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?