I was going to stay home in LA this Thanksgiving, but I got a wild hair to fly to VA and surprise everyone. Turns out no one was really that surprised, but I'm glad I did it anyway. My trip there was relatively painless. I seemed to bypass all the madness of traveling the day before Thanksgiving, and the rest of the trip was ever so relaxing. I didn't even mind so much that it was bloody freezing outside.
This was the lovely rental house we stayed in on a GORGEOUS Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving with my parents means Etaturk, a gathering dating back to my mother's days at Elon College, when the students in the liberal arts forum got together to eat and drink and carry on in a sort of high brow low brow fashion. The Etaturk group and ritual has fluctuated and evolved over the years, but it still involves eating at midnight on Wednesday and dressing up in costumes. You may recall from my previous post how much I love Halloween. Well, I love it so much, I do it twice!
Does this costume look familiar?
My sister with her roommate, Tierney
I love this photo. It looks like some bizarre 19th century French play
Mikey giving a traditional toast
Larry in a turkey coma. Not sure why he's got my wig.
My favorite thing about doing dinner Wednesday night is that Thursday, when everyone else is cooking and being busy, we just laze around and eat pie, cozy in the knowledge that we're loafing while people elsewhere are working hard.
The ceremonial Thanksgiving morning MFK eggs. The ceremonial pie has already been eaten.
Friday I was back to the grind a bit. I spent about 6 hours launching the fundraising campaign for my album from my laptop in the dining room. It was sort of grueling, but it really needed to get done. If you haven't heard about this already, check out our page: http://www.kapipal.com/thepictureandtheframe, and - no pressure - maybe give a little if you've got it.
So once the work was done, I got back to the serious business of having fun. Mom and I made dinner with some help from Haley and Sunil. The idea was to use up everything in the fridge before disbanding the next morning. I think we did pretty darn well. There was left-over split pea soup, more turkey, ham, and stuffing. Mom made a nice mess o' greens, and I made a what's-in-the-fridge soup that was out of this world. I was inspired to make something vichysoisse-esque with the leftover mashed potatoes and cauliflower, but that was just a jumping off point. I added leeks, turkey bacon, white wine, and a little buttermilk, and it was divine!
Mom makes greens next to my magical wonder-soup
Sweeties. I forgot to mention they made a souffle and some cornbread.
The Spread, aka, Larry Carves Another Turkey
I would be remiss if I did not mention a couple more things before I draw this to a close. We have a time-honored tradition at Etaturk of writing an illustrated verse about each year, in the voice of Etaturk himself, the turkey king. It is presented before dinner by the artist, Renny Johnson, and the bard, none other than Larry Bechtel (though Larry took up the mantle only a few years ago). Here is ETA XLV:
The other thing I thought important to acknowledge was the presence of our canine companions:
and Buddy, who lost his leg to a flock of angry geese.
I love me some Halloween, y'all. I might love it more than Thanksgiving or Christmas. I love any occasion to get dressed up in a costume (which sometimes encompasses Thanksgiving too, in my circle). This year I didn't go as big as I have in the past. I was a bit more conservative with my spending, plus Alex had to work, so some of the grander plans were set aside. We had planned on going as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, but I could hardly be Zelda on my own, so I wore a different dress and called it Roxy Hart.
I lead a blessed life. I truly do. I live in a place with the most perfect climate. It's been just Fall-y enough lately to make me comfortably feel like it's Autumn, and I have been riding a wave of non-stop awesomeness. Let's just talk about the last 6 days, shall we?
Saturday I woke up early-ish, and for the first time in quite a while Alex didn't have a meeting on Saturday morning, so we had a lovely brunch at The Village Idiot. Then we went to the Beverly Center to pick up his new suit from J. Lindberg (which he looks extremely handsome in). He went off to a screening of his film at the Arclight (!!!), while I did a couple errands. We met up with some of his friends at The Cat and the Fiddle for drinks. It was the bar's 30th anniversary, so there was free champagne! We had a tasty dinner at Loteria Grill. I like that place, but $9 for chips and guacamole seems a little steep to me.
Sunday morning I packed mimosa supplies and chocolate chip cookies, and met up with my Picture and the Frame bandmates at our friends Justin and Clarissa's place to take some photos in their pool for our album cover. The water was freezing, but I was having a great time until the waterproof camera proved not to actually be waterproof. We'll be trying again in a couple of weeks, much to Rickett and Mark's chagrin, I'm afraid. We were so close, but we didn't quite get there before the camera ceased to function. But the shots we got convinced me that it was, in fact, a great idea, and worth pursuing.
Yes, I know it's October, but I live in Southern California, so summer doesn't really end until about this time of year. This weekend was the first time in weeks it hasn't been ungodly hot. It's always such a relief when the heat breaks. The sun shines, but the air is cool. At the farmers market everything is in season, from peaches to pumpkins. Here's how I've been spending the waning days of LA summer.
Movie screening in Barnsdall Park with illicit wine and dinner from the Dosa Truck. The film was "Drive." Nothing like magic hour on the lawn of a Frank Lloyd Wright house with a curried potato burrito, a Bulgarian red, and a wonderful man.
Hanging out with some of my buds at Nick and Lindsay's new place.
My biggest achievement: finishing the move. It's official now - Alex and I really live together. There's no going back now. So long 503!
Given that I came upon this one night while I was moving my stuff out, I don't think I'll miss it.
I just got back from a weekend trip to San Diego, and man was it great. Lauren, a close friend of mine from William Paterson, is having a baby, and the shower was a Sunday brunch in San Diego, so Alex and I decided we might as well make a weekend of it. It was short, but lovely just the same.
We stopped at a gluten-free restaurant in Encinitas on the way down to get some cupcakes for the shower (and also a chicken pot pie, pizza margherita, cinnamon roll, coffee and tea for lunch). Really good stuff. In LA, gluten free baked goods tend to be vegan as well, so it was refreshing that 2Good2Be did not have that hang-up. That cinnamon roll was bangin'!
We arrived at Hotel Solamar at about 4, after a little snafu at the hotel next door. They had a sign that looked very similar! We checked in, made ourselves comfortable, then changed into our evening attire. We enjoyed the complimentary wine service in the lobby. Pretty decent Torrontes. Our dinner reservations weren't until 9:30, so we changed into our bathing suits and got drinks by the pool.
We had a little swim in the heated pool, then another costume change, back into evening attire, and walked to dinner.
Wow. Life picked up big time. I have been so busy! I feel like this is the first time I've sat still in weeks. I've been working three or four days a week. Things are ramping up with The Picture and the Frame. I'm trying to fundraise for the album. And if that wasn't enough, I moved in with my boyfriend. Figuring out how to fit two people's stuff into a one bedroom apartment has been challenging to say the least. We were going to wait until the end of October, but we decided to just go for it, so I've spent the past couple weeks packing and schlepping. I have to be out of my apartment by the 30th of this month, so I've been doing as much as I can on my days off and even after work in the evening. Yikes! As you can imagine, pretty much everything else has disappeared for a little while.
I'm actually in a pretty good place with the moving process. All my stuff is in the new place, and it's mostly all put away, but I'm down to the odds and ends that don't have a place yet. I even registered to vote at my new address!
So much for a week off. It looks like I'll be working Tuesday through Friday this week, but I think that's probably a good thing. I've really got to shake off this laziness. And, you know, make some money. I had a nice extra-long weekend though.
Wednesday I went to yoga for the first time in a couple weeks. It was a wee bit challenging, but it felt good. I did a volunteer shift at KCRW for their pledge drive in the afternoon. It was fun. The phones weren't super-busy, but it was nice to be there and meet other KCRW members. And there were delicious macaroons!
Thursday I got together with Helene. She picked me up from the auto shop where I was getting my oil changed, and we went for a nice long lunch at Figaro in Los Feliz. I got the spinach and salmon salad, which was good, but the lemongrass dressing makes it look as though it's full of boar bristles. Not the most appealing visual. Helene got the steak tartare, which was delish! We talked about music and fundraising, and film and fundraising. We were going to go to a movie at Los Feliz 3, but the service was quite slow at the restaurant so we decided, rather than hurry, we'd just get dessert instead. So we ate a light, fluffy piece of cheesecake and some chocolate mousse, and discussed why a mutual acquaintance of ours sucks. I was a little overstuffed by then. French food is a bit rich for me, but boy do they know dessert. We strolled around a bit, looking in the cute boutiques on Vermont, wishing we could afford to actually shop there. Then we browsed the shelves at Skylight Books, and I ended up walking away with Rick Steves' "Europe Through the Back Door," a travel guide that's going to help me plan my next adventure. So far, Rick's gotten me through the UK and Spain, and hasn't let me down.
Friday morning I got up early. I liked my first volunteer shift so much, I decided to do another. I toughed out the early wake-up so I could be in the studio when "Morning Becomes Eclectic" came on. No magical opportunity to talk to Anne Litt or Jason Bentley presented itself, unfortunately. Afterward, I trekked back to the East side, and went to another yoga class, this time with Tony himself. Great class, but I'm still sore. I went to see my little buddy Greyson, and my bigger buddy Jessie. We walked down to Wrap Express (which is way better than the name suggests) and got lunch. I had a veggie plate that included brown rice, grilled veg, hummus, and some kind of garlic sauce. I got them to give me corn tortillas, rather than pita. They had something I'd never seen before: rose hip juice. It tasted like a less-sweet version of tamarindo. I liked it. Greyson made friends with a nice little boy named Nicolas, but then he got all cranky, so we had to hurry back to the house to feed the voracious little beast. Jessie got him down for a nap eventually, so we had a few minutes of undistracted time to have a grown up chat. Jessie's such a good mom. It's definitely not easy.
After leaving Jessie's, I went to a place I fear over all others: the mall. Alex wants a bathrobe for his birthday, so I'm trying to find him a nice one. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the mall? The whole place smells of the most cloying perfume. As soon as you get away from the smell, someone walks by wearing the wretched stuff. You can't escape it! At least it wasn't crowded, but I didn't find what I was looking for either.
I met up with April, her sister Allie, and Maree at Dtox spa in Atwater Village for their monthly happy hour. It was pretty cool. I got a great stress relief massage (the perfect solution to mall stress), and there was lots of free wine and snacks. The DJ wasn't so good, but oh well. After we'd all had our treatments, we went next door to Bigfoot Lodge, but we were all pretty tired, and April had to get married the next day.
Saturday was a big day. I got up early again, and Alex took me, ehem, the long way to First Entertainment Credit Union to open a savings account. He's ever so proud of himself. We tried a new place for breakfast - Modern Eats on Rowena. It was alright. Nothing out of the ordinary. The Picture and the Frame had a short but strong practice. Rickett hooked up his old guitar amp as a vocal monitor for me, and it sounded pretty rad with the reverb turned up.
I went to my voice lesson, then jetted out to Simi Valley for April and Loren's wedding. It was really really nice. They were very low-key about the whole thing. They really just wanted to have a party, but I thought they had a good balance of sentiment and light-heartedness. The bride wore apple green, which I loved! And interesting delicious (virgin) shrub cocktails were mixed up by Wunderbar.
Sunday morning we got up early and drove to Santa Barbara to cash in a wine tasting voucher I got from Travelzoo a while ago. It was for Rideau Vineyard, which had a semi-obnoxious New Orleans theme, but really solid wines. I legitimately liked all 5 or 6 wines we tried, even the whites. Our guide was an older Irishman named Shay, who is basically Alex in 40 years. They were pretty much wearing the same outfit. He gave us a little tour of the vineyard and told us about the varietals they grow there (all Rhone), and the grafting of European varietals onto wild American root stock that saved wine grapes worldwide from extinction. Really! A bug that attacks grapevine roots devastated vineyards across Europe, but wild grapes from Arkansas were resistant to it. So even the finest of French wine grapes have American roots. Go USA. Way to be good for something.
This was my favorite part of the trip:
Ponies! Little teeny fat ponies!
AND little teeny mini donkeys!
After the tasting we went into the charming little town of Los Olivos for a late lunch. A little too late for me. I was already cranky. We had gazpacho at a charming place that used to be a hardware store, and still retains the name.
Those are garlic blossoms, by the way. No bigs.
We were still hungry, so we went down the block to Los Olivos Cafe for a second course. I was rather set on that place since I went there in 2008 with Nik and Nate on the way back from Outside Lands in San Francisco. It's not quite as swell when you can't eat gluten, but the tapenade was fab.
It took forever to get back to LA, but on balance it was still worth it for a beautiful day in the California countryside with my honey.
I've only been back to work for two weeks, and already I'm on vacation! No big deal. It's only a week hiatus. Gives me more time to blog! Seriously though, I've got plenty to do. I've got a fundraising campaign to launch!
My band, The Picture and the Frame, is gearing up to record a full-length album with a wonderful producer - Raymond Richards, who also produced Local Natives' debut record "Gorilla Manor." This is a fantastic opportunity. We've already recorded two tracks with him, and they sound great. The trouble is, we have to figure out how to pay for the rest of the album. That's where the fundraising comes in. We're in the "pre-launch" phase of our campaign, with the help of a site called Pledge Music.
If you'd like to hear the first cut from our new record, you can listen to it and download it for free here: Just push the blue download button.
I got out of work pretty early on Friday, and headed over to Rickett's where we sat with ice packs strapped to our heads, listening to mixes of "Are You Really (Gonna Be Mine)." I'm pleased to report it sounds awesome.
On Saturday, we listened to mixes of "Okay," which also sounds awesome, and is available to download. for free. right now. Right now! Check it out! Friend/like/follow/subscribe/hug us and stay up to date on the exciting things we've got going on these days. We have a few show dates coming up in the next couple of months, and we would like nothing better than to see you there. We will be going back to the studio soon as well, and we'd like to involve you (yes, all of you!) in the process.
Tuesday night marked the successful completion of my first episode of multi-camera sitcom work. I am pleased to report that I didn't screw it up. It was a busy episode with lots of (crying) babies. Another couple episodes, and I think I'll have a handle on this whole sitcom thing. An added bonus: the stages are air-conditioned, so I've been spared from the heat. Down-side: I've been eating too much crappy food! I ate Peeps, people. Peeps! And Abba Zabbas. I couldn't even tell you the last time I ate candy. What is the matter with me? Damn, it feels good to get a paycheck though.
The other big news since I last blogged is The Picture and the Frame have been in the studio with Raymond Richards: badass producer and awesome guy. He's played with and produced some amazing local bands, including Local Natives, and now he's producing our record. We tracked on Saturday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and heard a mix of "Are You Really (Gonna Be Mine)" today. It sounds so rad. I can't wait for you all to hear it!
Yesterday was my last day of funemployment. I can't believe it! So much I planned to do that will have to wait til my next bout. I've been packing it in these last few days, by which I mean eating and taking lots of naps. I'm ready to work though, no question. Somewhere around a month ago I passed the point where I was getting things done in meaningful way. Inertia starts to set in when you don't have to be anywhere at a particular time. I'm looking forward to some structure! Remind me of that in a few weeks when I start complaining about work, will you?
I plan to continue the blog, although I may change the name to more accurately reflect the alteration of my situation. Any clever suggestions?
Wednesday was all about preparation. So many tasks I've been putting off... but first I met up with Helene in Larchmont for a cuppa and a chat. Then I ran an errand for Alex that included stopping by Paramount to see him. I brought him some cobbler, 'cause I'm awesome.
It's amazing how much you get done when you know your time is limited. I did 4 loads of laundry, washed the dishes, watered the plants, read the script, washed my car, made my lunch for the next day, and even had time to watch the last (available) episode of "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency."
I got up at 5 am today. I haven't done that in a while! It's such a blissfully easy drive to Universal from my place. A girl could really get used to this. Everybody on the show seems very nice, and I like the other folks in my department. Things were a little squirrelly today, but didn't seem so bad to me. Of course, this was my first day on a multi-cam show ever, so I have no frame of reference. There's a lighting guy on the show that I've worked with on a number of things, but other than that, it's all new faces. I had a nice surprise at the end of the day: I ran into Rick, an effects guy at "Raising Hope," by the Backlot Cafe. Yet another person I miss from "Hope."
I had some ideas about doing something social this evening, but decided it was too hot, so I made frozen yogurt instead. These peaches are just off the hook! I blanched a couple of them, blended them up with a couple dollops of Greek yogurt, a squirt of agave syrup, and the last splash of sage vodka, and stuck it in the ice cream maker. Heaven!
With the end of my funemployment fast approaching, I've been trying to fit in as much fun as possible. Sometimes it's just really hard, you know (sniff), when there's so much great stuff to do. Saturday, I planned to go to the I Shot Rock'n'Roll event at the Annenberg Space for Photography to see Raphael Saadiq and Band of Skulls. Well that was a total bust. I drove all the way over to Century City and waited in a huge line of cars for 15 minutes, only to be told when I was almost to the front of the line that the event was full. I get it, it's a free concert, but it was RSVP only, not to mention two hours before the event even started. Maybe don't take so many RSVPs. What's the point of an RSVP in that situation? I was one of probably a thousand or more people that got turned away (that were already there). This is the downside of all the cool stuff to do in LA: squillions of other people want to do it too. You have to show up hours before it begins, effectively dedicating a full day to your evening plans. I get really frustrated with that.
Rant aside, I was actually not too hideously bummed out. There was tons of other stuff going on that night. I called Alex to let him know what was going on, since he was supposed to meet me at the Annenberg, but he didn't answer...and then I didn't hear from him for an hour and a half, and he didn't actually show up until about 8 pm. By this point, I was hideously bummed out. So much for all the other stuff we could have done.
We ended up, after much chastising, going to Mo-Chica for a rather late dinner. I've been wanting to try that place for a while, especially after hearing the chef, Ricardo Zarate, talk at Evan Kleiman's panel at the library recently. I must say, it was a little hit or miss. The ceviche Carretillero was outstanding with big chunks of tangy seabass and a couple different kinds of corn. The causa de congrejo - a pretty little layered puck of mashed potatoes, avocado, and crab - tasted fine, but was rather uninteresting. Likewise, the papa a la Huancaina was beautifully presented, but ultimately sort of boring.
More about Mo-Chica and other exciting stuff after the jump.
My final 15 hours in Virginia passed most pleasantly. The birthday brunch extravaganza had been cleared away by paid professionals. We bid farewell to Kathleen, Travis, and Grace. Major sad face. I stuck around the Pinkerton house for some afternoon chill time. The kids played in the sprinkler while the grown-ups unwound a bit with cold, malty beverages. I had forgotten what a nuisance mosquitos are in Virginia in the Summer. Or I guess anywhere other than the dry Southwest.