Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Winner!

Doing well in Jacinda's yearly Oscar pool is something I can take pride in (how do you not end that with a preposition?).

Victorious, once again this year!  I was successful with 19 of 24 categories chosen correctly.  I think last year I only missed two.  Either I'm incredibly over-invested in this, or I just think like a predictable Academy voter.

Categories I missed:
Art Direction
Best Director
Best Song
Short Film - Animated
Short Film - Live Action

Whoever gets those last two correctly?

I didn't make it to the movie marathon at theaters to watch all the best pictures nominees, but my old Georgetown classmate did and he lived to tell about it.  Go read Gilbert's tale of 24 hours of nothing but film.

This was a high point to end the weekend, though the rest of the amazing belated Valentine's weekend will be shared later.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thrilling Thursday

I managed to score this dress from BR today on a lunch shopping errand - I've been eyeing it since January and it's finally on sale.  Wahoo!

And by the time you read this, I'll be sharing the below with MCB.  Neon food coloring is the way to go. 

My darling friend Erin has the absolute best sugar cookie recipe if you want to recreate.  I also used this cookie glaze receipe and store-bought cookie frosting to write on them. 

Rum Sugar Cookies
INGREDIENTS: (I like to switch the amounts of the almond and rum extracts)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and butter
until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

2. Combine eggs, sugar, rum extract, almond extract, and nutmeg until
well mixed. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until
well blended. Divide the dough into two equal halves. Refrigerate the
dough for 2 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out until
it is 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter cut the dough into cookies
(whatever shapes you please). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking
sheet.

5. Bake 7 to 9 minutes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Across the Sea...

I am currently planning a work trip here:


and a personal trip afterwards here:


Surprisingly, I'm not nearly as excited as I should be.  I think travel planning is finally starting to be more stressful than fun.

I'm getting old.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Arizona Fall, or It's Not 100 Degrees Anymore

Arizona finally cooled off last October and triple digit heatwaves ended. Summer seemed extra long last year. I'm hoping with the extended cold fronts this year that summer will start late!

In October, cousin Julie came to Tucson for her high school reunion, which she found out was cancelled while she was boarding her flight from Utah.  Funny - you never really think about who's responsible and can plan your class reunion when you're 17 and voting for Senior Class President.  Julie did manage to salvage fun times at her 10-year regardless.
We had a family reunion at our Grandma's and once again avoided doing a piano/violin duet like we always had to as kids.  Julie is a genius and knows lots about things that I never will know about. After getting a PhD in some sort of biology research for which she was published in some big study, she's back in school for Pharmacy.  Needless to say, she's been busy for the last decade, but at least she's busy while her military husband Jesse is overseas.  I don't know how they do it!


In mid-October it was time to fly back to LA, mostly to see LCD Soundsystem, but partially to see if my summer romance would continue.  Josh and I found a charming, delicious Italian place in Westwood.
We ran into David Liebe Hart while walking to the show at the Hollywood Bowl.  Apparently this is a big deal and MCB knew all about him.  I still do not because I never watched the Tim and Eric Awesome Show.
We also ran into an Olsen twin; I think it was Ashley.
This was my first time at the Hollywood Bowl and I can't believe it took me so long to get there!  The place was sold out and as soon as Dance Yrself Clean kicked in after the 3 minute intro, the lights popped up and the place jammed out.   Massive dance party.  I love, love, love this kind of thing.  And thankfully MCB is a great dance partner.
After the show we popped into the lovely, new JW Marriott downtown for the rest of the weekend.  It's an unexplored part of LA for me, so I wanted to see what there is to see.  I'm obsessed with (500) Days of Summer, and of course I had to see the bench!




The hotel is right near all the commercialism at LA Live, Nokia Theater, Staples Center, etc.  It was a fairly quiet weekend, hence the ridiculous low hotel rate, and I was glad to see it in a quieter state.  I'll be sure to skip that part of town during Lakers games and American Idol ridiculousness.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Long Distance is Hard, Even When It's Not

When long distance starts to take its toll and it's Valentine's week and you decided in November to celebrate belatedly on purpose at the very end of February and bought plane tickets accordingly during Southwest's sale, then you get in the car and drive the six hours to Cali to surprise your boyfriend.

This is MCB, reenacting the moment that he came out of his house to find me at his door step.  I coordinated to have him call me after his Thursday night adventures at the exact time that I parked on his street.  It worked perfectly and he was extremely happy.
And lucky me, I'm going back this weekend, too!

Musical Monday - Or the Best Musical News Ever in Phoenix

I can't even believe it - it's going to be the best thing to ever come through Phoenix.

Yes, Arcade Fire is finally playing this town, and what makes it even better is that Local Natives are opening!!

The two bands that put out the two best albums from 2010!!!

Can you tell how excited I am?!!

AZ friends - I shall be buying tickets when they go on sale on Friday.  If you'd like me to get you one so we can all sit together, I am happy to do so.






Thursday, February 17, 2011

East Coast, Right Coast, Part II

After a wonderful few days in NYC, it was back to DC to continue the hometown adventure.  First up, a Sutton Group ladies happy hour, which ended up being 2.5 SG members and a dude friend of mine who lives near Eventide.
Then I rushed off to my absolute favorite concert venue in all of America (maybe even the world) - the 930 club to see Menomena with these beautiful people.  Nate is 6'8" and you'd think he'd be easy to find in a crowd.  Well, when you stand up on a platform directly behind him without seeing him first and you're looking for the tallest guy in the room who is now shorter than you - yeah, it took a text to find him.  Doh!
Oh, 930, how I've missed you!  I used to see you three nights in a week on occasion, a short 2-subway stop away from my old home.  Phoenix just doesn't provide the same experience, not even close.  And with Ben's Chili Bowl nearby, it's perfect for an after show chowdown.
The picture below represents Alysia's house, since stupidly we didn't even take a photo together.  I blame the fact that she works too much.
On Thursday I drove to Bethesda to see LB, who had missed our happy hour since she now has a cute kid in the picture.  Lauren and I worked together at Sutton, and since we both had the same name, we quickly assumed nicknames.  She's Bloomer and I'm Dubs.  We lunched at Cafe Deluxe, which never disappoints!
I spent the rest of the beautiful afternoon driving down Wisconsin into Georgetown and to the grounds of my alma mater.  I really did have a fantastic college experience - best decision of my life so far.
Long live 3708 S St!


My favorite stairs on campus, in  Healy Hall leading up to Gaston.  It is stunning.

I wandered down to M St for a little shopping and made a stop at the now famous Georgetown Cupcake, which didn't exist in my day.  I don't watch their TV show, but apparently I didn't face nearly the line that most people do.  And let me tell you - even if there was a line, I would totally wait in it.  Yes, they are that good.  I don't think Key Lime translates well to cake texture, but man, they pulled it off and made it sing.  Wow.  I've been tempted on many occasions to ship myself a dozen.  I just can't justify the shipping costing as much as a dozen cupcakes.  

Back across the river for Thursday night dinner at Me Jana, which turned out to be me and lots of dude friends. I blame it on the fact that I don't have any sisters and don't relate to girls as well.  I like my dude friends!  Even though it makes for awkward dinners when there is very little estrogen around.  I feel bad for them.

After dinner and ice cream, Jan and I hit a bar for his friend's wedding reception.  Yes, a wedding reception on a Thursday night, in a bar, complete with wedding gown and all.  I helped him fend off the drunken bridesmaids.
Friday - my last full day in DC and still so much to do!  I headed to downtown to have lunch with my old roommate Javi (Xavi, if you wanna be all Catalan about it) and his girlfriend at World Bank, where she works.  I thought we had a great cafeteria at National Geographic; turns out World Bank takes the prize.
Javi took the afternoon off (ah, government jobs) and we headed back to the old neighborhood where I lived in the perfect house in the perfect location.  Below, the remnants of Jazzii's hair shop next door, which finally got shut down for some sort of illegal activity, I am sure.
Hotel 314!
The back of hotel 314.  No more used car lot in the back.  And a whole new condo development across the street with a new Safeway and gym and coffee shop and Bus Boys.  Finally, gentrification!
The exposed brick living room that I still miss.  I don't care if that trend is over.
My favorite thing on my walk to work - the soul savin' station!  That, or the United House of Prayer for All People with an amazing cafeteria in the basement.

After I bid farewell to my former residence, I met Robbie downtown at the food truck convention.  Sadly, the lobster roll truck had a 2 hour line or something, and I didn't get to try it.  But look at that baby face that I got to hang out with!  Rob's spent the last two summers in Tajikistan and spends his free time at dinners with Ahmadinejad while trying to put off law school (even though he is in his 3rd year).
Sadly, our reunion was short, as I had to get back out to VA.  First up, dinner with Stephen, a long time Georgetown friend, and his wife Jen.  We had a delicious home cooked meal, then they took me to one of the best little bakeries in Falls Church where I had to buy about 5 things to try.
Then it was rush back to Christian's house to catch a ride out to the Corn Maze, which turned out to be a bit of a failure since we couldn't get out, even after asking the maze helper like 3 times.  Pathetic!
It was nice to experience fall though, complete with fall weather and trees that have leaves that change color.

On Saturday I made one last run into the city to see my freshman year roommate, Ms Angelle for a few minutes, partly so I could retrieve a favorite pair of shoes that I left there on my last visit, two and a half years ago! I amazed she held onto them, and I am grateful, since I wear them all the time.

On the way there, we tried to cut through an alley, and ended up getting stuck in a condo's parking lot that was fenced it.  I think someone pushed a button to make the gate go up, we drove in, realized it was a dead end, but then couldn't get out.  No doors, to way to even walk through the fence, but finally the gate opened.  I think someone watching out a window had a good laugh at our expense.
We hit the Social Network in Georgetown as a last hurrah, then quickly drove to DCA so I could catch my flight home.  All in all, totally perfect trip, so many details came together perfectly, and surely a piece of my heart is still there.  East Coast, I <3 you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

East Coast, Right Coast, Part I

Sitting in my patio chair on the balcony; finally an evening where it's not too cold to be outside sans heat lamp.  I guess AZ isn't so bad this time of year.

Back to the updates....cause I care to document then.

I had(ve) a goal to visit each continent and had hoped to do so by the time I turned _0.  Except Antarctica, because it's cold there, though this story and photos make me want to change my mind.  South America is the only one that eludes me, which surprises everyone since I used to be fluent in Spanish, and it only seems natural that I would go there.  Alas, I haven't been and despite my brother serving a mission in Argentina, I couldn't convince the family to go pick him up, so I was more than tempted to just take off there alone in August or September, just to meet my goal.  After a lengthly internal debate, and deciding it'd be no fun to turn a decade older alone, far from home, I decided to do the next best thing - go back to the East Coast.  It'd been 2.5 years, and flights were a ridiculous $77 each way on American Airlines.  Purchase, please!

At the end of September I set off for a week and a half trip back to DC and NYC, splitting my time pretty equally among the two cities.  I feel ridiculous that my lovely hostess and dear friend Alysia and I never even took a picture together, but after years of not seeing each other, she greeted me with open arms at IAD.  Some things never change - I will never enjoy that airport and I will always love seeing her.

After a grocery run to the HT (I still laugh when I say the name), beginning long stories of life updates, and setting up an air mattress larger than her living room, it was time for sleep.  The next morning was go time - I still feel like I didn't have enough time to see everyone I'd hope to see.

First stop, lunch at the old job!  Thankfully Leash loaned me her car, as it was raining and I don't know how to dress/walk/be in rain anymore.  Several members of the original NGS Sorority Pledge Class of 2006 were still around, and we had a good lunch at the ever famous cafeteria.  No really, other downtown workers always wanted to sneak in cause it's that good (and cheap).
After lunch I drove back out to VA to see if I could catch one of my favorite families ever at home.  They've been traipsing the globe for the last several years, living in Uzbekistan and the Maldives, and are now mostly settled back in DC.  It's weird when your friends have children, and you see these little mini-mes running around.  These girls are the funnest and funniest, and I had some good laughs that afternoon.
Friday morning I headed downtown to catch the Bolt Bus to NYC.  I'd heard it was improved service after dealing with the sketch Chinatown rides for years, and perhaps it was.  At least there was a boarding number, some semblance of a line and fairness to get on. I paid $20 on the way and was lucky enough to get the $1 return.  Can't beat that.
It just so happened that one of my DC besties (I can't help but say that word) had been in NYC on a work assignment for several weeks, and we were able to keep his hotel room through the weekend.  No, he didn't bill it out to a client, but it was convenient that he already had a place and a sweet government rate.

The main reason I chose to go to NYC this particular weekend was the happening of a Tired Pony show - a superband put together by Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol.  They released an album in the UK over the summer (which I had delivered to me via Amazon UK, since I didn't want to wait til the US release a few months later).  A mixed member band of this caliber really can't tour - so they did 3 shows.  One in London, one in NYC, one in LA.  I was determined to be at one of them.  Tickets were 20 bucks to the show, 200 roundtrip airfare, and it was more than worth it.  I got lucky that so many details fell perfectly into place.

Irving Plaza is perfectly located, perfectly sized and beautiful.  You can watch a replay of the Tired Pony London show here.  A new song debuts at minute 17:50 or so; it's a favorite and should be on their next album.  I want to play the typewriter or chimes for them.
My love for Gary Lightbody runs deep.  I love his song writing and bodily twitches when he performs.  And even though I don't love every song that came out of this particular side project, the concert experience is one I won't soon forget.  With Peter Buck in the band, Marketa Irglova from Swell Season singing backup along with Lisa Hannigan (swoon) and Rosi Golan, and then you pull Michael Stipe on stage for a guest vocal, yeah.

My birthday celebration keep getting better and better, and I'm only two days into the trip!  Friday night NYC love started right.  Saturday morning we got up, but not too early, and headed out on a day of adventure.  Hard to believe what Ground Zero looks like these days.  I'd watch the progress from my office over the next few days.

First stop, the Guggenheim.  For the first time ever I decided to actually do the audio tour, since it was included in the admission price, and I finally realized what I've been missing!  Usually I just kind of wander through museums and am ready to leave after 45 minutes or so.  Not so this time.  Or maybe the exhibition was particularly interesting to me - Chaos and Classicism - after the horrors of World War I, the shift away from abstract Cubism and such back to classic themes.  

After meandering the UES, buying photographs from street vendors and having linner, Christian and I split up, and I completed the walk down to Times Square and had dinner with my favorite fun-size Japanese roommate at one of my favorite pizza joints.
Yes, it's overrun with tourists, but you can't help really feeling like you're in New York when you're standing in the middle of it all.
After dinner I hightailed it out to Brooklyn for concert number two of the weekend, Foals.  As soon as you're on the L train, you know you're headed to the hipster enclave of America.  It's grown on me, actually.  I met up with Ari, former Phoenix resident, we grabbed some ice cream then headed to the hipster haven of the Williamsburg Hall of Music.
It was the second night of Foals in Brooklyn, and I was ready to dance.  By the end, people were on stage and there was madness everywhere.  I think Ari even liked it.
On Sunday morning I checked out of our sweet hotel, headed to Grand Central and caught a train to Connecticut to see one of my best Georgetown friends and her two munchkins.  As much as children kind of freak me out, I knew I would love Crystal's when I finally got to meet them.  And sure enough, they are both darlings.
They recently moved from North Carolina to New York, and while it's been a bit of an adjustment, they live near a beach!  It was a fairly nice day so we loaded up strollers and spent the afternoon hanging out near the water.
It's been way too long since Crystal and I saw each other, so I loved that we were able to spend the day together, even if it was low key and filled with the Backyardigans.  It's a nice change of pace.
I really hope to be back that way soon, and I'd love to keep playing Auntie Lauren.

Monday - back to real life for a bit!  On of the nice things about my job is having offices scattered around the globe and the ability to work from almost anywhere.  Conveniently, my friend Jason lives near our office in the Financial District and I stayed with him for a couple nights so I could walk to work.
I spent Monday and Tuesday working while staring out a window at the Statue of Liberty, and had lunches with some people I don't see often.  It was cold and rainy and I wasn't prepared!  Good thing there were shops downstairs in the lobby so I could buy some warm clothes for my walk home.

Monday night date with Scott, a friend from high school, who's now an actor (with a day job) in NYC.  We've been seeing each other on east coast trips for years now, since I moved to DC just one year before he moved to NYC.  Tradition continued at Shake Shack, though sadly indoors since it was cold and rainy.

Tuesday night I hung out with Bryndee at the delicious Westville, in the fantastic East Village, where one sacrifices living space for location.  I still debate if I want to go back to that, but this trip had me inspired to say yes!  And thanks to the magic of Facebook, I got a note from my friend Mark, who's currently living in Queens, and he said he'd be over to see me since I was around his part of town.  He drove across the bridge, met us for hot chocolate and we ended the night at a random pub with banoffee pie for dessert.  Not bad for a Tuesday!

A Long (overdue update on) December 2016

Holidays 2016! At work we continued our tradition of attending a cooking class at Sur la Table. It's an excellent time and I definitel...