Friday, April 30, 2010

More from Oz and a Farro Revolution

Sorry I was MIA this week!

I promised I'd show you more poppy photos....

All taken by my super-rad friend Carmen. How are Carmen and I both in some of these photos?? Because as the Holga camera genius that she is she double exposed it and had us trade places: one sits in the photo, the other shoots and then we switch making sure we stand in exactly the same spot as we take the picture. Except the one where we're really close together--I held the camera out in front of us and pushed the button on that one.

Carmen's pictures make me insanely happy. She does the coolest things with light and exposure and composition (you should see the ones of her and her man Chris out in the desert in rabbit costumes). I mentioned this but we were roommates in college: we were assigned to each other and by week 2 we were joined at the hip, going to our first rave together in which we came back to campus at 5am covered in silver body paint and proceeded to spend an hour swinging on the childcare playground near our dorm..... it's been a great American love story ever since. Here's one she took of me and Sky at our Pink Panther engagement party
And lucky you! You can go see more of hers on her flickr page. And if you ask her nicely she'll shoot your party too. Or your next botanical adventure.

And on the culinary frontier....
I am on the food committee for one of my other BFF's baby shower next weekend. Not just any cute baby shower. A Mad Hatter's Tea Party-turns-Wild Dance Party Baby Shower. Kate and Ben aren't getting married so this party is going to be their big one. Along with making my hat for the tea party portion of the festivities I am experimenting with farro salads. I'll be making a trough of it (along with some pretty veggie tea sandwiches). Farro is amazing because like pasta and risotto the possibilities are ENDLESS. I am putting just a wee bit of pressure on myself to have this one be the best one I've made ever. And it's not gluten-free so Sky gets to live on farro for a week as I subject him to my tinkering. Tried one this morning from Zuni Cafe that is simple and gorgeous (cherry tomatoes, basil, pecorino, olive oil); Heidi has one with a parmesan citrus vinaigrette I'm going to play with; I had one at Lou not too long ago with kale and cranberries and goat cheese and I think walnuts that was pretty amazing.....By all means if you have one you love share with me!! Maybe I'll even go crazy and bring 3 different ones to the party.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend in Oz

First of all I want to say THANK YOU to those of you that wrote in after the last post. It means so much to hear from you and I'm glad you want to hear more about all that---I will definitely keep you well abreast. It's getting warm here--I'm ready for it to be legitimately warm---but as it does it certainly has that feel of infinite possibility. So feeling good. I even dreamed the other night I could speak hummingbird. That has to be positive!

LA can feel like Oz. Certainly it feels like important people are often hiding behind curtains. But it's Oz in the best way in that every spring part of this state explodes in poppies. One of my best friends and roommate from college Carmen and I drove out to Antelope Valley today to the California Poppy Reserve and here's what we saw:
Look at that!!! I took that on my iphone thank you very much using an app Carm told me about called Tilt Shift Generator. It's from the folks who brought us Toy Camera. It was so incredibly beautiful out there. If you live remotely near LA and can take an afternoon to go please do! They'll only be around for another couple weeks I'd guess...It's an hour or an hour and a half away, and it's best to go earlier in the day because the little guys start closing up for the night at about 4. Swaths and bands of poppies everywhere
We walked around the reserve itself for a while where you have to stick on the trails, and then on our way out pulled over to some land where we could roam around, sit down amongst the flowers, have a Dorothy moment lying down in them, watch them moving in the wind like a big orange wave. It's probably one of the most photographed places in the state--Carm and I got a laugh over how many people (us included) could be seen crouching down for a close-up of a poppy as though to get the best shot of their lives---but for good reason. On that note, though, Carmen IS actually a photographer and was shooting mostly on her Holga. When she sends hers to me I'll make sure you see them. That's Carmen (hi Carm!)

It is such a good feeling to head home sundrenched and dusty (it's really hot and dry out there---take twice as much water as you think you'll want to drink), driving through the bleached-out hazy LA-getting-warmer light listening to this radio station (which on Sunday nights from 6-7 has a gorgeous show of Mexican love songs), feeling summer coming on with its outdoor music and bike rides....And such a reminder to me to remember to get out of the city. Whatever "city" is to you---the routine, the scenery you know. Drive away, take in some new air, hear new sounds and pull the car over at every beautiful thing you see. The more you notice beauty the more there seems to be of it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Enter Angels

Warning: this post has no photos or recipes

I have been wondering what the right time to post about this very important part of my life would be.....and I just decided NOW. Why not? And of course I'm curious if this is even of interest to you. Do let me know....

I have made mysterious allusions to health issues going on and gaining weight and being sad at times and I am here to end the mystery. All is going great and in the interest that one of you out there might go through this you can use me as a resource.

My bod's not functioning like a healthy lady's. Is this getting to personal already? Hope not. Bodies are crazy amazing things and man, am I learning about mine. Sky and I want to have a family sometime kinda soon and mine isn't up for that at the moment. Part of the issue is yes, I was on birth control forever; but the reason I was is because I have something called PCOS. I will spare you long medical language but suffice to say it's a really common endocrine disorder among women--you can find more info than you can ever keep track of online. More women than ever have it now in cases that range from mild like mine to really fullblown and intense. It's very common to medicate it by putting a woman on the Pill. K so that was me since I was a teenager. Flash forward to now when I go off the Pill and my doctor thinks I'll get preggers right away and that doesn't happen. Not at all. Body not even acting like it's interested. So I go in for tests and the PCOS has gotten a bit worse, the words "fertility treatment" come in and I freak out (hence that post back when). As in can't make it out of the doctor's office without breaking down, sob in the elevator, sob in the car, sob on the couch for 2 days. Freak out ends, the dust clears (this takes a couple of weeks btw) and I decide I'm open to having such treatments if need be but first I'm going to do all that's in my power to do to help my body heal its wonderful self.

Enter Team of Miraculous Women:
Jiling Hu: heads her own clinic specializing in women's health here in LA. Found her through my friend Heather who's one of her students. Dr. Hu teaches herbs at one of the big Chinese medicine schools here (Yo San or Emperor's--I can't remember--Heather?) which excited me since herbs are this whole crazy science I am in awe of. I always thought if I had a second alter ego (because the first is a torch singer) I'd be an herbalist-flower essence expert-wise woman of root, branch and leaf. I know they're so so powerful and I love that she is steeped in knowledge of them. She's super sweet and really good at what she does. If you don't live in LA, fear not. This is a hot topic for many acupuncturists and if you do some research I bet you'll find someone wonderful near you. I'm blown away by the fact that more women need treatment like this than ever and what that says about how we're treating ourselves.

Laughing Sage Wellness: I found this center through one of my best friends in New York. If you have any kind of health issue related to your female hormones I cannot recommend this place enough. Yes, they're in NY and yes I'm in LA. You can work with them over the phone. I filled out the questionnaire online and set up my free consultation call. After talking with Alisa who started the clinic 9 years ago after she was frustrated with PCOS, I honestly felt like an angel had dropped out of the sky to talk to me. I felt so safe and so sure of success with her. In the 30 minutes I talked with her I learned scientifically what's going on in a way I had never really understood and we talked about the spiritual aspect of healing. I need both.

Her 4-month program is all about healing the body through medicinal foods--and of course that's going to vary from person to person so she'll ask you a ton of questions about your body and what you eat and have you do food experiments so she can set up the best program for you---there are certain things I'm not eating at all and certain things I'm eating more of; appropriate exercise--that spinning that I love so much I still get to do but not as often; specific-to-you supplements; and a whole mind/body component I'm just getting into (we've had one call so far---calls are every 2 weeks for 4 months with homework in between) that so speaks to me. Our attitudes and beliefts, in my book, have as much if not more to do with transformation as the physical actions we take. When you work with Laughing Sage you get invited to be part of an online community so stories are swapped, successes shared, questions asked and answered---it's a really cool group of women and there's nothing like hearing from someone that they totally healed whatever it is you have.

Golden Bridge Yoga: if you live in LA you know about Golden Bridge, the magical Kundalini yoga center and school of Gurmukh and her wonderful team. I hadn't done much kundalini yoga--I'm a hatha teacher--but I was given a gift card there almost 3 years ago that I'd never used. I swear last week I was led in there by a magical force. I went to a class with a teacher named Tej, had the most beautiful interaction with her after class, and felt the whole time I was in there that this was RIGHT. There was so much lightness in the room. Then on my call with Alisa she said she wanted me to do more kundalini....I love when things line up and all is in sync! You might try some kundalini classes if you never have or maybe get a video? I think Gurmukh has them and there are certainly other amazing teachers out there. My meditations have been so much deeper since starting to use some of their breath work at home.

So OK, let me know if this is something you want updates on now and then. I know that I felt really alone when this all went down--I knew I wasn't but it felt that way. If I can help you let me know, or if you want more info on what I'm doing let me know. It felt like such a curse at first but it's a blessing: a chance to understand and listen to my body more, a chance to practice deep surrender and faith, an opportunity to connect with women I wouldn't otherwise. And as I take a break from gluten and sugar, I can tell my kids I sacrificed for them:)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sur La Plage

Fantasy Item of Today: Norma Kamali bathing suits. As some of you know if you been reading for a while, I was told by my superfabulous homeopath to gain a little weight. I have done so heroically (it's been liberating actually), yet I'd be lying if I said it didn't bring up some vulnerability in the area of bathing-suit-wearing. I tried one on last weekend and had that moment of fear wondering if I would spend any time at all on the beach this summer and then y'know what? I said F That. I am taking this summer as a chance to be a hot mama goddess at this new size and practice strutting proudly with my pet booty behind me. And lemme tell you if I wanted to spend upwards of $300 on a bathing suit, my honeys, this is what I would wear
Even though women were more oppressed and I couldn't have this blog if I in fact were there, I have always secretly wished I'd lived in the 50s. I have had a love affair with the fashion from that period (and into the early 60s for sure) since I was about 15. So you understand why I've been staring at this since I found it. Plus I think the cut would be extremely flattering for those of us with what we'll call delicious feminine curvy stuff that doesn't mind being tucked in a bit. So in my fantasy world of today I wear this with the hat, glasses, lipstick and earrings (because fancy earrings on the beach in the Riviera are essential didn't you know?), eat cherry tomatoes picked by Giuseppe the gardener washed down with champagne, read crime novels set in that foreign land called LA, and take a 2-hour siesta in my cabana before waking and dressing in Givenchy.
The daydream could also be fulfilled if I wore this

or this

or even this

although this one would definitely be worn by that scandalous 18-year-old who loves to distract Giuseppe and did not have to gain weight this year.

This one I guess is worn by the alien who lands on the beach and teaches me how to drive a race car.....I don't see myself pulling it off......

but if you can then I actually think you should

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Birds and the Bees and Other Facts of Life

So my dears---it didn't go as I wish it had gone. I did not sail through the Mad Men audition with flying colors; in fact, if it were up to me to judge I'd say I kind of tanked. But it's actually not up to me; I have absolutely no idea how I came across to anyone else in the room. I have certainly nailed auditions I never heard another word about, and driven home crying from ones that I ended up getting. Suffice to say I wasn't who I wanted to be in the room; it didn't go according to the gorgeous vision I had of it; and I left feeling really sad and actually really mad at myself. Not necessarily a helpful attitude, but it was mine in the moment, and a fact of life is you get sad and disappointed and mad sometimes.

I was fortunate enough to get to out of town for the weekend which was perfect since I could focus on things other than moi and le audition. But back this morning in LA I found myself very blue. I'd say indigo. Or dark navy. Part of it was the Mad Men thing and part of it was...who knows. A lot of things. I tried being patient and kind to myself and simply let myself have a blue day. Since resisting or judging the feeling just makes it stick around longer. If I can accept it and be my own friend in it, life can usually get in and work some magic when I'm not looking. So I did that but my head kept getting so busy with worrisome thoughts. Then I tried shifting my thinking: looking around and finding positive things about my life to love and appreciate, and that worked too. For a bit. Still the day was Eh. And that's OK. However, it's evening now and I am pulling out all the stops. If I can't move myself into feeling better by myself I guarantee you there is some piece of music that is going to help. So I introduce to you my newest musical obsession: The Bird and the Bee.

I'm sure many of you hipsters know this but B&B is actually Inara George and Greg Kurstin and their most recent contribution to music heaven is a whole album of Hall&Oates covers.

Now remember I posted that photo of me and Juliana dressed up as H&O for Halloween? I have been a fan of Darryl and John since dad used to play the records in the 80s. "Maneater" might have been the first song I rocked out to on the living room floor. And I've been a fan of Inara since KCRW started playing her when? a few years ago? So when you take Inara's dreamy voice and the duo's irresistably groovy sound and put it on the likes of "One on One", "Kiss on My List", "Maneater" (that's on right now and I can barely type because I'm dancing in my seat here), "Sara Smile"....and more...... Well, it's kind of impossible to not be really happy to be alive.

Look at these two

How cool are they??I found this photo, by Autumn de Wilde (go to Flickr and search her stuff: you will not be sorry) on their site which now, of course, I have to spend mucho time on.

Do yourself a favor and download the album. And while on itunes may I also suggest their cover of the Bee Gees "How Deep is Your Love". I don't even really like the original (there I said it), but I'm obsessed with this cover. For all of these songs I get these cravings to hear them at every possible moment and put them on repeat 6 times.

And now I leave you to do just that.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cross your Fingers

So I have big plans for the post I would be doing tonight but someone has an audition for her favorite TV show I'm working on that. I won't give it away but hint hint did someone send Matthew Weiner popsicles and say they were from me??

I'm out of town for the weekend so see you next week

Monday, April 5, 2010

An email list you want to be on

April is National Poetry Month, and if you, like me, have an everpresent if not-that-attended to wish to read more poetry this is your chance. Sign up for the "Poem-a-Day" email here:

There's a box in the lower right you can enter your email and receive a Poem a Day for the month of April. You can stay subscribed and you'll get poems emailed to you periodically as well as announcements from the American Poets Society, or you can unsubscribe til next April when National Poetry Month will suddenly appear in your inbox like a winning literary lottery ticket. What would it be like to be a member of the American Poets Society? THAT seems like a special honor.

I used to subscribe and I think somewhere in an email-address change or mail overwhelm I ended up not subscribed and had forgotten about Poem-A-Day until Easter morning when my friend Alysia sent me this and reminded me:


The rose, for all its behavior,
is smaller than the lifelove it stands for,
only briefly brightening,
and even its odor
only a metaphor.
Or so we suppose
just as we suppose the savior
we employ or see next door
is only some hired man

Marie Ponsot

We never really know what's going on in another life do we?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easy Easter

It's Easter! The lovely thing about having lots of family close by is you can share events. Sky and I hosted Easter our first 2 years back in LA, Sky's mom did something last year, and this year we all congregated at Brock, Kristina's and baby Dashiell's place. He's 5 weeks already!!! How did that happen?? He couldn't tell me.

I didn't buy a new dress for Easter this year but if I were to, I think I'd choose this by Steven Alan
It's so styley and comfy at the same time. Kinda vintage kinda not. I love.

This was one of those lovely affairs where everyone brings something, we eat outdoors, dishes are a group effort, and the whole time felt unfussy, low-key and completely enjoyable. An incredible reminder that every party does not have to be a prep-for-3-weeks and stress out til guests arrive whirlwind. Kristina and her mom made deliciousness, Kristina's grandmother and Brock's mother made deliciousness, my mom made deliciousness (her amazing famous cookies which you, my friend, can and should order in the mail), and, if I dare say so myself, I made deliciousness too. So the day was....delicious! I brought the ginger scones a told you about a few weeks ago (only I ran out of flour so subbed 1/2 c bread flour and a cup of whole wheat flour---a little different but actually reaaaaallly good) and my new favorite thing to whip up: popsicles.

I borrowed the book "Pops!" from my friend Ami and now I must own it. The author is so creative and as much as I want to try most of her recipes I am also in love with all the things she uses as molds---stick-together Christmas balls for example. And silicone pastry molds. The little round orbs the Christmas balls made just make me want to sit on Eames furniture in an A-line dress in a house decorated in pastels. Or maybe if I make them for Matthew Weiner he'll write a part for me in Mad Men! HMmmmmmm.......

I made tangerine/blood orange and mint tea pops from her book and look how pretty they are!

It was funny (right Sky? I wasn't stressed at all was I? Don't answer) transporting them to Brock and Kristina's without a cooler but they made it. I put them in the freezer and after brunch took them to the table, we let them sit in their little molds (pictured) for a bit and after 5 or so minutes, voila.

There's Mom enjoying hers.

Seriously these are the perfect thing for any party. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

After brunch I came home and finally took the stickers off the bottoms of the wine and beer glasses we got as wedding presents. We've used some of them but haven't had a dinner party for 12 yet so those ones we haven't served out of were sitting in the back of the cabinet waiting for me. And now they're guest-ready. Then there was an earthquake! I thought it was the landlord's grandkids running around upstairs because all the pots on my hanging rack were knocking into each other---not in any scary way but more than they've ever done. I couldn't hear the kids up there so I didn't know what was going on. An hour later as I was leaving the house I learned from my landlord the whole house was shaking from the quake in Baja. Dad keeps telling me to move to New Mexico and I gotta say today I wish I had a Harry Potter porthole to get me there. Or at least to get the glasses to a safe cabinet......

And now it's Sunday night; I've got a script to read for a reading coming up; I didn't get everything done this week I thought I would and that gets to be OK for now.

Here's how to make mint tea pops, adapted from Pops! by Krystina Castella

3/4 c sugar
1/3 c loose decaf green tea leaves, or 5 tea bags
12 sprigs fresh mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of edible flower petals

Boil 4 1/2 cups water to a boil. Pour into heat-resistant pitcher along with the sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add tea, 10 mint sprigs, and lemon. Cover and let steep one hour. (I let mine sit longer than this while I went to the gym and they were fine)
Strain into a bowl and add honey to taste
Add a few mint leaves and flower petals to each mold. Pour in tea and freeze an hour or two until the pops are frozen enough that you can insert the sticks and they won't fall over
Keep freezing--at least 6 hours total but overnight is even better
Remove from freezer and let sit at room temp about 5 minutes before removing from molds

In her recipe she uses blanched almonds which would be wonderful---I just didn't make the time for that. Next batch. One of my favorite things about these pops, though, is the mint and flowers floating in the ice. The tangerine/blood orange ones have tangerine segments in them. And you can get creative while they're freezing and kinda manipulate the pieces so they're artfully placed in the mold or, if the pops are darker like the citrus ones, surprise the eater when they hit it. FUN. And warm weather food should be fun.