Friday, May 29, 2009

week in photographs

I don't usually photograph everything that happens in a week, but it was Memorial Day weekend and my best friend's baby shower, the camera was around anyways, and we're such visual creatures...

At any rate, posting photographs of the events seemed a better way to express my emotions over the past week than a blog that simply said:

I made chocolate covered strawberries for Memorial Day

My best friend (who just got her PHD in Archaeology, how hot is that?!) is expecting her first baby, a little girl

The daffodil issue was resolved (for now) by purchasing some lovely fake ones from Michaels, but I'm looking forward to paper, leather, or felt flowers in my apple green vase soon, as several of you suggested (and even offered to help me make)

wishing you the loveliest of weekends...full of laughter, friends, and surprises...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday menu

Dinner is: twice baked potatoes, steak, and Henry Weinhard's root beer from the bottle.

Yes, yes, and more yes.

Also, I am unnaturally excited about the fact that I got "Adventures in Babysitting" for $5 at Target.

It's the small things, isn't it.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

tomorrow is a new day

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. "

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

photo: Bobby the kitten asleep on Christmas Day, the day we got him for my mom :)

a noise within

A very small, somewhat whimsical incident that happened last night set this blog in motion, and like most of my rambling thoughts, it might take a while for me to link a few ideas together like a string of Christmas lights, but when I finally get around to it, damned if the whole tree don't light up. I'm like that with my epiphanies and the way I share the points I want to get across.

Going to bed last night, I couldn't set aside the nagging thought that maybe I'd set my alarm clock wrong. Setting the alarm clock incorrectly is something I very rarely do, but my sleep has been sketchy lately so maybe I had reason to trust my gut. Either way, I told that nagging little voice inside to kindly shut the hell up so I could go back to sleep, but it wouldn't. Check the alarm clock time and make sure it's correct, it said. Over and over and over again. I tried to reason with it for a while, saying, Look, little naggy neurotic voice, I never, EVER do that, I'm not THAT person, and the light from the alarm clock is going to make it even harder for me to fall back asleep.

At which point Little Nagging Voice became Booming Old Testament Voice and it said JUST CHECK THE FREAKIN' ALARM CLOCK! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BY TRUSTING YOUR INSTINCTS!

So I did. Raise your hands if you know the punchline. My alarm clock was set to 7:40 PM, a rather ineffectual time to get up and go to work. I laughed a little, shook my head in wonder and gratitude for a universe and a gut instinct that looks out for my best interests, re-set the alarm clock and went back to attempting to sleep.

So that's a cute story, and I could leave it at that. But I never really do. Things always tie themselves to other things in my life, unrelated incidents years ago suddenly springing back to life, a bulb on that string of lights flickering back on, and I get to see the big picture about how everything, and I truly mean everything, is connected in this world. That's the beauty and the tragedy and the mystery of it.

And I remember college, taking a Self-Defense for Women's class as part of my PE requirement, totally bored and snotty about it since I already had a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I was so sure there wasn't anything else I could be taught about self-defense from women who didn't even know martial arts. I remember reading the number one reason women got attacked. Wasn't the shoes, wasn't the purse, wasn't the car or what clothes a woman was wearing. It was that she doubted her instincts.

You've been there, right? Sure you have. Something' About this person. This situation. It doesn't feel right. I'm not comfortable. And always the choice. Do I make a scene? Risk being the over reactive, crazy one? Walk away? Ask for help? How do I even ask for help? Excuse me, officer, I have a funny feeling about this guy I'm on a date with...

Most women, if they survive an attack, tell people later on that they had a funny feeling. Too busy being polite, they shoved that noise within down and smiled and did what polite society would dictate.

Don't ever do that.

Follow your instincts. Please. Because there are enough bad things that happen in this world that come from that blind spot, totally left field, you never saw it coming. And then there are the bad things that you felt or sensed, long before they ever happened, and they build, almost as if they were inevitable. Bad things are not inevitable. They are a series of small little decisions and you have the right to walk away any time you'd like from a situation that you are not comfortable in.

Here's an amazing story from one of my long-lost friends, one that I've repeated to many people often times, having no idea that years later when we finally reconnected, my friend had blogged about it. And I have a story of my own, about following my instincts, in two different kinds of ways. I'm blessed in that I have fairly good instincts (read: alarm clock) and I'm totally and utterly grateful that the night that this happened to me, I listened to not just myself, but to someone else as well. The man who might have attacked my friend and I.

To make a long story short, my friend and I were coming out of a club in a bad part of London, her totally drunk and me, the sober one, looking out for her. A series of bad decisions on her part (and a total inability, on my part, to control her) lead my friend to follow a man down a dark alley as he promised to find us the nearest bus station. I noticed a few things: the alley, the fact that no one else around seemed particularly interested in our welfare, and a car full of men that the man now leading my friend down a dark alley had nodded to. The sounds going on within my body were less of a noise and more of a thudding, panicked roar. I had no choice but to follow my friend into that alley, gearing up for what I truly believe, to this day, might have ended up being a fight for our lives.

"You ladies sure don't know your way around here, do you," the man said conversationally, and my friend wobbled on my shoulder and I found myself doing the bravest thing I've ever done. I didn't clench my fists with all my Tae Kwon Do skill, I didn't look for a weapon. I looked the man straight in the eyes. His eyes caught mine and his widened. I'm not sure what my face looked like other than grim determination and maybe a glimmer of hope.

"I guess it's a good thing that we have kind people like you around to do the right thing, then," I said. Because even though my instincts were saying THIS IS NOT GOOD WHY AREN'T WE RUNNING LIKE HELL another voice told me to give him a chance to be the person he was trying to become. So I did. It could have ended badly. I don't always recommend giving people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to situations like that. But in this case, the entire situation changed.

He looked at me, and my wobbly friend, and he nodded. Maybe he was coming to peace with what he was about to do, I don't know. He pointed outside the alley and told us where the bus station was (he was telling the truth). And then he turned around and ran like hell, faster than I've ever seen anyone run who's life or a gold medal didn't depend on it, in the opposite direction. My friend celebrated the fact that she had five more minutes to live by throwing up a little. I kind of felt like that too.

We got home safe, and I think about that night in the alley quite a lot. I think about what it means to trust your instincts, what it means to trust other people, where to draw the line. It's a tough call. I don't ever think about what might have happened If. Because when you trust your instincts, the good that unfolds is what seems inevitable. As in, it couldn't have happened any other way because I was listening to myself. And as long as I listen to myself, regardless of what situations I may even end up being wrong or right about, I have no regrets.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

back slowly away from your computer...

...and if you're in Los Angeles, consider getting some fresh air and going to some of these places over the long, beautiful Memorial Day weekend. Also: in keeping with my "affordable" theme, not a single one of these charges over $15 for admission and parking combined.


Do you love butterflies as much as I do? Check out the Pavilion of Wings at the Natural History Museum, tickets are only $3 for adults. I don't even think you can buy MILK for that price anymore. Parking is $5-$8, depending on whether or not you understand the website's explanation better than I do.

Think fast: Where can you find some of the most amazing architecture, art and photography exhibits, a gorgeous garden, and an incredible view of Los Angeles? For no admission cost? The Getty. (N.B.: $10 for parking)

Best. Happy hour idea. Ever. This insanely cool lounge serves FREE grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, with Depression Era prices for Depression Era cocktails, on Friday afternoons from 5-7 PM. Tipping is encouraged, as proceeds go to local food banks and charities. (N.B.: $9 valet parking, dress code is required.)

Holy smokes, Batman! I can't wait to check out this exhibit at the Skirball. Admission is $10 for adults, but everyone gets into the Skirball for free on Thursdays. Parking is also free.

Also, I've heard the Noah's Ark Exhibit at the Skirball is simply incredible -- hundreds of creatures, all hand-made from recycled parts, await to greet you -- and I think you can get into both exhibits for one price. (If you go, let me know if that's true, please.)

Bright lights, big city, huge observatory. Parking and admission are free over at the Griffith Observatory (the view of the city is in itself worth a million bucks) and the Planetarium shows (get there early to buy tickets, because they do sell out) are only $7.

Love photography? Me too. Check out this free photography exhibit while it's still in town.

Have a wonderful weekend, guys!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


"Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience,
courage, work, hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness,
rest, prayer, meditation, and one well-selected
solution. Put in about one teaspoonful of good
spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkle of
play, and a cupful of good humor."

I don't know who said the quote. I do know who took the picture.

help me out a little...

According to the all-knowing employees of Trader Joe's (seriously, they're like Wikipeople or something) daffodil season is officially over. So the $1.29 bunches of ten daffodils that I was using to brighten my night stand are no longer. So I'm looking at my followers, some of whom are friends -- I've got at least one friend on Etsy, Elle can sew and is quite good with all things creative, Ashley cooks and triple-steps, and Krista keeps finding new ways to make ordinary photographs freakin' awesome-- and I'm asking my craftiest and thriftiest of friends, followers, fans, stalkers, and people who have nothing else to do on a Tuesday afternoon:

Where's a good place to buy (realistic-looking) fake flowers to put in an apple-green vase on my nightstand? I am fully aware of the joy that is Michaels, but any other ideas? I'm open to everything -- cutting pictures of flowers out of magazines and attaching them to pipe cleaner, actually considering an idea that came from Martha Stewart, whatever. You name it, I'll let you know what works best. Because flowers brighten anyone's day. And right now I need a little brightening in my life. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

checking expectations at the door

"The only gift is giving to the poor; all else is exchange." -- Thiruvalluvar

I actually don't quite agree with this quote, being someone who has (and still does) give cash and food out to homeless people, as I've been guilty in the past of having a very clear expectation about what response I would receive from these people and where I wanted them to spend their new-found money.

Yeah. I know. This blog is not about me claiming to be an awesome person. I'm a work in progress.

At any rate, if you give somebody a gift -- even if you don't expect that person to ever give you back anything -- if you still have expectations, any, WHATSOEVER, about how this person should react, what amount of gratitude (s)he should feel, or what (s)he should do with this gift... then, my friend, you did not just give a gift. You did what I am terming "throw a party."

For example: Giving to a person in need (or refusing to give to a person in need because you think (s)he will just waste the money on alcohol, drugs, etc.) and then expecting him or her to do something specific with the money or gift.

"Giving"a friend a gift with an expectation that you will receive something back (i.e. how a lot of people practice the holidays)

Hosting an event, much like I did this weekend, for people to attend, and then fretting about whether or not anyone will show up. That was me this weekend, throwing a youth event for my church, giving a gift for everyone to enjoy, and then letting my ego dance circles around me and cause me to worry whether or not anyone would show up.

When I worried about these things out loud to the speaker of the event (one of my favorite human beings on this planet) he said to me, "You're not throwing a party. You're giving a gift. It doesn't matter how many people show up and partake of this gift. This is its purpose and you cannot screw it up unless you lose sight of why you are doing this in the first place."

Ah-ha. Sometimes it feels like we never leave high school, doesn't it.

At any rate, I took this wonderful, inspiring, youth-oriented event and stepped about four steps away from it so that my ego was safely detached, then enjoyed the entire process and event from a place of acceptance, love, and true gifty-ness. No exchanges or expectations -- whatever people wanted to get out of it, however people received this gift -- was no longer my responsibility. My only job was to witness how freakin' awesome the universe is once you resign as general manager of it.

So much better than great expectations (whether filled, unfulfilled, or Charles Dickens' writing)

wait, we had an earthquake?

I was in an underground parking garage last night, digging through what crap I wanted to bring in to the apartment (pack-rats LOVE using their cars as secondary storage units) when the car shook a little.

Huh. Must've been me, I thought. And I wiggled my butt a little in the car seat to make the car shake some more, the car did indeed keep rocking, and I giggled and thought nothing of it, then headed upstairs where I proceeded to make myself a delicious dinner.

I don't want to say anything too far-fetched, but I'm possibly the only person in Southern California who was gleefully and completely unwittingly helping out an earthquake shake her car while in an underground parking garage last night.

But I know I'm not the only one who found out we had an earthquake by signing onto Facebook and reading everyone else's freak out statuses. Facebook is also how I found out about swine flu, being a non-news person myself.

Who says social networking doesn't pay off?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

smile like you mean it

Hello. Nice to meet you! I'm Tracy.

I realize that I never officially introduced myself back when I began my blog, mostly because it started off as a blog I never intended anyone to find, way back in 2008 when I needed a cheap therapist (and blogging is just that, believe me), and then when I re-vamped it in 2009 to use as a vehicle for which to plug projects I was working on as a writer, actress, photographer, whatever. And I named it Res Ipsa Loquitur ("the thing speaks for itself") because I wanted my blog to speak for itself, and I wanted to avoid the whole "this is who I am as a person" blog because, let's face it, sometimes those are redundant. I mean, if you can't tell my personality from my writing, then I'm not a very good writer, am I.

Wait, don't answer that last question.

At any rate, life has me struggling to keep up this week, I'm not sleeping very well, and I've been busy throwing parties instead of giving gifts (stay tuned later this week for my epiphany on what the hell that means, even though it wasn't really my epiphany).

So here I am, feeling the writer's block, looking to reach out and touch faith (mmm, Eliza Dushku...wait, where was I?) and I dunno...SHARE. Something. Anything.

Things that make me smile like I mean it:

Ray LaMontagne's song "Meg White." Adorable. Watch a homemade music video of it here.

This place has the best red velvet cupcakes I've ever had.

Two words: deep-dish Chicago style pizza. Root beer brewed on the premises. And a pizookie (a just-out-of-the-oven, melt in your mouth cookie that's the size of an individual deep dish pizza. With ice cream melting on it.) Wait, that's more than two words, isn't it. I love this place.

Why haven't I bought this already?!

I'm just starting to watch this show, and it makes me laugh so hard I cry.

I'm celebrating the fact that I no longer watch this show, so I don't have to tear my hair out waiting for the next 8(!) months to see what happens.

My obsession with fresh mozzarella, sweet potato fries, and Cherry Garcia continues. Not all at the same time, though. Ew.

blowing bubbles + kitten = hours of free entertainment

This trailer. I am so excited to see this movie.

I am currently reading this. It's getting really, really good.

Enjoying root beer floats for dessert after dinner every night.

and a partial list of other joys: daffodils, watermelon, strawberry smoothies, chocolate sauce and raspberries, fresh green beans, butter and salt, goat cheese, snooze buttons, good running shoes, clean pillowcases, a new pad of post-its, comfy flip-flops, sunshine and shade (and just enough of both), hot milk at night before bedtime, used bookstores, sprinklers, puppies, laughter, and hot fudge sundaes.

And now you know almost everything there is to know about me. Almost.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

questions and answers

So... did YOU know my mom was reading this blog? Because I sure didn't. Until I drove down to visit her for Mother's Day today, and as we were chatting on the phone about what food I was going to bring, my mom said, "By the way, I answered your questions."

"What questions?" I asked.

"The ones in your blog."

" my blog?"


"So you' mother's day blog."


"So you already know what I'm making you for Mother's Day."

"Yep. Honestly Tracy, you told the whole world you were conceived in a Winnebago?"

"Um. I don't think the WHOLE WORLD is an accurate headcount of who's reading my blog. So let's just say I told approximately 23 people."

Anyways, my mom copied and pasted my questions into a Word document, then emailed me the answers. And when I asked if I could post some of her answers on this blog, she said yes. Enjoy, and Happy Mother's Day. :)

To Tracy on Mother’s Day, 2009

Was I planned?

Oh, Lord! I can’t believe I told you that story. It’s time to rewrite history: I had a magical encounter with a most perfect man (no, not your biofather). We were totally in synch, spent the day eating chocolate covered strawberries, while wandering around a white sand beach with the breeze gently flowing and the waves gently lapping at our feet, talking about everything under the sun. We never actually touched each other because our communion was so perfect that it wasn’t necessary. And 9 months later you were born.

Did you feel ready for me?

Yes. I was ready for a little girl in my life. You completed our family. Boys are great, but every mother needs a daughter – like you.

How was the birth? Honestly. You can tell me. Did it suck? It sucked, didn't it. You can tell me.

It wasn’t bad at all. You were born at home in your own bedroom while friends and family partied around me. You started speaking as soon as you made your appearance (“Ma! Ma!”). The nurse said most babies don’t know how to make the “m” sound and just go waaaah or aaaaa, so we knew right away that you were a superior being.

How was I as a baby? Was I a little punk that cried incessantly?

You hardly ever cried. You entertained yourself by lying on your back and doing calisthenics, throwing your legs straight up and then crashing them back down onto the crib mattress. You did this so regularly that 4-year-old Jeff could direct you: “Put em up, put em down.” You also read books while I changed your diaper and we engaged in word games: Me: “You’re a superbaby.” You: “You supermommy.” (A couple grammar mistakes there, but you were only 18 months old.) My friends were very impressed with your word skills. I took them for granted.
What do you remember most about me growing up?

That you were happy, fun, so smart, and I loved every moment with you. You were the little girl in the Abba song, going off to school with your backpack (decorated with a “Mean people suck” sticker) waving absent-mindedly at me as you left because you were eager to tackle the day.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in raising me?

I can’t think of any. Wait, maybe…um, I’m still thinking. I’ll let you know.

When was the time you felt I let you down the most? What about the time I made you the most proud?

I can’t ever remember you letting me down (unless it was the time when you told me you “totally hated me” because I made you wear your Brownie dress to a Brownie event, not knowing that no one ever wears a Brownie dress for any reason.)* There are so many moments when you’ve made me proud that I don’t know where to begin. One that comes to mind is when you played Polonius in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” at Chapman. More recently it was your performance at the improvisation theatre, which was hilarious. And making Jody into such a likable character. But it isn’t just your acting that makes me proud. I’m so proud of the wonderful person you are.

How was I as a teenager? What did you want to say to me as I was going through those years?

I wanted to say, don’t grow up too fast, don’t leave because I can’t imagine life without you. But I didn’t want to hold you back, so I hope I never said that to you. (If I did, I’m sorry. Mothers have to learn to let go.)

Now that I'm an adult, what choices that I've made do you support the most? How about the least?

You have relentlessly pursued your dreams of acting, and I’m so proud that you’ve stuck with it, even through discouraging times. But I’m also glad that you haven’t made acting the center of your being. You have filled your life with other activities that bring you much joy.

What would you like me to do for you to make our relationship even stronger?

Come home more often so we can spend the day at Laguna Beach together on Fridays. Keep calling me to check up on me, so I don’t go astray. Never give in to sadness; don’t ever lose your joy. When you’re happy, I’m happier.

Oh, and yes. Of course I remember reading you "Goodnight Moon."

*that Brownie dress was hideous. You gotta draw the line somewhere.

Friday, May 8, 2009

lessons learned along the way

Summer, 2008. Watercolor painting class at Descanso Gardens. I am starting a new painting, it will probably suck as much as the last four have. I have very little artistic talent when it utilizes a paint brush, pencils, chalk, or charcoal. I'm okay with that.

There is a blank, white sheet of paper in front of me, and it's intimidating. The teacher and I have been circling each other for a couple weeks now, unsure if we like each other. She notices my hesitancy at what to begin painting on such a blank canvas. Sometimes the emptiness of a piece of paper or the silence of a microphone is terrifying. Anything less than brilliant would feel insulting, and yet we always have to start somewhere. It's so much easier, then, to just never start.

"Get the entire paper wet," my teacher says, looking at me. "And then throw whatever color you want on as the background. And then let the painting tell you what it wants to be."

So I did. That lesson, in itself, made it worth it to show up every week and paint crappy paintings. Let the painting tell you what it wants to be. Let the poem tell you what it wants to be. Let life tell you what it wants to be. And then go forward with an open heart, and listen.

By the way, I'm still painting. No, I haven't gotten any better.

But I am getting better at listening.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not weird at all! Perfectly normal!!

I was going to write today's blog about something more positive and upbeat, perhaps wishing all of you a happy Cince de Mayo and suggesting some places to get rockin' Mexican food (there are a TON) in LA, but honestly, I'm feeling weird today, and what's a blog for if not honesty and a little self-authenticity, mixed in with a dash of respect for other peoples' privacy. I'm sure you guys have probably guessed that my life, much like yours, doesn't always go as planned, that there are occasional hiccups, issues, and even a little bit of drama every now and then, and I don't usually blog about it because a) that's not what this blog is about, and b) life's bad moments are usually so transitory, why on earth would I want to permanently memorialize something negative that I'm going through in a blog to remember for the rest of time? So I can go back six months from now and re-read what I was going through? No thanks. I'll keep the lessons learned and pass on reliving the pain.

So here I am, in all my over-sensitive, slightly weirded out glory, blogging about it for all the world to see. What's a girl to do when things that usually don't get under her skin are getting under her skin quite well today?

I know. I'll make a list. Because lists make me happy.

My mother's day project this year is a sort of scrapbook with watercolor paintings and hand-written memories and questions for my mother, because I like to throw as many visual mediums together (this is kind of how I do my salads, too, only I'm not sure ranch dressing hides a scrapbook's taste as well as it does a salad's) and hope for the best. I have taken exactly four watercolor painting classes in my lifetime, I have scoured my photo albums for pictures of my mother and myself, and I have racked my brain for memories to jot down and questions to ask. And now I will share with you that list of things I'm going to ask my mother. Feel free to steal, share, or simply opine your thoughts on the questions.

  • Was I planned?*
  • Did you feel ready for me?
  • How was the birth? Honestly. You can tell me. Did it suck? It sucked, didn't it. You can tell me.
  • How was I as a baby? Was I a little punk that cried incessantly?
  • What do you remember most about me growing up?
  • What did you think I was going to be when I became an adult? Why?
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced in raising me?
  • What was your favorite game to play with me when I was little?
  • When was the time you felt I let you down the most? What about the time I made you the most proud?
  • How was I as a teenager? What did you want to say to me as I was going through those years?
  • Did you agree with my choice of college? What about my major?
  • Now that I'm an adult, what choices that I've made do you support the most? How about the least?
  • What would you like me to do for you to make our relationship even stronger?

And finally: Do you remember reading "Goodnight Moon" to me when I was little? Because I do. Thanks, Mom. For everything.

* I already know the answer to this one. I was conceived in a Winnebago in Canada. Which makes me one third American, one third Canadian, and one third Winnebagan.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Me too. I thought I'd make this week's affordable blog about food, because hey, we all need it. (It's true! I've done extensive research!)

First of all, I'll just say that I get most of my food these days at Trader Joe's -- really, really affordable (I'm still buying myself 10 daffodils for $1.29 from Trader Joe's every week to put next to my alarm clock -- it keeps me from growling at the morning when I wake up). The food is good, I have an above average access to organic food without spending too much, and Trader Joe's always has something new that I want to try, something fairly inexpensive that's worth experimenting with, like their Brie and fruit (I think it's cherries?) wheel of awesome. I don't know the official name, but I'm sure if you go into Trader Joe's and ask for the Brie and Fruit Wheel of Awesome they'll probably know what you're talking about. It's in the dessert section. There, now you don't get to say I wasn't helpful.

I am also unnaturally obsessed with (again, forgetting actual names): the frozen pesto pasta dinners, chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, mozzarella medallions, Trader Joe's original hummus with the sea salt pita chips, and a myriad of other things. Most weeks, I am buying canned goods, a few frozen dinners, cheese, snacks, recycled paper goods, pasta, and cooking oils and sauces at Trader Joe's. And I can tell you that when I buy this stuff every week, I'm spending a lot less money than I would at most regular grocery stores. Added bonus -- when you bring in a cloth Trader Joe's bag for your groceries, you fill out a raffle ticket and have a chance to win $25 of free groceries every week. How awesome is that?

The other place I'm trying to get into buying food (focusing on produce now) is at farmer's markets. Santa Monica has an insanely well-stocked, well-known, very crowded one that is at Arizona and 3rd Street (along the 3rd street promenade) on Saturdays from 8:30 am to 1pm. And just because Santa Monica is cool like that, it also has a Wednesday farmer's market AND a Sunday farmer's market that allows retailers to sell their (non-food product) wares alongside all the produce while live music is playing. (You should note -- all three of those farmer's markets are at different locations.)

Santa Monica rules.

I am also aware that Burbank's farmer's market (which is a lot closer of a drive for me) is fairly kick ass as well, and it goes down on Saturdays from 8am to 12:30pm, located at Third Street and Orange Grove (in the parking lot directly behind Burbank's City Hall). I'm off in a few weeks to go check that out.

And here's a tip: even though farmer's marketeers (did I just make a new word?) stress showing up early, I've heard that if you show up in the last half or so of market-time, you can get good discounts on food that sellers don't necessarily want to tow all the way back home. Just be aware -- you probably won't get the best produce that way. Hey, life's full of compromises.

At any rate, if you're not looking to shop for food, but looking for a place to go to eat that won't make you cry (unless the lobster ravioli is just that amazing) here's a few good places for you to check out in LA, all of which are very, very affordable:

Want to grab a chili cheese hot dog after midnight? (bring cash, by the way -- no credit cards accepted)

Amazingly affordable Cuban food (including the best potato balls EVER) and some of the most incredible desserts (it's a bakery too, with a to-die-for chocolate raspberry mousse cake)

Best chili cheese fries. Hands down. Cheeseburger is pretty damn good too.

Yum. I love gelato!

A cross between Denny's and Bob's Big Boy, but you're more likely to see celebrities here.

I haven't quite figured out the appeal, but my friends love this place.

25 cent chicken wings on Wednesdays?!

And finally:

Don't judge. The food here is good. And you can buy that shoe rack you've been meaning to get afterwards.
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