Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gabriel Byrne Sounds Like Shrek

and why I love NPR (National Public Radio). During my 15 minute drives to work and back, I listen to NPR. I am always mesmerized by how NPR takes me away to distant lands, educates me about new books I'm dying to read, and just generally makes me a better citizen of the world. Today I heard an interview with the actor Gabriel Byrne on "Fresh Air". It was very interesting. He grew up in Ireland and was going to be a priest. He had some interesting things to say, but all I could think of when I was listening was, "Gabriel Byrne sounds like Shrek!" I've linked the interview, so you can listen and see if you think he sounds like Shrek too. At lunch today, I went to Target to return the fat scale. We decided it was very inaccurate and inconsistent. The first time I stepped on it, it told me I was 23.5% fat. Then a few days later, it kept telling me I was 5.3% fat. REALLY??? I had no idea my weight training at the gym worked instantaneously like that! Wow! Anyways, I returned the scale and got a Jodi Picoult book. Isn't Target evil like that? I've never read any of Jodi Picoult's books, so I'm curious to see why they're so popular. I picked up "Nineteen Minutes". Has anyone read it? I also just got a Bible study book by Beth Moore called "Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman". My web friend Becky went through the study with a group of women, and she highly recommends it. I'm looking forward to it. Today nobody came to the house to work on the remodel. They finished sanding and texturing the drywall yesterday. Today it's dried up and now is looking pretty good! I made an attempt at a very simple hybrid card today. I bought some blank embossed cards and ran some Colorbox Queue fluid chalk ink over the raised circles. They turned out not so precise and kinda messy, because the ink pad was too soft to run over the barely raised circles. I'm not sure what other kind of coloring tool to use... maybe something harder and less mushy. Anyways, I used CD Muckosky's Happy Dance Alphas and Paislee Press' Hoopla: Oh Happy Day paper for the digital part in the middle, which I printed out on matte photo paper and glued onto the card. It's hard to believe that today's the last day of April already. I've made it four months into Project 365! One third of the way there! Yaaaaaaaay!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blue Painted Sky

I had to go to Home Depot at lunch today to pick out the paint color for the master bath ceiling. Our contractor needed the colors picked out by today, because painting starts on Friday. Based on the tiles we've picked out for the shower and floor, there's a definite beach/ocean thing going on. So I decided to pick a light blue color for the ceiling. This photo doesn't show the color very well, but I picked the "Mineral Water" in the upper right. This is one of the tiles we picked out for the outside of the shower. Today was the last day for drywall! They sanded all the drywall and texturized them. I'm excited because the dirtiest part of the remodeling is behind us now! Tonight Todd's dad came over to practice the song for Uncle Marshall's funeral again. Todd also helped him with the slide show that will be shown at the funeral.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ave Maria

Todd's dad happens to be in town for a convention. He came over tonight and we had dinner together at Brett's BBQ. Then we came home and Todd and his dad practiced Todd's arrangement of Chris Botti's rendition of Ave Maria. They are playing this song together at Todd's uncle's funeral on Saturday in Reno. Todd's uncle slipped and fell and hit his head coming out of the bath about a month ago. Sadly he passed away last week. It seems that I've encountered a lot of death so far this year. I feel overwhelmed again. With my to-do list, with work, and with remodeling. I haven't had hardly any time to just relax and do nothing, even though I haven't been scrapping as much. Somehow all my time is taken up every day already. I wish I had some time to just relax. Tonight, I'm just sad and tired in general. I'm listening to my new Michael W. Smith CD "A New Hallelujah", but I feel like crying.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Renewal

I took the month of April off from scrapping for my creative teams, mainly due to healing my hurt right shoulder, and dealing with the remodeling mess. During this time, I've only scrapped when I've been inspired to, and I've scrapped my Project 365 weekly pages. It was so refreshing to have some time to look around the digi-scrapping land and soak in the new products out there and feel inspired all over again. I love my creative teams, but sometimes I was so busy creating for those teams that I forgot why I love scrapbooking so much. I've been on CT's for 15 months now, and this month off really clarified for me that I do love scrapbooking and there are many reasons why.
  • I love to be creative.
  • It's a way to express my existence. I was here. I am here. These are the moments of my life. These are the things I want to remember. These are my thoughts.
  • I love to learn new skills in Photoshop that help me in my creativity. I believe that an artist cannot be truly creative without knowing how to use her tools. She needs to be intimately familiar with the tools such that it's second nature. Knowing Photoshop well means my creative flow wouldn't be interrupted while I figure out how to do something. Of course I don't know everything yet, but learning it is exciting to me.
  • I love being in the scrapping community, hanging out with my friends.
  • I love to tell the stories of my life, good or bad. I accomplish this by blogging and scrapbooking.
  • I love to look at pretty things, just for its own sake.
  • I love to take photos.
  • My husband loves that I document the big and small moments of our lives. He enjoys reading my blog and looking at my pages.
So as my month-long hiatus comes to an end, I am filled with renewed energy and scrap inspirations again. Sometimes it's good to step back from something so that you can realize how much you love it all over again! At lunch today, I drove to Michaels because I needed to find a 6x6 scrapbook album. They don't carry 6x6 albums there. But I looked around the scrapbooking aisle and found this collection called "Offbeat" by Basic Grey. I totally fell in love with the mod-inspired patterns. I don't paper-scrap anymore, but if I did, I would totally buy this! I wish there were digital versions of this. But you know what I did find that I do have digital versions of? This collection by Zoe Pearn. The paper version is called "Playful Posies", but the digital version is called "Forget Me Not". I used to be on Zoe Pearn's CT and I loved this collection. It is so cool to see it in physical paper form! Oh, if you look at my blog design, the background is a lightened version of the green damask paper in the collection. And the flowers in my header are also from the collection. So fun! Tonight my good friend Lara invited us over to their house for dinner, since she knew we were remodeling our kitchen. It was SO fun to hang out with Lara & Rupert and the kids again. And Lara's cooking was delish! I over-stuffed myself. Good thing I'm going to the gym tomorrow.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Foot In Front Of The Other

I got up about two hours before Todd this morning. This is a common occurrence on the weekends. Especially now, since we're sleeping in the guest room. We don't have the heavy pull-down shades in the guest room, like we do in our bedroom. So I wake up with the morning light. I guess the only remedy to this is going to bed earlier, which is easier said than done. But help is on the way! Todd ordered the custom shades and they should arrive in a couple of weeks. I wanted to go running at the coast, but Todd had a lot to do today. He has to write and practice his Toastmasters speech for Tuesday, and he has to arrange a piece of music so that he and his dad can play it at his uncle's memorial service next weekend. Plus, I wasn't sure if Todd's knee was ready for a run anyways. But he was a trooper and came along with me to the ocean. He sat in the car, by the beach, and wrote his speech while I ran 4.3 miles. I ran from Cardiff to Encinitas and back. This is my favorite route that I've run often. I had planned to run 2.5 miles north, then turn around and head back. But around 2.2 miles, I ran into a street fair in downtown Encinitas. I tried to keep running, but there was just too many people in my way. So I turned around early and headed back. I got to Swami's and had to take a break and take some photos, since it was so gorgeous out today. I WAS HERE. I went down these stairs onto the beach. And ran on the beach part way back. After my run, Todd and I drove to Bongiornos in Solana Beach and had our favorite pizza meal there. In the afternoon, we picked the paint color for the bathroom. They will be finished with drywall later this week, and painting will be after that. Yesterday we picked up our sample tiles from Bedrosians. This is stuff we picked for the kitchen. Tonight I have to pay a bunch of bills, and maybe scrap my Project 365 weekly pages. I need to catch up on that! :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

NFL Draft Party

Today was the annual NFL (National Football League) Draft day. It is our annual tradition to have a party with AJ & Meera, watch the draft, and eat lots of food. We hadn't done it the last couple of years, but we revived our tradition this year. We showed up at AJ & Meera's house around 3:30pm. The draft had already started, but since they DVR'ed it, we were able to watch from the beginning and skip the boring parts. Of course, we were most interested in the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego Chargers. Meera prepared chips, crackers, and dips, and I ate too much. Here are the guys, wearing their team shirts. The girls: AJ & Todd, deeply enthralled by the players being picked: It is always so much fun to hang out with AJ & Meera. All four of us love to watch sports, and to eat, so it is always a perfect time together. And now we're training little Andon to cheer on our favorite teams as well! Another reason to go over to AJ & Meera's house is... they have a nice kitchen! Todd brought his raw ingredients and cooked a great meal of Seoul-ful Chicken with Minted Cucumbers. After dinner, Meera baked some fresh chocolate chip cookies for dessert. I ate too much. Tomorrow is clean-up day around the house. Hopefully I'll get a few miles of running in as well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Yay for Friday!

I don't know about you, but this week seemed like it went on forever. By the time I got out of work today I was sapped of energy. Today the drywallers came back and mudded and taped the walls in the kitchen. After watching the Cavs beat Detroit in the NBA playoffs again, we headed down to Hillcrest to pick up Sally and go to dinner. Parking was an adventure, but when we finally did find a space, we walked over to Bombay. Bombay used to be one of our favorite Indian restaurants, but since they changed chefs a couple of years ago, it hasn't been the same. It's still good though, just not the BEST Indian food like it was before. Sally digging into our massive amount of naan bread. MMM... yummo! After dinner, we walked across the street to a new dessert place called "The Coffee Cake" and got these to take over to Sally's house: They actually looked better than they tasted. I'm usually not one to shun dessert, especially chocolate ones, but these were overly sweet and lacked flavor. So we actually didn't eat them all! But we did chat with Sally about the remodeling and all kinds of stuff before heading home around 10:30pm. Before I forget, the birthday sale and festivities has began at Little Dreamer Designs tonight! It's LDD's 2nd birthday and you're invited to a 30% off sale! Make sure you download the newsletter for the challenge schedule (with prizes!) and for an in-depth look at the HUGE birthday collab kit called "Hoopla", featuring the LDD designers + awesome guest designers! The birthday sale is only through May 2, so don't wait! Here's my layout using some of the fantastic goodies in "Hoopla":

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stolen

I received a call from my credit card company's fraud alert department today. They wanted to verify some recent charges with me. Turns out my credit card number has been compromised. There was a charge of $1.44 from "NY Times" on 4/19. Nope, don't recognize that one. Then today, there is a charge of $616.85 from an online purchase at Profirad.de, apparently a cycling store. Nope, don't recognize that one either. So yes, a thief has gotten hold of one of my credit cards. The cc company told me the best thing to do is close this credit card number and they will issue me a new one. And they said of course I wouldn't be responsible for the charges. I think it's great that they have a fraud department looking for these things. So, being the curious person that I am, I started researching how this kind of credit card fraud can occur. This particular credit card of mine is one that I seldom use in brick & mortar stores. It is used mainly online. So I think this happened while shopping online. After some research, I've found that this is a frequent method for thieves. Store merchants use many different third-party Visa and Mastercard processing companies. The data could be compromised at any of these third party credit card processing companies. All it takes is a dishonest employee, or hacker who gets into the data. Then the credit card number is sold to thieves. They will first try a very small charge to your credit card, like the $1.44 that I received. Most people don't notice it, or deem it too insignificant to do anything about it. After they've verified that the credit card number works with the small charge, they will start charging bigger things on it, like the $616.85 charge. I found an article about this process at the Washington Post. I also found this good article on how to protect yourself. I am a very careful person. I don't get snail mail credit card statements in the mail anymore. I shred any mail with my name and address on it. When I shop online I always look for the "https" and the secured lock symbol in my browser. I am extremely careful at public places about showing my credit card numbers. Even at gas stations I cover up my credit card until it's time to swipe it. After swiping it I quickly cover the numbers up and stick it back in my pant pocket. I look for suspicious devices at ATM's that thieves install to swipe name and card numbers. When I have to put my pin number in anywhere, I go to the length of covering up the numbers with my other hand, or my entire body, as Sally will attest to on our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a few years ago. That saved me from thieves who tried to withdraw money from my checking account, because they tried the wrong pin too many times. I'm thinking that if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And if there are cyber thieves out there, there's not a whole lot I can do from my end to protect myself. However, I am going to sign up to use disposable one-time use credit card numbers to shop online. That way the thieves can steal that number, but it won't work for them because it's ONE-time use only. If anyone has any other good tips, feel free to comment here. Nobody came to work on the house today. The drywall guys will be back tomorrow. I called Eric the foreman this morning to tell him that they did a good job cleaning up the mishap yesterday. Told him I appreciated his responsiveness about it. I also told him I liked the placement of the canned lights in the bathroom ceiling. I don't want to be the kind of person who only provides negative feedback and never positive feedback. I remember some bosses I've had in the past who only told me when I did something wrong, but never praised me for doing the right things. I guess that's just expected. I try to not be like that. I think Eric was a little surprised, LOL. We grilled sausages outside for dinner tonight. Yay for the "kitchen" in the backyard! We had the sausages with salad. Total yummy-ness! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Small Victories

I have a hard time not eating free food sometimes. If it's there, and it's free, I eat some. I also have a hard time leaving food on my plate, even if the portion is too big for me. I don't like to waste food. I need to learn and realize that eating all the food on my plate, when it's too much, does have a personal cost to me. And that cost is extra fat so I can't run as fast. Extra taxing on my heart. Extra money I have to spend to keep buying bigger clothes to fit me. All these extras are not what I need. So today someone at my office pawned off this extra doughnut on me. I had politely declined but he insisted and left it on my desk. I took a bite. Then left it alone. I'm extra proud because of it. :) This morning started out not-so-good. The drywall guy, who is a sub-contractor, showed up at 7:20am. We were not expecting him so early. Remember how I said they took down all the plastic tarps that they taped up to function as room dividers yesterday? Well, they shouldn't have done that, because they knew today was drywall day. I didn't realize that putting up drywall is almost as dusty as demolition. So, we were upstairs showering and getting ready for work, and Mario the drywall guy got started hanging drywall downstairs in the kitchen. When I went downstairs over an hour later to go to work, I saw that Mario did not put up plastic to divide the room up again before hanging drywall in the kitchen. There was a thin layer of drywall dust in the family room, and the stuff was flying everywhere. I was going to leave and call our foreman Eric, but this other guy from the drywall company showed up. He told Mario it was too much dust and brought in plastic to tape up on the walls and ceiling. It was a little too late as a bunch of dust had blown into the family room already. So, I got to work and called Eric, I was pretty annoyed and angry. He called me back right away and apologized. He said he didn't know that Lou had taken down the plastic yesterday. And that this wasn't how they do things and he was going to call Jack, the owner of the drywall business, right away. He did, and called me back immediately. He apologized again and again and said he told them so many times to protect the area and they just don't seem to have common sense. He said the subcontractor knows they were wrong and he told me they would clean it up, and to tell him if the cleanup wasn't good enough. I was satisfied with Eric's sense of urgency. I know I would not want to have his job, that's for sure. After work, I made it to the gym again. And this time, I was the ONLY person there for over half an hour. I had all the machines to myself! Two more people showed up later. I did the elliptical machine to warm up, then I did 15 minutes of stairmaster. Then I did all the leg machines. Then I did abs and upper body machines, finishing up with a five minute elliptical cool-down. I went home and inspected the family room. It was clean enough. The walls are up! Here's the kitchen: Here's the double shower: We got a late start on dinner, but we went over to our next door neighbor Fred & Annie's house to cook dinner. Todd made pasta with roasted veggies and fresh sausage in marinara sauce. It was simply delicious! Then we made strawberry milkshakes with the strawberries we picked on Sunday. Now I'm extra-glad that I didn't eat the dough-nut! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Holey Batman!

I came home from work today and my bubble world was gone! All the clear tarps that divided the living areas from the areas being remodeled were taken down. Then there were holes in several places, like this: They are finishing up the electrical work and need to route the new circuits in the kitchen to the circuit board outside the garage. Since this was the first floor, they can't go up into the attic, so they made holes. Our house looks extra spacious right now, because the tarp dividers are gone, and there's no kitchen. So I took the opportunity to take some photos so that you get the overall picture of what's happening. This is the view from the family room into the kitchen. This is the view from the kitchen into the family room. It'll be different when the kitchen is done, because the peninsula will obstruct the view into the family room. Finally here's some new stuff that's happened in the last couple of days. The tar in the shower to waterproof the bottom: The new window in the shower went in today: A little while after I came home, Todd came home with fish tacos from Rubios. It's Fish Taco Tuesday at Rubios, so they're only $1.25 each! I was too busy eating to take photos of it. :p Todd was excited to watch his Cleveland Cavaliers stomp on the Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs. We never used to eat dinner on the couch in front of the TV, so it seems like we're kids getting away with something, LOL.

Monday, April 20, 2009

98 Degrees and Rising

Today it reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit where I live. It was in the 90's even on the coast. We broke the high temp records everywhere! It. Was. Hot. So combine that with today being the day that that they waterproof our new shower with a "hot mop" of tar... our house was stuffy, hot, and stunk of tar when we got home. It was really gross. We quickly opened all the windows and turned on all the fans. Luckily the smell was much less strong after we got home from a Thai dinner and Target trip. I've decided to start regular strength training again. My shoulder is 95% recovered, so it was time. Every time that I've lost fat in the past, there was weight training involved. So, I'm going to try and not pay attention to the scale in pounds, but get my fat % down and muscle % up. I got myself a scale at Target that measures Fat%, Muscle %, Bone Density, and Water %. I'll record the progress once a week only, and not obsess about it. :) So, I brought my gym clothes today to work and went to my work gym after work. I'm quite fortunate that I have a gym at work, right downstairs and across the courtyard. It is VERY convenient and it costs me only around $13/month. It's not huge, but there's not that many people taking advantage of it, so it's quite enough. As you can see, there was nobody there when I arrived. A few minutes later, there were three other guys. I did a 10 minute stairmaster warm up. Then I did leg machines, then lat pulldowns, then arm machines, finishing up with some free weights for bicep curls and tricep lifts. I feel good that I'm taking this step. As you know, April is Autism Awareness Month. I may have mentioned in the past that my nephew is autistic and non-verbal. I know from personal experience from my sister how much therapy and biomedical treatments not covered by insurance can put a strain on a family's finances. That's why I need to tell you about what's going on at Pixel Gypsy Designs this month. Pixel Gypsy Designs has partnered with the National Autism Association to raise money for the Helping Hand program during Autism Awareness month. The Helping Hand program is a donation driven, financial aid program that provides grant money to families in need who have dependents with Autism to help pay for therapy, biomedical treatments and supplements. Donate $10 and receive the Uniquely You Mega Collab Kit: Donate over $10 and receive the Uniquely You Mega Collab Kit PLUS a PGD Gift Certificate equal to the amount that you donated over $10 (example: donate $50 to helping hand and receive the mega collab plus a $40 gift certificate)! You can read more and learn how to donate HERE. Please check it out. One important distinction that I want to point out is that you will be donating DIRECTLY to the Helping Hand Program at a special link provided at the Pixel Gypsy site. That way there is no question where your money has gone. You will receive an email receipt directly from the NAA, and your donation is tax-deductible. You will receive your download links for the kit within 24 hours after your donation. Thanks in advance for your support!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever

It's 9:45 PM at night and it's still 80 degrees outside. Wow, that's unusual for April here. It was actually in the low 90's during the day! Today we met up with our friends AJ & Meera and their son Andon in Carlsbad. We all had lunch together at Ruby's Diner to celebrate AJ's birthday. I had Kobe beef sliders, but they were so greasy that I didn't eat the bottom of the buns. But it was great to be with good friends, in such great weather outside. After lunch, we headed over to Carlsbad Strawberry Company to pick some strawberries. None of us have done this before, even though we've all lived here a long time. You buy the buckets and then it's all you can pick, eat, and fit in the bucket. Strawberry fields for as far as the eye can see. We walked pretty far to an area where it wasn't already picked over. The lanes were narrow so it was hard to squat way down. I didn't find any really big strawberries, but most of them looked like this: Todd and I picked some and ate some, picked some and ate some. Everyone was trying to find the best strawberries. Todd showing off his loot: Andon showing off his loot: There was an ocean breeze there so it wasn't actually hot, but quite pleasant. We made sure we had sunscreen on and enjoyed the afternoon sun. After we filled our buckets, it was time to go home. The guys with our strawberries: We spent the rest of the day researching more stuff that we have to buy for the remodel. Stuff like bathroom mirrors, vanity lights, faucets, etc. And we took notes for stuff to discuss with our contractor tomorrow. Oh and I got to write a really big check for a progress payment, which was not fun.

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