10 things I LOVE – 08.12.15

1. Cooking (and of course eating) French Food. I do it so much, you’d think I know a thing or two by now, but alas… I roughly (and in great panic) follow instructions and try not to screw it up. I don’t think I do ANY French Chefs proud, but it’s still my favorite food cook – and to serve at dinners. This is my latest book purchase – the author/restauranteur was the advisor for “Ratatouille”, my favorite Disney/Pixar cartoon ;-). I made a number of recipes (or ATTEMPTED to make…) for B’s 17th bday family dinner coming up.


2. Puerto Vallarta. I’m so crazy missing Mexico right now! Warm night air, taquitos, Corona’s, hot sunshine, swimming with zee fishes… Ahhhhh. My last visit was out-in-nowhere Mayan Riviera in an all-inclusive – not, in the end, my cup of tea. I miss the (touristy) Mexican CITY life of Puerto Vallarta. I still remember this one restaurant recommended during my second visit by locals (and safe for tourists) : Pipis – guacamole made to order right at your table. YUM.

3. Wrapping Presents! I love wrapping the treasures I’ve found and stacking all them up under the tree! I never want to wait to hand them out, which is probably why we start opening gifts around the 20th… I’m always just a little bit sad coming home at the end of Christmas day to that poor, lonely, cold (and long dead) tree.


4. My beautiful two-toned kitchen. When we were ready to FINALLY install a real live kitchen after 4 years of reno’s, I was so excited. But the photo I’d remembered loving of a two-tone kitchen was long lost. I took a chance and ordered it as I still saw it in my head, and voila! A beautiful kitchen. I love that the dark lower cabinets and floors feel grounding, while the white uppers and ceiling feel light and airy. I love that I installed 30″ deep cabinets rather than 24″. I love the (indestructible) white countertops. I love it. Love it. Which is good, because I’m sure I spend more time here than my own bed.

dsc_8000(this is a really bad photo on a dark, cloudy day… I esp love the dark floors/lower cabinets at night – so calming, while the white uppers bounce around a little of the lighting.)

5. Bags. No, not the ones under my eyes – the bright, shiny or funky models on my arm meant to DISTRACT you from the ones under my eyes… Until there is ONE bag to go with EVERY outfit, day or night, there can never be too many bags in my closet! I took a pic of some of my faves. I bet you can’t guess which cost $4.99 and which cost, well, significantly more! I’m saving to hit next years Black Friday at Nordstroms for some new models. (Yes, some of my goals in life are that simple).


6. Jesus. He rocks. It’s almost His birthday. (Luke 2:10, 11 – I am bringing you some good news… Today your Savior was born”).

7. A’s sparkly eyes. Her whole entire body lights up when she smiles, right through her eyes. (see blog)


8. Bellevue Mall (in Washington) – a LEGO store, W&S and FOUR kinds of Pottery Barn!! What is not to love?? I ventured down for Black Friday (and here and here) just for that Lego Store alone…

9. Pioneer Woman – visual and emotional feast! My mom got me hooked onto her blog, and I always venture over when I’m tired of writing and am in need of a sit’n’read break – it’s really the only one I read. I’ve faithfully kept up to reading her “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” love story and have made a few of her recipes already. Check her out: The Pioneer Woman

10. Laptops – I’m on my… third Toshiba in 6+ years. I guess that maybe doesn’t sell it well ;-), but so far they’ve been pretty good taking all the crap I pile on ’em. I especially love my big screen and extra number pad on this one! HOW did people LIVE before laptops!? Being able to carry my computer anywhere, means I can plug in, work, google, write ANYWHERE (I often pack up and go work from a nearby Starbucks). It also means I leave a messy trail of work, papers, crap EVERYWHERE. ahhh, well, can’t have it all.

dsc_7998(another iffy camera moment… notice all the smudgy fingerprints on my screen?? and Boo in the background sneaking a play w/ Tt’s Lego’s! Ai-ya!)

10 things I LOVE – 08.12.01

There are a lotta things I love in life… Here are the next 10!
(For the first 10, see blog)

1. My Family. Awwww! Hubby and Kids are just swell. Something else I love? Family Photos. Of all of us. Together. I’m taking them all the time, but we also take one every year to put into our Christmas cards.


2. Road Trips. Even if they are just down to Seattle and back! I love just getting into a car and going, wherever, whenever. I love the freedom of a car to stop when I danged well please. And, so, I must also love my roomy Toyota Sienna…

3. Lists. Hand-written, day-timered, texted, emailed – oooh, I love all kinds of lists. Countdowns, things to do, 10-year plans (yes, I did, but honestly – 10 years?) (yaaa, I actually made one to follow the “big events” of the next 20…). If ever I need to sum up my life, it’ll be a series of detailed lists with accompanying spreadsheets, with a few photos thrown in.

4. My PHONE. Samsung BlackJack. I swear I can text at least 50wpm on this baby. HOW did people survive before being able to get all their emails, text and voice messages ALL on their phone!?! I have no idea. It must have been a measly existence. BUT, we bought B the iPhone for her 17th bday… I think I’ll be upgrading soon… And A just got a similar one to mine that flips so your screen doesn’t get so scratched… hmmm.


5. Swapmeets. What a great way to score cheap Lego! And Bionicles! And Hot Wheels! Sure, you have to drive all the way to Tim-buck-too, spending countless dollars in gas… But seriously – $0.25 Hot Wheels – come on! Who wouldn’t grab that?
I find the Greater Vancouver ones at this website: http://kidsvancouver.com/index_swapmeets.htm

6. Exposure. South Granville is one of THE places I like to shop – it’s close, in the summers we walk all the way down, and it’s got some funky stuff. B, A and I always find at least one thing to sneak onto the Visa when Hubby isn’t looking. My last purchase there was two great tops.

7. RICEWORKS chips!! I’m soooo in my happy place when I eat these. It lists the fat/calories per 10 chips… guess I have to multiply by 10 for one of my servings – yikes. No longer such a “healthy choice” when you totally gorge on them.


8. Pear and Brown Sugar crepes. *sigh*. Nothing beats a morning down at Granville Island, starting with a pear and brown sugar crepe and a latte in the food court, heading to Oyama (see the last “10 things” list) to buy “supplies” and heading home to prepare for a dinner party.

9. Boo’s eyelashes. I just love ’em. (see blog)


10. Christmas Trees!! We have ours up by or on DEC 1st every year. The lights have been up since early November! What can I say? I love to be festive. I love making occasions, even the small ones, special. Every year we “theme” our Christmas – blue/silver, red/silver, green/silver (I’m not big on gold), and we pick the decorations to go with our wrapping paper so it’s all “coordinating”.


Black Friday – The DAY

SO, I decided to venture out this year for Black Friday… WHAT WAS I THINKING?? AM I CRAZY??

6:00 pm Thanksgiving Day:
Fed everyone, packed the car and left the house with tunes a’ roarin’! (level 34 – must have the car to myself for once. bring it on, Kanye). Almost messed our whole schedule up big – was suddenly realizing that because I can’t find my wallet right now, I had no photo ID to show w/ my Visa while shopping up a STORM. Then it hit me – SHIIIooooooT! I’d dang near forgotten my Passport. Grabbed it and went.

pic-0054(the pics are all taken from my camera – don’t expect great things!)

6:20 pm Thanksgiving Day:
Enjoying my tunes and tidying the car a bit at a stoplight, and found my wallet. And with it the aquarium pass Hubby needed for tomorrow. Turn around, go back home. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

6:30 pm Thanksgiving Day:
Really? Traffic was only half as bad going back home. Dropped off card to Hubby, turned around and headed back out to Grampa’s. Turned stereo to 45 for Pink (she can ROCK!).


7:00 pm Thanksgiving Day:
At Grampa’s… Ready for my 4-hr preparatory nap.

10:00 pm Thanksgiving Day:
… And sleep continues to elude me… Grama and Grampa have cable. I’ve been drawn into it’s big, dark black hole of brainlessness… can’t… turn… it… off…

11:45 pm Thanksgiving Day:
Nope. No sleep. Grampa is up from his nap, so we grab our detailed printed itineraries of stores to hit and off we go! WOOT WOOT!

12:45 am Shopping Day:
Easy breezy border lineup – 15 minutes max. We’re both wide eyed and bushy tailed, chatting the whole way along.

1:40 am Shopping Day:
Just dropped Grampa off at a Best Buy lineup with a chair and blankie (yippee for GPS) – it was already lined up around the corner. I’m sure he’ll have made 6 friends by the time I return. Passed at least 6 cops pulling over speeders¬† – ALL BC plates.


1:50 am Shopping Day:
The parking at the Outlets is TOTAL CHAOS!! OHMYGOSH! Apparently the stores actually opened at 10pm. Some stores have 2hr lineups (Coach) and others none at all. I’ve just lined up for Banana Republic – I’d thought there was 40% off everything – the signs say 50%, so I’m happy to line up. Cold, but not rainy.


2:25am Shopping Day:
AND I”M IN!! Woot Woot! I was just happy to leave the ppl in lineup behind… If I had to listen to one more story about the ‘F’n Hawaiian mafia’, I was gonna wack myself.

2:45am Shopping Day:
And even the lineup to pay is ok in this store – so far this is great! I’m happy to have some things off my list – Jeans for me + Hubby, a new skirt and a new top. Dang, the mafioso is behind me again…¬† Starbucks is right next door, so that’ll be my only other stop here before heading to Grampa’s lineup.


2:52am Shopping Day:
Dang. Could have saved another 15% for a total of 65% if I’d picked up my VIP booklet first. Off I go to pick it up, then return everything and start again since I have lots of time. At least I’d printed my Outlet vouchers!


3:30am Shopping Day:
Now in a big lineup to pee. Starbucks had a 45min lineup (then I assume 15 mins to get your coffee!), so n’mind. There’s one beside Best Buy where I left Grampa.

3:45am Shopping Day:
Found Grampa in BB lineup – yep, he’s made all kinds of friends. 1+ hours to go. Some people are leaving – the laptops on for $400 were out about 30 ppl in front of us. They keep coming down the line w/ TV’s and BB credit cards. At some point Jamba Juice guys dressed like bananas bring smoothies, but everyone’s already freezin’!


4:50am Shopping Day:
FRIG it’s cold out here!!!!!
10 more minutes.

5:20am Shopping Day:
Froze our butts off for next to nothin’. Other than the major doorbusters, which we weren’t there for, nothing much was on sale. Grampa found a few video games and a really short lineup (the ppl with vouchers for doorbusters had a HUGE long lineup – haha).

5:40am Shopping Day:
After a Starbucks drive thru for sustenance, went to a Wal-Mart. Went straight into the “pay” lineup while Grampa shopped, then switched, then STILL had an hour to go in the lineup. Nothing much even at that. Lots of $2 movies, but we already had them, otherwise, just the really crappy quality stuff was on sale. I passed on a digital frame I’d been looking for – too cheap. Many ppl had two buggys full of crap.


7:30am Shopping Day:
Arrived at Bellevue Mall to check out the Lego store. I’d thought the Mall was open at 6am, but apparently not until 8am. There’s already a lineup at Lego store – it’s the only lineup in the Mall. And there is only a guarantee of 10% off as they’re using some lame-o system of scratch cards at the till where you can get 10% or MAAAAYBE 20% or 50% off your purchase. Ai-ya.


8:30am Shopping Day:
Done w/ Bellevue Mall – got my two Lego purchases and the Lego Indiana video game for Wii. OF COURSE at only 10% off. All in all, it’s still cheaper than at home, even if I have to pay duty. The rest of the mall is fairly quiet, a nice change from the other stores we’ve been to. Apparently the anchor stores opened at 5am.


9:12am Shopping Day:
Grampa got a wee nap while I shopped Lego store, so now he’s refreshed and driving, and I’m kinda just hanging on at this point. Now I’ve lost him s’where in Fry’s… I found a cool video game the girls will LOVE for $20 – has Wii beach vball on it. I’ve been texting them updates all night and they’re super excited to play it when I get home.


10:30am Shopping Day:
We’re somewhere near… an airport. Looking for a Costco with gas. I think I’ll take a wee nap while Grampa shops – I’m all shopped out. Trying to keep under $400 for both of us so we don’t have to pay duty. $200 per person in the car seems to be their limit for saying “Ok, go through”. We’ll really test it – we’re at $392 by my calc’s.

12:30pm Shopping Day:
Ahhhh, feel a bit better! 2hr nap. We’re on the way home – with a flashing “tire” light… Ai-ya. It’s been POURING rain on the way through to Bellingham – we’re SO LUCKY it didn’t rain in our lineups last night.


So, for my troubles, I found 5 items at Banana, a Battleship game for $10US, about $160C (+ 2 taxes) worth of Lego for $120C (+ 1 tax), 2 really cool Wii games for $50US total… Not basement bargains by any stretch. But, the experience and time with Grampa? Priceless.


2:00pm Shopping Day:
10 minute border lineup, and no duty to pay! Whew! It’s been a good day.

Black Friday – the ANTI-ANTICIPATION

I’m no longer fully anticipatory! My guns are back on safety, no more a’blazin.

Out of my list of about 5 (albeit very specific) things, I can find not a whisper of any of them on the Black Friday Ads and lists. That is not to say they won’t be there, or that I won’t find them on sale in some manner, but they definately won’t be on for $1! Dang!

At least we don’t have to leave at 7pm the night before anymore (unless we really wanna!) – now around 2 or 3am will do (cough, sigh, snore) as the first stop (Seattle Premium Outlets) opens at midnight with “the big sales” running until 6am. The rest of the stores don’t open until 5am or 6am, and the most we’ll line up for any of ’em is 2 hrs, so we’re looking at getting a few hours of sleep prior to our run – what a treat! We may just hit Bellingham after all.

Apparently the LEGO store is only having a “scratch” system of 10%, 20% or 50% off – you can guess they’ll mostly have just 10% coupons, so there isn’t much point in that, especially if I can find Legos at Target or Wal-Mart for 25% off. BUT, if we’re feeling up to it, we may go further south than Bellingham, and if we do, I’ll try for Bellevue Mall (our closest Lego store)…

Well, although I’m not as soooooo excited, I’m a little relieved. I do like sleep, almost as much as a really good sale. We’ll see how we do on “the DAY”.

Black Friday – the ANTICIPATION

SO, I’ve decided to venture out this year for Black Friday… WHAT AM I THINKING?? AM I CRAZY!? (see, I can say it too).

Curiosity got the better of this cat, and I suckered Grampa into heading down with me, while Hubby is going to take a day off work to hang w/ the boys.

We are pre-shopping the “specials” on websites such as http://www.theblackfriday.com/ and www.blackfriday.info. A serious amount of research goes into this once-a-year shot at “THE” sale day, and apparently you really only get one kick at the DOORBUSTER can, so we have to be really be prepared. Have a plan of attack. Come out with guns a’blazing. Ok, this probably isn’t good talk for going through border control – “And, do you have any weapons with you?” “OH YES! Our guns are a’blazing! We have a plan of attack!”. I can see how they might view that as a bit of a national concern…

Being Canad’ian, every time I mention going down I’m met with odd looks of wonder, so for anyone reading who doesn’t know, in the US they SUPPOSEDLY have a special day (mere HOURS after their turkeys have been digested) where 99% of Americans feel they should suddenly be out shopping for Christmas gifts. Big, fat, juicy (ya, we’ll see…) sales are posted in every store. Everything for a Dolla’! Well, not quite. Anyhow, many shops even open at Midnight to get some real traffic happening, others open at 6am. Apparently this is the day that most stores go from being in the “red” (in debt) to “black” (making a profit).

With all the chat about a “down” market and slow economy, I figured there should be one or two decent sales out there this year. I had a few pricey things to grab this year for Christmas, so I figured why not check it out? It all might elude us, and we may come home empty handed, but I’m always up for an adventure.

I’ve made my list, and am checking it twice – thrice – frice? – against the Black Friday Ads. With the dollar not being so hot as last year, and the potential to have to pay duty, I have to look for prices at least 40 – 45% less than the CDN sticker price.

Wish us all kinds of good “US Thanksgiving” luck! (Dear Lord, we are thankful, in advance, for good border lineups…). Ya, we’ll let ya know how it goes…

2 more days to go and counting!

10 things I LOVE – 08.11.15

1. Vij’s. My g’friend PT first brought me to Vij’s restaurant (Indian Fusion) about 10 (or more) years ago, and it’s still in my top 5 for sure. It gets a top pick because I’m SOOOO craving the lamb popsicles in curry cream right now. http://www.vijs.ca I even have the cookbook!

2. EGGNOG LATTES. Starbucks, I love you. November 13th. Eggnog. Here. I can’t wait.

my favorite "mug"

3. Freedman’s. I’ve decided to start collecting shoes. All my shoes are either from Shoe Warehouse or Freedmans, and most people can’t tell which are from where. http://www.freedmanshoes.com/. My best summer purchase below… Next up – a new pair of them knee-high black leather boots!

momma's shoe

4. My new necklace. Husband and the girls got this necklace for me for my birthday – I love it. Ok, so it’s not a perfectly clear pic – it’s silver twisted sticks in a circle. It’s a pendant, just a glass necklace, or a place to stick some beads. I originally put a different color bead in for each person in our family. Find the artist here: http://www.catherineweitzman.com/. Also sold at Blue Ruby or Hill’s in Kerrisdale.

glass locket

5. JAMESBABY !! I love James Bond. He’s just aaawweesooomeee. AND he’s here the DAY AFTER EGGNOG LATTES! Connery, Moore, Brosnan and now Craig (what “other” bonds?!). Amazing action, “romance” (I don’t really think you can call it that, but…), secret spy stuff – ahhhhh, what more could you ask for. November 14th! (And apparently Bond 23 is slated for 2010!!! I’ll have to add that to my “Movies” list!!).


6. Oyama Sausage down on Granville Island has YUM of all kinds. Duck confit for my salads, sausages for the BBQ’s in the summer or pastas in the winter, salamis for the boys, pates for parties and CHEeeesssee. I’ve just ordered 3 of their annual frozen cassoulets and cannot WAIT to try them out. http://www.oyamasausage.ca/oyama_sausage_company.html

7. ‘My’ Camera. quotes added because it’s not mine – it’s begged and borrowed, but I’ve sure enjoyed using it. My photos are soo much nicer with it! NIKON D50. Maybe one day Grampa will forget I have it…


8. Girls nights out. I don’t have photos to back these up, but they do happen on occassion, sometimes with my daughters, sometimes with a friend or two. LOVE ’em and plan to get out for them faaaar more often this coming year.

9. Making older houses new and fab-u-lous. Well, it’s my job, but I sure love taking an older house and making it into something fantastic and beautiful. Now if only I could get my own house done… *sigh*. (or even just my website…)

10. Paris. Husband and I went out for a date last night and I kept saying how excited I am to go for “my 40th” in a few years. I’ve got to start doing some research! I’ve been three times now, but there’s just still so much to explore. Where does one find “the” early morning baguette? Which restaurant has “the” most yummiest cassoulet? These are questions which must be answered.

eiffel tower