Posts Tagged With: Los Angeles

Aurora at the Troubadour


I learned last Monday night that basically all of my fuddy-duddy propensities have coalesced and refined themselves into something way more fuddy-duddy than they used to be.  Brian and I went to an Aurora concert at the Troubadour.  I tried to enjoy myself, I really did.  And parts of the evening were perfect.  But, oh man, I’m definitely not their audience anymore.

I used to love a good concert.  It felt edgy and cool to put on all my black clothes, smear some gloss on my lips, and go dance with the other gals at the Ivy Walls concert, wherever they happened to play; the Troubadour with the odd burger stand at the back of the bar; the Silverlake Lounge with the massive lamé curtain that shimmers just right in the lights; the red, red Viper Room.  We’d dance until the show was over and even my bones were tired, and then Brian and I would speed home over the empty California freeways in the darkness.  I’d wake up for work the next morning tired, but with the conviction that it was all worth it.

We got there an hour early last night to wait in line for good seats.  The cue wrapped around the corner of an old brick building, and I leaned my back against it as I waited with Brian.  There was a group of kids in tight colored pants, high pompadours, and shirts with rolled up sleeves behind us.  I rolled my eyes when one of them said “yeah, I don’t care about Aurora.  I’m here for the opening band.” And then they lit up a joint.  In line.  On a public street.

I expect a little pot in those places.  I do.  But seriously? On a public street! (I told you – such a fuddy-duddy).

“How was work?” Brian asked me, and I also realized that most of the people in this line also probably didn’t have stories about their epic fight with the printer to get labels done so the student workers could send the invitation to the fundraiser.

Inside was only slightly better.  The cruddy railings and beat up seats no longer seemed edgy.  They just seemed gross.  I wondered what sort of botulism I was exposing myself to by only bringing my tiny clutch, instead of the purse with the hand sanitizer in one of the vast pockets.  (Hand sanitizer, self.  SMH).

The first band was really good, but had a bit too much of an R&B influence to be my favorite.  And then it was 9:30 and I realized, without even checking my phone, that it was past my bed time.  If I thought I could have slept on the bench in the back of the Troubadour I might have tried it.

It all faded away and became the perfect evening once Aurora stepped onto the stage.  All my crankiness and all the tired vanished. She’s such a funny, elfin lady with a tiny voice.  She dances along to her songs as if she was seaweed in a current, waving here and there.  She started crying when she heard us all singing along, and let us finish the lyrics to the last verse.  I had that “at one with the crowd” feeling.  Brian rocked out beside me so hard it made wonder if I wanted to admit to knowing him, which was basically the only goal for this evening.  Aurora is Brian’s favorite.

And then Brian drove home while I slept.  I have been logy and cranky most of the week, with the conviction that we were lucky it was worth it, but that next time I don’t know that I would say yes to that evening.

I mean, I don’t know who I’m kidding.  I would say yes if Brian wanted to go.  But still.  I am way too much of a fuddy-duddy for LA clubs these days.  I missed the kitten last night like you wouldn’t believe. All I want is 18 hours of sleep (Who have I become?).

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I have been in a reading slump (since I finished The Oregon Trail last weekend), and things have otherwise not been very exciting around here.  I have, however, been cranking out the word count.  I’ve started editing my second novel so that when I get so annoyed with the first one that I could spit, I have something totally different to turn to.  Both have been progressing nicely, although the almost finished novel is going better than the other.  Mostly because I don’t know where I’m taking the other yet (it seems to be totally different than the first draft indicated it would be).

Brian and I ran around all weekend in LA.  He had a work thing, and we had a party that night, and in the mean time we hung out at Gamehaus Café, ate pear/honey paninis, and played board games.  It was quite lovely, actually.  I was worried about driving around in LA because it was supposedly the weekend of the “Slow Jam,” meaning that tons of things were shut down and traffic was supposed to be horrible.

It wasn’t that bad, at all.  But speaking of jams…

The thing I’m most proud of this week is my latest round of fruit jam.  Brian and I have been looking into saving money via the food we’re buying and eating each week, and $5.00 for a jar of jam seems so steep when I can make 5 jars for about $10 or less.  I spent about $10 on things this time, but probably will spend less next time, as there’s plenty of pectin left over in the cupboard.  The bonus of making my own stuff is that I get to go with funky flavors.  The Persimmon Cinnamon jam I made at Christmas time turned out great, although it was my first round at jam and too runny.  It’s all gone now, so I needed to make something else.

When I left Scripps, they gifted me a lovely jar of jam that was Apple Lemon Verbena flavored.  But it was bad for PBJs because the apples were cut into large chunks and you couldn’t spread it.  It was great on vanilla ice cream, though, and amazing alone with a spoon (don’t judge me).  So that meant I was going to rip it off for my latest jam.  Bonus points because I had about a TON of small apples that Brian and I didn’t get to in time that were looking a little wrinkly.  Not so appetizing.  But mushed up with a ton of sugar?  Yum!

I also looked everywhere for Verbena, but didn’t find any.  Home Depot did have some Lemon Balm, though, that I thought might be as good.  It certainly smelled excellent.  So my jam is Apple Lemon Balm.  Here’s the recipe.

Apple Lemon Balm Jam:

  • 1 large bag of tiny apples – any kind, but sweet is better
  • 2 large lemons
  • 3/4 tablespoons of lemon balm, chopped (or any herb you think goes well with lemon and apple)
  • 4 tablespoons Powdered Pectin
  • 4 cups sugar

Core, peel, and chop the apples into fairly large chunks.  Put in a saucepan and cook at medium/low heat until some juices release and apples are soft.  While the apples are stewing, juice the 2 lemons and set aside.  Throw lemon peels into a food processor and pulse until the peel is in small pieces/pulpy.  Reserve 1 cup of this mixture.

Once the apples are soft, toss those into the food processor and pulse until they are also pulpy – just slightly chunkier than applesauce.  Reserve 3 cups of apples.  You can do the fruit in any quantity, as long as you end up having 4 cups of it.  So if you’re a little shy on the apples, throw in some more lemon peel…

Put the apples, the lemon rind, the lemon balm, and the lemon juice back into the saucepan you stewed the apples in.  Add pectin and bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil for about 1 minute, and then add the sugar in slowly.  Boil another minute or 2, until mixture is thick and glossy. Don’t forget to taste it and add more sugar as needed.

If you’re unsure how thick your jam is just by stirring it, feel free to dip a spoon in it and let the jam cool on the spoon for a few seconds.  It should give you a heavy coating that reminds me of glue.  I think a little more solid is better than a little runny, so I err on the side of too firm.  You’ll know once you’ve done this a few times, but trust your gut and know that it will be tasty no matter what you do.  Once you’ve reached your desired consistency, pour that jam into jars and seal them up.

At this point, you have 2 choices.  You can put it all through a water canning bath and your jam will be good for a year or so.  Or you can just pop them in the fridge and make sure to use them within the month.  I go with option 2 because I’m lazy.  And because we eat a lot of jam in this house.

So there you go.  That’s my weekly accomplishment, and now it can be yours.  If you’re willing to wash sticky dishes, that is.  I promise it’s worth it.

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Happy New Year


I had meant to write a blog post filled with optimism.  “It’s a new year with no mistakes in it yet,” I wrote for the first sentence.  I was asking for it, loud and clear.  So far, this year has been riddled with mistakes.

We celebrated the new year at a friend’s house, playing Cards Against Humanity while we ignored Ferris Beuler’s Day Off playing in the background, lounging and laughing.  “Happy New Year!” we all yelled as we watched the ball drop in Times Square on the television.  I leaned in toward Brian for the traditional kiss.  I took a step closer.  I squished his bare toes with my sharp pointy flats.

“Ouch,” he said.

“Sorry,” I replied.

At that point, the new year was 50% mistake.

Brian and I thought we would like an adventure on our last day off, so we bundled ourselves in the car and went to LACMA.  I specifically checked the website for holiday hours.  It said they would be closed on the 31st, but it didn’t say anything about New Year’s Day.  In my quest for holiday hours, I missed the gigantic banner at the top that said “closed Wednesdays.”  I found it in all its bright, pixilated glory when we returned home.  The empty parking structure should have tipped me off, but it wasn’t until the security guard at the entrance stopped us that I realized.

“Is the Tar Pits open?” I asked.  Plan B

“Maybe, I don’t know,” he said.  “You can check.”

So we checked.  It wasn’t.

The LA Farmer’s Market (oldest farmer’s market in the US, they proudly proclaim) is a few blocks away.  We walked there, and they were open.  We had blueberry pie at a diner that was the best I’ve ever had – buttery crust and berries that burst as I chewed amid the sweet, dark filling.  I bought a teapot and some loose-leaf Imperial Earl Gray at one of the shops.  Not the regular kind, the Imperial kind.  And then we walked back to the car, drove home, and fell into bed.

This morning I packed a lunch in a large Trader Joe’s bag, brown paper with convenient handles.  It was a tasty one.  Fusilli pasta in basil with fresh cherry tomatoes, popcorn, and a Honey Crisp apple.  Dried cocoanut strips as a snack.  I got to work and realized that it’s still on the floor of my living room.  Evidently, I’ll be buying lunch today.  I have little hope that cats won’t eat all the popcorn before I can get home tonight.  Sigh.

In short, this year has been nothing but mistakes so far.  I suppose that’s what I get for writing that fate-tempting sentence.  There is something so tantalizing about the promise of the new year, though.  The unflinching optimism that this year, surely, will be better than the one that just passed.  Maybe it will even be the best one yet.  The evidence might be for the contrary and still I persist in thinking I can make better the reality; when the reality is, who knows?

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