[LA Life] Meandering through LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art

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Dotted around the city like technicolor sprinkles on an urban cupcake, the museums of Los Angeles offer a unique artists perspective on time, culture and society.  The Getty Villa gives a wonderful retrospective of Greco Roman art and architecture while the Getty proper itself is almost as well known for their immaculately groomed gardens as they are their vast collections of classical, modern and post-modern art. Venture into the Fairfax District and the La Brea Tarpit extension of the Natural History Museum thrusts you backwards through time as the LACMA descends into global contemporary and modern art, and Peterson’s Automotive Museum drives you through the history of the modern car.  Then there’s downtown, with The Broad, a menagerie of museums at Exposition Park and last but certainly not least, the Museum of Contemporary Art.  First, that’s not even all – and that doesn’t cover the incredible amount of art galleries and spaces like Gabba Gallery, The Container Yard and Hauser and Wirth, providing hundreds of avenues, indoors and out, to peruse a vast array of art and creativity.

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One thing about art, one of the great things, like Alex Grey says in ‘The Mission of Art’,

“The artist’s mission is to make the soul perceptible. Our scientific, materialist culture trains us to develop the eyes of outer perception. Visionary art encourages the development of our inner sight. To find the visionary realm, we use the intuitive inner eye: the eye of contemplation, the eye of the soul. All the inspiring ideas we have as artists originate here.”

Each and every one of us is a visionary of sorts, with our own unique lens to observe the world with; within that, we’re all artists just waiting to find our catalyst for creativity.  The art at the MOCA is wonderful, inspired, controversial and pensive – it makes you stop, think and smell the artistic roses – so to speak.

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The MOCA is in close proximity to art galleries, wonderful graffiti and a lot of yummy restaurants – including a branch of the famed Lemonade right outside their lobby.For more on LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, head to their socials – or just take a journey downtown!

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Yelp| Twitter

For more photos, head to my Flickr album!

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[LA Life] A Tranquil Trip to the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens

The happiness of one’s own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul; one must try to include, as necessary to one’s own happiness, the happiness of others.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda

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The bumper sticker is faded, a bit roughed up and dirty – but the words “Never Stop Exploring” boldly expresses our want, or rather need, of constant discovery and wanderlust. Affectionately called the ‘Adventure Wagon‘,  what was formerly my family’s car and what I learned how to drive on back in the day has become a staple of our current lives.  Turning 20 years old this year, it’s taken us throughout the better part of the West Coast, roaming between Oregon, Southern California and Canada, and experienced it’s share of music festivals; truth be told, my favorite adventures are the ones that it takes us close to home.Untitled

Truth be told, this past year was a monster unlike any other for me – and as it seems, for most of us.  Between some of the highest highs and the lowest lows, we traveled a lot less than ever this past year, especially as we slowly dissolved ourselves from the festival scene. Recently, these little country cats have turned into city kitties and we’ve fallen in love with the Museum of Modern Art in Downtown Los Angeles, the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room‘s at The Broad and simply roaming the streets of downtown in search of amazing architecture and technicolor street art. Instead of gallivanting to new states, we found ourselves in a slow state of finally appreciating our surroundings within Los Angeles proper, and it was absolutely wonderful. Between the beaches in Malibu and Venice, hiking trails in Hollywood, desert landscapes of the Antelope Valley and Salton Sea, the Griffith Park Observatory, and the Angeles National Forest, it’s been nice to finally marinate in the beauty of what’s in our backyard. With the year drawing to a close and no holiday vacation on tap, the last few weeks of light work turned into the perfect reason to get one last round of exploration in for the year, and I couldn’t think of a better way to look ahead into 2018 than a tranquil trip through the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens in Mount Washington, featuring sprawling lawns perfect for stretching, yoga, and ample seating while you take in the salacious views of Downtown Los Angeles and marinate in the wonderful pockets of nature..

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The Self Realization Foundation itself was founded back in 1920 by yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda as he first came to America. Considered far and wide the father of Yoga in the West, Paramahansa Yogananda is attributed with introducing his practices of Kriya Yoga and meditation to both Indians as well as Westerners.   After coming to the United States, he lectured and traveled along the East Coast, gaining notable followers from Mark Twain‘s daughter Clara Gabrilowitsch to soprano Amelita Galli-Curci, leading him to establishing the Self Realization Center in Los Angeles.  As the first Hindu teacher to truly live in the West, over time and even surpassing his death, Paramahansa continued to influence key movers and shakers across the board with his essentially self titled autobiography “Autobiography of a Yogi“, from Steve Jobs to George Harrison and Elvis Presley.   Since then, the Self Realization Fellowship has been dedicated to carrying on the ethos and humanitarian work of their founder.  The foundation themselves reaches worldwide, with a goal of fostering “a spirit of greater understanding and goodwill among the diverse peoples and religions of our global family, and to help those of all cultures and nationalities to realize and express more fully in their lives the beauty, nobility, and divinity of the human spirit.”

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Enjoy a panoramic view of the city by the sundial, or relax in the luscious lawn with lovely little flowers and well groomed trees in vibrant shades of green. Following the paths through the gardens, dip into the ferns and marinate in the calmness of the small waterfall and pond in the center.  When you continue, you’ll find various benches hidden between bushes and off the beaten paths, and a set of stone chairs and table perfect for an afternoon picnic.

The paths at the SRF are open to visitors from 9am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday and from 1-5pm on Sundays. For more photos from the gardens, head to my Flickr – and keep in mind, I’m really just learning the Canon 6D – so more to come from that in a bit! For more on the Self Realization Fellowship Gardens, head to their socials or pay them a leisurely visit.

Website | Instagram | Yelp | Facebook

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[Traveling Tales] A Double Date of Drinks at Block15 and 4 Spirits

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In what’s become a tradition of sorts, several times a year I venture off to Corvallis to visit my family, reconnect with nature and reset my personal frequency.  While the school year brings a hearty amount of hustle and bustle to the mostly agricultural community, the Summertime brings sleepy months of stunning sunsets mixed with fantastic weather; and the food and drink? Thanks to the Oregon maker spirit and an influx of former California natives, they live up to the state motto ‘Alis volat propriis‘, and they’re getting better all the time.

This romp around Central Oregon was absolutely different than anything else; first and foremost, after three years of planning – Danny and I were finally getting married, and secondly – it was fueled with the energy of the Total Solar Eclipse.   Though there were some fantastic moments over the entire week, one of my personal highlights was actually after the weight of the big day had been lifted and we were just left with some key players, including my now husband, my dad, our officiant + best friend and my cousin.  For one glorious afternoon, we enjoyed a double date of delicious drinks and rumpus games at Corvallis’ own Block15 Brewery and 4 Spirits Distillery.  Though I’d been through the former haunt of 4 Spirits, I hadn’t had a chance to visit since their migration. 

Now conveniently located side by side, 4 Spirits and Block15 pack a hearty one two punch of some of the finest beer and rustic whiskey Oregon has to offer.  When visiting, our friend reminded us of the old adage ‘Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear’, so off to 4 Spirits we went!

Boasting a bevvy of Rums, Whiskeys and a signature Vodka, at it’s heart – 4 Spirits is a philanthropic venture, giving back to both homegrown programs from Oregon and initiatives in Wyoming, Montana and Washington. To taste a flight of four hearty half ounce shots, it’s only $5 – and if a member of you group happens to purchase a bottle, then the rounds are on the house. For the whiskey drinkers, there’s the Bourbon Whiskey with delicious undercurrents of vanilla and caramel, the American Whiskey, and Single Malt; for the rum-ophiles, there’s a silver rum, a light rum, a dark rum, and my personal favorite (and take that to heart, because I’m not a rum drinker) – their habanero spiced rum; and last, and least, their vodka – which was great, but that’s not why one goes to 4 Spirits.  To add to their cornucopia of liquor, the new spot also offers a kitchen with munch worthy snacks like Stuffed Tots and fries, full sized fare ranging from burgers and sandwiches to pizza, plus a lawn version of Yahtzee, appropriately called Yard-zee.
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After loosening ourselves up with liquor, we were off to the second stop on our double date – Block15.  Literally a hop, skip and a jump across the parking lot sat Block15’s Brewery and Taproom, not to be confused with their restaurant located in the heart (aka. within the four blocks) of Downtown Corvallis.  For about $5-8 depending on your tastes, you can get a flight of five tasty beverages.  My favorites was Hopnotize, Wandlepad and the Lil’ Dab, a cannabis infused drink – cheers to you, Oregon.  Hypnosis was on the heavier side, so if you’re of the type that likes to chew their beer – this is your best bet. Though their food menu isn’t nearly as deep at the Taproom as it is at their Restaurant, the kitchen still produces some bomb eats including a DIY charcuterie board, hearty sandwiches and a hands down the best bier pretzel I’ve ever tasted.

For anyone who happens across Oregon’s Central region or finds themselves in Corvallis, between these two locations you simply can’t go wrong.  So hop on the good foot, and do the drinks thing.

For more on 4 Spirits and Block15, visit Corvallis – their socials:

4 SpiritsWebsite | Facebook 

Block 15: Website | Facebook | Instagram

[Traveling Tales] Take it to the Top: Conquering Gray’s Peak Trail

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“You might not find any wifi in the forest, but I promise you’ll find a better connection”

For the better part of the last decade,  any weekend with time to spare and sun to catch magically evolved into a festival fueled adventure somewhere along the West Coast.  Over the last few years, our festival family reunion and pre-Summer kickoff was Lightning in a Bottle – delightfully and delectably getting us ready for the rest of festival season.  When the time came this year to figure out where we wanted to lounge lavishly and enjoy each others company, we took a long hard look at the growth we’ve elicited from ourselves at Lighting in a Bottle – which comes easily when you’re surrounded by the prismatic love, light and laughter of the event.  Each year, though challenging for individually unique reasons, provided the perfect platform to acknowledge myself in the moment and grow from it.  Paired with sweeping landscapes and myriads of magical music, I almost dare you not to be moved – because I have been, over and over and over again.

Even as I describe what we didn’t experience this year, I feel blessed and gifted with my past experiences.  As I marinate in my own newfound maturity, I amuse myself in what I’ve become – knowing full well that growth is synonymous with growing pains, and I effectively feel like I’ve graduated from a phase of my life, and of myself.   All together, these thoughts synthesized themselves in a way that made me opt for a new journey for Memorial day this time around the sun. So, instead of feverishly packing our apartment to fit inside a tent, we packed an overnight bag and it was off, off and away to Big Bear for a weekend of sun and fun with a few friends that have become a hell of a lot more like family over the last few years.

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Just a hop, skip and a few hour drive into San Bernadino, Big Bear already sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000′ – even before you head out on your hike or snow inspired romp through the woods, and has a little bit of something for everyone – granted that everyone’s a bit of a nature nut.   We might have cut our lodging options short by not planning our trip until literally three days before the weekend, but thanks to AirBnB finding an a beautiful place to stay  – fully equipped with patios and a hot tub on a budget – was super easy.

After to getting into town late Friday night, on Saturday morning the group made a bomb little breakfast and got to packing for our hike.  Several sandwiches, a few mixed drinks and some salacious snackables later and we were off, off and away for what turned out to be an intense but well worth it hike up Gray’s Peak Trail.   All together, the hike up Gray’s Peak is about Seven Miles each way with 1300′ to climb in elevation.  One thing we didn’t know beforehand, but damn well are sure of now: at about 8000′ in elevation is when people start toying with altitude sickness and at approximately 8300′ – at times, you could really tell that we weren’t in Kansas at sea level anymore.

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Even though the few websites we found on the hike claimed that it was great for kids, my friends and I can attest that those kids must be jacked up on Mountain Dew because we all had our collective asses handed to us.  There were a lot of fun ‘turnouts’ – if that’s what they’re even called if you’re not in a car – that got us to jump off the beaten path and forge our own trail, but in a respectful way – of course.  There were a few places with tiny streams, stemming from the base of the mountain and loads of little lizards running amuck every which way.  Near 8k’, you could tell that the trees were starting to be weathered under the altitude but that all changed when you got near the pinnacle, it literally felt like you’d walked through a portal and into Fern Gully.   There’s a couple things that make this a Summer hike in my book – like the incline and the potential weather, but it also turns out that the trailhead is closed for public use between December and April because it’s in the middle of a bald eagle wintering habitat area – how effing neat!

Packing Pro Tips

Make sure everyone has enough water, and a backpack between two people is perfect.  Layers, extra socks, hiking shoes cause you want your ankles.

Things I’ve learned as a novice hiker, but expert adventurer:

  • Cameras are always a must, sure your phone has one – but point and shoots are fun, too! Make sure you take at least one group photo before you head up the trail and into the sweat zone – yeah, now you get it.  Extra points if you remember to bring a collapsible tripod – you’ll really be your groups MVP, most valuable photographer.
  • Your phone has a compass on it, don’t be afraid to use it – but also, put that thing away and enjoy the hike!
  • Hydration is key, super key. Drinking and hiking is fun, but in the Summer it’s not the smartest – make sure you’ve got enough water for the walk up, and the walk back; plus, being more hydrated makes the drunk more fun – if you’re into that type of thing 😉
  • A bag per every two people is appropriate, that way you can also switch off with carrying duty – make sure you toss in some sammies and full bars for meals, and for snackables both nuts and dried fruit have a lot of protein.  Last, but not least if you’re weird like me and don’t really enjoy chewing – throw in a few ensures to top it off.
  • Everybody loves layers – especially for hikes.  Bring an change of socks in case you encounter water, shorts / pants depending on what you start off in and a hoodie.
  • Do a gut check with everyone before the hike starts and make sure everyone’s comfortable with the adventure ahead, you never know who’s in super great shape, or who might have some hesitations about an all day excursion.
  • Leaves of three, let them be. Poison Oak is no joke and usually it’s kept off the trail – if you’re like me and like to forge your own path, know what it looks like…or better yet, just wear pants.

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For more on Big Bear, head to their website or social channels:

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[LA Life] A Lunchtime Romp Along the LA River

Los Angeles is a stunning landscape where you can cruise from coast to snow capped mountain and back to the desert in less than a day – if you really wanted to.  But did you know you don’t have to leave the city of Los Angeles to get a hearty dose of nature into your system?  Between Exposition Park, the Getty Getty VillaHuntington, Arlington and Descanso Gardens there are rolling acres of unique plants, flowers and trees in echo of habitats around the globe, and the multitudes of parks spread around the city like wildflowers preserve the natural landscape of Los Angeles.  Griffith Park is the second largest urban green space in California and the eleventh largest in the United States. And then there’s the LA River.

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Back in the day, long before I moved to Southern California – my parents told me an old adage about Los Angeles: LA, it’s where the rivers are paved and the streets aren’t.  Now, as a kid this statement made me laugh but for different reasons than it does now, because until I heard that ludicrous statement, it never once occurred to me that Los Angeles had a river that ran through it all.  Now, after almost a decade of living here, I can fully attest to the veracity of both sides of this absurd but accurate statement.

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Sprawling over 50 miles through the heart of Los Angeles, the LA River begins up in the Santa Susana Mountain Range, which stretches between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. and flows into Long Beach. Over the last two decades, and in conjunction with the Friends of the LA River,  the city has decided to revitalize about 30 miles of the river and both bring back the ecology of the area and promote its biodiversity.  With multiple stops for river trail access, local recreation areas and riverfront parks, delicious restaurants as well as nearby metro stations – you could easily make a whole day out of gallivanting down the banks of the river while exploring true hidden gems of the city.

So far, I’ve only gallivanted along the paths in North East LA, but so far – so beautiful. There are several different bike paths that take you along the river in Frogtown, and if you bring good enough shoes you can even make it down to the banks and enjoy a little picnic in the middle of the city, relaxing as the river ripples along – bubbling up to say a little hello; just do yourself a favor and pack some sunscreen because bugs. There were several lush parks to take a pack lunch to, and with amazing sandwich shops like Wax Paper along the route how could you not? I highly recommend the Steve Julian. Now, I personally don’t know how to ride a bike – but the bike path by the LA River makes me damn well wish I did – plus, now that I know the Spoke Bike Cafe is just a hop, skip and a jump down the trail, I just might finally learn…one day ;).

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For more about the LA River Trail and all the amenities on the way, head to their website or social media pages:

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[LA Life] Frolic Among the Flowers at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Over the last year, my life has uncovered a bevvy of nuanced ways that it has to re-prioritize what’s important. Call it a quarter life crisis, or simply just growing up – but the things that used to sit on top of my pyramid of needs have reorganized themselves into a quieter, calmer lifestyle.  An avid audiophile through and through, when I pulled away from going to music festivals and concerts it was like I spearheaded an investigation into who I was at my core.  A daughter, a dreamer, a lover, a cat lady, a nature nymph, a very silly girl who cares very deeply about the world she cultivates around her. Two years ago, four years ago, ten years ago – I couldn’t escape the monotony of my home life enough:  living in Los Angeles, there is literally something to do at every second of every day, and I dove in head first, exploring new eats in new cities and musing around music festivals like it was my job, which eventually – it was.  At 23, it was the perfect lifestyle – at 28, still amazing; but as I cruise into the meat of my thirties, that’s just not what I want out of life at this current moment.

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What do I want? I want to be nurtured by nature, I want to analyze my psyche through the scope of the arts and I want to take things just a little more slowly, a little more sweetly.  Over the almost nine years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve watched as this self professed ‘City Kitty’ has evolved into more of a ‘Country Cat’.  I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Big Sur and Sequoia, breathing in the the crisp, clean air while I revel in the romanticism of the great outdoors. Though we’ve been in a major drought these last few years, major rains during this past Winter have done their part to change the lay of the land and bring some much needed water to the area – and the Springtime Southern California desert has responded in kind with the Super Bloom.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Just a hop, skip and a jump up the 14 Freeway from Los Angeles lies the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  Sitting right on the outskirts of Lancaster, and potentially one of the only valid reasons to go to Lancaster at all, the AV Poppy Reserve is surrounded by rolling hills and a sweeping skyline.  Part of the California National Park system, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve spans 1,781 acres acres and boasts a wide variety of trails to take you from corner to corner of the park. The state natural reserve is located on the states best natural poppy bearing land. But, beyond the orange beauty of the California state flower, the Poppy Reserve and outlying areas are covered with luscious blue lupines, and yellow goldfields and cream cups.

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

Though the Poppy Reserve is stunning, and boasts plenty of walkable trails – I found that the best Poppies were right on the side of the road.  With ample turnouts available from Castaic Lake all the way up to the Reserve, you could literally spend the entire afternoon staring into the soul of flowers.  And boy, do those flowers sing back.If you couldn’t get enough of the sprawling desert landscapes of Lancaster, the Arthur B Ripley Desert State Park is only about 8 miles West of the Poppy Reserve, and has plenty of wildflowers and juniper woodland, in addition to the area’s native Joshua trees.

For more of my photos from the Poppy Fields, check out my album here 🙂

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Southern California and plan your trip to the Poppy Reserve now! For more on the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, head to their website and social media channels –

Website | Facebook | Yelp

Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

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Adventures to the AV Poppy Reserve

[LA Life] Lunchtime Relaxation Along Echo Park Lake

Arguably, one of the best things about Autumn and Winter in Southern California are that they feel like anything but.  Beyond an occasional fresh breath of brisk air around dusk, the sunshine is radiant, flowers are blooming around every corner and the parks around the city are bustling with an effervescent energy.  What I’ve discovered recently, is that no matter what part of Los Angeles you’re in – you’re never more than 10 minutes from a lovely and lush patch of park, if that.  And I would know – recently, I’ve started up (yet another) part time gig and it’s required me to be slightly more mobile than working from my home office, and I’ve found myself getting reacquainted with neighborhoods from Silver Lake to Echo Park, Los Feliz and Highland Park; mostly to do with the fact I’ve gotten lost more times than I’d like to admit.  One of the highlights to these recent roadtrips is roaming open space and breathing in the little treasures our city has to offer.

The great outdoors –  something that more often than not is taken for granted.  Did you know that for basically the entire time you’re working Monday through Friday, the sun is gallivanting through the sky, on a predictable yet beautiful path while it doles out showers of sunlight at every angle – even gracing us with technicolor beginnings and endings when we’re lucky enough to be in the right location?  Yet, for the most part – we’re inside, staring at a computer monitor, behind a desk, wearing a monkey suit and tap-tap-tapping away at our tasks until the sweet sensation of five o’clock rolls around.  Let’s be honest, that’s no way to live – so during lunchtime, do yourself a favor: get out, get moving, lap up some sun and reenergize your day the natural way.

Plants use sunlight do undergo photosynthesis, creating the oxygen that we breathe.  As humans, we don’t necessarily go through the same exact process – but sunlight clearly has it’s own set of health benefits.  Just a few minutes of sunlight has proven to improve mood by boosting levels of serotonin (have you ever visited Oregon in the Winter…?), and stimulating the body to produce Vitamin D, boosting health and the immune system. Plus, getting some exercise in the middle of your day is always a good call – a brisk walk might not be a run, but it’s not sitting on your ass at home, either.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been compiling a list of my favorite public spaces to plop into – and after several visits in the last few months, Echo Park Lake is slowly topping my list. First and foremost, there’s that spectacular view of the downtown skyline – it looks fantastic, especially with some clouds dotting the sky.  Then, there are loads of space on the luscious green grass skirting around the lake, while geese and duck gleefully flock around the park.  If you’re feeling adventurous, or a tad romantic – rent out a paddleboat for a spin on the lake!  Two points for you if you happened to paddle out to the floating library installation earlier this year, you’re the real MVP.  Though there’s no designated parking for Echo Park Lake, the outer rim of the lake offers a plethora of street parking – as do the surrounding neighborhoods.  The park has also accepted that we’re living in the 21st century and has it’s own WiFi for anyone trying to get some work done, or maybe just stream their music a little bit easier.

 

For more on Echo Park Lake, head to their social media channels – or just pay the park a leisurely visit.

Website | Facebook | Yelp