Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Let's go on a magic carpet ride*

Thanks everyone for all your lovely birthday wishes yesterday! Each one made me smile and brightened my day. You guys are the best!

And aside from work, my "ho-hum" birthday wasn’t all that bad. Around noon, my dad and brother picked me up for lunch. We went to the one place we can all agree on, a local Mexican restaurant, Don Cuco’s. I got my usual: a tamale, a la carte, with a cup of Albondigas soup and a side of sour cream. No strawberry margarita this time (I thought it was a little too early to be a lush) but we did end on a sweet and oh-so-naughty note with a dish of fried ice cream (seriously, who comes up with these things?). So no cake after all, but definitely some dessert. And calories don’t count on your birthday, right? Right.

After that it was back to work. But around 8:30 I decided to call it quits, give the fingers a break from the keyboard, and the boy and I went to see a late night movie. We saw “She’s Out of My League” and it was hilarious! I absolutely loved it. If you’ve ever wondered, what makes Carissa laugh? (not that you would wonder that, but if you did) this is it. It is hard to make me LOL—I’m not as easily tickled by the stupid, crude humor some of my friends find funny—but this movie made me tee-hee and guffaw more than once. (And the rest of the audience, all 10 people, laughed along with us!)

I loved the banter between the four best buddies... the dysfunctional family dinner scene... the chubby friend with the Disney movie references... the array of belted dresses worn by the hot-but-still-likable, never bitchy, leading lady (played by newcomer Alice Eve, who I just read will be in SATC 2!)... and, of course, who can't love the skinny-yet-adorable Jay Baruchel? Plus, even the soundtrack was good! So if you’re looking for a movie to see, I’d definitely recommend “She’s Out of My League.” I might even come along with you for a second viewing!

So tell me, how is your week going? And have you seen any good movies lately? (This one was the first I've seen since "Avatar"-- I obviously haven't been making it to the theater often!)


*Those who saw the movie will (hopefully) get this post's title. Gosh, I loved that guy!

Images via "She's Out of My League" official website

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another day, another year

Today is my birthday. I'm now officially old. Twenty-five that is.

No big plans today. Just lots of work to do. Though my dad called me up yesterday to see if he could take me to lunch today. A very pleasant surprise so that's what I'll be doing in about an hour, and then it's back to work. Tuesdays are not good days to have birthdays, especially for me-- it's deadline day!

Since 25 is kind of a big deal, I had wished my birthday would be something more. I had hoped to take a vacation this week, but work to-dos piled up, a copy editor is out of town and I was simply told that I could not take this week off. Though, with any luck, I will get to take a belated and much-needed R&R time next month.

Till then, a ho-hum birthday will have to suffice. I guess it's true what they say: as you grow older, birthdays just become another day on the calendar. Another day, another year.

At least it gives me a good excuse to eat cake.

P.S. My birthday did come a bit early this year. Yesterday afternoon I opened my mail and to my delight there was a package from the lovely and super sweet Erin of Pughs' News. I recently won her first-ever giveaway-- a prize which contained all things daisy-related. Daisy stickers, daisy stationary, daisy chocolates and even daisy seeds to plant! So cute! Check out a photo below. Hazel liked it, too.

Thanks, Erin! Your package and kind note really brought a smile to my face.

Images via we heart it, here and here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Love Walked In

Last night I did something that I haven't done in a long while: I read a book! As the boys were playing their MLB video game, I glanced over to my poor, dusty, forgotten bookshelf and thought, hey, I could be reading a book right now. So I waltzed over, perused the titles and picked one. I almost went for Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," but then I spied "Love Walked In" hiding behind a picture frame.

Written by Marisa de los Santos, it is the award-winning poet's first novel (She has a second now, called "Belong To Me") and I have only heard great things about it. Even Sarah Jessica Parker* gives it a thumbs up; a quote from her on the back of the book calls "Love Walked In" "exquisite and stylish," saying it "proves that love in all forms-- romantic, friendship, familial-- is all around us." Now you can see why I picked this book, huh?

I myself don't have many opinions on the book just yet-- I have only just begun to crack its spine as I passed out about 40 minutes into reading (In my defense, I started reading around midnight!). But if you've read "Love Walked In," I'd love to hear what you thought-- without giving anything away, of course!

Also, what books are you reading currently, or just finished up? I'm always adding new titles to my "must read" list-- even if it is difficult to find the time to read them! Here's hoping I actually finish this one... (you longtime readers know I have trouble with that!)

Hope you are having a happy Monday!

*As I browsed the "Love Walked In" site I discovered that Paramount Pictures is turning the book into a movie and that SJP is set to star! Love it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sport meets Fashion

It might be un-American to say this, but I'm not a big baseball fan. Sure, going to games can be fun because, well, there's beer and hot dogs involved. But I'm not one to tune in at home, unless forced by a remote-wielding boyfriend. I don't track the team stats or follow the players. Heck, I don't even know the names of most of the teams! (Today, I asked the boy what state the Royals are from. I was told to look at the score box on the screen. I saw KC and determined the answer: Kansas City.)

The worst part-- and this goes for any sport-- is the life-sucking fantasy leagues. Just the other day, the boy picked his fantasy baseball team. I asked what he was doing and all I could do was answer his reply with a sigh. Here we go again. Even as I type this, he is on the phone talking to who-knows-who about what else? Fantasy. And let's not forget to mention that there's a basketball game on TV right now.

Despite all this, sports is something I can get behind when cute fashion is involved. Enter Victoria's Secret's new line: the exclusive PINK Major League Baseball Collection, which is full of three-quarter sleeve shirts and booty shorts baring, oops, bearing the names of 11 of America's most popular baseball franchises.

Of course, the only two I would sport in the stands are these:

While she is a California girl too, because of her East Coast roots, my best friend would likely wear this:

Uh, oh, I smell a rivalry!

So sports fan or not, tell me, which team would you choose? And do you love Vickie's as much as I do?


P.S. You can see all the styles on PINK's facebook page.

P.P.S. I went to the gym last night! Woo hoo! That's two days in a row people. Two days in a row.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


You know how on Myspace (not that anyone uses that anymore) there's a place where you can select your mood? And a little box drops down full of adjectives to choose from-- that once posted, match up with a cute little emoticon?

Well, if I were to choose my mood tonight, it would be "accomplished." Yes, I had a very successful Sunday. Saturday was pretty good: I took Hazel to the dog park, where I chatted with a cool girl while holding down my dress so the wind wouldn't reveal my Victoria's Secret to the world, and later hit up Border's to satisfy my urge to shop (don't worry, I just picked up two magazines: Self and Women's Health, the latter being a new one to me).

Still, today was a particularly productive day (minus the waking up at 11 a.m. part, ha). Here's the rundown:

  • Went through my towering stack of mail
  • Paid some bills
  • Took care of some bank stuff that needed to be done before the end of the month
  • Applied for a credit card with 0% APR on balance transfers so that I can transfer my massive balance from my Chase card (remember my New Year's resolution?) and actually start paying it off (I have a 29.99% APR right now. Ridiculous. Cross your fingers I get approved!)
  • Dropped off my tax documents with my mom because she's going to do them again this year. Hallelujah! Thanks, mom.
  • Ran some other errands
  • Did my laundry, including my hand wash items. (Such a pain!) I actually still have one more load to do... (Also a pain since my washer thinks hot water is cold water and vice versa)
  • And perhaps the biggest accomplishment of all: Went to the gym! (Also a resolution)

Yep, you read that right. Me. At. The gym. I signed up for a membership with 24 Hour Fitness Wednesday night. I was motivated by the fact that my best friend has a membership and she had wanted me to come with her and take some classes. There was a special going on last week-- hopefully it isn't even lower now, I don't want to look!-- where a one-club access membership costs just $26.99 a month. I figured I could swing that and I'm tired of looking and feeling like a blob.

We (the boy, the roommate and I) were only at the gym for about 50 minutes but we did the elliptical for 20 minutes (I ran 1.7 miles and burned 260 calories) and played basketball the rest of the time. Nothing too intense but I felt the burn and it felt good. I was pumped up leaving the gym!

So yes, I'm feeling mighty accomplished tonight. Let's hope this feeling lasts throughout the week as I tackle all the phone calls, interviews and story writing I have to do in the days ahead.

And, perhaps more importantly, let's hope it gets me back to the gym! (Hold me to it!)

So, did you have a productive weekend? Or did you have a blissfully unproductive weekend? Either way, I'd love to hear!

Image via we heart it

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Huntington

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here is a little greenery for you, courtesy the lushness of The Huntington Library. (Remember, I promised to share with you a handful of pics? Hm, well. There's a bit more than a handful...)

So what are you waiting for?  C'mon! Let's go on a stroll through the gardens... (click photo to see larger!)

Welcome to The Huntington.

Wide open spaces, grassy lawns and leafy trees.

Can you see the Monarch butterfly?

What about the hummingbird? They were dancing around these bushes.

A strong, feminine statue in a breezeway.

Inside the Conservatory-- home to a humid, dewy rain forest.

Pink orchids in the rain forest.

Being enveloped by the "fog" in the Conservatory's cloud forest.

Pretty potted succulents.

The gorgeous Chinese Garden, which features a glistening lake, complex of pavilions, a teahouse and tea shop, five stone bridges and cherry blossom trees. Love cherry blossom trees.

Chinese pavilions make a sweet spot to sit a spell.

The Temple of Love in the shade of a willow tree and the afternoon sunlight.

A drum bridge and its reflection in the stunning Japanese Garden.

All smiles in the Japanese Garden.

Walking through a bamboo forest.

Read closely. I have a plant!

Geese swimming along in a lily pond.

Sunset colors in the Desert Garden.

Watch out for thorns!

So, how did you like this mini tour? There is so much to see and this is just a glimpse. We were there for two and a half hours and we still didn't get to see everything!

We did stop into one gallery-- the Huntington Art Gallery, in fact, which is contained inside the Huntington's San Marino villa. We viewed the mansion's richly decorated rooms-- my favorites being the small and large libraries; I even spied some beautiful, old Jane Austen novels!-- and the French and British art and artifacts housed within.

Still, we spent most of our brief afternoon briskly walking through the botanical gardens and taking in the colorful sights. I absolutely adore the aesthetic of Chinese and Japanese gardens, so I was thrilled to see those. Unfortunately, the Rose Garden was nothing more than rows of spiky branches, so I'd love to go back to The Huntington once spring is in full swing to see all the buds in bloom.

And maybe even enjoy a pot of tea and a basket of scones in the Tea Room. What could be lovelier?

If you're in the area, I would definitely say The Huntington is worth a visit!

P.S. I totally didn't wear green today. I deserve to be pinched!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Out into the sunshine

It's Sunday night and I just want to take a quick moment to say thank you to all those who wrote such sweet words on my last post. You guys are incredibly kind and understanding, and your comments made me feel better... cared for... and, well, normal. So thank you. It's just nice to know you're not alone sometimes, you know?

Taking your advice-- and my own advice, really-- I got out into the sunshine this weekend. Out of the bubble that I sometimes create in my two-bedroom apartment and into the world. Today, the boy and I took a long, windy drive to Malibu. We definitely took the scenic route, that's for sure. The twists and turns stressed Hazel out but at least the views were lovely.

Once we got to the beachside town, we stopped for lunch at the Country Mart. We both got burgers at Mutt's Grill-- mine had rich, buttery avocado and thousand island dressing. Yum! As we ate we watched the people shopping in the boutiques and the parents and kids running around the playground. And Hazel was such a good girl, sitting on the bench beside me, patiently waiting for a nibble of my burger. We left soon after we ate; I would have liked to stay longer, but my skin was already starting to turn red!

On the way home, we stopped at the dog park in Thousand Oaks for the first time. A change of pace for us and the pooch (we always go to the Simi one). She loved it, of course. Wide open spaces + no leash + other doggies = fun time no matter what.

After a cat nap back home on the couch, we (with roommate in tow) headed out again around 8 o'clock to do something I have never done before with my boyfriend. For the first time ever, we went to-- wait for it-- the driving range! I know that doesn't sound that amazing until you remember that my boyfriend is a pro golfer and a former head pro at a local country club. Yep, that's right. And he had never taken me to the driving range that is five minutes from our house (actually, there's two, in both directions!).

For an hour we all had fun hitting the balls into the night sky. The boys obviously hit much better and farther than I, but I didn't do too bad. The trick, I learned, is concentrating but not over-thinking-- easier said than done. I also discovered that you shouldn't squeeze the club so dang tightly-- I walked away with red, sore hands! But I also walked away with a smile on my face.

And that was just Sunday! Saturday included another first: we went to The Huntington Library in San Marino. We checked out the art, strolled the gardens and I took 124 photos in two and a half hours! I'll share a handful of those pics in a day or two. Till then, I hope you had a fabulous weekend, too.

So, tell me, what did you do this weekend? Did you get "out into the sunshine?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Inside my head

Today was a beautiful, sunshiney day and all I wanted to do was be lazy, crawl under the covers and hide from the world. Do you ever have days like that? They make me so annoyed at myself.

But it seems I've been having days like today far too often lately. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have a birthday looming. I'm turning the big 2-5 at the end of the month and I'm not so excited about it, for a number of reasons. One, I want to take a vacation but have no money-- or even time, it seems-- to take one. And two, the biggest reason, is I am just not where I would like to be, or where I thought I would be, at this point in my life.

To be honest, I've been feeling like a complete and utter mess lately. A little lost. Like I don't know how I got to where I am and now I need some direction. Because I don't know what I want, what I need, and in the rare instances where I do, I simply don't know how to get it. And it doesn't help when I see-- or read about, as the case may be-- other people who seemingly have it all together. I know, I know. No one is perfect and no one has it all together. But in blogland, it is easy to get caught up in that comparison, to feel inadequate. Maybe that's why I have been staying away.

I had lunch with my mom yesterday, who I hadn't seen in a while, and I don't think I was much of a joy to be around. I walked away from our get together feeling like a complainer when I should have just been happy to be having lunch with her-- instead of thinking about all the work I had to get back to. See, that's what I was telling her venting about. How I feel like all I do is work work work. And I want to live live live.

I know I need to make some changes to get there. And I know I am being totally vague! And I keep erasing my next sentences because I'm having second thoughts about this post. Hopefully you won't hold it against me for being a Debbie Downer. I hope that some of you can share with me what you do when you just can't seem to shake the blues. Where do you go for guidance when you feel lost?

Maybe this weekend will get me out of my funk. Thankfully, my best friend just texted me that she wants to meet up in an hour to shoot some hoops. So random and yet, so needed.

thanks for listening... reading... my ineloquent ramblings.


Image via we heart it

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Red Carpet Faves

As with most award shows, the primary reason I tuned in to watch the 82nd Annual Academy Awards is the fashion, and more specifically, the gowns. I love seeing what Hollywood's leading ladies show up in. The hair, the shoes, the makeup, the accessories, I enjoy it all and it makes listening to those self-indulgent and/or boring Oscar speeches worth it.

(Not to say that they're all that way, but you know how it is. And I did quite like this year's ceremony. Funny men Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were on point and I was glad to see a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, take home best director, even if I did like watching "Avatar" better than "The Hurt Locker," which I nervously sat through last night at home after enduring a four-and-a-half hour City Council meeting.)

Anyway, moving on. Pictured below are my fave looks from the night. A little eye-candy for you this Tuesday morning. (You'll notice I'm loving anything glittery and sweetheart necklines...)

Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") looked stunning in an embroidered lace and metallic Marchesa sheath. On Oprah she said the dress had vintage beading, which makes me love it more. And I like how she kept her hair simple and sleek, and though it was debated, I think her lipstick gives the perfect pop against her skin. She looked totally ready to take home an Oscar.

Carey Mulligan ("An Education") dazzled in a black Prada frock embellished with Swarovski crystals. I think the asymmetrical hem is perfect for petite Carey-- a full length gown might swallow her up. And it shows off her killer heels! My only criticism of this look is that the earrings might be a tad big, but overall she looks great.

Cameron Diaz brought back old Hollywood glamour in this sparkling Oscar de la Renta. Her sideswept hair and red lips are the perfect complement. Honestly, I think this is the best she's ever looked!

This flowy, watercolor Elie Saab gown is something I would wear. So romantic and pretty. Rachel McAdams gets my thumbs up.

You know SJP has to be on my best dressed list! Sarah Jessica Parker looked like a goddess in this pale yellow silk Chanel couture gown and in typical SJP style, this statuesque silhouette set her apart from all the other beauties on the red carpet. And you can't really see it here, but her hair looked amazing, too.

One of the things I adore about Zoe Saldana's ("Avatar") style is it's never boring! While I agree with fashion critics that the ruffles on this gradated violet Givenchy couture gown may be a bit much, I still enjoyed looking at her during Oscar arrivals and I wish I had a pair of heels like that in my closet.

J. Lo rocked her hourglass body in this iridescent pink Armani Prive creation. I love the interesting shapes and curves of the dress, and as usual, Jennifer Lopez is glowing.

Now this one has me on the fence. Don't get me wrong, I think the champagne Jenny Packham gown is gorgeous, but I'm always a bit unnerved when I see Miley Cyrus is such sexy attire! But then I have to remember she is growing up... So putting her 17 years aside, I have to say that I love the satin sheen of the fitted bodice (which is a little reminiscent of lingerie) and the dusting of sparkles on the skirt. 

It is pretty much impossible to choose my top Oscar night red carpet fave. But if I have to, I'm going to go with the night's golden girl, Sandy. Not only because she looked stunning but because I was so happy for her when she won best actress for her role in "The Blind Side." Plus, her acceptance speech was gracious, funny and heartwarming all at the same time. Classic Sandra.

So tell me, who gets your vote for best dressed? And do you disagree with any of my choices above? I'd love to hear!

Images via here, here and here.