March 2011


Last night, I celebrated a 25th birthday. No, not mine…Lady Gaga’s!

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Los Angeles is the land of perks. You’d be amazed by all the free stuff floating around here — from clothes and beauty products to movie passes and yes, concert tickets. I’m not the most connected girl but every so often I get a hookup from the Swag Fairy. Thanks to an especially generous work-related connection, Rachel and I got beyond amazing seats at Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour show at the Staples Center. If we could have grinned any bigger, we would have!

*Side note, I just realized we were both wearing black lace. Too cute.

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Yup, we were that close!

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From a piano built into the hood of a car…

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…to incredible dancers…

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…at least six different costume changes…

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…and even a bit of fake blood, Gaga was great. Her voice is a total powerhouse.

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Not going to lie, the concert was even better than I expected. I’ve always thought Lady Gaga was a bit whacky but last night, she was also downright sweet! She told a story about one of her favorite birthday presents, a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Apparently, she had tried out for the role of Dorothy in high school, but the part went to one of her biggest bullies instead. These ruby slippers reminded her of Dorothy’s journey, and how each one of us have our own special path to take. I’m paraphrasing here, but her spiel went something like this…

Maybe you don’t feel like Dorothy; maybe you feel like the Scarecrow or Tin Man or Wicked Witch. But you have a chance to change that, and maybe someday, somebody will give you your own pair of ruby slippers.

Even though she is a ragingly huge pop superstar, her stories and comments — mostly tied into her new single “Born This Way” — about being yourself made her seem a bit like a pint-sized best friend. She ended the show with the first live performance of this song since the Grammys.

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Then we danced.

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And danced some more! The huge blister that I now have on my baby toe was totally worth it.

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Last night’s sample sale hosted by Tiny Bandit was just as good as I thought it would be. First off, I’m obsessed with the exposed brick and brocade wallpaper upstairs at Malo. This look runs a close second to my beach-y dream decor.

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There were racks of cute, cheap clothes everywhere. You had to be prepared to change behind a curtain with 5 other girls, but on the plus side, there were always several people to give unbiased opinions.

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My sweet, gorgeous friend Marissa is a designer for one of the brands featured last night: Trash & Luxury. As always, her clothes were my hands-down favorites and went flying off the racks.

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Katie Jo and Mandy were there too to lend their support. Well, and to score some cute clothes of course!

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After a little shopping, we hopped over to the bar for big pours of red wine. Amazingly enough, we kept browsing and trying on clothes without spilling a drop!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t love any of the dresses I found. I was specifically looking for maxi dresses, super bright colors, or florals, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from sample sales, buying something just because it’s an amazing deal leaves an outfit destined to gather dust in your closet.

It took ages to actually get my food but I couldn’t leave Malo without having a pair of the potato cheddar tacos. They basically taste like mashed potatoes in a crispy fried shell. Yup, genius.

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Our whole group of girlfriends love wearing what we’ve dubbed “Marissa tees,” but I was even happier to score a long-sleeved burnout top and a lightweight sweater. It’s cold by the beach! Trash & Luxury, as seen on celebs like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Halle Berry…and me.  

Thanks Marissa for making us look stylish with little to no effort on our part :)

The Fashionista, hard at work!

Asian-style noodle bowls and stir fry have never been in my usual repertoire. But since they are the boy’s favorite easy go-to meal, I find myself making and craving them more often! Last night, I left a long day of work and drove home in lots of rain and traffic. I self-soothed with the heater turned up high and Bon Iver on the stereo. When I got to Malibu, I put on my comfy pants (does everyone else do this right when they walk in the door?) and started cooking.

With a big wok, this meal is quick and easy. The boy’s noodle bowl featured chicken, onions, broccoli, Schezwan sauce, peanut satay sauce, bok choy, Hong Kong-style egg noodles, and red pepper flakes.

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I made mine the same, minus the peanut satay. I was craving soup to combat the cold, icky weather, so I used the leftover water from cooking the noodles to brew a bowl of green tea with honey, lemon and ginseng.

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Shake in a bunch of soy sauce to amp up the salty taste, and you have a perfectly hot bowl of noodle soup!

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Of course, no meal is complete without a little dessert. My latest obsession is hot chocolate with marshmallows. The trick is to dunk and savor each marshmallow separately; of course, by “trick” I mean my odd way of enjoying each mug.

The rain has stopped – for now – and they’ve turned on the heat in my office building so I’m looking forward to a lovely day sans blue fingernails. Tonight I’m attending a sample sale at Malo that’s also billing cheap margaritas and $3 tacos. The potato/chipotle/cheddar ones are worth daydreaming about!

Also, thanks to everyone who posted a sweet note about Rachel’s marathon last weekend! Y’all are the cutest.

This past weekend, my sister Rachel ran the LA Marathon — her very first one. My mom flew into town Friday night to join the cheering squad. Saturday, we drove out to Dodger Stadium to pick up Rachel’s race packet and check out the Expo. The actual stadium was eerily deserted.

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Rachel got her number (4751!), while mom and I fought tooth and nail to make sure Rach got her small shirt.

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Of course, the foodie in me went bananas over free buckets of mini Larabars and POM juices. I so badly wanted to dump this bowl into my purse and make a break for it!

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We wandered for a bit, stopping to play a game of corn hole and snap some photos. The Expo seemed pretty small…we kept walking in circles, thinking we’d stumble on a new area. Still, it was nice for Rachel to see where the race would actually be starting, and to get pumped up by the music and crowds.

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Rachel, at Mile 1!

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Mom, faking a sweat at Mile 10.

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The morning of the race, we all got up at 4am to get Rachel ready and off to the shuttle. Mom and I headed down to the finish line hours before Rach was due to make sure we got a good spot. Let me tell you, it was heinous outside. The weather forecast predicted some light rain, but it was a steady, windy downpour all day. It NEVER rains like that in LA! Mom and I were soaked to the bone. After getting the text that she had just completed 30k, we speed walked home, ate some bananas and trail mix, stripped down and put on ALL new clothes, including shoes. Then we turned around and headed right back out to the finish line.

After Sunday, I just might have to invest in a pair of rain boots.

In between all our moaning, we kept saying, “BUT. Can you believe Rachel is running a MARATHON in this weather?!” We nearly missed her racing by, but luckily I was able to capture the moment.

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She was AWESOME!  From start…

…to finish!

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Rachel crossed the finish line and started weeping tears of joy. In spite of winds that literally bent our umbrella handles and rain that had thousands of runners checked for hypothermia along the course, she finished! I’m so proud, I could burst!

On Sunday, Rachel and I finally went to the Rose Bowl flea market. We’ve been talking about it for months, honestly, but over the last few weeks I’ve been on a major home improvement kick, and I was just itching to see what the Rose Bowl had to offer. The gates officially open at 9AM, although you can go as early as 5AM for an extra $12 with a VIP ticket. Rachel and I opted for eight bucks and 9:30AM, which was early enough to beat some of the crowds but not too early that we were dead on our feet!

Oh, where do I begin! I loved everything about this flea market. From dressers and nightstands to kitchen tables and frames to teacups and jewelry, there were hidden gems everywhere. I snapped up the most amazing mirror made of reclaimed wood — in these same colors except a little longer and thinner.

I was also on the hunt for an old mirrored vanity tray. I was hoping there would be one I’d like and to my surprise, there were dozens. I left with a lovely vintage one for only $10, as well as a small white and gold bowl to house necklaces and rings for $3. We spent literally hours wandering, uncovering one great find after another.

Gorgeous garden table set

Trinkets galore

Beach sign

Sparkly purse

Vintage posters

We broke around noon for lunch. There were the standard options like pizza, burgers, burritos and beer, along with a few oddball choices: sushi, Indian. When in doubt, head for the place with the longest line, right? That brought us to beer brats with onions and garlic fries!

Amazing that our lunch was more expensive than most of the little knick-knacks we bought! I think it took me so long to check out this flea market because I thought prices would be much higher…and, I am terrible at haggling. I was so pleasantly surprised to find such great deals! I never want to buy mass produced furniture again.

After all, one man’s trash just might be another man’s treasure…

I think the Rose Bowl has found itself a repeat customer!

Yup, I went there.

Scones have never been on my radar, until the last two months or so, and suddenly, they’re everywhere! After eating Huckleberry’s maple-bacon version, I decided to recreate them for myself. Finding a recipe was easy enough. Most of the ingredients are baking staples, and the ones I didn’t have on-hand were standard fare: bacon, milk.

I woke up this morning before 7AM (why, I don’t know!) and decided to get to work in the kitchen. First step was writing out the recipe. I stuck it to the fridge and didn’t have to run back and forth, scrolling up and down the computer, like I usually do. What a difference!

Now, according to the recipe, this is one of those things you can “whip up” if you aren’t a morning person who wants to spend tons of time making eggs, bacon, and pancakes for an indulgent weekend breakfast. Seriously? Anything that needs 30 minutes to chill and 20 minutes to bake isn’t exactly “fast” in my book.

Also, you have to cook bacon anyway!

I had my second genius moment of the morning when I set up the latest episode of the Bachelor to play in the kitchen.

Why so sad Ashley? Maybe these gorgeous scones will cheer you up.

Honestly, they were awesome. I ate at least 4…and drizzled the last two in maple syrup. The recipe was time intensive, but not hard. My favorite part was hand-mixing the cold butter into the flour. I’ve never had to do that before, and the scones ended up tasting so rich!

Don’t you just love when a recipe turns out so well the first time around?! Next time though, I’m going the chocolate chip/dried cherries route. Forget four, I’m betting I could eat those all day long.

Tonight I’m returning to the scene of the crime (I mean this quite literally, since someone ran into my car as I was turning into the parking lot) of my very first “blind” date with a lovely man. I can’t wait to get out of work and sit down at Pace for the second time and enjoy some really good pizza and wine with this cute mug!

Happy 1 Year!

Somehow, I’ve turned into a weekend blogger! Not purposely, but because I am just so darn busy during the week. Luckily, I’ve been able to make up for my schedule with weekend after weekend of the most enjoyable, fun and somewhat relaxing two days. Breakfasts during the week are standard oats, but on the weekend, I have time to make anything I want. For me, that almost always means a yogurt mess.

For the boy, Nutella-stuffed french toast. He ate it too quickly for me to taste, but I’m going to take that as a good sign.

We even had lattes. There’s something about fancy coffee and reading a book early in the morning that makes me feel so light and happy. Right now I’m reading Hollywood Savage and it’s pretty good…a little depressing but fascinating at the same time.

Today was the perfect mix of productivity and aimlessness. The boy and I spent most the morning cleaning out closets, throwing out tons of trash and filling five bags for Goodwill. Then we hopped in the car for a drive through the hills. Seriously, it’s like a whole different world — very quiet and isolated.

I had bought the boy a Groupon as part of his Christmas present for Malibu Wines, a local tasting room. I had it in my head that it expired this Sunday, but when I went to get the details this morning, the deal was already in my “expired” folder so I just figured I’d got the date wrong. The boy suggested we go there anyway, even if we couldn’t use the Groupon, and thank goodness we did, because it was still valid!

We got a tasting before finding out that we could use the Groupon, so we each got another after that. My favorites were the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon that we ended up taking home (thanks to my trusty coupon), and the port — which had a great burnt carmel taste.

We got there about an hour before last call, just as people were starting to pack up and head out as the fog and mist rolled in. Luckily, there were heat lamps and fire pits!

My cute partner-in-crime!

In between huddling close to the heat and refilling our pours, we wandered around the small but well-planned grounds. I especially loved the different chairs and stools that studded the yard. It was busy today despite the chill so I can only imagine how packed it must be when it’s sunny and warm. Still, there was a very festive feel, and everyone was really laid back and happy, which is a good sign that it would still be a lot of fun even with bigger crowds.

After we left, we decided to stop for dinner at the end of Kanan Dune. I had all the ingredients for a casserole but of course that option paled in comparison with the Sage Room. The chef/owner brought us some wines based on our described tastes, and they were actually better than anything we tried at Malibu Wines (even though the place itself was really cool, don’t get me wrong!).

We started with bruschetta, which was different than usual with a very crispy bottom.

We also split two dishes for the main course: the homemade pappardelle with lean beef bolognese…

…and the pumpkin ravioli with vanilla cream sauce. The photo might not do it much justice, but this pasta is hands-down amazing. We always order a large dish to split and it’s never enough. After this meal, we decided no more fooling around! Anything else we get ends up being eaten just so we can get it out of the way and savor the sweet/savory raviolis.

Of course, we aren’t above ordering extra bread to sop up that amazing vanilla cream sauce. Truth be told, I might have even used my finger this time. At least I didn’t lick the plate clean, right?

This weekend, I spent one night in Vegas. Julia and I drove there to see Becky, who was in town from NYC. Also, there’s something about the phrase “girls’ weekend in Vegas” that ropes us in every time. We hurried through the doors of the Venetian around 11:30 PM and dragged ourselves through them again at 10 AM the next day to make the trip back to LA. Yes, we did spend more hours in the car driving to Vegas than we actually spent in Vegas.

I realized two things this weekend. 1) I’m not 21 anymore and 2) I have a really great best friend.

Between Valentine’s Day and my birthday and Vegas, I have been eating out and drinking booze way more than normal. On our drive home, we got really hungry but decided to skip fast food and grab “better” burgers at Real Food Daily to eat at my apartment. I think this veggie burger is one of my favorites. Whatever you do, don’t skip the rustic roll. Hamburger buns pale in comparison!

The rest of the weekend was relatively clean…literally and figuratively. I scrubbed my shower for over an hour and learned at the very end that Lime A-Way is the trick. I broke for chicken-less chicken tenders, homemade sweet potato fries (not everyone can get such a lovely char!), and roasted crimini mushrooms.

Oh! Did you know Heinz now makes ketchup without HFCS that tastes exactly the same as the original?! Yum.

I also had a lovely light dinner. In my head, this dish looks like a casserole or vegetarian lasagna, but in the end, it always winds up being cute little separate stacks.

Simply layered marinara sauce, roasted yellow squash and Trader Joe’s breaded eggplant, topped with goat cheese.

I’m sure I’ll be back to a restaurant soon enough (today actually, for lunch with the boss), but it’s nice to finally have a stocked fridge and CHOICES for dinner. Imagine that!

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