Sweet Butter

Sweet Butter ATG FINAL


Where: Sweet Butter
Location: 13824 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks
Cost: $$


What is it about seeing a line hanging out of a restaurant that instantly makes you feel like you’re missing out? I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but in L.A., anytime you see a group of people congregated outside a dining venue, it’s usually a place you want to be. Aside from word of mouth, it also happens to be the best form of free marketing for an establishment. I cannot tell you how many places I’ve frequented based merely on “line hanging out of the door” advertising. And 9 times out of 10, I can understand the hype. That 1 other time, well

Whenever I find myself driving down Ventura Boulevard on a sunny weekend morning or early afternoon (moon roof open and iPod on shuffle), inevitably, my eye would be drawn to the crowd of people just outside a little yellow building that channels a rustic, welcoming feeling. My eye would then look up and smile at the charming marquee. Sweet Butter. Something in the name just grabs you.

I don’t think there’s anything that I enjoy more than kicking-off a weekend by going out to breakfast. Sadly, it’s not something I get to do as often as I’d like, so I’m particularly picky when choosing a place. I’m all about the food (of course!) but I admit that I’m a sucker for good ambiance. I trust that when my fellow Angelenos feel the need to wait on the sidewalk for a table, it must be for something pretty special. Angelenos don’t typically have the patience to just stand around…especially when you can walk 2 minutes in either direction to find somewhere else to eat.

Sweet Butter Seating _ATG FINAL

{Exterior/The best seats in the house.}

After hitting Yelp to ensure legitimacy, Sweet Butter became the next place to conquer. Though I can appreciate the kind of business that has people so into it that they’re willing to stand on the sidewalk for scrambled eggs, I made it a point to go during their slower time for my inaugural visit. It was a crisp, Friday morning in January around 10:00am, the place practically deserted. In other words, perfect timing.

I was immediately struck by the “homey” feel to Sweet Butter and the use of the space. As you enter through wrought iron gates you’re instantly welcomed by a seating area, doors on either side of it. The one of the left leading to where the magic happens, the kitchen. The one on the right, where you consume and enjoy the magic. It holds the bakery, market, coffee bar, and most importantly, it’s where you order.

Sweet Butter Welcoming Words_ATG FINAL

{Positive words and cucumber-infused water to greet you.}

Sweet Butter Market_ATG FINAL

{Sweet Butter has a charming little market inside, were you can purchase everything from jam to candles.}

Sweet Butter Menu_Interior_ATG FINAL

{Perusing the menu. / Checking out the interior shop.}

The menu is diverse enough to cater to anyone’s needs – whether you’re in the mood for breakfast (served all day), a hearty salad, a sandwich or a wrap. The same attention given to the decor, is equally allocated to the ingredients used on the menu. Sweet Butter’s turkey, chicken, and beef are all free-range or grass-feed. They personally make their own salad dressing, spreads, and pastries in-house using the freshest of ingredients, without preservatives. Are you vegan or gluten-intolerant? Heck, do you need a last-minute gift for the foodie in your life? Sweet Butter’s got you covered.

Swwt Butter Interior ATG FINAL

{Interior. Artisan products for sale.}

Sweet Butter Interiors ATG FINAL

{Coffee bar menu. / Bookshelf full of goodies to purchase.}

Caffeine addicts: I was beyond bummed when I ordered a “vanilla” latte and was told that they don’t make them. (Boo!) The baritsa was quick to try to put a smile on my face and offered their signature “sweet latte” made with simple syrup instead. My frown was instantly turned upside down. She was right. I didn’t miss the subtle sweetness of vanilla, the simple syrup did just the trick – and I’m sure in a much healthier fashion. Admittedly, I’ve been back a handful of times just to stop in and grab a latte to-go.

Sweet Butter Latte_ATG FINAL

{Their sweet latte is to die for. It’s my favorite new place to grab a latte in the Valley.}

I must have passed the wrought iron gates and yellow walls of Sweet Butter on Ventura Boulevard dozens of times over the last few years, always making a mental note that my next girl’s brunch would find me there. Unfortunately, the blessing and the curse of living in a big city with dining options abound, is that it’s slightly overwhelming! I simply never got around to it. I don’t know what it was that made me finally stop being so curious about what was on the other side of the crowded sidewalk. Perhaps it really came down to feeling like I was missing out. And indeed, I was.

Since there are as many cafés in LA as there are out of work actors, I’m looking for what makes an establishment stand out. Of course, a long line of devotees is a good start, but what more does it have to offer? Sweet Butter creates an experience around food. From the quality ingredients, to the welcoming decor; the artisan shop, to the best latte I’d had in a while.

And you know me, if the latte’s right…I’ll be back.

Overview:

PROS: Great ambiance, quaint market, fresh ingredients, well-curated breakfast and lunch menu, staff friendly, vegan and gluten-free options available, pay before you eat (perfect for when you don’t want the hassle of splitting the bill), and online ordering ready for in-store pick-up.

CONS: Parking is difficult (but when is it not?), coffee is pricey (but worth it), the lunch rush and weekends are extremely busy (I waited 45 MINUTES during my second visit to receive my order), and hard to find a table during rush times.

Swwet Butter Pancakes_ATG FINAL 2

{Mia’s Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, blueberry pancakes.}

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Hollywood Costume Exhibit

Hollywoood Costume_ATG FINAL HEADER


What: Hollywood Costume Exhibit
Where: The Historic Wilshire May Company Building
Location: 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile
Cost: $20.00


Unlike some years, I’ll remember fondly how I kicked-off 2015…and that’s in-style. Literally. While most likely spent January 1st curled up on the couch nursing their New Year’s Eve hang-over, we found our way through the easily maneuverable LA streets to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences new home on Wilshire Boulevard. Currently inside the historic Wilshire May Company Building, resides a tribute to Hollywood history. The caveat is that this history is told through fabric and shoes, handbags and hats.

Hollywood Costume creates the rare opportunity of introducing movie-lovers to the iconic wardrobe worn by some of the most legendary actors to ever grace the big screen. The exhibition highlights over 150 costumes spanning the Golden Age of Cinema (the late 1920s) to the present day. Its aim is not only to allow the costumes themselves to step out of the screen and into the general public, but to further acquaint fiction with reality by inviting an up-close and personal look at those behind these emblematic looks, the costume designer.

Hollywood Costume ATG FINAL CU{Front entrance.}

The exhibition’s message is clear: without costume designers and what they bring to the table, one of the most pivotal aspects to the cinematic process is valueless. Costumes encourage character development, create a sense of time and place, and most importantly, drive the narrative. Ultimately, without the right look an “actor” is just “an actor,” but with the right attire, an “actor” becomes someone we see as a character, separate from the movie star on-screen. This is why we see Indiana Jones, and not Harrison Ford; why we see Batman, and not Christian Bale; and why we see Dorothy Gale, not Judy Garland.

Hollywood Costume TIX_ATG FINAL{Tickets.}

Like the characteristics of Hollywood itself, the exhibition expressively features a dramatic, and moody approach. Dim, yet strategic lighting showcases the glitz of a dress or the cut of a suit. The room instantly encourages viewers to travel back in time, to when you first met these pieces on-camera. The treat here is not only seeing wardrobe that’s instantly recognizable, but absorbing the words and video interviews of those personally involved with building the looks, reminiscing over how and what it took to create these iconic movie characters.

See the white ivory William Travilla dress that exposed Marilyn Monroe’s legs as she famously stood over the subway grate in The Seven Year Itch (that same dress sold for $4.6 million at a 2011 auction). Stand in front of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins costume. See Beyoncé as a “Dreamgirl.” Take a moment to re-visit Julia Roberts’ memorable red evening gown in Pretty Woman. Look at Rocky’s actual boxing shorts. See one of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra ensembles. Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spiderman, Darth Vader; and Bond…James Bond, all make an appearance. And the highlight, staring at Dorothy’s famous (estimated $3-$4 million dollar-valued) ruby slippers from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.

It’s hard to capture the breadth of what’s contained in the exhibition in words. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the galleries. I shot the exteriors, but the following images are courtesy of The Academy to give you a taste of what’s inside:

Titanic_Costumes_ATG FINAL

{Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson / Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic, 1997}

The Birds_Costume_ATG FINAL

{Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels, The Birds, 1963}

Superman_SuperHeroes_Costumes_ATG FINAL

{Front: Chris Evans as Captain America / Henry Cavill as Superman (2013)
Top: Christopher Reeves as Superman (1978)
Back: Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man / Christian Bale as Batman}

Pretty Woman_Costume_ATG FINAL

{Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman, 1990}

Star Wars_Kill Bill_James Bond_ATG FINAL

{Daniel Craig as James Bond / Harrison Ford as Han Solo / Uma Thurman as The Bride (Kill Bill)}

Social Network_Argo Costume_ATG FINAL

{Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network, 2010 / Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez, Argo, 2012}

Indiana Jones_ATG FINAL

{Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.}

Meryl Streep_Costumes_ATG FINAL

{A special tribute to the range characters played by the incomparable Meryl Streep. Looks from The Iron Lady, It’s Complicated, Mamma Mia, and Out of Africa.}

American Hustle_Costume ATG FINAL

{Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser / Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, American Hustle, 2013}

Needless to say, it was an unforgettable way to spend my first afternoon of 2015. Nearly three hours later, we emerged, filled with a rich and renewed appreciation for costume design. It’s pretty astounding when you think about how much clothing impacts a film and your memory of it. I don’t necessarily recollect every aspect of a film, but can instantly be transported to that world (or a time in my life) when seeing even a short clip of a sweeping camera movement over an iconic costume.

Hollywood Costume does a phenomenal job of curating and combining my two favorite “F” words: film and fashion. It salutes and elevates key players and key moments in the art of cinema.

Just a note that if you plan to visit Hollywood Costume, that it is a timed exhibition. This means that guests are admitted into the presentation at designated time slots on specific days to prevent over-crowding. It’s encouraged that you buy your tickets in advance on-line. (Hint: use promo code “MayCo” for a special discount).

The exhibition closes Monday, March 2nd.

Get there quick…you won’t regret it!

Hollywood Costume Program_ATG FINAL

{Program.}

Hollywood Costume Exterior_ATG FINAL

{Full exterior, Wilshire May Co. Building. Saying goodbye after an incredible day.}

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*Interior photo sources via The Academy website press kit.

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Salt&Straw_Header_ATG FINAL{Feast your eyes on Chocolate Gooey Brownie ice cream.}


Where: Salt & Straw
Location: 240 North Larchmont Boulevard, Larchmont Village
Cost: $$


Just a few doors down the street from “The (over-hyped) Best Iced Latte in America,” rests one of the newest additions to Larchmont Boulevard, and it’s quickly becoming the ice cream spot in town. It’s not unusual to see the line hanging out the door into the wee hours of the night; as Angelenos happily fork over their hard-earned money for a slightly expensive, yet decadent, brain freeze.

Salt & Straw Exterior _ATG FINAL

Originating in The Beaver State (that’s Oregon, if you didn’t catch my attempt to be clever), Salt & Straw aims to take a beloved American indulgence to a new level. You might be asking, how does one do that exactly? If you think about it, unlike certain treats, ice cream couldn’t be a more accessible delicacy. If you’re in dire straits in the middle of the night to deal with a crappy day by drowning your sorrows in a tub of ice cream, a trip to your neighborhood grocery store happens to also have the added benefit of welcoming you with more options than you’ll ever need. And yet, I can see why scoop shops, like Salt & Straw or Sprinkles Ice Cream, might withstand the test of time…and the abundance of accessibility.

In a nutshell, it’s because when heading to specialty places such as these it’s in “the event” of it all. It’s in the getting in the car with a destination in mind. It’s in the anticipation of a rewarding treat. It’s in the gazing at the menu, deciding what you want. It’s in the tasting of the samples. It’s in the ambiance. But ultimately, it’s in the product itself – usually served with the freshest of ingredients and thoughtful presentation.

Suffice to say then, that Salt & Straw makes ice cream an event.

Salt&Straw_Exterior_Interior_ATG FINAL{Exterior/Interior seating areas.}

On a dreary, late Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, we paid a visit to see what The Beaver State famously had years before us Angelenos, a Salt & Straw. With much luck, and I’m sure fortuitous timing (everyone was likely at the mall finishing up some last-minute Christmas shopping), we found the place nearly deserted. In fact, we were in and out in a matter of minutes, thanks to no line!

What immediately feels distinct about Salt & Straw, compared to your more typical scoop shops, was the easy and inviting ambiance. This was achieved through carved wood; and warm, moody lighting. The space isn’t very big, and there isn’t much seating; but for the short time you’re inside, it certainly leaves an impression.

Salt & Straw_Interior_Counter_ATG FINAL{Interior/counter.}

For just over $4.00, I walked out of Salt & Straw’s welcoming shop with a scoop of Chocolate Gooey Brownie ice cream (pictured above) in hand. While the price is reasonable if you’re headed in for a solo treat for yourself, or on a date, it can certainly add up if dad decides to take a family of four out for ice cream and everyone wants a double scoop.

That being said, one spoonful was literally all it took. As the ice cream hit my tongue, I could taste the love that went into every aspect of it. It wasn’t until I got home and did a little research, that I realized the detail put into what ultimately, might come across as a simple scoop of ice cream. Turns out, the chocolate used in its base is from organic Holy Kakow Chocolate products, and the brownies are baked fresh, infused with marshmallows to give them a special fluff…and this dedication to quality is before they’ve even churned it together to make the final product!

Salt & Straw is regarded for their use of locally sourced, fresh ingredients; but also for their eclectic flavors. Admittedly, I went with a safe flavor for my inaugural visit, but take two will find me bolder to try some of their more creative options: Avocado & Strawberry Sherbet or Ojai Olive Oil & Burnt Orange Marmalade. Then again, I can get behind their Central Coast Champagne Sorbet, too.

They keep their popular permanent “classic” flavors on-hand at all times. The great news is that they’re also constantly rotating their selection, introducing new flavors every month to keep the menu fresh; and to keep Angelenos coming back, forking over their hard-earned money for a slightly expensive, yet decadent, brain freeze.

And this, my friends, is how you beat ice cream accessibility. It’s the big “event” taking place in Larchmont Village at the moment.

Well played, Salt & Straw. Well played.

Salt&Straw_IceCreamcase_ATG FINAL{Order your favorites to-go by the pint!}

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The Simpsons Take The Bowl

bart ATG FINAL

What: The Simpsons 25th Anniversary Bash
Where: The Hollywood Bowl
Location: 2301 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood

Hollywood Bowl Sign ATG FINAL


Admittedly, it’s been a long while since I’ve actually snuggled up on the couch to watch an episode of The Simpsons, and yet, it still feels so deeply embedded as apart of my life. Perhaps it’s because the show is almost as old as I am. I have plenty of fond memories closing out the weekend as a kid on Sunday nights, laughing hysterically at the antics of the residents of Springfield over a bowl of ice cream with my family. I even recall coming home after school catching re-runs as I finished up my homework most evenings of the week.

I remember the big “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” cliff-hanger. I loved catching the cleverly-produced Halloween specials every fall. And I can still hear Krusty the Clown’s crazy laugh in my head at any given moment…20 years later.

It’s no surprise then that watching Nancy Cartwright perform “Do the Bartman” would instantly feel so reminiscent, which Yeardley Smith shared on-stage that night was in fact, written by Michael Jackson. And speaking of Michael Jackson – I teared up with child-like awe when they showed the clip of the iconic episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” featuring Leon Kompowsky, a patient Homer meets during a stint in a mental institution who believes he’s Michael Jackson. Fun fact I learned that night:  MJ did Leon’s voice talent, but hired an impersonator, Kipp Lennon to sing “Happy Birthday, Lisa.” Kipp Lennon came out moments later and performed it live. It was pretty incredible. His resemblance to the late King of Pop’s voice undeniable.

The Simpsons ATG FINAL{The line was too long to take a picture on the famous Simpsons couch, so I snapped a quick photo in between set-ups for the next person. Insert me on the left.}

It’s only fitting then that to salute the longest running American sitcom ever, that The Simpsons would do it big.

And big they did.

For three consecutive nights under the stars (and during the worst heat wave ever!) at the equally iconic Hollywood Bowl, The Simpsons took reign to celebrate 25 years of laughter. The entire venue became a salute to Springfield. Donuts hung above you, Homer and Marge were available for photos, Simpsons-themed treats made for sale at the concession stands, and some of the most memorable residents of Springfield made an appearance as you made your way through the amphitheater.

Simpsons Characters ATG FINAL{The cast made appearances at every turn.}

Themed Snacks ATG FINAL{Simpsons-themed pink donuts, Flaming Moe’s and Duff Energy Drinks for sale throughout the venue.}

Donuts to greet you ATG FINAL{Donuts hung above you. Photo ops abound.}

Marge Bathrooms ATG FINAL{Even the women’s restrooms signs became “Simpson-ized.”}

Hollywood Bowl_Wide View ATG FINAL{Getting to our seats…yes, we were waaaay in the back! The good news: there isn’t a bad seat at the Hollywood Bowl.}

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We attended the last night of the show, the Bowl’s final performance for the summer 2014 season and unarguably the warmest night of the year.

What a treat to see the residents of Springfield come to life accompanied by the world class Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Co-hosts Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith did a seamless job slipping in and out of character, easily being themselves during their hosting duties, but seemingly even more comfortable voicing their iconic characters throughout the night.

Bart, Lisa, the vampy Lurleen Lumpkin, Chief and Ralph Wiggum, Apu, and Moe among others all made appearances during the performance. (I’m always amazed at how many different voices one actor alone does on the show!)

Special guests graced the stage throughout the evening to sing in-character, or share thoughts about their time working with The Simpsons: Beverly D’Angelo, John Lovitz, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Conan O’Brien (who I didn’t know was a writer on the show! How did I miss that!?!), Kipp Lennon; and a hysterically sweet monologue opening the show by creator, Matt Groening.

If had to pick my three favorite moments of the night, I’ve already mentioned two. It would be Nancy Cartwright rapping straight 90’s style as Bart in “Do the Bartman,” and Kipp Lennon singing “Happy Birthday, Lisa.” My third would be the fireworks extravaganza that closed the show.

Noticeably absent from the festivities (and much to my disappointment) was Homer and Marge themselves, Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner. Admittedly, they weren’t in the billing when we bought the tickets, but I thought perhaps they might pop-up for a moment as a “special surprise” to dupe us all. They didn’t. How can you have a tribute to The Simpsons without the patriarch and first lady of Springfield?

Despite this and the nearly 100° temperatures, it was a memorable evening and the perfect way to say goodbye to summer, but hello to a renewed relationship with The Simpsons.

Night ATG FINAL{The Bowl lights up at night like no other.}

To say that The Simpsons is television royalty is an understatement. As I wrap up my thoughts about the evening and what the show itself has done culturally, I can’t help but be awed at how the brains behind The Simpsons created an entire world that’s all to familiar to me, living through even another generation as I type this. The depth of character development in nearly every re-occurring resident of Springfield boggles my mind. The concept that we have memories associated with everyone from the Qwickie Mart owner to the bartender, to the richest man in town speaks volumes of the world that Matt Groening created. Add in the cultural idioms and phrases coined by the show (“Eat my shorts” and “Doh!” readily come to mind) and you have pure genius at play if you ask me.

Spending an evening celebrating 25 years of entertainment brought back so many happy memories from my childhood. In fact, it makes me want to spend more time with America’s never-aging family, to see what everyone in Springfield has been up to.

The Simpson’s 26th season starts this Sunday, September 28th. I plan on snuggling up on the couch and closing my weekend like I did all those years ago, by catching up with The Simpsons once again.

Bowl Fireworks ATG FINAL{Fireworks to close the show.}

 

{A behind the scenes look at prepping for a night at The Bowl.}

Peter ATG FINAL

{And in the midst of all things The Simpsons….you gotta love their sense of humor.}

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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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Go Get Em Tiger!

Go Get Em Exterior ATG FINAL


Where: Go Get Em Tiger
Location: 230 North Larchmont Boulevard
Cost: pricey


Perhaps this is a clear sign that I’ve had entirely too much sunshine in my native lifetime spent in the City of Angels, but I do enjoy the fun, albeit cliché, “play on words” trend when frequenting a local spot. There’s something just so much more enticing about saying “hey, let’s go grab a treat at Sprinkles” rather than “the cupcake shop” or “meet at Toast in 10?” rather than “that breakfast place on 3rd Street?”

Los Angeles is notorious for this. There’s Milk (a cafe); Graffiti (a coffee shop); Taste (an American cuisine restaurant); Vanilla and Frosted (competing cupcakeries); and Son of Gun (a seafood spot) — I think you get the point. And I’m sure I found the winner of them all….Go Get Em Tiger! Oh, and if it’s not clear, their mission…caffeine.Go Get Em Exterior ATG FINAL side by side

Currently, the reining champion of the best iced latte in America (according to The New York Times), Go Get Em Tiger opened its doors on the increasingly charming Larchmont Boulevard last month, joining its sister spot G&B Coffee as an alternative to those who can’t make it downtown.

When I heard that the best iced latte in America was also conveniently located in LA, I knew my coffee addiction would find me there sooner than later. In fact, it found me clear across town 2 days later to get in on the hype.

I might lose cool points as a true connoisseur of espresso, but I have no shame in admitting that I’m not a fan of lattes without milk (soy, almond, whole or whatever “milk mood” I’m feeling that day) and some sort of flavoring (vanilla typically being my weapon of choice). The point being that I don’t ever drink plain lattes, hot or cold. Ever. And because of this quirk about myself I instantly went for their Sweet Iced Latte, insisting on upgrading to their signature almond-macadamia milk (instead of the whole milk it normally comes with). Unfortunately, their version of sweetened wasn’t with the subtleties of a little vanilla syrup, but with simple syrup. Needless to say, it was a SWEET latte (even for me!)…and I can’t blame them, it’s what I ordered.

This was probably a case where all I needed was their trademark milk and the espresso over ice. The sweetener distracts from the main attraction, what’s creating the all the caffeine-induced buzz right now, the almond-macadamia milk. I very much-loved the frothy texture of the milk and supreme care that went into crafting my designer latte, but likely would’ve been able to enjoy it more without the added sweetener to get the chance to let the nuttiness of the beverage come through.

Go Get Em Tiger Interior ATG FINAL

Aside from this hiccup, what I instantly loved about Go Get Em Tiger was its welcoming ambiance. I’ve been to many coffee bars in LA that felt so pretentious I wouldn’t step foot into one – other than to quickly grab the awesome coffee (because, of course, it’s yummy!) and leave before anyone sees me in said establishment, supporting said pretentiousness. Yet, Go Get Em Tiger is a place I would actually spend an afternoon with my laptop and a latte nearby blogging away, or to meet a girlfriend to catch-up over coffee.

go get em treats ATG FINAL

At $6.00 for a standard sized iced latte, this isn’t a place I’d drop into frequently, but more of an indulgence when I’m feeling especially rich and want to treat myself. If I’m quite honest (price aside), my favorite places to grab a latte on-the-run are still The Sycamore Kitchen (on La Brea) or Blu Jam (on Melrose or Ventura). This doesn’t mean my relationship with Go Get Em Tiger ends here. I do want to head back to do what I should have done the first time I was there, and that was to let their famous fresh almond-macadamia milk do all the talking.

I’ll keep you posted.

Go Get Em Collage ATG FINAL INTERIOR

As far as the naming convention of what really just comes down to a simple coffee bar, perhaps the sentiment is that I, too, tend to feel like I can conquer the world once I’ve had my caffeine fix. With the right latte in hand and caffeine slowly coursing through my veins, on some level I tell myself I’m ready for the day. I can Go Get Em Tiger!

Go get em tiger latte ATG FINAL 2

UPDATE: Catch my thoughts on Go Get Em Tiger, Take 2. I’m afraid I can’t behind the hype after all.

Blog Signature Official_FINAL


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Deep Fried Everything: The Orange County Fair

OC FAIR HEADER


Where: The Orange County Fair
Location: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: $3.00 (before 11:00am); $12.00 general admission


There are a few rituals that I have yet to conquer to truly make it feel like summer. At the top of that list, spending a lazy day at the beach with a good book. Luckily, that’s on the agenda this weekend!

It wasn’t until I found myself at the Orange County Fair a few weekends ago, that it started to feel more like an authentic American summer! Not that I go every year, but there’s something about being out in the sunshine, slathered in sunscreen, around deep friend everything (and I mean everything: Snickers bars, Twinkies, Oreos, butter….yes, deep friend butter…I don’t even know how that works); while people watching, walking the endless miles of vendor booths, listening to live music, and spying on the animals that channel the inner workings of summertime.

Goat ATG FINAL{Sorry to interrupt lunch, but you’re a cutie!}

OC FAIR ANIMALS 1 ATG FINAL{Boy, did I feel for this little lady. Please excuse the number of butts in your face so early in the post.}

Pig Races ATG FINAL{Prepping for the pig races.}

We’ve traveled together to the LA County Fair on the site, but never made the approximate 36 mile journey south to check out the festivities in Orange County (affectionately now forever known as “The O.C.” thanks to Warner Bros. Television, circa 2003).

I’ve only been to the L.A. County Fair twice in my life. And while each have their own unique pros and cons (I found a great article from last year comparing and contrasting “which is the fairest of them all?”), of the two venues, I have a fondness toward The O.C.

I’ve shared that I’m native to Southern California, hence my eternal devotion to sunshine and overall “wuss-iness” toward cold weather. However, to be more specific, though I grew up in L.A. for the first 10 years of my life, I consider The O.C. my hometown because I spent my more formative years (a.k.a. the time in my life I actually remember most) there. I remember going to the Orange County Fair during summers as a kid. I don’t recall it being every single summer, but enough that whenever I’m there, I feel a part of my childhood with me once again.

So what fun, after a 4-year hiatus since returning home, to head back to my old stomping grounds – looking for that summertime feeling!

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I tried to behave myself and not go overboard on the sweets or the deep fried anything (I know, I know…who goes to the fair and resists part of the fun in actually going?). Instead, I used the time to simply take it all in, enjoying a lazy Saturday with my favorite person.

Maui Chicken ATG FINAL{My indulgence. Finally tried the famous Maui Chicken: teriyaki chicken, rice, and chunks of pineapple, in a hollowed out pineapple shell.}

Maui Chicken Done ATG FINAL{10 minutes later.}

Food Stand ATG FINAL{Given the options, I chose about as healthy as you could get.}

Going to The O.C. Fair again was like going back to your old middle school. It somehow felt much smaller than you recall. It hasn’t changed so much as you have. And perhaps because my last adventure into the world of deep fried everything found me at the LA venue at almost 340 acres larger – the scale in comparison would look different to my now adult eyes in contrast to my childhood memories; but my heart (however mushy that sounds), hasn’t changed perspective much at all. It’s still just a good time.

Crafters Village ATG FINAL{Strolling through the merchant booths in the Crafters Village.}

Garden ATG FINAL{Strolling through the gardens, learning about the crops.}

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This doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t find myself at the L.A. County Fair when it starts later this month to take advantage of that missed opportunity to finally indulge in a deep fried Twinkie. This must be why the universe has both events run so close together.

Eat ATG FINAL{…but mostly people just go to EAT…ALL DAY LONG!}

The Orange County fair ends this Sunday, August 10th.

The L.A. County Fair starts August 29th and ends September 28th.

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…to Downtown LA We Go.

Downtown Header

{Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…to downtown LA we go!
And this time, my camera was charged and ready.}


What: LA Conservancy Walking Tour
Where: Broadway Theatre District
Location: Historic Broadway, Downtown LA
Cost: $10.00


It feels as though a modern-day renaissance, a rebirth, is taking place in our own backyard. The interesting thing is how. As much as there is an effort to revitalize Downtown Los Angeles, there’s an equal push to hold onto its history. The duality here is that while constructing some of the most revered contemporary architectural structures, hosting the trendiest restaurants in town (my favorite restaurant happens to be downtown), and rejuvenating the streets; if you were to walk for several blocks in a particular direction, say, toward Broadway, and open your eyes passed what appears to be a random storefront or abandoned building…you’ll see it.

It’s Hollywood’s origins, as early as 104 years ago.

After a memorable Saturday night last month at the Los Angeles Conservancy’s special screening of Back of the Future (minus what has to be my least favorite restaurant that also happens to be downtown), I channeled firsthand what it would’ve been like to go to the movies 80 years ago at one of the most lavish movie palaces ever created.

Movie palaces weren’t just about seeing the film, it was a night out on the town, ball gowns and top hats required. Though I was dressed more circa 2014 California chic in a bright sundress and a pair of sandals – one could still feel the old Hollywood decadence as you walked around the United Artists Theatre that night. The Spanish Gothic design, frescoes painted high on the walls and ceiling, the ultra glam vanity room to touch-up your lipstick after a trip to the restroom, and the massive 1,600 seat theater was a lot to take in. Needless to say, it was a gem.

And in fact, these gems are sprinkled throughout Downtown LA. There are 12 of them in total, built between 1910-1931 and all located on the same street over a 7-block radius on the now, historic Broadway. From movie palaces screening the latest films to vaudeville acts performing on large stages; Art Deco to French Baroque-style architecture, each theater was distinct in its design and purpose, though all were originally constructed with the same goal, and that was to entertain at the highest of standards.

I was eager to learn more. Thanks the heavens for the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Walking Tours through Downtown LA.

Tour Start FINAL

{Saturday, 10:00am. View of the skyline from Pershing Square as we gathered to start the tour.}

Two hours on a bright, warm, summer Saturday morning a few weeks ago, found me walking along what is known as the “Broadway Theatre and Commercial District.” Escorted by a tour guide from the LA Conservancy, I was taken back to a history I had never really known much about and their efforts to save it.

The tour guides you to 11 out of the 12 theaters (the Million Dollar Theater is a few blocks away from the main cluster), stopping frequently to hear about its structural design and contribution (or failure) during Broadway’s entertainment heyday.

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{Map of the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District. Click to enlarge.}

Little did I know that what looked like a less than glamorous storefront, was once an auditorium that hosted extravagant film screenings or performances. And while some of the buildings aren’t necessarily in the best shape or much to look at if you’re just passing by, the tour does a fantastic job of making you look past the facade to see a little deeper. The details are still there, though perhaps a little (or more than a little) weathered. In some instances, while the theater space now acts as a retail shop, the interior is preserved. In others, it is no more. Typically what remains is the structure.

Roxie ATG FINAL

{The Roxie. Built, 1931. Now a retail store. Though pretty weathered, it retains its Art Deco style.}

Tower FINAL

{The Tower. Built, 1927. Renaissance design.}

GLOBE FINAL

{The Globe. Built,1913.}

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{The Palace. Built, 1911. French Baroque.}

The State Final

{The State. Built, 1921. Currently a church and the only place with air conditioning during the long hot tour!}

The good news is that a few of the theaters are in relatively excellent shape, so much so that you can feel the energy of the early 20th century the moment you walk in. I got the sense that is just depends on what day you take the tour (and the fact that many of these buildings are now retail venues or closed altogether), but we were only allowed inside of one of the theaters (other than The State).

If there was one interior venue I wanted to see with my very own eyes, it would be the luxurious Los Angeles Theatre. It. did. not. disappoint. Built in 1931, this lavish venue cost $1.5 million dollars to construct. The lobby boasts crystal chandeliers, a sweeping staircase, a fountain, custom-made carpets and drapery. It has individual stalls in the women’s restroom made from unique marble materials (no stall looks alike!), a vanity area, children’s playroom, men’s shoe shine area, downstairs lounge, dance floor, and a crying room (a place where mothers could take their crying babies so as to not disturb the audience and still watch the movie!). It also seats 2,000 people!

Yes, seeing a film or attending an event at the Los Angeles Theatre was certainly living it up back in the day! Even better, though privately owned, it’s a working venue and still in-use/for rent today.

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  {Exterior, Los Angeles Theatre. Built, 1931.}

LA Lobby FINAL

 { Los Angeles Theatre. Ticket booth.}

LA Chandelier FINAL

{Los Angeles Theatre lobby. 50 foot ceiling, crystal chandeliers.}

Interior LA FINAL

{Los Angeles Theatre stage.}

Shoes final

{Sidewalk in front of the Los Angeles Theatre. It’s marble!}

PS: I encourage you to visit the Los Angeles Theatre’s website to see their gallery photos of the interior space. Mine certainly don’t do it much justice!

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{The equally decadent United Artists Theatre at Ace Hotel. You can read more about this venue from another post I recently wrote, here.}

EASTERN FINAL

{Though not focal to the tour, we had to stop and chat about the famous Eastern Building which is also located on Broadway, just across the street from the Orpheum Theatre. It’s considered to be on the finest examples of Art Deco style architecture in existence. Apparently, a loft here can set you back well into the millions!}

DOWNTOWN LA ATG FINAL

Approximately 2 hours and 90°+ later, I walked away from the tour with an appreciation that I didn’t necessarily have before. My eye is typically always drawn to what’s pristine, modern, and aesthetically pleasing (perhaps that’s why the Walt Disney Concert Hall was such a thrill for me to tour last year!). However, this was a classic case of not judging a book by its cover. While the Los Angeles and United Artists Theatres don’t necessarily draw you in by the exterior, you’d never know such opulence would be behind those doors. Essentially, this experience taught me to applaud the duality that’s taking place downtown. Modern structures speak to forward movement, but there’s something special when it comes to surrendering to history and wanting to keep it alive.

I’m glad that organizations like the LA Conservancy make it a goal to preserve what was.  Though I enjoy the plush large seats at the Arclight as much as the next Angeleno; I doubt I’ll ever wear a ball gown, drop my faux children (as I don’t have any!) in the theater playroom, watch a film, sit in a marble bathroom stall, walk a grand staircase while enjoying the sounds of the neighboring fountain, just after making my way to the lounge, where I’ll sip a cocktail and dance the night away…all at the same place.

If you’re ever looking for an inexpensive, educational, and explorative thing to do on a beautiful Saturday morning in LA, this is for you!


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Back to the Future, Living in the Past

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Where: (The Historic) United Artists Theatre at Ace Hotel / LA Chapter

Location: 929 South Broadway, Downtown LA


If I had to pick one movie that I could watch over and over again with as much excitement as the first time I saw it, undoubtedly, it would be Back to the Future. It’s one of those films that hold up almost 30 years later as a uniquely fun, creative expression of what that amazing thing we call cinema can be: and that’s however far and wide the imagination chooses to go. It’s also one of those near-perfect films that never gets old: the acting, the writing, the story line, the music – everything about it epitomizes a now classic comedy. It’s pretty funny how a 1985 film is a now considered “a classic.”

And because of this much-deserved status, let the record show I’d boycott any attempts at Hollywood getting cute and wanting to re-make what has to be my all-time favorite trilogy. Hands off!

1-2014-06-21 18.43.57{Waiting in line.}

Needles to say, I was beyond excited when I learned the LA Conservancy was hosting a special screening of the film, along with a Q&A with a few of the actors in the newly restored United Artists Theatre last Saturday night. Since I wasn’t yet quite able to understand nor enjoy films in 1985 (because I was too busy taking on the important task of learning how to walk and talk), what a treat to finally see the film on the big screen and in such a special way.

1-2014-06-21 18.40.21{Exterior, The Historic United Artists Theater at Ace Hotel.}

The United Artists Theatre was built in 1927 as a movie palace for the then unstoppable United Artists Movie Studio formed by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin (i.e. Hollywood royalty!). In January 2014, the 1,600 seat theater was re-opened, restoring its incredible Spanish Gothic vibe while maintaining all of its historic Hollywood glamour. The building now also hosts the ever-popular boutique luxury Ace Hotel, L.A. Chapter, and the Upstairs Bar.

1-DTLA_Theatre_Flow_Vert{Unfortunately, my digital camera died so all of the pictures in this post were taken with my phone. It was too dark to capture the exquisite intricacy of the interior of the theater, but you just have to see why this theater is SO special. I sourced this photo from the website.}

I think the highlight of my evening was the DeLorean sighting. My boyfriend told me he overheard that this wasn’t the original DeLorean used in the film. Apparently, this is the one from the Back to the Future ride located at Universal Studios. Either way, I was happy to see it!

1-2014-06-21 18.36.10{DeLorean sighting…}

1-2014-06-21 18.41.20{…the icing on the cake.}

After the screening, we  made our way over to LA Chapter, just steps away from the theater. Currently, this one of the most buzzed about places on the restaurant circuit downtown. I promised last week that I’d give you the scoop. Unfortunately, I can’t say it’s worth the hype. Let’s break it down, shall we?

1-2014-06-21 18.38.27{Exterior, LA Chapter.}

To start: I ordered an iced tea, though I’d swear an iced coffee came to my table. I’m pretty well-versed (I think…I hope!?!) about the differences in taste when it comes to coffee and tea (because I happen to have an addiction deep affinity for both). When I mentioned this to the waitress her response was that she grabbed it from the “iced tea dispenser” and that she’d been “serving it all night without complaint.” Now, perhaps I’m crazy, but there is a distinct difference between tea and coffee, right? I mean, iced tea is usually a dark-brownish color. This was opaque black! Is it possible they were using some super trendy high-end tea bags, brewed so strong, it starts channeling the taste and look of coffee? Yeah, this was not a good way to start a dining experience. And if, by chance, it was my faulty taste buds (though it certainly didn’t taste like iced tea to me) I’ll apologize in advance.

She was kind enough to switch if for a Mexican Coca-Cola (which was perfect!), but it was still just so off-putting to me. How do you screw up iced tea?

I tried to muster some excitement about my favorite part: the food. I ordered a burger (medium well) as did my BF (medium) and we both agreed it was the driest thing we ever ate. Both our burgers were over-cooked. Much to their credit, the french fries were delish.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t impressed, boys and girls. In fact, I was quite disappointed. It stinks when you hear about an awesome new restaurant, make the trek across town to make a night of it, and get there to iced tea that tastes likes coffee, realizing that you could have gone to In-N-Out and gotten a much better burger at 3 times less the cost…drink included.

1-2014-06-21 18.38.43{Exterior, Ace Hotel.}

That being said, it was still a nice change of pace from our normally pretty boring Saturday nights in over the last few months. And it’s starting to get to me. We all know I’m a gal who likes to get out and explore…then report back to you! It’s been awhile since I’ve done a good “let’s check out LA” post.

As I write this and take in the weight of this experience, I wish I would’ve been a little more present now that I think about it. Of course, I was glad to put on my favorite new lipstick (MAC’s Perpetual Flame), and be out late on a Saturday night, at an event, excited to see one of my all-time favorite films in one of the most celebrated old Hollywood movie palaces ever created.

However, at the time, I was also slightly bummed that I didn’t check the battery on my camera before heading out, knowing I wouldn’t get quality images for the blog and we’d be in low-lighting spaces all night. And my poor boyfriend was clearly exhausted, teetering on getting sick (though he didn’t want to go home and still tried to keep things happy).

In a sense we were essentially getting a taste of the past, watching a film the way those did 87 years ago, when movies were truly a grand event, a celebration! Where attention to detail and craftsmanship was on a whole other level when thinking about architecture and design in the late 1920s.

I went to use the restroom in the basement of the theater and they had a separate vanity area with those awesome Hollywood dressing room-like, bright, light bulbs (that make EVERYONE look good…I’m so getting these installed in my dream home someday), and I can only imagine the history that’s walked through that same room.

As I reflect back, I realize that though dinner really sucked at that over-hyped restaurant, which has only been open about 6 months now – it’s a trend that will come and go. Another will take its place. That’s just the way it goes. But that theater, all of its grandeur and design will remain, saluting the origins of Hollywood. It’s pretty cool when you think about it: we were there to see Back to Future, but for one night only truly living in spirit of the past.


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Photo Diary: Happy Birthday in Ojai

Ojai Header ATG FINAL

I can say with confidence that I’m never happier in life than when I’m on an adventure – big or small, local or far. There’s something about being in new surroundings and exploring them that I feel most alive. Last week, I had the time of my life in Ojai for a much-needed birthday get-away, the sweetest surprise from my equally sweet guy.

Ojai Valley is a small, quaint, and friendly town about 66 miles from Los Angeles, a little more than an hour away from Santa Barbara. It’s an endearing combination of specialty shops, small businesses, art galleries, picturesque mountains and hiking trails, with a bohemian charm to match.

We stayed at the Emerald Iguana Inn, a charismatic boutique hotel with 13 unique rooms that all channel total cottage charm. The property rests on a secluded street, lush with greenery, meeting every expectation you can image (minus a not so great WiFi connection, but hey – who needs the internet when you’re surrounded by pure tranquility?). It’s the perfect get-away for two (kiddies are not allowed at this hotel). Our time inside the alluring Feather guest room was spent doing all things in salute to leisure and lounging: drinking wine at 1:00 in the afternoon on a Monday (just because…and I’m not even much a drinker!), reading, dining on the private patio, and watching old movies with the fireplace burning at night.

And of course, plenty of time was dedicated to walking downtown Ojai – window shopping and indulging in all things food.

This is a trip best told in pictures. What I will share is that as we settled into life in Ojai for just a few days away from the fast-paced streets of LA, I could literally feel my body and spirit slowing down and taking that deep breath I’d needed after the last few chaotic weeks. It’s amazing how driving one hour away was all I needed to recharge.

Here’s my photo diary of a very happy birthday in Ojai, CA.

hotel ATG

Emerald Iguana ATG FINAL

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Feather EXT FINAL ATG

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The Town ATG FINAL

barts books FINAL ATGFIG ATG FINAL

Town ATG FINAL

Food 2 ATG FINAL

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Food 3 ATG FINAL

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