Followers ♥


dear followers,

this news has already been announced to close friends and family members, but i wanted to make sure that you were also well aware of what big changes are about to take place in my life.
first and foremost, i owe a big thank you to each and every one of you for supporting me and reading my words and giving me encouragement over the last year and a half since i've moved across the country.  it means more to me than you know and i appreciate each one of you so much.  when i was home in december, sara asked me to write a guest post on her blog.  i was excited, but initially couldn't think of a thing to write.  she said this to me, "write about being far away from home and your friends and family.  or write about food!  write about anything."  so i decided to explore all three since they all happened to be things that were currently in the front of my mind.  the truth is that i've had a blog post inside of me just bursting to get out for months now--but i wasn't sure how ready i was to uncover everything i wanted to say.  i ended up spilling my guts a little more than i meant to, but in a very vague sort of way.  below is bits and pieces of what i wrote.  this blog was called "the three F's".


there's not really any easy way to explain how hard it is to be so far away from your family.  to me, family not only consists of the three loving souls who supported and nurtured me into being the weirdo that i am today.  my family is also spread up and down the east coast.  from aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandmother in new jersey who adores me enough to mail me sandwiches, to close friends in raleigh who have watched me grow from braces to beers over the past twelve years, to a second family in south carolina who love me like one of their very own.  these are the people that i wish were part of my daily routine, but sometimes life just isn't that easy.  when you go from sharing cheese fries with your closest friends every day, to then only seeing them every couple of holidays--it reminds you to appreciate those special people that much more.  when you go from sharing nightly meals with your parents and your sister to then mapping out your dinners since your time at home is limited--it reminds you to treasure every bite in their presence.  when you go from sharing a recliner with your best friend to having to fly across the country just to give her a hug--you remember to make every simple second together a priceless snapshot that you hold onto when she's far away.


everyone is scared of something.  some of us are afraid of heights, some of us are terrified at the sight of a crab.  
oh. i guess you can't really use that potato metaphor unless you're speaking outloud...
anyway, the point is that all of us have fears, and all of us have our very own way of overcoming them.  i never realized how much i would accomplish in the "getting over my fears" department when i zipped up my suitcases and moved to LA.  i knew that i always wanted to go, and i knew that i had to go--but i never knew that it would bring me so much clarity on so many difficult parts of my life.  i'm not really the kind of person that advocates the idea of diving in head-first when it comes to conquering a fear.  for example, if you're afraid of trying sushi--i wouldn't recommend ordering eel or anything that still appears to be moving.  however, when it comes to actual moving--my strategy was clearly to face my fears head-on.  my entire life, i've been faced with the challenge of homesickness.  and i don't mean the kind that happens in first grade when you have your dad come pick you up from the slumber party.  well, i did that too--but my homesickness continued on into early adulthood, restraining me with anxiety and panic attacks any time i left the comforts of raleigh.  even though my symptoms were at full force pre-cross-country move, i had no other choice but to push myself west and see what happened.  not only have i accomplished more than i can even begin to explain in the homesickness category, but i've found myself growing and changing in ways that i never even thought possible.  i set off on my adventure with a very specific goal as my driving force--but as it turns out, 
things change.  
sometimes you realize that what you thought you wanted so badly may have only been a vehicle to get you where you needed to be to accomplish other goals and cross other bridges.  in this sense, you find yourself in a place of peace.  
you stop trying to count your triumphs, and begin to count your blessings.
you stop being narrow-minded and accusing yourself of changing your original plan, and instead pat yourself on the back for how far you've come.  
so remember--don't just conquer your fears to cross something off of your list, do it because you never know what you might find out about yourself along the way.


coming from a family of foodies, a love for all things eating has been a built-in part of my brain since day one. 
i learned all of the basics and so much more from my dad, and then as time has progressed--my new teaching environment has become a little more virtual.  think of it like this: you watch one 22 minute long cooking show, and probably pick up at least 3-5 tips.  i usually keep food network on twenty four hours of the day, so my brain is constantly absorbing new information, recipes, and cooking methods.  with all of this knowledge bouncing around in my head, i've had no choice but to experiment in my own kitchen.  from strawberry goat cheese bruschetta to spicy homemade chicken chili, i can't get enough of playing with my food. 
the reason i bring this up as one of my f's is because this passion for cooking and food blogging that has recently expanded beyond belief has a lot to do with my move to the other coast.  had i stayed closer to home, i don't believe that i would presently be so in-touch with my kitchen.  i think that had i been surrounded by more familiar things the past year, i wouldn't have turned to cooking--and writing about cooking--as a way to get out my energy.  having so much more alone time has constantly sparked my creativity and allowed this eagerness for food to come bursting through the surface.  it's become more than a hobby--it's developed into a realization that this is something i want to do every day.  once again, moving away has brought up the dilemma of questioning the purposes why i went out there in the first place.  but at the same time, it's reminded me to not be judgmental of myself and just accept the things that make me happy.  maybe part of moving to california was to uncover some hidden talents and enthusiasm for cooking and writing that will lead my life in a new direction

now back to our originally scheduled program...
well...did you figure it out yet?  
either way, keep reading:
i believe that you should do something until it doesn't make sense anymore.  these last seventeen months here have had such a major purpose in my life, but part of me has begun to realize that i may be ready to move on.  i've been feeling the pull to move back to the east coast since last september, but now it feels like everything has fallen into place in my mind. i don't feel like i'm moving "back", i just feel like i'm moving on to the next chapter in my life. i never had any intention to stay out here forever, and i think that's a mistake that a lot of people make. the truth is that i moved out here not only because i wanted to, but because i knew in my heart that i had to. i still have a lot of growing up to do, but taking myself so far out of my comfort zone has really changed my life.

i also know that had i not moved to hollywood, i never would have found this raging passion that i now have for cooking and writing.  it's funny how you find something when you didn't even realize that you were looking for it.  i know that i want a career where i get to be around food, so i have every intention of finally starting a catering business--which has been in the back of my mind for as long as i can remember.  don't worry--i'm not giving up on acting or improv or any of those things that put me in front of an audience.  i've always felt like i was put on this earth to be in front of people and touch them in some way.  
i always related "being in front of people" to acting and playing somebody else, but this year i've come to realize that i can still inspire people and make them laugh by simply just being myself.
(somewhere--my mom is clapping right now)
well i might as well say the word:
yes. wilmington, north carolina.  

 also known as the next chapter in my life--or chapter three as i like to call it.  i spent over twenty years in raleigh, a year and a half in hollywood, and now i'm ready for whatever is next.  olive and i will be making a pit stop back to koupela drive so that i can secure a job and an apartment in wilmington--but that will just be short-term while i recollect my pieces and prepare for yet another move.  i know many of you may be wondering why i'm not prolonging my life on the the west coast, but like i said--i never had any intention of living here forever.  i just knew that i wanted to do it at some point in my life.  so i did.  and now i'm ready to move on.  i've made incredible friends out here and experienced the glitz and glamor, and the ups and downs of living in this city of lights all by myself.  california was an amazing ride, but i always knew it wouldn't be a permanent home.  let's be honest--i'm expecting the worst from outsiders.  i'm expecting to hear things like "you're giving up".  however, i believe with all of my heart that the people closest to me will support me and encourage me and know that i'm not giving up on anything, i'm just following my heart and seeing where it takes me.  

i have to do what's best for myself, and right now that means taking everything i've learned over the last year and a half and moving forward with my life.  yes, this does mean that the raleighwood to hollywood blog will come to a close--but that opens up space for a brand new blog!  i'll keep you posted on that.  i'm blessed to have all of you in my life who have stood by me and supported me along this life-changing, eye-opening journey, but don't worry--this isn't where it stops.  my eyes are still full of stars and my stomach is still full of butterflies with the excitement of knowing how many ways i still plan to make my mark on the world.


larchmont bungalow
...a review!

of the thousands of restaurants in los angeles, larchmont bungalow is one i've been dying to go to ever since the first time i passed by the quaint little building about a year ago.  i had wandered in there to snag a menu, but just never found myself back in that part of town to grab a bite to eat.  the area of larchmont village is charming with endless coffee shops and places for a quick lunch, but something about larchmont bungalow truly grabs your attention and draws you in.  the inside is warm and welcoming and the decor makes you feel like you've stepped out of good-old-sketchy los angeles and into a one-of-a-kind eatery in a far away suburban town.  the menu is eclectic and colorful with more than enough options to choose from.  although they don't serve alcohol--which can be a bit of a downer for a dinnertime spot--it's the kind of place that makes you want to order an iced green tea, not a gin and tonic.  i went with a group of friends and we played the family-style ordering game so that each person could try a little bit of everything.  

for my choice, i decided to go with an item that i know can be challenging to pull off.  most of us have had our share of dry turkey burgers, so it's always a great find to locate one with not just juiciness, but flavor and texture as well.  this turkey burger also happened to be stuffed with caramelized apples, sauteed onions, and brie cheese.  you could stuff those things into a fax machine and it would still make a delicious meal--but i was still curious about how the actual meat would turn out.


to my delight, the burger not only had a great charred flavor and beautiful grill marks--but the meat was moist and certainly not lacking in flavor.  the brioche bun was the perfect vehicle for the burger because despite it's fluffy, buttery soft inside--it still held up wonderfully under this monster of a burger.

i also was curious to sample the seafood chowder, as i had heard great things about it.  had i not ordered a burger and been sampling a handful of other things, i could have easily finished off a bowl of this soup.  it was light, yet still rich--and most importantly, FULL of lobster.  the textures and flavors worked together perfectly.  i couldn't ask for a better chowder.

my friend ordered the honey cilantro lime grilled chicken sandwich--which is
honey-glazed chicken breast topped with fresh salsa verde, roasted red pepper, jalepeno, jack cheese, and avocado on focaccia.  the flavors of the sandwich were excellent and the focaccia bread paired extremely well with the smoky and spicy flavors.  my only criticism about the sandwich was that the half i tried had VERY little chicken and mostly consisted of the toppings.  my friend said that her half had a nice thick piece of chicken, so i must have just gotten the thinner end of the sandwich.  as for the flavors--they all worked together nicely.  the sweet potato fries were pretty average as sweet potato fries go.  i'm a big fan of places who do a little something extra like brown sugar--but regardless, i had no complaints about these.

even though all of us at the table were meat eaters, we wanted to make sure we got to sample some of their vegan fare.  i'm not a big fan of tempeh or tofu--as i just happen to love the taste of chicken--but i will say that this "faux chicken" was better than some i've had in the past.  the tostados were portioned nicely and the dish itself was tall and eye-catching.  the pico de gallo was definitely homemade and added a great acidic bite.  i'm not a huge fan of the texture of tempeh, but the flavors were excellent and if i was a vegan--i probably could have devoured this entire plate.

the star of the night was of course the red and blue velvet pancakes--which is one of larchmont bungalow's signature dishes.  these were absolutely to die for.  let's put it this way--we all said we would have one forkful just to try it, and instead we were practically fighting over the last bite.  this dish was a highlight for me for two reasons.  first, the texture was fantastic.  these "pancakes" are crispy on the outside, but soft and fluffy like a cake on the inside.  second, the cream cheese spread was one of the best i've ever had.  sometimes cream cheese frosting or spread can be overpowering or tooth-achingly sweet, but this one had just enough tang and vanilla flavor that it paired perfectly with the fluffy pancakes.  you would think this dish wouldn't even require a touch of syrup, but the caramel notes from the warm maple syrup are really what put it over the top.


larchmont bungalow--i will CERTAINLY be back for a bowl of chowder and my very own plate of your pancakes.