Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hotel Haas

by Allyson Haas
Wedding at Parker Palm Springs
The first trip the Haasbund and I ever took together was a weekend jaunt to the Parker in Palm Springs. Gravel pathways, waiters delivering room service on bicycles, dogs walking around with pink bandanas - it was my idea of getaway perfection.  Throw in tennis courts, an insane Yacht Club of a spa, not one but two pools, a life-sized chess board, and an outside bar dedicated to my all time favorite beverage: lemonade; needless to say I was instantly smitten (with the hotel and the man, obviously). But alas, with room rates way above my pay grade, I knew there was no way I could treat the Haasbund to something so decadent in return. (I meant reciprocate financially, you sex-starved animals; get your mind out of the gutter).

As a token of my appreciation, the Hotel Haas was established. I stocked up on supplies to keep us home for the weekend and little luxuries to make us feel like we escaped: slippers taken from a previous night’s stay at a hotel, little shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower, a fully stocked mini bar for our “suite.” I went so far as to print a menu so he could choose what he wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And while not at all on par with the level of amazing that is the Parker, the Hotel Haas has a charm all its own, so much so that the moniker stuck. Any time a friend from out of town passes through, or a family member comes to visit, they get five star quality service; complete with a mint on the pillow. A good girlfriend of mine enjoyed her stay here so much that she gifted me with a Hotel Haas logo stamp as a token of appreciation. It has come in quite handy, especially for dinner parties.

DIY Menu cards

I put my fancy logo stamp to good use a few weeks ago, when we hosted a work dinner for the Haasband's Business Partner and a colleague. I really wanted to roll out the red carpet for these gents, so first I cleaned the house and did my best to hide the evidence that we have a child who likes to express his artistic side by drawing on the walls and/or the furniture. After I worked my magic with non-toxic cleaning products and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, I got down to the business of executing a fantastic dinner party.  Once I decided what to serve, I typed up a menu and printed it at home on some of the extra cardstock I keep on hand. In just 15 minutes, and with minimal effort and expense, I had individual menus ready to be tucked into the napkins to serve as the evening’s place cards.

It was Pinterest-worthy, if I do say so myself.

flipbooks for kids
The dinner was a big hit thanks in no small part to the Haasbund’s Business Partner, who had the forethought to bring gifts for our son that were so engaging that C actually sat still while we enjoyed dinner. C was so enthralled by these photo flip books of Safari and Ocean Animals that he entertained himself (and the company) by proudly yelling out and spelling the names of the animals he knew. I'm adding these books to my go-to gift log, because they are so cool I can't imagine anyone would even think about re-gifting. 

I sent everyone home with a piece of Olive Oil cake wrapped up for The Morning After, because while there might not have been a whole lot of action happening at the Hotel Haas that night (the Haasband and I collapsed from exhaustion at the late hour of 9:30PM), I always have high hopes for my guests. 

Olive Oil cake
(recipe adapted from Food52)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup organic raw cane sugar
¾ cup Coconut sugar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp fleur de sel
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cup whole (or raw) milk
3 large eggs
1 ½ TBSP grated orange zest
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Confectioner’s sugar (for decoration)

Heat the oven to 350. 

Spray a 9 inch pan with coconut oil spray (or butter). 

In one bowl, whisk the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. 

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk just until combined. 

Pour batter into cake pan and bake until top is golden (about an hour). 

Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely. Before serving, slice and dust with a respectable amount of confectioner’s sugar.  

Assuming you don't eat the entire thing in one sitting while binge watching True Detective, save a little bit of the cake for breakfast - it's delicious spread with fresh raspberry jam.  

I don't currently have any plans to list the Hotel Haas on Air BNB.  Primarily because our "guest quarters" are currently housing a small, yet very demanding human, but also because our bathrooms, while fully functional, are, in LA parlance "in need of a little work". 
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer No-cation

Cabo San Lucas anniversary
Travel, B.C. (Before Children)
The dog days of summer are (almost) upon us, and my Instagram feed seems to be chock full of beautiful photographs of people's summer vacations.  This morning, after cruising the 'gram and seeing yet another round of Italian and Hawaiian getaways, I began to bemoan my own lack of summer vacation plans.  Then it dawned on me: I HAVE CHILDREN.  Do you know what it's like traveling with children?  It is not, in any way, what I would call a vacation.

Vacation (noun):
1. a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest
2. freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.

That's pretty much the opposite of what it's like to travel with children.

Laguna Beach vacation with kids
Travel, A.C. (After Children)
1. The stuff.  Why do small humans have so much crap?  I can (and have) traveled for five weeks with nothing more than a carry-on bag, a money belt, and a prescription for Cipro, so why do my offspring need two bags every time we go somewhere for only one night?  The noise machines, the blankies, the pacifiers, the swim diapers, the sunscreen, the hats... I am exhausted just thinking about packing all that sh*t.  Forget the exotic locale, I'll just take my kids to the Grand Park Splash Pad where they can still get sick from drinking the recirculated water, but I don't have to worry about losing their passports!

2.  The time zones.  Jet lag sucks, even if you're an adult, but little kids, who are completely dependent on sleep schedules, get all kinds of f*cked up if you reverse their day and night.  You know what's a real buzz kill on vacation?  Being exhausted all the freaking time because your kid's circadian rhythm is all kinds of wacked out.  Thanks, but I'll stay right here in the PST zone where I have at least a 50-50 chance of getting a decent night's shut eye.

3.  Toddlers on a Plane.  Forget Snakes on a Plane, if you want horror that's guaranteed to keep you awake at night, it's traveling internationally (or even across the country) with two wiggly humans who won't sit still and prefer to express their emotions BY YELLING.  The bygone days of air travel - when I drank champagne, slept peacefully and enjoyed a good book without interruption - are a thing of the past.  Airplane travel with small children involves pacing up and down the narrow aisle with a screaming one year old while your spouse attempts to get your older child to stay in his seat with either bribery or Benadryl.  Oh, and that's the best case scenerio.  These days you're liable to get arrested or thrown off the plane because you had the nerve to procreate and then try to travel with your children!

4.  Hotel room.  Notice that I wrote "room", not "rooms" or "suite" because when your kids are little you can't just stick them in the adjoining room and hope they don't pull a Johnny Depp.  Nope, if you're traveling with little kids they have to sleep in the room with you or, in our case, in a portable crib in the bathroom or closet.  Nothing says romance like trying to have some sexy times without waking the babies and then having to hold your pee in all night because one of your kids is sleeping next to the toilet.   

5.  Childcare.  If I had billions of dollars and could afford to have our babysitter travel with us, this wouldn't be an issue.  Since the only thing we have billions of dollars of is debt, I don't think we'll be taking our childcare on the road anytime soon.  Here's the thing: little kids have this annoying habit of wanting (or, in Rose's case, needing) you to pay attention to them all of the time.  While your vacation fantasies may involve sitting on a lounge chair reading trashy magazine, drinking Mai Tais, and hoping you don't blackout in the adult pool, what you'll really be doing is keeping your offspring from drowning and yelling at them to not eat the sand.  I don't know about you, but that sounds about as relaxing as spending a weekend hanging out with my Husband's ex-wife.  

Needless to say, all of this is why I'll be spending my summer enjoying a "stay-cation" here in the dried out, sweltering, far-from-picturesque City of Angels.  Sure, it's no Ko Phi Phi, but at least I can drink the water and I don't need a prescription for anti-malaria tablets.  Unless, of course, I forget to empty out our fancy plastic pool for a few weeks.   

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