Category Archives: 101 in 1001

#13: Plant an herb garden

This is actually round two of planting an herb garden. I planted some seeds at the end of October last year (yes, I know, not the best time to plant) and with our unusually wet winter here in Southern California, the small planter I used got completely flooded and killed the little that had grown.  After that, I decided I would wait until we moved  into our house to attempt an herb garden again.

This time I went with medium pots from Wal-Mart – all identical (because I’m a perfectionist like that). We still had plenty of potting soil left over from the last round, so I filled up the pots, sprinkled in the seeds and labeled everything…and have been watering and waiting to see the first sign of herbs – which I finally saw today (I planted them on June 10, so took ten days). I’m so excited (though we’ve got a few more weeks before there will actually be anything usable!)

Here’s some photos of the finished pots (the day I planted).

Here’s the list of everything I planted: Chives (onion), Oregano, Dill, Basil, Oregano, Sage, Thyme, and Cilantro (which I only recently discovered is the same plant that produces Coriander…interesting!). A few days after I finished planting all of these, we added one more herb to the bunch, at John’s request (it’s not pictured): Spearmint. We actually bought a small plant to start that one because they didn’t have any seeds at the Home Depot we went to, though I later bought some at Wal-Mart and planted them with the small plant.

In the next few weeks, I’ll show you how my herbs are doing (since the 101 task is actually to plant and MAINTAIN an herb garden!). I can’t wait to start using these herbs instead of always having to buy them from the store and/or substituting dried for fresh (just isn’t the same!). I’m also excited to start our vegetable garden soon (I hope!) since our raised bed will be delivered by my dad when my parents come to visit next weekend!






#54: Host a Housewarming Party

As I’ve mentioned several times before, we had our housewarming party on June 5 with over 40 of our family and friends stopping by during our open house. And with that, I get to check off one more party/get-together on my 101 list. I guess I could technically count Mother’s Day since we hosted my side of the family that day and the birthday dinner with John’s family, but I had a bigger invite list in mind when making that one of the 101 tasks…what can I say, I love entertaining!

Anyway…on to the party!

At first, I wasn’t sure where to go with the theme for the party. I knew I didn’t want to do anything too over the top since it was the house we were showcasing, not the decorations. After a couple of weeks trying to choose something subtle, it finally came to me – a tropical theme! We live on a street named after  a tropical tree, so it seemed like a natural fit. I used subtle tropical colors in the invitations as well as the signs I made for the party. Remember the invite?

We had a sign greeting our guests at the door since we knew we wouldn’t be able to be at the door the entire party since we had guests to entertain, so we wanted to let them know they could just let themselves in and we usually caught them as they entered the kitchen.

We also had matching signs at the entrance to every room so our guests could give themselves a self-guided tour of our new place. Several people were pretty excited about the dual offices (future nurseries…in at least a year).

In the kitchen was the best part of the party – the food, of course! Sticking with the tropical theme, we served pulled pork sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, jerk chicken wings, rice with bacon, green beans and soy sauce (not sure the title of that dish…recipe came from my cousin), grilled corn and a fruit salad. For dessert, we had chewy chocolate chip cookies (a favorite of my co-homeowner – yes, my hubby), key lime bars and pineapple coconut mini  cupcakes with whipped cream frosting. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough food, but we had just the right amount! We had a few leftovers, but nothing we didn’t eat in the next day or two!

(Yes, that’s a peek at our very green kitchen…which got mixed reviews…some people loved it, some people…ahem, Mom…weren’t fans)

Unfortunately, that’s all of the pictures I took…and they were all post-party! (I know, I know, not good for scrapbook and blogging purposes, but I was just so busy with all the food that I completely forgot about the camera until everyone had left!).

I know that we enjoyed sharing our home with everyone who was able to stop by and we look forward to hosting many more parties and get-togethers in our new home (I have at least 4 more to go for my 101 task)!







#6: Run a Half-Marathon

Well, I did it! I finished a half-marathon! I wish I could say that I actually RAN it, but in all honesty, I walked about half of it. Lots of factors working against me that day, including the unusually warm weather that early in the morning, the number of hills that I DIDN’T train for, and the fact the we had moved just one week prior so life was kind of upside down! But I finished (though there were some points I wasn’t sure I was going to make it)! I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out for a couple of house after I finished and walking to the car after the race was probably pretty funny to watch (the hubby drove and took photos for me…he’s great!).

The race I decided to run was the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon that was raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. I raised a total of $215, which I thought was pretty good considering that I entered the race purely for running a half-marathon, so I didn’t really push the fundraising part of it!

We got there extra early to make sure I would have time to warm up before the race – and to make sure I was there for the 7:00 a.m. start time since it was a 30-45 minute drive from the new house.

The race started right on time and off we went. I waved to John as I headed out on the course – the last time I’d see him for over 3 hours!

I finally finished the race and collected my finishers medal – pretty proud of that sucker – and then promptly collapsed on the grass to stretch and try to prevent passing out. I was finally well enough to walk to the car and head home, though it took several hours to fully recover. Can’t you tell how I feel by how lovely I look? Ugg…not a fan of this photo!

So, I know you’re all wondering what my time was…well, not spectacular at all. Not at all what I had hoped. But I finished and I’m told that’s a big deal for a first half-marathon.  Okay, so my official time was 3:24:03, which is a 15:35 mile (yes, horrible and not at all what I was training at).

Would I do it again? If you asked me that at about 11:00 on May 1, I would have said, yeah right! But after having time to cover and reflect on the experience, yes I definitely want to do it again. I have a couple of races this fall in my sights and John might even run with me this time! Hopefully having a partner to train and run with will help make sure I’m keeping up with my training and for encouragement throughout the race course. My goal for my next race is to finish in under 3-hours, which I don’t think is unreasonable at all!

#22: 5 New Attractions – Skirball Cultural Center

I have to admit, it was bittersweet sorting and editing these photos because I don’t get to see these amazing women every day anymore and we had so many fun memories together!

This particular adventure was a trip to the Skirball Cultural Center (it’s just up the freeway a few miles from the Getty). I had driven past it many times but had never actually been there.  When Kristy told us all about this really neat, new, permanent exhibit featuring Noah’s Art, we decided to make a day trip of it to check it out.

Since admission is free on Thursdays (can’t beat that price!), we headed up in the early afternoon and walked through the rest of the Center, which features a museum about Jewish culture and traditions (very interesting, though probably not if you’re taking your little ones). When it was time for our journey to Noah’s Ark, we were seated in a room surrounded by all sorts of animals that were created completely out of household items, from keys to pasta to gloves to blinds to purses to mini disco balls…you name it! If nothing else, seeing these creations (which you’re encouraged to touch!) is worth the trip!

This particular image shows how the neck of one of the animals (I zebra, I think) was created with a whole lot of keys!

After entering the exhibit and seeing the animals, you walk down a ramp into a large room and this is the view that greets you.

The entire exhibit is interactive and each stage has something for the kids (or adults) to do! This area featured a crank conveyor belt that you could load the animals on to the Ark two-by-two and once they reached the top, they’d fall down a chute to be retrieved for the next person.

There’s also a large giraffe that you can control using the arm handles that Michelle is demonstrating so well in this photo. Sidenote: I love the expression on her face – it’s just like that of a child in total wonderment that they are actually moving the giraffe!

There are also several stations along the wall opposite the ark that are related to weather, including making rain, lightning and thunder.

Once you enter the Ark, there are two rooms. The first room we came to had a number of animal puppets, animal cages/crates that you can climb into (much better sized for people not taller than 5-feet!), and several other hands-on activities related to life on the Ark.

The second room of the Ark is where I would guess most of the kids spend their time. It’s two-stories, complete with fast-food playground-esque rope climbing areas and different ways of transporting items from the floor up to the second floor (bucket pulley system, chute, etc.).

There’s also several activities in this area on the ground level, including the dining room, complete with food and dishes, a place to “feed” the animals, and even brooms and other cleaning gear to clean up after the animals (seriously!).

The final room in the exhibit is the OTHER side of the Ark, where the story ends with the dove coming back with the olive branch and the flood waters receding. You can see the images below the dove’s wings and tail are made of white guitar picks!  I’m not sure of the original plan for the rest of this room, but when we were there, there were several activities for the kids to raise awareness for Habitat for Humanity (not sure if this part of the exhibit is permanent or not).So, if you’re in the Southern California area and are looking for a half day adventure, especially with your kids, head on up to the Skirball Cultural Center. Remember, if you go on Thursday, admission is free (and I believe parking is free every day). We went in the afternoon and there were only a handful of families there! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Who invented “popcorn” ceilings?

Whoever it was…I’m not a fan.

After spending three days spraying, scraping, spraying, scraping…move drop cloth…spraying, scraping…you get the idea, our house ceiling is FINALLY popcorn-less!

That’s the good news. We still have a long way to go to finish the ceilings before we move in. We’ll start by going from popcorn to orange peel texture for the ceiling (we would leave them smooth, but we’re not that good and there are parts of the ceilings we can’t really remove that have a slight texture to them). The plan is to do all of the texture coating with my dad on Sunday, which means we’ll be taping the entire house in plastic (again) to protect the walls and floors since we like them the way they are.

After texture coat, it’s primer, and then paint…hopefully not too many coats! Yeah, that’s kind of squeezing it close with our goal to move by next Friday! Oh, and we’re thinking of painting the walls in most of the rooms too…that may be happening after the move though.

So, I realize I haven’t given you an official “tour” before we scraped the ceilings (I have pictures, just haven’t blogged about it yet), but here’s our house sans popcorn (and of course, we have to include photos of us actually doing the work)!

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Since I haven’t officially made a list yet of all I want to do with the house during the first year we live there, this was the number 1 thing that would have been on my list, so I guess I can say that #46 is now in progress!

And sorry, we are not for hire. I’ve had my lifetime’s allowance of popcorn ceiling scraping, though I’d be more than willing to share tips if you are wanting to tackle this project in your home!

New Beginnings

I know, I know, I’ve been MIA for almost a month now. Life’s been crazy (when isn’t it?) and blogging just wasn’t something that was a major priority for me in the midst of all that was happening.

But, I should be back for good now (at least once a week!), so for starters, I thought I’d let you all know what I’ve been up to!

Many of you know that my husband and I were house hunting most of February and early March. We had an offer accepted and opened escrow on the home on March 9. Just 21 days later, March 29, we became the owners of THIS home in Ontario (about 40 minutes from where we currently live) and I was able to check off #45 on my 101 in 1001 list!

I’m sure you’ll be reading more about all of our fun adventures of being homeowners, especially in the coming weeks as we do some work to the house (we’re currently in the process of removing the AWFUL popcorn “acoustic” ceilings throughout the ENTIRE house that I’m sure were a great selling point back when the house was built!).

Some rather shocking and sad new arrived just as we closed on the house – I was being laid off. I had a little bit of notice and began the job search right away, but still haven’t found what God has for me next. Prayers for guidance, trust and peace are much appreciated, if you’re a praying type of person.

The lay off has, however, given me some time to work on a project I’ve been wanting to launch for a few months now…my own photography business!

It’s been a lot of fun building a buzz around the new business and I actually have my very first shoot TOMORROW morning! I’ve always toyed with the idea of owning my own business, especially in photography, but felt like I just didn’t have the time or good enough equipment or enough talent to be successful. But, here I am! I know it will be a lot of work, especially the first couple years, but I know it’s something I will love doing and I AM good at! (If you want to check out the site and my work, just click on the logo above or find me on Facebook.)

So, that’s what’s kept me so busy the past few weeks – and all the new things that are ahead for me and my hubby (who has been super supportive, especially of the business endeavor – he’s sort of my advertising manager)! I’ve got lots more to catch you up on, so stay tuned! You’ll be seeing a lot more of me!

#43: John & Food

You’ve probably heard that saying, “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” It couldn’t be truer than with my husband! He loves my cooking (and I love cooking, so that works out nice), especially if I surprise him with unexpected food as I have on two occasions over the past four months.

Back in October we had to get up early on Sunday morning to work the Trunk-or-Treat book at church (we usually go to church on Saturday night, so Sunday is a sleeping in day). My sweet husband let me sleep in a little longer and he got up to go to church so there would be someone at the booth before the service started. As a nice thank you, I made him an egg sandwich and brought it to church for him so he wasn’t hungry. I even packed it in a brown paper bag!

That picture is making me SO hungry! Those egg sandwiches are so good!

For a long time, John has been mentioning how much he’s been craving Chinese food for lunch. Unfortunately, there aren’t any good places to eat near this work and with only 30 minutes for lunch, there’s not really time to go anywhere anyway! So, one Friday I decided to take an extra long lunch and get Chinese take out from our favorite Chinese restaurant (they have the BEST honey shrimp…I eat them like candy!) and then drove out to his work and called him to come meet me out front. He was a bit confused at first but once he saw me and what I had for him, he was very excited!

I only wish I could eat lunch with him more often!

#17: Carve a pumpkin

Yes, Valentine’s Day was two days ago. Halloween was almost four months ago. This post is for all of you who love fall so much! 🙂

I wanted to get my pumpkin from a pumpkin patch. You know, the kind that lets you cut the pumpkin from the vine? Well, if you want to do that, I suggest going before the day before Halloween. And if you plan to take advantage of all the “extras” at the pumpkin patch, such as the corn maze or tractor/hay rides, make sure you don’t go the day after it’s been raining for a week. Lots of mud = closed attractions. Lesson learned! (At least it was just the hubby and I…so there were no disappointed kids in tow)

After visiting what we thought would be a fun pumpkin patch in southern Orange County, we ended up stopping at a farmers market to get a pumpkin. The one plus side to waiting until the day before Halloween to get a pumpkin is that they’re really cheap! The down side, is that the pickings are pretty slim.

I did manage to find a pumpkin I liked (I wanted a big round/oval one), though was a bit disappointed when I cut into it and the skin (is that what it’s called?) was almost 2-inches thick! I couldn’t figure out why, even though I had cut all the way around the top, my “lid” wouldn’t come off. Yeah, had to go another inch deeper!

Emptying the guts was pretty fun to do. We had planned to roast the seeds, but after washing them off, we put them on paper towels to dry and well…the stuck to the paper towels (again, I’m glad we’re learning all this stuff pre-kids!).

After my pumpkin was completely gut-less (difficult to tell because of the aforementioned thick skin (you can see how thick in the last photo), I then free-handed a face from the cutting kit we had purchased. It did come with stencils, but the one on the cover that I really liked, wasn’t included! Good thing I have a decent skill at drawing when I have something to look at.

Once satisfied with my drawing, it was time to carve! This was pretty uneventful and the skin wasn’t quite as thick on the sides as it was on the top, so I didn’t have quite the same problems I did cutting into the pumpkin.

And here’s the final product…on display for its entire two-night appearance!

Isn’t he cute?

#44: Family Portraits 2010

I can’t remember exactly where I heard this idea, but I love it anyway!

A great way to make sure you have up-to-date family portraits is to plan a photo shoot every year around the time of your anniversary. You can see how you and your family have changed and grown from one year to the next and if you do it in the fall, like we plan to (thanks to our October 4 wedding date), we can use the photos for our annual Christmas cards!

For 2010, however, I wanted to do a “Rock the Dress” or “Happily Ever After” photo shoot. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s similar to a “Trash the Dress” session where you wear your wedding dress and do things to “trash” it (I’ve seen things from paint to water to mud and dirt), except you don’t actually do anything to trash the dress. You just get to have the joys of wearing your wedding dress again and reliving the joy of your wedding day, while getting some more unique photos in your wedding attire, or making sure to get some photos you may have missed in the busy-ness of your wedding day. I didn’t want to kiss John before the wedding ceremony, but we were doing most of our photos before, so I gave our photography one chance to get a kissing photo…she got the shot, but when I was looking through the photos of our wedding day, I was bummed we didn’t have more photos of us kissing from that day (yes, I am stubborn!).

For our shoot, I contacted a friend from high school who is working to build her portfolio and not only did she do our photo shoot, but she also did my hair (which I TOTALLY loved!). Thanks Janette of Daneshmand Photography!

WARNING: Lots of photos ahead! I had a hard time narrowing it down! I loved so many of them and wanted to share!

One Last Look: Christmas 2010

I finished putting all of the Christmas decorations away on Sunday, and while it feels good to make a clean, fresh start in 2011, I couldn’t help but take one last look back at our Christmas 2010 (plus, I never shared much of it with you to begin with.)

The first day after Thanksgiving, we actually got ALL of our Christmas decorations put up.  Since we’re living in my sister’s garage, we had to settle for the 3-foot fake tree, and therefore only put a handful of our ornaments up.  We also put stockings for us and our three cats up and by the end of December our doorway was lined with Christmas greetings from all our family and friends (a tradition we had growing up).  I also decided this year to light a daily advent candle (we did that one year growing up). I DIY’d my own by buying a plain white taper candle and taking green and red Sharpies and marking every 1/4 in. or so.  I then took a silver Sharpie and wrote the numbers down the side.  I found a series of readings about the character of Christ to do each day, but well…it didn’t work out so well and I think we burned the candle a total of three or four times – and it took forever because it often had at least an inch and a half to burn each time!  Oh well…maybe next year I’ll finally get/make my real advent calendar and actually do it everyday!

One tradition I totally love as a collector (yes, I’ve gotten MUCH better and don’t hold on to nearly as much as I used to) is our ornament tradition.  Ever since my mom was pregnant with me (Christmas 1981), she has purchased at least one ornament for each child.  Over the years, we’ve developed quite the collection.  Once we had a place of our own and our own tree, we could take our ornament box with us and then use it to decorate our own tree so we didn’t have a bare tree the first few years, or have to purchase a lot of ornaments ourselves.  Well, ornaments have become a bit of an “obsession” for me and I probably have enough now to fill at least TWO full-size trees and the collection grew quite a bit again this year.  Just take a look below and see for yourself (I’m not sure what the deal was with snowmen this year!).

Living in Southern California and being fortunate enough to have Disney passes the past two years, we’ve sort of made it a tradition to celebrate Christmas at Disneyland, and even though my pass had expired, thanks to a college roommate/friend, John and I were still able to carry on that tradition, which includes watching the Disneyland Christmas parade, complete with marching toy soldiers, roller skating snowflakes, dancing snowmen and of course, Santa and his reindeer; riding It’s a Small World, which is all decked out for the holidays; witnessing the lighting of the castle (it’s beautiful all lit up!); and visiting Santa, Mrs. Claus and his reindeer (I shared a photo of one of them here).  We also got to see World of Color for a second time, though our “seats” weren’t as good this time around and there were a few technical difficulties AND watch the holiday fireworks from Main Street.  There’s just something extra special about Disneyland at Christmas!

Our church did something really special this Christmas, aside from celebrating the opening of our new auditorium that seats almost double of what the old auditorium was able to!  Each ministry built and decorated a “playhouse” to be part of the Christmas Village that occupied the courtyard for most of December.  Each week they had candy, cookies and goodies to hand out at each house, along with fun activities for the kids!  It was so much fun to be a part of this season at our church this year!  And of course, I have to share photos of the houses…the Surf Shack from SCG Kids; Fire Station from the Executive Team; Blacksmith from our “Open Bible” group; Music Shop from Communications; Southern Plantation from Connect Ministries; English Tutor from Commit Ministries; Big Red Barn from Contribute Ministries; and the Ski Chalet from Student Ministries.  I’ve heard rumors the houses will be back again next year and there may even be a few additions!

What is Christmas season without baking?  We got somewhat of a late start on this part of Christmas, but we made up for it with the amount of cookies we made (we STILL have a few stragglers left).  This little project also counts toward my 101 task of baking 30 different kinds of cookies/goodies.  I can mark 5 different things off my list: Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Snowballs, Peppermint Bark, Rice Krispie Treats, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies (these are highly addictive!).  My sister also made Treasure cookies, which were a huge hit with my in-laws!

I spent the first weekend after Thanksgiving shopping, and actually purchased almost all of our gifts for our families before the first full week of December was over!  Unfortunately, presents sat for the rest of December and finally got wrapped and put under the tree on the 23rd (so much for not procrastinating!).  Although the gifts spent little time in their wrapping, the recipients seemed to enjoy and appreciate their gifts as you can see in the photos below.

Here’s the run-down of what we got for everyone this year (it’s not necessarily what’s pictured above):

  • John’s Dad: Short-sleve button shirt
  • John’s Step-Mom: Red robe from Macy’s
  • John’s Brother: Famous t-shirt
  • John’s Step-Sister: Movie tickets, candy and popcorn
  • John’s Mom: Walmart gift card (his mom and sisters live in Pennsylvania, so easy to ship gifts are awesome!)
  • John’s Sister #1: Walmart gift card
  • John’s Sister #2: iTunes gift card
  • My Mom: Silpat; Stainless Steel Wire Whisk and Ungame for her stocking
  • My Dad: New business cards (they were UV coated and included his website address); Updated website (which is still not finished…I need to get on that!)
  • My Sister: Wire whisk for her Kitchen-Aid mixer
  • My Brother: Fox t-shirt
  • My Brother’s Girlfriend: Zebra Snuggie

And finally…what I got John:

  • Robe (it was MUCH needed!)
  • Jacket (he actually got this a few weeks before Christmas when he was trying to put on a jacket that wasn’t even close to fitting!)
  • Custom-made calendar (inspired by Young House Love’s)
  • Lens filters for his camera (UV, Polarizing, 4 Macro Filters and a filter that’s supposed to be for use with fluorescent lights)
  • 12 Dates of 2011 (I found this on another blog…can’t find it now…but I’ll write a separate post about it later)

I just love watching everyone open their gifts and to see the excitement on their faces when they see what we got for them!

So, now on to what I got…

And I’ll just go through the photos here (though this collage is not at all-inclusive): First, you can see me grinning ear to ear as I proudly show off my present from my parents – a SILHOUETTE SD!!!!!!  I am so excited to use this fun little machine, though I’m still trying to figure out an actual project to give it its first run!

I also got a pink/purple fleece throw from John’s step-sister; Wii Just Dance 2 and Toy Story 3 and some pajamas and cash from John’s parents; Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred and walking weights from my brother and his girlfriend; Wii Toy Story Mania and a watch from John; The One-Year Bible and an orange/lemon/whatever zester lined my stocking this year along with the beautiful scarf my mom made; a rain running jacket from my sister; slippers from…ME (hey, I really needed some, so I got them while after-Christmas shopping…along with a set of pajamas and a few other yet-to-be-purchased items); and of course, you can’t forget the mountain of candy…I think we have enough to last us until NEXT Christmas!

If you’re still with me, congrats, you’re almost there!  We can’t forget one of the most important things about Christmas…the celebrations with family and friends, and the food you eat when you’re with them!

This year we had a fun celebration with our Bible study group (so far there are four adorable little kids…hopefully more coming in the next few years!). We spent Christmas Eve with John’s family, Christmas Day with my family and a delayed “Christmas Eve” with my Dad’s extended family (we usually gather on December 24…in fact, I think this is the first year we didn’t do it on that date!).  The photos I’ve included of the food are from our Christmas morning breakfast with my family and the delicious grilled lobster dinner we had that night…YUM!

Well, you made it to the end of this VERY long Christmas post (sorry it’s so long, but thanks for reading – or at least skimming)!  It’s with a sad heart we say goodbye to one of the best season’s of the year!  I wanted to be able to enjoy Christmas this year, but December just FLEW by and here we are, a few days in to January already!  We did have a lot of fun, and I had some time off work to just relax and get some things checked off my “to-do” list!

I hope your holiday celebrations brought you as much joy and love as ours did…so until next Day-After Thanksgiving, so long Christmas!