Sunday, April 27, 2008

Becoming a Mixologist

I have been thinking lately that if I get laid off from my job, which is always a possibility at my company that I want to go to bartender school. Not that I want to go to work as a bartender, but I want to know how to make a variety of drinks for me, my husband and our friends. Since I still have a job, I have decided that I am going to try to start learning to make a bunch of different drinks this summer. So far I only have two drinks I feel good about making…a white Russian and a margarita on the rocks. Next up is a gin and tonic since that is my husband’s drink of choice. If anyone has any good drink recipes, please leave them for me in the comments section.

Friday, April 25, 2008

13.1 Miles

I am thinking about running another half marathon. I have such a hard time motivating myself to exercise that I need a goal. There is a half marathon in Virginia Beach over Labor Day weekend and I am considering trying to get back into running shape to do this race. I have 4 months, so that is enough time if I am dedicated. Last time I trained for 3 months with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training where I had a coach and team to train with in return for my fundraising efforts. It is a great program, but I do not think I want to do the fundraising again. Plus, I had a hard time getting to some of the group work outs since most were not close to where I live so I did a lot on my own anyway. I did like doing the long runs with TNT though because there was a good support system with routes marked and tables along the way with food and drinks. It was also nice to have people to run with to help it pass the time. There is a local running club I could run with, but I worry that I am too slow to run with them. They do have a women’s program starting up soon for people new to running or trying to get back into running. Maybe I will try that as a starting point.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Where do they get these people? The guys on Survivor this season are just not playing the game at all. The guy voted out tonight really never had a chance. He was good at challenges, but was way too impressionable. Last week he let the girls convince him to throw the immunity challenge and then tonight they convinced him to not use the hidden immunity idol. Oh and this was after he fell for a fake immunity idol a couple weeks ago. They should have kept this guy just because he would do whatever they wanted.

After it was over, my husband said to one of our cats, “Even you can outwit the guys on this show…and you’re cleaning your butt…with your tongue.”

Thursday Thirteen - Homeowner Lessons

I have been a homeowner for about three and a half years now. It has been quite trying at times because lots of things have gone wrong with the house, most of which were not obvious problems, but overall it has been wonderful to finally have a home of my own. Here are 13 things I have learned from being a homeowner.

1. Water always wins. I have learned this the hard way…too many times.

2. It takes a couple days to air out a house after it has been sprayed by a skunk.

3. Good contractors are extremely rare and very few can correctly diagnose a problem. How can so many be late or not show up at all? These people would be fired in any other profession.

4. Everything costs 3 times what I think it should.

5. Putting holes (even big ones) in the wall is not as scary as I thought. They are easy to fix.

6. Nice furniture is really expensive and it takes lots of it to fill a house, so my house is pretty empty. People often ask if we just moved in or if we are moving out.

7. I like to paint and I am pretty good at it. It may take me weeks to complete a room, but it will look good when it is done.

8. More bathrooms = more things that can leak.

9. Do not look at the old carpet and pad after it is pulled out when getting new carpet. I made that mistake and the stains were shocking. Next time…new carpet before I move into a house.

10. Most appliances have a life of about 12 years. I bought my house when it was 11.5 years old

11. The difference between wood floors cupping and crowning. Neither is good and I have seen both happen to my floors.

12. Do not walk around your house with a black light unless you are prepared for some disgusting findings.

13. Having a mortgage is not as daunting as I thought.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blame It on the Rain

It has been raining here the last few days. My attitude toward rain has changed over the years. It rarely rained when I was a kid growing up in southern California. When it did, it was exciting because it was something different and it meant we got to eat lunch inside at school and play heads up 7-up. The rain would be the top story on the evening news. It seemed normal at the time, but you would think a news station that covers Los Angeles and most of southern California would have something more important to report other than it is raining and people are running into each other with their cars. I had no idea that it actually rains in the summer in some places until we visited my mom’s side of the family in North Dakota and Minnesota. Not only did it rain in the summer while we were there, we experienced violent thunder storms (lighting hit a tree outside my window) and a twister. I started to like the rain less when I was in college because I did not like riding my bike in the rain to campus. Then it got worse during an El Nino year when we had torrential rain. I think it rained 12 inches in 12 hours are one point and school was even canceled. My street flooded not once, but twice and both times my car was parked on the street and was flooded as well. People at my school could make anything fun though. When my roommate and I got our cars to higher ground, some guys in a row boat picked us up and rowed us home. They even had beer in the boat so we had a drink on the way. My bad luck with floods did not end there. During another extreme weather event when I lived in the bay area, my street flooded due to the overflowing creeks and we were almost evacuated. I had a bag packed and was ready to go if the fire department came down our street. The house I lived in also had about an inch of water in it due to poor drainage in the yard. This was a very long night since my roommates and I stayed up trying to keep the water out of the house and moving things around to the drier parts of the house. This taught me to respect and somewhat fear the power of rain. I realized weather is powerful and uncontrollable. Now here I am living in Virginia where the average rainfall per year is about four times that of California. I really did not like all the rain when we first moved here, especially in the summer. The last couple of years have been quite dry which caused the grass, plants and trees to all dry out. This spring has been fairly wet and everything is green and growing, which has made me learn to appreciate the rain. This area is very green with lots of trees, which I like, but it takes quite a bit of rain to keep them green. Now the only things I do not like about rain are that it makes my hair big and I have to sit in traffic longer, but that is not so bad.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Is It True?

Is it true that any publicity is good publicity? We shall see. Recent examples of negative publicity that may pay off are the Gossip Girl racy OMFG ad campaign and Ashlee Simpson’s engagement/possible pregnancy. Gossip Girl goes back on the air tonight with new episodes and Ashlee Simpson’s new CD drops tomorrow. Neither would have received much attention without the controversies, so we will see if the publicity helps with viewers and sales or not. Gossip Girl had some backlash from the ads and changed them slightly, but they were just trying to get a buzz, and it worked. On the other hand, I think it is a fair guess that Joe Simpson leaked the pregnancy rumors to get attention on Ashlee even though it goes against all he believes in as a minister. I am worried about Gossip Girl though. I like the show, but between the over the top ad campaign and adding a new character, I have to wonder if they are already running out of material or feeling desperate. Are they hoping the new character will be to Gossip Girl what Heather Locklear was to Melrose Place? For the record…I will be watching Gossip Girl tonight, but still have no interest in buying Ashlee Simpson’s new CD.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - My Favorite Things

1. Food - Mexican and french fries

2. 21st Century Invention - iPod

3. Vacation Destination - Australia

4. Season - spring (the azaleas are getting ready to bloom!)

5. Adult Beverage - champagne

6. Non Adult Beverage - iced tea (since I gave up diet coke/pepsi)

7. Baseball Team - Los Angeles Dodgers

8. Flower - white rose

9. Website - and

10. Smell - coffee brewing

11. Sound - waves crashing

12. Musical Group - U2

13. Ice Cream Flavor - Coffee Heath Bar Crunch

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My New Friend Nuvi

I received a Garmin Nuvi portable GPS for Christmas. Virginia does not have a lot of street lights or street signs which can make it difficult to find new places. I always know when I have crossed into Maryland because all of a sudden there are signs. I refer to the GPS as “Nuvi”. Nuvi is a very polite woman and she does not yell at me even when I do not follow her directions. I know I have made a mistake when she tells me she is “recalculating”. I have used Nuvi a little bit since Christmas, but only for places around town that I already knew or with internet directions and a map as a back up. Nuvi had her first real test this past weekend on the way to Keswick Hall near Charlottesville. The directions on the hotel web site were vague and the various internet direction sites all gave me different directions so I decided to put my faith in Nuvi. No map, just the vague hotel directions and Nuvi is all we took. It was all fine for the first part of the trip because Nuvi had us on the same route as the hotel directions, but then somewhere in the middle of nowhere Virginia, she deviated. We were a little hesitant, but trusted her…at first. Then it seemed she was just playing with us seeing how many turns she could make us take and how many small towns she could take us through. We had no idea where she was taking us or if we were anywhere near our destination. If Nuvi broke down, we would be in trouble since we had no idea where we were during most of the trip. Since we have not used Nuvi much, we did not know about all of her features and eventually saw that she gave us the time we would arrive at our destination. That made us feel better because the time was ten minutes less than what the internet directions gave. At exactly the time she gave, we arrived at our destination!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Getaway - Keswick Hall

My husband and I had a lovely getaway over the weekend at Keswick Hall, a hotel just outside Charlottesville at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The weather was absolutely perfect. It was warm and sunny, without any humidity or bugs. We do not get a lot of days like that around here. The two hour drive south through the Virginia hunt country was gorgeous with the trees and flowers blooming and the grass bright green like in a post card. We walked the grounds, had a drink on the terrace and then enjoyed a fabulous meal at Fossett’s, the hotel restaurant. It was one of the best meals I have had in Virginia with fresh ingredients prepared to perfection. Our table was next to a wall of windows with a beautiful view while it was light out and then the atmosphere turned incredibly romantic as it grew dark. This was the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gossip Girl

One of my new favorite shows this season is Gossip Girl. It is kind of a guilty pleasure and it requires a suspension of disbelief that these 16 year olds can get away with what they do on the show (drinking in NY bars, going to strip clubs, etc). The first time I saw the show, I thought they were supposed to be in their early twenties...but then they went back to high school. I am excited for it to come back now that the writers strike is over, but I think the new ads are too racy given that the characters are 16 year old prep school students. There is a video as well that is quite suggestive. I do not consider myself a prude, but I think using such sexual ads with teenage characters is in bad taste.

Thursday Thirteen: Tidbits about Patrice

1. I was on the UCSB men’s bowling team in college (there was not a women’s team so they had to allow me on the men’s team)

2. I have never eaten a Big Mac

3. I ran a half marathon

4. I went on a bus trip through Europe by myself after college

5. I was on the tennis team in high school

6. The first concert I went to was U2 at the LA Coliseum when I was 14

7. I grew up 4 miles from the beach, but I did not realize how much I love the beach until I moved far from it

8. I got married on the beach in Australia

9. I found out there was no Santa Claus when I was 7 years old

10. When I was a kid I wanted to be a truck driver when I grew up (thanks to BJ and the Bear), then when I got a little older, either an astronaut, chef of my own restaurant, or 2nd baseman for the Dodgers

11. I have a fear of birds of prey

12. I still dream about my childhood best friend and her family even though our friendship ended 20 years ago

13. I have 44 first cousins on my mom’s side, but I would not recognize any of them if they walked by me right now since I have not seen any of them in 23 years

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Vegas Baby!

I had a great time in Vegas! My friend Julie met me out there and we stayed at the MGM Grand for the weekend. I flew on Southwest and the new boarding procedure is much more civilized than the previous method where people lined up hours in advance. I packed only carry-on luggage, which was a first for me since the new rules about liquids. I crammed all my small leak proof bottles into a quart sized bag and it was worth it to not have to wait for the luggage on either end. I arrived without any problems and checked in at the MGM desk in the airport so I had my key in hand and was ready to go to the hotel. The MGM guy tried to convince me to take their shuttle since it was free with our room package, but I prefer taking a taxi to get to the hotel faster. He made some comment to come back and when I see how long the taxi line is, which I just ignored because I did not like his attitude. When I stepped into MGM and smelled whatever it is they pump into the ventilation system, I knew it was going to be a good weekend. I love that smell and it puts me a in a good mood…probably because the last time I gambled at MGM I had a lot of fun and won some money. This was my first time staying there though and the room was nice and clean. Not nearly as nice as the Wynn, but MGM is much cheaper so I did not expect it to be as nice. As much as I loved the Wynn on my last trip, my luck was so bad there that I wanted to stay away on this trip. Julie’s flight got changed at the last minute so I had a few hours on my own before she arrived…of course I spent them in the casino playing blackjack. I went to my lucky row near the Tom Jones theater and was happy to get a spot at a table at first base. I met a group of nice people from Michigan and they adopted me until Julie arrived. We had a good time and I was winning! I love it when I find a fun table with good players. The only problem was with the drink service. “Bobby Jane” was our waitress…she was really Tracy from Alaska, but forgot her name tag and used some else’s. She was really sweet and nicknamed me “my Heineken”, but she was soooo slow and often forgot people’s drinks or brought the wrong drink. Oh well, it helped me pace myself a little better than usual. She did bring me water even when I did not ask for it. I took that as her hint for me to drink some water. I tuckered out pretty early (about 1:30am), which surprised me, so it was off to bed. Saturday we spent some time at MGM trying to hit the Megabucks $19.5M jackpot, but no luck, and then we went downtown. I have not been downtown in a really long time and the place just depressed me. Everything was old and in disrepair like it was a town left behind. We gambled at Fitzgeralds for a while and my luck at blackjack continued! The not so good things about this place were the awful orange scent and the weird guy with the ankle security bracelet. After that, it was back to the MGM to get ready for dinner. We had an excellent dinner at Pearl, an upscale Chinese restaurant at MGM. The Chinese food here in Virginia is awful compared to the west coast and Pearl was all I hoped it would be and more. I wanted to keep eating and eating, but I did not want that super full uncomfortable feeing. We stopped to see the kitties in the lion habitat and then gambled some more. My luck was not as good this time so I stopped while I was still ahead. The limits were too high in my lucky Tom Jones row so I had to try another row, which clearly was not lucky. Now it was time to get our groove on and we headed to Tabu to dance. We had free passes and were put on the guest list earlier in the day so we did not need to wait in line. It was not very happening when we got there, but as it filled up it got more fun. The dance floor was full of couples at first and we felt a little awkward being the only two girls dancing together, but the dance floor is pretty small and as it got more crowded it was like everyone was dancing with everyone. We left once our feet could not take it anymore since we could not sit down without paying for table service. I was not tired so we went to a bar to sit down and get something to drink. We met some interesting people with some interesting stories and stayed until about 4am. I also enjoyed the people watching and trying to pick out the prostitutes. We had to be checked out of the hotel by 11am, but who needs sleep? I had not been sleeping well lately, but that night was the best sleep I had in a long time. The five hours went by quickly and I slept like a rock. After check out and breakfast, we gave the Megabucks one more try. Nope, still did not win so I guess I would have to go back to work after all. Then I was off to the airport and on my way home. The trip home was uneventful although I did sit next to one of the Washington Redskins. Poor guy was the last one to get a seat so he got the middle seat next to me. Overall it was a great trip! I got to spend time with Julie, eat good food, gamble, and win! MGM Grand is my new favorite hotel. It has everything I like…nice rooms, decent price, good food, fun atmosphere, crowd my age and low enough limit blackjack. I cannot wait to go back!

Monday, April 7, 2008