Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Food, Love, & Life.

 "Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with complete abandon, or not at all." - Julia Child

Sometimes I'm afraid people read my blog and think my life is too good to be true.

Truthfully, its pretty darn good, so I can't complain, but its not perfect, and neither am I. To prove my point (in case you missed the last post about my dubious experience with criminals), I want reveal one of my many  flaws:

I'm an emotional eater/cook. Some people drink. Some people do drugs. I cook and eat. I cook when I'm happy. I cook when I'm sad. I sometimes cook when I'm angry, or jealous, or bored. It doesn't sound like that big a deal, but when you've had a hard day at work or a fight with a friend, and then you cope by purchasing $68 worth of groceries for one night's dinner, it can become a problem.  On not-so rare occasions, I've then gone home, prepared an elaborate meal that took 3 hours to cook, and a) eaten all of it in one sitting, or b) been too tired to eat more than a few bites. Neither one of these is a good situation (unless you happen to be my roommate in scenario b).

It goes without saying, the more upset or anxious or sad I am, the more intricate the recipe I will probably attempt to make. There's something about cooking that's therapeutic. There's something calming in knowing that even if I can't make my relationships turn out right, I can take 15 ingredients and combine them into something that's going to turn out perfectly. Or at least, its supposed to turn out perfectly.

But things don't always go as planned. Sometimes even the best planned meals burn, or turn out too salty or bland. And sometimes the ones that you throw together at the last minute with whatever is left in your fridge wind up being the best. And sometimes it just takes practice.

Practice reducing a sauce with heavy cream and wine so its not too runny, but also so it doesn't turn into congealed goop.

Practice searing a meat so its flavorful and done, but not dry and tough.

Practice makes food perfect. Except when it doesn't. That's when you sigh,  order thai food take out, and hope it works out better the next time.

There's not always a perfect recipe to make food turn out just right. There sure isn't a recipe for life and relationships.

You just chop, and dice, and sautee, and simmer, and cross your fingers.

And sometimes, just sometimes, its perfect.


Below is one of my favorite comfort food recipes, that I stole adapted from my good friend and ex-roommate Liz (she's the author of Twenty-Something). This recipe always makes me feel better. It's something about the richness of wine and heavy cream and the summer-y taste of lemons and artichokes. Enjoy!

Lemon & Rosemary Chicken in White Wine Cream Sauce

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Open Letter to the Person Who Broke Into My Car.

Dear Would-be-Car Burglar,

I'm sorry you didn't find whatever it was you were looking for this morning when you went into my parking garage and proceeded to break into my car and dump everything out all over the place. I'm assuming the contents of my car weren't quite what you wanted, because you declined to take any of the following items:

- orange yoga mat
- Starbucks napkins and Jack in the Box straws
- left-handed baseball glove
- tire pressure gauge
- a note my grandpa wrote to me
- 2 parking access cards
- 9 shiny parking tokens
- parking pass (have you ever tried to park in Santa Monica?! or Pepperdine? All this stuff is like gold. Clearly, you're an idiot.)
- various sets of printed directions and lists
- blue beach blanket
- 8 years worth of mix CD's (including Lauryn Hill, Shakira, Paul Simon, and some embarrassing collections from my electronica phase in highschool) I would've given you some of these if you'd asked.
- my registration (I thought you would've taken this, but then I realized it wouldn't do you much good, unless you also planned to steal my hoopty. Alas, you are a petty car burglar not a grand theft auto wizard.)
- [clean] work out clothes
- two of my paintings (one watercolor, one oil. You didn't want to hang those up in your Den of Thieves? I'm insulted.)
- two pairs of black high heels (probably not your size)
- file folder containing records of my car's repairs (this is probably what deterred you from stealing my car.)
 - my stereo

I would actually sincerely like to thank you for not stealing the last item, even though it appears you may have tried. Honestly, this would've bummed me out more than anything else. I need that stereo. And the tape deck adapter.

Clearly, you must be very disappointed with the lack of gold bullion, crack cocaine, and Rolex watches in my car, but really, what did you expect? You broke into a 2003 Honda Civic, for pete's sake!!! For future reference, I keep all the good stuff in my Bentley, which is in the 6-car garage at my Malibu Estate. You're welcome.   

Part of me also wants to thank you for making me take stock of how rich I am in intangibles and things that I don't keep in my car. Things like, friends and family, love, happiness, and sense of humor.

It might appear from this letter that I am very unfazed by this whole thing where you violated my personal space and touched all of my stuff (even though you didn't take anything), but you would be mistaken to think that. Let me be clear: I am pissed. But guess what? There are surveillance cameras in the parking garage. Idiot. I'm mostly annoyed because I love my neighborhood because it's quirky and fun, but it's people like you who give Venice a bad name and screw it up. You're the reason my mother wants me to move the suburbs. You scare nice families and their kids away.

Basically, you suck and I'm glad I didn't have anything worthwhile in my car for you to steal. You can't get me down.


The girl you tried (and failed) to rob.

P.S. I noticed that you did steal my last piece of gum and leave the wrapper. Rude. You also left my interior lights on, Jerk.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Downtown Cinderella

On television, living in LA usually looks very glamorous. In reality, it's not; I spend most of my days working 8 hours to make a modest living, hanging out with friends, and generally just trying to keep things interesting. But every once in a while, the LA stars align and I get to do something really cool.

This past weekend, I got to go to the Spinster's Ball and explore the finer side of Downtown LA living.

Now before you say it, I know you're thinking, "Why on God's green earth would you want to be associated with anything called Spinsters?!?!" Trust me, I was thinking the same thing. It turns out, the Spinsters are a very old-money, elite social/charity organization that puts on these grand events every year, and in spite of bringing to mind the image of an unmarried smelly-old cat lady, they are actually a very exclusive, well- respected group of young ladies. Granted, I'm only friends with one person who's in Spinsters, but she's incredibly friendly and fun, so I'm giving the entire the organization the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, to make a long story short, due to some scheduling magic and a very generous invitation, I got to attend the ball with several girlfriends.

Similar to Cinderella, I had a few obstacles to overcome before the ball. The chief one being, that the ball was black tie, and I needed to procure a gown. Luckily for me, my parents live about an two hours away, and my Mom has graciously not thrown away all of my junk from teenage years, so I took a trip home, and brought back all of my formal gowns from high school. Let me tell you, if you are feeling a little to cocky and self-assured, try on some of your clothes from junior year of high school. It's like a swift kick in the face. Luckily for me, 1 out of the 4 formal ball gowns that I own still fit, so although there was no fairy godmother involved, I got my dress.

So last saturday, ball gown in tow, I arrived at the Downtown Los Angeles Biltmore hotel, where my friends, Marisa, Lauren, Brittany and I were staying. Biltmore is absolutely gorgeous. Downtown can be a seedy, hodge-podge of noise, traffic, smog and people, but the Biltmore and the area surrounding it can only be described as old-hollywood glamour. Everything is gilded, and has ornate frames, and there are about 9 different people you're supposed to tip during a 48-hour stay. That's how you know it's classy.

After we absorbed the shock of how nice everything was, we went up to our room to get ready, and then met up with some friends before walking about half a block to the Cicada which was where the ball was held.

After seeing how beautiful and historic the Biltmore was, I couldn't imagine that the Cicada could be any more stately and beautiful, but once again, my expectations were exceeded. We entered a sprawling ballroom with old fashioned fixtures, and chandeliers, dimly-lit, with tables covered in black linens and delicate white hydrangeas. There was a live band, a winding staircase, and lots, and lots, (and lots) of champagne. It was swanky.

Did I mention there was champagne?
Some important things to note about this ball: It did not contain prince charmings, a waltz, or chaperones. It did contain a four-course steak dinner, men in kilts, and a very interesting assortment of lawyers, investment bankers and people who didn't actually know how to articulate what they did for a living, but were liberal in talking about the excess of wealth they possessed (It takes all kinds to make a high society event).

Anyhow, we met lots of interesting people, ate until we were stuffed and danced the night away... and then when that was over, we went back to our hotel and danced some more.

That's right. We party hard. and then we promptly fell asleep exactly 10 minutes later.

The next day, I was expecting my carriage to turn back into a honda civic pumpkin, but we woke up and decided to prolong our Los Angeles staycation by going to brunch and exploring downtown. A short walk led us to one of the most beautiful bakeries I have ever seen: Bottega Louie. The food and atmosphere at Louie are phenomenal and the service was impeccable. Words don't even do it justice, so I'll resist the urge to try to describe it, and just show you:

Photos courtesy of the Bottega Louie blog: http://www.bottegalouie.blogspot.com/

You would think that by this time, we would have had enough of Downtown LA, but no, we decided to make one more stop on our Los Angeles Staycation. The Standard Hotel. Now, to preface, I've been to the rooftop pool at The Standard many times, but this was the first time I've been during the day. In my several visits, I've noticed several trends: It's always crowded and the bouncers are always unfriendly (even though you pay to get in, whether you are a girl, a boy, or Cindy Crawford herself). In their defense, The Standard hotel is a very modern, chic establishment, and I'm sure they have to regulate who they let in, but I've got to say, for all of their posh and sleek exterior, they have terrible guest relations.

That said, It's a really cool pool. There are water bed pods, and a giant pool that's level with the surface of the ground, and topiary unicorns, and it goes without saying they've cornered the market on afternoon pool parties in the middle of LA's concrete jungle (note: the Biltmore should build a pool). All in all, once you weigh the snobbery against the beauty and charm, I guess you break even, which pretty accurately sums up Los Angeles as well. 

 My downtown vacation was very fun and glamorous, but I can't picture myself living like that every day. For one thing, it costs $40 a day to park your car, and there are hipsters with knee tattoos who say things like "Oh my gaaaaawd. We drove all the way from Silverlake to go to this pool party, and it's $20.00!". I'm not sure I could ever adjust to that.  Even without that though, I think I'm content with spending my weekends riding my bike, going to farmers markets and being a beach city girl, and just playing dress up every now and then.

Cheers to Summer Stay-cays!

Trying out a Wordless Wednesday...kind of.

Big thanks to my friend S. Parker for snapping this pic while we were out a few weeks ago. PBR inspires.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hike to the Hollywood Sign: It's so El Lay.

There are so many tourist-ey things to do in LA. There's the Hollywood walk of fame, Rodeo Drive, lunch at the Ivy, and of course going to the Hollywood sign. They're the sort of things that you think to yourself, "Hey, I live here, I should do that." and then you never do. Up until I came to Pepperdine, I had no idea that you can actually hike to the Hollywood sign. Somehow, even though Campus Recreation leads a hike up there every semester, I never managed to go. I blame it on too many trips to the Malibu Inn and Sunset Bar & Grill  tests I had to study for.

Long story short, a couple of weeks ago, a few of my friends suggested that we go on the hike, and since I'd been putting it off, I thought, "Why not? It's summer, I'm young, and somewhat active, this will be fun."

Well, it would have been more fun if I had remembered to bring tennis shoes on the morning of the hike. Nevertheless, we were already planning on going, so I gamely decided to do the hike in flip flops (in hindsight, this was totally unintentional, but very LA. No one wears appropriate footwear here). We drove up into the Hollywood Hills, passing posh mansions, and cars that cost more than my parents' house. When we finally parked, we saw that the Hollywood sign was fairly close. It just happened to be up a steep trail-less incline.

Un-daunted, we decided the most logical thing to do was to take some pictures. I should probably explain, we were under the impression that there would be a clearly marked path to the sign, but instead of looking up how to get to it beforehand, someone in our group (who will remain nameless) just googled "Hollywood Sign" and that was the means we used to find ourselves at the base of this hill.

After an appropriate amount of jumping pictures and high fives, we stopped a woman who was jogging by and asked her how to get to the actual hike. She told us it was just around the corner and through a small gate, and that the sign was about a half hour hike up the hill. We proceeded to walk around the corner, only to find a small dirt path that dead ended in some trees. So naturally, we stopped to take more pictures.

Clearly, we were very focused on the task at hand. About twenty minutes later, we realized that we simply hadn't walked far enough, because the "trail" up to the sign was actually a large, paved road that went all the way to the top. Yet another example of how well Los Angeles tolerates nature. On the other hand, the asphalt road made the fact that I was wearing flip flops much less of a problem. It also eased the path for the army of mommy-hikers with strollers who were out on that fine Monday morning. Honestly, it was like the 405, only with toddlers in strollers and men wearing baby bjorns.

The hike took us longer than thirty minutes, but that could have something to do with all of the pictures we stopped to take. When reached the top we were greeted with two very interesting facts:

1. There were about fifty people milling around the summit of the hike. Starbucks is probably going to open up a franchise there next week. It was SO crowded.

2. The end of the hike actually spits you out behind and above the Hollywood sign, and there's about 60 feet and a chain link fence that separates you from the actual letters of the sign. This was a tiny bit disappointing, as it meant I could not climb inside one of the "O"'s and stick my head out, which is what I was hoping for.

Even though the City of Los Angeles did not want anyone to use the Hollywood sign as a jungle gym, the view from the top was really lovely. We could see allllll the way across town to the ocean. Ahhhh.

Everyone should go hike to the Hollywood sign. It's a quick, fun hike, you'll get some fresh air in your lungs, see lots of other tourists, and the view is totally worth it. Don't expect a warm welcome from the locals, though.

Big thanks to our epic-hike photographer, LG, for stopping to take a million pictures!