Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Lights

Enough with the chatty - here's some pictures to enjoy!

Yes, this is my second post on Christmas Lights - quite a lot for this non-Christian. But it's because of this one tree:

Houstonian Christmas Tree - Back

Houstonian Christmas Tree

I happened upon it by accident, because of SuperShuttle. A patron was being dropped off there before I was to be dropped off: this was last year at Thanksgiving time. I hadn't seen a Christmas tree decorated like that before and due its size, it really caught my eye.

Now armed with my DSLR, I had to go back and recapture it. While a friend and I were trying to find the tree, we happened across a few other impressive displays, so I paid those a visit as well.

Candles & Wreath


A Row of Trees

11th & Heights

Variation on Tree & Ornaments

Small White Lit Trees

There are more on flickr, as usual.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy List, Week 5

Perfect Rose

In no particular order.

1. McDonalds fries. Yes, I've seen Super Size Me and yet I just can't break my occasional indulgence. Hands down my favorite fast food, one that I try to only indulge when I'm on the road.

2. My ability to pack my car efficiently. It's a practice I've been working on since I left for college and I've got it refined pretty well. I know generally what fits where when I'm the driver and I pack it so I can still use my rearview mirror.

3. Fountain sodas. I usually only drink Diet Coke when I have to (i.e. when I'm traveling and when I'm working and not sleeping much). I'm one of those weird ones who likes Diet Coke with Lime. When I can't find that, I'll combine Sprite & Diet Coke to get the next best thing. Therefore, I like when I can mix my own drink versus getting one handed to me.

4. Chocolate Bar. Because it has chocolate-y goodness and has some great cakes and ice cream. A good welcome-back-to-Houston place to go.

5. Febreeze. Because febreeze is probably one of the main reasons why my apartment doesn't stink from the Refrigerator Fiasco.

6. Michael's Arts and Crafts clearance bins for putting some cross-stitch projects I've been looking at on clearance. Because of that, I got 4 projects for the price of two - with the help of their 50% off coupon as well.

7. House of Pies. Its greasy goodness was missed - it's a cute little diner and you never really know who you'll run into there. Ran into random opera star unexpectedly (he has family in town).

8. IHOP for being open on Christmas Day when this poor traveler was a-travelin'. And for having good food, too.

9. Google Maps for teasing me by routing me by two of my to-do list locations. At least it refreshes my drive and desire to knock places off my list.

10. AT&T U-Verse for it's pretty darn amazing DVR system and the fact that you can program it from afar. It helped me maintain my DVR list so I have all new-to-me episodes waiting for my arrival.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Welcome Home - A Numbers List

215: the number of days since I have set foot in my apartment (yikes!)

7: the number of months those days represent

2: the number of seasons that have passed (in theory, since Houston has a complete lack of seasons)

2: the number of interesting events I have missed while I was gone (Hurricane Ike, snow in Houston)

3: the number of contracts I've completed in that time

at least 9: the number of friends visited in my downtime between contracts

countless: the number of kisses and cuddles from both of my adorable pups, Tommy & Pippin

far too many: the number of photos taken between May and December

14: the number of hours (give or take an hour or two) spent driving on Christmas day & Boxing Day

6: the number of trips back and forth from the car to my apartment (at least)

5: the number of dead bugs I found upon arrival (but at least I knew my extermination request went through)

countless: the number of kleenexes used by this poor allergy-ridden blog writer - between the dust and Houston's own special mix, I'm in hell temporarily.

70,000: the milestone milage that my car surpassed somewhere just outside of Texarkana, TX.

16: the number of items on my self-imposed to-do list (so far, it grows gradually during the day as I think of more items)

6: the number of hours I've slept the last two nights, each night, not in total.

3: the number of pillows in my very own bed which I get to sleep in tonight

3: the number of blankets run through the washer/drier due to possible Ike/fumigation contamination

1: the amount of laundry loads done in addition (bedsheets/towels)

1: the number of working sinks in my apartment (out of two).

2: the number of items on my maintenance request.

1: the number of trash bags used so far

2: the number of recycling bags ready to go

1: the number of boxes filled for Goodwill (more to come, hopefully, because I haven't even started)

110: the number of programs waiting to be watched on my DVR

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Driving Thoughts

Today I spent practically all day in the car - no kidding... driving from St. Louis, MO to Texarkana, TX. The good thing? Low traffic volume... The bad thing? No one answers the phone (not that I was really expecting it). I do pretty well (though I do complain about it beforehand) on long car drives: I can amuse myself with my iPod music pretty well but occasionally I just need to talk on the phone for a few minutes to get the brain refocused again. I left several messages, not expecting anyone to pick up. But you never know, so I tried. My parents, of course, obligingly talked to me a few times but I had pre-warned them that I would probably be relying on them for these every-so-often check-ins.

So therefore, I had a lot of time to think. Nothing incredibly constructive, just more thinking and ruminations on my career future. And unfortunately, nothing exactly worth sharing.

I also happened to notice some very amusing things along the way. Such as the fact that I drove by not one, but TWO of my list items today. Hot Springs National Park AND Crater of Diamonds. If I'd actually thought about it, I could have crossed TWO things off during my drive-through Arkansas! Alas, I did not research ahead and I'll have to save it for next time. But now I know they're both on I-30 and relatively close in proximity. Bonus!

Ah well... hindsight is 20/20 as they say. I've a shorter drive tomorrow and I'll arrive at my apartment at long last (7 months now?). I've a host of packages to pick up and some accumulated mail, I'm sure. My forwarding ended on the 10th, but I unexpectedly stayed in STL longer than that.

And it's truth time to see exactly how my apartment has fared. I have reliable reports and a few attempts at odor-busting; but we'll see how time has affected it. I'm also hoping that my so-called complex has done the fumigation I requested (no acknowledgement on request) and fixed the broken refrigerator (theoretically confirmed fixed).

I'll believe it all when I see it. Call me a pessimist but really, I'm a realist.


I have landed, as I've said before, in Arkansas (or am I in Texas?) at the La Quinta. Except there's TWO of them in very close proximity and I went to the wrong one first. Very confusing. My second issue (and one I've already encountered today): food. Most fast food places are not open on Christmas. I got denied my favorite driving food: McDonald's fries. I had to settle for Hardees and reluctantly so. Tonight was more of a problem than I had anticipated. Thankfully the Hooters near my hotel was closed but my only other options were Denny's and IHOP. Thankfully, IHOP was busy but efficient and I got my to-go order in short order.

I'm looking forward to having more options available for me tomorrow - including a grocery store as ALL of my food in my refrigerator/freezer fell victim to Ike.

At least gas has been easy to find and at very welcome prices! And thanks to my lovely little car, I've been averaging about 32 mpg! No pictures on this post, they shall return soon!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy List, Week 4

Perfect Rose

Here we go again:

1. Frank and Helen's Pizza. It's a little Mom and Pop pizza joint that my family and I have been going to for as long as I can remember. I used to sit up on the counter when I was really little (they have an abnormally high counter) and we used to call them like clockwork every Sunday. They used to have our order down pat. Every time I'm in town, I beg my parents to have F&H's at least once. It's SO good and no one can duplicate it.

2. The new Polartec. The new Polartec is warmer, fleecier, softer and closer-knit. It is SO great. And with this chillier in STL than Alaska (WTF?) weather, I'm learning to love it even more.

3. Facebook because it lets you reconnect with those from your past. A classmate from elementary school just found me. She's married and has FIVE kids! Holy cow! I feel a little behind! But seriously, I haven't talked to her in YEARS. Go facebook for facilitating reconnections like this.

4. Christmas lights. For the low-light photography lover in me, Christmas time allows me a lot more fun than photographing neon at night. Plus, some people get really into their displays and they're a lot of fun to capture. And with the advent of the new LED lights, the colors are truer and bluer. :) And yes, more fun to photograph.

5. Snickerdoodles. Because they are buttery, cinnamonly delicious. And yes, cinnamonly is not a word, so what?

6. Labrador pups. Eight week old pups are just too adorable for words. Unfortunately they tend not to hold still long enough to get a good non-flash picture without taking a million frames.

7. Electric blankets. For the deep chill of the night, they are a lifesaver. My room has two outside walls (one outside and one large window), so I often feel like my room is one of the colder ones in the house. Without my electric blanket, I would be so very cold.

8. Christmas music. Even though I don't celebrate it, I do enjoy a good christmas carol - and bonus points if it's an old-fashioned one by singers like Bing Crosby.

9. Puffs Plus with Lotion. I've had a major attack of allergies this weekend and when that happens, I get very friendly with my Kleenex box. Thank goodness for Puffs with Lotion. They help me not resemble Rudolph.

10. Giving new toys to my pups. Some of their toys have worn out their welcome (or rather, have been loved to bits) so it was time to switch some out. The pups LOVE getting new toys and it is so worth it to see their tails wag so fast that you can hardly see them. They were both over the moon when they first got them several hours ago; and they're STILL over the moon about them now.

Almost didn't have quite enough this week - but perhaps that's because I'm shivering at my desk and want to get into my warm bed. It's TOO cold outside!

Christmas Time...

... is almost here.

My family doesn't celebrate Christmas yet we've spent the last three nights doing Christmas-y things. Friday, a Manhattan Transfer concert. Saturday, a neighbor's wonderfully sung cabaret of Christmas tunes and today, a tour through a St. Louis tradition.

The Winter Wonderland in Tilles Park has been around since 1986. Hosted by the Parks Service of St. Louis, it is a sight to behold. We have often driven by during the day but never braved the line of cars on McKnight Road to enter. While my mom and I were driving around waiting for Brentwood Blvd's little neighborhood to turn on its blue lights that have fascinated me so, we headed over to Tilles to see what all the fuss was about. Luckily, or unluckily, the Wonderland was open, but only to carriages. So we vowed to return after driving past it yet again.

Despite the seriously chilly temperatures (can you say single digits and don't tell me the windchill), we all piled into the car. I was armed with the camera but unwilling to deep-freeze us by rolling down the window unless absolutely necessary. The line of cars (with headlights off, but unfortunately still with brake lights) moved slowly enough that I managed to get some really decent pictures.

I over-shot of course, not knowing which ones would turn out. When I put the card in, there were 713 pictures; but there were pictures from other nights than this. All in all, I threw out a good 500-odd photos that just weren't right and came up with a respectable 30-odd photos that I was fairly pleased with. There's still some red brake light glare, or it wasn't perfectly captured - but it's still pretty amazing since most pictures were taken in motion.

Here's a select few highlights:

Wreath Tunnel


Waving Santa

See the rest here.

As I said before, we don't celebrate Christmas, but there's something to be said about driving through this 'winter wonderland' listening to good, old-fashioned and classic Christmas songs on the radio. It just feels like the holidays to me. Plus, it was freaking freezing out and we were bundled up like crazy.

Next up: Happy List, Week 4. And yes, I didn't post last (Saturday) night) because I was attacked by allergies and went to bed early. Ah well, nobody's perfect!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Old-Fashioned Mic

Tonight, a college friend was in town every so briefly, on tour with Manhattan Transfer. She hooked me and my parents up with tickets and we enjoyed a lovely evening's entertainment. She & the group literally change cities every single day. Yesterday, they were in Des Moines and tomorrow they'll be in Lexington. Talk about a busy tour! But it must be a lot of fun.

Tomorrow, we go see our neighbor MK perform in a cabaret - it's a musical weekend for us!

Hopefully the weather will cooperate soon and I can start posting new pictures instead of oldies but goodies.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hei Matau

This is my souvenir/holiday gift from my parents from their trip to New Zealand. I wanted to share it on this blog not only because of its beauty but because of all the meaning behind the shape.

It is hand-carved by the Maori and the shape is called Fishhook. It is a "device for catching good luck & positive energy. It provides a safe journey, especially over water & represents strength, peace, prosperity & good health."

And its absolutely gorgeous too! What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Rose & leaves

I caught up with a good friend today - a colleague-turned-friend actually. A friend whom helped me survived last year. And without whom I probably would be a different person. Seriously. She was one of the best things that came out of it.

And it reminded me how good it was to have friends both inside and outside of the business. Because when you try to explain your reasoning about work to people who don't understand it, it takes so much longer to explain. Today, she just got it. She understood me; because in some ways we're in similar situations. And we were able to discuss options easily and compare notes.

I really do enjoy the holidays because it allows all of us who live in this fast-paced world to slow down a little and reconnect with those who we've lost in touch with.

I'm gearing up to head back into the 'personal time is almost nil due to work' late next month - so I've got to learn how to treasure what free time I've got.

And I've got to go home and face the reality of my apartment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts on LA


My thoughts today, thanks to some singer colleagues are towards LA today. A few former Studio Artists are out in LA for a bit, and I made some restaurant recommendations which really got me thinking about how much I miss some of those restaurants.

Here are some of my favorites, in case you're ever in the area.

Yang Chow. Hands down the best chinese food I have had. Slippery shrimp are a Yang Chow specialty and aren't to be missed. I've even see Yang Chow friend rice listed in other chinese restaurants elsewhere in the country. Coincidence? I think not. And I've yet to find a version of slippery shrimp elsewhere in the country. Great locations in Chinatown (a little busy at lunch) and in Pasadena, a mere three blocks or so from my old apartment.

President Thai. Best Thai I've ever had. There's a dish there called Chicken Noodle which I also haven't found elsewhere in the country, not for lack of trying. I came close in Brookline, MA, this summer, but it just wasn't the same. Did I mention this place was two blocks from my apartment in Pasadena?

Amalfi's A really good italian place in a little restaurant near downtown Pasadena. Not quite in Old Town, and a little off the main drag but damn tasty stuff.

There's a great Mongolian BBQ place that is at Rosemead and Colorado whose name I can't recall but it was mighty tasty too.

I'm sure there's more tasty places that I adored, but those certainly top the list.

Damn, I really really want some Yang Chow now... damn it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sugar Cookies

Hands-down, my favorite cookies. Especially when done right - and many people don't do them the way I like them. I've been using this recipe for as long as I can remember - the newspaper-cut-out is aged onto the index card which looks equally worn. It's the card I've had my mom photocopy for me on numerous occasions when I needed a good cookie recipe (because I keep filing it in a place I can't find again).

I even shared it recently with Little Miss Bossy who was seeking good cookie recipes. It make be traditional and non-exciting, but it's tasty!

My big battle every year is how to keep the sprinkles that I love (the hard, round nonpareil kind) to stay on. They're pretty stubborn and like to flee whenever possible. But I had a brainstorm this year - roll them into the dough! I think I may have stumbled onto a baker's secret!

Rolling Out the Dough

The dough above leads to this:

A Trifecta of Perfection

which leads to the impressive yield from the recipe:

Cookies for Miles

Pretty yummy, if I do say so myself. I'm looking forward to savoring these during the next several months - thank goodness for freezers!

Oops.../Happy List, Week 3

Perfect Rose

I forgot Sunday! It was a bit of a crazy day yesterday and time ran away. I guess I'll have to double post today to make up for it. And by double post, meaning two note-worthy posts instead of this little pathetic excuse.

Let's start with a Happy List, Week 3:

1. Kitchen-Aid mixers. I want one, but not until I stop moving all the time and when they're less expensive. Or I'll just wait and register for one when I get married.

2. Rainbow nonpareil sprinkles. My favorite cookie topping ever. Other sprinkles are just not the same.

3. Sugar Cookies. My favorite cookie of all time because you can add almost anything as topping or leave it plain and it's still a good cookie. Plus the recipe I've used for years makes a gajillion of them - enough to share and enough to keep.

4. Cuddly puppies. I'm dog-sitting for a few days with my pups; and when the parents are gone, the pups get extra clingy and cuddly. It's really quite adorable. And when the temperature drops really low, its very warm too!

5. Ziploc bags. Yes, it's a funny item to include but they're really quite useful when you're trying to reduce the area taken up by something boxy and also are great for organizing.

6. Cheez-It Duoz Sharp Cheddar/Parmesan: great late-nite snack when you're hungry but not hungry for something specific. Thanks to LK for introducing me to those back in August.

7. Good friends who despite their schedule are able to reconnect - even if it's for a few minutes and takes more than a few tries. I am really trying to get better about keeping in touch with people. It's a whole reversal of last winter.

8. My 1TB external hard drive. For being half "Time Machine" - Apple's unique snapshot back-up system and being half "I don't have room for this" storage space. My computer is about three years old, and going pretty strong. Some of the keys are a little worn but no major problems so far. Except for the great lack of HD space. I tried to get a bigger HD, but they just weren't making them then. And guess what is overpopulating my HD? Pictures.

9. Presents. I really enjoy giving presents, and knowing that I picked a good one. A friend once told me I have quite the knack - and I'd like to say that it's true a good majority of the time - especially if I have the time to think about it. This year, my presents aren't big, but they're meaningful.

10. the Holidays. Because no matter how busy people are, they still manage to find time because it is family time. And those of us that do not have families of our own? We connect with each other.

This list was a little harder this week because there wasn't anything super exciting that happened in the last week. I came back from Chicago; and continued my West Wing marathon inbetween other obligations. Pretty much of a homebody and I loved it.

Now, it's time to go to the kitchen for cookie baking - perhaps my next post will involve pictures - as long as I don't get the camera all flour-y!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cloud Gate aka the Bean

I wish more cities had something like this in their downtown:


It is a beautiful sculpture in its own right but for a photographer - it's a lot of fun to photograph. A unique shape, a reflective surface and a beautiful skyline to reflect in aforementioned mirrored surface. Plus, it has fluid lines to it which make it even more fun to shoot pictures like this:

Reflected Skyline


Melting Snow

I'm thankful for art like this. I know I bugged my friends to visit it, but it was well-worth it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Best Laid Plans...

... for an entry, but here it is, almost Saturday, and I can't miss a day. Unexpectedly went to see Australia tonight with parents and friends. Very Baz Luhrmann, very lovely film. Not the world's greatest movie, no - but definitely lovely to look at. More than a few corny moments, but ah well - it wouldn't be a Baz film without it.

I share with you tonight this:

Well-Lit Tree

I really do love low-light pictures - I can't say exactly why. Perhaps its the challenge to get it 'just right' or what-have-you. But I really enjoy the holiday season because of all the new opportunities out there. And sometimes people get creative, just like this, and make me happy because of its beauty and the challenges required to capture said beauty.

Here's to catching more before the season's out...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Task #22: Visit all the National Parks in the continental United States.

Death Valley Dunes

There are 58 national parks, according to Wikipedia... and I am going to eliminate 12 of them from the list because they are not in the continental United States. Maybe, after I get all of the other things on my list accomplished, I'll attempt those. But there are 8 alone in Alaska, and I will probably not even have time to visit one or two; and they are all VERY far away from Anchorage. If the opportunity presents itself, I shall visit - but I would NEVER be able to accomplish an all-encompassing visit to all without being, well, a millionaire.

Those 'officially' eliminated are: Denali National Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Katmai National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kobuk Valley National Park, Lake Clark National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. I should add on National Park of American Samoa and Virgin Islands which are also not in the continental United States.

Here's my next conundrum: when I was younger, my family and I used to visit a national park (or two?) almost every summer. I've visited a whole ton, but I don't remember all of them equally vividly.

Visited But Don't Remember Clearly and/or Would Like To Revisit: (6)
Acadia (Maine), Badlands (South Dakota), Black Canyon (Colorado), Bryce Canyon (Utah), Crater Lake (Oregon), Yellowstone (Wyoming),

Visited and Remember Clearly and/or Visited Post-College: (8)
Death Valley National Park (California), Glacier National Park (Montana), Grand Canyon (Arizona), Grand Teton (Wyoming), Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina/Tennessee), Joshua Tree (California), Mesa Verde (Colorado), Rocky Mountains (Colorado),

Still Need to Visit: (31)
Arches (Utah), Big Bend (Texas), Biscayne (Florida), Canyonlands (Utah), Capitol Reef (Utah), Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico), Channel Islands (California), Congaree (South Carolina), Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio), Dry Tortugas (Florida), Everglades (Florida), Great Sand Dunes (Colorado), Guadalupe Mountains (Texas), Hot Springs (Arkansas), Isle Royale (Michigan), Kings Canyon (California), Lassen Volcanic (California), Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), Mount Rainier (Washington), North Cascades (Washington), Olympic (Washington), Petrified Forest (Arizona),. Redwood (California), Saguaro (Arizona), Sequoia (California), Shenandoah (Virgina), Theodore Roosevelt (North Dakota), Voyaguers (Minnesota), Wind Cave (South Dakota), Yosemite (California), Zion (Utah)

That's quite an impressive list to still accomplish. I'll probably aim for "still need to visit" first; followed by the ones I'd like to re-visit.

Time to get a National Parks pass, eh? At least this will help also cross states off my list!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chicago Highlights

This was a last minute, though loosely planned trip, to Chicago. Thanks to RT & HT for being so flexible in their plans! I managed to escape most of the bad weather on both ends; and had a blast while I was there. I can't wait to go back, especially when it is warmer.

Here are several of my favorite shots from this trip, in no particular order:

Heads Up! - Falling ice Chandelier


Watching Closely

Cloud Gate aka Bean

Center of the Bean II

Glass Globes Macy's Christmas Tree

I'm most proud of these pictures. The first was taken post-flight, hand-held, after sunset. I still can't believe it came out. The second was taken in-flight, while we were flying over the Lake. Again, though the ride was fairly smooth, I still had my zoom lens on and I can't believe it came out so clearly.

The Plane We Flew In

Chicago Skyline

Oh yeah, and you know those snowflakes we use as decoration in this season? Perfectly symmetrical, and all that? They really do exist... and I have the photo to prove it:

Snowflake - Up Close & Personal

Not every flake that fell on our coats that day was this perfect, but this one was magical!

As always, you can see more here, as there are many many more not included in this post.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Task #5 -Visit All 50 States

I'm back from Chicago; but am still filtering through the many, many pictures that were taken during my long weekend! In an attempt to try to post every day remaining in December, I am visiting task #5 on my Goals/To-List.

My goal is to visit all 50 states, with a stay of at least one night or longer. Just driving through the state does not count. These visits are being counted post-college only; and I haven't given myself an end date to accomplish these visits.

I can sort the 50 states into several categories: States I've Lived In, States I've Worked In, States Already Visited, States I'm Already Planning On and States That I Still Need To Visit. (In some cases, I've done lived/worked in the same state; they are only listed once.)

States I've Lived In: (4)
California, Indiana, Missouri, Texas [note: "lived in" means stayed for a period of longer than a show contract; and not necessarily tied to a contract either]

States I've Worked In: (7)
Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, New York, Utah

States Already Visited: (9)
Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia

States I'm Already Planning On: (3)
Alaska (Jan/Feb '09), Hawaii (Mar '09), Arkansas (nothing concrete yet, but see #36 of the List)

States That I Still Need To Visit: (27)
Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Having accomplished over half already makes me breathe a bit easier; but there are still 27 to go! 28, really.

Just out of pure amusement, if I'd counted driving though, I could have knocked off New Mexico, Ohio, and Tennessee. But that would be cheating - and I would really like to give those states more than a drive-by.

Photos will return soon, I promise! I've quite the backlog!

EDIT 12/11: As mom pointed out, I went to good ol PA for a wedding, so that does count!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy List, Week 2

Perfect Rose

Hey, look! I'm posting on a Monday. You'd think with all this free time, I'd have time to blog more. Maybe it's time for a new resolution... except I've already missed a few days in December... but I know I'll have reasonable access to the internet for this entire month (versus next month), so perhaps this is the way to go!

Anyhow, more on that later, on to my happy list for the week which is actually posted on a Monday! Again, in no particular order:

1. My new warm coat, scarf, gloves, hat, mittens. I've ventured up to the continental US version of Alaskan weather: Chicago. A good testing ground for my newfound winter clothes. Winners all around!

2. Really good friends from college. They're the best. I need to remember that when I'm unhappy for any reason, and call them so they can cheer me up.

3. Specifically, RT and HT for hosting me last-minute when I realized that December was slipping away quicker than I thought and I'd promised a visit! And also to RT's family for welcoming (and remembering) me as well!

4. RT for being a pilot and taking me out for a spin yesterday at dusk. Chicago is an amazing city, especially when viewed at about 3000 feet. And I have the pictures to prove it.

5. Downtown Chicago - in all of its Christmas splendor. Despite the cold, it's a great city and I'm really happy to be here!

Are you seeing a trend here?

6. My camera. I really do love it and I've been taking SO many pictures. I have lots of good subjects including RT's sister, A's lovely two pups and R&H T's adorable pup. My camera and its gear is proving itself worth every penny I paid.

7. My new-found ability to pack light. This must transfer to when I pack for Alaska. EEK!

8. My pups for just plain being cute. They are certainly loving to cuddle this time around, especially the wiggly one. I'm not complaining.

9. The West Wing because the show is brilliant. Even after Aaron Sorkin left and the really good writing went out the door, the actors can still make it watchable. Thank goodness.

10. Purple for being the in-color this season - and in exactly the shade that I adore. I love purple, but I'm super-picky about the shade.

11. Eddie Bauer and its fabulous sales. They ain't cheap, but they make excellent clothing, especially for cold weather, and their holiday discounts have made it more affordable for this gal.

12. Holiday sales in general. The economy may be tanking, and retailers may be getting desperate - but I'm certainly benefiting from it - especially when the purchase were fairly mandatory versus optional.

Hey look, I did more than 10! Guess I have a lot to be happy about this week.

(p.s. did I mention that the happy list usually pertains to the week previous?)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy List, Week 1

Perfect Rose

I am going to try to do these on Monday... but obviously, I've missed the boat this week. In no particular order...

1. The noises that Pippin makes when she first wakes up. They're little, cute, and virtually indescribable, and will make any person melt.

2. The manner in which Tommy sleeps: upside down on his back, all stretched out, and completely relaxed.

3. The unconditional love from my adorable pups. Especially amazing when they cuddle with me (Tommy especially) and stare into my eyes like I'm the best person ever.

4. Deep-Fried (really flash-fried) Philly Roll at Drunken Fish sushi. The best sushi I have ever had. It's a Philly Roll that gets dipped lightly in a thin tempura batter and flash-fried.

5. Oliver Winery wines. Just enough sweet for me, not too sweet to alienate others.

6. Bargain shopping. Contrary to public belief, I don't love shopping, but when I need to shop, I bargain hunt like crazy. The phone helps me out on this for comparison shopping is king. If I'm going to part with my hard-earned money, I'm going to spend it wisely.

7. My iPhone, one of my favorite purchases ever. How did I ever survive without one?

8. Polartec socks. AMAZING. My new favorites.

9. Botan Rice Candy. You know those little green and red boxes from those little Asian grocery stores. They have rice paper wrapping on the candy that you can eat!

10. REI. They helped me purchase necessities for this winter without breaking the bank... much. I would've spent a lot more money elsewhere. And thank goodness for their sale!