One thing is for certain, the weekends go by way too fast. This past weekend we headed up to Paso Robles, and I am now in awe of the central coast. Behold…
A friend of ours is moving across the country in 7 days and starting a new adventure – we’re so jealous! But it gave us an opportunity to swing down to San Diego and surprise her at her going away party on Sunday. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to explore some fun spots, we drove down on Saturday and spent some time hitting some very cool new-to-us bars, restaurants, and stores. And I have to say, San Diego, you’re way cooler than you let us all believe.
We stayed with a good friend in Carlsbad, and because we pride ourselves in being the best possible houseguest you’ve ever had, we stopped at Prager Brothers Artisan Bread to pick up croissants & rolls for breakfast the next morning. It’s in an odd location in an industrial area, but this is the real deal. Traditional, natural, organic bread and the croissants have that perfectly baked, golden outside crust with an airy, light center. I could eat a dozen.
If you walk two doors down, you’ll find Happy Pantry, which carries all things fermented and has a delicious selection of kombucha on tap. If you’re a local, they also have classes on making kombucha. (If you’re a little further north, a great place to buy fermented goods & learn more is The Fermentation Farm in Costa Mesa).
After we picked up our friend Gina, we headed into San Diego proper. I’m a planner by nature and will research a location for hours to find the fun zones. Thankfully, Polite Provisions was spot on. It’s located in an old pharmacy (I love repurposed buildings that keep the old signage!), and once you walk in, you’d think you were in 1940’s Paris. Even though it was only 5 p.m., the place was packed and we really had to elbow up to the bar.
The decor is simple – a brass & marble bar, multiple taps for a variety of cocktails on tap (genius) and bentwood chairs. They’re known for their communal drinks – think, Flaming Scorpion for 6. We did not. But I did have my favorite drink, an old-fashioned (first one in 2 months!), and not only did it not disappoint, it was gorgeous. They completely elevate the experience by embossing the ice cube (excuse me, what?).
Polite Provisions does not serve food, but one of their sister company’s, Soda & Swine, is next door and they will deliver food to the bar.
From there we hopped over to Juniper & Ivy, where, without a reservation, we were able to nab a quiet spot in the bar. What a gorgeous restaurant (sorry, no photos, too busy eating). This was just a pit stop to have a quick bite, and Juniper & Ivy has great small plate selections – I’m talking about a Spicy Tuna handroll in a Sesame Leaf, a Biscuit with silly smoked salt & butter and the Baja Yellowtail Tostada with Shark Sauce.
Not yet satiated, we drove up to Encinitas and had pizza at Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza. If you go, you must get the Signature pizza with Lemon EVOO, Fresh Mozzarella, Ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, Lemon Zest, Red Onion & Basil. You won’t regret it.
On Sunday, we had some time before the going away party and headed downtown to North Park. What a cool little enclave! The residential areas off the main streets are peppered with little Craftsman bungalows, and we had just as much fun driving around and looking at them as we did walking the main street.
If you go, make sure to stop at Love & Aesthetics. I’m not sure I’ve seen a better-curated shop, filled with fun gifts, beautiful simple jewelry, oddities, and minimalist decor items.
And my rule is, if you find a Matcha Tea shop, you must go in. Holy Matcha is the perfect pick-me-up, hot or iced, sweetened or not.
But truth be told, my main reason for wanting to go to North Park is because I have long been a subscriber to the Pigment newsletter, and the little girl in me would have had a serious tantrum if I had been so close and didn’t make it there.
Another beautifully curated shop, with lots of fun gifts, cards, stationery, jewelry, candles, and behold, a succulent workshop.
I resisted, but I did come home with a few fun items.
I love our little weekend excursions. And I love that you don’t have to travel far to have new experiences and explore. I’m hoping to share more of our mini-travels, so stay tuned!
We had some amazing sunsets in December here in Southern California. Part of it, I’m sure, was due to the never-ending Indian Summer we experienced. 80+ degree weather in December and scores of wildfires while the mid-west & east coast started their annual freeze.
2017 was an interesting year. It was the year I let go of all expectation, all my preconceived notions of what I thought I should be doing and instead just allowed myself to be and do. I did some soul-searching and came to terms with many things.
Due to chronic pain and an amazing amount of anxiety, I turned to yoga and meditation (and if you’ve been reading the news and lifestyle blogs – so did everyone else). It has made a huge and significant impact on my mental & emotional state, and I really think I’m a totally different person now than I was a year ago. Hopefully for the better. Who knew that getting into my head would allow me to actually get out of it.
And here we are in the second week of the year, and I’ve set my 2018 Intentions. This year, they are much more in line with how I’m spending my time. I’m not chasing more work like I’ve done in the past. I’m pretty happy professionally with what’s currently on my plate. And if something new comes along, I’ll consider it, but only if it truly works for me. That in itself is a wonderful place to be and something I’m so grateful for. So, 2018, here’s what I’m hoping for:
- Travel & explore with Scott: we did very well with this last year, but it was due to a lot of planning and follow through. We traveled to Austin, San Diego, New Zealand, Washington D.C., Ojai, Las Vegas, Napa Valley and countless trips to Palm Desert. We took day trips to Santa Barbara and spent Saturdays & Sundays exploring our favorite places in Downtown LA, West Hollywood Santa Monica, and Venice. I realized that when you make exploration & travel a priority, it can happen.
- Take no shit/drama/power struggles: This is part of my recovery from a toxic relationship that has continued to plague me. I can finally say it is all behind me and it has left me stronger and more comfortable to establish & sustain my boundaries.
- Be present: This has been interesting because my job is social media-centric, but this is another place where boundaries are maintained. When I’m with my people (and honestly, that’s any people), the phone stays in my bag or pocket. Everyone deserves our undivided attention.
- Meditate every day: I started regularly meditating as part of a morning practice this past summer, and it’s a ritual I’ve come to love. Even if my mind is wandering, I still sit there for the length of time I decide on in quiet & stillness. It’s helped considerably with stress & anxiety.
- Expand yoga practice: I started taking a restorative yoga class a couple of times a week at my gym to help with chronic back pain and stiffness. The first few times were agonizingly slow, but now I look forward to that class and go as often as I can. I’m curious to try some other classes and teachers.
- Consider Reiki Training: I had my first Reiki treatment early in the summer and another toward the end. It’s actually what jump started my meditation practice, followed by yoga, and it’s incredible. The feeling of clarity and lightness is such a beautiful thing, and I swear it was more relaxing than a massage. I’d love to learn more about it as a personal practice goal.
- Do art daily: I started drawing again! This was my love early on, but I’m sad to see that the patience I once had for this hobby is not there! It’s a struggle for me to sit and draw, especially when I keep thinking I should be doing something more productive. I need to quiet that voice because art is productive, right?!
- Hike more: I live in a beautiful place with beautiful trails almost right outside my door. When I can, I try to get out on them a couple of times a week. At the very least, I drag Scott on weekend hikes
- Practice mindful eating: I’m 9 days into another January Whole 30, and it’s a lot harder this time because I had fallen so far off the clean-eating wagon. The good news about that is that I’m reminded just how important whole foods are and how they impact your health. My back pain is almost completely eliminated after cutting out sugar (a big cause of inflammation) and bloating is way down after cutting out gluten.
- Watch sugar, alcohol & gluten: see above.
I have a confession: I snack. A lot. Pretty much all day. My go-to snacks are usually nuts; cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts. I carry a baggie with me just in case I get hungry while I’m out, and then I’m less likely to grab something that’s not so good.
Nuts are a quick fix, but you do have to watch quantity, as they are high in fat (the good kind though!). This recipe for Almond Date Bites is super quick to whip up, they keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days (if you don’t eat them all at once) and are a great source of sustaining energy. The formulation is a compilation of a couple of different recipes that I’ve tweaked to my liking. Ingredients get added and removed depending on my mood and what’s on hand.
Almond Date Bites
1 cup raw almonds
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tbsp. cacao nibs
Pulse almonds in a food processor until they are between a medium and fine meal. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, dates, almond butter, and cacao nibs. Process everything together until mixed thoroughly – it should stick together when you press it. Add more almond butter if it’s too dry.
You can measure out tablespoons, but I usually just grab a portion and roll it between my hands to form a ball. (Lightly wet your hands first and the mixture won’t stick too much!)
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Note: I’ve also added coconut flakes and/or a dash of cayenne pepper for a little spice
These babies are sugar free, gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
I love going into the city when time permits, not just for the urban adventure that it is, but there’s such an amazing concentration of cultural icons around almost every corner. Being a design junkie, I especially love stumbling upon something special.
This happened recently when my husband & I were in the city visiting my son & his friend in West Hollywood. We were walking to brunch, down Kings Road just north of Melrose Boulevard, when I saw a tiny little sign for Schindler House. I was not hugely familiar with R.M. Schindler, but I did know the name as a pioneer in the modernism era. After brunch, on our way back, we stopped in and toured this historic house.
What struck me first was that you would never know a historic home is located on this quiet and beautiful tree-lined street in bustling West Hollywood. The street is mainly apartment houses and condominiums, and Schindler House is set back from the street behind a fully mature bamboo hedge. There is just a small sign proclaiming its’ existence.
Schindler House Los Angeles, or the Kings Road House, as it is commonly known, was built in 1922 and was actually considered to be one of Schindler’s most important works. It is considered by many to be the first house built in the modern style, and was experimentally built for communal living, housing another couple besides the Schindlers.
The lot was divided into seven sections; four of them were assigned to each of the four inhabitants of the home to express their own individuality and there was a shared kitchen and outdoor sleeping areas (on the rooftop deck!). The structure draws upon European modern architecture (Schindler was Austrian) and, like many European buildings of that time, incorporated concrete, glass and wood in the construction of the home. This had become a popular trend in Europe thanks to Mies van der Rohe’s work in experimental concrete buildings in the 1920’s.
The only reason I remotely know this is because this house reminded me of my husbands late uncle, architect William Alexander, who designed and built the Hangover House for Richard Halliburton in 1938.
The residence was used for political, social and cultural events during the time they lived there, and was also used as housing for visiting artists, architects and writers (Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd Wright, were frequent visitors). I can only imagine how astounding the guest list must have been during those days. The Schindlers eventually divorced, but the house continued to be a meeting place for left-wing political radicals in Los Angeles.
Today, the house is maintained and funded by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture Los Angeles at Schindler House. There are year-round events and exhibitions and programs geared toward the creative arts. When we were there, we were lucky to be treated to small Eames exhibit.
Schindler House is located at 835 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069. It is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm, and admission is $7.00.
It’s well worth the visit.
Top photo via The MAK Center for Art and Architecture L.A. All other photos my own.
It was my husbands birthday last weekend and we wanted to get away, but not too far because we didn’t want the weekend to be all about driving. It’s been ages since we’ve been to Ojai, I knew there were many cool places that had popped up in the last ten years, plus it’s only about an hour and a half out of LA, so we decided to give it a go!
And yes, it is incredibly charming. I think it’s still coming into its’ own, but there are so many great spots; restaurants, and shops, not to mention a brand new winery – we had such a great time.
We arrived early Friday afternoon and had a quick bite & beer at Azu, which is also home to the Ojai Valley Brewery. It was perfect – Azu prides itself on fresh farm-to-table fare using organic ingredients from local farmers. Our M.O. is to sit at the bar because we really think that’s where the action is! Seriously, we have a great time watching the bartender mix drinks and we usually chat them up on what their specialties are and try for an impromptu craft cocktail class. If it’s an open kitchen, even better I had the Arugula & Dried Fig salad, which was delicious and I dove into before taking the time to snap a photo.
If you wander down Ojai Avenue there are some beautiful boutiques and shops, all a little different with everything from housewares to men’s & women’s clothing, surfboards, and camping goods. So many of the shops have a great vibe and are so perfectly curated, I could live in them.
I love the slow pace of this town, everyone is taking their time and it’s a great respite from the craziness of life. You literally can’t help but relax!
We made a stop at Topa Mountain Winery, which is on the edge of town. The tasting room has only been open for a year, but it’s a beautiful venue and they produce very nice wines. They were setting up for a charity concert event that evening, so it was a little busy in the back outdoor area.
Isn't that entry gorgeous? If we make it back there, I definitely want to come prepared with a picnic!
If you go – we have some recommendations…
High End: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa – this place is g o r g e o u s, and completely worthy of a splurge. It’s a huge complex with several different restaurants, bars and little enclaves to hang out in. We stopped in after dinner at the Deer Lodge and had a drink at the Wallace Neff Heritage Bar, where a very theatrical bartender was mixing very theatrical concoctions. It was very fun to watch!
Mid-Priced: Ojai Rancho Inn – we stopped here to check out their bar, Chief’s Peak, which was packed and full of hipsters (sort of like the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs). We aren’t opposed to bumping elbows with hipsters, we just couldn’t find a place to sit, and couldn’t muscle to the bar so we left. We’ve stayed at their sister hotel in Santa Ynez before, and I would definitely check them out for lodging if we visit again, although we will most certainly be the oldest people there, I am sure.
Affordable: AirBnB – this is our usual mode of accommodation these days. Ojai has a city ordinance against short term rentals in town, so most of the AirBnB’s are just outside of town. It was no problem, we were literally 6 miles from town center. The rental we had was a guesthouse in a quiet, private residential neighborhood, was super clean, modern, had a beautiful garden and a gorgeous view.
FOOD & DRINK
There is no shortage of great places to eat and drink in Ojai, whether you are looking for a quick bite, a nice, romantic dinner or just want to cool off with a drink.
Azu/Ojai Brewing Company – fresh farm-to-table fare and a nice selection of local wines.
Topa Mountain Winery – beautiful new winery just as you enter the town. They have a delicious Chardonnay, and it’s the perfect setting for a picnic, or go big with a wedding.
Ojai Deer Lodge – super casual, with a woodsy vibe, they have barbecue Friday – Sunday and it’s good stuff! I ordered the Lodge Burger, which I totally recommend…with a fried egg on top #ohmygod
Chief’s Peak – as I mentioned, we stopped in here but didn’t stay. It’s a young crowd, but we aren’t above that – I’d join the party any day! Looks like a very cool place!
Ojai Beverage Company – at first glance upon walking in, you think you’re in a liquor store. A very large liquor store with an amazing selection and very good pricing. If you walk to the back, there’s also a tap room, bar, and restaurant.
Suzanne’s – this was the birthday dinner spot, and it did not disappoint. Be sure to make a reservation because everyone in the valley hits this place on the weekend. I had the Salmon with Cilantro Pesto, which was served with steamed vegetables, and it was delicious. Scott had the penne with meatballs, which was good, but the sauce was a little loose.
I’m loving the recent influx of simple lifestyle stores that are curated with an eye toward design and bohemian living.
In The Field – love this place! Modern bohemian and beautifully curated.
deKor & Co. – similar to In The Field, but more home goods and lifestyle oriented. They also carry a small selection of apothecary and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t pick up a perfume that I tried (lesson learned!).
Fig Curated Living – this is a little hard to find as it is located down a little alley off the sidewalk between a couple of shops. A portion of it is located outside and is almost home and garden, with an emphasis on local, handmade and fair trade goods.
Have you been to Ojai lately? What is your favorite thing to do?
Have you ever been to the Poppy Reserve in Lancaster? This year Southern California had a very rainy season, and wildflowers were popping up everywhere - we like to refer to that as a superbloom! Visiting the Poppy Reserve has been on my to-do list for years, but somehow we always miss the blooming season! We finally got a chance to visit last weekend, and just as I imagined, it was spectacular.
The Reserve is located in the Antelope Valley of Southern California and is a State Nature Reserve (i.e. part of the State Park system). The park is about 78 miles north of Los Angeles, off of California Highway 14, and very easy to get to. It’s 1800 acres of almost pure orange between late March & early April and is the most consistent poppy-bearing land in California. Besides poppies, tons of other wildflowers share the space, and it truly is a mosaic of rolling hills of color.
We visited on a Saturday and luckily got there early, before the big crowds. If you go, I highly recommend an early arrival or try to go during the week. As we were leaving at 11:30 am, the parking lot was full and visitors were having to park outside the reserve and walk in (at least a ½ mile).
There are seven miles of dedicated trails that are easy to follow, all of them are loops, and you can go as far as the Antelope Butte Vista Point, which has a gorgeous view.
If it’s early in the day, as it was for us, and on the cooler side, you may have to deal with some flowers that haven’t fully opened. This is also the case if it’s cloudy or cold, so be forewarned! If you go later in the day, you inevitably have to deal not only with crowds, but that great Antelope Valley wind that kicks up almost every day!
If you visit, here are some things to keep in mind:
- The Reserve is open from sunrise to sundown, daily, all year
- Entry is $10 per vehicle
- Bring water – the wind is dehydrating!
- Don’t bring your dog, they are not welcome
- Watch out for rattlesnakes!
- You can bring snacks, but you can’t eat on the trail. There’s a picnic area at the visitors center
- Stay on the trails! The blooms are so beautiful, but they won’t last for everyone to enjoy if you stomp into the field for that perfect Instagram photo
- No drones – although that would be a cool experience to see!
- Check out the Visitors Center on your way out for more information on the wildflowers & wildlife in the reserve – it’s so interesting!
The season is definitely winding down, and they’re only expecting the blooms to last another week or two, so if this is on your list, hop to it! With all the rain we’ve had this year, you won’t want to miss the display.
I don’t think I’m alone in dealing with this issue – it’s been all over the media lately. I often wonder if men go through the same self doubt that women do, and how they work through it. Lately, this has been a big obstacle for me, but I do feel like I’m working toward my own personal resolution. One thing that really spoke to me in that article was the recognition of ‘triggers’ – whether they are situations, thought patterns or even people, we need to find a way to alleviate, or limit, the triggers that spark that downward spiral.
Here are some of the ways I’m working through this every day:
- Gratitude: I am trying to say ‘thank you’ to myself every morning when I wake. I know, it sounds dorky, but try it. I am thankful that I woke! I am even thankful for my aches and pains because it means that my body is working and it’s defense mechanisms are on point.
- Stress Relief: I still have to work on this – I thought I was doing better, but a recent blood test showed my stress hormone had actually increased in the last month. Wait, what?! I’m trying to take my days slower, and trying to incorporate meditation into my day (this is a difficult habit for me to adopt! there’s always so much to do!). I’m trying to be more mindful of my actions and words, and trying to not let negative external circumstances affect me (I’m looking at you, driver who flipped me off for no reason yesterday).
- Sleep: 8 hours a night. Non-negotiable. I get up at 5:30 am these days, so that means a 9-9:30 pm bedtime.
- Eating Clean: I know I’m a broken record on this, but you really are what you eat, and if you fuel your body with clean, whole foods, your body will thank you back (see #1).
- Taking time for YOU: I think we all need a portion of the day that is all about ourselves. It isn’t selfish, although it can feel that way in the beginning. For me, this is usually my time at the gym. I might have a hard time getting there some days, especially weekends when I want to just veg out, but the feeling I have after a workout is worth it. For me, it isn’t about more energy and endorphins, it’s about a clearer head and sense of accomplishment.
- Mindset: This is huge, and I think this is where we get in trouble with ourselves. When I think about mindset, I also think about the triggers that might bring me down, and nipping those thoughts in the bud. When something, or someone, bothers me or upsets me, I have a little mind trick I play: VISUALIZE a box in your head. VISUALIZE putting that person, thought or situation, in the box. VISUALIZE closing the box, with tape, and putting a label on the box. And then VISUALIZE putting that box in a room in your head. VISUALIZE closing the door to that room. You do not have to go into that room again.
- Journaling: Another habit I am trying to incorporate into my day. This isn’t like the diary we kept in 6th grade; this is a journal. You can write about your day, you can write about your dreams, you can write out your visualizations. It’s a mindful exercise, and I’ve found (when I remember to do it) that it really helps with my relaxation and stress level.
I was going through my bookshelf recently and came across The Secret. I pulled it out and started reading it again, and realized it’s all about the self love. The key to happiness is loving yourself unconditionally and feeling comfortable in your own skin. It doesn’t happen overnight, and most of us have to work at it daily with baby steps. I think that’s okay. Stopping the negative thoughts that take up residence in our heads and replacing them with positive thoughts is the first step.
What do you do to negate the self doubt and how do you work the self love into your day and life? I’d love to know what other people do!
image via unsplash
We just returned from the most amazing road trip. I’ve had road trip fantasies for years, starting when our kids were young and continuing. We have traveled many of California’s highways, but lately, since they’ve grown, trips via vehicle have been far and few between.
This time, we drove from Southern California to Broomfield, Colorado (between Denver & Boulder) for my sisters’ wedding, and it was spectacular. We gave ourselves 3 days going and 3 days coming back, with stops in Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Vail, Boulder, and Denver. And I have to say, our world is gorgeous.
And I have to say, our world is gorgeous.
Admittedly, we could have driven further the first day, but I had an ulterior motive. Recently, Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone installed a large-scale public art display, called Seven Magic Mountains, off the I-15 just outside Las Vegas. We drove by it on a trip out that way in May, and I was dying to explore it up close. I’m intrigued by public art, and this reminded me of the Prada Marfa installation outside the city of Marfa, Texas. This art display is seven towers of stacked boulders, standing over thirty feet high and painted in bright colors. How they are secured is beyond me.
We clearly weren’t the only ones with this idea, and it was impossible to get a photograph without any people. Still, it is spectacular in terms of size, depth, and logistics. If you are headed out to Vegas, this is must see.
We stomped around for a while in 100-degree heat, I trudged into the brush in an effort to get away from the crowd and get some good photos, and then we continued to Las Vegas, where we spent the first night.
On a side note, we visit the area frequently, but always stay outside the city with friends in nearby Summerlin, and actually never go to the strip. So it was fun to actually stay on the strip, and being that we started our trip on a Monday, were able to take advantage of a great rate at the Wynn Hotel & Casino. We were given a corner room on the 27th floor, with a view of the strip from two floor to ceiling windows. This is now my favorite hotel in Las Vegas!
It’s funny to me – everywhere we turn there are articles about positive self image, positive body talk, positive self talk and anti-bullying campaigns. We are then bombarded with advertising for the latest anti-wrinkle cream, skin procedure that will plump up what has fallen to gravity, age and the loss of collagen, and minimally invasive plastic surgery to smooth, lift and revive.
And so many of us fall for it – I know I do. I fall down every anti-aging rabbit hole on the internet, and sometimes spend more money than I’d like to admit on creams, toners and make up. Thinking about it, my mother had a face lift when she was younger than I am right now. I’m not anti-plastic surgery, but I wonder if we are spending too much time fighting what is our destiny instead of preserving and protecting what we were born with? If I knew then what I know now, I most definitely wouldn’t have spend those days on the beach slathered in baby oil! Even with those teenage indiscretions, I’ve entered middle age with pretty good skin, but I am fanatical about sun protection!
It got me thinking about all the beautiful women who seem to embrace their age without trying to stop time, and change their appearance with unnecessary surgeries and procedures. And I’m sure they have had them, but they’re done so well, you can’t reaaaaallly tell!
’ve had a girl crush on Lauren Hutton (72) forever. The fact that she is still modeling, and looked gorgeous in J. Crew’s recent catalog spreads, is the biggest inspiration.
Ines de la Fressange (58) is my complete style icon. If you know me personally, you will recognize this immediately! Besides her beauty, she exudes class, style and is so perfectly effortless. And French. That helps
Helen Mirren (70), a talent, a beauty and a huge role model. I think the first movie I really noticed her in was The Queen, and I’ve been pretty obsessed ever since.
atherine Deneuve (72) is the classic French beauty.
Jane Fonda (78) – I really don’t care what people say about Jane, she’s amazing. An actress, activist, fitness guru and model, she has aged amazingly well and is just as beautiful today as she was 30 years ago.
I would love to see the spotlight cover more about prevention and teaching our children good skin care and food habits, than the current climate of fixing, masking and altering what we have. I think we have all figured out that beauty begins within.