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)