Whoosh! It’s Christmas already.

Whoosh! It's Christmas

This happens every year. I close my eyes in August and I wake up in December, buried under a pile of holiday stress. But I love the holidays so I’m blindly swimming through it with a big fat smile plastered on my harried face. Bring on the fussy decorations and cheery music. I love it all.

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Especially everything pink. I think pink is my official color of Christmas this year. Remember when I thought buying a pink tree was a risky decision? Eight years later it is still my favorite thing to set up. And speaking of setting up, our usual faux Christmas tree bit the dust this year and we made the scandalous decision to buy a fresh one. Oh, it smells so good.

Us with Norman, the tree

Meanwhile I am desperately researching the pros and cons of fake vs. real so I can debate my eco-friendly friends. It’s a lively discussion.

In other news right before Thanksgiving Bug and I went out to the sticks to hang out with my family AND go to Oak Glen to get apples.

Apples in the sticks

Of course we stopped at Snowline to get mini apple cider doughnuts piping hot off the conveyer belt. We discovered them last year and now it’s tradition. They are sooooo good!

I am so sadly off my healthy-eating journey right now. I have lofty plans of working out every day and eating kale regularly but at every turn I find some meaningful treat that I cannot pass up. And have I been getting up early to work out or walk the dogs in the rain? Nope. It is a losing battle. I’m hoping come spring I somehow shed this habit.

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And speaking of eating, I cooked a perfect turkey again! I brag because I used to be such mediocre cook. Yes, I’m getting better as the years go by but every time I don’t ruin Thanksgiving I feel like I should get a trophy or something.  I think next year I will stop bragging. It was nice to have family over and Payam finished the great piano bench! I will have to do a whole post on it with proper pictures that I do not have right now.woosh-its-christmas-6

You know what time it is? The annual Christmas photo time. We are so basic. But now that I’ve started this tradition it’s not like I can stop. This year my friend Clio took the pictures and they turned out great against all odds. She’s a great photographer but we had so much going against us this year.

We drove all the way to LA to take them (she lives there) and somehow took opposite directions than the ones she gave us. Neither of us knew that the park had two separate entrances so we spent about an hour trying to find each other with spotty cell coverage. It was horrible. We ran out of daylight AND we almost ran out of gas. It was highly stressful.

But Clio is a professional and she went ahead and shot us in the fuzzy after-golden-hour light and guess what? They turned out pretty good! I’m not sharing our favorite shots yet because I’m saving them for the Christmas card.

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In other news November is our official anniversary month so Payam took me on this crazy adventure to Neotropolis, a Blade Runner-themed experience. It was silly but also super cool because I love surprise adventures AND I love historical buildings. The bar was located down a dark alley in the back of a pizza restaurant that used to be an old bank building. It was like walking into the future and back in time. We explored the boiler room and some secret passageways that were used as vaults for the bank and for smuggling alcohol during the prohibition. There were even bullet holes in the wall from when the police busted a speak-easy that was set up down there.

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Can you see the hastily-done victory rolls in my hair? I was trying. It wasn’t properly done but I think it’s sort of is reminiscent of Rachel. Anyway, I had a great time. I love to dress up!

I shall try to get back here and write more holiday snippet stories but who am I kidding, I’ll probably see you after New Years. Which, by the way, we are NOT having a NYE party this year. I know?!! So unlike me. But I’m taking a year off to save money. I had dreams of renting a cabin instead but it looks like that isn’t going to happen either. It’s okay. Not spending money is sometimes almost as exciting as spending money.

Hope your holidays are going well!

The Unfortunate Timeshare Time-Suck and the 4am Fun Bunch

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Payam and I took a trip to Vegas this past weekend to celebrate our SIXTH anniversary (of not being married but acting like it). It was pretty fun of course. But let me tell you about the timeshare time-suck we got suckered into. Hah! Did I say the word suck enough? Because it sucked. Like a hoover. Those of you who have been through one of those Wyndham Resort Sales pitches are shaking your heads and laughing at me right now, I know.

Whooo. Boy. What a doozy.

A few drinks may have been involved when Payam and I stumbled out into the night air in search of cheap food. Suddenly out of nowhere someone offered me free Mystere tickets.  You could say it was an organized attack. Why, yes I would like some Mystere tickets. What’s the catch? Nothing, you just have to sit through a 120 minute sales pitch AND guess what, the sales woman will throw in her commission! Just sign your name on the line 15 times and put down fifty bucks that you’ll get back tomorrow.  That doesn’t sound like a scam at all! Well, not to somebody like me who’s spirit animal is tequila AND I really really wanted to go to a show instead of watch Payam gamble all night.

So yeah. We got suckered like the big fat bunch of suckers we are. The next morning we headed to our rendezvous to wait for our shuttle to take the tour. Thirty minutes later we actually got on the tour bus with ten other suckers just like us. You could hear the bleating of all the sheep before slaughter. The woman in front of us told us that back in the day she used to go to four of these a day and practically spend three days in Vegas for free with all the compensation “gifts”. That lifted my spirits a little but it turns out she was totally wrong.

They took us to another hotel and loaded up another 10 suckers before we finally made it to the Wyndham Resort itself, which let me tell you is nothing much. I mean I could understand wanting to sink some investments into Vegas property as the prices soar yearly now that they have multiple resident sports teams and plans of a super fast train between LA and Vegas but… the property itself was not anything I would really seek out. I’m all about boutique hotels and adventure and charm. Wyndham is about families and comfort and having your own kitchen. They didn’t even have a breakfast buffet for us. The “snacks” were gross coffee, powdered cream and a few packaged Danish cheese rolls. I was ready to get out already and we hadn’t even started our 120 minutes.

This was just the beginning of a very complicated waiting game designed to torture and subdue. After another fifteen minutes or so we finally met our friendly Persian sales guy. Of course they stuck us with the Persian guy. I’m sure they put down all the names on a table and when they saw a name that ended in a vowel Payam was a goner. Payam tried to pretend he doesn’t speak Farsi but that lasted all of three seconds. Before he knew it they were shaking hands and talking about where to get the best koobideh in town.

I won’t write up a whole play-by-play of the rest of the torture game but let me just say it was a lot of waiting and NOT talking about numbers. Whenever we would ask what it costs they would say, What is vacation worth to you? It was all about family values and making memories and how horrible you should feel if you don’t spend quality time with your family. Can you really put a price on that?

Yes, actually I can and it does NOT cost me four hours of my day in Vegas. So finally like fifty years later when my eyes were rolling back in my head and Payam was about to break out some karate to get out of there, they told us what the down payment would be. We obviously did not have the money for the deeply secret down payment and we were not interested in getting a loan to finance it. I mean, we did get suckered into the sales pitch but we aren’t complete morons. But that didn’t mean they didn’t try all the tricks in the book. Gifts and incentives galore, lots of going in and out of offices to consult with management. I felt like I was back in a 1990’s car dealership buying my first car. Our sales guy even had the body oder to match.

We were so done. When we finally signed a document saying we really were not interested (imagine that?!!) and we finally got our “gifts,” Payam and I didn’t even want to wait for our shuttle back to our hotel. We ordered an uber and got out of there as fast as we could.

BUT we did get tickets to Mystere and it was awesome!  It is true, there are no bad seats in the house for Mystere. We thought we’d be stuck in the back with our level 3/4 freebie seats but they were great. It was a great show. I can’t say say they were WORTH the four hours of torture but I would definitely pay full price for them.

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After the show we met up with my good friend Bethany (from 9th grade!!!) and Stephan (her roommate and therefore my buddy too) who live in Vegas. We partied like rockstars which lead to us exploring Fremont street at 4am like the locals do. It was crazy and fun and I laughed my voice hoarse. Bethany and I always get each other busting up since we have a lot of material being old college roommates and beyond.

And then I got the idea we should take pictures in front of this really well lit pizza sign. Because why not? Bomb lighting is bomb lighting!

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What a bunch of nuts, right? Good thing we only do this once or twice a year.