These are a Few of my Favorite Things

Two days ago we moved out of our sweet house in La Canada. We are still currently in Southern California for a few weeks of vacation, but we have left our dear La Canada.

Boy,  moving is stressful. And a move halfway across the country at that. The last few months have been so busy packing up our house (oy vey, that’s a lot of work), keeping our house clean while it’s for sale, soothing various emotions about the upcoming change, oh, and still feeding my children and fulfilling their basic needs.

At the same time, I wanted to sustain a sense of normalcy for Isabel and Brady- hosting Easter, throwing Isabel’s birthday slumber party, volunteering at school, all with open houses and showings in between. Of course, we also needed to allow time for spending time with loved ones and saying proper goodbyes.

With all of that now in the past and summer vacation in the works, I have time to reflect. Despite all of the stress, for months I really have been appreciating and cherishing the things that have made my life here in La Canada so special and fun.

#1 The View From our Kitchen Window

Our front yard looked straight down a valley between two mountain ranges to Downtown Los Angeles. Washing dishes really wasn’t so bad when I was looking at the inspiring cityscape. My neighbors probably saw me on many occasions first thing in the morning in our front yard, in my pajamas, with my camera hanging around my neck taking photos of this view.

I’ve shot it on cloudy days…

…on foggy days, on dreary rainy days…

…on beautifully clear days when we could even see the outline of Catalina island.

I’ve captured this shot focusing on the flowers in the foreground with blurred buildings in the background …

…focusing on the buildings with blurred flowers in the foreground.

At dusk, at night…

I think you get it. I love this view. (That’s not even all of my photos.)

#2 The View from our Backyard

The view from our backyard was pretty darn good, too. After nine years of living here, this scenery has never gotten old.

I truly relished these majestic mountains as I let Valentine out each morning. (And so did she.)

Once a year or so, we saw snow!

I always pretended that this tableau from the side of our backyard wasTuscany.

Isn’t it breathtaking?

Can you hear O Sole Mio playing? This was the sight I awoke to the morning after the super moon was in full effect.

And I’ll never forget the sight of my children playing with the mountains as their backdrop.

#2 Friday Morning Hikes

I delighted in my Friday morning hikes with my girlfriends as we charged up the trails of Cherry Canyon enjoying the panoramic views of La Canada, Glendale and beyond.

On these hikes, these fantastic ladies and I discussed which Netflix series we were watching, we chatted about our kids’ sports seasons and dished out parenting advice to each other. Mostly we enjoyed each other’s company in a beautiful setting.

This was the moment of victory when we would reach the fire lookout at the top.

#3 My Favorite Coffees

I savored lattes and cappucinos at my favorite mom and pop coffee shops, Lavendar & Honey in Altadena and Constellation Coffee in La Canada. I also enjoyed my last ice blended from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (not an Oklahoma franchise…yet).

#4 Dining Out

I love love love dining out! There are my local faves like having a Molly salad, a steak and a slice of key lime pie at Taylor’s. Or a Moscow mule from The Proper. Or a potato taco and a midnight mule from Basin 141. Many family dinners have taken place at Dona Maria, our favorite Mexican restaurant, John going through countless baskets of chips (his weakness). Fajitas, enchiladas espinacas, crispy tacos…too many great dishes to mention them all.

Of course there is also the more casual fare at La Canada landmarks, for instance scrumptious sandwiches from Bergie’s (boy, did I eat a lot of Bergie’s egg salad when I was pregnant with Brady back in the day), and the best pizza and meatball subs at La Canada Imports and Georgie’s.

And I really find it exciting to experience a restaurant that is new to me. Since we have announced our exciting moving plans, some friends have taken us to some amazing celebratory dinners a hop, skip and a jump from La Canada. To 71 Above at the top of the US Bank building in DTLA where the food and cocktails were innovative and delectable…

…but the panoramic view of L.A. and looking down upon DTLA was even more spectacular. (Occasionally, a helicopter would fly by not that far above us.)

We were also taken to Mastro’s Steakhouse in the heart of Beverly Hills where we shared a bountiful seafood tower steaming with dry ice and I experienced the epic lobster mashed potatoes that blew my mind.

With so many fantastic restauants surrounding La Canada, my palate has never gotten bored!

#5 Theater

I absolutely love the rare treat of going to the theater. Not long ago, Isabel and I saw Cats at the Pantages.  It was so special to witness her become as moved as I was from the music and emotion of the performances. Whether it’s at the legendary Pantages Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse or the intimate Glendale Centre Theater, I absolutely love the experience of a cast of actors giving everything they’ve got to a live audience. Again, with La Canada so close to Hollywood and beyond, these venues have been at our fingertips.

#6 The Parrots

The story goes, in the 1950’s or 60’s, there was a fire in a pet store , flower store or nursery in South Pasadena. The fire fighters or owner released some parrots in order to save them. They have since multiplied into the thousands and call Pasadena and neighboring cities home.

I am obsessed with the parrots. They fly past our house every morning and every dusk. When I hear their signature squawking, I scramble to get my camera, but still have not successfully taken an impressive photo of them.

I have many pathetic attempts such as this. There they go… Yes, they’re there. Keep looking. One day, when I’m back visiting, I’m going to get a good shot.

I’m so excited and intrigued by the gorgeous exotic birds. When I have seen them, green with a flash of red, roosting in a tree as I go for a run or when they pass through the sky in flocks at the end of the day, for a split second, I feel like I live in South America! They are so beautiful, and because to me they seem so out of place here, I’ve always appreciated how really special they are.

#7 Neighborhood Walks

I love our neighborhood. It’s so beautiful with ancient oak trees, towering deodar and palm trees and too many beautiful floral varieties to mention.

After dropping Isabel and Brady off at school, I would often stroll around the neighborhood really as more of a relaxing moment than a workout. Sometimes I would listen to my Imagine Dragons station on Pandora, sometimes  just to the ambient sound of the neighborhood.

I would admire the beautiful homes and yards and take in the smell of jasmine and orange blossoms.

It’s been all of these things and more that have made living here so memorable. Raising my kids in my hometown of La Canada has been a beautiful blessing. Norman Rockwellesque, even. Despite being nestled in Los Angeles county, it has a small-town feel and close sense of community.  I’ll never forget the friendships that we’ve made with kind and supportive families. I promise to nurture those special friendships even from afar.

Thank you, house, where we’ve been a family and so many memories have taken place for the last nine years.

Thank you, Patagonia Drive.

Thank you, La Canada.

We love you, and we’ll never forget you. And, of course, we’ll be back to visit soon.

MyFavorite Things

 

I Love L.A.

Over the last few months, with the clock ticking down to departure date, I’ve asked myself, what is my L.A. Bucket List? What do I need to squeeze in before I go? I’ve lived in Southern California the majority of my life, so I’ve done most of the typical must-do L.A. things.

I’ve been to the Rose Parade many times. Seeing the gorgeous and impressive floral floats and lively bands in person is a thrilling way to celebrate the new year.

And hanging out in the streets of Pasadena with excited locals and visitors from all over the country and the world as the Goodyear Blimp looms over us makes us locals so happy to live in Southern California!

I’ve been to the Griffith Observatory.

It’s such a gorgeous place to see amazing L.A. views, including the Hollywood sign.

I’ve been to the  La Brea Tar Pits many times, as a child, and it was also one of the field trips when I taught first grade.

I’ve ridden the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier and have done some damage shopping at Third Street Promenade.

I’ve been to Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  I even saw a movie inside the theater (it was Double Jeopardy starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones).

I used to swing dance regulary at The Derby before it closed down. (A moment of respect for The Derby. Tear…) I’ve seen Marty and Elayne, the husband and wife duo, perform their lounge act at The Dresden as I drank a dirty martini.

I’ve been to every SoCal amusement park, seen countless concerts at the Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl. (If you look closely, you can see Harry Connick Jr. tickling the ivories.)

…We could be here all day, folks. But, I did come up with a few random items that I really wanted to experience. I am proud to announce that I have accomplished my very short list.

Get ready. This is a true adventure!

#1 Roscoe’s Chicken N’ Waffles!

I’ve been meaning to try this place out for decades!!! What can I say? I operate on a deadline.

This meal was certainly worth the wait.

Crispy chicken, buttery waffles, sweet syrup. And when the friendly waitress, asked, “Would you like collard greens and mac n’ cheese with that?” we said, “Yes!”

Oh, that’s a perfect bite right there.

My only question to myself is, “Why? Why did you wait this long to go to Roscoe’s? You damn procrastinator!” And the second question to myself is, “Is there time to go again? I need more!”

This place fills up quickly at lunch time. I suggest going at 11:30 and beating the lunchtime rush like we did. I’m definitely bringing John and the kids next time I go. They will love it.

Thank you, Celina, for being my cohort in accomplishing this bucket list item.

#2 The Slide on the 70th Floor of the U.S. Bank building in Downtown L.A.!

Holy cow, that’s a tall building. Let’s go up 1,000 feet and slide down plexiglass hanging over the edge, shall we?

I took this shot on the 70th floor looking down through the building.  Beautiful, yet ominous.

There are observation decks where you can take in the beautiful city views.

Look, there’s Echo Park!

A fun photo opp for any Angeleno.

Okay, enough stalling. Let’s see what you’re made of. Here we go!!!!!!

Truth? It’s not that scary. It only slides down one floor. I really wanted to feel my stomach drop. But, it is a very fun experience and I highly recommend doing it.

And then you can drink champage and eat some surpisingly delicious sandwiches from your beautiful vantage point.

Why not? Our kids were in school and we had a few hours to play! Thank you, Mary Ellen, for humoring all of my whims that day!

#3 The Cathedal of Our Lady of Angels

When we had finished the slide and lunch, we walked a few blocks to the Cathedral in DTLA. I had never seen it.

…It’s not what I had expected of a Catholic Church.

Mary Ellen pointed out that all of the Saints are part of the congregation due to the massive tapestries that line the walls. That was my favorite part.

We walked around the mausoleum in the basement to see who we could find.

On the way back to the car we passed some lovely sights…

The Walt Disney Concert Hall…

…and the Los Angeles Central Library, both of which I will have to save for another day.

It was a beautiful, fun-filled day in Downtown L.A. and we only had to pay a bargain price of $35 to park. Haha.

#4 Find Amazing Shaved Ice comparable to Hawaii!

Let’s face it- that’s a tall order.

Ever since I visited my friend, Kate, in Hawaii last year and experienced the best, most heavenly shave ice EVER (they call it shave ice), I’ve been trying to find shave ice in L.A. that compares. I’m not sure it exists.

But Isabel, Brady and I did find really great Korean shaved ice at Boba Loca in Montrose.

I don’t feel like I can totally compare it to Hawaiian shave ice, as it doesn’t include all of the yummy syrup flavors, but Korean shaved ice has got the texture down. It’s soft, delicate and fluffy, and that is hard to find. I’ve tried.

The ice cream, sweetened condensed milk and fresh fruit atop delicate snowy shaved ice is a beautiful combo. A happy find!

Boba Loca also offers a multitude of delicious boba drink combinations, as well as fusion iced tea, slushes, fresh squeezed juice and raw smoothies!

I’m pretty new to the boba train. A drink that you can chew? I like it.

This was lavendar milk tea and it was so good!

I’ve also had the jasmine milk tea and the rose milk tea. Clearly, I’m on a big floral beverage kick. The rose milk tea is currently my favorite. It was sweet, creamy and lovely, with a subtle rosey flavor. It was the color of blush just like Shelby’s wedding colors in Steel Magnolias. “My colors are  blush and bashful, Mama.”

We couldn’t resist trying the colorful butterfly lemonade. It was tart, sweet and a little herbaceous, due to the splash of cobalt blue butterfly tea which turns purple when it is added to the lemonade . I just read that butterfly tea,  derived from Asia, is known for its anti-aging and beautifying properties! (I’ll justify any treat, just ask me.)

Isabel was very happy with her chocolate banana milkshake. The point is, there are a plethora of beverages to try and fall in love with at Boba Loca!

Since you really can’t have a list of four things and call it an epic list, I threw in…

#5 Throwback Tuesday at the The Regency Academy 6 Theater in Pasadena! Isabel and I saw The Goonies  on the big screen!!!

It was a nostalgic and riveting experience. It made me feel like a kid again! The couple next to me had the foresight to bring Baby Ruths for the occasion. And since the tickets at the Regency Academy 6 Theater are so inexpensive, I let Isabel go crazy at the concession stand.  I didn’t help her at all (liar). Check out the amazing Throwback Tuesday lineup on their website.

There are countless fun and entertaining things to do in L.A. Sometimes it’s so much fun to be a tourist in your own town. Sigh. I really do love L.A.

There’s really only one way to end this post. Sing it, Randy!

I Love L.A.

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

Remember that beloved childhood story?

I’ve always related more to the city mouse.

I grew up in La Canada, an idyllic suburb of Los Angeles, with all of its culture and possibilities at my fingertips. La Canada is a hop, skip and a jump away from the famous Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena. I didn’t stray far when I traded the mountain air of the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains for the salty air of Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, California. Both places are imbedded in a metropolis bustling with businesses, restaurants, museums, and theme parks. For the last decade, my husband, two kids and I have been back in my hometown.

But things are about to change. Big time. We’re embarking upon a new adventure. Continue reading “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse”