Thursday, April 29, 2010

For your viewing pleasure...

It's a little rough around the edges, and some pictures I had deleted magically re-appeared in this here video......

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Scottsdale 2010

Scottsdale Girls Weekend 2010 from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Five girls, one room, no drama.

My much anticipated girls weekend was a success! The five of us met in Scottsdale, Arizona and took it by storm. Well, okay, not much of a storm, maybe just a slight breeze. I flew in with Susan and Aimee, and Jodee and Tracy had to meet us at our restaurant the first night due to flight delays.

Our trip was well planned out; we had dinner reservations every night of our three-night stay, and massages booked for our first full day.
After our spa treatments, we had use of the private pool the remainder of the day. Here is our gorgeous view (above) from the pool. We just sat and ate and drank and read and giggled all day. (well, alright everyone knows I am incapable of giggling...I am more of a guffaw-er)

Our second night's dinner had 3 extra guests. Tracy has a friend who recently moved to the area and I have two friends that live in the area, and they all joined us for dinner. My friend, Marty, told us about the private room at True Food, and the eight us had a lovely time feeling extra special in our glassed off room. Marty and Myron were a instant hit, and Marty kept us all entertained.

Before the trip, I told Marty that I couldn't wait to run into his arms for a big hug. He told me to make sure I ran in slow motion so that it was dramatic. I told him, that if he could hum the theme from "Chariots of Fire" that might make my slow motion run better. As soon as I stepped out of our town car (oh yes, town cars and drivers for the weekend, dahling), and saw Marty, he lifted his iPhone and was playing the theme to "Chariots of Fire", and I ran slow motion into his arms. Picture perfect. I didn't even trip.

The resort was beautiful and just what the doctored ordered. There were two to a bed, and one in the roll-away. Naturally, my bed partner (Jodee) forgot pajamas for the weekend.

My fears about sharing a room and bathroom with 4 other women was unfounded. Everything went swimmingly. There is not even any drama to share. Well, the time Jodee spilled a pitcher of ice water into my loaded camera bag might be considered drama, but nothing was ruined, I didn't overreact (as I can do sometimes), so not even that was drama. We had plenty of DOD's (whatever drink we deemed worthy of our "drink of the day" title), and plenty of snacks (which I, for one, live for) so we were plenty happy.

Hold on, I just remembered a bit of drama. I am one of those people that need to eat breakfast. I can't get by with just a cup o' coffee. One morning, the group of us went to the little cafe' to get a bite to eat 'to go'. There was only one woman working the counter, and the line was long, and I was ready to eat my arm. The worker lady was way too happy as was the customer behind me. I was ready to beat the happy right out of them if I didn't get my egg and veggie empanada thingie ASAP. Really, someone was about to need an ambulance if I didn't get food. Now, that was a close call.
Our last supper of the weekend was at Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain. And, my oh my, was the view delicious, not to mention the food (even though I was being a baby about the menu...yeah, whatever, I'm stupid). Our reservations were for 8:00, and the guests that had our table were taking their sweet time. Lucky for us. Well, not lucky for Tracy because she was having a 'Natalie episode' and was ready to eat her arm. Anyway, the restaurant asked if we would like to eat on the private terrace because our table still wasn't ready. Let me tell you, there was no discussion amongst us, no looking to one another for thoughts, we each just said "yes" to the hostess and ran likes bats outa hell to follow her to the table.

Oh yeah, the five of us on the private terrace overlooking the mountains, under the moon and stars.

We were pretty darn fortunate. Over the course of our weekend, we had a private pool and private dining (twice!!).

I feel really fortunate to have gone on this trip with such wonderful, juicy women. I learned more about each of them, had laughs with each of them, and had a beautiful time with all of them.

p.s. I was successful!  I was the only one to bring just a carry-on.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Carry-on with size 11's?

I am leaving tomorrow for a spa weekend with four other women. I've never even been to a spa at home, so to go to a fancy schmancy spa in Scottsdale, Arizona is going to be a special treat. We have a massage scheduled for each of us, but really I am most excited about sitting by the pool with a fruity drink.

Sure, I am nervous about a couple of things: 5 women sharing a room and more importantly, a bathroom, sharing a bed (what if I snore or wake up with one of my screaming dreams), being seen in a bathing suit, and did I mention sharing a bathroom? I am one of those people that can read War and Peace while doing my business in the bathroom. My friends, Marty and Don, have come up with one of their comedy routines about our bathroom visits: Marty and I need War and Peace for our bathroom time, while Don reads a business card for his.

But, the point of this post is my luggage. I prefer to pack only a carry-on (pictured above) when possible while traveling. Last October when Ignacio, my mom, and I went to Paris, I made everyone only bring a carry-on, and we were successful! (except for the trip home--we bought too much).

We will arrive in Scottsdale on Thursday afternoon/evening, and leave bright and early on Sunday morning, so we really shouldn't need much, right? How nice it is not to have to go to baggage claim, and just hit the ground running. Also, I take the train to the airport and traveling light is a blessing when lugging your stuff up and down the stairs, up and down the escalators, and on and off the train. Not to mention, the fees you have to pay to check a suitcase. So, it's a no-brainer. I will be carrying on. size 11 shoes are BIG. They can really take up space in a carry-on suitcase. Now, add high heeled wedges to those size 11 shoes, and your carry-on bag is half full.

Man, I'm screwed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April's Dinner Club: Mercadito

Jodi picked Mercadito for April's dinner club restaurant, and Jodee is demonstrating what we did very well that night:  drink Margaritas (strong Margaritas).

Because there was more than 6 of us, we had to eat off of the sample menu.  That means that we got 4 different kinds of tacos, 6 different guacamoles, 2 salsas, 2 sides, and dessert.  It was kind of a bummer for me because I am a vegetarian and could only stuff my face with one kind of taco.  Lucky for me, that taco rocked.

As I mentioned, the drinks were strong, and we each had two (except for Jodee and Susan--wowza).  Liz kept telling me that she couldn't feel her nose, and I kept telling her that the reason she couldn't feel her nose, is because she was touching my nose and not hers!

I would definitely want to go Mercadito and try out the regular menu, and I would make sure I was taking a cab so I could enjoy more of those margaritas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mondo, baby, MONDO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I actually happy cried at 1 am. I really can't remember the last time I cried because I was happy.

I've written about my Mondo Beyondo class before and now it has completed, but the magic hasn't stopped. From this class, I have gained a real live pen-pal (Holli lives in Kentucky), I've met (on-line, not live...YET) many new friends, fellow dreamers, and creative souls. Many of us seem to be still in the thick of the magic and community that has developed over the five weeks of the course. We are creating groups to share ideas and thoughts and dreams, still, even though our class has ended. It's beautiful.

Mondo Beyondo is about dreaming big, and one of the dreams I've had just might become a reality.

I was getting kind of bummed out because many people in my Mondo class have real magic happening, I mean HUGE things. Ummmm, like Mt. Kilimanjaro big. Seriously, someone from the class booked a trip to climb that sucker. So, yeah, REALLY big things happening for people. And naturally, I was wondering where my magic was. (can you hear me whining like a 3-year-old? "but, where is MYYYYYY magic?")

Well, last night, Piccolo (one of cats named after Brian Piccolo from the Chicago Bears, Sweetness, the other cat is named after Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears) woke me up at 1am for her nighttime snack. Yeah, really, it happens every night. I got up, gave Piccolo her treat and Camel (the dog named after my father -- he ran really slow-- my dad, not Camel) has to get a treat too.

--(see, now who needs children when I have pets that don't let me sleep through the night)

I went back to bed, checked my iPhone for the lottery numbers that get e-mailed to me every night after I am already in bed, and saw it. I got an e-mail about one of my dreams.  No, I didn't win the lottery.  The e-mail was about something completely different.  But, it was right there. I could not believe my eyes. I couldn't sleep. I HAD to tell someone. I thought if I called my mom at that hour, she would kill me and Ignacio had fallen asleep at 7pm watching television in the back bedroom. So, I did what any rational person would do. I went and woke him up at 1 am. It took me three times to tell the story before he was coherent and understood what I was saying. I was crying as I was telling him the story, and I kept saying, "IT'S MONDO!" "IT'S MONDO!!"

The two of us were probably awake for two hours giddy with excitement. Then, at 5am, the alarm went off and we were both exhausted from our middle of the night giddiness.

I'll post at a later date once things are a 'for sure' and explain what, hopefully, will be happening. It's not like I'm moving to France (although that is on my Mondo list), but it's a nice little surprise, and a good place to start.

Please click on the 'Mondo Beyondo' button on the right if you are at all interested in this five week course (I will get an incentive if you sign up through this blog). It's all on-line, and not at all time consuming. Please know that it is never to late to dream (MOTHER!!). Never.

after so much excitement about a Mondo dream coming true, the City of Chicago said "NO" to me.  Rat bastards.  The funny thing is that I wasn't deflated when I got the "no".  Yeah, the city can still suck it, but I was okay.  I think the excitement and how close I came to magic happening really lit a fire under my booty to make it happen another way.  So, the city may have closed the door, but as they say, "when one door closes, get a ramming rod, and open it yourself", or something like that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Battle of the Bulge

My grandfather was actually in the Battle of the Bulge in Dubya Dubya II.  He passed away last November, just a month or so shy of 90. 
My father passed away last January, 32 years to the day that his father, my other grandfather passed away.  My dad was 66.  He died very suddenly and unexpectedly.  And it has turned my world upside down.

I've gained 30 pounds since my dad died.  You hear about those people who waste away to nothing because of grief, and of course, I am not one of those people.  I'm the other kind, dammit.  DAMMIT.

I was already 20 pounds or so overweight before my dad passed.  That means that I am 50 pounds or so overweight.  50.  50!  50?!   (I can't believe I just wrote that for the world to see.  Then again, if you see the size of my bum, it's kind of well, umm, obvious.)

I've tried the diet plans.  The ones that ship the food to your home.  Yeah, that is fine and dandy, but when I follow up their meal with an entire sleeve of Thin Mints, I'm thinking I may not be successful.  I go to the gym often, but 'they' say that your diet is a lot more of the equation to weight loss than working out.  Figures.

My friend, Beth, just posted this about a book (Woman Food and God) about diets.  Beth sums up the book quite nicely:  Her message is simple, really: that we need to live in the present moment, that we need to be aware of ourselves and what we need and we need to feel what we truly feel.  I'm going to have to read that book.

But here's the thing, I don't want to feel the pain and the grief.  I prefer to shake (literally) the thoughts that my dad is really dead out of my head when they enter. 

Well, that way of dealing isn't quite working, obviously.  Time to reassess and make some changes.

* I just want the fat and grief to melt away like that snow on my terrace table.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Signature Look

I do believe I've done it.  I have found my signature look for summer.

For winter, thanks to the 40 year old bully, my signature look was any outfit that allowed me to wear the red patent leather boots.  I felt a little special any time I wore those boots.

And now, thanks to this Etsy shop, I have a look for the summer, that will hopefully make me feel a little special any time I wear it.
I just love the idea of a flower in my hair, and this headband is perfect.

I am an Etsy shopper these days.  I love the idea of buying hand-made items.  In addition, sometimes it just easier to find the exact thing you are looking for.  I've had some great luck in recent weeks finding the exact pair of earrings, cat/dog treat jar, and flower for my hair that I was needing.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Endorphins, my a$$

My main squeeze, Ignacio, and I have different work schedules. I work 9-5, and he works 6-2. I go to the gym in the morning, and he goes to the gym in the afternoon, and we meet in evening, and it works out pretty well.

Our alarm goes off at 4:30 in the A M. He gets up and showers, and I snooze until 5. Then, I get up and get ready to lug my fat a$$ to the gym. At 5 am, I really would prefer to sleep, and everyday is a fight with my willpower, but if I don’t work-out in the morning, I know I will not remove my bum from the couch after work to do it. So, I do my best to work out 4-6 mornings a week (and have NOTHING to show for it).

Have you ever heard that saying “runner’s high”? I have, and I believe it is some crap about runners getting this endorphin rush, and they feel an emotional (?) high. I’ve never experienced it, but then again, I can’t run around the block. But, every runner I see running on the lakefront has a look of anger/pain/dread on their face as I pass them. So, I’m not really sure about this “runner’s high” thing.

Anyway, Ignacio got home yesterday evening after taking spin class at the gym. For those of you who may not know, spin class is a class in a dark room with loud music where you peddle a stationary bike for an hour. It’s not easy, really, it’s pretty grueling. So after class, Ignacio walks in the door with his iPod on, and he is singing and dancing.

“Nat, I just had the best workout. My endorphins kicked in. I am on one of those ‘highs’”. And he continues to dance and sing and be way too happy, while I am trying to watch my Tivo’d American Idol.

Really? An endorphin high? I can barely drag my bright red, tomato face home after a spin class, and here he is on a ‘high’.

Whatever. Pass me the Hershey’s dark chocolate bar, I need to drown my sorrows because my workouts aren’t making me ‘high’ or my booty any smaller.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mondo Beyondo

I’ve told a few people that I was going to take this Mondo Beyondo class (click on the box at the right). Well, time has flown by, and I am already in week 5 of it. If you had asked me to guess, I would say I was in week two. Time is really going quickly.

Mondo Beyondo is an on-line class about dreaming big. We are given daily assignments and secret missions. It’s been amazing. There is also a beautiful on-line community that has developed, and the women taking this class are inspiring. They are fellow dreamers, yes, but there are so many brilliant and talented women in the class. There are many artists and I admire them so much. There are a lot of unconventional people in the class, and I love that. I’m intimidated by these amazing people. I am an accountant for pete’s sake. I would love to be able to make a living doing something that is not a 9-5 gig.

Like the other night at the symphony. I was telling Ignacio how cool it would be if someone asked what I did for a living and I was able to say, “oh, I play the harp in the symphony.” But now when someone asks, I say “I’m an accountant, but that really has nothing to do with who I am.”

I am going to continue to dream big, with my mondo lists, and vision board, and morning meditations. There is no harm in dreaming, that’s for sure.  I really believe that magic can happen.  There are many examples of it in this class.

I highly recommend the Mondo Beyondo class. The next class starts in May.