Landscaping our Pied a Terre

Now that I'm a Work-at-Home Wife (WAHW), I made a not-so-startling revelation. Our teeny tiny rental needs a serious home makeover. Because I spent my whole life commuting for my previous job, I didn't really notice that our place started to look like a cross between a college dorm and a refugee camp for artists seeking asylum. I only came home to sleep, eat, and spend time with Rob and Dottie. All of which were done hastily and without much interest in my surroundings.

As adults, Rob and I know that we should seriously consider buying our own home. However as a married couple where both parties work in creative industries, home buying in the Southern California real estate market is out of the question. Our rent is quite affordable. So, we are staying put and making the best of the situation. This means we'll be redecorating our digs.

For the purposes of this blog, I shall refer to my home as a pied-à-terre. By definition, pied-à-terre means a temporary or second lodging which is typically in the city. This fits us perfectly... at least the temporary part. Pied-à-terre is French, literally "foot to the ground." This also fits because our humble abode is pratically 1 square foot on the ground.

I was inspired by my friends Natalie and Jordana to do a little urban landscaping. It also helps that I was raised by a greenthumb Grandma. I purchased a few plants from Target's Garden Center, Osh, and Kabota Growers at the L.A. Flower Mart. I perused Ikea's Summer Sale and bought really cute flower pots and flower pot holders for dirt cheap. Our porch garden is a mix of cooking herbs and flowers.

Rob putting holes in the bottom of my flower pots for drainage

The Flower Line-up
Hibiscus, Sambac Jasmine & Dahlias

More Budding Flowers and Herbs

Sambac Jasmine also known as Sampaguita in the Philippines
It is so beautifully fragrant.


...and more dahlias

Oregano for Rob's culinary delights

Sage for culinary goodness

Mint for my mojitos.
Not that I've made any mojitos in a while, but maybe now that I have my own mint.
I'll start mixing some up.

It looks very much like the Magnolia that grows in my hometown

Best part of this project? It only cost us $100 for everything. More redecorating adventures to come.

Got a little bump

Holy Moley! Got a bit of a shake this morning. There was a 5.4 earthquake about 30 miles from where we live. This is the biggest quake that I've experienced since I moved here in 2003. It was the biggest quake for Dottie as well. Needless to say, we both had no clue what was going on. It was Rob's day off and he happened to be pouring me a cup of coffee when things started. I heard a rumbling sound like a helicopter overhead or a big truck passing. Just as I was about to ask what the noise was, Rob grabbed me and dragged me into the doorway leading to our kitchen. Poor Dottie was startled and started scrambling around the room. I was able to grab a hold of her while the earthquake passed. Our teeny tiny rental house lurched back and forth a few times and it was done. A few things were moved out of place, but thankfully nothing toppled or fell out of place.

I then spent the next couple of hours making the obligatory calls to let people know we were okay and to make sure everyone else was okay. I also watched CNN and other news reports. I hate to admit it, but whenever there's a natural disaster I watch the news with rapt fascination. Seriously, I blame my parents. They are CNN addicts.

To those that we forgot to call, we are A-okay.

A simple Saturday

I had one of my favorite kind of Saturdays. I had a simple one.

I got up early and met my friend, Carmela downtown. She was on the hunt for fabric and materials for a project. I was scouting out the cost of flowers for an upcoming party. We were victorious. Carmela found the fabric and materials she was looking for within an hour. I got lots of great ideas and picked up some flowers an plants. We were downtown for only 2 hours, which is amazing. I was still half-asleep. Had I thought about it, I should have taken Carmela to lunch. Her birthday was earlier in the week. (Carmela, I owe you one.)

Flower Arrangement for the Living Room
3 varieties of Dahlias and Lisianthus

Fabric Inspiration

After my jaunt into downtown, I took a fat nap. Rob woke me from my delicious nap and told me he was in the mood for Ceviche & Cerveza. To be more budget-conscious, we have limited our eating out. Lucky for him, he caught me in the right mood. We headed to one our favorite places for ceviche - Don Felix.

Don Felix
4435 Fountain Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 669-7575

I ordered an Inca Kola, which tastes like Bazooka Joe bubblegum.

Rob ordered his cerveza. I decided to also have a Margarita, which I know is not Peruvian, but is good nonetheless.

We ordered a few dishes to share.

Saltado de Pollo
This dish was okay. They went a little too heavy on the soy sauce.

Calamares (sp?)
This was breaded and fried to perfection.

Our favorite - Ceviche Mixto
This was the perfect blend of fish, shrimp, squid, and octopus.

Happy Rob enjoying his meal.

I'm even happier enjoying my drink AND my meal.

The sad view from the bottom of my margarita glass.

This was my simple saturday.

My headset hates me

When the new hands-free headset law went into effect on July 1, I hurriedly ran off to buy my headset. I went for cuteness factor and bought a green iLuv316 (pictured above). Being a gadget girl, I usually research these kind of purchases to death. This time, I skimped and didn't research. I wish I had. While it is cute, I don't love my iLuv so much. Sometimes, it sounds like I'm talking into a tin can. Other times, I can barely hear the person I'm talking to. My conversations now consist primarily of me saying "What?! I just missed that" or "Beg your pardon. Can you repeat that?". It's aggravating. What I'm trying to figure out is if most Bluetooth headsets sound like crap or does mine suck because it's cheap and cute. One would think I would have tried the ole' bluetooth by now. Sadly, I was one of those jerks that happily chatted away with my phone to my face while driving.

To those I've called while using my horrible headset, I apologize. If anyone needs me, I'll be at Target buying one of those "old-fashioned" corded headset.

Bella is 10

Note: I've been happily working on a multitude of design projects. So, I've been a teeny tiny bit behind in my blogging. This means that there is a blitzkrieg of design-oriented posts on their way. In the meantime, here's another personal post.

Sunday July 20th
I trekked out to the O.C. for my niece Bella's 10th birthday party. (Bella was a Jr. Bridesmaid and Reader at our wedding last year.) Rob had to work. So, I was on my own. Bella's mom, my cousin Janine had planned an Ice Skating party. I was stoked. I haven't ice skated in years. As I was getting dressed and frantically searching for a pair of jeans, my oh-so-brilliant husband said to skip the jeans. He added , "It won't be that cold at the rink. You'll be fine." For the sake of argument, I put on a pair of shorts. Bad idea.

When I arrived fashionably late courtesy of L.A./O.C traffic, my hopes of landing a triple axel were dashed. (Okay, I exaggerate about the triple axel. It's more like my hopes of circling the rink were dashed.) It was freezing - teeth -chattering, lip numbing cold. Thankfully, I keep a hoodie in my car for such occasions. The hoodie helped a little, but not enough to prevent hypothermia. So, I huddled with the other "grown-ups" in the party room, which was a couple of degrees warmer. There would be no ice skating for me. I would have cried, but the tears would have frozen onto my cheeks.

I have no culinary photos to share. Contrary to popular belief my whole existence does not revolve around food. Besides, this was a kids' party. The food spread consisted of every kind of pizza imaginable, cake, chips, dip, and the politically correct fruit tray. I was in heaven. I am not too high brow to appreciate the deliciousness of junk food.

Bella - the Birthday Girl & Me

Bella in action

Janine lights the candles

Cake Carnage

Bella's Birthday from Anne K. on Vimeo.
I love the way kids sing "Happy Birthday". Their level of embellishment cracks me up.

After the party, I hung out with my relatives at their house in Rancho Santa Margarita. We watched Bella open her gifts. The rest of the night was spent with catching up and goofing around. For those that don't know, I come from a family of comedians. If you're not quick-witted and thick-skinned, you have a rough time. I had a great time and snuck in a little after midnight.

A tale of two meals

A nice benefit of being a Work-at-Home Wife is that I can meet friends for lunch. Today was one such day. I met Jeannette for lunch in El Segundo. The tricky part is that Jeannette and her husband Matt have decided to adopt a Vegan lifestyle. Although I am an omnivore, I thought it would be great to try a Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant. Google is our friend. Through it, Jeannette found the oh-so-good Veggie Grill.

Papa’s Portobello

Grilled portobello mushroom, chopped
tomato, basil & garlic pomodoro,
caramelized onion, pesto, chipotle ranch.

I have to say that I was impressed. I ordered the Portobello Mushroom Sandwich (pictured above) with Sweet Potato Fries. Sadly, I did not bring my camera and all I had was my sad little camera phone. The food was delicious and not just delicious for Vegetarian cuisine. My favorite part of the meal was the Carrot Cake. It was so good that it disappeared before I could even snap a photo. The only downside to the place is that it's soooooo far from my house. 25 miles far to be exact. Otherwise, I'd be there quite frequently.

S Allied Way
El Segundo, CA 90245
(310) 535-0025

After lunch, we walked over to Sur La Table and ogled over the beautiful kitchen goods. I don't cook, but I can still admire the craftsmanship and dream about the culinary magic Rob could create with all those tools. We followed that up with a walk-thru of the nearby Whole Foods. It's at this point that I'm glad Jeannette is such a good and understanding friend. I did an politically incorrect thing. I dragged my newly Vegan friend to the butcher department and requested bones for Dottie - Not just any bones, but big Flintstone-sized bones. I couldn't resist. I know for a fact that Whole Foods has the best quality and best priced bones. I'm lucky that Jeannette has a sense of humor and isn't a Veggie Nazi.

Just for her, I documented Dottie's reaction to my purchase. Here it is for everyone's viewing enjoyment and entertainment.

A surprise for Dottie from Anne K. on Vimeo.

I am super embarrassed that I sound like one of those crazy dog ladies, but oh well! This is me.

This is the contents of the wrapped package

Dottie anxiously waits for her bone to cook

The anxiety had overwhelmed her and she's resting up for her BIG treat.

She waits for the signal to start chomping on her treat.

Last shot before the carnage.

Can we borrow your kitchen?

Typically, Rob makes his culinary creations in our teeny tiny kitchen. Our kitchen is so small that it makes a kitchen in a RV look huge. From time to time, we invite ourselves to someone else's house to make dinner. Tonight was one such night. We invited ourselves over to our friend Kevin's house. Kevin happily obliged and agreed to help.

Rob in Action (He does not like this photo, but I wanted to show him at work)
Adding Sun-dried Tomatoes to the Pasta

Kevin the Grillmaster slicing the tri-tip that Rob marinated and seasoned

Rob was in the mood to barbecue and have Italian food. This unusual sounding combo threw me for a loop, but I decided to just trust him. After all, I think I've already established that I am not Martha Stewart in the kitchen.

Here's the meal that he put together.
Italian Sodas (Not pictured: Duck Pond Pinot Noir)

Fresh Mozzarella Medallions & Organic Roma Tomatoes
on Crostini served with Bruschetta sauce

Main Course
Tri-tip grilled to perfection

Sliced Tri-tip

Spaghetti Tossed in Sun-dried Tomato, Homegrown Basil, Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce

Blurry Photo of my properly plated dinner

Trader Joe's Boxed Panna Cotta with Fresh Raspberries

Dottie Dots waiting for a tasty morsel to fall on the floor.
She's strategically placed near me because
she knows that I'm the weak and VERY clumsy link.

For those that are wondering, meals are not always like this in our household. This kind of feast only occurs on the days that Rob is off. More often than not, my dinner looks like this.

After all, a gal's gotta do something to keep from turning into this