Eiffel

Eiffel

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shhh, don't tell Mike


I have a boyfriend. His name is Louis. I've had him for a very long time. Way before I met Mike. He's very special to me, not one of those guys that you can give up just because you get married. I'm pretty sure Mike understood this when he met me. I mean, come on. You can't expect a girl to get rid of her relationship with someone, one that has extended back for so many years, just like that. And I'm talking years.

I first met Louis when I was just a little girl. I can't remember where we met. Perhaps it was a magazine. Perhaps it was in a store window. All I know is that from the moment I first laid eyes on his beautiful brown skin I was in love. I think it was the steamer trunk. Yes, the steamer trunk pulled me in. I had visions of the Grand Tour. Europe. Wheeling my steamer trunk with the little LV's intertwined throughout. Oh, Louis what have you done to me.....

Throughout the years I kept tabs on Louis. When I would make him mine. There were so many different ones to choose from. What's a girl to do? I remember going to get my first one. I spotted the little guy and knew I had to make him mine. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen.

The mini speedy. Tiny. Adorable. I could still fit all the essentials in there. Phone, license, money, tissues, lipstick, car keys. Perfect. I will make him mine. And so I did. My mom was with me for my first Louis. You never forget your first. Or your second. Or your third. Well, okay, so you get the point. You never forget any of your Louis's. He's pretty much an unforgettable guy.

It had been a few years since Louis had made a visit to my house. I missed my old boyfriend. Mike now understood that I needed to keep this relationship alive. He was okay with it. There are some things that a husband needs to understand and this was one of them. He saw how I would longingly pass my Louis at the mall with sadness in my eyes. How I would lovingly caress my baby at the boutique and tell him that it would be all right, he would come home to me soon.

I didn't know when but I had to tell Louis something to make him feel better. It's cold and lonely in the store, any words of comfort were better than nothing. And then it happened. Dear God I don't know how but it happened. New York Santa and California Santa got together and delivered my Louis to me. It was a Christmas miracle! All is right with the world. Louis is back with me and I can once again walk down the street with my man on my arm. Oh, and Mike too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Houston, we have a problem

Like most parents, we pride ourselves on having a baby that is the most adorably perfect little specimen that you can find. Of course our Charlie is the best little tyke around. Now I know most parents say this and it's not true but in our case, it's true. No, really, it is.

Everyone knows it. Everyone agrees with us. Again, really, it's true. No lie. I can't make this stuff up. Charlie is so adored that even our friends and family love to spoil the little guy. We're not complaining and I know he's not. Bones in every corner, clothes everywhere, dozens of laps to choose from - the boy has it made.

Which brings me to the problem. Our little angel always follows us around everywhere. No, this isn't the problem. I'm getting there, just wait. He's my little shadow. Can't get enough of me. I secretly enjoy that he sits on my lap a little bit more than he sits on Mike's. I can't help it. We actually fight over who gets to hold him or who gets to snuggle him when we're sleeping.

I'm serious. I'm not ashamed to admit it. We have a routine. Every night as we get ready for bed, Charlie jumps into bed, nestles beneath the covers and waits for us to climb in. Once we're all in, it's bedtime. Simple enough. This is how it is. Every night. Always. At least that's how it's supposed to be. Until the grandparents arrived. Sure, it's always the grandparents that mess things up.

As we got into bed, all snuggled and warm, we realized that something wasn't quite right. Our little wiggler was missing. Mike, probably suspicious that I was hiding Charlie on my side, asked if I had him. Nope, not with me. I figured he was just along the bottom portion of the bed. We started doing some feet sweeping. Back and forth we went, feeling along the edge.

We figured he was just hidden along the edge of our pillows. Nope. No Charlie. Maybe he just didn't come into bed yet. Sometimes he stays up chewing his little bone. Sure, that was it. He was still in the kitchen having a snack. After five minutes and still no Charlie, we knew. He wasn't snacking. He left us. Our angel, our perfect baby, my shadow. He left us for the grandparents.

We couldn't believe it. They had only been here one day and already they had taken our Charlie from us. When we woke up we knew what it was all about. Charlie was a sleeper. Tired of having to get up early he did what he had to do. Go where he knew he wouldn't be disturbed from his slumber. The proof is in the pictures. Sadly, our bed is lump free.

But no, my friends it doesn't stop there. When we eat, Charlie is my lap warmer. He squeaks out a tune until I pick him up and place him across my legs. It's customary. It's how I eat. I enjoy a nice meal with a little brown blanket. Alas, I've been replaced. The man in the plaid pajamas, a.k.a. Grandpa, had worked his magic and taken my spot. Grandma had gotten her spot on LoveSac. What was happening? It's not looking good for us. I see a lot of presents under that tree. Our names aren't on all of them. It's looking to be a good Christmas Charlie Brown. A good Christmas indeed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Munchkin has a Birthday

Like all good parents we were excited for our baby's first birthday. Well, at least his first birthday with us. Our little Charlie Brown was turning four. We couldn't just let this day go by like any ordinary day. Mike gets cake on his birthday. And presents. Yes, we can't forget the presents.

So why shouldn't our little tyke get the same treatment? (This is a rhetorical question people). It started out innocent enough. We weren't thinking of going so big. We thought maybe just a quiet little celebration, just us and our little guy, maybe an extra treat. Sure, that sounded like a nice idea. Perhaps I got a little carried away. All I did was add his name to the invite. Give him equal top billing. He is Charlie Brown after all. He deserves it.

Here's how it went down. Every year we have a big Christmas Birthday Party. We call it the "Annual Jeffries Ranch Christmas Parade & Mike's Birthday Party" Party. I know, great title. We're thinking of trademarking. Our neighborhood hosts a holiday parade every year. It's fabulous. Really. So fabulous we work our party around it. If the date changes, so does our party.

All of the boats and old cars will get decorated and form a procession and drive around with music - helloooo parade - sometimes even the Marines participate, tanks and all. It's to benefit Toys for Tots. This year we added the "& Charlie" to the end of the birthday portion. We thought hey, it's time he's celebrated as the awesomeness of cuddly brown fur that he is. Apparently we aren't the only ones that feel this way.

I was hoping to skip the present opening. I never liked this part. It's always an awkward moment of any party but all of a sudden one friend brought a bag to Mike and said, "This is for Charlie, you have to open it". The next thing we knew the presents were flying. All for Charlie. Hey, I think we're on to something.

Bag after bag they kept coming. Charlie was a very popular little fellow. He didn't know what to make of all this. He just kept running back and forth, nose in bag. He smelled something. We opened the first bag and out came some stylin' new clothes. I was pretty excited about that one. A guy has to keep up with the times you know and besides, it does get cold. This, however, was not what Charlie was searching for. And then, there it was. At the bottom of the bag. The mother lode.

The BONE. Mike reached in and pulled it out. Charlie did a happy dance. We put the giant monster in front of our 10 pound munchkin and watched as he opened his tiny mouth and proceeded to grab the massive behemoth between his teeth. He walked away a little top heavy but determined to take his new toy. The crowd erupted in laughter.

The bone giver admitted that he wanted to give a bigger one. He thinks it's funny. We've had to deal with the fallout. That face. It says I want that but I can't have it. We've had to unwrap the ends so that our little guy can attempt a chew. It's semi-working. It's a good thing he had his little birthday cake to distract him. Apple carrot with peanut butter frosting. It was all natural. Not bad. Yeah, I tasted it. Don't judge.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Joy of THE Photo

Ah, the Christmas card photo. Every year we look forward to what we are going to put on that card. We pose for pictures everywhere we go. Could this be the one? It doesn't matter where we are or what time of the year it is - you always have to be prepared for what could be your next Christmas card photo. We usually are. We always have an arsenal of photos to choose from. Did I say always? Remember that statement. Those things usually come back to haunt me.

If we don't like the choices we have then we always have fun figuring out what we will do for the picture of the year. Will we have a theme? The beach? Inside or outside? Of course in years past it was a bit easier because we didn't have the baby and there are certain areas he may not be allowed. I know, ridiculous, isn't it? The shame of it all.....This year we had some great travel pictures. We thought for sure we'd have some potential winners in the bunch. Only one problem - no baby. You can't send a Christmas card and leave out your little munchkin. Crap. We're usually the first people to send out the cards. People count on us. Like clockwork. Those cards arrive in the mail and it's the start of the holiday season. We were going to be letting people down. How could we do this? I was starting to feel some pressure. We needed to come up with something quickly. And that's the problem. Hhhmmm. Nothing was coming to us.
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Every weekend we kept trying. Every weekend it was the same thing. Dress up, no pictures. We didn't know what was happening to us. For the first time, I'm ashamed to admit this, we weren't feeling the Christmas photo. Don't judge. I didn't know what was happening. We were caving to the pressure. The pressure of the photo. We couldn't pick an outfit. Or a location. Or a time. We kept putting it off. Slackers, that's what we were. Until it happened.
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Oh no. Not this. We got our first holiday card in the mail. It was then that we knew we were in trouble. Those cards kept rolling in. We knew if we didn't get our act together it would be too late. We regrouped. The ideas came rolling in. Sure there were a couple of glitches. We needed some last minute wardrobe changes - Mike and Charlie couldn't both wear red - but we made it work.

Once we had our photos we thought the hard part was over. It took us a long time to get where we were. I should have known better. Here I sit waiting for those cards to be done. Glitches at the printer have now prevented us from being finished. Round One has not gone to me. I'm heading back for Round Two. I was talking to a friend the other day. She wanted to know what was up with me. She said I'm always the first one to send out my Christmas cards. The envelopes are all done. Maybe next week I'll have some photos to stuff inside.

Friday, December 3, 2010

B.M. and A.M.

For pretty much all of our lives we have only known the world in these terms - B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini). Everything is split into basically two worlds. What happened before and what happened after. This is common knowledge. Everyone knows it. Everyone may not believe in it but I'm betting that everyone understands it. Before and after. Regardless of whether you believe in religion or the modern day calender, let's just focus on the fact that we all believe in before and after. That's what I'm going for here.

B.M. - Now we all may have our own versions of this one but mine would be Before Mike. Before Mike I was a strict bed maker. I always made my bed. In college, I would make my bed every single day. This is not a joke. I'd give you my former roommates email addresses for verification but I don't know if they'd appreciate that. Not only did I make the bed but I took it even further. My bed was so perfectly made - I'm talking every pillow in place, every bunny in perfect position - that sometimes I didn't want to mess it up. I'm not ashamed to admit it. In order to keep my heavenly perfection, I would sleep on the couch. But I couldn't let the couch stay rumpled. I would even fluff the couch cushions in the morning too. Everything had its proper place and everything had to be in its perfect position. The other day I was at a friend's house. Her bed was made. I mentioned that fact. She said she makes it every day. I sighed. I remembered those days. I told her yes, but she's single. I am living life........


A.M. - I'm sure we can all guess what this is. Yes, this would be After Mike. After Mike, things just don't stay the way you used to have them. Now don't get me wrong, there are great things to A.M. living but keeping that bed made every day and keeping those couch cushions in place do not seem to be up on that list. I'm an OCD-type of person. That would be obsessive-compulsive in case you were wondering. I need to have everything in its proper place at all times. I like things to look neat and orderly and perfect. I don't like mess or clutter.


So it actually works out quite well for us that we have a LoveSac. One of those giant beanbag-like chairs. It's not meant to be perfect. It's meant for jumping and lounging and sleeping and well, just having fun. It's a perfect blend of both B.M. and A.M. lifestyles. Well, almost. It doesn't look pretty in any room and doesn't really fit nicely anywhere that we try to put it but it's just so comfortable and always every person's favorite place to go. Even Charlie's. Besides, it's so comfy, there have been a few nights that I've convinced Mike tha we should sleep on it. A few more of those and I can keep making the bed to perfection.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Pressure of a Tree

The Christmas Tree. Images of perfection spring up when I think of my Christmas tree. Not always the ones I have had in the past, although I must admit there have been a few perfect specimens, but always the ones that I see in my head. The one I envision is tall and perfectly round. Fat, not skinny. Perfect trees can't be skinny. Ironic, isn't it? The branches must be sturdy. I prefer the Noble Fir. Those branches can handle any ornament I throw on. Some people don't understand what goes into looking for a perfect tree. They just see a green mass laying on the ground and think, eh, a tree's a tree. Noble fir, Douglas fir, what's the difference? Oh the shame of it all. One heavy ball on a branch and you'll know. You'll know.

Every year we get our tree at Home Depot. We have never been disappointed with the selection of fragrant evergreens that line the parking lot. It also helps that it is less than 2 blocks from our house. When you drive a Prius and refuse to settle for anything less than a 9 foot Christmas tree, location means everything. I had been stalking the lot for a week now.

Watching them bring in the trees, putting up the fence. I knew it was time. I was hoping for a giant this year. I was pulling for a 10 footer. Go big or go home - that's my theory. We agreed and chose our tree. We were like kids. We stared up at that tree like it was Rockefeller Center. That's when we knew we were in trouble. Even the tree guy knew it. It was too heavy for even him to lift. If this guy couldn't manage, how could we get it home and into our house? Damn. We had to go down. It wasn't all that bad. This was 9 feet of fat perfection. Sure, the bigger one had the height but this bad boy had it all - tall, fat, full - we had picked a winner.

Now it was time to let the decorating begin. Our friends came over to mount the attack and the carols began. Charlie's job was to just look cute. I think he completed his portion really well. We let the guys work on the outside and the girls set out to tackle the inside. Of course the not-so-fun task of stringing up the lights always falls to me so I got right to work. Interesting fact - lights.

For some unknown reason this has always been my job. East Coast, West Coast, snow, rain, slight electrocution (never let your parents save lights for more than 10 years people), yes, I've always been the light person. Hhhmmm. Apparently once you have been deemed the light master there is no way out. Ever.

A wise cousin once told me that you must put one hundred lights per each foot of tree and then a little extra. This meant we needed at least a thousand lights. Yes, we ran out. One trip to the store later (thanks friends) and we were finally done. With the lights anyway. Whew. This is tough work, this Christmas joy stuff. But hey, nothing that a little champagne can't cure. The decorating tradition always consists of champagne and carols. I love traditions.

Ornament time had finally arrived. Of course we aren't a child friendly house and most of our tree attire is breakable. Which is always a great thing when having children over for a holiday party. We put as many non-breakables as possible at the bottom of the tree and each of us took turns for pictures as we climbed the ladder to put the star on top. I'm a firm believer of a star topper.

I used to have an angel but the old branch-up-the-butt-of-an-angel thing finally turned me into a star believer. Just imagine how the angel feels. We had a few casualties - some broken balls, sure it's bound to happen - but overall it was another night of successful memory building. Perhaps our last Christmas time in Southern California was made all the more special because our friends took the time. Period. They just took the time and that's what it's all about.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Starry Nights & Dreidel Cookies

When my friend called me and asked if I wanted to go early Black Friday shopping at the Carlsbad Outlet Mall on Thanksgiving Night at midnight I said sure, why the hell not. Some people might think this is crazy. Me, I'm not one of those people. As you might see by now, I'm pretty much up for anything. I view it as an adventure.

There are those skeptical scrooges that bark out a bah humbug and say the holidays are no fun. I say shut the hell up. Don't rain on my parade. I've heard people complain about the early shopping, saying things like you should be spending time with your families. I don't know about you but at 3am I am not spending time with my family. I am generally sleeping. Sleep can be overrated. There is plenty of opportunity to sleep. Like when I'm dead. I'll catch up on all the sleep I can at that time. At this time, I'll be at the mall bonding with my friend.

Our plan of attack was to stop at Starbucks for a little pick me up and get on the move. Apparently everyone else was in on the plan. That was the longest line at the mall. We had to abort mission. Parking. This would most likely be the next problem but shopping Gods were on our side. Well, a lone security guard from across the street was. We did some covert ops and got a "spot". Mission accomplished. We left the warmth of our car and strolled out into the lovely Southern California weather.....high 30's I believe. Take that East Coast!

We headed to Banana Republic first. It's always a must stop on the Outlet Tour. There was a small line forming. To avoid a packed store, all retailers were only letting in a certain amount of people at a time. It was just like being back in college and waiting in line at the clubs. Only this time at the end of the night after spending my money I had something to show for it. One dress and one sweater later and we were on our way. Next stop - the Gap. As you can see from exhibit A below, this place was a zoo. I was highly amused. I wasn't buying anything but I was here for pure entertainment value. This line alone says it all. People weren't paying attention to what was going on around them. They were just walking around, bumping, pushing blindly, grabbing. I loved it.

Which is why I felt the need to take this picture. Which led to me getting in trouble. Seriously. Apparently you are not allowed to take pictures in stores. Where is this sign posted you ask? It's not. Anywhere. But that didn't stop the sales girl from telling us that what we were doing was illegal. Whatever Gap. It's not like we were going to broadcast to everyone where we were, Gap. Until that moment anyway. Good thing I wasn't a secret shopper.

We couldn't let our close brush with the law put a damper on the night. We had an even bigger mission. The Promised Land. We had to get to the Promised Land. Or what so many other people refer to it as - Coach. My friend's number one goal had been to get to Coach.

No problem. Or so we thought until we got there and tried to find the end of the line. There wasn't one. Really. The line was actually longer than Starbucks. Who would've thought that was even possible? We were told the wait was more than an hour. Sadly, we had to walk away. For now. We would make it to the promised land. The night was not over.

At this point there was a rumble in the Bronx. Well, ok, in my belly. It was almost 3 am and I was hungry. I needed food. Something to keep me on my journey. It was time for a trip to Harry and David. I can always count on them for a little pick me up. A free sampling of snacks everywhere.

What?? No snacks tonight? I ran through the store like a crazed animal. I needed a snack. That's when I saw them. These adorable little Hanukkah cookies. They were the perfect size. Bite size. It meant you could eat them all. These were dee-lish-ious. Vanilla. Yum. Mazel tov! We could now brave the final leg of our journey.

Yes, we did make it back to Coach. After 3:30am the line was gone and my friend was able to snag some fabulous bags. I almost got knocked over by a crazed teenager but it was all part of the fun. I couldn't stop laughing at the insane masses and I was glad to be a part of it all. Most of all I had a great time with my friend doing something we've never done before. We bonded over a new shopping experience and we created a lasting memory. But wait! It didn't end there. It was now poinsettia time.

On to Home Depot. The last leg of our journey. As luck would have it the Home Depot is right down the block from my house. Perfect. We grabbed our share of the 10 per person quota and completed the final leg of our excursion. Aahh. It was a fabulous night. And morning. Six o'clock was our final time in.

I know this isn't for everyone. To those who don't enjoy, we don't ask you to. Go hang with the Grinch. Just leave us merry makers alone. To those who do enjoy, go crazy, have fun, be merry. To my friend I say same time next year?

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's A Dogs World

I have a friend that I call Roach who swears it's all about the animals. She has 2 dogs and 3 cats. She'll tell me that people will disappoint you but the animals never will. Animals are always happy to see you, always love you no matter what. Whether you are angry or sad, rich or poor, black or white - it doesn't matter to your pooch.

They don't care if you are cool or if you are famous. Your little fur buddy just loves you for you, something that is so rare in this world. I know when I come home I always have someone that is happy to see me. Charlie always knows how to make me feel better. I think she may be on to something. And in case you are wondering, yes, Roach is her term of affection. All of the friends have their "name". It means I love them.

Here are some of the benefits to living with just you and your pups:

1. You don't have to stress about whether those rude friends of yours are going to RSVP to your parties, which you know invariably they won't since etiquette is a dying form.

2. You don't have to worry about whether or not you will get invited to your friends parties, which after seeing that you aren't you realize that your thoughts of friendship may now be one sided. Hhhmmm.

3. Drama. You remain drama free. This is by far the biggest perk of an "it's just me and the dog" world. Drama seems to follow certain people even though they don't ask for it. I am one of those people.

4. Less stress. It's proven that pets lower stress. Less people also means less stress so this is a double whammy.

I could go on with the great perks to a people free existence but I'd run out of space. Ok, I know we need some people. I'm taking applications. Me, well of course I'm in. I'll let Mike in too. My Roach, yes, she's a given. We get it. We know that our pooches are our babies. We treat them as such and that's how it should be. Why else get a pet?

Take my little munchkin for instance. Charlie is living large. He's our little tyke. Everyone loves him. He comes to NYC with us where his grandparents fight over who sleeps with him. He has allergies and must be on a special raw food diet so we give him duck and cook him veggies each week to mix in with his meat. He also can't have gluten so as a treat he gets cupcakes made with peanut butter frosting and apples and carrots. Anything for our little guy. But why wouldn't we take great care of someone that brings us such joy? It's our job to do the best we can when we take on the care of anything especially when it's someone that relies solely on us.

One of the best parts to living in a dog's world is the snuggle fests that we have every day and night. A little trickier is which one of us gets him. Sure, sometimes we share but I'll admit sharing can be overrated. Nothing is nicer that the feeling of a warm little body nestled on your lap as you settle in to watch TV.

Even better is that warm little body nestled in your arms as you pull the covers over yourself and say goodnight. You can forget about all of the negative things that might have happened in your day and for that moment it's just you and your pooch. Or in my case it's just me, Mike and Charlie. Yes Roach, I definitely think you're on to something.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A "Nu" Celebration


Ah, November. The time of year for pumpkins, leaves to change color, Thanksgiving, families to gather and most important of all the uncorking of the new vintage of Beaujolais. That's right my friends, November marks the worldwide celebration of Le Beaujolais Nouveau.

I know, some of you may not know what this is. I'm shocked. How can this be possible? Since this is the season of peace and joy I'll let it slide and explain.

On the third Thursday of every November, France celebrates the uncorking of the new Beaujolais wine. The wine is only 6 weeks old and comes from the Burgundy region in France. Not only are there celebrations all throughout France but all throughout the world. This is where we benefit. Now, of course I would love to hop on a plane to France and celebrate this festival they way it should be but until that day comes I have to work with what I'm given.

The celebration made its way to San Diego where we caught up to it in the Gaslamp Quarter. Our favorite version of the Beaujolais Nouveau is from Georges Doboeuf. Lucky us! The celebration this year kicked off with a Nu Beau block party at the Gaslamp Museum Park . It was a circque celebration with musicians & performers.


We arrived at the Museum Park to pick up our "passports" and receive our first tasting of the new harvest. We knew we wouldn't be disappointed. This wine is always a hit and once again we were in love. As if I needed yet another reason to love France. I could have stayed here all night. Music, wine, stars. Mike's rumbling belly. Uh oh. Dinner. Ok, so maybe it was time to eat.

Our passports had a list of all restaurants participating in the event. Perfect. We decided on a place called Henry's Pub. I know, not very French but it was one of they places giving out complimentary tastings. This is most important in choosing a place. We have our priorities.

And then the unexpected happened. We were just in it for the wine, we weren't expecting a bonus. It's always interesting how things turn out. We don't go out much. We couldn't pass up an occasion like this. Mike had wanted to choose another restaurant. I insisted on this one.

We don't usually meet people when we go out. That has been one of our biggest complaints about living in San Diego. It's one of the reasons we're thinking about leaving. That's when it happens of course. You meet a nice person. Someone who's real. You don't meet many of those anymore. We met a person who clicked with us, someone you felt like you've known even though you just met. We had an great time. A fun time. Isn't that what it's all about?

We thought it would just be a night of new wine but it turned out to be a night of new friends. It definitely was a "nu" celebration after all. We can thank Georges. And France. Vive le France!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Me & Walt - We Believe

I am a professional dreamer. Always have been. My theory has always been that things have to happen to someone and I'm someone so why shouldn't they happen to me? I've never put a time frame on any of these dreams but I've always known at some point in my life that they would happen.

Sure, people are always going to try and stomp on a dream or two but I say never listen. If you listen to the naysayers you risk not believing that your dream can come true and take it from me - you never know what can happen. Dreams don't have to be over the top. They can be. Simple or outrageous. Dreams are what you want them to be. They are whatever each person believes in.

Let's start with a good one. Dean Koontz. I've mentioned him before. He's my book God. The author I've followed since childhood. Which brings me to dream #1 - to meet Dean Koontz. Of course this seemed like an impossibility. I lived in New York, he lived in California. He doesn't do much press. I didn't care.

Like I said, I'm a dreamer. I believe dreams come true. I was 10. Someday, I knew it would happen. Which brings me to dream # 2 - to live in California. Yes, I know, I want to live in many places but California was on my list. At 15, I'd read so many Koontz books and I knew I had to get to the West Coast. So many people told me it would never happen. Do you know what's worse than people telling me no? People stepping on my dreams and telling me no. I don't think so.

The dreams were a little bit out of order but along they came. I eventually did move to California. Dream # 2 came off the list. I knew I would do it. I knew I was closer to dream # 1 but I didn't realize how close until I drove home one day. Just 3 miles from our house I saw a sign. No, literally, I saw a sign. "Canine Companions - The Dean, Gerda & Trixie Koontz Campus".

Oh My God. I could barely contain my excitement. And then it happened. A notice in the local Starbucks announcing that rare book signing at the campus. Something I had waited my whole life for was finally going to happen. It was an unbelievable moment, one we captured on video and film. Dream # 1 finally came true.

I have so many dreams that have yet to be realized but I know they can come true. I think it's sad when people don't think dreams are attainable. It's like there isn't a point to reaching for the stars anymore and without dreams what do we have? Walt Disney had the fairy Godmother say it best - a dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep. Sometimes it does suck to wake up though, you don't have any singing mice who will iron your clothes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Better than Cake


People love dessert. Those who say they don't are liars. I am not a liar. Dessert is amazing. Dessert is fabulous. It is why we eat dinner. We know what comes next. That's right. Dessert. One of the few perks of being an adult is that I can skip to dessert if I want. Sure, Mike sometimes frowns upon this but even he can be swayed. One look at the chocolaty goodness that lays ahead and who can resist? Here's where it gets tricky.

Don't get me wrong. I love a good brownie or a piece of chocolate cake just as much as the next person. Chocolate and I are friends. We always have been. But while others look forward to the moment when the bell rings signalling a fresh-out-of-the-oven confection, I've already had my moment. It was finished when the batter went into the stove, letting me know that there would be no more fingers to dip in the heavenly brown lake. Yes, I'm a batter lover. Nothing is more delicious than chocolate batter. Not even the cake, fresh from the oven, can compare.

As a child, my brother and I would fight over who got to lick the bowl and the spoon and the mixers. We wanted it all. My mother told us we would get sick. We never did. I grew up baking. Did I love baking or did I secretly love cleaning up my work? Hhmm. Now that is a good question. Even now, Mike can't stand when I eat the batter. He tells me every time that I'm going to get sick. It's the eggs, he insists. Salmonella. It makes me laugh. I'm not concerned. I lick away.

*Raw photos only.
I decided to try some vegan recipes. Something new, something different. Wait, what's this? Oh my God, it's brilliant is what it is! Thank you Chef Chloe. Vegan Cupcakes. And they're chocolate too! Which means....you guessed it. No eggs. No eggs means no worries of salmonella. Oh sweet batter here I come.


*The batter is AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS and that's the most important thing. However, the cupcakes just came out of the oven and even though I'm partial to the batter I will say these are the most delicious cupcakes I've ever eaten in my life.

For recipes, go to http://www.chefchloe.com/.

*To make it easier, here is the recipe:
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes (I took out the strawberry part)
Makes 12 Cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk (I used almond milk)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. Sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and espresso powder until smooth.
3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a fork or small whisk.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners until each cup is 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, slice off the top 1/3 of each cupcake and slather with frosting and sliced strawberries. Place the top of the cupcake back on top and add an additional bit of frosting and sliced strawberries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.F
FrostingIngredients:
4 cups confectioners' sugar, preferably organic
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (refined coconut oil at room temperature OR vegan margarine will also work) - I used the vegan margarine.
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water
Procedure:
1. Combine the confectioners' sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. With the mixer running, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the desired buttercream consistency. NOTE: You probably will not use all the water. Simply add as needed while beating.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hair Mutiny


I love my hair. There, I've said it. Now that I've gotten that out of the way I can continue. While I love my hair, I am not attached to my hair. I live in the moment. As in, I love my hair at this moment. What can I say, I get bored. With everything. Not many things are safe. I'm not one of those people who would rather lose a limb than cut their hair.

I've never understood that. I've seen women with hair that is so nasty, split ends on every strand, who refuse to take the scissors to their mane. I don't get it. What is this hair attachment? It's not like it won't grow back. I'm all for growing my hair. I'm also all for cutting it. It's something new, something different. Why be the same all the time?

I have a hair pattern. I like to grow it out and then cut it off. I'll try different styles and when I get bored, which is inevitable, I'll ride it out. Once my hair has out grown the old 'do I'll let it grow for a while, see where it goes. The grow and chop. That's how I roll. I've never had a problem with this pattern. No one has ever gotten in the way. Not even my husband. He's a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He likes my hair any way I have it. Long, short, bangs (it was an accident), no bangs, whatever.

I decided over the summer that it was time. The chop was coming. My mom was visiting and I made my announcement over dinner. I had a mutiny on my hands. It was a full blown hair mutiny. The tag team of Mom & Mike was in full force. They told me that they weren't ready. It wasn't time, I couldn't cut my hair. I couldn't stop laughing. I'd never been opposed before (well, besides Pop-Pop Gram but grandmothers NEVER want you to cut your hair). For the first time, I was being vetoed. Maybe I wasn't fully ready. I conceded. I just went for the trim.

That was months ago. This time I was ready. I looked at my hair. It was in need of a fix. I know it's before the holidays and technically I should wait until after but I'm feeling the itch. The chop is coming. I made my appointment and I started my pitch. I told Mike that this was it. The time had come. Nah, it's just not time. Mike apparently was still not ready.

Now I'm confused. He's never been attached. He told me it's only because it's not time. With a line like that I could only laugh. I ended up only getting a few inches cut. Went for the "healthy" look. But I can't hold out much longer. There's only so much holding off I can do for the tag team. I called the other half of the duo on the way home. Told her I'd cut off my hair. She didn't think I was funny.

I asked Mike what was up with him and my mom and their new obsession with my hair. He smiled. The scary part isn't the hair obsession. It's the tag team. I'm not liking this two against one thing they've got going. It seems to happen quite a lot. Started with the little things. I thought it was cute. If only I would have know what it was going to turn into....hair mutiny.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Flying High


The day had finally arrived. My circus debut was here. I was going to be a trapeze artist. Well, sort of. Leave out the artist part. After months of seeing other people flying through the air, seeing ads online, in the paper, in magazines, practically everywhere, taunting me, teasing, I couldn't take it anymore. I'd had enough. It was my time to fly. What made the day even more special was the great deal I got through the website buywithme.com. What's better than a dream? A dream on sale!

I arrived at the Del Mar Fairgrounds where the Circus Fund is located. I was so excited. Our class was going to be full today. Eight people to a class. We were told to arrive early so I did. Apparently I was the only one that got the memo. I'm getting a little antsy when I see them. One, two, three. Oh sh*t. Four, five. Are you kidding me? Where's the hidden camera? This must be some sort of joke. Six, seven. Yup, that's the last of the little buggers. Kids. All of them. My class is filled with kids. It seems that the class today was a children's birthday party. And me. The lone adult. Whoopee! Things are looking up. Well, I guess they will be soon, huh?

I looked on the bright side. I'm bigger. I get to go first. All the time. Plus, a few kids got scared and bowed out. Ok, I'll admit, the kids actually weren't that bad after all. Shhh, don't tell anyone. Some were even kinda cute. I practically ran up the ladder for my first jump. I was pretty excited. It was just a basic "banana" jump. Jump, hang like a banana, let go, land. Of course, being the first jump and all, I was a little nervous but it was fan-tab-ulous. I couldn't wait for the next part - the hang and back flip. This was where it got tricky. You actually had to work it now.
Back up I went.

For anyone that is worried that they'll be too nervous - you are so busy concentrating on what you have to do that you don't have time to be nervous. You have to pay attention to everything. If you miss your cue, it's over and back down you go. I had the knees up and over the bar. Swinging the arms, got that. I got a little lost when it came to the back flip. Apparently I was over-thinking and acting too much like an athlete (so I was told). I was working up too much swing on the legs. Patience is what I need. Crap. They didn't realize I don't have much of that.

Back in line I went. I had to get this part down before I could move on to the next portion - the catch. But damn, now I had to get to the end of the line. Waiting for the kids was the hardest part. If it were up to me, I would have kept going over and over again. Sharing is still something I'm not a fan of. Whew, I took my second turn at the back-flip and got it. When it comes to athletics, I need to perfect it. Why can't I be like that with everything in life? Moving on to the catch.

This was by far the most fun of all three sections. Of course by this time the line was short. Most of the kids were scared away by this one. Why? Who knows but it was a huge benefit to me. Send up the guinea pig. That would be me. I flew up the ladder. I was raring to go. I grabbed the bar and off I went. Timing had to be perfect for this one. If you missed any of your cues, you would most likely miss the hands of your "catcher" and then you would have to jump down onto the net. Where's the fun in that? I made my catch. I'm feeling great. Then I get off the net and am told I should be faster with my "legs up" next time. Faster? Ugh. Do you know how hard it is to get those legs up on the bar by this point? But hey, I can't disappoint. I'm going up for round 2.

It was my final act of the day. I had to make it perfect. Be quicker. Get those legs up fast. I was tired, it had been almost 2 hours but I had to make it work. I jumped up, heard my cue, legs up, arms off the bar, reached out and caught. Whew! Throw back, landed on the net. Perfect. I'm told that this was much better, great job. Ahhh. I can relax. I'm liking this circus thing. For two solid hours I had not a care in the world. My mind was free of worry. All I was focused on was flying through the air on the trapeze, completing the tasks that I was given. My goal was accomplished. To have fun. Maybe joining the circus isn't such a bad thing after all.
*If you want information on how you can join the circus and live in the Southern California area, go to http://www.circusfund.org/.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shoe Heaven

I love shoes. There. I've said it. I'm not ashamed. Well, that's not true. I am ashamed of one thing - my closet is not big enough for me to adequately spread out my little beauties. Sadly, they must be lined up on top of one another, neatly of course, in order to make room for more. Oh the horror.

I dream of the day when they can be free to lounge about on the upper echelons of my walk-in. Until then, they must make do with their shared space. I don't plan on taking down the room-for-rent sign anytime soon.

Always on the lookout for a great shoe bargain, I stumbled into heaven when I found DSW (that's Designer Shoe Warehouse for you non-shoe aficionados). Not only do they carry shoes for men and women but they have every type of shoe you can imagine and here's the best part....you get rewarded for shopping. Are you kidding me? What genius came up with this idea?

I was hooked from the beginning. I signed up and I was good to go. Every time I bring home another tenant I earn points on my rewards card. No other shoe store is doing that. Every time I hit a certain amount of points, I get a gift certificate in the mail for more shoes.

Yes, there is a down side. The husband. I've gotten him hooked on the shoes too. Now when I get my rewards I have to share. Sharing rewards is not as much fun but it's what I have to do. I get a pair, he gets a pair. Apparently I'm told this is called being fair. Sure. For him. Doesn't help me towards my goal of reaching Imelda Marcos-like proportions but I guess I'll have to make it work for now.

*Actual photo
About a year ago I became a luxe member at DSW. This means extra rewards and more gift certificates. It's brilliant. It's better. Sometimes it's harder to attain. You have to reach your goal each year by December 31st. I was worried. My deadline was approaching and we had just bought 3 more pairs of shoes.

I thought we were done and this should have put us to my goal. It didn't. I was confused. I had received a statement in the mail and it gave one amount yet online gave another. How was I to reach my goal??

I thought I'd write to corporate to help clear my confusion. I just wanted clarification. That's it. Nothing more. I needed to know what I needed to reach my goal. I was getting desperate. I had to keep my luxe status for 2011. I got back my response. They apologized for the confusion. They valued my luxe membership very much and didn't want to lose it. They added the remained points that I needed and made sure I remained luxe. I'M LUXE FOR 2011. There must have been a mix-up with my points. I'm not questioning. I'm loving. Loving DSW.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jealousy isn't my thing unless you have the purse I want....


What's the deal with jealous people? I'm not talking the jealous-over-your-possessions type of person. I'm talking the jealous-over-your-man or the jealous-over-your-friend kind of person. Seriously, what the hell is that? No one is trying to steal your man. No one is trying to steal your friend. We've all got our own people and even if we didn't, we're not out to get yours. Get over it and get over yourself.

I have never been the jealous type. At least not with people. You are more likely to see me drooling over your purse before you see me get all crazy over my man. Talk to him all you want. Call him up to hang out. Go for it. I think it's great. The most important thing to me has always been having all of my friends be friends and get along. This includes my husband. I do not need to be the glue that holds them all together. This can be exhausting. Please, talk amongst yourselves. Amuse yourselves. Sure, it's great to be together and have fun but we can also be apart and have fun too.

This also applies to my friends. I am not possessive. I do not need to stake my claim on my friends. When at a party or get-together, I do not feel the need to constantly announce that a person is my best friend. Why do people do this? It makes me want to stand up and shout really? Are they? Thanks for clearing that up buddy. I'll be sure to back off now since I know they are taken. I didn't think people still did this. I thought once we left high school all that sh*t was over. Apparently not.

I am a secure person. I know people aren't out to "steal" my friends or my husband. I just don't think that way. I am also very independent and strong willed. For the sake of friendship, I have learned to keep tabs on my inner mean girl and have dealt with the insecure jealous friend claimstakers. I'm not going to say it's easy. Being naturally nice isn't hard but forcing that....well, we're talking Academy Award winning performance here. I can't promise that it will last forever. Especially when you have to deal with the occasional comment here and there.

Like I said, jealous people are the worst. Insecure and they like to try and get those digs in. Oh the irony. I can play the game and I can play it well. Too well. It makes me smile just thinking about it. Remember, when you say I'm from New York it's not an insult. It's a compliment of the highest form.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Fitness Craze

I arrived at Zumba class raring to go. The instructor for the night was full of energy. His play list was topnotch. Full of club music - the kind with the beat that really makes you want to move around the room. We were all in position. The music was thumping and that's when I noticed her. She was barefoot. Ew. That was what first brought her to my attention.

I knew this was going to be an entertaining night. There's always that one person you can count on to liven up the class. We began our warm-up and things really got moving. Then it happened. Out came the cell phone. Barefoot girl started to text. In the middle of class. Are you freakin' kidding me?

Now as I'm sure you may know, I am highly amused by the goings on of those around me. Even when I am completely engrossed in my workout, I can't help but look around and see what everyone else is doing. Or what they aren't doing. Which, in this case, happened to be the in the form of the girl next to me. She kept me entertained throughout the hour. I'm not talking in a "wow she's really good" kind of way. I'm talking the "seriously? What the hell is she thinking" kinda way. She was so absolutely ridiculous in what she was doing that I was fascinated. I couldn't stop watching her.

Don't get me wrong. I got a great workout. Actually, it was one of the best ones I've gotten in a while. As I write this, my ass is still re-living the night. And yet, my eyes kept peeking out of the left side of my head to see if she was still doing it. She wouldn't stop. Well, technically she did stop.......working out. Yes, she actually stopped working out to text.

I looked around the room in disbelief. Was anyone else as amazed at this as I was? The whole class is now shuffling back and forth while this girl has actually planted herself in one spot to text. Did I miss something? Was this Text Zumba? She wasn't even watching the instructor. Her face was just buried in her phone. And then it happened. It took all I had to hold in my laughter. We were all moving across the floor.

Barefoot texter had just rejoined us. She was now trying to move and text. Was that even possible? Apparently not. It must have been too much for her. She went down. Hard. She got up fast, looked around, tried to resume the moves. Here's the clincher......she resumed texting even faster. I should have whipped out my phone too. At least I could have gotten it on camera. This was almost too good to believe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It was Charlie....


I didn't sleep well last night. I usually don't sleep well so I'm accustomed to not ever getting a good night sleep anymore but every night as I get ready for bed I tell myself that this is going to be the night. This is going to be the one. My head is going to hit the pillow and I'm going to fall into a sleep so great, so sound that I won't wake up for anything. Never happens.

It doesn't help that I'm a light sleeper. A leaf dropping will wake me up. We even sleep with a fan and that sound doesn't mask anything to keep me under. Temperature is another thing. I need cold. Every night, I don't exaggerate, I'm talking every night, I wake up - hot - open the sliding door, change my pajamas and hop back into bed.
Back to last night. I kept having this strange dream. Mike had his arm wrapped around me and for some strange reason he kept shaking me awake. It kept happening over and over again. It seemed so real. It felt like it was really happening. Um, because it was. What the hell? Like I needed any help staying awake? He didn't do it just once. Not twice. This was the third time. I finally shoved him off and growled at him to get off me. He rolled over.

I thought it would end there. Nope. The shaking continued. This time I shook him, told him to stop. He was still half asleep and said he wasn't doing anything. Another involuntary shake. I told him again to stop. Here's the clincher.....he said it wasn't him, it was Charlie. He blamed the dog. Little Charlie was shaking the whole bed. And me. Charlie, who's at my feet and sound asleep, moving not a eyelash. I tried not to laugh. I was tired and grumpy but this was amusing.

I reminded Mike this morning of his earthquake activities. He still says it's Charlie. I can only laugh. I told him that I was a witness. I saw his hand, saw the shake in action. He insists that it was not him. It was Charlie and that's the story he's sticking to. This is why people get dogs. There's always someone to place the blame on.

He may be joking today, which is still debatable, but he was serious last night. When I told him that I was shaken awake he still went with it was Charlie and he meant it. He even insisted that he could feel him moving behind him although the little tyke was already at my feet. If only Charlie knew.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shark sighting at the vineyard


We are members at Ponte Winery in Temecula, CA. It's a beautiful place. We feel it's one of the best wineries in the region. This may have something to do with the fact that it's the only winery that gives out snacks when you wine taste but you'll learn that this is a very important factor. Snacks are key when wine tasting. Empty stomachs are dangerous. Very dangerous.

Ponte doesn't just have snacks, they have pita chips. We're talking high end snacks. These things are slammin' (translation - delicious). It's very important to position yourself in front of a basket of these bad boys when you arrive. Most people might find a spot by the wine list. That's second in importance. Trust me. It's all about the pita chips. You'll start to realize that as the wine hits your empty belly.

But on this occasion, it's a Friday night, we are at Ponte for one of their special occasion shopping nights. Ponte has these every so often throughout the year and as the holidays approach they will have them every Friday. This was our first so we were pretty excited. It's a members only affair but guests and friends are invited. We brought our crew and headed to wine country. Even though we got there early it was already packed. Ponte is the place that is always packed. Our chauffeur, ok, Mike, dropped us at the door and parked. All the wine was free tonight, as were the hors d'oeuvres and any purchases were 30% off. Free food and drink. What could be better.

We hit the bar and searched for food. No food. Hhhmm. I swear the invite said food. I'm feeling a little guilty. I told my people food. Mike leaves on a search and rescue mission. We head back to the bar. We then notice that there's a crowd at the side exit. It almost looked like a feeding frenzy. It was like someone threw food in the water and the sharks were all gathering to attack. Hey, wait a minute, food....sharks.....whoa.

Mike came running over. Apparently there was food. As soon as it came out of the kitchen and made its way inside, those sharks pounced on the servers. They never got past the door. Those greedy bastards! It was time for a new game plan. We headed outside. Closer to the kitchen. We'd stand outside the chum circle and head off the sharks before food even got to them.

We all stood around when we saw it coming. A white plate held high in the air. The food was on it's way. We all reached out and grabbed. VICTORY! A chicken kabob. Aaahhhh. This game is getting good. Who knew we could outwit the sharks. We waited for another white plate to make its way down the path. We got excited. What tasty morsel would we get this time? But wait. Holy sh*t. What the hell....the sharks....they're coming.

I've never seen them move so fast. They freakin' ran down the path. Literally. They ran down the path. They just attacked the server. She didn't even see it coming. She barely made it out of the kitchen. Didn't they get enough? It always amazes me. The same people had been hogging the food all night and they were still making a grab for the food. Would they ever stop?

We held our ground and our positions for the rest of the night. We eventually did get more food. It was all delicious and yes, we let the servers move along and pass out food to other people. I've seen people get crazy with their wine but when it comes to the food, that's an area you just done mess with. Sharks, in and out of the water, are definitely the most dangerous creatures to deal with. They'll take you down to get what they want. I know if I hadn't moved out of the way of that mini taco tray, I might not have made it out that night.