Burning Down the House–The Story of My Tugboat Man and Fire Drills

pier-1-scented-seashell-candlesI love candles. I have candles covering virtually every surface in every room of our home.

I don’t light candles while my tugboat man is gone.

Not anymore.

There’s a very good reason for this.

I almost burned our house down and my husband’s firefighting training was the only impediment to potential disaster.

One very tranquil evening last spring after dinner, I lit every candle in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom and proceeded to take a leisurely shower. There were candles on the countertop, candles on the bamboo shelf above the toilet, and candles on another floor shelf unit.

Normally I extinguish them when I’m finished, but this time I didn’t because the room looked and smelled so lovely.

Wearing a black silk kimono and feeling quite frisky (if you know what I mean) I went out to the family room and snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Daily Show with a glass of merlot and hubs.

After a bit, he took the remote and muted the sound.

He cocked his head like he was listening for something (he looked very puppy-like and cute LOL) and said,

“Do you hear that?”

Me: “Hear what?”

Him: “I think I hear something in the bedroom, or wait, did you leave the water on?”

Me: “No, I didn’t. What do you hear?”

Him: “You’re not making popcorn, are you? Do you smell anything?”

Me: “Nooo….no popcorn, I can’t really smell –wait, I do kinda hear something, I wonder what… ”

Suddenly, he takes off running toward the bathroom and I stand up but I swear, I’m totally paralyzed, I can’t move a muscle to follow him or anything.  (I’m not a real take charge kind of girl in any emergency. I’m the one whose limbs turn to stone. I don’t react. Don’t count on me.)

So…the next thing I hear is a lot of “Oh sh***t” and “F**k F***K F***K F***K!!” and things crashing, and for a split second I think someone broke in and they’re fighting.

It was soooo crazy.

I’m still standing two rooms away and my feet are like in cement; I mean I know I should DO something, but I just can’t. I can’t even move to the phone to call 911 or anything.

Then I heard the sound of the shower being turned on and sizzling sounds. I was finally able to triumph over my fears and pry my feet loose, and tiptoed toward the bathroom.

OH -EM-GEE.

What I saw was a disaster. The bathroom was filled with smoke; smoke was beginning to fill the house (later we figured out that the smoke alarm’s battery had died.)

My personal fireman hero was soaking wet — apparently the noise I heard were his huge biceps ripping the engulfed in flames bamboo shelf off the wall and tossed in the shower. What a hero! He had the presence of mind, not to mention the strength, to prevent a major tragedy.

As you might imagine, fires on boats are a potential catastrophe, and professional mariners constantly train and drill in the event of a fire in the engine room or anywhere else on board. I know that my mariner takes it very seriously, and I am SO glad.

Watching him in action was very reassuring (and VERY sexy).

Here’s what happened…

One of the candles was on the bottom shelf of the bamboo unit above the toilet and next to the shower. The heat from the flame ignited the shelf right above it, which also had a candle going, and that in turn ignited the shelf above that and finally the whole thing was ablaze with foot-high flames, searing the ceiling, coating it in a horrible black smoky sooty mess. The ceiling stayed too hot to touch for hours, and it was just plain luck that the attic didn’t explode in flames; it was that hot.

The burning bamboo set off little flaming arrows of fire all over the bathroom, burning the floor, the rug, and everything it touched. Cleaning the bathroom was a nightmare. There was congealed candle wax covering every surface, including the shower and the countertop, the sink, the mirror, and even the ceiling. It took forever to scrape it off.

The burnt bamboo shelf

burned shelf

This wasn’t my first brush with a candle-related disaster, however.

We have an entertainment unit in the family room that has beautiful glass shelves.

entertainment unit

I lit a candle on the bottom shelf (déjà vu, right?) and left the room (déjà vu again, right?) and we heard a sound like an explosion, ran in, and found shattered glass everywhere. The shelf must have heated up and cracked. Wow.  Everything on the shelf crashed and broke, too.

The replacement shelf had to be custom-made, and the expensive lesson learned that time was not to light any candles under glass shelves.

But I guess I didn’t learn the ENTIRE lesson or I surely wouldn’t have walked away from a roomful of candles!

I am ever so grateful that hubs did not bring up the previous incident as I felt bad enough without being reminded of my carelessness.

So…it’s no surprise that I avoid any candle lighting until my personal fireman is here.

Before he leaves to go out to sea, he forces me to perform –fire drills. (Head OUT of the gutter, people!) I think it’s more to make him feel better about leaving and hoping that I have the tools and knowledge to act appropriately  in an emergency.

Well, that’s probably not going to happen.

The fire extinguisher is in the garage, and I know he’s shown me a zillion times how to make it work, but I don’t remember a single thing he says. Considering that my response time isn’t so good, the darn thing is heavy and unwieldy and it’ll be next to impossible to react at all when my feet are pinned to the floor, unable to move – I guess I’ll have to be content with a picture of a candle until he comes home.

candle

Just a Cup of Coffee – Part Two

Just a Cup of Coffee…the true love story of Princess Rosebud and her tugboat man.

Click to read Part One HERE

(This might take a while, grab your hankies, it could have been broken up into three parts, but I didn’t want to prolong the happy ending.)

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Yes, I kept my promise; no dates and no mistakes. There was the excruciating lure of nubile and suntanned young surfers but I stood firm in my resolve in spite of the half naked, salty-skinned–oh crap. Living in Southern California is sooo like opening up a fresh box of candy. It wasn’t fair, but a deal’s a deal.

box of chocolatesIf only I could have had just a teensy-weensy bite here, a bite there–oh, SO yummy–that one has a caramel center, or that other one’s coconut-filled, or a tart juicy cherry embraced by dark chocolate, or full of Baileys Irish Creamer–you get what I’m sayin’?  I’ll just bet you do. On my towel, surveying the beach, I wanted to take a little bite out of each one, so to speak.

But….I had to go cold turkey and avoid them all. Not one lick, not one taste.

I had a goal, I had a vision; I had my list–clenched tightly in my hand–WILLPOWER–it’s all about the willpower.

Here’s where serendipity might have had a hand in the convergence of our lifepaths.

In the beginning, I THOUGHT I first laid eyes on the captain when I was hired for the marketing department of a local cruise line.

Aside…because the whole idea of me and boats is a joke. I’m not what you’d consider sea-worthy. I’d only been on a couple of boats previously and became violently seasick on both of those trips.

OK, now read this – could it be the hand of fate that brought us together? Was our eventual connection forged a decade before ?
_________________________________________________

Was it luck or serendipity? 

On a romantic evening In front of the fire with a couple snifters of Courvoisier, my tugboat man and I concluded that our paths did cross, not in a prior life, but…

In the 1980s he captained a charter vessel in our local harbor–tours of the bay, dinner cruises; that kind of thing.  

In between going out to sea for four to six months, he’d come back to SoCal for a break and to surf-and worked locally.

Around that same time, my mom and I took my then five-year-old son on his first boat ride, a tour of San Diego Bay.

At that time, there was really only one boat company that offered daily excursions.

It wasn’t until we had been married for probably ten years or so– looking through an old photo album–when he saw a pic of my mom and me on “his” boat — that the subject came up.

(That’s part of me and the Coronado Bridge. Obviously, my mom couldn’t take a decent pic.)

Since there were only two captains, and the time of day we were there was during his (remembered) shift, it’s highly possible that we spoke–or made eye contact. As captain, he always greets and counts the passengers while he collects boarding passes; especially because we had a child with us. Always concerned with safety, my captain.

Our ships DID, most likely, PASS in the night (day).  

What would have happened if we had talked? I was married with a little boy–the timing was absolutely not right.  

Did we each hold on to a momentary glance or imprint on our subconscious so that our path to romance was pre-determined? 

Why did I become employed at a cruise line when I don’t even like boats?

I still have no idea.

That we met in 1991 and felt an instant connection might be interpreted as luck or serendipity. 

Which do you think it is?
_______________________________________________________________

Back to the story:  Was it merely coincidence–meaninglessly simultaneous occurance–or  synchronicity?  We agree that it was meant to be. We’re two peas in a pod, me and him.

We mirror each other.

One of my first marketing duties was to attend a downtown trade show. I vividly recall my ensemble–and before you get all judge-y and everything, let’s take the year into consideration–1991–please be kind.

You know you looked exactly the same.

You KNOW you did.

I wore a short split skirt (dare I say skort) of silky polyester-type material (I know, I know) imprinted with brightly colored parrots (cringe), a turquoise blazer, and four-inch-high red heels. Oh, and they were LARGE parrots.  I’m five-feet-tall with very curly dark brown hair. You can imagine the style when I tell you it added five inches to my height. Nuff said–stop laughing, I have nothing to apologize for; it was the decade of big hair.

The owner of the company walked by our booth and introduced me to his senior captain. I played it cool; I’m good at that–just a quick handshake and then I turned my attention to the marketing materials like I was very, very busy.

I only allowed myself a passing glance his way, committed as I was to making a good impression on my boss. Plus, I was fully dedicated to my promise to celibacy and just because he was ADORABLE was no excuse to give in to temptation. Not even with those green-gray eyes. Not even.

Since I was on a “man diet, I transformed him (in my mind) into a rich chocolaty truffle chocolate truffleand successfully used my powers to resist–at least on that particular day. During the next few weeks, our paths crossed many times; at the office with brief hellos in the hallway, and with overt scrutiny during cruises when I accompanied some of the charters. (When I wasn’t stuck with my head in the toilet. I told you the truth, I’m not a natural seawoman.)

As much as I tried to deny it–I can’t lie–there were those familiar little tingles, goose bumps even, delicious frissons of attraction. On one hand I was fighting it with all I had, yet on the other hand I spent more time in the office than I really needed to.  A little extra makeup, perfume, a few new outfits–you know how it is. OK OK, I admit it! A smile from him did something to my insides, that fluttery butterfly sensation I willed myself to ignore.

I carried The List in my handbag and referred to it in moments of weakness, and for a while I was able to avoid temptation.

Here comes the good part, y’all.

In mid-November, I met with a client at one of the boats to plan a large corporate event. As we walked up the gangway, I discovered the captain was on board in the wheelhouse. I had no idea he would be there, and resolved to ignore him, except that everyone always wants to meet a captain, (too much Love Boat) so I was forced to be polite and make the introductions.

Here’s where it all went wrong-or right-depending on your point of view.

After my meeting ended, I did not immediately leave. I stalled, meandering around the small area of shops located near the harbor. I was so mad at ME; I tried to talk myself into leaving by going over The List and telling myself that I should be writing up the event details.

Just GO, I said to myself! But guess who didn’t listen? I found myself furtively looking around to see if the captain was still there. Since the whole chocolate visualization thing didn’t seem to be working anymore, I turned him into as a gooey, cheesy, spicy pizza and I used all my willpower to stand firm–to stay focused–recounting all the reasons why that delicious piece of heaven is not worth the calories.

I swear to you, I had every good intention of leaving and driving to the corporate office, I really did, but cosmic forces had grabbed hold of my good sense.

I was powerless. The hand of fate had me in her grip–and that chicka had been working out with the heavy weights.

Finally, I could find no further excuse to drag my feet and delay the inevitable departure.

I very reluctantly and slowly walked to my car, parked in front of a coffee shop, and as if by magic, the captain appeared.

I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in spite of the fact that my heart was racing.

“Where are you going? Why didn’t you say goodbye? “What’s up?” “How about buying a co-worker a cup of coffee?”

I demurred, saying I had to go, I had another appointment (not true); uh, I don’t buy guys coffee, and he kept badgering me,

“C’mon, don’t be stuck up, don’t you have fifty cents for a cup of coffee?”

(That was before six-dollar lattes and Starbucks on every corner.)

“You don’t want me to think you’re a snob, do you?”

[pause]

That did it.

Of course you understand why I wouldn’t want him to think any of those things, right? RIGHT? It was a matter of pride; once he turned on his charm, I was hooked. I unearthed a few quarters from the bottom of my handbag.

Yes, I bought the coffee. It’s something I can’t believe myself.

My other credo had always been, “Princesses don’t pay. Men pay.” But buy the coffee I did.

Honestly, I was borderline pathetic. Not even borderline. I was hanging on to the cliff with my fingertips.

It’s like sparks were flying off his body. I made every excuse in the book to lean over and oops, accidentally brush his arm and cop a sniff. He smelled heavenly.

It’s that damn pheromone thing. I was–still am-hopelessly–magically attracted. He’s irresistible. And he knows it.

We took our coffee outside and sat at a cement patio table. It was one of those perfect SoCal November days–balmy even. For a few moments we said nothing as we sipped from our coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Red lights flashed on and off in my head.

DANGER AHEAD! STOP THE MISSION! RUN!

Less than a foot away from me he straddled the half-moon shaped concrete bench. His thighs were encased in soft worn jeans and my thoughts were heading into hazardous waters.

His hair was wet and looked like he just had showered.

“What are you doing here? Did you know I was going to be here?”

“No, I didn’t, I had to update the logs, and I surfed a bit earlier.”

Ah, that’s where the wet hair came from.

“So…you’re a surfer?”

That is most definitely NOT on my list.

“I like to think I am.”

Scintillating conversation, huh? I thought that was a bit arrogant, a bit–AHEM–cocky.

Later I learned that he had spent much of his youth in Kauai and he really was/is a great surfer, but I didn’t know much about him — only what I was feeling.

As the conversation unfolded and we chatted–he told me where he lived and where he had gone to college, and–those thighs, oh wait–no, not that–of course I meant what kind of music he liked and that he loves animals–I found myself listening to his voice but not hearing the words.

This is where it gets weird.

And pinky-swear, it’s all true, it all happened exactly like this. It was REAL.

He looked at me and smiled.

I felt lit from within.

My heart melted. (Even now, his smiles affect me the same way.)

I sighed. He sighed. I sighed again.

That was IT.

Everything became quiet and a calm-before-the-storm sensation enveloped me. I placed my hands on the bench because I was suddenly lightheaded–I needed support because I felt like the ground beneath shifted;  waves that triggered that falling phenomenon just before you completely succumb to sleep–like a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch.

Faintly, I sensed the planets tumble into position, the clickclickclick… of stars aligning in the heavens; the sun, moon, Venus, and Mars at that moment were singing in the universe.

Did we just have an earthquake? I jumped off the bench like it was on fire. I ran to my car, unable to deal with the intensity of the moment. He was right behind me. He was so annoying!

“Where ya  goin’? We  should go out sometime.”

I was having a hard time breathing and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. I leaned against the door for support and turned to him,

“When? Tonight?”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not known for being subtle.

“I have to work a charter later, I’ll give you a call.”

And with that, I drove off.

Of course, I never went back to work. Who could blame me?

I raced home and power-called all my girlfriends.

I was in panic mode.

I reported every detail to one friend after another. I needed advice, I needed explanations. I needed to be talked down. But no one had experienced anything comparable. No one knew what to do.

I was on this voyage alone; no rules to follow. I was in uncharted waters.

That evening I did what we are warned not to do, what mothers counsel daughters against.

I was nervous and jumping out of my skin, but also determined to be 100% honest (also on my list). How else would I know if he was “the one”? I called and left a message on his voicemail. Remember way back when we used voicemail?

“Hi, can you give me a call when you hear this message? There’s something I need to ask you.”

He called a couple hours later. I was  on my bed, reading a magazine, pretending I was not waiting for the call…dreading the call.

“Hi there, it’s me. I got your message, but I was planning to call you anyway. What’s up?”

I took a deep breath and decided it was now or never–I needed to go for it…take that chance. DO it.

”Uhh, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened at the harbor…I never felt anything like that EVER, and I think… I think…”

I took a deep breath and the words tumbled out,

“IthinkIamfallinginlovewithyou
andwonderifyoufeelthesame
way–orifitisjustme.”

“I mean, I really need to know.”

[Pause]   [More pause]

Oh boy. In that single, painful, heartstopping moment I wished I could hit delete and erase the last five minutes.

Palms sweaty, heart pounding, OMG, I am a total f-ing idiot–what have I just said–I’m insane, he’ll think I’m a freak or I’m exhibiting psycho pre-stalker tendencies–and then, finally, it seemed like hours of silence had gone by–I was gonna hang up and hide under my bed if he didn’t say something–he said,

“Umm, no, it’s not just you. I’m feeling the same exact way. Something happened to me today too,  and I can’t explain it either.  How about us going on a real date and let’s talk about it?”

I released the breath I hadn’t been aware I was still holding. That last planet locked into position.

I discovered my soul mate, my tugboat man.

There’s lots more to this story; some twists and turns and ups and downs, but the thread that ties it all together is how we found each other and fell in love.

Today: I wait for him to come home. And wait. And wait. And remind myself, “Don’t count the miles, count the I-love-yous”

Christina Perri, “Miles”

Just a Cup of Coffee – The Love Story of Princess Rosebud and her Captain – Part One

Today:  Sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not. That’s the life of a tugboat captain’s wife. Right now he’s not..

weddingpicture

Yup, the secret’s out. I’m married to Johnny Depp

The Wedding: February 21, 1994

Our song, our first dance as husband and wife. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
http://youtu.be/wkVuQGgx7d8

The Beginning…This is the love story of me, Princess Rosebud, and the tugboat captain.

We met when I was a year into my deal with myself to stay celibate until I met someone, uh, worthy…

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010… At 3:40 this afternoon, I was in the threshold of our garage door that leads into the living room where I had dragged in a ladder to help with my latest project–painting the living room walls a divine shade of seafoam green–to stay busy when the captain’s out to sea. I mean, I can’t shop ALL the time. A girl has to take a break now and again, right? I set the ladder down and went back to close the garage door. At that precise moment, the glass vases on the shelves surrounding our fireplace began to vibrate and wobble. Here in SoCal, I’ve endured a handful of quakes, but never such intense shaking.

Through the open garage door I saw the bicycles that hang from the ceiling sway back and forth. As I attempted to process THAT information, the crystal lustres on my grandmother’s antique porcelain candelabras clashed and clinked. Terracotta tile flooring in the foyer seemed to roll back and forth as if I was on a sailboat in San Diego Bay, and I had a difficult time standing.

Feeling dizzy and unbalanced, I grasped the doorway for support.  My poor kitty gave me a dirty look like I had interrupted her nap on purpose. So much for the concept that animals can sense an earthquake–not this spoiled little brat.

I ran up our oak-planked steps into the family room and through the patio doors onto the deck and shouted out to the neighbors.

“Look at your pool!”

“I know, this is crazy! Are you OK? Any damage?”

“I don’t think so. A couple seashells fell off the shelf in the family room, but I was so freaked, I didn’t want to stay inside, so I ran out back. I don’t know if we should stay in the house or what we should do!”

“Us either! Let’s see what’s on the news.”

This quake was so violent that it caused the water in their pool to slosh over the sides like a mini-tsunami. We each went back in our respective homes and turned on CNN. We discovered that there had been a 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. The first reports that came in revealed a lot of damage near the epicenter in Mexicali, but no major problems in San Diego; only broken glass and falling cans at grocery stores, which seemed pretty miraculous considering the earthquake’s size.

Still spooked by the shaking and some pretty strong aftershocks, I surveyed the house, removing anything unsecured and potentially dangerous.

This is as good a time as any to confess something.

I’m a shell-aholic.

seashell mirrorI’ve got shelves and shelves of seashells in every room–including the bathroom. Everyone collects seashells, right? One here, one there, as a memory of a great beach or a fun vacation, right? Well…I’m a seashell hoarder. I want ALL seashells–there are never enough seashells to collect or buy. I make things out of some of them–picture frames, mirrors, boxes–they line the walls in our two bathrooms and even our front door, but mostly they just hang out–in bowls, on shelves, anywhere and everywhere. There is no empty space in our house, and if there is, it’s quickly filled with a shell–or a rock.

After a couple decades, we have come to an understanding, the captain and I. He thinks I’m crazy and obsessed with shells and rocks and driftwood, and I don’t destroy his surfboards if he doesn’t give me a hard time about it.

I anxiously emailed the captain who’s half a world away in the middle of an ocean. I figured that if anything would cause him to cut his four month assignment short, this might be it. The way that emailing works in deep ocean situations is through a pretty inefficient satellite; sometimes it takes hours to complete the process. If there’s a real emergency, I have a phone number to call, but this didn’t really fit the definition. I wasn’t hurt and the house wasn’t damaged or anything. When he finally read the email and wrote back, he told me to “standby” at the house phone because he would try to make a call from the boat’s sat phone. When he called, I used all my powers of persuasion to convince him to come home, but to no avail. He simply wasn’t going to call the United States Coast Guard to fly a rescue mission a thousand miles from land to bring  him home because the kitty and I were scared.

Well, I know where I stand in his list of priorities. Hmmm, I wonder if this is when I hatched my plot to get that Chanel. Hmmm, I wonder.

After that stressful event, and many aftershocks later, some pampering was definitely well deserved. That evening, I drew a bath in the upstairs bathroom we call the spa because it’s decorated in earthy tones with seashells and beach glass surrounding the mirrors and along the walls.

(I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t care.)

I lit a fragrant and calming lavender candle, eased my body into the almost too-hot-to-stand-it water, and trickled in ginger and lemongrass aromatherapy oils. Sipping from a glass of merlot, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and my thoughts wandered.

Experiencing an earthquake; the dizziness, the weightless feeling in a tub of warm water; it all reminded me of falling in love. It all felt the same… and it all started with a fifty cent cup of coffee.

Newly divorced in 1990, I speed dated a few guys, including one totally boring and slightly scary man who immediately wanted me to meet his parents after the first (and last) date, along with a couple of total idiots whose combined IQs prolly didn’t equal my Border Collie‘s. Those unsavory experiences became flashing red lights–STOP! NO! THINK!–impossible to ignore–that I seriously needed to take some time off the dating circuit.

It was the perfect time for a list.

I’m an inveterate list maker; I prioritize my errands and even list groceries in the order of where they’re located in the store– like my own custom board game–where I start at the entrance and finish at the cash register.

I wrote this particular list with the hope that if I documented the qualities desired in a significant other, the universe would deliver the right one when all the planets were aligned. Or so I dreamed.

At midnight on August 7th, 1990, with a bottle of wine to seal the deal, I made a promise to myself–I would not date (or do anything else) for a very long time, and the next one would be “the one”.

The List
1. Must call when he says he will. This is non-negotiable.
2. Must show up on time for dates.
3. Must love pets. Also non-negotiable.
4. No cigarettes. No smoking, and of course, no drugs.
5. Likes to exercise, work out, eat healthy, etc.
6. Must have gainful employment.
7. Must be nice and polite and honest and trustworthy.
8. Fidelity is of paramount importance.
9. When the time is right and he meets my son, my son has to like him. Also non-negotiable.

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Tomorrow:
Part Two…Just a cup of coffee, the love story of Princess Rosebud and the tugboat captain

Like a Virgin…a BlogHer Virgin, That Is: Tips From Princess Rosebud

Like a virgin, touched for the very first time by the lure of a blogger conference, I DO know the way to San Jose for #BlogHer14.

Why am I going? I HAVE NO IDEA. After blogging for two years and meeting lots of awesome bloggers online, it SEEMED like a gathering of like-minded women all together in one location focused on similar goals of monetizing and socializing was a good thing. So I bought a ticket the day the conference was announced.

And then I vacillated…I would go, I wouldn’t go, I should go, I don’t want to go, I need to go, I won’t go — back and forth in my mind for months until my tugboat man came home and it was time to MAKE A DECISION AND STICK TO IT.

He offered to drive me up and hang out, surf Santa Cruz, and be my support system.

How could I turn that down?

And if he wasn’t already the most wonderful husband in the world, he is now, because next Saturday is his birthday and I’ll be hanging around a convention center all day and going to parties at night and he’ll have to wait ’til I come back to the hotel to celebrate.

He’s still deciding if he wants a guest pass to accompany me to the parties…probably not, though. But maybe he’ll change his mind when we get there.

So I’m going. I think. No, I’m really going. I’m screed, but I’m doing this.

The hotel has been reserved, the shoes have been chosen, three days worth of outfits have been selected with laser-like precision…

As a former marketing professional, I’ve paid my dues at trade shows and conventions. Even though I’ve never attended a blogging-specific conference, I’ve been to dozens of other events and even organized several trade shows and expos.

THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT LIFE LESSON…

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

It’s true; I live by it and it’s served me well during my life.

  • Dress for success; you ARE your brand, you ARE your own best PR person — and this is an opportunity to SHINE.

I know what’s important NOT to forget. Since I’m driving (being driven), I won’t address the issues of flight travel; I’ll focus on the hotel and fashion choices.

HOTEL TIPS

  • Bring antiseptic wipes. No matter whether it’s a five-star hotel or an off-the-beaten-path “no tell” motel, you can never be too careful. I wipe down everything; light switches, TV remote, toilet seats, bathroom faucets, chair arms (everything!)
  • Bring flip flops especially for wearing in the shower. I refuse to allow my feet to touch the shower/bath floor. It’s just too icky to think about.
  • Slippers to wear in the hotel room. And I usually throw them away. Nuff said.
  • Hub always always checks for bedbugs before I bring anything in the room.
  • I’m crazy, but I bring my own pillows. (Because I’m crazy.) And sometimes I bring my own sheets and blankets, again because I’m totes cray. And because I hate other people’s germs.
  • A bottle of my fave champagne, Gruet. Just ‘cos.

PACKING

I like to be prepared, so I always figure on 3 outfits a day times 3 days = 9 outfit changes. That sounds about right to me. I’m bringing two skinny jeans; white and deep green, two four fancy/evening/cocktail dresses (no evening gown, I was just kidding), two three summery casual dresses, two maxi dresses, work out clothes, panty hose (yes, sometimes I still wear them), 10 tops and blouses to mix and match with skinny jeans, a variety of sweaters, (cashmere/silk/cotton), and one black awesome business suit with a pencil skirt. Neutrals with a pop of color and sparkle is my personal fashion trademark.

blogherclothes

Pre-packing pandemonium

bloghershoesShoes: Mostly everyone else says to bring shoes that are comfortable, and I agree to a POINT. I’ll always carry a pair of flats and flip-flops in my bag, especially since I like to walk back to my hotel room during the day to freshen up and change, but I don’t think comfort is my ONLY criteria — being fashionable is important, too. Yes, I’m bringing all of these shoes. Even if I don’t wear ALL of them, I like to know they’re there, waiting in the wings, just in case…

Accessories: I have a special travel bag to keep earrings and bracelets and necklaces from becoming tangled. I’ll bring a strand of pearls and a few pairs of earrings that complement several outfits.

Handbags: A small Chanel that’s a great crossover body bag during the day and wonderful for evening events, too. A shoulder bag for my computer, business cards, gifts (brand-related of course), water, flip-flops, and another bag that folds — just in case. I like to be prepared.

FINAL TIPS

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink a lot of water. I carry powdered organic wheat grass whenever I travel and fill a water bottle with one or two tablespoons to each 16oz water. Great for energy and all around well being.
  • Remember, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” If you always dress in sweat pants, torn oversized t-shirts, and flip-flops, kick it up a notch. SHINE on the outside like you do on the inside.♥ And SMILE!

xoxo Princess Rosebud
See you #BlogHer14

 

[tech neck. tweet pleat] wtf?

Blog news: Just a couple more fresh posts before I leave for BlogHer14 in San Jose.I’m scheduling posts of previously posted posts in advance; I’ve never done that before successfully – hope it works this time. If you’ve read them before, sorry for the reruns —  if you have NOT, this is a chance to learn a little bit about me and my tugboat man.


 Are you suffering from tech neck and tweet pleat?

Let’s figure this out together.

Have you heard of this affliction?

Neither had I until a few days ago.

Here we are — all of us — attempting to break through the learning curve and stay on top of ALL RELEVANT SOCIAL MEDIUMS — to be current, to be FRESH, on trend and on target, right?

Herein lies the problem.

Our heads are not held high.

Our heads are bent, as if in prayer to the gods of whatever device we’re on; phone, tablet, laptop, and our chinny chin chin is tucked into our neck.

This particular action, of constantly looking down, performed over hundreds of hours and weeks and months — has a side effect called “tech neck” or “tweet pleat”.

Now I agree that those terms are not very flattering, but then again, neither is the turkey gobble that’s forming in our my neck area.

Maybe some of you are young enough to have elastic and resilient skin in that area, BUT I DON’T.

Imagine my horror when I realized that I was doing the very thing that is causing MORE WRINKLES AND MORE LOOSELY HANGING SKIN.

No really, I want you to IMAGINE that for just a moment.

Put yourself in my shoes (not the Loubs, how about the ones I just got from Marshalls.)

I use Retin-A, I’m an unabashed admirer of Botox- hell, I’d even get some fat sucked out if I could afford it, but here I am, tweeting away with my chin tucked into my neck, fighting the very solutions I employ to RID myself of those nasty reminders of AGE.

I mean, you can’t wear turtlenecks and a scarf every single day, right?

There IS a solution and I’m not talking about giving up tweeting or texting.

It’s good old collagen!

There’s something called Ultherapy. {info from the Utherapy website}

This ultrasound procedure is the only non-surgical, non-invasive treatment that uses ultrasound and the body’s own natural healing process to lift and tighten loose skin on the eyebrow, neck, and under the chin.

Apparently, this is the only FDA-cleared procedure to lift skin on these hard-to-treat areas, Ultherapy uses the safe, time-tested energy of ultrasound to stimulate the deep structural support layers of the skin—including those typically addressed in a surgical facelift—without disturbing the surface of the skin.

The effect of focused ultrasound energy on the growth of new collagen over time. 

There’s no downtime, no foreign substances, no radical change; just a healthy revving-up on the inside for a natural, noticeable effect on the outside.

The downside? The cost. It’s about $1500-$3000, depending upon the area chosen for treatment. Too bad, I’d love to try it!

Hmmm. Instead of that, how about trying Face Yoga? Fans say it can smooth wrinkles, firm jawlines, and create a healthy glow. I first saw it on one of the Housewives shows, I think it was the New York version.

 

What steps will YOU take to avoid tech neck?

 

Wordless Wednesday: A Quiet Summer Evening

Shhh…we’re listening to the sound of silence.

supermoondeck

Except for the crackle and hiss of the fire.firepitsupermoonThe incredible super moon.

supermoon1Add a certain tugboat man, a glass or two of wine, and the evening was complete.

______________________________________________

Linking up with other Wordless Wednesday bloggers:
Wordless Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday @ The Jenny Evolution

1. posh– linky 35. Pheno Menon 69. Peek at My Week! (LINKY)
2. imaddy 36. Worth Casing Wed (linky) 70. Delightful Two- Bite Treats
3. bethere2day [Linkytasticated] 37. Park -Li NKY 71. Summer Cocktail Cake
4. CREATE WITH JOY w LINKY 38. Kay @ Infinite Curio 72. Pancua’s Beautiful World
5. Wordless Wednesday Wish 39. Rusty Ring: Old growth stump 73. Twisted Cinderella
6. MAMA TO 5 BLESSINGS W/ LINKY 40. Ileana 74. Enjoying This Life w/LINKY
7. Laugh Quotes 41. Gattina 75. The student is being sexy and comfortable … in the library?
8. Barefoot Mahala LINKY 42. Heather L ~ Wildflowers 76. Tiered maxi skirt @ The Flower Duet
9. Wordless Wednesday Wish w/linky 43. Gramma2Many 77. VDP On The Road 2
10. Such a Mama! Linky! 44. Ebridge Mill on Wordless Wednesday 78. Liberty Hill House – Alone at Fenway
11. SUMMER READING: AMELIA RULES (All Ages) 45. Stacy Uncorked {LINKY} 79.  from St. Nicholas´ fortress
12. EMMA AND BUSTER 46. Photo By Manka 80. Naomi @ Studio Treats
13. Frugalty Is Free: The Red Bridge In The City – LINKY HERE 47. Birgitta B 81. Sally
14. New Jersey Memories- Yurts at Allaire State Park 48. VDP On The Road 82. Nick, Melbourne
15. Shiju Sugunan 49. Jo, East Africa 83. Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree
16. Blooming (Linky) 50. Bill 84. Kisses moon traveling in the wind
17. Indrani 51. Jutta.K Deutschland 85. matilda magtree
18. Disney Toys, w/Linky! 52. Feed Me Dearly {LINKY} 86. Curious as a Cathy ~ linky
19. Colleen@ LOOSELEAFNOTES right one 53. Clairejustineoxox linky 87. Driller’s Place
20. Jackie 54. Christian 88. another jennifer – fort edgecomb
21. Sue@ SAHM w/ LINKY 55. Mittened Hands 89. Nix Mix Pix
22. Dagmar’s Home: So Busy with LINKY 56. KEITHS RAMBLINGS / EXTREME! / LINKY 90. Melanie @ M& M
23. Simple Sojourns – Swimming Disney Style LINKY 57. sabrina’s sea of colors 91. Heather @ Mrs. Southern Bride
24. { Sakura Haruka} Family Obento *LINKY* 58. Momfever 92. My Desktop
25. Angie in Yanchep 59. Nature Footstep Photo 93. Random Mommy {LINKY}
26. Coffee Jitters *linky* 60. Cathy (rambling in the garden) 94. M Denise Costello
27. Insta w/linky @ Images ByCW 61. Your heart already lives in my brain 95. The Bewitchin’ Kitchen W LINKY
28. aquariann’s Coneflowers (w/Linky) 62. Nishita’s Rants and Raves – Photographing the Piglet 96. Suzi Qoregon @ Whimpulsive
29. Cold desert of Nuts valley 63. Padaek 97. Watching The Sunset At The Beach
30. Cold desert of Nubra valley 64. Daryl NYC 98. Underneath The Shell
31. RMB – Garden Bounty w/linky 65. Daryl My Eyes 99. Elizabeth A
32. Beth @ Plant Postings 66. Sleeping Kitty 100. You’re next!
33. Carrie with Children *LINKY* 67. Cindi – an American in Norway
34. Beth F @ Beth Fish Reads 68. Lynn @ Stuff & Nonsense

twenty years of conversation: the condensed version

This isn’t an especially sparkly or edible post, no mention of retail therapy —  I thought of this as we were driving home from the gym and running errands.

We’ve had pretty much the same exact conversation fourteen billion times over the last twenty-plus years and now we’re gearing up for a long drive up the coast to San Jose for BlogHer 2014, which means we’ll be spending several hours in the car…here is a condensed version of what a lot of our “car” time sounds like.

(Don’t you think it’d be funny to record it and not have to say a thing for the first twenty miles?)

Tugboat man: “Buckle up.”

Me: “Did you bring water?”

Tugboat man: “No, I thought you were going to get it.”

Me: Did you turn the alarm on?

Tugboat man: “No, I thought you were going to do it.”

Me: “I’m cold. Turn the AC up, OK?”

Me: “But don’t open the window. It’s blowing my hair.”

Tugboat man: “Did you see that guy race through the stop sign?”

Me: “It’s only a suggestion, remember?”

Me: “Look at the car next to us. She’s texting. The light’s green and she doesn’t have a clue.”

Me: (In Trader Joe’s) “Don’t talk to me while I’m thinking. ‘Cos you distract me, and I might forget something that I forgot to put on the list that I forgot and left in the car.”

Me: Can’t you walk faster? You are SO slow!”

Me: “What do you want for dinner?”

Tugboat man: “I don’t know, it’s only 9:00 a.m. How about if you ask me after lunch?”

Me: “You just missed the BEST parking spot.”

Tugboat man: Laughing…”Do you have any idea how annoying you can be?

Me: “It’s not as if this is breaking news. I’m the exact same person I’ve always been.”

Tugboat man: “Yes, and you’ve always been annoying.”

Me: “But you love it, don’t lie.”

Tugboat man: “Well, you got me there. But for the love of all that is holy, can you dial it down just a notch or two? Give a guy a break once in while, OK?”

Me: “Well, since you’ve asked so nicely…all right.”

I AM annoying. It’s one of the words that describes me perfectly.

But don’t worry, I’m not ALWAYS annoying, and I am a good traveling companion!

31503209

 

Stuffed Portobello ‘Shrooms Recipe

Portobellos — or portabellos or portobellas —  I’ve seen it spelled all three ways — are fat-free and very low in calories.

They’re also a rich source of selenium, copper and niacin. I learned that portobello mushrooms are the mature form of baby crimini mushrooms. They grow up to six inches in diameter with a dense, meaty texture.

It’s that “meaty” texture that vegetarians and vegans love. We’re definitely NOT trying to recreate meat in any fashion– at least my tugboat man and I aren’t — but quinoa and brown rice and lentils leave little in the way of a CHEWING experience — and this ‘shroom is beyond versatile on the grill or stuffed and baked.

This is how I prepared it last night for me and my tugboat man.

For two people:
Two portobello mushrooms
1/2 onion
One summer squash or zucchini
1/2 jalapeño
Chard and beet greens (from our garden)
One small tomato
Two slices whole wheat bread or 1/4 cup bread crumbs

portobello1 Prepare the mushrooms by carefully washing off all dirt — don’t soak any mushroom in water or they’ll tend to become spongy and/or mushy. Ick. Wipe dry. Remove the stem and set aside. Scrape out the gills to make more room for the filling. Place bottom side down (stem side up) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a teaspoon of olive oil over the mushrooms. Bake at 350 degrees for about twelve minutes. Immediately remove and drain off any water. Notice the shrinkage!

While the mushrooms are in the oven, chop the onion, jalapeño, tomato, greens, mushroom stems, and shred the squash.

portobello2

Using a teaspoon of olive oil to coat the pan, sauté all the vegetables except for the greens until soft. Add a pinch (or more) of dried red pepper flakes, cracked pepper, fresh basil, and oregano. Add the greens and a few tablespoons water or wine or low sodium vegetable stock. Put a top on the pan and steam until the greens are tender.

Take off the heat. If you’re using bread crumbs, add them now and stir. If you’re like me and ran out of bread crumbs, take the bread and shred it in a bowl, add about half cup of warm water. Allow the bread to soak up the water and then squeeze out all the water and add to the cooked vegetables. Mix well.

Place the mushroom cups on a baking sheet with a clean sheet of parchment paper. Fill each of the portobellos with equal amounts of filling and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese (or vegan cheese), if desired.

Preheat oven to 350 degreportobello3es and bake for approximately fifteen minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

 

 

 

Add a fresh salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese with a lemony vinaigrette to complement the “meaty” stuffed portobello mushrooms for a healthy and satisfying dinner.

portobello4

 Options: Use any leftover cooked vegetables, too. plus spinach, green peppers, shredded carrots, corn, brown rice, quinoa.

#portobello #recipe #vegetarian

Supermoon: A Study in Black and White

Looking toward the eastern sky.

Southern California at approximately 9:00 p.m. Saturday, July 12. 

I wish I was a better photog ‘cos the supermoon was white bright and amazing.

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How To Freshen Old Grout Between Tiles in 3 Easy Steps

If you didn’t already know, it should really come as no surprise to anyone that I am slightly OCD.

Yup, I’m the one who needs all the pictures perfectly straight, the furniture dusted, and my floors ARE clean enough to eat off of…for reals.

Our house is kinda old, built in the late sixties or very early seventies, and we haven’t done a major overhaul on the kitchen, so I still have the old porcelain tile with white grout, which poses difficulties keeping spotless and sanitary even for someone like me whose middle name is “Bleach”.

Every so often, I step out of my Louboutins, throw down my Chanel, and get my hands dirty for a purpose — to freshen and reseal the grout.

Until we remodel and tear out the countertops, this is an excellent method of keeping everything looking clean and fresh.

And it’s SO easy!

This is what I use; it’s bright white ‘cos that’s my grout color. I purchased it at Home Depot — it’s pre-mixed and EASY to use.
grouttutorial1STEP ONE:

I use my finger because I’ve tried a lot of other tools and nothing works better. I don’t even wear gloves, but you really should.

Just scoop up a mess of grout and push it into the space between the tiles, dragging your finger down along each square ’til it’s filled and even.

Make sure you really wash that stuff off your hands; it’s very drying and probably toxic!
grouttutorial3 STEP TWO:

Take a rag or a sponge (or both) and carefully wipe away the excess grout. Let it dry overnight and then wipe off the tiles again.

grouttutorial4 grouttutorialsealer

 

 

STEP THREE:
See the little brush? Turn the grout sealer upside down and squeeze just until enough sealer coats the brush; continue to squeeze, and paint all the grout with the sealer, let dry for about an hour and add a second coat.

When it’s dry, wipe the tile with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess grout.

 

 

 

 

Voilà!

Beautiful grout again…sparkly clean and shiny, easy as 1-2-3!
grouttutorial2