Monday, January 31, 2011

September Fun, or the Month I Turned _0

I really kind of dreaded celebrating the first anniversary of my 29th birthday.  And for a short while after, I pretended that if no one mentioned it, it wasn't real.  A few months down the road now, I'm happy to say I've settled into my age and feel good about.  This next decade is going to be great, I can feel it.  No more dumb stuff from my twenties.

In any case, I had a wonderful birthday month that was packed full of really super fun awesome things with really super great awesome people.

I kicked the month off with Labor Day weekend in California, continuing the summer flirtation with MCB.  It's amazing what years apart will kick up, and Katy Perry's Teenage Dream was the appropriate summer soundtrack.  Anyway....

This wasn't just any roadtrip, however.  My traveling companion -  my grandma!  Her sister lives near Long Beach, and the two of them don't see each other as ofter as they'd like.  My grandma doesn't really like to fly, won't drive, and my grandpa is turning into a grouchy old man about driving, so he won't take her.  While I was visiting them in August, I mentioned that I was driving over to Cali, and my grandma got all excited about the possibility of going with me.  She even called the night before our departure to ask if there was room for her sewing machine.  Of course! She even bought me a soda on the way there.  I dropped her off at my great aunt's house on Friday night and left the two of them to quilt and sew all weekend.  Ah, life when you're 80.
MCB reserved us the fireplace table at his neighborhood sushi joint for our Friday night date, cause he likes taking girls on proper dates.  We spent the weekend at the beach, hung around the crazies in Venice, and stumbled upon something that would cause our first fight while in the nearest mall with a Chick-Fil-A:

These Shoes.
I noticed them while walking through Nordstrom, a beautiful grey (grey is the new black) and kind of fell in love.  MCB, being the sweet man that he is, told me to try them on right then and there.  But I knew I'd have to have them, and they were kind of expensive and he and I weren't totally dating yet and he offered to buy them as an early birthday present, but I couldn't let him - you know, all that sort of stuff running through my head.  So we left without me trying them on.

Wouldn't you know, being the Ms Independent that I am, I decided a week later that I needed them.  So I went to Nordstrom back home, saw a PURPLE pair (aubergine!  amazing!) that were even better than grey, and promptly bought them for myself.  Not even thinking about the fact that MCB would be buying me the grey pair.

Yes - I ruined his birthday present to me; he drove to a mall far, far away to get the correct size and have them express shipped to my house before my birthday.  And I already purchased a pair in a totally different color and messed it all up.

Moral of the story: don't buy anything for yourself around birthdays/holidays, because sweet MCB will always get you what you want.

The very next weekend after Labor Day I went to Havasupai with Karen and company.  This was quite the feat for me and deserves its own post.
I celebrated my 26th birthday at Lucky Strike in DC, and since it just opened in downtown Phoenix, I decided to have a little gathering with some friends.  Swanky bowling is always a good time.



A few days after my birthday, I went to the AZ Diamondbacks game, because my mom had arranged a little surprise for me.  At church I play the organ, a skill I kind of had to teach myself when I got asked to play every week.  After a couple years of playing, it hit me - why not play the organ for a sports team when I'm retired?!  I love sports, the organ is kind of fun, and it could be really cool!  Anyway, my mom remembers that I said this to her once, and she ended up calling the Diamondbacks over the summer and tracking down the organist, Mr Bobby Freeman.  My mom gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him.  He's a super nice guy, gave me four tickets to a game, had me come up and meet him (I couldn't play the organ myself because of all the MLB restrictions), and do the 7th inning stretch up there.  Pretty rad!  He told me all about what you play and when and what his plan is for every game (there's a complicated Excel spreadsheet to coordinate what happens between the organ and recorded music, advertising slots and pre/post game stuff).  When he retires, I told him to call me....

Kiersten wrote a book.  It's now a NY Times Bestseller.  You should read it.  I loved it and had to see her when she came to Tempe for a book signing.  And her sister who just moved to AZ came too, and brought her cute baby.  The two of them are the sisters of these people, also some of my favorites in the whole world.
By this point in late September it had been 3 weeks since I'd seen MCB and it'd be another 3 before I'd see him again.  And maybe we sorted missed each other and wanted to spend the weekend together, instead of just waiting on happenstance to take me to California again?  Good thing for secret rendezvous weekends at a halfway point, Palm Springs.
I got another 1000-piece puzzle as a gag gift of sorts, and finished it just before I left for my last Sept adventure - back to DC and NYC!  Birthday present to myself.

Big Week Ahead

Short week!!  I'm excited.

These people and this person are all coming to AZ to visit me this weekend.

I just read the weather forecast and it doesn't look as awesome as it has been.  Since nice, compared to east coast thundersnows, but not as nice as it could possibly be.  Oh well.

We'll do the Phoenix Open (think I'm going to the Pro-Am on Wednesday too, to keep with tradition), Taliesin West, maybe a hike, and definitely some good Phoenix eats.

Now to clean my bathroom, clean out my car, take all my extra stuff to Goodwill, buy good snacks, etc, etc. Good week ahead!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Food Adventures and August Monsoons

It's not often that I host a dinner party, but I enjoy it when I do. Our church congregation instituted Dinners for Six, which actually turns out to be the perfect number of people when you're trying to get to know someone beyond the "Hi, what's your name?" conversation that seems to happen over and over each week when there are 300 people milling around.  Roommate and I pulled out our colorful bowls and had a fiesta last August.  She was recently returned from summer adventures, and it was maybe a house-warming of sorts.  I'm getting hungry just looking at this picture.
A week or so later I saw this recipe that I just had to try - Almond Hazelnut Cupcakes with a Chocolate Ganache frosting.  It took a few hours, but totally worth it!

You start by toasting the almonds and hazelnuts.  Toasted nuts are soooo good.
Then you grind those up, mix them with flour and sugar to make the base.  First time using our KitchenAid; I can finally see why everyone wants one one their wedding registries.
In another bowl you fluff some eggs and fold that into the nut mixture.
Time to start melting the chocolate!
Cupcakes are done - and don't they look like multigrain muffins and seem sorta good for you?  If only.
Chocolate melted - almost done.
The finished product!
Which I enjoyed while sitting on balcony and watching the rains come down.
A few minutes later it was sunny skies and beautiful flowers.  Hard to think that it was still 100+ degrees at this point!


Rolling in the Deep

The first track is already everywhere, and the rest of the album is just as good or better.  I love her, Ms. Adele!  Go buy the album when it's out next month.

I can't wait til this tour - I was a casual listener when I saw her awhile ago, and her voice, her presence, her charm, and her humble, bashful amazement that people actually want to hear her sing turned me into a big fan.

Not that you have 15 minutes to watch this, but once you buy the album and wanna know what's behind the tracks, you'll come back to this.

Warning: slighty savory language ahead.  It is a breakup/relationship record, after all.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm a Junkie

Two small confessions here, I suppose.

I'm a magazine junkie.  Come over to my house if you're out of things to read, and I promise a box of old magazines are laying around for the taking.  I provided several magazine Christmas trees as decoration this year; I'm all about reuse or recycle.  Need some pretty paper to make a collage?

I think the whole love of shiny printed pages stems from not being allowed to read all those fun teen magazines that tell you how to be cool and look cute when you're in junior high.  I recall going to slumber parties at other girls' houses who had stacks of them, and I'd usually ignore what was going on in the room so I could pour over pages of clothes and make up and articles about boys (which I found dumb at the time and still do.  My own common sense is a much better guide) to catch up on things I might have missed.  Or maybe that was just my escape from reading too many serious books, as I always have.

I grew out of the teen stage, and eventually went to work for this company's magazines and became entrenched in the industry.  I went to meetings in New York and Florida and met with people from People.  And Sports Illustrated, Martha Stewart, Time, InStyle, etc and on and on.  And there were free magazines galore!  And insider tricks on how to get cheap ones.  And with magazine prices dropping to a dollar an issue or less (a lot of that for postage) or the ability to trade useless frequent flyer miles, why not subscribe?  Point is - I get a lot of magazines.  And I love them.  I may be the youngest person with a current subscription to Reader's Digest.

Anyway, that's point 1.

Junkie point 2:  I am a sucker for drug store cosmetics.  I could easily spend an hour in CVS/Walgreens/Target, picking out fun products to try and deciding who has the best cheap mascara or the best shade of lip gloss that stays put.  I love seeing the tag sales at CVS and deciding what new thing I can try.  And you know what feeds this?

Magazines.

Especially now that I'm older and thinking I spent too much time in the sun as a kid - I will read any article that talks about skin care.  Especially the ones where dermatologists mention what they use and recommend. It's not too late for prevention!  I don't want wrinkles and sun spots!

A current list of things to grab on my next drugstore run:

Purpose Cleansing Bar

L'Oreal's Youth Code line 
New Dove Body Wash 

Aveeno Tinted Moisturizer

Liquiline Blast

Who wants to go on a shopping adventure?!  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Family Adventures in Arizona August

Only a few more months of updates to go!

Littl bro came home to Oklahoma in July after two years in Argentina, and just before he started school at OSU (only one kid in the family made it to BYU), he and the parents came out to AZ to say hello to the rest of the extended family.  Tay and Court came down from Utah and we had a mini reunion with everyone else.

When you see a rainbow on your way to the airport to pick people up, it's got to be a good sign of things to come.  Monsoon season!

All of dad's family came over to mom's parents house (they were gone) on Saturday to kick things off.  I decided it'd be a great idea to buy a 1000-piece puzzle to keep people occupied, if they weren't into swimming or card games or whatever else my mom had planned.
As demonstrated by the photos below, cell phones > puzzles.

However, I'm slightly obsessive about these kinds of things and knew I couldn't leave the puzzle unfinished, nor would my grandmother let me keep that puzzle on her coffee table until Christmas, so I roped a friend into helping me after the family had left, and by golly we finished that thing the next weekend after working on it all.day.long with nary a break.  Since that weekend in August, I have completed two other 1000-piece puzzles; one I received as a gag birthday gift from the friend who got roped into helping, and another as a Christmas present.  I kind of love them!
It's not a real family meal unless there are olives!  Most people are okay with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes on tacos/Mexican food, but it's not complete for me unless there are olives!  After living with my grandparents for almost a year, I figured out where this need comes from.  Thank you, Kleck family.
On Sunday we drove down to dad's family church in Coolidge and attended the Spanish branch since my brother and cousin (also recently returned from a mission in Uruguay) had to speak there.  My poor madre could only make out a few words here and there.


I think we tried our best to avoid the Williams Family Cousin Talent Show that Grandma makes us do every time we're together (it's painful, trust me), but having them fall asleep really helped get us out of performing.  Cheers to Sunday naps!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ah, January Weekends

Can they get better than this?

Friday night arrival at LAX
Outdoor sushi dinner 
A sparkling clean room (he even took off the windows to scrub them)
Girl with Dragon Tattoo trilogy movie completion
Diner breakfasts
Biking to the beach
People watching in Venice
Pita chips and red pepper hummus
All the Dr Pepper I could drink
Head shaving
Collaborative art show by the guy who made the famous Obama Hope poster and a guy from Devo (Whip It!)
Late night In-n-Out
Awesome cars at the Petersen Museum
Walking through museum row on a beautiful day
Sad goodbye at the departures curb at LAX

This man danced in the drum circle with a stuffed dog on his head.

We watched this man below cause a traffic jam when he fell.  He literally couldn't stand up.  He'd try and try again to get up, would be on his feet for 2 seconds, and bam!  Right on the ground again.  Finally he resigned himself to laying in the sand for an hour or so.  He was trying to get up again as we were leaving, but no such luck.  As my dad would say, mean ole Mr. Gravity.  I have no idea how he even biked there in the first place.










Skop-meh and the good parts of Macedonia

We arrived back in Skopje after that early bus ride from Prizren, and while we had to check out of our Airbnb apartment that morning, we we...