Friday, October 29, 2010

BFFs (aka 3 stooges)

My best friends are Don and Marty.  Unfortunately, Don lives in California and Marty lives in Arizona.  We were doing a once-a-year weekend get together thing taking turns at each of our homes.  This year, it sadly didn't happen.
Don and Marty are very funny individuals. They are clever and witty and they never fail to make me happy.  But together!  Together, they are a comedy act.  You can just sit back and be entertained for hours.  Sometimes I feel inadequate because I just can't keep up with them.
The picture above is from 2 years ago when Don and Marty came to stay with me for the weekend for my 40th birthday.  We thought we were freaking hysterical taking these pictures of ourselves with the self-timer.  Every time the camera clicked, we would move our heads a little bit.  Our goal was to put together a flip book, that when you flipped the pictures, it would look like a mini-movie. Well, the flip book never got finished, but this very short slide show did.
I hope you at least giggle when you watch because I am laughing very loudly.

3 stooges from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October Girls' Dinner: Thalia Spice

Stephanie chose Thalia Spice for October girls' dinner.
Liz and Steph
A beautiful surprise: $5 martini specials.

Pat and me
We had appetizers of egg rolls and crab rangoon.  I ordered the tilapia for dinner, and the other 3 girls ordered different versions of chicken: a spicy one, a thai one, and a sweeter one.

I must say that we were all members of the happy plate club.

For dessert, I ordered the 'death by chocolate' and I don't know what came over me, but that sucker was gone before I even had an opportunity to even think about getting a picture of it.  I think I've had the same problem in the past.  Sheesh, chocolate has this crazy hold on me.
It was a lovely evening with yummy food.

Monday, October 25, 2010

reunion week

The end of September was a whirlwind.  In the course of five days, I saw many people that I haven't seen in a very long time.

It started with Marty and Myron.
Myron and Marty
Myron and Myron live in Arizona.  The last time I saw them was six months ago when we took our girls' trip to AZ and we met up with Marty and Myron for a couple of hours for dinner. M & M were in town for a wedding, and they were able to get some time away from their family so that we could go out for dinner.  We went to Green Zebra for some excellent vegetarian fare.  
The food was delicious, but the company was better.  I love my time with M & M.  

Two days later, I made my second pilgrimage to Girl and the Goat to meet my cousin Dave and his wife, Kathi.  Sure, it's no big deal to have dinner with your cousin, right? Well, Dave and I figured out that we haven't seen each other in 26 years!  Yeah, you heard me, 26 years.  You see, Dave is like all smart and stuff, and after high school, he headed out west to that Stanford place, and just stayed out west after college.
me and Dave
Kathi and Dave
I was so happy that Ignacio and Dave were adventurous and tried the pig face at this restaurant.  I think they liked it, but weren't able to finish it because it was so rich.  The meal was delicious, but as I said before, the company was even better.

Two days later, Ignacio, my mom, and I were on the road to Iowa to celebrate my Uncle Butch's marriage to  Aunt Jackie.  We drove 8 hours through a million miles of corn fields to arrive in a little Iowa town.  
Uncle Butch and Aunt Jackie
My dad was the middle brother of three, Uncle Butch is the youngest bro, and Uncle Rich is the oldest bro.  My Uncle Rich and Aunt Pat came in from Florida, my cousins came in from Florida, California, Minnesota, and Missouri.  It was a wonderful family reunion.  The last time I saw most of them was at my dad's funeral.
Uncle Rich and Aunt Pat
Andrew and Julie
Ignacio and Aunt Pat
my mom and Missy

Ron and me (we have the same chin!)
Our trip was great and it was so good to see everyone together in one place.  It very rarely happens.  Uncle Butch and Aunt Jackie were the best hosts; fabulous home cooked dinners, and fun lunches.  The wedding reception was a lot of fun too.  Uncle Butch and Aunt Jackie are fantastic dancers and can really cut a rug.  We all did our best to keep up, and we did cut a pretty good polka or two.
the happy couple
The weekend was great and it was such a treat to spend it with my aunts and uncles and cousins.  The Mikolajczaks are a great bunch, and you will always be laughing if you are with us.  (yeah, you may be laughing at one of the MANY illnesses we have to offer, but at we least can we laugh at ourselves with the best of 'em)

A slideshow of the Iowa trip:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

in your daddy's arms again

I am one of those suckers who believes in the afterlife and spirits and getting visited from those who have passed on.

A month before my dad died, we had been on a beautiful cruise together. While waiting for our delayed flight back home, and then again on the flight home, my technology challenged father played solitaire on my smartphone until the battery died.

The day my dad died, when I finally left my parents house and was driving home, I looked down at my phone, and that solitaire game was ON the phone. There was no reason for it to be on, I didn’t do it, and there was no doubt in my mind that it was my dad.

So for one year and nine months, I’ve been waiting for my dad to ‘visit’ me again. He’s been known to leave dimes around. My nephew has found a few at weird times, like right before getting ready to wrestle; he has found one on the mat. I found one stuck to my skin when I woke up in Paris (a Euro no less), and my mom found one right when we got in the cab upon arrival in Paris. We have a lot of dime stories.

But, I’ve been looking for something bigger.

It happened this morning.

I did my morning routing: went to the gym, emptied the cat box, yoga sun salutations, crunches, and morning meditation. After I got up from meditation, I put my iPhone on the table (I used an app for meditation), and went to the kitchen. After a few moments, I heard music. I thought it was from outside; it wasn’t. My iPhone went into its iPod app (NOT the app I use for meditation) and was playing a song. I immediately knew it was my dad. There was no question in my mind. So, I sat and listened to the song that was playing. It was Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street”. I thought the song choice was strange, I thought for sure he would play a selection from Chicago or the Doobie Brothers. So, I listened closely because there had to be a reason for this particular song. When I heard the chorus, I cried.

dreaming of mercy st.
wear your inside out
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms again
dreaming of mercy st.
'swear they moved that sign
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms

Thank you, dad.  I love you and there is no place I'd rather be than in your arms.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Embarrassing Moment # 2,689

Facials are delicious. I’ve only had a handful in my life, but I really do enjoy them. They feel great, smell good, and are relaxing.

I live next door to a salon that for the most part employs women of Eastern European descent and I love the woman who gives the facials. It’s like somehow she has all of this knowledge and secrets from the “old world”, and she has the ability to make me look 25 years younger. Well yeah, I can dream, can’t I?

One day I walked next door to get my facial. Shada (the Eastern European woman with all the beauty wisdom) welcomed me graciously like we were old friends (I love it when she does that). I took off my shirt and placed it on the chair as instructed, and laid down on the table for my hour of bliss.

The only problem I can sometimes have with a facial is if I am congested. I just hate if I can’t breathe out of my nose and am forced to breathe out of my mouth while someone is standing right over my face. Poor Shada! Then, the towels get wrapped around your face, and the only things that are exposed are your nostrils, and you are forced to breathe out of your nose. Now, that can cause me to panic a bit. It’s like claustrophobia in my own face.

But that day, I was breathing just fine, and the facial was dreamy. At the conclusion of the facial, Shada had left the room for me to get dressed. I shot up and went to get my shirt on.

You know how it is when you go to the doctor or for a massage or for anyplace where they tell you to disrobe and they will be right back? You undress like a bat out of hell just so they don’t catch you “in the act”. So, there is me, trying to get dressed like a madwoman, and you know how in a salon, the nail tech or masseuse or facial lady will have their credentials in a frame hanging on a wall? Yeah, well Shada has a LOT of credentials on her wall. Seriously, what a show-off. So, I am getting my shirt on as quickly as I can in this teeny tiny room, and my ape-like arms were flailing and I must have knocked down like four of Shada’s framed credentials. Crash! Bam! Boom! Down they all came, glass broken, me saying “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit”.

I did what I could to ‘clean up’ in the time allotted for me to get dressed (i.e. four seconds). I opened the door, and there were like 27 people standing there all worried that I had committed hari kari in the facial room (more like the size of a closet, hence it wasn’t my fault that there wasn’t enough room to get my shirt on).

Holy hell! That was the most embarrassing walk of shame ever! My entire walk out of the salon I kept having to say, “no really, I am ALL RIGHT”, while feeling like shit for ruining Shada’s bragging wall.

In retrospect, I don’t think this disaster was my fault at all. First, that room needed to be a LOT bigger. And second, Shada really shouldn’t need to brag so much.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Ultimate Vacation

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When I was in my 20’s, I had no desire to travel to Europe.  I thought that there was so much to see in the United States, that there was no reason to travel to Europe.  Now, it is all I can think of.  Paris. France. Cheese. Wine.  I have become obsessed.

I have been to Paris three times.  The first time I went with a friend who was fluent with French and France.  I saw a few of the required Paris monuments and got a small taste of Provence.  On my next two visits to Paris I was busy showing my boyfriend, and then my mother all of the required viewing for someone’s first trip to Paris.

Now that I feel I have gotten most of the ‘required’ viewing out of the way; I am dying to get back to Paris and France and to really discover it.   I would love to take my boyfriend and my mom, and spend a week in Paris with no visits to Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower.  I want to wander for hours without a destination and just let the day happen.  I want to have happy accidents and discover as many sites, sounds, and smells as possible.  I want to have a serendipitous adventure.

I want to wake up in the morning without a plan.  I want for us to venture out of our rented apartment and stumble upon a café that is calling our name.  We can sit at that café for as long as we want because there is no schedule; we will stroll along the streets without a care in the world because there is no place we have to be.  We'll be more relaxed and more courageous in using our limited French (and by the end of the trip, we'll be close to fluent).  We will have wine with every meal except breakfast, and cheese with every meal.  Crepes with Nutella will become my new best friend.  And the best thing about this trip is that I won't gain a pound.....the pounds will actually melt off of me from sheer delight.

After a week in Paris, we will to travel to the south of France.  We will take the TGV (high speed train) to the south of France, then rent a car and drive to a small village and stay in a very old castle.  We will go on hikes and bike rides and walk through lavender fields.  We will eat goat cheese from the village goat(s) and drink wine from the nearest vineyard. 

We will also take a day trip to St. Tropez and dip our toes in the Mediterranean Sea.  We will explore the small villages we happen upon all the while breathing in the fresh air that smells better than any air we've ever breathed.

I swear, this trip is sounding so good to me that I know I am going to start dreaming about it.  I think I'll spray some lavender linen spray on my pillow just so I can have the full effect.  I am also going to start working on my French lessons; I need to know how to order my wine and cheese with confidence.

Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.