Monday, February 29, 2016

All Hail the Papal Countess

Firstly, Happy Leap Day to one and all

Secondly, on Saturday we went into LA with our friends Rex and Vickie to some of our favorite places to eat. The intent was to go to one place then go to the temple then another place, to kind of space things out. But then we found out that the temple was closed that week so we went and got food anyway but in between went to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels instead. It's always fun to take people there because it's pretty impressive. It doesn't exactly look like a regular cathedral because it's really modern. But it is cavernous and there are all of these cool tapestries of saints and the organ is just grand. Did I ever tell you about the time I was there with some friends and there happened to be a wedding going on? The place is so big that we sat in the back with a tour group and reveled in the glory of that organ playing the wedding march. Wowee! My bones rattled.

When you go you must visit the mausoleum downstairs. If only to say hello to Gregory Peck. I spotted something that I had never seen on any of my previous visits. In the back of the mausoleum is an alter where Daniel and Bernadine Donohue are buried (placed? entombed? resting? I don't even know.) And on their tombstones it says that he was a Gentleman in Waiting to His Holiness and she was a Papal Countess. What is this?! A Papal Countess! You know for sure there is a turban involved with this title. Definitely large jewelry. I looked it up and it turns out a pope can bestow the title of  Papal Count and Countess to wealthy patrons basically. This makes sense. And they did sound like decent people who helped unwed mothers and such. But geez, what a hefty title. Pope John XXIII gave them the titles. And if you're interested, his bone marrow is encased in a decorative thingy for your viewing pleasure. The security guard who pointed this out kept referring to him just as 23. This kind of grated me as much as when people of my own faith say, "Well, Monson said..." Heathens.

Incidentally, rates for the mausoleum start at $50,000. So start saving your pennies if you want to be next to Atticus.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I've got the goods

Recommendation time:

1. May I point you in the direction of this hot cocoa mix from Alton Brown? I know that it's practically spring but some of you may still be feeling the bite of winter. I like having a jar of cocoa mix at the ready because truthfully, those little packets are not enough. They are for an 8 ounce mug and who wants just 8 ounces or cocoa? Monks, maybe. Every year I just wing a recipe and it turns out fine but not like, the BEST. So I thought this year I would be an adult about it and find a professional to help me out. And now my cocoa jar (one that has a silhouette of a steaming cup of cocoa etched onto the glass, which I made at a Relief Society function that was more for etching your name on your Pyrex 9x13 so no one steals it at the next ward pot luck. Don't worry, I did the 9x13 too. I am nothing if not precious.) is filled to the brim. And it's gooooood. I went the extra mile and mixed in some finely chopped chocolate. I liked this recipe because every other recipe I've seen involves non-dairy creamer and/or tapioca, both of which are weird.

2. I'm loving the Washington Post's podcast Presidential (you can find it on iTunes). Each week until the election they feature one president starting with dear old George Washington and his rotten teeth. Although it's a quick 40 minutes so they didn't even get to his rotten teeth. They did talk a lot about how much the ladies liked him. The downside of the podcast is that it makes me a little nostalgic for true politics and not this slimy pandering we have now. Kind of like when I watch the West Wing and start praying that Jed Bartlett come to life and run for president with the help of the whole gang. I am hitting my cynical phase of this election season. (Oh, sweet land of liberty, please let this election season hurry up and die. I'm at the point where I think every single one of them are horrible mutants and I don't even care anymore, just make it stop!)

3. The book Radioactive by Lauren Redniss. About Marie and Pierre Curie. Geez, this was beautiful. I read the whole thing out loud to myself. Sometimes I do this, okay? It's not weird, I promise. Sometimes writing is just so pretty that it needs to be heard. And there is gorgeous art throughout. But it's a little sad, because, you know, radiation. Every time it was mentioned that Marie was sleeping with bits of her dust tucked under her pillow I would groan and say, "Oh, Marie." Also, the book glows in the dark. Just like Marie's lab notebooks still do to this day.

4. Photographer Steve McCurry's blog. You know his work with National Geographic, I'm sure. But on his blog he complies pictures he has taken over the years into a single theme. So eyes or books or prayer and puts in quotes about that theme. It's really lovely. Also, his Instagram feed is good too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

For Ravenclaw!

Stacy and the kids were down for a week and the party never stopped. (Dear Sam, you cannot stay away forever. One of these days you have to come back to California! I know that you're busy with your "job" and being the "bishop" but we will not be ignored! Love, Rachel) One of the driving reasons for moving into my parents home instead of renting it out to someone was so that family could come and visit us and have a place to sleep. Mission accomplished. There was sleeping all over the place. In fact, at dinner on Sunday night Eliza burst into tears and wailed, "I just want to go to bed now!" We wore that girl out.

Commence highlight reel:

1. A Valentine's Day party. Complete with tacos, treats, fancy pink beverages, and bingo. And the requisite Aunts Dance Party to cap the night off. Ben and Tom missed out on their school V-Day parties so we wanted to go all out. There was pink everywhere. Also, the kids got us red roses and handed them out to us. Maybe the best Valentine's Day I've ever had.

2. The Beach, where we froze. It has been hot here, even for February (I say that like I'm south of the equator but it's true, February is historically warm.) Every day last week was a roaster, even Saturday was a roaster everywhere else but the beach, where it was cold and cloudy.

We rented a duffy and putted around Newport Harbor. The kids were less than impressed - they kept asking when it was going to be over, the little savages - but any time spent on a boat is heaven for me as boats are one of the four truly appropriate methods of transportation for a Lady of Elegant Leisure. The other three being convertibles, trains, and zeppelins. But it was rather gloomy.

If you drove literally one mile inland it was nothing but sunshine and warm breezes.

3. Eliza is always hungry. She is a bottomless pit...for sweets. We would eat lunch and then 30 minutes later she would say, "I'm really hungry." So I would suggest a piece of fruit and then she would counter with a pan of brownies. So we made brownies, after fruit. Look, this is what aunts do! They were all excellent little cooks:

4. Phoebes is getting extra cute:

5. Ben and Tom are reading Harry Potter and it is thrilling. They love it. Do you remember the first time you read it? It kind of kills me that I had to read it as an adult. I think 10 year old me would have died over it. They're in the middle of The Prisoner of Azkaban so as we were talking about death eaters they started listing them off.

"Lucius Malfoy."
"Sirius Black"

We sorted them into houses on Pottermore (the new version of which is not nearly as fun) and Ben was not thrilled to be in Hufflepuff

Tom was in Ravenclaw like me and all weekend he kept saying, "For Ravenclaw!" to me.

Come back to us, family!! We have spare rooms and everything!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Night on Broadway

This is the ladies room in the Los Angeles Theater in downtown LA and I am convinced that it is haunted. Only because it looks like it should be. It is GLORIOUS. Albeit a little rundown. 

That's the thing about the theaters in LA. Our Broadway is lined with really beautiful old theaters that for decades were left in disrepair. A few were actually turned into swap meets. The indignity! But there's been a real push to revitalize downtown and part of that is restoring the old theaters. And some of them are really coming back strong. One night a year Broadway is shut down to traffic and all the old girls are opened up and you can roam through them and dream about days of yore. Like would you wear the emeralds or the diamonds with your mink stole when you go see Macbeth. I say both! My favorite room to daydream in these places is always the ladies room because they are sooooo elegant. Most of the theaters have rooms filled with little vanity mirrors. And ugh, the glamour. 

Katie, Heather and I went down on Saturday to check it all out. And all of Los Angeles was there. As much as I hate a crowd I do love the variety of people. There were families with little kids and German tourists and folks in spats and flapper dresses and old people and young people and many, many men with creative facial hair. There was a booth giving hair cuts and a hula hooping station and a silent disco and bands playing every few yards and H&R Block was giving out tax advice. I mean the place was nuts! 

And the theaters. Oh, the theaters. When the Wealthy Benefactor arrives we will have a party down in the ballroom of the Los Angeles Theater. Mark my words! 

Foxy Ladies on the Town

This is the silent disco. Everyone is given a headset with the same music playing and they just danced in the street.

We went back to that taco place we tried on our food tour a few weeks ago and this time got the taco sampler. Holy mole!