Friday, December 25, 2015

Being Merry.

Holiday cheer sure is contagious!

Eve de Christmas.

What what! Another Christmas in the city! (How crazy to see years' past, by the way?) I'm surprisingly not aiming for the whole Grinch thing this year, and I even consented to join my friend Aurelia at her family friend's party tonight. And if that's not enough, I'm even going to her family's Christmas dinner tomorrow, too! That would be a grand total of two consecutive holiday events, which will be two more events attended than the last handful of years combined. (Three holiday invites accepted on my end within the last two months, if you include Thanksgiving!)

To be clear, I don't hate holidays or anything like that. I actually really like them, and if I had the space, I'd be hosting every last one of 'em - and I'm talking full blown holiday events and such. I'm just not used to doing the big family holiday thing. I moved to LA right after high school and only went back East for the first couple of years for major holidays. It's just been me and the pups since, which I've grown accustomed to, and I hate to say it...but I can prefer it, at times. I learned to like how peaceful it was out here with just me and my dogs, and that's what became my own Christmas tradition: a mellow day, in sunny LA, with many a gifts for my dogs.

I'm excited to try do new things and go new places though, and to make an effort to get dressed up and all that. I'm not really one to make resolutions (I really do sound so anti-holiday), but I did have a chat with myself regarding getting "out there," so here's to (hopefully) doing just that!
I put Z in Nellie's old "ugly sweater" since I was apparently headed to the home of the woman who was in charge of costumes for The Cosby Show. I figured he could be an acceptable date, no?
Okay, dog and ugly sweater-less, but look! Still sweatpants-less!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Many Thanks and Knife Tosses.

A late-ish invite, not quite last minute, but only even last minute-ish because she didn't know I hadn't had any plans to begin with. What? No plans?! Ingrid texted me when I told her I wasn't going to do anything for Thanksgiving. That wasn't unusual for me; my family (for the most part) is back East, and I haven't ever really cared about making big holiday plans, being out West. It is weird since I love event planning, but when it comes to big familial/holiday things, I don't know...I almost steer clear from them. Ingrid left me no choice though, and informed me she was picking me up at four thirty to take me to her future mother-in-law's.

By the way, I realized how off-putting the whole holiday-hating thing could sound when most recently, Aurelia shot me a text saying I know you hate holidays but you're welcome to spend Christmas with my family! I re-read that a few times and thought, fuck, that sounds terrible.

 I don't hate holidays! I texted back. I just don't "do" the whole holiday thing, so instead of placing any "holiday" expectations on a particular day, it's just any other day to me! She got it. She's known me long enough to get it. It did make me think twice about any lack of holiday perception I give off though (being a downer is never cute), but I digress.

Back to Thanksgiving: I was offering to help clean the dishes after a fantastic dinner when Andrew's mom happened to knock a knife off a plate, which landed on the kitchen floor.

"A man is coming!" she exclaimed.

"What?" I asked, wondering if the red wine had gotten to my head (I usually go for white).

"A knife dropped! That means a man will be coming soon," she explained a bit further.

I couldn't help but to laugh. "A Thanksgiving miracle!" I rejoiced, and threw my arms above my head. "Excuse me while I go back to the dining room and throw everyone's knives off their place settings," I joked. But in all seriousness, I went back to the table and told Ingrid and Andrew what had just transpired in the kitchen. They're pretty big supporters of my (future) love life - great friends, I know - so whether or not they believed in the knife-dropping theory, they at least did the courteous friend thing and played along.

"His name will be Robert Sean!" Andrew's mom proclaimed while exiting the kitchen. "Seriously, imagine if you met a Bob!"

"If I do, I will forever give thanks to you - and this Thanksgiving," I replied.

We continued the remainder of our Thanksgiving evening laughing, eating more, and toasting to "Bob."

Monday, November 23, 2015


I treated my birthday as if it was a mini wedding. That may sound obnoxious, and maybe it was (hello, hashtag #KrittaBTurnsThirty), but I really enjoyed it - and I think (hope?) most attendees did, too!

You know the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie says she's getting married to herself? That was kind of what sparked it. I love celebrating my friends and their milestones (engagements/weddings/babies), but I wanted to take a moment and celebrate...myself, which when typing it, sounds ridiculous. But after a tough year last year (I spent my birthday crying on my bathroom floor before pulling myself together and heading to my favorite restaurant- just keeping it real), I thought to make it a "thing" and do something really fun. And wear an almost wedding dress, black tulle and all.

I asked my friend Travis if he'd kindly host, since he's not too far from me and I could shuttle things back and forth, and because he has a killer apartment with a killer view. I envisioned fun thirtieth decor, a nice dessert spread, a makeshift photo booth, and I decided to hire a bartender so everyone could enjoy themselves. (It's also easy to get everyone to show up when you text FREE BOOZE.) I kept pretty busy two weeks beforehand making my decorations and planning my schmancy dessert table (complete with last minute flower arrangements), and I was really, really happy with the turnout. Aesthetically, it was everything I wanted - and then some. Emotionally, it was the same. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better launch into my thirties.

I feel really good about this upcoming decade.

I look scared here, ha, but it was just a bit of embarrassment - and delight. (You can catch a glimpse of my adorable striped straws, too! S'all about details.)
*Thank you again and again, Trav & Linda!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bruges, Belgium.

From Ghent to Bruges I went! (It came out and rhymed; I went with it. Thanks, Aurelia, for the Dr. Seuss birthday book.)

Bruges was much different than I expected. I'm not exactly sure what I expected, but it was almost dream-like, with horse-drawn carriages, medieval architecture and cobblestone streets. It felt very foreign, I guess you could say, but in a fairy tale kind of way.

I read a really accurate description of Bruges when I got back to LA, which sums it right up: rather than simply find a heritage site surrounded by a city, it feels like the entire city is a heritage site.  

Nailed it.

Travel tips, photos, and the usual bla bla bla's, below!

Belgian chocolate!
This isn't specific to Bruges; rather, it's where I had way too much Belgian chocolate. Truffles on truffles on truffles. On truffles. I wasn't even sure what I was buying, but I figured I couldn't go wrong. And I was right. (Most places have a buying minimum, so you can't go in and cherry pick one chocolate - if you would even consider doing that.)

More Belgian fries!
Because, why not? No reason is ever needed for eating fries in my book. (Reasons against eating them are the bigger problem.) Go for the sauce, any sauce! I asked for the most boring basic option, which was quite similar to the lemon-y mayo I had in Ghent, but there are seriously dozens to choose from.

For the non-beer drinkers, go for the cava. It's been one of my personal favorites since traveling to Barcelona, so anytime I see it, that's my go-to drank. I didn't take photos, but I'm sure you can imagine a picture of a curated champagne glass atop a fancy tabletop.

More beer!
Because, Belgium, that's why! (Previously documented beer photo here.)

Walk around the city center!
I love a walkable town/city, and Bruges' historic city "centre" is certainly one of 'em. Kill a bunch of birds with one stone here: eat, shop, sightsee, repeat - all on foot. And then do it again by means of horse-drawn carriage. (No, really.) Walk past the Belfry, Market Halls, and the Church of Our Lady, and if you can, go visit Michelangelo's marble Madonna With Child (inside the church). I didn't have time, unfortunately, but I'm passing the tip along!

Take a horse-drawn carriage around the city center! 
Not a bad option if you don't feel like walking, right? I did inquire about the well-being of the horses (I can't help it), and I was informed that these guys are pretty happy, which was nice to hear. But back to the simple fact of taking a horse-drawn carriage around Bruges: you can do that. It's a routed, thirty minute tour of the city center, for up to five people. (I had actually walked around for a few hours before I learned about it.)

Walk around the canals!
This is as serene as it gets, really. Calm and quiet waters with weeping willows draped along canals, you can't get much more peaceful than this. I'll reiterate what I said earlier: it's really a fairy tale/storybook kind of setting.

Take another canal tour!
I didn't get the chance to take a canal tour here, and maybe one canal tour is the same as the next, but c'mon. Can you really get sick of that view? This is known as the "Venice of the North" for good reason, so I say go!
Climb Belfort!
The belfry of Bruges, AKA Belfort, is a medieval bell tower in the city center. It has a narrow staircase of three hundred and sixty-six steps - and you can climb them (for a fee) during the hours of 9:30AM to 5PM - which I totally missed. Womp. I was able to poke around the interior courtyard and climb maybe twenty stairs though, if that counts?
(Loved this.)

Anddd some more photos of my short time in Bruges, below:
I caught an early morning set up for a big race - not a bad backdrop, huh? 

Friday, November 6, 2015

(Birthday) Love.

I feel loved.

It feels really weird typing that to be honest, because I don't mean it like, ohmygod it's my birthday week and I'm so special! I'm just acknowledging my feelings as of late, particularly since I've returned from Europe.

The day I came home I had an early birthday present waiting for me. It was a beautiful gold necklace with a charm of Los Angeles, from one of my best friends, Kelly. You never gift jewelry, I texted her. Only for special occasions, she replied. She didn't know I had been wanting that same necklace for quite some time, which was the best part. It totally reminded me of you, she said.

The next day, I was on the phone with my mom and heard a knock at the door. UPS Delivery for Krista! I was in receipt of a massive package, which, if I'm being completely honest, made me nervous. It was so big! (SO big! Where can I put whatever this is?! Will I like it?)  My nerves quickly disappeared as I tore off the packaging and discovered the best birthday present I have ever received.

My mother and sister had apparently been stalking my friends for the last handful of months - both East and West Coast friends - to contribute to this ridiculously thoughtful gift. (If you look closely, there are significant details crafted into each letter: photos, postcards, colors, materials used for the letters, all with special meaning behind them. It's unbelievable.)

Every day since then I've gotten an early birthday gift, which has been...almost overwhelming. My mother joked that it was like Hanukkah; eight nights and days of Krista's birthday. From the gentleman who owns the print shop on my block (wine), to work clients (flowers), to Capital One (yes, the credit card company - flowers), to my close friends and family (jewelry, luxury skincare products, champagne, dinner dates, you name it), the people in my life have simply blown me away with their thought and generosity. It is most certainly not about presents; it's about presence. I've never been so grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life as I have this past year. I'm not sure what I did to deserve them, but they're the best gifts of all.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ghent, Belgium.

I've never traveled overseas for work, and have had only one opportunity to travel domestically in the past (Houston, last year). Needless to say, I was psyched when I was told I was off to Belgium for 2 weeks; however, I didn't quite realize how little time I'd actually have to explore, as stupid as that might sound, knowing I was traveling specifically for work. (I also had no idea my trade show ran through the weekend, so that threw a wrench in any weekend explorations I had planned.) I figured I could take some time each morning to wander around, but failed to realize that it would be pretty dark until 8:30AM or so - the time I went off to work each day. Starbucks wasn't even open until 9AM! Not that I wanted coffee from Starbucks while abroad, but when I asked my hotel where I could get a good cup of coffee, that's where they suggested. In fact, more than one person suggested Starbucks while I was in Europe. Damn Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I'd get back to my hotel around 8PM each night and then had to do my normal gig, since I was 9 hours ahead in Belgium and that's when my normal customer inquiries would pour in. There was a really cool coincidence though: an old friend of mine from LA actually moved to Ghent this past year, unbeknownst to me when I made my travel plans. He actually married a girl from Belgium (and now has a baby girl on the way!), so when I learned he was close by, I was able to link up with him for a night. I was pretty stoked about that.

He took me to get the "best burger" in town at Uncle Babe's (it really was good), and then we went to two more places that anyone really should visit, should they go to Ghent (hear that Becky?!). Those spots and more travel tips, below!

Belgian waffles!
You'll be able to find these beauts anywhere, and I certainly wasn't mad at that. They're hot and fresh with any toppings you'd like (I chose strawberry and Nutella), and you can even get ice cream to boot. I decided to forego the ice cream idea because it was pretty chilly (and rainy) outside, but I mean, you can never really go wrong with ice cream.

Belgian fries!
Note: do not call them "French fries" - you will stand corrected, as what you are getting are "Belgian fries." Fries here come with dozens of toppings and although I'm pretty boring, I figured I'd try whatever was most popular (on the side, of course). It was a mayonnaise of sorts, and while I'm not a mayo fan, it had a lemon base, which was an interesting twist. 

Nose of Ghent!
These little cone-shaped gelatin candies are hard on the outside and chewy on the inside. They were apparently made by accident; an experiment gone wrong led to the creation of a batch of candies with a hard outer shell and an interior filled of syrup. I only wanted one to try and was told they take several hours to make, which is why they sell them by the dozen and can't sell individuals, but a little charm goes a long way. I got one.

A liquor from which gin evolved, jenever is a strong and popular drink in Belgium. It's apparently harsh when tasted straight up, but when infused with different flavors from cactus(!) to grapefruit to almond to pepper, it's pretty damn good. The "it" place to go is 't Dreupelkot, run by a man named Pol (who is known to be a bit of a grump).

Don't be alarmed by the shot glass it comes in - you aren't pounding a shot - these are actually meant to be sipped, and can be ordered in either a small or large size. My personal favorite was the grapefruit. (I also had almond, per the recommendation of my friend. It was good, but had a syrupy taste to it. It all boils down to personal preference, of course!)

Belgian beer!
I am not a beer drinker. In fact, the one beer I have ever liked and actually drank was a cider beer, last February, that Ellie insisted I try since it wasn't beer-like.

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant is known for their extensive beer selection, and is right next to 't Dreupelkot - so you can get both your jenever and beer fix in one night. My friend knew I wasn't into beer, so he ordered something cherry flavored for me. And not a "radioactive" cherry flavor, which is what I mentioned when I questioned, cherry? Like a real deal cherry. It was a perfect choice for my boring picky self. (But I still didn't finish the bottle.)

Take a boat tour!
Available every day and each hour, this is one of the best and most relaxing ways to see Ghent, cruising along the canals. (Blankets are even provided!) A tour guide will point out everything from famous breweries (Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant!) to historic city sights like the Belfry and St. Nicholas' Church - in up to five languages, no less!
This is one of the best views of Gravensteen, also known as the Castle of the Counts, which dates back to the Middle Ages.
(The locals aren't the biggest fans of these tours, as evidenced by the signage posted along the canals.)

Pop by Stoffen Janssens!
If you're into fabric, or want to get really fancy and have an outfit made, this is the place to go. A family business for four generations now features Kollektie Eva, a custom made, self-designed clothing line. (And tell Eva and her family I said hi!) I stumbled across this store accidentally, a funny/not so funny story I will save for later.

I've been looking for fabric to make pillows for some time now, and was kind of disappointed when I returned from Mexico empty-handed. Now, I'm so glad I didn't find anything there, because never in my life have I seen such exquisite fabrics (LOOK AT THOSE CHANELS!). I wound up selecting three different fabrics for my pillows, which I can't wait to have made. I just hope they won't have drool all over them by the time I get around to it, because they are that freakin' good.

Stroll down Graffiti Street!
An ever-changing display of graffiti covers the walls of Werregarenstraat, an alley designated by the government as a legal spot for graffiti. The goal was to keep the rest of the city free of spray paint.

More photos of Ghent, below!
This was really interesting. When I was walking around, I noticed a sign about the lack of human interaction nowadays, and people were encouraged to sit and stare into the eyes of a partner for one minute. No words spoken, just staring, in order to connect with another human being without distraction. (I didn't do it.)
It came in handy to have a friend around to take a billion photos in order to achieve this "Barry Poppins" vision of mine. It would have been pretty embarrassing to flag a stranger to do it.