Shake Shake Shake Sonora

Seeing the weight start to slowly come off, I do know that I want to continue to eat this no-carby way for as long as I can. You know, before I allow my craving for chocolate to totally derail me.

For me, I need to have some sense of a treat.  Yes, like a dog.  Whatevs…I like dogs.

But treats usually look and taste like chocolate chip cookies or ice cream.

Not really on the menu plan.

What’s a sugar-addict  girl to do?

I could make a smoothie.

BUT, the thing about smoothies is that they usually have bananas in them.

Now bananas on their own are like, Yeah, you’re good.

But mix them in bread, pudding, fruit salad, smoothies or that disgusting gum flavor, and it’s like, whoa banana, why are you such a bully, taking over the flavor?

Well,  I found a shake recipe on againstallgrain.com that curbs that craving for chocolate. It’s not that sweet but the chocolate taste is in full force when you use cacao powder.  AND I substituted 1/3 of a pear for the banana.  Go pears!

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Here’s my take on the recipe.  Sure, the honey and pear have some sugar.  And the almond butter has fat. But if you are about to take the walk of shame down oreo-alley or smear nutella on your face, this is a filling treat that can satisfy a wicked choco craving, but allow you to look yourself in the mirror the next morning.

  • 4 ounces almond milk
  • ½ cup crushed ice
  • 1/3 of a pear
  • 1/4 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

Enjoy!

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Rut-free

It was as if I was asleep and an alarm went off.

This year started off nicely.  Quietly.  Patiently.  That is not how my schedule usually works.  But Shaka had gotten a great gig in December to last for awhile and we could exhale financially.  Which also means emotionally. So we relaxed and enjoyed the pacing.

With the exception of a whirlwind, fabulous trip to Vegas to celebrate Monet’s birthday, the year was still unfolding in slow motion.

But the pacing made me wonder if I was happy or depressed. Mads would invite me to dinners and events and I would turn them down.  We finally talked about it.  She was a little worried.  It wasn’t like me.

Was I depressed?  Was I nervous?  Was I becoming a hermit?

Actually, I was nesting, it turns out. So many art projects and pinterest ideas left me feeling slightly insane. Which made me exhausted.

And then…whoosh! My usual, self-chosen break-neck pace had resumed.

Snapshots of the past month:

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For Valentine’s Day, I made an art piece for Shaka.  It taxed my brain to figure out the best way to get my idea across.  I visited all the craft stores armed with coupons and questions.  The workers there must have wondered if I had partaken in cocaine, red bull or both.  I was a woman with an unquiet mind.  Obvi, meditation was not part of my schedule.  Too peaceful.  I finally finished it.  It is the lyrics from one of Shaka’s songs (his favorite of his creations) deconstructed and combined with hardware for an industrial feel.

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Also, Shaka’s gifts were everything I wanted.  We stayed home in lieu of joining the vday masses and ate pizza and drank the Dom that Shaka’s bro had given us a few years ago.

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My birthday was similar.  I was bathed in love and gifts from everyone.  Also chose to stay home for dinner and watch movies.

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Birthday Brunch was supposed to be held at an outdoor spot in Pasadena.  But as February is wont to do, rain was on the menu.  I had 12 people and the option to eat inside at a place we had never been and whose indoor space was limited, with no reservations was too much for my tender nerves.  I confabbed with Mads to find a place that was affordable, could accommodate, had good yelp reviews, was ambient, and had mimosas.  Found it!  Camilo’s Bistro was a gem!  It was the best way to celebrate with everyone AND the best way to usher in what is becoming a busy spring.

http://www.camilosbistro.com/Camilos_California_Bistro/Home.html

bday

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My cousin Donnie, whose art brings out emotions from all who gaze upon her work, held a cocktail party at her digs for a visiting curator at a museum in Michigan.  It was fun, and interesting and very chill.

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Shaka pulled the gang together for a Little Tokyo adventure. On a Friday night, we met up for Japanese tapas at Fuga Izakaya http://izakayafu-ga.com/.  Zappy got there first and was in a little private area behind a shimmery curtain.  She said since she was sitting there all by herself and was all lit up behind the curtain, she felt like she was a psychic waiting for clients to read their futures in her crystal ball.

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A meeting of the minds with Jazzy and Tamanda to watch the Bachelor finale  discuss our creative plans for the future.  I went kind of off the rails with my calorie counting but it was worth it.

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Reb hosted an Oscar party that was a nice reunion of folks I hadn’t seen in awhile.  Food, per usual, was delicious.  And like last year, I came in second in the Oscar pool.  *shakes fist into the air – so close

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Celebrated BY’s bday down in the Orange Curtain.  The road to get there, however hit a big of a snag. Jazzy, Reb, Shaka and I met at Mads’ to drive down there together.  We made a necessary stop at Starbucks for some fuel.  Jazzy was driving Mads’ car.  Except when she started it up for us to head out on our way, the car wouldn’t start.  It actually did sort of start but took on a life of its own.  We were half-in, half-out of a parking space blocking the already congested, tiny lot.  Tensions were running hotter as the guy in the car parked next to us, sat there with his windows open playing a flute along to the music on the radio.  He wouldn’t help us cuz he said he was better at watching a situation.  CLEARLY flute playing to the radio has made him think life is a film and he is creating the soundtrack.  Jerk floutist. Several people did help though and it turns out that Mads’ car only needed a new battery.  After some reshuffling, we all ended up at BY and Helou’s new place.  Shaka and I were obsessed with getting their dog Cooper to love us. She’s a beautiful Aussie Shepherd and I just love her!  Food was divine and the wine was a-flowing.  Helou is such a fantastic host!  I would hire him always to host any party, though it’s not what he actually does for living.

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I had yet to meet the beautiful baby Marlon.  His parents are the coolest and always throw great fetes.  It was Marlon’s first birthday and Shaka and I were not going to miss meeting this little smiling boy.  It was pirate-themed and Marlon-dad had made a drink that is supposed to be the first written-down cocktail recipe ever (from Pirate times I guess).  It’s called Dark ‘n Stormy and it was delicious.  I am not a rum person, but I could become one if all rum-tails tasted like this.  Marlon-dad couldn’t believe how fast it went.  He underestimated how many “thirsty” people were attending.  It was a hot day, but it was a fun celebration!  This is us after a few Dark ‘n Stormys.

C&K

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The Wrecking Crew (a nickname for a group of studio and session musicians that played anonymously on many records in LA during the 1960s.) is being honored in a documentary.  Shaka and I went to check out a screening and met Jazzy and her date.

It was bean bag seating which we had missed out on, so it was SRO for us.  But it was worth it.  Well, I must confess to sitting on the ground between two couches.   If you have a chance to see this film, you should!  It’s kind of amazing what this group of musicians accomplished.  I was amazed at the filmmaker’s music clearance aptitude, cuz there’s a lot of music up in there.

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Shaka and I took Leigh and Aubs to the screening of DreamWorks Animation “Home.”  Based on reviews and word of mouth, I didn’t have high hopes, but was happy to take 7 year old Aubs to a screening and explore downtown.  Well, color me surprised!  I absolutely loved loved loved this film!  The Jim Parsons’-voiced “Oh” is such an adorable little character.

After the screening, we wandered downtown.  I wanted to show them the Last Bookstore, but Aubs had to use the restroom.  Try finding a restroom downtown and everyone will direct you to the Starbucks.  F-that!  I wanted to show her that the world is full of options and locales you won’t find in a strip mall.

We found an indoor-outdoor space that years ago, I had seen with a Jesus-performance-art installation thing happening.

Nowadays, it housed a few cool restaurants and a gelato place – Gelateria Uli. Continue reading

It’s a Mads Mads World (and I am invited)

Getting a call from Mads in the morning can only mean one thing:  I am doing something cool that night.

What it’s also taught me is:  dress for day-to-night for said cool event/thing/outing.

Once upon a time, I came into work sick and she presented me with the invite to join her to go to the premiere of the film, “Magnolia.”  I looked a hot mess.  I went anyway, cuz…Hollywood premiere.

I didn’t know enough then to not care about looking like the riff/raff.  I do now. In order to stave off riff-raff-dom, I have a few items in my bag to make sure that I can at least upgrade from hot mess to “possibly invited party guest.”

The problem is that if I get Mads’s call when I am already en route to day job, I must work a little harder to pull the look together.  Thankfully, I wore something that was not entirely embarrassing.

I have been excited to see “Big Eyes” by Tim Burton since I heard about it.  I love the writers (they wrote “People Vs Larry Flynt” and “Ed Wood”. I have also come to love Amy Adams’ acting (though I had to work through my dislike of people with bunnymouths – I know, I am the worst).

Mads had scored some tix to see the world premiere screening (note- different than the world premiere) held at LACMA.

My trek towards the Miracle Mile was less than speedy and Mads had to play Scavenger Hunt Hostess to find someone to leave my ticket with.  It all worked out! Seeing old friends scattered throughout the crowd as well as my imaginary friends (but real people) like Catherine O’Hara also in the audience, I felt sated.  Mads had also emailed me that there was a show after at the Montalban Theater featuring a short-term supergroup helmed by Elvis Costello.  I was in.  In theory.  I already knew this cold I tried to conquer through holistic means was still stalking me and I wasn’t sure I would last the evening.

I loved the film!  I truly enjoy the ride of people with dysfunctions.  Now that I no longer court them in my real life, I do enjoy cinematically experiencing them.

After the film, there was a Q&A with Tim Burton, Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz.

bigeyes

Bunnymouth comment (see above), aside, I think I LOVE Amy Adams.  She speaks so elegantly.  And Christoph Waltz reminds me of men I met in Europe that would engage in deep discussions about love, art, novels, and philosophy over wine in smoke-filled bars.  Some of what he was saying was also akin to some of the meditation work I have been doing this week (so random, right?). As the lights came up, the front row swarmed the stars on stage for autographs and we headed to the lobby to mingle with our chums.

My tummy was growling with hunger and I was growing weak.  There was no way I would be able to make it to the New Basement Tapes show.  Mads understood.  But she was determined to go. Jazzy (who was also at the screening with Schnits) was joining her in my stead, but time was of the essence and like the tortoise and Madeleine, we were moving too slow for her. She was on a mission and we were slowing her down.  We all but ate her dust.

I got home exhausted and hangry.  Shaka had made me a little something to eat stating:  “I know how crappy you must feel to have given up going to that.”

True that.  Love that Shaka!

At the screening, we jokingly wondered if Johnny Depp would have a cameo in the film.

He did not.

But this morning, Mads emailed Jazzy and me this review about the show.  Johnny Depp was a surprise guest musician.  She had seen him after all!

http://www.mxdwn.com/2014/11/14/reviews/the-new-basement-tapes-put-on-stunning-one-off-show-featuring-haim-johnny-depp-and-more-review-setlist/

Am I sad I missed an amazing show?  Not sad.  But I know I would have loved it. Just bummed that I hadn’t stopped to nourish before the events of the evening took hold.
I learned that in addition to my day-to-night look, I must also bring sustenance in the event this happens again.

Knowing Mads, this kind of thing will happen again.

And knowing that it will, I should also be prepared with a parka, a bathing suit and a suitcase, so I can upgrade from “possibly invited party guest” to “shit yeah, you were invited!”

Zensday Wednesday – Adjusting the Antenna

Happy Zensday Wednesday!

I have had wonderful ideas for you to ponder the past few weeks, but one week, it came to me on a Tuesday and another on a Friday.  So, I haven’t been ignoring you, I have simply not been good at looking at a calendar! One thing that came to me was the idea of wanting to change your life and how would one go about it.

Cuz, really, how much can you change your personality?  Turns out, you don’t need vast changes to see improvements.

You only need to adjust your antennae.  You need to try to get a different channel.

And most important:  you NEED (sorry to be so demanding) NEED to show gratitude for what you already have.

This seems counter-intuitive when you don’t want aspects of the life you have.  But looked at another way, why would you want to pray, meditate, ask the universe (whatever you want to call it) for more things if you aren’t appreciative of what you have? Everyone has something they can look to in their life to say they are:  proud of, like, enjoy.

Even if it’s just:  hey, I am alive today and my legs are strong, or 8 1/2 of my fingers are working perfectly (one of my gratitude thoughts).

Hopefully and this is the challenge, you can come up with 10 things  you are grateful for in your life.  It might be tough at first but as you start to list it, the more you do it, the more you think of. I have started doing this lately and this week is a very different experience than last week.  Better – in case that wasn’t obvious. : )

On Monday, after being cognizant of what I am grateful for, I set the next challenge to be to stop the mentality of BATTLE aka Me vs Them. This was geared towards work and traffic and dealing with the public, in general.

What would it look like, if I were to not be an amoeba reacting to stimuli at every turn, but was really present in the moment and taking care of living on purpose. It started with traffic and I found that my knee jerk reaction was quick to blame and get angry at people I wouldn’t even be thinking about 5 minutes later.

It was a challenge, for sure.  But I managed to let people in who were trying to cut me off.

Love, I thought, I love that you are bold to cut in front of me.  And I smiled.

The 2 people who did that never thanked me. Ego, I thought, this is ego needing the appreciation.

Then one of the cars, after cutting me off and not thanking me, drove very slowly.

REALLY! I screamed.  Then I remembered.

I won’t remember the woman in the Jetta 5 minutes later (no I just remember her two days later for the purpose of this post – ha), and I thought, those few seconds are not worth my heart rate going up.  So, after my expletives, I let it pass.  Phew.

Later that day at work, an email from a co-worker started to make my blood boil.  He had failed to do a part of his job and knew it, but tried to put it on me.  Here’s the thing:  there was nothing to put on me…except his negative, blamey energy and I almost took the bait as I have many times before.

But I paused and realized I was in the clear and this was alllll ego (for both of us), so I responded with “Thank you!”  and I laughed.  It felt good.  It would have felt AMAZING to stick it to him, but that euphoria would have been short-lived and I would have entered the ring of lunacy – and lost, cuz let’s face it, he’s better at it.

Little victories without the battle.  Who’d a thunk it. It should be simple, and it kind of is.

The hard part is extracting yourself from past, rote behavior.

Rerouting your neural highway sounds more like the kind of thing that would set me off in traffic, but it’s a detour of the Zensday Wednesday kind.

Good luck with however you find your gratitude or however you decide to adjust your antenna to a channel that will serve you better!

I Blued Myself

I was born a blonde.  I didn’t stay a blonde naturally.  But that didn’t stop me from continuing from being one.

My hair grows very fast, so keeping up with the maintenance meant I needed to go out often.  My checkbook couldn’t take it.
Then I found ways to go in for “Apprentice nights” where I pay next to nothing to have a student at fancy salons work on my hair.  The time commitment was too much (most of those salons were across town) and you would be in the chair for awhile.

I LOVED the people who have worked on my hair!  But I needed to at least try to color my hair myself.

A year and a half ago, I found the youtube channel of Ellebangs!  She is awesome!  And her tips and advice gave me the confidence to go at it on my own.

It’s been great for the most part.  I color, I highlight and I tone.  I use a toning shampoo when I don’t want to use developers.

The one I was using was great but when I heard about a new one that was more pigmented, I couldn’t wait to try it.

I tried it.  My hair felt fantastic, and oh yeah, it was blue.

Here is my vlog about how I color corrected my gunmetal grey to become a fabulous blonde with household items.

Hope this helps, and even if you don’t need the help, hope it entertains!

The Challengers

On the walls of the day
In the shade of the sun
We wrote down
Another vision of us
We were the challengers of
The unknown     (lyrics from “The Challengers”)

I have been on vacation for two weeks.  Though it’s not the first time I have taken such an extended time off (people asked at work, “What are you?  French???” If only! Mais oui!), It feels like it might as well be since the change in me is profound.

The first week was spent with my sister visiting from Europe along with her kids and husband.  We rented a beach house near Ventura and Shaka and my dad joined as well.  Normally family vacations though well-intended can feel like a pressure-cooker of past grievances.  But it was such an enjoyable time (aside from my sister almost choking on rice and me panic-stricken in the ocean way past my depth trying to rescue my nephew, but I digress) and I even worked on my video projects.  First one is soon to come!  It was awesome to see dolphins and sea lions every day, as we surfed and chatted and fell down and laughed.  The sunsets seemed more vibrant while not having a rush-hour steering wheel clenched in my fists.

vacation

As if time with the family wasn’t enough of an identity reminder, the next week, as Shaka went back to work, my dad went back home and my sis and fam headed back across the pond, I found myself in a staycation of the best sort.  I converted my old audio cassettes to mp3s and I got another shot in the arm of my past (I also realized how annoying I was in these old recordings – but bygones : )

And it comes out to this… I like where I came from (I never thought I would say that).  I like where I am today even more.  I feel more empowered by excavating my memories and putting them in appropriate mental files (as well as actual Windows files – ha).

So with all this blissed-out, love-fest, vacation-girl time, I wondered why I still felt a sense of panic.  A feeling that the other shoe was going to drop.  The internal dialogue sometimes sounded like an external dialogue of theatrical proportions as I was driving around town, working out my worries.

I decided I was going to put old fears in a suitcase that gets lost in a transatlantic flight.  And then dropped in a fire pit.  And doused with forget-me-nots…uh, I wanted it gone.

Progress was underway.  I was driving around, not realizing how hot it was getting and how exhausted I was.  That night, Shaka came home and noticed I seemed listless.  I had a headache and neck ache and felt like I had lost all strength.  Then, right after dinner (with black rice – sooo healthy – sooo hard to find), I threw up.  Shaka looked up signs of a female heart attack – I had most of them.  I scoffed.  It was just hot.  It was just a tiring day.  But I promised him that the next day, I would call the doctor.

I awoke very refreshed but keeping my promise, I called.  The on call nurse wanted me to come into the ER.  WHAT?

Now I was nervous and started to imagine that I was having a heart attack right THEN.

6 hours later, EKGs, Xrays, all kinds of lab work and consultations and a Dr. Oz episode with a segment of women under 55 who have heart attacks (naturally I assumed this was a sign that I was never leaving that hospital bed) – it turns out, I had just experienced a vacation-induced Panic Attack.  Drama much?  If my old cassettes had proven anything, I hadn’t changed all that much.

hospital me

A clean slate feels pretty good (see happy face above – No Pain)

This weekend, Shaka and I headed to our friends’ place in Corona to celebrate birthdays, anniversary, last days of summer (tell that to the weather) and to ground ourselves with a meditation.

Plus there was wine and lots of it.; yummy food, good friends and pool time.  We all felt a bit like we had been tumble-dried this summer with life events.  Many of us had been awakened by physical problems to shift our thinking.  It was very comforting to know that we were not alone with some of what we had been experiencing.  I mean, just turn on the news or sports and you’ll know – the world is crazy lately!

What a balm, a salve, a healing, a …you get it.  It was good.

I made a mixed cd for the hostess.  One of the songs was an older one from the New Pornographers called, The Challengers.

I love the tune. But there is something even more powerful about the lyrics – like we are cutting a swath through this strange plain of existence.

In the end, all these details, all these emotions don’t really matter.  We only have to exist from cradle to grave and experience it all – for good or bad.  But I am grateful for my family, for my relationship, for my friends, for the adventures of the past two weeks.  Grateful for the challenges of what it means to be human and for all these emotions and all these details because they are what make us unique in our common experience.  To be challenged is natural.  How we handle it, is how we learn.

“Until I see you around
Until we clear the accounts
Leave it there
Leave it to us
We are the challengers of
The unknown”