Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunny Frigid North

 This is where my journeys took me to this week - well, at least the beginning of the week as now I'm transferring to a different location for the end of the week.

Anyways - do you recognize this building?  It is famous - but something tells me you'll never guess.
But if you did guess the capital of the cold, but sunny state of Minnesota, then you would be correct.  If you didn't guess that, then you probably also might not know that this capital building is location in the rather vouge city of St. Paul, which is the Twin City about 10 minutes down the road from Minneapolis. Minneapolis is the new corporatey city and then St Paul is the older, artsy, antiquey sister city.

Separating the cities, there are two rivers that run through them, those being the mighty Mississippi and the semi might St Croix River.  Connecting both sides of the river is done by a series of bridges - too many for me to count.

Overall, the Cities are great!  Theres tons to do in summer AND winter - its a completely outdoorsy city. The great thing about Minnesota in the winter is its extremely cold, colder than Chicago, BUT they have the sun almost every day.  I'd much prefer it to be cold and sunny than a little bit warmer and overcast (which is Chicago's mantra).

I just flew back in and now I'm going to drive down to Indy, pick a friend up and head down to Asheville, NC.  I have a hospital system I just started working with down there and their manager is out on maternity leave so they're trying to start things without her.  Jodi and I are also going to just stay the weekend and enjoy the pleasant weather of North Carolina.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Its Still November But Its Christmas

I started getting ready for Christmas already - you have some time off and you use it to the best of your ability!  All the cold outdoor stuff is done so if it starts to get nasty, no worries, I can stay inside where its nice and warm and decorate there....

 Our Christmas tree waits in the garage to come inside and be laden down with ornaments...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning, Calvin and I joined a group of my friends in Wauconda and we took off in the 4 mile Turkey Trot - it was fun and the registration fee benefited the Lake County Food Pantry -a good cause!

Afterwards I went back to Kate's house and we had some breakfast burritos that we picked up at a Mexican place.

I then went home and made a homemade green bean casserole and we took our turkey and headed back to Pat and Randys where they had a group of about 25 people over.

We gorged on turkey and pretzel jello and tons of other stuff and then were too lazy to run off when the "band" broke out their trombones and trumpets and all the other band stuff.

We were rewarded later on though with tons of apple and pumpkin pies and other sweet stuff!

Tomorrow is leftovers for sure!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look Who I Get To Meet

This somewhat annoys me, but I admit I am a little intrigued....

One of the conferences that I go to every year to keep my CEU education up for my certification is IAHCSMM (International Association of Hospital Central Sterile and Materials Management .... everything in the hospital world is abbreviated and eternally long.... AAMI, AORN, CBSPD.....)

So the conference every year has been hit or miss as far as being educational and applicable.  Last year they had this comedian woman who had had breast cancer -- was not applicable but was apparently supposed to be funny (I don't think it totally acheived it).  However, the year before was this woman who started an infection control organization in the state of NY and she had been working in the hospital field for many years so her lecture was extremely interesting and informative!  Loved it!

This coming year the guest speaker appears to be Amy Roloff from that tv show on TLC.  I think she seems to be a very interesting person and I think she's passionate for her causes and all, but I don't really see how its going to applicable to what I do or what anyone else who works in the hospital would want or need to know.  I suppose I am somewhat looking forward to meeting her though as she seems like a really nice and interesting person.


Dear Alison,

We have received your Albuquerque registration and look forward to greeting you in May 2012. In the meantime, we wanted you to be kept abreast of current meeting information as it is developed, and hope you find this information useful.

The 2012 IAHCSMM Annual Conference & Expo promises the biggest array of educational offerings and knowledge-building opportunities to date -- not the least of which will include a powerful message from this year's inspiring keynote speaker, Amy Roloff.

You may already be familiar with Roloff from the hit TLC reality show "Little People Big World," but her contributions certainly don't end there. Aside from being a recognizable TV figure who has also appeared on Oprah, Good Morning America, The View, Jay Leno, and other programs, Roloff is also a successful business woman, respected motivational speaker, philanthropist, farm owner, author, former educator, and mother.  
What's more, her background in personnel and hospitality -- coupled with her experience in juggling multiple roles and projects, while also overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges -- is what gives her such a big presence and is sure to make her keynote message so poignant.  

No doubt about it, keynote speaker Amy Roloff is proof positive that great things really do come in small packages.   



Its been a little slower day so far so I was able to go out for a nice long run this morning.  I have grown to love the Millbrea area.  In fact, I've grown to love this hotel that I stay at - it really does feel like a really nice home :)  Every time you walk in in the morning you're greet with that phenominal fresh, clean smell of wonderful Fabuloso!  There are great little neighborhoods to run in all around and theres all those wonderful hills - extreme, light, down -- hills are great and I always wish we had them at home.  I love the Thai and the Korean restaurants all around the neighborhoods.  I love my favorite little cafe with the Nutella Lattes.  For the most part, I do love the people around the neighborhood here as most of them are pretty outgoing and friendly.  The only thing I don't think I like is that its pretty expensive here.  I mean this is the suburbs and even the hotels are more money than I'd pay most other places.  I guess you can't always have your cake and eat it too.

And heres one quandry that I've developed in the past few days.  Last year, I was surprised when they awarded me 1K (100,000 miles) status from 2010 - it was based on the segements I flew and not the miles.  I was a little hesitant when I made it because I was scared I was going to get used to something that I was going to want again next year.  I went on-line to book a flight and - boom- they told me that I'm about 30,000 elite qualifying miles away from 1K status next year.  Meaning, I've flown more miles than I even did last year.  Which means that, now I'm torn because I really do like the 1K status as its made my life a little easier and they're nicer to me and they're always upgrading me and - now I'm spoiled.  So, I have some more work to do before the end of the year, but I'm not sure that it will be 30,000 miles worth.  So, with that being said, I'm considering taking a big long flight somewhere just to get the miles.  It won't be a vacation or anything - it will just be a flight.  I'm just not sure how far I'd need to go or where I'd need to go to get those miles.

Stay tuned and throw some thoughts out if you have any! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From Fun In Philly To Sun In San Fran

Monday and Tuesday I was working in Phildelphia - but the fun part is that the rep there is a friend of mine so I get to stay with her and we hang out and go to dinner with her parents who are awesome and we always have a blast.  

The most recent addition to Lauren's parents' house is a dog they adopted from a rescue place.  Roxie is a mix of Rottweiler and German Shepherd and she's the most absolutely sweet adorable dog!  She's also totally in love with Lauren's dad and so when he got home she was all over him and then he came over to give me a hug and Roxie totally jumped on me like "get off my man!"  It was actually a little funny.

And then at Lauren's place, there's good old Maddy who is the fat black cat that just lies around and wants his tummy rubbed and then he sits and just stares out the window.
On Tuesday, we stopped for lunch at this amazing Jewish deli and I just had to take a pict of the name because its hilariously ethnic....  Ok, and their Rachel was AMAZING!  My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.
Because our travels together are the perfect combination of work and pleasure - we always gorge on the best food Philly has to offer.  That being said, we had to find a cupcake shop to try.  I actually found this place called Cupcake Gourmet that is quite the creative place.  They do these ganache cupcakes that have the cupcake and then buttercream frosting on the top and then they're dipped in this chocolate ganache.  It ends up with this really unique look and a pretty great flavor - although I do have to admit I thought their chocolate was a little too bitter for my taste.  They had some good flavors though as I got a variety of minis and just took some bites out of each so I could savor their flavor combinations.
Its a little fuzzy because we were driving, but here's a picture of one of those chocolate ganache cupcakes with the buttercream hidden underneath.
So we tried to rush back to the airport on Tuesday night but we got jammed up in traffic and I was a little nervous that I wasn't going to make my 6:55 p.m. flight - especially when, due to construction, I had to wait for and then take a shuttle from one terminal to another to get to the US Air flight I had.

I did make it with 4 minutes to spare :)  I had flown out of Chicago but I flew back into Milwaukee so when I got in at 8:15ish, Pat came and picked me up and I got home before 10 - yay!  Yay, because I had to swap some stuff in my suitcase and then jump into bed so I could get up at 4 a.m. and be on my way back to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight to San Francisco.  Yes, 6 a.m. - and then after a 4 hour 30 minute flight - I landed in San Fran at 8:15 a.m.  I love the time difference except when I come back, it takes a whole day basically to travel.

But, I got into San Fran early enough and then went over to the hotel but had to wait to check in so I went down to my favorite cafe and got my favorite - the Nutella Latte --- I LOVE that thing!  Its so so good and I drink way too many when I'm here.
I did finally get an early check in about 11 and I'll be dog gone if they didn't put me in the same room that I've been in the last two times.  Isn't that hilarious!
The afternoon was spent out at one of my big accounts "righting" some "wrong"... not too bad.  Back again tomorrow to help finish some installation with some product.  We don't go until the afternoon so I have time to run in the morning and the evening probably.  I ran this evening as well - trying to catch up with that as I've just had no time lately with the stupid light/dark early thing.  I hate winter because you never have time to do outside stuff.   The weather was so great here today though - just praying it doesn't rain tomorrow like they said it was going to.  Although, if you drive about 20 minutes outside of Millbrae here, its completely different weather - it could be raining here and then you get to Palo Alto and its sunny and hot.  Crazy.  We'll see what the weather brings tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Philadelphia

I'm in Philly working with a friend so I don't have much time to post - I'll just leave you this weeks story. And heres the funny thing - I'm getting pretty good at these 10 sentence short stories as I write what comes to me and without even thinking, I stop and I go back and add up my sentences and - boom - I'm spot on 10 and I've not even been keeping track. :)


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Out With The Old - In With The New!

Sadly, a week ago, our dryer gave up the ghost.  It was taking like 3 hours to dry a load of sheets.  So, we had to go out and make that big purchase.  I did a little research and then went to a few stores and found that, definitely, Sears had the best prices.  We wound up with another Whirlpool.  We went all High Efficiancy and I was determined to get that steam feature as I'm anti-iron.  Its literally got all the bells and whistles!  Who knew drying things could be so fun.  Oh - and I was going to get plain old white because it was cheaper, but they wouldn't have any whites available for a week or so, so they gave me the stainless steel one for the price of the white.  Cool all the way around -- welcome to our home, new dryer!

The other thing that I spent the weekend doing is playing around with cupcakes.  Pat had a nice little farewell party for Joe as he leaves for Korea for the year on Tuesday.  I decided to experiment and make a bunch of cupcakes.  I did a vanilla bean one (HATE the recipe and now I need to go back and just tweak the one I had come up with), a retweaked my pumpkin and cinnamon cream cheese one and think I came up with a winner.  

And then I created a whole new one for Joe as my going away gift.  I know that at Dairy Queen and other places, he usually gets cookies and cream flavor so I made up a cookies and cream cupcake that I've named the "Little Joey" in honor of him :)  I did one for the party and then I tweaked it on Sunday afternoon and think I came up with a better one.  Its actually got an Oreo on the bottom and then a cookies and cream frosting.  I thought it was pretty dog gone good.
Joes party was on Saturday, but then Sunday afternoon, Pat had the family over for dinner.  Uncle Raine brought Joes "favorite soup", Pasta Fazioli -- here he's enjoying a delicious bowl :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Just finished doing a little updating to Shutterfly - I've got my Budapest and my Italy pictures up and running.

Share The Love With Safeway

Just thought I'd take a second to pay it forward....

If you've got a Safeway store near you (Dominicks in Chicago), you can donate to Wounded Warriors this weekend (Nov. 11 - 13).  You shop and at checkout, it will ask if you want to donate $3, $5, etc.  I know that the VA system has been woefully inadequate with all the soliders that have been coming home wounded so, it can't hurt to pitch in to help the ones that are coming back and needing health help.

Considering stopping by and donating!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stuff I Don't See At Home - OR - Where Was Alison This Week

In office on Monday.

Work at home on Tuesday.

Wednesday: 5 a.m. - alarm goes off and I groggily drag myself out of bed to face the dark sky of morning. 6 a.m. - in the car headed to the train station.

6:06 a.m. - digging for change to put in the parking fee box at the train station -- I've been nabbed before for "cheating" the system with the absence of a quarter that I didn't have....

6:16 a.m. - dragging my roller suitcase up the steps into the train headed to the airport.

7:07 a.m. - a rare, kind gentleman grabs my roller suitcase to drag it down the train steps upon our arrival to the airport.

7:10 a.m. - the shuttle bus at the airport glides up to the pick up stop and I once again drag my roller suitcase up the bus steps (although this step is very short and only one and very close to the ground level - yay)

7:17 a.m. - the bus arrives at the shuttle train and I once again drag my bag off the bus and hitch a ride up the elevator to the train.

7:25 a.m. - the shuttle train for the terminals arrive and the mad rush to cram on quickly before the doors close ensues.

7:36 a.m. - the shuttle train actually arrives at terminal 1, my terminal.

 7:45 a.m. - "patiently" waiting for Mr No-Prepared to unlace his shoes as we pass through the security line.

8:00 a.m. - after grabbing a Jamba Juice and running through the underpass I jump into the boarding line at the gate. When I swipe my boarding pass on my phone it gives a procrastinated beep and the I hear the sweetest words ever "Miss Behn - you've been upgraded". Thank you!!!!!! It would be an extremely long flight sandwiched between two other passengers on the 4 hour flight out to Seattle, but now I have a front row seat in first class.

10:30 a.m. - arrive in Seattle, WA. This is the coolest thing - to leave in the morning, have a long flight, and arrive in the morning.

This leaves me with enough time to stop in a - GASP - coffee shop, open the laptop and get some emails and reports done.

Then - here's the exciting thing, I get to get in my rental and drive down to Portland to see my brother! :) I picked Karl up from work and we went to Powell's bookstore. Its the most exciting place ever! Its 3 floors which stretch for a couple of blocks, lined with rows and rows of books! Beautiful, paperback, hardback, pictures and words books, new and used and just screaming my name. Its overwhelming and it sucks that I live like 1000s of miles from the place because its always with limited excitement that I can look because it always entails me lugging them back home again. Thats so sad. I guess I'm going to have schedule another venture up to Milwaukee to the big book shop up there.... Anyone up for a trip? :)

Anyways - after books, Whole Foods, then a walk around Nob (aka Snob) Hill and all the kitschy little shops there. And then, another highlight - Papa Hadyns! Ok, if you're ever in Portland, you have to try Papa Hadyns. Its absolutely fabulous food for dinner and then you move on to the desserts and its like you've died and gone to foodie heaven! Its an adorable place and cozy and so friendly. Love it!

Movie - "The Men Who Stared At Goats".... An interesting film, but I guess its worth a look-see. I think the winning factors are the actors. I like almost anything with Ewan McGregor and then Jeff Bridges is pretty great too.

That was Wednesday, Thursday was my big appointment day so I had to leave Portland around 7 a.m..... This is the view that I saw as I buzzed up the highway towards Puget Sound.... Photo
 In case you can't tell - thats Mt St Helens in the sunrise...

A stop for coffee at Peets Coffee which is a west coast thing but we sadly don't have one by us. Its pretty good coffee. The bad thing is that you can't really work there as, if you buy something, they give you an hours worth of wifi, but then after the hour, you have to buy something else for another hour. Thats pretty stinky when you travel and your only office the place that gives you wifi.

So, as my GPS starts to announce Seattle, this is the view I see out of my window... Photo
In case you can't tell what this is.... Its Mt Rainier in the distance...

I have my first meeting at a hospital that made a conversion to us about three months ago. The department manager is a nice guy, but is a temporary manager and is going to be transferring to a hospital in CA in December so I'm hoping this meeting will pay it forward to another account on the south west coast.

The second meeting was awesome because its an IDN (an integrated health network which is a group of hospitals). The new manager as of a few months ago is actually a guy that I worked with at the IDN in Minneapolis that I was just in last week. He's the nicest guy ever and I was a surprise addition to the meeting and he was actually quite pleased to see me which made me feel like I do ok at my job if I can get repeat business in other places. Here's the cool thing is that the newest business fad in hospitals is that one IDN links up with another unrelated IDN in order to maximize their buying knowledge and power. In this IDN case, its a group of pretty large hospital in the WA area and they have joined forces with another IDN which is large IDN of smaller hospitals all up and down the west coast. Potential! :)

After our meeting, the four of us who were at the meeting figured we'd go out for a nosh and a drink on the water. I've never really had time to explore Seattle so the water front experience was new and gorgeous. We went down to the Edgewater Hotel and sat for a couple of hours talking about business, life and other such things. This is the view that progressed as time went on.... Photo Photo Wonderful, huh? We even had the pleasure of seeing a sea otter bobbing around the water.

On the drive to my hotel, I passed piers and shipping yards filled with truck containers which had just been shipped or were being shipped to far off locations. And then, I passed the hub of all coffee. Its alittle blurry and far away, but ---
Its the Starbucks headquarters! Coincidentally, for those of you who don't know it, Starbucks and I share a birthday... We were both born in the wonderful year of 1971. Isn't it oddly delightful that we share that common factor! :)

And now, Friday, I'm on my way back to the Windy City and all that awaits me there.

A good week on the west coast.... Next week is a busy week so we'll see what I have time to write about.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cupcake Catch-Up

This was my cupcake venture over the weekend.  A S'mores cupcake.  I finished them on Sunday and then brought them into the office for Monday.  Everyone in the office loved them, but I wasn't really happy with them.  I'm trying to get that perfect graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow combination.  Its didn't happen here so I'll be back to the drawing board. 

 So, I made my chocolate cupcake and filled the liners halfway and then put a round of graham cracker in the middle and topped it with more chocolate cake batter.  Baked.  Then I had my milk chocolate ganache and I put that on the cupcake, dusted it with graham cracker crumbs.  I made my marshmallow frosting and inserted some in the middles of the cakes and topped them off with the same frosting.  The fun part was burning the tops with the blow torch so they looked like they had just come out of the fire! :)  Fun - but they could have tasted a lot better so, I've got some other ideas, I'll keep you posted if it works....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Only Time

I have some stuff from the weekend, but the only thing I really have time to post tonight is my updated story blog....  enjoy again!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I absolutely love those Allstate commercials.  I had this one on the front of my AOL page and had to share -- too funny!  I also added one more that I found....  Love it!

Friday, November 4, 2011


I just signed up for another "swap" with a blog that I follow.

This one is different, though.  It doesn't showcase my talents with the camera or detail my profuse love of travel.  It doesn't cost $.25 to exchange and it won't fit in the big blue mailbox at my local post office.

But, it will make my tummy happy and my mouth smiley....

If you'd like to find out what fun new thing I'm involved in and how I'll get to connect with a few other people with a common interest - check out the link below!

AND - if you dare to have some fun and some happy tummies as well ....
Maybe you should sign up too! :)

Soul Sail Picture Post

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life Begins Again

I took this as my motto today.  Its been about a week and a half that I've been back from Budapest and I've been at home the whole time and in the office, but this week, last minute, we had a QBR (Business review) at one of my big sites and I jumped at the chance to attend when asked.  I find that sometimes, I want to be at home, but then after a little while, I'm quite anxious to get out again.  Its a slippery trade off - home, but wanting to be gone and gone but wanting to be home.  I suppose I just can't be happy.  But it was good to be out again and meeting with my customers as thats really my favorite part.

And, I must admit, this is one of my favorite customers!

I think I posted a while back the building in progress for the new Children's Hospital at this account - it was being built last time I was here and now its finished!  Because of that, they've had to ramp things up and so they added more volume to our product - yay!  Here's the finished site.  Its huge and its got this really awesome looking rainbowy glass on the front.  Its a really cool looking building.

Again, I just love meeting with this customer because they're really fair to work with and they're up front and will tell you what they expect or need - or appreciate.  Its just a really rewarding thing when you feel like you have an honest give and take relationship with a customer.

Here's the other happy/sad thing for me.  It seems that the one guy who was in charge of the department I work with took a position in Seattle with a large IHN (Integrated Health Network).  Its a 10 hospital system and he's in charge of all the departments that I would need to work with.  I guess he's basically said too that he's trying to bring out all the people that he was working with at his old site.  I don't know if that means me too, but I'm going to take it as yes until I hear no.

It was one of those good days where I feel like I love my work, I love my customers and I love everything about the day.  I have plenty of the bad days where I want to push myself off a building or hurl myself into a rather large steam sterilizer in the Central Service department where I work.  I don't think my good days even out my bad, but I such up the good days where I can -- and today was one of those GOOD days!

Back to the cities again tomorrow for some afternoon appts.  I'm actually staying with the BFF, Melissa, here so I'm going to have her tag along with me to the cities to keep me company.  It will be a fun day out and hopefully I'll have another good call on another good account!