Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fresno Greek Fest

Saturday Stephen and I went to the 50th Annual Fresno Greek Festival put on by St. George's Greek Orthodox Church. They've had an artist work on the church's ceiling for the past three years, and were finally able to reveal the finish product over the weekend. Plus, the fest means the best Greek food around (not that I would know the difference), so we had to make a visit.

In brief:

The outside of the Church

The inside of the church

Some of the festivities

The festive band

Festive vendors

Everything we festively ate

(The best dang dessert ever--Loukoumades. We had two.)

And, the festive pastries we brought home

We're looking forward to the in-FEST-tation next year.

Aw, c'mon, you know you got suckered in on that last one.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Look

Hello Everyone!

I see that you've visited the blog with its new coat of paint. What do you think?

My brother-in-law, Adam, is working on transforming the basic but tolerable template my blog was encased in into something quite fabulous.

Adam has taken really good direction in designing this blog. I bet this is because I am conveying what I want the blog to look like in such straight forward graphical arts terms, like, "pretty, girly flowers" and "cute lettering, but not like handwriting."

This, and the fact that my posts are always so superbly edited and never show signs of my lack of planning, should mean that the blog would be operating 24/7. Practically running itself.

Alas, this is not the case. Because the plans are to make the blog even more swanky in the near future, my posting will be a little irregular. This is mostly because I am using all of my remaining weekday brain cells to figure out the future swankiness. To offer you the best possible blog, I need a fortnight or two to work out the visual kinks and to get my footing into the new, yet unnamed facets that will slowly make their way onto this stage.

Translation: The site's gonna be under construction and such for the next few weeks, so things will be weird.

Posting will be 3-4 times a week, and not at the usual time. However, the blog will start becoming more interactive--so keep an eye out for that. I plan to get back to full speed very soon, since writing up blog posts is the most fun I have wearing my reading glasses.

In the meantime, to ensure that you won't miss a blog post, it may be easier for you to follow me through something like Google reader, or some other media that keeps track of blogs for you. (For those of you unfamiliar with Google reader, you just sign up with any e-mail address you already have. It's quite nice. You can access it here).

Thanks for your patience during the changes. I look forward to unveiling new features and awesomeness very soon!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wear, Sleep, Repeat

If I was a smarter woman, I would not confess my fashion sins so regularly on this blog.


Still learning I guess.

Latest fashion sin admission: I am an outfit repeater.

I bet you've done this too.

Sometimes this behavior stems from getting a brand new piece of clothing that you love so much, you justify wearing it 5 out of the 6 days in which you have first owned it. It would truly be a shame to have to put the outfit back in the closet for an undetermined amount of time before it would be OK to bring it back out again. Plus, you should probably prove the versatility of this garment by wearing it as much as possible, right? Right.

Sometimes this behavior stems from not fully putting an outfit away after having worn it. You might be going to an event with people who you haven't seen for a couple weeks and--there it is, in your not-quite-in-the-laundry-but-definitely-not-put-away pile (my "pile" is a chair), saying, "Don't wash me--wear me."

And sometimes this behavior stems from a complete lack of creativity. You have spent some previous moment of your life (probably several stressful minutes) strategically putting an outfit together. You're quite proud of the way you matched your horizontally striped shirt and floral skirt. It's just a little too bad that you established and wore this outfit, worthy of pride, yesterday. A quick internal monologue-like analysis of your day reveals that you won't see the same folks today as you did yesterday. Go for repeat.

I am quite guilty of being an outfit repeater on special occasions for different sides of the family or with different groups of friends. I usually begin my day hoping that my memory is still serving me, that I can remember correctly that I wore this outfit out to Thanksgiving last year with the other side of the family. I will pace my closet for a couple minutes until reassuring myself that if I can't remember, maybe no one else will. I end my dressing experience with deluded confidence that "They definitely haven't seen me in this before." When you have so many similar occasions, you just might need one outfit instead of several.

You should also get some friends with poor memories.

Now you know another one of my fashion sins, and that sometimes I don't hang up my clothes at the end of the day.

OK, pretty much always.

Hey, I never claimed to be perfect.

I'll just leave you with this*:

Kate Sanders: Only you would think that you could hide that powder blue, puffy sleeved, it's kind of a peasant dress, but it's really a questionable disaster of fiber content that you wore to the spring dance. Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater!

Lizzie McGuire: Okay, I may be an outfit repeater, but you're an outfit rememberer, which is just as pathetic!

*I bet you shamefully remember this movie, too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Drinking

I'm about to make a big, fat assumption about all of you.

You like to drink. You like to drink with friends. You like to drink with friends during the week.

To me, this is absolutely normal behavior. It is normal behavior I participate in. I participated in it yesterday.

I don't do this too regularly, but enough.

Recently, however, I've come across a couple articles that remind me that it isn't common, normal behavior among a lot of people.

I am in the camp that disagrees with complete Prohibition. I don't think it makes any sense in our culture, and it would be a problem in the practice of my faith. However, I see where specific people should limit their own consumption.

I'm not trying to give a long drawn out lecture on this topic. I just thought it was interesting to run into these few articles within the last couple days.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Those Lazy Nights

We all enjoy a little bit of laziness, and our opportunities for lazy summer days and evenings are dwindling.

Good thing this sad excuse for an article, How To Spend A Lazy Summer Day, has me covered.


So, I want to hear: What do I have to fit in to my summer to make sure I've reached my laziness quotient before it's too late? What have you been meaning to do (or not do) during these summer months?

Thanks for your help. You know, because I'm too lazy to think of anything right now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Post-Fest Preoccupation

I have figs on the brain.

Even though the Fig Fest was a couple weeks ago, figs are still fully in season (apparently until December, which was a huge shock to me). On our semi-regular trip to the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market over the weekend, we noticed that those aggies have supplied the general pop with tons of black mission figs waiting to be creatively consumed.

I am only too happy to oblige.

The first recipe that came to my mind was this Fig and Almond Tart featured on Giada at Home. Giada made this with Aunt Rafie, who is her carefree celebrity family member. Because she is awesome. I want to believe that this recipe is just as awesome, in a more delicious way.

At the Fig Fest, my sister's hands down favorite figgie food was a caramel-filled, chocolate covered salted fig, offered up by Trelio. It was very good, and I might be able to somewhat recreate the treat with these Fig and Ginger Truffles. Except for the caramel. Hmmm. Maybe an excuse to eat two desserts at once?

I shamelessly watched the latest season of the Next Food Network Star, and was quite proud of myself when I predicted on episode 3 that Aarti would take the cake. But, I had no idea that her Indian-inspired cuisine would have me wanting to try things like Earl Grey Kalfi Pops (a.k.a. Creamy Pistachio Pops) and Sloppy Bombay Joes. Her Huggy Buggy Bread Pudding (with figs and cashews--yum!) seems like the perfect thing for a winter weekend. Too bad I'm one of those people that doesn't care if it's 100 degrees out right now: comfort via food is always in season. Her recipe also comes with an original song offering substitution expletives.

Everything you could ever want in a cooking show.

Other recipes that have no story or emotional attachment (yet):
Montalcino Chicken with Figs and Buttered Gnocchi with Pancetta and Nutmeg

Fig and Walnut Biscotti

Prosciutto, Fig and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Fig-Glazed Roast Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing

Ok, so what about you: do you have any fig recipes you can share?

Monday, August 23, 2010


This weekend the family went to see my cousin Brianne's play, 13 The Musical. It was put on by the local Children's Musical Theaterworks.

Honestly, all the kids were very talented. Brianne is seriously the happiest-looking kid when she is singing and dancing, and that really shown through her performance. Since it looked like the rest of the ensemble was sleepwalking through their dance moves, she looked rockin'.

And, it was also a really strange and interesting play.

Perhaps it's the part of me that wants to believe that 12 and 13-year-old's are innocent (or maybe I was just seriously naive when I was 13), but the play dealt with themes that I don't think I was ready to hear 12 and 13-year-old's poke fun at and sing about.

Since I try to do most of my thinking before I take to the blog,* I am pretty sure I've figured out my beef with the play.

I spent four years doing junior high ministry at my church, called the Edge**. While many of the kids attending Edge dealt with the problems that 12 and 13-year-old's in the play faced (like divorce and "crushes," among other stuff of modern teen culture), we spent our time trying to build the kids up instead of letting them further absorb the dangerously, but secretively, poisonous junk that the modern culture can thrust onto them.

Sure, we live in the real world. Things get heavy. Things get serious. Things can get tragic. But the Core Team serving in Edge were adults who wanted to show the kids that despite all of these circumstances that were out of our control, and all of the heavy, serious and tragic things that can happen, we as Catholic Christians have immense hope.

Jesus came to Earth, died for us, and rose again. God's guidance through the Holy Spirit and His Church is an ongoing, real part of our lives. And, if we let Him, God can put the big picture stuff for your life totally under His wing. He exposes the dangerous, secretive, poisonous junk for what it really is.

So, for me, since this play was sort of wallowing in the modern teen culture junk, I was a little turned off. I guess the director in me wished that it could have been a bit more uplifting in a different sense. It certainly wasn't meant to be a religiously-themed play (well, except for the main character's impending Bar Mitzvah).

It just reminded me that 13 is a very impressionable age. Kids will absorb what's around them. Hopefully their parents, families, friends and other important figures in their lives will help them see that there are bigger, better things worth absorbing.

*You're welcome.

**'Cause those kids would drive us to the Edge. Just kidding. Old Core Team joke there. Sorry.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm Scared an Etsy Little Bit

I must confess that for all the online shopping (and way more online window shopping) that I do, I am quite unfamiliar with Etsy.

My full admission is that I find it rather intimidating.

There are so many shops that it seems like it would be impossible to find what you are looking for. Plus, with other online retailers, their sizing is standardized and their policies on exchanges and returns are clear (for the most part). And while I know that a whole slew of Etsy professionals have designed their shops to be just that...

I am scared.

What if the item is nothing like the picture? What if I can't exchange it? What if it falls apart? What if they ignore me like the big-box retailer*? What if that quarter that they have in the picture for size reference is some kind of trick quarter? What if they steal my credit card information?

Ok, so the last one is probably less likely since sellers go through a process to determine that they are generally not crooks. Maybe the one before that is a little far-fetched, too.

Still, it is not completely irrational to feel uneasy about buying an item from the lady next door (and across the country) that you would normally get at a store with salespeople and a cash register. The unknowns, though, are not a good reason to avoid this plethora of clothes and crafts, made with love.

Ignorance is not bliss.

If I were to get over my fear soon, these few shops would be the first places I would turn to in bravery (and leave not long after with an empty wallet).

Audrey and Grace Clothing

Flour Clothing

Lirola Clothing

ANAS by Zorya Clothing

Rak Shniya Vintage Clothing

Sweet Bee Finds Vintage Clothing

Simple Serendipity Jewelry

All Things Tinsel Jewelry

Wicked Mint Pillows (and more)

That's just for starters. Don't get me going on the other stores that have the perfect stuff for everyone I know.

How about you--have you purchased something from an Etsy shop? Do you have an Etsy shop, or can you recommend any? Thanks for your support!

I do not receive compensation from any of the retailers listed above.

*I need a bit of virtual hand-holding during my first purchase with somebody

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Offering It Up

I am sick.

I am currently writing this blog on my break from doing some work at home on Wednesday.

I wonder if we should tell the client that their proposal was worked on under the influence of cold medicine.

Maybe not.

I'm hoping that when I wake up tomorrow that I can laugh, saying, "Aww, that blog post I wrote yesterday when I was sick; how cute. I remember that low hour--but all is well now!" That's partly because I have a lot to do tomorrow (I mean today, Thursday), and because sickness is a mind-altering state in more ways than one.

When you are sick, you can't remember what it felt like to be well. The virus alters your memory so that good health seems like a distant dream from deep in the night, and only a whisper of recognition remains. All of your energy and time and drugs and cold-compresses and DVDs are focused on relieving all the yuckiness you're feeling at that moment, and that feels like it is never going to leave. Like your ears.

Sickness, in short, stinks. I don't mean to be such a complainer. In fact, I have always struggled a bit with my own illnesses and sufferings. I am such a baby.

Ok, so since this is still Wednesday (for me) and not Thursday (like for you), I can make a change now to focus more on redemptive suffering ("offering it up").

Colossians 1:24: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church."

"Paul doesn’t mean that Christ’s death is insufficient for universal redemption. He is simply saying that his own incorporation into the mystical body of Christ (the Church) means that his sufferings can be helpful for other members of the body (the Colossian Christians to whom he is writing). They are helpful only because Paul is united to Christ in his Church and is offering his sufferings to Christ for the sake of the Church.

In the same way, suffering souls can similarly offer up their sufferings for the benefit of others."
--Catholic Answers (Catholic.com)

Process begun. Hopefully, I can keep it going long after this cold becomes a distant dream from deep in the night, and only a whisper of recognition remains.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quite Contrary

Dreams become reality here on the blog.

Not a month ago, I was discussing my hope to one day quite soon have my own piece of land on which to grow some actual food.

Ask and it shall be given to you.

We were over at our in-laws house this weekend to celebrate Stephen's birthday, and I got a gift as well.

My mother-in-law Sandy got me this herb box with basil and oregano ALREADY GROWING IN IT! I was totally surprised and super excited that I now own food that is still growing in the ground.

Er, dirt.

To prove to all of you that I can do it--that I can really keep the botanical bounty alive--I am sharing with you how I have nurtured this box for a whole three days.

This is where I keep the herbs. Notice that it is not in the glaring sun, nor darkness. The herbs look happy, don't they?

This is me watering the herbs. I water the tops and the bottoms, as directed. I also whistle as I do this, for full whimsical gardening effect.

And this is the clearance bistro set we picked up at Target that keeps the herbs company all day. I have yet to wave at all of the commoners in my apartment complex from this set...

...but it looks like the complex is waiting for me to do just that.

I'm very much looking forward to using these herbs in some meals very soon (and seeing them continue to grow!). Homemade pesto, anyone?

Oh, and if you want to be featured on the blog, you too can buy me presents.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Comes Love, Then Comes Paperwork

As I write this, I am looking at the last of the name change paperwork to do.

My passport is less than one year old, so I just need to send it in to...the passport people, and receive my new passport with my new married name. I've already done the paperwork for the Social Security Administration, the DMV, the bank, the insurance, the voting booth, and, most importantly, the magazine subscriptions. I've received my new version of all of these things.

New new new new new. There, I think I got it all out of my system.

This name change process has really felt just like that: a process. I'm somewhat surprised that no one in my life (or no one that I asked, at least) knew where to go first to get the name change process started, or who to call.

Also, none of the wedding professionals offered much help either. There are people banging down your door when you are planning a wedding. They want to be the ones who you pay for their flowers, their cake, or their laser hair removal (Yes. Two calls.)

But when the champagne has run out and all the guests have gone, they drop you and say something to the equivalent of, "Good luck with life. Call us if you need baby shower cake."

Thankfully, I did come across a resource that was some guidance at getting the name change stuff all figured out. And, as my friends have stated, they are very glad that I am going through this process first. I'm working out all the kinks for them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

There Wasn't Anything in the Brownies

The roles have been officially switched as I helped execute a bridal shower this weekend for my dear friend, Nicole.

As a bridesmaid, I am now under a different umbrella of responsibility when it comes to weddings. No more worrying about a wedding for months and enjoying a separate party thrown by your friends. This time, it's the reverse.

And the reverse comes with a completely unanticipated lack of sleep.

I think it is because the bridesmaids are so busy (isn't that life) that we weren't able to get to a lot of the actual "doing" for this party until the night before.

Nobody tell Nicole. Not that she'd care. Unless of course she is reading this blog right now. In which case I am going to casually ease back into my original thought.

As I was saying without any break for side-thoughts, planning this shower was a whirlwind of driving throughout the greater Fresno area mixed with way-too-much late night brownie eating, all of which resulted in four delirious girls laughing way too much at things that would clearly not be as funny to people who got eight hours of shut eye.

We hunted for every yellow flower that could survive the August heat. We spent about 10 minutes contemplating whether the correct amount of limes for our centerpieces was 90 or 100. We slices and chopped and generally avoided destroying fruit and flowers as we made Martha Stewart-worthy centerpieces. And, we witnessed a 90's-era music, one-person dance party courtesy of a 60-year-old newlywed.

Not that I'll ever share such personal information with the blogosphere, of course.

All in all, planning the shower was fun, and I think everyone had a very nice time at it. Instead of worrying for months about a wedding, I worried for about 12 hours.

It was awesome.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Wedding Dress Story

Here it is, in all it's glory:

Stephen and I had a long engagement, so I thankfully had lots of time to find The Perfect Wedding Dress--the one all gals seek.

And seek I did. I sought all over the place. After looking at, literally, thousands of dresses online over a period of several weeks, I found the one I had to have.

It was a Maggie Sottero dress with an A-line skirt, fitted lace bodice with crystal beading, empire-wait satin detail and three-quarter length sleeves.

I think this dress was made for me. It was everything I wanted. Which of course means that nothing was going to stand in my way of getting it. Nothing.

A local bridal shop carries Maggie Sottero so I called them up to see if they had the gown in stock. They said no, but that they could order it if I did decide I wanted to try it at no cost of obligation to me. Since I had a lot of time (read: like, a year and a half) before the wedding that sounded fine and dandy to me.

Life was pleasant for quite a while. I would regularly check the Maggie Sottero website, making sure my dress had a good night's rest, that it had enough to eat, and make small-talk with it.* I dreamed about trying on my dress soon, picking out the rest of my wedding ensemble, and generally looking like a princess. Because real princesses wear sleeves, you know.

My dream bubble popped one Friday morning. I followed through on my normal dress-checking routine when--gasp!--it was NOT on the Maggie Sottero site.

"It must be some mistake," I thought, trying to calm myself down. "I'll call the bridal store."

I explained (read: freaked-out) to the consultant my increasingly-stressful issue, and then waited on hold while the bridal shop called the Maggie Sottero warehouse. Those were the longest two minutes of my fashion life.

The consultant returned to my line: "That dress is being discontinued. Today is the last day to order it, by three o'clock."

I didn't know hearts could sink so quickly. Disappointment--then, irrational panic.*

"I'll call you back," I said. I had gone into crazy bride mode.

At the time, my mom and I worked together, so I called her up and asked if she could come over to my office. I explained to her the situation and how this dress was going to be gone FOR ALL TIME if I didn't order it within the next 4 hours. I would not have the option of trying the dress on. All I could do was head to the bridal shop, have them take my measurements, and hope that the dress fit and that I loved it when it arrived in a few months.

Oh, and I'd have to put half of the $850 the dress would cost down that day. Talk about impulse buying. It didn't matter; I wanted that dress.*

I see now that for my mom it must have been like trying to catch 10 pounds of mud with fishnet stockings. I was spewing so much babble, I was getting to the point of hysterics. I didn't think I was one of those people who would cry about a wedding dress, but having the possibility of this dress taken away FOR ALL TIME was putting me over the edge. She tried reassuring me that life would go on, that I'd find another dress, and that it was too much money for a dress I couldn't actually try on.

After much personal debate and more tears, I put a call into Stephen (who, by the way, is off training in Georgia at this time) to let him know that the dress that I loved (a dress, mind you, that he had no idea about, or interest in) was going to be lost FOR ALL TIME. He tried to console me just like my mom had. He foolishly said things like, "You'll find another one," or "You'll look beautiful in anything."

Poor guy. He was trying to talk sense to a woman flirting with insanity.

I decided lunch was in order. As I ate, I had a revelation (read: "crazy-person" revelation). I couldn't let the dress slip away. I couldn't give up; I just had to get creative.

My creative solution was to do what any whimpering, crazy bride would do in this situation.

Check eBay.

"Maybe, just maybe, the dress will be out there," I told myself. It was just madness at that point. "People sell things like that on eBay, right? Right? RIGHT?!"

Actually, they do. With my total long shot, I typed in the maker and name of the dress and a sample that another bridal shop was getting rid of came up. In great condition. In my size. In the right shade of white.* In my madness, I convinced myself that it was fashion destiny.

"BUT WHAT DOES IT COST?!," Crazy Jen thought to herself. "WHAT IS IT?!"

Ok, for those of you at home who like to play the guessing game, I'll give you a minute...






Got your guess? Good. Ok, here's the starting bid I saw:


This initiated full freak-out mode for me.* With a shipping cost of only $25, I thought "I can totally buy a dress for $50 bucks on eBay! If I don't love it, I won't feel like I lost hundreds of dollars, and if I DO love it, I will save a ton of money!"

I suddenly got serious, and shifted from Crazy Jen into Crazy Bidding Jen. I was very closely watching this auction. I had both a desktop and laptop open to the bid (you know, in case one froze or was slow). I basically refreshed the auction every seven minutes. I was on a mission. I was only 19 hours from The Perfect Wedding Dress. One person did try to outbid me once, but because I had pre-set my max bid to, like, $200, and because I was shopping with a vengeance, I was getting this dress. There was no way they were going to take it away from me. My precious.*

The next morning came, and I opened the auction page. There was about an hour left, and I was still the top bidder. I don't think I peed or brushed my teeth until the dress was mine, at which point a did a happy dance and ran to the restroom. The dress was going to be shipped to me within the next three days. Guess what? It was shipping from a shop in Atwater. Yeah.

In three days, it did arrive. And it. Was. Perfect. I seriously loved everything about it. It fit just as I imagined it would and I knew that this dress was going to be the one I got married in.

The kicker? The final cost of the dress, shipping included, was $77.56.

That's the story, now immortalized on the blog.

*Weddings make you crazy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Look at St. Maximilian Kolbe

Saturday (August 14) is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Maximilian Kolbe.

I say favorite like when parents say they have a favorite child, or rainbows have a favorite color, or me picking a favorite food.

Ok, glad to have cleared up how I feel.

Seriously, St. Maximilian is probably one of the coolest, best examples of saintly living in the last century. He is the patron saint of journalists (which makes him inherently awesome), so I have had a special connection to him for years.

In brief, he was born in Russia-occupied Poland, grew up to be a Franciscan priest, created and published the magazine Militia of the Immaculata (on a prayer and zero capital), took his missionary work to Japan and India, returned to Poland, and was arrested alongside his brother priests--twice.

The second time, 1941, he ended up in Auschwitz.

Truly, the most awe-inspiring element of his life is his death: In July 1941, one of the prisoners in Auschwitz escaped one evening. It was not until the next morning that both the other prisoners and the guards discovered that he was gone. To scare the other prisoners out of doing the same, and as a projected punishment, the Nazi guards selected ten men from the camp to be locked away and starved to death. One of the men selected had a wife and children, and begged to live.

Father Kolbe asked to take the man's place.

While the ten men, weakened from work at the camp, should have died within a few days, they remained alive for much longer (up to two weeks) by singing hymns and praying the Rosary. Father Kolbe was the last to die. He didn't starve to death, but rather was killed by lethal injection by the guards.

There is so much to admire about a man like this. Instead of thinking things like, "I could never be that good. I could never do all that," I like to think more about achieving what I can through the same route: a service of love. St. Maximilian lived to serve our Lord and His people. And really, there isn't a better way to live.

Like so many other topics that make their way to this blog, I cannot begin to do St. Maximilian Kolbe justice here. I highly recommend reading more about him here and here, learning about the Militia of the Immaculata here, and learning a bit more about martyrdom in general here and here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Poor Planning

I do not have a new blog post today.

But instead of ignoring the blog, I thought I would let you know about my failure.

Admitting my faults is the first step towards recovery.

I apologize. I know your day will be a little sadder, a little duller, and missing its full quotient of dry, self-deprecating humor.

I'm hoping that linking you to a few cool things that have absolutely nothing to do with each other will help you forgive me.*

Do you start your day off like this?

Some crazy inventions and innovations

On Leaving The Umbrella: How Much Distrust is Too Much?

40 Uses for Baking Soda

Here are some file tote bags, developed in Fresno (and looking cute!)

*Plus, it makes me feel better on the inside.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Can't See Why I'm Waiting So Long

Back in 2007, I underwent LASIK eye surgery. For the most part things have been good. I can see way more of this beautiful world than I did before. I can drive without glasses, which feels like a victory greater than the Super Bowl. Life is good.

My vision has regressed slightly, so I have to go in more than other LASIK-ers to get it checked on. Every visit, the Doc asks how things are going, I promise that I have been using the readers he gave me when on the computer*, he pats me on my head, and I leave. It's a ritual we repeat every 3-6 months, without any variations.

However, the required wait time at the doctor's office is just ridiculous.

I know.

You're thinking, "Is she really going to talk about the optometrist? It's only Tuesday; this week is hard enough already."

If you stick with me for the next two minutes, I think you'll find we're on the same side.

Most of my doctors have a system. The basic system goes something like this:

Patient makes appointment.
Patient waits several weeks for appointment.
Patient arrives on time for appointment.
Patient waits in waiting room with wrinkled old magazines, screaming kids and interesting carpet.
Doctor's assistant calls in patient and confirms why the heck patient is there.
Patient goes into another waiting room, with more wrinkled magazines, after being called in.
Doctor finally arrives and warmly greets the patient.
Doctor vaguely remembers things about patient and patient's medical history.
Doctor cheats and looks at his notes to remember patient's medical history.
Doctor and patient decide quite quickly on a resolution, sometimes involving expensive prescriptions.
Doctor and patient toss around niceties for 30-45 seconds.
Doctor leaves.
Doctor bills patient an exorbitantly large amount of money.

I agree with all of you who are saying, right now, "We need qualified doctors." We absolutely do. And, to get qualified doctors, we need doctors that learn their stuff in many years of med school and residency and all that jazz. Trust me, the doctor's earn their money.

I'm just not so convinced that they have earned our time.

In any other business, if you were made to wait an hour upon making an appointment, you'd find somebody else. Yet we accept this at the doctor's office. This could be our modern impatience talking, but waiting an hour for a five-minute appointment, that I scheduled three weeks ago, and arrived on time for, is unacceptable.

Let's not even call it an appointment. Let's call it a meeting--no, let's call it a commercial break.

And since I pause and fast-forward through most commercials now-a-days, this is extra annoying.

I know some of you must work in a doctor's office or other medical clinic where patients make appointments. You have to deal with a lot, and I understand that part of the issue is walk-ins (those that don't make appointments) and other unpredictables. But, can't anything be done? Your insight would be appreciated.

Thanks for your suggestions. Your time is valuable.

*I may or may not be wearing them now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Big Cut (With Pictures!)

My slacking has finally paid off, because I now have pictures that are worthwhile enough to post on the blog.

Since I bet you can barely calm your excitement, I'll get right to them.

On Friday, I had the big haircut for Locks of Love. They need 10 inches of hair times 6-10 ponytails for each hairpiece. I was able to do my part by donating a lot of the hair that I had grown out for the wedding.

So here's the before picture:

And the back of the before:

And here is the after (front):

And back:

Which looks all right, but is not as cute as...

...curling it (and letting my natural curl come through (By the way, these pictures are from the Fig Fest at Fresno State this weekend. This is my sister and me next to the large fig. Yes, we know what it looks like.)

So there you go! A post with pictures. I'll try to make it a more common occurrence here on the blog.

You know, so that you can get in on all the awesome stuff I do, like this:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Put the Shirt Down and No One Gets Hurt

Based on requests, and subliminal messaging (oh yeah), I will be dedicating this Fashion Friday post to impulse shopping.

Not that I have ever done that.

I mean, everything I purchase is planned. My closet is well-stocked because I have strategized. Each piece was a deliberate addition to my wardrobe. I....


I can't lie to you people. You're all such wonderful readers. You deserve better. The truth is that, yes, I, Jennifer Huerta, am guilty of impulse buying. I have purchased clothing on a whim and looked at it days later with disdain as it hung in my closet. All those tagged items just hanging there for months.

I think the idea of impulse shopping can be good. New environment. Fresh ideas via mannequins. Warm pretzels.

It's the buying part that always seems to get me into trouble. "Looking around" is harmless. It's that "picking it up, trying it on and loving it" part that is dangerous.

My Achilles' heel is online shopping; to me, it's that much easier to buy that cute top online or to check out e-bay.* Some of the sites that I frequent even store my shipping information for me.

Darned cookies.

So, to remedy my own sad situation, to save myself from running into debt, and to bring you the best fashion-y post I could this Friday, I've dedicated some time to figuring out WHY I impulse shop.

In my deep, self-revealing analysis (that took several minutes, interspersed with scouring YouTube and enjoying my tea), I've learned something about impulse buying.

Bad people do it.

OK, that's harsh. It's GOOD people doing BAD things. See, we have good intentions with our impulse buying. We think it's harmless. But really, we're not fooling anyone but ourselves.

You and I are usually plagued with any (or all) of the following vices when we decide to impulse buy. And, because my reflection also supplied me with some answers, I'm passing those along to you:

VICE - Ignorance: You truly have no idea what's in your closet. The inter monologue usually goes something like this: "Oooh! I've been needing new boots/a raincoat/neon tights." I'm betting you don't.
REMEDY: You think you're missing this piece (and yeah, you might be missing this exact piece), but you likely have 17 other items that fit into the piece's general category of clothing-ness.** The best thing to do is work with what you have and get creative.

VICE - Deception: Impulse buys promise you something. "I am the missing piece. You'll never have to buy another accessory as long as you live! How have you lasted this long without me?" What they should be saying is, "I hope you like car payments."
REMEDY: The above advice works for this. Plus, don't think that any one piece could make up for versatile styling of stuff you already have. A good portion of the time, you can create some cool outfits with your current wardrobe.

VICE - Greed - You hate this, but...you want things. You want things you don't need. You want things no one needs. "Oh, it's the newest fall color?! Well, then, I have to get something in that color! My summer stuff will never work." You convince yourself that new = better.
REMEDY: A lot of colors work year-round. This goes for cuts, patterns, etc. Your closet probably already has all the stuff you need--and could want--for fall.

VICE - Jealousy: You also hate this: You want things that other people have. "Co-worker/so-and-so celebrity/cool kid wore something just like this. I bet I could rock it!"
REMEDY: They may have looked good in it, but is it really your style? Just make the little sacrifice and don't buy this item. And hey, maybe you can borrow it. Unless you saw it on a celebrity. Then you're probably out of luck. Anyway...

VICE - Stupidity: You've totally lost your mind: "Ah, buying this will make me look thinner!"
REMEDY: Know your pitfalls. If a shirt promises to slim you/highlight your eyes/raise your children, and this is something that preoccupies you when you are not shopping, just walk away.

VICE - Loftiness: You have big aspirations, but haven't really planned out how to execute them. "I've been meaning to transition my style into a more contemporary-romantic-goth look."
REMEDY: The best thing to do is plan. Plan plan plan. Think through what you actually want to wear. If this means making over your closet one piece at a time, so be it. Just don't make that first piece an impulse buy.

VICE - Weakness/Susceptibility: It's shiny. It's new. It promises so many things. Maybe it's catching you at your most vulnerable. "Oh no! My best friend is moving away/My football team lost/Facebook is down." You convince yourself that having this clothing will fix things: "This will be way better than my current three-quarter sleeve red cable-knit sweater! That thing is pilling, This sweater will never do that! Look at the quality--and it's cashmere!"
REMEDY: The impulse buy that will do you a lot better during this time is a cupcake and a talk with a good friend. Text them so that the Facebook thing doesn't make you even sadder.

In general, chances are good that you have options other than impulse buys (like borrowing clothes and reexamining your own closet) to refresh your current wardrobe. To keep from making impulse purchases, you really should try to avoid these vices and implement the remedies when needed. You should also try to avoid using so many exclamation points during your inner monologue; you could go totally deaf. Take it easy.

Hey, that request was fun. Maybe I'll take some more requests. Have any? Have a good weekend! (Oh no! I'm doing it, too!)

*I still have to share my wedding dress story with you people. Maybe next week.

**You've probably figured this out by now, but sometimes I make up words.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Present Pressure

In one week, I'll be celebrating my husband's birthday for the first time. He will be 25 (that old guy).

And instead of showing off my culinary prowess at home, we'll likely head out to dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, Tahoe Joe's. Having someone else cook for us ends up being a present for me, too.

However, I'm pretty stuck on gifts.*

There are things he needs. There are things he wants. And surprisingly, these things are not the same things, nor are they affordable things.

He's looking at a bunch of stuff at Best Buy that all begin with weird combinations of numbers and letters. When he describes these items, I usually know that--even though I love him very much--I can stop listening to what he says because I will not understand what the item Stephen is describing actually is. I will not be able to discern the best/loudest/most kick-butt version of said letters-and-numbers device from the other letters-and-numbers devices. I would likely pick up the wrong thing and ruin the birthday.

If I go the "things he needs" route, Stephen could end up looking like a better dressed man. He could benefit physically from getting a suit, and I could benefit emotionally from helping him find one. So many cuts, patterns, and colors to choose from! And shoes!


If I'm more excited about a gift than I expect the receiver to be, it's not really a gift; is it?

Obviously, I need your help. I've already thought of gift card, but...bleh. I'm the wife. I have to do better than that. Suggestions?

*I feel fairly safe discussing Stephen's birthday gift on this public blog. Stephen's reading rate of this page is, like, 1 out of 10 posts. My odds are good he'll never know.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Getting Sucked In By The Good Stuff

Television is one of those tricky media.

While you can find great shows that teach and share, and you can experience events as they happen (like sports, politics and other important stuff), TV can also be a serious time suck. You're flipping channels one afternoon, and before you know it you've spent two hours entrapped in the bowels of daytime television.

But enough talk of reality shows.

We have AT&T U-verse, which is different than the Comcast Stephen and I were used to before moving into our current apartment. While skeptical at first, we actually really like it. However, much like you can get trapped in all of TV's offerings, you can get mesmerized at the sheer number of channels. For example, to listen to some of the music stations our package provides, you start at channel 5100.

Yeah. So when I went on my mission to find some of my favorite channels, I was concerned it would be a fruitless hunt, and that I'd be sucked in by more new-to-me-but-not-good-at-all television.

Thankfully I found EWTN yesterday evening just in time to listen to a talk by Father John Corapi.

I seriously love Fr. Corapi. I listen to him on the radio (1250 AM in Fresno and 1240 AM in Clovis) every chance I get (which unfortunately isn't often). When I get a minute or two at work, I'll listen to him online at Immaculate Heart Radio. But, I had forgotten that his recorded lectures also appear on EWTN at 7:30 p.m.

He really knows his stuff when it comes to the Catholic faith, and you'll soak up everything he says because you can feel his passion and love for our Lord. His personal testimony alone will give you chills. If you're looking to learn more (or start learning) about the faith, or just want to hear a great speaker, you'll really enjoy his lectures.

Way better than Cake Boss.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Borrowing Brains

Recently, a coworker of mine left our office to re-enter the big world of behind-the-scenes politics. She had applied for a job in L.A. and our Fresno office was really rooting for her. I know she has a passion for what she is doing now because when she was describing the requirements of her new job--namely, raising millions of dollars for a particular political candidate in a matter of weeks--she had a huge smile on her face.

My nausea level was somewhere between "long car ride" and "loopy-loop roller coaster" as I imagined having that same responsibility.


I guess someone has to do that kind of thing.

Anyway, now that she is tackling that job, the office she's left behind has redistributed some of her work. In splitting up her former projects, I think I got a good deal.

I'm working on some of her projects with clients that are readily available, are well-informed, and are generous with their information. While most of our clients are smarterrific, they are also on time constraints. I am counting my blessings that my clients have time for my calls and e-mails.

It's just too bad that along with her extensive notes and examples of past reports that I couldn't get a flash drive with my former coworker's brain powers in it. There are just some things that the person who has worked on a project for so long just knows.

When you're with someone for so long, you have information that you assume is inherent but is actually subtly learned over time. You know the client's history. You learn their operations and bureaucracy (if applicable*). You might even learn their favorite breakfast pastry over a meeting or two.

When meeting yesterday with one of these very clients, I could feel myself asking questions that I knew my co-worker would have covered months ago. It was sort of like being a pinch-hitter on a date: "Sorry so-and-so couldn't make your movie date, but I can take us for pizza. Oh, you're lactose intolerant? Hmmm, funny, that wasn't in my notes...."

I just need time to get caught up.

You know, caught up before the client's deadline in two weeks.

*Who am I kidding: it's always applicable.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quarterly Report

Stephen and I have been married three months, which means it's time for our first quarterly report:

Investments in time, money and laundry detergent are up.

However, returns on love, laughs and understanding are also up.

Waistlines are expanding (we really need to diet), and despite an increase in market vulnerability--highlighted by an unprojected $800 loss for new tires--the Huertas have shown good growth over the first quarter. With the anticipated purging of unnecessary assets, growth should continue.

We're saving our pennies for more investments in the near future, so I'll share a money saving recipe we tried this weekend: Trinidadian Chicken Stew. It's a good recipe to make and eat leftovers during the week. Don't be afraid to make ingredient substitutions. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you want to invest in our stock, please feel free. I'll be here all week.