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.

"Are you changing your name when you get married?"

Today I happened to see an article that kind of offended me. Click here to see it – it’s by a writer who seems to think she’s progressive and modern. I just think she’s judgmental and bossy.

Faith Salie makes the argument that women should not change their last names when they marry. It’s her opinion that the practice is sexist and women are giving up their identities when they give up their last name. She gives several examples of famous women who go by their maiden names as “proof” that this way is better, such as Mariah Carey and Vera Wang. Okay…

My opinion? It’s a personal choice. I’m not going to change my name because my fiance asks me to, nor will I because my father asks me to. And I’m certainly not going to do something just because a humor writer says I should. That decision is my own.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm fairly liberal with feminist views. And I am 90% sure that I’m going to change my last name when I get married next year. I’ve thought about it quite a bit. That 10% of hesitation is there because I do have a problem with the man being the one to always keep his name. But really, I dislike that just as much as a child always taking his or her father’s name. It’s the same problem, and they’re both equally sexist.

My main reason for wanting the same last name as my husband has to do with us being a family. We do want children, and I want all of us to share a name. I think that makes a lot of details easier and it’s just something I want for our future family.

To my reasoning, Salie says “Um, nuh-uh. Did your grandmother have the same last name as you? Was she still your Nana?” No, biatch. But my mother does have the same last name as me. Duh.

James doesn’t care what name I use. He recognizes that it’s completely up to me and that’s how husbands should treat the decision.

My whole point is that a person’s name is his or her own choice. I can do what I want. And you, Faith Salie, can do what you want. We all have that freedom and to judge other people on their choice is just petty and divisive.

P.S. - After I'm married please don't call me Mrs. James K. I have a first name. It's Chardonnay K. I do feel that calling someone Mrs. Husband's name does remove her identity. It says that all she is, is that little "s" after "Mr." Just personal preference.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More wedding appointments

Next weekend we're headed to Santa Cruz once again to take care of some exciting (to me) wedding-related tasks.

We're meeting with an officiant - I realized I better take care of that since that's the one thing you actually 100% need to get married! I really like her from talking on the phone. She seems cool and like we'll get along great, which I think is important. I want her to genuinely be able to say something nice about us at our wedding ceremony, and have a personal connection.

I also tried to meet with another woman who I thought I liked, but she must not want our business. After some phone tag and emails back and forth, I said "Let's meet Saturday at 9 a.m. What's a good location to meet?" No response... ever... kind of unprofessional.

James and I agreed that our ceremony will be secular (like us) and our officiant must be willing to perform same-sex ceremonies. I know to some people it seems silly since we're not a same-sex couple, but it's a very important matter of principle to both of us. We don't want to give our money or trust our ceremony to someone who does not believe in equal rights as we do. Finding an officiant who met these requirements wasn't hard at all.

And, since we're in town, we also made some cake tasting appointments (free cake!). I'm bringing these photos to give them an idea of what we want:


We'll also visit our ceremony site to scope out some details like parking (while enjoying the view). Have you seen the view? So excited that we're getting married here!

We'll also eat lunch at our reception site most likely. It should be a fun, busy Saturday!

Photo Friday: Halloween

Since last weekend was Halloween (and I didn't dress up), I'm posting pictures from Halloweens past. I don't dress up every year, but these are my favorites:

2008 - Flapper! I wish I had a better picture of the whole get-up, which included fishnet stockings, awesome flapper dress, pearls, clutch, feather boa, long gloves and headband.

This is a full-length shot, but I wasn't wearing most of the accessories.

Halloween 2008 was spent at a club with some friends from work.

I'm cutting friends out of these pictures, as I feel kind of weird about posting pictures of them where they probably don't even know about it.

2006 - Wilma Flintstone! I made my dress out of a ghost costume - I cut it into the right shape.

This was the first Halloween James and I were dating. He refused to dress up as Fred Flintstone. So lame.

I loved this costume, especially the fact that I made it all myself, including the Wilma necklace.

Halloween 2006 was a house party at the apartment of some good friends.

My idea for next year is a retro chick, kind of like this:

I'm sure I can find a totally groovy dress at a secondhand store, and some fugly accessories at the mall!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Short commute

Living 2 miles from your office is great! I am so thankful for my short, 10 - 12 minute commute each day.

Most days I get to go home for lunch, which is great because I usually am too lazy to pack something for lunch in the morning. And I can’t go out for lunch every day; it’s just not budget or diet-friendly!

I realize that someday I won’t have this luxury, and that makes me sad. We want to buy a house in a year or two, and unfortunately probably can’t afford a home in our wonderful centrally-located neighborhood.

For now I’ll savor it and be thankful!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Best Buy update

Remember my post from last week about Best Buy’s horrible customer service? I sent the message to the company’s Customer Service, Public Relations and Community Relations departments, and I also sent it as a reply when they spammed me with sales emails. I was hoping that getting my story in front of all those people would cause someone to realize that their behavior was unacceptable.

It worked! Monday afternoon I received a voicemail from the manager of the Sacramento (Arden) Best Buy store saying that she’d like to talk to me about my complaint and get my mailing address to send my refund! I will say that she was polite and apologized for the way I was treated.

I’m still never, ever shopping at Best Buy again, as this situation never should have happened in the first place. But I appreciate that my complaint was addressed and I’ve received the refund I wanted.

My money order came in the mail today. I feel so vindicated!