Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dinner on the Lake

Friday night we went back down to Tahoe for dinner with Kate, Jim, Kelli and Abby. On the way, we passed this little scene in Carson City. Seems a little late - the budget had already been passed by the legislature, vetoed by the governor, and the veto overridden by the legislature. And I'm not sure what Obama had to do with any of it ...

We got down to South Lake and Kate had picked a spot on the lake for dinner. The view was great, especially when the sun came back out, and we had such a nice time! Kate told some stories about when Chris and Kyle were kids, including a time when they came in the house chanting something along the lines of "We're manly men, we need to eat; We're manly men, we need some meat!" Chris claims no memory of such an event, of course!

Kelli & Me

Chris and Abby, chasing after a raccoon that we'd seen earlier run behind the bar on the patio, and then on the beach and under the patio.

Kelli sips on a Rum Runner, the restaurant's signature drink

Me & Chris needed a picture with the view, naturally

Kelli said her and Abby had such a good time she's going to come home and tell everyone to come and visit me and Chris! (Okay, maybe I made that up ... but come visit anyway.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Yesterday while Kelli and I were lunching, I looked over and noticed a woman at the table next to us had hung her purse from the table using a really pretty silver hook with a pink stone. Kelli asked her where she got it, and apparently her dining companion had bought some at a Web site called HookyLoos. She herself had a blue one, which she pulled out of her purse to show us. I can't tell you how many times I've been out and chairs have had round backs or no backs and I've been afraid to put my purse on the ground. Sometimes, if we're at a bar, I will pull over an extra stool so I can sit my purse next to me. So I thought this was a pretty great little gadget. It looks like the HookyLoos run about $20, and you can Google "purse hooks" if you want to see what else is out there. Apparently, a lot.

Iced Coffee
I've been drinking a lot of iced coffee lately, with the warm weather and all, so I was pretty entertained when I was on How About Orange the other day and there was a link to this Web site that tells you whether it's an iced coffee day or not. You can punch in your zip code and it will tell you YES or NO, try it hot. It told me YES, thank goodness because I'm having some right now! (Want to know my secret for delicious iced coffee? So easy it's not really a secret, but I brew a pot of coffee, add sugar to taste while hot - so it dissolves properly - then I put it in a jar and refrigerate until I'm ready to drink it, at which point I pour it over ice and add a little soy milk to taste. Also, it's more fun if you drink it through a straw.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Today Kelli and Abby flew in to Reno en route to Tahoe where they were meeting Kelli's in-laws/Abby's grandparents for a little vacation at the lake. Lucky for me, they landed right around lunch time, so I picked them up and we went to a delicious lunch at Dish Cafe (I am not kidding about the delicious - my ham sandwich was made with apples and cheddar and served on apple cinnamon swirl bread. See what I mean?) Anyway, it was really great to see them. Abby is getting bigger and so much more chatty and she is just too cute. And Kelli and I had a really nice visit, chatting away the entire 60-mile drive down to Tahoe. I'm pretty sure that was the first time Kelli and I hung out just the two of us (can that be right?) and we had a really good time. (For those of you who might not know, Kelli is married to Kyle, who Chris has been friends with since they were in first grade!) They invited us down for dinner on Friday, and we are looking forward to it!

Abby (and her manatee) is the first person to ever sit in a car seat in Chris' car.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Go ahead, make my day

On Thursday at my weekly softball game, I struggled a little bit at bat. When I finally got on base, the first baseman from the opposing team looked at me and said "I remember you! You're the one who hit 'em over our heads at Idlewild!" We lost the game, but that made me feel pretty good.

Most of the team went out after, to The Wal, decked out in our softball clothes figuring it was Thursday night and graduation was the previous weekend and surely there wouldn't be many people out, right? Wrong. The place was packed with the college kids dressed like college kids do. At least there were a lot of us. I told Erin a story from earlier in the day about how I'd had an I'm-turning-30-this-summer-panic-attack at work, so she turned to another girl on our team and asked her how old she thought I was. "Twenty-three," the girl said. "When I found out you were married, I thought you were too young to be married." She is my new BFF.

But it's hard to feel that young when you look around the bar and notice things are definitely not the same as when you actually were 23. There were two girls dancing with their sunglasses on. Another group of girls danced in a choreographed fashion to a couple songs (maybe they picked it up from the videos - I don't know, I haven't seen a music video since ... maybe since I lived in Yuma? Not counting SNL digital shorts, of course.) And then, the oddest thing of all, the guys in the bar were not afraid to get out on the dancefloor. No prodding needed. Some of them even went out there on their own, when the floor was otherwise bare. Having come from softball, I didn't have my camera with me, but boy do I wish I had some videos to post here for you.
Sandor invited me to join him and some friends for the Aces game on Friday night, seeing as how I enjoy watching a game of baseball and was otherwise on my own with Chris in Vegas for work. (Are you sick of reading about the Aces yet?) We witnessed the first ever rain-delay and the sky was so pretty when the play resumed.

Some people didn't wait out the delay, so Sandor snuck us down into some seats right behind home plate. Highlights: Rusty Ryal changed his batting song to "Kaw-Liga," we saw Brett Butler give a ball to a little kid, and there were fireworks after the game. It was a good time.

The Weekend
Saturday I worked and had a relaxing night at home and watched "Doubt," which I thought was really good and I highly recommend it. (Incidentally, I finally got around to watching "Atonement" last week, which has been on our DVR forever, and I hated it. Did anyone else see it? Was it just me?)
Sunday Chris got home around noon and we ran a bunch of errands, had dinner, played Scrabble. Nothing too surprising there, but it was good to have the day to spend together because Monday I worked 7-3 and Chris started work at 3 so we didn't see each other until after 11. After work I watched "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor and absolutely loved it. I can't believe I never watched it before. Later, I hung out with Erin, Sandor, Na and Derek for a while. Erin decided she wanted to straighten Sandor's hair and this is how that turned out:

This morning I got up and was pretty excited to make some strawberry-blueberry pancakes for breakfast before Chris headed off to work. Just after we finished eating breakfast I got a message on my phone that I didn't get a job I'd interviewed for last week (one I actually was pretty excited about). So far, I've been turned down for two jobs that I've interviewed for since I was laid off, and before this I've never not gotten a job I've interviewed for. It's quite humbling. (Okay, actually, once when I was a teenager I interviewed at Stoney's Country Burgers and didn't get hired ... but let's think of that one as a blessing.) So today I'm spending my time looking at lots and lots of job web sites (why can't there just be one? ugh.) At least I know in three months I'll be in school and working on campus ... but that also makes looking for a job for now a little more tricky.
So, I guess this post was a little bit random, but aren't you glad now to know (almost) every detail of what I've been up to since my last post ;)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Guest Blog: Run for your life

Hello readers! Here is Julia's new guest blog, running tips - as promised!

I went for my first run last week. I was outfitted with my sparkly new shoes ...
... and picked a beautiful day to go out.

I had previously read up on a few "beginning running plans" online and had talked to my former P.E. teacher so I felt plenty prepared to start.
I found that some of the running plans out there pre-suppose that you can go bang out a 1.5 to 3-mile run right out of the gates. To those people I say ... what do you need a running plan for? My first tip: Don't pressure yourself at the start. Go slow. I found that the more I made myself feel I needed to accomplish a certain time goal, or a distance goal, the more pressure I felt and the less I wanted to go. I found a plan online for beginners that will slowly work you up to a full thirty minutes of running without stopping. I have modified the plan for my own use, so feel tree to adjust the times up or down depending on your fitness levels. Because I'm a lawyer, I have to remind you to consult a doctor before starting a running plan so none of you run out, overexert yourselves and then sue me later. I'm just protecting us both, you know? Here's the unmodified plan:
  • Week 1: Walk for six (6) minutes, jog for one (1) minute. Repeat three (3) times. Aim for three (3) times per week.
  • Week 2: Walk for five (5) minutes, jog for two (2) minutes. Repeat three (3) times. Aim for three (3) times per week.

  • Week 3: Walk for three (3) minutes, jog for four (4) minutes. Repeat four (4) times. Aim for four (4) times per week.

  • Week 4: Walk for two (2) minutes, jog for five (5) minutes. Repeat four (4) times. Aim for four (4) times per week.

  • Week 5: Walk for two (2) minutes, jog for eight (8) minutes. Repeat three (3) times. Aim for four (4) times per week.
  • Week 6: Walk for two (2) minutes, jog for nine (9) minutes. Repeat three (3) times. Aim for four (4) times per week.
  • Week 7: Walk for one (1) minute, jog for eleven (11) minutes. Repeat three (3) times. Aim for four (4) times per week.

  • Week 8: Run 1 of week 8: Walk 5 minutes, jog 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Run 2 of week 8: Walk 5 minutes, jog 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Run 3 of week 8: Walk 1 minute, jog 30 minutes. Run 4 of week 8: Walk 1 minute, jog 30 minutes.

While I am still new at this, I have come up with a few tips for those of you who are interested in starting a new running program or just want to try and get out and be a little more active. Here is what I found helpful:

1. If you are running, don't listen to those people who told you to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth - it's an urban myth! I looked this up and, as my lungs suspected, breathing through your nose doesn't give you enough oxygen. Breathe through your mouth.

2. Keep a running log. If you are into list and check marks and stickers, this is the tool for you. I like to see my goal all typed out, so I can ceremoniously mark something off and feel proud about it.

3. Find a visual inspiration, whether it's a picture of yourself in great shape, or a picture of someone whose shape you admire. I took the latter route and picked a few photos of Drew Barrymore. My friend Heather tells me I remind her of Drew Barrymore shape-wise, and since she lost 20 pounds a few years ago, I like to keep pictures of her as inspiration. See her cuteness!

4. Find time to fit it in. I know you are busy, or busy being lazy (like me) and mainly really don't have the energy to exercise (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this silly post about running!) My amazing cousin Daelene has two young girls, a full-time job, a husband, a home and a large extended family to fill her days. I saw her this last weekend and she is training for a triathlon! I asked her how she found the time to go, and the long and the short of it is she just makes the time. To get motivated, she focuses on a competitive goal, instead of just working out for working out sake. Instead of waking up super early (which she hates) or going after work (and cutting into her family time) she pops into the gym at lunch. She works out for about an hour, brings cleansing cloths to clean up, fluffs her hair under a dryer, and goes back to work. She clearly sees the value in focusing on herself and her goals, and makes fitness a priority. Along with Drew, she is my new inspiration!

5. Don't spend all your time preparing to run, researching running and creating logs about your running. Go running! This is really my worst habit: I like to read a lot about the subject, know a lot, do little preparatory things like getting shoes and fill water bottles, and then I run out of steam or interest and just don't do it. If reading your way thin was a possibility, I would be Nicole Richie by now. Obviously you have to go out and actually do the thing you've been preparing for. And that's what I'm going out to do now. Wish me luck!

Would you like to write a guest post? E-mail me and let me know!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Earrings and Cupcakes

Our friend Na has been wanting to have a jewelry night for a few weeks, but the last time I scheduled it, I was asked to work and had to cancel. So last week the rest of us girls decided that, since today is Na's birthday, we would have jewelry night on Wednesday and surprise her for her birthday, too! Of course, no birthday surprise would be complete without cupcakes!
I think Na was really surprised and everyone had a good time learning how to make their own earrings. Success!
Click on the pictures if you want to see them bigger.

Erin, Na and Vickie making their earrings.

Erin, Na and Vickie showing off their creations.

Modeling our new earrings and rewarding our hard work with a cupcake!

* * * * * * *

Want to throw your own jewelry-making party on a tight budget? Hint, it helps if you already own lots of beads and tools! But here are a few other tips ...
  • Ice cube trays - two for $1 at the dollar store - make easy bead holders.
  • Don't have a tablecloth? Use an old sheet and tie it with a ribbon under the table and no one will know! (And even if they do, they probably won't care.)
  • Martha Stewart paper flower decoration kits at Micheal's are $19.99 - yikes! Instead, buy some tissue paper for $1.49 and Google "tissue paper flowers" to make your own for much less.
  • Instead of buying custom beaded cupcake flags, make your own with stuff you already have - a piece of paper, a printer, scissors, a toothpick and double-sided tape. Top with a bead if desired.
  • If you see cake mix at the store on sale for buy two, get three free, stock up for goodness sake!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Miss Independence

Growing up in Quincy, there was one thing I knew for sure: I was going to get the heck out of there the first chance I got. Don't get me wrong, I loved growing up there, loved knowing everyone in town, loved the security of it, loved the beauty of the mountains and lazy afternoons hanging out at the river. But I also knew I had to see what else was out there, and two months after I graduated high school I loaded up my car and headed to Monterey, where I knew just one person, the woman I was going to work for, and had only just met her through a common friend. I always wanted to live near the ocean, had been there once and thought it was pretty, and decided that's where I'd go. It was a bonus that it was half way between my mom's and dad's.

Since then, and until I met Chris, I've pretty much done what I wanted to do. Sure, I was in relationships before I landed in Arizona. But it went something like this: "I'm moving to San Jose to finish school, and you can come or you can stay, but I'm going either way." I didn't bat an eye when I was offered an internship in Washington after graduation, and didn't hesitate to accept a job in Yuma when the internship ended. I was going to pursue my goals, and that was that.

At some point after Chris and I started dating, I realized this is it - he's the one I want to spend my life with. And that's an amazing and wonderful feeling. But with that realization came something else I wasn't used to, the part where I have to consider someone else when I make big decisions. It's not my life anymore, it's our life. And Chris and I talk all the big things through together, make our decisions together. Coming to Reno was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned, even before he put a ring on my finger.

I knew that Chris was the one I wanted to marry and spend my life with long before he proposed. But actually being married is a whole different experience. The trick is making sure being Chris's wife is a part of my identity and not my identity all together. We reached a compromise on my last name - I'd add Gabel but keep Krikorian as a second middle name. I'd continue to use Krikorian for work. Through the process, the inequity of it all struck me. Women have "maiden" names. Men don't. When married, women are traditionally expected to change their names. Men aren't. When we got married, I had to go to Social Security and DMV and file paperwork with all kinds of places (the bank, etc.) to get my named changed. Chris had to do none of it. And then, I'd start being introduced as "This is my niece, she just got married," where before it was, "This is my niece, she's a newspaper reporter." A few months ago I actually had a conversation with a couple who'd also recently been married, who were asking me about Chris's story clips and how cool it was we had a record of his work. I realize this may be petty, but all I could think was - Yes, how cool is it that we both have a record of our work.

Of course I depend on Chris for a lot of things. We are partners for life, so I think he depends on me for those things as well. But since I got laid off, I have to grapple with my inner independent self telling me "I never thought there'd be a time where I was reliant on a man to take care of me." But now he is the one with the steady paycheck. He is the one with the health benefits. When I went to the doctor last month - squeezing in my appointments before my insurance ran out - my doctor (a woman!) said, "It's a good thing you got married," when I told her I'd been laid off. Wow. And now here I am, home for many more hours a day than I'm used to, demanding attention and conversation from Chris the second he walks in the door, instead of letting him first wind down and relax from his day (I'm so not cut out to be a housewife). But I know this is a temporary situation. And the good thing is, I know I am very lucky to be married to my best friend, and comforted to know that I can rely on Chris to take care of me in tough times, and that I would do the same for him.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guest Blog: Marina, on life in D.C.

Hello everyone, here is my sister Marina's guest blog all about living in D.C. Enjoy!

When we moved to Washington, D.C., about a year and a half ago I had no idea what to expect. I had only been here once before, in high school for a leadership conference. On that trip I was shuttled around in a bus from monument to monument, event to event, and had a very limited conception of what the city was actually like. After we moved back from Beirut and Miguel came to visit a friend here for a couple weeks and had a great time, and a former roommate of ours offered to let us move in to his family's townhouse in a sub-suburb, we decided that it sounded ideal - cheap rent, tons of jobs related to the Middle East, an exciting new move!

Once we arrived - in the dead of winter - we realized that maybe our new move was not as exciting as we had told ourselves. Still adjusting to being in the U.S. after 2 amazing years away we found ourselves isolated in D.C. with no jobs, a less than ideal home life, and very few friends or acquaintances. As we began to settle in we found D.C. to be cold, not just the frigid temperatures, but the people. I guess we should have expected that one of the world's biggest seats of power would draw certain types of people - hyper-competitive, judgemental, networking, calculating. It seemed like everywhere we went out and met new people the first question out of every one's mouth was "what do you do?" And if our answers were not satisfactory, which they never were (Miguel - "I work at Kramer Books." Marina "I work at a small human rights non-profit.") the person talking would immediately turn their attention somewhere else. For two people who had always taken pride in the fact that we made friends with diverse groups of people and were able bridge a lot of gaps, this was especially harsh. We would share our frustrations with other people and the response was always the same - you just need to find a good group of friends and you'll like it here. Wah? That just means you like your friends, not that you like this city.

Usually when I move to a new place spring time is when it all turns around - the sun comes out, and I start to feel at home and comfortable with my surroundings. I remember the exact moment I had this feeling in Berkeley, and then in Beirut, but that first spring here it never happened. Part of me blames it on the fact that we live far away, or that we don't really like our jobs, or that we never have enough money. But I still have the sense that if all of those things were remedied there would still be something missing, something about the culture here that we just don't connect to. You rarely meet people from here, and when you do they are often bitter about the way people move into D.C. and use it for their own purposes and move away. You rarely see neighborhoods where people have been there for generations or old people sitting outside. And you rarely see acts of compassion between two people (I saw my first genuine act of kindness on the metro the other day when a younger man helped an older man with a cane up the stairs with his bag, not a good statistic after a year of riding the train).

But although we dream of moving away, and have started to put out some feelers in other places, we are slowly beginning to feel at least that we live here and are making the best of it. We have some good friends, and more that come into town for visits; we are becoming more familiar with neighborhoods and restaurants and bars that we like; we are enjoying spring by going for more walks and bike rides. And the other day I came close to having that moment of happiness about where I live when I went down to the National Mall to play softball and realized our field was directly in front of the Washington Monument with the White House in the immediate distance. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to look on these sights whenever I want and decided right then to be more appreciative of the unique things this city does have to offer. For the remainder of our time here, however long it is, I will try to hold onto that lesson.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A day in the life

Gabels in the morning
Gabels in the evening

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Disaster

Somehow, I managed to marry a man who doesn't care much for chocolate. There are a few chocolatey treats he does enjoy, like brownies and these chocolate covered cherry cookies his mom always makes for Christmas and Valentine's Day. Since he's the one bringing home all the dough these days, I thought I'd surprise him one day this week and have some waiting when he got home from work. I'm not going to lie, I've always been pretty good at making cookies. How hard could these be, I figured?

If you've ever had Rita's cookies, you know they look nothing like this.

Right away when they came out of the oven, though, I knew something was wrong. For one, they were way too big. For two, the color didn't look the same, and to make matters worse, the chocolate sauce that goes on top the cherry had oozed down to the pan and sort of burned. The cookies stuck to the cookie sheet - and I've never had cookies stick to the cookie sheet. Oh, well, maybe they'll taste the same, I thought. But, no, they don't. Except I thought they didn't taste chocolatey enough, but Chris said they taste too chocolatey. Huh? It's not that they're so bad they're inedible, but they're definitley different. The other night when Chris was in the kitchen and I asked him to bring me one, he said "I'll bring you as many as you want. I don't think I'm having any more of them." Oh, my husband, never one to mince his words.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have you met my sister?

Her name is Marina, but I call her Mena. She's about 20 months younger than me and ever since March of 1981, she's been my BFF (not counting that 2-3 years somewhere around junior high where we preferred punching each other after school instead of being friends).
When she was really little she had a super short haircut that made her look like a monkey. She's wicked smart and when she was in high school her Quiz Bowl team went to nationals (true story).
Nobody in the world can make me laugh like she can. Once, we were at a genocide symposium and hadn't seen each other in a few weeks and fell into hysterics over something really silly - I can't remember what it was, but I think it had something to do with chairs - and anyway, we were laughing so hard we were crying but trying so hard to not be loud so nobody would realize how completely inappropriate we were being, but all we had to do was catch the other's eye and burst back into laughter again.
If you ask her a question about the Middle East, she could practically recite a textbook for you (or two or ten) - and the answer would probably be over your head. Because of her smartness and activism and her taking to the saxophone when she was in band and then subsequently becoming a vegetarian (which she's not anymore) she was often compared (by me) to Lisa Simpson. Also when she was in college she took a hip hop class and had to freestyle in front of everyone (did I even use the right terminology there?)
Even though I'm the big sister, she's really good at taking care of me. She lives in Washington D.C., which is much closer than Beirut but I still miss her all the time. But luckily for all of us, she is going to be our next guest blogger here at Gabel and Gabel! I know you all have been holding your breath ... but don't worry, just three more days!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prayers please

At first I was a little hesitant to post this blog because of the random connections I have to the people involved, but then I thought they could use all the prayers they can get, so here you go ...

A couple of weeks ago, my cousin Jennifer's brother-in-law Daniel (husband of her step-sister Cathy) suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm. He has had surgery and remains in the hospital in critical condition. I have met Daniel and Cathy on more than one occasion. They have been together since they were teenagers and have three beautiful children. They are wonderful parents, and just last month when I was in L.A. Jennifer was telling me she hopes to emulate them as a parent herself. His family has created a blog, which you can see here.

As fate would have it, my older sister Janeen's long-term boyfriend Mauro suffered something very similar last week. He collapsed Tuesday night because of a brain aneurysm, has also had surgery and remains in the hospital in critical condition. In the limited time I have spent with Mauro I have known him to be very kind and generous.

Janeen, Mauro, and our cousin Sara

I ask you please to keep them both in your prayers, as well as their loved ones. I can't imagine what it must be like for Cathy and Janeen to be going through this. And I think this serves as a reminder to cherish each and every day you have with those you love.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Take me out to the ballgame

Since I didn't have much going on yesterday and Chris was working at the Aces game, (and since a certain player from San Jose State was playing for the opposing team) I decided I'd go to the game, too. My friend Na said she'd come along, and I ran into some friends from the paper as well. It was a really nice day, and tons of people were there. For mother's day, the players wore pink jerseys in support of breast cancer awareness. The Aces came back from a 6-run deficit to force the game into extra innings, but gave up a grand slam in the 10th and lost. I believe Chris called it "the mother of disappointments." But it was still a fun day.

This huge "baseball" sings at every seventh-inning stretch. We all just assumed it was mechanical, but (hot scoop!) Chris found out there are people inside moving the mouth. (You heard it here first, folks, this hasn't even been reported in the RGJ yet ;)

Can you spot my husband in the press box?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Guest Blog: Introducing Julia

Hello dear readers, here is our first guest blog post as promised, written by our friend Julia. We had some technical issues here at HQ and so if there are any editing errors, we promise it is all our fault and not hers.
Hi everyone, my name is Julia and just to set the record straight, I am no longer wearing the 1980s shell-pink Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.

Don't try to act like those glasses weren't awesome at the time - I was so on top of my fashion people!

Anyways, recently I was having this deep philosophical conversation with my friend Laura about our collective feelings of self-dissatisfaction. Despite our otherwise happy homes (jobs we like, supportive families, two fantastic husbands, one great cat) we were both feeling kind of blah and disorganized. Laura was lamenting how much she hates putting away the laundry; I admitted I could barely recall the last time I had a haircut. Despite sporadic attempts at fitness, neither one of us has yet to achieve a "nautalis body" (although Laura is far further along on this goal, having run two half-marathons).

Further, neither one of us has whipped up a fantastic dinner party since back when Britney Spears was still a virgin (or so she claimed). We are smart girls - and avid women's magazine readers! - and are therefore well aware of exactly what we should be doing to be healthy, organized, confident girls-about-town. We read the articles: "Declutter your life!" "10 steps to easy weight loss" "Make it yourself ... for less" "Put yourself back on your to-do list." We know we should take our vitamins, wear sunscreen, eat walnuts (the omega-3s!) wash the dishes before bed, exercise three times a week, bake cakes (the cake I should be making) host cocktail parties and take the aforementioned fantastic husbands out on creative (and sexy) date nights at least once a week.

So why, we wondered, do we routinely find ourselves coming home exhausted, eating cereal, glancing sideways at our mounting piles of laundry and our scraggly hair and crashing in front of the TV? Neither one of us has kids, so why weren't we spending our child-free years pouring time and attention into ourselves? Here we are, young, minxy and carefree and we're blowing it! Why?

While I could delve into all the many layers of biology and social programming and Family Circle cartoons that might answer this questions for us, I have decided that, for me, the reason is sheer laziness. In January, Oprah admitted at length all the ways in which she had failed to put herself on her own to-do list.

I realize that I have done the same. In the last year and a half, I have done a lot of things: I took the California bar exam, got married, moved and started my own business. While this may be all in a days work for some of you (I'm looking at you, Martha Stewart!), this was a lot for me. I think somewhere in the mix, I lost my focus - I almost totally forgot that I like to have my toes painted! When I saw Tammy last week, I was telling her how I needed to get it together. I suggested that she have me do a guest-post on her blog as motivation for me to do something that was creative and productive. And so now, here I am - freshly motivated out of my fear of public failure. So, in my little guest posts, I am going to venture to do all those things that Oprah and Real Simple remind me I should be doing. To make my closet look more like this:

and less like this:
(While I don't exactly have a pig in my closet, I have often lost my cat in there)

To dress up like this:

(I could use a little more Grace in my life)

And throw parties that look like this:

Instead of settling for this:

Next post, I will focus on fitness. I will give you my tips on how to start running when you a) hate running, b) are out of shape, and c) ran a blistering 12.5-minute mile in high school! Luckily I live right next to my high school P.E. teacher,who is full of hot running tips! (Editor's note: for my QHS readers, Julia lives next to Mr. Powell, not Mrs. Bissell, in case you were wondering.) Stay tuned ...

Check back next weekend for our next guest blogger, my sister Marina! And don't forget to let us know if you'd like to try your hand at it, too!

With Love

For my moms and sisters, cousins and friends, grandmothers and aunts, and all the women in my life, I thank you all for making me the person I am ...

And wish you all a very Happy Mother's Day

With a special shout out to the new moms this year,
Jen (with Juliette) and Michelle (with Olivia)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Note to self ...

Next time you're headed out to shoot the mud pit of a fun run, consider there may be splashing before wearing white shorts:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Underemployment, Part 2

I have actually been very proud of myself for the fact that since I got laid off I have not had an afternoon nap once. Since I got back from L.A. I have not turned the television on during the day. (Okay, the day after I got back I did turn the TV on around 4:30 p.m. and flipped back and forth from Oprah to Ellen ... but I have not done it again since.) I think I'm actually watching less TV overall, and I fell good about that. When I was working full time I would come home and turn the TV on right away, if for no other reason than to have some background noise - especially if Chris wasn't home. I've been spending more time on (inexpensive) craft projects than normal. But I'm also wasting a lot of time on the Internet. Things I should be doing a better job of since I have more free time include ...
  • Going to the gym
  • Staying on top of the laundry and dishes
  • Cooking new recipes for dinner

I'm hoping since I've now put that into writing, I will motivate myself to improve my habits next week. I also was hoping to do some new things ... but the part that sucks is that I have lots of extra time, but much less money. I was pretty excited about signing up for a beginning sewing class, until I realized the four sessions cost $125!?! I looked at cooking classes ... most are $75-$95 for a one-time shot. Although the recessionista cooking class next weekend is just $35, I still can't decide whether I'm up for spending that kind of money - $35 really just feels like a lot right now - especially if you think of it as food or gas. That's also how much it costs to become a member of the Nevada Museum of Art - a requirement if you want to volunteer there. So I guess I have to really think about what it is I want to focus my energy on, and what is worth investing my time and money on.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Last week, I saw an ad for a certain retail outlet that's opening at the Legends in Sparks. The ad said their recruitment office had opened at a hotel in Sparks and you could apply in person or online. I figured in person was best, and headed down one afternoon to find nobody there. The woman at the front desk assumed they went to lunch and would be back soon if I wanted to wait. So I did. For an hour. Just as I was ready to give up, they showed up, only to tell me that they were just setting up, but I could apply online and they'd set me up for an interview this week. So I set up the interview, and came home to fill out the application. They wanted to know everywhere I've worked in the last 10 years. They asked for my social security number in three separate places. They required a math test and ethics test. It took over an hour to apply, and all this, I learned at my interview on Monday, was for a position that would pay me half the hourly rate I am accustomed to. If I get the offer, I am allowed (per the rules of unemployment) to turn it down if it doesn't pay me at a certain level. But I'm not even sure I will get the offer. At the interview, I was asked questions I hadn't considered previously, and wasn't sure I'd wowed anyone.
Photo of today's Legends job fair from

Today, I went to a Legends job fair where this store and many others opening next month had booths. On the advice of our business reporter, I waited until the afternoon to go (it started at 11 a.m.) and, though I had to wait in line about 30 minutes, it was a much shorter wait than when the thing got started. I wondered what some people were thinking, wearing jeans or hats or T-shirts or sneakers or all of the above. One woman wore a spaghetti-strapped polka-dotted dress with her lacy green bra exposed. Yikes. But even as I judged these folks for their appearance, I discovered I was under-prepared. The hirers were asking for resumes and I had none. (Actually that's not true, I had some with me but they are all journalism and totally inappropriate in this instance.) I applied at two places, each of which said they'd be going through the applications and calling people in the next couple weeks. They didn't ask me any questions (even though now I was prepared answer!) and a third booth I went to asked me to - you guessed it - apply online and take an ethics test and, if I passed, I might get called for an interview. The companies represented have about 700 total positions to fill. When I left at 3:30 p.m. I asked the woman with the counter at the door what she was up to. She answered 3,500. And the fair goes until 7 tonight. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Meet Molly

Last weekend, Rita (Chris' mom) got an early Mother's Day surprise from Brad (dad) and Alison (sister). Her name is Molly, and isn't she precious? We hope we'll get to meet her soon!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Be Our Guest

When I was somewhere around 6-years-old I met a girl named Julia. I don't even know if she remembers this, but I was camping with my mom and stepdad and sister, and she was camping with her parents, and that was the first time we met. Even though we both lived in Quincy, we went to different elementary schools (yes, people, there are two - and that's not even counting the Christian school) so we didn't really become friends until the seventh grade.

The coolest seventh-grade girls at Quincy Jr./Sr. High School circa 1991 (I don't know what's more rad, my leggings or Julia's glasses)

Julia and her parents went to Europe that year and she got to take her BFF Sorrell and I was soooooo jealous of these two traipsing around Italy while I was stuck in Mr. Harlan's Spanish class.

Julia and I really got to be good friends a couple years later when we were in Consumer Life Skills together (think HomeEc with a PC name). We planned our weddings and carried around egg babies and cooked a few dishes and mooned over the older boys.

Julia (also sometimes known as J.J.) is one of the few friends I remained in touch with after high school. On Christmas breaks, we'd take turns making each other egg nog from scratch. When I had an internship in north-central Washington after college and she was in Seattle for law school, she let me come visit for the weekend as many times as I wanted, showing me the sights and teaching me how to make latkes (which I actually made a few months later as a Hanukkah treat for the sports boys of The Yuma Sun because one of them was Jewish and all of them lived in my apartment complex and appreciated free food.)

When Chris and I decided to move to Reno, I was excited for many reasons, one of them knowing we'd get to see Julia and her now-husband Bob more often, because they'd recently moved back to Quincy. Last year, I was headed to Quincy for a quick trip for Julia's wedding shower. I really wanted to be there, but (really, ridiculously long story short) I ended up losing control of the car on a snowy road, getting stuck and having to be towed into town. The snow never let up so I couldn't go home. The next morning, I stopped by to give Julia her gift, and she served up some tea and cookies. She is just such a great hostess. If you spend the night at her house, she stocks the guest room with great magazines and makes champagne cocktails to sip on while you chat. She is just a great friend and a great person and by now you may be wondering why I'm going on and on here ... and there is good reason.

Coming this weekend, Julia will be the very first guest blogger here at Gabel and Gabel. We at HQ are very excited about this new little venture and hope you are, too! Stay tuned ... and let us know if you're interested in posting a guest blog, too!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dumb luck

Photo: Associated Press

On Friday I was looking over the entries for the Kentucky Derby and picked four I liked. Two were somewhat longshots and two were more heavily favored. I asked Chris if $20 was too much for me to spend on my bets, and he wondered why I had to spend more than $8 for four horses (seeing how $2 is the minimum bet.) I told him don't worry about it, and went ahead with my plan. I put $4 to win on Mine That Bird, $4 to win on Chocolate Candy, $2 across the board on I Want Revenge and $2 across the board on Pioneerof the Nile. The guy at the sports book taking my bets was new and had some trouble entering them (also "across the board" had to be explained - FYI, it's $2 to win, $2 to place, $2 to show) but eventually I got all my tickets for the correct race. I walked outside wondering if this was a good sign or a bad sign. By the time I got to my car I was just hoping to break even, knowing we aren't really in a position to be squandering away money right now. I woke up on Saturday to learn that the favorite, I Want Revenge, had scratched. Phew ... at least I would get back $6. The race started, and the only one of my horses I saw near the front was Pioneerof the Nile. Then all of a sudden, it seemed out of nowhere, came the 8 horse - Mine That Bird burst out in front and there was no turning back. By now I'm screaming at the TV, clapping and wondering if the neighbors are starting to think I'm cuckoo for cocoa puffs. He won by 6 3/4 lengths! He was 50-1! My $4 bet was going to pay $206! Pioneerof the Nile came in second, so I won a little there, too. I walked out of the Sports Book with $227.20 in my pocket. People keep asking how I picked him, and I really don't know - just dumb luck I guess. And all of a sudden, Chris was singing a different tune. "Imagine if you put $20 on him to win then we'd have a thousand dollars!" Yep - coulda, woulda, shoulda.

The winning tickets

I took the winnings straight to the bank and put a good chunk in our savings account. Then, I took my husband on a date to see a movie, out to dinner and for dessert (because it's not really a date with out dessert). Then, I took what was left and hit Target after work today for a new blazer to wear for applying and interviewing for jobs (how practical!) and splurged on some velcro rollers for my hair to see if they can give it some life. But I kind of like it like this, perhaps I'll leave them in when I go out tomorrow ;)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Lovely Day

This week started out with its ups and downs. There was having evenings free with Chris Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday ... Great. Then there was waiting on hold with unemployment for an hour to be asked silly questions and told I'd still have to talk to someone else on Friday ... Annoying. There was having a couple days of work at the paper ... Good. There was getting the run around in applying for a part-time retail job ... Very Frustrating. So I decided I would take a break from the roller coaster of being underemployed in exchange for the roller coaster ride of Highway 70 and hit the road on Thursday for a visit to Quincy.

It was so great to spend a few hours just hanging out, relaxing and catching up with my Mom. I checked out the house that her and John are building and they've made so much progress. It's looking nice and when they are done, what a great feeling it will be to know they did it all themselves! My dear friend Julia treated me to lunch in town, and there is just never enough time to visit with her - I feel like we could have kept on chatting for hours if she didn't have important lawyering business to get back to. But before she left for her meeting, she did get us a slice of chocolate cake to share and it was divine. Sometimes, it's just really nice to be home and forget about your troubles.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Confessions of a cyber stalker

I have a confession: Sometimes when I'm enjoying a blog, I start looking at the blogs that person reads. (I know at least a couple of you can relate to this.) Sometimes I'm just bored, other times I'm looking for inspiration. But sometimes, it spirals out of control. I look at that person's reading list, then the next and the next ... and the next thing you know I can't tear myself away from reading the Pioneer Woman's great love story and I can't even remember how I ended up on her site in the first place. (Even if you don't read her love story, just take a glance at her site. She takes some really gorgeous photos.)

photo from Pioneer Woman

On just such a blogging roller coaster ride the other day, I happened on this Design Mom blog, written by a mom of five (five!!) who is moving from NYC to Colorado (like, right now.) Before they left, they had these beautiful family portaits taken in Central Park. Hopefully it's not too creepy that I'm posting one here - I just thought it was such a great idea to have family portraits taken in a place that means something to you in your hometown that I wanted to share. I'm sure they will especially treasure having them once they are far, far away.

photo from Design Mom

Since we aren't running out to get family portaits taken any time soon, here is one fun idea I spotted on the fabulous Jaimee Rose's blog this week (which she found on Martha Stewart) that looks super simple and I'm determined to make the next time my girlfriends come over.

photo from Martha Stewart via Jaimee Rose