Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A World Away from LA

So what the heck am I doing in LA?  That was my question after driving down a dirt road in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Chugging a Coors Light to calm the nerves, I wondered what this little adventure would be like.  Sure enough, the 3 guides were pretty uh rugged hot.  And all engaged.  Shucks!   I had high hopes anyway...some other people showed up & we had a group of 10 or so... 2 pro surfer girls, a photographer, a wealthy ranch owner and his girlfriend, and 2 random guys.  So much for a laid back camping trip!  Other than that, the scenery was breathtaking...vineyards, green hills, and wildflowers.  We were one ranch over from Neverland...seriously. The cattle drive part was pretty was fun being on a horse and figuring out how to direct the cattle (including a huge white bull!). A bunch of people showed up for the branding (I guess it's a big deal when cows are stamped and castrated...ewww) and there was a bbq afterwards.  I made a connection with one of the guys who said I can come out and ride anytime.  This made my day...I'll be back up there as soon as I can get my butt out of this cubicle again.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cows and Camping

Thanks for all your comments...yes, as usual I'll continue to politely ignore her pushy tactics : ) Too bad, 'cause she now has one less client!

I'm really excited for tomorrow. It turns out that they're offering an overnight campout with the trip. I know it won't be true "roughing it" with dirt camping in the woods, but I can't wait to sleep in a tent and have the guides cook gourmet meals (I remind myself that this is still California after all!). I'll drive up tomorrow, ride all afternoon on the cattle drive, stay up late by the campfire, and do wine tasting on Saturday. The guide promised me it would be a fun group and that I'd have lots of riding time. This is the photo from the website..he he. Just what I need...get me out of LA already :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ms. Bootcamp is a sales stalker

I received a 4th email yesterday from my former trainer ("Ms. Bootcamp"), and I'd like to share it : ) Some of you guys may remember earlier postings where she was super pushy to get me signed up on a 2-3 times/wk training program. She was a good trainer, but way too aggressive and never gave me any info. so I could continue training on my own. Since then, it's been a polite battle every time I see her at the gym. I HAVE considered training again, but I'm now ruling it out because she's not being very professional. Ugh...enough pestering already! (My thoughts in bold).

Hi Laura! It good to see you at the gym working out from time to time. (from time to time???...uh, more like when I see you at the gym almost every night and politely say hello...working my ass off without your help) I hope you are doing well. I meant to get in touch with you again to see how things are going for you and to follow up on the conversation that we had earlier this week. You had asked me then and a few times before if I had some 7 and 8's open for training because you said that you wanted to get back on a training program with me. I told you yes, I do as of now. But then, you changed your answer and went back to the financial thing. (Uh, yeah because you charge a FORTUNE, you're too sales pushy, and I can do this on my own!) So let me know when you are going to start up. It end of march, and I know that you said in Feb/Jan that you wanted to start up in March. (Thanks for reminding me, but this sales pitch is getting OLD). Let's not wait any longer (-; Let's get the ball rolling! (-; It's your program, you decide how successful you want to be and I'll be your guide! (-; (That's right, I've chosen to be successful and save a few dollars in the process.) Take Care, Natalie (Please leave me alone already).

Any advice on how to respond? Or not at all?

Cattle Drive!

Lately I've been really missing horseback riding. I called my instructor, but the lessons are only in the ring...there's no potential for trail riding. I decided to wait a few days to decide if that's what I really want (lessons are a little pricey). As I was checking my facebook yesterday, I spotted an ad that said "wine tasting on horseback near Santa Barbara." Since I have a four day weekend coming up, I checked out the website and it looks amazing. It turns out that they need at least 2 people to do the wine tasting tour...darn...none of my friends can make it (most of them aren't interested in horseback riding anyway). And a gorgeous cowboy hasn't been in the picture since I left Oregon : (

Then he mentioned that I could come along for a cattle drive. Huh? They have cattle in Santa Barbara? (Well, it's actually closer to wine country). Woo hoo. Oh my gosh. Yep, that's was what I was thinking. Turns out that the guide is a former polo player and just started the business., he's very very handsome. Just when I thought it was going to be another beach weekend at home, I got restless and found this opportunity. Gotta love it...I've always said you have to make life happen : ) So this cowgirl's headed up to SB Friday morning...gettin' out of the city and back on a horse. The solo spontaneous adventures continue! Wish me luck : )

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Detox Tuesday

I’m back from a mini break…last week was all about late nights, eating crap, and drinking too much. Somehow I managed to avoid a trip to Vegas this past weekend and fit in a few lackluster workouts, but I still haven’t quite put myself back together. Laundry was building, taxes looming, and I chose sleep over getting things done. I’m finally starting to have more energy today, so I need to start pushing my limits again. Volleyball starts in 3 weeks, so it’s a great motivator. And it’s supposed to be 77 degrees this week!!! I have 4 days off, so the timing is perfect for working out and relaxing. I might check out a few local spots like the Getty Villa.

I went to see Duplicity with friends last night…good but not great. I’m not a huge Clive Owen fan, but I’m a sucker for these type of flicks. Yes, my movie dry spell seems to be ending.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Feel Good Wednesday

Some things I’m loving this week:

Peanut butter pancakes

Vintage black and white heels

My co-workers (I finally found a few that I can relate to…government is a strange, strange world!)

Orange tic tacs

Pillows…threw a few extra fluffy ones on my bed and have slept better all week

Lack of a hangover….what?! All that green beer & staying out late didn’t wreck my Wednesday like I thought it would…weird.

Biological clock – I held my co-worker's newborn thinking “I want one of these little guys.” Sigh.

Going to work every day - grateful for employment

My complete lack of focus on diet/exercise. I need a short break : )

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My weekend - stellar & melodic with lots of surprises

I have to write this post late tonight so I remember what a stellar weekend it was. I just came back from one of my favorite local spots for live music. I saw Joe Purdy (one of my all time favorites) there a while back and fell in love with the place. Tonight Emily Wells and Meico were playing, and I was blown away by Wells. The violin/bass combo was fantastic...I could listen to the violin forever.
Earlier today we tried out sand dune park...such a great workout! I had already done 3 climbs by the time Stefanie got there, and I ended up doing 6 The hill was really challenging...much steeper than I expected. I'll be doing this more often for sure.
On Friday I put on my boots and headed to my favorite country bar with Trisha. Everything about this bar reminds me of home. We got there too late for our line dancing lesson, but had fun watching all of the honky tonkers 2-step and slide. I'm hoping to go there more regularly to get the hang of line dancing again. Next stop on Friday night - Viper Room. Yep, LA is one crazy place...from cowboy bars to the "IT" spots in Hollywood. We met up with our friends to see their band play, but it was definitely an off night. So I spotted a cute guy, chatted it up, and gave him my number just for the heck of it. I was a little surprised when we set up an actual date for Saturday night - wow, am I actually going out with a wannabe actor who I met at a Hollywood club? Hey, it's all about spontaneous experiences, right? : ) Of course I had a backup plan just in case...

I couldn't believe it when he rolled up on Main Street in Santa Monica on a motorcycle! (Grin, grin). Now this way a great way to start the night off. Let's face it...most girls have wanted the James Dean type at one time or another, and I got mine on Saturday night. Not only was he in a leather jacket and helmet, but he was genuine, smart, and a gentleman. Turns out he's a "newbie"...just arrived from Tennessee. We had a blast. The leprechauns in town had already started celebrating St. Patricks Day at the irish pub we were at...hilarious. Good conversation, great guy, and a really fun time. The night turned out to be a short lived rainbow...unfortunately there was no pot of gold in the end for this leprechaun.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blinded by Grumpiness

Geez, I have been so grumpy this week. I must be having Cabo withdrawals! A workout or two will usually lift my spirits, but the gym hasn’t helped much. Thankfully I have tomorrow off, so I’ve decided to leave this annoyed attitude at work today when I head out the door. The sand dune is definitely on my list for the weekend, along with Strand walks, gym time, happy hour tonight, and Saturday night out with friends.
In other news, I’ve decided to get lasik in April. I have terrible vision, and I’ve been wanting the surgery for a long time. When I was diagnosed with Lupus, I was advised not to get lasik. I was really bummed because I literally can’t see a thing without glasses or contacts…I am completely dependent on them. But then I discovered that my specialist may be biased because her husband had an unfavorable outcome with his surgery. Hmmm… I’ve always been one of those people that takes the plunge before I worry myself with everything that could go wrong. So tomorrow I’m going to schedule the surgery, sign all the paperwork, and know that I will have amazing vision after April 10th! So this means that I’ll need to get plenty of sleep every night (8 hour rule), use the eye drops, and not wear contacts for 2 weeks prior (including gym time..aagh). Any lasik patients with advice?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eat Fresh

Thomas inspired me with his funny grocery store post, so I thought I’d share my Subway adventure. I’ve been bringing my own lunch for a while now, and today I just couldn’t take it anymore. I hit the joint across the street for a roasted chicken with spinach on wheat. Usually it’s packed and the SSMs (sloppy sandwich makers) are trying to take my order when I’m still 5 deep in line. That’s the only chance I get to shout at them. But today it was empty and I leisurely strolled up to place my order. Here’s the deal – I live for a good sub (usually the smoked turkey ones I make at home). I also LOVE the deli guys at Vons who take sandwich making very seriously. Every last veggie is strategically placed for a good bite. Nothing should ever fall out of the sandwich – it’s an art form really : ) The SSM was clearly not aware of the sandwich balancing act. Veggies were being dumped anywhere but on my sandwich…I knew it was hopeless. Even more hopeless was my conversation with the random guy lingering near the pop fountain, the home of my favorite sugar free lemonade.
Stranger: Wow, I’m stuck to the floor (looking down at the floor in all seriousness)
Me: (Annoyed). Yeah, this place is really clean.
Stranger: Not really. (thinks for a long second and blocks my way to the lemonade). Oh yeah, you were being sarcastic.
Me: (fake laugh). Looks like we’re stuck in Subway. They should give us free sandwiches.
Stranger: (still doesn’t get it.)
Me: (thinking he must be a fellow government employee).

So now I’m back at my desk with the Subway stench (have you noticed how it lingers?) But it sure beats another uber healthy salad…the lemonade that is. Sandwich sucked.

Workout last night was standard…1 hr training, 10 minute bike intervals (always a killer), and 20 minute elliptical. Hoping to have more positive energy tonight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eat This, Not That

I hit a lull at work today, so I started researching food facts. I knew about the "Eat This, Not That" trend, but I've never picked up any of the books. Men's Fitness has posted somewhat of a Top 10 site that gives the Eat This, Not That low down. Check it out - I wasn't too surprised with these nutrition facts...the best part is the healthy substitute recommendations. I'm a little bummed that my Panera pumpkin muffin is in the Not That category...go figure :)

Last night I caught up on cleaning, food prep, and SLEEP! Everyone's sick around me, and I usually get that cold stuff really easily. So I persuaded myself to take a night off from the gym and recharge. I'm feeling much better today and can't wait for a super long workout.

Photolicious Blizzard

Cavy tagged me the other day to post a Photolicious photo. Perfect timing ‘cause I can’t think of anything to ramble about today. Her blog is hilarious - check it out! The tag is to pull a photo from the 6th folder of your library and the 6th photo. Here’s what turned up.

It’s a photo that I took from the chairlift on Mt. Hood 2 seasons ago. I grew up snowboarding on this mountain, and it’s notorious for blizzardy conditions. That’s what I love about it…it makes you feel like you’re really braving the elements. This trip was a really fun one because my brother, best friend, my two cousins and I all went up together for night skiing. The visibility and wind were pretty bad, so my best friend and I eventually separated from the group and took shelter in a tiny hut/pub mid way up the mountain. Two of my straps broke, so it was really tricky getting down at the end of the night. Now that I’ve gone to other places like Tahoe with better conditions, it’s crazy to think about all of those blizzard-like days and nights on Mt. Hood. But it’s still my snowboarding home : )
I know you guys can top this one...I tag Anais and La Di Dah.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend was hit and miss…started with hits and ended with a miss. Friday night I had a great workout and met up with Trisha and two of her guy friends afterwards for a drink. An amaaaazing cover band was playing and we rocked out to U2 and Pearl Jam. Unfortunately I had more than 3 beers and crashed all day Saturday. On Sunday I wanted to try out the sand dune but it was a little cold out (my lame excuse). Instead I hit the gym for a marathon workout…1.5 hours strength training, 25 min treadmill workout, 50 floors on the stairclimber, and 20 min elliptical. I needed to get all the partying out of my system : )

Before I go on with my weekend, I should confess that I rarely watch movies. There…I said it. The thought of being cramped in a theater for 2 hours usually isn’t my top choice on a Friday or Saturday night. And right now I’m getting endless Blockbuster messages reminding me that I haven’t returned an old Audrey Tatou French flick I rented 3 weeks ago. I’ve been spending a lot of time with a friend of mine who works in film, and she was probably biting her tongue when I told her the last flick I saw in the theater was Sex and the City. Here’s the deal…my friends will usually pick a movie without asking me if I’d like to see it. It’s hardly ever the movie I would have picked. Anyway, I kept an open mind last night for The Wrestler even though I could think of 10 other movies I would have seen instead. I heard it was inspiring and that the acting was impressive. 2 hours later I walked out feeling depressed and agitated. There was nothing inspiring to me about this flick…a true downer with a lot of gore in my opinion…not to mention WWF meets 80s tunes and strip clubs. The acting was great, but it was hardly something I wanted to be watching before starting up another work week. So next time I’m sticking to Sunday evenings at Coffee Bean with a good book and a latte.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Springing Forward

The dreary weather is getting to me....I had a taste of summer in Cabo and I want it to be here NOW! I can't wait for long days, volleyball til sunset, and more socializing. Until then (vball starts in April), I've decided I need to mix it up. I tried the pilates group class, and it was pretty mediocre. So I'm going to hit Sand Dune park this's basically a huge sand hill that people climb for a really good workout. And it's supposed to be TOUGH. Also, I'm thinking about signing up for an adult ballet class. My posture is terrible, and I definitely lack a sense of "grace." It's only 10 bucks per class for 9 weeks....hmmm...should I try it? Thank goodness for spring forward on Sunday!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fantastic Day and Food Finds

Yesterday was a really great day. I held a meeting for one of the projects I'm working on, and the report I drafted was well received. I was delighted to get this email at the end of the day from one of our political representatives -

Thank you for your wonderful thoughts and work on this. I am happy to have you manage this project - it's a project close to the Councilmember.

Ok, maybe ecstatic is a better word!!! I often say that my work is 80% dull and 20% stimulating. The great part is that the 20% can be so rewarding, especially in moments like this. Compliments aren't given out very often in the political environment I'm in, so I was particularly grateful.

I had lot of energy afterwards and finished off the day with a great workout last night. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror while strength training, and I was amazed at how strong I'm getting. After 4 months of super hard work, I look really toned. I keep reminding myself that every drop of sweat pays confidence, strength, and having more energy : )

New Food Finds:
  • I just tried the jackfruit-guava Vitamin Water. It's awesome! I don't know if I really believe the vitamin claims, but I did feel oddly relaxed afterwards
  • Dreyers slow churned yogurt blends in vanilla. I'm not a huge ice cream fan, but it's nonfat, fairly low calorie, and so tasty!
  • White chocolate nonfat latte. I never liked coffee until I tried this combo....more flavorful than a vanilla latte and so satisfying on a chilly day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Return from paradise

Cabo was amazing.  We were able to pack it all in…relaxing action adventure, eating, and partying : )  It was so beautiful there...I can't believe I'm now back home in the rain : (  Here’s some of the highlights:

Lobster, shrimp,
 guacamole, mangoritas and Pacificos every day!  Did I mention shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp (my favorite!!!)

Taking wave runners out into the ocean and seeing humpback whales close up for the first time.  I’ve waited my whole life for this…it was
 simply magical.

Partying at Passions with the bachelor party.  Not one single guy…what are the odds?!? UnFORGETable
 (inside joke)

Celebrating Trisha’s bday on a zip line hundreds of feet above the desert canyons.  Somehow
I kept my flip flops on : )

The Venus-Crescent Moon conjunction, as seen through the telescope at our villa.  Breathtaking!  Can't ask for a better bday present...

Relaxation in the cabana on Sunday after my friends left.  The new Chris Isaak CD was a
 perfect match for the setting.
The view from our terrace…wow.  

Alonso, our adorable concierge
 who made sure we had the best time. 

The tiny little airport that made us feel like we were a world
 away from home.