Monday, December 28, 2009

And I Will Consider You Gone

If you hadn't guessed from my description of all the gifts I got for Christmas, my family shows its love with stuff. We're not super shallow or anything, we just aren't all lovey dovey, smoochie boochie, either, so it's a tangible manifestation of our love for each other. I dunno, it works for me. Don't get me wrong, I tell my family I love them all the time and they tell me so, too, but it's nice to be using my Christmas presents back in Australia and be reminded of the giver and how much they care about me.

Today was my last day at work and it was a pretty busy one for me. I had to get everything in order so that the regular person could jump back in to doing my work seamlessly. It was sad to say good bye to everyone. It was a fun place to work and I will miss all the people I got to know there. I plan on sending them a post card from Aus and on contacting them again next year to see if they need any holiday help. Pacific Cookie Company was a great place to work and the Pearsons were great people to work for. I think my waistline will thank me for not working there, but other than that I'm going to miss it!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

This is Nae in the process of cutting down our Christmas tree a few weeks back.

So far mine has been very, very merry!

The gnocchi last night turned out just ok, but I'll post pictures and the process in the coming days anyway to see if you guys can top my effort.

I know Christmas is about love, and family and all that good stuff, but I got awesome presents, too, including a new digital camera! So, see, it's a present to you guys in a way, as well, because now maybe this site will actually get some nice pics rather than shaky, blurry, and dark pictures from my camera phone. I also got clothes and books and jewelry, and a girls' day with Mom and Nae to do Zumba and get pedicures and out to a family dinner, a new purse made by Stylez at ReJENerate (check the link at the top of my page), a Zhu Zhu (you know, one of those little movable hamsters that were supposed to be all the rage for little kids this year? Dad got us each one and it is totally freaking out the cat as they run around and make cheeping noises) and a ticket to Brand New from Boyfriend which I was nearly crying over because I am so excited to finally see them after being rained out during the great Newcastle flood the last time they were in Australia. (Elsja, they are playing in March in Sydney. Get a ticket if it's not sold out already!)

Now, I'm being super classy and drinking Malibu with some tangerine juice from Trader Joe's and sitting in the sun and reading. (And yes, I know Malibu is little kid's alcohol and is not sophisticated like wine, but I can drink it super cold and it tastes good mixed with stuff so whatever.) It's probably in the high 60s here today and gorgeous out.

Hope you all have had or are having a wonderful day with your family and loved ones. I really couldn't have asked for a better day today.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's a Baby, Yes, There's a Baby About to be Born

This picture really has nothing to do with this post (Boyfriend took it on our trip to Yosemite the first year he was here) but it's a great shot and looks wintery and it's Christmas, damnit, so it kind of works, right?

Unless we've missed the text with the birth announcement, Soccer Player and the Hairdresser are still awaiting the birth of their baby. I'm hoping now that the Hairdresser has gone over her due date, she won't have to go camping with the newborn on Boxing Day (or as soon as it's born if it's after that day), as was previously planned. All of our friends who have had babies so far have tried to tell her that camping with a brand new baby is not where you want to be when you've just gotten out of the hospital and are trying to figure out how to be a mom still, but the Hairdresser is a trooper and up til now has said she is going. I can't wait to hear what they've had and what they've named it and I can't wait to buy it a "Welcome to the World" outfit here to bring back with me. I wonder if she's in labor, as I write this, and is having a Christmas baby? That'd be pretty neat, but probably not the most fun Christmas the Hairdresser would ever have! Anyway, I'm sending my love and my prayers down to you guys. I hope that it is a quick and painless delivery and recovery and Boyfriend and I can't wait to meet the new little guy or girl when we are back.

In other news, Mom and Dad both got sick last week and are still getting knocked around by it. We're pretty sure that Mom has come down with the Swine, while Dad's cold or flu seems to be different. They had a not so successful, but very stressful, trip down to Orange County last weekend to see my grandparents. If you read the last post (Runaway Train) about the situation, the update is nothing has changed and it has actually gotten a lot worse. Not only is my Grandpa on a quick downhill slope, to the point where my Mom thinks we'll be having a funeral before I go back in February, but now my Grandma is falling apart, too. She's gotten in two accidents in two different cars, side swiping a total of 5 cars, in two consecutive Wednesday nights! My Mom is understandably upset by what is going on, but on both trips she's taken to see them my grandparents have ignored the help she's offered so there's not much for her to do. The light at the end of the tunnel is that my Mom has found an assisted living place in Stockton that has apartments on site that allow the tennants to keep a small animal. My Grandma's brothers all live in Stockton and we've been saying for a few years now that she and my Grandpa should move of up there so they have more people to hang out with so once he passes away we think Grandma should take her dog and move to this facility. It's a good option because she is still capable of living mostly on her own for now and she can still keep her dog, but if and when she declines, she can then move in to the main part of the facility that offers more round-the-clock care. I think she really misses her brothers and this way she can see them more often, too.

Happy Holidays, right?

Other than that, our little 5some of me, Boyfriend, Mom, Dad, and Nae are looking forward to spending Christmas together. I've had all my Christmas shopping done for a few days now and only have a few things left to wrap. Boyfriend is stressed because lots of his online ordered presents haven't arrived yet. Nae is at work now (Trader Joe's) and has a taco eating contest with her coworkers and then she's coming over to make Christmas cookies and spend the night. Boyfriend and I said way back in October that we'd like to try and make gnocchi for Christmas Eve dinner so we'll get that under way this afternoon and hopefully take some good pictures for you guys and I'll post up the recipes. Nae's in charge of the food tomorrow and she's making some kind of roast beast, yorkshire pudding, homemade ice cream, and other stuff so I probably won't fit in to any of my new Christmas clothes after the 24 hours of eating I'm about to undertake! The weather here is bright and sunny and the air is crisp so I think we'll probably get up and do presents tomorrow morning and then go for a family walk and then just hang out for the rest of the day. I like having a mellow Christmas like that.

What about you? Is all your shopping and wrapping done? Are you having a mellow or a stressful Christmas Eve/Day?

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Hope you get everything you've asked for and more!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

Sorry if you've stopped by hoping for a new post this week. I've been swamped at work so by the time I get home and make dinner for everyone, I'm pretty much ready to lay on my bed and talk to Boyfriend for a bit before passing out. Nevertheless, I'm really liking it. Sure, a lot of the stuff I do is repetitive, but the people I work with are really great and make being there enjoyable. It's funny all the random connections I've found out I have to people in my office, considering that I'm not even from this area and know one other person besides my family here!

I'm stoked because I've been asked to come in for the Monday after Christmas to help sort out all the delivery mishaps that happen Christmas Eve that we won't be in to deal with. A) It means a little bit more money and B) It means I get to hang out with everyone for one more day. I think that I will ask the family to keep me in mind for office help next Christmas Season, if they'll have me, because I have always enjoyed working for family businesses....there's and at Jack's.

Everyone has really flattered me at the office over the past few days, too, because I have been bringing in treats and they said the cupcakes I brought in yesterday were so good that I should think about going in to business with them. Which is funny because before Boyfriend got here Mom, Dad, and I were discussing that I should start a bake stand since Australia has a shitty selection of baked goods and I really enjoy baking. So I think I'm going to start trying to sell my baked goods on the weekends and on days when I don't get substitute teaching work and see how that goes (but I might wait until after the hottest days of summer are over before I start so that my frosting actually stays on the cupcakes rather than melting in to a puddle next to the cupcakes)!

Anyway, it's a dream, an adventure, and something to look forward to so we'll see how it pans out. Boyfriend seems a little sketchy on the idea because he's got his fingers crossed that I'll fall in to a full time job, or at least get a lot more substitute work, this year and can actually start pulling my weight with the bills. Which is completely understandable. He isn't my sugar daddy, as much as I joke that he is, and I would like for us to have equal roles in the money making. But having this as a side project and as a way to make at least a few bucks on days when I don't get called in to a school can't hurt, can it? He's willing to let me have a shot at it for now and that's all I can ask of him. When I am Australia's answer to Paula Deen (or who's a hotter TV show chef, isn't there someone cute named Giada or something?), he'll be glad that he gave me some support on this business venture!

Tomorrow Nae, Boyfriend and I are shopping it up at the Gilroy Outlet Mall. We still need to find some things for our Mom and there are also Hurley, Volcom, Quiksilver, and Billabong stores there that Boyfriend will probably want to stop in to and stock up on clothes for the year from. We'll probably also make ourselves sick on Animal Style Burgers (or Grilled Cheeses) and Fries at some point in the day because right next to the mall is the only In-N-Out anywhere close to where we live. It should make for an exhausting day! Sunday, I might go in and help at the office if they need me, for a couple of hours and if not, I think I will sleep in, take a nap, wash my work clothes, and finish up my DeFacto Spouse Visa paperwork (by the way-if anyone has any tips, tricks, or words of advice on the Visa paperwork, I'd be glad to hear it) and then it is the final, big push until Christmas at work. I get Christmas Eve off and I think Boyfriend and I are going to attempt to make homemade gnocchi that night.

So I guess, really, when I sit down and think/write about it, things aren't as quiet as I thought they've been around here!

Hope you aren't too cold/too hot (depending on your Hemisphere) where ever you're reading this from and that you have a fun and relaxing weekend ahead of you...

P.S. I'm sure it's not too late to buy your favorite blogger (that's me) something amazing from her Amazon wish list or to send her a big, fat check for keeping you mildly amused over the course of most of the last year. Just a suggestion! ;D

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Songs of Innocence

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told Sarah how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had. Then I found one more in the back room, and several people were fighting over who would get it. Sarah's picture does NOT show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.


Mrs. Smith

Don’t know if you guys have seen this picture or not before, but it made me laugh so hard when I came across it. I think I read somewhere that it was originally shown on the Conan O’Brien show so it’s not real, but I wish it was, and I hope that I get some seriously awesome drawings like it over my years as a teacher! This is totally the type of thing that will get me out of bed in the morning 20 years in to it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts with C

Image via

Blogging from my lunch break again. I'm back on the diet, or at least back on the no cookie diet, which is really, really hard when I sit here and smell them baking all day! Our cookies are good, and I mean really good. They've got this fat kid's seal of approval on them.

I just thought I'd let you guys know that some of our gift items are on sale and there is also a coupon code floating around for $5 off an order right now so there are some great deals to be had. Cookies are a great item for anyone on your list you're having trouble shopping for because who doesn't like cookies!? We've got 13 different flavors of cookies to choose from (I'm a chocolate girl so I like the chocolate chip, chocolate chip peanut butter, and dark chocolate cranberry-an awesome fall/winter flavor-the best, but I wouldn't turn down any of these cookies if they were offered to me).

I know, I know, I bet you are thinking this is starting to sound like an ad for Pacific Cookie Company, but I'm not getting paid extra to write about it and no one here asked me to do it. I just really like the cookies, it's close to Christmas, and there are some hard people on my list to shop for, like I'm sure there are on yours, who would probably enjoy some cookies, and some of the stuff is on sale so I thought, "Why not fill you guys in?"

Working here has also made me realize that my parents probably don't love me enough because they've never sent me a cookie basket to wish me luck on my finals, like I've seen lots of parents order for their kids here!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walking In a Winter Wonderland

Winter has definitely come to Santa Cruz. It was a pretty chilly morning as we trekked out to pick out our Christmas tree. Our faces were stinging as we walked from tree to tree looking for just the perfect one. The tree we ended up picking out has a really nice shape and is about 7 foot, but I think we could've gone even bigger. The Harbor Boat Light Parade was just alright this year. There didn't seem to be as many boats and the parties on the boats weren't as wild compared to what we saw last year. I did see a guy from a band I used to follow, though, so that was kind of cool.

Early Monday morning, a storm came through the area and the temperatures maxed out in the 40s all day yesterday. When I got home at 6:15 last night it was nearly freezing. This morning when I got up, it looked like it had snowed! There was a thick frost covering the ground and water at the end of our road had frozen over. As I left for work at about 8:25 this morning, it was still only 35 degrees and I was Southern California/NSW blood is not used to these types of temps yet.
The ground under our lemon trees is covered in dark wood chips...that's all frost!

It's really nice in the office right now because our windows look out over the mountains and the tallest peak has snow on it. Not a bad view to have while we work away.

Anyway, I'm quickly eating lunch at my desk right now so I'd better get this up and then get back to work. Hope you're having a great day, where ever you're at, and I hope you've gotten a start on your holiday shopping because I sure haven't and I'm starting to panic!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let Me Entertain You

The girls at work weItalicre laughing today about how I handle calling in to the FedEx call center. I started my day fairly jovial, but challenged the call center people when I needed to (i.e. "My sister works at Trader Joe's so I know they aren't closed at 4pm on a Wednesday night so why didn't my package get delivered?") and progressed to being a little less jovial through out the day (i.e. "That's Bash St. as in I'll bash your head in" which I swear I said in a laughing way and a "Why did you put me on hold to enter information about my file when you haven't even asked me what I'm calling about and therefore have nothing to enter?" which was said in a not so joking manner). Everyone was giving me the side eye like I was crazy or laughing as they listened in to my calls and were also impressed that I found out that I was talking to people in call centers in El Salvador, Chihuahua Mexico, and Chicago, as they said they had never talked to anyone from FedEx outside the States before. At least I'm making their day and mine more entertaining. If I have to sit for a few hours a day on the phone with FedEx I may as well amuse myself while I do it!

On an unrelated note: I really feel like I'm living in the country here. On my drive home tonight I heard this on the traffic report- "Watch for a deer darting in and out of traffic near the Porter Street exit"!!

On another unrelated note, but to catch you all up with what's been going on over the past few days- Boyfriend arrived safe and sound yesterday and is still pretty exhausted from his big journey. He and Dad "treasure hunted" today and came back with about 2 dollars worth of coins and they also went to Costco so he had a true typical day around here.

It was great to finally have him here and to just be hanging out again. Me, Mom, and Dad took him out to dinner at a Mexican food place around here and Boyfriend was already practicing his Spanish that was provided on a placemat. When we got home, Nae was waiting to welcome him back, too, so I think he had a really nice first night back with all of us.

This weekend we are going up the mountain to cut down our Christmas tree and go to the boat parade at Santa Cruz should all be really fun and festive!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Work Hard for the Money

Dang, I am tired! This working stuff is hard! Like I've said before, I'm just doing general office stuff but I come home exhausted. I think it's a combination of not sleeping well and wanting to do a good job and not screw anything up through the day that leaves me drained by the time I get home. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying it and everyone is still super nice and easy to talk to...I just had forgotten how much work work really is.

2 Sleeps until Boyfriend gets here!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank You for Being a Friend

Today is the Hairdresser's baby shower (well I should say was as it is early Monday Morning Aus time and Sunday afternoon here). I wish I could've gone. I emailed the Hairdresser last week as I am trying to hunt down some Nerf guns for her nephews while I'm here and she assured me that she had a cute outfit picked out for the party and that she was going to be wearing heels, no matter how much they killed her feet! That is so like her :) The next time I see her she will be a mom (mum) and I can't wait to meet the little guy or girl and to see her and the Soccer Player be parents.

I wanted to say a big thank you to all my friends in Australia who have helped me and Boyfriend by filling out a statutory declaration letting the Australian Government know that Boyfriend and I are, indeed, a real couple and I'm not just after a green card. Knowing that you guys took the time to fill the forms out (and that you really do want me back in Aus with you) means a lot to me. It's nice that I/we can lean on you guys when we need it and that you all always deliver. I hope you know that I/we would do the same for any one of you! It's still Thanksgiving weekend here in the States, so if any of you guys are reading this, know that I am thankful for you!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Way You Squeeze My Lemon...

Happy Black Friday to everyone! Hope you went out and bought lots of stuff you didn't really need/want, but got it anyway because the deal was too good to pass up :) Or maybe, instead, you stayed home/in bed all day still in a food coma? I had trouble sleeping last night, probably because I was too full and was really tired when it was time to get up for work this morning.Nae's food was amazing, as expected. The big highlight for me was this spinach salad with apples and candied pecans with a citrus vingarette that Nae whipped up both last night and tonight. I could eat that salad all day, everyday. I've got a dark picture of it, but it really doesn't do it justice.

I think she got her recipe inspiration from something she saw on the Food Network website and then tweaked it by adding some fresh squeezed orange juice in to the dressing, as well as some lemon zest and rather than doing the walnuts, she did the candied pecans instead.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 5 cups lightly packed)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  • Pinch of orange zest
  • Candied pecans

In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, orange juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the spinach with the dressing until evenly coated then divide the spinach among 4 serving plates. Core the apple and slice it into matchsticks. Sprinkle a quarter of the apple pieces on top of each salad. Follow with the pecan pieces. Serve immediately.

She also made up a double batch of lemon bars and I had a peak at the website she was consulting while making it and it was from another Food Network friend, Emeril! These are always a big hit, but seem pretty time consuming as you have to squeeze and zest lots of lemons (my job yesterday) and bake the bottom layer before you then rebake it with the lemon layer added. Here is the recipe and a picture from the site, as well as a picture of our slice (can you spot the difference in picture quality? haha)

I thought this lemon looked kindof neat after it had been zested.

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt plus a pinch
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello, or other lemon-flavored liqueur, optional


Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and line with 1 sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Butter the top of this sheet of paper with 1 teaspoon of the remaining butter and then lay a second sheet of parchment or waxed paper crosswise over the first sheet. The parchment should be cut large enough so that the sides are even with the top of the baking dish; this extra paper will function as handles to help you remove the lemon squares from the pan later. Set pan aside.

In a large bowl combine 1 3/4 cups of the flour, 2/3 cup of the confectioners' sugar, the cornstarch, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and mix thoroughly. Cut the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using your hands, 2 forks, or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the butter-flour mixture to the prepared baking dish and press into an even 1/4-inch layer along the bottom and partly up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the crust is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the crust is baking, assemble the filling by combining the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon zest in a medium bowl and whisking until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, milk, limoncello, and remaining pinch of salt and mix well.

When the crust is golden brown, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Stir the lemon mixture again, then pour onto the warm crust. Bake until the filling is set, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Grasp the waxed paper that lines the 2 longest sides of the baking dish and remove thebars from the pan by pulling up gently. The entire dessert should easily dislodge and come away from the pan.

Transfer to a cutting board and, using a clean knife, cut into squares, wiping knife after each cut. Place a small amount of confectioners' sugar into a small sieve, and sprinkle the bars with the sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, wrapped with plastic wrap, up to 2 days, until ready to serve.

And just in case you aren't sick to death of turkey and all Thanksgiving related goodness, here are pictures of our dinner last night:

Sorry about the glare, I didn't even notice it until uploading it earlier and it's the only picture of a full plate I got.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Eat the Turkey and I Take a Nap

Nae is just getting started in the kitchen now. She's been prepping for the last few days and the turkey has been brining away. On the menu tonight are: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce (homemade and the good stuff that retains the shape of the can), herb mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and/or pineapple, homemade bread rolls, spinach salad with candy walnuts apples and orange zest, sauteed brussle sprouts, baked apples and for dessert lemon bars, vegan pumpkin pie (Nae's making it special for one of her roommates), or cream cheese pie. Did I mention there are only 4 of us?!? We have enough food to feed the neighborhood! Nae is a really good cook so I don't mind eating her leftovers for the next 5 days. I'll get some pictures later. I asked Nae for her recipes because everything she made last year turned out amazingly, but she said "Why do you want to steal my secret family recipes (that I got from Food Network)?" so we'll have to see if she comes around to sharing later. I think she is going to at least share her lemon bar recipe with me so I'll post that up with pics in the next few days. I'm really hoping she gives me her turkey brine recipe because she only started doing it last year and last year's turkey was the best I've ever had!

In other news, work has been going well. Everyone in the office is super nice. The work is fairly repetitive, but it makes the day fly by! Yesterday I got to taste test a new cookie flavor they are trying to perfect. It was good, but not quite there yet. I can't wait to see how it turns out. I was also able to grab a couple fresh cookies to bring home to the family last night- regular chocolate chip and chocolate chip darn good! We also have in a dark chocolate, walnut, and cherry cookie right now that one of the girls brought up for me to try because they are that good that they don't last long! I thought I wasn't working tomorrow and had planned to hit the Black Friday sales with Nae and Mom down in Monterrey, but I've been asked to come in from like 10-4 tomorrow so I'll be missing out on the shopping. A little bummed because it would be nice to hang out with them, but on the other hand I really need the money and could've told work that I wasn't available if I had really wanted to.

Yesterday I also learned that the homeless in Santa Cruz must have it pretty good. I went down to the beach on my lunch break to sit and watch the water while I ate my sandwich. I was pretty full after having one half and as it was a sandwich from Trader Joe's, the other half was still nicely wrapped, so I decided rather than let it go to waste I'd find a homeless person (there are normally tons downtown) and offer it to them. I hadn't even gotten away from the beach when I saw an older lady with a backpack on and a cardboard sign taped to her back that said "Need Food". I did a u-turn and rolled down my window and asked her if she'd like my sandwich. She said she was weird about people touching her food and she couldn't tell how fresh it was so no. My jaw just about hit the floor. She obviously wasn't that hungry! I brought it back to work and one of the ladies there happily had it, instead.

Only 6 more sleeps until Boyfriend gets here! I don't know how people do the long distance thing. I miss him like crazy, but then we get on the phone or a video chat online and have nothing exciting to tell each other. Boyfriend has also been on a tight deadline to get a new website up for Clinique and so he has been stressed, tired, grumpy, and not very talkative in general. There are times we talk and I just want to strangle him and I'm sure he wants to strangle me, haha! It's so funny because in real life we hardly ever fight or get super snippy with each other. I can't wait to have him here and get back to "happy couple" status.

Edited to Add: Just wanted to say a Happy Thanksgiving to all those Expats living in Australia and other places around the world! Hope you had a good one and were able to eat something that reminded you a little of home.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sing For Your Supper

I made these tonight. They were pretty tasty and better still, they came from Cooking Light Magazine so they aren't even bad for you! We had them with roasted corn bits from Trader Joe's and I made sweet potato chips. It felt like hearty comfort food and that's just what you need through winter, I think, but this way you're doing it guilt-free.

Things have started to pick up at the Cookie Company so they've asked me to start working this week instead of next, which is great because every little bit of extra money helps. My first day is tomorrow and I'm super excited and hope I do a good job. Fingers crossed for me that I go in there and rock there socks off (or at least not make any major mistakes)!

Here's the recipe:

Southwestern Chicken Roll-Ups

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 chicken roll)


  • 6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 tablespoons (about 3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons picante sauce
  • 6 cilantro sprigs
  • 6 tablespoons Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Top each breast half with 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 tablespoon picante sauce, and 1 cilantro sprig. Roll up jelly-roll fashion, beginning at narrow end.

Dredge chicken rolls in breadcrumbs. Place rolls, seam sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; lightly coat rolls with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. (We have a good nonstick cooking sheet so I didn't bother to spray it or them with the cooking oil and they didn't stick or burn to the sheet.)

Nutritional Information

257 (20% from fat)
5.8g (sat 2.7g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.6g)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When the Sun is Shining...

Man, yesterday turned out to be the day for good news. Not only did I get that job, as I've already mentioned, but one of my friends got engaged and I found out that our friends in Sydney are going to be having a baby! You always hear the phrase "when it rains, it pours" well this is the converse of that "when the sun shines, it shines brightly!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

C is for Cookie

Wahoo! I got a job! I'm working for a local cookie company. They have a storefront downtown and a second location, where I will be working, where they actually make the cookies and have their offices. I will be helping them with their holiday internet orders. I'm excited and the woman who hired me seems really nice and so is the admin so I think it'll be a great place to work. And you should smell the place...pure heaven! This will not be good for my diet as they sell cookies there, too!

It will be great to have some Christmas spending money and to have some money to take back to Australia with me and be able to contribute to our household once again.

I don't start work until after Thanksgiving, but when I do, I will have diet friendly cookie pictures up on the site.

Twinkle, Twinkle

I don't know if any of you guys got up to see the meteor shower the other night or not, but around here it was more like a meteor sprinkle than a shower! I mean I did end up seeing 11 shooting stars in the hour I was out, but I was thinking this would be what it was like: "Whoa! Whoa!..Whoa!...Whoa!" and this is what it was really like: "...Whoa......Whoa.....Man, it's cold....Whoa............................Whoa.....Have I already said how cold I am?..Whoa......Ok, time to go inside I can't feel my face anymore" A few of the ones I did see were pretty spectacular with big, streaking tales so it was still neat to see, I was just thinking that the sky was going to be dancing with shooting stars.

Anyway, I'm off to go get ready for my big day. Have I mentioned I've got 2 job interviews lined up for today? No? Well, I have 2 job interviews lined up for today and I'm excited and nervous. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meteor Shower, Meteor Shower

Don't forget the Leonid meteor shower tonight. I'll be up til 1am to check out what's going on in the sky around here. Luckily, it's a really clear night . Weve already seen 4 shooting star as we sat out on our balcony and it's only 8pm. I'm dreading how shockingly cold it's going to be later, but it'll be worth it to see the sky come alive!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Well We've Got the Land, But They've Got the View

Here are just a few shots from around the place. I really should have brought Boyfriend's camera over with me so the quality would be better on these, but I guess we'll just have to wait until next month when he's here for really sharp and clear photos.

This is the back of the house. We've got a fairly big saltwater system pool and the deepest jacuzzi I have ever been in. The big structure is obviously the main house which has a huge master suite upstairs, a big open living room and kitchen, and a half bath. Downstairs there is an office, another big bedroom, and a full bathroom, as well as some really big closets, a 2 car garage and a laundry/mudroom. The white low level building to the right is the poolhouse where I stay. It has a sitting area and a full bathroom downstairs and then the upstairs loft part has a bed. Below the poolhouse is the RV garage that my parents currently just keep boxes and stuff in. Out of picture to the right is my Mom's garden. She grew green beans and lettuce there this year, as well as tomatoes that didn't do well because the whole summer was foggy and they never got any sun. Directly behind me is this:

Although we are only steps from the beach, the land behind us is all agricultural area. Those fields are all heather fields and soon they will be a bright fuscia or orange color. The buildings you see are tons of different green houses holding the littlest of the heather plants. You can also see our pomegranate tree and one of two lemon trees we have. There is also a little lime tree back there that hasn't really taken off yet, but boy we sure do have lemons:

Year round you can go out to our one lemon tree and probably get about 50 lemons off at a time! It is so prolific. While I'm home I like to make fresh lemonade all the time and Nae makes lemon bars that my Mom, who normally has some pretty strong self control, goes nuts on.

That's the view around here for today. Not much else is happening. I'm still job hunting and turning in applications online everyday and have yet to hear back from any shops. Keep your fingers crossed for me because I really, really need a Christmas job and the money that comes with it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Runaway Train

What do you do when someone you care about is making really awful decisions for themselves? Do you step in? When? I am a firm believer in letting people do what they want because they are going to do it anyway. That's not to say that I won't offer an opinion or advice when asked, but I have found it to be true that people are going to do what they want and aren't going to change until they are ready.

This is true for me with my weight. This is true for other people in bad relationships. And now this is true for my Grandpa and his drinking.

But what do you do when the person's awful decisions are putting them on a quick path toward death? That's where we are at with my Grandpa right now. We decided to step in because while it's crappy he's doing this to himself, it is also really affecting my Grandma and Uncle and my Mom. Plus, he is endangering other people because he boozes all day long then gets in the car to go out for drives! It's sad that he is killing himself, but it will be really unforgiveable if he kills someone when he is out on the road drunk. As unbelieveable as it may sound and as much as my Grandma hates my Grandpa's drinking, she defends his driving and says he is a really good driver. On the other hand, she can't explain how one of their afternoon drives turned in to them getting lost in L.A. for over 4 hours last week.

So anyway, that was the main point of our trip down to Orange County over the past 3 days. Grandpa knows the consequences of his drinking and doesn't want to change so we can't do anything about it, but my Grandma really appreciated our visit and that my Mom was there to help with things she thought needed to be done for their household. Mom was even able to get a home nurse in to assess their situation and hopefully get them the help they need to make life easier around the house. Mom also spoke to the nurse about the drinking and driving issue and she said she would speak to his main doctor who would contact the DMV to get his license revoked.

Although my Grandpa was a bit angry that we were there and didn't really want to talk to us the first two days we dropped in to visit, yesterday he seemed back to his old self. It was nice to sit and chat with him for awhile and I'm glad he came around to us being there as it is a much nicer memory to have of him than one of him ignoring us.

It's a really hard situation to be in. I feel bad for him, I feel bad for my Grandma, and I feel bad for my Mom and Uncle. There is no good end to this and I realize and accept that. I wish things could be different, but you can't change things and you certainly can't change people. Rather than think about my Grandpa as he is today, I am going to choose to think of him and what he was like when we were younger-the man who taught us how to fish and who used to take me and Nae down to this really cool beach in San Diego to look for moonstones.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

California Here We Come, Right Back Where We Started From

Mom, Nae and I got up bright and early yesterday morning and road tripped it down to Orange County. We're here because my Grandpa is pretty sick and it seemed like our grandparents weren't going to come up north for Thanksgiving or Christmas so just in case anything bad happens to him, we've at least seen him this one last time. I might go in to a little more detail in another post about what's going on with him (let's just say that it's self-inflicted) but for now I'll just talk about the other aspects of the trip so far.

It's been weird driving around the OC. It's so damn smoggy and the traffic is ridiculous! I don't miss living here, but I do miss working at Jack's and surfing here and some of my friends that are still here. Other than that, this place doesn't feel like home anymore and I realize how happy we all are in Santa Cruz.

Bun came and picked me up last night and I can't believe it's been two years since we've seen each other. It was great and it didn't feel awkward that we hadn't seen each other in forever. We could just pick up where we had left off the last time. She was the good friend and took me to what I was craving- Pick Up Stix! Oh man, the house special chicken was just as good as I remembered it. It felt good and it felt like old times sitting and talking with her for hours over good food. I'm so excited, too, because she and at least one other high school friend, Ade, are supposed to come up sometime soon to Santa Cruz to hang out for a weekend. I can't wait to show them around all the fun stuff up there!

This morning, Nae has already been up and surfed for a few hours and now Mom is telling me it is time to go. We've got a full day with the grandparents and then are hopefully going to see some of our qausi-cousins and aunt. This afternoon we might stop at South Coast Plaza, as well. Yay, for real shopping! That is the one thing Santa Cruz lacks.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rocky Raccoon

Lots of animal news from around here. We saw dolphins and hawks on our walk, as well as lots of little squirrels and a huge jack rabbit that I thought was a little dog sitting under a tree. Up at the UC Santa Cruz campus we had a deer with antlers walk behind us on the path up to the pool and saw two coyotes run in front of the car on the way down after practice. At night we've heard the coyotes do a weird laugh like call and last night we had 3 big barn owls hooting in the trees off our porch. When I went outside to bbq our dinner, two were on the wires near the pool looking in at me and calling again. Last night, the hot water heater was making a weird noise before bed so I had Dad come over an inspect it and down the back stairs and all around the pool were the biggest raccoon prints I had ever seen! They were still really wet, too, so we must have scared them as we came out to inspect! I have a bunch of pictures to put up from around our house and one of Nae coaching swim practice on Tuesday night, but they are being a pain to get off my phone. I will try and have them posted tomorrow. For now, here is a picture of a Pacific Tree Frog (Nae says) that hopped out of one of our plants the other day as Mom was watering the backyard. Sorry for the bluriness, he was really small and really hard to get up close to!
Oh yeah, and apparently we have a family of bobcats living a few houses down so I will try and get pictures of them if I see them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Who Says You Can't Go Back, Been All Around the World and As a Matter of Fact There's Only One Place Left I Want To Go, Who Says You Can't Go Home

Friday, Mom and I spent the day hitting the shops on Market St. in San Francisco. I got a new shirt at Old Navy and a really cute beanie for $7 at H&M, it's one of those beret beanies that sit on the back of your head and I've been wanting one for about 3 years now. We also hit some expensive market and got supplies so that I could make the "Nicole Richie Chicken" for my parents. They both thought it was really good, too.

Saturday morning we got up and cleaned the apartment before making our way down south in to Santa Cruz. My Dad drives the 17 (a really winding highway that goes up over a mountain from San Jose in to Santa Cruz) like a maniac now that he has his fancy TT. We met up with Nae at Costco and ate a quick and ridiculously cheap lunch there. Nae then dragged me all over downtown Santa Cruz looking for pieces for her Old Greg Halloween costume. They had closed off the street and all these little kids were out trick-or-treating at the shops and there were some super cute costumes, like this one little boy who could barely walk who was dressed as a little chick and he toddled around and had the perfect body proportions so that he really did look like a 2 foot tall chick walking down the street!

If you haven't seen Old Greg and have no idea what I'm talking about, here is the video. It is a little rude and quite bizarre!

After we had all the pieces, we went back to her place where her roommate, the Camp Counselor, was out back drinking her favorite beverage of all time, Coors Light, and who gave me a big welcome back hug. I'm still trying to get her to come out and meet and marry Boyfriend's brother Bob because I think they are made for each other. We then headed out to Mom and Dad's house. It was as beautiful as I had remembered it and there were some new additions to the place that made it even nicer. The parents and Nae all had Halloween plans so I stayed in and had a mellow night of watching the World Series Game and Tool Academy 2.

Yesterday, Mom woke me up way too early and we went down to the beach with Dad and I made them do some bootcamp workout moves on the park benches. Mom wanted us to go down because she had seen a sick sealion on the shore and wanted to see if the rescue service she had called had come down to pick it up yet. As we walked up to it, there were these two tourist ladies circling it and taking its picture and nearly touching it. The poor thing was really agitated so Mom yelled at them to back off and finally they did. (Mom and Dad just got back from another walk down to the beach and said that the sea lion was gone so it either swam away or was picked up by the service, which is good because lots of times they just come up on shore and aren't rescued and die there.) After that, Mom was nice enough to take me to Target, where we got lots of bathroom/beauty supplies for me and some tacky Christmas earrings and brooches from the $1 section for all my friends back home for our Christmas in July party next year. Then we went to Trader Joe's and did the grocery shopping for the week. I was in heaven, but I tried not to go too overboard and kept in mind that I'm still on a diet until Boyfriend gets here. When we got home, Dad was gearing up to paint one of their patios and as it was gorgeous weather, I offered to help him.

Today I spent my morning applying to jobs in the area and figuring out how I get on to substitute teaching lists. I was told by one office that the list of subs is pretty long right now and it's near impossible to get work unless you know teachers who can recommend you. When I phoned another school district's offices they told me I might be able to get some work, but first I'd need to go get a TB test so I spent part of my afternoon down at the County Health Office getting the test done and I have to go back on Wednesday so they can look at it and tell me whether or not I am in the clear.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another gorgeous day around here- sunny and temps of about 80 so I think I will do my online job applications out by the pool and help Dad put another coat of paint on the patio. Life is good!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Journey to the End of the East Bay

So I made it. I'm here in San Francisco safe and sound. My flight was long and bumpy. Luckily, it wasn't too crowded and I got the bulk head seat in Economy Plus and an empty seat next to me. I took about 4 sleeping pills and even then just kindof drifted on the edge of sleep for most of the flight. Mom picked me up from the airport in Dad's new Audi TT; it's a sweet car! We struggled to get all my luggage in so it was good that Dad had stayed behind at the apartment. Their place here in the city is pretty fancy. There is a concierge for the building and everything. It has an outdoor heated pool, a jacuzzi, really sweet bbq area, and a gym nicer than the one I belonged to in Newcastle! Sitting in their living room you have a view out to the Bay Bridge and a little slice of the Bay.

After checking out the apartment, we went and walked along the Bay a little ways down to Giants' Stadium. After that I came back and passed out for a few hours and Nae's cat, Hobie, even slept with me for awhile. I then got up, chatted with Boyfriend on the webcam for a few, and watched a little bit of the World Series Game with my parents. After getting dressed we went to this restaurant nearby called Delancey Street Restaurant and the food was great and incredibly priced compared to what I am now used to in Australia (we're talking $6 for 6 potstickers and $5 for a huge sundae that the 3 of us struggled to finish together). The restaurant is also really cool in that they help people who are/were homeless or in prison or just down on their luck to learn new skills by working there. When we got back, it was Grey's time and then Hobie decided he didn't like me so much anymore and he attacked me and left two puncture marks in my arm. After that it was bedtime and I've just woken up to what looks like another beautiful, warm and sunny day. No idea what we're going to get up to today, but Mom said something about shopping!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

It's about 8:45 Thursday morning and I'm pretty much packed. I've got to eat some breakfast and take a shower and figure out how to get the last few articles of clothing I want to take with me dry (without a dryer), as they got rained on out on the clothes line last night. Boyfriend and I found out yesterday that we will be able to stay in our place for at least the next few months so when we leave here we will go to the property management place and have him signed on as an approved tenant. Then it is off to the shops quickly to find me a cheap book for the plane since my laptop is dying and only lasts for 45 minutes so I can't even listen to music or watch movies on it anymore, some kind of tablets from the healthfood store that are supposed to calm nerves, and a pack of peanut MnMs because my Dad says you should always have one with you when you travel in case you need a late night snack. After that we are driving down to the airport, which is a big deal because Boyfriend and his family always take the train down (his parents hate driving in Sydney, and don't really even want us driving there today, though Boyfriend is comfortable doing it), but I'm a princess and really don't want to be cramped in an uncomfortable seat for an additional two hours when I can be sitting in a comfy car for only a little over an hour so Boyfriend agreed that he'd rather not train it down either and is driving me.

Ugh, I've totally got the nervous tummy thing going on! I'd like to go back to sleep until noon and wake up magically in CA somehow.

If I die, which I'm really hoping I won't, thanks for reading my blog! I've had lots of fun writing it. I love you Boyfriend! I love you Mom, Dad, and Nae! I love you friends and family! (Haha, I told you I'm dramatic, but I'm sure you knew that already as you read my blog).

Hopefully the next time I post will be from my parents new apartment in San Francisco or from their kitchen table with a view of the Bay in Santa Cruz. Wish me a safe flight!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yesterday Stretched on For so Long, Tomorrow Feels Like Forever

Busy times around here.

Friday afternoon I got a call from our property management company that basically let me know that our status for staying in our house was back up in the air, which is not what I wanted to hear less than a week before I was leaving, and after being told earlier in the week that it was pretty much a done deal that we'd get to stay so not to worry about packing or cleaning up! Friday night we went down to see Turk and Stylez. I made fish tacos for them at their place and some really good peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I hoped they thought the fish tacos were ok, they had never tried them before and they had never had the soft corn tortillas before either. All night long their house kept filling up with pot smoke because their neighbors were burning it off by the kilo it seemed like for some reason. They had a fire going on in the backyard and smoke was billowing high up in to the sky and it was definitely pot that they were burning but I have no idea why they would be throwing it on the fire like that. Anyway, it was a fun and mellow night and I always have a really great time with T&S because they are great people. They are funny, have similar tastes to us, and are really genuine, warm and caring people. Stylez gave me a mission to bring her back the most chocolatey+peanut buttery thing I can find from the U.S. I already have at least one thing in mind for her.

Saturday morning we went out to this cool cafe for breakfast and then headed back to the Coast. We quickly ran in to look at storage units in case we need one later in the week and then I went in to see the Hairdresser and she made me look beautiful. I said to Boyfriend, "I feel so much prettier when I come back from the Hairdresser's" and he said, "Yeah, you do look prettier!" Haha, he really put his foot in his mouth on that one, though, I know what he was trying to say and it was sweet. Tinkerbell came in to get her hair did (yes did and not done) while I was there and I was glad to see her one last time before I went home. We were all going out to dinner later that night, but Tinkerbell, the Farmer, and Junior were going to have a night at home as they had had a big night before and Junior didn't let them get much sleep when they did get in. At about 6, we all (LC, Bob Marley, baby Lo, the Runner, the Smooth Talker, Croc, the Teacher, the Soccer Player, the Hairdresser, me and Boyfriend) met up for dinner at a local Chinese food place. LC and I have been wanting to try it for ages and though, the food was good, the service was pretty dismal so I don't think we'll be going back there anytime soon. I got a hug from all our friends, except for Bob Marley who forgot I was leaving this week, as we were going home and it hit me that I wouldn't see them again for four months. I got a bit teary eyed in the car because I knew I'd miss hanging out with all of them while I was away, plus I was bummed that I wouldn't be there to see the Soccer Player and the Hairdresser's baby just after he/she was born and to obviously see them in their role as brand new parents.

Yesterday, I spent the day packing my bags and then we drove up to Newcastle to see the Redhead and his girlfriend. You may remember me mentioning the Redhead ages ago on here and asking for any interested ladies to contact me. No one ever did, but in about May I think, he met someone and they are going great. They are even taking a trip to Fiji in February together...I wonder if it's an engagement trip already??

Today was spent frantically trying to clean the house a bit and tick off things on the move out list that the property management company had sent over. I got the windows done, blinds dusted (which was a huge job as they were caked in red dirt from the dust storms), and oven and stove top cleaned up. I also baked a pasta dish, made chicken stir fry, and two batches of "Nicole Richie Chicken" to put in the freezer for Boyfriend while I am away (he's spoiled and not much of a cook). Then tonight we headed over to Boyfriend's Pa's house to have dinner with him, as well as Boyfriend's parents and brother, Bob the Builder.

The past four days have been crazy busy, but I'm glad that I've squeezed in seeing everyone. As I leave each group of friends or family, I reflect on how lucky I am to have each person in my life and about how I'm going to miss them like crazy for awhile. It is so great to have a mix of Boyfriend's family and our friends to make up a feeling of family for me while I'm here.

And while I will miss everyone a whole lot, I am also super stoked to see my Mom and Dad, Nae, and any and all the friends who have promised to pay me a visit!

I'll try and post again on Thursday morning (Wednesday afternoon U.S. time) before I head off for the airport. It will probably be a dramatic post, telling everyone I love them and dividing up all my worldly possessions between Boyfriend and my family. I hate flying! In the meantime, I'm going to keep cleaning the house and hope that the real estate person calls back with news tomorrow that we can stay in our place and I'm going to try and find some kind of herbal (no, not the kind of herbal I mentioned earlier) remedy to help calm my nerves about flying.