Sunday, November 30, 2008

endings and beginnings

Tonight marked the end of my Twilight ending experience. I am sad it is over, but oh so happy I got caught up in the hype long enough to enjoy a great story line. No matter your opinions regarding the series, I have loved reading the books. They are fabulous.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of me working in a new position with new hours. For the past 6 months I have been working from 6am to 3pm. Crazy, I know. But necessary for the work I did with our East coast clients. Well, I thankfully received a promotion. My first real promotion, actually. And not only will I be doing work I enjoy and went to school for, but I will be working from 8-5. Like a normal person. And Peter and I will be able to carpool. Yeah, I will miss getting off at 3 and having more time to run errands and relax. But I will not miss crawling out of my warm bed at 4:40 every morning and getting ready in the cold dark while Peter quietly continues to snooze. Not worth it. Not at all.

giving thanks in portland

We celebrated Thanksgiving this past week in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. These two cities are just a river apart and we spent some time in both. Peter's aunt and family live in Vancouver, so we spent Thanksgiving day in their home, complete with zwiebach, ham, turkey, sweet pickles (gross to some of you, but I love them), and the rest of the traditional carb-laden but oh-so-yummy side dishes.

Friday and Saturday were spent in Portland--such a fun city! We went to the World Forestry Center (which is not nearly as boring as it sounds) and walked through the famous Rose Garden. Although there was obviously a lack of roses this time of year, the scenery and view of the sity was amazing. We had lunch at Elephant Deli, a upscale deli with so many wonderful choices. I decided I could eat here everyday if I had the chance. If ever in Portland, you must check it out. We continued the day by walking and shopping our way through Pioneer Courthouse Square. We were lucky to have dry weather--cold and overcast, but dry. Perfect.

Saturday was spent at the Portland Saturday market. An amazing street fair with local artisans, right along the river. The people, food, and handmade goods were so eclectic. I loved it. I walked away with a handmade ceramic spoonrest.

The 13 hour drive with 6 other people was a challenge, I will be honest. Although we all love each other, by about the 6th hour, we were all irritated. No one could say or do anything right. My plan to take a few dramamines and sleep the majority of the way was successful, although sleeping for 13 straight hours in a car is pretty impossible. But we made it, and I had a great time. I would love to go back to the city with Peter. Maybe in the summer. It is a beautiful place with old buildings, bridges, interesting people, and great shopping. A perfect combination.

at the world forestry center

rose garden amphitheater

skyline over the willamette river

loved this building near the saturday market

happy thanksgiving!

made in oregon

Thursday, November 20, 2008

thank you

A big thank you to my husband and family for a great birthday. I spent the day at work, but was able to leave a little early and get a surprise massage :). That evening I opened up gifts with my family and then went to a nice dinner with Peter at one of our downtown faves, Mama Roomba.

I have been trying to fill these built-ins with white serving pieces. I still want to paint or stain the shelves in the future, but want them to look cute in the meantime. Many of these pieces were a birthday gift from Peter's parents and my sister-in law--Thank you! They look fabulous, kick start my collection, and will be great additions to my table.

I was quite shocked when I opened this gift from my husband (and parents). Truthfully, I was expecting a bike basket and the fourth Twilight book. The book I received (thank goodness, because I was going through withdrawals) but this was a complete surprise....

A KitchenAid mixer! I have been wanting one forever and have been frequently stealing my moms. I have mentioned to Peter that I love the Martha Stewart blue color mixer and he surprised me with it! Of course, in true Toni fashion, I screamed and clapped my hands really fast as soon as I ripped off the paper--I love it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

happy birthday

to me!

Plans include work (boo) and dinner out with my husband (yay!)

Edited to add: plans also included getting off work early and enjoying a company paid massage!
And receiving some fabulous gifts!! (more on those later)

Monday, November 17, 2008


My sister and I went to the Carrie Underwood concert last Friday. Carrie definitely did not disappoint. Fresh off the heels of her big CMA win, she put on an amazing show. She sang every song I really wanted to hear and some fun covers too. And her voice? Aaaamazing. Seriously.

me . nikki

vanessa . nikki . toni . jill

Thursday, November 13, 2008

birthday list

So my birthday is next week. I know all of your are just dying to know what I want. I give you even more. I will tell you what I NEED. Here are a couple options....

Now the Hawaiian Chair is a little pricey, I know that. But I am moving to a new office soon, and this chair would just really make the transition that much better. So maybe it could be a combined birthday and Christmas gift.

Or...if you are watching those pennies a little more carefully, I would also love to receive one of these. The red color please, so it can double as a monk outfit for next Halloween.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

it's back

I love this show. I love, pretty much all, Bravo reality shows, but this one takes the cake. It combines drama, competition, interesting personalities, and food--all the necessary components for an amazing hour of television. I am super excited for season 5 to start tonight!

Will Chef Tom be as brutally honest as ever? Will Padma continue to wear completely ridiculous outfits and pretend to know a ton about food? Will the contestants have to prepare an entire 5 course meal using only canned food? Will Stephanie come back as a guest judge? More importantly, will Sam or Ilan come back??

Ahh!! I cant wait for it to start!

Monday, November 10, 2008

saturday at the coliseum

We spent Saturday tailgating and watching the USC game with friends. We bought tickets a few months ago, and Jay and Jill shared Dave and Angie's season tickets. Luckily, we were all able to sit together for the entire game.

Highlights included:

Spending time with these people...

Dave and Angie, us, Jay and Jill

-Finding creative ways to light the bbq...umm, excuse me sir, do you have a cigarrette we can borrow?
-Yummy food

-The strange, confused (high?) woman who had her eye on my purse, demanded a piece of bread, settled for a cookie and then placed it on the ground a few feet later. Only to pick it back up again and take a bite. Only to place it on the ground a few feet later...

-The USC lifer who wore maroon velour pants (what is it with
ladies in velour at sporting events?), made her own necklaces, covered her eyes on every play, and high fived with everyone in site (including Jill and Peter)
-Kettle corn

-The USC victory!

Friday, November 7, 2008

buddy poppys

These small, red flowers are dear to my heart. They are provided (with a donation) as a fundraiser by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and benefit disabled and needy veterans around the country. What is really neat, is that those veterans who will directly benefit from the monies raised are also they ones who assemble the small sweet flowers. Programs are set up in VA hospitals to make the buddy poppys and active VFW members set up outside grocery stores and shops to offer them to the public.

I grew up watching my grandpa sell these every year. For Pop, buddy poppy time was a season of the year, we all knew when it was coming and knew he would be out in the community every day. He was a very active member in his local VFW, serving as President for many years. I have so so many memories of being with him at VFW events, he was a dedicated military man and a dedicated VFW member. He was also the most sweet and gentle man with white hair and a deep love for his family.

So today, when I walked up to Vons and saw those sweet men with their white hair and pin-covered VFW hats, I felt the lump in my throat and new I would have to stop on my way out. And I did. And I told them my grandpa sold these for many years and he was very, very dear to me and I miss him very much. And then I walked out to my car and called my mom and texted my brother to tell them it was buddy poppy time. And closed the door and cried.

So if you see these sweet men with white hair and pin-covered hats, please consider stopping by. You could drop in fifty cents and they would love you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


So one of my favorite thing about working downtown is the abundance of cool shops, fun restaurants, and antique stores all within walking (or short driving distance). Yesterday I took advantage of and spent my lunch hour wandering around Woolworths, my favorite antique shop. My parents used to take us here when we were younger, so they could shop around and we could eat at the old fashioned lunch counter. It is a very charming place. While I could have spent well over an hour there and purchased many things, I was looking for something specific. A small bedside table for the guest room.

shown in the front room while the bedroom is being painted

I found it. Not sure how "antique" it is. But is the perfect size, shape, and finish. Needless to say, it was a successful lunch hour.

Piece by piece, the room is coming along!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The beginning of every month I write in my planner things I want to accomplish or fun events I am looking forward to that month. I thought I would share them here as well. no particular order

Finishing the ceiling/walls of guest bedroom (maybe this week!)

Trying new soup recipes

Reading third Twilight book (thanks Jill!)

Twilight movie (ahhh...Edward Cullen)

Thanksgiving in Vancouver/Portland

Carrie Underwood concert

Sean and Allie's wedding!

USC game with friends

Making my Christmas list

Deciding what colors to decorate my Christmas tree (last year was red and gold)

Pumpkin anything (pie, muffins, bread, cake, coffee…)

Colored leaves

My Birthday!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

fall back

Thank you daylight savings time. Not only did I get an extra hour of sleep this morning. But tomorrow (and for the next couple weeks at least ) when I have to leave at for work at 5:35 am, it wont be pitch black outside. And I appreciate that. Maybe I can trick myself into thinking I actually start work at a normal hour....

baked goods

So I have been on a baking kick lately. Which is not exactly a good thing. I would be much more proud to say I have been on a grapefruit for every meal kick, or a salad with no dressing kick, but that will probably never happen, so moving on. I usually make chocolate chip cookies every couple weeks, but all these yummy recipes floating around have tempted me even more.

I saw these pumpkin muffins on her site a couple weeks ago and thought they looked scrumptious. And then she made them too, and I know I just had too. The recipe was simple (I used pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon, instead of all the individual spices) and added the optional streusal topping. Except I didnt have any nuts, so I used oats instead and it worked great. So, thanks Sharon for the inspiration!

ready to go in the oven

I am hoping this method of freezing fresh pumpkin Pioneer Woman talked about works for canned pumpkin too. Because I have a feeling I have a couple more batches of pumpkin muffins in my future and I need that baby to last

I also made a Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf this week. It was also very good. I dont have any pictures but here is the recipe. I added more lemon zest and juice for a stronger lemon flavor. The addition of plain yogurt makes it super moist and keeps the butter consumption a little lower, which is always good. No matter what Paula or Ina say...

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon zest (I used about 5)
1/4 cup poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heavily grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
4. Mix lemon juice and yogurt together and add alternately with the sifted flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until just blended. Stir in lemon rind and poppy seeds. Pour mixture into prepared pans and smooth tops.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 minutes or until browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes before turning out of pans.