Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You Can Thank Me Later: Fave Raves #1

Yay it's almost Thanksgiving! If you're like me, that's pretty much all you can think about right now, and I promise there will be a delightful post with pictures about my thankfulness for friends and family, and the various holiday gatherings of both, but it's a short week, (which has nothing to do with the length of my posts, usually) and I have something special for you today:

Fave Raves.

You're so excited, I know!!! And you're also wondering "What the heck is a Fave Rave?!"

Glad you asked. Fave Rave is a list of 5 people, places, or things that I am currently obsessed with. Sometimes, I get bored and stagnant, and I need something to look forward to, and the best cure for that is a list of straight up Awesomeness.

So, here's the first of many Fave Raves that I intend to occasionally spice up my blog with, and you're welcome.

1. C&O's Trattoria
 Okay, if you live in LA, and you haven't been to this restaurant at the beach in Venice, you have been deprived, and I'm crying a little for you. I just rekindled my love for this cute Italian bistro because I recently went there on a first date, and also for a group birthday dinner. Besides the absolutely wonderful food and my stellar dining companions, I realized what makes this place so special is the ambiance. You can sit on the heated outdoor patio, the trees are strung with twinkle lights, and at a special point in the evening, everyone sings "That's Amore". It's the perfect setting for a big meal with  a group of friends or a nice dinner date, and you can't go wrong with a big bottle of chianti on every table. If that atmosphere and the singing don't loosen you up, that sure will.

It's like: having dinner in a beautiful backyard in Italy.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This book should come with a warning label: Don't start reading this if you have somewhere to be or something important to do in the next 3 hours, because you will skip it in order to finish this book. Seriously, I stayed up all night reading this book. and by all night, I mean until 11:30PM. Ever since I read the entire Twilight series in 5 days, I've been incredibly a little ashamed of myself and my reading preferences, but this book is written for the exact same crazed teenage girl audience, and has 100 times more literary merit. I don't want to give away the plot, but the heroine in this book makes Bella Swan look like a toenail clipping. I defy you to read this and not be dazzled by it. Thanks, to my good friend Liz for turning me on to this addiction.

It's like: Crack cocaine. In book form.

3. Pencil Skirts
Okay, hear me out on this. I know you're like "Seriously. Pencil skirts?" Yes. They're cute, you can wear them to work, and they're very Fall weather friendly (like I know anything about that), but up until recently, I always thought they were for Other People. Super skinny Other People with no butts. Boy, was I wrong. I just purchased the best pencil skirt from Charlotte Russe in the new Santa Monica Place mall, and I can't believe it, but I don't look like a whale. It's very forgiving,  incredibly flattering, versatile and most of all so comfortable. Plus, it was under $30. I would like to wear it to work every. single. day. Get one:http://www.charlotterusse.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4327874&cp=4078198.4238852.4238872

It feels like: a really, really sexy pair of sweat pants.

4. Movember
Now that I'm done talking about skirts, I can bring up more important topics. Like curing cancer. My good friend Scott recently invited me to a Movember Party, which is basically a bunch of guys with mustaches raising money for prostate cancer research. During the whole month of November, these guys grow out ridiculous awesome mustaches, and put on fun events to raise funds for Livestrong (remember those little yellow bands?). Well this is a kicked up version of cancer research fundraising. There are teams, and games, and galas, and it's a great cause and lot of fun (even if you are a girl and cannot and do not want to grow a 'stache). Check it out here, and donate to team 'Save the Dudes!': http://us.movember.com/

It's like: Tom Selleck asking you to donate to charity. And no one says no to Tom.

5. Smitten Kitchen
This is the food blog to end all food blogs. Deb, the woman who writes this blog is a triple threat: she's a really funny writer, an amazing photographer, and makes the most delicious recipes that I've ever laid eyes on. If this woman wasn't already married (and a woman) I'd marry her. I went through a phase last year where I'd get bored at work around lunch time, and pick something to make for dinner solely based on what was on Smitten Kitchen that day. I may or may not have gained 6 pounds. Seriously, if you're in a cooking rut, or just want to drool for a while at your desk, take a peek: http://smittenkitchen.com/

It's like: porn. Yeah, I said it.

Do you have something/someone/some place awesome you think I should feature in a future Fave Rave? Tell me, because I'd love to check it out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

And On the 8th day, God created Valet Parking.

Well, it's another Monday, which means yesterday was Sunday, and sometimes on Sundays (when I'm not losing at slow pitch softball), I like to go to church. Since I've moved to Venice though, I've run into a bit of a problem.

Over the summer, I went to a church off and on in Hollywood that I really, really liked. The congregation was young and fun, the music and the sermons always felt relevant to me, and although it was a big church and I didn't know many people, I felt like I had found a niche. Now, church is something I grew up with, and that my family takes pretty seriously, but I've just recently as an adult felt compelled to go of my own free will. (Yes, I was the child who tried to fake appendicitis to get out of going to church. My parent's solution to this was that they took me to church anyway so they could pray that Jesus would heal me. I didn't get away with much).

So for me to have found a church that I identified with and genuinely enjoyed attending was a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, after the move, driving from Venice to Hollywood for a Sunday morning service was a little inconvenient (and by a little, I mean a lot). 

So, like any LA dweller I attempted to adapt to my surroundings by finding a church closer to me. I tried one or two, but they just weren't quite what I was looking for, so this weekend, I called up my old roommate, Liz, and we decided to make the drive to the church in Hollywood.

There wasn't a lot of traffic but the drive still took us about 40 minutes and we were about 5 minutes late. The Sunday service meets in a large highschool auditorium, and because this is LA, the highschool has a parking garage (go figure). So we were surprised when we reached the intersection to turn into the parking garage, and there was a line of cars practically around the block. when we finally got to the entrance of the garage we saw a sandwich board sign that said "LOT FULL". No big deal, we thought, we decided to circle the block and park on the street.

We went around the block. Twice. Not a single parking space at noon on a Sunday. Liz mentioned that she heard this church had gotten more popular because UCLA was back in session and a lot of students attend. Furthermore, Details Magazine just wrote a big article about this particular church and their hip approach to the Christian faith. Well, 10 minutes later, we were still outside of this hip center of faith, looking for a parking spot, and we decided to drive by the parking garage again. No luck, the "Lot Full" sign was still in place.

Just as we were about to pass the entrance, we saw two cars coming out. "Hey Liz, don't you think if there are two cars coming out, then that must mean that there are two empty spaces in the garage now even though it says the lot is full?" I reasoned.

Liz agreed with my assessment, and after 2 minutes more of hasty consultation, we decided we would just scooch the sign over a few feet, and drive in and take a peek. This proved to be a TERRIBLE idea:

We got about 20 feet inside the parking structure before a woman in her early twenties came over, waving her arms for us to turn around. We rolled down our window, and she quickly explained that the lot was full, and that we needed to turn around.

"Okay, no problem,"  Liz said. "But where should we park? We've circled a few times and there are no spots on the street." The woman looked at us blankly, and then said "Well then I guess you should get here earlier."

True story. But not so helpful.

As this conversation was happening, another parking attendant was hurriedly approaching our car, and said "Did you take the sign?!" Liz and I exchanged glances, and then saw that two more cars had followed us into the garage. I shifted around uncomfortably and then called out the window and said, "Um, no the sign is still there." It wasn't exactly a lie, I hadn't stolen the sign. I mean, we were on our way to church, after all.

We proceeded to drive down the aisle so that we could turn around at the end, and in the process, were waved away by several more annoyed looking parking attendants. Just as we were making our way back toward the exit, a very upset looking hipster-parking attendant strode very quickly up to our car and put one hand out in the universal sign for "Halt!". Now, before I continue, I want all of you to picture this man. He looked like this: 

photo credit: American Apparel

Except he was wearing a skinny tie and corduroys. And he was not smiling. He was an Irate Hipster. Usually hipsters span a range of emotions from pleased to smug or superior to bored, so we were very taken aback by the level of angry that this man was. The following conversation ensued:

Irate Hipster: YOU moved the sign.

Liz: Yes, and we are very, very sorry. We thought that since a car was coming out-

Irate H.: Well, just so you know that is extremely frustrating and and upsetting to us! We are completely full, and we now have other people trying to get in here! And for your information, I am trying to be graceful with you about this but, like that is just, not cool. In fact, that is so, like, disrespectful and just so inconsiderate!

Liz: Yes, we are so sorry. We are leaving right-

Irate H.: Look, we're cool, okay. But that was NOT okay, and, like seriously, that was just totally uncalled for and really disrespectful. Next time, you just need to get here earlier, like everyone else and find a parking space. Moving that sign, just makes this, like really difficult for us, and is very frustrating to us. I'm trying to be graceful here, but that was just NOT COOL  and you two-

Liz, Me: We're sorry.

The Irate Hipster, who by this time was turning very red in the face, cast his eyes towards heaven, as if to call on help from above, and then let us be on our way.

Liz and I exited the parking garage in shock and silence. We drove about two more blocks looking for a parking space, before we looked at each other and decided that the Spirit was leading us to go home have sandwiches and watch the Kardashians instead of making a further effort to attend a church where we'd be packed in like sardines to hear a sermon with 1,800 hipsters who would be annoyed at us for coming in late.

So that's what we did. We're still in the market for a good church, but we've decided that maybe that church isn't quite our scene. In their defense, we did move the sign (never again, I swear) and I'm sure the whole church is not represented by one very angry man in too tight pants, but I'm also pretty sure I'd rather attend a church with a very friendly bunch of nice blue-haired old ladies than nearly get strangled for trying to find a parking spot in Hollywood just so I can worship in the same place as Joe Jonas.

P.S. If you know of any good, youthful churches in the Santa Monica area, get at me. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Giants won the Series. My softball team....well, we had a good time.

For those of my fabulous reader who know me well, (which is probably 4 out of 5 of you) you know that I have a limited abilities in any kind athletic competition. And that's what you would say if you wanted to be extremely generous with your description. Having said that, I feel that it's important for me to let you all in on a little secret:

I've been on a softball team for approximately two seasons. I say approximately, because after the first season, I decided to make an appearance at exactly one game in the second season. Nevertheless, this is a big deal. Why I thought that getting up every Sunday morning to play softball (a game that I have no natural talent for) would be fun, is a still a mystery, but I did it.

Some of my personal highlights included being heckled for wearing pearls while at bat,  hitting myself in the head with a foul ball, and looking like I should be in the Special Olympics or pre-K little league for the first 4 games because I didn't have a left handed glove and I was throwing with my non-dominant hand (side note: after I got my left-handed glove, I think the other teams assumed that a miraculous healing had taken place).

But alas, there's no I in TEAM, so that's enough about me. My beautiful teammate Liz has quite a flair for writing (and wicked softball skills as well), and she managed to document our team adventures pretty comprehensively with her camera, so if you want to see/read a fun little post about  30 of our friends and our shining achievements as the Louisville Chuggers, click here: http://elizabethabend.blogspot.com/2010/10/pack-up-gear.html

I promise you won't be disappointed.