Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sideways in Solvang

Just returned from a great weekend wine tasting with friends in Solvang, CA. It was my boyfriends birthday. We stayed at the Solvang Inn & Cottages and took the "Sideways" tour of many of the wineries and vineyards surrounding Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley. Our stops took us along route 246 from Solvang to Los Olivos to Buellton. Tasting and tours began at the Roblar Winery where we enjoyed a Mediterranean lunch filled with exotic cheeses and meats, then onto the Bridlewood Winery where they offer a horse-carriage ride around the vineyards, then to Brander Vineyards, next was the Firestone Winery where we learned about the wine making process through a guided tour and we finished up at the Demetria Estate where we were personally invited inside to hang out with the sommeliers. Throughout the weekend, we dined at the Hitching Post and Los Olivos Cafe' restaurants made famous by appearing in the movie, Sideways. Solvang is a quaint little Danish town with European style shops and restaurants along the main Copenhagen Street.

Jason Mraz @ Hollywood Bowl

My boyfriend and I recently went to see Jason Mraz at the Hollywood Bowl. It was the 2nd time that I've seen him in concert. My boyfriend has known him for a while. They worked together on an album that my boyfriend produced called, Jason Mraz Inspirations for Target. Of all of Jason's albums, the latest one, "We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things" is my favorite. On his third album, he again experiments, this time exchanging his acoustic persona for more blue-eyed soul than ever.

Sure the album’s first single, stripped down ballad I’m Yours, is typical man-with-guitar Mraz, but on other tracks he gets hip, trading in the acoustic guitar for jazzy electric piano and brass solos. Album opener Make It Mine engages with vibrant lounge-inspired melodies and Mraz’ trademark “la-la-las.” Then he brings the funk on the smoothly seductive Coyotes with its computerized beats and imagery-driven lyrics (“No wonder I’m a one woman man/ She keeps my heart in a jar on the nightstand”). Or there’s the deliciously tongue-in-cheek Butterfly, an innuendo laden ode to love laid out over energetic trumpet flourishes.

But don’t think We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. sees Mraz completely turning back on his troubadour roots. He duets sweetly with Colbie Caillat on beachy ballad Lucky where the two extol the virtues of falling in love with your best friend. And to close the album, he aptly chooses the quiet but impressive Beautiful Mess that reminds listeners that Mraz unplugged almost always trumps everything else.

As a fan of Mraz, its easy to be blindsided into automatically loving any new music he makes. All his usual stylistic devices are accounted for: spitfire delivery (see borderline rap song Dynamo), witty/incisive lyricism (Love for a Child) and inspirational balladry (Live High or as I call it, Life is Wonderful 2.0). Still, fan or not, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. is a must for anybody searching for grown-up pop with personality.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Malibu life...

After many requests, I've finally put together a list of my favorite spots in Malibu. So, here they are:
1. Coast along the PCH
2. Paradise Cove
3. Malibu Beach Inn
4. Diesel Books
5. James Perse Apparel
6. Malibu Country Mart

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dog supplies & artist

Just came home from my favorite dog retailer, Maxwell Dog in Studio City. I love this store and so does my baby, Bella. They carry everything from toys to healthy food and treats, various colors and sizes of leashes, harnesses, collars and apparel. They also have a wide array of dog beds, blankets, accessories and publications about dogs. While there I checked out the artwork of the native Malibu artist, B.Johnson. He has garnered much praise and attention for his uniquely rendered dog paintings and has a long list of celebrity clientele who have commissioned his work. On my way out, I picked up a copy of this month's edition of BARK magazine. I am very excited about their first annual Short Story Fiction contest. I have the perfect story in mind for it and plan on writing it tonight.

James Taylor & Carol King @ the Troubadour

This morning as I was driving through the canyon, I played my new mix CD that includes tracks by Starsailor, James Taylor, Jamie Cullem, Leona Lewis, Erin McCarly and Colbie Caillat. This reminded me of the last time I saw James Taylor. It was at the Troubadour where he had a private show with Carol King.

It was the best show that I had seen all year and I saw some great legendary artists in concert last year including Sting and the Eagles. When an artists' music effects me so deeply that it moves me emotionally and conjures up memories, I enjoy it more than an artist who can put on a good show, but whose music does not strike me deeply. I have loved James Taylor's music since I was a child. I first met him when I was in boarding school and his daughters band performed there. I have seen him since then, but hearing him perform with Carol King was the best. I used to go to the Hot Tin Roof club on Martha's Vineyard that James and Carly Simon owned and would see them both there frequently.

James and Carol performed at the Troubador together back in 1974 and this was the first time that they have performed together at the Troubador since then. It was great to see how they connected with each other and hear stories of they came up with their songs. I especially loved James story of how he ended up writing "Sweet Baby James". He said that he had just come back from making his first album in London in 1969 and was driving back to North Carolina to see his brother's baby that had just been born and was named after him. He wrote the song for his nephew.

Oh, I do have to mention that the VIP seats were filled with celebrities including Colin Ferrel and Joni Mitchel. I am a Joni fan also. I love her in "The Last Waltz" with The Band.

Madonna & The Black Crowes

After ruffling through my wall of CD's, I was reminded of the last Madonna and The Black Crowes concerts I attended. I wrote my reviews of them a while ago, but thought they were worth reprinting. Here they are:

All that I am going to say about Madonna is that I have never and will never pay to see her in concert. Yeah, I was a material girl back when the lace hair berets and multiple rubber bracelets were in style and danced in my bed room to "lucky star" and "like a virgin" for hours on end in 1985, but that doesn't mean that I need to stay devoted to a rude ungrateful rock star who doesn't appreciate her fans. The two times that I have seen her she was rude to the audience and acted like her fans should all be grateful to spend $500 on a ticket to see her. I've seen Mariah Carey 3 times in concert and Cher once and would go back to see either of them 10 times more than I would see Madonna. Enough about her.

The Black Crowes I saw at the Greek Theatre in Hollywood. I didn't know anything about them or their music before I saw them last month. All I knew was that the lead singer was married to one of my favorite actresses, Kate Hudson. I thought they were o.k.. I definitely felt like I was back in prep school or college at a Phish show with the scent of whisky and pot fumigating throughout the bleachers. The only song that I recognized was their 70's remake of "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band. It was a nice night out, so we stayed for most of the show, but I am not in a rush to see them again and was disappointed to not even have a Kate sighting there.

The Weepies

I've been listening to the latest album by a great band called, The Weepies . The first time I saw them was at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood in 2006. Thier music sounded like a mix between The Indigo Girls and Fountains of Wayne. It was two girls and a guy who had all met eachother along the east coast. The female lead singer and the male guitar player had traveled around Boston and New York playing in different clubs and lived in the Berkshires for a year which I thought was funny because I lived there for 4 years while I was in boarding school. They actually reminded me of the hippie bands I used to go see back then like Phish, The Samples, Big Head Todd and Dave Mathews Band. It was a good show.

Oh, as we were leaving the show, Keiffer Sutherland walked in. I couldn't believe it because my boyfriend loves the t.v. show 24 and makes me call him Jack Bauer on Monday nights. Crazy,huh? Anyway, we were both so excited. Apparently, Keifer has started his own record label and the band with Rocco Deluca who's album he is producing also played that night after we left. My boyfriend really wants to do the soundtrack for 24.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Catcher in the Rye

Wanted to share this interesting article, Holden Caulfield at 60? No Way, Says J. D. Salinger about the greatest piece of writing by my favorite author, J.D. Salinger. I first read Catcher in the Rye as a freshman in a prepatory boarding school and at the time thought that Holden Caulfield was my soul mate, a character created to let me know that there was someone else who understood my experiences. The story is complete and there is no need for a sequel. The gift that Salinger has left with me is to provide me with just enough to use my imagination. The authors who do that are the one's I fell in love with. F.Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, John Knowles and Salinger are the authors who left me spellbound at the end of each novel for years to come.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Farragut North at the Geffen Playhouse

Last night my boyfriend and I went to see the LA showing of the play, Farragut North at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. Chris Pine of the blockbuster, Star Trek and Chris Noth of the hit HBO series, Sex & The City (who doesn't love Mr.Big?) and Law & Order star in this well-crafted tale of mischief, manipulation and misdeeds, all in the cause of winning. It is about about spinmeisters on the campaign trail.

As a very casual theater-goer, I was pleasantly surprised by the actors performances and the charm of the small, intimate playhouse. The Geffen theater, located in the heart of Westwood Village holds a small number of seats allowing the audience to have more of a close and personal experience with actors on stage. There is a snack/wine bar inside that play-goers may purchase from during the intermission as well as tables and chairs in the outdoor courtyard.

I give this experience 4 stars and would consider seeing another show at this venue.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sundays in LA

Today was another typical sunday in LA filled with a trip to the Laurel Canyon Farmers Market in the morning, home for lunch, then playing with Bella at the off-leash Sepulveda Basin dog park and finally coming home and relaxing on our new outdoor furniture on our roof deck. If you're not from LA and are not familiar with the way of the farmers market, do some research before you head over to one especially on the west side. They can get pretty crowded and overwhelming. My favorite is the Laurel Canyon one first because of its proximity to my townhouse and second because of the eclectic variation of vendors. It is not only a vegan paradise, but there are booths filled with fresh flowers, an assortment of natural baked goods, tie-dyed t-shirts, jewelry and hand-made purses! Once in a while there will also be a pet adoption booth set-up with the most adorable kitty's. It is a must-go place to visit.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Wyland Foundation

I recently visited one of the many galleries of one of my favorite marine artists, Wyland while I was in Kauai. I have been a fan of his since the early 90's when I was given one of his pictures for a present, The Dolphin Paradise which is probably still my favorite painting of his. He honored me by signing it when I first met him at his gallery in Laguna Beach almost 10 years ago. As a member of the Wyland Foundation, I am also an avid advocate of protecting and preserving the worlds oceans. By bridging the worlds of art and science, the Wyland Foundation strives to inspire people of all ages to become better stewards of our oceans and precious water resources.

I look forward to seeing him again...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Neil Young's Fork in the Road

Just sat down to listen to Neil Young's new album Fork in the Road just released this week. I have been a huge Neil Young fan probably my whole life. My mother first infused me with his melodic voice when I was just a toddler with the sounds of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Since then, Neil has always kept me coming back for more. With Heart of Gold, I fell in love all over again. The reviews have been great for this latest release and I can't wait to hear how he is going to seduce me even more...

I found these great pic's of Neil Young & David Crosby from back in day from their early performances at the Troubadour and the Roxy.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Balboa Island

We recently went to Balboa Island and today is one of those days that I wish I could spent the afternoon there. If you haven't been, it's a tiny little island off the coast of Newport Beach, CA. What I love about it, is the pier on the beach, the architecture of the row houses all beautifully designed and the frozen banana's shop where you can actually get a piece of frozen cheesecake on a stick! There is also a ferris wheel at the dock of the island with a very good view of the shore from the top seat.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Show, Don't Tell

I finished two books in the last month that I had been reading simultaneously, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman. They have completely different plots from each other, but have a similar theme. Both authors take the reader through an emotional and physical journey. One brought me through Italy, India and Bali while the other took me on a road trip across the US. I loved them both and learned from each of their experiences.

I also got the edits back from my editor for my novel manuscript this week. She had some good suggestions including working on a writing technique that I'm sure now will take me years to master, "Show, don't tell." I tend to focus more on setting and creating dialogue than describing the mannerisms of characters. For now, I am studying the techniques of writing the bones and making many revisions.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Roses, Tulips, Daisy's

Two bouquets, one from the love of my life and the other from a friend. My boyfriend knows me well and picked out the roses and tulips with a balloon, my favorite!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You say it's you're birthday...

Yes, today is my birthday and I've had the words to that infamous Beatles song in my head all day.

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday

We're gonna have a good time

I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we're going to a party party

I would like you to dance--Birthday
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance-Birthday

I would like you to dance--Birthday

Thank you to all my wonderful family & friends for the birthday wishes! I feel so fortunate to have you in my life and share the rest of the years of my life with you.

This is a picture of the cupcakes from Crumbs Bakeshop in Malibu that a good friend got me for my b-day. I've already eaten 4 of them!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Birthday/Memorial day wknd in Malibu

Happy Memorial day! I had a great weekend in Malibu. Me, my friends and Bella went to a dog-friendly beach in Malibu and then to dinner at Taverna Tony's at the Malibu Country Mart. While at dinner, we enjoyed a celebrity filled meal. We sat next to Ryan O'niell and his ladies, Jeremy Piven walked in with his entourage, ran into Anthony Hopkins and chatted with Rosanna Arquette in the bathroom. Pretty weird.

The best part was being able to have Bella share the time with us.

Thank you to my amazing friends!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dancing with Bella

Bring it on

Getting ready to bring on a fun Memorial/birthday (my b-day is Wednesday the 27th) weekend filled with fun friends & my dog, Bella in Malibu, one of my favorite ocean side communities. I am going to check out the dog-friendly Leo Carrillo beach and then head to the Malibu Country Mart for dinner at Taverna Tony's where dog's are allowed on the patio seating. This is the first year since I have moved back to LA from Boston that I will be celebrating my birthday on the mainland. I've been very fortunate to be able to spend it in Hawaii for the last 4 years and this year we decided to return to our 2nd home in Kauai two weeks earlier than we usually do.

On a side note, I felt very proud as I watched our debonair President Obama give the commencement address at the Naval Academy graduation on CNN this morning. It reminded me how fortunate I am to live in a society where we have the freedom of our civil rights and although I am not a big military fan, I am thankful that there are people who believe in doing whatever possible to defend this country by joining the navy, marines, airforce and any other branch of the military.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Paradise lost

Just returned to LA after an amazing vacation at our 2nd home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. I'm still on aloha time (this is what my sister and I call it, because the locals all seem to move on their own time & there is no rushing), which I don't mind much when I'm there. It seems after every visit, I have been enlightened by the islanders and their beliefs, ideals and passion for the environment.

As I get back into the swing of things here, I am surrounded by my 3 lovable babies, my dog, Bella and Siamese cats, Jarvis and Shania. My boyfriend named the cats after musicians (He has a record label). I am getting back to working on my fiction novel and listening to my latest cd of the newest releases by my favorite artists, Ben Lee, The Rescues, Zac Brown Band, Tamarama and Jesse Malin.

I'm looking forward to this long Memorial day weekend and bringing Bella to the only dog-friendly beach near me in Malibu, the Leo Carrillo beach off the PCH.