Sunday, December 28, 2014

Arizona Christmas

It's never easy to be away from my family and my good friends in Indiana; but the holidays make it even more difficult.  Luckily, Eric's family has always welcomed me as one of their own.  This year Christmas was in the home of Rita and Paul, who recently moved to Tucson from Washington. It was a lovely couple of days.

On the drive from Phoenix to Tucson, we stopped at the beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission.  We missed sunset by just minutes but the sky was still a beautiful sapphire blue.

The interior

On Christmas Day we all gathered at the Mills' residence.  Our morning got an exciting start as a coyote meandered past the front of the house!


Eric and I finally had the opportunity to meet cousin Stephanie's husband, Matt, and spend some time with their adorable daughter, Annika.

Matt and Annika

Eric and Stephanie catching up
Brian, Paul, and Rita were quite the chefs!  They prepared TWO turkeys!  One oven roasted and one deep fried...both delicious.

Brian checks the turkey


Sweet Annika watching her i-pad

 Rita set a beautiful table and more family began trickling in as dinnertime approached.

Brenda and Crosby assisting with veggies and dip

Crosby tries, unsuccessfully, to steal Annika's chair

And then she caught a ride on his leg!

Brian and Paul continued cooking and even tending bar.  They were fun to watch...such pro's!

Paul taking out the deep fried turkey!

Brian finishing the gravy
Outside, storm clouds started rolling in as the kids enjoyed the December Arizona weather.

Christian, Annika, and Courtney
 Finally, the feast was ready and we all gathered around to eat!

Stephanie, Matt, Bruce, Julie, Crosby, Celia, and Brenda

Turkey two-ways, sausage stuffing, green bean casserole, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes
Thank you to the Mills' and the McDowell's for a wonderful Christmas.  I hope everyone back in Indiana, and all over, had an equally blessed Christmas. 

"Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart."  ~ Washington Irving


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Swimmin' Pools an' Movie Stars

Growing up in small town Indiana, I ALWAYS dreamed of going to California. The land of sunshine, beaches, cool and beautiful people, palm trees, movie stars.  I took my first trip to LA in my early 20's. It was my first time on an airplane.  I learned that you could purchase alcohol on Sunday.  I tried this weird dish called calamari.  I met Ron Jeremy.  I hiked my first mountain where I also ran into the chic from White Zombie.  It was everything I imagined it would be!  20 years later and I still love the city of angels.  I still get excited when I go and sad when I leave.  This visit was even more special because it was my first time being there with Eric. 

Our first night there I dragged Eric to the best gayborhood anywhere...WeHo...also known as West Hollywood.  We had cocktails at the famous Abbey and then went next door to Pump.  I am admittedly a reality TV junkie.  Sad but true.  And Pump is owned by the beautiful Real Housewives star, Lisa Vanderpump.  The restaurant was almost as pretty as the people who worked there.  After we ate we went down the street to her other restaurant, Sur.  It was there that I met the infamous reality TV star, Jax.  He wouldn't have been my first pick of people to meet...but he was nice and it was still fun!

The Abbey

Jax and Brittany

The next morning Eric had work obligations so I met up with a friend from Indiana that I hadn't seen in 10 years!  We went to brunch at the beautiful Getty.  The gardens and the view of the city were simply gorgeous.  After brunch we walked around WeHo and had cocktails at a cute little pink place that was dog friendly.

Brunch at the Getty Museum

Me and Jeff at the Getty Gardens

Getty Museum on a beautiful California day!

Getty Gardens
The "Witch House" in Beverly Hills that Jeff took me past!

Solange Knowles lives here!

WeHo storefront!

Kitchen 24


That night Eric and I went to Katsuya for dinner.  The sushi was delicious and the atmosphere was SO Hollywood.  After dinner we walked around just taking in the sights. 

Katsuya decor

Katsuya sushi

Love me some Jane's Addiction!
Our last morning Eric and I drove up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu.  Other than my first time in LA, I have been to Geoffrey's for brunch every time I visit.  The view is beautiful...both of the ocean and of the diners.  We met an old friend of Eric's and enjoyed an awesome brunch.

Our view of the Pacific Ocean from our table at Geoffrey's
  And in the end, LA gave me a stunning goodbye.  Until next time!

Made up my mind to make a new start, Going To California with an aching in my heart.
Someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.
Took my chances on a big jet plane, never let them tell you that they're all the same.
The sea was red and the sky was grey, wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today.
The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
as the children of the sun began to awake.

~Led Zeppelin 

California, preaching on the burning shore
California, I'll be knocking on the golden door
Like an angel, standing in a shaft of light
Rising up to paradise, I know I'm gonna shine.

~Grateful Dead