Yesterday, we did a little something that isn’t usually a part of our normal LA-lifestyle agenda. While the rest of the (American) world was watching the Oscars, we went horseback riding! My gorgeous girlfriend Kara invited us go to up to Sunset Ranch for her birthday and do a little evening dinner ride across the Hollywood Hills, and to me, that beats sitting on a couch and watching someone else win a prestigious award any day. Yay, horsies!
I’ve been riding a few times before, but not in years, so as far as expertise goes, I’m still very much in the “beginner” category. Julian’s had a bit of experience as well, since his grandfather has a farm with horses (!!). We both loved being on and around the horses. There is really nothing quite like it!
The ranch was adorable and the folks working there were very friendly. They had around 100 or so horses, a handful of adorable ranch dogs (including one, Sadie, with only three legs! Bless her heart), and various other farm animals – roosters, goats/kids (which sounded like actual kids), even an albino peacock.
Once everyone was mounted (I rode the fantastically well-behaved and kind-hearted Ra and Julian rode Tanto), our guides led us up past a tiny faux-version of the Hollywood sign, then past the real Hollywood sign, and through the beautiful mountains, over into Burbank, where we had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant. It was delightful! A little bit on the cold side…. it took me about 30 minutes to defrost once inside, but still, amazing. The waiters even gave us carrots to feed to the horses.
On the way back, it was darker, colder, and all the riders in our party were a lot more silent. Riding through the mountains on Ra, looking up at the stars above, freezing my butt off, and thinking about who won Best Picture, I definitely had a few moments where I pretended I was in True Grit and had the sudden urge to call my horse Little Blackie. But then I realized just how freaking cold I was and snapped back to reality. For all of you who think life is one big beach party in LA, think again. This is still the desert, after all, and after the sun goes down, it gets cold.
Sidenote here: I loved my horse. I think we are alike in that we both like to be first, because he kept butting in front of anyone who tried to ride up past him, and would trot up to the front if he got too far back in the pack. That might have been my favorite part.
I’ve never been so happy to get in a warm car in all my life. The cold was in my bones by that point and I had to sleep in my Hot Chillys (which are… the best – look it up!) All in all, we had a fabulous time and if you’re in the market for horseriding in LA (beginners-style, of course), definitely check out Sunset Ranch!
Today, my butt is entire too sore for my liking, considering we are leaving today for Big Bear to go snowboarding. And everyone knows snowboarding is entirely synonymous with sore. FANTASTIC. Remind me not to lump this many snow + sore activities in the same week again. At least I’ll be getting plenty of fresh air! My brother will approve of that.
Happy Saturday, everyone! Check out the latest video my talented husband released last night. Alongside Julian, it also stars yours truly. I had no idea I was going to be in it until Thursday night, but it was so much fun to film. I just love the concept for this video. Julian and I went through a phase a while back, saying “Yankee Candle needs to get on that” whenever we’d smell something disgusting. Brainstorming scents for the candles in this video was realllllllly fun, too. I still wish we had included “wet garbage” or “trash juice” – hahaha! But “Forgotten Litterbox” and “Morning Breath” are pretty brilliant.
It’s been a few minutes since I’ve done one of these! I’ve received a few email complaints about my lack of posting TiLT along with my bits & pieces series, and all I can say is, I’m sorry. But sometimes life affords you the opportunity to get ‘out there,’ instead of behind a computer, and when that happens, you just have to TAKE IT! Am I right or am I right? I know you understand. With that said…
Snowboarding plans!I’ve only been once (though I LOVED it) and Julian’s never been skiing OR snowboarding, so I insisted we make a trip before the season ends. Nothing too crazy for us beginners – we’re just going to Big Bear, CA for a few nights, but we are staying at what looks like a super amazing resort on Big Bear Lake, so even if we are too sore after Day 1, we’ll still have plenty to do – like for example, snow tubing. Ahh! I’m really looking forward to tumbling down the mountain with Julian! Let’s hope for a bit of fresh snow too, shall we?
Painting again!What with all the “free time” I’ve got on my hands lately, I’ve decided to start using it wisely and do more creative things. They are unfortunately usually the first things to slip away from you when your schedule gets busy! So I’ve broken out the old painting supplies, found an old canvas (didn’t even have to go to the supply store) and started at it. So far I’m really pleased with my progress and even more pleased with the great happiness it brings me to sit for hours working on a piece. Hopefully I’ll be able to share something soon!
new Macbook Pros coming out at just the right time (I need a new computer!) • when Pepper lays across (e.g., straddles) the back of our dining room table chairs • our new Capresso grinder/brewer! It is so fabulous • on that note, drinking less coffee and more tea • ordering a poster-sized calendar of vintage maps with the intent of framing each of them • having fresh flowers around the house – it’s an instant mood booster • driving through downtown LA at night while it’s raining, and all the lights look especially sparkly • keeping a firm 3x a week exercise schedule (so far!) • taking our first trip to the flea market , scoring some excellent furniture finds for the bedroom! • finding a really great new nail salon • raspberries!!!! • the 80-hour candles at Anthropologie (in Water Jasmine – it smells incredible) • our new plush, velvety jewel-toned throw pillows from Crate and Barrel (a, b, and c) • taco night! • that moment when your headache starts to slowly slip away… bliss • getting sneak peeks at all the new music coming out of Julian’s super talented musician BFF, Marc (it’s GOOD) • finding out one of my (male) friends is just as obsessed with The Bachelor as I am (Team Emily!) and making plans to have a finale viewing party (anyone else with me here?) • The Grilled Cheese Truck!!! • purchasing some supremely excellent birthday gifts for my big/little brother Ben • curtains hung high on the wall like so:
This morning I got pretty excited for a minute or two when I realized Britney Spears released a new music video. Yeah, I’m just slightly stuck in 2001. HOWEVER. She looks great, but I am a bit disappointed in the overwhelming amount of product placements – PlentyofFish.com, Sony, Makeup For Ever – I mean, I lost count! Definitely minus points for that one.
There is good news though, my friends. Radiohead also released a new music video today (AND an album!) and it doesn’t have a single product placement. Instead it features a very saucy Thom Yorke dancing and singing in a bowling hat. Plus infinity points! After you watch it below, go pick up your digital copy of The King of Limbs here.
P.S. My clever filmmaker husband pointed out that the reason Thom’s movements are so odd is that they probably filmed it in reverse, meaning they learned the lyrics backwards as well, and Thom mouthed it that way (Julian and Marc did that same technic for the Carried Away music video).
It’s funny where the rabbit hole of internet surfing can take you sometimes. I sat down at the computer to read reviews about The Artist’s Way, a book given to me by a dear friend, and wound up signing up for a weekly delivery service that provides organic produce from small local family farms. How did that happen?
It all started because I saw I had this article by John Robbins (one of my fave authorities on humane and inhumane food manufacturing) open in a tab and thought “better read that now or I’ll never get around to it.” The article begins with some good news about the egg industry – the USDA recently proclaimed that eggs actually contain way more Vitamin D than previously thought, making them even better for you (hooray!) As wonderful as that is, Robbins does what he does best and quickly shifts the focus to how these delicious and good-for-you eggs are actually produced – more often than not, in deplorable conditions that even the strongest of stomachs wouldn’t be able to handle. I nodded smugly in agreeance, recalling the fact that I personally go out of my way only to buy eggs that have that little green & white organic logo and say “free range” – even if it means making a special trip to Trader Joe’s. I mean, it’s the right thing to do, and I love animals.
But Robbins goes on to push the fact that “organic” and “free-range” labels actually mean diddly squat when it comes to humane practices in the egg industry (and probably the rest, too). So I decided to double check my facts and see how the eggs in my fridge measured up using the “Organic Egg Scorecard” created by the Cornucopia Institute. The scorecard ranks egg manufacturers and farms based on the best organic practices and the most ethical regard for the hens, doling out points for things like roaming space, access to the outdoors, and whether or not the farm clips beaks (a painful procedure that prevents hens from pecking each other to death out of sheer insanity from being lodged in a space so tight they can’t even raise a wing). The very best farmers get a cheeky “Five Egg” score.
One of the Five Egg farmers, Christian, with a fluff ball dog
Well, I’ll be honest with you. My eggs weren’t even on the list. But several other brands I’ve bought were (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, O Organics, Land O’Lakes, and several other seemingly trustworthy household names), and to my supreme disappointment, every single one of them ranked only ONE EGG. What this means is that the eggs are produced on industrial-scale operations that grant no meaningful outdoor access. But it’s probably worse than that! Because unfortunately, many of these private-label One Egg manufacturers refused to participate in the Cornucopia Institute’s project – quite an interesting move considering the organic food market is one that requires quite a bit of brand transparency in order to gain customer trust and loyalty. I mean, whatcha hiding, friends? Better to know than not know, in my eyes.
I was pretty disgusted by what I found, so what did I do? I Googled a couple of the Five Egg farms that were in California and found that although none are available in a common grocery store, eggs from Alexandre Family EcoDairy Farms are available as an add-on in a weekly organic produce delivery service called Abundant Harvest Organics. At first I was intimidated by something like that – isn’t that only for super hippie people who live in Venice and work at co-ops on the weekends (when they’re not standing outside of Whole Foods with a clipboard)? But I read a bit more and was really intrigued, so I signed up.
The way Abundant Harvest works is like this: you sign up for a VERY affordable weekly box of produce from a variety of local farmers (around $20 for a small box) – everything from oranges to potatoes to thyme (whatever’s in season, of course) – set your delivery location (the closest one to us is in Santa Monica), and once a week, you go pick up your box at the scheduled delivery time. Before hand, you can check out which fruits & veggies will be included in that week’s box and add whatever ‘extras’ you want – coffee beans, eggs, nuts, even whole chickens, and they charge your credit card once a week. You can even “cancel” your subscription for the weeks you know you’ll be out of town or won’t need a box. I like that feature.
The best part about this service is that I know we’ll be getting fresh, organic food that hasn’t even been out of the ground for more than a day or so. Try finding that at your grocery store. Plus, we’re supporting local family farms instead of the big box manufacturing overlords. I’m super excited to pick up our first box of produce next Tuesday afternoon. One thing is for sure – this is absolutely one of those times I’m extremely grateful to be living in California.
Unfortunately, local means that this is of course a Central- and Southern California-only service, but I’m sure there are plenty of similar organizations out there doing the same thing.
And that’s my story for today. What did we learn? Something I quite frankly have already been told many times – that you can’t trust food products simply because they say “organic”, you’ve got to put in the research these days. A few minutes on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon should do the trick.
You know sometimes, Valentine’s Day is A-Ok with me. J surprised me with a beautiful dozen roses this morning and a heartfelt handwritten note (way better than a Hallmark card). He even lit candles! Hope all you lovebirds out there have a magical day! We’ve got plans to go hiking and go out to dinner at one of our fave restaurants in Westwood. Yum!
Sorry the pic is a little dim – the drapes were closed, my camera battery is dead, and my phone can only do so much with what it’s got.
Good news on the health front, folks. I’ve found the perfect way to ingest the miracle food that is unsweetened Greek yogurt without gagging. Put that sucker in a smoothie!
I’ve been experimenting with different ways to eat Greek yogurt for a while - with various fruits, nuts, honey, etc. – but I can’t get over the taste. But I force it down because I know all that my insides are just loooving that good bacteria (it’s true), and for someone who doesn’t eat most meat and loathes milk, my body could sure use the extra protein and calcium.
So yeah, smoothies. Why didn’t I think of this before? I have a blender. I adore fruit. So this week, I decided to take a cue from all you smoothie fanatics and actually attempt to make a delicious and healthy concoction for hubs and I. It was a great success.
Here’s what I put in:
Strawberries (with the green tops!)
Pineapple (quite possibly the world’s most un-fun fruit to chop)
About 4oz of Greek yogurt
Lots of ice
Pretty basic, no? But grind it all up, pour it in a glass, add a fancy straw, and you’ve got yourself one fine breakfast if I do say so myself. That’s more fruit than the average person eats in a single day, and you’re slurping it down in less time than it takes you to fry an egg.
Plus, with all that sweetness from a nearly fruit-only smoothie, I could probably afford to sneak in a handful of spinach or kale and not tell the difference. I think I’ll try that next. That and some kind of protein powder, which kind of scares me, but I hear it’s just wonderful. Or perhaps some flaxseeds. The possibilities are just endless.
Do you have a fave smoothie recipe? Gimme the deets! Especially if it involves sneaking in weird-tasting-but-super-healthy foods.
Ahh, one of the best parts about vacations (especially international vacations) is the amazing feeling of coming back home. We arrived back in LA last night, picked up by the ever-wonderful Francesca, who also made sure both our fatties were fed while we were away! How great are good friends? Almost as great collapsing into your own soft bed after washing the airplane off of you in your own hot shower. Double cute: having your kitty sleep ON YOUR HEAD all night long and waking up to find your husband went out to get donuts.
Italy was… AMAZING! Truly beautiful cities, spectacular scenery, delicious food, and some of the friendiest people ever (quite a contrast to the Parisians… no offense to any French readers, you know I love you!) We (Julian) took a million wonderful photos, which I’ll get around to sharing on Flickr soon, but have included a few in this post.
We had the best time hanging out with Julia and her little man Trey, stomping all over Naples and Rome, shopping til we dropped, ducking in and out of the best little eateries, getting gelato almost daily, and getting to see centuries worth of history right before our very eyes.
It’s hard to say what my favorite part was, but driving along the Amalfi Coast and touring the Vatican are up there. I’ve got more than a couple souvenirs to remind me of my first trip to Italy, including two pairs of genuine, Made in Italy, leather boots that I scored for only 65euro … can you believe it?!
Now that we’re back home, it’s back to business as usual, and there is lots to be done. So I am off to run errands and get things back in order, but in the spirit of keeping you all updated, I thought I’d post first. How great am I?