Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Empanadas are the new cupcakes

If you haven't seen this already (it's been making the internet rounds for a week or so), be sure to check it out. You'll especially love it if you've ever laughed at a "hipster." Or have been to Silverlake, CA.

"In New York, people are very overbooked. You say, 'When do you want to have dinner?' It's May. They say, 'What about October?' And then they complain: 'Oh you can't believe how booked up I am.'" - Frannie Lebowitz

Monday, August 27, 2007

A random(house) question

Dear blog reader from Random House in NYC,

I'm very excited that you are a regular reader of my site, but I am quite curious to know who you are. Can you drop me a line and let me know? I don't know if you're someone I know personally, another blogger I know or just a happy reader. You can send the requested line to nannersp at gmail dot com. You can also send any book deals to aforementioned address.

Thanks!
Nanette

UPDATE: Mystery solved! And although I won't be getting a book deal out of it (one can hope, right?), I'm very happy to learn the identity of this mystery reader. Coincidentally, she revealed herself to me earlier yesterday (in the form of water - I KID!), sans her workplace connection.

"My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions." - Peter Drucker

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekend synopsis

Friday night we saw the much-anticipated Superbad. While it was pretty freakin' hilarious, I think the bar may have been set too high after all the glowing reviews I'd heard. Brent and I have a special place in our heart for Michael Cera after enjoying him in Arrested Development, and he was great and lovable in this film.

Dresses seem to be "in" this season so there are lots of cute options available. Friday after work I scoped out Macy's, where I discovered their juniors department, even though I've been to the store plenty of times. I stopped shopping in juniors departments a few years ago, although I do make the occasional trip into Forever 21 even if I'm Forever 30.

At Macy's I found two fabulous dresses on amazing discount, one of which was marked down even more when the cashier rung me up. (I love when that happens!) I am quite enamored with that particular dress. The sales girl even noted how cute it was. And when I let Brent weigh-in with his opinions after I brought them (and a few others from Ross) home, this one was his favorite. I wore it to a baby shower on Saturday, where it was met with rave reviews. And the male cashier at Coffee Bean complimented me on it later on.

Here it is, although now I fear I've hyped it too much:

dress

It's hard to tell, but it's brown (not black) and turquoise. I may have to have that last row/border removed because even in my tallest wedges the dress is almost dangerously long for my 5'4" frame.

Saturday I attended a baby shower thrown by a group of us for Wan. (That's one of the occasions for which I was baking.) WeeMo did a very thorough recap, complete with tons o' pics. Wan glowed, as always, and seemed to really enjoy herself. I pray that when the time comes, I'll be at least half as cute of a preggo as Wan is!

The rest of the weekend was laid back, filled with Scattergories, grilling and lounging. Now I'm ready to take on the week.

"You could be a part-time model, but you'd probably still have to keep your normal job. A part-time model, spending part of your time modeling and part of your time next to me." - Part-time Model, Flight of the Conchords

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Adventures in baking

Whenever I don't blog for too long, I start to get a nagging voice in the back of my mind, telling me to hurry up and put words to virtual paper.

Anyhow, I've been a busy bee. Remember I mentioned that our oven broke last weekend? Well, this week I had two occasions that I volunteered to bake for, so I had to take myself, some ingredients and baking supplies to my in-laws' to use their ovens. (Someday I will have two ovens, like they do, and it will be glorious. And at least one will be a convection oven, like theirs.)

I swung by the grocery store to pick up a few missing ingredients, only to realize at the checkout counter that I didn't have my wallet! *Gulp!* I wasn't worried about finding it, as I knew it was either on my desk or in my co-worker's car, but I had to haul myself back to my in-laws' to grab some funds then haul myself back to the store to pay for my stuff. The cashier was totally cool, but I was still mortified.

Then before I could start baking I had to do a quick quality-assurance thing of my work's site. (This is something that my team takes turns rotating once a week.) Usually it's a 10-minute thing, if everything is alright. But of course my good-luck karma had already shifted, and there was an issue with the site and it took three times as long as it normally would to get stuff straightened out.

With that finally taken care of, I started whipping up the two flavors of cupcakes and realized I had forgotten one ingredient. Great, juuuuuust great. The two batches I made were from recipes from Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor, and luckily the ingredient I forgot was a non-essential add-on. Onward and upward! Or so I thought...

I was excited to spread out my baking space in my in-laws' giant kitchen, but just as I started I noticed little ants crawling the counters of one side of the kitchen. So then I had to confine my baking work area to the tiny counters near the oven, all the while on the lookout for more ants.

By the time I was done, I was pooped! But they turned out great.

The first was Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes (before I sprinkled them with powdered sugar).

Cherry cheesecake cupcake, close-up

The second was a Lemon Chiffon Cupcake with Frosty Lemon Glaze. (I need to work on my glazing technique.)

Lemon chiffon cupcakes, extreme close-up of glaze!

Quick netiquette question: I've already received a request to post the recipes to these, but is it in poor form (and/or illegal) if I post recipes from a cookbook?

All in all, I think they turned out great. One of my bosses even said to me after tasting one, "No offense, but why the hell are you working here instead of making these all the time?" In a perfect world I might be a full-time baker. In reality, I bet all the fun would be taken out of it for me.

I always bake with love. These cupcakes were baked with love and a little side of frustration. but all the cupcake recipients seemed to have enjoyed them. Like the Hokey Pokey, that's what it's all about.

"I guess, all things considered, I was lucky Dwight was there. And Roy was lucky that Dwight only used pepper spray. And not the nun chucks or the throwing stars." - Jim, The Office

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

*Tear*

I can count on less than one hand the number of times a blog post has made me cry, but it happened again just now.

Please consider giving Kay some virtual love, even if you haven't read her site before.

"Mourning is not forgetting... It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the dust. The end is gain, of course. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be made strong, in fact. But the process is like all other human births, painful and long and dangerous." - Margery Allingham

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm the pretty prince of parties

As you may have guessed from my previous post, I had quite a weekend. Not only did I blog while drunk, but I also drunk emailed, IMed and even messaged people via MySpace. (I challenged some one's bulletin about the best band ever). Man, red wine makes me a little lot wacky.

Before the drunken keyboard blitz, I hosted karaoke night at my place for some of my female co-workers. We had sandwiches and other treats, followed by lots of singing. Of course it had to be the HOTTEST weekend in Santa Monica, and of course I have put off getting the ceiling fan installed in our living room. My guests were good sports and rolled with the hot summer evening punches.

Anna & Linda

I worried that we were too loud, but Saturday morning my next door neighbor complimented us on our singing. "I especially loved California Dreamin'!," she said.

I was a teeny bit hungover Saturday morning, but more dehydrated and tired than anything else. I met up with a childhood friend whom I had lost touch with during college. Turns out that she's not far from me, so she came over and we spent the day and evening together catching up. And now I have yet ANOTHER Jennifer to add to the mix.

This morning I whipped together some Double Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake muffins for a brunch with friends. (The recipe was from the Cupcakes From the Cake Mix Doctor book that Jenn gave me.) When I went to put them in the oven, it was at half the temperature that it should have been by then. I heard a strange popping and tapping when I turned it on, and it continued to get cooler instead of warmer, so I'm pretty sure it's broken. Two of the four burners were out anyway, so it looks like we're officially in the market for a shiny new oven.

Luckily the brunch was a potluck at my friend's fabulous place (I have serious condo envy every time I'm there), so I brought the muffin batter to her house and baked them there. I had such a great time catching up with this group of gals. It seems like it's always too long in between our visits. These girls were some of the first friends I made in LA as we all started at the same big PR agency around the same time and the same levels. I'm beyond ecstatic that we've managed to keep in touch over the years. I'm blessed to have such a great circle of friends.

The ladies

Tonight I hung out with some of them when we checked out my friend, Tony's, comedy act where we were also treated to some really great music. Nothing like some surprise 20-something, singer/songwriter guitar-playing boys - especially such entertaining folks as Quinn's Uncles and Dave Ellis. Dave was especially great, so be sure to check out his stuff.

"I'm the pretty prince of parties. You're a tasty piece of pastry. You're so light and light and flaky. I go where the party takes me." - Flight of the Conchords

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Red, red wiiiiiine

Jen at QuarterLife Crisis drunk blogged once. (Too gone to link toher site.)

Fun idea.

I'm doign the same.

Just hosted karaoke night with some coworkers atmy place.

I drank a lot of wine.

A LOT.

Red.

Yum.

Feeling goooooood.

Brent is out oftown. I miss him already.

gOOD NIGHT.

"iNSERT witty quote here from imdb or quoteland.com or Office Tally, all about being buzzzzzzed."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Conversations with my hubby

My husband is funny and witty and keeps me in stitches. I could fill a blog with all his hilarious quips.

Wednesday
N: Can you make sure that TiVo is set to record So You Think You Can Dance tonight?
B: What? You don't want me to record So You Think You Can Dance? You're going to stop watching it? You want me to cancel all the other crap you watch? (feigning static) I can't hear you, Nanette. What? John Mayer sucks? Huh? (feigning more static)
N: Nice, hon.

************
On a recent morning.
N: What time did you come to bed last night?
B: I don't remember.
N: Did you fall asleep on the couch again?
B: (with some guilt in his voice) Yes.
N: (laughing) Why do you do that?
B: I don't know. It's kind of like drugs.* I know at the time that I shouldn't be doing it, but it feels so good.

*For the record, hubby and I do not do drugs. Just say no... before hos. Oh, wait...

"Go ahead and sleep on the power couch. Your training begins tomorrow, at the crack of noon." - KG, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The wheels on the bike go round and round

Tonight I decided to skip my usual gym routine and get my exercise with my fun beach cruiser along the beach bike path. Although we live just a few blocks from the Pacific, we don't spend as nearly as much time there as we should. I rode from Santa Monica to Marina Del Rey and back - probably 7 miles round trip. There's a giant hill where I usually have to stop and walk my bike, but today I pulled out my spin class training and rode nonstop. And when I got home, I was dripping with sweat. It was great! I'm soooo doing more of that!

Brent got home from work and we had dinner at Cha Cha Chicken. We'd been once before long ago, liked it and kind of forgot about it, but Brent saw this review yesterday and thought we should try it again. So. Cal readers, you MUST go there! Amazing food, especially the plantains. Dare I say, better than Versailles' plantains? (May the Food Gods not strike me down as I type this.) It's all patio dining, so it's a great way to enjoy the beautiful So. Cal weather.

"His bike got stolen. I told him not to let anybody ride it. So I smacked him into next week, he'll be back on Tuesday." - Rochelle, Everybody Hates Chris

Monday, August 13, 2007

Viewer's choice

So You Think You Can Dance - I don't have an overwhelming favorite, but part of me hopes Neal wins, part of me is rooting for Sabra, another for Lacey. So... basically not Danny. And if I were a betting man, I'd guess Lacey simply because she has a built-in following with Benji's fans.

Hell's Kitchen - Don't know why I watched this season, seeing as how I didn't get into other seasons, but I do love Chef Ramsey. I'm apathetic about the two finalists and the winner who was chosen tonight.

The Hills - Oh. My. God. The best part about this show is Brent's reaction. It's one of the few shows I watch that he also enjoys. He loves to hate Spencer. He said tonight that he has the urge to set him on fire. And Audrina's boyfriend? Well, that's just the hate icing on the loathing cake. When he first came onto the screen, Brent literally paused it, watched it in slow mo and screamed, "WHAT IS WITH THIS GUY?" Seriously, anyone who wants to come over on Monday nights to watch The Hills with my husband and I is more than welcome to. You'll never be the same.

Girls Next Door - While the premise is so strange (who the hell has three girlfriends???), I can't get enough of this show. Those girls live such an unbelievable life. I wouldn't trade places with them (I like my men under the age of 80, thankyouverymuch), but I'm mesmerized. Apparently E! picked up the show originally to keep the male demographic when they stopped airing the Howard Stern show, but according to the NY York post, the show has become the most watched on the channel, with its audience growing from about 800,000 to more than 1.4 million viewers. More than 70 percent of the total audience for the show are women!

"The human mind is like a TV set. When it goes blank, it's a good idea to turn off the sound." - Anonymous

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekend review

Friday
Had sandwiches from Bay Cities with Josh, Jami and their adorable kids. Went home and just chilled on the couch, unwinding from the week.

Found out from Amber that the latest issue of Glamour is out, which includes a teeny tiny picture and a quote from me about what my office space says about me. My issue hasn't arrived yet, but I did see it while I was out shopping. I don't remember what page it's on, but take a look if you have it.

Saturday
Had breakfast with Dennis Quaid. Ok, not really. He and his wife were eating a few tables down from us at Coral Tree Cafe. We've seen them in our neck of the woods previously.

That night we attended Lilcee's Super Sweet 30th birthday bash, although we almost didn't make it as my tummy started to feel wonky right before we left. Took a bunch of Tums and Pepto and felt good enough to venture out.

Check out this pic of the party that I swiped from WeeMo. (She has a full recap with lots more pics, too.) Part of the festivities included a photographer to take serious and silly poses (guess which one this is) in front of a decorated backdrop, and a professional balloonist who made crazy things like the monkey WeeMo is wearing, the pirate's hat Bree is wearing, the lady bug Trish is wearing, a flower corsage for me (not pictured) and other really impressive creations. Thanks for the awesome time, Lilcee!

Sunday
Even though I didn't hit the sack until late Saturday, I found myself wide awake at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. I put on my workout gear and dragged myself to spinning class. My heart rate monitor told me I kicked ass, burning a good 700+ calories. Suh-weet!

Later, Brent and I spent the afternoon lounging in my in-laws' pool.

Best of all, we finally nailed some stuff down for our trip to Italy next month, including flights. I know, I know. Such slackers. We're just overwhelmed by our options, but we've got it now. We're going to spend 11 days in Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre and Venice. Thanks to all of you who had suggestions and sent me tons of great info! So. Freakin. Excited!!!

"I am learning, as I make my way through my first continent, that it is remarkably easy to do things, and much more frightening to contemplate them." - Ted Simon

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Shake it up

Because I've been having issues sleeping again, I was wide awake when last night's earthquake hit. I immediately latched onto Brent, screaming his name, while he reassured me that he was awake and feeling it, too.

I don't know if it's because it was the strongest quake I'd felt in a while (there was one years ago that happened while I was in the shower and had me slip sliding around, praying that I wouldn't have to run out of my apartment naked) or because I've been somewhat emotional lately, but last night's quake freaked me out. I kept waiting for larger aftershocks. And I tried to hide from Brent that I was tearing up from the fear. I had to convince myself that it'd be OK to get up to go to the bathroom and that I probably wouldn't have to be rescued from a pile of bathroom tile rubble.

Anyhow, I'm getting my haircut tomorrow and hopefully there will be no quakes as I sit in the stylist's chair. I have no idea what I want to do. Part of me wants to grow it out, especially when I see pics like this and this. But part of me wants something a little shorter and funkier, yet not so short that I can't pull it in a ponytail for the gym or with layers that will slip out of a ponytail. I may just ask my hair dresser, "What would you do, oh-wish-sheared-one?" and go with it.

"You are ten times more likely to die from alcohol than from being in an earthquake. And it is three times more likely that you will be killed while driving to buy a lottery ticket than it is that you will win the lottery." - Charlie, Numb3rs

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bridging the gap

My mother has an older sister, whom she is not close with at all. She lives in Florida, and my mom doesn't recall the last time they spoke. It's not from a falling out, that I know of. They just aren't close. It may be the same sort of relationship I have with my brother because he and I are so, so, so different. My aunt apparently smokes A LOT and drinks A LOT and has been that way her entire life. My mom? I don't think she's ever smoked a cigarette and she's never been a drinker.

I've met my aunt's daughter (my cousin) maybe once, back when I was like 8. My cousin found me via MySpace a couple of years ago. We chatted on the phone once and have exchanged comments and a few messages.

Well, earlier this week she sent me a MySpace message that my aunt has lung cancer and is undergoing surgery next week to remove 20% of her lungs. And that I should let my mom know. After everything my mom went through dealing with my dad's cancer, my immediate reaction was, "I do NOT want to be the one to tell her!" Part of me hoped that I could just convince my mom that she needed to call my aunt, something I had suggested recently anyway, and my aunt would break the news. But after much internal (and some external) debate, I decided to be the one to my mom after all.

My mom is an amazing woman. She is a pillar of strength. She has been through so much already. My mom faces life's challenges head on yet manages to keep such a sunny outlook on life. I can only strive to be as strong and optimistic as her.

I mustered up all my strength and called her. She took the news well, especially since I was able to reassure her that the doctors said my aunt's the outlook is good and she'll be OK (according to my cousin). My mom is going to call her and let me know how it goes.

I hope it all ends up well, as doctors think. My family has already dealt with more than its fair share of losses.

"A healthy body is a guest chamber for the soul: a sick body is a prison." - Francis Bacon

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Maroon 5 wake up call

This is Maroon 5's second single, "Wake Up Call." It's one of my fav songs on the album - it's very catchy and gets me fired up at the gym. Laugh if you will, you brats! Hee, hee.

The video has a definite cheese factor, but it also includes Jeremy Sisto and like bacon, he makes everything better.

"My video was banned from music television, cause you could see my junk... through my jumpsuit." - Dr. Rockso, Metalocalypse

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Weekend recap, in short (sorta)

It's been a very packed few days, so I'm giving you the at-a-glance update.

Thursday
My father-in-law's birthday was Monday. My brother-in-law's was Tuesday. And Brent's was on Friday. Each year we celebrate with a huge birthday dinner. This year it was at Angeli, the same place we celebrated my birthday last month. You can see my Yelp review here. In short, AMAZING.

Friday
It was Brent's birthday, as you know. (And he thanks you all for your birthday wishes! So sweet!) He was very laid back about celebrating, but we finally decided on one of our favorite restaurants, Warsawa. You can see my Yelp review here. In short, delicious as always.

We followed up dinner with a movie, Sunshine. The film stars uber-hottie Cillian Murphy, whom I recently learned is pronounced "Kill-ee-an," not "Sill-ee-an" as I had previously thought. Oops. I'm not usually into sci-fi, but this film was really good! It's the story of a team sent to restart a dying Sun to save Earth. It was surprisingly suspenseful, too. In short, see it!

Saturday
I slept in until 11:30, which I hate doing. I hate sleeping past 10 because anything later starts to feel like I'm wasting my day.

Brent and I dragged ourselves to the gym, the first time in a week for me as I was still recovering from my summer cold. I'm definitely not at 100% capacity, but I wasn't awful. I got to try out my new heart monitor, which turned out to be a very motivating toy at the gym. I learned that even walking fast doesn't get my heart rate into the proper "zone," although running and stairmilling does. It also features a calorie counter, which was also motivating.

We relaxed by my in-law's pool for a short while before heading home and tossing a coin to decide where to eat. I kid you not. The coin decided that we should eat at Metro Cafe, which is a hip little place that serves a mix of traditional American and Serbian cuisine. In short, I recommend it if you're in the area.

We ended our night with a trip to the new Red Mango yogurt chain, which is the mortal enemy of Pinkberry for those of you in So Cal who are familiar with the popular chain. You can see my Red Mango Yelp review here. In short, sweeter and creamier than Pinkberry, but I'll probably stick with Pinkberry just because they are EVERYWHERE... for now.

Sunday
I slept in until 10:30. Grrr...

We visited the local Farmer's Market and the parking gods happened to be on our side. The first spot we saw was open, along with nearly 2 hours on the meter. Suh-weet! Brent chose lots of great produce while I stood still, trying not to get too hot or too pushed in the crowds. We came home and he made me a delicious bruschetta lunch from the heirloom tomatoes and olive pretzel bread we bought. In short, Brent is fabulous.

We spent some more quality time poolside at the in-laws' where I started reading a new book called "The Man of My Dreams." 80 pages in and I'm enjoying it so far.

We ended our weekend with some pulled pork sandwiches, mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed okra from Baby Blues BBQ (You guessed it, my Yelp review here.) Anyone else loving Flight of the Conchords? In short, it's hilarious!

"A kiss is not a contract, but it's very nice. Oh yes, it's very nice. Just because you've been exploring my mouth doesn't mean you get to take an expedition further south." - A Kiss Is Not a Contract, Flight of the Conchords

Friday, August 03, 2007

My old man

It was 30 years ago today that my wonderful mother-in-law and amazing father-in-law brought my wow-can't-believe-he's-all-mine husband into this world.

I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of all his successes and his character, and how happy he makes me each and every day.

Happy birthday, hon!

"I know you're mine, all mine, all mine. But you look so good it hurts sometimes." - John Mayer, Your Body Is A Wonderland

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

So you think you can cry

Did anyone else watch So You Think You Can Dance tonight?

Did anyone else think that almost all of the dances were lame?

Did anyone else cry after watching the Mia Michaels dance that she choreographed to tell a story of her and her father, who passed away just two weeks ago? Or was that just me?

I'm still sensitive about the loss of my father and it's been nearly 4 years. I'm amazed she was able to articulate her loss in such a touching tribute with such fresh mourning wounds. I thought the piece was amazing and beautiful. And I'm sure she made her father proud.

(No video available on YouTube yet, but when it is I'll post it.)

"Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow." - Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
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