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.