What I’m thankful for now

I haven’t written a gratitude list in a long time for lots of reasons, but while I was sitting at work this weekend I made a list of some of the things I’m thankful for right now.

1) My job. I’ve never been so grateful to be gainfully employed as I have been these last six months. It’s the only thing that seems to be going right in my life these days! I can’t afford to lose sight of that so I have to remind myself every day how lucky I am.
2) Overtime pay. Since I had to work over the weekend supporting some testing and I can’t take days off later this week to make up for it, I’m lucky that my boss approved my request for overtime. A little extra money will be nice.
3) A decent raise. Fortunately I already make a good salary, but with the economy still suffering I was convinced my raise was going to be dismal this year. It’d been that way the last two years so I didn’t expect anything different in 2013. But when my boss gave me my new salary notification I was pleasantly surprised to see that I got a 4.8% raise. I’ll take it!
4) Free food. One of the good things about supporting this testing at work is getting free meals. Even if it might not be exactly what I’d order if I was on my own, I appreciate every dollar I can save these days!
5) Trying new things. Speaking of free food, we ordered lunch from a Thai restaurant on Friday which made me a little nervous because I’ve never tried Thai food before. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it so I ordered something basic – chicken pad thai. And it was delicious! I’m so glad I tried it.
6) Aleve. I won’t go into too much detail about this one, but I wouldn’t have made it through work on Saturday without it. Sometimes being a women really stinks, if you know what I mean. But fortunately I always have a bottle of Aleve in my work bag for just such an occasion. It’s God’s gift to women, I swear, and this woman is exceedingly thankful for it.

To be continued…

Thankful Thursday 5/17/12

Here’s what I’m thankful for today…

1) A cloudy morning. I hate driving to work with sun in my eyes. Especially when I’m driving Dan’s car. See the next item for an explanation.
2) Dan reminding me to drive his car today. He left for his annual desert camping trip this morning and it would have been problematic if I had taken my own car to work. Luckily my wonderful husband was thinking clearly enough before he even got out of bed to remind me which car to drive this morning.
3) A full tank of gas. Courtesy of my aforementioned wonderful husband. I did a lot of driving today so it was nice to not have to worry about running out of gas. There’s plenty of more important things to worry about when I’m driving Dan’s car!
4) Leftover brownies. My co-workers have been requesting red velvet brownies for a while so I broke down and made a pan to take to work on Wednesday. I really should have had my protein shake for breakfast this morning, but a couple of bites of leftover red velvet brownie with cream cheese frosting was so delicious!
5) A short work day. I went to the Angels baseball game so I left at noon today. Things are going to be crazy at work for the next couple of weeks so I’m grateful for a little down time now.
6) Redbox. On my way home from the Angel game I stopped by 7 Eleven to rent a movie from the Redbox outside. I settled on “W.E.” – the movie Madonna directed about Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward. It was OK. I’m just glad I only spent $1.30 to rent it rather than the exorbitant price of a ticket to see it in the theater!
7) Going to bed early. Well, early-ish. I’ve been sitting in bed writing this post much longer than I planned. Now it’s time for bed because I have to go to work tomorrow. Good night!

Thankful Thursday 5/10/12

I haven’t written a gratitude list in forever because I haven’t really felt like myself for the last few months for a variety of reasons, but I’m feeling pretty good today. I’ve been compiling this list all day so here are the things I’m thankful for today, in chronological order…

1) May Gray. While the low clouds make our mornings a little gloomy this time of year, I appreciate how they keep the temperature down. This is the reason summer doesn’t start too early in Los Angeles.
2) Confederate Jasmine. There’s a bunch of it growing near work and every time I catch a whiff of the familiar scent I’m instantly transported back to Tallahassee where my parents have some growing on their mailbox. (Or at least they used to have. I don’t remember if it’s still there.)
3) A cool breeze off the ocean. I love that I’m able to walk to lunch this late in the year while wearing a hoodie and still feel a little chilly. And I know this will make a lot of people across the country very jealous.
4) Honeysuckle on my walk to lunch. I knew there was a reason I liked Hampton Inn – the fact that they have honeysuckle growing outside their Seal Beach hotel! Honeysuckle is my favorite smell in the world.
5) My New Balance sneakers. They are so comfortable while being low profile and fairly stylish. It seems I’ve become obsessed with shoes in my old age. Sneakers and flip flops, at least. But I’ll write more about that some other time.
6) My CR-V. The recent redesign makes the new ones look like they have big butts! I am perfectly willing to spend money keeping my 2005 running if the alternative is buying an ugly new one.
7) Walmart transferring DVDs to digital for just $2? I saw a commercial about this today and I think it’s awesome! I immediately started making a mental list of the DVDs I want to be converted to digital copies. This could get expensive.
8) My co-workers. One of them suggested having a Technical Exchange Meeting (TEM) to decide who is going to bring what flavors of Oreos to an event that we have later this month. I love these guys. And for the record, I’m a big fan of Double Stuf Oreos.
9) Prince Charles doing the weather report on a Scotland TV station. Have you seen that clip? It was all over CNN today. It’s great!
10) Flexible work hours. For when I stay up way too late watching the NBA playoffs. Although I wish I hadn’t stayed up late tonight watching the Lakers lose in spectacular fashion. I’m losing faith in them this season, but that’s a subject for another post.
11) Sprite Zero. I’ve learned that there aren’t that many caffeine free diet soda options out there. Honestly I don’t miss the caffeine, just my beloved Coke Zero it comes in.
12) Show tunes. The other day one of my co-workers said, “What’s the story?” and all I could think of was that song from “Bye Bye Birdie.” “What’s the story, morning glory? What’s the word hummingbird?” I need to watch that movie again.
13) My favorite A*Teens CD. How else would I stay sane when I’m stuck in traffic? I’ve been actively trying to be more zen while driving, but I’m not always very successful. But singing along to my favorite music helps me relax and avoid road rage when some idiot cuts me off on the freeway.
14) Leftover vegetables from our 80s party. A ton of leftover baby carrots = carrot soup for my lunches. And no food going to waste! Bonus!
15) Walking. I haven’t been exercising at all lately and I feel like a total slug. But today I walked to lunch because it was a very pleasant day, and I also walked to the grocery store this evening to grab a couple of items for dinner. I just need to keep this up!
16) My husband. Who else would put up with salads for dinner two nights in a row because I have no inspiration to make anything else? Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually cook something for him! (I can’t believe I don’t have a new recipe for Foodie Friday. I feel like such a failure!)

Thankful Thursday 12/22/11

It’s been a while since I made a gratitude list so here goes…

1) My husband. What an angel! He didn’t complain once that I hadn’t fed him a home cooked meal since before I went to Tallahassee. This was most evident when he got home from work on Tuesday night, saw me making a pot of chili and said, “That looks good.” Unfortunately my reply was, “It’s not for us.” I was cooking for my final potluck of the holiday season on Wednesday so Dan pretty much went hungry that night. But I promised to make another batch of chili just for us for dinner when I got home the next day. The closest Dan got to complaining was telling me that the chili we ate last night was “worth the two-day wait.” Good to know! I am determined to do a lot of cooking for the two of us over the holidays – and not just desserts either!

2) Last day of work for 2011. Today was the last Boeing workday of 2011 and it was very quiet around the office because most people took the day off anyway. That means it was my most productive day of the year because I didn’t have people bugging me with questions every five minutes! The last day of the year is always that way. Kinda like senior skip day in high school. That’s one day I made sure not to miss because my classes were empty. It was very refreshing.

3) Boeing end-of-the-year shutdown. As of today, I don’t have to go back to work until January 3rd! What a wonderful feeling. I’m always grateful that we have the holidays off from work. We Boeing employees just have to remember how nice that is when we’re cursing the fact that we have so few other days off during the year. Having an extended holiday at the end of the year gives me a chance fully enjoy Christmas while also giving me time to regroup for the new year. Unfortunately I’m on call from Christmas Eve until January 2nd so I have to make sure I have my pager and cell phone with me at all times. (This will be most difficult when Dan and I go to the movies to see “Sherlock Holmes” and “Mission Impossible.”) I’ve got my fingers crossed that nothing happens to warrant calling me in over the holidays.

4) Our Christmas tree. Dan and I bought it from the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis on December 5th, but then it sat naked in the middle of our living room until the 18th. Poor neglected noble fir! Then last Sunday we finally started decorating it. We didn’t finish until Tuesday, though, because we inherited about a million glass ball ornaments from Dan’s grandmother and it takes forever to hang them all. We seriously can’t get a Christmas tree large enough for all of them. A lot of the branches on this year’s tree have two ornaments because of it. But as you can tell from the photo I posted yesterday the finished product is beautiful. Gabe our mechanized angel tree topper (also inherited from Dan’s grandmother) is even working this year! We call him Wheezing Gabe for a reason. I’ll have to take a video of him to share. I know I’ll be cursing our Christmas tree when I have to take it down in January, but at least for now ‘m enjoying having it in the house.

5) Christmas shopping 100% done. I picked up one last thing for Dan at the mall today, but now I’m completely done shopping for Christmas. It’s a good feeling. I’m trying to avoid the crowds at all costs so the only place I’ll be shopping for the next few days is the grocery store. Now if only I had Dan’s gifts wrapped! At least I have two more days to get that done.

Thankful Thursday 11/4/11

I’m going to San Francisco this weekend to see my family and Supershuttle will be here to pick me up to go to the airport very soon, but I wanted to update my webpage while I still have internet access. So here’s what I’m thankful for today…

1) That my student loans are paid off. First of all, I’m constantly grateful to have a job, but I’m also glad that I finished paying back my student loans a couple of years ago. I can’t imagine graduating from college, being unemployed not by choice but because of the economy, and still having to repay thousands of dollars in loans. I feel very lucky.

2) Dan’s sense of humor. Case in point…
Dan: “We can’t buy any more alcohol.”
Lauren: “Why? because it’s too expensive?”
Dan: “No…”
Lauren: “Because you don’t want to drink it?”
Dan: “No…”
Lauren: “Because we ran out of room in the liquor cabinet?”
Dan: “Yes!”

3) Getting ready for work at home. This morning I went back to sleep rather than getting up to go to spinning. I was mad at myself for being so lazy, but I definitely needed the shut-eye. But the best thing about sleeping in was being able to shower at home, using my full array of beauty products. I got to condition my hair, exfoliate my arms, and shave my legs. That’s a lot nicer than the quickie showers I take at the gym after spinning. The 2-in-1 shampoo in my gym bag just doesn’t cut it.

4) Missing the rain. It rained at my house before I left for work this morning and it poured while I was at work today, but I managed be outside in between the storms. How great is that? I took my umbrella with me today, but it stayed safely dry and wrapped up due to my good luck. I have a feeling I’ll have to use it in San Francisco this weekend, though.

5) Snow-covered mountains for the first time this winter. So gorgeous – especially when you don’t have to endure freezing temperatures for that kind of view. I know this first snow of the season will probably melt in a week or too, but I’m going to enjoy the scenery while I can.

6) Halloween being over. And I’m not just talking about the party being over. While I love the idea of a holiday that revolves around candy, it’s really bad for my waistline! I’m definitely not going to miss the giant bowls of candy in all of the kitchens at work. Even though Thanksgiving and Christmas are definitely heavily calorie-laden, it’s much easier to stay away from candy after Halloween is over. Cookies are another matter!

Thankful Thursday 10/13/11

Here’s what I’m thankful for today…

1) My husband. This week Dan heard me tell the same story at least three times because I thought it was funny and kept forgetting that I’d told it already. And the he listened to me vent about all of the problems I’ve been having at work. Just annoyances, nothing major, but I certainly had a lot to say. Poor Dan. He was a saint. If I couldn’t unload my frustrations every once in a while I would go crazy.

2) My co-workers. When they weren’t enduring one of my daily rants (yes, I vented not just to Dan, but to everyone I encountered this week) they were fixing whatever problem was plaguing me at the moment. And there were a lot of problems to fix. I seriously don’t know what I would do without my co-workers. They were all willing to do everything in their power to help me, although they might have just been trying to get me to stop whining! Either way I really appreciate them.

3) Safety. So I’m assuming everyone heard about the shootings at the salon in Seal Beach yesterday. Pretty scary, huh? Well, I work at Boeing in Seal Beach which is about a mile away from where it took place. Luckily I am alive and well and very thankful to be so. Actually, I would have had no idea what was going on yesterday except we had CNN on in the room where I was working. Not only do I work in Seal Beach, but I lived there for a year and a half before Dan and I bought our house. It’s such an idyllic community that it’s hard to imagine any sort of crime there. Very sad. My heart goes out to the families who were touched by this tragedy.

4) Jenni. My high school best friend contacted me through Twitter early this morning to make sure I wasn’t at that salon in Seal Beach yesterday. I was very glad to tell her that I wasn’t. I haven’t seen Jenni in many years and I really miss her friendship so it was very nice to hear from her. I miss all of my high school girlfriends, actually. Making friends as an adult is hard!

5) Weekends. I know this is on all of my gratitude lists, but I am so burned out this week that I can’t wait for a break. I thought I was done with extended workdays after last week, but this week has been more of the same. My brain was so fried before I went home today that I could barely type. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to go home after lunch tomorrow and have an extra half day to relax. Dan is going to Florida for a few days so I have some time to myself. I have no idea how I’m going to fill it, but you’ll definitely find out in my weekend posts!

Belated gratitude list

I intended to write a gratitude list yesterday, but I wasn’t firing on all cylinders after I got home from work. So here’s what I was thinking about, but couldn’t manage to put into words yesterday…

1) Empty freeways at 2 AM. When you have to be at work that early in the morning, one of the perks is not having too many other cars to dodge on your commute. I got to work in about fifteen minutes, which is unheard of any other time of the day.
2) Caffeine. I wasn’t feeling very awake when I got to work, so as soon as I walked in the door I grabbed a can Diet Mt. Dew that I left in the fridge last week. The cold liquid paired with a shot of caffeine made the early morning hours a little friendlier.
3) My co-workers who brought cookies. Some people balk at a sugar rush first thing in the morning, but sometimes it’s a good thing. I was not crazy about being at work when I am usually asleep, but being able to eat cookies as soon as I arrived kinda softened the blow. But let me say for the record, Berry Burst Ice Cream Oreos are TERRIBLE.
4) Breakfast. Or in my case, lunch because my day started at 2 AM. When we’re lucky enough to have a catered meal at work it’s usually just from the on-site cafeteria, which isn’t very good, but our breakfast yesterday morning was some seriously delicious quiche. I’m usually not a big fan of quiche, but the slice I had with sausage and ham and cheese was fabulous.
5) More caffeine. Our daily supply of drinks arrived with breakfast and it was well-received. I used a can of Coke to make it through the last few hours of my shift. By mid-morning I was definitely fading fast, but the surge of caffeine and sugar got me to the end of my workday.
6) Leisurely shopping. When I left work at 12:30 PM I just wanted to go home and crash, but I had to get the ingredients for dinner beforehand. As I said yesterday, I went to three stores to get pasta, tomato products, and meat for last night’s spaghetti. It was worth it. And shopping during the day is much more relaxing than in the evening.
7) Naps. Not that I got much sleep because my routine was so thrown off, but it was still nice to be able to rest a little before Dan got home from work. I think naps are one of life’s little luxuries and I indulge in them as often as I can
8) Not having to get up early. Even though I was exhausted I had a really difficult time going to sleep last night, but luckily I didn’t have to be at work early this morning. So I slept in much later than I usually do on a weekday to make up for it. Too bad it was Tuesday and the garbage trucks started driving up and down the street at 7 AM!

Very thankful

I got to work on Tuesday morning a bit later than usual because I hadn’t slept well the night before. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself because I was tired, run-down, and generally in a lousy mood. All I wanted to do that day was crawl back into in bed, pull the covers over my head, and hide from the world. A day of channel surfing and napping sounded like just the ticket, but I convinced myself I could survive another day of work because I was already behind on several assignments. As I was walking from the parking lot to my building I ran into someone I worked with in Long Beach on a temporary assignment before I started my current job. That was nearly seven years ago so I only vaguely remembered him, but I’d seen him once or twice recently and I knew he was working in Seal Beach now. He asked how things at work were going and I said I was very busy, and he responded by saying that his last day with the company is this Friday. I was stunned. From his conversational manner I never expected to hear something so awful, but with all the layoffs in the last six months I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. I didn’t know what to say. I told my old co-worker I was sorry and wished him good luck on his job hunt, but it was a completely inadequate response. I felt so helpless. So I gave him what was supposed to be a compassionate smile, turned around, and walked in to my building. That meeting was a wake up call. It didn’t matter how bad I was feeling or how much I didn’t want to go to work that day – I was still employed and very lucky to be so. I realize that I sometimes take my job for granted, but I am incredibly grateful to still be working and bringing home a paycheck in these uncertain times. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my job. I don’t even like thinking about that possibility. So to try and make sure that doesn’t happen I vow to get up and go to work every day and be the best employee I can. I really do love my job. I just need to remember that more often.

Thankful Monday?

Here is the much-delayed gratitude list that I started last week before I was put out of commission by a debilitating back injury. It’s much easier to be thankful when you aren’t in agony!

1) My husband. Poor Dan had to deal with his wife being either in serious pain (I do not have a high threshold, hence I was cranky) or a drug-induced haze (sounds fun, but it wasn’t) several days last week so I’m glad he stuck around through it all. I was pretty much useless as a spouse during that time, and it wasn’t until Friday that I actually made a home cooked meal (some delicious spaghetti). Dan was practically wasting away by then!
2) Baking. On Monday I made a batch of the scrumptious 5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies and also a batch of fluffernutter cookies (to be featured in a future post) because I wanted something for dessert. Then on Tuesday I made a big pan of cookies & cream brownies (also to be featured in a future post) for my co-workers. I really enjoy baking. In fact, it’s kind of like an addiction. If only I could stop myself from eating so many of the things I make!
3) My health. Despite moaning and groaning about my back for the past week, I am truly thankful that I don’t have any serious or chronic health issues to worry about. I am generally a very healthy person. I don’t get sick very often (my last malady was a cold over Christmas) and I do my best to keep from hurting myself (a few knife cuts while preparing dinner notwithstanding). It’s very easy for me to take my health for granted so I try to remember how fortunate I am as often as possible.
4) 24-hour CVS. Where else would I have been able to buy a heating pad and get advice on how much Advil to take for a back spasm at 4 AM? While the pharmacist couldn’t give me anything but painkillers over the counter, I was happy to be able to talk to someone in the middle of the night about what I was going through.
5) Modern medicine. Not only am I thankful for Seal Beach Urgent Care which allowed me to see a doctor very shortly after arriving, but I am also thankful for the drugs that he prescribed for me. Without them I would not have been able to get any rest until my muscles decided to relax on their own. And who knows how long that would have taken. It’s easy to take the dizzying array of widely available medicines for granted, but I don’t know what I would have done without them last week.
6) Dumb TV. I spent a lot of time watching stupid television programs while I was laid up last week. Most notably, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” of which I recorded and watched about eight episodes. That show is badly acted and really badly written, but yet I still watch it. This makes it easy to see how so many of these dumb shows stay on the air season after season.
7) My family. A lot of things have been changing in my family lately. Most notably, my grandparents moved from Tampa to Tallahassee two weeks ago. Recently it’s become apparent that they are no longer autonomous, so my parents helped them move into assisted living center in their hometown (and my birthplace). From what I heard, the move by itself was very stressful, but then my grandfather fell and broke his hip and ended up in the hospital. His hip has since been repaired, but he’s still struggling to get back on his feet. I wish I could be there to help my mom and dad with everything they’re dealing with on a daily basis, but I try to send them as much love as I can from all the way in California. If I was smart I’d send them a bunch of homemade cookies and brownies. Now that’s an idea!
8) A day off! Because I worked Friday night I have enough accumulated hours to take a day off. And I’ve decided that day is going to be tomorrow. I’ve already stayed up way too late tonight because I know I don’t have to get up early in the morning. But if I sleep in too late tomorrow I’ll feel like I wasted half the day. I hate that feeling. So my goal is to get up when Dan leaves for work and make the most of my day off. I guess that means I need to go to bed now. Good night!

Thankful Thursday 7/21/11

Here’s what I’m thankful for today…

1) My slow cooker. Even though I was awakened several times during the night due to the aroma of carnitas in progress, I’m still grateful to be able to safely cook a pork roast overnight. Remember that old infomercial, “Set it and forget it!” Yeah, it’s kinda like that. I don’t utilize my Crockpot as much as I should, but I’ve made some really good recipes with it so far this year. Hopefully I’ll find a lot more as I continue my cooking experiments.
2) My Converse. They’re usually only a part of my wardrobe on Fridays because I try to look semi-professional at work the rest of the week, but since I was going to the Angels game this afternoon I made an exception. Wearing my Converse today made it feel like a Friday. Definitely an indulgence, especially since I’m going to wear them tomorrow too.
3) Safe spaceflight. The Atlantis orbiter landed flawlessly at Kennedy Space Center this morning, bringing its four astronauts back to Earth as well as marking the end of the Space Shuttle program. I have been lucky enough to watch three shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral, including one from the parking lot of the Vehicle Assembly Building on the base itself. It’s an awesome and humbling experience. I feel very fortunate to live in a time where we can send humans into space and bring them safely back. I just hope that NASA is able to continue it’s mission to explore our universe in the years to come.
4) Hot dogs. Or as Athony Bourdain likes to call them, “meat in tubular form.” According to the world-traveling chef, just about every country and culture has their own version of a hot dog, and today mine was wrapped in bacon! The hot dogs at Angel Stadium aren’t nearly as good as at Dodger Stadium, but what else was I going to have for lunch at a baseball game?
5) Sweet potato fries. I was so excited to find a booth at Angel Stadium that sells sweet potato fries the last time I was there. They are so incredibly good! Regular french fries don’t usually interest me (unless they’re fron In N Out), but I can’t say no to sweet potato fries. And so few places serve them so I never turn them down. I shared my order with my co-workers at the game today, though, so I wouldn’t eat them all myself.
6) A clean house. Since Dan and I are hosting a party on Saturday we had a maid service come today and clean our house from top to bottom. It’s like having a brand new house. I love it! And tonight Dan and I replaced our old rectangular area rug with the new circular one now that the floor is clean. I think it looks great. Photos coming soon!
7) The return of rugby. The New Zealand All Blacks will be meeting their first opponent of the season tomorrow and it will be televised live at 12:30 tomorrow morning. Stupid time difference! Needless to say Dan and I will be recording the match to watch later, but I’m still excited about the prospect of watching rugby again. It’s the next best thing to watching college football. Go All Blacks!