Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On How I Let Go

The best way for me to clear my head, get over something, gain some new perspective or reground myself is to get away. I am not saying I flee the country never to be seen or heard from again, but I go somewhere to do something new so that I may come back (in this case return to conventional society) afresh. 
This weekend (spurred by the pressure of a three day weekend and the imperative to make it memorable), I got a Zipcar, called upon a dear friend, and got up, up, and away. 
Where we went:                                   


What we did:
Drove a Prius to a place we didn't know existed 
Meditated about 5-6 times throughout the course of the day                      
Expanded our lungs with deep breathing                                                
Got a massage that made me understand the illogical phrase, "when it hurts so good" 
Saw people dressed as fairies, yogis, ravers, crunchy hippies, and many, many very loved babies                                                                 
Savored the best chai I have ever tasted (all real ingredients, no powder mix involved)                                                                               
Learned about the dangers of perma-culture and the powers of being a warrior                                       
Was inspired to eat more kale and do more yoga                                    
Felt freedom, felt love. Felt groovy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Baking in The Morning

I forbid to wake at the sound of an alarm on most of my days off. I like to allow myself to get up naturally.  On mornings such as these, I like to put off the workout for a little bit, make coffee, and read, but today I baked. Mom's recipe for granola was on the refrigerator door and all of the essential ingredients were in the pantry, so how could I not? Warm granola embellished with coconut, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries and drenched in yogurt.  The day is off to a good start. 

RECIPE: Grandpa John's Granola
1. Pre-heat oven to 325, lightly grease a cookie sheet (I use spray Pam).
2. Combine in a large mixing bowl: 
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds (I used pumpkin!)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Feel free to embellish (today I added coconut shavings into the mix).
3. Combine separately:
1/4 cup canola/vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract 
and mix. 
4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix until the honey has saturated and lightly sweetened everything!
5. Spread onto baking sheet evenly. 
6. Bake for an hour or until the oats are nicely browned.  Be sure to turn the granola at various intervals to make sure it is evenly baked. 
7. Let cool and yum. Eat while thinking of your Mom. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On A Blessing in Disguise

During the week of finals, my car bit the dust.  Its timing belt broke and it was all over from there. Engine damage etc, etc. This impromptu expense would have been fronted by my Dear Dad, but being stubborn, and hopefully a bright, young thing, I refrained from accepting my parents' money. I am a big girl. I am in graduate school. I can handle my own problems.
So much was happening all at once when school was ending.  Aside from completing of my first year of Planning School, I moved, I got a job interning, and I lost my primary form of transportation.  At the time it was overwhelming, but in hindsight, I feel like I have gained so much.  I have moved from zipping about in a car to zipping about in my beloved scooter or I take the Metro or I WALK (WHA? In LA absurd?!?!?!).  Resultantly, my wallet has gained purchasing power--more money for yoga classes, concert tickets, books, films, eateries, oh and of course savings! I find myself in a more present state of being.  Each day passes and I feel more aware of my surroundings, my timing, the elements (what feels like a warm, sunny day will always feel blustery on the scooter's mind blowing speed).  I say hi to people on the streets.  I see the same stranger on a regular basis. (He commutes when I do.) I experience the city in ways that I have never done when I was in my second-home errrr . . . vehicle sitting on the 10 in traffic.  I think I am calmer. I feel happier. I recognize that I own a very fun bike.  I have pushed away my old habits of not really experiencing.  I have signed up for Zipcar.  Oddly, through loss, I feel like I have the world at my finger tips.  Through loss, I have and will discover new things.  

Ps Honk when you see a girl in a pink helmet out there cruisin'.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On How I Belt

I have been doing this thing for awhile now. I wear a belt over my top layer--be it a scarf or sweater, I belt it all in.  I was inspired by J. Crew (what else?) years ago and here I am today in the office in a floral print dress, cashmere cardigan, and a skinny belt to rope it all in.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On What I Will Wait in Line For

A: Wurstküche
Q: Worst what?
A: Wurstküche: the finest purveyor of German sausages, Belgian frites, and Belgian beers in all of Los Angeles. Located on the other sides of the tracks (literally, and in a sense, figuratively).  The German/Belgium eatery springs up out of nowhere in the funky Arts District of Downtown---an area of the city that is 50% desolate and 50% too hip to be forgotten. It's affordable, it's trendy, it's tasty, and totally worth a visit. 
Q: Worth what?
A: Wurstküche

Friday, May 20, 2011

On How I Like to Spend my Free Time

I am soon to be headed off to a yoga class with a friend.  Never a time poorly spent when partaking in vinyasa.  Actually, yoga with a friend might be on the top of the list when it comes to things I like to do with my free time.  Like my great friends, yoga has taught me profound, yet subtle lessons since I began its practice. By standing up tall, stretching my spine, bending my knee deep, engaging my pinky toe, sucking in my ribcage, breathing deeply, tucking my tailbone, and relaxing my shoulders; I oddly find mental transformation.  Yoga is the only physical activity I can think of where you get fit while slowing down.  Impossible? No. Incredible? Yes. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

On The Wonder of Discovering NEW Music

Finding new music is like finding buried treasure. Like a modern pirate on the Seven Seas, I scour Itunes, looting and burning until I come across a sound that I would like to keep.  To perfect a playlist is to hold a perfect gem in your hand.  It the closest non-pirates (like me) come to finding a chest laden with gold. The more you listen to a playlist, the less brilliant you will find it.  WIthin the moment of discovery lies the essence of music, which is magic. 

On What I Want Strapped to my Feet

I used to think clogs were so done. I had a pair of Hanna Andersson's Swedish clogs when I was in middle school. I used to wear them with striped tights and I am sure I thought I was making a fashion statement.  Those clogs have since found their way to the bottom of my closet in the my house back in Connecticut.  Unless my mom gave them to charity or a cousin that will never wear them.  Today, I find myself here in California with a case of clog lust.  Turns out Jeffrey Campbell has modernized and sexified the homely Dutch girl shoe.  These will be mine.  It is only a matter of time. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On What Makes a House a Home

Aside from other things, I used some time this weekend to spruce up the apartment.  I urban gardened.  I got down and dirty in the kitchen with a sack of potting soil, clay pots, an assortment of succulents, and some mixed herbs.  We now have an heirloom tomato plant on the windowsill, along with a healthy amount of cilantro and basil.  Another windowsill is graced with succulents in a row. My country roots and my inherent green thumb (thanks Mum!) are forging a path in this city. Maybe LA is starting to feel a little like home. Dare I say? 

On The Ideal Weekend

This weekend has been nothing short of satisfaction--I have tended to some much needed to-do's (haircut) as well as been able to indulge in a healthy dose of R&R.  Yesterday alone, I got up at my leisure, made coffee with the French press, read for pleasure on the sofa, took a 9 mile run with the MK, made homemade chicken noodle soup, put my feet up for an extended amount of time, and later saw a movie (Bridemaids).  The hilarious movie was followed with a walk to go get ice cream.  Saturday satisfaction. Ah! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

On Emails I Send to my Sister

I send ridiculous emails to my sister. My latest was of this photo: 

The subject said: Did I do that?!?! 
The body: Love, Urkel. 

On How the Polaroid is Not Dead

Instant photos are alive and well. My wall can prove it. Fuji has crafted an Instamax camera that produces instant photos about the size of a credit card. At about $1.50 a picture (order the film online), I am able to bring back the bygone large square Polaroid.  The photos are complete with a strip of white for recording that special moment caught on film.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On What's in My Sack

I carry around a "Mom sack" it is the University of Southern California's version of the LL Bean Boat & Tote. Unfortunately, when pack up for the day, I am most likely not gearing up for a sail.  What I currently tote:

Homemade salad for lunch which is light, fresh, and the perfect combatant of the post-lunch dragging feel. 

My slim Crooks & Castle wallet.   The compact home to my identity.

Gum. Gum chewing keeps me alert and confident. Onions sometimes make their way into my homemade salads so this is purely for the sake of office etiquette.(Why this I make this specific gum choice has been mention in a prior post! Check it!)

My pleasure read of the moment. It is summer after all.  Even though I am working, I break up the Metro commute with a good novel. I am only 12 pages in, but am purely amused. This book is going to be good. Rumor has it Franzen kinda dissed Oprah's Book Club. Tahaha!

Monday, May 9, 2011

On a Weekend Highlight

This past weekend was fantastic! I fit in some yoga, some biking and running. I shopped for new office clothes.  I went on a special date, and I attended a local event that showcases artists and designers The event was called UniqueLA.  Hosted in the California Market Center Penthouse (Fashion District DTLA), hundreds of artists gathered to show off their wares, sell some crafts, and hang with good music and good food.  I got a great knit hat, a bric-a-brac brooch thing for the Moms (Mother's day was Sunday for you suckas that forgot to praise your mama!), a tee shirt from MNKR (that has a swear word on it! Go me!), a free CD and canvas bag, and many ideas for future arting and crafting. Time for me to get out my glitter, glue sticks, and puffy paints!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On The One Year Mark

I have been living in Los Angeles for exactly one year now.  I cannot even believe itI have only just begun to discover all of the little treasures that this massive metropolis has to offer.  I have been compiling a list of eateries to visit in the city because, in my opinion, there is no better way to take in the sights and sounds of a place than by doing it while breaking bread, and in true Janell fashion, sipping wine. 

Eatery Wish List: 
Mozza (Highland)
The Trails
Fig & Olive (I have been in NYC, but have yet to check out the newly opened LA satellite.)
The Farm Shop (Read about it in the NYC Times, my mum sent me an enticing article.)

There are many, many, many more, but these are on the top of my list. If anyone out there wants to make it happen and accompany me to scope these places out please let me know! Summers are for exploring and wining and dining! 

 The places I have been (sometimes multiple times) and love (and will return to, yet again):
Urth Caffe The coffee is rich and strong. It is nice to sit with a friend and get a French Press of the Scandinavian Blend. I am a sucker for pastries and happen to like their Green Tea Muffin even though, at first, it sounded odd. Expect a crowd, more so at the Santa Monica location than on Melrose, but the weekends are kind of crazy which signifies that the place is good. My breakfast pick would be the multi-grain waffle with fresh berries while my lunch choice would be a combination of 1/2 an Urth Salad (the not so ordinary house salad has feta, chick peas, olives, hearts of palm) and a cup of the Veggie Chili with an Arnold Palmer for a beverage, and of course, sit outside. 
Huckleberry Another cafe that draws a crowd. I am in love with their breakfast sandwich.  The egg is perfectly runny and the bacon is always well cooked, but not too crisp. This is perfect when paired with a mimosa. I had the best birthday lunch here. Request a heart shaped butter cookie to go or some other goody from the pastry case.  You can indulge later and make your visit linger. 
Alcove I have been here a dozen of times and will keep coming back. It is the spot MK and I frequent post long runs in Griffith Park. We sit our sweaty selves outside so as not to bother the other diners. Mark had a legendary faint at this place, but I am pretty posi he would revisit Alcove with their big salads, paninis (the turkey/pesto I crave from time to time), and their breakfasts which are served all day (there is a good one with egg whites, greens, toast, and chicken breast grilled to perfection). 
Umami Burger Trivia Q: What are the 5 tastes? I don't think I said one word the entire meal because of how good my truffle burger tasted. I am the type that eats burgers every other month. Umami may have served me the best burger I have ever tasted (close contender being The Neighborhood in San Diego).
Larchmont Bungalow My neighborhood haunt. I make it a point to get to this cafe once a week: to grab a pound of locally roasted coffee to make at home, for a quick fresh OJ and a morning muffin, or for an afternoon iced Chai with a shot of espresso aka Dirty Chai.  Sometimes I spend hour here sit with my Mac Book or the New York Times.  I have tried their claim-to-fame Red and Blue Velvet pancakes (get the half order). Yummy! 

LA and I together one year later. Some much yet to do. So much yet to taste.

Monday, May 2, 2011

On Malo Mondays

I anticipate Mondays. Weird. Malo has made Mondays doable, in fact, enjoyable. There is nothing quite like a ground beef/pickle/cheddar hard taco and a Negro Modelo after a day of work. Throw some chewy chips in there and wow! You have yourself a night. On Mondays, I stray from my water + salad regime and let my hair down for some tacos. It's about time you join the club, especially, if you are asking "what are chewy chips?". . . 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On Wishing I was a Brit

Somedays I wish I was a Brit speaking with a thick Cockney accent. . . or maybe just a Kate Middleton kind of Brit.  She looked absolutely stunning in her wedding gown on 4/29. Cheers to her for bringing back the full sleeve. Strapless is so last decade/prom/club-esque. If I was Brit I would be able to use words such as: gaff, bollocks, fag (*in lieu of cigarette), arse, lift (aka elevator), dodgy (instead of sketchy), and pram; not to mention spend my holidays as pictured above.