Mid-life Margaritas

IMG_1220I meant to write a post about the gorgeously pink prickly pear margaritas my neighborhood BFF Melissa introduced me to the other week (because how could I have worked in food service this long without knowing prickly pear syrup was so delightfully PINK?!), but it keeps turning introspective.

I have ages and stages on my mind. (Maybe it’s because my silver roots are showing, and maybe THIS time I’ll let them grow in. Maybe it’s because I’ve got PMS. Or maybe it’s that I’ve got one kid headed into middle school and one headed into high school. I don’t have small children anymore. I have medium-sized children.) But it’s probably/mostly that when my friend Melissa and I got together to tinker with the prickly pear margarita recipe for this blog, we talked about our lives, as we always do because Melissa is my daily/weekly/monthly minutiae friend. Her kids have been just enough older than mine for the last fifteen years that she’s given me great advice on breastfeeding, preschools, soccer schedules, and college admissions. She’s all that plus top-shelf liquor. #keeper

Our kids are growing and grown. Our parents are aging. Our marriages are mature. Here’s my question: does everyone get to this point in their lives and feel like they are standing in the middle of a see-saw with juicy youth under one foot and middle age under the other? Is that what a mid-life crisis is about? Dying those roots and seeing if you can lean into the action a little longer? Feeling like you better change/hustle/break out RIGHT NOW because this is your last chance to seize YOUR moment?

IMG_1340The Prickly Lady Cocktail recipe, by the way, is a keeper, too. I wanted to put my own spin on it and make it mine for the blog, so I bought Pavan, a liquer made from muscat grapes and redolent of orange blossoms, thinking I could swap it for the ginger liquer. I’d never seen Pavan, and I was captivated by the rainbow peacock on the bottle. As it turned out, I could not improve on the original recipe. There is something perfectly balanced in the combination of prickly pear, ginger liquer, tequila, and lime, so please go on over to loveandoliveoil.com for the recipe. I’m thinking a Pavan and grilled grapefruit margarita might be pretty spectacular, so I’ll keep trying with the Pavan. (Oh, don’t you worry!)

Ah, mid-life. I always thought I would age gracefully. Soften into it. Surrender youth for something equally desirable: wisdom. I didn’t think it would feel like giving up. I didn’t think I’d be sorry. I thought I’d be ready, but there’s some inner kicking and screaming going on. Please don’t misunderstand my despair. I’m WELL aware I’ve got it really good in many big life categories, and I’m deeply grateful. I’m just having a moment or twenty of introspection, and, like with that prickly pear margarita and your BFF’s troubles, sometimes you can’t make it better.

IMG_1345But you can be there. Acknowledge. Appreciate. Be prickly. Fill a glass with a Prickly Lady Cocktail and raise it to life’s pretty pink surprises. Of course, it’s easier with cocktails, when you can give the rainbow peacock a try without making any major life changes…especially when you realize you had it right the first time.


Are you prickly? Have you been prickly? Have wisdom to share? Please do! All comments left on this post and A Visit to the Ripped Bodice will enter you in a contest to win a book from Culver City’s most romantic bookstore.

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A Visit to The Ripped Bodice-a Romantic Bookstore in Los Angeles

The only picture we took of the two of us together the entire weekend. #hangover
The only picture we took of the two of us together the entire weekend. #classic

My high school BFF is a finder of good things. Since I live in Buffalo, NY, and she lives in Los Angeles, CA, we don’t get to see each other often. We’ve kept in touch (sometimes heroically) over the past 22 years (OMG. 22. Years.) via e-mail, epic phone conversations a few times a year, and FB, mostly. I often get a quick, “This made me think of you,” and then a link to something like this hilarious thing. When we both turned 40, I flew to CA (right before the RWA conference in Anaheim – double win!) and we spent an amazing weekend in Venice Beach. If you’ve followed my blog for that long, maybe you remember this post. Lord knows, I haven’t forgotten those berries. I still wish I’d purchased a flat and eaten the whole thing. Absolutely a #firstworldregret

Photo May 12, 2 35 45 PM Recently, she texted me a link to the website of the newly-opened The Ripped Bodice, an all-romance bookstore in Culver City, CA, and I immediately wanted to go. Since I was going to be visiting her the next month, I could! High school BFF is an incredible planner, and she worked it into our itinerary. Mind you, this is a woman who texted me, “Windy beach or desert sun? Should I book a hotel in Santa Barbara or Palm Springs?” with distances in minutes and Google images of both locations. That was a no-brainer for this Buffalo chick. I’m always freezing. PALM SPRINGS, which is where we went right after we visited the bookstore!

Why, yes, they do have fun events like signings and romantic comedy nights. If you live in the area, check them out!
Why, yes, they do have fun events like signings and romantic comedy nights. If you live in the area, check them out!


The Ripped Bodice so far exceeded my expectation, I can’t even. It was adorable, well laid out, had an amazing selection of romances, many of which I’d read (good sign), and many more I WANTED to read. Bea, one of the two sister-owners, was working the desk, and she was as adorably distracted by the FREAKING BOOK COVER/HOT COVER MODEL PHOTO SHOOT going on at the front of the store as we were. I was all “be cool, be cool, let’s not bother the professionals.” But high school BFF, so much more self-possessed than I, was all “I’ll be so disappointed if we don’t get a picture with him.” Dude, she was right. Can you imagine missing that golden opportunity? We bought our books, talked authors and books with Bea. I may have embarrassed myself a little because I was so excited to talk romance industry since I’m off the conference circuit until I finish/publish another book. But Bea seemed the understanding type, and I’m giving myself a pass since I was in romance Mecca.

Photo May 12, 2 43 39 PMI waited for my moment (when they took a break)…and then I asked Mickael De Sinno if he would pose with high school BFF and I! And Jenn LeBlanc, author, photographer, and Studio Smexy maven took our picture! So much fun. We totally swooned. How often does THAT happen when you walk in a bookstore?

I was so delighted to visit the romantic bookstore that I’ve been hearing so much about lately. But even if you can’t swan out to LA like I did, guess what? You can shop online for books or schwag! Darn, it’s good schwag, too. I want that heroine tank top, even if it’s $30. And the romance categories are fantastic. Along with the usual “Paranormal” and “Inspirational,” they have “Bikes and Tats” and “Highlanders.” I will absolutely check The Ripped Bodice website the next time I need a book in print. I will also need to take a good browse through those categories. It’s like having a romance librarian on tap. 🙂

I love it when a good plan comes together!

Okay. I lied. We went here after The Ripped Bodice.

In-N-Out Burger, Animal Style! Twice.
In-N-Out Burger, Animal Style! Twice. Then we went to Palm Springs. 😀
The view from our balcony.
The view from our balcony.











Every once in a while…you just gotta fangirl. I fangirl for The Ripped Bodice, Palm Springs, and my high school BFF (Happy birthday, Erin!)! Who do you fangirl for? Leave a comment, and I’ll put your name in the hat to win a book from the most romantic bookstore in Culver City. Your pick (Not to exceed $15, excluding shipping!). I’ll pick the winner…on the first day of summer. So who? What? Tell me who brings out your fangirl!