Thursday, August 31, 2006

Viva Las Vegas!

Well, my good friend Wendy and her friend Vanessa were going to Vegas for a Fashion convention, so Eva and I decided to join them at the Palms Hotel. We drove up on an early Sunday morning and stayed until Tuesday. Despite the fact that I was sick almost the entire trip, we had a great time! Here is the picture of the 4 of us by the pool (where we spent most of our days!). Eva, Wendy and I all went to grade school together- believe it or not! Wendy and I actually met in Kindergarten and Eva came to St. John's when we were in the 6th grade. Its crazy to think that we have known each other for that long and it was so fun reminiscing about old times- and we seemed to do that the entire time! Poor Vanessa had to hear story after story... and there were some pretty good stories.
So the time I was in Vegas and could actually function, I had a pretty good time. We had an awesome meal at this place called Tao in the Venetian Hotel. We had some delicious sushi and great martinis! Definitely a must-eat place. Later that night, we went to "Light"- the club at the Bellagio Hotel and we were so Vegas and it was so funny. We got there and there were a ton of people waiting to go in, but party girl Vanessa got us on the list and we walked right in. I haven't even done that in LA! Here are some pics of us from that night.... I love the one that Eva took of all of us in the elevator!
The next night, I was feeling worse- I think I over did it the night before... so I stayed in while the girls went to dinner. It felt so good just to rest and watch TV. Although it was probably worse because Dateline NBC came on and it was a Hurricane Katrina special and it was hard to watch alone. My phone rang and my friend Krista (from just so happened to be in Vegas and was at the House of Blues (in Mandalay Bay!). So instead of staying in alone, I ended up rallying and getting up and dressed and jumped in a taxi headed to HOB Foundation Room. We had a drink, caught up and I headed back to the Palms and called it a night. My big one hour out of the hotel that night- but Krista was well worth getting up!

We got up early to all drive back to Los Angeles... it was a quick drive back! Thanks sooo much Eva for driving us. Can't wait for our next trip, hopefully this time I will feel much better!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: 1 Year Anniversary

Well, the only thing that I can think about lately is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and I've had many flashbacks about that day... actually, this past year. Its unbelievable to think about what we went through and where we all are today. Many of us spread out all over the country with 1/2 or less of what we had before, living in new cities, trying to find new jobs, new homes and most importantly, a new network of friends and if you are lucky- hopefully you still have family close by. I am really lucky to be where I am today and wanted to thank everyone out there who has helped me, because I really couldn't of done it without you.

I was able to find a little group of friends here in Los Angeles, most of us relocating here after the storm for one reason or the next. I live with my brother and his girlfriend who has graciously let me stay in their spare bedroom until I get all the way on my feet- and I think I am almost there (cross your fingers that this potential job comes through!). I can't tell you enough how thankful I am to be in such a wonderful city, surrounded by wonderful people.

You try and find the good in what all has happened to us and at the end of the day, no matter what has happened- I know that I am lucky and blessed to be where I am. It was hard to see that up until recently, but things do happen for a reason and if you keep believing in the good things in life, then it just might happen and become reality.

All I have seen and read these past 48 hours has been nothing but coverage of the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which is actually on Tuesday, August 29th. For those of you reading, I just wanted to post some television specials coming up that look interesting-- all looking back at this past year. I am sure it might be hard to watch, but if you are interested, here are a few:
- Anderson Cooper is doing a special on Hurricane Katrina TODAY, Saturday 8/26 (I am sure they will re-run this) Click here for more info on programming and time..
- Discovery Channel's Hurricane Katrina special: Sunday night 8/27 Click here for more info on programming and time.
- Spike Lee Flick "When the Levees Broke" Tuesday night 8/29, get ready because it's 4 hours long! Debuted in New Orleans at the Superdome, Click here for more info on programming and time.

Click here to see some pictures from one year ago. (Scroll down to the Hurricane Katrina albums). August 29th will always be a day of observance in my life and I am sure in many other lives. I will be thinking of all you guys that have been affected and that's about everyone I know. Know that you are in my thoughts and in my prayers and I send my love to you all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Night out in Hollywood

Well, what started out as a tough night for everyone to get together ended up being fantastic! We were supposed to meet Jane and everyone at the Hotel Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd at 7:30 but because of my surf lesson, I was running late! So apparently, after a certain time, this place requires you to be on a "guest list" and had the red velvet rope thing going on. This is the first time I really felt like I was in "Hollywood". I know, I've been here a month and haven't done the "club" thing. Oh well, you live and learn.

So since the rest of the guys were on time, they were already by the pool bar called Tropicana. So here I was, I can see Jane on the other side of the rope while the bouncer dude was telling her that there was no way Ron and I could get in (and later they said if I were with a chick- they would have let me in... man Ron!). So Ron and I had to go to plan B-- to meet Vanessa and Stephanie where they were because they couldn't get in either!

Well, long story short- we ALL ended up at the Hollywood Grill just a block away next to the Chinese Theatre and it was so nice to have all of these people from New Orleans all together! There was also her cousin Alli, who just moved here from NY and my friend Dena who was also there.
After we left there, Vanessa, Stephanie and me and Ron went to an Irish bar for one more before we called it a night. After surfing and going out... I was ready to go home and crash!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Surfing in Ventura

This was my first time ever surfing in California! Well, other than the few times my brother Ron taught me how to surf in Pensacola- this was my first time to do some real surfing!!!

My friend Mattson took me to Ventura Beach on Saturday and thankfully got me a board and a wetsuit that fit me! We went to a few beaches until we decided on this one beach which was really good for beginner surfers- the waves were perfect for me- not too big, but big enough for me to learn! The water was really warm, my spring suit that I wore was only a 3 mil and I really could have gone just in my bathing suit. The water was so nice and refreshing! There were a ton of surfers out and lots of "classes" or little "surf camps" going on! I think there were more female surfers out then males-- you gotta love that!

I must say that Mattson was a good teacher because I caught like 10 waves! Well, that might have to do with him pushing me into all the waves I did catch. Me on my own? Yeah, not so much. But it felt like I rode the waves for a mile and sometimes I would go all the way to the beach where I would just hop off the board, turn around, get back in the water and hop back on the board to start paddling wayyyy out to where he was. Sometimes I was so far and had drifted so much I couldn't tell where he was anymore. He said I did good though so now I just need to practice more and get better! I LOVE it!!!!

We surfed for a couple of hours and the next day, I couldn't move a muscle-- and I ran and did an hour weight class before we even went surfing! I am addicted to it now and I think we are going to go again this week-- I want to buy my own board now!

We didn't get to take any pictures of me actually surfing since we were both in the water the whole time but here are just a couple shots I took with my camera phone (so that's why they look like crap!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Getty : Fridays on the 405

Once a month, they have live music at The Getty (for free!) in the courtyard and they call this series "Fridays on the 405". It's great because like The Hollywood Bowl, you can bring in your own food, blankets, etc.. just no liquor, and set up your own picnic and enjoy live music! Check out the pictures of what the venue looked like- it has amazing views of LA! Again, a beautiful night -- just perfect weather, a nice little breeze and good friends all together- you can't beat that. Ron and I met Vanessa, my girl Norah and Josh and some other friends and everyone was super cool. It was a great group- her sister Stephanie brought Peter and Andrew and Peter was a riot. Vanessa's friend Kacie and her boyfriend and also her acupuncturist, Claudia (who I need to go see!). Here are some pics of us at the Getty.
We also met Pervesh and Aarti and their daughter Nikita (so cute!) and I have a feeling we'll be BFF.. they were super cool and live around there but are moving to West Hollywood so they will be closer to us! We had so much fun that night that we are planning a potluck at Vanessa's house (so nice of you to be the hostess!) after Labor Day. Nikita and Norah totally hit it off and they were sooo cute dancing together and copying everything each other was doing. We ate a TON, drank a ton of wine and danced until it was over... and even then we stuck around hanging out. The security guards finally had to come over and tell us to leave. We are definitely going to try and make it to every one of the "Fridays on the 405"! Next time, maybe try and sneak in some wine!

Hollywood Bowl : Gengis Cohen

This was my first time ever at the Hollywood Bowl and it was such a beautiful night! The Brass Monkey Brass Band, The Neville Brothers and the Original Meters played! It was so weird to see New Orleans music live in Los Angeles. It made me a bit sad because it made me miss New Orleans just that much more. I wished all my friends from New Orleans could have been there with me, but my brother Ron was there... so I guess that worked!
It was a gorgeous night and you could tell who was from New Orleans and who wasn't... they played all New Orleans favorites so natives would yell and scream when their favorites songs were performed!

After that was over, Ron and I headed to meet my new friend Jane (from New Orleans) at a place called Gengis Cohen. It was such a cool and cozy venue- sort of the MTV unplugged atmosphere except the room only held about 50 folks. There were 2 women there playing acoustic guitar and one was a good friend of Jane's and her name was Libby. She played the keyboards and guitar and the other woman, Joan Jones, played those as well and the trumpet which was really cool. We all got to know each other after the set was over and everyone was super nice. They play every Wednesday night at 9pm so if you are reading this and in LA, come meet us next Wed!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dinner with our cousins

Just wanted to post the only picture we took (the battery died!) the night that Rex, Antoinette, Marianne, Cathy, Ron, me and Rexanne went to dinner when Marianne was in town. We met at Antoinette's house and then we took Rex's dad's hummer to dinner! We all fit in there and you could have squeezed probably 10 more people! We tried going to this Brazilian restaurant in Covina and by the time we got there, they had already stopped serving! So, we drove around for a bit longer and finally sat down to eat at the Cheesecake Factory in Pasedena. That was my first time in that area but I loved it and there are some really cool places to hang out and shop.

Looking forward to more dinner night and Marianne- we will see you in a little less than two weeks in Vegas! Come back to LA and visit again soon! Love everyone-- hope all is well! Riza

Friday, August 18, 2006

Kimaree comes to visit!

It was so great to see Kimaree and meet her friend and my new buddy Jane! We met at her husband's parents home (which was absolutely beautiful!) and got to hang out by the pool and go for a dip, catch up with each other and get some sun! Max's parents were so sweet and they made a delicious salad, fresh fruit, some yummy cookies and champagne! You just can't beat that... Their dog Jacko hung out with us too and even got in the pool with us! Kimaree and I have only been friends for a little over a year and I actually met her a couple of months before Katrina hit. We immediately clicked and now I consider her one of my really good friends. We can talk about anything and everytime I see her, its like we saw each other yesterday. She has shared not only her friendship with me, but her awesome friends too (like Anne Marie and Jane... who was born and raised in New Orleans!). So thanks Kimaree and come back soon! Or actually, I need to go there and visit soon-- maybe when it cools down a bit! (These were all taken by my camera phone so that's why they look all funny!)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eva's soon-to-be dream home!

The next day, Eva took me to her land in Acton that she bought, along with 3 other people. They bought 20 acres of land and are going to start building on it hopefully in the next 6 months! I am SO proud of her and all of her accomplishments and when they get done building their dream house, they better build an extra room for me to crash in because you know I can't get enough of landsailing!

Here are pictures of us standing on the future site of Eva and Lester's house. Its going to be cool to see the "after" shots when they clear the land here. The next picture is of Dave, who is one of their partners and his house will be on the other side of the hill. We hiked around their property for about an hour and there were some really interesting cactus, yucca plants and a bunch of other things I don't know the names of. We also spotted a white owl which flew out of his nest all the way across the way and landed in another big bush. The closer we got to him, he would know and fly again to a different spot until he made it to his original nest. His wingspan was huge and it was cool to see him fly around.

Eva told me what made this property an even sweeter deal was that all the utilities are ready to go! What an awesome investment and I am so excited that you are going to be able to build your dream home!

This shot above is random, but its of Dave's turtles that he has in a tank at his house. I thought they were super cool... check out their claws- I dig the albino one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Landsailing in Lancaster with Eva

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Lancaster and hanging out with my friend Eva, Lester and friends! It was such a great time and this was my first time in Lancaster and my first time landsailing! I got to Lancaster around 3:30 and we headed out to the lakebeds... it was a really cool drive out there and Eva and Lester were great tour guides!

We finally got out to the lakebeds and it was totally different than what I thought. I thought we were going to be in big sand dunes but its actually a huge lake that has dried up and since it had water on it (during the winter) its surface is super smooth. Check out this pic of the lake bed... you can see how smooth it is and because its so dry, it has cracks all in it and is a bit flaky. Eva and Lester unloaded the landsail and it looks just like a sailboat except with wheels and you steer with your feet! The skies were a picture perfect blue and the winds were on... perfect landsailing weather. Eva and I went first and we were whipping around the lake bed and covered almost 25 miles! We got up to over 40 miles per hour and did some 360s and slid all around! I went with Eva first and then Lester... (In the pic of me and Lester, check out the cool shadow of us and Eva taking our picture!)
We sailed until sunset... the sunsets there are so beautiful. They tell me that at night, when the moon is full- you don't even need lights out there because since there are no lights around, the moon is enough light to landsail! That would be so much fun! I can't wait until the next time we go!

Monday, August 14, 2006

P'cola transplants in LA

Ok, so its been a while since I've been to a karyoke bar (Cat's Meow, Bourbon Street) and this night, we went to a dive karyoke bar in the Valley, close to my friend Dena's house. It was a BLAST!!! Dena invited Cory Rouse and Carey Williams who I haven't seen in 15 years... since high school! They looked great and are both doing so well out here in Los Angeles. Maribeth was with me so she got to meet the crew and it was just weird to have the 5 of us from Pensacola in this small dive bar in Cali. Here is a pic of all of us...It was a really fun night with lots of talking, lots of drinks and lots of singing... K-Fed was in full effect and he cracked us up with his total cheesy songs... so entertaining!MB, you have to come back and visit all your boyfriends you made that night... they so miss you!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Glen Ivy Spa

Maribeth and I joined Vanessa, her sister Stephanie along with her friends for an awesome day at Glen Ivy spa! We were literally there all day until the place shut down, and even then we weren't ready to leave at all! At this place, people come from all around to get muddy in their mud bath, soak in their mineral spas and get some sun! The place is absolutely beautiful... you walk in and see nothing but palm trees, lounge chairs, pools-- its like Disneyland for adults! First we reserved our lounges and got some sun! I did some laps in the lap pool right before so when it was time for me to lounge, I got myself a pina colada and then joined the rest of the girls. Afterwards, we soaked in the mineral baths (like they recommend) before going into "Club Mud". They had individual hot tubs all in a row! This part was really cool because they had 2 different places you could mud yourself up with and after you get the mud on, you lay out and bake until the mud totally dries and then slough it off! It was amazing how good your skin felt after you did this.
Then we would rinse off and sit in the steam room! They had a cafe on the grounds that had a ton of outdoor seating and the best, biggest salads you have ever had! Maribeth and I split a steak and arugula salad and still couldn't finish it all! We went back and did the whole routine again, then laid out and got more sun, took naps and then finally it was time to go. We showered up in the locker rooms before hitting the road! Here is a picture of all of us after... aren't we glowing?