Tuesday, February 9, 2010

La la Land....

Well here is the post you have all been waiting for!!!

See how the air looks all thick and smoky... and SMOGY! YUCK! LA was definitely cool and Aaron and I are happy that we went. However, there was SO much smog... all weekend long! I thought that stuff clears up over the weekend? The picture above was taken on Sunday from Griffith Park which overlooks all of LA. We could barely make out the skyline with the smog. Also, I had a headache and was sneezing all weekend and I am sure its from the smog. BLECK! I can't believe all the people in LA put up with this stuff. Its scary to think of the long term health problems people are going to have there.

The other thing we hated about LA... TRAFFIC. OMG. I cannot even begin to tell you how much traffic we got into. We stayed in West Hollywood which is about 8 miles from Downtown, Little Tokyo, Griffin Observatory http://www.griffithobs.org/, the Tarpits, and every where else we wanted to go. Only 8 little miles... we thought with a car we were fine. We were wrong, we were very, very, wrong. It took us over an hour to get to downtown LA and all of those other places too! It was unreal. We also got a bit lost one day, which was our fault, but seriously, the traffic was unreal.

Well, lets get started on the recap. We stayed at the Standard Hotel which is very interesting and includes some random chick sitting in a fish tank in the lobby, a weird lounge with fish flying above and desert scenes on the walls.

This fish was one of a few....randomly hanging from the ceiling. Um? Am I missing something?
This was the wall covering in the lounge...which makes you feel like you are in...the desert? Why? I just think the hotel was maybe a little bit too trendy for me? It was all very minimalistic but kind of new age at the same time. It was pretty cool in all honesty, but definitely not your normal hotel. In the rooms they had all kinds of things for sale...including condoms, star maps of Hollywood, $100 bottles of champagne, specialty candles, bubble bath, cds....They also had little cacti for sale for $20. I guess that was a continuation of the desert theme.

Aaron ordered a beer in the lounge. This lounge was exclusive enough that they had a guest list and several security guards. Even so....they brought Aaron this... a 40 oz beer in a brown paper bag. Aaron was in heaven. I thought it was...odd?
Isn't he great? I think the 40 got to his head. :) The first night we got in pretty late so we hung out at the hotel and went to dinner and this really good Japanese Tapas Bar that was right down the street on Sunset. We had all kinds of tasty treats including a green papaya salad, shrimp balls, salmon rolls in soy paper, and crispy rice with seared ahi. It was all so good. I should mention that even though I am abstaining from meat including beef, poultry, and pork, I am still eating fish. I didn't have the gall to take pictures in the restaurant... I never feel quite at ease in LA and thought pictures of my shrimp balls would not add to my cool LA attitude...um right.

The next morning we went to the Original LA Farmer's Market. It was so cool! It's a permanent structure with all kinds of food stands and farm stands...shops, bars, etc. We looked around and settled on an organic Mexican eatery. I had a grilled veggie burrito that was amazing and not too heavy. Aaron had a sampler plate of 12 kinds of mini tacos. He said they were great! We sat a little bar and had a SF favorite... Anchor Steam Beer. It was such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. We then went into a little French shop that was REALLY hard to resist. I bought some tea... Kusmi Tea and some French Macaroons. We are still savoring the cookies and I can't stop drinking my new Gunpowder Green Tea from Paris. :)

After the Farmer's Market we headed to Little Tokyo.  The above was some kind of tower at the entrance. We also met up with my old college friend Aimee. She was really busy because she is an editor for a teen star magazine and the Grammy's were the next day...so she had interviews, etc. to do . But we saw her for a little while and it was great to catch up.  Aimee and I were in the same sorority... eek! a sorority! at SDSU and we were roommates too. We did tons of fun things together and used to love spending time at the beach. While I still consider us good friends, we don't see each other that often anymore....it still seems like we know one another really well and like we hadn't been apart for as long as we have.

After hanging with Aimee, we did a little bit of shopping and I got some cool new kicks...
I also picked up some bento boxes which will make it onto the blog. Little Tokyo was really cool...lots of food stands and shops and museums...that we didn't have time to go to because of the traffic. 

We made our way back to the hotel after stopping at Vito's pizza http://www.vitopizza.com/ for some dinner. I had some great veggie slices and Aaron had some kind of meat deluxe business. It was good, thin crust pizza with lots of veggies and not very much cheese....nice and light. We relaxed for a while and then headed to the Nokia Theatre district so we could meet up with an old friend I haven't seen since high school! Lindsey (otherwise known as SUGI) was one of my best friends in high school. She was the ASB president, the cheer captain, the president of the dance team, on and on. She was amazing and really a great dancer. She has followed her dreams to LA and after attending UCLA she now has a full time career in teaching high school dance, coaching cheer, and she has her own dance studio. I am sorry I did not get any pictures because she looks lovely. I also met her husband and they have three children who did not join us. Although many years have passed and many changes have happened in our lives, it was like we had never been apart...it was really great to see her. It's funny how time can change some things so much... and how time sometimes time can't touch friendships. 

After we had a couple of drinks with Lindsey and her husband...we headed to the Eddie Izzard show! It was fantastic. I am not going to try and recreate any of the jokes because it just won't sound as funny. He mainly joked about Sarah Palin and God. It was great. The energy was unreal... I had never been to a big comedy show like that and it was really, really, cool. What a nice, big theater too!

The next morning we had breakfast at a little French Place and then headed to the La Brea Tar Pits. Interesting! It was full of TAR! There was tar everywhere. There were also some cool buildings...some museums, etc.

After looking at the cool museums.. we saw some ....can you guess....TAR!

It was all over the place... it grew in the trees.....

And it really was everywhere. 

This is me! See the little paw prints on the ground? I think it was supposed to be "tar prints"....

This man was playing his guitar in front of the tar pit museum and I just found him very charming with his hat and old guitar. The whole place was so surreal with the tar pits being right in the middle of all these tall modern buildings. Weird. 

Then we headed up to the Griffith Observatory which was very cool despite all the fog. 

Here is Aaron trying on some astronaut stuff inside.....

This was a really neat thing in front of the observatory. It had statues of astronomers (several of which were also philosophers). I really liked it...so Aaron took a picture of me......

Don't I look...philosophical? :)

After the observatory we drove to Sunset again and found all kinds of cool little restaurants and shops. We ate some veggie burgers for lunch, poked around, and headed home. 

Like I said, all in all, it was a great trip but I really don't like LA. Too much traffic, smog, and snotty people. The people in LA are NOT nice and are so perfect they made me feel self conscious.  There are tons of amazing things to do and see but I don't think I could live there. 

A whole new respect...

I have a whole new respect for bloggers....keeping up with this is hard work!!!! I have been excruciatingly busy lately with work mainly, and yoga, travel, visitors, etc. I literally have been running non stop. By the time I get home and eat dinner, I read about 20-30 pages of a book and CRASH. I work in recruiting and basically my job is sales. I am working at a start up company so no one knows us and I am doing a lot of networking, lunching, happy hours, coffee meetings (well... tea for me :) )etc. to get our name out there. This makes my work days go by incredibly quickly but I also have to give up my lunches and often my evenings for meetings and when I don't have meetings, I am catching up on all the administrative work I can't do when I am at meetings! What a cycle! I am not complaining, I really like my job, I am just working a ton.

On top of that, I am keeping up with my goal of going to yoga class at least 5 times a week, walking my dog everyday for at least 20 minutes (sometimes it's more), cooking healthy foods, trying to get in some reading and balancing all my trips and visitors. This month we have visitors for three of the weekends, we are house sitting a for friend for one weekend, and the first weekend in March we are going to the car show in Yuma. Phew! Busy!

I actually missed out on one of my favorite activities tonight...cooking club! because I got filling today and my jaw and tooth were sore...and honestly, I was just tired!

So... the dentist. Me and the dentist are not friends. I have always had trouble with my teeth...endless fillings, gum surgery at the age of 10, braces times two, headgear, root canals, crowns...ugh! I don't drink soda, I rarely eat sugary things, and I take incredible care of my teeth. I brush three times a day with an electronic sonic brush, I have floss EVERYWHERE and floss literally two to three times a day, and I use a fluoride rinse  2 to 3 times a week. Honestly,  I think its genetic. It has been such a challenge my whole life. Over the past couple of years, I have developed a real fear of the dentist...not so much for general cleanings, but when I need to get any work done. Seriously... I freak out. For a while I had to take some kind of sedatives and have someone drive me to the appointment (usually this ended up being my boss...and I was totally loopy in the middle of the day. Yeah! Fun.). Now I have a dentist that will use Nitrous at request (and for $120!!!!) which makes me feel silly but I can't do it without. I get all panicked and shaky and sweaty and seriously can't take it. So the filling I had scheduled for today had been rescheduled.....three times... at my request. I kept making up excuses "I am too busy at work".... but really I was just scared shitless. Finally I went today and they are really nice and sensitive to my fears but they treat me like a little kid and kind of make fun of me. And I get all stressy and I just can't even begin to describe how much I hate it. All of that stress is so draining! I try not to stress but I think its beyond my mental control. Today I just kept picturing myself on the beach in Maui and that helped, but didn't preclude me from being sore, tired and drained when it was all said and done. Phew! I don't think I would have been any fun at cooking club tonight anyway.

On a side note, Aaron never flosses, eats sweets and drinks soda...and he NEVER has issues. Harumph. At least I have been told I have a nice smile. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

CSA Delivery and Clean out the Fridge Day!

Every other Monday I get my CSA Package from Be Wise Ranch http://www.bewiseranch.com/. I pay $30 for a large box every other week.  Here is some of last night's shipment. It included strawberries, oranges, carrots, cherry tomatoes, bok choy, some interesting greens, radishes, turnips, sweet potatoes, limes, lemons, cabbage, and an avocado. This shipment was a little bit smaller than they usually are and I am guessing that is because of all the crazy rain we have been having... I hope their crops aren't too badly damaged. Regardless, I think it's such a great deal! This is all organic, locally grown produce that is delicious and my biweekly payment helps support a local farm....and I just think that is really cool! The shipments usually last about a week and a half (the fruit runs out quicker) but this is where the majority of my produce comes from. If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area, check out this site:   http://www.localharvest.org/ The site also lists farmer's markets. I can't stress the importance of buying local produce and goods....The CSA has been great in also trying to come up with recipes for different things than I usually buy. Like turnips...anyone have any recipe ideas for those?

Here is another shot....the strawberries were surprisingly good....very sweet for being pretty early in the year for them...
And another.....

Usually on Sunday's Aaron goes to work on his car (he is rebuilding a 53 Chevy, "Rat Rod" Style) in Lakeside which is about 40 miles from our house. His dad, Vito, lives out there and has lots of cars, property, and equipment to work on cars.  Aaron and Vito get to bond and Aaron gets to work on this cool car under the expert supervision of his dad. In the past few years Aaron and I have been together, I have learned far more about cars than I EVER wanted to or expected to. But I have to say it's been really fun to watch Aaron work and car culture is surprisingly fun. Just don't ask me to tell you the difference from a 53 to 54 to 55 Chevy.... I still can't remember! It's a really nice way for us to spend time with Vito and his wife Nathalee, whom I absolutely love. They are great fun.  We are going to Yuma, AZ, for a show called "Midnight at the Oasis" in March.  Aaron and I are always the youngest people there by about 20 years.  It's a whole weekend of cars and car culture. Check out the website... http://www.caballeros.org/ It's kind of funny that I like to go, if you knew me well you would know I like France and fine food and shopping and girly, fancy things. (In all honesty, I spend most of the time reading out by the pool!) But I really think one of the best aspects of our relationship is that we have our own hobbies to focus on.  I will have to post some pictures of the car... I think it will be pretty fun to cruise around in the rat rod once it's done....people will definitely be looking. 

While Aaron spends Sunday's on his car, I get a whole day to myself. I didn't really love it at first because Aaron and I really work a ton during the week and the weekend was our time. But now I don't mind it because I usually spend Sunday's with my friends, or by myself, doing yoga, going to the farmer's markets, taking long hikes, reading, catching up girly tv shows, etc.  

I also usually spend a few hours on Sunday cooking some basic foods to have ready for lunches and dinners for the week. I usually make a big dinner on Sunday like soup, risotto, etc, that we can have lots of leftovers from. I also like to cook one kind of dry bean or dry lentil to add to things like salads or bowls during the week. And I also cook up one kind of whole grain or rice for the week.  I find if I keep a few of these things on hand already cooked, I can just add in some veggies and have a complete meal in minutes. When you work 10-12 hours a day like me and Aaron, it's important to plan ahead, or you will just have tons of crappy, non homemade food!

Since we were in LA all weekend, I really didn't have time to do that this weekend. So last night I made it a priority and after cleaning all my produce from my CSA (another great time saver I learned from Raechel Ray) I had tons of veggie trimmings and other leftovers in the fridge to deal with. I used the veggie trimmings to make a large pot of home made vegetable stock. You can just save all the leftover bits of the veggies you use for a week, put them in a large pot with water, a dash of salt, and any fresh herbs you want. Boil for 1-2 hours until the broth tastes good and then strain it out.  Keep in the fridge for a week or freeze for? a couple months? It's such a cheap and healthier version of store bought stock...it's actually free because I normally would throw these veggie bits away. (I wish I had a compost pile, but that's another story.)

I also juiced all the grapefruits from Rosemary and a big bag of tangerines that were too seedy to eat. I bet I only got about 2 cups of juice from about 20 pieces of fruit! It sure tastes good though. 

I also made two big pots of soup. One was cooked with a variety of beans and grains. Basically, I chopped garlic, onions, carrots, and celery and sautéed them with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. I used 1 cup of mixed beans and lentils and added about 8 cups of watered down stock. I also threw in two bay leaves and some dry thyme (although I think fresh thyme would have been better). After about an hour and a half of simmering when the beans were nice and soft, I added about 2 cups of tomato puree, salt, and pepper. I also had a rind of pecorino romano cheese so I threw that in. The soup was good but a little too tomato-ee. I think I will add some honey or agave when we eat it again so they taste more like baked beans than soup.  Here is our dinner with little vegan cheese and arugula sandwiches. The sandwiches are on a pretty new Japanese tray I bought this weekend in LA in Little Tokyo.  It was a good little dinner and I love my new dish. So pretty. 

The last thing I made last night was the second pot of soup...again a real mish mosh, clean out your fridge kind of soup. I had made a spoof on a tomato gratin from Barefoot Contessa last week. It was basically whole grain bread, fresh tomatoes, olive oil and dried herbs baked together. It was good but we had left overs. I have seen a couple of varieties of Italian soup cooked with bread to thicken it, so I thought, why not make the leftovers into soup? Again, I used carrots, celery, garlic and onions and sautéed them together. Then I added about 2 cups of baked fresh tomatoes and 2 cups of the bread. If you don't have the leftovers like I did, you could just chop up some tomatoes and day old bread.  Then I added in about 2 cups of mushroom broth and 8 oz of sliced crimini mushrooms. I also added the rest of the pureed tomatoes from the other soup...maybe 1 cup? I let it simmer for about 15 minutes until it thickened. We just ate it for dinner tonight after reheating it on the stove...OMG! It was so good! Aaron scarfed it up. I sprinkled some fresh parsley on top for some color and it was amazing. Really great, simple, earthy food. And now I have two portions for lunch or last minute dinner.

And I think that does it for a long post. LA update coming soon. Good nite!