----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: August 2006

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Best Birthday Celebration Ever!

I want to thank my friends, family, and in-laws who joined with me and Mr. Pink in a weekend-long extravaganza to celebrate my 3oth birthday (and his 34th...his birthday is the day before mine!).

The celebration really kicked off on Thursday, when my in-laws, the Blacklabels, got into town. That evening, we went into the city to Firenze by Night for an authentic Italian meal to celebrate Mr. Pink's birthday. We first went to this restaurant after seeing Beach Blanket Babylon, and we had an excellent time. So good, in fact, that Sergio, the owner, brought out one of his blown-glass grappa bottles. My dad had a taste and then passed the bottle around so that we could all admire its intricate design. What my dad didn't realize was that the "intricate design" was the silhouette of a man and a woman intertwined in an amorous act. Poor Sergio was a little red-faced after that little incident.

Sergio wasn't there this time, but his son Paolo was. The service was a little slow to start with, so Paolo had to come out of the kitchen and start taking orders and running food. This is a very cozy restaurant (or cramped, depending on your perspective), so there can't be too many waiters on the floor at once. There's just not enough room. But the food is very good, prices are reasonable, and the wine list is extensive. It was a very nice start to the weekend extravaganza.

The next morning, I slept in while Mr. Pink and the Blacklabels got up for an early round of golf. Then I treated myself to a manicure, pedicure and a spray tan. After that, I had a late lunch with my mom, and then I spent some time relaxing with Mr. Pink. He popped open a bottle of Dom Perignon that he'd been saving for a special occasion, and my 30th birthday qualified. That is some good Champagne! Then he gave me my presents...a beautiful new watch, a Coach pocketbook to match the purse he'd given me a year or so ago, and best of all, swing dance lessons! I have been trying to get him to go dancing with my for years!

After that, all six of us went out to dinner at a local spot, but the quality of the food had slipped a bit. Oh, well. Then it was time for more presents, and they were wonderful, including a spa day from the Blacklabels at the soon-to-be-opened Burke Williams in San Francisco, tickets to "A Chorus Line," courtesy of my mom, and the most beautiful, sparkling diamond earrings from both my parents. My dad picked them out...he does a good job with the jewelry!

But all that was just a prelude to the real party, which happened Saturday night. We started with cocktails (loved the pomegranate martinis--thanks, Blacklabels!) and hors d'oeuvres at my parents' place and then went on to a fondue dinner at The Melting Pot. I had never been there before, but now I can recommend it highly. We had cheese fondue (I don't even like cheese, but I had a taste, and it wasn't too bad), salads, a variety of chicken, steak and seafood cooked fondue-style, and best of all, chocolate fondue for dessert! Very delicious.

Oh, but the party didn't stop there. The next day, the hard-core partiers went wine tasting in the Napa Valley. Our first stop was Steltzner, where we were able to taste a large variety of wines. We even got to do a barrel tasting, and Allison Steltzner gave an excellent educational presentation about how different barrels affect the taste of the wine. She even put out some nuts and cheeses and proscuitto for us to try with the wines. It was an excellent way to start the day. We also had a great time tasting at Paraduxx (delicious red wine blends), Salvestrin (excellent Sauvignon Blanc), and Mumm (how can you go wrong with sparkling wine?). Then we all stopped by for a peek at our own little plot of grapevines, Soda Creek Vineyards. I loved taking my friends around with me to some of my favorite wineries.

All in all, it was the most perfect birthday celebration I could have wished for. I think I kicked off the "dirty 30s" just right!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Leos!

Today marks the start of my birthday month. Actually, my birthday is on Friday, but I intend to draw out the celebration for as long as possible. And why not? This year's the big one...30 years old! So, I'm trying to enjoy the twilight of my twenties and get excited about entering the "dirty 30s." Why are they dirty? I don't know. I just made it up. But they can be dirty however you want them to be, whether you're a single woman entering your sexual peak, or a new parent getting dirty chasing your little kid in the park. Embrace it! Happy birthday, fellow Leos, and here's to the dirty 30s.