Hollywood Costume Exhibit

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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:

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

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

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{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}

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

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

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

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{Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.}

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{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.}

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{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!

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{Program.}

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{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.

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What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

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I know some people don’t like to fall into the trap of or even believe in New Year’s resolutions; but I’ve always liked the idea of working toward goals. And yet, I haven’t taken the time to sit down and formally write my list of resolutions for 2015. I can’t say that I will at this point either.

Admittedly, I meant to do this over my holiday vacation, but other things got in the way. Rather than beat myself up about it, I came up with a very simple idea for how I wanted to approach 2015 in such a way that negated the need to write this long list of things that I would likely never get to because…you got it…life got in the way. Instead, I simply told myself that I wanted to have something to look forward to every day. I think this is a much more realistic and manageable way to deal with life at the moment. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be anything big. In fact, it will likely be the small things most days: a latte from my favorite café, heading home to binge watch Girls (my current obsession), meeting a friend for lunch, or curling up with a good book and my favorite candle burning nearby (see #3 below).

I haven’t sworn off New Year’s resolutions entirely – but I’m giving it a break this year. I will share that there is one main area of my life that I am aiming to make a big change at this year, that will require some thought and course of action; but really, I just want to spend more time being present, enjoying the little things.

As such, I’m lovin’ things that embrace small pleasures, things that aid in my goal to have something to look forward to each day. Below you’ll find a few ideas that I have in mind – be it the perfect bath after a long day (#7); a DIY project to sink my teeth into (#6); trying a new, healthier recipe (#8); planning a date night with my guy (#2); or treating myself to a little bling (#9). There’s always something to look forward to, and for once, I want to take it day by day.

Here’s to small pleasures and that one big change in 2015. I’ll keep you posted on how things come along. Here’s…

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 1. A fresh take on why we’ve got “happiness” backwards. | Enlarge to See Full Quote.

2. Where to go when you need a date night. | The 13 Best Date Spots in LA.

3.  The best smell in my apartment as I type this. | Bella’s “Midnight Orchid” Soy Candle.

4.  In case you thought you were doing everything right on the skin front. |  20 Skincare Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Face.

5. A quick reminder of your birth-given power. | 7 Things You Don’t Know About the Power You’ve Always Had.

6. Inspiration for what to do with all those damn coffee mugs taking up unnecessary cabinet space. | DIY Pallet Coffee Cup Holder.

7.  Everything you need to turn into a prune from the comfort of your own home. | Crafting the Perfect Bath at Home.

8. What to do when you perpetually have avocados and tomatoes ripening faster than you can eat them. | Avocado Quesadillas.

9. Feeding your minimalist jewelry binge. | Bar Drop Necklace.

10. Because winter reeks havoc on your skin…and it won’t win.  | Eau Roma Water (a personal favorite at the moment).

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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.

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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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Best of Everything 2014

1-Happy-New-Year

New Year’s Eve, 2014. Where did the time go?

I distinctly remember where I was this very day last year. In bed. Sick. I had caught some sort of horrible stomach virus that literally took months into 2014 to fully recover from. I was so disappointed because my boyfriend and I had made reservations for dinner at a quaint little Italian restaurant that I was beyond excited for. At the time, however, food and I weren’t on speaking terms. He ended up ordering a pizza that I basically watched him eat. What a bummer…and a terrible way to ring in the new year.

I’m determined to get 2015 off on the right foot. Essentially, the plan is to finally get to that dinner reservation, one year later – and I have absolutely no intention of watching him eat. I plan to dig in with the best of them at that quaint little Italian restaurant tonight, but not before heading out to catch, A Most Violent Year, opening today. It’s the last film of the year that I want to see before I officially write my top films of 2014 post, forthcoming. As such, this post won’t go into narrative or feature-length documentary films.

The last day of the year is perfect for reflecting back on where you’ve been and where you’d like to go as the year comes to a close. Today, I want to reflect on where I’ve been with a look back at a little bit of everything that made 2014 memorable. From books I’ve read, to music I’ve rocked out to, to products, and experiences – here are new discoveries, things that stuck, and lessons learned worth mentioning.

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L.A. Discovery: Bottega Louie.
{Perfect for brunch or dinner…and macaroons.}

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Only in L.A. Experience: Broadway Theatre District Walking Tour.

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Thing I Did For Myself: Recommitted to a consistent yoga practice…though admittedly I’m currently on the market for a new studio.


Beauty Find: Mullein & Sparrow’s Facial Detox Kit. It’s giving yourself the spa experience at home, on a budget. I discovered this small Brooklyn-based herbal apothecary just weeks ago and if I could, I’d buy everything! Love them.


New Addition to the Hair Regimen That I Can’t Live Without: Macadamia Healing Oil Spray.


New Addition to the Skincare Regimen That I Can’t Live Without: Clarisonic Mia.

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Indulgence: Iced vanilla lattes from The Sycamore Kitchen (or Hot Tamales).

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Accessory: Gosia Meyer’s 14K Gold Filled Initial Necklace.

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Guilty Pleasure: The Wendy Williams Show.


Splurge: Madewell’s Transport Tote in Saddle.


Travel Experience: My Birthday in Ojai.

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Fiction Read: We Are Water by Wally Lamb.


Non-Fiction Read: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche.


Lesson Learned: Be extra cautious when driving down a windy road just after a fresh rain or you’ll lose control and your car will swerve and hit a curb so hard it takes weeks to fix! This isn’t rocket-science but for some reason I still managed to screw up majorly…and it cost me thousands. Ugh.


Gadget: Kindle Paperwhite.

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Blog Post: Journey of a Dress: From Princess to Fashion Legend.

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Tune to Rock Out to: Defeated No More by Disclosure.


Album: It came out a few years ago, but “4” by Beyoncé was in heavy rotation this year after I finally sat down and actually listened to the whole LP. Fantastic.


Discovered Artist: Lana del Rey.


YouTube Video: Taylor Swift’s incredibly contagious “Shake it Off” song synced to the 1988 National Aerobic Championship Opening Number.


TV Addiction: Scandal.


Addition to The Home: Paper Source’s Foil Desk Calendar. It dresses up your desk space with subtle elegance. (2105 is now available!)


Wardrobe Piece: A classic dark washed denim jacket, it’s my go-to year round staple for instant California casual chic.


Image Featured on the Blog: The moment I captured the sunrise over the ocean as I geared up for a long day of shooting in San Francisco.Srunrise ATG FINAL


Memorable Day: Taking myself to the LA Times Festival of Books Fair at USC. It was the perfect day: sunshine, books galore, great music, and the grilled cheese truck responsible for the photo below. Fun fact: it was my most successful blog post of 2014!

Grilled Cheese ATG


Biggest “Ah-ha” Moment: Reading The Daily Love’s beautiful post in the wake of Robin’s Williams untimely passing. As I read it, I had the biggest “ah-ha” moment, and wrote the following post, Words that Gave Me Pause, to share it.


The moment I Saw Growth in Myself: When I got my first parking ticket in years and rather than get upset, I laughed with the universe. Full story here.

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Biggest Blogging Achievement: Completing the 100 Happy Days Challenge. It was a powerful reminder to always look for the beauty in your day and I went strong for 100 consecutive days. Statistics show 70% don’t complete the challenge. I was in the 30% who made it to the finish line!

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Words: This piece of poetry by William Henry Channing.

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Thank you for reading along with me this year. Cheers to a 2015 lived beyond our wildest dreams! x

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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


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“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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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…to Downtown LA We Go.

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{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.

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{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.

MAP FINAL

{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.}

DSC01183

{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.

Los Angeles ATG FINAL

  {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!

UA 2 ATG FINAL

{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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