Lemonade in Los Angeles

I was at UCLA for a grad fair yesterday and had to pick a place for dinner to sit and wait out LA traffic. Now usually I'm not the biggest fan of LA--overcrowded, lack of pretty buildings, an overall feeling of being squeezed in tight like sardines--but the UCLA area is different from the rest of LA. This part of town, known as Westwood, is undeniably adorable. Most of the homes were built in the 1920s--probably America's most charming decade for architecture. 

(Apologies that I only had my camera phone with me!)

Once dinner rolled around, I decided to check out a spot called Lemonade which was recommended to me. 

If you find yourself in LA trying to wait out traffic like me, GO TO THIS PLACE! The food is described as "Seasonal Southern California Comfort Food," and that's right on the money. 

I'm definitely a sucker for healthy & tasty foods that use unique combinations to satisfy tastebuds (the Mexican salad on the far right used corn nuts in the mix as a special treat). Whatever you do, try the pineapple chicken, and then thank me later!
I believe this place is already well known in LA, but for those of us just visiting and unfamiliar, this is a must-go restaurant! A Lemonade will be opening in San Diego soon (yay!). Oh, yeah...and get the lemonade (I chose peach ginger, pictured above). 

Multiple Locations, but I went to: 

Lemonade Beverly
9001 Beverly Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048


A Three Sentence Movie Review

1. Gone Girl

A bit campy, but entertaining none-the-less. There are some twists from a very twisted couple indeed. You'll be a bit disturbed from it all, but maybe not overly impressed or wowed.

2. St. Vincent 

A lovely, unpretentious film that will make you cry like a little baby. Can you really go wrong with Bill Murray? No, and they've added a cute kid in the mix for good measure to make sure the tears stream down your face--this has gotta be one of the best movies of the year.

3. Liberal Arts

Nice to see Ted in a movie. I wish this film would have had 30 more minutes of character development to make it a real winner. Even though it falls slightly short, there are some sensational lines to takeaway here.

4. The Trip

Heavy dialogue gives great insight into the heart of the characters--two blokes traveling the English countryside on a food tour. It's interesting and fun to see the push and pull between Rob and Steve. This film goes deeper than the initial giggles over Rob's impressions; give it a go!

Images via 1/2/3/4


Love Your Fate

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly.  --Nietzsche 
I am infamous for being restless when my path is not clear and I am stuck in the "dark forest." I freakin' hate that forest. Amor fati, loosely translated as "love of one's fate," is about acceptance. It is the realization that the tough/hair-pulling/frustrating parts of life are as integral as the happy/butterfly-inducing/giggly parts of life. It's an obvious realization, but when you're in the belly of the beast, it's difficult to rest easy.

This is a time in my life of many unknowns. And while it sometimes gives me an ulcer, I also know that it's teaching me endurance.

Okay...so I am a stress case with an overly ambitious nature. A deadly combination, but also one that makes me strive for the great things. Still, I'm trying to learn to accept all the stations of my life, appreciate their role, and understand that it's all part of my grand story. I can be okay with that notion.

Love your fate!


Flashback to: London

Reading this article got me all nostalgic for LDN, so of course it prompted me to look through my photo archives. Man, sometimes I just really miss that city. It would have been a day like today where I would have layered my socks, buttoned up my peacoat, and walked those glorious London streets.

I used to ruminate, and even lament on how I had left London too early. I'm past that phase now as one realises that leaving is remedied by going back, which I can whenever I want to, really. But somedays, I miss the nuances of that quirky city. It's easy to miss a place the same way you miss a person--for the way it made you feel, for the way you fell in love with it.

You'll end up missing things that seem silly, like old windows and doors, cobblestone streets, and even freezing weather! You'll find yourself missing the good with the bad, a true sign that you really loved it.

I believe in not living in the past (this can be soooooo dangerous); but sometimes it's nice to pay homage to a city that changed my entire being. London, I'm thinking of you today. 


Favorite Thing Thursday

These are a few of my favorite things (this week)...

1. New Earrings: A friend made my cool new earrings! She's about to open an etsy shop, which I will post soon!

2. People Who Know Me: A friend sent me the picture in the middle because she knew it had Ashley written all over it. Makes me smile!

3. Cheese from Ireland: Cheese lovers will feel me here. This imported cheese is HEAVEN. Made from milk produced by grass-eating cows in Ireland and the difference is noticeable! You can get this at Costco, so g'head, give it a try!

...what's making you smile this week? 


7 Reasons Why this Californian Loves Texas

This was my third time 'round in Texas and every time I go, I like it! It's well known that CA and TX are almost complete opposites. We lie on different ends of the political and lifestyle spectrum; yet, there is something about Texas that I love. Here's 7 reasons why: 

1. Austin: If you're traveling to Texas for the first time, Austin is the best place to start. There's a reason you'll see bumper stickers proclaiming "Keep Austin Weird." Austin is different from the rest of Texas in ideologies, but the same in manners. 

2. Random Torrential Downpours: I love rain. Texas has awe-inspiring storms that just sort of happen. 

3. Houston's Pretty Cool, Too: About a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Austin, Houston makes for a great day trip with its soaring buildings and delightful crowd. 

4. Gas Prices: This Californian weeps at the sight of the super low gas prices Texans get to enjoy. WHY, CALIFORNIA, WHYYYYY?!?

5. Barbecue: Brisket from TX is pure and complete heaven: cooked to absolute perfection and worth the extra calories. Don't forget your sweet tea! If you are hanging around Austin, you must go to La Barbecue. MUST! 

6. The People!!!

I know at least two great people that live in TexasMy Zero (that's basically her name) and Linda. My Zero went to San Diego State with me (wayyyy back when) and moved to Austin for graduate school. It was a pleasure seeing her cute house, way of life, and pure bliss over living in TX. She made me pasta for dinner--as in, she actually made the noodles. Man, I love my Zero. 
Although this was the first time I met Linda in person, really I felt like she was an ol' buddy. Linda is even more charming, funny, and brilliant than you can imagine. We talked about the parallels in our family life and travel over Torchy's Tacos. She was kind enough to bring a certain familiar furry friend with her (or I begged her to). Thanks for coming out Linda! The invitation still stands for us to travel somewhere together (ANYTIME, please!). 

7. Bob is in Texas

Linda's baby, a.k.a. Bob, might have been my favorite thing in Texas. I follow Bob on Instagram (@bobthedogatx) and naturally was a little starstruck the first time we met. Bob, I love you.


For the reasons above, Texas keeps charming me (even if I resist). Who doesn't love some delicious barbecue with down-to-earth people, cute dog by your side? 


In the Right Direction

So I'm here in Austin on a work trip for my new gig--working for Across the Pond.

Looking like a complete and utter dork at St. Edward's University to represent Across the Pond!

ATP is a company that is funded by multiple UK universities to help students get over to the UK for graduate study. It is a free service for students and assists with the sometimes overwhelming process of getting and living abroad, from visa applications to researching programs. My job is to be a presence at grad fairs and enlighten the American public that, yes--you can go abroad for your Master's degree! It's been a joy working for a company I believe in, and while I'm only working part-time for them, I know deep down in my bones this is the right field for me. Whether I can continue full time with ATP or a company like it, I truly know this is where I belong.

Also, it's rather nice to be in Austin, traveling for work, eating BBQ, and visiting with blog friends. But more on that later...


The (Happy) Blues

I noticed the other day that I take/post a lot of pictures of the ocean. Even though I grew up by the water for most of my life, I'm still always amazed at its ability to calm my nerves, force me to realize my size compared to the vastness of the universe, and wash away any negative attitude. Baby blue, I really do love you!

Cheers to a relaxing weekend, friends...I know I'll go for a swim (it's still deathly hot in San Diego). 


A Three Sentence Movie Review

1. The Fault in Our Stars

This movie is absolute perfection. The script, the actors, the feelings, the tragedy of it all sinks into the pit of your stomach and sits with you for a few days. The book must be stellar if this is the movie adaptation of, frankly, one of the better fictional love stories I have ever witnessed.

2. Neighbors

The least juvenile Seth Rogen film I've seen--it even has some endearing/mature moments! Zac Efron takes his shirt off (like always). Of course, Seth still found a way to slip dildo jokes in there, but that's really the biggest offense (surprising!).

3. Jobs

This was okay. Maybe because when I watch Ashton Kutcher play someone I'm still well aware that I am watching Ashton Kutcher--sorry dude, but maybe you should stick to finding your car. Furthermore, the movie tries so hard to be really profound, which remains more trying than actually being.

4. Cafe de Flore

I'm really beginning to like French cinema; not because I'm trying to be alternative, but because France seems to be churning out some of the most introspective films in the game. I really got into Cafe de Flore's plot which is bursting full of emotions and symbolism and is a commentary on love in all its forms (familial to romantic). The end may be a little far out there for some, but won't take away from the overall effect from the film--a contemplation on what love is. 

Picture credits: 1/2/3/4


Flashback to: Rome

Found this old photo and felt compelled to post it because:

1. I love cappuccinos, and a cappuccino in Rome can't be beat.
2. I love Rome.
3. I can't help but laugh at my awkward modeling, which is a sort of half smirk/bad attempt at trying to be chic.
4. This picture (taken by my friend Sonja) captures the dark, interesting aesthetic of a crowded italian cafe, complete with grumpy owner who demanded from us "WHAT do you want?!?" That lady makes the best coffee I have ever had. In my life. All for the price of one Euro.
5. Did I mention I love cappuccinos?


Picture circa May 2013