The Californians

So, I spent an “awesome” week in “Marina Del Rey” with my daughter, Jordan. (Say it like the SNL skit, “The Californians” for full effect.)

We, of course, had our lists of songs, videos, movies, trailers, tweets and memes to share with one another. Pour us a couple of cocktails and the two of us are off babbling like third graders on some sort of wild, extreme show and tell.

That is what I love best about our mother daughter relationship. We get each other. We are movies and music and NFL and superheroes and pirates and comic con wanna-goes. We do not shop, but if forced to, it has to be fast. In a mall or department store, we will lose the ability to verbally communicate in about 30 minutes. We don’t pour over fashion mags or celeb rags. But, we can go into full-blown geek mode with showing each other the latest mind-blowing “Star Wars” or “Avengers” meme. We swoon over food and cocktail recipe porn on Pinterest.

Mostly, we are simply entertained by making each other laugh. That is our relationship. We don’t bicker. We laugh. We do not argue. We laugh. We do not judge each other. We simply laugh. We are in a constant celebration of the 23 years of sheer entertainment we have continued to provide each other. We are pretty damn proud of ourselves. Even when we are the only ones laughing.

There is always the perfect movie or TV line for every situation, that serves as a salve to every hardship we have ever had to encounter. Laughter is our comfort food and our favorite cocktail. Well, more like the perfect garnish to our favorite cocktail.

 

photo-9

There are those that know us and understand. There are those that know us and think we are freaks.  Jordan and I have never fought, yelled or bickered. Ever. And it is all her. She was born with the temperament of a wise, seasoned traveler. The patience she showed me, Helen Keller-ing my way into new mother hood at 23 was mind-boggling. (It would prove to serve me well with my son.)

Jordan brought out my bravery, honed my confidence and taught me that competitiveness was overrated and would bring nothing but stress and possibly Yellow Jack Fever! (I dramatize. We’re from the south and big fans of Bette Davis’ Jezebel. And Mint Juleps.)

Thank you, Jordan. We really dodged a bullet. If I hadn’t let you lead me, let you show me who YOU were, we could still be posing for pics in matching Laura Ashley dresses. (Oh, c’mon. I only it did it once. Okay, twice! But, that was it!)

This I know for sure, my girl: You KNOW who you are. And, what you are not.

Jordan has not developed an affinity for home and hearth, just yet. She’s a busy young woman making her way in the film biz in Hollywood. So I flew to “SoCal” to bring my special decorating mama magic to her newly rented apartment. Admittedly, she felt that “crack den” was not the look she was going for. She had a mattress on the floor and a large flat screen TV. Priorities.

Here are a few before and after pics. It’s not Architectural Digest, but damn. My girl feels cozy again. She said it feels like home…almost. It’s cozy for “The Ca-li-for-nians”.

I hit every vintage store and antique shop in the Santa Monica area. And, by the way, if you watched the skit above, I DID “have to take Lincoln ALL the way to Washington!” OHMYGAWD!

 

Before
Before

 

photo-8
After

 

Next week, I’ll be off to the East Coast to get Joshua set up in his first apartment in Boston. The Boy should be much easier…in theory. But, the talented, creative soul that he is bleeds into all sorts of decorating and style “opinions.” Joshua has taught me a different kind of patience. The kind you use to not be on the local news, behind the yellow tape. Still, I wouldn’t change our relationship for anything, either. We have been through some rough seas but, came out stronger and better humans because of the struggles he has had to face. Again, HIM teaching ME.

We have all read the articles, seen the TV segments that “special” is overused and has paralyzed an entire generation of kids with entitlement issues. But, I feel comfortable with my children being unique to me; they are mine. I wouldn’t trade my road for anything or change one turn, for fear it wouldn’t lead me right to this moment: Jordan starting her adult life in L.A.and Joshua getting back on the college road at Berklee. Nicole, happy and successful with her booming photography business in Austin. Monica, thriving as a new lawyer, at a major firm here in Houston.

It is a parenting, “I can breathe” moment.

We are right where we are supposed to be. They lead me right here. (Exhale.)

Happy “Back to School” to all, from kindergarten to college. This time of year always brings on the same feelings of starting anew, along with letting go. But, as you pack up your kids school supplies or set up their dorm rooms, let them lead you. Let them show your their strengths, their likes, their interests. Let them lead you down the path that feels natural to them. Yes, you are in charge and you are their ultimate guide. But, you will be amazed at what those precious little ones can teach you.

You may just be amazed of who YOU become.

 

our own Granville place

“Old Granville place”- It’s a Wonderful Life

George: You see, you make a wish and then try and break some glass. And you got to be a pretty good shot nowadays, too.
Mary: Oh, no, George, don’t. It’s full of romance, that old place. I’d like to live in it.
George: In that place?!
Mary: Uh-huh.
George: I wouldn’t live in it as a ghost. 

Day One

 

Okay, so it’s not quite the “old Granville place” but, there is a broken window upstairs. Besides, Lark and I have always loved “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  FunFact: We actually have a picture of “George and Mary” in our house. 

Pressing on.

Day one was a successful romp through the plans and procedures of what is to come. Trying to decide what walls stay, which walls go. Can we add a bath here? Is a clawfoot tub really practical? Should Juliet get her own room? These are the questions.

The first floor, not so bad. It looks harmless. Nice floors. Pull up the carpet. Reconfigure the space.

Sand, paint and, oh, yeah…add a kitchen! Enter Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.

 Yep. This is the current kitchen. You can tell by the paper towels and wine.

The second floor has plenty of room for creative control. From the bank of windows, I can see Russia! Sorry. But, we do have a fabulous view of the downtown Houston skyline. Probably going to need a good tree trimming service, though.

Our Master suite is sounding pretty sweet. My one big add-on today:  coffee bar upstairs. As we get older, navigating the stairs in the morning, on the hunt for precious caffeine is getting quite dangerous. Better to be safe.

Ellie, our architectural designer; Scott, our contractor and Jack, our lender with Larkin. Lots of discussion on “what will be” and when the first party will be.

The ivy drapes will not be. Already in the dumpster. I don’t do vintage drapes. Something about the dust…and smell. But, there are little treasures here and there. Fixtures, old glass, gorgeous doors. Restoring an old house is something I have always wanted to do.

It is going to be a lot of work, but I am so excited that I can hardly stand myself.

I am telling you, this house has the potential to be “Before and After” porn.

But, we’ll keep it more “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

we bought a zoo

Not really. But, life is going to be just that for the next several months.

Larkin and I have decided to purchase and restore a c.1900 home in the historic Woodland Heights neighborhood, part of The Heights in Houston,Texas.

We will close on the property next week. This weekend, however, the house will serve as the setting to a fundraiser benefitting the re-opening of the Historic Houston Salvage Warehouse. Historic Houston is a resource for reclaimed historic building materials.

In the country’s fourth largest and “coolest”city, according to Forbe’s magazine, it is vital to preserve our historic places, while growing, building and modernizing. You could spend hours and hours on the internet, reading stats and graphs documenting all of the benefits of using salvaged and reclaimed materials.

To me, however, the benefits are simply fundamental. Reusing, reclaiming and recycling while “re-storing” is just common courtesy, no?  Helping out the planet, our Mother Earth, as she has taken care of us.

Let me be quite clear, though. We are not building a “green” house or going off the grid. Just sensible salvaging, wherever we can, while restoring the beauty and integrity of this vintage home, with a little Living Lola style, of course.

For those of you in the area, interested in seeing the “before” and helping out a great cause, I am including the details for this Sunday’s event.

I will be updating and posting pictures of our chaos, I mean, progress.

Lola in a hard hat. This should be stunning.

Please join Ashton Martini of Martha Turner Properties for a fundraiser benefitting Historic Houston at 2615 Beauchamp in Woodland Heights on Sunday, Sept. 23rd from 3-6 PM. Help “restore” and re-open Historic Houston’s Salvage Warehouse and tour this c. 1900 home in the early stages of its own restoration. Enjoy good food and wine and take this opportunity to make your donation to help re-open Historic Houston’s Salvage Warehouse as a resource for reclaimed historic building materials in Houston. Bring your friends and support this great organization! 

for the love of Kale

I had planned to post this on Friday, but had to attend a funeral in South Texas. As we made the drive from Harlingen Airport to Brownsville, I was taken aback by the sheer number of brand new fast food restaurants that lined the freeway. South Texas, known as “the valley”, is 81 percent hispanic. This many fast food options, in this area, simply does not make sense.

 “According to a national examination survey, Mexican Americans are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.  They have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, caused by diabetes, and they are 50% more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.” –Office of Minority Health/U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

March is National Nutrition Month. As a Latina, health conscious blogger, I felt obligated to pass along these statistics, along with good information about how vital it is to make better choices about food and your health, especially within the Hispanic community.

I’ve had so many relatives develop Diabetes, including my dad, who also survived a massive heart attack last summer. Between my mom, my sister and myself, he is lucky: he has 3 bossy, latina women in his life that tell him what to eat!  So, once more, here you go, dad: for the love of you…and Kale!

Last year, I spent my first New England winter at our vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. MV is a popular summer haunt that depends on the tourist season to survive; many businesses and restaurants shut down for the winter. For year round residents, fresh food variety can get pretty limited and expensive.  I noticed that the market, which carries local farm produce, was always in abundance of this inexpensive, beautiful, green leafy vegetable…Kale. I was intrigued.

 In Texas, we eat greens, as well. There are plenty of southern dishes that include mustard greens, collards, cabbage and spinach. But, I wasn’t familiar with preparing kale. Well, there are as many ways to add kale to your diet, as you can imagine. Remember “Bubba” in Forrest Gump? “…shrimp gumbo, shrimp creole, shrimp kabobs….” It’s just like that with kale.

 The best news is that Kale is not just good for you. Kale is a Superfood!

And, what is one of the best foods to combat diabetes? Yep! You guessed it.  Livestrong.com is an excellent resource that sings kale’s praises and lists other foods to help battle various illnesses.  Fighting cancers, burning fat, reducing risk of cataracts; the nutritional magic of kale is pretty remarkable.

Last year when I began my obsession with this cruciferous gem, I stumbled upon Diana Dyer’s blog, “365daysofKale”.  How lucky was I, to find a kale soul mate? She grows her own kale, and she inspired me to add it to my own Vineyard garden last Spring. (By July, I had eaten it all.) She has valuable information, research and recipes on her website.

 

And, then there is this guy, Bo Muller-Moore. I’m sure he’ll go down in the Kale Hall of Fame. His story has gained national attention because fast food chain, “Chick-fil-A”, wants him to stop production of his “Eat More Kale” t-shirts.  The corporate giant, which has illiterate cows vandalizing billboards  spreading the “chickn” movement, is causing such a stir, the legal defense for Bo is threatening his 10-year-old small, eco-friendly business in Vermont. If you are a fan of small business (and/or kale) and want to help take a stand against “corporate bullying”, go check out his site. Join Team Kale!

 

 

Kale Fun Fact: You can use it for decoration. There are many varieties of Ornamental Kales. You can add them to floral arrangements, or display them in bunches for incredible color throughout you home.  

A multi-tasking, decorative superfood; strong, healthy and beautiful. What’s not to love?

 

Honestly, I eat kale almost daily. I am always finding ways to add it to all of my cooking. As I start adding more recipes to “Living Lola”, you’ll see that I will always try to sneak in a little kale. Now, you’ll understand why.

If you have never prepared kale, here are a few easy suggestions to getting creative with this very versatile veggie:

  • add a handful of chopped kale to you favorite smoothie
  • scrambled kale and eggs: saute kale to soften with your butter or oil; scramble away
  • coarsely chopped kale can be added to ANY soup, right before serving
  • add chopped kale to any pasta dish; the bright green adds gorgeous color
  • instead of chopped parsley to garnish, finely chop kale
  • kale chips, that seem to have swept the nation: spread big pieces of kale on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, dash of salt, bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Keep on eye on them to test your oven for desired crispness.
  • crumble baked kale chips over popcorn to add huge nutritional value to snacking

Okay, okay. Now, I’m starting to sound like Bubba. But, you get the idea.

a kick start to easy spring decor

This post is for all of those people who say that they don’t have the time or don’t know how to decorate their homes. It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, kids, no kids…we all want to live and be supported in a beautiful space. The true beauty of your space is in the eye of the beholder. Your home, room, apartment, dorm, cell, whatever, should not only be a reflection of you, it should be an inviting, comfortable place to relax and recharge.

 

At the market, which sounds so much better than grocery store, I noticed this big bag of Granny Smith apples. Something about the color just seemed to say, “Lola, it’s time to get ready for Spring.” Just a little color. Just a little change.

 

The more I have fallen in love with decorating over the years, the more I have come to appreciate terms like “simple elegance”, “less is more” and “understated”. Make simplicity a habit.

 

I believe in filling your home with things you love. I love modern, antique, contemporary, vintage and industrial. I do not believe in having just one style. I also do not believe in “bed in a bag” or “one size fits all”.

When you put everything you love all together, you create your own personal style.

 

Honestly, I find all of my favorite home decor treasures at antique shops, vintage boutiques, thrift stores and tag sales.

Putting your own unique personal touches throughout your home is the key to creating an inviting, memorable, beautiful place for you and your family. They will appreciate every holiday or seasonal decoration that you adorn. Maybe not now, when you actually have your kids living with you. But, someday, when they are off at college or live in a different city, you will get a text that says: “send pics of your Halloween decor”. Trust me.

 

 

You do not have to spend a lot of money or time to make changes around your home. Using real fruit, flowers, greenery from your garden reinforces a flow of natural positive energy into your home.  In fact, you will feel a quick dramatic shift in the energy of your home if you bring nature inside. Feng Shui is some pretty powerful stuff.

 

 

 

After I picked up the bag of apples, I noticed that they were throwing away the “day old” flowers.  Floral design is another one of my passions. I made a run for it and sifted through the sad, wilted petals. “Not on my watch”,  I thought to myself. “No petal left behind!” I wrapped them up, cut their stems, soaked them in an aspirin ice bath and Voila!

 

So, this week, when you hit the market, grab a bag of apples, oranges, lemons, flowers whatever. Go through your home and pull out your favorite platters, crystal dishes, baskets, vases, anything you love. If you don’t love it, why is it in your house? Start a thrift store donation pile, you know, for people like me.

Arrange your fruit on platters, small groups of flowers in your favorite vases, maybe even use an heirloom dish that is tucked away for a special occasion. Take it out and use it. Make today a special occasion.  Place the items on a coffee table, the centerpiece of your dining room or just all around your home.

Now, step back and admire your work; the first breath of Spring you just added to your home.

Yeah, yeah, I know. When you’re kids get off the bus, they’ll think you creatively displayed their afternoon snacks. But, it was pretty for a moment.

See? You can decorate.