Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Can Getting Laid Off From Your Job Be A Good Thing?

Last week my friend ‘Katie’ joined the ranks of the California unemployed. She was laid off from her agency marketing job. Over the last couple of months, I know of at least ten skilled, intelligent, creative and hard working people who were laid off from their jobs. Recently I wrote the post fifteen tips on how to support a friend after they have been laid off. But, as the times and job opportunities still have not improved, I wanted to add on to that article so you can help yourself or loved ones through the daily grind that is unemployment.

OK let's face it, our laid off friends get to make some tough decisions in their days…such as, ‘Which coffee shop should I work at today? Should I go for my run now or later in the day when the fog clears?’ Although, we’d all like to have these options, having to fill up your days without the camaraderie of co-workers or a planned work schedule can be difficult to get adjusted to.

In fact, many unemployed ask themselves, ‘Now what do I do with my days?’ Of course, it's usually Murphy's law that as soon as they start to enjoy their time off, they find full time work. My advice is to encourage your unemployed friends to create a daily schedule and fill out a list of things for the week that can be accomplished. Referring back to my earlier post, here are a 2 specifics you can do to help your friends or loved ones.

11) Point out your friend’s skills and talents. It is very easy for them to get down on themselves. Remind them that a bad experience should not define them.

The reality is your unemployed friends need frequent reminding that they are very skilled, and have a lot of talent. As soon as the job market improves they will have plenty of opportunities to choose from. Wouldn’t you feel down if you were unemployed for months and hadn't heard back from recruiters, gone on any real interviews or had any new leads on jobs even though you've been sending out tons of resumes?

15) Help them create a support system. Connect your friends to other people that you know who have been laid off. This will let them network and vent. It helps to be able to talk to someone who has gone through the same pains.

I’ve noticed recently that my unemployed friends are pulling their connections together, taking care of one another and starting to reinvent themselves. Full time work is not as available, so many are turning to their entrepreneurial side and starting new companies.

I’ve also noticed that many others are returning to having a more balanced life? Isn’t that a wonderful thing? People are reading more frequently, taking better care of themselves and spending more time with their families.

And so I ask, how can folks make the best of being laid off? What would you do with the extra time? Who would you need support from? Please read this post whenever you are feeling down and know that you are not alone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mommy Can I Help You Balance Your Checkbook? The School of Life

I remember being in college when I took my first marriage and family class. I loved learning the tips and about the psychology, but why did it take it so long for our educational system to offer me these classes? If we are trying to teach our children to grow up to be productive members of society, then why wait to teach them life skills in their early twenties? Are we scared to teach classes on running a household, how to manage our checkbooks or how to have a successful relationship? Or do we not have enough time to teach it all.

I started off in college with an undeclared major. I knew at the age of eighteen, I needed to take some classes before I decided what career I was going to have for the rest of my life. I cannot tell you the looks that I got from the school guidance counselor and adults, when I told them my decision to still think about my major.

Two years into school, I declared my major as psychology and then specialized a year later with a Child and Family Studies degree. After taking psychology classes and participating in an internship I just ‘knew’ that I wanted to specialize in working with children and families.

At a holiday party, adults asked me what my major was and I was able to say, “Ah yes, I am now a child and family studies major.” “Oh you’re going to have a wonderful marriage then!” was the usual reply.

That wasn’t why I was taking those classes, but just like I needed science, math, art and a language to be taught a well-rounded education, I felt that psychology classes should be mandatory to me as well.

If I had been taught at an early age in school the necessary life skills like raising children, paying bills, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, stocks, marriage and accepting people with different backgrounds then maybe I could have decided my major much earlier on.

Do we assume that children are being taught these life skills at home? And what if this doesn't happen? What if the parent’s assume their children are being taught these skills at school? Trust me, I have met some of those adults. These adults almost broke down when they realized that they would have to pay their own bills, run their own home and somehow keep their marriage afloat.

Now imagine two sixth graders discussing their upcoming quiz on paying bills after taking the bills class in school.

Susie “OK I have $100 in my bank account, but I have two bills coming. One for PG&E for $40 and the other for my health insurance for $30, how much money will I have left over?”

Katie “Don’t forget to leave some money aside for the groceries. Maybe we should set aside $130 for the month for bills.”

Wouldn’t it also benefit everyone and our society if we taught our children, say in the fifth grade about accepting others who are different to us? These classes could be about learning that there is a lot to learn from someone that is different. Different cultures, religion and sexual orientation makes each person unique and special. To me this is class in school that I would have loved to take.

So the next time you are about to do the chore that you most hate, balancing your checkbook, try to think of it as a learning exercise for your child. My suggestion is that you call little ‘Johnny or Susie’ over, give them a fake checkbook to follow along in crayon and teach them this life skill. Plus if you make it fun maybe they won’t hate balancing the checkbook they way that I do ☺

I will announce the two winners of the Happy Birthday to Me Guest Blogger Giveaway on Wednesday April 29th so you still have time to enter. Good luck! Please comment on this post and tell me another skill you would like to taught in school or advice you may have.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to me and Guest Blogger Giveaway!

Today is my birthday! I am one of those people that get very excited about birthdays. Excited about my own birthday and everyone else’s. I feel like I get to be a celebrity for a day. And you too can feel like a celebrity by winning a guest blogging spot here on Under the Sheets-Shhh. Go on and enter. You know you want to. Plus it's so easy and can also check out these other contests.

As I’ve mentioned to you before I’ve moved around a lot in life. So on my birthday my cell phone rings a lot from calls from my family and friends from around the world. (I am so lucky!) So today is my birthday and I am very excited to be turning ‘26’ again.

I also think that since I had a very difficult childhood, birthdays have become a day for me to reflect, think of my loved ones and reflect on the past year. So I wanted to do a guest blogger giveaway to my blogger friends to say thank you for all of your support and care to me over this last year.

So here’s how you can win a guest post on Under the Sheets:

1) I would love for you to write a post about the below pictures. All I ask is that it’s creative and fun as it’s a birthday present to me ☺
2) Comment on this post what your title would be (just the title) and then I will choose two lucky winners to guest post.
3) If you are the winner then on your blog you will link back here to Under the Sheets-Shhh and tell your followers that your guest blogging and then I will link back to you on post day.
4) Doesn’t this sound like fun?

OK so here are the random photos that I would love to hear your ideas about a title. Email me if you interested in knowing what the pictures are of at 

And thank you for my blogging present. 

How did you know it's exactly what I wanted?!

* I think that this is the best laundry mats name. There are actual socks glued to the floor. Look closely and you can see me taking the picture in the window. And yes I do believe in sock heaven. Don't you?
* "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie"... This couple at my local coffee shop was so into each other that I am pretty sure they didn't even notice me take the picture of them.

* Yes, this is a woman, dressed in a banana suit at a wonderful juice bar that I love. Should I drink the wheatgrass? No way it almost killed me :)

Now it's your turn. Turn on those creative juices and wow me. Haven't you been waiting for an opportunity like to this to fall into your lap? Guest blogging for everyone. Sorry birthday's get me very excited....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our Definition of 'What Being A Survivor' Truly Means

Many people have asked my opinion of what I think the definition of a survivor is? My definition of a survivor is someone that has been brought down to their knees by a tragedy and makes the decision to get back up and fight back. I believe that we are given two roads to go down and we need to choose the road to live a happy and productive life. I am a survivor because my manic depressive upbringing didn't break me, but made me stronger. And I am able to share my experiences with you.
I know for someone to survive, they have to be super aware that the pain will help them grow and they will be able to move over the pain to survive. Being aware is key. There have been times in my life when I felt Wonder Woman's power to survive and other times when I have felt no power, like I was an empty shell.

On the TV show Survivor the contestants seem to be able to survive the wilderness because they are apart of a tribe. They have a team of people that help them through to the end of the game and to the million dollar prize. Having good people around is the key to survival. Don't you agree?

On the Under the Sheets poll, 60% of you voted and selected that the true meaning of being a survivor is someone that lives to tell the tale.  And 40% of you said that it is someone that can enjoy each day.

I agree with you. Sure a survivor is someone that lives to tell the tale, but we also need to go one step further. To truly survive we can also life wonderful lives and appreciate each day. It is a delicate balancing act of where you were, with where you are trying to go.

The Free Dictionary's definition to sur·vive is  v. sur·vivedsur·viv·ingsur·vives

1. To remain alive or in existence.

2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere: families that were surviving in tents after the flood.

3. To remain functional or usable: I dropped the radio, but it survived.


1. To live longer than; outlive: She survived her husband by five years.

2. To live, persist, or remain usable through: plants that can survive frosts; a clock that survived a fall.

3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after: survived child abuse.

My thoughts are: to remain alive and or in existence is a wonderful way of saying that without the proper nutrients in life we cannot survive. Mentally and physically, but I know that it also takes perseverance after the trauma and how you walk through life that saves you. Do you hold everything in, keep your guard up or are you open to life and fight through? Dare I say to hang onto hope and light.

In a recent post I wrote about being a survivor, 'After she had announced that we would move to Laguna Beach, (we eventually moved about 20 minutes away to Newport Beach and lived there for four years) she drew the curtains closed in her hotel room and stayed indoors for three days. No matter where we were going to move her manic depression was going to move with us.' My Manic Depressive Upbringing: #6 We're Moving.

It was my question ' What do you think is the definition of a survivor?' that sparked my following blogger friends to comment:

Simplicity ~ Survivor- A person who faces their inner and outer demons in an attempt to create a better path going forward than the one they're walking on. All the while, being aware of the people in their surroundings and being mindful of their feelings.

Sasha It's a balancing act. You are a trapeze artist! But what I think makes you a true survivor is that there is no bitterness through your story...having gone through tough times..but coming out of it with such integrity as you...that is the definition of a true survivor. 

tanya A survivor is someone who lives to tell the tale. 

mighty jo A survivor is someone who witnesses the horrors but can still find the good things in life. 

Linda S. Socha You are the definition of a survivor. A creative survivor. It is very difficult for most people who have not experienced this kind of life to really have an understanding of what it means to a child. 

Donna Maria You are simply amazing, brave and a survivor...

June Saville I think the most difficult thing in this situation is to realize which behaviour belongs to the illness and which to the person we love.

All of your comments really touched me and thank you to all of you. 

What do you think the definition of a survivor is? So you agree that survival is like a trapeze act? What advice would you give to someone so they go down the right path?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can Step families Work? My Little Brother Interview

I was in college when I found I out that I was going to be an older sister for the second time. I felt so many emotions. I had never even thought about the possibility of this happening, but my Father remarried and then came the wonderful news. My little brother P and I have always been very close. We are both emotional and creative and we seemed to bond right away.

My Father and I were lucky enough to get this second chance of having a larger family. My life became much fuller, brighter, warmer and funnier with P in it. So I wanted to share with you some of his thoughts on his life in today's world.

P is a thirteen year old funny, smart, emotional, sports fanatic guy who cannot wait to become a professional basketball player. And I just saw P's Facebook status update and it said 'My big sis is in town. ' Ah P thanx.


How old are you and where were you born? I am turning 14 and was raised in Woodland Hills, Ca for most of my life.

What grade are you in? I'm in eighth grade going into ninth.

How do you feel about going into high school? I am nervous, but very excited because it’s going to be a much better experience then any of the other school years. Grade wise and social wise. My school will be much bigger and I will have to adapt to the environment. I am also scared to go into high school because I am going from being the big eighth grader to a puny freshman.

How did I get the name Lala? When I was a little boy I couldn’t pronounce Laura. I tried, but the word that came out for Laura was Lala. It has stuck around for my whole life. And many people use my nickname for you, but it’s mine!

Do you know what a recession is? No. Never heard the word before. Can you tell me?

What does the word Economy then mean to you? Economy is like the way the value of money is in our country. How people use money and how the world is right now. The economy is terrible right now due to a former Presidents mistakes. It's not all his fault, but he made some mistakes.

What are your feelings about President Obama? I think he’s a good president so far, but in my eyes he’s a great speaker, with great ideas and great determination. He’s trying as hard as he can to save our society, but one man can only do so much.

What job do want to have when you're older? I want to be a professional basketball player. I know I might sound naive, but I know I’m really good at basketball and if your good at a sport you have a greater advantage to go to colleges for cheaper. If I am not a basketball player then I see myself going to Law School and hopefully becoming a sports agent. If you have a Law degree then more options can open for you.

Do you believe in marriage and having children? Yes, strongly. I believe if two people are in love and they want to be together forever they should get married. It’s a free country. I think gays and lesbians should also be able to marry. They can be seen as differeny, but they only have different beliefs. I do see myself as getting married and having two or three children.

Where will you be in five years? I will be nineteen and I will be in my first year in college. I would like to go to a good college like UCSB or a college of that caliber.

What are your favorite books, artists, movies and TV shows? I like the Caroline B. Cooney books. She has many well known books and I’ve read pretty much all of them. My favorite book so far is The Terrorist. It’s not the kind of book it sounds like. It's about a family who moves to England and the little boy of the family is on the subway and a man hands him a wrapped package and says his friend dropped it. Sadly the little boy dies and his older sister is determined to find the killer and make things right. I strongly recommend this book to anyone of any age.

Artists: I like bands like the All American Rejects to Kanye West. I like all music hip hop to rock to pop. Bench Warmers, Angels on the Outfield and Epic Movie.

TV Shows: ESPN, pretty much anything on VH1 or MTV, I also like George Lopez, Home Improvement and Family Matters.

What is it like to have an older sister that is nineteen years apart from you and to have a father that has been married before? I think it’s pretty cool to have a sister and brother that’s been through what I am about to go through. They are always there to give me advice no matter what my question is. I’m fine with my Dad being married twice. I’m just glad that he gave me two great siblings with another wife and then married my mom who looks at my older sister (you) and brother as her own.

How important are your friends to you? They are the most important thing to me besides family. They are my second family. I can always look to them for advice and to have a good time.

How important are sports to you? They are extremely important if I didn’t have sports I would have a much less exciting life, with less opportunities. My whole life, I’ve been in a variety of sports and it helped me make friends at an early age. 

If you could give advice to adults about raising children what would it be? As a kid, I say that adults should give fewer punishments because many parents see a mistake that children make as something wrong and unacceptable. I think parents should see the mistakes as lessons. Punishing children too much sometimes turns children against adults. I know many children when they get punished think to themselves, I have the worse parents and I will not do this when I become a parent. As I am maturing, I know that you have to punish sometimes to get the lesson across to children. Other kids may see this differently then me.

Thank you P for taking the time to share with us your thoughts. From my experience, I know that Step families can work. You just have to put your heart and time in. Don't you just love P's thoughts on going into high school next year and on punishing children too much? It took me right back. *Below is one of my favorite pictures of P and Alcatraz.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Can Step families Work? My Little Sister Interview

I have been asked many times why I don't have children yet. Other then waiting for the right time, I was lucky enough to be given two bonus siblings when my Father remarried. My little brother was born when I was 19 and then my sister was born when I was 20. It was then, that I made the decision that I would fully participate in their lives.

They mean the world to me and I feel so close to both of them. In a blink they are now in Junior High and almost in High School. On my most recent trip home to visit my family, I sat with my little sister and interviewed her for Under the Sheets-Shhh and for you.

D is a very talkative, fashionable, funny, sarcastic little diva that is very maternal at heart and the baby of our family. Can you imagine what it would be like to be in Junior High with an older sister twenty years older then you?

OK D inquiring minds want to know..... take it away.


How old are you and where were you born? Twelve and raised in Woodland Hills, Ca.

What grade are you now in? I'm in sixth grade.

Do you like school? No. Because it’s boring and I don’t get to talk. Teachers are not understanding of my need to socialize.

What job do you want to have when you're older? A hairdresser because I have liked styling and cutting hair ever since I was little. I use to try to cut my dolls hair, but it wouldn't grow back:) I'd like to work in a salon in Paris not on movie sets. Lala remember when I use to put all of those clips in your hair and I made your head bleed? I was practicing for my future clients.

Do you believe in marriage? And do you want to have children? I believe in marriage and I don’t want to have kids. I want to adopt. I do not want to go through all the pain of giving birth. Even though I would adopt a child, I would love it as if it was mine. Marriage is for me because I picture myself when I’m older (28 yrs. Old) living with my loving family (my husband, my loving child and my Jack Russel).

Where do you think you'll be in five years? In five years I will be 17 years old and I will be a senior in high school. I’ll be a preppy cheerleader, with an awesome boyfriend and friends. I want to go to college, but I dream of going to a hair dressing college for my certificate in hair.

What are you favorite book, artists, movies and TV shows?

Kanye West, Flo Rider, Colbie Caillat, PussyCat Dolls, Rihanna, The Clique Series, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Pimp My Ride, Parental Control, My Name is Earl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Date Movie, DodgeBall.

What is your favorite food? Pizza, French fries and Ice cream. (chocolate malted crunch)

How do you feel about fashion and what are your favorite stores and designers? I love clothes, but I hate sewing. I use to love dressing up my dolls in cute outfits. The reason that I wake up in the morning is to get dressed. My favorite stores are: Hollister, Hot Topic, Abercrombie and Victoria Secret.

Do you know what a recession is? Yes, its something to do with the economy. Lots of people are being laid off now and some businesses are going bankrupt.

What are your thoughts about President Obama? I think he is a loyal president. I believe he has the power to run our country.

What is it like to have an older sister that is twenty-one years apart from you? Its kinda weird having you be so much older than me, but I can talk to you about anything.

How important are your friends to you? My friends are very important to me. I love them and I don’t know what I would do without them.

Thank you so much D for sharing your thoughts with us. Can I be your first client at your Paris hair salon if you promise not to make my head bleed? Oh and if you haven't already please join our Facebook Northern Califorinia Blogger Network. We are very excited about our new group and you can become a founding member. Stay tuned for my little brother's interview on Tuesday April 21sr.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Stop Shopping Challenge

My brother and I were talking recently about the yin and yang that is men and women. Ah yes, talking to my young grasshopper about the facts of life. We talked about how opposites attract and how to make relationships work. As always, he gave me a lot of great insight into how the male mind works. Hopefully I helped as well:) He asked me one question that still lingered after we spoke… ‘Do women ever go to their closet, look inside and think my closet is done. I have everything that I need. I don’t need to shop!’

I'm talking about our NEED to shop. Do you know that little voice in the back of your head that tells you, ‘I need another belt,’ or ‘That dress could look better' or, 'Where did all of my signature pieces go?’ I know that voice all to well. In fact, we’re really good friends. Sometimes that voice suggests new shoes, sometimes a new bag, or sometimes a blue summer dress.

There are even movies that assume this obsession as truth and call us names like ‘Shopaholic’ and ‘Spender.’ I must admit that I sat through the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, which was passable. Though, there was one scene that I absolutely loved. It was when she froze her credit card in a block of ice to stop herself from succumbing to that voice. And then, a ‘fashion emergency’ comes and she goes to her freezer, takes out the ice block and smashes it with her high heel. While holding her credit card up in the air triumphantly, she hears the angels calling, 'Ahhhh!’

I too had this kind of emergency in college. My father had given me a credit card for ‘emergencies.’ I was working two jobs, had an internship and when I saw those shoes for that sorority dance, the voice chimed in, letting me know that it was the kind of ‘emergency’ that my dad was taking about (Not to worry the shoes were from Target, not Manolo's).

Why are we taught in our society not to be happy with what we already have? Well, advertising and marketing for one thing push that little voice into our heads to get the new moisturizer or cardigan. But, why doesn’t our society teach us to give back more? After all, aren’t we more happy or satisfied with ourselves after an afternoon volunteering and helping children?

A couple of years ago, I read the book Born To Buy. Have you read it? It really opened my eyes to the need that people have to buy many more things then they need. The writer's own experience led her to write this book. It was about her and her husband, two middle-class parents, after they had their first child. They were taking their newborn out on his first road trip. After the car was packed, the husband (an Indian) stood back, took a look at the packed car, filled with blankets, diaper bags, bouncy chairs, toys and food and said, ‘We have more stuff for a car-ride for our two month old than our entire family does in India.’

Born To Buy is a perfect title. Aren't we all born to buy in this society? Reading it made me more aware of what I purchase. When I have that voice telling me to buy, I, at the very least, try to look for products that donate proceeds to a good cause (e.g., Breast Cancer research or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Is this really enough though? Shouldn’t I be doing more? If our society is trying to go back to the basics because of our recession, then how do I stop my need to buy? Well, I can start by ignoring that voice when I go to my closet. I will open it up and say out loud “I am done. I will use what I have!” Won’t you join me this weekend?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slumlord or Landlord? #3 Put On Another Sweater!

We had been living in our new San Francisco apartment for about six months when we started to wonder about our new landlords. We're they landlords or slumlords? At the time we were two women and a man living in their apartment. If something needed to be fixed then we would fix it ourselves. If something big needed to be fixed then we asked our guy roommate 'Wes' to call the landlords. They gave him little trouble and had the item fixed right away. But if ''Sarah' or I called then the lady landlord gave us a lot of attitude. She would also try to get out of spending the money. I remember thinking 'This is not going to be fun.'

I really enjoyed the location of our home which was located on top of a hill. It had views from the roof, washer and dryer (which is unheard of in San Francisco) the back bedrooms faced a garden, located near a cable car line and the kitchen was huge. My roommates were great and Wes and I became good friends. He had so much to share. He was ten years older then me, loved all women (Manwhore was his other name) and traveled the world making documentary films. He fascinated me.

I started to learn, when I met a new woman that Wes was 'dating' eating breakfast the next morning to not call them by name, but call them either sweetie or honey. Neither Wes or I would probably see them again. And then Wes got an opportunity to travel to Costa Rica for three months to film. So he decided to store his stuff and move out.

Even though things had gone well with Wes, Sarah and I decided to get a third female roommate to move in.  We chose 'Jillian' to move in and enjoyed all three of us living together until we had small problems in the apartment. Once again I called the landlords and was met with resistance.

This was a fun game of cat and mouse that we played. 

Instead we fixed things ourself to remove the hassle. And then the heat gave out in January, during six weeks of pouring rain and temperatures low enough at night that can have a fire on. (Yes, I know San Francisco does not get that cold as I am from Canada :)

I asked myself 'There was no way that the landlords would let us go without heat was there?' Of course there was. Many calls were made back and forth. We were told to put on more fires, use space heaters and that they were working on replacing the heat system. This took three weeks without heat. 

We finally decided to call the rental board and were given the advice to write letters to the landlords documenting the incident. Three copies were made. One was sent to the landlord, one sent to the rental board and we kept the other.

Imagine the look on the landlords face when she received that letter. Now imagine her voice on the phone when she called me.

Landlord "Yes, Laura we received your letter. There was no need for you to get the San Francisco rental board involved."
Me "Yes, sorry there was a need as we are very cold and this has taken weeks." (I was shaking in my boots.)
And then the Landlord said" Can't you just put on another sweater?"
Me "I am wearing three!"

This lit the fire under her and our heat was fixed the next day. Have you ever dealt with a Slumlord? How would you have dealt with this situation? Check out my guest post on Fifi Flowers blog today. I loved writing about an American in Paris. Thanx again Fifi!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Photo San Francisco Tuesday!

Happy Photo Tuesday everyone! Many of you have asked what my city looks like through my eyes, so I have created some great shots of San Francisco and the Bay Area for you. Enjoy and comment away if you want to know where the pictures were taken. Let's play name that picture?

Below pic*hint: I love their drinks.

*hint: Is it a Palace?

*hint: One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Love Story: Travel & Quirks

After a lot of excitement and planning, we landed on the Island of Oahu. As soon as the tropical air touched my skin, I felt better and calm. I am sure that Hawaii is my paradise. Then we took a small plane to Kauai. Did I mention that we took a small plane? A small plane. Ah yes! The first test of our new relationship on vacation was getting me on and through the small plane ride. This was going to either make or break us or just break me.

We arrived at the small Hawaiian airport and waited to take our flight surrounded by honeymoon couples and lucky families. We were asked by inquiring minds how long we’ve been married. "One day", we answered.

So Honey had to help me through my quirk of not being afraid to fly. My reward for getting through the flight, was to stay on the most beautiful island of Kauai. I should mention here, that although Honey had never been to Kauai before, he felt he would one day retire there with a house on a beach. The house that he imagined will have invisible bathroom walls so he can still see the beach.

I held his hand tight during the flight and landing and I'm pretty sure I hurt him. At the Kauai airport we successfully found our rental car and drove through the incredible hills and waterfalls to our bed and breakfast. We had a room with a balcony that overlooked the palm trees, swimming pool and flowers.

Ah paradise!

And this is how I discovered my Honey’s quirky love for Costco. Let me explain. The next morning we were really excited about trying the breakfast. The owner of the hotel had put on quite a spread of fruits, cheeses, fresh breads, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee & tea, flowers from the garden, cereal and croissants. We ate almost everything and then Honey took a bite of his croissant and asked the owner, “Is there a Costco on the Island because these taste just like Costco's croissants.”

The owner seemed a little shocked and replied “Well, yes these croissants came from the local Costco.”

We all started laughing. Little did I know that this was my first true sign of Honey’s Costco obsession. I discovered another quirk when Honey told me he would not sleep in the sun. You know when you are lying in the sun on a beach chair and can hear the crash of the beach waves, feel the shade of a palm tree on your skin and you find yourself drifting off to sleep?
Honey will get up, go back to the hotel room and take a nap.

So I asked him, “I don’t understand. Do you not like the beach? Are you afraid of getting burned? Why don’t you just stay here on the beach and snooze?”

He replied “I like the bed and my covers.”

Learning to travel together can be quite an experience. But with each thing you learn, you get closer and closer. I tell myself, if I wanted someone that does everything exactly like me then I should just date myself. What quirks did you find in your partner? Any deal breakers?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cable Car Confessions: Monkeying Around

Ding ding all aboard. "Next stop Powell Street Chinatown. Tickets please show me your tickets please." As you know riding the cable car is one of my favorite weekly things that I do. But this cable car confession surprised even me when I saw a family and their service monkey get on the Powell-Mason cable car line. (Catch up here on the other cable car confession chapters.)

It was a Friday. I was leaving a long afternoon of volunteering downtown at an organization that creates talent shows for inner city children. There was a lot to do preparing for the upcoming show like prepare clipboards, paper copying, name tags, dolly’s, boxes, lights and microphones. The talent show was scheduled for the next day so everything had to be ready.

I was looking forward to my nightly trip home on the cable car. I had a great book with me, my iPod and the cable car wasn’t filled with tourists yet. After I got on to the cable car, I opened my book and entered my own little world of it's new chapter. Then suddenly I heard people talking and squealing with delight.

I thought to myself ' Have we passed Lombard Street yet? That was fast.'

Actually the people were squealing at the newest passenger that had entered our cable car, a monkey. Yes, that’s right a monkey dressed in a T-shirt that said ask to take my picture please. The monkey was very calm, seemed gentle and was looking at the squealing passengers.

This monkey was not alone, but with a family. The two parents (forgive me) I can only describe as hippies and their son seemed a little uncomfortable with all of the attention that they were getting.

So the monkey “family” sat down and waited for the cable car driver to come and collect their tickets. Now this is where I ask you why would a monkey be on a cable car? 

The other people on the cable car started to ask the mother (who seemed to be the leader of the family) if they could take pictures. She told them no, but thank you. I continued to watch the scene out of the corner of my eye, but pretended to read my book. Although I was also thrilled to see this monkey sitting so close to me, I felt a little attitude from the family. So the mother looked over at me and I gave her a little smile.

Finally the cable car seemed to quiet down with noise. Call it perfect timing that I looked up at the family as mother monkey maternally told the monkey to hold on tight as we went over a bump. And the monkey did. He grabbed the bar to steady himself. It was truly amazing. And then mother monkey laughed and looked around to see who was watching and caught my stare.

“That was amazing!” I told her
“It was!” She replied “ I’ve never seen him do that before. Did you know that he can understand English”
“I’m sure he knows English better then most of us.” I said laughing
and then I asked her “I was just curious how much does it cost for your monkey to ride the cable car?”
She said with a smile “All service animals ride for free.”
Please stop by Fifi flowers blog today to check out my first guest blogging post. I love the painting that Fifi did of a café photo that I took in Paris. Don't you just love it? Thank you Fifi. 

OK so my question to you is what does a monkey have to do to become a service animal? :) And where can I get a T-shirt in my size that says ask before you take my picture?

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Secret Identity the Penny Fairy

Have you ever heard of the Penny Fairy? No? Is she the sister of the Tooth Fairy? Well, no. Have you seen random pennies on the street and wondered how they got there? Let me let you in on a little secret. The Penny Fairy is me and I was dropping pennies out of the goodness of my heart up until a couple of years ago. Let me explain...

They say that opposites attract. If one is messy, the other is neat. If one is an introvert the other is outgoing. And if one is thrifty or frugal, the other likes to spend…

Over the years, honey and I have learned so much from each other. I have taught him that it is okay to spend a little more and take care of yourself. And, he has taught me to save. Honey started by introducing the concept of keeping all your change at home. You see, there was a time when I spent, continued to spend and spent some more. And when I used cash, the pennies, nickels and dimes I got back in change weighed down my purse. I used to lighten the load by dropping it in the change jar or charity box at my local coffee shop or whatever store I was in. But then, I discovered that I liked to drop pennies on the street.

Yes, I said drop pennies. It was my own charity to the streets and to all my unknown friends. I imagined the smile that would appear on a little girl’s face… you know, the one who was skipping down the street, twirling her ponytail and stopping when then found the change. It was her lucky day!

One day, honey discovered my secret identity the Penny Fairy while we were walking down the street to catch the cable car. He caught me reaching into my pocket and casually dropping a penny as we walked by.

Honey: "I think you dropped some change."
Me (starting to blush): "No, I didn't."
Honey: "Did you just drop those pennies on purpose?"
Me: "Uh, well I always have. I love to think that I am making someone else happy when they find a lucky penny and pick it up! They’ll have good luck all day”
Honey: "If you keep all your change, you can use it for other things like coffee, laundry or put some towards your savings."
Me: "A savings? What's that?"
Honey: "Boy, do we have work to do!"
Me: “You know, they call me the Penny Fairy."

Do you have a secret identity? What superpower would you have if you could choose just one? Signing off as the Penny Fairy for the last time…

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chicken Penne with Pink Sauce Recipe

When I was working in an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles in college, I learned to make pink sauce for pasta. So this is my recipe creation for Chicken Penne with Pink Sauce Pasta that I want to share with you. (I still haven’t decided if red or white wine goes better with this dish. Maybe you should try both types and let me know :) 

I love to cook this at home while wearing my apple red apron with some music going in the background. Currently my favorite cook book in my kitchen is Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentis.


1 package penne pasta  (hint: you can also use wheat pasta)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 package of button mushrooms (chopped)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 lemons
1 cup of sun dried tomatoes
1 glove of garlic
1 chopped onion
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 jar of marinara sauce
½ cup of Alfredo sauce


Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt to the water for taste. Cook pasta for about 10 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking squeeze lemon juice over chicken breast halves and then cut chicken into small pieces. Pour olive oil into the saute pan. Now add your chicken to the saute pan over medium to high heat for about 10 minutes. While chicken is cooking sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. After about 3 minutes add mushrooms to the same sauté pan. (Watch the chicken carefully and stir frequently.) Then add garlic and onion to the pan. Lastly add sun dried tomatoes to the pan and stir all of the ingredients together. Remove from heat. (Cut the center of the chicken to make sure it’s not pink inside.) 

After pasta is cooked, place in a strainer and then put penne pasta back into the medium saucepan. Add all of the ingredients (chicken, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes etc.) into the sauce pan with the pasta. In a separate bowl add the marinara and Alfredo sauce together. Your sauce should turn pink in color. Yummy. Now pour yourself a glass of wine for all of your hard work. I suggest a Pinot Grigio.

Your almost done. Over low heat pour the sauce into your medium saucepan and mix everything together. (Ingredients, pasta and sauce.) And voila you are all done. This makes 4 servings so I save some and have leftovers. What side dish would you make with this recipe? Tell me what's your favorite cookbook?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Under the Sheets Q and A Interview

My friend La Belette Rouge has tagged me with some Q and A. I love answering questions as I can pretend that I’m being interviewed. Please feel free to comment and ask me any questions that you may have. Thank you La Belette for thinking of me. Inquiring minds want to know…

Here are the guidelines:
1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention; add a question of your own. 
2. Tag eight other un-tagged people.

What is your current obsession? Cooking is my current obsession. I have committed to only eating out for dinner once or twice a week so I’m enjoying cooking at home.

Good fika place? (That would be coffee to us non-Swedes) There’s a little café near me that serves a free truffle with your coffee. Coffee and a free truffle. I ask you can life get any better then that?

Do you nap a lot? I wish I could. I am a very light sleeper and it takes a lot for me to sleep. It’s a huge sign if I am napping then I do not feel well.

Who was the last person you hugged? Honey.

What’s for dinner? BBQ chicken and ranch salad. I copied it from The Cheesecake Factory. Romaine lettuce, corn, chicken, avocado, black beans, tomatoes, ½ cup of ranch dressing and ½ a cup of BBQ sauce (mix them together). Add fried onion pieces on top of the salad and mix all together.

What was the last thing you bought? I recently bought three very soft, v-neck t-shirts from the GAP. There are such great deals out there right now.

What are you listening to right now? I am listening to Ben Folds Five- One Angry Dwarf.

What is your favorite weather? My favorite kind of weather is 75 degrees. Sunny, blue sky and little wind. I love having sun on my face without over heating. (The Miami heat is not for me or for my hair.)

What’s on your bedside table? Yellow daffodils from Trader Joe’s, apple red digital picture frame, matching apple red lamp, books and candle.

Say something to the person/s who tagged you. La Belette you are so talented and creative. I love reading your thoughts and am excited to read your book soon. Give Lily a hug for us!

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? Kauai Hawaii. Maybe I'll retire there.

Favourite vacation spot? So far it has to be Brazil. What an amazing place. I wanted to move there!

Name the things you can’t live without. Friends and family, dance and music, MacBook, laughter and Cadbury’s chocolate.

What would you like to have in your hands right now?
The cure to cancer.

What is your favorite tea flavor? I love tea as I was raised English. Earl Grey, Peppermint, Jasmine with green tea and I like bedtime tea.

What would you like to get rid of? My coffee table. I have had it for so long and it’s way to big for the room.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? I would take a ferry ride and go to Sausalito. It’s such a lovely place to stroll around. It has wine galleries, lunch places and it’s only half and hour away. The view of San Francisco from Sausalito is gorgeous.

What did you want to become as a child? A Ballerina or a child psychologist.

Where would you like to be in five years? (This is my question) I would love to have a family, my own business and be published with my own book.

What are you reading right now? Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.

What's your favorite brand of jeans? Joe's Jeans (me to La Belette and I also like 7 for All Mankind)

What designer piece of clothing would you most like to own (new or vintage)? I like to daydream about wearing a Chloe dress with some of her sunglasses.