Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For My Beautiful Sister on her Birthday

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." -- Marion C. Garretty

 Here's the thing about the above quote (aside from the fact that it's very true): if I were to base my relationship with my sister Ginny through our interactions in childhood, we might be in some trouble. She was always the sassy one (still is most of the time), getting us into trouble (still does occasionally), stealing my clothes, starting physical fights for no reason other than she liked fighting, then telling on me after I won said fight (I believe it's called self defense in some circles)... the list of naughty things she did when we were little goes on and on.

But there are also the things that cannot be ignored: our fierce propensity to stick up for one another, her ability to make me laugh, our innate understanding of who the other truly is deep down at the heart of it all... We really have made it through the thick of things time and time again, only to find ourselves as best friends.

It feels awesome to be able to say that.

My parents have told me that when they brought my sister home from the hospital 26 years ago, I spent two weeks being a complete nightmare: crying, screaming, throwing tantrums left and right... essentially, anything I could to show my anger at that fact that I was not the only baby anymore. My mom says around day 14, I kind of realized my efforts were for naught and that, no, in fact, you can't just take her away. She was there to stay, just like me. 

And thank goodness.

So, to my beautiful, caring, thoughtful, mischievous sister: I love you and a very happy birthday to you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Papa Burt.

Photo courtesy of Deb at Smitten Kitchen

Today marks what would have been my grandpa's 90th birthday. He only made it to 80 and it still manages to surprise me how seemingly long he's been gone, as well as how it feels as though he only passed just a couple weeks ago. He died the day I moved to college and while I'd like to believe that 18 was relatively recent, the fact that I'm two years from 30 cannot be ignored.

I am a very different person from the one I was 10 years ago.

Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like if he and my grandmother were still around. What it would have been like to have them at my college graduation. At my wedding. I used to say to them when I was little, "But you are going to live forever, thankfully!" to which my Papa Burt would always reply, "Elizabeth, if you live long enough, you're gonna die." He was pragmatic, if anything.

A man of very few words, he was a puzzle I knew like the back of my hand and one I could never figure out all at the same time. I still do, really, feel like I knew him so well and not at all. It's hard to explain.

There are things I have about him ingrained in my head that are vivid, and it's comfortable when a memory suddenly floods in. How he used to style his snowy white hair with Brill Cream. His tan or gray Members Only jackets and how he always smelled like Brut cologne. His love of Cowboy Western movies. His homemade vanilla ice cream. Playing "Clair de Lune" on the organ. 3 O'clock Diet Cokes, always with extra ice and a straw. Turbo speed in his light gold Saturn.

I realize how lucky I am to have had a set of grandparents like my Grammy and Papa. When you get older and start to see the intricacies of the world, you realize that not everyone is lucky to have wonderful grandparents (or even a mediocre set); amazing grandpas and grandmas are truly a thing to be treasured and cherished.

So while I will always greedily wish I had more memories, more time with him, I am forever grateful that in all the inexplicable luck, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it in the world, that he was mine.

That he was my grandpa.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Haphazard Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been downing soup like no other this month, and thought it might be time to share my chicken tortilla recipe with you. It is delicious, easy and can be relatively healthy (if you don't cover it in cheese and fried tortilla strips like I do).

Do I have any photos to share of said delicious soup? Of course not! But I hate a post without a photo, so I snagged one from The Pioneer Woman, a cooking blog I return to every Super Bowl for this horribly white trash and drool inducing recipe. OH MA GAWD, is it good!

Just like every recipe I've recommended so far, you can totally alter this to your liking. It's soup, for goodness sake, which means (for those of you who don't cook often) it is hard to screw up. So if you feel like black beans, corn, fresh jalapenos or any other ingredient I don't mention, have at it!

Elizabeth's Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb. organic free range chicken breasts (feel free to get more chicken if you like)
6 cups (or more if you prefer) chicken broth
Juice of 3 limes
Two 14 oz cans of tomatoes and chilis
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Chili powder, cumin, paprika
Canola oil
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Corn tortillas, cut in small strips
Pepper jack cheese, finely shredded
Avocado, diced
Tortilla Land flour tortillas

Pour chicken broth into a smallish pot and add chicken breasts. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to medium low. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks.

In a larger soup pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic; cook until translucent. Next, add broth from small pot, then lime juice, canned tomatoes and half the chopped cilantro. Throw in some of the spices (I do about a teaspoon to a tablespoon depending on the spice. Smell them first... If you like the scent, add a little more). Simmer for a bit.

Add shredded chicken and continue to cook until soup is hot. Throw in the rest of the cilantro, then add salt to taste. Don't be afraid of salt! It is your friend. Keep adding until the flavor is working for you.

While soup is cooking, heat canola oil on medium high in a pan (I prefer cast iron because if I overheat the oil on accident, it's not a total pain to clean up when I'm done, and it actually helps season the pan a bit). Add corn tortilla strips in a single layer (i.e. they shouldn't be overlapping) and make sure they sizzle when you add them to the pan, otherwise the oil isn't hot enough and they may not crisp the way you want them to. Fry until golden brown, then place on plate with paper towel so the excess oil can drain off.

Pour soup in bowl, top with cheese, avocado and corn tortilla strips, and serve with freshly heated Tortilla Land flour tortillas and more lime wedges if you have an acidic palate like I do. I just can't say no to extra citrus.

Nom, nom, nom, so yummy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hearts, Love and Gift Ideas Abound

Kyle and I usually ignore the schmaltzy forced nature of Valentine's Day, but this year I plan on embracing it whole hog.

Apparently 3 weeks early.

Here are some things I think many lovely ladies (and men for that matter) could appreciate (I made this in Illustrator, but I feel it lacks balance... let me know your take; I'd love the feedback):

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sh*t People Say In LA and A Little Article about Schools and Religion (You Know, Kids' Stuff!)

It's one of those "all over the place" kinda days.

I was going to post about this article today, but I hesitate to start throwing around my opinions about religion and bullying and the Constitution. It's a little heavy for a Tuesday, c'est vrai?

So, here's my take in three sentences: I have friends and family (all of whom I love) who are religious, atheists or agnostics. I believe everyone should have the right to practice their religion freely, without persecution, in their own time, but also believe in the separation of church and state; the First Amendment is solid for a reason, people. I am appalled that the young girl (Jessica Ahlquist) in this article would be outrageously bullied for having her own beliefs (because, don't forget, being an atheist IS a belief), but forcing her school to uphold the constitution. Oh, and one more thing: shame on you, Peter G. Palumbo (Rhode Island State Representative), for not upholding the Constitution you swore an oath to support AND for having the audacity to call this girl 'evil.'

I guess that was four sentences.

Phew! How about some fluff, now, hmmm?

Yes, I realize how overdone the Sh*t People Say videos are, and while most of them are crap, I think it actually only matters how relevant they are to your life (I still love the original and this one for its crazy, though accurate, bride impersonations).

People, having lived in Los Angeles for three years, I have to say this is pretty spot on. While watching it, I cringed at the number of things I've said in the past (and if we're being honest) in my every day life, although I will say I've never had Intelligentsia coffee or snorted blow with Skeet Ulrich (or anyone for that matter; no cokeheads up in here!!).

Do you have any favorites Sh*t People Say videos you're crazy about? Better question: do you think the things you say in real life could make for a good two minute short film?

Either way, I'm hoping the people who said the shit they did to Jessica Ahlquist will realize how ludicrously wrong it is to attack someone (let alone a teenage girl) simply because their beliefs do not match with their own.

Namaste (please note I am saying this ironically and as an homage to Angelenos).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Current Web Lovin'

Did everyone have a good weekend? Wunderbar! Mammoth was a snowy heaven straight out of Narnia. Photos of our short adventure should be expected in the next day or two!

It's raining in San Diego... bliss, I tell you, bliss! So while I type away, cozy in an over-sized black sweater with a hot cup of herbal tea steaming on the table, I figured I might as well share a few things I'm loving on the web these days.

I already told you that I have a personal Pinterest account, but Ivory Sparrow launched ours today! Check it out for all things wedding, bride and love inspired. Feel free to follow us if you're in the mood.

A friend of mine posted this article from Huffington Post and I must say, if there's anything to remind a person of the shortness of life, it's a list of the top five regrets of the dying. Not to be completely morbid, but while I feel most people hope death is a long ways off, it's an inevitably for all of us, and wouldn't it be nice to die knowing you did or tried everything you wanted to?

In the "shopping I'd be doing on the Internet if I actually had the money to" department, I've found the following for future decor inspiration: Terrain. I've tried putting into words what my interior decor style is, and I tend to gravitate toward the following words: natural, funky, organic, largely muted with pops of color. How would you describe your style? It's more difficult than you'd think (or maybe I'm the only one who has issues with it?)!

Some items on Terrain I'm jonesing for:

A baker's table that may come in handy after my pastry making class this Saturday!
Reclaimed wood tray? Yes, please!
Adorable tags for homemade gifts... Feeling some Valentine's Day inspiration here!
I think every kitchen might need this sign.
These old fashioned mason jar salt shakers remind me of Grammy.

And finally, this weekend I was told my Mr. G impression from Summer Heights High doesn't actually suck, so I've been watching YouTube clips to brush up and perfect it.

I assure you I'll be looking for a headless jersey dress to add some performance art to my act. Perhaps buy a rabbit mask as well?

Wet or dry, I hope you're enjoying this fantastic Monday.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What to Wear: Mammoth Aprés Ski

We're off to Mammoth this weekend, everyone! We'll be spending it with great friends and most likely, even better food, as I'll be making it with my fellow self-professed home cook, Brett. Here's what typically happens when Brett and I cook together: we toil away, chopping, mixing, blending, tasting, while our significant others, Kyle and Brittany, look at YouTube videos and make comments.

It's a lot of fun.

Anywho, whilst the majority of the people in our group (shout out to Teets, Seth and Greg (I think it's Greg, haven't met the fellow, but aside from knowing he's a vegetarian who may or may not like chili, I'm guessing he's a nice guy too) will be snowboarding, I shall be hanging out, cozy warm, inside. My knees have been bugging up a storm and Kyle and I both agreed it best I sit this one out.

So... what to wear? I decided, if you can't be entertained by the slopes, you might as well be entertained with what you're wearing. I'm talking crazy, wacko ensemble here, folks.

Set details can be found here

Hair looking bad? Why not throw a panda on your head? Striped socks too thin to keep your toes warm? Put a pair of boots on made by the shorn fur of a chinchilla (whoops, sorry, I meant fauxchilla). And who doesn't love pretending they're Goldie Hawn on a wintry day in Colorado?

Lookin' good, lady! And Kurt, not so bad yourself! This is giving me inspiration on what to pack for Kyle.

Because all of the above are things you're supposed to wear in the mountains, right?


A happy and fashionable weekend to you all!

Mammoth Weekend for the Crazies

Mammoth Weekend for the Crazies

Knit top
$365 - barneys.com

J Brand stretchy pants
$361 - my-wardrobe.com

Patagonia knee high hosiery
$20 - patagonia.com

BEARPAW small heels
$142 - endless.com

CANADIAN HATS fox fur hat
£219 - harrods.com

Autumn cashmere
$165 - intermixonline.com

Jane Norman pom knit hat
£6 - janenorman.co.uk

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Club Thursday!

Hi everyone. I'm hosting Book Club at my house tonight (not to mention it's just a crazy day in general), so there's not much time to write. However, I found a video that simultaneously gives a nod to old literature while maintaining my love of whimsy and ridiculousness.

Ladies and Gentlemen (via a status update from an old classmate of mine), I present The Hobbit starring CATS.

I think their use of "hairless cat" for Gollum is genius. I appreciated the strange rainbow anime cats flying across the sky as well.

Hope you're up to some whimsical stuff this Thursday, everyone!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Can Happen in 9 Years

For the last 2 years, I've been saying to Kyle, "This is our year. This is totally gonna be our year." Friends, 2010 was NOT our year and 2011 was DEFINITELY not our year... but for once, I'm thinking 2012 might actually be the ticket.

Today is special to me for a couple reasons. One, before Kyle and I got married and had an "official" anniversary of June 20th, we had our anniversary of just being together (you know, the whole exclusivity, off-the-market game). Today marks nine years. Nine years! That's almost a decade, which is almost a third of my life of being with the same person.

Kyle and I met the first day we moved into the dorms freshman year. I introduced myself to him along with two other guys (who still happen to be some of my best friends to this day), but only walked away remembering his name (sorry, Trav and Jacob! I've got it now!). I feel I should mention here that I was dating someone else at this point. We were together the entirety of my fall quarter and he lived a couple hours south, so we did the long distance thing.

All I can say about that boyfriend is that he was one of the sweetest, funniest guys I have ever known... I could not say a single bad thing about him if I tried. But sometimes sweet and funny is not enough, right?

I spent a lot of time with Kyle (and Trav and Jacob), though just as friends. We had a sociology class at an ungodly early hour with the pudgiest Indian teacher known to man, so we'd meet beforehand at the dining commons and have breakfast (we eloquently called it "Breakfast Club"). On Tuesdays, bagels were served and Thursdays, donuts. Kyle really liked Thursdays.

I started to realize how much I looked forward to waking up at the crack of dawn every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Fall quarter came to an end shockingly fast and during winter break, while snug in my bed in Laguna, I had a dream. I dreamed that Kyle and I were hanging out on a couch holding hands and when I woke up, I remember feeling so calm and peaceful that I started to get a nervous tight feeling in my stomach. The nervousness came from realizing that this dream in my head felt so right in my gut, but seemed sticky when I considered reality. Breaking up with my boyfriend became a thought I seriously began to consider, not because I wanted to "trade him in for Kyle" or anything like that, but because I knew dreaming and thinking of this guy, who I had come to think of as one of my best friends, hinted at feelings that were not necessarily... platonic?

So I ended it with my boyfriend, which was hard because I couldn't give him any good reason for it. I figured if it was meant to happen with Kyle, it was meant to happen and I kind of sat back and relaxed about the whole thing.

Little did I know, Trav and Jacob (yes, the same two from the very beginning!) had heard of the breakup, sat Kyle down and told him to go for it (it being me, I guess?). My husband used to be a very shy guy, so they had to assure him they thought it was mutual.

They really had to assure him.

And luckily for me, he listened... and made a move on January 17, 2003 (the man's no Rico Suavé, but I can remember every detail of it, which I will not be sharing here, and it is a very sweet memory).

Here's the thing about having a blog: you get to filter every bit of your life that you write about. It's easy for me to talk about the love and the happy moments and sweet memories, but it's also easy to ignore the hard stuff, the gritty things people can gloss over when they talk about their daily lives.

Being with the same person for nine years has been no easy task because, let's face it, relationships and marriage are not easy! They take hard work and effort on both parts, forgiveness and acceptance and constant reminders of the good, the great, the love that's there at the root of it all. Focusing on the reasons you fell in love with a person is sometimes more difficult than dwelling on the things that drive you crazy about them. But if you can, if you can force yourself as often as you can to concentrate on the positives, relationships can really be an amazing, synergetic thing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, thanks for putting up with my bullshit all these years, Kyle... it sure has been fun putting up with yours!  ;)  I love you, honey.

The other reason this date holds significance in my life is that it is the day we officially welcomed Moe into our little family! I've already told you the story of how we found him and decided he was "the one," but I haven't told you about the buildup toward his official appearance.

We met him and his foster parents at an adoption fair outside of Centinela Pet Feed at the very beginning of 2009. It was a set appointment through Forte Animal Rescue and apparently 7 other people/couples had already tried to get him. His fosters were a discriminating couple, and didn't want to give him to just ANYONE (this is a good thing, because sometimes the people who want pitbulls want them for the wrong reason); they didn't get the right feeling with any prior visitors. Luckily, they felt good about us, and once they had done a house inspection and he had met the neighbor dogs, we set his "move in" date for two weeks later.

I was in New York for work the entire week leading up to his arrival, and while I do love myself some Big Apple, the days dragged by because I knew what the end of the week held for me: my dog, Moe.

The plane ride home was excruciating. Since it was our six year anniversary, I swung by the grocery store on my way back to the apartment to grab a bottle of champagne in order to toast our togetherness and as a celebratory welcome to our new furry family member.

His fosters dropped him off, which I know was not easy for them; he had been a part of their little family for four months and they had grown to love him. It wasn't easy for Moe either. He was depressed (and I mean DEPRESSED) for about three weeks. He moped around our apartment and sometimes had to be goaded into getting out of bed.

It was like living with the pitbull version of Judy Garland, minus the major drug and alcohol problem.

I don't know when it clicked for him that he could be happy with us, but it did, and since then, he's never stopped smilin' and he's never looked back.

So you see, what seems like an innocuous date to some is truly a huge one for me. It is the day two of my soulmates came into my life to stay. For good.

And I am forever grateful for January 17.
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