Wednesday, September 29, 2010

North Carolina

Last month was a whirlwind of yet more air travel. I took two red-eyes to Grand Rapids, Michigan to shoot a short scene in an independent movie, then from Michigan I took two more flights to visit my family in North Carolina. My brother flew in from New York and my sister, brother in law and nephew drove in from Colorado. We had an impossibly good time together.

It was bittersweet as my sister and her family were preparing to leave for Panama for a one year language/cultural immersion trip through Central America. But we all came together (sans sister in law, niece and other nephew) to wish them a Bon Voyage. Yes, I cried. My sister is my best friend. But before the tears, came a pretty perfect visit.

My nephew and my Mom get along like two peas in a pod. My mother was an elementary school teacher before she had children and is probably (to those who know her) the greatest story teller that ever lived. My nephew is, well just wonderful, edible wonderful. They can play in the back yard for hours just telling stories and laughing together.
The amazing thing about my parent's house in North Carolina, is that it feels like home. Of course it is 3,000 miles away from the place that I called home for most of my life. But this house makes me feel so safe and sound and inundated with nostalgia that I almost forget that I didn't grow up there. It doesn't hurt that all the furniture, pictures and carpets are the same either. We ate every meal on my Dad's newly renovated back porch under this umbrella.
Mom loves red.

My sister is a bit of a world traveler (Panama people). She spent some time in India and makes a mean curry. This was just one of the wildly colorful meals that we ate every night.
These are my parents. They've been married for 51 years. I think they are too cute for words.
My Dad insisted on wine with every meal (this is new). It made for some fantastic conversations and because we Davies are a long winded clan, we often stayed out on the porch until the stars came out. Best of all, because we were in North Carolina and in the middle of nowhere, the stars were brighter and seemed closer than any stars I've ever seen. Living in L.A. makes me forget how much I love seeing stars.

To say that I love it in N.C., is an over statement. I would love it if it were closer to Los Angeles. But when I see how happy my parents are there, well, I love that more than anything. North Carolina has a little bit of magic in it. For example, things grow there. They flourish with a verdant enthusiasm that I am not that familiar with. And the greens, there are more shades of green in my parent's little town in North Carolina than there are in the entire state of California. See for yourself-
Then there are the beauties in my mother's garden.

Plus, um, they have a bridge...and a creek.
I wish I had a bridge. Right now, I'm thinking of all the games I would have played as a little girl, who had a bridge in her back yard. There would have been a lot of make believe fairy tales involving golden balls and prince-frogs.
Can't you see them under there hiding in the darkness? See? Magical.

The day after I flew in, my Dad took the whole clan paddling down the French Broad River. It took us about 5 hours to finish the whole trip. We saw butterfly covered beaches and the first few delicate showers of fall as leaves swirled by us landing on the river. My sister (who used to instruct white water rafting excursions) paddled with my Mom the whole way. At one point, my father and brother tipped their canoe over and it took three men to empty it of it's 1,500 pounds of water. We picnicked, swam and sang songs. My mother told my nephew stories, and we all listened. There is something older than us in North Carolina. It feels like a wiser tribal elder, someone who has something to teach me. It seemed to guide my family back to the things that mattered, the simpler things that I forget about living my life in Los Angeles. I really do wish North Carolina were closer, I would love to fall in love with it.

And don't tell me I already have....alright, I have. Shit. Time to buy another plane ticket.

Moms need a break too!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Santa Barbara Mojito Party

My Mother loves mojitos. This wouldn't normally be adorable and strange except for the fact that most of my life, my parents never drank. Growing up, we had a stocked bar in the house but only used it for parties. Every once and a while they would maybe have a glass of wine, but that was rare and reserved for special occasions. It's astounding that my sister and I share their genetics. I'm not sure what happened to my Mom and Dad exactly but somewhere between becoming empty-nesters and retirement, my parents started to drink a little more often. Usually it's just one (lets not get crazy now) at a dinner party or restaurant. My mother loves a mixed fruity drink and my father a glass of red wine. I'm not sure why I find it so endearing. It's just that they have always been such highly functioning, by-the-book intellectuals it's nice to see them (in their 70's) throw caution to the wind and have a mojito every once and a while. Who says people can't change.

I grew up in Santa Barbara. I am totally bias but, I think it is the the most beautiful place in the world. My parents lived there for 40 years and then two years ago, they moved and retired to North Carolina. I am still coming to terms with this fact. I mean, North Carolina is beautiful and they are happy there but it seems pretty fucking crazy to me that anyone would voluntarily move out of Santa Barbara. I mean I moved, but I was also, 22 and I have never claimed sanity.

My Mom and Dad still come 'home' every now and again to visit their doctors, dentist, friends and daughter. But I think they are missing us less and less. North Carolina is a charmer. A month ago when they came to town, I threw them a big fat (don't you miss us) party. And to sweeten the pot, I made mojitos. There were a lot of mojitos and Cuban fish tacos. It was quite a feast.

Dorien's Mojitos
In an empty rocks glass (the short fat kind) muddle together
Fresh juice of one lime
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves
Add ice to glass
Add one shot of light rum
Top off with sparkling water
Mix with spoon
For extra flavor add a floater of one T dark rum (optional)

I didn't take any photos of the cocktails because I spent most of the night muddling them and they were consumed in seconds. Mea Culpa. Here was my spread...

This fish taco recipe was taken from ALL RECIPES and they were the best grilled fish tacos I've ever made/eaten. The chipotle-lime crema was to die for.

I also made this awesome and incredibly SIMPLE SALSA From Mary and Alison's beautiful blog. I've made both the salsa and fish tacos again since this meal. I cannot reccomend them enough.

My godparents hosted the party at their beautiful Upper West Side Spanish bungalow, a home that I practically grew up in. All the usual suspects showed up. Friendships that my parents have cultivated for 30 plus years picked up right were they left off. We ate and drank and laughed into the night. I would be fooling myself if there wasn't a little part of me that hoped that they would be convinced to stay but the following week they packed up their little red car and drove back across the country. Yes they drive. Somethings are not subject to change.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Zen Of Bed Rest And Dope

Last week I pinched a nerve in my neck. It was the worst episode of back spasms and shooting, electric-neck-pain that I have ever experienced. After something like 8 flights, 2 red eyes, 2 paddling excursions and a few hikes in a one week period, my body cried uncle. At it's worst, it took me twenty five minutes to move from laying down to standing. And the pain was so bad that it made me cry. I admit it, there were tears. When I visited my doctor the next day, she looked at me cross eyed and asked, "Why on earth didn't you go to the Emergency Room Dorien?" Yeah, that bad.

Having never been treated for this kind of thing before, I had no idea how many drugs were involved. I don't even take cold medicine when I'm sick so this was a huge leap of faith. After filling four prescriptions and a getting a shot of steroids in my arm, I headed home for my first real sleep in two days. It was a welcome bit of drug induced time off (and probably not far off from a coma). What I didn't realize was that our couch was where I was going to stay for the entire week. Here it is, in all it's splendor.

It took about seven days for me to return to normal. During that time my mind was so foggy with drugs and weak with pain that the only thing I really managed to do was figure out how to instantly watch Netflix movies on my TV. Oh, and eat. I ate like a pregnant woman (No Mom, not pregnant). One of the side effects of all the drugs, was my insatiable appetite. Which in and of itself is torture when you can't stand up long enough to make a decent meal and you're me, who cries inside ever time I microwave a Lean Cuisine. To top it all off there was dog hair everywhere, layers of dust and a shedding carpet. But for some reason, and yes it may have been the drugs, I just let it go. I didn't clean, I didn't really cook, I didn't obsess, I just sort of looked inside and worked on getting myself better.

Amazing. I have a hard time believing that I just wrote that and meant it.

The Husband was patient with me beyond measure, he never once tried to help me up (that hurt too much). He picked up tacos from Cinco De Mayo and Chinese soup from the place down the street. He fluffed my pillows and filled my water bottle. He even slept on the couch the first night so that his movement wouldn't send my back into spasms. And because I would rather spend my awake time with him in the living room (where I lived), we decided not to 'waste time' cleaning the kitchen (where I would normally live). This is what it looks like when we don't do the dishes for six days. Impressive huh? It went on in both directions...

Out of sight/out of mind. At least until day six, when I started feeling like myself, my ego returned and I tackled these bad boys in a drug free fever. I guess my Zen can only last so long.

After a good (and ginger) bout with the laundry, when I was finally able to wash my hair by myself, I took a look at my face in the mirror for the first time in almost a week. And I looked different. I'm not sure exactly what it was, maybe it was all the sleep. Maybe it was the break from caring about trivial things, giving up my need to do everything and do it now, or maybe it was all the eating and drugs. I don't know. But something about last week made my face lighter/calmer my eyes clearer.

My sister later confided in me that the times when her back goes out have been some of the most welcome moments of quiet contemplation in her life. Times when she was forced to rest and look inward, despite her career, husband and child. She said that she found herself feeling oddly grateful for that time off even with the pain that went with it. Once I started thinking about it, I realized that strangely enough, I am grateful for that time too. Even though, my doctor, husband and even myself seemed to be scared for my well being. Even though getting up to brush my teeth took almost a half an hour of electric shocks down my spine. Even though I had to take drugs that I wasn't that thrilled about. Even despite all of these things, I'm grateful for the perspective that this week of immobility has brought me. The pleasures of driving again, watering my garden, taking my dog for a walk, and picking up her wildly multiplying fur balls. The glory of making dinner. But, for all the things that I'm doing now, I'm trying to remember the rest too, the nothing part of it all that brought me the healing that I needed. Maybe everyday for just a little while, that's what I'll do. A little nothing, so that I can be better prepared for a life of everything.

Just a thought. Nothing really.


Monday, September 20, 2010

This Saturday - Fries On The Side

Well, it's that time again, and this show is special because we (The Cast) are hosting the show. First time ever. I cannot wait. Hope to see you there!

comedy sketch live los-angeles

Six Months

Six months of being the luckiest girl in the world.

Love you Husband.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Etsy Shop

Well my friends I've done it. I've opened up my Etsy Shop at last and it's loaded with milk glass.

I've been collecting and adoring milk glass for 10 years now. There is something so Grandma yet modern about it. I just love the stuff.

The days leading up to my wedding brought loads of gifted milk glass from friends (most of which I won't part with because they were gifts and I love them so). When I added the gifted lot to my own existing collection it was the perfect amount for our wedding. And it was so beautiful.

But now, what on earth am I going to do with all of these 80+ pieces that I've collected. It seems a shame to keep them in our storage unit.

So with the hopes of finding them a good home, I've opened up my shop. Enjoy, I'll be adding more as I go and feature it on the blog whenever I pull out an especially pretty piece. Plus, I've also started picking up a few pieces (which I need like a hole in my head).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Perfect Hummus

My sister and I are always trying to find the perfect hummus. We actually have entire conversations about hummus ingredient ratios. Hummus is one of those things that changes, with the region/family/season. Some people add roasted peppers, some olives, some roast their garlic first. I went to a Mediterranean restaurant last week where the hummus contained no garlic at all. When my friend asked the owner why the hummus had no garlic, the owner said "people in Los Angeles don't like to have bad breath." While the idea of voluntarily leaving garlic out of anything seems fucking insane to me, I have a strange appreciation for the ever morphing dip that is this mush of garbanzos.

Last weekend, I brought some of my recent dip-experimentation to a friend's birthday party. It was really well balanced batch, the closest to perfect that I have made thus far. Thought I'd share it...

Classic Hummus (perfect or not)

2- 10 oz cans of garbanzo beans
1- 8 oz tub of tahini (I like the Trader Joe's kind)
4 cloves of garlic
The juice of 1 lemon
1 t salt.
1/2 cup good cold press olive oil (good oil matters here, use the good stuff)

Place all the ingredients into your food processor and blend until creamy. That's it. Oh, and depending on your tahini, you may need to add a little more olive oil.

I served it with sheep's milk feta cheese and olives that I marinated in a dash of good oil, fresh herbs, chili flakes and lemon zest. Then just for a little extra pretty, I put some of the marinade on the top of the hummus.

This dish was cleaned out in about 45 min and I found myself regretting not bringing the entire batch to the party. Next time I will for sure. Because I will absolutely make this again.

TOMS Shoes

Amazing Cookbook

My friend Shelley has an awesome guerrilla-restaurant that she runs out of her house in Notting Hill. Yesterday she sent me a link to an Internet cookbook that blew my mind. The moment I read through it, I just had to share it with you all.

Street Food by Tom Kime
. It's all on the interwebs, just click and scroll down.

It's such a beautiful book I thought I'd share the Amazon link cause I'm tempted...

Ovi Part Cinq/ Sorry

Forgive me friends. I've neglected you all. I've actually really missed working on this little blog of ours. But alas I have been a very busy girl. Traveling, working, cooking and traveling more. It's been exhausting and well, pretty flipping wonderful. Every last bit of it. The good news is that I'm back and I've got so, so much to share.

The first little bit that I have for you is another fun episode of our add campaign from the kind people at Nokia. It seems that the readers of the Nokia blog have now named me Princess Leia. Awesome.