Sunday, March 29, 2015

a few of my favorite things....

Inspired by the 50th Anniversary of "The Sound of Music" this year, and the fact that I need to get back to blogging (no matter how short and sweet), here is a quick hit of a few of my favorite things lately:

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways HBO Series

This was actually one of my favorite things of 2014, but I never got around to writing about it. So here, in honor of it being released on DVD April 9, is why I love it:

  1. It's directed by Dave Grohl, who can do no wrong and is quite possibly the coolest guy on earth.
  2. It stars Dave and the rest of the Foo Fighters.
  3. It tells the story behind every song on the Foo's Sonic Highways album. Watching the series, which takes place in each of the eight cities the album was recorded in, you literally see and hear the songs being born. Each of those cities was chosen because they are part of the history of music in America. And now, as I listen to the album, I'm reminded of each of those stories. It was just an amazing, inspiring and educational premise.
  4. There is an episode set in the French Quarter of New Orleans. 'Nuff said.
  5. Because Dave interviews Dolly Parton in the Nashville episode, I was able to trick my mom into watching an hour of Foo Fighter awesomeness.... and she liked it! 

Live Music

This is and always will be one of my favorite things. There is nothing like being in the presence of people who can take instruments and make magic come out of them.

I kicked off my 2015 concert series last night with one of the most amazing musical magicians around, Jonny Lang, who started off in 1997 as a blues-guitar prodigy with a deep, soulful voice coming out of a scrawny blond kid from North Dakota. He's now a veteran at 34 (ha!) and last night at The Canyon in Agoura, he and his band made some amazingly awesome sounds come out of beautiful guitars.

Coming up on the concert calendar:

  • Fleetwood Mac  @ The Forum to check it off the concert bucket list since this will likely be the last time they're all together
  • Bette Midler @ Staples Center (Mom's Christmas gift)
  • U2 @ The Forum -- I'm only going once this tour, I swear!
  • Foo Fighters @ The Forum 
  • Idina Menzel @ the Hollywood Bowl -- GNO with Erin and JZ
  • I will also be going to the Bowl to hear the score of my favorite movie performed live Labor Day weekend. I'm so excited! 
  • And there is also the chance that I will cave and buy a last minute ticket to Maroon 5 @ The Forum this Friday.

(FYI, The Forum is NOT one of my favorite things, yet I sure am going to be there a lot this year. Ugh.) 


This was my favorite movie of 2014. I was crushed that it was not nominated for Best Picture by anyone. I don't know if it was the hiking, the beauty of nature, the being away from everything, the searching for something, the writing in a journal every day, the anger at disease striking a beloved mom or all of the above, but this movie spoke to me. I'm now reading the book, because BKF said I should. (If I ever finish it, I'll let you know ;) The movie comes out on DVD/Blu Ray this Tuesday.

My Garden

It's in full bloom and the weather is great. Next weekend, I'm uncovering the patio furniture and filling up the grill's tank and going to buy a lounge chair. I want to spend the summer out there reading (when it's not 100 degrees ;).... and maybe even writing more. We'll see.

a rosy spring

It's definitely spring in my rose garden!

Back in January, when I was pruning and feeding my 25-ish rose bushes, I also laid some fresh soil around each of them for the first time in about 5 years. And can I just say, Miracle Gro does not lie! Their rose soil is amazing! I mixed the Bayer rose food I give them every six months in the fresh soil and it seems like my plants started leafing within a week and buds started to grow shortly thereafter. 

I have one giant red rose bush that always shoots up to around 5-6 feet tall. But this spring, there is another rose bush on the other end of the garden that's giving it a run for its height supremacy. (It hasn't bloomed yet, and I can't remember what color it is, but I'm hoping for pink :)

Overall, everything seems bigger and healthier and the flowers are budding like crazy! Even my little annuals that are in the garden near the roses are thriving vs. dying, which is a miracle considering how hot it's been and how few days I'm allowed to run the sprinklers these days.

I love my garden! It's my happy place :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

random thoughts during the 2015 oscars

Notes from the Red Carpet..

Dakota Johnson looks great and I love that she and her mom are embarrassing each other on worldwide television.

Reese Witherspoon looks amazing. Loved "Wild." My fave movie of the year!

Don't love Emma Stone's dress but still love her and her quote of the night: ".. Bradley Cooper, who I know...he's a normal person." Uh yeah.

Why did Faith Hill cut her hair?

Kerry Washington looks great, as always.

I love Bradley Cooper. ...he's "a normal person" ya know.

I love Chris Evans too. But I love Chris Hemsworth more. Where's Thor?

Fun fact: Patricia Arquette lives across the street from my boss. (And Justin Timberlake lives across the street from my poker hostess with the mostess... I think this "across the street from famous people" is becoming a thing in my life.)

Now on the with Show!

Ok NPH, I have big hopes for you tonight. #nopressure

Thanks Lupita Nuongo for getting me the "teleprompter flub" spot on my Oscar bingo card by saying "And the Actor goes to.." JK Simmons already won an Actor. And now he has an Oscar! "Whiplash" was a crazy intense film and his performance was crazy, intense and amazing! And his speech was also one of the best ever. Call your mom and dad! I love you Juno's dad!

Oh hi Adam Levine. Who predicted "Lost Stars" would get a nomination when she saw "Begin Again" last summer? Oh yeah, that would be me.

I hated "The Grand Budapest Hotel"...just fyi. It felt like it was 10 years long. But it can win Hair/Makeup and Costume, as long as that's all it wins.

Wes Anderson has been making movies for 17 years?!?! He looks like he's only 17.

Ok. Best Oscar Performance EVER! "Everything is AWESOME!" Love you Batman!  Plus, thanks 
for the "Wacky Tux" space on my Oscar bingo card, Adam Sandburg. 

New best quote of the night, from NPH:

"I love that dress. It takes a lot of balls to wear that dress."

(Talking about this woman who won for "Documentary Short Subject.")

Gwyneth Paltrow really likes wearing pink to the Oscars, doesn't she?

The Glen Campbell song, performed by Tim McGraw, was totally sad. Thanks Julianne Moore for the "tears" box on my Oscar Bingo card. Could we have the "In Memoriam" now too so we can just get all the sad over with at once.  #rememberrobin

NPH reenacts the "Birdman" tighty whitie scene. Painful. Part Deux.

Jared Leto in a powder blue tux. No comment. Okay.. a comment... Why Jared, why?

Yay for Patricia Arquette! And yay for her equal rights and wages for women speech! She rocks.

Christian Grey's sister is singing. A song from super songwriter Diane Warren. That is all.

Okay, I haven't seen "Interstellar" yet. But I find it hard to believe it just beat "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Dawn of the Planet of rhe Apes" for Visual Effects. Can someone tell me why?

Anna Kendrick is taller than Kevin Hart. And it's not just her heels, Kevin.

LOVE Jessica Chastain's dress. That's one of my colors! I WANT that dress!

"Birdman" wins for Cinematography. Shocker!

Now the sad "In Memorium." #rememberrobin

Jennifer Hudson's voice is sooo good. Wow.

Best Filming Editing goes to "Whiplash." This is sad, because if "American Sniper" had won, I could have continued my "across the street from famous people" theme, as nominee Gary D. Roach lives next door to my BFF Christina up in the SCV. Oh well...

Great "Glory" performance. More "tears" for my Oscar bingo card.

Idina Menzel rocks. That is all.

So you're telling me John Legend's name isn't really John Legend? It's John Stephens?!?! Mind. Just. Blown. (And Lonnie Lynn? Really "Common"? But can't say I blame you on that one....)

Umm... is Lady Gaga really singing songs from "The Sound of Music," or have I just had too much wine? I mean she has a good voice, but she's definitely no nun.

AHHHHHHH JULIE ANDREWS!!!!  Bow down people. Bow down.

YES! "The Grand Budapest Hotel" did NOT win Original Screenplay. Any of those movies were better. So congrats "Birdman." (Why do I feel that's not the last time I'll type that tonight? #worktweettoclientscomingsoon)

2nd Best Speech of the Night goes to former weird kid Graham Moore, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Imitation Game."  "Stay weird,  stay different." Yes!

And now, the only acting award that could go more than one way.....

Whoo hoo! Eddie Redmayne winning Best Actor for "The Theory of Everything" makes me soooooo happy! Such an amazing performance in an amazing film!

Julianne Moore wins. So well deserved. But why couldn't Matthew McConabeard say "Alright" three times instead of just once so I could win on my Oscar bingo card?

Best Picture... "Birdman" or "Boyhood?" (It shoulda been "Wild")

Birdman. Not a surprise. Have I mentioned that "Wild" was my favorite movie this year? Le sigh...

P.S. None of these Oscar bingo cards won. You suck Jimmy Fallon. Is the Jimmy Kimmel Oscar special on yet?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

goodbye granny

My grandma passed away Tuesday afternoon. And a huge part of my heart went with her. So many memories of my life involve her.

She was my last living grandparent. She was also my first babysitter, and my life-long cheerleader.

When I was a baby, my mom worked in a bank. Granny took care of me every day.

When I was a kid, she lived in a big house on Boy Scout Lane in El Paso. She had three acres in the back of the house, two fenced off for horses and one was the backyard, full of trees and bordered on each side by irrigation ditches that would fill with water a few times a year and flood the yards. But when they were empty, they were an adventure land to my siblings, cousins and I. We'd spend hours out in that yard, climbing the big tree on the side of the house and running up and down those ditches, under the trees, making up stories and battling each other or imaginary bad guys, while Granny sat on the porch watching us.

She had a barn and when she was boarding horses, we'd go out and toss hay to them. We would collect eggs from the chicken coup. She even had a goose that I vaguely remember... mostly because it bit me when I was three and I still have the scar on my arm. I think that goose became dinner shortly after that ;)

Inside the house, we kids would play hide and seek through the bedrooms, hiding in closets or under the baby grand piano no one ever played in the front room and running and/or sliding down the long tile hallway in our socks with Granny yelling at us not to run in the house.

She had a bar that opened from the kitchen into the den and we'd play restaurant with her there, taking orders and filling fancy glasses with water from the bar sink. Her kitchen is also where I developed my life-long hatred of coffee, when she let me and my cousin Dave try some when I was around 6 or 7. It was too hot and gross and I am repelled by the taste of it to this day. We'd also sit at the kitchen table playing kiddie card games -- Slap Jack, Go Fish and Old Maid.

Granny and I shared a love of all things purple. I don't remember when exactly I decided purple was my favorite color, but I do know I chose it because she loved it. For at least the last 10 years, I've called the local flower shop in her town a week before Mother's Day, and three months later, a week before her August birthday and told the shop owner I needed a bouquet "with lots of purple in it." I'm sure after a year or two, that woman at Flowerland in Raton, NM, must have started thinking, "Oh, it's the purple girl calling for her grandma's flowers."

When Granny moved to an assisted living facility a few years back and was giving away a lot of her stuff, she gave me a beautiful tea pot, cups and saucers with purple flowers on them. The set is so beautiful I haven't used it for fear of damaging it.

It's weird... I was in my kitchen on Saturday rearranging stuff in my cabinets to make room for a new tiered platter set I got for Christmas. I became fixated on a top shelf that holds my other grandparents' china and Granny's purple flowered tea set. I rearranged the whole thing so that the purple teapot is showcased in the middle of the shelf.

The next day, my parents told me Granny's health had taken a turn for the worse.

I called her Monday night because I had to talk to her. Two weeks ago I was thinking I would see her this June when I traveled to my cousin's wedding. But it was made sadly clear to me Sunday that that was not going to happen.

She was really groggy and hard to understand on the phone. I told her how much I loved her. She said she loved me too. That I understood.

But I also already knew it. How could I not? No one loves you like your grandma, and my two siblings, seven cousins and I had the best grandma of the bunch.

Monday, January 19, 2015

rob blake's #4 rises to the rafters

Saturday night (January 17, 2015) the LA Kings retired the second of my two, all-time favorite players' numbers.

Rob Blake's #4 will now forever hang in the rafters next to Luc Robitaille's #20, in addition to some other guys you may have heard of named Dave Taylor (#18), Rogie Vachon (#30), Marcel Dionne (#16) and Wayne Gretzky (#99).

Rob's jersey retirement ceremony included 30-ish of Rob's ex-teammates standing by to honor him, with Luc, Kings GM/Rob's current boss Dean Lombardi, current Kings Captain Dustin Brown, and Rob's defensive partner Mattias Norstrom (who flew in from Sweden) speaking about him and his accomplishments both on and off the ice.

People mentioned his records as a defensemen (that Drew Doughty will probably break). They noted he's the only King's defensemen to win the Norris Trophy (Drew will do that eventually too). And they spoke of his Hall of Fame induction last November. But that's all public knowledge.

Dustin Brown, who was beginning his career as Rob's was ending, spoke of how Rob set an example for the younger players like him and Anze Kopitar of how to carry oneself as an NHL player and how to be a leader.

And Luc spoke of how Rob, even when he no longer played for the Kings, paid for Kings season tickets for a family who's three children had muscular dystrophy. The family had attended one game as guests of the Kings, and afterwards while visiting the team in the locker room, the dad told Rob that the game that night was the happiest he'd ever seen his kids. Rob called up the front office the next morning and bought them season tickets that year, and continued to do so every year until, sadly, the kids had all passed away. But that dad -- Luc noted -- was in the crowd Saturday night to see Rob's number go up in the rafters.

That story, my friends, is why I love hockey and hockey players. They are just good guys. And in Rob's case, a good farm boy from Simcoe, Ontario, who made it to the big time, worked hard, developed a booming hipcheck when a shoulder injury made it too painful for him to check the normal way, broke a lot of records, won a Stanley Cup (with the Avs), and stayed humble.

Here's Rob's speech that demonstrates a little of that, and how he feels about his teammates:

The view from Section 205: 

#4 rises to the rafters

Close-up of #4 before being moved over next to #20

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

o holy night...

Saw this on social media today and wanted to share tonight...

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope,
the Spirit of Christmas which is peace,
and the heart of Christmas which is love

After the last few months in America, I think that is especially poignant.

And speaking of poignant, here's a clip (posted on Facebook earlier this week by one of my former colleagues) of one of my favorite scenes from a show none of you probably remember called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was created by Aaron Sorkin and starred Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. I loved it, but after a much-hyped debut, only about 10 people ended up watching it, so it only lasted one season (2006-07). But it was really good. And this Christmas episode was an amazing hour of television. As someone who loves New Orleans and am still shocked, saddened and ticked off by what happened there in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, I love this classic Christmas song -- performed by musicians of New Orleans led by "Trombone Shorty" -- while it breaks my heart at the same time.  Enjoy and remember to count your blessings...

portland, p to d

Before my trip to New York for New Year's, I figured I should write up all the fun I had in Portland, way back in September. 

Yes, I'm a slacker... I'm really sad how much my blog was ignored this year. But the bright side of my slacking is I thought of a really fun way to document my trip, hosted by the awesome Z's (that's JZ, KZ and RZ.. plus Portland Bella ;).

So just what did I do in P-O-R-T-L-A-N-D? Let's take a look, in un-chronological order:

"P" is for Pittock Mansion

Jenny (that'd be JZ to you), and I hiked the Wildwood Trail in Portland up to the historic Pittock Mansion on Day 3 of my trip. I've decided if I move to Portland, this is one of the places I'd like to live. Why? Well...

It's a mansion (my reasons for wanting to live in a mansion should be self-explanatory after seeing this photo ;)

Or this one, AKA the view from the mansion, up on a hill above Portland

But if that's not enough, it also has beautiful gardens, with Dahlias, my fave (but in this photo blurry) flower.

It's patio has these cool PURPLE and clear tiles, bringing sunlight into the basement

And there's a little house in the garden for Little Green Alien, who LOVES Portland (but that's another story, to be told if/when I finally set up his Facebook page), and had a ton-o-fun with RZ!

"O" is for Outside

.. which is a lovely place to be when you visit Portland between April and September (after that, it's cold. I don't like cold, so I guess I'd have to make Pittock Mansion my summer home ;) 

In addition to hiking the previously mentioned Wildwood Trail from the Audubon Society Visitor Center uphill to Pittock Mansion and then down the hill a little bit past it...

..we also drove to Hood River on Day 2, making a quick pit stop on the way at the Columbia River Gorge's famous Multnomah Falls, which we hiked to the very top of on my last Portland trip.

In Hood River, a cute little town on the river, we walked along it's cute streets into cute little shops, one of which is where I bought two cute Christmas ornaments made of pinecones, an owl and the porcupine at left, and some fancy soaps for RZ and me.

Hood River will also always be remembered as where I finally convinced / bribed a certain 9-year-old bookworm to read the first Harry Potter book, even though she was sure she wouldn't like it. (Two days after I got home from my trip, an "owl" from Amazon delivered the whole 7-book series to her house, which she read in approximately 3 weeks... and then re-read. Let's hear it again RZ, "You were right Kim. I love it." Yes, I know I was.. but I digress :P). 

"R" is for restaurants

Portland has gooood food (it's #5 on the top #40 US cities ranked by their food list). While I spent a lot of dinners with the Z's family and friends, we did go out to Sal's Italian Kitchen after our Hood River day, where I had a great lasagna and glass of Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. 

We then went to one of the hottest spots in the city, judging by the line around the block: Salt & Straw. While it may not technically be a restaurant, it was a foodie paradise packed with crazy, creamy concoctions of ice cream goodness, complete with tasting samples! This sampling process was extremely well organized... they had people go out into the line (within the store) and ask what flavors we wanted to sample, then they returned with tasting spoons. So by the time we made it to the counter, we were ready to order. I tasted Honey Lavender, which was a very pretty purple, but had too much actual lavender for my liking. I ended up eating a cone of Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, which -- despite how ice cream with pepper may sound -- was delish! (FYI to LA Peeps: Salt & Straw is now in Larchmont Village... although from the photo, it looks like it's taken over the space where Crumbs used to be, so I might have to boycott in memory of Crumbs :(  

"T" is for (Afternoon) Tea, my favorite meal of any day

To start our Hood River day, we stopped at Medley Tea House Cafe. Medley is a cute little tea shop on a cute street of stores in Multnomah Village near the Z's house. It's locally owned and operated and has a yummy menu. I had the "Fediezeldicker Breakfast Plate," Masala chai tea and a bite of a giant cranberry orange scone we all split.

Then, on Day 4 before I headed home, we had super-fancy tea at the super-fancy Heathman Hotel (yes Fifty Shades readers, that Heathman Hotel ;).

I had English Breakfast tea (but I don't think it was Twinings ;) and JZ and I shared the 'grown-ups' tea tray, while RZ got her own kids "Peter Rabbit Tea" plate (bottom right of the food photos below). The 'grown up' tea tray was packed with warm scones and jam, banana bread and salmon, chicken salad, goat cheese and cucumber sandwiches and sun-dried tomato deviled eggs, followed on the top tier by chocolate mousse, lemon tarts, devil's food cupcakes, a chocolate peanut butter cake and fresh marshmallows rolled in powdered sugar.

"L" is for Lost Lake

At the end of our Hood River day, we took a detour to visit Lost Lake, rumored home to Big Foot, that also apparently has a great view of Mt. Hood that we did not see due to it being cloudy. But the view of just the lake was pretty spectacular!

"A" is for Apple Picking in the "Fruit Loop"

In between shopping in Hood River and searching for Big Foot at Lost Lake, we drove through the Hood River Fruit Loop and ended up at Kiyokawa Family Orchards & Fruit Stand, where we grabbed a red wagon and headed out to the orchards to pick our own Gala, Fuji, Elstar and Honeycrisp apples. I'm only sad that I couldn't bring fruit back into California with me. Fresh apples are the best!

"N" is for Namesakes of The Simpsons characters

Did you know that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is from Portland? If you'd ever visited Portland's "Alphabet District" you might start to suspect it based on some of the street names ;) Here are a few of the character's namesake streets I was able to take drive-by photos of:

"D" is for Doughnuts at Voodoo

And no trip to Portland is complete without waiting 30-90 minutes in line at Voodoo Doughnut. We were lucky and only had to wait about 30 minutes, which was enough time to peruse the menu online and narrow down our choices....

I settled for three doughnuts this trip (clockwise from the one with peanut butter drizzle in the top center of the box shot below): "The No Name" (which was disappointing.. it made me really thirsty.. I think because of the peanut butter drizzle on dry rice crispies), "Butterfingering" (which is exactly what is sounds like, a doughnut with butterfinger sprinkled on top, and was fine) and the "Dirt" doughtnut (which was my fave this trip -- the "dirt" is Oreo crumbles.) The other two doughnuts in the box below were the Z's -- "Diablos Rex" and powdered sugar filled with lemon.

I'd had "Captain My Captain" and "Grape Ape" (sitting next to each other in the case in the bottom right photo below) last trip, and so far "Captain by Captain" (covered in Captain Crunch Berries cereal) and "Dirt" are my faves.

Thus concludes the story of my four-day adventure in Portland, which took 22 times longer to write up than to experience. LOL! If you enjoyed this and ever want to visit, I know a good tour guide ;)