Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Yesterday night, I had planned to not wake up to watch the Royal Wedding live, but to just watch it on DVR the next day.

However, lucky for me, The Pup decided to have the hiccups at 3AM exactly this morning so I was at least able to catch the wedding ceremony LIVE!

It was such a beautiful ceremony! Princess Kate (I know that isn't her official title, but I like the simplicity of it) looked ravishing and in a way utterly normal. You could tell she was a bit nervous, but excited and she handled everything so gracefully. Prince William also looked quite strapping in one of his military uniforms. I loved the shy little smiles he was giving Kate throughout the ceremony. I loved that they even whispered a few words to each other now and then even though they had to have know billions of people around the world were watching them. Some royals would have just stoically stood up there and gone through the motions of the ceremony, but Will and Kate looked like they were actually able to live it and enjoy it. Amazing!

Image Source: Yahoo AP
It is also amazing to me, how normal the two of them seem, compared to other high profile couples. Their courtship was utterly normal with bits of jealousy, uncertainty, and even a short lived break up. The wedding, although a royal formal affair, definitely had their stamp of approval at every step of the way. I think much of this probably has to do with Princess Diana's influence. Although it is so tragic that she wasn't able to celebrate with them, it was her life and death that seemed to teach Will and Kate that there is more to life than being Royal and that they must speak up for themselves in things they truly believe in.

Kate's dress was so beautiful. It was elegant, yet modern. Simple and not overly ornate. Her hair was also in a simple half up/half down do, and she wore a small but sparkly tiara. To me, she was perfection. And to Will, well he summed it up in my FAVORITE part of the whole ceremony. As her dad walked her up to the alter, Will gave her a slight side glance and smile and I saw him say to her "Beautiful".  Made me want to get married all over again!  Kate's sister Pippa was also so elegantly dressed in a white silk dress that was so flattering on her.

Image Source: Yahoo AP

 I am so happy that I was able to see the ceremony LIVE as it will remember for a long time. I will also likely be rewatching it later thanks to the DVR!

I wish Will and Kate all the best for a happy and healthy future!

Now for some coffee...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Missed Opportunities

It seems that I am quickly becoming the queen of missed career opportunities. Rather, I waffle on whether or not to take advantage of an opportunity and then end up missing it. Then I become  inwardly annoyed with the person who ended up getting the opportunity - in most cases someone who technically has less experience then I do (which hasn't seemed to matter much in many of the moves I see being made).

The latest missed opportunity occurred recently. It was the opportunity to supervise one of the labs at work. Operators had approached me, asking me to look into the position as they thought I would be a good fit and would like to work for me. I did my research and went to our company website to look up the job description. When I did, the only supervisory position was a swing shift opportunity - not something I would want. Plus, even though the operators wanted me to bring my detail and organizational skills to the lab, I don't know how I would be in a supervisory role because of my intense emotions and tendency to get very stressed out. So I sort of put the opportunity to the back of my mind.  (This was my big mistake. I now realize if I was at all interested, I should have gone and physically talked to somebody about it.) Now I find out that the position is taken and that it was in fact a day shift opportunity. I'm finding myself a little resentful although the fault sits squarely on my shoulders!

I think the majority of the time, I don't actively pursue these opportunities because I'm afraid at failing at the new position. I also have plans for starting a family and don't want a new career move to get in the way. Both of these are BAD reasons to miss opportunities. I just don't know what to do to gain more confidence in myself and just do it.

Failure is something that I already deal with in my current position, so how could taking this new opportunity be any different. I read on SO many blogs (click on each for GREAT personal development stuff) that you need to take risks to reap great rewards, but for some reason I am not putting what I learn into action.

As for starting a family, who knows when that will actually pan out. Four months in and I don't even think things are moving in the right direction (i.e. - no Aunt Flo, no egg, no baby).  I need to go see the doctor, but figure she'd probably make me wait six months anyways until they would do anything. I normally see her in Aug, so I think I'll just wait till then to see what she says. But until then, well, I guess I need to keep looking for opportunities and not worry about the what if's of when a baby comes...

How do you all approach opportunities? Are you like me and tend to miss them or do you take the bull by the horns and just go for it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

100th Post and Porch Update!

So 100 posts in and I've become a bit of a slacker in the blogging world. I still have lots to talk about, but I need to take some time to catch up and get some posts scheduled. That's going to be a goal of mine over the next few weeks.

But now, for the much awaited (at least for me!) beginnings of our porch makeover! I asked you all awhile back to vote on what type of bench we should get for our porch.

The winner was an Adirondack Rocker in Natural. I really appreciated your feedback, especially with the color, as I was going back and forth between white or natural.

However, both The Hubs and I weren't set with the Rocker. We decided to keep looking around and after a jaunt over to Home Depot found the perfect solution that we both could agree on!

A Martha Stewart glider bench in natural! Here we get something like a rocker, in bench form (so we can sit together), in natural color wood. We figured if we didn't like the natural wood color when we put it on the porch, we could always paint it white.

Also while at Home Depot, I went ahead and bought some outdoor pillows in bright colors to liven things up!

Here's a couple of pictures of the work in progress!

Some things I still want to add...

- Side tables ~ I might borrow the idea of using upside flower pots like Young House Love used in their porch makeover.

- Rusty Area ~ I want to put a secure tie in somewhere, along with a cheap dog bed on the porch, so we can secure The Pup and have him sit with us during the warm summer nights!

- Adirondack Rocker - I still may take your advice and get an Adirondack Rocker for the other side of the porch. I would love to have the extra seating in case we have company over.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Take Me Out to The Ballgame

Last night, The Hubs and I went with our friend Lisa to the Giants game. I hadn't been to a game in a few years and after the excitement that was last season (2010 World Champions Baby!) and the last few games (the TORTURE continues!), I was really looking forward to a night at the ballpark

When we arrived, we took our token pictures outside of the ballpark in Willie Mays Plaza.


 Then we headed up up up to our seats in the nosebleeds. You can't get any higher than the third deck, last row! Good thing there isn't really a bad seat in the house!  AT&T Park is gorgeous! I haven't been to many ballparks, but you really can't beat the view of the bay on a sparkling day. The weather last night wasn't spectacular, but the view was still really pretty.

Here's a picture of my favorite player, Buster Posey, at bat. He didn't do much during this game, but he sure is cute!

Although the Giants weren't able to pull out a win against the rival Dodgers, my favorite parts of the night happened before the game even started.

First, the entire Giants team went out on the field along with the organization's president, vice president and general manager. At first I wasn't sure what was happening... Then I saw the box... You see one of our crucial players from last season now plays for the Dodgers. Juan Uribe was critical in getting the Giants into the World Series. We all loved him. So it was only fitting that he was presented with his World Series Ring yesterday evening! There were some boos, but mostly cheers and chants of U - RIBE (a common occurrence last season). I thought it was nice of the organization to recognize him in front of his old hometown fans.

Image Source: AP
 The second most touching moment put a lump in everyone's throat. I'm not sure how many of you who don't live in the Bay Area have heard about this, but a Giants fan - Brian Stow - was brutally beaten at Giants v. Dodgers game in LA a couple of weeks ago by two Dodger fans. He's currently in a medically induced coma and it is believed that he has severe brain damage. Such a sad thing to happen on what was supposed to be a fun night at the ballpark.

To honor Brian and his family, both teams took the field before the game for a moment of silence. It was a show of unity and sportsmanship. Then a member from each team - Jeremy Affeldt for the Giants and Jamey Carroll for to Dodgers - both said a few words. They reiterated the fact that a game is a game. That even if a rivalry is present, they leave the competition on the field. Each player then goes home to families and is a father, husband, son, friend. You could feel the emotion these two ball players felt, especially Jeremy Affeldt. It was truly touching and a great way to honor a man and a family who are going through such a difficult time in their lives.

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In addition, some of Brian's coworkers were around the ballpark collecting donations. KTVU reports over $50,000 was donated. The generosity of people reminds me that even though there are a few bad people in this world, the majority genuinely care.

Although in the end the Giants lost the game last night and we were all disappointed, I think it was not lost on any of the fans afterward that a game is just a game. Something we all need to remember in many aspects of our lives.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adding a Few Laughs To Our Weekend

After both The Hubs and I had a less than stellar work week, The Hubs decided we needed to do something spontaneous and fun to start our weekend off right.

So on Friday night we ended up buying last minute tickets at a local comedy club to see this guy...

Image Source: SF Standup
Let me just say, Kevin Nealon was hilarious! The Hubs was especially excited about seeing him. He was also more than a little bit starstruck when he entered the club and was sitting a few chairs away awaiting his time on stage.

It was so nice to have a spontaneous date night, just the two of us, as most of the time we just hang out by ourselves at home.When we do go out to comedy clubs and things, we most of the time make an event of it and invite all of our friends. We really need to make a point of planning "outings" that are different from dinner and a movie. It livens things up!

The rest of the weekend was fairly relaxing. We took our first trip up to the ranch to see my bestie Sarah work with her horse Ronan. I thought it was quite amazing seeing her work with him, as the closest animal I've ever seen being trained were our dogs. The Hubs and I even got to help brush him and learn a few things about horses in the process. We weren't able to ride him this time, but hope to get a chance in the future. It will be the first horse I've ever ridden (with the exception of the pony I rode on one of our honeymoon excursions!)

Ronan and Sarah

Me trying to be artistic with the camera.

The Hubs and I also spent some time this weekend watching the Giants and being amazed at the Friday and Saturday games when we pulled out a win in the bottom of the ninth. So exciting! It looks like the TORTURE is continuing!

Tonight we're going out to the ballpark to see the Giants play the Dodgers. It's my first baseball game attendance in a few years so I am really looking forward to it! :-)

How do you add a few laughs and excitment to your weekend after a long week?

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Kindle Reads" - Pioneer Women - Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - A Love Story

Image Source: Bookswim
Everyone in the blogosphere is familiar with The Pioneer Women, also know as Ree Drummond. She has this amazing blog where she documents her life on her husband's (aka Marlboro Man) cattle ranch. Also an amazing chef, she writes about all kinds of culinary deliciousness complete with step by step instructions and beautiful photographs.

I knew she had written a book, but it wasn't until I saw that Nie Nie (a very inspirational blogger if you don't already follow her) was reading it and loving it that I decided to download myself a copy.

This book, Pioneer Women - Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - A Love Story, is the story of her romance with Marlboro Man. I guess she had started documenting the story of their love on her blog (before I was a follower) and people loved it so much she ended up compiling the posts and some additional stories into this great book.

I love me a good love story and this sure is one of them. The best part is that it is TRUE! I love all the intricate details Ree remembers about her quick courtship with Marlboro Man and the funny stories she has to tell about her acclimating to life on the ranch. Let's say hilarity ensues when she is require to take a cows temperature! hehe :-)

I just finished this book recently and was sad to see it come to an end. I really wanted to know more about her life and love, but I guess I'll just have to stay tuned for her blog for more of her love stories!

Anyone else read Black Heels or are you content just trolling The Pioneer Women for your daily dose of love story?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fresh Set of Eyes

Do you ever feel like you need a fresh set of eyes to look at something so that you can get a new perspective?

This is exactly how I feel with one of my projects at work. I've been on this project since I started with the company over 7 years ago. As of late, we have had some issues creep up that were things I never saw in the past. I've been investigating possible causes and solutions, but haven't found success yet.

I've consulted with others to get their opinion on the situation. In some cases, people are telling me I need start from scratch and develop a whole new process to fix the problem (hard to do when this product is so mature and when I am basically the only resource). In other cases, I need someone else with more expertise to do a more thorough investigation to prove that it is nothing they are doing that could be causing the problem. This typically results in no work done because they brush it off as not their problem or priority.

I feel like I've done all I can and I've looked for all the possible solutions, but I just can't find the one that will fix the problem. I  feel like I'm the only one fully invested in this project. I feel a bit burned out on all the problems. I feel like I need a fresh perspective.

How do you find a fresh perspective when looking at a problem for what feels like forever with no readily apparent solution? 

Do you look to others or do you have a strategy to find your own fresh perspective?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Adventures in the Kitchen" - Avocado Stuffed Chicken

I love me some avocado! It is seriously one of my favorite foods.

So the other day I had some chicken thawing on the counter and thought to myself... "Is it possible to make a meal with chicken and avocado that ISN'T a sandwich?"

Lo and behold, this recipe for Avocado Stuffed Chicken over at came up. The site even had a video on how to make the dish which is great for the beginner cook. I was a bit intimidated to make it at first since I've never stuffed anything before, but it was surprisingly easy.

Since there is already a video showing exactly what to do, I didn't take the time to document every step in the cooking process.

I was however very proud of the work I created so here is our dinner in all its Avocado Stuffed Chicken, Quinoa and Aparagus glory.

And a couple of shots to show you how well the chicken stayed stuffed.

The Hubs and I both really like the dish! It had a lot of flavor and felt really gourmet to eat even though it was super easy to make.

Here's the full recipe as transcribed from About . com

Avocado-Stuffed Chicken Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:
  • 4 chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • 2 avocados
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh, minced basil leaves
  • 1 large diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • pepper mill

Slice the Avocados

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the avocados lengthwise all the way around. Twist the halves and using your knife, strike and remove the pit.

With a large spoon, scoop the avocado out of its peel. Then, with a small paring knife, slice the avocado lengthwise.

Make the Stuffing Mixture

Place the slices in a mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, the pepper, the garlic powder, the minced basil, the diced tomato, and the chopped onion. Mix this all together.

Stuff the Chicken Breasts

Next, lightly oil a baking dish with cooking spray. Now, lay a piece of chicken out on a flat surface.

Scoop out a spoonful of the mixture and lay it onto a chicken breast. Roll the meat over the mixture and tuck in the ends.

Place the stuffed chicken in the dish. Do this with all of the chicken; aim to use just about half of your avocado mixture. Then sprinkle the top of the chicken with the cracked peppercorns.

Bake the Avocado Stuffed Chicken

Place them in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. I like to serve this chicken with brown rice. Lay a piece of chicken against the rice and then spoon the more of the avocado mixture all around the chicken.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Exploring New (To Us) Places in the Bay

I've been feeling a little disconnected lately...disconnected from The Hubs, my friends, my family, myself. Not sure what the reason behind it is, but I'm hoping it will soon pass.

In any case, although I've felt this disconnection internally, you'd never know it from hearing about the different places The Hubs and I have been exploring, all with Teresa and Elliott.

Here's a rundown of some of the places we've hit up recently...

Residual Sugar - new wine bar in downtown Walnut Creek

Here was a nice relaxing loungy atmosphere where we were able to sip on wine and enjoy a wine and cheese platter. My favorite part was that I was able to try a whole flight of Portuguese wines that weren't ports. It was a true hommage to my ancestry.

Funny note - After we ordered our flights, the waiter took away our wine menus. At first I was a bit annoyed. How dare he take our wine menu away when we were only getting a few sips of wine! Obviously he knew more than me because this is what we got....

Three full glasses each!

The Counter - custom built burger place in Walnut Creek

T and E had already been to one of these restaurants before, but it was The Hubs and I first time. It was fun to be able to pick every aspect of your burger including special sauce. It was pretty tasty.

My only pet peeve was that our french fries and sweet potatoe fries came as an appetizer and NOT with our hamburger. Weird right?? Teresa's pet peeve - That a hamburger costs MORE without the bun! What???

Farmers Market Bistro - new restaurant in Oak-town

Last Thursday, we headed out to Oakland to try out this super cool lunch truck that specializes in making hamburgers with locally sustainable products. The owner parks his truck outside of a bar allowing patrons to get a hamburger and a drink easily. Being that last Thursday was a BEAUTIFUL day in the neighborhood, when we got up to order our burgers, there was only enough meat to make one hamburger. Not good when there are four of you in a party! (We plan on trying to hit up the lunch truck again soon and hopefully earlier so we don't miss out again!)

So we ventured to Farmers Market Bistro for dinner instead . T and E had actually eaten there the night before, but they liked it so much that they wanted to try it again. Being that it was Thursday, the place wasn't that busy (aka - were treated like royalty).

We got this amazing dish with mussels and a hefeweizen based sauce that was absolutely DELICIOUS when sopped up with some crusty bread slices. We didn't even order this, but was given it as complements of the chef.

Everyone but me ordered hamburgers since that was the original intent of the evening. Everyone was pretty happy with their fare. The salad especially had a really tasty dressing on it. I opted for a pulled pork sandwich, which was also very flavorful with a bit of spice on crusty bread.

The meal concluded with a creme brule with star anaise. Super fancy and yummy. I seriously felt like a judge on Top Chef! :-)

 The Crucible - a non-profile art studio in Oakland

I found out about this place in the most unusual way. Sarah lost her phone in the parking lot of the ski resort a couple of weeks back and a person who works at The Crucible picked it up. When Sarah went to retrieve it, she said the place looked cool and was having a free open house this weekend.

Since T and E had already known about this place, they were up for exploring.

Let me say, this place was HUGE. There was all sorts of cool art work on display  and demonstrations related to the different classes you can take there. They even offer fire dancing classes although we didn't catch any of their performances.

My favorite art exhibits were enameling, glass blowing and neon lights. I think I most loved that you not only learned about the art but about the science behind it in some cases. I think I would like to take a class here sometime, but they are pretty pricey.

They also had lots of fun jewelery on display. I especially like this piece from Littlebird Love.

Image Source: Littlebird Love Etsy
There was also some glass bees that I thought were super cute and reminded me of my friends over at Weddingbee, but unfortunately I didn't get a picture. I so wish I would have! They were intricately made little bees on a stick!

We had a great time exploring these new places and I hope some of you Bay Area readers can try some of these places out too! :-)