Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Announcement!

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I have exciting news to share! I'm officially a food blogger! I'm interning for Kristie and Clarissa of 626foodettes.com, so I'll be contributing to their blog and writing about food in the San Gabriel Valley. My first post is up now. I was so excited to be invited to the social media preview dinner at Pitfire and the food truly is amazing so check it out if you can and check the blog for more food recommendations in the SGV!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving & Pies

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I wrote about my first experience in pie making here, and since then I've made that same pie one other time. I used frozen pie crust the second time, and justified it by thinking it was only my second attempt so I was still entitled to a shortcut.

I knew I wanted to make a pie this Thanksgiving, and I had to admit that at this point I was out of excuses so it was time to tackle pie dough on my own. I decided on a chai spice apple pie recipe that I got out of Ashley English's My Year of Pies, but I used the pie crust recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. 

This pie was definitely labor-intensive. Tuesday night I made the dough, which was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I don't have a pastry cutter so I kneaded the butter into the flour by hand but it wasn't too difficult. When I added the water in at the end the dough seemed a little sticky, but I wrapped it, stuck it in the fridge, and hoped for the best and the next day when I rolled it out for the pie it was totally fine. The other prep work I did Tuesday involved whipping out my mortar and pestle and grinding the spices for chai, and that took a lot more muscle. After that though all I had to do Wednesday afternoon was peel and chop my apples and put it all together and stick it in the oven. It was really nice to be able to wake up Thursday morning and have all my baking already done, I'm sensing a pie trend in my Thanksgiving future.

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I was so nervous about this pie, especially because I couldn't taste test it before I brought it to dinner but luckily it was delish and so worth the work. I realized I didn't actually take a picture of the finished product, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it came out beautifully. 

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I'll never go back to frozen crust. The homemade version was actually a lot easier to work with. Frozen crust always seems to split apart where it's been rolled into a cylinder, but since this one was wrapped up in a ball it rolled out nicely and fit into the pan without any tears. Now that I've conquered my pie crust fear I'm itching to make more. If you have any good recipes, send 'em my way.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

What Happened to November?

What happened to november?
Saw Mulholland Dr at Cinefamily
What happened to november?
Met Jemaine at AFI Fest!
What happened to november?
Caught Minka being adorable
What happened to november?
Thanksgiving morning snaps
What happened to november?
Glitter boots pre-touch up

What's this? A photo round-up that isn't three months late?! How was your November?

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

#AFIfest

Before I say anything about AFI Fest I need to give Isabel a huge shout out for letting me know it existed in the first place. A while back I was whining that all the hype from the BFI Film Festival was making me wish I was back in London, and Isabel blew my mind by telling me about AFI Fest. How on Earth it's possible that someone who loves going to the movies as much as I do, and grew up in LA didn't know about this film festival is beyond me but I'm glad I know now because it was amazing.

The American Film Institute puts together this festival every year, and it's completely free! I think the limit is 30 tickets per person, which is more than enough. I didn't plan my schedule out very well, I kind of went wild when the festival's schedule was released and requested 2 tickets for the first five movies that sounded good, and meant to request the times off so my work schedule wouldn't conflict. I completely forgot to do that, but in an incredible stroke of luck only one of the screenings conflicted with my work schedule so I swapped those tickets for another screening.

In the end I had tickets for Deux Jours Une Nuit, The Midnight Swim, Bande Des Filles, Viktoria, and Manos Sucias. I decided to take Metro to the theater to avoid having to park on Hollywood & Highland and completely underestimated my travel time, so I missed Deux Jours Une Nuit. I was bummed, but since Marion Cotillard is the star I'm sure that it will come out on limited release at least so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for it.

The Midnight Swim was the first screening I saw and it did not disappoint. The film is about three half sisters that have all come back to their childhood lake house in the wake of their mother's drowning. The entire film is shot by June, the youngest sister. At first this effect was hard to adjust to, there are a couple really shaky shots throughout, but overall I really loved that the audience sees the events of the film literally through June's lens. The title comes from a myth that is described within the film about seven sisters that go swimming at midnight and drown one by one. I stayed for the Q&A with the cast and the director after the screening, and the director said that the house they filmed in actually belongs to her family; it was the place she spent her summers as a child. She also mentioned that the myth really does circulate around the area and that her mother used to tell it to her and her sisters to warn them that a drowning person can pull you under. That really stuck with me after the screening and pulled together a lot of different elements from the film in my mind. I loved The Midnight Swim, and I was so happy to see that it won an Audience Award at the festival. During the Q&A the director mentioned they didn't currently have a release plan, but I really hope it gets released in the US because I already want to see it again.

I saw Bande Des Filles next, the English title is Girlhood but I think Bande des Filles captures the mood of the film more. Granted, my French is getting rusty but I would translate it as Girl Gang and I think that really conveys what the film is about. It follows Marieme (who changes her name to Vic) through her life in the suburbs of Paris. My French professors at school focused a lot on social issues in France like education, immigration, and life in the suburbs of Paris, so I was really excited for this film. I don't want to give too much of the plot away but I really liked the way the film highlighted the importance of friendships between girls in that specific community. This is another one that I loved, and I can't wait to see again.

Viktoria was the only film I saw at the festival that I really did not enjoy. It follows a girl, Viktoria, who's born without a belly button 9 years before the fall of communism in Bulgaria. The first third of the movie focuses on her mother, who is unenthusiastic about her pregnancy, the second third showcases young Viktoria as she's celebrated as the poster child of Bulgarian communism, and the final third focuses on the family after the fall of communism. I didn't really see how all the different threads connected. While the lack of a belly button seemed to suggest a break down in the mother/daughter relationship, the role communism played in that didn't make much sense.

Manos Sucias was the last film I saw and it definitely brought the festival to an end on a high point. We almost missed this one, we ended up getting into line late after pausing for coffee and barely made the cut off. Since we made it into the theater by the skin of our teeth, we had to sit in the second row, but it was totally worth it. The film takes place in Colombia and follows two estranged brothers who are unexpectedly reunited for a job delivering drugs. The film focuses a lot on racial tensions in Colombia, and during the Q&A so many Colombians in the audience thanked the director for shedding light on the issue of racism in Latin American communities. This is another film that I would really like to see again, preferably from the comfort of my usual seat in the back row.

Next year I'll hopefully be better prepared; I think the way to go would be to get tickets for multiple screenings in one day. Still, I had so much fun at the festival this year and I'm so glad I'm finally in the loop. Better late than never!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FYF 2014

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There's nothing like waiting until the day before Thanksgiving to write about something that happened in August, am I right? Despite the delay, I couldn't let this go undocumented. FYF was a highlight of the summer, if not a highlight of 2014 as a whole. A little background, the first time I heard about Fuck Yeah Fest I was in high school, and my mom wouldn't let me go. Then when I graduated and started college I was always back in Oakland by the time FYF rolled around, and last August I had just gotten hired a month before the festival so I didn't have the money to spend or the seniority to request a weekend off. So I knew that this year was going to be my year, I almost didn't care who was playing, I just knew I was going. Then when the line-up was announced and I saw Blood Brothers were reuniting for the festival there was no doubt in my mind I had to be there.

It was definitely not a perfect weekend. At this point the festival's been discussed all over the internet so everyone who knows/cares about FYF knows that the lines to get in on Saturday were ridiculously long, and the whole set-up of the festival seemed poorly planned. I know the venue change from LA State Historic Park was probably a nightmare for the people who plan the fest, but it was really awkward maneuvering around the stages so I hope they go back to the State Historic Park next year. By the time we got in on Saturday, we had missed a couple bands we wanted to see and had spent over an hour just trying to get into the festival. I was almost at "I will turn this car around" levels of grumpiness, but we finally did get in. Interpol and Grimes were my favorites, even though Grimes didn't play my song.

Day 2 was much smoother. We got to the venue earlier, and got in easily. I was more pumped for the second day's line-up so I was happy we got to see Mac DeMarco, Tanlines, & The Strokes, but the Blood Brothers was hands down the best set of the festival. Such amazing energy, from the band and from everyone in the crowd. Festivals are exhausting and usually the whole crowd isn't as into it as they would be at a smaller show, but that Blood Brothers set was another thing entirely. I felt like I was 15 again, screaming those songs driving around with my friends.

Festival exhaustion and poor planning aside, it was a really great weekend. I feel like I was able to fulfill something by finally going to FYF, and I'm already looking forward to next year.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Ode to LA

If you remember, I wrote a post when I moved back to LA that was basically about how I hated LA, but since I was going to be here I was going to make an effort to at least reach a point where I could be neutral about it. The other day I was driving home from work when this Rilo Kiley song came up on shuffle, and when it got to the line "No matter how cruel I've been, LA you always let me back in" I realized something. I don't actually hate LA anymore. I don't know how it happened! Somewhere along the line I started admitting there were some cool things about LA, and now I can admit that there are actually a lot of things I would miss if/when I move somewhere else.

So yeah, I guess I'm begrudgingly grateful that LA always takes me back, even when I'm being a jerk who refuses to admit that maybe she kind of likes it here now.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Magical Sidewalks of Portland

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Another thing about Portland, the sidewalks were amazing. When I got home I realized half my pictures were of the sidewalk, but they were just so beautiful! I think part of my fascination was the result of being in LA for too long, where it doesn't rain so no wildflowers grow, and everyone is preoccupied with having a picture perfect lawn so the foliage is very neat and controlled. Even if people do have gardens, they're in the backyard where no prying eyes can see them. Portland is the opposite. The yards and sidewalks are full and bursting with life and I absolutely adored it. We walked by a house that had pumpkins growing on the sidewalk. The sidewalk! Not the front lawn, the patch of dirt next to the street. In all seriousness, the kind of place where you can grow gourds on the sidewalk in front of your house is the kind of place I want to live. The level of neighborhood trust such an act implies overwhelms me; especially since that was not the only instance we saw of edible things growing right out of the sidewalk.

Honestly, more than anything I think it was the sidewalks that made me fall in love with Portland. Where else can you find a lending library on the sidewalk of a residential street? Or GOURDS growing on the sidewalk?

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Portlandia

Portlandia

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Portlandia

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Portlandia

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Portlandia

Utter magic.

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