4.30.2015

Doing That Library Thing

I'm not very good at this library thing.  I said I wanted to read more books this year and I am thanks to the library but sometimes it feels a little complicated and I'm always two seconds away from getting a fine.  Which isn't the end of the world or anything, but I'd rather not.  I had a fine balance of a whopping $4.00 in 2010 and it took me five years to pay it off.  It's cheap enough.  When all is said and done I come out ahead when you consider how much I would have spent just to buy one book, but it's the principle.  I need to return them on time.  I have a calendar reminder in addition to the e mail reminder they send three days before.  I renew what I can on line, and cart around what I can't in my car plotting the optimal time for me to swing by and drop it off.  I had to renew the last set twice and one was on a different cycle because it was a second renewal from the first set.  Are you still with me because even I'm confused?  Anyway, I couldn't renew it again because someone was requesting it so I had to drop that one off before these were due and I barely avoided a fine because I put it in the book drop on the last day pretty close to closing.  These three made it back exactly on the due date.  It's basically a game of let's see how long it takes me to get a fine and when I do, I'll just consider it a donation.

I'd probably do a whole lot better if I limited myself to 1 or 2 but when I walk up to the new release table which is sitting right at the front entrance, and see 4 or 5 that look interesting I have to get them all.  Get aaaaaaallll the books and worry about finishing and turning them in on time later.  The time limit is annoying, but I'm pretty sure it's helped keep me reading.  Heaven forbid I don't get a chance to read one, or even worse if it's really good and I don't get to finish.  I might have to take the fine for that one.

Remember the old days when it was so much fun to go to Blockbuster and pick out a movie for the weekend?  And how annoying it was trying to remember to get it back in time?  Their fees were much worse, but it's like that and I know there has to be a better way.  In fact, there is a better way and the information card that the nice man at the library desk gave me about it is still bumping around in my purse.

The next book I read will be Gone Girl.  I've waited long enough so I'm going to download it from Amazon and dig in this week.  The plan was that I read the book so we can watch the movie before MJ heads off to Europe because if I watch the movie I'll never read the book and I'd hate to miss out on what I've been hearing is an awesome reading experience.  I won't even need to do a review for it because everyone already read and liked it.

Even knowing that I planned to read Gone Girl I STILL couldn't resist checking out books when I turned in my last set.  I should have done the book drop to avoid temptation but at least I limited myself to two.   Maybe I should keep them in the car so I don't get too attached and we'll see if I can keep my no fine streak going.


The Wonder Spot
by Melissa Bank
The Wonder Spot follows Sophie's quest for her own identity—who she is, what she loves, whom she loves, and occasionally whom she feels others should love—over the course of 25 years. In an often-disappointing world, Sophie listens closely to her own heart. And when she experiences her 'Aha!' moments—her own personal wonder spots—it's the real thing. -Via Goodreads

It's kind of a slice of life kind of story.  There is no dramatic plot or storyline so if that's the type of book you like this may be a little long winded for you but I actually enjoy that kind of story.  It follows a girl from adolescence to adulthood and is basically about what she discovers along the way about herself and life.  The author's writing is very artistic and descriptive and she throws in humor where you least expect it.  I really enjoyed this book. 

Otherwise Engaged
by Eileen Goudge
Jessie Holland is in search of a hot story for Savvy magazine when her editor poses a compelling question -- can you ever really go home again? Jumping on the idea, and with her love life currently at a crossroads, Jessie plans to return to her Arizona hometown and follow the path not taken -- with a twist. Her best friend back home, Erin Delahanty, is dealing with a crumbling marriage, a teenage daughter, and the demands of running a bed & breakfast. Needing to take stock of her life, she agrees to Jessie's offer: she'll live in Manhattan for six months, while Jessie steps into Erin's shoes. But the choices and challenges they face take them by surprise...and what began as a daring magazine article will change both women forever. -Via Goodreads

This was another good read for me.  Who in their real life has never wondered what if or wondered what it would be like to live the life of such and such and that's basically what this book is about.  The story that unfolds is very interesting.  Each of them have man drama they need to resolve which also affects their decisions about whether they want their old life back or if they want to keep their new one. 

I've Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!  Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.  What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life. -Via Goodreads

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this one but once I did I found it to be a really straightforward and fun read.  The one thing that bugged me is that there are footnotes throughout the book to say things that are not necessarily relevant to understanding the character or the story.  It really annoyed me at first because I didn't want to read them, but if they were there I felt like I had to.  Like, my eye immediately went down to read the footnote even though I already knew I wouldn't be missing out on much and that I didn't want to read it.  Cute idea, I just wasn't a fan.  The book eventually picked up, I got better at ignoring the footnotes and it turned out to be a really cute story with several laugh out loud moments.  I don't usually find myself laughing while reading so that was cool.  It's a girl talk easy read kind of book. I read Confessions of a Shopaholic and I like that one too. 

Not pictured because I had to return them in a hurry and didn't get a picture.

Where We Belong 
by Emily Giffin
Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her. -Via Goodreads

I really liked this book.  I was interested from the start and it didn't take me too long to get into it.  The story switches back and forth between the perspective of Marian and Kirby and it's really interesting to see the struggles and emotions surrounding adoption from both sides.  I hate it when books don't end the way I want them to and this one did not disappoint.  It wasn't the perfect storybook ending but it was a good ending and leaves you hoping that there is more of that happy that you want to come.

The One & Only 
by Emily Giffin
Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.  But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets. -Via Goodreads

This one was a slow start for me, but it got good.  I was a little bit skeeved out by the idea of this woman being interested in her best friends much older father but he was described as handsome and striking so that helped.  I was all over her dating the hot NFL guy but in the end I found myself rooting for her and the older man.  There is a lot of football talk and football worship in this book.  I am not interested in football at all and there is a lot of football talk and football worship but it didn't detract from the story at all.

4.17.2015

Fashion Don't

I was humming along just fine all week until Thursday hit and I spent the day fighting the urge to hide out in my car and take a nap.  Or go home.  Today is better, but as always Friday could not come soon enough and I'm glad it's here.  I'm looking forward to cleaning my house (not really), getting some errands done (not really), relaxing and spending the weekend with MJ.

How 'bout some Friday confessions.

I confess that I think this might be the longest time I've ever gone without a glass of wine.  It's been two weeks.  Send help.

I confess that I let all of my magazine subscriptions lapse and it's like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  At one time I was up to three and even when it dwindled down to one I just couldn't keep up anymore and was always a few months behind.  If I have a magazine I must read it cover to cover.  I'm allowed to skip articles if I want to but I can't just skim the pictures and be done.  I enjoyed them but getting through each one became a chore so I ignored all of the LAST ISSUE notices from Glamour and let it go.  They have not yet tried to coerce me with a free gift.  Yet.

From the Fashion Don't Files
I confess that I wore a fuchsia shirt, a black and white skirt and black boots to work with Navy Blue leggings and I did not realize that my leggings were not black until I was getting out of the car at the end of the day.   Looking back, it did cross my mind at some point that the black seemed "off" with my boots but I chalked it up to lighting and kept on stepping.  And there I was all excited that my outfit matched my lunch bag which also matches my cell phone case.  Little did I know.  I guess that's what happens when you get dressed in the dark and spend all day under ugly fluorescent lighting.  Hopefully there were no other fashion don't moments this week but there is no way to know for sure.

I really hate getting tagged on Facebook in pictures from high school.  It doesn't happen a lot but when it does I'm mortified.  Appearance wise I was a hot mess.   I mean, HOT MESS.  It's just too embarrassing to have to publicly revisit those images.  I always untag myself immediately and recently just switched my sittings so that I have to approve all tags.

I confess that I didn't know Kate Middleton was pregnant.  The first time around I couldn't NOT know.  It was everywhere.  Either baby number two isn't nearly exciting as baby number one or my head is buried in the sand.   

I confess that I hurt myself getting dressed.  I think that's also a fashion don't.  The only thing worse is probably hurting yourself sleeping and I think I've done that too.  I pulled my shirt over my head and somehow managed to tweak my left shoulder to the point where it hurt for a few days to raise my arm and do push ups.  Getting old is hell.


4.10.2015

BO-Beau Kitchen + Garden

We usually end up in The Gaslamp, Hillcrest or North Park when we go out to eat.  I love those areas but I also like finding places a little closer to home where we don't have to deal with the whole parking situation or lack thereof.  La Mesa has some really cute restaurants and I'm so glad it's the home of  BO-Beau Kitchen + Garden.  It's usually pretty packed and we couldn't even get a reservation for last Saturday eve but they said we could call ahead to check on the wait so we decided to give it a shot.  There was no wait at the time we were ready to go so we got seated right away in the outdoor patio.  It's a really pretty area under a canopy of trees surrounded by lots of greenery.  It's one of those places where you walk in and feel right at home.  The ambiance is just right.  The tables are dark and rustic and I almost jumped out of my seat with excitement over those blue mason jars.  
Their Brussel Sprouts with bacon are some of the best I've ever had.  This is our second time and I will have to get it whenever I go there because they are just so good.  Vegetables can be really bland but these brussel sprouts were full of flavor.  I ordered the Boeuf Bourguignon which is basically like a beef stew with potatoes, baby carrots and onions.  It came with a side of hot bread in a cute little brown baguette bag.  I wanted to eat the whole thing in one bite.  I almost did, but I'm off bread for the time being so I restrained myself.  The meat was so tender it fell apart as soon as I stuck my fork in it and the sauce was delicious.  It didn't look like that much food but it was.  I ate as much as I could, but had to take some of it home and it was even better the next day.  MJ ordered the Burger Royale and added a fried egg on top.  Not my cup of tea but he really liked it.  It was huge.  He was only able to eat half of it.  

I ate out a lot that week.  Let's see,  Bertrand at Mr. A's on Saturday, Rei do Gado Brazilian Steakhouse on Wednesday, The Yard House on Thursday and Bo-Beau Kitchen on Saturday.  All of which are in the Gaslamp except for Bo Beau Kitchen and it also was one of my favorites.  Two were Birthday related, but also I had to get it in while the getting was good before I started Whole30 which basically cuts out everything.  Well, not everything, but practically.  I did a modified version of Whole30 (so not really-I'd say closer to Paleo) during that week by cutting out all grains, dairy, added sugar and processed foods.  I called it my "transition week" because I made all Whole30 compliant food choices but allowed wine and didn't worry about the exact way my foods were prepared.  When you are eating Whole30 supposedly you don't have to give up dining out.  You can eat out, but you have to be willing to be "that person" that wants every minute detail regarding the preparation of food and every substitution in the book.  I really don't want to be that person so I won't be eating out for a while.  Bo + Beau's did not disappoint for my 'last meal' or my last sip of wine. Sniffle.

4.06.2015

A Tale of Two Monday's

The weird thing about last week is that I was off on Wednesday for my Birthday, back to work on Thursday and then our office was closed on Friday.  It was like having two Monday's and two Friday's.  It was a three day week that felt like forever and I didn't feel rested at all but that's what I get for being that weird person who insists on hoarding vacation days. 

The older I get the less significant my birthday feels and I was totally prepared to hate it this year. I even started a diet two days before that cuts out sugar among other things and hid my birth date on Facebook.  I don't know.  Maybe it's because it's the first year my parents are gone or because it was on a Wednesday.  Maybe it's just because I've had so darn many.  After a while it's just like, oh this again? This year when I thought about my Birthday instead of cake or festivities the only significance that crossed my mind is that I'm another year closer to my imminent demise. Totally morbid I know, but that's all I thought of and not in a bad way if such a thing could not be thought of in a bad way.  It was more of a calculated assessment of time.  I wasn't necessarily sad about my Birthday, just blah about it.  Maybe I was bummed by the general lack of interest in my day of birth more than anything else. 

The only thing on my Birthday agenda was to take that day off and get a facial.  I knew that even if I didn't have the birthday blues being at work would surely push me over the edge and I just couldn't bring myself to go there.  I'm pretty sure I would have spent the day laying in bed alternating between staring at the ceiling pondering the meaning of life and reading but my husband intervened.  I said he didn't have to, but he took the day off anyway and made plans.  After my facial I came home, ate breakfast and relaxed with a book for a while before we headed downtown for a movie and dinner.  I was amazed at how different downtown looks during the middle of the day.  It was fun trying to identify the tourists; and I think that's all there was because it was a random Wednesday afternoon and everyone else was at work.  What wasn't fun is watching MJ eat an ice cream cone and not having have one for myself myself.  The streets were deserted and so was the movie theater.  There was one other person besides us at the 2:10pm showing of Insurgent and I didn't see a single customer on our way in or out.  The movie was really good and after that we walked over to Rei do Gado Brazilian Steakhouse.  I'm on a meat kick and we've already been to Fogo De Chao so I wanted to give it a try.  It looks like an overly ornate hotel restaurant from the 90's but the food was really good.  I ate so much meat I was still full the next morning.  
The lone Birthday Pic
I even tried to skip out on the annual friends Birthday dinner.  I didn't not want to do a birthday dinner nor did I want to but I threw it together at the last minute anyway after one of my girl friends asked me about it.  When I said, not this year she said YES-we should.  We met up at Yard House on Thursday after work.  One of my friends just had a baby and it was her first time drinking wine in a year so if nothing else, I'm really glad to have been a part of breaking her wine fast and the six of us had a really fun time.  It's the 3rd year in a row and I'm so glad I allowed myself to be convinced that we should do it again.

If it's your Birthday and there is no official picture to commemorate it, did your Birthday still happen?  The answer is yes, because social media be damned if we could stop aging by forgoing photo ops none of us would be any older than thirty.  It's also still your Birthday even if you didn't eat cake.  Both are new revelations for me.  My husband is not a picture taker.  He didn't offer that day and I didn't ask because of the whole blah about my birthday thing and there were none at the girls dinner although they did sing Happy Birthday which was awkward and awesome all at the same time.  The only picture I got to commemorate my Birthday was a picture of the free restaurant dessert that I didn't even eat.  I don't think I've gone a single Birthday without an official "It's my Birthday!!" pic so it bummed me out for about five minutes.  I only drooled over the cake for five seconds before I slid it down the table for someone else to eat.  I got over it and fun was had by all.
  
MJ started asking what I wanted and what I wanted to do over a month ago.  My answer was always nothing or I don't know.  Usually, I can come up with something but I wouldn't give him anything.  I had no ideas for my mom or sister either.  I didn't want anything to do with with my Birthday this year and I really can't pinpoint why, but instead of giving me the nothing that I asked for he gave me everything.  He made it special even if I didn't want it to be.   He gave me himself that day (along with an Amazon gift card) and that matters much more than having a picture of any it.  

4.02.2015

Fine Dining is Fun and Funny

Over the weekend MJ took me on a surprise date.  That morning he said we're going somewhere nice and we're leaving at 4:45pm.  I waited promptly until 4:25pm to rush around and get ready.  I'm really low maintenance like that.  We'd spent most of the day doing fun things like cleaning the windows (him) and vacuuming floors (me).  The weather was gorgeous though and demanding to be enjoyed so I was glad to get out of the house.

I knew something was up when he washed a load of dress shirts and reached for his dress shoes instead of flip flops or chucks.  He is not a dressing up guy and rarely does it even if I beg so I was really wondering where we were going that would cause him to go to such lengths.  When we showed up at Bertrand at Mr. A's it all made sense.  They have a dress code.  Button ups required and no open toed shoes are ever permitted so he really had no choice in the matter.  It's kind of an interesting set up because it's on the top floor of an office building.  You don't feel like you are going to a restaurant until the elevator doors open at the top. 
They don't call it fine dining for nothing.  From the minute you walk in they treat you like kind of a big deal.  We were greeted politely and led to our table by a man in a suite and tie who held the door open for us, pulled out my chair and laid the cloth napkin in my lap.  Being the country bumpkin that I am I didn't realize what he was doing until he said, "For your lap."   Once seated our waitress rattled off a long list of specials half of which I could not remember once she walked away.  I was impressed that she can even say half the words most of which I had no idea what they were let alone recite it all from memory.  She brought us our wine selection and poured just a little bit in MJ's glass before patiently stepping back and waiting for him to taste it and give his approval.  I'm curious to know if you are really allowed to say no.  Can you say you don't like it and would like to try a different bottle.  Then, what if you don't like that one?  Is it just a formality to pretend you have a choice when in reality all bottles will end up on your tab anyway? I am happy with $2 wine from Walmart so there is no chance I'll ever reject a $30 something bottle of wine.  I don't know how these things work.    
At a nice restaurant you are the star and servers stalk you, but in a good way.  They are most definitely watching you even if you can't see them doing it.  You don't even get a chance to pour your second glass of wine before they are doing it for you and there is no begging for more bread.  It just shows up.  One person seated us, another took our order, another brought us our entree's and yet another refilled our water glasses never letting it go below half.  They are an army ready to leap into service so that the minute you look like you might need something they are right there.  The only way to make them stop is to stop eating or drinking but you won't do that since that's what you came for.  They were so attentive that I don't even feel bad when our waitress offered to take our picture.  Twice, because the sun was causing too much back light the first time.  You don't have to give up your first born to get a dessert menu or the check either.  They don't rush you, and yet when you are ready to wrap it up it's right there and the service is definitely reflected in the cost of your steak. 

The food was good too.  It better be right?  I got filet Mignon and MJ went for half filet and half short rib.  Our dessert was like a giant Twix bar but better.  Sitting outside was AMAZING.  The weather was perfect for it and I actually felt kind of bad for the people sitting inside because they were really missing out on the weather and the view because they don't put pull up the sunshades on the giant wall of windows inside until after the sun sets.

Fine dining is funny.  There is always that awkward moment where the amount of times your water glass has been refilled borders on embarrassing and someone is picking up the garnish that fell off your entree plate and scraping your crumbs off the table with their fingers where you kind of feel weird that someone is serving you so astutely.  It's also fun though because it's nice to be catered to and get the star treatment every now and then.  I'm just a little bit of a restaurant snob.  My Applebee's days are done.  I need some ambiance when I dine out.  The VIP five star treatment is not a necessity but it sure is nice every now and then.  Thanks to the husband for such a sweet date. Neither one of us had ever been there before and now I want to go back sometime to experience it at night. 

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