Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Secret Dog Park

My friend Avi took me to a secret dog park up in the Hollywood hills. I don't even know if it's a legal dog park. Probably not because they are normally dirty, dusty and reek of pee. This one was different, clean and grassy with a beautiful view. It didn't hurt that the rain had just wiped the city clean and the wind had driven all the smog away either.
I haven't seen my dog this happy since the last time we drove an hour and a half down to Huntington to take her to the dog beach. This park was like a little slice of dog heaven, and it's right here, in Los Angeles.
I can't tell you where it is, because then it wouldn't be secret. But you should try to find it, I promise it's the best dog park you'll ever go to.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


It's fall in Southern California. It's a strange time for those of us who have spent a fall (or four) on the east coast. In California, it doesn't look like what fall is "supposed" to look like. We have some deciduous trees, but not many and any rain that we get just makes the grass and bulbs come to life. It ends up looking more like spring with a few colored leaves on the trees.

So, in honor of my beloved home state, I thought I'd share something else with you that doesn't look like what it is supposed to.

I found them in my yard, none of the other leaves on the tree look like this. I thought it was strange and sweet. Even sweeter since there were two.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

Looking for an awesome soup to start off your Thanksgiving? Oh look, I've got it.
It takes a few ingredients, a little elbow grease, some love and BOOM you've got a big pot of awesome. I made this for our Halloween party, where I called it "Mr. Butter's Nuts Got Squashed Soup." Despite the name, it was gobbled up. The spices were just perfect for my batch, but you never know with starchy root veggies and gourds. You may need to add a little more of the spices (but don't go crazy, jeeze).

Mr. Butternut's Soup

1 1/2 Large Butter Nut Squashes
1 Large Onion
3 Stalks of Celery
3 Large Carrots
3 Large Potatoes
1/2 Stick of Salted Butter
8 Cups of Chicken Broth
1 T Sea Salt
1/2 t Ground Ginger
1 1/2 t Curry Powder
1 1/2 t Cinnamon
1 1/2 T Brown Sugar

You'll need a large pot, an immersion blender and a veggie peeler.

Cut butternut squash in half, clean out seeds and peel with veggie peeler.
With a large sharp knife, cut squash into thumb sized pieces. Your palm will get sore from cutting, use a towel on top of the knife if you need it.
Clean and chop your mirepoix (Onion, celery & carrot).
Peel and dice potatoes. Once all veggies are prepped, melt butter in a tall heavy soup pot. When butter is melted, add veggies and cook for 6 or 7 minutes then cover with broth.
Once the soup begins to boil, add 1 T of salt and pepper to taste. When all the veggies are soft use immersion blender to make the soup smooth and creamy.
Once soup is pureed, add ginger, cinnamon, curry and brown sugar. Add more spices if you think they are needed. Serve with hot fresh buttered bread and thin slices of green apples. Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving... eat too much for me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teen Witch The Musical!

I saw "Teen Witch The Musical" at the Groundlings on Monday night. It's a live stage adaptation of the silly 80's movie. It's wonderful. I've seen it three times over the years and it just gets better and better. Go and see this show. The last performance was sold out and there is only one show left, so reserve your tickets immediately. Trust me, it is such a good time.

Monday November 15th
@ The Groundlings Theater
7307 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
For Reservations call
The Groundlings Box Office @ 323-934-4747
Tickets are $8.00 at the door

Colleen Smith
Eliot Benjamin
Jordan Black
Candace Brown
Drew Droege
Artemis Pebdani
Amy Procacci
Derek Ringold
Nicole Sciacca
Kenny Stevenson
Patty Wortham
Mike Zara

Backstage with Drew, Kenny, Jordan and Artemis.

The costumes are wonderful-bad

Watching Artemis, seriously puts me in danger of peeing my pants.

Coleen rocks the trench coat.

Drew as the drama teacher, with the longest, skinniest, hairiest, girl-legs of all time is just so much fun.

We saw a peek of Jordan's bum.

Drew's aforementioned legs...

I actually liked Candace's dress here. Is that wrong?

I promise you, you will love this show. Go!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Greg and Alicia's Wedding

Wedding seven of eight this year, was in San Jan Capistrano. Two of The Husband's good friend's from school married each other in a beautiful mission wedding. The day was a celebration of old California in every detail. The bride's family has been in California for 7 generations, her late father was the Mayor of Capistrano and she has a parkway named after her (it used to be just a little road and then...parkway). Alicia and Greg (the bride and groom) are two of the coolest people you will ever meet. See for yourself in Greg's new blog. They are also two founding members of the Conquistadors, and have visited each and every single mission. They are both one step away from becoming Huel Howser himself. What I find most compelling about these two, is that they adore California and appreciate it's history without a trace of irony. This wedding reflected that. It was sincere homage to the golden state in every detail.

It rained on our way down to San Juan Capistrano and then...double rainbow.

The sky cleared when we got near the Mission.

And it ended up being a beautiful day.

The ceremony was held in Father Serra's Chapel (the original Mission at San Juan Capistrano). Only a select few can be married in this chapel. Alicia is one of the few because she can track her family lineage in San Juan so far back.

Alicia wore her grandmother's Spanish comb as part of her veil.

Our friend Scott (fellow Conquistador) spray painted a stencil onto his suit jacket. Now that is real commitment.

For some wonderful reason, they both have street signs with their last names on them. Alicia's is literally named after her family. Their guest book had pictures of them visiting each California Mission together.

Their gift envelope box was covered with California fruit labels. I thought this was super cool.

They had a simple cake with their birthday year and wedding date on it. There were churro sundaes to go with it!

Every table on their seating chart was named after a different Mission.

They got custom made papel picado flags that decorated the reception courtyard.

The bride's shoes!!! She had these custom made to look like their street signs. They were covered with California poppies.

The Husband and The Groom. The white suit jacket...right?

Empanadas. Not kidding, I had six of these.

This was not our table, but it was my favorite one because I grew up four blocks from this mission.

The Bride's niece. I think she may be an actual angel.

The favors were California poppy seeds (our state flower).

During the first dance, the roof of the reception hall opened.

Dinner. Oh, I wish I had some of that right now.

And then, the yummiest churro sundae. It was seriously one of the most delicious things, so fresh and crispy!

We danced and danced until we could dance no more.

The bride closed the party down in style.

Then we all walked across the street to The Swallows (an iconic Capistrano dive bar).

Yes, even the bride and groom came with us (it was thier idea). And as a matter of fact, there were two brides at The Swallows that night.
But only one was this awesome. Congratulations Greg and Alicia, your wedding was just amazing. A little dose of "California's gold!" (Sorry, I had to)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Mom Reviews - "Blindness" by Jose Saramago

My parent's owned a bookshop for 24 years. It was a beautiful bookshop located in Santa Barbara (then expanding to San Luis Obispo). It was called The Earthling. The Earthling was one of the greatest independent bookshops in the United States standing strong next to icons like Powell's and Book Soup. It supported local authors, local publishers and never censored anything. It was a community in and of it self. We had an amazing staff, the first bookstore coffee shop and we entertained some of the world's most famous authors on a regular basis. But what made The Earthling so unique, was my mother. My mother is one of those people who can read a 600 page book in a single evening. She has a voracious appetite for literature as well as the knack to recommend just what you were looking for. If you say you liked one book, she will tell you what to read next. If you have no idea what you want, she'll have an answer for that too. She had a gift. She's like a book suggestion Santa.

Since my parents are now retired and my mother spends her days volunteering at charity book sales and working for her local library, I asked her to share some of her advice and recommendations with us. So with that, I would like to welcome you to the first installment of... "My Mom Reviews..." This week -

Blindness by Jose Saramago
Reviewed by Penny Davies

I just finished reading a masterpiece and I am still shaking. I didn't want to read 'Blindness' by Jose Saramago, but I admire the woman who recommended it for our book group and have never been disappointed with the books she selects.

Saramago won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his body of work right after 'Blindness' was released and is translated from the Portuguese.

The book takes place in an unnamed country, people go blind and are "put away" in an old asylum. One group who has had contact with each other, stays together in a ward of the asylum. However, one woman has retained her sight...and so begins the story.

It is depressing, it is shocking, it is maddening. But, I could not put it down. I read and read through the night, wondering, what would happen next. It is brilliantly written and I promise, if you read the entire book, you will not be sorry.

A movie was made of "Blindness", but I did not see it. I was told it wasn't good. The discussion at our book group was really interesting. It went on for two hours while people talked about how it would feel to go suddenly blind. You may be turned off by the subject, but you will be surprised how excellent this book is.

I give it five (of five) stars.

Thanks Mom.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Anthony & Susie's Wedding

A little over a month ago The Husband and I went to a beautiful wedding in Los Gatos, CA. One of our mutual friends (and one of The Husband's co-workers), Anthony, married a super cool woman named Susie, in a gorgeous outdoor, Northern California venue. The food was superb, the drinks superb-er. It was our 6th wedding of the year (6 of 8) but, I'm telling you, I never get tired of them. This one was mighty special, so I thought I'd share. Enjoy...

Before the ceremony, we were greeted with fresh watermelon juice and jalapeno lemonade. I know, it sounds weird, but the lemonade was actually fantastic.

The alter was decorated with these beautiful hanging arrangements.

They handmade the programs.

These are my friend Shannon's legs. I mean, come on.

And then the bride, and the good stuff...

Yes, tears. Anthony's vows were cripplingly poignant and loving. It was a beautiful ceremony. After the kiss and enough time for the men to inconspicuously wipe their tears away, we trotted up the hill, taking seconds on the lemonade and juice. When we reached the reception garden we were greeted by this awesome place-card display...

The wedding was intimate and the details left nothing without character and charm.

The favors were so sweet and were sealed with this...

Inside was a donation to the no-kill animal shelter, where they got their dog Xander and a cookie cutter in the shape of Xander himself.

The mixed drinks were all served in mason jars. The husband's Jack and Coke...

My watermelon mojito. Um, yeah, it was that good...

This was the barn where all the dancing, cake eating, sundae making (yes, there was a gelato bar) and serious fun time went down.

There was a train that took us on a ride around the grounds (please take notice at The Husband's 6'4'' frame squeezed into a kitty car).

And there was a miniature house because everyone needs one of these.

How about this for a big load of handsome.

And a quick break for the beautiful bride, before the party gets it's sea legs.

The bouquets were stunning and the succulent theme was echoed all over the decor, including the wedding cake.

Best appetizer of the night was this "grilled cheese." It was grilled bread with melted brie, hollandaise and fried onions.

Lamb on polenta cakes.

Dinner Time!

Good wine.

Caprese salad.

A massive pan of paella.

Carrot and jicama slaw with dill and marscapone cheese.

Purple potato salad with sauteed portobella mushrooms and lambs lettuce.

There were more pictures, but I wanted to get down to business. This was my plate, I ate it all. May I also point out that this was my first bite of red meat in twenty one years. Yeah, that, there... I ate it.

As the night died down, we headed into the barn, where this cake was accompanied by the previously mentioned gelato bar as well as a s'more campfire.

Stuffed, danced out and high on love, I wandered outside to get some fresh air. It was there on the patio, that I found these. A book of photos that the bride and groom had left out for their friends and family to add little quotes to. Here are some of the highlights.

Congratulations Anthony and Susie, thank god you got cooler as you got older. May your marriage be long and happy. Thank you for sharing it with us and for such a brilliant evening.