Friday, June 6, 2014

On Summer To-Do's in the City of Angels

In LA, summer never really goes away for too long.  However, the spirit of summer does disappear and fires back up for June, July, and August.  Not to mention, this place usually gifts its residents with a glorious Indian Summer while the rest of the country's populace is raking leaves in sweaters.  Regardless of the setting, all my life summers have just flown by.  I anticipate a sweaty, sweet season and hope to enjoy: 

One of my first dates 
with this guy was to an
outdoor movie,
photo by nice stranger.
Outdoor Film Screening: Cinespia @ The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Street Food Cinema hosts at USC-adjacent Exposition Park, and Eat See Hear stages screenings in various locations across the metropolis.  I have yet to formally schedule a specific time/date, but always like to fit in some picnic/movie/outdoor action--so quintessentially LA. A master list of outdoor screenings can be found HERE.

Interior courtyard at Yamashiro,
photo by author 
Barnsdall Wine Tasting: Friday Night Wine Tastings are a weekly affair at Barnsdall Park.  I don't drink much so wine tastings are just my speed.  Silverlake Wine provides the libations--tickets are $25 dollars including a wine glass.  All proceeds benefit the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation through which Angelenos can take really affordable art classes.  Close friends learned ceramics for 5 weeks for about $60.00 (unheard of)! Also, the event occurs on the lawn of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House. 

Yamashiro Farmers' Market: Every Thursday evening (5-9 pm) the picturesque Yamashiro Hollywood hosts a Farmer's Market high in the Hollywood Hills.  Parking is usually hectic, so I like to Metro to Hollywood/Highland and walk up.  Don't forget to tour the grounds and explore the interior of the restaurant--it is a popular filming location and is rumored to be haunted.  

The Line Hotel(Dinner at Pot): I live about two blocks away and am very inspired by Korean American chef, Roy Choi. I have yet to make it to POT, but have checked out the place and am excited to strap on an apron and slurp my noodles. Maybe on one of the cooler summer nights.  Interesting article about my neighborhood and the Line HERE. 

Morning light in Ojai,
photo by boyfriend
Day trip to Ojai: I aspire to wake up around 6 am on a Sunday when I have nothing planned, hop in the car, and journey up to Ojai.  I would like to grab a light bite on the drive, hike, eat a nice brunch and then browse around the small town on bike.  I am hoping to go towards the end of June for this event at one of my favorite shops--Summer Camp

Monday, May 5, 2014

On Shopping Small

Every 6 months, I highly anticipate a weekend long event called UNIQUE LA.  350 selected designers and artists are housed in the California Market Center Penthouse for 2 days of shopping, tunes, raffles, sample snacks, and hangs with talented entrepreneurs.  All the products featured at the event are handcrafted in small batches and Made in the USA.  The shopping experience is a personal one--many samples are given and the designer is usually on hand to answer questions or explain their product.  Sonja Rasula created UNIQUE LA in 2008, to learn more CLICK HERE.  

Since moving to LA in 2011, I have been to several of the bi-annual shows.I always leave with a cool tote bag (giveaway at the door), handfuls of Luna Bars (given as free samples), a stack of business cards, gifts for special people in my life, and creative ideas for projects of my own.  I was so inspired by yesterday's show, I stopped by a pile of rubbish in my neighborhood and loaded some scrap wood into my trunk this morning--what becomes of it will be blogged about.  

For now, here is a list of some of my favorite vendors from the Spring Show, a brief description of their goods, and a link to their website:

Pommes Frites Candle Co- Soy candles handpoured in DTLA.  I am very sensitive to scent (re: upon entering Yankee Candle Co. and/or Bath and Bodyworks I contract a massive headache) and P.F. Candles are a delight. (Get it de-light!) They are not overly odoriferous, but pleasant.  I currently burn their Jasmine & Fig.  The jars and the typeface of the labels are small details that draw me to this particular product.  (Oh, and pommes frites is French for French fry!--what's not to love!)

Treeline Woodworks- Reclaimed wood = all the more reason to go through other peoples' trash! Treeline is LA based and their Skyline Hangar (pictured left) is something worth saving for. 

Hedley & Bennett- When I am not working, working out somewhere outside, or sleeping--I am in my kitchen.  I love to cook and love all things that involve cooking so it is no wonder that I love aprons, but I don't love the frilly housewife, lacey concept most people have of aprons.  I want something stylish, androgynous, and of industrial strength.  Hedley & Bennett--thank you, you've done it!

PEI Designs- I love papergoods--prints, cards, small notebooks, anything of that genre.  I am one of the few people of my generation that still uses stationary and hand-writes letters.  The other few people of my generation that also still use stationary and hand-write letters are my friends writing ME letters.  I picked up a few cards (Mother's Day is upon us!) from this delightful booth and I still have my eyes on this adorable, trรจs Parisienne print.  

Ellsworth & Ivey As my late twenties set in, I find myself gravitating to what one would call a "classic style".  Most things in my closet are neutral colors--blacks, whites, and tans with the occasional navy, gray, or red pieces.  I now think maturely in terms of quality vs quantity when I shop--I don't need a lot of clothes, but few high quality, well crafted pieces. I think one of the capes from Ellsworth & Ivey needs to make a closet debut.  The founder, Taylor Ivey, seems to have some roots in Litchfield County, Connecticut which is where I am from.  (Cue children singing, "It's a small world after all.)

Shopping small is such a meaningful experience.  It makes me proud to own products and give gifts that were made by a hard-working individuals, especially when I have met them.  There is a story (usually heartwarming) behind every booth that makes it to a UNIQUE LA market.  I can't help but leave the event with a huge smile on my face.  Just wondering, when was the last time you left the Glendale Galleria/Grove/Americana {insert shopping mall name here} grinning ear to ear?  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On Morning Magic

Photo by Nancy Dushkin
LA is a hectic city to call home. I find mornings to be the best time to steal away a few quiet moments before the madness of the day begins.  I experience most of my quiet moments at Griffith Park right when the sun is coming up.  During the week, I usually get there by 6 am.  Sometimes I am alone and sometimes with my boyfriend.  We run the winds and twists upward while experiencing the first light of the day.  The sunrise can be muted hues of sooty pastels or blindingly bright, but it is always magnificent.  

You see, running is my antidote to all bad things of life--fatigue, stress, too much candy, too many grad school student loans, too much sitting at the office.  I collect my thoughts when I run and I let them go.  

Running for MAC and me has, at times, become a social experience.  People that we see everyday begin to expect us at Griffith slogging up the hill.  If I am solo, they ask me where my partner is.  Little by little the procession of people we pass along our grand ascent has begun to be a part of our mornings. They say hi.  They pump their fists.  They encourage us, "go, go, go!" We are now implanted in each other's morning schedules.  I know where to expect them on the morning route--I use other people to gauge whether I am running late or cruising ahead of schedule.  We depend on each other and it is really something so simple and so nice.  Positive salutations in the midst of solitude. I tell you, mornings in LA are truly magic and I hope to see you out there.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On the Quotidian

I highly recommend the Caprese.
I try to leave the office for lunch every single day.  I like to talk a walk, find a sunny, clean, grassy spot, and take a little break from the du rigueur of being a young professional.  My moment of midday bliss usually involves a fresh sandwich from Bottega Louie as pictured here.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On my Home

I am about three months out from seeing family and a little bit homesick, so I wanted to post some pictures from my last trek home.  

I am was born and raised in Northwestern Connecticut in a very small town called Sharon.  It is finally beginning to thaw after a very long winter. My parents live in a very old farmhouse down a bumpy dirt road, and, yes, we have a red barn.

Growing up, I spent every waking moment possible outside.  Now when I go back, I live in my bathing suit and my running shorts and a baseball cap because my Dad always asks me to wear one (to protect my skin).  The only time I act civilized is when I take the Harlem line into the city from Wassaic.  Otherwise, I drive barefoot, leave grass in my hair, and dirt underneath my fingernails.

From my office sky-rise in Downtown LA, I romanticize about my hometown.  I bet it is probably a blustery, cold day of freezing rain, but in my fondest memories Sharon is lush and bright and pristine and it will always be home to me.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

On Movies, Mickey, and Jim Calhoun

Enchanting imagery from Wes Anderson, per usual
I am always excited for the weekend. Who isn't?! This weekend they are calling for temps in the 60's and 70's.  I call that brisk--considering temperatures were in the upper eighties last weekend! I am looking forward to balancing being active with some cozy, relaxing activities.  

Here are some of the highlights: 

This weekend the babe and I are going to see Wes Anderson's newest--The Grand Budapest Hotel .  I have heard nothing but good things.  I actually won two free tickets off the radio (Thanks KCRW!) so the film carries with it some good luck.  I loved his latest, Moonrise Kingdom

Mickey and me 
I plan to vintage hunt in Magnolia Park (a designation within Burbank), which was recently featured in LA Mag: here.  The vintage places are numerous and include: SwiftPlay Clothes, the Bearded Lady, and 33 Rooms. The most recent vintage addition to my wardrobe is an old Mickey sweatshirt--gifted to me (thanks and much love MAC).  

Otherwise, the weekend plans include the usual morning hikes, C&C, a boxing class at City of Angels (post about COA to come soon), homemade brunch and a trip to the Farmer's Market.  I also hope to send out a "Spring has Sprung" package for my parents.  Snow is still on the ground back home and the winter has been brutal so I hope to send them a little care package from LA that is uplifting. I usually run to Olvera Street for brightly colored gifts that remind them of their times together in Latin America (my parents met in Mexico)

Jim Calhoun, circa 2004. He's the man and once ate
one of my mom's cookies!

I cannot end this post without mentioning March Madness.  College basketball is my favorite sport to spectate.  Having gone to UConn for undergrad, as a freshman I experienced both the women's and the men's team winning the championship (and therefore mass riots on campus,as seen here, I dunno college kids are weird and violent), had season tickets, and went to class alongside or close proximity to Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordan, Rudy Gay, and Charlie Villanueva. To keep my many, many college basketball memories alive (btw, so happy DUKE lost!) I always fill out a bracket and take part in some friendly annual betting.  This year what is on the line is a weekend getaway.  I am the front-runner so seems like yours truly is going on vacation! 

Anyways, it's Friday fools. Have fun out there!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On What it Means to be Irish

Leprechauns making Irish Coffee
My Dad's side of the family is Irish, which actually means that well-- EVERYONE on his side of the family is Irish.  The Mullen family didn't stray too far from their baile (means home) even after coming to America many, many years ago.  I swear some of them are still accented--how after hundreds of year in America? I do not know!  
From my understanding, the MacMullen's came to the USA via Ellis Island from Cork County, Ireland before the Civil War.  It was upon our arrival that our family name was shortened to Mullen so that people in New York might mistake us for the more established and better liked Italians.    
My great-great-great (maybe one more great) grandfather fought in an Irish infantry during the Civil War and was honorably discharged by President Lincoln after getting shot in the throat.  There are some papers floating around with Lincoln's signature next to my G-G-G grandfather's signature.  I think one of my responsible Aunts donated those documents to a museum.  After literally dodging the bullet and the war, the Mullen family ended up in working class Pennsylvania and well . . . . . worked. . . . and acted Irish. . . and drank and had dry senses of humor and children and so forth.  
I notice remnants of the Gaelic ancestry in my aunts and uncles and noticed them magnified in my Grandma Mullen when she was still alive.  I remember there was the family crest hanging above her doorway--noble with the right dosage of plaids and knights and swords. Being Irish Catholic, my Grandma Mullen had more rosaries than I could count and many hanging by her bedside.  Crucifixes were a common interior fixture even though they are scary when looked at and aren't really the most uplifting decoration (no offense).  The women of the family all have a Claddagh ring--which not only symbolizes their heritage, but also their availability.  
With St Patrick's Day recently behind us, I recently thought about my family heritage a little bit and to sum it up: Green beer and "kiss me, I am Irish" tee shirts, and really, really drunk people do absolutely nothing for me, but the sound of Irish bag pipes, Firemen dressed in Kilts, and step dancers awaken something deep in my soul.  I am proud to be a part of Irish-American diaspora. Aw yes, and freckles, thanks to my Irishness, I have freckles.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

On #selfies and Hashtags and Followers and Blogs

I have always been conflicted with writing a blog.  During graduate school at USC, I loved it when I started ShishBoomBang because I was new to Los Angeles and needed a vehicle to journal my adventures.  I also needed an efficient way to keep in touch with my friends and family as well as track the places that I visited and the places that I wanted to check out.  Rather than write 20+ personal emails while working as a full-time student, I just sent my kinfolk a link (how sweet of me).  Now, I am more-or-less back to the occasional and much more intimate snail mail.  

In the past year or so, I have got to wondering, are blogs egomaniacal?  They are the #selfie of a journal. Have social media applications like Facebook and Instagram made it ok for us to track and post our every move, our every meal, our every outfit?  Will our kids look back on technology circa 2014 and ask us "What were you thinking, you crazed self-centered beings?"

The thing is, even though the Internet is saturated with first person narrative.  WE, as a collective, care.  We care about the I, me's, and mine's of other people.  We follow. We like. We share. We tag. We hashtag.  When we could just opt out from the smart phone culture of today, we don't.  At all, ever. 

Some bloggers that I follow get upwards of 25K likes per photo they post within minutes of posting.  That's a whole lotta #instalove.  Do blogs actually benefit their readers or do they just glorify the author? or both? I think both. That's why I am here contributing to the blogosphere and posting a selfie. #happymonday

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On Coffee & Croissants

At Alfred, where the coffee sleeves are
illustrated with mustaches. 
My boyfriend and I have gotten in the habit of waking up leisurely on Sunday mornings and going out for coffee and pastries.  We usually grab the paper and sit for an extended amount of time over mugs full of cafe au lait and whatever sweet, flaky morsel we can get our hands on.  We people watch and read the newspaper and browse social media before hitting the hills for a hike/run.  
One of our newly discovered places is Alfred Coffee on Melrose Place.  This past Sunday was the LA Marathon so rather than hop in the car we biked over via Hancock Park.  I love browsing the city on a bicycle.   
Our other favorite stops for morning coffee and viennoiserie are: 

 Le Pain Quotidien-- We go to the one in Larchmont since their Sunday Farmers Market is my favorite. Really good coffee, though not so
swoon-worthy croissants.  
Cubed sugar the French way at Le Figaro

Le Figaro Bistrot -- We go to the original location in Vermont Village at the foothills of Griffith Park in Los Feliz.  There is a newsstand adjacent to the cafe, which is perfect.  The outdoor seating is hard to come by, but certainly coveted.  

Urth Caffe-- We have yet to go in the morning together, but from past experience this cafe is perfect for a quick pastry and coffee. Their coffee cake is delish and I am a sucker for their green tea muffin.  However, they don't know how to spell Earth or Cafe very well! (kidding)

and finally 

Window displayed at our regular spot,
Trails Cafe 
Trails Cafe-- Boy and I are here just about every single weekend.  This article in the Selby captures its essence: Everytime I have a visitor from out of town we end up here.  I recommend getting there early--the line can get pretty long, but it's worth a wait. 

Photos by: author

On Making a Comeback to the Blogosphere

It has been about a year since I last wrote a blog post.  Where have I been, you ask? I am stilling living in and loving Los Angeles.  Since my last Shish Boom Bang entry, I have fallen in love, discovered a boxing gym, continued running, continued working as an urban planner, and continued to explore the city and eat/cook delicious food.  A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. 

I need a creative outlet in addition to working a 9-to-5 and a rigorous workout schedule.  An Instagram account is not enough (my handle is: bljss) so I am back to the blog. Enjoy!