Monday, November 30, 2009

Ahwatukee Festival of Lights

So, if you haven't heard, I'm sort of into Christmas. Okay, I lied. I'm way into Christmas. I love Christmas.

So when I read about, and then heard about via text message from my sister-in-law, the Ahwatukee Festival of Lights, I knew I must do whatever it took to put myself there. So on Saturday afternoon, while Michael was working the ASU-UofA football game, I found myself completely free to go to the Festival.

I drove down Chandler Blvd. and saw signs pointing to 'Event Parking.' I followed these signs and parked in a school that did NOT look like a festival. Then a school bus came around and parked. People started running from their cars to catch the bus, so I did the same. About two minutes into the bus ride, I realized I didn't exactly know where the bus was headed. And after hearing a woman say to another woman how excited she was to go to 'the party,' I was pretty convinced that I was about to crash some large scale private gathering.

Well, that wasn't the case. Still, I was the only single person on the bus amid mothers with their children and entire families. I felt pretty creepy.
It wasn't Lights as much as it was Festival. There were a lot of booths selling crafts and foodstuffs.
The best part was a little stage that was made up so a local dance studio could put on a dance recital. Most of the dances were adorable. Some had me giving the side-eye as little girls writhed around on stage doing sexy moves in tiny leopard print underwear and training bras. Once again, I felt like a Creep Master. I looked around and definitely caught a few dads looking uncomfortable. Is this how my old dance recitals used to be?!?! Anyway, most of the dances were adorable. I loved this little girl who was flitting around:
I wish they had sold tutus like this one at a booth.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Giving Thanks

Michael and I had our first house guests at our new home this weekend. Lauren, Michael's sister, came to stay with us along with her two friends, Brian and Kwynn. It was a great time having them around the house, and they came to our family celebration of Thanksgiving. So on Thursday morning we headed up to Fountain Hills to see my parents and JP, Shannon and Kai.

Lunch was excellent. Everyone contributed something, which is a tradition in our family. I think it gives a little more Thanksgiving-y feel to the day. Dad also had a short quiz of T-Day trivia, so we went once around the table trying to answer questions. We got Kai to sing his favorite song for the table - Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" - and enjoyed the wine, which flowed like...well, wine.

QUICK QUIZ! Who wore it best?


We had our dessert and wine out on the patio. It was a great day - the perfect temperature!






















This picture was taken by hooking the camera up to a light fixture. Please notice Michael with a look of torture on his face as he shields his eyes from the sun. Michael and Einstein have a love-hate relationship. Sometimes it's more of a hate-hate.
We rounded off the evening with a little more wine, a little hot tubbin', and a lot of laughs.
On Friday we in the 'Tuke (what the cool kids call Ahwatukee) had a lazy morning around the house. Then we had a really good meal (and tons of leftovers, as you can see) at Oregano's.
Michael took us to Sun Devil Stadium to check out the field and see where he works. We went down to the field and hung around for a bit. Lauren, Kwynn, Brian and I raced across the field. Michael was the judge. Then Michael and I goofed around in the end zone. I did my end zone dance and Michael tried to stiff arm me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Home Projects

Hello, folks! We're getting all settled in our new home as Thanksgiving approaches, along with our first ever house guests! We're not completely unpacked, but we're getting there! I'd like to take a minute and share with you two of our projects that we did when we first moved in.

Master Bedroom before: Master Bedroom after: *Now, this one isn't a completely finished project because we are still in the market for some bedroom furniture. We love our big new master bedroom, we just don't have the stuff to fill it out!

Master Bathroom before:

If you can't tell, a single man lived in this house before us. He was very fond of light blue. Either that, or Home Depot was having a sale. One of the extra bedrooms is also painted this color.

Master Bathroom after:

And last but not least, HOME before:HOME after:

Have a great holiday, everyone! May your Thanksgiving be full of family, football and flavorful foods!

Friday, November 20, 2009

the New Moon out tonight

Today is the official opening day of the new movie in the Twilight Saga, "New Moon." But even though thousands of screaming teeny boppers and 'Twi-hards' worldwide got their first glimpse of the movie at 12:01 am this morning, I was part of a lucky group that got to see it at 8 pm last night!My friend Ashly held an event for work where she rented out three theaters for an early showing. So a group of four friends got together with all of our moms to see the show. It was really fun! There were tons of fanatics there, which meant tons of screaming and swooning at the (MANY) scenes where the leading men were shirtless.

About the movie - no movie in this series is hoping for Oscar nominations. I don't think anyone is arguing that this is the deepest film of all time, so I get it that the critics have harsh things to say. But to me, taking the movie for what it is, I thought it was really good - much better than Twilight. It was a lot of talking and building (and tearing down) of relationships and not a lot of action, but I didn't mind this at all. I can see how people wouldn't enjoy this, but it's my cup of tea. I still think I can convince Michael to go see it with me. The acting was much better than it was in Twilight. There was less lip chewing, less dramatic pauses and more laughter. "New Moon" was exactly what I wanted it to be: teen love and heartbreak and fantasy escapism at its best.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Would you rather...

Let's say the Colts will be at the Superbowl this year. (*knock on wood*, for Michael's sake). Under that assumption, I ask you the following question:

Would you rather, for your 30th birthday, go to EXOTIC, WONDROUS EUROPE? or the super bowl?

Let me paint the picture for you, so you might better understand the question.

Would you rather stay inside the United States, a wonderful country, but one that - face it - you've spent quite some time in? Engage in online wrestling matches over hotel rooms that are overbooked, and because they have marked up their prices 10,000%, you can only afford ones that are a tad bit shady. Get stuck in traffic on the way to the game. I'll give you this - the game would be great. Good fun. (But Heavens forbid the Colts lose!) Even with a victory, you have maybe 6 hours of enjoyment, only to return to the parking lot of bottle-necking lock-down to sit for another 2 hours hoping to get out of there. One day.

Or...

The glistening blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Blissful strolls down the canals of Venice. Laying out on the black rocks of Grecian beaches to be warmed by the sun. Eating olive spread and authentic Italian, all accompanied by fine wines. Gazing introspectively at old churches and architecture. Wearing hats like these:













I think you already know what my preference is. You might even be able to guess Michael's. It is, I suppose, his birthday. And I do imagine there might be a slight price difference between these two trips.

But you can't take it with you, right? And you only live once, right?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The One-Hit Wonders

Check out the new table Michael and I bought for our breakfast nook!
Michael found it on CraigsList, and it was a smokin' deal! We're thinking about getting some chair cushions to add some color to that little area of the house. I love it.

Friday night we had a girls' night. Lyndsey, Jaye, d'Averill and I got together to do a wine, cheese and fondue tasting. It was so fun and delicious! Yes, we ate all of this:
A few weeks ago, Shannon asked me to play on her company's team for a casual business-to-business tournament that took place today. So one could say I was brought in as a secret-weapon mercenary. Or one could say that they needed more girls on the team that weren't completely inept in athleticism. While the weather started out a bit dreary, it cleared up in time for our first victory. Since there ended up being plenty of girls, Shan and I only got in for the last three innings. Shannon had two excellent contacts with the ball. I was only up-to-bat once but managed not to completely humiliate myself in front of all of Shan's coworkers and got on base! Actually, it was a double because the first basegirl fumbled the ball and I made a daring dash to second. Our reign of terror couldn't last, however. We were decimated by a team called "Crush Time" whose biceps were roughly the cirumference of my head. So badly were we beaten that the game was called early, meaning that Shan and I didn't get up to bat. This means that I went 1 for 1 at bat, and I'm quite happy with my "Batting 1.00" status.

While we were saddened by defeat, it might have been our fate. Afterall, our team name (as was broadcasted across our team shirts, see above) was the "One-Hit Wonders."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Conference Re-Cap

Good e'en! I'm back from my trip to Indianapolis for the National Middle School Association conference. I left on Wednesday and returned on Saturday evening. It was a great trip! First, I attempted to be the host for my co-workers, despite the fact that I've never actually lived in Indy. On our first night out we did bump into the Monument Circle. And we just happened to find ourselves inside a Steak 'N Shake. "Oh gosh! Look at that! I guess we better have a milkshake."

We stayed at a very...unusual...hotel. It had a theme - a historic train station. On the second floor were these real-life-sized trains in which some rooms were situated. I did not know this when booking the hotel. So imagine my surprise when the front desk man informed us not to be startled if we felt rumbling in the middle of the night - the hotel is still connected to a functioning train station. By far the strangest thing about the hotel is the statues placed throughout the hotel. I understand that they are supposed to look like train-travelling passengers, but really, did we have to make them so creepy?
Yeah, that was the sight that met us every time we stepped out of the elevator. Let's have a close up on the blank, staring eyes, shall we?
But I digress. Despite the ghoulish statues, it was very charming, a wonderful location and a great find! I love me a good themed hotel! Here we all are out to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory: We had an early morning break-out session, which we thought would mean low attendance. It didn't! Lauren and me modeling our booth: I got to see my In-Laws, Judy and Fred one night. We had such a fun and delicioso meal at a Spanish Tapas restaurant. Those little plates were really "tapa" the line! (Buh-dum-ching!) Then we went out for an after dinner drink. It was so fun! I'm bummed that I forgot to get a picture.

Then, on the final morning of exhibiting, Judy and Fred surprised me by arriving at our booth! They were pretty sneaky since they didn't have badges to get into the hall. Good thing I was at the booth at the time and not roaming around the exhibit hall, foraging for handouts and freebies. (You can never have too many pens, luggage tags or bite-size Snickers candy).

We got back into Phoenix around four. All I wanted to do was see my Hubs, but Alas!, it was not meant to be. He was working the ASU game and was likely not to be home for several hours. So I hopped in my car and met up with some friends for Lyndsey's birthday!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween

Halloween was a busy day for us! First, Michael had to get up really early (for a Saturday) and go in to work because of the ASU football game. He spent all day setting up the tailgate, working the game and entertaining clients. I spent the whole day doing touch-up painting at the new house and packing up the old one.

That night we went out with friends to Blue Martini up at City North. It was all decked out with Halloween decorations, and everyone there was dressed up. I made my Octo-puss-in-boots costume earlier in the day. My six extra legs were made of panty hose, wire hangers and newspaper. Michael didn't have time to get a costume together, so the group decided he was Tom Cruise. I actually think he looks more like Jake Gyllenhaal. What do you think?












As hard as it may be to believe, people, the above are pictures of two different people! I know, they look the same! It boggles the mind!

Here's a picture of the whole group. From left to right, we have Amy (a cat), Jaye (a ceiling fan), Derek (Facebook), Erik (a GhostBuster), plus me and Jake...er, Michael. Lyndsey also was there, but she left before this picture was taken. Here she is as a pirate in the 'girl shot' with all of our pretty martinis. As you can see, boots were a hot commodity this Halloween. Sorry Jaye, but I did hear that ballet flats will be the thing this Thanksgiving. You're always one step ahead of the curve.

In other matters, I have a neighborhood watch tip for all of my (two) readers out there. Get to know your neighborhood before you try to go on multi-mile runs at 5:20 am. Master the road system during daylight hours instead of running when it's so dark outside that you can't even tell which direction is east from the rising sun.

Today I got lost while running, if you hadn't guessed. I'll try to make a long story short. Basically, the curving roads got me. And the fact that tiny suburban house-packed roads kept their names as they rounded 90 degree turns. This is unusual for me, a girl who's been running in the meticulously mapped-out grid system of downtown Scottsdale for a few months. Eventually I was running north when I thought I was running west. I kept looking to the left, hoping to catch a glimpse of a major boulevard when I was in fact running away from it.

After passing the thirteenth street named Desert Trumpet or Desert Trail or Desert Tracks, and after forty minutes of running, I gave up. I was exhausted, feeling like I'd never escape, and worried that I would be late for work. I searched for another sign of life at this pitchblack o'clock hour of the morning. I think I scared the bejeebus out of a man in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. With tears in my eyes, I explained that I was new in the neighborhood and couldn't find my way back to that major Blvd. His wife then came out ("Dave, what is it?") and heard me too. After giving me a big hug and a "It's alright, dear, we live on the biggest set of cul-de-sacs on the planet," they offered to drive me out to said boulevard. So they took me, a mile out of their way. While telling me that I really do need to start running with a cell phone and reassuring me that it was very easy to get lost in all those streets of the development.

I asked if they'd had this happen a lot. "No, it's usually just lost children and dogs." Great, I'm the social equivalent of scared kids and lost puppies.

The moral of the story is, there really are great people out there. People who are willing to help others, even others who are sweaty and quasi-emotionally unstable. I was so grateful, in this world full of wackos and jerks, to have the one person I turned to be a person so thoughtful and sweet. I'd like to think that maybe there are more of this second kind of person in the world. That we only hear about the awful ones more often in the news, but that they are in the vast minority. That if I had asked Dave's neighbor for help that he would have done the same thing that Dave did. I'm going to try to be a Dave in my new neighborhood.

Wow. This got pretty deep for a post originally about cutesy Halloween costumes. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blogging from our new home

We're finally here! And we actually have internet access! I don't know which one is more surprising. I'm sitting on the couch in our new living room, decidedly not looking over in the dining area where boxes upon boxes await me.

Whew! It has been a long day. My parents, JP, Shannon and Kai all came over to help us move. You don't realize just how much stuff you've accumulated until you have to move it to another place. It seemed like it took forever just to get it all loaded into the U-Haul. But unloading was easier, and consuming beer and wings at the sports bar across the street with the fam was the easiest of all. My back hurts, my fingers are sore, I'm fairly sure I smell bad, but we're here. How exciting! I keep looking around and muttering "Our house." I don't think the Hubs minds.

On Friday we went to seeWe had four tickets, so we invited my parents (who were in town, obviously) to see it with us. We had great seats on the ground level. Really, that musical is my favorite. Every single song would come up and I'd think, "'Think of Me', yes, this is my favorite of the songs." And then "All I Ask of You" or "Music of the Night" would begin, and I'd think the same thing. They're all so beautiful and haunting.

I leave for Indianapolis on a work conference on Wednesday, so I'll try to post my pictures from Halloween before then. Have to keep up with my 11 Goals in 101 Days to blog twice a week!