Change of web address

Because I am computer and Internet challenged please add this URL to your feed readers...

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.