Sunday, October 31, 2010


This year, the Santa Monica Luskeys decided to take it easy for Halloween. The combination of my 55 hour work week with my change-in-the-weather head cold turned out to be the perfect recipe for catching up on the ole DVR instead of playing in traffic and spending waaay too much time and money on a silly an exquisite costume. Yes, we sometimes act like we're in our fifties rather than our twenties, but the thought of spending my limited free hours prepping for a costume I'll wear once somehow fell lower and lower on my priority list as Halloween approached. But I haven't always been such a bore!

Minnie Mouse & Daisy Duck
Halloween, 2008

Check out my yellow "duck bill" visor and Ally's sequined ears!

We channeled the silver screen last year:
Jennifer as Marilyn Monroe and Ally as Dancing with the Stars
Halloween, 2009

The Santa Monica Luskeys as The Biggest Loser contestants.
Brian was "before" and I was "after!"

This year, the Santa Monica Luskeys spent the weekend catching up on house chores, running errands we'd been putting off for weeks and spending some good ole quality time together. There's something about a chill in the air that reminds me of Ann Arbor and instantly transports me to the early days in our relationship. I somehow feel younger, more carefree, a little excited about the change that the weather represents and, believe it or not, a little more in love.

So even though we didn't dress up for Halloween this year, we were definitely a husband and wife reliving the days when we met and fell in love so many years ago. Thankfully, that doesn't require a costume!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today was the first (quarterly) 200 SOUTH BAKE-OFF! Since I was the official organizer, I mandated a non-compete policy. "No judging, only indulging!" Above are some of my co-workers gathering around the treats. Today's theme: favorite homemade childhood treat.

I brought the Hello Dollys pictured above.
These were my all time favorite growing up and still are!

Sweet Melissa whippin' up a fresh batch of whip cream!

Mel's decadent flourless chocolate cake and whipped cream!

Not too shabby for our first Bake-Off!
And yes, those are "Dirt Cups" with a worm garnish.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whitney's Wonderful Wedding Weekend

This past weekend, the Santa Monica Luskeys were in Dallas for a very special occasion -Whitney and Chris's wedding weekend! (And since I took so many pictures I want to share, I will try to limit this post to pictures and detailed captions.)

We flew into Dallas Friday morning and after my cousin, Mac, picked us up from the airport (and we stopped at Chick-Fil-A for an afternoon snack), we checked into the hotel where we received the above (homemade by the bride and groom) chocolates and itinerary! A fabulous way kick off the weekend!
The rehearsal dinner was so fun - an intimate evening of close friends, family and out of town guests full of heartfelt speeches and fabulous food! The above picture was snapped before we entered the restaurant for the cocktail hour.
The above picture was clearly taken after the cocktail hour had begun. My siblings with our cousin Natalie (who is married to the bride's brother).
Natalie, Brian, Whitney (the bride!!) and me during the cocktail hour.
Our menu and place card -
both designed by our beautiful and talented cousin, Natalie!
The above picture is an example of what I might
look like if I was a cartoon character without a nose.

Sunday morning was the pre-wedding brunch. The bride was present for the first hour and the groom, the second. Good thing we made it on the bride's way out! I blame the time difference...
What else would a die hard Cowboys fan do on his one day in Dallas? The tours were sold out, but we did get a great view of the parking lot, lobby and gift shop!
What else does one do when you've already driven 20 minutes out of the way? Drive another 20! We went to visit Luskey's Western Store and it was fantastic.
The *Original* Luskey Brothers
This picture is hanging in the main room of Luskey's.
I thought this sign was pretty hilarious.
I love my Dad.

The wedding ceremony was absolutely breathtaking. Whitney's dress was stunning, she looked perfect and all twelve of her bridesmaids were glowing. It was such a special day, we felt so lucky to witness it all! We took the above picture on the way into the reception.
I love this idea!
The entry table featured wedding portraits of the parents and grandparents of the bride and groom. (My Mimi and Grandaddy's wedding picture is the second one from the left.)
The Groom's Cake:
A replica of Chris's family ranch where the couple got engaged!
The Wedding Cake:
It was as delicious as it was beautiful.
Each layer was a different flavor!
The bride and groom were so adorable. Whitney is such a doll and Chris was the smiliest groom I think I've ever seen. It was such a treat to see how excited and happy they were.
The first dance!
So the band started singing Proud Mary and to get the guests involved, the lead singer (far left) came into the crowd. She held out the microphone for some audience participation and Jamie stepped forward to belt out, "Rollin'! Rollin'! Rollin' on a riv-ah!" Little did she know, Jamie was could actually sing and two choruses and a verse later Jamie was an official member of the band - no really, they made an announcement and the crowd went wild. I think someone caught this on their video camera, so stay tuned for a video post ASAP.
The bouquet toss was precious. Whitney turned around and floated the flowers to her younger sister, Leigh. The below picture was their father's reaction.

After brunch with the Harbergs and Berens, Grandma Rosalie (pictured above), Drew, and Carla & Michael and we went estate sale shopping. This is Grandma sitting in the "Shofar Chair."
After the estate sale and a visit at Grandma's apartment, Drew, Brian and I walked around Uptown before it was time to head to the airport. We did some window shopping and refueled with some fro-yo and on the way to the car I snapped the above picture. Only in Texas...

Whitney's wedding weekend was wonderful. (Say that 3 times fast.) Thank you, Whitney & Chris for including us in your wedding. We love you!

Breakfast of Champions

The Santa Monica Luskeys began a new session of bootcamp last week! This is our third bootcamp in LA to experience and so far, so good. We started bootcamp (Bootcamp LA) the summer of our wedding and then took about a year off before re-enlisting. We loved that bootcamp and our trainers, but once we moved to Santa Monica, the process of waking up that much earlier to be in West Hollywood by 6:00am proved impossible. About six months ago we did another bootcamp (Sonke Fitness) which was conveniently located on the middle school track across the street of our apartment, but I didn't enjoy how Sonke made everything a competition. What's wrong with personal best? This new bootcamp (Tiger Fitness) is very different from our previous bootcamps, but fun nonetheless. I knew I liked it on the first day when the trainer said things like "do your best" and "listen to your body."

This morning, after bootcamp, the Santa Monica Luskeys enjoyed a delicious and protein-rich breakfast of scrambled eggs (2 whole eggs + egg white split between the 2 of us) and half (each) of a whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter, (Trader Joe's organic, unsalted, crunchy) sliced banana and farmer's market honey.

Breakfast of Champions! GO TEAM!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grandma in LA!

October has been a busy and exciting month for the Santa Monica Luskeys - hence our blogging delinquency - but we are happy to report the events that kept us from blogging were all wonderful times with family!

I am also proud to report that Grandma (Mallory Robinson) made her triumphant return to the greater Los Angeles area (after swearing off visiting "The Golden State" after a fall resulting in a broken wrist 11 years ago) and the Santa Monica Luskeys were the sole reason for her visit!

The vacation (for Grandma, stay-cation for us) began Thursday evening at Nate 'N Al's - as all good vacations do - with a Westwood on Rye, side of House dressing, a bowl of mushroom barley soup and a tortilla brei. Over dinner we thanked Grandma for her two year anniversary gift that she and Mimi had given to us (a maid service!) and it was uncovered that the Santa Monica Luskeys did not have the proper cleaning supplies for said service. Well, as you can imagine, that would not suffice!

Friday morning Grandma and I spent several hours searching for the perfect cleaning ammo. We filled a bucket with every item a housekeeper could ever dream of - and some. After our morning hunt, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Mecca Trader Joe's! Grandma is a huge fan of Trader Joe's tuna fish so I had to snap the below picture for posterity.
Even though I've been to Trader Joe's 1.7 million times, I still feel like a three year old in a pretend grocery store the minute I walk through the automatic door. Every item is Trader Joe's brand (or Trader Jose, Trader Giotto, Trader Ming, etc.) and most are cleverly packaged versions of national brand best sellers. Brian joined us for a light Italian lunch at Fritto Misto followed by some more shopping and a visit to (Aunt) Tracy's friend's (Diana & Steve) home for a tour and afternoon chat! The weather was unfortunately and uncharacteristically lousy so (of course) the drivers were even more terrible than usual resulting in more time spent in the car between errands. This gave Grandma and I more time to visit which I know we both loved.

Friday evening we dined at Rustic Canyon. Grandma, Tracy, Daniel Lack, Steve & Diana and the Santa Monica Luskeys enjoyed a family style dinner of sustainable and organic deliciousness. I didn't take any pictures of our food because (a) the lighting was very low in the restaurant and (b) the food was devoured within 30 seconds of it being set on our table. But trust me, it was equally delicious and beautiful.

Saturday morning we brunched at FIG, since Grandma was staying at the Fairmont, and, as always, it was fantastic. Grandma got the 2 eggs, bacon and toast, I ordered the house cured salmon plate, Brian opted for the chilaquiles and Daniel enjoyed the corn beef hash. Saturday afternoon was devoted to walking/shopping the Third Street Promenade, Farmer's Market and Santa Monica Place. Although it sprinkled, we had a great day just being together.

Gorgeous berries from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Grandma takes each grandchild to DC for their 10th birthday.
This is what I imagine Brian's trip with Grandma
would have looked like if he had been born her grandchild.

We couldn't resist taking a picture in front of this beautiful bougainvillea!

Saturday evening the four of us (Brian, Grandma, Tracy and I) dined at The Tasting Kitchen in Venice. We shared great food, good company and sang Happy Birthday to Grandma for the second time on trip.

Apple Cider Wings, Garlic & Sage Fries and Heirloom & Buratta Salad

We love entertaining visitors, especially when they are as gracious and generous as Grandma and Tracy were. We are so thankful to not only have the people we love see our neck of the woods, but to have such an awesome neck of the woods to show off!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010



The above gems are two little grapes all dressed up for Halloween. My co-workers found the one on the right (a gigantic grape measuring 1.5" tall) and his little side-kick and decided today would be the perfect day to start celebrating All Hallows Eve!

It's moments like these that make the long hours totally worth it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

May I have another piece of paper, please?

Growing up, I was the little girl who always asked for another piece of paper. If it wasn't perfect, I wanted a re-do. This hasn't changed in my adulthood. I like things to be perfect (my version of perfect, anyway) and have a hard time shaking it off when things aren't exactly how I hope/plan for them to be. I have an all-or-nothing personality, so I'd rather not do or try than not finish or fail.

My cousin, fellow blogger, and Mommy-to-be, Jenny, describes herself in the following way:

"I hate having nothing to do…so become overambitious and end up with way too much to do which makes me want to be lazy. Love to decorate, but never have the money. I love fashion forward trends, but usually dress classic. I love to cook, but it has to be easy. I always want to do some type of craft project, but never know where to start. I love making money, and spending it. I love reading, but only if it takes me to a far off land. I love the feeling after working out, but don’t always get to the gym. Love my husband of 2 ½ years. Love my two pups. Love my life."

Don't think I could have said it better myself! I relate so much to the way she explains life's yin and yang. I, too, hate the feeling of not having projects or exciting opportunities on the horizon, so I think of various business ventures to occupy my time and then don't have enough time to give any of them the attention I feel they deserve. I love change and updating our home, but know there is value in routine and consistency (in addition to saving the money). I always have brilliant ideas for recovering chairs, or making adorable signs for babies or decorating pumpkins, but honestly have a hard time seeing each project through to the end because of the pressure I put on myself for each project to be perfect. I love working - especially when I'm working hard and that hard work is being appreciated - and love to be able to spend (on myself, on Brian or on our home) knowing I worked hard for that money. I never loved reading at as child, but am finally learning to love the escape. I love books that make me feel, that's my only requirement. I love working out, but going back to the whole all or nothing personality flaw thingy, don't always get to the good ole gym. I love my husband - more each day. I wish we had a dog, but can wait for that. And yes, life is good.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fantasy Basketball Brings a Family Together

Before the other half of the Santa Monica Luskeys gets ahead of himself, let me clarify the title of this blog post. IF fantasy basketball must be a part of our marriage (and being married to Brian means it will not only be a third party, but an active participant) then it might as well also bring us closer to family. And for the past two years it has!

This past weekend, Brian's fantasy basketball draft took place at Fox Creek Ranch, the Harberg family ranch located an hour and a half north of Houston. This means the Santa Monica Luskeys (along with eleven of Brian's fellow league managers) flew into Houston Thursday night for a weekend of fun. Since ladies are not invited encouraged to attend the draft, I had a welcomed weekend with my family in Houston.

Friday I got to spend the morning and early afternoon with my Mom. We had lunch at Island Smoothie & Juice Bar and enjoyed their delicious salmon salads and then looked as some gorgeous real estate. (Work for my Mom, daydreaming time for yours truly.) Friday evening we all attended My Table Magazine's 26th annual Caesar Salad Competition. After dinner we enjoyed some delicious, fall inspired desserts at my cousin, Erica's new apartment. It is so cute and grown up - am I old enough for her to be in law school?!

Check out some of the stations from the Caesar Salad Competition:

The above "Food Truck" was the winner of the
Best Creative Salad & Best Presentation awards!

A family favorite: Ouisie's Table caesar salad
toasts with crab and deviled eggs!

Not the most delicious, but certainly creative!
(Ceasar salad panna cotta over greens served on a parmesan crisp.)

Saturday I received a makeup lesson by the fabulous Donna Abate (who applied my makeup for not only my sixth birthday glamour shots party, but also our wedding) and then met one of my oldest and dearest friends (and bridesmaid) Esther for brunch at Kenny & Ziggy's. Esther invited me to join her later that afternoon to look at bridal gowns and I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity! That evening, Michael and I met up with Mimi and Grandma for dinner and a show at Stages.

Michael's dinner & show dates!
(photo credit: Michael A. Harberg)

Sunday morning Michael, (aunt) Tracy and I went to brunch at an oldie, but a goodie - Fountain View Cafe. Although it took an hour to get our food, the weather was spectacular and, thanks to my catlike reflexes, we were able to snag a table outside!

That afternoon, Brian came back from the ranch and Mom & Dad returned from New Orleans (they had gone to New Orleans for 24 hours for a wedding) all around 2:00pm. We had lupper (late lunch, early supper) including caprese salad and a veggie lasagna featuring basil from my Mom's garden!

Some herbs from Mom's garden!

This basil is out of control!

Brian always accuses me of only wanting to move to Houston after a long weekend there. I argue that I always want to be close to my family and am doing my darnedest to get back as soon as humanly possible. We're inching our way back, but in the meantime enjoying life 14 blocks from the beach!