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My Birthday in Cape Town

I spent my 27th birthday in what has now become one of my very favorite cities in the world.

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I woke up to a completed 27th year to discover Aram was on the road to recovery from his epic illness, which was the best present I could have asked for. We made our way to breakfast at More Quarters to find a tower of handcrafted cupcakes (complete with edible sparkles) waiting for us at our table, with a note from the staff saying they had donated to the Matchbox project in my name.

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After breakfast, we went to the Cape of Good Hope, saw some penguins, and then dropped off our group at the hotel to get ready for dinner.

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Three of us decided to go on a hike at Table Mountain where there was zero visibility. We learned that when South Africans say “zero visibility”, they mean it. We also learned that there is a lovely little restaurant that serves beer on tap at the top of Table Mountain. After making the most of this find, we decided to go on a hike in the fog. I definitely suggest you listen to the warning signs before going on any of the more dangerous trails.

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We somehow managed to stay alive and have a great time even though visibility was quite sparse. We made it down just in time for dinner.

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Shannon (The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful) made us reservations at Mount Nelson’s restaurant. The kids got their own table and Brian and I decided to eat anything we couldn’t easily find at home. We had smoked crocodile salad and tons of bush meat, but our favorite was the Springbok.

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We ended the night with a champagne toast and sparklers on a dessert to celebrate the end of one of the most exciting and interesting years of my life.  This was by far the greatest way I could ever think of to celebrate a birthday.

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birthday11Thank you again to More Quarters and DSA Vacations for creating a trip of a lifetime.

 

Happy Birthday Aram!

Happy Fourth Birthday Aram!

You are so so loved.

On this day, you had your (very scary) early start at life:

But look at you now!

NOW THAT is worth celebrating!

 

Happy Birthday Daddy!

My dad turned 63 this week!

I’ve received so many lovely responses from his Valentine’s Day letter to me.

I know people liberally use the term “greatest dad in the world,”  but mine really is great.

Here are some of the reasons I think this:

The Protector

  • When I was little my dad used to carry me all over the neighborhood.  I took naps snuggled up with my head resting on his shoulder. He would go socialize with the neighbors and point things out while I was safe in his arms. One day we were on our walk in the winter. I was bundled up and had fallen asleep. A neighbor had run-off water on the sidewalk that had frozen. My dad didn’t see it and slipped. He was going to land on me. Somehow he managed to twist his body around and land directly on his back. This put his body in the most vulnerable state, but he did it so that I would be safe. He suffered cracked ribs and multiple injuries by protecting me. Much to his surprise and delight I was still sleeping when he landed.
  • Another memory that sticks out for me was when my parents took a very short walk into town when we were all in Carmel.  It was 9:00 AM and they were both hit walking on the sidewalk by a drunk driver. When the paramedics arrived they wanted to take both of my parents to the hospital (my father had dislocated his shoulder and tore his rotator cuff.) My dad had my mom go in the ambulance and decided rather than to have police come to the door and scare me (I was thirteen at the time), he walked back to the cottage to tell me that they were hit by a car, but everything was going to be okay. He then drove himself to the hospital.

 

Not surprisingly, these movie characters always have reminded me of my dad:

Mufasa

Basically, if he was a character in a movie he would die in a blaze of fire protecting those he loved.

A Mirthful Man

My dad was very present in my childhood. I would love even going on trips to the grocery store with him because he made every activity enoyable. Always positive, always enthusiastic about the littlest things. My dad was and still is FUN.

Fun Memories With Him:

  • Monarch Butterflies! My dad taught me all about them. I used to LOVE butterfly season.We would take  pictures with butterflies after they had been refrigerated so it looked like they had landed on my hand (I don’t want your letters PETA)
  • Playing “who has the best page” in a book
  • Helping put the abalone shells in the outdoor fireplaces in Carmel
  • Riding in the tent-like contraption attached to your bike singing our made-up “Buddy ole pal song”
  • My dad and I both would read books on roses and all the different varieties so we could help my grandma build her rose garden
  • Going antiquing! I love history. I think I have my dad to thank for that. There is something amazing about finding something 100 (plus) years old and thinking about its past owners.
  • 7-11 trips (mundane you may think, but not with my dad as a father!…quite the adventure)
  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium- My dad was one of the historians there. Pretty cool.
  • The turtles we went out special to get. They lived in the well (and may have been eating by raccoons, but they were nice while they lasted)
  • Helping plant the garden in Carmel
  • Birdhouse collecting
  • Eating at the Mongolian BBQ place that my mom was afraid of
  • Teaching me how to drive in the Enron parking lot
  • I would wake up at 4AM to go to the gym with him so we could stop at the bakery on the way back and visit together.
The Inspiration 
My dad taught me the most through his actions:
  • Integrity:My father led a very successful high-profile company. I don’t remember with joy any of the achievements of his business (and there were a lot), but I do remember the more important lessons from his career. My father took after his father (my grandfather) on his treatment of employees. To this day I will meet someone who has worked for one of them, and they always have the same loving words to say about them. They took care of the men and women that worked for them like they were family. Understanding that there is no true hierarchy in the human race has been ingrained in me because of my father and grandfather.
  • Love: By the way he cares for my mother and his children
  • The Importance of Family: After my Grandfather passed away (my mother’s father) my Grandmother was elderly and living alone. My dad made the decision that she should live as close to family as possible. So he moved her into our house! I was two when my Grandma Alice came to live with us. She lived with us for over ten years, up until the day she died at 93 years old. Her quality of life was great up until her final days, and even though my parents did it out of love for her, my siblings and I were able to get so much out of having her around, as well.
  • God First:
    I learned this one the hard way. Being an Atheist up until my early 20s it was the one thing of all the teachings of my parents I dismissed. My parents are wonderful and understood never to force their beliefs onto their children. They could help teach and guide, but it ultimately a relationship with God is invidual should be respected and sought by each person. And that is exactly what happened.
 Happy Birthday Daddy!
You are a good man. 

 

 

Dark Alleys, Flapper Dresses, and Absinthe- Oh my!

I’ve been dying to take Brian to a Speakeasy.

We have heard great things about The Edison in downtown Los Angeles.

Earlier in the day Brian Surprised me with some of my favorite things:

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Then off we went to The Edison.

It’s in the basement of the Higgins building, which still hosts the first generator in Los Angeles.

We entered through a back alley. And walked down a few flights of stairs to enter.

Pretending to be shady characters in the dimly lit alley.

They kept with the 1920′s style throughout the entire venue. They even incorporated the original generator into the design.

Generator Design Behind Me

1920s and 30s Movies Played On Large Projectors

Their specialty drinks stay true to the time. Brian was loving that there were so many bourbon-based drinks on the list.

I had a great drink with gin and elderberry.

Brian’s favorite was called “The Edison.”

My friend Shannon (The Woman Formally Known as Beautiful), her husband, and my friend Mary then met up with us.

Then,  the Green Fairy came to visit us (literally)

We decided to go for the ceremonial absinthe with dripper.

Shannon and me with our prohibition spirits

I’ve never tried any form of absinthe, so I was pretty excited.

Here is a quick history of absinthe:

  • At the end of the eighteenth century, the drink was invented by one Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor who distilled wormwood and other herbs in an alcoholic base as a remedy for his patients.
  • At the end of the nineteenth century, absinthe was embraced by the literary bohemian crowd who gathered in European cafes and claimed the Green Fairy (La Fee Verte) as their muse and inspiration.
  • The end of the twentieth century brought to an end nearly 100 years of nonsensical prohibition in parts of Europe. As a result, a new fin de siecle in crowd began discovering the delights of the absinthe drink once again. -source

Absinthe is an alcoholic drink made from Artemisia absinthium (a plant better known as grand wormwood) and a range of other herbs such as fennel, anise, melissa and hyssop. Actual recipes have always varied by country and manufacturer, as has the quality of each absinthe brand. Traditionally, the drink was quality-classified as either absinthe suisse (the best grade; alcohol content of 68-72%), demi-fine (50-68% alcohol) or ordinaire (45-50%). -source

It is believed that the louche process of adding water to the strong alcohol allows the release of essential oils from the herbs from which the absinthe drink is made, particularly thujone-bearing wormwood. These oils, drinkers believe, not only counter the usual intoxicating effects of alcohol, but they also bring the mind to a peculiar state of alertness, enhance one’s sensory perception and even unlock hidden creative powers — hence absinthe’s popularity among nineteenth-century avant-garde artistic community. -source

The Green Fairy (la fee verte)- as it became commonly known, was most popular in France. Most days started with a drink and ended with the “green hour” (l’heure verte) as one or two or more were taken for its aperitif properties. It is interesting to note that it also has aphrodisiac and narcotic properties. Authors and artists were proponents for using it to induce creativity. -source

The amazing popularity of the Green Fairy caused her eventual downfall. Many European governments, as well as the U.S. administration, gave in to the pressures of the anti alcohol lobby and banned the drink in the early years of the twentieth century. Absinthe proved a relatively easy target for the anti-alcohol movement, which blamed wide-spread “absinthism” — a mental condition the drink supposedly caused — for a whole range of social problems. French winemakers, nervous about the sharp decline in wine consumption, also backed the calls for the banning of the “green devil”. -source

I left the 1920s completely (and happily) sober with a belly full of anise flavored booze, and into the 2012 where we turned back into pumpkins:

ignore the mess in the background

and were welcomed home to these little cuties:

 It was a good day.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To Me!

I’m taking the day off to celebrate my birthday with my boys!

Birthdays make commoners celebrities for a day. I am taking this role seriously.

Sunglasses must be worn indoors and at night.

I also gave Brian my requirements for our bathroom My dressing room:

  1. All White! If I see an eggshell washcloth or a vanilla hued rose there will be hell to pay
  2. With the exception of the red carpet that I must always be standing on
  3. My nose must always be entertained by the smell of imported exotic florals from the far east. If fresh is not available, I will accept condensed extract of these flowers, painstakingly made into a perfume, and sprayed around the room.

I know, it’s a short list. I’m not letting this go to my head. I need to stay grounded for my children (who will be cared for by their 12 nannies today)

 

A dear friend of mine also pointed out it is Fat Tuesday. So, we will be doubly celebrating.

(where is my mint julep?)

Samuel’s Birthday!

December 17th Samuel turned FIVE!

I can’t believe it!

We had a party at my parents’ house!

My grandma came because she never misses a hot party.

My niece came because Samuel LOVES her (She’s 5’11″ and looks like a supermodel, I can’t really blame him)

and all of his boy cousins showed up.

Even my cousin Whitney and her husband Bryan showed up with their adorable daughter Declyn! Whitney knitted him an adorable hat for his birthday in his favorite colors (gold and pink, he’s not flashy at all…)

All Samuel wanted was a “Jungle Junction” cake. We spent about $100 on this stupid baby toy just to take the little parts out of it to use on the cake.

 

Number Sixteen- Pre-30 Bucket List

November 17 I completely overbooked myself.

My cousin came in from San Francisco and her plane was delayed. Then off we went immediately to the boys’ MMA class.

Aram bringing down Big John McCarthy

When the class was over we raced back to our neck of the woods. Dropped the kids off with Mali, and ran off to the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy event. Rolls-Royce that weekend was also showing off their new Phantom Hybrid.

Lori, me, and Alexandra in the new Phantom

Jonathan, Alexandra, me, and Rankin, whose gallery it was (He and Lori have the same pose!)

Lori looking at the pieces with her artistic eye

We left the event and went home to change. At that point we were running way way behind schedule! We were supposed to meet my friend and her friends for drinks before the new Twilight movie, but between the flight delay, the bomb in the bus on Ventura Blvd (yes, bomb) and being overly exhausted, we couldn’t quite do it.

We did, however, make it to the 12:45AM showing of Breaking Dawn (which was fun in the beginning and took an overly strange turn at the end…)

At 6AM we arose and got ready to head out to Las Vegas.

When we got there the room was much bigger than we anticipated. The staff kept opening more and more locked doors that led to bedrooms and bathrooms….

Yeah the TV’s come up out of the bed! Very “MTV Cribs” circa 2001

That is me texting! #hellfrozeover #pigsfly

The birthday boy and me! I always attempt red lipstick in Vegas, and I’m not really sure why….

We were determined to wear sequins the entire vacation….

Happy 30th!

Then we went to an “ice bar” which is basically a bar inside a giant freezer with some crazy ice scultptures. They call it “minus 5″ because that is how cold it is…but we soon figured out they meant Celsius…We weren’t roughing it as bad as we thought.

The highlight of Minus 5 were the cocktails in ice cocktail glasses! They were not only delicious, but we got to shatter them when we left.

Virtual fire in Minus 5′s “lodge”

Jello Shots – I can’t believe I made it through the entire trip without throwing up.

I decided to smoke a cigar. I figured all the junk was getting in my lungs in the casino anyway, why not join in? Ohhhh I am so not a smoker. I got the worst headache and had to go up to the room to clear my head after partaking in a vanilla flavored stogie.

 

Lor discovered her gambling addiction…in the form of slot machines!

I actually won money in Vegas! I  almost lost all my winnings at a Black Jack table, but then, luckily, won it all back!

I discovered how much I hated penny slots! They have the worst return and totally drain you! $50 min. Black Jack is safer! (not kidding!)

With that being said, I completed number 16 on my Pre-30 Bucket list!

 

We Finally made it home where my parents were waiting with the boys! Monta! and Sprinkles Cupcakes!

 

 

Happy Birthday Mama!

Happy 61st Birthday Mommy!

At 60-something you look better than at 30-something…

You now:

You then:

Thank you for….

Breastfeeding me for 6 years, and showing me there is no reason to be ashamed of feeding your baby:

Dressing me for Siberia in 60 degree weather:

Reading to me:

Teaching me the importance of family:

Teaching me how to swim (truthfully, Ali taught me, but I had the pictures…)

Teaching me how to cook:

Teaching me to stop and smell the roses:

I would just like to point out I’m wearing real Ugg Boots in this picture taken in the early 90s. Trendsetter? I think so…

Taking me everywhere:

I Love you SO Much!

Love,

Your favorite daughter ;-)

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