Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream

One reason we were excited to travel to California was to be reunited with one of our all time favorite sweet treats, Sprinkles cupcakes.  Candance Nelson opened the first Sprinkles on Santa Monica Boulevard after having visited Magnolia Bakery on a trip to New York. Since their opening in 2005, Sprinkles has opened twelve locations nationwide, they have a Sprinklesmobile designed by "Pimp My Ride's" West Coast Customs, a line of mixes sold at Williams-Sonoma, an iPhone app, a cupcake ATM, and most recently two shops selling Sprinkles own ice cream counterpart.  Sprinkles' list of ever changing flavors is highly drool inducing, but we each have our favorites we keep coming back to (Dad/Lemon, Mom/Coconut, Morgan/Cinnamon Sugar, and me/Black and White).  Luckily we were able to try several flavors, my new favorites being Pumpkin and Triple Cinnamon.  We were also able to try Sprinkles Ice Cream for the first time and it was equally as delicious.  The decided favorite was the Sprinkles Sundae, a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two cupcake halves.  Have no fear, Georgia friends, Sprinkles will soon be opening a location (with cupcakes and ice cream) in Lenox Square Mall.

Cupcake ATM

Sprinkles Sundae

Red Velvet Waffle Cone of Butter Pecan

Special cupcakes for the birth of the Royal Baby!

Attending a Taping of Chelsea Lately

While in California, my family attended a taping of "Chelsea Lately."  Having never been in any sort of studio audience, I scoured the internet for recounts of similar experiences to see what we had in store.  Now that it is all said and done, I thought I would share my own experience.

In line for the taping
We arrived at Universal Studios around thirty minutes before the time listed on our ticket.  We were immediately put into a line where we were to wait to go onto the lot.  People with priority tickets were taken in first and we waited about thirty to forty more minutes before going in.  Upon entering the lot, you are lead to the studio where you go through security before entering.  At this point, if you have a book to be signed by Chelsea the security guards will collect them to be returned to you after the show. Many signs around the studio state that there are no phones allowed inside, but they will let you keep them as long as they stay turned off.  After going through security, you are given the opportunity to use the restroom and then find a seat in the studio.

A quick photo of the set I snapped after the taping
Once everyone is seated the self-described "Chelsea Lately Fluffer" comes out to tell a few jokes and go over how the audience should applaud at different points in the show.  During this time they throw Chuy Balls into the audience as a sort-of incentive for audience participation.  We quickly ended up with a full "set."

They show a blooper reel and video of funny clips from the show to get everyone in the mood, and then quickly move into the show.  They introduce the round table guests, Chuy, and then Chelsea, who immediately begins her opening monologue.  Tonight her monologue featured her dog Chunk, one of the most adorable dogs I've ever seen.
From @chelseahandler's Instagram

From here they move onto the round table segment.  Today's round table comedians were John Caparulo, Sarah Colonna, and Ben Gleib, all of who were very entertaining.  This is all very similar to how the segment plays out on TV, they discuss a couple of news stories each giving their own colorful commentary.
From @johncaparulo's Instagram

After the round table segment there is a two minute break where the crew changes the set over for the interview part of the show.  Tonight's guest was the hilarious Jason Biggs.  It was a lot of fun to watch him and Chelsea banter back and forth.

From @chelseahandler's Instagram

After the interview, they record a short promo and then the closing of the show.  And as quickly as it began, it is over.  The whole process was a lot of fun and it was awesome getting to be a part of that.  If you are a fan of "Chelsea Lately," "After Lately," Chelsea's writing, or just looking for the studio audience experience this one was a lot of fun and very easy to get into.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Amoeba Music Hollywood

"And remember, if you ever get lonely just go to the record store and visit your friends."

It's not everyday you see so many great albums an movies together under one roof. This is why I'm so happy one of our many adventures yesterday was to Amoeba Music, the world's largest independent record store. Upon walking in you feel as though you have been transported to Empire Records. The store hosts many concerts and signings (David Lynch was there just a couple days ago) and buys and sells used CD's and movies, as well as new. I was ecstatic to find a copy of Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily for just three dollars. 

For more Amoeba visit any of their three California locations or check out Paul McCartney's EP Amoeba's Secret which was recorded at the Hollywood store in 2007.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mae's Bakery and XK Macarons

Recently the Free People store in White Provisions held an event at which they served XK Macarons.  Though I could not attend the event, I gushed over all of their pictures on Instagram and quickly started following XK Macaron's own profile.  I became mesmerized by the pastel treats and other goods sold at Mae's Bakery (who I found through XK's Instagram).  Mae's just recently started carrying XK Macarons, a company started by Xana Kidd earlier this year.
The macarons have a rapidly growing following in the Atlanta area, and for good reason.  Last Saturday, we stopped into Mae's Bakery to sample some of their offerings and they were delicious.  I had the Earl Grey Lavender macaron and chocolate cupcake with buttercream icing.  Another of my favorites was the Almond Joy cupcake which has an almond crust at the bottom of the cake.  Located just down the street from Lenox Mall, Mae's Bakery is in a wonderful location.  I know if I lived in the area I would stop in often to enjoy some of their beautiful sweets and a cup of tea.

You too can follow Mae's Bakery at @maesbakeryatl and XK Macarons at @xkmacarons

I was so pleased with how well my manicure matched my treats

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando Summer 2013

Two Saturdays ago, we departed for Fort Lauderdale.  We spent most of the day driving during which I occupied myself with The Anthropology of an American Girl, a Rolling stone article on upcoming author Tao Lin (I couldn't resist someone who could give Brett Easton Ellis a run for his money), and "Frasier" streaming on Netflix.

We spent our first day at the beach, conveniently located across the street from our hotel.  We lounged and played in the waves until it was time for lunch.  We went to this wonderful beachside eatery, The Oasis Cafe, famed for being "home of the swings."  All of the booths and tables were built on gliders which swayed back and forth as we ate.  I had a mussels dish which was to die for.

We spent our evening doing dinner and a movie at the Aventura Mall.  Our film for the evening was "The Bling Ring" which we were all kind of disappointed by.  The story is interesting and the direction is beautiful but the acting was a little subpar.

Monday we dedicated to shopping and came across a couple of really interesting malls.  The first, the Oasis at Sawgrass Mills, is home to a life size replica of the Barbie Dream House, one of only two in the world.  All four of us were very enamored by what went on inside, and well there was only one way to find out.  We went on a tour of the pink palace.  There is really no way to describe it, except fun.  Morgan and I were the oldest "kids" there, the rest were between four and ten and accompanied by their moms.  I don't think there was one person in the tour who was not enjoying themselves.

We spent the latter portion of our day back at the Aventura Mall.  And this was a really great mall with some awesome stores, but their real crowning achievement was their all eats.  This wasn't just Sbarro, Great American Cookie, and soft pretzels.  Morgan had a crepe at Crepe Maker and there was a stand dedicated entirely to caviar, but my favorite was The Cheese Course.  This is a shop that sells cheese by the pound but also a restaurant which specializes in custom cheese boards.  We got a three cheese board which featured three cheeses of your choosing, two accompaniments (nuts, fruits, etc to compliment the cheese), and French bread.  We had Roquefort Blue Cheese, Beecher's Reserve Cheddar, and Red Dragon and for our accompaniments we had candied walnuts and mixed olives.  I paired it with a glass of Chardonnay and immediately was in heaven.

Tuesday was spent having a Miami adventure.  Caroline was there for the day so we met for lunch at Havana 1957 for some cuban food.  The stars of the meal had to be the red sangria and fried plantains.

We walked down the street some and wandered into Momo Cha Teahouse.  I had an awesome Taro Bubble Tea.  I had only ever had Taro frozen yogurt, but I really enjoyed the tea variety.  I think I have finally learned to love the tapioca bubbles.

We spent the rest of the night traveling to Orlando and slept in the next morning.  Our first order of business was to find somewhere to get fresh gel nails since mine and Mom's were both looking a little shabby.  We found Image Nails and they did not disappoint.  I fell in love with the OPI color You're Such a Budapest.

From there we went to Whole Foods.  Living over an hour away from one, this is always a fun adventure.  We got a build your own six pack, I mixed my own granola, and we left with many treats from the bakery.  We got this really great beer, Key West Sunset, which was brewed locally by the Florida Beer Company.

We spent our evening at Downtown Disney seeing "Monster's University."  We all loved it.  It is just as delightful as the original and with some great new voice actors including Charlie Day and Beth Behrs.

The next morning Dad, Morgan, and I got up and went to the Magic Kingdom when they opened.  We went to Ariel's Grotto for the first time since they opened new Fantasyland and we enjoyed a cinnamon role in Gaston's Tavern.  It still amazes me how much the tavern looks like the movie.

We got our picture with the kookiest of Peter and Wendy's and played the new interactive pirate game in Adventureland.

For lunch we ate at Burger 21.  My family had eaten there before and I had heard much talk about how good it was.  I had the ahi tuna burger and the milkshake of the month, this month's flavor being chai tea.

Tonight for dinner we ate at the Palm.  We started the meal with calamari and lobster bisque.  Then we feasted upon steak, half & half (Half onion rings, Half potato chips), brussels sprouts, and potatoes au gratin.  Mom and I split a bottle of Erocia Riesling, which we both agreed was the best wine we'd ever had.

We spent the next morning in Hollywood Studies, the highlight of which was meeting Ralph and Vanellope from "Wreck-It Ralph."  They have an adorable permanent venue in The Magic of Animation made to look like you're in the Sugar Rush video game.  The queue to meet them looks like you are in Game Central Station looking out of games and into the arcade.

We stayed in on Saturday morning and watched a delightful episode of "Barefoot in the City" in which Ina learned how to prepare the perfect bagel and sent Jeffery to a spice store to pick up the perfect seasoning mix for her sweet potato fries.  I could not find any videos to attach from this particular episode so I have left you with one of my favorites, Ina's Fresh Whiskey Sours.

Dad, Morgan, and I went to Universal to ride the new Transformers ride.  It was a lot of fun, very similar to Spiderman but more Michael Bay with car chases and explosions.  While in Universal, we also walked through the new Springfield expansion.  The highlight of this expansion had to be Moe's Tavern.  It is an exact replica of the bar where Homer and the gang hang out.  They even serve Duff beer brewed exclusively for the parks.

We ate dinner at what has quickly become one of our Orlando favorites, Hot N Juicy Crawfish.  We ate there last summer after having purchased a coupon and could not wait to go back.  You pick your seasoning and spice level and then can get all sorts of seafood boiled--shrimp, crawfish, crab legs, etc.  We got shrimp, crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn in the medium level Hot N Juicy Special Seasoning and it was wonderful.  The perfect meal to pair with an ice cold Budlight.

We headed over to EPCOT to spend our last day at Disney.  I started the day right by having my picture taken with my favorite princess, Belle.

We stopped in Italy for lunch at Via Napoli.  We enjoyed delicious calamari and pizza and had the two most adorable waiters.  It was great getting to talk to them about their homes in Italy and experience working with Disney.

Of course we stopped in Japan for some of our favorite shopping and Morgan and I came home with new friends, Chococat and Rilakkuma.

Before leaving, we stopped in the new ice cream shop in France.  I had some of the best pistachio ice cream.  It was really almost too pretty to eat.

For our last dinner in Orlando, we decided to try something new.  We had a coupon for the House of Blues and they had great review son Urbanspoon and Yelp! so we decided this was our place.  Honestly, after walking past the House of Blues dozens of times and even having gone to a show there, I had no idea there was a restaurant.  The decor was great.  Folk art covers every inch of the walls and we even found some works from our personal favorites, Sam the Dot Man and Georgia's very own Howard Finster.  The beautiful bar in the back of the main dining room was completely "Blues Brothers" themed (John Belushi and Dan Akroyd were two of the founders of the original House of Blues).  The food was just as great as our surroundings.  We started the meal with divine BBQ Chicken Flatbread.  I had grilled Mahi Mahi with what had to be the best mashed potatoes I've ever eaten.  We closed the meal (and our trip) with scrumptious key lime pie and bread pudding.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Inspiration

SpeakeasyDC is a program which trains and teaches people to be great story tellers.  They also work to produce storytelling shows where people perform autobiographical stories.  As someone who does not enjoy public speaking, I have a lot of respect for those who do especially when their performances regard their personal lives.  The theme of the most recent series was "Geeking Out" and all of the performances were about excitement pertaining to some sort of fandom.  One of my favorites speakers was Sarah Ventre whose twenty-first birthday was on the night of the last show at the legendary CBGB's club in Manhattan.  Needless to say, she had to get to that show and how she got there is an awesome story.

YouTube is being stubborn and currently will not allow me to post the video, but you can watch it here.
You can also read about Sarah's story at NPR All Songs Considered.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Let's Move to Pasadena

It was the great Penny Lane who said "If you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends."  Friendship is the perfect way to describe my relationship with the Modern Skirts.  I started listening and going to their shows in high school and they quickly became a piece of my home in Athens.  I often found myself starstruck upon seeing the band's members in local restaurants or making small talk with them in the frozen food section of Trader Joe's.  After I moved to Milledgeville for school they even came and played a couple of shows there, giving me the opportunity to introduce them to my new friends at school.  One of my favorites of these shows was an intimate acoustic set in the then open Jittery Joe's (another piece of home I was happy to find away at school).  I was saddened to hear of their time coming to an end, but happy to keep the memories I did have with the band, whether it be their last show at this year's Athfest or driving on a sunny day singing all of the words to "My Lost Soprano" with my roommate.

2011 Show in the Milledgeville Jittery Joe's

Final show at this year's Athfest

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fried Green Tomatoes

After having both my mom and best friend tell me at least a hundred times that I needed to see it, I finally watched “Friend Green Tomatoes."  It was truly one of the best stories of a relationship between friends that I have ever had the pleasure to see.  It made me look back on so many of the women who have changed my life.  Moments after finishing the movie and wiping our tears, Caroline and I made plans to make a trip to the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia where the movie was filmed.

Originally written 9/8/12

Disney Cruise/Orlando

Ready to set sail!

The Disney Fantasy

My favorite mosaic in the Royal Court

Spotted this gem on a bathroom break at a Hard Rock in Grand Cayman, Bee Gees Karaoke 

A church in Grand Cayman

Docked in Cozumel

Souvenir shopping in Cozumel

Street art in Cozumel

Our beautiful home for the past week

Ginger love, missing my @mkmalonez

So, I guess it’s not too late to be a sticker maker during the day and a hula dancer at night

My and @cclements1851’s favorite pooches perched on tea towels in @anthropologiecom

What a surprise! The new Despicable Me ride in “technical rehearsal" 

Islands of Adventure

Hanging with Harry

Originally written June 2012