Thursday, April 26, 2012

Harry Potter: How it Should Have Ended

 "I am pointing my wand as hard as I can!"
Good for a laugh... ;)

Danish children watching the changing of the guard

Parents/teachers walk the kiddies to Copenhagen's Amailienborg to see the guards-

They settle into place- prepared for snowstorms, by the looks of it!

The police come to speak to the little ones.

the guards start their process...


Happy Birthday Mama!

Hoping your day is lovely, and not too full of wackadoodles!

Monday, April 23, 2012

friends, flowers, festivals and fun-runs!

Lovely. That's the word I'd use to describe this weekend. Friday night, Matt and I went to our newly wedded friends' house for a BBQ- and enjoyed good food, good wine and good company. The following morning, we took a little walk through our sunny neighborhood... 

and saw these blooming beauties...

and ended up at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  I could have spent days here-- checking out all the booths and seeing the speakers-- but we just did a quick walk though. Surprisingly, we left for home with only two new books (it was a difficult thing to do, as I am a book hoarder, but we are resolved not to add anything to our already overly-stuffed apartment!) We quickly crossed paths with some friends heading to the Festival for the whole day, and I am eager to hear all the good things they got/read/heard/saw...

Love this quote (I think it works equally well if you leave out the word "child's") 

On the walk back home we said hello to this lady, who was perched so daintily upon a gorgeous iris.

and then came the hard part of the weekend... saying goodbye to the boys. We were going to be back within 24 hours, but still... 

Linus got all cute and flopped on the floor...

OB got nervous and darted away from the camera...

...and Sherpa took his exact place, waiting for his picture....

Then, Matt and I headed to San Diego. We stayed the night with our friends, Marisa and Alex. We walked about their beautiful garden (but like a dumbski I didn't take any photos! Seriously, it is such a precious plot of veggies and flowers and sweet peas and strawberries. I kinda wanted to live there... in the garden...). For dinner they took us the the BEST restaurant, Sipz, which was friendly, quick, tasty and vegetarian...just the way I like it! If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. 

After a bit of wine for us ladies and a few beers for the guys, we called it an early night, because the next morning, we ran the SDSU Greenfest 5K in honor of Earth Day! Here we are getting ready to run-

You'll  have to use your imagination to picture us 37 minutes later, crossing the finish line triumphantly! We looked just the same, just a little sweatier and red in the face.

After the race, we enjoyed a well-earned brunch at Tiger!Tiger! (everything is homemade from scratch!) and Matt and I headed back to LA, stopping at a great asian grocery store to stock up on sauces, noodles and steamed buns. When we got home, we promptly slumped onto the couch and zoned out in front of the TV and loved on the kitties until bed time.

And today is Shakespeare's birthday! Last year, I wrote him his own B-day post, but this year he'll have to do with this measly mention... In his honor, Matt got this book from the Festival... 

How awesome does this look?! And it's the actual text from the play accompanied with illustration. If he doesn't start it in the next couple of days, I might have to read it first ;)

If you're looking for a bit of Bard-related fun, test your knowledge of his opening lines here.

Hope your weekend was full of fun too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Can you believe this freakin' weather?!

I don't know about your part of the world, but the last few days in Los Angeles have been unbelievably gorgeous. I mean, even for LA standards! The sun shine and blue skies and birds twittering and flowers blooming.... it's all so Happy. Gotta go outside!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Burney Falls

I had a whole post written about McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park... but erased it. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. I think you'll get a sense of the place without my ramblings--  enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Enjoying a little more Potter

of course it did.

and here's what I got from Olivander...

Apple with dragon heartstring, 13 inches and surprisingly swishy. I like the sound of that!

Hay, Chair.

This would either be a wonderful spot to hang out in the sun and read a book... or terribly itchy. Either way, I want one! Maybe I can convince my dad to make one out in his yard, as I don't see it happening for me at my apartment in LA.

Monday, April 16, 2012

some good things about Los Angeles

I'll admit it... at times Los Angeles frustrates me. You know, the traffic, the phonies*, the fact that anywhere you want to go is already jam packed with much more eager/weatlhly/beautiful people!

But there are things about my adopted hometown that warms mi corazón... And every once in a while, usually when I am out and about under the bright blue sky, I remind myself that the city of angeles is a pretty special place. So, I made up a list of 10 things that I think are great about LA... and then I asked Matt what his 10 would be. And then I blogged about them. Pretty cool.

palm trees and clear skies outside my house

My List

1. the weather
2. great mexican food
3. inadvertently walking on to a movie set
4. recognizing my places on shows or commercials
5. art deco style
6. the vegetable man in the vegetable van
7. birthplace of all my baby kitties (Linus was technically Long Beach)
8. beaches, mountains, desert... all close by
9. the downtown library
10. its a multi-cultural mecca melting pot

Matt's List

1. home of the greatest basketball team ever
2. there are tar pits- complete with sinking mammoths!
3. the chicks are hot
4. myriad good bars
5. tons of music! in great venues... c'mon, the Hollywood Bowl?! The Wiltern. The Greek. El Rey.
6. running into celebrities (and seeing how short they are)
7. Pinks. Dodger Dogs. danger dogs
8. old Hollywood
9.  Randy Newman loves it here
10. sunshine, baby...  sun. shine.  all day... everyday.

*I am purposefully being Caufieldian...

Happy Hunger Games

This was our fridge last week. Not because we took everything out to clean it or something, we just ran out of food. Or nearly, we did still have an apple and a bag of lemons. So, instead of going to the market like a good wifey, I decided that our lack of comestibles was in honor of the hit YA series, The Hunger Games. Always thinking, I am.

Matthew and I just finished the last of the trilogy a few nights ago (we read them out loud to each other over a month or two). And the funny thing is... I'm not sure how I feel about the series!

There was some really great things about these books. One of the tell-tale signs of a good book is if you can't put it down, right? Well, I always wanted to read "one more chapter". And I was bummed when we skipped a night all together. This is a very well-paced series. There is no drag time, even when the plot line is not action packed (on the rare occasion)-- it still reads with a sense of urgency and excitement.

Another thing that impressed me with this series is the consistent overall tone. I talked about this with Matt, how I'm amazed that certain books can evoke a particular feeling in me- one that isn't contextually attached to the emotional ups and downs of the storyline.  It's hard to describe, but I am sure many of you experience it. The best I can do is compare it to a color palate. Maybe I'll think more on this and rewrite this section :)

And lastly, I loved the thoroughness of the world that Suzanne Collins created. It has it's own history, fashions, cuisine, hand gestures... I enjoyed her finished product and couldn't help wonder about her process.

But there were things I wasn't too crazy about. First off, I don't think futuristic dystopians are my thing. Nor is hunting. or murder. or war. There were times when it just felt like a sad place to let my imagination visit. But I think that was the point, no?

Also, I felt that a lot of the main characters fell flat. These were characters that seemed really important at first, but ended up disappointing me. Haymitch was once of those characters. He was my favorite. I thought it was so daring and refreshing, frankly, that there was a character in a YA novel that had his kind of flaws. He was complicated. He battled addiction. He battled in the first Quarter Quell. He was a strong surviver...and a pitiful self saboteur at the same time.  I don't want to spoil the plot for any one out there who hast yet read the series, but I will say that Haymitch didn't  play the role I thought he would in the final book.  Neither did Gale, really. Or sweet little Prim. (On the flip side, the character Finnick, who I thought would just be whatever ended up having one of the most memorable and poignant arcs in the series! So I guess things balance out in the end).

Last weekend Matt took me on a movie date and we finally saw the movie. We went to the Vista, which is my favorite theater in LA, so already I was happy as a clam. The movie did a great job of sticking to the book. There were subtle changes and some things were taken out to make it "movie length" but overall it didn't take too many liberties with the story. The movie looked a lot like what I imagined... District 12 was gray and drab. The Capitol  looked shiny and high tech. The Arena was great. And the acting was good too. The trio was believable- and Katniss was well casted. The best performance though, was Tucci as Caesar Flickman-- he was amazing!

And then there's Haymitch! Woody Harrelson is such an endearing actor. And I've already said Haymitch was one of my favorite characters.... but I thought the movie Haymitch was a little too watered down. He didn't fall off the stage. He didn't vomit all over himself. He never really seemed that unreliable- which is what made him such a good character to read! I never worried that he would abandon the kids in the arena...

All of criticism aside, I loved reading the books and I liked the movie as well. I'll definitely go see the rest when they are made. What did you all think?I haven't spoken with anyone who has read the books or seen the movie (other than Matt) and I am curious if my complains are way off from what others are thinking...

Better head to the Hob to pick up a few essentials! my fridge isn't going to fill itself...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good advice for *most* of us

500 dreams & Happy things!

This is my 500th post. I can't believe that I have shared that much! I am hoping that at least one or two of them made someone happy. For those who read this milestone posting, I give you the gift of music. The following videos are some songs that I have been appreciating for one reason or another, and maybe you will too! Enjoy!

Jake Shimabukuro is considered to be the best ukulele player in the world. And in this 8 minute video, he pretty much proves it.

My girl Amanda Palmer and her friend Jason Webley make up the gimmicky but interesting duo Evelyn Evelyn- who's music is a little dark and somber. This is them having a bit of child-like fun.

Leslie and the Lys song "Tight Pants/Body Roll" brings awesome to another level. Seriously, just let it get inside you and you will be busting out dance moves you didn't even know you knew.

I'm a sucker for kazoo. 'nuff said.

The Civil Wars is getting all kinds of attention these days, and rightfully so. But this little ditty is one of my favorites. Matt and I debate which one has the prettier voice :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Springy big-photo hodgepodge

Irish cupcakes

jasmine blossoms surround my home

unbelievable handsomeness

Magic Tree in my neighborhood

climbing to blue skies

made it!

a beautiful bird...

that I spied on for quite a while

perhaps unnerving him a bit...

he initiated a staring contest

and I won, but he was too pretty to look away! 

Can anyone tell me what kind of bird this is?

Monday, April 9, 2012


We had a wonderful evening celebrating Passover this year. Full of cooking, eating, praying, laughing, story telling, music playing, drinking, remembering, pondering, hiding and seeking, blessing and haggadah reading. Here are some highlights in photos:

Our seder plate-
(sans the  lamb shank. I read that a roasted beet can be used as the z'roa for those of us who do not eat lamb.)

Matthew made the delicious charoset!

and of course, the star of the evening... the matzo!

We start the night with prayers, and telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Matthew breaks the middle matzo and hides half for later. 

We drink wine and eat soup (which was quite delicious, if I say so myself. Seriously, I am getting better at making "Jewish penicillin)

We enact the 10 plagues and I ask the four questions.

Then we eat! The main dish was stuffed cabbage. Matt's late aunt, Ester, was known for this dish, and I have heard Matt talk about it for years. This was my first crack at it, and I knew I wouldn't even come close to remaking hers (for one, I don't use meat... kind of a big difference!) but it was pretty good! The recipe is at the end of this post. We talked of Ester while preparing and cooking this dish, and throughout the dinner- Matt shared some of his memories of her, some touching, some very funny ... so Matt dedicated this Passover to her. 

Matt reads the 4 sons:

And I find the Afikomen, and get an apple as my prize!

Then we finish the night with some songs... I am pretty sure "Let my people go" and "Dayenu" were in there. Along with some others... Matt rocked The Cars, "Just what I needed!" 

Hope your Passover was both meaningful and fun!

Recipe for Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage:

Core a large head of green cabbage so that there is a cone shaped void where the core was. (This is the hardest part, make sure you have a good, sharp knife!)

Boil (and lightly salt) a large pot of water. I used my biggest pot. Put the whole head of cabbage in the water. Allow for each layer to boil for a minute or two before peeling each leaf off carefully using tongs and a gentle touch.

Let the leaves cool.

Make your filling. You can put anything you like in the filling. In a saute pan, I mixed a package of Morning Star meatless meat starters (It is like fake hamburger) with onion, mushroom, garlic, and other spices. I added this to a couple of cups of cooked rice and added an egg to the mix to help it stay together.

Form the mixture into a patty and place inside a cabbage leaf. Fold to make a little packet. You should be able to get by with one leaf per packet when using the largest leaves but will need to switch to two once the leaves get smaller.

Place the stuffed leaves in a baking dish.

Top with sauce. I used a mix of diced tomatoes and tomato puree. Instead of flavoring it with Italian flavors, like a marinara, I added some sugar, cinnamon, black pepper and apple cider vinegar.

Sprinkle with white onion slices.

Bake at 350 until it looks done. With meatless meat, everything is already cooked and the baking is to allow the flavors to combine. Mine was in the oven for about 30 minutes.