Sunday, January 19, 2014

Brunch 01.12.2014 - First Brunch of the New Year, N'awlins Style

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, Anaheim

Hello Kittens!  And Happy Sunday!

I hope you enjoyed your weekend and I hope it involved Brunch.  While Brunch was not part of my weekend, I did enjoy my first Brunch of 2014 last weekend with my very fabulous lady, Stephanie, and her little lady-in-training, Avabella.  Stephanie selected Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen as our location, so I headed to Downtown Disney and fought the nightmare of the parking lots for 25 minutes, knowing that there was not only a light, but a fabulous Brunch with fabulous ladies, at the end of the tunnel. 

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Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, while part of the hustle and bustle just outside the gates of Disneyland, is like stepping into another world.  And that world is the French Quarter.

While I have never actually visited New Orleans, I imagine it is much like this restaurant, filled with spirit, character, and fabulous, indulgent food and drink!  Open spaces, patios, wrought iron and the promise of a good time, Ralph Brennan's will make you feel welcome before you even walk through the door.

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And once you actually enter, that's when the fun really starts!  The restaurant is set up on two levels with a fabulous courtyard in the center.

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We enjoyed their fantastic N'awlins Brunch Fest, and I highly recommend you do as well!

Stephanie and I ordered mimosas and then I ordered the Bananas Foster French Toast with a side of scrambled eggs.  It was divine!

While it may not sound like much, Stephanie ordered the Pork Debris and Biscuits, which by all accounts (or just Stephanie's), was delicious!

We talked and laughed and ate and it made the parking fiasco worth it.  I would say the start to the 2014 Brunch season (which, if you were wondering, runs for 12 months) was a complete success!

If you find yourself close to Disneyland and have the patience to deal with a potentially difficult parking experience, I DEFINITELY suggest you pay Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen a visit.  This was my first time having Brunch here, but I have had dinner here twice and I can vouch for both menus!

I wish you a year of fabulous Brunching, Kittens!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

This Charming Dame Lesson 9 - Bring Yourself Flowers

"I must have flowers, always, and always."
     -Claude Monet

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What woman doesn't love getting flowers?  There are few things so simple that can brighten up your day and remind you that someone is thinking about you.  Unfortunately, while the custom of giving flowers dates back hundreds of years, a man bringing a woman flowers today is happening less and less.  (Hell, getting a man in my generation to be upfront and ask a woman out on an honest-to-goodness date as opposed to suggesting 'hanging out' is pretty rare these days.)  There are probably a myriad of reasons that the majority of men are opting to forgo bringing a lady flowers.  Many men may find it cheesy.  They may think it makes them vulnerable, not want to spend the money, or only be interested in one thing when taking someone out...  Though single women are not the only ones who don't always get flowers.

But, Ladies, there is no reason to go flower-less.  None!  I have been buying myself flowers on almost a weekly basis for years now.  Having fresh flowers should not depend on a man bringing them to you.  Yes, looking at gifted flowers can give you some butterflies, make you swoon a bit, and definitely work wonders when it comes to a man getting into your good graces, but why deprive yourself of that splash of color and the scent of fresh flowers if you aren't lucky enough to have someone in your life that understands the importance of the practice of gifting flowers?  We've all heard that we should love ourselves and date ourselves, so why not also bring ourselves flowers?

A flower arrangement as grand as the one in the first photo is something that most women simply dream about.  The smaller one below more closely resembles the size of the arrangements most of us are familiar with.  And Bette Davis proves that something a little less showy can still be pretty glam!

If you've been paying even a modicum of attention to the photos on this little blog, you may have already guessed that my flower of choice is the red rose.  Some might say that they are cliché, but I see them as classic.  Not that I don't like other types of flowers, but I always find myself drawn back to them.  And the next thing I know, they've made their way back home with me. 

Port also seems to like them.

I often remind myself that there are so many other flowers and that I should probably deviate from my floral signature every now and again, but most of the time that there are other flowers on my table it's not necessarily my own doing.  No, those instances usually coincide with the times I've been lucky enough to be the one to get the centerpiece from a wedding.  Coincidentally, that's also where many of my vases have come from.

This centerpiece from Karl and Katrina's wedding was PERFECT and still incorporated my beloved red roses!  PS - black square vase?!?!?  There was nothing that I didn't love about this.

This colorful floral trio was courtesy of Marko and Lauren's wedding.  There was something so luxe about the three arrangements of varying heights that was simply gorgeous!

A few months later, Marko's brother, Zoki married the lovely Karen and this beautiful hydrangea and cabbage centerpiece came home with me.

And how fabulous is this rounded vase??

It actually inspired me to pick up this hydrangea, lily, and rose arrangement not too long afterwards.

Port liked this as well.

The moral of this story is that not only can flowers bring beauty and sentiment to your tabletop, but they can also provide some pretty epic inspiration.

 "Perhaps I owe having become a painter to flowers."
   -Claude Monet

So the next time you pass a flower shop while you are running errands, a flower booth at the Farmers Market, or even the floral section of your grocery store, grab a bouquet and see just what flowers can do for you, beau or no!

Sometimes, Lovelies, you really should stop and smell the roses (in your own home).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Iconic Los Angeles - Encounter Restaurant at the LAX Theme Building

Hello there Lovelies!!

One of my Vintage Project Resolutions for this year was to get out and go on more field trips to iconic places in this great city of mine.  While the trip for this post took place back in 2010, I thought it was appropriate to use since we no longer have the option of going back.

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You may have heard this week that the Encounter restaurant closed on December 31 with no plans to re-open.  Encounter, located in the iconic Theme Building at LAX, opened in 1997.  While the restaurant had not garnered iconic status prior to its closing, the Theme Building, which opened in 1961, most certainly has.  It was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument no.570 in 1993.

The Theme Building is undoubtedly the most recognizable aspect of Los Angeles International Airport, second only to the LAX Pylons that were installed in 2000 as the public art component of the LAX Gateway Enhancement project.  I truly LOVE the series of 26 steel and translucent glass pylons that range from 25 feet to 100 feet high depending on their location, but no matter how long they stand or how much a part of the airport's aesthetic they become, they will never surpass the Theme Building.  While this post is not about this lighted art installation, a nod is most definitely warranted.

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So, Encounter...

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Ah, Encounter...I'm so sad to see it go, it was SO perfect in this space!  The Theme Building was built to resemble a flying saucer that had landed in the middle of the airport.  (It was built in this spot as a tribute to the 1959 plans for the airport in the incarnation that we know it today.  That 1959 plan had all the terminals and parking structures connected to a large central glass dome that would have been where the Theme Building is now.  I can't say that I'm unhappy they decided to go another route...I think it would have been pretty terrible.)

The building had gone through a few upgrades over the years to keep the Mid-Century modern space-aged aesthetic fresh and it was absolutely fantastic!  The attention to detail was pretty spectacular - starting with the elevator.  Best. Elevator. Ever. Period.

The elevator's design concept could very well be original.  While it looked cool, nothing compared to what happened when it started moving!  Also fun?  Getting into the elevator and watching people who had obviously never been there before react once all the fun started.  Everyone jumps on their first ride!

And once upstairs, the restaurant looked like something straight out of The Jetsons!

Perhaps my favorite photo from our visit!  View of the LAX pylons.
 Starting with a martini was never so much fun!

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Beyond the kitsch factor, the food here was amazing!  I had a salad and probably the best mushroom ravioli I'd ever had in my life (and I've sampled quite a few)!

Couple the fantastic food with fantastic company, fantastic drinks, and fantastic views and there was no way this would become an unmemorable night!

I'm so glad that I have this visit to look back on and also a second visit when a friend of mine and her husband's flight was delayed and we didn't realize until we were en route to the airport.  Which meant cocktails at Encounter to pass the time!

The restaurant is stationary, but there are contradictory reports about whether or not the restaurant was originally designed to slowly rotate, giving diners a 360 degree view of the airport and the surrounding areas.  Some sources claim that the restaurant did, in fact, rotate when it first opened, but that repairs were too expensive, so that stopped once it first broke down, which was almost immediately.  And others claim it never actually rotated, but I chose to believe that the first groups of diners were able to dine in a rotating restaurant.  How fabulous that must have been!!

While doing a little fact checking, I discovered that the observation deck above the restaurant reopened a few years back after being closed down after 9/11.  Perhaps one Saturday or Sunday, I will swing by LAX and pay the Theme Building another visit to check out the view and try to get an idea as to what's in store for this iconic restaurant space.

Let's raise a glass to Encounter and all the zany, futuristic, retro fun it provided for so many people during what normally would have been a pretty uneventful layover!  I hope you all had the opportunity to stop in for dinner or cocktails before they closed their doors.  Good bye Encounter, you will be missed!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014 Vintage Project Resolutions

Happy New Year Lovelies!

I hope the first few days of this new year have been fabulous for everyone - that the New Year's Eve merriment and optimism did not end once 2014 officially arrived.

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As I look back at 2013, I am incredibly proud that, while many of my resolutions fell by the wayside, I was successful when it came to The Vintage Project!  I stuck with my little corner of the blogosphere - the thing that has brought us together, given me something other than work to stress out about, provided me with a creative outlet, and allowed me to write again.  It's been lovely!  And it's one of the few New Year's Resolutions that I've EVER made that I've stuck with the whole year through.  Kudos, Melinda!

As a rule, I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions.  I feel like they ultimately set people up for failure.  This could have a lot to do with the fact that most resolutions are the polar opposite of what people do every day leading up to January 1.  How can you resolve to start working out every day when you haven't done so once in the last five years?  Or cut out all carbs when you think fresh baked bread with real butter is one of the best things that has every happened (you're SO not alone if you're of that opinion)?  Wanting to better yourself in the new year is fantastic, but you have to be smart about it so that your resolutions don't result in self-loathing and end up causing you to do more of the things that you are trying to avoid altogether.  Because seriously, when your resolution is to cut out sweets altogether and then one night, you have one glass of wine too many, give into temptation, and have some decadent chocolatey goodness, chances are you're going to feel terrible about yourself and have three times as much as you normally would because you feel like a failure for blowing your resolution.  I think we've all been there.  Tragic, but true...

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So, after preaching of the evils of New Year's Resolutions, I made a few attainable resolutions of my own.  For this little blog, for you, and for the glam of vintage that I have been striving to incorporate more of into my life.  This year, I resolve to:

1.  Take at least one Old Hollywood adventure each month.
2.  Research, adopt, and post at least one 'This Charming Dame' post each month.
3.  Stay on top of the Book Club and Film School selections (those REALLY fell apart late in 2013).
4.  Make more clean recipes instead of simply pinning them.
5.  Have more Brunch!
6.  Find the right balance of work and play, productivity and relaxation in day to day life as well as The Vintage Project!

There are a few other things that I will be working towards this year, but like my blog resolutions, I'm intentionally structuring them so that they are attainable instead of simply being a list of pipe dreams.  For once, I feel like I'm NOT setting myself up to fail and I'm excited about trying something different this time around!

How about you, Lovelies?  Did you prepare a list of strict resolutions?  Or are you cutting yourself a break this year as well?  Whatever route you decided on, I wish you luck!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's Celebrate!!

Happy New Year Lovelies and Happy First Anniversary to The Vintage Project!

Here's to a fabulous 2014 filled with love, laughter, adventure, sparklers, and lots of vintage.  I'm looking forward to what the upcoming year has in store for all of us!

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