Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Anniversary


Five years ago, December 17, 2006, I woke up all nervous and giddy.  My sister and I escaped the chaos of my apartment, which was filled with bridesmaids and flowers to make a Starbucks run.  She made sure I at least ate a bagel, since my nerves were killing my appetite, and we all got ready for the biggest day in my life.  That sounds so cliché, but it really was the biggest day in my life: my wedding day. It’s that day that every little girl dreams about.  And it was finally here.  There were no movie moments of final nerves or last minute second-guesses.  I was just excited to be spending the rest of my life with my best friend.  I will never forget the look on his face as I walked down the aisle, or how my hands shook as my dad passed me off to my future husband.  People are often down on big weddings, but I truly loved every moment of mine – maybe it’s because we are theatre people, so we’re used to putting on big productions.  Or maybe it’s just because I’d been warned so many times that it all becomes a blur, so I tried really hard to sit back and take stock every now and then and remember each moment.  Regardless, it really was a great day!

To commemorate our five-year anniversary (can you believe it’s been that long?), Aaron and I decided to revisit the places we celebrated.  We started by driving out to Malibu and visiting the chapel at Pepperdine where we got married.  How many people can say that they got married on a cliff in Malibu overlooking the ocean? 

The weather was eerily reminiscent of the Saturday before our wedding – cold and grey.  Fortunately for us, it poured rain the day before our wedding, clearing the skies so you could see all the way out to Catalina!  Not so this year, but that’s ok. It was just fun seeing that skyline again.




After visiting the chapel, we had lunch at La Salsa in Malibu, which had been a favorite of ours while I was in law school at Pepperdine.  Then we drove further down the coast to Santa Monica and got massages.  Massages are a rare indulgence for us, but I will say it was a most welcome indulgence this year!

After that we had dinner at the location of our reception in Marina Del Rey.  The restaurant where we held our reception went out of business about two years after our wedding – we like to joke that our wedding was just so good, they knew they couldn’t top it. :)  The location has now been through several iterations, and just recently reopened as a restaurant called Killer Shrimp.  Even though it didn’t seem like a typical “anniversary” place, we knew we had to be cheesy and sentimental and try it out.  When we told the hostess that our wedding reception was at their location five years ago, she squealed and let us go up to the banquet room to reminisce.  After that, we got a table outside on the patio, next to a heat lamp, right next to the marina.  The food was delicious!  Aaron won best meal with his steak, and my shrimp were delicious and spicy.




Now that we’ve passed the five year mark, and are officially an “old married couple” (especially by LA standards), I guess it’s on to the next chapter . . . whatever that may be.  :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Here We Come a Wassailing


Sorry for the gap in blog posts – we've had some big things happening in the Stevens/Sherry family..  My sister got engaged to her boyfriend.  Then we had Thanksgiving.  And now it’s on to the holidays, which includes Christmas, plus my five year anniversary and my parents 40th anniversary!  Amidst attempting to plan for everything, the little bloggy got set aside.  Anyway, Aaron and I finally set up our tree and did most of our holiday shopping, so now I have a wee bit of time to blog.

Have you ever had wassail?  It surprises me how many people have never had it!  Wassail is a hot beverage (according to Wikipedia, it is English in origin), made with cider and citrus juices and spices.  My grandmother always had a big pot of it on the stove whenever we went up to Oregon to visit for the holidays.  It tastes like Christmas!  I was never a big eggnog fan, so this was my Christmas drink of choice.  And, bonus, it’s great if you feel like you are coming down with a holiday cold – it has so much vitamin C in it that it will knock that cold right out of you!

Yesterday, I made wassail while we set up the tree and watched “Love Actually” in the background.  Here is my grandmother’s recipe:

  • 1 Gallon Boiling Water
  • 6 Lemons – Juice and rind
  • 6 Oranges – Juice and rind
  • 2 to 3 cups sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Lipton’s tea
  • Fresh mint.
  • Stick cinnamon, whole cloves, ginger, allspice, whole nutmeg
  • Cheesecloth
  • 1 quart apple cider.

Put sugar in boiling water. Add fruit juice and a few rinds. Add Tea last.
Remove from fire. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain.

Add handful of fresh mint. Make spice bag out of cheesecloth. Put in stick cinnamon, whole cloves, ginger, allspice; whole nutmegs are optional.

Add quart apple cider. Reheat and simmer until spiced to your taste – 20-25 minutes. Remove spice.

Float citrus slices on top.

Serve Piping Hot!

I couldn’t find any cheesecloth at the store, so I just put the cinnamon sticks straight in the pot and then used my tea strainer to contain the cloves and other spices.  I have no idea how many servings this makes.  We had 4 people at our house last night, and everyone had multiple mugs of wassail, and we still have over half a pot left.  It also makes a great breakfast beverage as an alternative to coffee, if you are looking to limit caffeine intake!

For those who are interested, here is the accounting:

Wassail


1 gallon boiling water
$0.00

6 Lemons
$4.74

6 Oranges
$3.05

2-3 cups sugar
$0.05

2 tbsp tea
$0.05

fresh mint
$0.89

spices
$0.15

1 quart apple cider
$2.29

total:
$11.22




~20 servings
$0.56
per cup

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Spinach Leek Bisque (with Persimmon Cookies for Dessert)



I often feel that opening my CSA box is like being on an episode of “Chopped” – especially when I am not familiar some of the items.  For example, this week we received persimmons.  I don’t know that I’d ever even seen a persimmon, let alone eaten one.  So, this afternoon I found a recipe for persimmon cookies and made them.  I can’t say the cookies really tasted like persimmon (which I did taste raw before turning it into a pulp and adding a bunch of flour and sugar).  By the way, I kind of faked making the pulp – I couldn’t find any instructions on it, so I just boiled the persimmons for about a minute and then stuck them in my food processor and essentially turned them into baby food.



I figure that’s what persimmon pulp should look like, right?  In the end, it didn’t really matter because the cookies were delicious!  They tasted more like a Christmas-y bread than a cookie – so I added some white chocolate chips to the last batch, and that made them taste more like a cookie (at least in my mind).
 

We also received some leeks.  Fortunately, I already had a fantastic recipe for leeks in my arsenal!  If this recipe looks familiar to you, it’s because I wrote about it in my (now defunct) blog that I was sharing with my sister (though it’s funny, this blog is turning more into what that one was meant to be – i.e. about food).  This time I added potatoes – and they were definitely a brilliant addition.  Of course, as we were eating, my brother-in-law said “You know what would make this even better? Bacon!”  Which is probably true, but then it wouldn’t be vegetarian friendly.  However, since none of us are vegetarians in the house, maybe I will try it next time.

Creamy Spinach Bisque
as modified from "The Whole Foods Market Cookbook" by Steve Petusevsky.

Ingredients:
4 tbs butter
1 red onion, chopped
2 large leeks (sliced and washed well)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
12 oz frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed of any excess water)
2 potatoes diced
3 cups milk
1 pint half and half (or heavy cream)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Saute the onions and leeks until soft (the recipe says it should take about 2 minutes, though it may take longer).

 












I think the combination of the purple skins from the red onions and the green leeks is really pretty!

Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes to form a roux (which I learned from Top Chef, ironically on the first night I ever cooked this recipe, that roux is when you brown the flour and butter and other ingredients. While the recipe says 2 minutes, I guarantee it will take longer than 2 minutes for any browning to occur, and tonight I was too impatient to wait for it to brown.  But I still think the finished product was delicious).

Add the stock. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thickened.

Add the spinach, potatoes, milk and cream - bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes. Add salt/pepper to taste and cook for 5 more minutes.


And now for the accounting:

Spinach Leek Bisque

2 Leeks
$1.50
1 Red Onion
$0.86
¼ cup flour
$0.05
vegetable stock
$0.05
1 bag frozen spinach
$0.99
2 potatoes
$0.87
3 cups milk
$0.60
1 pint half & half
$1.69
total:
$6.61


10 servings
$0.66 per serving

Holy moly!  That’s cheaper than a can of Campbell’s Chunky soup – and waaay healthier!  No preservatives or weird chemicals in this soup.  And definitely a lot less sodium!  Also, we ended up with so many leftovers – even after Aaron and Dominick had seconds.  The Whole Foods cook book estimates 8-10 servings in this recipe, and I think my yield was actually more like 10-12, but for the accounting I decided to stick with 10, since that was right in the middle.

I really hope you try this soup – it’s soo delicious!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday* Dinner: Indian Simmer Sauce


I fell in love with Indian food when I was living in England during my junior year abroad.  Unfortunately, I have yet to find an Indian restaurant here in LA that fully satisfies that love.  A large part of it could be that I really like spicy food.  Here, the owners of the Indian restaurants see me as this little blonde, white girl walk.  So they assume when I say “spicy” that I mean “white girl American spicy.”  No, I mean “I want my eyes to water and my skin to sweat spicy.”  I never had that problem in England.  For example, one night in Bristol, a bunch of us went out for curry after a rehearsal for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (which I was directing).  Mid- conversation, I had to excuse myself so I could retreat to the restroom and splash my face with cold water.  Turns out, I bit down on a piece of chili pepper that was still whole in the curry sauce I was eating.  To this day, I have yet to eat anything that spicy.  It made my eyes water instantly!  As painful as it was, that is what I am looking for when I go out to eat Indian food.  Aaron and I have found one Indian restaurant near(ish) our house that we sometimes will order from for delivery (they can’t see the white girl over the phone, so they will actually make it spicy . . . relatively speaking).  However, we reserve ordering from them for special occasions, because it costs about $50 for a decent Indian meal for 2-3 people (from my experience that is the expensive standard in LA).

One day at Trader Joe’s, I saw jars of “Curry Sauce.”



I decided, “What the heck, I’ll give that a try.”  Boy, am I glad I did!  This has been a favorite dinner in the Sherry household ever since!  Aaron’s not a huge spicy food fan, so I don’t make it as spicy as I might otherwise like it.  It’s also not a permanent substitute for the real thing.  However, the price difference between this and restaurant Indian food definitely makes it worth it.

The recipe is super-difficult.  You ready?

-         1 jar Trader Joe’s Indian Simmer Sauce
-         Whatever veggies or meat you want to add
-         Brown rice for a side dish

Ok, ok, so it’s not really that difficult.

Here’s how I like to make it:

First, I take a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinse and drain them.  Then I put them in a large frying pan with little to no oil.  I then add various spices depending on my mood – but usually including garlic salt, Lawry’s season salt, cumin, curry powder, etc.  



Once the chickpeas have warmed all the way through, I add whatever other veggies I have decided to use.  For this weekend, I added all the veggies from my CSA box that still needed to be used, which included kale, bok choy, greens of some sort (I am guessing collard?), beet greens and some red pepper.


Then add the simmer sauce and heat until bubbly.  Simmer until the rice is done. 

I like to serve with a glass of chilled Chardonnay.


Variations: I will often cook up some lentils and add them at the end to the simmer sauce (I didn’t this time because there were enough other veggies).  You can also chop up chicken or sausage and add it to the simmer sauce – though I tend to like it vegetarian-style.

Here’s the accounting:

Trader Joe's Simmer sauce


Simmer sauce
$2.99

Chickpeas
$0.99

Veggies
$5.00
(I am guessing that I used about $5 worth of the remaining veggies from my CSA box)
Rice
$0.50

total:
$9.48

6 servings
$1.58
per person

As you can see, that is MUCH better than what we would spend had we gone out to an Indian restaurant – and we get leftovers to bring to work for lunch!



*Confession: I actually made this last night (Saturday) because I knew today (Sunday) was going to be jam-packed full of family fun adventures.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Joys of Homeownership


Oh the joys of homeownership . . . when you don’t have a landlord you can call when something goes wrong.  For example, in the middle of typing my blog about pumpkin bread, Aaron came in and informed me that our sprinkler system (which had been hissing/leaking since the afternoon) was now geysering (yes, I just made up a verb) in our front yard.  No landlord to call – we had to fix it ourselves.  Oh, and it was already about 6pm and the sun was going down rapidly.

A bit of background on our sprinkler system:  It looks like at one point in time, the house had a very nice sprinkler system.  There’s a control box in the backyard where you should be able to set the sprinklers to go off at pre-set times, and/or pre-set periods of time.  However, since the house was a foreclosure when we bought it, we have no idea at what point the system decided to stop working.  All I know is that it definitely does not work right now.  When we bought the house a little over 2 years ago, we had the inspector try out the sprinkler system, and it worked – when you manually turned the heads for each individual sprinkler area . . . one at a time.  So that’s what we were using to water the “lawn” (I use the term loosely because it was really more a dirt/weed patch at the time).

A little over a year ago, Aaron was out of town, and I was watering and the sprinklers decided they didn’t want to turn off at all.  It was stuck on, and no matter how much I tried they just would not turn off!  Oh, and did I mention it was about 9pm on a weeknight?  Fortunately, one of our really good friends happened to be coming over to pick something up and somehow through a series of turning off the water to the house and fiddling with various knobs and valves, we managed to get the sprinklers to turn off and stay off.  I haven’t touched the sprinklers since then – even when we fertilized and seeded the front yard, I used a hose attachment sprinkler for watering because I was too terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get the sprinklers to turn back off.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed that the sprinkler system was hissing.  When Aaron got home, I asked him to check it out.  I guess in the process of checking it out, he must have been fiddling with something and one of the parts flew off as the water decided to spurt out into a geyser.  Aaron turned off the water to the house, was able to get the geyser to stop, but then the sprinklers (which haven’t been turned on in over a year) turned on and would not turn off.  Ultimately, we decided it was time for an emergency trip to Home Depot.  Aaron took a picture of the broken head on his phone so that we would know what part to pick up (thank goodness for iphones!).  About 30 minutes and $20 later, I was holding a flashlight so that Aaron could see what he was doing as the sun was long gone by this point.  After getting pretty wet because we couldn’t quite get the water to turn off, we finally were able to get the sprinklers off!

Even though it was an adventure, it ended up turning into a kind of nice husband/wife bonding experience.  J   

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adventures in Pumpkin Bread



I have never made anything with pumpkin other than a jack-o-lantern at Halloween.  So, when my CSA box arrived this week with a pumpkin inside the box, it was like a personal challenge to find something new to make with it – not only was the pumpkin a little small for carving, but it seemed like it would be a wasted opportunity if I chickened out and went the safe route (though I am looking forward to carving a pumpkin tomorrow in preparation for Halloween). I decided that for my first foray into edible pumpkin goods, it would be fun to make pumpkin bread.

It was definitely an adventure! But I am really glad I took the risk because the end result is so delicious!  I’m not going to do an accounting on this one because I already had all of the ingredients at home (except the eggs), so it would really be pure speculation on my part.

I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook (I assume the 2006 edition bc I received it as a wedding gift) and then modified it to my tastes.

If you are using a fresh pumpkin, first you will need to make pumpkin puree.

Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally.


Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits (I’m not so good at getting all the stringy bits out - but I do my best).

Then place each half flesh side down on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with water, and bake at 350 for an hour.



After an hour, pull it out of the oven and let it cool.  Then scoop all the flesh out into a bowl and puree.



Now for the pumpkin bread recipe:

-         Pumpkin puree from 1 small/medium pumpkin (or 1 can pumpkin)
-         1 2/3 cup sugar
-         2/3 cup vegetable oil (I substituted the same amount of apple sauce instead)
-         2 teaspoons vanilla
-         4 large eggs
-         3 cups all purpose flour
-         2 teaspoons baking soda
-         1 teaspoon salt
-         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-         ½ teaspoon ground cloves
-         ½ teaspoon baking powder
-         ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts or raisins (optional) (I happened to have a bag of trail mix lying around that had walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dried apricots - I chopped up 1/2 a cup of that trail mix and it is definitely and amazing addition!)


Move oven rack to a low position so that the tops of the pans will be in the center of the oven.  Grease bottoms only of two 8x4 inch loaf pans (or one 9x5 inch pan).  Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, stir pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed.  Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts (if using) – stir well until there are no lumps in the batter.  Stir in nuts.  Divide batter evenly between the pans. 

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick (butter knife in my case) comes out clean.  Then let the loaves completely cool on a rack before slicing.



Here is where my adventure began:  I think since I used a whole fresh pumpkin, instead of canned pumpkin, I ended up making more batter than Betty Crocker expected me to make . . . so, my loaf pans were, well, a little too full.  About half an hour in, I smelled something burning and went to check on the bread.  Turns out the batter had risen up over the top of the loaf pans and spilled onto the oven floor.  So I had to take out the loaf pans, and the oven racks and scoop the spilled batter up with a spatula, and then remove the bits that were stuck to the racks.  Then I replaced the racks and the loaf pans and resumed baking.  Fortunately, none of this affected the flavor of the bread.  Once my butter knife came out clean, I let the bread cool on a rack.  And now I am enjoying a slice of homemade pumpkin bread with a latte made by yours truly!



 * A note on the photos I use in my blog.  All these pictures are taken by me, using my Sony Cybershot (pink) camera. Yes, that is a Han Solo bobblehead in the background on my counter.  Please excuse any flour/cooking mess in my kitchen that happens to appear in the shots.  I try to "keep it real" by not staging my pictures too much.  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Spinach Lasagna



Tonight I invited some co-workers over for dinner.  We’ve had a lot of stress at work lately, and I thought it would be nice to invite the department that I work most closely with over to my place so that we could all bond outside of the workplace and in a nice, casual, comfortable environment.  It also so happens that all of those co-workers are female.  No offense to any of my male friends, but there is definitely a different vibe to an all female gathering.  The number one difference being how easy the cleanup is; I am not saying that this would happen with every group of women, nor am I saying that it would not be the same with a select few of my male friends.  But I will say this: I was completely finished cleaning up within 30 minutes of everyone leaving my house!  The girls helped me put things back in my fridge, helped me put leftovers in Tupperware, put their dishes in the sink, etc.   It was amazing!  It also helped that I washed all the dishes in the house and cleared out the dishwasher before anyone arrived so that there would be room in the dishwasher for dirty dishes at the end of the night.  Also, while the lasagna was baking I was able to wash all the prep dishes and generally clean up the kitchen.

My co-workers each volunteered to bring something, so I was only responsible for the main course tonight.  One person brought appetizer-y things, another brought a delicious salad, another brought wine, and one of my co-workers actually baked a pumpkin pie today!  First pumpkin pie of the season – I had forgotten how much I enjoy whipped cream . . . er, pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream . . . yeah, that’s it . . .

One of my co-workers is vegetarian, so I decided to do a Spinach Lasagna from “Diet For a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappe.  I love this book!  My mom gave it to me for Christmas my first year in law school, and I read it in about two days – and then at the back, there are tons of great vegetarian recipes.  If you were ever curious about the early days of vegetarianism becoming mainstream, I definitely recommend this book.  It’s all about complementary proteins, sustainable eating, etc.  It’s like the grandmother of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

Ok, onto the food!  I don’t think I would recommend doing this on a weekday – much too time consuming – unless you buy those lasagna noodles you don’t have to pre-cook.  If I were to do it over again, I would definitely look for those.  I had to pre-cook the lasagna noodles, which I did waaay ahead of time bc I also had to clean the house.  So while the noodles were cooling, I cleaned.



Later in the day, I sautéed the onion, tomatoes, etc. and then added the spinach.


I cooked that until the spinach wilted.  It never ceases to amaze me how much spinach cooks down! 




Then I left the spinach on simmer while I mixed the cheeses together.  And then added the spinach mixture. 

 Ok, ok, I know it doesn’t look that appealing, but I swear, even at that point, it tasted great!

Then I layered the noodles and the spinach mixture in a pan and cooked at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Et voila!


I’m not quite sure what happened with the top layer of noodles.  They curled up on themselves and made it really difficult to cut into serving sized portions!  Fortunately, my dinner guests said that they like crunchy lasagna noodles.  Hopefully they weren’t just being nice!

And now the accounting fun:
Spinach Lasagna


1/2 pound lasagna noodles
$0.75

1/2 onion
$0.75

2 tomatoes
$1.00

2 cloves garlic
$0.05

1/2 teaspoon oregano/basil/rosemary
$0.05

1 lb spinach
$1.79

1 cup low fat cottage cheese
$1.00

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
$1.00

10 oz mozzarella cheese
$3.75

total:
$10.14




8 servings =
$1.26
per serving

* A note on the accounting – since there were several dishes that I did not prepare, this is not a price for the whole meal – just the main course.  Also, I did prepare another side dish that I am saving for a blog later in the week, and that is not accounted for here either.  But it’s still fun to see.  J

If you want to make this yourself, here’s the full recipe (with notes for my alterations):
-         3-4 tbps oil
-         ½ lb lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente
-      1 medium onion, chopped (I used half an onion – I always cut the recommended amount of onion in half bc I’m not a huge fan of onions, but I like the flavor they add to recipes)
-         2 tomatoes, chopped
-         10 medium mushrooms (I detest mushrooms, so I just omitted them)
-         ½ tsp each oregano, basil, rosemary (I used fresh rosemary from my neighbor’s garden)
-         2 tbsp chopped fresh parsely (I bought the parsley, and then completely forgot to use it, but the recipe tasted fine without it)
-         1 lb spinach, washed, drained and chopped
-         1 cup non-fat cottage cheese
-         ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
-         10 oz grated mozzarella cheese

·        Preheat oven to 350. 
·        Heat oil in a big skillet, sauté garlic, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms.
·    When onion is translucent, add herbs and spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted.  Simmer.
·        Reserving ½ cup mozzarella cheese, in a large bowl, combine cheeses.
·        Pour spinach mix into cheese mixture and stir thoroughly.
·      Layer noodles alternately with spinach/cheese mixture in an 8x13 in baking pan.
·        Top with reserved mozzarella.
·        Bake 30-40 minutes.
·        Serves ~8



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Not Sunday Dinner: Tim Burton at LACMA


There will be no edition of Sunday Dinner tonight because, honestly, I find it hard to imagine that anyone cares about me making Rice-a-Roni with hot dog cut up into it (yes, I do eat hot dogs occasionally).  I had a very fun filled weekend, and now just can’t be bothered to cook!  I spent all morning yesterday in the kitchen baking cupcakes for my friend’s kid’s 1st birthday.  One of my other friends, J-fer, and her fiancé, Michael, came up to LA from San Diego for the birthday party and they stayed at my house.  After the birthday party, a bunch of us went out for sushi and then came back to the house to play Rock Band until who knows when.  Today, J-fer, Michael and I went to the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA (Aaron had to work, so he couldn’t join us).

I can’t believe I have lived in LA for 10 years and have never been to LACMA!  (LA County Museum of Art – for those, not in the know).  The Tim Burton exhibit is one of those where you have to buy special admission ($22) for a specific time – our admission time was noon.  I’m really glad it wasn’t any later.  When we got there, the parking structure had plenty of spaces left, and we were able to park without any real hassle (which, for that part of LA, is a pretty big accomplishment).  We exited the elevators from the parking garage straight into a courtyard surrounded by statuesque heads of the signs of the Chinese Zodiac (honestly, I only picked that up once I saw my sign, the horse, and then the monkey, which was 2 years later – and from there I was able to make an educated guess).  Then we were all standing around talking about it, and this lady comes up to us and says “There’s a sign over there that explains everything.”  Thanks, I guess I should have looked for a sign at a museum . . . oh well.

I don’t have any pictures of the Tim Burton exhibit because they warned us at least three times before even entering the big gaping mouth of an entrance that no photography was allowed.  The guards kept repeating “No cameras, no cell phones, not even for texting or calling.  Put it away, or it will be confiscated.”  Even with all that, at one point in the exhibit, this 13 year old girl came up to me and said, rather rudely, “Excuse me” and shoved me aside so that she could snap a shot of a black light painted picture with her iphone.  Now that I think about it, I bet that picture didn’t come out so well since it was so dark in that room!  I was so shocked at her rudeness that it didn’t even occur to me to call a guard on her.

Overall the Tim Burton exhibit was very enjoyable and very informative.  I had no idea that growing up in idyllic suburban Burbank could be so traumatic! (Though it definitely explains “Edward Scissorhands.”) For anyone who loves that slightly disturbing artistic Burton style, this is a must see.  They had doodles of his from when he was still in high school – up through costumes and full puppets/3D models from his stop motion features that everyone loves.  There were several iterations of Jack Skellington’s head – each with a different expression/emotion.

The one negative that I will give is that it can get really crowded.  The beginning of the exhibit is a complete bottleneck.  I will admit, I got a little claustrophobic/agoraphobic with all those people not moving in a very small space.  Then it opened up in the middle, and it seemed like there was good spacing between each art piece.  The last room was not only cramped, but it had this diorama that played music, but not just any music – creepy, dollhouse music, that overlayed an image of a kid in a house with a Christmas Tree and blood spattered all around the room.  I swear by the end of the time I got done with the last room, I thought I was going to go crazy if I had to hear that music one more time!  Oh, and then, of course, it opened into my least favorite exhibit of all: the gift shop.  I think I inherited my distaste for gift shops from my dad (though I tolerate them much more than he can).  But I really hate a) being forced to walk through a gift shop and b) being forced to try to get past all the other people who don’t mind being forced to walk through a gift shop.

One last caveat about the Tim Burton exhibit: it is definitely not for young children.  “Nightmare Before Christmas” is about as tame as it gets in there, but a lot of his earlier stuff is definitely not for children’s eyes.  I saw people with very young children, some of the kids were scared, others were just bored or miserable.  But, if you are an adult (and/or you have kids that are mature enough to handle more grown up themes) and you love Tim Burton, this is definitely a good exhibit to go see!  Hurry though, if you are interested, because the exhibit only runs through Halloween weekend.