WTF WITH MARC MARON

Happy Monday, readers!  To kick off this week I wanted to take a minute and introduce you to an awesome new podcast I stumbled across: WTF with Marc Maron.  I first heard about this series from my neighborhood USPS mailman.  We got to talking about Radiolab oddly enough, which is my all-time favorite podcast, when he mentioned that a local comedian just interviewed the president for a show he hosts in his garage.  That's right, folks, THE PRESIDENT.  IN HIGHLAND PARK.  WHICH IS, LIKE, EXTREMELY CLOSE TO MY HOUSE.

I experienced a definite freakout.  The idea that Mr. Barack was cruising around my neighborhood, to hang in some comedian's garage pretty much blew my mind.  Even more interesting was that Obama stopped by to talk about anything and everything; to share stories about his life experience and who he is as a person.  I was so curious - who is the guy behind that big red, white, and blue curtain?  You know, really?!?

Maron's interview did not disappoint.  As a host, he asks interesting, provocative questions without hesitation.  The conversation was honest and open.  Out of nowhere Obama was human, with feelings and life experiences just like me.  On top of everything, what he had to say about racism and the current social climate in America made me stop and think.  I felt afraid, passionate, and connected all at once.

If you are looking for a great listen on your next drive, I highly recommend giving WTF a go.  I love that Maron sits back and allows conversation to flow as it will.  He is not tied to some script, so you get to enjoy every awkward pause and goofy digression.  I followed up Mr. Obama with an interview between Maron and Sir Ian McClellan (aka Gandalf).  It was amazing, 'nuff said.

VELVET DOUBLE TAKE

Velvet Lipsticks

Readers!  Liquid-to-matte lipsticks!  These have been all the rage for sometime now (thank-you, Kylie Jenner) and I am so excited to share my top favorite hues with you.  I wanted to keep the look sharp and sophisticated, so I opted for a clean face with just a touch of blush, mascara and a slicked back pony.  Before applying these lipsticks be sure to moisturize your lips with a hydrating balm and apply a nude lip liner to prevent feathering.

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Abused

Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Abused

For a darker, grungier look I picked up Jeffree Star's Velour Liquid Lipstick in Abused.  Star is an incredibly talented makeup artist with experience to boot.  His formula is packed with pigment and applies smoothly.  Bottomline?  This navy shade is irresistible.  It's deliciously daring and makes me feel like a rock star.  It does run on the chalkier side and left my lips feeling a bit parched.  To maximize wear, be sure to allow it to dry completely, especially on the inner corners of your mouth.

Lime Crime Velvetines Liquid Lipstick in Wicked and Utopia

Lime Crime Velvetines Liquid Lipstick in Wicked and Utopia

Everything about Lime Crime, from its website to its packaging to the makeup itself, makes me feel like a blissed out eleven-year-old.  This brand makes makeup dreams come true, folks.  Between psychedelic glitter pots and an extensive selection of liquid lipsticks, founder Doe Deere has me hooked!  I picked up two of the Velvetine shades, Wicked and Utopia.  Wicked is a beautifully rich and vampy red with serious depth and a covetable matte finish.  This hue made me feel like Snow White (if she was a hint edgier and probably more tan).  Utopia is a striking raspberry-pink, which I will capture in a few weeks.  Overall I prefer the Velvetine formula; it applies fluidly and doesn't leave my lips feeling too dry.  Plus, it smells like tutti-fruitti jelly beans.

I am on the hunt for a few extra shades, any recommendations?

PLUOT & PLUM GALETTE

HOLY FOOD GODS I'M IN LOVE WITH A DESSERT. I'm not a person who loves sweet things. Give me a bag of potato chips over a cupcake any day. But this. THIS IS GOOD, Y'ALL. Buttery, crispy pastry and juicy home-grown stone fruit baked to golden lusciousness.  I stole a bushel of pluots and plums from my mom's garden before I returned to L.A. with this dessert in mind. Borrowed mostly Jacques Pepin's recipe, I made a few tweaks to minimize the sweetness and add some crunch.  Pssst...eat this for breakfast to start your day on a truly joyful, hedonistic note. 

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds plums and pluots cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits
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Directions:

  1. PASTRY: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and process for 5 seconds until you get pebble-sized chunks of butter Add the ice water and give it a whir for another 5 seconds, just until the dough comes together. 
  2.  Gather the dough into a ball and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Create an oval about 18 inches long and about 1/8 inch thick. You can roll the dough out thinner if you prefer less pastry in each bite. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and chill in the refigerator for 20 minutes. 
  3. FILLING: Combine white sugar with the ground almonds and flour and spread this mixture in the center of the dough, leaving a 2 inch border on all sides. Arrange the plum wedges on top and dot with the butter. Sprinkle all but 1 teaspoon of the turbinado sugar over the fruit. Fold the edge of the dough up over the plums. Don't worry if it looks ugly--this is a rustic dish! Sprinkle the border with the reserved 1 teaspoon of turbinado sugar.
  4.  Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, until the fruit is very soft and the crust is golden. 

SUMMER READING LIST

In college I read a book per week in order to keep up with my classes. Now, not so much. Never big on New Year's Resolutions (cannot commit to something like weekly Pilates, you see,) I've made it my summer resolution to read more books! Here's what's on my list! 

1. The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri I just finished this little gem. This Indian American author is one of my favorites. Her style is very sparse but she manages to imbue each line of writing with such complex emotion. This story of a pair of brothers--one a revolutionary and one an academic--and the consequences of their attachment to one another is truly magnificent. Don't expect this one to be all puppies and butterflies. You may shed more than one tear. 

2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem - Joan Didion Didion is a mainstay in Creative Writing education so I read much of her work in college and consequently became an enormous fan. But I've never read this book of essays cover to cover. I'm excited to get a full view of California in the 60's by way of Didion's expert telling. 

3. The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir This 1949 classic is oft regarded as the starting point for the feminist movement. Beauvoir explores the subjugation of women in Western culture from a historical and philosophical point of view. She definitely ruffled feathers with this one and I can't wait to see why--and discover exactly how far we've come.  

4. Among the Ten Thousand Things - Julia Pierpont This book has been named one of the best of the year and lauded by countless respected authors. It's a family drama told in four parts. But my main source of interest in this one is that it's a debut novel from a young writer--I always like to see what people my age are dreaming up. 

5.  Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison When I came to the realization a few weeks ago that I've never read this American classic, I felt no small amount of shame. Morrison is regarded as one of our country's most captivating and singular storytellers, and my grandmother (a retired librarian) said this is quite possibly her favorite book of all time. Must. Read.  

6. The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd I read Kidd's Secret Life of Bees YEARS ago but remember liking it. I've been recommended her latest work about a pair of real-life abolitionist sisters and a fictional woman who works as a slave in the sisters' childhood home. It's a story of liberation, empowerment, and deep struggle as these women seek to overcome the brutal oppression of the American South in the early 19th century. 

7. Being Mortal - Atul Gawande This one has sat on my shelf for a while. I know it's going to be sad so I'm putting it off! Author Gawande, a surgeon, explores the limitations of Western medicine in addressing the issue of death and giving patients a dignified end of life. 

8. Owning Your Own Shadow - Robert A. Johnson This one crept onto my list last minute after I saw that Tilda Swinton has it on her summer reading list. I find the Swinton an alluring and mysterious bird and need to know what she's reading. This 2009 psychology book explores the dark side of the human psyche and how coming to terms and learning about your own darkness can lead to a fuller life.  

What are you guys reading this summer? Add to my list! 

KETCHIKAN, ALASKA

Ketchikan Alaska

This year has been full (and I mean brimming) with adventure.  I have traveled across the globe, explored new lands with unfamiliar histories and plenty of new faces, but my trip last week to Ketchikan thoroughly upped the ante.  I came home with my mind opened, my heart blissfully full, and my spirit renewed.

What took me all the way to Alaska?  My hula-hooping, bubble-blowing sister, Tika.  She’s been working in this tiny town for the summer season for over three years now, every summer talking about the beauty, the friends, and the soul of this place.  She always describes her experience as addicting, which has typically left me a tad confused and a bit unsure. 

After a week of climbing the mountains and meeting so many incredible people, I get it.  I’m hooked. 

Keeping it simple, here are some of my top favorite moments:

1)  Looking out across the landscape.  The wilderness goes on forever, into the horizon as far as you can see, so much that you just about get lost.  Can you spot me?

At the top of Dude Mountain

At the top of Dude Mountain

2)  Literally eating the landscape (but only the berries that grow above ground, otherwise you might die :0 ).

Salmon berries forevah!

Salmon berries forevah!

3)  Posting hidden messages in the forest.

Ketchikan Alaska

4)  Taking a nap on a moss bed and feeling like a super dope forest elf/hobbit.

Ketchikan Alaska

5)  Running into some serious wildlife (baby bear cub not pictured).  Note:  Alaskan snow crabs are terrifying.

Ketchikan Alaska
My dad and the (oh-so-tasty) monster.

My dad and the (oh-so-tasty) monster.

6)  Scoring some deliciously sexy mermaid garb on the beach.

Ketchikan Alaska

More deeply, I return home quite emotional.  There is a palpable absence I find difficult to describe - a sense of loneliness and quiet that began to creep in as I made my way back to the big city.  Tika shared, "Alaska is a place that not only heals people but also gives them an opportunity to see and feel what is needed in life."

I needed time to reconnect with the world; to pan across a vista so overwhelming and big I couldn’t comprehend it.  Time to listen to the wind brush my ears and feel physically present in the exercise at hand.  To find myself in sync with the earth and be reminded I am only one being among many.  And about those beings.  It is rare to happen across a community of friends that just so happen to speak your language.  Who open their minds and souls to your own.  I admire their commitment to the present moment and honesty about what they seek.  Their thirst for adventure and curiosity to explore is sincere and energizing.  

As I sit back at my desk in Los Angeles, I feel this nugget of love and hold it close as I settle back into the rhythm of life here.  Ketchikan, you stole my heart!  Until next time...