Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Friday!

Yes, yes, I KNOW it's Halloween!  But I couldn't NOT show you this picture.  Last night I took Fisher down the street to a park we go to almost every evening.  I live in a little row house and don't have a backyard, so the parks around here SAVE us.  Because Fisher?  LOVES TO RUN.

She has had a sore paw for the past few days and missed going to doggy daycare this week.  To compensate, I brought out her special pink ball for her to play with.  She LOVES her special pink ball.  Or any ball for that matter.  And cookies.

This weekend brings the time change and with it, earlier evenings.  I just didn't want to forget my girl and these moments we've had where she's happy to play until I tell her it's time to go home.  Instead of being disappointed we're leaving, she jumps into the car as if it's her favorite place to be.

Once home, she runs up the stairs, gives the cat a big lick on the top of his head and then sits down and looks at me as if to say "What fun thing are we doing next?!  Sitting on the couch?Really?!  YAY!"

And if anyone is still wondering why I have a dog?  THAT is why.

What fun things are you all doing this weekend?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Will They Ever Learn?

We're having a Halloween potluck at work on Friday.  I am bringing mini burgers, or sliders.  This, apparently, is something the guys at work have been looking forward to ever since I signed up a couple of weeks ago.  I had no idea how much until today.

Co-worker #1:  SSG, I've been thinking about your sliders.
SSG:  Oh?

CW #1:  Yeah, I've been worrying about how you're going to cook them at the office.
SSG:  Didn't you tell me yesterday guys don't worry or stew about stuff?
CW #2 jumps in:  We don't, we FIX things.
SSG:  So what about my burgers are you going to fix?

CW #2:  We think you should keep them warm in a crock pot.
SSG:  Do you have a crock pot?
CW #1 & #2:  No.

CW #3:  Maybe you could cook them on a hot plate?
CW #2:  No, they're making paninis on the hot plate and I don't think the vegetarians would like the burger grease.
SSG:  You guys, I'm going to cook the burgers at home, I'll keep them separate from the buns and you can reheat them in the microwave.

CW #2:  Maybe you should bring the buns tomorrow and then the BURGERS on Friday.  I wouldn't want to risk the buns getting smashed.  And then it'd be easier to carry.
CW #4 gets in the debate:  What about a camping stove?

CW #2:  You can't have propane in the building ... WAIT!  I know!  You can cook them over in the parking garage across the street.
CW #4:  Yeah!  Then if she's going to do that, we can just bring a barbecue.
SSG:  WHAT?  You want me to BARBECUE hamburgers in the PARKING garage across the street instead of you guys just reheating them in the microwave?  WAIT, please don't answer that.

CW #3:  Man ... maybe we should just heat the up in the microwave.
Our boss strolls up:  What's up guys?

CW #4:  Oh we're just helping SSG come up with a better plan to serve her sliders on Friday.
SSG:  And by "better plan" they mean coming to the exact same conclusion I did two weeks ago.

Boss:  That sounds about right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is the Deal With ...

The SNOOZE button?

Anyone who has lived with me knows ... I LIKE the snooze button on my alarm clock.  I like it A LOT.  So much so that I am known for hitting the darn thing every 9 minutes over a period of hours sometimes.

This is NOT a good thing to be known for. 

My sister used to get so irritated she'd come in and yank all the covers off me when I was in high school.

I've had a good run ... over a span of years ... where I'd wake up, hit the snooze button once and then jump out of bed.  I believe this happened right around the time I got a puppy and worried she'd use my bedroom floor as a bathroom.

But lately, it's back.  My love affair with the snooze.  Like this morning we did our dance for an HOUR and a HALF!

I advanced my clock forward in my bedroom by 15 minutes, I set my alarm for an hour before I really want to wake up.  All in an effort not to wake up late.  And guess what?  I've still been waking up late.


Is it because it's dark as heeeeeellll out there in the mornings at this time of year?  Colder?  Am I depressed?  What?  Is?  It?  Because it's driving me nuts!

How many times do you guys hit snooze?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh My Lawd of the Dance

I will admit.  A dude in a headband, high waisted pants and a shirt unbuttoned down to his naval doesn't do it for me.  And don't even get me started on those BOOTS.  Oh my.  But Michael Flatley was on Dancing With the Stars last night and um ... I have something to tell you. 

Come closer, I don't want to say it too loudly. 

A little closer.

And you can't!  Tell!  Anybody!



I think Michael Flatley is kind of sexy.

There is something about a clean cut man in a suit (shirt BUTTONED), with a hint of an Irish accent saying things like "that was brilliant", "you are INTOXICATING" and "I can't stop watching you" into the television screen that made it seem as though he was talking directly to me.  

He was so steady and kind and looked me, I mean people in the eyes when he spoke to me, I mean them.  Like the female dancers who gazed upon him from behind batted eyelashes, I took a look down at my Padres t-shirt and almost said back to him "This old thing?  You are TOO kind.  And what's that?  Really?  I haven't done a THING with my hair today." 

I started wondering if Mr. Flatley would be interested in judging the dance I did today ... 

Like waking up late and remembering I was completely out of coffee.  
A 5 sympathy vote from Mr. Flatley.

Or being first in line at Starbucks and when I was done ordering, turning around to see a crowd of people behind me.
Score!  Perfect 10 from Mr. Flatley.

Hurrying to get to school for my midterm and arriving in time to study (read: close my eyes for 10 minutes).
A 7 from Mr. Flatley for lack of energy midway through the number.

Not only feeling good about the exam, but taking time to notice the number of HOTTIES in the classroom.
A 9 from Mr. Flatley for execution ... and eye contact.

And the rest we just won't talk about.  Because I'm sure if he saw the speed with which I fell asleep on the couch when I got home, he'd mistake me for Cloris Leachman.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend ABC's - S is for Spoiled in Seattle

Hello All!

Happy Monday!  This weekend I headed up to Seattle with Digs.  The best thing about returning over and over to a city where you used to live is that you can bypass all of the tourist shit and get down to business at some of your favorite dining establishments.

Like Trophy Cupcake which is located in my old neighborhood, Wallingford.  I miss you Wallingford and walking around you, Green Lake.  And about you Green Lake, I really needed to pay you a visit for one of our walks because I had a couple of these ...

But instead of walking around Green Lake, we took a little drive around it instead.  What?  

This about sums that decision up ... 

Well that and we had to get here for cocktails ...

This is the Westin, where we met up with family and friends.  We also ended up rearranging their entire lobby so we could all sit together for a couple of drinks before dinner.  Digs' sisTAH went to Notre Dame and her brother in law went to University of Washington.  The two teams "played" (read: UW got their asses handed to them) on Saturday, so everyone was in town for the occasion.  

We went to Icon Grill, one of my all time favorite places to eat.  Like EVER.  I love this place and try to hit it up whenever I'm in town.  The funny part about this restaurant is a guy I dated for about 5 minutes brought me here on our first date ... then again, can it be considered a FIRST date after a drunken hook up at a bar the weekend before?  Are you there Emily Post?  It's me, SSG.  ANYWAY, he was gone by the end of summer, but the restaurant has stayed.  Thanks Ryan!

The Icon Grill is in downtown Seattle and has the most amazing decor--pink walls with large gold mirrors and red carpet.  It's gaudy, but in a fun way.  
The chandeliers have these incredible blown glass balls that look like old fashioned candy.  The artist studied under Chihuly.  If you've ever been to Vegas, Chihuly is the guy that designed the blown glass flower ceiling in the lobby of the Bellagio.  He CRAZAAY (read:  has an EYE patch), but I love his work.

After dinner and ... a lot of wiiiiine ... I left for the Bobs.  This is what it would have looked like had I shown up during the day.  But I didn't show up until after 11 p.m. and then I kept them up until after 1 a.m.  (sorry Bobs!)   I always seem to be a stress ball when I go to their house and was freaking out so bad that at one point Mr. Bob got up in the middle of our conversation and broke out the largest bottle of Tanqueray I've ever seen in my life.  

Let me just tell you.  A gin and tonic right before bed?  Does WONDERS.

So does falling asleep in a pink, princess playroom and waking up to skies like this.

The Bobs were getting ready for their annual Halloween party.  I helped.  

And by helped I mean read cookbooks while sitting on the couch drinking coffee.  Every once and a while I'd make the long trek to steal a couple of items from this bowl.

After all of that hard work, I took a nap.  But not before snapping a couple of pictures of Mrs. Bob's handiwork.

Oh and those two little cat ears in the mirror up there?  Your author, courtesy of Mrs. Bob.  Not only do I show up, keep my hosts up until the wee hours before their party and then do absolutely nothing to help, I also expect them to provide me with a Halloween costume (see Wah-dah-tay, you and Jimmy aren't the only ones!).  

Now, who wants me to come for a visit? 

Let me just say, the Bobs put on an amazing Halloween party.  Full of delicious food and drinks and adorable little kids and their equally adorable parents.  I was watching the kids run around playing games and carving pumpkins (in between watching the World Series, of course, because me as guest = AWESOME).  At least once every 5 minutes one of the seven kids that were there would get scooped up--sometimes by their parents, sometimes by someone else's parents--for a quick hug and kiss on the cheek.  They'd always get set back down with an "I love you!" being called as they ran off to their next adventure.  

And even though I'm a little too big to be picked up and often times a bump on a log houseguest, I am always made to feel the exact same way.

Thanks to everyone who was part of such a great weekend!  The door is always open at Camp Portland!

Your SSG

Friday, October 24, 2008

Off to Seattle!

My good friend, and former college roommate, Digs arrived in Portland Wednesday night.  We were up until the wee hours of the morning laughing hysterically and saying every five minutes "I'm SO tired, but I can't fall asleep!" 

We're off to Seattle today to meet up with friends and family who will be in town for the Notre Dame/University of Washington football game.  And I'll get a chance to catch up with the Bobs at their annual Halloween party!  I haven't seen them since France!  And I don't have a costume yet!  

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Princess Pity and the Honorable Judge McJudgey

There is nothing that makes me feel poorer than being on a budget.  Just like dieting makes me feel fatter or running makes me feel runnier ... oh wait ...

The only thing I can compare it to is seeing Angelina Jolie on the cover of People Magazine and realizing that for one, I'll never be that tall ... or rich ... or lip plumpy and two ... WHY EVEN BOTHER TRYING?

It's at that point I descend into a funk where Princess Pity lives: "Why do I suuuuuuuuck so bad?" and the Honorable Judge McJudgey presides over the courtroom: "You did this to yourself.  You are sentenced to budgeting hard time, young lady!"

Princess Pity:  It's not faaaaaaaaiiiiiiir.
Judge McJudgey:  You have no one to blame but yourself!
Princess Pity:  But, but, I don't waaaaaaaaaaant to!
Judge McJudgey:  Actions have consequences.
Princess Pity:  But everyone else has moooooooore, why can't I have mooooooore?

By then it feels like I'm the little ball stuck in a pinball machine that gets stuck being thrust back and forth between two vice grips pounding out any ounce of happiness that I had left only to replace it with feeling both sorry for myself and wondering how I could be so stupid.  

Isn't this FUN?  

So you can see why I avoided budgeting.  Oh SURE, the drill sergeant part of my brain would pull me up by my bootstraps on occasion and muscle together a budget so tight I could bounce a quarter on it ... if I had a quarter, which I NEVER did because every penny of my money was accounted for and carefully documented.  And Princess Pity and the Honorable Judge McJudgey were close by keeping tabs on me waiting for the screw up.  Which happened.

OVER and OVER again.

But now I love my budget.  

What changed?  I swear I'm not drinking any of the Suze Orman Koolaid, nor have I gone all Tony Robbins with the positive breathing and envisioning.  And as much as I love and respect Oprah, the SKYPE is driving me CRAZY.  The program has become so choppy I can't sit down and get in mah Oprah zone.

Nope, I love my budget and the only reason is because I stopped making myself crazy and started asking myself what I wanted.  What I REALLY wanted.

I did something similar with my diet last year.  August 1, 2007 I decided I'd never diet again.  I was sick of the roller coaster, the pinball table of Princess Pity and the Honorable Judge McJudgey and never feeling happy or satisfied or that I was good enough as I was.  When I thought about what I was trying to accomplish by dieting, by getting down to a "perfect number" I really just wanted to be able to go run in a 4th of July 5k, or go on a hiking date without sweating through my clothes AND his.  And so I just started eating what I wanted.  And after A LOT of BINGEING on what I had held out as taboo for YEARS, if I had to tell you what I wanted to eat right now I'd say "eh, I don't know, I'm not really hungry right now."  If you asked me that question a year and a half ago I would have given you a three page double sided list.

So when I started asking myself I wanted from my money it was pretty simple.  I wanted to be comfortable.  I didn't want to be scared.  I wanted to know that if I popped a tire I could get it fixed, that if I needed to call a plumber I could.  I also wanted to enjoy myself and spend my money on things that mattered to me--vacations or a nice dinner out with friends.  Simple things.  Not the 25 bags I had in my closet or the spur of the moment purchases when I had a bad day.  

I told myself I could have whatever I wanted.  What I really wanted.  And now my monthly budget is a way of keeping track that I'm doing just that.

And I haven't heard from Princess Pity or the Honorable Judge McJudgey since.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mom, He's Looking at Me!

So there's this guy at work.  And he's SUPER quiet.  You may remember me mentioning him?  He's the one I yell to over my cube wall to see if he wants to hear his horoscope.  And if he doesn't answer me I ask him if he wants the "Daily Flirt" or the "Daily Single" and when he still doesn't answer, I say "Ok, I'll read them both and THEN I'll read you mine.  This is going to be SO awesome!"  Which makes him say all irritably "FINE!  DAILY FLIRT!"  

He's the guy that works 12 hours a day even though no one expects him to and most of the time he doesn't talk during that 12 hours.  He's also the guy who has 10 beers and THEN opens up, even telling ME at a party "why are you being so BORING tonight?"  (For the record.  SSG is NEVER boring ... unless of course she falls asleep during the party, which she has, ahem, NEVER done.)  I can NOT figure this guy out.  I just assumed he didn't care for me and have been leaving him alone for the past couple of months.  Well that, and my two favorite interns came on full time after graduating from their respective MBA programs.  And they give me all kinds of things to work with.  

Like today we covered the following topics--rock bands of the 70's and early 90's, why polygamy is illegal and how you can raise girls to not make them college quarterback stalking skanks.  I think my input was asked for on that last bit because I'm seemingly a non college quarterback stalking skank.  But I failed to tell them, I used to be kind of a college BASEBALL stalking skank.

What?  I turned out just FINE.

Where was I again?

Oh yeah!  Quiet guy.  He's started LOOKING at me.  Not like passing each other on our way to the water cooler and our eyes meet kind of looking, but like ... I'll be sitting at my desk writing a report and he'll stick his face into my cube, not say anything and then walk away kind of looking.

The first time it happened, I shrugged it off.  But it's been happening every couple of days for WEEKS.  And when I ask him about it, after mouthing "WTF?!?!" to myself, he says "what?"

So today, I'm in our lunchroom putting my lunch in the fridge and I stand up, turn to walk out and see a person jump away from the lunchroom door.  When I walked into the hallway, Quiet Guy was speed walking toward our office.  I started shaking my head and as he opened the door for me he said "you must think I'm so weird."  

Yes, yes I do.

Readers, WTF?!?!

So far, according to two of the people I've polled (one guy and one girl), these are possible options:
  • He's checking to see if I'm actually working (which for the record has NOTHING to do with whether or not I'm sitting at my desk.)
  • He has to tell me something.
  • He's shy.
  • He's creepy.
What do you guys think?  Does he want to murder me, kiss me, tell me I have something in my teeth, want to hear his horoscope?  Haaaaallllp!   

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Me No Yike Skool

I haz mor funz ouside.
I yike 2 chayse tenis ballz.
I no yike 2 studee.
I go 2 skool sometimez.  
Wif Wayde & Jimeez dogg namez Oskar.  
Oskar mite get hiz own blogz.
I no haz mi own blogz, so I tayke dis onez 2day k?

U maybe haz cookeez for meez?  I yike cookeez.  I yike demz lots.

Haz gud dayz humanz!

Teh FiSh

P.S.  Okayz, I tayke mai cookeez now pleez!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend ABC's - F is for Favorite Things

Do you remember back when I used to do my weekend ABC's?  And I'd have fun things to tell you about like skinny dipping or spur of the moment trips to San Diego?  That was during the "Serendipitous" days peeps.  And now?  The "Sometimes" period.  

I got NOTHIN'. 

This weekend all I did was study.  For a midterm.  Excuse me, but didn't I GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE 11 YEARS AGO?

Yes, yes I did.  However, something (read: insanity) made me decide I wanted to get my master's and now I'm wondering who gave me the massive amounts of drugs I must have been taking when I made that decision.  And where is that person now when I REALLY need them?

So as I was laying in bed, not sleeping last night, I decided to think of some things that make me happy.  Lest I forget I'm not some robot who only works and goes to school and swoons over television actors because I can't muster up enough energy to leave my couch and interact with real live men ... that I don't work with.


I love Portland, don't get me wrong, but my breath catches every time I go to Seattle.  I lived there for four years and even though the traffic is worse, the housing prices are more expensive and people seem a little colder than they used to be--it still makes me smile every time I go.  Puget Sound to the west, Lake Union to the north and Lake Washington to the east, it's hard not to drive down a road and see water.  And if you happen to spy Mt. Rainier on one of the days when it's "out" from behind the clouds--well, be careful.  It has been known to cause a few car wrecks it's so stunning.

The Ex List

Is anyone but me watching this show?  It's on CBS on Friday nights ... which means I probably AM the only person who is watching.  They had me from the pilot episode when a bunch of girls are in a limo after a bachelorette party and one of them in mid sentence stops talking, starts singing along to the radio with the rest of her friends for one verse, and then goes back to the conversation she was having.  Forget Survivor or Big Brother, THAT'S reality TV ... even though it's fiction.  Whatever.  It's good.  

Grey Goose Lemon Drops

I have not had nearly enough of these lately.

Down Comforters

Fall has arrived in Portland.  I swapped out my summer bedding for my heavy down comforter with its thick, taupe colored duvet cover.  At the foot of the bed is a deep plum wool blanket.  Crawling into bed each night is heaven.  And I have decided I am never leaving.  Please notify my office.  Thank you.


I was in love with the Irish band The Script when I got back from France, but right now this band is suiting my mood.  Quiet, introspective ... and okay, YES slightly moody ... and maybe a little PMS-y?  I keep replaying "Too Soon" and "I Am Still Running" and oh yeah, "On Your Way."

Fall Breakfasts

Gone are the fruits and yogurts of summer.  I've swapped them for warm oatmeal, a splash of milk, pat of butter and sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon.

I hope you have a warm, soothing and cozy week.  And I promise to have a lemon drop for you if you promise to have one for me, okay?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where's SSG?


Friday, October 17, 2008

Who Wants More SSG?!

Lance from Coast Rat and Krissa from Halfasstic want more SSG!  I give and I give and yet these two continue to want more, more, more.  Since each asked for 7 things about me, here's 14--take your pick peeps!  

(P.S. Love you both!  And Lance, sorry this has taken me so long!)

14 Things You May Not Know About SSG!

1)  I think it's kind of wimpy when guys order their meat well done.

2)  I love looking at people's shoes and trying to figure out what it means about them.

3)  Silence makes me nervous.  If I'm around other people, I expect us to be TALKING ... or making out.  

4)  Ummmm ... I like guys with big hands, which I refer to as "man hands."

5)  I'm not afraid to fly at all, but when people I love are on planes I worry about them.

6)  If I have kids, I'd like them to be kind of nerdy in high school.  Not so much that it causes damage, but just nerdy enough to keep them out of the "cool crowd".  I believe the cool crowd never leaves high school, but instead relives it for the rest of their lives and that the nerdy kids become incredibly interesting adults with depth.

7)  I wish I could sing and dance well.

8)  I love buying my niece and nephew matching pajamas from The Gap ... and only wish they made matching ones for adults.

9)  If I had it to do over again, I think I'd be an orthopedic surgeon ... which probably also means I should have paid more attention during math and science.

10)    If I had it to do over again, I would have paid more attention during math and science.

11)  Um, um, um ... I'd like to live on a farm or ranch.

12)  I am taking an accounting class right now and it makes me want to gouge my eyes out.  Have I mentioned for the last 16 years I have been working in finance?  Yay me!

13)  My cell phone number still has a San Diego area code.

14)  Drum roll please!  The five boys on my LIST (you know, THAT list) are ... Michael Vartan, Wentworth Miller, Jon Stewart, John Cusack and Xavier Nady.

As always, I will be tagging Dooce, The Blogess, Bossy, Amalah, PW, Sweetney and Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini ... and YES, I'm kidding ... or AM I?


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thrift Rich - Wants & Needs Postponed

So all of you may have noticed the little "Bossy" icon over to the right?  Well Thursdays are supposed to be my "Thrift Rich" posts.  And today was going to be my first.  About wants and needs and why I'm joining this crazy poverty party.  But no. "Thrift Rich" will not be happening today.  That is, unless you're looking for an arborist?

An arborist is a person who climbs trees.  For a living.  

Why does SSG need an arborist?




I would have posted a picture, but we were out there until the middle of the night and I was afraid the flash might blind him and send him careening down to his little kitty death ... which actually might not be a bad thing right about now (kidding!).  No amount of tuna, flashlights or neighbors with repelling gear have been able to get his ass down.

So what the F do you do when you need to rescue a cat and have not planned for that in your budget?

Do NOT call the fireman (though that, was indeed my first thought).  Instead, Google "cat stuck in the f-ing tree" and up will pop  I've talked to two guys located in Portland--both of whom said they do it for free.

Can we say AWWW?  

So on your list of "free" things?  Put Cat Rescue.   And next week ... wants and needs ... now with fewer arborists!

Unless OF COURSE this arborist that's showing up this morning turns out to be cute, then all bets are off.

Stay tuned ...

(Edited to add:  Cat safely down from tree.  Made a beeline for food and water, then pulled himself upstairs and is now resting on my bed, curled up in a sweet little ball sound asleep.  He must be tired after climbing up an additional SEVENTY feet of tree this morning.  The arborist went up 100 feet to get him.  And the arborist?  CUTE!  Who knew climbing gear and a guy rescuing your cat could be so adorable?)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things a Girl Wouldn't Do

Well hello everyone!  

I feel like it has been so long that I haven't been all "my trip this" and like "my trip that" and then "did you hear, I'm going to Paris!" or maybe "you might have heard I just got back from France?"  I'm surprised you haven't all deleted me from your bookmarks and rolled your eyes day after day.

THANK YOU again for sticking by me and all of your encouragement and excitement!!  I promise to be as equally annoying if not more so when I figure out where I'm headed next.

If you're new to SSG, first of all--WELCOME and thank you for coming by!  I have a lot to catch you up on, but first and foremost--WORK.  Some of you mentioned that I haven't talked about the guys I work with in a while.  Since I aim to please, this one is for you!

For you peeps new to SSG, I work in finance and am only one of three female analysts in our office.  Therefore, my little work posse happens to be dudes.  Here are a couple of posts to give you an idea of what I put up with.  Click here & here.

Most of the time they crack me up, occasionally they make me want to rip my hair out and then there are days where I just shake my head and think, "A woman would NEVER do that."

Example #1

I got off the elevator last week and as I was walking down our very long hallway I noticed five or six of the guys I work with congregated around the door to our office.  

"What's up?"  I asked one of them.
"I'm going to see if I can sprint fast enough from the elevators to the front door to make it before the door closes."
"Did you lose a bet?"  
"Nah, I just want to see if I can do it."

Example #2

"SSG!  We're going to lunch and you're coming."
"Where are we going?"  I asked.
"Portland City Grill.  R swears their clam chowder is better than Moe's."

Readers, SEVEN of us went up to Portland City Grill--a restaurant on the 30th floor of a large skyscraper in downtown Portland (with prices to match the view).  We were to have what was apparently going to be a much discussed and thoughtfully planned Clam Chowder Smack Down.

We all piled into a huge booth, everyone vying for their position next to me so they wouldn't have to sit too close to another guy.  We start surveying the menus and I throw out "did anyone check if they even have clam chowder?"

"Who doesn't have clam chowder on Fridays?" they all looked at me as if I had asked if they still had their penises.
"I don't see it on the menu," I point out just as our waitress comes to the table.
"Oh yeah," our waitress says nonchalantly, "we've never served clam chowder."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Return

And so it is that time, readers.  The end of my trip.  Mrs. Bob said the night before I left, "you don't seem like yourself."  And she was right.  

I will forever be changed by my trip to France.   

The beautiful things we saw.  The delicious food we ate.  The miles we walked.  All of it flooded every single cell in my body.  And I feel quieter somehow.  Like my life, that already was rich, was made richer.  

When I was walking through the airport in Nice, I heard my name called.  When I turned around, a couple was smiling and waving at me.  It was the New York clarinetist and his wife that we met in Provence.  We stopped and chatted for a few minutes and as I walked to my gate I smiled to myself.  

Traveling makes the world a smaller place.

I got off the train in Portland and was met with a huge smile and hug from Wade.

Though it's good to travel, it is always good to return home.

(P.S.  Back to the "normal" SSG posts tomorrow!  And I believe it's about time I start planning my next trip.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eze & Monaco

This is a little town called Eze.  And it sits in between Nice and Monaco high up on the hillside over looking the Mediterranean.  Eze ranks right up there (for me) with the St. Germain neighborhood in Paris, an evening at the Eiffel Tower with a boat ride on the Seine and our stay at Mas d'Etoiles with a meal at Du Jour Charlotte.

You park at the bottom of Eze and climb, climb, climb up to the top.  Stopping to take pictures like this ...

Or this ...

Until you get to a hotel that has a gorgeous view and charges 8 euro for an iced coffee that gets served in a glass the size of a thimble (I'm just SAYING).  But LOOK at that view.  SSG's future husband are you reading again?  Hi.  You look really cute today.  Please propose to her at this place okay?  Thanks!

In Paris I noticed I was taking A LOT of pictures of stairs.  But in Eze I started taking pictures of doors.  Like this one ... I won't bore you with the hundreds of others, but why did they tempt me so?  

After a couple of hours we reluctantly wound back down the narrow streets to head towards Monaco.

Hello lovely ...

This is the chapel where Princess Grace was married. 

And unfortunately this is where she is also buried.  

But I can see why she fell in love with Monaco.  This is the little downtown 'hood across the street from the palace.  And I HAVE a picture of the palace but um ... it's not very impressive (sorry Prince I'm the Most Eligible Bachelor in the World) I heard PALACE and had visions of Buckingham in my mind not a small white building without a huge entrance.  And where there was a GUARD, he sat at the front door in a little covered hut that looked like he was waiting for a TriMet bus to roll along.  However, in his defense, he did stand up and walk back and forth a couple of times ... which I'm SURE is in his Guard Handbook right next to "Whatever you do, do NOT smile or pose for the tourists taking your picture."  

I heard palace and thought of this ...

But this is Monte Carlo.  And if you think SSG looked around every corner and under every casino chip trying to find Daniel Craig ... you'd be RIGHT.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008


We stayed at a little art deco hotel called Hotel le Meurice, one block off the famous boardwalk that boarders the Mediterranean.  Though no Mas d'Etoiles, it was clean and had its own charm with its canopied beds and an old fashioned elevator that could fit one person at a time.

The ocean to the south, and plenty of shopping one block to the north, the hotel was centrally located and we headed out to explore.

I will never forget seeing the moon rising over Nice.

Just as the sun was setting to the west.

We had great pizza for dinner and went to bed early.  We only had one full day left and a lot of doors still left to open.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Au Revoir Provence et Bonjour Nice!

These two have ruined me.

From now on, anywhere I go ... any hotel or B&B where I stay ... will be measured by Mas d'Etoiles.  This is Francois & Annette.  And they were two of the kindest people we met in France.  

They have a beautiful home.  Francois does the gardening himself.
While Annette takes care of the decor. 

Every morning we had fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, croissants with homemade jam and fresh figs from the tree outside.

And grapes from the vineyard next door, just to the west of the pool.

And each night I'd lay down my head and look at this window, wondering what on earth I had ever done to get so lucky.

I immediately started redecorating my house in my mind.  Black wrought iron and old fashioned linens will be making an appearance for sure.

Oh how I MISS you ...

But with big hugs goodbye and tears in our eyes, we pulled ourselves away and headed further south.

The gorgeous Mediterranean awaits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

St Remy & Arles

Our last full day in Provence, we decided to head south toward Arles.  Vincent VanGogh lived in Arles and some of his most famous paintings came out of the small town.  

Though both towns were beautiful and rich with history, I didn't connect to them as much as I hoped I would.  I don't know if it was the warmth of the Luberon, the charm of the hill towns or the delicious meal we had the night before.  St. Remy and Arles just didn't seem as welcoming.  Or perhaps I was just protecting myself from the inevitable.  In just two short days, our trip would be over and I'd be leaving the place that had stolen my heart. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Romance & Du Jour Charlotte

I am an absolute, 100%, diehard romantic.  I love music swelling, happily ever afters, beautiful poetry and old love letters.  Provence is a place for romantics.

And perhaps one of the most romantic places I have ever seen in a film, was in A Good Year.  Russell Crowe's character woos a local Frenchwoman and takes her to dinner at an outdoor cafe.  They sit under umbrellas, with white lights strung between the trees and listen to a live band.  Behind the musicians, on an outdoor movie screen, an old black and white film plays in the background.

I told Mrs. Bob that if we happened upon that location, I'd sit down and never leave France.

Readers, we found that location ...

And I am still in France ... just not so much PHYSICALLY as mentally ...

The only thing that made leaving this place acceptable was that we had reservations at Du Jour Charlotte, a restaurant down the street from Mas d'Etoiles ... my future home ... the owners just don't know it yet.

We pulled up to Du Jour Charlotte and were greeted by perhaps the cutest sign I've ever seen in my life.

We walked through a small courtyard lit by a setting sun.

And had the chalkboard menu brought to the table by Serge Alvarez, who owned the restaurant with his wife.

(Note to SSG: Must purchase chalkboard menu ASAP.)

For 25 euro, you got an amuse bouche, salad, main course and dessert.  The wine, a bottle of "A Mon Pere" made us moan at the first sip.

Our amuse bouche was a chilled gazpacho with a garnish of cucumber.

We all got the asparagus salad with jambon and freshly shaved parmesan.  But the main course ... the MAIN COURSE ...

For me, was a homemade ravioli about 4 inches in diameter, stuffed with spinach and ricotta, topped with the catch of the day and thinly sliced zucchini and peppers.  I almost cried.

This was the type of meal we had planned to have in France.  We stayed in the restaurant for over two hours.  We'd learn that Serge was a famous photographer, having published books about Gordes and the Luberon.  One of his pictures was on the cover of Paris Match magazine when he photographed the former president's daughter for an interview the magazine did.  His wife Charlotte, the chef, was LOVELY.   And their friends, a British couple dining at the next table were hilarious.

After dessert of homemade chocolate mousse, we left the restaurant full and happy, warmed by the meal, wine and company.  It will remain my favorite dining experience in France ... well, tied for first of course with the macaroons of Paris.