Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

The top two sites to see in Seattle
The First Starbucks! Very cool...bought a mug to go along with the ones I bought in Paris, Germany, Switzerland and every other big city I've visited.
Next, we walked through the Pike's Place Fish Market...
I had read the book "Fish" several years ago--about the guys at the Pike Place Fish Market and their secrets for success and improving attitudes in the workplace. They WERE, indeed, working together and having fun as they threw fish to each other (tho, honestly, I think that is primarily for show), chanted in rhyme and song and posed for pictures with tourists. The rest of the market is much like the OC Swap Meet.
We decided to go see a movie...A night at the Museum...funny, not fabulous...
And we went for one last AMAZING dinner...lamb chops and banana tart for me, lobster and chocolate souffle for Allison. We have surely eaten well in Seattle...
And, then decided to go see "The Holiday"...We loved it! We were both in tears a few times and both laughed out loud too. And, Jude Law is a babe. Great movie.
Back to the hotel room by 9pm--in our jammies, blogging and watching TV...
Yep, we really have had one GREAT vacation...
Now we just gotta make it to midnight so we can wish each other a Happy New Year...
It's happy happy :)

Thank you 2006! trip to Europe, my new home, my 25th high school reunion and lots of baseball games...but, as usual, the time with friends and family was the best and most memorable part of the year...
Have a fun New Year's Eve!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Seattle's Best!

First of all, the stories of Seattle's non-stop rain are greatly exaggerated--we have yet to see a drop! Absolutely beautiful weather!
Allison and I got up and went to work out (we REALLY did!)...then went to the Spa Noir. I had the most spectacular massage of my life...the girl was up on the table working on me--incredible! I feel fabulous! Allison loved her facial just as much!
After our treatments we had lunch at the Nordstrom Cafe (yep, again...) and had a great time shopping the rest of the afternoon...
Tonight went to Ruth's Chris and, man, did it live up to everything we had ever heard about them! I had a filet that was out of this world delicious! Allison had a feta and bleu cheese stuffed chicken breast and we shared garlic butter mashed potatoes and broccoli. And for dessert we had the "Triple Fudge Chocolate Moulton Cake"--I AM TELLING YOU THERE IS NOTHING BETTER IN THE WORLD! The chocolate cake and fudge and chips and syrup--with ice cream on top--melted in our mouths! We decided it was--by far--the best dessert that either one of us had ever had!!
And how much dessert do you think Allison and I have had? Yeah, it was THAT good.
The day was good. The night was great. The trip has been fantastic!
We freakin' LOVE Seattle...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Oh Canada!

We were on our way to the "Shuttle to Canada" at 7am this morning and it was pitch black outside! Did you know that the sun doesn't rise in Seattle during the winter until almost 9am? Perhaps the REAL reason for a Starbucks on every corner!
We arrived in Victoria, British Columbia around 11am--just in time for tea at the Empress Hotel...very pretty and quite the highlight of the day for me.
You must visit Allison's blog to see what HER favorite part of the day was.
We made it back to Seattle to enjoy a FANTASTIC dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, right around the corner from our hotel. Have you tried the Macaroni and Cheese balls there? Oh MY! You must partake!
Big day tomorrow...we're going to a Spa for a massage and a facial and we'll probably take in a movie...and there is a Ruth Chris Restaurant across the street from our hotel... neither Allison nor I have ever experienced Ruth Chris and we are thinking it may be a perfect Saturday night dinner. Gosh we love being on vacation!
I promise--we are going to the gym first thing in the morning!

And, FYI...

...three months from today...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gorgeous, delicious and beautiful...

This is the GORGEOUS view of Pugent Sound from "Ray's Boathouse", the ONLY Seattle Restaurant listed in the "1001 Places to see before you die" book. The view was only matched by our INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS dinner...we shared lightly fried calamari and a shrimp and crab salad and then Allison had prawns with mussels and calamari and I had the most AMAZING GIANT scallops with artichokes...oh, and a MAGNIFICENT chocolate souffle with chocolate mint ice cream!
OH YEAH...when we go on vacation...we go all out!
After dinner we headed for the Space Needle and went straight to the top! The view was BEAUTIFUL, clear and spectacular!
Seattle is fantastic...and this was only day one!

A Sweet Seattle Site

The Nordstrom Flagship Store was "on our list" of Seattle sites to see today. This BEAUTIFUL five-story Nordstrom is the anchor in Seattle's BRAND NEW Pacific Place Mall. And--it is one block from our hotel! This could not have made Allison and I more excited...And, since I am only allowed to purchase clothing when Allison is with me, I had to take advantage of this opportunity. (Allison has to approve any clothes that I buy to be sure they do not make me look like I am trying to be 18 OR, worse yet, make me look like a grandma. I appreciate this immensely.)
Needless to say, we didn't see much more of Seattle than the (fabulous!) mall--but, according to our "Top Ten Seattle" travel guide, Pacific Place is the "crown jewel" of Seattle's shopping centers and a "don't miss" site! We didn't miss an inch of it!
Hey, we got a Starbuck's coffee too!

You can't bring that on the plane

Remember the good ol' days...(like about 5 months ago) when you could bring the items you needed along with you when traveling? Well, those days are over, my friends...
Since I only have two suitcases--the GIANT black one (the one I took on my three week Europe trip) or a small carry on (which is good for a weekend away) --and nothing in between--I had my lotion, hairspray, toothbrush, etc in my carry on.
I KNOW, I it's been a while since I traveled (five whole months!) I forgot the new "no liquids" rule!!
After checking the suitcases, we went through security and the (100 year old) security lady yelled out, "CODE RED ALERT"
Ok, it was not code red, but it was like an emergency--and I could not figure out what she could possibly be referencing in MY carry on bag! A very nice gentleman, (who no doubt moon-lights as a greeter at Wal Mart) called me over, opened my bag and started taking out all the items that I could not take on the plane.
Starting with my ($4.) Pantene hairspray and the ($3) right-out-of-the-box-new-tube of Colgate with whitener toothpaste. Allison had hairspray and toothpaste wisely packed in her checked luggage, so I was ok...embarrassed and angry at myself for forgetting the newly enforced "no liquids on the plane" rule, but I would be ok with losing those.
But then, he took my never even opened bottle of Bath and Body Gardenia Lotion (8 bucks!!)...
"Noooooooooo!!!" I yelled (softly), my tearing eyes begging Grandpa to NOT carelessly toss that lovely lotion in the trash bin! He was so kind...but said, "I am so can't bring that on the plane..."
I gathered what was left of my belongings, and slowly walked away, depressed and heartbroken for my beautiful, sweet- smelling lotion...dumped in a trash bin (along with my hairspray and toothpaste)...and a whole lot of other absent minded peoples' brand new toiletries...
Yippee!!! Room service just got here with our strawberry pancakes, maple syrup and diet cokes!!
OK-I am over the lotion.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sleeping in Seattle

Though Allison and I have each traveled to many cities all over the world, neither one of us has ever been to Seattle...until today! We are leaving this afternoon to spend a few fun-filled days site-seeing, shopping and sleeping in Seattle.
We'll be checking out the Space needle, Pikes market and the flagship Starbucks AND Nordstrom stores!
Tomorrow night we have reservations at Ray's Boathouse which boasts the most beautiful view of the Pugent Sound...
On Friday, we'll be taking a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia for the day...
and we'll have dinner at Union Grill Cafe on New Year's Eve!
Other than that, I've packed five or six magazines, three new books and will be bringing my ipod and laptop...(too bad it's not baseball season, sure would be fun to see a Mariner's game!)
We are both really excited to experience the city we have heard so much about...
And, as with any vacation that Allison and I go on together, the main objective of the trip is to kick back, relax, de-stress,
and order something delicious from room service.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A few of my favorite things...

I had to be at work for the Christmas Brunch from 8:30 to 3:00 today...It was really busy, a lot of fun and a total reminder of how much I enjoy working the great people of Montage Laguna Beach!
I hurried out to go be with my family...what a blessing it is to only have to drive six miles to my parent's house in Lake Forest to be with these people--three out of my four sisters, (we missed you Leesa!), my children, Allison and Zac (and Matt), my parents, MY GRANDPARENTS, my nephews, my little neice, and other assorted cousins, boyfriends and long time friends...
THESE are people who not only LOVE each other--but deeply and profoundly KNOW each other. No one in that house left with out an armload of gifts...the difference with my family is--EVERY gift is hand-chosen with care and love for the recipient...purchased because it is SO PERFECT and GIVEN with more excitement than ANY gift is received. No one in that house would have been able to take home MY gifts-- "1001 reasons to love baseball" book, framed vintage art posters, a door mat with the Eiffel Tower on it, Dodger and Angel plates and bowls and Dodgers charm bracelet, among other things!
THESE PEOPLE KNOW ME! They were ALL excited to give these gifts to me...And, every person in that room is the same--my family might be a bit crazy and loud and we are all over-huggers and over-spenders--but DAMN--we know and love and care for each other like no other family in the world....
I SO ENJOYED giving my gifts and watching the joy in each person as they opened my 'personally chosen for you' gift. (No one else would have wanted Gina's "bigfoot" beer--and she CRIED when she opened it!) And I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED watching MY kids give their aunts, cousins and grandparents personally chosen and unbelievably personal gifts.
I am proud of--and so happy for!--Allison and Zachary (and Matt!) THEY GET IT! The incomparable joy of giving.
It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year...
Who am I kidding?! EVERY day is like this! I am SO blessed to be part of a this one of a kind family full of people who know EXACTLY WHO I AM and what I love...and who also know, with out a doubt, how much I love them.
I am blessed to be part of this family...amazingly blessed.
Hope your Christmas was amazing...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yes, INDEED, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York Sun, asking if there really was a Santa Claus. The GREAT response from newsman Francis Church has become history's most reprinted editorial:
"Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment! The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor adults can see. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. Only faith, poetry, love, and romance can push aside the curtain and view the supernatural beauty and glory of the unseen world. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

I truly love Santa Claus. I believed until I was about 12, and, with four younger sisters, there was ALWAYS one who still believed, so he never stopped coming to our house! When I had my children, I could not wait for them to know the magic of believing in Santa. I LOVE the thought of those Christmas mornings--the beaming faces of Allison and Zachary excited to go see what Santa had brought them and the squeals of delight as they discovered their treasures. Their happy little hearts and great big smiles literally brought tears to my eyes every single Christmas morning.
Those memories are without a doubt the most enjoyable and gratifying experiences that I have of their childhood. And my kids STILL talk about going to go see Santa, leaving him cookies and milk, how they loved being surprised and delighted and overjoyed on Christmas Day. They agree it was a joy to believe in Santa Claus...he made glad the heart of their childhood.
Here's hoping your heart is made glad today...
Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time!

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas Tree is the presence of friends and family all wrapped up in each other!"
Love you all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

I went back to the gym today!

My sister Gina sent me this picture. And it frightened me.
This is my 8th day off in a row...I don't go back to work til January 3rd. I have been sleeping in each day, reading, watching movies, and just really enjoying the time off! I have also used this time to catch up with friends and family by meeting them for breakfasts and lunches and a Gingerbread latte or two. And, as if that were not enough, I have had friends over for dinner EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK! I'm talking manacotti, tri tip, enchiladas and of course, home-made desserts each cobbler, pumpkin tarts, marshmallow fudge! Add to that a bottle of chianti, chardonnay or a Corona or two and you have a week that has been straight out of a Jenny Craig nightmare!
And when Gina sent me this picture, well, I just knew it was a was time to get MY big a** back to the gym...
So, I got up early this morning, dug out my sweats and my UCLA workout shirt and got over to 24-hour fitness.
I had joined about a month ago, through Montage, but just "never had a chance" to get there...for some reason. I guess I was kinda afraid. I had been "regular" at LA Fitness for a long time...but had quit there a while back--God knows why.
But guess what? It wasn't scary at all. I walked in and 12-year-old Ian at the front desk welcomed me as if I had been in there every day of his young life. I took a quick look around and realized that I was not nearly the oldest, definitely not the largest and for sure NOT among the least attractive persons there. In fact, I would say, I looked like I fit right in...
I got on the treadmill, fumbling for only a minute or two while trying to figure out the 25-step process to get it going. I quickly tried to find the right place to put my keys, towel and water bottle...all, of course, while pretending I do this every day. I got it going, set my Ipod to my "workout" playlist and started running...And--MAN--was it GREAT! I ran three miles before I knew it...and it felt sooooo good...!
I was stoked to finish up and go weigh in on the "real" scale in the locker room--132 pounds.
Not too shabby for someone who had consumed more food and wine in the last six days than in the last six months combined...seriously.
The last of the breakfasts AND dinners is tomorrow...and, once Christmas is over, and well, once I get back from Seattle, I will be back to Balance Bars and Lean Cuisines...(and an occasional Corona--LITE)

The goal? Five times a week at the gym, 125 pounds, and the size 4 jeans...comfortable and with the shirt tucked in...
The REAL goal? To NEVER EVER EVER have my rear end hanging over both sides of a chair...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What to get me for Christmas? Take me out to the ballgame!


Dodgers home opener is April 9...that's 14 weeks and 4 days away...
Angels home opener is April 2...that's 13 weeks and 4 days from now...
Angels/Dodgers Freeway series starts March 29...exactly 13 weeks from today!

Here's the BEST news...
Dodgers vs. Angels--in Anaheim--on my birthday next year!! (19 weeks and 5 days...)

Just to let you know, I would consider tickets to any of these games an OUT OF THE PARK Christmas gift...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Re-visiting Europe

Last night, my friend Ann came over for dinner. I have known Ann since I was 10 years old and she is a one of a kind friend. She wanted to see my new home, but actually came to talk about and see the pictures from my "European Vacation" this past Summer. Ann had spent two months traveling to 18 countries in Europe--on her own!--a few years back and was my biggest cheerleader when it came to me deciding to take a three-week tour through Europe this year.
Last night, as we ate manacotti and enjoyed a bottle of wine, I completely re-lived my European experience with Ann while sharing my (10 pound, amazingly beautiful and incredibly well done "custom-made by Allison") scrapbook from my trip.
I went with "The European Experience" group. The leader of the group, Joe Calwell, was the European History teacher at Saddleback College for 33 years...this was his TWENTIETH time leading this same trip. EVERYTHING was planned out for our complete pleasure and enjoyment--all the sites and sounds and aromas and flavors of each and every city on the getting lost, no wondering where or what to eat and no searching for bathrooms or places to stay!
Among MANYother adventures on this three weeks of pure joy and delight, we saw the Colosseum (and the Pope!) in Rome, Piazza San Marco in Venice, and The David in Florence. We took a helicopter tour of the Swiss Alps in Zermatt, Switzerland, watched the last World Cup game (Go Italy!) while drinking delicious beer at a tavern in Koblenz, Germany. We went in a Windmill and a wooden shoe factory in Holland, went to the Van Gogh museum and on a canal cruise in Amsterdam, had a belgian waffle in Belgium, and, on our last night, had a spectacular dinner in the restaurant on the Eiffel Tower!
Ann and I literally looked at the book for two hours last night. I did not dare tell her that I had over 1000 OTHER pictures from my trip on my computer (I took 220 in Venice alone!) Next time...
This morning I have a new excitement over the memories that I have from those incredible 19 days. I feel like I just got back! The recollections of that trip are among the best in my life--the sites, the countrysides, the monuments, the (UNBELIEVABLE) food, the wine, the music...and the WONDERFUL people who were on the trip with me--strangers to begin with--and now are friends who I am getting Christmas cards from.
The trip came at a time when I really needed a lift...and it did just that.
I think it pretty much brought me back to life...and each time I look at the pictures and tell the stories...I am revitalized...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Two great days!

On Sunday afternoon, we had a big Christmas family reunion at my parents' house. The above picture is my cousin Robin, me, my cousin Laura, my sister Gina, my cousin Tina, my sister Sarah and my sister Debra (my sister Leesa lives in San Mateo and could not make it, having just been down for Thanksgiving)...we literally all grew up together, but had not seen each other for several years...aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, neices, nephews (even Allison and Matt!)...SO much fun to be together with people who share the same family and so many of the same memories!
After the party, Sarah's daughter, Sunny came home with me! She lives in Hawaii now, so it was a special treat for both of us! She took a long, bubble-filled bath, then we cuddled on the couch and watched Charlotte's Web. Once we got into my bed, we talked for a long long time. Sunny is almost 7, so we definitely did not lack for conversation! She is hilarious and really loved snuggling with me on my big feather bed! (Gotta tell ya tho, I had a bit of a rough night once she fell asleep...Sunny is a blanket kicker-offer, quite the bed-hog...and a total SNORER!!)
But oh was it so special to wake up to her sweet little face on the pillow next to me...
We got up, got dressed and went to Coco's for a GIANT cinnamon roll. Then we headed to the mall to do what we had really set out to do--see Santa! Sunny desperately needed to let him know that she was not going to be at her home in Hawaii on Christmas and wondered if he could please bring her presents to her Grandma and Grandpa's house. Santa said he was totally able to do that! As we walked away, Sunny said, "I hate to tell you this Juju, but I don't think that was the real Santa..."
After our visit with the 19 year old fake Santa, we shared a pretzel and went to see the NEW Charlotte's Web movie. It is SOOO good. We both laughed out loud and really enjoyed it (til Sunny made fun of me for crying when Charlotte died...)
As if all of that was not enough, I just got home from our Montage Sales and Conference Services Team dinner party at Salt Creek Grill. I had the most DELICIOUS double pork chop ever and an amazing chocolate souffle. AND I ended up with "1001 Movies to See before you Die" book as my exchange gift!!
Seriously, these last two days have been so great...
And there's still six more days til Christmas...
Life is good.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Scratch and Sniff

I love to spend a couple of hours with the Los Angeles Times on Sunday mornings...I turn on some music, put on a fire and drink in the whole paper, along with a pot of coffee...while still in my jammies.
Today's paper weighed double what it usually does. The advertisement section was BURSTING with "last minute sales" for Christmas shoppers...I love love love to look at the ads and at all the crap I don't need. I finished my Christmas shopping several weeks ago--thank you look forward to NOT entering the mall except to take my neice to see Santa sometime this week.
The most INTERESTING ad today was the "Fragrance Gift Guide", courtesy of Macy's. Twenty-four glossy pages of perfumes and colognes with at LEAST 10 little sub-ads that fell out of the guide as I turned the pages. EACH of them had a little 'scratch & sniff' peely thing on it so you could actually smell the fragrance. (OK, you don't have to scratch it...)
I have not worn perfume in years...I kinda prefer the aroma of something delicious cooking in the kitchen or the smell of a warm summer night at a baseball game...but I couldn't resist peeling every freekin' one and sniffing them all!
Among the sniffables in the "guide" were things that I WOULD love to buy in a bottle: "Romance", "Euphoria" and "Pleasure"
Among the ones I would NOT want to buy in a bottle--"Baby Phat", "Poison" "PURE Poison" and "Insolence"
Half the guide was "celebrity" fragrances--"Just Me" from Paris Hilton ($49), "Fantasy" from Britney Spears($55), "With love" from Hilary Duff (come on!!), and others from Sarah Jessica Parker, Vera Wang and, of course, several from J-Lo.
The one I used to wear (and I am not sure why I stopped wearing it, except perhaps because of the $89.50 price tag) was also in there--Jessica peely thing on that ad...but I remember that I liked that fragrance a lot and I really liked the way it smelled on me.
For men--GREAT fragrance names--"Black", "Double Black", "Chrome", "Onyx", and "Full Throttle" (Yikes!) They all literally smell like a handsome man....and for $65 to $85--they should!!

I remember going to Zody's and buying a bottle of "Love's Baby Soft" for my mom along with a bottle of "High Karate" for my dad...and spending MAYBE five bucks total...
No 24 page fragrance guide, no celebrity endorsements, no high pricetags, and no little peely things...
Just the SWEET smell of the good ol' days...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Last night was my friend Sarah's birthday! We had a little gathering at my home and really went "all out"...
chips and guacamole, barbeque chicken pizza, and a DOUBLE batch of Nestle Tollhouse cookies, (which we ate HOT out of the oven)...Sarah made us a pitcher (or maybe two) of Blue Margaritas--they were spectacular!
While enjoying this bountiful birthday buffet, we played "I love the '80s" trivia...It was unbelievably hilarious as well as amazingly educational! I always knew what group had the first video played on MTV, but did not know who had the SECOND video...Pat Benetar! (Won't YOU sleep better tonight now too?) We all remembered Jenny's phone number (867 5309), and quickly became aware of the fact that each of us had more knowledge than we should about Gremlins, The Facts of Life, ELO, OMD and UB40. I only knew the sports trivia if it was about baseball...thankfully, the 80s were kind to the Dodgers...
I love my friend Sarah. She is beautiful and honest and caring and a joy to be around. This year we spent Valentine's Day together, we drank Coronas at MANY a baseball game (and ALMOST caught a foul ball!)...we love our "movie and sushi" nights! We have been to Chili's so many times that Amir, our favorite waiter, brings our drinks and a basket of chips with the avocado/ranch dip when he sees us come in.
For her birthday, I got Sarah "2001 Things to do Before You Die". The book is a literal list of ideas, goals, plans, thoughts, inspirations --things to spark up life and make it more of an adventure! Some of the ideas are fun and entertaining, some exotic, daring, bold--all of them suggesting ways to add joy and pleasure to life!
We realized we have LOTS to do before we die...and plenty of time to do it all!!
We crossed off the one that said "fall in love", having both "been there, done that." We figured we'd stick to skydiving and bunging jumping. Falling out of a plane or off a bridge is certainly less painful and risky than falling in love...
But, honestly, out of 2001 ideas--
that's the one I want to do the most.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Eiffel Tower Moments...

I have had several people ask me what it means when I say that I am "anticipating many more Eiffel Tower Moments"...
You probably know EXACTLY what I am talking about, you either call it something different, or have never put a name to it...
Of course, I made up the term, but here is what I mean when I say it.

Eiffel Tower Moments-
1. Something you’ve dreamed of all your life…
2. Something you wish would never end…
3. Something you will remember forever…

It's the feeling I had when I was looking at the Eiffel Tower, something I had dreamed of for years and years…I wanted to just stand there and look and soak it in and FEEL it and hold onto that feeling for as long as possible.
I will never ever forget that feeling…OR THE EIFFEL TOWER--ever. It was magnificent…

Since then, I have used the term “Eiffel Tower moment”—but it is reserved for the rarest and most valuable of experiences…

It is an uncommon and exceptional feeling of intense joy combined with literal breathlessness… the feeling of being TRULY overwhelmed with emotional pleasure…when you can actually feel your heart beating with genuine happiness…tears well up in your eyes…it’s a situation that is ‘all you ever dreamed of’…actually, even MORE than you ever dreamed it would be…

There have only been a couple of other times when I was SO very happy EXACTLY where I wanted to be…
I hold on tight to the sweet memories of those times, my Eiffel Tower moments...
Eagerly anticipating another...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Favorite Christmas Songs...

I am sitting in the big comfy chair in my living room, in front of a gorgeous Christmas tree, the lights on the patio railing are twinkling away, and I can feel the warmth coming off the fire I just started in the fireplace. Just enjoying a big bowl of Cherries Garcia low fat yogurt (delicious!) while checking my email...(thank you Dillon for wireless in my home!)
Christmas music is playing softly in the background, and I swear, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be. (Well...)
As soon as I am finished with this blog, (and the ice cream) I am going to snuggle up and read the last three chapters of the new John Grisham book...I saved them for tonight.
This is my kind of perfect evening...

Here's the list of my favorite songs...
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas--The Pretenders
2. Chestnuts Roasting--Nat King Cole
3. The Night before Christmas-Amy Grant
4. Last Christmas-Wham
5. Feliz Navidad--Jose Feliciano (come on, you know you love this one too...)
6. Merry Christmas Darling--The Carpenters
7. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm--Dean Martin
8. When my Heart Finds Christmas--Harry Connick, Jr.
9. Christmas Time is Here--Vince Guaraldi--From the Charlie Brown Christmas
10. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree-Brenda Lee (Think of Kevin dancing)
11. Silent Night--Stevie Nicks
12. Waiting for Love to be Born--Lindsey Lloyd Wallace

I have 165 OTHER Christmas songs on my Ipod. But I think I am going to make a sub-playlist of these. They are the best.
I am happy tonight.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One-trophy woman

I am proud of so many of the things I have achieved in my life so far.
I raised two incredible, intelligent and totally fun to be around people...and I loved every minute of it!!
I went to college for 17 years...10 years at Saddleback College and 7 years at Cal State Fullerton-- earning my degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations, in 2000...I was 37 years old!
And, though I never lived by myself for one minute before age 42, I have completely learned to be on my own in the last couple of years and have realized that, not only am I very good at it-- I also really like it! My home is amazing!!
So is my life!
Kinda funny then, isn't it, that the only thing I have ever earned a trophy for is for bowling! Yep, I received the trophy for "high average" on the St. Catherine's after school bowling team in 1977. I bowled a 207 that year...which no doubt accounted for the high average. All the other 7th grade girls were bowling like, 42. It wasn't exactly huge competition...
Guess I kinda "peaked" bowling-wise in 1977.
So grateful that I continued to grow and learn and acheive and become successful in so many other ways!
And it's really too bad that they don't give out trophies for doing well in the things that really matter in life.
I am sure I'd have a few more of these to show off...

Monday, December 11, 2006

DiLallo Grandpa Celebrates #92!

Today is my Grandpa John DiLallo's 92nd birthday...Amazing huh? I am blessed to still have my grandparents!
My Nana turned 93 on October 15th and they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on October 30.
My Grandpa has outlived all seven of his brothers and sisters and my Nana actually still has one sister living in Montreal.
Her sister is 102.
Grandpa was born in 1914 in Campobaso, Italy. He came over through Ellis Island in 1921 and only finished to the third grade before going to work in his family's store in Montreal. He and my Nana, along with my dad, my aunt Louise and Uncle Albert, moved to Santa Ana California in 1957 where they bought their home for $7,000. Grandpa was a milkman for Adohr Farms for 30 years. My sisters and I used to go on his route with him sometimes. We drank lots of chocolate milk out of ice cold glass bottles.
Nana and Grandpa lived on their own--and he drove!--until about a year and a half ago. They did yardwork, made trips to Costco and cooked big Italian meals for friends and family until they just couldn't do it anymore. Today, they are in a board and care in Mission Viejo... we visit as often as we can. It's definitely not the same as coming into their home which was so often filled with the delicious aroma of roasted peppers!
Grandpa still loves to tell the story of "coming to America", loves to sing songs and insists that "he tells the jokes"...
He actually didn't look very good tonight. We couldn't even get him to sing his monkey song...
But he did tell me that I need to find a nice Italian man.
Love you Gramps...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Breakfast with Rebecca

My friend, Rebecca, had her 45th birthday last month. We couldn't go out because she was having such a bad reaction to the chemo that day. We finally made it out today...our mutual friend Ann, picked her up and they met me at the Loft restaurant at Montage, Rebecca's choice of places to meet! She looked great. She is able to wear a wig now and her eyebrows have partially grown back. And although the treatments have turned her teeth brown, she smiled boldly as she saw that we were to sit at a table next to the large window looking out over the beautiful ocean. She hugged me gently and said, "This is exquisite."
Rebecca had a stomach ache last year that wouldn't go away. Yup, it was stomach cancer, and three surgeries later, it is still being found in other places in her body. She is diagnosed 'terminal'...and, she shared today, that the doctors don't even put an amount of time on her-- she should not even be alive. Her "goal" is to live to see her daughter's graduation from college in June. She speaks softly as she shares how much her life has changed in the last year...just last Christmas she was fine! This Christmas she can no longer live on her own, can no longer drive and is doubtful that she will even be around next Christmas.
All that to say...I was encouraged by Rebecca today. She said she enjoys everything MORE now...that she has realized what really matters, that she has made amends with everyone in her life and that she will never be on a diet again!
As she ordered eggs benedict, I decided to put my own diet aside for the morning and enjoy a real breakfast of bacon and eggs and hashbrowns and toast. Ann had a crab and gouda scramble and as we shared bites with one another we absolutlely delighted in the deliciousness of food! We took our time, we looked out over to Catalina, and talked and laughed--and cried-- with each other. We discussed the mystery of the future and how NONE OF US knows how much time we have!
We walked the grounds and Rebecca remarked on every flower, every tree, and she asked me to take a picture of the ocean and the rocks for her. She loves and appreciates life! It made me realize how much time I spend literally crying over situations that cannot be changed and feeling sorry for myself. I have got to learn to let go of the saddness, look positively to the future and appreciate all the good things I have in my life.
I thanked Rebecca for sharing the time with me, for reminding me of how good life is...and for encouraging me to eat bacon, eggs and hashbrowns again. So darn good!
The simple pleasures of life...and a gentle reminder to simply find that pleasure...while you can.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

One more reason I love Santa...

How many days til Baseball Season?

I admit it, I suffer from "post baseball season depression"...while most people try to find a way to "keep christmas in their heart all year long"...I have baseball in mine. My love for baseball started long ago--in the garage with my dad...listening to Vin Scully on the little black transister radio...we'd root and cheer and listen to the very end. My dad taught me about the fat lady...we never turned it off til it was over. Still today, I have a TV in my bedroom reserved only for baseball games that run past my bedtime...seems I can't go to sleep til I hear Vinny say, "Good night everybody!" On an occasional Sunday back in the day, there would actually be a game on TV! Channel 11--I remember reading the paper with my dad as we watched!
Gosh I loved those days! My dad and I STILL enjoy going to games together...getting there early for a beer and a hot dog while we watch BP and staying til the fat one starts matter what the score...
Baseball is really the only thing I watch on TV...I LOVE the sound of Vinny saying, "It's time for Dodger Baseball!!" Aah. In the non-baseball season I watch a few movies (Sandlot, Field of Dreams), celebrate Christmas (with a half dozen Dodger ornaments on the tree) and read--keeping close tabs on what's going on with the baseball world...
GOOD NEWS--Dodgers will have their names on their shirts next year...GREATER NEWS--Luis Gonzalez is a Dodger!
In my Loft hangs the picture above. The first thing I bought to hang in my new home. An autographed photo of Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes and Bill Russell--amazing players who set a record staying together as an infield for EIGHT years. Such GREAT years too. Years that included Steve Yeager, Dusty Baker, Manny Mota, Don Sutton and, ah, Fernando...And, just a few years later, Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit, two run shot in the bottom of the 9th to win game one of the 1988 World Series would become MY FAVORITE MOMENT IN BASEBALL! I am sure EVERYONE agrees! Hobbling around those bases, pumping his arm!! just doesn't get any better!!! It is just such a great game...the greatest, for sure...Gosh do I miss it!!!
Only 115 more days til I can ROOT ROOT ROOT for the Dodgers!
I don't care if I ever get back...

Friday, December 8, 2006

I love my new car...

Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am very independant and completely self-sufficient. I don't like to bother anyone! I've lived alone for almost two years now, and find that there is very little--if anything--that I have not been able to do on my own. Really the only thing that's prevented me from being 100% independant was my car...I had a Jetta, which was fine, but I had just bought a home and was unable to make trips to Ikea or bring home furniture from consignment stores without having to borrow Matt Jensen's truck or, worse yet, my mother's mini-van! I'm kinda impatient too! I want to get things right away! The day that I impulsively bought a large bar at World Market and had to tear all of the packaging off and work for 20 minutes in the parking lot to fit it in the car, and then drive with the top of it in my lap--was the day I decided the Jetta had to go.
I got online and found exactly the car I wanted. A 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo....ok, that's the car I WANT--google it and have a's amazing...but trips to Ikea would definitely be out of the question...(someday though!) I continued my search on and found the car I NEEDED: a 2001 Passat Wagon--in (Dodger) blue! Within a week or so, I got the car, they bought my Jetta and I was off to do some serious large item shopping.
(Notice that the NOTHING plates are back! I have had them since 1980)
Thanks to the wagon I have been able to almost completly furnished my home right out of my friend Maureen's consignment/antique shop on Coast Highway. I have bought a coffee table, end table, dresser, two night stands, a dining room table and 4 chairs from Maureen. And she restored my hopechest...All of which fit in the back of my car! Genious!
(The beautiful vanity in my room was NOT hauled in my car...I will save its story for another blog...)
Of course, there is then the issue of the 15 stairs which lead up to the house from my garage. Again, I am too impatient to wait for someone to come assist me. Allison was there to help me with the dresser...but the rest I brought up myself! (If I am ever "missing", you will find me at the bottom of those stairs under a piece of furniture)...I have learned to take stuff up one stair at a time or "roll" it up the stairs. Then I drag it on a beach towel to its destination in my home! Voila!
OK, sure, one time I burst a blood vessel in my eye pushing something up and, well, yes, sometimes my back hurts for days...
but the house looks awesome!!!!
And all thanks to my new car!
I am woman...independant, self-sufficient and, well...
soaking in a hot tub.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The soundtrack of my life...courtesy of ipod

While adding songs to my ipod last week, I realized that I have 2553 songs on it now. I always listen to a playlist or recently added or purchased OR to one particular artist at a time (mostly John Mayer...I swear we share thoughts.)
Anyway, I decided I needed to start listening to the 2553 one after the other to find out what else is on there! changing to a playlist and no running back to John.
I tell ya, it's been incredible. I keep saying, "Oh! I love this song!" There are literally HUNDREDS of songs on it that I haven't heard in years and I just love...there are also MANY that just need to be put to rest. But the one thing I am really enjoying is how a song can conjure up an incredibly specific memory...and as I listened quite a bit these last few days, I realized how meaningful all these songs are to me...they've been the "background" music to my life. They ARE my memories.
A few examples...
"Julie, do ya love me" Bobby Sherman's big 1968 hit and MY very first 45 record (I was 5)...I was sure he was singing to me...
"Ooh, baby I love your way" Peter Frampton--the very first concert I ever went to..with my folks...I think I was 12.
"Take it to the Limit" by the Eagles and "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver. My family did a 27-state tour in 1978. I made a bunch of mix tapes which were sung over and over during the 5 weeks in our Motorhome and at KOAs accross the country
"Babe" by Styx --Homecoming 1978--with Steve Brady. Wow.
"Endless Love" Lionel Richie and Diana Ross--this was (ironically enough) the song sung at my wedding...
"Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics-- the first song Allison ever danced to! She was about 9 months old
"Roxanne"--The Police...we saw them in concert at least a dozen times. Our dog was also Roxanne...
"Karma Chameleon"--Culture Club--my sisters and I took Allison, age 3,--DRESSED AS BOY GEORGE--to this concert
"Mrs. Robinson" by Simon &Garfunkel. Zac was about 4, he heard this song & said, "Mommy, Jesus loves Mrs. Robinson!"
Love the early '80s songs--the Cars, Pretenders, Blondie and anything that reminds me of the early days of MTV. It was one of about 6 cable chanels available. Our TV still had a UHF knob.
There are so many songs that make me think of specific people or special times in life.
"Disappear", "Unchained Melody", "At Last" and "How Great is our God" ( the #1 most played song on my ipod!)
And then, there are those that just need to go...all the Michael Jackson is on the way out. As well as anything from the School House Rock soundtrack and all songs from Broadway plays.
And, oh dear God for sure--anything by James Blunt (besides "You're Beautiful")

Current soundtrack? Anything by Stevie Wonder, The Black Eyed Peas, Seal, Coldplay, Frank Sinatra, Sting, Ray Charles, Maroon 5, John Mayer. OK, there are a lot more too...
I SO love music, I love all the memories.
I love that feeling that you get--for just a second--of "being there" again..

I failed to mention my all-time #1 favorite singer on the ipod--
Allison Hibbard-- who holds SEVEN of the 2553 spots...
the best seven for sure. Talk about memories!

What's on YOUR soundtrack?
I hope you had the time of your life...

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

When my heart finds Christmas

Deck the halls, huh??
Last year at this time, I lived in a "junior one bedroom" apartment. It was slightly depressing to not have the room to decorate, but even more depressing to not even WANT to decorate. It had been one tough year and I did not have the will or the strength to open the boxes of Christmas decorations that were stacked on my apartment balcony. Too many ghosts of Christmas pasts...of my kids helping me to decorate the tree, of stuffing stockings at midnight, of having a big, beautiful home decked out for Christmas....heck, I didn't even have a fireplace for the stockings! Allison and I bought a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" at Urban outfitters and it sat as the lone holiday decoration on my kitchen counter for the season. Ugh!

Fast forward (tho the time went by soooooo slowly....) to Christmas Season 2006! The light at the end of the tunnel was Christmas! I opened up those boxes of decorations a few weeks ago and was SO excited to pick up the one that had Allison's handprint on it from preschool, Zac's kindergarten picture tucked inside a wreath-shaped cookie dough ornament and ALL of my Santa Claus collection! There were no more "ghosts" of Christmas past...but the feeling of the true "spirit" of all the amazing Christmases that were lived and loved and remembered and celebrated! I could not wait to get a tree into my new home, hang the stockings by the chimney with care, and deck them halls! In the words of my son Zac, my home is very "densly" is full of Christmas again, full of love again, full of wonderful memories and hope for the future!
My heart has found Christmas again this year...
I hope it finds you too...

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Here's my first blog. I have wanted to do this for over a year. I love reading everyone else's blogs...(especially Allison Hibbard's!)...and now, I get to have my own.
These are my kids...Allison and Zachary. The best people on earth...
This was taken at my housewarming party this past Sunday...I just bought a home in Aliso Viejo and filled it with friends and family (and tons of food!) to celebrate...
I need a little help now...should I talk about my house? my kids? my job at Montage? my European vacation I took over the summer? the JOY of the Dodgers putting their names back on their uniforms? How I always wished I was Steve Garvey?
I will sleep on it...
odds are the Europe trip will win. I took 225 pictures in Venice alone! Ah Piazza San Marco! Nothin' like it!
Except maybe the helicopter ride over the Swiss Alps or the Belgian waffle in Belgium...or dinner on the Eiffel tower...
Yeah, next to my 21 day trip to Europe was the best thing I ever did...