Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Munchies: Thanks, Honey!

Every year, around this time, Dan and I find ourselves in the City of Angels. Ostensibly, we're here to produce our annual cinematic event, the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival. But, while in town, we also look forward to seeing our old pals – friends that we've known for several years, since the days of our full-time residency in Southern California or, in some cases, since my days as a Northwestern University undergrad. Admittedly, I haven't seen much of them this year – due, in large part, to our frequent bouts with the flu as well as my insane work schedule (Have I mentioned that I'm writing a travel guide to the Florida Keys? Haha!). One event, though, that we always make time for is our annual food-and-wine bacchanal – a multi-hour evening of gourmet cuisine, engrossing conversation, and, uh, several bottles of wine with three of my old college pals: Cat, Halle, and Erik.

Well, despite my insane work schedule, we gathered this past Saturday at Cat's house for our annual diet-busting extravaganza – for which Dan, naturally, always cooks. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a camera with me (I blame my fuzzy, guide-obsessed head), so I wasn't able to record the wonderful dishes for posterity, but suffice it to say, it was scrumptious as always. The menu – if the six bottles of wine we shared haven't dulled my memory – included bruschetta, bread with olive tapenade, creamy avocado-cucumber gazpacho, soy-glazed grilled shrimp, mint-goat cheese salad, and crab-stuffed manicotti with Creole cream sauce. Ooh-la-la!

So, I just wanted to take a quick break from writing and say... THANKS, HONEY! It was a delicious feast, as always, and I really appreciated the respite from my crazy remind-me-what-sleep-is-again schedule. I love you, Danny, for many, many reasons – and your mad cooking skills are definitely at the top of the list.

Oh, and, of course, I owe some gratitude to Halle and Erik, for bringing the wine, and to Cat, for making some killer Irish-style cupcakes, made with chocolate, whiskey, Guinness beer, and Bailey's Irish cream (some of my favorite ingredients in all the world) and a perfect way to punctuate Dan's mouth-watering meal. Thanks, guys!

So, what yummy things have you eaten lately?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday Travels: Film Fests and Lighthouses

This past weekend, I had to put my Florida Keys travel guide aside and focus on one of my other ongoing projects: the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival, a small independent film festival that my husband and I began five years ago. For this year's fest, the opening night party took place at Hollywood Billiards, while the actual films were screened at Raleigh Studios on Melrose Avenue. It was inevitable that filmmakers would ask about the origin of our name – given that the entire event took place in Hollywood, not Beverly Hills – but a change of venue was unfortunately required this year. Hey, better to have taken place in the wrong neighborhood than not at all, right?

Anyway, despite the fact that I'm stressed out from my never-ending travel guide work and still recovering from a head cold, I enjoyed plenty of moments from this weekend's event. The party on Thursday night was, of course, a highlight – as were all the informative, funny, and often poignant behind-the-scenes tales revealed during the post-screening Q&As. One particularly touching moment occurred after the first drama program on Friday night, when Pauley Perrette (zany Abby Sciuto on NCIS) revealed her own personal connections to To Comfort You, the short drama in which she stars as a dying young woman.

The rest of the festival was just as memorable. Although our attendance was lower than in previous years, those festival-goers that did attend seemed pleased with the film selections – which always makes me and Dan feel proud. So, despite snafus like having the wrong HD deck on Friday and fighting L.A. Marathon traffic on Sunday, it went fairly smoothly.

And, as always, we couldn't have done it without our awesome volunteers, especially Jen, Angel, and Doug (thanks, guys!).

But, of course, now that the weekend is over, I've had to double my efforts with the travel guide to make up for lost time. Although I was able to get a little bit done in the projection booth – including a post about other film festivals – there's a lot left to be done before I can put the Florida Keys behind me for a little while. Of course, it doesn't help that Dan and I will be in Michigan in roughly two weeks – a fact that has already conjured up visions of lighthouses and tall trees and places that are a world away from southern Florida. I swear, the life of a nomad sure takes some getting used to – for one thing, it's hard to leave our friends and family behind in each port of call – but at least the scenery changes a lot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday: Happy St. Patty's Day!

Though I'm still hard at work on my Florida Keys guide – and gearing up for the fifth annual Beverly Hills Shorts Festival this weekend – yikes! – I just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day. If you have a minute, check out my top picks for Irish pubs in America – and join the shamrock fun over at Come In Character. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday – and don't forget to wear a little green – or you're liable to get pinched.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday: Totally Tapped Out

Wow. I can't believe it's been over a week since I blogged here. Although I'm enjoying writing chapters for my Florida Keys guidebook – and blogging about travel-related things like snorkeling and fishing in the Lower Keys – the tight editorial schedule (which is way tighter than I'm used to) has ensured that I have little time for anything else, including this blog, your blogs, and my novel revision. Even though my deadline's been extended to mid-April, it's not just lack of time that's held me back... with my head so focused on the Keys, I haven't had the creative energy to focus on anything else. I mean, sheesh, I don't even have much to say about the boring, unamusing marathon that was this year's Oscars (although I'm very happy for Sandra Bullock and Kathryn Bigelow). Oh, looky, I guess I did have a little bit to say...

Anyway, sometimes, I wonder how other writers juggle blogging along with everything else. I guess we all need a break from the blogosphere once in a while, but I sure do miss all my online buddies – and can't wait to visit your blogs in a month or so. Until then, I hope everything's going swimmingly for you all!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Whimsical Wednesday: Conchs, Fudgies, and Other American Jargon

Though my life is currently revolving around Moon Florida Keys, I still have other responsibilities – such as my travel blog at So, while working on a glossary of regional terms for the travel guide, I was suddenly inspired to post a four-part series about the unique regional dialect (and features) of four of my favorite U.S. locales: the Florida Keys, the Everglades, New Orleans, and Michigan.

So, if you ever wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) what a no-see-um is, here's your chance!

And, of course, feel free to share the odd words and expressions unique to your neck of the woods. I'd like to be better prepared for a future visit!