Friday, December 31, 2010

11 for 11

{in no particular order}

Travel little and often. Short hops with Daisy to refresh the mind and school her in the world around.

Spend money where it matters most

Eat cleaner. Not to lose weight but because it will make me feel better all around.

Stop buying into the premise that, because I'm "getting older" I am naturally more tired or more broken. I'm just more busy!

More one-on-one time with my mum and more time, period, with my Dad

More date nights with the Hubster

Live in the moment. Don't ruin today by holding onto yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. Take each day, week and month as it comes. Some will be good, some will be bad. So what?

Dress for each day as though I were meeting a friend for lunch, even if I'm not going anywhere. {get it together, girl!]

Take a second to tidy-up after yourself, for chrissakes!

Get stronger. Not to lose inches but because stronger is more powerful and resilient and just feels freakin' awesome

Share joy and enthusiasm more than frustration, negativity, and sorrow.
{And by that I don't mean I'm turning this blog into a daily motivational quote.}

You'll notice that my items are pretty open-ended and seem to buck the whole S.M.A.R.T. goal theory. This is intentional. As I think I've shared in a previous post, while specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals are often required (for instance, in a professional environment) I find this kind of goal-setting in my personal life to be... restricting, limiting, even a little suffocating.

Also, I look at all of the 11 things above and feel like none of them have an end, meaning they are all things that can continue to be worked on by me forever and above-and-beyond any artificial milestone I set for myself.

Finally, since becoming a mother, I find that my life is at-once more restricted and more fluid than it ever has been before. There are things that are much harder to do (although not impossible) and yet most everything requires being open to constant changes of plan or mindset. It's sometimes a discomforting state of affairs to live with but I love that my daughter keeps me on my toes. 

My point, however, is that making hard personal goals can often be overwhelming at this stage in my life. The disappointment and self-analysis when I don't meet a certain milestone is not something I need. Instead, I would rather focus on this year's 11 as a list of elevated priorities. If I do each one a little more or a little better in 2011, I'll have succeeded.

What are your New Year's resolutions, promises, or priorities?

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my blog followers - the silent as well as the commenters (@e!) - I hope you have something fun to do tonight - whatever than means to you - and I look forward to sharing the next year of adventures with you!

=Ms. Ranty Pants=

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Losing my mind

Lately I feel I have quite literally been losing my mind.

I should clarify. It's not just been lately but it's been getting worse and worse and to the point where my husband is staring at me with big buggy eyes and asking "WHO ARE YOU?"

I have never been particularly forgetful. Sure, like most people, I would occasionally forget something, lose something, that kind of thing. And it would drive me NUTS when I did. I had things together. I did not forget things.

My husband, however, and like my Dad, has always had a sieve for a brain. It's been a standing joke in our family that, whenever he leaves the house, you can count to 10 and he will come back through the door to grab whatever it is he left behind. Often times, he will have to drive back home later in the day to pick up something else he forgot. He also does things like keave shoes, coffee cups, and milk boxes on the roof of his or my car and then drive away.

(He's going to hate me for airing his dirty laundry on here. LOVE YOU HONEY!)

Well, all of those years of rolling my eyes at him is severely coming back to bite me in my fat ass because I have become...



That's right, I've gone from smugly making fun of his holey memory to being the premier lunatic in our family.

And it's driving me NUTS.

I continually misplace keys or my wallet or my bluetooth headset or my phone (those are the primary culprits.) I have left the house for lunch with friends without my wallet in my bag and needed them to pay. {shame} I frequently dash around the house seconds before my hand hits the front door knob, looking for one of two sets of my car and house keys. Almost EVERY night before I go to bed, I begin an Indiana-Jones-like search for my cell phone.

Here is yesterday's anecdote. A prime illustration.

We were going to Kohls, to get out of the house and because I had $20 in Kohls cash and because they were having a 60% off sale.

I grabbed the diaper bag, which I was convinced contained my wallet in the front pocket. However, when I looked, it wasn't there. I suddenly remembered (whoooah!) that I had done the same thing yesterday and that Hubby had to pay for everything. So then I went to the next culprit - my red Gap bag. I had used it the day before when I went to the docs and had paid my doctor's co-pay as well as buy some things at the drugstore. It must be in the red bag.


I frantically searched around. I checked my computer table (where it sometimes lands for an online purchase.) I checked my office (ditto). I checked the stairs (where everything without a home lands.) I re-checked the red bag.  And re-checked it again. And then began to panic.

Had I left it at the drug store? Had it dropped out of my bag in my car? (Had it dropped out of my bag on the street!!?)

We checked the car. Nope.

And then Hubby dug around again INSIDE the diaper bag and there it was. (This was after I threw a panic fit and caused both of us to get agitated.)


Crisis averted, I put my Kohls cash in my coat pocket and off we went.

We shopped around Kohls until Daisy yelled "Pasta!" and we realized she needed to be fed. I got to the line for the cash registers, put my hand in my pocket for the Kohls cash coupon and... could not find it. It was gone!

Crap! So, while Daisy and I waited in line, Hubby ran out to the car to see if it had fallen out of my pocket. He ran back in shaking his head and then proceeded to check the aisles we had walked down, in case it had dropped out of my pocket in the store.

Amazingly, he found it.

And then we got to the register and I reached into my diaper bag and...

... my wallet was not there.

I frickin' kid you not. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. (I think Hubby was close to hitting me.)

I realized then, of course, that when he had originally found the wallet in the diaper bag I had taken it and put it on the center console of my car *so I wouldn't forget it.* (Yeah, great strategy.)

Hubby paid (thanks again, there babe) and we left Kohls talking incredulously about how my brain has turned to mush and WHAT THE HELL?

I bought us all dinner to commiserate and then we came home, played, and put Daisy to bed. At which point - yes, you guessed it - I went on the hunt for my cell phone. (Which I had left in my coat pocket.)

So, own up, friends. Which one of you crept into my house late one night and STOLE MY MIND?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taking multi-tasking to a whole new level

One of the great things about working from home is that you can sometimes find creative ways to combine personal and professional tasks simultaneously, that you would not be able to in an ordinary office environment.

For instance, the ability to give yourself a quick facial using a chocolate-truffle mud mask, while putting together your sales goals and plans for 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Random without photos

  • I have my fancy new camera and I am without ideas or weather to put it to good use. It's too dark in the house with this dreary rain and wind to do anything really fun unless I get out the tripod. I just don't have the kind of hands that can hold steady under 1/50th of a second. And the tripod, well, it's a red rag to a bullish 20 month old.
  • I don't have pink-eye again. I thought I did since I was experiencing all the same symptoms - red, puffy, goopy, itchy eyes and a feeling that I had an eyelash stuck in them. To boot my outer ear canal and nasal passages have been itching something rotten. I had to take a Claritin to get to bed last night. So I went to the doc again today. (I'm getting ready for them just to name one of their treatment rooms after me at this point.) He said I don't have pink eye but likely some kind of allergy. Oh sheesh. SOMETHING ELSE? No idea what I'm allegedly allergic to but I was sent off to the store for "Clear Eyes" drops and some antihistamine cream. At this point I'm beginning to wonder if I have M√ľnchhausens.
  • I'm considering a more distinct separation between my personal blog, Facebook, and twitter, and those of memories by michelle. Maybe even making this blog private. As who I am starts to become more of what I do, what I say has the potential to affect my business. I don't like this reality or idea but I also don't like the idea of feeling sensored or self-edited all the time. If I'm going to write, it's got to be real - blood, guts, and all. I just can't do the daily self-motivation thing. Life is not happy and peppy and a bed of roses all the time. I don't like reading those status updates (at least not all the time, when they begin to seem forced) nor reading those types of blogs and so I don't want to write one. But, it poses a problem. You see my problem? Phooey. No good choices here. I love this little place of mine online.
  • I'm slowly getting to look forward to 2011. The second half of this year has been a mixture of joy and pain and it's all sort of coming to end with a quiet sigh. Anyone who knows me well knows that this does not come naturally to me. My instinct is to party through the season balls-out and skid to a halt on Jan 1, feeling totally worn out. So, I'm hoping 2011 brings more of the joy and less of the other crappy stuff. It's odd really that this artificial, annual clean slate we've created actually makes a difference, but it does.
  • Speaking of which: new year's resolutions. I'm going to keep it simple this year. A subject for another post but I have a few things I want to get done in '11. I'm not going crazy, however. I have recently realized that too much planning and list-making literally makes me feel suffocated and induces a mini anxiety attack. What about you?
  • I'm into tea. My friend, CJ, recently made me a cup of chamomile, vanilla, and honey herbal tea along with a spoonful of honey. I usually am not a big fan of herbal tea, being from England where tea comes no other way but with milk and sugar, but this was the right drink at the right time. I bought some and now I'm off to brew a cup. Or, as my little munchkin would say: "Make cuppateeee"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ranty Pants Christmas 2010

This year was a quiet but fun one for the Ranty Pants clan. None of that jetting off to other countries planned this year. No Christmas brunches or parties to attend. Just me, Daisy, Hubster, and close family.

On Christmas Eve, my mother, sister-in-law and I pot-lucked dinner up at my mother-in-law's house in Foresthill. My contribution was Maple-Roasted Vegetables and Cheese Muffins. Ironically, the Cheese Muffin recipe that I had been dying  to try for the past year turned out to be a disappointment. Although I am not the world's most sophisticated cook, it definitely needed some tweaking for my tastebuds - a bit bland.

However, the roasted vegetables, which were ridiculously easy to make, turned out to be a runaway success. My husband's family are typically not big vegetable eaters, to the point where veggies are often an afterthought, if included at all with meals. So it was cool to see a scraped-clean pyrex dish at the end of the night. Woot "Chef Ranty Pants"

This year my mother-in-law bought and personalized Daisy her own little rocking chair. It is soooo adorable. She'll love it forever, I'm sure.

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Cousin Ezra got a similar chair, while Cousin Adah got this:

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Which elicited this

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I know... awwww.

As if to validate my sister-in-law and my choice to buy our little girls each a doll house this year, there was also this

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So cute to watch them beginning to play with one another!

Then it was home to finish wrapping and to wait for Santa, who was very busy and awfully quiet because, when we turned our backs we found this

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All of which took more than four hours to unwrap the next morning, as Missy paced herself by playing with each and every gift for a while before moving on to the next. She would not could not be rushed.

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But the best love was reserved for the doll house. When she realized there was a bounty of gifts under the tree first thing in the morning, she ran toward it with her pointy-finger, at first whispering "Doll house!" and then screaching "DOLL HOUSE!" as she got closer. She promptly sat down and went to work exploring her new toy. It took a further 30 minutes for us to tear her away to open her first gift.

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Then it was naptime and an opportunity for Hubby and I to finally get out of our PJs. As cute as they were, it was almost 1pm!

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Finally we went for some traditional English Christmas dinner at Nan's house, where we wrapped up the evening playing on my Dad's keyboard.

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I got some wonderful, wonderful gifts this year. My wishes were definitely granted by Santa. But the most amazing gifts of all were three tickets to England in April, from my parents. It has been more than two years since I made it back to the UK (my longest stint away from home ever) and Daisy has never been and so I literally cried when I opened the envelope. Can't wait for some real fish and chips, a good pub lunch, and to introduce Missy to the rest of the family.

Oh, and there is the small matter of a Royal Wedding...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Aint she purdy?



This is my new Jill-e rolling camera bag. She's a big girl but she's awfully pretty, has lots of pockets and will save my back on photo shoots. I love her! Thanks, Mum.

Other photography gifts I'm grateful for today are:

  • My new Canon 50D camera. Just the sound of the shutter clicking sounds better. Woot!
  • My new nifty-fifty lens (50mm/1.8) Lower light and pretty bokeh here I come.
  • My North Face lightweight rain coat. I can shoot and, well, do just about anything now in the rain!
  • Two awesome books to inspire me to take better shots.
More on Christmas adventures for the Ranty Pantsers later...

Hope you had a wonderful day!

Monday, December 20, 2010


At the risk of losing the small contingent of friends-and-clients for memories by michelle, I am posting a link here to my friend, Lisa's, blog.

Lisa is also a fledgeling photographer and a pretty freaking fantastic one at that.

A couple of weeks ago, she agreed to take my photos for my profile pic(s) on my new website (which is almost done - yay!)

I had THE BEST time posing with her in Old Sacramento. It's so rare I get to be on the other side of the camera alone and with the time to work with a photographer to get, what I think, is the best of me. Of course, it was made all the easier because Lisa and I are friends.

Anyway, here is a sneak peek with one photo from her blog. I LOVE IT. Man, I so rarely like pics of me. Thanks, Lisa! I cannot wait to see the rest.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And my good luck continues...

I love(d) my Motorola Cliq smartphone. It has survived 20 months of a curious baby/infant/todddler, numerous falls, and has almost been lost God knows how many times as a result of my post-pregnancy, lobotomized brain. Unfortunately, its nine lives came to an end this evening as I was picking up my coat to put it in the coat closet. It slipped right out of my pocket and smacked straight down, face first, into the tile floor. The above is the result. It still works fine, bless it, but it's spraying small pieces of glass everywhere whenever it's touched.

Bonus is that we have been paying $6 a month for equipment insurance so I thought that all I would have to do this evening is file a claim online and get a new one shipped to me for next week.

Yeah, well, you know what thought did.

And I should have known better given the kind of week I've been having.

The company that handles the equipment insurance, Asurion, says that the phone model has been discontinued (which it hasn't, they just have a newer version of the same thing out) and will only offer a replacement for what they consider to be a "comparable" model. My choices are a 2nd rate GPS device with built-in phone, called a "Garmin" (I know, WHAT!?) with no slide-out QWERTY keyboard (a must) or a teenager's vanity device, the MyTouch, whose reviews are less than stellar (phone freezes, standby time sucks) etc...

After some research, I chose the MyTouch because the slide-out keyboard is very important and, for the most part (specs like battery standby time and poor reviews aside) it appears as close to my existing phone as possible.

Finishing the claim up online, I am presented with a bill for $130! Yes, the deductible is $130! If it wasn't for the fact that I am only 1/2 way through my 2 year contract with T-Mobile, I would tell them to stuff it and move carriers just to get a better deal. I mean, seriously, you won't offer me the same phone and you still want to charge me $130 for the privilege?

I am soooooooooo pissed.

My only other option is to add another 2 years onto my contract and pay $180 for a new CLIQ and, quite honestly, I have no intention of giving T-Mobile another 24 months of my guaranteed business after this.

This hot on the heels of the urine-smelling-dryer, which had to finally be replaced today before the entire family ran out of clothes or I started tipping my mother for fluff-and-fold service. And of course, at that rate, we decided we should probably just max the credit cards out the whole way and replace the stupid 100DB washing machine that shudders like an old, wooden roller coaster when it spins and still often leaves pools of water in clothes at the end of it's cycle. So, finally, we will have a high-efficiency, (supposedly) quiet washer in mid January. Of course, it's back-ordered. What else would you expect?

Oh, and in other news: I'm losing my voice. I'm down to a croak.

While Hubby may consider this the one positive development in his week, it proved to be very difficult to read the required 3 stories to Daisy this evening before bed. Assuming it's not back by Monday, it will also be really hard to do all those conference calls I rescheduled from Thursday and Friday when I was out sick.

Seriously, can someone blow some happy my way?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eye of pink

I have pink eye (aka: conjunctivitis, to those of us who live in the non-parenting world.)

This is what pink eye looks like.

Pink eye2

I caught it early, so, as pink-eye goes, it's not that bad. For some perspective, click here. Ack, right?

How does it feel?

Like someone is constantly poking me in the eye with a small piece of straw.


There's also the pleasure of waking in the middle of the night to feel your eyelids glued together with yellow goop.

I also have a sinus infection and an ear infection. Fortunately for you, I don't have one of those little cameras that trails up my nasal passages to provide a pic of my sore and inflamed areas. Recognize, however, that if I did, I would post it. I have no boundaries. (OK, no pride too.)

On the plus side, before I began to feel like death-warmed-up, I managed to achieve this in the, currently-designated-as, "present wrapping room"...

An improvement

Don't freak out. You're right. That IS the floor you can see.

I didn't get much wrapped but now it is better organized. And yes, for those of you with anal OCD, this DOES constitute organized for me these days.

Otherwise, not achieving much over here right now. My head feels like someone poured hot syrup into it and my body screams "lay down!" at me whenever I attempt to do anything other than sit and mindlessly stare at my computer.

Why can't the holidays happen in summer when we don't live in a vat of viruses and bugs?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tis the Season of stuff to do

  • I have to wrap all this...(Ok, sorry, WE. Hubby will help but it's not like he has a lot more time.)
To be wrappeded

Yes, I'm super organized, can't you tell?

  • I'm definitely not done Christmas shopping either. Totally stumped with some people this year. It's been all about Daisy and, well, everyone else is just now getting seen to.
  • Santa still needs a visit from Daisy (guessing he doesn't want pink-eye?)
  • We have not visited any Christmas lights yet this year. (Rain keeps wrecking our plans.)
  • Christmas cookies (an annual tradition in this house) are a maybe. Unless I can get Daisy involved in a constructive vs. destructive way, I think we'll be buying some at Safeway.
The holidays just aint what they used to be, folks. I liked it much better when I was a kid and things just "happened" around me. These days it's just a long list of more to-dos to add to my list of constantly expanding other to-dos that I never get to.

Somewhere in amongst all of this I have to muster up some Christmas spirit. A bit short on that this year...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Piss off!

Last Sunday, we were going about our daily business when we realized we had a colorless wet spot on the living room carpet. Given we have toddler who was then running around with a sippy cup we deduced she was the culprit. I smelled it at the time and it didn't really have a strong scent so we mopped the puddle casually up with a towel and went about our day.

Four days later, my nose started twitching as I was playing with Daisy in that same spot. The smell of rancid urine was wafting around my nose and it wasn't that "you forgot to change my diaper recently, Mum," kind of smell. I crawled over to the approximate spot where I remembered the wet patch and almost gagged - piss it was and, just as I thought, not a toddler's. Then it came together with our youngest dog, Maggie - aka: my one-second-from-a-Craigslist-sell-off mutt - inexplicably peeing on the rug in front of the back french doors a couple days earlier. Yup, the b**ch had peed on our 1-year new shag pile. (I hate that dog.)

No worries, right? Some Nature's Miracle, some paper towels, some Febreze and all is right with the world.


We have repeated this ritual 3 times since Wednesday, literally drenching the carpet to try and get deep-down into the fibers and still the smell is deep and equally as rancid. We even pulled out our carpet cleaner and gave it a good soaking today and still it smells no different.

I am seriously freaking out. What if the smell doesn't come out? What the hell do we do? I can't live in a house that smells like dog piss! I also can't afford to replace the carpet.


The towel I initially used to mop up the "spill", I later threw in the washing machine with a couple of other items. BAD IDEA. When I opened the machine after the first wash, the smell was just as bad there! It took two more go throughs with the fabrics and one empty run with just bleach just to get it to go away.


Although I thought the smell had been washed out of the towel, after I put it in the dryer I realized notsomuch. Now the dryer smells like dog urine and we can't get rid of it!!

We have ditched the offending towel at this point (as well as the other stinky items that accompanied it) and run the dryer repeatedly with Dryel sheets, lavender laundry sachets, even one of those dryer Dry Cleaning cloths to see if it would absorb the smelly microbes. It smells great right after the cycle is done but go back about 30 minutes later and the smell is just as bad. We did a test run with an old towel to see if the smell transferred to new fabrics and the answer, sadly, was yes. Towel #2 in the garbage.

Now we have a load of laundry sitting in the washing machine (and several loads waiting to go in) that we can't dry for fear of turning them into a pile of dog's piss.

So, we're thinking... new dryer?

I mean, like, SERIOUSLY!?

Like I said, I am FREAKING OUT.

The only saving grace in all this? We're not holiday entertaining this year. I'm guessing you all just thanked your lucky stars on that one.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

SHOW ME THE MONEY! and other afternoon quickies

  • I love/hate contracts. I love the language and the details. I hate it when contract negotiation over terms becomes a legal pissing match. You know, their lawyer says remove this Tort language, our lawyer says keep it in or lose your underpants, that kind of thing. What I would really like to do, if attorney fees weren't so freaking high, was put the two of them in a padded room and tell them not to come out until it was resolved. But then I would need to hope my guy had a good right hook and I confess to having never met him. What I'm trying to say is that what's irritating in all of this is being the go-between. I'm getting all the bad mojo trying to explain why we won't cave and all I really want is the commission. Sadly, the reality is that they retort, I go back to my lawyer, he retorts, I reply to them, their lawyer reviews, I go back to my lawyer... and this all takes WEEKS. Weeks! SHOW ME THE MONEY!
  • Wikileaks. I admit I'm not 100% genned up on the whole thing but I've been paying attention, as much as my overloaded brain will allow right now. Have to say it's pretty flipping eye-opening to find out that your PayPal account won't transfer your photography profits into your bank account because some Wikileaks supporter/hacker is screwing with their system. Also very disturbing given I "safely" store my bank account and credit card information with them. It all seemed a little too easy and I wouldn't mind betting that some folks in those Afghan mountains are currently searching for a satellite hook-up so they can post their ad on Craigslist for an experienced hacker. As for the whole issue of who is American or unAmerican or even American at all... arghhh, it's making my brain hurt (and likely to cause me an aneurysm given my favorite Palin is now weighing in.). Should confidential information be leaked for the "good" of the nation and in defense of the 1st amendment or are we cutting off our nose to spite our face? These are issues far too pressing and involved for someone who is currently stumped just trying to pick out a good pre-school for her soon-to-be 2 year old. These are MY big decisions these days. I don't have time for national security right now. Just get my PayPal account back up and... again SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Oh, and p.s. Yes I do love black people... and lawyers!

p.p.s. Who else doesn't believe a desperate transient killed that Hollywood publicist? The whole thing just reaks of a Hollywood set-up. Can I hear the made for tv movie being green-lighted as we speak?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Just a small thing

This is something I have been wanting to rant about for some time. I have exactly 20 minutes before I turn from Sales VP into mummy and so I'm going to take five of them to go off.


I get that pretty much every media outlet these days is trying figure out how to synergize it's content across a broad spectrum of media but, the way I see it, you have to find a way that does this that ADDS value to your customer.

It irks me no end when I turn on the morning news only to be greeted by some B-market anchor-person, stumbling over reading the usually ineloquent, mostly unintelligible, and even occasionally irrelevant FB page comments from presumably half-drunk or lobotomized viewers.

IF I WANTED TO READ THE COMMENTS ONLINE, I WOULD BE ONLINE! No, but I am sitting on my couch, watching you on TV and it is not adding anything to my experience to watch you squinting to read something off your Dell laptop - something that I could read for myself, in my own time if I wanted to - when you are instead supposed to be delivering me real content.

Incidentally, as an extension of this, I am detesting the whole "Viewer's Voice" trend on news programs these days. If I wanted the uninformed opinion of the average Joe on the issues of the day, I would ask my friends who are, on average, significantly more intelligent than the 15-minutes-of-fame-hungry folks who have time to comment on a local news Facebook page at 6am. The whole point of watching a news program is to get news and informed opinion from experts or professionals or whatever. I expect to be educated by watching. It's not a town-hall forum, folks, it's the news. You know, where they report... news. And I've got news for you. Your opinion is not news to me.

Yes, a little feisty this afternoon. In my defense, my time is over-committed, I'm stretched too thin, and have been stalked all day by a freaky woman who is trying to get a job with our company. 13 phone calls, folks... 13! Nobody likes a desperate job seeker.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Where is Ms. Ranty Pants?

Oyyy....I can't believe that I have not posted here since Thanksgiving. I was doing so well for a while, keeping this blog updated regularly but then, lately, notsomuch.

In my defense, there have been the three Ss:
  1. Sickness. On-and-off now for the last few weeks I seem to have been fighting one virus or another. Just when I think I've come out the other side of one, another one knocks me right back down on my chubby arse. They've been energy-sapping little suckers too. On Saturday night I went to bed at 8:00pm and slept 11 hours straight. Generally, I've been finding myself devoid of all energy and creativity after Daisy goes down at night. 
  2. Shoots. On Sunday morning I just finished-up the last of my free family photo shoots for 2010, bringing my total since October to 9. The shoots themselves only take up about two hours but the editing is a few nights a week for each one. Plus there's the blog sneak peeks. It takes time. I love it, I'm having fun, but it doesn't leave much creative energy (or hours on the clock) for personal blogging.
  3. Season. Blimey - it's just a couple of weeks away from Christmas! How did this happen? I have no idea. This year has flown by faster than any other in memory. Either way, I am hopelessly behind at card-writing, house decorating, present buying, present wrapping, Santa visiting, general planning, and the like. I am co-hosting a holiday party this Saturday and admit that I haven't even thought about my part in it yet. (Don't worry girls, I'll get it together.)
On top of all of this, work (the one that actually pays) has been busy, and I'm working on some cool business-development projects for Memories by Michelle, for instance, a new more professional-looking website, now that I actually have a portfolio of work to display.

Then there's the small matter of a little 20 month old that demands just a bit of my time here and there...

Put it all together and what do you get? NO BLOG POSTS.

I'm going to try and add little snippets here and there but, just in case I don't live up to my promise, I'm inviting you to visit the blogs of some of my friends (and yes, these are true, off-line friends who blog.) Hopefully they can keep you entertained while I am on a bit of a holiday hiatus. Please give them some blog love.

Otherwise, keep watching Memories by Michelle for more of my photography exploits.

Thanks ya'll!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Working hard at being thankful


Kids just know when a holiday is coming up. I used to think that was a crock of you-know-what but now I believe it heart-and-soul. It's because you need them to conform to the Norman Rockwell painting sooooo badly that they, of course, decide to buck the joy and laughter and instead opt for whining and fighting.

Ok, Daisy wasn't that bad but she was tough this morning. Hubby and I woke up with the joy of Thanksgiving in our hearts and, by the time we'd made it through a "don't want it" breakfast and a throw-myself-on-the-floor-and-arch-my-back walk, yeah, we were not feeling it so much. Me especially. My stupid cold still isn't 100% done and my sinuses were all screwed up. Double blech.

I know, I know, where the THANKS giving, Ms. Ranty Pants!

We did enjoy some of the parade. Here is Daisy watching Dora the Explorer cavort around on her float.


It got better once my mother arrived. She not only has the patience of the saint but she has that "my attention is 100% focused on your happiness" grandmother thing going for her and Daisy - something thoroughly not do-able at the parental level. And so, of course, Daisy turned into a sweetheart when she walked through the door. Which, ya know, works for me, even though my ego takes a severe beating every time.

Then it was up the hill to the snow and Thanksgiving dinner. The drive, of course, was supposed to be Daisy's opportunity to nap but Nanny's company turned out to be so tantalizing that this wasn't to be either.

All of this could have resulted in a disaster of an afternoon. After all, there were going to be 13 people and a dog in my mother-in-law's 1,000 square foot house. Fortunately, however, Miss Daisy was sufficiently distracted by her Aunties and Unlces that we avoided a meltdown. Something my sorry, dragging ass was really thankful for.

Dinner was, as always delicious (not that Daisy would know... she skipped it), I ate the prerequesite amount of too much, and now am happily contemplating my second cup of hot, sweet tea before turning in for the night.

All this aside, it has not been the easiest of years for many reasons and so our family has a lot to be thankful for this year. Having all 13 people (and the dog) in the house today was a blessing I think we all took pause to recognize, even despite our own little distractions.

Here are some pics from the day. You can see more on my Flickr set here.











Monday, November 22, 2010

Random Monday

Happy Monday, folks! I had a great weekend with the family.

Saturday morning was the usual swimming lessons for Missy-Moo and then, after a brief fight-to-the-death at nap-time (yes, I won!) we head out to do some Christmas shopping with Mum/Nan. We only made it to two stores, however, since Lakeshore Learning Center makes you feel like you're being a good parent and creating the next Einstein while buying toys (win-win). Plus, it was made even more enticing with a 15% off coupon. Second store was Target. Nuff said. We knocked a few folks off our list but there is still much more to go.

Speaking of shopping, I think I'm going to skip Black Friday this year. (Gasp!) Usually I get a kind of bizarre buzz out of jumping out of bed at an ungodly hour and standing in a 2 hour line for deals (yes, I even did it when pregnant) but this year it seems like there are a lot of great deals to go around already. Plus, I have begun to realize that I buy things because they're cheap and then try to fit them to my recipient list, rather than looking for deals on things already on my list. Ergo, I spend more money and buy more stuff needlessly. So, unless some big-ticket item appears at 70% off (for instance, that High Efficiency Washing Machine I would just love to have so that I can wash quietly while Missy sleeps) I shall be sleeping in. Plus, I have an 11am photo shoot, so the nail in the coffin is almost firmly rammed in.

Back to the weekend.

Sunday we went up to my mother-in-law's. She lives in the foothills, about 3,100 feet above sea level, and the recent storm blanketed her with snow, knocking her power out. While Hubby fixed her gas heater and shoveled snow, Missy-Moo and I wrapped up and went for a walk.

The snow was more-than knee deep for her and she wasn't best pleased that she had to take of her "new shewwwwwws" to put on stiff boots, but she eventually found the fun in it. She even failed to complain about me dressing her up as a multi-colored marshmallow puff.

Our weekend was topped-off by dinner with friends who have a little girl the same age as Daisy. We had the best time watching the two girls chase one another around the house with squeals of delight and then jump under the cover of their California King bed together, like an old married couple. I didn't take my camera on this occasion because I know our friends have a DSLR, so I'm hoping they'll send me some of the pics (hint-hint) - the cuteness was on serious OVERLOAD.

In other news, I'm super excited it's a short week this week. I've been recovering from some kind of bug/virus with periodic headaches and bouts of general malaise. It has also left me uncharacteristic amounts of exhausted at the end of the day. It's going to be nice to have four days off although, as I said, I have some photo shoots this holiday weekend. Not that taking pictures is work. In fact, if the weather FINALLY holds out, I'm really looking forward to it.

What's planned for your Thanksgiving week?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adult Time

This weekend, in celebration of our anniversary, Hubster and I went away for some adult time. Just one night where we didn't have to creep into bed or jump out in the morning to the sounds of "Muuuuuuuuuum! Daaaaaaaaaaaad!" being yelled from the next room at 6am.

Last year we hung out in downtown Sacramento. This year we decided to go retro and bought tickets to see 90s diva group, En Vogue, at Cache Creek Casino and Resort. Since it's about an hour's drive away, we also stayed overnight in the hotel.

All dressed up with somewhere to go!

Mr. Ranty Pants' dirty secrets

When Hubby was but a cocky teenager, he and his friend, E, used to drive out to this Indian Gaming Casino in the almost-non-existent town of Brooks, in the middle of the night, play blackjack on green plastic chairs, pick up girls and then drive home in the dead of night.  (Of course, this is what he tells me - the edited version - if you want all the sordid details, you'll have to talk to Mr. Ranty Pants personally.)

Needless to say, Cache Creek has come a long way from green plastic chairs. It's now a sprawling resort with 200 rooms and a golf course, facts which just blew Hubby away as we pulled in.

What? No pictures?

It's also located in an extremely pretty, but not very well known, agricultural area of Northern California: the Capay Valley. I'm not sure what I was expecting from Brooks - probably the barren and thoroughly unexciting expanse of land like around the casino closer to home, Thunder Valley - but I was pleasantly surprised by the miles and miles of orchards and gently rolling, green hills. There's just something very soothing about driving through little towns where Saturday evening entertainment revolves around the high school football field or local park, and where long roads that stretch out between vast fields have numbers not names. (At least soothing for a break from the norm; I think I'd shoot myself if I had to live there.)

We arrived on Saturday just as the sun was setting and the golden light across the fields and through the trees was stunning. Needless to say, at every turn I was plotting a return for some sort of photo shoot in the future. I did not bring either my DSLR or my point-and-shoot since I was focusing on couple time not photo practice. (Yes, I deserve a wifely gold star.)

To give you an idea, however, the area around the casino looks somewhat like this: (Photo stolen from

This is the entrance to the casino. Like I said, fancy for being in the middle of nowhere.

Room service!

We began our evening by hanging out in the room and ordering two plates of fries with ketchup and ranch from room service. Hubby and I have a long history of enjoying a simple plate of fries when we're "on vacation" and so this was the perfect start to our evening.

Then we moved onto cocktails. I, of course, with my signature martini.

Dinner and the Asian Soup Nazi

We had planned on trying to eat at the Casino's signature steak restaurant, C2 (which is actually C-squared but I can't find the super-script function on blogger) but we left it too late to make a reservation. Kind of made us mad, though, when they told us they were booked out and we walked by to see several empty tables. Whatever.

In fact, getting dinner was surprisingly harder than we expected. We next tried to sit at the bar of their Asian restaurant, Kung Fu Fat's. Unfortunately, there was only one chair available at the bar and the bar tender would not serve us unless we could both be seated. (!!!) Even when we said we just wanted a drink and would wait until two seats became available, he remained, uncharacteristically for a bar tender, unhelpful. So, he lost our very generous tip as we moved on. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot else out there to be had, so we returned to Fat's for a reservation in the dining room.

Hubster ordered Orange Chicken (or something similar; his usual) and I decided to be a bit different and order a noodle bowl with duck. However, our stern Asian waitress wasn't impressed with my selection.

"You know it's big bowl of soup, right?" Since the description had been very clear on the menu, I nodded and said, yes I did, thank you.

Apparently, it seems that the description of "soup" had been unclear to many of her patrons in the past because the waitress kept pushing. "Just bowl of broth and noodle.Okaaaay?" Yes! Yes! Okay!

Next, Hubby attempted to order some Hot and Sour soup of his own but clearly this was wrong also. "You don't want soup too," she said, shaking her head forcefully. "She has big bowl. You share with her, yes?"

Dumbfounded, Hubby agreed. There's just something about a stern Asian accent which makes you reluctant to argue.

She wasn't wrong about the size of the bowl, however...

Holding on... to our youth (barely)

And then there was the concert itself. Those girls can sure still blow, even if they do look a little older. Hard to believe that "Hold on" (to your love) was, gulp, 20 years ago now. Yes, that's right 30-somethings, it was 20 years ago. Blew my mind too. Should I give you time to throw some cold water on your face before I continue?


The height of luxury: tv in bed, breakfast, and the newspaper in our room

I think this header speaks for itself. BLISS.

We hung out in our room watching a B movie with Chris Rock, ate, read the newspaper, and pretty much took our sweet time to pack up and check out.

Sigh... until next year!

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's a wonderful life

Yesterday, as I was using that fantastico tool Picnik and all my photos from the last 6 years on Flickr, to product my anniversary picture collage, I was struck by all the smiles and the different places Hubby and I have been together.

Life these days moves at such a hectic pace and, being the A-type personalities we are, Hubster and I are always pushing forward to "the next thing." So it's a rare day that we stop to look back and appreciate what came before.

After I finished the collage, combing through my last 6 years in pictures, I found myself feeling profoundly grateful for wonderful experiences, a wonderful marriage, wonderful friends, and a wonderful family.

I sent the collage to Hubby and he too had the same feelings. It was very life-affirming.

I also realized two things:
  1. I want more! The future is an open book and we intend to fill it with more brightly colored pictures of people, places, and wide smiles. Bring it on!
  2. The pictures of the two of us together pretty much stopped about 19 months ago. 10 guesses as to why that is! So, now I'm on a new mission to get more pics of us together. 
Yes, It's a wonderful life!

Monterey Sept 2010 249

Monterey Sept 2010 319

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy 4th Anniversary to us

It's been a wonderful four years of marriage and an even more amazing ten years together. We've partied, traveled, settled down, had a baby, and are still plotting world dominance.

Here's to more of all of the above in the coming years (babies excepted!)

Friday, November 05, 2010


In no particular order.

1. The new camera.

Weellll, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is... and was. My dreams of a $500 Canon 50D were dashed this past week after Thunder Cameras tried to swindle my mother (who is buying me the camera as a Christmas gift) for extra money for an "upgrade" that was actually a downgrade. So, back to the drawing board on that one.

2. A hole for my pigeon.

I have found my religion. Ok, maybe not my religion, more like my un-religion. Well, that's not so accurate either. More like my philosophical pigeon hole.

Thanks to The Urban Koda, who has been undergoing somewhat of a philosophical/spiritual/political evolution of late (yay for him, btw!) I have discovered "Humanism". It's everything I wanted to say about how I feel my personal beliefs, such that they are, fit into this whole realm. Not that I reject the term Atheist any more than I reject the label Liberal - I embrace both, despite the inaccurate stereotypes that have been created in American culture about both (contrary to popular belief I don't have horns or sleep with the devil at night) - it's just that Humanism seems to be a nuanced version. To quote the American Humanist Association :
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Which is basically what I have been saying all along. In my words: I aspire to the ethics and morals of some religions or parts thereof, but without the belief in a supernatural power. 

3. Preschools

This week we began the search for a preschool for Miss. Daisy. We've no plans to send her anywhere until she's two but that big day is only months away now and we want time to find the right spot, sit on it, apply, and make sure a spot is available. Fortunately the economy is helping us in the last regard - enrollments are down at private schools. 

I've visited a few now and have only really found one that impresses me: Creative Frontiers. Most places, IMHO, are pretty soul-less, gray, square boxes with just-above-minimum-wage workers who go through the motions of singing the songs and teaching the cookie-cutter curriculum, at least at this early age. 

Not CF, however. It's a village-like 7 acres with horses, chickens, goats, a swimming pool, and an on-site cook.The teachers are warm, engaged, and involved. I loved it. I have several others to visit but this one will be hard to beat. 

Another plus is that it has classes right up to 6th grade and, given the way school funding has been heading in recent years, I reserve the right to outright reject the chronically underfunded public education system in 2014. 

This really pains me, by the way, but I (our family) refuse to have my daughter miss the mark on her full potential because people won't pay their fare share of taxes. Sorry folks, I'm unbudgeable on this and health care. Basic rights. Teachers are underpaid. Supplies and facilities are underfunded. Class sizes are too large. This is the future of America -  pay up!

4. The elections

California Republicans need to stop whining and flipping out. Really guys, you're taking this whole "fear" thing too far. As we tell Daisy in the middle of one of her toddler tantrums: "DON'T PANIC!" 

I've seen all sorts of doomsday predictions on Facebook about the future of our state because it failed to follow the whiplash trend of voting Republican in this week's elections. I have some things to say about this:
  1. Move. Yeah, so most California Democrats live in LA and San Francisco but, the last time I checked, politicians represented people, not land, and that's where the most people are so suck it up or move to Texas. 
  2. You can't complain that Democrats are ineffectual in one breath and threaten the very survival of our state the next. Either they do nothing and are therefore no harm or they're busy doing something to piss you off. Pick one.
  3. Everyone should be excited that Meg Whitman did not win the CA Governorship, regardless of party. Do we really want to be the state whose votes were bought? I firmly believe my vote is worth more than the $50 she paid but would rather have seen her donate that money to a worthy cause. Plus, honestly, I saw more than enough of that woman's face in the last year to serve me a lifetime. I'm pretty confident I'm not alone in that.
  4. If you actually look at Jerry Brown's proposals, you'll see that he has actually taken some Republican ideas and incorporated them into his approach. For instance, the idea of starting at a zero budget every year and forcing state departments to justify every penny they need in the coming year. That was something Republicans put on the table originally. I think it's a pretty good idea too. Yes, that's right, I thought a Republican idea was a good one. Quiz me beyond the hyperbole and ridiculousness that permeates public political discourse these days and you'll find a number of instances where I think right wing ideas make sense. I'm no patsy thankyouverymuch.
  5. THANK GOD (whomever/whatever he/she/it is.) It's possible I might be begging my husband to move me back to England right now if I didn't see SOME bright spots of blue across this country. Maybe you think losing me back to the Brits would be a win for the U.S.? Pretty sure my husband is grateful though. (He doesn't want to live in England. I know, free healthcare AND pubs... WHY NOT!?)
5. My husband's annoying habits

Yes, he has a few. A couple that drive me INSANE. I just threatened him that I would publish at least one of them on here if he didn't QUIT IT. Stay tuned to learn TMI about Mr. Ranty Pants if he doesn't comply. 

Ok, maybe I do sleep with the devil. Hehe.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fall Color

Although you wouldn't know it by the weather this week (sunny, high 70s), it's just starting to be autumn here in Sacramento. This is Hubby and my favorite time of the year. I love the end of sweltering temperatures, the cool breezes, the occasional rain, sweaters, socks, and cuddles. I also love the changing colors of the trees in our neighborhood. Sometimes the contrast between the evergreens, the palm trees, and the deciduous can be striking.

Here are some photos from our evening walk with Miss. Daisy.

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How's the fall color coming along in YOUR neighborhood?
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