Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Root root root for the Dodgers!

Baseball is back!
Good news: the first Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training game is TOMORROW! Yeah! And GREAT news: my dad and I will be attending Opening Day 2007 at Dodger Stadium! Woo Hoo!
I don't care if I ever get back...
And, oh yes, I will be wearing my sweet hat.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beauty after 40...

I LOVE the advertising for the new DoveProAge products. Being (slightly) over 40 myself, I am thoroughly encouraged by Dove and by these beautiful woman! All of them over 40 (most over 50) and obviously proud of who they are and what they look like regardless of their age!
If I did not know how old I was, I would think that I was about 28...ok, maybe 33. I am, for the most part, pretty happy with the way I look and feel today at age 43! Honestly, I feel better than I ever have. My eyesight and my blood pressure both improved in the last year or so and I weigh less today than I have since 1985. I exercise more as well as relax more. I read more and watch TV now! (And I LIKE IT!) And, yeah, I have more confidence than ever!
I have no problem telling my age. And always find it funny when someone says, "You don't look 43." I always say, "What does 43 look like?"
I think that's the point of the ProAge ads. (Cause really, what's the alternative to growing older? Yeah, no thanks.) They're telling me that I am not defined, by any means, by the fact that I was born in 1963. It's meaningless on OH so many levels.
"Take care of yourself" is the message (and Dove hopes, of course to sell a few products with this message) and then, "ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"
The truth is, the amount of birthdays you have had or the number of years you have lived really don't mean a thing. What counts is CELEBRATING LIFE with every birthday and really truly LIVING every single day of every year!
Pro Age? You better believe it!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ciao Bella!

This is my beautiful friend, Bella when she was first born two and a half years ago, and tonight, when I had dinner with her wonderful family. I used to work with Bella's mommy and daddy, Jana and Leigh, at the church office and it's been a joy to have them as friends. (Bella is also big sister to baby Leighton.) Bella gave me a lovely tour of their home and we enjoyed a delicious barbecued chicken dinner. After dessert, we tried on some jewelry while loading up a Garfield Pez dispenser and crunching down all the candies...Yum! So fun to spend time with these great people. It was a beautiful night. A Bella Notte.

Reese Witherspoon

I have received emails from THREE friends this morning all saying the same thing:
"Julie--Reese Witherspoon looked just like YOU on the Oscars last night!"
I have such nice friends.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

And the winner is...

Though John Mayer is far more articulate than most of us in his expression of thoughts and has the giftedness to compose music to his journaling (resulting in pure genius), I think all of us can emotionally relate to the amazingly compelling songs on this album. I have listened to "Dreaming with a Broken Heart" at least 100 times, empathizing with every word of the gut-wrenching lyrics:
"Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hands? Would you get them if I did? No you won't. Cause your gone. When you're dreaming with a broken heart, the waking up is the hardest part."
"Slow dancing in a burning room" tells the familiar tale of a love that you know is not right--you can feel the burn of flames, hear the smoke alarms and barely breath from the smoke of this unhealthy relationship...yet you try to keep dancing, while the world puts out the fire with giant red flags. Yikes. I get it.
"We're going down, and you can see it too. And you know that we're doomed my dear."
There is a hope for subtle restoration and healing in "In Repair"...
"It's taking so long, I could be wrong, I could be ready. But if I take my heart's advice, I should admit, it's still unsteady. I am in repair."
He's a deep thinker, that John Mayer. And he draws me in from every angle. Love the whole album. Passionate, powerful, and deeply profound.
Of course, I still totally delight in "Your body is a Wonderland" too...

I always love Oscar night

What do you get when you cross my parents with my good friend, Sarah, a bottle of Chardonnay, (as well as a blue margarita or two), a big pot of pasta, two loaves of garlic bread, a giant salad (with a ton of bleu cheese chunks), banana cream pie and the Academy Awards?
An incredibly enjoyable evening...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Europe Reunion #3

Tonight was the THIRD reunion of the people I went to Europe with last Summer. Yes...the third time seven months. I LOVE these people! We truly had such an incredible time together during our three weeks as world travelers and we all have so much in common. Obviously, a love of travel, but, more importantly, we all have an amazing love for life!
This is Jay...he made us all laugh every single day of the entire three weeks. His natural humor just kept us going constantly. He's a happy man. Always smiling.

This is Margarita. She had lost her husband to cancer in 2005. I had lost a few things myself that year, so, together we drank "to life" (in MANY countries), we talked a lot, cried a bit, laughed hysterically--we NEVER stopped smiling--and we promised each other that we'd truly enjoy every day of our lives as much as we did those twenty one days in Europe.

Most of these people are headed to Spain and Portugal in October with the same tour group and same (amazing) tour guide. Maybe next year I can join them on another tour.
I will be spending my vacation in my new home this year. I will be making several day trips to Laguna Beach, of course. And I'll be smiling.

Six Feet Under

I faithfully followed this brilliantly written and superbly acted HBO program from the premier episode through the end of season four. Unfortunately, I was never able to see any of season five, which was the last season. But thanks to Netflix and a bit of free time, I have now seen the first two episodes of the fifth season and three more arrived in the mail today! Six Feet Under is phenomenal. One of my favorites of all time.
And Netflix is the greatest thing ever.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One of my favorite people in the whole world

Each year, about this time, I begin to eagerly anticipate the sight and sound of Vin Scully and the JOY of him becoming part of my life again. Vin and I spend just about every night of the week together from April to October. His voice, his endearing stories, his unbelievable knowledge and love of baseball enhancing my life each and everyone one of those nights. Mid-way through each telecast he gives a "20 years ago on this date..." or "on this date in 1965..." trivia story. Truth is, he can tell Dodger stories of 50 plus years ago--he has been with them 58 years! He ends that segment with "...that was quite a game...let's go back to this one..." And I always say it with him. There's a TV in my bedroom for just one reason: the occasional Dodger games that run past my bed time. I never turn off a game before it's over--cause 'it ain't over til it's over' first of all--and also, because of Vinnie. At the end of each game, he gives a little wrap of of the evening and then kindly says, "Good night everybody." I always say, "Good night Vinnie!" and go to sleep smiling.
All those LONG nights from mid-October to early April, the bedroom TV gathers dust and, well, there's no one to say good night to.
Just one more reason I love baseball. I am counting the days.
Good night Vinnie.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Banana Cream Pie

My friend Jana invited me to come have dinner with her family next week. I will be bringing dessert, which will, of course, be a banana cream pie. This dessert has distinctive meaning to Jana's husband, Leigh, who moved here from Australia several years ago. Leigh came to our home on his first night in California, and I had prepared a banana cream pie for the occasion of his arrival. (I offered to smile and make him a Vegemite sandwich but he chose the pie.) And he LOVED it! I made it on a couple of other occasions for Leigh after that and he has mentioned it to me in OH so many conversations since then.
It's been a couple of years since I cooked up a banana cream pie and I am delighted to be making one to share with the banana cream pie loving Sarti family.
It's a luscious treat that beats Vegemite anytime.
And I'll be smiling when I bring it to them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kenya feel the love tonight?

Allison and the team have arrived safely in Kenya.
On top of that--Allison is emailing and blogging from Kenya!
...that's my girl!

I love Italy

One of the greatest experiences of my life was traveling through Italy last Summer. I visited Rome (enjoying gelato in Vatican Square), Venice (at Piazza San Marco), Florence (on the Ponte Vecchio) and Lake Maggiore.
Then I went on to Switzerland and toured the Swiss Alps in a helicopter...but that's another blog...
I took over 500 pictures while in Italy...and I never stopped smiling! I am ready to go back and see the rest of Italy now!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Allison in Africa

Just got back from dinner with my daughter, Allison. She will be leaving first thing in the morning for Kenya with several other Saddleback Church leaders. This is the fourth time Allison has gone on this trip and each time is an amazing experience for her! She'll be teaching, singing and loving on the people of Kenya. She is so good at that. She'll probably be running with flamingos, kissing giraffes and playing golf with monkeys just never know what's gonna happen on that trip!
Please keep Allison and the Saddleback team in your thoughts and prayers over this next two weeks.

My Mother

This is my mom.

(She's not really a biker.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

THAT'S the plan??

For MONTHS I have been sitting through the "coming soon on DVD" preview for Flightplan on nearly every movie I have watched. I never really wanted to see it, but EACH TIME I saw that preview, I got more and more concerned about where her daughter was! Then, I saw a different trailer for the movie which included the captain telling Jodi Foster, "your daughter was never on this plane." That was it. I had to know.
I had Netflix send me Flightplan ASAP so I could cease worrying about Julia.
I just watched it. Uninteresting and ridiculous! The term "anti-climactic" was created for just such a film.

But I will sleep better tonight.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 3-D this year.
Yeah, comes with the glasses.

I know, you just read it for the articles.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Best Friend's Wedding

Me and my friend, Sonja, on her wedding day.

...15 years later at our Class Reunion in August.

Isn't it amazing? We look exactly the same!

Did your mom...

take a picture of you on your first day of school each year? This mom did.

Allison and Zac 1992

Friday, February 16, 2007

I got flowers

...TWICE this week!
From these two incredible guys...
Thank you Dad and thank you Matt...Beautiful and oh so thoughtful...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Girl in the elevator

I stepped onto an elevator today that had about six other people on it. As I got in, I saw a person I thought I knew standing in the back.
This was the conversation in my head (which lasted about 3 seconds), "You know her, you like her, oh my gosh, it's nice to see her..."
Seriously, I was happy to see this person and she looked nice...and I wanted to tell her how happy I was to see her--and again, this all took about 3 seconds to transpire. Because, by the time second number FIVE rolled around, I realized that the back of the elevator was a mirror and the nice person who I was happy to see was me.
Is that weird?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Although this February 14th finds me what you might call "Valentine-less", I am most certainly not lacking love and/or lovely aspects in my life. And though there is not a romantic interest this Valentine's Day, my life is truly over flowing with love. It is brimming with irresistible qualities, people I adore and elements of joy that fill EVERY single one of my days with affection, devotion, passion and delight.
My children--I talked to both of them today. They are my life-long Valentines. I love them SO much.
My parents--I had lunch with my mom and received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my dad.
My friends and co-workers and neighbors--An amazing and constant source of love and support and kindness and affection.
My job--I LOVE MY JOB. I look forward to going each day.
My house--it's SO me, so comfortable and's home.
I have to give mention to BASEBALL! It's in the air and the best is yet to come! How about all the little things I am so grateful for--my computer, my Ipod, Netflix and the fact that I mailed my taxes off today...I am filled with love for SO many things today...and everyday.
Valentine's Day without a lover is kinda like Thanksgiving Day without the main course: There is still SO much to be grateful for, still so much deliciousness, and the only thing lacking might just turn out to be a turkey anyway.
With happiness and hope on this day full of love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Arrivederci Grandpa John...

My Grandpa John died last night. This is a picture from the last day I saw him which was about three weeks ago. He was in such good spirits that day...he kept asking when I was going to find a good Italian boyfriend! (He was 100% Italiano!)
Even though it was somewhat expected the last few weeks and even though he had lived a very full 92 years, I am so very sad tonight. I have lived within a few miles of my grandparents all of my life and would run into them at Costco or the market up until just a couple of years ago. They were part of my kids' lives too, never missing a Fuddrucker's gathering up to just last month. I can't believe I am not going to be able to stop by and say hello to him anymore. He was hilarious. Corny as hell, but hilarious.
If I know my Grandpa, I am sure he's got a crowd around him in heaven right now, he's cooked up a big Italian dinner and he's telling everyone, "Hey, I do the jokes!"
Ti Amo Grandpa John

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy 4th Anniversary Montage montage

A special thanks to Matt Jensen (in the argyle sweater), Allison's boyfriend, who went with me! Matt showed up at my door with a bouquet of flowers and knowledge about Willie Mays. And no necklace.

In praise of my DVR and the Police and the Grammys

Yep. Thanks to the DVR I am sitting here with my bowl of cereal watching The Police sing "Roxanne" on the Grammys. Fabulous! Love the Police. Saw them many times in tiny venues in the early days. Back when they had to sing some songs twice because they only had one album.
Love the DVR. Love fast forwarding through the commercials and the Dixie Chicks. I really love John Mayer. Please vote for me to sing with him next year. "Gravity!"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Still amazing after all these years...

While reading my brand new "Sporting News Baseball" Magazine last night, I was fascinated and impressed with the number of players who are either over 40 or will celebrate their 40th birthday this year. Being in my (early) 40s as well, I find it uplifting and encouraging and, I guess, I am just kinda proud of all these guys. Even if you're not a huge baseball fan, these players have all been around for a while and you're probably at least familiar with their names.(If you haven't heard of them, well, it's a sure bet that you and I aren't dating.) These guys are the true, seasoned veterans and will be a pleasure to continue to keep tabs on as they begin the '07 season:Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield, Kenny Rogers, Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux, Jeff Conine, Craig Biggio, Moises Alou, Omar Vizquel, and Woody Williams, (among others!) Honorable mention goes to Mike Piazza who will be 39 this year!
And the most impressive and inspiring player, hands down, has to be Julio Franco of the New York Mets. Julio will take the field this year at age 49. Awesome.
Gosh I love baseball...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Olivia Newton John

Today a guest came up to my desk and said, "Good Morning, Olivia!"
I just smiled and said good morning back, not wanting to correct him.
Then he said, "You look exactly like Olivia Newton John! Has anyone ever told you that?"
Yep, quite often actually. And I am flattered every time.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Yes, I have a tattoo

Two years ago this week, I got this big, giant, colorful tattoo. Why? Because I always wanted one. Because all of my sisters have one. Because I was rebelling. Maybe I was looking for something permanent in my otherwise very temporary life at the time. Just plain stupidity. There's MORE to the story, but that's most of the reasons. And let me add, it was supposed to be about 1/2 the size that it ended up being. I have loved it, hated it, forgotten about it, screamed about it, cried about it, laughed about it and showed it off. The question NOW is...should I have it removed?
I have been looking into all the different kinds of tattoo removal treatments. Painful, time consuming and unbelievably expensive and extensive treatments. Removal by laser is the most effective, but costs nearly 10 times what the original tattoo cost, PLUS it takes 3 to 6 months of weekly treatments. Sounds painful in so many ways. I found a lotion online that is applied to the tattoo daily and actually makes your skin allergic to the ink, thus causing your body to slowly secrete it. Sounds attractive, huh? I can already imagine what my clothes and sheets will look like.
Honestly, because of the location of the tattoo, I go weeks without seeing it or even thinking about it. NOBODY at work ever believes that I have a tattoo, and are shocked when I reveal the gigantic four-color body art. (I know they think I am going to show them a tiny heart or a little flower.)There are days when I see it in the mirror and just cringe! I literally yell, "Julie Hibbard, what were you thinking?"
But then, of course, there are the days when I just love it, and wish that I could get a closer look at it. And days when I hope someone sees a little bit of it at the store or in a restaurant. There are actually a few good memories attached to the tattoo including the retelling of the three painful (yet entertaining) hours at "Sid's" that February afternoon. I swear it hurt more than giving birth. I was so very happy that day, yet getting the tattoo is something I have often regretted.
Funny thing is, today was one of those days when I looked at it, and smiled, and thought...Gosh, it IS beautiful...I think I'll keep it.
And blog about it.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Valentine's Day

Ok, Valentines day is less than a week away!! And of course, flowers, chocolates, and spa treatments are the typical Valentine's Day gifts for women. Sure, ALL of these gifts are GREAT, no doubt about it! Studies have shown that flowers can actually improve mood, relieve stress and lift spirits. And we all know now that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can LITERALLY improve your physical health great is that? And a day at the spa! Well, just about everyone would agree that a few hours at the spa and one truly feels like a whole new person. Nothing quite like being pampered, totally relaxed and having someone rub the kinks out.
But chocolate is so fattening, flowers die and even a 'day at the spa' only lasts a few hours. I have found a very romanitic Valentine's Day gift idea, one that I think just about anyone would thouroughly enjoy: An "under the counter Ipod player." Costs less than a dozen roses, and far less than a day at the spa. And it's a lot easeir on the waistline than a box of Sees.
Just imagine the hours, days, months---YEARS of pleasure this little gift could bring you and your Valentine. Just think of how much more pleasurable dancing in the kitchen will be.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Bravo Matt Jensen!

Special THANK YOU to Matt Jensen who completely SURPRISED me and re designed this page! I opened my blog this morning to find it highly personalized and custom designed for a baseball lover like me. Matt (Allison's boyfriend of 2 1/2 years) is an incredible graphic designer and one really amazing and creative artist. He is also hilarious, kind, thoughtful and has been the perfect addition to our family--my parents, my sisters and my nephews adore him. So do I. Thank you Matt for the new look...let's hope it helps the Dodgers too!

Eat Pray Love

I bought this book last year, but for some reason, never opened it up. Today, I am not sure why, I pulled it off the shelf and decided to give it a try.
I cried--sobbed--through the first 35 pages. It is Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir. She is a woman who "had everything" in life, then goes through a traumatic divorce, devastating heartbreak, crushing depression and the loss of everything she thought she was supposed to be. It sounds shockingly similar to MY last two years.
To recover, she gives herself the time and space to find out who she really is and what she really wants out of life. Gilbert's ultimate goal is to find balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. Eat, Pray, Love is essentially about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment. I am really looking forward to reading about her journey. So far, I absolutely love it. Talk about perfect timing.

Monday, February 5, 2007


Eric Gagne is no longer a Dodger. How sad is that? And even though Eric spent most of the last two seasons on the bench with injuries, I am going to miss him tremendously. Dirty hat, un tucked jersey and all.
Eric Gagne is absolutely brilliant to watch in action. He would be brought in to WIN the game, usually with about a dozen 98mph pitches. Stunning site to behold! Gagne holds the major league record for consecutive saves--84! and he won the Cy Young--rare for a reliever!--in 2003. He is considered statistically to be the most outstanding closer in the game.
I will miss the GAME OVERs flashing at the stadium, the bearded tee shirt bearing the same message, and I will TRULY miss Vin Scully proclaiming, "Bienvenue Monsieur Gagne!" That was one of the best parts.
Au revoir Monsieur Gagne...
bonne chance pour tout...

Some of my favorite movie lines...

1. If you build it, he will come.
2. There's no crying in baseball!
3. I see dead people.
4. We'll always have Paris.
5. Snap out of it!
6. Mr. 152 insights to my soul...
7. You're the worst kind. You're high maintenance, but you think you're low maintenance.
8. You're terrible Muriel.
9. Here's an idea-when you tell a story, have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!
10. I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car. It was like...magic.
11. Fra-gee-lay--must be Italian.
12. Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?
13. You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.
14. Why we'd love to have Santa Claus come stay with us.
15. Brothers don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug.
16. Some woman is gonna want me to do it to her and I'm not gonna know what it is.
17. Rosebud
18. You take the blond, and I'll take the one with the turban.
19. We got no food, no jobs...our pets heads are falling off!
20. You're killing me Smalls!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

So proud to be a Titan!

Last night I had the privilege of attending this incredible event. I am a PROUD graduate of Cal State Fullerton and each year I join the Alumni Association as a way to show my appreciation for the school and the part they played in the story of my education and my success. I spent 10 years at Cal State Fullerton (I know, I should be a doctor.) Allison is also a proud graduate of CSUF!
This year, I decided to donate "just a little extra" so I could be a part of this night of celebration...and see Chicago in concert! The entire evening was such a treat for me and my friend, Kelly. We ate our way through the incredible dessert and champagne reception, and then thoroughly enjoyed the tributes and awards to special contributors which were SUNG by the performing arts group from CSUF. Each of the "introductions" was a '50s or '60s song re-written to let the audience know of the recipients' contributions. It was SO well done--the group is amazingly talented. Then, the capper of the night--Chicago came on to perform. Spectacular! These guys are celebrating 40 years of success...and having a blast doing it! They have sold 122 million records in those 40 years and have just released "Chicago 30".NOTHING better than a concert where you can sing every single song and the horn players were nothing short of fabulous!
Cal State Fullerton, the most affordable fully accredited university in the area, will celebrate their 50th anniversary this fall with a variety of special events and celebrations. There are more than 35,000 students currently enrolled and they have one HECK of a baseball team to boot! Over 176,000 people hold degrees from Cal State Fullerton, and last night, I was OH so proud to be one of them!

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Finest Persian Cuisine

About 10 of the Montage team were invited to join our Director of Banquets, Javad, at Caspian Persian Restaurant in Irvine tonight. Javad (on the right, with Jaime and me) is from Persia and was eager to have us share in this dining experience. We started with the dish below which is hummus, eggplant, stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, and chicken salad. I ordered the Baghala Polo, which is lamb and fava beans mixed with Basmati rice. We all sampled from one another--everything was so unique and delicious! And then the show began! A band came out and began to play and suddenly, there were Belly Dancers everywhere! Great outfits, amazing dancing. I gotta admit that all the songs sounded very much like Cheb Mami singing Desert Rose with Sting. Once the belly dancers were finished, the entire place got up to dance. It was an experience like none other...super entertaining...and just a totally different world. (And, I have to add, that one of the most fun parts of the night was that FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, I was able to talk about "The Office" with everyone!)