[Oh, Snap] Arlington Botanical Gardens

Whether you’re a country cat or a city kitty, one thing’s for sure – Los Angeles has a little bit of something to offer for every type of adventurous personality out there. For the best in shopping and people watching head out to  Venice Beach or the Fairfax District, Hollywood boasts some of the trendiest tourist traps around and Downtown LA is home to Chinatown and the Fashion District – perfect for ballers on a budget.  To boot, there are also tons of museums for all ages and minds – the Natural History Museum downtown is perfect for any science and history buffs, near the La Brea Tar Pits you’ll find the LACMA, the Architecture + Design Museum, the Craft + Folk Art Museum and the Peterson Automotive Museum, last but definitely not least are the Getty and it’s sister museum – the Getty Villa – which I had a chance to finally visit last January.  A handful of the museums require some sort of paid admission (or a “donation”) to enter – thankfully, some like minded and fabulous people have compiled a list of ‘Free Museum Days‘ in and around LA county; genius!

Beyond the museums that the city of angels has to offer, there are amazing places to take leisurely strolls, discover street art and take in the nature – urban and authentic – that graces our city.   One of the craziest things about the vegetation in LA (and I learned this thanks to a nasty bout of allergies a few years ago): most of the trees, plants and flowers in LA aren’t indigenous to the area – chances are they’ve been imported from South America,  Australia or a Mediterranean style climate. Flowering trees like the African Tulip and Sweet Acacia are native to Africa but found scattered throughout the city; other trees, like the Olive Tree, were imported from Italy.  There are a few fantastic botanical gardens scattered around the city, but when there’s so much free stuff to enjoy – why bother paying?!

This past Saturday, my boyfriend and I were craving an outdoors-ey adventure and had contemplated going to the Getty or Huntington Gardens over in Pasadena.  The more we researched, the more we realized how many free things were truly at our fingertips so we shifted our sights to the Arlington Gardens – the hours are more flexible, parking is easy and – yeah, it’s free!  From the second we walked in, we knew we’d be making our way back at a later date with books and bottles of wine in tow.  The park is open from dawn until dusk and has literally dozens of park benches, tables and chairs for people to set up and soak in the environment in.  Each and every direction we turned showed us something new to take in and appreciate.  According to the signage there are roughly 35 different areas of plants, flowers and vegetation and it changes throughout the seasons.  The grounds are maintained by Better and Kicker McKenney and they do an absolutely fabulous job of keeping them gorgeous.  Without further ado – here are some of my favorite snaps from the weekend – if you’re ever in the Pasadena area make sure you plan a visit here!

Tattoos: The Cultivation of My Obsession

A few weekends ago, my family came down to Los Angeles to visit me  and every time they come to visit they take the liberty of embarrassing me with stories from my childhood.  Some of them I’ve heard probably almost a hundred times – so even if I don’t remember what happened as a child I have a full fledged recollection through their eyes.

Sometimes it’s little words or phrases that they say jokingly to each other; but then there are these distinct memories they just won’t let go. Like when we were on a family trip coming back from Oregon and needed to make dinner plans, I leaned over to my dad and asked  ‘So, what’s the plan baldy‘ (FYI: I was 4; I’m now 27 and still find it hilarious) or the time I went camping and accidentally sprayed mosquito repellent in my eyes (this I’m stoked I don’t have a full memory of).

Well, one conversation that I distinctly remember with my family was about body modification.  I had my ear cartilage pierced a few times in High School (once at 16, the other at 18), and I found myself getting a bellybutton piercing right before I left for college.  I’d intended to hide it from my parents until I left for college, but then the inevitable happened.  One night I had a stomach ache and asked my mom for some medicine; why her initial reaction was to raise my tank top and observe my stomach are beyond me but there it was in all its glory.  To quote the woman, “There’s a special place for people like you – and it’s called hell.” With feelings so strong about a hypothetically  temporary modification, just imagine the words being thrown around about something permanent like a tattoo?

Well, in defense of my 27 year old self – I can proudly say:

“In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.”
– Nietzsche 

To be honest, getting a tattoo didn’t cross my mind until I was already in college.  My roommates and I had gone up to Solvang for a day trip and stumbled into a hole in the wall store called The Mystic Merchant and they had a whole section of their store devoted to runes: posters, books, necklaces and stones.  We took turns running our fingers over the necklaces with these foreign symbols, each trying to find an idea that resonated.  One friend was a fabulous writer and slam poet and chose the rune ‘Kenaz’ – the rune of creativity. I took some time, and ended up with ‘Gebu‘ – the rune of balance.  I wore the necklace for a few weeks after I’d gotten it, and each time I took it off I felt almost physically ill.  I went through two faux-rope necklaces because I refused to remove it, and then I had a genius idea: what if I just got a  tattoos? So, I did… and ever since, I’ve developed what some would call a slight obsession with them.

There’s something so intrinsically beautiful  in finding an image or idea that is so real, so true, to me as an individual that I want it to permanently become part of who I am in the process of becoming.  There are a few tattoos that I’ve been developing over time; one I’ve been drawing them over and over so frequently that I could do it in my sleep.  A few of my more artistic friends have even taken the liberty of sketching out their versions of it. I’ve had these ideas for 4 and 6 years, respectively, but I figure I can take my time since it’s something that’s forever*.

Well, things took for the interesting this past weekend. I was introduced to a new friend, a fast friend if you will. We made it official and did the whole Facebook thing and I noticed their kickass cover photo (above).  As I looked closer, I saw a tattoo on the neck of the model.   At first, my head said “That’s a badass model, getting a tattoo on her neck…” immediately followed by “…what the hell is so amazing that you would need to get it on your neck?!”  Well, take a look for yourself because it’s something that resonated immediately with me. The next day I went with my friend to an amazing tattoo parlor out in Venice called the Black Diamond Tattoo.  My friend and I had walk-in back to back appointments with the incredibly skilled Big Boy; I was in and out in 15 minutes with minimal discomfort.  Sure, there were a few times that I whimpered a little but all in all, I could still have a conversation and I didn’t cry (yay me!). I’m still in shock I went through with it; but each time I look at it or see a picture of it I become so elated.  The next part was breaking it to my family that their daughter had some new ink, but to my surprise both my parents were supportive. My dad actually told me it was “cute” and then my mom  had something to say that caught me by surprise: You didn’t use color? That’s boring.  Well, guess I can’t win ’em all.

“In music the passions enjoy themselves”

Oh Snap: Street Art v1

In every way of the word, LA is bustling with diversity, creativity and inspiration.  There’s as much diversity between the different cultures in LA as there are within them.  The creativity and inspiration of each subculture here is born out of colliding ideas.  And these ideas are translated into art, architecture, music, performance dance, and more – the key is knowing where to look; with street art, it’s no further than the wall of a dilapidated building,  a fire hydrant or billboard.

Over the past few months I’ve been taking Urban Nature Walks and taking pictures of anything that catches my eye and I can’t wait to share it with you guys through my Oh, Snap! series.  What better way to kick it off than counting down my top 10 pictures. All of these photos are taken with the Instagram Application for Android, and I’ll let you know what filters and edits I’ve used. Enjoy!


“The best thing to hold into in this world is each other” – Audrey Hepburn

Filter: Sierra
Location: Melrose


Sad Robot

Filter: Rise
Location: Melrose


Filter: Earlybird
Location: Melrose


Filter: Lo-fi
Location: Melrose


Doors of Perception

Filter: Hudson
Location: Venice


Robots with Heart

Filter: Amaro
Location: Melrose


Filter: Rise
Location: Venice


Where the Wild Things Are

Filter: Lo-Fi
Location: Melrose


“Where there is love there is life.” – Gandhi

Filter: X Pro 2
Location: Hollywood


Filter: Hudson
Location: Hollywood