Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mad About Mad Men

Well, for years, I've heard nothing but great things about the T.V. show Mad Men. Unfortunately, I missed the series premier back in 2007 and I absolutely hate starting a show mid-way through its life. 

So, for the past four years, I have waited patiently for the critically acclaimed, award-winning hit show about Madison Avenue ad execs from the 1960s to make it to Netflix.

As you can guess, it is finally here.  I am still on the first season -- its fifth will premier in March 2012 -- but I am hooked.

The show is about Don Draper, played by the hunky Jon Hamm, the creative director at Sterling Cooper advertising agency, and his escapades in and out of the office.

Since I am sooooo behind, I am assuming that I am preaching to the choir; however, I just want to say a few things:

First, my kitchen is a mirror image of Don and Betty Drapers kitchen -- fashionable and stylish for 1960 but...; Second, men have NOT changed since that era -- women just had to fight hard for our equality; third, I LOVE all the historical authenticity that is so sick and wrong (i.e. smoking AND drinking copious amounts while pregnant, kids with plastic bags over their heads and saccharine is better for you than sugar -- not to mention the constant haze of cigarette smoke that makes my lungs hurt); And lastly I am so glad that bras that make your breasts look like pointy cones are gone for good.

I only have 57 more episodes to watch before March Madmeness starts again.  Makes me want to light up a ciggy and drink a high ball of Scotch. Oh, goody!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nothing But Time to Design Our Mid-Century Modern Dream House

Well, we have been official homeowners for the past four months.  One of the most surprising things about our home, which was built in 1959, is that – according to city documents – nothing has been done to our home since 1959.

One of the reasons that Jason and I totally fell for our house (when it was a rental) was the authentic retro quality.  Us Maussers have always been fans of anything vintage. 

Our kitchen has most of the original appliances and I have to admit, they work better than the cut-rate, newer ones we had in our last rental.  Also, the absolute 1950s pink and yellow tiles in the bathrooms were endearing to us as well.
Mostly, it was the ocean views, four bedrooms and my walk-in closet that really made this dinosaur a gem to us. So, when we were able to buy this home from the estate of the first and only owner when she passed away earlier this summer, we were thrilled.
Now, as first-time home buyers, we are acclimating to a mortgage payment as well as property taxes and all those other miscellaneous charges that come with being a home owner.

When we were just renting, both Jason and I could come up with a multitude of home improvement projects that we wanted to do IF this were our house – to make it our own. Well, you know what they say; it doesn’t cost anything to dream. But now that we are owners, our notions aren’t free.
Many years ago, Jason and I started a book called “Our Dream House.”  Whenever we found ideas, furniture, fixtures that we liked for the house that we knew we would own one day, we put them in our book.  Today, it is jam packed with our ideas from landscaping to chandeliers to façade.

But we have been very hesitant to start implementing too many of these changes.  And now that our home is ours, I look around and am overwhelmed by all of the things that need to be done around the house and it is apparent that nothing has been done since 1959.

The first thing that we felt had to be done pronto was pull out all the gross carpeting and refinish the original hardwood floors.  Since we had to move every single piece of furniture and pack away everything due to the dust, this was a much bigger endeavor than we had anticipated. Yet, it was well worth the hassle and made a huge difference right away.

But then, with the floors gleaming so beautiful, it was apparent that our walls needed to be painted.
We had the painter booked but then, as fate would have it, my car broke down and we had to pay more than $1,000 to get it running again.

Buh-bye paint job.
Jason – being the smart man that he is – suggested that we put any other big projects on the backburner.  He proposed that we accumulate a slush fund for any future renovations so we have a buffer and that is what we are doing right now.

But, even if we had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted right now, I honestly don’t even really know where I would want to start.  I personally feel so overwhelmed with the prospect of actually redesigning our home.
I think what seems the most overwhelming to me is to keep the authentic feel of the late 1950s and early 1960s but being able to incorporate some modern design aesthetics.

My mom – who is a huge fan of Mid-Century Modern – literally bought us every book that was out there about MCM.  These books are amazing and, in addition to “Our Dream House” resources, we have been provided with a plethora of ideas; But, to me, almost too many.
When I start actually thinking about every little thing that we need to do, I start having a panic attack.  I am not a very patient person and I always want everything to be done as soon as possible. My head truly starts to spin when I think of everything that we need to do to make our home perfect.
Just last week, I picked up a new spiral notebook and listed each page as a room in our house.  I went through and just brain-stormed everything I would do in each room if I had the clearance to go full speed ahead.

When it was all said and done, I didn’t have too many things listed on each page. 

The big money projects: new kitchen, new deck and revitalized façade our going to take place a bit down the road.

But mostly, I realized that with just a few aesthetic changes, we can make the upstairs/living area complete, and that would make all the difference in the world.
So now, I’m just looking at our house in a smaller compartmentalized view:  I know that we won’t be using a designer, so my little notebook helps me look at the smaller picture and brainstorm ideas without getting completely overwhelmed.

I have come to realize that, now we own our house, so we’ve got nothing but time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Open-handed Ode of Thanks!

There are so many days in which I take everything in my life for granted.  I am absolutely guilty of whining for naught and crying over spilt milk. I mean, I am a chick you know.
However, I truly realize that I am blessed in every sense.  It is a pity that it takes a (gasp) holiday to make me pause and smell the roses, but such is life.

Today, I want to take a moment to reflect and give my thanks. 
I am – of course – thankful for my boy Shane and hubby Jason.  The two of them provide me with my core happiness.  When Jason and I had been dating for a while, I just knew that he was the “one.”  I would wake up in the middle of the night and knowing that he was sleeping by my side and my partner in life, I would be overcome by this warm enveloping blanket of happiness and contentment.  It was a feeling that our love was bigger than anything I had ever known until Shane was born.

I look at my little guy and see all the sunshine of positivity and optimism that exudes from his little body.  He and I are absolutely connected too.  Call it mother’s intuition, but I am always in tune with him.
I am thankful for my mother and father because without them I would not be me; all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, sister-in-laws, niece, nephew and my half-sister.  To me, family is the backbone of my foundation

I could not get through my life without all of my best gal pals who are always there for me.

Of course there are so many friends and acquaintances in my life with whom I am beholden…what can I say except that I am rich with them.
I am thankful for my job and the team that I work with at Maxum.

But, most importantly, I am happy for my health.  I try to never take for granted my ability to jump up out of bed each morning and run to my heart’s content; Or the ability to dance and move my body each and every day.

I am thankful for a good glass of wine and a beautiful sunset.  I always appreciate a warm summer’s day, the sound of the ocean and the feel of sand between my toes.  I love that I am able to enjoy the feel of a cold night when the air is crisp and the stars are bright (but only if I have my warmest jacket on).

Mostly, I am just thankful for this wonderful gift of life that I have been given and I plan to enjoy today – and my existence – to the fullest.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How I Lost My Golf Virginity

The Women's Foursome at Pelican Hill

A few weeks ago, my boss popped into my office and asked if I had ever gotten into golf.

REWIND:  Back in June, some girlfriends had asked me to join them for nine holes of golf for a birthday celebration.  I was super excited to take up golf despite my husband’s nay-saying.  But, after taking a few lessons, I threw my back out and that was the end of that until the boss man approached me to play on one of Southern California’s premier golf courses.

A female client from the energy industry was trying to put together a foursome of women for a tournament at Pelican Hill Golf Course in Newport and was desperately seeking a fourth.  Without any hint of ego, my reply was that I have never played golf and I suck.

 Boss man said, “You’ll do just fine.”

 However, my golf experience did not particularly start out that way.

Two days before my first “real” golf tournament in which I was to be part of a foursome of complete strangers, I begged my husband to give me some pointers.

With only two hours to spare before a football game, we decided to forgo any of the decent 9-hole courses in our Southern California neighborhood for the sake of expense and time. 

It was a blustery morning with intermittent rain showers, so the parking lot at the Manhattan Beach Marriott was completely deserted.

Jason popped into the pro-shop and for $30 my seven-year-old son and I had carte blanche at the junior’s rate on the links.  Jason came out with a Foster’s (oil can) beer in hand.  Hmm, what was he anticipating?

First, my son has been a regular on the golf course since he was three-years-old.  Needless to say, he actually won the game that day but we weren’t really there to keep score.  It was all about me actually (attempting) to hit the ball and on a few occasions making contact.

After the first three holes, I did start to get the hang of it but, ultimately, there were more bad swings than good.  We only got through about 7 holes before we had to leave for Shane’s football game.

On Sunday evening, I started to get very nervous about the golf tournament the following morning.  I slept very poorly and had stress dreams all night long.  I awoke early so I could head into work for a few hours before heading out to the links.

While driving to Pelican Hill, I started to break out into a cold sweat and was truly more nervous than I could remember being in quite some time.

I actually arrived a bit early and took my time settling into the locker room and meandering around the breakfast/starting area.

The organizer of my foursome – a client of ours – showed up and wrangled all of us together.  She was having a very busy morning working off her Blackberry, so asked me to drive the golf cart.  I begrudgingly agreed with heavy dread.

We made it to our first hole in one piece and I retrieved my hybrid from my rented clubs.  I kept repeating my mantra: I’m going to do great; I’m going to do great.

So, I got up there and, after a few practice swings and deep breaths, I gave it all I had while trying to keep all Jason’s advice in the forefront of my mind.  I was mortified when the ball rolled only about two inches.

Two things happened at that moment:  One – the giant hole that I was willing to appear and swallow me up did not; two – I found out some things that were a total deal changer for me that day – we were not keeping score and we were playing best ball. (Best ball is when you play the ball closest to the hole.)

It truly was if a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders and, when the drink cart came by and everyone agreed to imbibe, I nearly wept with gratitude.

I can honestly say that after a Bloody Mary and an Amstel Light, miraculously, I did start to play a bit better.

By the time we reached the 11th hole, which wasn’t the hardest, but certainly was challenging as desert landscaping, which was made to look oh, so real, put a great distance between the tee and the green. Right then and there, I had that one shot that will certainly bring me back to golf again.

The God’s were smiling on me when I hit that ball and it went soaring over the sand dunes and cat tails, only to land on the green.  My comrades cheered unceremoniously for me and I was obviously the best ball on that hole (and a few others I may add).

By the time we hit the 13th hole, we finally started catching up with some of the other teams who were all men.

Our female foursome was the first in more than 10 years for this event and the photographer pretty much followed us around all day.  We were getting a lot of positive attention but, once we started to bottleneck, it sort of started to unravel.

Since we were starting off on the ladies tees, the guys’ teams weren’t aware that it was our turn and we were completely dissed three times over.  Finally, our photographer drove his cart up to where the men were teeing off to let them know it was our turn.  (He was also looking for another great photo op so it was actually a self-serving gesture.)

We prepared to tee off and found another team not too far ahead of us on the fairway.  One of the gals said we should wait as we don’t want to injure anyone.  Innocently and without any malice at all, I said, “You really think one of us could actually hit the ball that far.”

My comrades started to laugh hysterically and claimed me the most honest women they had ever met.

By this time, it was 3pm and a very cold wind was coming off the ocean.  The next hole was backed up three or four teams deep.  We decided to call it a game and hit the club house for a late lunch.

At the end of the day, I was an expert golf cart driver and only almost toppled the cart once while going up a big hill; but my partner shouted for me to go up the hill at an angle and we escaped any injury.

When we turned in our carts and clubs, I felt absolutely light as a feather. Do I think I am any good at golf?  Absolutely not! Did I have fun and will I do it again? Absolutely!

I felt relieved that I had finally gotten that first daunting 18-holes under my belt and lost my golf virginity.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crushing Hard: Sephora's Blockbuster Make-up Palette

Dear Santa (hint, hint Jason),
All I want for Christmas is Sephora's Make-up Studio Blockbuster palette. 

This palette contains:
- 96 eye shadow shades
- 84 shiny lip glosses
- 6 cream eyeliners
- 2 eyeliner pencils
- 3 blushes
- 1 bronzer
- 1 mascara
- 4 applicators

According to Sephora's website, the palette -- designed in gay Paris -- by Sephora's beauty team is an array of colors to inspire the make-up artist in each of us.  From subdued natural tones to trendy hues, you will have all the colors you need to create a face that is tres chic.

With this collection of make-up which retails for only $49.50, I will be sitting pretty while ringing in the New Year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Versace for H&M Causing International Fracases

Donatella & Nicki Minaj at the Versace for H&M launch party.

I don’t think this will be another Missoni moment for me but, for some, the highly anticipated launch of Versace for H&M tomorrow Saturday Nov. 19 is going to rock some worlds.

Starting at 8 a.m., shoppers will be able to get their hands on the mens- and womens-wear line – created by the Italian designer at a fraction of the typical Versace cost – at selected H&M stores through the U.S.

Donatella Versace, designer and VP of the Versace Group, said the 43-piece collection took about nine months to come to conception – just like a baby – 43 to be exact.

With a Versace signature that is literally to the point, the H&M collection shows chain-mail mini-dresses, black leather sheaths embossed with gold studs, fluorescent purses with a lot of hardware; and highlights from recent Versace collections such as fitted eyelet dresses with asymmetric necklines and military-influenced long strapless numbers. 

The fashion house’s trademark Greek key insignia is everywhere.
Jessica Alba
The collection – which includes a range of bright statement pieces: neon animal prints, palm tree-covered pants and imitation leather accents – screams early 90s.

Many of the pieces combined a little bit of everything, like an emerald green sequin dress with alligators on the front and a palm tree panorama on the back, dresses adorned with hearts and, overall, just psychedelic patterns and colors everywhere.

The men’s wear line includes hot pink suits and zebra stripes.

Earlier in the week, Donatella hosted a star-studded fashion show, shopping extravaganza and top-notch party in New York City.

With Prince and Nicki Minaj as the entertainment, Hollywood's hottest and fashions who's who showed up to help Donatella celebrate the launch of the new Versace line.

But the collection was available in Europe and Asia starting on Thursday Nov. 17 and reports of fracases breaking out in Shanghai can only indicate the absolute fabulousness of this line.

The vision of polite Chinese women throwing blows for a chain mail dress is priceless and completely understandable.

In response to the mayhem, H&M has announced that strict guidelines for customers looking to buy the Versace collection are now being implemented in the U.K. and U.S. Shoppers will have to line-up and acquire wristbands; they will also have only 15 minutes to browse and may only purchase two of each item.

These severe shopping measures are in place to encourage peaceful shopping but, most importantly, prevent items from showing up on eBay as with other H&M alliances.

H&M has previously collaborated with fashion houses including Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garҫons, Jimmy Choo, Sonia Rykeil and most recently Lanvin.
Blake Lively and Helena Christensen

The high fashion/low cost concept is brilliant in that it brings designer duds to the masses. It levels the playing fields and as we have seen with past partnerships and almost every launch has been wildly successful.

I don’t think the Versace for H&M line will be an exception.

According to Donatella, the collection resembles the design house’s aesthetic from two decades ago and is tribute to Donatella’s brother – Gianni Versace – who was murdered in 1997.

As far as I’m concerned, Gianni was the real mastermind behind the Versace brand; but kudos to Donatella for carrying on the legacy.

Fare attenzione Missoni!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Crushing Hard: cityslips

For me, I love wearing fabulous shoes because there is nothing more feminine than a woman in stylish heels; however, after a long day at the office, just the thought of going the extra step in those sky high heels is like torture.

So, when my friend from work, Jet, told me about cityslips, I was intrigued.  I had heard about them before but wasn't really sure where to find them and thought that my boring old Target flats would continue to do the trick.
cityslips are foldable ballet flats which come in a little carry case.  And, even though the concept of carrying an alternative shoes to swap heels is not new -- especially from my NYC days -- but back then it was those horrible white Reeboks with long dresses.  Ewwwww! 

But -- fast forward -- while at Marshall's yesterday, I found a pair of cityslips in size 9 just waiting for me to take them home.  The faux patent leather flats are pretty simple but look good quality and the carrying case is just adorable and very petite so it will fit right into my purse.  Not to mention, they were mine for $7.99 plus tax.  I just couldn't resist.

Now, if I have to run to the Post Office on my lunch break or even down to the Cafe for lunch, I won't have to strategize and wonder how it will position me for the rest of the day.  I have a feeling that these little slip ons will bring me style and comfort all at the same time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Running For Camaraderie, Health and Myself

Rachel and Tracy at the finish line

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder
Almost two weeks ago, my good friend Rachel and I ran the Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  This was our third half marathon – not to mention the many 10K and 5K races – which we have shouldered together. 
For the past five years, we have been running companions – so throughout the year – we lace up our running shoes and pound the pavement together a few mornings a week.
However, over the past month, we had to amp our training schedule into high gear in order to get some major miles under our belt.  So, once the race was done, it was so nice not to feel pressured by our early morning runs.
The half marathon ideal is great because we have a shared goal and it sure as hell is a lot easier to get out of bed in the morning when you know someone is doing it with you.  For me, I love to run and it is my Prozac.  I gear up for these races because I love the results and I get them by doing something I love.
But for many years, I was a solo runner.  I didn’t take to sharing “my running time” and planned many of Christmas cards, speeches, packing lists all while rocking out with my iPod.  To me, running solo is almost like meditating.
Yet, one week off, and I found myself missing my running buddy.  It made me realize that, for me, running is no longer just about me; I have grown accustomed to the camaraderie that Rachel and I have formed.
Over the years, I have run with other friends as well – Barbara, Gabby, Tracie, Eliza – and those have also been fulfilling to me.  Don’t get me wrong, here and there, I get a solo run in and, since I don’t do them very often, it feels good to get out and there and just go Zen with my iPod.  But ultimately, friends don’t let friends run alone.
Last year – Rachel, Barbara and I ran the Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the first time.  I thought that it was a great event.  The start line was cordoned off into corrals and the amount of pushing and limited space was slim to none.  The course started in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park and passed through trendy neighborhoods like Silver Lake and Atwater Village with the finish line at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.  It was really cool to see other L.A. neighborhoods that I don’t usually frequent.

The infamous Bret Michaels
This year, the course was pretty simple: starting in downtown LA and running down to University of Southern California and around the L.A. coliseum; returning back through downtown passing through the warehouse district and Japan town; and ending back at L.A. Live again.

A pseudo-highlight of this year’s race was that Bret Michael’s – reality TV star and formerly of the glam hair band Poison – performed a post-race concert.  We finished the race around 9:30 a.m. so, by the time we got some coffee and had walked around a bit, it was time for the concert.  We ended up a few rows back and had a close-up look at his male cleavage if you know what I mean.  I think we were a bit giddy with exhaustion so,after two songs and many chuckles, Rach and I were on our way.

However, right before we left, they stopped the concert and asked Brett Michael’s to make an urgent announcement.   They called a man’s name and asked him to report to the side of the stage.  The request seemed serious and dire and, only later did we learn tragic.
The next morning, I heard on the news that a 37-year-old runner collapsed close to the finish line and had been pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.  Rachel was the one who made the association that the concert announcement could have been in regards to the man.
Morbid curiosity I suppose, but I had to look it up.  The Orange County Register reported that Charles Riske, of Costa Mesa, died of an apparent heart attacked while running the half marathon.  He was only 37 years old and a successful business man.  The absolute saddest part of it all was that he and his wife were expecting their first baby in February.  I felt so affected by this tragedy.
I don’t know if he was an avid runner or not.  It didn’t state that information in any of the articles; however, it made me think about going the distance.
I have been running seriously since I was in high school.  As of today, I have completed one full-marathon, six half-marathons, and many other races of various distances.  I have never considered running dangerous to my health.
Rachel and I both don’t even consider ourselves serious “runners” because we don’t run too fast or too far; but reading about this guy who passed away while running in the same race as us, it made me think that we aren’t giving ourselves enough credit.
A half marathon – is only 13.1 miles – and not 26.2 like a full marathon.  But it truly takes dedication and perseverance to just get out there and go that far.  Not to mention the importance of a training regime to prepare not just your legs and mind for the long run, but your heart as well.
Even though we don’t feel as though we are doing anything significant since we have done it for so long, this situation made me look at our running in a new light.
I think all runners out there should give themselves a pat on the back for just getting off the couch and getting out there.
The phenomenon isn’t that we actually finished the race; it is that we had the audacity to start.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Do You Think of the New Dynamic Views?

I'm sure you may have noticed some changes to my blog -- All Things Fashionating -- over the past few weeks. 
I have been working to revamp its look. Most recently, I have been playing around with Blogger's new Dynamic Views.  I truly love the way it makes my blog look much more professional; however, in its primal stages, it is not 100% user-friendly yet.  But they are working on it.

Please check it out, but you will have to visit my blog directly at

Take a few minutes to check out ATF while in these different views and let me know what you think!  I want to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Project Runway Season Nine Concludes with Tears of Joy

Final Four (L to R): Viktor, Anya, Joshua & Kimberly

Lately, I have been a day late and a dollar short in every aspect.  I have been floundering to keep myself afloat in the personal and professional abyss of my life with any extra-curricular hobbies – such as television watching –fallen by the wayside.
I am aghast to report that I didn’t watch the season finale of Project Runway Season 9 until just last night – almost an entire week after the reality show concluded.

As I have posted before, I am a huge Heidi Klum fan. He-ey! But, out of all the reality shows that I keep up with and -- despite Klum’s involvement -- I find that Project Runway really inspires me.  [See my previous post about Project Runway!/2011/07/project-runway-brings-fierceness-back.html ]

The competition started with the largest number of contestants ever with 20 designers but, after eight plus weeks, the talent was been whittled down to the top four individuals.

I am constantly amazed at how hard these designers work throughout each episode and I hold them in very high esteem.

So last night was part two of the finale:  The remaining four designers Anya Ayoung-Chee, Joshua McKinley, Kimberly Goldson, and Viktor Luna each made a 10 piece collection to show the judges that will eventually be shown at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. 

After some harsh criticism in part one, Klum and fellow judges – Michael Kors and Nina Garcia – gave each contestant $500 to spend at Mood fabric to revitalize their collections before the runway show at MBFW.

In the workroom, Anya returns to her Caribbean roots and makes three entirely new looks; Kimberly revamps a bubble skirt that was a “hot mess” in part one of the finale; Josh creates a few new looks out of several neon fabrics which seemed a bit over-the-top (to me); and Viktor finds a sheer cheetah print and makes a few transparent gowns.

The show wouldn’t be complete without the workroom guidance of Tim Gunn, the show's fashion consultant who also offers fatherly advice.

[WARNING: Don't read on if you don't want to know who wins!]

The big day arrives this past September and the designers find themselves confronting the runway at Lincoln Center early in the morning on the day of the show.  Kimberly starts the show off and her collection of sophisticated urban-girl wear with its contemporary fabric was very wearable; however, the audience’s reaction was entirely lackluster and it translated when the judges voted her out first.

Mexican-born Viktor created a line that representing a beachy girl who meets NYC.  Ultimately, Viktor sabotaged himself by creating too many sheer looks for the collection.  The judges were impressed with this impeccable tailoring but he was the second one to be voted out.  Personally, I thought he was going to be the big winner.

Joshua’s collection reminded me of over-the-top gay men’s clothing.  However, the judges voted him “most improved” designer and his looks translated well on his models.  I believe this is most likely because they had bodies of 12-year-old boys.

Lastly, Anya  -- who pulled it out of her ass for the entire show -- once again prevailed.  The young woman from the Caribbean island of Trinidad continued to wow judges and viewers all season with her use of prints and styling techniques.  Her looks were continually cohesive – except for one dreadful look -- surprisingly since she had learned to sew only a few months before the show.  This certainly hurt her on a few of the challenges.

However, ultimately, the judges voted Anya the winner of Project Runway 2011.  It was a much deserved accolade and made me super happy.

Anya took home the $100,000 prize to start her own line.

According to People Magazine, she is setting up a new Internet retail site in time for the holidays and helping Caribbean women to set up micro-finance loans.

I honestly yelled with joy when Anya won because I truly felt that she was the contestant who had the most promise and vision -- despite her lack of skill.  It makes me happy to know that the judges also gleamed that from this promising new designer.

The saddest part of it all is that the show is now over until next season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bloomingdale's Friends and Family Discount

It is that time of the year again, Bloomingdale's is offering its Friends and Family Holiday Discount of 20% off until Sunday Nov. 13.

I'm hoping I can finally use my gift cards from my birthday -- thank you Nat and Jen!

If you are shopping online, use the promo code HAPPY when checking out; if you are shopping in the store, please click the link to print out the bar code.

And, if that isn't enough, they are offering free shipping on this promo as well...just use the secondary promo code FREESHIP11.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 4, 2011

In Honor of Addison Loyal Williams -- River Rise by India.Arie

There was always A power I could feel
It was guidance to tell me the way to go

But nowadays I feel like can't hear that voice
I've been flying blind I need you to come and be my eyes. (be my eyes)

River Rise Carry me back home (I cannot remember the way)
River rise Carry me back home (I surrender today)

I was always A charmed flower child
I would sit for hours And listen to the sky

But nowadays I feel like I don't have that choice
I've been looking down in desperation

I need you to be my inspiration yeah (My inspiration) 

River rise Carry me back home (I cannot remember the way)
River rise Carry me back home (I surrender today)

I bow down And I humble myself
I can't do this Lord I need your help

All the material things They feel like chains
If you're not here beside me

You're the reason I see (Help me to remember the way)
I surrender Help me to remember
Only you can show me (Only you can show me the way)

I surrender (I surrender today)
You are the only way Lord, I need you. 

~River Rise by India.Arie

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Family Loyalty Runs Deep

Loyal is not just a word to me.  It also represents the unswerving allegiance of my grandfather – Addison Loyal Williams – aka Pop Pop.

His mother, my great-grandmother Queenie, could not have known on the day of his birth that her small son would grow into a man who wore that middle name well and proud until the day he died.

My grandfather carried a faithful allegiance to God, his family and friends until the moment of his passing on a Sunday morning last March while bowed down on his knees reading the bible and praying.

Today would have been his 86th birthday, so I’ve been thinking about him a lot.

Growing up, I spent much time at my grandparents’ house.  Being an early riser – as I still am today – I would be up at the crack of dawn.  My grandfather, a devout Christian, woke early every single morning to pray and meditate. 

On those mornings, I would wrap myself into his arms and he would walk the dark halls of their big old house singing and praising the gospels.  I lay there safe and drowsy, with my head pressed to his chest, while sucking my thumb. He would hold me for what seemed like hours in my child-like memories until my grandmother would come down and the house would begin to wake up.

Chillin' with Pops
Being the father of eight children, grandfather to 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, my Pop Pop had a lot of patience.

After church on Sundays, I remember all of us grandchildren climbing all over him while he tried to nap watching football.  When he’d get home from his job as a contractor, I would wipe the saw dust out of his thinning hair and make little Mohawks and spikes.  He would never grumble or complain; just pretty much ignored all of us little monkeys.

My Pop Pop almost always had a smile on his face and loved to tell corny jokes that we almost never got.

One of my most favorite things about Pop Pop was his big booming singing voice.  Out of nowhere, he would break into song.  He had one of the best voices I have ever heard –  just like Bing Crosby – that would give me chills.  I have a few answering machine tapes of both my Pop Pop and Grandmom calling me on my birthday and serenading me with my birthday song.

Growing up, my life wasn’t always normal.  So I always appreciated the stability of a nuclear family that my grandparents could offer me. 

My grandfather was certainly the Patriarch of my family.  When things in life were difficult for me to understand, he was never afraid to sit down next to me and hold my hand while he tried to explain the unexplainable.  He would say, “Tracy, sometimes people act a certain way and we aren’t sure why, but just know that you are loved.”

It was comforting to know that my Pop Pop had my back and I did know how much both of my grandparents loved me.
But, I had always been closest to the love of his life, my grandmother, Lillian Williams. So, when she passed away about two months before my son was born, my grandfather did his best to step into her shoes and be there for me in those final weeks of my pregnancy.

We would talk on the phone for long periods of time and we had never done that before.  My Grandmom was always the buffer.  She would put Pop Pop on the phone to talk to me, but we never actually talked about things of a personal nature.

I was caught off guard the day that my grandfather explained that they wouldn’t let me leave the hospital after having the baby until I had done a poopy.  At first, I didn’t think I had heard him correctly and then I started to laugh.  I think I would have fallen on the floor roaring with laughter, if I hadn’t been afraid of not being able to get up since I was as big as a house by then.

We also spent time talking about when he was in the Army during World War II.  He returned from being overseas on an aircraft carrier that took him under the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco harbor.  He said it was a beautiful sight that he would always remember.

A lot of our conversations were about God and religion.  For 57 years, my grandfather served as a lay leader and elder at our family’s church Glad Tidings.  His relationship to God, along with my relationship and my family’s, were very important to him.  We spent a lot of time discussing this topic in great detail.

The last time I was able to visit with my grandfather was in New Jersey during Christmas and New Year’s two years ago.

Our flight home was in the afternoon on New Year’s Day, so we got up early to wish him a Happy New Year and say good-bye.  At the time, I didn't know it would be our final farewell.
Tracy & Addison
It had been an enjoyable – but short– visit; however, it turned out to be extremely meaningful.  But before I left, my grandfather gave me one of his old Bibles.  In the front, he had filled in most of the family history up to the late '70s until he got a new Bible.  There is an old index card being used as a book mark noting The Gospel of John. I love looking at his neat handwriting and living vicariously through his younger years as he watched his family grow.

Today, his bible is one of my most cherished items and my son – Shane Loyal Mausser – who is my most cherished, has big shoes to fill as his middle name is in honor of my grandfather.  I don’t doubt for a second that he will follow successfully in those footsteps.

There isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t think of my grandfather and miss him terribly.  When I close my eyes, I can almost hear his voice in my ears and it seems impossible to me that he is gone from this world.  But I know that – someday in my future – we will meet again and the crinkle of his eyes and unabashed smile will be mine once again.