All posts tagged Los Angeles

Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

A Luxe Babymoon Staycation (Or Combatting the Summer Pregnancy Symptom Known as FOMO)

I often hear people talk about how awful it was for them, or must be for me, to be heavily pregnant in the summertime. And I generally disagree wholeheartedly—it’s been mostly fine! But there is one majorly uncomfortable issue with being pregnant in these hot months, and it’s not the heat. Here’s the real reason why summertime pregnancy is tough: FOMO.

Given I’m carrying twins—and big ones at that, about six pounds each (!!) at last measure—I outgrew maternity jeans weeks ago, and closed-toed shoes on my swollen dogs sound like torture. So, thanks especially to my wardrobe of flow-y caftans and maxi dresses from the likes of Rachel Pally and T Bags, being pregnant in the summer suits me just fine (notwithstanding that three-week period when our home AC decided to poop out, because: Murphy’s Law).

But there’s this: Summer is my jam. My husband has always said I have a solar battery, and I get totally charged when things heat up. I want to be everywhere, every weekend: somewhere far flung out of town, somewhere fab within driving range, or at the beach or hiking right here in L.A.

Now that I’m close to 36 weeks pregnant and using a motorized cart just to get around Target, aint none of that happening.

My best friends all planned a camping/July 4 party weekend in Northern California, and I gulped with—what was it? Envy? Longing? (Maybe acid reflux.) It would be the first time, pretty much ever, that I’d miss out on a trip like that. I even sort of half considered, “Well, maybe…” and then I’d remembered that these days I cannot actually turn over in bed without David’s help, or make it to the bathroom at night without using multiple pieces of furniture as crutches, or that I could go into labor any day. So even relentlessly, mercilessly festive me had to admit it was time to wave the white flag on that idea.

But! We had a plan. Read more…

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1930s kitchen remodel

1930s Kitchen Design: Before and After

File this one under B for better late than never — but since I’m on a remodeling-post roll, I’m inspired to share a couple of before-and-after photos from our 1930s kitchen remodel… which we completed two years ago.

I can’t overstate how much I loved this house when we first saw it. It felt so right. It was like that magical Say Yes to the Dress moment. Is this the one? Oh yes, gurrrl, this is the one. But I’ve said a hundred times before on this blog, the only thing not ideal about this house is its size, at about 1,350 square feet. (Fine for a couple, but not so much for growing into as a family.) The kitchen was among the rooms in particular that did not feel large, but part of the problem wasn’t actually the size itself, but rather the dearth of storage. There seemed to be just a few cabinets willy nilly, but nothing that maximized the space. Read more…

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Los Angeles Garage Office Conversion

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! Read more…

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1930s bathroom remodel

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.

Read more…

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Los Angeles Maternity Photography Shoot

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. Read more…

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Carthay Square Los Angeles 1936 Spanish Deco Tiled Bathroom

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. Read more…

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Yxta Cocina Mexicana

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. Read more…

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The Grove L.A. Lobby

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. Read more…

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Rainbow Over Catalina Island Scuba Diving Spot

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. Read more…

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photo(36)

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. Read more…

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