Monday, December 31, 2012

Theme for 2013: Follow Through

I am picking up on something my friend Nicole has done on her blog for the last couple of years and picking a theme for my life in 2013. I thought about this long and hard. What are the things about my life that are challenging or nagging or seem incomplete?  I have to admit that while my life isn't perfect, it's pretty damn good. But if there's one thing that I want to concentrate on in 2013, it's this: FOLLOW THROUGH.

I don't mean just finishing my batting swing at the cages. My dad used to shout "follow through!" everywhere from softball games to volleyball matches to driving ranges. But what I'm talking more about is following through with my life. It's not enough to just take a chance but to commit to it, work hard and follow it through to the finish.

This means a couple things to me: 1) not being so scared about something that it prevents me from doing something that I want to do, 2) when I choose to do something, I need to commit to it. Just doing 'good enough' is never really good enough. 3) Continue to the end, even when the results are not what I want. There are lessons in failure. I need to lose my fear of failing.

I will write my obligatory list of things to concentrate on in 2013 (I still refuse to call them resolutions) for a later post, but all will help me in my main theme for 2013:

FOLLOW THROUGH!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Second Christmas

I am waiting again for Santa. But this time in the form of a UPS driver. Christmas was great, as I thought it would be. Thank you to everyone for your well wishes, your calls, cards and emails, and your thoughtful gifts. I spent a lazy day enjoying them all with Chef in tow. We ate well, slept well, and were the laziest versions of ourselves. It was great.

But today is SECOND Christmas. The day when we receive the items we bought on Christmas with our newly acquired gift cards. I am waiting for UPS Claus to bring me a fitbit. It's basically a fancy pedometer, but it also monitors your sleep. I'm curious to see how well I sleep. I mean, I'm so narcissistic and odd that I want to know what's happening with me while I'm sleeping. I'm also an analytics nerd so the ability to put data somewhere also intrigues me. Hopefully this will all be enough to keep better track of my health and strive to do more. And what's more is that it syncs up with the app I already like using, myfitnesspal.

I guess we'll see. . .

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Spirit Quest Complete

I don't want to blog too much on Christmas Eve so I'm just going to say that I completed my spirit quest and then show you the pictures.
#1-gingbread latte WITH whipped cream, #18- Chef took pics with his camera of me skating, but none on my phone, #4 touching man-made snow at The Grove, #25- lames lights of Rodeo Drive   

#13 my mom's zucchini bread- take 2, #20- my holiday nails, #5 and #15-- that's me in sparkles on a Friday with fancy lipstick, #8- I have an actual gift, but here's some baking I gave with it to Chef's friend that is a stranger to me.

#3- all the cats in holiday attire

#11- crafted a necklace scarf thing from an old t-shirt; Genghis chased it like crazy

#2- Santa Monica beach this weekend


This is the snow coming down at The Grove shopping center--wasn't the same, but still nice.

I don't have pictures for donating to charity--but you'll have to trust that I did-- several in fact. The stockings come tomorrow, but we're covered. 

So all in all. . . 

Mission Accomplished.


Merry Christmas
See you all again next year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear Santa 2.0

I have no real reason to write to you. Not that I don't believe, but because there really isn't anything that I truly need. And while I can't say that I was entirely naughty this year, I can't claim that I was entirely nice either. I'm sure that cancels out somewhere in your listing-making capabilities, but I've never really understood how your system worked. I mean I knew some bitches who were spoiled by Santa so I found your methods a little flawed. I hate to criticize, but I'm also fairly certain that you grade on a curve so I'm not that scared any more. Maybe that's why you've given all those Elves on the Shelf their power. You need an enforcer to intimidate the children into good behavior. That's just not your strong suit, but it is a good use of management skills.

In any case, there really isn't anything that I need. We have our health, our home, full bellies, and no real worries. If there's such a thing as bequeathing my list fulfillment to someone else, please do so. If not, here's my ridiculous list for 2012 (also known as Holiday Spirit Quest item #24).
  1. For my wishes to be bequeathed to someone who really needs some Christmas cheer.If you won't do # 1, then here's my list:
  2. For the cats to adjust their bodies to want food at a more reasonable hour in the morning, like 6 a.m. when I normally wake up instead of 4:30 a.m. They really know how to mess with my sleep pattern.
  3. If you can't fulfill #2, how about giving me the ability to sleep like the dead so that when the little munchkins start their stirring around me, I am not affected. 
  4. Adjacent to #3, I ask to have legs of ice so that when Attila curls up next to me to sleep with his thousand degree body, my legs don't suffer third degree burns.
  5. A fitbit and the ability to be motivated by it as I have been less than motivated in the last week to do much more than power walk in the mornings and lazily count my calories. Neither of which has motivated me to change my ways.
  6. Momentum-building upon my motivation to finish my novel. The first one has to get finished before I can start on the next one that's in my head. Plus I need to feel that sense of accomplishment at finishing something that seemed like it would never get done. 
  7. More LA friends and the desire to want to leave the house to see them. I actually made some headway on this this year, but I still have to really really like someone to leave my husband to go hang out with them. I'm sure that says something wonderful about my marriage and something equally bad about my anti-social behavior.
  8. For my hairdresser to continue at least doing my hair even though she's officially quitting hair to be a paralegal. I wish her well and luck and will happily support her education with hefty tips if she'll continue to keep my "auburn" locks a shade that seems plausible in nature.
  9. For the Colts to win a playoff game. If that's too much to ask for this year, I then ask that the New England Patriots and Tom Brady do not get another Superbowl ring. Or that Peyton Manning wins another Superbowl. I'm really not that picky as long as it's some combination thereof. 
  10. Since I'm talking sports, I would be remiss if I didn't thank you for last year's early present of Christian Watford's 3-point basket for the win over Kentucky last year. I will not use this space to ask for anything for my beloved Hoosiers as they're just really fun to watch this year and I don't want to taint it too much with lofty, near-impossible expectations. I just want to enjoy a successful season.
  11. One more night of debauchery with my oldest friends. I know that this is probably not going to keep me off the naughty list for the coming year, but it would totally be worth it. Not that I really want to relive my youth, because it was nice while it lasted, but I'm okay with it being over. What I would like to do is get Brooke, Lara, Anne, Amanda and Schultz together at someone's house or with a hired driver or both for one epic expenses-paid all-nighter. This doesn't mean drunkenness, but more great food, good spirits, some karaoke, and a night of no worries--no kids, no husbands, no curfews. One of the bummers of not having a formal wedding (and there really wasn't a lot of down side) was that there was no big excuse to bring all the girls back together. 
  12. For the perfect red lipstick that compliments my skin tone and makes my mouth pop while staying only on my lips and not outside the lines. I would prefer not to look like Ronald McDonald.
  13. The ability to eat candy corn and sweet tarts by the handful without any caloric effect.
  14. To finally be able to make a suitable roux to make homemade macaroni and cheese that turns out smooth and delicious instead of having a slightly floury after taste. 
  15. To be motivated and willing to actually use the beach chairs we have stored in the closet a few times this year without feeling like it's too much of a hassle.
  16. To only use Pinterest for good and not evil.
  17. The ability to continue to squeal with delight when I have those moments where I can't believe someone so cute and funny and wonderful chose me. 
  18. To have more moments when I remember why someone so cute and funny and wonderful chose me. (It's because I can be awesome. And awful. But more awesome. At least I'd like to think).
  19. To do something fearless this year and feel good about it no matter the outcome. 
  20. Is my list starting to look more like resolutions, Santa? Sorry about that. I resolve to be more on point. I mean, I would like for you to give me succinctness and the ability to digress less.
Happy Holidays, Santa. I have baked many cookies for your visit, but sadly have eaten most of them. There is, however, plenty of broccoli and salad for your reindeer. Haven't touched that stuff lately. And help yourself to Chef's Egg Nog. Unless that would put me on the naughty list, in which case I say hands off.

Safe Travels and Merry Christmas (and to everyone that's reading this too!),
Ashley

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Parties Out the Yang

A poorly lit photo of me and
a co-worker at our holiday
party. 
It's that time of year, isn't it? The time when you have a zillion holiday parties at various times for various people and with which you carry various levels of enthusiasm for?

I had three holiday parties last week and one the week before. Three of the four were work-related, because I'm still working on my LA friends. The one that was just the office and no clients was at a nice restaurant in Pasadena and included a Dirty Santa or White Elephant or whatever else you want to call a random gift exchange with present swaps and stealing. (What other names are there?) I ended up with a belly full of red wine, chocolate souffle, hangar steak and french fries, and a purse full of a new Sephora eye shadow palette (SCORE!).

The next night I grabbed some reindeer antlers with bells, and toilet paper (the perfect hostess gift in my opinion) and headed to some friends' housewarming/ holiday extravaganza. Because I'm kind of getting anti-social with new people in my old age and I wasn't drinking, I stayed for about 4 hours and then headed home. The party when on for another 5 hours. So technically I left halfway through. But I still had fun. And learned how to phonetically get my team to guess the name of the prime minister of Britain during World War I  (Clement Atlee). It was my shining moment in party games.

So, now I'm a little holiday partied out for a few days. However, I did make Christmas cookies out the yang (yes, there's a lot of things coming out of my yang in this post) yesterday, as well as homemade wheat bread. And a lasagna the night before. And my Christmas shopping is done and shipped. So I think I'm in a good place.

How many Holiday Parties have you been to this year? What were the White Elephant or Dirty Santa gifts that you ended up leaving with?

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Taste of Hollywood

When I left Nashville a few years ago, I wasn't the only one. There were a few people at my old place of work at the same time and with that a natural changing of the guard. One of those who came in as I left actually moved to SoCal a month or two ago. We had mutual friends and a mutual place of work and had met before, but hadn't really hung out. 

Until last night. She and her boyfriend were gracious enough to come up to Hollywood from their place in Orange County. She called me a little before we were supposed to meet and said they got tapped on the street to come to a Jimmy Kimmel Live taping and did I want to join them? My office is only a block away from the studio so I made good time and we were able to go.

It was fun. I had never been to a talk show taping. The guests were Hugh Jackman, Carson Daly and some guy from the show Happy Endings, which I'd never seen. He was actually the most entertaining of the three. Here's what I learned from the experience:
  • People will do almost anything for a $150 gift card.
  • There are a lot of people who will gladly laugh at anything.
  • I am not one of those people.
  • It's hard and oddly tiring to clap and cheer for what felt like an hour of the two hour taping. 
  • I may not be as in shape as I think since it hurt my upper arms to move my arms that much.
I had a great time and was super happy to have dinner and some drinks with my new friends afterward. I love how an ordinary-seeming day can turn into a memory if you just go with it. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Working My Way Through My List

Genghis looks so scholarly with his tie on.
Yes, I did go crazy. 
Slowly but surely I'm trying to get my holiday spirit together. Maybe it will come out a little bit more after the next couple of days when I have drinks with a friend, our company holiday party and another holiday party thrown by some other friends all in succession.

In the mean time, I may not have blogged in the last week, but that's not because I haven't been working on my Holiday Spirit Quest. I've actually gone through quite a bit of it and figure now's the time for a good ole recap through photos (and some commentary). So here goes:










3. Dress a cat in something holiday.
This is Genghis's turn in the holiday tie. He didn't love it nearly as much as I did.

 
Mila had a cute little white fur muff with a bow and jingle bells.
 However, the jingle bells were popular with the other cats who began chasing her more than normal. 

12. Make gingerbread men/ women.
AND
21. 
Buy a new Christmas decoration. (The plate under the cookies is cutely festive)
I didn't make women not because I'm a misogynist but because I'm too cheap to buy the other cookie cutter.

Proof that I made them myself and didn't just decorate them. 

6. Sing a Christmas carol at the top of my lungs.
AND 
16.  Listen to Christmas music for one week's worth of commutes.

I didn't exactly sing "Baby, I'ts Cold Outside" at the top of my lungs (It was "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"), but I only had a screenshot of my holiday Pandora.

I've also taken care of :
7. Donate to charity.

I've almost got all of my shopping done and shipped, plus I wrapped everything that I shipped myself, so feel confident that those will get done. I am also on target to see ICE at Santa Monica, visit a beach, drink a holiday latte, and make my mom's zucchini bread this weekend.

Tonight I'm going to drink a holiday libation with a friend and hopefully finish my holiday nails. 

My big question is: What do I craft???






Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Cat in a Hat and All That

I had the penguin last year.
I might be the Santa stocking
this year. Who knows?
Oh yeah, Santa does.
I'm working on my holiday spirit quest. This list doesn't seem as daunting as last year. Maybe I know my limits or maybe I'm not ready to be moved by the spirit, so to speak, but I've only slowly started working on this year's Holiday Spirit Quest. So far I have done:

  • Dress a cat in something holiday. I bought a Santa hat for the cats and then proceeded to make each one wear it until they looked appropriately humiliated. We might start using this as the cone of shame when they do something bad. I won't really count it until I get pictures of them wearing the hat. 
  • Watch a Christmas movie that I haven't seen in a long time or ever before. I watched "Elf" the other day. I had only seem bits of it and never the whole thing. So I'm counting it.
  • Put up Christmas decorations. It might be small, but it's all I've got (and want). The picture is our display, which still includes the "Snooki" ornament from my "something tacky" quest last year. I just couldn't part with it. Plus she's had a baby now, so that pre-baby body mold is a collector's item. 
I did buy the Gingerbread fixings and cookie cutter, but that is more of a weekend project. I'm working on the gift list and hope to get some knocked out this weekend. I think I'll wait one more weekend to go to ICE in Santa Monica. I actually went to a meeting at a resort at Huntington Beach yesterday. I could see the ocean, but since I didn't get to wiggle my sand in my toes, I'm not crossing it off the list. 

What have you done to get in the spirit so far?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

You Know You're An Adult When. . .

the most accomplished you feel on a weekend is from cleaning out closets. Or maybe that's just me. But I'm not the neatest of people. That's not saying that I'm not organized.  I typically know where everything is, but I live my life in piles.

There's a pile of pillows in the corner of our bedroom next to my side of the bed. They are the various sizes and fluffiness I need to accommodate any one of a number of sleep positions. (I will gladly take the pillow pile over the ambien that I needed for several years to get a good night's sleep. Ambien-free for more than two years now!). There are several piles of mail, magazines and various things that I bring through the door with the intent on dealing with. And I do, but only when the piles get too big.

We live in a small place. Partly to save money and partly because it's expensive as hell to live in LA. That does a lot to prevent a ton of clutter, but we have our fair share. And between my closet being a disaster, weird stuff littering our bedroom for various reasons (cat carrier, beach towel, aforementioned pillow pile, large plastic storage container with gardening paraphernalia, plastic file box containing all five of my journals and tons of my writing files, etc) and the main storage area bursting with piles of pure crap, it was all getting to be too much for me.

I decided to jump in head first on Saturday night and tore through the main closet. Failed attempts to entertain the cats in the form of broken feathers, broken laser pointers, and numerous jingle balls that are never used because they wake us up? Gone. Basket of yarn and various knitting needles that haven't been used in LA? Donated, saved and consolidated. The shelf with blankets and towels now ONLY contain blankets and towels. Not blankets, towels, knitting needles, moisture wicks, plant water meters, IU Santa statue, one sheet that would never be used, and cat medications.

Once that closet was tackled, it seemed like a no-brainer to tackle some of the bedroom and my closet while I listened to the Colts game. Shoes were weeded, seasonal clothes were taken to a different closet, anything I hadn't' wore in 6 months was donated. When I needed an idea on how to store my scarves in the closet, I searched for it on Pinterest and BAM! Easy storage attained.

I finished with 2 minutes left in the Colts game and got to scream and shout and scare the cats and neighbors with the full satisfaction of a Colts win AND clean closets. Ah. . . .Victory all around.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 Holiday Spirit Quest Continues...


Okay, I didn't get much help this year, but I'm trying my best. Some of these are the same because I liked them or liked doing them or they just didn't pan out like I had hoped last year. Some are new. Some are variations. All are designed to get me humming "Deck the Halls" under my breath and wishing every one I meet a "Happy Holidays." I'm slightly in denial that it's that time of year, but that's just me. The quest continues. . .
  1. Drink a holiday-flavored latte.
  2. Visit the beach during the Christmas season.
  3. Dress a cat in something holiday.
  4. Touch snow.
  5. Wear something that sparkles on a weekday for fun.
  6. Sing a Christmas carol at the top of my lungs.
  7. Donate to charity.
  8. Give a gift to a stranger.
  9. Have my Christmas shopping done before December 16th. 
  10. Ship my gifts to arrive on time.
  11. Craft something.
  12. Make gingerbread men/ women from scratch.
  13. Make my mom's famous zucchini bread.
  14. Dress up in something fancy for fun.
  15. Stuff Chef's stocking and have him stuff mine.
  16. Listen to Christmas music for one week's worth of commutes.
  17. Try a holiday libation.
  18. Visit ICE at Santa Monica and skate. 
  19. Watch a Christmas movie that I haven't seen in a long time or ever before.
  20. Paint my nails with festive polish.
  21. Put up Christmas Decorations.
  22. Buy a new Christmas decoration. 
  23. Wrap all my Christmas presents (no bags allowed!).
  24. Write a ridiculous Christmas list.
  25. Drive through Beverly Hills to look at the lights.
As usual, progress reports to come!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary, LA!

Two years ago today Chef and I made our way with the cats, a Nissan Sentra and a large Penske truck into Los Angeles where we headed to our new apartment and started to lay down roots in the city of angels. It's hard to believe that it's been two years since I left Nashville. I still miss my friends there and have yet to make as many friends here (but I have made some, which I'm proud of), but I'm happy we moved here.

Los Angeles has been an adventure and I don't think I was having enough of them before I got here. Despite anything else that has happened in my life, I'm always a little proud that I took a risk and moved across country with little knowledge of the area and only a hunch. While it was easier mentally to move to Los Angeles than Nashville because I have a partner in crime, it was way harder physically. Knowing that we're far enough away from family that I couldn't hop in car and get there in a couple of hours was a sobering experience. But thank goodness for modern technology. It's made the distance between the other ones I love seem much less expansive.

I can't believe how much I've done since I've been here. Here's a recap of some of the highlights:

  • I've gotten married. :)
  • Had two different jobs at two different companies. I've worked at more companies in two years in LA than my entire 9 years in Nashville. 
  • Traveled the US and a small part of Canada. Non-profits don't have a ton of "business trip" kind of jobs. For-profits do. While I miss Chef while I'm away, I've liked being able to see different areas of the country. Got to see Washington DC, Philadelphia and Las Vegas a LOT more than ever before. 
  • Went to the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Getty Villa, the Aquarium of the Pacific, a Hollywood homes tour, the Griffith Observatory, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, the American Horror Story Season One house, Staple Center, Angels Stadium, and so many more cool places.
  • I've become a redhead.
  • I've learned what the word "commute" really means and that estimating the time it takes to go one mile only works if you're on foot. I've also learned the hard way how much of my daily life that I'm willing to spend in a car for a job. 
  • I've found great sushi and shitty pizza.
  • I've gained the confidence in knowing that I can live and make it.
Now on next year's list, I want to add that I finished my novel and made headway in getting an agent. :) It's been a hell of a two years and cheers to many more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

30-something going on 20-something?

Chef got the new Taylor Swift album for me. Feel free to poke fun all you want. Mostly he did it because I asked him too and then because he loves to make me happy. I've been listening to it shamelessly for the past few days. I like to turn it up, roll the windows down and then watch the hipsters and Hollywood homeless look at the old weirdo listening to Taylor Swift in her Nissan Sentra. It's fun.

Part of the reason I like listening to Taylor Swift is because it reminds me of my late teens and early twenties. The whole being bad at relationships (although I don't think anyone is ever really GOOD at them; we're all varying shades of bad), hanging out with my girlfriends until the wee hours of the morning, eating at Denny's or Steak 'N Shake because they were the only things open. It was awesome.

And I don't really want to repeat it. I love getting together with my girls every now and again for some wine and good food, but I'm fairly certain that my intestinal tract and liver can't handle the kind of abuse I used to put my body through.

But more than anything, what I realize is that I didn't have all those failed relationships that most girls get to have when they're young. I spent most of my efforts on massive unrequited crushes that took up my time and energy but only left me wounded for a moment before I moved on to the next. There were a few that were stronger than others, but in the end, did I ever have those guys that I hung out with forever, made out with just as long and then dumped or got dumped? Not really. Part of that was being overweight and not feeling that I was attractive enough to land a guy. Part of it was having high enough self-worth to know that I didn't find most of these guys all that interesting.

Sometimes I wonder if I would do things differently if I were to go back. Would I truly try to be in more relationships? (Poor Chef had to deal with the brunt of a lot of my relationship naivete) Or do I just feel like I missed out on something that I probably wouldn't have enjoyed all that much in the end? Who's to say, I guess. In the end, things didn't turn out too shabby. Which is something else I also bob my head to and think about as I'm rocking out to my Taylor Swift songs.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What to do for my Christmas Spirit Quest? I Need Your Opinion

So last year I decided that living in Southern California is awesome (well, I clearly decided that before last year, but I digress) except for the fact that I have to try and conjure up the holiday spirit in 72 degree weather. The only thing that helps replicate the winter is that sun going down at 4 p.m.

It was fun. I came up with a list of 25 things and spent the month working through them all. I loved ice skating, adored my Gingerbread house, still have my tacky ornament and gained weight with all the goodies I made (although I read today in Real Simple that the average person only gains 0.8 lbs per holiday season--hooray!). The question is:

What should be on this year's Christmas Spirit Quest list?

Here's a review of last year's list: http://brilliantmediocrity.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-get-in-holiday-spirit.html

Some items can be repeated, but I an open to new ideas!! What makes you feel like it's really Christmas?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's Official: I Quit Weight Watchers

Delicious downfall: Ravioli purses with ricotta
pears,  sage butter and dried cranberries
The weight loss saga continues. Let's be honest. At least I'm being honest with myself. The saga will continue for my entire life. It's just how it goes. However, this chapter has closed. The Weight Watchers chapter, not the weight loss chapter.

I officially cancelled my Weight Watchers subscription this week. Part of it was because I was not losing  ton of weight. Part of it was because I had stopped tracking for about five days, which is always the beginning of the end, and part of it was because I didn't really think it was for me. To be fair, when I actually concentrated on losing weight, I did. But I didn't really like the points system. And although I was heavier AT ONE TIME when I merely counted calories, I wasn't the last time--when I lost 20 lbs in found months. With WW, I lost 6 pounds in 4 months. Part of that was because I wasn't super into it.

The tracking system was okay. It had far less food in its database than other systems--like myfitnesspal--and was easy enough to use. But in the end, I just didn't like it. Perhaps it gave me too much freedom with weekly bonus points and exercise points. Perhaps it would've been nice to use to maintain weight (I certainly didn't gain any), but wouldn't work for me for the mean time.

That being said I'm going back to what worked for me...again. Calorie counting. High protein. More fruits and veggies. Daily exercise.  All starting. . . Monday :). I should at least get my holiday.In the end, I don't consider Weight Watchers a failure. I did end the program weighing less than I started. And that should count for something.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Regaining the Will to Live

I wish the headline was an exaggeration, but it's not. yesterday I had the will to live slowly drained from me as I had a migraine for about 12 hours. It was my longest migraine to date and the only one that got so bad that I had trouble seeing, which caused me to be nauseous and sent me home from work. I figured it would generally be frowned upon to lay my head on my keyboard all day and pray for the sweet relief of sleep. Not exactly billable hours.

I drove home and then curled up in  bed with the blinds closed for a few hours. I drifted in and out of sleep and then got up and moved to the couch. When I could deal with sound again, I laid there with my eyes closed and tried to keep the room from spinning. About 5 pm, I was able to not want to die. At 10 p.m., I could read again without feeling nauseous and this morning I was back to normal. Or as normal as I usually am.

I'm happy this happened yesterday and not last week. I was in Las Vegas for the second time in two weeks for work. By Sunday, I was ready to be home. The sounds of slot machines would ring in my ears at night (not that I was gambling. I prefer to keep my money in the mall--where I'm always a winner!). I did, however, get to take a 5 mile walk and see the new Twilight movie in between the convention and a lot of eating. Mostly I just wished I was at home with my hubby. :)

Here are some shots from the trip:

Stayed at Caesar's and saw these t-shirts in the gift shop. They made me chuckle.

Walked over to the Bellagio to visit the work of one of my favorite artists--Dale Chihuly

The Bellagio also had this cool Fall scene with a beautiful talking tree

The tub in my room was large and jacuzzi. I took about 2-3 baths a day while I was there.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Sometimes It's the Little Things

People may find it hard to believe, but my new job is much like my old job at the American Heart Association. And in a good way. I say it may be hard to believe because my new job is working with a quick service restaurant and its accompanying charity. Heart disease and fast food that's the same? Yes. Mostly because the issue of obesity is literally and figuratively so large that everyone is working on it.

But I digress. I really like this job and I have fun doing things I like. I get to work with healthcare professionals and charity volunteers and media. I may start the day at a High Tea and end it chatting with physicians assistants. It's that the days are all different that's exhilarating and infuriating at the same time.

But mostly I try and appreciate the little things. And one of the little things is going to happen this week. And next week. First of all, I'm excited because I get to go to Las Vegas for the second time in two weeks. You might wonder why I'm excited this time, but it's because of this: the conference I'm working at is unlike any other that I've been at. It's only open from 7 a.m. to noon. Then it's free time! That's 19 hours every day to do what I want. I'm sure I'll work and I'll probably get caught up on sleep, but I know I'll also eat well, write and do some hanging out. I'll miss Chef, but if he wants to, he can totally come too.

The second thing is this: one of our staffers is leaving. Now that's not a good thing; don't get me wrong. She's been here forever (kinda like me at the AHA), and she's very good at what she does. I hope that I can contribute to the team like she does. But her departure brings me something to be thankful for: an office. I have been working in an open plan desk area for the four months I've been here. It's been good because I've been able to work and meet my new coworkers and get to know the account.

But let's face it. There's something nice about having  a door to shut when you don't want to be bothered. And some clearly defined space to call your own. I don't have my own "room" any more at home so having it work again will be nice. It had been about a decade since I hadn't had an office and I will now appreciate it more than ever. Fingers are crossed that the office comes through. While it has been mentioned, I know that it's not a done deal until my stuff is moved in.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Day

Do you remember the first election you voted in? Or better yet, the first PRESIDENTIAL election that you voted in? I remember waiting in line for about 30 minutes on that Tuesday morning at a local elementary school in my hometown. I was nervous. Something about showing my ID and voter registration card makes me nervous. I'm the same way with most government offices: the courthouse when Chef and I got married, voting, driver's licenses-you name it.

Anyway, I remember thinking this as I was casting my vote "I just cancelled out my Dad's vote." And it was glorious. Suddenly I realized that you didn't have to be a parent or older to have an opinion. I was able to say that my opinion was just as valuable as the next person's and in return so was theirs. The only stipulation was that I had to voice my opinion for it to count.  And voicing my opinion has never been a problem for me.

I won't get all political here, but only urge you to vote. Even if you are just cancelling out the vote of someone who disagrees with you. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On a lighter note. . .

I now work in an office that dresses up for Halloween. I've never been one to dress up much. Mostly because when you're overweight there aren't enough "sexy" or cute costumes so you end up being something like a nun, with lots of fabric.

But this year I panicked last night when I realized that just about everyone else was dressing up except me. So, I headed down two blocks on Hollywood Blvd (where it's Halloween 365 days a year) and got a few items to make my costume. In case you don't recognize it, I'm Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, one of my favorite characters of all time.

At the end of the day, I realized that I would love to wear a tiara every day.

Our whole work crew. My boss as Prince has to take the cake. She really committed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is 33 too young to start thinking of your mortality?

Lately I've been obsessed with time and I'm not sure why. I feel like 33 is pretty young and therefore I should be LESS worried about time, but then I think of all I want to do with my life and the spiral starts again.

Maybe this is the consequence of having a parent who died relatively young. Or maybe I'm just slowly going insane. Or maybe I'm too ambitious. I really have no idea.

It was kicked back up lately because of a news story about how freezing eggs is now considered common practice and is covered by some insurance companies. They featured a woman on there who was 38 years old. Only five years older than I am. This freaked me out.

While the whole "should I have a kid?" debate is really for a completely different blog post (if at all.) To be honest, the kid thing has been a feeling that has been a pretty steady "no" for the majority of my life. And while I'm not sure it will change, I abhor the thought that my indecision would make a decision for me. Not just for this decision, but really for any decision. I want to be the person creating my life and not letting it just spring up around me.

But I digress. This is about time. And all the things I'm scared that I won't get finished. First of all, I am afraid this damn novel will never get done. Then I'm afraid I'll never get to the point of owning a home. Or eventually having a job where I work for myself (that's less about time and more about fear). But honestly, isn't it all really about fear? I always thought I was fairly fearless, but come to find out that's not so much case. So now fear of dying before things get done is becoming my mantra.

I guess I have two choices: 1) keep thinking these morbid thoughts and do nothing or 2) use this to do something. I'm probably more of a choice #2 person. Any advice?

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Word: Snarky



I saw this video a few days ago and it continues to make me laugh so I am sharing it. This is for all those social media managers and PR people who WISH we could respond like this. And kudos to Bodyform for having the guts as a brand to do it. It's hilarious! And for the agency who executed I'm sure it was the one time their client said "make us a viral video" and they did.

I especially love the blue water she drinks from. It's a snarky and awesome video. You're welcome.

For the background on what prompted the video, here you go.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Philly Trip: A Photo Essay

I've been a little busy lately. In fact, yesterday was the first day in October that I had off. And I relished in it. But in the mean time, my busyness has made for some fun pictures of what I've been doing. Here are some from my work trip to Philadelphia where I was at a conference with 9,000 nutritionists. And I still had a plethora of Diet Dr. Pepper. Turns out even nutritionists love soft drinks.

A giant paint brush with a dollop of paint

Ben Franklin cranking away at being a craftsman. (Before his whore-y Paris days)

Philly City Hall-- I saw it at least twice a day because I tried to walk from my hotel everywhere. 1) I hate cabs. 2) I was trying to stay somewhat active. 

The famous LOVE statue. It made me miss Chef.

The booth is where I spent most of my time. The robot was a visitor from a neighboring booth. People loved the robot. 

My friend Meredith who found the BEST place for us to eat dinner.

The outside of Tulala's Garden. It was just as cute on the inside and MAN was the food delicious. Couldn't have had a better meal.

Philly was fun and I was also lucky enough to meet up with (but not take pictures of which is stupid of me) my friend from my college internship, Beth. I also had the joy of meeting Beth's baby, Adelaide, and her awesome husband Tim. All in all my only complaint was that it rained. And for a girl who lives in sunshine and was walking everywhere, this was an adjustment. But I look forward to going back again and actually seeing more sights!

Friday, October 05, 2012

I Made a Friend Today

This morning started like most morning but because I was headed to the airport instead of work, I was in the gym a little later than normal. I walked in and saw a girl in a wheelchair that I've seen around the complex a few times. I nodded and then got on the treadmill for my workout.  I was 23 second from being done when I heard a crash. I looked over and saw the girl had fallen.

Apparently, I reacted quickly and calmly and was by her side to help in record time. I asked if she needed help getting back in her chair and she said yes, please. We figured out the logistics which at one point included me grabbing in between her legs and really close to her crotch to help hold down the chair cover while she slid back.

"Are you in the healthcare field?" she asked as she was back in her chair.

"No, why?"

"You were just so quick and calm in reacting. I really appreciate it. I couldn't imagine what I would've done f you hadn't been here," she said. "I'm Tiffany."

I exchanged names and we chatted a little longer. Turns out she's being followed now for a reality show on paraplegic women. She said she was glad they weren't here to catch this. Basically she was so lost in stretching she ended up tipping the chair over. I  wondered if that ever happened because I know if I were in a wheelchair I'd still carry my klutziness with me.

Anyway, I made a new workout room/ complex friend. I think I've met about 10 percent of the complex in that place and so far only one creepy guy. That's pretty good odds.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Letter to My Body

Dear Body:
You and I have not always gotten along. In fact, I'm sure sometimes we've been on entirely different pages. For example, I'm not known for my grace and that's partly because of my lack of balance. And do you remember when puberty hit and you made my boobs grow from an A cup to a DD cup in the eighth grade? Or how about the psoriasis that leaves me looking like it's snowing in July when I don't use my medicine (okay, I'll take some of the blame there). There was that lovely bout of adult acne you surprised me with a few months ago, and the poor eyesight you blessed me with.

I was pretty sure you were being an asshole once again, Body, these last few weeks. I was ready to blame you and Weight Watchers for my mental anguish, but I think you could sense my frustration. I have been on Weight Watchers for a little more than 8 weeks now.

While I hadn't been perfect in my eating habits, I had been under my points goal each week (meaning I had not completely depleted my "weekly bonus points" and my banked activity points--and if you haven't done Weight Watchers, just take that to mean that I had done what I was supposed to to lose weight). I had lost a few pounds (a little over 3 to be exact) and while Chef was doing a good job of talking me off the ledge, my inner monologue was less forgiving. How the hell could I NOT be losing weight when I had cut out multiple indulgences in bad fast food decisions and baked good runs? But I didn't lose every week. In fact, I had gained more than a pound and half when I was at wit's end.

"I lost more weight when I just counted calories FOR FREE," I thought to myself and said aloud. A few naive but well-meaning people tried to talk me through the weight loss process. I tried not to bite back with a "I'm familiar. I did lose 90 lbs in one chunk before, so I know how this goes."  But since they didn't really know that and I wanted to keep friends and encouraging people in my life, I bit my tongue.

But Body, this week it's like you knew. You knew I was at wit's end and decided that now was the time to kick it in gear. You motivated me with extra energy and rewarded me this week with a 3 lb weight loss on weigh-in day (and then shed another 1.4 lbs the day after because you know that I'm obsessive and weigh in every day). So now I'm more motivated than ever. I have lost just over 8 lbs and am almost at 1 lb per week, which seems so much better than just under half a pound per week.

And because you knew that I needed it, you shed some lbs where people would notice so that I got not one but three comments on my weight loss by different, random people.

To show there's no hard feelings, I'll keep up the exercise and healthy living. But in return if you could turn some of this flab into muscle and just get rid of some of the fat, I'd appreciate it.

Thank you!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Better than Domino's

The finished lightened up white pizza.
We've been on a kick of eating from recipes we've gotten off of Pinterest. (And to clarify the "we", Chef cooks and I find the recipes--as if you hadn't guessed that already). I was thinking of trying the cheesy quinoa tonight, but we ran out of milk. So I was kept late at an appointment and Chef was left to try to make something else--without any protein thawed or ready. We have a weekly list of recipes that we use to pull our nightly selection from. Typically, I've pulled chicken or beef or whatnot from the fridge to have it ready.

In this case, Chef whipped up a white pizza that I'd pinned recently from the blog Emily Bites. Being that I know my husband, I told him to look it over and jazz it up. And jazz it up he did.

He seasoned the crap out of the chicken breasts and cooked them in a pan then de-glazed the pan with a little white wine. He then carmelized some garlic (like 3 times as much as the recipe calls for because I LOVE garlic) and added some red pepper flake. He then added that to the Classico Light Alfredo sauce the recipe called for. He substituted basil for spinach (because he could just pluck the basil from our patio) and it was a masterpiece. Seriously it was one of the best pizzas I've ever had and definitely the best pizza I've had in LA. It was cheaper, more delicious, healthier and quicker than any delivery or frozen pie. And that's saying something. From the moment I walked in the door to the moment I was stuffing my face with pizza, it was 15 minutes (he did, however, cook the chicken and prep the topping before I got home to keep me from getting hangry).

Results are pictured and my waistline is still the same size, yet completely satisfied. It felt so decadent. I feel like Oprah when she had Bob Greene and Dr. Phil and the whole damn team helping her lose weight. Except I've got Chef and he's all of them rolled into one. I'm so lucky.

If the picture doesn't convince you, your stomach will--you should be following me on Pinterest.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I Saw the Biggest Star in Hollywood Today

It wasn't Ryan Gosling or Channing Tatum or Amanda Bynes. It was the space shuttle Endeavor. The shuttle was taking it's last flight to end up at the California Science Center to be on exhibit. But it's not everyday that a space shuttle is riding on the back of a ginormous jet with two small jets flanking it at only about 1500 feet. It made a bunch of loops around the city. People were camping out at the Griffith Observatory just to get a glimpse. But being in Hollywood on the 7th floor of a building has its privileges. We got to see the shuttle go by five times and once it was right over our building. So close you could hear the roar of the engines clearly.

Needless to say, it was hard to concentrate on work again after that.

It was hard to take good pictures, but here are a few that I snapped:

From when it went over Universal Studios

On its way back over our area

As it's heading up to circle the Hollywood Sign (covered by trees on the left)

You can't see it but this was the shot after it had flown over our building.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wow. Look at Those Cans!

Chef and I were in Orange County this past weekend and dipped into a local mall to soothe my shopping-loving soul. We were surprised and amazed when we came upon these can sculptures. Made entirely of cans, these things are built by local design firms and the food is donated to charity. Pretty cool, huh? We only saw two, but in my opinion the best two. The Facebook page for Canstruction Orange County that has all 20 photos.

The back of the M&Ms bag sculpture

The front of the M& M's bag structure

Hope you like tune and soup!

Winnie the Pooh sleeping on some honey

The honey pot runneth over

Monday, September 17, 2012

It was a Month since I Slept in A Bed

California Hot
This is a little embarrassing to admit, but last night was the first night in more than a month that I slept in a bed. You might ask why and the answer is simple: it's been hot as balls.

Or at least "California hot." I firmly believe that each state has it's own version of hot. In Indiana, hot meant that it felt like you were stepping into a bath tub when the front door opened and you were on things like "Ozone alerts" when it got really hot. For those of you not in the know, an "ozone alert" day meant that you should not go to the drive-thru or mow your lawn. I assume as to not contribute to more ozone-destroying behavior, but I can't be entirely too sure.

In Tennessee, hot was similar to that of Indiana but with a valley that just managed to recycle heat over and over. It also had a tendency to rain for a few hours which just made it hotter.

California hot is easily the most bearable of the hots I'm most accustomed to (I'm not even going to mention the week I was in New Orleans in June--that's just a swampland of crazy people). It's undeniably hot--lately it's been over 100 degrees each day, but it's not necessarily humid so it feels nicer. It's hard to explain that to people who've lived here their whole lives, but any transplant from the South knows what I'm talking about.

Anyway, it's been hot here and part of being in California where it's only normally hot like 5 days a year means that there aren't a lot of apartments or condos or houses with central heat and air. It's just not a necessity which means that they don't invest in it. So, our apartment has a window AC unit in the living room which doesn't get the bedroom cool AT ALL. Usually we just turn the AC off and open the bedroom windows. But after two days of tossing and turning because I was roasting in my sleep, I decided to take matters into my own hands and move my bedding into the living room where I could sleep in direct air-shot of the air conditioning.

At first it felt like camping out to have our stuff strewn in our living room. And I LOVED snuggling down at night and watching TV with Chef and not worrying about when he was coming to bed. Plus we trained the cats to sleep together instead of alternating some to leave out of the bedroom. It felt like a pallet of loveliness. So much so that I just kept it out. Who needs a living room floor anyway? We don't have kids so it's not hurting anyone. It's kind of like having cereal for dinner for a week straight. As an adult, it's my prerogative.

I was getting ready to pick it up last week and then a huge heatwave came in and it was back to 100-plus degree temperatures, so that wasn't happening. Last night, I finally threw in the comforter and picked it up. Our living room has never looked so big. And you'd like that I would've missed my bed more than I have, but I have to say, it was nice to change things up for a while. A new scene. Plus if I ever had to get rid of my bed, I know that I could handle it just fine.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Flashback Friday: 1999

Thanks Natalie for digging this relic up.
It's hard to look at this picture. Mostly because I look at it and it's hard to believe. It's hard to believe this picture was taken 13 years ago. What the hell? Where did the time go?

It's hard to believe that I was that different looking. Fine, I'll be honest. It's hard to believe that I was that fat. The sad (or happy?) thing was that I got even fatter before I turned it around.

It's also hard to believe that at my height I thought I could pull of a floor length skirt for work wear.

But I digress. To give you some context, this picture was taken in Evansville (I'm guessing you deduced that but just in case) in 1999 in my second year of interning for the local paper, The Evansville Courier & Press. It was my first real look into having a real job (well, technically my second look since I had had the internship the year before and loved it). I realized at that point whether it was working for a newspaper or just working that I needed to be in the communications field. I wanted to write, talk to people, and tell stories. Also I realized that despite it being the second round of people that I was exposed to, I liked them just as much as the first. That was the first time it dawned on me that most people drawn to the communications or media field have fairly similar and congenial personalities. There are some exceptions, but all in all it seems to be true.

You know how people are always looking at themselves younger and say "If I knew then what I know now. . . " or "I wish I could tell my younger self. . .". I'm not sure I feel either way. I mean, I've seen enough time travel movies in my day (and I believe them to be almost like documentaries in their depiction of how time travel would work) to know that telling my younger self things about the future could derail me from the track I went on. And honestly, I like my life. Plus if I told myself that I was going to live in Nashville for almost a decade and then move to LA, I would've thought that future me was severe drug addict. Because I'd only been to Nashville twice in my life at that point--once to go to Opryland and once to go to a basketball tournament-both as a child--and I had never been to LA.

The one thing I would say to me in 1999 is this: Things are going to get really shitty for while and it's going to be really sudden, but it'll be okay. You'll be okay. Just do what you do because you're instincts aren't too shabby.

Hopefully me in 13 years will look back and say the same thing to 2012 me. Minus the shitty part.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hello. My name is Alicia.

Have you ever let something get so far along that by the time you realize what's happened it's too late? That's kind of where I'm at right now. It's one of those awkward social moments that would inspire Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld to write something brilliant. But for me, it's my daily life.

I've been on the new job for about two months now (still loving it). The office is on the seventh floor of a building on Hollywood Blvd. The fun thing is that weird shit happens around here nearly every day. It might be just a random false fire alarm or having a traffic stop trap outside our window or the religious protesters who walk up and down the street every day chanting around noon (it's how I know it's lunch time) or a helicopter going down. It's never dull.

But we have a security guard that patrols the grounds and sits in the lobby to protect us from any errant homeless that might roll up. It happens. It happened in Nashville too. Not so much in Thousand Oaks, but that's a different story. The security guard is a very nice man who has a slight accent. His name is Rocqui (pronounced Rocky, but he's from the Philippines so it's their version spelling). Since my dad's name is Rocky, it's easy for me to remember.

However, when we were introduced, he must of misheard my name. And because he has a slight accent it wasn't until three weeks into the job that I realized that Rocqui thought my name was Alicia. And now he says hi and bye to Alicia every day. It's been two months.Too late to correct him without us both feeling awkward. And honestly, do I really care if someone thinks my name is Alicia? It only matters in those brief moments in the day when I walk by the security desk.

At this point, I am Alicia. At least twice a day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's One Rule

I was cracking up watching a Little Caesar's commercial the other day and Chef asked me to replay it. Not only did he chuckle, but at the end he said "That's my friend!". Turns out one of his buddies, a funny dude who occasionally does gigs like this, is the guy who must abide by one rule. Check it out and chuckle.


Monday, September 10, 2012

My New Crack

My Skinny Funfetti Dip
Yesterday I made crack. For the first time. Because it's crack, I'll probably be drawn to making it again, but I have plenty of it right now, so I'm good for a while.

By crack, I mean MY crack. Not actual crack cocaine. But my version: Skinny Funfetti Dip. It's like taking cake batter and making it less guilty. And it's stupid simple. I was scooping the hell out of it with some mini Teddy Grahams last night. Clearly it still has calories, but let's just say those little Teddy mofos were covered in the dip.

I got it from Pinterest. (Yesterday was my Pinterest experiment day: Kale chips, Bubble Up Enchiladas, lower cal white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, and the funfetti dip). And it was stupid simple to make: Funfetti cake mix, yogurt and cool whip. I used vanilla yogurt instead of the plain, but whatever floats your boat. Here's the link from the Eat Yourself Skinny blog that made my crack possible.

If you want to check out the other recipes, they're on my Pinterest board, which just hit 200 pins. Which means that I have so many more dinners and snacks and desserts to try out. Or have Chef make too.

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