Thursday, June 28, 2007

Greetingfroms Easter Iisland...

where i´m blogging via dial-up service (or so it seems). It is so slow here that by the time I see this text , I´m too lazy to go back and correct my mistakes. So bear with me.

Easter Island is pretty rad. It is the world´s most remote, inhabitabited island. About 4000 people live here and almost all of them live in the island´s only town, Hanga Roa. The climate is subtropical and the days have been sunny and windy, with very sudden and violent downpours. There are more wild horses on the island than people (about 5000). In town there are lots of stray dogs, all quite friendly. The seafood is fresh and yummy. I think I´ve had enough tuna ceviche to last a lifetime.

I won´t give you a brief history of the island (it would take too long and be inaccurate, I´m sure), but suffice to say that the moai are totaly awesome. How the islanders managed to transport them over miles is beyond me. The coolest thing by far is Rano Raraku, the volcanic crater - quarry- where all the moai were carved. We hiked along the crater yesterday (both outside and inside the rim) and saw hundreds of moai-- some completed, some still attached to the quarry wall, some in the stage of being transported and others toppled, face down in the grass. We took lots of pictures and I will post them once I´m back in the States.

Remote as this place is, it´s not immune to American cultural influences. We heard Lauryn Hill in a resturant yesterday. Saw parts of Shrek the Third on DVD/TV (bootleg no doubt). And caught a glimpse of Paris Hilton on the front page of the newspaper.

Monday, June 25, 2007

¿Where in the World is Chanchow?

Greetings from Santiago, Chile where it´s ¡Chilly! We touched down in Santiago at 7am and it was 28 degrees outside. I couldn't believe that I'd left summer in LA for wintertime somewhere else. But it's OK. Now it's warm. It's been about 65 degrees during the day. Chilean people are nice. They look much whiter than I expected. More Spanish than South American or indigenous looking. At least here in the city.

Mañana we are off to Easter Island. We´ll be flying on a 767 so I wonder how many people will be on the flight. LAN goes to Easter, then continues on to Tahiti (I think), then comes back. There is a small runway on the island that was expanded to accommodate an emergency space shuttle landing. No joke.

¡Hasta luego!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Smokin' Hot Vegetarian Chili Recipe

My recipe didn't win the chili cookoff at my work, but it'll always be a winner to me.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 green or yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, minced
1 habanero pepper, seeded, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup bulgur (aka cracked wheat) – available at Whole Foods and health food stores
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño and habanero peppers and sauté until onion lightly browns and carrots and celery soften a little (usually 5-10 minutes). Add tomatoes, beans, water, bulgur (this ingredient is key-- it gives this vegetarian recipe a thicker, 'meatier' texture), white wine vinegar, garlic and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, until bulgur is tender and chili thickens, stirring often to make sure the bottom doesn't burn (about 30 minutes). If you’re hungry, then ladle into a bowl, sprinkle grated cheddar on top and eat. If you can wait, turn off the heat and let the chili thicken even more, and then ladle and sprinkle cheddar when ready. In my experience, this chili tastes even better the day after, so look forward to leftovers. This recipe makes enough for 6 adults.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

DIY Succulent Arrangements

This was a lot of fun. Bought some shallow pots, small succulents, cactus potting soil and colored rocks and arranged them the way I wanted. It's fun to play around with height, color and texture. Pots and plants from California Cactus in Pasadena and Pot-Ted in Atwater.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Decorating... Slowly but Surely

I got a print by Matte Stephens off Etsy a couple weeks ago. He's an Alabama-based artist (paint and gocco) and his stuff has a cartoony, 70s retro look.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Like Cars

I guess I've always liked cars. Or at least noticed them, recognized logos and models, stuff like that. But living in LA has made me pay even more attention. Now I notice things like rims. The other day I said to my friend "Oh there's another car in the parking lot exactly like mine, except mine has better rims." Laughable, but that's a fact. My car has better rims.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I've Been Watching Lots of Law and Order: SVU

I don't watch the new episodes, just the reruns on USA. Octopus is having a guys night out at the ballpark tonight, so I will occupy myself with reruns of SVU. And some Basa white wine.

Last night I took a spinning class and almost passed out. I pushed myself harder than usual and by the end of class I felt awful. So awful that I had to jump off my bike during cool down and book it to the bathroom. On the way I was afraid I would faint, slip on the bathroom floor and hit my head. Thankfully, none of that happened. I made it to the bathroom stall and must've sat on the john, head in hands, for like five minutes. Maybe more. I think my blood sugar was really low. It was scary. Now I have a good reason for not working out too hard.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Up Early to Watch the Men's Final. Woof woof woof.

Hey look, he's smiling!

The French Open began at 6am Pacific time. I woke up around 7. It's now in the third set. Nadal serving 3-1, 40-30. I'm not really rooting for anyone in this match, although I suppose I'd like Nadal to win. I like that he has a blog. And how he wears clam diggers.

It's supposed to be warm today, but right now skies are cloudy. I love weekend mornings. So quiet and relaxing. Just the birds chirping and the occasional car driving by.

My office is having a summer potluck/chili cookoff in the next week. I'll be entering my spicy veggie chili. I bought a crock pot at Target for the occasion.

Yesterday Octopus and I went to the optometrist to get new glasses. I can't believe how much glasses cost. Even with vision insurance, our two pairs cost over $200 each.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Rewinding to September 2005, the month we moved from NYC to LA. We took about two weeks to drive out, the biggest chunk of time being spent in Wyoming to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton. This was our route, with the circles representing where we spent the night-- Pittsburgh; Madison, WI; Sioux Falls and Rapid City, SD; Buffalo, WY; Yellowstone NP; Grand Teton NP; Tropic, UT; and Vegas.

I'd love to drive cross-country again-- next time taking a more northern route. I want to see Idaho and Montana especially. More nature, fewer cities. Actually, I'd really love to do a National Parks trip. Starting in LA and then hitting Sequoia, Yosemite and Lassen in CA, Crater Lake in Oregon, Craters of the Moon in Idaho, Glacier in Montana, Teddy Roosevelt in North Dakota and Voyageurs in Minnesota. Maybe we could rent a Prius. We met some people in Yellowstone who had driven their Prius from Texas and only filled up their tank once along the way.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Gardening Blogs of Note

Heavy Petal in Canada and the very cool Germinatrix here in Eagle Rock.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Shopping for Nature

"Hot lips" salvia. We got some of these.

We went to the Lincoln Avenue Nursery in NW Pasadena over the weekend and bought a boatload of plants. Hohh, it was fun. And I owe it to Mr. Octopus...

Left to my own devices, I have a very frustrating tendency to go to the nursery and buy one plant, maybe two. I spend lots of time mulling things over, what if this, what if that, such that the plant buying experience, which should be fun and easygoing, sometimes gets overwrought and unpleasant. I become paralyzed by the options and the fear of buying something I won't like later.

This led to my recent gardening breakdown. I was really pissed that I'd spent all this time thinking about plants and visiting nurseries and still my garden didn't look the way I wanted it to. I didn't have enough plants, I didn't like how they were laid out. I just didn't like anything. And that's where Octopus came in.

He's not much of a planner. He's more of a let's just get it and it'll be fine kind of person, which can be a good counterbalance to my overthought and hyperplanning personality. So we went to the nursery and we got lots of stuff. It was like my birthday! Tee hee.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Weekend Movies

I was really looking forward to seeing Knocked Up and I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint. Very pretty and 'together' girl (Katherine Heigl) has drunken one night stand with sweet stoner loser (Seth Rogen). Laugh out loud funny. Better than The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Also saw The Illusionist. I have no idea how this got to the top of our netflix queue (or how it go on at all, for that matter), but instead of sending it straight back we thought we'd give it a try. A romantic mystery thriller set in 1900s Vienna. Magician (Ed Norton) is in love with the Prince's fiance (Jessica Biel). The Chief of Police (that dude from Sideways), who is also the Prince's right hand man, investigates. Happy to say that it wasn't as dry and boring as it sounds. It was surprisingly good.

I Don't Feel Bad for Paris Hilton

Does anyone?