About Me

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Lala land, CA
Hello! I'm Alex, an early 30-something who resides in downtown LA with my husband, pup, and portly cat. I work in TV and Film, oscillating between different departments as I weave a web of a career and try to figure out how to be a better person. As a collector of beautiful things I'd like to take this opportunity to share the little things in life that make me smile...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

a few places I'd like to hang out...

to be honest I'm pretty content to be hanging out exactly where I am for a while but I still daydream, and since it's summer my daydreams are centering around large, cool bodies of water...


Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe is an extra special spot for me - 6 years ago Christian proposed while we were relaxing on one of those magnificent boulders, surrounded by the clearest, bluest water in the world.  A year later we got married in Tahoe and had a bbq/rehearsal dinner in the same exact spot :) Sadly we haven't been back since!  I think it's about time...


For a minute I was planning an epic trip to Scandinavia.  Since my new training program now owns me and my free will for the next two years I've put those plans aside - but first chance we get we are heading to Norway!!  Check out this Norwegian website depicting national scenic tourist routes - it has definitely inspired us to take a road trip! Seriously some of the most beautiful photos ever!


Another destination on our 'Epic Vacation' to do list is Turkey - and specifically the Pamukkale pools to go swimming amongst ruins.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let them eat CAKE!

Upside down Peach Cake!!!

This is hands down my favorite cake (though I usually make it with plums).  Like all my other recipes it's super simple but always impresses (though I think prettier when made with plums).  A perfect summer cake using yummy fresh fruit that's in season!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan, at room temperature
  • firm, ripe plums (or peaches - I used white and yellow), each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



Directions

1.  Heat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the plums and 1/4 cup of the sugar and cook, tossing, until the sugar dissolves and the juices from the plums become syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Arrange the plums/peaches in the cake pan in slightly overlapping concentric circles, starting from the outside. Spoon any pan juices over the top.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4.  With an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, sour cream, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.

5.  Pour the batter over the plums and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Place a large plate over the cake pan and invert the cake onto the plate.



Monday, July 25, 2011

It's the little things that make me smile: today it's not taking life too seriously

Ohhh my - I haven't posted in while.  I'll be honest.  I have a hard time with balance. I was working hard, long hours and neglected my blogging :(

I have a lot to smile about these days.  I was accepted into and have started a highly competitive training program in my industry.  Finally climbing a career ladder instead of hopping from job to job.  My husband just found out that he got a fantastic job, a huge break in his career.  And my mother is doing better than ever, she found a renter for her home in Florida and is really enjoying her new life here in California.  I'm very grateful - these are exciting days.

Speaking of smiling I love this tongue and cheek South African airline company, Kulula, that really doesn't take itself too seriously (just as long as the pilots take it seriously).  Too bad they don't fly internationally!





Wednesday, June 29, 2011

a few places I'd like to hang out...

I'm back at work helping my good friend/mentor/hero Monica prep a feature and wow has it been hectic!  Been going a millions miles a minute so this week here are some places I'd like to hang out...at least in my head!

Gazing out the window of this gorgeous house in Spain designed by Belgian architectural firm Bruno Erpicum and Partners


Cliffside at the Caves resort in Jamaica


Swinging in a hammock in the middle of some enchanted forest


Friday, June 24, 2011

I want I want: Fancy Feet

In a world where I could justify spending $600 on shoes I would choose these Miu Miu pumps and wear them everyday....



Thursday, June 23, 2011

it's the little things that make me smile: today it's fresh fruit


I have been inhaling fresh raspberries and blueberries lately.  Everyday my husband and I eat at least a pint of each...and I swear that this season they are the best ever!  I also just bought a bunch of peaches from the farmer's market in downtown LA and am planning on making an upside down peach cake (I usually make a plum version) so check back in the next couple of days so see how that turns out.

The following fruits and veggies are in season this month and next (and some of their health benefits) so get out to your local farmer's market and load up!  And don't be afraid to stock pile - you can always make jams and can leftovers so you can savor summer all fall and winter!

Fresh fruit - so simple, so pretty, so good for you, so yummy.  Truly a little thing that makes me smile!

June & July fruits & veggies in season:


-Strawberries - high in age defying antioxidants
-Blueberries - improves memory
-Raspberries - lower blood pressure and raise HDL (the good cholesterol)
-Cherries - contain melatonin and can help regulate sleep patterns & aid with jet lag
-Plums - better for keeping your eyesight than carrots!
-Peaches - maintain healthy urinary and digestive functions
-Watermelon - helps combat the inflammation that contributes to asthma, arthritis, and diabetes
-Apricots - helps prevent heart disease
-Kiwis - more vitamin C than and orange, more potassium than a banana, fiber & vitamin E
-Corn - lowers risk of intestinal problems like colon cancer
-Lettuces - the dark green leaves have folic acid which is essential in preventing early stage birth defects
-Cucumbers - improves your skin's complexion
-Tomatoes - cancer fighting lycopene
-Green Beans - little know fact that they pack an important omega 3 fatty acid punch!

For what's in season during other months click here.


Jammin....



Every year I make jams for brunch get togethers or as gifts and they are so ridiculously easy and yet never fail to impress!  Below are two of my all time favorite (Peach Rosemary and Simple Strawberry) and you can find some more great recipes in this month's Sunset magazine.



Ingredients
2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Directions
In a wide bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don't bother with processing, and just refrigerate.

To test for jelling
Place three plates in a freezer... after about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the liquid of the jam onto the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate... if it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned!



Ingredients
3 pounds yellow peaches, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 3/4 cups sugar
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
Directions
Halve and pit peaches, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice; toss. Add sugar and rosemary; toss. Cover; let stand, tossing every hour, for 4 hours (sugar should be completely dissolved).

Put peach mixture into a large, wide pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until liquid is syrupy, 12 to 13 minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher, leaving one-quarter of the wedges intact. Skim foam from surface. Discard rosemary sprigs.

Seal and process: Fill hot, sterilized 4-ounce jars with hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch space in each jar's neck. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth; cover tightly with sterilized lids and screw rings. Transfer jars, using tongs or a jar clamp, to the rack of a large canning pot filled with hot water, keeping jars upright; cover with water by 2 inches. (Jars should be spaced 1 inch apart and should not touch sides of pot.) Cover; bring to a boil. Process jars in gently boiling water 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool 24 hours. If lids pop back when pressed, they are not sealed; refrigerate immediately, and use within 1 month. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A few places I'd like to hang out...

An inviting outdoor bedroom in a shady grove (from Sunset)

Sunny day beds at Jacque Grange's rustic hideaway in Portugal (via le style et la matiere)

A teepee in Saskatchewan (via the 10 cent designer on sfgirlbybay)




it's the little things that make me smile: today it's a clean house

I love it when our house is clean.  Really clean.  Not just tidy, but organized and spotless.  It's rare and it doesn't last long (between the dog and me mainly) but when it does happen it's heaven.  Whenever the house is clean, like today, it usually inspires me to do something...like cook, which makes it super messy super fast.  The problem with a small space that consists mainly of one big room (our loft is 895 sq ft), is that everything little thing left out equals clutter and mess.  But I'm figuring out clever ways to contain our stuff while still being able to show off a few of my favorite things.  And I'm constantly pairing down.  I have to think really long and hard about every purchase I make.  Where will it go?  Does it serve a function?  Can it replace something?

Today my house was clean and pretty and relaxing.  It made me smile.  I turned on some music super loud and took lots of pictures to savor the moment.  I'm having issues uploading photos at the moment but here is a slide show OR you can....

Click here for a tour of my oh so clean loft!



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Best damn chocolate chip cookies EVER!





Being the good wife that I am I love to bake for my husband (ok, and for myself).  I have tirelessly tried and tested countless chocolate chip cookie recipes and techniques in search of the BEST one. So here it is...the best damn recipe for the best damn chocolate chip cookies...crispy around the edges and chewy in the middle.


(a slightly altered/perfected recipe based on this Martha Stewart recipe




THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE:

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 sticks SALTED butter (room temperature)
*I prefer using salted butter and then not adding any addt’l salt
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
Directions
Sift together flour,  baking powder, and baking soda.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon measurer drop a heaping blob of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

**NOW THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: You can do one of two things to achieve pretty much the same result.  Either take a small glass, run the bottom of the glass under water and then smash the cookie dough down with the bottom of the glass (I use small ball jars) OR refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes.  Either of these two techniques will yield that crispy on the edges and gooey in the middle perfect cookie but I slightly prefer the pounding with a glass technique - It's more fun :)

Bake until golden around edges but soft in the middle, about 13 minutes.  DO NOT OVERCOOK or you'll loose the gooey center!!  

Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

The dough lasts 4-5 days if refrigerated and yields around 24 cookies  I usually cook about half of the dough and leave the rest to snack on as is.  I also usually make a few for myself sans chocolate chips...I call them 'Just Cookies'.

Monday, June 20, 2011

it's the little things that make me smile: today it's crossing things off my TO DO list!

After 6 months on my To Do list I finally get to cross off two sizable (for me) projects!!  It is such a satisfying feeling!!  The actual, physical act of taking a pen and crossing out a line of a list really really makes me smile.

Now for the other 30 odd projects on my never ending To Do lists...nothing can stop me now!  Confronting my addiction to lists in on my to do list, but I don't think that will be next.

Painting my husband's work 'nook' was high on the list and I'm over the moon with how it turned out.  Adds so much depth to the living room and feels...grown up.  I still need to paint his desk...I'm thinking a lighter grey to compliment the now grey wall.


BEFORE:



AFTER:




Also crossed off the list was painting our bedroom dresser and changing out the knobs.  It was the first piece of furniture we ever bought upon moving to CA 8 years ago.  And as of last week it looked like crap.  Ikea furniture doesn't exactly pass the test of time.  But a little paint and some new hardware did the trick:


BEFORE:




AFTER: