Fit, Fierce and Female

This photo, ladies and gentlemen, is the embodiment of who I strive to be: fit, fierce, and female.  I came across it while reading an article on Gun Nuts Media (via Girl's Guide to Guns) titled Competence is Sexy, which explores the trending fitness meme strong is the new skinny.  An idea with which I agree.

After all, I am not skinny ... but I am fit, and can kick ass both in a CrossFit class and at the range.  I'm proud of that.

The woman in this picture is impressively fit professional writer, editor, and social media consultant Shelley Rae.  I am drawn to her photo both aesthetically (this is literally what I wear to the range, including that exact pink hat), and idealistically: here is a strong, fit female who not only exudes competence (read her work), but fiercely owns her femaleness.  She's a girl who likes guns ... and heels.  Kindred.

Curiously, in the GNM article comments and beyond, I've come across some concern, even bitterness, about celebrating attractive women who excel at this sport, or highlighting their existence to attract more gun enthusiasts or consumers — but I couldn't disagree more.  I am one of these women, and I might have explored the sport sooner if I'd known there were more fit females like Shelley with whom to identify.

Thing is, while most people alight with surprise when they learn I can hit center thoracic from a thigh holster in .88 seconds at 5-7 yards, there are those who react with something close to distaste — a pretty girl isn't supposed to be able to do that, much less want to.  That's just crap.  Why should my demographic be a legitimate point of concern?  In fact, why are we even having this conversation?

If images like the one above, or blogs like mine, can take some fear out of the idea of responsible firearms training ... "If that girl can do it, so can I!" ... and they encourage more people to accept the fact that fit, strong females are to be applauded, then bring 'em on.  And hallelujah.

(A Healthy) Breakfast is Everything

Lest you all think I only know how to consume syrup-soaked carbohydrates and bacon for breakfast (not that I mind the stereotype), this post is intended to share two truths: 1) a healthy breakfast can be both possible and tasty, and 2) you can also eat really well without leaving the valley.

Just yesterday I took my good friend Tim, visiting from NYC, to BeaBea's Cafe in Burbank.  Like me, he was delighted to discover this unassuming, tucked away little cafe in a strip mall, first introduced to me by my beautiful friend Namrata — in fact, he wished he'd known about it while he'd been living in Burbank himself.

I chose BeaBea's both for its locale (yes, I'm a valley girl) and its wealth of indulgent and healthy options.  We sat outside on our gorgeous California morning (get there early or you'll wait), and both started with the House Latte — a glorious blend of milk, honey & cinnamon, served in a vast wide mug that should be mandatory when serving anything this foamy and delicious.

Then, instead of diving into a plate of their ridiculously decadent griddle items — like the Banana Bliss Pancakes or Oh Em Gee French Toast (made with sweet Hawaiian bread and cinnamon honey butter) — we chose the BeaBea's Omelette, a perfect blend of egg whites, spinach, garlic, asparagus, jalapenos, broccoli, avocado, Boursin and mozzarella cheeses.  Instead of potatoes, we opted for tomato slices and fruit.  After all, the eggs were the star: creamy, light, full of well-seasoned veggies.  It was a want to meal, not a have to, and that's critical when trying to eat healthy.

Blu Jam Cafe, greasy spoon food ... I love you.  But I'm stepping out on you for my own good.

A Badass Brunch

Much as I love serving a great traditional brunch with glorious food and company, sometimes it's fun to invite people over for something a little unexpected ... a gun-themed brunch complete with .357 magnum fried eggs and pancakes, fresh-squeezed orange juice served in 12 gauge shot glasses, and spicy bloody marys chilled with pistol-shaped ice cubes (or AK-47 bullets, if you like).

I mean, come on, anybody can make french toast, right?  I'm not big on fussy tablescapes or decor, but this idea is simple and fun — and someone is bound to steal the idea.

As for pulling it off, you'd be amazed by the ridiculously fun things you can find for sale on Amazon, most of them inexpensive.  You can pick up the gun-shaped egg fryer, the 12 gauge shot glasses and the gun-shaped ice cube tray all for less than thirty bucks.  A true FMF deuce.  :)

Love This Look: Nautical Chic

I love fashion.  And shopping.  And designing.  So naturally, pulling an outfit together is one of my top hobbies.  That said, I'm also a big fan of making life simple and drawing from inspiration ... and there is no better inspirational fashion tool, I believe, than the LOOKS feature on, where I can not only create my own looks, but also follow and shop looks created by other brilliant fashionistas.

At the moment I am crazy nuts about this look — navy and neutral is utterly hot, and the whimsical nautical jewelry is both clever and fun.  Can you stand the shoes?  Ridiculously chic.  The best thing?  Click on the spread to explore this look yourself, buy individual items, or just use the spread as inspiration to modify, create and/or shop a similar look that fits your own shape and budget.

By the way ... be on the lookout for my own collection of FMF Looks, coming soon to a blog near you.  (Obsession #703984588...)

Simple Supper & Peach Cobbler

Simple food, well prepared.  It's really as easy as that.  Yes, I like my complicated French food and 25-ingredient dishes, and will happily prepare them.  But this past Sunday, my friend Tony and I kept it simple, taking our inspiration from the garden.  Tomatoes, peaches, a charcoal grill ... doesn't get any better.

For dinner: carne asada.  Steak and chicken in a simple marinade from the grocery store (yep, we're gonna own that one), kicked up with homemade salsa verde and guacamole made fresh with yumminess from the garden.  Tip: a little smoked paprika on top of fresh guacamole will change your life.

Sweet onions grilled with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, baked tortilla chips, crema Mexicana, and a glass of champagne put it over the top.  Seriously, you don't have to fuss to eat well.

For dessert: fresh peach cobbler.  This back yard is overrun with fruit trees, and since it's a constant battle with the squirrels to get the best of the best, it was up to me to whip up dessert from the horde that was harvested.  Luckily, I have a simple recipe that made the second course as effortless as the first.

Weeknight Shenanigans

I adore the privileges that come with being an American, but I do not care for the very American habit of waiting to fully celebrate friends, family and life primarily on the weekends.  Too many of us dedicate our work week almost entirely to our practical and professional lives, collapsing in the evenings, and then try to cram five days worth of merriment into two.  It's nuts.

TUESDAY: Dos Equis, Dogs and the Dodgers @ Dodger Stadium.
Having a terrific meal (outside a wonderful sit-down family dinner), a late-night adventure, a fabulous cocktail, or a cultured event shouldn't be relegated to the weekends.  Period.  One of my 2012 resolutions has been to widen my social net and calendar to include not only new people, and also new times.  I can promise you, when you make the time and effort to expand your personal experiences, and take advantage of MTWTF to do it, suddenly the world seems bigger.  More seems possible ... because it is.

This is just a sample of things I've done recently, all during the week.  I confess up front that being child free allows greatly for this flexibility ... and so to my fellow munchkinless peeps, I say you have no excuses.

WEDNESDAY: Art auction and appetizers @ Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in Hollywood.

Traveling Through Food: Ethiopia

In a perfect world, I would be bi-coastal, living and eating in both Los Angeles and New York, and I would punctuate those moments with open-ended treks across the globe, taking my time to sample all of the incredible food the peoples of this planet have to offer.

It is not a perfect world.  But ... because I live in a cosmopolitan mecca where the peoples of the planet flock, I am lucky to enjoy the perfect compromise of traveling through my food.  India.  Italy.  Thailand.  Peru.  Some of my most memorable meals have been ethnic — a new spice, a new texture, a new dish.  It's like Christmas morning.  A true exploration for me.  And the hotter the better.

MERKATO EHTIPIAN RESTAURANT: Chicken Doro Wot and Vegetable Combination Plate.
A favorite adventure has been my culinary trip to Ethiopia, via (conveniently enough) Little Ethiopia, which runs along Fairfax in the heart of Los Angeles.  Full of heat and spice, yet also delicate and nuanced (like Merkato's Chicken Doro wot and buttered cabbage, respectively), Ethiopian food is a tactile experience, built around a tangy, spongy flat bread called injera.  It is truly unlike anything I've ever had in other cuisines — which made me love it instantly.

Most dishes are served atop this crepe-esque bread, which gorgeously soaks up the various sauces and flavors, and instead of utensils, you are served a separate plate of injera, rolled up and piled high.  With it, you scoop up the various lentils, stews, vegetables and salsas.  It's remarkably fun, interactive, and delicious.  I'm not gonna lie ... I'm obsessed with scooping up the juice-soaked injera after I've polished off the vibrant tomato salsa and licking it off my fingers.  Anything that lets you do that in public is just freakin' awesome.

Though the dishes may look similar (even unremarkable), the differences between a beef stew and a simmered pork dish are quite distinct.  The depth of flavor in the spice mixtures is just unmatched — the combination of ginger, garlic and peppers makes even vegetables stand up to entree status.  Add a good Ethiopian beer like Hakim Stout, also unique in its flavor, and any Ethiopian meal will truly transport you to a place and a culture to which most have little ready access.

My favorites?  Almost anything at Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant, followed by Messob, across the street.  The Doro Wot (a long-simmered chicken and pepper stew) at Messob was superior to Merkato, but the lentils and vegetables at Merkato made me want to cry.  I have yet to try Meals by Genet, which I am told has the best Doro Wot in Los Angeles.  That's my next culinary trip ... and happily all I have to do is drive over the hill to get there.

LEGOs, Instructions and Guns, Oh My!

To me, the point of firearm ownership is split between the practicality of having a skill and familiarity with weapons, and the sheer joy of being a badass chick who can blow shit up.  That said, the big kid in me gets a huge kick out of this:

Written by Jack Streat, a 17-year-old whiz kid who built his first LEGO® gun replica when he was just 13, this book offers detailed instructions on building super fun working models of the Desert Eagle handgun, an AKS-74U assault rifle, a bolt-action Lee Enfield rifle (a.k.a. Jungle Carbine), and a pump action SPAS combat shotgun.  And you can pick it up on for less than $15.

Cool, right?

Sleepless (and Sunny) in Seattle

So, I recently became obsessed with Instagram, having deliberately avoided the obsession since they first released the app for Android (I'm at capacity for obsessions).  That said, the tool is, frankly, awesome — so I am delighted to share with you my photo diary of four days in Seattle.  The best features, places, food, and moments Seattle afforded.  Click any photo to scroll through the magic.  :)

1. Downtown Seattle on the harbor — 2. The view from Jo's house — 3. A walk on the beach with Lola — 4. Driftwood on the beach in West Seattle

1. Dinner the first night ... nibbles and wine — 2. Jo's gorgeous girls (this is me and the softer side of fabulous) — 3. Nouveau Bakery — 4. Breakfast ... a pear tart

1. Dinner the second night ... seared salmon and local IPA — 2. Strolling through University Village — 3. Shopping for dinner at Pasta & Co (this scene is so very Seattle) — 4. Fresh pasta


1. Dinner the third night ... Lumaconi — 2. Pike Place Market — 3. Just a sample of the teeming flower stalls — 4 & 5. Pike Place Fish Company, where I saw a man catch a 20lb salmon — 6. The original Starbucks

A Taste of Seattle

I just got back from a blissful long weekend in Seattle, where, miraculouslyit did not rain for four straight days.  Instead, it was unseasonably warm and full of sunshine.  This lucky break made way for some gorgeously simple pleasures: mornings on the beach, days on the pier, afternoons shopping for fresh fish and produce, nights cooking with friends, and every day dining with killer views.

That long, luxurious post will soon follow — but today, I am excited to share just a taste of my weekend: my favorite home-cooked meal, prepared with two of my favorite people, elevated by both the remarkable Seattle produce and the beautiful Washington setting.  No matter your setting, of course, this is a glorious, perfectly relaxing way to spend a Saturday night with people you love.

Antipasto — As I prepped our main meal, my ever-lovely friend Jessica began prepping the first course as our friend Jo mixed her a fabulous dirty martini.  Our advice?  Keep it simple.  Marinated artichoke hearts.  Peppadews stuffed with chèvre.  Spicy sopresatta.  Blue cheese olives.  Sliced Pecorino Romano drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Crusty bread.

Developing Fashion Patience ... with DKNY

Occasionally, I have a good idea, and even more occasionally, it pays off.  Like my brilliant decision to develop my personal fashion patience — which I define as holding out on purchasing a must-have item that is out of my budget reality (probably because I've spent too much on bacon or bullets) until it goes on sale.

Now, this doesn't always work — the risk of exercising your fashion patience is that while you wait, your size, or the item itself, sells out.  But quite often, it works ... and even better, the test becomes a veritable challenge, filled with all sorts of excitement and adrenalin, as I hunt down the coordinated pieces of an entire outfit, first seen in a magazine, on a display, or coming down the runway.

Readers, I give you my current challenge: this exquisite ensemble by DKNY, originally put on shelves before the fall holidays.  Red silk blouse, super hot red paillette mini-skirt, and a ridiculously gorgeous red faux fur (the fur will likely never happen, but I can dream).

Stats — I just picked up the skirt, originally $275 at Bloomingdales, on the clearance rack at Macy's for $70.  I'm now on the hunt for the stretch silk blouse, also close to $300 originally, and I guarantee you I'll find it at Nordstrom Rack or Loehmann's if I play my cards right.

Takeaway, girls?  Don't jump the gun when the price tag startles you (I love my own humor).  In both fashion and firearms, sometimes stealth is key.

Pancakes, Manhattan Beach, and Uncle Bill

Great breakfast food + the beach = unbeatable awesomeness.  That is all.

Okay, that's not all.  In fact, I've got pictures.  Point is, there really is only one way to exceed the fantastic brunch and breakfast options you can find right here in LA (many of which I've already blogged about), and that is to head out of this city to Manhattan Beach, where the weather is perfect, the sand is flawless, and Uncle Bill is cooking bacon and cheddar cheese right into his waffles.

Remember when you were a kid (or last weekend, if you're like me), obsessed with pancakes and sugar and likely indiscriminate with how the maple syrup soaked everything on your plate, including the bacon, creating bites of sweet-salty-savory magic that to this day remain mind-altering?  Yeah.  The cheddar and bacon waffle is kind of like that.  Ridiculous.

Then, of course, there was the bacon, American cheese and onion omelette that, I kid you not, made me cry a little.  Fresh, salty, creamy ... nuts.  I was with a new friend who immediately earned my respect by first ordering something with both onions and bacon in it, and second by helping me consume said omelette, the waffle, and a stack of so-perfect-it's-stupid buttermilk pancakes.  With more syrup.  And butter...

Love, Lara Croft

Why do I love guns?  Because Lara Croft loves guns, that's why.

Fig & Olive

I often say that one of the reasons I love good food is that I love to travel ... yet a meal is typically less expensive and more accessible than many of the countries I'd like to visit.  When I have a remarkable Indian dish, I feel as if I've been to Bombay.  An incredible moo ping (my favorite Thai dish) is like a trip to Asia.

Fig & Olive Tajine.
Given that philosophy, I took a little trip to Morocco last night via Fig & Olive, a lively Mediterranean eatery on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, led brilliantly by executive chef Pascal Lorange.  It's all open spaces and warm lighting and inviting communal tables (along with cozy private seating too), and its focus is squarely on the fresh, seasonal, spectacular produce one finds in the Mediterranean ... and also happily here in California.

From the olive oil tasting plate to the Imberico ham-wrapped lobster and truffle tart, the cremini mushroom and truffle soup to the authentic-yet-feather-light Tajine, I was delighted.  And I will be back.
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