Saturday ramblings

Written while I was sitting at Honda World this morning waiting for my car to be serviced…

It’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting at the car dealer. This means I’ve been spending not just too much time here, but inevitably too much money here as well. But it has to be done to keep my 7+ year old car running with over 100k miles. I want my car to last at least another five years so I’m trying to take good care of it. Sitting here in the customer lounge is so boring. I finally got the password for the wifi, but it’s not fast enough to watch anything on Netflix on my iPad. I did download several episodes of Doctor Who (yes, I’m obsessed) last night, but not enough to keep me occupied for my entire care service appointment. As usual, the mechanic found some additional work that needs to be done today. Honda World hasn’t ripped me off in other situations so I’m inclined to trust the folks here when they make a recommendation. There’s always a chance I’m being taken advantage of, though. Oh well. It’s not like I have a lot of stuff I need to do this weekend, but there’s still plenty to keep busy with. When I get out of here (whenever that is) I need to do some grocery shopping. Potlucks excluded, I haven’t cooked a real meal for myself in a long time and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat more meals at home. I also want to see a movie tonight if possible. It’s that time of year again – time to see movies nominated for major awards! After seeing the Golden Globe nominations I want to see either “Lincoln” or “Hyde Park on Hudson” (the Bill Murray movie about FDR) this weekend. Maybe both. I should probably see Zero Dark Thirty as well when it opens next week, but I only have two free movie passes left so I need to use them wisely (and then to go matinees after that to save a few bucks). Money has been tight lately. I know I’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping, but sometimes it’s necessary, and the sales this time of year have definitely helped limit the amount I’ve spent. This large bill from Honda World isn’t going to help, though. But like I said, it must be done. My birthday is coming up and I’m not looking forward to it. My birthday almost never treats me well. Not that I’m all that worried about getting older (a little, but not that much yet), but something always seems to ruin my birthday. I hate it. As far as plans for this year go, I’m going to make myself a cake (I saw a caramel apple bundt cake recipe on Pinterest that I’m dying to try) and go out to dinner on Wednesday night. Although, that might be an expense I can’t really afford. Maybe just a sandwich at Jersey Mike’s then. We’ll see. I certainly don’t need any presents. I’m perfectly happy with the flat screen TV I bought after Christmas. Now that I can watch Netflix Instant (and hence, Doctor Who) on a decent-sized screen with good resolution I’m a happy girl. Another one of my New Year’s resolutions is to save money. That’s something I haven’t been able to do for quite a few years and it’s really been bothering me. I’m not as young as I used to be, and while I’m not planning to retire anytime soon, I’ll still need some money reserves for other purposes in the future. Like buying a car in a few years. I really hope it’s at least a few years away, at least. The only money I have saved now is my 401k. Ridiculous. Sometimes I feel like a sorry excuse for an adult. My mood has actually been pretty good for the last couple of weeks, which is a drastic change from earlier in December, but I’m feeling a bit down today. That might be because I’m still recovering from this stupid cold, or because I’m wasting half of my Saturday sitting at the car dealer, or because I don’t have anything exciting planned for the rest of the weekend. I have plenty of stuff to keep me occupied, but nothing that’s too much fun. I’ll go to the movies tonight after doing some grocery shopping, then tomorrow I have some cooking and cleaning to do at home. Boring, I know. I guess anticipating my birthday on Wednesday isn’t helping my mood. As usual I just wish I could skip from he 8th to the 10th, but I’ll try to make the best of it. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to the gym on Monday so I won’t feel like a total slug next week. I hate getting out of my workout routine for any reason. It’s just so hard to get back into it. Weekends haven’t been my friend recently. They’re boring and lonely. It doesn’t help that I’ve spent the majority of my time since I got back from Tallahassee making a dent in my couch due to illness. I like to think I would have been more active and more productive if I wasn’t sick, but that’s just a guess since I don’t know for sure. The only remedy for this malaise is to get up off my butt and do something. And I will – just as soon as my car is done.

More travel ramblings

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Unfortunately I’m going to bore you with some more of my in flight and airport ramblings because I haven’t had time to write up anything else today. I’ll write more about my busy Christmas Eve with my family another day. Until then enjoy more of my stream of consciousness musings.

I did indeed fall asleep before my flight to Dallas took off. Apparently the headrests on this plane are very conducive to sleep for me because I was out for almost two hours! But like I said, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first installment “The Hobbit,” but I will give it another chance this week. When the movie was over Dan and I went to dinner at Umami Burger in Hermosa Beach. A truffle burger, sweet potato fries, and a Mexican Coke really hit the spot. My burger was a little rarer that I would have liked, but Dan was kind enough to finish it off for me. When I got home I had to buckle down and pack for my trip. The first thing I had to do was cut up the two pans of cookies I’d made earlier in the day. I hope they turned out OK because I was so stuffed from dinner that I didn’t sample either batch to make sure I hadn’t screwed either of them up somehow. I’m usually pretty good at following a recipe, at least as far as checking to make sure I added all of the necessary ingredients before baking, but maybe not about everything. I can’t say I’m all that good at beating the butter and sugar for the full three minutes to make sure it is “light and fluffy.” I’m not the most patient cook. I’ll make sure to try the cookies before I serve them to my friends tomorrow. I’m having a bunch of my high school friends over to my parent’s house tomorrow night for dessert and catching up. (Side note: My seat on this flight is comfortable enough given the fact that I slept for almost 2 hours, but the overhead compartment blocks about 20% of the screen on the televisions. Not that I wanted to watch “Frankenweenie,” but I would have been very disappointed if they had showed something I really wanted to see and the upper right hand corner was blocked from my view. But I digress.) I got all of the cookies cut up and packed in a Tupperware to go in my suitcase while watching “A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie” that I recorded earlier this week. I must have three pounds of cookies to take to Tallahassee! I really hope they taste OK. I definitely overcooked the chocolate chip cookie bars a little and the consistency wasn’t what I expected when I was cutting them up. I’ll let you know how they turned out after tomorrow. I got my suitcase packed pretty quickly last night, but not quickly enough to get a full night’s sleep before I had to get up at 2:30 AM to get ready to go to the airport. I’m definitely feeling better after a little nap, but I know I’ll be exhausted tonight. I haven’t spent Christmas in Tallahassee since 2005. I remember going to a party that year and meeting Danny and Meghan’s first baby girl and now they have three daughters! The years go by so fast. Time for my flight to land so I’ll pick this up again later.

I just got to the gate where my flight to Tallahassee is supposed to leave, but I have two hours until it’s scheduled to take off. And since DFW doesn’t seem to have free wifi I might get up again in a few minutes and walk around for a while. I saw a Food Network (I typed “Foot Network” the first time!) magazine with lots of Christmas cookies on the cover when I was at LAX, but besides that there wasn’t an extensive selection of cooking magazines there. I was hoping to check out Paula Deen and maybe Cooking Light as well. I don’t think I’ve been to DFW since Thanksgiving 2007 when I had the stomach flu. I was already sick when we arrived here on that trip so I don’t remember anything at all about the airport (except that the bathroom wasn’t nearly close enough to our arrival gate). I didn’t realize this airport was so spread out. My flight from LAX arrived at the C terminal, but my connection to Tallahassee is leaving out of the B terminal so I had to hop on the Skylink train to get over here. And it was quite a long ride! It looks like DFW is under significant construction so it might not look anything like it did five years ago. (It seems that not only is there no wifi service here, but my AT&T cell service is bad too. I can’t seem to send a text despite my phone telling me that I have service. I hate when that happens.) I admit that this airport looks very polished and new. One of my co-workers told me that there are a lot of good food options here, but I just can’t eat when I’m flying. As much as my stomach is growling, it’s just not worth risking a horrible stomach ache to alleviate my hunger. As a rule of thumb I probably shouldn’t eat anything on a day that I fly because hunger is much better than indigestion, but I rarely follow that rule absolutely. I’ll probably grab something to eat with my mom when I arrive in Tallahassee, but I need to remember to make it something small. Not only do I not need any extra calories on a day that I’m spending almost all of my time sitting down, but my stomach will thank me if I moderate. Maybe I can talk her into picking up a cherry Coke at Sonic. OK, I’m going to go do some walking. Not only do I want to look for that cooking magazine, but I’m tired of sitting down!

Over the river and through the woods

Most of this post was written while waiting to board my flight from LAX to DFW today and the rest was written after I got on the plane but before takeoff. Just another random stream-of-consciousness offering from yours truly!

Here I am, sitting at the airport again. The American Airlines terminal is all done up with Christmas trees everywhere which was a bit of a surprise to me even though it is just three days until Christmas. That made me realize that I haven’t flown anywhere for Christmas in years. Dan and I flew to New Zealand on 12/21/08 and spent Christmas there, but that was four years ago. Right now there are Christmas songs playing on the sound system at LAX. Since I haven’t been able to get into the Christmas spirit this year due to a variety of factors I haven’t been listening to the 24/7 Christmas stations this holiday season. I know I’ll regret missing the music when it’s gone, but I just wasn’t in the right mindset for it this year. I do have a few Christmas songs on my iPod, but not that many. I probably need to bulk up my holiday playlist before I board my first flight. I have no idea if there will be a movie shown on the way to Dallas. I should check that on the American Airlines website since LAX finally has free wifi. It’s really nice. I know I there won’t be a movie on my flight from Dallas to Tallahassee because the plane is very small. I’m not sure which model, but it just has one seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other side. Fortunately I like flying in small planes. I’ll definitely have to update the video library on my iPhone before I get on that flight because I’ll be solely responsible for my own entertainment. I decided not to bring my iPad with me on this trip because I didn’t want three different electronic devices on my carry-on bag (the iPad would have been in addition to my laptop that I’m using right now and my Kindle which I plan to use on board if I can stay awake). But when I was in the security line this morning I found out that you no longer have to take Kindles and iPads out of your carry-on bag when putting them through the x-ray machine. That would have been nice to know ahead of time. I remember the first time I got chastised for not putting my Kindle in a separate bin when going through security. Since then I’ve usually just been packing it in my suitcase (wrapped up in t-shirts for cushioning) to avoid the hassle of another electronic device that has to be scanned separately (although my laptop is small enough that I’ve been able to get away with putting it and the Kindle in a bin together). I’ve been neglecting my reading lately in favor of watching episodes of “Doctor Who” on Netflix Instant on my iPad, but I have several books on my Kindle that I’m looking forward to reading. While they aren’t exactly the most intellectual fare I’m sure reading them would be more beneficial to my brain that watching television. (Although I love “Doctor Who.”) So I packed my Kindle in my carry-on today rather than my suitcase in the hope that I’ll be alert enough to do some reading on the plane. I wouldn’t be surprised if I fall asleep before the plane takes off, though. I only slept three hours last night and I was so out of it when my alarm went off at 2:30 AM that I almost dismissed it as a mistake and went back to sleep. Luckily about ten seconds later I remembered why it was set so early and was able to drag myself out of bed. Yesterday was extremely busy for me for several reasons. On Thursday night I was supposed to bake two batches of cookies to take to Tallahassee with me, but I had a little mishap that prevented it. I was browning the butter for my favorite chocolate chip cookies and I think I cooked it just a little bit too long because when I poured it into the bowl with the brown sugar the mixture smelled burnt. So instead of risking bad cookies (and potentially wasting eggs, flour, and chocolate chips) I just threw the butter/sugar concoction into the trash and decided to start over the next day. This was a problem not only because it was my last full day in town, but also because my calendar was already really packed. The first thing I did that morning was force myself to get out of bed at 5:15 AM and go to my last spinning class of the year. I was still really tired when my alarm went off, but I would have been mad at myself if I had missed it due to laziness. I went to spinning classes all five days this week which was a little intense, but I’m glad I did it. As is usually the case, the week before Christmas has been characterized by good food and lots of it. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of monitoring my intake and avoiding sweets except for the potluck on Tuesday and the Ruby’s outing on Wednesday. And I wasn’t able to turn down a piece of chocolate when one of my co-workers walked around with a box personally offering goodies to each person on Thursday morning. But when someone delivered a huge slice of chocolate peppermint cake to me later that day I was able to successfully pawn it off on someone else. The cake sure looked good, but I was glad to avoid the calories. But back to my explanation of yesterday. I went to work after my spinning class, but I was already so stressed about getting everything done in preparation for my trip to Tallahassee that I decided to leave early. I felt a little guilty leaving before lunch on the last day of the year, but my boss took the day off so it wasn’t really a big deal. I rushed home, threw a load of laundry in the wash, and started baking cookies. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to whip up two batches of cookies (chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodle blondies), but I guess I’ve had so much practice recently that I’ve developed muscle memory. I had left the butter out on the counter to soften overnight, but it’s been so cold in Los Angeles recently (lows in the upper 30s) that it didn’t actually get soft enough. I’ve found that setting a bowl of butter on top of the stove while the oven is heating up works wonders. Well, that and putting the bowl in direct sunlight! I had to brown the butter for the chocolate chip cookies in a saucepan but I was much more careful this time around after burning it the night before. I didn’t quite let the butter get as brown as I could have, but I didn’t want to ruin it again. The two pans of cookies were out of the oven and cooling on the counter in plenty of time for me to leave the house for my afternoon engagement. Dan and I went to see “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” yesterday afternoon and I was really looking forward to it. I guess I’ve been looking forward to it for years now and it’s finally here! Dan really liked the movie, but I wasn’t as big of a fan. I still enjoyed it, but I guess it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. I’ll still go see it again with my dad when I’m in Tallahassee. Dan and I didn’t see the movie in 3D or the new High Frame Rate (HFR) format so I think my dad and I will have to do that to see if it increases the enjoyment for the film. It was so strange seeing Hobbiton on the big screen again. Even though it was more than five years ago it seems like just yesterday I was standing on the hill in front of Bag End, looking out over the farm where Hobbiton was filmed. I felt like I could step into the screen and be right back in Matamata. I wonder if that feeling will be even stronger with the movie in 3D? I guess I’ll find out. In the past my family used to go to the movies on Christmas Day so hopefully my dad and I will go see “The Hobbit” again on Tuesday.

Plane ramblings

About a month ago I learned that I’d drawn the short straw and that I would have to travel out to DC for work in August. What a horrible time to be on the East Coast! Heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. I moved to California to get away from these things! (Actually, I like thunderstorms, but they’re extremely rare in Los Angeles.) Well, fast forward to today and I’m writing this post on my flight to Dulles. Woohoo! I’ve got a little girl’s elbow in my side (seriously, how can she be so small and still take up so much room?) and the in-flight movie was “Mirror, Mirror” which was terrible. I missed being able to watch “The Avengers” by eleven days. Didn’t flying used to be fun? But anyway, yesterday was my last full day at home, but unfortunately it wasn’t spent doing anything very exciting. Dan has been sick since Tuesday so he’s mostly stayed in bed for the last four days. Poor guy. I got up early yesterday and went on my weekly half marathon walk while it was still overcast and cool outside. The Los Angeles summer heat wave finally broke in the middle of last week or else I wouldn’t have been able to walk outside during the day for three and a half hours without risking heat stroke. Before about Wednesday it had been in the 90s even in the beach cities where I live and work for about two weeks and we’d been really miserable. When you don’t have air conditioning in your house because you almost never need it, you realize how uncomfortable it is to try fall asleep when it’s 83 degrees in your bedroom. Yuck. Hopefully this will be the extent of the hot weather we have this year. Luckily for me yesterday morning was cloudy and cool (in the mid 60s) so I was able to walk my usual 13.1 miles in relative comfort. It was fantastic. I got home, showered, and then immediately went to CVS to get Dan some medicine. He’d been coughing so much that he was worn out and he needed some relief. I picked up something for him at the pharmacy and then got myself a delicious turkey sandwich at Togo’s because I was starving after burning 950 calories (according to my Nike+ app, at least) walking! When I got home Dan came downstairs to watch the previous night’s New Zealand vs. Australia rugby match with me while I ate. The All Blacks shut out the Wallabies so it was a great match to watch and another great victory for New Zealand. After the game was over Dan went back to bed and I got started on a few things. 1) Another batch of chocolate chip cookies. This time I tried a recipe that substituted cream cheese for eggs. Unconventional ingredients intrigue me and I was very interested to see how these cream cheese chocolate chip cookies turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of them before they all got packed up to take to DC with me, but I’ll write another post about them next week. 2) Packed for my trip. I was planning to start this much earlier in the week, but life got in the way. Luckily I didn’t have many other obligations yesterday so I was able to pack leisurely. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to fit everything I need for a week and a half into a carry on sized suitcase. You see, I’m taking advantage of my business trip to fly to Tallahassee to see my family over the Labor Day weekend after my work obligations are done. This means that I needed to pack shorts, t-shirts, and sandals in addition to my work clothes. And I tried to fit everything in a carry on suitcase because I have to switch airlines on my way home next Tuesday. My flight to and from Dulles is on United, my airline of choice for business travel (although not for much longer due to their degrading frequent flyer program), but my flight to and from Tallahassee is on Delta because it was by far the cheapest ticket available. So on my way back home when I’m flying from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Dulles and then from Dulles to Los Angeles I’ll either have to find a way to get Delta to route my bag directly to LAX or else carry it on all of my flights and deal with all the complications of dragging it around multiple airports. Either way I figured it couldn’t hurt to just pack a carry on sized bag one way or another. I always over pack for trips anyway and the smaller suitcase forced me to economize. I think I did pretty well, especially considering I got everything in there even with some of the limited available space is being taken up by a small Tupperware of chocolate chip cookies for my co-workers! There was even enough space to cram by umbrella in there at the last minute this morning. 3) Watched “Doctor Who.” For years I’ve been feeling like I’m missing out because I haven’t been watching this show so I finally broke down and started watching many years of backlogged episodes on Netflix Instant. So far I’ve finished season 1 (of the modern series which started in 2005) and started on season 2. I’m definitely hooked. Science fiction is right up my alley. I’m looking forward to watching a whole lot more episodes in my free time on this trip. I didn’t bring my iPad with my so I’ll have to use my laptop or my iPhone for Netflix while I’m away from home, but it’s a much nicer prospect that relying on the limited cable channels in my hotel room for entertainment. According to the captain it’s time to turn off our electronic devices so I’ll end this post here. Washington, DC here I come!

Stream of consciousness on a plane (part 2)

This is the second part of my ramblings on my flight from LAX to IAD yesterday. Enjoy my write-up of the afternoon and I spent with Dan at Disneyland on Friday.

Yesterday was a good day. About a week ago Dan suggested taking the day off work and spending it at Disneyland before I left on my business trip. This sounded like a fabulous idea, but I had a morning full of meetings that I couldn’t get out of. So I suggested going to Disneyland in the afternoon after I escaped from work. We had a great time. It was one of the first really warm days of the year so it was hot in Anaheim which is a ways inland, but Disneyland wasn’t very crowded so we got to ride all of our favorite rides without waiting too long for each one. Plus we got to eat delicious corn dogs for lunch and then have a great meal at Catal in Downtown Disney for dinner. I’ve always wanted a classic Mickey Mouse t-shirt so I was determined to buy one yesterday because it would be a nice reminder of a good day spent with my wonderful husband. And what better place to shop for a Mickey Mouse t-shirt than Disneyland, right? It was actually harder than I expected. I ended up buying a shirt at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I got my shirt so I was happy. It was just the sort of day I needed before leaving town for a week. When Dan and I got home we watched the basketball game that we recorded while we were at Disneyland, but the Lakers were beaten quite handily by the Spurs so it wasn’t much fun. I finished packing my suitcase as much as possible and went to bed as early as possible, but not really early enough. I was pretty depressed when my alarm went off this morning. I put on my Mickey Mouse t-shirt to wear on my trip and it doesn’t fit quite right. Apparently my hips are too large and my chest is too small for a size medium. Oh well. I wore it today anyway because I needed the reminder of a good day while flying across the country for a crazy week of work. There’s got to be another place I can get the exactly t-shirt I’m looking for (a red shirt with a classic Mickey Mouse one it). Maybe the Disney Store at the mall? Maybe online? Maybe Target? I’ll keep my eyes open. To be honest, the last thing I need is another graphic t-shirt, but I want my Mickey Mouse t-shirt, gosh darn it!

Stream of consciousness on a plane (part 1)

I wrote this rambling run-on paragraph on my flight from LAX to IAD yesterday. There’s no better time for writing than on a long flight!

Air travel sucks. I didn’t fully realize this until today. At the moment I’m not doing too badly – I took a short nap after we took off and now I’m watching “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (although the subtitles are hard read from three rows away), but so far most of this trip has been unpleasant. After my alarm went off this morning and I got in the shower I was trying to be as quiet as possible so Dan could sleep. Unfortunately I only hit the snooze button on my phone rather than turning off the alarm so it went off again a few minutes later. Stepping out of the shower while dripping went is never fun. Then as I was throwing a few last things in my suitcase I got a phone call. It was United informing me that my flight to DC that wasn’t leaving for almost three hours was switching gates. Why would I possibly care about that before I even left for the airport? I understand that I’d already checked in and the gate on my boarding pass was now incorrect, but I’m a savvy enough traveler to know to always check the departure monitors after I get through security. I’ve been in more than one situation where the gate changed between dropping off my bag at the counter and putting my shoes back on after clearing security. Granted not everyone knows to do this, but I think a simple email would suffice – which United sent me as well, of course. I’ve got to figure out how to disable phone call notifications in the future. When I got downstairs and slipped my laptop into my carry-on bag my phone rang again. This was starting to get old, especially since it wasn’t even 7 AM. This time it was Supershuttle telling me that my van was pulling up outside my house. So I grabbed my bags, went outside, and locked the door behind me. There was no Supershuttle van on my street. And ten minutes later there was still no sign of one. I started to wonder if the “your van is arriving” calls are meant to get people out on their curbs so when the van really does get there it doesn’t have to wait. Obviously effective, but for those of us who’ve been unprepared once too often when our ride to the airport shows up this is a little annoying because we’re ready to go twenty minutes early just in case. In any case, I got to the airport with no troubles this morning, just a few annoyances. Evidently LAX is busy on Saturdays. Without access to the United Premier security line (I didn’t travel enough last year to maintain my status) I had to wait a little longer than usual. But since Supershuttle wouldn’t pick me up any later for my flight, after I got through security I had an hour and a half before boarding even started so I made the most of it. I bought a bottle of chocolate milk for breakfast and sat down in the corridor between two terminals where the crowds were thinner for a little peace and quiet. It was actually very pleasant sitting there surfing the web on my phone and watching planes arrive and depart. Eventually it was time to go to my gate, though. Without my Premier status I was in the last boarding group so I was one of the last people on the plane. I actually considered flying another airline since I don’t have perks on United anymore (and don’t anticipate getting them back anytime soon), but I still have a hefty amount of frequent flyer miles and I’m holding out hope of earning enough for another trip to Hawaii. It wasn’t important for me to get on the plane early on this trip because I checked my suitcase. When I flew Delta to Tallahassee in December I only took a small carry-on suitcase because I didn’t want to pay the checked bag fee. I was subject to a similar fee on United for this trip because of my lack of Premier status, but I can submit it as a business expense so I didn’t hesitate to check my bag. Plus, I know from experience that it’s tough finding a place to store roller board suitcases on planes these days. No one else wants to pay checked bag fees either so there are a lot of carry-ons. After I earn enough miles for another Hawaiian vacation I am probably going to change my airline loyalty. Either that or I need to get that new United credit card that offers priority boarding and a free checked bag. Too bad my current United credit card isn’t so generous, but then again I purchased my ticket for this trip with my corporate card so it wouldn’t have made any difference today. I definitely need to investigate new credit cards to see what kind of rewards I can earn after I’ve outlived the usefulness of United. You can’t beat their choice of in-flight move, though. “Mission Impossible” is hard to top for entertainment value. I’d love to have internet access right now, though. At least I’m comfortable. Usually I freeze on flights, but right now I’m pleasantly warm. Probably because I have two windows next to my and the sun streaming in is very warm. I’m not wearing my usual fleece jacket because I thought it would be unnecessary in DC this time of year. Luckily I’m not cursing myself for not wearing it today. I did shove it into my suitcase at the last minute after looking at the weather forecast for the next few days. Somehow it’s going to go from highs in the 80s to highs in the 40s in the matter of two days. And then there’s the rain. I just realized that I forgot my raincoat. My little umbrella was already in my suitcase when I packed so I have some protection, but maybe not enough. If only I owned galoshes. Let’s just hope it’s not pouring when I arrive in DC. It’s not going to be pleasant picking up my rental car in a lot of rain.

To be continued…

Not Foodie Friday

I know I was supposed to post a recipe for Foodie Friday today, but I spent a couple of hours at the car dealer this morning so I had plenty of time to put all of the random thoughts in my head into words. So here they are…

***Sometimes it’s easy for me to understand how people think I’m younger than my thirty-two years. This morning I showed up at the Honda dealer for my car’s service appointment wearing a Gator hoodie, carrying a laptop case, and drinking a bottle of chocolate milk. I probably looked like a college student rather than an engineer who’s been working full time for seven years. Back when I was in graduate school I took a trip to Vancouver, BC and had an interesting encounter with a customs agent as I was trying to get back into the United States. She took one look at me and asked, “Where are your parents?” I was twenty-five years old (which she should have known since she was holding my passport) and perfectly capable of traveling by myself, thank you very much! In her defense I was carrying a Harry Potter book, carrying a backpack, and probably dressed like a high schooler, but she could have been a little more tactful. I’m not old enough to appreciate folks thinking I’m ten years younger than my actual age, but hopefully this trend will continue until I am.

***The first day of my holiday vacation and I made a service appointment at the Honda dealer at 8 AM. That was silly. So even though I don’t have to go to work today I still had to get up earlier than I wanted to and I had pretty much the same commute (but with much lighter traffic) because the dealer is in Orange County. Luckily my car only needs minor service (rather than the expected 90k mile service) so I shouldn’t have to spend half the day waiting here in the lobby. And it will be nice to not have to worry about my car again for the duration of the break. Yesterday Dan suggested a trip to Big Bear for a couple of days during the holidays so at least I’ll be confident that my car is in the best shape possible for the drive up to the mountains. I’m already looking forward to dinner at our favorite restaurant there, Madlon’s, and we don’t even have a hotel reservation yet! I’ll work on that today.

***Speaking of food, I can’t seem to buy more than one meal’s worth of groceries at a time so I’ve had to go to the store every day for the last two weeks. The only reason I didn’t go yesterday is because Dan and I went out to dinner after mailing the rest of our Christmas presents at the airport post office. Meal planning has never been one of my strong suits. I’ve already decided I’m going to make a lasagna for Christmas dinner, but I haven’t bought any of the ingredients yet. I don’t even have an onion in the fridge anymore so I’m completely unprepared. So today’s grocery list includes meat, veggies, noodles, cheese, and tomato products for the lasagna, but I have no idea what Dan and I are going to eat today. I am such a slacker!

***There are several movies that I want to see over the holidays – “Sherlock Holmes,” “Mission: Impossible,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I think I’ll be able to talk Dan into the first two, but I have a feeling I’ll be going to see the last one by myself. And that’s OK. But before I go to the theater to see anything I need to watch a few Christmas movies while I still have the chance! I’ve got “Christmas in Connecticut” from Netflix at the top of my list right now and I also want to watch my DVDs of “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “The Bishop’s Wife” before Christmas is over. My holiday baking is usually the perfect excuse to watch movies, but I think I’m going to put that on hold for at least a couple of days because I’ve had so many cookies already this holiday season. I’ll just have to come up with some other creative excuse to sit down and watch Christmas movies today and tomorrow!

In-flight post #1 – LAX to ATL

I wrote this run-on paragraph while sitting at LAX waiting to board my flight to Atlanta. Then I edited it after takeoff and now I’m publishing it en route to ATL. Yes, I paid for in-flight internet access today and I’m going to get the most out of it!

Terminal 6 at LAX is under construction and it’s very unpleasant in its current state. If being at the airport at 6 AM isn’t bad enough, add some circular saw noises to that. I’m not looking forward to my flight to Atlanta because I don’t have frequent flyer status on Delta anymore and I was too cheap to pay for a seat with more legroom. I was also too cheap to pay for a checked bag so here I am sitting at the gate with my little carry-on suitcase. It doesn’t weigh very much, but it’s infinitely more annoying to deal with when boarding a plane than a backpack. It remains to be seen if I’ll be too cheap to pay for in-flight internet access on the way to Atlanta. I probably don’t need to be connected to the internet, but it would allow me to get a few things done I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Like make a grocery list for all of the cooking and baking my mom and I are planning to do this weekend, and update my webpage so that I don’t have to worry about it after I arrive in Tallahassee tonight. I’ll have to decide if it’s worth the cost. It’s been about seven years since I last flew Delta – probably since I was in grad school. Delta seems to be the cheapest airline to fly from LA to Tallahassee, but I just haven’t flown back to my hometown that many times since 2004. And I’m so spoiled being a United Premier member that I expect to check bags and get seats with extra legroom for free. I’m afraid today’s flight is going to be a rude awakening. In general, coach travel (domestic and international) is awful. The only good thing about taking my carry-on suitcase on this trip is that I won’t have my usual bag under the seat in front of me, occupying some of the space for my feet. Hopefully I’ll be able to entertain myself with my laptop, movies on my phone, and potentially the in-flight entertainment system. From what I read online Delta has a complimentary satellite TV option like Virgin America and Jet Blue now. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s on this flight. Not that there’s a whole lot to watch on TV this early in the morning, but anything to distract me from how miserable air travel is these days will be welcome. After abstaining from air travel for more than seven months (not by choice) this will be my third round-trip flight since the beginning of November. (On three different airlines, no less.) I’m no big fan of business travel, but I definitely missed it after we stopped traveling to DC in March. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have any trips planned in 2012 because I’m going to lose my United Premier and Hilton Honors status at the beginning of the year. Dan and I are hoping to go to New Zealand in February, but that will only be possible because we’ve been hoarding American Airlines frequent flyer for quite a while. We were hoping to fly first class, but getting those tickets to New Zealand using miles is difficult so the best we might be able to do is business class on Air Pacific. Air Pacific is kind of a second-class international airline, but I can’t dispute that it gets you to New Zealand for a good price. When we went on our last trip in December 2008 our tickets were only about $750 apiece. So while we would like to be on Qantas instead because they have much nicer facilities, Dan and I might have to resort to Air Pacific f we want to go to New Zealand in the spring. As long ¬as we don’t have to fly coach again I won’t complain. But back to the trip at hand. My flight to Atlanta should be boarding in about half an hour. I hate taking a wheelie suitcase as a carry-on because someone always ends up having to drag their bag back to the front of the plane to gate check it when the overheard bins fill up. Luckily I haven’t been that person yet, but maybe today is the day. And I’m positive that my suitcase won’t fit in the overhead bin on the tiny plane that’s taking me from Atlanta to Tallahassee. As long as I don’t have to pay to check my bag at any point I’ll be happy. These days every penny is precious. I just paid my credit card bill that had about half of our Hawaii trip expenses on it. Yikes. As always, I’m extremely grateful that Dan and I are still employed in these tough economic times. And our minimal Christmas is going to help too. Speaking of Christmas, Dan came home from work early last night so we could get our tree! We always buy our Christmas tree from the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis lot on PCH because I feel better giving money to a charity organization than a tree farm. Since we were there early in the season this year we had a pretty good selection of trees. We ended up buying a noble fir in the 7-8 ft category that looks great in our living room. While we were coveting the 8-9 ft trees it’s a good thing we didn’t get one because the shorter tree we actually bought is only about six inches from touching the ceiling! Dan and I knew that we wouldn’t have time to trim the tree until I get back from Florida on Monday, but we got the difficult part of getting it home and setting it up yesterday so that’s a relief. I can’t wait until I get home and we can decorate that thing within an inch of its life! One of my main goals for this trip to Tallahassee is to help my parents get ready to host some of our family for Christmas. They haven’t put up a Christmas tree since the last time I spent the holidays there (2005, just before Dan and I got engaged) so they’re a little out of practice. I guess we’ll see how their artificial tree has fared after being boxed up in the garage for the last six years. If it’s not presentable we’ll either pick out a live tree or buy a new fake one. I wonder if my dad still has those Christmas CDs I bought him back in 2001 when we drove from California to Florida in December? What better to listen to while trimming the tree? I’ve got a pretty good train of thought going right now, but I’d probably better get up and go to the restroom before my flight starts boarding. I kind of hate to get up, though, because this terminal is so hard to navigate with a rolling suitcase and all the construction. Maybe I’ll just stay here. I should have looked for new cooking magazines on my way to the gate because there’s no way I’m going all the way back to the shops now. Plus, I can avoid spending money that way. I already know that next month’s credit card bill is going to be huge because it includes the second half of our Hawaii trip expenses. Very painful. I’m going to have to be frugal in 2012. That brings New Year’s resolutions to mind. I don’t think I was very successful with the ones I made for 2011. I have however, completed my goal of trying fifty-two new recipes this year! I haven’t posted them all yet, but I’ve been very productive in the kitchen since Thanksgiving so the grand total for the year is going to be more than fifty-two. It probably would have been better if more of those new recipes this year had been dinner fare rather than all the desserts I made, but my resolution didn’t specify that!

In-flight ramblings on the way to Maui

Here’s another stream-of-consciousness post that I wrote while enroute from Los Angeles to Maui on Friday.

Veteran’s Day, lucky 11/11/11 day, and the first day of our 2011 Hawaiian vacation. When I booked our flights back in March, right after I came back from my last business trip (yes, it was that long ago), November 11th seemed so far away. But the time flew by and now we’re sitting here on our flight to Kahului, Maui. Well, Dan is practically lying down, asleep with his head almost on my shoulder. I didn’t bring my neck pillow with me so I wouldn’t be able to get comfortable if I tried to sleep. This leaves more time for writing anyway. The last three days have been incredibly busy. I worked ten hours each day and then spent the rest of my free time getting ready to go on vacation. I credited myself with starting to pack on Wednesday night because I got my suitcase out of the closet and threw a couple of bras inside, but I effectively did all of my packing yesterday after work. I know I brought too much stuff with me on this trip. I intended to have some extra space in my suitcase for souvenirs, but Dan needed me to pack one of his jackets so that idea kind of went out the window. My only solace is that my backpack is about 50% full of edibles (the box of Christopher Elbow chocolates that I bought in San Francisco and a bunch of energy bars for meals on the go) that we definitely won’t be taking home with us. I should have plenty of room in my backpack after we polish off those chocolates this week. I’m afraid we don’t have as much money to spend on mementos this year, but I’m still hoping to find a few new things in Hawaii. I’d love to get some Christmas presents for my family, but I don’t think the ones I bought last year were a big hit. The older I get the more I’m convinced that edible gifts are best. Fudge from a Hawaiian middle-of-nowhere shop was definitely well received last year and the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts were popular with my co-workers. As soon as I get home I’ll have to start making some experimental batches of Christmas cookies. I saw the oblong red Tupperware containers that I usually buy to send out my holiday care packages on sale at Target yesterday, but I refrained from getting any yet. There will be plenty of time for that when we get back. I did buy a bag of candy cane Hershey’s Kisses, though, and I have big plans to turn them into some kind of blossom cookie later this month. Wait, how did I start writing about food? Oh, I remember – the chocolates and energy bars in my backpack. As far as I’m concerned it’s OK to return from a trip with your bags overfilled, but leaving on a trip that way is not usually a good idea. I swear my belongings get heavier and bulkier the longer I’m away from home. That’s why I can never fit the same amount of stuff in my suitcase for the trip home as I did when I departed. But how can I come home from Hawaii with nothing new? I know that sounds materialistic, but since I’m not earning nearly as many frequent flyer miles this year I doubt we’ll be going back to Hawaii any time soon. That’s kind of a depressing thought as we’re on our way there right now, but I know Dan and I are going to enjoy every minute of this trip so I’m not worried about when we’ll be able to come back. I am a little worried about the turbulence on our flight right now, though. I’m typing with my left hand and holding on to my can of Diet Coke with my right hand to keep it from slipping off my tray table. Or spilling on my laptop, which would really suck. I intend to use this computer a lot on our trip for publishing webpage posts, offloading photos from our camera, and writing whenever I get a chance. Airline flights always seem to go by quicker when I’m writing. Our in-flight movie is “Life in a Day” which is a compilation of YouTube videos taken on one particular day all around the world. It’s pretty incredible. Seeing people from all walks of life doing mundane things or extraordinary things makes the world seem both big and small at the same time. I wonder what I was doing on July 24, 2010? It was a Saturday so probably nothing special, but who knows? Look out, I’m about to start talking about food again. We aren’t even halfway to Maui yet and I’m already looking forward to our dinner at Spago tonight. It will be a great way to start our vacation. Last night’s dinner was a couple of frozen pizzas because I needed every free minute to pack my suitcase (except that hour we sat down to eat and watch “Project Runway: Behind the Seams”). That pretty much explains why I only found two dirty dishes on the counter from the entire week when I was cleaning up yesterday. I haven’t had time to cook anything in a while. And since I’ve made restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner that pretty much absolves me from having to cook anything for the rest of November. However, I do want to do some culinary experimentation over the Thanksgiving break. There was a fairly simple looking turkey breast recipe in the Paula Deen magazine I bought before my trip to San Francisco that I’d like to try. And if I make it after Thanksgiving and it turns out to be a complete failure I don’t have to worry about ruining the iconic American meal. I’m definitely running out of things to say right now. I think it’s time for me to turn off my computer and retreat to my iPhone to watch “Harry Potter.” My next update will be from Maui!

Pre-flight and in-flight ramblings 11/7/11

I wrote this stream-of-consciousness post while enroute back to Los Angeles from San Francisco last Monday, and then I edited it within an inch of its life on our flight to Maui today. Right now I’m sitting in the lobby of the Days Inn Maui Oceanfront in Kehei because it’s the only place they have internet access. Hopefully our room at the Grand Wailea the next three nights will have internet in the room so I can write something actually related to our vacation! But for now enjoy this random collection of thoughts that I wrote after spending last weekend in San Francisco.

At the airport again. This time I’m flying back to Los Angeles, but just for three days because Dan and I are leaving for to Hawaii on Friday. So little time to get ready! And I’m missing a big event at work while we’re on vacation so I have to devote the next three days to updating some important presentations and then teaching one of my co-workers how to present them. Being away for something that I’m so involved with makes me feel very helpless. I never thought of myself as a major control freak, but when it comes to me areas of expertise I guess I am.

Looking back on my trip to San Francisco, yesterday we went to Golden Gate Park to visit the California Academy of Sciences Museum at the deYoung Art Museum. Those two places are really amazing. I especially liked the rain forest area at the Sciences Museum. It’s an enormous enclosed sphere with a tropical rainforest climate and lots of different plants and animals. There are even birds and butterflies flying around. It was really amazing. And the museum has a fantastic cafeteria, but I’ll write more about that later. Today my parents and I went to the Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio. Now that’s a great museum. They have a huge collection of Disney family memorabilia and it’s such a beautiful setting. Dan would love it so I’ll have to go back with him next time. We put off a trip to Disneyland so far this fall because the tickets are so expensive, but I’m hoping we can go before the end of the year.

I’m on my short flight to Los Angeles now and I’m watching “Family Guy” on the in-flight satellite TV. I was kinda hoping that “House” was on, but I think my flight is about an hour early for that. I keep thinking of things I need to do this week before going to Hawaii. Like downloading Inheritance on my Kindle tomorrow when the book comes out. I’ll definitely need something to read on our flight to Hawaii on Friday and I don’t want to take any bulky books with me. And even though buying electronic books is getting a bit expensive, traveling with my Kindle is ideal because it holds so many books while being very small. My goal is to pack as little as possible for our upcoming trip so that I have room in my suitcase for souvenirs. And having a lighter suitcase works out better for everyone anyway. Somehow I forgot to take a camera with me to San Francisco this weekend. I need to pay a little more attention when making my packing list for Hawaii. Not that I think Dan and I will both forget our two cameras, but I’m bound to forget something if I’m not careful. Bringing just a carry on to San Francisco was definitely the way to go. There was no way I was going to pay a $25 checked bag fee when the flight itself was only $49. What a rip off. The biggest limitation the carry-on-only plan wasn’t having enough space for my clothes, but fitting an adequate amount of toiletries into a quart-sized bag. I did pretty well for my flight to San Francisco, but I acquired a couple of travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner at the Hilton Union Square that strained the capacity of my Ziploc on the flight home. Having new bottles to take to the gym is going to be great, though. One of the things I miss most about frequent travel is gathering all those little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and mouthwash. Well, that and frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and rental car credits. First world problems, I know, but all of my business traveled earned Dan and me free tickets to Hawaii and three free nights at the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria. That’s saving us a lot of money. The only way I’m earning frequent flyer miles now is through my United credit card which is better than nothing, I guess. I should have enough miles for another free ticket soon. I only bought a couple of things in San Francisco that I’m taking home with me. The first was a box of Christopher Elbow chocolates to share with Dan. So delicious. The second is a bottle of my favorite Clarins sunscreen, and the third is a little glass albino alligator Christmas ornament. I saw the live albino alligator at the California Academy of Sciences Museum yesterday and I was incredibly tempted to buy an adorable stuffed version in the gift shop after I saw a little girl with one. Instead I settled for the Christmas ornament which isn’t as cute, but infinitely more practical for an adult like me. (And Dan and I already have quite an array of stuffed animals despite the fact that we don’t have any children.) I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy at the Walt Disney Family Museum today which is probably a good thing because my little carry-on bag is already packed to the gills and I need to save money for Hawaii. Money is definitely tight these days. I’m glad Dan and I are having a minimal Christmas. Buying gifts for him is easy – I just need to figure out what to get for the rest of my family. I’m going to be spending a few days in Tallahassee in early December and I’m really looking forward to it. Since my parents will be hosting my grandparents, my great aunt, and my aunt and uncle for Christmas my goal is to help them get ready for all of the company while I’m in town. We’ll put up a tree (either using the old artificial one or buying a real one), decorate the house, buy presents, cook and freeze meals, and anything else they need. Maybe I’ll even be able to help them sell some of their DVDs that they don’t want any more. I made quite a bit of money selling old DVDs on eBay earlier this year. Maybe I can help my parents do the same. Plus I have a bunch of Precious Moments that are potentially sellable (if I can find the boxes), although I’m not sure I really want to sell them! I’m pretty attached to those little figurines, but what’s a girl supposed to do with them after she grows up? Decorating my future daughter’s room with them comes to mind, but you can bet by the time I actually have a daughter old enough to make her own decisions that she will want something totally different. My mom was never a big fan of my Precious Moments collection, but she bought the figurines for me anyway because she knew I liked them. And I know I’ll do that same thing for my daughter. My flight is landing now so I have to turn off my laptop. I’m sure this post will be heavily edited before I publish it!