Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

So today is New Year's Eve and tradition dictates that I am suppose to reflect on the previous year and list goals of the next year; although I’m not normally like that especially after I learned that only 5% of resolutions are kept. I figured “why bother?”

When I was younger, though, I used to set aside time the week before New Years to fill my journal with my adolescent drama and musings regarding the previous year and to make some New Year resolutions (usually something about writing in my journal more often). However, the past few years, I haven’t really had much time for that – it was a year! Whatever! It’s over! I’m so happy! Let’s move on! – but perhaps because this year marks the end of a decade (a decade consisting of my 20’s!), perhaps because I am exhausted and introspective lately, or perhaps because we plan to spend tonight on the couch with Rock Band, board games, tiramisu and a bottle of sparkling cider and therefore, I’m not racing around, I’m rather drawn to the idea.

Mostly, I will remember 2009 as the year “we had no plans for traveling,” but seemed to do a lot of domestic travel. This was pretty much my own fault, of course – Girl Has Serious Case of Wanderlust. This year, on the year the Rossini’s decided not to travel, I visited Alexandria, LA, New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, Pensacola, FL, Denver, Sacramento, Seattle, Cambria, Las Vegas, Alaska, Sequoia National Park, and Cabo, Mexico. And, did I mention that besides the Alaska trip they were all weekends away? Maybe it’s more of “Girl Has Serious Case of Wanderlust with Husband Who Has Limited Vacation Time.” But, 2009 was also the year of trying to establish myself as a freelance writer and finally, graduate from the “Master of Arts degree that never seems to end.”

Also, this was the year I got knocked-up. Maybe I’d given you the impression that I was pretty laissez-fair about that kind of thing, but the truth is that I sort of wasn’t: I was kind of quietly ready a few years ago, so the fact that we are expecting our little bundle of joy in February 2010 means that it isn’t a moment too soon. But, after all, good things come to those who wait.

I’m not very good at New Year’s resolutions – is anyone? – But in 2010, I think I am going to try a little harder not to be quite so anal and neurotic. I am not going to sweat the small stuff, I’m going to take more deep breaths, practice a little more patience and tolerance, grow thicker skin, and remember to prioritize some ME TIME in with my other obligations. I’m going to be better about folding the laundry and ironing my shirts, better about making sure my days are productive, and better about not spending money, and lose this pregnancy weight, and you know, keep a baby alive, happy and healthy. I also pledge very solemnly to be better about making sure I eat plenty of Mint Chip Ice Cream weekly in front of mind-numbing shows like Chuck, LOST, and Grey’s Anatomy because hey, I need at least one resolution I can keep.

Happy New Year! Much luck for the upcoming year and decade!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A very merry Christmas post

Happy Christmas, Internet!

I hope you all have a wonderful day with the people you love, giving and receiving fantastic presents, drinking lots of champagne, laughing your head off, and eating your weight in cookies, chocolate and ham. Which is exactly how I plan on spending tomorrow. (well, minus the champagne. But, please do drink a glass or two of bubbly for me. I mean, what are friends for?)

If you can be bothered to wait for the video below to download, you'll be treated to the Rossini family dancing as Elves in a comical rendition of Jingle Bells. Seriously, you'll laugh so hard you'll cry.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, December 21, 2009

My city celebrates: Los Angeles

I religiously read National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel Blog, in fact I can’t start my day without reading through their daily post. It’s like my Wall Street Journal. Anyways, ITB recently launched a new series, “My City Celebrates,” a spin off their “I Heart My City,” which I participated in last spring. As I love the holidays, and am resolved to making the most of my time in LA I thought it would be good for me to fill out this survey and tell the Internet exactly why you can “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” in Los Angeles.

When I need a dose of holiday cheer, I always head to the DWP Holiday Light Festival at Griffith Park for the Christmas music, beautiful lights and a walk in the crisp, cool air.

The best place to grab a cup of cocoa is Zona Rosa Caffe, in Pasadena on the corner of Colorado Blvd and El Molino Avenue. Their Mexican Hot Chocolate has the perfect amount of cinnamon and vanilla in every sip.

If you want to find great sledding you have to head to the Big Bear or Mountain High, but personally my favorite is to head to Mammoth Mountain for a snowy, weekend getaway.

Strap on your skates at Pershing Square and enjoy the view of the skyscrapers and historical landmarks of downtown LA.

For a classic holiday photo op, don’t miss Disneyland at Christmas with its seasonal decorations adding to its already considerable charm. Main Street boats a 60-foot Christmas tree covered with thousands of lights and decorations, Sleeping Beauty’s castle sports snow-covered turrets, and the nightly fireworks display include swirling snow, just for the season.

A great place to take the kids during the season is Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena. This historical landmark contains nearly 135 cedar trees decorated with nearly 10,000 lights.

For all of your gift-giving shopping in one store, check out Vroman’s (for book lovers), or the Beverly Center (a mall featuring classic American retailers) or Paseo Colorado in Pasadena for the ultimate outdoor shopping experience (since it usually is 72 and sunny during the Christmas season!)

The historic Farmer’s Market (at Third & Fairfax) has the best shops, produce, and strolling yuletide carolers; be sure to pick up delicious seasonal fruit, a sampling of nut butters at Magee’s House of Nuts, and a Christmas scented candle at By Candlelight for your next holiday party.

No holiday meal in my city is complete without a Peppermint Mocha at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

My favorite holiday tradition in my city is the sense of unity and respect that the citizens display during this time of year. Despite the growing diversity within the sprawling southland, generally people seem to respect the beliefs of the numbers cultures and religions all residing in the same area.

Locals know to avoid the throngs of shoppers at any of the classic mega-malls and find the real magic at the Glory of Christmas at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. This live-action pageant tells the classic Christmas story with actors, flying angels and a parade of live animals including camels, sheep, horses and a donkey.

The best part about my city during the holiday season is a rare rainy Saturday when it’s cold enough for a wood-burning fire.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Its all about Community


Are you guys watching this show, Community that is. I mean, honestly, it’s hilarious. We thought we’d start recording it, purely because it was on Thursday night, and we’re still loyal to NBC on this particular night. Plus, we thought it would make a nice warm-up for our evening – but now I would hasten to go out on a limb and suggest that perhaps we like Community even better than The Office and 30 Rock (Both which are falling hard and fast. What’s up with Dwight these days?) Man, we lead such wild lives! You should come over and watch us put the crib together on Saturday night while we talk about our budget!

Anyway, unlike The Office, Community is a traditional sitcom...well, a witty, creatively erratic sitcom. NBC describes the show as “Breakfast Club” fashion – although I think Breakfast Club and I think a return of Molly Ringwald and show tunes – but the jokes are sometimes just a little...sharper. The writing is clever, and the pace is brisk. The show is follows a Spanish study group and centers on Jeff Winger, a slick, but loveable layer forced to attend community college after his license is suspended. As a traditional sitcom, the show must include a love interest, and diversity: a religious black woman with attitude, a pop culture-spouting quasi-foreign student, a slightly pompous and considerably clueless senior (come on, we ALL had at least one in our college classes....), a former high school jock, a Peace Corps alumni, and an overly sensitive and easily offended nerd.

Are you watching? You should be. I mean, maybe then it would be less annoying when I quoted lines from the show if you were.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Some obsessions

Me? Obsessive? Is the pope Catholic? Is Edward Cullen a vampire? Is red wine the nectar of the gods? Is Tiger Woods seriously cheating on his supermodel wife? Well, just a little bit then, yes. Having spent the morning trying to get the measurements on photo sizes on my latest Blurb book (why yes, I just caught up with my 2008 photos, and my Alaska vacation!), but not so perfectly aligned that it looked too boxy, as well as neurotically reading consumer reports on stroller reviews, I decided that a little reflection on some of my old obsessions seemed curiously fitting.



Missing a day of running in high school and college was like telling me I couldn’t breathe. OH. MY. GOD. Meltdown. It was like I couldn’t function without my daily dose of endorphins. I had a schedule and a tempo and neurotically kept time with my stopwatch, and that could not be altered. Christmas fell on a Tuesday? That was a track workout; I needed to find a track. We were going skiing over the weekend? I couldn’t leave until I finished my long run on Saturday. And I literally mean timing my running – freezing the watch for any shoelace tying or red light waiting I had to endure. Seriously, if I tripped and fell over a curb (a regular occurrence with my two left feet) I would be sure to press stop on my way down.


It all started with this old poster my Mom had hung in the laundry room of the Kings & Queens. Then it was the Beatles. Then fish and chips with vinegar and tea and Prince William and Jane Austen and – for reasons I have yet to fathom – cricket. I longed to go to England, specifically to live in London: wear a uniform, go to Maths, take A- levels, and hang out at my local. I had an opportunity to study abroad in Dublin in college, which was my first time being so close (barring a 9 hour layover in Heathrow a few years prior) and I adapted to the Irish culture in an instant. I even took to calling strangers “Love,” watching Coronation Street and inhaling massive quantities of Cadbury chocolate and digestives. I ended up in England nearly half a dozen times during that 8-month stint, and every single time was perfect. Even now, years later from my last visit, I can still hear “Mind the Gap,” and see the pub near the Shakespeare Globe where we drank pint after pint of Guinness with the smell of curry lingering on the streets. I have to say, I’ve been disappointed by many things in my life, but emerging from Heathrow Airport and seeing the red double-decker buses has not been one of them.


I have no idea what it was about this musical, and why I discovered my passion for it in 1997, but for some reason I memorized all the lyrics to every song. Maybe it’s because John Travolta was so dreamy.

Sweet Valley High

When I was in junior high, I fell madly, passionately, irretrievably in love with Elizabeth & Jessica Wakefield and the whole Sweet Valley crowd. (What do you mean they’re not real people?) Even now, some 18 years later, I sometimes pull the book out at my parents’ house and read the back covers of worn books. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so obsessed with anything since. I really had it bad. In fact, I wanted to be a writer because Elizabeth Wakefield was, and I loved the color purple because it was the official color of “The Unicorn Club.” I used to read the books over and over again. Really, Francine Pascal should really be thanking my parents for putting her kids through college.

Gary Farrell

Poor guy, he was the object of my affection from 1992 until 1994. Yes, Internet I was in junior high when I fell in love with Gary Farrell, who was tall, handsome and the played percussion in the Travis Ranch Junior High Band. I was painfully shy (you would be too with a mouth full of metal and coke-bottle eye glasses). We had a few classes together (band being one of them – nerd alert!) and I would pretend to find reasons to talk to him, but I would merely turn bright red the minute I came within a 10-foot radius. He asked me how I was feeling the first day back to school after I fractured my elbow, which gave me the confidence to ask him to sign my 8th grade yearbook two months later. Honestly, that was the highlight of my year. (Don’t judge, junior high was what I consider my “awkward years.”) I even drew a heart around it. He’s married to an acquaintance now, and living in Las Vegas, and should he ever stumble upon this post would probably have a chuckle.

Cotton Balls

I just can’t touch them. I avoid them at all costs. I still get a mild panic attack every time I am going to open an Advil or Tylenol Bottle for fear there may be a cotton ball stuffed inside. I’m actually fairly certain I’m going to hyperventilate just writing about it now. I’m going to stop now. And possibly have some chocolate in order to recover.

New Kids On The Block

Oh, please. Like you weren’t.

So, what about you – any obsessions you want to own up to? Do you avoid touching cotton? Do you know all the words to “Summer Nights?” Were you secretly digging Gary Farrell too? (Uh, wait, were you really? Are you still in touch with him? Can you tell him I’m happily married with a kid on the way and I hope he/she is as cute as his little guy? Not that I occasionally look at the pictures his wife posts on facebook.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just like that episode of Friends

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and in the spirit of the holiday I have decided to list (what can I say…I love me some list-making) what I’m thankful for this year.

1. My deliciously geeky husband who will watch obscure European films with me, clean the hair out the bathroom drain WITHOUT COMPLAINING and who’ll never let me go to sleep mad.

2. My parents who plan their vacations three years in advance.

3. My brother who taught me everything I ever wanted to know about tripod fish, fossa, and vampire squid. Oh yeah, and Batman.

4. My in-laws who can play cards for hours and days on end.

5. The apple-loving baby who has been kicking up a storm the past few days

6. My super-mutt puppy who always brings you one shoe when you arrive home

7. Friends that make me laugh, even when nothing is funny.

8. The fact that Thanksgiving means I can officially start listening to Christmas music as of Friday morning.

9. My good health, the roof over my head and the fig-infused vinegar in my pantry

10. My awesome kitchen with a rock-star oven

11. Softlips Chapstick. The best chapstick to weather the Santa Ana winds.

12. That Chuck is returning to NBC in January

13. Aroma café’s chai tea latte. It’s truly the best one in Southern California (and trust me, I’ve practically made it my mission to try them all and see).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A baker’s dozen: My favorite books

We’ve been cleaning out our closets, garage and bookshelves in the Rossini household to make way for the newest family member arriving. This has led to some serious discussions on what to keep, box up or goodwill (yes, I just made Goodwill a verb), especially in the way of books. It’s no secret that J and I love books, and are running out of room for them! We need a bigger house, not because of the baby, but because of our book obsession. (And, this baby already has quite the collection of books). So, inspired by Jen Laceda’s and Erica Johansson’s “A Suitcase of my Favourite Books” I decided to make my own, this is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorites; I had to stop somewhere. As I don’t like to discriminate, this list includes all types of books. Even cookbooks.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen Every girl’s favorite, right? Especially those obsessed with Victorian England. I only allow myself to read this once a year.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys A sequel to Jane Eyre (also a classic favorite) about Rochester’s first wife Bertha Mason, the “madwoman in the attic.” I’m not sure if this is my favorite because I love it so much or because I practically memorized it when writing a paper for a conference.

Make the Most of Your Time on Earth: A Rough Guide to the World published by Rough Guides. The book has 1000 places to travel to, with unusual destinations and cliché tourist attractions with descriptions and beautiful photography to boot. I use this when planning our next adventures, or merely when I want to armchair travel.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I stayed up the entire night devouring this book, and actually cried when I finished (because it was over, and well, you just love that Francie Nolan so much at the end!)

Tulips, Chips & Mayonnaise by Dawn Cairns Chick lit at its finest. An Irish friend passed this book off to me before I left Dublin for my cliché European backpack tour. You’ll cringe and laugh at the familiar recognition of the plight of Sorrell.

A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson Another chick-lit novel, but with a Christian twist. I recently sent a copy of this to my good friend who needed a bit of cheering up. It’s fun and heartfelt with the perfect happy ending.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac My all-time favorite quote comes from this novel. I love the sense of complete and total abandon-adventures of Sal & Dean.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant The story of Dinah from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Basically, I want to attend Hogwarts. Nuff said.

The Autobiography of Henry VII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George This hefty tome may intimidate you, but it need not. The author creates a sympathetic and historically accurate picture of this much-maligned English king.

Weber’s Big Book of Grilling Besides reading, we love to grill. There is not a single loser among the 350 recipes, but my personal favorite is the pulled pork sandwiches. Yum.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day I’d rather bake bread over cookies, any day. And this book is hands-down fabulous. I am just diving into the recipes, but so far every loaf of bread has been mouth-watering.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott When I was in junior high, I read this over and over and over pretending that Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy were my sister’s too (I think I was pretty desperate for a sister, eh?)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being a tourist In your hometown


I remember one of the very first times I hung out with my friend Lara. We were freshmen in college, and she being cool enough to have a car and was gracious enough to drive me home so that I didn’t have to take the bus after track practice (well, I think it was track practice). See, we knew each other around the locker room as we both ran, and I believe we had a math class together where we discussed pies and word problems and not numbers (that was my kind of math class) But, I remember sitting in the parking lot of my apartment just talking, and talking, and talking. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember how cool this girl was.

Since then we had fake ID’s (which mine was swiped only a few short months later!), made wine (badly) in Biology class, danced all night at a club in Madrid, celebrated 21st birthdays, bachelorette parties, weddings and more. In fact, I just realized that we’ve been friends for ten years. You know those friends you had when you were single, and then they got married...and well, you know where I’m going. Luckily, her husband and J can sit and talk sports, sports, and more sports (did I mention sports?) for hours, which is perfect and gives us time to swap makeup tips, gossip and solve each other’s latest dramas. And, a few weekends ago, they decided to come down to LA for a visit, and since Mike is a cheesehead (because he’s from Wisconsin, not because he has a head of cheese) we decided to hit up the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, those Highly Touristy Tourist Activity Favored Almost Exclusively By Tourists. 

Now, for all my talk of being a native Californian and despising Los Angeles, there’s something nice, it must be said, about being a tourist in your own town – after you’ve lived somewhere for a while, you find that you’ve sort of passed the window for doing the things you never did before you lived here, and every time you think “hey perhaps we should check out Venice Beach,” you immediately follow it up with “oh, but it’ll be packed with tourists,” and some perverse sort of snobbery sets in.



Look at that fresh, clean air I breathe every day. Yum.



Well, down with the snobbery! I say, and let’s all embrace our inner fannypack-wearing, camera-wielding, guidebook-carrying day trippers, shall we? Nobody says you have to buy the commemorative mouse pad, though. I mean, that's what the real tourists are for.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I went shopping and all I got was this blog post

This weekend was taken up with quite a few baby-type errands. Well, namely one: starting a proper registry. Saturday mid-morning (after a deliciously homemade buttermilk waffle breakfast) we headed out to posh Calabasas to Babies “R” Us. Why did we trek all the way up there you ask? Well, mainly because we avoid doing any shopping in Van Nuys, trust me on this.

Registering, registering is something else, isn’t it? We nearly had the store to ourselves (a perk of leaving overpopulated Van Nuys) and arriving before noon on a Saturday. After a brief 15 minute introduction from the store manager (where I learned that we would need three OR four fitted crib sheet, and not the ONE I had thought we only needed!) we were free to wander the store and scan things we wanted with our special laser gun. I would like to politely demand that, henceforth, all my shopping experiences are like this one, complete with the part where you don’t actually have to pay for anything at the end.

We took to the laser-scanning thing fairly well, and truth-be-told, we had practice 5 years ago when we registered for our wedding (which by the way, was much easier!). We assumed the fairly predictable roles you’d expect us to assume: J wielding the scanner gun and me seizing upon various necessary-but-not-really­-necessary baby paraphernalia. I spent far too much time agonizing over a bouncer: should we go with the Fisher-Price Rainforest or the Fisher-Price Precious Planet?

(Side note: Really I was trying to decide if I wanted my baby to be planet conscious or save-the-rainforest conscious. These are very important decisions that as parents we must make. Nearly as important as what pre-school to attend for optimal college admittance).

I also kept picking up items and going “what’s this for?” “or “does a baby really need this?” Honestly, it was like a scene right out of Nine Months (Have you ever seen that? I was just introduced to that hilarious comedy. Of course, I might be the last person to have ever not seen it, but still.)


In other news, I had my first chiropractor experience last Friday, and Internet, that is some crazy stuff. I went after several friends recommended I see on because of frequent headaches I’ve been having as a result of this pregnancy. The doctor is very new-agey and hippy and teeny-tiny small (I meant the office, not the doctor, per se).

After filling out some paperwork regarding my insurance provider and health issues they bring you back to lie on an automatic massage table. It felt like the real deal; well, except for the horrific, ear-piercing screech it belted out every 20 seconds. Hard to do some relaxing when you involuntarily tense up. After an agonizingly long five minutes, I was brought back into “the room” in which I was observing various patients filter in and out of. They all seemed to be in there for only a few mere moments, and suddenly became very wary of what I was getting myself into. And, after I was quickly positioned correctly on the table she poked and prodded and twisted and turned me - she deemed me “aligned” and told me to make an appointment the next week.

Internet, I could breathe better on my short walk to my car. In fact, I felt nearly light-headed with the amount of oxygen I was inhaling. I’m not sure if that is a normal reaction, or if I was experiencing so much trouble breathing before my adjustment. I felt looser, and lighter and exhausted. I fell asleep at 8:30pm. I guess I’m just preparing for motherhood.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A birthday post: A look at the past


So, my beloved’s birthday was this past weekend and I was going to write a sappy post about how he means to me, how much I love him, blah, and blah, blah. But, I thought my fans (yes, I do believe I have fans):

a) Already know this about me

b) Think it would be boring.

c) Would be nauseous.

And honestly, I tell J nearly every day how much I love him and how much I love being married to him, how wonderful he is because its true and my hormones are totally out of wrack these days. So, I thought a sentimental post would be overkill. In addition to it being J’s birthday, this October marks eight years dating. So, I thought I’d commemorate this year’s October festivities with a series of moderately embarrassing photographs instead, in which I reveal that not only did I need to desperately wax my eyebrows, but that J badly needs some new shirts. The above picture, taken this past weekend, is to demonstrate how much better we are at the self-portrait. And, also to mark how much we’ve changed. Note my hair is much darker, and less straight while J has much less hair on top, but more on his face…and let’s be honest, we both have much cuter glasses.  (Although, I’m not wearing any in the below pictures). 


This photo is one of the earliest I could find in our courtship without having to scan anything (because frankly, I’m being a bit lazy, and well, we didn’t take too many pictures together the first eight months or so of dating). This was taken in Chico, fall 2002; I believe we were at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. We thought we’d spend a wacky afternoon taste testing beer, initially we were going to walk the town, cruise through Bidwell Mansion and play in the park, but it P.O.U.R.E.D. the entire, we tasted beer instead, and coffee later to sober us up.


The following summer (August 2003 to be exact), we took a spontaneous road trip up to the Redwood Forest, because we thought the perfect way to spend a weekend was to drive. In fact, we left Sacramento, drove up the coast, hiked a bit through the Redwoods and on Sunday decided that instead of driving back down the 101 (been there, done that), we’d drive north to Oregon to Grant’s Pass and then down I-5. All in all, it was about a million hours of driving (to be exact), and to this day we still can’t believe we did that. Yes, you can blame us for single-handedly contributing to global warming. Also, do you see the hat? (Which is the exact same from the picture above), he used to wear that hat all the time. He was so proud of his beloved Giants. And, truth be told...the hat doesn’t fit his head anymore. It got bigger; I think it’s from his MBA.


This was taken in February 2004 (although, it certainly doesn’t look like February with my shorts and t-shirt attire). We were out for a hike in Point Reyes. I remember taking this photo, and wondering if this would be one of our last photos together as I was moving down to LA, and J had just informed me that he doesn’t “do” long-distance relationships. I remember being very sad, and stressed out on this particular day, and the hike was J’s way of making me feel better. Of course, J was still wearing that backwards Giant’s World Series baseball cap and look; he’s wearing the same shirt first in the Chico picture too! We really need to get him some new clothes (especially since he just wore that shirt again this weekend!)

03.19.04 (2)

And finally, this was the night that J had proposed, March 2004, just a few short months after that hike. You can see the ring on my finger is you look close (but luckily, you can’t see the masking tape holding it in place). Thankfully, J decided to leave the Giant’s cap at home for our fancy dinner. This is one of our only pictures from that evening (even that entire day), and I’m a bit sad because I feel that we’re both super shiny (I’m blaming the lighting!) so it’s not the best picture.

Eight years ago J sat behind me in our marketing class telling me about his upcoming trip to NYC, asking if I wanted to meet at Starbucks to “study” with him for the first exam. We’ve come an awfully long way since that awkward study date (where I was the only one to bring our class textbook and notes!). And while eight years isn’t a huge milestone and 32 isn’t a “golden” birthday, the significance of this month hasn’t escaped me. Eight years of loving someone, and seven birthday celebrations is just the beginning of our long time together. And despite the rough roads behind us, the sleepless nights ahead, the cover stealing and the WHEN YOU SET THE TABLE WE NEED PLACEMATS, NAPKINS AND SILVERWARE, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU?, this much is absolutely and unequivocally true: every single minute of it, I’ve loved him more. To steal the words from the Beach Boys, “God only knows what I’d be without you.” Happy Birthday, my love.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The horrible, no-good, very bad day

Yesterday, hump day, was sort of a bad day. Not the end-all-be-all bad day, where you get laid off or hear devastating life-changing news, but more like a series of small irritations, that, cumulatively, had me wanting to cry and yell in both the same breath and then me quickly wanting to race home, put my pajamas on and pretend the day never existed. You know the day: horrific traffic, bad hair, and high-maintenance school partners. When it got to the point when I finally realized that nothing was going right for me all day, I threw up my hands in frustration. I GET IT, UNIVERSE, TODAY SUCKS. Then, I decided to pray. Pray for peace (my peace, not world peace or anything selfless like that); pray for patience, pray for a better attitude. I dove into my Bible; I would not let the enemy beat me down. I knew that God would hear my prayer and right my day. Then he very quickly responded by:

· Dropping my lunch on the kitchen floor (when I was starving!) and shattering a dish (of course).

· Making sure I hit “discard” on a very important email rather than “send” when I was done with it.

· Spilling my vanilla decaf latte all over my skirt (which I had ironically purchased to improve said sucky day).

So, to sum it up, basically, I suffered pretty much every cliché you can think of on Hump day. In fact, I’m surprised I didn’t get a speeding ticket (Wait, traffic was so bad that I never got near the speed limit).

On the upside, however, I did pull out my fall decorations (I love this time of year...if only we had foliage instead of Santa Ana winds) while listening to some of this, this, this and this (yes, my music tastes are wide and varied) and drinking a homemade caramel apple cider. Plus, I got to see my tiny baby via an ultrasound and hear how perfect it was developing. Silver linings and all, I guess.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sourdough State: An Alaskan Cruise

So getting back to reality, the Alaskan cruise was fantastic. I settled on reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The writing was superb, the story line unique and I loved the seamless transition from past to present, but I was not expecting such a downer of a book. Horses dying, elephants getting beaten, poverty, and death all wrapped up in the post-depression circus. Perhaps not the best novel for a relaxing vacation (and who are these people that tout this a “great beach read”...last I checked a beach read is light (both literally and figuratively) and engaging...and while this novel was engaging (think: a train wreck I couldn’t pull away from) this was not a light read. Heavy stuff, man.


day2_formal dinner

I digress, the cruise was beautiful. It did confirm that I will not be taking a cruise from Los Angeles or San Francisco E.V.E.R. – I was not made to sail the Pacific Ocean. We arrived in Seattle on Saturday morning and boarded our boat, Golden Princess, effortlessly. On-time arrivals, short lines, perfectly timed taxis make traveling a dream sometimes, and sat down to have lunch. You see, we needed to be there for the first meal of the cruise – lunch, which was served starting at noon. We made it. Sat down to the buffet at 12:39. Basically, eating was our first priority on this trip. And eating we did: donuts, lobster, and salad dressings I wanted to drink were a big part of our day. And, of course, seeing all that the Last Frontier has to offer. Our stops included: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria with a scenic cruising day at Tracy Arm.

 day3_juneau_fish hatchery







Our cruise ended on Saturday, but we extended our time to include a mere 30 hours in Seattle. J had been once as a kid, and I had only run around the track at UW, so we thought we’d see what the hype was all about. We stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel – highly recommended if you’re going to Seattle by the way: awesome location, soft bed linens, and a fantastic shampoo, conditioner and soap selection. (Note: I choose my hotel by the quality of toiletry items available. No judging, everyone has their quirks!) We moseyed around the market like tourists, did the Underground Tour, went to the top of the Space Needle, stopped in an Old Navy for some $3.50 flip-flops and a tank-top (the mercury was nearly 90 degrees), watched USC barely beat Ohio St at Jillian’s (did you think that J would let us miss that game?), browsed Elliott Bay Books and sampled Seattle’s finest coffee. A good friend calls Seattle home, and she helped play tour guide and chauffeur as we requested she drive us all over the city and surrounding suburbs checking out open houses on Sunday afternoon. We returned home on Sunday night spent and exhausted, but very much in love with Seattle. What a great city, man. No wonder McDreamy lives there. And Frasier too.       


Friday, September 04, 2009

My next week…

I’m trading in a view of this:

la skyline_la times_don bartletti

for a view of this:


Well, I’m all ready for my Alaskan cruise tomorrow. By ready, of course, I mean that I’ve laid out my jeans, sweatshirts, and bought three different kinds of hard candies to help ward of nausea. I’ve also narrowed down my reading selection from five paperbacks to three. You see, I am usually the best of the best of light packers. But, I cannot skimp on books. What if I’m not digging the Water for Elephants that everyone recommends? Or perhaps, I’ll be ready to finally tackle Anna Karenina since I’ll be in Alaska. And, as Sarah Palin kindly pointed out to us last year, Alaska is just over the border to Russia. And, honestly, where better to ready this hefty Tolstoy classic?

This Alaskan cruise is a Rossini family vacay – I know, I know, I hate me too – but, I’m pretty excited about it anyways, not least because…well, I get to breathe fresh air for an entire ten days. I’m not typically a “cruiser,” but you’d have to be missing some very important part of your soul, I think, to not be excited about a all-expenses paid cruise to Alaska. Besides, I’ve flipped through the brochure earlier this week to map out the locations of all the dining rooms and restaurants on board. This way, when hunger strikes, I’m ready.

Photo Credit: LA Skyline, Los Angeles Times, Don Bartelli; Alaskan Skyline, my Dad

Friday, August 21, 2009

I was extremely lucky to have lived in the same two-story house my entire childhood. Not only was nearly my entire extended family within a ten mile radius, but I developed lifelong friendships. With back-to-school sales, and little kids with oversize backpacks clutching their parents hands everywhere I look, I have been thinking of my longest running friend. I met Kristine when I was five, which means I’ve known her for twenty-four years and counting, and she is the person I have put in charge to rescue (and burn) my hidden teenage diaries should I ever die unexpectedly. (They’re buried in a box at the very top of my closet at my parent’s house. Don’t read them. Also, love the crimped bang look. Very 80’s. Says the girl in the outrageously hideous shorts. Seriously, what was my-seven year old self thinking?)


Kristine and I met in kindergarten; well actually, our mom’s met when we were in kindergarten. They had some sort of babysitting swap for the younger siblings. Kristine’s mom made cookies for my brother to eat, and my mom taught Diane how to clean toilets properly. I guess she was teaching Diane the kind of skills every mother hopes for their three-year-old daughter. Now, Kristine and I weren’t exactly friends in kindergarten. I believe we tolerated each other. But, somewhere in the past two and a half decades we developed a deeper friendship than many can only hope for.


Our families became close friends, partly because of the friendships of our parents, partly because Kristine and I often found each other in the same circles. I have very few childhood memories that don’t include this family in some way. Brownies. Soccer. Coronado. Houseboat. Cross-County. NCL. Somewhere down the line, Kristine and I became friends, best friends even. I can’t remember the exact moment, but it happened. Somewhere between the silly stunts we pulled, the millions of games of Uno, the times we accidentally (and purposely) hurt each other’s feelings, sleepovers, long runs and double dates we became friends.


This picture was taken in August 1998, the night before I left for college in Sacramento - the two families having dinner together. (I almost didn’t post this picture because my mom and I seem to be wearing matching outfits. Again, what was my 18-year-old-self thinking?) Our dad’s asked the same question, which everyone else asked: Did we really think that we could continue our friendship through college? There was no doubt in our minds. We had a system, you see, a phone call every Sunday night. Little did we know that 10 years later, Kristine would be living 14 miles from my first college apartment, and I would be living 14 miles from her college apartment. Ironic, no? But, that’s been our relationship, long-distance at its finest. In all 13 years of primary and secondary schooling, we only had one other class together in high school. Our colleges were 500 miles apart, graduate schools across countries, study abroad programs. And yet, we have still maintained a friendship. We have our ups and downs, just like any relationship lasting as long as ours.


I had always hoped that one day we’d grow up, get married, have families and live in the city. I understand, now, this will probably never be a reality. But, no matter what happens, I know that we’ll always be friends. Now that we’re married, and life is going at a lightening-fast speed, I realize that we can’t just run out for frozen yogurt (our idea of a crazy time in high school), go cruising for boys and have sugar-fueled sleepovers. I’ve started thinking about how in six years, my baby will be as old as I was when I met my best friend. I wonder if it’ll tell Auntie Kristine about their secret first crush, or dread when Auntie makes them sugar-free chocolate chip cookies without the actual chocolate chips. I wonder if Kristine and I will stay so close, and continue our weekly (or bi-monthly, these days) chats, when we have a whole new person to look after and keep alive. scan0017

These days, when my Dad send pictures of the four of us, or when I come face-to-face with an old memory, I feel like it’s almost part of a past life. A life that once existed, but was a fleeting moment. Which is sort of true. My hope is that one day, this new little generation will have a friend like I: one it can count on in good hair days and bad, ex-boyfriend heartbreaks and wedding-day jitters, Golden Spoon frozen yogurt runs and heart-to-heart talks and understand just how lucky they are.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Remember that infamous line in Garden State when Natalie Portman’s character plays New Slang by The Shins (with enormous headphones!) for Zach Braff’s character and says, “You gotta hear this one song. It’ll change your life. I swear.” While, I firmly believe that songs can change your life, along with big (like a wedding) or small (like discovering a new store) events, books, movies or anything really, lately I’ve found I’ve found myself repeating this motto “it changed my life” around all sorts of life-changing miracles that happen to me every day courtesy of people like J.K. Rowling and Oprah. Seriously, everything seems to be changing my life at the moment, or at least my perspective. This new chapstick which I bought at Target is finally solving my cracked lips issue or my lovely new dishwasher which (gasp!) actually washing my dishes without a pre-wash (well, except for my puppy helping lick the plates clean). This rubbery cookie scooper for chocolate-chip cookies, which has changed my life. The discovery racer-back tank tops changed my life. Chocolate covered almonds, Bona hardwood floor cleaner, and my gosh, even “ouchless” cloth covered rubber hair bands changed my life.

But, instead of actually changing my life, perhaps they are only a fraction of products that I really like. So, I have decided to make an official list of all the most important discoveries I’ve made over the last few months and years, things I really feel that the Internet should know about too (Uh, we’re talking body soap and make-up here, not the meaning of life or anything). Kinda like a sort of, “here are a few of my favorite things” without Maria from The Sound of Music singing.

Aveeno Active Naturals

I have always suffered from sensitive skin. Pretty smelling body washes and lotions cause me to break out in hives or horrible rashes. So, I always struggled with finding a cleaner that cleaned and moisturized my skin without causing me to break out, but didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Then, I found Aveeno body wash. In fact, they have a whole line of products I use, my favorites are their body wash (they have a “Stress Relief” one that “calms and relaxes” but really just smells of lavender) and lotions. Now, I exclusively use Aveeno products, and honestly I couldn’t be happier with my skin. No more itchy, unsightly rashes for me.

Bath & Body Work Aromatherapy Peppermint Roll-on with Pure Peppermint Essential Oil

I suffer from lots of headaches, typically just tension headaches from a long day staring at the computer screen or from reading. A while back, right before I was to walk down the aisle as bridesmaid in a wedding, I had a horrible headache and no medication in sight. However, the mother of the bride did have Peppermint Oil that she dabbed on my wrists. The smell relaxed my senses, and relieved me of my pounding headache. Afterwards, in search of this phenomenon essential oil I discovered the Peppermint Roll-on from Bath & Body Works. This is perfect, I just roll a bit onto my temples whenever I feel a headache coming on (or lately, every night!) focus on taking a few inhales and exhales, and I immediately feel better.


I love pictures, I love being creative, but above all, I love being organized. Enter: Blurb. This company allows me to enjoy all that and more. Instead of printing out my millions of photos throughout the year, and putting them in a boring old photo album (which are harder and harder to find these days), I make a photo book through Blurb. The downloadable program is free; all you pay for is the actual book. I mainly use the books in place of albums, so for each trip or each year I’ll make a single album. The program allows me to use of their templates (of all writing, all picture or a combination of both) or I can create my own. It’s perfect. Plus, their prices are much better than printing the photos and putting them in traditional albums, and it takes up much less space. A forty-page book can hold hundreds of photos. In fact, I just made an album for a wedding shoot I recently did, and it came out lovely.

Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème

For anybody that suffers from horrific hangnails, this is the perfect product. It softens the cuticles, strengthens the nails, heals tiny cuts on your fingertips (which is the worst place for a cut!) It’s silky and creamy and lemony scented...which makes me crave lemon meringue pie, but that’s another story. When I use this wonder crème daily I notice a major difference in my hands, almost like having a daily manicure. Seriously, consider your life changed.

Tastefully Simple

I am not one for boxed products, especially ones which are ordered through a “host” (like Mary Kay make-up or Pampered Chef), but my mother-in-law gifted me with a box full of Tastefully Simple products, and I’m in love. Granted, not in love enough to buy them myself (as I find it hideously expensive)...but, definitely in love enough to ration it. My favorites are the “country blackberry preserves (which has lots of great recipes to use it with, like thumbprint cookies, but I just eat it by the spoonful) or “creamy caramel sauce” which I just eat with pretzels or another favorite is the cinnamon muffin melt mix (although, I never follow the recipe for that one either and just make regular muffins). Let me tell you, this stuff is delicious.

I am just realizing that I can go on with 8 or 9 more things I should add, but this will do for now since I’ve got a million and one other things to do. But, meanwhile, what about you? Any life-changing discoveries you want to share with me (and the world?) Any must-haves I. HAVE. TO. TRY? I am always one willing to venture out and try new things.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a photo Friday, and since we just (two weeks ago!) returned from a fabulous weekend camping in beautiful Sequoia National Park. I thought I’d post some pictures of our weekend. groupphoto

Before we get any farther, let me introduce you to the key players: this is our motley crew. An assortment of friends from various places. Now the first thing to know is that we’d never survive camping without the guy in the bright orange shirt (you can’t miss him, see him?). Why you ask? He brings the coffee.


Our Friday afternoon drive started with a stop at the top of the grapevine. A fine place to spend 45-minutes, especially in the middle of triple-digit heat between big rigs and a blazing fire.


This was the reason. A wonderful reminder to never ride an Amtrak bus. But, at least they got the luggage out. Way to go Amtrak!


Once we arrived at our lovely accommodations at the Lodgepole Campground and wrestled with putting up our monster tent in the dark. We settled in for a weekend of big trees, good friends, and breathtaking views. And let me tell you….these trees are big. Big enough to drive through!


A tree to drive through! Of course I got out to take pictures.


The General Sherman Tree, the largest living tree on earth.

We also saw bears. Apparently the ones with the giant orange tags are the ones which had an “incident.”

(Side note: I’m curious as to what constitutes an “incident”? Aren’t you? Are we talking a encounter with human food? Or a mauling? Because I’m not sure I’d put those two in the same category.)

I’m glad I knew this bit of information after I snapped a few pictures.


Also, a buck (and several deer) walked through our campsite. This is the national park (at least in California) if you want to see wildlife. Take that, Yosemite.


Instead of hiking this year, J and I opted for to do the Kings Canyon Highway, a scenic drive through Kings Canyon National Park (Sequoia’s sister park). The 31-mile rollercoaster road begins with a jaw-dropping descent into the canyon and eventually runs parallel with the gushing Kings River.


On Sunday on our way out of the park we did a bit of classic park attractions. Like climbing to the top of Moro Rock, which commands greats Sierra Views. Only, I wouldn’t recommend walking in old flip-flops.


View from the top (or nearly the top) of Moro Rock.

We returned home on Sunday night exhausted (sleeping on an air mattresses just doesn’t cut it for me!), and happy that I only go camping once a year, but very much in love with Sequoia National Park. It’s much less crowded than other National (and many State Parks). Which only adds to the appeal.

For more Photo Friday fun head to Delicious Baby

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

So I turned 29 last Tuesday, I know, I know, it’s been a while, but please forgive me as I have been celebrating! My birthday is not just one day of celebration. And, of course, I have been celebrating the birth of America too. Well, and writing a research paper, and creating a wedding album for a friend, are just among some of the activities worthy of my time these days. But, back to turning 29, doesn’t it sound like one of those fake ages no-one really is? You’re in no-man’s land, in the cusp year. Not quite in the golden 30’s, but not really relating to those in their early 20’s. It’s like being 19, or 9, or I imagine turning 39 or 49. Personally, I almost wished I’d just skip right over from 28 to 30. Because really, when it comes down to it, what’s the point of 29? It just feels like a weird limbo age, the bridge between “Wild and Crazy” to “Low-Key Dinner Parties.”

(As a side note, for those that know me in the flesh and blood know that I have never really been “Wild and Crazy” I’ve always been much more the “Low-Key Dinner Party” type of gal. Well, except maybe for the six months I spent in Ireland. I was pretty wild and crazy then, and potentially the twelve months after my 21st birthday. But, still, not too wild and crazy comparatively. But, now I don’t have to pretend to be “wild and crazy” and I can look back at those brief “wild and crazy” times with fondness and laughter as I am enjoying my “low-key dinner party.”)

All that being said; however, I was really looking forward to my birthday this year. Mostly, so that I get this almost-at-a-milestone-year on and over with and move on to the new decade. Not that my twenties weren't a ball. They truly were. They started out with a bang: living in Dublin (where incidentally my “Wild and Crazy” days began), graduated college, ran a few marathons, walked down the aisle to the Wedding March, together with the bank - bought a house, traveled to some far-flung places, adopted an adorable puppy, and (fingers-crossed) will graduate from graduate school this decade. Whew. Maybe they weren’t all that bad. And, maybe 29 will be a banner year for me. No wonder I couldn’t wait to get started.

Also, presents really help.

But here’s the thing: if you’d seen me on Tuesday morning, after my dentist appointment (yes, yes, I am one of those crazy people who actually enjoy the dentist), you would have asked yourself whether I was turning 29 or 8. I was going to Disneyland. Internet, you get in free on your birthday.

After a thrilling cleaning (no cavities, natch), coffee and bagels, J and I headed to “the happiest place on Earth” for a day of pirates, ghosts and goblins, Peter Pan, Space Mountain and carnation ice cream. It was a pleasant day, sunny, but not too hot with a nice cool breeze and lines were never that long.

Before my birthday, J had asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner, as per our custom, on Saturday night, but to be perfectly honest, I really kind of didn’t. Perhaps it was the non-stop busyness of the weeks prior, or maybe it was the economy, or the exhaustion from the big-day being surrounded with out-of-town visitors, baby showers (no, no, not my own), and Independence Day BBQs, but all I wanted to do was snuggle up on the couch with our latest Netflix and a bowl of strawberries. So, that is exactly what we did as a pre-birthday celebration. Of course, after the fabulous steak dinner with grilled veggies. (Which J cooked and cleaned up entirely on his own. Do I not have the greatest husband EVER?)

And the funny thing is - this is pretty much exactly what we did for my birthday three years ago too. So, I guess what I’m saying is that hey, I may be 29 now, homeowner and part of an old married couple, but I CAN STILL PARTY LIKE A 26-YEAR-OLD. Well, a 26-year old who likes partying with only her husband, in her living room, in pajamas pants and a tank top, with a puppy at her feet, of course. But still.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just When You Think You've Seen Everything...You Haven't
In my childhood bedroom I had two closets, yes TWO closets. Every girls dream, right? One closet was exclusively for clothes and shoes, jackets and covered shoeboxes filled with mementos. The other closet was filled entirely with books. I had deep shelves, and stacked books three or four high, neatly lined across. Favorite books were stored within easy reach, books I only re-read once or twice (yes, most books in my childhood were read multiple times) were placed on the higher-to-reach shelves. The bottom shelf of the closet didn’t go all the way to the floor; instead there was a gap - a perfect place for storing extra blankets or large boxes, except I used it as my secret reading place.
I grabbed a flashlight, usually snuck a snack up (sorry Mom, I know there was no snacking between meals!), and curled up in the dark closet reading about the latest Sweet Valley Twin adventures from Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, follow Dicey Tillerman crisscross the eastern seaboard in Homecoming, fight alongside Johnny Tremain and other Revolutionary War heroes, and sail along the Mississippi River with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. One of my favorites (located on the lower shelves) was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; I always preferred the seriousness of Huck than the childish antics of Tom.
So, imagine my pleasure when I had the opportunity to attend the Huck Finn Jubilee this past Father’s Day weekend. Yes, your weekend had a BBQ and a lie-in, and celebrated Dad’s Day, and mine consisted of 1880’s style contests, Bluegrass music, and an arm wrestling contest, and well, we celebrated my dad on Saturday night with a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner.
(Side Note: yes, you read that correct. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and cranberries because you can’t have turkey without cranberries. Who knows, we might be on to something here. A new tradition of sorts: Thanksgiving for Father’s Day! I think it has a nice ring to it, no? I know my Dad keeps telling me we should be giving thanks for him.)
But, the day was all sorts of wonderful, a bit weird, and extremely interesting. For example, did you know that the Victorville elementary school has a Bluegrass music class which practices 45-minutes daily? Or that playing Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher is a paid gig in which they travel around the country attending festivals and events? Or that an 1880’s authentic style contest included “Cow Chip Throwing.”
Internet, this is all news to me.
But, in all seriousness, J and I had a blast. I mean, how can you not have fun pretending to be on the banks of the Mississippi with Tom, Becky, Huck and Jim? We had drank fresh strawberry lemonade, listened to the best banjo players this side of the Rockies, watched a raft building contest, and watched soldiers from the Blue and Grey participate in a Civil War rifle demonstration (luckily this time they weren’t aiming at each other).
And, when I got home I cracked open my beloved copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and curled up on the couch. Some things never change.