Tag Archives: San Diego

Full Thanksgiving Week (or Lots Of Family Time)

I feel like I’m still decompressing from my Thanksgiving week. It was such a great week and even though it was the same length as most of my Thanksgiving trips, I felt like I got more family time this year than I have in the past.

I was able to get my work shifted to be a bit earlier during Thanksgiving week, so I could start my drive to San Diego 2 hours earlier than normal. That made a huge difference in my drive since I ended up missing the big rush of traffic and was able to get down to San Diego in about 2 1/2 hours (normal for me is 2 hours and last Thanksgiving was over 4). My drive got a bit delayed when I was almost to the rental house when I got pulled over by a cop. Turned out my loaner car from the mechanic didn’t have the current registration sticker on it! It took some time for the cop to write the ticket, but since I’m not the owner of the car it isn’t my ticket.

Even with the time spent waiting for the ticket, the drive was easy and fast and once I got to the rental house I relaxed. I felt like I was totally in vacation mode and the view we had from the house really helped.

first-sunset

And Tucker decided to make himself very comfortable by using me as his personal pillow. At least I know he loves me since he was always laying on my legs if I was on the ground or on my feet if I was sitting in a chair.

tucker

The day I arrived, we didn’t do too much. Most of us had gotten to San Diego that day, so we were fine with relaxing and not rushing around. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and I went out to dinner that night which was nice since we were going to be around a ton of family the rest of the week.

On Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, I had to work from the rental house in the morning. There was a breakfast bar in the kitchen so I worked from there. It was a bit noisy, but it allowed me to still hang out with my family while I was working. I didn’t want to isolate myself so it worked out nicely! After my shift was done, I went with my dad to take the dog to a dog park (he needed to get out some energy). It was another pretty low-key day until dinnertime. We all headed over to my aunt’s house for dinner that night. Almost the entire family was there (we were only missing 1 person) and it was awesome!

It was a casual dinner which was nice. I ended up at a table with my brother, sister-in-law, cousin, and my cousin’s kids (so we were at a kids table), but that was fine. Eating dinner was pretty quick and most of the time we were there was spent in the living room talking. I was telling my grandma how you can look up census paperwork online and showed her how I found the paperwork her parents (my great-grandparents) filled out when she was little. Their maid was listed on their paperwork since she lived there and my grandma was telling us all stories about the maid and her parents. It was a really special thing to get to hear  since we don’t know a ton of stories from when my grandma was growing up.

Thanksgiving day was pretty busy. My morning included the family workout at Orangetheory (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions!) and then I was trying to help out my mom with getting dinner ready. A lot of stuff was done in advance but there was still plenty to do the day of. One of my jobs was to help with the big table we were using, but unfortunately even with all of the muscle in the family, we weren’t able to get the extra leaf in the table. But we managed to get everyone in between the main table and a card table (for the little kids), so it worked out well.

table

On Thanksgiving Day, my cousin Adam and his girlfriend arrived and with them there we had the entire family at Thanksgiving for the first time in a very long time! It was a very full dinner, but it was incredible to have 17 people from 4 generations together.

img_1499

This was also the first time in 6 years that the 5 of us in my generation (my cousins, brother, and I) were all together. I’m hoping this will be happening more often, but we had to get a photo together just in case it is a few more years before we can do this again.

cousins

The day after Thanksgiving, I had to work a full shift for work. I was able to get my hours shifted early again, so I only had to work from 8am-1pm. And I worked in the kitchen so I was spending time with my family in between customers (we didn’t get a ton of people calling or using our chat system so there was a lot downtime). My brother and sister-in-law left to go back to Santa Barbara while I was working, but everyone else was going to be coming back to the house for dinner again that night.

That last night in San Diego had another incredible sunset and my mom and grandma pulled some chairs over to the big windows so they could relax and watch the sun go down. We also tried to see the green flash with the sunset, but it was a bit too cloudy.

family

After having leftovers for dinner, I got back into my loaner car to make the drive back to LA. It would have been nice to spend another day in San Diego, but I really needed to get back. I said goodbye to everyone (a lot of them I might not see again until next Thanksgiving) and made the drive back up. Fortunately, I had a very easy drive (and didn’t get pulled over again) and was home in time to unpack before needing to go to bed.

Overall, it was a pretty wonderful Thanksgiving week. I know that I’m so lucky that my family can get together like this and I’m very grateful that we all make the effort to continue this family tradition.

A Day In San Diego (or Celebrating An Anniversary And A Birthday)

Even though I was out pretty late this past Saturday night, I got up early on Sunday morning so I could head out for the day. My parents were down in San Diego visiting my grandma and this past Sunday was their 34th anniversary! So since they were so close to me, I drove down so I could spend the day with them (and with my grandma and aunt).

Growing up, it was pretty cool that my parents’ anniversary was only 2 days before my birthday because we could celebrate them together or back to back. But I don’t think I’ve seen my parents on their anniversary since I moved to LA so this was a pretty special treat! Plus, as I joked to them, we all saved money on stamps not having to mail cards to each other.

My drive down was pretty uneventful (thankfully) and I got there just around lunch time. My parents had found an apartment to rent for the weekend so we had a nice place to hang out for the day. It was pretty close to where my grandma lives so my aunt was going to pick her up and bring her over to be with us. But before they got there, I got some time with my parents and the dog.

I know I just saw my parents 2 weeks ago, but it was really nice getting to see them. And I hadn’t seen Tucker since April and he seems to have gotten bigger since then! My grandma and aunt were supposed to arrive about 30 minutes after I got there, so my parents and I went for a walk in the neighborhood where they were staying so I could stretch my legs and the dog could get some energy out.

Tucker

It was a nice day for a walk and I loved being right next to the ocean. And of course Tucker loved getting to check out all the other dogs that were out on their lunchtime walk.

Right after we got back to where my parents were staying, my grandma and aunt showed up. We all hung out outside enjoying some food (I brought leftovers from the night before) and catching up with each other. I hadn’t seen my grandma or aunt for a while, so it was good to get to see them again (I won’t see either again until Thanksgiving but that’s not too long from now).

We all gave my parents their anniversary cards and they opened them and shared them with everyone. My parents do homemade cards for each other and we got to see what cards they made this year. And then I opened my birthday cards (I only opened the ones from my parents, grandma, and aunt since I didn’t bring the others with me) and shared them with everyone as well.

After opening cards (and thanking my grandma for my birthday check that will help me fix some more stuff on my car), we just spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying time as a family together. I’ve really come to appreciate the quiet time I get to spend with my family since so many times when we are together it is for an event and things are a bit crazy and hectic. Just being with each other is a nice change.

My mom cooked dinner that night (it’s easy and usually better than going out) and we had a pretty early dinner since my parents knew I didn’t want to drive back too late. My dad, aunt, and I discussed how we might have even more family joining us this year for our Thanksgiving morning workout at Orangetheory and we are pretty excited about that. It should be a fun workout (as always) and I’m so happy that we started this new tradition with the family.

After dinner we spent a little bit more time together and then it was time for my aunt to drive my grandma back home. After they left, I stuck around a bit longer because my parents were giving me their leftovers from what they had cooked that weekend in San Diego (I’ve been eating their leftovers all week!). They also had some stuff for me to take back home (mainly donations to take to My Friends Place) so they helped me pack up my car.

I should be seeing my parents again in October (I’m hoping to make it to Tahoe since it’s been a while since I’ve been out there) so it’s not going to be too long before I get to hang out with them again. And as I said, Thanksgiving is coming quickly and I know I’ll be with them for a few days then as well.

Overall, I’m so happy that my parents just happened to be in San Diego on their anniversary so I got to spend the day with them. It was a nice way to spend the day and since I’m used to driving to San Diego just for the day, it wasn’t bad to drive down and back within a few hours. And even though it wasn’t my birthday, it still felt like I got to celebrate my birthday with them which is something that hasn’t happened since I turned 18. Hopefully we can celebrate their anniversary and my birthday together before another 15 years pass.

Bachelorette Adventures (or 24 Hours In San Diego)

After all the other adventures I had done recently, one of the final adventures for my February was going to my friend Rayshell’s bachelorette party! While I had been super excited about this for a while, I was a bit stressed with all my other scheduling things I had to work with. But the closer we got to the weekend, the more excited and less stressed I got. By the time it was time to go, I couldn’t wait!

The bachelorette party was in San Diego and was from Friday night until Sunday morning. Because of my workout schedule, meeting my sister-in-law for dinner, and rush hour traffic; I made the decision not to drive down on Friday night. I wouldn’t be getting there until after midnight so I figured it would be best to drive down on Saturday morning. But since I was driving down on Saturday instead of Friday, I was able to drive down with another friend also going to the bachelorette party! She had offered to drive (which I was so grateful for!) and I was the navigator. Between some random traffic and a big freeway closure, it took a little longer than expected. But we were still in San Diego at noon on Saturday.

Rayshell’s maid of honor had found an amazing house for us to stay in while we were there. There were a ton of rooms and couches for everyone to crash on. The only downside was that you had to walk up about 2 flights of stairs to get to the front door and then another flight of stairs inside to get to the main part of the house. It was a good workout, but my hips didn’t love it. I limited how many times I walked up and down so it wasn’t too horrible.

After we arrived, there was a bit of time to get some food and relax for a minute before we headed out for our first adventure of the party. Rayshell really wanted to try out an escape room and they found one that wasn’t too far from the house we rented for the weekend. The escape room we had was a zombie theme and we had to unlock various locks to find an antidote and the code to get out of the door in under an hour. With me being claustrophobic and having issues with fainting when things jump out at me (which is ironic since I worked at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios for 3 years), I asked the employees there if I would be fine. They told me that it never gets dark inside the locked room and while there is a zombie inside the room, you always see her and there are no startle scares. So I figured it would be fine for me to be inside and I went in with the rest of the group (we had arranged for the escape room to just be for us, but typically they will add in other groups to fill the room).

In the first part of the escape room, we had to get a code to get into the main room. We had figured out that it had to do with the numbers on the periodic table. So I was leaning over to read the numbers so we could figure out the answer when the sheet on a table right in front of me started moving and making noise (I think it was supposed to be a fake dead body). I honestly freaked out. It was pretty horrible. I didn’t faint (I’m still surprised that I didn’t), but I almost fell to my knees and I burst into tears. It wasn’t my best moment and I’m not proud that it happened, but it was my honest reaction to being scared like that.

Rayshell wanted me to leave after then, but I told her that I could calm down and the employee inside the room saw how freaked out I was and told me that in the other room there wasn’t anything like that to scare me. I wish that the employee that I had asked before going in the room had warned me about that. I asked him afterward why he hadn’t, and he didn’t think it would scare me since it was fake.

After my freak out, I focused on how I could help get us out of the room. I found some locks that needed to be unlocked and focused on opening those. I worked on solving equations and other things and pretty much stayed in one section of the room where nothing scared me and the actress playing the zombie couldn’t get me (if you were tagged you had to stand off to the side in “quarantine” for a couple of minutes before you could join back in).

In the end, we didn’t get out of the room. We opened a lot of the locks we needed to and even had the code to get out of the door. But because we didn’t get one thing unlocked, we couldn’t get to the keys that unlocked the cabinet that had the antidote we needed to win the escape room. But it doesn’t matter that we didn’t win, we all had a really great time (not counting my freak out time).

Escape Room

After the escape room, we headed back to the house to relax before getting ready for dinner. We ended up on the rooftop deck playing Cards Against Humanity. We got to enjoy a gorgeous sunset and had so much fun playing the game.

Cards Against Humanity

Next we all got ready to go to dinner and we all gave Rayshell the lingerie gifts that we got her (that was the plan for all of our gifts). And of course, we had to get some pictures with the bachelorette before we went out!

Levin Sandwich

We went to dinner in Little Italy at Trattoria Fantastica and had a table on the patio (they had a heat lamp so it was nice out there).

Bachelorette Group

We got some wine for the table and everyone was able to find something yummy to eat, even with the dietary restrictions people might have (they even had gluten-free pasta!). I got short rib pasta and it was really great (I also ate it all since that was really my first real meal of the day)!

Dinner

After we all got full on pasta (and for some people, drinks), we headed out to the Altitude Sky Lounge which is on the 22nd floor of a hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. I’m not a nightclub/lounge person, but even I was in love with the view that we saw up there!

San Diego

Some of the girls had fun dancing, but a couple of us who aren’t really dancing people found a couch that overlooked the view and had a heat lamp above us (not everyone was dressed totally weather appropriate because we wanted to look cute). We also enjoyed sitting on the couch watching the craziness going on around us. There was one couple that we were mesmerized watching. The best way to describe it was that the guy was pretty much dancing like how we would imagine a monkey would dancing and was hard not to watch. When the bouncers walked over our way and ended up blocking the view, one of the girls asked the bouncers to move because we were watching them dance. Even the bouncers were mesmerized watching them and totally got why we wanted a clear view to enjoy the show.

The next stop for the night was another club for more dancing. But 4 of us were feeling pretty tired and not up to dancing so we split up and some went out and the rest went back to the house. I’m glad I left when I did because when I was going back up the stairs to the house, my hip decided to go out and I couldn’t get it to stop hurting. So after chatting with the other 3 girls who left early with me, we all got ready to go to bed and went to sleep. Even though there were beds downstairs I could sleep in, I couldn’t get down the stairs with my hip so I ended up sleeping on a couch (it wasn’t so bad).

Sunday morning everyone kind of got up around the same time. Most of the girls were going to go out for breakfast, but the friend I drove with and I wanted to leave by 9am because we wanted to beat the traffic and I had the Oscar party to get to! So we said goodbye to everyone and headed back to LA.

It was a crazy quick trip (we left LA at 9am Saturday and got back 11am Sunday), but it was full of so much fun stuff and awesome adventures! I really haven’t been to San Diego outside of family stuff, so it was great to explore the city with some friends and doing things that aren’t usually what I get to do down there.

The bachelorette party was the last event leading up to Rayshell’s wedding. I’m hoping that she and I can hang out for a happy hour before her wedding (we are overdue for one), but I’m really looking forward to the wedding. I know it’s going to be gorgeous and it’s another opportunity for me to celebrate my amazing friend!

Adventures In Car Repairs (or It’s Better Than New)

When I was driving down to San Diego, I was about half of the way through the trip when suddenly I heard a horrible noise coming from the bottom of my car. It was so loud that it covered up the noise of my radio. I thought that maybe I blew a tire (that’s happened before) so I pulled over to the side of the road and contacted 511 (which is the highway roadside service).

When the 511 guy arrived, I explained that I heard a horrible noise from under my car and had no idea what caused it. He looked at all my tires and under my car and couldn’t find anything. He said that maybe I had hit something and was dragging it but it’s gone now.

I got back into my car and continued my drive, but the horrible noise continued. I even called my parents and asked if I should take my car to a mechanic that night to have it fixed in the morning. They told me not to, so I went straight to the rental house.

I had done some online research and some people reported a similar noise to what I had and it was a rock caught in the wheel. So my dad and I tried to dislodge anything that might have been in there the next morning and it seemed to make the noise go away considerably.

The rest of my trip in San Diego the noise continued to happen in my car, so when I got back to LA I took it to the repair shop that I now use (they are the ones who fixed the water pump in my car when I was towed home from San Diego).

At first, they thought it might be a $4000 repair and I freaked out. My car may not even be worth that much, but it’s cheaper than a new car. I told the shop that I’d wait until they knew what the problem was because I knew that I’d be panicking at home waiting for what they had to say. About an hour later, they told me that they had some somewhat good news.

It wasn’t the $4000 repair, but instead it was an issue with my wheel that they had mentioned to me last time I was there (it didn’t need to be fixed then so I didn’t do it). They also noticed that my axle was looking close to breaking, so they encouraged me to fix that too.

All of these things were adding up, so I asked them if they could do any sort of deal for me since it was a lot of work and I don’t have a lot of money. They quoted me a price that was expensive but I could deal with (thanks to the Hanukkah check I had gotten from my grandma at Thanksgiving), and I left my car at the shop overnight to be fixed.

The next day I was able to pick up my car. They honored the price that they had quoted me even though the repair ended up being more expensive (the bill reflects about $150 discount on the price). And not only is the noise gone from under my car, it drives better now than it did when I got it in 2008 (I bought it used)!

It’s funny that this happened to my car when it did. I was talking with my dad at Thanksgiving about having to get new tires soon for my car and how much that would cost. My dad asked me how much longer I was planning on keeping my car. Honestly, I want to keep my car for at least another 3 or 4 years (preferable more unless I win the lottery or something). So he said that putting money into the car is just what you have to do to keep it going. And my dad knows about that since his car is a 1992 Subaru SVX and he just decided recently that he might get a new car soon.

I know that these are all things you have to deal with as a responsible adult, but my financial situation really doesn’t allow for these sorts of things. I’m working on budgeting right now, but my priority on my budget is getting my credit card debt eliminated. That’s not going to happen anytime soon (unless again, I win the lottery), but I’m taking baby steps toward it. This repair isn’t helping that goal, but it is helping me not have to spend more money down the line on more expensive car repairs or a new car sooner than I want to get one.

The Roadrunner (or More Memories In My House)

For several years, I’ve been getting things of my grandparents’ to put into my house.

This started when my grandparents were selling their house and moving to their apartment. They had to do a big downsizing and lots of things were given to various family members. While I didn’t really get any pieces of furniture, I got some cool things from my grandpa’s office. That never felt weird because since they were downsizing, they chose to give those things away. And none of the things I got had significant memories to me because they were mainly things from my grandpa’s office (I wasn’t in his office that often in their house).

Then after my grandpa died, I got more things that belonged to my grandparents because my grandma was moving from the apartment she shared with my grandpa into a smaller apartment.

Some of the things I got then were sent to me by my parents (like the mattress from the guest room) and were selected for me. Some things were things that I specifically asked to get to keep (like the martini swords I got). And some things were things that I saw right before the old apartment was closed up when I went to lunch with my grandma and aunt. Everything that nobody had claimed was in the living room and I was allowed to select anything that I thought was cool and wanted to keep. I took a couple of things, but again they weren’t really things that had specific memories for me.

When I went down to San Diego for Thanksgiving, I knew I’d be bringing back the bear made from my grandpa’s sweaters. The bears had been shipped to my parents’ house, so I didn’t get to pick mine out until Thanksgiving. But I wasn’t expecting to take anything else home with me.

But when I was hanging out with my parents the night I arrived, I saw two painting from my grandparents’ house sitting in the rental house. I asked my mom why they were there, and she said that they were taking them back to their house because they had previously been stored.

One painting I’m not sure where it was in my grandparents’ house. But the other painting was very familiar to me. It used to be in the kitchen eating area of my grandparents’ house. I always called it “The Roadrunner” because it reminded me of the roadrunner in the cartoons. I think my brother and cousins might have called it that as well, but I’m not too sure.

I told my mom that I’d like to have The Roadrunner one day because I’ve always loved that painting. My parents then decided that they really didn’t have a place for The Roadrunner to be in their house, so I could take the painting home with me when I drove back to LA (thank goodness I have a decent sized car).

The day after I got back to LA, my parents came to my house for the afternoon. They were driving up to Santa Barbara to see my brother and sister-in-law and made a stop by me to have lunch, see my house, and help me do projects in my house. Fortunately, almost all the projects in my house were already done (I installed the a/c without my dad being there). But my parents did help me hang The Roadrunner in my living room.

New Decorations

Right below The Roadrunner is the acrylic chair I got from my grandparents’ apartment (it was my grandma’s makeup vanity chair in there) and on the chair is my bear.

I love having these things in my house, but it is a bit odd having The Roadrunner in there. I have thousands of memories of that hanging in my grandparents’ kitchen and even though I haven’t seen it in that space in years the memories are still strong. I’m almost doing double takes every time I pass it because it doesn’t feel quite right yet that it’s with me and not with my grandma.

It’s weird that this painting is the first thing that made me feel like I’m stealing something from my grandparents (which is not the case at all) and nothing else I’ve gotten has had anything but positive feelings. It might be because of all of the memories attached or it might be because it’s the most obvious thing in my house that I’ve gotten.

I know that the weird feeling will hopefully go away soon and I will only have the feeling of gratefulness that my family let me have this painting in my house because it is special to me. And I can create new memories with The Roadrunner now.

Full Thanksgiving Trip (or Being With My Family In San Diego)

My Thanksgiving trip to San Diego was from Tuesday until Friday last week. I had to work on Wednesday and Friday, but since I work from home I was able to bring all my stuff with me to San Diego and worked from the place we were staying (I did the same thing last year).

Those few days in San Diego were pretty packed, but it was a great family visit. I was nervous how it would be without my grandpa there, but it wasn’t as weird as I expected.

Tuesday I drove down to San Diego (it took 4 hours) and arrived there to have some dinner and spend a bit of time with my parents, aunts and uncle, and grandma. We really didn’t do too much that evening (I was pretty exhausted), but it was good to be around my family.

Wednesday I started with a short work shift. I worked in the kitchen so I had my family hanging out with me. It wasn’t a horribly busy shift so I’m glad that I worked in the kitchen and not in my room. That afternoon my mom, aunt, uncle, and grandma had some errands to run. So I spent a lot of time relaxing at the house and hanging out with my dad and aunt.

Wednesday evening was my grandma’s birthday dinner. We used to do this on Friday after Thanksgiving, but a couple of years ago we moved it to Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I think it’s better that way. We had a private room for the family, so it was nice that we didn’t have to worry about being too loud or my grandma being distracted by a lot of noise. While my grandma isn’t as involved in the conversations as she’s been in the past, she had a nice birthday dinner and it makes me happy to see her so happy.

Grandma's Birthday

Thursday starting with the workout at Orangetheory. After we got back from the workout, we helped set up the dining room for dinner (we did this in our gross gym clothes so we didn’t get our nice clothes dirty). The dining room has a gorgeous view and even though we weren’t able to see it at dinner, it was very nice to look at during the day.

Thanksgiving Table

I did a last minute grocery store run for my mom after that (who would have guessed that grocery stores would be out of green beans?!?) and then helped my parents get the bears set up to give out to the family before dinner. We put all the bears on a couch and covered them with a sheet so nobody would see them before the presentation. Of course with our sick sense of humor we thought that we made it look like we were hiding a dead body and my dad added some shoes and a hat to the pile to make it look even sillier.

Hiding the bears

My cousin Stephie and her kids arrived after that and my cousin Adam was able to take a Thanksgiving day flight to arrive in time to help carve the turkey (we’ve named him the official family turkey carver).

Adam and the turkey

We had a pretty nice spread for dinner and the evening went really well with no awkwardness with my grandpa not being there.

Thanksgiving Food

I didn’t end up using the face paint on my cousin’s kids (they took the face paint home so it won’t go to waste). It was a bit weird not doing that tradition, but the evening was pretty full. And after dinner was done, I went to see the final Hunger Games movie with my cousin and her husband (that’s been our tradition for the past few years).

The next day, my grandpa’s ashes were being scattered at sea. The entire family was going on a boat, but I was not able to get the day off of work so I stayed back with the dog. I’m a bit sad that I wasn’t able to spend time with the family, but I’ve gotten seasick in the past so it was probably for the best.

I had fun with the dog at the house and took lots of silly photos of him. This is him trying to help me work.

Tucker Helping

After my family returned from the boat, I had enough time to get some leftovers for dinner and then I packed up my car to head back to LA.

I’m so lucky that I got to spend as much time with my family as I did. I know that not everybody gets the time off from work or have the ability to travel. I might not have had the time off of work, but I have the luxury of bringing my work with me and since San Diego isn’t a huge drive it’s not a big trip for me.

We are planning on going back down to San Diego to the same place again next year for Thanksgiving. It’s a great house that fits the family nicely and the set up is pretty ideal for a big family meal. I know I’ll be back in San Diego before next November, but I’m glad that I have next Thanksgiving to look forward to as well.

Thanksgiving Meal Prep (or Hopefully Everything Tastes Great)

Soon, I’ll be heading down to San Diego to be with my family for Thanksgiving. It’s probably going to be a long drive (a combination of holiday and rush hour traffic), but I’ve got lots of podcasts to keep me company while I’m making the drive.

My mom is making pretty much everything for Thanksgiving this year (technically my family is hosting it at the house we are renting in San Diego), but I really wanted to help out. I know that my mom works hard to get everything done, so if I can do a little of that work for her I know that she’ll have some extra time to be with everyone.

I first offered to make the feta, pine nut, sun-dried tomato dip that I made last year. I know that it’s a pretty easy recipe and that everyone seemed to like it when I made it last year (although I personally think that my mom makes it better than I could ever do). I also said that I’d make the blueberry banana bread since everyone likes that too and it can be breakfast for a couple of days. Then I thought about what else I could make in advance that my family might like. And I decided to make the black bean dip that I love for veggies. I’ve personally been adding salsa to the dip to make it a bit spicy, but it’s doesn’t last as long that way (maybe it’s too watery?) so I made it the normal way.

The only time I’d have before driving down to make all the food was on Sunday, so I made that my cooking day (even though only one thing actually has to be cooked). The first thing I got done was the blueberry banana bread since I figured I could do the dips while it was in the oven. It’s simple enough to make and within about 10 minutes I had that recipe done and in the oven to bake.

Next I worked on the black bean dip. Again, it’s super easy to put it together. I think the most time consuming task was to drain and rinse the beans. I got that done and in a disposable Tupperware container to bring with me.

Then I ran into a big of a snafu. I only have one food processor bowl and both of the dips needed to be made in the food processor. I had washed the bowls for the bread and the food processor after finishing the bean dip, but I used my kitchen towels to dry the bowls (not sure why I did that but I did). So I couldn’t really dry my food processor. So I took a break while that dried and then about an hour later got started on the feta dip.

I’m hoping that the feta dip turned out ok. It seemed more difficult than last year to make. The food processor didn’t want to process it. I had to start and stop several times and try to mash things down myself. I finally got it to look the way I feel it should look (it’s a bit smoother than I like it to be), and it seemed to taste ok to me. It has a few days for the flavors to meld together. Hopefully it just gets better with time.

I know that making 3 things for Thanksgiving is much less than most people have to make. But for someone who has been struggling to make more things from scratch, making 3 things from scratch in one day is a lot! But I think that it all looks pretty good to me!

Thanksgiving Food

Hopefully when my family gets to eat them that they enjoy them! I’ll have to let you all know how it goes when I do my Thanksgiving recaps next week!

The next few days of posts will be written before Thanksgiving, so they won’t totally be Thanksgiving related. But I want to share with you all what I’m thankful for this year, the gift that I had made for my mom that she will be getting tonight, and what my mom, dad, and I worked on to give to everyone in my family this year for Thanksgiving.

Focusing On The Happy (or What Will Be Good At Thanksgiving)

After talking about how stressed out I’m getting about getting everything done before Thanksgiving, I decided to take a step back and focus on the good things that will be happening next week. I think I realized that I need to focus on the good after reflecting on my happiness checklist yesterday. I’ve realized that happiness and good things haven’t been as much of a focus as it should be and I wanted to remedy that.

Obviously, we are all trying to remember that last Thanksgiving was pretty epic and will likely be impossible to top. It wasn’t just that almost the entire family was there at one time, but we had amazing weather and everyone seemed to have a great time. We have the same rental house this year as we did last year, but since my grandpa won’t be there (and a few other family members will be missing due to scheduling issues), it won’t be the same even if we have the amazing weather again.

I’m really excited to see my family. So many family visits lately have been a bit on the sad side, so it will be nice to have a family gathering that should be happier. There are a couple of things that have been planned for Thanksgiving (that I can’t share yet because they are surprises) that may bring a bit of a somber mood, but I think we are all focused on making our family holiday a happy thing.

I’m super excited to give my mom her Hanukkah gift. I’ll be sharing what I got her next week (again, I can’t ruin the surprise), but I think that she’s going to be shocked by what I got and I think she will love it. And I can’t wait to give my dad his birthday present because I think it’s something that he’ll be so happy to have but never would have bought for himself.

I can’t wait to see my cousin’s kids and do some face painting on them. I bought a big face paint kit this year and I think it will be a bit crazy when my cousins and I start painting their faces. We can get more creative than we’ve been in the past, but we can get over the top as well. But I know that when the kids have their faces painted and they are showing the designs off to everyone that the entire family should be smiling. I think everyone has gotten a kick out of this weird tradition that I started by accident.

And of course, I can’t wait to see the dog! It’s been a while since I’ve seen him and he’s gotten so much bigger! I’ll be working with him on a trick or two and my parents have been telling me how much better he’s gotten with his obedience training. The other day Tucker was at the dog park and tore up his skin from a bush. My parents didn’t realize he was hurt at first because he didn’t cry, limp, or show any signs of being injured. But once they saw it they took him to the vet to get it checked out (we might be a bit overly cautious because of what happened with Chaucer). The vet said it needed to be cleaned and stitched up so that was done. And instead of putting Tucker in the cone of shame, the vet recommended putting Tucker in a shirt so he can’t lick at his stitches.

Tucker in a shirt

I think he looks so silly and cute at the same time! I don’t know if he will still need to be wearing a shirt next week (his stitches don’t come out until after Thanksgiving), but he will look cute whether he’s clothed or naked. Tucker is officially now our dog with the most scars. And they’ve all been very minor injuries that Tucker doesn’t even notice. That dog either doesn’t have a ton of pain receptors or he is so distracted when he’s playing that he ignores any pain he has. But all his scars have fun stories and he seems to not mind visiting the vet (I don’t know if he loves being in the shirt).

And of course, the food and company are things to look forward to next week. I’ll be in San Diego for about 3 days so I’ll have a lot of time to hang out (even if I do have to work the day before and the day after Thanksgiving). No matter what happens over Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful that I have the chance to spend time with 4 generations of my family and be surrounded by people who I love and who love me. I know that that is a luxury that not everyone has and I need to be grateful that I do have that.

A Bit Over-Scheduled (or Starting To Stress Out)

For the past few weeks, my schedule has been pretty crazy. Every weekend is filled with something (sometimes something fun and sometimes lots of working at some of the day jobs). A few weeks ago, I realized that my next day off without having something on my schedule like work, class, or hosting an out-of-town friend would be Thanksgiving. I’m not used to not having a day every so often to just relax and do what I want to do. Right now, every day has something important and on a specific schedule. And that freaked me out a bit.

Now that my Thanksgiving trip is about a week away, I’m still extremely busy and I’m starting to worry about how I will get everything done before I head down to San Diego to be with my family.

I have to work while I’m in San Diego (I work the day before and the day after Thanksgiving) so I need to make sure I pack all of my work stuff. That ends up being very last minute because I will be driving down to San Diego right after a work shift next week. So I need to wait to pack everything I need until I’m logged out of my shift. But I’m starting to work on a work related packing list so I don’t forget anything.

I also have a few food things I need to make and bring down to Thanksgiving. I won’t have time to make them until after my class on Monday next week (that alone is stressing me out), but I’m starting on my shopping lists now and I’m hoping that I can get the ingredients this week so everything is ready for me to go Monday afternoon.

I also have gifts for a couple of people. I have a Hanukkah gift for my mom (I’ll write about that next week because it’s an awesome gift that I think you all might love), a Hanukkah gift for Ross and Krystle, and a birthday gift for my Dad (he got his Hanukkah gift back in April because I knew he’d want it as soon as possible). I’ve also got face paint for my cousin’s kids (it’s tradition) and I’m still thinking about bringing something else to maybe help decorate the house. Fortunately, all the gifts are all wrapped and in a bag with the face paint. It’s ready to go in my car but again it’s something else to have to remember to pack.

And of course, I have to start thinking about what clothes I want to bring with me. I’ll be doing another Thanksgiving morning workout with some of my family so there’s that checklist too (can you tell that I’m checklist obsessed right now?).

With all that I have to do plus lots of work do to for my day jobs, I know that when Thanksgiving day comes and I have the day off to spend with my family I will be very grateful. I’m trying not to get overwhelmed by everything I have to do, but that’s just who I am. The checklists are helping me because I can see exactly what I’m planning on bringing and when I’m packing up my car and I make sure that I don’t forget anything.

I am very happy that I can drive to Thanksgiving and don’t have to worry about flying because I can bring a lot more stuff and it’s easier to pack my car with several random small bags instead of trying to make sure everything fits into airline regulations. At least that’s one thing I don’t have to stress about.

Another San Diego Day Trip (or 3 Generations and A Dog)

I went down to San Diego for the day this past Sunday. Obviously, I went to visit my grandma. But my parents and dog were also there so I wanted to see them all too!

The last time I was down there was when my grandma had just moved into her new place and the apartment that she and my grandpa shared was still being cleaned out. So I didn’t spend a ton of time in the new room or with my grandma (I was busy helping my aunt organize things and get things set aside for me). But now, the old apartment isn’t my grandma’s anymore and she’s totally in her new space. I love where she lives now. While it is small, it’s really cute and all the things that my grandma needs are in there.

The original plan for the day was for me to get there before noon and we’d spend most of the day at my grandma’s place until we went out to dinner. But when I arrived, my dad met me at the valet stand and told me that all the air conditioning in the building was broken. We are going through quite a heat wave here, so without air conditioning my grandma’s room was pretty unbearable. So we spent about an hour at a little mini dog park across the street so Tucker could stretch out (it was too hot to run) and we could enjoy some shade and a little breeze.

When it was time for my grandma’s lunch, I went into the lunch room and sat with her while my parents stayed back with the dog (he can’t be in the lunch room). My grandma isn’t nearly as chatty and social as she was in the past, but we were able to have some nice conversations. I showed her lots of pictures on Facebook that my cousins, brother, and I have posted lately (she doesn’t have a computer so she doesn’t get to see those pictures). She liked seeing the pictures from my birthday and the one’s my cousin posts of her kids.

After lunch, we hung out in my grandma’s room for a little while since the air conditioning was working again, but then my parents and I left so she could rest and we could go to the hotel where my parents were staying.

When it was just me and my parents, we talked about a lot of random stuff. I’m hoping to get out to Tahoe this winter since I never made it out this summer. So we discussed some possible dates for me to meet them there. My dad had some iPhone and iPad questions so I took care of those for him (that’s how I “pay” him for my house repairs). And of course, we played with Tucker who is still a very silly puppy.

My parents, my grandma, and I went to dinner at Ruth’s Chris. I had never been there before (or according to my parents I might have been when I was little), but it was a really nice dinner. We were celebrating my parents’ anniversary so there was a special page in the menu for them.

Ruth's Chris Menu

We also sat inside right at the window so we had a pretty amazing view of the sunset.

San Diego Sunset

My mom, dad, and I all ordered one of the special 4 course meals (which was cheaper than a steak on its own) and it was really yummy! My dad and I shared some of our food and he gave me his leftovers to eat for lunch the next day. Since our 4 course specials came with dessert, they added a nice touch to my parents’ desserts.

Dessert

After dinner we took my grandma home and I said goodbye to her. Then I went back to my parents’ hotel (where my car was) and said goodbye to my parents and dog. As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll see them before Thanksgiving. So it might be goodbye for a while.

On my drive back home, I did have one really fun treat. I was driving by Disneyland when they were shooting the fireworks off! The fireworks are shot off so close to the freeway that you can watch them while you are driving without having to take your eyes off of the road. That helped to break up the driving.

Fortunately, I’m so used to doing this drive in the same day that it’s not a big deal to me anymore. I’m not sure if I’ll make it down to San Diego again before we are all there for Thanksgiving, but I’m really going to try.