Friday, April 29, 2011

Carmel birthday, in pictures

I had the BEST weekend in Carmel with J. 

Our hotel room -- a small British-style cottage with a private entrance -- was beyond adorable. When we checked in, a bottle of Sherry and a welcome kit for our dog were already waiting inside, and we didn't have to use our car once all weekend since our room was on the main street near all shops and restaurants. I didn't want to leave! It's been a dream of mine my whole life to own a vacation home in Carmel, so we also browsed real estate in the area (just for fun) and let's just say the prices are a little high: bungalows and cottages start at about $2 million-plus. Nevertheless, I quietly added this dream to my bucket list. ;)

Our front door.
Banksy-style art on the outside of our chimney.
Wine tasting (above and below) at Vino Napoli.
Noshing on the Antipasto Misto, a platter of salumi, cheeses and olives.
The Tuck Box English Tea Room.
Watching the sunset during our hotel's wine and cheese social.
Dinner at Porta Bella's. The food and ambiance were amazing.
At the beach.
The Cheese Shop, one of Carmel's must-see places. The shop has over 300 different kinds of cheese from all over the world, and tasting is encouraged. We were given about 15 different cheeses to taste, and told the background on each type. Highly recommend a stop here.
We heard the best Bloody Marys in town were at A.W. Shucks, so we had to give them a whirl. They were divine. So good, in fact, that we ended up ordering five of them, along with plates of fresh oysters (below) on the half shell.
One of the many adorable little alleys lit up at night.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Seven things about me

I haven't been able to sit at my computer for the past couple days since I've been busy with my out-of-state friend who's visiting, BUT Carmel over the weekend with J was a-mah-zing and I did not want to leave! More on that (with lots of pictures) in my next post, since I'm about to head down to my parents' house today for mom's birthday. (I'm borrowing my late-grandfather's black Lincoln Towncar for the journey. Gangster.)  There's a fabulous rumor going around that we all may go down to Carmel tonight for her birthday dinner. I would not be opposed to this.

For now, Johnny Madrid over at Just Johnny passed a Versatile Blogger Award to me, and I'm s'posed to name seven random facts about myself and pass it on to seven other bloggers. (You know the drill.)

My facts:
  • I can recite all the states in alphabetical order.
  • When I was a baby I jumped out of my mom's arms and cracked my skull on a sidewalk outside of a See's Candies. My mother and father were completely distraught over it since I was their first, and I had to spend days in the hospital undergoing tests and procedures for the incident. (Spinal taps? Not fun.) Luckily everything turned out normal...I think? ;)
  • I have found the secret to looking young forever: Palmer's Cocoa Butter. I've been dousing myself in it every single day and night, and will do so for the rest of my life if it translates to supple, unwrinkled skin.
  • The biggest turn-on for me is ambition. The guy can be okay-looking but if he's ambitious, then I'm on board. (This quality was one of the many that attracted me to J. It doesn't hurt that he's also devastatingly handsome.)
  • I believe all women fall into one of two categories: a Betty or a Veronica. A similar categorical assessment could use the Wakefield twins from Sweet Valley High: Are you a Jessica or an Elizabeth?
  • I used to feel really sorry for homeless people and gave them lots of money, but watching Intervention has hardened my sentimental heart to the cause. (Though I do still feel sorry for homeless people who have obvious mental issues like schizophrenia. That's just sad.)
  • I DESPISE passive aggressive people. If you obviously have a problem with me or someone else, just say it! Your explanation will be heard. If you instead take the passive aggressive route and insult or berate in annoying little bratty ways then you are an insecure idiot who has no right to complain. Confront or move on.
And I pass on this award to:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The aftermath

Well, semi-aftermath since this Venga Bus birthday party celebration is just getting started. But yesterday was my "real" birthday, and I got plenty of amazing surprises. A delivery of super cute flowers sent by a friend, a fun shopping spree, my parents surprising me by showing up in town with a big flower bouquet of their own and a good friend treating me out to late-night drinks were some of the highlights.

But the coolest part of the whole day was after dinner when J and I returned to the car, and there on my seat was a Tiffany's box wrapped with the signature white ribbon. (Inner-chihuahua --> psychotic) That flash of Tiffany blue and white is enough to make any girl giddy, and sadly I am no exception. As I was opening it with the goofiest of wide smiles, J told me not to get too excited because it wasn't jewelry or anything. Well when he said that I knew exactly what it was, and I was right: The Tiffany's porcelain box I've wanted for the past two years!!:

So cute that he actually remembered I wanted it since I've only publicly mentioned the thing twice. And I LOVE it. It's currently sitting on my french country bath stand filled with my rings. Good man.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Feliz cumpleaños a mí

At 1:16 a.m. on April 19th, 1982, there was a woman in a hospital delivering me with NO epidural or meds because I was her first and she wanted to see what it was like naturally. (Hey, it was the early '80s.) The result? A nine pound baby girl who, 29 years later, would be celebrating her birthday and thanking her mom for undergoing hours of unaided medical agony two decades ago all for little ol' me. Other result? From that day forward my mother was an avid epidural user in later pregnancies.

I don't really have any dyed-in-the-wool plans for today other than the usual cocktails, though it doesn't help that it's a Tuesday night and everyone works tomorrow. But who knows, if it gets as crazy as I'd like, I might end up celebrating like this (I am only turning 29 once):

Nothing like a mid-'90s pop culture reference to get this party started. (P.S.: Whatever happened to Matthew Lillard?)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A celebration to last throughout the years

The next two weeks are going to be some of the busiest I've had in the last six months, but for good reason. It's my birthday next week!! (continue with copious amounts of exclamation marks here). And being that my two favorite holidays of the year are Valentine's Day and my birthday, The Day of My Birth must be celebrated accordingly, much like Jesus'. Meaning it is a weeks-long affair, just like my wedding was. (If you can't already tell, I love a good celebration.)

So I'll be gone this weekend visiting friends and family as we pre-celebrate and indulge in ice cream cake and fondue (calories don't count during your birthday month, obvi), then my actual birthday is on Tuesday (April 19th), followed by the highlight of festivities -- J is taking me to Carmel to celebrate! 

I grew up about an hour from Carmel and since childhood it's been one of my favorite places to visit in-state.
We've decided to lux it up for a long weekend at a cute B&B on Ocean Ave. (the main street downtown). I can't wait to check out our digs since from what I've seen online the place looks ultra adorable, with a stone fireplace, a yellow and white British cottage-style motif, and a wine and cheese social every evening. And is it wrong that I'm kind of excited to be staying a block away from a Tiffany & Co.? Perhaps the weekend will be my chance to practice the art of persuasion. ;)

Anyway I'm really looking forward to trying some of the many restaurants I've read rave reviews about (including Casanova's, dubbed Carmel's Most Romantic Restaurant, and La Bicyclette) and doing lots of shopping and wine tasting. All with my best friend and partner in crime. I cannot wait. 

The following Monday my good friend from New York is flying in with her new baby to spend a couple days here in the city with her husband (who's on business). I can't wait to meet the baby and catch up with my friend since talking on the phone while 3,000 miles apart just doesn't cut it. Her visit constitutes a special b-day present in itself. Later that week my friends are heading over here to throw me a little birthday shindig/Cinco de Mayo party (margaritas, anyone?), and that should wrap up my month.

Oh, and I should point out that in none of this have I even mentioned the royal wedding, which is going to be a celebration in itself at our household, replete with British flag cupcakes and English cucumber sandwiches. (J still hasn't gotten the memo about why we must celebrate this event. But that's okay. I just continually reply "God save the queen.")

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring and summer dress roundup

Spring is here and that means yours truly is delighted to update her wardrobe for the impending hotter months. Not like I don't have enough clothes already (the other day while J carried a pile of clothing behind me that I needed to try on in-store, he suggested we institute a new rule in our home: Every time I buy a new garment, I give one away. I laughed and suggested just buying a bigger place...with a walk-in closet the size of Mariah Carey's. That would be amazing.)

With that husband/wife truce aside, I've been busy hitting the racks looking for cute new dresses -- many of which I'll be taking to Europe with me this summer. So far here's the loot I've ended up with:

My latest find from H&M. I love the ultra short length coupled with the covered chest/shoulder area, making it not look so hooker-ish (is that a word?) I also love that it's a pretty good replica of the Miu Miu bird print that is all the rage right now.
Another short, lightweight dress I recently found. Perfect for Greece with a big floppy sunhat, woven hobo bag and wedges.
I loved the retro pattern and colors on this dress and it fit like perfection so I had to have it. It's very Mrs. Robinson when paired with heels.
I'm always a fan of the nautical look and this short cotton dress was no exception. I like pairing it with the belt shown (which I already owned) and -- wait for it -- wedges. (Yes, I'm a bit wedge-obsessed.)
I know this tank-and-high-waisted-skirt-dress look was big last year, but I liked how this dress updated its take on it. When it's on a body (and not the carpet) the skirt tulips over the tank with cute pleat detailing. Also love the light shade of gray and that it has pockets.
My sister bought this dress at a Mango store in Italy a couple years ago and I've wanted it ever since. Last week she finally gave in and said I could have it. It fits like a DVF wrap dress and is made from a light slinky fabric so it's perfect for summer in Europe.
The infamous turquoise dress from Nordstrom. Luckily size 4 fit perfectly and I can't wait to wear this on my birthday! Reminds me of something Trudy Campbell would wear in Mad Men.
I snagged this dress at White House Black Market. It's made of a stiffer brocade and is knee-length, so it'd be perfect for a more formal summer dinner or luncheon. I paired it here with some turquoise jewelry I own. Up close, the pattern on the dress (below) is a fabulous paisley. Loves.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A small (I swear) rant about pet adoption...with a cameo by Clothilde!

So one of my biggest pet peeves, aside from homeless people and sneakers on men, is store- or breeder-bought dogs. People, if you want a dog there are plenty of perfectly good ones out there for dirt-cheap and on Death Row, waiting to be adopted before being given The Shot and tossed into a dumpster.

When I was a kid my parents bought us children a dog from a breeder in Los Angeles. We'd never had a dog in the family before and it was promised to us in exchange for behaving ourselves for the weeks that followed my parents buckling us into our red Isuzu Trooper (this was the mid '90s) in Boston and driving cross-country through the southern United States. Three kids in an SUV through the desert. You do the math. A dog was excellent blackmail.

After what felt like years on the road (and my first driving lesson, on an isolated strip of highway somewhere in the middle of Texas) my parents made good on their promise and we were bought a dog once we hit the West Coast. In my defense I was a child, I didn't know anything about breeders or shelters. I just knew I wanted a dog. Now that I'm older and I know better, these days it kills me -- kills me -- when I still see sane, responsible adults buying animals as if they were commodities.  

Enter Clothilde. 

Burt and Clothilde (who you may know as J's brother and brother's girlfriend) were in the market for a dog recently. Something small, that they could keep in a pen while they're both at work every day. When assessing their choices it did not help that they they'd fallen in love with my sister's maltipoo (who I am coincidentally currently babysitting). My sister bought said maltipoo from a local breeder against my insistence that it was a bad decision, and now everyone -- including Clothilde -- loves the goddamn dog. Which definitely takes steam out of my cause.

So Clothilde texted me the other night, asking where my sister got her maltipoo. I replied that I didn't know, but then went on a Bob Barker-style mini-text-rant about how adoption is a better choice than buying, blah blah blah. WELP,  what do I get a few days later? A picture she texts me of their new breeder-bought maltipoo, Chai (named because Clothilde is obsessed with drinking Chai. Sigh.). I would post a picture of Chai here but unfortunately I can't snag one off Facebook so here's a lookalike I found on the web:

I know, miniature polar bear, very cute, etc. etc. etc. (PS: It better be cute, they spent $650 on the thing.) But every time a dog like this is bought a dog somewhere else dies! <said between exasperated breaths> I get that most people are specific about what breed or color or gender they want, but this isn't like shopping for a sweater. It's a living, breathing thing. I'm sure any dog within certain parameters will suffice.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless"

A few nights ago I watched the classic Breathless for the first time in my life (I know: bad cinephile! No Milkbone). I don't know how the film flew under my radar for so long especially since it's a benchmark in the French New Wave movement, but I finally got around to it on my Netflix queue and was smitten. Kind of makes you want to lie around all day chain-smoking in a Parisian hotel room with a shirtless Frenchman.  

My favorite scene:

Michel and Patricia

Patricia: Do you know William Faulkner?
Michel: Someone you slept with?
Patricia: No, my pet.
Michel: Then I don't care about him. Take this off.
Patricia: He's a novelist I like a lot. Have you read "The Wild Palms"?
Michel: I told you, no. Take this sweater off.
Patricia: The last sentence is very beautiful.... "Between grief and nothing, I'll take grief." What would you choose?
Michel: Grief is stupid. I'd choose nothing. It's no better but grief is a compromise. You have to go for all or nothing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wondercon in pictures

Sadly there were no Ryan Reynolds sightings at Wondercon on Saturday (he was there, I heard, on Friday), and even though I was a bit out of my element I still had a wonderful time rubbing elbows with people much more knowledgeable about comic/pop art than me AND I even got to meet the infamous Elvira, which was...well, surreal, since I remember loving her back in the '80s when I was a kid. Another high? Standing two feet away from the Lou Ferrigno. Amazing!!

Lou Ferrigno: The original hulk.
Richard Kiel, who you may know from such movies as Happy Gilmore, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Kiel is HUGE and tops out at 7'2''.
Elvira: The original creator of The Poof.
And this is...not me...posing with Elvira.
The throne from Game of Thrones, which is premiering on HBO soon. I haven't read the books but I've heard many good things -- my brother is absolutely obsessed with the series.
We got to watch Jon Favreau (awesome!!) and Roberto Orci talk about their movie coming out called Cowboys and Aliens, and were also shown a nine-minute sneak peak from the flick.
Favreau seemed very cool and humble, nothing like you'd expect from Hollywood.
After the Cowboys and Aliens panel we walked around the convention center and I found a booth selling the funniest merchandise all based on humorous puns. I had to buy the postcard above since it makes me laugh every time I look at it. To check out all their merchandise visit

Friday, April 1, 2011

A life check-in

Let's see, what's been going on in my life recently...

First off I am now officially a freelance writer and I love it! There's no dearth of article assignments, so between that and editing my book I've been busy, but I must say I'm enamored with the freedom that comes with being able to do freelance work whenever and wherever I want.

Also, as you all know, I started tango last week and had my second class last night. What a difference a week makes. My first class was fun but a practice in letting go. This week I was 10 folds better about allowing the man to lead and submitting like a good little tango dancer should. I was so much better, in fact, that Marcelo showed the class examples of new dance moves using me as his partner. I was pretty proud of myself because this would have never happened in my first class. There's a milonga (tango dance party) every Friday night in the area and a few of my classmates asked if I was planning to come tonight. Apparently it is the place to be (I'm imagining the slow-motion black and white opening scene of Dirty Dancing with flashy magenta script across our writhing bodies) but I already have plans so I told them I might go next Friday. With or without J. I've read that the people in the tango community here in the Bay Area are some of the best in the U.S. and so far I agree. They're positive, upbeat people who are very welcoming to newcomers. Love them. Now I just have to find my own pair of tango shoes, since I'm currently borrowing my sister's pair that she picked up in Buenos Aires. My favorite so far has been these:

Speaking of my sis, she's taking a few days off from her job as a tennis pro to spend the weekend and part of next week with me. Can't. Wait. She only lives an hour away in Los Gatos but doesn't visit much because of her schedule. Needless to say I'm amped for her arrival tonight. We always have the best time and, when we're together, end up doubled over laughing daily. We're planning lots of shopping, noshing and trip-planning for Greece/Italy this summer. 

Other than that I'm headed to Wondercon this Saturday with J and my sister, where we'll meet up with a good friend of mine. I'm not into comic books but I do like seeing movie stars (hello Ryan Reynolds?!) so it'll be a good time.