12.29.2009

back in LA.

I have been out and about around the state for the past 7 days, and it's nice to be back in my own bed. I missed you, bed.

On Christmas Day a welcome treat was a run in the gorgeous 75 degree weather. Proof:



Hey, if people get to brag about a white Christmas (ahem, D), I get to brag about this.

Then I headed up to the bay - how rad are these shots of Hwy 152? Creepy and awesome.







I took the rest of the week off, so I have big plans to dust off my Wii, tear down the Christmas decorations (single tear...is it really over?), hit up the gym and start working off the holiday goodies, and if I'm REALLY ambitious, clean out my closet. I've subscribed to far too many fashion blogs this year and they've inspired me to work on that game in 2010!

Speaking of blogs. There are so many fun ones out there. I've dumped all my depressing world news blogs (kept one or two so I don't miss out on Detroit airport Christmas fun) and subscribed to a ton of personal blogs this year. All of you out in blogland inspire me. Not just to blog but to live...fabulously.

Happy almost 2010!

12.26.2009

the water grill.

I should have posted this two weeks ago! The holidays have finally given me time to get my head on straight about stuff besides buying gifts, packing to go places, baking, and other holiday debauchery of that sort.

Is it just me or is there a crazy oversaturation of hot new spots in town, especially a place like Los Angeles? Admittedly I subscribe to all the email lists - Urban Daddy, Thrillist, ....... But when a few awesome food bloggers I follow (some whom I'm lucky enough to count as friends) recommend a new place, I take notice. I bookmark the restaurant. And I pretty much never go...or it takes me months and it is old news. But not this time! The Water Grill can probably be counted as old news because it's not a new spot, but it's been getting a bit of press lately for two reasons: Blackboard Eats' passcode for a free dozen oysters (regular price: $32.90) and their prix fixe lobster clam bake. My immediate thought was - where do I sign up?

Sadly D has an aversion to eating anything that used to live in the sea, but it didn't take much to rope in a foodie coworker to come with me. Actually, all it took was linking her to my friend Esther's review over at e*starla. She was in and it was on. Lobster clam bake, here we come!

I was genuinely intrigued, as I feel like any restaurant can roll out the red carpet and bring out the big guns for a media dinner. A bad blog review = epic dollars lost. So as a paying customer, it was their time to really shine.

And oh did they shine. My friend and I arrived for our reservation at 5:30 (what can I say, we were really into the idea of an early bird special), and got settled in with a bottle of pinot grigio and our amuse bouche. It did the trick - we were ready for them to bring on the goodies.

I mentioned my Blackboard Eats password and suddenly we had a platter of 6 different types of oysters, 2 of each. Yum!! I rarely order oysters and usually it's as a shooter, so being able to do a tour de oyster (Washington, Maine, Canada, etc.) was pretty overwhelming...in a good way. There were 3 dips but I was too into getting the different flavors of oysters...I never realized the flavors were so definite. Onto the next.

We both got the Black River gorgonzola cheese and sugar pumpkin salad, which definitely did not disappoint. It was a fusion of flavors I've never really experienced before, and the crispy whole sage leaves were my favorite part of the salad.

Our waiter came over with fancy napkin bibs for our lobster experience - they do not mess around. We each had a whole lobster with clarified butter for dipping, along with corn, mussels, clams, new potatoes, baby carrots and sausage. Um, yes. So much good food. How to even consider dessert?

But dessert was included and how could we deny it? I had the root beer float with ginger cookies. A perfect end to a delicious meal.

Truly, any seafoodie would be satisfied here. I was very impressed and so glad I didn't let my passcode and the recommendation go to waste. If you need me I'll be in the gym for the week, trying to make up for this decadent treat!

12.24.2009

Happy Christmas!



I was watching The Holiday a couple weeks ago, and I love that everyone in England in the movie wished each other a "Happy Christmas" instead of a merry one. It made ME happy.



I have been a busy bee at work getting ready to be off for 11 glorious days. And now I am blogging from my parents house. We have already managed to watch Home Alone, drink hot apple cider with brandy and chase around Verne. Truthfully I can't believe this year's almost over. It has been one of THE most incredible years of my life and I have so many amazing people to thank for this. I am so blessed and so lucky!

I can't wait to watch way too many movies with the fam, play video games with my brother, visit with friends and family, take a trip to the bay area, snowboard and spend New Year's back in LA before jumping into 2010.

Happy Christmas!!



(Pics of some of my apartment holiday decorations. I can't help but feel like that little tree, my first Christmas tree of my own!, is so lonely back in LA.)

12.21.2009

SB Adventures and 2009 takes another one...

A few shots from an amazing weekend in Santa Barbara...















And another one in 2009? Let's hurry into the new year and not look back.

RIP Brittany Murphy...


I wish I could relax this week but I have SO much to do before I'm off for the holidays (Wednesday, come on let's do this!).

12.18.2009

surprise weekend!



Whisking D off for a surprise weekend in Santa Barbara for his 30th birthday. Have a lovely weekend!

(Photo via flickr)

12.14.2009

Rain and other adventures.



Oh dear...blogging is just so much work in December. Whoops! Truthfully even though I got all my holiday shopping done before the 1st of December (which has proved to be the BEST DECISION EVER), I have been so busy with things here and there that need to be wrapped up by year's end.

The last week of my life:

- an amazing dinner at The Water Grill (post to come).

- one year celebration with D! Best year of my life. I am a lucky lucky girl!

- LA Kings game with D and a couple other friends in downtown LA in the pouring rain...oh dear. Add dinner and some (ahem...several) drinks to that, and it was fabulous. Overtime and 3 shootouts didn't hurt either. Go Kings!

- Celebrated my mama's birthday out in Rancho - cooked for the fam and my grandparents.

- Lots and lots of rain...which I LOVED (except when I was walking through it with my friend on Friday night down Sunset Blvd. Adventure Friday in full effect!).

This next two weeks is going to be nutty. I'll be in and out. Happy holidays!

12.07.2009

rain(bow) monday.

Such a fantastic and relaxing weekend...is it already Monday? We're getting some wet weather, and any kind of weather change is such a phenomenon here in LA. A day of rain warrants Storm Watch 2009. But I definitely love it. What I love even more?





There was this GORGEOUS rainbow across all of Los Angeles and it was fully visible, from one side to the other! This rainbow stretched from Beverly Hills to Downtown LA (yes, the bottom of the rainbow in the second pic actually goes through the downtown buildings!). It was so huge that I couldn't even get a shot of the whole thing. Luckily I'm 33 floors up and was able to get decent (though not great) photos of it. Lovely! Apparently there are pots of gold in Beverly Hills and Downtown...who knew? Ha.

12.04.2009

friday!

A week after a holiday usually drags, but this week hasn't been too bad for me. D is out of town this weekend so I am taking the opportunity to make some plans with myself and with friends. Agenda: adventures at The Grove with a dear friend from high school, perhaps a few drinks with friends, a farmers market trip, and trying a new (to me!) restaurant on Sunday night.

And it's supposed to rain ALL next week! I love the rain so I'm pretty excited about that, and maybe even a dump of snow for some possible boarding in Big Bear next weekend.

My cell phone pic for this week, a broken record from this post.

My brother's new kitten, Verne. How can you not love him??



Have a lovely weekend!

12.03.2009

vintage jewelry.

Speaking of vintage...I had the most incredible find of vintage jewelry over turkey day! While I was home, my mama pulled out an old box and we dug through her collection of silver, turquoise, etc. The best part - she MADE all of this stuff! Apparently when she was about my age in the 70s, she took a jewelry making class and this goldmine is the result. She crafted the silver and everything. If she made this stuff now, she could sell it to designer boutiques for top dollar. It's all so beautiful. And lucky me...it's all mine! I bought some silver polish and polished the tarnished vintage metal until it shone. I've worn a piece from the collection every day this week!

Before:


After:

12.02.2009

Holidays at Disneyland.



Being a kid from Southern California, a trip to Disneyland is both standard and fantastic, all rolled into one. I had a season pass for 3 years from age 17-20. I miss it, and I can't believe I hadn't been in 2 years as of this month! Lucky me, I got a chance to go with D (the bf), two dear friends and their daughter.



This time around we tried dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised! We sat outside upstairs and it was fantastic - the food was so good. Disneyland over the holidays is just so magical, I love it.


12.01.2009

doc martens.



Doc Marten boots: badge of the 90s. I got a pair for a gift when I was about 12 or so when they were ooh so hip (hello mid 90s!) and I have kept them all these years. I've never really been one to hang onto old trends because I just recently started collecting cool pieces and also, I've moved from apartment to apartment for 7 years or so and it's just too much work lugging out of date stuff along with my (way too full as it is) closet. But these shoes stayed.

I'm not sure why. I took them from place to place and always shoved them into the back of my closet and forgot about them until my next move. Until my last move into my adorable studio, where the verdict was that some of my stuff needed to live in my parent's garage for the time being.

So when I was home over Thanksgiving and had an opportunity to dig around the garage a bit, I was so excited to rediscover these awesome boots.

Welcome back into my life, Doc Marten. I knew there was a reason I kept you around so long!

(Photo via flickr)

11.30.2009

belated thanks.

I took a much needed hiatus from life for the past 5 days...a complete necessity. Now I'm refreshed and revived and ready for the crazy holiday season. Bring it!

This year I am so thankful for my family, my health and a few very special loved ones that I am blessed to know. Also, meeting some lovely, crazy, talented people through my fantastic bf. These people are rad, I'm so lucky to know them!



This weekend was dedicated to cooking, baking (above is one of my goodies: Ina Garten's French Apple Tart) and eating so much good food (my dad makes the WORLD'S best turkey, for serious), snuggling with my family's pets (and an adorable new kitten named Verne), watching far too many movies, avoiding Black Friday at all costs, and sleep. Oh, and a bit of shopping.

Verne:







I also went exploring with my bf and drove to downtown Claremont...pulling me all the way back down memory lane to my childhood. It's amazing how the village hasn't changed one bit! Rhino Records where I used to loiter...the diner with the yummiest fries...and the folk music shop. We went by my old elementary school, junior high, and my mom's old office. Claremont is beautiful!

Finally...as of today, I am done done done holiday shopping! I did it - made my goal to be done by December 1, what a relief.

It's official...happy holidays!

11.24.2009

pumpkin cupcakes.



I am admittedly not a great food photographer (maybe Santa will bring me a book on food photography). But trust me when I say these cupcakes are to DIE for. Truth.

I've raved about the cream cheese frosting already. If you like an overly sweet frosting this isn't for you. It's the perfect amount of sweet and cream cheese-y and I can't get enough.

The cupcake recipe is from The Way the Cookie Crumbles - a recent favorite food blogger. I love that she does comparisons. I never have time but what a great way to find the perfect recipe! This recipe endorsement got me to finally buy some buttermilk...a rarity in my kitchen because I never use it. And now I'm playing around with recipes that use buttermilk. A yummy domino effect.

BTW I actually just dumped in the whole 15oz can of pumpkin, a bit more than noted in the recipe and it turned out great. I like that bit of extra pumpkin flavor. And for garnish I toasted some pecan halves I had in my cupboard and put one on each top. But they are just as good without that extra.

Two more days til turkey! I am trying out a bunch of new recipes this year and chucking a few old favorites in the interest of spicing things up for my family (no pumpkin pie this year! The horror!). Truth be told I will probably miss the pie immensely and it might get made later this weekend. It's my great grandmother's recipe, after all.

11.23.2009

oh hi world!

Last week I was sucked into the work abyss and couldn't blog/breathe/sleep. I topped it off with a 30 hour day - 8am Thursday morning to about 1pm Friday. Oh yes. Scurry along, business world!

Anyhow, I am just playing catch up. And aching for a few lovely holiday moments with my family. Two more days, I can't wait!

Hopefully I can sneak away tomorrow evening from holiday prep and post about cupcakes, Disneyland and my thoughts on New Moon.

11.20.2009

friday...hooray!

It has been a LONG couple of weeks. But two very exceptional things are going on this weekend: Tonight...comedy show. Saturday...New Moon. Sunday...Disneyland! Oh happy day!

Some lovely phone favorites this week:

Charlie!!! I.LOVE.THIS.DOG. Mary & John...you are so lucky. Charlie is my favorite.


One of my absolute favorite spots in LA. The top of one of the best hiking trails in LA, in Pacific Palisades.



Happy happy weekend! Only six days until turkey!

11.18.2009

baby otter.



Please mute your computer to the cheesy music and partake in this video. Otters are hands down my favorite sea creature (otters holding hands on youtube, anyone?) and this just gives me the warm and fuzzies. I needed some warm and fuzzies this week!

perspective.



This image and it's message are perfect for this moment, for me.

No time to blog. Hopefully cupcakes will be discussed tomorrow.

But just one thing before I go. If you're reading this...send out a prayer, a positive thought, good vibes, love, zen and health...anything you can...to my family. It's really necessary right now.

(image via m-altruism)

11.17.2009

The Den of Hollywood.

Saturday evening the bf had some friends visiting from Las Vegas, so we took them out to dinner/drinks on Sunset Blvd. I had been wanting to try The Den of Hollywood since it opened a few months ago, and this was the perfect opportunity. We got there at about 5:30 and had some time to kill before our friends arrived, so we sat at the bar to partake in some happy hour drinks. Half priced tap beer and well drinks? Yes please. Each drink was $3! My kind of price point. We made friends with the bartender Casey, who was so great! We had the best time chatting it up with him and he reaffirmed my love for gimlets. I used to love gimlets but most places make them with Rose's lime juice, so they are usually syrup-y...not a fan. But Casey's gimlets are made with fresh lime juice, etc. I have to admit I had at least 4 of these. Way too tasty.

And then the food. Just check out the menu, though it frequently rotates. Nothing we ate was less than fantastic.

Verdict: I will most definitely be back to this place! I'm pretty sure I found my new favorite happy hour in LA. Cheers!

11.16.2009

oh mondays.



I haven't even had my morning coffee yet but I am already too busy to breathe at work. Sigh. At least the weekend was great! Brunched at The Farm of Beverly Hills then continued my mad-dash to have all Christmas shopping before December 1. I really think this is going to happen! Happy happy day. The rest of the weekend was equally lovely. And to top it off, I finally got around to purchasing some Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee from Cost Plus...something I regretted not buying directly from the source when I visited New Orleans in the summer of 2007. A great way to start the morning.

The pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting were a hit last night at the dinner party I attended. I'll post about them in the next day or two. So yummy. I may or may not have had one of these for lunch yesterday, plus extra cream cheese frosting - the best ever.

(Photo via flickr)

11.13.2009

friday...

I loved my random cell phone pics from last week, maybe I'll make it a more regular thing.

A friend's roommate's cat. I love this pic. He is begging to be LOL captioned.


My dog. Well my mom's dog. She is the best dog in the world. Her name is Chelsea.

The crisp weather this week has put me in an uber chill mood...I want to nest and snuggle on my couch with a hot cup of tea (or glass of wine) and read, or watch movies, or eat spicy baked goods.

And it's official...with Winter Dream tea out at Coffee Bean (which I am sipping right now)...the holidays are very nearly here!

This weekend's agenda: brunch, Christmas shopping, baking (pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting), brainstorming ideas for a Thanksgiving menu, and lots of relaxing. The bf and I have been trying to finish Season 3 of Arrested Development...maybe this weekend it'll actually happen.

Happy Friday!

11.12.2009

devil went down to georgia.

I mean...this is just fan-tastic. LOVE.


11.11.2009

cable knit throws.



One of the lovely blogs I follow wrote about cable-knit throws, and I promptly scrolled past the post, knowing I would be sucked in immediately. But then last night, I sat down on my couch with a mug of peppermint green tea and the new Anthropologie catalog. And I fell in love. I'm pretty sure I need one of these gorgeous throws for "winter" (winter in LA...not really winter...).

Happy Veteran's Day and thanks to all who serve (and have served!).

(Photo scanned from Anthropologie catalog, click for full size)

11.10.2009

flight of the navigator.



I am not ashamed of the list of childhood movies that I still adore, including my mandatory holiday movie favorites. But how can someone not love The Sandlot, The Neverending Story, or basically every Disney movie that exists?

Driving down Beverly on Halloween through insane traffic (it is West Hollywood, after all!) my boyfriend spotted something exceptional as I was playing frogger with my car through the street. A midnight showing of one of my favorite movies of all time: Flight of the Navigator! Seriously, I own a copy of it on VHS. That's love. We checked it out last Friday night and it was everything I remembered and more. So exciting to view it on the big screen in a 1930s vaudeville theater with a bunch of other die-hard fans. All movies should be viewed this way.

I am hoping beyond all hopes that Return to Oz, which will be playing in December, is on a weekend I can attend.

BTW, I am pretending that this doesn't exist. A travesty.

11.09.2009

cream cheese frosting.



I had the pleasure of celebrating a dear friend's birthday (and engagement!) in the Hollywood Hills this Saturday night. Tucked away up on the other side of the freeway where I rarely venture was an adorable guest house that my friends rented out for the weekend, and had a group of us over to celebrate on Saturday. We played Mafia and drank and ate vegan (and non-vegan) goodies, and topped off the evening with homemade red velvet cupcakes - thanks Joe!

Joe whipped up the most incredible cream cheese frosting I have ever tasted. I love cream cheese anything, but most other recipes I've tried and/or made have had way too much sugar and are just too sweet. Not so with this one! I believe it's the mascarpone. I begged the recipe off of him and took it home with me that night to type up with the promise that I would send it back to him. And here it is, below. This recipe is begging to be used on homemade pumpkin cupcakes, which I plan to make next weekend.

Cream Cheese Frosting
source unknown

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream

1 - 8oz (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature

1 - 80z (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

In your food processor or with a hand mixer, process the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages. If the frosting is not thick enough to spread, cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour, or until it is firm enough to spread.

(photo via flickr)

11.06.2009

friday couldn't come soon enough...

What a week! Two things I dug up off my phone camera that make me incredibly happy:

These lovely people!



One of the pretty flowers in a bouquet from my boyfriend. What a guy.



Happy weekend!

11.05.2009

books.



This is the lovely, lonely pile of books on my nightstand, waiting patiently to be read. Every night lately, I come home with work in hand and gaze longingly at my stack of books to read. I'm incapable of going into a bookstore and walking out empty handed. There is always a wonderful book that needs to be in my life.

Intensity - Dean Koontz
Just got this book from a good friend of mine, and I've been told it will ruin sleep for me. Apparently it's about serial killers or something? I'm interested...and scared.

New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
I already read this, but it is my goal to re-read it before the movie comes out. I have 17 days. We'll see how that works out.

The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel
Been on my list for awhile and it will get read eventually, for sure.

The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
Borrowed this book from a friend sometime last year. Maybe admitting that will get me reading it finally!

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
To be read for a literature class that I enrolled in when things were slower. A class I very much want to finish, but am not sure will be able to. I plan to read this book regardless.

Public Enemies - Bryan Burrough
Factual and not as thrilling as the movie wanted to be (I didn't like the movie, which is another discussion). I love anything U.S. History so this is right up my alley.

11.03.2009

Blog-o-versary.



I didn't realize it, but I have officially been a blogger for 2 years, as of last Friday. I'm never very good at dates unless I write them down.

I initially started this blog as a joke with my friends, because we would email back and forth about all the ridiculous antics on The Hills, and it was more fun to put everything in a central place. In my opinion, everyone needs at least one silly TV show to watch, to put the world in perspective. I continue those reviews for the few friends who care to read them, they are silly and fun and I love to hate that show. But secretly I can't wait until it's off the air - it is past it's prime.

I started blogging about other things in my life because a friend from the bay recommended it when I moved down here, so she could read about life in Los Angeles. This blog has grown with that idea, and I have come to love blogging and feel like it's an amazing way for me to catalog little pieces of my life as they happen. Most of my friends don't even know this blog exists...I still hesitate to admit that I blog at all. I'm not very active in the blogging community but maybe I can make that my resolution for this new blog year for me. There are so many fascinating blogs out there and I love each window into a person's outlook on life, as I so readily admit!

(photo via flickr)

11.02.2009

November.



It's November! Or so my calendar and daylight savings tell me. Here in Los Angeles, it's still 80 degrees with no cool down (or storm front) in sight. Fall daylight savings always makes me a little sad. Getting out of work in the pitch black makes me feel like my day is already over. Time to countdown til the spring time change!

A few things I'm hoping November can bring into my life:

*Planning my holiday season and trips through the new year (a bay area trip is definitely in the works!)

*Buying all my Christmas presents before the December rush (I am horrible at this and then get so frustrated last minute)

*Re-read New Moon before the movie comes out (please please please be better than Twilight the movie)

*Pick a few new thanksgiving recipes to reinvent old favorites

*Sanity through three birthdays, two major holidays and one anniversary...and the end of the fiscal year for most of our clients at work

Happy November!

(photo via flickr)

10.30.2009

happy halloween!



Happy Halloween weekend! Cheers to lots of treats...and maybe just a few tricks. And Halloween candy. Lots of that too.

(photo via flickr)

10.29.2009

new boots.



Two more days!

Anyway...

I am definitely one of those people where clothes shopping is a sensory experience, so I am incredibly late to the online shopping trend. Thankfully this is slowly changing because I have very little time to in-store shop and there are so many great things online I'd never stumble across, even in a boutique here in LA.

My online clothing shopping started with shoes...and I've been pretty lucky in this respect, only having to exchange a size once. But I have been seriously coveting over-the-knee boots this season and was worried about ordering them online. There are so many variables with boots and especially these kind. But finally I gave in and ordered these boots in grey suede. They just came in yesterday and they are everything I hoped for and more! I am wearing them today scrunched down and slightly under the knee with black tights. Love.

PS: The photo is from carving pumpkins last week (while watching The Halloween Tree, of course). My bf thinks my pumpkin looks so scared and worried. Probably because his pumpkin is scary!

10.27.2009

4 days.



(via LAist)

10.26.2009

blogs.



One of my favorite parts of the morning, and a main reason I get myself out of bed and eventually into my office chair, is the promise of catching up on the world through the blogs I subscribe to. After getting a cup of coffee in my lovely Anthropologie mug (a birthday gift from my best friend last year), I sit down and catch up on the world. I subscribe to lots of personal blogs, design blogs, foodie blogs and news blogs. It's not unusual for my reader to have between 500-100+ unread items, especially if I get busy during my day...mostly from the global newsfeeds.

After an amazing weekend with some dear college friends, I am definitely settling slowly into my workweek.

Have a great week!

PS: The picture is one of my absolute favorite Halloween backgrounds. Click the pic for the full sized image. 5 days!