Saturday, December 31, 2011

California Christmas and Babies Galore

It had been a long time since I had been to Los Angeles, though I'm glad I at least got to see California in April.  But since I didn't get to spend Christmas with my family last year, I needed to see them this year.

Truth be told, this whole holiday season just crept up on me.  For the first time in a long time, I wasn't prepared with presents for all my friends and co-workers, and it was just really hard to get into the holiday spirit in general.

Regardless, it was awesome to be home.

Except that everyone is constantly asking me when I plan to move back.  It makes me sad to not have an answer, because I really want to have one that will satisfy them all.  But for now I'm on the East, and I'll still be bicoastal.

Christmas Deliciousness
My mom decorating the little tree with ginormous ornaments
We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day up in the Bay Area with my sister, since she had to work that weekend.  My brother was in the Philippines with his girlfriend, so it still felt like an incomplete Christmas. 

But we did have our two doggies with us, since they're both a hassle to dog sit.  They're also a hassle to have in a car.
Charlie trying to be a lap dog.
Other than spending time with my family, one big draw for going home is to have some home-cooked Filipino food.  My mom cooked pancit, lumpia, and mechado over the weekend.  I was an extremely happy camper.
serious food coma for like 24 hours...
On Christmas Day, I visited a childhood friend and her 2 adorable babies.  It was great to see them, and to interact with her younger child who I had only seen as an infant.  It was amazing to see them both talking away and interacting with me like they've known me all this time.  Truth be told, these 2 kids would be a huge reason for me to move back.  I've always hated the idea that one of my best friend's kids wouldn't know me.  So it was comforting to know that they were so comfortable around me from the get-go.

Oh, she also fed me some delicious Columbian food.  I ate my way through Christmas.  It was fantastic.

Disneyland and California Adventure
How could I go to California and NOT visit a Disney park?  Seriously.
Occupy Disneyland
It was great to hang out with friends I haven't seen in too long a time as well as meet some new awesome people.

Unfortunately, it was CRAZY BUSY!!! I mean, it was packed.  I should have known better, I suppose, to have chosen a day between Christmas and New Years.  But, we still managed to hit up all the awesome rides, including Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and the Hollywood Tower of Terror.
so simple...yet the laughing and screaming are so fun!
And I got to feast on some delicious Mickey Mouse Pancake action.
I'm pretty sure it's more delicious because it's so happy.
It was definitely a highlight to finally ride the new Little Mermaid ride, though I'm personally of the belief that the ride could have been an awesome water ride.
 Then!!! I got to meet Ariel!!
She asked me about my outfit (which was clearly
all Little Mermaid-ed out). We chatted a bit about fashion,
as two mermaids would.
Gotta love that Princess pose...
How funny is it that the two celebrities I geek out about are redheads?  Those Gingers are awesome, what can I say?

It was such a great day, even if my poor legs were exhausted and tense for the next 2 days.  Good times all around.

So, I had already talked about one of my best friend's babies and how awesome they are.  But I also got to meet two other friends' little ones for the first time.  One of them was about 2 months old, and the second one was about 14 months.

It was funny to me that this trip to California was like a baby tour.  But I'm so very proud of my friends who are raising mini-humans.  All their babies are beautiful, and I'm excited to see what their personalities will be like as they grow up and experience life.


Leaving California is always hard.  Leaving the warmth and the love from my friends and family there is hard.  But I guess I'm just not ready to leave the adventure of the cold cold of New England.  Nor am I ready to say goodbye to my friends and adoptive family here.

Til next time, California.

Tori Amos at The Orpheum 12-6-11

As a Tori fan, I feel like I should know exactly how many of her concerts I've been to.  But my best guess is that I've seen her at least 5 or 6 times.  But now, I can say without a doubt that I've met her 3 times.
I was SO late to work...but it was worth standing outside for so long...
She had some tall boots on!
She's actually a bit shorter than me, as evidenced by my other Tori post.
I had brought her some pearl hair clips that I made for her and Tash, and she seemed to really like them.  I asked her about her shoes, which were some really cute wedge boots (a style I've been trying to look for!).  She then proceeded to tell me that she got them in L.A. (which I squealed about and told her it was my hometown) at the Nordstroms in The Grove.  She then lifted her foot and asked me to see if there was a logo on the bottom, but since there wasn't she took her shoe off (!!!) and told me they were from Steven.  I couldn't believe she took off her shoe just to tell me that!  

Then, I naturally had to ask her about what her thoughts were on the Occupy Movement and other movements around the world.  She talked about how the Native Americans have been talking about the similar issues for so long.  She also said that she thinks things will get worse before they get better, especially with the way things have been moving towards.  But, she said, I will be in charge of reminding her and others, as well as she has the responsibility to remind me and others about the need for change.

So cool.

This time around, I got to see the show with other folks who I adore and who also love Tori.  It had definitely been a while since I got to see Tori with a friend, much less multiple friends!

The show was, of course, amazing.  Here's the list of songs she played with some choice pictures I captured:
Shattering Sea
Way Down
Snow Cherries From France
Ruby Through the Looking Glass
1000 Oceans

Nautical Twilight
Star Whisperer

Mrs. Jesus
Not the Red Baron
Someone Saved My Life Tonight

Your Ghost
Edge of the Moon

Tori was amazing.  Having the string quartet with her was amazing.  There was definitely a couple of tears shed at this concert.  It's amazing that she always chooses songs that are extremely significant for me in the moment. 

Thank goodness for Tori Amos and her music.

Bit O' Catch-Up - Break-Ups, Thanksgiving in NYC, and Moving

This time, I'm absolutely not pulling your leg when I say that it's been a really crazy busy month.  So, I'm going to attempt to succinctly tell you all about my Thanksgiving in New York as well as other significant life events.

Ready? Go!

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do...Except When It's Harder Not To...
In a way, I wasn't really expecting it since I thought my situation with the boyfriend was improving.  But, it was kind of a long time coming.  I honestly don't know (except that I do, and it's not anything I would post about here) why it took so long for me to follow through on this.  At the end of the day, I'm so much better for it.

Thanksgiving in NYC
Being that I couldn't spend Thanksgiving with the now-ex and because I was kind of anticipating some distance between us, I was happy to have already planned to see my best friend in New York for Thanksgiving.

We had a low key evening of cooking, but celebrated by going to see The Muppets movie.
Fall in New York is Better with Good Company
Had some Turkey at Whole Foods earlier that day,
but had a really healthy veggie dinner later...
of course with some pecan pie...
We could only be with each other for a short less-than-48 hours, so I had to leave the next morning.  But she introduced me to this delicious place called Doughnut Plant, which is one hell of a step up from Dunkin' Donuts.
They have flavors like...TRES LECHES!!!! f*&^ing amazing...
(picture from Leti)
I definitely took some to go with their home-made chai
Moving On and Moving Forward
It was tough and honestly really scary to know that I had to uproot my life once again.  It's like I keep getting myself into the same situation, hoping for a better end result.  It's the definition of crazy.

But when I had my lowest of lowest days at the end of November, December started to really show me that things can get better.

I had so much trouble finding a new place to live, and I was conflicted about staying in Brighton, which is where I had basically been since I've been in Boston.  Part of me knew that I needed a clean break and moving to a new part of town seemed like the best way to do it.

Eventually, I did find a place and couldn't believe my luck when I realized I had cool landladies and roommate.  I had never been so excited to pick up a key.
opening up to new beginnings
But never had I been so sad to leave behind all that I did.
some of the last of my things
Particularly, I am still feeling devastated to have left Mencken.  It was clear that we had to do what we did - Yoni is much more bonded to me and Mencken to him.  But Mencken was my baby boy.  I found him on Craigslist.  I know that cats adjust a lot quicker than humans do to new situations.  But can you really blame me for wishing to have them both with me or at least with each other?  I am so happy to have Yoni, though.

So, now I'm at my new place, and I have been since December 17th.  I'm lucky to know some amazing people who helped me transport my ridiculous amount of possessions to Jamaica Plain.  Anyone who helps you move is definitely owed some serious favors.  I literally owe those people my life and then some.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Las Vegas Get-Away - October 2011

What Happens in Vegas...Gets Blogged About!
I'm not much of a gambler, though I can't say I'm very good with money to begin with.  But this trip to Las Vegas was something I desperately needed at the time, more so than I realized.

This trip was sponsored by my night job, and I was looking forward to hanging with some of the amazing ladies of the company.  It was guaranteed to be a relatively good time, though I didn't know what to expect as I hadn't been to Vegas in quite a long time.

In trips like this, where there are so many travelers involved, I think it's good to establish the different expectations from each travel companion.  I was lucky to already enjoy the company of my roommate/sister, but I still wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We both decided that getting some Vitamin D by the pool as well as seeing several shows were our main objectives.  I was excited for a chance to see Cirque du Soleil's "The Beatles LOVE" again.

Staying on The Strip
It's overrated, in my opinion.  I mean, I guess it helps to be a guest at one of the hotels if you plan on hitting up one of the clubs.  We found that if you are lounging by the pool, some promoter's bitch will be coming around handing out free "VIP" passes to all the ladies sitting around.  I guess that's a specific benefit when you're staying at one of the hotels on the Strip.

But, at the end of the day, the hotels are just a place to crash for the most part.

We were shacked up at The Luxor, which isn't one of the fancier hotels, but it's decent.
At the Sphinx
One of the main issues that I had with Vegas was all the indoor smoking.  Sorry if you're a smoker, but I just am not a fan.  It became so unbearable at times.  The smell stays in my hair, in my nostrils, in my clothes.  And I had some really cute outfits.  But I felt dirty all the time.
Pyramid and Palms
Another perk of staying on the Strip, and specifically at The Luxor (since I can't speak for the other hotels) are the specials you get just by staying there.  We got a different phone message every day for a different special.  One that we took advantage of was the cheaper spa packages.  These specials, coupled with another chance for cheaper entertainment, was definitely a BIG perk of staying on the Strip.

There's Always a Catch
On our first day there, we got roped into one of those timeshare demonstrations.  This was really the first time I had ever taken one of those tours, especially since I wouldn't even be able to afford something like that any time soon.  But there was a very specific benefit.

For $200, we got a bunch of vouchers.  We ended up with cheap tickets to see "LOVE" and "Menopause The Musical," vouchers for meals at The Luxor, and vouchers for the Nurture Spa at The Luxor.

It was great to get a massage for so much cheaper than the actual price!

But, we were at the timeshare demonstration for most of the day, which was alright since we were both pretty tired from the traveling.  My roomie ended up going for a timeshare, but then cancelled it later in the week.

Still, because of her short-lived purchase, we got a limo ride not only back to the hotel but to In N Out!!!  It was perhaps one of the coolest In N Out experiences I've had to date.

Buffet After Buffet
We had vouchers for 4 buffet meal at the Luxor as part of our travel package.  The buffet at the Luxor was fairly decent, with their "international" diversity of Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and American foods.  The best part of the buffet was the various types of dessert!! Also, if you got there a little bit before lunchtime, you got some of the breakfast options, which I was super excited about.

My roomie and I also used our meal vouchers from the timeshare demonstration to go to the fancy steakhouse at the Luxor called TENDER.  The meat was delicious, especially since it was free-range beef.  But it was nice to go to a fancy steakhouse, since I don't really get to do that very often at all.
A little Proseco action
Strange yet fascinating use of the horns
Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
I was even more excited about some of the other options that were available to me on this side of the country.

As the plane was landing, it was almost comforting to see the flat landscape of the Vegas desert.  But then it suddenly dawned on me that In N Out was in Vegas!  I'm pretty sure I let out a little squeal of joy.

I am also pleased to report that I was able to have a delicious sausage from Pink's as well as the ever-sought-after Orange Julius!  There was really too much deliciousness.  Just looking at these pictures makes my belly happy.
never been so happy to have a cup in my hand!
Sun-Soaking and Shows
Like I mentioned earlier, my roomie and I agreed that lounging pool-side and seeing several shows would be the main focus of our Vegas trip.

Sitting poolside was really quite nice, even when the desert wind got slightly chillier.  The hot sun was extremely pleasant, and it was difficult to hear about the snow storm that hit Boston the day before we were to fly back.
soak it up
Somehow, one of the lifeguards decided he was going to take a liking to one of the women in our group.  Then it suddenly moved on to me, though I tried to make it clear that I wasn't interested.  However, being the nice and naive person I am, I ended up giving the kid my number just in case he had some hookup to a cool club or something.  Well, that bit me in the ass, because he was soon trying to meet up with me for the rest of the week.  This child was 20 years old.  He wouldn't have been able to stand on the casino floor, much less take me out!!! And yet, he still offered to buy me...breakfast...Hahahahaha! It was sweet..but not really what I came to Vegas for.

Between the cheaper tickets from the timeshare demonstration and the shows that were part of our travel package, we literally saw a different show almost every night we were out.  Lemme break down all the shows we saw.
Sunday to Thursday
Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE
Utterly amazing.  The first time I got to see the show, I was with my family and I was sitting closer to the stage.  This time, we got seats that were much higher up, but the views were still spectacular.  Cirque du Soleil knows how to put on a damn good show, and they really did The Beatles justice with this one.  This show gives me chills every time.
rainbow walkway to the theater
posing with The Beatles
After the show, you can feel the love
the Revolution Lounge
It took way too much work to get this picture...
but it was worth it :)
Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity
Holy crap.  This show was absolutely amazing and super sexy.  There were so many hot bodies, hot dance routines, and lots of grinding.  It was orgasmic, really.  This is definitely another show I would want to see again and again.  If you sit close enough, you get to interact a bit with the performers.  If you're to close, you might get pulled into the acts!

I have only 2 warnings about this show.  If you are in any way closed-minded or not open to various and inclusive sexual acts, you will be squeamish - but you should still see the show!!!  After the show, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, suddenly looks super attractive and you just want to make out with everyone.

Consider yourself warned.

Comedy Show at Brad Garrett's Comedy Club
This show was included in our travel package.  The comedians were great!  There was definitely a lot of laughter, and I always have given comedians tons of credit for having the balls to get up there and recite a couple of lines.

But I also felt really bad for these comedians.  The group that I was with is a group of very out-spoken, very loud, and very proud group of women.  By virtue of being who we were, we often became the highlight of each of the comedians' acts.  At some point, I realized that we as a group had taken over the entire show.  While many of the women don't mind being the center of attention, at some point, I could feel the disapproval of the others in the audience, and I worried it would then translate to disapproval of the comedians.  Their job is hard enough without having a bunch of loud women taking over their show.

But overall, I had a great time and at least the comedians had a lot of material they could use on us.

Menopause The Musical
I had heard a lot of great things about this show.  Being that it's a part of the life cycle, I actually don't know too much about the process.  I was hoping to gain a lot more insight beyond the standard stereotypes I hear all the time.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Paige O'Hara was playing one of the main characters.  Do you know who that is?!?!?! Paige (mutha-flippin') O'Hara is the voice of Disney's Belle!!! As a Disney geek, I was beyond excited about this!  It was awesome to be so close to her!

When my friend and I first got there, we had a slight seating issue.  For some reason, these ladies in our row would not move down a seat, when clearly we all had assigned seats.  I don't know why they couldn't just lift their asses and move on was pissing us off.  But the show started, and we still hadn't figured out our seating arrangement.

At first, we moved to a row behind the women but soon the ladies who had those seats arrived.  We explained our situation to the usher, who had this very deep booming voice.  Though he at first explained that those ladies should have moved, he then moved us to the front row of our section!  I wanted to turn around and be like, "YEEAAAHHHH, BITCHES!!!!" But I figured that would be in poor taste.

But back to the show.  It was incredibly funny, and the reworking of popular songs to fit the situations was great!  Some of the songs barely needed a change at all!  I highly recommend this musical comedy.  It's extremely insightful and honest and downright humorous.

Tournament of Kings at Excalibur
This final show was another part of our travel package.  I had never been to any of these Medieval Knights-style shows, so I was looking forward to this.  We were seated in the Spain section of the room, right in the center.  Pretty darn good seats.
that mead tasted a lot like Pepsi...
The show was a lot of fun.  We had to cheer on our country's King, and there were a series of games they got to play with each other.  I'm pretty sure many of these "Kings" also moonlight as private dancers in other clubs on the Strip.

It seemed like a decent night for dinner and a show.  It soon began to dawn on me that this was our final night.  I had barely done any gambling, though like I said in the beginning I'm not much of a gambler.

What Happens in Vegas...Should Be Considered Before Getting There...
We were in Vegas for a week.  A week!  Truth be told, you can do Vegas in 4 days max.  Have a plan for what you want to do in Vegas, be it seeing shows, visiting the different hotels like they were museums, soaking up some sun, or hitting the clubs.

I got to go to the two clubs at our hotel, get a couple of cheaper drinks, and dance a bit with some handsome French guy.  So I won't complain about that.  I even got to see Twista do his thing at the Luxor's LAX club.
Goodness..he looks far..but he was really close to us!
He even touched my friend!
I think I had a pretty well-rounded trip to Vegas.  I didn't get too crazy drunk, I only lost about $60 on the machines, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any really bad pictures of me floating around the interwebs.  I got to get a tan, see some amazing shows, and make some life-long friends with people I already considered my sisters.

Though I was glad to get the hell out of the smokey air, I was sad to leave the bubble of awesome that is created when I'm with those ladies.  I can see why they enjoy going on yearly trips with each other.  Next stop is London in 2013.  I'm not sure yet if I'm going, but I know I wouldn't regret it if I did.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Toesies of the Month - October and November 2011

Well, with October and November being what it is, I've slacked on posting my pedi's.  Luckily, I didn't slack on actually getting them done.

In the past 2 months, I've gotten pedicures as a mental preparation for some trips I was planning to take.
Designed by Kim at City Nails & Spa, South End, MA
Color:  OPI - Miso Happy With This Color & Essie - As Gold As It Gets
Occasion:  Las Vegas Trip
October 2011
close up of the detail
I really liked this pedicure.  I don't think I've ever gotten such a light pinky color on my toes before.  I have to admit, they looked pretty awesome amidst the palm trees in Vegas (I'll be writing about Vegas soon).
poolside at the Luxor
October's pedicure lasted a really good long while.  In fact, I probably didn't need to get another pedicure for November.  But, I needed to trade in my summer colors for a more fall color scheme.
Designed by Chan at City Nails & Spa, South End, MA
Color: China Glaze - Westside Warrior
Occasion: Thanksgiving
November 2011
These colors felt more appropriate for a trip to New York City for Thanksgiving (I will write about this soon as well!). It was actually kind of funny to watch this nail technician try to imitate her own nail design.  It seemed that she kept confusing herself because she tried to mirror what she had, but on my toes.

This is also one of the few times when I chose a nail color that was more matte.  I know I'm behind on this trend, but I've always liked the more sparkley colors.  But I love this shade of green, so naturally this made sense to me.

I actually realized as she was putting the color on that I will have to change my pedicure color to a French Tip for a show I'm going to be in.  I'm a little bummed that I didn't think about it early enough, but I'm not too bummed about another pedicure in a couple of weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful 4 - Besties

Even though we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like to, it's always the best thing ever to see my best friend.  We're such opposites sometimes, but we complement each other perfectly.  We have the best time when we're together.  I'm so lucky that she's on the East Coast, even if it is a different city.

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