Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quotes for Inspiration

Abraham Lincoln:
And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

Annie Dillard:
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

Carl Sandburg:
Our lives are like a candle in the wind.

I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer.

Elbert Hubbard:
Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.

Franklin P. Jones:
Love doesn't make the world go 'round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

A useless life is an early death.

Isaac Asimov:
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.

James F. Bymes:
Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death

Joan Baez:
You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.

John Lennon:
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain:
Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

Norman MacEwan:
Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill:
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Favorite Sites from Debt-Proof Living newsletter

I haven't had a chance to browse each of these sites but wanted to post these favorite sites suggested by Mary Hunt, the creator of Debt-Proof Living newsletter. If you check out these links, please feel free to share your thoughts or comments!

www.u-roast-em.com - buy supplies.
www.sweetmarias.com - learn how to roast coffee.

www.mygrocerydeals.com - research and compare one store's ads against another's across the entire country.


www.hancocks-paducah.com - there is no better or larger fabric store in the world than Hancock's of Paducah according to Mary.

www.zappos.com - free shipping to receive and return shoes!

www.shoplocal.com - save gas and compare the sale prices of your local stores online.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Dad at Keenan Air Force BaseI called my dad this afternoon to wish him happy birthday and as soon as I said this, he paused...which got me confused and so I asked, "Today IS your birthday, isn't it?" He chuckled and laughed, "It is! I forgot".

So we continued to have this long conversation as I drove home from work. I don't think my dad has been this talky before. Perhaps he was trying to impress relatives who were visiting from Laos with his ability to speak English.

My dad was the first in our family to speak English. He knew the language before all of us did. Partly from his days in the military. He traveled to many air force bases throughout the U.S. I never pried much into the details of his service as he was willing to talk about his military days. I only knew that he was a sergeant thought I jokingly suspected that he was a spy for the U.S. during the Vietnam war.

After the war ended, family escaped from Laos to seek refuge in Thailand when I was 3 years old. We lived in several refugee camps in Thailand and the Phillipines while we went through the immigration process. (If only it was so easy to come to America by boat).

From what I could remember, my dad gave much to our family. He had a habit of picking the scraps from our meals and eating the leftovers so we could have the "meat" of the meal. I always warned him about getting food poisoning until the day he finally did. I don't think that slowed him down one bit.

When I was young, I always feared my dad. He seemed big and strong to me. He was the enforcer of the last resort, when my mom couldn't control us kids anymore. She would set my dad to discipline us. So it was rare that he ever laid a hand on us--or boot as I once (deservingly) received.

He use to be a passionate man with a fiery temper but in his old days, he's just quiet, observing, cheerful and mellow. Doesn't say much--only smile and blink his squinty Asian eyes. But some things remained the same in that he's always been a family man. A romantic and sentimentalist. I think I share these traits with him.

When he gave me away on my wedding day, it seems he didn't want to let me go. And when we had our first dance, that's when I realized how fragile he was. Daly and Dad's first danceArms so tiny when I clung to it as we walked down the aisle, body so little--like a little boy when I hugged him during our first dance.

Dad can't take care of me anymore, and that's okay, but I realized I must take care of him like he did for me through my days of sports, clubs and school trips.

And so our conversation ended on a happy note when I called him on his birthday. Though everytime I leave my dad, I cry as he chokes back tears. I always tell him that I love him.
But to this day, I have yet to hear him say, "I love you". But that's okay because I know my dad loved me. I also know when he's ready to say it, I'll be the first to hear it.

I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved. --George Elliot

Monday, July 17, 2006

Our Weekend (July 14-16)

I LOVE SUMMER. So much to do in the warm weather!

This past weekend, I went to Annejelynn's bridal shower. It was definitely a fiesta with guacamole dip, fruit trays, margaritas and TASTY tacos for lunch! When we started playing games, I knew I would most definitely lose when I had to guess what kitchen utensils were in the brown bags by feel. But I still had a BLAST!! Annejelynn, you will most definitely be a beautiful bride!

I went from one party to next at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to watch The Knack in concert. Though I didn't know any of their songs but "My Sharona", I still enjoyed rocking out to their music. Maybe I partied and danced little too hard cuz I woke up the next day with a hangover and slight whiplash (so did Johnny but no whiplash cuz he shaved off his hair). But I still had SO MUCH FUN!!! After the concert, we went to eat at Lucky's. (Here's a local secret: you can order the "777" even though it's not on the menu and get steak, shrimp, salad and mashed potatoes for 7 bucks! YUMMMYYY!!!)

(Click here to view photos)

The next day, we had to recover from our hangover and worked around the house. Johnny's parents came over in the afternoon for dinner. Johnny's dad helped him get some stuff for the patio...don't know what it's called...plastic shingles thingie so we can have a fully covered patio. Meanwhile, Johnny's mom and I went shopping at Costco to get groceries for dinner. I am sorry I do not have a picture of the awesome meal we made like I usually do but I can tell you we had fresh Atlantic salmon (Maggie makes THE BEST salmon I've ever tasted) and spicy SZechwan snap peas with Chinese cabbage salad (also the BEST) paired with red wine. DELICIOUS!!

Then we relaxed and finished watching Ocean's Twelve over some tea. All I can say is we had a lovely weekend!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dollar In Penny Out

Last week was a co-worker's birthday. Though she didn't want to celebrate her birthday but the rest of us in the office went ahead and surprised her by hanging a banner and decorated her desk with a canopy of crepe paper and balloons. We had hoped she would feel like a princess all day (and I think she did).

At the end of the day, it all came down...balloons, canopy of crepe paper and banner. An hour's worth of work was torn down in minutes. As I unhooked the banner from the ceiling, I realized how life is in some ways like this. Sometimes you put so much time and effort into something and, in seconds, it is ruined. Like building a sand castle too close to the waves and years of friendship lost over a simple argument.

It was worth all the time and effort to help make our co-worker's birthday special. Sometimes life also requires that we give without wanting in return.

And while I took town the banner, I was reminded of a life lesson...how fragile life can be and to appreciate what I have because it also can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Our 4th of July Weekend

Independence Day has always been our favorite time of the year. First and foremost, it is the anniversary of when Johnny and I first met at Sharkeez in Hermosa Beach, CA. This year marks our fourth anniversary and it's hard to believe we're going on our fifth! Secondly, the 4th is America's birthday and that's another good reason to celebrate. Happy Birthday, America!!

And so our adventure began early Friday morning as we packed our car and headed toward Newport Beach where Johnny's grandma and aunt live. We love them so much for the people that they are, so giving, great hostesses and always in the festive mood! When we arrived at their place, Aunt Jan was dying rice red and blue (which we thought was odd but we didn't say anything). Grandma must've saw the bewildered look on our faces then piped up, "I think you guys think we're gonna have it for dinner but she's making a centerpiece." ...LOL!!

4th of July centerpiece

Later that evening, we went to eat at the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach. Johnny was last there when he was a kid with his grandma and late grandfather. He remembered everything about the place down to where they sat and loved the restaurant for their Polynesian-themed decor. Except that night, there was no decor because they were undergoing construction to conform to fire codes. In the absence of ambiance, dinner was still delicious and the drinks were fantastic! We had their signature drink, the Lapu Lapu (and we got loopy loopy), with our melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs and fried shrimp.

The next day, we took off towards Dana Point in the early morning to catch our boat for Catalina Island. The parking directions they gave us were so screwy, it took us way too long to find the lot and even longer to walk back to the dock for check-in--we thought we'd miss the boat for sure and they'd still charge us $150 for our tickets!! But...we made it!

Johnny on Catalina Express

The ride was a little rough for me as I tried not to get seasick by looking over the water for anything interesting. For a while, it appeared as if we were in the middle of nowhere (a thought that gave me goosebumps) but then we saw schools of dolphins frolicking in the water! It was a sight to see as I had gone shark diving before but never saw dolphins in person.

We first had breakfast at Eat at Joe's and then strolled along Crescent Avenue perusing the shops and at the boats parked in Avalon Bay. It was a perfectly sunny day to be there! Temperatures in high 80's and the slight breeze bringing in the smell of the beach and ocean.

We stopped at a shop that had all sorts of tikkis--many of which Johnny didn't have (yet) in his collection. Since we had much more to see and do, the store was kind enough to hang on to our merchandise until we were ready to leave the island. It was still early and our boat will not return to the mainland until 7 p.m. that evening. Johnny at Avalon Bay

Later that afternoon, we settled in a Armstrong's Seafood Restaurant and grabbed seating overlooking the bay. Johnny had fish and chips and I had spicy tuna. The establishment brings in fresh fish daily and most are caught right off the island. Needless to say, lunch was SO delicious with my Bloody Mary.

I didn't mention that when we first docked on the island, I thought it was neat to see so many golf carts and mini-cruisers. When we later rented a golf-cart so we can go sightseeing around the island, I was then baffled by the sheer number of golf-carts there were. It seemed that EVERY single household had at least one if not two golf-carts. It must be their primary mode of transportation because the roads are so steep and narrow, surely a large vehicle would get stuck or flip over.

Catalina Island is really a teeny-tiny town that sprouted along Avalon Bay. Besides the homes nestled in the hill and "downtown", there's not much to it. Besides the tourist area along the bay, there's not much commercialism elsewhere. Their grocery store is VONS and it's hidden amongst the buildings of homes, hotels and shops. You won't find Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or even a Jack-in-the-Box--places I take for granted because you can always find them in Vegas. Can you imagine buying large consumer durables or moving to and from Catalina?!

After we had driven around the island stopping at the many landmarks, there was nothing left to do but spread out on the sand and soak in some sun. My sweetheart had carried my bag all day while lugging around his backpack and it would definitely be nice to relax after walking around so much. The only problem was that the beach was so small, we couldn't even find a place to squat. The ships kept bringing in tourists throughout the day and by afternoon Avalon Bay was SO packed. People were on benches, walls, napping on the grass and anywhere they could be to rest their tired legs. There was no where else for us to go and we've done everything we possibly could so we hopped on the next available boat back to the mainland...leaving our purchased goods behind (the shop owners were kind enough to ship it to our home).

Enjoy some more pictures from our trip!

The day wasn't a waste though. As soon as we got back to Newport Beach, we changed into our swimsuits and walked down the block to the sandy beach! FINALLY, we got to lay out and enjoy the remaining sun of the day!!

Meanwhile, Aunt Jan and Grandma were preparing a deluxe BBQ feast (though that's how they really eat every day)!! Ginger-teriyaki chicken served with cucumber-tomato salad soaked in rice vinegar, a side of baby artichokes drizzled with olive oil, garlic and parmesian, and sweet corn. MMmmmm!! We all had the best time eating dinner in their backyard. (Aunt Jan and Grandma have a backyard that looks like it came out of a Better Home & Garden magazine).

See for yourself!

We were so excited to go to Hermosa Beach the next day. That's where Johnny and I met four years ago and he hadn't been back to that area for over three years. The small city by the beach looked like just as it had when we left (except we noted that everything was a little older and run-down looking). We had gotten use to Vegas and the new buildings that sprouted weekly. Parking is a nightmare. Mostly meters and you must have a permit to park in the residential areas. The locals can also park at marked meters. When we use to frequent Hermosa, we knew that you park your car, you never leave your spot because you'll be lucky to find another parking space. So we were fortunate to find a church offering $10 to park all day and we were happy to pay. It benefits the church and will be a tax write-off for us!

Our first stop was lunch at Hennessey's Tavern on the Hermosa Pier overlooking the Strand and the big beautiful ocean. We opt for the patio seating and people watched...reminiscing over our days we were glad to have but would not relive. After lunch, we strolled down the strip of sidewalk past joggers, dogs, walkers, skateboarders and people on their bikes. I believe the sidewalk, which is called the Strand, runs from Santa Monica to Newport Beach if you dare take the entire path. Believe me, it's been done!

In Hermosa, bicycles are the mode of transportation as golf carts are for Catalina. Once we were sick of looking at the gigantic houses along the beach, we settled in the warm sand to feel the cool breeze of the ocean. In Hermosa, the air felt like 77 degrees and the heat was much milder than Catalina.

We had a lovely day in Hermosa Beach but enjoyed enough fun at that place for the year so we headed back to Newport to meet Johnny's cousin for dinner. Lindsay took us to California Sushi where they like to bang their rice blocks to the tune of Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight".

When it was time to head home to Vegas, we were sad to leave our Aunt Jan and grandma though we had the best time with them during our stay in Newport Beach.

On our way home on the I-215, we stopped at the Bun Boy in Baker, home of the World's Biggest Thermometer and it was 112 degrees! Not too hot for us--we love the heat and we love to eat! I had never been to Bun Boy and was glad to have had the chance. Johnny had their double cheeseburger and I had a Reuben with coleslaw. Delicious!!

It was good to be home after a nice long weekend. We wanted to be able to relax at home and prepare for the week. Plus we missed our kitty, Winnie. BUT the next day we went to the Hard Rock Hotel! (Hey, how can we NOT celebrate Independence Day and our dating anniversary?!)

The pool was nice, not too crowded as I grabbed some towels while Johnny grabbed a couple drinks for us in Hard Rock's cool tikki cups. We were lucky to find some chairs comfortably next to the pool. AAaaahhhhh!!!

So nice...and then as we were lounging, I spotted this girl walk by the other side of the pool from us. She was skinny with blonde hair, big sunglasses, on her cell phone (what's new) and sporting this god-awful leopard, animal-print-ish outfit. The kind that halters the top, comes down the center across the belly button, exposing both sides of the tummy, and then flares like a big wrap. I thought, oh--this girl SO wants to be Paris Hilton and then...she evens walks like Paris too (her shoulder movement was like how gangly girls moved as if to keep their balance). But then she was also being followed by body guards. I realized those guys weren't just going the same way as she.

I heard Johnny to the side of me mention what awful tan lines she already had and how worse they were going to be with that hideous outfit. And then he asked, "Is that Paris Hilton?"

Then this girl who had been lounging with her boyfriend in front of us confirmed that it was indeed, Paris. We eventually made friends with this couple. Turned out they work in the radio business in L.A. and had heard (her new CD and that) she'd be at the Hard Rock, where they themselves were staying for business (and a Poison concert).

Paris and her sister, Nikki, were at the Hard Rock pool. That's cuz she knew we were celebrating our anniversary and just had to be where the party was!! ;)

As everyone followed her with their eyes to her cabana, I thought, eh...we're just not the starstruck type. Seen Tara Reid and Tiger Woods at the small clubs in Hermosa Beach and I use to work around creative people in Burbank whose names appeared on the big movie screens. I've been to film school and know the media and how it can glorify people. I just don't buy into that.

What I will buy is another of them cool tikki cups they served my margaritas in. They make fantastic water bottles and we've collected red, pink and green so far.

And maybe I'll buy another bikini... I hope all of you had a fantastic holiday weekend and also a happy 4th of July!!