Thursday, September 24, 2009

a quick note...

I know I haven't posted in a few days but I wanted to pop in real quick-- and I mean real quick-- to say that you may not hear much from me for the next few days. Why, you ask? Well, in just a few hours time I will be boarding a plane to Canada! Actually, I will be flying out of LAX to San Fran for a short layover before continuing on my journey to Victoria, British Columbia. One of my good friends from college, Brittany, is getting married this weekend and no matter what the distance (or cost), I wouldn't miss it for the world. I am so excited to see her since it has been far far too long!

I will be staying at the lovely Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites, which, not surprisingly, is right on the harbor in downtown Victoria.

To top it off, the wedding is taking place at a castle-- Hatley Castle. How romantic, right? Like I said, I am very excited!

Now I must rush off and finish getting ready. It is literally 4:45 in the morning and I have had no sleep but, yes, I still have a few things to pack. I hope I will be able to check in while I am away but if not, I hope you have a great weekend! 

Oh, and if you want to see the most adorable engagement photos ever (I admit, I might be a bit biased), click here.

I'm off!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Spa Day

Yesterday, my mother and I pampered our footsies with an afternoon at the spa. Some of you may remember that my dad and I got my mom an "ultimate" pedicure at Coldwater Creek The Spa for Mother's Day. Well, my mom enjoyed it so much, she decided she wanted to get one again-- and this time take me along, too! How could I say no?

I knew the spa's "ultimate" 80-minute pedicure was special, but I didn't remember all that it entailed. But oh my, was it a luxurious experience. I have never been so pampered! We were taken to a back room where we were told to sit in these comfy, reclining chairs that were backed with pillows. The nail therapists, Kris and Kim, put heated wraps around our necks, tilted back our chairs and covered us in white blankets, literally tucking us in. To aid in the relaxation process, we were given eye pillows and aromatherapy oils were brought under our noses.

Then the work on our feet and legs began. At times I felt like laughing, sometimes because I am ticklish, but most times because it all felt a little ridiculous how much my feet were being fussed over! The pedicure was a parade of lotions, scrubs, oils-- even a clay mask! It also included a mini foot and leg massage. Here is the description from the services menu:

A blissful vacation for over-stressed feet. During this therapeutic treatment, your feet are smoothed with an earth-based, mineral-rich sugar exfoliant and warmed with a nourishing, anti-oxidant clay mask. The natural healing properties of our ultra-soothing massage techniques increase circulation and leave your feet feeling wonderfully revived. Following foot buffing, nail grooming and polish, your lower legs and feet are noticeably smoother, with a beautiful satiny gloss. And your toes? More than ready for their close-up.

That last part is particularly true. My toes have never looked so good, and so cute! They are perfectly shaped, perfectly polished, smooth and shiny-- definitely a step up from my at-home pedicures. The color is very fall: a deep purple with a hint of burgundy.

Now, if you are looking to catch up with your girlfriends-- or your mother, whatever the case may be-- this is not the right venue. The eye pillow, the aromatherapy, the soothing music, it is all designed to create a relaxing experience where talking is kept to a minimum. The nail therapists only talk to you, in a low voice, at the very beginning of the service to ask what temperature water you want, what color polish, if you'd like the nails trimmed or just filed, etc... They don't utter another word until you are all done and prettified!

Since we couldn't catch up at the spa, my mom and I went out for lunch at one of our favorite spots: Souplantation. Not so fancy, but yummy nonetheless. Though, we both ate way too much! (Buffets have a way of doing that to you. At least it was salad and soup, right? Ok, ok, it was soft-serve ice cream over a brownie, too.) With our bellies stuffed we hugged goodbye. It was a very nice mother-daughter day, one I hope to do again soon! (And though I already told her this, I want to say it again since I know she is reading this, Thanks so much mom for a fabulous day!) 

The only "downside" is that, after that experience, I think I am spoiled for life. I don't think I can ever suffer to polish my own toes again!

So, when's the last time you were pampered? And do you always go to a spa or salon to get your nails done?

Hope you are having a great Saturday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Remembering Sept. 12, 2008

This post is a few days late, but I wanted to post about it anyway.

On Saturday, I attended the dedication of the Metrolink Memorial Plaza in Simi Valley. On Sept. 12, 2008, a Metrolink passenger train bound for Simi and Moorpark collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth. The crash left 25 dead, including 10 Simi residents, and more than 135 injured. Some of you may remember this as it was all over the news after it happened.

The crash sent shock waves through the community, because even though Simi is a city of more than 125,000 people, it still has a small town feel. I think it's safe to say the tragedy was felt by all. Even if you didn't know someone on the train, you knew someone who knew someone who was on the train.

The accident happened on a Friday meaning that my weekly community newspaper was not able to put out any coverage on the crash until the following Friday. A colleague of mine wrote an overall story about the crash and its effect on the community. I wrote a story about Spree DeSha, an LAPD officer who was killed in the collision-- she always rode in the front car, in uniform. Interviewing her parents and life partner at the North Hollywood police station in the days after the crash and subsequently writing the story was an emotional experience for me. I thought about Spree and her family for a long time after that. Longer than I normally dwell on the subjects of my stories. See, even though I didn't personally know anyone on the Metrolink 111 train that day, in the course of my interviews, the accident became very personal.

It was decided quickly after the crash that the community wanted a memorial to remember those who died. In the months that followed, I attended many workshops and city council meetings related to the construction of this memorial, and wrote many more stories. Despite the (financial) obstacles, the city met its deadline-- one called for by the community-- of completing and dedicating the memorial on the first anniversary of the crash.

Hundreds of people came out for the occasion on Saturday. I attended the event with my editor; we were representing the paper but I was also there to write a story for this week's issue. The memorial plaza looked beautiful, just as it was envisioned. The ceremony was moving, reflective, hopeful. 

While taking notes kept my mind busy, at times I found myself where I was a year ago when talking to Spree's parents-- fighting back tears. I got especially choked up while talking to a girl my age who lost her father in the crash. Seeing her cry and talk about her pain brought tears to my own eyes because, though I didn't tell her this, I know how she feels. And yet, it was comforting to both her and I to see the memorial complete, to see the large number of residents that gathered to support the families of the victims as well as the survivors, and to literally feel the love as the community wrapped its arms around its own.

It's days like Saturday that make me proud to call Simi home.

In reverent memory of those who perished
in the September 12, 2008
Metrolink Train Disaster,
with hope and encouragement
for those who survived,
and with gratitude to the
first responders for their heroism
and compassion

Sunday, September 13, 2009

things that made me smile this week...

We had a pretty good Sunday. It started with sleeping in. Then, I made the boy and I a late breakfast of eggs (scrambled for him, over easy for me), bacon, sourdough toast and banana slices. Which was followed by watching football for a few hours. I really didn't have much of a say in the matter! But did you see the amazing catch and 87-yard touchdown run by Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley? Being in the proverbial "right place, right time" to catch that deflected ball led the Broncos to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 12-7. I'm not exactly a huge football fan, but it was a pretty exciting moment to watch. If you missed it, watch it here.

Anyway, we eventually got off the couch and went to check out Simi Valley Days, our annual hometown fair. I hadn't been in years but I wrote a story about it for the paper last week and felt like I should go make an appearance and see how the new location in the park was working out. But we ended up not staying long. Unfortunately, it wasn't as fun as I remember it being. Granted, it's really aimed more toward young kids. And the boy's stomach can't handle the rides' spins and loop-de-loops, so that was a no-go.

But we did have fun trying to win a goldfish by tossing ping pong balls into tiny fishbowls, which, of course, was impossible. And I had tons of fun beating the boy at the game where you try to pop half-blown-up balloons with darts. Even though I am no good at darts and he is actually pretty good at darts, I kicked his butt! I hit 3 out of 4 and he just got 2. He was shocked and so was I! For my efforts, I took home a "Care Bear" stuffed animal. I use the quotes because it's a knock off-- kind of like a Prado-- but it's cute nonetheless and my symbol of victory.

I then convinced the boy to grab a cup of Tutu's shave ice, which is the real deal, none of this snow cone crunchy ice. This melts in your mouth like shave ice should. We got Tiger's Blood, a mix of fruit punch and coconut. It really hit the spot considering how hot it was outside.

On our way out we went back through merchant alley, where we heard Mishavonna perform an acoustic set. While the band did sound check the boy and I stood off to the side and tried to figure out why she looked so familiar. We soon found out: she was on the last season of American Idol! I actually really liked her voice and music (you can hear her latest single, "My Cowboy," on her myspace), but what I liked even more was her blue acoustic guitar, the sight of which made me green with envy. I have always wanted to learn how to play guitar and I have always wanted a blue guitar! Bestill, my heart.

See what I mean? How can you not love that guitar?

While listening to her play, I browsed a nearby merchant booth selling books for $5 and came across a table filled with old, beautiful hardcover books. I fell in love instantly and scooped up four within the course of probably two songs (I think I am realizing why I am broke!). I couldn't resist though, and this was a case where I definitely judged the book by its cover. To be honest, I don't even really know what some of these books are about, but their covers were just so gorgeous and special and they just don't make them like this anymore, you know? The spines are fragile, the paper is browned with age and they smell dusty, like a library. I kind of feel like I bought art... for $5 each no less. I am sure once you look at the photos below you will understand.

The Poems of Edmund Spenser [Selected]. This one is my favorite. I adore the birds in the illustration and the gold behind the poet's name. It was published in 1886 by Walter Scott. It's funny, there is a "List of New Books" in the back and one ad reads "The Canterbury Poets, NOW READY, PRICE ONE SHILLING, SONNETS OF THIS CENTURY," which includes sonnets by Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning and "all the Best Writers of the Century."

Here's the other three. I haven't explored them much yet. The titles (top to bottom) are: Little Classics, Volume 5, Laughter (published in 1875, this includes A Christmas Carol); The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: A Book for an Idle Holiday by Jerome K. Jerome (there's a really funny dedication to the author's "very dear and well-beloved friend," his "oldest and strongest Pipe"); and Camille by Alexandre Dumas, Jr. (the book features a few illustrations as well as a a black-and-white photo of the mustached author himself).

After swiping my card, the boy dragged me out of the fair so I couldn't do anymore damage to my bank account and, most importantly, he was hungry. We had a yummy lunch at BJ's in Westlake Village and then stopped by the Cost Plus World Market across the street where I became enamored with the Italian food aisle. After filling a shopping basket with squash ravioli, sun-dried tomato and oregano tortellonis, pesto-filled mezzalunas and two kinds of gnocchi (among other things, like red raspberry scone mix--luckily the boy paid for all this), we finally made the drive back home, where little Hazel was waiting for a walk.

So, like I said, it was a good Sunday.

Here's a few other things that made me smile this week:
  • Compliments on my necklace from a stranger and a co-worker.
  • Spending a little time with my mom, pop and brother.
  • Talking on the phone to my Uncle Lars, Aunt Jan and cousin Kai-- family that I haven't spoken to in far too long but still love dearly. Side note: I may be visiting them in Loomis (near Sacramento) for Thanksgiving. We'll see!
  • Lindt hazelnut chocolate.
  • Your super sweet feedback on my blog's new look. Thank you, thank you!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend too! Tell me, what little thing made you smile this week?

Mishavonna and her guitar image via myspace


I have been wanting to dress up my little blog for awhile now, and I finally did it! So, what do you think? I absolutely adore my new banner, which is by Beautify My Blog. After installing it, I messed around with fonts and colors for at least an hour, going back and forth, back and forth... I'm so indecisive! If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

And let me take a moment to just say to all those who read my blogthank you. I really appreciate it and I love reading every comment you write me. Each new note brightens my day and many of you I have come to consider friends even though we haven't met "in real life." And I love getting to take a peek into your lives too through all your lovely blogs. Isn't blogland grand? Since starting The Lovely Dove in January, I have definitely come to think so.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

P.S. If you wish you had a signature like the one above, check out My Live Signature. It's free and really easy! 

Friday, September 11, 2009

I remember...

I remember my mom driving me to school Sept. 11, 2001, and hearing on the radio that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t even know what the Twin Towers were back then.

I remember sitting in my history class, in shock and horror as I watched the images play over and over on TV. When the towers fell, my stomach dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, that someone could do something so horrible to innocent people. And I wondered what was next.

I remember crying for the people who died, for the people who survived, for the people who witnessed the tragedy first handthose who rushed in and those who stood by in the smoke and debris, feeling utterly helpless. Having lost my brother just four months before, I knew exactly how it felt to lose someone you loved so suddenly and tragically.

I remember seeing the country pull together in the aftermath and being amazed by how much patriotism and kindness can grow out of such pain. I never saw so many flags in my life. They were on every car window and outside every home.

I remember today that freedom isn’t free. I am grateful for the men and women unselfishly serving in the U.S. military and risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect those freedoms that we too often take for granted. Their sacrifice, and their families’ sacrifice, does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.


Tonight, I attended the 4th annual Freedom Walk at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. I was covering the event for the paper. It was so wonderful to see that, even after eight years, people do still care and they do remember. And that they continue to support the troops, no matter what they think of the war. It was also amazing to see that of the hundreds who came out to walk, many of those were kids who were just toddlers when 9/11 hit. In talking to them, I was happy to see that even though they did not understand the magnitude of the tragedy when it happened, they understand it now. Their parents and teachers have done a good job teaching them and because of it, they realize the significance of the day and that it is not something to be forgotten.

Even though time heals, you never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Money matters

I had to buy Starbucks on my credit card today.

I did it because I was starving and we had hardly any food in the fridge. But it's a good thing I checked my account balance before pulling through the drive-thru down the street. Turns out, my rent check made me go into the red, by $9.80. Which I realize is not that bad and luckily the bank automatically refunded me the overdraft fee, but still. 

Paychecks came out today, so upon seeing my checking account in the negative, I hopped in the car and raced to the officewith Hazel in towto pick it up. After depositing it in my bank, I made the Starbucks run. But just to be on the safe side, I used my credit card instead of my debit.

Instances like this have got me thinking a lot lately about money, or more specifically, my lack thereof.

Growing up, my family was middle class. Some might have even considered us upper-middle class. Either way, we were pretty well off. My parents were able to buy new cars when they needed to. They sent my brother and me to summer camps at private schools, paid for me to take gymnastics and dance lessons, kept my brother appeased with the latest in video gaming technology. We always had big Christmases and birthdays and took summer vacations every year.

Even when my mom quit working (read: lost her job when her company moved and we couldn’t sell the house) when I was in 6th grade, we still lived comfortably. Though we were told that Santa Claus might not bring us as many toys as in years past (to which we replied, much to my mother’s dismay, the jig is up. We know Santa ain’t real), Christmas morning really didn’t suffer that much. But when I was a senior in high school, things got a bit rough. My dad lost his job. And here I was looking to go to college at not-so-cheap universities. In fact, I ended up attending one of the most expensive colleges around (Pepperdine’s tuition costs more than many Ivy League schools). I am extremely grateful to my parents that they allowed me to go to the school of my choice despite the financial hardship my family was experiencing. I don’t think they knew it would be four years until my dad would get another job, or that I would receive zilch in financial aid from Pepperdine or the government. But it didn’t matter. That’s how much they love me. To be honest, the situation makes me feel a bit guilty, all the loans they had to take on for me to get an education, but I am literally forever in their debt (and my own).

Even with my dad’s new job, which he had for the last three years or so, things were a bit tight. And then, the recession hit. And my dad got laid off. Again. Though my mom is working, being a manager at Starbucks doesn’t pay much. The reason I am thinking about all this is because I am now in my own financial crisis. Living on my own, paying my own way, being an adult—it’s hard, even without the national economy in the toilet. But I can no longer turn to my parents for help because we are in the same boat. It is one of those moments where you realize, wow, I really am an adult now. You are talking on the phone with your mom, complaining about having to pay bills and rent and that you don’t make enough money and your mom says, “Me too.”

Sure, they would find a way to help me if I really needed it and was desperate enough to ask. And if we go out to eat, they’ll pick up the tab. But they can’t afford to buy me a new car when my current one breaks down for good (which it will surely do in the near future).

I have never been that good with money. Not to say I am unable to handle my finances but I have been known to miss a credit card payment or two. I don’t follow the stock market, I don’t balance my check book, I don’t organize my receipts, I don’t have a savings accountthough not for lack of wanting one, but simply because there is nothing to save. Sometimes money seems to fly out of my wallet! (Do you ever get that feeling?) But really, I didn’t worry too much about all this before. And yet now it seems like all I can think about is money money money. And how I went from being middle-class to living in a state of perpetual poverty, practically paycheck to paycheck (this week especially!). 

Perhaps that is not so uncommon for a 20-something just out of college. My question though is, when will things change? When will I again feel like, OK, I don’t have to worry about money? Is that even possible if you are not Donald Trump? I guess what I am saying is my fiscal future looks pretty bleak (Yoo hoo, raise? Where are you??). The optimist in me says, you’re fine, everything will work out. The realist in me sees the expenses mountinglike, how am I going to pay for the trip to Canada that I'm taking in two weeks for a friend's wedding?and wants to run and hide. AKA, move home where the room and board are free.

Please forgive the ramblings, but this is just what’s on my mind. I am thinking some of you can relate to these thoughts running through my head… Let’s commiserate together.

What did Notorious B.I.G. say? “Mo money, mo problems?” Hmm, I don’t know about that, Biggie. I think I am more inclined to agree with Fergie: “If you ain’t got no money take your broke ass home!”

But I agree with Coco Chanel too. "There are people who have money and people who are rich." But wouldn't it be nice to have both?

All images via weheartit

I know you love it

More photos from the SATC sequel!

Do you remember this Christian Dior newsprint dress from Season 3? I do! And it still looks amazing... a testament to the longevity of seriously great style. So cool that they are "reviving" some of the old wardrobe pieces again-- I loved the scene in the first movie when Carrie is modeling all her former fashions before packing them up to move! 

The fabulous, fierce foursome. I know it's crazy, but I feel like these girls are my friends and I am so glad to see them back together! But I know you die-hard SATC fans understand.

See more photos here.

So glad the week is coming to an end. Short weeks are definitely not my friend. I've been busy busy busy trying to squeeze a week's worth of work into four days. Despite my lack of sleep and free time, I just had to post these photos so I hope you enjoy. Now, off to the blotter! Hope you are all having a great Thursday!

Monday, September 7, 2009

things that made me smile this week... the late late edition

I know it's Monday and I know it's almost midnight, but I am still calling it the weekend. I hope everyone had a great weekend, and for those of you in the U.S., a great long Labor Day weekend!

Here's some things that made me smile this week:

1. Making this sandwich

I took the leftover chicken breast in our fridge, chopped it up, mixed in some salt, pepper, mayo and a handful of dried cranberries, and wa-la! A delicious lunch! I added some fresh greens, a drizzle of mustard and I even toasted the bread. I felt so chef-tastic. I even texted the boy to let him know. He responded with "Julia Childs." Haha, yes, I was very proud of my culinary endeavor that afternoon.

2. Catching up on all the blog posts I missed while on my vay-cay.

3. Browsing the fabulous jewelry in Rachel's newly reopened Etsy shop, Elephantine.

"the lightness" is my fave.
4. Eating banana fro yo, twice this week. Yum yum.

5. Taking Hazel to the dog park, also twice. That place is like Disneyland for her! She is so funny when she chases other pups too. She tries so hard!

This obviously isn't at the dog park, this is just Hazel with her beloved Kong. But isn't she cute?

6. Eggs for breakfast. Also twice this week! Eek, is that bad? The first time, I tried making a fried egg. It went pretty well for my first attempt. I unskillfully but still successfully flipped it overI guess that means they were over easy. Anyhow, it was good. The second time was regular old scrambled because I was sharing with the boy and that's the only way he likes his eggs. But that's fine with me. I love breakfast. This recipe for sweet potato hash looks especially good.

7. Finally seeing Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince. I know, I'm like the last one. But there were some other people in the theater, really!

They all looked so grown up in the movie! So much "snogging" going on too :) Doesn't Emma Watson look gorgeous in this photo?

8. A lazy three-day weekend. Which also means, sleeping in really late.

9. The very sweet Tiffany over at Confessions of a Chicago Girl for giving me the Over The Top blog award but more importantly, for her kind and encouraging words. It amazes me how wonderfully supportive complete strangers can be. But then again, for many of the bloggers I tune into, I don't feel like we really are complete strangers. Know what I mean?

With the award comes this Q&A. Here's the rules: USE ONLY ONE WORD! It’s not as easy as you might think. Copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It’s really hard to use only one-word answers.

1. Where is your cell phone? purse

2. Your hair? brownish

3. Your mother? loving

4. Your father? supportive

5. Your favorite food? Italian

6. Your dream last night? craziness!

7. Your favorite drink? lemonade

8. Your dream/goal? happiness

9. What room are you in? living

10. Your hobby? blogging? :)

11. Your fear? loneliness

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? fulfilled

13. Where were you last night? home

14. Something that you aren’t? assertive

15. Muffins? banana nut!

16. Wish list item? genie in a bottle, bottomless bank account (oops, I cheated)

17. Where did you grow up? Simi

18. Last thing you did? blog!

19. What are you wearing? boy's pjs

20. Your TV? big and expensive! (I don't really get this question though...)

21. Your pets? Hazel

22. Friends? smiles

23. Your life? complicated

24. Your mood? stressed/tired

25. Missing someone? Marielle

26. Vehicle? Chevy

27. Something you’re not wearing? shoes

28. Your favorite store? Anthropologie

29. Your favorite color? yellow

30. When was the last time you laughed? tonight

31. Last time you cried? can't remember

32. Your best friend? Marielle

33. One place that I go to over and over? starbucks :)

34. One person who emails me regularly? editor

35. Favorite place to eat? Cheesecake Factory (this answer changes by the minute though!)

I tried my best to only use one word but it really was hard for some questions! But now for the really difficult part. Passing it on. I am going to give this award to three lovely bloggers that have become daily reads for me because of their candor and humor and... because they make me smile!

1. Bethany, of Rinse. Repeat.
2. the cute and happy couple, Jonathan & Tiffany

Oh, it really is so hard to choose just three. You guys don't even know how long that took me. Really, I heart everyone on my blog roll! So if you're bored and need a meme, feel free to grab the one above. I won't tell :)

I wish everyone a fabulous week ahead!

Edit: I had to add the Harry Potter photo because I forget to upload it last night and it has been sitting on my desktop for, like, a month. And I love Emma Watson's outfit too much not to share it. The image is from one of the film's premieres. Credit is via Yahoo! Movies but the link to the story it is from doesn't work anymore...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hello, fabulous

I am so excited. The sequel to Sex and the City: The Movie has begun filming! Shooting for "Part Deux" started this week on the streets of Manhattan and so far the fashion doesn't disappoint. Check out SPJ, aka Carrie Bradshaw, rocking a white Halston dress, a gold Chanel clutch and ah-mazing Louboutin "Pigalle" pumps that I would kill to have in my closet. Also battling for my undying affection is that sparkly, chunky necklace.

This outfit is summery and chic at the same time and looks so comfortablenow if only I could afford it! It seems the recession has not stopped Carrie one bit from looking oh-so-fabulous.

Later, Carrie slipped into a shimmering blue dress with funky accessories: orange framed sunglasses and fun T-strap heels (that I read are also Louboutin).

In another scene, Carrie channeled the 80s wearing an off-the-shoulder, inside-out sweatshirta al Flashdancewhite skinny jeans and Converse. This isn't my favorite look but I am glad that this second installment of SATC on the big screen is going to give fans like myself a glimpse into when Carrie first arrived in the Big Apple. I love a good backstory, even if it does come with frizzy hair!

The only sad part is... the movie won't be released until May 28 of next year! 2010 people! So many months (nine, to be exact) to wait to see all my fabulous and funny friends back together but I know it will be worth it. At least we have these pics (and these) to tide us over.

In other fashion news, I am totally coveting these tweed flower pumps by White House Black Market

They are 88 bucks but the catalog I recently drooled over has a $20 coupon for purchases over $80. So really, they are $68! Still, I don't know if I should shell out the money since I am not too sure they go with much of my wardrobe. And the 4 inch heels would make me an Amazon woman. But wouldn't they be cute to wear with fall dresses and tights?

Top image via omg! on Yahoo!
Tweed Flower pumps image via White House Black Market (cropped)

P.S. I know the last post was a bit of a downer, so hopefully this was more cheery!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Moments in reading

Note: I wrote this post about two weeks or so ago, but didn’t get to posting it until today. I’ll blame it on the vacation… but really, I was debating back and forth if I really wanted to be this honest. Oh, well, here goes...

Have you ever read a passage in a book that seemed to completely define where you are in your life at. this. very. moment?

That is what happened to me the other night. Bored with baseball, I decided to make good on my promise to myself to read more books. I picked up a memoir that I have been “reading” for quite some time. More accurately, I brushed the dust off a memoir that I was reading months ago but had neglected for quite some time.

(I am slightly ashamed to admit that the memoir I am referring to is Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am ashamed because I wrote about my needing to get back to the book in April! My seeming inability to finish the 331-page book is in no way a reflection of its merit. I really do love the book, so far. Full disclosure: I have read to page 119.)

Anyway, I flipped through the pages and opened up to where I bookmarked: Chapter 28. As I began to read, my heart swelled and at the same time, a lump developed in my throat. She is talking about me, I thought. Wait. No. She is talking about herself, but it might as well be me. Maybe its not the exact same situation but it is the exact same feelings. Which, in my book—pun kind of intended—matters more.

From pages 83-84:

“There’s a constant level of closeness that I really need from the person I love . . . But it just destroys me to not be able to count on that affection when I need it.”

". . . but who amongst us lives without sacrifice?

And the question now for me is, What are my choices to be? What do I believe that I deserve in this life? Where can I accept sacrifice, and where can I not? It has been so hard for me to imagine living a life without David in it . . . But how can I accept that bliss when it comes with this dark underside—bone-crushing isolation, corrosive insecurity, insidious resentment and, of course, the complete dismantling of self that inevitably occurs when David ceases to giveth, and commences to taketh away. I can’t do it anymore. Something about my recent joy in Naples has made me certain that I not only can find happiness without David, but must. No matter how much I love him (and I do love him, in stupid excess), I have to say good-bye to this person now. And I have to make it stick.” 

This experience of self-identification in the words of another has just reinforced what I have known all along. Read more. Books, that is.  Somehow, it makes me feel less alone. More understood. Happier even, to see my life mirrored in someone else’s, to know someone else has walked where I now stand and somehow made it through. And that today, they are better for it.

For me, reading those few pages was like talking to a best friend who knows exactly how I feel and what to say. Kind of like Liz and her Italian-language tutor, Giovanni, who upon seeing Liz break down in tears after breaking up with David says in perfect English: “I understand, Liz. I have been there.”

Quote via Design Crush

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the Vacation Recap*

Last Tuesday began my very first paid vacation as a working girl. As many of you know, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my six days off since I was, and still am, low on funds. As luck would have it, one of the members at the golf course my boyfriend works at owns a cute little cabin in Big Bear Lake and offered to let us stay there, for free.

Unfortunately, the serious and painful sunburn I received from my day at the air show slowed me down a bit at the start of my vay-cay, and for that reason we didn't head up to the mountains until Thursday morning.

Not all was lost those first two days off work. Tuesday I enjoyed being lazy, my chest slathered in aloe, and Wednesday night the boy and I went out for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, followed by a walk around the mall (where I swooned over pretty things at Anthropologie) and some amazing gelato, followed by Julie & Julia. Which was pretty amazing as well. The boy was skeptical and gave me side glances at every mention of blogging, but I think he came around toward the end. As everyone else has said, Meryl Streep was fantastic and funny and fabulous. The movie left me with a newfound love for Julia Child and a newfound desire to go to Paris immediately, if only for the tantalizing cuisine.

Anyway, Thursday morning we were off to the mountains. Big Bear Lake is a pretty sleepy town but we took advantage of most every activity we could that didn't involve renting a boat or me putting on a bathing suit (bad sunburn = no sun exposure!). Here's a rundown of what we did:

  • Played a round of putt-putt golf at a rundown miniature golf course called The Hot Shot. The fact that the greens were held together with duck tape, pine needles acted as hazards and Cher was playing through the speakers made the game that much more funand hilarious.
  • Went cosmic bowling at the Bowling Barn and kicked the boy's butt in the first game with a score of 140 (I got two strikes in the 10th frame!). Unfortunately, I must admit that my skills went downhill from there and the boy beat me in the next two games. Still, I'll always have 140 to 114. Boo yah!
  • Window-shopped the kitschy boutiques at The Village. Found it easy to resist the urge to buy woodsy souvenirs.
  • Took a scenic drive around the lake and through the town of Fawnskin, taking in the sights.
  • Introduced Hazel to the lakeshore. She loved it. So much so she became fearless and wanted to jump into the cool blue water from a pier!
  • Climbed a mountain. Yes, you read that right. We hiked the Cougar Crest trail. We didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into. We were told it wasn't that difficult and that it had amazing views. The second part of that statement proved true. But it was challenging because it is all uphill, and steep, rocky hills at that. It took us two and a half hours to complete the 5-mile roundtrip trek but the feeling we had when we reached the top was worth the huffing and puffing!
  • Went for lots and lots of walks with Hazel. To the park. Along the Alpine Pedal Path, which hugs the lake's shoreline. Oh, and to the grocery store parking lot because it was the closest place to our cabin that had grass for Hazel to go potty at night!
  • Discovered that there is a town called Sugarloaf. Yep. We took Maple Lane to get there. No joke.
  • Caught up on my magazine reading. Well, some of it anyway.
  • Ate tons of yummy food. Finger-licking good barbecue (We shared a combo plate of pulled pork, grilled chicken, creamy coleslaw and honey butter biscuits). Classic Italian fare (I devoured the Paoli pasta, which is a Alfredo-pesto hybrid named after the popular local eatery). Old-fashioned home cooking at the Teddy Bear Restaurant (I dove into a huge, made-from-scratch turkey pot pie). A late night ice cream cone (cookies & cream) and lots of candy.
  • Climbed a mountain. Oh, did I mention that already?
No more words. See for yourself:

The cabin was quaint and homey and completely decked out in Big Bear paraphernalia.

Even though I didn't winI was playing a golf pro after allthis was the best time I have had playing miniature golf. We laughed a lot. 

After putting her paws in the water, Hazel thought the lake was the greatest thing ever. She kept barking at "daddy" while he was fishing because she wanted to go back down to the beach.

Lining up for a strike. The boy and I are very competitive, I learned.

Midway through the hike up Cougar Crest I realized that my water bottle and T-shirt were giving off mixed messages. Oops. Please forgive the awful, baggy shirt. I bought it in the gift shop before the hike to cover my sun-burned chest.

While walking Hazel along the lake we ran into these beautiful horses. Such a lovely sight.

Hazel blazing a trail before we said goodbye to Big Bear and headed down the mountain, back home.

*Also known as, the post with many pictures! But trust me, it was hard narrowing it down to just these!