Sunday, May 31, 2015

Something New

“I bought something new,” I said setting a wrapped package on the coffee table. 
“Is it for me?” Mr. Wonderful said shaking the package.
“For Jackson?”
“For The House?”
“Who’s it for who then?”

When you do everything for everyone else all the time, people and felines tend to forget that you need anything like a break; want anything like a new treasure; or dream of anything like a mani-pedi with a foot massage happy ending.

So after buying Mr. Wonderful everything that his chicken heart desired, purchasing for Jackson the coolest catnip toys and shopping for The House at the home improvement store for months, I finally took matters into my own hands. I went shopping for me. 

And it was glorious! Now I’m not one of those big spenders throwing money around like dirty tissues during flu season. If I’m feeling blue I do not need to buy a huge-ticket item to feel better. Nor do I need to buy multiple items to improve my mood. All I actually need is to get one nice thing. In fact when I have been sad I’ve been known to accept things for free, which cheered me up just as much as buying something. And once at the beach I even found a perfectly round stone so I brought it home and that free stone—now paperweight—still makes me grin with pleasure. 

For me it’s not about the spending, it’s about the getting something beautiful to remind me that life is beautiful.

On this particular afternoon I was running errands, when through a shop window I saw a pretty yellow vase with a doughnut hole. It was tall with an appealing shape and color, the shade of which would match the dining room. But did I need another vase? Nope. I walked on. After running my errands and meeting a friend for a wine tasting, I passed the shop window again. The yellow vase was still there. I still liked it. But did I need another vase? Yes! Hooray for wine tasting.

I bought it, brought it home and filled it with water, a white Lily and a red Gerber Daisy. I didn’t need it. But it brightened my day reminding me on this May gray day that life is beautiful. 

“That looks good,” Mr. Wonderful said pointing to the flowers in the vase.
“Thanks,” I nodded gazing at it while a smile teased my lips.
“I like when you buy things for you.”
“Especially when I get to enjoy them, too.”

Everyone likes a little beauty to remind them that life is beautiful. Enjoy this beautiful day!

Want to read more? Get Alicia Bien's Award-Winning Book EVOLUTION OF A WINE DRINKER.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Challenge

I wanted it.
I'd trained for it.
I had to win it.
But I didn't count on Jackson.

Memorial Day is about remembering those military men and women who have fought for our country.  To them I say, "Thank you, ladies and gentleman, for your service."

Across America, Memorial Day is also about boating, BBQ and beaucoup beer. In my California neighborhood it is also about putting out the American flag first. My neighbors and I could keep our flags up all day, every day and night, but we don't. That would be cheating. Last year I noticed how my 86 year-old neighbor had decorated his front yard in 76 mini flags before I could even get my one large flag displayed.

"Hey Harold, you're quick with the flag draw," I said pointing to his flag display.
"You have to get up pretty early to beat me to it," he said folding his arms across his chest.
"Are you challenging me?"
"I'm just saying: I'm always the first one in the neighborhood to put up the flag," he shrugged and shuffled off into his house. He was... gloating.

Challenge accepted, Harold. You. Are. Going. Down.

I prepped for our competition. For weeks I set my phone alarm for the crack of dawn. I practiced putting on my shoes while half asleep. I trained in lifting the flag like the soldiers of the Iwo Jima statue. Finally the big day arrived. The night before Memorial Day I pulled the flag out of the closet, propped it next to the kitchen door and dusted off its exterior flag mount on the front of the house. Fully prepared, I went to bed. On M-Day I rose at 5:45 AM, pulled on my clothes and shoes and peered outside. Harold's flag was not up. Ah-hah! I raced to the kitchen door sure of victory.

Unfortunately Jackson did not know that Harold and I had a serious competition going on at this hour of the day. Rather he thought I had arisen from a deep, snored-infused sleep to feed him his can of wet food. As I approached the kitchen door Jackson was threading his body in and out of my legs. How could I get outside with this cat tripping me up? I couldn't. Boom. I fell over the feline and landed in a downward-facing dog pose.

Walking my hands toward my feet I stood up, tore open the pantry and grabbed a can of salmon shreds cat food. Pulling off its seal proof top, I slid it in front of the cat like a deli's short order cook then resumed my flag competition.

Opening the door I rushed outside, grabbed the flag and sped to the front of the house. Unfurling the stars and stripes I stabbed the pole into its mount. A smile spread across my face. Success! I beat Harold! Then turning to my neighbor's yard, my stomach fell. Harold's flag was mounted and flapping in the gentle morning breeze. It looked beautiful. What didn't look beautiful was my second place finish.

But then I thought about it: flying the flag--whether you're first in the neighborhood or last--is about honoring our servicemen and women. Which means anyone who flies a flag is a winner. Or at least that's my consolation prize for this heart-breaking second place.

Wishing you a fun and thankful Memorial Day!

Want to read more? Get Alicia Bien's Award-Winning Book EVOLUTION OF A WINE DRINKER.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Her Day

I'm glad she gets one day out of 365.
I'm glad our culture pauses to say thanks to the woman who holds it together.
I'm glad Mr. Wonderful finally made me breakfast.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! Thanks for all you do, for whenever you do it and for doing it even when you're bone tired. Your kids appreciate it. At least I do.

Also, thanks to Anna Jarvis and Hallmark for making this a day when women don't make breakfast. This morning Mr. Wonderful stepped up to the plate and served me homemade crepes. They were so tasty I think Mother's Day should happen more than once a year!

Any takers?

Sunday, May 3, 2015


"What's this?" Mr. Wonderful said closing the front door on the work day.
"A bouquet of flowers," I said fluffing the white hydrangeas.
"I'm not allergic to hydrangeas."
"I won't sneeze."
"They were on sale."
"But why are they in the middle of the floor?"

May is a great month because it means spring, flowers and show tunes. Every year when May rolls around I morph into the Queen of Camelot à la Julie Andrews skipping around singing about how grand May is. 

"It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May!
That lovely month when everyone puts flowers in the way!" 

To be fair the large hydrangea bouquet was in the middle of the floor because it was in a huge vase that was too jinormous to be supported by a table--end, coffee or dining room models. While I'm a May hooray-er, my spouse is a bit more subdued about the fifth month of the year. He likes flowers--especially tulips--but only in small quantities--especially tulips. Also, he doesn't sing or dance. Although I do. 

"It's May, it's May that gorgeous holiday!
When every girl wishes her man would dance the can-can!"

Mr. Wonderful thinks I go overboard with the flowers but after a dry winter, why not celebrate life with bouquets of hydrangeas, dozens of daisies and truckloads of tulips? All while singing and dancing around The House like a medieval royal? After all it's so fleeting--just 31 days long--so we have to enjoy it while it's here. 

"It's May, it's May, that festive time of year
When everyone drinks white wine with their beer!" 

While May signals "fun" for me it represents "work" for Mr. Wonderful. Currently my spouse is busy planning another home improvement project--installing gutters, rain barrels and windows. Or maybe these are three big separate projects? All I know is it's a lot of work. 

"It's May, it's May, the working month of spring,
When he... re-turns to hammers, nails and drilling."

I know home improvement work needs to be done, which is exactly why I've decorated The House in flowers. If I can't be out enjoying nature, then I'll bring nature inside. Besides with the humongo vase of hydrangeas in the path to the front door, maybe Mr. Wonderful won't be able to leave The House and go to the home improvement store for supplies. Maybe he can stay here with me and we can drink white wine or a beer together. After all,

"It's May, it's May, the month of yes you may!
So just sit down and with me stay! 

The lusty month of Maaaaaay!"