Thursday, April 28, 2011

Babies & Cats, Grand Prix, Giveaways, more!

This post is about all kinds of stuff!

I saw the documentary "Babies" last night. So cute! And interesting to see how babies around the world live.

My favorite was the baby from rural Mongolia and his cat. The cat was so sweet to him and he was so enamored with the cat.

This just melts my heart...

The cat totally reminded my our our cat Judah. Don't you see the resemblance?

It made me excited for someday when Judah could meet and play with a future child of ours. I hope he'll be a nice "older brother."

2. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was a couple of weeks ago. We had a bunch of people over for a little party and then watched the races from the top of the parking structure by our house. So fun! I didn't take any pictures but my friend Brittney who was with us did. Check out her blog post about it here.

3. The Mr. meet his fundraising goal for his Tour de Cure for Diabetes race! Thank you to those of you (like Kirby from Good Gals) who were kind enough to donate. I love the blogging community! You girls rock!!

4. I donated blood yesterday. It was my fourth time so I'm really not squeamish about it anymore at all. Did you know that I have most rare blood type on earth? I'm AB-. Crazy, right?

5. I'm selling a gorgeous silk shantung strapless dress from ARIA in coral on eBay here.
The dress is this dress:

In this color:

Go the eBay post for more information.

6. My Seattle's Best Coffee and BlogHer giveaway ends on Saturday. You still have a chance to win $100! Go here to enter! It's really easy to enter to win!

7. I have a really busy weekend coming up -- Taste of Long Beach, USC Young Alumnae Scholarship Gala & Casino night, and a Tea Party to watch the Royal Wedding (DVRed)! I will try to take lots of pictures!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Visting "The City on a Hill"

Last week during my furlough I traveled to Boston for family, fun, and food!

My parents and I went to two great museums.

One day we went to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). And in addition to viewing their regular galleries we got to see a stunning limited0-time Chihuly exhibit.

Chihuly is an artist that creates amazing glass art.

{click to enlarge}

Chihuly's work on display at the MFA included several giant chandeliers, a room where the entire ceiling is made up of hundreds of glass sculptures, a "garden" made filled with glass, a boat of glass, and an amazing forest of glass and real trees.

{click to enlarge}

Such amazing stuff!

Another day my Dad and I visited the Institute of Contemporary Art. I can't really say I love super modern contemporary art. I just don't "get it". But it was cool the see the museum and discuss the art.

There are great views from the ICA out onto the Boston Harbor.
We also ate at some amazing restaurants! I highly recommend all of these places....

Carmen in the North End for dinner, Mike's Pastry for dessert, Shabu-Zen in Chinatown for lunch, Legal Seafood by the Aquarium for Dinner, Atlantic Fish Co in the Back Bay for lunch, and The Helmand for Dinner.

My Mom and I at Helmand.

We also did a bunch of shopping and a TON of walking around the city.

The Old City Hall

Long Wharf

All and all, a great trip to "The City on a Hill."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shameless Plea and a New Giveaway

In the past year The Mr. has gotten really into cycling and next weekend he is participating in his first big bike race - A 60 Mile Race for the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure!

He's getting close to hitting his fundraising goal for the race, but he still needs help!

His Tour de Cure Website and Donation Page is here.

Diabetes is close to The Mr.'s heart because his grandfather had diabetes and lost his leg to diabetes. Each mile he rides, and the funds he raises will be used in the fight to prevent and cure diabetes.

Even if you're able to donate only a few dollars, your generous gift will help improve the lives of nearly 24 million Americans who suffer from diabetes.

And seriously, how can you resist this silly guy? :)

Also, I have BRAND new giveaway going that launched on Monday, for another $100 gift card! All you have to do is read about my experience tasting all five "Levels" of Seattle's Best Coffee and then comment on that post about which level you think you'd like. Crazy easy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Furloughed and Heading to Boston

I am on "furlough" for work this week. Basically, due to budget cuts my company is having a bunch of us take mandatory vacation. A little forced "spring break," if you will.

But I'm 100% OK with that because tonight I'm flying on a red-eye to Boston to see my bi-coastal (doesn't that term sound so friggin' snobby? Hilarious.) parents for the week!

Last time I was in Boston was Fall 2009.

You can read about that amazing trip here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4

I plan to spend the week checking out fantastic museums (like newly renovated MFA), eating great seafood, and enjoying time with my Mom and Dad. I love Boston!

The Mr. is envious because he has to stay in LA to work. But I'll be back on Saturday so that we can still spend Easter Sunday together.


Also, I've been on a bit a giveaway bonanza lately. This may be my last one for a little while, but it's a good one, so you should definitely enter. It's ANOTHER $100 gift card! All you have to do is read about my experience tasting all five "Levels" of Seattle's Best Coffee and then comment on that post about which level you think you'd like. Super simple!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What I Love About Being on Business Trips

As many of you know, I travel a lot for work.

On average I'm away from home 8-10 days a month for work (which is a lot less than my old schedule which was 16-18 days a month).

Often times people will ask me questions like, "how do you do it?!", "don't you miss your husband?", "does your husband mind you being gone that much?"

Yes of course we miss each other. But we're used to it and we don't mind it.

If fact, as I was sitting in my hotel suite (Thanks Starwood for the upgrade!) last night, I was thinking of all the things I like about being away on a business trip...
  • Free food! And no cooking or doing dishes.
  • In fact, no chores at all. I come home to spotless hotel room every night.
  • Being able to catch up on my "chick" TV shows like Grey's Anatomy (PS - what was with that singing episode?).
  • Sleeping in a king size bed all by myself (yes, we share a queen size bed at home).
  • Being able to sleep through the night without an adorable cat jumping on me.
  • Not feeling like I have to do anything besides work hard and relax (no bill paying, crafty projects, or home organizational tasks can nag me while I'm on the road).
  • Coming home to a happy husband and happy cat who missed me. Absence often does make the heart grow fonder.
And of I love the perks of business traveling like airline miles, hotel points, and credit card points.

Just for fun, here are a couple of pictures from my business trips...

Spending my 27th birthday out to dinner with my co-workers:

My co-worker and me in a client's office "matching" in pastels:

Am I going to travel for work forever? No. I know there is an expiration date on this life. Not tomorrow, but in two years, or five years, or eight years this will all be over. And I know part of me will be very happy but part of me will miss it.

Do any of you travel for work? Have spouses that travel for work? How do you feel about business travel?

Also reminder about the great giveaway going on on my reviews and giveaways blog. All you have to do is read about the new Seattle's Best Coffee Levels and then leave me a comment about which one you think you are and you could win $100 gift card for Go enter now here!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Financial Peace!

Last fall I blogged a bit about Dave Ramsey and wanting to complete several of the baby steps this year.

For those who don't know, the Seven Baby Steps are:
Baby Step 1- $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
Baby Step 2 - Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step 3 - 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
Baby Step 4 - Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
Baby Step 5 - College funding for children
Baby Step 6 - Pay off home early
Baby Step 7 - Build wealth and give!

All year we've been putting money toward Baby Step #2. And this month we got a HUGE and unexpected blessing and we were able to complete Baby Step #2!

I cannot even tell you the amount of peace this has brought -- even though our debt was not high interest. It's a giant weight lifted.

We've also put aside a chunk of change to buy a second car, which we will likely need very soon (we've been living with one car for over two years since the Mr. has a company car).

Now we're on to Baby Step #3, and well on our way to building up that emergency fund.

I know a bunch of you are on Baby Step #2 -- it's HARD -- but worth it. Even if you're just making one or two extra payments a month on that car loan or student loan, keep at it! Little payments can add up big.

Is anyone else out the making progress on the Baby Steps?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

13 Wedding Registry "Must Haves" for the Kitchen

I consider myself a bit of a wedding registry guru. I probably spent WAY to much time researching products and registering (and unregistering) for wedding presents. Warning: If you have a haphazard wedding registry I will judge you.

Now that I'm two years into marriage, I think I made some pretty choices about which items to registry and not register for. So I thought I'd share my "bakers dozen" (ha!) of "must-have" kitchen items that you should (and should not) register for. (Or if you're already married, considering adding these items to your kitchen!).

1. A Crockpot/Slow Cooker

I registered for this Rival crockpot and love it! It's the right size, it's easy to use, and doesn't do "too much." (note: all products shown are my actual products unless otherwise noted.)

2. Oven-to-table CorningWare

I have this Corningware set and it's great. It's functional, versatile, and looks nice.

3. A Kitchen Utensils Set

I hate when people register for each kitchen utensil separately. It's hard for people to piece together a nice gift of random spoons and spatulas and it takes up a lot of visual space on a registry. I like when people register for a set and I'm very happy with my Oxo Good Grips Kitchen Tools set that we registered for.

4. Extra spatulas

It's hard to have too many spatulas. It seems there is always one or two of them in the dishwasher. So after you kitchen tools set you should register for a couple of nice extra metal spatulas (good for grilling out too!). I really like our stainless steel spatula from Crate & Barrel.

5. A good set of mixing bowls

I think three mixing bowls in three sizes is about perfect unless you are a crazy baker. I love this Oxo mixing bowl set that we registered for. They are sturdy, functional, and I love the non-slip bottoms.

6. A Toaster Oven

Our toaster oven is the most-used item in our kitchen. It's SO versatile. You can toast all kinds of bread, heat up food, make nachos and other appetizers, and so much more. It appears that the Oster Toaster Oven that we registered for is discontinued but this one is similar. We love our toaster oven so much that we don't even have a regular toaster.

7. Nice everyday flatware

Most people register for flatware but I seriously love our Couture Flatware from Crate & Barrel. We spent a long time picking this flatware and it was an excellent choice.

8. Little dishes

I have these little dishes from Crate & Barrel and use them SO much. They're good for prepping food, serving sauces with main dishes, and tons of other things.

9. A
n Espresso Maker

If you're a coffee lover like me, then register for an Espresso Maker. It's such a fun treat to use it and if you're like me it's something you'd never buy for yourself. We like our Krupps Espresso Maker a lot.

Now for things I didn't register for but wish I did...

10. A Rice Cooker

I struggled through cooking rice for a year before I finally broke down and bought this Aroma rice cooker. It has made making healthy meals like chicken, rice, and veggies SO much easier. I wish I'd had this a long time ago!

11. Really good baking sheets

I didn't register and William-Sonoma but I wish I had so I could have gotten a bunch of their goldtouch products. I registered for cheapie cookie sheets and regretted it. I'm obsessed my goldtouch baking sheets that I got for Christmas this year.

Now for things I didn't register for, but got separately as gifts, and I'm glad I did...

12. Stainless Steel Cookware

I was registered for a mishmash of teflon and expensive stainless steel cookware when my mother-in-law told me that I should unregister for that stuff and she'd buy me some good cookware as a shower present. She bought me this surgical stainless steel "waterless" cookware set. These pots and pans really are amazing! It took a bit of time to learn to cook on them but they really are the best pots and pans in the world. And she paid A LOT less than you would have paid for a comparable set at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

13. A Wine Fridge

We really wanted to register for a wine fridge but the options at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Crate & Barrel all held between 6-18 bottles which really isn't enough if you're at all serious about collecting and storing wine. So we skipped registering for that item and with some of our wedding money bough a 40 bottle Magic Chef wine cellar at Home Depot for the same price as the smaller ones retail for at those other stores! It's a fantastic cellar and we love having our wine properly stored in it.

So that's it for our wedding registry "must haves" for the kitchen! Maybe I'll do a follow up for items for the rest of the house. What kitchen items do you are "must haves" for a wedding registry?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mammoth Recap and NEW Giveaway!

This past weekend the Mr. and I spent three awesome days skiing/snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain, CA.

We drove from Long Beach to Bishop on Wednesday night after work, and spent the night in a motel there. While in Bishop we picked up some jerky at Mahogany Smoked Meats that Shoshanah recommended. Delish!

Early Thursday morning we drove the rest of the way to Mammoth Lakes and started the day off with a delicious, hearty breakfast and coffee at The Stove.

So good!

The we hit the slopes for three days of skiing and snowboarding! (We had pre-purchased our tickets at Costco which saved us a lot of money!)

Mammoth has just gotten DUMPED with snow this year so were excited to ski and snowboard there.

(yeah, I don't know what he is doing either).

Good thing Mammoth has so much snow because it was HOT. Like in the 50s hot.

We had to ditch our jackets because it was so hot! The Mr. snowboarded in just a long-sleeved shirt.

Because it was so hot, we ended our ski days a little early because the snow would get so slushy by about 2 PM.

But that gave us extra time to visit the Mammoth Brewing Company to do a free tasting and buy a lot of beer.

The beer was amazing! We bought the Floating Rock Hefeweizen, the Golden Trout Pilsner, the Double Nut Brown, and a "growler" of the Bear Ass Belgium.

We stayed at the Westin Monache. It's a really nice condo-style resort hotel. I liked it a lot because we could cook food in our own little kitchen which was cozy and inexpensive. We made spaghetti with meat sauce one night and tacos another night. It's right by the Village Gondola so we could access the slopes easily. So convenient!

This was the view from our room. The sun was warm enough to lay by the pool in a bathing suit and get a tan, but the ground was still covered with snow. Quite the contrast!

We had a lot of fun skiing and snowboarding in Mammoth, but for me, you can't beat skiing in Utah. The snow in Utah is pure perfection and the resorts are wonderful.

Switching gears a bit...

I have a great NEW giveaway going on on my reviews and giveaways blog. All you have to do is read about the new Seattle's Best Coffee Levels and then leave me a comment about which one you think you are and you could win $100 gift card for Amazing right? So go enter now here!
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