Monday, November 29, 2010

Her for a Day

I want to wear this:And walk around like that girl in those boots, those jeans, lounging in that sweater, carrying that bag. And with that hair. Found this here after seeing a picture from the same spread on Karey's blog .

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was lovely. Lighthearted thanks to all the kids running around, delicious thanks to a kitchen full of good cooks, and warm thanks to the oven heating up the whole house. No pics unfortunately, but I made a crazy good salad which I'll make again at Christmas and post. Promise.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My husband
dear friends
the beautiful work I've gotten to do this year
a healthy body
my parents
sunny cloudy days where the wind blows a lot
authors that write the books that change my life and wake me up
the feast we'll cook tomorrow
change: it always comes
the internet
our gorgeous home
the money to buy everything we need
my nephew Dashiell
my sister Nina
Shakespeare and Shaw
actors that make me want to be better
the quiet of early morning
Vincenta, who cleans our home twice a month
my agents
the moon, the ocean
Lorena who cut my hair recently
leaders who stand up
handwritten letters
time off
the baby that's going to be ours one day
Marc Jacobs
my grandmothers
good wine
Taos sunsets
opening nights
checks that arrive in the mail
the power greater than me that I can turn anything over to
Emily Dickinson
Obie the golden retriever
deep laughs with friends

That was written in 4 minutes. The magnificent Abraham-Hicks folks call that a Rampage of Appreciation. The only reason I stopped at 4 minutes (other than that it made me feel like I was living a Madonna song) is that I need to pack up the car with fixings for tomorrow's meal, get myself showered and dressed and be out of the house at 7:45. But set a timer for your own challenge and get going. You can't help but feel happy when you're in love with your own life. And if you're feeling down, sad, scared, unsure, burnt out, or anything like that I can say from experience this is something that will start to lift you up.

Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Audrey Would Do It

Sky and I had a rough weekend. We registered for, and were given, some pieces of Hermes china for our wedding. We had to buy a couple of extra cups to complete a set we'd registered for. Such haaaaard times!
That's the pattern. Balcon du Guadalquivir. Named after the balconies in Guadalquivir, Spain. OMG it's so gorgeous I could die. I realize it's perhaps the most popular of the Hermes designs but I care not. I am blissfully disproportinately happy to have a few of these for my very own home.
In debating which size cup would be most perfect to drink out of when eating macarons and profiteroles off these perfect plates(I said dainty teacups, Sky wanted the bigger breakfast cups; we've agreed we'll slowly amass 4 of each), we made our way to the Hermes boutique on Rodeo Drive to view our options up close and personal, and suddenly I was thrown off course.

I have a new passion and it is Hermes ashtrays.

I think I have to collect them. I, the compulsive declutterer (except when it comes to pitchers and vases and tea tins and linens and anything made by Heath....) have fallen slave to the beauty of objects that technically have no use in my home. Who smokes anymore? And certainly they don't in my house.

However, if I were to just hold a cigarette, I would certainly want to look like this

and if not out of a gold case, then they come out of a box as groovy as this

Fake smoking habit aside, I find these ashtrays sublime. You should have seen the four rows of them lined up on the wall of Hermes. I'll use them for other things. Sadly they are about $260 retail for new ones and they average around $500 for vintage ones on ebay.

But I am not giving up.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let it B

For some reason I became completely obsessed with the prenatal vitamins I was taking yesterday. I've been taking prenatals for a year, as I've read you should start taking them 3 months before you want to conceive, and we started in January. Then things went a different way, and if you've been here for a while, you know it's been a longer more winding road than we thought. However, I started obsessing yesterday because it feels closer. A lot closer, and the reason for that is this:
Vitamin B.

I am only telling you this in case some of you are going through my most recent challenge on the fertility frontier. After getting my body to have a cycle, after ridding it of all cysts, after joyfully going up a jeans size to allow all of this to be possible, I had a Short Luteal Phase. Meaning my body wasn't making enough progesterone, which means I couldn't hold a pregnancy if I got one, which was not the news I wanted to hear. After a little research, I learned it's soooooo common, and the most common cure? Vitamin B6. 50-250 mg a day.

I took 100 mg for 2 weeks and the next time that luteal phase was normal, healthy, and plenty long.

I grabbed a bottle from Whole Foods that was mid-price range from a brand I'd heard of and BOOM. Total difference. I, of course, am continuing to take it. It's funny because when I asked my doctor about it she was pretty vague. This seems like it should be household knowledge for women. We can make it part of ours at least.

And for those of you curious, I've decided New Chapter and Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins are equally amazing. Rainbow Light lists more of the minerals that Dr. Christiane Northrup likes to see, but honestly, both are incredible, food-based, super-high-quality vitamins that have supported amazing friends of mine who have unbelievable kids.

Here's to the next generation:)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Heart Beth Lapides

I have such aspirations for my blog! Such organization, such regularity, such consistency! I've planned and re-planned the themes, what I'll do every Monday, every Thursday, when I'll post quotes.....I've managed to do exactly NONE of the above. I get here when I get here, and, in my quest to embrace my imperfections, focus on how much I love putting things up here, and do what I can do. For those of you that read, I so thank you. And for those of you that comment, well, you make my day. Honestly.

A loooooong time ago I posted on this beautiful being. And with it I said I wanted to post about inspiring women regularly. I think I've done that, mmm, one other time. I've thought about a lot of candidates though:) However, I went to a show last week that rocked my world. If you don't live in LA and therefore can't get to one of the shows yourself, never fear: you can browse the website and listen to podcasts and it'll be like you were in the room. I'd like to introduce you to Beth Lapides. She takes the "ow" out of "Now". She wrote that, not me.

She does a show called "100% Happy 88% of the time" currently playing at the Improv Lab Theatre on Melrose Wednesday nights for a few more weeks. I'll wreck it if I try to explain it to you, but a hint is that being FINE sucks. Be really happy or really bloody miserable, because they're much closer together than you'd think. And when you're unhappy, confused, scared, don't know where to turn, there are signs from your friend the cosmos all around to point you in the right direction. Beth is a gifted comedienne, and I am not, so I won't try to humorously recount her insanely humorous show, butI will tell you what I love about it.

At the heart of it, I'd say, is the balance between living today, in LA, and being on that Hollywood ride, and at the same time, and perhaps more importantly so, being drawn to and unable to get away from, the sense--no, more than a sense--that the cosmos is a real thing and that tapping into is is muy importante. In fact, everything you need is right there at your mystical fingertips. OMG my thoughts exactly!!! If you head over to her syndicated column (yes, I steered you to a post I particularly like, and yes, she's a yogi---PURR) you'll get a sense of why she describes herself in her bio as "a Type-A free spirit: working hard to let the wind blow her where it will." OMG that's me!!!

I love this woman. She is rad rad RAD. And what I love, too, is that as I drove home, I remembered how much happier I am when I surrender to the part of myself some might call Out There. When she talked about skepticism and then miracles surrounding a particular incident involving angel healings, I laughed so hard I hurt and also thought YEEEEEEES!!! I love when I let these miracles happen, and I am so much happier when I am believing in signs and listening for cosmic cues. I do meditate, I do believe in the Law of Attraction, I do take time every day to connect to and thank powers bigger than me.....and yet I can still get lost. Still think the to-do list is more important than getting enough sleep. Still get scared that so-and-so got the job I wanted---as if the right one isn't coming to me at the exact right time. And on top of that I can be cynical! So so so so cynical! Like rolling-my-eyes-wishing-they-would-shut-up-about-crystals-already-cynical! I love reminders, and I love when they're hilarious reminders, to come back to myself and to let this life be the wild ride that it is, and that we are all so much more connected than it can seem when we're in our pods. I mean cars. And that I love crystals. In fact I want a crystal. In fact I love people who know a lot about crystals. Thank you, Beth, for reminding me of that, and thank you for being an inspiration for where consciousness can take you if you let it.

both images from her site

She runs workshops, she has podcasts, she has a book of haikus, and yes, she even has a blog.

While you peruse her site, I'm taking a trip over to Mystic Journey Bookstore and getting better acquainted with my inner angel listener.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Perfect Purple Plum Cake

Lovely weekend. Had Sky's officemates over for brunch on Sunday. (Hi gang!)I used the recipe in the November Martha for baked french toast and it was delish. Best part is you make it the night before, which meant on the day of I was downright relaxed. Reading the paper while I waited for everyone to arrive. If you know me you know this is about as unlikely as snow in South Carolina, but it can in fact happen!

On Saturday I felt the gods smiled upon me. As I browsed the farmers' market, there, sitting in their neat green plastic baskets, were a goodly bunch of Italian plums. Darker and smaller than their juicy American counterparts (somehow everything in America is always bigger), Italian plums are sweet without being overwhelmingly juicy the way those Americanos can be. Which makes them ideal for slicing, which makes them ideal for baking. So many times I've tried to halve a juicy plum only to be left with emptied plum skin on my fingers and the fruit inside mushed and squeezed and all over the cutting board.

Not so with these little beauties. They slice cleanly down the middle, the pit comes right out, and they're ready to sit atop a light cakey batter which became their destiny the moment I laid eyes upon them.

My grandmother gave me the recipe for this cake. It's not really a cake; it's actually a torte, but we (meaning my family) all call it Plum Cake. Sounds homier than the more bourgeois Plum Torte. I've been amazed since I started making it how many people have traded in their plum cake recipe for this one, I think because it is so delicious and so easy. You can make the batter in less than 10 minutes, then all there is to do is top it with plums and pop it in the oven for about an hour.

My grandmother didn't bake that much when I was a kid that I remember. That was left to my great- aunt Jennie. Giovannina actually, but we called her Jennie. She was famous for apricot upside-down cake, pineapple upside-down cake, strawberry torte (speaking of tortes, and this one you couldn't call a cake--way too fancy. I'll share with you sometime), apple charlotte....she was the baker at every holiday, which is when I saw her and my grandmother. We'd travel to New Jersey which is where my parents met when they were in high school and where my dad's family still lived, and if it was Thanksgiving we'd spend it at Jennie's, if it was Christmas at my grandparents'.

My grandmother was famous for her leg of lamb, turnip mashed potatoes, and green beans that even kids devoured. She's Russian, and grew up in Africa and Paris, and her cooking is beautiful and simple. Elegantly simple. Perfectly simple. She's one of those women who never seems to overeat, has her glass of wine every night, and has been the same size her entire adult life. My grandpa was happy with coffee ice cream for dessert, and half the time Jennie and my uncle Stef were over for dinner anyway so I guess she didn't need to be taking sweet things in and out of the oven.

But now Jennie and my grandpa have passed away, and my grandmother divides her time between my aunt in Philadelphia and a condo near my dad in Taos. She has a couple of Italian plum trees in her backyard in Taos, and necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. Or at least adaptation. With so many ripe perfect plums my grandmother found a recipe for a cake that would show them off.

When I saw the plums in the market I did a happy dance. We were going to friends' for dinner, I was on dessert duty, and I was feeling a little crunched for time. I made the cake, it was fab as always, and my friend even said it was like one of his mother's cakes, which apparently is a giant compliment. So here it is.

Plum Torte
from my grandmother Nina Lora
I'm not sure where she found it.....

3/4 c sugar
1/2 c sweet butter
1 c unbleached flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
2 eggs
24 (approximately) halved pitted Italian plums
Topping: sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350
Cream butter and sugar
Add flour, baking powder, salt and eggs
Beat well!*
Spoon batter into 8" or 9" springform pan
Place plums skin side up on top of batter
Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon
Bake for 50 min to an hour**


*By beating well, I mean beat til the batter is good and spreadable. At first it will be thick and stiff. Keep going. It'll still be thick but much, if you will

** Or if you have an antique oven that likes to get really hot even when someone comes to regulate it periodically, bake at 325 (or however much you're used to adjusting yours) and tent with foil if the top starts to get too brown.

***And lastly, I have made this with regular plums, I've made it with plums and nectarines--you really could put anything on there that strikes your fancy. I happen to find the Italian plums particularly suited, and it's how my grandmother always does it.

photo taken before topping was sprinkled and before cake went in oven. And oops! forgot to take a picture of the finished product. You know me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

O yeah Ojai

Sky and I hid from Halloween this year. We had big plans to be at what I'm sure was an amazing dance party, but having danced quite a lot and drank, I'd say, gallons of champagne at a swanky New York black tie wedding the weekend prior, we were done. Plus we realized we really didn't know anyone at this party, so would we rather hang out with each other in sweaty costumes or in plush robes at a spa? Maybe we're getting old but we chose Exhibit B: cancelled the party plans and booked a room last minute at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. There are deals to be had when you're spur of the moment my friends!

A gorgeous 90-min drive up PCH and inland a few miles and we were there. It takes me longer to get to Hollywood some days. This was waiting for us in our cozy room:

It says Happy Anniversary since when they asked if we were celebrating anything I said it was a belated anniversary since I guess it kind of was. But I'm the girl who celebrates my birthday for a good month.

In case you haven't heard we've been having summer weather in California, which is kinda nice since we didn't have it this summer. So this sun is as warm as it looks out our window

On Sunday we rented bikes and rode to the farmers' market. The market was so pretty and just like when someone makes you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich it tastes better than yours, this market, though so much smaller than my gorgeous ones at home, captivated me. Their heirloom pumpkins were particularly perfect.

And they have some incredible vendors that don't come down to LA, including Ojai olive oil which has one gazillions of awards over the years. We brought a bottle home of their signature variety which is strong and grassy like I like it, but I think I NEED a jar of the olive oil face cream. My skin won't weather the harsh California winter without it.

We also came back with insanely delicious raw agave-sweetened chocolate which Mimi has been making for 30 years. Can you say Fig Truffle? Can you say Fig Truffle with a fig truffle in your mouth? Maybe I'll show you that picture sometime.....

Then there was Mt. Olive farm which had lovely jams and salad dressings as well as fresh juices including Pine Needle juice which I didn't try because I had so many other tastes happening but I wish I had. They literally juice pine needles and add some lime. Let me know if you try that one at home. I brought home some Shiso Leaf tea which is like a soft version of mint. Yum.
We ate at low-key local joints instead of the fancier hotel restaurant and drove to Meditation Mount on Sunday to see the sunset. But the best part was that we slept for 10 hours a night and were together 24/7 with the exception of the couple hours apart in the his and hers spa. Dressing up as a Laid-Back person suits me just fine.

And then, since you know this is on my mind a lot, I'll say that we each had a crazy wild moment of feeling how surreal it is to think that when I do get pregnant there will be a period of time where we don't know it. Only the powers bigger than us and that soul that will be our child will know it. You just can't test right away which means there is biologically built into our lives a window of waiting in the utter unknown. How magnificently mysterious and brilliantly engineered is that?