Touring With Tequila

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I’m not a big celebrator of Cinco De Mayo. I also don’t celebrate St. Patrick‘s Day. Well, generally I don’t. The “drinking holidays” are typically not my thing but something funny happened this year.

Funny ha ha? Oh no no. Funny ironic. Yes, I say ironic because that something was called Mom and Dad. Oh the irony.

It all started with the holiday of green. I hadn’t planned on going out. I was still in my pajamas relaxing when my father asked if I wanted to head out with him and my crew.

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Cuban Mom meets Cuban singer

I was taken aback. I didn’t really want to go out but dad looked so….mischievous. That was all I needed. I’m all for a good night of mischief. I was in. I called the girls and we were set. Until dad bailed on me.

Yes, you read correctly. He bailed. Got me ready for the night and then he bailed on me. I was stuck. Plans were made. We proceeded – without dad. Beware when making plans with dad.

The months rolled along and May was here. This time it was mom’s turn. She approached with her Cinco De Mayo plans. Tequila tasting, music, a new restaurant.

I was intrigued. I’m not big on Tequila but I’m always up for a new adventure. I was in. Mojave here we come. No, not the desert, the restaurant in Astoria, Queens.

We walked through the doors and the adventure began. The band was already playing as we arrived so we took our seats, sat back and grabbed the menu. First order of business…..Tequila. After all, this was Cinco De Mayo. We were here to celebrate!

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It was a latin evening and spicy was the tone of the night. Attitude and drink. My eye immediately flew to “jalapeno” and I was set.

Jalapeno infused tequila with a splash of lime was my drink of choice. Keep in mind I’ve stated that I’m not big on tequila. This drink was so good that I wanted more. I now know why Patti Stanger of the Millionaire Matchmaker fame has instated the two-drink maximum.

The night was great. Guacamole, quesadillas, chocolate fondue and of course those drinks that were dangerously good. There was nothing to complain about at Mojave. I was starting to think this celebrating mini holiday thing was a great idea after all.

We even had an added bonus to our evening – a dose of free. T-shirts, bottle openers, key chains and the most important of all….tasters of tequila. After all, a night celebrating the remembrance of the 1862 Battle of  Puebla would not be complete without some tasters of tequila.

Everyone was getting in on the celebratory mood. Fun was in the air. The margarita-in-a-beer concoctions were so delicious even sock puppet monkey wanted a taste.

After spending a good portion of the evening at Mojave it was time to hit the town. I am not familiar with Astoria. This is where my dad grew up. He had plans. When he doesn’t bail, he’s up for a little adventure. I can appreciate that.

We were back in his hood. He wanted to show us around his old stomping grounds. We’re always up for adventure. And if we see some interesting finds along the way that’s an added bonus. As long as the driver is always willing to stop the car, we’re good to go.

First stop – the old apartment. We were like stealth bombers on a mission. Dad drove the car up the street and parked. We all ran up for our first picture. And then the door creaked open. Hhmmm.

We didn’t see a no trespassing sign. It must have meant we were welcome. After all, dad used to live here. It’s almost like he’s a resident. No harm in a photo. We walked in.
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Ah, the old apartment, straight ahead. I was tempted to knock and ask for a tour but I thought it was best to just get our “outside the apartment door” photo and call it a night.

Not quite. We weren’t finished with our tour. Back into the car and around the streets we went. And sharp right, down an alley. Mom was confused. An alley? Dad was amused. So were we.

He regaled us with childhood stories as we cruised down the alleys. Until we saw it. It was what made us stop the car. Not just a rolling stop. We needed the full stop here.  Yes, there, off to the side, was the cafe.

When you’ve had a rough day, when you need to relax from the stress of world, unwind in the privacy of your back-alley cafe. Have a glass of wine. Have a latte. Get away from it all.

I think I would have added a little palm tree. Create some green effect. A little serene privacy. Put some crawling ivy on that wall. Surrounded my cafe with nature.

Just remember, when you think you can’t escape from it all, there’s always a hidden place somewhere to lose yourself. Here it happens to be in an alley in the middle of it Astoria. This certainly was a Cinco De Mayo to remember.

Now what’s next….Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, Bastille Day. Summer sure is looking good.

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Please visit my other websites at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

http://thedeadmanpose.tumblr.com/

I’m Vegan? I Mean, I’m Vegan*

I love a good cake. It’s all about the desserts for me. I’m not ashamed to admit it. People talk about going lo-cal, watching the fat, watching the calories.

Sure, whatever. You do that. I’ll take the cake. I’m not talking about eating the whole thing here. I can have a few bites and be good. Which is why I’m even a bigger fan of the cake of cup. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

My version - Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ffrosting

Cupcakes. I’m obsessed. Give me a mini little cake and I’m a goner every time. If I walk down the street and see a shop with those tiny little bites of heaven gracing the store window I have to stop. I need to stop.

Which is why when I heard about a new show on the Food Network called “Cupcake Wars” I was all in. Yeah, I said it. All In.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was hooked. I couldn’t miss an episode. Some people have mocked it. They feel it’s a waste of an hour. They  don’t understand the beauty of the cupcake.

Each Sunday I found myself waiting to see which city the next batch of bakers (haha, see what I just did there?) would be from.

My Twist - Chocolate Cake with Almost Frosting

It was that fateful day when I saw it. The most delicious looking cupcake I had ever seen. And it was Vegan. I was intrigued. I had been on a dairy-free kick for a few weeks.

The judges couldn’t stop raving about it. The chef’s name was Chloe Coscarelli and she won the show. I was hooked. I needed to learn more.

I signed up for her newsletter and began getting her recipes. I tried out her cupcakes. They were the best I had ever eaten. I kept baking. My friends raved. They were the best they had ever eaten.

I was hooked. I tweaked the recipe and changed the frosting to make them my own. I couldn’t stop. I could get into this vegan thing. Could I just eat cupcakes forever?

Blueberry Pancakes

I knew it was time to try some food. I’m not big on the cooking but I thought I’d give it a whirl. Chef Chloe had so many delicious Internet recipes. I tried a few and loved them.

*Sigh* They weren’t enough for me to cook with everyday so I got lazy and just stuck with my dairy-free,  vegan-cupcake infused diet.

Hey, a girl’s gotta start somewhere. Might as well make sure the cupcake is first and foremost.

For the past year I had been happily creating my cupcakes. Playing with different frostings and doing my thing. My, I can-eat-whatever-I-want-as-long-as-it’s-good-for-me thing.I don’t like to follow diets.

Cinnamon-Espresso Chocolate-Chip Cookies

I don’t like to be told what or what not to eat. I like to follow my own rules. So this time when I saw that Chef Chloe was coming out with a vegan cookbook I thought it was time to give it another try. Except instead of being vegan, I was going to be vegan*.

That’s right, vegan*. Here is my disclaimer. I am a chocoholic and I love sushi. Those are two things that I don’t think I can willingly give up. Besides, chocolate and sushi are good for me. True story.

I know that there are some of you out there that have become vegans because of your love of animals. This is great. I love animals too. I adore them. But I have to admit these are not my reasons for going vegan.

I am becoming a vegan* because I love the food and love the healthier lifestyle. I can’t claim to do it because of animals.

Falafel Burger with Avocado Hummus

I’d be a hypocrite if I said that. If I ate my vegan meal and then opened my leather Louis Vuitton purse to get out my leather Coach wallet to pay for my meal. Baby steps.

So it was with extreme excitement that I received my new cookbook in the mail. It was the first time I actually read a cookbook from cover to cover.

I bookmarked all the recipes that I wanted to try immediately and the next day I went to Whole Foods and bought all the ingredients that I’d need.

Even something as simple as avocado on toast was delicious with a few simple ingredients. Olive Oil, lemon, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes. Simple and quick.  I could eat that as a snack all the time.

I didn’t recognize myself. It was an odd transformation. For the next two days I was a cooking fool. Cookies, burgers, pasta. I was unstoppable. Well, until I ran out of ingredients. Then I was put on hold for few days.

But that won’t stop me. I’m into this cooking thing now. I’m even on a Brussels Sprouts kick. Didn’t see that one. Ever. My parents were the beneficiaries of my new-found skills. My mom even asked if I would now cook for her. If a meat-lover can be won over by these delicious recipes, that is a grand testimonial.

Although this technically could be a dangerous thing. Remember, earlier when I mentioned my laziness? That trait  just doesn’t go away you know.  But if someone is counting on me for food? This is pressure.

Mac & Cheese

Many of this would not be possible without the best invention. The food processor. I never thought we’d get much use out of that when we registered for it years ago.  If I’d have seen this coming I would have gone for the 12-quart. Who would have known.

Ah, but of course there was a down side. Not for me. Not for my parents. Yes, for poor Mike. He still hasn’t joined me in NY. He’s the “cooker” in our house. For years I know he’s been waiting for the day when I would finally get excited at the thought of cooking meals.

Let’s hope the novelty doesn’t wear off by the time he makes it over here or else he’ll be dining on cupcakes. That’s not such a bad thing though. Is it?

Chocolate Cupcakes colored Blue for Autism Bake Sale

If you would like to find out more about Chef Chloe’s cookbook, please visit her website at:

http://chefchloe.com/

Please visit my other website at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

34th Street Shoe Story

I love shoes. It’s not a secret. I’m not afraid to declare my love. I’ll shout it from the rooftops.

Some people might refer to my love as an unhealthy addiction. This is just negativity.

I don’t like to use such mean terminology for such a beautiful, um, sport. Yes, that’s right, I said sport.

Sport you ask? How can a shoe collection be a sport? Well, maybe the actual collection can’t be, but the shopping part? Sport. For sure, sport.

I know. I just participated in a sporting event at DSW‘s preview opening of their Flagship store in NYC.

My shoe team consisted of me and Liz. We arrived early thinking we’d have time to eat and prepare for the race. We were wrong.

Apparently we had to line up. A line? Damn. We had some stiff competition. We were starting to get nervous.

We had to focus. Wedges and heels. That’s what we were here for. Wedges and heels. Find our size, grab the box and go.

The line began to move, they took our tickets and we were in. WE WERE IN. I was ready to hit the aisles.

We hit the escalator and as we neared the top and rounded the corner it was like the sun was shining down on us.

I started to run to the right when ooooh to my left cake pops and Perrier. Oh My God they have Cake Pops!

A distraction. They threw in a distraction. Focus. I needed to focus. I was here on a mission. I forged ahead. Wait. I stepped back.

I grabbed a pop and got back on track. I headed down the aisle and my eye settled on a shoe when there it was. The Champagne Tray.

It was like an obstacle course. Every time you tried to get to the shoe you had to overcome the rope bridge or the giant wall.

Aisle after aisle of shoe. We didn’t know where to start. And those crowds. Each time we thought we had it conquered we were told there was another floor. And there went that Champagne Tray again.

The D.J. was playing, people were laughing, we were dancing and grabbing shoes at the same time.

Yes, it is possible to dance and try on shoes at the same time. We are professionals in our sport.

Our pile was growing. We had some decisions to make. Go with the Steve Madden or go with the cork? Take the red patent leather or green peep toe?

Several times during the event we switched shoes. Each time we thought we had our final choice we’d spot a new looker from afar and sprint. We had to get our shoe before anyone else did.

At one point the crowd started to go wild. We didn’t know what was happening. Were there more shoes? More cake pops? More Champagne? (Yes, Champagne must always be capitalized. It’s an important part to any story).

Nope. None of these. It was an appearance by shoe man himself, Steve Madden. Now, I can appreciate a good shoe designer. I love the work they do. But hey, I was here to buy the shoes.

These fellow shoe athletes actually lined up, yes, lined up, to meet Steve Madden. They left their posts by the boxes. This was our opportunity. This meant more aisle time for us. The rows thinned out. We picked our newly empty location and revelled in the freedom. It was ours to enjoy. Thanks Ladies.

Then it was time to relax. The main event was over. We had completed our activity and had won. Big time. I’m talking gold medal here. We could fully enjoy the festivities. Goody bags, t-shirts, quadruple points for luxe members. We had earned our rewards.

Now let’s go find that Champagne Tray.

To find out more about the new flagship store visit:

https://www.dsw.com

Please visit my other website at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

Free to be Me

I’ve always like to do my own thing. I’m not a run-with-the-crowd type of girl. Never have been. Never will. I think that’s boring and I don’t like to be bored.

Everywhere I go I’m always on the hunt for fun. In a picture, in a pose, in a dance, in whatever I find around me – it doesn’t matter. I can find fun where ever I am.

I don’t usually give much thought to what someone is going to say about what I’m doing as long as I am not breaking any rules and not hurting anyone.

It’s not just all about me either. I want those with me to be entertained as well. I want everyone to be happy and having as much fun as I am. I know that there is a time and a place for everything but mostly, it’s all about the fun.

Which is why when I returned to San Diego recently I was feeling the pressure. That’s right, the pressure. To be funny. To entertain. To perform. I think it’s expected of me now. No, seriously.

It’s not always an easy job. It’s not everywhere that you find props to aid in the amusement. I try, but sometimes I just look like a normal, quiet girl.  A rare, normal pose.And we all know that normal is so overrated. Who wants to be normal? Bah, not me. I like to be different.

The great thing about my friends is that they love me for my differences. They embrace my “wild” side, my sense of freedom.

I’ve been told it’s my love of running anywhere and throwing down a pose regardless of where we are that makes me enviable.

I don’t want to have regrets. I love looking back at a picture and re-living the moments we had.

If I didn’t go for it then, all I would have to look back on is the question of why didn’t I do this? That’s why I go for it.

I’ve found that there will be people that won’t embrace this zeal, this exuberance, this fondness for the fun. You will encounter the naysayers and the talkers as I did. I’ve realized that they will be everywhere – maybe even in your own backyard disguised as a cousin – but you can’t let that stop you. I didn’t.

Because just when I didn’t expect to see it, more fun was right there, waiting for me. In a winery. All I had to do was glance under the table and there it was. Pet bed you ask? Well, I had to try it on for size to find out. Not a bad fit. Just a little snug…

They should make this in Me size.When I was younger I used to walk around almost as if I were in a tunnel. I know I missed out on so many things that were around me.

I never would have seen great gems like the fabulous bed that caught my eye as we left the winery. Now, I’m like a hawk.

What makes me even happier is that my friends are excited to be taking pictures too. For me. Of the classic Dead Man Pose. An homage to me. Now that’s friendship!

Even better than having fun with your friends is when you can leave your mark with them. Hopefully they won’t forget me just because I’ve jumped from San Diego to New York City.

That wouldn’t be very fun.

Friend #1Friends #3 & 4Friend #2

If you’d like to visit the winery shown, go to their website for more info:

http://montedeoro.com/

To see the shops where the mermaid sign is, visit Old Town San Diego. For more info, go to their website:

http://www.oldtownsandiego.org/

Please visit my other website at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

The City that Never Sleeps

Ah, New York. It seemed like we’d been planning this move for a long time. Probably because we had. Are we moving, are we not, should we move? We couldn’t decide.

We kept putting it off but we finally made our decision and picked a date. Late December. It sounded like a great idea. Christmas in New York. Everyone loves the holidays in the city. I know I do.

What’s not to love? The decorations, the city all aglow, the shopping, Broadway, stores open late. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. Until I remembered one little thing. The cold. Damn it. THE COLD. I had forgotten about that part. We’d just finished packing. Was is too late to turn back now? Just a joke. No really, I’m joking.

We arrived in NY and to our surprise it was warm. A reprieve. Temporary, yes but it didn’t matter. Anything to help us adjust would work. We knew what was coming. January. AND February. I might not make it after all.

Christmas was only a few days away. We had to unpack and put our things in place. Not an easy task when you have another house full of furniture to deal with.

We had an easy solution. Set up outside. Nothing says welcome home like a couch in the driveway. My mom was amused. Dad, well, not so much.

Work was almost done.  Now it was time to play. Into Manhattan we go. We were on our way to see a show. I’m all about the shows. I’ve been going to Broadway since I was 3 years old. That’s a long time. Tonight’s selection – How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

We arrived early. I know you’re not supposed to take pictures in the theatre when the show starts but we were so early I thought hey, why not? Apparently they frown upon any pictures in the theatre at all. Let me stress that. AT ALL. I guess if I were famous they’d bend those rules a little. At this point, those rules were not bent.

The play was fantastic. My parents had seen it and loved it which is why we decided to see it. I highly recommend it. Although be careful when you get wine in those plastic sippy cups. They leak. On a white sweater it’s not a good look.

Afterwards we decided to walk around. The best part about the city is that it’s open late. Yes, the whole city. Ok, maybe not the whole city but most of it. This is what I missed the most. When trying to get coffee late at night only to face a closed establishment, many a conversation has ended with, “you know, if we were in NY…”

On the plane ride over from San Diego, I had just read an article in my New York Magazine about an art installation called “Rooftops”.

I thought it was interesting. Just a bunch of rooftops placed on the ground. I was wondering if I’d be able to see it. For years I had been clipping places to see, things to do but since I was in San Diego it had never happened.

Well what to you know. Walking around the corner on the way back from our play – Rooftops! Fences prohibited us from climbing all over them but it was pretty cool to see them displayed in the middle of block. After all these years, I finally got to see something that I read about in my magazine. This move was starting to look better and better.

Oh my God. It’s the Peep Mobile! The freakin’ Peep Mobile! I was just walking down the street in excitement from my rooftop display when there it was. Just sitting in the parking lot down the street in all of its yellow glory. Who knew one even existed?

It was turning out to be a perfect night. We’d only been back in NY for a few days and it was already magical. What a night this had turned out to be and it wasn’t even over yet.

It was getting close to midnight, that’s right, midnight, and the stores were still open. Perfect. We popped into L’Occitane to get a few last minute stocking stuffers. I love that I can say this next line. Wait for it. Here it comes. Only in NY (that was just for you San Diego friends).

Hey, they brag about the warmth. I need to brag about being able to buy anything at anytime. We all have to have something.

We couldn’t go home yet. I knew I had to made one last stop. Cupcakes. Every night needs to end with a cupcake. Magnolia Bakery had my name on it.

We strolled in and picked out a few chocolate creations and then our night was complete. Wait, that time thing is too good for me not to say it again. The bakery was open until midnight.

Yes, I know there are going to be good times and some not so good times. Like that January and February cold thing I mentioned earlier. Maybe I should have held off on the move until March when spring starts rolling in. But then I wouldn’t have seen Rooftops or the Peep Mobile. Or Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed. Those aren’t things that you get to see everyday. It’s definitely my first Peep Mobile.

I know that there will be new adventures in a different city and I’m excited for the change. I hope everyone will come along for the ride.

For an alternate ending and for different pictures go to my other blog at:

A Trip to The Mountain of Magic

I am moving back to New York City. There I’ve said it. I’m still not really sure how I feel about it. I haven’t talked about it much. Partly because my California friends have banned me from speaking about it.  They know how they feel about it.

 Yes, we all know how they feel about it. So I haven’t said much other than I’m moving. I knew the date was approaching. They knew the date was approaching. We just didn’t realize it was approaching this fast. I had too many things that I still wanted to do. Still needed to do.  I wasn’t ready to go yet. I’m still not sure that I am ready to go.

People keep asking me if I’m excited. I don’t know what to tell them. I know, I know, it’s New York. I love New York. Really, I do. It’s where I’m from. It’s the city, a great city. I don’t need to be sold on that. I don’t know what’s holding me back. I realized before I started worrying about leaving I needed to focus on my final days.

It happens every time we go to an amusement park though. We live only an hour away from most parks. Two hours at the most. I have an amazing time. Dilemma you ask? No. But the thrills, joys and highs you get are fabulous. Especially when you know you live close by. That’s right, close by. I won’t live close by anymore.

But I’m still here. I will enjoy every last second. I had to get in some last important items. I knew there were some places we’d wanted to go forever. Now was the chance. We had to do it. It was time to end our year with a bang.  We had to make it the best. weekend. ever. No pressure. None at all.
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I knew we were up to the task. So we went to top. The peak. The mountain. The mountain of magic. What could be more perfect? A park filled with roller coasters. Nothing but coasters. It’s pure genius. I had only dreamed of a place like this when I was little. It’s all about the speed and drops.
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We were excited all morning. We got there for the opening of the park. Winter in the park is phenomenal. No lines. Well, almost no lines. We breezed through almost every ride. Coaster after coaster – flying, soaring, looping, dropping – my face hurt from smiling so much. I walked around like I was living the perfect life.
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We were having fun and we were carefree. Even if it was only for a day.Thoughts of moving were pushed away. Even though I knew I would be getting on a plane soon, too soon, I didn’t think about it. I’m only thinking of it now, as I write this. We walked around the park for hours. No, really. Eight plus to be exact. It just meant we could eat more. Perfect.

Unfortunately all things perfect must come to an end. We held off as long as we could but it was time to head back to reality. Besides, we were all freezing. Even in Southern California things get cold. A hot chocolate stop was next on the list.

Which brought me back to thoughts of my move. And New York City. I’m cold here, in San Diego. Granted, it’s winter and yes, it actually does get cold but I’m scared to think what lies in store for me back in the Big Apple. I don’t know how I’m going to handle it. Maybe it will be a short move after all. Just kidding?

For an alternate story and for different pictures go to my other blog at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

Here Comes The Sun?

When I received an email from JetBlue warning me that my TrueBlue points were set to expire I knew I couldn’t let that happen. I’d been saving those bad boys forever. I had to book a flight. I didn’t want to mess up. As part of our “Tour the West Coast Before We Leave” plan, we knew we had to pick a location we’d never been to. It was a toss up – Seattle, WA or Portland, OR.

It was a tough call. Rain or rain. Hhhmm. We went with rain and Seattle it was. Once we made our decision, I figured I would call a reservations agent before I booked the flight to get conformation on the dates to make sure all was right. She assured me that all was a go. Keep that in mind. I’ll get back to this later.*

We were pretty excited. In case you haven’t guessed it by now, I feel best when I’m traveling. Home is on the road. I even sleep better when I’m traveling. It’s always been like that. In a hotel, in a car – I sleep through the night when I’m not in my “normal” bed. As soon as I get back to my regular place of residence, I never have a good night’s sleep. I couldn’t wait to be in a new city.

Me & The Gang at Pike's Market

When we arrived we had everything all mapped out. We knew exactly what we wanted to do and we knew we would do it all. From the moment we arrived we were in heaven thanks to my friend Sandrine. She steered us to the Hotel Max. All we needed to see was that there was a pillow menu. Every variety you can imagine. We were sold from the moment we stepped into our room.

We only had a few days so we knew we had to be on the move. And we also had to squeeze in a mini reunion. Hellooo, Jonathon, Frances & Penny.  We met at Starbucks on 1st & Pike’s at the entrance to Pike’s Market. This is considered by many to be the first Starbucks. We didn’t see any signs that marked it as such. Interesting. I wonder why…..

We went on the prowl. We walked everywhere and really discovered most of downtown Seattle that day. It’s a very east city to learn. So much for that guidebook we picked up at Barnes & Noble.  The best part is that the bus system within a certain area is free. Yeah, you heard me right. I said free. FREE. I’ve never heard of such a thing. The train and link aren’t too bad either. An all day pass was only $5.50!

We headed back down and it was on to Pike’s Market. This city is really the easiest city to figure out and I mean that as a compliment. The streets, the train, it’s great for people that aren’t used to cities. If you are a city person, it’s a a great change of pace. Once we got to Pike’s, I could have lived there. Okay, well, maybe not really, but no, I could have.

That place is great – the flowers, the fruits and veggies, the seafood. I’ve never seen things so inexpensive and of such quality. Of course that’s probably the only place where you’ll find things so inexpensive which is why I said I could live there. We couldn’t leave without watching the fish being manhandled so we hung  around for a little bit. A little crab toss, mussel toss and fish toss and then we were good to go.

Ah yes, back to my Starbucks debate. Which one holds the claim to fame of being the first. Is it the one on 1st & Pike’s or is it the one in Pike Place Market? Apparently each one says they are but only one has the official stamp. We weren’t taking any chances. We posed by both. Hey, we’re coffee people, we needed that picture.

  Next stop on the tour was the underground. We had been hearing about this for months and we were pretty excited about it. We pulled up to the tour location, got ready for the first segment and saw the children. The ones under five. The one in particular that was screaming through our orientation.

Now people, please let me make myself clear. We pay good money to go on tours. If you can not find someone to watch your children, please, please do not take them on a tour that lasts over one hour. That will be in dark, confined spaces that echo. That require silence so a tour guide can speak. Why do people do this? Also, please silence your cell phones and do not take that call and start talking while on our tour.

But back to the underground. It really is a fascinating place. Crazy to think people actually lived down there. We only walked a small portion of the city and once we were shown what the entry points looked like, everywhere we went after that we knew how extensive they actually were.

Of course, what would a dark, musty, “basement-like” place be, without a ghost or two. Supposedly there are a few hanging around some of the areas. They must have been hiding. We saw nothing. Felt nothing.

The most surprising thing of all was when we got out of the tour and came back up. The sun was shining. And so it was time. Time for the piece de resistance. The unexpected bonus to our trip. Who knew just by flipping open the magazine in our hotel we would have discovered gold of such amazing proportions. That’s right my friends. I’m talking about…..ZomBCon 2011.

We could hardly contain our excitement. Are you kidding me? Zombies? In Seattle? What’s going on here? The article said Seattle was the zombie capital of the United States. What luck! And this weekend. We happened to be in town for the weekend of a zombie convention. Holy Sh*t. We’ve hit the motherlode.

We knew we had to get there.  We didn’t care what it took. We would rearrange our schedule to make sure it happened. We found the train, hopped on and we were on our way. Once we arrived we couldn’t contain ourselves. Literally. I tripped over a huge sign in the lobby, knocking it over and really made a grand entrance. I sure had arrived.

The cast of The Walking Dead was supposed to be they had a steep “sitting” fee. Plus, we were late comers, not advance ticket holders. My goal for the day was just to pose with a zombie. Eating me of course. There were quite a few “B” list actors there which for us zombie afficionados was pretty cool to see. Not cool enough to pay $50 to pose for a picture with though. I don’t pay to pose.  I have enough fun taking my own pictures, why would I pay someone for theirs?

http://www.hotelmaxseattle.com/

http://www.spaceneedle.com/

http://www.zombcon.com/

http://www.undergroundtour.com/

For an alternate story and for different pictures go to my other blog at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

*I want to thank customer service at JetBlue for giving me inaccurate information when they assured me that my flight dates would fall within the restrictions of my TrueBlue miles. They were incorrect and I lost all of my miles. When I called them on it they were very rude and said it was my fault for not reading my rewards membership. After explaining that I did read them but got verification from a JetBlue rep that it was acceptable to fly on those dates I was told, “too bad, it’s your fault”. Thanks again JetBlue.

I can admit it – the Canadian version is better

When we first planned our trip to Seattle, it was just that – a trip to Seattle. It’s part of our Conquer the West Coast Tour. Now that we are leaving there are so many things that we need to do. Too many things. Why didn’t we ever do any of these excursions in the eight years that we’ve lived here? No one ever does, do they? Until it’s too late. We weren’t going to let that happen this time.

We started preparing for our trip when it hit us. Vancouver. I’m not talking the one in Washington State. I’m talking the one you need a passport for. You know, the good one. No offense Washington. We got excited about our little side trip. Ah, Vancouver. We’d never been to the west coast of Canada before. East coast, sure. We were old pros. Well, at least I was, but the west? Nope. Never been. We knew we had to get there.

We were all set with our Seattle plans. There was plenty to see, plenty to do but we weren’t sure what we were going to do in Vancouver. We looked through a few books at Barnes & Noble but that only gave us a few ideas. The problem – it was going to be cold & rainy. We were limited in our choices. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I settled on the important things. I didn’t care what we did once we got there as long as we completed my missions.

Mission one: Cupcakes. I started watching a show called The Cupcake Girls a few months ago. It’s set in Vancouver. Lucky me. I needed to try these little cakes. We set our GPS on cupcake and drove. Over the border, through the rain we went. We arrived at the trademark cupcake awning and I had to contain myself. I ran out of the car when we saw the meter and realized we forgot to change our money. Oops.

Mike ran to the bank while I waited. And watched. So close and yet so far. Finally we entered and saw them. A sea of little cakes dancing in front of us. Mini cakes, little cakes and even big cakes. I didn’t know what to choose.

Of course you can’t just have one. Or two. Or three. Well, you see where I’m going with this. We packed up two for later and sat down with two for now. I went with a lemon cake with lemon frosting. Mike went with chocolate on chocolate. I consider myself a cupcake pro. I’ve eaten my fair share of cupcakes & I bake them all the time. This was the first time we found ones that we both enjoyed. The cake was moist and delicious. The frosting was so soft and fluffy.

In case anyone is wondering, I had to substitute the chair for the floor when I had my death by cupcake. Remember, itwas raining. I was feeling good. And full. Mission one accomplished. But we couldn’t stop now. There was more to do, more to see and another mission to fulfill.

Mission Two: Canadian Corn Pops. As soon as I realized that we would be going to Canada, I knew I had to have these. For anyone that loves the pops, you have to believe me when I say that these golden puffs far outshine their American counterpart. I don’t know why they are made differently but they are. They even look different.

They taste like actual corn, they are round, light in color and are tasty treats. Plus the box is in French and English which I always like better anyway. Bonus! Whatever we decided to do, I didn’t care as long as we got my pops before we left the country. I have no problem admitting it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Canadian version of pops is far superior to the American version. I’m allowed to say these things. My dad was born in Canada.

We put mission two on hold while we drove through the city and aimed for Stanley Park. On a sunny day this is probably a stunning place to walk around and picnic. Unfortunately we didn’t have that opportunity because, did I mention it was raining? It was still a beautiful place but we didn’t get to linger too long at the photo spots. Although at each spot you have to feed the meter so we weren’t staying long anyway.

When it’s raining you’re on the run in, run out plan. We got to see the whole park, stopped and got some nice souvenirs at the gift shop and even got a lovely souvenir from the park on our windshield. Thanks for the ticket Stanley Park. We’ll remember you fondly. We decided we had enough after that and headed back to the city to complete mission two.

I needed my pops. We hit up a few smaller grocery stores and nothing. I was desperate. I asked for directions to the big market. We drove through some really cool neighborhoods. We definitely needed to come back here but we couldn’t stop now. There it was – the Safeway. I know, I know, it’s a sad thing. I was excited to see a supermarket.

We ran in and made a beeline for the cereal aisle and there they were. I think I even heard some angel music in the background. My pops. Oh sweet lovin’, there were my pops. I grabbed two boxes and crap. Cereal is expensive in Canada. $5.50 a box with our club card. It was worth it. I needed these. We headed out. Mission two accomplished.

I know – right about now you’re probably thinking, cupcakes and corn pops, is that all you ate on your whole trip to Vancouver? Well, maybe if I was by myself, yes. This would have sufficed but remember I had Mike with me. I couldn’t get away with this. We stopped for sushi and not just any sushi. It was black rice sushi. Oh my God they had black rice sushi.

Needless to say, we were pretty excited. And Mike was a little hungry so it was a double excitement. In case you are wondering what black rice is, it is the most delicious kind of rice you can ever eat. Unlike its white cousin, it actually has flavor. We were all in. On all of the rolls. Mike has said it before and I think he’ll say it again – he can move to Canada. After these sushi rolls, I think it’s a done deal.



To find out more about the places we visited go to:
http://originalcupcakes.com/cupcakes.php
http://seestanleypark.com/

For an alternate ending and for different pictures go to my other blog at:

http://redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com/

Strike A Pose

I believe it all started in Manchester, England. The year was 1997.  Sarah and I had just arrived at her Uncle’s house for spring break. We were walking down the hall to our room when I spotted the bathroom. It was perfect. The layout, the lighting, the bathtub with the steps – everything just screamed “crime scene”.

Where all great ideas begin - the Loo.

 

 

An idea began to take shape. I ran to our room and threw my bags down. I couldn’t stop to unpack now. I grabbed Sarah and the camera. Dead Man Pose was born. It’s a classic. It became a favorite of ours. I was always the model of course. Sarah was the photographer. It didn’t matter where we were. I was a willing victim. My favorite was in Paris. On our hotel balcony. It’s a classic and you would see the picture here if only I could find it.

Setting up for my pose

But alas, like many things over the years Dead Man’s Pose came and went. Like an old friend that you lost touch with over the years, it was gone but most certainly not forgotten. Until a few weeks ago.  Mike and I had gone on a ghost tour in downtown San Diego. I know some of you have read about it on a previous blog. Well, at least I hope you have.
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We had come to the end of our tour when I saw it. The piece de resistance. The mother lode. The crime scene of all crime scenes. The Grand Staircase. I stopped dead in my tracks. Ha ha ha. No, wait. I’m not joking this time. I really did. My eyes were open wide. I was in awe. I couldn’t move. I caressed the newel post. You know, the thing you hold on to at the end of the stairs. The newel post. Or, the thing my mom likes to hang her purse on.

A Classic Returns!

I looked around. There were so many people on our tour. I didn’t know if I could do it. Should I throw myself down on the stairs right here? Damn. The dilemma I was facing. I moved on. We toured the room for another 10 minutes and my eyes kept returning to the stairs and lost opportunities. I thought of Sarah. I knew I would regret it. I had to bring back the classics. No regrets, no regrets. I had to do it for me, for Sarah and for old times.
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I ran to the stairs. Our tour group looked at me with wonder. I excused myself. Told them it was all about the Dead Man Pose.  As I threw myself on the floor to the sounds of laughter I couldn’t help but smile. Mike snapped away. I had forgotten how entertaining this was. I didn’t even think about the dirty floor I was laying on. Until now. Remember it’s all about getting that shot, all about the shot.

A brief look at the set-up

When I hear those famous words, “strike a pose” it brings to my mind a completely different image than what I’m sure it brings to most people. You might have visions of Madonna and Vogue. Models and magazines. These images aren’t bad but they aren’t what I see. It’s the pose. The old Dead Man’s Pose. But it’s not just a pose. It’s much more than that. It’s images of England and Paris and balconies and bathtubs. I think of fun and travel and old friends and adventure. Being silly and free to explore the world whenever you want. A time when we didn’t have to worry as much and we were carefree. I miss those days.

Dead Man Revisited

I know we can’t go back in time but I can start to bring back the past and I can do it with that pose.  Every time I throw myself on the ground it makes me smile and think of the old days. And then I smile even more knowing that I have new ones to add to the collection.
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For an alternate ending and for different pictures, go to my other blog at: www.redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com.

A Ghostly Tale

Sarah looks too happy as I'm about to chop her head off

I have always been fascinated with all things scary. Some might even say obsessed. I don’t know why, I don’t even know when or how it started but for as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed anything related to all things scary. Books, movies, rides, games, I’ll take it all. I’ll try it all. It’s ironic really. My mom is terrified of anything scary. Definitely not her first choice. I don’t know where I got it from. I’m telling you, an obsession. I remember going to the library and picking up my first Dean Koontz book. It was called Darkfall. Great book. I couldn’t wait to finish it. Until my mom saw me reading it and took it away. Said I was too young. What?? Nine is definitely not too young. Do you know how hard it is to finish reading a book when you have to sneak read chapters every time you go to the library and do covert ops? Leave your mom and brother in the kid section while you run to the adult section looking for Dean Koontz? Not an easy task. Same thing happened when I tried reading The Exorcist when I was eleven. Confiscated. This time by a teacher. What’s with this censorship? I even had to sneak my movies in. A classic like Poltergeist. Imagine that. I had to wait until the parents were out before I could catch up on my horror classics. What’s a girl to do? Thank goodness for Nana and the babysitter. Whew.

My friends can all attest that it’s been like this forever. They’ve all been sucked into my world of ghosts and horror movies. Yes, we’ve all watched great movies and cheesy movies. Those are the best ones of course. I’m not ashamed to admit it. They might be but I’m not. Classics. That’s what I’ll call them. As I got older I discovered the mother lode. All over the world. This was brilliant. Everywhere you went you could be entertained and learn. Yes, that right, it was a history lesson. Sure, that’s what it was. I was learning all about the history of where I was. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Ghost tours and museums and much, much more.  Now these were definitely the kinds of museums I could visit all day long. Throughout the years I’ve been on a few ghost tours and a few interesting “horror” tours as well. Whether or not they are scary I guess is up to the individual but you definitely learn some cool facts and depending on who is in your group you can be entertained. I’m pretty lucky. I always have a good group with me. It’s always me and whoever I take. So yes, that’s a good group. We know how to entertain ourselves, no matter where we are.
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First stop – London Dungeon on Tooley Street. It looked like Sarah need a little head chopping. I was up for the task. This place was fascinating. It told 1000 years of London’s most dark and gory history. There are different rooms that tell the tales of what went on throughout history and most of it is in the dark. The anticipation of what you think is going to happen is probably what is the most scary.  We loved it. Of course you can’t leave London without going on a Jack the Ripper Tour. Also a night tour, which you’ll find is the best for a ghost tour. Trial and error, my friends. I remember a lot of walking down cobblestone streets for this one. Sure, not as scary as a traditional ghost tour might be but still a pretty interesting walk when you try to think of walking down the same paths and others did so long ago.
By far one of the coolest ghost tours I have ever gone on was in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was flying solo for this little bad boy. Walking around the old streets of this beautiful city was amazing and to cap it off with a visit to the underground haunted vaults was fascinating. You would never think while you are walking around on top that there is a complete city underneath you. These vaults have been featured on T.V. as being the most actively haunted and paranormal experiencing locations in the world. Much like in London, you learn about the historical dark side of Edinburgh. I think it’s time I go back for another tour. I see they’ve added some new things. At the end of the tour they now take you to Scotland’s most haunted pub for a drink, The Banshee Labyrinth. Wait a minute. Look at all this history. This is actually a very educational fascination. Learning and getting entertained at the same time. Really, what more could you ask for?

Waiting for Ida to join him.

Now it was time for us to hit up San Diego. We’d done a brief tour on our own before. The Whaley House in Old Town. The Chamber of Commerce has dubbed it the most haunted house in America. Now that’s a pretty good title. However, we made a mistake. Day time. I know I mentioned that earlier. Never take a day tour of a haunted location. Now I’m not saying you’re guaranteed to see anything at night but hey, it’s more fun. Plus, there aren’t children running up and down the stairs going “wooooooooo I’m a ghost”. This does not make for a good atmosphere. I do actually recommend going to The Whaley House. I’d like to go back at night. It was interesting. But this time we decided to take a walking tour of the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego. San Diego is perhaps known as the most haunted city in the United States.
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We started off at the Georges V Hotel on Fifth Street which was once owned by Wyatt Earp, but not haunted by him. This is haunted by former women of ill repute. Well what to you know because we also found out that the Gaslamp used to be the red light district. I love history. We had fun running up and down the stairs at this location and it’s a good thing we did because unfortunately many of the buildings that we were shown we could not enter. One, which used to be a mortuary and was very haunted, was now a private jazz club. So private that there was no phone number and had a fake law office door to fool people into thinking it was something else. Really? Also on Fifth Street. It costs $300 to get into. I’d rather be a ghost.  Another building that we couldn’t enter was a restaurant. The owners believed it was not good to mess with spirits. What the hell is going on here?

I can make it to room 309....

Our last stop on the tour was the Horton Grand Hotel. It was actually two hotels split by a lobby. This place was haunted by two ghosts. The Horton Grand was graced by the ghost of Ida Bailey. She preferred showing herself to the men and didn’t appear to women. Sure, I can understand that. Which is why I gave up Mike as a sacrifice.  Our tour guide said she was fond of money. Well, duh, who isn’t? Mike pulled out that cash and sat on the stairs. I didn’t want to leave him out there too long so I just made him pose for a few pictures and I let him come back down.
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The other side of the hotel is called the Kale Saddlery and is haunted by Roger Whittaker, who was a gambler. He haunts room 309. Of course we were told that we couldn’t go up here either because it was occupied. Well of course it’s occupied. There’s a ghost in it. I thought we should wait until our tour group left and then sneak up the stairs. I mean, really, what’s the worst that can happen? We get kicked off the tour? It’s the end of it anyway. It’s such a mean thing to do when you think about it. The whole night our guide was pointing out all of the buildings that had the most active ghost sightings and then we were told we couldn’t go in. That’s like inviting someone over to a pool party and then telling them the pool is closed. What kind of cruel joke was this? Why were we being teased like this? Personally I thought it was a conspiracy. Seemed kind of odd to me. Point out all of the ghosts, tell us we can’t go in but now that we know which buildings they are in we can go back on our own and pay to visit. Sure, I get it.  I’m beginning to think the ghosts have the right idea. Haunt the people that charge ridiculous amounts of money. I like that plan. It’s something to look into for the future. You know, when the time comes.
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For an alternate ending and to see different pictures, go to my other blog at www.redismynaturalcolor.blogspot.com.
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