Sipping in the Suburbs at Sipurbia

Last weekend was reserved for two things: unpacking my living room and going to Sipurbia. My living room has been in boxes since we had our floors redone last year and I needed to get it unpacked and put back together once and for all. (Yes, I said last year, but it was December. And I’m a busy person. So shut up.)

sunday funday at wine and beer tasting event sipurbia
Sunday Funday at #Sipurbia

 

But we were hit with an unexpected flood (I guess all floods are unexpected) due to a home plumbing repair gone wrong. So instead of returning my living room to its former glory, I spent most of the weekend mitigating the damage of the flood. Which included (but was definitely not limited to) emptying all of the books off five floor to ceiling book shelves. And then re-shelving them. (Thank you, Mom and Aunt Debbie – I couldn’t have done it without you.)

But this is not a story about the flood, or the brand new floorboards that need to be replaced (not all of them – just a few), or my disaster living room that keeps me from having company over to my house.

It’s a story about an unlimited wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia.

Because who says no to that? (Not me!)

So, on Sunday afternoon when we finished our damage control (with the help of my mom and step-dad – again, THANK YOU!), instead of tackling the living room or (you know,) resting, we decided to go to Sipurbia as we had originally planned.

Because as my mom said to me Sunday morning, “You like to do everything.” And she is not wrong. (I like to have fun.)

Sipurbia was held just a few miles away from my house at Paramount Ranch, a national park where they have filmed literally hundreds of movies and TV shows including American Sniper (which must be why my friend Karin saw Bradley Cooper in Westlake Village a few years ago, because why the hell else would he be in Westlake Village?) and HBO’s Westworld. Plus the event benefited an awesome charity called the BumbleBee Foundation, so the beer and wine weren’t the only things there to make you feel good!

Westworld Church Paramount Ranch
Selfie time in front of the Westworld church.

Because I am a nice wife I acquiesced volunteered to drive, so my wine drinking was limited, but my lucky husband’s beer drinking was unlimited. (Very unlimited – everyone was extremely generous with their pours.) My favorite wine was Cielo (so good) and Dave’s favorite beer was Santa Monica Brew Works (he thinks – remember his beer tasting was unlimited).

In addition to taking selfies, we stopped by the cutest photo booth in the world, Shutter Bus Co. and posed for some fun photo booth photos.

VW Bus Shutter Bus Co Photo Booth
Seriously, how cute is this photo booth?

 

I drank a little more wine. Dave drank a lot more beer. We shopped at the stalls and danced to the Spazmatics, which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band on the planet.

Spazmatics best 80's cover band in the world
Day drinking meets day dancing – what could be better?

 

And we ran into a bunch of our friends. Including my friend Kim (AKA Agoura Hills Mom) and her husband Stewart.

suburban friends at sipurbia
One of these days we’ll learn to take selfies without cutting half of someone’s face off. (Sorry, Kim!)

 

Who knew life in the suburbs could be so fun. (Actually, I totally knew that.)

When we were talking about our weekends at the office on Monday a twenty-two year old said to me, “You have the most fun life.” (I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m trying.)

A co-worker (much) closer to my age said, “You are always doing something. You have really embraced this age.” (I don’t know if that’s true either. But I’m trying.)

And while my house (and quite possibly my life) might be a total disaster, one thing is for sure: I’m definitely having fun.

 

 

I Just Lost It (Again)

Four years ago I participated in a six-week, Biggest-Loser-Style fitness and weight loss challenge called Just Lose It at my gym, Stevenson Fitness.

I wrote a weekly blog post about the program and my process and how terrible it all was.

Actually, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it was because it was so damn hard. (And I’m not talking about the grueling workouts or the clean eating, I’m talking about the fact that I couldn’t drink wine for six weeks!)

But it was also awesome, because I lost 12 pounds, 4.2% body fat and a whopping 13.5 inches of flab. (Almost 4 inches were from my waist!) Then I continued on working out with my teammates and eating clean(ish) and went on to lose four more pounds. I even started running (something I had never done or had any desire to do) and ran in a 10K race. Yeah, I was rockin’ it.

Weight loss results
Me, four years ago partying it up after my final weigh-in

Well. That was four years ago. I managed to keep the weight off for two years, but then. You know how it is.

Eating healthfully takes planning and that takes time and who has that?

My plantar faciitis flared up again and I was unable to workout for a few months. (What did you say? I could have ridden the bike and done upper body? I can’t hear you because I’m plugging my ears and saying, “La-la-la-la-la.” Also. Shut up.)

And I got a new job a year ago that likes to keep its employees (very) well fed. (Turns out I forgot the word “no” was in my vocabulary when it comes to treats in the breakroom.)

Also, I was drinking a lot of wine. Like, one or two (or, okay, sometimes three) glasses a night. Not every night. But let’s say if a month has 30 days, then I probably had wine 28 of those days. So, okay. Every night.

And blah and blah and blady-blah-blah-blah. (Insert reasons and excuses here.)

So that 16 pounds I lost? It slowly crept back on. With a couple more. I found myself heavier than I’d ever been except for pregnancy and postpartum. Bleh.

And even though I obsessively got on the scale every single day (so it’s not like I didn’t know), I somehow managed to convince myself it wasn’t that bad. I mean, okay, so most of my pants didn’t fit anymore, but I still wore a medium top. (And the same shoe size!)

And then I saw this picture of me and almost cried.

Shane McAnally

And I’m not talking tears of joy because I’m with Shane McAnally, Nashville’s hottest songwriter and producer. And not because my bangs are all jaggedy. (Seriously, WTF is going on there?) Because look at my face. It’s so fat. And my face is always the last place I gain weight. It’s like my body hits maximum capacity and there is nowhere else for the fat to go, so it floats up to my face.

I knew it was time to get serious and do something. And since my gym was starting another round of Just Lose It, I decided to give it another go.

But as excited as I was to participate in the program again (well, maybe excited isn’t quite the right word), I also felt  a bit of dread. Not because I had to give up my beloved wine (okay, maybe a little because of that) or because of the hard work I was going to have to put in (okay, maybe a little because of that too), but because I felt like a bit of a failure. I mean, I succeeded in this program four years ago, and here I was again, three pounds heavier than when I started the first time.

Would everyone think I was a big loser (and not the right kind) for joining this program again?

As it turns out, it was quite the opposite. What I got was encouragement. High fives, and “way to goes” and “you look great.”

We all fall down. And when we do we have a choice: sit there in the dirt and cry about our fat face (as we’re stuffing it) or stand up, dust ourselves off, and cry about the wine we’re not drinking and the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt we’re not shoveling into our gullet because our mean trainer has given us a clean eating diet and making us do hard workouts six days a week.

Okay, that was a terrible analogy, but you know what I’m saying. The real failure is not falling down. It’s not getting back up.

So for six weeks…

I got up every morning at 5AM and did a seven minute workout that at first was really, really hard and by the end was (almost) easy.

I ate clean. (Bye bye wine, dark chocolate and break room goodies, and hello chicken, chicken, more chicken, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and quinoa.)

I recorded every thing I ate and drank in a food journal. (Boy is that eye opening. If you’ve never kept a food journal, you should try it some time. You’d be amazed at how much mindless eating you do throughout the day. At least I was.)

I drank an ocean full of water. Daily.

I weight trained three days a week at 6AM (good morning!) with these awesome ladies under the guidance of our trainer, the mean, terrible, awful awesome Christy. (I do not think there was one workout that I did not whine at her. Or swear at her. Or both.)

Just-Lose-It-Workout-Program
The Iron Maidens (Yes, you are correct. We rock!)

I worked out three days a week on my own doing sadistic cardio routines created by the Just Lose It evil masterminds. (We were encouraged to do our cardio as a group, but our schedules never seemed to line up. Stupid jobs and kids.)

I went to multiple Happy Hours and only had club soda with a (teeny-tiny) splash of cranberry juice with a lime squeeze. (Make that Unhappy Hour.)

Also I stopped drinking wine. And eating chocolate. (Oh, I said that already? Sorry.)

It was terrible.

But also. It was amazing.

I felt great. (When I wasn’t achy and hungry.)

I slept great. (Turns out not drinking wine and being physically exhausted from grueling workouts helps you sleep. Who knew?)

And about half-way through, I started looking great.

In the end I lost 14.4 pounds, 6.9% body fat and 14.75 inches! (5 inches from my waist alone!!!) Even better than the first time. (Okay, okay, I had more to lose this time. But still.)

And did I mention that it was a contest? We competed as a team. (Sadly my awesome team, the Iron Maidens -great name, right?- were robbed and did not win.)

But we also competed as individuals and guess what? All that hard work, clean eating and whining about not drinking wine paid off, because I was the biggest loser of all. (Meaning, I was the winner!)

So, yes, I am a big loser. (Exactly the right kind.)

Just-Lose-It-After-Photo
Me, trying to recreate my Just Lose It post-final-weigh-in photo from 4 years ago. Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on with my hair, and I still have (more than) a bit of toning to do, but I’m still kind of rockin’ it.

 

 

 

Home Alone

Last Monday Dave and Marley went to the taping of American Ninja Warrior and weren’t going to be home until about 7:30 or so. I get home from work at approximately 6:20 and I was beyond-words-excited to be something I rarely am: alone in my own house.

I couldn’t wait. As I drove home I fantasized what I would do with my (approximately) one hour and ten minutes all by myself. First I would change into something more comfortable. Then I would put in my earbuds and turn on this station. I might pour myself a glass of wine, but maybe not. I didn’t really need it. And then… I would vacuum.

That’s right, you heard me. Vacuum. I’d been busy. My house was a disaster. Weekends have been crazy and during the week I make dinner as soon as I get home from work, then the three of us clean up (meaning Dave clears the table, Marley washes a pot – that’s right, just one – and you-know-who is stuck with the rest), and then I collapse on the couch and end up drooling ten minutes into whichever show we settle in to watch. You’re all jealous of my glamorous rockstar life, aren’t you?

So I know it sounds lame (hell, it is lame), but I was excited to be home alone, with a cheese-and-cracker dinner and time to clean. I wouldn’t have time to tackle the dining room table that was threatening to buckle under the weight of “that pile” (or rather those piles), but I’d stick my phone into my fanny pack, strap it on, sing along to my country music (poorly and at the top of my lungs) while vacuuming and dusting. Maybe I’d even have time to clean the stovetop. (It was pretty gross.)

Are you picturing me with a fanny pack strapped on, singing at the top of my lungs while I clean house and laughing out loud at the ridiculous image? Stop It! That’s not nice.

When I pulled into the driveway I reached into my purse and realized – oh no, no, no, no, NOOOOO! I did not have my house key.

I know, most people have their house key on the key ring with their car key. Of course they do. I do too. But my car is being worked on and I’m borrowing my mother’s car while she’s out of town and when I clip our extra key onto her key ring it hits my leg and bugs me so I just keep it separately in my purse. But I switched purses Monday morning (or rather switched purses Sunday and switched back in a hurry Monday morning – irrelevant I know, sorry) and forgot to put the key in my purse.

Shit.

And so I did what any normal person would do in such a situation. I tried to break into my own house. Unfortunately there have been some break-ins in our neighborhood recently and our house is like a fortress. Sure I could break a window, but that seemed like a bad idea. (I did manage to maybe destroy a screen in my attempt to dislodge it. Shhh. Don’t tell Dave.)

I could have gone to my mother’s (I have a key to her house), but the 30 minute round trip didn’t seem worth it since I was only stranded for an hour.

I thought about which neighbor I could bug. I tried my friend Mary. I had just gifted her with some trendy vodka to thank her for a huge favor she had recently done for me and thought she might like to share, but she had the audacity not to be home. (Rude!)

I know a lot of people in my neighborhood and in my town, but who could I bug -at dinnertime- who wouldn’t mind me dropping in for an hour? I decided to reach out to Kim. (Lucky her!) She handed me a glass of wine the second I walked in the door, so you know I chose right. I totally interrupted her dinner hour, but she was gracious and her family didn’t seem to mind.

I ate chips and salsa while she made her family an easy dinner. Then we took our wine outside and talked about writing and kids and life. It made not being home alone more than okay.

When I got home Dave and Marley teased me. It’s okay. I earned it. Then Dave told me they were going back Saturday, this time to watch Team Ninja Warrior be taped. They’d be gone most of the day. Did I want to go with them? I thought about it. For about a second. Then I politely declined as visions of vacuums and fanny packs danced through my head.

fanny pack with bling
Just add vacuum!

 

Photo credit: Katerina R. via Creative Commons

 

What’s on Your Twitter Feed?

Marley has a friend (who shall remain nameless) who recently sent her this text:

snarky-teenage-texts
Hey… wait a minute…

 

Now that’s some funny shit. And it seems like it would be completely accurate. I mean what else is Twitter for but:

  • Stalking your daughter’s rants & band obsessions
  • Tweeting to wineries about how awesome they are in hopes they will mistake you for someone who is influential and send you a free case of their wine (hasn’t happened yet, but a girl can dream)
  • Retweeting @dailyhotguy’s half-naked hot dude pics (If you are unfamiliar with @dailyhotguy here’s one their tweets from Thanksgiving – that I did not retweet, BTW!)
henry-cavill-shirtless
Um, yep, even with a silly turkey hat, shirtless Henry Cavill is still hot!

But the thing is…

Hey. Hey! Quit looking at Henry! Get your eyes back on the words. Thank you.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. The thing is, while it seems like that would be an accurate portrayal of my Twitter feed, it really isn’t. At least not lately.

Recently I’ve tweeted about…

Authors’ books or writers’ websites (and okay, okay, maybe my book or website)

tweets-about-books
So… I might be a tad self-promoting

 

Country music lyrics (don’t judge)

tweets-about-jake-owen
I can’t believe Jake Owen didn’t tweet me back professing his undying love for me!

 

Bradley Cooper

tweets-about-Bradley-Cooper
That Barbara Walters is a hussy!

 

Yeah, I know. My tweets are kind of lame.

And, okay, I do tweet about wine, but not that much.

tweets about wine
So far no free cases of wine.

 

And the last time I tweeted a picture of a half-naked dude was in July. Of 2014!!!

half-naked-guy-on-twitter
Yep! Totally worth it!

 

So, while hilariously funny, I don’t think Marley’s friend’s assessment of my Twitter feed is all that accurate. Though perhaps if it was my feed would be more interesting.

(Note to self: More tweets about half naked dudes and wine!)

 

You can find me on Twitter as @rossgirl08. And here are some other super cool people to follow: @BookStarDaily, @dailyhotguy, @kimtracyprince, & @theskimm

P.S. Sorry for the uber shitty quality of my Twitter snips. Going to see if I can fix that. (You know, in all my free time!) 🙂

 

 

 

 

What Happens in Writers’ Group Gets Turned into a Blog Post

“I like your hair like that, Mom,” Marley said to me the morning after my last writers’ group.

I had it pulled to the side in a low ponytail with a piece hanging free in what I hoped was a oh-this-piece-just-won’t-stay-back messy curl, not a perfectly-curly-cued bridesmaidy curl.

“Are you making fun of me or do you really like it?” I asked. Marley can be sarcastic. And I wasn’t particularly feeling like my appearance was compliment-worthy.

“I really like it,” she said.

“Oh good. Thanks,” I answered.

I liked it, but I thought maybe I was trying to look too young. I wasn’t. I was just trying to look put together and semi-professional on a day I did not have time to fix my hair because of this:

wine bottles
Writers’ Group Math: bottles of wine(5) = snooze button(100)

This is what happens at writers’ group.

There are six of us in case you’re wondering. Though, to be fair two of the bottles were already open and already half-empty, so we really only drank four.

“So 3/4 of a bottle of wine each?” Dave pointed out to me.

“Uh, no. More like 2/3. What kind of lushes do you think we are?” I replied.

Jeez!

We meet once a month to discuss our goals, share our victories (and failures), support each other and give advice (like actual, useful, requested advice instead of buttinsky-who-asked-you-anyway advice). We also do a ten minute writing exercise each month chosen randomly from a writing prompt app. (Oh yes, there is an app for everything.)

Our writing prompt this month was “List 10 Reasons for not Showering for a Week” and we all laughed because Julie was coming late due to Back to School Night and would be missing the prompt portion of our meeting. And while I’m sure Julie has never gone a week without showering (probably), she doesn’t shower every day. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure none of us showers every day except for Laurel who sometimes showers twice a day (maybe to make up for our unshowering), but I’m only calling out Julie because she’d tell you herself. (Kim, Rina and Lexi might not want you to know their showering habits.)

The pieces were all funny and clever (because we are all funny and clever) and we had a good time with it.

Some of my reasons for not showering?

  • We are in a drought, people!
  • Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • It saves electricity – no need to blow dry.
  • It saves gas. In fact, I read in the book Gorgeously Green that the number one energy killer in a house was using gas to heat water. Or something like that. I read that book a long time ago. But the foreward was written by Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for playing Erin Brockvich so whatever I read about using a lot of gas to heat water must be true. (Yeah, not a lot of logic goes into my 10 minute writing prompts.)
  • If I run I have to shower. (It seems like the polite thing to do.) So no showering = no running. For a week! Yay!

Alright, I admit, perhaps my reasons for not showering for a week are not that funny and clever. I think I was the weak link on this writing prompt.

And while I would never go an entire week without showering (unless I was camping), I did find it a bit serendipitous that the day after a writing prompt about not showering I went to work without showering and got a compliment from my daughter about my hair.

I’ll have to add that reason to my list.

cute-wine-cork
There is no reason for this picture, but seriously, how could I not post it?

Valentine’s Day in the Suburbs

When Dave and I were dating we used to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 13th. On our first Valentine’s together he had a convention on the 14th (convenient, right?) so we went out the night before instead. We liked the quietness of the restaurant – no crowds or “special” (overpriced) menus – and carried on the tradition of February 13th for years after.

We gloated a bit in our cleverness. We had Valentine’s down!

One  year early in our marriage Dave was heading out of town Valentine’s morning, most likely to that same convention, and casually asked me if I still made the bed when he went out of town.

“Of course,” I told him.

“Have fun  making the bed,” he said as he kissed me and headed out the door.

I found a white-ribboned blue box that made me squeal with delight hidden in the tangled sheets. Inside was a silver necklace. Or maybe it was a bracelet earrings. To be honest I can’t remember. I used to get a lot of jewelry in blue boxes back in those days.

On Saturday night I posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook:

Valentines Dessert
Valentine’s In the suburbs

Our Valentine’s dessert after a dinner of sweet hot mustard chicken thighs (a recipe I’d been wanting to try that I knew Dave and I would like, but the kids wouldn’t), asparagus and roasted potatoes.

Please don’t assume that because I made something the kids wouldn’t like that we dined alone. I made their chicken plain and the four of us enjoyed a lovely dinner together.

After dinner we told the kids they had to watch a romantic comedy with us. We chose Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. As a lover of 80’s music (and former 80’s sort-of-groupie), it’s one of my favorites. Marley lasted three quarters of the way through before tapping out (that girl has no taste), but Chandler liked the movie and watched the all way through. He says he still can’t get the song Pop Goes My Heart out of his head.

It is pretty catchy in all of its fake-80’s fabulousness.

(By the way, if you’ve never seen Music and Lyrics you must first watch this spectacular video and then do whatever you have to do -cable, Netflix, your local library- to watch it. You will totally thank me because it’s awesome. So I will preemptively say, “You’re welcome!”)

 

I made a homemade Valentine with a printed someecards & taped it to a dark chocolate bar and stuck it under Dave’s pillow.

someecards Valentines Day
This was not his card, but it’s pretty appropriate for this post.

 

Yeah, I go all out. Dave said he thought we agreed that we weren’t doing Valentines this year. Uh… no. But perhaps after (almost) 21 years of marriage that agreement is implied. If I told you that his neglect of a forced Hallmark holiday hurt my feelings I’d be lying. In fact I’d have been shocked if he had done something. And now I get to eat the chocolate I gave him (conveniently the kind I like) without guilt.

Hmmm… a recipe I’ve been wanting to try, a good bottle of wine, one of  my favorite cheesy romantic comedies and  my husband’s dark chocolate all for me? Turns out I’m still pretty clever when it  comes to Valentine’s Day.

Movie Review – Muffin Top: A Love Story

Last week I was given the privilege of screening the movie  Muffin Top: A Love Story. And let me tell you, it was a privilege because this movie is LOL funny. Like, for reals.

Muffin Top: A Love Story is an awkward, sweet, funny movie made for chicks, by chicks. That’s right, a movie about women actually made by women. (So weird, right?) It’s the story of Suzanne (writer, director, producer Cathryn Michon), a Women’s Studies Pop Culture professor who studies images of women in the media for a living, and yet is still insecure about her body due to the myth of female perfection in our airbrushed culture.

Check out the trailer:

 

 

The movie tells us what we all know, but still don’t believe – that we are all beautiful and must learn to love ourselves before we can be loved. (Oh, and that supermodels are genetic freaks). Best of all it delivers this message in a way that will have you snorting your wine out your nose with hysterical laughter. And will also have you (shockingly) fall madly in love with David Arquette. (Seriously, who knew?)

If you love the awkwardness of The Office or Veep or Curb Your Enthusiasm, you will love it.

If you’re a woman who’s ever looked in the mirror and hated what she sees, you will love it and absolutely need to see it. (And if you haven’t I simultaneously want to punch you and kiss you. But mostly punch you. Because, really? Never?! You might be a little conceited.)

Muffin Top: A Love Story is available On Demand here. So grab some girlfriends, a few bottles of wine and plenty of chocolate and enjoy the funniest girls’-night-in you’ve had in a long while.

Or click this link to see if Muffin Top is coming to a movie theater in your town as a red carpet event and make it a girls’-night-out. Select cities will have cast member attending. (Hello David!)

But please, do yourself a favor and do see it. You’ll be so happy you did. And remember, supermodels are genetic freaks! you’re beautiful.

 

Things That are Bad for You

Last week I had my writers’ group over to my house. I was speaking to my uncle before my friends came over and he said I had to wear the present that he and my aunt gave me for my birthday. They gave me an apron. And while that doesn’t really seem like something one would wear to a writers group, because I am a good niece, I did.

Wine-how-classy-people-get-wasted
So nice to know I’m classy!

You may wonder what one does at a writers’ group, so I will tell you. We drink a lot of wine and talk too much about things that have nothing to do with writing. (So it turns out wearing the apron was a good fit after all.)

Actually we do have an agenda. We chit-chat for about 30 minutes as people are showing up, we have a writing prompt and spend 10 minutes writing whatever that prompt brings to mind, we all read our prompts aloud, then we each have ten minutes to discuss our goals for the next month. We can also send over a piece we’ve been working on before the meeting for feedback. If we were orderly this would all take about two hours. It usually takes four. (Mostly due to the drinking and talking too much about non-writerly things.)

I was in charge of the prompt (which can be a word or a phrase or even a question) and I chose “things that are bad for you.” The great thing about writing prompts is the varied responses from everyone. I love to hear my clever and creative friends read their prompts aloud.

Kim did not like my prompt. She started to write a story that was very similar the piece she’d emailed earlier in the day for feedback, but she felt that story had already been told, so she crossed it out and just made a list. I thought her list was fantastic as it wasn’t really a list of things that are bad for “you,” (as in everyone), but rather things that were bad for her.

And with 2014 officially half over, on this 19th day of my 49th year, the year I am trying to make productive, trying to make count, trying to make matter, it inspired me to make a list of my own. Because I want to stop doing things that are bad for me. And I have always found that things are so much easier to achieve when I have a list.

 

Things that are bad for me

  • Staying up late
  • Time-sucking activities (Candy Crush I’m talking to you!)
  • Procrastinating
  • Being late
  • A third glass of wine. (Not that I ever have that!)
  • A second cup of coffee
  • Forgetting what the words “portion control” mean (What do they mean again?)
  • Not writing
  • Not working out
  • Not stretching
  • Not making lists
  • Chandler being gone for 5 1/2 weeks (though this is very good for Chandler)
  • Being forgetful
  • Being unorganized
  • Jealousy
  • Self-doubt
  • Lack of motivation
  • Being lazy (especially when my laziness becomes blazy, which is a term my writer’s group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness. We’d campaign to get the word into next year’s Merriam Webster, but that would take way too much effort, thus being the exact opposite of blazy.)
  • Excuses (see above)

I could probably go on and think of 20 things that are bad for me instead of only 19, but I’m blazy remember?. Besides, I feel myself bordering on negativity. And that’s not my style. Perhaps I will counteract this post with a post listing things that are good for me. (Like Bradley Cooper obviously.)

Bradley-Cooper-shirtless
Yeah, I chose a picture of Bradley Cooper shirtless. You’re welcome.

 

Oh, and my kids, of course.

But as I said, another post.

I’d love to know… what are some things that are bad for you?

 

 

The First Day of my 49th Year

On the first day of my 49th year I woke up early like I always do. But I did not write. I was not productive. Sometimes I wonder why I get up before the sun only to be lazy. But because it was my birthday I allowed myself the indulgence of Facebook and Pinterest without guilt.

At seven o’clock I went for a three mile run. It’s been a while since I’ve run that far. I never stopped to walk, but it was hard. Really hard. The last minute was especially brutal. I end my run on an uphill. I felt dizzy. Like I was going to vomit. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean by the term “runner’s high” but if it is then I want no part of it.

You might wonder why I chose to run on my birthday if I hate it so much.  I had friends coming over that night for appetizers and wine and knew I’d be eating a lot of cheese. A lot of cheese. Call it preventative maintenance.

I treated myself to a pedicure -after a shower of course- and then drove to The George Michael Salon in Beverly Hills. (No relation to 80’s pop star/90’s park bathroom lurker.) I’d won a long hair treatment worth $195 from a #Fabchat session on Twitter and my birthday was the perfect day to treat myself to such a luxury as my hair was definitely in desperate need of a little TLC.

Hair before George Michael Hair treatment
This hair is in some desperate need of a little TLC. (BTW – can you tell I’m not very good at selfies?)

 

Salon owner, Jessie Martinez, definitely gave me that. She washed my hair and put on an intense moisturizing treatment and then sat me on a comfy couch for an hour with a heating cap on my head. I sat and read my new book for an hour. (Talk about indulgent!)

Afterwards she washed my hair and set it in big rollers and I sat under a hairdryer that looked like it came out of the Jetson’s for another 45 minutes and read some more. Oh yes, it was a very good day indeed.

hair dryer
It looks like something Jane Jetson would wear doesn’t it?

 

The result was smooth, gorgeous hair without the harmful chemicals of some other hair treatments (ahem, I’m talking to you Brazilian) or the drying and damaging effects of a blowout.

I left the George Michael hair salon looking like this:

Hair-after-george-michael-hair-treatment
Please ignore my lack of make-up and focus on my gorgeous hair!

Jessie Martinez might just be my new best friend.

I stopped by Costco on my way home and battled the Father’s Day shoppers to pick up my favorite cheap wine -only the best for my friends- and returned home to  a clean house (best birthday present ever) and our Happy Birthday sign on the wall. (We have a Happy Birthday sign that I hang for everyone’s birthday every year, but mentioned last year that it never gets hung for me.) I’m not sure what made my heart sing more – the freshly vacuumed carpet or the sign, but the combination made me so happy that I didn’t even get crabby when I saw the dust rag carelessly left in the corner on the living room. (Isn’t that what you do when you’re done dusting – just drop the dust rag at the bottom of the last thing dusted?)

I made fried olives, a recipe that I found here, and have been wanting to try for a year. They did not disappoint. I set up for the party, put on a dress that I haven’t been able to fit into for years, and welcomed my closest friends into my home.

Fired-olives
Mmmm fried olives – delish!

The men went into one room and the women went into another. We drank wine. We laughed. We ate a lot of cheese. My friend Arlyne baked me a carrot cake from scratch. It was heavenly.

As birthdays go, it wasn’t anything grand, but it was quite wonderful.

Every day should be filled with recognizing the joy of simple pleasures…

Shirking off early-morning productivity to “catch up” on Facebook.

Feeling strong (albeit vomity) after a hard workout.

Taking the time to pamper oneself.

Reveling in the serene beauty of a clean house.

Enjoying time spent with close friends.

Indulging (okay, over-indulging) in wine and cheese.

The first day of my 49th year? No, it may not have been grand, but it was a damn fine day indeed.

Whole Foods Venice Fantastique French Wine Tasting & Art Exhibit (Ooh La La!)

Hey, my LA & Valley friends, what are you doing this Saturday night? That’s right, this Saturday night, March 1st. Binge-watching TV with a pizza? (Yawn, did that last weekend.) A little beer-pong and karaoke at the local dive bar? Dinner at Applebee’s? (I’m kidding!)

Can I make a suggestion?

How about something a little different? A little sophisticated even? Something that will get you out of your weekend rut.

Whole Foods Market in Venice is having a fabulous (make that fantastique) French wine tasting and art exhibit for only $10. (And the proceeds benefit The Whole Planet Foundation – Alleviating Poverty Worldwide Through Entrepreneurship.)

You will taste 5 value-priced ($9.99) French wines paired with petit fours (that’s a fancy French word for appetizer, in case you didn’t know, which of course you did, because like me, you’re very sophisticated) and get to check out the art of Germany-based French artist and wine label designer, Gildas Coudrais.

Fantastique indeed!

Fantastique French Wine Tasting and Art Exhibit
Are you cool enough to hang here?

 

I actually used to do cultured and sophisticated French-wine-meets-French-art stuff like this all the time. Okay, that’s not true at all. I’ve never done that. But I do go wine tasting quite often and do love French wine.

whole-foods-venice-french-wine-tasting-art-show
Fantastique wine at a Fantastique price!

 

And French men.

Olivier-Martinez
Olivier Martinez  – I might consider leaving Bradley Cooper for you!

 

And French fries.

French-Fries
How do you say “Get in my belly” in French?

 

And I’ve been to the Louvre. Twice.

Louvre
Yeah, I’ve been here!

 

Anyway…

Wanna know what you’ll be tasting?

wine-labels-by-Gildas-Coudrais
Ooh La La!

 

  • Chantebelle Sauvignon Blanc– a bright and brisk beauty with crisp citrus flavors. (Bring on the goat cheese!)
  • King Rabbit Malbec – with rich, black plums, berries and cherries dance smoothly on the palate. (I’ll take that with a rare steak, please.)
  • Anciens Temps Cabernet–Syrah – with robust flavors of black pepper and berries, and a vanilla-kissed finish. (Sounds like it needs a robust cheese – slice me a chunk of that blue!)
  • Eagle Coq Pinot Noir – boasts juicy red cherry and currant flavors pleasing French & California drinkers alike. (And they say it goes well with brie – I’m so in!)
  • Fantastique Pinot Noir – a bolder Pinot, with flavors of spiced black cherries. (Is it time for chocolate yet?)

Just so you know, I am not suggesting that this is the food -pardon me, petit fours- that the wines will be paired with, I’m just saying what I would be inclined to pair them with.

And even if it sounds too good to be true that French wines like this would be available at Whole Foods for under $10, it isn’t. Too good to be true I mean. It is true!

Anciens-temps-cabernet-syrah
$9.99 are you out of your mind?!

 

And remember, artwork of Gildas Coudrais, the wine label artist will be there. He’s had an interesting career – he designed theme cards for a French print company, taught art lessons to children and adults, and led an artist’s workshop for disabled people. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and two young daughters. His pop-art is pretty funky. I dig it.

gildas-coudrais-artwork
Translation: “which has miraculously powerful melody.”

 

I like that – I love you… which has a miraculously powerful melody.

So are you in? (I am!) If so, click this link and RSVP on their Facebook page. You don’t have to RSVP to attend, but there’s less chance of them running out of petit fours that way. (And nobody wants that.)

And if you really want to show them some love follow Whole Foods Market Venice on Facebook and Twitter. (I do!)

Hope to see you Saturday night!

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Venice. (But my love of French wine, French cheese, French men and French fries? You can’t buy that!)

Photo credits: Olivier Martinez, French fries, & The Louvre