Friday, October 31, 2008

Who's been sleeping in my bed???

My parents came into town tonight for a car meeting, and Taylor decided to come along, and stay with me for the evening. She and I cooked some yummy dinner, shared some fun stories, and then got ourselves prepared for tomorrow's shoot. :)

When we were ready to get to bed.....there was someone else there taking up space. Meet Casper Jones. It's his first time to Austin, he comes to us all the way from Sugar Land.

Good thing he doesn't take up a lot of space.....and yeah, he's pretty adorable.

Sweet dreams all! :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome back y'all!!

Oh, it's good to be home. Today was NUTS!!! I mean, crazy!!!!

I got up at 620am in my San Jose hotel room to catch the shuttle to the airport. Nancy Sinatra in the hotel lobby at 645am was a little bit too much, but I made it. After I arrived at my gate, I worked up until the very minute I got on the plane. Worked almost the entire flight. I ended up having 3 seats to myself, so at least that part was nice.

Landed at 210pm CDT. Before I even got off the plane, I had to log back on, get on WiFi to email the file I'd been working on during my flight, before my 230pm conference call.

The battery on my laptop had all but died, so I ran to baggage claim, and plugged it in while waiting for my bag. When Renae drove up to get me, I was plugged back in out front of the airport, already deep into the conference call.

I didn't get to say anything much more than 'hi' to her on my ride home. She was so awesome to carry my (still) 46 pound suitcase up my stairs for me while I was still on my call. Molly was SOOOOO excited to see me that I had to apologize for her meowing on my call.

Almost 2 hours later, the call wrapped up and I was able to unwind a bit....back at Austin.

I was fortunate to be able to see Renae again, and meet up with her and Tricia for some sushi at Mikado tonight for some much needed catching up tonight at Mikado. It was, as always, great girl time, and some really good sushi.

Tricia always has fabulous that is the reason for the fun shoe shot. No, Renae and I didn't plan the gray outfits or shoes for the evening. :)

I'm glad to be home. I'm not sure how much sleep I'll get tonight with Molly meowing, but at some point I'll unpack and get settled back into the swing of things in Texas.

My mom and youngest sister will be here tomorrow for the weekend, and I am super excited!! Got lots of fun things planned for the next few days - be sure to check back! :)

P.S. Tara - if you're reading, and you think about it before I get the me! I am in dire need of a haircut!! :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One small step for (wo)man......

Yesterday morning was a first for me….I made the coffee that was supplied in my hotel room. It was actually quite simple, and I felt a small (very small) sense of accomplishment for taking this leap. It wasn't Starbucks...but it had caffeine, and that was the point. I then proceeded to drink 3 more cups during the day of training, none of those which I had to brew myself.

The day of training couldn’t have gone any better, so I was very thankful for that. We had an evening event at Brigantine, although, I retired relatively early, as I had about 4 hours of work waiting for me upon my return. It was after 11pm before I knew it, and I did my best to get some sleep before my 420am alarm (yikes!).

So, this morning, I made the coffee again…..and I think that I’ll be doing this from now on (EDITED to ADD: I just checked into my hotel in San Jose, and I won't be making the coffee in this room tomorrow's the old fashioned kind, and not the super easy pod type). My only issue is that there was not nearly enough creamer or sugar for me to turn what would look like a normal cup of coffee into the sugary delight that I enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taking the train to the "Real SoCal"

I left Santa Barbara today (boo!), and boarded a train to Solana Beach (San Diego/Del Mar) for the start of a few days of work office visits. After learning from the train conductor that the only coach seats were upstairs, I lugged my 50 pound suitcase up the narrow staircase, and settled in for a little over 5 hour trip. I’ve mentioned it before, but traveling on a train is really the way to go. Most of the time you can get a seat without having someone right next to you, and you have access to a plug so you’re not limited to the 3 hour battery laptop life, there’s no line for the bathroom, and you get lots of leg room. :)

I got to the Solana Beach station right on time, and Vanessa was there waiting to pick me up. I recently reconnected with Vanessa via Facebook. She and I were roommates for a year while we both worked at Dell, about 7 years ago (whoa, times really has flown the last decade!!!). After working in IT in Austin for a long time, and not finding any sense of happiness in that industry, she made the decision to go back to grad school, and moved out to San Diego about 3 months ago. Go Vanessa!!! When I learned that I’d have an evening there before my training, I immediately contacted her (and Eric) to see if they would be interested in meeting me for dinner. Eric is a friend from my college days at A&M, with whom I reconnected about a year ago when Lora and I were in San Diego to audition for The Amazing Race.

We had plans to meet up at the Solana Beach location of Pizza Port, a local pizza dive. It was the perfect treat! The pizza was great – we let Eric choose what to get since it was his birthday (Happy Birthday Eric!). Pesto Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and good old fashioned Meat Medley were tasty choices.

It was great to be able to spend some time with old friends while I was here for work. Up early tomorrow for a LONG day of work!!

P.S. I was told that SB isn't really SoCal, it's more MidCal....and that San Diego is the "Real SoCal". :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Sunday started out with us driving down the 101, when I looked out the window and thought "What a glorious day!". I then said it outloud, I just couldn't keep the thought inside. I wasn't even sure that I'd used that word before, but it just came to me.....and it was true. It was a beautiful Sunday, the windows were down, the weather was great, and I was on my way to Reality Carpenteria with Brett.

I've heard Britt's messages before online, and had been looking forward to seeing him in person. After we found what seemed to be the last two available seats in the place, I was in amazement. I don't think he took more than about 5 breaths the entire time, but whoa, his message was awesome. I loved every bit of it, and it was so interesting. We learned what a quattuordecillionth was, and why that was important. I won't go into it, but if you're interested....check out the notes here.

After, we were we walked down the street into the main town of Carp, and chose to eat at The Spot - a local, hamburger dive - and it definitely.....hit the spot. Well, mine did anyways. Brett's choice (double cheeseburger with chili) was the messiest thing I had ever seen, but he was the one that had to eat it, and he enjoyed every bite.

We drove back towards SB, and walked over to the pier and checked out some of the street vendors along the way. I got a good giggle out of thinking that it was this same exact spot, almost 7 months ago, that we visited the first time I'd been in SB.

At some point in the afternoon, when I was packing up my stuff, I realized that I didn't have my camera! DOH!! I had left it at DJ's house (thank goodness I knew where it was), so we stopped by to get that and say hello. Bobby and Lindsey Earle were there hanging out with Paul, filming for their new site. For anyone that is interested in having a professional edit film footage, be sure to check out Paul's new venture: Photographer's Reel. Not only is Paul a stand up guy, he does such a great job on his films!!!

The sun was going down right as we were leaving, so we had to grab a shot. :) Yeah, that's DJ's view. There are some trees that block the actual sun setting, so it's not the perfect view....but you can still see the effects of the sun saying goodnight......I mean, I'd be OK with that every night.

We stopped by VONS on the way back home and grabbed all the makings for some tacos for dinner. Kyle, DJ, Allie, and Paul all joined us, and we ate and ate until we couldn't eat any more......and then we all chatted until it seems our throats ran dry. A perfect way to spend my last night in SB. I'm bummed to be leaving tomorrow, it's been so wonderful being here in CA, and NV, with Brett. Luckily, he'll be coming to see me again soon in Texas.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Butterfly Beach and Bruce Willis

I made us a bunch of sandwiches, Brett grabbed some blankets, we stopped for chips and drinks, and had ourselves a little picnic at Butterfly Beach.

When we pulled up, it looked to be overcast, but once we got out of the truck, it was warm. Scratch that, it was hot. Hot enough that everyone else on the beach had towels and bathing suits with them. I couldn't believe that it is almost November and it's still warm enough to get a tan here in CA. :)

Tonight we watched Die Hard 4, or 7, or whatever the most recent one was, and I loved it. Even though most of the time, I'm thinking "Seriously?? That could never happen, I still do love a good old fashioned action flick.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Progressive Eating around Santa Barbara in honor of Kyle's Day of Birth

For Kyle's birthday, we had a progressive dinner around Santa Barbara. First course was Chips, Salsa, Guacamole and Nachos at Palapa.

A group shot.....all 10 of us. :) David, Ashlee, Scott, Nate, Kyle, Bethany, Garth, Brett, Jen and yours truly.

Second course, our main dinner was at Natural Cafe.

Last stop was for dessert at McConnell's, and I think that this course might have been my favorite. It took me a while to decide, however, once I saw that they had Cappuccino Chocolate Chip, the decision was super easy!!

Brett is going to hate that I posted this picture....but look at how good my ice cream cone looks.....I kind of want another one right now. Is that bad???

We headed back to Jen and Garth's and there were 6 of us brave enough to play a round of Battle of the Sexes. It was me, Ashlee and Bethany versus Brett, Scott, and Kyle. If you haven't played this game before, it's one where the boys get girl centered questions to answer ("What is a spring form pan used for?") and the girls get the boy questions ("How many players are on an active NBA roster?").

Both teams did rather well, however, the boys A. took a lot longer to come to the conclusion that they didn't know the answers, B. were pissy when the girls got questions that they thought were "easy", and C. are a bunch of cheaters. At the point in the game where it looked like the girls were going to take the win, Kyle had a little trick up his sleeve.

We were up for a question that a girl was supposed to know (since we were on the other side of the board now to where the girls actually get to guess girl questions), and it was "What is the exact diameter measurement of a quark?".


Not only was this a hard question, but how in the world was this to be categorized as a question that was girl biased. Especially when the other ones had been centered around very sexist women things, like cooking, sewing, cleaning, baking, etc.

Well, at this point, Kirsten had stopped by, and she at least knew what a 'quark' was, but we didn't get it right - obviously. :)

The game went to sudden death, and after 2 rounds of tie breakers, the girls took the winning spot. It was only then that Kyle fessed up to the bogus question. He'd totally made it up! Way to go for being creative, at least.

I think that Kyle thoroughly enjoyed his day! Good times!!!

It's all about Kyle today - Morning Version

Today is Kyle's birthday! His first request for the day was to enjoy his free breakfast at Summerland Beach Cafe, so Brett came to get me at 7am to go meet him. Another sunrise viewing for me....whoa, it's so beautiful. This picture just doesn't do it all!!

When we got there, Kyle had already been waiting long enough to build an Eiffel Tower of coffee creamers. We all ate some serious breakfast - check out how much food came with my choice - French Toast, Eggs, Bacon and Sausage - geez!!!

Yeah, Brett took this picture....he totally missed himself in it, but it was too early to even work up enough energy to do a retake. :)

More fun to come tonight for the rest of Kyle's birthday! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Working through the's going by too fast!!!

Tuesday morning was kind of neat. Working from the living area of the apartment at DJ's, through the side balcony door, you can see a bit of the sun coming up over Santa Barbara. I think I could get used to that....well, not so much the getting up before the sun does every day, but the sunrise was pretty beautiful!

We both had a pretty long work day, and went to home group on Tuesday night. I made my famous Chicken Fiesta and we enjoyed that while hanging out a bit with Kyle and Bethany at the house after.

Wednesday was again work. Sorry I don't have much more to report, but unfortunately, it's not a vacation while I'm out's been pretty normal. Working, cooking dinner, hanging out, etc. I'm really enjoying it, and I think it'll be a shock when I go back home and am in a different environment. If only I could get Molly and my friends out here too, then I'd probably never go back to Austin. :)

Thursday night I made a yummy salmon dinner for me, Brett, Kirsten and Kyle. I thought I might have gone overboard on all the food - salmon, veggies, mashed potatoes and pasta - but we all turned out to be pretty good eaters, and we didn't really end up with that much leftover.

With our stuffed bellies, Bethany and Scott came to join us, and we all watched The Office. I have watched a few episodes since being here, for the first time, and boy, is that a weird show?? I can see how people are pretty fanatical about it though.....that awkward's good.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sometimes you just gotta have Arby's!

It's back to the grind, same as every Monday morning. Today started out when I got a phone call at 525am, which put my morning, afternoon, and early evening in a bit of a tizzy. We did manage to get away for a nice lunch break at Egg Works. It was soooo yummmmy!

We got back, got all packed up, and as we were about to walk out the door, I had to take another work call, so the folks at the house got to overhear a pretty heated work phone call. Nice. :) Oh, what a day.

After that was mostly taken care of, Brett and I said our goodbyes to everyone, and headed back to LA. Around 8, we were getting a little hungry. The town that we pulled into wasn't showing anything too appeasing for dining options, but all of the sudden, Arby's popped into my head. Google Maps to the rescue....and sometimes, driving a few miles out of the way, is totally worth it. We both chowed down on a large Roast Beef, complete with Arby's sauce, and I treated myself to a Jamocha shake!! A few more hours and we rolled into Santa Barbara, got me all settled at DJ's and said goodnight!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ice Cream, Tennis Balls, and Taboo

Awwww.....another Sunday. We went with the entire family to church this morning, with a special treat...Autumn sang. Despite her doing a fantastic job, I'm in awe of how comfortable she looked on stage. I just couldn't do it - too scary!!!

The whole gang ate at Jason's deli for lunch - yummm, free ice cream! Brent and Valerie, long time friends of Brett and Autumn, joined us too, Ethan and Preston in tow as well. We all retired to the house afterward to hang out and chill for a bit. Brett, Betty (Brett's mom) and I finished up the Scrabble game that we'd started the night before. When we left the table, Brett was up by 3 points. He took a peek at my letters, and after seeing that I had all sorts of points in my hand, wasn't anxious to return to the game. He even tried to tell us that "if you walk away from the table, the game is over"....whatever. So, we played out the game, and while Betty went out first, we had to surrender our letters to her, and Brett ended up winning by TWO points. It was a good thing though, actually, because if he hadn't, we probably wouldn't ever hear the end of it. :)

We took the kids to the park to play, while Brett and I stole away Loralyn for a little while for some "formal" pictures. I won't be sharing any of those right now, Autumn wants to keep them as a surprise, but I will tell you that we had a great time, and she's so stinking adorable, that the pictures turned out great.

After we had chased her around the park and were certain that we'd gotten a few keepers, Ethan and Preston were there, and it was too hard not to grab a couple super cute shots of them too! Here are my favs!

We had found a tennis ball at the park, and Brett was putting his old pitching skills to use. The kids were in awe of how high the ball would go up....watching his every move. Yeah, Brett didn't enjoy this one bit. :)

After the park, we came back to the house, ate some sandwiches, and watched the kids have a good ole time with each other. One of the world series games was on, so we had to keep up what was going on with that, all the while, the kids were taking turns 'riding horsie' on the adults legs.

When everyone else had taken off, Brett and I started up a game of Taboo. His parents came in and joined us, and a serious undertaking of laughs ensued. One that kept us laughing for a while....

Clue: You might read when you can't do this.
Guess: SPELL!!
Answer: (was trying to get the word SLEEP out of that for the answer) Insomnia

Yeah, it was that kind of night. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Night in Vegas with the French!

For Autumn's birthday, we had a fun night out on the town planned for all the adults!

We started out with dinner at the French Steakhouse, Mon Ami Gabi, in the Paris hotel. Each one of us enjoyed our salads and steaks. We even had the kind folks bring Autumn a little birthday treat. :)

A short drive over to The Wynn and we were all set to go for La Reve (French for 'the dream'). We were in amazement as soon as we walked in. The theater is a large circle, with a pool of water in the middle. It was setting ready for the show to start with a bed sitting in the middle - guess that was the true meaning of a water bed! :)

When we got the tickets, we were told that rows A and B were in the "Splash Zone". Our seats were in row C. We didn't manage to get splashed, but I think that we had great seats to see all the action.

Boy, oh boy, was the show simply fantastical. It was full of dancing, aerobatics, music, strange creatures and so much more. I can't remember the number of times I poked Brett with an exclamatory sigh! If you are in Vegas, and looking for a show...I highly recommend this one.

P.S. Wow, it's amazing how much different pictures look when taken with my Point & Shoot, and iPhone, versus my real camera. :)

Go Karts! Woohoo!

During one our many phone conversations, I'd mentioned to Brett that one of the things that I want to do someday is to drive a race car! It was then that Brett told me about his dad's go kart. So, imagine how excited I got when I learned that we were going to be driving the go kart this morning!!!

Brett and his Dad loaded up the go kart (#21 to boot - what a great number - it's odd and a multiple of 7 - yes, I know.....), and the group of us headed out to College of Southern Nevada, where Bruce works, and set up a track in the back empty parking lot.

We all took turns riding. It was my first time in a go kart, so I was cautious at first, but after a few turns, I was loving it!! My second drive I got a little more daring, and after watching Brittany (Brett's niece, she's hoping to be sponsored at some point) and her techniques, I went a little faster, and even spun out around some of the corners.

Proof that Brett and Loralyn are from the same family....what is up with the tongues? :)

The whole gang. What an awesome way to spend a Saturday morning!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday in Vegas - Part Two

After the day was over, Brett and I took Loralyn out to the backyard at the Bollman's house to play a bit. Well, Loralyn was playing, we were playing with Loralyn, and we were playing with the camera. She's just too much fun....and this was definitely a "chase me" afternoon.

We chased her, picked her up, spun her around, threw her....we did pretty much anything that we could with her...and she was laughing and smiling the whole time.

At one point, Brett was spinning Loralyn....and it reminded me of a post that I'd seen over a year ago on Photojojo. I just re-read it, and we nailed these shots with a slightly different technique (if only someone had thought to take a picture of us taking these that would be a funny picture!), but the results were awesome. I think that these are my favorites!! :)

Back to some more goofing around. :)

And then.......Brett's Dad remembered a little something special that was in the shed - his scooter. He brought it out, dusted it off, filled up the gas tank, and more great photo opps ensued!! (P.S. The Bollmans are adding onto their that is why it looks like we are in a construction zone.)

Autumn wasn't around when we were doing this....not sure she would have approved! But look at how much fun Loralyn is having?!?! I promise Bruce wasn't going that fast!

Loralyn with two of her biggest fans!

So, remember how I told you that Brett has a personalized license plate? runs in the family. Check this out.

BAMRCL is my favorite. It's Brittany' has two meanings. First is "Be a Miracle"....and the second is all of the initials in her family...Brittany, Autumn, Morgan, Rob, Chelsea, Logan/Loralyn. Isn't that SO cool? (Or am I just a big dork and I'm alone in loving this!). There is even one more that isn't pictured....ROBSGRL. :) If I had to get myself one, I'm not sure what I'd get. Any suggestions?

One last image. Autumn said that she has a similar picture from when she was little with her Uncle Brad. Too cute. Seriously, Brett loves this little girl like no other.

We wrapped up the day with a night of yummy spaghetti dinner and just hanging out, relaxing and a bit of TV. We all had a few laughs at Jeff Dunham's expense, and then both Brett and I did a little late night work while enjoying The Eagles concert on DVD with Bruce.

Friday in Vegas - Part One

First things first......HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rob! :)

Friday morning calls, in Vegas, still come as early as they did in California. So, I was up early this morning working, but got to experience a little treat during my lunch break.

We met Brett's sister, Autumn (HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you too!), and niece, Loralyn, at her music class. When we first got into the class, Loralyn was a little shy with her Uncle Brett watching her. But, after a while, she warmed up, and was thoroughly enjoying the songs, games, bubbles, and activities that all the little ones were doing. I brought along my camera, and managed to get a few cute shots. Boy, do these little guys move fast! :)

We walked across the street for a short bit after class to play on slides at the park. At this point, Loralyn had warmed up a bit to having us there, and it wasn't long before it was "Watch me Brett"...."Chase me Brett"....."Over here Brett". I don't think I've ever seen a grown man more excited by this than Brett, it's very much adorable how sweet he is on Loralyn. :)

All the running around worked up our appetites, and so we decided to grab some sandwiches at Schlotzsky's. Brett's Dad and Grandma (Gigi) came to meet us too. I've already enjoyed so much getting to know Brett's family!! It's just like being at home. :)

I thought I'd share something that I learned while at lunch. I was wearing my Austin shirt, and the person at the counter said "Ah, you're from definitely know about Schlotzsky's". I guessed that he meant that there are locations in Texas too....BUT.....I just looked it up...and DID YOU KNOW that the restaurant actually was founded in Austin?? I had no idea! Very cool! :)