The Year is Half Over, What Have You Done?

On Saturday I woke up to the realization that the year is half over. And what have I done?

Well, I’ve had a lot of fun.

I’ve been to a bunch of Happy Hours with my girlfriends. (I almost never go out to dinner, but I am the queen of Happy Hour.)

I’ve done some cool hikes with my husband.

Sunday we went here.

Malibu hike Charmlee Wilderness Park
A beautiful hike through Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu

I’ve been to a bunch of concerts and country music festivals.

Brandy Clark. Coastal Country Jam featuring Jake Owen. Jay Nash, Tony Lucca & Matt Duke. (OMG – if you have a chance to see these guys – just one or all three together DO IT. They are amazing.) Stagecoach. U2. Oakheart Festival. Boots and Brews.

U2 Joshua Tree Tour Stage
U2 Joshua Tree Tour. I’ve seen U2 at least 10 times. I’d gladly see them 1,000 more.

Four festivals and three concerts are more shows that some people will see in a lifetime I realize, but those are not my people. God that sounded super assholey, didn’t it? That was not my intent. I’m super grateful to have gone to these shows. And I’ve got more on the way this year.

Hall & Oates with Tears for Fears (OMG!) Adam Ant (OMFG!) Green Day (Finally!) Thomas Rhett with Old Dominion & Walker Hayes (Cannot effing wait). And something called Retro Futura with Howard Jones, the English Beat and a bunch of other 80’s throwbacks. (Bought for a steal on Groupon – going with Dave and the kids. Should be a blast.)

So yes, it has been and will be a good year for music. Because live music more than anything is what makes me feel so alive. And young. (Seriously, so fucking young.)

And fun is great. Important, even. But I have goals this year that I have not achieved. I wanted to interview more artists like I did last year with Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion and Matthew Nelson of Nelson. But I haven’t. Because that takes effort and I’ve been busy with a new(ish) job and life and just trying to keep all my balls in the air.

You know. Like everyone else.

I’ve only written seven blog posts all year. And maybe two newsletters (which you should totally sign up for because I obviously won’t overwhelm your inbox and you get a free book. Or rather bookette).

I did write this piece for my friend Jessica’s blog that I’m quite proud of, but only because she asked. And really. It was just a reworking of a piece I’d already written.

And my WIP – the sequel to Frosted Cowboy. LOFuckingL. I have an outline (ish). It’s actually a great story (at least that’s what everyone I’ve told the plot to says), even better than the first. And I’ve written some of it, obviously. But. But. What?

I’m just busy.

And lazy.

And so damn scared.

Because writing is so hard. And what if it’s terrible? (And like any first draft, it is so terrible.)

So, sure. I’ve had some goals. But I haven’t really had a plan. And  A goal without a plan is just a wish. I read that on Pinterest. Or maybe it was Twitter. One of those very philosophical websites.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Saturday as I was cleaning that pile off my dining room table I came across an article I ripped out of Sunset Magazine by Anne Lamott called Time lost and found. And even though I was “so busy” and I’ve read it at least a dozen times before, I knew that this article about finding time to write was exactly what I needed and I sat down and read it again and it made me cry.

Because Anne Lamott knows the truth.

It’s so easy to make excuses. To be too busy to write. Busy job. Busy social life. Keeping all those balls in the air.

I’m not going to stop going to concerts or hiking with my husband or (god forbid) Happy Hour.

But what if I didn’t work through lunch every day. Or let one of those balls drop? (Or two? Or three? Or four?)

What if when I get up at 5AM (and I do, every single day) I actually write a blog post? Or contact a musician’s publicist? Or stopped being so scared to tackle my WIP?

Maybe in six month’s time – when the year is completely over, I’ll have done more than just have fun. More than just work. I’ll have created.

And my year will be one that was not half-lived.

 

*The quote “A goal without a dream is just a wish” is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery (but you can find it on Pinterest). 

 

 

Save Money with Groupon Coupons

Who doesn’t love a good Groupon? From wine tasting to checking out that new restaurant in town to treating yourself to a massage or booking a last minute getaway, Groupon has become the standard for saving money on experiences.

But did you know that Groupons can also be used for retail shopping? It’s true! Groupon has recently partnered with nearly ten thousand (10,000!!!) national retailers to introduce their latest service called Groupon Coupons. (Catchy, right?)

Groupon Coupons is a free service (that’s right, FREE), that helps you find coupons, discounts and special promo codes for both on-line and in-store shopping.

Heading out to Bed Bath and Beyond and can’t locate your latest 20% off coupon? Go to groupon.com/coupons & type “Bed Bath & Beyond” in the search bar and BOOM there are printable coupons for BB&B or online codes if you prefer not to leave the house.

Groupon Coupons features coupons for just about every store you’ve heard of. Whether you like shopping on the high end at J.Crew or Bloomingdales or prefer bargain shopping at Kmart or JC Penny, Groupon Coupon has a deal for you.

Groupon Coupons also features coupons for stores you might not be familiar with, like EyeBuy Direct, which lets you “try on” discounted eye wear only online. Check this out:

 

try on glasses online
Now I look as smart as I feel when I shop with Groupon Coupon!

 

And you can even side-by-side compare how different styles look on you.

Eyebuy compare glasses
Um, I think the Muse and the Brighton are a NOPE!

 

And since you can shop the site by store name or by category it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Groupon Coupon Category
Please excuse my fuzzy screenshot.

So the next time you’re shopping online do yourself (and your wallet) a favor by checking out Groupon Coupon before you hit checkout. (You totally noticed my clever word play there, right?)

 

*This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own. I mean seriously, how smart do I look in those cool blue glasses?

My Girlfriend got Vajazzled on Groupon

Throwback Thursday. This was originally posted on skirt.com on January 3, 2011.

 

“You cannot blog about this,” my girlfriend said when we met a few weeks ago for drinks.

 

“Blog about what?” I asked innocently.

 

“This story I’m about to tell you. But I’ll only tell you if you promise not to blog about it.”

 

Shit, I hate when my friends make me promise that. They only make me promise that when the story is really, really good.

 

“What if I promise not to use your name and swear to never tell a living soul your true identity?”

 

She rolled her eyes and let out a deep breath. “Fine! But if you tell anyone it was me I will deny it and then I will fucking kill you.”

 

Awesome, this story’s gonna be good.

 

She took a look around the bar and moved in a bit closer to me, “Last week before Jake* and I went away for our anniversary I got vajazzled.”

 

I almost choked on my olive. “What the hell is vajazzled?” I asked even though I was pretty sure I already knew.

 

“Vajazzling is just like bedazzling, but for your whoo whoo.”  she said.

 

That’s right – my girlfriend had bling bling applied to her vajay-jay!

 

“No freaking way! Where did you get it done?”

 

“That’s actually the funny part of the story. I saw it advertised on one of those Groupon sites. Well, it wasn’t Groupon, but one of those sites just like it. The description went on and on about the esthetician and how experienced she was and blah blah blah and since we were going out of town for our anniversary I thought it would be a fun surprise.”

 

“And was it?” I asked.

 

“Uh, yeah!” she answered again with the eye roll. “But wait, that’s not the story. So I call the number on the certificate and some dude answers the phone. ‘Hello,’ he says. No, Vajazzling by Virginia or Bling Bling Whoo Whoos R Us, just ‘Hello.’

 

“I’m thinking to myself, what the hell kind of shady place is this that some dude is answering the esthetician’s phone and not even giving the business name? I’ve never gotten a wax without a referral and now I buy one on a local website and it’s totally shady. I was so shocked I didn’t even reply. I’m thinking to myself that I don’t want to do it and wondering if I can get my money back and the dude again says, ‘Hello?’

 

“So I just stammer, ‘Uh I think I dialed the wrong number. I was trying to call my sister.’ and hung up the phone. I don’t know why I said that, I was just so flustered and so embarrassed. I mean I didn’t want to say, ‘Hi, I was calling to get a wax and vajazzle’ to some dude who just answers the phone Hello.

 

“Did you just misdial?” I asked her.

 

“No.” she said. “I was hoping I did, but I checked the number on the certificate and I definitely did not misdial. I was too embarrassed to call back since I gave that line about calling my sister so I figured I’d just call back the next day and hopefully she’d answer her own freaking phone.

 

“The next day I call back and I get a voicemail message from the dude. It’s not even her phone! What the hell kind of services is this off-brand-Groupon site selling? I mean I can tell by the address that it’s on a commercial street and not some residence so I’m totally confused by the whole phone thing. Obviously there’s some kind of mistake.

 

“So I sit down at my computer to check the certificate online to see if maybe there is a correction on the number. There isn’t. Then I check 411.com and see if I can find the number that way – not listed. Great! So I call 411 and it’s not listed there either.

 

“Now I’m weighing my options – do I call the dude back and see if it is the right number and if it is do I want to be waxed by some chick who doesn’t even have her own phone or do I write an email to the site telling them I want my money back.

 

“Then the 411 operator asks if I know where the business is and he can maybe look it up that way. I give him the address and luckily he was able to find the number that way. The waxing chick rents a space out of a salon and uses her cell phone which is why I couldn’t find the number. Fortunately it’s a salon I’d actually heard of with a good reputation. And it was a mistake – the site did have her number wrong.”

 

“So is it still there?” I asked. “Can I see it?”

 

“No it’s gone. But what did you want me to do, lift up my skirt and show you and the rest of the bar?” she snorted.

 

“Well, I was thinking of going into the bathroom,” I said seriously. I mean, I was pretty curious. “What did it look like?”

 

She laughed. “I got little crystals that said ‘Wild’ and a little pink heart.”

 

“No way! Would you do it again?”

 

“Yeah, I’d totally do it again. Maybe for Valentine’s Day. But like I said, you cannot blog about this.”

 

“Oh I’m blogging about it,” I told her. “But don’t worry your identity is safe with me!”

 

So those of you who know me, don’t ask me who it was – I’ll never tell!

 

*Jake is obviously not my friend’s husband’s real name!

 

Activities in LA: Battleship Iowa

I am always looking for activities in LA with my kids. Because having a 16-year-old and 12-year-old is great for help around the house and yard work. (Well, they don’t think that’s so great.) But when you are looking for a fun family activity in  Los Angeles that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Not so great.

Oh how I miss the days when I could throw a few PBJ’s and some sand toys in the car, drive to a local park, sit my butt down in a beach chair, open up my book, tell them to “go play” and call it a successful afternoon. Throw in a couple of Big Sticks from the ice cream truck and I’m Mother-of-the-Year.

Those days are long gone. I suppose I could take them to the park and play Frisbee or football with them. But I can’t imagine it (or rather me) lasting very long.

Of course there are fun and inexpensive things we can do. We can always go to the beach. (Yes, often even in the winter. Sorry east coasters!) But this time of year it’s too cold to go in the water, so they get bored quickly.

Sunset-beach
Who could ever get bored here?

 

And there are hundreds of hiking trails within a reasonable distance (and dozens mere minutes away), but Marley hates to hike and I tire of her nonstop commentary about how “hiking sucks.”

 

los-angeles-hiking-trail
It becomes hard to enjoy this beauty with a whiny tween!

 

Over the winter break when I was really scrambling for things to do with the kids (yeah, this blog is long overdue) my mom stumbled upon a Groupon for the Battleship Iowa in San Pedro. So the four of us, along with my mom, step-dad and 9-year-old nephew made plans for a Los Angeles day trip.

The Battleship Iowa, built in 1940, is one of the largest battleships ever and is now retired and turned into a museum. How big is it? Pretty big.

 

size-of-battleship-iowa
That’s a BIG ship!

 

The Iowa was an important part of the Navy fleet for five decades. It even ferried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca during World War II. It also served in the Korean War and was recommissioned to serve in the Persian Gulf in the 1980’s. The battleship has been permanently retired and is now a museum.

You take a self-guided tour through the museum, but there are plenty of guides throughout the ship -most of them veterans- to answer questions and tell you facts about the battleship.

The most impressive thing about the battleship is definitely the 16 inch guns…

 

battleship-iowa-16-inch-guns
Those are some big guns!

 

The Iowa was cool enough to keep Chandler-the-history-buff interested and there were enough places to climb and explore to keep Marley entertained. (It probably helped that she got to “be in charge” of my nephew Garrett.)

 

battleship-iowa

 

When we were done exploring the battleship we took a picnic lunch to the Korean Bell of Friendship Park.

Side note: If there is going to be a Ross Family outing you can pretty much guarantee a picnic lunch will be involved. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating out (I do) or that I’m particularly healthy (I’m not), I just don’t enjoy paying for a meal out. (I’m not cheap, just frugal poor.) And since there were seven of us on this day, and the weather was gorgeous, we decided a salami on rye with some Fritos (see not so healthy) and orange slices at a beautiful park beat a $40+ fast food or $80+ sit down meal.

 

Korean-Bell-of-Friendship
Korean Bell of Friendship (featured in the movie “The Usual Suspects”)

 

The bell and pavilion were donated in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles by the people of the Republic of Korea. The park is lovely and has an amazing ocean view. There was even a playset for Garrett to play. (And Marley to boss him around.)

 

Korean-Bell-of-Friendship-Park
What a gorgeous place for a picnic!

 

Most people would head home after spending a few hours on a battleship and then picnicking for an hour or so. But most people are not the Ross family!

I like to look in funky thrift stores and Chandler likes to poke around antique stores. We did a search for antique stores on my mom’s iPhone, but the places we found were no longer there. I did find a really cool thrift store (I like to look for clothes) but everyone quickly lost patience with me so we didn’t spend nearly enough time there.

After that we drove to Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes. It was designed by Lloyd Wright (the son of Frank Lloyd Wright) and is truly stunning.

 

Wayfarers-Chapel
Beautiful!

 

It’s a big wedding destination and a bit of a tourist trap, but I think it’s peaceful and very lovely. We met a couple who were in town from Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl game (I told you this blog was overdue) who had gotten married in the church 25 years ago. It was so sweet to hear them reminisce.

 

Wayfarers Chapel
A beautiful place for a wedding

 

After touring the church it was almost 4:00. Everyone was tired and ready to go home. We kept a 16-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old entertained (on a budget) and deemed the day a success. What a great idea by my mom. I think she just stole my title of “Mother of the Year.”

At this posting the Groupon for the Battleship Iowa is still available. To check it out click here.