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March 2006
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May 2006

Pet Peeves

Yes, we all have them, don't we?  I'm in the midst of one of mine right now, and it's annoying me.  A lot. 

People who set up appointments to come to your home and fix something and then don't follow through as promised.  Yes, it's annoying how many times I've had to deal with this in the 3 month's I've lived here.  Do most people have this many problems with a brand new home with all new appliances, etc?  I don't know.  I seem to have at least my fair share.  It's all good, I can work with it.  Why is it, though, that every single time I've had any kind of request for service, the person who was going to fix my problem didn't follow through?  ARGH!!!  My air conditioning, this time.  Those who dropped by for conference on Sunday morning can attest to the fact that when I turn on my AC, it gets cold.  Very cold.  Why?  Because the auto function doesn't work.  So I called my warrantee service people and they got a contractor who called and set an appointment for between 7 and 9am this morning.  So, I was up at 7 and ready to meet him.  Of course, that means that unless I wanted to get up at 5 and drive my neighbors insane with a treadmill at that hour of the morning, I had to wait until after he came and left to exercise and get ready.  It's now 9:14 am.  Not a sign of him.  That irks me greatly.  So, I call them.  Um... yeah, you were supposed to be here this morning?  Um... what time is it?  It's 9:15.  Okay, well, we're going to be there today.  WHAT?!?  So I ask... do you happen to know when you might be stopping by?  Well, how long can you stay there?  Oy.  So he now says they'll be here at 11.  Uh huh.  Okay.  Well, off to get ready before (if) they show up, I guess.  Sigh.

End rant.

I'm Not Alone!

Okay, so I log on at work this morning and the first thing I see on the AOL Welcome Screen is a link to an article in the Money section about... grocery stores.  Specifically, can you guess?  Yes.  Wegmans.  Allow me to quote a bit...

"The latest shuffle of the American lifestyle menu has produced a new weekend diversion: trekking to "destination supermarkets," or grocery Disneylands, where, yes, tons of food is sold, but there is sooooo much more.
"It used to be that Americans went down the street to the Safeway every few days to pick up groceries.

"Now many might drive for miles or even hours to buy two weeks' worth at Wegmans, a family-owned chain of 71 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, whose devotees are famous for their fervor.
"More shoppers are turning away from conventional grocery stores in search of a different shopping experience, such as the three-ring circus of activities they might find at a typical Wegmans."
I could quote more, but I think I might be the only one actually interested.  Honestly, the entire article fascinated me.  I was reading about them in Fortune one time and it was talking about the fierce loyalty that they engender in their customers.  And I sat there thinking... that's right.  You GO Wegman's!  Then I stopped and I was like, oh.  Yeah.  Fierce loyalty.  LOL. 
I think part of the reason I admire them so much is from a sheer marketing perspective.  I'm a marketer - it's what I do.  I'm pretty good at it too.  But these people blow me away.  Anyone who can turn a grocery store into a place that people want to go deserves a marketer of the decade award or something.
So... as I sat there pondering this article, I started thinking... cherry tomatos, walnuts, hummus, avocados... lol.  I might have to make a wee pit stop on my way home.  If only they weren't directly across the street from my office... then I might be okay.  And I *do* need a few things.  Oh well.  Everyone has their makafeke, right?  hehe (that one's for Steph and Boo ;)

It's Up!

Okay, I mentioned it a few times before, but the project that has been consuming my thoughts and spare time for a few weeks is finally getting off the ground.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  Of course, I just barely started on Saturday, but me and my scrapbooking grass roots campaign should be off and running in no time.  LOL. 

So, without further ado, hereSbmeblogbar1's my new baby... Scrapbooking Made Easy.  I've got posters, bag-stuffers and little business cards with the website over at the store.  (And may I just say, 3 years of total immersion in direct response marketing shows.  A lot.  LOL).  I've got the store owners posting articles about it in the newsletter and on the official store website (Scrapbooks Plus).  Needless to say, we're all very excited about it.  This could be big.  Or it could flop like a fish out of water.  Right now, as my friend Heather's trusty 8-Ball would say, the future is not yet clear.  (Okay, in a moment of silliness, I ran over to Heather's desk to consult the 8 ball.  It told me to "forget it."  I shook it again.  It said "Looking Good."  I set it down - no sense asking again, right?  ;)

In other scrapbooking related news... my art journal has been on hiatus while I frantically work on my new class program.  I'll get back to it, it's too much fun to completely abandon.  Also, today was the opening of registration for the Great American Scrapbook Convention (GASC) which comes to Chantilly every June.  I'm signed up for a few classes by Epson to learn how to do some cool digital stuff in Photoshop.  I'm taking a few other classes by SEI and one from Stamp Antonio - a new vendor that I haven't heard of, but it looks fun and artsy.  I was sufficiently intrigued to sign up for an 8am class on a Saturday.  Anyway, that officially fills my scrapbook convention/class quota for the year... lol.  I'm really psyched about the Epson classes, though.  Photoshop is just too cool, and new tricks are always a bonus.

Wegman's Is Evil, Part Deux

You know, they tell you that you should never go to the grocery store hungry because you'll buy all kinds of stuff you don't need.  Words of wisdom, to be sure.  What they don't say, is that you should never go to Wegman's while hungry because it will suck your will... your soul... all of it!!!  So, I'm thinking... I have a list (again) - bread, bananas, the usual.  The platter that matches the plates and bowls I succumbed to last time doesn't succeed in its taunting.  I had a proud moment.  However, in order to get to the regular bread (where you also pick up a baguette because they're fresh and delicious), you have to walk by the gourmet cookie counter where they just *happen* to have deposited a tray of freshly baked chocolate rugulah.  Evil.  THEN... as you congratulate yourself for getting just one piece, you happen to come across the gourmet cheese counter on your way to get said bread.  I mean, you've got the baguette in the basket, right?  It could use some good cheese.  As I gaze into that wonderous display of dairy delight, I see pure evil incarnate.  The gorgonzola torte.  Gorgonzola, wrapped in mascarpone and honey and studded with caschews and cranberries.  I get a small slice.  I can treat myself, right?  Still feeling that I'm not too far outside the bounds of my list, I head for the cereal aisle.  Cereal is my weekend guilty pleasure.  I sleep in a bit, then get up and grab a big bowl of cereal and go back to bed with a book.  I've become a huge fan of French Toast Crunch (Cinnamon Toast Crunch has a family now, you know).  So I see it on the shelf and as I reach for the box, I happen to glance to the left.  Pb_toast_crunch

That's just plain mean.

So, I've said it once and I'll say it again.  Wegman's is EVIL!!!

The Journal is Back!

But first... following up on my post yesterday, I went looking for travel guides for Costa Rica.  I wanted Rick Steves.  He's the best!  I never go to Europe without at least one of his books. Sadly, however, as I discovered on said search, Rick is exclusive to Europe.  Which is okay, I guess.  Stick with what you know, right?  So I got a DK guide instead.  My second favorite.  They make up for the lack of witty reparté and hand-drawn maps with cool factoids and full color pages.  Anyway, in answer to Tara's question... we're flying into Liberia - staying at the beach (I believe it's Guanacaste), but we're also really close to the rainforest, an active volcano and all kinds of fun stuff!

And now for something completely different...

I'm still working on my little art journal.  I'm very annoyed with one of these pages because the title is obviously not straight, and the green ended up a little glaring.  However, part of the point of an art journal is supposed to be letting go, (aka, not being anal about stuff like that) and all that jazz.  So here are the next three.  I keep falling behind, but it's my journal, I guess... I'll do it when I want to.  So there.

21day_journal_8 21day_journal_9


Monday Musings

As I said to someone in the elevator a few weeks ago, the fact that it's Monday means it will be 7 more days until Monday comes again.  Silver lining, people.

So yesterday, my mom gave me a page clipped from the Washington Post Magazine.  We used to be big fans of Dave Berry's column there before he retired, but he was, fortunately, replaced by another enjoyably sarcastic wit.  One Joel Achenbach.  I was highly entertained by his subject choice.  "Cry Me a River."  I think the best part of the whole thing was the cartoon... "When the pity party ran out of dip."  However, I highly recommend reading that entry just so you can learn about self-pity congestion, pity theft, and the Black Hole.  It's a trip!

Second... I got my schedule this morning for the convention in Paris... so excited!  I got all of my first choice classes.  I get to take both of Rhonna's classes, so I'm psyched about that.  I also get to take two from Donna Downey and another from Elsie Flannigan.  And speaking of, since there are apparently (a few) people who are enjoying my art journal postings... lol... I'll continue to update.  I'm still working on it!

Fullbeachmeliaplayaconchal Y finalmente... tengo que practicar mi español porque lo hablaró mucho quando voy a Costa Rica el próximo mes!  Tengo los datos ahora!  el 17 mayo durante el 25 mayo.  Y pues, voy a ver si Rick Steves escribió un libro sobre viajes en Costa rica.  De ser posible, quiero subir un volcán y visitar la selva tropical. Y por supuesto, pasaré mucho tiempo en la playa donde esta la nuestra casa.  Estoy muy contento y excitado.  :D (My apologies to those who *actually* speak Spanish.  LOL.  It's been a few years for me ;)

Friday, at Last!

Wow, this has been a week!  My boss was just asking me in our 1:1 how I'm doing at work... she was like, I can tell that you've really been stressed this week.  LOL.  What gave me away?  The constant sighing, sounds of frustration and non-stop typing from across the cubicle wall?  lol, or the 9-hour marathon reporting session on Tuesday.  Oi.  That was a bad one.  Either way, I got my new laptop with VPN, so she's letting me take next Friday as a "work from home" / personal day.  If she weren't so nice and easy to work with, I swear I would have run screaming from my office a month ago!  It's just getting busier every day, but fortunately, they're at least recognizing all the work.  The president of our business unit even gave us big quarterly recognition awards at the all-hands meeting last week! 

So... anyway... last night was a nice rela21day_journal_7xation night.  Went home, had a nice dinner while watching a little hockey, then just relaxed with some evening yoga, quiet music, a little work in my art journal, and a hot bubble bath and a book.  A 15-minute bedtime yoga session and then to bed early.  So nice.  Anyway, I finished day 7 in my journal...  just a quickie, but I reallly liked this quote.  So true!

Finally, I had a chance to start on the new website I'm building for the Scrapbooking Made Easy classes I'm putting together for Scrapbooks Plus.  It's starting to look great!  I'm very excited about the possibilities, I only hope that I can make it work in reality the same way I'm visualizing it - it will be a good test of my marketing skills *outside* the office.  Anyway, the big reveal should come soon... watch for it :)  And, to any and all friends who scrapbook, I'm going to be expecting participation ;) ;). 

Happy Friday!


Just throwing up my 21-day Challenge - day 6 page, while attempting to watch the Avs / Sharks game from around the corner... lol.  Another typical night at my house :D

21day_journal_6 That is all.  Returning to my regularly scheduled hockey viewing ;)

Wegman's is Evil.

Okay, before I break into the meat of my insomniac post,21day_journal_5 I'm still working on Rhonna's 21-day challenge.  I'm actually doing really well!  I'm so excited.  Despite the fact that I'm behind on the art portion of it, having this journal to work on really helps to remind me and keep me honest.  I love it.  Here's day 5 (and I LOVE it - just finished it... I found the Souza quote on a card at Wegman's tonight, as a matter of fact, although that has nothing to do with why Wegman's is evil.  Read on.)

Now, for the "Wegman's is Evil" part of my post.  See, I've been staying away for a few weeks.  Wegman's is one of those stores that sucks me in.  I don't know why.  It's just a grocery store (yeah.  kind of like lions are just big cats).  Maybe it's all of the eye-candy French pastries (which I've never tried... I do have *some* self-restraint... lol).  Maybe it's their excellent produce... maybe it's the flowers (okay, I love their flowers... and the produce.  Let's be fair.)  So, going in, what do they have?  A huge display of flower pots, among which I found the *perfect* pot for the orchid that's on my mantle.  I managed to bypass the Easter lilies, and was doing pretty well at keeping mostly to my list.  Of course, then I made the mistake of going down that center aisle.  You know the one.  The aisle where they put all of their cool, special seasonal items.  I found love in the center aisle tonight, people.P4030002

You see what I mean?  I mean, HOW am I supposed to RESIST that?  It doesn't even match my kitchen (except that I justified it by saying I can tie in the blue, but still...).  And... they were on sale.  That's like the death strike right there.  The matching platter and mugs are still sitting happily on their shelves, waiting to taunt me the next time I venture into the store.  In any case, I decided that this is a very opportune time to present a haiku I wrote about Wegman's a little while ago.

Wegman's Haiku - by Gwen

Ode to my Wegman's,

A crazy-cool place to shop.

You're evil. Don't stop.

Okay, I think that means that it's DEFINITELY well past time for me to go to bed.  Haiku about a grocery store on my blog.  Sigh.

It's Tuesday.

(Picture me saying that like Wayne in "Wayne's World."  "Hi.  We're in Deleware."  lol).  I think the one thing that Tuesday has going for it, is that it isn't Monday.  Otherwise, it's really not a great day in general.  LOL.  Especially at work.  Tuesday is my busy day - it's reporting day.  I live in a number-pulling, excel-spreadsheet-updating, analytical haze the entire day.  Of course, for some perverse reason, I kind of enjoy it.  Maybe it's because it keeps me busy and makes me feel productive, thus making the day pass more quickly which brings us to Wednesday.  Hump day.  The downhill slide into the weekend.  Well, enough of that.

Yesterday was my dad's birthday.  We had a famiDad_blowing_out_candlesly dinner and opened presents, but the movie we wanted to see (the new Antonio Banderas) doesn't open until Friday, so we had to postpone until the weekend.  Here's my dad blowing out his candles.  Note the resemblance to Burl Ives.  Hehe.  We got him some very nice spring shirts and ties, which he glared at disdainfully upon opening the packages.  He refused to unpin or try them on, since that would just make returning them that much more difficult.  LOL.  I guess spring green and pink don't work for him. I liked them - the ties were very cool.  Oh well, at least I can say that my mom picked them out and not me.  I probably would have bought him another Rachel Ray cookbook or a new knife or something.  Oh, he did like the new Carrie Underwood cd that my brother and his wife "gave" him... lol.  Dad opened the card from them and looked at Nicole and was like, what.. did you sign his name with your left hand so it would look like his handwriting?  She busts up laughing.  Yes.  She did.  Ha!  (It really looked like Rick's handwriting, too!)

Last night... my Avs pulled one out in the last minute, literally, against Chicago.  They tied the game with a minute to go, and just as I was thinking OT was coming, Danny Hinote gets off a wrister, (impossible angle, practically from the goal line!), that fooled Khabibulin totally and slid past the cross-bar for the game winner, with like 12 seconds left.  Dang, that was a sweet shot.  Good game.  2 points out of first in the Northwest now.  Go Avs!

Finally, just saw this cool personality test on one of my message boards.  You just click on the picture that appeals to you most:  Personality Test.  I'm:

Romantic     Dreamy   Emotional   
You are a very sensitive person. You refuse to view things only from a sober, rational standpoint. What your feelings tell you is just as important to you. In fact, you feel it is important to have dreams in life, too.

You reject people who scorn romanticism and are guided only by rationality. You refuse to let anything confine the rich variety of your moods and emotions

Guess which picture I clicked on... lol.  Pretty accurate for a one-click test!

Au Natural

Found the link to this little quiz on Steph and Boo's blog.  I'm also Au Natural, apparently, although I'm not sure I see it... lol.  Oh well, it's all just in fun anyway :D

Your Seduction Style: Au Natural
You rank up there with your seduction skills, though you might not know it.
That's because you're a natural at seduction. You don't realize your power!
The root of your natural seduction power: your innocence and optimism.

You're the type of person who happily plays around and creates a unique little world.
Little do you know that your personal paradise is so appealing that it sucks people in.
You find joy in everything - so is it any surprise that people find joy in you?

You bring back the inner child in everyone you meet with your sincere and spontaneous ways.
Your childlike (but not childish) behavior also inspires others to care for you.
As a result, those who you befriend and date tend to be incredibly loyal to you.

i *heart* conference weekend

So many amazing talks in conference this weekend!  I loved so many of them that I can't pick a favorite.  President Hinckley made me cry, though.  He's so awesome.  I can't wait until the transcripts are published on the church site so I can re-read. 

In the meantime, here's day four from Rhonna's challenge. 


Cherry Blossoms

Okay, so the plan was for MariJane and I to go down to the Mall early to photograph the cherry blossoms and get back in time for the first session of conference.  First problem, the people at my bank have NO idea how to do an international wire transfer.  LOL.  I went to set up the wire to pay the people in Paris for the convention this October and they were clueless.  I mean, what bank doesn't even have international exchange rates?  I finally decided tP3310018hat since I just was NOT going to wait and come back again, I would just over-estimate the exchange from dollars to Euro and either suck up the difference or get them to pay me back the extra when I get there.  Whatever.  So that took some time.  Then, when we finally got to the metro station, lines to get fare cards were out of control!  Thank goodness for the SmarTrip card :D  Of course, it took 10 minutes to load the train, and then we overshot a station and had to park and wait for the driver to walk back to the other end so he could back the train up and pick up the 50,000 people standing on the platform at West Falls.  The normally 40-minute ride waP3310027s closer to an hour.  Then, they had to sit at the Smithsonian stop a good 5 minutes to let all the people off.  We decided to just stay on the train an extra stop rather than attempt to get off.  I should have taken a picture, now that I think about it.  In all the time I've lived here, I've never seen the metro packed like that.  So, we got off at l'Enfant Plaza and worked our way back.  The blossoms were GORGEOUS!  I haven't been down to see them since I was a little girl and they were just stunning.   We wandered around the tidal basin for a while, dodging the masses, and then worked our way up the Mall to the museums.  MariJane had only been to the archives before, so we decided to go into the National Gallery.  The West building had a Cézanne exhibit and a gelato bar.  Good combination.  One thing I didn't realize was that there was a good-sized series of rooms dedicated to sculpture - iP3310058ncluding some of my favorite Degas, and some stunning Rodin as well.   I think the Rodin museum just got added to my list of things to see on my next trip to Paris.  Sigh.  Like I need more excuses to want to go back!  Anyway, we wandered, oohed, aahed, looked for P3310065perceived body parts in the nebulous water colors on display in the Cézanne rooms... had lunch and gelato, and then  headed back home.  Of course, we had to stop by the carousel... which made the return trip an hour and a half.  :-P  That's okay, though, we got there *exactly* in time for the second session of conference... and as for the first, well, that's what tivo is for :)  I'm off to watch it now... 

Rhonna's Challenge - Days 2-3

Okay, I'm seriously LOVING this challenge!  It's so liberating!  I was up to my elbows in ink last night as I got totally into my day 3 pages.  I really look forward to working on this every day. 

Here's day 2:


And day 3: