This weekend I took the train up to L.A. to visit one of my best girlfriends, and since she lives on the west side, we decided to use the train station’s downtown location to explore somewhere far east of the 405. We chose Silverlake, and it was a breath of fresh air to be far away from the glitz, ritz and overall sceney vibe I’ve found in places like West Hollywood and Santa Monica.
If you find yourself in L.A., step into the cool little enclave of Silverlake for well-edited boutiques and awesome food choices. Here are some picks:
When we went backpacking for a year, one of my main concerns was that I wouldn’t be able to slather on body lotion post shower. I’m a skincare freak. I’m obsessed with face scrubs, diligent about washing my face before bed and you’d better believe SPF is no joke to me.
Remember how I recently found out my beloved Neutrogena Sheer-Touch isn’t as great as we think? And remember how I recently blogged about wanting to use a skincare routine to achieve some calm? Around the same time, I also heard about Beautycounter, a new L.A.-based skincare brand that’s committed to responsible, healthy and safe skincare products. Here’s a little food for thought: 1300 chemical ingredients are banned in the European Union; 11 are banned in the U.S.
For their part, Beautycounter prescribes to a Never List, a lengthy list of harmful ingredients that you’ll never find in their products — obvious ones like parabens and phthalates as well as not-so-obvious ingredients like mineral oil, which sounds totally fine, right? (Mineral oil is actually a by-product of petroleum distillation that can cause contact dermatitis. Yikes!)
Here are a few of my favorite (Beauty Counter) things:
I don’t know why I bother buying Teddy stuffed animals when he rips them to shreds. To be fair, I only buy his toys at Ross or T.J. Maxx so they’re much cheaper and he’s painfully adorable when he first meets his new toy, but this particular one lasted one day before Teddy ripped an ear off. On Sunday, he ripped the other ear off. Poor blue pup.
Two weeks after this, I was back in L.A. This time, I headed over with two new San Diego girlfriends, Jessica and Conni, to hit up a West Elm/Etsy event hosted by the hilarious, self-effacing and talented Emily Henderson, interior designer and star of HGTV’s Secrets From a Stylist. But what started as a visit to the event turned into a full-blown foodie girls weekend.
Now, I’m more a low-key, off-the-grid kind of traveler/diner, but every now and again, I like to splash out and try buzzed about places to see, well, what the buzz is about. This getaway was a splurge, but I took it as an opportunity to eat at some places on my Life List (a less gruesome way to say the Before I Die list), and once I got past the very L.A. crowds at these places, I could appreciate the great food and even better decor. (But I gotta say, every trendy restaurant in L.A. is obsessed with the same black stools. What gives?)
I ate. I window-shopped. I waited in line for scene-y brunch spots. And I took notes. Take a look at the 8 simple steps to a trendy, seen-to-be-seen kind of L.A. visit.
Step 1: Fancy brunch. We started the weekend not by checking into our hotel, but by settling into the beautiful interiors of Laurel Hardware, a former hardware store that’s been converted into an industrial-styled restaurant. I just about died over that wallpaper and light fixture. And then I died when I saw Rosie Perez in the restaurant because girl is awesome. And then I died over my fruit scone, which was more like a warm toasted biscuit topped with berries and clotted cream. It was delicious so long as you’re OK with dessert for breakfast. And why wouldn’t you be?
Here we are again — mighty quickly I might add — the end of another month. And since I don’t post on Thursdays (tomorrow is the real last day of February), you know what that means? A video recap! This month starts with a hike in Cuyamaca and apple pie in Julian and goes on to…show you how much I eat. Seriously though, if I were a stranger watching this video, I would think all Archana does is hike and eat, which I guess is actually a good combination.
But there’s more: the beautiful architecture in Balboa Park, seeing friends in L.A., showing my friend Katy around Coronado, La Jolla Shores (sea lions!), and the microbreweries, and hiking up Cowles Mountain, which clocks in as the highest point in San Diego.
You know that movie 2 Days in Paris? Or 2 Days in New York? Well this is the photo diary of less than 24 hours in L.A. We were there this past Saturday to visit a friend I’ve known since the diaper era, and I can’t quite articulate how amazing it is to see such a good friend after going through all the newness of moving, but let’s just say, it was SO FUN. Eaman and I have also been working particularly hard lately, so it was awesome to get away and get a bit silly.
I’ve been to L.A. before and back then I ventured to a lot of neighborhoods on my own out of traveler’s/food lover’s curiosity. This time we headed to previously uncharted territory: Venice, where we walked up and down the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard, checking out the boutiques and trying not to bore the boys in the group. We also managed to squeeze in a view of Santa Monica beach before driving out to West Hollywood for Mexican food. It was such a great change of pace to be in the thick of things again in a big city. The fashion was riskier, the crowd was more diverse and the restaurant patios were spilling over with drunk twentysomethings. Ah, just like New York — with palm trees.
Check out the rest of the snaps from my L.A. diary after the jump. It’s a lovely one-day itinerary if I do say so myself.