The boyfriend and I went to LA in October. My little sister had just started her Freshman year at USC and the boyfriend has an office in LA so can work there any time. Plus he’d never really been and we have tons of friends to visit there. My mom, stepdad Robert (but we don’t really use terms like “step” and “half” in my family, as I’ve written about in earlier blog posts) and other little sister Sofia also flew out. The boyfriend and I stayed in Silver Lake with our good friend Tyler (you may remember from “My Week With Tyler” post). We saw a lot of friends, went to USC a couple times, including a football game (woah is USC different different than Oberlin)(Also you can’t drink at college football games and all people do is complain about how they can’t drink), I spent some quality time with the fam and we all ate way too much (I mean, what else are you supposed to do on vacation?!). We even got to borrow our family friend’s JEEP CONVERTIBLE, so I was in full fledged “Clueless” mode (I may or may not have played “Kids in America” every time we got in the car)(and then dressed up as Cher Horowitz two weeks later for Halloween). My parent’s stayed with my Aunt Barbara in Studio CIty and she threw an early birthday BBQ for Robert and I invited all my friends. Studio City is technically the Valley so I had the chance to use the phrase “Looks like we’re going to the Val party”, which I said way too many times. It was a fun trip and instead of giving you an entire run down here are some things I did/liked:
Mohawk Bend: This “vegan” restaurant was our first stop when we landed, still intoxicated after the plane ride. I say “vegan” because the menu has a plethora of “non-vegan” options, which they clearly mark “NV” (really). We got over the “LA-ness” of the place when we realized they had over 70 California beers on tap and the food was really good. Just try to forget that you’re eating veganaise and no matter what anyone tells you the “Buffalo Colliflower” does not taste like chicken wings.
The Real Inn: Our family friends who loaned us the Jeep recommended this place. By the way their names are Christine and Scott and they are awesome and have a awesome house in Laurel Canyon. Across the street from the beach in Malibu, right off PCH, this place is a fried food paradise. It’s an old school fisherman’s hub right by the Malibu trailer park and a defunct motel. I had chicken fingers because I don’t eat anything that swims, and even though they had a strong taste of fried shrimp, it still rocked. Definitely not the Malibu hot spot you think of but my favorite kind of place.
Lyft: Sure they have these cabs in NYC and Chicago but I really loved using it in LA. Anyone with a (newish) car and drivers license can drive so you meet a whole cast of characters while hitching pretty affordable rides. Plus it’s a great alternative to Uber and there less than ethical practices. (Literally too many links about this to post just one)
Sqirl: Everyone I know is obsessed with this place so I had to try it. Located in Silverlake, it’s a little lunch place that was apparently famous for its jams is constantly packed, serving strong coffee and fresh organic food. I had yummy shac\kshuka but should have ordered more bread. It was good, we tried to go again but the line was too long.
LACMA (LA County Museum of Art): I felt a little silly going to a museum in LA when I never take time to go to the amazing museums all over my own city but the boyfriend and Tyler were working and I felt like being a tourist (plus the Getty was closed). They have a very cool permanent collection of modernist: Picasso, Miro, Warhol, etc… as well as some interesting installations. My favorite was a light installation by James Turrell that made you feel like you were being abducted by aliens.
Waze: This app is the shit. It’s like google maps + twitter. It never lead me wrong and saved the boyfriend and I from countless fights driving around LA. Once again, this app is available all over, but people are super active on it in LA and is super helpful in such a driving heavy city.
Bottega Louie: My baby sister (the USC Freshman) wanted to go here. It was over the top but super delicious. Bonus points for every blogger ever posting photos of their beautiful desserts. Also pink himalayan sea salt shakers on every table. Plus every blogger and there mother LOVES this place.
Native: All week long I was trying to find a dress to wear to my friend’s wedding the following weekend and I stumbled into this place and found the perfect one! Right across the street from the Celebrity Center (Scientology is weird) in Franklin Heights, this little boutique is super cute and has great prices. They also gave the boyfriend and me beers while I tried on dresses.
Korean BBQ: For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the restaurant we went to and neither can Tyler. He says to look up “All you can eat Korean” on Yelp and this will be the top place. We gathered a bunch of boys and my one girlfriend and we ate all that we could plus some. I was beefed over on the plane ride home the next day.
Playa Provisions: It was my last day in the LA and we still hadn’t been to the beach so we decided to go on the way to LAX. Tyler took us to this adorable restaurant in Playa Del Carmen, everything homemade, organic and beautiful. Just across from the beach and 15 minutes away from the airport. It was the perfect goodbye meal.
We also took a little nudey photo shoot with Tyler and I may have posted a photos from it. But don’t worry, it’s super tame.
As many of you may have noticed (or at least my best friend Sarina did) I haven’t posted a single entry on Party Girl since NOVEMBER. I apologize to the handful of people who read my blog and hopefully enjoyed it every week. But first and foremost I apologize to myself, because I love this blog and the outlet of creativity is grants me. I created this space for myself, to inspire me to cook (my most favorite thing to do), socialize, share and write more. However, I let my own personal issues and pain hinder me from writing (and even cooking!). When life was too painful to be at the restaurant, I found it selfish to come home and recipe test, let alone spend the 12+ hours it takes for me to finish a post (still rifled with spelling and grammatical errors, I know). I would like to take this opportunity to explain why I fell of the face of the blogosphere and explore the future of not only this blog but my personal health and wellness.
***Warning I will be discussing “feminine” issues such as periods and lady parts below, this will not be graphic but if you’re a wimp and can’t handle that I suggest just skipping to the yummy recipe and photos at the end!
As long as I can remember I have bad menstrual cramps. As I reached my mid twenties (when I was 24 was when it really got bad) these annoying cramps started to become debilitating. The first day or two of my period I would be unable to stand let a lone go to work, lying in bed with my hot water bottle and begging my parents for some sort of painkiller because nothing over the counter worked. About a year ago, at the urging of my father, I started looking into possible causes of this pain. Fibroids? Cysts? Endometriosis? There were a bevy of treatable and non treatable diseases which could be causing the pain. But then again it could just be that I had bad cramps. I made an appointment with my sister’s gyno and the nurse practitioner gave me a clean bill of health. She recommended birth control, specifically an IUD, to help alleviate the pain. I don’t want to get too into this, but I DESPISE birth control in almost any form (not condoms though – as RV’s mom told us freshman year of college “wrap it up!)”. Since I was 16 I have been on and off numerous types of the pill and the Nuva Ring, all of which made me crazy hormonal and not the regular happy go lucky girl I like to believe I am. Furthermore, I am at a high risk for breast cancer as my mother was diagnosed before the age of 50 (and survived without losing a single strand of her beautiful blonde hair). Long story short, I refused the IUD and figured it wouldn’t be the worst thing to live in pain one day every month.
Flash forward to this past November. The pain started 10 DAYS before my period even started and lasted for my entire cycle. At that point my sister (the unofficial family doctor who was just accepted in TUFTS MEDICAL SCHOOL) was convinced me there was something wrong. She just happened to be seeing our gyno, the wonderful and super awesome Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer (if you live in NYC go see this woman or just her practice, she is rad), explained what was going on with me and got me an appointment the very next day. Dr. Ottenheimer once again suggested an IUD, which she and literally every other medical professional agreed would be my best bet to alleviate the pain. For the time being she prescribed me Vicodin and I scheduled an appointment for two weeks later and was ready for the easy fix! Oh BOY was I wrong! The insertion itself was literally the most painful thing I have ever experienced, I almost threw up waiting for the cab ride home. The intense pain subsided but for the next two weeks I had constant cramps. I couldn’t work out, I couldn’t lift anything, I could barely be on my feet long enough to help with the dinner rush at the restaurant. At this point, my doctor realized there could be something seriously wrong and recommended a pelvic pain specialist, Dr. Kenneth Levey, at Pelvic Pain New York.
Before I met with Dr. Levey I had to fill out a twenty page history form, then there was another 10 page form when I arrived at this office an hour early (as instructed) rating levels and types of pain in different areas. After about thirty minutes speaking and a quick (spectrum free!) examination, Dr. Levey diagnosed me with a early stage of endometriosis and suggested surgery as soon as possible. (What is Endometriosis? I’m still now expert but it’s basically scar tissue in your uterus that can attach itself to other organs an causes CRAZY pain)(If you’re interested in more information check out the link or leave questions in the comments!) In some cases it can cause infertility. It’s somewhat scary but extremely treatable (I’ve been trying to keep my mind off possible fertility issues because it just stresses me out). He noted my history of growing pain and my lack of relief from birth control as red lights for the disease. We schedule surgery three weeks later and after a two week recovery I’m back at work and going forward with my life! I still have to treat the disease – just because it is removed does not stop it from coming back- and am starting some hormone treatments in the coming week. If you guys are at all interested in my post surgery medical life I’d be more than happy to share but for now I think that’s enough on my medical issues.
The reason I am sharing this all with you is that this disease and all the pain, suffering and recovery has brought me to a turning point in my life – I am 27 years old (relatively) healthy girl and I need to take advantage of that! Lying around for almost three months in constant pain and then another two weeks high on Percocet made me value life and what I do with it. I didn’t have the strength to go to work most days, let alone cook elaborate meals, host parties and then blog about it! I hardly left my apartment, saw friends rarely, never went to events but watched a lot of bad television. Now that I’m on the road to recovery, I want to spend the rest of my twenties (and hopefully 30s, 40s and so on) doing things that I love! And that includes this blog! For almost four months I have let pain hinder my work life, my personal life and my hobbies. This blog makes me happy because it is an outlet for me to be creative and share thing I enjoy.
The moral of this big serious post, there are going to be some changes in my life and on this blog. Being sick, figuring out what was wrong, needing surgery and the recovering was a wake up call to start living a healthier and more active life. And I want to reflect this new lifestyle in this blog. I am eating healthier – so far I’ve cut all all processed food, eating only grain free and organic meat, whole grains, no refined sugars and dairy free as much as possible. (It’s been a month and I’ve only caved to one tiny canoli – but I’m Italian so I pretty much couldn’t resist) I’m trying to live a more organized, active and social life, and hopefully soon when my body has fully healed, work out more (I already had a private yoga session last week)! I also dyed my hair back to brown and cut my bangs back to start feeling more like myself! Furthermore, I want to spend more time doing things that I enjoy doing! Specifically, pursuing creative outlets (other than cooking) like my dorky crafts, passion for braiding and cross stitching. And I want to share these things with you! I want to post more often about more things and I hope you will enjoy them!
So to sum this all up, I’m sorry I was gone, I’m happy to be back and I hope any other ladies out there experiencing similar pain and confusion may read this post and go get some help. I thought I was super healthy with bad menstrual cramps for over two years and boy am I am glad I finally got help! Please leave any questions, support or concerns in the comment section – I’d love to start hearing from you (whoever you are!)
And just because I’ve been gone so long I’m sharing an original recipe for balsamic braised lamb shanks! Not the healthiest dish (seeing that there’s all that yummy brown sugar I’m no longer eating) but it’s a DELICIOUS recipe, that’s perfect for these last cold nights!
4 small-sh lamb shanks
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 small carrots, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs flour
1 tbs butter
2 tbs brown sugar
1 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of thyme, tied together with twine
salt & pepper
1 stick butter, melted (You can use less if you like but why?)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Liberally season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Melt butter in large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown lamb shanks on all sides, about 10 minutes all together. Transfer lamb shanks to a plate
2. Add chopped carrots, onions and celery (aka your mirepoix if you wanna get fancy) to dutch oven and sautee, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown , about 6 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined, 2-3 minutes.
3. Stir in wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, then add lamb shanks with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.
4. Add all herbs to pot. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
5. In a large bowl lightly mix together cornbread, pancetta, chopped sage and half of the melted butter.
6. Cook until lamb shanks are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours.
Serve with mashed potatoes. Really, whenever you braise something, it should be served with mashed potatoes.
You can transfer shanks to a serving dish and strain braising liquid and serve on the side. Or serve it “rustic” aka lazy style in your dutch oven and let everyone dig in!
AND JUST BECAUSE I WAS GONE SO LONG – HERE’S WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO LATELY SLASH SOME NOT TOO GROSS SURGERY PHOTOS
This past weekend my besties and I had a long overdue girls weekend. Back in our care free early twenties we would take girl trips all the time – rotating between friends and friends of friends country homes during winter but mostly summer for weekends away. In August we’d always go to Alie’s beach house, Memorial Day was usually the Hamptons, we’d spend cold winter nights in the Hudson Valley or go admire the changing leaves in the Catskills during peak fall. We’d always drink, take silly photos, play bored games, craft and cook a lot! Sadly, these girls trips have dwindled due to the fact the fact that we’re all GROWING UP and have significantly less free time. In the past year alone my friends have: produced television series and an award winning film, sold out two art shows, started business school, published books and one has traveled around the world at least three times. We are also spread across four different cities on three different continents. Add boyfriends and pets (ok just Misses Loretta) to that – getting together is difficult and rare! We try to do monthly (more like bi-monthly) brunches but when one of our expats returned home for a two months stint, it was clear a girls weekend was required!
This coming weekend I have VERY big plans to roast a lamb in honor of mine and my friend Pete’s birthday. But before I blog about my upcoming roast I wanted to share some photos from my past roasts. PIG roasts that is! I have been lucky enough to host not one but TWO pigs roasts in my life time, all thanks to my bestie Spencer (as you may remember from earlier Party Pirls posts) and his loving parents (who just happen to be my unofficial god-parents) Marsha and Steven, who donated their lovely home and yard for the festivities.
Hopefully by now you’ve all realized what I mean when I call myself a “party girl”. This blog is more about my adventures in dinner parties and fun gatherings than social escapades around NYC. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be the ULTIMATE party girl – I went out at least 5 nights a week – to bars, warehouse parties, you name it. These nights usually included at least four vodka sodas with a splash of lime juice (VodSoLime) and dancing until the sun came up (bonus points if they played “Party In the USA“). In fact, the name “Party Girl’s Perspective” was thought up (by yours truly) after a drunken evening debate. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but I interjected with my own opinion, stating firmly, “Well, from a party girl’s perspective…” and my friends never let me live it down. I pretty much was the MOST FUN.
I even threw my fair share of (if I may say so myself) EPIC house parties (back in the day when I lived with three boys and our house was in a constant state of trashed). Even though I now live with FOUR boys (a little misses dog) my house tends to stay in a state of relative cleanliness and I hardly ever “rage”. Though some of my favorite party spots have shuddered their doors (RIP OG Coco66, Paris London New York, and my very first apartment 541 Lorimer – which is now an AirBnb Hostel that YOU can actually stay in), the downfall of my party girl ways had way more to do with owning my own business, in particular my own bar. After working five to six days a week, serving drinks, the last thing I want to do is go out drinking after a ten hour shift (though, strangely this doesn’t have the same effect on my desire to cook in correlation to running a restaurant, TG).
Now a days, I still enjoy a good evening out (though the boyfriend and my friends would agree that I should probably go out more) but I definitely no longer hold a “Party Girl” title. In fact, just last month, I was out and about on a Saturday night (at Call Box Lounge to be exact – I highly recommend you check out their website, by the way), when my good friend saw me and freaked out “OH MY GOD, you’re actually out! You never come out!”. She was totally right (and I was totally sober). SO when my roommate Al and his bandmate Taka wanted to throw a house party their band could play (it might have been just a little bit of my idea too) I was TOTALLY DOWN. We had only thrown two house parties since we moved in last August and it was time for me to show off the other spectrum (e.i. a RAGER) of my party planning abilities! Continue reading
To follow up on my last post, this one’s all about the day I made the boyfriend take me (and Misses Loretta the dog) to the beach! The boyfriend isn’t the biggest fan of the beach (even though he grew up in a beach town) and neither is Misses (which is mostly my fault for capsizing a canoe while I was holding her when she was just 3 months old and forever traumatizing her). Me, however, I LOVE the beach. I love swimming in the ocean, I love tanning, I love picnics! Beach over pool any day. I had only been to the beach twice all summer (once at the boyfriend’s little beach town, sans the boyfriend, and then once when we were in Cape Cod), so I was SUPER PUMPED to spend a day lounging by the sea before the summer ended. Continue reading
This past Sunday the boyfriend and I had tentative plans to join some friend’s out on Shelter Island. But after driving to and from the Hamptons the day before for work the boyfriend just wasn’t up for it. Though I was slightly bummed, I understood his plight (especially since I’m a big unlicensed 26 year old loser), I got over it (though forced him to take me to the beach the very next day). He made up for it by bringing me to my favorite Sunday shopping spots: The Cooper Park Farmers Market and The Meat Hook! We bought way too much food for just the two of us (mostly tomatoes) and prepared a decadent dinner. Luckily, I ran into my oldest friend, Spencer, while running out for some pink wine and I forced him to join us. As per usual we had a lovely roof top BBQ and I finally got to make SUN GOLD BUTTER. Continue reading