Monday, December 31, 2012

The last 7 years...

My Macbook hates me. Ok, so it doesn't hate me... but it is almost at its memory capacity and therefore running like crap. Alas, I decided that before I shell out money for a new laptop it would probably be best if I cleaned out the current one first. I started with my iPhoto library. For those that know me, it should come as no surprise that the majority of my memory has been dedicated to the storage of my photos. I take photos all the time. I used to take those photos with my trusty Canon camera, but I've relied more and more on my iPhone lately (call it laziness). 

Anyway, as I was cleaning out the pictures on my trusty Macbook, I came across dozens of photos (and memories) that I had completely forgotten about. Long lost friends, coworkers, vacations... it was quite a rush of memories to my noggin. Some of the pictures brought me so much joy - some made me relive pain or realize sadness. But all in all, I'm glad that I have all these pictures to remind me of where I've been (and so I can get a move on to where I'm going). What follows are a couple of my favorite finds in these albums. Enjoy!

Long lost friends from college

The last picture I took in Albuquerque (of my favorite eclectic site on Nob Hill)

My first drive home from Houston in 2006

My oldest niece's first trip to Houston

My last Richton Christmas party before moving to New Orleans

Mom's visit to New Orleans (when brother and I both lived there)

My youngest niece's first trip to Houston (and K's second)

My first sleeping picture of my dog - the day that I adopted him!

Hope you've enjoyed my random trip down memory lane! I'll post more if/when I come across them. Can't wait for the adventures to come in 2013!

Until next time...

--- Becks

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where are you, Christmas?

I hate being sick. Ok, now that I got that off my chest, I can write this little blog post. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. As a kid, I would start planning for my next Christmas immediately after it happened. The lights, the music, the magic - I didn't even need the stupid presents. I just loved the holiday so much! Literally, all my parents would have had to do is put up a tree and they had a happy kid on their hands.

Christmas in New Orleans and Houston was especially magical. The decorations in New Orleans had a wonderful, historical charm. The Quarter was dressed in its best greenery, and the city itself was decorated with lots of glitz and glam. Houston was much more modern, but still as impressive. The 50 amazing silver trees on Post Oak were always my favorite, and the lights on the buildings downtown were so festive and fun. I really enjoyed it!

Over the course of the last two years, though, I felt like my Christmas spirit slowly being pulled from under me. I was working too hard, sleeping too little, and frankly, didn't have anyone else around that liked celebrating it with me. The friends I used to celebrate with all picked up and moved on, my family's struggles back home got worse, and my spirit started showing some wear. I tried to hang on to - I really did - but I feel like this tug of war has finally won against me. It breaks my heart.

I don't know why this Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas. Usually, my tree and lights are up immediately after the holiday; my Christmas cards usually go out shortly after that. I have gifts wrapped and ready for mailing by the 2nd week of December, and I usually host a dinner or two at my house for my friends. But this year? None of this has happened yet. My team holiday lunch turned into a lecture, my tree is still packed away in the garage, and I've only bought 3 of the 15 gifts I have to buy this year. And don't even get me started on my cards... my apologies to everyone expecting one. I promise to get to them "soon," but not sure when I'll feel up to it.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer - I know it's not me (although, I keep saying that a lot... God, please don't let it be me!). I just had to get this off my chest. Tomorrow is another day, and I'll face it happily and enthusiastically. I hope this feeling doesn't last, and really hope it's not affecting anyone else too. Sigh. Well, off to bed. Big day tomorrow! Thanks for listening - whomever reads this. 

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Walking in LA

I try to fly my mom out to visit wherever I live at least once a year, usually the month of my birthday. This year was no exception. Since I had unfortunately already planned my vacation for the rest of the year, I made sure to make the long weekend worth our time! I already told you about our trip to Sequoia National Forest - again, can we say amazing? But what I didn't tell you about yet were our trips to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

My brother lives here, but (like me) he has a difficult time finding time off. Luckily, we all were able to find one day off together so that we could show my mom some of our favorite things to do in LA. We had originally planned a pretty full day, but factoring in traffic and our own exhaustion, we opted for an abbreviated tour. My mom loves Hollywood, so I thought it was only fitting to give her a bit of Hollywood flavor in our day in LA.

A lot of people complain about Los Angeles, but I actually love it. There is just so much to do! First, we hit up downtown to show mom Angel's Flight and the area where we stumbled upon the Batman (Dark Knight Rises) set. We also took a tour through the FIDM Museum. FIDM became famous when Lauren Conrad attended there on The Hills, but it has actually been around since 1969. FIDM's main campus is surrounded by beautiful Grand Hope Park on the southwest corner of Grand and 9th. The museum is open to the public, hosting terrific free exhibits dedicated to the art and history of fashion. The exhibit during our visit was the 6th Annual Art of Television Costume Design. It featured costumery from shows like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Pan Am, Once Upon A Time, and many more. Sadly, you are not permitted to take pictures so we took one outside instead :)

After we exhausted downtown, we headed west towards Beverly Hills to show my mom the Television Out of the Box exhibit at the Paley Center. I posted a little bit about this in a blog earlier this year (see here), but it was totally worth a second visit. The Television Out of the Box exhibit includes props, costumes, and video from many of Warner Brothers' most popular television shows including Friends, Seinfield, Gossip Girl, Fringe, True Blood, Big Bang Theory, Wonder Woman, and many, many more. It's only $10, parking is free in the garage across the street (up to 2 hrs), and your ticket gets you BOGO cupcakes at Crumb around the corner. I mean, how can you afford not to go?

I am such a cheesball...

Mom and brother dining at Monk's (from Seinfield)

We're not friends, but we play them on TV (well, props from TV)

No trip to Beverly Hills is complete without a trip to the Cupcake ATM!

Our last stop on our mini tour d' Los Angeles was my new favorite viewpoint - the Blair Drive view of Universal Studios in Studio City. Fellow blogger Lindsay introduced me to this secret this summer, and it's now on my "must show" list for when I have visitors from out of state. From Blair Drive, you can actually see the War of the Worlds set, along with peeks at the Grinch set, the Psycho set, and Falls Lake. It is so cool!

Not the greatest pic of me, but you get the idea...

Really cool - smoke even rises when the tram passes by!

As the sun started to set, we meandered through Burbank back home, stopping at Porto's on the way. Porto's is an A-MAZING bakery located in the heart of Burbank. They have a huge assortment of treats and breads to fit any carb-loving heart's desire. It's very affordable too - we came home with cupcakes, fresh bread, and a couple of croissants for less than $10. All in all, it was a fantastic day in LA. Even my brother couldn't complain! Ha! I'll be posting about our day in Santa Barbara eventually, so stay tuned.

Until next time...

--- Becks

I Heart Football

My friend, E, moved home to Denver, CO about a year ago. She moved to New Mexico in 1998 to go to college, and spent the last 9 years trying desperately to go back. When she finally moved back last winter, I knew I had to make a trip to see her. I haven't seen her since I moved to CA... which makes this "break" the longest we have had in our 10+ year friendship. It was time for a reunion, and neither of us could wait.

E and I decided it would be fun if I visited her around my birthday, so she invited me to come out for a Bronco game (she's a season ticket holder). After looking at our schedules, it seemed the Broncos vs Saints game was our best bet. I booked my flight, and headed out to Denver via Burbank - just 4 days after my birthday! We were both so excited! It had been WAY too long since we had seen each other. Coming from CA, I had totally misjudged my clothing. I showed up in jeans, a hoodie, and my Converse sneakers... and there was snow on the ground! It has just been too long since I've lived somewhere cold. LOL! But man - isn't this view worth the cold?

View of the Rockies from Denver

The Saturday before the game was also the Saturday before Halloween. Initially, E and I figured we would go out, but not necessarily in costume. But the more we talked about it, the more we thought it would be fun to do something. After some discussion, we decided to go en muerto - in celebration of Day of the Dead. We figured we could just paint our faces and wear our regular clothes. Oh, how silly we looked! But hey - we had fun!

E and I - showing off our "awesome" makeup skills

We spent the day of the big game pre-gaming - watching NFL Gameday and eating our favorite Philly Cheesesteak Pizza. It felt like I was in college all over again! A couple hours before the game, we finally got ready and made our way down to Mile High (Ok, I know it's not called that anymore, but it will always be Mile High to me!). So happy E had a Broncos sweatshirt I could borrow - I definitely would have been the only one without some kind of Bronco attire if she hadn't.

E and I before the game - Go Broncos!

While this was not my first time to Mile High, it had literally been a decade since I had been there. It felt so new! It's such a great atmosphere compared to the stadiums I had been to in the last few years (Saints/Superdome and Texans/Reliant Stadium). I absolutely love that its an open air stadium - it feels so much more like a real football game to me!

My lovely view from our seats

Funny enough - this game marks the 3rd time in 4 years that I've seen the Saints play. My very first Saints game was in 2008, when I was invited by my boss to watch the Saints take on the Steelers. Our seats were in the company suite, which was amazing! Anyway, it was that game that made me a huge Drew Brees fan. He's such a good guy, and does so much to support the city of New Orleans. Last year, a friend invited me to stand on the sidelines at the Texans/Saints game, and I got to actually say hi to him in person. It was awesome! Here he is again - for the 3rd time ;)

Drew Brees!

My other favorite quarterback is still not the quarterback of my favorite team - curse you, Jay Cutler! Instead, it's Peyton Manning. I am not a huge Colts fan. I used to tolerate them before they beat my Bears in the Super Bowl, and I still kind of liked them because I liked Manning so much. But after they cut him, my feelings towards the Colts went cold. Sigh. Kudos to Manning for sticking it to them, and for proving that he still his has some great years left in him!

Crappy picture - but yay! Peyton Manning!

The game was amazing. The fans were awesome, and it was fun seeing the Saints play again. New Orleans is a city that will forever hold a piece of my heart, so I love most things associated with it :) That being said, I was so happy to see the Broncos play so well! My dad is a HUGE fan, so I find it hard to not root for them (unless they're playing my Bears!). 

I never tire of a view like this - even if it's not my #1 team

In the end, the Broncos won and my trip sadly came to a close. I am still so happy I went and got some quality time with E. We had so much fun! I told her she better not let it be another year before we see each other again. This is a hard promise to keep, but I know we'll both try to keep it. 

Best Friends - with a Pom Person!

No matter how many times I move, or how long we're apart, I'm always glad I have friends like E in my life. It's good to have people around you who know you outside of who you are in the office. As much as I've tried not to change, I know I've inevitably done so. But as life goes on, and while we all grow up, it gives me comfort to know I have several friends that will always keep me grounded. If y'all are reading this - I love you!

Until next time...


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Zero to Thirteen

I miss running. I miss the feeling of the ground pounding beneath my feet, the air deep inside my lungs, and the wind in my hair. I miss the strength running gives to my legs and my core. I miss the freedom that fitness gives you. I miss it all so much, I can hardly take it anymore.

So, why am I not running? Oh, there are so many reasons and excuses I could use here... but do you really want to hear them? Two knee injuries. Heavy school (and now work) loads. Laziness. Relocations. Weather. Now, some of those excuses were plenty valid for a while, but I can no longer think of one that doesn't involve utter laziness.

I stopped running in 2001 after I seriously injured my knee for the second time. It was my own fault - not my body's. I was running 6 miles/day plus going to the gym once or twice a day... PLUS working on my feet in heels at night. I wasn't eating right, or sleeping right, and I definitely wasn't resting when I should. My body just gave out. So when I started my senior year of college, my injury and my course/workload gave me an easy excuse to quit. Oh, how I wish it would have been temporary.

Through the years, I have made many, MANY attempts to pick up my exercise routine again. I've tried running, but I always get worried once I move from the treadmill to the open road. I exercise, but with no real regularity. Luckily, my dog requires at least 2 walks a day... of which, I participate in one of them. UGH! Why do I continue to let myself get so lazy???

This summer, I participated in two 5Ks. The most fun of the two was the Color Me Rad 5K. Never heard of it? Basically, it's a casual run during which you are pelted with corn flour color bombs. It was so much fun!

I know the new year is a couple of months away, but I am already preparing one of my resolutions. Starting last week, I have been training to run again. Ideally, I want to get myself to a point where I could do a half marathon by this time next year. I know I should start with a "Couch to 5k" program, but why stop there? There are several races I'd like to do between now and then, so I might as well get started. Here is my list for 2013, helping prepare me to go from zero to 13.1:

I'm sure I'll hear of other shorter runs that I'll want to participate. The goal the really is just to make it fun to run again. I used to love it so much, I didn't need a gimmick to entice me to do it. Now that I'm lazy and in my 30s, though, a gimmick now and then doesn't hurt. Ha! 

I'll make sure to post my crazy race stories as they happen. Until then, I hope you'll be cheering me along. Come hell or high water, I will be fit again.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hiking with Giants

Hello, my friends! Sorry it has been such a long time since I last posted anything. October turned out to be quite a busy month! My mom came to visit early in October, which was a real treat. My brother was able to get some of the time off too, so we had a great time. One of the amazing things we did was take a drive to the Sequoia National Forest. 

Sequoia National Forest

First - a confession. This was not my first trip to Sequoia. I had gone on no less than 2 adventures to this forest, trying to find the Trail of 100 Giants. I had grown up in the mountains of northern New Mexico/southern Colorado, and had seen plenty of pine forests. It wasn't until I heard of the giant trees in the Sequoias that I ever wanted to actually travel to see a forest. From what my teacher told me, the trees were the largest in the world. You could park a bus inside them! This completely blew my mind, and I knew that one day I would just have to see them. So why not go until now? Well, Google maps doesn't have the trail mapped - crazy, right? Well-meaning coworkers gave me instructions that got me lost in the forest, and I never can read/understand the forest service maps. I was, however, determined to change this when mom came to town. 

For this trip, I opted to go by way of Hwy 99 north to 65, then cut over to County Road J22/Ave 56 to California Hot Springs. This is a very quiet, desolate road with very little cell phone service. I advise you of this so that you make sure you have a full tank of gas and a spare tire in case you need it (we only came across 5 or 6 cars the entire drive). It is an easy drive, though, with amazing scenery. I think mom really loved it! (Note: These directions are incomplete - check out this link for directions).

A foggy afternoon near California Hot Springs

After about an hour and half drive, we had finally arrived! These trees completely lived up to my expectations. There are few things that take my breath away, and this was definitely one of them. Truly awesome! Below are some of the amazing pictures we captured from that day:

Trail marker at the beginning of the trail

Giant looming behind the more normal-sized trees

A one hundred year old "sapling" in front of a mid-size Sequoia

This giant fell on the trail last fall (of 2011), and closed the trail for several months. 
The chainsaws aren't strong enough to cut it up, so they're leaving it there. 

Mom and my brother at the base of one of the trees

Brother and I inside one of the trees - you could literally park a truck in here

Beautiful sunset on our way home

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. If you haven't gone before, I totally recommend it. It's truly amazing! I have many more adventures to post, and promise to do so when I have time. 

Until next time...

--- Becks

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ticky Tacky

"Little boxes on the hillside..."

Since its debut in 2005, I have been a surprisingly huge fan of the show Weeds. Surprising because not only have I never done a drug in my life, but also because I didn't even have cable when the show debuted. I was at my now ex-boyfriend's house when I first stumbled upon Weeds, and I was immediately hooked. I insisted that we watch it anytime we happened to be at his house when it was on. I don't know if it's the dark comedy, the characters, or the tone of the show... I just liked it immediately, and have been a huge fan ever since.

Now, I'm not going to lie - there were a few seasons where the show went to places I didn't really understand. I was really sad when the Botwins left California, especially after they left their original home in Agrestic and headed south to Ren Mar. The opening credits the first three seasons were so darn catchy! And I loved the neighborhood they lived in. I was so excited to see them return back to California this season (to the renamed Regrestic neighborhood), and am excited to see how they wrap everything up in the finale tomorrow - no matter how sad I am that the show will end afterwards.

Now, being a huge fan of filming locations, I was always surprised that there weren't more posts regarding filming locations for this show. The first few seasons were at least based in Southern California, so I assumed they did the filming on location here. Having recently relocated to Southern California myself last fall, I made it a goal of mine to find the Agrestic neighborhood since I was just sure it had to be near LA. Last week, I randomly searched for the show on Wikipedia, and was elated to discover that they actually had found the neighborhood! (Why hadn't I checked Wiki before?). The Agrestic neighborhood is actually Stevenson Ranch, located right off of the 5 in Valencia, CA. I literally take this exit almost every time I head south to LA... how did I not see this before?

Last night, my brother asked if I would take him to visit The Getty. He had never been, and actually had a Saturday off (which never happens). I told him I'd be happy to go, as long as we could stop by Agrestic on the way! I was so excited - I even made him stop for Starbucks on the way in honor of Nancy Botwin (who is never without her iced coffee drink). Can't you just feel my excitement in this picture?

Stevenson Ranch Fountain/Agrestic Fountain
Holmes Pl & Stevenson Ranch Pkwy, Stevenson Ranch, CA

There are several other Weeds film locations in the neighborhood, so I vow to go back and do some stalking when I have time. It was just so cool to finally see the site I had watched on TV for so many years. God, I love living in California! It may have been a scorcher in Southern California today, but with an iced coffee drink (I'm drinking the Very Berry Hibiscus Green Coffee) and a nice breeze, I'll put up with it any day. Want to stalk it yourself? The Agrestic/Regrestic fountain is located on the corner of Holmes Place and Stevenson Ranch Dr in Valencia, CA. You can't park on Stevenson Ranch Drive, but if you turn up the hill on Holmes Place, there's plenty of space to park to get your picture. Definitely a must stalk, my friends.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just Listen

I've had a tumultuous August, full of angst, heartbreak, and fear. While some of this was self-imposed, some of this was unexpected and frankly just sad. I really, really, really wish I could write on this blog exactly what has happened this month - maybe someday I can (please realize that this is not only about love, but also life/work/happiness in general). Until then, I have to just speak in ambiguities, trust that life will get better, and look forward to a long weekend away from work. I'm very tempted to book a last minute overnight stay on the beach... stay tuned.

In the meantime, I've compiled a group of songs that may be able to somewhat convey my feelings of loss, fear, stress and anxiety. Some of these will be obvious, but I know others will only make sense to me (and maybe a few of my closest friends). Regardless, I hope you enjoy the music anyway, and truly hope that each of you is having a better month than I seem to be having., I don't want to know.

Cause I'll keep singing this lie if you'll keep believing it...

Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down

And every day is a brighter day...

I have a lot of thinking to do the next couple of days, and some decisions that I have to make that I'm not sure I'm ready to make. Alas, so is life. I'm just going to try to keep my chin up in the meantime, and try to remind myself that I do deserve a life of love and happiness. Life is full of peaks and valleys... and hopefully I'll start climbing again from here.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Worth the Drive!

Ah, August... I normally hate you. After living on the Gulf Coast for more than 1/2 a decade, it's hard not to. In the south, August usually means the arrival of the 3 Hs: Heat, Humidity, and Hurricanes. Blech. While I won't say it hasn't been hot here in California, it is true that a dry heat is much better than a humid heat. It may just have been my best August yet!

I drove to the coast this weekend to attend an alumni event out in Ventura. The event was titled Chile Fest XX, and was basically an excuse to gather, eat good New Mexican cuisine, and buy roasted green chiles at cost (which is nearly impossible outside of New Mexico). What is green chile, you ask? Well, to explain it to Californians, I usually have to refer to an Anaheim pepper. They look about the same, but a Hatch green chile (Big Jim/Medium or Sandia/Hot) has a deep, semi-fruity flavor with a biting heat. Have it roasted, and it gets a nice smokey flavor as well.

Green chile is a staple of any real New Mexican's diet. We put it in everything. It's so common that you don't really think about it. It's in your breakfast, lunch, dinner... and sometimes your desserts and wines too! Needless to say, we take it for granted. So imagine my surprise when I moved to Houston in 2005... and couldn't find it anywhere! I was shocked - sad - disappointed. How would I ever eat well again?

Houston proved to be an ok place to eat (ok, so the food there is amazeballs, but that's not the point). Luckily, there was at least one restaurant that had a Hatch green chile sauce, and both Whole Foods & Central Market both had roasted green chile available for a couple of weeks in the fall. But it never was the same. It was super expensive for one, and you could only buy it during that short window of time. I had been spoiled by the convenience of finding green chile year-round... it took some getting used to.

Seven years later, I find myself in Southern California, where chile verde is a staple in Mexican restaurants. Still not the same, but it's the closest I've had in years so I'll take it! And even better news? As I mentioned before, my alumni association has an annual green chile roast on the coast in Ventura! Hurrah! Did I mention how much I love California? :)

Today was definitely a treat, both for my tastebuds and my olfactory system. The scent of green chile roasting is so intoxicating. I'm sure I won't get the smell out of my car for months, and I love it! Oh, and did I mention what we had for lunch at the festival?  They served 3 types of tamales with your choice of red or green chile sauce (I made mine Christmas), posole, Spanish rice, and pinto beans. It was so good!

Alas, it is Sunday so I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked to... I had a 2 hour drive back to my house. So I packed my chiles in the ice chest, took my time wandering through the mountains, and enjoyed my ride home. Upon my arrival, I packed the chiles in smaller baggies for freezing, and told my brother about the fun I had today.

Being tired from all that driving, my lazy bones couldn't bear the thought of cooking tonight. Instead, I went down the street to the local In-N-Out burger for a cheeseburger and fries. Of course, I just had to add a couple of my freshly roasted green peppers to it - it tasted so much like home! Sigh. I will sleep good tonight! I'm so excited to have this in my freezer now, and can't wait to try all of my old recipes here in California. If my friends are nice, they may just get to sample some of it too! Ha!

Until next time...

--- Becks

Saturday, August 25, 2012

So Fresh, and So Clean!

Better keep yourself clean and bright; 
you are the window through which you must see the world - G. B. Shaw

The last couple of days have been so strange! After my last post, I have been fighting off the urge to allow myself get into a funk. Work has been challenging (in both good and sometimes awful ways), family has been stressful, and my self-confidence has been shaken. What gives?

Yesterday, I was fortunate to have my friends for work invite me out for a night on the town. Well, a night out... which is as much as you can do in the town that I live in. (I miss the city!) First, we went to a cute wine dive in the middle of a strip mall on the suburb-ish side of town. They had a two-person jazz ensemble that was fantastic. The girl reminded me of a friend from Albuquerque... actually, the entire experience reminded me of good times I had back home. It was awesome, and they even played one of my favorite sad jazz songs:

I know it sounds sad, but it totally fit my mood. Not that I let that ruin our fun though! After a couple of hours, we left and went closer to our side of town to this random burger joint called Eureka. Eureka is famous for its burgers... and it's impressive whiskey selection. I'm not much of a drinker, but both of the girls decided to try the $22 whiskey flight. Woo, did that put some hair on their chest. Just smelling it made me woozy! I stuck with a local favorite called The Real McCoy, an Amber from Mammoth Brewing Company. Not a bad beer at all, but a little sweet for my taste. I wouldn't call it a "girly" beer... but a little sweet nonetheless. 

The Real McCoy (with a glimpse of the whiskey flight in the back)

All in all, it was a good night and I had a great time. Today, I woke up happy and eager to start my day. The morning started well... I had a good (albeit hot) walk with my dog, had a nice enough lunch, and had fun with a Facetime chat with my nieces. I was pretty darn happy!

This afternoon, however, I had a couple of issues come up (that I won't get into on here) that really brought me down quick again. Have you ever felt powerless when things were happening to others that were beyond your control? Or does that only happen to me? Sigh.

My brother and I went out to dinner this evening, and he let me vent about what happened this afternoon. It was very therapeutic, and I left dinner with a clearer mind in addition to my full tummy. We stopped by Target, and I got my groceries for the week for under $100 which was awesome. I came home, threw some clothes in the washer, and jumped in the shower. 

I don't know if it was the stress from the week, the hot water, or the smell of the Field of Flowers by Philosophy bath gel I was using, but the entire experience felt a-mazing! I didn't do anything out of the ordinary... but I did allow myself to just feel the water hit my skin. I let the water and soap wash away the feelings of powerlessness I had been having. I let myself breathe in the light, crisp smell of the shower hitting the shower floor. And I watched as my poor self-image went down the drain. It felt good,  and I felt ok for the first time in the last couple of nights. 

You see, despite what happens in my life, I know that I have the power within me to choose to be happy, or to wallow in my sadness. I don't see the point of wallowing when there is so much in this world, and this life, for me to be grateful for! So today... and for as long as I can... I am consciously choosing to be happy! Isn't that what we all want anyway? Why not just make it so! 

Well, I'm off to finish laundry and to head to bed. Big plans for my Sunday! Hope y'all have sweet and pleasant dreams.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer's Almost Over...

My niece called me the other night to tell me how school was going, and it suddenly struck me... summer is almost officially over. Where did the time go? I cannot believe we are already well into August! Needless to say, the thought really took me off guard. Summer is for relaxing, going hiking, and being lazy by the beach. WHY DIDN'T I DO THOSE THINGS? Oh, that's right... it's because I was spending my summer like this:

Another funny thought occurred to me while I was mourning my loss of summertime. Despite the hatred I have for summertime in Houston, I always used that hatred to fuel my need to take a vacation (or two) during the summer months. Yet, I haven't taken a single real vacation since moving to California last fall. Now, one could argue that there is no need to take vacation when I live in the state I often vacationed to... but... vacation doesn't feel like vacation without a hotel stay! Where was my beach? Where was my pool time? Where was my sanity?!?!

Now, while I could sit here crying and enjoying my pity party while I continued to NOT enjoy what few days remain for summer 2012... I decided I should actually do something about it. Of course, leave it to me to want to start enjoying it at 7pm on a Friday night. Sigh. Thankfully, my friend V let me come over to throw back a couple of cold ones and watch the fish swim in her saltwater tank. :) Yes, I'm that easily amused. And if Mohammed can't get to the mountain... improvise with an ocean in a box! Ha!

When I woke up the next morning, my decision was finalized. I WOULD GO TO THE BEACH! Yes, that's what I would do, even if I had to go by myself. I was not going to spend another day wasted on my couch in the hot desert of the Valley. This morning, I called my friend J and invited her to join me. Luckily, she went thus saving me from a lonely day on the coast. We packed up and headed to beautiful Malibu!

Now, one of my favorite things to do when I go to the beach is to eat fish. Yeah, pretty sick, I know. But for some reason, the smell of the salty air just makes me crave seafood - especially sushi! Sadly, Nobu is not open for dinner, my favorite restaurant (Duke's) had an hour wait, and we couldn't think of another place that sounded good. J whipped out her phone and used Yelp to discover Bui Sushi, located off the PCH near Pepperdine. The place had a 95% approval rating and good reviews, so we figured it would be fine. 

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna - Bui Sushi

Now, I normally don't write reviews of places unless I like them... but... I have to make an exception. Why on earth is this place reviewed so highly? I ordered a Rainbow Roll and the Crispy Rice. Both dishes were reviewed as "fresh" on Yelp. Um... I guess you could call it fresh since I was made that day? But the tuna definitely didn't taste terribly fresh. Blech. And the crispy rice tasted more like a deep fried rice cake! Yuck! The hostess was kind of snooty, and our waitress, while sweet, was inattentive. I could see if they were busy, but they just really weren't. I've had better sushi in grocery stores. It made me kind of sad. It made me really wish we would have held out for Katsuya later in the day....

My typical Katusya favorites - California roll, Crispy Rice, and Edamame! YUM!

After our underwhelming experience at Bui, J and I decided to check out the Sprinkle's Cupcake ATM in Beverly Hills. What's that? You never heard of a cupcake ATM? Oh, man... have you and I been missing out!

This is genius! Ok, so maybe that's pushing it a bit far, but seriously... how cool is that? Even though there was no line at Sprinkles, I just had to try the ATM! Wouldn't you? The ATM works just as the video above explained. You select your cupcake, swipe your card, and voila! Cupcake is in hand less than a minute later. Now, while this obviously is a silly choice during business hours (especially if you have a secret word for a free cupcake - check out Twitter!), it could definitely come in handy after hours. And who hasn't had a random sweet tooth while traveling? Hehe. Below is my cheesy picture after using the cupcake ATM. If you're not in the mood to try this, you should at least give neighboring Sprinkles Ice Cream a try. The line was ridiculously long, but those cupcake/ice cream concoctions sure looked tasty! 

My cheesy post-ATM face... man, I need a tan.

Alas, all good things come to an end. I'm home now, laundry is done, and my hair is finally dry post-shower. Tomorrow's Monday, meaning another long week at the office. Sigh. But, at least I can face this week knowing I didn't waste one of the last remaining weeks of summer! Next weekend, I'm off to Ventura for an Alumni Green Chile Festival. Sweet! Well, I'm off to bed. It is almost midnight after all. Sweet dreams, my bloggy friends.

Until next time...

--- Becks

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nerves of... glass?

So my blog goal was a total fail. Work was not easy this week - it never really is, but this week was especially stressful. I've literally been coming home 2 hours late, and getting to bed an hour early. I'm just so tired! Sigh.

In addition to this week's stresses, I have a big event tomorrow that I'm totally nervous about. I wish I could go into more detail... let's just say that I hope it goes well! My stomach is just a bundle of nerves, and I hope that I can just hold it together through tomorrow. Would hate to crack under all this pressure before then. It's times like these I wish I had my best girlfriends close by.

In other news, I discovered a new piece of trash TV that I just may be in love with. Have you seen "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" on TLC? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, "The Learning Channel" is now bringing another series to the airwaves that actually reduces the number of brain cells in your little brain. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I love it! The family is insane (and I can't believe the mom is my age!), and the little girl is adorable. Mind you, she's adorable in a completely obnoxious way, but I find it endearing how much she truly enjoys pageantry. Thank the fates for this show this week - watching this train wreck may just be the only thing that saved me from a meltdown! HA!

Well, that's all I have in me to type today. Hopefully, I'll have a better blog soon! In the meantime, enjoy your lives! And don't work yourself too hard like I always seem to do ;)

Until next time...

--- Becks

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New week, new goals

Hello my lovely friends!

A dear friend of mine recently informed me that I have been neglecting my blogs. Now, the other blogs are not blogs I have ever kept up regularly, but I had planned to keep this one up. What have I done?!?! Alas, a new week always brings with it the opportunity to do better, so I hope you're ready!

This week is going to be a rough one - I have a pretty big event on Friday (that I, unfortunately, cannot yet divulge), so I'll definitely need an outlet for my stress. I honestly don't know why I don't blog more anyway. I have always loved it! 

Well, stay tuned and check with me later this week. Hopefully, my posts will be worthwhile! Ha!

Until then...

--- Becks

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Old Fashion'd

For the most part, I grew up in New Mexico. Specifically, I grew up near the Four Corners area (where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico come together for a quick kiss in the desert southwest). Why bring this up? Well, boys and girls, this is where I first discovered my love of fashion. Yes, FASHION.

Now, as I've said many times before, I am no fashionista. Lord, give me a pair of shorts and a comfy old t-shirt and I will be the happiest girl around. But I adore looking at fashion! I love the various textures, the colors and patterns... the seasonality of it brings me so much joy year round! Now you may be asking yourself... what does all of this have to do with growing up in New Mexico?

New Mexico is not known as the fashion mecca of the modern world. People there dress for comfort and practicality - rarely does one go out in expensive designer garb unless it's a special occasion. That being said, there is definitely a sense of style in the southwest. Turquoise, velvet, and silver are always popular, as are cowboy boots and sweeping skirts. A lot of the fashion culture is borrowed from the many Native American cultures found within the state, a culture so rich in history that it always fascinated me. And it's no wonder - the Native American fashions are beautiful!

AP Photo/Coeur D'Alene Art Auction, Michael Scott

So, you can only imagine my delight when I saw the above picture in CBS news on Monday morning! The gorgeous shirt above recently sold for an astounding $877,500. Why so special? The shirt, which dates back to 1877, was originally owned and worn by the infamous Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe. In fact, a portrait of him wearing the shirt can be found in the Smithsonian. This same portrait was also used for a US Postage Stamp once upon a time. From what I can tell from the photo, it appears to have been made from deerskin, horse hair, and possibly feathers. The beautiful, intricate beadwork still looks to be in good condition... even if it has been over 100 years since it was made. Wow! I truly wish I could have seen the work in person. It's just so fantastic!

Lately, there has been a resurgence in affection for Native American-inspired fashion. In fact, even the most recent Target ad had a whole page dedicated to Southwestern style. Very cool. Now I can tell my more fashion-forward friends that I was really ahead of the times for all those years. Ha! In the meantime, I'll continue to adore actual fashion (and fashionable people) from afar... you can find me at home, probably hanging out in my shorts. :)

Until next time...

--- Becks

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Christmas in July! (...sort of)

This is day 2 of being sick on my days off (ugh - I don't even get the benefit of sick days? SO LAME!). Anyway, because I can't really do much more than lay around and feel sorry for myself, I've spent the bulk of my last two days watching Sex and the City, blogging, and buying things I don't need online. I've also spent the last hour or so reading other people's blogs and tumblrs, which has led me to discover so many cool things (and to spend the aforementioned money online). 

Anyway, one of the coolio things I learned about today is the super fabulous upcoming collaboration between Target and Neiman Marcus. 

What a smart idea! Target has long been bringing high end fashion to the masses with partnerships with the likes of Missoni, Zac Posen, and Jason Wu. This partnership with NM, however, looks like it may just be the biggest (and, possibly, most successful) partnership to date. If the teaser above is any indication, Target shoppers are going to experience the luscious luxury of 24 fabulous designers. Marchesa! Alice and Olivia! Diane von Furstenburg! And it looks like two of my favorites, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta, too! EEEEP!

Oh, how I can't wait for the holidays to roll around now. How very clever for these two companies to partner like this! Well, back to my SATC reruns!

Until next time...

--- Becks

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hot Summer Days

The temperature outside today was 105. My car said it was 140, but whatever (and that's why I'm an idiot for having a black SUV, ladies and gentlemen). Regardless, it was H-O-T! And while I will sit here and complain about this heat, today's "feels like" temperature has nothing on the hell-like humid awfulness of Houston, TX last summer. Bah!

But anyway, I digress... hot days today make me a little stir crazy. After spending the bulk of the last three years of my life in airports and hotels, I am shocked (and happy) to report that I have done very little traveling since relocating to Southern California last September. My suitcase actually remains unpacked for months at a time... my dog doesn't lose weight (he fasts the first day or two anytime I travel). I haven't stepped inside an airport more than twice in the last 10 months - a new record for me!

All this being said, I kind of miss it. The traveling, that is. Gone are the days of free flights and seat upgrades - those miles are long gone or expired. I miss the adventure of travel! I miss the crappy airport food, the sometimes comfortable hotel beds, the delicious "local" cuisines... Needless to say, I'm ready for a trip that doesn't involve work or a funeral.

Which brings me to my next topic... where to go? And when? Anytime the temperatures are hot like they were today, my mind immediately turns to fall. The crisp fall air, the crunch and color of the autumn leaves, football... and my birthday. I haven't had many good birthdays. I'm not blaming it on anyone or anything - bad luck just seems to linger around on my birthday. I really wish I could just punch Bad Luck in the face sometimes.

Without putting too much expectation on it, I'd really like to enjoy my birthday this year. Last year, I treated myself to a couple of days in Hollywood. I stayed at the W Hotel at Hollywood & Vine, attended a Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, got a pedicure at Bliss Spa, and went on the Warner Bros Studio Tour! All of this was very fun... and lonely. Oh, and did I mention I got food poisoning? Blech!

This year I want to try again, but maybe something a little less busy? I had originally envisioned a repeat trip to NYC for my birthday as I had in 2008:

Standing on the top of the Empire State Building, the day before my 28th birthday

Alas, a trip to NYC would be one I would have to make alone. While I'm comfortable traveling solo, I don't really want to do NYC alone - NYC is a city you want to enjoy with friends or a loved one.

So, after further consideration, I've narrowed my ideas to a few... Although I love the adventure that comes with traveling, this birthday I just want to go to places I know (or where I know people). Here are my ideas so far:

I know I left it in my rearview last fall, but I still have several close and dear friends there. 
Maybe I need to do a return visit?

New Mexico? Aka home! 
I am going there in a month for the birth of my nephew...  
Would October wouldn't be too soon for a repeat performance?

San Diego?
 It's been 3 years since I've been there, and it is one of my favorite cities... 
I love this view from the rooftop bar of the Marriott too! Alas, would it be as much fun alone?

I <3 Disneyland, but I've gone three times in the last 12 months. Excessive? Maybe. Fun? Yes.

I'll sit on this and think a little more. It's very likely that this will be a solo vacation unless I opt to go back home. Maybe a spa trip in Palm Springs or Phoenix could do me good? Hmm. I'll keep you posted.

Until next time...

--- Becks