Friday, January 15, 2010

Waiting on an Autumn Muse from Lithuania

So I've solemnly sworn NOT to buy any fugly maternity clothes, and dammit, I'm sticking to it. One: I hate pastels. Two: I hate the idea of spending money on stuff I'll never wear again. Three: I love clothes and I don't want to sacrifice what little sense of style I have just because I'm gestating. So as I hit the 3-month mark and start to develop the inevitable pooch, I've been getting my Etsy fix, digging through the many amazing little shops to find some comfortable and versatile alternatives to moo moos and pastel crap with appliques. (Yes, I know maternity clothes have come a long way, but it's just the principal. No offense to any maternity clothes makers or wearers...)
I'm currently impatiently awaiting an Autumn Muse all the way from Vilnius. I love LeMuse's sexy, drapy, and totally form-forgiving designs. I imagine it will kind of be like wearing a giant sock. One that can be work with naked shoulders or without. Best part, I'll still be able to wear it after the kidlet is born. Hell, I might even be able to fit the baby in it, bjorn and sweater all in one. Very national geographic, but who knows, I might be comfortable. I probably won't look as good as this pastoral Lithuanian damsel, but I'm gonna try!

Short Note: Cube's Blood Orange Soda

Once upon a time, I used to frequent Cube Marketplace & Cafe for lunch. Back then when you ordered an italian soda, it was one of those lovely little San Pellegrino bottles or cans. Today, it's something altogether different and delicious. While it takes a bit more time, the folks at Cube will squeeze the oranges and serve the soda up in a large carafe; slightly frothy, skillfully mixed and perfectly p├ętillant. YUM. Nuff said.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Southern Fried Lunch at Larkin's

Let me start by saying that this is NOT a yelp review! I just feel like certain neighborhood joints are worthy of chronicling, and Larkin's is one of them. Every time I go to the Trader Joe's in Eagle Rock, I drive by this quaint little cottage restaurant/cafe and I keep making a mental note to go back and try it out. This week, I finally remembered and lunched at this soul food joint with a friend.
Formerly an unsightly car dealership, Larkin's now has some undeniable curb appeal. It looks more like your aunt's house than a restaurant. A wrap-around veranda accommodates smokers and brunch-ers on warm days. The interiors are equally homey with cool little details like doors doubling as tables, wallpaper in the dining room, and tin ceiling tiles. The banana leaf-shaded outdoor patio reminds me of some of the old joints I used to frequent in college back in New Orleans.
And the Southern comfort food? It's spot on. Unfortunately, even though everyone keeps telling me I'm eating for two, I couldn't fit more than one major dish on this visit, but MAN was it major. The fried chicken is amazing. I'm for serious, yo. I'm not sure if the rub is made with cornmeal but it's perfectly crunchy with a hint of sweetness. The spicy greens could make even a vegetable hater reconsider and the refreshing cabbage and apple slaw also did not disappoint. My friend had a huge dollop of very delicious looking mashed potatoes slathered in a vegetarian gravy that is apparently deceiving in its deliciousness. We washed everything down with the best sweet tea I've had this side of the Mississippi (served in jars!).

My only regret, I should have ordered some mac and cheese to test it out. I'm definitely heading back to check that out, plus the various po boy sandwiches and the selection of barbecued meats (which all come slathered in "black gold" - Larkin's trademark bbq sauce that apparently gets you right behind the ears). I must find out exactly what that means.

If you can figure out their slightly confusing hours, I'd definitely recommend this place for a leisurely lunch or a casual dinner.

I stupidly forgot to take photos of the food...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chocolate Salty Balls, That's Right

Deep thanks to Trader Joe's for teaching me that I was wrong about nuts. When transformed into chocolate salty balls by the right combination of coverings (ie - chocolate and salt), they're pretty damn good. Since being preggers, I tend to get stupid when my blood sugar plunges below a certain level, so to avoid hunger pangs and sudden onsets of stupidity, I've taken to squirreling (pun intended) these delectable nuts in my pockets, handbag, and car.
The sea salt and turbinado almonds are my all-time faves. The salt and sugar are the perfect complement to the part that I like least, which is the nut. Altogether, a scrumptious biteful. They taste good combined with cheese too, so are probably a great addition to a party table.
My other favorite are the chipotle chocolate hazelnuts. Spiced like a mexican hot chocolate, with cocoa and a hint of cinnamon, the flavors mix nicely with the buttery hazelnut. And just when you think it's over, there's little lingering chipotle heat. Nuts that bite. Awesome. These bad boys actually taste great stuck in a fudgy brownie too. I popped them on top of the brownie batter before baking to add a little ta-dah. Even Chef would've been proud of this particular recipe.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Looking Back at 2009

There's nothing like a bit of year-end book-keeping to cause a person to reflect back on the year that just flew by. Sifting through receipts, ticket stubs, and statements is like a turbo trip through 2009 and it's pretty crazy to realize how much happened in such a quick blur. Among the highlights this year...

Jaunt to the Southern Hemisphere
In January, Brian and I took a trip to lovely Brazil. The Costa Verde was magical and it was just great to get away with the hubs to find out that nothing's changed. He's still the Great White Ham, I love him for it. Besides one popped blood vessel and a few sand fly bites, the trip was absolutely amazing. Jungle treks, tropical rainstorms, sunken cities, sandy beaches, amazing food, endless cachaca... We even found out where Mr. Miyagi's been hiding out all these years. (He's totally NOT dead!)

Retirement Recon Mission in Panama
I ended up accompanying my mother to Panama a month later to see if she could indeed retire happily in Boquete, a mountain community with a climate not unlike Indonesia. I kind of hoped it would be one of those life-changing trips where my mother and I would get to know each other all over again. Something I could one day write about. I'm not sure what I'll write about it now, but I did see my mother smile for the first time in quite some time, and she got some much-deserved r+r. Panama was awesome and I wouldn't mind retiring there one day. My mother, on the other hand, opted for the armpit of the Santa Clarita Valley, Valencia.

Blogging Gig with American Express OPEN Forum
Thanks to Inhabitat, I blogged all year for American Express' OPEN Forum about lifestyle. It took a bit more effort, partly because I'm still finding my voice and partly because I actually had to think like a business owner to write things that would be even remotely interesting to forum readers. It was actually a lot of fun. I regret the duds (oh, there WERE some duds), but there were also a few gems. Learned a lot and seem to have boosted my Twitter follows up to 800 as a result.

Talking Out Loud
I spoke on a Blog Out Loud panel with a bunch of amazing design bloggers. That was pretty cool. I think I drank a bit too much wine before we sat down to chat, though. Note to self, eat more food. I also worked with Bakery to do a wee video for budding creative entrepreneurs who are ready to bake up some biz through pr. Only students who sign up for Bakery's "baking course" can see it, but I'm going to dig up a link.

Blog Out Loud #4

Survived Another Year
Secret Agent seems to have survived to see another year. We've expanded our client base to include a couple of amazing international clients. We've managed to keep our clients from one year to the next, building great relationships. Not to mention throwing one hell of a party this past fall. I learned that I am most definitely a freelancer and not an entrepreneur. And, I need a clone.
Rock-n-Platinum Party at the Lofts @ Cherokee Studios, live performance by Ben Lee, going over the shot list with the photographer (ha!)

Bit the Bullet and Bought a Homestead
Probably the biggest development of the year happened mid-summer when Brian and I closed on our first home together. The only thing I'd ever truly owned prior to this was a 2000 Toyota Echo and I'm a known commitment-phobe. But it just felt right. And the views are stupid (as in amazing). I still keep expecting someone to ring the doorbell and tell us there's been a terrible mistake, that we don't actually own it. Besides the pinkish granite that the Persian developer put on all the countertops, I love love love living in Casa Tuey.

Photo shot the first night in our new house by Dan "the Head" Fagan

Turning the Page on the Next Chapter
Not that I know anything at all about numerology but rumor has it that years that end in -9 are all about endings since the years that end in -0 are all about new beginnings. For me, 2009 was year that was almost entirely dedicated to building; building up business, building up our personal lives. Basically being a busy, busy, busy bee. (Hence the dearth of posts on the nearly defunct Saturnfly Report!). But late in the year as the craziness drew to a close, Brian and I got an unexpected surprise when we found out that we're going to be parents. I still think I should have to pass some sort of a test or pull some type of a permit to become a mom, but overall I think we'll be pretty bad ass parents. Our DINK-dom might be coming to an end. But I'm hopeful to see what comes next.