Project Adventure: Remembering Africa

It's been about a year and a half since Mom and I went on our once-in-a-lifetime trip through Africa. Sometimes I think about it and it feels like we just came home last week, other times it feels like a surreal dream from a million years ago. So many different places, so many different cultures & traditions. 

We visited: Morocco, Western Sahara, Senegal, The Gambia (yes, they really put "The" in there), Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Kenya.

People ask me which, of all the countries we visited was my favorite? Honestly, all of them were my favorite. There were so many amazing things (and many not so amazing things) about each place that they are, truly special in their own way. It may sound cheesy, but it's the truth.

I'd love to go back to those places and visit more, for a longer period of time - but then I think of all the other amazing countries in Africa that I haven't seen, and my internal travel bug goes pitter-pat. What fun would it be to see more of the incredible continent that is Africa! Wish I could live to 200 years old and win the lottery every year so I could keep going back again and again.

This world is just incredible. Go out exploring!

All photos in this post are my own. Please do not use without my express written permission.

Project Adventure: Flowers with DLF + Moon Canyon

This Saturday my sis-in-law and I attended a super fun flower arranging workshop by Kristen of Moon Canyon hosted by the lovely Bri of DesignLoveFest. It was held at The Unique Space in the Arts District near downtown LA. Such an amazing space. It's full of office/studio/event spaces, each one of them decorated with beauty, style and lots of personality. I highly recommend checking it out if you ever get the opportunity. Seriously awesome instagramming ops.  (warning: parking sucks!)

Our day was tons o' fun - Kristen and her team were very helpful and super nice. The inspiration for the class was late summer roadside flowers: soft browns, beiges & creams. It's interesting to see that despite everyone getting the same kind & amount of flowers, the difference between all the final outcomes. It's like everyone has their own flower fingerprint. Hee hee.

This one's mine. I kinda like it. {silly winky-smily face emoji}

Flowers we used: 'Autumn' sunflower, 'cafe au lait' dahlia, amaranth, millet, geranium leaves, chocolate cosmos (that smell just like chocolate!), rudbeckia (although, might have been helianthus), plains coreopsis, raspberry, white clover, ranunculus and silver explosion grass. Everyone's gotta check out the dlfworkshops - I've got my eye on the calligraphy class! 

PS. Check out The Unique Space's amaze-balls bathroom that I'm totally swooning over. Check out the Apartment Therapy tour of the space with it's creator and decorator, Sonja Rsaula and be prepared to turn green with envy.

Mom's Garden: Bees!

This post has been about a year in the making. We've gotten to a point where, I think I can share it with all of you... Mom's Garden has bees! (although, I think maybe this should be filed under Project Adventure... ) 
Mom has been obsessing over bees for a long, long time. It's like her totem animal or something. I remember when I was about 6, watching Mom pet honey bees while they were busy working on the roses. Yes, I just said petting. "They're totally harmless, hon. They're too focused on collecting pollen to worry about what I'm doing." She'd even pet the big black carpenter bees and the super fuzzy striped bumblebees. With her finger outstretched and a serene zen-like expression on her face, petting the back of a bee while it had it's face buried in flower... this was my experience with bees. My friends were usually hysterical at the sight of one. They always thought I was nuts whenever a bee landed on someone's shoulder or blanket, I'd pick it up barehanded and toss it toward the flowers. What else would I do? That's what I knew. My grandfather had several bee hives when Mom was growing up. I even remember the white boxes stacked up in my grandparents backyard... so, maybe it's a family thing.

Mom has been dreaming of having her very own hive for who knows how long. She's been reading about them and befriending Backwards Beekeepers to learn all she can about keeping them and how to "acquire" a hive. About a year ago, low and behold, a hive swarmed into an empty wooden box in her back yard! It was late in the summer, so we decided to leave it there so it could establish itself (you don't really want to move a hive in the wintertime because added stress is hard on them when there's not a lot of food around). Meanwhile, Mom voraciously read up on beekeeping for real. The hive was there for over a year. The time came when we were ready to transfer the hive into a proper bee box. Then, literally 2 days before we were going to transfer the hive, it left (or, as beekeepers call it, absconded)! We were pretty bummed. As luck would have it, that very same weekend, someone dumped a swarm into a cardboard box at the end of our street. Victory!

Good thing we had prepared a bee box, so it was all ready and waiting for the new hive. {more on the DIY project later} Normally, what you do with a new hive is cut the comb into big pieces and tie or rubber band them into frames that slide into the bee box. We couldn't do that. These bees had twisted themselves up in a tight ball in a bamboo bush, so there wasn't much to work with. So with a little help from Backwards Beekeeper David, we decided to just give them room to make their own comb, then rearrange it later, once they were more settled.
So, we've had a hive chillin' in the backyard for about 6 months now. It's pretty cool. 
Here's me and Mom looking pretty happy with ourselves after adding a second box on top of the original (that came later). More on harvesting our first bits of honey later on!

Project Adventure: Google's Field Trip

Today marks, officially, the first time I've been jealous of Android phones. I just learned of something called Field Trip. Developed by the folks at Google, it's exactly what I was trying to express in my first ever post in Project Adventure; go out and explore all the cool things around you. Field Trip is an app that runs in the background of your phone and pops up nifty insights about where you are at that moment.

All you Android people out there, install this and let me know how it is! They say they are working on an iOS version - lets hope it comes out sooner rather than later!
Check out the promo video below - makes me not want to go back to work, like, ever.


Project Adventure: Outstanding in the Field

This Sunday was an amazingly beautiful day. My family and I were lucky enough to enjoy it up in Los Olivos/Solvang area with Jim Denevan & the folks of Outstanding in the Field. If you've never heard of Outstanding and are into good food and unique experiences, you'd better check them out, pronto. And, if you've been dying to go for years, you should bite the bullet and go already.
This is our third event, and by far the best one. Our table was nestled in the hills and amongst the vines of Stolpman Vineyard near Los Olivos. Most of the produce was harvested or caught within 24 hours of being on our plates, so naturally it was super fresh and all the flavors were completely amazing. The menu was dreamt up by Rich Mead, head chef of Sage Restaurant, Paddy Glennon and some of the crew from the Culinary Liberation Front {super cool name, btw}. We also were treated to hearing from a couple of farms where our food originated.

Such an awesome experience, I encourage all of you to save up your money and try to attend one of these events at least once in your life.

We even got to see the uber spectacular eclipse!


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Project Adventure/Mom's Garden: Baby Shower

A couple months ago, my friend Jin and I embarked upon the time-honored tradition of planning and hosting a Baby Shower. It was very lucky that Jin & I have a similar taste in decorating ideas, otherwise, things could have been a total disaster. We planned and plotted our strategy via the perfect vehicle for creative inspiration, Pinterest. We scrambled and sorted until things were just right, picked and positioned the best from Mom's Garden, crafted and created all we had imagined. Saturday was finally the day. 
I have to say, I think it turned out perfectly.
The super cool and effervescent Kara, of Mi & Mo Photography was there and captured the most gorgeous shots anywhere. Man, she made it look so professional, it's hard to believe that it was ours! Those kind of images just make you all dreamy-eyed with endless party decor possibilities. She even did a blog post on it, if you'd like to take a look at the awesome pictures.

One things for sure: hosting parties of any kind are a heck of a lot of work, but man, are they fun.


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Project Adventure: NYC

Ask anyone you know, who has lived in New York for years and then moved away, it leaves a hole in your heart. Provided, of course, you left The City on good terms. The hole is different for everyone, but nonetheless, it is still there. A void, a something missing. I knew that in moving to the West Coast (a whopping year & 7 months ago), NYC would always haunt me. I was prepared to go back east to get my Big-Apple-fix as often as I had to, in order to feel right. And yet, somehow I still feel somewhat disconnected. There is something to be said about being in the city and feeling it's heartbeat, it's everyday ebb and flow. One day: monotony, the next: scandal! One day: pure frustration, the next: unfettered awe. It did that for me in my years of becoming a New Yorker, the love and the hate. And yet, California never left me. Bodega owners would pause, their hand outstretched with my change, and say to me with appreciation, "You're not from here, originally, are you." It wasn't a question. They just knew.

So, what am I getting at? I supposed I'm trying to explain the unique otherness of New York. People either love it, or they hate it. For some, it's hard to find that middle ground. It took me a while to fully appreciate it, and at times, I took it for granted. Not anymore, I tell you. Not ever again.
Like a silly cliché or a junkie in need of a fix, I'll keep coming back for more because I know She will always have something for me, whatever that something is.


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Project Adventure/Bake: Carmela Ice Cream

This post is kind of a dual Adventure-slash-bake project. I am an uber fan of Carmela Ice Cream here in Pasadena. And, I mean uber. In my dreams I have one of each flavor in my freezer at all times. Especially the Fleur De Sel flavor. Ohhh, man. Not only are they at a few farmer's markets in the LA area, they also have a brick-and-morter shop not too far from me.
One day, I received a notice that they were starting ice cream classes! ...Bestill my beating heart... I called up a friend and relayed the amazing news. Next thing we knew we were sitting in the shop's kitchen learning all about infusions. Too cool.
Our class was focused on creating Brown Butter Sage Ice Cream and Cranberry Orange Thyme Sorbet. Needless to say, the class was fun and informative. Carmela founders, Jessica and Zach are obviously very passionate and excited about what they are doing, and it's easy to get caught up in the many ice cream possibilities. 
As a side note: did you know that KitchenAid makes an ice cream maker attachment!?! Oh, that is so going on my wishlist.
Fun times were had by all and I know that I'm going back for more. 
Thanks Carmela for an awesome morning!

Project Adventure | The Backyard

So, I recently found this really cool iPhone app called Pano {on sale for half-off!}. It lets you take photos in succession and then automatically stitches them together. So easy.  So, I thought I'd share this awesome photo from last night. {No, I'm not trying to make any of you in 30 degree weather jealous. Well, maybe a little.}
click the image for a larger view

Project Adventure | Huntington Dog Beach

This edition of Project Adventure is dedicated to a great little place down here in Orange County. 
Dog Beach, a couple miles above Main St Huntington Beach. Mom, Dad and I took a trip out there with Zoe, their yellow lab. She loves it, when we get close, Zoe sticks her nose out the window and wags her tail in anticipation.
If you have a pooch {or two, or three} you can guarantee that they are going to LOVE Dog Beach. Heck, even if you don't have a dog, you'll love it.
A mile-long stretch of beach located between 21st and Seapoint Streets. Where dogs can run around off-leash and jump around in the waves. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends {especially in the summer}, so it's a bit nicer early in the morning if you like it mellow. Like, 7:00am early. If you do get caught in the crowd, be sure your dog is mild-tempered because puppies can get pretty carried away with all the euphoria. But, guaranteed, your canine will be tuckered out when you get home!
Be sure to put a couple towels in the car to wipe paws off afterward... unless you enjoy having sand all over the back seat.

Bring your surfer friend too, because the waves here are pretty decent {from what I've heard}. There are always guys and gals out there having a good time.

Project Adventure: LA Flower Mart

Round about this time of year, Mom & Dad venture out to Downtown LA to get tons & tons of poinsettias to decorate for the holidays. Every year Mom invites me to go, but inevitably I don't because getting up at 5am never, ever, sounds like a good idea. This year I agreed to go one day because, hey, it may be early but how can I resist warehouses full of flowers?
 I didn't know this, but apparently the LA Flower District has been around for almost 100 years! It is also the largest flower district in the country! Wow! Back in the 1900's, local flower growers used to drive their horse-drawn carts downtown to sell at the product market. Can you imagine heaps of flowers on a horse-drawn carriage? So cool. Can you imagine what time they had to get up in the morning?
Find out more here

Afternoon on the Moon

Today is one of those days out of the year when we get crazy winds that last all day. They create clouds of sand and dust that float over PCH. They erase footprints & smooth out the sand into perfect ribbon patterns. Feels like you're on the moon... a sand-colored moon... or, maybe the Arabian Desert. Anyway. It's cool.

New Views

I'm finally getting a bit more settled out here on the West Coast. I've relocated to Orange County and despite the fact that it has been rainy, it's pretty awesome. 
I'm super excited to get my life going out here, but it's a bit strange after living in NYC for 8 years {all the space! No carrying groceries 5 blocks!}
I'm excited but a bit anxious. I know it'll all pan out well in time.
PS. The photo above is my first sunset at my new place. No color correcting. None. Not kidding.

Project Adventure: Road Trip Vol. 2

Things I learned on this road trip:
1) Extra pillows and free breakfast (even powdered eggs) makes all the difference.
2) Mall of America isn't as big as expected. Go early in the morning, it'll seem smaller.
3) It's not a rumor, people in the middle of the country actually do prefer to watch Fox News.
4) Unless you're a parched, dehydrated and shriveled traveller, Wall Drug's free water tastes disgusting. 
5) Standing underneath Niagara Falls is like getting an amazing deep-tissue massage.


Project Adventure: Road Trip Vol. 1

I apologize for not posting in some time... as most of you know {probably all of you, since I doubt I have any strangers reading this blog} I have relocated from The Big Apple to La La Land. Moms and I made a fabulous road trip adventure out of it. {if you want to see the map of our trip, click here}
I'll be doing a few postings from the Great Adventure: Cross Country. Over the 11 days and 4200 miles traveled, there were lots of little stops along the way, it would take me 10 posts to get through it all... so, I'm doing a sampling of a few.
I have to say, if you are a fan of road trips, you have to go cross-country at least once... well, maybe twice. You have to experience both the "northern route" and the "southern route". Totally different samplings of the good 'ol US of A. {I have to warn you tho' Texas and northern Nevada is suuuuuper boring}
Hello! How adorable is this photo of Moms getting pummeled by Niagara Falls?!?

While we were in Cleveland, we just had to stop by the house where they filmed A Christmas Story.

Just outside of Chicago is Frank L. Wright's Home & Studio. Breathtaking if you love his work.

Project Adventure: My Backyard

Yesterday I went out around my neighborhood to find a couple of the Pianos that are in my area as a part of an art project called "Play Me I'm Yours". It was a beautiful evening, so I brought my fancy-dan new camera with me to experiment! {I love birthdays. Thanks Mom & Dad!}
It was such an utterly wonderful sunset and big-white-puffy-cloud-lighted moment! Thought I'd share a few cool photos from my afternoon.

Project Adventure: New York - Tea Time

A new addition to My Life Eclectic is the Project Adventure. It came from the idea of the Bucket List. I decided it's not one of those "before I die..." things, it's more of something to get me out doing things around the city that I wouldn't do in my everyday life. So, I've compiled a list {that keeps growing} of things that I've always wanted to do/see in and around New York. Most of which are a one-time thing because of cost, time, or location, but just to be able to say I did it... and I've never regretted it.
One thing on that list is to have High Tea at the Plaza. I was lucky enough to venture there with my mom and some close friends for my birthday this year! So amazing, if you live in the city or get to visit, set aside some time {and money - read: not cheap} and experience this for yourself. Just once. Just to say you did it. You won't regret it.