Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mariachi madness

I love mariachi music. I don't know why, but it makes me feel happy. The lyrics are so dramatic, so romantic, so emotional, and the musicians are so passionate - it is one of my favorite things. So the birthday extravaganza continued, as I headed out for dinner with a side of serenade with some of my favorite ladies! The food was yummy, the atmosphere energetic and festive, and the birthday girl was HAPPY :) What a perfect way to spend an evening! If you're local to Los Angeles, or ever visiting, you must check out Casa Sanchez for an unforgettable night! It may be a little on the noisy side for some people (Chris :P), so ask for a table further back from the stage - or go with a bunch of girls that like a little noise!

Dry Bar - an affordable luxury!


I love it when my hair looks pretty - sleek and shiny, no frizz, bouncy and beautiful... But it doesn't happen very often! If I ever find myself unimaginably wealthy, I plan to hire someone to do my hair several times a week and it will always look great. But until then, on occasion, I am going to be stopping by the Dry Bar!! About a year ago, one of my coworkers showed up looking AMAZING, and we all assumed she'd just had her hair trimmed or colored or something. She informed us that she'd stopped by the Dry Bar, and every since I heard what this was all about, I've been dying to check it out. Imagine my delight a few weeks ago when I learned that they opened one about 15 minutes from my house!! So to kick off the birthday (ok, birthweek) extravaganza, I figured I'd make my inaugural visit, and check it out!


As I arrived for my appointment (spur of the moment decision, raced to make it in time for the only available appointment before 7pm), I was already impressed. Beautiful women with shiny, perfect hair were walking out the front door, looking like 5'1" supermodels! I can't say enough about how much I loved my visit to the Dry Bar, but let's just say it was PERFECT. There is an adorable, comfortable reception area, styling stations set up like a bar, good music on the radio, and chick flicks on the TVs (with subtitles of course, since you can't hear what they're saying over the blow dryers!). My friendly stylist showed me where to hang my purse (on a little hook next to her station, right next to the built in iphone chargers!) and led me back to the sinks where I sunk into a comfy chair, rested my head on the sink, and put my feet up on a footrest... And noticed the cheerful yellow chandelier. I love details and this place is all about them, from the light fixtures, to the vase of (yellow) tulips by the front door, to the yellow bottomed glasses they use to serve free beverages... LOVE it! There's even a bucket with umbrellas by the front door, because the stylists walk you out if it's raining, to protect your blowout! I watched a bit of 13 Going on 30 (nothing like that movie to make you glad you're turning 31 instead of 13! Being 13 is hard!), and left the Dry Bar a very happy girl, with lovely locks. Check them out here and see if there's one near you - it's worth every penny! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


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Well, I've had an epiphany! It's funny how waking up in the same room, every day, you eventually get a sense for exactly what should go where... Our house has the feel of an art gallery or museum, with high ceilings and good light, something we both loved when we first saw it, but having tripled our space has given us much more room to decorate. So rather than banging holes in the walls over and over and moving things around by trial and error, we've been waiting for inspiration. I found the perfect mirror for our master bedroom dresser this weekend, we'll finally put up the things we've brought with us from our apartment now that I've decided where they'll go, and I'm going to get busy working on some of these amazing projects I found on Pinterest.

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Aren't these just Pinspirational?! :)

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Gift card shopping spree

I have a tendency to hoard gift cards. I think it's because I feel responsible to spend the money on something specific, something special. I love receiving gift cards, and have even saved them over several years until I could afford a big ticket splurge that I might not be able to afford otherwise. But this weekend, I went on a gift card shopping spree - paid for breakfast, over $60 worth of merchandise from Bath & Body Works, a beautiful mirror for my bedroom (more on that later!) - basically spent an entire day shopping, without spending a penny. Ok, I spent a few pennies, but only by choice - I like to save my Visa gift cards for the spa or big ticket purchases, so I paid cash at one store! But it's funny how liberating it is to shop with abandon, giving no thought to whether or not an item is an affordable luxury, or an unnecessary expense. I think I'm much more likely to treat myself when I'm shopping with a gift card - so I'm glad I hoard them! It's a fun challenge, to spend a day without spending. Have you ever tried it?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why I need to take more pictures....

I was a little busy this weekend, running around and doing fun stuff with my friend visiting from out of town. And I really need to get better about taking pics of what I'm doing and where I'm going, because at least those could tell the story. But there are no pics of our spa day, pedicures, late night banana bread baking, walking trails at Terrenea, enjoying the catch up time together... Just this pic from a lovely dinner in Long Beach, and the last glimpses of the sunset we managed to capture. Still, it was a lovely way to spend the weekend, even if there are no pictures to prove it :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

My little lemon tree

I love that feeling of satisfaction, at the end of a Saturday, when I can look at something I've accomplished and feel like it was a job well done, free time well spent. My friend is coming to visit later this week, and I wanted to sweep our terrace, since the windy, rainy weather left it a little messy, and it's the perfect place to relax in the sun and read. I also have been wanting to add a lemon tree to our rooftop garden, so I figured I'd make a trip to Home Depot with my Mum (who has a green thumb and knows all about gardening!) to pick one out. Coincidentally, the Easter Bunny gave me a gift card to Home Depot last week, and since chocolate eggs don't grow on trees, and lemons have a kind of egg-like shape to them, it seemed like a purchase the Easter Bunny would approve. When I got home, I was too impatient to wait for my hubby to get home, so I hauled it (and the potting mix and pot) up two flights of stairs and replanted it all by myself. And since my hands were already dirty, I potted a little Spanish lavender plant that I bought on impulse a few weeks back (I had a mini daffodil growing in an urn in our dining room, and the blooms were all dying off (sigh - daffodils never last long enough!) so now we'll have lavender in the urn instead). And replanted another lavender in a larger ceramic pot - it now lives next to the lemon tree, and when I open our sliding glass door, the scent of lavender wafts in with the breeze. It's funny how much one little tree makes our terrace feel like a garden or park - there may even be a few more trees in our future!

My reward for my labors was a hot shower, a lovely new pair of peep toe heels that I can't wait to wear tomorrow, and hopefully soon a steady harvest of lemons for summer recipes!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something to think about...

One of my motivations for writing a blog was to provide myself with a forum to sound off about news and current events. For example, the day that the Casey Anthony trial reached a verdict, I wished I had a blog, because I had more than a few things to say about it... It's more fun to write about my little garden, my DIY projects around the house, and the more light hearted subjects in life, but sometimes, I need a place to put my opinion out there in the world, regardless of whether or not someone is reading it. So here it goes...

I recently read this article written by Ashley Judd, and it got me thinking about one of my pet peeves - when women pick on women. I know we all have found ourselves making snide comments here and there, but at the end of the day, it is tragic that we perpetuate negativity and in a sense contribute to the unrealistic standards of beauty and perfection that have become acceptable in our Hollywood obsessed, reality TV saturated, media driven society. It's crazy that as women, we make it so a woman can't win either way - she's either criticized for 'letting herself go' and trying to age graciously, or hounded for having work done in an effort to prolong their youthful looks. In a culture that values youth over wisdom, skin-deep beauty over depth of character, and illusion over reality, the last thing we need is to be picking on each other!
And it's bigger than just beauty and body image - women are being criticized for their choices regarding career and family as well. This article caught my attention this morning, as Hilary Rosen describes Ann Romney as having 'actually never worked a day in her life'. Now I don't know Ann Romney, and this is not about politics (because that's an entirely different rant, although somewhat related, as our political and electoral process seems to thrive on this same cannibalistic concept, attempting to make candidates look better and more appealing to the public by trying to criticize and denigrate the opposition, but I digress...), but I know enough to know that raising five children is more than a day's work! Ann Romney's decision to raise her five children is a valid career choice, as much as Hilary Rosen's decision to pursue her career, as a political strategist or whatever it is that she does, and these kinds of conversations in the media affect the way young girls see their future, their bodies, their lives. Never mind the fact that today's news brings reports that Hilary herself cited wanting to spend more time with her children as a reason for leaving a job a few years ago, her criticism and dismissal of the daily hard work of millions of at-home mothers in America is symptomatic of a bigger issue. In a world where every woman I know struggles with feeling like she doesn't quite measure up sometimes, there seems to be some kind of twisted side of human nature that tries to use comparison and criticism to make ourselves feel better by tearing down someone else. 

What if we were all a little bit kinder to each other, and ourselves? What if we tried to change 'The Conversation', not just about our bodies or our faces, but about the way we measure our value? I doubt all the suffragettes and feminists and other women who fought for centuries to afford us the opportunities and choices and rights that we have today did so only to have us turn on each other. I'm working on silencing my inner 'mean girl' voice, speaking up against attitudes and ignorance that are pervasive in day to day life, and changing the inner dialogue that starts when I look in the mirror, or at other people. I'm turning 31 in a few weeks, and I'm okay with the little wrinkles forming under my eyes, but I'm dyeing the silvery strands that are waging war on my brunette locks - don't judge me for it! And I'll do my best not to judge you too :)

*** If you haven't read these articles, take a minute to (especially the essay written by Ashley Judd) - it's good to think about these things, and the way they influence how we think and how we live... and how our daughters will live. And for a healthy dose of reality, take a second to watch this video - we live in a world with a distorted view of reality and beauty - it helps to remember that in moments that leave you feeling like you just don't measure up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rooftop garden ~ an update

Well, since the sad story of the squashed tomatoes, my little rooftop garden has been expanded to include a pot of zucchini squash plants (for several summers I have hunted farmers markets in the area, trying to buy squash blossoms, which I have longed to stuff since I came across recipes like this, and since I haven't managed to find any, I decided to take matters into my own hands and grow them :P), which have recently flowered. The garlic seems almost ready to harvest (I had to look up how to know when to harvest them, since the only way I could think of was to dig them up!), and I'm planning to try planting and growing the next batch from cloves. The strawberries are growing nicely (I even harvested one juicy red one for the birthday boy last week - a birthday berry!), and the green beans are starting to look a little more lively as well. But the most fruitful crop so far has come from my two trusty tomato plants. I'd say we have about ten tomatoes, varying in size from cherry (or whatever is smaller than cherry :P) to ping pong ball, and this morning I harvested three more! Tomorrow night we'll eating the fruits of our little organic rooftop garden. I haven't decided if it'll be a caprese salad, as a sauce, or as part of an entree like this yummy recipe, but whatever's for dinner tomorrow night, my yummy tomatoes are on the menu!
And by the way, the Easter Bunny brought me a Home Depot gift card, so I'm hoping to get one of those dwarf lemon trees this weekend!! Seems like a good addition to our rooftop garden!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekend whirlwind...

You know those weekends where Sunday evening rolls around and you think 'Gosh, I could use another weekend to recover from this weekend!'? Well, this was one of those. And it was a long weekend, thanks to Good Friday and Chris' birthday, but the extra day was so full of celebrating that we barely noticed it :P Thursday night we kicked off the weekend with tapas on the go, Mamma Mia at the Pantages and midnight quesadillas. The gods of traffic were kind to us, and we arrived with time to spare (always a concern on weeknights after work, but half priced tickets from Goldstar can't be beat!), nibbling on a selection of cheeses, crackers, baguette and fruit (I hate that achy empty stomach feeling that can be so distracting when it's 10:30pm, you haven't had dinner and you're trying to enjoy the final musical number :P So I took matters into my own hands, bought a tapas cheese sampler from Trader Joes, sliced some apples and brie, and packed it all up for the car! Not one tummy grumble all night long!) all the way there. It was a great way to spend the night, and we capped the evening off with midnight quesadillas!


Friday we slept in a bit (in honor of Chris' birthday, observing his favorite pastime :P), then headed out for a relaxing birthday brunch where the seals in the marina loudly serenaded the birthday boy! Then we headed up the coast (making a few pit stops along the way, including one to find and take pictures in front of Bob Dylan's Malibu residence :P), checked into our little inn in Carpinteria, and headed out for dinner in Ventura. After dinner, we wandered around downtown for a bit, found a grocery store to buy hair gel and other little things that we hadn't thought to pack, saw a lady in line to check out with a mustache (one of those stick on ones!) and commented on the interesting little place that we had decided to spend the night visiting! When we got back to the hotel, we sat out in the dark overlooking the ocean, which was lit by the full moon, and listening to the waves. By the time we got around to singing happy birthday with a yummy little cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, we were both too full to have more than a few bites! Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast by the pool, overlooking the Pacific, then headed up to Santa Barbara for a party. On the way home, we enjoyed the beautiful view driving down PCH (more about that here, it really is breathtaking), had dinner in Malibu and the birthday boy proclaimed that all of his birthday wishes had come true! What more could we ask for than that?! So no wonder we were a bit exhausted by Sunday night, after a day spent with family and a lovely Easter lunch at Mum's! It was one of those weekends... But when my head hit the pillow, I was smiling with the memories of the past few days!
Saturday morning breakfast by the pool

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tapas to go

Trying to plan ahead for our post-work mad dash to see Mamma Mia, I found myself wandering around Trader Joes this morning, in an attempt to assemble some kind of 'tapas to go' type snack to prevent me from spending the last thirty minutes trying to ignore to the rumble of my empty stomach. Since my commute was surprisingly light, I had a few minutes to grab whatever seemed like a good idea, and tapas, being one of my favorite things, seemed fancier and more fun than a bag of chips (besides chips are no fun without dip, and dip is messy for the car...). I bought some mini brie wheels, a tapas cheese sampler, crackers and a baguette. I hate shopping without a list, since I usually think of something else I wish I'd bought after the fact, and in this case, that would have included strawberries and prosciutto. But it'll be better than an empty stomach, for sure. I'll grab a few moments before I leave, slice up an apple and assemble everything ~ seems like a good solution to the problem of the rumbling tummy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One of those days...

Did you ever have one of those days? You know the kind of day where all day long, in the back of your mind, this song keeps playing over and over?

Well, I was having one of those days today... I haven't been feeling 100% and it's been a busy week, at work, and then outside of work, planning for my hubby's upcoming birthday and our little weekend getaway, and sometimes it all just starts to feel a little overwhelming. I'm usually a pretty happy camper, and when I realize that all day, I have been dwelling on negativity, it occurs to me that I'm having one of those days. For example:

* every single car I drove behind today was apparently incapable of exceeding 35 miles per hour. No exaggeration
* I was having a bad hair day
* It was a hot/cold day - too hot with a sweater, a bit too chilly without one (or maybe I just picked the wrong sweater? Or maybe I was a little feverish!)
* I knocked over a glass of water on my desk - grr!
* I stared blankly at what I thought was a friendly stranger waving to me at the bank, and then remembered at the last minute that it was actually a co-worker (thank goodness I could blame my vagueness on sudafed but still embarrassing!)
* I knocked over yet ANOTHER cup of water at home, while clearing dishes after dinner

Step 1: Print this picture and hang it over your desk.

You get the idea - anyway, I was feeling cranky and annoyed all day. Until I read this article, about 13 steps to get you through a rough day. It really did make me laugh (I was feeling better after the first one!!), and I figured I'd post it here. Maybe it'll make someone else's bad day a little better? Or at least I'll know where to find it the next time I'm having one of those days!! :)

Note: HA - proof that I was actually having a bad day - the youtube video doesn't want to work properly either! Grr!!!