My sweet kitty Kat

Even when it is completely expected, the loss of a friend hurts so badly you wonder if the hole in your chest will ever be filled with something other than tears. I know – in my head, because I lost my dear dad two and a half years ago – that eventually it does, for the most part. Most of it becomes filled with great memories, although there is always that little bit of pain that will make you stop and hold your breath for a moment, as you struggle to go on in a world that doesn’t have your loved one any more.

I met Katrina when I started working at Mervyn’s in Mountain View, California. She was the nicest, most hardworking person and we became friends. Over the years our friendship had its ups and downs but in the end, it lasted twenty-three years. I am lucky and honored to have known this courageous woman, with her gentle sweetness and unlimited love for her family. You see, Kat never wanted fame or glory, wealth or power, she just wanted to marry her sweetheart and have lots of babies to care for. She did the first and had three sweet, amazingly well mannered children with him. She taught them those manners while her husband was away in the military much of the time, and I gave her many props for doing such a great job. I will always remember bringing my oldest over when he was a couple of months old, and Kat’s youngest saw he had no shoes (it was very warm) so he went and got his doll’s shoes and brought them “for your baby” — and seven years later, he is still a kind boy who plays so nicely with my son even though they’re 3 years apart.

As ALS began to take her body away, bit by bit, Kat never lost her grace, courage, and smile. Another Mervyn’s friend and I started to come over for “munch brunches” every month, we’d bring tasty treats and chat and eat, laugh and share for a couple of hours. When Kat became unable to eat solids, we would bring something to drink instead. She loved having me rub her arms and legs to help with the nerve pain that was a constant. I loved to give her manicures, she and I always loved burgundies and plums, and during our chats I would always throw in a few swear words to make her smile.

One of the last times we talked, I was asking her how her husband and children were doing with her worsening condition. I always made sure that if she needed to talk, she knew she could just unload with me. I have to thank Steve for that. He told me, maybe she wants to talk about it but doesn’t think people want to hear about it. So I asked the tough questions and she answered candidly. But that one time, she turned it on me. She asked me, “and how are you doing with my condition?”. I looked up because I was rubbing one of her hands, looked at her beautiful, caring eyes, and completely lost it. I thought that shit only happened in the movies. Noooooo. I started to sob, and made her cry too, but I told her how important she was to me, that I would miss her terribly, that I hated ALS, that I had a list of people I would prefer to have ALS instead of her (that one made her smile), and pretty much sobbed out my love for her for the next five minutes. Through her own tears, she told me “you’re my sister.”

I know, Kat. I know. And you were mine. And like I mentioned that day, my Wednesdays and Fridays will be empty now. No more sweet kitty Kat visits for now. I know we will meet again, and you will be able to breathe as deeply as you wish, and fly free of all that horrible pain. We’ll have sundaes for breakfast, I promise, I know that was your favorite. You gave me that cupcake holder and told me it was “so you won’t forget me” — you silly, silly Kat. How could I ever forget you? From our Mervyn’s breaks racing to the bakery for carrot cake, to spilling an entire 40 oz. cup of soda at the chiropractor’s office, to your love of “purple stuff” (a Peruvian dessert), to our favorite movie, The Cutting Edge, to manicures and massages and everything our friendship was, and more, you will always be part of my life.

I will miss you forever, sweet friend, my sister of the heart, brave warrior princess (your own words, and so true) who looked ALS in the eye and said “you won’t take my spirit”. And it never did. Love you lots, Kat.

Made by Girl bracelet

Like my gorgeous bracelet? It is a birthday gift ;D

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I wore it for Thanksgiving with a bunch of skinny bracelets on either side and it looked great.

Made by Girl also carries this bracelet in fuchsia and dark brown, I wanted something very neutral so I chose the camel color but I was tempted by the fuchsia as well. Hmmm, maybe for Christmas ;D

Food coma

Holy crap, that was a lot of food. And I didn’t even have turkey! Steve made an awesome bacon-wrapped pork loin so I went for that. And my mama’s world famous sweet potatoes with marshmallows. And Steve’s fabulous apple crisp.

My mom’s neighbor makes these adorable turkeys — mom bought a bunch and sent them to me for my table settings:

Don’t they look sweet?

I had set the table like this:

And then I remembered we were also having butternut squash bisque, so I had to re-do my settings to add the bowl – oops!

The little guys had to move to the chargers:

Here is the aforementioned pork loin; it was so moist and yummy!

And the bisque, which I will be enjoying later:

We have a silicone mold that we used for the cornbread:

They turned out so cute, little leaves and pumpkins.

Huge biscuits, gingery honey carrots, and the sweet potato/marshmallow casserole in the back:

We also had delicious turkey breast made by my in-laws, stuffing and gravy, green bean casserole, spicy lentils (kind of random, but I made them last year and people liked them), garlic mash, sweet potato medallions with caramelized walnuts, and I am sure I am forgetting more stuff, but it was all yummy and most of it was made by my awesome husband. Our cousin J brought a fabulous veggie basket with all sorts of goodies, including my favorite olives from Trader Joe’s.

We had a great time, and the boys had a blast playing with their cousins. We have big bellies and happy hearts. I hope your thanksgiving was a great one!

So thankful

Tomorrow we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. I was not born or raised in the U.S., but my parents and I celebrated Thanksgiving because we found a new start here.

I am an incredibly lucky girl and have so much to be thankful for — my husband and sweet boys, my mama, memories of my dear dad, lovely friends and family who support me, and last but definitely not least, all the wonderful people I have met online, including my sweet readers!!

For those of you celebrating this most American of holidays, I wish you good times with your loved ones. If this is just another Thursday for ya, then I hope it’s a good one ;D

We’re not letting it mellow

When we moved into this house eight years ago, the living room was painted a dismal grayish-peach that made the space look small and drab. Wanting to lighten it up, I chose a buttery yellow for the walls. My husband Steve wanted a tan color for the trim so this is what we went with:

Both colors by Behr.

Eight years later, I’d had it with the yellow walls. So had my husband. We knew we wanted a warm neutral since those are the colors we gravitate to, our living room is filled with browns, creams, tans, reds, so to throw a grey or pure white wasn’t going to work. Steve picked Chamois Cloth by Behr, which looked lovely on the paint card, but it turned out to be pink. We don’t do pink. I do pink occasionally in my clothes, but pink walls are not us. Here are the painted and unpainted areas side by side after the Chamois Cloth snafu:

So it was my turn to get paint, and since it’s closer, I went to Lowe’s and got Valspar’s Cream in my Coffee:

Yes, that’s my youngest helping out, and you can see the difference between the yellow walls and the new color. Not a huge difference, just a subtle de-yellow-ing that left our walls looking brighter.

The color was a bit lighter than my husband had imagined, I think, he kept mentioning tans and that he wanted “color”, but he ended up liking it because a) our house is so dark that we need all the brightening up we can, and b) because it made for a peaceful, serene backdrop and accents in bright colors could then shine.

Speaking of our youngest, Alex, I have to say that one of the things I love the most about Steve is that he encourages the kids to jump in and help with whatever we’re doing, as long as it’s safe for them. Alex asked if he could help so out came a little roller he could handle and after covering up the floor, off he went to roll paint on the wall to his heart’s content.

Alex kept saying how happy he was to help — it was such a big deal for him to work alongside mommy and daddy! It was a big deal for us, too 😀

Another shot of the new color on the walls:

I love how our wrought iron “pops” with the creamy walls. Even though the color is lighter, the living room feels calmer without all that yellow. We are super happy with the results and if you ask Alex, he will grab your hand and show you the wall he helped paint ;D

Pantone Fall 2012 colors

I swear, I wait for Pantone to release their seasonal colors as if it meant I’m getting an entire wardrobe each time or something. I’m just a color addict and love to see what the “in” colors are supposed to be each season.

This time there are some gorgeous hues among the chosen ten:

Take the first two of each row and it’s pretty much what I’m trying to throw at my house in the hopes some of it will stick 😀

We have been adding a lot of dark chocolate brown (or coffee brown, I guess, since it’s named French Roast) around the house. Less harsh than black and warmer, we painted the new mantel my husband built and repainted our bathroom cabinets in a similar shade.

I say similar because it’s obviously not the same, and according to my husband, I am a tetrachromat – what? I’ve never been called such a thing in my life!!! WTF??? Oh. It means I can see way more colors than other people. I don’t know if it’s necessarily true but he said it after I showed him 8 paint chips so he could choose one for our living room and he said they all looked the same to him. “What?” I said, “this one’s pinker, and that one’s warmer, and that greenish one, I don’t like that one . . . ” — ergo, tetrachromat.

But as usual, I digress.

The next color, Honey Gold, is so close (again, tetrachromat) to the wall color in our bathroom. My husband calls it orange – hello! – but to me it’s a warm, glowy golden yellow.

Pink Flambe, I swear, is one of the few pinks I can wear. I have olive skin with yellow/green undertones and pastel or soft pinks are not a good thing on me. I was actually eyeing this bracelet from the awesome Jen Ramos as a birthday (I’m 41, yay! boo!) present but I chose a different color. The bracelet is a little bluer than Pink Flambe (tetrachromat!) but close enough.

Tangerine Tango is the color of 2012 — this fall I am sprinkling throughout the house a few glitter take out cartons in a similar shade of orange. I found them in the dollar bins at Target – score!

Ultramarine Green is, sadly, a color I absolutely cannot wear. It’s too blue and makes my skin look gray. Boo.

Bright Chartreuse is one of my new best friends. I LOVE this bright yellowy green! I found these chess-themed candlesticks also at the dollar bins at Target, they were’ $2.50 each.

Olympian Blue is a little darker shade of my beloved turquoise but I like it nonetheless, it is close to the ribbon trim on my glammed up poster frame:

The last three colors, Titanium, Rhapsody, and Rose Smoke, pretty much have no room in my life 😀 I am not a grey girl, I like my purples darker and redder, and don’t like pinky beiges. Yeah, the love ended right before those three.

So there you have it, my run down of the latest and greatest from Pantone – which colors do you like?

Have you?

For you.
For your family.
For your friends.
For your future.
I hope you have, and if you haven’t and are in the right age bracket and/or have family history of breast cancer — go do it!

Cold weather comfort

I planned this post before temperatures started soaring in my neck of the woods, but although we’re in the eighties here for a couple of days, I am still enjoying my cup of tea in the mornings. And, it should be colder in a few days. Right? Right??

Recently my husband and I have been enjoying some hot and comforting beverages to ward off the chill in the mornings and late evenings. He tends to go for the spicy and full bodied (hmm, wait a minute) while I enjoy whatever kind of new-to-me tea is my current favorite.

From left to right, this is what we are enjoying right now:
Yogi Detox tea – No, I am not doing any sort of actual detox, but I was looking for something for cooler weather and the herb/flavor mix seemed right up my alley. It tastes so good, with a hint of spice but still calming and comforting. Even my husband, who is not into teas unless it’s chai, asked me what it was because it smells so good. I got it at my regular grocery store.

Wang Derm Thai Iced Tea – We love to drink thai iced tea, and last night we enjoyed a nice chilled glass of it after my husband had been cleaning out the garage all day. Because I try to avoid dairy and this was made with condensed sweet milk, it is not something I will have often, particularly in the coming cold months, but it was such a treat.

Celestial Chamomile Tea – Love, love, love this. I make it most evenings as part of my evening routine, and it reminds me of the tea the nuns used to make at the school’s nurse’s office whenever I had stomach issues. Now I know it was probably all that dairy I was drinking when I was little – d’oh! This is found just about everywhere.

Twinings Winter Spice – Steve bought this one and I am a total convert. It is sort of a mix between my beloved chamomile and the detox tea above. It has the chamomile base flavor with spices added. Also found everywhere during the cold months.

The last two are two David Rio Chai blends we got at World Market:
Flamingo Vanilla (pink tin) – I like this one because it has more of a vanilla kick, is decaffeinated, and I can make it with my rice milk. The Orca Spice blend in the blue tin has more of a spice blend and it is also great with any non-dairy milk. Or dairy, obviously, just not for me ;D

These are some of our current favorites, nothing was gifted or given to us, it’s just a few comments on what we are enjoying lately. Hope your week is a great one!

Behind the scenes with the Xenomorph

My husband spent about 40-50 hours making the costume, including the entire night before Halloween. I did my best to keep him fed and Mountain Dew-ed but that was pretty much the extent of my contribution, this project was all him.

Here are some pics I took during the making of the Xenomorph costume:

The wire frame for the head.

The torso, made up of wire ribbing with duct tape over it, blackout vinyl, electrical conduit, pipe insulation, and vacuum hose. The back horns/pipes are made up of pool noodles.

My little vampire (so cute with his missing teeth!) putting on the helmet that supported the head:

The head structure during drying time

There are two pieces of clear plastic on the top — made from soda bottles — which is where my boy could see out of. It was very hard to see him, though, which made for a better illusion.

Thank you to everyone who has posted/emailed us such nice comments. I think Steve rocked it out of the park with this costume and I’m so proud of him! Have a great weekend!!