchi needs to cook, and then it's ready and you can let it simmer or serve it immediately. Add salt/pepper to taste, and top with some Parmesan. Delish.

Day 10 (Feb 23): Some days don't have anything particularly awesome that stands out, but I try to remember to be grateful for stuff I take for granted--like having the freedom to sleep in and do whatever I want to on weekends. I've gotten so used to singleness that sometimes I forget how often I get to make decisions with only myself in mind. Without a husband and kids to consider, I can think about my future differently than many people my age. Being alone definitely makes me sad sometimes, but the freedom that comes with it is something I'm sure I will miss, if I marry.

Sundays don't count, but I thought I'd share a couple of photos I took of some "wildlife":

I had seen this guy swimming across the lake, and initially thought it was a river otter (like I had seen a few years ago). But I started noticing the differences and, after some research (my sister R helped me), I learned it was a ferret. (I know it's dumb to mix up an otter and a ferret, but since when do ferrets swim across "my" lake?! Since never.) The ferrets I typically see have dark markings on their face--I had never seen one with this coloring. I'm assuming this one either escaped from its owner, or it was set free when they couldn't care for it. So basically, I was enthusiastically photographing the equivalent of a stray cat.

(PS I don't mean to offend ferret owners, but after reading up on them, I don't understand why anyone would want one as a pet! But if you do want one, go adopt from the shelter in Oregon City. They have a ton, apparently.)

Day 11 (Feb 25): My nephew Z turned 11, and I thought about how much I like that kid. I also talked with my friend Michael on the phone, and I'm thankful for him. He has put up with my whining for many years now, and gives me great spiritual advice.

What were the highlights of your weekend?

Friday, February 22, 2013

40DOT: Days 6-8

[There are lots of salamanders out, but it was too rainy for me to get many photos. I hope to get some more photos soon.
Aren't his yellow paws so adorable?]

This week has drained me for various reasons. I'm so glad it's Friday.

Day 6 (2/19): Tuesday, I found out some insurance frustration that I had been dealing with was finally resolved, so that was very good news. I also had a few different meetings, which made the time seem to pass very quickly at work. And it was already Tuesday!

Day 7 (2/20): I had an appointment in the morning, but late enough that I could sleep in a little more than usual, which felt awesome. I don't know what else to say. This wasn't my favorite day.

Day 8 (2/21): I was feeling much better this day after Wednesday the Blah. I had a very pleasant email exchange with one of my nicest coworkers. She always compliments me on my work. I was able to send off two print projects, which is always satisfying. Then, in the afternoon, I had a photo shoot that I felt went decently. I love how high I can set the ISO on our work camera without pictures looking too grainy. It makes life easier. (Sorry for being a bit technical there.)

It's been so rainy today, and I think it might continue all weekend. This afternoon, I was headed out to take a few photos around my place (that's when I got the salamander photo), and I had the realization (again) that I'm dumb. I've never bought any sort of rain boots, even though I've been living here for over seven years, tromping around in mud and wetness to get pictures. Wouldn't they have come in handy by now? Answer: YES, THEY WOULD. I often come home with muddy shoes and wet cuffs on my jeans, but I never really put this together. So maybe this weekend I'll go look for a pair. I don't like spending a lot of money on clothing, but feel free to give me some recommendations. I know nothing about rain boots. It would be nice if they were comfortable enough to walk in for more than three steps.

Have a great weekend! Question for you: What was your favorite thing about today so far?

I just realized I accidentally counted last Sunday. Lent doesn't count Sundays, so I had to fix the numbering on my days. Lame! Now the URL on the last one will be wrong for eternity.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

40DOT: Days 4, Sunday and 5

Unfortunately, my weekend wasn't as fun-filled as I had hoped or imagined. But it still had some nice aspects...

Day 4 (Saturday): I needed to get out (I usually do), and so I decided to go to the good Target (there's one in Keizer and one in Salem, and the Keizer one is much nicer and newer). It was nice to walk around, and I picked up a few things, including a clearance Valentine's t-shirt for $3. Afterwards, I went through the drive-thru at the new Panera they recently built in Keizer Station. I haven't been to a Panera in years, so I felt a little clueless about their menu, but I ended up getting half a turkey sandwich that was very delicious (if a bit expensive). Oh and it was sunny some of the day, so my drives were nice.

Day 4b? (Sunday--they don't count in the 40 days of Lent): The most satisfying aspect of the day was making good progress on a couple of design projects I'm doing for a local church. The pastors seem to be happy so far, too.

Day 5 (Monday): Obviously the most important and wonderful thing about this day was that I had it off work! I LOVE Mondays off. They make Sundays so much nicer. This was also the first day of the weekend that I woke up feeling well-rested. I also realized that my cough is practically nonexistent now. I got a cold on January 27th, I think it was, and though I felt much better after a few days, my cough(ing fits) persisted. I whined about it a lot to my friend Dan, and he kept insisting that it wouldn't last forever. Turns out he was right!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

40DOT: Days 2 and 3

Day 2 of Lent was Valentine's Day, of course, and it was a nice day (like I shared in my last post). I got treats and notes from a few people, and one of my favorite things was a gift certificate that allowed me to buy a custom made dress! My friend Rebecca received a promotion that she was supposed to pass along to someone else, and she picked me! So between that and being a first-time customer, I got a BIG discount. I'm excited for my dress to arrive. I'll wear it for Easter (it'll probably have to be with a sweater and tights/nylons, though).

And here it is, though the sleeves are going to be different (part of the customization). Also, my head is a lot bigger than that.

That was a very girly section. Sorry, guys.

Day 3 was a Friday, which makes it good by default. Unfortunately, I wasn't having the best day. There was no particular reason, I was just tired and in a lame mood. But the sun was out, just like the day before, and that always cheers me. Then I went to the library on my lunch break to get some more audiobooks. I was so glad two of my holds were in, because the three I had checked out off the shelves were duds.

It's always nice to get back to a book after a couple of days of listening to the radio. I don't mind music, but I have come to really really really prefer driving with audiobooks. It makes every errand and trip to/from work soooo much better. Yay audiobooks! And three cheers for my library system, which has a lot of great stuff that can be passed to the closest library. And four cheers for the fact that more and more books are being recorded. When I was younger, the selection was nothing like it is now.

It was also pay day, and not just a Friday, but a Friday before a holiday weekend! Those things brightened an otherwise gloomy day.

In other news, I have come to realize certain social media sites (Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram) were making me more annoyed than happy, so I'm taking a break from them. If you don't hear from me there, that's why.

Have a nice day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's and Thankfulness

Happy Valentine's Day! How was your day? Mine was very nice, with sunshine and treats and hot pink nail polish.

Also, belated happy Ash Wednesday and season of Lent. I was looking at some old journal entries and remembered that a couple of years ago I did 40DOT (40 Days of Thankfulness - I try to limit my gratefulness to small portions), so I decided to do it again this year. The fun thing about having a designated set of days to point out happy things is that sometimes some really cool events take place, or maybe I just notice them better. It's fun to wake up wondering what will be my items of the day. I remember doing an 8DOT before Christmas of 2008, and all kinds of great stuff happened. It was the year of our big snow/ice storm, which was awesome, and I got to miss work and some other events I didn't care to attend anyway. It was an introvert's dream, and maybe even anyone's dream--who doesn't like getting snow days?

Day 1 was yesterday (obvi), and I came home to a fun package mailed to me from my friend Dania! It was fashionably late Christmas presents, actually, but she also included some Valentine gifts. I'm particularly excited about the puzzle, which I had come across online a couple of months ago. Maybe a friend tweeted it or something, but it has pieces in the shapes of the countries, so it's not just a puzzle, but a learning extravaganza! My geography knowledge outside the US is pretty horrid, so I welcome fun ways to get to know this sphere we call home (I made that extra-corny on purpose, though I do feel a little queasy now).

I also had a good evening in general. The eves before holidays tend to be kind of sparkly for me, and I did a few special things to ring in this day.

Dinner wasn't special, per se, but it was pretty delicious. I made One-Pot Spaghetti based on this recipe. I used different pasta, added a can of cream of mushroom soup (I like to do that with spaghetti sometimes), added olives, and probably used more broth than the recipe calls for. It made a lot, of course, but now I have some meals in the freezer in addition to a couple in my fridge. I suppose I should've taken a photo of it in the pot, but that wasn't very pretty.

So those are my Day 1 items, though I might not always mention more than one or even have visual aids. Today, aka Day 2, I have come across many things to be thankful for, but my little rule is not to decide on my thankful item(s) until the day is done. You never know what's around the corner.

Except that I actually do know what's around the corner from my office: flowers! Every year the little hillside gets covered in crocuses, and every year I take pictures.

Have a great evening, and I'll be back with more thankfuls when the mood strikes.

PS My friend Danielle is a great writer and I appreciated her Valentine's posts. Start here to read them.

Monday, February 11, 2013

ABCs of me

(Just a Common Merganser out on the lake.)

My friend and sister both posted these in their blogs, so I figured I'd do it too! An alphabet of questions.

Available or married?

I don't understand the question.

Chore I hate?
Okay I'm going to try and get over the fact that these have question marks when many need colons instead. I don't feel like fixing them, but I do feel like criticizing them. Anyway, I hate doing the dishes, yet it's the chore I do the most, and the one that makes me feel the best when it's done. I'm going to marry a man who will do dishes if I cook.

Drink of choice?
I love iced tea and Coke Zero (cherry and vanilla versions are good too!). I drink too much soda. But I do drink water, and because of its health benefits, I really do like it even if it tastes like invisible.

Essential start to my day?
I don't really get this question, either, but I will say that I usually give myself a little time to check on some of my phone games and email each morning to help me wake up a little before getting out of bed. I really hate that most of my days begin with waking up before I'm ready. Anything to ease the transition.

Favorite color?

Game to play or watch?
Oh I love games. My favorite card game is probably Cribbage, but I also like Spades, Gin, word games of all sorts and even some video games (like tower defense and city building). I play games practically every day.

I consider Yuba City, CA my hometown since I lived there the longest and because it's where my parents (and lots of family friends) still live.

Instruments I play?
None. I took piano for a few years as an adult, but I can barely play the first few measures of Für Elise at this point.

Graphic designer

I don't have any, and I don't have a strong desire to have any.

Life is incomplete without...
...ends to sentences.

Music group or singer?
Boring question! Or "question," I should say. Lately I like Colbie Caillat and Rihanna. I'm super deep.

Number of siblings?
Two, plus a brother-in-law.

Oranges or Apples?
For what?

Pet Peeves?
Do you really want to open this can of peeve worms? I could have an entire blog (not a post, a blog) on pet peeves. I'm a delightful person.

"Mr. Reynolds? 'Scuse me, but there's something going on in the sculpture class. I think you oughtta check it out."

Reasons to smile?

It's currently winter in my hemisphere.

There are tons when you're searching for something unrelated in Google Images.

University attended?
I like how it's singular.. oh you silly question! I went to two colleges and two universities. I'm like a school gypsy. I graduated from CSU Sacramento.

Veggies I dislike?
Peas! I want them discontinued. There are a few others.

What makes me run late?

X-rays I've had?
Teeth, back, ankle and finger.

Yummy food?
Oh gosh, I like all of the delicious foods that most people like, such as ice cream and cheeseburgers and vanilla bean cheesecake.

Zoo favorite animal?
Oh hey, Yoda. Hm.. I don't know. I like seeing peacocks at the zoo. I always liked elephants growing up. Giraffes are funny with their long, black tongues. Koalas and bats are nice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

C is 13!

My nephew is 13 today, and like with L, I am doing a post for this special birthday.

My sister just sent me the above photo (taken yesterday), and I can't believe how much older C suddenly looks! So handsome! He reminds me of Fred Savage in this picture. I just saw him in October, but I guess we've hit more of the changing years. I was telling R that it's going to be so strange when his voice changes. (Is this embarrassing for C when I discuss this in my blog?) Can you tell I didn't grow up with brothers?

I remember when C first came to live with my sister and brother-in-law. Look at him, so sweet and little!

R was just sharing one of my favorite stories about C in her blog. We were at a museum of sorts (I can't remember and am too lazy to look it up!) in Boston, and after the employee finished her presentation on animals, she asked if there were any questions. C raised his little hand and asked, "Are you married?"

I like how they're all in short sleeves and there's snow on the ground behind them. :P

I think C has a soft spot for little girls, and he can be protective of his sisters and cousins. I love that!

Happy birthday, C! I've enjoyed watching you grow and change over the years, and I'm looking forward to seeing the sort of man you become! I'm proud to be your tia. :) (And I'm loving your glasses, by the way!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Valentine's Giveaway winners!

Happy February and happy Friday! Today I had my coworker draw two names. The first winner is....

Rebecca, who very enthusiastically said, "Yes yes yes! I would like to enter!!! I love Valentine's Day. I love the decor and the good reminders to tell those near and dear to us that we love them. I like to send Valentine's and I love conversation hearts. We have love bundles for our kids on Valentine's Day (similar to Christmas stockings except on Valentine's Day with v-day themed things like cute socks, conversation hearts... stuff like that). We all dress in red and pink and try to add as many hearts as possible. ;) It's all around great fun!"

I've seen pictures and I know she and her family go all out for Valentine's Day!

And the second winner is...

Hollie! (I had a coworker draw another name after the first winner didn't respond to me and I had no contact information.)


Thanks to everyone who entered. :) It was very fun and I hope to hold more giveaways in the future.


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