Wednesday, May 31, 2006
While the acting from Greg, Rebecca Romijn, and of course, Robert DeNiro was great, the movie SUCKED!!! It's horrible. They could have done so much with it too.
A clue that even the director/writers/producers didn't know what do to with this movie... there are 5 alternative endings. All terrible. None of them made sense.
All through the movie, they just keeps calling out for 'Adam' - the kid's name. What an easy script to write. Just put 'Adam' all over several pages, and you're done.
Oh Greg, don't do something like this again!!! It was painful to watch, even with you in it.
Monday, May 29, 2006
My parents just didn't want to force anything on him, but they have to understand - without the meds, Bubbles is not going to get better. Just sitting on the floor, you could see he was having a hard time breathing. Frustrating. Sometimes just loving them (the pets) is not enough. You can't explain what you are doing, so you just have to do it - because you know it's for their own good. So, hopefully, my parents were able to copy what we did last night and give Bubbles his meds.
On another notes, movie nights have started again. All the TV shows are over with for the summer (well, until the mid-season stuff starts), so we're free to catch up on the stack of movies we've accumulated. So far, we've watched Wedding Crashers (very funny - I love Owen Wilson) and Sahara (bombed in theaters, but I liked it a lot - Matthew McConaughey makes it worth it).
Sunday, May 28, 2006
He's a 15 pound chihuahua. He's not fat - he's all muscle. Here he is (on the far left) with Tiny (yes, Tiny and Bubbles) and a cute stuffed little fella. I love this picture. Bubbles is doing his "I'm so cute" with the big black eyes pose.
Tiny and Bubbles live with my parents, along with two cats, Toby and Chelsea. Tiny came from a neighbor who learned that they weren't allowed to have pets in their building - so my mom took her in. Her original owner still comes to visit every once in a while. The two cats were kittens of one of the stray cats my mom feeds in the backyard. There were three, but Cocoa has been adopted by a family friend.
So, yes, my parents pretty much have a mini zoo in their home. Bubbles turns 15 this July. So I'm worried. Poor little guy has lost his appetite, and refuses to take his medication. We don't know what to do!!! He has another vet appointment on Wednesday, but he needs his medication. We're going over there tonight to try to help get him to take his syrup.
I love all the animals dearly, but I can't imagine losing any of them. I know my mom is going to be miserable. I know they don't live that long - but they are so much part of the family. I don't know how we're going to handle it when any of them 'leave' us. Monte and Bubbles are the same age. Tiny is only 2 years younger than them. The cats just turned 4 this month, so they're ok.
I just hope we get Bubbles to take his medicine tonight.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
We checked back into the Copthorne Tara Hotel, and after resting up a few minutes we put on our walking shoes and went out in search for food. We stopped at a local pub called the Goat Tavern. I had sausages and mash again, and my husband tried the fish & chips. Both were very good. A quick ride on the Underground and we soon found ourselves at St. Paul's Cathedral.
I have seen many churches in my life, but this was definitely one of the most beautiful. We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I noticed that people in London actually obeyed the signage. In Paris, though there were signs, people still took pictures, so I followed suit. But no one even had a camera out - but, being a photographer at heart, I had to sneak a few. This was too beautiful not to have at least one keepsake photograph. We walked around the entire cathedral and finally sat down in one of the pews. This church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who is also buried in the crypt of this magnificent structure. The plaque above his tomb reads "If it is a memorial you seek, look about you." How true...
The great fire of 1666 destroyed most of London, and with it the first St. Paul's Church. There were some figures in the crypt that were discovered in the aftermath of the fire. These stone figures endured such immense heat that the paint on them fused onto the stone - and caused it to look like wood - oak actually. I couldn't get a picture of it unfortunately.
As an added bonus to our little visit, the BBC was setting up to record some sort of orchestral performance, so as we were sitting in the church, they were playing some practice pieces and it sounded so wonderful.
A short ride on the Tube again and we were at the Tower of London. It wasn't quite what I expected. It's always a bit disorienting visiting something so historical in the middle of downtown London. But you walk through the main entrance and you're in another world. Thrown back into history, you're suddenly surrounded by high stone walls - flanked by several tall towers. The area is literally its own little town.
What thrilled me the most were two things. There were several items that belonged to King Henry VIII (whom I've always been fascinated by), and of course, the Crown Jewels. Here is a suit of armor worn by Henry VIII.
Check out the detail - this is from the horse's armor. Fabulous, isn't it?
I wasn't able to take any pictures of the Crown Jewels. Way too much security. All I can say is, WOW. I have never seen diamonds that huge in my life. I think one was 530 carats, and the other was 317 carats. You basically stand on a people-mover and ride along as it slowly takes you past several exhibits of the jewels. Of course, one time was not enough for me - I got right back around and had a second look. Absolutely stunning.
Near the Towers, in the distance, is the Tower Bridge. We didn't go on it, but it's pretty stunning.
Our next stop from the Tube was the Houses of Parliament. Actually, as soon as you step out of the station, you're right at the foot of Big Ben. While we were walking across the bridge to the London Eye, Big Ben's massive bells rang in the hour. We've been lucky that at almost every major cathedral, or in this case, at the base of the world famous clock, we were able to experience something - like the bells ringing at Notre Dame, or the orchestra rehearsing at St. Pauls.
We bought our tickets for the London Eye and within 15 minutes, we were packed into our own glass walled 'capsule' and on our way. It was about a 30 minute ride total, and at the very top of the wheel, we had a wonderful view of the city.
It was a long day, with so much crammed in - we were exhausted. Back to the hotel for a quick rest and then back out to have dinner at 'Memoirs of India'. This place was recommended by the bartender at the Goat Tavern earlier that afternoon.
Dinner was ok. There is a restaurant that we frequent in San Francisco called India Clay Pot. We LOVE that place. So, any India restaurant we go to automatially gets a biased opinion. The food at Memoirs was OK, not great. Just remember, if you ask for water, don't let them con you into giving you fancy bottled water. And if they ask you if you want to try their appetizer breads, it's not free. We complained about that - so they gave us the water free, but still. Just watch out.
That was our first full day in London.
The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel - yummy full English breakfast complete with thick slices of bacon, sausage, eggs, sauteed mushrooms, and beans. Our hotel is near Kensington Garden, so that was our first stop of the day.
Kensington Palace is the last home of the late Princess Diana. I love Princess Diana. I stayed up to watch her marry Prince Charles back in the 80's, and I watched her funeral as well. And how incredibly lucky we were that there happened to be a travelling exhibit of some of her gowns (accumulated from the different charities that they were sold to)! The one most people will recognize is the black velvet one she wore when she danced with John Travola at the White House. It's an interesting tour of the palace, but again, no pictures. I sneaked this one of an old throne that Princess Diana actually posed in before, but almost immediately after, we had people following us, so I put the camera away.
Our next stop was Westminster Abbey. Again, no pictures inside, but it was incredible. It's basically a giant tomb. Everyone you could imagine in royal history, writing history, political...
There was a large tomb for Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scotts, a world famous memorial to Shakespear, and I couldn't tell if these were actual burial sites or just memorials, but Chaucer, Charles Dickens, even the Bronte Sisters were represented. Fascinating.
After the Abbey, we headed to Buckingham Palace. We couldn't go in, as tours are only for a couple of months during the summer. So, here's a shot of the outside.
Near Buckingham Palace is another building called the Queen's Gallery. It houses the Royal families treasures from over the years. Like past king's china sets, more crown jewels, furniture, paintings... Basically a mini museum.
Our last stop in London, HARRODS!
This place is more incredible than I could ever imagine. I only post couple of pictures, but these first few are of the food courts. Each room represents a different type of food. There is a meats room, seafood room, sweets room, prepared foods room, a room that is like a mini supermarket - there are a couple more, but I don't remember. It's just amazing.
The building takes up a full city block, and it has everything. From Juicy Couture to Balanciaga, all the major design houses are represented here in their own custom designed areas. There is a pet store, a toy kingdom, small and large household appliances. Nightstands to full patio furniture sets. Amazing. I think if I lived in London, I would never shop anywhere else.
This building also houses the worlds most amazing Egyptian themed escalator. Beautiful. On the ground floor of the escalator lobby is the memorial to Dodi Al Fayed and Princess Diana. As you may know, Dodi's father owns Harrods. The memorial consists of a fountain, where all the coins are collected for charity, a wine glass taken from the dinner table where Diana and Dodi had their last meal at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Paris, and the engagement ring Dodi had custom made for Diana - but never had a chance to give to her. I think the plaque said he had just picked up the ring two days before the accident. It's all very sad, but it's a nice memorial. I do think they could have picked a better picture of Diana though.
So, our last night in London. Hubby was not feeling well at all. He was downright sick. We're thinking it was the fish and chips he had the day before. Poor thing. Good thing the trip is almost over. We ended up ordering room service for dinner.
This next picture is a shot of the TV of our new favorite gameshow. We started watching this in Paris. Loosely translated, it's called Take It or Leave It. It's fantastic. Though we didn't understand everything, we knew enough French and understood the concept of the show.
Basically, there are 20 boxes. Behind each box, we think, is standing a family or friend of the contestant - who is sitting at a table, with the host, in the middle of all of them. As each number is selected, the family member opens the box and reveals the prize that the contestant will NOT be getting. These prizes range from a cheap old tie to 500,000 euros. Sound familiar?
We were totally hooked on this show. In London, we found an Italian version of this show. We thought, wow, this would be so great if they had this in the U.S. Well, after we came back from vacation, we discovered that the new show Deal or No Deal is the U.S. version - and it's been on since last December. I'm not a huge Howie Mandell fan, so while I knew he was hosting some new hit game show on TV, I never watched it. The U.S. version is much more serious, dark and dramatic, and they use beautiful models to open metal suitcases - while the European versions are very 'party' like. If a contestant picked a box with a low amount, he/she would be so happy they would run up and hug the family member who opened the box. There would be loud music playing in the background - and the audience would cheer.
We had a 4am wake up call the next morning and by 5am we were in a cab, on our way to Heathrow. As I may have mentioned before, or at least my friends know this, my husband and I have NO luck when it comes to travelling. We arrived at the airport at 6am. I had to get my detax papers stamped for my new purse (remember that - you don't have to pay tax if you spend over a certain amount in one store) and the office didn't open until 7am. Our flight was at 8am.
When we got the stamp done, we looked up at the Departures board and they said our flight was in it's finally boarding call. WHAT? An hour before takeoff? Of course, the gate was the farthest one from where we were in the terminial so we RAN. Got to the gate behind several other passengers who were huffing and puffing, only to realize that the plane was not boarding yet - and that the signage was something uncontrollable by the airline - and that Heathrow Airport does that. @#($&(*#%^%$_!!!
So, we finally get onboard, we take off. In the middle of the flight, the PA comes on asking if anyone has any medical certification. Now, since 9/11, anything out of the ordinary puts me in a panic - especially on a plane. There's no where to run. Anyway, we discovered that an elderly woman was having heart complications and we ended up landing in Newfoundland for an hour and a half.
Chain reaction started - we missed our connecting flight in Chicago. We were too late to get on the next flight that was 45 minutes after ours. So we were stuck there for 2 more hours. Meanwhile, my husband is sick as a dog - sweating bullets - and there's no where for him to rest except for making himself a makeshift bed on the floor in the middle of the waiting area. Normally, that would just gross me out - I don't lay down where people walk all over. But in this case, my husband had to get some rest.
We finally got on the plane, and ended up sitting on it for over an hour and a half, because some pallate got stuck in the cargo hold and they were trying to unwedge it. Yep. Just our luck.
So, basically, 26 hours later - we finally made it home. It took almost a week after that for my husband to get back to normal. That was a rough ride home for him. I felt so bad and helpless.
Kind of a downer for the end of our trip, but we have lots of great memories to enjoy (almost 850 pictures). I don't know if we'll ever go back to London again, but I already miss Paris and can't wait to go back.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
First stop from our hotel was to our favorite bakery. After getting a bag full of pastries and a delicious ham/egg/cheese sandwich to go - we headed to the Metro. A short ride later, we boarded a train that would take us to Versaille. I must say, the Metro in Paris is wonderful. The map is a little intimidating, but if you just look at the beginning or ending destination of one of the train lines, you know you're good. We took the Metro everywhere and never got lost (wish I could say that for London, but that's an upcoming story).
We arrived in Versailles in about 30 minutes, and I really didn't know what to expect. The area looked like any other part of the city, that is until you walk up to the tall wrought iron and gold gates that guard the entrance to the Versaille estate.
The estate is huge. It's more than huge. It's freakin huge! I can't even describe it. There a palace, two mini palaces, and a giant lake, and acres of land. Wow. See the sky from the picture? I wasn't exaggerating about the dark and gloomy day.
Our museum pass got us into the main part of the palace, but we had to pay extra to see the King's Apartments. We would have had to pay to see the gardens too, but we decided to skip that.
The palace is pretty sparse, but amazing all the same. To think someone actually lived there... The furniture was very ornate. Lots of gold - on the ceilings, the furniture, the fireplaces. Just gold everywhere.
This is the ceiling from the 'in-house' chapel.
A couple of random shots of bedrooms and furniture. Most of the furniture looked the same - but with different color schemes. I loved this light blue color. The fireplaces were so big, they didn't just have logs on display to make them not look as emty - they were trees.
I think the most famous part of the palace is the Hall of Mirrors. Wouldn't you know it? Half of it was covered for renovations. So, while pictures in my tour book look amazing, this is all I got.
So during the whole walkthrough, I could see a 'train' taking tourists from the main palace to the Grande Trianon and the Petite Trianon (the summer palaces on the grounds) from the windows. I could also see the large downpours of rain. By the time we were done with the main palace and walked outside, there were large puddles everywhere, but luckily it had stopped raining.
We asked 4 people, "Where do we catch the train to the Grande Trianon?" Our French is not that bad, but no one could or would tell us where to get that darn train. We ended up walking about 2 miles around the gardens to the Trianon. I was so irritated by then, I didn't even really care what it looked like. In short, it's a smaller version of the main palace. Same kind of furniture, and a couple more 'game' rooms. Still beautiful, but the thought of having to walk back to the main palace kind of destroyed the mood for both of us.
Turns out, you have to buy the garden ticket (which we had decided to pass on). You catch the train in the garden. It takes you to the middle of the garden, and then up to the Trianon. Well, we managed to walk through the public part of the garden (which is very beautiful, by the way) and caught the train back to the main palace. It was pouring again - and my poor hubby was sitting on the seat on the outside of the train. His whole right side, sopping wet.
But check out these pictures. Can you imagine waking up and seeing that lake right outside your window? There were rental boats for the lake, but with the weather the way it was, we decided against it.
At this point, we walked from the main palace back to the train and headed back to the center of Paris. But we did make one important stop first. The Eiffel Tower! Five days and we hadn't seen it yet.
Folks, I don't care how many pictures you see of this structure, there is nothing like walking towards it and just basking in its massiveness. It's incredible. I was in awe when I saw it from a distance my first day in Paris - and I was just dumbstruck when I saw it in front of me. It's amazingly beautiful.
We bought our tickets and went up to the way top. What a sight. Paris is just such a beautiful city. Although the weather was horrible for most of the day, it was sunny when we were at the tower. And though I was freezing from the bitter cold wind at the top, look at what was waiting for us.
Not just one rainbow, but two! If you click on the picture for the bigger shot, you'll see the second one on the right.
I think we were up there for a little over half an hour - and it was time to go. We were tired, and again, our poor feet had been pushed to the limit already. We crossed a large park and were able to get far enough away from the tower to get some full structure shots.
Also at the end of the park was a unique exhibit. I dubbed it "the peace exhibit" only because the white writing on these large glass plates said 'peace' in various languages.
We tooke the Metro back to the hotel for a rest, and then we went back to that fabulous Italian restaurant, Fuxia, for another incredible meal.
One last day in Paris to go. But there's really nothing to tell. As you may remember, we had saved our shopping day for our last day there - Sunday. Everything was closed. We ended up walking along the Champs-Elysees and the neighborhood where our hotel was. It was a nice relaxing day. We found the Four Season's George V Hotel (if you look at the link, check out the pictures of the rooms). I had to go in. It's beautiful. It's another world in there, but one where you don't feel comfortable talking too loud - and there's constantly someone watching over you. We did a quick walk through the lobby and continued on our 'wandering' self tour. I forgot what it's called, be I saw the hotel where they filmed the last episode of Sex and the City.
We also found the Laduree patisserie that was recommended to us by my friend. They're famous for their unique flavored macaroons. But we looked at the prices and decided to skip them this time. They were about $3.50 for a small cookie. Plus we were full from lunch, so we didn't want to force it down either. Next time though, I would like to try one.
This was perhaps the only day our feet didn't feel like they were on fire by the time we got back to the hotel for a rest. We lounged around until dinner time - and unfortunately, the restaurant we picked for our last meal wasn't all that.
After dinner, we walked back through to the Louvre and wandered a bit through the courtyard. The last visitors of the museum were coming out of the massive glass pyramid. The buzz of the day was winding down. It was almost 9pm and we settle on the steps in front of the Grande Arc (a smaller verion of the Arc de Triomphe) - they actually face each other - separated by the long Champs-Elysees. We tried to get some pictures, but it was hard to zoom in with our little digital camera.
9pm came, and we looked over to the Eiffel Tower. The soft pale glow of the structure was replaced by a billion flashing lights. It was like a giant Christmas tree. Amazing.
My husband and I just huddled in the cold and watched the lights for the full 10 minute show before heading back to the hotel to pack (the show comes on every hour at night, just so you know).
What a romantic way to end our visit to Paris.
Last stop... London.
I had selected USPS Priority Mail - which usually takes 2 - 3 days tops. Turns out that they don't ship the meat in dry ice - like all other companies do. They use regular ice - and expected me to change my shipping method to Overnight Express - for $45. The order itself was only $15. Uh, I don't think so. Needless to say, I cancelled my order. Bummer.
Funny thing is... when we got to my in-laws, my father-in-law actually made Cevapcici. He called his brother in Serbia for the recipe. So, we ended up with a great meal anyway! He doesn't know we tried to order all this stuff yet, so I'm going to try to find another place and order it again - hopefully, we'll have it in time for Father's day.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Today, I am in a really good mood. Why? Because I finally found a children's book that I've been searching for for years! It's called The Doll House Caper. I remember I used to check this out from our school library at least once a month. I loved it. For the life of me, I can't remember the story itself anymore - and I couldn't remember the title (hence the long search). I took a chance and ordered another book a few years ago, but it was the wrong one. I remember the words "Doll House" in the title - but my searches never brought this one up.
Somehow today, I plugged in the right wording on an eBay search and recognized the cover picture of the book immediately. What confirmed it for me? Check out the doll with his head in the toilet on the second floor of the house. I don't know why, but I totally remember that! I knew - this is it!
Needless to say, the book will be safely treasured in my hands in about 5 days. I can't wait. I used to read a lot, but there is only a small handful that I really loved and wished I could have had in my personal library. This is definitely one of those books. This came out in 1975, so by the time I was old enough to enjoy it, it was out of print. I could only get it at the library - we could never find it in a store.
Now I'm on a nostalgia search - what other books from my past can I add to my grown-up collection? Kind of hard when you remember book covers, but not the titles or really the story.
Monday, May 08, 2006
That's what happened to me today! I was reminicing about some of the unique foods we had during our visit to Belgrade earlier this year (yes, I like to think about food). There was a meat dish called Cevapcici (chi-vap-chi-chi) that was basically ground/minced lamb and beef with seasonings, shaped into, well, 'meat sticks' and grilled (see picture). Fabulous. You're supposed to eat it with raw chopped onions, but I just ate them plain with this bread called Lepinja (second picture). It's just bread, but soooo good.
Another thing that I loved was this 'cheese' like spread called Kajmak. It's very creamy, and so rich. It's completely white and the texture is like a smoother cottage cheese, but the difference is that it's so soft that you can mush the little 'bumps' with your tongue and can't even feel it. Cottage cheese bumps are hard. I had so much of it with the bread, by the time the Cevapcici came, I was full. Of course, I wasn't eating it by the spoon full - just thinking about it my cholesterol goes up. Geez! It doesn't look all that appetizing, but trust me, it was good stuff!
I couldn't believe that something that good could only be limited to Eastern Europe. So, I did a little search and VOILA! I found Balkan Pearls. They're based in Vermont, but I guess they import these specialty items from Europe? Don't know. I thought meats were illegal to import - so I don't want to ask. I put in my order of the meat, bread, and 'cheese' I know I'm on my 'special' diet, but it's mother's day this weekend. We're heading over to my in-laws for a big family dinner. Family that consists mainly of Europeans who have not had this food in years. Boy will they be surprised!
I just hope the package comes by Friday - and more importantly, I hope it's good. Well, I already plan to 'try' a little of it first when it gets here, and if it sucks, well, I just won't bring it this weekend. But that would be a major disappointment.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
J called me around that time and said his friend invited him to the LA concert. Fine. I asked him to get me a program. A few days later, he calls me again - it's very hard to hear him because of all the background noise. Where is he? Sitting in the audience of the Las Vegas concert waiting for the show to start. He went twice! His other friend had an extra ticket and instead of maybe mentioning 'me', he calls me from the concert. I would have bought the ticket from the friend. Thanks... That call was just rude in my book.
Now, this isn't out of bitterness, but I'm glad I didn't end up getting tickets to that concert, because I saw it on DVD later, and I didn't like it at all. I ended up forwarding through most of it. I didn't like her song selection and (do I dare say it?) it was a boring show. Sorry Madonna!
I did get tickets to Madonna's last concert, the Reinvention Tour, and I swear it was meant to be. It was FANTASTIC! I loved every second of it. Good thing I got lucky with tickets too because this show didn't get put on DVD - so I wouldn't have seen any of it (except little exerpts from her "I've Got a Secret" MTV special - which also didn't make it to DVD). This concert was the best!
So, my gripe of the day... J calls me this morning and tells me his friend just invited him to Madonna's latest concert in LA. The Confessions on a Dancefloor concert. I do not like this new album, so I didn't put in any effort to get tickets for her San Jose show. I'm not big on disco. J just went on and on about it, and I couldn't stand it anymore. I told him that the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas sent me an invitation for a three nights stay, plus 2 tickets to the concert at the MGM on May 27th. That's not a lie, but why would I tell people that?
Why am I not going? Like I said, I don't like this new album, and in reality - a free concert in Vegas means: buying plane tickets to get there, gambling (you have to gamble or you'll never get invited for future events), food expenses... Free is not "free" when it comes to Las Vegas. If we didn't just come back from Europe, I might have considered it. I guess J got a little embarassed or something because he had to get off the phone pretty soon after that.
I just don't understand, why does he do that?
Totally reminds me of the Giada book signing incident, only in that case, my friend has apologized many times since then - and I know she totally didn't mean to not tell me about it. She forgot. I accept that. But J calls to gush and I don't like that at all. It's just rude.