Sunday, December 24, 2006


I hope all of you are enjoying your holdiays with those that mean the most to you.

One thing about the holidays is that you often see family members that you don't have the pleasure of visiting with during other times of the year.

Last night I celebrated Christmas with my birth fathers side of the family. I only get to see some of these relatives once or twice a year. That can be a good thing. I had the following conversation with my aunt "C" (the wife of my youngest uncle) last night.

C: So, Vanessa, how old are you now?

Me: I just turned 30 this past August.

C: Ohhhhhhhhh. Thats not young.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Countdown is ON!

Ideally, I'd like to have all of my Christmas shopping done by the 22nd. That only gives me 9 days.
I choose this date because I am of a unique family situation (mom, step-dad I grew up with thinking was my father, and a birth father). Anytime you have a family situation where some family members are here, some are there, and some are way the heck over there. My birth fathers family (grandma, her husband, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc - but not the birth father, he's on the other coast) all celebrate Christmas on the 23rd so I have to have all of their shopping done by then and if I'm going to have that half of the family done, I may as well have it all done so that I don't have to run around like an idiot dealing with the masses on the 24th.

At this point, I have less than half of my shopping done.

And NONE of my holiday crafts completed.

On the shopping list:
Father (since he lives in Boston, I'd like to get his gift shipped off by this Friday to avoid paying FedEx prices)
Lindsay (21 y.o. sister)
Ryan (17 y.o. brother)
Erin (cousin)
Jeremy (cousins husband)
6 cousins (ages range from 8 to 17)

On the craft list:
Janae's afghan (6 y.o. cousin) - thankfully, this is about 1/2 way done and shouldn't take long once I actually sit down to work on it.
And there are a handful of friends and coworkers that I will be making or baking token gifts for.

I'm sure I'll get everything done in time, it's just going to be a bit of a challenge.

I do this every year. About a week or two before Thanksgiving I start thinking "I should start working on my Christmas shopping NOW so that I don't have it all to do at the last minute" I never actually start.

There is one slight reprieve though. I'll have Friday afternoon off from work, possibly the whole day if I can get my work done ahead of time.

In other countdown news, only 22 days until Erin and I leave for GERMANY AND PARIS!!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dear Santa,

I've been good this year. Really, I have.
Many great things have happened this year. I went to Ireland, I was able to go visit my grandmother a few times before she passed and was able to be with her during her last days, I managed to sell some of my jewelry (and one of these days, hopefully very soon, I will launch my ETSY site), I got a new position at work, I saw friends marry, my cousin Erin and her husband Jeremy moved back to Sacramento, I was able to test knit a pattern for Stefanie Japel, and I got a new car. I am generally happy with my life. On top of all of that, a friends mother who has had breast cancer for the past 5 years has gone into remission - something the doctors have been saying would never happen. I am very grateful for all of this.

However, I've also had to deal with a lot of crap this year. I got rear ended. THREE TIMES. My mom had to have angioplasty for the 2nd time in 3 years. My iPod was stolen. My youngest aunt and her 3 kids (ages 15, 14, and 6) were living with us for the past 3+ months (they just moved out last weekend. Thank God). My father increased the frequency of the "when are you giving me grandkids?" pressure. My knee problems seem to have increased in both pain and frequency. And, I've managed to break my digital camera.

Apparently I've dropped it a time too many and now the picture is slightly off from what is seen through the viewfinder. To get the picture I want, I have to go up and to the left a bit from my intended subject. Fun.
So, Santa, I really wouldn't mind it if you left a digital camera under the tree for me this year. Really, I don't need a lot of bells and whistles. I'm not asking for the Nikon D100 of my dreams. Something with 6 megapixels or higher, video capability, decent zoom, and macro settings would be GREAT! Something I can carry in my tote bag to Europe with me and take pretty pictures of the Eiffel Tower, the Cologne Cathedral, and Notre Dame.

Something like this:

Its the Kodak EasyShare Z612 and it has everything I'm looking for. 6.1 megapixels, 12x optical/4.2x digita/50x total zoom, equivalent to a 35-420mm lens focal length, 32 MB internal memory, rechargable battery and pictbridge compatible if I later decide to get a photo printer.
If thats not enough, it can take macro shots like this:

Thats a user photo from Customer reviews on Amazon give it 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.
So, Santa, do you think theres room in your bag for something like this?


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Something to look forward to...

I was having a rough week at work, and decided to distract myself with looking at possible vacations for next year.
I asked to two guys that I work with if they had any suggestions on where I should go. Their responses??
"Iraq" and, "North Korea".
When I told them that I would prefer to go someplace that was more hospitable to both Americans AND women, they said:
"Well, now you're just being difficult."
I looked at airfare to my top choice of destinations - Italy was ranging about $1,200 and up. Paris was about $800 or more.
Then I got the weekly Top 20 travel deals email from and one special caught my eye - Newark NJ to Cologne Germany for $198 roundtrip.
While Germany may not have been my top 2 or 3 choices, it is definitely on the list of places I'd like to visit eventually and at that price, there is no way I could pass it up. There are a couple of drawbacks:
1. I had to purchase the tickets by 12/12 so this does cut into my holiday budget ever so slightly.
2. I now have to find cheap airfare from Sacramento to Newark
3. I have to go the last week of February, so it will be COLD.

However, none of these are enough to stop me from going.

One of the best parts? My lovely cousin Erin will be going with me. This is going to be GREAT! As close as Erin and I are, we've never traveled together other than day trips around Northern California. What will be especially helpful is that she speaks some German.
Our flight will leave Newark at 7 pm, so we're considering taking a red eye into New York the night before so that we can spend the day in Manhattan prior to leaving for Germany.

We are SO SO SO excited!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I'm still here, haven't disappeared or anything.

Thanksgiving was great.
I got up early and made my caramel apple pie. It was.... okay. Just okay. I didn't buy the brown sugar until Wednesday evening, so all that was left was dark brown so it had a bit more of a molasses type flavor, and I think I put too much brown sugar in the pie. It's definitely a recipe I'd like to work on perfecting.
Dinner at my aunts house was great. After dinner I was able to prevent myself from lapsing into food coma by knitting while watching the first season of Desparate Housewives with Erin & Jeremy.
The rest of my weekend, i did NOTHING. I was the perfect example of laziness. I just laid around and knit and watched television and movies. I was a sloth and it was great.

I may be planning my next international travel, nothing definite yet... I'm undecided.
For now, I'll just say Auf Wiedersehen