Santa Monica!

Given the length of my stay, and the number of restaurants, events, sights, and areas I visited, I am not going to give a day-by-day recap of my stay in L.A. It would take hours. Instead, I’ll break it down by activity- restaurants, shows, areas, and the like, and I’ll preface everything by saying that this may have been the best trip I have ever taken. Between seeing my father, the wonderful city of Los Angeles, and all the delicious food we enjoyed, I can’t remember a vacation that was more meaningful and necessary than this.

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I was out of my mind with the beautiful scenery, from the view from the plane to the panoramas from Palisades Park and the PCH. Flying over the mountains made me ache for Santa Fe- I miss having those incredible masses always in the distance.

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Heading down the incline onto the Pacific Coast Highway, on our way to Zuma Beach- home to some of the best surfing (and the strongest rip currents).

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Zuma Beach!

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UGH, mountains AGAIN!

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The view from Palisades Park, near my Dad’s apartment.

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Ocean Drive in Santa Monica.

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One of my favorite things about California: the palm trees. Palms are one of my favorite plants! I love the different varieties, the way they look like fireworks…beautiful 🙂

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On Wednesday morning my Dad and I walked down to the Santa Monica farmers market. It was so neat to check out all of the produce that would never be available at my local markets, simply because we don’t have the weather to grow it locally!

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This stand had about a dozen different varieties of peaches and nectarines!

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Long beans- I had never even heard of them, but they look like they grow like asparagus!

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citrus!IMG_2971

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Fresh beans in bulk.IMG_2967

Almost all of the stands sold bunches of fresh lavender.IMG_2966

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Squash flowers- we picked up a basket of these, and Dad made fried squash flowers just like the ones my Nana used to make for us when we were little 🙂

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Big artichokes!IMG_2962

Colorful fresh flowers 🙂IMG_2960

This woman was selling six or seven different varieties of strawberries, all with different taste profiles!IMG_2957

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We ended up taking home a bag of goodies that we enjoyed over the course of the trip, including a bag of Snow White peaches, which didn’t last more than a day or two. So. Good.

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Dad left his car for me to drive around.

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We had some fun with that 😉

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We also got some shopping in, and by we I mean ME! 🙂 I didn’t need anything in particular, and I had gone to the Minneapolis Athleta, so it was really just for fun- something I haven’t really done in a while!

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Santa Monica has this neat mall at the base of the Promenade, and the entire thing is pretty open to the outdoors because of the incredible weather.

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The Promenade, home to my favorite Barnes and Noble 🙂

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Rodeo Drive 🙂

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The Beverly Wilshire

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😀

My Dad’s girlfriend took me to Olvera Street, a long strip of traditional Mexican shops and restaurants! It was so neat, we picked up a bunch of things for the kids, and Patricia bought them each a pair of gorgeous Mexican sandals 🙂

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The street lead to a pavilion where a traditional (Aztec? Mayan?) drum and dance performance was taking place. It was gorgeous!

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Among other things, I managed to find baja hoodies for both myself and Jack. They didn’t have any smaller than Jack’s size, so Carolyn will get her own when she’s a bit bigger.

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I also picked up some Mexican blankets for $10. I got one the first time I ever went to Venice Beach, years ago, for about the same price, and I still have it (and love it!), but for some reason the popularity of yoga has turned these blankets into a hot item. They sell for upwards of FORTY DOLLARS in our area, which is totally absurd. I’m just going to grab some whenever I go to CA!

Finally, there was the food. We ate out for almost every meal- there are so many options for vegan dining around Los Angeles, and it was a huge treat to spend a week trying as many as possible. I can’t really describe the feeling of looking at a menu and NOT having to pick it apart to find something to eat. Likewise, it was almost overwhelming to be sitting in front of a menu full of dishes that I would eat. It’s great that nowadays most restaurants include at least one vegan option on their menu, but a lot of times it really is only a dish or two, which means that although you’ve gone out to eat, you only have one option for a meal. This is why I eat almost exclusively at veg restaurants- when I go out, I want to feel like I have options!

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Dad and I went to Native Foods on the way home from the airport. It was his pick, and what a score! Bonus: they had a great kids menu, so when I do eventually bring the kids out, we’ll keep Native in mind 🙂

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Lavender lemonade 🙂

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Nachos! Outrageous.

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Grain bowl with garlicky greens and tempeh.

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Cucumber-sesame salad.

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Dad’s gyro bowl- steamed kale, cauliflower, seitan cutlets, and a creamy sauce.

We also hit up Chan Dara, Dad and R.S.’s favorite Thai restaurant:

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Sake!

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Mee krob

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Spring rolls

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Coconut rice

I also met a friend of mine in Burbank for lunch. She recommended Wild Carvery- delicious!

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Vegan chocolate dream shake!

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I actually stayed in the Burbank area for a while because we were seeing a show that night, and I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic trying to get back and forth to/from Santa Monica. I ended up wandering over to Pasadena, where I found an awesome vegan Thai restaurant, Green Earth Vegan.

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Green juice- this was much needed!

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More spring rolls- I couldn’t get enough!

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Quinoa sushi with mushrooms and avo.

Dad and I went to Sugarfish sushi for dinner one night, and while I know it was high-quality sushi and the rice was absolutely to die for, they only carried cucumbers for a vegetable option.

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The ambiance was lovely, though, and the restaurant was wonderful as a whole!

Dad and I also ventured out to a Thai restaurant on Melrose- Bulan Thai.

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Best sencha ever 🙂

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Steamed veggie dumplings

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Tofu pad thai. It never gets old 🙂

We also went to Superfood Express:

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Yerba Mate.IMG_3122

Kale and white bean soup.

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Sweet chili marinated tofu sandwich.

While we were on Olvera Street, Patricia took me out to one of her favorite Mexican Restaurants, La Golondrina. Delicious!

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Chips and salsa, in true Mexican style 🙂

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Chips and guac!

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Sopes con frijoles- the best I’ve ever had!

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Veggie enchiladas smothered in mole!

Patricia and I also made it over to Real Food Daily, another of her favorites. She’s really into healthy eating and avoiding processed anything, so it was great hanging out with her and talking about the benefits of Himalayan Sea Salt ;D

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More green juice 🙂

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Vegan Reuben with lots of yummy sauerkraut and garlicky greens with miso tahini dressing on the side!

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Sauteed sea vegetables! We also got a side of soba noodles. We brought the leftovers home to Dad. I wish I had a picture of his face when he opened the box! It was all delicious, but not for the health food novice.

I must admit, the real draw to RFD was the desserts.

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Chocolate creme cake 🙂

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Cinnamon bun!!!

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Oatmeal-currant cookies and chocolate-dipped coconut squares.

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These took the cake. Seriously, so good.

We also went out to Sam’s, my Dad’s regular spot. They were incredible- didn’t even bring menus, just asked what we’d like to eat. So special 🙂 We also went out to Mastro’s , a steakhouse in Beverly Hills. Both incredible restaurant, neither the kind of place in which you take pictures of your food 😉

Dad took me out for a few pre-dinner cocktails, once at the Georgian Hotel…

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…and once at the Penthouse:

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The Penthouse was incredible- situated on the top floor of a hotel, with views of the Pacific and the surrounding area of Los Angeles.

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Breathtaking.

We also went to see a few shows: Sleepless in Seattle, and a John Lennon tribute show. They were both awesome!

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Hipster beer at the Lennon show.

It was truly the trip of a lifetime. The best part was, of course, spending so much time with my Dad. I have the benefit of loving my Dad as a father, but also liking him as a person, so spending all of this time with him was extra special. I missed him as soon as I boarded my flight.

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Although, it was wonderful coming home to Jack and Carolyn too. There was a lot of FaceTime action throughout the trip, but of course I missed them terribly and cried when I finally got home.

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In all, an incredible trip. I’m looking forward to my next visit out- likely sometime in January, and we’re toying with going as a group (myself, R.S. and James) sometime next summer. Now THAT will be an adventure! 🙂

Of course, I came home to absolute madness. I’ve got a live show tonight, yoga tomorrow, workshop tomorrow night and grocery shopping for Jack’s party on Saturday, CSA pickup and food planning on Thursday, then Isaac’s on Thursday night to check out my friend running the taps with the beer from his brewery, New York on Friday to pick up Patty, party on Saturday, and Sunday I have FOUR different yoga classes scheduled. Not to mention today is my first official day of training for the Philly Half Marathon. Whew! Nothing like diving back into things 🙂 Will check in later with CSA pickup and party prep!

Minneapolis in Words and Pictures.

Reporting from 40,000 feet above the Rocky Mountains!

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I’m currently flying Southwest, flight 3056, direct to Los Angeles, California! In other words, the second leg of my trip is underway. We’ll be landing in about an hour and a half, and I can’t WAIT to see my Dad 🙂 Though I did have the most wonderful time in Minnesota. My flights were delayed going in, but only by thirty minutes or so. Luckily I was prepared with snacks!

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I landed around midnight, and even though Britt and I were both super tired, we still stayed up talking until about 3:30, which meant that Saturday morning everyone was dragging. We walked around the Minneapolis Farmers market, which I had heard was supposed to excellent. It didn’t disappoint!

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There were so many interesting local vendors, and it was fun to see what was in season and compare it to home. For example, right now garlic scapes are still going strong in our area, but in Minnesota they are already out of season! They had a huge surplus of red leaf lettuce, spinach, green onions, asparagus, dried beans, and pea tops.

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We walked around the entire market (four or five long rows), and then grabbed some tamales and tacos. Mmmmm, veggie tamale with fresh salsa….

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After the market, Brandon and Britt drove me through some of the nicer areas of the city, and past a few parks and lakes. The houses in Minneapolis are so beautiful and unique.

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We went home to drop our stuff off, and Britt laid down while Brandon and I ran some errands. He took me over to a children’s bookstore he used to go to as a child called The Wild Rumpus. Oh, it made me just ache for Jack and Cal!

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It wasn’t just a bookstore full of children’s books, rather it was a bookstore aimed at children- the kind of place you can take a child and know that they’re allowed to be children. There were animals all over the store- ferrets, tarantulas, chinchillas, rats, and lizards. There was also a free-roaming chicken 🙂

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It was total magic. I kept seeing J and C running around playing and exploring. I hope that I can bring them out with me to visit someday, if only to see B and go to that bookstore 😉

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Home again, and time to think about dinner. Britt and I both have a deep love for cold, chunky gazpacho, so we set to work and let it sit overnight to let the flavors really develop.

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Yum!

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Britt’s house is so lovely, both on its own and because of her great taste. She has these adorable windows in her kitchen that I totally fell in love with 🙂

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I also fell in love with their Sodastream O.o Seltzerrrrrr……

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Brandon and Britt took me to the Galleria, a mall of sorts filled with the most beautiful shops- it reminded me a lot of East Hampton, just in the selection of stores.

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We walked around looking at fancy things, and ate dinner at Big Bowl, a thai fusion spot with totally outrageous pot stickers and pad thai.

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They also had a delicious-looking build-your-own fried rice bar, but unfortunately I only have one stomach.

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That night Britt’s friend was having a get together for her birthday, so we went out to the Northeast Yacht club for a few drinks.

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Things got a little out of hand. We ended up moving to the Front End, which is a bar/nightclub. Totally wild, but one of the best nights in my recent memory. The DJ was great, and everyone was just having a good time dancing and singing.

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Okay, here’s something I have to share about Minnesota- almost everyone is super nice. Friendly, good conversationalists, no road rage, just really kind and considerate. Britt said they call it “Minnesota-nice,” because sometimes it can come off as a bit too much, but for me it was really refreshing after the somewhat high-energy power-lifestyle of the East Coast.

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We danced most of the night away, sang our way home, and rolled into bed at who knows what time. It was gorgeous.

Sunday Britt and Brandon had tickets to see War Horse, so Patty and I hung out at the house eating and reading.

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I had picked up a few items at the market and wanted to use them before I left for L.A., so I made a big breakfast of sauteed pea tops, avocado, local eggs, and chopped green onions.

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I got through most of the Pennebacker book, and ended up finishing it on Monday morning, which was my goal for the trip- I brought three books, and promised I’d finish at least one in Minneapolis. Winning!
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We ended up just hanging around the house most of the day, and got the grill going around five thirty for dinner.

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Patty knew exactly what was going on, and was totally prepared to assist.

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More pea tops, topped with a veggie burger and sauteed vidalia onions, with a second veggie burger on a bun topped with bbq sauce, avo, and more onions, and sides of asparagus, roasted tomatoes, and sauteed green onions. Also, gazpacho. And lots of avocado. YUM.

Afterward, Britt took me down to her favorite bar: Liquor Lyles. It was a total dive, but in the best way, with a million beers on tap, electronic dart boards, pool tables, a photo both, arcade games, board games, and SKEEBALL!

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It reminded me of the bars in Brooklyn. Oh, nostalgia! It was definitely my favorite place in MN.

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Monday was my last day, so we slept in, took it easy, and moved at a snail’s pace 😉 We did go to Quong with another friend of theirs. It was an amazing Vietnamese restaurant with killer spring rolls.

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I also got a noodle salad bowl with tofu and seared mock duck. SO GOOD, and super cheap!

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The vegan eats in Minneapolis were numerous and consistently delicious. I was really pleasantly surprised!

Afterward we went over to Athleta so I could check out Britt’s work and pick up some gear. I get a lot of playful prodding over my love of all things Lulu, and I figured it was about time I start representing Athleta since my best friend works there. Also, their stuff is super, super cute 🙂

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Power to the she!

Monday night we hung at home and polished off whatever was lingering in the fridge:

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more veggie burgers, leftover veggies, and more gazpacho, all washed down with fresh seltzer from the Sodastream. Must get one of those ASAP……

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We ended the night with some epic Wii matches, including boxing which- if you follow Britt on Vine- you will be able to see. So embarrassing.

This morning I packed up and said goodbye to a city that charmed the hell out of me these past few days.

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I can’t believe I’m already on my way to Los Angeles! We land in forty minutes. By the time I upload the pictures to this post and hit publish, it will probably be night time, since my Dad is picking me up and likely has a plan for us for the rest of the day.

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It’s been a beautiful flight, and a wonderful trip so far. I miss the kids terribly, but we’ve facetimed twice a day, every day, so it’s something. At first they were talkative, asking me to put Patty on the phone and telling me about their days, but when I called yesterday Jack informed me that he was watching Hugo, and that he loved me and he’d see me later. Well then.

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They’re at the Philly Zoo today with Megan, so I imagine they’re having fun with that, and James will be home Thursday night with Emily, so that should offer a further distraction until I get back Monday morning.
Here’s to the second half of this incredible cross-country adventure!