Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My cousin Sierra pretends she's Sunnyvale's latest woman firefighter.  Posted by Picasa

My friend Mike taking a turn with the fire hose--a task few men can turn down. Posted by Picasa

My new firefighter friends and I (The camera makes me look bigger, BTW. Just a little disclaimer I thought I'd throw in). Posted by Picasa

My beautiful ice cream sundae station. Too bad you can't quite see the chocolate fountain.  Posted by Picasa

One sweet party

Finally, I can add a new entry. On Sunday, I, um, sorta got sick from eating too much ice cream. But I felt better by Monday evening. And yesterday, I removed a splinter from a co-worker's finger. I'm just doing great things left and right this past week!

Anyhoo...if I do say so myself, I am now officially the coolest neighbor in Sunnyvale. Ever. I am still basking in the glory of having pulled off one of the most memorable block parties in our cul-de-sac. I still can't believe I managed to do it all from Phoenix. Guess it reveals my inner Martha Stewart, control issues. But it was pretty much how I pictured--several of my neighbors, friends and relatives mingling and enjoying themselves. But I couldn't have done it without the help of my mother and our neighbors Earl & Debbie. Debbie and Earl did all the barbecuing of hamburgers and hot dogs, they brought out their four patio tables and umbrellas to their driveway and they were just so gracious to the people who weren't neighbors. And our next door neighbors Dave & Kathy were great too. They have a knack for making anyone feel welcome.

Of course, having ice cream on hand for everyone was a bonus. I got carried away setting up a sundae bar. I don't know what it is, I love setting up festive luncheons or dinner parties for people. I would do it more often if I had more $$. I like seeing people have a good time over food. Weeks before the party, I already envisioned how I wanted the ice cream station to look. For this, I splurged at Bed, Bath & Beyond when I saw this set of glasses that are shaped like waffle cones; I thought they'd look great holding all the toppings--crumbled Oreos, M&Ms, nuts and cherries. I decided to bring out my chocolate fountain and used a tiered buffet of trays to put out strawberries. And I wanted to avoid putting the ice cream in our red cooler. Luckily, Sunday morning, I found a big, sunny yellow beverage bucket at Albertson's for 75 percent off--costs me $4. As you'll see in the pictures, I don't mess around when it comes to dessert.

But the absolute highlight that elevated the festivities was the appearance of some firefighters from our local firehouse. I had completely forgotten that I had invited them. Then, sometime before 1:30 p.m., while everyone was eating on the driveway, we saw a yellow fire engine enter the court. Everybody was totally surprised, myself included. I ran up and introduced myself as the hostess who requested the fire engine. I met Vicky and Don (How awesome was it to meet a woman firefighter!). And everyone went gaga over their engine -- adults and kids. There's just something about boys and men around firetrucks. People were swarming the engine. And I told Vicky and Don the story of how I won Dreyer's ice cream last year because of how Dad almost burned down the house. Hee-hee. After eating some ice cream, Vicky and Don let people take turns operating the fire hose. And they handed out stickers and cards to everyone.

At 3pm, a second fire engine came. Everyone was asking me things like "How did you get TWO?" or "How much clout do you have?" Funny. Turns out, the other engine, manned by the lieutenant, went to another party that was kind of a bust. So, he and the other firefighter decided to check out my party. They all agreed mine was the best. LOL. Anyway, one of my neighbors, who apparently has had fantasies about being a fireman, said everything I do is gold--according to his wife.

It was definitely a day to remember. I loved seeing everyone getting along. I finally got to meet our new next-door neighbors, Luis and Fabiana, who are from Brazil. Both so nice. They brought a pitcher of that Brazilian drink, Caipirinha. It's made from lime, sugar, ice and a Brazilian liquor called "cacasa" which is made from sugar cane. They warned everyone it was made with alcohol. So, of course I go into the house to get something and find my 15-year-old cousin Jonathan sitting on the papasan all quiet. I said "What's the matter?" He said "I drank some of that 'lemonade.'" I told the story to a couple of people. By the end, everyone had heard. Luis and Fabiana at first felt bad and I reassured them Jonathan knew what he was doing. So, the running joke was mentioning lemonade with air quotes.

Everyone says I have set the bar for neighborhood parties but I shouldn't feel like I have to top it in the future. That's nice of them to say because I don't think I could. I'm glad it all worked out. To think, I was going to invite Shao-Lin monks too!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Looking for normal (healthwise)

Well, I think I'm starting to get back to feeling like my old self. Even my appetite is starting to come back. Earlier this week, I barely made a dent in some baked chicken I ordered and couldn't stomach a burrito at the Pink Taco in Scottsdale, which I went to for the first time. In case you didn't know, Pink Taco is a synonym for part of the female anatomy. Supposedly, there is a pink taco dish in Mexico that resembles know. Anyhoo, today my aunt Karen took me to a Chinese buffet (you will not believe how many of those there are in Phoenix). I started out small with just soup, rice and vegetables. Soon, I found myself chomping on a fried chicken drumstick, two crispy wings, two crab puffs, and two little pieces of sesame chicken. After lunch, we went on to a bridal shower for Nancy, my (distant) cousin Darrell's fiancee. There I wolfed down a chocolate strawberry and a piece of ice cream cake--peanut butter chocolate with white cake. I think it's a safe bet I probably gained back the weight I lost after I got sick.

The bridal shower was expectedly girly and festive. But I admit, sometimes I'm a sucker for that stuff. Nancy's high school pal threw the party at her house in Paradise Valley, a really ritzy burb next to Phoenix. Her house was amazing; I felt like I was at a party in a Martha Stewart Living spread. Mediterranean, Spanish style house with granite counters and a granite island in the kitchen. Her friend clearly loves to throw parties. She threw all the takeout food in shiny chafing dishes to make it presentable and had tropical-theme decorations and favors. It was all very organized and pristine. Makes me want to throw a party. Anyone out there in need of a bridal shower/party planner?

Wednesday night, I set foot in a Wal-Mart for the first time. Ever. I just wanted to see what the attraction was. My first impression, it's like Target but bigger and rowdier. Yeah, it's nice they have a lot of affordable stuff feels a little sterile and less classy. Not that I blame people for shopping there. I will be going to the dark side from time to time. As a hobbyist baker, I'd definitely go there for baking stuff; their spices and everything are incredibly cheap. I bought myself a 24-cup cupcake carrier. Yes, it sounds ridiculous but I like the idea of making cupcakes and transporting them easily. And it just looks so handy.

Well, it looks like this weekend, I should be able to eat some of the ice cream I won. Woo-hoo! Can't wait.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Being sick sucks

It's been a while since I posted. The main reason is that I became ill with a fever and other crappy issues two weekends ago. I thought I was getting better but this past weekend, while hanging in LA, I felt ill and flu-like again. I've been having trouble sleeping and my appetite has gone somewhat south this past week. I really hope that the health Gods will smile down on me soon. It doesn't help that in the past week, I've gone out twice in the terrible heat to help cover a story.

You've all heard I'm sure about the serial shooter spree in Phoenix and how they have arrested two guys--Dale Hausner and a guy who was staying with him, Samuel Dieteman. Last Friday, I was sent to Mesa, a city east of Phoenix, to go to the complex where Hausner lived and interview his neighbors. That was fun: "So, how does it feel knowing the serial shooter was living in your front yard?" But I got one girl who was refreshingly candid. She said her friends saw those two guys together so much, they speculated they were a gay couple. I think Dieteman is the more short-circuited one. According to a Glendale police record (Glendale is a suburb northwest of Phoenix), he once pulled a Wendy's employee across the counter and punched him, nearly beating him, because they put mustard on his hamburger! Imagine if they had put pickles.

Then on Tuesday, I got sent downtown where the roof of a parking garage due to be demolished collapsed on a construction worker. It was pretty scary. Everyone was waiting word for when rescue crews would get him out. The poor guy, who is my age, had literally tons of debris and concrete stuck on his legs. When you have all that weight, the danger comes when it's all lifted. Blood hasn't been circulating and toxins might be released. Last I heard, he's still in critical condition at the hospital. I really, really hope he makes it.

Well, gotta get back to drinking more fluids. Must feel normal again.