Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving in Ohio

We had the best of best visits in Ohio. We arrived in Cincinnati on Tuesday and went to Marissa and Nate's house for a glass of champers. Their apartment is even more fab than I expected it to be (and I had high expectations) so I am super-impressed with Marissa's interior design skills. From there we went to the original Skyline Chili. What a treat! Even with the sticky air and impatient waitress, what's not to love about Skyline?? Ok, I was almost sick afterwards (I was so full), but it was a memorable event. It was great to see Marissa and Nate and their new apartment. From there, Matt and I drove to my dad's in Columbus. We had planned to stay overnight in Cinci, but I was still feverish from the flu so we left early. Highlights of our visit included the champagne toasts, seeing Marissa's little home, Skyline!, and of course, Marissa and Nate's tandem waiving performance as we left.

On Wednesday, Erin, Matt and I went to look at the Jackson, the new condos in the Short North. The condos aren't finished yet, so we had to wear hard hats. It was like going through a construction site, but it was really fun to imagine how cool the apartments will be when they are finished. It was also great to have Erin with us to start to bring her into (hopefully!) our real estate investment business. She seems really interested and is already excited about real estate as a junior in college. Fab! At the end of the tour, I actually asked the realtor to take our picture. From there, the three of us met my mom and Tina at Northstar Cafe for a festive holiday lunch.

That night, I got to see Katie & Jay at their salon. Our visit was too short, but as always, it is so refreshing to visit with them. They are the type of friends that are never judgmental and always keep you thinking about something new. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will have a visit with them next summer.

From there, I went back to my house to see Uncle Dick and the rest of the Pursglove family, who had arrived that afternoon. Wednesday night and Thursday were fantastic and just how I imagined they would be. Talking, eating, drinking - everything required for a Pursglove family Thanksgiving. It was my favorite Thanksgiving yet. This year I got smart at the meal too. I filled half of my plate with stuffing and only sampled the rest of the food. Of course I love to try everything, but honestly, I just can't get enough of Nannie's stuffing recipe. Because of this new plan, I wasn't overwhelmingly stuffed, which was a nice change from the usual Tgiving food coma.

I was also happy that my dad agreed to get a farm raised, antibiotic and hormone free turkey. I am generally not eating meat out of protest of how animals are raised. But I do really enjoy meat sometimes. So, if the meat is humanely raised (i.e. allowed to roam around, not spending its entire life standing in its own waste, not trapped in a space in which it can never move until the day it dies, etc.), I am happy to eat it. I was really proud that Joe agreed to the turkey. He pointed out that he could basically get a regular turkey for free at the grocery store, whereas he would have to spend around $75 to get the turkey I wanted. But after we discussed the benefits of the good turkey, he agreed. He even drove across town to pick it up.

On Thanksgiving night, we all went out in the Short North for a drink. What a blast! Everyone was there - even Marissa and Nate, Marissa's brother Mark and his girlfriend, and Aaron Smith met up! I couldn't have been happier enjoying such great company.

The next day Matt and I drove to the outlets (half way between Columbus and Cincinnati) to meet Karen and Michael. Bob Evans is the only restaurant choice off the exit we meet, so we (unfortunately) had to eat there. But as usual, the conversation was great, and it was so nice to see them.

From there, we spent the rest of the weekend at my mom's. Eating, talking, relaxing, shopping, baking, and celebrating Christmas. It was really an ideal visit.

On the Christmas note, I was so grateful this year that my family agreed to do "thought gift Christmas". This partially came about because Sam, Laura, Matt and I won't be in Columbus this year for Christmas. Matt and I are going to Oregon and Sam and Laura are going to New Orleans (where her family lives). But it also came about because I wanted Christmas this year to be about what's really important. Spending time with family and friends and showing people how much you love them. For that, a thought gift is perfect. And I just can't tell you how much I enjoyed giving and receiving these gifts. Grammie gave me an antique plate from her house, Tina gave me a book she loved, Dad gave me a fabulous coin set for my collection, Neetie gave a Christmas pop-up book (also for my collection)...I could go on. Everything was so meaningful and warmed my heart in such a special way. So I appreciate that my family was willing to try something new this year. I hope we can try something new next year (when we will be there for Christmas) - all in the name of making the holidays more meaningful and memorable.

Now that December is here, holiday plans are in full swing! This is definitely my favorite time of year. Getting dressed up, going to parties, seeing close friends and friends you have hardly seen, wonderful I'm moving!

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

Jessica O.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Max!

Matt was in St. Louis for his actual birthday (Thursday), so we celebrated on Friday and Saturday. We were going to go to dinner Friday night, but I had to work until 8pm and by the time I got home, Matt was exhausted after barely sleeping the night before and getting up at the crack of dawn to fly back to LA. So we ordered a pizza (at one of our favorites - Nicky D's Woodfired Pizza) and ate cake. The cake might be the most tasty I've ever made. It's called Melted Ice Cream Cake and includes a pint of melted ice cream in the recipe and is topped with Chocolate Marshmellow Frosting. Matt and I have been eating cake for most meals for the past three days (even though Alex and I gave up sugar)! I am not counting the cake as sugar...

After a full day of apartment searching on Saturday, we went to Bella in Hollywood for dinner. It was more a place to be seen than it was a restaurant with exceptional food, but we enjoyed the meal and each other's company. Lots of toasts and dreaming about what the next year holds for us.

Because Thanksgiving is this week, Hollywood was empty. It was eerie to drive down Hollywood Blvd. without traffic, but it really fits the makeup of our city. LA is full of people from all over the world, but almost no one here is actually from LA. I think that's one of the things that makes LA charming.

We also got an apartment yesterday! We narrowed it down to two - one in Miracle Mile and one in Santa Monica. In the end, we decided to move back to Miracle Mile. We got a 4th (top) floor apartment in a beautiful building that is really close to where we used to live. Matt and I both wanted to get this apartment, the only thing holding us back was the fact that we would have loved something new. Especially exploring Santa Monica and Venice. But in the end, the location of the apartment we were considering in Santa Monica wasn't great and I would have had a much longer commute, so we decided to get the apartment in Miracle Mile. We are moving in on December 12th, and I will post photos. It is a fantastic apartment with a beautiful view of the Hollywood Hills. I am just ecstatic!

Jessica O.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We have renters!!!!!!

Today is the day!! We finally have renters for our apartment! I just can't tell you how happy I am. Matt and I have been looking at new apartments both in Miracle Mile and in Santa Monica. We are going to move out of our apartment on December 12th. The fact that it was so hard for us to find renters is good for us now that we're looking at apartments. Lots of great deals! We are going to see a place on Saturday on 6th St. in Santa Monica, and we also have several great options in Miracle Mile (near West Hollywood and the Grove). The apartment on 6th is 3 blocks from Main Street (cute restaurants, shops and bars) and 6 blocks from the ocean. The only downside to Santa Monica would be my commute downtown. Only time will tell where we'll live, but it is such a GREAT day! I am leaving Echo Park! Only to return to keep our property looking good...

Last weekend, our friend Derek was in LA. It was great to see him. We went to Chaya (a new restaurant downtown) and to the Standard for drinks on Thursday. We saw him again on Saturday for brunch in West Hollywood at Taste. After brunch, we went to his friend's house in the Hollywood Hills for a glass of wine. The house had the most gorgeous view, and these photos were taken from the balcony.

Matt and I loved seeing Derek. We haven't seen him for years, and then we saw him in September in Paris and in November in LA. So nice!

I am also so excited about Thanksgiving. We are flying into Cincinnati next Tuesday to spend the evening with Marissa and Nate. Possible plans so far include: eating at the original Skyline Chili, trying to keep Odin away from their cats and going out downtown. From the photos I've seen, Marissa and Nate might have the most fab apartment of anyone I know. I can't wait to see them and their new life in Cinci. On Wednesday, we are driving up to Columbus to stay at my dad's for a few days. It will be a classic Pursglove Thanksgiving with Joe, Tina, Rudy, Sam, Laura, Grammie, Uncle Dick, Aunt Sandy, Samantha, Melanie and Alexandra (our cousins) as well as at least 4 dogs. It doesn't feel like a real Thanksgiving without the Pursglove family in town, Nannie's turkey and stuffing recipe, dogs everywhere and a house full of loud family members constantly talking and laughing.

On Wednesday we have appointments to see two condos that are potential investments, and Rudy (Erin) is coming with us to see the properties. I can't wait for time with her because I just think the world of her! I think she must be one of the most fun, interesting, just overall lovely people I know. (I'm off on a tangent.) On Friday, we are meeting Karen (who lives in Chicago) and Michael for brunch and then going to my mom's house for the rest of the weekend to bake, talk, eat, and hang out. Could I ask for more???

Jessica O.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Michelle & Justin's Baby Shower and Deep Thoughts (by Jessica O.)

We had Michelle and Justin's shower on Saturday, and it was so much fun! It was a cocktail party at Michelle's friend's house in Pasadena and there were about 25 people.

Highlights included: seeing Annie and Alex (time with all of the cousins together), adorable (and of course always fashionable) pregnant Michelle, seeing Mr. and Mrs. Feldman's excitement as Michelle and Justin opened gifts, fabulous Chinese lanterns hanging outside, meeting Michelle's new sister-in-law, baking a cake from scratch with Matt, party planning with Mieke and entertaining. Every time I throw a party, I realize how much I miss entertaining. We always had people over when we lived in W. Hollywood, and I am looking forward to starting that up again as soon as we move.

After the shower, Michelle, Justin, Annie and Alex came to our house for drinks. It was so nice!! Really a highlight to have cousin time, and we always have the best time with the Pursgloves. This was no exception.

Matt and I are STILL trying to rent our house. Only 5 weeks have passed since we put it up for rent, but it seems like a lifetime. Where are you, renters??????? Now that we've lowered the price to $1595, we've had a lot of people come to see the place, so I think it's at least around the right price now. But at least 5 people have said that they love the house and would move in immediately except that we don't have hardwood floors. I had no idea that hardwood floors were such a big deal to people. Is this an LA thing or a renter's thing? I actually prefer carpet because hardwood floors hurt my feet, but apparently I'm in the minority. Live and learn.

I have also been thinking a lot about adjusting my expectations of how I think my life should be. I guess in the past, life has generally gone the way I planned for it to go. This past year (besides our fab trip) nothing has gone the way I planned for it to go. I have been fighting this tooth and nail, all the while just thinking, if I work harder or push more, things will turn out the way I want them to. I guess life is trying to teach me a lesson. Well, I hear you loud and clear, Life!! A year later, I am finally coming to accept that right now, my life isn't how I want it to be. Things aren't going "my way" but believe it or not, I am finally starting to accept it.

Matt and I were laughing last night because yet another thing that we had such high hopes for was falling apart. We were laughing because at this point, it doesn't even upset us. Really. It's more like I'm just watching everything happen in my life from some third person point of view. It's so unbelievable because I keep thinking that this must be it. Pretty soon things will start to turn around. They have to right? What more could we possibly do? I guess they don't, and all I can think is that I've got to be learning something from this experience.

I had a conversation related to this topic with my friend Nate on Saturday at the shower. We were talking about how hard this year has been for both of us. The best part of the conversation was that we agreed that it is during the hard times that your true character really comes out. It's easy to be positive, to work hard, to be a great person, etc. when life is going your way. It's much harder when life is challenging, but it's only during the challenging times that you really grow as a person. It's during the challenging times that you have a chance to prove to yourself who you really are. And do you choose to rise to the occasion? Can you still be positive (or at least accepting), work hard, make goals, move forward?

I hope that's what I'm choosing to do. It may have taken me this whole year to do it, but I am finally choosing to accept what I can and can't change in my life. I'm trying to be a supportive wife and friend. I'm trying to be honest about who I am without being a Debbie (Downer for those of you who don't know). I trying to continue to work towards my dreams. Am I succeeding? I have no idea. All I know is that I'm doing better at those things than I was earlier this year. And I guess that's good enough for me right now.

Jessica O.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spooky Scary Halloween

Marissa came to visit last week and we had such a great time! It was really hard to work while she was at our house because I kept thinking about my little Bebekins being here, but luckily I got to leave early both Thursday and Friday. It was an ideal trip filled with lots of talking, fun and good food. On Friday, Max and Marissa came downtown for lunch, and we ate at my favorite pizza-by-the-slice restaurant. That night we went to a fab Halloween party.

It was at the Skirball, which is a museum on the West side. There were probably about 1,000 people there and everyone was SO dressed up. People went all out, which made for a fantastic Halloween party. From Superman to the boy from Up (complete with the boyscout outfit and balloons) to Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman to Smurfette (blue skin and all) to the Angel of Death (who danced all night and never took off his mask) - the people watching was amazing.

We were there talking, walking around and dancing until 2. We spent most of the next day relaxing. Relaxing included Marissa and I getting a Thai massage. Then we went next door and got Thai food to go. So much fun! I can't wait until she comes to visit again.

Jessica O.