So There's That

the writer meets the photographer

The Simple Kitchen: Valentines Day at Home

Written by and Photography by Charla in Celebrations, The Simple Kitchen

What do you do on Valentine’s Day? Go out to dinner and wait for an hour behind a dozen Valentines couples? Go on a first date and bask in the awkwardness? Lament (or revel) in your singlehood? Have a party with a big group of friends? In any circumstance, Valentine’s Day probably more than any other holiday is a minefield of weird choices, emotional roller-coasters and big expectations that no one – single, not single – can uphold. So what do you do about it? Why, cook some food of…read more

Introducing: “Travel Where You Live”

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel where you live

“We travel to faraway places because we expect holidays, recovery, adventure and new experiences. But is that always necessary?” Sometime after I graduated college and entered the real world, I learned that my sister once woke up from a bad dream where she saw me slaving endlessly in a tiny space, working for faceless bosses and unable to live a life of family, friends and much else. Little did she know – little did I know – that I would in fact spend many of the following years realizing that nightmare,…read more

Charla’s 40th Birthday Celebration

Written by and Photography by Juliana Kissinger in Celebrations

“I don’t really like sweets,” Charla said. “You can just skip the birthday cake.” She skillfully ignored my disbelieving look and started talking about Spanish food again. Really? No cake with candles? Not even cupcakes? Cookies? Flan? She was unimpressed. I had a problem. Charla’s birthday was a few weeks away and I was in charge of planning it. Not just any birthday – her fortieth. Can I say that word publicly? After all, several years ago a career mentor once said to me, “you need to start lying about…read more

The most wonderful time of year for… Holiday Photos!

Written by and Photography by Charla in Celebrations

Halloween and Thanksgiving are safely behind us, here just one week into December, so you are legally permitted to play Christmas music if that is your thing. It is the most wonderful time of year, they say, and in fact it is a wonderful time for that holiday tradition: photos for your holiday cards to send to your friends and family. The thought of taking holiday photos might fill everyone with dread: toddlers, teenagers, parents, grandparents, the photographer. Who needs the stress of kids in full meltdown, family members not…read more

Yard Wine | Welcome to the Neighborhood

Written by and Photography by Charla in Long Beach, Wine & Dine

Several months ago, before I moved from the action-packed streets of Long Beach’s Belmont Shore to this quiet neighborhood in Belmont Heights, I got out of my car outside Charla’s apartment and saw a skinny dog running loose in the empty nighttime street. But it was a little too skinny, a little too skittish. A woman who lives in the corner house walked outside to shoo it away but the coyote just watched her and me, unimpressed. Then it turned and walked away. Still, the neighbor and I bonded over…read more

Ají Peruvian Cuisine

Written by and Photography by Charla in Wine & Dine

Making responsible choices is difficult when one is hungry. Charla and I were starved one evening and facing a kid-free date night without thought of where to go other than our favorite standbys. As so often happens in this neighborhood, two of Charla’s friends rode by on their bikes and recommended Ají Peruvian on Long Beach’s Fourth Street, and then rode off again. I am not making this up. This kind of casual connection with people has not been a part of my experience since college, only now it is…read more

Salad + Homemade Dressing | The Simple Kitchen

Written by and Photography by Charla in The Simple Kitchen

An easy, fast and tasty idea in The Simple Kitchen is basic salad dressing. Forget everything you know about those afterthought salads with something bottled. Put aside your awkward worries about of dinner guests who devour your barbeque but barely touch your salad. Instead, think of salad as the main attraction. When your guests eat more salad than main course, your dinner party is a success! Even serve a one-course meal of just a big salad with whatever you find laying around in the fridge. What makes it come together?…read more

Mercat de Sant Josep de La Boqueria, Barcelona

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria lies in the heart of Barcelona, next to the Rambla, a major pedestrian street that is central to the city’s identity. “La Boqueria” is a traditional marketplace. It existed before supermarkets, before Trader Joes, before car-focused suburbs. They still exist in much of Europe and Latin America, a central place to buy your food from different vendors located in the center of your city or town. La Boqueria is a daily ritual or shopping, eating and connecting with your community and its…read more

Catalonia, Spain: Now what?

Written by and Photography by Charla in Travel

At summer’s end of 2014, the voters in Scotland soundly rejected a proposal to split off from the United Kingdom and become their own country. Barely a week before that vote, polls showed the “yes” vote – in favor of separation – opening an unexpected lead ahead of the “no” vote – against separation from the UK. The whole world was watching, but few more than Barcelona. Fear ran rampant in London while the global press widely reported on the giddy anticipation of Scots who were about to welcome the…read more

Introducing: The Simple Kitchen

Written by and Photography by Charla in The Simple Kitchen

Many years ago in college, I got my hands on my mom’s yellowed copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, published in 1961 by Julia Child, and I would avoid studying to instead spend hours reading through it. This got me into the habit of reading recipe books with full color photos of food, plated and ready to eat. This is a bad idea when hungry. My favorite chapters from French Cooking were the basics: Stocks, sauces, chopping, roasting, sauteing. Any good meal is the sum of its parts:…read more