Wednesday, February 29, 2012

household cleaners i love - yeah, i'm surprised about this post, too

my friends rita stella and nedra are most likely shocked that i would post anything that has to do with cleaning,  but the times they are a changin' ladies and here are my top three must-haves:

lemi shine
when we moved to pasadena i started noticing all of these hard water spots on our very new glasses and i was not happy.  carrie suggested i try lemi shine and i have now become obsessed.  it's amazing how clean it will get your dishes, for real people.

mr. clean magic erasers
these little babies will easily remove any stain you might come across.  sadly for us it is often used to remove cat snot from our walls (believe me i realize how disgusting that is, but i'm living the truth) because bayou has this chronic sinus issue -- and it works beautifully. also, they are great at getting all the chalk residue off of your chalk board.  they make it look brand spanking new.

meyer's hand soap

i discovered this soap at world market and i really feel like no other kitchen soap compares.  my personal favorite is the basil scent, but they have several others.  i just love the subtle scent and they have great dish detergent, countertop spray, etc. so you can have an exclusive scent for your kitchen.  it sounds fancier that way, right?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

my incredibly thoughtful sister-in-law

last night i was lying on the couch not feeling so well when jeff returned home with these gorgeous flowers for me from carrie and the girls:

they were to thank me for watching emma & addie last week while jamie and carrie went to a movie premiere downtown.  but it's not like that was work at all.  i love being able to be the fun aunt who helps them make lemonade and takes them to menchie's on a school night for froyo. that's what we're supposed to do!

back to the flowers ... not only are ranunculus one of my favorite flowers, but they came in a mason jar with this sweet grosgrain bow tied around them!  when i was looking at them this morning i thought about how i hit the jackpot with carrie.  i have always been a girls' girl and i cherish my girlfriends, so i consider myself very lucky that i ended up with probably the best sister-in-law i could have imagined - and that is important considering our husbands are identical twins.  what would it be like if we didn't get along?

my friend erin said she wishes her boyfriend was a voris, just so carrie could be her sister-in-law and i get it.  carrie is incredibly thoughtful, warm, generous, super crafty, and she appreciates the importance of a good conversation over a latte.  the bottom line is that she makes you feel better just being around her.  and like i said earlier, that could be really tricky if we didn't click.  so this tuesday morning i feel very thankful for carrie and am so blessed that we are family.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar Fashion Let Downs

it's not even that i don't like the gown, it's just that this valentino makes shailene look like she's in her 40s and she's only 20!!

i love viola davis, i really do and i think she has looked amazing all season long, but i am just not a fan of how revealing this dress is.  the color is phenomenal, but her boobs are just too present for me - somehow it makes it look cheap.

i know everyone is loving on rooney mara, but i find her to be way too skinny and i'm not a fan of her look.  maybe i'm a little biased because i feel like she comes off so cold in her interviews as if she is just too cool.  wasn't she this bubbly girl next door in the social network last year?

sandra bullock looked incredible the year she won, so i have to ask what the hell happened here?

*thanks to people & us weekly for the images.

Oscar Fashion Favorites

one of my favorite things about the oscars, is the fashion and in honor to set it up properly, i thought i would show one of my favorite clips from curb your enthusiasm.  i am so in love with this kid!

and now on to the fashion!

loved michelle williams in louis vuitton.  the color is refreshing and looks so gorgeous with her skin tone.

at first i thought "what the hell is gwyneth wearing?"  but being someone who is always cold at night in la, i could completely appreciate the cape for the red carpet.

i thought leslie mann looked stunning in this midnight blue number and i love the pony tail.

 loved mila in white

to be honest, i'm still not sure how i feel about this one, but i applaud emma stone for taking a risk.  i know there is drama about this dress because it looks similar to the balenciaga gown nicole kidman wore a few years back, but i think the color is incredible.

this isn't the best picture of jessica chastain, but i really loved the gold and black, especially with her red hair.

octavia looked really beautiful in her tadashi shoji gown.

i was so proud when i saw tina fey on the red carpet.  she was the only one carolina herrera styled last night and i think it was the best she has looked, not to mention that i love she went for an updo instead of her usual hair style.

Friday, February 24, 2012

thankful for ... (new zealand version)

right after our wedding we honeymooned in new zealand and tahiti for almost three weeks.  while i am not a super outdoorsy girl and riding along in a camper van with my new husband through the north island of new zealand was a bit challenging, i am so thankful for the  experience and wouldn't change it for the world.  such a beautiful country with such lovely people - not to mention delicious coffee!

here are a few of my favorite things about our trip:

sky city hotel
after a total of two days sleeping in the camper van in the middle of nowhere (to be fair, i warned jeff that this part of the honeymoon was out of my comfort zone) jeff proved himself to be an understanding partner and called an audible and drove us to auckland.  i have to tell you that i couldn't have been more thankful in that moment when we pulled up at the sky city hotel and valeted the camper (yes we were those tourists driving a freshly rented camper van up to the valet at a luxury hotel).  to top it off, we ended the night with a massage.  heaven.

morris & james pottery
we read about this place on the flight over and i immediately made it one of our destinations.  the pottery was so beautiful and they had this adorable cafe with one of the best egg sandwiches i have ever eaten.  it was the kind where when you cut into it, the yolk oozes out ever so slightly. now every time i look at my pohutukawa (it's the new zealand christmas tree) trivet i am so thankful we found this place.

quiet night in rotorua
we spent two nights in rotorua (again after i couldn't deal with sleeping in the camper) and although the sulfur smell was less than ideal, i loved this little town.  one night we took a long walk and stumbled upon a carnival.  delightful.

one of the things high on jeff's nerdy wish list in new zealand was agrodome.  think of it as an agricultural theme park. you can probably tell by that statement that this was not high on my list, but i knew he wanted to go so badly that we decided to make a day of it.  after all they had a multi-award winning sheep show, an organic farm tour and  zorbing.  we did all three.   it ended up being one of my all-time favorite life moments, as i got to participate in a little lamb contest, where i got to bottle feed this adorable little baby -  and i WON!  what did i win?  ummm... the wool from a sheep that was just sheared minutes before.  seriously.

chicken pies
i had no idea that i would also fall in love with meat pies while on my honeymoon, nor did i really even know about them before.  they had this one amazing buttered chicken pie that is just as if you took chicken tikka masala and baked it into a delicious buttery pie.  it was seriously one of my favorite things about this country.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

the rumble bee

one of my girlfriends called me in tears (i think from both laughing and crying) the other night after she went on a blind date from hell.  it brought me back to the days when i was so very single.  so very single that i became a champ in the dating world and not because i was particularly good at it, but because i was so determined.  i did it all -- i dated online, i was always open to a set up and not a teeny bit afraid of a blind date.  i even went speed dating (definitely do not recommend).   no matter how many cheese balls or creeps i met, i deep down believed that one day this numbers game would pay off.  it just had to.  maybe that is why i stalked my husband until he finally noticed me.

now that i am married to the best person i could have ever imagined being married to, i can laugh at my disastrous dating stories. but when you are in it -  living it - it's sometimes hard to. it's like you walk around reminded that you are single and everyone else is not.  you really get to the place where you think it just might not happen. maybe there's not that someone out there just for you.  people tell you you are too picky, so you go out on random set ups and end up with a story like i have below.

so i brought this one out from the vault.  it's long, but i think you'll find it entertaining:

So, this online dating thing. It was alright. I avoided the guys with their shirts off, any picture of a guy’s car, the shots of a cheese ball in some obnoxiously lame Halloween costume posing for the camera --- I don’t know if any of you have tried Match, but if you had you know that that brought my selection down to about two guys.

I had been emailing with this guy who was several years younger than me, but he seemed cute and somewhat articulate.  Not to mention when I showed my co-worker his profile (of course I showed her his profile, that's part of the online dating ritual), she said she knew him. Her friend had actually dated him. Leah had never met him in person, but her friend said he was so nice, so sweet, so cute, and drove this cool vintage truck. I’m not really a truck girl (or a car girl for that matter), but I figured why not?

We had talked on the phone and I was actually excited about this guy, so I decided to make our first date a Saturday night date. I even told him my address and let him pick me up. At first glance things seemed good.  He was tall. He was cute. I checked out his outfit and he was wearing good jeans (for some reason this has always been important to me).

You can imagine my surprise when I’m walking to his “vintage truck” and find myself staring at this gigantic bright yellow pickup truck … with an angry bee decal. And, oh, it gets better.  It has a name - the RUMBLE BEE! Yes, so here I am  staring at the taxi cab yellow monstrosity thinking "what exactly did leah mean by vintage?"

I decided to dismiss the yelling inside my head and climb (that’s right) into this massive bright yellow truck.  I later found out that his cool vintage truck had been totaled a month before, which explained why he's now driving this bright yellow and black, HEMI engine, massive mobile through the streets of LA. Oh, I forgot to mention, he’s from Kansas.

We are now at dinner and things are better out of the truck.  I'm not ducking at every red light we have somehow managed to hit wondering if the people ten feet below us are judging me as harshly as I'm judging this poor guy .  This is where I can own the ugly side of me.  It's the side that my mom has warned me about - to not be that girl.  I really wish I was one of those people who didn't care what other people think, but sometimes it gets the better of me. 

Back to my point, the conversation is flowing and then he tells me he’s an actor. And, you know, I’m an actor too, but sometimes I just can’t take it. Enough with talking about how you define a character, how deeply you immerse yourself into a role, where you studied, “have you taken so-and-so’s cold reading class? It’s phenomenal!" blah, blah, blah. This is why I don’t date actors, as one of us is plenty.  But, you see he’s not just an actor, he’s also a pharmacist. I swear, only in LA.

But I keep thinking “Jessica, you’re so picky. Get over yourself.” That thought gets me through the car
ride to a wine bar, where he tells me he wants to get the license plate BUZZZZ for his car.  Get it, he
drives a RUMBLE BEE and is a pharmacist?

So we get to the wine bar and it's actually nice --- not crowded, good music, good lighting. We sit down in a booth with our bottle of wine and chocolate truffles and it starts. He starts by saying cheesy lines like “You’re such an adorable red head. I really don’t see how such a hot thing like yourself is single.”

Just what a girl on a blind date wants to hear, by the way. And, I’m thinking “Oh, great! This is exactly
what I thought when I saw he had that emoticon on his profile --- cheese ball!" I knew I should have listened to my judgmental self there.

At this point, I start chugging my glass of wine and all of a sudden this song comes on. He looks at me all wide-eyed and says “How spontaneous are you?”

I quickly say “Not very. Why?”

He says “DANCE WITH ME!”

I look around, NO ONE is dancing here. The bar is barely full. I’m not drunk enough, he’s not cute enough, it’s just not happening.

So I respond coyly ”Umm…no.  I don’t think so.”

And he come back full-throttle – “DANCE WITH ME!”

Again, I’m like “No…no…that’s okay.”

This time his eyes look like he’s going to explode and he says “COME ON JESSICA! DANCE WITH ME!”

All of a sudden, I scream out “No! I can’t! I can't do that.  I’m not the girl that dances in empty bars!”

He pauses. Looks at me, WINKING  and says “That’s okay.  It's your loss.”

Seriously. This kid just winked at me. What do I do now?

It appears I don’t have to do anything because he proceeds to self-proclaim “Well, I’m just a hopeless
romantic. That’s what I do. I’m the guy who would show up at your house in a limo with roses and want to take you out to dinner.”

And, I’m thinking “Well, I think limos are kind of tacky and I’m not really a fan of roses.”  But, right now I’m just trying to make it through the night.

We’ve hit the awkward patch and there’s not that much to do, but he starts talking about how the last time he was here, he tripped on a step, fell headfirst into the emergency exit door and chipped a tooth. And he was there alone that night. But not to worry! He made fast friends with the table next to him. Now I know why he rarely gets past the second date.

The situation is not getting any better, so what do I do? Oh, I make it worse by agreeing to go
back to his place. I know, I can’t even justify it.

So, here we are, back at his place and he’s all self-conscious about how small it is. “It’s a downgrade, " he says. “I’m buying my parents a house, so I moved into something smaller.”

“Oh, this guy IS a nice guy. I mean, come on, what girl isn’t going to second guess herself there.”

But that quickly disappeared when I get inside his studio apartment, and he proceeds to show me three
framed PROM photos. Yes, that’s right. He is a 26 year old man living alone with photos from his prom on display.

And, if that isn't bad enough, he has this paper collage on his wall. I honestly tried to
erase the images from my mind, but I do distinctly remember a bright pink photocopy of two blondes
wearing big black sunglasses saying “Good luck in LA!”

So at this point, I’m thinking. Alright. It can’t get any worse. Right? Apparently I was wrong.

He’s like “Wanna watch my reel?”

Oh god! Just what every girl wants to watch--- an acting reel full of student films, local low-
budget commercials, and direct-to-dvd shorts.

Not quite sure how to abruptly leave, I say “sure.”

After sitting through this really cheesy commercial where he’s a dorky guy wearing some love
cologne that makes him irresistible to the ladies and then watching some other painful portrayal of him doing i don't even know what, I have decided a few more minutes and I’m out.

But the next film is so shocking that I don't know quite how to leave. It's this creepy short film where he is playing a mime. And I should probably mention here that ever since I was three I have had a huge fear of clowns, mimes, etc.  I ruined several trips to parades and circuses for my brother and sister, as we'd always have to abruptly leave with me in tears.  But it isn't just that he's a mime, it's that he’s tied up and being brutally beaten by an angry clown with a mallet - who can't seem to stop laughing and he can’t scream, because HE’S A MIME.  It's not really how you want to picture your guy, you know?

So I'm sitting here, having an out of body experience where I'm looking down at this situation thinking "how on earth does this happen to you, Jessica?  How do you always find these guys?"  I have to bite the inside of my lip to keep from laughing.  The climax of the movie arrives and he finally kills the demented clown with a jack-in-the-box (don't even ask). The best part about that is that he had one of the most annoying laughs ever, and now that he has killed his captor, he's free to laugh. While the credits are roll, that's all I can hear.

It finishes. I take a deep breath and look over at him, feeling almost sad "wow, does he really thinks this works?"

He asks “do you want to spend the night?”

 I’m thinking "What? Have you been on this date all night?  I actually have to get the hell out of here and I’m praying that one of my girlfriends is actually up right now because I am in need of some serious therapy!”

But, I politely yawn, telling him that I need to get home. He says “you can sleep on the couch.”

“No. I really have to go."

He comes back with “but, we can cuddle.”

In my head I feel like screaming "WHATT??????" but I stay firm “no, I have to go.”

It’s just like the damn dance. So, finally he walks me out.

A week later I emailed him telling him he was a great guy, but I just don’t think I’m the girl for him.
After all, he’s 26 and still wanting to go to the prom, and I’m the girl that’s not dancing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

romantic comedies

i know it's so clich├ęd to say, but i am a total sucker for romantic comedies - even the bad ones (i realize i'm developing a pattern here -- first the bachelor, now this).  it's one of my secret no-longer-single girl behaviors.  after having dragged poor jeff to a couple (he gets major points for that), now i just either go with a girlfriend or by myself and sit back in the dark theater, eating my buttered popcorn and enjoying every minute of the sappy lovefest. on the rare rainy day in la when i'm feeling extra lazy, i'll even watch a good ol' lifetime television for women movie - the cheesier the better.  what is it about them?  i know i can't be alone here.

so the next time you just feel like checking out and watching some completely unrealistic, fluffy love story, here are a few i recommend:

crazy, stupid, love -- two words: ryan gosling

when harry met sally -- my all-time favorite

500 days of summer --
this indie romantic comedy made me fall in love with joseph gordon-levitt

bridget jones's diary -- i remember laughing hysterically when reading the book and being so excited to see the film adaptation.  it did not disappoint.  every woman loves a little mark darcy, right? 

pretty woman -- if only for this line: "big mistake. big. huge!"

how to lose a guy in 10 days -- this is one of those that falls into the bad category, but i can admit to watching it whenever i see it on hbo.  hope and i still to this day, laugh when we say "bullshit" in matthew mconaughey's southern accent (keep in mind we're also known for quoting horrible lines that no one else remembers).  also, why do the girls in romantic comedies always have these amazing apartments and are super stylish when they live in cities like NY or LA and have jobs that would no way support their lifestyle?

love actually -- this is 8 different romantic comedies shoved into one delicious christmas story and it gets me every time.

definitely, maybe - i have to say i went into this one thinking it was just going to be one of those bad movies i will secretly like -- but it was actually really lovely and i appreciated how they mixed up the romantic comedy formula.

what are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

dinner parties

last weekend we went over to our very good friends' house for a lovely dinner party.  my friend marcia is one of those people who just makes up recipes in her head and the result is always delicious.    i think my favorite might have been the roasted grape salad, but there was so much to choose from. below is just a sampling of the night:


Friday, February 17, 2012

so thankful for ...

i know i've been a terrible blogger this week, but with family in town and a crazy work week i just needed a little down time.  of course, spending lots of quality time with myself made me realize the things i'm thankful for :

valentine's day love

my amazing sister who is an excellent listener and even better advice giver

office visits from king (whose baby doll is actually named baby bill mahers)

slumber parties with my tita

my snuggle bugs

Friday, February 10, 2012

i'm thankful for ...

east coast marys
a little morning birdwatching

random flowers on a wednesday, just because

my cute mama

pale pink shirts on men