Friday, June 28, 2013

Stealing, sort of

Clevelandia sage is my very favorite for cooking, but none of the nurseries around us stock it. It grows in the hills around here, so the last time we went on a hike I ripped a couple of shoots out of the ground and carried it home. I have such a deeply ingrained fear of getting reprimanded that I kept expecting a ranger to show up and ban me for life. Highly unlikely, given the number of hikers who blatantly disregard the no dogs rule on that particular trail.

sage transplants
{sage transplants}

I planted all three cuttings and one month later it's clear that one is dead, one is perfectly happy and the one in the middle is still uncertain. There are probably tricks to make you more likely to get a good outcome, but the shotgun method works too.

Really looking forward to having our own supply of this sage. I think once it takes it will be sturdy enough to survive my halfhearted gardening efforts.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reading, lately

A brief list of things I have read in the last couple months, along with some very sketchy reviews of each. I normally only show you the good stuff, or at least only the new stuff, but this time I'm doing an unedited list. Heads up - it will be random. I have no book selection system. 

The Family Fang +
Comedic story about a family that is really, really into performance art. It is quick, engaging, silly.

The Road +
Do I need to describe this one? Pretty sure I'm the last person in the world to get around to reading it. Short apocalypse novel, beautifully written.

Friends Like Us -
Novel about quirky twenty-somethings in New York, friendships, relationships, cheating. Not my thing. I just couldn't deal with the characters and it depressed me.

The Sisters Brothers ++
My favorite book from this round. A highly stylized totally ridiculous Western satire about two hired killers. There isn't a great way to describe it but let me just say that the cover wasn't the best part and the cover is pretty excellent.

A Visit from the Goon Squad ++
Almost everyone loved this and few people were meh (were they tired of hearing about how awesome it is?). I ended up loving it despite all the hype. Lots of interlocking stories, a literary device that I'm almost always on board with, even when I think I should be over it. I enjoyed the controversial chapter that was a PowerPoint presentation, but then, I spend a lot of time with PowerPoint.

The Red House +
I like Mark Haddon in general, and this didn't disappoint. Quick read, dry humor, exploration of family relationships (set in the pressure cooker of a family vacation) that I always find interesting. 

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving +/-
Not sure whether to plus or minus this one. I fell for the story even though I felt a little suckered doing so. The main event that the narrator keeps referencing is depressing and pretty obvious, despite how long it takes for it to come out in full. The narrator can be difficult to like, which in theory isn't an issue for a story but I couldn't decide whether I was okay with it or not here. I can't decide whether to recommend it. Bonus points for the somewhat madcap road trip. I think I'm convincing myself that I like it more as I write this. 

The Age of Miracles +
Semi-science-fiction-y novel about the world slowly ending. I'm sucker for good stories about adolescence and I enjoyed the backdrop here. Thompson Walker does a great job of making the (terribly implausible) premise seem completely normal. 

Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail) +/-
Not the most literary memoir I've ever read (note - also not the least) but the story is great. Hiking solo! Survival skills! Pain! I really want to go on a backpacking trip this summer but I'm not sure it's in the cards (vacation days, you wily beasts!). Reading this at least helped make me feel like I was being outdoorsy. 

And the murder mysteries ... Ones with asterisks are re-reads. I'm a chronic re-reader, especially if I start feeling stressed out. I know it seems odd to re-read mysteries, of all things, but I've always done it. It's the curse of growing up a fast reader with a limited book budget, I guess. 

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner
The Inspector Lynley series is one of my favorites. British, serial killers, loooong books, perfect for vacations when you want an involved story. Read them in order! The individual books can be hit or miss. I guess that could be a deal breaker given the length of the books, but I tear through them so it doesn't bother me to have the occasional miss. 

Not my favorite. But if you loved Gone Girl (I was only lukewarm on it), you might want to give this a try. It's a twisty page turner, for sure. 

And When She Was Good
Laura Lippman is sometimes compared to Tara French (who I really enjoy) and she's generally a good read but not one of my favorites. This one is about a suburban soccer mom who just happens to be running a secret high level prostitution business and has some trouble with a former crime boss. A bit twisty, entertaining. 

For the Sake of Elena *
Inspector Lynley again. Not the best in this series, but you kind of have to read it if you're already invested. 

The Falcon at the Portal *
The Amelia Peabody series is one of my all time favorites. I've read them all a million times. They hit several sweet spots. Humorous murder mysteries set in Egypt in the early 1900s with a British protagonist. Again, read them in order. 

He Shall Thunder in the Sky *
Amelia Peabody again. I was feeling nostalgic that week. 

To Fear a Painted Devil
I haven't read much Ruth Rendell but I think I might pick up a few more. If you like Agatha Christie (I read every Christie ever published the year I was 13) you'll like this one. 

The Caller
I'm not a huge fan of Norwegian crime novels (don't hate me!) but I do like the few Inspector Sejer series books I've read. They are mildly creepy and bleak, but tempered by the warmth of the main protagonist. 

I'm currently on the waitlist for a couple of library books and I need to find a few more to add to the queue or I'll end up re-reading Harry Potter again

Note - I do use affiliate links when I link to Amazon on the blog, because it's convenient and I was already linking to them before the affiliate program was offered. If you end up purchasing I get a (tiny) commission that I usually put towards my photo hosting but sometimes towards happy hour. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of affiliate links, you can open a new tab and search for the book/item by name. And don't worry, I can't see who is purchasing stuff. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Walking in LA

Lauren, my cross country internet spirit animal, does an annual trek down the length of Manhattan and I've been wanting to imitate her forever. You discover different parts of a city while walking, even if you're taking the same streets you use everyday. LA might not be the most walkable city, but I'm constantly arguing that it's not nearly as bad as most people seem to think.

There was a Ciclavia event scheduled for Sunday and we decided to take advantage of it and walk the entire length of Wilshire Blvd. We started at Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica, where I was so excited to get going that I neglected to get out the real camera. We treked solo to Fairfax (9.5 miles) where the street shut down began and then continued with the mass of cyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders on the 6.5 mile stretch to where Wilshire dead ends directly into the One Wilshire building (also not pictured. I should be fired from this blog.).


wilshire closed!
{wilshire closed!}

oasis theater
{oasis theater}

palm shadows
{palm shadows}

westlake theater
{westlake theater}

stand and deliver
{stand and deliver}

the 110
{the 110}

I thought we'd stop for lunch at Fairfax but the food trucks were mobbed and we opted for ice cream instead (side note - they were out of birthday cake flavor, which is obviously the best choice, but I made the best of it and tested out the new circus animal cookie flavor). Powering through ended up being a good decision. It would have been tough to get started again after a break.

It was great to get a chance to check out all the interesting buildings and murals that we normally speed right past. Our legs and feet were pretty dead by the end, but it wasn't anything that happy hour at the Border Grill couldn't cure.

I'm not sure we'll manage to make it an annual event but I definitely feel victorious.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cooking every (week)night

I'd fallen out of the habit of cooking on any kind of schedule and it was starting to wear on me. I know I'm perfectly capable of planning meals and making a weekly grocery list but I just couldn't dredge up the energy. So I made the somewhat impulsive decision to jump start myself by committing to cooking a different meal five nights a week for the month of June. This was largely dictated by the fact that I found this four week meal plan* and realized that I could execute the cooking without having to spend any time pondering it. It's the pondering that gets me.

We're just over two weeks in and I can tell you that cooking five nights a week is officially too much for the two of us but because I'm stubborn I'm sticking to it, mostly, and just eating leftovers for breakfast and lunch.

(not) meal planning
{(not) meal planning}

pasta and tomatoes
{pasta and tomatoes - recipe here}

udon and pork
{udon and pork - recipe here}

lemons and potatoes
{lemons and potatoes - recipe here}

ready to roast
{ready to roast - recipe here}

{prepping - recipe here}

ravioli + white wine
{ravioli and white wine - recipe here}

I think it's working. I won't say that all these recipes are my favorites but they're quick and simple and some will definitely end up in rotation. All I do on Sundays is check the pantry and figure out what items I want to buy where (weekly shopping lists are included with the plan). There's significantly more meat than we normally eat, so it's killing our grocery budget, but I can survive that for a month. It's completely brainless, which is exactly what I needed. But I think I'll be ready to go back to real meal planning next month.

* You have to download the shopping list and then click through the slideshow to get to each recipe to print it out. Yes, it is annoying that they don't have it all in one PDF. Just open the recipes in new tabs and print everything out in order.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


taco tasting
{taco tasting}



Circe + D, spring cleaning
{Circe + D, spring cleaning}

cornmeal muffins
{cornmeal muffins}


freshly picked
{freshly picked}

We've been doing lots of eating and lots of cooking. Finally got the herb garden re-planted (third time in two years?). Hopefully I'll remember to water it. I'm better in summer because I'm motivated to go out there more often.

Circe came for a quick visit. Poor girl is going through a grey period while her undercoat falls out, but she'll be her usual spotted self again soon.

Made a big batch of cornmeal muffins and added a bit of diced rosemary before baking. Perfect.

We are (really, truly) going to cut the cable next week. It's decided. I'm hoping that transitioning during summer will be easier and we'll magically become people that eat outside and have long conversations instead of sitting at the coffee table and getting teary during RuPaul. To prepare I went through our DVR and wrote down what series we record and then figured out if/where we can get them and how much it will cost to do it. Even if we pay for the premium stuff we'll still be saving money. I'll report back.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wedding weekend!

I love it when people I love get married, partly because they frequently have awesome friends and really good parties. We were up in Oakland over the long weekend to see two of our favorite people get married and the whole weekend was packed with good stuff but I only took pictures of flowers. Sorry. Rest assured it involved multiple bars, competitive three legged racing, a mid-ceremony improv performance, catering from Mission Chinese and 3 am post-wedding karaoke (not all on the same day).

K + W asked us if we'd be up for doing their flowers and I jumped at the chance. I am in no way a professional florist but I can fake it as long as the expectations are reasonable. They gave us a color scheme and requested that the flowers be alive and that was it. Done. D and I hit up the San Francisco flower mart early Saturday morning and loaded the entire trunk of our car with flowers and then turned our (ludicrously tiny) hotel room into an assembly area. We used every surface in the room, including the bed.*  I was in heaven. D was, if not exactly in heaven, an enthusiastic accomplice.

hotel room florist
{hotel room florist}

flowers in the elevator!
{flowers in the elevator! - bouquets}


table arrangements
{table arrangements, boxed}

table setting
{table setting}

small arrangement
{small arrangement}


I couldn't have done it without the expert advice I got from dear Kristin. She is the sweetest. Thanks, lady!

I'd never made personal flowers before so I was nervous about the bouquets but I'm happy with how they turned out. I realize you can't see them very well because I took all the flower photos in the elevator on our way to the car. Whoops. I'm not sure how professional florists get them so perfectly round. I watched at least ten YouTube videos and still couldn't figure it out. Practice, I guess.

Boutonnieres are so fun to make that we had to set a timer and cut ourselves off so we'd have time to shower before the wedding. D started contemplating a small side business taking orders from high school prom-goers.

K + W - we love you! (Also, please consider moving back to LA because we miss our Top Chef nights)

P.S. If anyone knows what these crazy flowers are, please let me know. They're my new favorite. UPDATE - they're helichrysum! Thank you!

{unknown flowers}

* We laid down sheets of newspaper to protect the bed while we worked and I bagged all our floral waste and took it down to the dumpster myself. Using the room as a make shift floral shop is one thing, expecting the maid to clean up all that greenery would have made me feel like a complete asshole.