Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Highlights, Part One

Holiday Highlights
Part One: Family

I'm currently enjoying my holiday vacation in snowy Colorado. I was lucky enough to get time off work to spend over 10 days here! My favorite part of coming home is seeing family and friends. While the holidays always go fast and feel frenzied, it's so nice to reconnect with loved ones.
I don't come from a large family and we are all spread across the country. My "Colorado family" consists of my mom, brother and myself. Like most families, over the years we've had quite a few Christmas traditions. As of late, the tradition is: dinner on Christmas Eve, then open presents and on Christmas day head to the ski slopes!
In keeping with tradition, on Christmas Eve we had a nice dinner, which was followed by the opening of presents! The next morning we woke up, packed the car and headed to Keystone.

Since there was little to no traffic, we made it to Keystone in no time. The closer we got, the more wind gusts we encountered. As we were pulling into the parking lot my mom and I exchanged the exact same look...BRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!
Since my brother has a ski pass (and is a TFBA) he was determined to take a few runs. My mom and I would have paid for a full day lift ticket so we opted not to waste money and hit Starbucks instead! It was warm, cozy and still really nice to be IN the mountains watching the snow fall.
It only took 6 very quick runs for my brothers toes and cheeks to freeze. After he downed a hot beverage and thawed out, we snapped a "we were here" photo and were on our way back to Denver!
While the day didn't turn out quite like we'd planned, we all had a great time just being together...even if it was in the car! The beauty of being part of a small family is having flexibility to do whatever we want on holidays. Most of the time we follow traditions and other times, we make up new skiing at Starbucks!
Our Christmas day concluded with a long standing tradition, dinner at the Armbruster family house. Since the last time I've been to their Christmas dinner a new baby (now 16 months old) has joined the group. The food is always delicious (turkey and ranch mashed potatoes) and it's fun to catch up with family friends we've known forever.
Last, but not least, it's been nice to see this furry face, Romy.

I am grateful for my wonderful little family, the traditions we continue and new ones we create every year! I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas as well!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sticky Situation

I usually try to steer clear of sticky situations. In this case, I can't get enough!! My cute, crafty friend Debbie introduced me to this glue a few months ago.

Not wanting to be wasteful, I worked on using up the rest of my 'other glue.' While it did the job, it tended to ripple the paper and take forever to dry.

In preparation for some homemade holiday gifts and cards, I decided it was time to try something new. I could not be happier with my purchase because this stuff is amazing. It's super adhesive AND it dries quickly. Even if you aren't an avid crafter, try this glue! I purchased mine at Target, but I'm sure you can find it at most craft and office supply stores.

Speaking of sticky situations, it's worth noting that you ALWAYS want to make sure to clear the tip of the glue before restarting a project. I apparently forgot this kindergarten tip last night when I squeezed and squeezed the bottle until the top popped off and glue was everywhere. On my hands, my pants, the floor, the table and drenched the tiny piece of paper I was trying to glue. Lesson (re)learned.

Lentil Soup

There's nothing better than walking in the door after a long day and being welcomed home by the smell of a delicious crock pot creation. Growing up I can remember my mom using the crock pot quite a bit. Since owning my own crock pot I've sadly only used it a handful of times. Well, that's going to change!

Last week, a particularly rainy and cold week, I thought it would be good to try making soup in my crock pot. Not only did I enjoy the smells as I walked in the door, I loved that dinner was already done! It was also nice to have plenty of healthy leftovers to take for lunch.

Since this was my first try at making soup, I wanted to do something fool proof. Turns out this was completely fool proof and actually really good. I chopped all the vegetables the night before. In the morning I added the seasonings and liquids. Turned on the crock pot as I walked out the door and vvwwaa laaaaa, Lentil Soup when I arrived home.

Try it for yourself...

Lentil Soup
1 c. dry lentils
1 c. chopped carrot
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 c. chicken broth or veggie broth
1 1/2 c. water1 (14 1/2 oz) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes

Rinse lentils. In crock pot place lentils, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir in broth, water and undrained tomatoes. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 12 hours or on high heat setting for 5 to 6 hours. Discard bay leaf. Makes 6 servings.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rachel's Mediterranean Tacos

Here is a tasty meal that was shared with me by my friend Rachel. She said it was easy and Biggest Loser-ish (aka healthy). She wasn't kidding! In the spirit of the Biggest Loser finale, thought I'd share the love. Please enjoy Rachel's healthy creation!

Rachel's Mediterranean Tacos
Red onion
Kalamata Olives
Feta Cheese

1. Prepare the chicken (grill or bake) with some simple seasonings.
2. Meanwhile, c
hop up the cilantro, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and olives. Place each ingredient in separate bowls or on a platter, including the feta cheese.
3. Once the chicken is cooked and slightly cooled, chop it up.
4. Take pitas and slice in half. Fill with humus and the med taco items!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Social Media Revolution

Check out this video on the Social Media Revolution. Catchy music and lots of statistics. Being a user of several media outlets, I found it very interesting.

The funniest part= what happens in Vegas.... so true!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do you want to go?

This is Rocky. He ALWAYS wants to go - outside, for a car ride, and even to the moon! He's pictured here on a ride in the car. Tough life, eh? He was so comfortable in the front seat that my brother and I opted for the back seats.

Growing up we had a Samoyed, just like Rocky. Her name was Schnee (German for snow). Samoyeds are known for their fluffy white fur, LOTS of energy and their ability to talk. The two in my life have always responded best to the question "do you want to go?" To egg them on my dad always adds "do you want to the moon?" To this day it still makes me laugh!

I really enjoyed spending time with Rocky (and my dad) on our recent trip to Florida. Rocky still has his spunky personality but his hips are a little shaky these days. I was looking forward to taking Rocky for walks but quickly realized Rocky is slowing down. He sniffs every blade of grass. It took me 20 minutes to get around a small block.

Rocky is 90 now (in dog years) which was the same age that Schnee left our lives. When I realized that, the sniffing every blade of grass made a lot more sense. Rocky is an old man. He's taking time to smell the (roses) dirt and grass. I was sure to give him extra love, just in case. When it is his time to go, I hope he goes to the moon!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

JNelly Designs

My dear friend Janelle (aka JNelly) has taken her artistic talent and turned it into a business, JNelly Designs! She encorporates her artist eye with her love of card making.

If you are looking for unique holiday cards, personalized stationary or card packs please check out her website or Etsy shop.

Here are some of my favorites:

I love...

my new boots!

I found out about these from my friend Jess. She got them in black but I LOVE mine in cognac. I wore them a few times in the last week, including two times with lots of walking and they're very comfortable. I also wore them with a dress for Thanksgiving - adorable. Now I want some skinny jeans to wear them with :)

Fashion + function + STEAL OF A DEAL! How can a girl resist? Check them out here.

But wait, there's shipping on orders over $35!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dear Govenator

I'm writing to call you out on your bad parking. Not so much the way you park your car, but the way you skip out of parking tickets. It seems to be running in your family too. While I agree that being Governor should have perks, I don't think this is one of them. I'm thinking more along the lines of a VIP parking space. Not so much parking illegally in a red zone.

The citizens of California are helping keep the state a float by paying our outrageously expensive parking tickets* and higher state taxes, I think you should too. Next time you are parking in a red zone and the parking meter comes to give you a ticket, take it like a man.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh and feel free to park anywhere, it will be a FREE DAY!


* Parking ticket for an expired meter in the City of Oakland is $70.

Read the full story here.
This is my favorite part: The governor spent the first part of the segment talking about his commitment to promoting green cars (a category which definitely does not include Porsches), and became noticeably hesitant when Leno asked him how long it's been since he's gotten a speeding ticket. "Not in the last six years," Schwarzenegger said, which is the amount of time he's been governor. Good thing Jay didn't ask about parking tickets!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

High. Low.

Last night I was scheduled to babysit R and E, but their mom A stayed in not feeling well. With the decline of babysitting was an offer of dinner. Not only did I get a delicious home cooked meal, I had the pleasure of sitting down with them. They'd mostly finished up dinner but I'd arrived just in time for high lights/low lights of the day. I immediately knew what they were talking about. You see I've played this many times before. My twinner taught me; you go around in a circle and each person says the high of their day, and the low of their day. The twist to the version I played last night was that they "stack the deck" and do two highs and only one low. I really liked that!

In the moment I quickly thought of my highs and my low - great lunchtime work out class, getting to see pictures of this cutie and unfortunately I missed a meeting with my boss, ugh. Looking back, the highest high of my Tuesday was dinner with them playing high/low. It was fun to remember our positives, sympathize with the negatives and most importantly have a quick chance to recap the day.

The perspective of the kids was nice to hear. R's low was not getting to wear her Uggs to school, I can completely sympathize because I wish I could wear mine everyday. E's low was when his mom turned off the lights to conserve energy. I could not sympathize on this one but had a good laugh. I told him some might think of being energy conscious as a positive!

I challenge you too take a moment or two at the end of today to recap your highs and lows. It's amazing how many positives you can find, even on a bad day. Oh and definitely don't forget to stack your deck!

Note: In true twinner fashion, Kaci and I were blogging about high low at THE SAME TIME without knowing it. And that my friends is why we are twinners!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Puppy love

Meet Reese Wiedner.
He's the newest addition to the Weidner clan.

I haven't met him in person but just seeing pictures (specifically this one) melts. my. heart.

I can't wait to get a dog, some day. Just on Sunday Brian and I talked about dogs. He asked what I'd get if I could pick any puppy and I said Golden Retriever, hands down. Later that day I talked with Marisa who was ironically on her way to pick up this cutie.

Perhaps just having puppy on the brain is why I'm so in love with this picture. In reality, when we get a dog we'd try to adopt. There are so many cute, lovable dogs in need of a good home. I'd definitely keep my eyes peeled for a Golden Retriever; hoping a cutie like Reese would come running my way.

Hope this adorable photo brightens your day like it did mine!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

They're baaaccckkkkkk

Cuties are in season! Picked up my first sack last night; enjoying one as we speak.

Happy snacking!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paper Dolls

Last week while babysitting the cutest kids in Piedmont, I had the pleasure of making paper dolls. Not just ordinary paper dolls, but Paper Source paper dolls!
Per our usual routine, once I put E (3 yr old boy) to bed, R (almost 7 yr old) and I have about 45 mins of girl time. We usually play a game, read books or I braid her hair. This time she said, "I have an idea!" I'm thinking...checkers? Monopoly? A book I won't pronounce the character names correctly?
And then she busts out this awesome paper dolls kit...

I was beyond excited as she showed me the dolls she'd already made, the variety of fun paper you can use to create the perfect outfit and accessories, and finally the easy to use stencils.
R and I made twin dolls. It was so fun to see her in creativity in action. She even suggested we use pencil to trace instead of pen, easier to erase. Girl after my own perfectionist heart!

If you are looking for an interactive gift for a young girl in your life, check these out. It's a gift that's fun for everyone! Orrr maybe just paper lovers/kids-at-heart like myself :)
*photos from Paper Source website

Goals are Good

I'm following in the foot steps of my bestie who inspired me by setting monthly goals on her blog. I always have a running list of goals in my head for the day, week and month. Most of the time the daily and weekly goals are accomplished. Monthly goals, not as easily. Since I've been in a bit of a blogging slump, this feels like a good step to getting back into it. Hoping this will help me be accountable to these goals since, you know, it's out here in the blogosphere :)

Here goes, November Goals:

1. Be a bargain hunter - Research and find a good deal on: holiday plan ticket, new tires for car and ski helmets. I'm cheating a tiny bit on this first one because its almost complete. But we are 8 days into the month so maybe I'm right on target. Phew! However, being the start of the holiday season I'm continuing to remind myself to search for a bargain, not just make impulse purchases.

2. Run Like a Girl - Sign-up for a half marathon and begin training. It's been a while since I've trained for something. I miss it, a lot. Since moving to CA I've run a few 5Ks, even a few all by myself. I'm dedicated to working out at the gym. Well, it's time to set the bar higher. Every Super Bowl Sunday Kaiser holds the KP Half Marathon and 5K. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday - run 13.1 miles and then celebrate with food, drink and fun commercials. I'm one week into "training" and so far, so good. My long term goal is to run the San Francisco Nike Women's Half Marathon. Their theme is "Run Like a Girl." I can soo do that!

3. Be professional - update resume and LinkedIn profile. Ok, so I am totally professional. However, I recently took a look at my resume and found it was in desperate need of updating and revamping. Never know when a great opportunity could come my way. I'd hate to be stressed about updating my resume AND crafting the perfect cover letter.
I've heard from reputable sources (friends who work for Career Builder ) that LinkedIn is the latest and greatest in professional networking. My profile leaves a lot to be desired. Like a photo for starters and also my professional experience, education and all that jazz.

4. Floss - Everyday for one month. I'm reminded of this every time I visit the dentist. It's been noted. On my bathroom mirror to be exact. Hoping that one month straight will get me in the habit of doing it on a regular basis throughout the year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Its what’s for dinner

I rarely buy beef (no pun intended). You’ll most often find chicken or ground turkey in my freezer as sources of protein. Lately I’ve been making quite a few vegetarian meals, mostly for easy and affordability, which has challenged me to find other forms of protein such as nuts, beans and quinoa. But every now and then I enjoy a healthy serving of beef.

I recently flipped through my recipes for some inspiration and found two recipes for Beef Stir Fry. Oddly they are from the same magazine, same month even, with a few differences. I pulled the best parts of each recipe to create my own version of Beef Stir Fry. I really liked the simplicity and flavor of the marinade. There was just enough vegetables to make it good and healthy. And like a true carnivore, I enjoyed the beef!

Beef Stir Fry
Prep/cook time: 45 mins Serves: 4

1 pound flank steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons oil
¾ pound broccoli, cut into florets.
1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup matchstick carrots
1 (8 ounce) package fresh sugar snap peas
4 cups cooked brown rice

1. Combine beef, soy sauce, garlic and black pepper; toss well. Cover and refrigerate 30 means.
2. Meanwhile, cook rice according to package instructions.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture to skillet; cook 3 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Transfer beef mixture to a bowl.
4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon on in pan over medium-high heat. Add broccoli; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add bell peppers; cook 2 mins, stirring constantly. Add carrots and sugar snap peas; cook 2 mins. Return beef mixture to pan and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.


*Original recipes from Cooking Light magazine, July 2009.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

two years

today is my anniversary of moving to california. two years ago i packed up my car and left the only home i'd ever known to try life on the west coast. my wonderful friend ashlee was kind enough to fly to denver and make the roadtrip with me. she even loaded up her i-pod with fun music so we could sing and dance along the way. unfortunately on that fateful day i was sick as a dog. we didn't even make it to ft collins and i already had to pull over. nerves? possibly. 24 hour bug? definitely! thank goodness for ashlee or i might have never made it here. i feel like the road trip to california was a precursor for my first year living here - an adventure no doubt, fighting (home) sickness and learning to enjoy the journey not matter what the conditions.

i told myself to try living here for one year. just 365 days. some days that felt easy and others were a struggle. my one year anniversary was a big accomplishment. i'm so proud to say that i made it not only one year but TWO. in honor of my two year anniversary i decided to take time to write down some of my accomplishments and adventures.

Best drivers license photo EVER. i even look tan!

Planned 3 weddings in the bay area, all for people I did not know before moving here.

Learned to rely on public transportation.

Survived 9 months living with complete strangers.

Moved into my own place for the first time. I feel so fortunate to live in such a beautiful neighborhood next to an awesome family. Its the best of both worlds - living alone but knowing there is someone close by, just in case.

Maintained a solid long distance (90 miles) relationship! Learned to live weekends to the fullest and appreciate solo time during the weeks. Also learned that you can talk to a lot of people on the phone when suck in traffic on a Friday afternoon.

Realized I am so incredibly lucky to have the love and support of my friends and family. From the mail, phone calls and lots of fun visits, there is no doubt in my mind that I am very loved!

Become more environmentally friendly. Recycle everything i can and even have my own compost bin!

Learned way more than I ever thought I wanted to know about grant making.

Know that people aren't joking when they call our area 'downtown Kaiser'.

Continued to volunteer, through work, for organizations that I'm passionate about.

Have a deeper understanding and appreciation for my company.


Participated in Bay to Breakers. Played in Golden Gate Park.

Rode the ferry from Oakland - San Francisco and Sausalito - San Francisco, several times.

Skied in Lake Tahoe.* Visited Yosemite and hike Half Dome.
*AND skied down this double black run, Gunbarrel, attempting to be an expert.

Attended several baseball games. Ran the bases at Giant's stadium. Attended Oktoberfest, California Beer Fest and Tour de Fat.

Celebrated New Years, birthdays, happy hours and Wine Wednesdays* all while trying new bars and restaurants.
*tradition created by Ashlee, Rachel and I in an effort to 'celebrate life' by getting together weekly to gossip, drink wine and often talk about our home sweet home, Colorado.

Visited Point Reyes and saw a whale swimming off the coast! Found this GREAT place in Crissy Fields to view the bridge. Horrible view, isn't it?

Drove from San Fran to San Luis Obisbo on Highway 1. They are not joking when they say 60 miles of curvy road ahead...

Visited wine country - Napa, Sonoma, Amador County and Paso Robles.
Can throw out buzz words like a true wino, but don't think I really taste the difference in micro climates.

Watched the sunset on the Pacific Ocean. Swam in the freezing Pacific Ocean.

Visited Monterrey Bay Aquarium, did the 17 mile drive and even saw a sea otter in real life!

Drove Ashlee's scooter. Got my first road bike. Rode all through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Also learned to use clip-in pedals!

Enjoyed every single beautiful view and had fun doing so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paper Iris

While browsing (dreaming about) new bedding on the Amy Butler website, I stumbled upon several free craft patterns. Among sewing patterns and ideas, I found a 'paper crafts' section. I thought the Paper Iris was fun and would make a pretty shabby-chic card.
Here are two that I made...

Although the pink one didn't photo well, it was my favorite!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

I received a variation of this recipe from a co-worker over a year ago. Since then I've made it a dozen or more times, each time tweaking it a tad. I've made it for myself to enjoy for dinner and lunch leftovers. I've made it for friends. Took it to a co-worker after she had a baby. Every time it gets rave reviews. I always have to chuckle to myself a little bit because it is so easy and requires little-to-no cooking skills. Since it was shared with me, I'd like to continue is my version of Chicken Pot Pie. Enjoy!

Chelle's Chicken Pot Pie
prep/cook time: 45 mins serves 4

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (9 inch) frozen prepared pie crusts, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. In medium bowl, combine potato soup, mixed vegetables, chicken, milk, thyme and black pepper. Mix well.
3. Spoon filling into bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, and crimp edges to seal. Slit top crust.
4. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New one-man-band on the block

I have a thing for one-man-bands. Brian brought it my attention and even made me a one-man-bands mixed cd for my birthday. It's true, most of my favorite music involves just one man and a guitar. John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Ray LaMontagne, Eric Hutchinson and Brett Dennen top my current list. Well, I have news for you guys...there's a new one-man-band on the block!

Over the weekend while enjoying a beautiful San Francisco day at
Tour de Fat, our ears were treated to Sean Hayes. Having never heard of him and considering we were at a festival in the park, I was delightfully surprised! He reminds me of a mix between Brett Dennen and Jason Mraz. By the end of his set, I was just as eager as the hippie lawn dancers for an encore. Best of all, he's from San Francisco meaning he'll be playing in concert here again soon. Wednesday, Oct 28th to be exact.

Here he is performing his goofy and very catchy song, Alabama Chicken. Give your ears a treat and take a listen.

To learn more about Sean Hayes, check out his website! Music available on Itunes.

She's Crafty

Check out these adorable cards made by my crafty mom!

I love this paper. I love the way she used a flower punch I've had for years in a way I never thought of using it. I love that she used glitter paint on the center of the flowers, coordinating perfectly with the glitter on the paper.

Most of all I LOVE that I learned from and continue to be inspired by her craftiness.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I found out about this cool event from my friend and co-worker who is lucky enough to be one of the film screeners! I attended last year for the first time and loved it. Not only do you get to watch unique, inspiring and heart warming films, you are also supporting women film makers and The Breast Cancer Fund.

I plan to attend the premiere again this year on October 1 in San Francisco. Care to join me?
If you're not in the bay area, I encourage you to attend an event in your area!