Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year's Hiatus

OK, here's the deal:

I'm not giving up on my life list, but I am giving it a break. My experiment to do something new every day has brought amazing changes in my life - but I find myself needing to really push in a couple areas for a while. Instead of being fun, the list is starting to feel like a bit of a distraction from other goals that are important to me.

If I were quitting just so I could lounge in bed eating bon bons, I might worry, but that's not the case (and what ARE bon bons anyway??)

So I plan to be back at a later date... not really so much for the blog but for ME. It'd be fun to clock a full year... who says I can't break it up a bit?

In the meantime, onward forward!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Life List Day 283 - Virtual Shop

I got a new cellphone for Christmas and - wanting to step out of the era of the dinosaurs in which I typically reside - it actually has a camera in it.

Today, I was at the mall with my mom and thought I'd pick up a belt for my son, who has been looking like a hip-hopper with his sagging jeans since he lost the only belt he had.

I couldn't choose between a couple belts, so - even though usually it takes me days...weeks...months...to confront new technology - I whipped out my phone, played around with it a bit and managed to take a photo of the belts, which I sent to my son so he could choose the one he wanted.

Brilliant, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Life List Day 282 - See the Lights in Rochester, MI

Today, my mom and I braved the icy Michigan temperatures (OK, high 30s, but that's bitter cold to a California girl like me) to check out the lights in downtown Rochester, MI, about a 20 minute drive.

It's really cool looking - all the stores are covered solidly in lights (LCD lights - I'm told that it only costs $400 in electricity to light the entire downtown for the month the lights are up).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Life List Day 274 - Try a New Restaurant and Sanddabs

There's a restaurant on the Redondo Pier called Kincaid's Bayhouse that I've been meaning to try for years. Today, I was meeting my book editor, Sally Kim, for dinner (she lives in New York but I get to see her when she visits her family on vacation...she grew up right in my neighborhood!). Anyway, she said for me to pick the place, so that's what I picked.

The menu was fantastic - with things like Lobster Mac & Cheese and Asiago-Almond Encrusted Sea Scallops - but I went for the sanddabs because you rarely see them on a menu and I've never had them before. They're not a very popular fish, and I don't know why ... mild, nice texture, good flavor. I'd order them again.

(And thanks, Sally, it's always great seeing you!!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life List Day 272 - Throw Out My Back

This isn't anything I did for my life list!...just something I did. Sigh. So today I spent the day hopped up on the junk (ibuprofin) and laying around watching Christmas specials on Lifetime. I'm embarrassed to say just how much I enjoyed it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Life List Day 271 - Make a New Recipe for Company

I never try a new recipe when I have guests over for dinner because, frankly, I'm a crappy cook, so I like to stick to the tried and true.

Today, I had friends over for dinner and I decided to try a new a recipe I got from my mom for Halibut Cozamel, which is basically a baked halibut burrito with cherry salsa.

It was a hit!

(And of course now that I know it's good, I'll make it a million more times....but at least I tried something new THIS time!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Life List Day 270 - Host Christmas for the Chicks

"Chicks Christmas," in which I get together with my book club gals for eating, drinking, present exchange and overall merriment, is an annual tradition. This year's twist on it for my life list is that for the first time ever, I volunteered to have it at my house.

I'm no Martha Stewart, but I find that setting lots of things on fire - fireplace logs, candles, flambes - automatically makes things a bit more festive.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Life List Day 269 - Make Roll-Out Cookies

I used to make Christmas cut-out cookies with my son, but since he's outgrown it, I gave it up. I tried to talk him into it this year but - although he was quick to volunteer to EAT them - he wasn't interested in the creation process.

Then it occurred to me there was no reason I couldn't just make them myself, so today, I did.

Just for fun, I bought a bunch of non-Christmas cookie cutters - like a palm tree, a margarita glass, an octopus - and then baked and decorated the cookies to look Christmassy, even though they weren't traditional shapes. (I'd show photos but my camera broke...grrrrr....) Anyway, the nice thing about doing the cookies myself is that it went a lot faster and, when I got bored, I didn't make myself continue...just froze the leftover dough for another time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Life List Day 268 - Try Sprinkles Cupcakes

There's a chichi cupcake store in Beverly Hills called Sprinkles that I've been wanting to try. There's apparently always a line to buy these cupcakes, which run $3.50 each and are supposedly divine.

Today while I was in Beverly Hills getting my hair cut, I walked the half-mile or so to Sprinkles to try them for myself.

There was a line of about 10 people ahead of me - when I got into the tiny bakery, it smelled outrageously good - not sugary good, but something buttery/fatty/cakey good. Each day, they offer a dozen or so varieties, rotating the selection. I bought a red velvet with white icing, a white cupcake with coconut, and a chocolate with peppermint.

So far I've split the red velvet with my son. The icing was really delicious (and in fact, you can buy a "shot" of icing only for 75 cents) but, to be honest, the cakey part was just okay. Then again, I've never had a red velvet cake, so maybe this is all there is to it.

To give the other flavors a fair shake, I may have to take bites out of them before they get stale.

The sacrifices I make for this life list...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Life List Day 267 - Learn to Use My Remote

I bought a new stereo receiver, which was then hooked up to my TV, dvd, ipod, etc. - bottom line: I have four remotes and didn't know how on earth to use them. Being the technophobe that I am, I was getting up to change everything by hand, figuring that's what I'd do from now on (hey, it's exercise).

But today, I decided I needed to face my remote demons. I don't have any of the manuals, so I called Best Buy and had a Geek Squad guy come out and give me a tutorial.

He spent a half hour teaching me the ways of the remote - even going so far as to write notes and draw little pictures for me.

You gotta love those geeks.

I may never have to get up from the couch again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Life List Day 266 - Try Out a New Mall

Since I only spent $12 on Black Friday, it stands to reason I have a bit more Christmas shopping to do.

Today, I started to do what I always do: go to the same old mall, and complain they have the same old stores that carry the same old crap.

Then I remembered there's a new outdoor shopping plaza near the airport - no farther than my usual mall. So - even though the only stores I knew for sure it had were Best Buy and Whole Foods - I decided to do my shopping there.

It was so nice! Nearly empty! Better stores! New! Clean! Did I mention nearly empty!!?

I didn't get all of my shopping done, but I sure did make a sizeable dent. And instead of it being the nightmare I was predicting, the experience was downright pleasant (made even more so by the fact that my son was hanging out in the car, CHEERILY DOING HIS HOMEWORK while I shopped).

And BTW, thanks everyone for your posts and emails about my quandry as to whether or not to continue this life list - I got a lot of great suggestions and inspiration that is at least keeping me going at least for now!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Life List Day 265 - Get My Ears Pierced

I first got my ears pierced back when I was 13 - this was before the piercing gun, when they just jabbed a pointed earring through your lobe into a cork at the back (which I suppose was better than my aunt who said her ear piercing was with "a needle, a potato and a bottle of bourbon"). About 15 years ago, after dealing with a spate of infections, I let them close up.

Today, I got them pierced again.

I'm not entirely sure what prompted it - maybe those big dangly earrings that are in style right now tempted me (although I'm not allowed to wear anything but posts for 6 months).

Anyway, I went to Claire's, a cheapo jewelry store in the mall where they do it for free when you buy their earring kit for $40. To get through it, I did that thing I do when I'm nervous something will hurt: get it over with fast before fear has a chance to catch up with me.

Unfortunately, they had one girl working the entire store so there were lots of interruptions dragging out the process. Plus, as I arrived a teenaged girl was leaving with her ears freshly pierced...and tears in her eyes.

My son was with me (not willingly...he wanted to go to Fry's Electronics afterwards) so he was good moral support. As it turned out, it was no big deal at all - the dental cleaning I got last week was a whole lot worse. And now I have spiffy holes in my ears.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Life List Day 264 - Some Soul Searching

264 days ago I committed to trying one new or special thing every day. I didn't have a plan for how long I'd do it - I just decided I'd keep at it as long as it felt interesting and rewarding.

I'm on the fence as to whether to continue.

I'd like to make it to a year, but that's 100 days...100 more things...100 more times when maybe I'm feeling like a total lazyass and instead I make myself do SOMETHING.

I guess I'm officially confessing - doing something every day has been AMAZING, but it ain't been easy.

So my list list is on double-secret probation, just like the guys in Animal House.

I have something for tomorrow....something that I've been putting off a LONG time that I'm doing because of this life list (a good reason to keep going).

After that...well, I guess we'll see.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Life List Day 258 - Hold Out for the Right Lights

Since I've mostly lived in apartments, I haven't needed outdoor Christmas lights because I haven't had an outdoors. Now that I'm in a house, I realized I can string lights. I bought those white icicle lights because I noticed that's what everybody else has...it's a lot of twinkling for the buck.

Before I hung them, though, I realize that I don't like icicle lights. I mean, they're OK, but they're sort of souless.

THESE kind are the ones I love.

So today, I made a special trip to Target to return the icicle lights to buy and then hang the RIGHT kind of lights: Big, clunky, colorful ones that I hung without any regard to whether they were straight...and in fact I sort of like the jaunty angle I achieved.

I stood looking at my house and smiled...definitely worth the effort. It's very Charlie Brownish in its sincerity.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Life List Day 256 - Donate Toys

Every Christmas I like to donate a few toys to a charity for kids. Today, I went shopping to buy a couple of Christmas gifts for an 11-year old girl in foster care, whose name I got through a local charity group.

Most of the kids on my personal Christmas list - family, friends' kids, etc. - pretty much have everything, so it's always fun to buy something for a kid who doesn't have a whole lot.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Life List Day 255 - Turn Left Instead of Right

I go for a walk along the beach most days, and for some reason, I always go the the right - heading north along the water - rather then left.


Today, just for a change of pace, I went left.

It's not as if it was spectacularly different - it's still my same ocean! - but just like driving a different route, walking a new route woke me up a bit more to my surroundings.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life List Day 254 - Wear Red Lipstick

Red lipstick says, "I am bold," I am confident," "I am a woman to be reckoned with!"

Which is why I wear pink.

Today, I was meeting friend for a drink and decided, just for the heck of it, to wear red lipstick.

I pulled out the Mac Viva Glam that I bought years ago and never used.

I'm not 100% convinced red is all that flattering on me, but for such a small change, I really felt a lot different wearing it. Overall...fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Life List Day 253- Teach Myself a New Dance

I haven't learned a new dance since the Macarana. Today I looked up instructions to learn how to "Crank That," based on that song by Soulja Boy that all the kids are doing.

I tried for about a half hour to learn it. I got to the point where I could do it as long as I was watching the video at the same time & following along, but I don't know it well enough to, say, try it on a dance floor (much to my son's relief).

Still, I think I'll keep trying. You never know. Maybe I just need a big ol' pair of pants and an oversized jersey to look right doing it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life List Day 252 - Work out for six hours

I watched the movie Hairspray on DVD, loved it, and was inspired to look up some interviews to get "behind the scenes" news. Truth is, I love watching dancing, and I always wished I could do it (I'm not hopeless...just not any good).

Anyway, in one of the interviews a couple of the actors (including Zac Efron, who I have a serious old-lady crush on) mentioned how they dance trained literally eight hours a day - sometimes longer - to get ready for the movie.

The idea of really pushing myself athletically gave me that nostalgic buzz I get every now and then, so today I put it to work.

I'd planned to work out a full eight hours like they did, as it turns out, I'm not 20 anymore like my crushee Zac Efron (yes, I did look up online to see if he was of legal age, just to see how old-lady creepy I am). I did make it six, breaking it up into several segments. I took a nice long walk down the beach, went for a bike ride, took a spinning class at the gym, did the elliptical, walked on the treadmill, and lifted some weights. When I reached the six hour mark and said to myself, "Two more to go!" my mind said yes, but my weary body said no.

Still, did I feel like a stud, or what?!?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Life List Day 251 - I Can't Say

Oops, can't post today because it involves something new I did for a Christmas present for someone I know who reads this blog.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Life List Day 250 - I Make It to Venice Beach!

This is the third time I set out to ride my bike to Venice Beach, and today, I made it! It's about 20 miles round trip...here are a few of the sights along the way (and did I mention I feel lucky to live in such a great place that this is my bike path?):

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Life List Day 249 - Stand Up to The Man

In this case, The Man is Best Buy.

I don't see any way to not make this a long, boring story, other than to say this:

Best Buy screwed up on installing some speakers, and I actually got them to fix their mistake free - and even discount it. (This is very unlike me. I don't even bargain for price at garage sales.) I did it nicely, but I DID it.

Then - buoyed by my success with the speakers and with encouragement from my friend Mary Jo - when I had to buy a new receiver (it was kind because of a mess-up of Best Buy's, but not entirely), I actually talked them down from $500 to $199.

I swear I think this life list has made me bolder ... not to mention richer.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Life List Day 248 - Risk the Crowds for Black Friday

I considered joining in a movement called Buy Nothing Day, in which you pledge not to buy anything today, "Black Friday," the busiest shopping day of the year.

But those sales ads got to me. I swear, at Macy's they seemed to be practically GIVING stuff away!

So today - even though I'm not really big on shopping - I braved the crowds to start my Christmas shopping. I hit two malls and Target.

Surprisingly, I found parking easily and really didn't encounter that huge of crowds. Of course, the sales didn't strike me as all that spectacular, either...I think you had to get up at 5 a.m. to catch the early-bird sales to get the big deals.

Ah, well, I may not have struck a blow for anti-consumerism, but I did spend $12, thus supporting the economy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Life List Day 247 - Cook Dinner & Give Thanks

I've never cooked a Thanksgiving meal before - I'm always either invited somewhere or I blow off the holiday and head for Palm Springs or Vegas.

Today, I cooked dinner for Danny and me: turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, yams, corn, salad and pumpkin pie. It wasn't entirely from scratch, but it was served up all fancy-like on platters and bowls as if it was.

At dinner, I tried to get Danny to list the things he's thankful for, but he wasn't playing ...kept claiming he didn't want to talk with his mouth full.

I listed mine, and - I tried not to be corny -but the truth is, the stuff I'm thankful for IS all pretty hokey...my son, my family, my good friends, that I've had books published, the rodents, that I get to live in such a fantastic place.

It's easy to wallow in the stuff that's not going right, so it's good for me to remember that, all in all, I'm pretty darned blessed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Life List Day 246 - Try a Martha Stewart Recipe

I often watch cooking shows but never make anything from them.

Today, I tried a recipe I saw on Martha Stewart. I've been trying to find better ways to eat veggies, and this seemed really easy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Clean & cut in half brussels sprouts
Toss in olive oil
Add sea salt

Roast about 10 minutes in the oven, tossing once.

They looked just like Martha's...and they were yummy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Life List Day 243 - Brunch at the Hotel Bel Air, Beverly Hills

Today, I had brunch at the Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills, which I've never done before. The hotel is quite iconic and old-school Beverly Hills.

I'm not a ladies-who-brunch type of person - it's an awful long time to sit and eat - but I was delightfully surprised at just how long I COULD sit and eat. If there's an Olympic event for sitting and eating, perhaps I could qualify.

All in all, it was LOVELY.

Oh, and happy 50th birthday ------- (name withheld to protect the elderly).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Life List Day 242 - Brush My Teeth With Baking Soda

This is one borne of necessity: Today, I was getting ready to brush my teeth when I accidentally dropped my tube of toothpaste in the toilet. Needless to say, the 5-second rule didn't apply in this situation.

I could have put off brushing my teeth until later after I ran to the store, but brushing my teeth with baking soda is one of those things I've always wanted to try. So I did.

I was worried it would be really gritty (like biting into a sweater...eeeeeegh...the worst feeling ever) but it wasn't.

It was, however, surprisingly sour.

Afterwards, I didn't have that cool, minty fresh feeling - but I have to say, my teeth felt really clean.

I'm not sure if I'll keep doing it though ... isn't toothpaste supposed to have flouride?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Life List Day 241 - Look Up Places On a Map

It started with Bangladesh - I was reading about the cyclone that just hit and I thought to myself (right after, "Oh, how sad"), "Where the heck is Bangladesh?"

So today for my life list, I decided to look it up on a map.

While I was at it, I looked up a few other foreign countries that often make the news that I'm too embarrassed to admit I have no idea where they are. (Although I hope nobody quizzes me - I may have looked them up, but I can't guarantee retention. Still, it's a start.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Life List Day 239 - Whip Up Dr. Oz's Green Drink

I was watching Oprah the other day, and her health expert, Dr. Oz, recommended a green drink that he blends himself. Oprah tried it and called it, "a glass of fresh."

Today, I decided to whip up a glass of my own.

I went online and the ingredients were posted, but not the amounts, so I had to wing it. Here's the recipe:

Dr. Oz's Green Drink


He said toss them in a blender and blend (I took the liberty of assuming I was supposed to peel the apple, ginger and cucumber, and include only the juice of the lemon).

Apparently, Dr. Oz has a much better blender than me. I just had a bunch of dry veggies spinning around in the blender. I tried adding water. Then I had wet veggies spinning around.

I pulled them out, put them in a food processor.

Hmmph. Just a bunch of wet chopped up veggies.

I thought I might take a swig anyway - just to see if it was just an ugly, chunky glass of fresh - but my son cried out, "Don't drink that!" with such passion, I found myself dumping it down the sink before I even thought it through.

Ah well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Life List Day 237 - Give a Kitty Full Access to My House

A while back I was trying to help a stray cat, who turned out not to be a stray at all, but my neighbor's cat. Even though he has a home, darned if he hasn't been trying to wriggle into mine little by little. (I think he's quite neglected - often locked out for days at a time.)

I found myself feeding him, going outside to sit with him on the patio for a nice cuddle (hiding from my neighbor just in case he's the jealous type), and finally letting the cat in as far as my kitchen. Every time, he wheedles to check things out (you know what they say about cats and curiosity), but I don't let him because, 1) I'm afraid he might have fleas, 2) I'm afraid he may pee on things, 3) he's not my cat!

Today, I gave in to the inevitable and let him into my house.

As you can see, he was quite content to visit.

He hung out for an hour or so, slept, ate, then went on his way without so much as a goodbye.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life List Day 236 - Don't Go to the Gym

Today I was driving to the gym when the thought struck me that I should be riding my bike along the beach instead of being inside. It was a glorious day - freakishly warm for November. Pretty soon, it'll be too cold to ride along the beach (at least, too cold for a sissy like me).

I turned the car around, went home, and rode my bike to Marina del Rey, where I watched the sailboats.

Much better.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Life List Day 235 - Do Yoga in the Comfort of My Own Living Room

I ordered a yoga dvd from Amazon (MTV Yoga, which came at the recommendation of my niece). It's been sitting on my countertop for a week and, I'm not too proud to say, I've walked past it quite happily without the slightest temptation to open it and actually do it.

Today, I gave in to lack of temptation and tried out the yoga dvd.

It was a pretty good workout - and nice to be able to get my ya's out on a rainy day without having to go to the gym.

I'll do it again (and even if I didn't, the dvd was cheaper than a single class).

Friday, November 9, 2007

Life List Day 234 - Attend a "Passion Party"

Tonight, my friend Erin was hosting a Passion Party - one of those parties where a bunch of gals get together in someone's home and shop for sex toys, massage oils, etc.

Trust me, if it weren't for this life list, I'd never have gone. There's no man in my life, and I refuse to put myself in a situation where my only boyfriend has batteries.

Still, it was pretty amusing. The woman showing us her product line had her work cut out for her: Bascially, they get you to relax by getting you all liquored up, but there's that fine line between a crowd of ladies that's loosened and one that's unruly. I showed up a little late, and there was already a lot of whooping and laughing going on. The Passion Party Lady (kind of like a Tupperware Lady, only discussing how to make sure you have the "big O" rather than how to burp your lid to keep freshness in) nonetheless managed to keep everyone in line.

I felt compelled to buy SOMETHING (the people who host these things always say you don't have to buy anything, but they don't mean it). I bought a cologne called Pure Instinct, which is basically pheromones and essential oils. I tried a sample of it, and it smelled pretty nice. It's supposed to attract men like crazy.

I don't know about that...but when I stopped on the way back to have a drink with friends while I was picking up my son, a female friend kept saying, "You look so pretty today...doesn't Jill look pretty? And you smell so good. Did you do something to your skin? You're radiant." So much for it attracting MEN.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Life List Day 233 - Plan "A" Thwarted...So I Make Onion Rings Instead

My plan for today was to go the entire day without buying anything - not even so much as a pack of gum. I've been spending like a drunken sailor on leave, so I thought a day off would be good for me. A couple hours ago, however, my son called and said, "Kevin has a migraine. If I buy Advil for him, will you pay me back?"

Rats. Far be it from me not to underwrite my son's friends' over-the-counter drug habits. There went Plan A.

Luckily, I'd been thinking of trying this new Weight Watchers onion ring recipe, so that's what I did instead.

Weight Watchers Onion Rings

sweet onions
bread crumbs
egg beaters
spray cooking oil

Slice onions into double rings. Dip each double ring in egg beaters, then in bread crumbs, and set on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn, spray again and cook 5 minutes more. And, tada!...

If you're expecting restaurant-style onion rings, you'd be sorely disappointed. They beat the frozen kind you buy in a bag at the grocery store, though, and for any Weight Watchers in the crowd, they're 1 point for about a cup's worth.

(Oh, and Caitlin, here's the recipe for those Oprah fries.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Life List Day 232 - Champagne at Lunch

I'm attempting to teetotal for a while because I'm dieting - and I'm just not willing to spend limited calories on alcohol - but today, I had some girlfriends over for lunch, and one of them brought a nice bottle of champagne. I still might have said "no thanks" (I'm not much of a daytime drinker...it just makes me sleepy), but it seems we were toasting her successful cancer surgery & upcoming round of chemo.

What could I say but, "I'll drink to that!"?!?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life List Day 231 - Vote

Today being election day, I exercised my civic right (or is it performed my civic duty?) and headed to the polls.

Since there wasn't anything "big" on the ballot - just city council and school board - I nearly blew it off. But then I remembered a few years ago when a city council position was decided by TWO VOTES. Yes, that's how small my town is, and how important every vote can be.

It was a good thing I went. They didn't have me registered for some reason. I was able to cast a provisional ballot, but now I know I'd better go check on my registration - I sure don't want to miss out on the upcoming presidential election. For that one, I plan to vote early ... and vote often.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Life List Day 230 - Create a Menu for the Week

My son, Danny, and I have had more than our fair share of dinners consisting of frozen entrees or such culinary delights as cheese melted on Triscuits. I often WANT to make a good dinner, but I don't have the ingredients I need. Or I can't think of anything.

Today, as part of my effort to eat more healthfully, I made a menu of meals for each day this week. Then I used the list to do my grocery shopping.

So now I have everything I need on hand.

Tonight's dinner: Veggie burgers and "Oprah fries."

I've never planned meals ahead like this before, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Danny is already loving it: he can't wait for Thursday - that's chili night, his all-time favorite.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life List Day 229 - Attempt a Long Bike Ride Down the Beach

Please note use of the word "attempt."

Today, I had planned to ride my bike to Venice Beach, which is about 20 miles round trip. My bike is a beach cruiser - no gears, hand brakes - so that's a pretty long ride, but I thought it'd be quite the adventure.

The weather apparently had other ideas. I waited until 1:30 for the sun to peek through and the wind to die down. When it didn't, I decided to head out anyway.

Even with the wind, it was a great ride. I made it as far as the airport (about five miles away), where - tired ... and worried about how flat my front tire was looking - I stopped to sit and watch planes take off over the beach and disappear into the clouds. Then I headed back, delighted to have the wind pushing me rather than fighting me.

I'll try my great bike exodus another day. In the meantime, this was just fine.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Life List 228 - Go See Live Music

My friend Irina and I met for a drink tonight, and instead of going to one of the usual places, we picked a bar called Grog - for the sole reason it was in the neighborhood, we've never been there, and they promised an '80s band. It's been a while since I've seen live music in a bar.

As it turned out, the band wasn't an '80s band, but more specifically, a Tom Petty tribute band.


I'd have liked to have been in the room when they decided, "Hey, let's only do songs by Tom Petty." Is it just me, or is that rather obscure?

The entire evening, my friend and I were trying to come up with what tribute bands we'd put together that might be on par with the Tom Petty band.

She was going to start a Rick Springfield band.

I made a joke about being in a Carpenter's tribute band thinking that was ridiculous but, the more I thought about it, that'd be pretty bitchin'.

Life List Day 227 - Try Heirloom Tomatoes

I actually bought heirloom cherry tomatoes before, but they went bad before I got around to eating them because I used the prettier, red, perfect tomatoes I had on hand first.

Today, I bought a pack of heirlooms from Trader Joe's and made it a point to break into them right away.

Heirloom tomatoes, I learned from Wikipedia, are open pollinated, which is why - in the absence of cultivating for characteristics of what we define as tomato perfection - they can be kind of freaky looking.

I tried the greenish and the brownish looking one first. Not bad! They definitely tasted tomatoey - which I enjoy in a tomato - maybe not as much as I expected, but more than the supermarket ones I've been buying.

I'll try them again.

After all, don't ugly tomatoes deserve to get eaten, too?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Life List Day 226 - Lunch at Costco

I often grab samples when shopping at Costco. Today, just for the heck of it, I stopped at Costco for no other reason than to make a lunch out of the samples.

I had some sort of ravioli thing, a chicken sample, a dip, and - my favorite - a sticky rice (I thought about going back for seconds on that one, but I was afraid the samples lady would recognize me).

Life List Day 225 - Throw a Halloween Party

I've always lived in apartments where I never get any trick-or-treaters. In my new house, I was told I'd get HUNDREDS - so I decided to have friends over to party on my patio while we handed out treats.

It was a blast! We ate, drank and were merry, and I ended up giving out over a thousand pieces of candy. The littlest kids that came while it was still light out around 6:00 were the most fun - my favorite was a girl dressed up as an enchilada.

Unfortunately I have several bags of candy left over...and I have a feeling it's going to keep calling to me until it's gone.

(The photo is of my cousin Jerri and a piratey friend, who took over candy-handing duty after my arm got tired...there were a LOT of kids!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life List Day 224 - Watch a Scary Movie

I haven't watched a scary movie in ages because, frankly, I get spooked enough by things going bump in the night without a movie adding to my imagination.

Today, I decided to be a big, brave girl and watch one.

I tried to get Psycho - may as well go with a classic (which I've never seen) - but I went to three video stores and nobody had it, so I got the movie 1408 instead. It's new to DVD, is based on a Stephen King story, and stars John Cusack (I figured if I was making myself sit through a scary movie, I may as well treat myself to John Cusack). Basically, a writer who writes about scary places to visit insists (against warnings from the hotel manager, played by Samuel L. Jackson) on staying in room 1408, which he'd heard was haunted.

It was pretty good but, really, not that scary - it reminded me of The Shining, but minus the really creepy kid and that lady in the tub (I STILL can't stand a closed shower curtain for fear of what might be behind it).

A fun surprise: The main character happened to live in Hermosa Beach, the little town where I live. I was watching and there was my post office, and my local bar, some nearby streets...and all I could think was, John Cusack was in town and I missed it!?!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Life List Day 222 - Go to a Pumpkin Roll

Today for my list list, I went to a "pumpkin roll" in Manhattan Beach, which was described as a race in which people rolled pumpkins down one of the major city streets that leads to the beach.

My first instinct had been to participate, but I wasn't entirely clear on what a pumpkin roll WAS, so I figured this year I'd just spectate.

I should have brought a pumpkin and raced. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

It was so mobbed I could hardly tell what was going on, but apparently a pumpkin roll involves decorated pumpkins placed on wheels and thrust down the street.

It was all very dorky and silly - just the sort of thing I love being part of, hence my disappointment that I hadn't looked into it more thoroughly & participated.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life List Day 220 - Shop for Produce Locally

Inspired by the book I'm reading, Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - which looks at how the dominance of "industrial farming" is affecting our health and our world - I decided to finally check out the local farmers market, which is every Friday noon to 4 p.m. The market promises "fruits and vegetables that are fresh picked, vine and tree ripened, and sold by certified farmers who grow the products at local farms."

I was overwhelmed by the tables and tables of heaping, unwashed food (I'm soooooooo spoiled by "salad in a bag" and Trader Joe's semi-prepared foods).

I bought some assorted vegetables. If I actually wash and eat them, I may just try the market again. It made me feel so supportive of my local farmers.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life List Day 219 - Buy 800 Threadcount Pillowcases

I have a feeling the next few days of my life list will be fairly uninspired: the ashy air is making me a giant sneezy, wheezy ball of snot. If I can hardly breathe here at the beach, I can't imagine how people closer to the fires are faring.

Anyway, today I decided that my delicate face might enjoy sleeping up against a softer pillowcase (which is an indication of how well my experiment to sleep on my back is going...sigh). I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought some 800 threadcount pillowcases. They were pricey - $49 for two standard pillowcases - but I decided I'm worth it.

I haven't slept on them yet, but I held them against my face ... they make my old pillowcases feel like burlap sacks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life List Day 218 - Stare at the Strangest Ocean I've Ever Seen

Today, I was driving home from an errand at about 6 p.m.- thinking how I hadn't yet done anything for my life list - when I came up over a hill, and in front of me - because of the effects of the wildfires - was the strangest ocean view I've seen in the 20-some years I've lived in California. I was actually in a rush to get home, but I stopped, pulled into a parking lot, and walked to the shore, utterly mesmerized.

I don't even know how to describe it, but I'll try.

The sun was the first thing I noticed - you couldn't miss it - this blazing red ball suspended in the sky.

But EVERYTHING was strange. The sky and ocean seemed to blend together in this crazy puttyish hue with streaks of red - soot, I know, but muted so it didn't seem like pollution but, rather, that the world was wearing a different color for the day. And the water was so still. It looked like a flat expanse of mud, where I could just walk out to the two big tankers floating in the distance. Dolphins jumped from the water, and pterodactyl-sized pelicans were dive-bombing for fish.

The whole thing was so surreal and sort of "land before time."

Anyway, it got me to thinking how just a few miles up the coast and inland from me, fires were still burning, people were losing their homes, and some really pretty areas were being destroyed. I didn't have to turn on the TV to see it because - in an odd way - I was witnessing it right here.

Of course, then I started blubbering.

What can I say? I'm a big ol' crybaby.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life List Day 217 - See Wicked

Tonight, I went with my friend Michele to see the musical Wicked at the Pantages Theater. It's not something I'd normally do (I'm not big on musicals) but my friend said she's been wanting to see it, and I thought, "what the heck."

Actually, I read the book Wicked - which I loved - but wondered how on earth they were going to make play out of it without making everyone leave and slit their wrists. It wasn't exactly a cheery tale.

To my surprise, the play was funny, and a salute to friendship. The production numbers were entertaining, and whenever I see live theater I'm always amazed how these people can remember all their lines...plus sing them! I enjoyed myself quite a bit (although word to the guy in front of me with the world's largest head: SIT STILL).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life List Day 216 - Lunch by Myself on My Patio

I moved into a beach house two months ago, and the best part about it is the patio. I've entertained like crazy on that patio. That patio is the reason I'm paying way more than I should. I totally love it.

I realized - as much as I've partied on evenings and weekends and during the day with others - I've never gone out there alone on a weekday & just enjoyed it.

Today, I did.

I made a Greek Salad, grabbed a book (Omnivore's Dilemma) and had myself a lovely lunch break.

I may have to make that patio a regular thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Life List Day 215 - Make a Mummy

I'm getting into the Halloween spirit & decided to try a new recipe idea that I read about online: Mummies made with hog dogs and crescent roll dough.

Here's the finished product!

Basically, all I did was wrap a roll around a dog, cook it at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes, and add dots of mustard for the eyes.

I think they look pretty mummyish.

My son proclaimed them absolutely delicious - but he may just be saying that to be nice because he loves his mummy.

(Sorry...couldn't resist.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Life List Day 214 - Go to a Clean House Garage Sale

Today I was sitting at a traffic light near my house when I noticed a sign for a garage sale...but not just any garage sale: One for the TV show Clean House on the Style Network. Immediately I was all atwitter - it's one of my favorite shows! Basically, a team of experts goes into the house of someone with an extraordinary amount of clutter, makes them get rid of stuff at a garage sale, and then uses the profits to decorate their house.

I raced home, threw on some makeup (just in case I wound up on TV), and headed over to the sale.

It was almost noon when I got there, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they had good stuff there earlier, because what a bunch of crap! I'd expected it to be mobbed, but there was just a handful of other shoppers.

Still, it was exciting - I saw the host Niecy Nash get into a van (if I'd have been even a minute later I'd have missed her), camera crews were everywhere, and the other "stars" Mark Brunetz (pictured above running some of his lines) and "Yard Sale Diva" Trish Suhr were there.

I chatted with the homeowners (who seemed shellshocked and exhausted) and made a point to buy something ($5 for a 5-CD set of jazz greats and a pyrex bowl) just so I could feel like I participated.

They weren't filming any shoppers at that point so I won't be on TV, but I can't wait to see the episode air!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life List Day 213 - Go to Grow Market

There's a new produce store in Manhattan Beach everybody's talking about called Grow. Today, I finally got around to checking it out.

I've never seen such a tiny, perfect, clean little market in my life. I swear they must polish the vegetables. Of course, the prices reflected how pristine it was: kind of like when you go into some fashion boutique that only has a few racks of clothes and you know a sweater probably costs $3,000.

Actually, that's about what I paid for a pack of strawberries and raspberries.

OK, I paid $10, but still. $10!

They sure were perfect-looking though.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Life List Day 212 - See the Dixie Chicks and the Eagles in Concert

Loved it loved it loved it.

I can't remember the last time I went to a concert where I knew every song (and where everybody there was my age or older).

Anyway, the Chicks were awesome, as expected, at least by me.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Eagles. It was touch and go for a while - they opened with four songs from their new album and I feared they were doing that "we're tired of doing our old stuff, we've moved on" garbage - but then they moved into Hotel California (my favorite) & pretty much rocked the haaaouse after that.

Did I mention everybody was my age or older?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Life List Day 211 - Read the Obituaries

For my book club, I'm reading the book "The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries" by Marilyn Johnson. It looks at obits of all kinds - from those of celebs, "ordinary Joe's" and even the new type of obit created as a result of 9/11 and the desire to honor so many deaths at once.

I realized I've never really sat down and read the obituaries, so today I did.

I went online and read some in the LA and NY Times. It was fascinating! I read about Pavarotti -who was the big name I recognize recently - but then also about Werner Von Trapp (one of the sons in the Von Trapp family that inspired The Sound of Music), a stunt cyclist, a minister known for her hip-hop Friday night service, a crossword puzzle writer, an American Indian who protested the use of Indian names for sports teams, a haiku poet who survived WWII internment camps...and even Robert E. Lee.

I can see how people get hooked on reading these. There's a bit of history, some trivia...and even a tear-jerker here and there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Life List Day 209 - Roast a Chocolate Marshmallow

I was at the grocery store today filling my cart with nutritous items after a weekend of wild-abandon eating, when I came across these:

Chocolate marshmallows!!

Of course, I bought them - put them on the top shelf of the cart cuddled up to all my vegetables so they wouldn't get squished.

Then for dessert - too lazy to make a fire - I stuck one on a fork and roasted it on the gas stovetop.

Not bad!

It would never work as a substitute for the chocolate in a s'more - not chocolatey enough. I was trying to place the flavor myself when, upon giving one to my son, he said, "Mmm, Cocoa Puffs."

Only, of course, ooey gooier.

(BTW, I did a bit of poking about online and apparently these are new & not available everywhere yet, so if you see them, I say grab 'em.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Life List Day 208 - Ride Chaos

Once a year when I'm visiting friends in San Diego, we go to Belmont Park and ride the rollercoaster - one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in California.

Today, we added a new ride to our list: Chaos.

I'm pretty fearless about rides and would normally not have thought of this for my life list, except as I get older I'm more squeamish about the ones that hang me upside-down a lot. I had to talk myself into it.

I'm so glad I did.

Rides make some people scream; they make me laugh: a crazy, giggly, wild, hysterical laugh that comes from nothing but that luscious mix of terror and delight at being tipped and swirled and spun within an inch of your life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life List Day 207 - Yoopers and Laughing

Every year I get together in San Diego with a bunch of Yoopers (people from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) for the weekend. It's something I look forward to because there's no other 2-day period where I'm guaranteed to laugh so much. We've been at it for 17 years now - in the early years, we'd go through gallons of tequila, dance to Jimmy Buffet and stay up all night. Now we're in bed by midnight (maybe 1 a.m. if we're feeling frisky), but it's no less fun.

I nearly missed out this year because of a scheduling conflict, but I jumped over walls, through flaming hoops, etc. to make it happen.

So today for my life list, I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Then I laughed some more.

All in all, my favorite kind of day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life List Day 206 - Drunken Cherries

Today, I tried "drunken cherries" - maraschino cherries soaked in booze for three months. And when I say booze, I mean grain alcohol (which seems scandalous to me...I've heard horror stories about people ODing on it since it's 95% alcohol vs. 40% in most liquor).

It was kind of like cherry roulette: The ones that weren't too booze-soaked were yummy; the ones that had absorbed a lot were not unlike getting novacaine. (We decided it had to do with the quality of cherries. The better the cherries, the more they absorbed.)

I might just make some of my own.

The recipe:

jar maraschino cherries
grain alcohol (Everclear)
strawberry or other fruit-flavored liquour

1. Dump liquid out of cherry jar.
2. Fill with mix of 50% grain alcohol and 50% liquour (or 75%/25% if you really want them to kick butt)
3. Seal and let sit for 3 months.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Life List Day 204 - Go to a Dive Bar With My Dad

For probably 15 years now I've been meaning to check out a local dive bar called The Mermaid - one of those places that opens to thirsty patrons at 7 a.m.

Today, my dad and I went there to have a beer.

It wasn't as divey as I'd expected it would be. As far as the other clientele: If I'm ever looking to meet a guy in his mid-fifties with a scruffy beard, no job and a possible drinking problem, I now know where to find a whole bunch of them to choose from.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Life List Day 203 - Read Trash

Tuesdays I usually do weights at the gym, but today as I was walking in, I saw someone had left to share with their fellow gym-goers a big stack of celebrity gossip-type magazines. I never buy these - and I was about to go about my usual workout - and I thought, "Why not treat myself to an hour reading trash while I workout?"

So I switched things up and plunked myself down on a stationary bike and read while I pedaled.

Nothing like reading about Britney's latest shenanigans to make the time fly by!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Life List Day 202 - A Ride Up the Coast (and an Update on a Kitty)

My parents are visiting from Michigan, and today we'd made no plans other than hanging out. On a whim, I said, "How about we drive up the coast and find someplace for lunch?" They were game, so we did - ending up at Gladstones in Malibu. All in all, a nice last-minute trek.

Oh, and the update on the stray cat situation ...

I found out that what I thought was a ferile cat lives RIGHT NEXT DOOR (and I actually had an appointment today to take her in to the vet to have her ear looked at...I thought it was infected). Anyway, I learned that the cat walks funny because she'd been attacked as a kitten and is now mildly retarded. I'm glad she has a home ... I can just enjoy her when she visits (and she does several times a day) but then give her back. Kind of like a grandma!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Life List Day 201 - Go to the Home Town Fair

Every year my neighbor city Manhattan Beach has a Home Town Fair - food booths, games, beer tents, crafts area, etc. I haven't been since my son was small.

Today, my mom, my cousin Jerri and I all walked to the fair.

It was a nice wallk (about 5 miles round-trip)...which justified our one and only purchase: Kettle Korn.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Life List Day 200 - Two Things I "Hate"

First off: Day 200...woo hoo!!

Anyway, one of the challenges I gave myself when starting this list was to make myself do things even though I think I don't like them. I'm looking for that Green Eggs & Ham Effect: those things I THINK I hate but really haven't given enough of a chance.

Today, I did something that forced me to face two things I don't like: musicals and The Beatles.

My mom was in town, and she DOES like both those things, so I went with her to see the movie Across the Universe, a musical featuring only the music of The Beatles.

I went in trying to have as open a mind as possible, and it was a perfectly enjoyable two hours.

I liked the varying arrangements on The Beatles's songs - it made me appreciate the tune and the lyrics more when I wasn't hearing every song the exact same way I have a thousand times. There was actually a story, and visually it was a delight (althoughI could have skipped the "welcome to my acid trip" scenes). Add to that cameos by Bono, Joe Cocker and Eddie Izzard and it was quite a romp.

Plus Jim Sturgess who played Jude (yes, the characters all had significant names like Max, Prudence and of course Lucy) was, let's just say, quite easy on the eyes.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Life List Day 199 - Buy Impromptu Concert Tickets

My friend, Erin, just sent an email saying that tickets were released for the Eagles/Dixie Chicks concert coming up at the Nokia theater.

Without letting myself consider any of the logistical problems (it's a school night, I don't have a "date," what if Erin typed in the day wrong on her email & I buy tickets for a different night?) I immediately logged onto Ticketmaster and bought two tickets to the concert. I can honestly say, I've never before bought concert tickets within minutes of hearing about it.

I love live music, but the hassle/expense of going to a concert usually drives me away. (And, hello!?! $13.50 per ticket for processing fees!! What kind of racket is that?!??!) Plus parking, crowds, traffic, etc. There are few bands I'd really want to go through all that for ...but I happen to love me some Chicks and some Eagles.

It got me to thinking about concerts...

Best I've been to: Prince
Surprisingly enjoyable: Tom Jones
Best multible bill: X with Social Distortion and Jane's Addiction
Concert I enjoyed the most that I never really listenened to their music before: Metallica
Worst: ELO was on a double-bill with Heart... Heart was awesome, ELO was a real yawner
Artist I wished I'd seen before he died: Israel Kamakawiwo`ole

(Oh, and I realize tomorrow is Day 200!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Life List Day 198 - Set Out the First of My Halloween Decorations

Today, I did something I haven't done in years: decorated for a holiday. OK, not decorated entirely, but got off to a start. I set out these four little Halloween figurines on my fireplace.

This was significant because somewhere along the line I've became very bah-humbug. I stopped decorating for ANY of the holidays...not so much as a tree...a bulb...a pumpkin....a cardboard sign. I'd consider the idea of putting out decorations, but then I'd just think how in a matter of days or weeks I'd just have to take them down again, so why bother?



Anyway, these figurines are just the first in a bunch of decorating I'm inspired to do this year - my son is all hepped up to make fog in a cauldron with dry ice, and I've got a nice porch off which it might be festive to hang some dead bodies.

Afer all, now that I'm living in a house that's over 100 years old, there's great potential to make it good & creepy looking. What better fun for the holidays than scaring the crap out of a bunch of little kids?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Life List Day 197 - Start the Process of Helping a Stray Cat

Since I moved into my house two months ago, I've grown increasingly fond of a stray cat who likes to hang around the area. I hadn't known HOW fond until, a few days ago, my landlady was petting her and said, "This is a ferile cat. I think I should call animal control," and I found myself saying, "No! Don't!"

Next thing I know, I'm putting out food for her, checking to make sure she stops by, worrying when she doesn't.

Today, I took it a step further : I started calling vets. See, the cat's real sweet, but she walks at this odd sideways angle. At first I called her Crazy Kitty, but then I realized it must be some sort of inner ear thing that's throwing off her balance - which makes my nickname for her quite mean, actually - so now I just call her Pretty. (If she's a he, that may be a bit of an unwelcome name, too, but I can't help it...it rhymes so well with kitty).

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out the best thing to do for her. I can't imagine her jumping happily into my car for a trip to the vet. Although she loves to be petted, I tried picking her up once and she spazzed more than my son does when I go for a hug.

I called a couple vets to put out feelers, and I left messages at two organizations - one called Feral Cat Caretakers and The Stray Cat Alliance.

So far what I've figured out is that I should keep feeding her to get her trust. From there, hopefully I'll be able to trap her and get her some help.

After all, who can ignore this cute little face?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Life List Day 196 - Try Something from a Japanese Market

My friend, Michele, needed to pick up something from a local Japanese market, so I decided I'd pick out something, too, and give it a try for my life list.

At Michele's recommendation, I bought this:

A bunch of stringy things encased in a plastic tube wouldn't normally catch my eye - or pique my appetite, for that matter. It looked like something from the movie Alien to me, but it's actually Chinese style seasoned bean thread with vegetables, according to the package.

When I went to serve it, I wasn't sure how to open the package, but I can now say for sure that stabbing it with a knife wasn't so great an idea. Bean threads and juice went flying. Still, there was plenty left to put in a bowl.

I also added cucumber and tomato, and it looked quite lovely:

I took a nice big bite...


The sauce was an Asian vinegarette, which I like, but the texture of the stringy things was an unpleasant surprise. Real unpleasant. Like spit-it-out unpleasant.

So I did what I always do when I have a bunch of food that I don't intend to eat: I tried to unload it on my son.

"Shelly just loves it! She eats it by the truckload!" I said, giving it my sales pitch as I passed it to him (and he's just not observant enough to notice there wasn't any on MY plate).

He tried it. He spit it out.

Ah, well.

You can't win 'em all.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Life List Day 195 - A Taste of Hermosa

Oops, I realize I forgot to post one day & got messed up on the order of things, so now I'm correcting it.

Anyway, today I went to something called A Taste of Hermosa, which was a fair where you could buy small servings of food from local restaurants. I see these types of events advertised here and there- always mean to go to them - so this time I finally did. It was just down the street...literally a three minute walk.

I figured I'd make dinner out of it but, as it turned out, I got there so late most of the food was gone. I guess the early bird gets the fish taco. I had to settle for salad.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Life List Day 194 - Go to a Fundraising Car Wash

My son's football team and cheer squad held a car wash today to raise funds. Pathetic as this sounds, I paid for my wash but almost didn't do it because it sort of creeped me out. Basically, you had to drive your car along a path filled with kids who at different points soaped, rinsed, squeegied and dried it. I didn't like the idea of all these people mobbing my car while I was alone on the inside.

I did it anyway and, as it turned out, it WAS a little odd - like being attacked by locusts, only in Quicksilver tshirts.

But it was also very cute, all that teenagery industriousness... and worth the five bucks alone just to see my son toiling without it being me who told him to.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Life List Day 193 - Girls' Night Out

Woo hoo! Today, four of us moms hit the town to see Greg Behrendt, (the guy who wrote that book He's Just Not That Into You) performing live comedy.

I was afraid he might be corny, but he was actually hilarous - my stomach muscles hurt by the end of the night from all the laughing. So I wonder, does that count as a workout?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Life List Day 192 - Find Out My Health Care Maximum

Michael Moore was on Oprah today, talking about his movie Sicko and the issue of health care coverage in America. Since I'm self-employed, I have to pay for my own health insurance - and let me say, it's no bargain, even for the crappy HMO I signed up for.

Anyway, Oprah mentioned on the show that it's important you know your health care limit - that some insurance companies cap your coverage at, say, $150,000, which doesn't go very far if you become seriously ill.

So the second the show was over, I called my insurance company and asked what my maximum coverage is.

Apparently, mine is "unlimited," and so is my son's.

That's a nice little piece of mind, although I know I should be more responsible about knowing exactly what I am signed up for, God forbid (knock wood and all that) I ever really do need it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Life List Day 191 - Get a Taste of Local Politics

My friend Janice was hosting a "meet and greet" with Michael DiVirgilio, a candidate for Hermosa Beach city council. I wasn't planning on going, but she pressured me with the magic words: "I'll bet you've never been to a political meet & greet before. You can put it on your life list!"

I'm so easily manipulated.

Anyway, I meeted & greeted...had a glass of wine...and chatted about local issues like street repair, drunks peeing on buildings, neighborhood safety and other issues that make up the day-to-day issues of a small beach town.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Life List Day 190 - Watch AFI's Top 100 Films...And a Promise

OK, this is going to be a a long-term one, but I watched a show tonight that blew me away. It was AFI's top 100 films of all time. I've seen a handful of them - read many of the books without seeing the movies - but I got really excited about the idea of seeing them. I put a * by the ones I've seen (26 out of 100). I'm totally excited about seeing the rest. What have YOU seen?

3 CASABLANCA (1942) *
4 RAGING BULL (1980)
6 GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) read the book
9 VERTIGO (1958) 61 52
10 WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939) * and read the book
11 CITY LIGHTS (1931)
12 SEARCHERS, THE (1956)
13 STAR WARS (1977) *
14 PSYCHO (1960)
15 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
17 GRADUATE, THE (1967) *
18 GENERAL, THE (1927)
21 CHINATOWN (1974)
22 SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) *
23 GRAPES OF WRATH, THE (1940) (read the book)
25 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) (read the book)
27 HIGH NOON (1952)
28 ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
35 ANNIE HALL (1977) *
36 BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE (1957) * but want to see it again
40 SOUND OF MUSIC, THE (1965) *
41 KING KONG (1933)
45 SHANE (1953)
48 REAR WINDOW (1954) *
51 WEST SIDE STORY (1961) *
52 TAXI DRIVER (1976)
53 DEER HUNTER, THE (1978)
54 M*A*S*H (1970)
56 JAWS (1975) *
57 ROCKY (1976) *
58 GOLD RUSH, THE (1925
59 NASHVILLE (1975)
60 DUCK SOUP (1933)
63 CABARET (1972)
64 NETWORK (1976)
68 UNFORGIVEN (1992)
69 TOOTSIE (1982) *
70 CLOCKWORK ORANGE, A (1971) * wish I hadn't...super upsetting
72 SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE (1994) ***********LOVE!!!
76 FORREST GUMP (1994) *
78 MODERN TIMES (1936)
79 WILD BUNCH, THE (1969)
80 APARTMENT, THE (1960) *
81 SPARTACUS (1960)
82 SUNRISE (1927)
83 TITANIC (1997) *
84 EASY RIDER (1969)
86 PLATOON (1986)
87 12 ANGRY MEN (1957)
89 SIXTH SENSE, THE (1999) *
90 SWING TIME (1936)
92 GOODFELLAS (1990)
94 PULP FICTION (1994) *
97 BLADE RUNNER (1982)
99 TOY STORY (1995) *
100 BEN-HUR (1959)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Life List Day 189 - Try Cherimoya

I've been wanting to try one of these forever. Back when I worked in the rideshare office, I remember the gals in the breakroom oohing and ahhing over them when they'd be in season.

So today, I tried a Cherimoya ($3.97 for one about the size of an apple, which I purchased at Vons...it's the first time I've seen them there). I just cut it in half and dug in with a spoon, as if I were eating a yogurt.

YUM! It was sort of custardy, and tasted surprisingly tropical - I'd expected appley and got mangoey.

Those seeds were a nuisance but, overall, a fun, fruity experience.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Life List Day 188 - Lucy, Lucy, Mike, Jasper, Janelle

OK, nothing earth shattering, but the above-mentioned people I haven't seen in far too long, and after much back & forth, I finally got them down for a visit. I tend to get in ruts inviting the same people over again & again, so it was great reconnecting with old (and by old, I mean VALUED, not wrinkly) friends.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Life List Day 187 - Make a Fire On a Cold, Rainy Morning

This morning was cold & rainy - just the kind of day to curl up in front of a fire.

And, as luck would have it, I now have a fireplace.

So even though it was only 10 AM, I made myself a roaring fire (you've got to admit, it's a beauty!)

Good thing I didn't wait - by 2 PM the storm blew off and I would have missed out on all that coziness.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Life List Day 186 - Eat Wonder Bread

I recently heard that the Wonder company declared bankruptcy. Today, feeling nostalgic (and to the delight of my son, who normally only gets whole grain) I bought a loaf of white Wonder bread.

When I got home, I ate a piece in the way Wonder bread should be eaten: crusts pulled off and the soft bready part wadded up into a ball until it forms a dough.

I have to say, it's still good!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Life List Day 185 - Arrrrgh! Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day ... a Day Late

I forgot all about my favorite holiday, Talk Like a Pirate Day
yesterday, Sept. 19, because I was in Vegas...staying at, ironically enough, Treasure Island.

Today, I figured better late than never, so I did what I always do to celebrate the day: grab a bag of Pirate's Booty, watch Pirates of the Caribbean, and exchange bad pirate jokes with my son, i.e.,

What are a pirate's favorite kind of socks?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life List Day 184 - Go to Vegas to See My Mom

My mom was making her first trip to Las Vegas with some friends (from Michigan), and - even though the timing was bad for me for a thousand reasons - I made the drive up to see her anyway. With traffic, it was a six-hour trip each way. Yes, that's TWELVE hours of driving in about a 24-hour period.

I don't get to see my mom nearly enough - so it was totally worth it to get to party with her and her friends, even if just for a few hours.

I'd say more about it, but you know what they say about what happens in Vegas...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Life List Day 183 - Indulge My Son's Idea to Make a Calvin & Hobbes Quiz

Somehow Danny and I got in contest quizzing each other about Calvin and Hobbes trivia (best comic strip EVER!!), when he said, "Hey, you should put a quiz in your blog." Because I'm starved for any scrap of interest my son shows in me, I took him up on his idea. (I'm not sure how "life listy" this is, but we had fun making it, so as far as I'm concerned, it counts!)

Calvin and Hobbes Quiz
By Jill & Danny

1. In the first Calvin & Hobbes strip, what does Calvin use to lure Hobbes into his net?
2. What’s Susie’s last name?
3. When Calvin plays with a box, it has different functions based on where its opening is – what’s the function for the box when it’s open to the bottom, to the top and to the side?
4. What’s Calvin’s favorite game, in which the only rule is that you can never play the same way twice?
5. What does Calvin’s club name GROSS stand for?
6. What’s Calvin’s teacher’s name?
7. When Calvin puts on a cape, what’s the name of the superhero he becomes?
8. Who wrote Calvin & Hobbes?
9. What’s Calvin’s favorite bedtime book?
10. What did Calvin save up cereal boxtops for and wait for with great anticipation?
11. What’s Calvin’s favorite cereal?
12. What is the noodle incident?
13. Calvin finds an injured animal that eventually dies – what kind of animal was it?
14. How old is Calvin?
15. According to one of the Calvin and Hobbes book titles, what is the noise that scientific progress makes?
16. What name does school bully Moe sometimes call Calvin?
17. The strip ended in 1995- what were the last three words Calvin spoke?


1. A tuna fish sandwich
2. Derkins
2. Bottom is transmorgrifier, top is time machine and side is duplicator
4. Calvinball
5. Get Rid Of Slimy girlS
6. Miss Wormwood
7. Stupendous Man
8. Bill Watterson
9. Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie
10. A propeller beanie
11. Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs
12. It’s only alluded to but it’s never explained
13. A raccoon
14. Six
15. Boink
16. Twinkie
17. “Let’s go exploring”

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Life List Day 182 - Put Flowers in My Salad

I was invited to a friend's for dinner tonight, and I planned to bring one of my favorite salads: mixed greens, goat cheese, sweetened almonds, dried cherries and a vinegarette dressing.

While I was shopping for ingredients, I noticed a pack of "edible flowers" in the produce section.

I've never eaten flowers before, so I bought them to add to the salad.

They didn't add much in the line of taste, but they sure made it prettier!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day 181 - After Karaoke Plans Are Thwarted, I Film My Rodents Instead

I went to my friend Janice's block party today, excited because the invitation said there'd be karaoke - which I've never done - so there'd be one for my life list. After all, I don't live on that block - what do I care if I torture them with my singing voice?

Alas, the karaoke guy showed up late and ultimately pimped out. No karaoke. A life list crisis. That's the problem with this doing something new every day: If the thing I had planned falls through, then what?

I got home about 10 PM, trying to figure out some little nugget of joy I could find that might qualify for my list. Then it hit me: when I think "joy," I think of my guinea pigs, Joan and Scruffy. They're cuddly, squeaky, and no one else in this house is ever nearly as excited to see me as they always seem to be.

I've been meaning to film them forever. After all, the life span of a rodent isn't all that long (3-5 years is average). Every now and then when they're not as noisy as usual, I tiptoe over to their cage, dreading that all might not be well. I'd never forgive myself if I didn't document their cuteness.

So tonight, that's what I did.

Here's a little sample:

Joan and Scruffy Star in "Sibling Rivalry"

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life List Day 180 - Tour Camarillo, CA

I was up in Camarillo to meet with a book club and - since I got there early - my friend, Monica (who is from there & whose mom's book club we were going to) toured me around the town for a couple hours.

It felt like one of Huell Howser's shows...where he visits seemingly ordinary places in California and uncovers their secret charms. I only knew about Camarillo as the home of outlet malls, so I was pleasantly surprised at all the cute old buildings, sweeping farms, and interesting twists and turns.

Plus, coming from a beach town where things are always bustling, it was strange to see that not that far from home is a place that actually gets dark at night...and utterly soundless.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life List Day 179 - Sleep on My Back

My back's been feeling a bit twingey lately, so I finally decided to follow the advice of the chiropractor I saw several years ago: Sleep on my back.

Here's my usual favorite sleep position (only substitute a pillow for the weapon, and put me in jammies):

I have to say, it was really hard to sleep on my back. Everything in me wanted to flip over.

I stuck with it, and eventually I did sleep...only to wake up on my stomach again around 3 AM.

I gave sleeping on my back one more try, but when I woke up at 5 AM again on my stomach, it just felt too good to give up.

Ah, well...I figure it'll take getting used to. I'll try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Life List Day 178 - Triple Feature

I could also call this "why I'm behind on my deadlines..."

Today, I rented The Bourne Identity - which I've never seen - because my son said he heard it was good. While I was at the video store, I also grabbed Grosse Pointe Blank and Serenity, figuring I'd watch them another time.

Instead, I parked my butt on the couch and watched them back to back to back.

I haven't done that since...well, probably ever!

It inspired me to think of my ultimate Triple Feature, which was hard because there are so many movies I love for different reasons.

After much deliberation, here's the top 3:

Pride & Prejudice, The Shawshank Redemption and Groundhog Day.