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Tuesday, July 26

Recipe: Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa

I didn't bother taking a photo of our dinner tonight, but it was delicious, healthy and filling. The tofu wasn't too spongy, which, in my humble opinion, is reason enough to rejoice! I despise soft, wet tofu. Just the thought of it makes me queasy. Ew. The recipe came from Vegan Yum Yum, a vegan website I discovered about a year ago. They even have an app! For the recipe, photos and more, you can click here. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 17

California by iPhone

Three weeks ago, Jonathan and I spent the week in our favorite city, Los Angeles. I blogged every day, and I hope to share those posts this week. To kick off the week of Cali-blogging, here are some random iPhone pictures from our trip...

Manhattan Beach Pier at night.

Margaritas! A veggie dragon roll and lettuce wrap from Whole Foods. You know how I am about salads...
Watching the fireworks from our spot on the sand...
A swanky chair and lamp in the lobby of The Belamar Hotel.
That sight still amazes me every time. I love the ocean so much.
We found FIVE sand dollars. I'm pretty sure I've only found one or two in my entire life.
An awesome Deco theatre in Long Beach.
Jonathan turned 32 and drank from a coconut, all in the same day.... He loves coconut water but not coconut meat.
More of the swanky lobby decor at The Belamar Hotel.
It's blurry, but I love this old sign so much.
The beach is this way...
A palm tree at sunset in Hermosa Beach...
Hermosa Beach at sunset...

Looking very serious...way too serious to be eating chips and salsa on the beachfront. Oh yeah, it was the last night before we came home. No wonder. :)

Thanks for letting me reminisce for a moment. It's been a week of ups and downs, and I needed that.
Stay tuned for more...

Friday, July 8

Jonathan's 32nd Birthday

This post marks the end of my beach vacation blogging. Posted on August 1, 2011, it is dedicated to the memory of a dear friend and blog reader who passed away far too soon. He never forgot anyone's birthdays, and he always said such nice things about my silly ramblings. You will always be missed, Harold. We love you.
Jonathan's birthday coconut at Number Nine, Long Beach.
The five sand dollars we found on our trip. Retro Row, Long Beach.
The view from our table at the Gum Tree Cafe'.
Pretty flowers at Gum Tree.
More pretty flowers at Gum Tree.
My sweet birthday boy with our yummy breakfast.
Gum Tree Cafe', Hermosa Beach.
Hennessey's, Hermosa Beach.
The Poopdeck, Hermosa Beach.
Hermosa Beach.
Awesome onesies, Hermosa Beach.
Today we had another lazy morning. Slept in a little, then walked down to this adorable cafe' on Pier Avenue called Gum Tree, where we had the most wonderful breakfast of salad greens (yay) and apricot preserves/Brie sandwiches. Delicious. The cafe itself is truly inspirational - it's a 100-year-old Craftsman bungalow (it turned 100 on 7/7, Jonathan's birthday!) that is painted pale blue with tons of white trim and hardwood floors. There's even a neat little Gum Tree shop next door. Very cute indeed. It also doesn't hurt that the owner was a very nice Aussie who stayed at First Congo about 15 years ago and spoke fondly of Memphis. After breakfast we walked to Redondo, and we found tons of pretty shells in literally every color. We also found two sand dollars (we would find three more the next day)! Jonathan is really starting to enjoy getting in the ocean, which makes beach walking a lot more fun. After our walk, we spent several hours on Retro Row in Long Beach. There are tons of great vintage shops there (massive amounts of dead stock - truly incredible), and we found several more treasures (t-shirts for Jonathan and an embroidered Mexican dress for me). All of our walking made us hungry, so we stopped for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant on Retro Row called Number Nine. It was delicious. We had spring rolls wrapped in lettuce and herbs, and these great veggie and noodle bowls. Mine had the most wonderful tofu I've ever eaten on it, plus fried onions, cilantro, carrots, cucumber...you get the picture. So, so good, but we made a huge mess eating tiny noodles with plastic chopsticks. After our second great meal of the day, we headed back to the beach, walked some more and enjoyed a cocktail at an old bar on the Strand called The Poopdeck. They had this incredible collage of vintage Poopdeck shirts on the wall. The graphic designer in me wished for my camera, which I didn't bring...naturally. Dinner was at Jonathan's favorite pub, Hennessey's, where his food was on the house (Thursdays are birthday days). We ended the day with a walk on the pier and the dream of what life could be out here. The beach cruisers, the after work runs on the beach, the FOUR vintage VW buses we saw within minutes of each other... Life is good here. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Long Beach and Hermosa Beach

Thursday, July 7

Going Home

Photos from Olde Town Orange in the OC.
Today we headed to a new part of the OC, Orange. As soon as we pulled into Olde Town Orange, I felt like I was back in the South. OTC has the second-highest concentration of houses and businesses built prior to 1920 in the state of California. There were tons of antique stores, many of which were quite pricey, but Jonathan and I enjoyed the amount of Civil War relics that were available for purchase. Talk about irony. The highlights of the trip were Elsewhere Vintage, where I scored three very cute dresses, and The Filling Station, where we ate lunch. The whole afternoon was like going back in time. Apparently a lot of movies have been shot there, including That Thing You Do. After checking out some affordable (by L.A. standards) neighborhoods in Orange, we headed to Cerritos. A trip to Los Cerritos Center and a tour of my grandma's newly renovated house almost made us miss our trip to the cemetery. We arrived with three minutes to spare, and Jonathan told the guard we were visiting all the way from Memphis. I think the guy was a little skeptical, but he let us in. Afterwards we drank margaritas (again) at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the entire world, Don Jose. I was happily surprised to learn the first Don Jose opened in Orange on 7/7/72 - seven years before Jonathan came into the world. We concluded our night with a walk around the old neighborhood. It was hard to leave Cerritos. I'm so sad about that part of my life coming to a close, but now I just need it to be behind us. It gets harder and harder every trip. The house looks amazing though. I really hope someone who will love it the way we have will come along soon. It deserves to have 40 more years of wonderful memories. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location: Orange and Cerritos

Wednesday, July 6

Vintage Hunting and Margaritas by the Beach

We were sad to leave our beloved Belamar today, because it basically marks the halfway point of our trip. Have I mentioned that I don't want to leave, and the trip isn't over yet? Today featured a drive to Echo Park, the home of Dodgers Stadium, to look for vintage goodness. I found two awesome purses but not much else. Apparently too many people love vintage here. Some of the highlights - Flounce Vintage, Tavin Vintage and the Silver Lake Goodwill. My biggest complaints: way too many "used" clothes and WAY too many costumes.... The evening was capped off with dinner on the beach with one of my favorite people from Memphis and my former life at Chandler Ehrlich, Shalishah Franklin. Shalishah grew up in L.A., and she just made the move back out here in May. It was great to catch up with her and hear that she's living her dreams. She has further inspired and motivated us to live for the moment and to take the time to truly enjoy life. Thanks, SF, for sharing your journey with us. The margaritas and band weren't bad either. :) - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location: Silver Lake, Echo Park and Hermosa

Beach Life

Very blurry iPhone photo of Hermosa Beach on July 4, 2011.
Our nice spot underneath the volleyball net. Whole Foods' salad.
The veggie dragon roll and a lettuce wrap.
The South Bay area.
The Finding Roses Blouse I scored at the El Segundo Anthro on the 4th.
July 4th is always a special holiday, but Californians take their patriotism to the next level. I'm talking red, white and blue tutus, body lights, hats and sunglasses. It's crazy, but it's crazy in an awesome way. For our 4th, we trekked across Sepulveda Blvd to an outdoor shopping center with an Anthro, Banana Republic, J. Crew, World Market and Whole Foods. I found two shirts on sale at Anthro (one of which I almost purchased the day before - now on sale - yeah!), and a beach blanket and my favorite English candy at World Market. Then we ate lunch at Whole Foods - yummy salads, lettuce wraps and my first veggie dragon roll. So good. After a healthy lunch, we were in a swimming mood, so we went down to the pool for some late afternoon sun and some laps. The day was capped off by a walk down to Manhattan, and then down to Hermosa to watch the fireworks, which were shot from the Redondo Beach pier. Jonathan and I sat on our brand-new beach blanket, almost underneath a volleyball net so we didn't get trampled. Silly kids kept shooting off fireworks behind us, but other than that, it was really nice to stare up at the stars, the fireworks and PV with our toes in the sand. They weren't the best fireworks I've ever seen, but the atmosphere was top-notch. And, I really love the long walk from Hermosa to Manhattan. It's great for people/house/beach cruiser watching! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location: Hermosa Beach, California

Monday, July 4

Beautiful Day

The Mucho Margaritas. Yum!
Remaining photos taken in Palos Verdes Estates, California - July, 2011
Few things are as nice as waking up, showering and then walking a few miles to the beach. The air is "cold" by Memphis standards, but it is refreshing and free of the dreaded humidity that makes you sweat. After walking along the shore, we swam a few laps in the hotel pool. It's shaded, so I didn't have to worry about the sun. I was reminded of how much I love to swim and why we need to go to the DeSoto DAC every once in a while. It's great exercise, and it completely clears my head. The afternoon was spent driving down to the OC to Fashion Island and a few disappointing vintage stores. FI Anthro was also a rare let-down, but perhaps I'm holding out for better vintage. We saw so many awesome vintage cars and beautiful early '60s VW buses in mint condition (three of them!). We ended the day by driving up to my mom's childhood home of Palos Verdes to watch the sunset. My sentimental mind loves driving the same streets that my great-grandmother once drove in her Cadillac. We try to go up there every trip to take in the natural beauty. There's a brand-new Trader Joe's in PV, so we were able to enjoy a sushi roll as we watched the sun sink into the Pacific. What is it about the ocean? I cannot get enough of it. Jonathan and I walked back down the pier once we returned to Manhattan, and we marveled at it together. The waves were quite rough, and the sea spray was hitting the pier. The water was dark and ominous but so soothing. Dinner came late at a new, hip restaurant called Mucho, where we drank fresh margaritas and dined on vegan enchiladas (with coconut cheese - delicious!) and pan-fried sole (with cilantro mashed potatoes - also very yummy) and walked back to our hotel in the dark. It's very nice to feel safe at night, and it was good to walk off all that food. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Manhattan Beach, California

Saturday, July 2

Touching Down

Day one of our seven day trip to Los Angeles.
The Manhattan Beach pier at night.

The awesome blue chairs in the lobby of the Belamar Hotel.

It never gets old. It's only been two months since I was here, and my heart is just as happy as if it has been years. For all its negatives, it still feels like home. Even from a hotel room. This is the first trip in my almost 28 years of life where I will not be staying at my grandma's house. I'm okay with that, although I'm not sure where this sudden strength is coming from. Maybe it really is time to let go and move on. Jonathan and I are staying at the swanky Belamar Hotel in Manhattan Beach. Since landing at LAX, we've already made a trip to TJ's, and a trip down to the water is next on the itinerary. Why are we here? That is a question even I don't know the answer to. We were all set to go to Charleston and Savannah, and the plans just weren't coming together the way they should. And now here we are.

I didn't take my camera to the beach that first day, so I borrowed the top three photos are from my April 2011 trip.