Monday, April 30, 2007

Never in my life

Never have I ever paid so much for a tank of gas!
(Yes, that's $49.11 USD for 14 gallons of gas!)

Before I moved to California, people warned me that it's much more expensive to live here, but when I first got here there were no real noticeable differences in price; apartment prices were comparable to those in Austin (the most expensive city to live in in Texas besides Dallas), clothes and shoes were about the same, and even drinks often cost as little as $3.00 a pint. After living here for a month now, I've realized that grocery shopping is a bit more pricey (there ain't no HEBs here, that's for sure), and our fave past-time, eating out, is definitely more expensive - even for fast food! Not to mention that I took a pay-CUT to get closer to my dream-job, and Gui isn't exactly rolling in the dough as an intern. So, paying nearly $50 every week for gas is certainly a set-back and not something I'm looking forward to as gas prices are getting ready to sky-rocket for the summer! Even worse, starting mid-June I'll be driving 3x further than I am now!! It's all a bit scary, but definitely aroused my usually tepid interest in hybrids!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Guillaume is obsessed with this video

...and he can't stop singing it!

Heading to the O.C.

For business and other reasons, my training for work will be relocating to the South Coast Plaza store in Costa Mesa. I'm excited about reducing my commute by half and training at a much smaller and less-hectic store, but I'll admit I'm a little sad to leave Beverly Hills after such a short stay. The Beverly Center has been a neat experience, though, and both Guillaume and I were able to exlplore Beverly Hills (including Melrose & Sunset Blvds) a bit, too. We'll definitely be back, especially when Irisa comes, to dabble in the abundant night-life and various eateries around there. I'm glad I've had the chance to get to know the place a little. Guillaume and I, however, share separate views on the people and community there; while I'd love to live in such a happening and bustling area of LA, he prefers the laid-back, slow-moving and easy-going environment in Long Beach. As much as I love Long Beach and living here, while I'm young, I think a place like Beverly Hills could offer the fun, entertainment and culture (not to mention shopping!) that I want to be a part of before I get too grown-up. Long Beach very much reminds me of Austin, which is really great, but before I left Austin I always pictured myself living in a bigger city before returning to settle in my hometown with a family (with or without kids). Although the LBC is much larger than Austin, it still has the same quaintness and charm that Austin has, so I feel like I'm still in a big-small, hip town. It'll be nice to finally get a chance to experience that hustle and bustle once I make the move to the Hollywood Hills in September, I just hope I'm not disappointed. For now, I'll enjoy my time near the beach and in walking-distance to my favorite coffee shop, bar and pizza joint. Oh, and this nice French wine that Gui picked up at Trader Joe's for a measly 6 bucks!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Only in L.A.

So, while eating lunch today at work and casually browsing through an old issue of GQ (or some other guy magazine), someone made a comment about the cover model, Josh Hartnett, to which someone else replied, "oh, he was in here yesterday...I rang him up." Then everyone started talking about the cool celebs that they've spotted shopping in our store. It just seems so overly-casual that stars enter our workplace daily and no one bats an eye. I wonder how I'd hold up if someone cool approached me at the register to buy a pair of socks. I guess we'll wait and see if that ever happens.
And, since this post is about what goes on in this crazy city, today I experienced my first real frustration with the absurd traffic on the 405. It was particularly packed today and took me an hour and a half to get home, but at least the weather was enjoyable. It's gonna be rough for the next few weeks having to commute, but it's all worth it.

On a side note: For you fashionistas, we are selling the cutest clothes & shoes right now and it's taking all I have to resist the temptation to buy it ALL!!! I love my job!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back in business

I know it's been some time since I've posted anything. It's still taking some time to get into a routine. I had a day off yesterday, and expected to get back into the groove of blogging, but just didn't feel in the mood...so I read the book that I've been a little addicted to for the past few weeks. The play for the book is going on here in LA, so if I can afford it (yeah right), I'm going to try to get tickets for it...or maybe I'll add that to my birthday wish list. ;)
So, anyway, I started my 4-week training at The Beverly Center in downtown LA on Monday. It's been great so far, and I'm finding that working in that area definitely has its perks. Apparently, tons of celebs frequent the mall, and many celebs (mostly b-listers, but still) even shop at our store! From what I've heard, all the Road-Rulers, Real-Worlders, Ryan Cabrera, CW actors, etc. come in on a frequent basis, so maybe Irisa has a chance to see her celeb crush, afterall. Besides the high-profile clientele, the mall has a great food court and some of my fave restaurants on the first floor (i.e. PF Chang's & CPK)! I've also had the pleasure to meet a lot of really cool people who are from the area and have generously offered me tons of advice on where to go and what to see around LA and in Long Beach. In fact, 2 of the people I'm working with daily either live in Long Beach or have lived here before, which is really awesome, since they know the ins and outs of the area. I'm most excited about checking out Beauty Bar in LA, to compare it to the one in Austin. I've heard mixed reviews, so I'll be sure to provide an update when I do get around to visiting it.

Besides work, Gui and I have just been hanging out. We're both trying to spend conservatively right now, so it's mostly been dinners at home and not much else. We did get a chance to check out the Grand Prix in Long Beach when it was here; we didn't have tickets, but we hung out outside the gates and got a pretty good view of the events.We also managed to time our walk to the beach and discovered that from door to sand, we live a 12 minute walk to the beach. Niiice. It's not the best beach ever, but, hey, it's a beach!! Oh, and I almost forgot. As a little treat for our "one-year anniversary" (can you believe that we've been dating eachother for ONE YEAR?!!! I can't!!), Guillaume and I checked out this bar called The Yard House, that has the World's Largest Selection of Draft Beer. It was defnitely a treat, but we each only had one beer: I, of course, opted for my "usual" Strongbow (hey, it's NEVER on draft in the states...I couldn't resist!), and Gui tried something he'd never tried, but not something all that authentic - NOLA's Abita Purple Haze. We were both satisfied and definitely happy about the selection (check out those taps!!).
So, on that note....here's to beer and getting more of it! ;)

The quiche that ruined my dress

So, I know it's pretty obvious what this post is going to be about, but let me first say that Guillaume and I finally made the Quiche Savoyarde this past weekend that we've been craving ever since trying the delicious goodness at Melynda's a few months back. We followed the recipe precisely, but opted out of making our own crust since our kitchen is still lacking a few essential tools - like a measuring cup (gasp)!! The only problem I had (as indicated in the title of this blurb) was with the bacon. I never cook bacon, since the microwave stuff only takes 10 seconds! So, while I was cooking the bacon, it decided to get really hot and splatter grease all over my lovely brown dress that I got in at Mango in Italy a few summers back. It's one of my most favorite dresses, so if anyone has any special remedy for removing grease stains from clothes, I'd be most appreciative if you'd share that with me! Either way, I'd almost believe that it was worth it, since the quiche turned out to be so yummy! Our oven is a little ancient, so it took longer to cook, and even then I would've liked it to be cooked a bit longer, but it was still delicious and Guillaume couldn't stop going back for more!

Thanks to Melynda for the great recipe and for sending us such a good gift - the quiche dish!!! It will be used so often now that I know how easy it is to make a quiche!!!! ♥

(Lovely gift!)

(FYI: I changed out of my dress after the bacon splatter!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Irisa's coming to town!

I just received the exciting news that my long-time BFF is coming to visit me (and Gui) for my birthday next month! So cool! I can't wait...she'll be our first official visitor, so we'll have to scope out some fun things to do while she's here. Luckily the rock-star company that I work for treats birthdays as paid vacation days! I think we're going to wreak havoc on Cali! ;)

A tribute to Irisa and Sarah
We've been through it all -
the good times...

The bad times...The funny times... (bet you can't tell she's taking the picture!)The sunny times...Oh, and did I mention we're having a baby? (hehehe)
Yeah, and I just booked tickets for us to see Jimmy Kimmel Live on my birthday (I think it's Cameron Diaz that day...she's cool, I guess). Now, I'm working on tix for the Price is Right...how cool would that be??

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Comments

I posted a comment on my sister's blog to a post she made (it won't let me link the post, so see April 9th) about voting for the next president. After typing it, I thought it worthy of a post on my blog. Let me just be clear that my thoughts are that you don't have to separate your religious views with your political beliefs, but political beliefs should be such that they provide for the common good of the world. Anyway, I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I welcome any responses you might have.
Woohoo! Obama ‘08!! Thanks, Irisa. I think with making a choice on who we elect to the presidency is all about prioritizing what is the most important issue to us personally and as a country at the moment we cast our votes. As important as pro-life choices are to me, I must say that abortion rights is not the most dangerous and globally important issue facing our country at the moment. It’s so important to remember that the presidency does not involve legislation, so if we want to change abortion laws we need worry about electing officials that can actually change the law AND answer directly to the people - legislators (aka Congress)! So, write your senator and become involved in state elections if you want to change the law on abortion, but be socially and ethically responsible by electing a president that can truly change the sad state of this nearly god-forsaken country - for us and our children.

Busy little bumble bee

It's been a while since I posted, I know, but I've been working these very weird hours (no more 8-5 for me!), so when I get home at sometimes 12:30 am, I'm usually in no mood to re-hash my day in writing! Work's been great, though. Only one more week before I start my real training - that is, for the job that I'll be doing at my "home store," as we call it. That will be in Bevery Center, which is in the heart of Beverly Hills and has a nice view of the Hollywood sign from the rooftop foodcourt. So, I'm pretty excited about that. Right now I'm working in Arcadia, just near Pasadena, and it's pretty cool, too. It's very weird to drive to work from the beach and see mountains when I step out of my car.

This is where I work:



And this is the view from my work:

Pretty neato, huh?
I have been doing stuff (that doesn't cost money, as I'm broke as a joke - moving to this expensive city and being jobless for 2 weeks!) since the last post. Let's see...Last Friday night, after work, Guillaume and I saw the Clippers play the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center, which was pretty cool. The arena's not as large as I thought it would would've been (I think the Alamodome might be bigger, in fact), but it was still a very cool game, and every seat (even our nosebleed Section 300s) had a good view of the court.



We didn't do much for Easter. We had planned to make a quiche, but some work friends of Guillaume's invited us to a barbeque in the late afternoon, so we did that instead. It was very good, but I'm still waiting to try Melynda's delicious quiche recipe!! I'll let y'all know how that turns out! But, life on the west coast has been good so far. I met a girl at work that lived in Austin for 4 years with a friend, which was really cool! She said she needed to move away from LA for a while and chose Austin, which she said was a very good choice. I didn't ask her why she moved back home to LA, but I'm curious to find out, so maybe next time I see her I'll ask. Oh yeah, and Guillaume's dad booked a flight for the 25th of May to come visit us here in Long Beach, which is totally awesome! And, Gui's friends who visited in Austin, Anto, Sev & Bapty are all coming around the same time to visit, too, which is just marvelous news. Now, if Irisa decides to make the trip for my birthday, that'll just be icing on the cake! Anyone else?!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Long Beach, La Creperie & Mexican Food

Guillaume and I have really started to explore our new city. We really got lucky with the apartment we found so close to the beach and an amazing little area called Belmont Shore, which is very reminiscent of the new areas around 1st & 2nd streets in downtown Austin. There are tons of coffee shops, hole-in-the-wall and gourmet eateries of every genre and clothing & shoe boutiques galore! With a side-order of sand and ocean. It's really wonderful. We've decided to take advantage of our coveted location and explore a little bit each day after work. I got home early from work on Tuesday, so as soon as Guillaume made it home, we decided to do some exploring. I had noticed a bar a couple of blocks away called "Brit Bar," so we thought we start with a drink. The place was pretty dark inside, and the bar was expectedly empty at 6:00, with the exception of a few regulars. We sat at the bar and ordered a couple of beers, telling the bartender that we'd just moved to the area and were checking out some local places. He welcomed us and served our very cheap happy-hour drinks. It took me a few minutes, and I didn't really make the connection in my brain until Guillaume whispered in my ear, "this is a gay bar." Looking up at the neon signs with rainbows, the rainbow colored backsplash of the bar and the two guys sitting cozily beside us, I finally made the connection. Ah ha! But it was cool, and so was the bartender. We just sat there, had our drink and told him we'd be back...at least I would be! ;) I keep forgetting that Long Beach has a very large gay & lesbian demographic, but I guess it's not something I regularly think about.
So, after our drink, we decided to check out the beach at sunset. It real
ly is a lovely city. Too bad Guillaume's camera is broken, otherwise the pictures might have been much nicer. That is on my wish list, though! ;) It was really very cold this evening...maybe somewhere around 50 or 60 with the wind blowing, but it was nice nonetheless. After our little trip to the beach, we headed to 2nd street, which boasts all the fun little eateries and shops in Belmont Shore. I've made a list of all the good places to eat that I've read about on Yelp, and La Creperie was pretty high on the list. This is for good reason, since both Gui and I really enjoyed our crepes (I had the chicken curry crepe, he had the carbonara crepe and we split the nutella & banana crepe for dessert). We both decided that the dishes were very very good, but the crepe was more of an addition than a main focus of the dish (am I sounding a bit like an Iron Chef judge?...because that's what I'm going for). We were both surprised to see kir on the menu, too, but it turned out to be our only disappointment of the meal when it came out as a huge wine glass with chardonnay and a splash of cassis. But, it was still an overall 5-star experience. Can't you see the content in Guillaume's eyes?


Today was my day off, so Gui and I met up for lunch.
Trying to appease my craving for tex-mex, we decided give good ol' mexican food another try after my very dissatisfied experience with chicken tacos at El Torito. I'm glad I did. Although the food wasn't EXACTLY what I'd hoped to get at this hole-in-the-wall mexican joint in Cerritos, the beans were yum and the cheese in the enchiladas masked any unfamiliar ingredients. It definitely ain't mom's home-cooked goodness, but it'll have to do for now. I really need to get those family recipes down, by the way!! So, now I'm at my favorite little coffee joint around the corner, enjoying my hazelnut coffee, waiting for Guillaume to get home from work. I think we might try sushi tonight, but a guy just walked in with a Hooter's shirt on and we've both been pretty excited about checking that out! (Hey, the wings are good and the girls are funny!) We'll see...I know my little honey is tired, so maybe after a little nap. I must say that we have also been enjoying meals at home...like frozen CPK pizza, tomato salad and creamy brie with toast (that's all what we had last night). We'll have to balance out our dining out with dining in more, but it's just so hard with so many wonderful places to try only footsteps away!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My first day

Today was my first day of training for my new job. I was so excited about it and left 2 hours in advance to ensure an early arrival. Well, Mapquest screwed me over and I got lost for 30 minutes before actually realizing it, so ended up being late by 20 minutes...grrrrr. So, despite my late arrival, I got thrown right into the mix of things and could see that this was going to be the fast-paced environment I had really been craving! Everyone was cool and calm, but definitely busy - just like I like it! I had the typical admin stuff to sort out, but then we got down to the nitty-gritty. My first 2 weeks of training will be on the sales floor. I absolutely LOVE this idea...in my opinion, there's no better way to train someone than from the ground up, even if the position is management or the like. You've got to know what everyone does that contributes to your job, and this style of training is such an asset for attaining success in any position. Anyway, my trainer was trés cool and incredibly efficient with the training bit. She was definitely a better trainer than I think I would have been, and I totally give her kudos for that! It's hard to remember all the things that you need to teach someone who knows absolutely nothing about your daily routine. And, indeed, I learned so much. The best and worst part of training on the sales floor is seeing all the new clothes that you want to immediately buy for yourself or someone else. I couldn't help staring at this cute yellow dress hanging on the rack, and made it a point to walk by it every chance I could, just to sneak a peek. I promised myself I wouldn't buy anything from the store for the first 2 weeks, so short glances and subtle hand-grazing are all I'll have to appease my craving, for now.
The rest of the day was a blur, and it really flew by so quickly. I was told I'd have short, 6-hour work days instead of 8-hours since I'll be getting paid for my travel to and from work during the training sessions. That's such a cool benefit...and did I mention the others? I won't because they're so numerous, but anyone who's interested in working for an awesome retailer in SoCal, they are definitely hiring!
:)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Pinkberry

Our newest delightful discovery in our lovely LBC neighborhood is the trendy new Pinkberry that recently opened up in the area. I was told that it's a local favorite (by local, I mean born in L.A.) that keeps the crowds coming in droves, so I was a little worried about getting in and out. To my surprise, it wasn't crowded at all, and we were able to find a table and 3 chairs to sit and enjoy our pleasantly tasty yogurt (and smoothies for Gui & Albert). There was an interesting sign on the door that forbade photography in the store, so here's a picture that I found online of what these little yogurt delights look like. I got the original with mango and bananas...YUM! (P.S. Yes, that's Cap'n Crunch! They have all kinds of goodies to choose from.)