Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Fun at the Royston House

Christmas came and went in a blink! There's far too many things to tell about Christmas at the Royston household, but here's my best effort in one, long run on sentence:

We cooked a lot of food and we ate it, and we stayed up late and watched movies and we played Monopoly, and then we woke up early and opened presents, and I got lots of cute stuff,  and then we danced around the kitchen to salsa music, and then we ate and watched more movies, and danced some more and ate some more, and ate some more and fell asleep.

Basically, that doesn't do it justice, but Christmas at our house is a really fun, raucous affair, so you just have to take my word for it. Post-Christmas is also fun, because it involves more eating and dancing and hysterical laughter, but more importantly, a new kind of fun has been introduced at our house:

That's right. Fun with guns. My brother got this for Christmas, and he and my sister's boyfriend insist that this is an airsoft gun and that it is NOT the same as a bb gun. Whatever. All I know, is I've had more fun shooting this gun at a little box in our yard than I've had with any Christmas present in a loooong time. I mean utter and complete, squealing joy. And that's the true meaning of Christmas. Playing with someone else's present. Oh, and Jesus. and giving. (Thanks for the striped cardigan, Mom. It matches the gun.)

*Disclaimer: we don't shoot animals at our house, because it's mean, and also because the only animals around are lizards, and the neighbors' cats, and the occasional bunny, so yeah, we only shoot at the little white box. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Directions for what to do in the rain.

In case you haven't noticed or you aren't in Southern California at the moment, it's Day 6 of Rainpocalypse 2010. Which basically means God is drowning LA for it's sins, the chief offenses being traffic, lack of holiday cheer, and the city of Santa Monica charging $61 for parking tickets, but I digress.

To put it another way, here's a quote from my friend Matranga,  "It's like seattle coughed in SoCal's face and infected us with its rain disease." He's an eloquent fellow.

At my work I'm on the Emergency Response Team, and even though this is not even close to an emergency, that means I'm qualified to handle situations like epic California rainstorms and the occasional papercut, so listen up, kids:

1. Stay in bed. Under no circumstances should you proceed with business as usual.

2. Eat comfort food (see previous post if you need help with this).

3. Don't get in your car if you can help it. Only venture out in rain to buy more food, or jump in puddles, or play mud football.

4. If you can't do numbers 1-3 because you are at work (ahem), then take solace in this wonderful, soothing, Rain Days Playlist that I made.  I promise it's even better than the Christmas one (but no, it doesn't have any Destiny's Child Platinum Bells on it. I know some of you will ask).

5. Stay dry, and remember, it's only 3 days til Christmas!

xoxo, BCG

This is for Holidays with loved ones....or days when you just don't get out of bed all day.

So much is going on, I don't know where to start! It's almost Christmas, and this weekend was a crazy whirlwind of holiday fun, involving a white elephant party, (where I had the serendipitous pleasure of meeting one of the awesomely infamous members of the BadMan Blog) as well as participating in a rain soaked pub crawl, and dressing up like the spirit of Christmas Cheer, if christmas cheer took the form of a very festive black girl in holiday pajamas and rain boots.

By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I was done. I mean, done. I had planned to go to yoga in Brentwood, and maybe brave the rain and take on a Farmers Market, but then my body said "Yeah right, silly girl, you're not going anywhere." I slept in until probably 10AM okay noon, and when I woke up, I was ravenous. And that's where I got the inspiration for this post, because I decided to make one of my favorite holiday breakfast foods: Strata.

In case you're wondering what that is, here is the scientific definition: Strata n.1. if scramble eggs and toast got married and then had a party with all of your favorite omelette toppings inside a baking pan, Strata would be their lovechild. 2. The delicious breakfast you make for your friends/family during the holidays, when it's cold and rainy/snowy outside so they'll fall under your spell, love you forever, and do whatever you say (Unless you are SJP in the movie Family Stone, because she tries to make this dish and it ends very very badly).

Anyhow, I was starving. So, I gathered up all the ingredients in my tiny kitchen, and set to work.

 And after 30 minutes in the oven, here was the end result:

Well, that was the end, end result. but here's what strata looks like before you devour it whole:

Yum. Even with my sub par blackberry photography, that still looks kinda good, right?

 So you're probably wondering, "Why the heck are you blogging about what you had for breakfast?" And the answer is, because I love you. I'm giving you this recipe so you can bring breakfast cheer to all. Plus, it's so easy to make, but everyone who eats it will think you're a genius. Note: this recipe is not for the health conscious, and frankly, neither am I. It has cheese, and cream, and other delicious naughty ingredients. Like Julia Child, I believe the only time to eat something low fat is while you're waiting for your steak to cook. Also Note: I made this in my toaster oven in a pan that was probably about 5" x 8", so I've double the measurements for you. So here's the recipe. 

Merry Christmas from the Tiny Kitchen!

Holiday Strata

very lightly toasted sourdough, cut into cubes (enough to layer on the bottom of a pan)
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups jack cheese (or whatever kind you like)
1 cup mushrooms
salt & pepper
2 cups bruschetta (this is just chopped tomato, garlic, and fresh basil mixed with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper)

Lightly grease a shallow baking dish and layer toasted bread cubes in the bottom in a single layer. Spread bruschetta and mushrooms over the bread cubes, then layer cheese over the top of that. Combine, eggs, cream, and sour cream in a  separate bowl with salt and pepper.

 Pour egg and cream mixture evenly over the bread and topping, and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until eggs are firm or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Some recipes for strata say you need to let this refrigerate over night, and use day old bread, but I've made this multiple times, and I don't think it makes a difference. Also, if it does, I don't care, because I'm impatient when it comes to food.You can also add bacon or sausage to this, and it's even more wonderful. Just fry it up, add it to the mix, and bake.

Twist: for a little southwest flair, swap out the bruschetta and mushrooms, and add salsa and green chiles. Bomb.

Friday, December 17, 2010

On merriment, dressing up and good cheer

It's Christmastime! You know what that means? Holiday Party time. I love a good holiday party, and this year I have the good fortune of getting to attend an assortment of Holiday parties. In fact, my close friends are having their annual Christmas/White Elephant GetDown tonight, and I couldn't be more excited if Santa himself came down and gave me a brand new a Ferrari being driven by Ryan Reynolds (but Santa, if you're reading this, I've been SO so good this year). 

Speaking of being good, it's time for me to get on my soapbox and talk about giving to the less fortunate during the Holidays, and how you can have an absolutely amazing time doing it. I present you with the Santa Monica Holiday Pub Crawl. I know what you're thinking, "Janae, this is just another excuse for you to wear a holiday costume and guilt everyone else into wearing one too." And given the evidence of the photo below, you would not be incorrect in thinking this.
I especially love matching costumes.

You would also be correcting in thinking that getting dressed up is not something that my friends and I strictly reserve for Christmas. Pretty much any holiday will do. It's kind of our theme, as you can see:
A random Tuesday Night.

Wearing winter clothes counts as a costume in SoCal.

New Year's Eve we get Fancy. (except Courtney, who's wearing Uggs in this photo. Unacceptable.)

Clearly, I do love holidays and costumes, and this event includes both, but the icing on the cake is that it's for charity, and it's giving back to the Santa Monica community that's come to be so near and dear to me. And if that doesn't melt your little heart, it benefits the Westside Food Bank, as in people who don't have any food. You can't say no to that. So here's how it works:
1. Go to the website and sign up.
2. Pick a route (there are three): Wilshire, Main St. or the Pier.
3. Show up, preferably with a group of friends and and 3 non-perishable canned goods each or $5 at the drop off place for your route (this is clearly the most important part).
4.Get a wristband and spend the evening wandering from bar to bar spreading Christmas merriment and cheer!

Even if you don't drink, you'll also get to socialize with other fun Westsiders and  get specials on yummy treats at a lot of cool spots in Santa Monica, in addition to doing your part to help your fellow man.

Lastly, I have a little pre-christmas gift for the lovely people that read my blog. Anyone who knows me well, knows there's nothing I love more than a good mixtape, and so in the spirit of christmas cheer, I've made you all a mix, with my favorite Christmas/winter-y/ songs I'm currently digging. Click away! Happy Holidays!

Beach City Girl Christmas Mix

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Orleans? Oui, Cher!

I love my job. I meet the nicest, and most interesting people, every single day.
Today, I met with a location scout for a photo shoot, and when I handed him my card, he asked if I was French, and I told him my family on my mother's side is Cajun. He followed up by asking me if I'd ever been to New Orleans, and when I said no, he was genuinely shocked and appalled. He proceeded to tell me all about the beautiful food, art, and music, and how I absolutely must, if it's the last thing I do, go there for a visit.

The more he talked about it, the more I realized that the same things that attracted me to move to Venice, are what's supposedly so great about New Orleans: It's busy and colorful, and so culturally rich and diverse. 

Furthermore, I realized I don't know a lot about my mother's French heritage, so what better way then to do a little digging around and maybe go for a visit.

The more we talked about it, the more I liked the idea, so I've decided that's going to be my next vacation, and I can't wait!

                                          Laissez le Bon temp rouler (let the good times roll)!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Craving Colors

Maybe it's because of daylight savings time, and the way it's dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home, or maybe it's because I was sick this week and had to stay inside, but I've been craving bright colors. Venice is bursting with colors: the sunsets are gold and gray, the oceans are teal and navy, and don't even get me started on the murals, and the people, the food. I love it. I know I sound like a weird art kid now, but colors make me happy, and as it happens, this craving (and the fact that I've had a really gross cold) led me to hole up in my apartment for some nightly painting sessions lately, and I thought you guys might like a taste.

I've been hesitant to post pictures of my paintings because while I usually think they're not half bad, there's always the slight chance that they resemble something you'd find on Regretsy (as a sidenote,  if you're the crafty-artsy type, you should check out this website, because it is hilarious: "Where DIY meets WTF."). Nevertheless, I digress with the inappropriate side comments, here it is:

I whipped up some abstract thank you notes. Because everyone needs those.

Test painting of a friend and his dogs. By test painting I mean "rough draft I normally wouldn't show you" but hey, everyone has off days. This was my 1st attempt at painting someone I know personally, and I don't feel like I did him justice (sorry, DT) but for the sake of showing the process, I included it.
As you can see, I it's easy for me to get carried away in said process, and before you know it, my tiny apartment becomes an art hurricane that takes up all the floor space. Also note the paint blanket. I absolutely cannot work without it. Did I mention my weird attraction to bright colors?
     It's another mini abstract. Okay, I know, you're bored, I'll get to the good stuff. 
This was something I'd been toying with painting for a while, but again, I couldn't get up the courage to paint someone I know personally. Finally, after  the test painting above, I decided to go for it. Let this serve as warning to the rest of my friends: you might end up in a painting so, you should stay on my good side.
And here's a little paint/poetry work in progress.

Well, that's all I've got for now. I'll keep you posted on my creative endeavors. In the meantime, Happy Friday! Go out and paint or draw something this weekend. It's good for your soul.