“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Friday, December 31, 2010


Dream I had this morning.
I was riding the shuttle that takes me from my office to EMB. When I got off the shuttle I was informed that I was no longer allowed to ride it anymore because I had corrected someone's grammar a little too loudly and offended the wrong person.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On Gift Giving and Receiving

My Philosophy on Gift Giving and Receiving
It's OK to re-use wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and gift bags - It's the responsible thing to do in this day and age; it saves a bit of money, it helps the planet by not using extra or unnecessary resources, and gosh darn it, some ribbons and bows are too pretty not to use again.
It's OK to make gifts for your loved ones, rather than buying something - it shows creativity, ingenuity, thoughtfulness. Imagine receiving a gift knowing that the person who made it for you was thinking of you the whole time the gift was being made. Gosh, that just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
It's OK to give cash or gift cards instead of a gift - sometimes one just doesn't know what to get someone. Maybe the recipient wants a very specialized item and rather than buying the wrong one, sometimes it's best to send a gift card for the store where the item is sold. When I was in the 2nd grade I got a bra from an aunt. I would much rather have gotten $5.
It's OK to re-gift - this one is a bit tricky. It is OK to re-gift but one must take care to not give the gift back to the person who gave it to you (duh), and one must take care not to re-gift an item to someone in front of the person who originally gave you the gift.  Gifts are supposed to make people feel good. Re-gifting is fine, if done with care.
It's OK to put the gift receipt in the box with the gift - sometimes you don't need an espresso machine from Williams Sonoma, but you really could use a new knife. The gift-giver should recognize this and gracefully accept that a new knife from Williams Sonoma is just as lovely as a new espresso machine. Your gift of an espresso machine gave the recipient the means to buy a new knife. Every time that person uses the knife you will be remembered with fondness.
It's OK to use a gift in a manner the giver hadn't thought of - for example, one year for Christmas I received a cutting board. I didn't need a cutting board, but I liked the design, so I used it as a flat surface on top of my microwave so I could have a nice place to put my condiments that I use frequently. I've had it now for about 10 years. I still use it, and when I see it I think of the people who gave it to me.
It's OK to get some benefit out of the gift you give - for example, I have to buy a specific dollar amount of scrip every year for The Girl's school. It's OK to buy Starbucks gift cards and use those as gifts, and get credit for scrip. Another example is credit card points. I admit it, I bought some of the gifts I gave with my AMEX points. The gifts I gave were exactly the same things I would have gotten from a store, I just used alternate means of paying for them. Let's face it. Everyone who has ever given someone stuff from Bath and Body Works has taken advantage of their buy one, get one policy, am I right?
It's OK to have a gift sent directly from the website from which it is bought - Sometimes going to the store, picking out a gift, taking it home and wrapping it, then sending it out takes more time than a lot of us have, plus it costs a bit more money to pay for shipping to your house then shipping to the recipient. Sure, sometimes the wrapping isn't as exciting or pretty, but everyone loves getting packages in the mail so the 'ding dong' of the doorbell sort of makes up for the fact that it doesn't have a pretty red bow.

With All that Said, There are Some Things to Remember
Know when to stop recycling - If the paper is torn, if the paper has creases so formed that it won't fold any other way, if there is tape on the paper from past holidays that you can't remove, it's time to get rid of the paper. It's done its job. It's time to recycle it. If the gift bag has tears, if it has an old card attached to it with the "to/from" already filled out with the last recipient's information, tear it off or don't use the bag. Don't scratch it out. Don't use an Easter or Happy Birthday bag for Christmas, make sure the bag is holiday appropriate. If you're putting money or a gift card in an envelope, make sure the envelope is in good shape and don't use an envelope that has the return address for PG&E in the top left corner and try to cover it up with a Santa sticker. If you're giving a gift certificate that came from a book of certificates, make sure you take off all the perforated bits.
Don't know what to get someone? This is an easy one. If you spend even a little bit of time with the person to whom you're giving a gift, all you have to do is pay attention. It's easy to make simple leaps of logic that will usually work out. Someone works downtown probably makes frequent trips to Starbucks, in which case a SBUX card would be a welcome gift. Most women would love a gift certificate for a mani/pedi. A lot of conversations turn to food. Pay attention to where someone had a meal they liked and get them a gift card for that restaurant. It doesn't have to pay for the whole meal.If you know someone drives 60 miles each way to work every day, a gift card to Chevron will be very much appreciated. Pay attention to what you gave them last year. For three Christmasses in a row I received a new pie pan from the same person. They're nice pie pans but three years in a row?  Don't cherry pick stuff from the gift basket you got from a client at work, wrap the stuff in pieces of discarded tissue paper, throw it into a ripped gift bag and call it Christmas.

We all know that people re-gift and re-use. It's not a big deal. What is a big deal is how the gift is given. The care you put into the packaging shows how you feel about the person you're giving the gift to.  Most people are happy with thoughtful gifts.

The thought and care taken is way more important than the gift itself. The thought and care surrounding the gift is what people will remember and cherish more than the gift itself.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Blogging

I did my very first guest blogging ever. My friend Anika asked me to write a story about Santa.
 Here's what I sent her.
Hope you like it.
Be sure to check out her blogs here and here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hula knew?: The Kaona of my Hula Siblings.

In May of 2004, on the first night of hula class with Na Lei Hulu, Kumu said something that I think about often. I don't remember his exact words but he said, to a packed room that is now maybe a quarter of the size it was then, that if we stick it out, if we stay dancing with this group of people, we will become great friends with some of them, and the rest, although we may not be super close, we will feel a great connection to.
When one dances hula, one dances with the music, not to the music, and definitely not at the music. When we dance hula we will be, at least when class is in session, wearing our emotions on our sleeves. Doing this at least once a week for the last 6 years, one can't help but feel a connection to other people in the class. And it's true, there are some people in the class I have become great friends with, and I do feel a great connection with the rest of them.
Even with this connection I don't really know some of the people I dance with. I know their names. I know their pa'u. I know them by their skill. I may know if they are married or have kids. I may know where they live or what they do for a living. The fact remains, however, there are things about some of my hula siblings about which I know nothing, or at least not a whole lot.
Case in point, my hula sister Sue. I really like Sue. She's nice. She's fun to talk to. She's a beautiful dancer. I wish I knew her better. The other day I came across her website, and I have to say, I was totally blown away. You need to check out her site. She paints the most beautiful pictures of flowers, seeds, roots, shells, leaves, etc. They are so amazing and beautiful. My favorite is on this page. It's the one in the right hand column, third one down. You should check it out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Nativity Set

picture stolen from loose-as-a-moose.co.uk
When Hubby and I moved into our home about 13 years ago it was right before Christmas. My mother-in-law gave us some ornaments for the tree and an old nativity set. We put it up every year. Every year it looks a bit more weathered and it gets a little bit more broken, but we love it. MIL sometimes offers to replace bits and pieces of it, but we always turn her down.
We love our three-legged sheep, some of whom have had their eyes rubbed off over time. We love our handless angel. We love that we have to prop up the baby Jesus in his little wooden bassinet on Joseph's knee. And mostly, we love that the sheppard is missing both hands, an arm and a leg. The leg isn't missing, however. Every year we tape it on, because for some reason super-glue won't "take". This year I found it at the bottom of our Christmas box and put it next to the sheppard. The Boy was playing with the set yesterday making the wisemen kiss, making the cow attack the donkey. I tried to get it on video but he stopped. Here's what he did do . . . .

My Favorite Christmas Song is "Dogs Barking Jingle Bells"

We got our Christmas Tree yesterday. Yay! I love bringing up The Christmas Box from downstairs and going through it, greeting all of our ornaments we haven't seen in a year, putting up our Nativity Scene, untangling the lights.

We usually go to Home Depot to get our tree because it's cheaper than going to a Christmas Tree lot. This year we went to "Gu's Christmas Tree Lot" on Moraga at Great Highway. They're a small tree lot in the Outer Sunset run by local surfers. Hubby's website wrote a little piece on them. A nice group of people selling trees and giving a portion of their earnings to the SFPCA.

The kids had fun running through the lot and picking out trees. The Girl's criteria for a good tree was that it had to be taller than her. The Boy's criteria was that it had to be shorter than him. We compromised and got the one I liked.

We took it home and decorated it.

We even strung popcorn this year. We had never done that before. It was fun.

Monday, December 6, 2010

#30 and #39 done!

This weekend I accomplished two things on my list.
#30 bake 2 parsnip cakes - one for me and one for Tina.
I know it seems I'm a little obsessed with this guy, but I really enjoy reading One Hungry Chef and trying out his recipes. A few months before my last birthday I found this recipe for a parsnip cake. It sounded interesting and the pictures on this guy's blog made the cake look really yummy. I don't have any trouble with the cooking recipes from this guy. Cooking isn't an exact science and it's a lot more forgiving if you mess up. If you mess up, what you're making will probably still taste yummy, just not exactly how the recipe dictates. With baking however, one mistake could cost you the whole dessert. I was a bit concerned about this recipe because it's written in metrics. To convert the recipe to American measurements I used the site Convert-Me. I think the site served me well because the cake was pretty good. I'm such a dork, though. The cake in the picture in Mr. Hungry Chef's blog is really little. I thought the recipe was for a small cake. I doubled the recipe to compensate. I ended up making two rounds, two dozen cupcakes and half a dozen mini loafs. And to top off my dorky-ness, I didn't have any cake pans I wanted to part with so I baked Tina's cake in a pie tin. The Boy, having just learned to open the utility ladder himself, helped himself to all the broken cupcakes that didn't come out of the pan in one piece. The rest of them went to the Santa Breakfast, Bake and Craft Sale at The Girl's school on Sunday morning. The cake itself was good. It wasn't "oh my gosh, this cake is so freakin' fantastic that to eat a bite of any other cake in the world would be to betray this piece of cake in front of me" good, but it was good. I had fun with the candied fennel. I'd never candied anything before - a big pile of candied fennel looks just like shark fin soup, btw.
I gave the cake to Tina yesterday.

And the rest of the parsnip cake, plus some rockin' gingerbread The Girl made went to the bakesale.

I did one other thing on my list this weekend.
#39 - buy a blood pressure monitor
not too exciting, just nice to cross something off the list

Welcome now my friends to the show that never ends

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Nice Pictures - Where'd you steal them from?

Some of the pictures in my blog were taken by a photographer called Julie Michele. Some of the pictures were either taken by me or someone I know. Some of the pictures were ripped right from the internet, mostly from google image searches from photographers to whom I may or may not give credit.

Rest assured I make no money from any of it.