Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Le Sigh

"Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris."

This quote is from "The Paris Wife" by Paula McClain.  The book is about Ernest Hemingway's first wife-Hadley. All in all this book kind of annoyed me. I found Hadley frustrating and unable to stand up for herself. But, who knows? Maybe things would have ended up the same way...sounds like Ernest was a bit of a force to be reckoned with and in the end of his was always Hadley that was his biggest regret. Anyway, I'd recommend this book and it was especially fun to read while IN Paris. 

BUT...I digress. This is not a book review. This is an "I miss Paris and want to go back" lament. 

More than anywhere else we traveled...I miss Paris the most. This feeling hits me suddenly on some days. 

Maybe it's because we spent more time in Paris than anywhere else, but it really began to feel like home. There's NO WHERE like Paris. 

It's funny because when I first went to Paris in 2004, I wasn't crazy for it. Paris was OK, but it didn't grab me the way that London (on the same trip) did. Paris is a slow love affair. All things in Paris are slow....the wandering through the streets, the resting in parks, the sipping of wine, the conversation along the Seine. It's a slow's a gradual love...and then BAM. You miss it. You yearn for it. There's nowhere like Paris.

I live in a big city. LA has a character all of its own and I do love it. But, it doesn't satiate my longings for Paris...for strolls through the labyrinth of streets...for lounging under the Eiffel Tower...for crepes on street corners...for delicious and cheap wine...for an easy metro system...for small cafes...for History...for art...for cheese and the best bread you'll ever bite into...for that PINK STUFF. 

Ah, Paris. You have my heart. And it's true...there really is no cure for you. I only hope that we'll meet again one day and I can be lost again in your charm. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthday Camping

It’s funny, because I’ve gone camping more in the last year than in my whole life combined. :P Growing up, my family wasn’t big on camping. I was a Girl Scout as a child, but the troop I was in was more like “Troop Beverly Hills” and we didn’t do a whole lot of camping.  

A few weeks ago (blonde) Gianna and I were hiking and talking about how fun a camping trip would be. It just so happens that Gianna and Preston have birthdays that are very close together (Gianna’s is the 21st  and Preston’s is the 23rd of Feb.), so we decided it was the perfect weekend to go. Plus, we camped on Pres' b-day last year. Maybe this should be made a tradition?? 

Being the planner that I am, I took the wheel on making the weekend happen. I always try to DO and follow up with what I say. I know things can happen, but it really bugs me when people exclaim, “oh we should totally do ____” and then make a big deal of it with no intention to ever GO. I try never to be one of ‘those people’.  ;)

Anyway, I narrowed it down to a few campsites and Gianna picked her favorite. Luckily, Gianna is a planner (like me!), so we spent all week last week mailing back and forth ideas for food/clothes, etc.

Preston and Gavin, of course, just threw some stuff in a bag ;) We hit a small glitch on Friday when we realized we’d missed a key piece of information in our planning…a mudslide.

EVERYDAY for the last 2-3 months, I have passed a sign saying that PCH is closed at County Line because of a mudslide. I had assumed (never assume!) that the campground I had chosen was south of there. However, it was not. The campground was north.

What should have been an easy trip up the coast and through Malibu became an hour detour through winding canyon roads. Blast! I ended up working later than I’d hoped and with the detour, we arrived at the campsite in the dark. Not the most ideal, but we rolled with it.

Funnily enough, another friend from LA was randomly camping two sites over!! Small world!

Preston and I started setting up camp and were warned by our neighboring camper that a group of 30 Boy Scouts would be arriving in the morning. Eek. We decided to stay put, since we had such a great site!

Gavin and Gianna soon joined us. The guys expertly built a fire and set up the tents, while Gianna and I started on dinner. Ah, gender stereotypes ;)

For the first night, Gianna made an assortment of kabobs (chicken and vegetarian) with couscous. It was delicious!

We had bought a few bundles of firewood, but they were going up quickly. It is not allowed in California State Parks to burn wood from the ground. :-/

A couple from across the way came over and asked if they could borrow a few logs. The camp host selling firewood had closed at 8 and they had no way to cook their dinner.  Since we had no wood to spare, we invited them into our camp to share our fire.

I’m not sure if it was chance, or just the fact that you tend to meet like-minded people while camping, but we became fast friends with Haley and Craig. Craig is an accountant and Haley is an aspiring actress. You can catch her recent PetSmart commercial here.

The six of us sat around the fire talking and laughing and drinking red wine (mostly out of Preston's wine satchel!!) late into the night…just until the firewood ran out (don’t tell, but we totally threw in a big stump from back in the woods). Boy, it got chilly…but camping outside in February is nothing to complain about :D

Saturday was the perfect lazy camp day. After the guys got the fire going again (which wasn’t hard with the still smoldering log), Gianna and I got started on some breakfast. We boiled some water, which quickly became ashy and had some hot tea and coffee. We fried up some scrambled eggs and cheese. I learned a cool camping trick online, which is to pre-scramble the eggs. It cut down on lots of mess and broken eggs. :P Haley threw in some tomatoes and spinach, we added the extra kabobs from the night before, and some tortillas to make a respectable feast. Haley had this really cool concentrated coffee mix from Trader Joes and made us all iced coffees. Yum.

Good Morning! 

I also had some banana bread I’d whipped up on Thursday night. I tell ya-bananas rot so fast in our damp apartment. Thank God for banana bread!

After lounging around a bit, we decided to walk over to the beach. It was a beautiful day with puffy clouds and the water was aquamarine. We played around on the beach doing handstands.



Then we decided to walk up the beach and road a bit to see the mudslide. I’m not sure if there just isn’t anything there or if we didn’t go far enough, but we couldn’t see anything like a mudslide. Just about a mile of closed road. Hrmm.

We ventured back to the camp and got some more firewood. Haley fed us all an appetizer of bok choy and shrimp and then we chowed down on some vegetarian chili I had made. It was another great night around the campfire. It was just the right temperature and we got some sprinkles of rain.

Road Closed

The Boy Scouts were mostly well behaved and we had fun listening in on their adolescent conversations, some of which were a bit disturbing and reminiscent of Steve Carrell describing breasts in “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. I can say that given the choice…I’d rather not share two toilets with 30 boys, but I was glad for the camp bathroom anyway.

Haley and Craig were gone before we were up on Sunday, but I hope we’ll see them again back in LA. They live quite close to us!

We packed it up and headed home to watch the Oscars. It was a great weekend of camping! 

We left just before the rain :D 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Recap

Hi there. So, I rather enjoy blogging...more for myself than anything :P, but I'm having a hard time coming up with what to write about now that I'm not gallivanting all over the globe. 

I figure weekends are a good thing to recap...that is, if I actually DO something instead of just lounging around! The constant perfect weather of LA pretty much forces everyone out and about, so things are looking good for a weekend recap. 

Work was never ending on Friday. I left rather drained and exhausted. Preston offered to make dinner, but I decided to reward myself with a recipe from my 'sinful recipes' Pinterest Board. 

Side note: I'm like an obese person trapped in a relatively thin body. I have a terrible relationship with food. I use it as a reward far too often! I blame my parents, mostly (as can be said for most things ;)), since all big life events were recognized by ice cream sundaes at Roy Rogers. :P None of this fares too well for my future as a thin person. I just try not to do it toooo often and I'm trying to rework what my idea of 'sinful food', right now...milk. Milk is a huge sin and I'm a sinner. Big time. 

ANYWAY. I find cooking soothing, so even though I was exhausted...I stopped by Whole Foods (the ONLY place I'll buy meat) and picked up the ingredients for my fabulous dinner. 

This is what I made. I was SUPER excited about it and it was pretty easy to do. Hilariously, as we sat down to eat it...Preston said, "Nothing like good old Hamburger Helper". Dammit.  I didn't even REALIZE that I had just created a fancier version of Hamburger Helper. Haha!!

This a picture from the website

This is a pic of the leftovers I'm eating today. Close enough. 

On Saturday, we drove down to San Diego in the afternoon to see Preston's 'Aunt' Andi. She's not his Aunt by blood, but she's known him his entire life, is one of his mother's best friends, and is as good an Aunt as any. ;)

San Diego is only about 2 hours from where we live in LA, so off we went. I think the most surprising part of this drive was how GREEN everything is!! The rain has made a noticeable difference in the landscape.

Green-ness. Stuff like this here is usually brown and dead.

Andi is the Dean of a nursing school and was in town for a conference. Lucky for her, this conference is held at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. 

The Hotel Del Coronado sits on the tiny island of Coronado just across the bay from downtown San Diego.  It's a beautiful, old place with true Victorian charm. The hotel opened in 1888 and is rumored to be haunted! 

We joined Andi at the restaurant overlooking the water. I got a salad, but Preston got a burger and the best fries I've ever had in my life. We decided this weekend that in the future, I should order what he does, because he ALWAYS picks better than me. 

Though we only stayed a few hours, it was wonderful to see Andi. We were very grateful that she took the time to see us while she was so close!  There was a beautiful sunset and perfect rainbow as we were leaving!!

Goodbye SD! 

On the drive home, we HAD to stop for a milkshake because. Well, because milkshake. 

Sunday morning I met up with my old coworker Marcy. How does one describe what I mean? Marcy's not old...she's just from my last job. Ex-coworker? That makes it sound like we had a relationship that ended badly. Anyway, at this point...she's just my friend anyway. SO, I met up with my friend Marcy for another hike in Malibu.

We chose the Escondido Falls Hike. It was a good, and relatively easy hike. The trail started along a road through some pretty spectacular Malibu 'houses' (cough mansions cough). Along the way, there was a beautiful horse stopped along the side with a rider. As we passed, the woman rider asked us if she could use a phone. Of course, we obliged. Apparently the horse was quite spooked, so I soothed him while she made the call. I used to ride horses and I still love being around them. I got green drool all over my hands from his mouth and I was happy as can be about it. :P The woman explained that something on the trail was making the horse nervous. She reckoned there must be a coyote or something. In retrospect, it's odd that this gave us no pause, but we bid them adieu and continued on our way.

Hiking up and down the paved road, we finally veered off into a canyon. It was a mostly flat trail through shaded forest, which is somewhat unique in LA. The trail was pretty busy with other hikers. After about 2 miles, we reached the end and the 'waterfall'. It wasn't exactly the rushing, gushing image one typically has of a waterfall, but this is Los Angeles...where rain is an EVENT. 

The 'waterfall' was actually pretty cool. It was a whole cliffside full of shrubbery and dripping with water. 

We spent some time there cooling off and watching with horror as people washed their faces in what was probably just run-off water from the dirty, dirty hills. 

All in all the hike was about 4 miles. We stopped again at Malibu Seafood on the way home. I was happy to find that the Ahi Tuna Burger was as wonderful as I remembered!


Once home, I said farewell to Marcy with plans to hike again soon. I headed out for my biweekly grocery shopping trip. I've fully converted to just shopping at Whole Foods. I LOVE Whole Foods. It's the best. Whole Foods is really an innovator and a leader in organic food and lifestyle. 

I know A LOT of people complain that Whole Foods is SUPER expensive and while that can be true (see below)...I manage to consistently do my shopping there for around $100/week for both Preston and me. I LOVE Whole Foods. 

I saw another 'celebrity' there, but I'll save it for my next celebrity round up. I also bought a bunch of game time snacks. Yum yum. One of these was 'organic brownie' mix, which seems like a ridiculous oxymoron. It was also absurdly expensive. So, I will agree that not EVERYTHING about Whole Foods is great. 

Preston and I watched the game from home. What the heck was with the depressing commercials?? I teared up more times than I'm willing to admit. The 'like a girl' one? Omg. Amazing. And thank you. Thank you maxipad company. ;)  I'm not a huge Katy Perry fan, but the halftime show was entertaining. Those sharks! They were the funniest and best things ever!! 

I'm not at all a football fan, but man!! Those last few minutes were SO exciting. I recapped it for my cousin(who foolishly went to bed early!): 

I dunno about you, but I think I have a serious chance at being a sportscaster. Career change??

JULIE! How was your weekend? :D