February 2010


My not so secret confession?

I love reading.

I take a book wherever I go and love to curl up and read on the couch, in bed, on my white “reading” chair, at the beach – any time, anywhere!  I can’t even begin to imagine how many books I’ve read over my lifetime. I read so often, that I often forget the actual books! So I decided to start a review section on here (Book Worm) so I can share – and remember – all my reads!

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I like Nick Hornby. I think he is a good writer, not too cheesy. I think his books are fairly introspective and true to human nature.  Overall, I liked Juliet Naked, although it was no About A Boy (is it weird that I liked this one even better than Fever Pitch or High Fidelity?). This book tells the story of a woman (Annie) whose partner of 15+ years (Duncan) is obsessed with a once famous, now obscure musician – Tucker Crowe. A long-lost studio recording of Tucker’s draws different reactions from Annie and Duncan (she hates it, he loves it), and their relationship embarrassingly crumbles immediately. In an interesting turn of events, Annie’s critical review draws Tucker from his now normal life, and the two start up a friendship via email. Unique premise, right? That’s what I like most about Hornby’s writing. Reading about Annie pursuing this friendship, partly motivated because she knows how tortured Duncan would be knowing his idol was pen pals with his ex, is just so true to human nature.

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Overall I liked this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting (my friend Becky handed it over as a “light” read), but I did think the story was interesting. This book is set during the Civil Rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi, and tells the story of a young white female activist who convinces the black female maids and nannies in Jackson to share their stories with her, so she can publish a book and show the world the mistreatment and injustices that “The Help” face.  This storyline served as a prop for many smaller storylines, which was a nice setup, and you get to read the book from several different viewpoints, which worked really well. My one complaint is that the book is pretty long, and some parts really felt long. I think that anyone interested in American History during this time period would especially like this book. It shares stories that many of us might know to be true in the back of our heads, but that make you re-contemplate once you have the reminder.

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Eh. I really wanted to like this book. I like James Patterson. Come on, who doesn’t like Kiss the Girls?  This book tells the story of racism and lynching in the early 20th century, and really has nothing to do with Alex Cross aside from the fact that he introduces the story in the first two pages as a tale of family history. Which would have been fine, except the actual “Trial” is pretty predictable, as in a contrived KKK/white mob-style story. Not Patterson’s best!

I have a few girly ones in the pipeline! Coming up…

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What’s your favorite book? I love suggestions!

This question is literally impossible for me to answer. Some that stick out in my head are Homecoming, My Sister’s Keeper, The Giver, Jemima J, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Sentimental Education.

I’m often inspired by recipes I see in books, magazines, and blogs. I have a binder filled with these tear outs and printouts but I rarely ever make the recipes. I think because so many of them call for ingredients I never have on hand, or think they sound too tedious. However, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the recipe for Ginger Noodles with Tofu in the March issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. I love ginger!

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Of course, I didn’t really follow the recipe and mine looked nothing like Rachael’s, but it was pretty tasty! First, I grated a bunch of fresh ginger and sliced some crimini mushrooms.

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Sadly, I didn’t have any tofu, so I just sautéed the mushrooms, ginger, and lemon juice on a skillet with some Kikkoman Ponzu Lime sauce.

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I boiled some water for noodles and added even more ginger to the pot. I wasn’t kidding – I love ginger!

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I added a serving of whole wheat spaghetti (would have been so much better with linguini!) to the boiling water.  With 3 minutes to go, I added fresh broccoli and snap peas to the pasta pot.  When everything was cooked, I scooped it out and turned off the burner, then added a few handfuls of broccoli slaw to the hot water for about 30 seconds of wilting action.

Finally, I mixed everything together and topped with more lime Ponzu sauce. Here’s the finished product!

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Side by side with Rachael’s…they look nothing alike, but mine was tasty! I will definitely be cooking with fresh ginger more often and it was nice to FINALLY dig into my recipe binder!

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I wish I could say I’ve been eating a lot of these fresh and healthy meals, but I’ve been enjoying my fair share of pizza and chocolate this weekend. Well, actually the last two weeks. Maybe next week I can work on that clean slate?! I feel like I go through periods of eating super well, eating decently, and eating according to my cravings (100% carbs and ice cream). I’d like to think they balance out in the end…

Anyone else go through eating cycles??

Thanks everyone for the sweet birthday wishes!!! The treats kicked off Friday at work with a delicious ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. Those chocolate blobs of fudge were heavenly!

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My work peeps also wrote me cute messages. AND it was casual Friday. Ah, the little things :)

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In preparation for more ice cream cake, I grabbed some sushi to keep it light. FYI, there is something gross at Trader Joe’s. This sushi! The sake I had with it was pretty tasty though.

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Katie Jo and Winston swung by for cake and singing with pink champagne and birthday presents! More on those later. I only have an empty bottle shot, but trust me, it was delicious.

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We also whipped out ice cream cake part 2, this time from Carvel.   

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Ice cream cake is tradition in my family. I’ve had it every year, even when I was living in France, where ice cream cake is basically impossible to find. My friend Becca tracked down a “log” of cake and ice cream in a Paris supermarché just for me – my friends know me so well! Since Rachel now lives in LA, of course the family tradition was honored without question :)

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Wish time!

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The four of us hung out, drank, gossiped, and mocked boys on Match. It was a perfect girly night!  The next day I threw together an amazing yogurt mess…I’ve become re-addicted to this stuff.

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After breakfast, I wheeled out the birthday present from mom…A BEACH CRUISER!!!! I am so beyond excited for a summer riding this thing! I spent an hour the other weekend testing a few different bikes and then got to pick out my colors. Yes, I got white with pink rims. So cute. So me. 

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Katie Jo, Winston and Julia got me amazing accessories for my new baby, including a white basket with a pink floral bag, pink streamers, pink dice, spoke beads, and the coolest bike bell of all time. I’ll have take another photo when it’s all PIMPED OUT!

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I went for a ride down by the ocean, through Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice. I think I did about 13 miles in total? The weather was so gorgeous. I can’t wait to bike everywhere once the temperature warms up a bit! My bum and legs were so sore the rest of the weekend though. In keeping with the workout theme, Rachel got me some awesome gear from Nike, including these cute pink honeycomb runner shorts. How fabulous, right??

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After biking, I headed to Urban with a birthday gift card from my dad and discovered the bottom floor is not men’s clothes as I previously thought, but half SALE clothes. I can’t believe I’ve been in the dark for so long.  I snagged a black high-waist pencil skirt and cute brown ruffle belt.  Yea!

I should have taken a nap probably after the shopping but instead I just geared up for more celebrating! Steph came over with some outfits for me to wear, as well as a book that will surely increase my dress size…

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Drool!

Then Julia, Rachel, Steph and I hopped down the block for a late dinner at Fritto Misto. We took advantage of the restaurant’s BYO wine and brought some bottles of red to go with all our carbs. 

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I found a new crown for the night! No tiara…I’ll have to save that for next year. Check out Mr. Thumbs-up in the back :)

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After dinner we hit The Room for dancing. The bar was literally in a Volvo dealership parking lot but the DJ was good! The bike ride knocked me out sadly because I was lagging a bit. But I still had enough energy for several photo shoots, obviously!

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AH, I just love birthdays!! I am now officially 26. Can I still say mid-20s? I was chastised at work for my age lamenting, since I am essentially the youngest person on the team. Oops. I still feel young. And I still get carded 100% of the time. So let’s go with mid-20s for a wee bit longer :)

For my first flashback Friday, I figured what better subject than MY BIRTHDAY! Today I turn the big 26. No longer mid-20s I suppose…insert freak out here!

Anyway, I know a lot of people who aren’t all that into their birthdays. Not me. I love birthdays! I walk around on Cloud 9, open presents with the zeal of a kindergartener, treat myself to little luxuries all day long, and go out at night wearing my tiara. No joke, you will see!

I wish I could jet home and scan some pictures from the pre-digital camera age because I had some of the best parties. Popular spots included the ice skating rink and Seashore Day Camp, where you could play games and go swimming. The parties my mom threw were the best though. I’m not kidding when I say my mom is literally a party-planning genius.

One year, I had an under-the-sea themed party. We made a mermaid and propped her up on a beach chair in the snow in the front yard. We had a treasure hunt throughout the house, and made chocolate lollipops using candy molds in the shape of fish. My mom even covered all the windows in the house with blue Saran wrap so you felt like you were in an aquarium. And don’t get me started on the loot bags…

So sadly I don’t have any of these awesome photos here in LA but I do have a few from my last 5 birthdays!

2009 – I celebrated #25 in Vegas! My sweet peaches flew me down to the City of Sin and we spent the night…oops, I can’t tell you. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, remember??

I’m serious guys. I have to at least pretend I’m respectable, mmmkay?

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We did kick off the night right with a major primping party in our hotel suite. The girls decked it out in streamers and balloons and candy before I arrived, and then presented me with this appropriate disco themed bottle. Best night ever. Best friends ever!

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2008 – I rang in #24 with a huge group of friends at Happy Ending. Think dance, drinks, and about 400 photos.

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You know your birthday was a good one when you find yourself hanging out with Corey Matthews.

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2007 – #23 was a sweet one.  It was my first birthday in LA and in an effort to include all my new friends, I invited basically everyone and their mother to Saddle Ranch for brunch.  We ordered the dessert platter in lieu of cake and were served an overflowing volcano of cotton candy. Insane!

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I also rode the bull for the first time at my party. Yes, it’s daylight and no, I didn’t have a Sex in the City moment and rip off my dress, although I did have to hold onto my top!

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2006 – #22 marked my final year in college! A group of my girlfriends and I went to get fabulous Mexican food at Lauriol Plaza in Dupont Circle. Then we hit up the bars in Adams Morgan. Here’s me and my old roomie Lauren, still looking somewhat put together!

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We also apparently met some interesting characters that night…

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2005 – I celebrated #21 in France! On one hand, turning 21 abroad was no great shakes. Bartenders don’t check your ID, and finally being able to drink isn’t all that exciting since you can already drink in Europe anyway. 

That said, everyone made sure I had the best birthday possible! My host parents threw me a mini dinner party complete with champagne, chocolate cake, and presents.  Then my France friends threw me a surprise party! How cool is it that I can say I had my first surprise party ever in a tiny apartment in Bastille while living in Paris??

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Unfortunately that’s where the flashback ends, but I promise I’ll have some fun new birthday shots to share after this weekend so stay tuned! I still have to find a cute crown for this year. I look to Glinda as the ultimate aspiration :)

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND! I will eat an extra slice of ice cream cake for each of you!

Some days, my job can be frustrating. Stressful. Exhausting. Other days, I have to stop and pause and pinch myself, because my job can also be fabulous! One of my clients recently launched a new collection with a tie-in to Hong Kong. To celebrate, we threw a big press event at the Peninsula Beverly Hills, where we arranged for English-style afternoon tea. The tea is modeled after the same service at the Peninsula Hong Kong, which holds an infamous high tea ceremony daily as a throwback to Hong Kong’s colonial period.

Two work peeps and I were kickin’ it in The Verandah Room before everyone arrived.

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By kickin’ it, I mean that I went around and snapped photos and set up place settings while everyone else put together centerpieces. The walls were covered in really pretty paneled paintings to set the tone. Oh, and of course we had a pianist for added effect. Duh. Who throws a party without a pianist, right? Cough, cough :)

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The tea settings were really simple and sweet. The whole thing was like a grown-up version of the little porcelain tea set I had as a kid. You know, the ones that were covered in baby pink roses?

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Remember how I always say that my boss loves to eat? Well even though we ordered all the tea trays for everyone, he insisted on also serving salads. California-style first, Hong Kong tea-style second! Check out that gorgeous piece of grilled salmon. I skipped the dressing as usual because why would I want to mess up these yummy flavors??

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After our salads, we were served hot fruit tea and fresh strawberries & cream. I only ate part of this, because I knew what was coming…

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…tiered tea trays! For some reason, my table was lacking in the seated guests department, so I had this whole thing to split with one other person. We didn’t finish it but we did make a nice dent!

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The bottom plate held the baby sandwiches, which looked too cute to eat. There were four different kinds, including egg salad with watercress on marble bread, charred vegetable on wheat bread with pesto spread, smoked salmon with cucumber and preserved lemon, and chicken salad with Marcona almonds and tarragon.

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I had the world’s tiniest nibble of the charred veggie one, but only because I was way too anxious to get to the desserts! Step aside for sweets, seriously.

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I taste tested the tiramisu-looking one and two of those baby cream puffs topped with white chocolate. They were 8 billion times better than they look, if you can believe that.

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The very top tier held my favorites of the afternoon – traditional plain and currant scones served with Devonshire Cream and lemon curd. I had half of each literally slathered with the lemon curd (which is awesome by the way!) and they were absolutely delicious. I never would have pegged myself as a scone lover but just might have to rethink that.

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Of course, I was working at this event but part of my job is to sit at the table, eat, and chatter away with everyone, so I couldn’t complain! This fun afternoon was definitely a pinch myself moment :)

So, I’m dying to know, what cool things do you get to do for your job?

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! My weekend of all things sweet actually kicked off on Friday with the arrival of a big box of Russell Stover chocolates from my mom.  Growing up, my sisters and I were always presented with these hearts on V-day.  You’d think that by age 25 the tradition might have died down but I actually received the biggest box yet. According to my mom, I’ve graduated to the “big girl” size :)

In addition to all these chocolates, I’ve been indulging all weekend and enjoying lots of splurge-worthy food…even in spite of the awful cold (congestion, not the weather!) that’s kept me somewhat chained to the couch. Friday night, my sister and I grabbed takeout from Pitfire Pizza and enjoyed the restaurant’s killer crust with Thursday night TV. 

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Read it and weep!

The Burrata Pie: Burrata cheese, Tomato sauce, Wild arugula, Caramelized onion, Hazelnut, Pesto Drizzle

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Saturday morning, I woke up to find my secret bloggie Valentine package sitting on my doorstep! Check out this beyond cute card…

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…from Heidi at Fighting with Food!  Heidi is a new-to-me blogger but from her amazing card and package, I can tell that she is absolutely fabulous.

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First up, Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn in Chocolate Drizzle, which is actually a local goodie from her home in Virginia Beach!

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Plus Caramel & Peanut flavored!

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And last but certainly not least – I know you see it hiding there in the middle – Mix My Granola! I’ve seen this ALL over but never ordered it myself.  Heidi hooked me up with low-fat granola, dried raspberries, dried blueberries and organic pomegranate. Doesn’t that sound dreamy??

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Thank you SO much Heidi for such a wonderful Valentine’s Day present! And major thanks to the newly blinged-out Janetha for setting up such a fun exchange!!

After some more chocolate and couch time, Rachel, Lindsay and I went to see Valentine’s Day on Saturday night. 

Loved it.

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What a good movie. My cheesy, girly side was 100% satisfied! McDreamy, McSteamy AND Bradley Cooper in one film?!  I heard an interview on the radio Friday morning with director Garry Marshall saying that the film was his love letter to Los Angeles. After living here for 3+ years, I know just what he meant. Marshall included cool but lesser known spots, like the Venice Canals and Hollywood Forever Cemetery – where you actually can go see classic movies screened at night (and where picnics and wine are encouraged)! I think he did a great job of highlighting how L.A. is so much more than the Hollywood-scene. And the storylines were great. Rachel and I cried at the exact same point, and when it was over, we turned to each other and said, “Buying this the day it comes out.” Great minds think alike people :)

Today, I went and picked out my early birthday present from my mom! I have to wait until Wednesday to get it from the store, so you’ll just have to wait along with me to see it. The blue skies, bright sun, and 75 degree temps have put me in such a good mood. Excuse me while I get on my sappy soapbox but I am so grateful for the love of my family, and my friends, and all you out there. Whether you spent today with your dream guy, or your sister, or your best friend, or yourself, I hope you just enjoyed all the LOVE!

Does anyone else play the mental bargaining game? I’m definitely coming down with a cold or something, and today was a long (but cool!) day at work. I really wasn’t feeling the gym, but then I played my bargaining chip.

If I eat my pre-workout snack, I have to go to the gym. If I don’t, I can go home.

Of course, as soon as I decided this, all I could think was MUST. EAT. COCOA. ROAST. ALMONDS. I brought a 100-calorie pack to work today and it was calling my name. Logically, I wasn’t hungry since I ate a banana only an hour before, but I couldn’t help it.

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For whatever reason, whenever I play this game, I feel beholden to my “promise.” I know, a promise to myself. It sounds ridiculous! Anyway, having my pre-workout snack pushed me to hit up the gym. I hopped on the detested beloved Stair Master. I’m not sure how I feel about this machine but I think I love it. Yes, it kicks my butt, but I sweat like crazy and the calories practically burn themselves.  According to the machine, there’s an 850 calorie burn for 1 hour at level 10. Insane! Of course, I only do 20 minutes at a time. The day I do an hour…

Nope, no mental bargaining chip for this one. It ain’t happening :)

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