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    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Olive Juice

    When someone tells you that you have to check out an olive mill in the middle of the desert because it is unbelievable, you go and check it out.  It’s worth it for no other reason than to see an olive grove in the middle of the desert. That’s an interesting site for sure. So the grandparents and I headed out to the Queen Creek Olive Mill this past Saturday for a tour, tasting and maybe some lunch. The mill is located about 20 minutes from us and we were there on a perfect day (mid 70’s and no clouds) for checking out new things.  Upon arrival there were tastings and a band in the grove not to mention that the restaurant was crazy busy. I was really thinking about eating lunch there (check out the menu here), but was over ruled since grandma and grandpa wanted to take me to the San Tan flats for a burger. So while I can’t say from experience that the food is good it does look pretty awesome. We did end up taking the tour and it was interesting. I learned a few things for sure, but don’t know if I would recommend it for everyone. I do however highly recommend tasting the olives, olive oil and balsamic. They are really good, reasonably priced and it’s just fun that it came from the desert. I purchased probably more than I should have, but I was buying them for gifts. I swear it.

    The olive grove with tables under the trees!

    The band playing under the trees.

    The store with full shelves, but not for long!

    My grandpa and me before we had the great big burger!

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Mesa or Bust

    The good news is my trip from CA to AZ had zero drama. I didn’t get stranded in the desert, saw only one poor little road kill and only went off the route once to check out rocks. Yes you read that correctly. I decided to check out rocks, in the desert, at 2:00pm in the middle of nowhere. I was so determined to see at least one thing on my trip that when I saw the sign for petroglyph rocks I figured it was this or nothing. So I took the exit and a chance that rocks would be cool. Luckily it ended up being a really interesting collection of rocks with beautiful etchings and coupled against the back drop of a beautiful clear blue Southwestern sky, it was worth the detour. The rock site is about 11 miles off the Interstate 8 and the entire 11 miles was completely void of cars. So much so that I stopped in the road and took a picture of the cactus below. Then when I arrived at the parking lot of the rock area it was completely empty as well (although there was a camper in the distance, since it's a camp ground too). If you were me this is the time that you would start thinking that this is the perfect place for ghost to come out of the rock pile and seek his (or her) revenge on whomever should disturb their grave. Since you're not me, you didn't and this definitely did not happen to me. On the bright side of the lack of people I was at least able to get pictures without someone's foot or a hand in the way. As the cherry on top of the trip I ended up stopping in at the Space Age restaurant for a bite before reaching Mesa. All because when you have the option to eat at the Space Age restaurant with a salad bar that’s just what you do.

    It takes 75 years for one arm to grow on these! This guy is old.

    Painted Rocks. Uber cool.

    Painted Rocks in the sun. Also Cool.

    To prove I was in this crazy ghost town of a historical site.

    I have tasted the salad of the future! I don't think it's worth getting the recipe.

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Two things I think you need to know

    This week I happened across two things on the Internet that made me ridiculously happy. I know I get excited a little to easily, but I really love both of these things and am so excited to share them.

    1. So remember when I wrote about how reading the Hunger Games doesn't necessarily make you stupid (being stupid makes you stupid or thinking that Kim Kardashian is relevant makes you stupid, but I am getting off track)? Well as you may (or may not know) Hunger Games is coming to a theater near you in March. As part of the promotion for the film they have come up with a site called Capital Couture that currently has several Capital style (if you read the books you will understand) features on it including a nail tutorial and a close up of Effie's gold shoes (I super heart them). I believe that they will to continue to update it with more items and I for one am super excited. I wonder if they will try to sell Effie's shoes...

    2. Speaking of shoes, OMG. TOMS is finally making shoes that I will wear. No really check these babies out.

    They are starting pre-orders February 1st at Nordstrom and I will be getting on that band wagon my friend. TOMS does a One for One, which means for every pair of shoes purchased TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need and I have wanted to buy them strictly for that reason. The problem is that the current type of shoes are just too homely for me (Yes, even the wedges. You can send your hate mail to shannonin30 at gmail dot com). Every time I try to purchase them my brain goes into an inner dialogue with itself and tells me that I am not supposed to look that granola EVER so I have never successfully purchased a pair. Well now I can feel good about purchasing a pair of shoes and looking good in the process. Everybody wins.

    As a side note I made it to the grandparents in one piece with a few pics (I will post a few of them next week) and no major drama. Not too bad for a 7 hour trip all by myself.  Yay!

    Happy Friday and have a great weekend!!

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Rest Stop

    Today I am heading out to Mesa, AZ to see my grandparents. It's been awhile since I have hung out with them so off to retirement village I go. My plan is to drive from San Diego to Mesa so of course I went to the Internet to see if the largest ketchup bottle was on the way or at least the biggest lint ball, but alas there is a total of nothing between here and there. Nada. Not even a ghost town or some other Brady Brunch fun stop. So it will be just me, satellite radio (Thank the lord we have that in the car), cacti, sand and hills for as far as the eye can see. I will just have to make up my own fun stop on the way and hope that something exciting (that does not include road kill) happens along the way.

    On a completely separate thought thread you need to check out this video. Boy got moves. Word.

    See you on the other side of the desert.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    LaLa Land & the Beach

    I was so excited that my friend Joanna came to visit me here in La Jolla over the weekend. I promised her it would be a great place to relax, be a little bit degenerate and just have some good old fashioned girl time (which it was and is...PAM). When I picked her up at the airport she mentioned she had never been to LA. Since we had planned on doing some house hunting for me while she was here up in the Laguna 'hood I thought what's an hour more drive up to LA. After asking her what she really wanted to see up there she decided on wanting to see Hollywood (Just as a note if you have never been to Hollywood, please trust me in that you are not missing a darn thing. Seriously it's two block of weirdos. And that is coming from me, a total weirdo calling others weirdos.). I warned her that it is a pit and she might be disappointed, but she wanted to go and who am I to tell her no. Lovely day, promise of good food (dropping in on the parents) and seeing all the crazies out on Hollywood Blvd, I can think of worse things to do on a pretty Sunday. Needless to say she was a little disappointed at the Walk of Fame and the  but we had a fabulous lunch at  on Sunset Blvd and drove through Beverly Hills ending up at Redondo Beach just as the sun was going down. It was a fun visit and reminded me that sometimes you just need to be a tourist in your own town.

    I just love this shot. It was a pretty day!

    Just a small sampling of the "characters" on the street. Zoro, Spiderman and Cookie Monster.
    Wonder Woman (not pictured) was my favorite.

    Doing a little retail therapy.
    I love this photo of Jo. She didn't know I was taking the photo as
    she was taking off her sweater to enjoy the sun.

    Gotta love Shatner!

    Jo at the Chinese Theater
    Jimmy Stewart. They all had such tiny hands and feet!

    At the beach caves in La Jolla.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    It's all in the butter

    Like me I am sure you are always looking for ways to use brown butter. Ever since I had fresh ravioli cooked in a sage brown butter sauce (made by Michael Chiarello, at a private dinner. Which is a story for another time, but needless to say dinner was fantastic) I have been obsessed. Why I never knew about the nutty delicious flavor of brown butter before this time is beyond me. It kept me skinnier, but the happiness I have found in butter truly makes up for it. So when I saw this recipe for Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies it was a no brainer that it had to be tried. Browning the butter is a simple addition that truly kicks it up a notch without taking away from the crispy goodness you're used to and the little bit of salt is just enough to give a hint of flavor without being 'salty'. So yummy and easy this is the perfect thing for me to make and bring to a Super Bowl party*.

    There is no way I can go back to just melting butter.

    Light, fluffy and yummy!
    *Currently being located in a furnished rental house (without my trusty bake and cookware) makes it a little bit harder to make some of my tried and true dishes. I will have a home soon though! I can't wait to have my own kitchen again.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    The not so Shabby Apple

    Over the past few months I have gotten some requests for an update on the Shabby Apple dress that I got back in November. I wanted the first time I wore it to be in the sun (and not cold) so I have been waiting until I got to La Jolla and physically well to try it out. Finally the perfect day came last week so I put it on and took a few pictures. It was different than I expected fabric wise, but lightweight with some stretch to it (follow their ordering advice and order smaller than normal). It fit quiet well, but I added on a wide brown belt (after we took the photo) to add a bit more definition to the waist since stripes are always tricky. It was fun to wear and as a girl that loves dresses it was great. The one thing that I would change about it is add a lining especially with white on the bottom. While no one saw my knickers I think it's a good idea to double up under white so I purchased a slip to go under it!

    Bottom line - I totally plan to order a few more items from Shabby Apple, which just so happens to be having a site wide sale. I suggest you get on it!

    Friday, January 20, 2012


    I was listening to my iPod while driving from my parents house to La Jolla the other day and 'Smile' came on by  Michael Buble . This is a song that was written by Charlie Chaplin (musically, lyrics were added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons) and is quite beautiful and sad all at the same time. Instantly it made me want to rent the movie Chaplin and see it for the 100th time (someday I will just buy it) and relive Robert Downey Jr. when I first appreciated his genius (although in the midst of his drug struggles although he swears he was sober at the time) and then it made me go to the internet to find Judy Garland singing it. It is my favorite by her, only behind 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'. Lastly it made me remember my Auntie Tante hated Judy Garland (I will not divulge what he said she sounded like), however he did concede to this particular song being brilliant (not his exact words, but we are just going to go with it) by her. Read into that sentence what you will, pronouns are correct. So for Friday's favorites I present a song that I dare you not to smile at. Pretty sure Auntie Tante is smiling from wherever he may be, but also probably telling me not to click the other links in YouTube for her other songs.

    Happy Friday!! 

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    I got nothing

    I have barely left the house the last week so I really have no exciting or new information to share. I am going to get out today and head to Pacific Beach for a little sun. Yes I said sun. Here in La Jolla it comes often and I am going to get loads of vitamin D (I have sunblock on though), watch the waves and get some lunch outside simply because I can. I hear it's snowing in Seattle right now. Bummer.

    For your pleasure here are a few good things on the internet:

    J Crew has an extra 30% off sale stuff, shoes anyone?
    Ann Taylor has 40% off EVERYTHING. I love their blouses.

    And here is your kitty and puppy for the day. So many to choose from, but I went with short and sweet.

    Hopefully I will be back on my game tomorrow.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Who knew?

    Who knew that bronchitis with a side of ear and sinus infection could suck so much? Yeah I know, everyone, but me. I keep thinking that I will wake up and it will all be over. So far it hasn't happened so I am still waiting. Maybe tomorrow will be the magic morning. All this sickness has resulted in my weekend being filled with Ice Road Trucker marathons, reading and Internet surfing. I know, try to contain your excitement for me. Today's post would be filled with puppy and kitten pics, but I came across this instead: http://www.wolfhirschhorn.org/2012/01/amelia/brick-walls/ (the link can be a little tricky and you may need to reload it to get to the page). I suggest you read this before continuing on so you stay in the loop.

    My opinion on this matter as a whole is really of no consequence, but what makes me blindingly angry is that a DOCTOR has made the decision whether or not to save someone based on what he 'thinks' is a quality of life for a person. I am not debating what is considered a quality of life. I clearly have stated in my living will what decision will be made for me regarding MY life and where the line is drawn. These parents are making the decision and providing the kidney (no transplant wait list, not taking anything away from anyone else) on behalf of their three year old daughter and are being denied based solely on the fact their child is "Mentally Retarded" and the hospital will not perform the surgery. I don't think that is right for many reason, but the number one reason is where does the line get drawn from there? Does anyone with a mental delay or issue get denied because they aren't as quick as others? Do we start giving out IQ tests for transplants? To even contemplate this turns my vision red so I signed the petition and passed on the information. If you wish to do the same you can go to here: Sign the Petition

    Now you know.

    Back to kitties and puppies tomorrow, promise.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Health Care is two words worth lots of money

    After I quit my job in September I looked into several insurance plans (COBRA is not an option unless you have a bank roll) and came to realize that for me and my situation having a full insurance plan was throwing money away. If I went with the standard individual plans (Ha! Standard, as if. These plans are more confusing than IKEA furniture directions) I would be spending more money out of pocket each month than I would if I went to the doctor for my yearly appoints with one or two unplanned visits and paid cash. That's not even counting the deductible that I would need to meet. So I decided to purchase the catastrophic insurance aka "Cancer Insurance" that kicks in should you have a super duper bad disease but doesn't cover anything else and decided to roll the dice on the rest.

    Yesterday was the first day that I had to go to the doctor without insurance. Things had gotten pretty uncomfortable with my 'cold' and the BF told me it was time to see someone and I agreed. After a little research for a clinic close to where I am I came across the Minute Clinic (MC) located in a CVS not far from where I am at and decided to try this out as opposed to a Urgent Care (nothing against urgent care, but I didn't feel like waiting in line). Turns out the Minute Clinic was exactly what I needed. I arrived and filled out my information on a computer (general information and why I was there) and was immediately taken into a room with an LPN. After an in-depth Q&A session, my vitals were taken and she asked me a few more questions and concluded that I had a sinus and ear infection, chest congestion and an asthma flare up (the last one I knew about). I was given my prescriptions, asked if I had any questions and if it was ok for her to follow up with me in a couple of days (when was the last time your doctor followed up with you?). After talking with the girl at the CVS pharmacy she was able to make sure any of my prescriptions that could be generic and/or discounted were and for under $200 ($89 MC visit and 4 prescriptions) I was out the door. That was actually one of the better medical visits I have had in recent years.

    I am not implying that this is the best solution for everything and in fact it isn't. For what I have going on this was a quick, easy and inexpensive solution (Visit the MC site for a list of services they offer). For those of you without insurance this can be a valuable resource, but there is still the issue that we don't have affordable health care readily available everywhere (MC is not available at all CVS or even all states and there are similar clinics at Walgreens that I found online but have not personally experienced). Long and short of it is that I am not an expert on this, but I am getting informed. I have options and picked one that made the most sense for ME. Even if you have insurance through your company, state or spouse you should learn about how the health care changes affect you. http://www.healthcare.gov/ is a good place to get started on understanding how the Affordable Health Care Act can help you (or not). Reading opinion pieces on how people think this affects you is not good enough. What works for me may not work for you so get educated. Affordable health care should not be so hard.

    *Update - through the power of twitter I was given this handy link which is a great resource for finding a clinic (any clinic) near you! http://hc311.com/

    Getting off my soapbox now and back to the beach.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    How I can find a reason to drink for all occasions even when sick

    I am sitting on the couch today because yesterday I actually got some things done and now I am coughing my lungs out. I am pretty sure I will be needing these in the future so today I am taking it easy and watching TV. Enter the Today show. I love Matt, Al, Natalie and Ann (her uncomfortable interview style is sometimes hard to watch although I do love most things she does). One segment on the Today Show is where Willard Scott does his 100th birthday solutes. Nothing cracks me up more than when a little old lady says she attributes her longevity to a shot of whiskey every night or as with today one lady simply said it was vodka. We will just have to guess as to the quantity and mix. So this got me thinking about cocktails for the sick, even if it doesn't cure me it will at least make the day suck less. While there are many out there (it's actually a little disturbing that so many people have the same idea) this is my favorite, courtesy of Angel's Share in NYC's East Village. I don't have the exact measurements, but it will be fun to experiment.

    Warm Water
    Cloves, Cinnamon and ground Ginger

    I think I will take whole cloves, cinnamon and soak in the warm water with the ginger for a few minutes. Then add the honey, brandy and sherry to taste. It truly sounds yummy and if doesn't lessen the chest rattling cough it will at least let me nap.

    Oh and just to make sure you don't do anything stupid please don't mix OTC medications (or prescriptions for that matter) with alcohol.

    This is way to many products I am sure, but this is what keeps me going at the moment.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Christmas 2011 is officially over

    I just surfaced from a full day of finally succumbing to the sickness that is going around. I think jet lag, lack of sleep and the crud all converged at once because they are jerks.  After drugging myself into a stupor last night I got my first complete full nights sleep (if you don't count waking up at 5am, but considering I went to bed at 7pm it all works out) since I returned to the US. I finally feel human again, which is good because the BF and I are in La Jolla and the sun is out and the door is open. I better enjoy this lovely weather in the middle of January while it lasts.

    The highlight of this past weekend was of course celebrating the 4th (and final) Christmas with the family in LA. We had two days of fabulous food, drink and presents. I scored a new drive for my Mac Air, which means I have a lot of music to upload. This has officially been the longest Christmas I have experienced and it has been fun, but glad it's over. Next up, house hunting!

    My parents left up the tree for me.
    I am sure they are super excited to take it down now.
    My nieces and nephew worked hard on their Gingerbread houses.

    Pork loin, gingered carrots and mashed potatoes for dinner #1. Yum.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Making the Mini Donuts

    Last night I celebrated a belated Christmas with my Seattle family which included a great dinner and a gift exchange. I received some really lovely gifts, however my favorite item was the mini donut maker. It took everything I had to not mix up a donut recipe and try it out immediately. Self restraint won out and I decided that waiting until morning was the right thing to do. The last few days I have been feeling like I am trying to come down with some sort of sickness, but did that stop the donut shop from opening this morning. Not even a little. I used the basic donut recipe that was included with the maker for my first time out (which surprisingly was super delicious) and because these are baked not fried I figure I can eat twice as many. No? Well at any rate they were quick and easy to prepare and to make a few of them a little different I just melted a few chocolate chips to use as a glaze. While these may not be an everyday thing they can certainly be a way to make the morning a little extra special. Next up is to try some of the other recipes I have seen on the web.

    Happy Friday!

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Alive in Seattle

    I arrived at SeaTac yesterday to fairly warm weather with only a slight bit of rain (which is considered a win for Seattle in January). I had a fantastic afternoon with a good friend and then tried to stay up and hang out with my family for as long as possible. Despite my best efforts I have been up since 2:30am pacific time. You would assume since I have been up for hours that I would have pulled out the Christmas gifts for the family and friends from the suit case, repacked, taken a shower, eaten breakfast and am all ready to tackle the day. You would also be wrong. I have watched 4 episodes of Once Upon a Time, had three (they were small) bagels, some salad, 8 gallons of water and broke my charger thingy for my computer. Jet lag sucks. My goals today are small, but at least they include Mexican food and Target. Hope your day is equally stimulating.

    To kick start your morning here is one of my favorite 'Seattle' bands playing one of my favorite songs.

    Heart - Barracuda live at the Paramount theatre in 2002 via Heart You Tube channel

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    New Year, Same Me

    Happy New Year to you!

    So far this year is pretty fantastic. We had a lovely new years eve with friends, champagne, great food (not to mention the yummy oliebollen) and made sure to include fireworks and sparklers at midnight. Tomorrow the BF and I head out to Seattle for a few days and then onward to Southern California for the next few months. Should be a fun adventure of connecting with friends and getting out of the cold (looks like it will be in the 70's and 80's in California. Yay!).

    To wrap up 2011 I decided to actually come up with resolutions that I really wanted to make happen this year. Even though losing 10lbs would be awesome I wanted to focus more on my inner workings, my outlook and where I wanted my life to head in 2012. Here they are (taken directly from twitter, since I let the world know via twitter on the 31st):

    Resolution #1: tolerance and understanding should be in my life everyday. Let's see how this goes.
    Resolution #2: it may be cheesetastic, but 'live everyday fearlessly'. Might make an interesting year.
    Resolution #3 (and final): Take photos, but remember to enjoy the moment in the present too!

    Any interesting resolutions you want to share or do you even bother?


    Sparkly drink (Champagne of course)

    Oliebollen! Recipe found here (although there are so many to choose from.
    Maybe next year we can get the Dutch family secret one!)

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