Birthday Weekend

My birthday weekend rocked! I’m only just now writing about it because I don’t know why. I had writer’s block and I spent the week cleaning and thinking about exercise.
On the fourteenth, the day before my B-day, I took Tim out for Valentine’s Day to a restaurant that’s about 2 blocks from my apartment and somehow I’ve never checked it out. It far exceeded my expectations, and I plan on going there at least ten more times this year. That was just the beginning of our weekend of gluttony.
Saturday I made blueberry crepes for breakfast, and then we went nautical antiques shopping in Sunset Beach. For lunch we got a Spinach CPK Pizza and I sauteed mini squash and tomatoes with mint. I was thoroughly impressed with it, but it wasn’t Tim’s thing. I had to sit there and shower myself with compliments on my cooking, and I believed every word of it. I was blushing from all the compliments.
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Then Tim made me a huge dinner of steak, mashed sweet potatoes, and asparagus, and we had a nice romantic dinner at my apartment followed by the Argentinian red wine I had picked out at a local wine tasting.
I was pretty sure we were doing okay on calories for the weekend, but just to make sure, the next night, on my birthday, we had my whole family up to Tompkin’s Square. Tim treated everyone to dinner and we got to hang out with my awesome family.

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Food, and it’s finally cold out!

This was a very food weekend. First, Tompkin’s square, the Bar/restaurant that Tim invested in last year, launched their new menu on Friday. I had been waiting to try their cheese plate, and it was in fact delicious. The boys were excited about the sausage plate.
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Later I got excited about the cocktails, which then led to me being excited about everything. I was also introduced to this incredibly good Bluegrass/southern band, The Cousin Lovers, that night, at the Prince Of Whales bar in Playa.
Saturday evening we pulled out the new issue of Cook’s Illustrated and each picked a recipe and made it. While I was cooking, I discovered that Tim has the best olive oil EVER. If I ever buy you a bottle of it, know that I love you. Ours came from Bay Cities in Santa Monica. They have weird hours but great food and a thorough selection of gourmet food/ supplies.
I made the brown rice with caramelized onions and roasted bell peppers.
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How awesome is that kitchen, btw? And yes, that is a gun-shaped bottle of tequila on top of the fridge.
Tim made the Glazed Roast Chicken using a beer can to stand it up with. It was the most moist, perfect chicken I’ve ever eaten.
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Both of these links, btw, take you to Cook’s Illustrated articles about the recipes, but their recipe page is blocked. If you want the recipe, let me know. I’m looking forward to trying the brown rice with peas, feta and mint. I first have had to get over what is basically a phobia about brown rice being cooked casserole style. The texture takes me back to some unpleasant memories of experimental brown rice recipes, which still occasionally make me wake up screaming. Tim has the same problem, but with gnocchi.

Today we ate lunch at Chalet Edelweiss, a Swiss/Austrian restaurant near LAX. We had the cheese fondue, lots of bread, and I had a cappuccino. It was not very healthy. You have to have fondue at least once. In every city.
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It will actually be a very foodie/ drinkie month, as I’m celebrating my birthday for two solid weeks. We will also be celebrating Asia’s birthday, my mom’s, valentine’s day, and Friday the 13th.

Out there

Sometimes I put my point and shoot away and just go outside and get some exercise and fresh air. Yesterday was not one of those days. Anyway, it was raining. My plans, as I left Long Beach wearing a tank top, pedal pushers and flip flops, was to go swimming with Stephanie after work. It was warm and sunny, and I had my swim bag packed in a most efficient way and was planning to leave work wearing my suit so I could get my swim on as soon as possible. Followed by, of course, underwater photography.
It was pouring out by the time I took my lunch break, and I did a lot of slip sliding when I went outside because my flip flops are old and are smooth on the bottom. This got me thinking about my front tires, which are a little smooth too. So I changed plans and rode home with Tim, since I was going to his house after swim time anyway. It was much nicer to be sitting in a heated seat in an all-wheel drive Volvo (high safety rating!) and looking out the window watching airplanes as we passed LAX on the way home.

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Lovely view or hell, depending on whether you're going east or west

Lovely view, or hell, depending on whether you're going east or west



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I LOVE watching the airplanes take off and land. I could do this for hours. I love it even more when there’s a thick cloud cover, because you can watch the airplane come in as just white outline and then lower until it takes on the full shape and color of an airplane, where seconds earlier there was nothing. Or vice versa, when it’s taking off.

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Learning curve

Have you had one of those Espresso Truffles yet? From Starbucks? They’re like a mocha, only with the death by chocolate flavor I’ve only test-driven in their failed melted chocolate experiment from a few years ago. I ordered a double, which was just suicide, because an hour into it, I started getting espresso overload, and it was a little scary. Instead of the usual nice creative surges and delightful wakey-ness, I got all twitchy and was filled with the desire to throw darts at things. That’s only the second time this past month that I’ve had that urge.
I honestly think it was just boredom. I was up late because I spent the evening in South Orange County trying to get great photographs of a baby and failing miserably because I’m still learning about studio lighting. I went to bed late, got up late, and my day just went on forever. I love what I do, but my day needs to start early. By the time I left, I was fantasizing about stabbing my arm just to watch it bleed.
When you look at good photography, it looks so easy, SO easy, and it just isn’t. I would have thought that I could just bring a black backdrop and studio lights and a creative eye, and something great would happen. Instead it looked like we were interrogating this poor sweet little baby. I couldn’t believe the tolerance she was exuding. It’s like she just trusted that her mom and I would finally stop flashing that strobe at her and come pick her up like we’re supposed to do, and she’d just lay there, wiggling and squirming and making noises and staring back at us. By every right, she should have been red-faced and screaming. I kept wanting to put the camera down and go pick her up and bounce her and tell her how sorry I was. How could photography be important when there’s milk to be had, and baby bouncing to be done?
Anyway, maybe someday that kind of photography will come naturally to me, but right now I feel like I’m trying to pick up a penny off of the floor using a pair of crutches, while blindfolded.

I should have someone screen my reading selections

I mentioned before that reading a book about torture led to a mildly anxious session at the dentist. I am currently reading a book about the great Hurricane of 1900 in Galveston, Texas. I have been aware for some time now that I am living at like two feet above sea level, on what is essentially a peninsula. This does not cause me to panic, but only because we don’t really get hurricanes here. A tsunami, though, would drag me straight out to sea. I find slight assurance in that my street is on a very slight incline, and I’m on the second floor. I think about these things. Also, later on this year, I’m moving in with Tim, who lives at about 100 feet above sea level, or something safe like that. However, my Stephanie and my Asia live at sea level, too.
At any given time, the grim reaper could just be standing outside our houses, waiting.
Anyway, have a nice Monday!
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