Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chardonnay's famous fruit dip

In a few hours we're headed off to a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house! We're bringing a bottle of champagne and this beautiful tray of deliciousness:

The fruit dip is super simple. I've brought it to many parties and I'm always asked how to make it.

The ingredients: 1 cube of cream cheese and 1 jar of marshmallow creme.

Just mix them together and let the compliments roll in. I prefer it with strawberries.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy blogiversary!

It was one year ago that I blogged my very first post. Since then, I've posted 170 blog entries.

I love blogging because it allows me to share my life with family, friends and strangers who live far away, because I can express myself however I want, and because it's a way to document my life.

I love that I can look back on everything I did in the past year... go to broadway shows... go to civil rights rallies... travel to San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Oregon, Washington, Canada... get promoted... turn 23... get engaged... host Thanksgiving... it's all there for me to look back on and remember!

Those were the exact reasons I wanted to start my blog. Happy blogiversary!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas weekend

As expected, Christmas weekend was a great time. James and I drove to Corning on Christmas morning and we opened presents once everyone was there.

My secret santa was my sister Samantha, so I got lots of stuff from Thailand! She and her husband spent 3 weeks there recently. I got jewelry, a jewelry box, a key chain, a cute little buddha, pillow covers, candle holders and placemats.

Later more family came over and we played games, like always.

The day after Christmas I went wedding dress shopping again with Mom and Victoria. I ended up ordering my favorite dress from last weekend [final choice is a secret]! I realized that I compared every dress to that favorite, and nothing could compare. I love it! It'll be delivered in March.

That day we also went after-Christmas clearance shopping and got some cards and ornaments for next year, and tons of white lights for our wedding reception! 50% off woo hoo!

Now we're relaxing at home. Aside from this cold I've had all weekend, Christmas 2009 was a success. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Photo Friday: Christmas lights

Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a fantastic day and enjoying what Santa delivered. And more importantly, spending time with those you love.

Last night, James and I went to his mom's house and on the way home we drove through East Sacramento to check out the awesome Christmas lights. One of the streets had these lights going all up and down the block, as well as over it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Christmas

Today I'm thankful that it's almost Christmas, of course! I have a 3-day weekend starting tomorrow. I really wish it was more, but that vacation time is being saved for my trip to Europe and our wedding. Hopefully next year I can take a few more days off around the holidays.

However, a long weekend is SO needed right now! It's been a long, anxiety-ridden week at work. Nothing I can't handle... but I'm welcoming the short break.

Tonight we're going to James' mom's house to exchange gifts. Tomorrow we're leaving early in the a.m. to go to my parents' house 100 miles away. Christmas presents will be exchanged first, then probably games (We love games! I got a new one - Last Word - at our white elephant party at work), then my dad will cook a fab meal for dinner. Saturday is another round of wedding dress shopping with Mom and Victoria, my brother's girlfriend.

I'm thankful for all the time we get to spend with family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy hour with friends

Last night I had the chance to go out to happy hour with some friends. Well, it started as happy hour and turned into pizza at 10 p.m. We used to go out all the time, but I hadn't in months! I miss seeing everyone and doing fun things together! Luckily one of the couples is hosting a New Years Eve party at their house, so more fun is coming soon :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wedding dress shopping

I went wedding dress shopping this weekend! It was so much fun! I can't thank my mom, sister Samantha and friend Michelle enough for joining me. Their advice was so needed and appreciated.

So, wanna see some pictures? Thank you Michelle for being the perfect photographer!

First I'll show you some definite NO dresses. There were some that looked great on the hanger but not so much on me:






[Yikes! Horrible on me!]


Here are some that were okay - but no.





[Doin' the robot]


I'm not going to reveal the final choice, of course. You'll have to wait 10 months for wedding photos for that! But here are some good ones that have wedding dress potential.





I haven't made a final decision, but there's a leader here...
Tell me your vote!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Photo Friday: James & Chandra

James' sister lives in Washington and he rarely gets to see her - probably once every year or two. Yesterday Chandra had a 3-hour layover here in Sacramento on her way from Washington to Florida. He was able to meet her at the airport to visit and have lunch.

I was happy for him, since they really don't see each other enough!

I got to meet her (and her husband and daughters) for the first time in August on our vacation. I loved them all!

Here's James and his youngest neice at their house in August. She and her sister are both really sweet. You may not to be able to tell from this picture, but it's true! ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Christmas shopping

I'm very thankful that I didn't have to shop for Christmas presents for my whole family. Just finding gifts for my secret santa person and James' mom and nieces was hard enough!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Photo Friday: 2nd Annual Land Park Barbecue

My cousin Heather just found and posted on Facebook some photos of the barbecue James and I hosted back in May.

Brother-in-law Andre, me, Rose & Uncle Lee

Heather & Mom

Rusty, Mother-in-law Rita & James

Our third annual barbecue will be scheduled sometime next summer :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Holiday parties

I'm thankful for all the holiday parties going on lately. Last Friday we had a party at my boss' house, and the week before Christmas we're having another party at work where we'll have a white elephant gift exchange. It's all so much fun! Someday when we own a bigger house we'll host a holiday party. A tacky sweater holiday party! How fun would that be?!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow forecast

Last night I learned that it was predicted to snow in Sacramento, and let's just say I was a little excited! It never snows here!

The last time it did was 8 years ago (according to the news). My hometown is 100 miles north and has the same climate – it also never snows. It did briefly when I was a sophomore in high school, and it was awesome! For those of us who hardly ever see snow, this is big news!

I was hoping to wake up to snow this morning, but sadly I was disappointed. It was just rain.

There was quite a bit of snow about 20 miles to the east of us – where the elevation is just a little higher. I SO wish I could have seen it!

I will say that although snow once a decade is exciting, I’m very glad that I live in a place where it doesn’t snow all winter long. That’s just too cold for me! I was only looking forward to it because it’s so rare here.

All images from weheartit

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thankful Thursday: TV with James

Thankful Thursday is getting hard! I know I have things to be thankful for, but it's tough to think of what they are and how to make a good blog post out of it.

Today I'm thankful for the TV shows James and I watch together (he helped me think of this topic last night as Glee was about to start). It's something we can do together every week and share.

The shows we watch religiously together: Desperate Housewives, Glee, Family Guy and Law & Order. He says he watches those first two for me, but I know he loves them!

Of course we enjoy doing other things together... but there are so many TV shows that we disagree on that it's really nice to watch something together, that both of us are interested in, while cuddling in bed.

Shows that I love and he hates: Anything on HGTV, Real Housewives of... (anywhere), The Little Couple, Jon & Kate + 8.

Shows that he loves and I hate: Everything on ESPN, wrestling, sports, sports... and sports.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goal #56: Go to a Sacramento Kings game

Last night Dad, Mom, James and I went to a Kings game. James suggested it and it was a really good idea for a holiday weekend. The Kings won.

Two goals crossed off the list in two days!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Photo Friday / Goal #58: Thanksgiving at our house!

I took a photo of the table set for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly, I don't have one of it covered with food and people.

The day was great. I had such a fantastic time with my family talking, laughing and chosing our secret santa gift exchange recipients! I'm excited to shop for my person!

I also loved cooking everything. It wasn't too hard, but the most challenging part was being organized enough to make everything be done at the same time. Organization is totally my thing!

Everyone said the turkey turned out really well. That was the one thing I had never cooked before and was a little intimidated by, but it was pretty easy. I also made: Mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, sweet corn tomalito, basil bubbles and sausage apple & cranberry stuffing.

My mom brought peach pie, pecan pie and strawberry rhubarb pie. My mother-in-law brought lumpia with sweet & sour sauce and wine.

Host Thanksiving at my house was #58 on my list of goals to accomplish by my 30th birthday. I've now completed 30 of the 100!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving edition!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Today I am thankful for:

♥ This lovely holiday

♥ A four day weekend

♥ A three day work week

♥ Going wine tasting with my parents on Saturday

The delicious food I'm making

♥ My mom bringing pies

♥ My mother-in-law bringing lumpia

♥ Delicious red wine that I will be drinking today

♥ James, the sweetest fiance who helped me clean the whole house in preparation for Thanksgiving

♥ The beautiful fall trees in our neighborhood

♥ Cinnamon scented pinecones

♥ Great deals

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Second annual P family Secret Santa extravaganza!

Last year I came up with a fantastic Christmas gift exchange idea, if I do say so myself. I feel like it’s made our family Christmas much more fun and easy. I personally love it!

This will be the second year we do a Secret Santa gift exchange in our family – which consists of 9 people: Mom, Dad, me, James, younger sister, older sister, older sister’s husband, brother, brother’s girlfriend. Whew! Our family is constantly expanding!

Here’s us plus an uncle and a cousin last Thanksgiving (or was it Christmas?)
{Wow, us girls in the middle are pale!}

Our new tradition dictates that names will be drawn at Thanksgiving. Everyone gets a piece of paper and writes their name and what they want (I think we said gifts would be about $50). Then we draw names and that’s the one person you buy Christmas gifts for that year.

It’s so much better than before because buying for everyone usually means they don’t get a personal or special gift – they just get something random because you “had” to get them something. We ended up with lots of stuff that was not needed, and spending more money than necessary. That’s not what Christmas is about – it’s about spending time together.

This year Rose (younger sister) is in Ireland for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, while Samantha and Andre (older sister and husband) are in Thailand for Thanksgiving. We’ve designated Victoria (brother’s girlfriend) to draw names on their behalf at Thanksgiving. They’ll have to email her what they want and she’ll let them know who they’re buying gifts for. Whoever draws Rose will ship their gift to Europe and she’ll ship her gift back to California.

I love our new tradition!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Christmas tree is up!

It's the week before Thanksgiving, and in my house that means Christmas decor has made its appearance! Some say that Thanksgiving has to be over before doing this, but hello - we have to enjoy it next weekend!! I love decorating for Christmas!

I did leave the fall wreath out since it's pretty Thanksgiving-y. The Christmas wreath will go up in a week or two.

New furniture

A few weeks ago James and I purchased a new coffee table. Our old one from Ikea wasn’t looking so hot. $30 Ikea coffee tables will only last so long!

We shopped around at some “real” furniture stores, but quickly decided that they were way out of our price range! Not to mention, those huge tables would have looked out of place in our small living room.

We ended up purchasing the Avington coffee table from Target.

It looks really nice. The only problem? Now I really want to buy the matching TV stand! The nice table makes our old (very old) one look quite ugly.

I also never blogged about our new couch! This one was free though :) Rose gave it to us before she moved to Ireland (thanks!), and it's a lot nicer than the old one.

We listed the old one for free on Craigslist. I was happy to be able to help someone out with furnishing thier house :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Photo Friday: Los Angeles

In 2006 Rose and I took a trip down to Los Angeles. We went to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Venice Beach, the Getty museum and probably more that I don't remember.

The Getty - a really cool art museum

The Desperate Housewives set at Universal Studios

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Technology

My mom has never been a computer-savvy person, but she got an email account a few months ago and now we talk SO much! She emails me almost every day about what she’s up to, and she even got Skype and we do that sometimes too. We live 100 miles apart and I love hearing from her.

And despite my sister living halfway across the world we get to talk almost daily via email and Skype. I don’t have to miss her too much since I know all about what she’s doing in Ireland.

I’m so thankful we’re able to keep in touch!

The P. ladies - Christmas 2006

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kindness and generosity

My mom sent me this email last weekend. I love my parents! They are so generous and always helping people. This is a totally normal thing for my mom to do:

The weirdest thing happened today after a lovely day of breakfast in Chico, a quick lunch at home, then a nice drive to the mountains… a man we don't know knocked and asked for donations because his 70 year old neighbor's trailer house burned down. They're from McLane Street [a really poor part of their town]. All I gave him was a $5, a sweatshirt, and a bag of pistachios. He said a lot of other people were rude to him!

We asked for his name, and wrote down his address. After he left we felt bad and filled 3 grocery bags of food, as well as a blanket and a few more clothes and delivered them, but no one was home (we left it all on top of a truck... and as we left saw them returning home).

I feel so guilty… he lives in a dumpy little tiny trailer while we live in a castle that he saw briefly while I dug for a sweatshirt... and all I could give him was $5!! To add to it I noticed that he had a teenage girl and boy in the backseat who looked embarrassed to have to go along. And I think they are probably his grand children that he is raising in that tiny trailer... he is poor but wants to help his poorer neighbor. Isn’t that sweet!

I'm going to see what our Church people can contribute. They're best when asked for specific items, bedding, bowls or whatever.

I really think this is above and beyond what most people would ever do for a stranger. Thank you Mom and Dad! The last update my mom gave me, a friend had offered a set of pots and pans, blankets and towels. The people at her church are so kind and constantly helping people in their community.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cakes and Officiants

This morning we got up bright and early and left our house at 6:15 for a day of wedding appointments.

Appointment #1: Wedding officiant A. The one I mentioned before who was flaky. I decided to give her another chance - I was worried that she had emailed or called and I somehow missed it, making me the rude one. That was not the case, she just didn’t get back to me. But since we were heading over we met with her anyway. We didn't love her... she didn't really ask any questions or try to get to know us. That, combined with her unresponsiveness, made us take a pass on her.

Appointment #2: Bakery A. Fine cake, fine price. Were not blown away by the deliciousness, but it would have been acceptable.

Appointment #3: Wedding officiant B. Serious clash of personalities here! We have completely different visions of our wedding ceremony and I really didn't like her. She really wanted us to do a "ritual," like a wine ceremony or sand ceremony. If you Google those terms you'll find out what they are. We just don't find them necessary or meaningful. She is also a professional singer and wanted to sing a song at our ceremony. Sorry, but that's cheesy to us!! She said that if we only have instrumental music it's not as special because "the words tell a story." Gag. The way she went about saying all these things made me feel personally criticized for not wanting them. She didn't just suggest - I felt that she implied that our ceremony would suck if we didn't do those stupid details. Big fat NO to her!

Appointment #4: Bakery B. Tried a vanilla cake with raspberry filling that was moist and ten times better than the first bakery! The taste convinced us to go with this one. It will be a little more expensive - maybe about $30ish more - but we're pretty sure we're going to go with this place.

Our last stop was the funnest by far! We went to our ceremony site - a public park-like area overlooking the ocean - to survey parking and exactly where we'll place everything. It was probably the funnest task so far. James was SO helpful and had great ideas! His ideas of how and where we'll walk into the ceremony were much better than mine. Love him!!

We'll say our vows right about where these people are standing. Our guests will have a view of the whole Monterey Bay and the mountains on the other side.

Here's us, standing in exact spot that we'll get married in ten months!

And here's us by the beach :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Photo Friday: Kittysitting

James and I are keeping my older sister's three cats for three and a half weeks. Actually two are their cats, one is a kitten they're taking care of until his future family can take him in December.

Here's me, surrounded by kitties.

We're kittysitting because Samantha and Andre are on vacation in Thailand! I'm so very jealous.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Farmers' market

Today I’m thankful for living half a mile from the best farmers' market in the region. Every Sunday until noon there’s a huge farmers' market in the parking lot under the freeway at 8th and W Streets in Sacramento. It’s crazy crowded and traffic is a nightmare. But, we always walk. It’s fab!

During the summer we go almost every week to get fresh strawberries, blackberries, peaches, melons… when it gets colder we don’t go as much, but I’m planning to go the Sunday before Thanksgiving to get all the fresh herbs and vegetables I’ll need to make that meal.

Buying your fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market really saves a lot of money. On our walk home we always add up how much we spent and what it would cost at Safeway. It seems to consistently be about half because you’re not dealing with the mark-up grocery stores charge to make a profit.

But on top of the savings, it’s a really fun atmosphere that gives you a sense of community. Going there allows you to interact with your neighbors (even if it’s just a smile) and the farmers who grow your food. I just love it, and I’m really thankful that going is so easy for us because of our location.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goal #91: Buy a nice camera

Last week I ordered a new camera and it’s here! My old one had a good run, but it was purchased in 2004/2005 and technology has advanced a lot since then. My old Kodak EasyShare produces pictures that are grainy and especially bad if you try to zoom in at all.

I decided that buying a new one before my trip of a lifetime to Europe was an absolute must! After doing a lot of research, I decided on the Canon PowerShot SD1200-IS.

Here’s a little comparison of the picture quality.

My engagement ring with the old camera

My engagement ring with the new camera

I just got it last night so it was hard to test out in our house (it was dark ouside). There wasn't much to take photos of. I'll have to take some real pics before I can really evaluate... this weekend's trip to Santa Cruz is the perfect test :D

See my list of 100 goals to accomplish by my 30th birthday here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanksgiving menu

In two weeks, James and I are hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner at our house. I'm thrilled that my parents, brother, his girlfriend, and my future mother in law will be joining us! Here's what's on the menu for the day...

Main course:

Turkey (using this recipe and this article)


Fresh Express BLT salad from Safeway

Side dishes:

Mashed potatoes (using this recipe plus sour cream)

Gravy (using this recipe)

Sweet potato casserole (using this recipe)

Basil bubbles (see recipe below)

Green bean casserole (using this recipe)

Sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing (using this recipe)

Cranberry sauce (from a can)


Mom is bringing the pies! Strawberry rhubarb, pumpkin, peach and pecan.


Pinot noir


Sparkling apple cider

Hungry yet? Me too!

*Basil bubbles recipe:
This is the recipe my mom makes every Thanksgiving. The're sooo good!

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 stick margarine
2 cups sour cream
*chopped garlic

*The recipe my mom gave me way back when doesn't have amounts of these ingredients. I guess you'll have to just wing it? I recommend lots.


  1. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
  2. Cut in margarine.
  3. Add sour cream.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine garlic, parmesan, basil and paprika.
  5. Form balls out of the dough and roll in the mixture of herbs.
  6. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.