Who's Afraid of Colour? http://www.ladivacucina.com

La Diva's not.  And neither is the DJ, apparently.  This is the colour of our bedroom!  You COULD call it HOT PINK.  You COULD call it fuschia.  But the I prefer to call it raspberry!   Actually, the DJ was inspired to "do" our bedroom in raspberry and chocolate brown when I brought home a beach towel that caught my eye in those very colours.  It was laid across the railing while we lounged in the hot tub and he looked at it and said, "THAT combo is really hip."  Surprised, I agreed.  And because we are both artsy, that makes it ok.  If he could take it, so could La Diva.

The next day, I decided to paint over the second wall on the left because when you walked into the room it looked like you were being swallowed into the vortex of dark pink, making me feel slightly overwhelmed and claustrophobic.  I insisted we change it to the lighter colour, much to the chagrin of the DJ, as we would have to prime over it again and there would be another three coats to paint!   After it was done, he relented and agreed it did look better.  We painted only the back wall in this PASSIONATE colour and the other three walls are the lightest shade of chocolate brown which  actually turns into a sort of very light dusty rose OR the palest of violets, depending on the time of day you are in the room.  Cool.

Here's the Proflex subflooring and sound proofing product I told you about a few posts back.  La Diva picked this heavy $hit up in Hollywood and then unloaded and loaded it onto a cart up to our apartment all by myself.  Yeah, dat's right, snitches, why else go to the gym if I'm not going to use my MUSCLES?  (insert Popeye laugh here:  "A-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah!")

I am WOMAN, here me roar.

(and now I'm sore!)

The funny thing is, I had a TOTAL Final Destination flashback while driving back with the Proflex to our unit, a good twenty two miles away, in our Dodge Magnum.  You know the movie Final Destination, right?  (okay, this movie and all of its sequels are my guilty pleasures!)  Basically, the movie's premise is based on the main character having a premonition about a catastrophic accident and therefore has the ability to avoid it, thus cheating Death.  Death don't like to be cheated and he comes back and gets all those that survived, one by one.  Bwahahahaaaaaa! 

WARNING:  This clip is full of gratuitous gore and and is poorly recorded.  Death is really, really mad in this scene!

Well, it wasn't quite this bad, but you know La Diva likes to add the drama, don't you?  These sort of movies crack me up...pretty girls and boys in unbelievable situations and ridiculous consequences.  You know you want to see them "buy it" just because they are so annoying.  And cute.

In any case, this is what happened:  I was driving back from Hollywood to our apartment on the freeway with the 12 rolls of heavy Proflex in the back, and was moving along at regular speed (regular speed being about 75 mph on Miami freeways) when I had to put the brakes on quickly, I did not SLAM them, but put my foot down on them hard enough to make one of the rolls of Proflex KNOCK into the back of my seat with a heavy thud.


If that wasn't bad enough, another roll FLEW into the middle between the two front seats and pushed my car's gear shift into neutral.  While I was driving.  On the freeway.  NOT.  GOOD.  Thoughts of messed up transmissions and costly repairs along with the "what if's" went through my Diva head.  What IF the Proflex were just a bit heavier and I DID slam on the brakes?  Would I experience a Final Destination chain reaction with the Proflex jamming into the back of my head and splattering MY brain into the windshield?  Hmmm....better slow down, Diva girl, slooooow down.  After that, I went into the right lane and stayed WAY  the hell back from the car in front of me.  Live and learn.  (and don't tell the DJ, ok?)

Here is the two pallets of cork flooring we had delivered last Friday.   The DJ and I hauled it up to our new place.  Our contractors were on another job, so could not help me take the delivery, and thankfully, the DJ was working from home, so could assist.  Otherwise, I would have had to pay the driver $250 to help me!  Hell to the No!  Again, I was glad I've been working out and was able to help load and unload and made sure I picked up each box using the strength from my legs instead of my back.  Pleased at myself, I realized that there was no way I could have done this before I started working out back in March when we put the offer on the house.

You go, Girl.

Here is the beautiful cork flooring I bought.  Why cork, you ask?  Because it's soft on my feets (and cooks like floors that "give.") it's sustainable, it sports a cool marble design, it's durable and hypo allergenic.  And it's as strong as wood, if not stronger.  I am used to cork floors as it is very prevalent in Australian kitchens, however,  it used to be that cork came in only a few limited shades of yellow and brown.   Now it comes in many colours and styles, even pearlized high gloss finishes!

It was suggested by several people that in order to save on flooring, I should go to Lumber Liquidators to get something cost effective, but that would mean buying CRAP from China.  And we ALL know what GREAT QUALITY Chinese products are, right?  This cork comes from Portugal.  Luckily, in Miami we have an international port and the company's warehouse is about a half an hour away, so I didn't have to pay exorbitant shipping fees or sales tax.  Woo hoo!  When I told my friend Beth this great news, she reminded me that I should always BUY AMERICAN.  I then reminded her that we don't grow a lot of cork trees here in America.   "Oh," she said, and started to laugh.   But I DID by from an American importer in Texas who was quite lovely and very helpful! 

Here is my office!  Bright, yes?!  La Diva LOVES colour and yes, I have the balls to use it!  My desk will go in this corner and the lovely outlook of the tree-filled park will be my view from the window on the left.

The DJ and I work well as a team and we spent the entire weekend painting.  Since I hate the fiddly work, he primes, tapes and paints close to the edges.  I am the workhorse, rolling the bulk of the paint on the walls.  We did each room in three coats and you better believe that La Diva was in that hot tub by the end of the night.  Oddly enough, I felt the pain more ON MONDAY and had a blister on my hand from the roller!

 The living room went from this caca brown...

 ...to this vibrant teal and the palest of blues!  Very Miami, VERY hip!  (you'll see!)


And we will add a bit of texture and DRAMA to the dining area by putting up this really groovy metallic wallpaper by Graham and Brown.  Yes, wallpaper is back in style, darlings, and its not-cho mama's wall paper either!  Divine!

And finally, this is the Vulkem waterproofing finish we put on our balcony.  The building did some balcony repairs which left us with pieces of balcony floor removed at about a 1/4 of an inch more shallow than the rest.  So, we needed it filled in, leveled and then finished.  This will allow me to enjoy walking on it in bare feet without slipping or feeling the heat of the relentless Miami sun.  This balcony, by the way, is HUGE.  Big enough for me to have a herb garden, bar style table and chairs and a BED. Yeah, dat's right, La Diva is considering putting a bed on the balcony.  No,  NOT a ghetto-bed-left-over-from-your-tacky-ass-K-mart-living-room-furniture-that-y'all-put-on-da-po'ch-after-it-look-bad-in-da-house, but a DAY bed that will be great for lounging with company while sipping a sassy cocktail and admiring the bay or the full moon!  You'll see.

That's it for now, darlings!  The crib is half-packed, the floor almost finished, baseboards about to go on and trim painted.  La Diva is getting excited!  What do YOU think, darlings?  Can you DO bright?  What are YOUR fave colours?  Do tell, La Diva wants to hear all about it!  Ciao for now!

A Decade Later, We are Still Going Strong

 Memorial in Sydney, Australia outside of the U.S. consulate from "When Words Fail Us," a collection of images.  Click here.

I remember the conversation with my husband like it was yesterday.  He and I were talking about our future, our options, and to me, the future did not look bright living in Sydney for what my husband wanted to achieve.  Sure, Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and for almost a decade yours truly lived a wonderful life there but yet....I was bored.  The tyranny of distance kept me from sharing my fabulous experiences with all but a few friends and family and opportunities were just not as plentiful as in the heavily populated United States.  How could a city of three million people compare to the United State's population of almost 300 million?  To me, more people, meant more jobs and more chances to reach our goals.  After Felix spilled his hopes and dreams to me, I knew Sydney would not provide enough opportunity for him to realize them.  We needed to get to Los Angeles,  the City of Angels, a place that  boasted more events, bigger budgets, creative people and jobs that Sydney could never deliver.

I was told by the U.S. consulate that the process of getting residency in the United States could take up to a year, so we decided the plan of action was to get married in a civil ceremony in order to get the proper papers filed in time for us to move within twelve months.  At the end of October, we decided we would have a "real" wedding and celebrate with all of our friends and family.  On September 1, 2001, we got married in a city office downtown and with a few friends and family, we celebrated our nuptials with cocktails at the penthouse bar at the ANA hotel at Circular Quay and then seafood at Golden Century Chinese restaurant in Chinatown.  Our new life had begun and I had an appointment at the United States consulate on September 13.

On the night of September 11, 2001, Felix jumped out of bed with a start, waking me up from a deep sleep.  "What's wrong?"  I asked.  "Shhh, I hear something, be right back." It was almost midnight, and he began to search for intruders.  He had heard noises and thought our house had been broken into.  Finding nothing out of order, he came back to bed and as he crawled in, the phone rang.  Who could be calling at this hour?  We listened to the message, my co-worker Sarah, was crying and saying, "America is getting bombed!  We are under attack!  Wake up, Laura, wake up!"

What. The. Hell?  I leaped out of bed and grabbed the phone.  Sarah was the editor of the beauty magazine I worked on, we sat next to each other every day and were close friends.  Her sister was living in L.A. and Sarah was a true Americanophile, always telling me her tales of wonderful times visiting the States.  Sobbing, she told me to turn on the TV, I went into the living room and did as I was told.  With the phone still in my hand and Sarah on the line, Felix and I watched the news of how a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers.  At this point, no one knew it was a terrorist attack.

Horrified, we stayed glued to the TV, trying to find out exactly how this happened?  And then before our eyes, we saw the first tower fall. And not long after that, the second tower fell.  I knew I had just witnessed people dying right in front of me.  It was one of the most dreadful feelings I have ever experienced.  We stayed up late, watching as more news poured in.  The United States was under attack and now news of other terrorist attacks came on TV.  We were both in a state of shock and disbelief.  We watched all night, while a feeling of helplessness and guilt crept over me.  I felt for my fellow countrymen and wanted to be there, for some reason.  I called my friend Bobby, who was living in New York, fearing for his safety.  I found that he had just flown in on a flight into New York and had managed to get into the city from the airport before everything got closed down.  He was okay, we spoke briefly and then hung up.   And then the cell phone network went haywire and people could not contact loved ones in the city.

I didn't go to work the next day.  I didn't call in.  I was American.  No one expected me to, it was understood. 

On September 13, I got out of the Martin Place train station in downtown Sydney and made my way to the United States Consulate.  The doors were on a mezzanine level and escalators lead up to the first floor.  All up the sides of the escalator and around the entrance memorial items were laid out, including flowers, candles, flags and a firemen's hat.  Looking at the multitude of sentimental mementos, I gasped, caught my breath and pushed back the tears and made my way up to the consulate office.  Security was tough, I went through a metal detector and put my belongings on a belt to be x-rayed,  then after a brief wait, was called to the window of the woman who would be interviewing me.  She asked all the predictable questions about my husband, our life and why we wanted to go to America?  I told her that my husband was seeking opportunities not available to him in Australia and how I wanted to be with my family again, but it was more than that, much more.   For reasons I didn't understand, I felt a NEED to get back home.  Now, more than ever, I HAD to get back.  The interviewer smiled at me and told me that we'd get their decision within six months, the process had begun.

Now that the interview was over, I could take my time looking at the memorial offerings and made my way to the street level. "We love you America" was written on a blanket.  Bouquets of flowers with sympathetic greetings were every where.  And there was the fireman's hat.  I lost it and began to sob uncontrollably.  A plump older woman came up to me and with an English accent said, "Are you American, dear?"  I managed to get out a weak "yes."  "Come here," and she extended her arms out and then pulled me to her ample bosom, hugging me, while I continued crying.  I did not know this woman but her kindness and sympathy were just what I needed.  I composed myself and pulled away while she told me that it "was horrible what had happened."  I told her that my new husband and I were making plans to move to the States and how horrific this all was but I refused to change our plans.  She wished us all the best, agreed that we should move forward and to "be strong."  She told me she was headed to St. Mary's church to pray for me.  I thanked her profusely and took the train home, comforted to a degree and amazed at how kind people can  be to a stranger during times of conflict.  

On October 27, 2001, as planned, we had a beautiful ceremony in the Rhododendron Garden in the Village of Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains.  We shared the day with forty of our dear friends and family.  The next day we went on our honeymoon on Hamilton Island near the Great Barrier Reef, and we had the most relaxing, beautiful time.  We snorkeled, we sailed and ate out each night at fancy restaurants.  We met some Americans staying at our hotel and the events of 9/11 was the hot topic of conversation.  It was on the news daily, nightly, any time you turned the TV on, you would likely find coverage.  One American tourist was so obsessed with the events, that he watched TV his entire honeymoon and gave us a bottle of Dom Perignon, as he felt he could not enjoy it.  I felt bad for his new wife and was glad that we had the ability to "look away" and be present.  In spite of the tragedy, we believed our careers would be better served with a future living in the U.S. and we forged ahead with our plans.  

It was a beautiful Indian Summer day on September 11, 2002 and I was headed to Detroit Metropolitan airport.  I was flying into to New York City, a year to the day, from the terrorist attacks.  A lot had happened in the last year.  I remember telling a distant cousin living in Michigan that we were moving back to the States and her reply was, "Why would you want to live here, it's so dangerous?"  I was aghast at her weak reply.  Too dangerous?  My own country?  HELL NO.  No terrorist or FEAR of terrorism was going to stop me from living back in my own country as a proud American, in America, the land of opportunity, the land of the FREE.   Besides, I always felt that no matter what lengths the government  does to "protect" its citizens, there are no guarantees we will ever be  completely safe.  No one could ever guarantee that sort of safety.   Ironically, in October 2002, there was an Al Qaeda attack in a popular tourist area in Bali, a known holiday spot for Australian tourists. Australians had felt the bite of terrorism as well and I realized that no country would ever be completely immune to it.

Back in May 2002 the United States government granted my husband permanent residence status and gave him a green card.  We had been interviewed and processed, we could move to America and he could legally work, we were good to go.  In August of that year, I had planned a series of trips around the United States, visiting friends and places I had not seen in ten years.  And more than anything, I wanted to spend time with my family.  I would base myself in Detroit, at my dad's house, and from there I would travel to New York City, Chicago and Florida.   I had quit my job, sold my car, paid off my bills and left my husband behind to settle his affairs back in Australia.    For the first time in years, I was truly free.  I didn't even have a set of keys.

That night, lying in bed at my dad's house in a Detroit suburb, I dreamed of flying high across the earth.  As I was flying, I was looking down at palm trees and lawns but everything was sparkly and white.  The trees and grass were white and glittering in the sun, and I remember smiling as I flew over, feeling blissful and happy.  It was the best dream I ever had.

The next morning when I walked into the airport in Detroit on September 11, 2002, I was handed a small black metal pin in the shape of a ribbon at the door.  It was a remembrance pin and the airport worker thanked me for flying that day.  The airport was deserted.  The numbers were so small for the flight to New York that the plane we boarded was much smaller than a DC 10 or even a DC9,  I don't believe there was more than twenty people on that flight.  People told me I was crazy to fly to New York that day, "What if we are attacked again?"  But logic told me that there would be no attacks that day.  That was not how the terrorists worked, there would be no element of surprise.  We landed without incident and I made my way to my friend Bobby's apartment in Chelsea.

It was about 2 am and the streets of the lower east side were crowded, people were everywhere.  Dressed in kitten heels and a skirt, I walked the streets without purpose and a friendly cop warned me to "be careful."  After heading north, I found myself at St. Vincents on 12th St.  The medical center's wall was filled with posters of people who'd gone missing during the attack on September 11.  A dozen people were reading the fliers and crying, there were candles everywhere.  A sense of camaraderie came over all of us as we spoke about where we were that day.  It was another episode of strangers coming together to grieve and commiserate.  Throughout my visit to New York, I came across memorials at fire stations and parks.  I would not go to the site of the bombing though.  And I refused to call it Ground Zero.  I found the military term insulting to the memory of those that had passed, and I honestly don't know why.

In that year, I realized that I could never live in fear.  I would not let the actions of terrorists dictate the terms of my life.  I will go where I want, when I want, without trepidation.  I didn't feel changed by what happened, although when I got back to my country, I felt America had changed.  There was a sense of unease and uncertainty, like Americans had no control over their lives, it was hard for me to explain or comprehend.   Where were all the tough fighters?  Why were some people living on their knees?   The media, the President and politicians did their best to keep people in a state of perpetual fear, while I only got angry.

Moving back to America was not easy, at times, downright difficult.  My Yank-loving husband took to living here like a duck to water, while I had a hard time adjusting.  Because the America I knew no longer existed.  Nine years later, I have no regrets.  This country STILL provides ample opportunity for those that go out and seek it.  My husband's career is thriving, he goes from strength to strength and is now officially an American citizen.  I am American and this is my country, love it or hate it, warts and all.  I am back home and  we are still going strong.

It is what it is http://www.ladivacucina.com

I found this photo searching for "do it yourself home improvement."  Have you ever seen a STRAIGHT guy with a saw in his hand standing like this with his behind to us?  Me neither.  This is supposed to be an article "empowering" women giving them DIY info and yet, they can't resist showing us her ass.   WTF?  This isn't Playboy but an article FOR women.   La Diva gets tired of women constantly being sexualized.  BAH.

Darlings, this was once a food blog.  It was once about FABULOSITY.  It was a fun blog, in all its DIVALICIOUS glory.  But for now, it's none of those.  Houseguests and home refurbishment means less Diva-cooked meals.  Less Diva-cooked meals means less food blog fodder.  Boo to busy-ness! 

Welcome to my current world.

This is Proflex.  It's used for sound proofing underneath flooring materials like tile.  I didn't know what this was a month ago.  Now I'm about to go and pick up 1200 square feet of it! Yippeee!

This is Chef David Chang's new publication, Lucky Peach.  Full of cool art, content, photos, layouts, recipes and NO ads, this ex magazine ad sales exec couldn't wait to get her  little Diva paws on it.  I have no time to read it.

 This is Vulkem waterproof deck coating.  It's for our balcony floor.  It only comes in five gallon pails, is super expensive and naturally, I only need one gallon.  I went to the supplier and bought five gallons each of primer and paint for the contractor,  hauled it onto the building's luggage cart along with 50 lbs. of sand all by myself.  Thank you, Crunch Gym.  

This is my Crunch gym membership card.  I've not been back since my accident July 19.  The gash on my leg is almost healed but the wound was so deep, it's still slightly weeping.  When I had out of town guests this past two weeks, I thought I was SuperWoman and healed and went biking for miles, showing off my beautiful city to our guests.  And now, after going full force like I would have before my injury, my leg aches...this pisses me off.  I want my leg back.  It's taking longer to heal than I thought but it IS healing....albeit slowly.

 This is the delicious chicken dinner I made a few weeks back, a recipe tried and true from my Chicago Tribune cookbook.  I had fully planned on posting about it.  It's called Chicken Vesuvio, you dredge chicken pieces in flour with Italian seasonings, brown and then bake it in the oven with potato wedges with white wine and garlic.  It's delicious.  But this photo is all you're gonna get. 

 This is the logo for Lo Que Te Pica on MTV's Tr3s channel.  La Diva will be filming an ENTIRE SEGMENT with hostess Kareliz tomorrow morning.  It will air next Friday at 10 am.  I am thrilled, two shows in two weeks and this show is on national television.   I do not even know where this channel is on my tv.  (but I'll let you know!)

 And finally, here is the living room of our new condo when we bought it.

 And here it is today!

I've just packed my first box, it contains some of my most precious cookbooks!  Soon, I won't be able to cook dinners, it's going to be pizza and take away.  Please, darlings, don't think that La Diva is complaining.  I am really quite excited about the DJ and I beginning a new life in a new home, OUR new home.

I just miss y'all.  

See you very soon, darlings, and ciao for now! xo