Archive for December, 2008

Real or Fake?

My question is in regards to something socially acceptable to touch and find out…your Christmas Tree!  Every year I consider purchasing an artificial Christmas Tree and have yet to bring myself to do it.  I suppose once you go artificial you never go back.  The week of Thankgiving every year Eric and I have a conversation that goes something like this:

Eric: “So, do you want to get a Christmas Tree this year?”

Tara: “Yes!  Oh wait, maybe we shouldn’t since we’ll be out of town for Thanksgiving and Christmas, by the time we put it up it will be time to take it down, so maybe it’s not worth the investment.”

Eric: “Ok, so no tree?”

Tara: “I don’t know.  Maybe I should just buy an artificial tree after Christmas this year, but I really love the smell of a Christmas Tree.  I don’t know.”

Eric: “Then let’s get a tree.”

Tara: “No, we don’t need it, I’ll be ok without it”. 

Eric: “Are you sure? I’m ok either way, just tell me what you want to do”.

The past 3 years I have talked myself out of a tree, while Eric has patiently sat through my indecisiveness.  I have supplemented with table top ornament “trees” which I hang our favorite ornaments on, and last year I found the most perfect “Christmas Tree scent” candle to burn.  (Yankee Candle Balsam & Cedar). 

This year we went through the same conversation, but I was more on the fiscally conservative side, since I’m trying to monitor my discretionary spending while still in the midst of a job hunt.  I told Eric we will get a tree if I can find one for $20 or less.  I figured maybe I would be decorating a tree shaped rosemary plant, but instead a local grocery stores had 6ft firs for $19.99!  Although I feel guilty that I didn’t pay more and support a local fundraiser for my tree, I love that we put a tree up this year.  In the mornings when I came downstairs I can smell the strong aroma.  Aaah.  And being home much more this Advent season, I feel like I’m maximizing the enjoyment of our investment.

I still wrestle with the “should I go artificial” question.  Over time it would pay for itself, it seems less wasteful than growing a tree just to put in our living room for a month, but my number one temptation is not worrying about fallen pine needles.  (I’m trying to hold back from neurotically vacuuming every night).  Although I do have my tree scented candle,  for me, there is still something I enjoy about a live tree.  I’m glad we invested in our beautiful tree this year, but if I ever stay home for Christmas and can hit the Boxing Day sales, I might finally “go fake”.

Our beautiful tree, next to my first homemade bow!

Our beautiful tree, next to my first homemade bow!


December 23, 2008 at 10:52 am 3 comments

We Aren’t in Texas Anymore

Tomorrow kicks off the beginning of the end…the end of the 2008 NCAA College Football season that is.  I feel like I missed out on half the season this year with the chaos associated with our move.  Similar to the parties and feasts of Mardi Gras prior to the season of lent, we gorge ourselves on the Bowl Season before we fast from football until the Fall arrives again.  (Or until the pre-season rankings come out and we discuss how meaningless pre-season rankings really are).

Our Football Feast would not be complete without queso.  Ah, queso, one of the gifts Texas blessed me with.  As you can imagine from previous posts, my queso recipe is not all that complex.  I’m not melting and mixing a perfect blend of three cheeses with grilled jalapenos, bell peppers and onions as some of my native Texan friends do.  I’m of the Velveeta block of cheese + one can of Ro-tel camp. 

To my distress, and after circling the canned tomato, pasta, canned veggies and Hispanic food sections multiple times, I found that *gasp* my local Safeway doesn’t stock Ro-tel!  What!  This can’t be!  This was the one time I thought I might actually say something when the checkout person asks “Did you find everything you needed today?”  Why do they ask this question to begin with?  Am I really going to hold up the line behind me to say “no, I couldn’t find Ro-tel.  Can you help me now that you have already scanned half my groceries?”  Of course not, but I sure did think about it.  I finally found diced tomatoes with “zesty jalapenos” which will have to do.  I’ll have to add onions and some seasoning, I’m almost back to making it from scratch!  Thank goodness they carry the Velveeta block of “cheese product” but it was in the refrigerated cheese cooler, don’t they know that Velveeta is so processed it only needs to be refrigerated AFTER opening?!

When my brother lived in Baton Rouge we used to have him bring us packages of the good gumbo mix when we saw him at Christmas, he might need to start bringing Ro-tel with him if I don’t find it locally, or maybe I’ll discover the secret to “California Queso”.

December 19, 2008 at 11:00 am 4 comments

One of the reasons I love California…

…is we are surrounded by Movie/TV Stars!  (Also one of the reasons I hate California…everyone thinks they ARE a movie star).

Last night we attended the Capitol Christmas Tree lighting.  We didn’t even stay for the headliner Rick Springfield, but I still had an awesome time.   The pre-show was great with some powerful gospel singing, then the evening continued with a few exciting surprises in store.  Before announcing Gov. Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, the opening act led the audience in a “Cali” – “Fornia” chant.  It was hysterical, I would ask for the same thing if I was Governor!  Arnold and Maria then arrived, it was my first in-person glimpse of them since moving to California.  Yeah! 

Seeing the Gov. & Maria was enough for me, but then they announced the emcee for the evening…Mario Lopez!  Yes, you got it, the actor who played A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell.  I used to LOVE that show!  I’m not going to lie, when he walked on stage I gleefully shouted “I love California!”.  My excitement continued when the prayer was given by Rev. Faith Whitmore, pastor at St. Mark’s UMC, one of the churches we have visited.  Go Methodists! 

Fun evening…now the job search continues!

December 10, 2008 at 11:32 am 1 comment

Just put down the fork, and walk away…

On Thanksgiving in 1996, we were in Nana & Papa’s backyard when my brother Justin said something to me I will never forget.  “Tara, it’s the Freshman fifteen, not the Freshman twenty!”  It was the reality check I needed.  That first semester in college I guess I took “all you can eat” a little too much to heart at Bruff Cafeteria, and it took a 14yr old to call me on it.

It seems as though the Sacramento five (ok, maybe eight) has crept up on me in just two months!  Maybe it was that my weight dropped a bit with my last job because of the stress and really not just having time to eat.  Or maybe it’s I seem to only know how to cook comfort food.  Or maybe it’s because in the afternoon while job searching I start snacking on the leftover Halloween candy.  Or maybe it’s having an incredible bakery just steps from my front door, but somehow, even with running more regularly, my pants are a little more snug these days.  I know I could gain a few pounds and still be a healthy weight, but it’s not about what the scale says, it’s how I feel.  I’m tired of feeling overly stuffed going to bed every night and popping tums like they are candy.  I’m not hungry, just feel like snacking because it tastes good.  This isn’t me. 

So now that I have admitted my eating habits have strayed, and even though it’s the holiday grazing season, I will work towards returning to my normal, not eating constantly, self!  (Or start snacking on celery instead of Twix). 🙂

December 5, 2008 at 6:13 am 1 comment

Thanksgiving Holiday Adventures

This year for Thanksgiving we decided to take a roadtrip to visit Eric’s relatives in Washington, starting with his brother’s family in Spokane.  14hrs later, Jasmine, Eric and I arrived!  We enjoyed the beautiful views and landscape in Northern California and Oregon during our trip, also enjoyed a few books on CD including Lou Holtz’s book Wins, Losses and Lessons which kept us laughing and entertained along the way!
Mt. Shasta, CA

Mt. Shasta, CA

We kicked off the weekend running a Turkey Trot with Eric’s brother Michael and two of his girls: Chelsea (10yrs) and Katie (8yrs).  We had a blast, but I will say the starting temperature (25degrees) was vastly different from our Trot in Naples last year!

Tara, Eric, Chelsea, Katie & Michael at Spokane 2008 Turkey Trot

Tara, Eric, Chelsea, Katie & Michael at Spokane 2008 Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving Day brought a family gathering and the winter’s and Jasmine’ first snow.  I think Jasmine was a bit confused at why it was so wet and cold on her paws, but she was more intrigued with what was up with these kids showering her with attention and begging to take her for walks!  Katie and Audrey (4yrs) were a great help with entertaining and caring for Jasmine.

Audrey walking Jasmine

Audrey walking Jasmine

The next few days brought quality hanging out time with the nieces, including American Idol Wii and roller skating!  It’s been a while, but we quickly found our skating legs and was probably the only time I didn’t feel like an awkward teenager during the couples skate. (just had to keep hubby from flinging me around the corners) 

Aunt Tara and Katie doing the roller skate limbo!

Aunt Tara and Katie doing the roller skate limbo!

We ended our trip with a visit to Eric’s Dad in Dayton, WA.  I had my first experience with scoping in a new rifle (i.e. setting up the target, standing WAY over to the side and reporting results).  Jasmine enjoyed running around the farm chasing the chickens and checking out the horses.  Ginger (Eric’s step-mother) sent us home with some of her fresh eggs (yum!), canned fruit and venison.  Honestly, it took me learning more about how standard store-bought meat is raised/fed/injected with growth hormones, etc for me to even consider eating venison.  I’m open to trying anything at least once, and this culinary adventure will be in Eric’s hands. 

Chuck (Eric's Dad), Eric and Chaz (Eric's brother) on Cahill

Chuck (Eric's Dad), Eric and Chaz (Eric's brother) on Cahill.

All in all, it was a fun trip!

December 3, 2008 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment