Monday, August 17, 2015

welcome home

I came home from my four-day mini-vacation in Oregon late last night. This morning, I went outside to water my poor, parched plants and this is what I found....

SIX cactus flowers blooming! Apparently my blog reaches heaven :) Hi Granny. Love you too!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

happy birthday granny

Today would have been my Granny's 86th birthday. It's been six months since she passed away, and I miss her so much. But I'm also constantly reminded of her by some of the most random things, which always make me smile. I like to think those reminders are her way of telling me "hi" :)

Watering My Cactuses
My cactus farm started with one tiny cactus Granny gave me when I was 12, and we were leaving El Paso to move to Connecticut. That one tiny cactus survived in Connecticut (inside the house, obviously), and then came to California, where -- especially since I've moved into my house and have a ton of outdoor space -- it has multiplied and multiplied and multiplied into more than 30 cactuses living in planters and pots and now permanently in the ground in my front and back gardens. I call the original cactus (below) "Mama Cactus," even though some of her "babies" are now bigger than she is. If you even need some plants that don't need a lot of water, let me know. The "baby" cacti are multiplying now too :)

I also love that the bigger members of the cactus family bloom in the summer ... as a pretty pink-purple flower. Purple was Granny's favorite color. The blooms only last for one day, which I think makes them even more special. Here's a bloom from the cactus in my front window-box from late July:

Mixing Ketchup and Mustard
When I'm running errands in Northridge, I am sometimes tempted to stop at Wienerschnitzel across the street from my alma mater CSUN for a corn dog (and the best french fries on the planet!) When I was a little kid, Granny taught me to mix my mustard with my ketchup. It's a little sweet, and a little spicy. In other words, the best condiment ever! And the one time I've been to Wienerschnitzel since February, I had the mustard ketchup mix on my corn dog, and thought of her.

Looking at the States on the Back of Quarters
Granny was not a coin collector. But I do think she was trying to find all 50 states on the quarters at some point in the late 90s-early 2000s. And while I don't think I ever gave her any of my quarters, I do subconsciously always flip them over to see what state they have etched on them before I spend them.

Her Purple Tea Set
I've only had tea from her purple-flowered china tea set once (because I'm a klutz and don't trust myself) but I see it when I open that cabinet and always think of her. The dress I picked to wear to my cousin Josh's wedding in June had purple flowers on it that reminded me of this tea set, and therefore Granny :)

Granny loved hummingbirds. When she moved from her apartment into assisted living, she dispersed her huge mug collection amongst all the family members (filled with candy) that Christmas. I got her "New Mexico" hummingbird mug... mostly (I think) because it was purple. But I have that sitting out on my counter, still filled with candy. And whenever I catch an actual live hummingbird out at my feeder, it makes me think of her.

Happy Birthday Granny! I love you!   

Saturday, August 8, 2015

words of wisdom: whatever's good for your soul..

I need to heed these words of wisdom more often. Note the pen...

Thanks for the reminder Pinteerst :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

so simple, yet so not

Check out my new pretty metal flower decorations (purchased for 50% off at Pier One Imports!) that only took me 1 month, 3 different drill bits, help from 2 friends, advice from my mom and 4 wall anchors (2 mangled, 2 not) to hang on the solid cement wall of my patio.

At least it's not all gray and boring anymore :)

Oh no... I just realized the spiders are gonna love those... ugh.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

time in taos

Earlier this month my second-to-youngest cousin Josh married a lovely girl named Emily in Taos, New Mexico. Here are some of the non-wedding memories..


Stop #1 on any trip to New Mexico for my family is to a "real" Mexican food restaurant for some sort of really spicy mexican food followed by the most amazing dessert ever... sopapillas! For you poor eaters who've never experienced a sopapilla, it's a piece of fried dough, that's puffed up so you can poke a hole in it and fill it with honey, then squish it together and devour it. It's amazeballs! And why no Mexican food restaurant outside of Texas and New Mexico serves them is a travesty to humanity! 

My sopapilla from Tomasita's in Santa Fe (on the road to Taos). Just looking at this makes me hungry.

The "Gorge Bridge"

New Mexico has some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever lay eyes on. It's also home to the Most Beautiful Long-Span Steel Bridge in the U.S, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Located about 20 minutes outside of Taos, it also happens to be the 7th highest bridge in the U.S., which I can now attest to based on the nervous feeling in my stomach as I looked over the side of it. It's a gorgeous view as long as you look out, not down ;)


Kit Carson Home and Museum

Who is Kit Carson? I knew the name, I knew he was a frontiersmen, but that was about it. Well, he lived in Taos, and his house is still there, which you can walk through after watching a documentary about the man who helped map the Oregon Trail. (Note: While not air conditioned, the house/museum is an old adobe abode, and therefore much cooler than walking around downtown Taos to shop on a 95-degree afternoon ;) 

The courtyard of the home, and entrance to the museum.
The other side of the courtyard. That window is to the kitchen, where food was passed in and out.

The other side of the window -- the home's kitchen.
The "living room"

Pretty Nature

New Mexico calms me... it's quiet and beautiful. See :) Ahhhhh. 

new year's in new york

Yes, I know it's July, but what better way to end the 4th of July weekend than by remembering five and a half jam-packed days in the Big Apple around Christmas and New Year's Eve ;)  However, since those five and a half days were seven months ago (aka: a REALLY long time ago), and my memory ain't what it used to be, I've decided to just throw this up as a photo blog. I did take a TON of photos while I was there, which was a good thing because otherwise I would remember even less of this than I already do ;p


Saturday was my travel across the county and lose three hours of my life day. Upon arriving at JFK Airport, my former LA friend, now NY friend, Diana met me at baggage claim and escorted me into the city like a real New Yorker.... on the Long Island Railroad and then the subway (which I'm proud to say I navigated pretty well on my trip... On Day 2 I even made it from Columbus Circle all the way to Battery Park by myself at midnight and didn't get lost or mugged!). Our destination was our friend Rob's apartment near Battery Park at the bottom of the island. Rob was still in LA and was letting us stay at his apartment (dubbed the "Suite in the Sky" by his many visitors) free of charge for two nights :)

The view of the Millennium Tower from the window of Rob's Suite in the Sky


On Sunday, we had plans to meet up with my friends Jenny, Ruthie and Leslie (who were visiting New York from Portland) for a day of fun! Diana and walked a bazillion blocks (my new fitbit will attest to this) to Stop #1, Katz's Delicatessen. I had no idea until I got there that Katz's is where the famous "I'll have what she's having" scene in "When Harry Met Sally" took place. I can't remember what I ate, but there's a photo of it below... it may have been cornbeef. It was good though. I also had lemonade while Ruthie had the Dr. Brown's root beer.

After lunch, we went and picked up Ruthie's American Girl doll (who was getting her 'do done) then went to look at holiday windows and all the decorations near Rockefeller Center.

One of the fancy windows across from 30 Rock.

Rockefeller Center

The ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, which was a lot smaller than I imagined it.
The Christmas tree inside the lobby of The Plaza Hotel. Fancy! 
Giant Christmas balls.

After sightseeing in the city, we all grabbed a quick snack instead of dinner, the Jenny and Ruthie went to see Aladdin, while Leslie and I went to see the amazing Idina Menzel in the musical If/Then. The show was good, but Idina made it great, which is probably why it closed earlier this year when her run in it ended. But I really enjoyed it and it's message of what is meant to be will be, even if the road to get there takes a different turn. 

After the musical, Leslie and I headed through Times Square to take the subway uptown... here's what is looked like three days before the New Year's Eve insanity, barricades and stages sitting and waiting:

Once we got uptown, we headed to Serendipity 3, where Jenny and Ruthie had arrived an hour earlier (their show started/ended earlier) to put our name on the list (seriously people, take reservations.. it's so much more civilized.) By the time we arrived, we only had to wait about 10 minutes to get our table, where I indulged in late night french fries and the world famous frozen hot chocolate. It was fantastic.. as were the fun holiday decorations, some of which we unplugged so I could charge my phone (shhhh!)


Monday morning started with Rob arriving home from Christmas in LA, which meant the end of my stay at the Suite in the Sky. Diana and I went to meet Jenny and Leslie for brunch in Tribeca at the home of delish jellys and jams, Sarahbeth's. I had hot tea, a scone with jam (yay for scones!) and (I think.. based on this photo and looking at the menu again) the chorizo and sweet pepper frittata.... even though Rob had told me to get the lemon and ricotta pancakes. (Those didn't come with a scone.. next time ;)

After brunch, Diana took Jenny and Leslie sightseeing in Tribeca and Battery Park while I took the subway up to Hell's Kitchen to meet my Airbnb host and get my keys to the apartment I was staying in for the rest of the week.

Then I headed back downtown to meet back up with Diana, Jenny and Leslie to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The FDNY Memorial Wall covers the side FDNY Ten House, on the corner of Liberty St and Greenwich St, across from the 9/11 Memorial 
The Memorial Wall honors the 343 members of FDNY and one volunteer firefighter who died that day.

You have to get tickets for the museum in advance and have a set time to enter. We were inside for about two hours, but I could have stayed another two. The museum is so well done. It's obviously terribly sad and brings back really frightening memories. But, from a historical perspective, looking at everything there from a factual (instead of emotional) standpoint, it's fascinating. If you go, you must wait in the long line inside to enter the Historical Exhibition, which is a timeline from the morning of 9/11, before the attacks to present day and the challenges we still face. Some of it is heartbreaking (actual calls from victims to their families after the attacks) but you also really learn a lot about what led to that day and how the world has changed since. 
The entrance to the Museum. No photography inside out of respect.
The Museum with the Millennium Tower next to it.

I had to find the names of the LA Kings' two scouts - Mark Bavis and Ace Bailey -- who died on United Flight 175, and pay tribute after Stanley Cup #2 won by the team they helped build. 
The Memorial lit up after dark. So beautiful, yet sad. 

After a serious afternoon, we got to end Monday with some fun. It was Rob's birthday so a big group of people went out for a fun, delish bday dinner at the famous Frankie & Johnnie's Steakhouse


Tuesday morning I got up early to go do something very, very important...  I went and bought myself (or should I say my sore, freezing feet) a nice warm, comfy pair of new black Uggs. Best money I spent all week!

Then I headed a few blocks away to meet up with Jenny, Ruthie, Leslie and Diana at MoMA: Museum of Modern Art. They had a great exhibit of Henri Matisse's Cut-Outs that Leslie was dying to see. 

I was dying to see the giant room featuring my favorite artist's most famous painting... Monet's Water Lilies... three beautiful panels of blues, purples, greens and creams that I could have stared at for hours. It's ginormous. Below is one panel of it... as well as some of the other famous works I was able to photograph. You can click on each to go learn more about the painting from the MoMA site. 

Panel #1 (of three) of Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" 1914-26

Claude Monet "Agapanthus" 1914-26

Henri Matisse "Plum Blossoms, Ochre Backgroud" 1948

Vincent Van Gogh "The Starry Night" 1889 .... I was shocked at how small this painting was. 

Andy Warhol "Campbell's Soup Cans" 1962

Jasper Johns "Flag" 1954-55 
Jackson Pollock "One: Number 31, 1950" 1950

After a day of culture, Diana and I headed back to Hell's Kitchen for dinner at Justin Timberlake's Southern Hospitality BBQ restaurant. The place was packed at 6pm and the food was pretty good, but it was loud and JT was not there. Plus we had other celebs to see that night....


So Diana looooooves Hugh Jackman. Earlier in the year it was announced he was going to be starring in a Broadway play called The River. Going to this play with Diana was the whole reason I planned this trip. So for Christmas, Diana and I got to go sit in a tiny, tiny theater-in-the-round, about 8 rows away from Wolverine. The play was short, weird, but completely captivating (cuz, ya know, it stars Hugh Jackman, who's standing, living, breathing and speaking 8 rows away from you). And afterwards, the very tall leading man came outside to greet his swooning, pushing mob of fans and sign autographs. (I mention the pushing part to explain why the photos are less-than-in-focus.) He was also smart enough to carry his own gold sharpie since the Playbill is black and a normal sharpie autograph would have been sadly invisible.


New Year's Eve day was spent with my Portland friends Jenny, Ruthie and Leslie, as well as Jen's sister-in-law Elisa, Elisa's two daughter and Elisa's mom and dad, who were kind enough to treat us all to afternoon tea at Alice's Tea Cup. It was a fun, whimsical tea house that welcomes kids and has totally AMAZING scones. (Have I mentioned on this blog before that I LOVE scones? :)

I was smart enough to take photos of the types of tea we drank.. the "no caffeine" Roobios was for the kids, not me!
The tiered tray of deliciousness... the scones were huge and awesome, the sandwiches were yummy, but I don't really remember much about the bottom dessert tray. I think most of us were stuffed by then.

Then I got dressed up fancy and went down to Soho to ring in 2015 at the Trump Soho with my fancy friends Rob, Shawn, Katharine and Ianthe. (Please don't hold this against me.. this was back on December 31st... before Trump was running for President and showing he is a racist.) Anyhoo, the Veuve Clicquot champagne was flowing, there was a seafood buffet and gorgeous views of the city, across the river to Brooklyn. It was totally over-priced, but what isn't in NYC on NYE. (Let's not even speak of my 3x Uber ride back up to Hell's Kitchen... oy.)


On my last morning in the Big Apple, I took a walk to Starbucks for a chai and muffin, then sat at watched the Rose Parade live...  at 11am, instead of 8am. It was so nice not to have to get up early. :) Then I cleaned up my AirBnB and took a town car out of Manhattan to JFK. It was freezing and I was ready to go home.