Wednesday, December 24, 2014

tradition (sometimes comes in the form of cake)

So excited to be making a holiday favorite!!! The kitchen smells amazing!

(here's the recipe if interested...)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

three years

Three years ago today my life turned a corner.  Three years ago the person I thought would live to be 100 was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though a semi-serious chunk of time has passed, I remember that day all too well. Where I was, what I wore, expressions, emotions, who I told when and where, and how I wanted to wake up from this awful dream that was now my reality.  I don't mean to be this way, but I am so my mother's daughter.  We're date people.  We remember what we (and sometimes other people) wore on certain occasions.  We remember random people's kids names or when their dog died.  This type of memory can be a blessing, but it's also a curse.  It means I remember every day of that week long hospital stay. What happened when.  Which nurses were on duty.  Who came to visit.  Where I called people from the hospital. Which nights I stayed.  What I did (or as was most often the case didn't) eat. When she had surgery. How she woke up.  These memories are indelibly imprinted on my brain.  I try not to think of them, but sometimes, and especially at this time of year, they resurface with a sudden vengeance and threaten to  overwhelm the life I have now.

So much of this journey has been a private affair for me, however the older (ahem, or should I say, more mature) I become, the more I recognize the value of sharing these experiences with others.  To allow myself moments of complete transparency.  To say, hey, this is a crappy day, and here's why.  And most importantly, to not forget my mother and her all to short life here on earth.  Because even though the three months that followed her diagnosis were the most difficult of my life, they were also the last days I spent with my mama, and for that reason alone there will always be an element of preciousness about them.

So, tonight I'm going to see the National Theater Live production of Skylight.  Why?  Because it's something we would have done together and for whatever reason, it feels right.  And while she may not be with me physically, I'd like to think that she's with me in spirit, and maybe, just maybe, she'll be watching the show from heaven...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

for the love of books

Ever since I can remember I've been *that* person who reads several books simultaneously.  Sounds strange coming from a type-A, but it's so freeing to know I have more than one option and can choose the book that fits my current literary mood.  I mean let's face it, sometimes you feel like that meaty autobiography, and sometimes you just want mindless fluff!  And since I'm the kind of person who believes in finishing everything I start, whether or not I like it (and yes, to the one person wondering, this does include Great Expectations. I shall conquer it!), there have been a few books that have taken longer than others. (Alexandre Dumas' The Black Tulip comes to mind.  That one was seriously brutal.)  Fortunately for me, the current list much more palatable.  :-)

The Ashford Affair - 1920s/1999 historical fiction crossover and great to read on break!
And Furthermore - Judi Dench's autobiography 2.0
Living History - Hillary Clinton's autobiography

Sunday, August 24, 2014

it's not everyday your best friend turns 30

So, my best friend turned 30 this year!  We have a tradition of treating each other to some kind of birthday fun, and this year was no exception.  Given that this was the BIG 3-0, her mom, husband, and I threw her a surprise birthday party, but I still wanted to do something for just the two of us.  I started researching ideas a few months ago (after all, I wanted it to be the p-e-r-f-e-c-t day) and hatched this little plan...of course, I changed my mind multiple times, but ultimately, decided to pursue my original idea and am so glad I did.

Rodeo Drive!!!!!!!!

We started the afternoon at The Blvd, an art deco style restaurant at the Beverly Hills Wilshire (of Pretty Woman fame)!  We loved the vibe (and music), but unfortunately, the food wasn't as good.  The presentation was striking, but the taste buds were under-impressed.    

Naturally, the day wouldn't be complete without a food pic.  

Via Rodeo!

Front of the hotel

Stop two was supposed to be pedicures at Olive and June, an environmentally friendly nail salon with services like "The Margot" and "The Olive."  It came highly recommended and sounded like tons of fun.  Too bad we were turned away because they were booked solid! :-(  (we won't talk about how I called twice to make sure they could take us without a reservation)  It's a good thing the BFF was so understanding!  Despite our little setback, we pulled out our iPhones and found another salon within walking distance.  It was quite relaxing, and our toes looked be-a-u-tiful.

Finally, no outing would be complete without something sweet.  We found a cute French bakery and enjoyed iced mocha's and split an amazing almond croissant.

                              Fortunately, one of us (and it wasn't me) made sure we took a selfie.

I am beyond blessed by this girls friendship.  We've known each other for more than half our lives and have been friends for sixteen.  She's seen the good, bad, and the ugly and hasn't run away yet!  We've laughed and cried together (okay, I may have done more of the crying part), stayed up 'til 3:00 a.m. watching movies more times I care to admit, and have cooked some seriously elaborate meals.  We've navigated the challenges of a cross-country relationship and come out closer than ever. I don't have to explain myself or my family to her and can just be. How many people can you say that about?!  All-in all, it was wonderful having an afternoon to ourselves to just hang out enjoy each others company.   

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

embracing the single thing

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

I had a breakthrough last week.  Not of the earth shattering variety, but a breakthrough in my world nonetheless.  I went to the movies by myself.  Intentionally.  I know, I know, this sounds ridiculous, but coming from someone who has always made an effort to experience what I consider "shared cultural activities" with others, this was kind of a big deal.  Ironically, I've done the shopping/museum/and even travel thing solo, but somehow I just always thought I was supposed to do movies or theater with someone else because I never had the self confidence to do them on my own.  After all, everyone would immediately notice I was by myself, no significant other or friend at my side, and thereby, clearly, ALONE.

Why?  Well, I'm one of those people who had her life all planned out.  Neat and orderly. Married by 25, first baby by 27, established career, you know, your average run of the mill schedule.  I remember planning my wedding with my cousin when we were about five-years-old.  (I wanted a large wedding party with each bridesmaid wearing a different colored pastel dress.  Me, pastel?!  That's the last thing I'd want today!)  Fast forward about twenty-five years, and there's no significant other (Hello, Hugh Jackman...where are you?!), no kids on the horizon, and considering I work in a college library with about zero prospects on the romantic front and am still on the fence about online dating, I'm at an impasse.  There's no built-in plus one, and most of my friends are married with families and extra responsibilities.  So, when I decided to buy myself a solo ticket to the theatre last June, it was a big step for me. I was going into the unknown without a safety net. No one to go with, sit with, and, obviously, talk with.  I don't know what I expected, but the experience was relatively painless.  Nobody laughed at me or pointed out I was there by myself.  I even had a pleasant conversation with the woman sitting next to me, who - get this - was also flying solo.  (granted, she was about 30 years older than me, but still.)  Then a few weeks later I went to the ballet and now the movies.  I suppose I finally recognized (or perhaps admitted) my relationship status won't be changing tomorrow so maybe I should embrace the single thing and enjoy life as it is...

After all, why do I always need someone to do things with?  Why can't I enjoy and be comfortable with my own company instead of publicly avoiding it at all costs?  Sure, somethings are better enjoyed with others (who doesn't want a travel companion or shopping buddy?), and I certainly won't hesitate to organize future group outings, but I also won't avoid going at things solo.  I've always been on the shy side and missed out on lots of fun opportunities during my high school years because I was too scared to do them.  Then came college when I didn't have much time for anything, and the last half of my 20s was overshadowed by family health/job crises. I know I missed out on chances, but there's no point in wallowing in regret about the past. All I can do is work to change the future, not waste anymore time, and experience life to its

Maybe there is something to this 30s-is-the-best-decade thing.  :-)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

chapel at sunset

On a day that would rival the tropics in the humidity dept, the chapel at Mariners is a beautiful sight to behold.  I'm SO excited to have finally found a new church.   

Friday, July 4, 2014

what a holiday means to me: extra sleep!

This morning I woke up early and thought I overslept. Panic set in as I frantically grabbed my phone to check the time.  Then I remembered it was a holiday.  Hello!

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the last confession

Those of you who know me know I love the theater.  Specifically, good theater.  From musical theater to drama to anything in-between I'm a sucker for it all.  This past week I matched my NYC record and went three times in five days!!!  It wasn't exactly planned that way, but when it rains, it pours, right?!   On Tuesday I saw Mystere at Treasure Island (great acrobatics but anything Cirque sets me on edge, and parts of this show were downright creepy), Friday was a youth theater version of Fiddler on the Roof (the student playing Tevye was amazing...everyone else not so much), and finally on Saturday I drove to LA to see David Suchet in The Last Confession.  I honestly wasn't sure what to expect and went because 1) here was a possible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Mr. Suchet live and in person and 2) I got a great deal on the tickets. The subject matter was secondary to me, but I'm happy to report everything about this play was pure excellence.  The acting hit the right tone, and great as the RSC's Suchet is, he never overshadowed the other actors. It was a true ensemble cast in every sense of the word.

The Last Confession is a play about the reign of Pope John Paul I, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1978, only 33 days after taking the Vatican’s top job. A determined liberal reformist – similar to the current Pope – he intended to replace some of his most powerful conservative cardinals. The death was not officially investigated but one insider who helped install the short-lived pope, Cardinal Giovanni Benelli (played by Suchet), doggedly tried to uncover the truth.
- Sydney Morning Herald Entertainment
The Last Confession was written by lawyer turned first time playwright Robert Crane (see here for more info) and did what any great piece of theater should do: it made me think.  Not in a let's-bash-the-church or put-down-Catholics sort of way, but rather, it took an honest look at how the desire for power can corrupt even the very best of our intentions.  Although labeled a conspiracy thriller, TLC struck me more as an examination of human nature and how some cling to power at any price.  Like John Patrick Shanely's, Doubt, audience members are left with questioning what really happened...was the pope murdered or did he die of natural causes...and like any good researcher, I intend to give it my best Boy Scout effort and find out!  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

meeting hillary

So, this happened the other day!!!!!

I met Hillary Clinton.  You know, former Secretary of State, Senator, FLOTUS, potential future president ...Hillary!!!!  It all began a few weeks ago when I read she was coming to The Grove in L.A. as part of her book signing tour, and the rest as they say is history.

Of course, the event was the day after we got back from Vegas, and I admit to being exhausted on Wednesday night.  I'd read about people camping out for her signing in Seattle and was concerned the same would happen in L.A.  I didn't want to drive all that way only to find out the tickets were gone!  I woke up at five o'clock the morning of and checked The Grove's twitter feed to see if there were any updates.  Nothing. I guess they don't work that early. :-)  I left the house an hour later and thanks to two accidents on the 710 and a car fire on the 5 it took me an hour-and-half to get there.  Apparently, half the county had the same idea. The line extended all the way around the perimeter, but since I came this far, I wasn't about to leave now!

To make a long story short, I waited in line six-and-a-half hours, but it was totally worth it.

Sign inside the store.  

I waited four hours to see this! At this point, we bought the book and were given a wristband. I was in group Z. Talk about close!  (A few people later they started the standbys.  Eek!)  After exiting the store, we were directed to a different line and settled in for another couple of hours.  

I came prepared to pass the time with reading material and music but ended up talking with the people around me.  We sort of bonded, and eventually there were seven of us traveling as a posse.  (we went by the name The Magnificent Seven.)  We saved each other's places in line and took breaks for food and other necessities.  :-) 

Security was extremely tight, and we went through an airport like checkpoint before being allowed on her floor.  They had bullet proof glass set up on the side and Secret Service everywhere.  (These people have ZERO personality, and I mean, zilch.)  Barnes and Noble staff kept the line moving at a very steady pace.  I took this picture on the move (hence the blurriness), but it gives an idea of the overall setup. 

We weren't allowed to have our phones out after this point so the next photo I got is the one below!  When it was my turn, I was behind one of my new friends who goes to school in D.C.  Turns out he attends the same church as the Clinton's and mentioned it to her.  She replied, "I love that church."  Mini conversation!  Score!  I didn't have much to say other than, "Hi" and "Thank you."  Original, I know, but at this point she'd been signing for over two hours, and no one was given the opportunity to say anything more.  One thing I noticed was she made eye contact with every single person who came through that line, and I thought that was a nice gesture.  

It was truly an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. experience, and I'm super excited I at least saw her face-to-face.  And, I must say, she has the bluest eyes...

The prize!

Monday, June 23, 2014

what happens in vegas...doesn't stay there!

It has been a seriously busy week.  My family spent Father's Day in Las Vegas (my dad got a ridiculously amazing deal)  and stretched it into a mini 4 days/3 night sin city vacation.  Then on Thursday I met Hillary Clinton (okay, I use the word "met" loosely.  It was for approximately 10 seconds, but we said "Hi" and made eye contact -- more on that later), and Friday/Saturday I went back to work, finally caught up with my BFF, and fit in not one, but two theater productions.  First up: Vegas!

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip, and we made lots of great memories.  Going in I only wanted two things:
1) afternoon by the pool
2) spiked mocha at the Bouchon

Unfortunately, neither dream was fully realized. Our hotel kept closing its pool due to strong winds, and although we were allowed to use the pool at Treasure Island it turned out to be less than satisfactory.  So, I may not have read the afternoon away with a umbrella worthy drink in my hand, but we sure tried!  As for the mocha...the last time I had breakfast at the Bouchon the server surprised me by spiking my coffee. I assumed they did that for all coffee beverages and didn't say anything this time around. It seems that's not the norm...   :-(

Dad & I on Father's Day 
We celebrated Father's Day with dinner at Ottos Pizzeria at the Venetian.  My pasta was smothered in a butter sauce that would have sent my stomach into orbit so I think I only managed 2 or 3 bites.  Desperate times call desperate measures, and Dad and I had our "second dinner" a couple hours later at Cheesecake Factor.  Appetizers for all!

The little bro & I at the Bellagio.  I still find it hard to not have current pictures of Mother, 
but since I almost always wear my hummingbird necklace I suppose part of her is there in spirit. 

The boys & I!  What am I going to do with these two?!  
(and for the record, Mr. Beatles can whip up an awesome afternoon adult beverage...)

I love color!  And flowers! And carousels!  I found all three at the Wynn.  So beautiful.

More flowers at the Aria. 

I'm usually such a goody-two-shoes, but I broke my rule and took a picture of the 
Mystere stage at the end of the show. Everyone else was doing it...

We bought last minutes tickets for the 9:30 showing...perhaps not the best time for me because I was definitely fading by 10:30.

Awesome art show at the Bellagio featuring art painted by or of women.  (also 
confirmed I'm a total sucker for all things impressionist. I can seriously stare at those pieces for hours.) 


Saturday, May 24, 2014

a day in the life of the creatively uninspired

A friend of mine is expecting a baby in August, and I'm helping with her shower.  I volunteered to be in charge of the games and thought it would be fun to make the prizes instead of buying something.  Three weeks ago this seemed like a brilliant plan.  I went to a stamping party with my BFF, ordered lots of new supplies, and left feeling creatively inspired.  My plan was to make note cards with five cards in each forward to present day.  We're now T-minus two weeks to the shower, I just got the supplies, and I pretty much have no time to make the note cards!  In typical fashion, I way over planned my three-day weekend, leave next Friday for a 4-day trip to NorCal for my cousin's wedding, and literally every night this week is booked. :-/ In an effort to make every minute count, I took a few minutes this morning to start planning the cards and later in the day managed to get 4 cards done in an hour-and-a-half.  Not my greatest track record ever, but it's a start.  Here's a look at what I've done so far.

I seem to craft best on the floor...and can make quite the mess!  
I like to watch TV while I work, and this go around I'm watching one of my 
favorite British series, Inspector Lewis. 

I'm a sucker for detail, and nothing says 'finishing touch' like an envelope liner.

I'm going for a variation on a theme.  Pansies, hearts, and chevrons are in!

Four down...6 more to go.  Now that I have a few established designs, 
I'm hoping to use the same pattern but change the colors.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

a mother is

My aunt shared this with me today, and I thought it was definitely worth passing on.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

i've grown accustomed to her face

For some reason this song popped into my head tonight and led me to think about the people who move in and out of our lives who we are no longer accustomed to.  And that led me to Mother.  How is it a person can spend twenty-eight years of their life with someone and almost without their realizing it, they vanish from the day-to-day?  When someone you love dies you’re supposed to expect to see them walk around the corner, right?  Or you pick up the phone to call them and suddenly remember you can’t.  Or what about the one where you wake up and for a few heavenly seconds you forget about reality?  I never experienced this. Reality was my ever present sidekick from day one.  After Mother died I never expected to physically see her in the house, never thought she’d walk around the corner, and, except for one time, never picked up my phone to call her.  So, how can I, her daughter, who was more than accustomed to her presence, have allowed this to happen so quickly?  How did she disappear from my life? I know there are theories galore about this topic, and being a student of memory, I can offer a few of my own, but it’s different when one’s life is the clinical trial. Everything happened so quickly and with a loss of speech, paralysis, and then inability to take care of herself, I suppose my reaction was inevitable.  Mother’s role in the family was lost the day she was diagnosed with cancer.  She took her last steps mid-December so when she died two months later I was accustomed to her not walking around.  Speech was touch and go from day one.  Phone calls became the rarity and then non-existent.  I became the caretaker, and she became the patient.  When she died my brain was used to this ‘new normal.’ 

I wrote this the other night before going to bed. I knew if I didn’t take time to commit my thoughts to paper (or in this case, my computer) these ideas would roll round and round in my head, and I would never fall asleep.  For me grief is a very private emotion.  I rarely talk about it in a public forum, preferring to share my deepest thoughts and feelings with a trusted few, but every once in a while I feel compelled to be real and honest and reveal that part of myself.  Because while grief no longer overtakes my life, it will always be part of me, and I’m learning it’s okay to acknowledge it, even live in it for a while.  So why share this?  Why now?  Honestly, I have no idea.  It just seemed right.  Transparency isn’t a trait I embrace often on my blog, but I’m learning it’s okay to just be me.  It’s okay to question and feel sad and, sometimes, mad at this crappy card life dealt.  It’s okay to for people to know everything is not all right, and while I’m finally able to ‘move on’ with life, there are seasons when I miss my mama more than others.  Sharing life’s ups and downs doesn’t make me less of a person or mean I’m somehow compromising a part of myself.  Rather, it’s the opposite. It’s natural.  It’s me.  And it’s okay for people to know that. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014