Monday, April 30, 2012

Caroline & Dan's Visit!

On Thursday our friends, Caroline and Dan, from Greensboro, N.C. arrived.  They had been planning a trip out west for a while and we were so excited that they decided to spend some time with us.  It was such a treat for us to have them here.  I wish I had taken more pictures, but I'll post what I have and also use some from Google images! (Thanks Caroline for emailing more pictures to me!)

This is Walter -not getting a bath, but "helping" me clean the day they arrived.  He just climbs into the tub at random times for no particular reason.  He's such a funny dog.

I'm thankful that Caroline & Dan love dogs because Walter sure loved them.  He joined us for lunch at Gaby's, a mediterranean cafe near our beach entrance.

Thursday night we grilled out by the pool and enjoyed our time visiting.  It had been over a year since I had seen Caroline and probably 1 1/2 years since they came to see us in Florida to watch a shuttle launch. We had a lot of catching up to do!

While Steve was at work on Friday morning I showed Caroline & Dan the Venice Canals and Venice Beach.
They were struck by the beauty of one . . .

                                                                                                    . . . and the outrageousness of the other!

Friday afternoon we left to see the Dodgers play the Washington Nationals. With the help of three navigation devices, three navigators, and one driver we arrived at the Dodger Stadium with not a minute to spare.

The view as we entered the stadium


We had great seats (thanks Caroline!), beautiful weather, and saw an exciting game.

 We didn't catch any foul balls or spot any movie stars, but I'm sure there were some in the crowd.
We also didn't see any activity that supported the horror stories I'd read regarding the Dodger fans.  I think our experience created some new Dodger fans!

On Saturday morning we went to Cafe Buna, our new favorite breakfast place.  Here's a sample of their interesting menu.

After breakfast we hiked the Will Rogers Park in Santa Monica.  Some hikers coming down the mountain said that they had just seen a rattlesnake cross the path, but we didn't see it.

We drove to the Santa Monica overlook and viewed the ocean and mountains and then walked on the Santa Monica Pier.  Dan and Walter got a lot of attention on this outing - Dan because he was wearing Steve's UF hat which solicited "Go Gators" by a couple and the Gator chomp by another and Walter, well . . . just because he's a cute big dog.  One little girl had her picture taken with Walter by her father while we were on the pier!

At the Santa Monica overlook Walter met Hazel, another 8 month old labradoodle.  They were so cute together.

We had plans to drive into L.A. to see some more sights, but after another tense driving experience we opted to stay in the neighborhood.  We tried out another local restaurant, Mercedes, and enjoyed some delicious Cuban/Caribbean cuisine followed by a walk on the pier to view the sunset.  We also saw this leopard shark-about 3 1/2 feet long.

It was a great visit Caroline and Dan- hope you can come again within the next year!  We sure enjoyed having you and so did Walter!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Some of the other side of the adventure

   When I first started blogging about our move to California, I made a conscious decision not to divulge too much (or at all) about the struggles I would encounter while living here.  After all, I created the blog to share my pictures, not my feelings (otherwise, I sure wouldn't have posted the site on Facebook!).   And too, what validity would any of my complaints have?  I had been taken out of a very full and busy life and brought to a beautiful place to live with my husband and my dog.  What possible negative emotions could surface with such a gift?   Well, there's another side of this adventure that does include my emotions and believe me (or ask Steve) they have been all over the place in the past three months.

   Confirmation that I needed to include some of my emotional journey in this blog came when I received a call from a friend today.   We had not talked in quite some time and when she asked how I was doing, she seemed surprised by my answer - "much better, last week was a turning point."   I elaborated on how living here had been one of the hardest things I had ever done.  She shared how, at times, my blog stirred up envy and discontentment within her own life as she longed to have the experience of getting away from it all.  I wondered how many other readers shared my friend's honest thoughts.  I knew that I  needed to not just post pictures of what we saw, or ate, or did, but include some of my longings and emotions that have surfaced since living here.

   I've gone from saying, "I can't believe I get to do this!" to "I'm not sure I can do this!" to  "I know that God wants me here"- which is a good place to be.  My longings for community, fellowship, and serving others are all valid and I'm hopeful that the church we've been attending will enable us to experience all three.   I'll keep you posted.

  P. S.  Quite a different post from the PicMonkey post, huh?  (I hope you weren't worried about me!)


Sunday, April 22, 2012


Have you heard of PicMonkey?  I never had, but stumbled upon it when reading a blog and . . . well, I decided to have some fun with it.

Poor Walter!  I even airbrushed a tan on him in the above picture!  Pic Monkey has many features to choose from- most I didn't know how to operate.  Hope you have some fun with your own photos at 
My next post promises to be more exciting since our friends, Caroline & Dan, are arriving on Thursday from North Carolina!  (I hope they won't be camera shy after seeing these pictures!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Star spotting . . . well almost

On Saturday I went to Third Street Promenade for a little mental health therapy and it did not disappoint.  After making some returns I walked along the outdoor mall to see if any street performers were nearby.   I did a double take when I spotted a star- or should I say nearly a star!

Naia from The Voice

 Turns out that Naia is a regular street performer at Third Street Promenade- in fact that's how she was discovered and encouraged to audition for The Voice.

This little boy looked like he was about six or seven even though he looks older in the photo.  He was a really good drummer, but not so good at singing Adam Levine's popular song.  The boy's father was sitting right beside him along with the jar to collect donations.  

                                           Then there was this musician.  He was quite good.

Next to Naia's performance was this guy.  I didn't stop to watch his act or to take this picture. ( I googled street performers and there he was!)  Looks like he's a regular, too.  Maybe next time (when Steve's with me) I'll watch his performance and get back to you about what kind of act he has.

I forgot to post that when Allison, Brian, and I were waiting in line inside the Warner Brother's Studio complex to see Conan, I really think I saw David Arquette quickly come out of a building and get in a van.  Allison thought so too, so I think that makes it pretty official that I've spotted my first star.  And in my book, Naia is a real star, too.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Allison & Brian's Visit

A "friendly" game with special rules
Walter was so excited that Brian arrived!

Allison and Brian left on Easter morning.  It was hard to see them go!  We had such a great time together and got to do a lot of touristy things.  We tried to take advantage of every waking moment.  Even Brian's cold didn't slow him or us down.

Our ball-boy

On Thursday we had a nice hike in north Santa Monica before heading to Burbank to see "Conan."
Hiking in Will Roger's Park

We made it to Conan!

Thankfully, Brian's had experience with flats

We had a great time at "Conan" and decided even though it didn't have any give-aways like "The Talk", it was much more entertaining- especially the episode we saw!

Unfortunately, we had a flat tire on our way home.  (Thanks Brian for changing the tire!)  I don't know who has the worst record for mishaps with rental cars. ( They may have had more flats, but I'll never forget losing total power in the rental that I was driving down the mountain while visiting Yosemite about 5 years ago).

The flat didn't stop us from driving through Beverly Hills on our way home.

Rodeo Drive
Steve was able to join us for most of the day on Friday and we started it out with lunch at Tito's Tacos.

From there we went to the Grauman's Chinese Theater.  I had purchased movie tickets through Groupon prior to Allison & Brian's arrival.  It turned out that the movie we had to see (in order to sit in the old theater) was "Wrath of the Titans" in 3D (not exactly my first choice- nor Allison's, but it was still fun).
               Afterwards, we drove up to the Griffith Observatory to view the lights of L.A.

On Saturday, we rented bikes and saw all kinds of sights on Venice Beach.  My mother would love living here!

Allison helped many times with downloading Groupons!

This man entertained us while we ate lunch

We ended the day with a view of the sunset from the pier.  Even Walter seemed to enjoy it!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Road Trip

Since living in L.A. I signed up to receive email notifications for "deals" in the area (groupon, living social, bloomspot, daily candy, scoutmob, etc.)- anything that would help save money as Steve and I explored the area.  
Well, on Monday night I was checking my email and I saw a living social deal for a hotel in Palm Springs that just made me laugh.  I showed it to Allison and she had actually seen the exact hotel on someone's blog last month.   Can you see why we laughed?  How fun, right?

A Splash of Life in the Desert

That's what we thought, too!  After a few phone calls, our room was booked for the very next day.  

On Tuesday morning, Allison & I dropped Walter off at doggie daycare and headed to Studio City for a taping of "The Talk" which neither of us watch, but since my friend Lisa and I had attended a taping last month and received about $600 in gifts- we thought we would try again.  This time we only received shampoo, conditioner, and some other type of hair treatment.  Oh well, you can't be a big winner every time.  I had the best time watching Allison's expression and lack of enthusiasm throughout  the whole show.  Afterwards, we put the top down on our little car and took off for Palm Springs!  

The views were amazing!

We thought we had passed our hotel, but after seeing it in person we decided no one could ever pass it without noticing it.
view from our room
our bright and happy room

We sat out by the pool, had facials, and rode into town for to have dinner at a wonderful Thai restaurant.

The next morning we took the complimentary hotel bikes into town for breakfast after first having a glass of their delicious water full of fresh fruit.

We enjoyed our short stay in Palm Springs and hope to visit it again sometime.  We hated to leave, but we were excited that Allison's husband, Brian, was arriving that afternoon.  Again, we enjoyed the beautiful scenic drive back to Marina del Rey!