Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sinner Showing Strikes Again

Two story  panels for
 World War Z at Arclight Hollywood
It's still our favorite time to go see a movie. Early on Sunday morning. There were literally 13 people in the theater we saw World War Z in this morning. I have been waiting for this movie for a while. Read the book. Loved it. Was curious about how it would be as a movie, as the book is not really an edge of your seat kind of thriller. The movie, however, is. I think I jumped at least three times. The ending has been much bemoaned, and I will agree it's not the strongest, but I'm not sure In think of how I would've ended it that would have lived up to the momentum that was built throughout. Plus Brad Pitt is in it. So there's that.

Since I don't want to ruin it for you, I'll just say that I give it 3.5 stars out of 4. Loved it. But I'm pretty easy on most movies nowadays. Chef and I have been talking about how much we've been enjoying going to movies now. I don't know if it's the proximity to those who actually make the movies or the buzz about town that seems to be inescapable, but the love I've always had for being whisked away by a story has multiplied the older I've gotten. Maybe I want to escape reality more and more or maybe I just value good storytelling more now, whether it's in written or visual form.

Anyway, I've seen four new movies in the last 5-6 weeks. (World War Z, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Man of Steel and Now You See Me). And I can only see more in the future since Matt Damon's new one is coming out in August. I'm also curious about The Lone Ranger. Less because of Johnny Depp or anything other than nostalgia. The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) was the first movie my parents took me to see as a child. We even had it on VHS to watch, along with a copy of the first movie that my brother ever saw....Star Wars. I think he might've gotten more of a classic.

Is it just me or are there a lot of good movies out this summer? What do you want to see?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Vacation is Over

I'm so fast...I'm a blur!
Well, duh. My vacation has been over for literally weeks. But between it and work travel, it felt like I was on a vacation. . .but only from eating well and working out. I hadn't stepped on a treadmill for almost three weeks until this Monday. I haven't gone that long without regular exercise of some sort in years. Which also explains the weight gain. Well, not completely. But stuffing my face with anything that sounded good at any time of day even if I was full probably does. Oh and sweet potato pancakes. I only had them for one meal, but I believe they added at least 3 pounds on me.

Anyway, I went back to work in many ways this week. My first full week in the office in almost a month. Yes, really. Not to say I haven't worked a full week, because I have, but been travelling, had holidays and the aforementioned and blogged

Waiting for me
about vacation. So BAM! The perfect storm for pudginess.
On another related note, I've been receiving more mail this week than in my entire life. Why am I so popular? I'm administering a grant program for a client  and we've had more than 80 come in--two-thirds in the last three days. The thrill of receiving a package with your name on it is completely lost on me right now. Although I still love the program because I'm a non-profit nerd and love checking out what everyone is doing. It's in my blood.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When People Used to Shove Kids for Beanie Babies

My friend Anne worked in a store that sold Beanie Babies back in their heyday. Then she recruited me to do it as well. Oddly enough our third friend Schultz also sold Beanie Babies at a place. Which makes me think that either we all just had a penchant for retail or that there were a shitload of places that sold Beanie Babies in Indiana. Probably both.

At the time, Beanie Babies were the shit. When shipments would come in, there would be hysteria. People would literally wait on the UPS man to arrive and see if he had any boxes that looked like they came from Ty (the company behind said bean-stuffed animals). If so, minutes later there would mysteriously be a line forming or a lot of women just browsing randomly. This was back before right when cell phones were taking off but before texting so imagine an old-fashioned call tree but instead of the purpose being to prep for an emergency, it was to alert the masses of the arrival of the Christ child. . .aka the Princess Diana Beanie Bear.

The mob was so damn unruly sometimes that Anne had to put the smack down and institute a "Shove a kid,
no Beanie" policy. Yes, it was that bad.

And to cap off the Beanie-related craziness, there was the time that I locked up at one of the stores and then Anne opened the next morning. She got there and discovered that the back door was open, the cash register and night deposit were gone and so were one of each of the Beanie Babies we carried. They took cash and Beanie Babies and then ran out the back of the store, leaving the back door open and a trail of stuffed pink flamingos and tigers in their wake.

The best part of the story, at least in me opinion, was the the burglar came in through a hole they had dug from the Christian Bookstore next store, called "1st Commandment". There was no sign of forced entry so they assumed it was a disgruntled employee...from the Christian bookstore. (For the record, "Thou Shall Not Steal" is the eighth commandment.)

Why am I bringing all this up? Because Buzzfeed just did a recap that all those Beanie Babies that were going to be worth so damn much that you should multiple and make sure you have a plastic hanger tag cover are in fact worth jack shit. Surprise!

Check it out here. How many Beanie Babies do you own?


Monday, June 24, 2013

Products Making a Splash Today

You don't know what you got til it's gone.
The headline might be kind of a stretch. The one product making a splash today was the Twinkie, which announced it comeback date of July 15th with a HUGE billboard at Hollywood & Highland. Who knew the beloved snack cake would create such an uproar when it was threatened? I love Twinkies, but apparently not as much as most other people, judging by the uproar. I was always more partial to the Oatmeal Cream Pie or Swiss roll, myself. But then again, my school cafeterias were always stocked with a plethora of Little Debbie products. Maybe that's just Indiana.

The second product I spotted in a local 7-Eleven and thought was
Creepy
a joke. Shaq Soda?!?! Really? Do I need a 7-foot tall man hawking me everything? From soda to Buicks to Goldbond Medicated products to Icy hot. I wouldn't be all that surprised if he ended up with his own line of tampons soon. He was always good at blocking things. Just sayin'.

And on a completely different note altogether, can we just all agree that paper toilet seat covers are 100 percent worthless? They always fall into the bowl and then take two flushes to get down. And if the toilet seat is that disgusting looking in the first place, then you're probably already contaminated. Let's just hover and save some trees.

Happy Monday from my head full of randomness!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why I Shouldn't Be Single Again

KaBoom volunteers
If there was any example about why I shouldn't be single again, today is that example. I got up at noon. I watched TV all day. I ate junk food most of the weekend because I didn't have to cook it. I had no problem watching the Jodi Arias movie on Lifetime; no shame or embarrassment. I've talked to the cats more than normal.

Happy, not Sad, Pandas
And that is only ONE day. Not so say that if something didn't happen that I couldn't learn to live the single life again, but it would take a while for me to get back in the swing of things. Luckily, I did spend most of Saturday working on a KaBoom playground build. It was for a client, which I have to disclose even though this is a personal blog. It's an FCC law and I'll use another post to talk
about that.

Anyway, Chef is out of town until tomorrow night, working on a photo shoot that a client sent him on. It makes me proud to say that, but getting a taste of my own "I'm traveling for work" medicine is interesting.

Mostly I realized that I would be about 100 pounds heavier without some accountability. I'm getting fluffy again, which translates into pudgy which means that the last three weeks that I've spent traveling for whatever reason and not exercising have caught up with me.

The treadmill begins again tomorrow.

Khubla and I were both lazy as hell this weekend. Or at least today,

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Love Michael Shannon (Contains a SH#$Load of Profanity)


I came across this a long time ago and it has gotten me through many a bad day. It's got a TON of profanity, but two tons of humor. Not for the easily offended. Enjoy!



Friday, June 21, 2013

Reputations are Created in Years, but Gone In Minutes-- Yes, I'm Talking About Paula Deen



 The thing about PR is that you only really notice it when it's bad. Meaning that someone either didn't do it well or none was done at all.

Case in point: Paula Deen. I was critical of her for hiding her diabetes from the public for years while she continued to make recipes that she probably couldn't eat without an insulin shot. But she was smart enough to get a pharmaceutical company endorsement out of it. This time, I don't think there's anyone on the other side of racism that might endorse her.

Paula got sued by a former manager of her Savannah restaurant for using racial slurs, inappropriate language and all kinds of other stuff. The lawsuit was for $1.2 million. Her brand is reportedly worth about $17 million a year. So for about 7 percent of her earnings...THIS YEAR, she could have avoided all this. Hell, if she had good lawyers, she probably could've gotten it for less.

And then there's the PR around the mea culpa tour. Who the hell is doing it for her? You don't say you'll go on to a nationally televised morning show like Today and then back out with no explanation. Not good.

Then she gives a very vague video apology in drag queen make-up. Video apologies suck because they seem totally controlled by the apologizer and not so sincere. This was no different.

Then because that apology sucked, she issues another video apology in front of the giant vat of make-up (see above) probably used to give her that specific shade of Oompa Loompa that is so desired.

At no time does she mention crossing sensitive racial lines. I realize that Paula's in the middle of a court case so she can't admit fault, but let's be honest, she should've just coughed up the money. So, the Food Network decided to "not renew her contract at the end of the month." Either they are constantly undergoing contract negotiations or this was just the best timing in the world for Food Network to have something like this happen.

Because now Jamie and Bobby are probably out of a job too. Hopefully they're just as tight as she is and have been stockpiling away the money so they can be unemployed for a while.

All this to say this: If someone you love finds themselves embroiled in a very sticky,very nasty public relations brouhaha, have them hire someone reputable. Or better yet, have someone they love and respect do them a solid by just telling them to settle!!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pancakes, Passions and Old Hometowns

Greg and I. He's hard to get
into a selfie, because he's over
a foot taller than I am!
On my last day out of town last week, I spent an entire day in my last hometown before my new hometown, Nashville. The day before I had had breakfast in Evansville with my stepdad and his fiance, and this day I had breakfast with my friend Greg at the Pancake Pantry. First of all, it was heaven sent because there was no line. Second of all, sweet potato pancakes. That's all I need to say.

Of course, it was also awesome to see my good friend. I met such awesome people in Nashville. That was the one reason that made it so hard to leave. Greg is special because he's my writing friend. He's more than that, but it's rare to have people that you trust with your creative writing and he's one of them. I can say things that sound ridiculous and lofty like "I'm just not sure if the characters are strong enough." or "My work doesn't feel so authentic"
Home of long lines and
sweet potato pancakes
without sounding like a pretentious a-hole because he knows what I mean. And isn't it nice to have a cheerleader who isn't your family? I'm his cheerleader too. The dude deserves all the praise he's about to get when he publishes. At least I can be one of the few that say the read him BEFORE the book came out.

After breakfast, I did some putzing around town. I got a pedicure at Signature Nails, a place that my friend Michelle turned me on to when I lived there. It's awesome and I still haven't found a nail spot in LA like it, but part of that reason is that most LA nail salons are $30 for manicure-pedicures. No, that's not each. That's combined. Mani-pedis are literally one of the few things in LA that are cheaper than nearly anywhere else. But you definitely lose something.

Then I headed to my old haunt, the AHA office. I had a late lunch with Kelly, Evon and Joyce. Caught up on all the people we used to work with and the way things have changed. It was awesome. Then I got to meet up with another friend, Alyssa and have some dessert as my last visit before I got on the plane.

  • Total days of Vacation: 6
  • Total miles driven in rental car: 1,054
  • Total number of people seen: 37

TOTALLY worth it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When I was a Nanny. . .


for the briefest of moments, I helped my cousin Monica with her four girls and my other cousin Julie with her son while Julie, her husband and her parents went to Europe. It was awesome. On the first day, I overcame a rookie mistake. We had just fed the twins and one was getting squirrel-ly, so I picked her up and lifted her above my head. . .and she promptly spit up into my open mouth. It was like the reverse momma bird treatment.

These are the twins now. (Brooke and Abbey in a tornado machine)

Yeah, I feel old. The oldest daughter, Paula, had just finished up kindergarten when I was helping out. She just graduated from high school. INSANE.
Paula (back to us) and Julieanne
My cousin Monica
Anyway, I met up with them all in Nashville at the Adventure Science Center and had a great time catching up.

Then I went over to see this cutie. How can I NOT want to stay at Julie's house when she lures me in with such adorableness?!?! I am super thankful for her hospitality. Especially since I was about ready to punch a baby to breath normally. It's a week later and I'm still getting rid of snot.

Luckily, I had gotten my Afrin and didn't have to punch anything to feel better. We ate some delicious food at the Southern and I complained incessantly about the humidity killing my spirit. All in all, it was awesome. I miss my Julie, but am so happy that I get to see her--and everyone!
I cannot say no to Miles. Could you? No. Didn't think so.
Miles leading Joey and Julie!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Week Ago. . . .

Naughty Auda and Me
In continuing with my shortened recount of where I was on my trip last week, I'll continue with last Monday. I got up at 6:36 EST. I only mention this because that equates to 3:36 PST. Which is kind of how my entire week went in some way or another. I ended up sleeping about 3 hours each night. Kind of explains why I started sneezing and being stuffed up last week and have spent all weekend sleeping and draining.

I got to Oakland City to visit my dad, took a tour of his campus and then headed off to see my grandma Wrye, aka Naughty Auda (which rhymes and is perhaps the most awesome nickname of all time, which makes sense because she's the most awesome lady of all time). We had a nice long visit. The only bummer of this trip was not getting to see my aunts and uncles on my dad's side. Since it was wedding on the Mom's side and I hadn't seen them in a LONG time, they got the visit. But it sucks having to miss people.

After seeing grandma, I met my dad at the Barnes and Noble, which used to be favorite jaunt of mine, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."
checked out the bargain books. Sadly because of suitcase space and the "it's cheaper on Kindle" rationale, I only really check out local authors and discount books at the chain bookstores. Independent bookstores are a whole different matter. Apparently Evansville doesn't read enough because I got three bargain books for less than $16 and was a happy camper. What didn't make me so happy was the FIVE bookshelves dedicated to "Teen Paranormal Romance" and "NEW Teen Paranormal Romance." I totally blame Stephenie Meyer. Damn, Twilight books have made all teen girls think that true love is only available with a vampire, zombie or werewolf. I might end up writing something in YA just to go against the grain. Although I'm not sure I can do it as well as Sherman Alexie's "

I totally want Hermione's wand.
But they did redeem themselves with this little beauty from Hermione. :)

Dad and I went to a movie ("Now You See Me"--not too shabby) and dinner (for Father's Day) and just had a nice night. ... so I could get up again the next morning for more visiting.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

They Call them "Lifelong friends" for a Reason

The view from my rental car 

In the next installment of my trip, I woke up early and trekked up to Indianapolis. While my family lives in Southern Indiana, my friends (aka family you choose) primarily live up north. I can't go to the state of Indiana, or really any where near it, without making an effort to see my girls. They have been my sanity when shit goes down, my humor when I need to laugh, my humility when I need to laugh at myself, and some of the only people who have seen my overly-dyed blonde hair shine under black light.

So yeah, they're fucking awesome.

Anne and Amanda, College Roommates/ Lifelong Friends
I drove many two-lane highways and in all my driving over the trip (ended up at 1,054 miles in 5 days), and the thing I remember most was "Wow! This is what it's like to drive somewhere and actually motor". My drive from Nashville to Evansville the first night was so dark and deserted at 9 p.m. that I freaked out a little bit.

Anyway, I made my way to Amanda's house, which is like another home away from home, and got to hang with her and Anne. Then we met up with Brooke and Lara at a great tapas placed in downtown Indy. It was kind of weird and kind of awesome to think that we hadn't been together in about 10 years. TEN YEARS!! I've seen most everyone individually during that time, but not together. When you see people every day growing up, it's hard to imagine a time when you won't see them everyday. Even harder to imagine a time when you don't see them every day and aren't dying from loneliness. But I guess that's what happens with adulthood.

Anyway, we had a four hour dinner and it was awesome catching up. It's moments like those when I remember my dad's saying "You only get so many lifelong friends in life." And he's right. There are only so many people who know you your whole life. While technically this group hasn't known me my whole life, they've known me for my whole adult life (aka from high school on), so I totally count it. They are my lifelong friends and I'm lucky to have them.

It was an awesome trip to Indy, even if it was short, but mostly I just appreciated everyone being able to come see me.


Anne, Me, Amanda, Lara and Brooke- 10 years is too long!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The REAL Reason for the Trip (One Week Ago)

The wedding grounds from the first floor
A week ago, I had my real reason for heading to Indiana-Nashville: my cousin Lauren's (and Adam's) wedding. Not that I wasn't going to see family, because I was and I did. But the event that prompted my visit away from my usual "late summer when the allergens have been all dried up"  time period to the more moist and allergy-laden period was the wedding.

My cousin got married at her family's beautiful house in the middle of a cornfield. It was beautiful, gorgeous, and quintessential Indiana. My uncle had strung lots of lights above their pool and in the large trees that surrounded us to make the place, which is picturesque by day, even more beautiful at night. It was fun, lively and had free booze. The highlight of the night was hijacking one of the golf carts used to transport guests from the parking lot to the house. My cousin Doug, his son Eli, my cousin Austin, and I went rolling around the country roads in pitch black. I hung on to 4 year-old Eli for dear life, as flashbacks of another day when my friend went tumbling off the back of a very similar golf cart flashed through my head.

All in all, a beautiful night where I got to catch up with family members that I hadn't seen in a while, and enjoyed a beautiful wedding.
My Uncle Jeff walking Lauren down the aisle

Doug Smith,  Michael Clark and Me. Cousins reunited for the purpose of party. 

The lights reflected beautifully off the pool and provided a beautiful environment for the fun.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Nashville-Princeton Leg of The Trip: Seeing the Smiths (and Tony Hale)

Aunt Barb and I at the restaurant
Because the trip back east/ south was so packed, even if it wasn't long, I'm going to break it up into lots of smaller blog posts. If I did one long blog post, you would never read it because it was too long and I would write it months after the actual trip because I would dread writing something so long that it would get put off. Then we would both lose.

Me and my Cousin Doug
Who I saw on the plane:
Tony Hale
aka Buster
Bluth
My plane (yes, I'm starting THAT early in the trip, so hang on) was delayed for an hour because President Obama was flying into LAX when I was scheduled to fly out. American also didn't have a seat assigned for me and didn't get one until after we were well into boarding. It made me nervous as hell, but in the end I got a seat. I suppose I can't complain that it was sandwiched with babies surrounding me and right next to the toilet.

As I was sitting there near the the line for the bathroom, the one thing keeping me sane was watching the new seasons of Arrested Development on my iPad. I look up and see Buster from the show looking back at me, but it wasn't my iPad. He was on the same flight to Nashville. It was surreal. And awesome. I was so sure it wasn't him that I didn't say anything and only confirmed it when I checked his twitter account days later.

Anyway, landed, got rental car and drove up to Evansville to stay the night at my stepdad's empty house (he was on vacation). It was nice to get in about 11 p.m. and not worry about waking anyone. Plus I used the time to go through boxes of my stuff that I took to my storage unit. mostly I found my old Glamour shots from when I was 14, but they made you look like you were 40. Honestly they look like something a pedophile would love. Creepily mature.


Overslept but still made it to Princeton to see my Aunt Barb, Cousin Doug and Doug's son Eli throughout the day. We mostly just talked and ate at the restaurant, but it was awesome. Hadn't seen them in about 7 years or so. Crazy. One of our adventures was driving to the local Wal-Mart which boasted a plethora of Duck Dynasty gear and Sold on TV products, but only two brands of imported beer. Seeing the pajama jeans in person was like another celebrity sighting for me.


We got ready for thew wedding, which was beautiful and as it was what prompted my visit, will need it's own blog post. Until then.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

When Bunny Slippers Don't Provide Enough Street Cred

If you are a fan of the bunny slipper, but think to yourself "Man, what these shoes really need are some street cred," then I have the perfect shoe for you!

These lovely camouflage-colored sneakers are high tops and come with a lovely teddy bear design that says "I'm soft enough to love stuffed animals, but I want to hide it by camouflaging my love".  The shoe itself is made from a lovely and what I'm sure is highly durable fleece with rubber soles for those moments when you need traction to get away from the scores of people that will surely chase you to get to these beauties. To help add to the street cred, the bear is wearing a flipped up backwards tan colored hat--think Spike Lee in those Nike commercials with Michael Jordan.

Alas, the teddy bear camouflage sneakers are made by Adidas and are currently ON SALE--can you believe it?

I'd have gotten a pair myself except that they were only available in men's sizes, and were marked down to $99.99.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Who Gave Me this Lovely Dragon?



I came back to work on a Wednesday morning after being out of the office from a Friday through Tuesday and found this little guy waiting on my desk. I love him and he is perhaps my new favorite piece of office decor. He came at the perfect time as not only was it RIGHT before the "Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones, but also before I saw a rerun of one of my favorite 30 Rock episodes. The 30 Rock episode is one where Liz has Criss earn "Criss Points" to be cashed in for money to take her out on dates. If you freeze frame the tote board with ways to earn Criss Points, #1 is "Showing Enthusiasm for the Criss Points System" and #2 is "Referring to me as Khaleesi". 

Now that I have my own dragon, I feel like I am an honorary mother of dragons and therefore should be referred to as Khaleesi (I might even award you an "Ashley Point" for doing so). Now I need to name my little guy.

It was also be nice to know who left him on my desk so I can thank that person. I asked my usual suspects but came up with no answers.

And if this entire post is confusing to you, Congratulations! You must be one of those people who are too busy to watch TV. I assume you are a stranger to me. 




Saturday, June 08, 2013

World's Worst Tan

Last week I worked a golf tournament for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California (they're a client). It felt like old times. Running around in golf carts. Odd groups of guys (and a smattering of women) playing weird golfing games (scramble, closest to the pin, double your money) in even weirder clothing--I've never been one for polo shirts myself.  All in the name of raising money for a great organization. 

My favorite celebrity sighting was Ronald McDonald and his awesomely appropriate hat. It was made of a golfing green with a pin and a golf ball on fishing line that swung around it. Pure genius.

The difference in this tournament and the ones that I've worked in Tennessee is that it wasn't balls hot. Meaning the day was lovely and sunny and pretty much perfect like most days in Southern California. Despite this, I took precaution and sprayed myself liberally with SPF 30 while staying under an umbrella.

Apparently the sun shifted my coverage because about an hour before the tournament was over my necklace was causing pain in my neck--which had burned on one side. Then my calf felt hot. So I limped around with a beet red neck and one circle of redness on my left calf. It was fine, but now I'm left with the aftermath: The world's worst tan. I have one spot of tanned leg and a stunningly beautiful neck. And everything else is as pale as can be.

This wouldn't normally be a problem but today is my cousin's outdoor wedding aside from the peplum tank and long shorts pictured, I have nothing that's going to help even out this tan. I guess I'll just have to go home looking like the camouflage the military uses in Afghanistan.

Best Wishes, Lauren!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Annual Midwest-South Tour

Me, my cousin Holly and my aunts Mio
and Patty from one of my trips back
to Indiana. I love this picture.
I'm heading back to Nashville. . .and Evansville. . .and Princeton. . . and Indianapolis. . .and back to Nashville this week. It's my vacation! Or at least one vacation that I'm using to take my annual pilgrimage back to the land where I came from. My cousin is getting married tomorrow and I want to be there--plus I get to see a few other cousins and an aunt that I haven't seen in a long time. BONUS!

What's tough about these trips is fitting it all in. I fly in and out of Nashville because it's typically cheaper and easier than Indianapolis. I rent a car and the real fun begins. It's a little more than two hours from Nashville to Henderson, KY/ Evansville to see my family there. Then it's about 35 more minutes north to see my dad and the wedding location in the Princeton area. After that, I get up on Sunday morning to roll up to Indy to see MY GIRLS!!! No trip to the Indiana vicinity is really complete until I see my girls and start some trouble.

From there I go back to Evansville to see more family that I neglected on my first pass and then to Nashville for a little more than 30 hours of trouble with my friends down there. Then back to work next Thursday unless I collapse from exhaustion.

A blur. A whirlwind. A marathon. Whatever you call it, it's quick, packed and a load of fun.

It's still hard not to refer to my annual trips as trips home, but Chef corrected me a few years back. I did the same thing when going just from Nashville to Indiana. "Home isn't somewhere else that you visit," he had said. "It's where you live. And you live here." And he's right. Home is where I live, and I live in Los Angeles.

I look forward to going back each year and catching up, but it obviously also brings up so many memories. I'm lucky because the good ones outnumber the bad by a landslide.

While I was raised in Indiana, I like to think that I actually grew up in Nashville. And when I left, I sobbed like a baby in the moving van all the way to Memphis. Completely inconsolable. Chef felt horrible and asked me why it was so hard. "Nothing bad ever happened to me there," I said. It was a possible exaggeration, because I don't live a completely charmed life, but on the whole, only great things happened in Nashville.It was home.

Of course, almost three years later (CRAZY!!) I can say the same thing about Los Angeles. Maybe my life is somewhat charmed? I dare say, a semi-charmed life?

But I digress. It's time to return to the land where highway driving means that miles and minutes are virtually interchangeable when estimating drive times.

Lock up yo husbands. Lock up yo wives. I'm heading your way TODAY.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Did you notice. . .

that I changed my blog appearance? What do you think? Better or worse? What would you like to see?

It seems weird because I started my blog SO LONG ago (8 years!!!) and the technology has gotten so much better, but I've been pretty static. So it was time to make it look a little better, add a banner and devote some TLC to Flashes of Brilliance and Long Spans of Mediocrity. I should probably shorten the title, which I will eventually do, but I want to embrace it for now.

Seriously, eight years of blogging. When I began, I had just started dating Chef and had no idea that that would lead to a cross-country move, marriage and our herd of kitties. I only used a pseudonym because blogging with your real name was just inviting someone to come to your house and murder you. Or read on your blog that you were away from your house and rob you. Chef's pseudonym has clearly stuck. So much so that my family and friends rarely refer to him by his actual name.

I've had great years of daily devotion to the blog and years where it was heavily neglected. I hope to expand my blog this year and get people to read the thing.

Because people who read this blog are clearly awesome, brilliant people. And there should be more of them in the world.

I've had mean people comment, anonymous people scare the bejesus out of me, and friends give me wonderful words of wisdom with a touch of sarcasm in there.

I wonder what the next eight years will bring?

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Things I Take for Granted In LA

When you live or work in some place for a while, you start to become oblivious to some of the things surrounding you. And by "you", I mean "me" and just assume this happens to everyone else. Right? Anyway, while there are many things that I take for granted in LA, the one that I don't is the weather. I enjoy every last bit of sunshine while I can. I consider the increase in my daily expenses compared to any place else that I've ever lived to be the "weather tax." I must pay it to enjoy the lovely weather. I'm not sure what all the fools in New York pay it for. Ambiance?

Anyway, I wanted to share a short list of things that I take for granted in LA that I had started to overlook and have now tried to open my eyes to:

  • Pithy homeless people: Of course LA has it's fair share of homeless--which by the way, I consider smart because while it sucks to be homeless, it has to suck less in LA than in say, Minneapolis--there seems to be a subset that is hellbent on having a pithy message. One guy I see on a regular basis changes it up, but typically has a sign that reads either "I'm too sexy to be this homeless" (as if there is a degree of homelessness that he's trying to rise to) or "Homeless And Sexy-- That deserves something, right?" Sometimes the signs make me smile, but honestly the pithy homeless tend to be the same people that are getting quite a few donations every day. I don't recall such creativity in the other cities that I've been to. 
  • Transgenders everywhere: I'm a little sad or jaded or a combination thereof that I see transgenders every day and it barely registers. Clearly in Indiana and in Nashville to a certain extent, seeing a black man with beautiful skin and great high heeled shoes would have warranted a double take, but now their beauty is lost on me. I might notice the Adam's apple but honestly when I see someone on the way to work, I think "Man, that's a lot of work for a Wednesday."
  • The next new dessert shop: The abundance of frozen yogurt places are slowly shutting down so it's only a matter of time for the cupcake places start getting picked off. Whoopies never quite took off to reach the status warranting a separate storefront, and the same can be said for cakepops. Lately, I've been seeing a lot of "Milk and cookies" places pop up, so that's where my money is for the nest new dessert: an oldie. However, I love the place around here that sells mini-pies (Shout out to Simple Things Sandwich and Pie Shop!)
  • I'm never more than a few miles from a Sephora: Sure, with sephora.com I can order makeup any time, but honestly when you've sweat off some makeup and there's a Sephora only a few minutes away from your next meeting and just a touch up will make you feel so much better, well, that's a bonus. It wasn't until a co-worker that's moving to Eugene, OR said "The closest Sephora is 2 hours away" that I realized that my closest Sephora is two blocks away (from work) or 2 miles away from home and another a few miles from that. 
  • There are Sizzlers everywhere: My dad always used to quote White Men Can't Jump  by saying "We
    goin' Sizzler". I thought that was odd even when the movie came out because all the Sizzlers in the Midwest that I knew of had closed. I guess we favored Ryan's or Sirloin Stockade or some other god awful buffet restaurant. But low and behold among the sophisticated LA atmosphere there are plenty of Sizzlers (and Shakey's Pizzas) to keep the masses fat and happy (?). 
I'm sure there are more and I will share them as I start to open my eyes again to the odd and wondrous things I've been overlooking lately. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Never Quite Perfect

This pre-made Gingerbread house may
look normal, but the fail sauce is in
the massive amounts of icing that
is pooled in the inside because of my
ineptitude. 
I knew when I was about 12 years old that I would not be the type that could craft beautiful things and make it look effortless or make beautiful food that tasted delicious. I've never been the type of girl or woman that could just conjure up special. It's just not in me.

At least when it comes to those areas. I knew it at 13 when I was determined to make some chocolate cookies that I found the recipe to. We had nearly all the items and it seemed easy enough to just cover for the items I was missing. I was missing baking powder but decided to use baking soda instead and ended up with a puffy, sour tasting chocolate thing that my brother and mother both laughed at me for. And rightly so.

That one event has seems to have set the tone for the majority of my crafting/cooking life. I always end up missing something that is small, but has a certain role to play. I try to adjust or make do and it just ends up a disappointment. Mostly to me.

Could I possibly be the worst crafter in the world? Can I live my life in satisfaction if I cannot make one damn thing out of a Mason jar except a jar to hold things? Is my life empty if I do not own a set of rainbow-colored Sharpies, stencils or sponges used specifically for paint? I don't even own anything that has chalkboard paint on it.

I think I'll be able to live with it, but if you ever receive a handmade gift from me that isn't the written word, you just received a piece of my failure. Enjoy!


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