Saturday, October 31, 2009

Neighborhood Shenanigans

ETA: Listgirl Designs is now open! Go and check it out. :) I will post more about it Nov. 1st.

This morning we watched the Buckeyes totally demolish the New Mexico State Aggies 45-0. Yea, it was a beating. :| The next few games won't be so easy though: Penn State, Iowa, and then our rivals Michigan.

In the evening, after I got my store up and running and sent out the newsletter, Todd and I made the long trek across the street to our neighbor Tyler's house for his Halloween party. Our other neighbors Mel and Margaret were there, but other than them, we didn't know anyone else. Tyler had some friends help him decorate his house starting at 11am, and it looked awesome!

Todd made some homemade Caramel Popcorn and brought it to the party.
It was REALLY delicious! This is one of Todd's party treat specialties. I've linked the recipe above. You can make it and put it in tins as a holiday treat gift too!

Here's Todd and Tyler.  Can you guess what Tyler was?

Our neighbors Margaret and Mel.
They are such fun people! Mel plays in a band too, and they invited us to go dancing to Motown music with them sometime. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Mel and Todd.

And me, in my not-so-creative banana costume, and Todd as Cat in the Hat.

You see, a couple years ago I was the banana, and Todd had a monkey costume. So at least then we had a theme going. Then this year, I was going to still be the banana, and Todd was going to get an apple costume. But he deviated from the plan and decided to finally be Cat in the Hat. So that's why we had un-matching costumes. :| The banana suit was totally non-breathable and I got quite warm in it. One party goer made a joke and said, "how do we peel you?" :| I just ignored the comment and ran away. I'm not so good with the quick-witted comebacks!
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Should They Have This Much Fun At Work?

Todd's company's annual costume contest was today. Along with the chili cookoff, but more on that later.

There were group costumes from various departments.
Here we have the Stepford Wives.

Todd's company has a new program called "The Gift of Vistage", so this department were the gifts.

At Todd's company, you get "tips" for doing good things, and you can exchange the "tips" for movie tickets, coffee, etc. Here are The Tips.

Submit and Hyperlink buttons.

So far, so corporate, right? Not these!
Pirates, fairies, witches, and Richard Simmons oh my!  The dude in the lower right ^ won the costume contest, by the way.  He was "Max" from "Where the Wild Things Are".  His mom made him the costume.  I feel like such a failure as a wife...  Todd bought his costume, I didn't make it.

Doesn't he make the cutest Cat in the Hat though? There's a story behind that costume. When we used to live in Dayton, Ohio, some time in the mid-1990's, we went to the Dayton Mall one day. Todd was traumatized when he saw a lady in a Cat in the Hat costume play with some kids, then she went off and smoked, while still in her costume. Then and there, he was determined to be a more wholesome Cat in the Hat and win back the reputation of Cats in the Hats everywhere. It took him 12 years to do it, but better late than never?

Oh and there was food. Yes, I'm sure you were all waiting in anticipation about whether Todd won the chili cookoff?
He was "Crockpot #5". He adapted the All-American Chili recipe from Cooking Light, which is super yummy. There were nine entries. Todd didn't win! :( How could there be such an oversight? We will never know if the voting was rigged, or if someone just had it out for the Cat in the Hat.  :(

We end today with a sneak peek of a freebie which will be given away during the grand-opening celebration/sale in my store.  My good and gracious friend Peppermint made it.  You should go to her blog and see it.  :)  In the meantime, the work of getting the store ready for opening is almost finished.  By Sunday morning, 11/1 (after an EXTRA hour of fall-back sleep!), you should have a copy of Listgirl Designs Newsletter fresh in your inbox (or check your spam folder).  If you haven't signed up yet, sign up HERE!  Newsletter subscribers will get an extra 10% off during the sale.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preparing for the Chili Cookoff


Tonight Todd made a big pot of homemade chili, for a four-person chili-cookoff tomorrow at work. He was going to make a dessert for their costume party, but the organizer guilted him into making chili, since they only had three entries. This is a chili most beloved by Todd, me, and our friends AJ & Meera. So I expect him to win! :p Stayed tuned tomorrow to find out the results!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Walk At Lunchtime

Sometimes during a work day, the best thing I could do for myself is to take a walk at lunch.  It's great to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face and breathe in fresh air.  I can stop staring at the computer screen and focus my eyes on prettier things, like the fall foliage, or palm trees.

I found this sight a little funny.  We have some trees in our courtyard at work that actually change colors during the seasons.  Which is kind of a strange sight in San Diego. Then it's juxtaposed against the palm trees in the distance, which are always green.




I walked down the street to Sony Electronic's brand-new North America headquarters building that just opened this month.
I saw them build it for a couple of years. The side facing west has a large patio on the top floor, with tables and seating. On clear days, people on the patio can see the ocean. It is 11 stories high.

Todd got a haircut today! This is his second haircut with a new stylist named Nickie. I think it looks pretty good!
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 300

Wow, who knew I would make it to Day 300 for Project 365 this year?  Only 65 more days to go!

Todd took a photo of me trying to relax on the couch with a cup of tea.


As you know, I've been working a lot of hours on templates and getting my blog store ready to open on Nov. 1st. Sometimes I really get into something and I just want to get things done. Or I get overly-ambitious and then stressed out. Learning to relax is something pretty difficult for me. I've learned some hard lessons about living a balanced, less-stressed life, which I will share with you next week. I am still learning though. Because apparently just saying I need to relax doesn't mean it happens, LOL.
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Monday, October 26, 2009


It's me, Todd. Yep, on Monday. Sometimes you just have to have a little spontaneous fun so here I am. I hope the surprise is not too shocking for you all and you are ready to virtually frolic, Todd-style. I snapped some good pictures today and that's why I took over posting duty tonight. After all, I've been promising better photos! And it will be spontaneous! And fun! Actually, now that I think of it, Listgirl is going to go off and have actual carefree fun while I write this blog post. But who's counting? For those who are wondering, this post will still be tagged "Tuesdays with Todd". No need to go overboard and ruin the alliteration. I'm sure everyone could agree that would not be spontaneous or fun. As I mentioned last time, my department planned a late Boss' day lunch for today. (Boss' day was a week and a half ago.) We're slow sometimes. What I didn't realize is that the bus would make its first appearance today. The bus you say? My boss and his son have just completed a 4-year project to restore a 1967 VW Bus. Actually, restore is the wrong word... it's more like build from scratch. I'm told there are a few odds and ends to finish off but it's essentially done. Let's check it out... Isn't the color cool? Photobucket Photobucket The interior is also totally redone. Check out the spartan dashboard! Photobucket Photobucket And the back side. Photobucket Photobucket Once we were done drooling over the bus we piled in and headed out to lunch. Listgirl had crafted a card that we all signed. It was unique and very cool. And I got credit around the table just for having such an awesome wife - what a deal! Photobucket And then it was Mexican food yummy-ness. I had a chicken tostada. Hmm, the spell checker here doesn't recognize the word tostada. What a racist spell checker! I came home and tried a new recipe tonight, Tilapia Tostadas with Roasted Corn Relish. Yes, I had tostadas twice today. That just makes the spell checker all the more wrong. But eating tostadas twice? Oh, so right! Photobucket Perhaps it is because I stumbled upon some excellent fish but these were fantastic. Will be cooking this one again. Well the night isn't over yet. Perhaps I can sneak in a bit more fun before I collapse to dreamland.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

And the winners are...

I took Todd to get some treats today, because he's been helping me a lot with the technical aspects of getting my newsletter service to work.


I tallied up the votes for which three letter templates you would like to see in the store first. Here were the votes. If you voted for multiple letters, I counted the first one you mentioned. I am also keeping track of those other votes though, for future reference. :)

L - (6 votes: Erika, Heather, Jody, Lukasmummy, Cler, Diane E)
C - (4 votes: The Lord Family, Christi, Riette, Cris)
K - (4 votes: Tracey, CarissaProject365, ShawnaTaylor, bentonflocke)
B - (3 votes: Ang, Alyna, DiSailesToo)
R - (1 vote: Abby)
T - (1 vote: sdwrdt)
D - (1 vote: Sonica)
I - (1 vote: a Hawkeye)

So I will be making templates for "L", "C", and "K" first to put into the store when it opens. The people who voted for "L" will get the template for free. So will the following people contact me at listgirldesigns (at) gmail (dot) com with your email address so I can get you your free template when my blog store opens?

Diane E

and I'm also going to include:

because you voted for multiple letters but one of them was "L".

This was fun! I'm looking forward to making them and getting them into the store. Thanks so much for your votes!
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Mile Short

I love it on Saturday mornings when the Ohio State Buckeyes play at 9am Pacific time.  We just sort of lazily roll out of bed, watch some ESPN Gameday, and then the Buckeye game.  There is nothing like Buckeye football and Todd's huge bowl of popcorn first thing in the morning!  And some chocolate on my chin.  I WOKE UP with some chocolate on my chin.  I swear I washed my face last night, so how could  I have chocolate on my chin?  No, I don't keep chocolate in my bed.  I am starting to wonder if I sleep-eat???

Thank goodness Terrelle Pryor (the sophomore quarterback of the team) did better today.  Last week was dismal.  The Buckeyes beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 38-7.  We also beat the Wisconsin Badgers a few weeks ago.  And of course the heated rivalry with the Michigan Wolverines resume in four weeks.  Anyone know why the Big Ten Conference is full of rodents???

After football, I worked all afternoon on templates and products for my soon-to-be-opening store.  After 4pm, we headed to Best Buy to look for a new computer keyboard for my desktop.  I had a Logitec wireless keyboard for a few years, and it recently started not working sporatically.  My attempt to get help from Todd via IM looked like this:

me:  i cleaned up a key board only to find out it's not USB
me:  I foud two no------usb keyboads
me:  i'm dspirte
me:  can you epme/
Todd:  I call you

me:  I cleaned up a keyboard only to find out it's not USB
me:  I found two non-usb keyboards
me:  I'm desperate
me:  can you help me?
Todd:  I call you

So yea, I really needed a new keyboard, but I couldn't find another usb keyboard at home, and I didn't have a PS/2 adapter for the non-USB keyboards I found.  We didn't fall in love with any of the keyboards at Best Buy, plus they seemed to be more overpriced compared to some other stores and especially online.  We left there empty-handed.

After Best Buy, we went to Barnes & Noble across the street, because Todd got a coupon for a free cookie and a free hot chocolate.  Yes, it's true.  We could be lured by food.  I looked at the magazines while Todd procured the free goodies.  When I found him, he was holding a GIGANTO chocolate chip cookie.  We had assumed the free cookie would be tiny, but it was huge, probably like five inches across!  The hot chocolate was delicious too, I wonder what kind they used?

After the goodie break, we went to Miramar Lake to run.  This week I ran twice on the treadmill and went to gym class once.  I like running outside much better though.  When we got to Miramar Lake, Todd discovered that he got chocolate from the chocolate chip cookie all over his shorts.


Hmm... so we both inadvertently got chocolate all over ourselves today. Mine is still a mystery.

It was sort of hot, so we waited a little longer to start running.  Turned out that Miramar Lake closes at 6:30pm now, which meant that I didn't have enough time to run the five miles all the way around.  So I only ran four miles.  The sun set steadily as I ran.  I saw some incredibly pretty sights, so I stopped for some pictures.

Some hot air balloons in the distance.

The moon came out.



By the time I finished my four miles, it was almost dark.

Distance: 4.01 miles
Time: 43:10
Avg time per mile: 10:46
Calories burned: 396

Running must really clear the mind, because Todd suddenly remembered where he put our spare USB keyboard while he was running.  He plugged it into the PS3 in the family room.  Yay, I have a keyboard that works!

After our run, we went to Chile Peppers for some great Mexican food. Then I worked the rest of the night on stuff for my store.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Hour

Today's photos are courtesy of Todd. I worked all day on work stuff and then my getting-the-store-ready stuff, so I didn't do much else exciting, LOL. Thank goodness Todd covered for me and took some pics, plus he handed the camera to someone else, who took photos for him too.

Todd's coworker Jay is leaving the company, so they had a happy hour for him tonight after work.

The views and atmosphere seemed gorgeous. I'm kinda jealous that Todd got to go to this type of event! :p




Todd the social butterfly.

The Man-of-the-Hour Jay. Looks like he got some gifts.

I waited patiently at home for Todd to bring some dinner home. Turns out he went to Brett's BBQ. We shared a sandwich and some sweet potato fries. Todd loves that place. A LOT. While waiting for his take-out food, Todd saw a band playing next door.

This was it for today. I will be a much more interesting person when I finish the work for my store opening, LOL. If I haven't commented on your blog as much, that is the reason why. I hope to be back to reading and commenting on your blogs soon. You know who you are.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Digi Dares + Free Template + My Sweet Hubby

It is Thursday night, which means another Digi Dares for this week!  Digi Dares #152 is the brainchild of Sandra (Chengie).  I love her artistic & expressive style.  I can't do it very well, but I admire hers a lot!  Come join us this week as we scrap about "Yes" or "No".  Please go to the Digi Dares site for more details.  Layouts are due next Thursday 10/29 by 11:59PM Eastern time.

Here's my layout for this week's Dare.
Full credits are at the Digi Dare site.

I made a template for myself to scrap the Dare. I didn't include the smaller photos, just one big photo.
Feel free to download it here at  Thanks for your comments!

Notice the website?  That will be my store when it opens on Nov. 1st!  If you want to get the scoop on the grand-opening, including an exclusive coupon for newsletter subscribers, you can subscribe to the Listgirl Designs newsletter HERE! Ongoing, the newsletter will have new products and sales announcements, coupons, freebies, etc. So look for it in your inbox on Nov. 1st!

Today's photo is of my sweet husband Todd. I thought he had a meeting and couldn't be home for dinner, but I came home and he was here, cooking one of my favorite soups, Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup! It is SO good and only 315 calories per serving!



What a surprise! I appreciate Todd so much, for all that he does for me. I'm truly blessed and I try to remember that every day. :)
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Calorie Counting

Last week and this week I have been using the Daily Plate @ to track my calories again.  I want to lose the extra weight that I've gained since my mom died in early 2007.  My healthful eating got totally derailed during our three-month kitchen remodel.  Eating out every day packed on the calories and weight for me.  At the end of the remodel in July, I weighed 129 lbs.  Surprisingly, I ran the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon (13.1 miles) at the end of June with no problems.

Since July, I've lost about 4 lbs.  I am at 125 lbs now.  It's not fast weight-loss by any means, but I've only been seriously counting calories for 10 days.  This week I'm doing really well with exercising everyday and eating less.  Tonight Todd went to Socrates Cafe philosophy club, so I made myself a shrimp avocado quesadilla.


I think one of the huge benefits of cooking at home is that you know exactly what goes into your food.

Mission Tortilla (medium - 2 qty): 300 calories (Yes, I'm surprised at how caloric tortillas are. It's not even like it's dense bread!)
Medium shrimp (4 oz): 70 calories
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1.5 tbsp): 180 calories (I probably should have used a cooking spray instead to save the calories. Oil sure is caloric!)
Mild Cheddar Cheese (1/4 cup shredded): 120 calories
Medium avocado (2/5 of one): 100 calories
Thomas Kemper Low Cal Root Beer: 20 calories

A 790 calorie dinner. Not too good, but I only ate 500 calories the rest of the day, so still okay. And I ran two miles and burned about 200 calories.

I hope to fit into my older, skinnier jeans in a couple of months. I love that most of the Cooking Light recipes (that's all we cook nowadays) are in Daily Plate. So I just do a search for the name of the recipe and then tell it how much of it I ate, and it just knows how many calories. Anyone else use The Daily Plate? What has been your experience with it?
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Social Organizer

Yes, that is me. Todd, the social planner. I try to get people together. I'm not really much for party or event planning. I just assume that if people are together and fed they will have fun. So if I ever invite you to something, don't expect themed decorations and party favors and all those nice things. But I will get you together. And you can expect more food than you can eat and hopefully a few folks who will make you laugh. I was out of the office for Boss' Day. And nothing happened in my little work area. Most IT people are not social organizers like me. But now that I'm back I've planned something for my boss who I very much enjoy working for. It's a little late but hey, that's normal for IT people right? Another IT guy is moving on to another company. I would have planned something but someone beat me to it. Good on that someone. Tomorrow (Weds) night is Socrates Cafe night (today by the time most of you read this). I am always inviting folks to this but few have come. Anyone in San Diego interested? Details are here. It's not overly intellectual or intimidating. Just fun times discussing interesting perspectives. The meeting is on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. There are plenty of great cookies and such in the nearby area if you are so inclined. We're going to talk about the ideal role of the news media in society. Can't wait! Partly as a result of my social organizing, I am going to have little free time in the next week. When am I going to ever work on my songwriting? Tonight: San Diego Java Users' Group meeting Wednesday: Socrates Cafe - seriously, you local folks should come out! Thursday: Happy Hour for departing colleague Thursday and/or Friday: lunch with friends Sunday: Afternoon plans with friends Monday: Boss' Day lunch I also sent out 3 separate emails to groups of friends to plan a lunch or dinner today. In the last week I sent out 3 others to different friends. That should extend the above list nicely. Yay to more social plans coming together! Too bad about the songwriting though. Maybe Saturday I'll sneak some in between football games. I'm afraid I have broken my promise to bring exciting photos this week. Luckily Listgirl has given you plenty the last couple of days. She covers my butt again! I did get a free book at the technical meeting I attended tonight. Photobucket And what's a developer's gathering without a little ambrosia Photobucket
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Confessions of a Photo Processor

I've received some questions about what camera I use, and also if I process my photos before uploading to my blog.  So I decided today was a good day to show you what I use and what I do.

Most of my photos are taken with this Canon SD850 IS.

It is really small and fits into my purse/pocket. This is the only way I could do Project 365. It's important to me that I have a small, all-purpose camera that I can use every day to capture the moments. Would I like to have a DSLR? Of course. But it's pricey, and I can't bring it everywhere with me. So that is on the list for "someday". I am a firm believer that you do not need to have a DSLR to take great photos. Really great photographers can make disposable or cell phone camera photos look fantastic. Also, the best camera for me is the one that I use the most often, so that's my little Canon.

I do process my photos in Lightroom before posting to my blog. Lightroom makes it incredibly easy. I set it up so that when my photos are imported into Lightroom, they are automatically run through an Auto Fix preset (free) by Matt Kloskowski at Lightroom Killer Tips. On photos with good color and exposure, I don't really need to do anything else. For certain corrections, I will play with the Lightroom development sliders to make the photo pop. I will show you a couple of examples.

This foliage photo is SOOC (straight out of camera) with no processing.

This is after a few quick tweeks in Lightroom.

So what did I do to it? Here's a comparison of the sliders in Lightroom.

When photos come into Lightroom, all the sliders are set to zero, which means no adjustments. Since I set up my photo import to automatically run Matt K's Auto-Fix preset, the sliders move. Then if I want further adjustments, I slide the Exposure button or the Contrast button a little bit.  Sometimes I play with the Recovery, Fill Light, and Blacks buttons too. 

This photo of Todd is SOOC.

With a few adjustments in Lightroom.
Even more handsome than before! :p

And here are the settings for the before and after.

Not everyone likes to sharpen their photos this much.  So use the contrast slider at your discretion.

Sometimes a photo will require some color / white balance adjustments due to lighting.  This was the SOOC photo of my camera at the beginning of the post.

Notice the yellow hues? When I take photos in my kitchen, such as photos of all the food we cook, the lighting casts a yellow hue on all the photos. Looking at the sliders, can you see the adjustment for white balance?

I moved the Temperature slider towards the blue a little bit, in order to get rid of the yellow hues in the photo.  And since any photos I take in the kitchen end up like this, I made myself a preset called "Kitchen Lighting Correction", which automatically adjusts the white balance to take out the yellow lighting.

In summary, processing photos in Lightroom is a quick way to sharpen up the photo and make the colors pop a little more.  I love it and use it everyday.  It saves me a ton of time, since I am processing photos everyday for Project 365.  Now you know all my photo processing secrets!  :)
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