Birthday at the Bowl - Recap

Sunday June 22nd - A recap

First, I must make a statement. I really am not an attention whore. I know this may seem contrary since I had two birthday celebrations this year. I have some explanations for this. One is that I haven't really celebrated my birthday in years. The last couple of years I haven't done anything exciting except have a nice dinner with Rob. Keep in mind Rob and I have lots of nice dinners. This birthday extravaganza makes up for lost celebrations.

The other reason for the second birthday celebration is that I wanted to include Rob. He was a bit miffed when I told him that I had planned an all-girl birthday party. He knew that all-girl meant he or anyone else's husband/fiance were not welcome. I also wanted to include my newfound friends' significant others and some of our other friends.

The Hollywood Bowl seemed like the perfect choice. Music, picnic, and friends - what more could you ask for? An added bonus, Thievery Corporation was performing.

Here's a description of the group from Wikipedia.
Thievery Corporation is a Washington, D.C.-based recording artist and DJ duo consisting of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton and their supporting artists. Their music style is dub, acid jazz, Indian classical and Brazilian (such as bossa nova) fused together with a lounge aesthetic.
The plan was great in theory. Rob was going to make a delicious spread of appetizers and cheeses. Everyone else was just going to contribute cash to pay for the food. Then, Rob had to go out of town. Our scrumptious picnic delight went out the door. I would have cooked, but no one would have eaten. I pride myself in knowing my strengths and weaknesses. Cooking is most definitely not one of my strengths.

To compensate, I decided to provide liquid refreshment. LOTS and LOTS of liquid refreshment.
I try not to do anything halfway. My friend Kevin and I went bonkers at the grocery store. In my wheeled cooler, I had placed 1 bottle of vodka, 3 bottles of rum, 5 bottles of San Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water, 1 bottle of Iced Tea, and 1 bottle of Pink Lemonade. The idea was that our companions could make Italian Sodas or the mixed drink of their choice. All this variety was not without its price. The cooler weighed a ton and poor Kevin got stuck with the duty of having to tow it up the hill to our seats.
Margarita Cookies - photo by Jordana Hazel

There was an abundance of food. Natalie made a delicious orzo salad. Jess brought all kinds of goodies including some very strong jello shots. Aside from the beverages, Kevin bought a sandwich platter from Dave's Chillin' and Grillin' from our 'hood. The highlights for me were Jordana's Margarita Cookies and the cupcakes Carmela generously picked up from Yummy Cupcakes.

The show was fantastic. I had my fair share to drink and danced my butt off. It was fun. Sadly, no too many others drank. So, Kevin, Jess, Eddie, and I ran people over with the my cooler on the way back to our shuttle bus. It was not a pretty sight.

Here are some photos from the festivites.
View from our seats - photo by Jordana Hazel

Yours truly - photo by Jordana Hazel

A quick snapshot of Jordana

John and Keren, who was also celebrating her birthday this past weekend
Natalie & Greg

Kevin hiding behind his beverage, Eddie, & Jess

George & Carmela - photo by Jordana Hazel

Chris, Jordana's huband - photo by Jordana Hazel

Last, but not least Joellaann - photo by Jordana Hazel

I had a blast. The only thing I could have wished for is for Rob to have been there. I'm a so excited because this show marks the beginning of Bowl Season. This is only the first of many shows that I wish to attend. Who wants to join me for more?

Birthday Blowout - A Recap

Birthday Portrait by Jordana

Typically, my birthday celebrations consist of a quiet dinner with Rob and one or two friends. This year I decided to turn my birthday into an two-part Extravaganza.

The first part was on Thursday, my actual birthday. I had invited a few of my closest girlfriends to meet me for dinner and drinks. I haven't had an all-girl birthday since I was 6.

We started the evening at Camilo's California Bistro, which is in my 'hood. Service was unbelievably slow, but the fantastic company more than made up for it. I ordered one of the specials - Grouper with prawns. It was delectable.

My yummy dinner

Here are my lovely dinner companions.
Joellaann & Natalie

Paola & Janice

Keren & Marisa

Jenny & Jeannette

Wendy, Ali, & Jordana

As if dinner and fantastic conversation weren't enough, these marvelous ladies presented me with a cake, a card, and a gift.

photo by Jordana Hazel

Although not aesthetically pleasing, the cake was delicious. Jordana baked the cake. The buttercream frosting was delish although not "built for the heat" and melted en route to dinner. The fact that the cake was imperfect and a hilarious story to go with, made it the perfect cake for me.

I loved the card. It was hilarious and fitting.

Here is my birthday gift. A Craft Robo - custom die-cutter!

These unbelievable ladies got together to purchase my gift. Sneaky Wendy had asked me a few weeks prior what I was planning to purchase next for my design business. I had no idea that she was stealthily gathering intel. I was so surprised that I started to tear a little. As an added bonus and inside joke, Jeannette gave me a plethora of accessories. Rob will be pleased.

After dinner and cake, we headed over to Colorado Wine Company.
Paola, Jordana, Ali, & Keren

Natalie, Janice, Wendy & Jeannette

We got there a little later than I had planned. Thankfully, Jen the owner took care of us. We gabbed and drank until nearly midnight. The only reason why we didn't stay out later is that poor Jen had to close up shop and go home. We had kept the place open a half hour past closing time.

This is one of the best birthdays I've had in years. The celebration was better than any that I could have imagined. Thanks again, ladies.

Embarrasing Five

I was tagged by Lizy.... over a week ago. I was unbelievably busy and just now got a chance to think about this. Lizy, I didn't forget about you. I just had to really think about this list. I think some of my explanations are more embarrassing than the songs themselves.

The rules of my most recent tag!
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 songs you are embarrassed to admit to others you like and tell why.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. Suddenly - Olivia Newton John from the Xanadu Motion Picture Soundtrack

Extra bonus points for anyone who has actually heard of this song. I saw this movie when I was 6. I loved it. I was obsessed with becoming a professional roller skater. Ah... The delusions of childhood. This was one of the first albums my parents ever bought me.

2. Freedom - George Michael
[click on song title to see Video]
I was in love with George Michael from his Wham! days. Then, he announced he was gay. It killed the crush, but not the love of his music. This song came out when I was 15. The video featured every 90s Supermodel. My best friend Mia and I used to "model" our clothes to this song. Corny, but true. To this day, when I hear this song I feel the urge to put on a "Anne Fashion Show". Ask Cicely or Rob what an "Anne Fashion Show" is.

3. Come and Talk to Me - Jodeci

I was in high school and socially awkward. I had a crush on boys and they thought of me as their cute very little sister. I didn't realize then that no boobies = no dates. This did not stop me from daydreaming about the prom. I had decided that my first REAL slow dance would be to this song. I eventually slow danced to this song and it was terrible. My date was stiff and his friend came leaning over and singing the song in our ears. Despite the painfully awkward circumstance, I still like this song.

4. One Minute Man - Missy Elliot Ft. Ludacris, Trina

Many years ago while I still lived in VA, I was involved with a guy who I shall call the Animator. Our involvement moved quickly and with great intensity. We IM'ed and called one another all day everyday. We played a very calculated cat and mouse game where neither of us would fully admit our attraction to the other. We were supposedly just friends. This went on for months. We decided to go on a roadtrip. The Animator and I spent several days together camping with little to no physical contact. Then finally, we broke the ice. I was grossly disappointed. Let's just say our fun was "short-lived".

To make matters worse, I was Scorpio'ed (a term I created just for him.) He went from calling me every day to not taking my calls. All in the span of a day. He went so far as changing his IM username and phone number. I was heartbroken. As consolation, Cicely took me for a girls' night out. This song came on. In my drunken stupor, I dedicated the song to the Animator. After that, it became a running joke between the two of us and our theme song for that summer. When I hear this song, I can't help but giggle.

5. These Words (I Love You, I Love You) - Natasha Bedingfield
[click on song title to see Video]
I had bought Rob an ipod shuffle as a gift. Because he was unfamiliar with itunes, he asked me to fill his ipod with some of his favorite songs. I thought, "Here's my chance!". I placed this song on his ipod multiple times. I thought he'd find it cute whenever the song would pop up on shuffle play. According to Rob, the song came up 10 times a day while I was gone. I find this a bit hard to believe since Rob has a tendency for gross exaggeration. Either way, the sound of Natasha Bedingfield's voice makes him cringe. I still find the bubblegum lyrics cute and sickly sweet. Plus, it's a reminder of the early days of our relationship.

I have no idea who to tag. If anyone wants to play, please leave me a comment to let me know you've played.

A wife deserted

A week ago my Rob abandoned me.

I kid. Actually, as a caterer he was presented with an amazing opportunity. He was offered a position as a sous chef for a movie that is filming in Chicago. He got offered the spot on Wednesday and had to fly out on Friday. I arrived from VA just in time to drop off at the airport. We were like ships passing in the night. It's tough work, but I'm proud of him for doing it. He loves it... most of the time. He makes me laugh because by the time the movie wraps up he is on a first name basis with A-list directors and actors. If only, he could translate those connections to $$$.

I miss him, but I do enjoy my alone time. I hate that some people act as though I will wither away and die because Rob is not home. While I miss him while he's gone, our time apart keeps our relationship fresh. He'll be back in a few weeks. I may not wither way, but starvation is a whole other issue. I am a terrible cook. Microwave dinners and sandwiches here I come!

Wheeee.... I'm 33!

I can't believe it. Today's my birthday and I'm 33. It's so cliche, but I can't believe how quickly the year flew by.

I spend a little time on every birthday assessing my life. I look at my goals. I pat myself on the back for what I've achieved and figure out what my next moves are. Most importantly, I count my blessings. I am happy.

My life is nowhere near perfect, but I am very grateful for all that I have. I have husband whom I love very much (even if he does get on my nerves from time to time). In the stress of wedding planning and wedding day chaos, I was reminded that my two oldest (as in length of friendship) friends really did have my back. I don't know what I would have done without Cicely & Neleh. My family reminded me in oh-so-many ways why I love them so very much. They drive me crazy, but it's the crazy part that keeps life interesting. I am also very grateful for rediscovering the value of female friendships. I have an amazing group of friends that are better than I could have wished for. I lost a job that I never really wanted and discovered I was much happier being my own boss. I really am a lucky gal.

I hope that the coming year will be as wonderful as the last. I have birthday festivities that I will blog about tomorrow... if I'm not too hungover;)

More invitation love...

Aside from Michael's and Frances' wedding invitation, I have been feverishly working on Daniella's and Josue's wedding invitation.

Daniella is another person that I have meet through the knot. She has always been very sweet and genuine. In order to include as much of their family and friends in their celebration, Daniella and Josue have opted to put themselves on a very strict budget to ensure they could afford to include everyone. Because of this, Daniella had considered DIYing her invitations. I got that sense that she and Josue had their hearts in the right place. Did I mention they met while working at a retirement home? I felt inspired to do something nice for them. I offered to design and assemble her invites for her.

photo by Square Eye Photography

When I first spoke to Daniella about her invitations, she had a few small requests. She wanted me to use her existing monogram, her color scheme of red & black, and a damask pattern.

Here is what I designed for her.

I hope that Daniella & Josue like them as much as I enjoyed making them.

A Return to Photography

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I was a photographer long before I was a graphic designer. I got my first SLR when I was 15. My first camera was a Canon Ftb that my father had purchased when I was born and kept in storage. I was a photographer for my high school and college newspapers. Pictures were my life. It feels as though I have every moment of my life captured on film or in pixels.

I had an a Nikon D70 and matching lenses that I was in love with. They were among my prized possessions. Rob brought it with him when he went to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca in July 2006. It was all stolen from his tent. I was crushed. I took it as a sign that I wasn't meant to be a photographer anymore. I haven't taken a photograph in 2 years.

Don't get me wrong. I do take snapshots. This blog is filled with them. However, I have not taken a well-thought, composed photograph. In the last couple of months, I have thought about how much I miss photography. I have absolutely no desire to photograph anything professionally. I just want to take photos for me. I still have a [gasp!] film camera and am seriously considering using it. To help inspire myself, I played with polyvore.com. Below is my dream setup.

A design challenge

This is Michael & Frances.Photo by Louis Palos

Frances is another person I have met through the knot, where she is known as PinkCheese. She contacted me a few weeks ago to design her invites. She had initially planned to DIY her invites and purchased all the materials to create them. However, after careful consideration she decided that it was more work than she had time for. At present, she is juggling a full-time job and graduate school.

This turned out to be a challenging project. Not because my client was difficult, but because I inadvertently put too much pressure on myself. Frances had provided me a blueprint of how she would like her invites assembled. This should have made the job a piece of cake, but in a twisted way ended up being more difficult. I ran into a bit of designer's block. I was afraid that I would not be able to produce a design that would work with Frances' blueprint or live up to what she had envisioned.

Frances' Blueprint - Part 1

Frances' Blueprint - Part 2

After a few sleepless nights, I was able to come up with a design that she liked. Here are photos of the finished product.
Front of the Invitation

Gocco'ed Envelope & Invitation Interior

Custom Map

Gocco'ed RSVP Envelope and RSVP Card

I'm a dork related to dorks

Recap - June 11, 2008
Warning: This post contains absolutely silly and ridiculous behavior. This is not for those lacking a sense of humor. No model home furniture was damaged in the taking of these photographs. View at your own risk.

After my grandma's birthday lunch, my cousins Janine & Jo, my brother Nate, and I decide to go out and run some simple errands. On the way to Michael's, we decided to check out my sister Cathee's house that is under construction. It started out innocent enough. Then we got silly and each person felt the need to be progressively more ridiculous than the last. Here are the photos from the silliness that ensued.


101 Years

I am the proud daughter of a working mom and the very fortunate granddaughter of a stay-at-home grandma. My grandma is my second mom. She took care of my siblings and me while our mom and dad were at work. She has always been my number one supporter. I attribute my sense of adventure and wanderlust from her. More importantly, she taught me how to be an independent woman with thoughts and ideals of my own. When I was a little girl, I told her that I wished that she could live to be 100 so that she would be around for a looooong time. Today, my wish was granted plus 1. Today, my grandma turned 101.

Doesn't she look great for 101? At 101, she still has her wits about her. She remember every last family member's birthday and can crack jokes with the best of them. Her only complaint would probably be that she doesn't hear or see as well as she used to and that she tires easily. I told her that her impairments give her an automatic b.s. filter and that if it were REALLY important she'd hear it or see it. I also told her that her body was finally slowing her down. Up until 2 years ago, my Grandma was still jet setting.

The Cake and Candle Carnage

Today's celebration was simple and small with just immediate family at my parent's house in Virginia. (I've been hanging out with my family since Saturday.) My cousins Jo and Janine flew from O.C. with Janine's daughter Bella and Janine's boyfriend Joe in tow. We had Filipino food and cake per Grandma's request. The birthday girl had a good time and was able to blow out all her candles in one pass. I hope she gets her wish. I am very happy to have gotten mine.

The Birthday Lunch Spread

Blowing out the candles

Me & the Birthday Girl

The envelope please....

So now that these little envelopes have arrived at their destinations, I will blog their content.I designed my birthday invites. It's not a swanky affair, but I think I would be remiss if I didn't make and mail invites.

Here they are:
The front

Removing the ribbon band...

The Big Reveal

First panel

The full invite

I had purchased the art previously for my Wedding Save-the-Dates and didn't end up using it. I was hoping for an opportunity to use it and here it is. The colors were chosen as a personal design challenge. I have not worked with purple and plum yet. I am always asked to work with bright tropical colors or traditional, classic colors. I really wanted to move outside of my box. I also designed and assembled the enclosure the invite is attached to. I had fun putting these together and I think my recipients enjoyed receiving them.