Han Style, part two.

Continued from part one: Han Style, solo

Day 2 started at

Donut Friend

Now this beautiful, glorious establishment is located in Highland Park, 20 minutes away from where we were staying in Hollywood. George didn’t have to go to work till 8 am so we splurged on our freedom and got two donuts each. We both got the Javabreaker and I got the Bacon 182 and George got the Hüsker Blü.   

It. Was. Ridiculously. Delicious. 

 I mean a twist on punk band names AND vegan donuts?! 

My mind is still fuzzy and deliriously happy thinking about it…  

Donut Friend

5107 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

http://www.yelp.com/biz/donut-friend-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare

Back at the hotel as George went to work: I went into the jacuzzi tub because I have no shame and I swear I haven’t showered in a week as penance (enter quip about crusty hippies here, whatever). I soaked for forever, watched Paranormal Attacks (or Paranormal Survivors, I dont know, something cheesy but wonderfully terrible). 

After I finally dragged myself out I got dressed 

and headed to the 

Hollyhock House

I walked (because that’s what I do). Bought my ticket (I think it’s $7) and put on my little paper booties over my shoes and started my tour. 

First off: the tour is short.

Secondly: the house is phenomenal.

Third: “What the f*ck I can’t take pictures here either?! What is it about LA?!” 

In all seriousness I get it and understand but in a world full of social media enticement pictures and sharing experiences are kind of everything. Wouldn’t you want people to be intrigued?Anyway. The volunteer docents are great, informative, friendly and obviously LOVE architecture. If you want to make the whole experience last longer bone up on your Frank Lloyd Wright trivia and go to town. 

Ps the view is pretty incredible.

  

Hollyhock House
4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

 http://www.yelp.com/biz/hollyhock-house-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare

Stop two: Fern Dell to The Trails Cafe

Fern Dell is billed as a sliver of nature in the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. Also know as the “Andy Griffith location” (this is the second time I’ve made an Andy Griffith reference in this post…it’s irrelevant). First of all Fern Dell is very pretty but like the rest of LA it kind of smells like urine. Also, it didn’t look like anything out of the Andy Griffith opening credits. Still, it was MUCH prettier than walking on the streets. I took Fern Dell up to The Trails and got some much needed food.  

The Trails is adorable and full of the prettiest and most friendly staff ever (I’m speaking specifically of the very cute blonde that had the kitten or raccoon tattoo on her forearm, she took great pleasure in spelling my name right without asking). I got a $10 avocado sandwich (I’m serious) and listened to the gentleman behind me explain to his friend how he is un confrontational but then detailed how and why he screamed at his neighbor and the language he used. *sighs* Everyone thinks they’re someone more than everyone else and that is just another reason why I don’t care for LA (no offense pretentious writer/actor/entertainment lawyer showing his friend around bragging about passive aggressive neighbor relations). 

Aaaaaannnnyyyywwwaaaayyyy. 
The sandwich was good. Not so good that I would go back just for a sandwich but if I was in the area and starving, it’s where I would go. People watching is a treat at the very least.

The Trails
2333 Fern Dell Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-trails-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare

Next stop.

A Walk to the Museum of Death.

The Museum of Death is one of those offbeat tourist attractions that anyone that has ever looked up “Offbeat blog of Los Angeles Attractions” has seen. Honestly. It’s great. It’s a vivid, well put together, flowing collection of all things death. From suicides to autopsies, they have anything you could possibly be curious about. 

So while I was impressed I have to admit that I won’t go back. Not because of any negative experiences but because it’s gory and too “real” (for me). The people working there are gracious and friendly. Again there is a “no picture” policy but considering that most everything in the museum is a real person at the end of their life it makes sense and I wasn’t even tempted. 

I had the bizarre thought as I was walking through that I might recognize someone in one of the pictures. It was a silly thought but it crossed my mind none the less. 

My FAVORITE part of visiting the museum was the family that was just ahead of me in the walk through. The Dad looked like a Gynecologist from Idaho, the wife looked like she had always been a stay at home soccer mom, the son looked like the “polite jock-athletic type” and Grandma.

Yup. 

They brought Grandma. Truth be told she handled all of the gore far better than the mom and I did. She observed the genital mutilation and step by step autopsy videos with the aloofness of a seasoned CSI investigator. Everything was just “interesting” nothing creeped this woman out. She was great. 

Museum of Death
6031 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

http://www.yelp.com/biz/museum-of-death-los-angeles-4?utm_source=ishare

I walked from there to 
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s 

I can’t say I know how I first heard of this place only that it had crossed my path before and I filed it away under “places that would be cool to check out if I’m in the area and need a drink.” 

 

First off the entrance is exactly as described. It really does look like a small garage sale is going on and you really do walk through a refrigerator door to get inside. It’s original and fun right of the bat. The Door guy is his own brand of awesome. He’s friendly, inviting, jovial and cute but still looks capable of tossing someone out. The place is so chill that my normally trigger happy camera tendencies went a little gun shy. Also the inside decor is exactly what my living room is on its way to being. Right down to the amber colored glass lamps. The dj spins 70’s music nonstop and if it’s not original it’s a cover or a remix of a 70’s classic. In the patio area there’s a deck that looks exactly like the one my Grandparents had with hanging chairs, colorful wire framed ottomans that double as tables. There’s a trailer that has the best of the best era style centerfolds plastered all over the inside and a very pretty bearded bar man that is more than happy to whip you up something based on a vague idea of what you’re in the mood for (to be fair it was a quiet Sunday early evening when I went, please don’t do this during peak hours) I still don’t know what this drink was called but it was glorious and gingery and a tiny bit sweet. You can also order food out back at a tiny table with a sign above it that reads “the more you eat the more you can drink” wise words. I didn’t get anything to eat because it didn’t look vegan friendly (I also didn’t ask so don’t quote me). I happily sat sipping (several) drinks and people watching. 

 

Good Times at Davey Wayne’s 
1611 N El Centro Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

http://www.yelp.com/biz/good-times-at-davey-waynes-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare
From Good Times I walked to Amoeba to pick up Dear You that I didn’t have on vinyl yet and fulfilled a request for Help! for Kap.
I won’t go into too much detail about Amoeba, it’s a huge record store that most Californians know about and if you’re ever in LA or the Bay area I highly suggest you go. Its huge and the chance that they WONT have something you’re looking for is slim.

Amoeba Music

6400 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

http://www.yelp.com/biz/amoeba-music-los-angeles?utm_source=ishare

Ps the picture above was taken at Doomies 

A place for “really bad for you Vegan food” with “eh” service. It was actually my first time back after having boycotted them after a truly terrible experience. They have 4 stars on Yelp which I find surprising after a few Instagram people also commented about how they don’t go anymore because Doomies is always short staffed. 

So. That’s that.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/doomies-home-cookin-hollywood?utm_source=ishare

All in all it was a great weekend and quite the experience seeing new places that are so close yet not in my backyard. 
As always venture to any of these locations at your own risk. 

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Vegan Portobello Fajitas

What you need to feed 5 (and have a few servings left over for lunches, I can personally attest to the fajita veggies being amazing on a salad)

For the Portobello Fajitas:
4 bell peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
2 yellow or white onions (I’ve even used a red one before), cut into thin rounds
4-5 portobello mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean and thinly sliced (you can use chopped regular mushrooms but the portobello are my favorite! I actually think the chopped little shrooms are what’s pictured. Oops.)
2 tsp minced garlic
Dashes of salt
6 or more tortillas (we usually use the smaller organic ones but you can use any size or brand you wish).

Fajita type toppings:
Pico de gallo
Guacamole
Or our personal favorite: “Tapatio creme” you’ll need hot sauce and Veganaise for that one (instructions below)

How to Fajitas:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (if I’m making enough for all 5 of us plus some leftovers for lunches I’ll bust out the big pot). Once hot, add a dash of olive oil or if you’re trying to limit your family’s oil you can use veggie broth (but be prepared to add it in small doses frequently). Toss in the onion.

Honestly I start chopping the peppers as the onion is cooking, when one is done I toss it in and stir.
Chop, chop, chop, toss, stir, stir stir. Continuing till peppers are all chopped and added.

Then I start on the mushrooms. Honestly I don’t have a set “time” for the cooking bit. I just keep stirring and let the flavors bounce off each other. Cut the mushrooms, add to the pan/pot. Cut another, add to the pan/pot.
When all of your mushrooms are done your kitchen will be smelling awesome. Your peppers slightly soft and your onion caramelized.
Turn down your burner to a medium temp, add the garlic and salt, stir occasionally.

Now you’re going to take a small flat pan and place it over a medium-low flame to warm the tortillas, 10-15 seconds on each side is plenty. I’ve also been known to put a heat safe dish over top of the fajita pan (or pot) so the tortillas stay warm as the fajita flavors mingle.

Once you’ve done that you’re done! Add whatever you wish (Co always makes his “Cohan guacamole”) and Brayden likes fresh cilantro and Kap likes cheese (regular, not vegan. To each his own) 🙂

George and I like “Tapatio creme”
It’s completely made up and you can replace the Tapitio with any hot sauce (Sriracha etc) and make it as spicy or mild as you wish.

How to: in a small bowl scoop in 4 tablespoons (or more depending on the size of your group) of Veganaise (I didn’t say THIS part was healthy!).
Now shake the Tapatio over top and stir it all up. Add more hot sauce if you want it spicier, less if you’re a wuss like me. Add in dollop size portions to your tortilla before you put your fillings in. Oh my gosh. So good!

This fajita recipe is rad because it’s not rocket science. You can add more or less of anything and if you want more spice just add different peppers.

Enjoy!

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Day 3: Forty Days of Gratitude

•3 I’m incredibly grateful for a place to eat that agrees with my moral principles and dietary choices. @thehealthyjunk has been our dinner table away from our dinner table since the first week it opened. I am so so so grateful (and spoiled!) that such an establishment exists so close to me.

Rainy morning French toast with whipped cream (vegan)

French Toast for 5:

12 slices of Eureka Bread (honestly it would be better if you used a thicker bread but in the rare case I eat bread I LOVE the Eureka brand)
2 cup of nondairy milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
4 Tablespoons tofu (I had firm on hand)
2 Dashes of vanilla extract
2 pinches of sea salt
2 Large dashes of cinnamon
Oil for frying (I used an organic spray I found at Mothers market )

Now. Directions:

I’m lazy and just rinsed my blender out (I made the whipped cream first since it needs to chill) and tossed in the milk, tofu, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.
Spray the pan with oil and heat over a medium heat.
Soak both sides of the bread in the milk mixture (depending on how thick of bread you use. Since the bread I’m using here is average width I just coat both sides quickly).
Put the slice of bread in the the pan and cook until light brown (I give it about 30-40 seconds, thank you Netflix for helping me gauge my cooking times).
Flip to cook the other side. And then flip again…and again….basically till you feel it’s cooked through.
Repeat with all the slices of bread.

You can pair with the almond whipped “cream” (recipe below), maple syrup or in my case: almond whipped cream and all natural strawberry preserves (I’m the chubbiest vegan you’ll ever meet).

The almond whipped “cream” got rave reviews from my youngest who is eternally picky about all food items.

Whipped cream:
Serves a bunch depending on how heavy of a hand you have

16oz firm Tofu
1/2 agave syrup
2 tbsp Soy Milk
2 tbsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Put in the refrigerator for an hour.
Then, dollop it on anything!

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Big Bear, Trains and Flesh Eating Cacti – part I

I’ll be splitting this last weekends adventure into three parts over the next few days because (theoretically) you could pursue each of these destinations in three separate day trips (if you’re in the Southern California area).

We made our way up to Big Bear located in the San Bernardino mountains, about 100 miles from Los Angeles. Initially I had planned on spending the whole weekend up there.
Cozy.
In a cabin.
Snow falling gracefully outside…

I talked to my long time friend that lives up there year round and he said “Don’t bother. The weather has been awful this year.”

Sadly the snow has been few and far between this season. Which is unfortunate because the local economy thrives on the vacationers that flock up the mountain year round to enjoy the lake or the slopes. But when it’s too cold for the lake and the only snow to be found is man made and on the grounds of the ski resorts…meh. Not the country get away we were hoping for.

So I jumped on Expedia (It’s my go to for travel planning, and no I’m not paid to say that. They actually have no idea I’m talking about them *bwahahaha*). I booked a room in San Bernardino at the foot of the mountain. This also gave me the breathing room to create other plans in the Inland Empire that I had always wanted to do but never got a chance to.
Aaaannnnndddddd it was way cheaper.

We stopped at Lake Arrowhead on the way up because I had always wanted to walk around their little village. I hesitate to write anything “negative” but the whole place was only “ok”. The views of the lake are awesome and the shops we did go into were charming but on the whole I didn’t feel inclined to stay.

One of the upsides of our stop in Lake Arrowhead was an impromptu hair cut for Co. This kid has been wanting to “grow his hair out” for as long as I can remember. We got out of the car and I looked at his sweet face and said “ok kiddo, I know you want to grow your hair out but we need to trim it up, make it all one length while it grows out.” He sighed and I explained I’m still in support of his decision to express himself through his “look” but that he was looking like a ragamuffin. We stopped into Rumors and my initial impression had me asking “is this a place were a child can have their hair done or is it a bit too spa like?”. Seriously, it’s that cute. Furthermore it has some major TARDIS action going on, it’s far bigger on the inside once you walk through and has quite the pretty view of the lake. The gals there were more than accommodating and very sweet about our mob of 5 coming in and crowding up the place. I’m awful with names but I want to say Cohan’s stylist is named Julie (cute, friendly, blonde with a forearm tattoo). Co got exactly what he wanted, she kept the length as much as she could and I got a little boy who didn’t look like a stand in for Oliver Twist. I’ll be honest it’s the best trim I’ve seen on him in a few years.
It’s completely rational to make the trek up the mountain to get my hair done by her too right?

We left Lake Arrowhead and made it to Big Bear. I’m notorious for packing picnics (eating at restaurants gets pricey for all of us). So we sat at Boulder Bay munching happily, watching the ducks and enjoying the crisp weather. The park is very pretty but can get a little busy. I can’t imagine it during a peak season.

We then went to the Big Bear Discovery center . I imagine this place would be fantastic for little ones (we got through it pretty quickly and still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly). The main center has a couple of small exhibits about local wildlife and vegetation and there’s a back portion located outside with a few hands on displays that had us getting creative and laughing.

Next was Juniper Point .The gate wasn’t open so we parked along the road (several other cars were there so we assumed it was ok, I don’t know for sure so please do this at your own risk). We didn’t go down the whole trail because we were meeting our friend at 4:00 so we just wandered and enjoyed being out in the (paved trail) scenery. It’s a gorgeous spot and while it isn’t exactly roughing it it’s a good way to stretch your legs if you have small children in strollers, joint problems or have older people in your party.

We made our way to Sandy’s a sports bar that our friend favors. Don’t let the bikini clad gal on their website fool you, in my experience the establishment is kid friendly, reminding me more of the breweries in NorCal or the old style pubs across the pond. The food is fairly typical bar fare (they do make attempts at vegetarian options, vegans like myself are far more limited, I had the veggie sandwich without mayo or cheese). They have a full bar, tv’s on most of the walls tuned to a wide variety of sporting events, friendly staff and most importantly (to my little mice) a game room. Four pool tables, a handful of arcade games etc etc. more often than not we end up in there for a solid hour after we eat.

We finished our night on the mountain playing Cosmic Golf. A truly treacherous game for people with depth perception problems *shyly raises hand*. It got chilly pretty quick and the course (while 18 holes) is pretty small. Regardless of weather or size that was one of the highlights of our day. The kids were especially excited at the prospect of being outside in the black lights playing mini golf, the novelty of it didn’t wear off for them. A word to the wise. It’s cash only and also score cards don’t exist. There was a review on yelp, one of those cranky reviewers that have oodles of time to just talk trash and get labeled as “elite” that was FURIOUS about the lack of score cards.

It’s cosmic golf, were you expecting to take this PGA serious?

Us less competitive folk? We had a ball.

We made it down the mountain and to our hotel at about 9 pm (and even got upgraded to a full suite because they had overbooked, thank YOU Hilton).

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We love, Love.

I know that a post about our Valentines day a full week later seems silly but our decorating idea (I thought) would be fun to do again for birthdays, a random Tuesday, anniversaries, a good report card etc etc.
Sooooo here we are!

We started the night before on February 13th by having friends over to celebrate a birthday but also to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. We sat around the fire pit laughing for a long time and after the little ones were in bed I worked on their present/decorations as the night went on (a fairly decent display of time management if I do say so myself).

Before we went to bed we grabbed the balloons (hiding stealthily in the car) and then set to decorating. Everything looked so festive and lovely I’ll admit it felt like Christmas. Here’s the “how to”. It’s super easy but a little guidance never hurt anyone right?

“With love” balloon decor

You’ll need
•construction paper in a color of your choice
•scissors
•metallic sharpies (or colored markers)
•small paper clips
•balloons filled with helium (quantity is up to you and you can pick either latex or Mylar) Dollar Tree and Party City sometimes have great deals.

Now. Assemble!

Step one: fold construction paper in half (unless you’re super talented and can cut your desired shape evenly proportioned). I made my heart shapes about the size of my hand. Make as many (or more) than the balloons you purchased.

Step two: take all of your cut outs and start writing your “I love you because…” On each one.

I wrote everything from
“I love your smile”
to
“I love the stories you tell me about your friends at school.”

Step three: use paper clips to affix the heart to the ribbon “tail” of the balloon.

Step four: If there are extras use them for additional decorations (windows, doors, mantel, etc)

The little mice loved it and while they didn’t tear around the room reading about how wonderful they are, I did catch them reading and smiling as each new one caught their eye.

I have seen similar projects using pictures and the effect is equally adorable. I would love to try that someday.

We lazed about all day, watching various Valentine Peanuts specials and concluded our day with a four course dinner at our favorite restaurant The Healthy Junk who had put together a beautiful candlelit setting that had our little ones especially impressed.

I must have heard “Which fork do I use?” At least four times.

After dinner we finally saw the Lego movie! It was very entertaining and as funny as I hoped it would be. Our youngest is still singing the theme song and it’s been DAYS.
I means DDDAAAYYYSSS.
“everything is awesome!”

All in all a day to celebrate not just romantic love but all forms of love is always an excellent idea. A feeling so warm and fuzzy that I’ve caught myself thinking of ways I could bring it to our everyday lives.

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