Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just like that episode of Friends

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and in the spirit of the holiday I have decided to list (what can I say…I love me some list-making) what I’m thankful for this year.

1. My deliciously geeky husband who will watch obscure European films with me, clean the hair out the bathroom drain WITHOUT COMPLAINING and who’ll never let me go to sleep mad.

2. My parents who plan their vacations three years in advance.

3. My brother who taught me everything I ever wanted to know about tripod fish, fossa, and vampire squid. Oh yeah, and Batman.

4. My in-laws who can play cards for hours and days on end.

5. The apple-loving baby who has been kicking up a storm the past few days

6. My super-mutt puppy who always brings you one shoe when you arrive home

7. Friends that make me laugh, even when nothing is funny.

8. The fact that Thanksgiving means I can officially start listening to Christmas music as of Friday morning.

9. My good health, the roof over my head and the fig-infused vinegar in my pantry

10. My awesome kitchen with a rock-star oven

11. Softlips Chapstick. The best chapstick to weather the Santa Ana winds.

12. That Chuck is returning to NBC in January

13. Aroma café’s chai tea latte. It’s truly the best one in Southern California (and trust me, I’ve practically made it my mission to try them all and see).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A baker’s dozen: My favorite books

We’ve been cleaning out our closets, garage and bookshelves in the Rossini household to make way for the newest family member arriving. This has led to some serious discussions on what to keep, box up or goodwill (yes, I just made Goodwill a verb), especially in the way of books. It’s no secret that J and I love books, and are running out of room for them! We need a bigger house, not because of the baby, but because of our book obsession. (And, this baby already has quite the collection of books). So, inspired by Jen Laceda’s and Erica Johansson’s “A Suitcase of my Favourite Books” I decided to make my own, this is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorites; I had to stop somewhere. As I don’t like to discriminate, this list includes all types of books. Even cookbooks.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen Every girl’s favorite, right? Especially those obsessed with Victorian England. I only allow myself to read this once a year.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys A sequel to Jane Eyre (also a classic favorite) about Rochester’s first wife Bertha Mason, the “madwoman in the attic.” I’m not sure if this is my favorite because I love it so much or because I practically memorized it when writing a paper for a conference.

Make the Most of Your Time on Earth: A Rough Guide to the World published by Rough Guides. The book has 1000 places to travel to, with unusual destinations and cliché tourist attractions with descriptions and beautiful photography to boot. I use this when planning our next adventures, or merely when I want to armchair travel.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I stayed up the entire night devouring this book, and actually cried when I finished (because it was over, and well, you just love that Francie Nolan so much at the end!)

Tulips, Chips & Mayonnaise by Dawn Cairns Chick lit at its finest. An Irish friend passed this book off to me before I left Dublin for my cliché European backpack tour. You’ll cringe and laugh at the familiar recognition of the plight of Sorrell.

A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson Another chick-lit novel, but with a Christian twist. I recently sent a copy of this to my good friend who needed a bit of cheering up. It’s fun and heartfelt with the perfect happy ending.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac My all-time favorite quote comes from this novel. I love the sense of complete and total abandon-adventures of Sal & Dean.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant The story of Dinah from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Basically, I want to attend Hogwarts. Nuff said.

The Autobiography of Henry VII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George This hefty tome may intimidate you, but it need not. The author creates a sympathetic and historically accurate picture of this much-maligned English king.

Weber’s Big Book of Grilling Besides reading, we love to grill. There is not a single loser among the 350 recipes, but my personal favorite is the pulled pork sandwiches. Yum.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day I’d rather bake bread over cookies, any day. And this book is hands-down fabulous. I am just diving into the recipes, but so far every loaf of bread has been mouth-watering.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott When I was in junior high, I read this over and over and over pretending that Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy were my sister’s too (I think I was pretty desperate for a sister, eh?)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being a tourist In your hometown


I remember one of the very first times I hung out with my friend Lara. We were freshmen in college, and she being cool enough to have a car and was gracious enough to drive me home so that I didn’t have to take the bus after track practice (well, I think it was track practice). See, we knew each other around the locker room as we both ran, and I believe we had a math class together where we discussed pies and word problems and not numbers (that was my kind of math class) But, I remember sitting in the parking lot of my apartment just talking, and talking, and talking. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember how cool this girl was.

Since then we had fake ID’s (which mine was swiped only a few short months later!), made wine (badly) in Biology class, danced all night at a club in Madrid, celebrated 21st birthdays, bachelorette parties, weddings and more. In fact, I just realized that we’ve been friends for ten years. You know those friends you had when you were single, and then they got married...and well, you know where I’m going. Luckily, her husband and J can sit and talk sports, sports, and more sports (did I mention sports?) for hours, which is perfect and gives us time to swap makeup tips, gossip and solve each other’s latest dramas. And, a few weekends ago, they decided to come down to LA for a visit, and since Mike is a cheesehead (because he’s from Wisconsin, not because he has a head of cheese) we decided to hit up the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, those Highly Touristy Tourist Activity Favored Almost Exclusively By Tourists. 

Now, for all my talk of being a native Californian and despising Los Angeles, there’s something nice, it must be said, about being a tourist in your own town – after you’ve lived somewhere for a while, you find that you’ve sort of passed the window for doing the things you never did before you lived here, and every time you think “hey perhaps we should check out Venice Beach,” you immediately follow it up with “oh, but it’ll be packed with tourists,” and some perverse sort of snobbery sets in.



Look at that fresh, clean air I breathe every day. Yum.



Well, down with the snobbery! I say, and let’s all embrace our inner fannypack-wearing, camera-wielding, guidebook-carrying day trippers, shall we? Nobody says you have to buy the commemorative mouse pad, though. I mean, that's what the real tourists are for.