Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Go Lightly

Every year it's the battle of the costumes. It's fine when they are babies and toddlers but as the Challenges grow up and make their own decisions, we sometimes become embroiled in a battle. They want to use their imagination, they want to grow and test the boundaries but yet they are still Little and Big Challenges and sometimes I need to step in. Little Challenge really wanted a costume with wings as her friend was going as a bat. THE most amazing bat costume you have seen. We tried looking for a homemade elegant owl costume but they were either to cartoonish or waaaay to expensive. I then suggested going as Holly Golightly aka Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

"Huh?" she said. I tried to explain to her what the movie was (my all time favorite) as well as who the movie star was, Audrey Hepburn (my all time favorite). Still, her response was, "Huh?". So we began to Google images of what I was trying to explain to her. She finally agreed but lamented that NO ONE is gonna know what it is.

For a few weeks I looked for the components for the costume. The dress from eBay, a wedding supply company, dollar store glasses and necklace, gloves and hat also from eBay. I might have spent $20 if that.

The night of Halloween, I dropped her off at a friend's house to trick or treat. As soon as the mom opened the door, she knew exactly what Little Challenge was dressed as. I could see a smile creeping out from behind the over-sized glasses. "See," I said. ALL the moms are gonna know who you are!" I think that made her feel a little better, a little more elegant, a little more confident.

Oh, and Big Challenge decided that he would go as Nerdy Skater Dude. Yea. Don't ask me. I have no idea either.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Falling for Fall

How gorgeous are these photos? It literally made me stop and take a few shots. It almost looked like a backdrop for a photo studio. Imagine a family or couple perched out in front of the hay bales and assorted pumpkins. I had to stop and grab my iPhone to take a few shots and really savor the colors and smells of this display.

Let me let you in on a little secret....these pictures were not taken at some far off country patch hours from the house. They were actually taken at our local Trader Joe's. For real! Customers must have thought I was crazy squatting and kneeling down to get the shots. The colors were amazing and who doesn't love a pumpkin display. I had already done some decorating with some .99 store pumpkins (yea, no joke, they were .99). I thought last year was a good deal when I got them for like three bucks at Walmart. I also picked up some cheapy hay bales at Michael's to set the fall harvest tone. Today, I was getting a few TJ items that normally do not come out until the fall including their amazing pumpkin bread mix. I hadn't been in in a long time and what I was really looking for were Trader Joe's  "Joe Joe's" chocolate Halloween sandwich cookies. I could not find them which either means they sold out or didn't produce them this year.

I was also picking up a Cinnamon Broom. In the past, I have tried the cinnamon pine cones. I just put the whole bag in a glass bowl or metal container on the coffee table or mantle. They give off a very strong smell. This time, I wanted to try the broom. It's a little shaggy thing made out of who knows what and scented with cinnamon oil. However, they don't exactly go with my decor so what I do is leave it in the bag, then across the bag lengthwise and remove the plastic while keeping plastic on the bottom. This way, you won't stain any carpets or furniture. I then put it under one of our couches. The subtle scent permeates the air but you can't quite figure out where it's coming from. PLUS, it's super cheap, $3.99 to fragrance and freshen your house for fall. I think they actually call it a whisk or whatnot. It stands about 3' tall.

I'll be updating with another economical fall decorating tip soon. In the meantime, bundle up, snuggle up and cuddle up!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Target Treasures - No Digging Required

It's nice to see Target bringing in some classic designs and lines. There's was quite the hullabaloo with the Philip Lim line which I didn't find to be quite my style. Plus, at some point, don't you become just a "poser" wearing the Target version as opposed to the real thing, the real thing that even I wouldn't spend my money on. Honestly, some of the designer launches really have been less than stellar.
So while on my recent visit, I came across some real gems. I've mentioned it before so I'll mention it again. I am usually someone that buys classic pieces as opposed to more trendier options, things that will continue to be in style even years from now. I came across these three pieces that I think are just fabulous.
Image via Target
The first is a women's sequin top in black and white. First, you cannot go wrong in any season with black or white. Second, it's only $24.99 whereas you probably would expect to pay at least double at stores like Black/White Market, Talbots, Ann Taylor and more. I was pleasantly surprised by the fabric of this top and detailing, most notably this tiny gold button on the upper neckline in back. Plus, the sequins looked well sewn on and almost had an ombre or gradient look to the design. This can definitely be worn with a lovely pencil skirt, black pants or even some dark skinny jeans. It definitely can become an actively worn staple.

Image via Target
The second item is a black and white hounds-tooth ponte dress. I am generally not a big fan of ponte. Sometimes I find it almost too heavy in both weight and temperature. This dress is rather soft and smooth, and the hounds-tooth print is classic as ever. Worn either with boots or some dressy heels or maybe a jacket, you can go from day to night effortlessly. I feel hounds-tooth never really goes out of style.

Image via Target
Finally, I found this faux leather long sleeved tee which at first, I wasn't sure I could rock but after trying it and buying it, I paired it with some Old Navy skinny jeggings and booties and it looks amazing. Plus, this bangle bracelet really adds some sparkle.

What treasures have you found lately?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Forgotten Fall Drink

Sweet deliciousness in a cup
Every coffee house and commercial I know and seen is heavily touting pumpkin lattes. From Starbucks to Peet's to Coffee Bean and International Delight, everyone has something to say about Pumpkin Lattes. Don't get me wrong. Seeing a pumpkin latte arrive at Starbucks does signal the beginning of fall. There's that sweet and spicy aroma in the air, and it warms you from the inside out. It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since this drink was first introduced. But there is one drink that is quite overlooked this time of year. It's Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider!

I discovered this drink last year when I was trying to give up coffee, especially that 2pm coffee, when my co-worker decided to get a few Caramel Apple Ciders for the office. At the time, we all got tall drinks but quickly realized that tall was too small. We had to go big or go home. We tried a bigger size, the grande, and it was just right.

This little sweet fall concoction is made with fresh apple cider, cinnamon syrup, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. And apparently, this little drink is actually on the kid's menu, not the regular Starbucks menu. I have actually been to stores and have asked to have it made since sometimes I don't see it on the menu. You should definitely try this little heavenly treat. It's best served very warm but not scalding hot so if you do order it extra hot, wait until you get to your destination to indulge. For 360 calories per grande, it's quite a splurge but well worth it.

Oh, and a side note. While my delicious drink was sitting perfectly in my car, nestled in my cup holder, I had to run into a store and left it there. My two dog challenges thought it would be quite hilarious to pick the cup up and proceed to dump in on the passenger sit. We are talking 60 and 80 pound pups. You would have thought they used "thumbs" to dump the drink since the lid was still intact. The seats were so sticky they were almost unbearable to sit on. But the smell was terrific.

How are you celebrating the change and challenge of a new season?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Women Of A Certain Age...I Am Half Way There

Image via turbosquid Google Images
Whoever said life wouldn't be a challenge wasn't kidding. Today is a special day for it is my birthday. It's hard to believe that I am half way life that is, and based on the history of my relatives on how long they lived to be. Do I feel older? Better? I am actually not sure how I feel. I certainly don't feel my age or necessarily look, it but I do think I could do better. I would definitely say that I don't have the concerns or insecurities that I had about myself or my body in my 20s and 30s.

The 20s seemed to be the decade of finding yourself, putting yourself out there, figuring out who you wanted to be. After all, you probably finished college at some point and were off to get your first and probably second job. After you figured out you didn't want to be what you majored in college, you tried other things. Perhaps you created alot of relationships, perhaps you lost a few.

Your 30s were probably your decade of acquiring things. By now, you probably were making decent money, you were in steady relationships and you hopefully made a mark for yourself. You were getting the latest and greatest in gadgets, technology, clothing, real estate and more. Life is just one big registry.

Now, you are in your 40s and you're life is possibly half way over. Maybe you are in a more permanent relationship, maybe you got married and started a family or have a partner. Perhaps you have been at your job for many years and even own your home. It could be your second, third or even fourth home. Maybe what you set out isn't what you really wanted to be when you grew up, and now you are ready for a change. I have done all of this and more. But do I feel like I am where I should be?

I have the house, the car and the Challenges. I am also at a point in my life where less is more. For years now, I have no longer felt the need to acquire things. There's no need to keep buying the same things year after year whether it is clothes, decor, electronics, etc. I have tried to instill this in Little and Big Challenge that it's not important what you have but who is around you such as your family and friends. I mean, really, how many pairs of denim skinny jeans can you have or leather designer handbags. If I am gonna buy it, it's usually because I have had one similar for years. (Mr. Challenge actually is the worst offender with this as he actually has items from the 80s though he is not allowed to wear them around me!).

So, today is just unlike any other. The sun will rise and set. People will need me for a variety of reasons. I will continue to live and breathe like I usually do except knowing now, knowing that today is just a number. A number that is worth doing and living more, to get out there, to enjoy life even more now than ever, making every minute count. Your daily life doesn't have to be full of grand gestures, even the simplest of gestures are more than enough. Take the time, today, and everyday to really enjoy your life. Take a minute to look around, to breathe in, to breathe out. SO, whether today is your birthday or just another Tuesday, get out there. Seize your day. Live your moment. Take even just a minute for yourself. And hustle to get it done.

Reading this is the best gift you can give me. Pass it on. Happy birthday to me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm About To Gross You Out - Frito Pie, Yo!

I have this weird rule that I try to eat cold foods in the summer and warm/hot foods in the fall/winter. In other words, you probably won't find me eating soup in July. This is in part of the few years I spent in college in Arizona and returned decades later to AZ with my family. So, now that the weather has had significant shifts in all parts of the country, nothing says fall to me better than chili (well, actually nothing says fall like apple or pumpkin pie, fried chicken and hearty, home-cooked meals).

Recently Mr. Challenge and I caught Anthony Bourdain's new show, Parts Unknown, now on CNN. This time he is off to New Mexico. If you didn't catch it or heard about the bru-haha on the news, then here's the deal. Apparently, Mr. Bourdain upset the New Mexican's by claiming that Frito Pie was indeed a Texas thing. He had recently eaten at the Five & Dime General Store in New Mexico's historic tourist district, and criticized the recipe and ingredients. Mr. Challenge and I have actually been there several years back while crossing this great country of ours on our way back to Chicago. Anyway, he apparently insulted the recipe and the state who created it. Five and Dime shot back and the production team and Mr. Bourdain acknowledged the mistake and apologized. He also actually enjoyed this delightful delicacy.

But then, Mr. Challenge and I were obsessing (there's that word again) about Frito Pie. One time when we had lived in Chicago, there was a restaurant call Chili 5 Ways. Basically it was a chili storefront where you could walk in, pick you chili base and add a variety of topping including cheese, sour cream, corn chips, onion and elbow macaroni. No one, however, makes chili like I DO and then we add the similar toppings. Frito Pie is different. I remember it being concocted with canned chili, orange cheddar cheese, sour cream and of course, Fritos. So, we took it upon ourselves to create this regional delicacy.

I started with the classic Hormel No Beans Chili. Call me a cry baby but I do not like beans in my chili at all and personally don't make it that way either. Place a scoop of Fritos on the bottom of an over-sized soup or salad bowl. After heating chili, scoop a portion onto the Fritos. Top with a heaping handful of shredded cheddar and a scoop of sour cream. That's it. Normally this masterpiece is actually served in a bag of Fritos but for a more civilized manner, use the bowl. Something, too, that was really interesting was it was hard to find a complete set of snack sized Fritos in the grocery store. Most of the time, they came with other flavors like Doritos and Cheetos. Mr. Challenge had to venture out and get the "gas station" variety. It's larger than a snack back but smaller than a family sized bag, but it's ALOT of Fritos. And that's it. Frito Pie. Maybe try it one day. You'll thank me, yo!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Perfect Layering Layers - The Tunic Sweater

While I am trying to curb my spending, after-all, how many black tops, leggings, blouses, sweaters, tunics, etc., can one person have? While recently in Target today, I was looking for a lightweight sweater to pair with some leggings that I have also recently purchased. Seldom does it get super cold on the west coast where I have to break out turtlenecks, wool sweaters and down coats unlike the weather of the Midwest I grew up with. I was admiring Target's new fall looks and colors when I came across this tunic sweater.

Target, to me, goes through some growing spurts every now and then, bringing in boutique-style brands, biggger luxe brands like Neiman's, and hot, fresh designers like Philip Lim and Prabal Gurung. The latter I can't fit into so it's not that appealing to me. I find that Target usually hits the mark with one release of clothing each season, filled in by ridiculous pieces. For example, spring/summer will start to roll in and you will find some very cute skirts and dresses. But as the season drags on, Target seems to add some miscellaneous and downright ugly pieces. It happens at the start of every season from what I have observed. Target now is slowly releasing the fall/winter pieces. The looks are fresh as are the colors. I am surprised to see quite a few navy and maroon pieces along with hounds-tooth and graphic prints.

So while browsing, I came across this tunic sweater. I was actually looking for a grey sweater for this season to pair with some maroon and navy leggings (and also take on my trip). I found just the opposite. I found yet another black tunic sweater and a navy one, both the same style (hey remember in an earlier post about if I find something that I truly love, I actually buy more than one)? Well, I couldn't make up my mind and wanted to test drive them at home and pair them with the leggings I had in mind.

Image via

The tunics are awesome. They are lightweight which for me is great because I can't stand anything to hot and heavy. Plus, the extra bulk in a suitcase just wears me down. The tunic sweater is unique as it has a drop shoulder which gives it more of a relaxed and less structured look. It's a more finer gauge sweater perhaps similar to Nordstrom's Caslon brand and feels more expensive than its $22.99 price tag.

Image via
Image via H&M
For a 5'7" girl, it hits me just past the tush, perfect with leggings without putting all of my "goodies" out there. Plus, it kind of gives me another "uniform" for the week that's pulled together without looking like a slob. As posted in another blog entry, I will probably wear it with the Old Navy leggings and add a longer necklace or scarf. Ideally, I would pair the navy one with the darker grey leggings and this lighter grey leopard print scarf and navy flats. I'll try to piece it together and show you an actual picture of myself. The image here is pretty but it doesn't look as puffy in person. I can see putting a crisp, white collared shirt underneath with peek-a-boo cuffs or a stretch cami. Together I think this outfit would be around $35!

How would you style this?

*I do not receive compensation or items. The opinions are strictly mine.

Traveling Without Liquids or Gels

I remember shortly after 9/11 how liquids and gels were banned from carry-on luggage. Seemingly harmless Chanel lip gloss and Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer were tossed by the wayside. I was thinking of a way without having to lift a finger nor my Ziploc bag as I passed through security. I seldom ever checked luggage and didn't want to buy all new toiletries or cosmetics at a new location. So, I began researching for substitutes out there. I also wanted to keep costs down.

Images via Lush, Amazon, L'Occitane, Trish McEvoy, Desert Essence Sunscreen, Walgreen's Oil of Olay
One of my favorite products was Lush's Solid Shampoo and Conditioning bar. It was solid, it was shampoo and it was going to do the trick. Plus, it smelled delicious and had a variety of colors and formulas. Also from Lush, was their Lotion Bar. Basically you put on damp skin, towel dry and you're done!

Another fantastic product was black cake mascara, the old fashioned kind. It works rather well and there is no messy tube to pack. Of course water is readily available where you are traveling. I also used Oil of Olay Daily Facial Cleansing. These also required water and were great as you got off a flight and could quickly wash your face without any messy liquids leaking into your bag. You can also use a solid perfume like this one from L'Occitane. Better yet, you know those tester strips you get in magazines? I think I read somewhere that Tyra Banks used them when traveling and the idea sorta stuck with me. Just rip them out of your favorite fashion mags. You and your luggage will smell good.

I also used a Trish McEvoy mini make-up planner. Inside, you could pick a solid foundation cover, concealer, eye shadows, lip color and blush. It was all compact and came with tools of the trade as well. They little pieces hung in there with magnets and you can change out your colors as often as you'd like. It also keeps things very organized. Even solid foundation sticks and blush would do the trick.

Other suggestions could include Ted Gibson Hair Sheets, nail polish remover pads, sunblock stick, bug repellant sheets, Eco-Dent tooth powder in mint, Oral B Brush Ups, Colgate Wisps, and shampoo powder. Even today, I travel with most of these and do try and eliminate the liquids and gels. I love when they are reminding travelers to remove said liquids and gels, and when they get to me and I say, "I have none," they get this puzzled look on their faces.
Image via Eco Dent

Got any other suggestions? I Challenge you to try these or at least a few and see how fast you sail through security.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Obsessing About Sweater Weather and Jackets

You know they say it never rains in California obviously wasn't outside yesterday during the rare rainstorm we had. It was a welcome change from the excessively hotter days these past few weeks. The leaves are actually starting to change here a bit. I am sure they are brighter and more colorful in other parts of Cali, but here on the coast, they definitely have that bit of maroon and gold. We literally had at least a 20 degree drop within 36 hours. As we scrambled to shut every last window in our home, the chilled air began to roll in along with some fog. It was actually very cold, chilling to the bone kind of cold and damp. We still had a few summer blankets on the bed so the Challenges all "froze to death" as they say. Seldom do we really get to bust out the winter clothes and jackets. But, there's that word again, obsessing. Seems every blogger out there is using it to describe their total need to pre-occupy themselves with a single emotion or topic.

Image via Old Navy
I was obsessing because I got to use my new jacket! Almost never do I wear a jacket. Usually it's a cardigan or some hoodie-type thing so, yes, I am obsessing. I am kind of over shorts and dresses for a while. Anyway, I had bought a new jacket for our trip to China. I needed something light but that would keep us warm in the early winter weeks in Asia. This was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it was only sold online. The first size I bought was too big and exchanged it for one size down. As a bit curvy, I had to make sure I could zip it and wear a light sweater or tunic underneath. It has a removable interior liner. The hood also removes easily. The drawstring cinch waist is helpful so that you don't look like a potato sack. The coat is not frumpy but rather trendy and stylish. It only comes in black so hopefully they will offer up some other colors. Red would look amazing! Plus, I think I had some ON promo code on top of my ON bucks which brought the coat down to like $29!

How are you gearing up for the fall and winter seasons?
Rain blobs thru the sunroof

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dinner-nomics! Dinner On The Cheap

Dinner on the Cheap
I would have to say that both Little and Big Challenge think they have a certain sense of entitlement which is no fault of my own. Their expectations can run from the newest iPhone apps, skate shoes, rubber band loom bracelets and whatnot. They also expect, or should I say "like", to have a home-cooked meal. I don't blame them. We have names for certain meals I make which they request over and over; mom burgers, Pasta Stephanie, Fettuccine Al-friendo, Leftover Mayhem, and dreaded Taco Night. But tonight, tonight was going to be different. I was going to introduce them to Top Ramen. You know what I am talking about. That packaged noodle soup mix that you probably thrived off of in college (or even while you are in college now). Ramen and macaroni and cheese. No higher education would be perfect without those staples. Usually because it was so cheap and because you needed to save your "beer money" or "going out money" for, well, going out.

When I know that dinner isn't going to be well received, I usually pump them by sending them texts throughout the day reminding them of what is to come. In their minds, they think that could somehow convince me to take them out or make something else. That would be, "Um, no." Tonight it was Ramen Night. Plus, the weather was less than stellar here so a warm, comforting meal like soup would hit the spot.

Here's how I did it:
I took two packages of chicken flavored Top Ramen and boiled 4 1/3 cups of water. I like to go over a little bit on the water so it isn't too salty. After the water boils, I add the noodles, but I do not break them up. The long, stringiness should be fun and appealing to the Challenges. After about a minute in the water, I add about a half pound of thawed shrimp (21-14 from Trader Joe's) and a half of a bag of frozen Asian vegetables. Keep in mind I purchased the Ramen and frozen vegetables from the Dollar Store. So right there it was $1.37 (.19 for each Ramen package and .99 for the frozen vegetables). The shrimp I am estimating at $4.00, maybe. You could probably use chicken as well. After it all cooks for a few minutes, I served it up.

Little Challenge took to it right away. Big Challenge had to have a substitute dinner standing by but he managed to have a few tastes. He said it was good but not really a "dinner". Little Challenge said, "Mom, you need to make this more often." I explained it would be good practice for our upcoming trip to China and showed her how to eat it with a fork(to be replaced by chopsticks) and a spoon.

See, that's using your noodle!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Best Brush Ever!

Image via

I am not big fan of going to the mall or any shopping center for that matter. My dream Saturday doesn't consist of waking up early, putting on my dressy best and heading out the door to conquer the sales. I was never really a big shopper. I just end of returning most of what I bought in the first place. I have to really, really like something to buy, and I usually buy at least two of that item (different colors, of course). So, recently I remembered that I had bought a Groupon for Sephora. This was like back in mid-summer. I was trying to curb my deal buying especially on places I don't really go to in the first place. I generally don't go to Sephora. While they do have quite a few big brands, I always feel they are brand-centric and partial to pushing certain ones when you walk in.

I decided to actually head to the local mall one mid-day to use up my $10 deal. Keep in mind that it probably cost me $2.00 in gas just to get there. Always one for a good deal, I went to Sephora to see what I could buy for my upcoming trip. I really didn't need any applicators, sponges, tweezers or the like. Sephora usually has a great rounder of travel sizes of products like Smashbox, Laura Mercier, Rosebud Salve, etc. You know, right near the register. They usually are a little bigger than travel sizes but not bigger than the required TSA size. The display looked really picked over. Dirty actually. Plus, I had tried most of the products and the new ones didn't appeal to me. I ventured over to the hair brush and accessories display along the wall. This where I found the best brush ever.

I am not kidding. This brush rocks. I couldn't actually try it in the store because it came with a little packaging/case around it so I was hoping it would work. It is a travel sized brush which will be perfect in my carry-on and cross body bag once we arrive. It has a sleek, gun metal finish and handle. The boar bristles are combined with plastic ones. It fits perfectly into your hand. Little Challenge is NOT a hair brusher and I gave her this to try. She loves it. It did an excellent job of pulling the small, uneven hairs back into a pony or to just smooth out and style your hair. LOVE IT.

Listen, I can't believe it either that I just spent a whole entry on a brush. Trust me. If you need a travel brush, purse brush, gym bag brush, etc., you should get this one. Plus, the price is only $15 and with the Groupon I had, there was little out of pocket cost. (Hahaha. I kid myself. I actually purchased a few more things at Sephora including some Caudalie facial spray and a face brush). I am going to go back and get another one. You should definitely try one for yourself.

*The opinions here are represented by myself. I do not receive compensation or product for anything.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Perfect Day

The Coast is having unseasonably warm weather right now due to the Santa Ana winds. It also raises the red flag warning for wildfires which can be very scary. A few broke out due to the dryness and electrical lines but were quickly extinguished. With Mr. Challenge and Big Challenge off to Newport to see the skim board championships going on, I decided that I would treat myself to another alone day. After walking the Dog Challenges, I quickly showered, grabbed a simple dress and headed over to a local French-inspired cafe. The dog challenges were pretty worn out so I decided not to take them, and it's a crap shoot to get one of three outdoor tables; so I left them home. They were not pleased when the door closed in front of them.

 I also didn't want to arrive too early and look like the lone idiot sitting at a table so I waited until just about 9am. Yea, it's different here than most urban cities where brunch usually doesn't happen until 11 or so. I am one that isn't too hungry when I just wake up but also don't like crowds or waiting to long for a table. I was able to arrive and get the last partially shaded table outside, Parisian-style!

Now, always one for a deal, I decided to check into Yelp to see if this restaurant was offering anything with a check in. I had already used a free coffee drink so I decided to try again. Lo and behold, I was able to check in and get another coffee drink and ordered a latte. It saved me $3.50! The lattes are served in these deep bowls instead of cups or mugs. Parisian-style!

 I usually order the crab Benedict but it wasn't the special today nor did the kitchen have the ingredients to make it. I opted for the eggs Florentine, minus the tomatoes. Served with shredded hash browns, it was the perfect Sunday morning breakfast. The view was great too of towering palm trees. Instead of well dressed and well heeled Parisian women with their toys poodles, there was a steady parade of townies dressed in yoga gear and cruising their labs, bulldogs and mixed pups! I really could have stayed all day except the sun was melting the back of my neck. It's kind of stupid that I am describing another perfect day especially when you may not have even had breakfast or something prevented you from enjoying your Sunday. Lately, though, I have been trying to enjoy even the simplest moments and really appreciating Life's Challenges.

I hope you had a great weekend whether you did a whole bunch of things or just stayed in and did nothing. Even that is a perfect day!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Zip Code Envy

To say I am very lucky to live where I do is an understatement. I am unequivocally blessed to be living on the West Coast. I mean, where else can you be on the beach in the morning and ski or hike in the afternoon. The sunsets are just so incredible, and the varying geological terrain is mind-blowing. But somehow, I always find myself thinking about other places. Places to live. Maybe not forever but just a short amount of time; to experience certain cultures, peoples, traditions, urban or not so urban environments. People come here to vacation so why would I want to leave?

I have become obsessive compulsive about House Hunters International which just feeds my nomadic thoughts. I mean, in a half hour, we see a family from Chicago or Dallas uproot and start a new life in Honduras, Milan, Italy or even St. Croix. All these locales seem exotic to say the least. Yea, I am sure we don't know their entire back story. I mean, some claim they are looking for a more simpler life less burdened by rush hour, technology and dead end jobs. Others seek to rid their families of a garish materialistic life for something straight out of Robinson Crusoe.The are also ALOT of Canadians seeking a refuge from the harsh winters and look for a vacation home.

So, as the show goes, the Hunters are presented with three different types of houses within or near their budget. (You all know what I am talking about). But then here's where I get a bit compulsive. I start yelling at the TV at these poor people who undoubtedly cannot hear me. The polite yet patient real estate agent has been presented with the daunting task of checking off all the boxes on their wish list only everyone knows that is almost impossible...unless you want to go above your already said budget.

I see the wheels turning with these people and sometimes you can't help but scream. Some of the decisions are so ridiculous there's no way these people could be happy in these homes. Plus, you had a budget, why did you creep out of it. Flash forward a few months, and the couple or family is all moved in and claim their decision was the best.

It looks so easy during this half hour to just up and move clear across the globe that I ask myself, "Why can't I just do that?"

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ice Cream You Scream....

Seriously, summer is OVAH! Some parts of the country are experience unseasonably warm days, here on the coast it's pretty much business as usual. We get the occasional grey mornings that bloom into bright, sunny warm days. You can start to see leaves changing a bit. The coastal communities don't really get the vivid reds, yellow and oranges like the Midwest or East coast. It's still pretty, nonetheless. I do miss those crisp, cool, crunchy fall weekends of the childhood's past.

But today was interesting because we still actually have ice cream trucks traveling around the neighborhoods. I stumbled across this one with it's old timey white exterior and colorful treat labels splattered on the side. Inside was a kid who could not have been older than 16 since I am guessing he had to drive the truck. I didn't see any other adults so I am assuming he brought the truck to the neighborhood. Now, as a kid, I remember Good Humor almond bars, fudgesicles, bomb pops, snow cones and ice cream sandwich. Nowadays, there are character sherbet creations of Spongebob, Madagascar penguins and Incredibles. They all look pretty gross to me. There are also a few ethnic brands of fruit pops, Italian ice and horchata.

Do not say gross in front of your Challenges. They get very upset and defensive that you are making fun of their ice cream. I don't even think they are convinced I had an ice cream truck when I was a kid. They think it was more like a Flintstone's truck with the feet hanging out for propulsion. I think not! What's interesting is that Big and Little Challenge think the trucks are around all year (which they are) unlike the one or two months in the summer I grew up with. They also were un-phased by the pricing. Each item was a $1.00. And being that each item was a dollar, they thought they could order as many as they would like. They were wrong. So Little Challenge chose something gross and sour (yea, I said it). Big Challenge chose the un-natural yellow Spongebob creation. Again, gross. He wondered why his teeth were black as he bit into the face and gumball. It was the quietest car ride home we have had in a while and a memory we will share for years to come.