wan-na find something?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

such a hooker

hey, you know what's fun?  random ass shenanigans!  there's been a lot of those around here.  i guess that's kind of a theme for 2020 considering how much time we've all spent at home.

like, my crocheting has continued...and turned into a favorite hobby.  i seem to find myself reaching for the crochet hooks more than the knitting needles, although i enjoy both.  i saw some fun pumpkins online one day and decided to find a pattern to make my own.  it's fall, right??

then i decided to play with colors and used a different pattern to make a bigger one.

and whaddaya know...those things multiply pretty fast.

displaying them like this reminded me of candy corn.  you either love candy corn or hate it, amirite?  there's almost no in-between here.  i'm on the side of love, but you probably already knew that.

and now i see candy corn everywhere.  not a bad thing.

the day after my birthday extravaganza, the bean and i had a little fun in that pirate boat she and the old lady had constructed for me.

and it was actually pretty comfy in there.  so much so that i ended up hanging out in it for hours.  and when i say "hours," i mean i was in that thing till it was dark outside.  heh.

i was closing up one of those pumpkins and because i'm 12, started giggling like mad because the bottom looks like a butthole.

okay okay...enough pumpkins.  one day we were surprised as we were going through the mail and opened this package that seemed super random.

the return address was unfamiliar, with only a first name.  and it was a package of teeny-tiny legos.  the old lady and i both thought of those random packages people were reporting of receiving, and so we decided to pack it back up and send it back.  but a couple of days later, one of my friends - whose name was the same as that on the package - texted to ask if we'd gotten anything in the mail.  the light bulb went on over my head immediately, and when i showed her that picture she did a virtual facepalm and lamented the lack of card or packaging.  and so once we realized it was safe, the old lady dove right in, eyed the instructions and told me she'd build it and it was a surprise.

she spent about three hours working on it before we both had to head out to run a couple of errands.  we made sure to put everything in the middle of the table because teddy is a maniac who'll reach up and grab whatever he can find and chew it up.  and somehow, that little shit still managed to wreak havoc.  i got back before she did and the first thing i saw when i walked in the door was this and a very guilty goldendoodle scampering across the room to hide under the table:

oh boy. the old lady was so aggravated when i told her that it took her a few days to go back and see if it could be salvaged.  i'd picked up as many of the pieces as i could find whether they were intact or not, and god only knows how many he actually swallowed.  but with patience i didn't realize she had, she sat down and worked on rebuilding the broken parts and finishing the rest of the set and about an hour or so later held up the super adorable finished product rather triumphantly.

did i ever tell you that we discovered a few months after putting in the pool that the guys who'd installed the glass tile all around it hadn't done it properly and black mold was growing behind it?  ughhhhh.  and it took forever to finally get them to commit to coming out to remove it and redo the tile - which, granted, was partially due to the fact that the tile supplier they used inexplicably went out of business.  and this was way before covid.  anyway, they finally came and drained the pool to start the work.  

the lone guy who came to work on it was super motivated, because he removed the old tile and put in the new tile  in just over two days.  not that we're complaining.

lastly, i got to work on some fun cookies that one of my former barre instructors requested.  her sister was getting engaged and the family was going to surprise her by being there after the proposal.  she wanted to have a little party favor for everyone, and using the photo she showed me i made these:

i got to see her posts of the weekend, and the happiness radiated from the photos.  i love being a tiny part of joyous occasions like that!

ah, love.  covid can't kill everything.  there's joy everywhere.  you just have to shut out the bad and focus on the good.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

barre none

once upon a time, there was a girl who had tried two different barre studios but didn't love either one.

(the girl is me)

and then like magic, a new studio opened up a mere ten minutes away from home.  i decided that third time had to be the charm, and happily accepted an invitation to a soft-open barre class.  they were still putting the finishing touches on the studio, and before that class started i even got to leave a little note and my autograph on the wall before the last mirror was put into place.  this was back in june 2013, and it was just the beginning of my love affair with xtend barre.

i was totally and completely addicted to those classes.  all of the instructors were awesome, each offering their own spin and difficulty level.  it wasn't long before i knew whose class i wanted to take when i wanted a challenge, or when i needed to take it easy, or if i just wanted a good old-fashioned asskicking.  like any good cheerleader would, i did everything i could to promote the studio - posting pictures on social media, writing blog posts, referring all of my friends to come and try a free class.  and you know how when you see the same people on a pretty regular basis, you eventually become friends with them?  that happened for me at xtend, with a few of the instructors and other members as well.  and i dragged the girls and even the hub to at least one class.

the studio eventually changed hands, with a former member taking over the reins.  we saw quite a few instructors come and go, but it was still my happy place because my favorite ones were still there.  the new owner was wonderful and friendly and attentive, and everyone really liked her.  not too long after she took over, she made the decision to break away from the xtend barre family and create her own studio.  she was super excited about the change, because it gave her the freedom to allow her instructors to create their own classes instead of having to follow the xtend formula.

fast-forward about three years, and because of personal circumstances the studio saw another change in ownership.  plus, even more of my favorite instructors were gone.  gah!  and once that happened, the vibe in the studio was completely different.  the new owner was rather aloof and unfriendly - or, at least, that's how she came across to me.  the first time i ever saw her, she brushed right past me without a word or any sort of acknowledgment whatsoever.  and i don't think she could pick me out of a lineup if she had to.  she brought in new instructors and some very different types of classes - which, honestly, should be a good thing.  and in all honesty, especially when it comes to something i really love, i'm not all that good with change.  but i did give the new classes and instructors a chance, i really did.  not surprisingly, i wasn't a fan of the non-barre classes.

by then, there was only one OG instructor left.  a former ballet dancer (like, a legit one!), she was also working at a local ballet studio along with teaching barre classes.  i loved her, and we became friends despite the fact that i'm probably old enough to be her mother.  heh.  through the years i saw her go through wedding planning and then her first pregnancy, and when she went out on her second maternity leave in november i was excited for her but also selfishly really bummed because i knew i'd really miss her classes.

in her absence i made it into the studio on average once a week, still trying my best to find the classes that worked best for me.  it was a lot less than i was used to, but i also had orangetheory sessions to keep me sweating.  then as we all know, in march covid hit and gyms and fitness studios (along with pretty much everything else) shut down.  luckily, zoom came to the rescue and the studio started offering virtual classes with the instructors teaching from their homes.  it wasn't the same by any means, but it was still effective and provided a good workout.  and even better, in april my other favorite instructor who'd moved up to seattle to manage an orangetheory studio started teaching virtually AND the ballerina came back from maternity leave.  i was such a happy camper.

it only lasted for a couple of months.  and then we had that brief window of time during which gyms and fitness studios were allowed to reopen -and then quickly shut down again.  in june, my seattle instructor (who'd been teaching for free because she missed us so much) quietly took herself off of the schedule once she learned that the owner was ignoring indoor mask requirements and continuing to offer in-studio classes even after the shutdown order.  members were advised to use the back entrance to the studio, parking behind the building and a drape was drawn in the front window to hide the blatant disregard for the rules set by the local public health department.   and then in july, ballerina also mysteriously disappeared from the schedule of classes - both virtual and in-studio.  i asked the owner if she was coming back on one of her instagram posts, and she responded via private message.

i found that very telling - that ballerina was also concerned and putting the safety of the members, plus that of herself and her family, ahead of her job.  in a time when the pandemic is keeping people from bringing home a paycheck, she was opting to do her part and keep everyone safe.  and so after some thought i responded with this:

seems fine and dandy, right?  and then it took a weird turn:

as i read her responses, i was struck by her brusque tone and unprofessional demeanor.  like, really - "computer didn't know u were going to suspend today"??  WTF?  the tone in her private messages was so completely opposite of the sweetness and light that she portrays in her social media posts to the public.

and then it just continued going downhill.  the comment about processing fees and the lack of proofreading for simple typos before sending a message to a client who's paying actual money was such a turnoff, and i decided immediately that i was done.

after seven years and more than 750 classes, that was it.  although it sounds a little ridiculous, i went through a bit of a mourning period after that.  i mean, like i said - i'd been so happy there for so long!  i'd been struggling with the decision to cancel for a long time but with no classes from my preferred instructor on the schedule for the foreseeable future on top of my growing dislike of the owner, it ended up being easier to do than i'd thought.  i was over giving any of my pennies to a business who not only doesn't value loyal clients but also blatantly disregards safety and public health.  screw that nonsense.  as a small boutique fitness studio in los angeles county, it isn't even supposed to be conducting classes indoors.  at best, they could offer socially distanced sessions outside, like in the back parking lot.  but no:

and a look at the app confirmed it, with separate sections to sign up for virtual classes and in-studio ones.

even to this day, it's obvious that they're continuing to flout the most basic of pandemic guidelines.  clients are still parking in the back with a nice heavy curtain blocking any view from the front window.  i happened to drive by one morning earlier this week and confirmed it.

in other news, my ballerina friend eventually found a fun outlet for her creativity, offering customized beaded bracelets using instagram as her main source of advertisement.  i placed an order as fast as i could and then posted a photo once i received it.

i thought nothing of it until this weekend, when i received another private message from barre element.

it actually took me a bit to decipher that first message, which came immediately after the notification that the studio had just clicked on the "follow" button on my profile.  and then i had to laugh because she had so completely misread my wording on the post she was talking about.  after all, the studio that i started at and met my ballerina friend was indeed gone - replaced with this new version that bore no resemblance to my former happy place.  i briefly considered explaining it so that she would understand what i'd really meant, but ultimately decided that it wasn't worth the effort.  and yes, i absolutely did block the account.  i don't need to see or hear from her ever again.

not to worry, liz with barre element in la verne, california.  i most certainly will never come back.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

a pirate's life for me

it was SUCH a wonderful birthday, i still smile when i think about it.  it didn't even matter that i didn't get to go to disneyland like i always do.  well, at least, not physically.  keep reading.

knowing that there would be lots of good stuff to eat throughout the day, i planned ahead and got up to do a workout that morning.  jillian michaels can always be counted on for a sweet asskicking.

after i'd had a chance to shower, the old lady and the bean showed up after an early morning errand that yielded this fantastic cinnamon roll for birthday breakfast.  see, i knew that workout was warranted.

and the hub brought me a birthday starbucks to wash it down.

as i enjoyed my breakfast, my watch buzzed with a text message.  i glanced down at it and was really amused to find this:

when i showed it to the old lady, she was incensed.  "WHAT!  i didn't get one of those on MY birthday!" she said.  oops.

funny thing:  my birthday always coincides with national cheeseburger day.  and so of course, we grabbed lunch from this place:

most of the day was spent just kind of hanging out and relaxing, which is always nice.  the news of the notorious RBG's passing definitely put a bit of a damper on my mood, but i tried to focus on the excitement of the surprise that the bean had been working on.  i already knew it wasn't happening till after dinner, and the suspense was killing me.  the hub had made a reservation for family dinner somewhere new, and the only hint i had was that it was in santa monica.  we left the house fairly early since traffic is always so unpredictable, and ended up arriving at meat on ocean a good 45 minutes early.

with some time to kill, we made our way towards third street promenade.  the bean spied someone having a photo shoot and struck a pose when the hub whipped out his phone.

and then of course it evolved into a photo shoot of our own.

by then it was time to head back to the restaurant to be seated. we were shown to a lovely table on the patio overlooking the ocean - which was lovely except for the giant tree that blocked our view.  oh well.  close enough.

it also happened to be the last day of dine l.a., so we were able to order from the special prix-fixe menu.  the only bummer was that our server was...less than hospitable.  still, we enjoyed our dinner and even had some to take home for lunch the next day.  and since we'd ordered from the dine l.a. menu it included our choice of dessert.  i guess maybe that's why the server totally glossed over my birthday aside from a quick greeting when she came at the beginning of the meal.  it's okay - it's not like i needed her to come sing me the birthday song anyway.

and then when we got home the kids all hopped into action while the hub drove me around for a few minutes, giving them time to get set up for the bean's special surprise.  she'd been working frantically on it for the last couple of days, and i was super excited to see what she'd cooked up.  when the hub finally got the signal via text message that they were ready, we headed back home and knocked on the front door.

and that's when the evening became truly amazing.  because she opened the door like this:

the hub disappeared at that point, which i have to admit i hardly noticed because i was on sensory overload from trying to take it all in.  the next thing i remember was hearing the music from the "pirates of the caribbean" ride at disneyland playing on the speakers throughout the house, and then the bean guided me towards my "boat."  keep in mind that most of the pictures i took are from about ten minutes later because i opted to take video from that point.  but check out my sweet ride:

there was a towel inside of it to make it more comfortable, and the boat was placed atop a blanket that the bean did her absolute best to drag me around on.  alas, despite the fact that she was used to tossing small cheerleaders in the air and catching them,  the weight of the box plus me was a little too much for her.  and so she had me exit the boat and sit on the blanket as she pulled me through the entire house, pointing everything out along the way.

here, a mermaid and a 'gator:

and then i was slid backwards as fast as she could while she shouted "HERE'S THE DROP!" and i just lost it, it was all just so awesomely funny.  and truth be told, i was half expecting someone to come and douse me with a bucket of water or pelt me with a water balloon or something because at that point, everyone had made themselves scarce.  i kept expecting one of them to pop out at me from around the corner.  then the skeletons began to appear:

and as the ride continued through the kitchen and around the island, the dogs made their appearance from the other side of the sliding door.  they were losing their minds and barking their heads off as we passed the skeleton with the "gold."


as we made our way to the hall, the special friend was stationed inside the powder room dressed in full pirate gear and engaging in a nerf gun shootout with the old lady, also geared up and standing in the open door of the office.  i tried to get pictures of them, but it was too dark.  and then to my left, carlos:

i looked up and there was the filthy pirate with the dirty foot dangling over my head.  just amazing.

and then...fire!

the girls cracked up later as they pointed out the rather...vaginal appearance of the flames.  i swear, i wouldn't have seen it if they hadn't brought it to my attention.  and of course, now that's all i can see.

the jail appeared to my left, complete with another skeleton and the dog with the key around its neck:

and the piece de resistance:  my very own captain jack sparrow at the end of the ride.

the bean was so relieved to have pulled it off, and before everyone pulled off their pirate costumes we stopped and got a couple of group photos.

so it's really dark and my cackling is in full effect through the whole thing, but here's the whole ride from my point of view.  with the entire family in on the shenanigans, this is the only video we were able to get.

lest you worry that i wasn't serenaded with the birthday song that day, worry no more.  the mysterious errand that the girls had gotten up early for that morning turned out to be a run for cupcakes from my favorite spot...dots, of course.

and they'd found a way to make it even more special than it already was - an edible birthday candle made of milk chocolate.

if you were in the l.a. area that night, you'll know what happened next.  the old lady stopped dead in her tracks, looked at all of us and said "wait.  was that an earthquake?" and as soon as the hub scoffed and smirked as he said "um...no," we felt it.  turned out to be a 4.5, centered in nearby san gabriel.  i don't think the hub was aware of it until that night, but the old lady has always had somewhat of a sixth sense when it comes to earthquakes in that she always feels them just before they happen.  and actually, she's always been a bit of a clairvoyant aside from the earthquake thing - it's hard to explain without sounding kooky.

oh!  and of course, there were presents.  i actually got to open them in the car on the way to santa monica:

there was a pair of super cute kate spade x disney earrings i'd had on my birthday list, along with a very nice collection of high end knitting accessories.  i'd discovered a danish company called muud living on instagram, and they specialize in beautifully crafted leather bags and needle and accessory cases.  i'd resisted ordering anything because the shipping from denmark was kind of outrageous, but they finally hooked up with a retailer in the U.S. about a month or so ago.  i'd not-so-jokingly thrown the link to the whole collection on my birthday wish list and hoped for the best - and they came through big time.  i'm the proud owner of a sweet project bag, a zippered needle case and a scissors case that had turned into an inside joke that probably wouldn't be funny to anyone but us.

i also received a really cute little "friends"-themed book that the girls had filled out for me, and if all that wasn't enough i opened the last wrapped box and found this:

so apple typically releases a new iPhone every other year, conveniently right around my birthday.  while that didn't happen this year, i was super duper excited that the hub had upgraded my iPhone X to the newest 11 pro max.  the camera on this thing is INSANE, and these aging eyes really appreciate the larger screen.

whew!  it was one hell of a birthday, amirite?  delicious dinner.  quality time with the ones i love the most in the whole wide world.  super awesome presents.  tons of sweet birthday online messages from friends and family.  and the most amazing, thoughtful, touching surprise from my little family that brought a piece of disneyland to me, when it's been months since our last disney fix and i've missed it so much.

at the risk of sounding cliche and basic as hell...i am one lucky, blessed girl.

uh...i'm staring 50 in the face at this point.  i guess i've lost the right to refer to myself as "girl" forever, huh?  whatever.  i don't care.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...