Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plummeting home prices? Really?

Most of the time when Mark and I go for a walk we take the same route. It's uphill (which my thighs need) and it takes us down one of our favorite streets in our neighborhood.

We always pass this very bad patch job on someone's concrete wall, and one day I mentioned to Mark what it looks like to me. He was shocked to find out it was the same thing he sees. Do you see it?

It's Frankenstein (I know, Frankenstein's monster) peering at us!

Are we just crazy and lucky that we found eachother, or is that so Frankenstein? Now whenever we pass it one of us will yell, "Frankenstein head!"

We also pass our favorite house where we always stop and salivate (and scare the occupants, I'm sure). It's a Craftsman (drool), it has a basement, a pool, and a tennis court. It's only a block away from our little 900 square-foot house, but it's worlds away on many levels. We always say one day it will be ours.

Imagine our surprise when we walked by earlier this month and saw a For Sale sign! We're not in a place to be buying a new house right now, let alone our dream house, but we had to call on it. The asking price is 1.6 million. Isn't there supposed to be some sort of housing slump? Apparently our neighborhood hasn't heard the news. So, with that we say, "Goodbye forever, beautiful house!"

Monday, April 27, 2009


After tea on Saturday, we went to "browse" (and absolutely not buy!) at one of my fave stores, Anthropologie. We weren't in the door more than two seconds before I had something in my hands. Who was I kidding? But I did manage to limit myself to only two things, and the total for both was $20!

I have been keeping an eye out for some "H"s (for our last name), and this metal one is perfect. And that little bowl is my favorite color ever, and Lord knows I can't resist a little bowl.

The H ended up in one of our living room bookshelves. I don't know if that's its permanent home, but I'm liking it for now. (I need a flower in that vase :) )

The little bowl that makes my heart sing found it's way to our bathroom. I got these "hand" soaps as part of a Christmas gift a few years ago, and I thought they were hilarious. Now they have a home!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

We're very fancy

I'm not known for my grace and elegance. I sometimes scratch myself inappropriately, and I trip over my own feet ALL. THE. TIME. And there are other far more embarrassing things that I've done (and do), but I can't reveal them all in one post, lest there be a mass exodus from my minimal readership. All in good time.

But there is one classy, elegant thing I love, and that is afternoon tea. Tiny foods thrill me. So I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena with my friends Kim and Gwyn for Kim's birthday.

It started with several mini sandwiches...
That shrimp one was ah-mazing, and there was a yummy cucumber one too. Yes, that is caviar on the egg one, and I have decided that caviar is the Devil's fare. Barf.
Check out the desserts! I'm still in a sugar coma, but it's so worth it.

It's been hours and I'm still thinking about that raspberry one. I died. Gwyn also approved...

I had such a great time, and happy, happy birthday Kim!

Oh, I have to mention this, because it cracked me up. Valet parking is mandatory at the hotel. There is no visitors lot or nearby street parking. So as we were pulling up next to Bentleys and Jags (not exaggerating) in Gwyn's 2001 Mitsubishi Mirage (I'm not hating-I have a 2000 Civic. It's just pertinent to the story.), Gwyn says, "I'm gonna tell the guy to make sure to take care of my baby. And, oh yeah, it doesn't have a grill." LOL!!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

I've been called the "Green Police" by one of my friends. I don't know if that's totally accurate, but I care about the environment. I really do. Not because it's "in" or some celebrity tells me to. The destruction of the environment, polluted air and water especially, concerns me. But I'll be the first one to say I'm far from perfect.

Since today is Earth Day, I took some time to reflect on what I'm doing right and what needs work. A few examples...

Yay! :

  • I've stopped buying bottled water. I bought 2 Pur filters (one for the fridge and one on the counter) and a Sigg bottle for on-the-go.

  • We use only CFL bulbs in all light fixtures.
  • I keep my canvas bags in the car and use them every time I shop. I get the double benefit of saving the environment and feeling superior carrying my bags past all those plastic bag carriers (the horror!).
  • With spud! deliveries, I now buy only organic produce. I also buy only organic, cage-free eggs, and we've started a veggie garden (more on that in an upcoming post!).
  • We started composting in January. We fashioned a bin out of wooden pallets we picked up near a dumpster. It ain't pretty, but it gets the job done. I keep a small bin in the kitchen where we throw fruit and veg scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. to take to the compost pile. In time we will have free soil for our garden and it's really cut down on our garbage.

  • I only run the dish and clothes washers when they're full, and I wash clothes with cold water only.

  • We recycle like mad.

  • We've been filling the house with indoor plants because I've become just as obsessed with indoor air quality as outdoor. I used to kill everything, but I've either been choosing fool-proof plants or I'm developing quite a green thumb, because these babies have been thriving.

  • We love going to and having yard sales. In fact, we're planning one for next month. Buying second-hand is cheaper and infinitely better for the environment.

Boo! :

  • I haven't been able to make the switch to all eco-friendly household cleaners. As we've run out of various cleaners I've replaced most with the eco stuff, like our detergent and a couple all-purpose cleaners. But it's a struggle because I've been trained to think lathering and pretty scents=clean, and most of the eco cleaners are lacking in both of those departments. But I know it's a step I'll have to make in my quest for excellent indoor air quality.
  • We can't do organic milk. I've tried, more than once. But Mark has a nose like a bloodhound and he will inevitably tell me the milk smells funny even if there is more than a week til it expires, which freaks me out and we end up throwing it away. I do only buy hormone-free though.
  • I get WAY too many magazines. But I love them, and reading them online doesn't compare to holding a fresh copy and being able to tear out pages for reference.

  • I waste water while doing dishes. Instead of filling one side of the sink with water for rinsing, I rinse under running water. That's bad and I know it and I feel guilty about it daily. But I'm a freak about clean dishes, and I don't feel like stagnant rinse water does the job.
  • I have yet to make the leap to recycled paper towels and TP (or to do away with paper towels altogether, for that matter). I'm not brand-loyal about many things, but toilet paper is one of those things. Can anyone recommend a recycled one that doesn't feel like you're wiping your ass with sandpaper?

  • We leave the computer on 24/7. We're lazy and that's a terrible excuse, but it's the truth.

Those are just some of the things. There are plenty more for both categories. But I want to know: What do you guys do to be eco-responsible and/or where could you improve?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A much needed laugh

Me: Is that a mole on your arm? I don't think I've ever noticed it before.

Mark: Yeah. When I was little I thought I'd make a really good truck driver because I had a nice big mole on my arm. I guess I was picturing myself wearing a muscle T.

Me: (doubled over in laughter for a good 30 seconds) You were an interesting kid.

Mark: I think my parents were concerned.

How a mole makes one a good truck driver is beyond me, but I guess that's the mind of a seven year old. What kills me is picturing him as a kid so enamored with his mole that he was devising a way to show it off. Like, "I'll be a truck driver who wears sleeveless shirts. Yeah." I'm still laughing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yikes and Leeks

This is the view from my mom's hospital room. Scary.

That dude on a bike is "security". Anyone walking in front or on the sides of the compound, which is an entire city block, shows him a small, white square of paper, which I guess identifies them as insiders, or they get watched like hawks til they are gone.

Good thing my mom had a very attentive nurse because, I'm telling you, my sister and I could barely be torn from the window. What are they doing in there? What do they talk about? Unfortunately I know a little more than I care to about them from a previous job, and trust me, it's as weird as you've heard.

Now, totally unrelated, this is what I ended up doing with the giant leek.

I got the idea from Martha Stewart. Just cut up the leek and saute in olive oil with salt and pepper. Then arrange cut slices of hearty bread on a baking sheet. Top with slices of brie, tomatoes, and the leeks and broil until cheese is melty. I was supposed to put the tomatoes on top of the leeks (oops!), so as you can see the leeks got a little burned, but it was still super delish! I've decided I love leeks, and next time I will try them on a baked potato as recommended by my friend Isabell.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I said my mom's heart surgery would be today, but they actually took her yesterday, which was good because the waiting was terrible. I just want this over with and her to be healed. I want it to be June.

After waiting for 7 hours to see if she would actually have the surgery yesterday, and then waiting for the 5 hour surgery to end, the doctor finally came out and told us it went well. Then they let us see her about an hour after the surgery even though she wasn't awake and probably won't be until sometime today. I think that was a mistake. I won't go into graphic detail (mostly for my own sake), but it was horrific. It was the first time I cried during this whole thing.

And now I need my memory erased.

Humongous thank you to all of you friends and family that have been calling and texting and visiting. Your love and support mean the world to me and my family!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I might be MIA

I don't even know what day it is. Every day since Friday has been a blur of several doctors and nurses and two different hospitals. Easter was ham eaten next to my mom's IV bag.

There's a long road ahead. The day after tomorrow she will have triple bypass surgery, followed by another week in the hospital, and 6-8 weeks of recovery at home. Luckily my dad just retired so he'll be home all the time, but I foresee me going to their house quite a bit to make meals and such. And I'll have to try not to let our house go to hell during all that.

I can't wait for it all to be over and to have my mom as good as new.

Less than a month ago at the botanical garden because the lilacs (her favorite) were in bloom...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter


Or Passover, or whatever you celebrate. Regardless of your beliefs, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with fun, family, and yummy treats. Mmmmm...Cadbury Mini Eggs....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I'm loving this

We got this week's spud! delivery.

The goods:
  • tray of asparagus

  • carton of strawberries

  • 3 oranges

  • red bell pepper

  • mango

  • 4 zucchini

  • head of red leaf lettuce

  • ginormous leek

What to do with the leek? Any suggestions? Look at that honkin' thing!

Also on our porch were Easter cookies sent from Mark's dad and stepmom. It was a good day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

California City

Sorry for the long break! I was away last weekend. For those of you reading this that don't know, my husband built a house in the desert a very long time ago, and once or twice a year we go there with our friends Vic & Kerri and Todd & Isabell for the weekend.

It's a total boy place, full of big-kid toys. This trip we brought this piece of awesomeness that we found at a yard sale for only $100...

Air hockey!

To have room for it we had to remove a couch that no one ever sat on, so in the true spirit of the desert, we just put it in the front yard.

Even though it is such a boy place, the arrival of this little guy two years ago has made it much more fun for me...

Vic & Kerri's son, Joseph (Baby J - I'm calling him that til he's at least 15)

I'm so bummed this one is blurry, 'cause would you look at that face!

Mark's dad stopped by on Sunday on his way home from a conference in Vegas. Mark took him for a spin in the go cart he built.

Baby J got to drive the go cart, too...

Todd on his motorized bike...

and later, wearing Joseph's bib (Vic took this awesome pic)...

One of the main events every time we go to Cal City now is going to the Indian Wells Brewery so the boys can stock up. They make great beer in the middle of nowhere.

Some sights on the way back from the brewery...

While I was taking these pictures, Mark invented his crab walk (a sure product of the many beers had at the brewery)...

Later Mark and I played my new favorite game that I'm calling Mystery Photo, where I hold the camera away from me, aim it randomly, and shoot. It produced my all-time favorite picture of Mark (brace yourselves)...

And a self-portrait...

Lastly, what recap of Cal City would be complete without a mention of this...

That beauty is the wagon, which has probably been on its last legs for about 20 years, and had things living inside it, yet it somehow manages to start every time. Then the boys drive it around the house in circles and smash things in the road with it. And yes, that is a bed headboard attached to the front bumper.