Monthly Archives: January 2014

[Trekking Tales] Griffith Park Observatory

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As the month progresses, I’ve begun to realize that there’s a deeper motive hidden under my menagerie of miniature resolutions.  I fully believe that to evolve, to become a better version of yourself, there are baby steps that need to be taken and in a way each an every one the thirty items on that list are an investment in my future and the person I want to be.  Lingering somewhere between lofty goals and simple practicalities are life hacks that double as cost saving methods, building blocks for future endeavors and last, but certainly not least, there’s the mental and physical gymnastics of it all.  Admittedly, I miss school – not the tests or homework mind you, but the sense of community and the push for personal growth in all endeavors.  Travel, reading, hikes, meditation, crocheting; all of these endeavors are inspiring me to expand who I am at my core and what I’m capable of. By crafting unique infused olive oils, pickling vegetables and manufacturing my own basic salad dressings – I’m not only saving loads by reducing the amount of pre-processed foods I purchase, plus it’s an immensely fun, delicious alternative.  The books on my nightstand have been gleefully riffled through more than once, my yoga poses are getting stronger by the week and through hiking I’ve had the chance to explore the urban jungles that my city has to offer.

With my affinity for activity, a penchant for photography and a need to be in the great outdoors, it’s absolutely no wonder that hiking has also etched its way into my heart. Back when I moved to Los Angeles, I viewed the city as concrete jungle that desperately needed repaving, but after five years of exploring the city I can attest to the contrary.  Between Will Rogers Memorial Park, Runyon Canyon, the Pasadena Hills, the Old LA Zoo and Griffith Park – the city is literally teaming with all sorts of fun urban safaris that don’t shy away from importing a little bit of nature into the city.   Plus, what better way to get intimate knowledge on your city than diving into it headfirst?  I’ve never considered myself much of a hiker, but we all have to start somewhere I suppose.  Two years ago, I didn’t consider myself a runner, either.  But life tends to throw me curve balls, and I’m proud to say that I’ve adapted quite nicely.

When my GTI gave out in ’12, I “lost my ride to the gym“.  For the first three days, I was frustrated but on the fourth, I had a mental breakthrough: why am I driving to the gym just to run on a treadmill?  Immediately, my iPod playlist was updated and I whisked myself out the door before I had the opportunity to give it a second thought. I came back exhausted, dripping in sweat (which, by the by, is rare), out of breath, slightly dehydrated – and the happiest I’d been in months.  As a former competitive athlete, my body literally craves that sweet rush of fresh air (not to mention, endorphins) that the great outdoors can provide – about ten minutes in, this grin starts creeping up through the corners of my mouth, working its way towards dropping my chin and brightening my eyes. And then I remembered what it’s all about – working out makes me a passionate creature without worries or anxieties; not only does physical activity help me be the best version of myself, but it completely plays into loving myself, too. 

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Part of my new years resolution was to find a new hike every month and I love that it’s pushing me to explore more of Los Angeles.  The first hike of the new year was Griffith and personally, I’m sort of having a love affair with it.  One of the best things about hiking at Griffith Park is the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ aspect of the exercise. I’ve gone about four or five times over the last month an each time, I explored a new and completely different part of the park – terrain and view wise.  Plus, there’s the Observatory – which means I also get to flex my nerd muscles a bit.  

As you walk around the outside of the observatory, you’ll notice some curved lines: these lines represent planetary orbits and equinoxes.  The park is open from sunrise through sunset, and I highly recommend making it for one, if not both of them.  Though you don’t have the same view of the Pacific that you get from Runyon, if you’re there during the magic hour you’ll get to watch downtown slowly light up the city skyline; you can also clearly see the Hollywood sign, Runyon and Santa Monica.  

There are multiple levels and types of terrain for hiking on, the Berlin Forrest is one of the more wooded areas where the hikes by the Observatory tend to be on gravel.  This area is rich with picnic benches and perfect for some lowkey stretches, or even some lowkey laziness 😉

The view of downtown is absolutely unreal; especially when the city is shrouded in haze.

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[Track of the Week] Kiesza – Hideaway

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Back when I was geeking out over The Magician’s latest mixtape, my infatuation turned to a specific moment of the mix – minute 26.   Somewhere, between a delicious disco rhythm and empowered female vocals, my feet started sending out unknown Morse code messages throughout my office and my head began to slowly sway to the delicate beat drops.  What was this magic and where do I find more? As I scoured through all my social media resources trying to piece together a track list, I found myself rewinding the mix in an incessant fashion.  I feverishly tried to find out everything and anything I could about my addiction.  Originally from Calgary, Canada – Kiesza has been hopping all over the globe – first to New York City and as of this week, London.   Her first mark on the scene was ‘Oops’ back in ’12, but with ‘Hideaway’ she’s sure to make a more memorable splash.

The track begins by ushering in a rumbling beat and sultry vocals, with deep and open notes and slowly, progresses into a powerhouse Deep Disco vocal anthem. Featured last Friday as Annie Mac’s BBC show as the track of the week, this infectious earworm is guaranteed to leave the dance floor grooving. Think Disclosure with a soulful female vocalist (much like the addition of Mary J Blidge on ‘F For You‘ or Duke Dumont with a little sass and that’s exactly what you’ll get from Kiesza.   With support from The Magician, Tenesnake and Route 94, there’s no doubt that ‘Hideaway’ will get plenty of play this year.

Follow Kiesza on her socials  and don’t forget, the Hideaway EP releases in the US this March on Lokal Legend!

Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter 

Photo Cred: Arjan Writes Music Blog

[Doing it Right] Armin Van Buuren’s Post-Grammy Award Show

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Being a California native, it takes me a little more than the average bear to get ‘starstruck‘; but, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.   Back when I was working in El Segundo for Internet Brands, I saw Gary Payton at the local dive bar and started shaking in my boots I was so excited!  It’s not everyday that you’re standing in front of a childhood idol, and there I was – jaw to the floor in front of ‘The Glove’ and I couldn’t even muster enough syllables to form a coherent sentence. When I worked at Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles, I hugged and interviewed Christian Audigier of the infamous Ed Hardy clothing brand. Now, no – I don’t ‘love‘ his clothes, and you might have to pay me to wear about a third of what they produce – but absolutely nothing can compare to meeting an idol, fashion mogul and exceptional business brain.  A year ago this weekend, I started writing for The DJ List’ – an internationally respected, EDM webzine, and the number of opportunities I’ve had that take my breath away are simply magnificent.  What started as me wanting a ‘hand in the EDM cookie jar’ has catapulted to me with a foot in the door in the EDM world.  I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the best and brightest, and have amazing memories to show for it.

Last Spring, my boyfriend and I met Markus Schulz and covered the details of his Scream 2 Album and Bus Tour.  Then, to throw a cherry on top of my musical ice cream sundae – this past December as a little belated birthday present from the world at large: I got to meet, touch and hug the #1 Trance DJ in the world, Armin van Buuren at an exclusive Press and Fan meet and greet opportunity at the House of Blues in Hollywood where he dished about his latest one man tour, Armin Only: Intense, as well as his first Grammy nomination for the smash single ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ featuring vocalist Trevor Guthrie. Fast forward to last week and I’m churning through my emails, trying to find a ray of sunlight in my bleak inbox – and stumbled across an email from his PR agent who I simply adore: Sound Nightclub was pairing up with Armin and Trevor to celebrate their Grammy nomination for ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ and they wanted me there.  What?!  This is one of the first, and only moments, that’s left me laughing historically, wondering who in the world I am and exactly how I’ve gotten so lucky?  Granted, hard work and dedication have paid off – I’ve penned almost 60 articles for The DJ List, which isn’t anything to sneeze at – especially when you consider my full time job, and penchant for wild and crazy fun, and inherent need to basically do everything under the sun.  I want it all, and somehow, I’ve managed to get it.

Last night, three of my favorite people in the world – my wonderful boyfriend, one of my best gals that I started Beatnet EDM with and my friend who pioneered the amazing EDM Event site ‘Music Alerts’ – strutted into one of the hottest, and newest Hollywood clubs for our first time to see the man, the myth, the Trance Legend – AVB!  The venue was small enough that it’s an intimate setting, and the party was small enough that there was room to shake your groove thing and get down with your trance arms wherever you felt necessary.  Most parties at Sound pack the place to the brim, but since this was Armin’s party – no real tickets were sold; the show was invite only and the crowd, as plastic as 80% of them looked, was having the time of their lives.  Unfortunately, Armin didn’t take home the Grammy for ‘Best Dance Recording’ but the category was chalk full of amazing singles, and could’ve easily been anyone’s ball game. The rest of the category played out like this –  This Is What It Feels Like was up against Clarity from Zedd and Foxes, Kaskade’s Atmosphere, Calvin Harris and Florence Welch for Sweet Nothings, and last but certainly not least, breakthrough smash ‘Need You (100%)’ by Duke Dumont, MNEK and A*M*E.  At the end of the night, the award was much deservingly given to Zedd and Foxes – and I couldn’t be happier with the choice.  As much as I was rooting for Armin, if I had to pick a single of his to be nominated – that would not have been it.  In and Out Of LoveFine Without YouVirual Friend – they each have an immense depth, heavy layers and ethereal vocals that build throughout the track and IMO, were much more deserving of a Grammy nod; but that was a different world back then.  I’m more than interested how EDM effects other, more mainstream genres and infiltrates both Pop Music, and our Pop Culture;  Dance Music has been on the rise over the last ten years, and I can’t wait to see how EDM pushes the musical boundaries next.

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[Kitchen Kitten] D.I.Y. Pickled Veggies

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madewithOver (25)I’m officially a week and a half into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and happy as a clam. After a few days of plodding through bullet points, I separated my list into two partitions; the first, “one time” or “jumping off” points if you will (like camping at Joshua Tree or making my own candles), and the later ended up as a culmination of ideas that I want to spend the year progressively getting better at (reading sheet music, relearning French and my weekly yoga practice).  What seemed like a series of mountains instead of molehills magically transformed into a full fledged plan of attack. First up, something I’ve been itching to try since I started infusing olive oils – making my own pickled vegetables!

One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is combining my love of amazing foods – in this case, all things pickled (cucumbers, olives, mushrooms, quail eggs – you name it, I love chowing down on it) – with my addiction to easy and affordable DIY projects. I sifted through cookbooks and did a fair share of online searching, and there are a gaggle of pickling recipes out!  Take your time and bounce though a few different websites to get your bearings on the matter.  The way I see it, cooking is a lot like art – you can color between the lines and follow the instructions perfectly, or you can think outside the box and create something new. Don’t be afraid to combine bits and pieces of recipes from multiple sources, because that’s exactly what I did and it turned out phenomenally.

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There’s a few different things to take into account as you begin: What type of vegetables are you planning on pickling?  Some veggies – like cucumber and onions – can be tossed into your jars from the get-go; but for veggies that land on the sturdier side (potatoes, mushrooms, carrots), you’ll want to blanch them first so they don’t lose any coloring or flavor. Don’t worry, I’ll explain below! Would you prefer them to be savory and full of dill? Want to kick up the spice and add some chilis? Or, would you rather they land on the sweeter side?  If you plan on using multiple containers, you don’t have to make that decision – which is perfect for someone like me who simply wants it all. Now, you have the luxury of switching things up at the leisure of your taste buds, so get down with your bad self and spice each one as desired.

Vegetables: if you like bar snacks or a heavily garnished Bloody Mary, you might want to get a little wild with this.

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What I Used

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 cup Pearl Onions
  • Israeli Pickles
  • 1 Cup Small, Whole Mushrooms
  • Tunes – this week’s soundtrack comes from Jody Wisternoff of the  Progressive House duo Way Out West.  I’ve been a fan of the group for a few years now but it wasn’t until recently that I was turned onto the solo ventures of Jody or the other half of WoW, Nick Warren.  Whether together or on their own, they provide a beautifully calm soundtrack to your endeavors.

Brine:  You can make as little or as much brine as you’d like, just remember this – it’s a 2:1 ratio of water to vinegar. 

  • madewithOver (23)4 Cups Water (If you local tap water is a little cloudy, use bottled)
  • 2 Cups White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Salt (non-iodized; if you want to get fancy – pickling salt exists)
  • Fresh Dill
  • Mint Springs
  • Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Cup of Garlic Cloves

Tools:

  • 1 large Sauce Pan
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • cucumber peeler 
  • Canning or Mason Jars (old Spaghetti Sauce Jars work, too!) + Lids
  • salad tongs (optional)

After a few trial rounds, I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the pickle rhetoric and I can fly solo without instructions in front of me. I can’t wait to share, so let’s get this pickle party started!

Instructions

  • Put your basic brine (vinegar, water and salt) into a large sauce pan; bring it to a boil for two to thee minutes as the salt dissolves.  Take brine off of heat and let it cool to room temperature.  As you’re waiting…
  • Wash, slice and dice your veggies to fit your jars
  • Take the sturdier veggies and blanch them for two minutes: heat up some water with a teaspoon of salt, throw ’em in then toss them into an ice bath when you’re done.
  • Add your spices to the containers, then layer your vegetables on top; you can make each jar unique, or you can make them splash with color and mix them all together. Make sure to leave about 1/2 an inch so the brine can cover them completely!
  • Once the brine has cooled, pour it into your jars and shove them to the back of your fridge.  Depending on how impatient you are (or how much of a flavor fiend you fancy yourself), you can let them sit for anywhere between 10 hours and 2 weeks, depending on how long they fermented you can keep them for a month (quick brine) or four.

[Weekly Dose of Wisdom]

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I’m only five days into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and rewarding has never felt so exhausting and amazing at the same time!   After a brief hiatus, I started running again and afterwards, instead of ‘stretching’ – I’ve been getting down on some yoga and meditation (#12) .  I wanted a way to quantify my efforts and figured a great way to measure my yoga growth was to master a new pose a week.  That way, I can grow my repertoire of poses and incorporate them into a weekly yoga routine.  First up, Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana);  it’s been a bit of a battle, but I’ve truly enjoyed  putting in the daily work and seeing results.  What started as an absolute joke (I might have almost fallen on my face….several times), has turned into a full three or four deep breaths on each leg before I teeter-totter myself back to stability.  At the end of the weekend I hope to have a picture or two to show for my efforts, but beggars can’t always be choosers.  What’s even better is that I’ve been able to knock an item off of the bucket list!  I pickled some cucumber and mushrooms (#7) the other night and my word, they are delicious and that was easier than I thought. With the long weekend ahead  and so much I want to accomplish – I thought getting a little perspective and wisdom under my belt would be a perfect way to kick things off on this beautiful Friday in LA; enjoy!

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[Artist Spotlight] MNEK + Sam Smith

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There aren’t many male vocalists that get me choked up, but over the past year a handful have popped up on my radar much to my excitement.  Each time I hear a new song featuring Sam Smith or MNEK, my heart stops until I press play – and what I’ve found with each artists, is that I’m addicted to their soulful sounds.

Sam Smith, named the BBC Voice to Watch in 2014, has  slowly but surely etched a permanent place in my heart.  I first heard his breathtaking vocals when he lent them to Disclosure for the feel good crooner ‘Latch’; if that single doesn’t take your breath away, try your hand at the acoustic version:

Then, he does it again on the Nile Rodgers x Disclosure Collaboration ‘Together.’

So far, you’ve gotten an earful of Electro – but Sam Smith’s original work is something closer to Indie Rock with a sexy, bedroom twist:

Not to mention, his voice just remixes so pretty! MK does the jam ‘Money on my Mind’ excellent justice by infusing his remix with some signature deep house grooves.

This morning when I jumped on my mandatory morning music safari, I found a new singles under the man’s belt and I’m beyond excited to share.   ‘Make it To Me’ – has me wrapped up in all of the feels and almost in tears; his vocal prowess is so beautifully honest and refreshing, and that high register – hot damn that sounds phenomenal:

Stay up to date with Sam Smith across his socials: Webpage | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

Another vocalist that I can’t get enough of is MNEK. Every time I find a new MNEK (pronounced Em-En-E-Kay) cover on Hypem, I’m absolutely enthralled by how he refixes the song by ignoring the original format and laying down his own, silk smooth notes. There has been a host of singles over the past year that I’ve heard MNEK re-do, and each and every one is beautiful and unique in it’s own right. 19 years young, MNEK has the vocal power of an old soul;  time after time, he infuses his sultry R&B vocals into deep house rhythms to perfection and I simply can’t get enough.  One thing I really enjoy with the singles he’s released, is playing them back to back with the original; if you want to understand the man’s genius, it’s a great jumping off point – so I’ll get that party started for you:

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

[Original]

[Re-Fix]

And then of course, there are the original tracks he’s lent his stellar pipes to – like with Rudimental, SubFocus and DEVolution – proving that his voice is so much more than just [Deep] House, it’s an instrument that producers across the genres love playing with.

Keep tabs on MNEK across the interwebs – Webpage | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter