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And they call it puppy love…

Usually when I’m out with pups, people comment on Grover (Mr. Barky von Schnauzer), or Lady (big fluffy St. Bernard) if she’s with me, but Tillie (Miss Australian Cattle Dog) doesn’t usually garner much attention.  It always surprises me, cause I think she’s beautiful, but maybe people just aren’t as familiar with her kind of dog, or maybe they don’t think she’s so cute.  And she’s average size – not too big, not too small… If she’s at the dog park though, she gets attention, cause she’s SO fast and smart and can do most of the dogstacle course stuff. 

Here are some of the things I heard about my dogs in Breckenridge.

From a couple on the riverwalk: “Do their feet get cold?”  Well… I haven’t asked them, but I’m guessing with the snow and the below freezing temps… probably.  I know mine do.

From a gentleman walking down the street with his family: “Is that an Australian Cattle Dog?  Those are smart dogs!!”  From his wife: ”That can work against you though!”  Um, yes, it can!  Then again, neither of them showed too much brainpower getting leashes tangled up around trees and bushes…

From the clerk at the cute dog store on Main Street, about Grover: “That tail is so cute!  It’s like he’s trying to wag it, but there’s just not enough there to do anything with!”  Then she noticed his crooked ears.  That’s my little clown dog.

From a gentleman in Josh’s snowboard shot: “Is that a Blue Heeler?  Those are such great dogs!”  Then she tried to go with him.

From a 5-ish year old girl coming out of a shop on Main Street: “Oh, is that a Schneezer dog?!”  CUTE!!

And of course, lots of “Oh, puppies!  Can I pet them?”  Only if you want them to love you forever.

Just too busy being fabulous…

Ha ha ha ha ha!  I crack myself up.

So, it’s been a busy couple of weeks!  After that lovely 2 week holiday shutdown, I went back to work.  And guess what!  It hasn’t slowed down.

Aside from work, I’ve been busy with some fun stuff too. 

A couple of weekends ago, I got a text message from Miss Kylah asking if I wanted to meet them for lunch in Denver.  Randy, Kylah, and Allison spent the night with Grandma Hope, and the next day I met them all for lunch and a little shopping.  Kylah brought me an awesome present!  She remembered me telling her how much I loved the awesome Cinnamon Crustos from Taco Time, so when she saw some cinnamon tortilla chips at the store, she got them for me (or, maybe, she talked her dad into getting them for me?)!  Thanks Ky!  They were super delicious!  Rhiannon was hanging out with Grandma & Grandpa that weekend, and Kelly was busy putting together a baby room, so I missed seeing them!  But it was great fun checking out Bass Pro Shop (we saw baby ducks!!), American Eagle, and Borders with them.  After leaving them to do more shopping, I headed west to visit Grandma Hope for a little while.  It’s always SO nice to see her!  Hi Grandma!  Love you much!!

Last weekend, after spending a day working on some horrendously overdue conference presentations, I went with Tina, Jimmy, and Madeline to spend a few hours at Dave & Buster’s.  Jimmy is getting ready to leave for Army boot camp, so they wanted to hit a golf course (even if it was a “virtual” golf course!) before he left.  I played a trivia game for a while and won LOTS of tickets (redeemable for fabulous prizes), but they didn’t have anything worth spending my tickets on.  Next time, maybe!

Tina was struggling at Christmas time to figure out what to give Jimmy.  With him leaving for boot camp soon (on Monday – January 25!), she didn’t want to get him stuff that he wouldn’t be able to take with him and use.  So, she ended up deciding to take him to the mountains for a snowboard trip!  So of course, I went along!  We spend Monday and Tuesday nights in Breckenridge.  Tina’s nephew Josh took a couple of days off work to give them lessons and try to keep them in an upright position.  It was only their second time on snowboards, but Josh rides pretty much every day, so it was great for them to be able to go with him.  I love Breck – fun town, fun shops, great restaurants, stunning landscapes… but not all fancy and expensive like some of Colorado’s other mountain towns.  Plus, I firmly believe that every town should have a crafty store of some sort, and Breck has at least three!  Aspen… one, and it’s open for like 2 hours a week.  Thanks to my awesome knees and other joints, I can’t ski or ride, so I hung out with the dogs in the condo the first day (still working on those presentations!) and watched it snow.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Tillie and Grover spent the day staring out the window and guarding me against the skiers, boarders, and wildlife they saw outside.  Tillie growled at a fox – SO cute.  Wednesday the pups and I did a lot of walking and shopping and freezing!  I still haven’t found the perfect shoe for sightseeing…

Sunday will be (maybe) devoted to crafty stuff.  I have truckloads of baby stuff to make, 4 pairs of pants to hem (I’m so not good at hemming…), I’m working on a scarf for myself that I may finish sometime this year, and I haven’t had my beading stuff out since sometime last year.  Ooh, come to think of it… I haven’t sewn anything since last year either.  :)

All is quiet on New Year’s Day…

Happy New Year!

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks!

Christmas in Greeley was relatively quiet and definitely white!!  (Think Colorado Christmas by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band… lovely!)  Tina’s sister and niece came up from Colorado Springs to visit on Christmas day (with tiny Jersey the chihuahua), and Lady (the giant St. Bernard) was here also, so we had quite the houseful of animals.  Tina whipped up a couple of magnificent meals – king crab legs on Christmas Eve, and ham, turkey, and all the stuff to go with them on Christmas Day.

My trip to Rock Springs was delayed by a day due to the closed highways in Wyoming, so I headed up there on Sunday morning.  I spent lots of time with the girls and mom and dad, and lots of time doing tech support on Rhiannon’s computer, Dad’s wireless network…  It was good to actually succeed at it though!!  I always like a good challenge.  Er… most of the time, anyway.  I had loads of delicious food – ham, lamb, pork, homemade chicken & noodle soup… I pretty much had to roll myself out to the car when I finally left.  I also got to play some Wii!  Which immediately convinced me that I simply must have one.  So on New Year’s Day after I got back from RS, I proceeded straight to Game Stop and got rid of the gift cards I’d been saving for a special occasion – got a Wii, Wii Fit Plus, and a couple of games.  Still need more though!  Oh yes, I said “need”.

Here are some pics of the Wii and dinner festivities at Randy’s house, and some of the girls and me at Mom’s.

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Also this year, I went out for New Year’s Eve for the first time since the Las Vegas Road Trip of December-January 1999-2000!  Tina and I went to the lovely and cool and classy Kress Cinema.  It is a gorgeous place that opened up in Greeley not too long ago – a remodel of an old downtown building into this wonderful intimate movie theater with a lounge and bar.  I’m SO not cool enough to hang out there, but I love the place anyway.  For New Year’s Eve, they had a swing band in the lounge, and showed When Harry met Sally in the theater.  Shockingly, I realized that I had never seen the whole movie!!  It was great and funny, with much better food than you can get at the local multiplex, and a terrific precursor to watching the ball drop on the big screen!  It was a nice low-key but festive New Year’s Eve, with a good excuse to get dressed up!  Here are some pics from that night:

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Happy 2010!!

Sitting downtown in a railway station…

So here are some of the other cool things I learned/observed/thought were nutty during our trip to Prague…

  • The subway there is crazy deep.  We rode some escalators that went for days… apparently, because of the soil, they had to go very deep underground to build it.
  • Always carry a compass.  That might make it a bit easier to figure out which direction you’re going, as opposed to walking around until you find enough street signs to figure out where you are on the map.  As it turns out, I did have a compass in my backpack, which I realized as I was cleaning out the old backpack to transfer stuff to the new one.  So the addendum to “always carry a compass” would be “remember that you have a compass.”
  • Don’t carry a bag that is easily opened!  Some people suck, and they will TAKE your stuff!  Course, some of those same sucky people are idiots, and will make attempts on several different cards to pull cash out of an ATM, without a PIN.  Ha ha, suckers!
  • Nothing makes me more interested in history than visiting the actual historical places.
  • I need better shoes.  Shoes that are super-comfy and good for walking, but don’t look orthopedic (and go nicely with skirts or jeans).  Any recommendations?
  • All the touristy shops had those weasel ball things in the entrances.  I have no clue why.  I didn’t see them for sale anywhere, but saw dozens and dozens of them in the doorways.  Any thoughts on the significance of those?
  • Always carry change in case you have to pay for the bathroom.
  • It might be much easier to remember what you take pictures of if you take notes or something as you go.
  • Public artwork can be hysterically funny and sometimes kinda dirty!  In a funny way.  (Those pics/videos weren’t included in the slideshow, but if you’d like to see them, let me know!)

I’m sure there’s lots more that I’m forgetting.  (Write things down, McConnell!)  All in all, a wonderful experience that I was lucky to have!

Food, glorious food!

So, if you read yesterday, and looked at the gazillion pictures, you saw a picture of one of the deliciously wonderful things we ate in Prague – the ginormous Belgian waffle with 3 kinds of chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  Yum!  This shop also had lots of gourmet chocolates and hard candies.  You could watch them making the hard candy, and they had a video going of how the whole process works.  They can start with giant hunks of stretchy hot sugary goo, and then manage to get it down to cute tiny little hard candies with pictures inside them!  I think we stopped by this shop no fewer than 3 times.

Wandering around the touristy places, we also had lots of street food.  There were stands and tiny restaurants all over the place with tons of sausages.  Being the Americans, we had our sausages on sandwiches with tasty buns, but we saw lots of people just ordering a sausage with a slice of bread.  I had one sandwich with about 5 small sausages instead of one giant one.  And by accident, I ordered one sandwich that turned out to be kind of a cheeseburger – a bun with a big deep fried cheese patty!!  Yum.  The fries were good too, but not quite as heavenly as the fried we had last year in Amsterdam – but how can you go wrong with a bucket of fries with ketchup, mayonnaise, and a tiny fork so you can eat it while you’re walking around?  (In some cases, just walking to the next fry stand…)  The mustard at these stands was delicious too… the packaging looks like it’s going to be like our French’s – and it says “yellow mustard” – Heinz, I think.  BUT – instead of being bright yellow, it’s light yellowish, and spicy, and delicious!

We also discovered the joy that is trdelnik.  We found these by accident too, walking through Lesser Town.  (And had to seek out this stand later, too!)  We had a few different types of these – some were coated with just cinnamon and sugar (they were SO awesome), some with powdered sugar and nuts, and some with cinnamon and sugar and what I think were chopped up apples inside!  Heavenly.  They were like this wonderful yeasty bread dough, crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside.

What else did we eat?  Meat – lots and lots of meat.  One meal was 4 different kinds of meat, 3 different kinds of dumplings, and some bread.  (I had to get my fill of fruit at the hotel’s breakfast buffet.)  Another meal was steak wrapped in prosciutto, and pasta covered in butter and prosciutto.  And a delicious bread basket.  (Noticing a theme?)

And… crêpes!  I love love love crêpes.  We had to stop at the same small little restaurant twice (again) because they had delicious crêpes, for meals and desserts!  Oh, I love food.

You wouldn’t believe where I’ve been…

**Updated… I just realized that trying to view the slideshow right from here doesn’t always work, AND it doesn’t show any of the captions for the pictures.  So… if you would like, you can click the link to view the pictures larger, then it should take you to the Shutterfly slide show!

Finally!  A post.

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And some pictures!  Here is a slide show of our trip to Prague in November.  I wanted to wait until I got the pictures semi-organized to post about the trip, and I wanted to post about the trip before I posted a bunch of my other random thoughts, and now I have finally gotten through the pictures.  It may look to you, with over 120 pictures, that I did not actually do any sort of editing or organizing.  BUT – I did!  This is pared down from over 400 pictures – gotta love digital, right?  No worries about taking picture after picture after picture after picture.

So, Prague was awesome!  I got to go for free, to speak at a work-related conference, and Tina went along with me.  The speaking went pretty well… it was a bit more adventurous than the other conferences I’ve done – most of the audience was great, but 2 guys were kind of… confrontational!  It was crazy!  But I made it through and went on to do some sight-seeing.

Some of the coolest things we saw were pretty much accidental – mostly when we were looking for bead shops that we’d found online.  One was a lovely little outdoor Christmas market where we got some tasty treats and cute souvenirs.  Another was in a different area of town… we got out of the metro station, and it looked like there was going to be a big street festival – a band was there, the street was blocked off, lots of activity.  We turned the corner, and there was a huge crowd of people, yelling and carrying signs.  There were news cameras and lots of police too!  Being that the signs were all in Czech, we couldn’t tell what was going on.  I googled from my phone (I still had it at that point!) and figured out we were there for a reenactment and celebration of the student protest that kicked off the Velvet Revolution!  Big day for the Czech Republic!  Er… I guess at that point, it was a big day for Czechoslovakia.

We also got to see a police station.  I got pickpocketed on the metro – jerks took my phone and my wallet (only cards – no cash) – so I filed a police report in case I ever need it.

There are lots of pictures from Prague Castle and from Vyšehrad.  I won’t go into history lessons here (that’s why we have Google and Wikipedia!), but these were some of my favorite places.  The castle is amazing – and I was absolutely blown away by St. Vitus’s Cathedral there.  So beautiful!  Our hotel and the conference center were right at the Vyšehrad metro station, and one of my guidebooks listed a walking tour of the area that looked a little interesting, so we took part of a day to do that.  It was lovely – gorgeous views of the rest of the city, beautiful church, amazing cemetery… While we were definitely not the only tourists there, it seemed like a world away from the hustle and bustle of convention centers and major tourist attractions.  The cemetery was cool (does that sound disrespectful or sacrilege or anything to say that??) – we saw where Dvorak is buried, and I recognized lots of old Rock Springs names, which I thought was just fascinating!

Since this post is forever long already… I think I will save some for updates over the next few days.  I could devote days to just food… :)

Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?

I should look into being rich so I can hire myself a driver.

So, back in my younger days, I might have had a bit of a bad temper.  I know that will come as a shock to some of you.  And, back in my younger days, my temper may have once in a while translated into a tiny bit of road rage.  Again, shocking.  BUT – now that I am older and wiser, I have mellowed out.  Even when there are people out there driving like idiots, not merging, cutting me off… I don’t usually get mad about it anymore.  I mean, that would just make me then drive like a jackass, which would then make more people mad, and it doesn’t help anyone.  Plus, who knows, maybe that person had a way worse morning than I did – I don’t know their stories, so I should try to be as polite as possible!

Well!  This morning challenged me.  A big mean Buick driver on her cell phone (with no headset!) did bad things and made me MAD not even 2 minutes into my commute.  Then she yelled at me (one hand on the cell phone, and one hand gesturing at me).  Then she tailgated me.  So a couple of miles later, she’s still being a jackass, but I was calming down and trying to maintain my 2-second rule behind the Cavalier in front of me.  We’re all driving along, and everyone slowed down suddenly, but with my 2-second rule, I was in pretty good shape.  And in slow-motion (apparently I had a LOT of time for thought!), I thought, wow, that Cavalier will be lucky, it’s getting REALLY close to the Explorer, but the brakes are on, so no prob – BAM!!!!!!  She hit the Explorer.  Then the Explorer got all zig-zaggy and went off the other side of the road, and may or may not have clipped the big mean Buick!!  This may have been the first time I actually witnessed an accident that I wasn’t actually in.  I was feeling blessed!  But nervous.

When I went to grab lunch today, I realized after I grabbed my coat that I didn’t have my keys and they were probably in the car.  The locked car.  I almost got to try out my shiny new AAA card, but I keep a spare car door key in my desk.  In my almost 10 years there, this is only the 2nd time I’ve gotten to use the spare car key!  Yippee!

There’s a new kitty a couple of houses down from mine.  He’s an outside kitty, and I kind of want to steal him and give him a nice happy safe life indoors.  I was driving home from work, in the DARK (thanks to daylight savings), and saw this weird reflection at the end of my street (by my house).  Lucky for new kitty, his eyes reflect headlights really really well, so I was able to avoid him, since he had no intention of moving off of the street. 

So… I think it would be good to have a chauffeur.  That would make life easier, right?

That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas…

Here’s what I did, learned, and observed in Vegas last week (at least the parts I can tell you, tee-hee!):

Did:

  • Attended a work-related conference
  • Presented a session at that conference
  • Killed my BlackBerry battery twice doing conference calls with work
  • Stayed indoors for about 2.5 days straight
  • Talked to strangers
  • Won $29 at craps at my favorite cheap casino
  • Introduced strangers to my favorite cheap casino
  • Drank a glass of grape-juice-like wine from a juice glass at my favorite cheap casino

Learned:

  • We may or may not need to undergo a major or not-so-major project to comply with new accounting standards
  • There are people in the US (actual grownups over the age of 30!) who have never eaten oatmeal
  • Ginormous baked potatoes are a truly shocking site for people who live east of the Mississippi
  • Sargento is a much smaller company than I would have thought! 

Observed:

  • Being in Vegas right around Halloween, it’s a little challenging to tell who is wearing a costume, and who is just going to work.
  • When the weekend plans involve replacing a bathroom floor and toilet, it might be a good idea to stay in Vegas.

Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now…

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Here is Miss Madeline in her Tinkerbell Halloween costume that I made!  I love sewing Halloween costumes!!  She chose the pattern from a pattern book, and she chose the fabrics (with a little bit of guidance…).  The skirt is 4 layers of lovely shimmery pink organza.  It was supposed to be one layer of organza and 4 of tulle, but apparently I have a hard time reading instructions.  So… this way it’s not so itchy, right?  The bodice is one of those cute glittery satins… the kind that tend to leave little bits of shimmer anywhere they lay down!  If I have to iron anything soon, I’ll end up sparkly.  Or farkly, as Maddie would say…  The wings tend to shed some glitter too, so our sofa is pretty farkly too.  Fun!

Here is a video of her spinning in circles.  We wanted to see how the skirt would look – especially those awesome petals – when they were spinning as fast as she could spin.

Tomorrow… some of what I learned, observed, and did in Las Vegas.

Viva Las Vegas!

So, I’m in Vegas this week.  Got here yesterday morning, attended a conference all day, went to bed early, got up early and presented, then spent all day attending more conference sessions.  I learned LOTS!  And found LOTS of cool software type stuff my company should buy.  But… I am a boring boring old girl.  I mean, it’s Vegas!  I should be rolling dice and shooting money into slot machines, right?!

I’m actually feeling just the tiniest bit gypped.  Yes, even with my most-expenses-paid trip to Vegas.  Yea, I’m a whiner.

So, for some odd reason that I’ll never understand, I’ve been dying for a massive snowstorm to hit.  We didn’t even have a normal hot summer, but I’m still dying for big snow.  Instead, I’m in a place that should be in the 70′s and 80′s now… but NO!  It’s cold, gray, and WINDY here.  Back home?  SNOW!  MASSIVE HUGE SNOW!!!  The kind of snow that calls for SNOW DAYS!!!  My work was actually cancelled today (which I learned via BlackBerry immediately following the session I presented) and starts late tomorrow (and possibly cancelled tomorrow), and I can’t even be somewhere hot and sunny to rub it in.  Do you all feel bad for me?

If I win a grand or so at the craps tables or penny slots, then I’ll feel much better about the whole thing.  :)