podcast

What I'm Into Wednesday - LA is in Retrograde

Ok, so some of you who are tuned into the more spiritual side of things (and Instagram) might know this already, but Mercury is in retrograde from now until the end of the year. Yay. (That's sarcasm.)

Mercury in retrograde lends the universe to feeling a little more chaotic. Technology tends to quit working like it should. Communication definitely breaks down. And you have more of those "WTF are people doing/thinking" moments.

BUT Mercury in retrograde is also a great time for things like creativity, dreaming, brainstorming, and creating in general. So there's that.

Last Thursday I took a day trip to LA and man, was Mercury felt. It started with a plan going completely awry thanks to the serious (and crazy) wildfires and the day ended with me showing up to take a yoga class (that I was super excited about) at Wanderlust Hollywood - only to find out they had cancelled all of that afternoon/evening's classes to hold an event (without emailing or telling anyone - major communication breakdown). 

All of that being said. I still managed to have a great day in LA - so here are some of my favorites. 

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One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was go on a mini architecture tour. Little known fact, I wanted to be an architect for a very long time and I have a small fascination with architecture. So when I realized that there was a Frank Lloyd Wright house in the middle of a park in LA that I had never been to, that went on the list. And that quickly led me to wanting to visit one of his son's houses as well. 

I made my way to Barnsdall Park and got to see the Hollyhock House. Even thought it is fenced off and currently being renovated - it was beautiful. 

From there I took a drive into the Los Feliz hills to search out the Ennis House. This one is much tougher to get to. The drive is windy, narrow, and steep - and surrounded with beautiful, giant mansions the whole way (so fun to look at) and then you turn this corner and BAM the Ennis House is staring out at you. It literally took my breath away. There wasn't a great way to park and get a better look (you could if you walked or biked) but man, was that drive worth it.

Lastly, I sought out the Sowden House (by Lloyd Wright - Frank's son). This was literally on a normal street. You could park and walk right up to the gate.

This whole architecture adventure reinvigorated my love for architecture itself. Now accepting applications of other cool places to see. 

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The major win and surprise of the day came in the form of beautiful gardens at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. In my quest for cool architecture, I came across Greystone and was stoked to discover that the surrounding landscape and gardens are open to the public (even though the mansion itself isn't). It was the perfect oasis in the middle of LA. A beautiful, large open space with gardens, fountains, statues, a koi pond and so many small hidden paths. Beautiful views of both the house and the city were aplenty - and on a Thursday afternoon it was almost empty. 

Do yourself a favor and go. It was so perfect and peaceful. 

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The other part of my day trip excitement was food (duh) and one of the main stops on my list was the newly opened Eataly. A few things - 1. I totally forgot I've been to the Eataly in Boston (I'm an idiot). 2. I definitely didn't know Eataly in LA was in a mall - until I had to park there. 3. Wow. Overwhelming.

The Eataly in Boston was set up so much more smartly - spread out, easy to navigate, easy to meander through. I felt like Eataly LA was kind of the opposite. Tall ceilings but a warehouse-y feel that was loud, crowded, and difficult to take your time moving through. It felt rushed and like people were impatient. So I guess it felt like LA.

Either way, it's a fun experience if you do go. And yes, some of the food is amazing.

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SALT AND STRAW. SALT AND STRAW. They saved my evening after finding out the yoga class was cancelled. I took myself over to the location on Larchmont and indulged. 

Their December flavors are ridiculous - peppermint hot cocoa, a grapefruit eggnog, gingerbread cookie dough, and apple brandy pecan pie to name a few. The clear winner was apple brandy pecan pie. And to my surprise (and delight) they still had sweet potato casserole on the menu from Thanksgiving!

Also to my delight - the lovely guy told me that the Little Italy San Diego location should be open BEFORE CHRISTMAS! There is a Santa after all.

HEAR

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Long drives call for good podcasts. It was tough to pick just one... but this week goes out to:

Radiolab for their episode titled Super Cool.

I won't ruin it for you. Just listen. 

What I'm Into Wednesday - Travel Edition #2

The weekend of November 2-4 marked our second travel excursion of the month. This time to scenic Phoenix. Or something like that.

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A little back story: Angelo grew up in Cleveland and one of his best friends still lives in Cincinnati. Needless to say, we don't get back much so we don't see him often. Andy owns a very successful dog training and boarding business and also competes in competition (more on that later). He helped us a lot as a sort of virtual trainer for the first few months that we had Arlo. When we found out he'd be just outside of Phoenix for a competition, we knew we had to go. And thus, this weekend adventure was born. 

We got to spend a few nights in an awesome Airbnb hanging out with Andy and his girlfriend, watched him do what he is best in the country at (literally), ate some delicious food, and had a nice weekend away with the pup.

 

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The sport Andy competes in is called French Ring. Here's the gist: a handler and a dog are the competitors. They go through a whole series of little events and challenges and are scored by judges. These events include agility drills (jumping over a wooden wall or long jumping), obedience drills (following commands, heeling, walking on leash, walking with a muzzle, ignoring food, picking up a thrown object, etc.), and drills with a decoy. A decoy is a guy in a bite suit. Andy is that guy. In fact, he's the best in the US. I should mention these dogs are Belgian Malinois and are trained as personal protection dogs. They are smart, fast, athletic, and scary - yet are great family dogs as well. 

The decoy stuff was fascinating. The idea was all about role playing. The dog and handler are being judged on how well the dog listens to commands - like how quickly and accurately does he attack the decoy, but then let go and return to the handler when called. Or how well can he guard an object (like a basket) if the decoy approaches it. He gets points for how close he allows the decoy to come, when he leaves his guard to attack, when he goes back to guard, etc. 

Much less about viciousness and much more about intelligence and obedience. It truly is a game for these dogs, and they're really amazing at it. 

Poor Arlo looked like a chump. 

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Long car rides call for full blown podcast series. We were in the mood for something along the lines of Serial or S-Town and I had been recommended a podcast a few months ago from my friend Jeff. He recommended Dirty John

Dirty John is a true crime story from the LA Times. It follows an Orange County woman who meets her "dream man" online. Of course, John turns out to be someone completely different than she thought. 

It's fully of lies, deception, anger, emotion, sadness, and a little humor. And it's intense. Be prepared for that.

Also be prepared to want to scream at some of the main characters for not being able to see through this guy. It's infuriating. And straight up outta the OC. 

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After a long drive, all I want is food. After a little Yelping, I found The Coronado in Phoenix, which was a sight for sore eyes and the perfect stop before meeting our friends at the Airbnb. 

An outdoor, dog friendly patio (yay!), super cheap happy hour prices, and delicious food made for a winning combination. We had a salad, a goat cheese and jalepeno jelly quesadilla, and grilled corn on the cob complete with cotija cheese and seasonings.

All the YUM!

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We were on our own for our second night dinner as well, and ironically ended up across the street from The Coronado. 

Green New American Eatery popped up on many "must eat" lists so we had to try it.

I'd compare it to SIPZ in North Park - tasty bowls filled with vegan protein, veggies, and rice, vegan buffalo wings (which were pretty damn good - the smell of buffalo sauce gets me every time), and plenty of healthy drink options. 

Between a Thai inspired peanut bowl, a ginger and garlic bowl, and the wings we were happy campers...with just enough space in the belly for the last item on the list...

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How to describe Nami? Vegan soft serve is the actual description, but it was so much more than that. Somewhere between soft serve and the texture of a Wendy's Frostie? With organic added mix ins? Yeah, that'll do.

I got the Haystack: vanilla soft serve with homemade marshmallow creme, chocolate sauce, and pretzel sticks. YUM.

Go hungry, they only serve one size and you will eat it all. 

Also, it's next door to Green. So that's convenient. 

What I'm Into Wednesday - Travel November, Pt. 1

November shaped up to be a month of travelling, starting with the very first day. Angelo had to head up to Ventura for some nuun related business so Arlo and I decided to hop on the trip and turn it into a little day roadtrip.

We headed up to Ojai on Halloween, checked into a cute AirBnb, took Arlo adventuring on some local trails, and proceeded to enjoy the small town for the evening. The next day was all business - taking the drive to Ventura to pick up some stuff for nuun, shuttling it to Long Beach, and then heading home.

I love roadtrips and love that even work related road trips can turn into a quick night away.

More about what I loved on this two day adventure below!

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One of the stops on our trip was a hike (of course). The hike was described as having a few creek crossings, but that was really all we knew (see below for more). When we parked the car at the trailhead, we realized you had to walk through some private land to get to the actual trail. That land happened to be a nature preserve - complete with goats, sheep, horses, and lots of birds. The bird area held chickens, roosters, and peacocks! They were absolutely gorgeous, and just feet away from us as we walked through. I had never seen a peacock with his feathers on full display (with the exception of maybe a zoo visit?) and we got to witness it here. Stunningly gorgeous. 

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The hike itself was amazing as well. It's called the North Fork Matilija Trail. It weaves through forest, crosses a stream 5-6 times, has boulders and rocks and soft trail, and was the perfect fall feeling adventure. Arlo had an absolute blast crossing the stream (both swimming and jumping from rock to rock) and we enjoyed playing as well. The total hike is somewhere between 5-6 miles round trip. I'd love to go back and do the whole thing. We got through about 4 miles before running out of time. I highly recommend this trail!

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Our Airbnb was just outside of Ojai and was surrounded by active ranches. It's not that I particularly like the smell of horses, but I do love the immediate feeling that you get when you smell them. You feel removed, away, and in the country. That was exactly the relaxing vibe we were hoping for when we booked the Airbnb. Living in a city lacks nature smells, so whether it's farm, or horse, or trees, or water - I welcome them.

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For our one evening in Ojai we rounded up a few restaurant recommendations and ended up checking out Farmer and the Cook. This adorable organic, vegetarian/vegan friendly grocery store-meets-restaurant was perfect. The ambiance was hippie, the food hit the spot (the sweet potato lentil soup was bomb), and the people watching was perfect. Plus, dogs were allowed on the patio (always a win). But the true star of the night was dessert. They had a day old molasses cookie in the bakery case for $1 and Angelo and I took a chance. Holy cow, it was delish. Soft, chewy, rich tasting. Legit blew us away and overshadowed everything else. 

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Roadtrips mean podcast time. One of the podcasts I listened to on our drive was an episode of This American Life titled "In the Shadow of the City 2017". It was a fascinating collection of stories about interesting things that happen in the odd, far reaching, and dark corners of big cities - often right under the noses of residents, who never know. Give it a whirl. 

 

What I'm Into Wednesday - IT FEELS LIKE FALL FINALLY!

The title of this week's installment has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the blog, but I'm so incredibly excited about the cool weather that I just couldn't help myself.

After a ridiculously hot stretch, to have days where it's 3PM and still grey and in the 60s is heavenly. 

This weekend was a great mix of work and play and, with the exception of weirdly throwing my back outta whack, it has led into feeling very refreshed and stoked entering this week. So after a night sleeping on our incredibly firm newly upholstered couch (which felt ah-maz-ing on my back) I'm rolling into November ready!

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One of the "play" aspects of the weekend was hanging out with Angelo's family to celebrate his sister, Domenica's, birthday. In addition to gifting her some fun presents, we couldn't help ourselves and had to include a gift for the baby girl that they are expecting in March. Angelo found the most ridiculously adorable baby Converse socks. They are meant to look like converse high top sneakers and I can't get over how perfect they are. If you've ever looked at baby shoes in general, you know that every major rad brand does a baby version, but teeny tiny socks for newborns took the cake.

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Prior to our weekend of family and friend fun, we needed to get our house and our dog ready for visitors. That often includes a bath for Mr. Arlo. I give us a little credit for the bathtime routine going so smoothly. We started bathing Arlo in the shower with one of us when he was super small and now that he's a giant, he's very comfortable climbing himself into the shower and standing still while we get him all bathed. His new puppy shampoo smells so good! Dead sea minerals, hydrating oils. There's nothing like freshly bathed puppy smell!

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Podcasts are pretty much life these days. One of my frequent favs, who I haven't been listening to as much lately, made a comeback this week. Tim Ferriss interviewed Arianna Huffington...and I'm almost speechless. I, like most 30 somethings, get some of my news from HuffPost, but I knew nothing about Arianna Huffington. She's fucking fascinating. And my new idol. Smart, hilariously funny, down to earth, and seriously inspirational. Do yourself a favor (esp if you're a woman and/or entrepreneur) and listen to this episode. 

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Our weekend capped off with an Italian feast on Sunday evening. What started as a simple convo about a specific Italian dish we had never heard of spawned an entire night of eating. And it was fantastic. From an epic cheeseboard to homemade bread to pasta to bracciole (that's the new dish) to tiramisu and cannoli...it was unbelievable. And, of course, no good Italian night is complete without some really great people. Family and friends together (and a few doggos) made for the perfect fall evening. I'm still full. 

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Pulling specifically from the Italian feast, taste goes out to one particular Italian cookie: The Rainbow cookie. You know the one. Green, red, and yellow layers of cookie with jam between them covered in chocolate. They are made with an almond paste and represent the colors of the Italian flag. You can find them at most Italian markets/delis, but these specific ones were purchased at Filippi's in Little Italy. They're one of my all time favs. I'm still eating them days later.  

What I'm Into Wednesday - The Bathroom Edition

I have a friend. Her name is Amanda. She's hilarious. We agree on most things. But sometimes we fight. Mostly over toilet etiquette. So, Amanda, this week is all about toilets and just for you!

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Probably about a year ago I wandered into this adorable store in North Park called Simply Local. It's set up almost in small booths, each one owned by a different local vendor. There's fun shirts, cute jewelry, greeting cards, candles, etc. There was a section in the back with posters and graphics printed on t-shirts and tank tops. There I found the perfect wall art for a bathroom. A lovely little meditating man with the phrase "Let That Shit Go". Clever and punny, just my style. 

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Bathrooms are not known for their fragrance. But a few years ago I was given a gag gift that has turned out to be absolutely perfect. It's called Poo Pouri. If you haven't heard of it or used it, watch this video. Here's the thing about it though: it's freaking expensive. So, being the resourceful human that I am, I googled how to make it at home. Ingenious! And so simple. You can make whatever scent you like and it works just as well as the fancy packaged stuff. You're welcome.

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If we're being honest, this is where Amanda and I argue. How to put the toilet paper on the roll. My belief (my strong, correct belief) is that the toilet paper goes on the over way, not the under way. That's all there is to it. End of discussion.

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Again, not another category that you like to associate with the bathroom. This one's not gross though, don't worry. I keep my vitamins in the bathroom and I'm obsessed with gummy vitamins. Hear me out. I know they aren't as high quality or potent as many other types of supplements and vitamins. But I will forget to take anything in pill form. It's a fact. But I won't forget to eat gummies. So I get something in every day to supplement what my diet might miss. And for me, that's good enough. My go-to? VitaFusion - multivitamins and calcium. P.S. Pro tip - they usually have them cheaper than normal at Grocery Outlet!

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This has nothing to do with bathrooms and is just what I've heard this week that I like. On the podcast train again and digging This American Life. Specifically the episode titled "One Last Thing Before You Go". Two very poignant (and vastly different) stories about final words surrounding death. Yes, it gets a little emotional but I promise there's humor to balance it out as well.