House Porn

A friend recently sent me the architectual designs for a condo they are remodeling.  I shut my office door, put on some jazz on Spotify and let myself go.  The more stressed or anxious I feel the more I need the release of house porn.  Aspirational photos, design ideas, fabric samples, oh yeah baby.  I may never use you, but,oh, yeah, give it to me.

I can go on a tear sometime.  Lately I was fascinated with the idea of a copper sink.  I love apron sinks, but a copper apron sinks, now that’s living.  So pretty, and rich, yet earthy.  Needs some good lighting… Or I get fixated on wallpaper or rugs.  Right now I’m keen on a Greek key pattern.  I’d love one for my office.  Rex has a new blank wall since we moved his bed and now I’m looking at colorful wall decor. Rocket ship? More clouds?

We have a really beat couch.  It had been used and rode hard by our family and when my stepson’s Ben’s cats arrived the poor thing became a scratching post.  It’s now dead couch walking.  Ben and the cats are moving soon so I day dream about what couch I will get.  I’m thinking sort of streamline, yet comfortable enough for a Sunday NY Times lay about in the warmth of the sun coming in from the window. Something that does’t smell like cat for starters.

I get myself worked up wanting to buy just one special, pretty thing for my house.  Then something like this appears

Yes, the dishwasher died.  I think this gaping hole might be the first thing I need to tackle.

There goes that sink/rug/coach fund.

 

My boobs stopped watching the Oscars and went to dinner

Weird show.  The start of the Oscars was choppy.  That Boob song was not right for a show at 5:30pm that the entire family is watching, but moreover it wasn’t funny.  I liked seeing stars perform instead of sitting in their seats.  I could watch Channing Tatum do…absolutely…any…thing.  But, the “let’s make it about me” Seth Mcfarlane thing was cringy.

Last year my brother in law Kevin Tent was nominated for best editing for “The Descendants”.  NOW that was exciting.  For four years I had to watch the show with an eagle eye on fashion as the co host of the now defunct “The Fashion Team” on TV Guide Channel.  With no dog in the fight I was inclined to be less interested.  Although, I like a lot of the films this year.  “Silver Linings Playbook” was my big favorite.  Watching this year with my sisters  and their families I got antsy.  I wanted to go see my husband.  This past weekend Mark did his first ever pop up.

A pop up is a temporary restaurant.  A chef will take over an empty restaurant space, or one that closes at night, make a limited menu for a limited number of days.  I arranged for Mark to do this with a group called This is not a pop up.  It was the first time he would be cooking for the public since Campanile closed.  I know he misses the interaction he had with his customers.  Unlike when he had the full staff of Campanile he and his chef de cuisine Chris Eddy made everything.  The cookies, ice cream, cheese grits, broth, everything from scratch, themselves.

Mark with line cook Jay, chef de cuisine Chris. Together again. Campanile in Exile

The weekend had gone well, but Oscars would take customers.  So I thought, “Why am I watching a bunch of millionaires win trophies when I could be supporting my hard working, talented husband?”  Carole came with me and we had Mark’s Oscar special “Argo fuck yourself lamb with mint yogurt.”  ( it’s a line in the film, takes place in Middle East)

Mark and my sister Carole at the pop up

Delish.  It’s a small place so we talked to the people next to us and convinced them to vote for Eric Garcetti for mayor.  We had the homemade creme fraiche ice cream with prunes marinated in brandy and shortbread cookies.

When we got back Cecily rewound the DVR for us so we could see Striesand sing “The way we were”  dang, that was good.  The Michele Obama thing looked odd.  If Ang Lee hadn’t won I would have won the Oscar pool.  Instead, my nephew won. Rex was asleep on the couch, Viv was exhausted.  Packed them up and went home with extra shortbread cookies in my bag for the morning.

Next year, unless someone I know is nominated, I think I will DVR the whole thing and sit out the live telecast.  I like to see the big numbers, the tribute to dead people, but the cringy, inappropriate stuff, I will pass on.

Speaking of pass…honey, pass me more of that mint yogurt you made.

 

 

LA Mayor Race

On President’s day I was sitting in LA City Councilman’s Eric Garcetti’s house making cold calls to voters while my children played upstairs in his bedroom with his daughter…how did I get here?  This is my story… 

“Since when do people care about the LA Mayor’s race?” a friend queried the other night at dinner.  It’s kind of true.  It seem like a bigger deal this year, but I can’t tell, because it’s a bigger deal to me personally.   

Being politically minded since I was in pre school and campaigning for my dad I always pay attention.

my dad running for re election in Culver City. I'm the one with the peace sign

However, this year I’m much more involved because we are friends with one of the candidates, Eric Garcetti.

Now, for non Angelenos, bear with me. This is still the life of a mom trying to keep her hand in the world and teach her kids at the same time. Eric is a city council member of the 13th district (Silver Lake,Hollywood), he was city council president for years.   In a race with two women in it Garcetti got the endorsement of the National Organization for Women.  A couple of highlights in that arena:

– More than 60 percent of his commission appointees have been women, and many of top posts in his staff are held by women.

Eric tripled the number of parks in his district.   He has been a big supporter of charter schools. He got aftercare in all of the public schools in his districts. His district had job growth even during the recession.

Now, those are the beats on a good brochure and things that line up with my politics.  But, the personal is what puts this over the top.  I wrote a few years ago about being at a dinner party where I met Councilman Garcetti and his mom Sukey Garcetti.  My husband already knew them since Eric’s sister had worked for him and because at the helm of one of top restuarants in LA for over 20 years my husband knows everyone.

I was entranced as I spoke to mother and son.  They are warm, down to earth, smile on their face.  Over the course of dinner I learned that Eric is an accomplished jazz pianist, Rhodes scholar, Navel Reserve and foster parent.  I asked Sukey, “How did you raise a child like this?” wanting to duplicate her results.

“Hold them close and then let them go.” She smiled.  I knew there had to be more to it than that.  I kept in touch with Sukey for dinner.   Sukey’s husband Gil is a former District Attorney of LA .  Then we heard Eric was going to run for Mayor.

first of many events

Mark agreed to do the food for an event.  This was back in ’11.  Eric was efusisive in his appreciation for Mark’s contribution and when Eric spoke to the party about why he was running for Mayor I was moved.  He is a true Angeleno, not one of these sad sack actors who has come to rape the land and complain about the pizza.  He is 4th generation and he is a mix like LA itself, Jewish, Mexican with an Italian last name who grew up in the Valley.

Little Eric with grandfather and sister

Last March when The Tar Pit closed I reached out to Eric’s office to see if he had  ideas of where we could relocate in his district.  He met us right away with an aid who helped with business development.  For other business reasons we didn’t act on this fact finding mission, but we appreciated his direct approach to helping a small business maintain viability.

As his campaign slowly ramped up I kept in touch with one of his associates so I could figure out how best to help.  I heard him talk many times at small meet and greets at people’s homes.  He has Clinton like charisma with Zen calm.  He deftly handles all questions with charm and a vigourious understanding of the issues.  One can see how he is a former college instructer as he lays out an issue, it’s problems and solutions.   I always learn when I hear him speak.

I threw a “Grilled Cheese For Garcetti” luncheon for Eric at Campanile last summer  ( oh, remember when we still had a restaurant?) to introduce him to LA mom bloggers.  Sukey attended as well so mom and son could work their charm offensive.  Some of my favorite mom bloggers were there like Donna Schwartz Mills of SoCal mom,  Jessica Gottlieb, MomsLA, Yvonne and Sarah ( their video with him here) , Heather Spohr, Kim Tracy PrinceSarah Maizes

Sarah Maizes, Jessica Gottlieb, Yvonne Condes, Sarah Auerswald

Sarah, you may remember her for her hilarious star turn in one of my “how to be a mom ” series with Cafe Mom.  She played the annoying parent.

"let's vote for Eric Garcetti for mayor"

My sister Carole, of LaGirlNow was there as well and immediately signed up to do an event for Eric.  She packed her lovely home in November for a big cocktail party where many people got to hear Eric talk about his vision for LA. Carole gave him a great introduction where she said the Brogdon girls hadn’t been active in a LOCAL campaign since one of our dad’s, but Eric had inspired us to get back involved.    He took many questions that night and one was from a man who was a bit grouchy.  (My sister wanted to leap across her living room and knock the plate of middle eastern food out of his hand that she had provided for being so cranky at her gathering.)  Eric handled it smoothly and with answered his concerns in detail ( it was about the business tax). He let the guy know he was hearing him.  That man now has a “Garcetti for Mayor” sign on his lawn. It’s one of the many times I’ve seen the councilmen with a “water off a ducks” back ease about whatever comes his way.  He is never thrown for a loop and is up on the issues.

Okay, so that takes you up to the end of 2012… More on this story of my local politics renaissance tomorrow.

 

funny gal guide to organization

As I always say when someone asks if I would be interested interviewing someone, “will they come to my house?”  I don’t offer that if the subject doesn’t interest me, but when I saw the title of this book “The Funny Woman Guide to Get Organized Now” by Isabella McBride I gave her my address.  I’m funny, I always need to be more organized.

Let’s meet this lass.  Starting Thursday her E-book will be available for FREE.  So, jump on it. To get the book click HERE

Muesday

Wait, isn't it Museday?

As language evolves we sometimes need to nudge it to keep up with us.  Thus I propose a new word: Muesday.  Not a day to look for inspiration, but a day after a school or federal holiday where your Tuesday becomes a Monday.

This Museday had me behind the eight ball.  Vivien growled at me from her nightgown, “where is the Nutella mom?  You said you do the shopping on Monday.”

Yes, I started to answer, it is Monday. But, wait!!  Cut to sharp close up of my face in startled terror.  Oh, no it’s TUESDAY.

Everything gets backed up.  Right after drop off I ran to the store.  I actually had to tell myself when I remembered the calls and tasks for work related things I had to do, “just act like an adult, just bear down.”  I wanted it to be Fuesday.  That would mean the end of the week.

 

 

My Funny Valentine

Remember when Nordstroms still had a piano player?  Well, after college I worked at Nordstroms for a few months. Freaking hated it.  They are hard core and it’s very tough to make your commission in Personal Accessories   when people return stuff — remember how they take everything back– a check that you thought was going to be good jumps down to piddle.  Back in the old days I had to sell $130 an hour to make my commission. That was a TON of money BACK then.   After Christmas it was tough.  But, I stuck it out while I lived at my mom’s and took classes and internships in broadcasting.

I folded scarves in our down time.  Every body touches the scarves.  Everybody touches them and doesn’t buy them.  So, I’m folding scarves for WEEKS praying I get a job in radio so I can quit this job while that piano player is playing “My Funny Valentine” over and over and over and over.  No wonder I started to turn on the day.

Cut to present day and I get TONS of emails asking me if I’m going to feature some gifts for V- day.  I think they meant to go to coolmompicks.com  ( they do stuff, I do stuff in my head).  Mind you I married a chef so Valentine’s day has always meant a lot of work and good biz for him.  Even this year when he is sans restaurant he is catering a dinner. My date is going to be one of my oldest male ( gay) friends.  We were briefly an item before he knew for sure he was gay back in college.  I knew he was, but he was ( and is) so attractive I wanted to hit that before he figured it out.   We are great friends and he is making Chicken Tagine.  We will drink red wine  ( chased with shitakes of course for brightness) and watch “Beast of the Southern Wild”.  Can’t wait.

Okay, so what will I get my husband for Valentine’s day?  The best thing I could give him.  Kindness.  Okay, now play the video.

Getting a mouth ready for Valentine’s day

I’ve put those trays on my teeth some evenings to brighten my smile.  Discolored teeth are so unattractive, but tough when you like coffee, tea and red wine like I do.

HMM, MAYBE I DID DRINK TOO MUCH RED WINE WHILE WATCHING “DOWNTON ABBEY LAST NIGHT?  MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE SNACKED ON SHITAKE MUSHROOMS”

I got a pitch in the mail bag from www.ManhattanDentalArts.com . listing food that dirty your teeth and those that clean them up.  So, getting ready for kisses on Valentine’s day by drinking pineapple juice and carrying a straw to a wine bar.

1.     Black Coffee and Black Tea—The darker the beverage, the more staining that can occur. So try adding a little extra milk to lighten the color and reduce the staining effect.

2.     Wine—Both red and white wines if taken in excess will stain your teeth.   Although red stains, white wine’s acidic composition actually etches tiny grooves in your teeth making them more porous and more easily stained.

3.     Colas and Sports Drinks—Because they are so highly acidic, they help promote staining by other foods.

4.     Berries– Blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries and other berries, although excellent for your overall health, can stain your teeth. So, if you’re crazy for berries, be sure to rinse out your mouth thoroughly with water after each indulgence.

5.     Beets—Now here’s a vegetable that could put a powerful stain in your t-shirt, so, like all foods that stain, moderation is called for with this one.

6.     Sauces—Soy sauce and tomato sauce, as well as other deeply colored sauces, are believed to have significant staining potential.

7.     Juice—Grape, pomegranate and cranberry are highly pigmented and can cause staining.  So, if you must imbibe, try rinsing your mouth out with water or drinking juices through a straw, thereby bypassing the fronts of your teeth

8.     Pickles and ketchup—These acidic foods are good at opening up the pores of your tooth enamel allowing for easy staining.

9.     Balsamic Vinegar—While great on a salad, causes havoc to your teeth.  If you must, try it on lettuce, which has a natural ability to provide a protective film over your teeth.

10.  Candy–Sweets contain teeth-staining coloring agents. If your tongue turns a funny color, there’s a good chance that your teeth will too.

11.  Curry—Although great on Indian food, this yellow-staining food flavoring can be harsh on teeth. So make sure to rinse thoroughly after indulging.

12.  Popsicles—Did you ever look at your tongue after you’ve finished your fruity, sugary pop? Not only does it color your tongue, but also your teeth.  Plus, it has added double whammy negative effect produced by all of that sugar. So, limit your intake and rinse with water after finishing.

12 Tooth-Whitening Foods 

1.     Apples and pears increase salivary production which flushes away stains over time.

2.     Pineapple acts as a natural stain remover.

3.     Carrots contain vitamin A which is needed for healthy tooth enamel.

4.     Cauliflower and cucumbers also help to increase salivary production the natural way to flush away stains.

5.     Green vegetables like broccoli, lettuce and spinach contains iron which helps form an acid-resistant film or barrier that can protect the enamel on your teeth.

6.     Shitake mushrooms help inhibit bacteria from growing in your mouth.

7.     Onions help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.

8.     Cheese is rich in protein, calcium and phosphorus, all of which can help safeguard the acids in your mouth.

9.     Salmon provides calcium and vitamin D, nutrients needed for healthy bones and teeth.

10.  Poppy and sesame seeds help scrub away plaque.

11.  Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory to support healthy mouth tissue.

12.  Basil is a natural antibiotic that reduces bacteria in the mouth.

This is why you should cook for people

So few people cook that if you do they will think you are a rock star.

They will talk about how good your cooking is.

Especially if it’s a pot luck.

Rex’s school said they were doing a community night. Now, none of us parents really understood what that was.  I had been cajoling the room parent ( a dad, thankfully who gets acerbic humor) that we needed  a wine night for the parents to bond.  I’ve been down this road and after pre school the parents aren’t as much fun.  Let’s hang out while we still like each other.  But, this community night threw off our planned wine-o night.  Well, that’s okay, I’m sure it’s a chance for them to tell us how genius our kids are when they finger paint or some profound reflection about blocks.  Don’t we all want to hear that stuff? So we all trekked into the teeny, tiny classroom per instructed and brought something to eat or drink, per instructions.  I made a savory tart.

However, it was really a wine-o night in a teeny, tiny preschool room with teeny tiny seats.  One of the teachers was there, but there was no slide show about development or where they were going to go to college.  The parents are a great bunch and we did all enjoy the gab, but it would have BETTER to have been in full sized chairs. Also, there were only a few bottles of red wine brought ( my kingdom for a dry white) and when one latecomer brought in a  bottle after all the others had been drained, the opener had vanished.  I snuck into another group of captive parents to grab theirs. 

I hurt for them.  They were in the teeny tiny chairs IN A CIRCLE. No chance for sex jokes in that set up. They looked glum.  I ran back to my room.  “Ha, ha, the Dolphin room ( names changed to protect the innocent) is in a circle”

“suckers”  jeered one dad. As I tore into the last remaining bottle.  Back off I yelled, in my head, it’s all for me!

So, the other issue is the FOOD.  One other mom made meatballs, good choice.  There was a cheese plate on a dish that wasn’t level, so when you went to the cut the cheese (no fart joke intended) it kept flopping over.  There was a couple of other things in PACKAGES.  In some cases, not out of their packages. How appetizing. No one touched them.

I made an inadequate savory tart.  Ricotta cheese, some spices, carmelized onions on puff pastry.  I had high hopes for it, but it was a bit on the dry side.  I have done better in the past.  But, people like it, because so few people cook.  People don’t even know what home made food looks like anymore.

I could get evangelical, but instead I’m going back to the drawing board for my savory tart.

The morale of the story is: cook for people, they appreciate it and drinking is more fun in an area where your kids don’t nap.

sibling rivalry

our topic of the day is sibling relationships with my experts Rex and Vivien.  They are also part of a blended family.  Under our roof right now we have off spring aged nearly 4, 7, and 27 with visits from a 19 year old.

In my mind I’m hosting a show with a large reach and today my guests are the two youngest kids in the house about how they feel about getting along with their siblings.

Let’s hear what these little pixies have to say!

Tis the season.. for mucus and barf

Viv woke up sounding like Brenda Vaccaro.

http://youtu.be/9-Q-01JAWNo

No, she wasn’t telling me about the attributes of Tampax, but a throaty voice that would make Ashton Kutcher turn around to see if his estranged wife was in the room.  Took her to the doctor, no strep. Decided she needed a strawberry shake as salve.  When we got home  I sat down and fell asleep for 90 minutes. Not normal that I fall asleep like that in the afternoon.  I wake up to Rex vomiting.   At one point Rex climbed up to the toilet seat.  He can get his entire body on the seat. I tried to move him back to the bed.
“No, mommy.”  I know, kid sometimes you just feel the need to be near the toilet.  I sat next to him and he started to snore.  I waited a few minutes till he was deeper asleep and then I moved him.  So, glad he stayed asleep.

While I lay next to him hearing him snore like a middle aged man, I read “Below Stairs”.  A memoir of a British maid that inspired Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs.  Spoiler alert, in real life they don’t like their bosses like they do in Downton Abbey. Good read.

Viv is back at school today.  Rex is all better, but keeping him home.  I really don’t know how full time working parents do this without full time help. A servent in jolly old England, forget it.  No wonder Edith turned to the streets.   Since I’m under employed right now I can lay next to my baby and rub his back all day if needed.  Course at some point I need to bring some money in here.

Maybe I could sell tampons?