Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Jack'o'Lanterns

Yesterday, I went out after work with co-workers, came home and then went to the laundromat to do about 5 loads of blankets and sheets and about 6 loads of clothes!!! I got home around 10:45 PM and ran into my neighbor who had left a pumpkin on my doorstep over the weekend. I thanked him for the pumpkin and he invited me to come down to carve it. He had his girlfriend and some friends over and they were having a pumpkin carving party. So, I went down and carved another pumpkin! Here's how his wall looks:

The Wall of Pumpkins

Window and Bulging Eyes

Various designs

Skeleton and Sick Pumpkin

Evan's Homemade Costume

Growing up, I never had a homemade costume. Sure, I put my little brother in my soccer uniform, but I didn't actually make a costume of any kind ever. I've always admired people who think of something and then make it.

My sister, crafty gal she is, made this costume for Evan:

Evan as Lego Man

Isn't that the cutest!? I told him he'd have the best costume out of his entire class. While all the other kids have costumes bought at Target, he has a costume custom-made by his mom. He won't be one of the five pirates in his class, that's for sure!!

EDIT: I heard from my sister and apparently, his costume was the hit of the entire school! Everyone was stopping to stare and check it out, even the 4th and 5th graders. They were giving him high-fives as he walked by. You know you're cool when you're a 1st grader getting high-fives from the older kids!

Here are some pictures of our jack'o'lanterns we made over the weekend:

Jack'o'Lanterns 2006

Hmmmm.... can you guess which one I made?!? :-)

More pictures of jack'o'lanterns made last night at my neighbors apt. to come later today!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jack'o'Lanterns from years past

*Make sure you check tomorrow when I post a picture of Evan's costume!! It's SUPER cute and homemade!!!*

When I got home last night, I found a pumpkin on my doorstep. I can only assume it's from my downstairs neighbor, Andy. His wall around his patio is fortified with pumpkins, two of which, are carved. I will post pictures of those when I get home.

I don't think I ever carved a pumpkin until I was married. I guess that one of the cultural downfalls of growing up with a Korean mom is that some American traditions just pass you by. But, my sister is keeping the tradition alive and well with Evan and they carve pumpkins every year. We carved a pumpkin each while I was out there this weekend, but I'm waiting for her to email me pictures of all the ones we made this weekend. I should be posting them tomorrow.

But, to start whipping up the Halloween spirit, here are pictures of the jack'o'lanterns they made last year!

The Sick Pumpkin

I'm Watching You!

Pumpkin Family

All Lit Up

I love this Tom (from Tom & Jerry) jack'o'lantern that my brother-in-law made. It's fabulous!!

Other people's pumpkins
I think they took pictures of these while trick-or-treating.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Video game fun

I have been buying more video game stuff lately. I'm visiting my sister and we stopped by a GameStop (they sell new/used games) and they didn't have Karaoke Revolution 1 or 2, but they did have Guitar Hero. They had one hooked up so you could try it out and it was FUN. So, of course, I bought one. It's a rhythm game that's kind of like Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) except with a fake guitar. I also bought Sims2. Why did I buy these games? Because I have ALL this free time I need to fill? :-) Well, I'm looking forward to playing them anyway!! We can have a dance/sing/guitar-off on Thanksgiving!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Off to Denver

I'm off to visit my sister (really, my nephew) again this weekend. I'm pretty much all packed. I'm taking my most gigantic suitcase because I have several board games to take out to him. I'm also going to take the Flyaway from the Van Nuys airport for the first time ever. I've heard good things about it. It will be interesting!

Saving Dinner Mega Menu Mailer Verdict

Well, several meals have been eaten (not all necessarily by me) and it seems like the consensus is that the concept is good, but that the recipes leave room for improvement. We were joking around while making them saying that they seemed to all have mustard in the recipes and were probably geared toward a midwestern palate, for example, nothing was really spicy or garlicky.

What we can all agree on is that everyone likes the convenience of having the food there just ready to eat. So, I think next time, we're going to all submit recipes we think would freeze well and try to do the freezer concept with recipes we already love and see how we like that!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Skidboot the Dog

A heart-warming segment from Texas Country Reporter, with Bob Phillips.
For more information visit www.TexasCountryReporter.com or www.skidboot.com

Monday, October 23, 2006

Follow-up to the blind date

So, my blind date's name is Bo. He's from the South and somehow that fact makes it "OK" he's called Bo. I don't think I've ever met someone named Bo who wasn't from the South. He'll try to tell you he's from Missouri and that's not the South, but as far as I'm concerned, it still is!

Anyway, Bo did call to arrange a date for last Friday and I think we both had a great time! We went to one of my favorite dive bars in Burbank, the infamous Blue Room, and then hit up a karaoke bar called the Smogcutter in Silverlake that was awful... awfully good! They don't have any new songs, it's a small little room and we sang the worst rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody EVER! He was a good sport about it considering he says he hates karaoke. That, I believe, is a big, fat lie. He knew all the words to all those old songs they played. It was pretty fun. Then we went out to eat a bit and hung out for a while. I was so tired by the end of the date I was practically falling asleep on him. But, I think by that point, I had been awake for over 20 hours, so what do you expect?? I'm not the Energizer Bunny!

Overall though, the date was pretty cool. Oh and he likes my cats, so that's a plus! I think the thing I like the best about him is that he seems very dependable. I really like that in a guy. That is definitely one of my "must-haves".

1 vs. 100 Screen Shots

Recently a guy I went to high school contacted me. He found me because I'm a link on a mutual friend's blog. Isn't it just so odd how you can not ever have talked to someone in high school and yet feel some kind of connection because you grew up in the same town and went to the same high school? It really is...

Anyway, he captured several images from 1 vs. 100 and without further ado...

1 vs 100 Group Shot

1 vs 100 - waiting for the next question

1 vs 100 - clapping

1 vs 100 - Answering the Monk question

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Here's how the richer get richer...

OK, you know that saying: "It takes money to make money"?

Well, I started my Vanguard investment account about one month ago. Since then, my account (thanks to the stock market has just been out of control lately), has gone up 3.9%. In one month. That's crazy! My EmigrantDirect and ING accounts are paying about 4.9% per year.

So let's put that into some numbers, shall we?

Let's say I invested $1,000:
In my online savings account, after a month I'd have about $1,004.08.
In my Vanguard account, after a month I'd have about $1,039.00.

The downside is that the stock market could tank and then I'd be in trouble! But if it stays relatively stable or on an upward trend, I should be fine.

But it's easy to see how you can make money without doing more work if you have money to invest and let it do the work for you!

The 1 vs. 100 Saga

Ugh, I had an awful experience taping 1 vs. 100 back in August. This is long, so feel free to skip it!!

Here's why it sucked...

I got to the studio at 7:30 AM on Saturday morning and was there until about 8 PM. Yes, over 12 hours! When I arrived, I basically stood in a line out on the sidewalk waiting to get escorted in to a large hangar style room with chairs in groups of 100. They had three groups of 100 that came in that day. I found out while standing in line that there had been a taping the day before that had gone horribly wrong so they didn't actually get anything they could use, so all those people were "invited" to come back for Saturday's taping.

I think I stood in line for almost an hour before they escorted my group in. Luckily, I was put in the first mob. We got some paperwork, sat in our assigned seating and then talked with each other and waited. And waited. Because of the game show scandal back in the 50s, contestants are sequestered and monitored pretty strictly. That meant that no one could leave the room to use the restroom without an escort. So around 9:30 AM, they said that anyone who needed to use the restroom could get in line and they would escort them to and fro. They neglected to mention that this would be the ONLY time we'd have to use the restroom before the taping began. And just to wrap this part of the story up, my group was not allowed to use the restroom until almost 3 PM. One lady in the row above me urinated on herself and THEN decided to leave. Don't you leave before you piss yourself? I mean, really, is a little cash worth your self-respect?

The set for the show was pretty impressive, but the downside was that we had to stand the entire time. They had these little wooden benches built into the wall behind you, but they were tiny and not very comfortable. I was lucky that I was standing next to Sal, a stand-up comic/personal trainer, who kept me entertained most of the day. Bob Saget was actually pretty funny, but a little too much poop humor for me.

The biggest problem though was the rule change they did between the time I auditioned and the time of the taping. At the audition, they explained the premise of the show, and granted, they did say that the rules had not been finalized. However, the major rule change they did do was horrible! Originally, if the "1" could walk away at any time with the money they had accumulated up to that point. If they saw the next question and got it wrong, all money accumulated up to that point would be divided up among the remaining mob members. Imagine my not-very-happy face when they explained that they had changed that rule and now, IF the "1" saw the next question, but then didn't know the answer, they could walk away with 25% of the amount they had accumulated up to that point. That pretty much guarantees that the mob will get nothing. The only way the mob would get anything would be if the "1" honestly just made a mistake or if the "1" was a gambler and took a chance and was wrong. Who's going to do that?? Well, not the first contestant! He got up to $135K (?) and then decided to just take the money.

After taping the first two contestants, I was still alive in the mob. I could've elected to come back on Sunday to tape more, but I was so frustrated by that time, I decided to pass on it. Well, it turns out they changed the rules before Sunday's taping (probably because they realized how RIDICULOUS they were!) and made it that if the "1" went to the next question, there was no escape clause. Either they got it right and kept the cash or got it wrong and the mob did. Even knowing one of the mobs on Sunday won some $$, it just wasn't worth it to me to come back. Perhaps I would've, IF they had told us there was going to be a change in the rules.

Here's what would make that show a LOT better too. If when the "1" got a question wrong, they randomly picked someone out of the remaining mob to become the "1". That would make it more of an incentive to become a mob member.

I have a couple friends who want to try out for the show even though they think it's awful. I'd go back at this point. I don't know when they will be taping more of them. I guess it just depends on how the ratings are.

On the plus side, I had a couple people who saw me on 1 vs. 100 and they didn't even really know I was supposed to be on there. They recognized me! My game show fame continues! :-)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Blind date results

At his suggestion, I met my blind date at Ireland's 32, a dive bar in Van Nuys. I probably should've been a little more concerned about my safety than I was, but I just didn't think anything bad would happen and nothing did, so I was right not to worry.

At my suggestion, we wore old band t-shirts that were the "roses in our hair" to recognize each other. I wore a B-52s shirt (what else?) and he wore a Lemonheads t-shirt. He was cute! He bought me a drink and we chatted for a couple hours and listened to some pretty decent karaoke. He's from Missouri and moved out here a few years ago to write and direct (how LA, I know!) and I guess he's making a living at it, probably supplemented by editing on the side. He was funny and fun.

I gave him my phone number while we were in the bar and then when we went outside, he asked what I was doing on Friday. He wants to take me on a date. I told him to call me and then we'd discuss whether I'd go out with him on Friday. I already have plans to go to a spa happy hour with Shane & Lana until 8 PM, so I could go out with him after that, but first we'll see if he even calls. My gut says he will, but who knows?

Overall, a good date and good conversation. He asked lots of questions as did I, and we had fun! So, no blind date horror story. It's almost disappointing, isn't it? That was part of the excitement of going on the blind date, the fear that things could just go horribly wrong. I'm glad they didn't though. If nothing else, I guess it's good dating practice!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Saving Dinner Mega Menu Mailer

Whew! That's all I have to say! We chopped, sliced, diced, cut and assembled a total of 74 meals. We worked our hands to the bone and had a great time!! I purchased Mega Menu Mailer 2 and we got together yesterday at my apartment with its small kitchen and had a great time assembling all the meals. Actually, aside from my weird perfectionist tendancies, I think we all had a fun time. It took about 4 1/2 hours to assemble everything and another 1/2 hour to divvy everything up and pack'em up to go home.

I did most of the shopping on Saturday and the bulk of it was at Sunland Produce which is AMAZING! I have known about this place for years, but just never actually made it over there! I had done some pricing at Costco earlier in the week so I had an idea of how much it "could've" cost. Sunland Produce had boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.79/lb as opposed to Costco's (and Vons') $2.99/lb. Considering I had to buy 20+ lbs, we ended up saving $25 just on chicken. And the produce! It looked as good (if not better) than Vons and the prices were WAY less! Red bell peppers - Vons: $3.49/lb, Sunland: $1.19/lb. Ridiculous!

The good news is that thanks to Sunland Produce and Costco, the cost of all the groceries was about $330 to make DOUBLE the Mega Menu Mailer 2. And then we split a lot of the recipes into servings for 2 people vs. the 4 servings. So, everyone ended up with about 10 meals or so.

The fruits of our labor View 1

The fruits of our labor View 2

We are going to eat them up and then see how well we like the meals. If we like them, we'll probably end up doing it again in a month or two! I'll report back on the taste of the meals!

Sunland Produce
8840 Glenoaks Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
(818) 504-6629

Friday, October 13, 2006

1 vs. 100 Airs tonight!

Well, finally! 1 vs. 100 is airing tonight. I have no idea if I'll be on the shows they air or not. Apparently, they changed the way the game was played so they may have thrown out the first two episodes that I'm on. We'll see! I'm #61 in the mob.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blind date

Here's what happens when you have free time on your hands at lunch...


OK, so I saw an ad in the "men seeking women" category that simply said:

I love blind dates and want to go on one. HERE ARE THE RULES. Must be semi attractive, not BBW, have a job and not be under 23. This goes for me as well, I have to be semi attractive, not 300 pounds and have hair. So if you are game, let THE BLIND DATE CRAZYNESS BEGIN. I think this is so much fun and scary.

Well, I met all the "qualifications" so, I replied. And the scene has been set. I'm having my first official blind date at a dive bar on Sunday! Yes, I am crazy. The least I'll get out of it is an interesting experience right? Don't worry, I've told two people where I'm meeting him and when so they'll know where to look for my dead body. (OK, that's a little morbid, but I wouldn't be "worst case scenario woman" if I didn't think that!)

Now the weird thing about that last statement is that I'm a big contradiction! While I am worst case scenario woman, I'm also WILDLY optimistic. How do those two reconcile in my mind? I have no idea.

UPDATE: He emailed me because he was confused about some of his plans, so it's been rescheduled to Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Freezer dinners

Everyone's tried Dream Dinners, right? Well, I know lots of my friends and I have tried it. It's a great concept! I sent out some feelers to see if anyone's interested in getting together at my place and doing our own little Dream Dinners session using one of these Mega-Menu Mailers from SavingDinner.com. We'll see! If we do it, I can't wait to see how it goes!

I used the menu mailer for last Thanksgiving and Christmas from the website and it worked beautifully!! So I have faith that these mega menus will work too.

Update: I have several people interested, so I think we'll do a trial run this Sunday!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Debt restricts you

Having debt sucks! The only debt I have is a student loan. I consider myself debt-free though because I'm choosing to not pay off the student loan because the interest rate on the loan is about 2.6% and my EmigrantDirect account pays over 5% in interest. So, I just keep making my mandatory monthly payments because I'm making money by doing it this way.

I'm frugal. I'm not cheap, but I certainly don't just spend money like it's water. As far as credit cards go, I pay them off every month. So I never have an outstanding balance that carries over. My car has been paid off for at least five years and it has about 113K miles on it. I spent about $1K in July for a major tune-up and a minor repair on it and I plan on keeping it until it dies or I just get sick of it. So far, it doesn't bother me! Sure, it's not some fancy car with leather interior, but it's functional and decent.

I know people of varying levels of debt. They range from completely debt-free to hampered down by credit card debt, student loans and car loans. (I don't think any of my friends have this, but one of my pet peeves is car leases!!)

I have one friend who chalked up a lot of debt over the last 10-15 years because he was a single father working a not-so-great job simply for stability for his son. Now that his son is all grown up and he has a MUCH better job, he's been working the last couple years to pay down his debt. We were talking about it last week and he thinks that by the end of next year, he may finally be out of credit card debt! He's so excited about it and I'm excited for him! We're planning on having a party to celebrate his debt-free status once he's all done!

Debt chokes the life out of you and prevents you from following your dreams. Having financial freedom is so liberating! I wish everyone would live within their means. It's tough to do, but like anything, you really can appreciate what you've worked and waited for. There's no satisfaction in getting something for nothing. Just talking about it with my friend reminds me about how happy I am that I don't have to worry about that!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thanksgiving is right around the corner

OK, Thanksgiving isn't really right around the corner, but it feels like it. I've already started contemplating what I should do this year for Thanksgiving.

While married, I usually went to my mother-in-law's house for T-day dinner. She is an excellent cook and it was usually fun to catch up with my husband's family.

Last year, I knew things were headed for splitsville, so I decided cook my own T-day dinner for my side of the family and some friends and we had such a good time! It was the best Thanksgiving I think we ever had because we talked, laughed, ate yummy food and just enjoyed each other's company without any of the family BS that seemed to come out sometimes at his mom's house.

Well, this year, I'm not dating anyone and I don't have any family left in the area really and I don't know that I want to travel over that weekend, so I am contemplating having another T-day dinner at my apartment. It would be small and cozy, but I know a few people who are planning on being in town and I could find more I'm sure. Someone suggested doing a MyPC event to get people who are leftover in town and I may very well do that. We'll see how many people I find who are left in town before I do that. Oh! And maybe I'll host an all day games event the following day to help eat up all the leftovers!!

I loved the menu from last year, so I will probably stick to something very similar. It's not the turkey that makes the dinner, it's all the sides and the gravy. Mmmmm...

Fall is upon us

I've gone hiking a couple times since Saturday and it's been great! I have never really tried hiking before and I'd have to say it's pretty enjoyable! Much better than just walking around on a track or doing the stairclimber at the gym. What I've noticed is that it is getting a little cooler which made me realize that it is now autumn!

I love fall. Truth be told, I love all the seasons - and living in southern California, I use the word "seasons" very lightly.

Here's what I love about fall:

It's the beginning of the holiday season! We get Halloween and Thanksgiving which will be followed up by a wintiferious Christmas! I don't know what I'm going to be for Halloween, but hopefully I'll figure it out soon!

It's football season! I don't sit glued to the TV, but I love having a game on and listening to everything while I do my mindless household tasks...

It's cool enough to cook hot food! Baking cookies, simmering soups, roasted vegetables and meat... mmmmmm...

I have a reason to knit! Who doesn't need a scarf or hat?

I get to wear all my warm clothes! They've been staring at me in my closet for months and now, I can wear them again!

Monday, October 02, 2006

100 New Games! Check!

When I originally decided to try to play 100 new games this year, I figured I could probably do it by the end of the year. I never imagined I'd get it done by October 1st! I played my 100th game yesterday. It was Mystery Rummy: Murder in the Rue Morgue. With BGG con coming up in November, I'm sure I'll add more to that list.