Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Palm Springs Photo Diary

I just returned from my 2 night stay at The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs for Brian's birthday.  I have to say, it was truly one of the few vacations I've taken in my life where I actually felt like I got to relax and enjoy doing absolutely nothing.  I feel completely rejuvenated!
Here are a few of the photos (with descriptions below):
The drive to Palm Springs was beautiful- the desert landscape was just beginning to bloom with color.
It was Brian's 30th birthday.  Besides the stay at the hotel, I bought him a David Sedaris book & an organic old-fashioned shave jelly (it smells like whiskey & pine trees!) from Portland General Store.
Our first night was spent drinking beer & playing Bingo, which was hosted by an amazing older woman who serenaded people in-between games.  We didn't win (we would have won if the girls next to us hadn't been cheating!), but it was still really fun.
The following morning we woke up early and rented bikes from our hotel (rooms at The Ace include free bike rentals!) and took a 5 mile bike ride around town.  It was a great way to start the day.
We got ready for a day by the pool (lots of sunscreen, straw hats, sunglasses, 'The Collected Stories Of Lydia Davis', film camera, and of course a leopard print swimsuit) and then had brunch at King's Highway.  I had the breakfast ALT, & Brian opted for 2 eggs any style.
After brunch, we spent the entire day by the pool.  Brian even took a 2 hour nap (and I took creepy photos of him while he slept).   Later, we snacked on a mezza platter & a chicken salad.
It was hot outside, but the heat was offset by a cool, spring breeze.  The pool was also pretty much empty, which was ideal for us (and it didn't hurt that they played great music outside).
That night, we were tired from sitting in the sun all day, so we stayed in our room and watched movies & ordered room-service.  We pretty much spoiled ourselves.
This morning we checked-out and had brunch at my favorite Palm Springs breakfast spot, Cheeky's.
Brian had oatmeal (boring!) and I had the smoked salmon & avocado eggs benedict.  It was the perfect end to a great mini-vacation.
Driving away from Palm Springs reminded me just how much I love living in Los Angeles.  Visible in the distance, away from the palm-tree studded, 80 degree desert roads, were mountains covered with snow.  It's pretty amazing that LA is surrounded by so many beautiful and different places that are so easily accessible.  (And the fact that at the beginning of this week I was in Palm Springs and this weekend I will be skiing in Mammoth, is amazing!)
Coming back home is never, ever hard when you have the 2 most adorable kittens waiting for you...I still can't believe how big they are getting!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Music For A Desert Getaway

I just completed a mix for my upcoming 2 night trip to The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs to celebrate Brian's 30th birthday.  We are both in dire need of of an escape from reality (ie: work, school, bullshit).  I wanted a mix that evoked a relaxed, happy vibe but also had a romantic, bohemian, far-away feel-- like driving on an endless highway surrounded by nothing but cacti & dust with your best friend sitting next to you.  I really just wanted something nice that we could listen to while we lounge (in the private Garden Patio connected to our room) & sip desert cocktails.

Song listing:
1. Let's Go Away For Awhile - Beach Boys
2. Spanish Classical Guitar  - Andres Segovia
3. Dreams Come True Girl - Cass McCombs
4. Jesus - The Velvet Underground
5. Un Rayo Del Sol - Le Mans
6. One PM again - Yo La Tengo
7. Stay Where You Are - Ambulance LTD
8. Sara Snow - White Fence
9. Hickory Wind - Gram Parsons & The Byrds
10. Farewell To Earnest - Jyotitindra Moitra
11. Sleep Walk - Santo & Johnny
12. The Girl From Ipenema - Astrud Gilberto
13. Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles - Francoise Hardy
14. He Gave Us The Wine To Taste - Jonathan Richman
15. Walk In The Park - Beach House
16. Die Tonight - Ty Segall
17. The City In The Sea - Crystal Stilts
18. Unknown - Kurt Vile
19. You And Me - Penny & The Quarters

And here's the link to download my mix, enjoy!
Palm Springs Mixtape

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Growing up,  I always hated having freckles.  My noticeable spotting paired with my long, wild auburn hair made me stick out like a sore thumb in a sea of tan California blondes.  As a young teen, I was constantly trying to cover up the freckles on my face by loading on piles upon piles of makeup.  Instead of looking like a fresh-faced teenager, I looked like a baby prostitute (not a good look. Please burn any photos you have of me during this period).  In High School, my friends and I would usually go to the beach to relax after school.  They would all be laid out in bikinis while I sat Indian style in the sand, clad in all black everything, covering as much skin as possible.
Eventually I got sick and tired of spending so much time wishing away something that was a part of me.  I decided that I was going to accept all the unique attributes I was given (freckles, auburn hair, pale skin, a small nose, very small feet, a round face, huge eyes, etc) and learn to love these things that I thought I hated.  A huge part of being happy is being able to accept reality instead of rejecting it and wishing for something different.  Obviously I have my days (like everyone else) where I don't feel %100 wonderfully about myself (it's really all about attitude), but for the most part I feel special in my own skin, freckles and all.

A few favorite freckled things. (Anne Of Green Gables, duh.)


I finally got my rolls of film back from the past few months.  Here are some of my favorites:

Brian and I went to Disneyland for Valentine's Day.  I hadn't been in years.  It was incredibly fun, although I almost cried when we waited all day to go on Star Tours (we wanted to ride it last, since it's my all-time favorite) only to learn that it was closed for renovations!  
One of my little ones when she was just a baby.
Jay Fisher and Nick Chatillon are my dream men.  It's too bad they think girls are gross.
White Fence is the best band in the entire world and I can't stop listening to their new record.
My gorgeous and talented best friend, Maggie Greene, had a birthday.  It was fun.  I made her a wine glass and by the end of the night it was shattered to pieces.  I forgive her.
My babies (Chicken & Pony Boy) are growing up so fast!
I make Brian pose for photographs more than he wants to.  He knows not to argue with me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Wendy Ate

On Friday night, Brian and I attempted to cook a scrumptious-sounding recipe from one of my favorite foodie blogs What Katie Ate.
We went to Whole Foods where we picked up our fresh ingredients:

I opted for Conchiglie shells which I found to hold the cream sauce rather well.  I also asked the butcher to cut the Speck pretty thick so that I could dice it up appropriately.  As an appetizer we grilled some slices of fresh baguette (brushed with olive oil) with mozzarella, basil, oregano and a few of the tomatoes we slow-roasted for the pasta. It's definitely important to use fresh ingredients (no dried herbs, no canned vegetables, etc) when you cook.  Your food will only taste as fresh as the ingredients that go into it.  I let the speck & pecorino cream sauce cook down more slowly than the original recipe (for about 15 minutes).  The flavors had more time to develop and the sauce turned out perfectly.  When I was done, I mixed the al-dente pasta with the peas in a serving dish.  I then poured the speck & pecorino cream sauce over the pasta and topped it with the slow-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, oregano and a small bit of the cheese on top.  We paired our meal with a bottle of a Coppola blend (I had never tried it before...and I thought it was just 'ok.').  For dessert, Brian and I each had a chocolate canoli.

We spent the next hour following our meal in a food-induced coma and then went to bed.  For breakfast the next morning, I ate the leftovers while Brian was still asleep.

Recipe via What Katie Ate

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Girl Can Dream...

Travel is one of the most important aspects of my life.  Growing up, my parents often took my brother & I out of school to go on worldly adventures year-round.  Most of the understanding I have towards people, culture, and the beauty of the world is from my experiences during my travels.  I have been to some truly magnificent places, but I still feel like there is so much more to see!  The world is endless!
Anyways, I thought that I would share just a few of my ultimate dream hotels.  If I'm lucky, maybe one day I will be able to stay at one of these magnificent hotels.

1. Le Sirenuse is a Moorish Baroque style hotel on the Amalfi Cost of Italy in a small town called Positano.  It is run by the Sersale family, who spent years lovingly restoring the building from an 18th century villa into a lavish resort. The charm of this place is absolutely off-the-charts.  John Steinbeck wrote his essay 'Positano' while staying here in the 1950's. You can swim in the pool surrounded by lemon trees and bougainvillea,  enjoy a classic Neopolitan meal by candlelight at La Sponda while overlooking the ocean, hike in the nearby hills, enjoy a day at their luxurious spa, or even rent one of their vintage wooden speedboats and sail off into the Tyrrhenian Sea.  A girl can dream...right?

2.  Within Cappadocia, in the ancient Turkish village of Ürgüp, the 5th century Yunak Evleri hotel sits carved into the mountains.  The "cave hotel" is compromised of 30 ancient rooms which are deeply cared for.  Decorated in traditional Ottoman antiques and furnishings, you find your way to your room by navigating through cavernous hallways.  When the sun sets, guests gather on the courtyard surrounded by Turkish pillows and outdoor fireplaces for a classic Turkish feast.  Cappadocia offers many activities for lovers of the outdoors such as bicycling, hiking and horseback riding in the countryside.

3.  Even though I grew up a mere 20 minutes from here, I have always dreamed of staying at the magnificent Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California.  The eco-friendly hotel is truly a work of architectural beauty, nestled above the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Endless views of the ocean, coupled with the serene, tree-filled mountains of Big Sur make this hotel one-of-a-kind.  It is the kind of place where you feel as if the stress and noise of everyday life is worlds away.  The stunning architecture surrounded by endless nature are both humbling.  There are 39 rooms and 2 private guest houses to choose from.  Enjoy sustainable seafood & wine at the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant located within the hotel, wake up to morning Yoga classes, go whale-watching, or even take a hike in the Big Sur wilderness.

4.  Between May and November each year, the small village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden is completely quiet, with only 500 permanent residents.  But thousands flock to this rural village between December and April, when the majestic IceHotel takes up its temporary winter home.  Built completely out of Ice and Snow taken from the Torne River, the IceHotel boasts enough rooms for 100 people to stay, a full bar, a church, a main hall and a reception area.  Each sub-zero suite is unique and usually has a theme (this year they apparently had a 'Tron' inspired room), and the architecture of the hotel is different every year.  Before you check-in, they give you a run-down on how to survive in your -5 degree room (hint: lots of fur blankets).  The IceBar serves vodka in glasses made of ice.  When Spring arrives, the IceHotel melts away, until the next year.

5.  Set in the lush, sub-tropical gardens of Madeira, Portugal, overlooking the Bay Of Funchal lies Reid's Palace.  Madeira is an island just off the West African coast with volcanic rock & white sand beaches.  Reid's Palace is over 120 years old with 3 swimming pools, 2 tennis courts, a library, spa and 10 acres of terraced botanical gardens that descend the hillside down to the ocean.  The inside of the hotel is reminiscent of an era past,  where worldly poets, adventure-seekers, and the elite would come for rejuvenation.