I’m 37 years of age for just a few scant hours. 38 years ago tomorrow morning, I introduced myself to the world at 6:01 a.m. (I’ve always been an early riser.)

As you may recall from from previous posts, I have rules where birthdays are concerned. Here’s a refresher:

    1. Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday.
    2. Thou shalt never lie about thine age.
    3. Thou shalt celebrate thy birthday as frequently as possible.
    4. Thou shalt stretch thy birthday celebration out as long as humanly possible.
    5. Thou shalt have ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins and the dinner of thy choosing; the order of which you partake of these goodies is up to the birthday person.
    6. Thou shalt never turn down presents.

I have two sort of/sometimes rules:

    1. Thou shalt try to travel on or around thy birthday.
    2. Thou shalt attend a baseball game in celebration of thy birthday.

For the first time in many years, I’m planning to violate most of my rules this year. The first os the most painful… I’m working and going to school tomorrow. Ghastly, I tell you! Had I not quit the horrible company, I would’ve called in sick and stayed the night at Ethan and Adri’s tonight. I still would’ve gone to class (I’m committed to holding my perfect attendance streak). But since I’ve only been with the new office for a week, I’m going in tomorrow. Shameful. I won’t be violating Rule #2. I’ll be 38 tomorrow. I’ve earned every single second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year of my life. They’re all mine, for better or worse. Rule #3 will be frugally observed. Rule #4 may last two weeks. Embarrassing. Rule #5 is a wash. I have considered picking up a cake for myself, but that’s just not the same. Rule #6… I accepted flowers today (I’ll circle back to this later). As for the “sort of/sometimes” rules. They’re both a total bust. All in all, it’s a very unusual birthday this year.

Auntie Beth and the LittlesI did celebrate today with Julie, Ethan, Adri, and the littles. Ever try to coordinate smiles for a photo involving a three-year-old and a one-year-old? Yeah. Good luck with that. Ethan, Adri, and the kids drove up from Mission Viejo, Julie drove in from Brentwood, and I drove down from Pasadena. We ended up eating about a mile down the street from our childhood home. It was fun!

Adri had to drive separately as she had a memorial service she had to attend this morning so we all beat her to the restaurant. When she arrived, she was carrying roses and a card they had for me. The card is hilarious. Even better, Adri ran across the card eight months ago–eight months ago!–and has been holding it for my birthday. It screamed my name when she read it and I have to concur. The card reads:

FRONT: “Nothing could ever stop me from wishing you a happy bir-”

INSIDE: “Oh look, a squirrel!”

The LittlesThe LittlesThe LittlesConsidering my affinity for squirrel jokes and comments, it’s incredibly fitting and made me laugh hard. She also had a bouquet of Double Delight roses. My favorite. I don’t know that she knows they’re my favorite, but they are. They’re white roses with red around the edges of each petal. Ultra feminine and pretty. My papa gave me a Double Delight rose bush when I was a little kid and I suppose that’s the biggest reason why I love them, but the fact that they’re beautiful strengthens the draw. I put them in a glass milk bottle when I arrived home and I’ve decided to take them to work and put them on my desk since I’m not home long enough each day to enjoy them here. I’d rather stare at them at my desk, wouldn’t you?

And yes, those are photos of the littles before Auntie Beth scooped up a niece and hugged a nephew for some pictures. I’ll get more than a few hours with them next weekend since I’ll stay over at their house on Saturday night to spend Easter with them on Sunday. (Oh, and Henrik is wearing the “Auntie Beth shoes that match her” that he got for his birthday… yes, Auntie Beth has the exact same pattern on one pair of her Vans.)

Alright, folks… I’m exhausted! I had a very busy weekend (I didn’t even get to yesterday’s activities) and a loaded weekend in the kitchen (I’ll have to expound on that later as well) and I have another busy week ahead of me. I’ll enjoy my birthday as much as possible, but I still maintain it’s a bit unbirthdayish…

Food as Love

I arrived safely in Colorado on Tuesday afternoon. My flight was legitimately hilarious! The flight crew could appear in a comedy club and effectively bring the house down. I have never heard such funny stuff coming over a plane’s PA. I’m writing a compliment letter to Southwest bragging on the flight crew because they deserve the kudos.

Yesterday, my mama made me her chicken enchiladas and chilis and cheese. Oh my. Words cannot properly express just how much I love those two dishes! My mom’s been having some health problems over the past two weeks and I was on the phone with my folks last week when Dad asked what I’d like Mom to make for me while I was home. First thing out of my mouth was “chicken enchiladas”… no hesitation. I can make them, but I don’t. The people in my tummy were exceptionally happy!

When I awoke today, I found six inches of snow already on the ground and more falling from heaven. AWESOME! I was hoping against hope for snow! And I got it! Fantastic! I was (and am) stoked, to say the least… the snowy weather compelled me to cook. So cook I did.

I prepared beef burgundy (boeuf bourguignon), baked potatoes, cottage cheese bread, and brownies with a ganache. It was way too much food for my parents and I so I invited Debbie, Andy, Ruth, Abby, and Lucy to dindins.

For me, food is an expression of love. And I absolutely love to cook for those whom I love. I love cooking for people I’ve never met or mere acquaintances, but that’s no comparison to the joy I derive from cooking for people in my life. I enjoy it immensely. The beef burgundy proved to be very easy to prepare and unbelievably delicious (thank you, America’s Test Kitchen!). The cottage cheese bread is the recipe Mom has made for years. I know, I know… it sounds repulsive. No way, Jose. It’s fabulous. The bread is perfect for serving with soups and stews. Should I ever have a restaurant, I’d serve it. And people would eat it and love it! The brownies are my recipe from class… complete with the ganache. They didn’t turn out quite as well as they should’ve became for some reason Mom turned off the oven while they were baking. I couldn’t figure out why they were taking so long to bake… turns out it was because there was no 350° F heat in that oven. <sigh> So they were a bit gooeyer (gooeier? gooier?) than to be expected, but tasty nonetheless.

But everything was made with love. And lots of it.

It was great to see Debbie. I have missed her incredibly. We try to talk on the phone regularly, but that’s not the same as sharing space. This is true of all relationships of value.

So Mom cooked for me with love and I cooked for my folks and friends with love as well. That’s the best part of food, I think.

P.S. I love me some Marvel movies! I’m watching “Thor: The Dark World” for the first time and the one-liners from Loki and Darcy are so witty. So very, very witty. I am cracking up! Alright… leaving now. Bye!

Smokin’ Hot

I’m the one who’s smokin’ hot, but we’ll get to that in a minute…

You can pick yourself up off of the floor now. Three posts in as many days. What is the world coming to? Pull yourself together, man! I just have some honest to goodness free time that is allowing me the luxury of typing up a blogpost. Or three. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about you during the busy days, okay?

Okay… so I got my hair trimmed today and the results are nothing short of stunning. I really am a natural blonde (I’ve got the photos dating back to birth to prove it), but what most people don’t realize is that most of the natural blonde population still pays to have color done on their hair. Why?! Because, in my case, dishwater blonde or dirty blonde–whatever you want to call it–is dull. Highlights and/or lowlights add dimension to the hair, that’s all. I usually get highlights. Mario decided to actually darken my hair today. Believe it or not, it’s very close to my natural color. I shouldn’t have much of a root check as this grows out because it’s that close. And the man did some incredible trim work and shaping of my coif. It’s stunning. And smokin’ hot.

There’s only one problem with that, though. I’m not dating anyone and didn’t have plans with any friends this evening. What a waste of fantastic hair! Never you mind, though. I put on a light coat of make-up (flat powder, blush, toner, and lip gloss), threw on an attractive ensemble of clothes, and took myself to dinner at Cheesecake Factory.

“Beth, table for one!”

That’s right. I flew solo. With my iPad. It’s remarkably relaxing to take oneself out to dinner and just sit and read or people watch or both.

I splurged and ordered the most blissful raspberry lemonade, muddled by the bartender himself. Absolutely sublime. I had some bread, but not all of the bread. And I ordered their Crispy Chicken Costoletta. The lemon flavor played off of the breaded chicken cutlet nicely; however, the lemon sauce itself wasn’t a texture I liked with the chicken. It made the crunch get a bit soggy. Had it been a gravy and the cutlet been schnitzel that would’ve been fine. But it wasn’t and it wasn’t. Get it? I consumed one-third of the chicken and one-half of the mashed potatoes. I brought the rest home to reheat later. I did eat all of the asparagus because it’s green, good for me, and I like the stuff! I also ordered a piece of cheesecake to go, a treat for getting all of my laundry and vacuuming done.

While it doesn’t bother me in the least to sit by myself in a restaurant, I do find the looks on some faces to be interesting. There will be a man or woman who sees me dining alone or being led to my table all by my li’l ol’ self and the look on their face says, “Huh? How can she dine alone? I don’t get it!” What’s not to get? I’m not dating a guy and therefore don’t have a date with whom to dine… and I didn’t have plans with friends or family so I wouldn’t be joining anyone I adore for this evening’s activities. I don’t do this often, but every once in a while I like to get dolled up and enjoy the fact that I’m lookin’ that good and take myself out to dinner if there isn’t someone available to take me or go with. This is one of those single person conundrums. Thankfully for me, I’m confident and independent enough to just go to dinner on my own. And it was a delightful night out.

I hope your evening was as pleasant as mine. Now if you don’t mind, I must excuse myself to read for church.

P.S. We’re still rockin’ and rollin’ in these parts. I was down in the O.C. for my hair yesterday and was stopped at a red light when the 4.1 quake hit. It moved my car quite impressively. Granted, I was this close to the epicenter. But still…

Update to the Update


Things I forgot:

First, one of the brothers has requested vanilla-infused Crown Royal be added to the six existing infusions that are currently ongoing. I’m thinking I’ll pick up a bottle tomorrow and then chop up the vanilla beans for the moonshine rum as well as Crown. Because, why not?

Second, I didn’t feel the preshock (3.6), but I did feel the earthquake that lasted approximately a minute and registered as either a 5.1 or a 5.3 (they haven’t decided for sure and for certain yet). I was standing in the kitchen and leaning for something when it hit so it actually knocked me off balance. Welcome to California where we shake, rattle, and roll… 20 aftershocks so far. They (the only “they” that matters is Dr. Lucy and CalTech’s USGS nerds) say we’re starting to resume our “normal” SoCal shaking… there’s been a drought of earthquakes in recent years, but this place generally moves and shakes.

Third, I really need to finish my novel. Why? Because I have a fantastic title for a new one…

Fourth, I’m a little perturbed I can’t watch the Dodgers game because they signed the most ridiculous television deal known to man. Zero games on open air (even though we’re the second largest baseball market in the country) and only on Time Warner Cable… I have DirecTV because my apartment complex has a contractual agreement so it’s my only choice. Fail, Dodgers. FAIL!

Ah! They just showed the clip from the Dodgers game with Vin noting the quake. Awesome! I love that man. I want to be adopted as one of his grandkids.

Fifth, I made oatmeal for dinner and sweetened it with some of my experimental vanilla-infused honey. Oh. My. Gosh. “Phenomenal” seems inadequate. It was very, very, VERY tasty!

I think that’s everything I meant to say earlier. And didn’t. It happens. (Well, I didn’t forget the earthquake stuff, it just got added to the list because, well, it happened.)


Oh, wow…

I practically danced out of the worst office I’ve ever had the misfortune of working in because… I’m done! Hallelujah! Now I have a week off of work before starting the new job on April 7. Even better, I aced my finals on Wednesday and have my evenings free until April 7, as well.

Earlier this week, I was so excited about my impending freedom that I forked over eighty bucks to move up my flight home by a day. I’m flying out Tuesday afternoon instead of 0-dark-30 on Wednesday. I’ll be in Colorado through late Sunday. Yeah! (Is it too much to hope for some snow while I’m there?)

This week hasn’t been superb for weight loss, but I still lost a whole pound. Works for me. Every little bit counts, right? Ha! If I feel compelled, I can go to the gym while I’m home. I’ll have the time, after all. More importantly, I have plans with the girls for a Ronald Star Day, hanging out at Debbie’s on Saturday, and family dinner on Friday night. I also have in a request for my mom’s enchiladas. Mmmm… you may think your mama’s enchiladas are the best, but I really do love my mom’s the most!

I talked to my folks today and found out my mom finished my quilt. And it really is my quilt. It’s California king in size and the pattern is called God’s Eye. It’s blue and gold with the patterns leaning toward sun, moon, and stars. It started as a throw and ended up as a Cal-king. Totally serious. After piecing the entire top, I pinned together the backing, batting, and top, and she’s been doing the actual “quilting” or top stitching. I can do it, but it drives me bananas to do it by machine because I’m not as precise as I’d like. Mom is a master quilter so she agreed to do it for me so I could maintain what’s left of my sanity. But she told me today that it’s finished. I had planned to bring it out here, but I think I’ll leave it in Colorado under her supervision. It’ll be safe and sound and I don’t have to find a place to store it.

Last night and tonight I’ve had lofty plans. I’ve been catching up on my television watching. And loving every minute! Lazing in my pajamas while doing laundry. Tomorrow I’m getting my hair trimmed, washing my car, and depositing my paycheck at the bank. Yeah! Fun, fun, fun. Sunday church is on the docket and I’m hoping to do very little of note on Monday, too. I should have all of my Spring cleaning done before I take off on Tuesday, though, and that makes me excited! I do want to have something to show for my week off of work.

So there you have it, folks. I’m free and loving it!


Last Sunday I headed down to my brother’s house for pedicures with my lovely sis-in-law and to cook dinner for the fam (Ethan blew out his knee, remember?). I walked in the door and my niece was standing next to her dad. She looks at me and starts yelling, “Mama! Dada! Mama!” Really?! Look, child, I’m not even walking toward you, okay? Both Ethan and I looked at her and said, “You’re fine.”

About fifteen minutes later, Adri was putting the small fry to bed and Ethan was studying so it was just baby girl and I in the living room. She walks over and holds up a book… “Boo? Boo?” I asked her if she wanted me to read it. “Yes!” was her answer. Clear as day and accompanied by a very emphatic head nod. So I picked up the little bit and put her in my lap and we read the book. She then asked for more so I told her to go get another book. Wash, rinse, repeat. We did this for five or six books. The little faker. She’s decided Auntie Beth isn’t a portent of doom after all, she just kicks up a fuss when I walk in the door. That’s all. She’s hilarious. She’s also calling my sister and I “Naynay” or “Awnie”… both are an attempt at “auntie”… works for me.

After Adri and I came back from our pedicures and the littles were up from their naps, Henrik and I set about making dinner. It was only almond-crusted chicken with steamed broccoli and broiled asparagus, but we had a ball. We made a HUGE mess because I set up a dredging station on the table. The small fry was responsible for dredging in the flour so it might’ve ended up on the table, the floor, the chair, and the aunt. Then there was the moment he dropped a floured chicken cutlet into the egg dish, slopping raw egg everywhere. That’s fine, though. We had a ball and everything could be cleaned up. Dinner was a huge success. And I prepared enough to take some home for dinners this past week.

I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to lose eight pounds in the past few weeks. For that reason, I decided to prepare more chicken this week. It really is delicious so I don’t mind eating it some more. Besides, I don’t actually have time to cook dinner during the week. I have to prepare my food on the weekend so I can simply reheat it in the evenings. And I don’t want too much food in the fridge because I’m flying home a week from Wednesday… YEAH!

Speaking of, I contacted the girls and suggested a Ronald Star Day on the Thursday or Friday that I’m home. It’s a go, though I don’t yet know which day, and I’m looking forward to seeing them! I’m also looking forward to seeing Debbie, my aunt, my folks, and the other brother and sis-in-law. I’ll be home five days and it should be marvelous!

Oh… hang on a sec… I have to change movies.

Okay. I’m back.

Yesterday was a long, but good, day. I drove down to Costa Mesa to see my friend Brooklynn. Remember her? She’s my coworker from seven years ago that I flew out to visit in August. She was pregnant with twins and I came out to attend her baby shower. Well, I went down yesterday to meet Wyatt and Austin. So stinkin’ cute! All smiles and happy to let me hold them and talk to them. We had a fabulous five-hour visit. I also took their baby quilts to them. I only do baby quilts for people who matter to me. I know that sounds callous and cold, but it’s true. I don’t have a ton of friends so I make an effort to spoil the ones I have. And she’s definitely worth the spoiling! I’m hoping to see her again over the next few months. (I’d say something more frequently than that, but she’s the mother of twins and I’m working and attending school, both full time.)

Then I drove 2.5 hours to Oxnard for my cousin’s fortieth birthday party only to get lost and not arrive. It didn’t help that she didn’t put her area code on the invite. Here’s the deal… throughout most of the country there isn’t a large number of area codes on the phone numbers. For example, there are four in Colorado (303, 719, 720, and 970). California is an exception to that rule. It has eighteen. Shoot, when I was a kid, my area code was 213, then 310, then 562. And we didn’t move. I’ve also lived in 323, 626, 714, and 909. I have friends in 619, 760, 951, 949, 818, 661, 805, and 707. Oh, only one of those is in NorCal and that isn’t all of the area codes from SoCal. So now you can see why not having Mandy’s area code is a bigger challenge. I first called a number that has changed. Then one for a water district. Then one that didn’t have a name attached to it… so I left a message. Two actually. I’m pretty sure someone thinks a crazy woman called them. (I’m not worried. I know I’m sane and that’s all that matters.) Then I tried a fourth and the same thing happened. I never made it to her birthday party, but we’re going to try to get together in a few weeks and visit. She’s the cousin closest to me in age. She’s two years and one month my elder.

All I have to say is that I get an A for effort yesterday evening. I might’ve picked up In-N-Out when I got back to Pasadena at 9:00 p.m. What can I say? I was starving!

So I’ve discovered a really useful coping mechanism is taking things little by little, bit by bit, minute by minute. Silly, but true. Working forty hours, going to school twenty hours, and being in traffic ten–all between Monday and Friday–means I don’t look too far ahead. I can’t. If I do, I get stressed. So I don’t. Simple as that.

However, it looks like part of my schedule will be easing up. So will the atrocious work situation. Remember that job I got a call on last week? The one for the company you’ve probably never heard of, but that I know? Well, I did a phone screening on my commute to work Tuesday morning. It went brilliantly. It was supposed to last approximately twenty-five minutes… it lasted sixty-five. At the conclusion, the gentleman told me he was forwarding my information to the manager of the Glendale office with a recommendation to speak with me. He thought I might receive a call within a couple of days. Try ten o’clock later that same morning. She and I played phone tag and finally connected later that afternoon. We had a delightful (no sarcasm) conversation and then scheduled an interview for Friday afternoon.

I arrived at 4:30 p.m. and left at 6:00 p.m. (don’t worry, my instructor knew I’d be late to class… he told me not to come until 7:00 p.m.). With an unofficial job offer (only HR can extend the offer). She did ask me how short of a notice I need to provide to my present employer. I told her I generally shoot for a two-week notice. She asked if I’d be willing to do a one-week notice. She wants me to work a desk for six to eight weeks to get used to their computer systems and then I’d be the supervisor. Okay. Ten minute drive to work and a promotion. I’m in. With a one-week notice. I don’t know the exact pay yet, but it’ll be at or around my present pay. That much I know. Woohoo! But with my short commute and the difference in my gas bill, that’s basically a raise.

So I’m only dragging my butt out to Calabasas for another week. YEAH! (I might be doing the Snoopy Dance about now.) Possibly Monday and Tuesday of next week, but Tuesday is as far as that will go since I’m flying home, as previously mentioned. (Now I’m doing a full-fledged Snoopy Dance over here.) Then it’s off to better things.

And back to the kitchen two weeks from Monday. YEAH!!!

Well, my lovelies… I wish I could write more often, but the aforementioned crazy person schedule prohibits time for fun. But since it pays the bills and gets me where I want to go with my career, I really can’t complain too much.

Road Got Curvy… Again.

Lombard StreetEver driven down Lombard Street in San Francisco?

I have. It’s curvy.

Of course, saying, “It’s curvy,” with this kind of nonchalance is like mentioning in passing that Kobe Bryant has hops. Or that Meryl Streep can act. Duh!

Sometimes I feel like my life resembles Lombard, winding around as it sends me through hairpin turns that will shave years off of my life. (And yes, I’ve been down Lombard. Ethan was driving Julie’s late (it died saving her life) Honda Passport and I was in the back seat–he successfully navigated his way down the street, dodging cars, pedestrians, homes, and planters along the way.)

As for what has brought on this particular wave of contemplation… well… I got a call from headhunter #2 regarding the job he had put my name in for a few weeks ago. I figured by their lack of response they weren’t interested. Apparently, I’m wrong. Carlos (headhunter #2) and I discussed my options and I’m supposed to crunch numbers this weekend and regroup with him on Monday. Basically, what is the lowest pay I’m willing to accept? Once that’s established, the company and I will enter into the dance. Yeah. Oh, wait… that wasn’t very energetic.

The position is a heckuva lot closer, next to a Metro station (I live next to a Metro station, that means I could ride the train to work instead of driving in traffic and would be spending $36.00 a month on a rail card (thanks to my full-time student status) instead of a couple hundred bucks on gas), and very similar to what I’m doing now!

Now add this to the equation: I got out of class early last evening and decided to listen to a voice mail from Wednesday. (This is normal. I even ignore voice mails from my most favorite people!) I applied for a job with an independent adjusting company back on February 6. They’re responding rather late, but they’d like to set up a phone interview. YES, PLEASE! This job should be work-at-home which means no more 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls, working in my pajamas, and the ability to get my homework done outside of my weekend hours. (I miss the latter a lot!)

So, the title of this post comes from one of the very first claims I ever worked. Yes, I remember it. It landed on my desk and the accident description was:

Drank seven beers and two shots of tequila. Road got curvy. V1 [Vehicle #1] hit guardrail.

I can still hear my coworker, Jose, as we all got a laugh out of this accident description, “I’ll bet the road got curvy! Even if it was straight!” Now, the curvy road that is my life is not in the least affected by alcohol consumption. I may can it with vanilla to make extract, but I don’t like the stuff so I don’t imbibe. My life just tends to wind its way hither and to. I’d say that I wish I could have a straight, uncomplicated stretch for a couple of years running, but the truth is I’d get bored. And we don’t want that!

Basically, I have no idea if I’ll be staying with the present employer, moving to work in downtown, or working from the comfort of my couch and pajamas. Until it becomes clear, I’ll keep working away at the most horrendous files I’ve ever seen in my life, trying to straighten them out. As we often say in this biz, I’ll take it one claim at a time.

On a different front, I’ll soon be returning to the kitchen at school. Thank heavens, the academic term is almost over. Don’t get me wrong, I love my math class. (No sarcasm, I really do!) But speech is complete and total drudgery. We did learn the instructor is not being asked back. So at least I can be assured our efforts have not been in vain. We have saved future classes from complete torture. (I have to tell myself something to make me feel better about what I’ve been subjected to!) They have no idea the bullet they’ve dodged. I’m happy to report my GPA is safe. I’ll remain on the President’s List. Yeah! But I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and learn new things.

Well, I have lofty plans for my weekend… a massage and a car wash today. Church and then down to the brother’s tomorrow. Ethan blew out his knee last Sunday… no bueno! I’m headed down to get pedicures with my sis-in-law and cook dinner so she can have a night off. I’m sure my nephew will happily help out with the kitchen stuff. He’s a hoot!