Home Family Art Homemade Frugal Living Travel

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to make a GREAT impression

I’ve been traveling with my boss for years and I hadn’t realized how much I simply followed along without utilizing any brainpower at all for simple tasks like driving to a destination, going to the restrooms – he’d enter men’s so I’d go opposite and enter women’s, finding a good restaurant, etc.

This year I’m on my own and it’s creating challenges I just wouldn’t have expected after years of visiting these same clients.

In my recent trip to LA I was so pleased with myself for driving from LA to Pasadena without getting lost that I promptly walked right into the men’s room upon arrival!

First allow me to explain that it’s in a wide open hallway where both men and women’s are quite clearly marked, why I entered the men’s room is beyond my comprehension.

Second, it is the ONLY restroom for the entire building meaning that every guy that I might potential encounter THAT day could have been in there!

Thankfully I was only presented with a person behind a stall door who’s trousers were around their feet and I thought “well that’s rather manly”, then I encountered the urinals and my brain started screaming “NO NO NO, MEN’S ROOM, MEN’S ROOM, RUN!!!!”  I tried as quietly as possible to back out of the room with hopes that no one would be walking down the very wide hallway and recognize me while quickly dashing into the women’s restroom.

When I’m embarrassed I laugh ALOT so I was quite cheerful that day, laughing at how much worse it could have been!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Condo Tales ~ Gate Etiquette

I live in a gated community.  We have two options to get through the gate:

  1. Clicker - drive up to gate, click and it opens
  2. Card - stop at call box located very far from the gate (so far in fact that delivery guys regularly get confused), wave card in front of call box, wait for gate to open

Option 2 is in my truck, which I use every day for work.  It's incredibly annoying, but not quite enough to pay 50 bucks for a clicker.

Clickers are rude drivers who butt in front of you and take your place because once they drive up to the gate you have to wait for the entire cycle of gate to go up and down before the call box will even accept acknowledgement of your card.  The gate only allows one car through at a time unless you drive really fast up on someone's bumper and tail gate in and that's just downright nasty.

I honk at anyone who appears ready to pass me as if to say "don't even think about it, I'm next"!  But sometimes that's not enough so tonight, I hit the gas, squealed my tires and sailed past the potential perpetrator flying through the open gate.

Don't mess with the big red truck!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dieting + Airport Food = Disaster

Have you noticed?  My Homemade tab has been silent since December.  That’s because I’ve stopped baking.

Baby is nine months meaning I’ve reached my limit for breast feeding; before you get all judgy on me, rest assured it’s her idea too because I’m not producing enough and she’s happier with a full bottle.   Now it’s time to get my body back because I have a full year of travel ahead and I need to fit into my business wardrobe!

This means absolutely NO more muffins until I can fit into my pants – sob!

I have a nice dinner dress that I want to fit into in two weeks and right now the buttons kinda bulge outward and I really hate it when that happens.

The Diet:
Monday, January 21st began with a healthy veggie scrambled egg mix for breakfast, boring plain tuna with carrots and hummus for lunch and something equally boring without any carbs for dinner.

Tuesday – went the same way until mid-afternoon when I forgot a snack and after 36 hours of no carbs felt myself getting extremely upset about some work issues.  I was kind enough to warn everyone that I was on a diet and that mood swings were eminent.

Wednesday – mood stabilized, body realized it was not getting carbs even though husband ate 3 muffins right in front of me!  My wonderful applesauce muffins – while I shoveled in more eggs.

Thursday – trip to LA, enter wreaking ball.  I planned so well for the morning, plain yogurt with strawberries before leaving, latte on the way to airport, on the plane I had a Starbucks tray of cheese and fruit exactly four hours after breakfast, right before landing I ate a small container of almonds and dried fruit but it didn’t help, I was HUNGRY!  Panicked at the thought of driving (see below post) while hungry I settled for the only thing I could find – Chili’s.

Oh how I hate Chili’s and their terribly over salted food.  Seriously, it’s like they dump an entire salt shaker in every dish.  And what is the deal with the lite menu having everything under 700 calories!  700!!  That’s more then half the day’s allowance for one meal!  So I cheated and had a Sante Fe wrap with chicken, pico de gaou and avocado.  At least the real food avocado cheered me up.  Yes I could have had a salad but I’m a complicated dieter and I really hate salad. 

If you have any advise on how to eat sensibly in airports, PLEASE share!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

I hate driving in LA

I suppose every seasoned traveler has an achilles’ heel; mine happens to be driving in LA - even though I lived there for 2 years in 2002 - ’03 with no problems whatsoever. 

So how did it start?

The fear and frustration began with over confidence.  Two years ago I started traveling on my own to LA.  I marched out there thinking, I’ve lived here, I know my way around.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  I got lost and was late for a meeting.  The second trip I got lost, and the third trip!  There may have been a fourth but my humility has lost count.

So there you see, fear built on statistics.

My friends laugh and say, how can you travel the world, live near Miami and be afraid of LA?  Simple, I loathe getting lost in traffic, especially fast moving traffic.

One friend suggested a GPS; I did that the last trip and it directed me to get OFF the highway I was supposed to stay on and into downtown LA traffic and I could not reroute the dumb thing fast enough to figure out where I needed to go!  It was horrible.

I learned that listening to a robot does not work for me.  I needed to go old fashioned and actually look at a map, learn the roads and know where I was going. 

I discussed the trip with my boss who gave me detailed directions, which I studied profusely before leaving the rental lot.  And you know what?  I didn’t get lost!

Not sure this makes me like driving in LA BUT I have slightly more confidence!

Charlotte's Comic ~ The Blue Whistle

Friday, January 18, 2013

Condo Tales ~ Dog Poo

One major rule of condo living is you absolutely must pick up your dog's poo every single time!  If you miss a single episode of poo, your neighbor will find it, bag it and hang it on your door knob.

Sometimes a small dogs poo will just disappear into the lawn.  You could be standing right next to him with a flashlight, look away for a second and be completely unable to find the dogs poo.  You say to yourself, that's okay I'll just find it in the morning but the next day, the poo is hanging on your door knob.

You've lived next to the same neighbors for 7 years, they know your dog and his poo so they know it's your poo.  There is no sense denying it.  You just need to do your diligence and find your dog's poo before the neighborhood poo police do.

It's just a fact of life.

Shutterfly Book

Click here to view this photo book larger
Shutterfly allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gearing up for 2013 Travel!

Baby is 9 months old so it's time for mama to hit the road!  Or air - because I fly quite a bit.  Next week I start my travel year by visiting three major cities in three weeks, bam bam bam!  First LA, then London, followed by New York.  Each trip is strategically set for 2-3 days max so as to not overly burden dear husband, who will be home with three small children.  

My tips for short travel are:
  • Two bags, one with four wheels to fit in overhead compartment (4 wheels are so much easier to navigate through airports), the second straps to the wheeled bag and serves as a laptop bag with small purse consolidated inside.
  • To get through security faster, I place my quart size toiletry bag inside the laptop bag so I can pull that out along with laptop.  I love the quart size bag rule, because it forces me to consolidate toiletries and pack light.
  • Since purse is consolidated inside the laptop bag, I wear a passport holder around my neck to hold drivers license and one credit card.  This also serves to hold airline tickets so I don't need to fuss with a purse at all.
  • My phone fits in the outer compartment of laptop bag.
And here is the lovely ensemble:

I'd love to hear your quick travel tips!  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hat Day 2013

We love Hat Day, it's a great excuse to collect hats and wear them in January!  I insist on photos at the beginning of the day while everyone is happy, even if it makes us late for school.

Yeah for Hat Day!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Toy World NEEDS a Disney Princess Train

The December holiday season for parents is intense!  Finding the perfect toy, listening to the endless clues our children leave for us, culminating in that special day when gifts are unwrapped to shrieks and cheers. 

My oldest daughter is 4, and she's obsessed with all things related to Disney Princesses.  She specifically requested a "Cinderella castle with pink heart door".  We have no idea where she got this description but thankfully Mattel has a keen understanding of what little girls love.  Introducing the amazing Disney Princess Cinderella Royal Celebration Castle.    

I think the castle is fabulous.  My only complaint is the itty bitty tiny pieces!  Our 9 month old is starting to crawl and those little pieces will be held in quarantine to be checked out when oldest wants to play with her castle.  It would be nice if the set came with a small pink glittery bag to hold all the tiny pieces.  Other than this small critique I think the castle is just fantastic and daughter seems to agree when she’s not eyeballing her brothers “big” toy.

My 2 year old son loves Shaun the Sheep and Mega Blocks but we decided to steer him towards trains to give him an interest that would carry him longer term and make it easier for people to buy him gifts.  He received several trains by Thomas the Train along with a Carry Case Playmat that holds the track and trains.  

As a parent, I LOVE this concept.  I can teach him to put away his trains and track set every day and it keeps the pieces from getting scattered into other random places.  It sits beside his bedside and every morning he brings it out to the coffee table to play.  He has gotten more play value out of this train set than daughter has gotten out of her castle.

The castle is gorgeous, but there are only so many times one can dress the doll and move the pieces around.  The railroad by contrast has more potential for play with the moving trains and different track combinations.  Everyday the 4 year old joins in the train fun so this toy has become a "shared" toy.  It has me wishing I could get a Disney Princess girl train set for the 4 year old.  

If you are listening Disney, please assign a Princess license to a toy company that makes trains!  Never mind the fact that trains do not appear in the Princess world, the toy world needs a Princess train.  

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Years Day ~ Beach & Park

We love New Years Day at the beach, it represents a fresh start to the year with slightly cooler weather, wind in our hair and just enough sun to give us bright pink cheeks. 

Hard to believe they were adamant about NOT wanting to go to the beach in the morning.  We knew they'd change their minds.

After the beach they all  promptly fell asleep in the van.  We covertly planned a special park for the second half of the day by driving home to pack a picnic lunch and then onto the park.  Amazingly they slept for almost 90 minutes waking just as we entered the park!

What a day!  The two older kids played in the park fort with dad while I took a nice long walk with Violette.  Then we all rode the carousel followed by a take out dinner from Bone Fish Grill.  A rather lovely ending to a perfect day.