Food

Food, Los Angeles CA, Travel

How to do Catalina Island like a native

Avalon  Harbor, Catalina Island. Boats, paddle boarders and swimmers abound!

Avalon Harbor, Catalina Island. Boats, paddle boarders and swimmers abound!

This summer I'm all about weekend trips and short getaways.   My next door neighbor, now friend, grew up on Catalina, and invited me home with her to experience another side to the island. Previously, I had only thought of it as a summer tourist destination or for sleep away camp.  I hadn't visited Catalina Island since ninth grade on a sleep away trip with high school and my husband and son had never been so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Catalina Express  ferry from Long Beach, CA to Avalon, Catalina

Catalina Express ferry from Long Beach, CA to Avalon, Catalina

To get to Catalina, you take an hour long ferry ride from several ports in LA. The closest one for us was Long Beach so we departed from there on a Friday afternoon. Cars are restricted on Catalina, with a wait list as long as 20 years +!  So the ferry is only for people and dogs (either caged or in muzzles). We took our dachshund Junior with us, he didn't love the ferry but he did pretty well overall. Once there, you can walk around the main city part of Avalon on foot or rent a golf cart or bike.

Lovely bougainvillea, quaint beach cottages, license plate birdhouses, colorful murals, proud Democrat (not too many of those on Catalina), and Casino at night on Avalon, Catalina

I had never driven a golf cart before and was surprised to find it was a blast! My son loved it too and would tell me to "Hit it!" and we would blast down the road. A golf cart's engine is similar to a lawnmower so by blast I mean when we were chugging up the hill, you could probably run alongside us.

Thierry Lasry  Sunglasses, Zara beach cover up,  Zara kids t shirt . Janna Conner  Amina hoop earrings ,  Catori cuff bracelet

Thierry Lasry Sunglasses, Zara beach cover up, Zara kids t shirt. Janna Conner Amina hoop earrings, Catori cuff bracelet

Avalon Casino, Junior the island dog, stairs at Casino Point Dive Park

One of my favorite things we did was swim at Lover's Cove. Dries had fallen asleep and Raf and I snuck out for an hour to tool around in the golf cart, exploring the city and to take a dip in the water. It's been so hot lately, it felt great! The water was a little cold at first but instantly warmed up. Catalina's rocky coastline reminded me of Sardinia where we honeymooned because it too is mostly rocky beaches. Pro tip: Don't forget the water shoes, you will want them! The current was pretty strong the weekend we were there and some of the beaches (Descanso) had sharp rocks but Lover's Cove had really smooth ones which also made them a bit slippery. My friend Katie prefers Pebbly Beach, but there was a construction site nearby to it so we opted for Lover's Cove. You be the judge!

My plastic Eva birkenstocks were no match for the rocks at Lover's Cove!

The next day we did Descanso Beach Club, which is Catalina's version of a family friendly Miami Beach. They have a DJ on the weekends, and a section that has cabanas and beach chairs for day rental and an outdoor café & bar (that will also serve on the beach), a smoothie & ice cream shop, and a shop that sells pool floaties, paddle ball racquets, hats, umbrellas and all with decent prices. The day we were there, the private section was sold out so we just sat on the public beach part, immediately adjacent to it. It was just fine, the restaurant brought us our fish tacos, fries and margies and everything was alright with the world. 

 Descanso Beach Club. Janna Conner Aleeza rock crystal ring, Catori brass cuff, 14k gold initial bracelet.

There are a lot of boats docked in the harbor and you can swim up in one section, another is reserved for kayaks, jet skis and paddle boards. Dries wanted to kayak so we rented a two person one with Dries sitting in the middle for an hour. Once he got over screaming "Oh nooooooooo, we're going to die, this was a terrrrrrrible idea!" he actually enjoyed the last 15 minutes or so. It was lovely out on the water, sunny but not too hot and with no waves.

Catalina kayaking.jpg

The next day we headed into the hills, which requires a car (no golf carts there!). We winded our way up and around, passing the zip line station that goes all the way down to Descanso and then paused for a moment to admire some bison and heron at Haypress reservoir. The bison were brought to the island in the 1920's for a movie, but were never used and then left on the island because they didn't want to deal with taking them back. Not very nice. Now they casually wander the island. We saw one just chilling on the side of the road, minding his own business.

Catalina island bison.jpeg

We stopped at the Airport for lunch at DC-3 café and gift shop. It's very scenic high up with all the little planes flying in and out. Some of the famous pilots that have flown in include Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford. It's not for the weak of heart, the runway is only 3000 feet! I think I'll stick to driving up for the food, I had a great salad and Raf had a buffalo burger. No meal is complete without one of their killer homemade cookies, the oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip are delicious. They also sell Rusack wine, wish I had a bought a bottle because it seemed a good price at $30 since Rusack isn't that easy to find, at least in LA. I didn't though because we were on our way to do the Trans Catalina trail and didn't think it was a great idea to keep the wine in the car. Oh well, next time!

Airport in the Sky, Catalina Island

With full bellies, we continued on our way to Little Harbor, the starting point for our afternoon hike along the Trans Catalina Trail. Little Harbor was largely deserted except for a few campers, (there's a nearby campground) it was perfectly peaceful. The Trans Catalina Trail stretches 37.2 miles across the island, seemingly never ending but we did just a portion of it since we had Dries and Junior, our mini dachshund with us and we wanted to get some beach time in. It wasn't difficult, and provided lovely vistas along the soapstone path with striking red flowers.

Trans Catalina Trail from Little Harbor and Whale's Tail Catalina Island.  Unusual red flowers everywhere along with cacti.

Catalina makes for a great weekend trip, or longer. They have great camps for kids and many scenic options for both the casual traveler and camping options for the outdoorsman. Now that I've done part of the TCT, I think I would like to try doing the whole trail!

Food

My Must Have's for 4th of July

This year the 4th falls on a Tuesday so it's a particularly long weekend.  That means lots of bbqs, parties and socializing with friends. I've been watching my calories lately, trying to lose the last of my baby weight and I've switched it up from my usual wine to tequila. The reason why is that tequila has fewer calories (64 per ounce), is naturally sweet (since it comes from agave) and has a lower glycemic impact and no hangover! This makes it one of the healthiest options for alcohol around. I usually drink mine with a few limes squeezed and a dash of sparkling water but for the holiday weekend I may splurge and throw in a splash of fresh squeezed grapefruit!

The Paloma

Picture by Sam Linsell (Drizzle & Dips)

Picture by Sam Linsell (Drizzle & Dips)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces of reposado tequila (or a good quality blanco)
  • juice of half a ruby grapefruit
  • 0.5 ounces of agave syrup or simple syrup
  • 2.5 ounces of club soda
  • a dash of fresh lime juice (optional)
  • Ice cubes

 

Instructions

  • Mix the grapefruit juice, tequila and agave syrup until well mixed.
  • Pour over a tall glass filled with ice and top with soda water.

 

Options

  • Add a dash of lime juice
  • Rim the glass with salt
  • Leave the sugar out, it won't be sweet but it's still delicious!

What do I intend to be doing this weekend whilst sipping my tequila you ask? I grew up in Manhattan Beach and my parents still live there so summer weekends often include a little beach time. I like to keep things simple when beach bound. My favorite accessories I'll be rocking will definitely include some festive shades of blue!

I first learned about Teixits Vicens from a friend of mine who has a vacation home in Mallorca, Spain. I've never been to Mallorca, (or Spain for that matter) but am dying to go. Teixits Vicens is a family owned and operated textile company that hails back all the way to 1854! They use all natural fibers like cotton and linen and they make all their patterns in house. There are so many beautiful colors and designs to choose from it's hard to pick just one. I ultimately chose the Petate beach bag in blue ikat. It's huge and fits everything (I"m a bit of a pack rat, I like to be prepared for anything) They also make home accessories, clothing, shoes and bags even chairs. In this day and age when it's increasingly difficult to find items that are not mass produced, it's so special to find something unique and hand made.

Anyone who is familiar with my jewelry line, knows I LOVE lapis. I love it's rich vivid blue hue, reminiscent of an Yves Klein painting. I use lapis a lot in my pieces, both in my fashion and fine collection. One of my favorite fashion lapis styles are these elongated Sarotte drops. I purchased these lapis stones on one of my annual trips to the Tucson Gem Show and then electroformed 18k gold on them to make a minimal bezel. I really wanted the emphasis to be on the beauty of the lapis rather than a flashy setting, which is why I often opt for a minimalist clean setting when making my jewelry.

I hope whatever you're doing this holiday weekend, you're having fun and staying safe! Cheers!

Photo with flag: Kim Myers Robertson / Trunk Archive

Travel, Food

A Day in Solvang

Solvang, California

Solvang, California

The   Landsby

My curiosity in the Landsby was piqued by an article in Travel and Leisure. It's located in Solvang, a unique little town that looks like a Danish village in the middle of California.  I visited many years back but was intrigued by the photos of the addition of the new Scandinavian chic boutique hotel.  My great grandfather was from Copenhagen, and I would love to visit there one day.  Traveling with a toddler is tricky, so for now this is a lot closer!

Dining room at  Mad + Vin  (food and wine in Danish)

Dining room at Mad + Vin (food and wine in Danish)

Janna Conner Jewelry-10.jpg

Charcuterie plate at Succulent Cafe. Hands down the best charcuterie plate I've ever had. Great selection of meats and loved the picked vegetable garnishes. They also have a great wine list, which is always important! We chose to sit outside on the patio and enjoy the nice weather. It's also conveniently located directly across the street from the Landsby.

A trip to the Santa Ynez Valley wouldn't be complete without a little wine tasting! First stop: Lucas and Llewellyn tasting room. We weren't initially familiar with their wine but decided to check it out while waiting for our room to be ready.  It was conveniently located just a block from our hotel and provided the convenience of trying great, new wines without having to make the trek to individual wineries. We had their white wine tasting, and liked their chardonnay and viognier the best. We bought a few bottles to take home and enjoy later. It's always fun to drink a wine that conjures up a memory of a great trip!

The sunlit lobby facing Mission Drive at the Landsby

The sunlit lobby facing Mission Drive at the Landsby

I love the natural wood and neutral color palette with pops of yellow. I also appreciate the unexpected detail of the tiling on the underside of the stairway.  Santa Monica design firm, Studio Collective did a great job of creating a chic yet relaxed, and understated vibe. The Scandinavian chic look is on trend for decor, because it follows not only form but function as well. It's my style of choice for my downtown LA office and personal residence.

Raf standing with  Sherry by Rachel Brown .

Raf standing with Sherry by Rachel Brown.

Tina by Rachel Brown  in the Landsby Lobby.

Tina by Rachel Brown in the Landsby Lobby.

One of my favorite design elements of the Landsby are the paintings by Rachel Brown that are in the lobby and in most rooms. She is a Misssouri native, now calling West Los Angeles home. Rachel comes from a long line of artists, both her mother and grandmother are painters and she picked it up at a young age. Growing up on a farm and being a lover of travel and adventure, one can easily see both of these influences on her work. I personally enjoy the whimsical spirit of her paintings. She even teaches workshops in the LA area,  I may have to take one myself!

    Aebleskivers at Solvang Restaurant.

    Aebleskivers at Solvang Restaurant.

After lunch we walked over to the Solvang restaurant to try Aebleskivers (jam filled pancakes in ball form) Something you have to try while in town, as it is a quintessentially Danish treat.

We had so many recommendations for food in Santa Ynez but decided for dinner to go with one that was a true favorite of local residents. We heard countless recommendations for Industrial Eats in nearby Buellton, and it did not dissappoint. It's a short drive from Solvang, and as the name attests it's located in an industrial area.   Despite it's spare surroundings, it has an inviting interior with large shared tables and the restaurant and butcher shop features food sourced from the Central Coast. We enjoyed the mussels, oysters, zucchini accented pizza and shrimp & pancetta toast. Delicious! They also offer butchering workshops if you are keen to get your hands dirty and fresh preserves, pâtés, cheese and handmade bacon to go.

Winding down after a fun filled day.  Unpacking, never leave home without my Bottega Veneta travel duffle bag or my Valextra travel jewelry pouch to house all my many jewelry options! Also, shown Janna Conner Dome cuff bangle and Arria Amazonite Beaded Necklace. I spy Sherry peeking out behind me on the wall!

 I recently cut my hair and have been using Sachajuan to enhance natural waves. The Sisley Suprema Yeux eye cream is an indulgence, love the gold packaging and that it's a pump and not a pot so keeps product fresher longer. The Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse oil is great for cuticles, body, face and I even use it on my hair. Love multi functional products since I feel like it makes me a tiny bit faster in my constant struggle against the clock.  Love how my jewelry matches the decor! Shown Janna Conner Evita Crystal Point Necklace, mother of pearl tala ring, and 14k gold ear cuff.

The King bedroom with Patio, love the Goodnight on the wall. Such a sweet touch!

The King bedroom with Patio, love the Goodnight on the wall. Such a sweet touch!

Bottega Veneta sandals, Janna Conner dome cuff &  pearl Gilda ring .

Bottega Veneta sandals, Janna Conner dome cuff & pearl Gilda ring.

Time for bed! Janna Conner  diamond ear crawler ,  diamond disc , and  pyramid stud .

Time for bed! Janna Conner diamond ear crawler, diamond disc, and pyramid stud.

What a fun day of food, wine, design and décor! I know we'll be back soon Till next time!

Los Angeles CA, Art, Food

An afternoon in Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the mural capital of the world! I love murals and think they are a great way for art to be shown on the streets of any city. Downtown LA especially has a lot of murals and graffiti, I notice new ones popping up all the time. Since they are out in the open, you can really interact with them in a different way than art in a museum. You can get close up and touch it or even take an obligatory selfie. Natural sunlight and shadow change how they look depending on the time of day and how they age with weathering. They are like living pieces interacting within their community. This was created by artist Teddy Kelly whose mantra is to "follow the bliss" which is something we can all try to live by. The bold colors, shapes and the use of line really mesh together to create something beautiful! To think this was tagged over! Thankfully it was recently restored to its original beauty.

Verve Coffee Roasters off of Spring Street.  @vervecoffee

Verve Coffee Roasters off of Spring Street. @vervecoffee

The outdoor space at  Verve Coffee Roasters .

The outdoor space at Verve Coffee Roasters.

Next stop: Verve Coffee Roasters for a little afternoon pick me up. I'm a coffee drinker through and through. I have to have it first thing in the morning; my husband can verify I'm a grouch without it! When I'm lagging in the afternoon, its aroma perks me right up. Verve originated in Santa Cruz before making its way to Los Angeles. The goal of their company is to bridge the gap from what they call "Farmlevel to Streetlevel," which provides open communication between growers and consumers. I love a hanging garden, so I especially enjoy their outdoor seating area. Besides being a cool space to hang out, they actually roast their own coffee!

Walking by the French band Wall of Death's album cover.

Walking by the French band Wall of Death's album cover.

I'm not familiar with Wall of Death, but the vibrant colors in the album cover definitely stand out to me. You can watch their video Loveland here.

The Wings by Colette Miller.   I'm wearing  Thierry Lasry  Sunglasses,  Frame Denim  jeans,  Mansur Gavriel  bucket bag,  Ba&sh  top

The Wings by Colette Miller.   I'm wearing Thierry Lasry Sunglasses, Frame Denim jeans, Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, Ba&sh top

Colette Miller created the Global Angel Wings Project in 2012 to "remind humanity that we are the Angels of this Earth."  She started painting her wings in downtown Los Angeles and has branched out to other parts of the world. This particular one was painted in 2013. I love the way the paint is cracking and beginning to show signs of age, giving it even more character. Miller has painted wings in locations including Africa, Australia, Turkey and Cuba. She even gave a TEDx talk to discuss how her Global Angel Wings Project expanded into a social phenomenon. Visit her website for more information.

One of three distinct lighting sculptures; this one really caught my eye. Love the massive arched windows!

One of three distinct lighting sculptures; this one really caught my eye. Love the massive arched windows!

Waiting for my food!

Waiting for my food!

The kitchen staging area. Love the chevron design in the wood!

The kitchen staging area. Love the chevron design in the wood!

Terroni was originally founded in Toronto, Canada, and Los Angeles houses their only American locations. The space was first used as the National City Bank in 1924 in the Historic Core District before becoming the restaurant in 2013. The building is actually 6,ooo square feet, which is huge! It was designed by Giannone Petricone Associates. They definitely embraced a more is more philosophy when building the space. There's a lot going on; chevron marble and wood cutouts, curvilinear chandeliers, varying furniture from table to table but somehow it just works. I especially love the white marble used throughout the restaurant and under the bar, cut and adhered in a chevron pattern. The play of light and shadow make the marble look like alternating bands of black and white. Same with the wood under the kitchen staging area, pictured above. It is a very contemporary Italian space full of wit and whimsy. Everything on the menu is so delicious, you can't go wrong. On this particular visit, I ordered the special which was duck ragu' pappardelle, quattro stagioni pizza, and the ricchia salad. Delish!