Monday, May 12, 2014

L.A. excursion and Mother's Day

As I mentioned, I jumped from Las Vegas over to Los Angeles after the end of my work trip last week.  I arrived in LA on Thursday evening and met up with my two college best friends, Ari & KV.  Ari moved out to LA last August and it is hard to believe it has been nearly 2 years since I saw her!  KV is in New York City so I am lucky enough to get to see her more often -- most recently on my trip in December, when I ended up coming down with strep throat, but also last summer when I joined her work team for a soccer game under the lights.

I found out last weekend that KV was going to L.A. to visit Ari from Thursday to Sunday so I did a little wiggling with my schedule and since I was going to be so close, decided to join in on the fun for a couple nights with them in Los Angeles.  As long as it had been since I'd seen Ari, it was even longer since the three of us have been together!  We always have so much fun together and as soon as we were a threesome again, the laughs started and did not stop.  There were belly laughs until we were crying from the moment we were together and we had a great couple of days.

When I first introduced KV on the blog, I mentioned that she is an incredibly talented designer and I just want to say that I am totally blown away with Ari too and her role with an incredibly well known TV show.  She is putting her talents to great use and is totally killing it in LA and I loved being able to see her in her element.  I've written a lot about my home friends, the girls I've known since I was little, and my Albany friends as well, but I don't always write about how special my college friends are.

These girls and I saw each other on a daily basis during a very critical time in our lives.  We were away from home for the first time, living on our own, trying to figure out what to do with our lives, learning who we were as people, and just trying to survive the awkward and crazy days of our college years.  It makes me so incredibly proud and happy to now see these girls at jobs that are so perfectly suited for them.  It makes those anxiety-filled years of taking classes, writing papers, and internships & job interviews all seem worthwhile.  Plus, the years after college where being unemployed was scary, some jobs were just jobs, and life seemed overwhelming... well, life may never not seem overwhelming, but you learn as you get older and things figure themselves out.  For anyone out there in college who doesn't know exactly what they will do when they graduate... have faith & patience -- and work your ass off -- and you will get there.  We all did in our own time.

So anyways, Ari had to work on Friday so KV and I explored "the Grove" and the L.A. Farmer's Market -- which originated in the 1800s -- and then took a bus tour of the city.  The farmer's market was pretty cool and was made up of all sorts of little restaurants and stands where you could buy food, including food from all over the world.  After browsing, a Brazilian shop caught my eye, and I decided to eat there.  I'm so glad I made that choice because it was delicious and totally brought me back to my trip to Rio de Janeiro with the feijoada that I ate. YUM, I love this dish (which reminds me... I still have the ingredients to make this and I should try it some time!)

The bus tour we did was called the "Legends of Hollywood" tour and left from the farmer's market, which worked out well for us.  It was KV's first time in L.A. and the bus tour seemed like a good way to get a view of the city, it was recommended, and why the heck the not?

The tour started off on a high note with us learning that our tour guide, Mick, was a Brit who moved to the U.S. 10 years ago "for love" as he described it.  He used to be a tour guide at the Tower of London and one day a young American woman was on his tour, asked to take a photo with him, and then a few weeks later mailed the photo to him.  He said it was written with a note that said, "You must have your photo taken hundreds of times but you never get to see any of those photos.  I thought you might want to see just one of the pictures." and it had an e-mail address.  They started e-mailing and later visited one another, and later got married and he moved to the U.S.!  I now know what move I am going to be pulling every time I have a cute tour guide...

Anyways, the tour was a bit cheesy and the guide didn't seem to have that much to say about many of the things we drove by.  It seemed like he was struggling for things to say and pointing out the most random attractions like homeless people and his favorite restaurants.  He did take us up Mulholland Drive to a cool lookout and place to take pictures with the iconic Hollywood sign.  Unfortunately KV and I were having a day where none of the pictures we seemed to take looked cute.

Back when we were in college, after a night out, KV and I would get together in the mornings and go through all of the pictures I had taken of the night before on my computer.  We would crop the photos down to cut out fat arms or legs or delete pictures that we didn't think were flattering.  We'd often just end up with a picture of a tiny portion of our bodies or no good pictures from the night before.  Sometimes I feel like my body image has gotten much better over the years and sometimes I feel just as critical and self conscious of myself.

One of the times that we laugh about was a night that we literally tried on EVERYTHING in our closets trying to find an outfit we thought looked good and we just couldn't.  It was tragic at the time, and laughable now.  Okay, maybe it's still somewhat tragic.  But I think we all have days like that, right?  When you just can't seem to find anything that looks right?  This one night in college will always stick out in my mind because I remember seeing the PILES of clothing as we literally went through pretty much every item in both of our closets trying to get dressed.

However, one of the things I learned from KV in those mornings of looking through photos was looking for "happiness" in pictures.  I remember her saying she loved one picture because we both just looked so happy in it.  It is now something I look for in pictures and have since found myself loving photos where I may not look particularly flattering but that you can just see the happiness flowing out of the image.

We always have fun together.  And one of the things I love about hanging out with KV is that she pays such close attention to detail which leads to some comical things I might otherwise have missed.  Such as this incredibly specific sign.  A fine of $541?  Seriously? Was $540 too little?

We drove down the Sunset Strip, stopped at Hollywood Blvd. and toured the "Walk of Fame" where you see stars names and handprints in the ground.  Did you know that after a celebrity is nominated to have a star in the Walk of Fame they then have to pay for it themselves?  $30,000!  What an honor, huh?

Friday night we ate out at an amazing Italian restaurant Ari picked out where we feasted on fresh pasta, bread, salad, cheese, wine, and just mass amounts of delicious food.  We followed it up by heading to a really cool bar that made me feel like I was in the 40s.  I forget what it was called but it had delicious drinks, a fun band, and an all around cool atmosphere.  It took a few tries, but we did end the night with at least one photo that we all approved of ourselves.  Love these girls.

So, I have to share the following picture because it is just kind of gross and weird.  Remember how I mentioned that my feet were totally destroyed by the time I left Las Vegas?  Well, the grossness continued through Los Angeles.  Take a look at how puffy and swollen my feet were at the end of our night out.  Isn't this ridiculous?  My feet are like little sausages here.

I unfortunately was not able to stay longer with my friends in LA as I had an early flight on Saturday morning to Boston.  I had to be at the Cape for work on Sunday evening and I wanted to spend Mother's Day with my family.  So I got into Boston on Saturday evening after a day of travel to have my another one of my favorite people waiting for me at the airport.  There isn't must that KO and I like more than to make a scene, so although it was just a few weeks ago I last saw her, we had a grand reunion in the airport as if we hadn't seen each other in ages.  Gotta love being goofy with your best friends :)

I gave KO a ride back to Rhode Island and then headed to my mom's where I crashed for the night and got up early with her to head to spin class and then home for a Mother's Day breakfast of Cake Batter Protein Smoothies.  Complete with sprinkles on top because I love me some sprinkles :)

It was really great to spend the day not only with my mom but with my siblings as well.  We went to my aunt & uncles where we had a cookout with my cousins and grandparents.  I hadn't seen my sister and her husband in a couple months so we had fun all catching up and enjoying the sunshine.  And celebrating my mom on her very special Mother's Day.  I wrote a longer post about this last year, but my mom seriously is amazing.  We had a lot to celebrate this Mother's Day and it was a really nice day that I am happy I was able to be there for!

Also, my Uncle Peter took that family photo for us, but not before taking a selfie first.  And because I am an amazingly nice niece, I just had to post the picture here :)  Beware if you take a photo on my camera -- I WILL blog that!!  Love you, Pete!

As with any family gathering that we have, there is always a ton of desserts.  This year my mom made some amazing cakes (thank you Pinterest!) including this Kit Kat masterpiece and an eclair cake.  Yum!

At the end of the meal we were all feeling a bit like we needed some shut eye, and a few of us actually got a couple of Zzzz's in.  Which leads me to the next family-shaming photo of this post.  Hey there Grampy! :)

So, it was a lovely and wonderful and FILLING Mother's Day that I wrapped up by heading to the Cape where I am for the next day or so for work.  I'm glad I am finally caught up with you and will try not to get behind in posting again!!

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