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Los Angeles Garage Office Conversion
Home, Los Angeles Living

Our Los Angeles Garage Office Conversion: Ideas and Photos!

What happens when you have a two-bedroom house and two babies on the way? Well, first thing is you can kiss your sweet home office goodbye in favor of a nursery. Second thing is, you can figure out what the heck to do instead if you are a writer-editor who works from home.

Our solution (after considering other options like buying a new house, for instance) was to go for a detached garage office conversion. At first, I was opposed to this idea (proposed by husband), because I’m not sure you really see ROI from a future sale of a home, unless you add square footage onto the main house. But I really started to warm up to the idea when I began realizing its utility as a major custom feature for a new mom who makes her living as I do; I can be close enough to be accessible, but still two closed doors away from babies and nanny and noise enough to have the reasonable expectation of actual work. That’s a setup that works for me.

Beyond that, we needed to maintain some storage space. Otherwise, what would happen to husband’s 23 crates of ’90s hip-hop records from his DJing days, or my endless hoard of sentimental artifacts (I know, I know, call A&E — but I just love life and people and memories)? So we divided the garage into partial raw storage, and partial office space. That sounds sort of simple, but required hoop jumping to accommodate the movement of the existing garage door, as well as un-motorizing it so the motor didn’t run through the ceiling of our space.

With those considerations all addressed, prospective garage-office converters among my dear readers will be pleased to know the project was a fairly simple one! Continue Reading

1930s bathroom remodel
Home, Los Angeles Living

At Long Last: Our 1930s Bathroom Remodel Before and After Photos!

One of my best friend’s Holocaust-survivor bubbies had an expression. She’d say — and you have to imagine this in an old-country accent — “Everywhere is it nice, but home is it the best.”

This is more or less my own life’s most fundamental mantra, and the underpinning beneath every word written on this blog. I want to go everywhere and see everything, and in between I want to come home to my own coordinates, on my teeny-tiny piece of the earth, and sit in my sweet little 1,350-square-foot house, surrounded by my family and my friends and rascally cats. That’s the nougat filling if travel is the chocolate coating.

So quite literally every time I touch down at LAX, or pull into the driveway after a long time away, I say out loud — affecting the same Yiddish accent — “Everywhere is it nice, but home is it the best.”

After more than six weeks out of our house, living with parents and in-laws and traveling out of town every single weekend, our bathroom remodel finally wrapped up and allowed us to move back in earlier this month. And by then, home felt more luxurious than even the most far-flung five-star resort.

Continue Reading

Los Angeles Maternity Photography Shoot
Los Angeles Living, This & That

A Sweet, Simple Los Angeles Maternity Photography Shoot (Unless You Hate That Kind of Thing, Which Is Fine)

What are your thoughts on maternity photography?

Hoo-boy, I have seen some hokey-ass things that I did not want to replicate — weird props, blowing fans, heart-shaped hands, body paint (?), airbrushed insets a la Sears (?!), belly kissing (?!?). But given we’re expecting two babies, I am thinking of this pregnancy as a one-shot deal if all goes well. That means I have no more than 10 more weeks to be pregnant left in this lifetime. (I will miss the cutting in bathroom lines indiscriminately, but not the back pain). And I felt we should document this moment for posterity.

Hubby was very eh on the matter of a maternity photo shoot, and I get that. I do. But that’s not to say I ever squandered a Kodak moment in this life either. (Have you met me?) Lucky for us, we know one of the most talented photographers in town — Sean Twomey over at 2Me Studios — who happens to be a low-key, fuss-free pleasure to work with. So we set aside a Saturday morning on a gorgeous day for a Los Angeles maternity photography shoot that really felt like hanging out in the park among friends with no pressure and no wild expectations. Continue Reading

Carthay Square Los Angeles 1936 Spanish Deco Tiled Bathroom
Home, Los Angeles Living

In Which We Attempt a Los Angeles Home Remodel While Pregnant (Gulp!)

Surely I must be one of those people who’s not happy unless she’s in constant motion, whether that means traveling (three countries per 10-day vacation is about our speed), or keeping busy at home.

The latest piece of evidence: On Tuesday, which is the day I hit 19 weeks pregnant (or exactly halfway on the twins full-term scale), we’ll move out of our house as we begin demo for a two-month remodel. To recap: a home remodel while pregnant. One that requires moving out. And moving in with parents and in-laws. For six weeks. Gulp.

In short, here’s why. Continue Reading

Yxta Cocina Mexicana
Los Angeles Living

Party of 20? Here’s Where to Take a Large Group to Celebrate a Birthday in Los Angeles

This may be obvious to most people, but it wasn’t to me: Restaurants don’t really want your group of 20 on a Saturday night without a pre fixe menu or per-person minimum. This is understandable—you don’t want to overwhelm the staff, and you don’t want the kitchen to run out of ingredients—but I thought I could turn up a venue in Los Angeles that would nevertheless be eager to accommodate our sizable group in honor of my husband’s birthday.

We found $35-per-person minimums, with pre-set menus, wherever we looked. We weren’t hosting the dinner (that is to say, we were gathering the group, but not picking up the tab), and we hate to impose on our friends’ wallets. Some drink, some don’t drink, some just nibble a nosh, others are hungry for a full dinner, some have cash to spare, others are between jobs — why should everyone pay the same? Causing stress and resentment among friends isn’t hospitable. I searched and searched but by Friday before the party, I was still without a confirmed location and I was starting to sweat it, mini-panicked that I was losing my detail-minded-group-leader-knows-the-hell-out-of-Los-Angeles-venues touch.

And then I stumbled upon the perfect place! All of this is to say, if you’re encountering a similar problem, I have a great solution for you: Yxta Cocina Mexiana in downtown Los Angeles. Continue Reading

The Grove L.A. Lobby
Home, Los Angeles Living

Only in L.A.? The Grove’s Knockout New Lobby Design

Who’s noticed the new residential-feeling lobby area in the parking garage at the Grove? It’s the kind of thing that makes you go “only in L.A….”—and it’s totally gorgeous.

The design-minded lobby revamp made its debut a couple of months ago and includes pretty stone flooring, opulent chandeliers, a leather ceiling, and seating groups that feel plucked from a five-star hotel lobby. In fact, the look comes from the Rockwell Group, also known as the folks behind such hotels as the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (another personal favorite since I covered its impossibly splashy opening), not to mention the wildly imaginative Crystals at CityCenter. Continue Reading

Rainbow Over Catalina Island Scuba Diving Spot
Los Angeles Living, Travel

Scuba Tale Part Deux: Certified (High Five!)

In the week between the first and second weekends of pool and open-water training, I’m working with some new advantages and disadvantages alike.

As for the advantages, the fear of the unknown is somewhat diminished. And I now have a certain faith in the power of the anti-motion-sickness drug, Bonine, plus the knowledge of how and when to take it for maximum effectiveness.

As for the disadvantages, I’ve seen how badly some people fared on the first trip out. I’ve seen a bunch of green faces, borderline hypothermia cases, and even a perforated eardrum. Continue Reading

photo(36)
Los Angeles Living, Travel

In Which I Leave My Warm House at 5 A.M. in the Dead of Winter and Jump Into the Pacific Ocean (Or: Scuba Certification Training)

Hubby decided now — ahead of our trip to Vietnam and Bali — was the time to pull the trigger on the scuba certification we’d been talking about since before our Tahitian honeymoon in 2010.

I resisted a little bit, only because of the significant expense (close to $1,000 for the pair of us), and time commitment: eight hours of online coursework, followed by two weekends of solid training in the classroom, pool, and open water. But far be it for me to deny hubby any bucket list-y item — and I’m always game for an adventure. Plus, if we want to be certified in time for our trip, it’s now or never, with nary a weekend to spare. (We’ve never been interested in getting certified while on vacation because we move around a lot and don’t want to waste precious few days on a short trip on training dives anyway.) So away we go. Continue Reading

Montage-Beverly-Hills-1
Los Angeles Living, Travel

California Dominates Conde Nast Traveler’s 2013 Gold List (Holler!)

Breaking news: Condé Nast Traveler has come out with its 2013 Gold List. Of the 510 places on earth named to the list, the United States claims 195 spots (oh hey) and California itself claims 29 (snap!) — more than any other state in the union. This makes me enormously proud, and also doesn’t surprise me even a little bit.

Among the properties new to the list is the Montage Beverly Hills (pictured above) — truly one of my favorite places in the area, with a special personal resonance (the site of my bridal shower, a pre-wedding spa day with hubby, and the place where my brother-in-law proposed to his bride). It’s also maybe the most luxurious and comfortable spa I have had the pleasure to visit (which is saying a lot, given my affinity, a.k.a. obsession, with gorgeous spas the world over). Continue Reading

Uncle Sam Victory Garden Poster From World War 1
Home, Los Angeles Living

How to Plant Your Own Winter Victory Garden

It appears that it’s de facto Guest Post Week over here at Homebody in Motion, and I’m pretty stoked about it. Yesterday, we had tips for estate sale shopping from Succor Estate Sales‘ Melissa Arnold, and today we bring you tips for planting a seasonal edible garden from Heart Beet Gardening‘s Sara Carnochan!

Heart Beet designs, installs, and maintains organic vegetable gardens and edible landscapes for private homes and communities right here in pastoral Los Angeles. And the company’s philosophy is that growing food should be both beautiful and productive — something we can all totally get behind.

Read on for tips for planting your very own victory garden from Heart Beet’s Sara, as well as for her own post-Thanksgiving planting process: Continue Reading