Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas from Oly.

Merry (belated) Christmas! We spent Christmas this year with Josh's parents in Olympia, Washington. This post is a little delayed, but if I procrastinate it any longer, it'll never happen. So, because I am lazy, here are a few pictures from the day and some captions:

As usual, all of the family dogs were present, and Josh went crazy for them...

Josh and his parents' massive Airedale, Teddy.

Josh and Kitt and Arian's dog, Boutros. (Josh really wants a big dog ... can you tell?)

Josh and his mom prepping the Christmas feast.

Josh's grandparents showing off their Christmas present -- a trip with the kids. I love his grandparents so much. They are the sweetest people. And, they are such an inspiration to given they just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary!

Josh's brother, Kitt, and his wife, Arian.

Josh's nephew in a hamburger beret he won in the white elephant gift exchange. (I made away with a bunch of Lindt chocolate -- score!!)

Josh's cousin playing with his new toy -- a car with a balloon on top. He and his sister are so stinkin' cute, I swear.

After dinner, Josh and Jason decided to play ping pong in the garage. Josh found an old Viking hat with braids.

This picture makes me laugh so hard, my side hurts. What can I say, he's special. :)

I hope you all had wonderful holidays, full of family, friends, and good times. Here's to an even better 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowy Seattle.

We arrived in Seattle yesterday morning, bright and early, after missing our flight out Friday night. My saint of a friend, Jackie, drove us to the airport at the crack of dawn, and luckily second time is a charm -- we made our flight.

In case you have not heard, Mother Nature has decided to punish Seattle. She has dumped Upstate-New-York levels of snow on Jet City. Usually, if it snows in Seattle (which is not even an annual occurrence), it melts within a day or two. Apparently, there has been snow on the ground for a week now, and there's no sign of the snow stopping yet.

Josh's big bro, Kitt, and our nephew, Jason, picked us up from the airport and we slowly made our way along a snowy I-5 back to their house. The roads are a bit treacherous, especially considering Seattle doesn't have sufficient plowing equipments and Seattleites drive as well in the snow and Angelenos drive in the rain. (For example, see here.)

Saturday night, we had planned on attending my sorority sister Lindsay's wedding. There was a lot of question whether the roads even would be open, but I did not want to miss it (especially because I was worried that a lot of guests would be snowed in). So, we carefully made our way to the ceremony at Bastyr Chapel. The chapel is beautiful, and they had set up candles down the aisle and on the altar, which was especially cozy and romantic given the weather.

Some photos, courtesy of Taryn:

The altar.

Taryn and the beautiful bride.

After the wedding, the snow was coming down even harder. The word was that there would be additional road closures, 60 mph winds, and another 6-8 inches of snow in the next few hours.

Taryn gave us a lift to the reception at the Hotel Deca, my favorite hotel in Seattle (although I still call accidentally it the Edmund Meany). Because of the weather, we unfortunately had to cut out a little early, but the food, decor, and drinks were all top notch (not that I would expect anything less from Lindsay)!

Taryn drove us back toward her place, and then Kitt picked us up and took us home. The roads were scary, but we arrived safe and sound. We drank some wine, chatted, and then when the power went out due to the storm ... well, we lit a fire and poured some more wine.

I took some pics of the snow at Kitt & Arian's house ...

Kitt shoveling the driveway.

So, we are pretty much snowed in today. The snow keeps falling, and the roads by the house have not been plowed, so we are having a lazy day. I have been catching up on my Google Reader and blogging (as you have, no doubt, noticed) and the boys have been watching movies and playing video games. After this post, I am probably going to curl up with a book. Lazy feels good these days.

Birthday dinner: family, pasta, wine, and ... shaved bark?

Josh and I arrived safely in Washington to spend the week with his family for Christmas. Vacation time means time to finally catch up on the blogging ...

So, here's a post I have been procrastinating writing for a few weeks...my birthday! The birthday was back a few weeks ago. To celebrate, we went to a restaurant I have been wanting to try: Trattoria Tre Venezie in Pasadena. Trattoria Tre Venezie, a Michelin star restaurant, specializes in traditional, Northern Italian food (no eggplant parmigiana or lasagna here).

By "we," I mean the usual cast of characters at these things: (clockwise: Josh, me, Bug, Anthony, Cathy, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Dad, Jackie, and PJ behind the camera.)

We piled in our cozy corner of the restaurant (the restaurant is small and has a warm, home-in-an-Italian-hilltown feel), ordered some delicious Montepulciano wine (a little Tuscan in with the Venetian) and had our slightly odd waiter give us a lesson on the menu. At first, this was appreciated. After awhile, it became a little condescending. The best exchange of the night:

Grandma (perhaps sounding a little skeptical): "This pasta is made with cinnamon?"
Snooty waiter: "Why yes. What is cinnamon but shaved bark?"

Jackie and I suppressed a major giggle fit. What is cinnamon but shaved bark? Deep thoughts, indeed.

It turns out the cinnamon pasta was delish. Some pics:

On the left, Bug and I shared Cjalsons for an appetizer, an ancient dish from Cania, Friuli. They are essentially savory and sweet raviolis, filled with up to eighteen combinations of ingredients, prepared for special occasions. This was, by far, my favorite dish of the night. Each little ravioli had so many flavors. The restaurant only serves Cjalsons every week or so, and if you have not been to Trattoria Tre Venezie and want to try it, be sure to be there on a day they are serving these little puppies. Truly delish!

For dinner, I ordered the special, Bigoli with crab (left). It was pretty tasty. Josh ordered the Casunziei all'Ampezzana, a ravioli filled with red beets with butter and poppy seeds. It was decent.

Jackie ordered the Tagliatelle alla Cannella (left), cinnamon-flavored tagiatelle with shitake mushroom sauce (a.k.a. the "cinnamon pasta"). I tried a bite of this and really liked it. On the right is the Ravioli al Ripeni d'Agnello, ravioli filled with shoulder of lamb.

For dessert, Josh ordered a cake from Susie Cakes (yum!).

It was marble cake with chocolate frosting, and it was a huge hit.

It was a pretty great birthday. My sweetheart of a husband did a great job planning the little get-together. Now, I am officially 28, which feels ... eh, the same. Two more years until the big 3-0 ...

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! We had a whole mess of people over at our house to celebrate our day of gratitude and gluttony. Nineteen people, to be exact. This was especially ambitious given I had (very routine) surgery on Tuesday. Thank God for my mom who flew in from Alaska.

My grandma's first reaction was, of course, "Where are you going to put all of those people?!" Well, we cleared out our formal living room and rented some chairs. It ended up working out pefectly.

Some pics of our Thanksgiving table.

It was wonderful to have so many people in our home. It felt like the holidays when I was little with all of the family and friends piling in.

And, this was the first turkey I have ever cooked! Well, correction: We cooked two turkeys! (I couldn't risk running out of turkey!). Luckily, dinner turned out well, and I didn't burn anything or have any major snafus.

Per family tradition, we had holiday crackers. As usual, all of our holiday pictures are of us in those ridiculous paper crowns. (Remember last Christmas?)

Bug and Anthony.

Mom and Grandparents.

The whole fan-dam-ily (and some dear friends).

This Thanksgiving, I feel especially grateful for Josh, my sister, my parents, grandparents, and my dear friends. With all of the turmoil in our country and economy, I feel blessed to have my job (despite how stressful it might be at times) and especially blessed and hopeful for our new president.

And, now with Thanksgiving behind us, you know what that means... It's officially Christmastime! Let the present wrapping, light hanging, and carol singing begin!


Wow, it's been almost six weeks since my last post and since I have opened my Google Reader. Wow, 1,800 posts to read. Hmm. (Please forgive the lack of comments.)

I have had writer's block. So much is going on, but it's sometimes hard to decide what is blogpropriate and what isn't. But, when life gets challenging, it's hard to blog about anything other than what's on your mind, so I guess I decided to just ... not.

Luckily, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. A picture-filled Thanksgiving post to follow soon.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fires & Pumpkins.

What a week. As you may have heard, there were some crazy fires in Southern California earlier this week. Monday morning, my commute looked like this:

Scary, right? The fire was about 10 miles away, but the winds picked up, and by Monday evening, there was concern that the fires would burn straight down to the coast. We got a call from the City on Monday evening, telling us to prepare to evacuate. We went outside, and our neighbors were packing their cars and leaving to stay with friends and family. It was very ... apocalyptic.

In case we were evacuated, Josh and I packed up our cars with family pictures and other sentimental stuff. After a long night of tossing and turning, I woke up Tuesday and got news mid-morning that our city was no longer threatened by the fire. Such a relief.

After that scare, the rest of the week seemed like no big thing.

On a brighter note, the weekend has been great. Saturday morning, we checked out the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival.

There was a little pumpkin patch at the entrance.

We are cheap, though, and didn't buy any pumpkins. Apparently, the grocery store by our house has pumpkins for $4 each, so we decided to hold off.

We met up with my dad and his lovely girlfriend Cathy.

Since it was game day, my dad was completely decked out. Can you guess for whom he roots?

The festival was filled with food booths, disastrous news for me since I am trying to lose the 4,327 pounds I've gained since starting at the Firm. Funnel cakes, sausages, and burritos galore. Tear.

I love fall in Southern California (yes, there are seasons here, they are just subtle, ok?). The weather Saturday was sunny and cool with a slight breeze. And the sky blue flecked with clouds. This may make me sound like an office rat, but it was so nice to be outside.

After looping through the Pumpkin Festival, we headed back to our cars. I really love my dad's girlfriend, Cathy. My dad has such a big heart and is kind of a goof, and in many ways, I think they work so well together.

Exhibit A: My dad and Cathy breaking out their dance moves on the way to the car. (Embarrasing yet adorable, no?)

After we left the Pumpkin Festival, we had lunch, and then headed back to our place. Dad and Josh watched football, and Cathy keep me company on a trip to Crate and Barrel to get some bookshelves. I spent all yesterday afternoon and evening unpacking the last few boxes of books, assembling the bookshelves, and cleaning out our home office. It looks like a totally new place.

Today, well, I should be working, but as you can see, I am procrastinating. Josh wants to go see W. this afternoon, so I should probably knock some work out here so I can go play later. More soon...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Beat the Sun Devils.

Josh woke me up at eight o'clock this morning. Waking me up that early on a Saturday is usually unforgivable, but he had the most excited-little-boy smile. (It's hard to be mad at him when he is so cute.) Apparently, my dad had called and had four tickets to the USC football game and wanted to see if we wanted to go. Since Josh is obsessed with college football, and since USC is my second favorite team (sorry, Bruins friends) next to the Washington Huskies, we jumped in the shower and headed to the Coliseum.

Parking at USC is insane. Most of the event parking by the stadium is between $40 and $60 (!!!!), so we drove a little further away and finally found a sketchy vacant lot that was charging $20. But, that's not all. They would give you free parking if you paid them $25 to baby-sit your kid in the vacant lot while you enjoyed the game. Not sure if anyone took them up on the offer.

First stop once we were inside: food, of course. I got a rice bowl with tri-tip and chicken. Mmmm.

We found Bug and my dad, decked out in Trojan gear.

Our seats were pretty good. Actually, they were fantastic, considering they were free! And, it was a gorgeous autumn day in Southern California: 70 degrees, slight breeze, and sunny. Now this is why I moved back to L.A. after several cold years in Upstate New York! (Although, I must confess I miss the leaves this time of year, but I digress.)

Since both my parents are SC alums, and Bug is in medical school there, it has become my second favorite college football team. Now, the Huskies will always be my first and favorite. In fact, I hope they cream the Trojans in a couple of weeks. Unlikely, but a girl can hope.

Bug flashing victory. Fight on.

The game itself was pretty uneventful. The Trojans beat the ASU Sun Devils 28-0. Despite some messy fumbles, USC pretty much dominated.

Friday Night with Cio-Cio San.

Ahhhh, the weekend again. This week was a little slower, which was a nice change. Monday, Bug and I met up with some friends for dinner at the Spring Street Smokehouse. The original plan had been french dips at Phillipe's, but the crowds were insane. (Awesome Monkey recap here.)

The rest of the week was just work and home. Josh had Yom Kippur off on Thursday, so he was a total angel and whipped our house in order. Such a nice surprise to come home to!

Friday, Josh met me downtown and we headed to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. We have season tickets to the L.A. Opera, and we had tickets last night to see Madama Butterfly.

Josh is actually a pretty big opera fan. Fun fact about Josh: He has an absolutely gorgeous voice. He was classically trained, and for awhile, sang in operas. However, he got bored with that, and now would rather start a 90s grunge cover band. I kind of wish he would have stuck with opera, because how many people can sing like that? I mean, if I opened my mouth and all those incredible sounds came out, you would not be able to pull me off stage. A side note to this side note: Josh is fantastically fun at karaoke.

(One more digression: This week, I dug out my old point and shoot camera, so I actually have pictures (I am often too lazy to tote around my big 'ole SLR), although they are a little fuzzy.)

Okay, back on track.

We arrived at the Music Center an hour before the show. I was hoping to have dinner at Pinot Grill, but it was completely packed. Josh and I decided to grab a quick bite at the Spotlight Cafe, a small cafe run by the Patina Group that has sandwiches and snacks.

We got a couple little bottles of wine, and I ordered the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich with arugula, which was quite tasty! (Extremely fuzzy pic below.)

We sat by the fountain, ate our food, sipped our wine, and enjoyed the water show.

After a quick bite to eat, it was time for the show.

Of course, no pictures were allowed or taken during the show. The music was gorgeous, and the set design was very modern and minimalist. It was beautiful -- the stage looked like a moving painting, and the singers would freeze and slowly walk it looked like they were gliding. The stage was a moving, breathing painting. (That said, the theater was quite warm and we had just had a delicious dinner. Some of the slower arias set against the minimal background seemed to drag a little.)

After the show, we trekked home. After the food, wine, and beautiful music, I made a beeline for bed and slept like a baby.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

To Market, To Market.

Wow, a two week blogging drought. You can probably guess why I have been MIA from the blogosphere lately. Yeah, I have been working a lot. I did escape my laptop for awhile last weekend to go to Bean's first birthday (awesome recaps here, here, and here) and had a wonderful dinner at Mastro's in Beverly Hills with some of my favorite girls from work last night.

After all the go, go, go, I was SO looking forward to sleeping in this morning. It has been over a month since I have had a free Saturday morning, so I was well overdue for a nice, long sleep. Giddy, I came home from dinner, slipped into my pajamas, and crawled into bed at 11 o'clock.

I woke up this morning, groggy, thinking it must be at least 1 p.m. I reached for my Blackberry to check the time (yes, it's on my nightstand -- sad, I know), and it was only 9 o'clock!! I used to be able to sleep well into the afternoon. Looks like I am losing the magic...

On the bright side, I felt well-rested and still had the whole day in front of me!

I got dressed, and Josh and I headed to the Calabasas Farmers' Market, our new Saturday morning tradition.

It's such a fabulously grey and drizzly day, so it almost felt like we were back in the Northwest.

I was really excited to find a bunch of baskets of different types of lettuce leaves.

We had to come home with a bag.

Everything was so fresh. I have never seen Josh so excited about vegetables. :)

And, of course, we loaded up on Josh's favorite food in the world: potatoes.


The Farmers' Market is a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It had little restaurant booths in addition to local produce.

Josh said it reminded him of Oly. It reminded me a little of the produce stands in the Campo where I lived in Rome. Either way, we both agreed that we would be back next weekend!