Thursday, March 27, 2008


The name of this park is Shabarum Park, but for some reason whenever I say the name I want to sing Shapoopi, from The Music Man. That was a really fun musical, both to watch and participate in, ( I was in the crew when my high school did that show). "Shapoopi shapoopi shapoopi, the girl is hard to get..." So silly, and innocent, I think that is why I love musicals. They are an escape, into a world of life and color and expression. Fun fun fun! Well not all musicals are as lighthearted and mindless, but the early ones at least were.

Aaaaaanyway, I wanted to tell you all about this beautiful secret, Shabarum. This summer a friend and I wanted to go for a hike. But where was there a trail in this asphalt jungle? I wasn't familiar with any good hiking trails, and walking the mall was NOT an option, so I called up my friend Rod, the local hiking trails connoisseur. He told me about Shabarum Park, a place he had recently discovered and was thrilled with.

Shabarum is located just across the street from the Puente Hills Mall. No wonder I never noticed this unlikely trail. Two seemingly opposite places sitting just across the street from the other. Yet there it was. And it was lovely, but only after you put a good 40 minutes into the hike. At that point the houses and businesses begin looking small enough to not be distracting from the view around you. In the distance (of the above picture) you can see rooftops, and this is also the point where the hike begins to get exciting!

Still no matter how high we got, and how small the city became, we could not completely forget it. These two towers were eerie reminders of the marks we have left on this world. They stood there as sentinels, alone and out of their element, but surveying the land nonetheless. I envied them, and the beautiful sunsets and sunrises they must see everyday.

These ghostly reeds almost made me believe we were in a different world. Like some place out of the fantasy books I read. I never knew places like this were so close. There aren't many, and you can imagine how many people we bumped into on the trail, still it was refreshing. There is something truly cathartic about exploring nature, and exerting your energy in the process. And as you sweat, the beads forming around your brow, your breaths becoming deeper and more calculated, your strides feeling more taxing than before, your mind and body at bay to the rigorous climb, your spirit is suddenly freed. Free to run around and play, to hide in the ghostly reeds, to explore the blue skies, and just rejoice in the realization that there is something greater at work here, and thank God for that.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meatless Meals: Update

I have been having fun experimenting with my dinners recently. I already had a vegan cook book, Student’s Go Vegan, which I acquired when I decided to go dairy-free almost a year ago. But I never fully explored the recipes, until now.

Displayed for your drooling pleasure, is a BBQ tempeh sandwich topped with fried red peppers and onions, and fresh parsley, a side of sautéed spinach, and a spring mix salad with strawberries, nuts, and carrots, topped with a soy based dressing from Trader Joe's. No dairy or meat were harmed in the making of this meal. :oP

Tempeh, and tofu are great sources of protein for vegetarians. You are probably familiar with tofu, and truth be told it isn’t my favorite, but I am learning new ways to cook it that aren’t bad (tofu scrambled eggs are quite yummy). But you may not have heard of tempeh. It is a grainy soy based patty. It takes on the flavoring of any seasoning or sauce. I used BBQ sauce to season the tempeh here, and it truly made a delicious BBQ sandwich. And you know I felt great about myself after that meal! I think I can do this. I like the challenge anyway.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wedding Details

Four months, and three days ago I married a charming and handsome man. Way out of my league! But I ain't gonna let him in on that. *wink* Anyway, he was kind enough to not only let me runaway with the wedding details, but he actually helped make most of them happen.

My wedding was a poster child for the D.I.Y. community. Well maybe that is an exaggeration. I didn't make my own dress, nor the dresses of my bridesmaids, but I made A LOT of things! There were two main reason for this: 1. We were on a budget and this was one way to cut costs, 2. I am pretty picky and finding things I liked became a nightmare. So after making the decision to go crafty for the big day, I went out to the local bookstore bought the current issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, (actually my friend Maria got it for me as an engagement present- Thanks Maria!) and pretty much slept with that baby under my pillow for the next nine months!

The boutonnieres at the top were inspired by the MSW mag. I used fabrics and foliage that supported my wedding theme (who knew there was such a thing, but apparently there is). The colors were orange, chocolate and turquoisey-blue-ish. As you can imagine my wedding was full of bright colors, and fall themed items, think fall on a farm and you kind of have an idea of what the big day looked like. With the help of my hubby, my pals, and my family we put together the wedding of my dreams! But can you believe it I forgot to take pictures of it all???

On the day of, and the days leading up to, I completely spaced out on that important detail. I guess I kept telling myself that I would take pictures later, and I lived that way all the way through to the Big Day. And on that day, well most women will agree, you can hardly remember to put your earrings on let alone document the day! That is what photographers are for, after all. And my photographers were amazing! But alas, I don't have a digital copy of their beautiful images, so here I present the few salvaged items I recently found.

These are the tulips we used as our centerpieces. We bought the tulips from the LA Flower District, and arranged them ourselves in glass milk bottles. The bottles were collected from the local grocer over a period of 6 months, and since I don't do dairy, my pals and hubby stepped up to the plate. The flowers were placed atop handmade fabric squares in fabric that also matched the color scheme, and the milk bottles were tied in coordinating ribbon.

These were the bouquets. No your eyes do not deceive you, there are indeed 8 bouquets. Yikes! The one tied in white ribbon was mine, and the other seven were for: 2 of Jonathan's sisters, and 4 of my pals, and one extra for the bouquet toss. We also bought these beauties at the flower district. My friend Paola, and my mom's childhood friend Karina put these bouquet's together. I actually copied Paola's wedding bouquets, which we also made ourselves, though she used deep purple carnations- gorgeous! So Paola was a pro at this, and I give her all the credit for making them turn out so lovely. They are exactly what I wanted!

For those who might be interested, Gerber daisies, and tulips are my favorite types of flowers! And I was so lucky that they came in orange, to match my wedding colors. These are just a few of the long list of things we made. If I can find more pictures I will post them, but that is all for now...Other handmade items included:
wedding veil
pew decorations
save the date cards
bridesmaid gifts
bride's evening shawl
tent decorations
pie/cake stands

That's all I can think of, but it is plenty! I am so glad I chose to go the D.I.Y. route, because now I feel more adventurous. I have learned that I really enjoy stamping, and scrap booking. I have learned that I can do much more than I thought with needles and thread. And most importantly I have learned that I really truly love doing these things. There is something so satisfying about working with your hands, and seeing your finished work. Just make something you really love, and the fun is therein. Go ahead, give it a try!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Birthday etc.

I turned 26 in January. I can round up to 30 now! And only I have 2 years left to try out for American Idol. Eeek! I better get my act together! Okay, not really, I don't have any inkling to try out for Americal Idol...well maybe a mild curiosity to see if Simon would tear me up. But that's it really, I promise. Still age is something that has been brought up to my attention recently. It sems the world around me is turning 30, consequently panic is setting in. Many of my friends have already crossed the milestone while some are on their last lap before they reach it. And it is apparently a sign that we are getting old(-er), and it forces us to ask those questions: What am I doing? What have I done with my life? My dreams?

The answers may not be what we imagined for ourselves, but there is still hope. I am so encouraged to see my friends struggle with these issues bravely, and stand up and say, "Life, you ain't seen nothin' yet!" I have friends making incredible decision to start families, friends who have decided to start their own businesses and to throw themselves whole-heartedly into it. Friends who are looking for love, and wondering if they missed their chance, but refuse to let that define them. And friends who are facing the truth, that maybe the dreams they had aren't what they want anymore, and have to fearlessly let those dreams go. You are all role models to me.

And where do I land in all of this? Well, I am headed back to school, while my friends are grappling with these decision, almost as if I were doing things backwards. And yet I too feel the weight of that number 30. As a woman it seems to mean more, it is a ticking clock reminding you to hurry up if you want that family. Because no matter how young I feel, my body will not wait for me. And I hear the words, "We had a miscarriage" "We are pregnant" "We bought a house" but, you see, I just am not ready for those words to come out of my own mouth. Now is not the time. Like in all other areas of my life, I am a slow bloomer, taking my time, discovering myself and my God as I go. And right now it seems I am to make some backward steps and head to school, and papers, and homework, and studying once again. And I feel a bit foolish about it, but my friends have been so supportive and sweet to me, encouraging me that going back to school is an investment in the future. So really they are steps forward, not backward. I know they are right, but I feel kinda left out nonetheless. Oh you damn emotions, will I ever master you!?!

So when I turned 26 I thought I should have been more panicked about it, but I wasn't. Things were definitely different, there was no big party, no balloons, not many presents, but the few I got were very special! One of the best presents ever was from my bestest bud Denise. She sent a package filled with special things that in the past I told her I was interested it, or things she thought I would love. She has spent the last couple of years hunting these things down for me, and this year she had it all ready in time for my brithday. NOTE: Getting a package in the mail is seriously one of the greates gifts ever! You feel so special, excited, just like a little kid!

So what was in the package? Can you tell from the image above? ... Give up? ... In no particular order we have:

Flight of Dragons- an animated film that has permanently affected Denise. Can't wait to be tranformed myself!
Waking Life- a film that Denise really liked, and that I have always wanted to see.
Their Eyes Were Watching God- a book that was spoken of highly in my American Lit class at CSUF. Also a staple in high school lit classes, but I never got to read. I am ready for this one, I have a journal picked out and everything, so I can fully experience the story!
Passing- another book that was highly recommended, about the life of an African American woman and her struggles with segregation. Why am I drawn to these heavy ones? Don't know but I can't wait to read her!
Debut- Bjork's first solo album, I stole this from Denise for a few years then gave it back to her last year, and now she got me my very own copy. She knows me well!
Penguin card- I love this card. The inside reads, "I love you this much!" Awww...go on!

How many did you guess right? Wasn't that just the best present ever?

So I guess 26, isn't so bad, and going back to school isn't so bad. And I just got married, so I am not ready for all the grown up stuff yet. Don't know if I ever will be. I have no idea what I would name my first child, haven't even thought about it. But I do know what I would name my first dog, Euky. Maybe this is a very telling thing about me and my future, maybe not. Meanwhile I got a lot of reading and movie watching to do...and if you need a break from all the grown up stuff, pull up a chair, there is always room in my home for you!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Life in a Fish Bowl: Reviews.

Last week I had my evaluation. All employees at my work have one. It's a time where your supervisor tells you how you have improved and how you can improve, then lets you know how much of a raise you get, if any. Our performance is rated on a 5 point system, 5 being perfect. Since no one is perfect, no one gets 5 points EVER. So the best we can shoot for is 4. This must be maddening to the perfectionists out there. Last year I was so upset by my score. I had only been there for a few months with pretty much no training, and I accidentally transferred 2 calls to the wrong person and for that I was docked. I earned a pathetic 2.6 points. And this really irritated me, for a long time. This year I am happy to say that I improved, I am now at 3 points. Big whoop!

Everyone assures me that this is a respectable score. You see 4s only are given out very rarely, and no one ever gets a 5, so 3 is practically a perfect score. Now I ask you, does this make any sense? Aren't we just asking our employees to be mediocre? Aren't we telling them that they will never be perfect, and that great is unrealistic, so good is good enough. What it all really comes down to is money. If I am given a high score, then the bank concedes that I am a valuable employee. If that is true then, I deserve to be compensated accordingly, which translates to $$$. So in an effort to save the company some money, the scale has been shifted slightly, 3 being good, 4 being for the exceptional employee, you know, that person who works 12-hour days, never takes a lunch and comes in on weekends. In this way we are trained to be happy with our meager points, and accept the lie that we aren't mediocre, but rather good or even great, though our raises reflect otherwise. Meanwhile the accepted fact is that everyone gets a 3, so it really doesn't matter if you are decent, okay, good or great because each of these is rewarded with a 3.

All this silliness. Corporate America, isn't it grand! And I am such a sheep to it all. I was happy that I improved, "Yeah! I'm a 3. I'm special!" But now that I think about it, the review was pointless, I didn't learn anything, except that I am better at transferring phone calls (well after a few months of self-training and trial and error, I hope I have learned how to do at least that!) and I got a small raise. I am grateful for the raise, I really am. And honestly, I should be. The truth is, they only need me to man the phones, and if not for that, they could do away with my position. I know this, and I was also reminded of it during my review. It makes me laugh, that it was brought up at all, but there you go. "You are a 3, you are great, btw, we don't really need you. Did I mention you are great?"

So all this rambling, has lead me to really consider my career. Are there areas that I excel in? Areas where my talents, skills, and passions all combine resulting in a more efficient and productive employee/career. Can I find a place where I might be more useful? More relevant? I am not sure if that place exists. Perhaps in the scale of things, that kind of job is a 5. No one EVER gets a 5, but I gotta reach for a 4, because a 3 just isn't cuttin' it!