To the races!

I am a woman of varied interests. So when one of our advertising clients called me on Friday and offered me tickets to Superbike Races, I jumped at the chance. I hadn't been to a race in ages. I am a motor sport enthusiast. However, DO NOT confuse me for those hee-haw rednecks that watch Nascar races and go to Monster Truck rallies. Offer me tickets to any of those events and I will politely pass them on to someone else.

I'm not exactly sure how I came to enjoy motor sports except to say I think the men in my life are to blame. First, while growing up, I was Daddy's girl. He and I spent lots of time around cars. Not fixing them or wrenching on them (I'm not THAT much of a tomboy), but driving them and appreciating their luxury or performance. When I was old enough to drive, my father insisted on teaching me how to drive a manual transmission. Then we took regular test drives at different car dealerships... of course under the guise that he was going to buy me a new car for High School graduation. The new car never materialized. I did receive a 5-speed Honda Prelude Si. That was as good as a brand new car as far as I was concerned. That car was quick and handled like a dream. With that, my love of speed was born.

Second accomplice to my love of motor sports is my brother Nate. Nate is 9 years younger than me. This does not stop either one of us from introducing the other to high adrenalin, expensive hobbies. Upon driving age, Nate not only got into cars, but became obsessive about street racers. He got a Honda Civice Hatchback and "hooked it up" so to speak. Being the supportive sister that I am, I took an interest as well. Then again, I didn't really have a choice in the matter. Somehow or another, I always got persuaded (read: conned into) making banners or flyers for his car club events. Then he would talk about cars incessantly. So, the addiction continued.

The last accomplice is my fiance, Rob. Somehow when we first met, I got roped (again! read: conned into) working on some video production projects with him. His concepts involved...surprise... surprise... motor sports! For a time, we spent every weekend at some kind of racing event... touring cars... drag races... you name it, we were there to get footage. In the end, we got a 30 second commercial out of it... and I was completely smitten with racing.

Since then, we go to several race events a year. Which brings us to this weekend's event, I am not necessarily an aficionada of motorcycles, but I decided to go. I'm more of a car girl in all honesty. I still enjoy the roar of the motors as they speed past me. It was a good time. It wasn't too crowded. The weather was perfect. Although, I believe I did myself a disservice. Trying to get Rob to wait to buy a motorcylce is definitely going to be an uphill battle after taking him to races. I guess you have to pay for your fun in the long run...

F ree tickets courtesy of Honda

This is the closest he's going to get to a Ducati anytime soon... he just doesn't know it yet..



In honor of my 4 years here in L.A., I thought I'd answer this pseudo questionnaire.

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

  1. Salesgirl at Frozen Yogurt shop
  2. Photo Lab Technician
  3. Waitress
  4. Computer/Inkjet Tech Support

Four Movies I’ve Watched Over and Over:

  1. Casablanca
  2. When Harry Met Sally
  3. Return of the Jedi
  4. So, I Married an Axe Murderer

Four Places I Have Lived In:

  1. Virginia Beach, VA
  2. Savannah, GA
  3. Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
  4. Los Angeles, CA

Four TV Shows I Like to Watch:

  1. CSI
  2. Heroes
  3. Without a Trace
  4. The Office

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:

  1. Venice, Italy
  2. Paris, France
  3. London, England
  4. Negril, Jamaica

Four of my Favorite Foods:

  1. Sukiyaki with extra tofu from Zakuro
  2. Turkey burger from Fatburger
  3. Pad Ka Pao (Thai Ground Pork) from Sanamulang
  4. Asian Chicken Salad from California Chicken Cafe

Four Places I Would Rather be Right Now:

  1. On vacation
  2. Shopping with Cicely
  3. At home with Rob & Dottie
  4. The beach

Day at the Beach

It's been a long time since we went on an outing. So, Rob & I put Dottie in the car and went for a drive. We went up through the Santa Monica Mountains through Decker Canyon. I should have driven. I forgot that when it comes to Canyon driving Rob thinks he's an amazing driver. I beg to differ. How bad is it? Let's just say that by the time he's done I wished I had stayed home. We spent a couple hours at a beach just north of Malibu. It was beautiful and very relaxing. Dottie loved it. Here are some of my photos from that excursion.


The cons to living in L.A.

One, two, three... FOUR years... That's how long I've been a Los Angeles resident. There are moments that I cannot believe that much time has passed. There are other times where it feels like I've been here a lifetime. Most people that I know here in L.A. think that I'm a local, but I am not. A few are even surprised when I tell them I've lived most of my life in Virginia. I'm not sure if that is because I have adapted so well to L.A. life or I just fit in better here. I'm hoping it is that latter rather than the former. I'd like to think I've not been assimilated like the borg. There some definite negatives that I don't care for.

One is the superficiality that is rampant in the city. The superficiality supports the largest number of attractive people I have seen in my life. There are parts of town where one simply goes to admire the eye candy. L.A. is truly the place where you can find "the beautiful people". On the flip side, I can honestly say that I have never seen so many stupid people in one place. Highly attractive = stupid... Trust me on this one. I also have not experienced such snobbery over what I was or was not wearing. Only in L.A. will a broke, but fashionably dressed Target cashier snub a high-level employee of L.A. Unified School District with a Master's Degree from USC and a graphic designer at an up-and-coming Creative firm. (It was freaking barbecue! No one told me that you were supposed to scour Vogue for the latest fashion and have a full face of make-up!) In retaliation, I have developed my own sort of snobbery. If I feel someone is not is not up to snuff intellectually, I politely disregard you. I even have gone so far as to volunteer to work overtime to avoid going to a particular party or event. It's bad I know, but I don't want to risk lowering my I.Q. I can count on my one hand the number of people that I choose to associate with on a regular basis. Everyone else gets a guest appearance and a smile.

The other downside is the traffic. Don't worry! This is not a rant about the miserable L.A. traffic. I am merely stating the facts of the matter. As a L.A. local, you come to realize that you cannot fight traffic. It is a animal with habits all its own. You learn to work around it. For example, this is the only time in my life that I have happily accepted a 5AM-2PM work schedule. I am willing to wake up at pre-dawn simply to get on the freeway before the rest of the population. And it pays off. My commute from my house to my office is approximately 18 miles. I transverse the city from one corner to the other. I don't actually ever leave the city. Not bad, right? Not quite. My morning drive to work takes 20 minutes. (Thanks to the crack-of-dawn schedule.) My afternoon commute varies from 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. My afternoon travel time is influenced by several variables.... What time did I leave the office... Did I leave before 3pm. Is it a Friday? etc., etc. It's mind boggling. The upside is that I know my way around better than most. I have have most of the city and the surrounding freeways mapped out in my head. I also can read the flow of traffic and decide my routes. The other byproduct of the traffic is that I'm what I consider a better driver. Although I think in other parts of the country, I may be considered an aggressive driver. Oh well! You gotta do what you gotta do...

Despite some of these cons, I like living here. I am not crazy, I promise. For all its cons, there are pluses to living here. However, I will reserve extolling these virtues for a separate post.

Houston Recap - Part 2

Day 2 - Sunday April 15th
Most of Sunday was spent at the Houston Japanese Festival. We were in the Museum District. It was warm, but not too bad. In this case, I believe pictures are say far more about what we did and saw.

After the festival, we went to see the Houston Water Wall.

This is how it is described by Yahoo! Travel
Situated near the Galleria, this city landmark is a cool and refreshing oasis that attracts visitors and locals in droves. Designed by local architects in 1985, the amazing wall of water drops thousands of gallons 64 feet every minute. You can stop and linger and enjoy the moment, or marvel at the stunning creation from afar as you drive through the area. It is a soothing experience for businessmen and women in the area who need a quick break.

We also got a bite to eat at Niko Niko's Greek Cafe.
This is what I had to eat.
Village Salad Small with Gyro
The true Greek salad made with feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions & bell peppers. Served without lettuce.

This is what Cicely ordered
Baby Lamb Shank
Oven roasted with olive oil, oregano, garlic & lemon. Greek salad, pita bread & tzatziki sauce on the side

This is what Gary ordered
Gyros Sandwich
Mixture of chopped lamb & beef, spices in pita with tomato, onion & tzatziki sauce.

The food was really good at Niko Niko's. The long line was a testament to how good it was. Moments after we placed the orders the line extended out the door.

Day 3 - Monday April 16th
Cicely and I again did what we do best... Shop! We slept in and we hit the stores... It was not quite the same ambitious assault that we had on Saturday, but it was very productive. All of the bargain shopping one can imagine is "Just around the corner". We drove all of 1 mile to do everything. We had a lunch at a French Bistro and then we immediately went to "work". We went to two jewelry stores. I love trying on jewelry. We proceeded to paruse DSW who had nothing of interest. We hit the mother lode at Marshalls N' More. Who knew such a place existed?! Their shoe department was to die for. It took all of my reserve and a hint of responsibility not to run out of the store with pairs upon pairs of shoes. Instead I left with two pairs of shoes, a new shower curtain, and a new pair of sunglasses. For all that, I spent less than $100. Needless to say, I was in a good mood after that.

We then went to Macy's. I wanted Cicely's assistance in choosing my China, flatware & stemware. Rob and I had made 3 unsuccessful attempts at choosing the aforementioned items. It was so much fun and I finally decided on some things. I will post photos of them later. We were about to continue our bargain hunting blitzkrieg at Tuesday Morning... and then Gary called. He was hhhhhhhuuuuunnnnngggrryyyy. I had mentioned when I arrived that I wanted to try Texas Barbecue. I should have kept my mouth shut. I would have prefer to continue shopping. I love shopping with Cicely. Instead, we obliged Gary and his starvation and went back to the apartment. We wanted to take me to a place called Goode Company Barbecue.

Once we got there, I am glad we went. The food was really good. The barbecue was tender and juicy and it had good flavor. It was not over-smoked or over-seasoned. We had a good time... Here are the pictures to prove it....

I had to take this photo... I couldn't resist... Where else other than Texas will I find a sculpture like this? There are more photos, but they didn't turn out as well. The highlight of the tomfoolery was when Gary stomped off exclaiming "F---ing Tourists!" and went to get the car. Cicely and I laughed and continued on. Poor Gary, we had to get him back for some of the havoc he caused in Virginia...

Houston Recap - Part 1

Arrival in Houston - Friday Night April 13th
The flight from L.A. to Houston was uneventful. No turbulence. No annoying cabin mates. It was all fairly smooth. The only notable thing is that I could not sleep at all. This is a HUGE thing for me. Typically, I am asleep before the plane takes off. If it's a moving vehicle and I'm not operating it, I am asleep. I guess I was really excited to see Cicely and get out of town for a bit.

When my flight arrived in Houston, Cicely & Gary picked me up from the airport and we immediately searched for something to eat. The airline had served a salad & a sandwich (translation: lettuce with ranch dressing & rubbery microwaved chicken sandwich). I was so famished that I had doubts that I would make it to the car. Cicely suggested 59 Diner. 59 Diner is a 50s style diner complete with vinyl booths, thick milkshakes, burgers & everything else of that ilk. Being something of a Hamburger Connoisseur. I decided to try their burgers. They were phenomenal. I don't know what it is, but burgers in Texas are amazing. I don't know why they are so good, but I highly recommend them.

The most notable thing about our dining experience was not the food. The food was great. However, we will never be able to stop talking about our server, Russel. He was bar none the MOST ENTERTAINING WAITER any of us had ever met. We surmised that dear, dramatic Russel either is a drag queen on the side or aspires to be one. I've never seen a straight white guy gyrate and move like that. He danced like Beyonce AND Shakira?! (How is that possible?). He did so many impersonations and dance moves. It was unbelievable. He put seasoned Vegas performers to shame. His range and repetoire was unparalleled. I could barely breathe by the time he was done. And the only reason he stopped was that he needed to get ready to finish his shift. In the end, I think we tipped him more than what we actually spent on food. It was a great way to start my visit. To Russel, thanks for the warm welcome into Houston...

Day 1 - Saturday April 14th
Shop, shop, Shop til you drop. That was the mantra of the day. That was the plan and we faithfully stuck to it. We drove 4 hours from Houston simply to test our resolve. The outlets in San Marcos, Texas put us to the test. Only in Texas will you find two mega outlet conglomerates across the street from one another. I still have difficulty wrapping my brain around how it's profitable to have two Calvin Klein stores across the street from one another? Are there really that many deals and discounts to go around? Or two Banana Republic stores? Alas, that is not for me to answer. I was there to frolic in the shopping goodness. We started at 1pm and closed the place down. 8 hours of nonstop shopping. I tried on shoes, dresses, tops, bottoms, formal wear, sneakers, purses, etc. If it could be tried on, I took it for a trial run. Store after store we charged on. What were we looking for? Nothing in particular. Although, I believe Cicely was trying to find items for her new apartment. As far as we were concerned, we were on a mission.

Halfway through our excursion, Cicely & I determined that the outlets "wanted to keep they stuff" (said with a backwoods southern accent). In other words, the prices were still FAR too high for outlet stores. The positive side is that it allowed me to successfully leave after only having spent $78. I bought a pair of shoes, a leather purse, and two cookbooks for Rob (I couldn't go home emptyhanded.) Cicely bought two t-shirts at Banana Republic. Gary made out like a bandit. He finished the day with an refreshed spring/summer wardrobe, George Foreman outdoor grill, cookbooks and God only knows what else. The man really got into the spirit of things and put us both to shame. Who knew a man could shop like that?!

We grabbed some Whattaburgers before we went home. (Meat: it's a reccurring Texas menu). Cicely drove the gruelling 4 hours back to Houston. Gary slept. I snuggled up in the backseat to Cicely and Gary's newly purcahsed Pottery Barn Wicker floor lamp. Cicely and I cackled and gossiped all the way home. I loved it. It was a good day.

Sprinkling a little love around

Being a well-raised, polite woman, I was raised to NEVER, NEVER go to someone's home empty handed. If you are invited for dinner, you bring wine or flowers. If you're going over to watch a game or a movie, you bring snacks or some form of alcohol. Under no circumstance, do you arrive sans a hostess gift.

In preparation for my trip to Houston, I racked my brain trying to figure out what to bring. I wanted to bring something that was unique and thoughtful-- something that I knew Cicely would appreciate. Bamboo plants from Chinatown? Pastries from Porto's? Arghhh.... What to get? What to get?! Then it dawned on me... Sprinkles Cupcakes!

Sprinkles Cupcakes is one of the Most Popular Cupcake Bakeries in Los Angeles. I'm not saying it is the best...only the most popular. I have not taken the time to fully investigate whether or not they are the best. However, that is a task that I will add to my to-do list. All I know is that magazines, TV Shows, & celebrities (namely Oprah) have shouted the praises of Sprinkles Cupcakes. I had brought a mere 6 cupcakes for her last August and they were enjoyed (read :squirreled away) over the course of week. She liked them so much that only ate half a cupcake at a time to allow them to last longer.

Now that I had decided what to bring with me, I had to resolve a major issue. How would I pick up these cupcakes? I had to pick them up after work, but with enough time to get to the airport. I got off of work, in theory at 2:00. I had to be at the airport by 4:00. Sounds like enough time, right? Not quite. In this traffic-riddled city, I was cutting it close. The trek from Marina Del Rey to Beverly Hills is approximately 8.1 miles. According to Mapquest, it should take 20 minutes. Ha! Factor in that it's a Friday, that it's in the middle of the day, and that I'll be in Beverly Hills... The trip will now take 45 minutes! That would give me 30 minutes to park my car and stand in line at the infamous bakery. The lines for these culinary confections are legendary. Egads! What was I going to do? Then my phone rang.

It was Rob. Lo and behold! He was coming by my office to pick up my car. And what's this? He had the rest of the day off? Problem solved. My fiance has his finer points. This is definitely one of them. A task that I was dreading he balked at and simply said "No problem as long as I get to have some cupcakes". I gave him a printed list of cupcake flavors and other miscellanea to purchase. He obligingly left.

I found out later that he really is a trooper. My poor fiance get stuck in the infamous L.A. traffic despite knowing alternate routes. He then stood in line for 45 minutes. He patiently waited for 14 cupcakes, some cupcake mix, and a t-shirt. After which, he sped off to my office to pick me up and take me to the airport just in time for my flight. Problem solved... and it only cost me two dark chocolate cupcakes.
The actual cupcakes that survived the trek from Los Angeles to Houston

My personal favorite - Red Velvet


Texas, Here I come!

My best friend moved to Texas a month ago & invited me to visit. She enticed me with shopping, museum-hopping, and all kind of girly fun. Who was I to say "no"?

Besides, I'm overdue for a little R& R. I love traveling. I hadn't been to Texas since I was 8. I'm not sure what to expect. Thus far, she's not terribly fond of it. She says its hot and people talk too slow. This should be interesting....

Here's some tidbits about Houston:
  • Houston is the largest city in the state of Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States
  • Houston was founded on August 30, 1836 by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen on land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou.
  • The city was incorporated on June 5, 1837 and named after General Sam Houston, commander at the Battle of San Jacinto.
  • Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in the energy, aeronautics, and technology industries
  • Houston is very racially diverse. It is comprised of the following:
    * 42% Anglo
    * 33% Hispanic
    * 18% Black
    * 7% Asian/Other
  • Houston averages only 18.0 days per year with temperatures of 32oF or less and 99.6 days with high temperatures of 90oF or more. Temperatures rarely reach 100oF.
  • Distance from Los Angeles, California to Houston, Texas: 1380 miles (2221 km)
Info courtesy of VisitHoustonTexas.com


So much for the neighborhood!

As a resident of a large metropolitan city, I have come to accept the fact that with the joys and conveniences of the city there are downsides. One of course is traffic. The other downside is crime. You do your best to stay safe and out of harm's way. You use common sense and try not to be a victim of crime. Sometimes, it is unavoidable. My car was stolen last June. It was taken from the front of my neighbor's house. They were stunned to hear of the crime and were a bit incredulous. However, they and our surrounding neighbors said they would strive to be more alert and vigilant. I think they might need to define vigilant and alert...

This brings me to this evening's events. I took Dottie out for a night walk at around 8pm. Before I walked out the door, I left some of my keys behind, mostly keys that pertain to my office.... or so I thought. I hate all the jingling keys when I walk her around the neighborhood. I inadvertently left my house key with my office keys. It was not so brilliant.. I know, I know... I'm sure I could have gone to my landlord's house which is across the street and ask for the spare key. Frankly, I was embarrassed to do so and I didn't want to disturb them. This forced me to break into my own home.

As it turns out, this was a very difficult task (definitely a plus). I locked Dottie up in the yard. I proceeded to remove the screen and slide open an ajar window. At which point, I attempted to shimmy into the window. My days of rock climbing have long passed because I struggled to get into the damn window to no avail. My hands were desperately trying to hold on while my feet were slipping and sliding all over the side of the house. Who knew that vinyl siding would be so slippery?! Dear God! It was a quite a site. It was like an episode of the 3 Stooges.. only there was one Stooge playing the parts of 3. Dottie was attentively watching me from the yard. I think she thought I was playing some sort of weird game - a game that was wildly unsuccessful and very painful. I have a multitude of bruises to show for it. I was so ashamed of myself. I finally had to place a tall object which was nearby next to the window. It gave me the extra boost I needed to get inside. If that didn't work, I think I would have sat outside, cried and waited for Rob to get off of work. Luckily it worked and I proceeded to unlock the door and let Dottie into the house. The whole fiasco lasted about 20 minutes.

The part that appalls me is that I was trying to get into a window that was within plain view of a number of my neighbors. I'm shocked that 1. No tried to help me & 2. No one said anything or tried to stop me. Rob is trying to placate me by saying that they recognized me and decided to leave well enough alone or someone was laughing their head off and didn't want to end the comedy routine. Either way, I'm fortifying my house and praying that a video of my debacle doesn't show up on YouTube. What happened to being vigilant & alert?!!

No surprise here...

After reviewing my original wedding ideas, this comes as no surprise...

You Will Be a Modern Bride!

While you aren't ready to throw away all wedding tradions, you want a wedding with a twist
You're more inspired by celebrity weddings on E! than from bridal magazines
Whether this means getting married on the beach barefoot or a mariachi band for the reception...
Your wedding will be a blend of old and new - white dress cocktail, personalied vows, whatever suites you!!!

New Toy!

I got an ipod nano!

I am a technophile. So, I am giddy with excitement. I am an ipod addict. This is my 4th ipod. I've owned a 3rd generation 15GB, a 4th generation 20gb, and a 512 MB shuffle. I'm not a hoarder. I've either sold or given my previous models to friends and family.

I decided to get this one because I wanted something much smaller for working out and just carrying around with me. I like this better than the shuffle because I need a screen. I hated guessing what song is next on my shuffle. This is only a 2GB model. This works for me because I found that I rarely have any more than 2GB in heavy rotation. That's still roughly 24 hours of music! Now, I need to get some accessories... case, new headphones, etc, etc... The shopping never ends...


If we had stuck to our plans, Rob & I would be getting married today. I am relieved that we decided to re-think how, when and where we were going to get married. We weren't quite as ready as we thought and the wedding plans had gotten out of hand and were not so true to who we are as a couple.

I hate to admit, but I got swept up in a form of bridezilla behavior. What started out as something small and intimate quickly became a runaway freight train. I don't know exactly what happened... except to say it became a blur of wedding books, bridal magazines, wedding websites and e-mails between friends. I was addicted to all things wedding. The best part is it all got exponentially expensive and I was starting to have a nervous breakdown. The logistics of planning an out-of-town wedding is not for the faint of heart.

Here is our original venue
Norfolk Pagoda Garden & Teahouse

My dress was supposed to be a custom-made copy of a Carolina Herrera...(more about that later) & my shoes were by Stuart Weitzman
My bouquet was going to be in this color family with these type of flowers.Cicely's Maid-of-Honor Dress - It was a Vera Wang, which was going to be tied with a Tangerine Sash
Cathee's & Alexis' Bridesmaid Dress - Dress was going to be Tangerine with a Red SashBella's Junior Bridesmaid Dress - It was going to start out a light shade of orange, tangerine, & red
Rob & the Groomsmen were going to wear this suit.
The Reception Menu
Guests were going to have their choice of:
Lamb Tagine
Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes
Chicken Marsala
The Cake was going to look something like this only the flowers were going to be shades of Red & Orange. To be funny, we were going to top the cake with and "interracial" Bride & Groom Cake topper

The Party Favors - Rechuitti Chocolate - Force Noir FlavorThey were going to be placed in side these mini-bamboo steamer boxes.

So, I'm back to the drawing board with everything.... My custom-made dress did not turn out so nice... I swear they must have sized it for a completely different woman! The bridesmaid dresses were a disaster...The Jr. Bridesmaid dress look like a box of highlighters exploded. (That's what I get for ordering them on ebay all the way from China!)... Half of the groomsmen didn't even get fitted.... My officiant in Virginia was difficult to get a hold of.... The guest list was growing by the minute!... My dad was threatening to boycott the wedding unless we had a Catholic Ceremony.... We were completely low on cash because Rob was temporarily unemployed. It's a relief that we decided to postpone and try to figure out something much simpler and easier to plan.... More info about that as we solidify our plans....