wax on, wax off

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I have a pair of strappy sandals that to put on requires a contortionist's skill. It involves sitting  down, bending over, hinging a knee sideways and pulling an extreme foot-flex move, all the while straining my optic nerves to see beyond their peripheral range to buckle the teensiest metal pin through the teensiest hole that inevitably, somehow, seals itself shut between wearings. God help anyone who tries to do this in skinny jeans and/or after a spaghetti dinner. Forget it. Reach for a slip-on.

This delightful routine came to mind recently when I thought it'd be a great idea to give myself a bikini wax. I've always felt that the self-administered pedicure sounds like a revelation until you're down there dealing with your own dirty feet. Well. Compared to the self-wax? The self-pedicure is a freaking CAKEWALK. 

Before I get into the hairy details (boo), let me give you a small history of my own hair-removal life. For a long while I patronized a salon called SMILE here in Los Angeles and I swear it was a cruel joke that all the estheticians were giant, mean, brusque, overbearing Russian women who did not heed the command of their establishment's name. Ever. It's not fun holding your legs open in a froggy position while a giant, mean, brusque, overbearing Russian woman threatens you with hot wax, periodically yelling at you to "HOLD!" or to "SPREAD!". You just alternate between states of flinching fear and searing pain until they pronounce "DONE!" or "GET OUT, BITCH!" at which point you stumble out to the lobby in a shell-shocked daze, hand over your credit card with your last nerve, and then get amnesia exactly 6 weeks later when it's time to book your next appointment.

One day the amnesia wore off and realizing the torture I was enduring, I decided to fork out serious cash for laser hair removal. Now there's a real treat. Pointed at your junk is a hot laser gun and with each blast, it feels like a million rubber bands are snapping you in the tiny square area of a Chiclet. They keep moving it, Chiclet by Chiclet, until all 1,346,912 "zones" have been "treated". (And hey! Shouldn't I be wearing protective goggles too?) All this seems like a reasonable trade-off for the promise that the hair will never come back again. But then, after the recommended 8 to 10 punishing treatments, IT DOES. And when you inquire about it they hem and haw and tell you it's all about the hair's growth cycles. And that every woman's growth cycles are unique, just like her. So even after hundreds of dollars and a gazillion evil rubber band snaps, you're left with an amorphous bikini line with several stragglers that need regular weeding. 

Enter the razor. The razor's okay and it gets definite bonus points for its cost and pain-free attributes. But you have to shave daily. And that leads to bumps and razor burn.

That's when I got this genius idea: I can wax myself! I'm nicer than a mean Russian lady. Plus, they sell provisions in every drugstore, right? Shouldn't that mean any idiot could do it?

I suppose any idiot could do it if they also happened to perform in Cirque du Soleil.

So there I was, leg up, bent over in some Kama Sutra nightmare, using this crazy kit that didn't come with any fabric strips. Yeah, that's right: you're supposed to spread on the simmering wax with the enclosed wooden spatula (that has the nuance and precision of a 2x4), and then (while your head is still between your legs), wait for a minuscule moment in time when it has the perfect softness/hardness, and then rip it off in a strip. The wax. By itself. With no aforementioned fabric strips to help yank it. For the first section, I didn't wait long enough and smeared a gloppy mess of wax that stuck where it shouldn't. And burned like Hades. For the next section, I waited too long and a Magic Shell-type situation occurred (my inner thigh being the ice cream in this analogy). I had hardened glops of plasticky wax stuck to me, ripping off skin if I tried to budge it. Luckily, the kit included some soothing blue food coloring that did a pretty decent job at dislodging the plastic wax clumps. And with periodic breaks to drain all of my body's blood supply from my head back into the lower extremities, I managed to finish. Forty-five minutes and a splitting backache later I was sporting a red, burning, swollen yet stylish bikini line.

The moral of this story? For the love of all that's good, don't try this at home. And since the professional options are no better, I say we ladies band together to bring back the giant, overgrown bush. Who's with me?


P.S. Recommended links on the subject...

What to expect at a professional Brazilian wax appointment.
Have you ever had your "pony tail" waxed? OMG.

more RC craziness: Hot and Trashy

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Tuesday, lovely people!

Crazy Things I've Seen in Runyon Canyon continues with the second installment...This time Lena Pagani is my co-star:)

In case you missed the premiere episode, here's Bikini Sandwich

I realize I'm nuts.

smoky lentil soup

Friday, July 22, 2011

I am bowled over by all the nice responses about the first Runyon Canyon video! Thanks, everyone, so much. I'm having the most fun making them and to give people a giggle makes my heart sing.  

I can't believe how empowering it is to make stuff. This blog has been that for me since I created it last fall. It gives me so much joy. After writing and cooking and snapping and shaping something I'm proud of, I still (116 posts in!) feel elation whenever I press PUBLISH at the fact that no one has the power to call me and tell me I can't do it. Or that I did a great job but they're gonna go with the brunette.  

This acting business can be kinda lonely. It ebbs and flows and often one (even with lots of credits and good representation) can go long stretches without so much as an audition. It sucks.

So to grab the reins and make little movies!? And write and sing and direct and learn how to edit them? And laugh my ass off throughout the process? Bliss!

I can't wait to release the second installment on Monday.

In the meantime, how about a nice bowl of soup? I know I've been into the soup lately and we're in the thick of summer but did you know that if you eat spicy things it'll make you sweat? Which with thereby cool you off? Bonus!

This started as a standard lentil soup recipe with some chili added. I upped the smokiness with the cumin and fire-roasted tomatoes and added the kale to sneak some greens in there.

Oh, and garlic city...

If you thinks this looks rad just wait until you smell it sauteing...

Smoky Lentil Soup
(loosely adapted from Bill Granger's Sydney Food Cookbook)
serves 8

4T butter
2T olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup sliced leeks, white part only (about 2 large leeks)
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped celery
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small red jalapeno peppers (or spicier chilis if desired), seeded and minced
2T ground cumin
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 14oz cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes (use the juice in there too)
1 cup dried lentils
4T minced fresh oregano
4 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
sea salt and pepper

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot. Saute the carrots, onion and leek til soft, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, garlic, chile and cumin and saute 5 minutes more. Add the broth, tomatoes, lentils, oregano and bay and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add the kale and simmer for 15 minutes more. Taste to make sure the lentils are tender and if not, simmer until they are. It should be done between 30-60 minutes (if your lentils are older it'll take longer). Season the soup with salt after the lentils are tender (as it can make them tough), add the parsley to heat through and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and/or parmesan cheese.


P.S.  Mom's pooch Murph was my cooking buddy:

crazy things i've seen in runyon canyon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hi Everybody:)  Remember when I mentioned I was working on some video projects???  I'm finally ready to share!  I wrote a series of (very short) videos (in which I star) about the nut-jobs I see hiking in Runyon Canyon (for those of you who don't live in LA, Runyon Canyon is an urban hiking trail where all the LA weirdos go--including me:)) The first one is up on youtube today and I plan on rolling out the rest once a week.

I hope you like it!  Won't you please check out the link and watch?  Here you go!


P.S  Major props and thanks to DP (graphics!), Shannon Stoeke (camera!) and Christopher Moynihan (music!)

cool stuff, vol. 2

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy Saturday!  I've been collecting some links for you that I love..........

Holy crap, this cake is amazing.  I can't recommend a better Birthday gift.  Or sugar coma entry point.

My new favorite foundation--like a serum and tinted moisturizer in one.  Genius.

My sweetest one-year-old niece can open an iphone.

Loving this hip-hop embroidery!

I plan on making this grilled corn tonight.

So that's how you do that cool hairline braid thingy.

Make your own body scrub.

Happy Weekend, Lovely Readers.  Have I told you lately I'm so grateful for you?


tarragon tuna salad

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I love playing what my family has dubbed "Food Games". It's when we're all together (usually eating) and I ask my captive audience questions like:

If you had to choose only 5 foods to eat for the rest of your life what would they be?


If you could never eat a certain food EVER AGAIN what would that be? What food(s) would you be willing to give up FOREVER?

At first they're like, "Really, Jolie? Again? You want to play Food Games again?"

And I'm like, "Yes! Yay! C'mon!"

There's a lot of hemming and hawing. But then everyone bends to my will. And these great, passionate conversations and discussions ensue. I love hearing the answers. You can learn so much about people by the foods they adore and detest. Isn't it interesting?? Ok. Maybe I'm just weird.  

My all-time favorite question of Food Games is:

What's your Fear Factor food? (You know, the one that makes you want to puke in a bucket and forfeit your chance to win a million dollars like those poor saps on that bad TV show Fear Factor who had to eat pig's bladders and/or still-skittering cockroaches?)

People are very passionate about their Fear Factor food.

Mine is egg salad. The fact that many people find this food delectable and actually desire it makes me shudder and dry heave. I can't even take it when someone is eating it near me. The smell? The texture?Yeek! Some people even have the nerve to bring egg salad on an airplane. That is the most selfish thing I can think of. Once, before a long road-trip with my friend Nicole, we stopped at Starbucks to get some drinks and snacks for the car. While in line, she innocently picked up an egg-salad sandwich wrapped in cellophane and without thinking I blurted, "YOU CAN'T EAT THAT IN MY CAR NEXT TO ME OR I WILL HURL!" She was like, "Okay then, psycho." and gingerly replaced it with turkey.

So you're gonna think it odd odd odd that while egg salad makes me squeamish, I can't get enough of tuna salad. I know it's just as stinky but for some reason it's thoroughly delicious to me in thought, word and deed.

My version has lots of crunch from the celery and onions. And sweet tartness from the green apples...

Add the tang of dijon and the zip of lemon...

The licorice-y minty lemony herby tarragon brings it all together...

Finish with a generous drizzle of good olive oil and sea salt and pepper and there you have it!

Tarragon Tuna Salad
serves 3 generously or 4 miserly

2  5oz. cans chunk white or solid white tuna
heaping 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
heaping 1/4 cup finely diced granny smith apple
heaping 1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 1/2 T finely chopped fresh tarragon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T dijon mustard
2 T olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Drain the tuna and use a fork to break it apart, if necessary. Combine with all ingredients and season to taste. Serve either in a sandwich or over lightly dressed greens. (I like to dress mine with a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper) Yum.

I hope you love it and it becomes one of your 5 foods:)

Yay, Food Games! 

feast your eyes on this strawberry basil cooler

Monday, July 11, 2011

Did you ever notice that eyeglass shops are crazy for a pun? Lord. These are names of actual businesses in Los Angeles: 

The Eyes Have It
Positive Eye-ons
For Your Eyes Only!
Eye Eye Captain

Ok, that last one was made up by DP. But still! Aren't they ridiculous? These punny store names have given us endless pleasure since we met 13 years ago and we're always on the lookout for more. That's somewhat ironic for me since I have an irrational fear of All Things Eye Doctor.  

In High School I went for a routine eye exam and ended up fainting from an allergic reaction to those horrible yellow dilating eyedrops. The next year, the doctor said, "Let's try them again. I think that was a bad batch because we had several people faint."  Nice, right? I promptly fainted again. So now I truly have a physiological reaction when I think about eye exams. They give me the creeps.

DP, on the other hand, is a cavalier contact wearer. He'll pop them in and out the way most people check the time. I'm simultaneously awestruck and horrified. The other day while he was driving I watched him give his left contact a spit-shine at a red light. Then to stick it back in, he did the Clockwork Orange eyelid-pull-back move with two fingers and then gently tapped his index finger to his eyeball as the light turned green. He was actually still finishing said eyeball tap as he pulled into the intersection.  

At that alarming moment it occurred to me I know nothing about the life of contact-wearers: putting them in, taking them out, how long to keep them there, hard vs. soft, daily vs. weekly...zilch.  Ok, that's not completely true. I did don them for a short stint on The X-Files because my character acquired blindness from acid-containing reptile saliva (naturally). Even then, I (thank GOD) had an experienced and brave technician administering them on set. They were thick and hand-painted (to look like the eyes of someone who had been spit on by a reptile) so they felt like little disks made of sandpaper. It was punishment. Not to mention the harrowing partial eye exam and fitting I had to endure beforehand.  The reptile ones weren't finished yet so the Hollywood Contact Man had me try on a pair of bright yellow ones. I was doing okay until he had me get up and look in the mirror. I almost passed out on the spot. To be on the brink of swooning anyway and then see yourself as a yellow-eyed cat/vampire? Horrifying. So even though I've worn contacts, my experience makes me even less understanding of how someone does this daily.

I brought this up to DP and then asked him if there was any world he knew absolutely nothing about and couldn't relate to in the slightest. He said tampons.  

"I don't know how you put them in or take them out or when and how often and what all the different types are for. It's nuts. Also? I don't need to ever know that stuff. So don't tell me."

This drink was something I knew nothing about--it wasn't on my radar until I recently went with my friend Nic to The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa in Arizona for a super girly vacation meet-up. We spent a glorious weekend spa-ing and lounging and talking about girl-only topics not unlike the world of tampons. In the spa cafe they offered this drink as a special that weekend and even at $10 a pop, we couldn't get enough. It's sweet from the berries, a little spicy from the basil, refreshing and zingy from the citrus and truly like sipping summer through a straw. So I set out to recreate it.

Strawberry Basil Cooler

serves about 4

1 heaping cup strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup basil, lightly packed
juice and zest of one lime
juice of one lemon
1-2 T agave syrup
2-3 cups sparkling water

Throw the strawberries, basil, zest, juices and agave into a blender and puree well. You can strain it at this point if the strawberry seeds bug you but I think it's fine as is. Place 1/3 cup puree into a glass and top with 2/3 cup sparking water and lots of ice. Adjust to taste--you may want a bit more puree and/or agave. Or less. Enjoy immediately and repeat throughout the summer.

Eye think you'll love it.

If Lena looks blurry you may need an eye exam.

Happy Monday:)

mexican chicken soup

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dear Readers, 
Sorry I've been such a stranger! There are seriously a lot of projects going on around here that have my attention. Writing projects, photo projects, video projects(!), half-finished crafty projects, newly begun crochet projects, projects waiting-in-the-wings...all these in the midst of summer trip gear-ups, family visits (DP's lovely mom arrives today from Connecticut!), recipe tests, auditions and dog walks.

Just yesterday, in the midst of multitasking, I stopped scribbling on post-its long enough to spend a few summery hours with Kathleeny. That is: if your idea of summer involves eating a bowl of spicy soup and crocheting tiny strings of cotton pima into placemats. I just wrote that and laughed out loud. I can think of several people for whom an afternoon doing both (or even one) of those things would be Hell on Earth. We, however, were in heaven.

We had the best conversation about our lack of exposure to spicy/adventurous food, both having grown up in the Midwest. In my house, we mostly ate in--(tuna noodle casserole, anyone?) but my dad was a salesman for a restaurant supply company so we used to accompany him to a handful of restaurants that doubled as his clients. With that exposure you think I'd have been an intrepid eater, right? Nope. I would only eat spaghetti or hamburgers, even at the one extremely exotic Mexican place we frequented. (It was so exotic that they had a cheeseburger on the menu.)

Kathleen said she couldn't recollect ever seeing salt and pepper in her house. She told me the best story about how, as a kid growing up in frigid Michigan winters, she would eat Barbecue flavored potato chips at outdoor football games because she thought they would warm her up. You know, because they're spicy. How awesome is that?

Well, I suppose we've come a long way. I'm sure moving to California (and becoming an instant vegan) halfway through my childhood forced me out of my comfort zone. It's probably also why I can't get enough Mexican food now--I really could eat it nearly every meal--those tomato/cilantro/avocado/chile flavors rock my world.

Here is a soup recipe I wrote that neither myself nor Kathleen grew up with: it contains salt and pepper, it's not a cheeseburger and it's more spicy than BBQ Lays. It's pretty ballsy to give you a recipe for soup when it's literally 90 degrees outside, but I'm risky like that. Sometimes, no matter the time of year, you just feel like some soup, don't you? This is one of my fave fave favorites that evolved over time--a standard chicken soup but with a tomatoey, limey, spicy twist. That lime juice brings it all together--it's SO tasty! Also? Super easy.

Mexican Chicken Soup
serves at least 6

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 large (or more to taste) jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock (6-7 cups)
1 15oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (mine unexpectedly had green chiles in them--so either those or plain)
4T finely chopped cilantro
juice of 1 large lime, more for serving
1 ripe avocado, diced and sprinkled with a squeeze of lime and sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet for 30-45 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Bring a soup pot (or dutch oven) to medium heat. Add 2T olive oil and saute the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, jalapeno and bay leaves for several minutes (with a good pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper) until the vegetables are soft and onions translucent. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, heat to just before a boil and simmer, partially covered, about 12-15 minutes. Add more salt if need be. It'll need be.

When the chicken is cool enough to touch, pull the meat apart with your fingers into bite-size shreds. Depending on how big your breasts are (the chicken's breasts, actually) you may not want to add all the meat. I added about 1 1/2 chicken breast's worth. Add it to the soup. Add the cilantro and lime juice too. Cook for another minute and then serve with a scoop of avocado on top and extra lime wedges on the side.

Happy 4th of July, Everyone! Hope you have a spicy Holiday weekend:)
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