Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh The Places You'll Go

The most frequent advice I've gotten as a newlywed is, "travel, travel, travel! Because once you have kids, you just don't have a much freedom and money and won't be able to travel."

(For the record, I'm not 100% sure that I agree with that statement because I was super blessed to have amazing parents who took me all over the country and world. I got to go to some really many amazing places with them by tagging along on their business and personal travels. I personally feel that this was one huge benefit of being an only child. Anyway, I digress...)

But I can definitely see what people mean about kids limiting your travel opportunities, so lately I've been thinking about where we need to go before babies enter the picture.

To aid me in my travel planning I mapped out the US states and the countries that I visited.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have visited a majority of US states...

{Green= visited, Red= have not visited. Click to enlarge}

Clearly I'm missing a whole swath of of the South. I'd really like to visit Louisiana and the Carolinas soon, so those are on the top of my US states list.

I was very fortunate when I was young and got to do some amazing vacations with my parents to various parts of the world...

{Green= visited, Red= have not visited. Click to enlarge}

Countries I have not been to that I'd like to visit: Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Fiji, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Kenya, Seychelles, and the Virgin Islands.

I'm happy to announce that in about ten weeks I'll be crossing two of these countries off of my list! Can you guess which ones?

What countries, states, or places are on your must-do list?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Up in the Air = My Life

I finally saw the movie, Up in the Air, after several co-workers told me "you have to see this movie, it's totally our lives!"

For those who have not seen the movie, the plot revolves around corporate downsizer and his travels. The film follows his isolated life on the road, his philosophies, and the people that he meets along the way. According to the director, "The movie is about the examination of a philosophy. What if you decided to live hub to hub, with nothing, with nobody?"

And while I clearly don't believe in life free of relationships, homes, people and things, there are many parts of the movie that remind me of my life working at "Large Consulting Firm" and being on the road. For example:

  • The priority check-in at hotels and airports.
  • The cheerful "Welcome back Mrs. Lastname" greetings I get at Sheratons when they see that I'm a platinum member.
  • The airline and hotel loyalty programs and how I'll do almost anything to earn more rewards points or miles.
  • How the main character and I choose our security lines at airports (look for business men, avoid families and the elderly. Sorry!)
In fact, last year I did a series of posts called Travel Tip Thursday, to share my travel wisdom with my dear readers.

If you weren't following me back then, here are the links my various travel tips so you can catch up:

Or just click here to see all of the Travel Tip Thursday posts:

I'd love to answer more of your travel questions and bring back Travel Tip Thursday. Leave me a question in the comments section of this post and I'll and answer them in a future post. Or you can ask me anything about work or travel via Formspring ( and I'll give you an answer right away.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What I Gave Up for Lent...

Yes, I gave up Facebook.

Most of you don't know me on Facebook. A few months after I started blogging, I decided to keep my blog life and Facebook life separate. Too many co-workers on Facebook.

But I am a bit of Facebook addict.

Status updates. Farmville. Constantly trolling people's profiles and pictures.

After our Pastor preached on fasting a few Sundays ago I decided that I would fast from Facebook. His message was that you don't have to fast from food, you can fast from something else that consumes your mind, time, and attitude.

I realized that most of what I do on Facebook centered around either making myself appear awesome/pretty/"having a way better time than you" or looking at other people's status and profiles wishing I was as rich/pretty/"having as much fun as them."

And Facebook is this huge time suck.

I know Twitter and blogging can be a time suck too -- but they don't suck me in the same way. And they don't produce the same feelings of envy or eminence. Does that make sense?

So what I am doing with my new-found Facebook-free time?

For starters, doing the Bible Gateway Lent Reading Plan. And secondly, trying to spend time really connecting with people that I care about.

Are you giving up anything for Lent this year?

Monday, February 22, 2010

2-Mile High Skiing

We had a wonderful weekend in Colorado skiing and snowboarding with friends on the beautiful rocky mountains.

It snowed most of the time we were there, which meant lots of great, fresh snow for skiing! But that also meant that I didn't get a lot of pictures for fear of ruining my camera or freezing my hands! (Note: I have new respect for bloggers who live in snowy weather and manage to take lots of great outdoor snapshots!)

Here we are at Vail!

And this was the view from the condo we stayed at. Sweet!

A few observations about skiing in Colorado and Colorado in general:

  • Colorado snow kicks CA snow's butt! Seriously, it's so light, fluffy, and amazing! I still love Tahoe -- but the "Sierra Cement" just can't compare to Colorado powder!
  • Skiing at 2-mile elevation is hard! The altitude took breath away on some runs... literally.
  • I met more ex-Californians in Colorado than I've met in my life. It seems to be the place to move to if you're sick of expensive real estate and high taxes in CA. So many people moved to Colorado to "start a family" -- it started to give me ideas! Ha!
  • If you ski or snowboard, please please buy and wear a helmet. I feel super hard on my head on a black diamond at A-Basin and I am fine besides my neck being a bit sore. Without the helment I would have had concussion or worse.
  • I can see why they call Denver, "Men-ver". The guy to girl ratio at the bars was insane.
  • I don't particularly like Vail. I can see why my My Dad calls it "Travail". You have to pole or scoot along miles and miles of cat-tracks to get to the run you actually want to ski. It is huge, but the most of the runs seemed to be either be cat-tracks or steep moguls. I like Breckenridge SO much better!

From my last post, it seems a lot of you have skiied or snowboarded in Colorado. What "observations" do you have about it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cruising to Colorado!

By the time you read this we'll be on our way to Colorado for three days of skiing and snowboarding with friends at Breckenridge and Vail!

Pray for pow-pow!

Talk to you Monday!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Husband!

Happy 28th Birthday to my...

Handsome, crazy, funny, adventurous...

Trojan-loving, fun-loving Husband!

Here's to another great year! I love you honey!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

80s Party!

My friend had an amazing 80s themed 30th birthday party on Saturday. Great food, drinks, music, decorations, and of course, COSTUMES!

The Mr and I had a blast dressing up.

Clearly our friends did too!

That's the birthday girl in yellow.

Our husbands - looking like a Guns N Roses tribute band.

Everyone at the party who dressed up in 80s attire.

There was even a costume contest and my friend who dressed up as Tom Selleck and I won!

Although I personally think the girl who was dressed as "Flashdance" should have won.

We made her dance around to "Manic" -- it was amazing!

I {heart} the 80s!

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's a Love Story: Our Early Letters

In working on a Valentine's Day Present for the Mr. I was digging through our memory boxes -- filled with letters and notes to each other. And although we're not John and Abigail Adams, I thought you might get kick of of a blast from the past - seeing our "love" letters.

A bit of background...
The Mr. and I met and started dating on Greek Row at USC (i.e. we were in a Sorority/ Fraternity). USC Greeks have a tradition called "Monday Night Dinner." Monday Night Dinner is where each Sorority and Fraternity has a formal dinner in their chapter house and during dinner the new members of each house do "deliveries" to the other houses. Which means that you can send a card or cookies or whatever to a guy you like or that you're dating and a girl in your house will deliver it to him a his formal dinner. And he can do the same for you. Because of this time-honored USC tradition we have two years worth of Monday Night Dinner letters and cards to each other. I can't even say how thankful I am to have this treasure!

The Mr's letters usually came on stationary like this:

And mine usually looked like this:

Although there are hundreds of letters, I thought I'd share some of the earliest ones from when we'd first met and started dating, because those show how far we've really come. Who knew I was writing to my future husband?!

The first letter the Mr. ever wrote me:

{Click the image to enlarge and bless you if you can read his handwriting}

My first letter to him:

{Click the image to enlarge and clearly handwriting is not my strong skill either}

We were trying to be "just friends" but clearly that didn't happen!

The letter he wrote me asking me out on our first real date at El Cholo, a great Mexican Restaurant in LA:

The letter I wrote to him the week after our date at El Cholo:

{Note: It's funny that I mention Thanksgiving in that letter because he offically asked me to be his girlfriend the day before Thanksgiving, 2003. So clearly, I saw him before Thanksgiving :)}

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of young love just in time for Valentine's Day. Hope that your Valentine's Day still feels like the first one together! Xoxo!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Presents & Activities

It's four days until Valentine's Day and I must confess, I've neither bought nor planned anything for my husband for the day.

I don't want to be complacent in my married life -- but I feel like it gets harder to buy gifts when you share money and harder to plan an exciting outing when we already have so many fun dinners and trips in our lives. Maybe I'm making excuses.

I've been trying to brainstorm gift ideas. (Thanks Twitter friends!)

Both Tara and H.R.H. blogged about their Boudoir Photos as the perfect gift. And I have to agree, if you've never done Boudoir photos for your husband as gift, DO IT! I did it as a wedding present for the Mr. and it was fantastic! I had so much fun doing the shoot and he got this awesome sexy book worthy of the pages of Maxim.

Here is one of the only "G-rated" images from my shoot.

Pretty cool, huh?

It's by the Boudoir Divas in San Diego. I LOVE them! Their mission statement is: "Our God grants us beauty and love everyday. He gives us the strength and wisdom to create a life that will benefit those around us and those he asks us to help and give to abundantly.
He gives us the resources and creativity to create a classy and romantic piece of art
that ignites confidence and excitement in a wife. Re-enforcing beauty in a woman and romance between a couple."

Don't you just love that?

I'm guessing that this year I will just give him a card and maybe something small, unless a grand idea hits me in the next three days.

I've also been brainstorming something fun to do. (Note: I really like how Mrs. Everlasting and her hubby take turns every other year doing the Valentine's Day planning. I may have to start that tradition.)

We used to have this tradition of doing a wine and cheese picnic on Manhattan Beach every year for Valentine's Day. It was great, but that tradition kind of died when I started traveling for work and I was gone on Valentine's Day a lot.

(V-day 2006)

Last year we went to a comedy show.
Horrible. Horrible idea.
It was super crowded. We waited outside the comedy clubs for hours to get in. And the comedy was really bad. We left before the show ended. Epic fail.

Hostess With the Mostess posted an awesome idea a while back for "Valentine's Day in the Garden of Eden."

It's the perfect romantic retreat in your own home! I don't think I'll be able to pull this off this year, but I'm hoping that I can do this one year, because it looks so cool! Read more about it here.

What are you planning for Valentine's Day this year?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Greetings from the Equator: A Guest Post

The following post is by my best friend, maid-of-honor, lifelong-confidant, and de-facto sister Laurel.

We have a lot in common: we grew up in same neighborhood, we went to the same schools, we share same similar interests, and we're both Newlyweds. But we currently could not be leading more different lives.

Me = Corporate raider at Large Consulting Firm traveling the west coast with my business casual attire and laptop bag.
Laurel = Peace Corps Volunteer serving the country of Ecuador.

I thought you’d enjoy a peak into her amazing and different life…


Greetings from the equator! I’m Laurel, a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Ecuador. My husband, Daniel, and I have been living here for almost a year and have been graciously asked to share some of our experiences living abroad with the ample community of bloggers who follow the Newlyweds Next Door.

Daniel and I had both considered joining the Peace Corps before we’d met, so it was an easy decision to make once we got married to join together. After a few months of planning, packing, and saying our goodbyes, we left California in February 2009 for a 26 month stint away from US soil.

As Peace Corps assignments go, we are very fortunate. Ecuador is a beautiful and geographically diverse country that boasts long white beaches, is traversed by the incredibly high Andes, shares a slice of the Amazon rainforest, and holds claim to the unparalleled Galápagos Islands.

We live in Tena, a small but tourist-friendly town in the rainforest known for cacao, jungle tours and white-water rafting. Our work supports a group of international development organizations and Ecuadorian governmental organizations interested in environmental and economic sustainability.

Needless to say there are many things I miss from home. On the top of that list have to be:

1. Variety. Cheeses, beers, wines, restaurants. We were so spoiled in the US and didn’t even know it!
2. Mobility. Four hour bus rides? No problem. But 10? Not so much. Daniel dreams about driving.
3. Climate control. Perma-sweat develops when you live in a rainforest without A/C; just a fact of life.
4. Jon Stewart. ::sigh::
5. Our friends and family. Thank goodness for blogs and email!

After almost year away from home, I’ve learned a great deal. Some of the most salient are:

1. Not all Peace Corps Volunteers fit the ‘hippie’ stereotype. I’ve met former architects, nurses, business people and congressional aides. Sure there are a few tokens among us, but most PCVs are just young people seeking altruism and adventure.
2. Time isn’t money in developing countries. Coming from a corporate work experience prior to Peace Corps, it has been difficult to adjust to a society where things unfold at a much much slower pace.
3. No book is too boring or difficult to read when you have plenty of time on your hands. Seriously, you have no idea what you can get through without the distraction of evening television.
4. Monkeys are cool until the steal your things. And bite you when you try to take them back.
5. I married the right guy. Extreme conditions, living and working together 24/7/365, isolation, language barriers – and our marriage is stronger than ever.

(our neighbor, the monkey)

There are just under 15 months left in our service. Some days fly by and others drag on and on, but every day I learn more about the gracious Ecuadorian people, their rich culture, and myself. If you are interested in learning more about our experiences in Ecuador, check out our blog:


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Upgrade my Kitchen?

This is pretty much my dream kitchen...

And this is my actual kitchen..,

I have the beautiful stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. But I'd die for some espresso cabinets and a beautiful backsplash.

Since moving is out of the questions and I "can't be with the one I love", I've been thinking about "loving the one I'm with" and upgrading my kitchen.

Due to budgetary reasons, I'm not even thinking of replacing the basically new cabinets. But a new backsplash could really add a lot the kitchen (and after that maybe new paint in the rooms near the kitchen)

I did some searching around the interwebs for backsplashes paired with wood that looks like ours. Here is what I found:

Pretty huh?!

So I have a few questions:
1. How much do you think the purchase and installation of a small backsplash would cost?
2. Our granite is a blackish-green color and our floors are a beige marble. What color would you do for the backsplah? My gut says some combo of brown, beige, and green would be good.
3. Would I need to remove the the granite the comes up onto the wall or just add a backsplash above it?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Tahoe Ski Trip that Finally Happend

Readers may be beginning to notice a pattern in my blogging...

football in fall, vacations in the summer, and skiing in the winter!

The Mr. and I just got back from a long weekend trip to Tahoe. We'd had to cancel our planned Tahoe trip a couple weeks ago due to storms, but last weekend the weather cooperated and we got to spend three amazing days on the slopes!

Day One: Northstar-at-Tahoe

Together at the top...

The Mr's boss called him and wanted him to submit some electronic report. This is him saying, "uhhh, I'm on a black diamond on the backside of Northstar, I can't really get to my computer right now."

Note: I think it's very rude for a boss to call someone when they know he/she is on vacation unless it's a super urgent matter.

Me on "Iron Horse" on the backside of Northstar

Day Two: Alpine Meadows

This is the only picture I have because it was snowing that whole day and I didn't want to wreck my camera.

Day Three: Homewood

How freakin' amazing is this view!?

The Mr. at Homewood. I wish I could build a ski cabin right here!

Me at the top of Homewood

In addition to three wonderful days skiing we had a couple of fun dinners out in the Tahoe area, including a delicious and romantic dinner at Cottonwood in Truckee. If you're ever in North Lake Tahoe you have to check this place out!

What's our next ski adventure? Breckenridge, Colorado in three weeks!

Monday, February 01, 2010


You may have noticed that I'm not a huge TV watcher.

I watch a few shows on and off (like American Idol and Grey's Anatomy) but I pretty much only watch a few shows religiously: How I Met Your Mother, The Office, and my #1 favorite, LOST!

So you can bet that I am pretty darn excited for tomorrow night. Why? It's the season premiere of the last season of LOST!

I have watched every episode since I watched the series premiere with my apartment-mates back at USC (wow, I've been watching this show for a long time). In the middle seasons when things got a little weird and off-track, a lot of people abandoned LOST, but I stuck with it. And now it's finally time to watch the beginning of the end.

Who is Jacob? Is everyone dead? Will Jack and Kate ever be together?

I can't wait to find out!

(Yes, I am holding on to an insane thread of hope that all of the questions that have been posed over the last five years will be answerd in the sixth year)

If you don't see me blogging or tweeting from now until tomorrow, it's because I'm on lostpedia gearing up for tomorrow night!

Is anyone else a die-hard LOST fan?
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