Highlights

Road Trip Home ATG FINAL{California, through a car window.}

It occurred to me just as I sat down to write this, that though I’ve had the pleasure of technically being on vacation for just over a week now, it feels as if it officially starts right this moment. Christmas has come and gone, along with all the craze (but fun!) that comes with it; the road trip to and from Santa Cruz is behind me; my gifts are safely stored in their new homes; my laundry is done; my fridge is stocked; a new book is on my Kindle ready to be devoured; I just put on a pot of coconut vanilla tea (my current obsession); and my mind is slowing. In other words, I can physically feel myself relaxing some – finally!

I suspect that while I adore the time spent looking out a car window at the many facets of California for 6 straight hours, spending time with my boyfriend’s family for Christmas, then taking a day trip into San Francisco, it’s hard to truly decompress when you’re not in your own surroundings. At least, it is for me. Though I always love travel, a change of scenery, a hiatus from the day-to-day, I always seem to miss home. I’m happy to be back in La-La-Land!

I smile often as I look back over this first week of my vacation and Christmas Day. “Santa” was extremely kind this year and I’m happy to have gotten to spend some time getting to know my boyfriend’s family more. Yet, I’m reminded about why one must be careful over the holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in the “stuff” and forget that all the build-up, while delightful, can often lead to a sense of….what’s the right word? Disappointment? Sadness? People spend weeks and weeks gearing up for one day. I’ve often heard that once the gifts are opened, you’ve gained a few pounds thanks to the amount of food readily available, and your loved ones head home and back to their lives, there’s a bit of a deflation in spirit the day after, which is understandable.

Perhaps it’s because I knew I was coming home to 2 more weeks of restfulness, doing nothing, tackling little projects around the house, thinking about my goals for 2015, and spending time with friends and family in-between, I wasn’t completely deflated in spirit, but looking forward to why I took an extended holiday this year: a chance to recharge after an exhausting 2014. And that’s exactly what I intend to do…

…but not before sharing the highlights of life lately! x

Packed for XMAS Vacation ATG FINAL

{road trip ready.}

Blogging in Hotel ATG FINAL

{A little Christmas Eve blogging from our hotel room.}

Ipod Nano Xmas 2014 ATG FINAL

{You guys – Santa gave me the gift of music this year! I’ve been DYING without my old nano since it broke up with me last summer and this made me SO happy! Those CDs that have been collecting in my car for half the year have met their match…once again.}

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream ATG FINAL

{A day in SF found me back at The Marketplace Ferry Building enjoying Humphry Slocombe’s Malted Milk Chocolate ice cream w/ hot fudge.}

{p.s. It was as good as it looks!}

Scarlet Mare Earrings ATG FINAL

{The gift of bling from Scarlet Mare Studio won’t go to waste.}

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Highlights

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree ATG FINAL 3{My little ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree courtesy of my boyfriend. It makes me smile.}

Quite honestly, I don’t really have much more to say other than…

HAPPY 1st DAY OF VACATION TO ME!

I’ll leave it at that…and perhaps mention that I think I’ll take myself to a matinee to see Wild today, that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and here are a few other highlights from the week.

Have a nice weekend! x

Love Actually ATG FINAL 2

{It’s not officially Christmas-feeling until I’ve watched Love Actually. Done!}

Mixtape Stocking Stuffer ATG FINAL

{Putting together a little stocking stuffer for a friend.}

Christmas Cards ATG FINAL

{People don’t get enough handwritten notes in the mail. I decided to send Christmas cards this year.}

Substantial Coffee Quote ATG FINAL

{Stopping in for coffee at Zeli’s in Pasadena. If I ever needed an excuse to keep that coffee addiction alive…}

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Highlights

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I don’t know about you, but right around this time is the beginning of what I think of as “end of the year burn-out.” It’s around the time where you might start to mentally check-out in certain areas of your life. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the year is winding down, the holidays are gearing up, and people are just ready for a proper breather after 11 months of whatever life happened to throw at them. I’m grateful to be in a position where work pretty much shuts down for the holidays and since I’m not really one to take vacations or extended amounts of time off through-out the year, I tend to wait until the holiday break to tack on some additional vacation days to make it a lengthy one to really decompress.

And the great news is that I’m 4 DAYS away from 3 WEEKS of holiday vacation bliss!

Oh, the fun it will be. After a little road trip and a change of scenery to spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s awesome family (Hi Marilyn!) for a few days in Santa Cruz, it’ll turn into a much-needed LA staycation. I can already see myself sleeping in, making blueberry pancakes for breakfast on a random Tuesday morning, reading books, getting through my never-ending Netflix queue, taking naps (just because), and going to the gym or taking a dance class anytime I feel like it (which I hope will be at least one…or twice). I also foresee a lazy afternoon roaming around a museum to check out a new exhibit and spending a late morning in my favorite cafe working on my blog over french toast.

I’m also desperate to spend some uninterrupted time thinking about how I hope 2015 will shape-up. I realize the trap with New Year’s resolutions, but I can’t help but be excited by the whole “fresh start” aspect when a new year arrives. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s still lots to wrap up before my 3 week break from life (as I’m calling it), but I’ll keep my eyes on the prize.

As I think back over this week, I have to say, it was a good one. A chilly Tuesday night found me at an advanced screening of Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five (a great laugh, but you can wait for Netflix if money is tight) and an even chillier Wednesday night at book club to discuss our December read, Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher (which you can skip). Is it okay to mention that the grilled cheese on sourdough that I ate over our discussion was probably the biggest highlight of the week? Man, sometimes a gal just needs a grilled cheese sandwich to get by. How did I forget this basic staple when needing a little pick me up?

A huge tropical storm is paying LA a visit as you read this, but should clear up on Saturday just in time for the remainder of the weekend. Given that mine broke up with me (for lack of use I’m sure), this would probably be a good time to buy a new umbrella. We might actually have a rainy winter ahead. It’s rained twice already this month…must be a record.

Naturally, the one Friday night I have plans, clear across town no-less, it’s raining cats and dogs, but should be fun. I’m headed to a holiday dinner party with my boyfriend tonight hoping to find similar ecstasy like that grilled cheese, but haven’t a clue what’s for dinner. Otherwise, the weekend will find me uncharacteristically anxious to get through it and then past the next 4 working days….so I can take a break from life. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend! And stay dry. x

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 Image credit: “Christmas Lights at Night” by Thomas Quine used under CC BY.

Highlights

The GROVE TREE ATG FINAL{Where Angelenos go for Christmas Cheer, The Grove, for the 100-foot tall tree and lights everywhere!}

December is off to a chaotic start to say the least, but luckily I’m only 2 weeks away from some much-needed downtime. It’s been helpful to lean on the holiday season to make my way through. Christmas music does wonders during chaos!

LA had its first real bout of rain in ages this week. It’s been so long since we’ve had this much rain, that I’d completely forgotten how much my hair doesn’t like it! I’m willing to be a trooper about it though…in the name of our drought situation. I enjoy the rain – especially when it happens to arrive on a day that I can stay home and curl up with my Kindle or my Netflix queue and a cup of tea (as opposed to having to deal with the eternal nightmare that the 405 becomes until the roads dry again). The caveat to all of this, is that whenever it rains for more than a few days, I can also feel myself emotionally changing. Aside from my hair not being a fan of the rain, I also forget how much my body thrives on Vitamin D. It’s a stern reminder that I’m a total SoCal gal. If I don’t get some sun after a couple of days, I can feel my mood take a complete nosedive. As such, it pretty much solidifies that I won’t survive many other places in the world with actual weather. I’m stuck here.

Unfortunately, the holidays have become a rough time of year for me as I’ve gotten older, but I do still try to channel as much of what makes this season special. Aside from Christmas music, it’s always helpful to head to The Grove to walk around marveling at how they transform a simple shopping center into a stunning holiday oasis (pictures don’t do the place justice). This was certainly a big highlight since we caught up last.

Another highlight had to be a rainy Tuesday night in North Hollywood. If you’re looking for a great film out right now, I saw Whiplash earlier this week with a girlfriend and it blew my mind away. It’s aptly titled, given that you literally feel like you have a case of “Whiplash” when you leave the theater after following Andrew’s harrowing musical journey. It’s one of the most intense films I’ve seen in a while that stays with you days later. It will certainly be in my top 10 films of the year. Bravo to everyone involved!

The weekend ahead will be low-key. I don’t have any plans as of writing time, and that’s a-okay with me.

Have a great weekend! x

Bo Nuage ATG FINAL

{Admiring the pastry case at Bo Nuage…}

Bo Nuage Red Velvet ATG FINAL

{…then indulging in their Red Velevet Meringue Cake. Yum!}

Whiplash ticket ATG FINAL

{It’s been 3 days and I still have “Whiplash.”}

Dalai lama Quote ATG FINAL{The writing on the wall (literally)…in a public bathroom. I loved these words.}

 

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11 Questions for Thanksgiving

I came across Dr. Karen Horneffer-Gitner’s Huffington Post article, 20 Questions for Thanksgiving, last week and was instantly inspired to play along. In it, she shares how instead of asking the very cliché “What are you thankful for?” question in an effort to create meaningful dialog with her family on Thanksgiving (which usually prompted equally cliché answers) she’d ask more specific and challenging questions about gratitude to help develop an engaging conversation.

I absolutely loved this idea. Around Thanksgiving, I usually blog about what I’m grateful for in life, and it seems to sound pretty similar year-to-year: my health, loved ones, etc. Of course, these things are still of great importance to me that would make any gratitude list again and again. As I read through some of her questions, I thought I would take a different approach this year. I selected 11 out of her 20 questions (some of which I actually did have to spend quite a bit of time thinking about!) and answered them below.

This will be my last post for the week. If you’re anything like me, you plan to be as far away from the internet as possible for the next few days….and in front of a plate of food! Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll see you in December…


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11 Questions for Thanksgiving_ATG FINAL NOVEMBER 2014_part 3 (2)

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Highlights

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I look at this image and it pretty much sums up how I feel at the moment, soon embarking down a new path – while still trying to take in the beauty and enjoy the journey as you walk toward the fog unknown.

So, you might have noticed that I was M.I.A. for two weeks prior to my last post (on what had to be the bright spot since we last caught up, my time at the AFI Film Festival). Rather than go into the details as to why, I’ll leave it at that it’s because they’ve been pretty lousy weeks if I’m at all honest. I’m definitely at a proverbial crossroads in my life. I realize that when things aren’t going so well, it’s probably a good time as ever to sit down and write about it to help give you perspective and get things off your chest, but I often struggle with how much to share and how much to keep private here, particularly when you take into account that once you put something out into the blogosphere, you never know how it might come back to bite you in the ass. As such, I’ve taken the approach of usually writing about the lesson learned, or what the universe is trying to tell me through whatever difficulty, and perhaps my feelings about it, rather than go into specifics. It just works for me.

It didn’t help that I got sick during this time, but as I look back over it now that I’ve (nearly) recovered, it wasn’t a surprise. I don’t get sick too often, but when I do, it typically takes place around a time of immense stress for me. I think my immune system likely takes a bit of a nose dive, I’m likely not eating enough or right, and therefore become more susceptible to not being able to fight off a simple virus that I would otherwise kick the crap out of. Though it always sucks to be home sick, I actually welcomed it with open arms this time around. I was actually grateful to be lying in bed for 3 days straight nursing a cold because it immediately put things in perspective. (It was also a productive time to get through my Netflix queue). It finally got my mind off the things that were bothering me, and forced me to focus on taking care of myself and getting some rest. In other words, it forced me to be present. It also made me realize that while I think the aforementioned situation that’s been bugging me still sucks, it’s not worth further jeopardizing my health over.

Add in the fact that I think anyone who has a passion for blogging (or whatever your choice passion may be), also goes through phases of complete burnout and lack of inspiration, and it’s almost required of you to take a step back and regroup. My only regret was that I didn’t say so before I took that break (sorry!). I’m still here…for the time being.

The good news is that things are starting to turn around for the better, mostly because I’ve learned to accept the situation (after much moping about it) and then because I decided to do something about it (once I stopped moping about it), which is quite empowering. You know that old saying along of the lines of: accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you can?

Well, I’m decidedly changing them.

I’m grateful that I’m at least in a situation where I can. I’m pretty nervous about it, I admit. It’ll be a journey to get where I’m trying to go and likely a bumpy one, but what I know for sure is that it’s time to take it. I’ve gotten my sign. I only hope that I remember to try to see the beauty in it, trust my instincts, and enjoy it. Somehow this black and photo I came across while looking for the perfect image to go with this post makes me feel more confident about taking new paths.

It’s my first weekend back in the swing of things since the last two found me at the festival one weekend, and home sick last weekend. I’m looking forward to it.

Have a nice weekend! x

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 Image credit: “Un instant magique” by Fan.D & Dav.C Photography used under CC BY.

Talk About Scary!

Happy Halloween ATG FINAL 3


Happy Halloween, One and All!

The last day of the week, of the month, and of the rest of 2014, as we know it, is here. The countdown to the end of the year starts now, and that’s because from here on out, it’s just one thing after another. Go-go-go, celebrate-celebrate-celebrate season is here. I’m excited! Yet, it’s a bit overwhelming to realize that I distinctly remember what I was doing a year ago on this exact day. As cliché as this saying has become: “time flies!” And this is certainly the case from now until just after the new year if you ask me. Talk about scary!

That aforementioned cliché expression comes with some of my favorites things to do that seemingly pile up into the last two months of the year: the AFI Film Festival, my boyfriend’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas (which comes with a much-needed and very welcome record 20-day holiday break this year – yay!), New Year’s, then an anniversary with said boyfriend. Not to mention that FINALLY the better caliber and more Oscar-worthy films flood the market.

(Why the industry waits until the end/most expensive time of year to further suck money that you already don’t have to see the good stuff, I’ll never understand.)

Needless to say, I can’t wait for the festivities ahead, but no need to rush. Time will get us there…whether we like it or not.

So, let’s focus on the situation at hand.

I’m looking forward to another low-key Halloween this year. I don’t get Trick-or-Treaters….and this is beyond a-okay with me. (That means more candy for me!) Tonight, as of writing time, the plan is dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, followed by a scary movie marathon at home. However, this is totally dependent upon how Google Maps looks later this evening. I’m quite concerned about how much more congested my beloved LA streets will be as the sun sets. Seeing as how it’s not only Halloween, but Friday night, I don’t anticipate that I’ll get very far in my car, which isn’t how I’d like to spend my Halloween. Therefore, this plan might quickly change to ordering pizza over a scary movie marathon. Whatever plan we go with, sounds perfect to me.

Whether tonight finds you decked out at a party, home with someone special, or in bed early because you hate Halloween, have a great time!

Take a deep breath, the seasonal craze is upon us. Talk about scary!

Have a lovely weekend…

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Image source:
Happy Halloween Theme” by Ariom P, used under CC BY / Modification: text added to original.