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Back on Track

I’ve been slacking on my training for the Avon marathon.  The same walk routes get old, walking takes too long, I have too much work to do… all the usual excuses to avoid any kind of exercise.  I’m supposed to be walking 14-17 miles a week at this point, and I think I’ve been doing all of… 3.  Maybe 4, if I push myself.

Well I managed to get off my lazy booty and push myself  (or, rather my mom pushed me) over Memorial Day weekend and I think I’m getting back on track.  Kind of.  We took the train up to Monterey to get out of Los Angeles for a couple of days, and the main event of our trip was a 9-mile walk from Asilomar beach to Sand City, with a lunch break at Fisherman’s Warf (mmm clam chowder in a bread bowl, the big draw that pulls me to Monterey).

Walk along the beach

Asilomar Beach

The miles go by pretty quickly when you have gorgeous scenery surrounding you.  And it was nice to get away from looking at the same old houses in my Eagle Rock neighborhood, as much as I enjoy seeing which neighbors like to keep their homes’ decor close to their trailer park roots and which strive for a more aesthetically pleasing modern style.

Leavin\' LA...

Escape from LA

And as much as I love exploring the city of LA, this train trip up the coast of California was one of the best things I’ve done since moving back here.  The train goes through parts of the coast that you can’t see otherwise, and there is not one mile that fails to show how beautiful the Golden State really is — from the striking mountains in the background to the vivid green valleys stretching along the tracks, and the sparkling shoreline running along next to it all. 

This is California

This is California…

Besides the gorgeous backdrop, being on the train is such an enjoyable way to travel.  On the way up we took part in a wine tasting in the Parlor Car, complete with cheese, wine from the Santa Barbara area, and conversation with other passengers (which would never happen on a plane where the main goal is to avoid the snoring guy with B.O. sitting next to you).  We had our meals in the Dining Car, which definitely beat out airplane food by a long shot.  And the trip is just relaxing, sitting in the big chairs reading, chatting, or just staring out of the window.  No hurrying through security lines, being crammed into a tiny seat with no leg room, or trying to take a nap while a baby screams in your ear.

The route takes you through Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, the San Francisco Bay area, and on up to Seattle, Washington (the entire trip takes about 40 hours, something I’d love to be able to do someday).  From Union Station to Salinas was about 9 hours, and the trains surprisingly ran pretty much on schedule.  For a leisurely trip away from the rat race of Los Angeles, this is definitely the way to go.

Link to the Great Escape:

Coastal Starlight Train Trip 

Loungin’ Around in Eagle Rock

There has been talk about Eagle Rock being the new Silver Lake, the next “hip” spot to be in LA.  While I’m not so sure about that (although I do love my town!), it has become the place where stylish spots to eat and drink are popping up right and left.  In the past few years we’ve seen several bars revamped for ___(Marty’s, the York), a stylish sushi restaurant opened its doors (Mia Sushi), a contemporary soul food joint moved in (Larkin’s), and multiple “healthy” fast-food options (Taco Spot, Spitz) have entered the scene.

And now we have yet another hip hang out spot joining the ranks on Colorado Boulevard… the CT Lounge, a comfortable but modern atmosphere where it’s all about choice. 

It was a sweltering day, one of those where it is impossible to cool down, especially when going from one place to another around town. As my final stop I decided to check out Eagle Rock’s newest hot spot. Walking through the unassuming doors into the dark and deliciously cool CT Lounge, where deep purple curtains blocked out the overwhelming sunlight beating down on Colorado Boulevard, was exactly the relief I needed after running errands in the blistering heat. Once my eyes adjusted to the sudden darkness, I climbed into one of the futuristic-looking booths and relaxed into the cool atmosphere. With multiple big screen TVs on every wall and a good-vibe soundtrack playing overhead, the CT Lounge is definitely the place to chill out on a hot day. An ice cold beer completes the picture.

The CT Lounge is an offshoot of the Coffee Table Bistro, owned and operated by Mike Zammarrippa. Mike originally came to Eagle Rock to open a second location of his Silver Lake eatery, the Coffee Table. As in Silver Lake, when he opened the doors to the new restaurant there was a major lack of local eating establishments. It wasn’t too long before other eateries followed suit, and now Eagle Rock is full of food delights, with more on the way. Mike explains that when Chic’s Liquor closed its doors (right next door to the Coffee Table) he saw “an opportunity to take what was once a liquor store with a very bad reputation and create something that Eagle Rock lacked – a nicely designed space where one could go to watch a movie or see a game.” Another key element in opening the CT Lounge was the desire to “distinguish ourselves by having the largest variety of premium beer in the Northeast area,” states Mike. And they do have variety: 16 beers on tap and over 100 bottled beers available to thirsty customers. To satisfy the patrons’ hunger, the CT Lounge also serves up a variety of tasty burgers and munchies, they have even included some healthy salads into the bar food mix.

Along with having a relaxing environment with a fun vibe, Mike wants the CT Lounge to be known as a place “where the staff is friendly, the food is good, and the variety of beer is amazing.” This proves to be a winning mixture among the Eagle Rock crowd. During a recent Lakers’ game there was not a seat to be found in the bar, with Oxy college students making up a large percentage of the bar-goers. Aside from the mouth-watering food and large beer selection, the Lounge is simply a great place to hang out. Multiple flat screen TVs and a huge projection TV constantly play various sporting events or movies, while a Touch Tunes Internet Juke Box gives patrons “just about every song ever recorded” to choose from to blast throughout the bar. The CT Lounge’s Monday Movie Night is also sure to draw a crowd, with films like Young Frankenstein projected on the big screen.

The CT Lounge will be the place to hang out this summer. Stop in and cool down with a beer and great atmosphere.

 

 

Visit the CT Lounge Online:

 The CT Lounge

 

 

To Mothers and Good Food

My grandma came down to LA for a visit to celebrate Mother’s Day.  That always means good food, and this weekend was no exception.  Friday night we had dinner at Cafe Beaujolai, a local French favorite in Eagle Rock.  The food is always good and the waiters are always entertaining there. 

The highlight of our dining was yesterday though, when my family went to the Scarlet Tea Room in Pasadena for a Mother’s Day Tea.  Located on Green Street and Fair Oaks, this little place is to die for… yummy tea sandwiches, delicious sugary treats, and a wide variety of tea and wines to choose from.  And it is surprisingly filling, so be prepared to go into a food coma soon after!

 

yummy

You choose four out of several tasty options… I got prosciutto and roasted red bell pepper, smoked salmon and chive, olive tapenade and roasted bell pepper, and the classic cucumber tea sandwich.  All were delicious and made me want more!  The scones that came with the tea tray were also very good and came in a range of flavors, we had  a chocolate chip and several different fruit ones.

sugar overload

 These little desserts don’t look like they’d be enough, but each one is made of enough sugar to keep a 5-year-old hyper til her 21st birthday.  I would have been fine with more sandwiches and the almond champagne that we started with, especially since we had strawberries framboise in a chocolate cup right after these.  Sugar overload! 

To all the mothers...

 Happy Mother’s Day!

———————————————————

Follow the link…

Scarlet Tea Room

Cafe Beaujolais

 

Ready… Aim… Mis-fire?

Top 5 Reasons Why It’s Better Not to Plan Ahead

You ever have one of those days where everything that happens is kind of a misfire? Well that was my whole weekend.  After a whole week of talking about plans and fun activities for the weekend and despite L.A.’s never ending possibilities for amusement last weekend kind of ended up a bust.  Luckily my friends and I are the types to make fun no matter what gets thrown our way!

1.  Americana Opening Has Too Many People = eating at a smelly Islands with pissed off waiters/bartenders.   I received a text Friday after I got off work saying that a bunch of the group were heading over to the new Americana at Brand shopping center for opening day.  Right up my alley, I am showered, dressed, and ready to go in a matter of minutes.  We all meet up and head over to Glendale… where we find that we have to wade through the masses of people who have turned up to see the amazing new Grove look-a-like.  Parking wasn’t as difficult as we thought it might be, I think they can probably pack in the entire city of Glendale’s cars in to this structure! After wandering around and checking out what fabulous stores have graced this side of town we decided we should get our names on a list for somewhere to eat since this place is jam packed.  We figured the Cheesecake Factory was our best bet and head in (or rather fight and struggle our way in) to put our names on the list… for a TWO. HOUR. WAIT.  At 9:30 at night! After wandering around for awhile trying to find a shorter wait, we walk into an Island’s which promised 15 minutes until our table was ready and an empty bar.  Although the place smelled like an old wet sponge we figured it was our best bet.  With 10 indecisive people ordering, canceling orders, and re-ordering I’m pretty sure we got a heavy dose of waiter spit along with our fries and drinks.

2.  Saying We’re Going to Have the Best Night Ever = no one can decide what to do and we end up going back and forth between Barney’s and E Bar in Old Town (plus see a couple having sex against a bar in NeoMezz).  Throughout our hours long dinner everyone talked about how great it was going to be to go out after and have some fun after the long week.  However no one talked about what we were actually going to do so we spent a good 20 minutes standing outside in the cold trying to come up with something that everyone wanted to do.  Finally half of the group drifted off to the movies, while the other half headed over to Old Town Pasadena (after deciding to go to the movies with the rest, no wait we should go out, but no it’s too late now, but yes, but no, okay we’ll go to a bar).  Truth be told we probably should have just gone home because no one really wanted to be in Barney’s, and by the time we decided it would be fun to dance at E Bar they wouldn’t let us in.  We wandered down to NeoMezz where we witnessed the most interesting thing of the entire evening…  the gift of one cheap rose being enough for a session public grinding and/or sex up against the bar in a near empty room.  Classy.

3.  Joking/Sarcasm Does Not Work Through Texting = continued lateness and more waiting in the cold for the group to decide on something to do.  Saturday’s group indecisiveness started early with the texting games and back-and-forth about where we were all going to meet, if we were meeting, who was going with who, etc etc etc.  In the end we made it to the performance one of my friends’ cousin (she plays guitar and sings, check her out…link below!) for the last 2 songs.  Then we did our usual stand around in the cold routine while figuring out where everyone wanted to eat (the top priority in this group).  This time we actually had some goooood food (although kept up with the pissed off waiters somehow… this time any simple request of more water or an extra napkin was met with a glare of death) at this little cafe in Beverly Hills where they make the BEST paninis I have ever had.  And I’ve had some good paninis.  We stopped in at Nic’s Martini Lounge across the street where there was some more hemming and hawing about where the night was going to take us, but at least this time we were struggling over decisions with drinks in hand.  After a bunch of people dropped out of the party a couple of us headed over to the W in Westwood (of course at the last minute possible) and danced our little booties off despite the dodgy DJ’s strange mixture of music and the older (or shall we say, more ‘mature’) guests kinky dance moves.

4.  Trying to Be All “LA” and Go to the Beach Even Though You Wake Up and Can Only See Gray Skies = windy, cold, and all-around miserable day (plus gross BBQ because drunk people can’t cook).  This also apparently leads to being the cover for your friend who is trying to carry out an affair with a married man.  Which then leads to waiting around in Long Beach for said “relationship” to carry out (and we all know what that means…) while you just want to make the drive back to LA and get to bed after a strange weekend.  Apparently this then leads to frustration and yelling like white trash on the front porch (ahem, in front of the entire neighborhood) about how disgusting some people are.  This is not necessarily advisable if you’re trying to maintain the appearance of not actually living in a trailer park, but I have to say it can feel realllllly good.  And it was probably the dramatic finish that this mis-fired weekend deserved!

So with no extravagant plans made for this coming weekend I’m thinking it could turn out a lot better! Spontaneity is the way to go in this town…

 

Last weekend’s fabulous roundup:

The Americana at Brand

Barney’s Beanery

NeoMeze

Hear some good local music here

Nic’s Martini Lounge

The W Bar and Hotel

Update

So the first week of training for the Avon marathon walk went well.  I did 20 miles, which is pretty close to a marathon! Now I just have to get all those miles in one day and I’ll be all set for the Walk in September… haha!

I haven’t walked that much this week since I’ve had work piling up on top of me.  My laziness is actually turning out to be a good thing today because there has been a mountain lion running loose in Eagle Rock!  That would NOT have been a good thing for me to run into bright and early in the morning when I am nice and groggy and definitely not at my best for confronting danger.  Danger that should not even be present in the city!  I can easily get around crazy drivers and sidestep hobos on the street, but mountain lions are not in my repertoire.  Apparently wrassling wild animals is something I should add to my list of skills.

 

Won’t Go Home Without You

Catchphrase of this past weekend… “Wow I can’t believe you are actually in MY hometown this time!”

It was such a surreal few days having one of my best friends from Liverpool (who now lives in London) come out to LA to see what all the fuss was about.  After getting lost trying to back to this side of town from LAX (how confusing are the exits out of airports??), I finally got P back to my house so he could change before dinner.  I took him to El Cholo in Pasadena for a taste of some real Mexican food, not whatever the Brits come up with as Mexican haha… He took a picture of the sheer amount of food we were given and said it was tasty but that guacamole has a weird texture.  I’ll have to bring him around to how amazing it actually is, we have time!

I decided to get Hollywood out of the way on Friday, before it got too packed on the weekend.  We went on the Dearly Departed Tour, which I thought would be a much better idea than me trying to drive around showing him the sites (we all know my history of driving in Hollywood.. and if you don’t then GOOD, that’s one less person that will make a comment on my driving skills!).  The creator of www.findagrave.com is the tour guide, so you know you’re in for some scandalous sites on the Hollywood’s Tragical History Tour.  In the three hour tour we saw tons of LA and movie history, from the street where Halloween was filmed to the restroom where George Michael was arrested for uhh ‘indecent exposure.’  We didn’t come across any celebrities, but we did see Sylvester Stallone’s car and Christina Aguilera’s house… I’m obviously not hanging out in the right circles if in all my years of living in Los Angeles I’ve only seen a couple of famous people!

Once the tour was over we got P posed with all the usual tourist photo ops at Hollywood and Highland and Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  We’ve got about a dozen pictures of a famous person’s handprints and P’s foot, or P’s hand pointing at a celebrity’s signature in the cement.  We wandered down Hollywood Blvd to find P a souvenier out of one of the many seedy little shops and then ventured in to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a classic!  It seems a little old and out of place next to all the development going on in that area, but it still manages to amuse (and gross out) with its strange collection.

That night we had a few drinks at The Chalet, my local neighborhood bar in Eagle Rock.  We chilled out, played our favorites from the jukebox, and remembered funny/embarrassing nights out from college.  P was amazed that there was actually Guinness on tap at some place in the US — and that it actually tasted alright!  Haha yes.. Americans can drink real beer too (although the next night P was affirmed in his idea that all Americans are lightweights).

Saturday we went to Universal Studios, something I haven’t done in YEARS.  Last time I went it was pretty empty and I don’t remember there being that much to do.  But we had a blast, despite the fact that I might have given P some bruising out of terror walking through the House of Horrors and going down the drop in the Jurassic Park ride!  We went on the Studio Tour, which I thought would be neat for an out-of-towner to see but I ended up exclaiming “Oh wow that’s cool” every five minutes too.

After we had recovered from walking around all day, we ventured to a club called Elevate, located in the 21st floor penthouse of an office building in Downtown LA (along with Takami Sushi and Robata Restaurant).  It had a great view of Los Angeles from its outdoor areas and a DJ who played all kinds of fun music to dance to.  It was a classic night for me and P, filled with an intense mixture of tequila shots, crazy dancing, lost ATM cards, weird conversations with strangers, a few tears, but ultimately a lot of fun (and a LOT of funny memories).  Random little bits of that night have been coming back to us all week, cracking us up with each one.  

After that crazy night we spent the rest of the weekend chilling out.  Sunday afternoon we drove all the way down Sunset Blvd to the beach, looking at all the different parts of LA from Echo Park to Malibu.  From there we wandered around Santa Monica Pier and the 3rd St Promenade.  We got some interesting people watching in and I made P stand in the Pacific ocean and pose for all kinds of touristy photos.  Too bad the weather wasn’t nice enough for actually lying out in the sand somewhere, I don’t think P even went back to freezing England with any kind of a tan! 

For a five day trip I think we hit all the major tourist spots of LA.  We’ve got a list going of less touristy things to do for the next time he comes out to visit, it’s already pretty long but I’m sure there is loads that needs to be added.  If you have any ideas for what has to be shown to people from outside the LA bubble,  drop me a line!