Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More reasons why my hottie hubby rules

- He brings me flowers, just 'cuz. Last week he brought me a gorgeous bouquet, just 'cuz.

- When I tell him something crazy over IM, he responds with this photo to illustrate his disbelief:

-Last weekend he disassembled our PS2 and Xbox 360, took it to his parents, spent over an hour making sure that they worked correctly with my in-laws' 52" TV before my friends came over for a party, then disassembled and took it all back to our place when we were done - without one complaint.

- When I tell him that I just killed the world's biggest spider, he responsds with this photo:

- He's making an effort to be more optimistic like me, instead of stressing over stuff beyond our control. He's trying to get even more enjoyment out of life, which makes me so happy.

"The flowers were lovely, thank you. No, you hang up first. Okay, on the count of three. One, two, three. No, I didn't hang up either. " - Jack, 30 Rock

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekend, in brief

I'm tired, so you get the recap in bullet style.

Friday
- Got a haircut. Similar to last time, just a little shorter.
- A delicious dinner at Fraiche in Culver City, complements of Miwa as we used a gift certificate she gave us for our birthdays last year. I highly recommend visiting if you have the chance. Great service and amazing food. Thanks again, Miwa!

Saturday
- Lazed at home then started to make some more Red Velvet Bites.
- Dinner with Josh and Jami at Ye Olde Kings Head. Had my favorite fish 'n chips.
- Saw Be Kind Rewind. Hoped it would be good, although I knew reviews were not kind. Wasn't as good as we'd hoped, sadly.

Sunday
- Finished making Red Velvet Bites.
- Hosted a good-bye party for Winnie, who is moving to the D.C. area at the end of the week. Ate Versailles, some scrumptious treats from Wan, played lots of video games to honor Winnie, our resident gamer.
- Watched portions of the Oscars. So happy that Once won for Best Song and Daniel Day Lewis won for Best Actor!

"Computer games don't affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music."
- Marcus Brigstocke

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Got me a ticket and it won't be long

I love when Brent agrees to go to a show with me. It's not that he doesn't like live music, it's just that he's not quite into the 20/30-something singer/songwriters like I am. I promised him that he would really enjoy The Hives as they put on a fabulous performance, so he joined me last night for their show at The Wiltern.

We arrived shortly after the doors opened because I wanted to score a good spot for the show. For those of you familiar with The Wiltern, my favorite place to stand is right behind the pit, directly behind the railing that separates the walkway down to the pit. This way I'm not stuck behind Marge Simpson and I have a close, unobstructed view of the show. We got there just in time to secure spots just where I wanted.

The Donnas opened the show with a kickass set. Brent and I took mental notes for our Rock Band moves while watching Tori, the drummer who happens to be dating WeeMo's brother. We will be incorporating more pointing with drum sticks, hair in our face and closed eyes during our future musical video game play.

After The Donnas, WeeMo and her hubby swung by to say hello. Then Brent and I texted back and forth with Gretchen, a friend of my brother-in-law, Tyler. She texted, "Watch the screen!" There was a screen above the stage where they showed ads for upcoming shows along with texts sent via concertgoers' mobile phones. Gretchen had texted to the screen, "Nanners and Brent rule more than Tyler." Ha, ha! So, in return Brent texted, "Gretchen is very wise."

Soon thereafter, the fabulous Hives took the stage. Wikipedia notes that "vocalist Pelle Almqvist is known for his habits of stage diving, climbing amps, executing scissor kicks and nonsensical speech. The Hives were ranked as the 7th greatest live act now by Spin Magazine." It's true, all of it! He and the rest of the band are awesome performers. Pelle jumped into the crowd a couple of times and at one point he ran past the pit and through the walkway directly in front of us! I was dancing and singing along and the next thing I know Pelle had grabbed my hands as he was walking by! That was a welcome surprise.

Brent really enjoyed the show. He saw Pelle point at an audience member in the pit, who Brent recognized as Mickey, the bassist from Maroon 5. (I love that my husband has spotted Maroon 5 members in public for me on a couple of occassions while I've been otherwise oblivious. That's love, my friends.) I imagine Mickey and The Hives are buddies from the recent M5 tour in which The Hives opened. Mickey, typically quiet and reserved on stage, rocked out and seemed to enjoy The Hives as much as the rest of the wild crowd.

All in all, it was an amazing show and I'm looking forward to seeing them perform again.

"Got me a ticket and I won't be long 'cause I can't go on and I gotta get goin'. Got me a ticket and I won't be long 'cause I can't go on and I gotta get goin' away." - Won't Be Long, The Hives

Monday, February 18, 2008

Seen, heard, done

Watched
Definitely, Maybe - Brent offered to see it with me, in a rare move. I later learned that he was using it as a Golden Ticket so I couldn't complain that he never sees movies I want to see. Ha, ha! I thought the movie was cute -- cheesy as expected, but cute. Hey, it's not like every romantic comedy can be as fabulous as Love Actually. And Isla Fisher is adorable. Love, love, love her.

Visited
Yoga - Brent and I got all bendy at our gym and still have sore muscles to prove it. I plan to do that more often.

Trader Joe's
- If you don't have a Trader Joe's grocery store near you, then move! We don't go as nearly as often as we should but the place is great, featuring overall nutritious goodies at very reasonable prices - can't beat that!

The local library - Brent visited it recently with great success, so I joined him this time. Wow! I'm on a HUGE reading kick lately (more on that in a future post) and the visit was a perfect way to quench my reading thirst while saving some money.

Ate
Dolce Isola - This little bakery/cafe is owned by The Ivy, providing tasty Ivy-ish treats but at a fraction of the price. The decor is bright and a bit shabby chic. It reminded me of a cafe you'd find on Disneyland's Main Street USA. And the food? Holy moly. Brent had a caprese sandwich and I had the MOST AMAZING crab cake sandwich. Brent and I were both talking about it for the rest of the weekend. The staff was attentive and made great recommendations. We also took some baked treats (lemon bars, chocolate "earthquake" cookies, pecan bar) home for us and the in-laws to enjoy. There's no website to be found yet but the address is 2869 South Robertson Boulevard, between Cattaraugus Avenue and Hargis Street in Culver City.

Jin Patisserie
- I love my husband so much for requesting that we make a return visit to this lovely modern tea place. We soaked in the sunshine while nibbling tea sandwiches, scones and sipping tea. Oh, and we're 95% sure that we were sitting next to Balthazar Getty and his wife.

Rutt's - This Hawaiian cafe is delicious and makes me wish we were on our honeymoon again.

Dish soap, by accident when I licked what I thought was sauce from a baked apple on my fork. Bleh!

"Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. Though my personal preference was for Lux, I found that Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor - heavy, but with a touch of mellow smoothness. Life Buoy, on the other hand... YECCHH!" - Ralphie, A Christmas Story

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Blog love

Hey folks. Sorry I've been MIA this week. It's been crazy-go-nuts at work, with 90% of our team out at an event while the other 10% of us were manning the fort.

Last night Brent and I attended a screening of Choke, based on the book written by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club. Screenings are one of those LA perks I particularly enjoy. A free movie, before anyone else sees it and in this case, the screenplay writer/producer/producer/actor in the film was there. The film is a dark comedy about a sex addict (played by Sam Rockwell) who has to deal with his dying mother as she suffers from dementia at a mental ward. Apparently it was a huge hit at Sundance and now the studio that secured distribution is trying to figure out exactly how they want to market it.

I enjoyed the film, especially as I had no expectations going in, other than my love of all things Sam Rockwell. I thought the pace was good and the story was interesting. Brent, on the other hand, liked the movie but not as much as I did. He really enjoyed the book, which I haven't read, and said the movie focused more on the storyline and didn't include enough of the fun cerebral nuances of the book. He did acknowledge that it's not easy to cram in all the details covered in a book into a 2-hour film. I'd recommend seeing it when it's released, especially if you're a Sam Rockwell fan, but be forewarned that there is a lot of sex in the film - it is about a sex addict, after all.

So, while I continue to get my blog bearings straight, check out these new blogs from some friends of mine.

The first is called Night Baking and belongs to Jami - half of our infamous "Josh and Jami" friends. She's one of my baking inspirations and a great mother to two of the world's most adorable children to walk this planet.

The second is Shan Kat. Written Dopelganger (I love the word "Dopelganger," by the way) (she recently changed her blog name - oops! And I spelled it wrong anyway). It belongs to a gal I went to high school with. Her name is Shannon and she's a great writer, a professional one, at that. She and her husband are expecting their first child in a few short weeks.

The third blog is called The Hype, Man and belongs to my wonderfully hilarious husband, Brent! If you recall, he had another blog concept that was kinda out there, but he's back with something more along the lines of the opinion column he wrote in college, the column that I became a fan of long before we met/dated. When I reminded him of that today, he said, "I know. I married a groupie!"

Enjoy! And happy Valentine's day, everyone! I'll be celebrating at a lovely dinner with my hottie hubby tonight.

"The 'Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it." - William Gibson

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I drink your Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers! I drink them up!*

*That may only be slightly amusing to you if you've seen There Will Be Blood.

Friday night we hung out with Josh, Jami and the kids, which we haven't done in a long time. Those kids are sooo cute and cheerful and edible. I could just gobble them both up! I helped Jami whip up a batch of cupcakes based on justJENN's recent recipe.

Saturday Brent and I had breakfast at Jinky's, a breakfast place in Santa Monica. Everyone there was dressed very sporty, like runners, but they weren't all sweaty and I can't imagine they were going to eat big breakfasts and then go for a run. Strange. Oh, if you ever try that place, I highly recommend the crunchy french toast - dipped in Special K before it's fried up. Mmm...

We strolled along the Promenade, where I discovered that the sweatshirt I was wearing was way too hot for the 75+ degree whether. Well, hello, Spring. Nice to see ya! Winter, there's the door. Don't let it hit you on the way out.

I had to buy a gift for the baby shower I was attending Sunday, so Brent and I went to one of the stores where the mom-to-be is registered. Oh, wow. They make some crazy stuff for babies/kids these days. And strollers? Holy cow. Those bad boys can get pricey, although I could probably lift an empty one with two fingers given how light they are. Brent and I also marveled at a mom-to-be in the store, whose belly was so big that I swore she was carrying a basketball in her belly -- attached to a Harlem Globetrotter! She was HUGE! She didn't seem phased by it, though, even if she was about to give birth to an 8-year-old.

That evening we had dinner at Baby Blues BBQ, then swung by the 99 Cent store to people-watch and see what bizarre goodies we could find. Brent got some matzo and I picked up some of these:
I love Whoppers. I love strawberry. I love milkshakes. And for 99 cents, what did I have to lose? Well, I've only tried a few, but they weren't nearly as freakish as one might expect. I won't necessarily stock up on them because that could be dangerous, but I'll certainly enjoy this box.

Today, as previously mentioned, I attended two showers. The first was a bridal shower for my friend Angie, held at the Scarlett Tea Room in Pasadena. The bride-to-be looked STUNNING in a gorgeous yellow party dress. Her friends and family are all so sweet. And the tea and food were delicious! (Sadly I have no pics of people, just the food.)

Scones and finger sandwiches Desserts

I left the shower a little early to head back to West LA for a baby shower for my friend, C. Although my time there was a little short, I had a nice time and met some lovely ladies. (Hi Becky and Aubrey!) And of course, the mom-to-be looked fabulous!

I came home to find Brent's car, but no Brent. And instead of an "I'm at the beach" note, I found this lovely treasure:
Drawing
You can click the picture to enlarge and enjoy my hottie hubby's notations. Seven hours later and I'm still giggling.

"Anyone who uses the phrase 'easy as taking candy from a baby' has never tried taking candy from a baby." - Anonymous

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Coming attractions

Check out all the fun stuff I have coming up! And I haven't forget about the blog happy hour I mentioned. I'm working on a date and place.

This weekend I have TWO showers to attend - one bridal and one baby. Sadly they're on the same day, around the same time, so I'll have to do that sitcom switcheroo where I run from one to the other and then back to the first one while accidentally still wearing the fake mustache from the first one. Ha! Can you imagine?

Next month we're going with Josh and Jami to two Paley Festival events. (Tickets went on sale today.) The first features Judd Apatow and yet-to-be-named-but-probably-really-cool guests. I suppose this means that I need to finish the Freaks and Geeks DVDs I borrowed from Josh and Jami last year. I watched most of the series when it aired originally, but I want to relive the entire show it in its teen angst glory.

The second event features a panel of actors and producers from Friday Night Lights. [insert teeny bopper squeal here.] If you watch the show, you can understand my excitement that Saracen, Landry and Julie will be there, but also my sadness that Riggins isn't scheduled to attend...yet. Hopefully that'll change before the event.

We're also planning to take a family vacation with my wonderful in-laws to Alaska at the end of May. This weeklong trip will be the first cruise for me, Brent and my brother-in-law. I'm quite excited!

In July, I'm 98% sure that I'll be attending the annual BlogHer conference in San Francisco! I'll be there in a work capacity, covering it for our site and maybe even speaking if I can come up with a topic that would be interesting to a room full of female bloggers. But I'm super excited to be in a room full of people who don't look at me sideways when I say I'm blogger. My people, I say! My people!

So, there ya have it. And this is in addition to The Hives, Foo Fighters and Gavin DeGraw concerts in the next month. Lovin' life, my friends. Now you all have to act excited for me when I blog about all of these adventures post-event.

[while hitchhiking] "We're so sheltered, you know? There's this whole other America out there. The person who picks us up could be an artist or a psychic or an escaped felon. This is so exciting!" - Lindsay Weir, Freeks and Geeks

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Humble Abode

Dine LA continues! Tonight Brent and I joined Josh and Jami for dinner at Abode, a relatively new restaurant here in Santa Monica just steps from the beach. The restaurant features modern decor and fun seating options. We were at a standard table with standard chairs, but they had some cozy booths and high-back upholstered arm chairs that looked cool.

We all decided to order off the Dine LA tasting menu, and we did a great job ordering a variety of options.

Josh and I started with the caramelized chestnut soup, crispy artichokes and mint aioli. The soup was sweet and tangy, and I especially enjoyed the bits of artichokes.
My starter

Brent started with the roasted baby beet salad with horseradish goat cheese mousse. I'm not a big fan of beets, but I enjoyed the bite of his salad. And he seemed pleased with it.
Brent's starter

Jami started with the homemade pork rillette, apple cider and pommes gaufrette.
Jami's starter

We all shared an order of lobster spring rolls, which were delicious, even after I accidentally dipped mine in the wasabi sauce. Spicy!
Appetizer

Josh, Jami and I all ordered the black cod, which has become a recent favorite fish of mine. Like others I've had, this one was rich and buttery. And the crispy skin was particularly delicious. It was served with vanilla mashed potatoes and chanterelles. The vanilla in the mashed potatoes was the perfect amount -- not too much, not too little. I'd like to try adding some vanilla the next time we make mashed potatoes at home.
Entree

Brent's entree was a duo of lamb, pea and saffron puree and tapenade.
Brent's entree

For dessert, Jami and I both had a "study of chocolate." I think I'd like to major in this chocolate, thankyouverymuch. We especially liked the warm brownie-like concoction in the emptied egg shell.
Dessert

Brent and Josh, being the cheese fanatics that they are, naturally went for the chef's selection of cheese's for dessert. I tasted each one and they were delicious! My favorite was the cheese on the far left, which was a combination of two types of goat cheeses.
Dessert

Overall I'd say everyone was quite pleased with their selections. And as Jami pointed out, this was one of the best deals, pricewise, of the Dine LA options. Our tasting menu was $34 per person, with an extra $20 for the wine pairings that Brent and Josh selected. I'd definitely go back, and I recommend it to anyone in the area.

Josh and Jami are also some of our favorite dining companions, so that made the evening that much better. Hard to believe that we've been hanging out with them for nearly eight years! Thanks for a lovely time, guys!

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw

Monday, February 04, 2008

Through showers and snow

I spent the weekend in my hometown of Visalia. Yesterday I attended the baby shower for Shelby's sister, Megan. She's due on Feb. 18, having a little girl named Olivia. (Super cute, huh?) And as previously mentioned, Shelby is also having a baby, which they recently learned is a BOY!

I made some sweet treats to bring to the shower. I made justJENN's super-easy-yet-super-cute Burger Bites. They were a huge hit, as always.

I also tried a new recipe, courtesy of Bakerella. They're called Red Velvet Cake Balls, but I've been referring to them as Red Velvet Cake Bites instead because I'm this many. [holding up four fingers]

The recipe, as you'll see in the link above, is relatively easy. In a nutshell, you bake a red velvet cake mix as directed, which was probably the hardest part as I had to go to three grocery stores to find it. (Finally found some at Ralph's. I bought three boxes to keep some on stock for next time.) After it's baked and cooled, you mix in a can of cream cheese frosting.
Scene of the crime

Then you shape the mushy cake into little circles. I used my new mini-cookie dough scooper, which worked out nicely.
Red Velvet Balls

Then you chill them for a few hours. You can speed it up a little bit by putting them in the freezer.

This is where the photos end because I had some issues working with the melted chocolate to cover the little round balls of goodness. Ya see, I can make cupcakes, frosting, cookies, etc., but I haven't really dealt with a lot of melted chocolate. I started with some baker's chocolate that comes in a microwaveable cup. That was ok, but it didn't go very far. Then I melted a bag of mini Tollhouse Morsels, but again, it didn't go very far and was not easy to work with.

I was running out of time so I just wrapped up the frozen balls and hit the road to my mom's house. I stopped at Michael's craft supply and picked up some Wilton chocolate candy melts, along with a special dipping spoon and fork. At my mom's I melted the chocolate, which was the easiest of the three kinds I tried. I even drizzled some along the top for an added touch. They didn't turn out quite as pretty as Bakerella's, so you can just drool over her photos. I look forward to making them again, especially now that I've had some practice. And my first attempt received nothing but compliments at the shower.

I was so excited to see Shelby. I already miss her oodles and oodles, but now that she and Rob are starting a family, I'm super sad that we don't live closer. Oh, and Shelby doesn't look pregnant at all. Everyone was amazed that she's nearly halfway through her pregnancy! Although she didn't look pregnant, I was able to feel her little boy moving around. I don't think I've ever felt a baby in a belly before! It was really COOL!

So, while Shelby didn't look pregnant at all, her sister? Well, she's just a little thing who looks as though she's ready to POP!
Shelby and Megan

I did spend some time with my mom and my nephew, who is still as cute as ever, but I spent most of the weekend visiting with Shelby and her family. And really, why does Iowa have to be sooo far away?
Shelby and I

I drove back to LA this afternoon. On my way to Visalia on Saturday, I saw just a little bit of snow on the top of the Grapevine, the foothills I have to drive over. There were a few rare patches of snow around the freeway level, but not much at all. On the way back I drove through some scattered showers and was stunned to see that the Grapevine had turned to this in just two days:
Snow on The Grapevine

I know that they closed the Grapevine due to heavy snow a few weeks ago, but I was still surprised to see so much of it. In fact, it SNOWED while I made my way over the foothills. I don't think I've ever driven in falling snow before. The one other time I've seen it snow on the Grapevine, Brent was driving.

Hey, don't laugh too hard -- this is a big deal for someone who lives blocks from the sandy beach. This doesn't mean I'll be braving the Iowa freezing temps anytime soon, though. I'm waiting for nicer weather, which Shelby assures me that they do get eventually.

"What the hell is a diaper genie?" - Samantha
"I don't know...someone you hire to change a kid's diaper?" - Carrie, Sex and the City

Violet, you're turning violet!

I've been busy in the five days since my last post, so I'm catching up with multiple posts.

Friday night Brent and I enjoyed another Dine LA meal, this time at Violet in Santa Monica. Parking was a pain, but it was worth it. The restaurant is relatively small and has a funky, indie vibe. A guy covered in tats, wearing black nail polish, eye liner and a V-neck t-shirt brought us our water, which I thought was pretty cool. Brent said that he was the owner. Skeptical, I asked Brent if he was sure. He replied, "Well, he has 'Violet' tattood across his chest." Hmm...yeah, probably not just a devoted employee. He was, in fact, the owner.

Anyhow, on to the food! (Click the photos to biggify.)

I started with the white onion soup while Brent had an ahi tuna dish.
My starter Brent's starter

My entree was salmon with bits of apple and a creamy sauce. Sounds a little weird, but it was quite yummy! Brent had a delicious cheesy risotto, although I think it had another strong flavor, which I can't remember.

My entree Brent's entree

For dessert, I had chocolate bread pudding. (Psst...Jolene and Kay...a place for our next bread pudding adventure?) Brent had a creamy dessert that I can't remember the name of, but the taste was unforgettable.

My dessert Brent's dessert

I'm really glad we decided to finally try this restaurant, which specializes in tapas rather than the larger entrees that we had. I'm excited to go back and try some tempting dishes like the mushroom raviolli and baked macaroni.

"Roses are red, violets are blue. That's what they say, but it just isn't true. Roses are red, and apples are, too. But violets are violet, violets aren't blue. An orange is orange, but Greenland's not green. A pinky's not pink, so what does it mean? To call something blue when it's not, we defile it. But what the heck, it's hard to rhyme violet." - Dot, Animaniacs