Monday, 30 December 2013

Roof Top Pool

They had me at roof top pool.

I came across those three words while searching for a hotel in Long Beach, somewhere to stay after our gondola ride in Naples.

Elevator ride to the 8th floor and this is what you see...

Back and forth across the pool.

Queen Mary (a retired ocean liner) off in the distance.

A place to lounge above the city.

Inside the room.

A wall.

With a spinning television.

A quote is embossed on the back that can only be read in the mirror.

 The art deco parking garage is magnificent.

A bridge, that looks like a roller coaster, allows easy access to cross the busy street.

Great place to stay and swim.

The couple next to us at checkout were raving about the doorbell on each room.

Didn't even notice that.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Gondola Ride in Naples

Christmas Eve was spent on a gondola ride around the canals and waterways of Naples in Long Beach.

It was soooooo much fun.

Checked in at the brown hut.

Lanterns for the evening rides.

Watched an earlier group take off.

Admired the sunset over Long Beach before we headed to our gondola.

Cozied up in the front of the boat covered with a blanket. Champagne on ice.

This house is worth 9.4 million dollars!

Spectacular lights and decorations.

Oh my.... this house wins for 'most illumination'.

Our 19-year old lifeguard/student/gondolier sang to us
in Italian before heading back to the dock.

Trees of light bobbed in the water.

Whether you take a ride with your sweetie, go with your entire family or book a gondolier cruise for a group of friends, this is a fabulous way to relax and enjoy time on the water....especially during the holidays when you can enjoy all the lights.

Our gondolier, Mike, told us that Valentine's Day is their busiest time of year.

Not surprising.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Mall Magic

The South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is sprawling.

High-end retail shops.

Gorgeous displays.

During the holidays it is truly over-the-top...

Yes, that is a REINDEER carousel.

I stayed away from malls for most of December.

But ventured into the South Coast Plaza on Christmas Eve Day.....the parking lot was a nightmare but the displays inside totally made up for it!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Wiggly Jiggly Jello Tree

As soon as I saw this Christmas Finger Jello from The Pioneer Woman, I pretty much knew that there would be jello on the table during the holidays.

It wasn't so much about the taste....does anyone really crave rubbery food items?

Especially when there are sugar cookies and candy and toffee and brownies and gum drops in the house.

But come on, there is just something about layered jello that is so appealing.

So I made a Christmas tree.

A Jello Christmas tree.

Out of the leftover layered jello that I made to cut some squares just like The Pioneer Woman.

Who wants a slice?

Or should we just jiggle it...

Monday, 23 December 2013

Gingerbread Houses 2013

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the evening we decorate Gingerbread Houses.

I have posted pictures of previous years here and here and here.

This year it was four of us. A small intimate gathering. Brimming with enough enthusiasm (and bowls of candy) to fill a village.

And that is exactly what we did!

My husband and I took on a village, which we referred to as CandyLand....

Houses assembled. Candy bowls filled.

Laying out the road and deciding how many trees to include.

Peppermint candy lane after melting in the oven.

Last minute details, ooops mailbox needs a flag.

Welcome to our CandyLand village - would you like a gum drop?

Our youthful guests spent time picking a theme, crafting 'jolly rancher' designs and working on miniature people.

Ta da, here is a discreet (and quite beautiful) Gingerbread Meth House featuring Walt and Jesse from the hit series Breaking Bad.

The inspiration!

Walt, Jesse, blue Jolly Rancher candy meth.....drying on the cutting board.

Such a sweet home!

Walt is out front in his hazmat suit.

Aerial shot - blow back from the explosion has landed bits of meth in snow piles.

Just before Walt and Jesse hit the ground!

A really fun tradition.

 And photo-worthy!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Notice Anything Odd?

Clear blue bright sky in December?

     Well, this is Del Mar so that is not unusual.

Lack of crowds at the beach?

     Well, there are only 9 shopping days till Christmas so folks are at the mall.

Boy talking on his cell phone while standing in the middle of a train track?

     Yeah, thought that was pretty odd.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Firebox Customer Service

Ok, there is good service and then there is service with whimsy that makes you really glad that you purchased the following to put in your husband's stocking for Christmas.

Here is the $13.09 bike gadget.

(Because bikers need every gadget under the sun)

But, even better,  here is the email response after I ordered it:

Hi, Ms. -------,

Thanks very much for your order. You really are rather nice. 

This "exciting" email is to confirm a few things you probably already

1. Your online shopping skills are truly exceptional. 
2. Firebox has strong feelings for you. 
3. See 1 & 2. 

Just in case you were possessed by aliens/malevolent spirits intent on a
high-quality impulse buying spree, here’'s a confirmation of what you/they

Order number ------, placed on the 13th December 2013.

Your box of goodies will contain:
1 x Bike SpokeLit                        @   13.09 USD =      13.09 USD
    Standard. Shipping:                                        5.31 USD
    Total:                                                    18.40 USD

    Amount paid using cards:                                  18.40 USD

Our warehouse team will slip it (carefully) into our hand-folded packaging
and have it on its way to the address below as soon as possible. (Most
orders ship within 2 working days, but for personalised or direct despatch
items, check the product page).

We'll even drop you another email to let you know once it’s out the door.
Remember, please allow 2 working days for your order to leave our busy
Christmas warehouse.

Until we meet again, stay out of trouble.



We stand by our products, and that’s why we offer a 30 day Return Policy;
so if there are any issues just let us know. 

If you want to chat, hit us up on 0800 044 5010 (UK Free phone) or 0044 20
33683410 (International call rates). Alternatively, you can reply to this
email or collar us at