Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Whatever You Do – Don’t Laugh! Being a Total Rock Star Isn’t Easy!

In order to express myself, I must first accept myself.

One of my biggest fears about expressing myself and sharing my creativity and talents has always been the fear of being laughed at or dismissed.  I have so many defense mechanisms in place to avoid being laughed at and ridiculed.  I don’t want to place blame.  That doesn’t change things now.  Heck, I don’t even want to explore the reasons why I am the way I am.  It won’t really matter.  I already know. I am the way I am.  I accept myself the way I am.  I have fears and I handle them.

I am at a point in my life that I have accepted myself and now I am ready to express myself.  I began doing that when I began blogging.  Sharing my thoughts, my feelings, and my experiences with the “world” – with you – has been the key that unlocked my true self and set me free!  That freedom has fueled the flame that keeps my desire for love, joy and happiness burning in my heart.

It’s my time to shine!

Miz Meliz at Urban Desert Cabaret http://mizmeliz.com photo property of Lito Reyes Copyright 2013

This week I had the opportunity to share one of my poems at a performance of spoken word alongside some very talented musicians, poets, and artists.  When I was asked if I wanted to read a poem I said, “Yes!” without hesitation.  When I was asked if I was nervous, I said, “Yes!” but it was the excitement kind of nerves, not the sick or stage fright kind.    The fears that came to mind were brief fleeting moments of panic.   What if I mess up?  What if they laugh at me?  What if no one likes my poem.  What if I get sick to my stomach?  What if I have an anxiety attack? What if I get a migraine or vertigo and can’t go on?  These things have happened before.

The thoughts of my biggest fears did not remain in my consciousness for very long. I have always wanted to get to a point in my life where the things I enjoy doing are not a challenge.  They are just a part of me.  I want to show the world that I can do these things well.  I have always wanted to be able to share my talents without concern for what others think, without fear of judgement.  This was significant in my life’s journey because I have now become more confident in myself and my abilities than ever before.  It was because of that confidence that I did not get nervous or sick. And you know what?  I rocked it!  It was great!  Not just because I did not get ill.  Not just because my friends said I was good.  Not just because I didn’t mess it up.  I enjoyed the experience.  I shared my talent with my friends and family.  And – no one laughed!  I did great because I believed in myself.

The Urban Desert Cabaret

Thursday night’s performance of The Urban Desert Cabaret was a show that my cousin, Joe City Garcia arranged.  The show takes place about once a month and if you like folk music, art, and poetry – you should definitely see it.  Most of the performers have a few things in common, they either know Joe City and/or have some connection to Joshua Tree – a community of artists who live or work in the desert.  These men and women all have a soulful camaraderie and connection to the earth, to light and to love.  Even if you just appreciate great music and song – this show is for you!  You can read more about UDC in my previous posts: Hollywood Nights and Urban Desert Cabaret.

copyright Joe Garcia 2013
It was exciting to be named in the event flyer!

I don’t want to forget anyone, so here is the line up from the January 31st show: Guest artists: Billy Gill (songs), Paul McCarty (songs) Monique Caruso (songs), Cari Banke (art/spoken word), Lalo Kikiriki (song/spoken word), Laura Anne Lacy (songs), Miz Meliz (Melissa Reyes) (spoken word) and more TBA! Plus songs and jams with the UDC combo: Jeremy Gilien, Tonya Lee Jaynes, Robert Matsuda & host Joe City Garcia.  First, Joe City and the Urban Desert Cabaret combo band started off the show with a few songs.  Their music is transfixing.  It brings me to a place of soulful reflection.  Have you ever driven through the desert and listened to the album by U2, Joshua Tree?  It opens up your horizons.  That is how Joe’s music is to me!  He is a rock star that I have admired my whole life.

Joe thanked everyone for coming and explained a bit about UDC.  Then, he said something like “who wants to go first?” and at that moment, I had just stood up.  He looked at me and said, “Miz Meliz – are you ready?”  I had told myself ahead of time that whenever he asked me I would say, “I am ready!” and I did.  And I was!  I didn’t expect to go first, but I was happy to because then I could relax and enjoy the rest of the show.  It was a bit of a bummer because some of my friends missed it, but it was good for me.

Next up was a great performer who played accordion and sang, her name is Lalo. . . her songs were light and fun and she told her stories in a way that made me smile.  She was a bit of a crack up and brought some humor to the scene. After Lalo, Billy Gill came up and performed a few songs.  His guitar playing is remarkable and his singing is impressive! I enjoyed the guitarist Monique Caruso and was impressed that one of the pieces she performed had just been written the night before!  (I wrote the poem that I read over a decade before!!  Some people cant help but share their talent, it precedes them.) Then we had the pleasure of a performance by the  Wicked Saints with Paul McCarty and Retro Rob Thomas.  They were awesome!

Cari Banke spoke about her art that donned the walls all evening and shared some introspective poetry that she wrote to accompany her pieces.  When she took the stage, she said, “Are you all in a good mood? Having a good time?  Well, I am about to bring you down.”  Her art and poetry was about genocide and survival.  She was very insightful and did manage to leave everyone on an upbeat note! There was more singing and guitar playing, more poems were shared and the UDC combo wrapped up the evening with more tunes. It’s surprising that all of this is put together and performed without rehearsals or much else in the way of planning.  It always comes off flawlessly, because of the spirit and expertise of Joe City – all the performers make a commitment to be there and they bring their best to share for that moment.  It was an honor to be a part of it!

My performance is on my You Tube Channel and the poem is posted here: That Funky Tree.

Two Funny Brains

Saturday I had the chance to spend some time with some very creative friends that shared their unique talents with others too!  I have recently shared some of my humor with Fazel Huts and I always say that laughter is the best medicine but a true comedienne is a hot commodity!  It is not easy to be a woman and be funny.  That’s why I love the Two Funny Brains!  two funny brains

I had the unique opportunity to visit Jessica Bern and attend a “girly clothes party” at her home.  Debbie Anderson was there, too.  I couldn’t believe how lucky I am!  I asked Jessica, “You know who I am, right?” when she invited me to this intimate setting.  She was surprised by my question.  I know we are friendly on Facebook and have “talked” late into the night via instant message on many occasions.  But to me, she is a total rock star and I am a total groupie! (I met Jessica for the first time when I had the rare opportunity to be an extra on an episode of Blog This.)

photo credit AJ Ferman Copyright 2013
Jessica Bern & Miz Meliz

To me being “a total rock star” is being able to show off your talents in a big way.  I admire everyone who does that and makes it look so easy.  I know it is not easy. 

The Poetry Salon

After hanging out with the ladies at Jessica’s house, I headed over to The Fat Dog Fairfax, a fun eatery in Hollywood.  I had the pleasure of being invited to attend a special event hosted by Jennifer Styperk, poet and CEO of Poetry Salon.  It was their annual Valentine’s Day event to kick off this season of love.  What better way to celebrate your love for someone than by getting them a bespoke poem for the occasion.  (A bespoke poem is a custom crafted work of art based on stories you provide, inspired by an individual muse whom you want to honor.)  I was thrilled to meet this amazing entrepreneur rock star poet!  I was impressed that Jennifer took her talent as a poet and made it into a business that is thriving and employs and engages other poets to use their craft to help others. (See this great blog post with an interview of Jennifer Styperk for more about Poetry Salon and Bespoke Poems: http://mngirlinla.com/2013/02/04/looking-for-a-personalized-gift-try-out-poetry-salon/#comment-22702)

Photo Credit Deanna Leigh of Poetry Salon copyright 2013
Miz Meliz with Jamie Gall and Jennifer Styperk

Creativity and rocking a special talent comes naturally to some people and it is a difficult journey for most.  No matter what, keep at it!  Don’t ever give up hope!  Face your fears.  Find ways of making it work.  It’s your time to shine!

Behind the scenes busy at work at all the above events are the bloggers that I know that help to promote and in doing so are encouraging and supporting one another constantly.  Please check out their blogs, Like them on Facebook, and Follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Carolyn, Jamie, AJ, and Deanna. I had a blast sharing these experiences with them and I am glad to have their friendship!

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Fazel Huts

Make Mine a Fazel Hut with Extra Hazel Fat, Please

Fazel Huts

Fazel Huts are things that make you laugh out loud.

We all know laughter is the best medicine. A good chuckle is a wonderful way to lighten things up. It is especially nice when we can laugh at ourselves.

This is where I will share things that crack me up, tickle my funny bone, and gives me the giggles.

What are Fazel Huts, you want to know? Well, let me tell you! One day my husband, son, and I were up extra early to take my other son to a lacrosse tournament. After an hour drive at day break we dropped him off and then we went through McDonalds to get a bite and some much needed coffee.

I asked my hubby to get me a non-fat hazelnut latte. He said sure and repeated it, “non-fat hazelnut latte.”

When he gave the order he said, “a hazel fat latte please” which totally cracked us up. It took him a few times before he got it right and he was a little embarrassed.

My son and I were quiet until we drove off. Then I said, “Hazel fat latte? What”s that?”

My husband began laughing so hard he could barely see to drive! All three of us got the giggles. We said it wrong trying to repeat the story. I couldn’t get it right when I read it back after posting the quip on Facebook. It finally evolved to Fazel Hut.

A Fazel Hut Latte is now what my drink is called in my family. It’s one of those “you had to be there” kind of stories, I know. But you get the idea!

For now on, things that make me laugh until I cry and that make my family laugh out loud will be known to me as Fazel Huts. And I hope to share them with you, too!

Do you have a funny story? What cracks you up?

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Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

The Yard House

The Location

We are lucky to have some good restaurants in Northridge and most of them are near or at the Northridge Fashion Center.  This week marks the opening of a wonderful chain restaurant at the mall.  It is located where the Cost Plus World Market has been for the past several years.  I was saddened by the closing of that store and many others in the “new” section of the mall which is adjacent to the movie theaters.  I am now hopeful that having the Yard House there will bring more new stores and restaurants to that part of town.

The Yard House is on the Plummer Street side of the mall and the closest parking is near the movie theaters.  Parking is free, but they do provide valet parking.

YARD HOUSE NORTHRIDGE

9301 Tampa Avenue
Northridge, CA 91324
818-721-0085

HOURS OF OPERATION
Open 11:00 am daily

Food Last Call
Sun-Thu 12:30am
Fri-Sat 1am

Alcohol Last Call
Sun-Thu 1am
Fri-Sat 1:20am

The Yard House

The Restaurant

The Yard House has a Facebook Page that has pictures and events posted.  It seems like a great place to work and the staff appear to enjoy being part of a community.  Their online presence makes you feel like a part of something and I liked that.

The service is very good.  I have eaten at the one in Lancaster, CA and I enjoyed it.  I went there for a late dinner with my nephew after a photo shoot.  We drove out of our way to eat there and I was so hungry.  I thought it might be out of my price range that evening and they had a huge menu.  I just wanted a quick bite!  I was pleasantly surprised that they had a late night happy hour!  We ordered and appetizer and sliders.  We also did a sampler of their brews.  Everything was terrific and very affordable!

The Food

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a VIP party at the Yard House in Northridge which preceded a “Soft Opening.”  What does all that mean?  It means free food and drinks!  I had the unique opportunity to try samples of many of the menu items as well as awesome full size cocktails from the bar.  I want to thank the Yard House and their marketing team for having this event.  I was so pleased to be able to share with my online community by Tweeting and posting pictures to Instagram about the event.  This is why bloggers are invited and a friend from my So Cal Lady Bloggers group on Facebook was nice enough to include me.

As soon as I walked in the door, servers were offering me samples of food which were served in bite sized portions on small plates.  Here is what I got to try:

  • FIRECRACKER WINGS boneless chicken, tossed in a spicy sesame garlic plum glaze garnished with green onions, the
  • BLUE CRAB CAKES with mango papaya chutney, passion fruit beurre blanc and tomato oil
  • SHIITAKE GARLIC NOODLES tossed with butter, garlic & shiitake mushrooms, topped with parmesan & chives
  • GINGER CRUSTED NORWEGIAN SALMON wasabi mashed potatoes, snow peas, carrots and spicy peanut vinaigrette topped with fried carrot strings
  • MINI CREME BRULEE with vanilla bean custard and chocolate topped with caramelized bananas

My son (who was graciously my “plus one”) and I made our way through the very large restaurant and found an open table outside on the spacious patio.  It was drizzling but there were large umbrellas over all the tables and powerful heaters so we were very comfortable outside.  Our server, Sean, came by and asked if he could bring us anything and took our drink orders.  He answered our questions and made us feel right at home.  He brought me my first of the two free drinks that were included for the VIP event.

Here are the drinks that I tried from the Specialty Drink Menu:

  • ESCALADE MARGARITA 1800 silver tequila, cointreau, hpnotiq, sweet & sour, fresh lime & orange, sugar rim
  • SOUTHERN BELLE jeremiah weed sweet tea vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries and pineapple
  • MOJITO cruzan citrus rum or traditional |  mango • pomegranate • strawberry

I give the Yard House in Northridge an A+!  Everything was wonderful!  I really liked the Margarita.  I didn’t finish the Southern Belle because it was too fruity and sweet for me.  Sean offered me something else to try and I asked for the Mojito.  Also a bit sweet, I added some water and ice and it was perfect.

The music they played was fantastic, I loved it because it was mostly 80’s music and I thought I must fit the demographic for this place perfectly!  My teenage son enjoyed the TV screens all around (yes, even on the patio.)  When the event was over and we had finished our second serving of the Banana Creme Brulee, Sean told us that we could stay and were welcome to order off the menu if we wanted to pay for a meal or any more drinks.  We decided to take a look at the menu.

The Confession(s)

Confession #1, I ate too much!  I tried all of those samples and because they were mini versions I felt like I had eaten a small amount.  I realized that I was full just about the time our entrees arrived!

Confession #2, I drank too much!  I didn’t drink all three drinks, but they were full size drinks with a lot of alcohol and fruit.  Too sweet for me being a Diabetic.  My bad!  Slap my hand, please!  I should have had a glass of wine.  The Yard House has a great big menu with lots of choices, an extensive wine list and a beer menu.  They also have a FRESH & SKINNY drink menu!  The next time I go there, I will be sure to try a cocktail from that menu.  The Yard House caters to an eclectic crowd and has specialty menues to serve any taste.  In addition to the “skinny” drink choices, there are full menues for the vegan, the gluten sensitive, the health conscious, the gourmet and even kids!

My son and I enjoyed the foods we tried.  Here is what we ordered from the menu:

  • (MAC + CHEESE)2 chicken breast, applewood bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar, parmesan, campanelle pasta and truffle oil
  • CHICKEN ENCHILADA STACK pasilla peppers, garlic cream, jack cheese, corn tortillas, pinto beans, tomatillo, red chili sauce and sour cream

Luckily, Dan (our second awesome server, yes we were there for a long time!) brought us a “doggie bag” to take home our left overs!

My nicely packaged left overs
My nicely packaged left overs
Melissa Reyes Miz Meliz http://mizmeliz.com
Miz Meliz Likes It!
With two yummy sauces "you could drink"
With two yummy sauces “you could drink”
A Juicy Mojito goes well with the Enchilada!
A Juicy Mojito goes well with the Enchilada!
photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2012 Yard House #MizMeliz http://mizmeliz.com
The food samples were awesome!
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Movie Reviews

What Do You Want? “Playing for Keeps” Movie

#mizmeliz giveaway passes for screening in Los Angeles via http://mizmeliz.com @mizmeliz

Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid star in “Playing For Keeps,” a romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Butler) who returns home to put his life back together. Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boy’s soccer team. But his attempts to finally become an “adult” are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive “soccer moms” who pursue him at every turn.


Playing For Keeps” is directed by Gabriele Muccino, the director of “The Pursuit of Happynesss.”

This sounds like a great flick!  Maybe a Date Night or Girl’s Night Out Movie.  I can’t wait to see it!  AND I want to offer you a chance to see an advance screening!

Join me at a special advance screening of Film District’s new movie, PLAYING FOR KEEPS  in Los Angeles on Thursday, December 6th.   The screening will take place at AMC Century City at 7:30 PM.

Here is how it works:  the first ten people who reply in the comments with the correct answer to my Miz Meliz Movie Question will get the code to access the free pass!

You should arrive by 7:00PM to redeem your screening passes.

The Miz Meliz Movie Question is:

What is a movie or TV series that Dennis Quaid is in? Put your  answer to the question in the comments. (That is it! It’s so easy! I know!)

Just respond in the comments with a correct answer and you are a winner!

I will send you a confirmation email with instructions on how to get your movie passes. Just be sure that before you answer, you can actually attend the screening. You must provide your own transportation. You must be available to go to the screening in Los Angeles, CA on December 6th and you and your guest must be able to arrive by 7:00 PM.

Good luck!  I can’t wait to review this movie and get your reactions to it!

Even if you can’t see the movie on the 6th, let me know what you think of the film if you see it.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Tell me, what do you want?

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas

If you get a chance, you must go the Hofbrauhaus in Las Vegas!  I went there recently and I had a blast!  It was so much fun!

The Location

Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas
4510 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89169

This is what the front page of their website claims. . .

“As an exact replica of the legendary Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany, we take great pride in giving you an experience as authentic and unforgettable as the 400-year-old original. From the traditional Beer Hall bursting with nightly live entertainment, to the tree-lined Beer Garden, everything has a bold touch of Bavaria you won’t forget any time soon.”


I know I won’t forget my experience any time soon!  Located across the street from The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the Hofbrauhaus has been rockin’ the house in Vegas since 2004.  This is what I was thinking as I was waiting to get in to this exciting place that had so many unknowns to me. . .  as I was watching people enter the restaurant in full German costume, yes, men were arriving dressed in lederhosen and women dressed in dirndl . . . I noticed that they seemed to be getting in right away.  They didn’t work there.  Maybe they had reservations. Hmmm, what did they know that I did not know?  Do you get a free drink if you dress up?  Was it dress up night on Saturday nights?  What is the catch?  Where are the cameras?  Were they getting punked? I later scoured the website and newsletter and found absolutely no mention of perks for dressing up.  Either these people dressed that way to enhance their dining experience or they were coming there straight from Germany (or a convention, perhaps?) It didn’t matter, because it did enhance my experience!  I loved it!

I found out later that people dress up for OktoberfestOktoberfest is a 16-day festival celebrating beer held annually  in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It was well past that time period when I was at the Hofbrauhaus, so I figure, it is always Oktoberfest there!  Why not?

The Restaurant

There was a very long wait but it was well worth it.  During the long wait, I looked at everything they sold at the gift shop.  There were lots of cute things to buy.  I tried on all the funny hats and pointed out all the sexy aprons and other fun things to my hubby.  I found it extremely Vegas style touristy and borderline cooky, but some friends that were waiting with us said it is EXACTLY like the Hofbrauhaus in Germany, including the gift shop.  There is also a bar in the waiting area so folks can start drinking as they wait.  I think the seating system and waiting area should be considered the 8th Wonder of the World because somehow they filter thousands of people through the front doors of the Hofbrauhaus every night.  There is one way in and one way out.  Everyone must go past the gift shop, just like Disneyland.  (Smart people.  We dropped another $35 on our way out and we bought one glass and lots of chocolate.)

I could hardly wait to get in!  Every time the door would swing open, I could hear music and singing.  At one point they were singing the National Anthem and everyone was standing on their seats and singing!  I was standing on my tippy toes to see into the main dining room.  I wanted to be where the action was.  I was also a little nervous that this crowd was going to be too rowdy.  Yes, even too rowdy for me! I was looking forward to trying some authentic German food.  What if I couldn’t see the menu?  What if I couldn’t hear the waiter?  I wanted to be able to ask questions and enjoy my meal.  And, by the way, I was really getting hungry!  Let me in!

The music was pumping throughout the whole building and got louder every time the doors opened.  People were singing along.  They were songs that I knew.  I wanted to be inside with a beer in hand, singing along.  Eventually, our party was called and we were taken inside.  We walked through the entire length of the first room, which was the Beer Hall, passed through a center area where they were roasting nuts and where the kitchen and restrooms were, then we were led to a huge patio area which was the indoor Beer Garden, that had about ten times the dining capacity as the main room.  This place was ginormous.  As we got further and further away from the action, I was saddened and relieved.  I wasn’t going to be standing on my chair singing at the top of my lungs with the rowdiest crowd in Las Vegas, but hey – I wasn’t going to be standing on top of my chair singing at the top of my lungs with the rowdiest crowd in Vegas!  I could eat and enjoy and ask questions.

I still drank a giant beer and sang out loud.  I was able to watch everything that was going on around me (there was a lot going on, more on that in a moment) and see what was happening in the Beer Hall on large screen TVs.  While I was waiting for my meal, I watched a stein holding contest.  Yes, it was a contest to see who could hold the one litre stein of beer the longest with one hand outstretched in front of them.  The winner got a $500 gift certificate to the Hofbrauhaus.  There was some stiff competition and I was amazed at how long some of the non-muscular people stayed in.  It did end up between a few Marine looking guys with big muscular arms whose veins in their necks looked like they were going to pop before they would let one drop of their beer spill much less drop their full stein!  I held a mini-contest at my table, and I was the winner!  (I think I was near the bottom of my stein by that point!)

The Food

For starters, I shared a Jumbo Complete– Giant pretzel served with “Obazter” cheese, sweet mustard, and onion mustard.  Yummy!

The beer I drank was the “bottom-fermented lager” made especially for Oktoberfest, called Hofbräu Oktoberfest.  It is said that this crisp beer is historically made with a higher than usual alcohol content and is brewed from pure water, the best quality malt and exquisite hops.  I am not much of a beer person, although I have tried many over the years.  This was very good.

I tried the Jägerschnitzel – Pork Cutlet “Hunter Style” topped with creamy Mushroom Sauce, Bacon and Onions, served with Spätzle (special German Noodles) and Cranberries.  It was amazing!  If I wasn’t full from the litre of beer that I drank by the time the food arrived, I would have eaten every last bite.  Trust me, I tried.  Everyone at my table loved the foods that they tried.  Everything was authentic and cooked by German chefs and was quite enjoyable.

Now for the confession. . .

I swear I did not participate in this, but I am guilty for watching and getting a “kick” out of it!  At the Hofbrauhaus, if you buy a shot of Jager, it is served to you by a Jager Girl (or boy) who spanks you with a paddle after you drink it.  In case you are not familiar with this practice and think you read that wrong, I will repeat it.  They spank you on the bottom with a paddle when you drink a shot of Jager at the Hofbrahaus.  And everyone watches and cheers you on!

Again, I scoured the Hofbrauhaus website looking for mention of this practice and could find none.  Was this another German Oktoberfest “thing” like the Chicken Dance, that everyone knows but doesn’t know how or why it started?  I wanted to know more.  I found this bit of information in the blog for the OktoberfestHaus ,which is an online store for everything related to Oktoberfest.  I found out that the spanking part is an American thing.  In fact, it is a Vegas thing.  What can I say?  I think it’s best to leave it at that and say nothing!

Please don’t tell me if you get spanked at the Hofbrauhaus, but let me know if you go there!  I hope you have as much fun (or more) than I did!

http://mizmeliz.com review of the Inn at the Seventh Ray, My Culinary Confessions
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Inn at the Seventh Ray

I can’t say enough about how wonderful I think the Inn at the Seventh Ray is.  I am glad that after all these years it is still a top notch restaurant.  The reviews are all impressive and their reputation has withstood the test of time.

I love to tell people my story of going there with my hubby when we were just dating and thinking he was going to propose to me when he gave me a beautiful little box to open on my birthday.  It was a lovely pair of crystal earrings from the shop at the restaurant, The Spiral Staircase.  Disappointed and wondering if our relationship would ever progress, I ate my very garlicy shrimp scampi silently.  Lucky for me, my relationship and the restaurant have flourished since then!

Recently, I asked my friend, Holly to have dinner with me.  We hadn’t gone out in a few weeks and we wanted to catch up with each other.  I was thinking sushi, when she suggested The Inn at the Seventh Ray.  “Yes!”  I said enthusiastically!  I just got paid and it will be quiet and something different.  I totally deserve a nice night out with my friend.

When I told my hubby that is where we were going, his voice went up an octave  “The Inn at the Seventh Ray?”  I think he wanted to join us, and I said, “Yep,” gave him a kiss, and happily skipped out the door.  I didn’t invite him because it was a girl’s night.  If he wants to take me there again, he can invite me!  (I’m still a little bitter about the almost-proposal after 22 years, I think.)

The Location

Nestled in the center of Topanga Canyon, the Inn at the Seventh Ray is on Old Topanga Canyon Road.  There is self parking around the area of the restaurant.  There are steps down to the seating area.  The tables are mostly outdoors.  There are heaters everywhere, so do not worry about getting a chill.  There are larger tables under a large canopy that feels like a gazebo.  Tables for two and four are located along the side of a small brook.  Even though the brook was completely dry at this time of year, there was the babbling sound of water from the fountain under the canopy.  The ambiance of this dimly lit five-star restaurant is elegant and romantic.

The Restaurant

The Inn at the Seventh Ray is well-known for its exceptional organic food.  They used to have a Sunday brunch that was out of this world.  I have been to a wedding there once and it may have been because I was pregnant at the time, but I had the most Heavenly salmon mousse that I will never forget! I read up on the current head chef, Bradley Miller. I expected to have a delightful meal and I was not disappointed.

The Food

Here is my confession, I don’t like to eat red meat.  I didn’t even expect to find red meat at the Inn at the Seventh Ray because at one time I had heard it was completely vegan.  But there is one thing that my mouth waters for, beef short ribs.  I love pork ribs, too.  But I recently had my mother-in-law’s short ribs and they were so good, when I read the description on the menu, I knew I was going to order it!  And, I digress, I had them again on Thursday at Grandma Kim’s.  Beef.  Me.  Three times in one week!  But nothing compared to the beef short rib at the Inn at Seventh Ray!

I had the Miso Braised Short Rib with Kimchi, Smoked Shiitake Mushrooms, Fingerling Potato, and Wagyu Jerky.  The rib meat was delicate, fall off the bone, tender, and divine.  I almost barked at Holly when she asked for a taste.  Of course she wanted to taste it, she is a chef and my best friend and part of what we do when we go out together is share things. But, I would have growled at anyone who came near my plate at that moment.  I must admit, I didn’t even try the fingerling potatoes or the jerky.  I was full from Maggie’s Farm Greens ( a large salad of Organic Baby Greens, Spiced Walnuts, Fig Crouton and Lemon Thyme Vinagrette) and the amazing appetizer we had shared, it was a Smoked Yellowtail Spread with Radish, Red Onion, Smoked Sea Salt, on Grilled French Bread and a Tabasco Pipettel.  We ate every last bit of that spread!  It was so yummy!

My meal was worth every penny and I have no regrets.  Being that I have no reasonable excuse to spend this amount of money on dinner, it wasn’t a birthday or an anniversary, tells you that I regard having dinner with my best friend pretty high up there!  It wasn’t outrageous and I will justify by saying that I might have spent the same amount on sushi, some Saki and a few Saporros, just saying! With a glass of Shiraz, my meal topped off at about $75.  The experience. . . priceless!

http://mizmeliz.com review of the Inn at the Seventh Ray, My Culinary Confessions
My dinner at the Inn at the Seventh Ray
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Movie Reviews

Movie Review – The Sessions

The Sessions is a movie with a sweet story based on the life of Mark O’Brien and his experiences.  It’s not a first date movie.  See it with a friend or your hubby.  It’s a great conversation starter!  Not so much dinner conversation though!

The movie stars William H. Macy, John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.  It was written and directed by Ben Lewin and was a winner at the Sundance Film Festival.  The Sessions was based on an article written by Mark O’Brien called, “Seeking a Sex Surrogate.”  Having been paralyzed as a child with Polio, he was in a unique situation and he went to extreme measures to experience one of life’s most mystifying pleasures.

The screenplay was well written and I found this poignant story touching and gracefully portrayed.  However well acted and directed, some of the scenarios were a little unrealistic and confusing.  I enjoyed each of the characters and loved all the little nuances  that came through the acting building upon each other until the final realization that it was the reciprocation of true love that Mark was seeking.  True love complete with a burning desire may have been what was missing from his life when he sought after sexual satisfaction.

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Be prepared to see a lot of Helen Hunt in this movie.  (Literally.) Also, set any religious predispositions aside.  Body issues and religious convictions are covered in this film.  This story reminded me of how all people need physical love, even babies when they are sick have a higher rate of recovery when they are held.  Go hug someone, it will be good for both of you!

Cinéphile Miz Meliz Rating

Category: Chick Flick

Cinematography: B+

Acting: A

Music/Score: B

Directing: A

Oscar Nod? Quite Possible!

Date Worthy? Yes, but not a first date!

DVD or Netflix Worthy? Definitely!

Note:  I saw this film at a pre-screening that was open to the public, I was not paid or compensated in any way to review this film, nor was I asked to review it.  My opinions are my own. The photo is used by permission and was sent to me for use on my blog to promote the opening of the film.

http:mizmeliz.com My Culinary Confessions Food Lab Miz Meliz
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Food + Lab

First off, if I am writing about it, I liked it.  I don’t write bad reviews.  If an experience was poor, I will tell the manager and/or owner.  Hopefully it will help them to improve.  I had a great experience at Food + Lab and I want to tell you about it!

I went to Food Lab yesterday for lunch with my friend, Holly.  It was Holly’s choice and I had never heard of the place or been there before.  Holly had seen it and wanted to try it but had never been there either.  Holly is a chef, so I enjoy going out to eat with her.  She knows her stuff!  I can ask her anything.  She is discriminating about food and restaurants, understandably so, and she has a love of food that I can appreciate.  Yesterday was fun!

The Location

Food + Lab is on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. They have another location in Silverlake and they do catering.  There is parking in back.  They have a few sidewalk tables on the street side, seating indoors and a lovely patio in back.  We sat in the patio.

The Restaurant

I really liked what I saw at the Food Lab!  I was impressed with the lunch menu and I wanted to try everything!  You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table.  There is a case of cold salads and the kitchen is visible.  They have shelves of candy and nuts that they prepare and package there.  Everything is in little tubs and bottles and I thought it was clever, food and a lab.  I get it!  The counter service was helpful and charming.  Everything was clean and inviting.  I ate my share (plus one or two) of the sample chocolate covered fruit and nuts while I ordered and waited for my receipt.  Yum!

The Food

I really did want to try everything!  The first thing on the lunch menu sounded amazing to me,  ORGANIC CURRIED CHICKEN WITH LINGONBERRY CHUTNEY ON RAISIN WALNUT.  OMG.  My mouth was watering.  I always like to read the whole menu before I decide.  It was a good thing I did.  Because after reading about the TURKEY BREAST WITH BRIE, PEAR, and HONEY, the CUBAN STYLE PORK LOIN, GRUYERE, HAM, PICKLES & MUSTARD ON CIABATTA, and the SMOKED SALMON WITH CREME FRAICHE, CUCUMBER & LIME ZEST ON WHEAT, I saw it all the way at the bottom of the menu.  I will admit, I am a sucker for grilled cheese.  Any grilled cheese.  My brother makes the best.  I make the second best.  I died and went to Heaven when I tried the “Brie Melt” from The Grilled Cheese Truck (it comes with Double Cream Brie, Bourbon Chicken, Maple-glazed Yams, and Candied Walnuts on Rosemary Bread.)   So, I had to try this . . .

GRILLED CHEESE: GRUYERE, TALLEGIO & RACLETTE ON 5 GRAIN W. CARAMALIZED ONION & GRAINY MUSTARD!

It was amazing!  I must confess, I was talking so much with Holly that I only got one bite in when it was warm and gooey.  It had just enough of the rind from the brie in it to suit my taste, but Holly didn’t like that.  It was heavy on the carmelized onion, which was fine with me!  The five-grain bread was sliced thin and lightly toasted to perfection.  The grainy mustard was served on the side, which made me happy.  I didn’t end up trying it with the mustard, it was so good and I talked so much, I forgot.  I ate half of the sandwich there and took the other half home.

The salad we tried was off menu, it was chopped kale with shredded cheese.  I thought it was yummy and had a nice zest to it.  It was very fresh and colorful.  It was a good pair with my sandwich.  Holly had a chicken sandwich with a buffalo sauce on a ciabatta (I think, because I didn’t see this on the menu) that I tasted.  It was good, just enough spice for me.  But nothing prepared me for the experience I had yet to come.

I took the long way home on my trek back to the Valley from Hollywood.  While I was driving through the canyon, I reached over and opened the little Food + Lab box that I had on the passenger seat.  I reached in and grabbed a quarter of my sandwich.  It was surprisingly warm from sitting in the sun, I guess.  Just a bit warmer than room temp.  So, the cheese was a good consistency and was just a bit chewy.  To my delight, just a smidge of the grainy mustard had grazed the side of the crust.  I took the perfect bite.  In my mouth danced all the flavors that had been marinating together in that box.  I was blown away by the sweetness of the carmelized onions, the creaminess of the brie and other cheeses glued together, the tanginess of the mustard and the nuttiness of the seeds in the bread (reminiscent of pine nuts) and the way everything melted in my mouth was like rich butter.  I savored every last bite of that sandwich on my ride home through the canyon. Those flavors enhanced an otherwise perfect sunshiny top down ride on my favorite road!  It was so unexpected and thoroughly sinful!

http:mizmeliz.com MyCulinaryConfessions Food+Lab MizMeliz

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

My Bloggy Bootcamp – Survival Guide

I Survived My Bloggy Bootcamp!

I have been to conferences and networking events before, but nothing quite like this.  Calling upon my past experiences and from what I gathered from my Facebook blogging group’s advice (seasoned bootcampers like Carolyn West/This Talk Aint Cheap told me some stories) I planned ahead.   I am glad I did!  I got everything out of the event that I hoped for and much more!

My Objectives

*Get seen and known . . . Make A Splash!
*Meet Bloggers from So Cal Lady Bloggers Group . . . make a genuine connection.
*Meet influential Bloggers . . . make an impression.

My Tools

Armed with new business cards (complete with all of the necessary components that a blogger/writer/life coach/event planner should have including my Twitter handle, associations and a cute photo of myself,) I set out to meet everyone I could and have some fun doing it!  Before I left for Las Vegas, I took a list of So Cal Lady Bloggers that planned to attend this conference, I added pictures and blog names and I printed it on both sides of an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of card stock.  I put a nice stack of business cards, a few sharpies, and my folded up list in a wristlet purse.

My “List”

My Plan

My plan was to check off each lady as I met her.  Rather than just putting a check by each name, I asked my new friend to sign her name by her picture.  It was so much fun asking for autographs and it made each blogger feel like a star!

(I love it when things work out!)  I carried my wristlet everywhere I went and made sure to swap business cards at every opportunity.  I smiled at everyone, everywhere I went, even outside the conference in the hotel, just in case they were a blogger, too.  I noticed that most of the people were smiling back and having a good time.  I am usually a little reserved at these things (believe it or not!) and I stay to myself.  This time I was determined to make the most of the time and meet people.

Mrs. Wonder from Sunshine Wonderland

Another important part of my plan was to learn about blogging.  Afterall, that is what I signed up for!  Part of my strategy was making sure that I did not share a room.  As much as I would have loved to save money, have a bloggy companion, and have tons of fun – my objective was to learn.  I know that if I don’t have a quiet place to reflect and process, much of what I learn would have stayed in Vegas.  In this case, I did not want that to happen.  Although my hubby was with me, I was still able to have space to spread out all my stuff, be alone with my thoughts, bounce ideas off an objective (however imprisoned) supporter, and have quiet time to write my notes.

My stuff on my bed in my room at my bloggy bootcamp!

I took a composition style notebook and a pen to take my notes, as advised by the SITS Girls who put on Bloggy Boot Camp.  It was good advice because I didn’t want to have to worry about my laptop, battery life and WiFi connection the whole time.  I noted key points that I wanted to remember during the fabulous speakers’ presentations.  I wrote my reflections for this post.  I took down some awesome quotes.  I am glad I wrote them in my notebook, because my cell battery did die and I couldn’t tweet out some of the epiphanies I had.

I took some great pics that I Instagrammed and hashtagged.  I tweeted.  I shared.  Next time, I will bring a separate camera because I missed some amazing “Kodak Moments” when my phone died.  I noticed a few bloggers used their phone to take pics of the slides on the screen during the presentations.  What a brilliant idea!  Why didn’t I think of that?  That’s one to remember for next time to really cut down on note taking.

What I Learned

The conference, the organizers, the speakers and the sessions were all fantastic!  It was clear and concise.  The information was relevant.  The speakers were well prepared and professional.  I really got what I came for!

I was blown away by the contagious energy and excitement from one of the most successful bloggers around, Laurie Turk/The Tip Junkie.  She shared her Top Ten Blogging Success Tips.  She was so willing to share that it really gave me hope that I can and will increase my SEO. I was so happy with myself that I didn’t have to ask what that was or even look it up!  Search Engine Optimization is something every blogger who wants to increase their readership should know.  Laurie’s tips made it seem attainable.

Cynthia Wheeler/@napwarden spoke to us about Great Blog Design.  If you visit my blog often you may notice I already made a few changes.  She gave terrific advice and if I can afford to get a professionally designed blog, I will know where to go!

The best speaker there was someone I have met personally on a few occasions and was even on my list!  Trina Finton/The Gaming Angel gave an insider’s look at gadgets and apps that all bloggers should know.  There are quite a few apps and programs that I want to try.

I enjoyed the break out session.  I attended the Writer’s Workshop.  It was a small group and set up in an informal discussion.  I received some good tips for bloggers who are writers from Fran Banducci/SITS Girls, Kathy Bouska/MamaKat, and Chelsea Day/Some Day I’ll Learn.  I learned that it is important to “make people want to read what I write” and how to do a “Six Word Memoir.”

My favorite quote from Bloggy Bootcamp Vegas 2012:

“Whatever is on fire, is what gets my attention!” Kathy Bouska

Danielle Liss/Fitfluential gave the bloggers a quick but important overview of the Legal Basics of Blogging.  I was happy that most of what I remember from business law (a favorite class in college) still applies.  Most of the copyright, trademark, contract and licensing rights can be looked up online.  Danielle helped to clear up any blurry issues where blogging is concerned and pointed out how to get the correct and current information.  That was awesome!

I was enthralled with the final speaker, Elizabeth Jayne Liu/Flourish in Progress who talked about her personal experience with blogging.  She spoke about being authentic and developing a unique voice.  She hit it home for me and made me feel so glad that I am doing this.  She helped me to realize that it is okay to “Speak the way I speak, say what is on my mind,” and to know that “the more I write the more I can get to know myself and become comfortable with myself.”  She is such an inspiration to me!  I couldn’t wait to meet her and I was lucky to get her awesome business card!

What I Will Always Remember

I was inspired by the Tribe.

The sponsors were in on the underlying theme.  I am bangin’ the drum!  We need each other.  I want to thank the sponsors.  Not because they made my experience top-notch, not because it is the right thing to do, but because I can.  I am a blogger and it’s what I do!  Shout out to the sponsors:  Ford Warriors in Pink, Mirassou Winery, and Jewel Kade.

I had the absolute honor to sit next to a truly amazing young Cancer Survivor who is a Warrior in Pink, Tina Herold.  If you know me and have read my posts before you know that I believe there are no accidents.  I was meant to sit next to this angel.  Because of her I am scheduled to get a mammogram this week.  Hugs to Tina!  If you want to be inspired, check out this blog:  http://imwiggedout.com/wiggedouthome.html

All of the ladies that I met at Bloggy Bootcamp were wonderful.  They are just normal people who have a blog.  They are just like me.  We are all Rock Stars!  Mommas, Foodies, Clickertons, Fugalistas, and Adventurers.  Best of all, we like to share, to learn, to embrace and to empower.  Cheers to the bloggers!!

Would you like to read about another time I sat next to an angel?  https://mizmeliz.com/2012/09/03/an-enchanted-evening/

Have you ever sat next to someone who had an inspiring story?  Tell me about it!  Leave me a comment.

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

My Blogging Boot Camp

I’m at my first conference for bloggers. I’m in Las Vegas. I was up until 2 AM last night having fun, but I wasn’t gambling, drinking, or at a show. I was hanging out and talking with my fellow boot campers. It was awesome!

A tip to those bloggers, it’s very dry in the high desert, so bring an extra bottle of water. It’s a great day for straight hair and I am rocking it!

I am excited about today’s speakers and the opportunity to learn from them. I have a lot to learn. I am also thrilled to meet more of the other bloggers and connect IRL (in real life) since I feel like I know them online.

I prepared a cheat sheet with names, blog names, and pics of each of the bloggers from my Facebook Group that I knew would be here. I have already met more than half of them! Maybe it is lack of sleep or because I have not had my morning coffee yet, but I can’t find the words to describe how happy it makes me to be a part of this group and to have their support.

As the name implies, it is Bootcamp and I must report for duty! Here’s to an amazing day!

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