Tuesday, June 29, 2010

College in Your Pajamas!

Last night, while watching "Work Of Art" (a new reality show similar to "Top Chef" but about artists instead of chefs), this brilliant little infomercial aired. 

Really, can you think of a smarter, more convenient way to get a degree?!  I love learning new things in my pajamas, don't you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ancient Chinese Secrets

Every few months, my husband and I get together with a group of friends for a dinner party.  Years ago, someone in the group wrote down the names of lots of countries on different little slips of paper and put them in a container.  Each time we meet, the next country is drawn at the end of the night.

It's not an outrageous amount of work for anyone, no matter how many people come, because everyone brings a dish.  We end up with tons of food, and everyone learns a little something about the dishes from the selected country.

So for China night, I decided to make Spring Rolls.  I'm not a big fan of fried foods, so there was no cooking involved.  Just some chopping, wetting, and rolling.  I have to admit, a cheated a bit and got my dipping sauce from Pei Wei, because in my opinion, theirs is the best.  And I go there often enough that they were happy to give me loads of it for free!  Yay!  I love free!

I boiled some rice noodles and used those, along with chopped  cucumbers, carrots, peanuts, baby shrimp, and cilantro.
Then I took these spring roll wrappers, and soaked them (one at a time!) in hot water until they became soft and very bendable.
The final step was to put those chopped ingredients in the middle of the wrapper and roll things up neatly and tightly.  And voila!  (Altho, I don't think that is the proper Chinese word...) 

I have to admit, I was so tired of assemblage that I had to lay down for a short nap after I was all finished!

Which left my husband completely on his own for the making of the home-made fortune cookies.  I was so impressed by his work!  I don't know exactly what recipe he followed, but I know it involved some sugar, egg whites, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extract, and perhaps a few other ancient Chinese secret ingredients. 
The country selected for our next dinner party is Mexico.  So guess who's hosting? The Arista's~  Ole!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Right Where You Are

Another trip around the sun has come and gone for me.

Although I was stuck at home without a car (mine had to be towed in to the shop the day before-- boo!!), I still had a glorious birthday.
my video watching buddies!

Being stuck at home was certainly not a bad thing.  I had my sweet girls with me, and we watched a couple of those DVD's I mentioned in my last post.  I got to look back and see video of Fermin and me in our first home, when we were very recently married. We were oh so young- and oooh, he was just so handsome!  And honestly, he is even more attractive now than he was then.

Dad revealed to me at lunch yesterday, that Fermin had called him to make sure Dad remembered my birthday (which he totally did and would have even without the call~) and let him know I was stuck at home without a car.  So Dad took care of that, and we had a great lunch out at one of my very favorite spots! I'm lucky for the men in my life!

Here's a video from just a few months ago that I haven't posted up before.  It's a song called Right Where You Are, and it's available on my CD called Walk Beside Me.  Sarah Reinke is playing cello, and Aaron Thomas is on percussion.  

You're a bright shiny penny- worth a million bucks
When I picked you up I found a whole lotta luck
You're the front row center, you're the first in line
So wherever you go, let me stay by your side

We're better together, I'm better by far
So whenever, wherever, let me stay where you are
Yeah right where you are

You're the masterpiece, you're the perfect prize
You're the apple in both of my eyes
And there must be something right about me
Cuz I picked you and you picked me


I like to think that we make the perfect pair
That I measure up to something way up there
You're the fat-full moon, you're the stars above
Cupid shot his arrow and I am so in love

You're the melody I whistle, and you're the wish that I make
You're the reason for the season, you're the icing on the cake
You're the perfect ending to my perfect day
The magical stuff of what my dreams are made...


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Several months ago, I donated an old amoire that took up way too much room in our little home.  Before dropping it off at Goodwill, I cleaned it out and found all sorts of stuff I hadn't seen in years.

I found lots of old VHS tapes.  Some were from way back, some from not so very long ago.  Some were labeled, some were not.  But none of them could be viewed because we no longer even have a VHS player.

I knew of this little place called U-Edit, that I had used to convert old cassette tapes into CDs.  When I got the CDs back, I got to hear audio of a 6-year-old version of myself singing "Boogie on Reggae Woman", "The Way We Were", and lots of my other then favorites.

When we had Mom's memorial service, we used U-Edit again to put pictures and video clips of her together with music.  It turned out really nice.

So when I wanted to convert these tapes into something viewable, I knew just where to go.

Their prices are pretty fair, and they get even more fair if you're willing to wait and not rush the job. So to save money, I took the slowest route.  I paid my deposit, thanked them in advance, walked out the door and forgot about it.

Until this week, which happens to be the week of my birthday, I got a call that my DVDs were ready for pick up!
 Now I've got loads of good home videos to watch.  With some of these tapes, I know what to expect.  But with others~... no idea.  All sorts of gifts, and some of them will be surprises.  I'm so excited to watch them.  But honestly, a little emotional and almost scared about them, too.  I know I'm going to see video of Mom when she was alive.  I haven't seen a moving visual of her since her memorial service.  Although I have a copy of the DVD we used at her service, I haven't been able to watch it again since that day.

Maybe now is the perfect time for a little nostalgia--

Friday, June 18, 2010

Better for the Wear

Lately I've been visiting so many lovely blogs of lots of different visual artists and crafters.  I love looking at their work- especially when it's something in it's beginning stages.  It's a little scary to post something when it's not in it's finished form. 

I got familiar with doing that with my songs when I participated in an online challenge called "50 Songs in 90 Days."  Obviously, when writing at such a quick pace, I wasn't interested in or able to edit.  I'd write a song and immediately post it up on the community website, and I put lots of them up on this blog as well. 

I wrote this song the other day, and went ahead and recorded it with my little hand held digital recorder immediately afterwards.  I usually use my Flip video camera, but since I was still in pajamas on this particular morning, I decided to protect us all and instead just make an audio recording and set it to photographs.  I've never done that before, so it was a fun little learning project for me!

The song was inspired by re-connecting with a childhood friend that I hadn't talked with in over 15 years.  I've thought of her countless times over the years, but was unable to track her down.  But finally, she found me!  We've been exchanging emails and catching each other up on our lives, filling in the gaps of the last 15 years, and reminiscing over childhood memories.

The memories are all dusty, in boxes stacked away
Up on the highest shelf, waiting for a rainy day
Now I'm digging and I'm hunting for all the little parts
I'm stringing them together and opening my heart

I think we're better for the wear, all those missteps brought us here
And even tho some time has passed, before long we'll fill the gaps

It's hard to know exactly when it was that we lost touch
Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months
Now we'll catch each other up on what the years have brought
All the things that we let go, and all the dreams we caught


Oh I remember, it's getting clearer
Each little memory's a stepping stone
And I'm right back there, without a care
Before I even know it I'm back home...


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Snake Oil Sales

I was a bit overdue for an oil change, so I drove up to Firestone.  I chose it because, a) it's close to my house and b) I had a gift card for $15 dollars off my next purchase that I recently got in the mail.
Who cares if they're convenient and have a lot of store locations, honestly?
When I walked in, they told me it would take be about 30 minutes to get the oil changed.  That was their first of several lies.

An hour or more later, I went to the counter to check on my Beetle.  I was told  they were working on it, and it wouldn't be long. About 15 minutes after that,  one of the snake oil salesmen, who I'll call Tim, because that's his name and there's no anonymity here today, called me over to discuss the problems with my car.

Tim told me I had an oil leak, but said it's not clear where it's coming from so they'd have to run a diagnostic test that would cost $45.  I asked why I hadn't seen any oil stains where I park and he explained that it was because it's only when my car is running that it leaks.  I said, "Well, it must be a pretty slow leak..." (because I hadn't had the oil changed in about a year).

He then told me that all 4 of my tires were very low on tread, and the back two in particular were dangerously low.  Funny, because one of the tires was bought less than 6 months ago and I put very little mileage on my car.  I told him I'd check with Discount Tire, because that's who I go to for tires.  He said it looked like they were selling me used tires, (they're not) and that Discount Tire buys tires from Firestone, so their prices would be lower (they're not).  I asked him to check the price of the tire for me, and he quoted me $545 for 4 tires, since he had recommended I replace them all. Today. Yay, Tim!

He rattled off a few other problems with my car, but I stopped listening.  I told him I was just getting the oil changed today.  He told me to go sit down and he'd call me back when they were finished.  (Yep, nearly one and a half hours for an oil change and they still weren't quite done.)

When it came time to pay, I presented my credit card, and my $15 gift card.  He told me I couldn't use the gift card because  it had to be for a purchase over $30, before tax, and he said mine was only $29.99.  I sorta rolled my eyes and said, "Really?"  But assuming he knew exactly the rules of the gift card, I believed him and paid.  (Which, by the way, my bill was over $30 dollars, even before tax!)

I went across the street to Discount Tire and they checked my tires, which were all fine.  While they were doing that, I looked again at my rejected gift card.  Nowhere on the card did it say anything about having to spend $30 for it to apply.
This picture has nothing to do with my post today, but I thought I needed to try to keep my rant light, and this picture totally cracks me up every time I see it! 
By the time I left the tire store, smoke was coming out of my ears and I was looking for a fight. Or at least $15 back onto my American Express card.  So I went back to Firestone, and made my demands.  Since there were other customers around, I think the manager just wanted to give me my money and get me out of there.   But before I left,  I also brought up the tire issue.  Tim piped in and said  he was just doing his job to recommend a new tire since it looked like mine would only last another 4 or 5 months.  It went from dangerous to good for another 4 to 5 months so quickly!  And hello?  He quoted me a price for 4 tires anyway-- to replace 3 perfectly good tires, and one decent tire.  Tim, you make my skin crawl.
The happy ending I am telling myself is that after I walked out the door, Tim got reamed for being such a bad snake oil salesman.  But the truth is, they probably couldn't care less that they lost one customer today.

But justice was (sort of) served.  I got my $15 dollars back.  And I learned a good lesson about Firestone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Feeling Blue

Since moving into our home about 10 years ago, I've repainted my little bathroom multiple times.  I'm just never happy with the color I choose.  Maybe it's how it looks against the tile?  Or how the light changes things?  I'll love the color on the little color swatch at the paint store, but once I get it home and up on the wall, I fall quickly out of love.

But I keep trying.

I decided to go for blue this time, which isn't generally my color.  But I've been liking turquoise lately so I decided to give that a shot.

I even wore shoes and a shirt to match the day's project.  Altho I have loved this shirt for years, after today, it's being retired and sent away to Goodwill.  It's time.  It's shorter than I like my t-shirts and it's got a few little stains on it.  Boo hoo.  Goodbye, Big Blue Flower Shirt. May I find a blue for my bathroom that I love as much as I have loved you.

This is what my bathroom looked like when I started this whole fiasco at the beginning of the day.

The room is very little, so it's a little tricky to get a good picture.  
I went to Home Depot last night and got a bunch of color swatches.  So many choices!  But all those choices just made things more challenging.  Some of them look blue, but when I move them next to another blue, they sorta magically morph into a green.
And believe it or not, there are way more blues than this picture shows.
I'm am not going for a nautical theme at all, but when you're using blues, the names mostly seem to represent that.  Names like Pacific Sea Teal, Maiden Voyage, Brilliant Sea, Tropical Tide.  But I found one I liked called "Peacock Feather."  So I went ahead and bought it, because with a name like that, how could I not love it?

I went straight home put the Peacock Feather on a large area of one of the walls.  (After I first primed all the wall space, because the folks at Home Depot told me I should, since I was painting over red.) 

Oh no.   Not what I had in mind.  At all.  No, it wasn't nautical, but it was a little nauseating.  It seems a little hyper for a bathroom.  Maybe Peacocks weren't meant to strut around in bathrooms after all.

So I went to the bookstore and looked through decorating books and magazines.  I was reminded of the blue I originally had in mind before it got muddled with over abundance of choices.  The one I finally chose is called Surfer.  Altho it sounds a little nautical, I'm going to disregard names after this Peacock Feather disaster.

I'll post a picture soon once I get it all finished.   If I were to post a photo of how it looks thus far, I don't think anyone would be raving.  But once I get all the painting done,and spiff things up, I think I'll be really happy. 

And if not?  Well, it's just paint!  It's not difficult or expensive to make a change. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Big Yellow Taxi

This little video was actually recorded on a crisp, cool day in March at a grocery store's opening day.  Gosh, I miss those cool days of spring!  But I can remember on that particular day wishing for warmer temperatures.  Why? Why? Why?

The uber- talented Aaron Thomas is there beside me on percussion.  He's producing and percussion-ing 5 of the songs on my upcoming CD and I am so looking forward to everyone getting to hear them!  Soon, soon....

Ah, Joni Mitchell- such a great inspiration! 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Fine Frenzy

I run most days.  Usually at White Rock Lake.  Occasionally at the Katy Trail.  And if the weather looks threatening, I stay very close to home and just run in my 'hood.  As far as the habit of running goes, I feel pretty lucky to live in Dallas because rarely do my runs get rained out, and almost never is it too cold!  Lately though, the heat and humidity are a little disgusting.  But I'm acclimating.  It's not so hard for me, because I'm a Texas girl!
White Rock Lake- HOT and HUMID (but still, nice!)
Last week, while in Oregon, I got to run each day at the beach.  I had never before been to a beach when I wasn't wearing a swimming suit.  And hot.  Instead, I started off in light gloves, and even little earmuffs a day or two.  If felt, and looked, very different from my runs in Dallas.
The Oregon Coast!  Cool enough to wear gloves in June!
The common thread in these runs though was the music in my ears...

I always run with my iPod, but sometimes I get lazy and don't load new music on for a long time.  I ran to Micheal Jackson from the very end of June last year (just after he died), until about February of this year.  As much as I love Michael, I ran to him so often, that even Man in the Mirror lost it's impact for a while.

Right before my vacation I loaded some new music on my iPod.  One thing I included was the latest cd of A Fine Frenzy.  I saw them (her) open up for Brandi Carlile a couple of years ago at House of Blues, and bought the cd.  It was beautiful.  And so sad.  I loved it.

A Fine Frenzy came out with a second cd a while back, which I bought the day it came out.  I was expecting sad and beautiful again.  But it was different.  And just because it was something other than what I was expecting, I took it out of the cd player, and then misplaced it for months.  Not sure I'll run to A Fine Frenzy as long as I ran to MJ, but I sure am loving it now! Those songs will always remind me of my cool runs on the beaches of Oregon...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beautifully Disgusting

With two Siberian Huskies, it gets pretty hairy around here!  I have to vacuum at least every couple of days or we're all knee deep in it.  Well, maybe not knee deep, but everyone that comes in our home will leave furry.

Just before we left for our Oregon trip, my vacuum stopped working.  It had already been a couple of days since I last ran the vacuum.  Uh-oh.

Then I went on the trip and came back.  And you know how it is when you return from vacation~ There always seems to be lots of catching up to do with laundry, grocery store shopping, emails, etc.  So I only got around to shopping for my new vacuum cleaner just today.  (Why is is called a vacuum cleaner anyway?  It seems wrong as I'm typing it here.  Shouldn't a vacuum cleaner be something that cleans a vacuum?  Anyway, I digress...)

I bought the kind of vacuum that doesn't require bags.  Bagless. And my particular model is the Pet Hair Eraser.  SOLD.  How could this not be the right one for me?

Well, I'm not in love with it.  I haven't gotten all the little attachments situated just so and they seem like they could pop off pretty easily.  And it's a little difficult to push, but maybe that is just a height adjustment situation.  I might fall in love eventually, but I'm easing into this slowly. But what I do love is emptying out the appropriately named "Easy Empty Dirt Container".

Not to gross anyone out but LOOK!!!
Ewwwww.  This was picked up from vacuuming 4 large area rugs.  Can you believe it?
Just in case you didn't see it in the first shot, I got in a little closer here.  EWWWWWW.
Ah, domestic thrills in my life.  I just had to share this, so thank you so much for listening.  And looking!  And now, I can invite you over without the risk of you leaving my house furry.

As I vacuumed, one of the little culprits to all the dirt and hair laid around watching me with a pretty smile on her adorable face...
How could someone this cute cause so much dirt?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Back from the Cool Coast!

I just returned from the Oregon coast...

I went prepared with cute new rainboots.  I ordered them from zappos.com one evening at 6:30pm and they were delivered to my doorstep the very next day before noon!! (free shipping, too!)

It was pretty overcast and rainy most of the days we were there...

But the clouds stayed away a day or two...

Rain and shine-  we had a great, great trip!
Anyway, that's where I've been and that's why I haven't posted on my blog all week.  More to come soon.