Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Know...

I know that I said I would try to keep this blog up as well as my new travel blog, but, well, I'm slacking. Between work, my social life, family life, and everything else, both blogs are slacking a bit.
Also, I've been off seeing the world again. I spent the week of November 11-17 in Italy and had an absolutely fantastic time. It was a very short trip, and there was a lot more that I wanted to see and do but just didn't have time for. Venice was ideal, I've written about it over on the travel blog, and Florence was amazing. I think what impressed me the most about Florence was the art. The galleries are impressive, the sculptures that are out in the piazzas, just the way the city seems to glow in the sunlight... its definitely a city I want to go back to.
The travel blog is something I need to put a little more work into. I'm looking at turning it into a full blown website, throw a few ads up on there and see if I can generate some additional income from it. Perhaps it can serve to fund my future trips. I am ready to take off for Europe, or anywhere else, again already.
In addition, I've joined a gym. A friend of mine is the owner and publisher of Sacramento's Health and Fitness magazine, and he hooked me up with a free one year membership to 24 Hour Fitness.
I activated the membership last month, but have yet to use it. Part of the reason was that I was in the midst of preparing for my trip to Italy, another was that I lacked any shoes appropriate for working out. You can't do the eliptical trainer in a pair of strappy Born sandals. But, last night I got the shoes and sports bras, and a couple weeks ago I got myself some cute yoga pants, so now there are NO excuses.
I've even found a new online goal tracker so that I can keep some traces of accountability for myself. The first two goals I put on there were to exercise and to update my travel blog. Next I added some of the boring day to day chores that I need to keep up on, such as taking out the trash and doing laundry, but I've also added updating this personal blog a couple days each week. I NEED to write more.
I have a renewed outlook on writing since my return from Italy. While sitting on my hotel patios in both Venice and Florence, scribbling away in my journal, I realized that writing keeps me more in touch with my true self and that its when I put the pen, or the keyboard, away, I lose track of my wishes and dreams, and through losing track of those basic things, I just find myself lost in the BS of day to day life.
Another realization I had on this last trip was exactly how much I dislike my current job. I've been with the same company for over 7 years now, and no longer feel satisfied there. As much as I hate the whole process of interviewing for jobs, I have to move on and find something new. I have found one job to apply for and am in the process of revamping my resume. Please, keep your fingers crossed. I need out. As much as I like some of the people I work with, the job itself has worn me down and I need to find something new, something with a little more security, a new scene, and different challenges.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Big News

Heres the big announcement I mentioned last week...

All of you know of my love for travel - my passion for immersing myself in other cultures and seeing the world. You also may know that I seem to have a knack for doing this for a rather cheap budget.
Taking the advice of some friends, I've decided to share my tips and resources on how to travel on a budget while not sacrificing any of the experience.
You can read my travel blog at:

I'll be updating the blog with any of those killer deals I find, general travel tips, stories from my own adventures, and my travel photos.

Please feel free to give my any feedback and don't hesitate to ask any questions.

Bon Voyage!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Stay Tuned

Big news is on its way.....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Before I Begin

First of all, let me apologize by saying that the "o" on my keyboard is a little wonky right now, so please forgive any typos.

Before I begin telling you about the goings on in my life for the past two months, I want to share some background.

Tonight I was able to catch the tail end of Oprah, where she had Dr. Oz as her guest. I saw a little bit of a family who had some children who were beginning to develop weight problems.

OH, how I could relate.

This family was taught healthy eating habits, the children were enrolled in tae kwon do classes and taught healthy eating habits as well as being shown positive self images.

This was where I was no longer able to relate.

When I was 10 years old, I'd started to put on some weight. Yes, I was overweight even back then. I was 4'10" and weighed 130 lbs. I was approximately 45 lbs overweight.
My family did not make any moves to help me develop positive eating habits at that young of age, they didn't help me to develop a positive self image or anything along those lines. My familiy essentially told me I was getting to fat and put me on Weight Watchers. At the age of 10.
Prior to this I was given the green light to drink bottle after bottle of orange soda all day long, then I was thrown to the opposite extreme of green salads with red wine vinegar and lowfat cottage cheese. Meanwhile, the rest of my family was still downing the sodas.
There was no effort made to make the household dinners healthier for everyone, I was just singled out with separate meals from everyone else, singled out at holiday gatherings out with public displays of how I was not allowed to eat what everyone else was eating regardless of how small the portion size. I was not taught healthy eating habits by my family, and I don't feel that Weight Watchers did either. Perhaps if my family had been more supportive the WW principles would have more educational, but the combination of my home life and WW did not create an environment in which healthy eating habits, healthy lifestyle and positive self image were encouraged.

As a result, my weight is something I have always struggled with. I've gone through periods where I didn't give a crap what I ate and basically binged for long periods of time. I've also gone to the opposite extreme where I've wondered if I would have been diagnosed as anorexic if a therapist were to have watched my actions. Granted, I never got down to a weight that was scary or that would cause any health concerns, but I was practicing some extremely unhealthy dietary habits.
I've never really learned the ultimate lesson here though. Its over 20 years later and I still alternate between extremes, never finding that happy medium.

I applaud the parents that were on Oprah today for taking the time to learn how to be healthier, AS A FAMILY, for not making any of their kids appear to feel singled out and ashamed of who they are but for making them want to be healthier. That was not an option that was presented to me at that age. Still I deal with self image issues, and struggle with trying to learn how to adjust my lifestyle and my eating habits so that they compliment one another.

Dr Oz's book may be one of my next purchases, but in the meantime I'm reading up on The French Diet by Dr Montegnac.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Absence Only Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Im sorry that I've neglected you for so long my sweets. I promise, it will never happen again. I have A LOT of updates for you. A LOT.
I'll be working on them this weekend.
I've had some travel, some adventures, some hum drum. All will be very interesting, I promise you this.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Where o where have I been?

Nearly three weeks without a posting and you would think that I'd been out of the country again. You would be wrong.
i have had a lot going on though.
First there was a friends birthday, which I once again baked the cake for:

Spice cake with seafoam frosting and caramel. It turned out nicely and was liked by all.
The following Saturday I headed east on I-80, stopping at the Donner Lake vista point for a photo op:

a while later I reached my destination:

Reno, where I met up with 6 friends for a bachelorette party

We had drinks that came in fishbowls

It was great fun, and one of the worst hangovers I've had in years.

Then, there was last night.
I THOUGHT that I was going to the suprise birthday party for a friends boyfriend and it turned out to be a suprise wedding. It was quite the shock, and an absolutely beautiful evening.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Auntie Nessie

I got to babysit on Monday night.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cooking and Talking.

I made dinner tonight. I was going through some of my Grandmas magazines this afternoon - she buys all of the magazines at the supermarket checkout for their recipes, yet she doesn't cook. Anyways, I found a recipe for a lasagna that I just jad to make this evening. Instead of using lasagna noodles, you use chees raviolis. It was fantastic - I forgot to take any photos though so you'll just have to trust me as to how good it was. I did modify the recipe a little though and added some spinach to the layers.
While cleaning up after dinner I realized that I must talk to my grandmother about my coworkers A LOT. She asked me if I wanted to take some of the leftovers to work tomorrow, and I said yes. Then, she said "I suppose you'll need some for your two boys as well, won't you?"
Also, I'm in a wedding next month. My oldest friend Caren is getting married. I'd like for my nails to grow out some before the wedding so I think I'm going to have to resort to my old stand by for getting my hair and nails to grow for a special occaision - prenatal vitamins.
I leave you with a photo of my niece Kylee and I, this was taken about 3 weeks ago. She is so cute! I can't wait for her personality to really come out.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Erin

Today is my dear cousin Erins birthday.
I have to point out that Erin is more than "just" my cousin. We grew up together, taking summer trips to Disneyland with our grandparents, building forts in our grandparents backyard, being given baths together in grandmas kitchen sink.
Erin is more than just a cousin to me, shes like my siter, and shes my best friend.
For the past few months, Erins been going through some rough times - nothing I'm going to elaborate on here in respect to her privacy - but it has not been the best months of her life. Today is her birthday, and with her birthday coming up I felt that she deserved an extra special celebration.
A little over a month ago, she and I were commiserating over dinner and it got brought up that she'd like to attend horse races sometime. With her birthday approaching, I decided that we would celebrate with her friends at the Sacramento Harness Races. To make it a more festive occaision, "Derby Dress" would be encouraged.
Erin and I in our Derby attire:

Saturday afternoon we met up with friends at the pub, then took a couple of taxis over to Cal Expo for the races.
We had a fabulous time. With a group of close to 25, all in various attire, and a handful in some outrageous hate, we drew a little bit of attention to ourselves. For the 4th race, Erins birthday was announced and we rode in the pace car:

You can't tell, but we are in the car there on the left and are being watched by some of our friends lined up at the gate.
Riding in the pace cars was great, and it was reassuring when the driver and another guy who sat in the back watching advised us that the jockeys are not allowed to whip the horses at any time and the SPCA has a box from which they watch every single race to ensure that the horses are treated humanely.
At the end of the 7th race, our entire group was taken out to the finish line for a photo with the winning horse:

Then 5 of use were taken up on the roof to the announcers box:

Afterwards, we headed back to the pub for further festivities and cake that I'd made the night before:

Happy Birthday Erin, I LOVE YOU!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Department of Health Is SERIOUS

I had the following conversation with my coworker "Bob" Friday afternoon:

B - So, did you hear about that restaurant in Natomas where one of the cooks had Hepatitas A and all of the employees had to be euthanized?
V - (laughing) Wait a minute. All of the employees were EUTHANIZED??
B - not euthanized, I mean embalmed
V - (laughing even more) thats not any better, "Bob". Are you sure you don't mean vaccinated?

Thursday, July 05, 2007


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
~Mark Twain

I love this quote and the message of free-spiritedness (is too a word) which it conveys.

I try to apply this thought process to so much that I do.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The past couple of months I've gotten a little introspective, looking at the things I like and don't like about myself and how I'd like to redirect my life and the things I'd like to change.
Theres nothing major, just a lot of little things and many of them are very superficial.
Perhaps it has something to do with having turned 30 last year but I just feel so incredibly frumpy and I'm tired of it.
I think my complexion is always dull, my hair is always pulled back in a ponytail or one of those half assed buns on top of my head, and I'm always wearing jeans and some tired t-shirt.
So, this past week I've done some shopping. I've bought some shoes, a couple of cute skirts, even a sundress. Wearing them to work the past week has drawn some attention, especially considering my typical wardrobe of jeans and a tired, frumpy t-shirt.
I've also been wearing my hair down, curly, and have been wearing a little bit of makeup - which I don't normally do either.
The complexion -- I've been using Immortelle Brightening Polish by L'Occitane. I think it works great, I don't know what it is or how it works, but after using it a couple of times there is a considerable improvement in my skin - more of a glow. I've also ordered this trio of products in Olive Forte from Laventine. Its gotten great reviews all over the web, and I tried some of the facial wash before ordering it.
Even after using the Brightening Polish I felt there was still room for improvement for my skins texture and clarity, and it still looked a little dull at times, so I was at the store tonight and picked up this skin polishing kit and used it as soon as I got home this evening. So far it seems like its made a difference, my skin feels smoother and seems even clearer and brighter. I'm thinking that by the time the Laventine products arrive I will have my skin regimen down pat - just in time for summer, and my 31st birthday.
Thats just some of the superficial stuff though.
I'm tired of being so passive, I allow people to.... disregard what I have to say a lot of the times, to talk over me in conversations, cut me off, stuff like that. Its one of my biggest pet peeves as well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You Can't Even Afford An Airplane!

Why are the weekends always so damn short?
Friday night was great, I started it off by leaving work 2 hours early and hanging out at the pub until the very last minute when I had to leave to go to my brothers high school graduation. considering he was graduating from a very small private school with a graduating class of only 38, you would think the ceremony would be fairly short. You would be dead wrong.
First, there were 3 girls tied for valedictorian. All 3 spoke. All 3 thanked each individual member of their family and each individual member of the school staff. The third girl to speak had learned how to use Power Point the month prior and put together a slide show consisting of 3 pages of pictures of every single graduating senior. Then the principal spoke. The principal is also the pastor of the church (its a christian school). He spoke to every single senior. THEN, he gave his testimony. I actually thought there was going to be an altar call.

At that point I started to itch, because I'm a heathen.

The timing was great though because I was going to pick a friend up from the Oakland Airport. Shauna, thank you for flying into Oakland on Friday night. You saved me from what had to be the longest high school graduation ceremony in recorded history.
Picking up Shauna was definitely worth the drive to Oakland and back. We were able to catch up on a lot, and its great to see an old friend whenever I have the chance.

Saturday, I slept in then that night I went to Kelly and Megans for a girls night. Several beers were consumed, snickers cake was snacked upon, and I discovered that Megan and I make a formidable team for Pictionary.
Sunday I went over to my cousin Erins and hung out with her and her parents while they figured out her wireless internet/phone/cable/tivo set up. I also napped with her cat Turtle. He has got to be one of the best nap buddies ever - the epitome of cuddlyness.
Before going to Erins I had to take my grandma up to Placerville to pick her car up from the mechanics. About a month or two ago I decided that what I'm going to do as my birthday present to myself is take an introductory flying lesson. On the way up there from Sunrise and Highway 50 we could see some of the airshow that was going on over at Mather Air Field - at that time they had the small planes doing the aerial acrobatics, which I figured was a good time to tell grandma that I'm going to take flying lessons.
Appropriate timing, don't you think?
I'm anticipating her response to be something along the lines of "dangerous, blah blah blah, assinine, blah blah blah, JFK Jr, blah blah blah, what do you need to be up THERE for, blah blah blah, assinine" so, I brace myself.
"Grandma, I've figured out what I"m going to do for my birthday"
"Take flying lessons"
"Great. Just what we need, a PILOT in the family" - now, I cannot express in words the tone in which that was said. The closest equivalent statement would be if you substituted "PILOT" with "DOMINATRIX" or "CAR THIEF" because, as you know, my family - with its addicts, petty criminals, and numerous unwed mothers - is the epitome of white middle class decorum. But, the minute someone becomes a pilot, its all down the crapper.
"Grandma, you know it does take more than 1 lesson to become a pilot. I'm not saying I definitely want to get my license, but if I like it after the one lesson I may end up doing that but it would take a while to actually get my license."
"You can't even afford an airplane!!"
I love her thought pattern here - you want to learn to fly? you're going to have to buy an airplane - too bad you can't afford it. Essentially she's saying "keep your ass on the ground where it belongs"
Erins mom thinks I should make a fake sales contract for a Cessna, take the one lesson and tell granny that I LOVED IT then ask her to cosign on a Cessna. We torment her because we love her.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Seeing Stars

Its been a full week.
I've been spending a lot of time at the pub, my time there is not completely spent drinking - I socialize with friends and also use it as some valuable knitting time. I also run into other bloggers, like Tanya (on the right) and her friend, Janet.

This week I decided that I wanted to make Beth's Little Star Afghan. Its a pattern that I've wanted to make for a while, just was awaiting the occaision, and that occaision would be my cute little niece.
I showed the pattern to my cousin Erin, and she had a BRILLIANT idea... make it look like a starfish. So, I doubled up the yarn and did the center with orange and white and the outside with blue and green.
Here is the finished product:

Thats Erin on the right. She doesn't consider herself to be a crafty person, but she had a great idea, don't you think?
Since I doubled up the yarn, this workerd up INCREDIBLY quickly. I started the starfish section (the orange and white) at the pub Thursday evening, and finished the orange section the same evening while still at the pub. The blue and green I started when I got home that evening - I worked on it a little bit that night, a little more Friday night, and finished it Sunday morning. In total, I would say that the whole project took somewhere between 8 and 10 hours.
This is definitely a pattern I will be using again and seeing how many different ways it can be adapted.
Melissa did a beautiful version of it here with some adorable matching pillows that I know I will tackle one day, once I get my "to do" list whittled down some.
The weekend was a blast,
Saturday afternoon/early evening I attended the birthday party of my friend Megan. her birthdays always have themes and this year it was the letter "M". People were dressed as Mary Katherine Gallagher, Memoir of a Geisha, Marlboro Man, a madam, I was Martha Stewart - I wore regular clothes and brought my craft projects with me - but, I think the best was my friend Phil. He threw on a mariachi hat with his regular clothes and claimed to be a mariachi man. We all thought that did not display any tremendous effort in costume until THE MARIACHI BAND HE'D HIRED SHOWED UP! Do you think I'm kidding? I'm not.

Phil is not one who could ever be accused of doing something half assed.
In fact, he went way further above and beyond that evening and got on stage at a concert to propose to his girlfriend of 3 years, Celeste.
She said yes.
My love and congratulations to the happy couple.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Plaid Baby Afghan & Knit Newborn Caps

When starting this project, I knew that the final steps of weaving the various color yarns through the body of the afghan would be a fairly tedious job - I just didnt realize HOW tedious it would be. It was tedious. As tedious as organizing an entire library according to the dewey decimal system from scratch. I started weaving the pieces through, and half an hour later I only had a few rows completed. I honestly thought that this part would go much much quicker than this - it is just weaving yarn through a mesh blanket after all. YAWN, this project got really boring very quickly. I made it more interesting by taking it down to the pub with me. A couple pints of ale + conversation with some friends made it much more pleasant.
However, I do like the overall effect and the end results:

I'm sure that if I were to actually make the afghan again I'd think of a couple ways to modify it to make it simpler. I'm half tempted to write out my pattern, but I know that its inspired by a pattern that I saw in a book somewhere almost 10 years ago and not knowing how much like the original pattern it is, I dont want to risk infringing upon anyones copyright.

Also, I made a knit cap for my little niece.

It looks SO SMALL. I didnt follow a written pattern, just swatched the yarn, then Googled the average head circumference of a newborn (14" by the way) and went from there. I'm hoping it fits. In the past, I've been notorious for making hats that were too "short" for most adults - mainly myself, I have a HUGE head - but fit on kids. I'm worried about this one because I wasn't following a written pattern, I was just eyeballing it. I had a gnawing feeling that the hat was not going to fit the kids head. So, I've started to make a back up just a little bit bigger.

The Sideways Shell Afghan turned out well. I just love love love this pattern.

The Winnie the Pooh quilt is still in progress, and will be for a while. Really, with everything else that I'm working on, my goal is to have it done by the kids first birthday. If its done anytime before then, then I'm ahead of the game.

I have a feeling that baby/child patterns are going to be my focus for a while.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy Saturday!

Earlier this week I was looking forward to the weekend, thinking that I would have both days to myself. I was so happy at the thought of sleeping in and just lounging around the house doing NOTHING. Yesterday I realized that I would actually have a pretty full Saturday.
I did get out last night, went down to the pub and hung out with some friends. Perused the newest issue of Interweave Knits with a fellow knitter and had a few beers.
This morning I got up, went to visit my perfect little niece - she and my sister came home yesterday - and got to hold her and examine her mop of hair, perfect little lips, adorable little finger nails, and most of all.... the cheeks! I just love those round chubby pudgy little cheeks!
Afterwards I took my car in for an oil change and tire rotation. I suppose I could have sat in the waiting room for the hour and a half and worked on the crochet plaid afghan during that time - I had the feeling that the cashier was a knitter or crocheter (just got that vibe) so she would have appreciated it. Instead, I saw the Big Lots across the street and thought I'd just browse for that hour and half. Can you ever "just browse" in a Big Lots?? I think not. $50 later I walk out with 3 bags of stuff I really don't need. Sure, I got a couple of cute stuffed animals and onesies for Kylee, something for an upcoming birthday gift, a steering wheel cover, and some shampoo and conditioner.
Then, it was a fmaily dinner at Outback to celebrate my baby brothers 18th birthday. My sister and niece joined us, and Kylee was perfect the entire time - slept most of the time and only woke up twice, took a look around, then went back to sleep. She could sense when it was time to eat though. As soon as her mothers food was served, Kylee wanted her dinner as well. I offered to feed her so that my sister could eat her dinner while it was still hot, but she had it covered.

Other than that one feeding, Kylee slept through all of the noise of an Outback restaurant on a Saturday night.

By the way - that cute lavendar afghan? Thats the Sideways Shell afghan I crocheted for her. I gave it to her before I photographed it, so this photo will have to suffice.

Tomorrow, I am knitting. Thats it. Well, and most likely having a pint or two down at the pub.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Vital Stats

I forgot to include Kylees stats in last nights post.. I was out of it from lack of sleep.

Kylee Rose
May 15, 2007 5:31 am
7 lbs 4 oz
18.5 inches long
cheek diameter - Pi (theres no end, they just keep going and going)

Astrological stats:
Sun - Taurus
Moon - Taurus
Ascendant - Taurus
Venus in Cancer
I'm not sure what all of this means, my moms into astrology and immediately ran Kylee's chart the first chance she had.


Kylee Rose
Have you ever seen a more perfect pair of cheeks? I think the cheeks alone make up half of her total body mass.

I am a very proud auntie.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My week in review

Last weeks baby shower went over fantastically. The food was very well received. I intended to take photos of the food and all of the festivities, but I was in the kitchen cooking for almost the entire time. Everything was going so quickly that I missed out on most of the party. I think the favorite dish by far was this Pesto Turkey Baguette. The original recipe called for prosciutto, but with how many people were going to be there I substituted turkey because that much prosciutto would get very pricey very quickly.
It is a great sandwich, very very tasty. I didn't get one at the shower last week, so I made another batch today for our Mothers Day family dinner. This time I used both turkey and a small amount of prosciutto.

Other than that, my week was rather uneventful. Nothing exciting or exceptional. I'm itching to get out of town for something, I'm just not sure what. I'm thinking a day trip to the coast will be coming up soon.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Little Q & A Session....

Shananigans asks five questions...

1. You are quite crafty. What was your first craft obsession, and what was the best item you created ever?

Hmmm... this one is tougher than I'd thought it would be.
I think I was about 6, maybe 7, when my great-grandmother first taught me how to crochet. I wasn't that great at it and it didn't really offer much in the ways of instant gratification so it didn't hold my interest for too terribly long. Around the same age I had a brief obsession with beads and would make these friendship pin things with small seed beads and safety pins - my dad kept his on his corduroy blazer for a LONG time (hey, it was the 80's - give him a break about the corduroy blazer already. Geesh!)
I don't recall the little safety pin friendship beads obsession lasting too terribly long though.
After that it was cross stitch. It started with me wanting to make something for my grandmother in Oregon when I was about 10 or 11 and my mom got me to cross stitch some tea towels for her new kitchen. I THINK I made a set of 7, one for each day of the week. Last year, after my grandmother passed away, my family was going through some of mer memento boxes looking for photos to have up at the services and reception afterwards and I found this piece of one of the tea towels I'd made her nearly 20 years earlier

My grandpa said that she'd been wanting to have the piece matted and framed to hang in the house.
It was so touching to see that she'd kept this faded, tattered and worn piece of cross stitch that I'd made as a child. We found a lot of things that I'd made her over the years - hats, scarves, afghans, photographs, drawings, lots of things, but this piece touched me the most.

2. What are looking forward to most about becoming an auntie?

SO MUCH! Theyre mainly all selfish reasons though, like the benefits of essentially having a child vicariously through someone else. Watching her little personality develop, from the first time she coos to her learning to say my name, subverting her mothers authority (hehe!). When she's old enough I look forward to taking her for the day and going to the zoo or the park, her thinking I'm the coolest auntie ever, feeding her a huge sundae untile she's wired on the sugar and then handing her back over to her mother. All of this without having to push a human being out of my va-jay-jay.
Also, I have 2 aunts myself - Gloria was incredibly cool, more like an older sister. I could talk to her about ANYTHING while I was growing up - like boys, kissing, stuff like that. She was only 14 years older than me, so I grew up thinking that she was incredibly cool and hip. While she was in high school and immediately afterwards, she used me as a litmus test for the guys she was dating. If they thought nothing of taking me to the park as their afternoon date, they were okay as far as she was concerned. If they found it annoying to be hauling around a 3 year old on their date, they failed and she dumped them.
My other aunt, my cousin Erins mother, Marla, is more cultured and would take me to the symphony, ballet and opera. She is a high school french teacher and would take students on European tours every other summer, bring me back little souvenirs from everywhere she went and teaching me about the various cultures. When I was 6, and they'd returned from the first tour that Erin was allowed to go on (she was 7) she helped Erin teach me about the french cafe culture, setting up coffee service on their patio table and allowed me to have a teeny tiny glass of redn wine with a french dinner that she'd cooked. I thought it was amazing that she allowed me to participate in such adult activities and that it made me so elegant. She taught me french phrases and I would have to use those during the french dinner or cafe time.
Neither or my aunts ever treated me like a child, never spoke down to me, and always expected me to treat them with respect and they gave me the same in return.
Basically I want to do the same for my little niece that my aunts did for me. Share the cultures that I encounter, and introduce her to the whole world.

3. You’ve got the travel bug. I know you’ve traveled in Europe and have another trip to Italy coming up. Are there any off the beaten path trips you really want to take, like Antarctica or something?

One of my goals in life is to visit 6 of the 7 continents - all except Antartica. There is some controversy on the issue of Antartica though. My father says that I should visit Antartica, that he's heard how beautiful it is and that I should go just for the ability to say that I've seen all 7 continents. That is tempting but I'm not too sure. First of all, COLD COLD COLD! I don't care for the cold. Two - I read something lately where a person had done a cruise down to the Antartic and how beautiful it was and that in a sense they were tempted to tell all of their friends to go, but at the same time hesitant because it is the one continent that has had very little human influence and the more people see it the more you see evidence of that human influence. I feel as though I shouldn't contribute to the degradation of that environment.
There are some other trips I want to take though - after Italy, I'm hoping to make my way to a continent other than Europe. I would LOVE to go to South America, I just have a hard time deciding where. Argentina? Chile? Brazil? I would like to learn to tango in Buenos Aires. Climb to Macchu Picchu (sp?) to see the ruins. Stand at the foot of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and feel small, even though I'm not overtly religious.
I would also like to go to Asia, but again can't decide where. Japan? China? Hong Kong? Laos? I would like to see the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Walk along the Great Wall of China. See the Cantonese Opera perform, then do a little shopping, and finish the day by watching the sunset over Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong. Go to Laos and feel at peace in a Buddhist Temple.
There are so many places I want to experience.

4. If you could quit your job and make up your own career (threat of financial instability notwithstanding) what would it be?

This one is easy - travel writer and photographer. If I could market myself as the female version of Rick Steves I would do it in a heartbeat. Offering travel guides and tips for the independent woman would make my soul sing.

5. You, like me, are a pub dweller on occasion. What’s your favorite from the tap?

That depends upon where I am.
Here in Sacramento my favorite is Newcastle Brown Ale. When I can find it I do prefer Amber Bock, but thats not easy to come by on tap.
In Ireland - Guinness, hands down. The flavor of Guinness over there is completely different than here, it has a sweeter, almost chocolate, taste to it.
In Germany, it would be Kolsch. I'd never heard of it before going there, and it is much much lighter than what I normally prefer but it was great. I've heard that Curve Ball by Pyramid Brewing Company is highly comparable to the Kolsch of Cologne Germany, where I had it, and we have a Pyramid Brewery here in Sacramento so I may be going there to try it soon.
In France, I only drank wine so I'm not really in the position to suggest anything from there.

If anyone else wants to answer 5 questions, let me know - the first 10 to respond will get 5 customized questions from ME!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Saturday is my sisters baby shower and I have a lot of prep work to do. A lot. Theres going to be up to 40 people there and my sister wants the menu theme to be "miniatures". So, I'll be making finger sandwiches, hors d'ouerves, cupcakes, and petit-fours.

To start with, I have about 65 recipes to go through and narrow down the menu for the occaision. Today, Friday, after work I have to do all of the grocery shopping and at least make the cupcakes and petit-fours so that I dont have to do EVERYTHING Saturday morning.

Tonight, I start with narrowing down the menu...

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm Sick

I've been sick for most of this week.
I finally called the doctor this morning and talked with the advice nurse - he thinks it sounds like I could have strep throat. GREAT. So, I went in today to be gagged with the giant Q-Tip. I should have the test results tomorrow morning.
In the haze of my sickness I've been drinking plenty of Hot Toddies - I firmly believe that enough brandy, lemon, tea, and honey will cure anything that ails you. Or at least it makes the illness a bit fuzzy around the edges.

Sis is out of the hospital and back home on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. I've been crafting away. I've finished the body of the "plaid afghan" and just need to weave through the colors now. I've started knitting a cap for when she's born, it should be finished tonight. Sis asked that I make one for the newborn photos that will be taken at the hospital. I've also started a new afghan - its a great pattern I got off the Project Linus website - I'm doing the Sideways Shell Baby Afghan. It works up fairly quickly, has great texture, and I've used it countless times.

I've found another pattern that I'm going to make for the kid, this cute little pony! The baby's room is being decorated in a fairy tale wizard like theme, so I'm thinking that with a couple of minor adaptations, this cute little pony could easily be a cute little unicorn to better match the theme of the room.

I'll post pics of all completed items as they're finished.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On the Flip Side...

This week we found out that my sister is having a girl. Wednesday night she was admitted to the High Risk Maternity Ward for mild toxemia and contractions. Everything is being brought under control and the docs dont think its anything life threatening for either one of them, but they do want to keep her in for a couple more days and are thinking my little niece will most likely come a couple of weeks early.
Last week I had not started a single project for the kid, but now I am overflowing with them. I've been crocheting the plaid afghan I mentioned last week and am over half way through the body of it - next I just have to decide what colors to weave through. I also have a crib quilt started - I went with Winnie the Pooh, its a classic and gender neutral - I'd picked it out before we found out that the baby is a girl.
Yesterday was when I went a little nuts.
A yarn shop down the street is closing so everything is on sale. I picked up some yarn.
Then a fabric shop is closing as well so everything theres on sale too. I got even more yarn, and some cross stitched bib kits, and then some yarn. At this point, I'll still be knitting and crocheting for the kid when she has her own kids.
This afternoon Sis called from the hospital bored to death and begging me to bring her something to do. I took her the cross stitch bib kits, hung out at the hospital with her for a bit, and then came home to watch The Amazing Race. I've been in since, working on the plaid baby afghan, only taking a brek to paint my nails, and write this entry. I am going to be hauling these projects everywhere for the next couple of weeks, I've got a lot to do in very short order.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Where o where have I been?

Pretty much nowhere, really.
Since I haven't posted in three weeks you may have thought I'd taken off for someplace exotic or was on some adventure somewhere. So not true.
I did go somewhere though - two weeks ago I went to Redding for the 2nd birthday of a friends son. Other than that, I havent been up to a whole heck of a lot.
I did get my nose pierced though, see:

Yes, it did hurt. If anyone ever tells you that it doesn't, theyre full of crap. It wasn't too bad though, but it was tender for a few days afterwards. If you're ever inclined to have your nose pierced and are in the greater Sacramento area, I highly recommend Elton at American Graffiti - he was great!
In other news, Ive been planning my trip to Italy for November. What started out as a group of three of us, myself and two coworkers, has now grown to EIGHT! Myself, the two coworkers, my friend Shauna and her husband Jesse, my lovely cousin Erin, and our friends Sheena and Laura. It is going to be a blast!
My sister is still pregnant, and you would think that with a little niece or nephew on the way I would be busy with knitting and crocheting and stuff like that. You would be wrong. i haven't started a single thing, which is so unlike me. I have looked at plenty of patterns and thought of varous things I can make for the little one, but have yet to start a single project or even gotten the supplies for one. I suppose part of the reason that I haven't started anything yet is that we're not yet positive of the gender. Whenever an ultrasound has been done, the technician says that they don't see evidence of any "boy parts" but because of the angle they can't be 100% positive that its a girl. Evidently the little bugger is modest.
I do talk to the belly from time to time, saying things like "I'm your cool auntie. When your mom gets on your nerves, and it will happen, you'll come hang out with me. I'm the cool one who travels all over the place and will bring you toys from all over the world".
I am looking forward to being an auntie, a little scared at the thought of my sister as a mother though. If you knew her, you'd understand.
Given all of this, I am going to start crocheting an afghan today. It will be based upon a pattern I found a number of years ago that the body of the afghan was crocheted so that there were holes every other stitch, then lengths of yarn were woven through the holes, creating a pretty plaid like affect. I figure that I'll crochet the body in white and then can finish it when the little tyke is born, weaving in either pink or blue at that time. This way, at least I'm starting something that will be quick and easy to finish once the baby is born. I just wish I could find the original pattern - if I remember correctly it was a book of numerous afghan patters published by Red Heart and had some really pretty afghans, and some spectacularly tacky ones as well, I just have absolutely no idea what the title of the book was or what the cover even looked like.
In other big news, I'm no longer drinking beer. Not that this is some noble attempt to quit drinking or anything like that, I've just switched to wine is all. I have heart issues on both sides of my family, so red wine will help with any genetic factors I may have inherited. Plus, I'm trying to lose some weight before Italy and am cutting back on carbs which means, no beer. sigh. It hasn't been hard or anything like that - a glass of red wine at the end of the day is nice.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Operation Debt Reduction: Possibly Delayed.

But only by a little.

I returned from my last trip to Europe and did start on my previous resolution to pay down my debt with all "extra" money that I had.
Then I got a travel special email. I think you know where this is going.
Another deal that was too good to pass up... I'm going to Italy in November!
Two of my coworkers and I will be spending a week in Venice and Florence. We are SO excited. Both Venice and Florence are on the list of cities that I want to go to, I just haven't been able to find reasonable airfare to Italy so far.
I am going to ride in a gondola, see The Birth of Venus and David. I just can't wait. November seems so far away now.

Heres a few more of the photos I love from Germany and Paris...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


We arrived in Cologne Germany on a Saturday.
Finding our hostel was NOT easy, so by the time we got checked in we were already tired and grumpy, but still wanted to get out and see a little bit of the city.
First stop, a beer garden for a late lunch/early dinner and then walked to the city center from there. Without a very good map, all we had to use as a point of reference was the peaks of the cathedral.

The Dom Cathedral is beautiful, with incredibly unique architecture, and absolutely massive.
Its as beautiful at night as it is in the day time

We spent Saturday through Tuesday in Cologne and a neighboring town, Aachen.
Tuesday night we went to Paris.
There is not enough I can say about Paris. Its beautiful, and the people are wonderful. That old stereotype that the Parisiens are rude? Completely unfounded from what I experienced. Seriously, I didn't encounter anything like that at all.
I absolutely loved the city and want to go back to visit again and again and again.
I think this is my favorite photo of the entire trip.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm home, and...

I'm going to be an auntie

Thursday, February 22, 2007

And, I'm Off....

My flight leaves in just a little under 5 hours, so I'll be leaving my house in about 3-1/2 hours. My laundry is done, my toiletries are all together, I just have to throw them all in my bag still, do a couple little chores, and take a shower.
I am excited beyond belief, but its also completely surreal as though I'm not REALLY going to be in NYC tomorrow visiting an old high school friend. I'm not REALLY going to be in Germany on Saturday morning. I'm not REALLY going to be in Paris on Tuesday night. None of this is REALLY happening. But, I can't wait for it to actually happen, to see Germany and Paris and NYC.

I'll take LOTS and LOTS of pics and share some of my favorites when I return.

Au Revoir!!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Debt and Travels

For over a year now I’ve been saying that I wanted to get my debt paid off.
I guess what started that was when I paid off my old car last January, and how liberating it was to have that big monthly payment go away.
I didn’t immediately set about paying down the debt. First, I went to Ireland.
It was an amazing trip, and well worth the money. Traveling is something that I’ve always wanted to do but something had always held me back. I’m not sure if it was fear, thinking I couldn’t afford it, or what. Something just always held me back.
Last year I decided that I was just going to do it, so I booked my trip to Ireland. Some people thought I was crazy for going by myself, but I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
When I got back I did work more towards paying down my debt, for a while. Then crap happened. I had to make a last minute flight up to Portland, which was rather pricey and threw the budget WAY off track, and I never fully got back on track. Then, I had to buy a new car. Then, I found the airfare special to Germany, which was quickly followed by Christmas. Yes, I could have been more fiscally responsible and passed on the vacation and put that money towards my debts, but I couldn’t. The price was so low that I just could NOT let the opportunity pass. I NEED TO TRAVEL. I LOVE to travel.
On last years trip I had such a wonderful time. It was wonderful to throw myself into another culture, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Hell, I am doing it again tomorrow night.
So, yes the budget has derailed. It has crashed and burned like you would not believe. Not only have I not finished paying it off, but I’ve ran it up even more. Aside from my car loan, I believe I’ve added more than $1,000 to my credit card debt. Yes, things could be worse, but when i was so close to having it all paid off its frustrating to see it climb back up like that.
So, once I return from my trip I’m putting a budget back in place. I want to be debt free by the time Christmas rolls around. I want to get all of that extra weight off my shoulders. There really is no reason for me to be carrying this debt around in the first place. I make enough money and my expenses are low enough that I shouldn’t have any credit card debt. It truly is just irresponsible spending on my part..
So, once I return I’ll be paying off the credit card debt. I should be able to comfortably pay it all of by Halloween, Thanksgiving at the latest. Then I’ll celebrate with a short vacation somewhere. Maybe a long weekend to Canada, or perhaps to visit my birth father in Boston. Returning from that, I’ll take the money that had been going towards the credit card payments, and put it towards the car payment so that I can pay it off that much sooner.
I just want to be debt free.

So, I’m off on vacation. Tomorrow night Erin and I leave for New York where we’ll spend the day Friday before flying out to Germany that evening. We’ll spend a few days in Germany, then a few days in Paris before coming home. I’m so excited, but it’s also so surreal.
Its currently midnight. My plan was to come home after work, do my laundry and pack.
As I'm sure you can guess, that did not happen. I came home from work, and got an email from Erin that a few of our friends were getting together at the pub to see us before we leave tomorrow. I just got home. Still, no laundry is done. Not a thing packed. I'm going to be up all night. I won't have time to get much done tomorrow either considering that I am going in to work for a half day. I was planning on leaving at noon until I found out from a coworker that theres a "suprise" Bon Voyage pot luck for me tomorrow at noon so I'll be sticking around for that and probably won't get home until around 2 pm, then have to leave for the airport around 630. I can't imagine that I'll have much of a problem sleeping on the planes.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I did finally get out of the house Saturday and made it to Walmart and got a good portion of the stuff that I needed, and then made it over to Mervyns where I was able to get some good deals. Once I got home, I got nothing else accomplished.
Sunday I did get out and met Erin, my travel buddy, at Old Navy and Ross where we picked up a couple of tees and sweaters. Once I got home, I got nothing else accomplished.
My plan for yesterday was to stop at Target on my way home to pick up the last few items I need and then to come home and start doing laundry and packing. That plan went down the drain when my dad called and invited me to come over for dinner with him and his girlfriend after work. I didnt get home until 10pm, so once again I got nothing else accomplished.
Tonight I did go to the bank after work to put a travel alert on my account and then stopped off at Target, ULTA, and Walgreens to pick up the last few items on my list. Now, I'm sitting here watching Law & Order.
This is all that is left on my "To Do" list:
1 - cash in my jar of change at that machine in the grocery store
2 - finish some projects at work & set up the "Out of Office" on my email (that will be done thursday morning)
3 - laundry
4 - pack
5 - change the outgoing message on my cell phone so people don't expect a call back anytime soon "Hi, this is Vanessa and I'm in EUROPE!!"
6 - put batteries in the camera, travel alarm clock, cd player, all that stuff
7 - burn a couple of mix cd's for the trip. I'm wanting one with calmer music and one more upbeat. any song suggestions?
8 - finish photoshopping the last of those photos from the wedding I photographed 2 weeks ago
9 - put the photos on cd's and get them to the happy couple
10 - clean my bathroom
11 - return dvd's
12 - I know I'm forgetting something

Right now, I'm TIRED. I still need to take the trash out and get tonights purchases out of my car, but I'm considering just going to bed now and tackling it all tomorrow night and Thursday afternoon. I'm working a full day tomorrow but am leaving work at noon Thursday so that I'll have time to take care of any last minute details before leaving for the airport. My flight leaves at 815 pm, which means I need to be at the airport by 715 so I should leave my house somewhere around 630. Between now and then I have to do all of the above.
I am going to finish photoshopping the wedding photos and copy them to a cd before I go to bed so that I can at the very least cross those things off my list.

I just cant believe that I'm leaving in less than 2 days. Friday we have a VERY long layover in Manhattan, about 9 hours, so we'll be meeting up with an old friend from high school. After that, its on to Koln Germany and Paris France. YIPPEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

NO Motivation Whatsoever

Last night I went over to some friends house for some wine and to hang out with the girls. It was fun, we talked, drank wine, played Cranium. After a while though, the cats got to my allergies so I took a Claritin that my friends had in their bathroom. Wine and Claritin do not mix well for me. It wasn't very long afterwards until I was saying "I really need to sleep. NOW".
I stayed the night, got a decent amount of sleep, came home and thought it was great to be up early on a Saturday and that there was a lot I would be able to get done. I need to go to the store and get some items for my trip - little things like travel sized toiletries - and I'd like to find a sweater at Mervyns with a gift card I got back at Christmas. Part of the errands I wanted to run was to upload some photos I'd taken to so that I could pick them up in store at the 1 hour photo when I went there for the toiletries that I need to get. After uploading them I sat down to watch an hour of crappy Saturday morning TV, and promptly fell back asleep. For 3 hours. Its now 4:30 and I still havent done a single thing that I need to get done. Well, I did take a shower, but I'm still just sitting here not doing any of the following....
getting a white foam core board for photographing my jewelry
going to Walmart
going to Mervyns
putting gas in my car
cleaning the bathroom

I leave in only FIVE days so I do need to get all of this done this weekend.
I am DETERMINED to not be running around like an idiot Thursday afternoon in the last couple of hours before my flight leaves.

I also have a couple of jewelry projects to complete before Thursday. One is for my mother, she'd found this watch on eBay that she wanted that was a regular watch face with a beaded gemstone band. Its really pretty. So, she bought it, paid for it, and waited for it to show up. And waited, and waited, and waited. The seller hasn't responded to any attempts to communication, and hasn't responded to the complaints that my mom has made directly through eBay. So, she calls me up to make her a replica of it. I think it will turn out nicely, I have some similar gemstones to what the woman used, but not identical. i'll post a photo of it when I'm done. Considering my lack of motivation, I should be able to get it done tonight while I sit watching movies and not doing the chores that I need to get done.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I LOVE The Amazing Race.
Considering how much I love to travel and how much of the world I want to see, it is the perfect show for me - 28 days of racing around the world.
My lovely cousin Erin is a fan of the show as well, and for the past year or two she and I have jokingly said that we thought we'd make a great team. I'm a bit more practical, can navigate well, find the cheapest and quickest routes between locations, stuff like that. Erin is the one who would handle the cultural issues better, she's GREAT with languages, speaks German, a bit of French, and a smidge of Arabic. We would balance each other out fairly well.
We've been saying that we'd be this great team purely in jest, never with any intentions of ACTUALLY auditioning for it. I have my job, and she has school, it really would take some fancy footwork to coordinate our lives to match the filming schedule and all.
Tonight we were at the pub, talking about our trip to Germany and Paris next week.
Out of nowhere 3 or 4 of our friends say that they think we'd be a great team for The Amazing Race. I take this as a sign that we need to apply.
So, I just have to find out when the next round of auditions are - if the auditions are in person or via videotape.
Sooooo, any suggestions on how to make an audition that grabs the attention of the casting directors?

Erin and I on my 30th birthday... I think we'd make a killer team.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

10 days and counting

yep, only 10 days until the big Germany/Paris trip.
Just like last year with my trip to Ireland, the closer it gets the less real it seems.

The past week my Grandpa from Oregon has been in town visiting. Its been a good visit. Wednesday night we went to the Pub for a pint, some shepards pie and bangers and mash. It was fun, he got to meet some of my friends and understands why I like to hang out there. Then Friday night we had dinner at my cousins other grandparents house, and then Saturday night I hosted a big family dinner at my moms house. I made a great chicken and pasta dish. I'd seen two recipes online recently that I liked, but of course I couldn't find them when I needed them. So, I did the next best thing and threw together what I could remember from the two. I started out by cooking bacon, onion, garlic, and chicken in a sauce pan, then removed all of that and used the remaining bacon grease to make a roux, and thinned it out with some milk, marsala wine, and threw in a bunch of mozzarella cheese. Definitely not the healthiest dish, but damn it was good. To add some bit of nutrition to it, when I was cooking the pasta I tossed in some broccoli florets for the last minute or so.

Since he leaves early Monday morning, we got together for a family brunch this morning in Folsom and I was able to get some pictures of the family together. Looking at these photos this afternoon it struck me that he is my last surviving grandfather. Even though I'm sure that we'll have countless opportunities for more photos like this, I'm going to treasure these photos forever. The last few years have been very hard for him, starting with my grandmother being diagnosed with lung cancer and then watching him care for her while she was sick, and seeing how sad he was during those 2 years, and how devastated he was when she passed away last year, its so good to see him smiling like this again, and looking genuinely happy.

Me and Grandpa

Me, Grandpa, and my little brother, Ryan

Ryan, me, Dad, Grandpa


Monday, February 05, 2007

As it turns out, I'm alive and well after all

I am well on the road to recovery. Today was the first day in over a week that I've felt like an actual human being for the entire day. Even after a full day at work, I felt well enough to stop off at the pub for a while.
Saturday, I started out feeling fairly normal. Then I photographed the wedding and by the end of the ceremony I just wanted to crawl back into bed, but still had the ceremony to go. After a seven and a half hour day I stopped at a friends house on the way home so I could relax for a bit. It was great, we visited for a few hours, had a couple glasses of wine, and snuggled her puppy before I continued on home.
Sunday I was supposed to go pick my grandpa up from the airport along with my dad, brother and sister. I was so completely and utterly exhausted that I completely slept through it and ended up spending almost the entire day back in bed.
But, now that I'm back amongst the living I'll be taking Grandpa down to the pub one night this week for a pasty and a pinto and to meet all of my friends.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I'm Dieing

I used to look forward to sick days. In high school I actually liked it when I was sick and could spend the day on the couch, watching TV, taking long bubble baths, and sleeping.
Now, I hate it.
I have some nasty version of the flu and have been lingering somewhere between wellness and death for the past 3 days. During the night, I'm freezing cold and can't get enough blankets on me, but during the day I'm sweating hot. Each day the symptoms are fewer, yet I feel worse. I left work early Wednesday, stayed home today and will most likely be staying home tomorrow. This is not good news. I have to get better. I have to try on bridesmaid dresses tomorrow evening, photograph a wedding Saturday afternoon, and pick my Grandpa up from the airport Sunday morning then go to breakfast with him and the siblings, then on to my dad & his girlfriends Superbowl party.
I've been taking Airborne and its not helping one bit. It did help at first before this flu really set in, but now it does nothing.
I've finally resorted to my Grandmas old remedy. Hot Toddies. Hot tea, lemon, honey, and a fair amount of brandy. I don't know if its working, but it does seem to be helping with the headache a little bit.

On a completely different note, does anyone have any recommendations for good walking shoes?
Its only 3 weeks until my trip and I'd like to find a good pair of walking shoes that don't look completely dorky and won't tear my feet up (most shoes cut into the back of my ankles).

And to go even more off topic, I can't decide what to do with my hair.
My hair is a medium to dark brown, and back in October I had some blond streaks done.
Its time to do something more with my hair and I can't decide between putting more blond in, going back to brown, or red. Opinions?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm Home

I'm home. The trip was great. Very relaxing, and of course it was wonderful to see Grandpa and all of my relatives.
The scenery at my Grandfathers is absolutely amazing. From his deck there is a gorgeous view of Mt. Hood...

and you wake up to things like a herd of 25 elk in the driveway

and theres all kinds of old crap to take cool pictures of.
This is the windmill on my Grandpas deck

This is the wheel on an old 1919 tractor on the farm where my uncle rents a garage for his welding business

and this is said uncle, busy at work

I'm glad to be home, have bridesmaid duties this week, a wedding to photograph Saturday, and my Grandpa (yes, the same one I just got back from visiting) is flying in on Sunday.

Only 23 days until the big trip.