Friday, December 29, 2006


I don’t usually go in for the whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing. In fact, don’t think I’ve ever made one and have always thought them to be kind of silly. I mean, really, don’t most people kinda know deep down what they need to be working on in their lives? Y’know, we might be in denial about them or not be willing to tackle them head one, but in those fleeting, dark, still moments where we’re REALLY honest with ourselves, I think most of us at least know the general areas that we have issues with.

Besides, does ANYONE EVER actually stick with a resolution until it’s been achieved? I sorta doubt it. But then, I’m cynical that way.

Still, in the last two years, I’ve made a conscious choice to go out and pursue things that are not my natural inclinations and so far, it’s worked pretty well. So, maybe I ought to give this resolution thingy a try?

Here goes (in no particular order):

1. Spend more time with the kidlet. Being a single, working mom puts a severe restriction on how much time I actually get to spend with him that isn’t taken up with getting him dressed, fed, cleaned, put to bed, etc. I want more time where we enjoy each other’s company, play, learn, and make memories.

2. Lose another 20 lbs. Even though I met my weight loss goal back in October and have kept the weight off, I feel like I can go further in this area.

3. Expand my social horizons – both romantically and platonically. I took a couple of stabs at this in 2006, but I need to focus more attention on it in 2007 and explore more options.

4. Clean up, re-organize and re-decorate the house. Now that I no longer have the burden of having to work around someone else’s stupid ideas…er…I mean now that the divorce is final, I finally have the freedom to tackle this long overdue project. And, I can do it without losing my motivation because someone else is standing around bitching and moaning, complaining, making 70,000 trips to Home Depot because he can’t remember sh*t, just generally being a pain in the ass, and getting angry and yelling at me because he doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing and has messed stuff up but can’t admit it and therefore has to take it out on me because I dared to suggest that perhaps drinking a 6-pack while working on a project might hamper one’s ability to perform household repair tasks. Yeah, I’m so gonna miss that. NOT!

5. Add more outdoor activities to my workout schedule. I’m finding the gym is getting a bit boring so I’ve hit a couple of bike stores to price bicycles and want to start taking walks at the beach on the weekends. Hey, how else am I gonna meet a cute surfer?

6. Be thankful every day for my family, my health and my FREEDOM. Enjoy the peace in my house, make good use of the solitude, feel how much easier it is to stand up straight without the 10-ton burden on my back of being forced to live by someone else’s rules. Revel in the fact that the house is now a criticism-free zone. Well, except when Mom comes to visit, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

I think there are supposed to be 10 of these resolution things, but since I’m a newbie at this and since I’ve picked some pretty big stuff to tackle, I think I’ll leave it at six. I’ll have to do a “check-in” in July or something to see how I’m progressing on these things.

I’m off to see “Dreamgirls” with a friend tonight and then dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Hey, it’s not 2007 yet so I don’t have to start working on those 20 lbs. until Monday! I’m also trying to plan some activities for the kidlet for this weekend, too. We’re either going to Legoland or we’re going to take the train to San Clemente on Saturday and walk on the beach and maybe eat at the pier.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Spirit on sale at Target!

I did a lot of reflecting about the “Christmas Spirit” last weekend. It’s not something I ever really had to think about before – I was always brimming over with it. The original Christmas Elf, that’s me. No matter how much others (aka the X) bitched and groused and made general Scrooges of themselves, I refused to be daunted. Halls would be decked, carols would be sung and there would be drinking of wassail and much general merry-making.

Even last year with the horrific events of September and October dragging at me, I was determined to enjoy the holidays. I had a momentary blip on Christmas Eve when the kidlet arrived home to announce in front of my entire family that he’d spent the evening with his dad and his dad’s mistress. The kidlet didn’t use those words, but it was obvious what was going on and since that was the first I knew for sure (although I’d suspected) that there was another woman (oh, who am I kidding…women), well, what a nice Christmas present for me. But, I buried it and soldiered on, more determined than ever to not let the holidays be ruined and I did a pretty good job of it. Support from my family and some extra-nice presents didn’t hurt.

But this year, with the divorce being finalized in the last couple of weeks, I suddenly found myself totally lacking in any Christmas Spirit whatsoever. I didn’t care about shopping. I didn’t have any reason to bake anything. I made a half-hearted attempt to put some Christmas lights on the house but only because in my neighborhood you HAVE to participate in the whole lights thing or the neighborhood mafia makes sure you quietly disappear…or so I’ve heard. I kept wondering what was wrong with me and thinking “well, things will change when I get closer to the holidays.”

Then, I tried putting on some Christmas music to put myself in the mood and found myself crying and that’s when I knew. The universe had finally won. The Christmas Spirit had finally been trampled, kicked, beaten and pounded out of me. It was just gone and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back.

I cried more about that realization than I have about anything in a long time. Something about the knowledge that I’d finally lost that last childlike spark of innocence was incredibly disheartening. I tried to put on a front. I went Christmas shopping. I bought cookie decorating paraphernalia and a gingerbread house kit for the kidlet. I even volunteered to host Christmas Day at my house because hey, no stress. I no longer cared.

Then, something started to happen. I went over to my parents’ house to wrap my presents and help them wrap theirs. On the way, I stopped at Target to pick up some extra boxes and other wapping supplies. While I was there I realized I should check out some Christmas decorations for the inside of the house to make things a little more festive since I was hosting the day. I found a small fake tree that came complete with lights (no assembly – yay!) on sale for $20 and got that. Then I realized I needed extra stocking hangers for all the guests coming and I found a really cute little table runner to put on my buffet table. I knew I was going to put my evergreen garland across the mantle, but bought a string of lights and some gold bows to spiff it up a bit. Then I remembered all the holiday candles that I never use because I don’t have bases for them so I picked up some different candle-holders and bases and a bag of cinnamon apple potpourri. Despite it being the last weekend before Christmas, I breezed through the checkout line and by the time I hit my car, I was feeling decidedly pepped up.

Then, I hit the bird store to pick up some extra treats for the parrot and some things for Santa to leave in his stocking. Yes, the parrot has his own Christmas stocking. Want to make something of it? YOU try explaining to a 3 year old why everyone except the bird got something from Santa! Of course, while I was there, I had to stop and play with all the baby birds including one incredibly sweet baby cockatiel who’d had an accident and lost most of its upper beak. Despite that, it begged for me to pick it up and let me scratch its head and then it rode around on my shoulder while I did my shopping. It was awfully hard for me to leave that bird behind – it reminded me so much of my sweet Jimmy-girl who passed away a year ago this Thanksgiving. Still, I felt really good by the time I left the store. I guess there’s just something about unconditional love – it’s obviously an essential ingredient in “Christmas Spirit.”

And while I started out irritated at having to spend a day doing nothing but wrapping, I found myself starting to really enjoy playing with the pretty paper and ribbon. I thought about all the previous Christmases where I’d helped my mom with the wrapping starting when I was about 12 or so and she first taught me how to wrap a package. Mom sat down at the table with me and wrapped a few things and we talked…which we hardly ever do unless it’s about babysitting or groceries or things I need my dad to help me with around the house. It was nice.

I spent the next morning putting up my new little tree and decorating the mantel with all the fun things I’d bought and for once, I was really pleased with how things turned out. Usually when I plan a project like this, one string of lights burns out or I can’t find what I want at the store or something gets dropped and broken, but none of that happened and everything looked even better than I had planned.

I even had enough time left over that I decided to replace the hand-painted Christmas shirts that I made for the kidlet and me to wear the last couple of years. Both of us had completely outgrown them – his were too small and mine was WAY too big. A quick trip to Michael’s for some shirts and then home to dig out my fabric paints and my patterns and I got three shirts done. Plus, I mostly finished the charm bracelet I’m making for the kidlet’s teacher’s present.

I looked up from painting the last shirt and suddenly realized that my Christmas Spirit was back in full force. I couldn’t wait for the kidlet to get home and see how I’d transformed the house and help me finish decorating the tree. I ordered some classic Christmas movies for us to watch this weekend and picked up some cocoa and marshmallows to have tonight after we finish the tree. The Christmas music is all queued up in the CD player and I’ve even got candles and the fireplace going.

I started crying again, but this time they were tears of joy because I realized that my Christmas Spirit was never lost at all. I just had to remember how to get to the special place where I keep it. Y'know, Target really DOES have EVERYTHING! And sometimes it's even on sale...

Not sure how much posting I’ll do over the holidays…I’m on full-time Mom (not to mention Elf) duty until about January 10th, but a very Merry, Merry Christmas to all and I’ll see you in 2007!


P.S. Here's the picture of the teacher's bracelet all finished. It was supposed to have more charms on it, but that shipment never arrived from the vendor so I had to improvise:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book Review

Whew! Haven’t had time for a book review in a while so thought I’d sneak in a small one. Part of the problem has been lack of decent reading material. Most of my favorite authors have new material coming out in the first or second quarter of ’07, but the last few months have been abysmally bereft of anything really awe-inspiring.

I read Wen Spencer’s “Wolf Who Rules” – the follow-up to “Tinker” – and found it to be pretty good. The plot got a little out of hand towards the end, but generally, it was a good sequel. I think I’d wait for the paperback version, though, as it doesn’t quite live up to the start made in the first book. Having said that, I somehow managed to buy two copies of the hardback version without realizing it (hello? blonde hair!) so if anyone wants the second one, e-mail me and we’ll work out a deal.

I’ve also been continuing to read the “Honor Harrington” series by David Weber. I’m on about book #8 or something and while they’ve been keeping me busy, there’s really no need to do individual reviews on them as basically the same thing happens in every book. The Star Kingdom of Manticore gets its fanny caught in a bear trap and Honor Harrington single-handedly (and against overwhelming odds) rescues it while simultaneously proving that she is “practically perfect in every way.” Weber does try very hard to balance that out with a lot of tough command decisions and personal injuries/losses that she has to deal with, and that helps keep her from being super-annoying in the perfection department. Still, it’s one of the things that you just sort of have to accept and overlook about the character and the series as a whole. There’s a little too much time and attention paid to starship technology, the physics of battles in space and the enemy’s internal political struggles for my personal taste, but those things are the hallmark of this particular genre so if they bug you, just skip over ‘em to get back to the action. That’s what I do and it works just fine. I do have to say that, annoying technological interruptions aside, other authors could learn a thing or two about action and intensely-paced battles from Mr. Weber. If you find yourself approaching one of the climactic battle scenes in these books at bedtime – either put the book down and wait for morning, or prepare yourself for a sleepless night as you try to recover from a major adrenaline rush.

Lastly, I picked up the first book in Lois McMaster Bujold’s newest series. “Beguilement: The Sharing Knife Volume 1” is an interesting departure from both her Vorkosigan series and her Chalion series. Although it’s fantasy like Chalion, it’s set in a completely different world and deals with “peasant-class” characters versus the nobles who are the main focus of the Chalion series. That’s a refreshing change as it’s a level of society that is too often made one dimensional or ignored entirely by most fantasy novels. The background world and the main “evil” are interesting and well-thought out, but Bujold’s true talent is in making characters come alive. Dag and Fawn are both immediately likeable and interesting and the romance that develops between them is one of the most well-written I’ve read in a long time although it is somewhat reminiscent of the one she created in “Shards of Honor” – the first Vorkosigan novel. And, let me just say, certain authors (cough! Laurell K. Hamilton cough! cough!) could learn a LOT from the way Ms. Bujold writes a sex scene. It’s absolutely clear what actions are going on and yet it’s written with a sweet innocence that makes it a delight to read. There’s also just enough detail to make it sexy mixed with just enough vagueness to allow the reader’s imagination to go as far as it wants to. This makes a nice contrast to all of the overly-anatomically-graphic sex scenes that seem to be all the rage right now. I’m tired of sex scenes which, rather than being romantic or even nicely lusty, leave the reader feeling as if she needs a long shower after surviving an overly-in-depth gynecological exam.

If I had one small complaint about the book it’s that all the “action” seems to happen in the first third of the book and the last two thirds seem to be more about set up for the rest of the series. That being said, one might want to wait for further books to come out before starting the series so as to be able to read the whole thing at once. Or not. I, obviously, was not able to wait. Oh, and as much as I enjoyed this book, I’d still rather have another Miles Vorkosigan novel, but now that he’s married off and has kids, she seems to be done with him. Which has me totally bummed.

In other news, the premiere of “The Dresden Files” – Sci Fi Channel’s take on Jim Butcher’s “Harry Dresden” - series” is scheduled for a January 21, 2007 air date. While I find it hard to believe that anything could possibly live up to how fantastic the books are, I’m still excited to check it out. Hope springs eternal – despite what the bast…er…people at this channel did to “Battlestar Galactica.” Blech! All I can say is if they do the same thing to my beloved Harry, there will not be a hole deep enough for them to hide in. And yeah, I know, BSG is a big critical success and blah, blah, blah. I don’t care. They turned my Starbuck into a CHICK! That is just so frackin’ wrong! Also, if Starbuck were really a chick…he (she?) wouldn’t be so butch and grim and tormented and complicated. Starbuck is very simple: hot, great pilot, sarcastic-playboy-devil-may-care attitude layered over a genuinely heroic core that he tries hard to make sure nobody notices.

Dirk Benedict , where are you when we need you?


P.S. Apollo is a wuss.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

No time to write much...

So here are some pictures:


Everything's up for sale on the site and I've made some other updates there as well. For anyone who placed an order this past week - they're all packaged and ready to go in the mail on Monday, 12/11.

I had hoped to get them out on Saturday, but I got sucked into the giant vortex that is the mall at Christmastime. Left the house at 9:30 AM yesterday. Got home at 8:30 PM...with a migraine and a small, comatose child in tow.

Like I said - packages will mail out tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


Sunday, December 03, 2006

More new items

Ahh...nothing fuels my creativity like the knowledge that USC is out of the national championships and it was my Bruins who told 'em "buh-bye and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

Accordingly, I've got some new pieces to share:

This sweet little dolphin pendant is made out of borosilicate glass that was handcrafted by lampwork artist Jeff Welsh. I've added five strands of coordinating beads and finished off the ends with sterling silver cones and a box clasp set with smoky quartz.

Next is a pair of earrings using hand-painted porcelain beads by artist Kevin Chen. The deep jewel tones on these beads and their incredible surface shine do not come through very well in the scan, but they are stunningly gorgeous in real life.

I did another pair because I like them so much:

The colors in this pair are perfect for the holidays - red, green, black and metallic gold. I added red Swarovski crystals for some extra flash.

All of these items (and more) are up for sale at Silver Parrot Designs

In other news, I finally heard something from AG. Seems he was not blowing me off after all, but just got super busy with work. Hmmm...I dunno. He's definitely moved himself into the "caution" pile if not all the way out the door as far as I'm concerned. I don't have time to play these silly "he's just not that into you" games. I'm still mulling over my response to him so I guess we'll see.

I'm off to an Advent party at church tonight with the kidlet. Free food, carols and crafts so should be fun.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Is your shopping done yet?