August 24, 2011

Moving Day

So... I have a new home.

Or, at least my blog does.

I explained the why over there, but I just have to say, it's been a wonderful ten years here at Wandering Aimlessly. I'll be extremely sad to see it go. To no longer be visiting.

Shelley, thank you for letting my blog live on your server for so long. It's had a happy home here, and has seen a decade of my life. This blog, especially its name and the web address, brings me right back to college. Nostalgia, even without reading old-old posts!

So long,! *wipes tear*

August 18, 2011

"Thinly-Veiled Cat Pic-Spam" OR "The Tale of Monet and Cymbeline"

Five-almost-six years ago, Caitlin and I cooked our very first "real" Thanksgiving dinner--with "real" grown-ups (Kenny's parents) in attendance! It went really well, for the record. I stayed overnight on an air mattress on her living room floor, since going home to an empty house didn't appeal when the next day was my birthday.

For my birthday, Caitlin and I went down to the local animal shelter to look at kittens. Gen and I, recently roommates, had decided to get two cats. One for her, and one for me, so we'd be clear whose cat was whose at the "inevitable divorce," as we called it. Since Gen was out of town for the holiday, I was going to look at one kitten. And probably not take one home at all. Probably.

But then, there was this two-headed ball of fur in one of the cages. Two tiny kitten bodies wrapped so tightly around each other in sleep that you couldn't tell what limb belonged to which kitten.

Lap pile


"That one's Sweetie Pie," the shelter worker said, pointing, "and she's Baby Girl. They're not from the same litter, but they've been together since just about birth."

First week home

Two kittens. Two kittens who came together as a package deal, as far as I was concerned. I got to hold and snuggle and pet both kittens, and my heart melted.

I called Gen. "I came to the shelter just to look, and there are two really adorable kittens here!"

The shelter worker took my phone and explained Sweetie Pie and Baby Girl's story.

Since Gen really wanted to be involved in kitten-choosing, I told her I'd wait and we could come back Monday, when she was back in town.

Then a family with about thirty-seven kids (four or five, really, but they were everywhere) came in, and immediately found my two-headed bundle of fur. "Only one," the mother said. And then pointed at Baby Girl and asked to see her.

I urgently hissed into the phone, "There's a family here, and they're going to split up the kittens!"

"...We're changing their names, RIGHT?" Gen asked.

That's how Gen and I came to have kittens. Monet (mine) and Cymbeline (hers).

Tiny Monet Christmas Cymbeline

And now, we're on the verge of that "inevitable divorce." Not just of Gen and me as roommates, but of Monet and Cymbeline as adoptive sister kitties.


Something interesting

And it is so freaking sad!

We're splitting up the kittens I adopted because I couldn't bear to see them split up! I thought long and hard about keeping them together. Maybe Gen should take both of them? But I couldn't do it! I couldn't just hand Monet off. And besides, then Gen would have three cats (her future-roommate has a cat) and I'd have zero.



Gen's future-roommate's aforementioned cat will (hopefully) be Cymbeline's Monet friend. And Steve and I plan to get another cat so Monet will (just as hopefully) have a friend. I'm reading up on how to introduce new cats to a household and all that.

But for now, I'm soaking up every ounce of Cymbeline-time I can get. And I feel like I've taken advantage of her over these past five years. Every morning, while I'm getting ready for work (usually during the coffee-drinking, news-watching portion of my morning), Cymbeline climbs up into my lap and starts purring and kneading and sucking on the fur of her own arm. And usually, when I need to get moving and actually, you know, get ready for work, I gently nudge her off my lap.



Lately, I just do everything I can from a cat-sitting-in-my-lap position. I do my hair and make-up with her in my lap, bring my breakfast upstairs so I can eat it when I'm ready, with Cymbeline in my lap. It's kind of crazy, I know. But I'm going to miss my little ball of Cymbeline-fur so much.


August 16, 2011

Gettin' down to business

My M.O. throughout college was to do things at the last minute, but the last minute that wouldn't leave me without sleep or missing out on anything. I never pulled an all-nighter, never skipped a birthday dinner or class because I had to study or finish a paper or project. Time pressure helped me not wander aimlessly (ha!) through a task, not over-think or dawdle, but I think I was a good enough planner to leave myself just enough time to do whatever it is that needed doing, and do it well. Not half-ass or throw together anything.

Hopefully, this time-management finesse is carrying through to the wedding.

I've had to kick it into high gear lately. My To-Do list is divided out by weekend.

This past weekend, I: got my veil, picked up my dress from alterations, got my wedding band engraved, ordered Steve's wedding band, got most of the gifts bought, made half of the table number displays, sewed two ring bearer pillows, trial-dipped pretzels, trekked to two different office supply stores (unsuccessfully, unfortunately) for various items, figured out the guest book, cut our cell phone bill in half, cleaned the house, and ran our usual weekend errands.

Together, Steve and I were a lean, mean, productivity machine.

But much like in college, when I really put my nose to the grindstone, I miraculously still have time for the fun stuff. Like our Sunday afternoon.

Gonna play!

Run, run, run!




Perfect Sunday



August 09, 2011

Thirty-six days and counting...

By the time this wedding comes around, we will have been planning it for almost a year and a half.

Last September, we celebrated our negative-first anniversary. How many people have the opportunity to celebrate a negative-first anniversary? I think it's kind of awesome.

There have been little pockets of panic or stress along the way, moments of I'm forgetting something major, aren't I? and I should have done that already! Ack! but it's been more or less easy-going. I attribute most of this to my mom, who has been absolutely amazing at juggling her life and my wedding.

Steve has also been a champ at getting things done. He put together invitations and came up with music and has tromped after me through Michael's and Bed, Bath & Beyond more times than I can count.

And now, just about fifteen months after Steve proposed, the wedding is right around the corner. We are inside the 40-days mark. We have four weekends before we leave for Chicago, one of which we'll be out of town for. Our To-Do list is down to mostly details, but there are a few big-ish items, like learn to dance. Also, learn French, which we have been sporadically working on (Steve is doing better at it than I am).

And there are all these little projects that I want/need to do. Like making table number displays, which is the one I'm most excited about. Or putting together the programs (we bought kits so there's a template, but I still want to give it my own touch). Place cards. Sewing a pair of ring bearer pillows. You know, little, unimportant things. *laugh*

Now I feel like every minute of my life has to be taken advantage of. Do you have fifteen minutes to write a blog post? DO YOU? I almost feel guilty spending my lunch hour in my car with the windows rolled down reading a book, which isn't even time I could spend doing wedding things if I'd wanted to! Silly.

But... thirty six days! I really can't wait. I guess I can handle thirty-six days of hard-core wedding stress when the end result, no matter what happens or doesn't happen, will be awesome.

And, just to make me smile, I have to share this picture that makes me laugh EVERY TIME I LOOK AT IT. Seriously! (You may have already seen it on Facebook, but it's just that good.)

Circa 1986

I have absolutely no idea what is causing Jessica to make that face. And look at her little hand! Whatever it is, it's not bothering me one little bit.


August 03, 2011


On the heels of my last post... I am either terrible at international travel, or awesome at it.

I have booked:
Day 1 - One hotel room in Paris. One hotel room in Nice.
Days 2-4 - One hotel room in Nice.
Days 5-9 - One hotel room in Paris. One apartment in Paris.

I pretty much have back-ups for my back-ups. I really need to cancel the extras before I end up having to pay for them! But I sent my security deposit for the apartment in Paris last night, and I am just going to trust that it will be fine, and that I am not being scammed for $438US by someone who may or may not be a sweet-seeming young French woman named Sabrina. *g*

I ended up changing my train ticket from leaving three hours after our plane lands in Paris to one leaving the next morning. (Thus, the two hotel rooms that night.) It probably would have been fine... But what if our plane is late leaving Chicago? What if it's late after our layover in Dublin? What if we get tied up in customs, or miss our RER/Metro transfer getting between the airport and train station? I would rather not WORRY about it.

This gives us an afternoon/evening to (fight jet lag and) explore the 12th Arrondissement before heading to Nice. We will also have the entire train trip in daylight, which is nice both for seeing the French countryside and for finding our hotel once we arrive in Nice. It cuts out half a day in Nice, but I'm okay with that. We're going to be pretty low-key during that part of our trip, anyway.

I am SO EXCITED. Can I be in France now?

July 26, 2011

Sleeping on a park bench along the Seine is romantic, right?

Have you ever booked a vacation rental?

Several months ago, a coworker planted the idea of renting a condo in Paris during our honeymoon. And I fell in love! What better to use as a home base for sight-seeing than our own little apartment, where we could run across the street to the little Parisian outdoor market for fresh fruit and bread and cheese? We could come back to this inviting little space to eat our breakfast on the balcony overlooking the rooftops, then prepare a sack lunch to take along on the tour bus. Having a refrigerator and stove-top at our disposal, not to mention the hominess of an apartment filled with artwork and books, sure beats out the idea of a sterile hotel room that may or may not have an en suite toilet.

But you know what? The vacation rental process is long and scary. It's sort of like starting a new job at a tiny company when you're used to working for a big corporation. You're making a change because you didn't love your old job (or sterile hotel room), but it was familiar. You knew what to expect and how it works and you had faith that you'd get a paycheck every two weeks if you put in your hours (...get the room you paid for if you made your reservation?).

And this new job (apartment rental) has the potential to be awesome and a thousand times better than what you knew and maybe only endured in the past, but you don't know what to expect. It's not tried-and-true, and that tiny company might not be representing themselves truthfully, and there's no way to check because it's a tiny, private company. You just have to take the leap, if you've decided it's worth the risk.

I have been looking and looking at vacation rentals for months, and we are now about seven weeks from arriving in Paris, and I STILL have not booked anything. (To be fair, I did book a sterile hotel room with potentially no en suite toilet, just as a back-up, but I'm hoping for that apartment!)

I've been communicating with several people, and it's a struggle. There was a very nice woman who responded immediately, but I really had my eye on a different apartment I had fallen in love with, so I waited to hear from them. When they finally responded, the price was about 30 Euros a night more expensive than advertised, and I'm sorry, but 30 Euros a night (for five nights) adds up! I would so much rather use that money on the Louvre or a bottle of wine renting a bicycle to ride along the Seine, or something. Scratch that apartment off the list.

So then I went back to the first woman, but in the meantime, someone had booked two of our five nights. She continued to be incredibly helpful, sending a list of hotels in the area should we want to stay there for those two nights, and then move to her apartment for the remaining three. But we'll have already just moved from Nice to Paris at that point, and to move again in Paris seemed like too much.

Back to the drawing board. I was emailing with a lovely girl also named Kate, back and forth with info on her apartment. I asked her a few final questions, and got no response. I emailed her again, saying I was very interested in booking her apartment pending the answers to those last two questions, and... nothing. Ooo-kay. Scratch that, too.

So I emailed a fourth apartment owner. Everything sounds good, but she was asking for a 300 Euro security deposit. The reviews on her posting on FlipKey spoke to the ease of receiving the security deposit back, but that seems like a lot of money to put out without a rental contract, or something. So I asked for one. She replied that she would be happy to send me a rental agreement, and to look for it "tomorrow". Tomorrow was yesterday. Is this one falling through, too?

Bah! I booked that back-up hotel because I was starting to be afraid that I'd end up sleeping on a park bench along the banks of the Seine if none of these apartments worked out. And if I wasn't so attached to the idea of staying in Paris like a Parisian, I'd just go with the hotel. But I'd really, really like an apartment to work out. I just wish it wasn't so stressful!

July 25, 2011

June: Part the First

I had written a good portion of an entry with TONS of pictures, and somehow it went *POOF*! Gone. I'm... pretty sad about that. So, we start over!

I have been pretty terrible about using this blog in the last couple months. I'm going to blame it on the fact that I have been trying to fit too many awesome things into too little time, while still giving my all to work and wedding planning. I'm going to do a series of posts backdating to end of May.


Some time in May, my home air conditioner died. Thankfully, Mother Nature was kind and the handful of AC-less weeks were cool and pleasant, but I live in Southern California in a valley, and I know what temperatures tend to hover around as the summer really gets into swing. Not having AC is not an option. I spent the last couple of weeks of May getting estimates and quotes, ranging in price over a span of about $8,000. I ended up going with the middle quote, which was much closer to the lowest than the highest. The first weekend in June, my shiny new air conditioner was installed.


The same weekend as the AC installation, my entire family came out to California. It was the first time all four five of us were on the West Coast in years ever, including Steve, and it was pretty awesome!

Photoshopped family

Steve's parents also came down from Fresno so that our families could meet for the first time... before the wedding.

That Saturday, Gen threw me an amazing wedding shower at the clubhouse here at our complex. We made big floppy hats, and everyone had to add some kind of decoration to mine. It was FABULOUS.

The whole crew

(More shower pictures behind the cut below)

At the same time as the shower, the men (Steve and our dads) had a Man Day down in Long Beach at the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary. We reconvened for a big family dinner at Versailles Cuban Restaurant. Yum!


On Sunday, my dear friends Jenelle and Steven tied the knot. Since my family was in town, Steve and I weren't able to attend the reception, but we went to the beautiful wedding ceremony.

Cute couple :) Jenelle and Steven

Steve had to go to a conference up near San Francisco for work, so after the wedding he headed out leaving just the A-clan. We headed down to the LaBrea tar pits for the afternoon.

Together at the Tar Pits

(A few more behind the cut below)

Then we met cousin Phil for dinner in Santa Monica.


On Monday, I took the day off work and we spent the day shopping for Mother of the Bride dresses and bathing suits, and just spending time together as a family before Mom, Dad, and Jess headed home on Tuesday. *sniff*

All in all, an EXCELLENT weekend.

Continue reading "June: Part the First" »

May 12, 2011

Just hand me a hammer!

Yesterday, I helped build a house.

More specifically, I helped move a giant stack of lumber--2x4s, 4x4s, and heeeeaaaavy 6x10s; built a giant box to collect scraps of wood to meet their Green requirement; removed a concrete sidewalk and re-filled it with temporary blacktop; and framed windows.


Please excuse the poorly-darkened faces of my coworkers, who may wish to remain anonymous on the Interwebs

I'm glad the window-framing happened, because I was beginning to think I would be working hard all day and not do a single thing on the actual house! I know every job is important, and this is just the beginning stages of the home (only the first floor was framed), but I really wanted to have a hand in something permanent, y'know?

Today, I am sore all over: heavy lifting, blacktop tamping, and hammer-wielding are all making themselves known this morning! And even though I wore sunscreen, I'm sunburned in weird places: my arms between the tops of my gloves and where my t-shirt sleeves started, the tips of my ears, and the back of my neck on either side of where my ponytail hung down. I really hope the tan fades or evens out before September, because let me tell you, NOT CUTE. And I was being so careful!

This house is supposed to be finished around Thanksgiving. I'm really tempted to schedule a Saturday to go back and work another day closer to the finish, just to see how it all turns out!

I'd always wanted to work a day with Habitat for Humanity, and I have to say, it was just as fun and rewarding as I thought it would be. If only all the local sites weren't a two-hour drive away...

April 26, 2011

Two Days in April: In Pictures

Our Second First Date Anniversary

If you'll think back to a year from this April 17th, you may remember it's the day Steve and I got engaged. And if you think back two years, you... probably won't remember anything special about it. Two days after taxes were due? A Friday? (If you even remember that...) But I will! It was my first date with this guy Elaina sort of set me up with.

Last year, we partially reconstructed our first date by going back to the same restaurant, Cafe Firenze. This year, we reconstructed last year by going to Cafe Firenze (a tradition by now!) AND to the park in which we got engaged. There was no proposal this time around, but it was nice to take in the details I was too preoccupied/distracted/excited to notice back then.

Stargazer Park

Stargazer Park

Site of the proposal, one year later

Site of the proposal

One year later
One year later!

Easter Sunday

We work so hard during the week only to spend our weekends catching up on all the responsible things we didn't get to, right? I decided I wanted one weekend of pure (or... mostly pure) relaxation. We did our cleaning and our errand running after work last week and left the weekend FREE! It was lovely.

We started our Easter morning with homemade Belgian waffles topped with fresh strawberries. We spent the day catching up on TV shows that have been stacking up on the DVR. (While we watched, I cleaned out my closet, we worked out, and cooked meals for the week, so it wasn't a totally lazy day.)

And then we colored eggs!

Easter Egg Garden

My Easter Garden

Steve's eggs
Steve's Eggs

We each colored six, then got tired and just did the last six ROYGBV. And would you know, the packages of egg dye we bought from the 99 Cent Store included twelve colors? There were three different greens! Two pinks and a red! A yellow, yellow-orange, and orange-orange! Twelve is too many to handle. Twelve is overwhelming. Twelve is too hard to find enough jars/glasses/mugs to hold! But overall, fun.

We also ate chocolate, because what's Easter without a couple of chocolate bunnies?

And what are chocolate bunnies without creating your own Easter card image?

"My butt hurts." "What?"

"My butt hurts." "What?"

April 12, 2011

Can't Opener

I don't even remember when I purchased it (years ago), but sometime last year I got rid of my crusty, old can opener. It worked fine, but it was really old and a little rusty, and it got replaced with a shiny, NEW can opener!

Which did not work.

Every can opened with New Can Opener would stay attached at exactly two spots, opposite each other. And getting those spots unattached proved to be nearly impossible.

Picture this: I rolled the thing back and forth, trying to puncture the little attached pieces of metal. I jabbed at it with a fork. I pushed on the top of the can, sawed at it with a knife, and got increasingly frustrated. If my life was a cartoon, I'd bring out the giant wooden hammer next, a power saw, and then the dynamite, and it still wouldn't open. Pretty sure. Almost enough to make a person just swear off canned food altogether.

After can after can of annoyance, frustration, and infuriation, I decided to go old-school and low-tech with the cheapest can opener I could find. This model was so low-tech it was all metal, no comfortable plastic grips. It had only a metal point to pierce the can, not a rolling blade. While the effort it took to open a can was significantly more than New Can Opener, at least it opened the can all the way around.

Until it didn't anymore.

Is this user error? Am I can-opening-challenged? Now my low-tech opener spins without moving when it gets stuck. The metal point will raise up and just score the top of the can, instead of piercing it, when I move it clockwise, but will get stuck altogether when trying to go counter-clockwise over an un-scored part of the can. To compensate, I end up going clockwise for about an inch, then over the same spot counter-clockwise.

This? Is a LOT of effort. Just to open a can!

I wish I hadn't thrown out my crusty-but-trusty old can opener. Where do I go from here? I can't get any more low-tech... so do I go ultra-high-tech? Is there a middle ground that works? Do YOU have a can opener you love?

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! I can't open my canned tuna!

Simple Pleasures.

On the Tube


"Vision gives us the capacity to live out of our imagination, instead of out of our memory."
~Stephen Covey

"If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."
~Jonathan Irving

"The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
~Helen Keller
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