Tag Archives: lifestyle

LA Weekly’s Best of L.A. 2017 — West Hollywood Re-Deux

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LA Weekly just came out with their annual Best of L.A. issue, which I picked up by happenstance on Friday night. As a native of this awesomely diverse and sprawling city,  I can’t wait to flip through even more, as there are some really interesting places profiled: a Romanian restaurant in Highland Park, a body-positive gym in Mount Washington, late-night Thai food in East Hollywood (as well as a magic-themed bar), veggie soul food in Leimert Park, a history museum in the west Valley, and countless others.

I was, however, quite thrown off when I reached the section for West Hollywood — a literal half-page-and-a-column about the following: a boxing gym, a marijuana dispensary, a new restaurant, and The Chapel aka The Abbey lite. Also included was a brief note from an expert that mentioned the aquatic center and mural on the back of the library, but nothing that really stood out.

West Hollywood featured in LA Weekly’s “Best of LA 2017”.

Hmm.

Like… really? That’s all that LA Weekly could come up with?

Thanks to the Sunset Strip, I’ve never really been a stranger to Weho — any time between 2006 and 2010, you could find me taking the 218 over the long and windy Laurel Canyon pass then the 2 west, just to get lost in a show at the Viper Room or the Roxy. My diminutive, reserved Lake Balboan self was eyeballs deep in dreamland every time, and I just loved it.

After making the move in 2012, I can truly say that it’s one of those unique cities where everyone can be who they want to be. It’s also very walkable– it isn’t out of the ordinary for me to park my car after work on  Friday evening and not get back into until Monday morning. It’s a small town in a big city, a real community of people from all walks and income brackets — real folks who work, live, volunteer, and create here.

It really is a special place, full of culture, color, flavor, life, and pride, with something most always going on, and someone most always glad to see or get to know you.

So I’ve decided to do my own “Best of West Hollywood” feature –not from the perspective from a trust-fund hipster, but from a former Valley girl and aspiring writer who works a 9:30-to-7 near LAX.

Best Ramen Place: Daikokuya
Not that I’m complaining, but I used to have to drive all the way to Little Tokyo, then Little Osaka on Sawtelle to get my spicy miso ramen fix. So now having Daikokuya available within walking distance just makes life all sorts of shiny (especially following a night of 2-for-1 drink specials on Santa Monica Blvd). Not only ramen, but they serve up some awesome rice bowls — shredded pork with ginger, teriyaki chicken, eel, oh my — with miso soup and cabbage salad with a dressing worth the caloric indiscretion. Every time.

Best Sit-Down Pizzeria: Dough
The name says it all — the dough makes the pizza. There really is something that just makes it taste so damned good. Do they fly in cases of Poland Spring water from New York, or utilize a water filtration process similar to Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.? I don’t know but what I do know is that it is so delicious every single time. Single slices are priced from $2.50 (cheese) to $3.99 (BLT), and there are innovative menu selections and  specials every day of the week. My personal favorite special is Monday’s buy one get one pizza special, and $0.99 pizza slices with the purchase of a drink on Wednesdays.

Best Happy Hour: Cecconi’s (Tuesday to Saturday from 4 to 7pm, enjoy food and cocktails priced from $4 to $7!) and St. Felix (daily from 4 to 8pm; Sundays start at 2! Just. So. Good. Just go. Go.)

Best Frozen Yogurt: Yogurt Stop
The prospect if dessert is worthy of a smile in itself, but throw in flavor names such as Bottoms Up Banana, Salted Caramel Booty, Milk My Harvey Chocolate, and Original Weho Tart John Duran, and you’ll be guaranteed at least a yelp of amusement. Plus, their vegan flavors — including coconut, almond; watermelon sorbet — actually taste like and have a non-imitation consistency.

Best Car Wash: Santa Palm Car Wash
I could go to the gas station closer to my office, or anywhere on the way home from wherever I may be headed — but I always end up at the local car wash on the corner of Palm and Santa Monica Blvd. You just feel where your dollar is going — into local business versus dime-a-dozen machinery. Newly remodeled and located across the street from Yogurt Stop and sharing geographical real estate with LA Buns hot dog and hamburger stand, its service with a smile is in actuality.

Best Disco FriesKitchen 24
Somewhere in between poutine and heaven falls an order of disco fries. Fun story: one night I was attempting to make my way back home after a liquor-ish maiden voyage to FUBAR and I had the drunken munchies. I walked by Kitchen 24 and dropped in to request the K24 Breakfast Sandwich and disco fries, the former of which I devoured on the rest of the walk home. The latter, however, my boyfriend ate the following morning as I slept off the booze. I forgave him eventually.

Best Gay Bar: Flaming Saddles 
Now, I personally can get into regular old country, but this isn’t regular old country. It is West Hollywood country, honey — a.k.a. attractive men in tight denim, boots, and hats, sometimes dancing on tables. Not that there’s anything wrong with a posh, scene-y vibe, but if you’re going for hella fun, go for the cowboy. Always the cowboy. (Runner-up: Micky’s.)

Honorable mentions —
Best Bottomless Mimosa Brunch: Jack n’ Jill’s Too, Marco’s Trattoria
Best New Place for Alternative Tacos: Tocaya Organica
Best Pet Supply Store: Collar & Leash
Best Tucked-Away Hotels:  Le Montrose, Le Petit Ermitage
Best Restaurants (That I’ve Been To): The Granville, Sandbox on Melrose
And finally, Restaurants/Shops/Places That I Hope to Visit Soon: Pono Kitchen + Bar, The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker, Salt & Straw

Ah… see? Much better.

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Yes, You’ve Settled 

settled

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” — Will Rogers

In 2001, I had a Samsung flip phone, a 5G iPod nano, and a Dell Inspiron laptop running a Windows XP operating system. That was all I could ask for, and as a struggling college student, it made more sense to hold onto what I had until it either snapped in half or melted enough AC adaptors to render it useless.

Soon after graduation, however, smart devices were experiencing a massive boom, so I decided to move onto something new. I totally could have got another flip phone, as they were and are still being manufactured. But for me, it was time for me to join the new and ultra-improved tech stream the whole world had found itself thrust into. And so I did, essentially trading three devices for one.

Now, new tech is one of those things that — while increasing exponentially — is at most everyone’s fingertips in the form of a smartphone. With constant release of new products, updates, and features, it can a challenge to keep up — but either you do, or you don’t. The choice, relatively, is yours.

This can apply to anything you can think of, from a film or music genre to a sex position. It’s great to know what you like — but being so sure runs the all-too real risk of being frozen in time. And not in a classic, timeless sense, either. More like a primitive relic.

I’ve been feeling this lately and have been making an effort to implement simple strategies to be more in tune with the outside world instead of humming along, ignorantly blissful within mine:

1. Listening to new music. This has probably has been the easiest and most accessible way to keep stay in the now, because — while I may question some of the latest trends in popular music — it gives me some insight into what is “hot” or “fresh”, therefore leaving me feeling somewhat hot and fresh. It’s also given me more insight into how my parents and other adults felt about Top 40 music when I was a teen during the late nineties. (Sorry, Mom and Pop.)

Today I stumbled upon Julia Michaels while reading an article from BBC that piqued my interest. A songwriter-turned-pop-artist, she reminded me a bit of Tove Lo, who I can’t get enough of. So I figured, why not give her a chance? Michaels’ debut mini-album “Nervous System” was released just this past Friday, and if you like pop music with a little twist, you’ll probably like this. (Saucy types, stick around for “Pink”.)

2. Reading articles from start to finish. Like, actually reading them and not merely reacting to a headline.

Cool story: I came across a Vanity Fair article on tonight’s Game of Thrones episode (look out for spoilers) and I had geared up to tell them off via Twitter based on my strong reaction to the headline via Google search. (I actually did, but deleted the tweet once I actually read the article. Oops.)

Say what??

Just saying, we’re all guilty of falling into sticky af clickbait and we should know better by now but, you know, we don’t.

3. Hanging out with people. Whether online or in-person (ideally the latter), social engagement is where the magic happens. Having turned 32 this year, I feel very “old” sometimes, and yeah, while not a teenager, my mind feels like me, which is as only old as I feel. And now the cliche phrase makes sense, whereas it used to be just words.

Sharing ideas, interests, coming to a common ground, etc. keeps the blood flowing to the appendages, as it were. Keeps the neurons alight and all that jazz. Going where people are may take a little effort, but more often than not, it’s worth it.

Don’t get me wrong: having that comfort feeling that makes you feel how you felt the first time doing anything is one of the best things out there. Like that cozy sleeping-in feeling on a rainy day, being comfortable is absolutely needed. Just remember that being too comfortable can run the risk of mental and emotional atrophy from staying in the same place for too long. 

Besides, new experiences are always out there, waiting for that first time feeling to be uncovered. Rarely will they be where you’ve been a million times before.

So get moving.

Strength Training for the Zombie Apocalypse, Ep. 4

So I’ve realized I’ve got a little time to kill before the humans start to turn and am going to hop on the vanity train for mile or two.

I’ve been alternating upper body and ab days with glute and leg days, throwing in HITT and LISS cardio where it fits. My upper body tends to show more progress sooner than other areas, yet I’ve noticed that my back and shoulders could use a little work (in comparison to my biceps, triceps, etc.).

My favorite upper body exercises tend to involve bodyweight strength progression (i.e. push up variations) — again, functionality over aesthetics. I will be incorporating more challenging bodyweight exercises to up the ante while achieving a more balanced look — i.e. tricep push ups, diamond push ups, pull ups, chin ups, and handstands…. probably in that order.

I just haaaaaaaate push ups in general, though. They’re not supposed to be easy. And maybe two sets of 12 reps is adequate at this time. I just have to learn to be patient with myself. The post-apocalyptic civilization won’t be built in a day.

Yesterday I did more back-centric exercises while not neglecting (shoulders, bis n’ tris) coupled with core work. Completed this bad boy below in 52 minutes and 6 seconds:

Am doing lower body today and will follow up with that routine later this week.

Check out previous episodes here:

Episode 3
Episode 2
Episode 1

What does your workout routine look like?

 

Accidentally Vegan: e.l.f. Makeup Brushes 

I ventured to Target the other day with the goal of upgrading my very low maintenance makeup game. As per usual, I ended up in the e.l.f. section to replace my favorite eyeliner pen when I happened upon their makeup brushes. Color me surprised when I saw this on the back of the package:

Vegan-friendly! This may not be news to beauty product aficionados but it is awesome news to me! Retailing at just $2 USD per brush, this is an excellent example of bringing on more cruelty-free products to the masses. In fact, I recently learned that e.l.f. cosmetics’ entire product line is, in fact, cruelty-free!

I’ve always loved e.l.f. cosmetics because their affordability allows more accessibility via less initial monetary investment. This quality coupled with their vast array of products makes experimenting with classic and modern makeup trends fun and so much less of a hassle. But it’s the extra step they’ve taken to be cruelty-free in at that elevates the brand even more for me!

Do you use e.l.f. cosmetics? What are some of your favorite beauty products? What does your daily makeup routine look like? Let’s chat in the comments!

3 Things That Happened When I Stopped Drinking Alcohol

I feel that everyone has said this to some extent, but I used to be a pretty big drinker. I’m not sure if it was way to reduce social anxiety, a coping mechanism, or something to do to pass the time (or all three) — but whatever it was, it was getting to be too much in my life. And so, I stopped.

Of course it wasn’t as easy as that, but I was getting tired of feeling like crap. After a real heart-to-heart and realizing that I was poisoning my body, it was time to make a decision. If my body was so hell bent on rejecting the stuff, maybe it was time for me to consciously do so in return.

So I went for a little over 30 days without drinking. Here’s what happened:

1. I lost weight. I’ve been struggling to lose “the last 10” for years and have been on every restrictive diet and exercise plan out there – really. But nothing, I repeat, nothing broke the plateau more effortlessly than not drinking. I am now comfortably 5 to 8 pounds less than what I was, just by making that one change.

2. I lost some friends. Happy hour and bottomless mimosa brunches are not part of my social routine anymore. While I see some friends a lot less, I’m not upset by it, nor am I surprised. But I did have that moment where I thought, “Wow. Yeah, that actually happened.” See, you hear about it happening – and then it actually happens to you. I consider my friends to be my friends, and still love spending time together and sharing experiences when we can. But things are different, and it’s okay.

3. I saved money. So, rent is due today, and I’ve had the kind of week where I’ve been putting off looking at my checking account (you know the kind)… and I was actually positively surprised when I checked it this morning. Now, I’m not filthy rich by any means, but since drinking considerably less these days, my bank account has had considerably more in it, with relatively little effort.

Here’s a bonus point that goes without saying, yet ties into all of the above: I feel better overall. Right before I made the switch, I found that I was spending more Sundays in bed recovering from Saturday nights out. Monday mornings post-Sunday Funday were getting to be really taxing physically (water retention, brain function, dizziness), and emotionally (self-worth, “Why do I keep doing this to myself?”). Whenever it came time to tackle the work week, I was always unprepared. I felt like an imposter, constantly fighting the tides.

Sometimes it bothers me when people say, “Oh, I could never quit alcohol, I enjoy it too much.” I felt that way, too, except now I say, “I’ll have a club soda and juice”, or even sometimes, “….yeah, sure, I’ll have a beer.”

See, alcohol is not like air or water – we actually can live without it. When going out or hanging with friends, alcohol is no longer the default, or prerequisite. I can make the choice even when surrounded by it. I could absolutely live without alcohol – I did! – and I have a much better relationship with it as a result.

You know about a-ha moments, right? I had one recently when I was grocery shopping. The wine and spirits section is at the front of the grocery store I go to, very hard to miss. I used to buy a new bottle of vodka for the freezer when I ran out, sort of like when I ran out of toilet paper or soap. But more and more, with each visit, I found myself rarely heading to the section. It happened on its own, perhaps subconsciously. Perhaps it was time.

Sometimes I think that I’ll do it again – 30 days without drinking. But more so I think I’ll continue what I’m doing: that is, living a life that revolves around friends and family, not drink specials. I’m just looking to do and be, and all that jazz. I will have a Guinness at an Irish pub, or a glass of wine at a fancy dinner, because I know it won’t take me over anymore. It will, like my life, be about the richness of the people and the occasion, and not a routine that once took hold.