What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

Coming off what has to be the hottest days of 2014 here in LA over the weekend (and you know it’s hot when I, the perpetual lover of warmth, is complaining!). It’s expected to be yet another warm day making it hard to believe that my calendar says that fall arrives exactly one week from today. Ha! Those fools.

Here are a few random things making me smile – #2 and #8 are looking especially enticing as I wipe the sweat feminine glow from my brow currently dripping onto my keyboard. Here’s what I’m lovin’ right now:

WIRLN ATG FINAL 2

  1. The most succinct advice I’ve ever heard for those sipping “haterade.” | by Dr. Steve Maraboli
  2. The ultimate refreshment to celebrate the last summer days ahead. | Very Berry Iced Tea with Honey Mint Syrup
  3. Serious inspiration for mixing charm and modernity in a place that houses the toilet. | Rustic Industrial Master Bath
  4. The next nail polish shade to add to the collection as the seasons start to change. |  Essie’s “Island Hopping”
  5. A retro-chic way to keep eye wear protected on the go. | Woven Etchings Glasses Case
  6. The best way to dress up that next succulent purchase from Trader Joes and make it your own. |  Daylily Herb Pot
  7. New ear bling…just in time for fall. | Diamond Quartz Hoop Earrings
  8. How to add little punch at lunch to the traditional caesar salad. |  Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
  9. Gettin’ our eco-friendly on. | 50 Realistic Ways To Be More Eco-Friendly Right Now

Have an amazing week!

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Highlights

Los Angeles Traffic ATG FINAL 2_3{Ahh, the infamous Sepulveda Pass…and this is considered pretty good traffic.
If I shot this 2 hours later, you’d see why.}


Overall, the second week of September rocked as I’d hoped!

I made peace with traffic, my Monday night yoga class helped immensely with that aforementioned task, my lips and I are BFFs again thanks to Burt’s Bees, “The Good Girl” is still good, and I’m stoked about my night under the stars at The Hollywood Bowl this weekend.

I’m not at all saying that because I accepted the even more congested time of year on LA streets and highways that somehow traffic magically thinned out this week, but it seemed the moment I shifted my perspective and adjusted accordingly (by leaving earlier than usual, boo!), it physically seemed to get a little easier on the road everyday. At one point, I actually stopped and asked myself if perhaps it was as bad as I originally thought or if the universe physically heard every Angeleno’s cry and removed a few cars off the 405 as the days passed? (I’m not that naive, but a girl can dream.) One point for the old adage of changing your perspective when you can’t change anything else. It works.

(and p.s. I came across an interesting article yesterday sharing just how hard LA traffic hits the average commuter, financially and mentally, so that you know I’m not just being dramatic.)

Though this week also had its stresses of the non-traffic related variety, I’m happy to report I made it through to the other side. Whew! Things are gearing up to be incredibly busy from now until the end of the year. Pray for me!

As such, I’m making my weekends count, but then again, I always do. Outside of finishing my book and my plans at the Bowl; I’m looking forward to seeing Kristen Wiig’s new film, The Skeleton Twins; and I finally hope to sit down, pull out my tools and supplies and just make the necklace I’ve been looking for forever, myself.

Happy weekend! x

Sycamore Kitchen ATG FINAL

{An afternoon stop on a hot summer day at one of my favorite places…}

Sycamore Kitchen Latte ATG FINAL

{…just to grab my 2nd favorite latte (Blu Jam still makes my favorite).}

Verge Sandals ATG FINAL

{My last summer indulgence.}

Fall Arriving Trees ATG FINAL

{Signs that fall is near.}

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Peace, Peace, Peace.

May Peace Prevail on Earth ATG FINAL


Where: Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
Location: 3500 West Adams Boulevard, Mid-City
Cost: Free


Peace Awareness Labyrinth Exterior ATG FINAL


“Peace, peace, peace.”

David, my yoga instructor, always closes with these three simple, yet powerful words at the end of every practice. I always catch this slight difference from the more commonly used “namaste” that’s traditionally expressed in my experience at the end of a class. And while “namaste” has an equally powerful connotation by giving the deepest levels of respect when greeting or parting from a person – there’s something about being told to leave in “peace” that decidedly has me going out into the world a little more calmer, perhaps awakened…but almost always in a more harmonious, focused space than when I arrived 90 minutes prior.

How long that feeling lasts before the chaos of the world starts to seep into my peace bubble varies from practice to practice.

I’ve heard more than once that it’s a life-long journey toward cultivating and maintaining an unshakable sense of peace as we maneuver through our days. I like to think of it as exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it. It’s something that must be a priority and sought consistently to reap the rewards. And like weight training, if you stop too long, you may have to start from square one to build that muscle again.

How you go about your peace exercises differs. Perhaps it’s through a sitting meditation, yoga, or going for walk. For some, peace comes from treating yourself to a massage or facial, going to see a movie alone, reading a good book, or journaling. The point is, on some level, it’s something that we as human beings are seeking constantly – a space or a moment in time where you feel grounded in an ever-changing, uncontrollable world.

Much to my surprise, right in the middle of Los Angeles in the most unsuspecting of places lies an entire sanctuary to assist in the journey. A few weeks ago, I learned of the The Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens and instantly was on-board to check it out. Their mission: to provide an oasis for anyone looking to reconnect with themselves, to take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and just breathe.

Peace Awareness Property

Fountain ATG FINAL

Set on the estate of a restored mansion along the busy Adams Boulevard, the stunning property welcomes you just beyond wrought iron gates. Behind the historic manor boasts a labyrinth and exquisitely designed meditation garden, the entire space fabricated with the goal to envelop all things beauty and peace.

The labyrinth might find you in the midst of a calming walking meditation as the wind chimes that hang on the trees nearby gently sing. No matter where you sit in the neighboring mediation garden, the soothing sounds of water surround you as you gaze at the endless greenery, the bamboo particularly prevalent, and the lily pond complete with fish.

Down to Meditation Garden ATG FINAL

Lily Pond ATG FINAL

I’ve sat in many beautiful gardens in my time. I’ve experienced many attempts (and admitted failures) at learning the art of meditation. And yet, there was something about this place in particular that takes the experience of peace to another realm by simply inviting yourself there and being present to the gifts around you. You find that you don’t need to work so hard at quieting the mind, the setting does it for you.

Peace Awareness Fountain

Peace Labryinth ATG FINAL

Interestingly, I lived a few blocks away from the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens for a year after college and never knew about such a special place less than 5 minutes away from my duplex. What I think is unique about retreats such as these when thinking about those aforementioned “peace exercises” is using it as a resource in a manner that feels right for you, no pressure involved.

Mediation Garden Walkway ATG FINAL

Mediation Garden View ATG FINAL

In fact, it’s best said by directly quoting from their website,”PAL&G is here to promote peace and help you reconnect and renew spiritually in your own way.” I suppose all I needed in that moment on that beautiful Sunday was a space to kick my feet up, sit still, and just breathe – the perfect supplement toward strengthening that muscle and building a stronger peace bubble.

“Peace, peace, peace” be to you as well. x

Meditation Garden 2 ATG FINAL

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5 Reasons This Week Will Rock!

5 Reasons ATG FINAL Sept 8 2014


Another week boys and girls!

It was insanely hot here in LA this past weekend, with temperatures just over 100°. I was surprised my car didn’t melt before me in protest.  As such, it was quite the surprise to wake to the sounds of a light rain this morning. Not to worry though, today’s high find us at a healthy 87° – looks like we’ll be back on track for another warm summer week ahead. I suppose that the wet morning welcome was a sign that the weather gods know our plight (and our drought situation) and that relief is on the way…someday.

As we make our way through the second week of September, it occurred to me while sitting in traffic (more on that below) that I could use a little perspective boost. I have much to look forward to over the next week and it’s keeping me excited and in a more zen place until the weekend finds us again. (This is essentially how I trick myself into dealing with Mondays.)

Here are 5 reasons this week will rock…


1. I’ll make peace with traffic.

LA and traffic go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s just apart of living here. You learn at a young age (if you’re native like myself) or new in town very quickly to plan ahead, leave early, and make the Google Maps app your friend. I thought I made peace with LA traffic…then September comes. Since I no longer personally deal with a school schedule, nor do I have children of my own to remind me, I always forget that just after Labor Day through mid-November (when I guess the dropout rate peaks and traffic thins out again) that school is in session. It seems the first few months of a new school year completely screw with the balance of “normal” LA traffic (which I have made peace with) and gives you the “I just want to charter a private jet to get to work unbearable traffic” in the mornings (which I have to make peace with again every September). Last week, I’m ashamed to admit that I got to the office more than once already totally annoyed because what takes 25 minutes in “normal” terrible LA traffic, took me an hour in “private jet unbearable traffic!” Not a good way to start a new day. This week, I’ll leave earlier, mentally preparing myself better. I’ll make sure I have a cup of coffee in drink holder and music as loud as I can stand to get me through each morning with a smile on my face. This week will rock because I’m determined to make peace with traffic…again. And pray that November gets here…like now.

2. Yoga works if you work it. It’s worth it.

What is sure to help keep my zen in check is going to my favorite yoga class tonight. Though I’ve been attending this  Hatha Yoga class for about 6 weeks now, I think I’m finally getting back into my yoga groove. I can feel myself improving, growing stronger, and I absolutely love the feeling and the space I’m in when I leave. I adore the instructor, David, a true yogi through and through. He challenges us and pushes us, but has the most gentle way of encouraging us to listen to our body and modifies any pose as-needed without making you feel shameful about it. The ironic thing is that I have to get back into my car and drive some more to get home, but at 9:00pm traffic is never a problem.

3. My lips love me.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year is when my skin starts to rebel against me. Every part of me starts to dry out: my hands, my lips, essentially, any part of me involving skin. I was stoked when I stumbled across Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Tinted Color Lip Balm over the weekend. This stuff is incredible. It’s moisturizing, has a slight shine, and a hint of color. My lips love me right now for thinking of them and not waiting until they’re totally chapped to address the seasonal elephant in the room.

4. The Good Girl.

I started a new read on my Kindle and I can’t put it down. Every minute of free time I have this week will be to see what happens to “The Good Girl” by Mary Kubica. It’s a thriller/mystery novel that has a delicious set-up. I’m only about 30% through – so I can’t say much about its merits. I oftentimes love the build-up when it comes to a good thriller narrative, then become disappointed at the climax (insert: Gone Girl here). I’ll keep you posted.

5. Fireworks / The Hollywood Bowl.

I’m SO looking forward to finally making it to the Hollywood Bowl this weekend just in time to catch a concert before the end of summer. The icing on the cake is that this is the last of the Bowl’s summer series featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra along with a fun tribute this year to The Simpsons 25th Anniversary. A large fireworks spectacular, the whole cast, one of the best orchestras in the world, and a picnic under the stars couldn’t sound more appealing. Look for a full post on that special night to come.

Have an amazing week ahead guys! And if you’re in the LA area, just make peace with the traffic. We’re all in hell right now. :)

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 Image Sources: Fireworks: By Thomas Hawk from San Francisco via Wikimedia Commons // Traffic: By Saad Akhtar, both used under CC BY (all others are mine.)

Highlights

make a wish ATG FINAL{Making a wish, hoping it comes true.}

It always seems to take a few days to get back into the swing of things after a long holiday weekend. The moment I find myself steadily back into my weekday routine/mindset (circa yesterday, if I’m honest), it’s slightly comical to me that the weekend is upon us again so soon. No complaints here, it’s just crazy how time works.

The holiday weekend found my boyfriend and I doing some exploring downtown to finally check-out the landmark Grand Central Market and The Last Bookstore, spaces that equally scream history and flair. Although, the highlight had to be when we stumbled upon a true gem in the heart of Los Angeles, The Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens and enjoyed an afternoon at one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever been. If you’ve never sat in a mediation garden, you’re missing out! I’ll elaborate on this experience in a future post.

September is off to a good, but somewhat exhausting start. I can’t seem to maintain a consistent level of energy and I suspect that’s something that a good vacation could help with, but isn’t in the cards any time soon. The busiest time of year for me starts now and won’t let up much until next year. So, I’ll have to find balance in the chaos.

I spent some time this week really thinking about ways to improve my energy levels at home, while also thinking about tweaks I can make now to make it through the more indulgent time of year dead ahead. I’ve been logging all my meals for just over a month now to see where I can improve (and it’s really eye-opening how much unnecessary snacking I had been doing all summer). My issue has never been that I’m an unhealthy eater, because I’m not. What I’ve always known and can now attest to since I’ve been keeping a food log lately, is re-thinking and making better decisions when it comes to portion sizes (and, admittedly, ridding myself of the nasty habit of snacking after dinner while watching TV). To up the ante on my new-found motivation to work on my energy levels and my diet, I also spent some time this week researching food scales (to better gauge portions when cooking at home) and pedometers (because I know I’m not getting my 10,000 steps a day). I think I’ve found the scale and the pedometer I want to add to my experiment and will make my purchases over the weekend. I’ve also committed to making myself go to bed earlier. That one thing alone does wonders! The next step is to start thinking about juicing (something that I’ve been wanting to try) to help get nutrients in a more powerful way to see how my body responds.

Then again, perhaps this is just part of aging and I need to learn to let nature take its course. Ha!

It seems from here on out the rest of year just flies by. Soon enough I’ll be blogging about fall trends, Halloween plans, eating turkey (or usually ham in my case), then trying to budget and figure out that jolly time of year we call Christmas. I can’t believe 2014 is leaving us in just 3 short months.

Until then, I’m soaking up the last of the summer days ahead and look forward to sharing them with you.

Have a great weekend! x

Meditation Garden 2 ATG FINAL{My first time in a meditation garden…clearly feeling very at home.}

Rita's Custard ATG FINAL{Frozen custard from Rita’s in the spirit of Labor Day. No other snacking involved.}

WeHo Walk ATG FINAL{Walking through West Hollywood on a gorgeous Sunday to grab a latte.}

Grand Central Market Exterior ATG FINAL{The Famous Grand Central Market, exterior.}

Grand Central Market Interior ATG FINAL{The Famous Grand Central Market.}

The Last Bookstore ATG FINAL{ The Last Bookstore.}

The Last Book Store ATG FINAL 2

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Birchbox Review | AUGUST

Birchbox August ATG FINAL

Happy September! Let’s take a quick step back and explore last month’s Birchbox.

Here’s how the latest and greatest in beauty made August feel a little bit more gorgeous…or not so much.


#1. Neil George Shampoo | I’m pretty much at a place where I wish Birchbox would stop sending me shampoo and conditioner samples altogether. With the exception of the Davines line, I’m consistently disappointed by the shampoo and conditioner products. What’s worse is when so-called celebrated “top Hollywood hair stylists” create product lines for us regular folk that channel nothing more than what you’d find stocked standard in a hotel bathroom at the Marriott. (I can’t take full credit for this analogy, I read something similar when researching the product, but I couldn’t agree more with that description.) Unfortunately, what Birchbox seems to be missing (though I’m sure they’re aware of it per the meticulously detailed profile they have you fill out when signing up) is that I am African-American, and therefore, require tons of moisture in both a shampoo and conditioner. Thick, creamy, lather-rich shampoos are my go-to. Neil George couldn’t be more opposite of this. It has the consistency of a step above water, and barely lathered after using half the sample (I’m sorry, I like a lathering shampoo). Perhaps this works better on a different hair type from mine (though this product is not highly reviewed overall on Birchbox.com). I ended up giving this to my boyfriend (whose hair texture is the complete contrast of mine) so as to not waste it, and even he thought it was “just fine.”

Overall: Pass.

#2. Neil George Conditioner | See above and insert said comment here.

Overall: Pass.

#3. SeaRX Birch Sap Moisturizing Lotion | This product was the star of my August Birchbox, a surprisingly refreshing and effective moisturizing lotion. I absolutely LOVED the smell and the lightweight texture. Enhanced with minerals from the ocean, birch sap, and sugar – there was something non-threatening about applying it on my face. It’s as if you could almost feel nature melt seamlessly into the skin. I actually looked forward to using this product, and appreciated the way my skin looked and felt after each usage. The downside, which is uber important to me, is that there is no SPF protection included in this product – a necessity for me when thinking about a facial moisturizer. The good news is that this product can be used all over the body, which I do like when it comes to versatility. If I were to proceed with this gem full-time, I’d either only use it at night, or supplement a sunscreen for day use (which drives the cost up more, not making me happy given that this product is already $28 full-sized).

Overall: A do, though disappointed in the no SPF factor.

#4. Dr. Jart+ PORE MEDIC Pore Minish Primer | It took me awhile to even warm up to the idea of a primer. I always thought if you bought the right make up this step was unnecessary. I came to the conclusion after being introduced to Lancome’s La Base Pro Face Primer in one of my early Birchbox’s that a primer is, in fact, a good idea and now I’m hooked. Primers smooth the skin, helps prevent makeup from seeping into pores (and clogging them), as well as keep your makeup looking as is of you’d just applied it. I’m especially a fan of primers during the summer to help maintain application as much as possible during the warmer (read: sweaty) months of the year. This one by Dr. Jart did an admirable job. I can’t say that my pores looked tightened, because in general my pores look just fine if you ask me. Dr. Jart’s primer also claims to improve complexion. I can’t vouch for that either given the short time I’ve been using the sample. What it does (and did well) is create a the perfect canvas for make up application. Kudos to them for removing a lot of the no-no chemicals found in products (i.e. parabens, sulfates, etc.). I also like the more reasonable price point. The Lancome primer I use is smaller at .8oz and costs $10 more.

Overall: A do.

#5. Noir Cosmetics Long-Wear Eyeliner | Overall, I found this to be an effective eyeliner. It glides on about as smoothly as a pencil eyeliner can, and does so with a rich jet black pigmentation. I didn’t test its “water-proof” claim personally, but can attest to its wear. I won’t say that this liner doesn’t smudge (because it did some) but given the opaqueness, and the fact that this is not a gel or liquid liner, it performed well. I am especially impressed with its vitamin E and jojoba oil ingredients – making it more appealing for such a sensitive area (and those of us who wear contacts!). I don’t find this to be unreasonably priced at $15 either. Win, win.

Overall: A do.


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Highlights

Highlights Header ATG FINAL{A Saturday well spent at the museum.}

Though it’s still very much summer, I can feel the subtle shift to fall – well, as much of a “fall” as LA can muster. While we’re still about 3 weeks out according to the calendar, I can feel a more gentle breeze in the evenings, my A/C doesn’t need to be on every time I’m home, and those damn flowers are starting to fall off the tree and stick to my freshly washed car that’s just minding its own business in the parking lot at home. I’m not at all getting prepared for a complete change in season anytime soon though. LA typically channels summer until late October into early November (no joke). My boots and scarves will have to collect a bit more dust before I can find a legitimate excuse to break them out.

Until then, I’m more than happy to soak up the rest of summer. My summer bucket list is coming along, but I’m finding that I’m only at about 40% through it. The goal is to knock this up to 60% by the end of the holiday weekend!

Overall, a good week on my end. I spent most of it prepping a film shoot that we’re heading up to San Francisco for later this fall, then unwinding with a more nights than I care to share of “why am I watching this?” reality tv.

The highlights of life since we last caught up involved breaking the rules when it comes to yogurt, spending a relaxing Saturday at the LACMA, and heading over to the Sundance Theater in West Hollywood to check-out Mark Duplass’s new film “The One I Love.”

The One I LOVE ATG FINAL{“The One I Love” at the The Sundance Sunset 5.}

I’m a huge fan of independent cinema. It’s my absolute favorite type of film, behind a well-made feature-length documentary film, of course. I must say, “The One I Love” is…unique. It plays on what is likely to be a trend in relationship-based or genre-specific films, by not falling into one particular category at all. “The One I Love” is part comedy, part drama, and part sci-fi. This hybrid approach breeds a narrative that’s inherently interesting because you can’t quite place where the story is going. In some cases, this works, in others it doesn’t. This is a case where it worked…I think. I’ll admit, it took such an unexpected turn that you’re not entirely sure what actually happened, and it certainly didn’t help that it was left completely open to interpretation. This would be a case where I’d watch the film again with a more critical eye after the first pass to come to a firm conclusion. It’s available on VOD if you’re not in an area where the film is screening at your local cineplex. If you happen to catch it, let me know what you think…and what the hell happened!?!

So, onto the biggest highlight of my week! Let me preface that living in LA makes seeing a celeb around town a dime a dozen and because of the business I’m in and the all of the screenings/events surrounding the industry – there are few people that I actually get giddy over. This is not to brag, it’s just how it is. It’s actually frowned upon to freak out around celebrities when you’re just a “regular” (like myself) working in the biz. However, the big draw for seeing the film was that Mindy Kaling was moderating the Q&A along with Mark Duplass after the film! I would (and did) get a little giddy for her.

I, like almost every other normal 20-30 something gal in America, feel some sort of weird connection to her. It’s like you can actually picture yourself hanging out with her because she seems so authentic, funny, and down to earth. I’ve often stated on the blog pretty emphatically that we’re really BFFs…she just doesn’t know that. :)

Unfortunately, my camera died (what is it with me about not keeping my battery charged!?!) so I didn’t get any shots of her (except the exterior marquee and dinner that night), but trust me – it really happened! And p.s. she’s pretty damn cool in person.

harvest salad ATG FINAL{Taking myself to dinner before the screening – the yummiest salad ever from the Veggie Grill. Note the grilled peaches and pecans!}

With that, it seems this weekend will find me working on my summer bucket list some, and giving myself a much-needed mani/pedi. Oh, and I’m really starting to push it and need to tackle my laundry. Since it’s likely everyone will be out and about for Labor Day and not in front of their computers (if they’re smart), I’m not posting on Monday, but can’t wait to catch up with you again on Wednesday.

I look forward to a relaxing holiday weekend ahead. I wish you the same. See you in September! x

Yogurtland ATG FINAL{That time I totally just ate Yogurtland for dinner. Hey, it kills two birds with one stone: dinner & dessert in one! Less guilt.}

Words_ ATG FINAL{A gem I spotted on the walk to grab my Sunday latte. And they say LA is full of negativity.}

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