Friday, October 26, 2012

Saturday Review: Our Last Day!

When Chloe and I made the decision to go to Los Angeles, I called Susan to ask for any suggestions she might have of things to do and places to go.  I was thinking shopping and eating locations because that is how my idea of a vacation works.  Food and stuff.  That's a vacation, right?  She suggested one restaurant, one museum, one observatory, and a hike.  Learning and exercise on vacation?  That's different, but I decided to take her up on it, and Tony was thrilled to find out we weren't going to shop for the entire 72 hours we were there.  First thing Saturday morning, we got up and headed to Runyon Canyon for a hike. 
 
The weather was perfectly chilly and cloudy to guarantee we wouldn't melt or burn-  Two vital requirements off this treadmill runner's exercise list.  It was steep.  And dog filled.  And SO much fun.  It was also great, for the first time in my life, to be in shape and not have to worry about dying on the climb!
 
Chloe and me at the beginning of the hike.

Chloe running a flat part!

Beautiful views of the city!
(Yes, a sunny day would have made for a better picture, but the cloudy day did better for us!)

From the top

Ok.  Let me explain.
Tim has a bad leg so he decided to bring a walking stick. 
A walking stick that was a mop in a former life.
And that doesn't explain why my VERY thin brother looks like he weighs 200lbs in this picture.
 
 
 
After we got done with the hike, we headed for coffee, hot chocolate, and showers.  We ate breakfast and headed to Justice.  So Chloe would stop asking.  Three hours later, we left.  Okay, it wasn't really three hours, but have you ever been to Justice?  It feels like a Black Hole.  Well, not a Black Hole.  More like a Neon-Welcome-to-the-80s Hole.  Chloe did a very nice job of making a few reasonable selections, and we left about an hour later.  (I also discovered that I can wear Justice's size 18.  Not sure why I am mentioning that, but there it is.)

Chloe.  At Justice.  With a C pillow on her head.
 
 
After enduring shopping at Justice, we headed for lunch at Cafe Gratitude.  Susan suggested this vegan restaurant as some place I might enjoy.  I was thrilled with the idea, and I couldn't wait to try it.  And, I was certainly pleased with the trip!

Our starter- homemade guacamole with homemade flax crackers.
I don't normally eat flax, but the waitress recommended these, and I couldn't resist. 
Definitely yummy!

(A photo aside:  I am not the only person who leaves the little plastic cover on her cell phone. 
Ha.  So there, Tony!)

This is not a picture of Tim and Susan.  This is a picture of Antonia from Top Chef.  I know she's not a celebrity to everyone, but I was beyond excited!  (And, no, I didn't talk to her.  And, yes, this is the only stalker picture I took.)

My meal: I am Awesome.
 
That's really what's it is called, and it is the perfect name.  I struggled for a while trying to decide what I wanted to order.  My default options were Mexican or something quinoa based because you can't go wrong with those.  At the last minute, I decided, "No!  I will not order something default-y!"  I looked over the menu again, and that was when I saw Awesome. 
 
From the menu:I AM AWESOME Herb-cornmeal crusted eggplant parmesan on grilled Panini bread with marinara sauce, cashew ricotta, sliced heirloom tomatoes, arugula and basil. Served with a side salad 11 Add hemp seed pesto 2
 
I knew it had to be Awesome because it's forbidden.  I'm allergic to cheese.  I've avoided all cheese-potential foods for 15 years.  BUT, this place is VEGAN.  There is NO cheese.  I didn't even have to ask the waitress to double check.  There.  Is.  No.  Cheese.  "Yes, Ma'am, Give me Awesome!"  And it was perfect.  And yummy.  And non-migraine causing.  Awesome!  (I understand that those of you without allergies or weird dietary things can't understand these emotions, but for those of you who can, you get the euphoria!)

Chloe and me at Cafe Gratitude.  Me wearing the scarf that Aunt Susan let me borrow, and I took home as my own.  Thanks Aunt Susan!  (She said I could!)

#bestlicenseplateever

 
 
We left Cafe Gratitude and headed to LACMA.  Much to my surprise, Chloe was absolute that she was going to LACMA.  I'm not sure she's ever been to an art museum, or any museum.  She wasn't interested in the observatory, but she was going to LACMA.  Ok.  So we went.  And we loved it.

Levitated Mass with Uncle Tim.

Look how strong she is!

Chloe in the artsy spaghetti.  I don't "get" it, but she loved it.
(She's sporting her orange membership badge, because all children under the age of 18 can be members for free.)

Americana art.  Didn't catch the exact name, but you should be impressed with the picture.

This is Metropolis II.  The whole reason for the visit. 
Very cool.

Aunt Susan, Chloe, and Uncle Tim

We left LACMA (too early according to Chloe; too late according to the LA parking authority) and headed back to Tim and Susan's to change for dinner.  One of their favorite spots is Nook. and Chloe and I were excited to try it.
The restaurant is located in the back corner, or nook, of a strip mall.

Hot boiled peanuts come to the table while you wait. 
They were yummy, but rural Georgia has them beat!

For dinner, I ordered roasted squash and chickpea stew with a side of roasted cauliflower. 
 
The stew was so good, but the roasted cauliflower was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  Had I know it was going to be that good, I would have gotten 2 orders.  So good.  I'm a cauliflower lover anyway, but it was so, so good.  I would have taken a picture, but one bite in I was obsessed with eating it.  Very good.  Booking my next reservation now.  After we finished our entrees, the waiter (a super friendly, super helpful waiter!) brought the dessert menu.  The ladies took one look and new what had to be done. 
 
We had to head back to Sprinkles because sometimes you just need a cupcake.  Or two nights in a row, you need a cupcake.  And, this time with did the Sprinkles ATM.  A cupcake in an ATM.  The perfect marriage.

My turn.

Making my selection.
 
Waiting for delivery!  (In the screen is the ATM cam!)

Vegan Red Velvet Success!!
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Awards!

I thought we should take a little break from our trip review to celebrate Chloe and Carson and their hard work.  They were both on High Honor Roll which is all As for a quarter.  This is Carson's 5th quarter in a row with straight As, and after much hard work, Chloe's first High Honor Roll.  Congrats to them both!  (and to Camilla, but 1st grade doesn't do honor roll.)


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friday's Review: Croissants, Cupcakes and Chloe!

Friday morning, my body decided that it was wide awake at 3:15.  That was a little earlier than I had intended to get up, but it was no big deal.  I stayed in bed for another 4 hours and pondered.  You know I like a good ponder!  When Chloe finally got up, we got ready and waited for Uncle Tim to meet us at 9:00.  Of all things, the hotel has a Foosball table, and Chloe completely destroyed me.
 
For all Chloe's amazing traits, remembering to brush her teeth is not one of them, so I had to take this picture to prove to her Daddy that she did get them brushed.
 
After Uncle Tim arrived, we headed back to the Farmers Market for my favorite Los Angeles breakfast- almond croissants!- and then we went back to the Grove for some focused shopping.
 

For reasons unexplainable to me, Chloe doesn't like croissants.  She settled on one of Bob's favorite donuts.  (Bob's is the name of a restaurant.  Not an homage to my Dad.)

Ah- the almond croissants!

Yummy!!

Chloe and me at the Grove.
 
We finished breakfast and headed to the Grove for some shopping.  We wanted to go to American Girl to get something for Camilla, and then, it was time for Chloe to spend some of the money that was burning a hole in her pocket.  About 45 minutes after we got to the Grove, Chloe discovered that there isn't a Justice there.  For those of you who aren't familiar, Justice is the tween clothing store, and she had to go there (which we worked into the Saturday plan).  She did manage to keep herself busy while I shopped...

In Crate and Barrel, she discovered a chair named after her.

And, at Nordstoms, she tried on hats and found clothing named after her.

The Farmers Market clock tower.

The Grove's trolley.

View from the Trolley.
 
 
After we finished shopping, we headed to Uncle Tim's place so he could get ready for work, a movie showing, and we could get ready for dinner with Aunt Susan!  This was the first time for either Chloe or me to see their place, and I couldn't get over how gorgeous it is.  Looked like a page from a magazine.  Aunt Susan is definitely going to be on our no-mortgage-new-home design team!

There is also a weird cutout in the wall which Chloe decided to decorate with herself.
 
 
After Aunt Susan got home, we discussed the meal game plan.  Chloe desperately wanted to visit Sprinkles' cupcakes so we decided to have dinner in Beverly Hills to make sure we didn't miss the cupcakes!  I'm a huge fan of Mediterranean food- ok, I'm a fan of food, but that's beside the point- so we headed to Momed for dinner.

I started with Vegan Lentil Stew.  It was all kinds of yummy.

Aunt Susan suggested these super yummy"Momo" chips. 

And, I had falafel.  I LOVE falafel.  LOVE it.  I have a falafel obsession.  I probably need a 12-step program.   I really like falafel.  And, it's just awfully fun to say "falafel."  (Get it?  awfully fun to say falafel?)
 
 
After we finished dinner and had discussed everything from divorce to successfully committing a crime (seriously, this is what we talk about when Uncle Tim isn't with us!), we headed to the Promised Land- Sprinkles Cupcakes!  It lived up to Chloe's every expectation.

We had to get the souvenir t-shirt.  I'm not going to comment on the $43 price tag that accompanied the t-shirt.  Beside, that smile is worth every penny!

The treasure box!

The treasure:
Chloe's caramel apple ghost cupcake, Aunt Susan's dark chocolate cupcake, the sad empty space, and my vegan red velvet cupcake.

I love LA.  I could easily be vegan in LA.  Anywhere that has vegan red velvet cupcakes this good could be my home.  Wonder if CAT has any operations in LA???

My artsy photo- see the "Sprinkles" in the glass?
(You might not be an artist if you have to point it out!)

My sweet girl with some sweet treats!
 
After we finished up our cupcakes, we decided to drive around to see some of the sights.  We drove Rodeo Drive and then we headed towards LACMA- the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  We knew we were going there on Saturday, but they have an amazing display of street lamps that is illuminated at night.  It. Was. Gorgeous.


 
 
We got back to Tim and Susan's place shortly after Tim arrived home from work.  We spent the rest of the night laughing and chatting.  I'm fairly confident that Chloe's never been up until midnight talking to grown-ups, but we all had a great time!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Getaway Review- Thursday!!

Well, we should probably start on Wednesday because that's when everything got interesting.  I sat down Wednesday morning to print off our boarding passes.  As I was on Copa's website, I saw that you had to read and click the rules about leaving Panama.

When I did, I realized that I didn't have the required Spanish translations for Chloe's birth certificate.  I knew they needed the birth certificate, but I had no idea I was supposed to have notarized translations.  Cue panic.  I called Tony, and he immediately called our attorneys.  That was noon.  At 3:30, the attorney's office delivered what we needed to Tony at work.  Cue relief.

Thursday morning, we got up at 5:00 to be ready to leave at 6:00.  Our fabulous neighbor came over at 6 to send the kids to the other neighbor's house for a ride to school and to stay with the baby until my household helper arrived. 

We had no problem getting to the airport and were soon in the line for security.  Fortunately, we had exactly what we needed, and we made it through relatively smoothly.  By 7:40, we were waiting at our gate for the 9:40 flight.

Our snacks- wanna guess who got what?

Me and Chloe- waiting to board!

Chloe with her first purchase- a neck pillow!

Lunch is served- Chloe had the kosher option.

My fruit meal.

The snack- the sandwich on the left is the normal snack.  The rest of the food is Chloe's kosher snack.


The flight left on time and just a few 6.5 hours later, we landed in Los Angeles!  Unfortunately, LAX needs some serious customs lessons from ATL.  We did finally get through it all and found Uncle Tim!  He drove us to the hotel, and we got our first glimpses of the sights of the city- including the Hollywood sign.  Chloe was enthralled!

Uncle Tim and Chloe outside the airport!

My picture of Chloe taking pictures on the drive to the hotel.

CBS studios across from the hotel!

The parking meters accept credit cards.  I love it!

At the hotel- the Farmer's Daughter!
 
Because our time in the city was so short, we decided not to rest or regroup.  We checked in to the hotel and immediately walked across the street to the Farmers Market and The Grove for some shopping.
 

Uncle Tim and Chloe.  And a scarecrow.  At the Farmers Market.

The Vegan cookbook section at Barnes & Noble.  B&N was quite the highlight for Chloe and me.  She was gitty with excitement at all the books in English, and I was thrilled to finally get to flip through some of the vegan cookbooks I've been eyeing on Amazon.

Outside Cheesecake Factory and the movie theaters.

Movie premiere!

Aunt Susan joined us just as we were finishing up at Barnes & Noble.

My amazing sister-in-law and the best big bro EVER!  Tim and Susan- I love these two!

Cheesecake!  I was thrilled to remember that pumpkin cheesecakes come out in October. 
(Obviously, I'm not completely vegan!)


After dinner, we walked back to the hotel.  It was about 9:45 when we said goodnight to Tim and Susan.  After almost 19 hours of travel and fun, Chloe and I were ready for bed!

Rubber duckies in the hotel pool!