Posted in My Travels

From LA to Laguna Beach Day 4

Day 4

This day was super hot. For me to say that means it was a true scorcher! The kind of day that leaves you sweaty just standing there.  The sun was strong, and the concrete was smoking hot. In other words, my favorite kind of weather!

This day was August 19! We were celebrating our first date anniversary, and decided to replay it with a coffee date, like that we went on in 1996. Just in a different city, an almost seventeen year marriage, a mortgage, and two kids under our belt. 🙂

My husband took us to Verve in downtown LA.  This place was pretty swanky in an interesting part of town. It looked like an up and coming area; reinvented for the hipsters. The coffee was great, and our pastries were pretty good, too. We enjoyed all the folks hanging out there with their dogs, and even got to watch a fashion shoot across the street.

As soon as we finished breakfast, we swept up the girls to head to our first destination along the way to Laguna Beach. An art installation in the city of Watts, The Watts Towers.  This is a place my husband and I never got a chance to see on our last trip to LA so we made sure we squeezed it in on this trip.  So glad we did! What an awe-inspiring sight!

The installation is currently under renovations but there is so much of it still exposed to see. It is so large, I wasn’t expecting how big it was. The intricacy of the spires and decorations left me with so many questions.  Especially where it is, in the middle of a neighborhood.  The story behind these towers is simple yet complex. The simple side of it is that they were created from steel and mortar, adorned with various items like shells, glass, porcelain, anything really, created all by just one guy. One!  A small Italian immigrant man, Simon Rodia, who lived in this spot in Watts.  One day he had an epiphany to start building a large structure for people to visit, so he did.  The plot of land changed hands many times after he was older; first selling it to his neighbor. His house inside even burned down, but now the structures belong to the city as an artistic treasure.  Which it is. A definite must see!

From Watts we started on our path to Laguna.  We decided to change-up the map to ride along the Pacific Coast as much as possible. This ride was amazing!  We got to see Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and tons of coastal state parks.  Along the way, around Corona del Mar, we happened upon our favorite candy shop of all time, See’s Candies.  So, of course, we had to go in to get a ton of chocolates.  The folks inside gave us so many samples to try that I swear I gained five lbs during this stop! I know, I could’ve said no, but it’s See’s Candies! C’mon! We bought a good-sized box of our favorites to share before we got to our hotel, but we didn’t even put a dent in it.

Laguna Beach, guys, is the coolest place.  After driving down oceanside Highway 1 through their center, which was filled with art galleries and shops, we arrived to our hotel, the Pacific Edge. We were just blown away.  We had booked a room in the ocean front building, ocean facing, and it was way more than we could have expected from its website.  Standing on our balcony, the view was literally an oceanic postcard. The soothing sounds of the waves was something dreams are made of… My gosh it was truly dreamy.

Our stop in Laguna was not just to hit the upscale beach, it was my husband’s birthday the next day.  We planned a beachy birthday to celebrate.  Doing whatever he wanted to do, which was relax a lot and go out to eat.  It was a great idea after being in LA and what was coming up after this.  The only odd thing about this beach was that it wasn’t a very large span of beach from the edge of the buildings to the surf.  Though the surf was the best my kids played in because the waves were huge; the ocean was so active!  We spent a good long time on the beach before heading out to dinner.

 

We took a few looks around the center for a fun place to eat.  We had done a little research beforehand so we knew we wanted to go to one of two places. We checked on their wait times, and opted for Tortilla Republic.  SO MUCH GOOD!  The salsas were delicious, not spicy, just delicious.  The kids got the kids enchiladas.  My husband got the carnitas, and I got the chicken enchiladas.  Everything was so good, but that dish of carnitas might have been the best carnitas we have had in a long time.  The drinks were pretty great, too.  We got a few cocktails; top shelf margarita, a luxe margarita, a pineapple mojito and a cerveza.

I left there so full, but of course, this crew wanted an ice cream.   Luckily, we had seen a gelateria a few doors down.  We walked over and the line was out alley way of the building!  I honestly did not have even a taste, but the ice cream looked amazing. They had signs everywhere stating it was authentic gelato, and there was a swarm of people  waiting.  It had to be good, right?  The consensus from my family? That it was amazing!  So glad!

After this we took a walk to grab some snacks and wine for the next day to have in our room. Checked out some windows of the art galleries as we headed back to the hotel.  We got to our room feeling so relaxed and happy.  Such a great feeling. My husband and I hung out on the balcony for a little bit.  Listening to the waves crash as the moon lit the ripples of the ocean.  Seriously, it was so beautiful it seemed fake!

 

Day 5 coming up with the best lazy beach day ever and the big man’s birthday!

Posted in My Travels

WB Tour and Hollywood Day 3

Hey Everyone!

Here we are on Day 3! This was our last full day in Los Angeles, which we saved for the hyper touristy things to do in Hollywood.

We woke up later than we had the other days but to grey skies, which was a bummer; though it was hot out. It ended up being a very hot day.  We decided it was the perfect day to start at the pool.  My husband with our oldest went to grab coffees and breakfast while our youngest and I went to scout the table situation at the pool.   The Omni does have a good set up of tables by the pool, which was perfect for us to eat some breakfast.  The sun did finally make its way out, so we swam till noonish as we had reservations for the WB Studio Tour at 2PM.

The WB Studio Tour was fun! A definite must do if you’re visiting LA.  The tour runs about three hours, but the time definitely flies with everything you are seeing and learning. We had a great guide, Alysha, and our entire experience was pretty positive.  She knew some of the most obscure things about some of the sets and sound stages  The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves right from the start.  Maybe because they were the only kids in the group? Or that they got to see some items from shows and movies they have watched?

Our favorite parts of the tour were:

  • Wonder Woman, which we are infatuated with the movie and costumes, so this was a great stop.  I am planning to be WW for Halloween, but since watching the new movie I have been stuck between wanting to be Diana from my youth (Lynda Carter) or Diana from today (Gal Gadot). Any and all ideas are welcome.
  • Harry Potter along with The Fantastic Beasts; we are the uber geeks of all the movies and J.K. Rowling’s books. You get sorted by the Sorting Hat and can see all the costumes and props up close.  My favorite costume is definitely Newt Scamander’s whole outfit with case.
  • The Ellen Show set/stage.  We were allowed to go in last-minute, and so glad we got that opportunity.  The whole vibe in there was fun, and seeing the Ellen Shop was hilarious with the underwear mannequins.
  • Using the HP flying broom interactive.  They had Batman’s bike, too.  You are set up on a broom against a green screen and they take you on a hilarious magical ride.
  • Last but definitely not least, the set of Central Perk on Friends. One of my favorite shows, which I have influenced my children in watching reruns.  This set was super cool, and a lot of fun. Well, that is if you wanted to act in a ‘scene’ on the set.  Which my children did, we waited around forever for it (they didn’t start the scene waiting clock for a long time).  Once time came, they clammed up but still raised their hands to be extras on the set.  It was super cute seeing them on the screen.  I don’t have the face nor body for TV so I opted to be an audience member. 🙂

My other favorite part of the tour was the cafe and gift shop!  🙂 We got some Central Perk coffee and fun souvenirs.

From the tour we planned to take the girls to see Hollywood Blvd for a while, then head to our dinner reservations nearby.  We luckily found a few celebrity stars along the walk to the TCL Theater/Graumann’s Chinese Theater that I had hoped to see in the midst of the craziness of Hollywood Blvd, like Walt Disney’s, David Bowie’s, Michael J Fox’s.  We got to do the fun touristy things like place our hands and/or feet inside the imprints of our favorite celebrities. Realizing how much smaller people’s feet were back in the day!  Or how tiny they were in general.  The girls loved this part a lot.

Then it was time for dinner!

Now, we had made reservations at Yamashiro Hollywood two months before per a recommendation of my friends, the ones from Australia that we went away with two years ago on a cruise.  Click here in case you don’t know what I am talking about.  The recommendation was for many things.. the best views of Hollywood/LA, authentic architecture and some pretty great sushi and cocktails.

It did not disappoint! It was beautiful!

But. First let me start off this part of the night with… Yamashiro is on the top of a mountain basically.  Ok?  It is known to be a windy hill that gives way to the beautifully ornate Japanese restaurant at the top.

Then let me follow with this… we had a great parking spot when we got to Hollywood.  Literally the corner of Hollywood Blvd and some street that was about two blocks from where we were heading.  A perfect spot to see the Walk of Fame, the prints at the theater then leave to drive up to dinner.  BUT.  My husband  had other plans. Either he didn’t want to lose the spot, or I think, pay for more parking (am I right?).  So he was sure walking up the hill to the restaurant “wouldn’t be that big of a deal”.  HE WAS WRONG.  Not only had the kids gotten tired from walking around the blvd and hot making our way through crowds, but where we ended up walking to before our reservations left us with a lot of walking to get to the street before our hike up the mountain.  Yes a hike, with dodging of on coming cars going up the steep curves. The angle of the walk was uncomfortable for the girls. My husband I were fine, just a lot of up hill stamina to keep up, and we were at this point starving.. hiking.  When we finally made it up, we got seated and told the waiter we walked up.  Well, he looked at us like we were crazy.

Looking back it was funny. In the moment it was horrible. But the atmosphere of the restaurant and then the walk down made up for it.  Actually, the walk back was just hilarious, because the steepness was way worse going down. Then we went a totally different way leaving from the gates of the grounds.  We ended up behind some apartment building that lead to a private street with no lights that had a gated end that exited to the cars leaving the restaurant! Did I mention without street lights?   I swear I live in a sitcom.

But let me back up.  The dinner was a lot of fun, and SO good!  One of my new favorite drinks is from this restaurant, a Tokyo Mule. OHMYGINGERBEERGOD.  So good, I wish I could’ve just had a never-ending supply on tap at the table! But I have kids, and I am not a drunk. Well, I am, just not in front of them.  The food is mainly sushi and some appetizer rolls/dumplings.  What we had eaten was really inventive and yummy.  So many great dishes that we shared:

  • Mountain Palace Sampler Platter; minus any nut items so it was banana leaf pork spring rolls, vegetarian spring rolls, honey baked chicken wings, shrimp dumpling and sauces
  • Red Dragon Maki roll; shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, avocado, spicy mayo and unagi sauce
  • California Tempura maki Roll; snow crab, avocado, cucumber
  • Crispy Rice Sushi maki roll; Snow Crab & Avocado

The photos above came out so dark because well, the restaurant is dimly lit because the star of the place is the view.  And what a view it was.  After dinner we took a long stroll along the grounds; checking out all the decorative aspects and that view of LA from every angle. It is very special, and the grounds outside are manicured perfectly.  Totally worth the hike.  🙂

 

Next up is day 4; leaving LA for Laguna Beach… with a few stops along the way!

Posted in My Travels

Pasadena, Los Angeles and Malibu- Day 2

Day two!

We were in our rental car by 8AM and headed right to Pasadena. The weather was hot, but dry.  Perfect, with the sun shining and warm breezes. Our first stop was unbeknownst to me, my husband likes to surprise us a lot.  We thought we were headed for coffee then to the Gamble House, but instead he took us on a self guided tour of the Back to the Future houses first!!

A little back story: I am a HUGE Back to the Future fan, like ridiculously huge. I can watch that trilogy over and over and not get bored. The week before we left for California we went to Boston’s Fan Expo, where I got to meet Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Tom Wilson.  Uhm, I had the biggest crush on Biff as a kid, so naturally I sat there like a mute when I met Mr. Wilson.  So sad.  If I had the chance to meet Crispin Glover..I think I would’ve fainted!! But back to our day.  My husband took us to the street where Marty’s parents lived.  We got to see George McFly’s house, the tree from where he fell from in front of Lorraine’s house which was actually across from Lorraine’s house.  It was so cool to see these houses!  Lorraine’s house was painted a different color so it took me a minute to see it, but wow!  These houses are all beautiful and definitely a must see if you are a fan (or just like architecture!)

After the BTTF houses, we decided it was time for coffee and breakfast.  We went to Intelligentsia Coffeebar at the heart of the center. Which I just heard recently opened near my office in Boston (score!).  We grabbed some pretty strong espresso here and lots of delicious pastry, that we shared.   When I say coffee is strong, I mean you will be awake for three days from a sip.  This stuff was S T R O N G!

After we ate we headed to the Gamble House, which opened at 10AM. My husband studied furniture design, along with architecture, in college, and we both follow the designers/revolutionaries in design.  So, the Gamble House has been on our list of ‘must sees’ since we met.  My gosh.  This house is amazing and perfectly preserved as it was when the home owners lived there.  Originally built for Mr. David Gamble of Proctor & Gamble.  The house and furnishings were designed by the firm, and brothers, Greene&Greene in 1908.  A HUNDRED AND TEN YEARS OLD!  Greene&Greene designed a lot of the large bungalow style homes in the area, which we went to go look at too.  What talent.  I have never seen so much house porn in one area, ever in my life!  The best part of all this for my husband was that between all the streets of famous bungalows, along the corner of a smaller street, was a concrete creation by one of his favorite architects, Frank Lloyd Wright.  This house was crazy patterned in concrete, super cool sight!

We spent a good amount of time in Pasadena, but we had more to do!  From Pasadena we planned to visit the Eames House in Pacific Palisades. Charles and Ray Eames were a married couple who were some of the leaders of modern architecture and furniture. And seeing this house has always been something my husband wanted to do.  BUT before we got there, we decided to make a stop along the Pacific Coast Highway to Venice Beach first.  Giving the girls some place to blow off some steam and finally see the beach!

Venice Beach is a fun area; the whole vibe is absolutely so different from the beaches from home. Just like we see on TV, the beach is pretty large with the boardwalk.  The boardwalk is so inundated with stores and food shops, and people, and people, AND PEOPLE! Funky people. haha  Then there is muscle beach.  Literally, the buffest guys I have ever seen, just sweating and working out in the sunshine…and flexing….

After getting my thrills at muscle beach, I mean, getting over all the questions my kids were asking like, “why are people working out on the beach?”, we took off to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to the Palisades. My husband and I had done this drive, without stops, back when we first were married.  It has changed a lot but the views of the ocean are still perfect.  We had some slow traffic that granted us a lot of fantastic large crashing wave sights.  Super cool, really.

We made our way up to the Eames House, which is now their foundation. You need a reservation to see the house, and adults are $10 each to be on the grounds.  The interior is off-limits unless guided on a different tour, but there are a lot of restrictions like no photos.  This was a case study house, which they built for themselves in 1949, and is important in the design community.  The house is amazing to see in person.  The foundation left it as close to exact as when the designers lived there.  They lived in the house till their deaths, Charles died in 1978 and his wife, Ray, in 1988.

We spent a lot of time at the house.  There was a blanket set up along the grass with the Eames designed House of Cards, which we own but never touch haha.  So our daughters hung out there a long while on the blanket playing as we perused around the grounds.  It was kind of surreal being there because the house in today’s standards isn’t such a big shock, but to think about in the 1940’s how “out of the box” this was is mind-blowing. For me, this house is by far my favorite in the modern movement.  And the view from the house of the Pacific Ocean at Malibu was spectacular!

After the Eames house we had reservations for dinner at the Malibu Farm, right on the pier in Malibu. This. Place. Was. Gorgeous.  The restaurant is at the beginning of the pier, with views not just of the pier but the beach below.  The waves crashed all night, keeping the girls entertained. And my husband, too.  They kept going to the glass partitions for a glance of who was getting slammed by waves below and who could surf on the beach to the right.  I thoroughly enjoyed the views all around, and the sunshine turning to sunset. We had great service and were able to hang out without being harassed for a couple of hours, which was great.  I love not being rushed, especially when the cocktails are good. The food was delicious, too.  We started with a small nacho to split.  My husband got the fish tacos. I got off menu, the best burger I have ever had. And the girls each had a crazy huge dish; one had the grilled chicken with pasta and the other grilled salmon with pasta. We enjoyed the evening on the water walking the pier.  At this point of the night, the traffic pushed us into a long drive home so we decided to surprise the girls with an ice cream at a place I was dying to go to, SomiSomi in Koreatown!

SomiSomi is an ice cream shop, and THE place in LA for taiyaki, koi fish-shaped cake/waffle.  The flavors of soft serve aren’t your run of the mill flavors. They offer ube (purple yam), matcha (green tea), milk and black sesame, and each week they vary the flavors you can twist together. But the fun is also from the flavor options you can choose. Like the filling, which they line the inside of the cone. You can choose either nutella, custard or red bean.  Then you can choose a topping, like Oreo cookie, cocoa pebbles, fruity pebbles, etc.  Also, they top it off with either a strawberry or macaroon cookie.  Everything is listed pretty clearly for you.

Their ice cream is yummmayyyy!  We all got different flavor combinations, which I have declared mine as the best one!  🙂 Milk soft serve with nutella and topped with cocoa pebbles, adorned with a pink macaroon.  How can anyone say that isn’t the best!?  If you get a chance to go, please please try all the flavors.  Some may sound odd to you, but believe me they were all amazing and unique in their own ways.

This place was lit!  Holy moly, how busy it was!  And we were so glad we got there when we did because it looked like a fleet were just dropped off to get an ice cream right after we got in line. The line went all the way to the escalator by the time we left!  The whole vibe in Koreatown, by the way, was just awesome.  People were everywhere!

We made it back to our hotel to find a pretty large Latin jazz concert, La Marisoul curates: The California Feetwarmers & Hermanos Herrera, happening on the plaza.  Luckily, the music was rocking and good, and stopped within a handful of minutes so the girls could pass right out. 🙂

Day 2 was pretty great, right?  I loved this day immensely.

 

 

Posted in My Travels

Los Angeles Day 1

I am back babbbby!

Hi everyone,

We returned from an eleven day trip in Southern California, which was beyond awesome. Let me just dive right in!

We started off our trip in Los Angeles.  We landed in the mid-afternoon, grabbed our rental car and started straight away with dropping our things off at our hotel.  The drive from the airport to the hotel was a lot of fun.  The girls noticed a lot of differences between Massachusetts and California.  The streets we took couldn’t of been more typical of LA either.  They were lined with palm trees that nestled between colorful mini bungalows all close together.  All I could think of was Tim Burton with his description of growing up in Burbank, CA, with all the homes the same.

The drive to our hotel was about forty minutes. We stayed at the Omni Hotel right in downtown LA, Bunker Hill District, which was the perfect spot for what we had planned.   Those of you that know LA know that downtown used to be a barren land just of high rises, now there is so much going on!

Our first planned stop was for some lunch at the Grand Central Market, which is located about a five minute walk from the hotel.  BUT! Along our way,  from the back door of the hotel along California Plaza, we bumped into the Angel’s Flight Railway.  This is a funicular, a pretty old one too, which travels from South Grand Ave to South Hill Ave, and vice versa.  The cost is a dollar each person each direction, and we thought it was super cute, so of course, we had to take a trip.  Which turned into like three trips, because we took it later on in the evening.

The Market was fantastic.  It is located inside a giant garage adorned with the coolest neon signage locating the vendors all around.  The place was BUSTLING!  Every turn was a new vendor and a new face. My girls and I just couldn’t get over how much LA celebrates the diversity of style, which was a show in itself. We saw one look after another of one genre to a totally new one. The expression around downtown was electric, that is the best I can describe it. Loved the feeling in the market.

You could find literally anything to eat or drink, from coffee to cocktails or German sausages to Vietnamese pho, it was the perfect spot for us.  What was on our minds?  Tacos!  We always want tacos, to be fair. So we split up to find exactly what we wanted. We ended up separating into pairs, grabbing carne asada tacos from Tacos Tumbras a Tomas for our youngest and I , and shrimp/octopus tacos from La Tostaderia for our oldest and husband.  And Mexican Cokes..because these are the best sodas on earth.  The tacos were too darn good, and so BIG!  I ordered one taco for each of us, the carne asada ones, but the taco could’ve been split into three!  Thankfully, the taqueria gave us both an extra tortilla so we could share with everyone.

From lunch we took another ride up the street with the funicular to get to our next planned stop, The Broad.  The Broad, said as brode, is a contemporary art museum that is free to the public, but reservations are needed to get in; especially for special exhibitions.  The Broad has some of the most iconic installations, like the statue of Michael Jackson with his pet Bubbles and a lot of pieces by the late, great Andy Warhol.   It is definitely a must see if you are an art fan or not.  It was a fun place to walk around.  Plus, we took a break before our timed viewing of the Kusama mirror exhibit to visit next door. The Broad is next to an iconic architectural building, the Walt Disney Concert Hall!!  You have no idea how excited I am that I have just typed out to you that I was at The Broad and Concert Hall; I have always wanted to see these places in person!

After we got our fill of art and culture, we realized we were still full from lunch, but wanted a drink and snack.  So we took a trip back down to the Grand Central Market for drinks and ice cream.  We took the stairs down this time!  At night this place was even more fun!  The neon really popped in the ceiling, and the fashion didn’t disappoint.  We grabbed ice cream from McConnell’s for everyone but me.  I love ice cream, but not as much as my family.  I don’t think anyone likes ice cream as much as these three.  What I do like is wine, so I grabbed my husband a rose cider and myself a NZ sauvignon blanc.

As the market scene started to die down, around 10PM, we decided that with the time change it was time to hit the hay.  We grabbed our last funicular ride back up the hill to our hotel. When we got to the front door of the room, we found cookies and milk for the girls, it was so thoughtful!  We raced right away to get into pjs, which is my favorite time of day, and watched some TV before heading off to sleep.

And THAT was our first day in LA.

Next up is day two, which is packed with lots of sights from Pasadena, the Pacific Coast Highway and Koreatown!

And yes, I changed up the look of my blog.  It needed a new look, just we all like a new outfit. 🙂 

 

Posted in My Travels

Maine 2018

Hey Everyone!

Arrrggggg, it’s already August! I guess, Happy August to you!

I swear this Summer has flown way too fast! Like way faster than years past.  Maybe because the girls got out of school so late, or that I wait for this time of year ALLL Yearrr LoooNNNg!?

Well, anywho, I am not going to be writing much about this trip to Maine because I think the photos / captions speak for themselves.  I had a relaxing time not thinking about much other than when to pour my next drink. (which is what I needed)  Overall, we had a great few days away with our friends making the most of the weather, the water, and view.  One of our best friends even ended up making the long drive up for an overnight with us.. and he brought Krispy Kreme donuts!  :)~

That’s a big win, Dan and Donuts.

Till next time, WordPressland!  (Which will be when I return from OUR CALIFORNIA TRIP!!) Not sure if I will blog each day while away or wait till I get back, but I am way too excited for this trip! I can’t stop talking about all the fun things we will see and do … and wear! hahah

xoxoxo