Monday, December 15, 2008

It's a boy!


Welcome, Baby Jordan! Would you believe this little guy was born just shy of 32 weeks? I think his double-chin is just the cutest. My cousin, Ashley, had him on Thursday and he weighed 4 lbs. 9 oz. and was 18 1/2 inches long! Pretty big for a preemie! Mom and baby are doing good and hopefully he'll get to come home soon!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

***

Last weekend was my work Christmas party. Honestly, the best part of the night was wearing a new dress. My sister was a fabulous date, and I never knew how charming she actually was until she had our whole table laughing. At that moment, I resolved to be more like her in that area. Overall, the food was good, the dessert fabulous, and watching people look ridiculous on the dance floor was highly entertaining. I also developed a love for valet parking. Really, you should try it sometime. Last year, when I was trying to cross the icy street in my heels, I vowed to eat the extra cost. Well worth the money!
I found this picture of last year's Christmas party with Ashley. I couldn't help, but notice how much better my scar looks this year. You might not see it, but I do. It seems like forever ago since she were here. And then work seemed a little bit boring today without an Ashley email because those were some of the best.

Not so much...

The weatherman was predicting ice and snow and cold temperatures last night. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for a snow day. It's one of the perks to working in the education field although our school rarely cancels. Besides an 8 month stint in Arizona, I've lived in the Midwest my whole life. I'm no stranger to an Iowa winter and I'm not scared to drive in bad weather. But, you can bet I was disappointed when I woke up at 5 this morning, without my alarm clock, to hear that the only thing I'd be getting out of last night's storm was a longer drive into work. I have my last final tonight, and I could of used the extra 8 hours to study (remember my last post). Well, not so much. I was denied. But, I'll take heart. Because this is my 26th Midwest winter (b/c of the one I spent in AZ), and I know I'll get a snow day. Soon enough.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last Minute

I think I live in a perpetual cycle of procrastination. I read on the Internet today (such a reliable source) that there's a procrastination gene. Could it be? If it's true, I know I got more than my blue eyes from my parents. In my search, I also found that there are a list of treatment centers for people such as myself. I guess I didn't think it was that big of a problem because I ALWAYS get it done, and it ALWAYS (most of the time) works out really well. That being said, it can be a bit overwhelming at times.

My latest put-off-til-the-last-minute project is one of my classes. It's self-paced and the deadline is tomorrow. Oh, did you think I started it at the beginning of the semester? Not so much. Don't judge me. Tonight, (after I get finished with my other class at 8:00), I will be writing an article review (not even sure I know what that means) on the nutritional requirements of the child and teenage athlete, and THEN a research paper on protein requirements in the athlete. And do you think I know anything about those topics? I'm neither an athlete or a nutrition expert and I don't look fondly on my teenage years (I've come a long way). BUT I'm not worried. I'll stress over it and feel overwhelmed, and then I'll get it done and do awesome. Like I always do. 'Cause that's how I work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I give thanks.

In an attempt to make my Thanksgiving dinner semi-nutritious, I wanted to bring something to my grandma's that would not make me gain back the 5 lbs. I worked my a off to lose. I love sweet potatoes, but we didn't grow up eating them so I decided that would be the perfect addition to tomorrow's bountiful feast (just like the pilgrims and indians). Which by the way, I feel very grown up (read: old) bringing food to holidays -- it's my first time, you know. So, today I went to Dahl's with recipe in hand. I found some yams labeled "58 cents/pound." As I'm putting those bad boys into my sack, I remembered a conversation I had with my good friend, Becky where she described a passionate discussion she'd had with a lady at the grocery store who mistakenly said that yams were sweet potatoes. I asked the friendly grocery man if there was a difference. "Oh yes, yes there is a difference," he said. "Sweet potatoes are much healthier, they're right over here." He was the cutest old man (yes, I love all old men, but still.) and he had me convinced. Apparently, they aren't only healthier, but much more expensive. As in, I spent $21 on sweet potatoes. Seriously?!?! I think I would have rather had lobster for that price. But, I left that grocery store knowing Becky would be proud.

Things I'm thankful for today:

1. I have a GOOD job with no worries that the "recession" will leave me unemployed

2. I'm spending the weekend with some pretty fabulous and ridiculously good-looking people in O-town (Chris Jones, anyone??? Don't be jealous.)

3. I'll be enjoying 21 dollar sweet potatoes and Grandma's rhubarb pie tomorrow

4. My family will welcome the cutest baby for me to spoil, snuggle with, and pretend to adopt as my own this next year (yay for A & K having another baby)

5. My classes are over in 2 weeks

6. My hair is getting very, very long :)

7. My good friends in Des Moines (including baby cambri who I also love to snuggle with and pretend to adopt as my own. If you saw her, you'd do the same too)

8. For it to be socially acceptable that I have my Christmas decorations up (because remember, people can be very passionate about putting them up too early), and getting to look at everyone else's pretty lights

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Living in a different decade...

While doing some on-line Christmas shopping today, I came across these beauties for myself. I love the blue one. Not quite sure I could pull them off, but you can bet I would rock them if I lived in the fourties... or fifties... or sixties... or any decade they wore cocktail hats.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Incline

My heart's a bit heavy today. These pictures from Colorado brighten my day. We didn't make it to the top of the incline. Just half way and even still, I felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest... I could feel it beating in my neck, in my head, in my hands... I could barely walk for 3 days... it felt like I had done an extreme amount of lunges (Megan knows how much I hate lunges). It was fun though. A real accomplishment. The scenery, breathtaking. Worth every minute.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas is Coming!

You wouldn't believe the number of scrooges out there who grumble and have smart comments when I tell them I set up my Christmas tree yesterday. I understand it's a bit unorthodox to set up your tree before Thanksgiving. I get that. But, it's my house, I love Christmas, and why wouldn't you want to celebrate the birth of Jesus a bit early???
To celebrate (or brace myself) for the beginning of another Iowa winter, I threw together a little party with some good friends, good food, cookie decorating, and tree trimming. Everyone brought their own cookies, traded them all, and left with a bunch of different ones. Unfortunately, a couple of people had to leave and couldn't be in our group picture. Athena loved it because she got to clean up all the dropped frosting/sprinkles and she had more attention than she's had in ages. It's safe to say she loved every minute of it.
I have a few friends who aren't from here, and I know what it's like to be away from my family, so I thought it would be a way to help them to feel a little like they were at home away from home. Because selfishly, I'm thankful they live here! :)A couple of things I didn't take into consideration... a) My house is very, very teeny. We set up a card table in the middle of the living room, with eight girls surrounding it. Tight squeeze, for sure. b) Apparently, I forgot to take in the size of said apartment when I purchased my tree, because I think it may be a bit (a lot) big for the space. c) I am not that great of a baker.... okay cook, not okay baker. I had a hard time figuring out how long to cook my gingersnaps and they definitely left something to be desired. d) I am not great at parties on work nights (I guess I'm just really old) because when my alarm went off this morning, I wanted to call in "sick."
Really though, none of those things matter. Good friends are all you need!P.S. I know this picture of me and Athena is blurry, but I couldn't resist the cheesy Christmas card portrait.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This weekend

I'm going to Colorado Springs this weekend... in 3 days actually!!! This little (BIG) trail, called the "The Incline" is my goal to conquer while I'm there. When I look at this picture I think my friend Shannon is right to say we'll probably only make it half way. One thing's for sure, It will be a good workout, with even better company.

Friday, November 7, 2008

For the first time this year...

The wind was so cold that it took my breath away... oh, and it's snowing too. Makes me want to decorate for Christmas and bake cookies.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I've started to think Halloween may be my favorite holiday... next to Christmas, the 4th of July, and any day that I get off of work... I've been thinking up a post in my head for a few days now, but I haven't found the picture I'm looking for yet. Until then, these will have to do.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Petition for Preemies


This cause is close to my heart. So close. So dear. Would you consider going here to sign this petition?

1. We urge the federal government to increase support for prematurity-related research and data collection as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and the Surgeon General’s Conference on the Prevention of Preterm Birth, to:

(a) identify the
causes of premature birth;
(b) test strategies for prevention;
(c) improve the care, treatment and
outcomes of preterm infants;
(d) and better define and track the
problem of premature birth.

2. We urge federal and state policymakers to expand access to health coverage for women of childbearing age and to support
smoking cessation programs as part of maternity care.

3. We call on hospitals and health care professionals to voluntarily assess
c-sections and inductions that occur prior to 39 weeks gestation to ensure consistency with professional guidelines.

4. We call on businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health.
View our 14 recommendations.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why I can't get my work done...

Do you ever have the feeling of being overwhelmed to the point you are paralyzed to begin? That's a little bit how I feel right now. So, I've been making this for the last 1/2 hour. It's so fun, I can't stop.
An ode to the beloved cardigan.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't do it... you don't care.

I found out the other day that my sister isn't registered to vote!!! Are you kidding me??? Rest assured, we rectifed that situation....and printed off a few other forms in case someone else told me they weren't registered. I'm tired of people thinking my generation is lazy and apathetic because I'm neither of those things. And neither are most of you. So, please vote. It's our responsibility. Exercise a right that someone had to fight for. Seriously. Vote.



"This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. it is a revolutionary world we live in, and thus, as i have said in Latin America, and Asia, in Europe and in the United States, it is young people who must take the lead. thus you, and your young compatriots everywhere, have had thrust upon you a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived." -Robert F. Kennedy

P.S. If you live in Des Moines you have until Friday, October 24th to register... That's 20 days, people. 20 days.

Friday, October 3, 2008

save the boobies


Dear Mr. Chi,
I wanted to tell you how your "ceramic hairstyling iron for silky smooth hair" has changed my life. You wouldn't even believe it. I've wanted one for so long, but couldn't justify it because my $30 Revelon flat iron was doing just fine. Even when all the other Chris Jones (my beloved O-Town hair lover) girls started getting one, I was strong. Recently, Revelon began to let me down. My naturally curly (read: frizzy, cowlicked, and wavy) hair just would not go flat. It kept flipping up (not cute) looking like a mixture of condelezza rice and the 60's flip. Vintage is usually good, my hair, not so much. I'd had enough. Today, my sister bought me the goods. Now, I have one of my very own and my hair looks good tonight, REAL good. I'm sure all the boys will want me, and the girl's will be jealous... not really, but that's what I feel like. :) So, Mr. Chi, I say, "thank you." Thank you for making my hair look fab, thank you for accepting my sister's rocking cosmetoligist discount, and thank you for making my flat iron the special edition breast cancer awareness one... where a portion of all proceeds go to save the boobies. For that, I'm sure all other ladies, husbands, and babies out there will be forever grateful. I know I am...
Sincerely,
N. Hook

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Aunt Shannon

My dog has an aunt. Before you judge us, you should know she is the very best type of aunt. She sends packages for birthdays (Yes, I know my dog's birthday. November 14, 2006), and most other holidays, both major ones and little ones too. She sends liver-flavored treats that she knows Athena would really like and that I would never buy because they make her breath awful. She even promised to take care of her if anything ever happened to me. To some that might not mean much, but to me, it's important. Again, I feel I should remind you not to judge.

Yesterday, one of these packages came (containing a dog tank top), we had photo shoot '08, and thoroughly embarrassed Athena and myself while trying to get just the right shot, living on one of the busiest streets in the area. Here's my favorite.



Basically last night we decided Shannon and Luke just need to have a baby. That way, we'll all have something else to spoil. :)

The leaves are falling

Fall is here, my friends. This morning I could see my breath when I took Athena out. My hardwood floors were icy when I stepped out of bed this morning (I definitely need to get a rug... This girl will never get out of bed this winter if it gets much worse...). The leaves are red, and yellow, and orange. I love it!

When I lived in Tucson, one of the things I missed the most was this season... I know you can swim on Thanksgiving (which is pretty fabulous), but pointy, rock gardens always look the same, and cacti don't turn colors.

This morning standing in my closet, wondering what on earth I'm going to wear, I came to the conclusion that my fall/winter attire is severely lacking. I need work clothes, and "play" clothes... and a new coat, for sure. My go-to store is Target these days... more because it's in my budget than because I really (REALLY) love the clothes. But you should know that when I'm dreaming of the things I really (REALLY) want to buy, I can assure you that I don't look to target.com. Here's a few things I've been eyeing, none of which I can afford.

I wish these coats came in a different color... like yellow, or pink, or orange...




Not so much the dress, but more the cardigan. I'm a big fan of yellow these days.

Here's hoping for the work bonus I've been expecting and clearance-priced sales I can't pass up. If not, there's always Target.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lazy Sunday


One of my favorite things about cooking is wearing an apron. No, I'm not kidding. More times than not, I am probably wearing my gym clothes underneath, but still. For me, it's the vintage, yellow, ruffled apron that makes the experience complete.

I've been searching for a "healthy" recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin bread. There's millions of regular recipes out there, but nothing was making the nutritional cut. I found this one (on Cooking Light) just a bit ago, so I put on my apron (this time over my pajamas) and started mixing. I suppose healthy is matter of opinion. This one works for me.

Yield
32 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding
4 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray
Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information
Calories:152 (30% from fat)
Fat:5g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.5g,poly 1.1g)
Protein:2g
Carbohydrate:26.5g
Fiber:1.1g
Cholesterol:0.0mg
Iron:1mg
Sodium:137mg
Calcium:10mg

So, now I wait, while it's in the oven, hoping it tastes delish, and wondering what a girl with a dog is going to do with 2 loaves of chocolate chip pumpkin bread. 152 calories, at 32 servings is NOT healthy, my friends. Although, Athena has eaten a whole loaf of bread before (and several pieces of chicken, a whole roast, the last BOCA burger in the freezer, on my plate, waiting for my consumption...)she too is trying to watch her trim, 32 lb. figure... I'll figure something out.

At this point, there's one thing I'd change. I wish I would have found this "bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes" recipe before 9:00. See, I am not a morning person -- especially not a MONDAY morning person -- and I have early (EARLY) morning gym class tomorrow... you know, 'cause someone's got to eat all this bread.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I love my country...

I already talked about loving my country in my olympics post, but I wanted to make sure there's no doubt. Do you think that they olympics, where we pretty much dominate, and the presidential election are purposely in the same year? Just to get us normal people excited. People seem to have more pride in the US when we're doing good things... like winning olympic gold medals. I'm just saying.

One time in college, I had a professor who only refered to me as "Good Little Republican Girl." Honestly, I have no idea where he came up with that b/c we never really talked about politics. It was Accounting. I had the highest grade in the class. He liked to pick on me. Whatever. I maintained all semester that I was an independant. Truth be known, he was more right than I was.

I don't like to talk about it because I'll be the first to admit I don't know all the facts. I don't fully understand the Middle East conflict that's been happening since Jesus was on Earth... in the flesh, that is. I've never gone through the shame of being raped and pregnant and contemplating an abortion. I've never bought a house, and I've never known the personal defeat one must feel when foreclosure is the only option. I've never lost a brother, or a son, or a dad because he was fighting for my freedom and for my "rights." For those reasons... and way more than you care to listen about...I understand I'm no authority on "the issues." I have experienced other things that have shaped me into who I am today; what's important to me, and what is non-negotiable. Regardless, I do have a vote. On November 4th, my vote is my voice.

My favorite part of John McCain's speech last night was when he said this...

"I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone elses. My country saved me...I can not forget it. And I will fight for her as long as I draw breath... so help me God."

It's geniune, and heartfelt. I don't agree with all he says, but he loves the United States even more than I do and I'm thankful for that. Besides who wouldn't want a vice president who looked like Tina Fey? Tina is pretty stinkin' hilarious.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Farmer's Marketing


Last Saturday, I went to the Farmer's Market with Megan & Amanda and picked up quite the harvest for $12... I bought a sack of basil, an orange pepper, green beans, and basil, thyme, cilantro, and chives to plant in a window box. We've already discussed my lack of gardening skills, but I'm determined to have fresh herbs through out the winter. I'm giving it another go 'round.

I made Sunday dinner for my brother and sister-in-law using a portion of my farmer's market finds (and a tomato from another family members garden). I don't mean to brag, but it was good. Real good. I can't take credit though. Kraft.com may be one of my new BFF's. Here's the recipe I used... Try it, it's DELIGHTFUL!

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Prep Time:
5 min
Total Time:
30 min
Makes:
4 servings

1/4 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing, divided
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup KRAFT Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves

PLACE large sheet of heavy-duty foil over half of grill grate; preheat grill to medium heat. Pour 2 Tbsp. of the dressing over chicken in resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Turn bag over several times to evenly coat chicken with the dressing. Refrigerate 10 min. to marinate. Remove chicken from marinade; discard bag and marinade.

GRILL chicken on uncovered side of grill 6 min. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, cheese, basil and remaining 2 Tbsp. dressing.

TURN chicken over; place, cooked-side up, on foil on grill. Top evenly with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill an additional 8 min. or until chicken is cooked through (165ºF).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today Is A Good Day...

I've had a void in my life lately... for 35 days to be exact. I've wanted it since the day I gave it up... I wished for the familiar burning in my throat for 5 long, long weeks. Only my pride kept me going for this long, but today I had enough.
I've been at work since 6:30 for the past two days, and because my desk looks like this...

I needed one of these...

The perfect mix of bubbly carbonation, caffeine, pellet ice, and limes... you can't find much better of a drink in my opinion...

Lest you think I eased myself back into it with a small, I should set the record straight. My bf, Michael Phelps (oh, you didn't know?) has taught me that in America, we go big or go home. I got the gold medal of all Diet Cokes... Sonic's Route 44. An experience I'm sure will leave my throat burning for at least a few hours.
I'm excited to say the least.

Athena kept looking at me like I was weird... I'm sorry, I know what I like.

Besides the fact that I'm a little poorer b/c I owe Shannon some Juicy jewelry, today is shaping up to be a good day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

God bless America

I love the Olympics... like, seriously LOVE them. The earliest I can remember watching was Mary Lou Retton in the 1984 olympics. I was three years old people -- how I remember, I do not know. I'm sure part of my olympic love comes from the pride I feel in my country. I consider myself lucky to be an American despite today's economy, decline in moral conduct, the war in Iraq. None of those things can take away from the freedom I experience every day. I know I'm blessed. What better of a way to show that we are the best country than the good ol' U S of A kicking some major tail in sporting events ranging from BMX to Table Tennis (who knew???), to gymnastics to basketball, to sailing and my personal favorite, swimming?!?!?

I love watching swimming... I can't get enough. Last night when the Americans won the men's 4 X 100 Free Relay I literally jumped out of my bed, and was screaming at the television. And when Jason Lezak came from behind and touched the wall .08 of a second in front of France, you'd of thought I'd just won the lottery with how much I was celebrating. I'm not going to lie, I may have shed a tear or two. These guys have some serious heart. There's not much left to say except, "God bless America."



P.S. Last night, I was pleased to find out that Coke is a proud sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team... I should totally drink one for my country. It's the least I can do.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I heart Jacob


Yes, I do think it's slightly embarrassing that I'm engrossed in reading a series about vampires. Yes, I know vampires aren't real, but I secretly sometimes doubt. Yes, I think Bella is too good for Edward, and get frustrated that she continues to go back to him. Yes, I know I could anger several of my friends for professing my love for Jacob...All that aside, I am way excited to read the new Twilight book... just looking for the time to sit down and read all it's 600+ pages of awesomeness. It's not one of those books you can read in several sittings... I need a good 3...4...5 hour chunk of time... Better get at it before school starts. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to You!


July 22nd happens to be the birthday of 3 of my favorite people ranging in age from 26 to 9. It would be great if I had a picture of all three of them together, you know, to make the blog extra exciting, but I'm not sure if all of them have been in the same room at the same time. Happy Birthday Shawn, Emilee, and Lindsee...

My baby sister, Lindsee is the big 2-1. She is fabulous! I actually remember when she was born... and I was happy to have another girl in the family. The older we get, the closer we get, and for that I'm thankful. She is amazing at doing hair, has a sensitive heart, loves life, and is blast to hang out with. I love you, Linds. May this be your best year yet!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A student again...

I'm not really sure what I'm thinking because I don't REALLY like school, but I just registered for classes today. Don't get me wrong, I love learning... just on my own terms... without structure... or stupid busywork assignments. Lately, the feeling of knowing there's something more has left me to do some soul searching. I really enjoy motivating others, and I enjoy learning about wellness so I'm looking to maybe combine the two. The wellness and nutrition aspects have come to mean so much to me personally that I think it would be awesome to share what I've learned with others...I've definitely not "arrived," but making baby steps for sure. I have a few pre-reqs to take before I can get into the meat of things... Here's what will be keeping me crazy busy this Fall:

*Anatomy & Physiology
*Survey of World Religions (DELIGHTFUL!)
*Intro to Psych
*Human Nutrition

Should be interesting... I'm sure I'll be kicking myself come October, but hopefully I'll be a little smarter.

P.S. 9 days since I had a Diet Coke... Still going strong. :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home


I signed a one year lease for an apartment yesterday. A year seems like a long time to be committed to a place, but I think it will be good for me. I'm nervous and excited all at the same time. It's really cute, and I'm sure it will be fun to decorate, and be able to have friends over. I think it'll be a good thing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Working after vacation is no fun...

San Francisco was great. Seriously. Not working was great. Sleeping in was great. Eating whatever we wanted was great. Quality time was great. Loved it.

My flight left at 5:00 a.m. on Friday (the 4th). I do not recommend taking that flight. Ever. Too early for this girl. We met in the airport, spent a bit of time figuring out how to ride the BART, and lugged our suitcases through the streets of the busiest city I have ever been in...At the risk of sounding high maintenance, I'm not so much a fan of carrying my bags, but we weren't given a choice in the matter. It wasn't so much just carrying them, as trying to maneuver around sooo many people. Anyways, lucky for me, our first stop was the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. I'll take a massage, manicure, and pedicure in a big, comfy robe any day. We make "friends" everywhere we go. I like to think it's our infectious laughs that gets people... It feels like everyone turns and stares when we really get going... Maybe they find us annoying, but WE certainly think we're fabulous!

Later we checked into our hotel... after first being given a room that was already occupied... Not off to the greatest start. We ended up getting a room upgrade -- with two beds instead of one... Apparently, when I booked the hotel, I was trying to be budget friendly and save money by sharing a bed. The budget was definitely thrown out the door. I gave it an honest effort (something like that). The hotel didn't have air conditioning which is standard, I guess. Instead of mints on the pillow, we were given earplugs. I thought that was weird until I heard the lovely sound of screaming, and sirens all night long. We later discovered from our cab driver that, "the only place you're not safe at night in San Francisco is in the Tenderloin." "What's that?" "The homeless district." "Where's that?" Oh, basically right where we were staying. I never really felt unsafe, and we always practiced the buddy system. :) I didn't think it was a bad experience, and thankfully it was clean.

We missed the fireworks because apparently there are two giant bridges in San Francisco. Who knew? Yes, one is bright, can't miss it, blazing orange and one is white, but still. For the record, we were not the only ones at the wrong bridge... there were several hundred people in the same area as us, okay? Besides, I'd been up since 12:40 a.m. (SF time) so by that time I was ready for bed. It ended up not being a big deal in the end.

The rest of the story... in pictures.
Waiting for fireworks at the "golden gate bridge..."
At the gates of Chinatown...
Lunch at The Stinking Rose... This place literally uses 3000 pounds of garlic per month... DELIGHTFUL!!!
Awesome views...
On a cruise... lucky for me, I packed my boat shoes. :)
The REAL Golden Gate Bridge... It is unmistakably orange... We'll know for next time. :)

I have a secret love of sailboats... not sure why.

Alcatraz was WAY cool. Shannon and I decided that guided tours are the way to go...
The Aquarium at the Bay. I had really high expectations, but it wasn't that great.
Fisherman's Wharf...
We ate a lot of good food -- Clam Chowder and Sour Dough Bread, Calamari to my hearts content, sushi at Blowfish, fancy cheeses, and ice cream way too many times. Thanks to Shannon for throwing her gluten-free diet out the window for the weekend... It's much better eating bad-for-you food with someone else. :) Again, the budget was gone, and we had appetizers and desserts at most meals. Who knew you could break $100 on one sushi meal??? I know now.

All in all, the trip was awesome. We laughed a lot, ate a lot, and walked a lot. I'm lucky to have a best friend who will leave her husband for a couple days to go on vacation with me. We decided we need to take a trip together every year... next time: New York.