Tag Archives: party

Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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4th Of July On The 1st (or Another Awesome Party With Friends)

With 4th of July being on a Tuesday this year, I was pretty sure that the party I usually go to for the 4th wasn’t going to be on Tuesday. I wasn’t sure what day it would be, but when I found out it was on Saturday I wasn’t surprised. So Marie and Chris decided to make their party Celebrate the 4th on the 1st and it was perfect!

The party started in the last afternoon which worked out really well for me. I had the goal setting workshop until about 2pm and went to the party pretty soon after everyone left the workshop. I had every intention of making Drunk Fruit like I have in the past, but that didn’t end up happening this year. I don’t know what happened, but before I knew it it was Friday night and I hadn’t gotten any of the stuff I would need to make it. I felt bad that I didn’t bring it, but I did bring some sparkling lemonade so I wasn’t totally empty handed when I arrived (although not bringing anything is ok too).

It was the usual crowd at the party and that was exactly what I was hoping for. I had missed the Memorial Day party so I hadn’t seen a lot of people since the Oscars party. Even though I had told many people about my tumors shrinking, most of them hadn’t seen me since I got the news. So a lot of people wanted to hear the entire story and know more about what the plan is now. I wish I had more to say about the plan besides we are waiting for another MRI in the fall, but I think everyone was just happy that I didn’t have to have surgery back in April and that things are looking positive for me.

Most of the time I was at the party, I was just socializing and hanging out with everyone. I did get some food since it was a BBQ and there is always amazing food there. I tried not to think too much about how much I was eating because I didn’t want to stress out about it. But I know I did overeat a bit (I felt it the next day) but since it was a rare occasion I tried to be ok with that.

A lot of the socializing was about online dating since I’m not the only person having random adventures because of it. Everyone seems to think I have the craziest stories, but I think everyone else has some epic ones too. And we were showing off the random people we’ve been matching with on various apps and doing some swiping together as a group on each other’s profiles. It’s nice to know that my friends are having the same experiences as me on online dating since sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong. But clearly it’s not just me.

But the one thing I had to make sure to do while I was at the party was the traditional photo that I take with some of my friends. It all started a few years ago when we ran through the sprinklers and we’ve recreated the photo each year since. We haven’t had the sprinklers on for the other years, but I think having to pretend is what makes the photo so funny. This year, one member of our group was out-of-town so we couldn’t have the exact same photo. But we left a space for her and I think our photo looks pretty amazing!

And I think that the photo looks pretty great in the series that we’ve got going so far.

I love that we’ve been able to keep this tradition up and I know we are all looking forward to adding more and more photos each year.

Since it was a few days before the 4th, we didn’t really expect too much as far as fireworks go. There were some random fireworks from time to time, but nothing like we’ve seen in the past. Some people did go up on the roof to watch, but I was wearing shoes that would not have been safe to go up a ladder in. So I stuck with staying on the ground and I didn’t really see any of the few fireworks that went off. But that was ok since I was planning on going to see fireworks another time.

I stayed at the party pretty late (at least pretty late for me) and was starting to feel tired so I knew I needed to head home. It’s not a horrible drive home, but it’s not the closest place and I know that sometimes there are sobriety checkpoints on the way home. So I wanted to leave at a decent hour. But I was at the party for  long enough to get to see all my friends and have a great time. There’s nothing more that I could ask for at a party.

Watching The Oscars (or Costumes and Twitter)

I’m sure by now you have all seen and read about what happened at the Oscars. If you haven’t here’s a great article about how the wrong film was announced as best picture, how it happened, and what was done to try to correct it. While that is a huge part of what happened at the Oscars, that was only a small time at the party I was at.

I went to Chris and Marie’s house for the Oscars as I have every year for a long time. It’s a great party every year and I’m always looking forward to it. The group of people who go to the party are a mix of those of us who take the Oscars very seriously and those who aren’t super into the awards but love any opportunity to dress up and hang out.

I had an idea for a costume around New Year’s Eve, but it seemed too complicated for me to figure out how to make and I gave up on it. I had another idea for a costume and even went out and bought things for it, but I decided that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the costume. I started researching what movies came out in 2016 (since the only rule for costumes is that it needs to be related to a movie that came out in the past year), and finally found the perfect idea for me!

I went as Anthony Weiner’s twitter account (inspired by the documentary “Weiner”). I had a dry erase board with his twitter profile picture where people could write tweets and I wrote on tape on my body a couple of statements Anthony Weiner had made after his scandals were in the news. It was another easy/lazy costume, but fortunately people at the party found it really clever and fun.

As always, Chris and Marie decorated their house and yard for the party. This year, the theme was Arrival and they did an amazing job making decorations that were exactly like the movie. I especially loved the photo set up they made with the aliens from the movie!

Since there is a mix of people at the party, the viewing areas are split up. There is the quiet room and the regular viewing area. The quiet room used to be much more quiet, but over the years we’ve gotten a bit chattier. We are still very quiet during all the speeches, but we will occasionally talk or say a comment during the show. And of course we are super chatty during the commercials. But my favorite party of the quiet room is that the video is projected onto the wall of a room so we have a giant screen to watch on!

We have ballots to use for the guess the winners contest at the party, but pretty quickly I knew I wasn’t going to do so well with that. While “La La Land” wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, I knew so many critics loved it and I assumed it was going to win more awards than it did. I also hadn’t seen all of the animated, documentary, or short films so for many of those I had to guess. But so many people and films that I wanted to win did and I was really enjoying the show.

Then there was the moment when the wrong movie was announced as Best Picture. I don’t think I’ve heard so much screaming before during the Oscars. We were all so confused (as was probably everyone watching) and we couldn’t believe what was happening. I’m glad that the error was corrected during the show so the producers from “Moonlight” could get up and speak, but I know that it was a moment during the ceremony that will not be forgotten. I know it was an honest mistake, but it was a big mistake.

I think everyone was in shock after the awards were done, but we all headed to the backyard to start the costume contest. We all go around and announce what our costumes are so we can vote. When I announced my costume, I got a bunch of laughs, but I knew that my costume wasn’t going to be a winner. So many people had amazing costumes and I was just happy to see how creative other people can be.

I loved my friend Regan’s Hidden Figures costume (she was with some friends who played other characters from the movie). Their group got first place in the costume contest.

And the funniest costume I saw was actually the costume I was originally thinking of doing! When I went to see Dr. Strange, I immediately thought how cool it would be to go as the cape from the movie. I was trying to figure out how to make a cape look like it was levitating in front of me, but I never could figure out a simple enough solution. But my friend Andy figured out a really easy way to do it and I think his costume looked so much better than anything I could have done!

After the costume winners were announced, the party started to wind down pretty quickly. Most of the people at the party had to work the next morning (I had an early workout the next morning) so a lot of people were trying to get home. I left pretty early too, but since that’s when most people were leaving I didn’t feel like I was missing too much of the party. I went around saying goodbye to all of my friends and walked out to my car.

On a random side note, this was the first party since my car died on New Year’s Eve and it was a little stressful driving home. Even though I have a totally different car, I was still paranoid something would happen on my drive home. I’m sure I’ll feel like that for a while because things like that stick with me. But I got home safely and I’m so glad that I have a car that doesn’t have any problems!

Overall, it was yet another amazing party for the Oscars. I love getting together to watch the show and it makes me feel a part of an amazing community. Most of us know at least one person who works at the Oscars (I know 3 or 4), and we love getting to celebrate movies and be proud of our friends who are there. Hopefully one day I’ll get to attend the show in person, but I know if that happens I’ll probably miss going to the party since that’s what I look forward to each year!

Welcoming 2017 (or The Start To My New Year’s Eve)

As I have done for so many past New Year’s Eves, I got to ring in the new year with so many friends at the party that my friends Marie and Chris threw. The parties are really such a great way to celebrate the new year since I really don’t care to go out to a bar where it is overpriced and way too crowded. Being at a house party with awesome people is perfect for me and I’m always so grateful that Marie and Chris open their house up to all of us.

I got to the party this year a bit earlier than normal. Since New Year’s Eve was also the last night of Hanukkah, I promised to bring a menorah and candles with me. A lot of people at the party don’t celebrate Hanukkah, so this was the first chance they were going to have seeing a menorah lit and I wanted to make sure I got there before it got too crazy with people. I managed to find a pretty cheap menorah on Amazon (after shipping it was only $4) and brought that and some candles with me. I think it ended up looking pretty nice and everyone appreciated getting to see a little bit of Hanukkah.

There was a lot of really great food at the party that I got to enjoy, but I didn’t have any of the drinks. I’m allowed to drink right now, but I’m not doing it since I don’t think it’s necessary. But with everyone else drinking, we did get a couple of fun photos of everyone a bit loosened up.

I was having a lot of fun hanging out with everyone (most of whom I hadn’t seen since the Halloween party). I was eating more than normal, but I also figured that I had worked out earlier that day was going to be working out the next morning so it was fine to splurge. Also, like I’ve said before I have to get used to having occasional treats from time to time as that is normal eating. So I enjoyed myself and knew that I should be able to get back to my regular food the next day.

It was a pretty cold night outside so most of us ended up inside for a lot of the party. Typically I hang out outside, but after going back and forth a few times, I gave up on being cold and hung out inside where I was comfortable and warm. Marie and Chris got a disco light for their living room and there was a ton of open space in there, so they started up a dance party. I’m not a huge dancer, but the fun was infectious and I had to join in after a while. We were all jumping around and being crazy and it was perfect.

We all were hanging out in the living room after the dance party and for the last 45 minutes of 2016 we were watching the NYE shows on TV (we had heard about Mariah Carey and wanted to see what really happened). And just before the new year, we all got cups of champagne to ring in the new year in a festive manner. I had a tiny sip of the champagne because it seemed like the right thing to do, but then I passed my drink on to a friend since they were drinking that night.

I know that several friends are always sad that they are spending NYE without a significant other, but to me it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a boyfriend. There is so much love at that party with my friends that I don’t feel alone or sad at all. To me, it is most important to spend NYE with people who you love and who make you happy and that’s exactly what I did.

Since I had an early workout the next morning and because I want to get on the freeway before the bars close and dangerous drivers get on the road, I left pretty soon after midnight. Things are still fun at the party after that, but I’m never able to stay up that late (plus, since NYE was a Saturday I had to work starting at 8am that day). So by 12:15am I was on the road and headed back to my side of town.

I know a lot of us said that we were hoping that all the sadness and bad luck that they encountered in 2016 would end on NYE, but for me it wasn’t exactly that way. I’ll write more about this next week, but at about 12:30am while I was driving home my car completely died. This wasn’t like any other time that my car died, this time actually scared me and there was no way to pull over somewhere that felt totally safe to me. So I ended my NYE by sitting in a dead car on the side of the 405 with no power or heat waiting for a tow truck. I’m grateful that AAA got to me in about an hour and I had a safe way to get home. That wasn’t at all how I planned on ending my night, but it ended up being ok.

So while technically my car died 30 minutes into 2017, I’m not thinking about it that way. Someone said that even though it was already the new year, I hadn’t gone to bed so my car died in 2016 and it counted toward the bad luck of last year. I like that and I want to think of this year as the year that good things are coming my way and happening to me. And because of the dead car, that did end up happening. But that’s a story for next week!

SAG-AFTRA Holiday Party (or Getting Ready For Elections Again)

This past week was the SAG-AFTRA holiday party in LA. Even though I’ve been a member of SAG-AFTRA for a while, I have never made it to a holiday party before. Either I was working the night it was held, I had a commitment I couldn’t get out of, or I got sick. So even though I RSVPed for the party this year, I was worried that something would come up that would prevent me from going.

Fortunately, nothing came up and I was able to attend the party! When I arrived, it was just as things were starting and there was a pretty big line to get in. But they had several representatives from the union throughout the line to talk to people and greet them. Many of those people were people I know from Unite For Strength, so it was nice to have some time to catch up with friends even before I got inside the party.

Most of the people standing in line with me were people I didn’t know, but I didn’t pay too much attention to that since I was so focused on catching up with the friends who were hanging out with the line. And as soon as I checked in for the party, I walked past the food area (I wasn’t hungry so I wasn’t planning on eating) and tried to find some more friends.

The problem with big events like these are that they do make me a bit nervous and shy. I was there alone (it’s always easier when you arrive with a friend) and was really trying to find someone I knew so I could hang out with them. It took a bit of time to find a friend, but once I did I felt much calmer. And once I found one friend, it seems like more people I knew were coming over to where I was.

Since I don’t get to see my delegate friends that often, there was a lot of catching up to do. It’s been an interesting year for most of us so it was fun to hear the cool projects that they have been working on. And since most of us are friends on Facebook, they wanted to hear more about the liver tumors since they had seen the posts about them.

Most of the stuff about the liver tumors was pretty quick since I don’t have a lot of updates right now, but I did realize something at the party that I didn’t think about. SAG-AFTRA elections will be coming up next year. While the elections will most likely be in the summer, getting signed up to run and doing the prep work will be in the spring. And that will be when I will be having my surgery and recovering.

As soon as I realized that, I talked to some of my friends who are higher up in SAG-AFTRA. I explained how I have every intention of running for a delegate position again (and I’m still considering running for the local board) but I’m worried the timeline of election stuff and my surgery will be an issue. They reassured me that they will do what they need to do so everything works out for me. Hopefully the surgery won’t take me out that long, but if it does I’m glad there is a plan that we can follow that won’t cause the recovery to be an issue for the election.

For most of the party, I stuck with the few friends I found there. I don’t know if more of my friends were there, but we were all looking around and didn’t really see too many people we all knew. And as things always seem to be at a party, I started to say goodbye to people and it seemed to take about an hour for me to leave. I did run into a few more friends while leaving so the goodbye got mixed in with trying to quickly catch up, but I was able to leave at a time that was early enough for me to not have to stress about rushing home to get to bed.

I’m so glad that I was able to go to the holiday party this year. It was a good positive thing to get to do when my day had been a bit long (customers have been getting pretty angry the past week at my day job). And I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while and was able to start planning for the election next year. I know I keep saying I need to do more with my union, and having fun at this party proved that I need to work harder at that.

A Friend Party (or A Casual Hangout And Catchup)

Even though I’ve had a lot of awesome friend adventures lately, a lot of them have been with the same group of friends. And I realized that I hadn’t seen some of my other friends lately. So when my friend Rayshell sent me an invite to a last minute party that she and her husband were throwing, I knew I had to be there! I was a bit tired from my day, but I knew that even if I could only be there for an hour or two it would be worth it!

I got to their party a little after it started (there was some filming on their street so parking was difficult to find) and I’m glad I got there then. Normally at the beginning of their parties there aren’t a ton of people there yet. So I’m able to focus on the few people who were there and fortunately the people there at the beginning were the people I wanted to see!

Rayshell has been working out at Orangetheory lately, so it was great to catch up with her and hear what has been happening lately in her life. We haven’t been able to work out together yet, but I’m hoping that will happen soon. And we keep saying that we are due for another happy hour hangout, but both of us have been really crazy with our schedules.

Rayshell also was curious to get an update on me with my health situation. I know it can sound scary to hear that someone has a tumor in their liver, but I’m in no pain or discomfort and if I didn’t know I had the tumor nothing would be different in my life. I think letting her know that I’m totally fine reassured her that I really am ok. And I updated her on when I’d have updates so she could know when to expect them.

I also got to see my friend Sarah at the party. Again, we hadn’t seen each other in a while so it was so much fun to catch up! Since both of our last names are Levin, we figured that we must be somewhat related (there is a story that all people named Levin are at least 35th cousins or something). So we were reviewing our family trees to see if we could figure out any overlap. So far, we haven’t figured out where our family trees overlap, but I have a feeling that eventually we will figure it out.

Most of the time I was at the party, I was just catching up on life with my friends. We did discuss other things (mainly politics and the craziness going on right now), but it did feel like everyone wanted this party to be a catch up party. It did make me feel a little less guilty about not seeing my friends lately since it seemed like everyone was feeling the same way. Knowing that a bunch of us felt like this made me so grateful that Rayshell and Paul threw this party so we could all hang out.

I got to see a few other friends at the party, but when it was about 10pm, I needed to head home. I had been up since 6 that morning and I knew I needed to be up at 7 the next morning. As much as I wish I could have stayed later and seen my other friends who I knew were showing up later that night, my sleep has to be a priority for me now (I’m totally turning into an old person!). But before I left, Sarah and I had to get a photo with Rayshell in the middle. It’s a photo we’ve done a bunch of times so it’s become a tradition for us now!

levin-sandwich

Hopefully either Rayshell will have another party soon or I can organize a hangout with my friends soon so I can see them again! I don’t want to go a few months without getting to catch up again!

Low-Key Halloween (or A Work In Progress)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this past Halloween I was feeling a bit down. While my stomach was pretty much completely better by then, I was still feeling off and the night of my friend’s Halloween party I was pretty exhausted. But even though I was feeling not myself, I wasn’t going to miss what I knew would be an epic Halloween party!

The party was held on Saturday night (so most people didn’t have to work the next morning) and originally I thought I would have to work that night before the party. Since that’s what I though my schedule was like, I planned a costume that would be easy to do going from work. But then the week before, I found out I wasn’t needed anymore that day, so I had all the time I wanted to get ready for the party. I debated changing my costume, but I decided to go with my original idea.

I saw an idea for this costume online, but I changed it up a bit to make it my own. But all it took was some caution construction tape and a hard hat to turn me into a work in progress! It’s not my best costume, but it made me happy and I liked that it wasn’t something that was obvious right away. Plus, I felt cute and that is so important when you aren’t feeling totally like yourself.

halloween-costume

Every year, Marie and Chris make their parties bigger and better. They said that they were going to tone things down a bit this year, but clearly that plan went out the window! As soon as I got to the party, I saw that they turned their back patio area into a huge carnival tent!

circus-tent

Inside of the tent, they had different little rooms set up with seating and lots of old carnival posters.

in-the-tent

And they had a photo set up with a stage advertising a freak show!

freak-show

It was incredible! They put months of work into the party and I know all of us are so grateful that they love to host and do these insane parties! And none of us expected them to go as big as they did this year, so I think everyone was extra surprised when they saw all the work in the backyard.

Because I was feeling a bit low, I spent most of my time sitting down and talking with friends. But that was perfectly fine with me. We got to have a lot of fun conversation about our costumes, we discussed politics (which I love because we can have a polite debate), and several people asked me how I was doing and what was going on with my liver.

And as always, they had amazing food at the party. Most of it was stuff that I knew I shouldn’t have, so I tried to eat before going to the party. But fortunately someone made meatloaf with mashed potatoes on top (it almost looked like a cake) so I was able to eat something and feel like I wasn’t missing out on too much.

I really wanted to be more social than I was especially since there were friends there that I hadn’t seen in a while, but after being at the party for about an hour or so I started to feel a bit worse. I took it easy and tried to relax while sitting down and that helped the odd feeling go away. But I also knew it as a sign that this wasn’t going to be a party that I was going to be at for as long as I would have liked.

I ended up leaving around 10pm (I had been there about 3 hours) and unfortunately I ended up missing the costume contest. But everyone else there had such incredible costumes that I knew there was no way I was going to win or place, so I was ok missing it. I’m just glad that I got to be there for a few hours to see my friends and the super creative costumes that they made!

It was a low-key Halloween party, but it was perfect with me. And as far as what I did on the actual day of Halloween, that will be tomorrow’s post!

Low Key Labor Day (or Just A Regular Weekend)

I know so many friends of mine were so excited to have a 3 day weekend this past weekend. For me, it’s a normal weekend since Mondays are always a day off for me (and I worked my regular Saturday shift as well). It’s weird to see so many people saying how amazing having an extra weekend day is when I know that everything is the same as usual for me (I won’t even get extra time off at Christmas or New Years because of the days of the week the holidays fall on).

My holiday weekend did get off to an exciting start with my outing to the Bowl. But being out later than normal for me (plus my hips were killing me) caused me not to get that much sleep on Saturday night. I woke up later than normal on Sunday feeling groggy and still tired. I’ve been working lately on getting my sleep schedule to be the same pretty much every night (it’s been tough for me) and sleeping in really did seem to throw my entire day off.

I spent the beginning of my Sunday during my usual errands for the weekend, and then my friends Marie and Chris were throwing a Labor Day party. They did their party on Sunday so people would have Monday to recover from being out all night. And while I didn’t get to make drunk fruit like I have for several parties, I did have some of the leftovers from the Bowl (fruit and sea salt brownies) to contribute to the party.

I really wanted to be social and have a great time at the party, but the exhaustion was hitting me pretty hard. I still had fun seeing all my friends and just having a good time being outside with everyone, but I was just feeling off while I was there. I was hoping that I could get over that feeling once I was at the party and around all the energy of my friends, but unfortunately it stuck with me. I managed to stay at the party until about 9pm and then felt it would be best for me to get back to my house to get a decent night sleep.

Labor Day wasn’t anything special for me. I did my usual Monday morning workout and then I really didn’t have much of a plan. I thought about trying to see if any friends wanted to hang out that day, but I never got motivated enough to try to make some plans.

So instead of being out at a BBQ or some other party on Labor Day, I spent the day at my house watching movies and being lazy. It wasn’t the best thing I could have done, but it seemed to be the best thing for me at the time. I really enjoyed just relaxing and watching movies that I’ve been wanting to see while on my couch. I took a couple of breaks throughout the day to read (something else I love) and then went back to watching movies. It really was an ideal day for me and I finally got over my exhaustion and felt back to my normal self.

Now that the summer is over, I’m getting ready for fall and the end of the year (which will be here before we know it!). I know I’ll get time off of work for Thanksgiving but like I said before I won’t get any extra time off for Christmas or New Years. It’s not horrible to not get any extra time off, but I was sad when I realized that I would only get my usual Sunday and Monday off for each of those. But I’m planning on maximizing those two days off each week through the fall and I’ve got some really fun things that I think I’ll be able to do with my weekends coming up!

The Best Birthday Party! (or Wine Bar and Breakfast Bar)

This past Saturday was my birthday party and I have to say that it was one of the best birthday parties I’ve ever had in my life! Planning a birthday is stressful for me (worrying about if anyone will show up, if it costs money if people can afford it, hoping that everyone gets along) so while I love having a party I hate having to plan it. But I decided to go for something easy again this year and had a gathering at Bodega Wine Bar where I’ve had my birthday before.

I have to say, the staff at Bodega Wine Bar are amazing! I worked with one of their party coordinators and she was really easy to work with and didn’t require me to do too much. All we had to figure out was how many people would be there so we could figure out what reserved section would be best. I figured that maybe 10 people would be there and I loved the horseshoe section where my party was before so that was set up for me.

I set up a Facebook event for my birthday and about 7 people said they could make it, so I figured it would be a fun and relaxing hangout with my friends. And since it was my birthday, I decided to go with a really fun outfit and wore a tutu I got at Kiyonna a while ago (this picture is from the end of the party so I’m looking a bit wrinkled and my makeup and hair are not as done as they were at the beginning).

Birthday Outfit

A friend drove over to Bodega with me so I wouldn’t be there alone when I arrived. But it turned out some of my friends were already there! And by the time we sat down, even more people had arrived and we were starting to fill up our reserved section.

Usually with birthday parties like this, people arrive throughout the evening and there is a flow of people leaving and arriving throughout the evening. But this time, it seemed like almost everyone was there within the first 30 minutes! We quickly filled all the seats in our section at the bar and started to have to grab more chairs for everyone to sit down!

Most of the people at the party didn’t know the others who were there. But so many of them were people who I wanted to introduce to each other and everyone seemed to be getting alone and having a great time seeing the few people they knew and getting to know the people that they didn’t. Every so often, I just had to sit back and look at how awesome it was to have so many people there to celebrate my birthday and to watch everyone just having an awesome time!

And of course, we had to get a group picture with almost everyone who made it. The picture isn’t the best quality, but you can see that everyone is happy and it was an amazing turnout (I’m all the way in the back).

Bodega

We had some food and drinks but mainly we were all just talking about the most random stuff (like Disneyland or podcasts) and everyone was joining in on the conversation and enjoying being around everyone else.

As we got closer to 10pm, most people were leaving (some had come in from the valley and they didn’t want to be out too late), but there were a few of us who weren’t ready to end the night yet. Then we remembered that Nighthawk Breakfast Bar (which closed down shortly after I went there) just reopened in Venice that week! So we got into our cars and drove over to Venice and hoped that we could get in so we could have some of their amazing food!

Fortunately, there was a table available when we got there and we were quickly seated and checking out the menu to see what we wanted to get.

Nighthawk

My friend Elisa wasn’t able to get to Bodega but was able to join us at Nighthawk. And then I realized that the 4 of us (me, Elisa, Michelle, and Dani) who got the season tickets for Pantages for next season were all together for the first time ever! And not only that, Saturday marked exactly 1 year until we are going to be seeing “Hamilton” during opening weekend in our season! That is something to celebrate and we tried to get a photo to acknowledge that.

Hamilton

None of us really wanted to have drinks since we drank at Bodega, but we had to get some food for sure! Michelle and I have both been craving the Benedict Fries since we went to Nighthawk the first time. So of course we got those to share with everyone. And the last time we went we were tempted by the Tower of Bacon, but didn’t have room in our stomachs so we got that this time as well. The fries were better than they were before and the bacon was super delicious, but we wouldn’t have called the bacon a “tower”.

Tower of Bacon

We all enjoyed the food so much and it was the perfect way to end the evening! Even though Nighthawk was not the original plan, it worked out so well and I’m so glad we decided to make a stop there after Bodega! It really made my birthday so amazing and I had the best time!

I’m so grateful for my friends who were able to make it out to celebrate with me and for the ones who couldn’t make it but were celebrating virtually through texts and Facebook messages. I really had the best birthday ever and I’m hoping that this means that this year is going to be the best year ever as well!

Going To Maryland (or A Cousin Reunion)

As I’ve mentioned, this past weekend I went to Maryland for a family reunion. I know it’s a bit crazy to fly back east just to be there for the weekend, but I had limited time I could take off and being there for the weekend is better than nothing!

My trip began on Friday (I was able to take both Friday and Saturday off from my box office job) when I flew to Baltimore. I was able to get on the same flight as my brother and sister-in-law so that was nice. Our flight was a bit delayed, so we grabbed some lunch at LAX before getting on the plane. It was a super packed flight and we couldn’t sit together, so I spent my flight reading and trying to not panic (I didn’t take any panic meds and I did great!).

When we landed, we got a cab out to Stevensville and arrived at Maria’s Love Point (the bed and breakfast my family was staying at) after midnight. We were all pretty tired so all we did was say hi to my parents, find our rooms, and go to bed. My room was perfect for me and I fell asleep pretty quickly that night (thankfully no jet-lag for me).

The next morning I woke up and had an amazing breakfast (seriously, Maria’s Love Point was the best B&B ever!) and went exploring around the B&B with my family. It was crazy hot and humid but we did want to go outside to check out the amazing view that the property had.

The View

There was a dock that went out into the water and we walked out to the end and back. I was shocked to see that the water was filled with jellyfish! Everywhere you looked you would see them so I was glad I was up on a dock and not walking along the edge of the water.

That day was the family reunion, but since it wasn’t starting until 1pm we tried to relax that morning. We all ended up spending a bit of time in the pool to try to beat the heat, but we were so grateful that the B&B had some really powerful air conditioning when we needed to cool off more inside.

Maria's Love Point

The family reunion was actually held at Maria’s Love Point, so that made things pretty convenient for us. We hung out in the pool until about noon and then we all started getting ready. It was being catered by a local restaurant and it was being held in a big room on the bottom floor (it was supposed to be outside but with the extra high temperatures and humidity we ended up moving it inside which was best).

I was pretty excited for this reunion! I went to the last big family reunion which was 16 years ago (half of my lifetime ago) but I hadn’t made it to any of the smaller reunions in the years since. I saw my aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin’s girlfriend 5 years ago at my brother’s medical school graduation; but I hadn’t seen them since. I was in touch with a bunch of family through Facebook, but that’s not the same.

This reunion was a reunion of cousin’s on my dad’s mom’s side. It was my dad, his siblings, his 1st cousins, and all of the 1st cousins’ kids and grandkids. We were only missing a couple of people there but we had 30 cousins from 3 generations all in one place which was incredible!

3 Generations Of Cousins

It was really great seeing people again for the first time in years and I even got to meet some cousins that I had never met before! It was a bit overwhelming, but I think we were all thinking that so there was no awkwardness at all.

Even though I was super excited to see everyone, I think I was extra excited to see my cousins that I’ve been closest to over the years. My cousin Leah (who I believe is technically my second cousin but we always called her my third cousin) and I were super close as teenagers. She came to stay with my family for a month for a couple of summers and I stayed with her family for a few weeks one summer. She even came out to California (she lives in Pennsylvania) for my Sweet 16. We were pen-pals for a couple of years and we see each other on Facebook, but the last time I saw her in person was 16 years ago at that reunion. Since then she’s gotten married and has 2 kids!

I was also super excited to see my cousin Rachel (who is Leah’s sister). She and I weren’t as close before as Leah and I were (Leah and I are only a few months apart and Rachel is a bit younger), but we’ve stayed in touch through social media and we’ve got similar personalities and senses of humor. I know if we lived closer to each other that we would be super close and probably hanging out quite a bit. She’s also had a kid since the last time I saw her.

And Alisa is my first cousin Danny’s girlfriend. Before this reunion, I had only seen her once in person 5 years ago my brother’s medical school graduation. At the time, she was super pregnant with their first kid. She actually had him a few days after I met her. And since then, she and Danny have had another baby. Again, we see each other online all the time and we’ve become very close, but it had been years since I had seen her in person.

The four of us were hanging out quite a bit at the reunion and I had to get a selfie with my amazing cousins. None of them are my first cousins, but that doesn’t matter. I love them all so much and I am so incredibly lucky that I get to have them as my family.

My Cousins

5 years ago (when I last saw Danny and Alisa), we got a picture together since before that trip it had been over 10 years since I had seen Danny. Ross, Danny, Alisa, and I got a quick picture after dinner and I’ve loved having that picture. Since we were all together again, we had to recreate the photo with the 2 babies (one of whom is technically in that first picture in Alisa’s belly).

5 Years Later

I have to say, I don’t think we’ve really changed that much in 5 years!

Sadly, the reunion had to come to a close around 6pm. I loved spending time with everyone, but we only had the space for a certain time and we didn’t want to take advantage. There was still more family time (more on that tomorrow), so it was only goodbye for the night.

While my parents, brother, sister-in-law and I were relaxing that evening; we found out that the house next to the B&B was throwing a huge party that night and they would be having a fireworks show. They do this party once a year and it happened to be the night we were there! So after it got dark, we all headed out to the patio to check out the show from the next house.

Fireworks

By the time the fireworks were done, all of us were pretty tired from the big day and we all headed back to our rooms to get a good night sleep before the next day (and my last full day in Maryland). And I’ll write about that tomorrow!