All hail the Indie Queen

I love how Jenny Lewis just grabs so pals, some colored backgrounds and makes a music video! Also digging the shout outs to her film credits. Enjoy!

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Mellow Vibes & Good Wine Served at Benchmark Eatery

I’ve been wanting to go to Benchmark Eatery for a while, but didn’t make the effort. Donned with the typical industrial look of contemporary restaurants along with the large self-serve carafes of water on the tables, it didn’t seem like anything extraordinary or intriguing. However, living in Santa Barbara and being a self-proclaimed foodie, I own an Axxess card. And, since my partner and I are leaving Santa Barbara to move to San Francisco (that’s a whole different blog post), we decided it was time to use our Axxess two-for-one deal at Benchmark.

We stepped in on a Wednesday, so it was fairly empty, which made the open layout feel extra spacious. We were greeted graciously by the hostess and seated immediately in a rustic-looking booth. The ambiance of the place is mellow with warm dim-lights and a farm-table-industrial touch. Next to our booth was a quirky marquee with the Leo Tolstoy quote, “If you want to be happy, be”, which connects back to Benchmark’s initials, B.E.

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While we waited for our food, we munched on their battered-and-herbed chickpeas, which are meant to replace bread baskets but are just as addicting. (I’ll definitely be trying to replicate them in my own kitchen!)

I ordered the grilled ahi with butter beans, roasted cherry tomotoes, over a bed of arugula and a garlic white wine soy sauce. It was delightfully savory while also being light yet filling—my favorite kind of meal. I broke all the rules and paired my ahi tuna with a S.B.C’s Etude ‘Lyric’ Pinot Noir. But it was worth it because the rich pinot complimented the flavorful dish very well.

Grilled Ahi & Pinot Noir

Michael, my boyfriend, ordered the pan seared salmon, with potatoes, and greens (zucchini, broccoli and asaparagus). I had a taste of the salmon, and it was good, but not particularly breathtaking. However, the greens were cooked to perfect crispness and are always a solid choice to pair with salmon. For his beverage he went with a Belgian-Style Telegraph Ale and he was into it, to say the least!

It was a lovely meal and I was pleasantly surprised by how filling and flavorful my ahi dish was. Would I go again? Probably not. The main dishes are around $20+ and, other than the ahi I ordered, nothing else seems all that interesting. I would recommend it to a first-timer though. The food is served well, the environment is relaxing and casual, and the experience was overall positive. If given the chance, I’d want to go back mainly to try their Dante’s Inferno cocktail, which is 100% agave blanco tequila, clément mahina coconut liquor, arbol chili, fresh lime, strawberry shrub. YES PLEASE!

Grilled Ahi at Benchmark Eatery

Pop-Up Magazine @ The Theatre at Ace Hotel

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On Sunday April 18, Pop-Up Magazine brought together 16 storytellers to perform at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown LA.

A live magazine created by the minds behind the California Sunday Magazine, Pop-Up Magazine fuses live stage performance with the styled storytelling now associated with podcasts such as This American Life and Radiolab. Most unique to Pop-Up is that each event is unique in and of itself—performers aren’t announced, nothing is recorded, nothing is filmed. It reiterates and roots itself in the intimacy of live performance, especially in an age in which everything is documented easily and neatly through a screen that fits in your pocket. In this way, the show on Sunday was an experience the attendees, performers, and I shared that will never be relived in the exact same way ever again. It is also for this reason that I hesitate to say too much. Nonetheless…

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The night’s stories took form in different ways, including, but not limited to, music, photography, documentary, and radio. As for content, it ranged from the lifespan of bees, to the history of pain, to Japanese cat cafès. The ebb and flow from hilarious to emotional, to informative, to slightly absurd, made the evening go by smoothly. From 7:30pm to close to 10pm, time flew swiftly across the voices of likes of the Kitchen Sisters, Dana Goodyear, and Alec Soth.

On stage with the storytellers was also the chamber orchestra, Magik*Magik Orchestra, which accompanied the stories and brought certain moments to life so well that it was easy to forget that the music wasn’t pre-recorded. Clear and impeccable in timing, the detail of the chamber orchestra cemented Pop-Ups commitment to the beautifully tangible form stories have the potential to take.

Although Pop-Up describes its performances themes as having no theme, on Sunday evening there was a theme that reverberated behind each story’s specific details, which was the fundamental human ability and need to endure and connect. I’m not going to get too philosophical about it since it is arguable that this ability and need is the reason any story resonates, but it is for this reason Pop-Up Magazine thrives—it blends a variety of media through the voices of some of the best storytellers around and brings to life the human experience in a globally relatable way.

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A few side notes, the show was sponsored by MailChimp, Moo, and GooglePlay and it should be noted that even the advertisements from these sponsors were told through creative storytelling such as animation and photography. Even more fun, at the end of the evening, the hosts invited the attendees to join the performers in the lobby for drink and conversation. Now that’s a Q&A I can get behind.

When I found out Pop-Up Magazine was coming to LA, I knew I’d be going. It’s fresh, innovative in how it presents itself, and wholly unpredictable in the same way. But perhaps what is most interesting about Pop-Up Magazine is despite (or perhaps because of) its alternative take on journalism, its appeal and power comes from its spin on the oldest tradition of them all: oral storytelling. And right now, in such a live and impromptu fashion, no one does it better than Pop-Up.

Top 5 Things to Do in LA This Weekend

Before I moved to Santa Barbara I was born and raised in Los Angeles. And while I love my beachside paradise, I really miss the creative culture scene that consistently thrives in LA. Luckily, my boyfriend and I occasionally take weekend trips down there, and when we do, we love dipping out toes in the local scene. Since I’m actually headed down there this weekend, I thought I’d share with you my 5 top art events to check out this weekend!

Pop-Up Magazine – The Theater at Ace Hotel

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Photo Credit: Pop-Up Magazine

When I heard that Pop-Up Magazine was having an event in LA, there was no question about whether or not to go. Pop-Up Magazine is a live-storytelling event that creates one-night-only performances from writers, filmmakers, and other storytelling creatives alike. Each performance is one-of-a-kind and never recorded, making each individual performance a unique yet shared experience among attendees and performers. Created by the brilliant minds at California Sunday Magazine, it’s the best kind of alternative journalism out there. Get tickets soon because they’re bound to sell out! (If you can’t make it, I’ll have a review up next week!)

LA Times Festival of Books – USC

Every year, bookworms in LA make a trip to their mecca—the LA Times Festival of Books. While you can purchase tickets to gain entry to special events, the festival, including outdoor programming, is free. With a variety of activities, plenty of food, and hundreds of authors, including T.C. Boyle, LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, anyone?), New Yorker cartoonist, Roz Chast, and many more, the festival will be a literary treat.

Mariah Robertson: Photography Lovers’ Peninsula – M+B Gallery

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Photo Credit: M+B Gallery

In her first solo exhibition with M+B, artist and photographer, Mariah Robertson took the rules and regulations of photo chemistry into her own hands and rebelled in the most beautiful way. By spilling, mixing, and disrupting darkroom chemicals, Robertson created visceral visuals visitors can enjoy while also sitting on some chic-looking bleachers (which were installed by Robertson, herself). Read more on her creative process with this project by clicking through the link. Exhibit is open until May 2, 2015.

From Pop to the Pit – LA Public Library

This historical photo exhibit celebrates the kaleidoscope that was LA music scene between 1978-1989. Depicting the shift in culture and fashion that took place during those years, the exhibit is bound to inspire you to wear a little more leather and use a lot more hairspray (glitter optional). Exhibit is open until June 28, 2015.

Trust in the You of Now – Space 15 Twenty

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Photo Credit: Urban Outfitters

Photographer and artist, Lani Trock, will open her “Trust in the You of Now” installation this weekend in the collaborative Space 15 Twenty. In Trock’s own words, the installation is “a meditation on identity and environment; how the spaces we choose to inhabit shape our sense of self, and how a temporary immersion in nature can facilitate a deepening of that internal connection.” With a focus on flora and comfort, it definitely sounds like the place to spend a chill Saturday. Installation opens tomorrow, April 17.

So there you have it. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but these 5 events really stood out as timely and interesting. Let me know what you’re up to this weekend and, if you’re in LA this weekend, let me know if you’ll be going to any of these! Keep it golden!

Living with Intention: A Work in Progress

“The writing life isn’t just filled with predictable uncertainties but with the awareness that we are always starting over again. That everything we ever write will be flawed. We may have written one book, or many, but all we know — if we know anything at all — is how to write the book we’re writing. All novels are failures. Perfection itself would be a failure. All we can hope is that we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to fear of the unknown. That we will not fall prey to the easy enchantments of repeating what may have worked in the past. I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt — spectacularly, brazenly — into the unknown.”

—Dani Shapiro*

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Two weeks ago I wrote about how I’m trying to practice mindfulness to revive my creative self and I’m doing so by spending my time intentionally. However the goal as expanded and evolved into a process of becoming the best person I can be. It sounds trite but I am really pushing myself more than I ever have. I’m running 5k three times a week, I’m learning accounting when I’ve never thought of myself as a “math/numbers person” and I am also rekindling my affair with literary giants, by which I mean I’ve started voraciously reading fiction again. I just finished Walter Mosley’s Devil in A Blue Dress and am now reading Samuel Beckett’s Three Novels: Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable with a side of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel. 

It’s going well, but it’s also challenging, especially working full-time and maintaining a social life. Nevertheless, I feel capable, clear headed and motivated to keep going. It’s exciting being on the brink of potential and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from the experience.

As for creativity specifically, I’ve been planning a photography series and I’ve also started writing fiction and poetry in short bursts. I’d like to work toward writing more consistently but fear of failure has always been a hindrance to my creativity, which is why I introduced this post with the Dani Shapiro quote (I love the quote so much, I think I might print it out or write it somewhere to keep it with me as a pre-during-and-post-writing pep talk).

By pushing myself to do things I’ve never done, I am learning that I am greater than my fear and that limitations are just starting points toward greatness.

I’ll let you know how the rest goes.

*Quote Source: I found this quote on the wonderful, Brain Pickings, which, in addition to the quote, shares an interview Dani Shapiro has with Design Matters on writing, living a creative life, and living with presence. Click through the link to listen. It’s well worth your while. 

Rediscovering My Creative Passion Through Mindfulness

Don’t consume—create.

I’ve been repeating this phrase to myself for the past few days. After becoming aware of how much I “like”, “pin”, and thumb through the endless scroll, I’ve decided to create routines that push me to be mindful of what I’m doing and how I’m contributing to my self-improvement. I think creating is one of the greatest forms of self-improvement, whether you’re creating an app, a photograph or an essay. It’s a form of learning and I’m in the mood to learn more about myself and perhaps a craft. And while this self-imposed impetus has been a form of inspiration, it’s all been a source of anxiety. I want to contribute, I want to create, but what exactly am I creating?

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This question has me thinking about my interests and, more importantly, my passions, because I do believe creation stems from passion and how we wield it. As a way to reflect on this, I’m actively trying to lower how much I use my smartphone, especially in the morning. I now wake up half an hour earlier, and begin my day thoughtfully. I used to wake up and immediately start seeing what people were posting on Facebook, Instagram, etc….but now instead of spending my time with the internet, I start my day with myself and my goals for the day. It’s a routine that I plan on sticking with and improving on.

But I still haven’t answered the questions: What is my passion and what do I want to do with it? I’m not sure just yet but I’m going to continue working toward the answer while being mindful of the question. Or rather, I’m going to follow Rainer Maria Rilke’s advice, and I’m going to live the questions and see what happens.

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Local – Fourth of July Edition

Happy belated Fourth of July! I hope you enjoyed this past weekend’s festivities. I unfortunately had to work during the day, but come evening time, I was able to fit in a margarita, tacos, and fireworks! So, in the end, I think it was a pretty successful (though mildly hectic) Independence Day.

I started my day off at Good Cup, a local cafe, with a large Americano and the July/August copy of The Atlantic. Good Cup has recently become my go-to coffee spot before work. They always have great music playing and their coffee is well-served. I’ve only had the Americanos (they’re great!) but I hope to try out more of their menu items soon.

Good morning reads @ Good Cup

Work was crazy but I later met up with my boyfriend and family and we all got much-needed margaritas. We then went to La Super-Rica Taqueria (Julia Child’s favorite Mexican restaurant) and it was just what I had been craving. I really recommend the Chile con Queso as well as both the horchata and agua de jamaica. I actually ordered the latter as a dessert, it’s that sweet and refreshing!

La Super Rica has a simple menu loaded with authentic Mexican bites

La Super-Rica has a simple menu loaded with authentic Mexican bites

We tried watching the fireworks but it was so cloudy, so I unfortunately don’t have any obligatory-fourth-of-july-fireworks pictures. Instead, here’s a picture of my evening at the park on Saturday. I needed the rest!

Anyways, I hope you all had a relaxing and festive weekend.

Have a happy Monday!

Listen: Ryn Weaver “OctaHate”

Ryn Weaver is a relatively unknown artist, but given how good this track is, that won’t be the case for long. Weaver, an NYC/LA-based artist, has been collaborating with the likes of Benny Blacno (“Teenage Dream”, “Tik Tok,” “Moves Like Jagger”), Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, and Charli XCX (this summer’s collaborator of choice), according to Mic. And it’s working out for her because I can’t get enough of this song.

“OctaHate,” currently the only track on Weaver’s SoundCloud, showcases Weaver’s rich vocals and a synth-happy background reminiscent of classic Passion Pit sounds. Throughout, the track transitions from rhythmic, melancholic verses to a full-blown anthemic chorus. It’s catchy as hell and definitely a perfect song for those summer drives along the coast.

Happy listening!

Here I Go

Beginnings are scary. As a writer, I find that trying to figure out how and where to start is the most daunting task of all. I’ll ask myself questions like, how do I entice the reader? Do I have an actual point? Or, worst of all, I’ll just do this later. But I’ve also discovered once I let go of the questions and actually begin, everything else falls into place.

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For a while now I have been wanting a place where I could write and create, a place that could nourish my thoughts and would push me to learn and explore. I took too long with the questions, wondering how to begin and what to say. But here I am. Finally starting.

So this is my place, my blog, where I will share anything and everything that inspires me, including music, food, miscellaneous think pieces, etc. This is a work in progress, so I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I’ve got ideas and I’m excited about them. As for the name of the blog, to be splendid is to be magnificent and isn’t to be inspired the most magnificent–the most splendid–thing of all?

That was kind of cheesy, but I had to.

Enjoy!