Change of web address

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My Grand Illusions

This one should work!


I'm moving....again

I'm starting fresh with a new name, new location and new look. Come over and join me...

My Grand Illusions

From this day on I'll be posting over at my new blog. See ya over there!


It would appear that I did not strike it rich.

CHAMPAGNE! We should have bought stock in champagne before we left.

So I gambled and lost it all. I didn't have a specific limit in mind that I wanted to stay below but the $22 that I ended up spending on gambling was just enough for me to have some fun without having to get a second mortgage or sell off a body part to pay back my debt.

The last night of our stay. We were a tad exhausted.

As for alcohol consumption, well, it's safe to say that I've never consumed so much alcohol in a 4 day time period. Champagne was the drink of choice with many tequila shots thrown in the mix. One of my favorite things is that almost every single bathroom had a place to set your drink down. I was highly impressed with cup holders and ledges in the bathrooms. It doesn't take much.
Turns out I like Bud Light.

There's much more to talk about and many more photos that'll come tomorrow. As for now I'm going to drink my super-large coffee and try to stay awake all while mourning the fact that I can't walk around anywhere I want while drinking from a large bottle of champagne.


Away I go...

I'm leaving for Vegas today and I'm exceptionally excited. The last time I went I don't think I took full advantage of all that Vegas has to offer. I remember going to bed before 1 AM which I'm told is an absolute lame thing to do.

In an effort to get there earlier and spend more time with my friends I'm going to attempt to fly stand-by on the earlier flight. There's are supposedly 20 available seats so I should be golden. If not then I suppose I'll start pounding back drinks while at the airport.

Happy weekend everyone and if I don't ever post another blog it's because I won lots of money and I moved to Tahiti and got myself a hot cabana boy who feeds me grapes and massages my back on demand.


It's been one of those days...

One of those days that when a client brings you a beer while you're at work you TAKE IT AND ARE GRATEFUL.


Anatomy of a bookcase

When I read a magazine and there's a photo of someones bookcase I always try and see what books they have. I squint my eyes and really get the page close so I can make out the titles. I'm intrigued by other people's book collections and what little trinkets they keep on their bookcase, if any. A dream of mine is to have a library in my home. Seeing as how I have acquired such a collection of books I'd say I'm well on my way.

This weekend I organized my bookcase. I moved books around and arranged my little keepsakes in the place I thought they belonged and I wanted to share my bookcase, in photos, with you. I hope you will do a photo blog like this, too. I'd love to see what your collection is, large or small.

Here's my bookcase. It's solid oak that I got for a bargain at Costco of all places. The shelves are move able and it's simple enough that I think it goes with most decorating styles which is a good thing since I'm constantly re-doing my house.

On top of my bookcase is part of my Blenko glass collection. I have several other pieces but this bookcase is so tall that I can't fit the larger pieces. The silhouette "photo" is of my two boys and the likeness is so accurate. I have no idea how the woman did it what with Jackson being 1-year-old and not sitting still. The small sunflower inverted glass carving is a piece from Europe that my parents brought me. Those encyclopedias are from the 60's and they are engraved with my mother's maiden name. Her dad, my grandpa, used to sell encyclopedia's door-to-door.

More encyclopedia's! In front of them are Happy Birthday Candle Holders that were featured on Style Lushs blog. (I realize they are backward, it's my attempt to be clever.) I couldn't resist. The donkey, on the shelf below, is my own interpretation of my late great-grandma's collection of donkeys. She collected donkeys as long as I can remember and they aren't easy to find, trust me! When I saw this one in Houston a few months ago I knew I had to have it. It's a heavy cast iron donkey piggy bank. Love! When I was a kid I had a Crayola Crayon record player (that I still have!) and a set of Little Golden Book books that came with records. Somehow I managed to keep my records and books together, with the exception of one, and I proudly display these in my bookcase.

That green bowl thingy? Something few people would fall in love with. My grandma B picked it up at a garage sale in her hometown in Missouri. It's so strange and fun that I toted it back in my suitcase last summer. It hides bubbles so Jackson won't ask every 4 seconds to play bubbles.

A few of my childhood books reside here. The Children's World Atlas is torn to pieces and it has my crayon pictures all over the pages. The Secret Garden is the first "real" book I read as a young adult. There's also a skiiiiiny book about Cinderella that I used to love as a little girl. If there was a fire in my house one of the first things I'd grab are those little foam bunnies. My grandpa, who passed away June 08, used to do magic tricks when I was younger. Those bunnies represent him. See that book that's turned backward? The one on the top?

It's the book The Guide to Getting It On. You guys are super smart and I'm sure you can figure out what it's about. Honestly I haven't ever opened this book because I'm exceptionally single, but someday...

My books aren't just confined to a bookcase, they've spilled over into my entry way and many other places. My one and only Halloween decoration on this table is the cute little ghost pail. The bowl is from a neat little place in Cumberland, Maryland. It was handmade and signed by the artist. It holds rocks and shells from past adventures. The photo in the plastic sleeve is by a local artist in Carmel, California. It makes me happy to see that photo and remember my short, but exceptional trip, there.

Your turn!


The signs are there, finally

Signs I've grown up:
  • At my local mall there are two stores across from each other, the Gap and Wet Seal. I used to roll my eyes at the obvious old people going into the Gap to buy their button up shirts, boring solid t-shirts, and sweaters while I was buying cool stuff such as things with glitter, sparkle, and shine with a touch of shimmer. These days I purposely walk past Wet Seal and into the Gap and I buy sweaters. And solid t-shirts. I'm slowly inching toward button up shirts now, too. I may have even purchased a pair of slacks while I was at it. Maybe.
  • I bought some books recently that I would never have bought ever, ever, ever. Unless required by some college class. You may recall that I'm part of a new blog, Style Lush, and I wanted to really put my best foot forward and since blogging is mostly about words I decided to start with these two books. I am actually reading them and I'm sort of proud of myself. Trying to remember grammar rules from high school and college is obviously not working for me. Hopefully these will.
  • I'm going on vacations. This may not sound like a very grown up thing to do but, trust me, it is. You see, in order to go on vacation, one must save money and not spend it on frivolous things like cute shoes or shiny earrings. I devised a plan to help me save money and so far it's working like a charm. When I get paid I put $5 - $10 each time into an envelope and that's my vacation money. I also have a savings account that earns interest but that's for real expenses like stupid house repairs and car maintenance. That small amount of money is so tiny that I don't even miss it and yet over time I have a small chunk of change to spend. Case in point : Next week I'm going to Vegas (YIPEE!) and now I've got a few bucks to spend on crappy souvenirs or whatever my heart desires and I won't even feel guilty about it.
  • Buying things in bulk. Oh lord. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd stare at my pantry items and think "Jeez, wouldn't it be economical and super duper smart of me to purchase my staple grocery items in bulk?". People, I BUY MY STAPLE GROCERY ITEMS IN BULK.
  • I get stressed when I can't balance my checkbook.
  • I decline shopping trips because I know my mortgage payment is coming up again. Every month this happens and won't cease for another 11 years, sadly.

Another sign I'm growing up? I'm moving my blog to another place with a new name and a new look and I'm sort of excited about it. Keep an eye out...I'll let you know!


A tutu

Dear Jackson,
Please know that I posted this picture because 1) how cute are you? and 2) it's freaking hilarious. When you are a senior and it's time for me to submit a childhood photo of you for your yearbook I'm using this one. It's the obvious choice, don't you think?


Come visit, won't you?

When I got the e-mail from Jennie about being a part of her new blog I was more than giddy. Thoughts of Sally Field yelling "You like me! You really like me!" flew through my head. It's all up from here, I've arrived in the cool crowd!

Please, add us to your feed reader, come often, comment and most of all have fun with it. We are all really excited to be a part of this new venture and can't wait to see what happens as we grow and grow.

Style Lush


The younger years

When I think back to my formative years, mostly middle and high school, I am reminded of three boys. Those three boys didn't realize it at the time and probably don't realize it now but they formed part of me, the part that regards all men today. Those three boys taunted me, tormented me and generally made me feel like I wasn't deserving of positive attention. Kids can be brutal, as they say.

Josh* and his best friend Jeremy* used to make fun of me and my best friend all the time. We ran into them once at the mall, where all the kids hung out, and practically followed us around to taunt us. Getting on the elevator at the mall was the clearest memory. They made it a point to get on the elevator with us just to be horrible and awful to us. Our hair was stupid, our clothes weren't cool or expensive enough, we were just lame. It sucked because these two boys were in the "cool" crowd and we were below them. They made that last point very clear.

I never made it into the cool crowd, not even close. On the flip side, I don't think I ever went down to the "loser" crowd either but my foot was hovering over the loser line, for sure. I had a few friends that were cheerleaders, some of the geeky kids I called friends and for years I hung out with the guy everyone thought was the James Dean of the school (last I heard he was in prison). I never did fit in with any particular group, drifting around aimlessly. I was in choir which I really enjoyed but that, of course, made me lame to most. I never knew what I could do to make it up the ladder to be cool.

Josh died a few years ago, unexpectedly, and I was just heartbroken for his family. I see his dad on a regular basis because of my job and I always asked how he was doing. His dad and I talked about how mean his son was to me once and I felt a bit better when he told me this Josh was like that to everyone. It wasn't just me that he directed his awfulness at. I never told his dad that Josh was half of the reason I tell my oldest son, on a regular basis, to be nice to everyone all the time, no matter if they are in the cool crowd, the lame crowd or in between.

I actually have seen Jeremy around the area a few times. He's hard to miss, really. He's been in a wheelchair for most of his life. I realize that he probably was a very angry kid and took his aggressions and anger out on others but I don't give him a pass for the awfulness. Many people are dealt an awful set of cards and if they make the choice to be awful than they must accept the fact that people aren't as likely to give them the benefit of the doubt, not that I didn't try. I stopped trying when Jeremy would mow me over in the school hallways with his wheelchair and laugh. Of course I couldn't do anything because he would use the handicapped card. It was widely suspected that he could in fact walk but choose not to. I now doubt the validity of this because I've seen him in his chair.

I saw Jeremy just a few weeks ago. I know he's got a family and he's married. I hear he's still in the neighborhood we all grew up in and I also hear he's doing well. In a way I'm glad because I know he was angry, I would have been too. His carefree preteen and teen years were stolen from him. If I ever get a chance, or the nerve, I intend on telling him how he affected my growing up. He's the other half of the reason that I tell my oldest son to be kind to everyone, no matter what.

*Matt, the third of the boys, just friend requested me on Facebook**. He's got a family now, that looks to include daughters. I'd like a chance to tell him how to prevent his girls from having a negative self body image. Matt was highly interested in the fact that I had boobs at such a young age. It was 5Th or 6Th grade when he would run past me and pop my bra in the back. Once he also grabbed my breast and laughed hysterically as he ran away.

My mother used to point out that I would only wear exceptionally baggy clothes with barely any skin showing, never showing cleavage. I don't think I realized that the reason I dressed like that was a direct result of how Matt was to me. I was a kid with boobs and a bra and my friends were still 6 months to a year behind me and that's a lifetime in kid years. He made me feel ashamed and embarrassed and I just wanted to blend into the background and never be seen. There's a picture of my in high school that sums up my wardrobe back then. I had jeans on, a t-shirt and a man's long sleeve flannel shirt buttoned almost to the top. I remember this shirt so clearly because it was a mans size 2XL and I was maybe a size 8 back then. You can imagine how much excess fabric and shame I was carrying with me.

I get anxiety when I think about Jeremy, Josh and especially Matt. I see them in all the kids that make fun of Derick. I see them in the cocky kids at the mall. I see them walking home from school taunting others. I have had a hard time really getting past their mark they left on me. It's not easy even though it was so many many years ago.

I survived you, I'd say to them. Despite you I made it and I think I've done a good job. Because of you I'm teaching my children better. I'm teaching my boys to respect women and honor women and be respectful of women. I'm breaking the cycle with my boys.

Also, I'm letting you go, you three boys. You won't hover over my anymore with your issues. I won't let you cloud my view of people anymore. I'm moving on and leaving you behind, where you belong. I only hope that your children are taught better.


*Not their real names. For you readers who know me and know these people please keep their names and details private, please.

**I denied his friend request.


The Blathering, Part 3 and the conclusion

I hate when people who just got back from vacation talk about it all the time and force you to look at pictures. God, that's so annoying. I promise, this will be the last vacation post until Vegas (in TWO WEEKS). I've said before that I have the memory of a raisin or a tiny pebble or whatever other object that has no memory so I feel the need to document everything here so my feeble mind can look back someday and actually remember details like cities we went, food we ate and the people we met. The important stuff.

The last 3 days of this vacation were filled with even more awesome and excitement. Waking up in Carmel was a dream. It's just such a beautiful place, a place I absolutely cannot wait to go back to. I was a bit nervous, I can't lie because the only experience I'd had to associate Carmel to was this news program I saw about this crazy ass man who murdered his neighbors over a piece of land that was smaller than 4 feet. Thankfully as soon as I saw the Dr. Seuss shaped trees, felt the cold sand on my feet, saw the blue waters and heard the water crashing I was sold. Sign me up to move there and I'd die happy. Do you not just want to run, slo-mo, into that water?
We ate breakfast at a local, recommended place that pretty much was nothing to write home about and then walked around the main drag where Jennie and I found a clothing store that every woman should have access to. It was called Inago and I'll be damned if they don't have an Internet site. The dresses were the most beautiful, frothy things. I found a dress I fell in love with but it was $500. Don't get me wrong, I am the kind of person who would spend that much on a dress if I really and truly loved it but it was the wrong shape for my body and I knew it just by looking at it. But! Silver lining! I found the most heart-stopping necklace that makes me smile and beam. It was not $500, my bank thanks me, but it wasn't cheap. It's definitely a piece I'm proud to own and I have to stop myself from wearing it everyday. It's made from some type of golden brown oval faceted stones and has a fabric oval "patch" that's covered in rhinestones. I DIE. (Excuse my crazy hair, it's my ocean wind blown look apparently.)

After leaving Carmel we wound our way through a mountains to eat lunch on the water in San Francisco. Our parking meter time allowed only a short stop and we ended up at la mar, a beautiful Peruvian restaurant were I ordered the most fantastic mushroom risotto. I literally stopped this blog post to look up the place and I just sent them an e-mail asking for this recipe. Cross your appendages for me that I can get the recipe.
After lunch it was time to meet up with THE LADIES! I won't talk about how traffic sucked balls on the way to Elizabeth's house, but it did. Suck, that is. It was totally worth it, though. Have you seen the photos Elizabeth posts of her home? It's really that freaking adorable in person. All of us ladies talked about how we were going to hire Elizabeth to come decorate for us. The offer stands, by the way. The food was beautiful and the table setting was straight out of a Real Simple magazine.

Friday night we ate the most delicious dinner and I was so pleased that an effort was made to accommodate my veganism, it really made my heart melt. We drank lots of wine, broke furniture (not it!), laughed and just generally had an excellent evening. I wasn't nervous really to meet these ladies. I had met Elizabeth before and I knew she was lovely and I had Jennie there to hold my hand if I needed it. I was truly excited to meet these women from all over the country and share stories with them and hang out like old friends.
Saturday we all took in some downtown shopping or manis and pedis. I choose the shopping route and got a cute little dress at the Sugar Shack and a necklace at Cuffs Urban Apparel. Loading up on cheap-y jewelry at Forever 21 made the list also. All that shopping made for a hungry group of girls so we headed to Cafe Bernardo where I got a delicious peanut sauced pasta dish. (I just love peanut sauced pasta dishes.) As we walked in to the restaurant people stared at us ladies and our loud, giggling selves. They thought we were having a bachellorette party or college reunion. One lady I told how we actually met may have literally rolled her eyes and then kept on walking.
The late afternoon was another gab fest about all sorts of random life things that come up. It was a leisurely afternoon that I carved an hour out of for a nap. I like naps people, it's my thing. Boy did I need that nap too because I had no idea where Saturday night would take us. We had dinner plans at Zocalo where I got the fanciest tostadas I've ever seen and drank the yummiest blackberry margarita followed by drinks at Lounge on 20. The drink I got there was TO DIE FOR. The Bella Fragola was more like a summery beachy drink made from strawberry, basil and Gvori vodka. I drank two in less than 30 minutes and that is just not like me. The Lounge on 20 also had this refreshing cucumber water that I am intrigued to make myself. It can't be that hard, right?
Faces was the last stop of the night and it couldn't have been a better choice. Basically this place is a gay bar with multiple rooms, the country music room, hip-hop room and dance music room. There was a "lady" there who came into the dance music room while we were shaking our booties that put us all to shame. 6" tall with 4 inch heels, a dress cut up to there, the blondest wig and the perkiest "boobs" I'd seen in a long time. We may have scared "her" off with the crowding around and staring.
This is the part where I profess my ignorance. There was a bathroom that I found that had the male/female sign on the door and I was all "Oh! Aren't they progressive and pioneers, they don't care how uses the bathroom! Sacramento is so cool!" and not until many hours later did I realize that that bathroom was for the "lady" with the perky "boobs". I may have wanted to melt into the floor when I realized that. Moving on...
We ladies danced our asses off and by the end of the night we all looked like we'd taken 6 straight jazzercise classes. I knew approximately 1 song that was played and felt like a total loser but it was just so fun to dance and act like a kid again. Also, it didn't hurt that a lesbian totally hit on me. Uh huh. I suppose that's my next option is the male population keeps failing me. I digress.
I fell asleep content and happy that night and thanking my lucky stars that such an excellent group of women had come into my life even if only for a few days. I count this vacation as one of the best I've ever had. Thank you ladies for making me feel welcome and being kind and generous and awesome. Thank you, Jennie, for letting me come with you on your adventure and making it our adventure. I am so fortunate and grateful and I can't wait till we do it again next year ladies!
The vacation ended with losing my car in the airport parking lot and wandering around for an hour with my arm raised in the air pushing the panic button on the clicker so we could locate the car, a long ass drive home and with Jennie reading me tweets to entertain me. I was grateful for the time I'd had away and grateful to come home to see my little man sleeping soundly. The awesomeness of coming home is excellent.
You can see all my Flickr photos here and our group photos here.


The Blathering, Part 2

Thursday morning Jennie and I repacked our luggage, got our rental car and headed for the next leg of our trip, up Highway 1 toward Carmel. The moment I saw the ocean my heart did a loop-de-loop and I was so excited. For a girl who doesn't see the ocean in person very often it was just a beautiful sight to see, I was literally in awe. Also, over 32 years ago my mom and biological father drove the same highway when they lived in California. It was surreal to think of them seeing the same things I was seeing that many years ago.
On our drive we used my iPhone for directions as I always do when I need directions. But this was the first time that the map showed the ocean. We were that little blue dot moving across the screen RIGHT NEXT TO THE OCEAN. Watching the waves crash into the shore and seeing people surf was just too much for my excitement level. I even said hello and goodbye to the ocean as we were driving. Nerd!

Our first stop, not far from LA was in Santa Monica at a local cafe called Marmalade Cafe. We drank mimosas and made a toast for a fabulous trip thus far. I ordered the yummiest pancakes, banana/walnut goodness. They were up there with some of the best pancakes I've ever had and I hated that I just couldn't finish them all.

After brunch we walked right next door to a locally owned bookstore. I love a good bookstore more than many other things and this store did not disappoint. I made sure to grab a few books for Jackson. I realize I could have just waited till I got home and ordered them but I love the story of where I got them. Plus who doesn't love adding poundage to an already stuffed suitcase? Harry & Horsie is definitely a favorite of his now. We read it every night (this is a good and a bad thing, especially when you have memorized every word).

Believe it or not our next stop was at another book store. There was a sign on the road that said something about Santa Barbara being the most beautiful town on earth so it was just a given that we would have to stop and see this for ourselves. Our schedule was the opposite of a schedule so we had time to stop and do whatever we wanted. The Book Den was this musty smelling shop filled to the brim with a ton of used books. I covet having a library like that someday, with a ladder, too. The lady who was working there was a lovely woman full of stories and advice and made us feel very welcome. I bought another book for Jackson because I just couldn't resist, Shel Silverstein's A Light In The Attic. I distinctly remember laughing with Derick about some of the off-the-wall poems when he was a little kid.

We walked around Santa Barbara and picked up a quick snack in a small bakery. In the very back of the bakery was Arcobaleno Trade, a tiny little shop that sold fair trade items made all over the world. I gravitate toward items with a story to tell and couldn't resist picking up a necklace and a ring made from the Tagua nut. Both of which I've gotten compliments on! Santa Barbara was a lovely little town, from what I saw, but I'd say the most beautiful town was coming up.

Back in the car again we headed up the coast and I never dreamed I would see so many fields of avocados and grapes. Field after field after field of monoculture farming was in full force. Apparently the company Dole is king out there, from what I could tell, and they proudly touted this by having very large wood cutouts of people "working" in the field with their trusty dog by their side. I had gotten used to these cutout people until I saw a random cutout of a ladies head on the side of a very large hill surrounded by cutout flowers. I laughed till I cried because it was just. so. random. and. creepy. It was definitely a moment I'd hoped my camera would have been ready to snap a photo of.

One of the curious things about our drive was the weather. We were all over the map and I'm surprised Jennie and I didn't end up with some cold as punishment for the temperature change. A change of around 40 degrees was so drastic that I wasn't sure if I should wear my sweater or change into a tank top. The following day we started the day at 45 degrees and went all the way up to 103. California, you are a strange creature!

We finally arrived at out little B&B, The Green Lantern Inn, well after dark and got an awesome upgrade from a tiny room to a spacious room where we had our own beds, comfy beds! I highly recommend you stay at this B&B if you get a chance. We chucked our luggage (just like in LA) and headed out for dinner. Turns out Carmel is not a party place and they roll up the streets early. We managed to find a place to get dinner not far from our B&B. Merlo Bistro was the first place that looked like a great choice. We ended up sharing two half bottles of wine because originally I thought I would only be able to drink half of a half bottle because I just am not a wine person but it turns out that the wine was delicious and I would have bathed in it if I could have. We ordered another half bottle of wine and I asked the waiter if it would have been cheaper to order one regular size bottle and he rolled his eyes at me as if to say DUH! you stupid tourist. Whatevs, dude, just bring another half bottle!

After dinner I consumed the tastiest Long Island Iced Tea ever at a tiny little bar called Sade's where I became a tiny bit inebriated. I tell you this because it explains my next story about a mostly naked man. I'd like to point out that Jennie saw him first. He was wearing an itty bitty thong and walked outside for whatever reason (weather check? seeing if his wet pants were dry?) for mere seconds and then went back inside where we could still see him in his large front window. I really wanted to sneak across the street to his large window and snap a picture of him. FOR THE BLOG, people, not for my own sake. Such a giver I am, I know. Jennie wouldn't let me, which is probably for the best although I am still curious as to why he didn't realize his large window was see through. So people, if you go to Carmel, walk down the block were Sade's bar is and look for the mostly naked man standing in his house in front of his large window and tell him I said hi.

The naked man incident turned into walking into a reception of sorts. We weren't done drinking Carmel, and you need more bars for tourists! It was totally disconcerting to realize 1) that you've crashed a reception very loudly and 2) that you walked inside a building that was open to the outside because it had no roof. Inebriated. It's my only excuse.

Obviously we weren't going to find another place to get a drink at so it was time to get some sleep in preparation of the next day. But not until Jennie and I talked and cried a bit after swapping stories about our babies. It had been a long day of driving and exploring. The next morning I fell in love with California a little more.


The Blathering, Part 1 (Los Angeles)

When I heard about the Blathering get together I knew I wanted to go and I thought it would be a great way to take a mini vacation for the weekend. Jennie asked if I'd like to take a longer vacation and explore California and I just couldn't say no to that. I would have been crazy to pass it up and I'm so glad I didn't.

We left my house at 5 AM after I'd had no sleep that night and drove the three hour drive to Austin where we flew from to get to LA. (It was cheaper to fly from Austin.) We must have driven for two hours before the sun even came up and I was uncustomarily chipper and excited despite the lack of sleep. Our adventure was just beginning and I was giddy at the prospect of the fun to be had. Our flight was actually not until 7 PM but we were hopeful that we'd make it on to the earlier 11 AM flight which, thankfully, we were able to do.
We arrived at LA and got a hot car that fit right into the LA scene. A Ford Focus. We were the envy of all those people. You could tell that the BMW owner's were all Whoa, those ladies are ON FIRE with their hotness and we were all Uh huh, you know we are.
Jennie picked a lovely hotel one block from Rodeo Drive called The Crescent Hotel. It was gorgeous and perfect for our short, less than 24 hour stay. We chucked our baggage into the room and headed out to explore this land of large boobs and excessive amounts of shops. We stopped for lunch at a place called The Farm and started our trip the way all trips should start. With Champagne. (This was a recurring trend on this vacation and I was all to happy to partake.)
After lunch the only logical place to stop next was Crumbs Bake Shop where we ordered two of the most beautiful cupcakes known to man. Unfortunately the peanut butter cup cupcake on the left was thrown in trash in favor of keeping our waistlines in check after we toted it around for days. I mourned it's passing for an appropriate amount of time.

Jennie and I walked around Rodeo Drive and I admired the pretty store fronts and I mentally shopped in all the expensive jewelry stores. Rodeo Drive was fancy, don't get me wrong, but I was surprised it wasn't more fancy. I suppose all the fancy camera work that I've seen over the years on TV had skewed my view a bit. It was a lovely place to be and I really enjoyed the architecture and how it varied from building to building, unlike most of Texas. I saw buildings that looked like they stepped right out of old world Switzerland that neighbored buildings that were ultra modern and stark white. I loved it.

We attempted to make our way via taxi to the Hollywood Walk of Fame but our cab driver failed to tell us it was a billion minutes away in the traffic so we hopped out mid way before we were forced to give him our worldly belongings to cover the fare. We stopped for drinks on our way back and then I forced Jennie to walk in Beverly Hills in the dark on a bike path that neighbored the main drag. I think she hated me for it because she thought we were going to get mugged and stolen but I had my karate chop arms at the ready. Obviously we made it just fine. But we were so exhausted from the getting up early and traveling that we totally took naps before dinner. How lame! We were in LA, napping! But it was so lovely, I would do it over again.

Back story...Jennie is in publishing and one of the authors she knows lives in LA and he graciously agreed to hang out with us and grab some dinner. His name is Keith Stern and he wrote a book titled "Queers in History" which is a totally fascinating encyclopedia of people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. I read the book on the plane ride and I was so interested in this book. I was a total goof and asked him to sign my copy.

Keith drove us around pointing out people's homes and telling us interesting stories. We saw the home Michael Jackson died in and people, I was surprised to see that there was some sort of party going on. We also saw Tom Cruise's house and they must have had 15 garbage bins outside. He took us to dinner at a place called Ketchup where the whole place was lit in red lights and I got the largest portion of hummus I've ever seen in my life. It could have fed 6 people and then some. It was a lovely night filled with conversation, sight seeing and good food. Except this food. This was quite possibly the largest hamburger I've ever seen in the history of hamburgers. Also, see the red light the entire place was bathed in? It was disconcerting at first.

After dinner everyone obliged my desire to take in a trip to Millions of Milkshakes which I can now honestly say was a total tourist thing that I fell for and the milkshakes were excessively sweet and not worth the almost $5 I paid for mine. Live and learn!

Jennie got blisters on her feet and my feet were filthy and we went back to hotel exhausted and we both crashed within minutes. Our first day on vacation was a total hit. We had the LA experience in a small dose and it was the perfect amount of time. Little did I know that the best was yet to come...


The Blathering...

As I was driving home last night I was mentally preparing this blog and I must have thought of a thousand ways to say that it was one of the best vacations I'd ever had. I mentally used words like Amazing, Spectacular, Exciting, Superdooperawesome and a ton of other words to accurately describe my time in California. In the end I settled on Incredible. I had such an incredible time from the moment we hit the road at 6 AM on Wednesday to the moment I walked through my front door last night after 10 PM.

I don't even know where to start to properly capture all of the awesomeness but I'm going to do my best, in a series of posts coming soon. For now I'm sorting through pictures (mostly of the food and drinks we consumed, it's an obsession apparently) and relishing in the new friends I made and counting down until next year. We are doing this EVERY YEAR, Right?
All you ladies are awesome, beautiful and just so damn cool. I am proud to say I danced at the gay bar with all of you and laughed with all of you and shared a few days with all of you. These memories are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was just an amazing trip that I am so proud to have been a part of.


13 things you need to know

For my Blathering ladies....there are a few things you must know about me. Things that hopefully will make you still like me.

  1. First and foremost I am a vegan. I eat no animals or animal products (eggs, dairy, butter). I try to be highly respectful of other people's choices and I try to not be one of those vegans. Don't worry too much about what I'll eat, I manage pretty well.
  2. I can eat an entire bag of Oreo's in a sitting. (Accidentally vegan! SCORE.)
  3. I am a bit of a jewelry whore. I obsessively collect jewelry and admire other people's bling. The surest way to my heart is to wear shiny things! If I grab your hand or stare at your chest it probably means I'm just looking at your jewels. Do not karate chop me, please.
  4. I am people watcher by nature. If you catch me staring at you please consider it a compliment and if you feel so inclined, please stare back.
  5. I'm Italian and come from a VERY LOUD FAMILY. Therefore, you may need earplugs.
  6. I say 'douche bag' A LOT and well, it offends some. Please disregard my foul mouth and know I'm not calling you a douche bag.
  7. I keep saying I don't drink much, which is true. But this probably means I will drink excessively and be even more loud, if that's possible. Also, wine makes my face turn red.
  8. I will profess my love for my iPhone and my children with similar fervor but please note, I love my children more, I promise.
  9. If you leave a magazine around (especially a cooking magazine) I will likely pick it up and start reading it. (Elizabeth, you are warned. But I won't ask to borrow it because I probably wouldn't return it. Ha!)
  10. I don't talk religion or politics as a general rule. Not because I don't want to discuss or even debate, but because I feel that I'm not knowledgeable on either topic well enough to hold a conversation that sounds very intelligent. Even though we may think totally differently on the right to choose or who our president is, I know we can get along because there are so many other things to talk about. Such as reality TV!
  11. I don't do movie quotes. I have the memory of a small ant so they are basically lost on me. But I'll probably laugh anyways just so I don't feel left out.
  12. I'm traveling with my dear, lovely friend Jennie. Her husband is my ex-boyfriend and really it's old news by now. I totally claim her as my friend and love her dearly and we know our relationship was odd at first but I'd say we're over it. You'd have to be over the awkwardness of it all to sleep in the same bed on a road trip, right? You can read more about this here or here.
  13. Lastly, I've been a mother for nearly half my life. My oldest son is 14 and my youngest son is 2.5. I LOVE MY BOYS TO NO END. Please ask me about them, I will talk all night if you let me.

I can't wait to meet you ladies and get to talking about all sorts of things! Also, I'm super bummed some of you can't make it like Danielle and Raven. Can I bring you on a stick?!


It's the simple things

I really don't like cold weather. I would rather be sweltering hot and dripping wet from all the sweat. I loathe cold weather that much. But there is something to be said about the cooler weather that comes right before the bitter-ass cold. The simple things are the best things, most of the time. Here's my list of things that are making me happy about the cooler weather (inspired by Jess).
  • The ability to drive with the windows down and the music turned up and not frying is always a bonus. One of my favorite things in the world is to do just that. It makes me happy to jam out and drive my little red sports car. I'll never be a mini van kinda girl.
  • A dear friend, Abbie, made me a lovely scarf for my birthday and I just can't wait to wear it. It's hanging in my coat closet just waiting to be worn. Not much longer, scarf, not much longer.
  • Hot coffee. I drink way more coffee during the cooler months than I do during the summer. Hot tea, also!
  • Comfortable sweat pants. I wouldn't dare wear sweat pants outdoors (unless I'm working out) but I simply adore coming home from work and slipping on a pair of loose, comfortable sweat pants. I kind of hate wearing shorts to bed in the summer and I look forward to sleeping in my ugly, grey sweatpants.
  • Jackets. A good jacket can mask a multitude of body flaws in addition to being warm and stylish. I recently got a new jacket from the Gap (that I can't find online, sadly) that I just can't wait to wear.
  • It's always nice to be able to use the oven and relish in the heat radiating from it as opposed to cursing the fact that you have to turn the ac colder to offset the oven. Also, cookies!
  • New tv programs! FINALLY I think all of my shows I've been waiting for have started airing. I have every day of the week full with things I just have to watch. Thankfully I have a DVR with fast forward so I only waste half the time sitting on my arse watching TV.
  • Not having to have a cute pedicure is always a nice little break from my routine appearance checklist. Especially since I had my one big toe nail removed from an injury and it's taking freaking forever to grow back.
  • Not having to stress about swimsuits for a few months is a total bonus.
  • I love LOVE LOVE when I workout and get all sweaty and then go outside in the cold weather and instantly cool down. It's a highlight of my workout.
  • Snuggling on the sofa with Jackson and a "blankie". I have this blanket that used to be my Grandpa's and it's a billion year old fugly brown shag carpet looking thing that's falling apart and I love it. When I'm sick it's my go to item to snuggle with. I just washed it in preparation to snuggle on the sofa.

What are your simple things that you are looking forward to this fall?


Not that I need to buy anything

I've been doing a lot of online shopping these days, probably because my lust for all things new far exceeds that of my budget. I find myself adding things to the online cart of different websites and then closing the browser window before I can whip out my credit card. I'm sure the credit card companies are cursing at me under their breath and my bank is probably hailing my praises. Such conflict! I do, however, have a few birthday gift cards burning a hole in my wallet. Also, fall weather is coming so it's only natural to need/want new things, right? Yes, that's what I thought.

First, I just love Francesca's online shop. I find that their actual stores are so jam packed with clothes that it's a turn off. Plus the dressing rooms are just so tiny. I do, however, love the online shop. Last time I ordered a few dresses online they all fit and I ended up keeping them all. Since I had such success I am now looking at the tops they have and I love this one. I am so obsessed with grey these days! This top looks like it would be simultaneously comfortable and cute at the same time. Plus, I love the built in necklace look. At $34 I'd say it's a steal.

I have grand illusions that belts make me look slimmer. It's probably a fashion fact, but I just don't know that I always know how to wear them properly. I love to wear clothes anf acessories that are loud and colorful and interesting. As I get more comfortable in my own skin I find I am more willing to put myself out there, style-wise. This belt is proof of that, I think. I love the 80's vibe it give and the silver buckle is so graphic. The sunny yellow would be a perfect foil for a grey shirt or just the right dress. I even have a multi colored floral blouse this would pair perfect with. The faux leather makes me swoon.

I got a $50 gift card to Anthropologie (my new favorite store EVER) and it's been itching to be used. I have no qualms spending $50 or more on a piece of jewelry that I love and I LOVE this necklace. It's quirky and fun and different. At $48 I consider it a cheap way to dress up any outfit. I know some of you will look at that and think OH MY GOODNESS that's the ugliest thing I've ever seen and I'd have to reply with something like SWEET! This means you won't be wearing it and I'll be the only one. I really do like the interesting, funny, odd, strange jewelry pieces, they make me smile.

Another non-leather score! These boots are so sweet, I cannot even stand it. I have no clue what I'd wear them with, but I just love the button detail and the slouchy look. If I could wear skinny jeans (haha) these would go perfectly. I'm on the fence about these because usually I have an idea what to wear something with. If you bought these what would you wear with them? Or maybe you hate them in which case I give you permission to skip this question.

More grey! I saw this dress on Target.com and it looks so adorable. The reviews were very positive as well. It seems to be made well and is a perfect transition dress from fall to winter. Target has gone up in style as of the last few years and I've found several pieces that I'm quite impressed with and the price is right. I think dress would be lovely with red pumps and black tights as shown here on the model. Perfect work attire.

Oh Etsy. I love you and your quirky crafty people that make gorgeous, funky necklaces just like this one. I am in love lately with long layered necklaces that dangle and swing and just look like a perfectly jumbled mess of beautifulness. This necklace fits the bill perfectly. I can imagine wearing this with simple earrings and a handful of bangle bracelets to complete an outfit. Why am I not independently wealthy? WHY?

Are you doing any online shopping lately? Tell me what online stores you frequent so I can pretend shop there, also.


A break from reality

In one week and one day I'm getting up at the ass crack of dawn to prepare myself to fly to California to attend The Blathering. Boy do I need it, too. In between washing scads and scads of toddler underwear from potty training accidents and all this crazy rain we're having, I need a vacation.

Did you see the part above about potty training? No? Well then, let me say it another way. WE'RE POTTY TRAINING AND I MIGHT DIE. I had the Directv people over yesterday to install a new HD dish (the picture quality is quite impressive) and the husband/wife install team was quit amused about my little man running around in his Lightning McQueen skivvies. They were less impressed when he peed on the floor in the kitchen. Let's just say I'm glad I have very little carpet in my house right about now.

Back to vacay talk! I missed BlogHer this year, I just wasn't feeling it so The Blathering is a mini gathering of bloggers and I'm so looking forward to it. Jennie and I are leaving a few days early to take in LA, Carmel and San Francisco and see the lovely scenery along the way. I can't wait to see the beach and maybe walk in the sand for a bit, considering I never see the ocean. The rental car is squared away, the hotels are booked and all that's left is to pack our bags. Oh, and I suppose waiting for the CLOCK TO HURRY UP AND GET TO NEXT WEEK.

If you have suggestions for things to see or do or eat in LA, Carmel, San Francisco or Sacramento...please pass along whatcha got. We're open to anything and everything (except maybe illegal things, maybe.)



One of the few regrets I have in life.

I don't inherently believe in regrets. I think that regretting things is just a waste of time and a total downer. Sure, I wish I could make different choices, pay more attention to other's mistakes and learn from them but I don't worry myself to death about something that is already done, something I can't undo. I find regretting things such a time suck. But...there's always a but, isn't there?

When I was 12-years-old I went to visit my family in Missouri like I always did during the summer. I remember feeling like a small child even though I was working my way toward being a young adult but not feeling anywhere prepared for what that meant. I had little responsibility, as most 12-year-olds do. I had to keep my room clean, help around the house, babysit my little brother's on occasion and really that was about it. I'd say I was your typical preteen. I was vastly irresponsible when it came to many things because I was just young and well, 12.

That summer I was given a gift that I wish I could just give back at that moment and ask for it later. My mom had spent years amassing a large collection of charms for her charm bracelet. I remember it was a heavy piece of jewelry that had so many charms I don't even know that I looked at them all. I hadn't found my deep love for all things sparkly yet but I knew this was an important piece of my mom's history. My grandma (my dad's mother) had been keeping this bracelet for all those years waiting to give it to me. She was so proud to pass it along to me and told me stories about how my mom and dad (divorced when I was 6 weeks old) had spent summers at her house as teenagers and how my mom was like her daughter. This bracelet represented my mom and her young adult life. Each charm represented something important to her, stories I would give anything to hear now.

I'll never know those stories because I lost that bracelet. My memory is incredibly fuzzy about it all now, but I remember telling my grandma that I stuffed the bracelet into the sofa at her house. I don't know why I would have done something like that, but that was my story. She ripped that sofa apart and found nothing. I wish, more than anything, that I could go back and relive those days of that particular summer and make that bracelet appear. I wish I could have taken care of my mother's history properly.

My stomach becomes a little twisty ball of screaming nerves when I think of the charm bracelet. I could never replace it or make up for it, there too many stories that I could never replicate properly.

I wonder, sometimes, if there's someone out there who wears that bracelet. Maybe I dropped it on the plane on accident and someone found it? I wonder if that person appreciates all those stories they will never know. Perhaps they make up their own story for the previous owner of the charm bracelet. There could be a little girl who wears it on her too small wrist when she's playing dress up in her mom's closet. I hope that person, whoever they are, even though they will never know, loves that bracelet as much as my mom did. As much as I could have loved it.

I regret not holding on to that charm bracelet a little tighter. I regret not being able to get the stories behind those tiny charms. I regret letting my mom down. I wish I could call a do-over, I'd give almost anything.


Birthday weekend recap

This past weekend was probably one of the best weekends I've had in a long long time. It was filled with friends, family, celebrations, cupcakes, drinks, dancing and everything in between. I've never had a birthday that lasted for 4 days so it was a real treat for me, one I won't soon forget.
Thursday was my actual birthday, the day I officially turned 32 and was told that I'm "fully committed to my 30's now". It was a very low key day, perfect really. When I dropped Jackson off at his sitter's house, who happens to also be a close friend of mine, I was surprised with the yummiest chocolate/mint vegan cupcakes. OMG, they were heaven. Debi outdid herself! You are allowed to eat cupcakes for breakfast on your birthday, right? Good, because I totally ate one for breakfast.

When I got to work there was a pretty flower arrangement sent to me from my parents that had actual brussel sprouts in the arrangement! Later in the day my dear friend Jennie met me for lunch with her son, Kyle at a local Thai place. We got a chance to catch up and I got to hold Kyle for a bit and make stupid high-pitched noises in his face like adults seem to do when they get around adorable babies.

Thursday evening Jackson and I shared another yummy cupcake and went for a walk in the "jungle" as he calls it. It's really just the greenbelt by our house. We picked flowers and talked about how snakes were in the tall grass and how we needed to stay away from the tall grass and leave the snakes alone. He sang we happy birthday 3 or 4 times and y'all, it was SO CUTE I ALMOST EXPLODED.

Friday was a debacle with my driver license renewal that I won't even get into. I'll just say that I stood in line for two hours for them to tell me that I couldn't renew my license and now I have to wait 7-10 days and drive with an expired license because someone dropped the biggest ball they could drop. Moving on...

Friday night I gave myself a manicure and pedicure, watched trashy TV and read magazines. It was my own celebration with myself and I knew I'd need to rest, being old and all, to prepare from Saturday night.

I woke up at the ungodly hour of 7:30am because I was SO EXCITED about the day ahead. I actually went for a jog to prepare for the calorie-laden day. It was nice to have some time with my running shoes, good music and get a bit of sun.

The afternoon was filled with some shopping to get an outfit, Taco Bell for lunch and helping a bit at Jennie's house for her housewarming party the next day, a little more shopping and then I headed home to get ready. It never takes me more than 30 minutes from start to finish to get ready except for certain times. It took me FOREVER to get ready but it was fun to take my time.

Dinner Saturday night was a blast. The service was slow but I'm told the food was good (somehow I ate hardly anything because I was too busy chugging drinks) and the company was even better. So many of my friends and my family came, and I honestly got a little choked up because I felt so loved and special that people took time out of their busy weekends to be with me and celebrate. I couldn't have asked for a better dinner.

After dinner some of us made our way to The Glass Cactus where we drank, danced and had a FABULOUS time. Thankfully my brother was my DD so I paid no attention to the vast amounts of drinks I inhaled.

I danced with a few cute men (who didn't ask for my number, WTF), grabbed a lot of boobs (male and female), sang some Def Leopard songs, made new friends and just had a blast.

Sunday I woke with a wicked hangover that only napping, water and cursing could cure. By about 2pm I was good as new and ready to party some more so I headed to Jennie and Mike's housewarming party. They have such a great house, really. I'm waiting for the house across the street from them to go up for sale and I'm totally moving. ;-)

Jackson was with his dad all weekend so Monday afternoon we met for lunch where we had cupcakes and he got to sing me happy birthday again. He was so excited to blow out the candles and eat his "cakes". We managed to get into some swimming at his dad's apartment pool and ate a late dinner together where we talked about who's birthday is coming up next. He seems to think it's his birthday, of course!

It was just a great weekend all around and other than wishing Derick was here, I wouldn't have changed a single thing. Thank you to all my friends and family, I am so blessed to have you all. Truly.


32 is the new 23

Y'all, I'm 32 today. It's fantastic, really. I invite you to join if if you haven't made it yet.

Do you know the story of how I came to be? Not that sex part, but the rest of it? No? Well, let me fill you in on my history of before I was even a little tadpole growing all my body parts. Obviously this is a second hand story so I may have the details muddled, but I've heard the story enough times to know it by heart.

My mom and biological dad were married for five years and they had tried to have a child during those years. I would assume it was pretty frustrating and awful to want a child and not get one. But they tried and nothing happened.

After five years my bio dad (as he calls himself), gave my mom the boot saying he only loved her as a friend. So they seperated with the intention of getting divorced, moved away from each other and that was, as they say, that.

After a separation of several months (ish) they, AHEM, got back together for three days. Turns out the sparks where there for some things but not to reconcile the marriage. You can imagine my mother's surprise when she learned that she was pregnant with me not long after this encounter.

So you see, if were not for those three days back in 1977 I would not be here creating havoc and mayhem in the world. I'm pretty happy those three days exist and I'm pretty darn sure that my momma has enjoyed at least 85% of my time on this Earth. (We won't talk about the other 15%.)

So, happy birthday to me and thank you momma for putting up with me. Thank you to all of my lovely friends who've called, texted, Facebooked and Twittered today. I love you all.

Now, I need to get some hair color stuff because the gray is showing!


It's (almost) my birthday! It's Thursday! You are on notice.

For me, as I've gotten older, I don't really get very many things on my wish list (bummer!) but sometimes I'm surprised with a gift I've wanted. Other times I'm surprised with something I never knew I needed. I mostly make my wish list of stuff in the hopes that someone will feel it necessary to make me happy but also so I can bookmark the things I find that I love.
Here are a few of those things:

I love the sparkly nature of this ring ($75) and also how industrial it is. It's like a shiny crystal ball that's been in a factory for years and now it wants to be worn on my finger. I know, that makes no sense but when do accessories have to make sense? They just have to be something that makes you happy.

I'm not a beige person and doubt I ever will be. The color of this chair ($69.95) and the bright, colorful cushion makes me happy and that's what it's all about right? I honestly have no earthly idea where I'd put this if I did get it. If I had a covered porch (want!) then it would be an awesome addition. Or even a cute chair to sit and apply makeup.

I'm no Julia Child or Rachel Ray or whoever but I love LOVE LOVE cooking and chopping and measuring and just generally being in the kitchen. This is the quintessential cutting board ($57.95) for a serious cook. I don't quite fall into that category but I'd love to pretend and have fun chopping while I do it.

When I went to BlogHer last year there happened to be a Lush store across from the hotel room and the first day I was there I picked up one of these CoalFace Cleanser bars ($10.95) and fell in love. It made my face feel clean and ready to take on the day despite the black color of the bar. Even better, the bar is vegan! Bonus!

I think the idea of this "diamond" ring ($260) is brilliant. It's in the iconic shape and you get what the idea is without the price tag. Or the man to buy it.

I'm clearly not easy to pigeon-hole. I want a sterling silver "diamond" ring and a composter ($189.99). Growing my own garden and cooking a lot at home means I have a lot of organic waste that I could be using instead of filling up the landfills with. Here's my solution!

Anthrolopogie is the best store on the face of the earth and yet I rarely go there because I know I'll spend $500 in mere minutes on the adorable clothes, accessories and interesting books. Let's not even talk about the housewares stuff. Gift cards ($1,000,000,000.00) are the way to go with this store.


$100 Food Experiment : And so it begins

Spending just $100 on groceries for AN ENTIRE MONTH is...interesting. The first few days I just lived with the fact that when I opened the refrigerator door all I saw were tumbleweeds and a sad bag of limp carrots. Then I had a friend, her daughter, and her daughter's friend over for dinner. This means I would have to cook. With food. Also, the very next day I joined some lovely ladies for a cooking club sort of thing and I had to bring a dish. It also had to contain food. Que FREAK OUT.

After my mini panic I sat down, took stock of what food I did have and made my dinner menu for my guests from what was on hand. I choose burritos. Super easy, kid friendly and way easy to veganize. I had to buy tortillas, black beans (even though it turns out I had some already), limes and cilantro for the guacamole. I already had quinoa and salsa so I could make a high protein and fiber version of Mexican rice. My friend graciously bought the avocados, lettuce and chips.

As for my dinner the very next night I was responsible for the dessert so I choose to make chocolate mousse topped with strawberries. I had the silken tofu already (pantry staple) but I needed the strawberries and chocolate. Unfortunately the store only had the more expensive chocolate but I wasn't willing to go somewhere else to save a buck. Strawberries were on sale so I bought two tubs and kept one for us to eat. I told the ladies at dinner about what I was doing and the host of the dinner sent me home with a ton of fresh parsley and green onions that I've put to good use. I also brought home a serving of the main course she prepared (polenta topped with black beans and a tomato sauce, TASTY!!).

That one shopping trip cost $13.10 for food. That's actually quite a lot of money considering I barely got one meal out of the trip. But I now have extra cans of black beans, garlic (both that I've since put to use), red onion and we muched on those strawberries for two days.

Breakdown for $13.10:

Tortilla (whole wheat) 2.76
2 tubs of strawberries 3.76
Bakers chocolate squares 2.56
2 cans black beans 1.44
2 Limes .44
Garlic .32
Cilantro .38
Red Onion (they were more expensive than white but I prefer red) 1.44

Our next shopping trip was Sunday night. Sunday's are a great day to get in the weeks groceries. Unfortunately I didn't plan a menu or anything. I planned one meal and bought a few other things I knew we'd eat during the week. It was not as successful as it could have been. I ended up spending $43.35 in groceries.

It was an interesting shopping trip. I always buy organic spinach for salads but it was $5 for a tiny, insignificant tub so I got romaine instead. Not nearly as good for you, but better than iceberg, plus it was organic and half the price for twice as much. Lesson learned in that department. I did "splurge" and buy a few other organic items that cost more. I also needed canned beans for a bean salad that Derick requested. I intended on buying the Target brand canned beans until I read the label and they have High Fructose Syrup in them. WHY!? It's freaking beans, Target. Why do we need to add a sweetener to PLAIN BEANS?! I passed them up for a more expensive variety of organic beans with no sugar or salt added. I consider the extra expense an investment in mine and my kid's health.

We needed fruit so into the basket some went. I almost died on the spot when I saw how much I spent on cherries. $6.40. FOR CHERRIES. Literally, those cherries will last me 2-3 days max. They were even on sale! If I would have gotten the organic cherries that price would have doubled. I love cherries, though and I can only get the good, cheaper ones during the summer so I say whatever to that. I loved each and every one I ate last night.

As for veggies, I threw in some organic celery, a few Roma tomatoes and a big bag of organic carrots. I can make an entire meal from those things if I add some pasta or rice or quinoa.

Breakdown for $43.35

Cinnabon snack bar thingies (AKA why I never take my teenager shopping with me) 2.00
Special K bars (ditto above) 2.39
Organic Romaine lettuce 2.49
Organic ( I can't remember what this was for) .99
Organic celery 1.99
4 Roma Tomatoes 1.28
3 cans Vegetarian Baked beans (again for the teenager) 3.96
4 cans variety of Organic beans 5.24
Organic raspberries 2.49
Organic Carrots 3.99
1 lb strawberries 2.79
1 pint blueberries 2.79
2.57 lbs Cherries 6.40
Red onions 2.06
Organic Target brand soy milk 2.49

Total spent so far on both trips: $56.45

This leaves me $43.55 left to spend for the next 3 weeks. Here I am cheating again, though. Derick left to go back to his dad's house yesterday so I'll be feeding one less(insatiable) teenager so there's that. I have many a meal planned with beans, pasta and grains. I truly think I can do this. And I hope to do it well with different flavors and ingredients. I do not intend on eating boring, season less foods.

What we've eaten so far since this experiment started:


cereal with soy or rice milk
oatmeal, many different ways. I never buy premixed stuff, I like to make my own flavors
pancakes (homemade. I made a TON and froze a bunch)
fresh fruit*


Lots of leftovers. That's usually what I eat for lunch is the leftovers from the previous days.
Fresh veggie "stir fry"


bean soup with homemade cornbread
brown rice pasta with faux sausage, onions and butternut squash
bean salad composed of beans*, onion, parsley, celery*, salad dressing and frozen peas
burritos composed of tortillas*, quinoa Mexican rice, black beans*, guacamole*, and salsa
Yellow curry quinoa with fresh carrots*, cilantro, onions* and peas.


Fresh fruit
Leftover chocolate mousse

*if noted with the asterisk then it was purchased. Otherwise all ingredients I already had

The evolution of lunch

Remember that garden I planted? It's fed me well over the summer. I had a bounty of squash, tomatoes and red Swiss chard. Here, as evidenced by the photos, is the evolution of my lunch Sunday. I was searching the kitchen for lunch Sunday and remembered that I had yet to taste my Swiss chard I planted. I grabbed my camera and headed outside.

It occurred to me that I had no idea how to harvest chard so I just pulled from the ground.

I cut the roots off, evicted the two small tiny spiders and cleaned it all up. Ready for eating!

I decided on a medley of fresh veggies. Squash (from a previous garden harvest), yellow bell pepper and onion topped with a leftover papaya tomato bruschetta sauce.

Ready to eat. 80% garden harvested, 100% tasty.


$100: A food experiment

I have a confession. I spent entirely too much on food. It's a common myth that vegetarians and vegans spend more on food than non-vegetarians and vegans. Unfortunately I am doing nothing to show that this myth is false.

I don't need the faux meats or the fancy flours or the newest "vegan" labeled cookies. I just choose to buy them and it's getting a tad out of hand. I also love to cook so when I make a menu for the week I don't usually pay attention to the fact that I need 15 ingredients for each dish and none of them use the same ingredients.

A new kind of brown rice pasta (my new fav, by the way)? I must have it! Cherries are only $2.50 a pound? Who cares that I'm buying 7 pounds. I only have enough bread to last a month. I must buy more lest I run out! A new sauce I've never seen! I'll get one in every flavor! You can see how this would result in a larger than necessary grocery bill.

While I was out of town last week I had to stop by Trader Joe's to stock up. We aren't awesome enough to have a TJ's yet so it was a requirement that I stock up. When I got home and was unpacking my haul I realized I had no place to put my purchases. My pantry is stuffed with food. I could fee a family of 4 for 2 months, I'm sure. This is when my experiment was born.

For the next 30 days I will see if I can get by on only spending $100 (or $25 a week) on groceries. I realize I'm cheating a bit because I have a lot of staples already; pastas, rice, cereals, canned beans and other things I can utilize. But I figure I had that stuff before and I was still going out and spending an ungodly amount on food. The $100 will only include food and not things like cleaners or diapers or dog food other items I sometimes buy at the grocery store, just food for of the people variety.

I'll keep my receipts and detail out what I spend and post here. I'll also keep track of our meals for the next month and post those also. If nothing else, I can prove that it's not expensive to eat well (I hope). Also, the extra money can go toward my impending vacations.

If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it.


Vacation recap and other stuff

We're back from our vacation to St. Louis. I know, I know, I never even posted that we were going. Regardless, we're back and I'm sad that our visit was so short. Most of my close family lives in the St. Louis area. I was born not far from the gateway to the West. I have grandparents, cousins, aunt's, uncles, my biological dad, half sisters, a nephew and some other random assorted relatives in the area. You can imagine that we were SUPER busy with family activities. When I get to my grandma's house I breathe a sigh of relief because I feel like I've come to my second home.
We spent the week packing in as much as possible into our short little trip. We went to the St. Louis Zoo (it's free! and better than the Fort Worth Zoo), we floated on the Black River and I saw where my mom and biological dad jumped from rocks when they were just kids, we ate meals with family, took in downtown St. Charles (a fave spot of mine), went shopping at some local resale shops, got lost in the country, talked about family members that aren't with us anymore, laughed till we cried and generally had a grand time. It was an exhausting trip, in a good way, and I hated to board the plane to leave. I am counting the days till we go back. St. Louis and the surrounding areas are my home away from home and I highly recommend you visit. And when you do, please take me with you.
My niece, Sadie, turned the ripe old age of one while we were away and we partied like rock stars with her. She got her own little cupcake to chow down on and OH BOY did she go to town. Poor thing had icing all up her nose, I'm sure of it. You could tell she was all WHERE HAVE THESE SWEET CREATIONS BEEN ALL MY LIFE!?!?! She's so close to walking and she jabbers all about her life if you let her. Jackson LOVES to crawl around on the floor with her and try to pick her up. I can't wait for her to get a substantial amount of hair so I can fancy her all up with cute bows. Happy birthday Sadie Mo Pie, we love you!

I'm joining Weight Watchers again. I did so well the last two times losing the weight, I just have to maintain it. That's the hard part. This last week I blame eating with my Italian family (hello pasta!!) and eating out waaaaaay too much. Wish me luck, again.


Derick goes back to his dad's house in 6 days. I cannot even begin to describe how much I want to put my foot down and make him stay. I'm trying to cram in as much as possible in the next 6 days without breaking the bank. We've had a lovely time and I'm not ready for it to end just yet.
Tax free weekend is this upcoming weekend. It's that time of year where I'll buy a whole new wardrobe for Derick. I expect that my paid off credit card won't know what to do with itself.
Lastly, I have the best tan I've ever had.


Dating tips

Dear Derick,

You are 14-years-old now and I think it's time I impart some momma wisdom for when you start dating. I hadn't thought you were old enough for such advice, and I still think of you as 10-year-old, but after you sat outside with THREE GIRLS talking last night, I figured now was a good time.

  • First and foremost, be nice to girls. It's true that nice guys sometimes finish last and the bad guys finish first. But the nice guys get the good girls and in the end that's the most important thing. Trust me.
  • Don't make crass jokes to your friends about a girl that you like. You might think you're being cool but really you're just cutting down the girl you like and that seems counter productive, don't you think?
  • Be honest. If you just aren't into a girl then, nicely, let her know. Don't waste her time and yours just to avoid hurting her. Sure, it'll hurt, but better a little hurt than a huge, gigantic one that should have been coming for weeks, months or even years.
  • Laugh with her. Laughter really is the best medicine. Don't be afraid to make stupid jokes and see goofy comedies and just have fun. Don't worry what others are thinking.
  • Really take care of your girl. I don't mean buy her loads of stuff or wait on her hand and foot, I just mean take care of her soul. Make her feel special and desired and cared for. Let her know that you really and truly are present and aware.
  • Participate in the things she's passionate about. You may not be passionate about Pampered Chef products or the newest Justin Timberlake album but you can still help cook with the new cookware and take her to see her celebrity crush in concert and smile while doing it.
  • Follow through. If you say you're going to call, then do. If you say you're going to show up at a certain time, don't be late. If you say you love her, really mean it.
  • Don't put up with crap. If your lady treats you poorly, find a new one. You deserve to be treated well and nothing less.
  • Be confidant and be yourself. You're a great person and you should be proud of who you are. Don't change for anyone except for yourself.
  • Don't settle. If she's not the girl for you, then she's not the girl for you. Don't be in a relationship that makes you unhappy when you could be single and happy. Find the girl that makes you want to be a better person.
  • Girls like boys who treat their families well. It's an indication of who you'll be as a family man based on how you are with your own family.
  • Have fun. Take this advice and use it, but don't dwell so much on the details that you get bogged down. If you aren't having fun, it's not worth it.

There you have it, son of mine. I hope you find an awesome chick who thinks your an awesome dude. You deserve only the best.

Love, your momma


On a lighter note; TELEVISION!

Let's talk about television. Shows I'm watching, shows I'm waiting to start again, shows I can't get enough of and crappy shows that I can't stay away from. In no particular order:

The Next Food Network Star

The season finale was just yesterday and the person I wanted to win, did! I INHALE cooking shows of all kinds. Unless they feature live animals that have to be killed (I've seen many an Iron Chef show that I had to turn off).

The Rachel Zoe Project

Technically I'm not recording it right now because it's all re-runs but the new season is scheduled to start August 24 and believe you me, I've got that date entered into my calender to remind me to record it. Also, I wish Rachel would gain 10 pounds, I think she'd look WAY better. I've got some to spare!

What Not To Wear

I've seen almost every single episode and my love for Stacy and Clinton knows no bounds. I hear they've replaced Nick Arrojo which makes me extremely sad, I would have rather they replaced Carmindy. Not that I don't like Carmindy, I just, well, I'm ready for a new face of makeup.

Pushing Daisies

I love this show and can't wait to watch it this season. Oh wait, what's that you say? Bastards CANCELLED it?! I will never EVER get over this.

Ace of Cakes

I love Duff, what can I say? His laugh is infectious and MaryAlice is the bomb.

Real Housewives (especially NY)

I love a bit of drama that isn't mine and I just want to see what these rich people live like. I don't know why I've never watched the GA girls, probably because I saw a preview of some ridiculous fight and knew it was a bit too much drama for me. I follow Bethenny on twitter, I love her!

Get Fresh with Sara Snow

This is a cool chick. She has a whole show to eating well and treating the planet well and just being good to yourself and others. I stumbled across her show one day while recording various exercise shows.

Top Chef Masters

I told you I loved cooking shows. I love this one too, especially because I think it's awesome that some of these people were former judges. I'm SUPER excited about this weeks episode, they have to make an all vegan meal for Zooey Deschanel (love her!) and her friends. I only hope they don't make stupid cracks about steak and the like. I expecting an awesome show and maybe learn a thing or three along the way.

Antiques Roadshow

I've talked about my love of this show before and yes, I know it makes me totally nerdy and I'm cool with that. I hope to be on that show someday with some random object I picked up for $.50 and find out it's worth $400K. A girl can dream, right?

Whale Wars

These guys and gals are a bit crazy, but I commend them for sticking up for those who can't defend themselves. I wish they defended more animals like chickens and cows and other innocent animals. But then they wouldn't be in a cool, rickety boat, so there's that. Another thing I love about them? They eat only vegan meals on board. That makes my heart happy.

The Millionaire Matchmaker

I watch A LOT of Bravo shows it seems. I love Patti's no nonsense attitude. Although I do often wonder why she's not married to her long time boyfriend. I find that strange for someone who's job is to marry people off. P.S. I'm available!!

Project Runway

I cannot wait any long for this show to come back. Heidi and Tim are just my favorite. I'm more into the story lines than the fashion, but I do love drooling over or making fun of a designer's outfit.

Top Chef

ANOTHER cooking show, ANOTHER Bravo show. My cousin knows one of the contestants so that makes me more in the know, right? I only hope they don't have a meat butchering episode again. Vegan or not, that made me ill to watch.

Divine Design

Candice, if you read this, please come do my living room/kitchen! I don't live in Canada, but I can rent a snow machine and get some hockey players to come over and make you feel at home.

Ghost Whisperer

Oh JLH, you are totally cute and I want to be your BFF. Also, I've always thought you looked great, don't let those haters get you down.

Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood

I knew I'd hate this show when I watched it but it turns out that I LOVE it. Tori is so not like I expected. Call me what you will but I love this show.

Denise Richards: It's Complicated

Stars; they're just like us. Minus the permanent tan, the gorgeous hair and the gobs of money. Thank goodness I like Denise, she's just adorable.


I know I'm missing some shows, I'm sure of it. Tell me what you are excited to watch or are watching now? What should I add to my DVR?