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I Don’t Want To Be An American Idiot…So I’m Soaking Up All The Culture I Can In Vienna!

14 Sep

Vienna was such an unexpected surprise! Aside from Paris, this may be my new favorite European city. In fact, Vienna is almost like a smaller, German-speaking version of Paris. The culture is so rich in art, literature, opera, and history. From the baroque architecture of the zoo to the classical musicians performing in the parks, it is evident that the people take great pride in sharing their search for beauty with any willing observers.

On our first day there, we had to of course snap a few photos outside of the beautiful Opera house, even if our two days in Vienna didn’t quite give us an opportunity to see one of their incredible performances.

Afterwards we headed over to the Naschmarkt Market for our first taste of Vienna. We skipped the delicious ethnic food restaurants in favor of trying some of the dried fruits and oil-marinated, cheese-filled vegetables at the numerous delicatessens.

The market had such an eclectic mix of people there to pick up their weekly groceries, meet friends for a meal, or simply wander around the market looking for an adventure. I think that this graffiti on one of the closed kiosks sums up the quirky, artsy, youthful vibe of the market itself.

Amazingly, the spice collection at the Naschmarkt Market was even more diverse than the one at the famous Turkish Spice Bazar! Seeing all the exotic spices, fresh produce, and other fun ingredients made me want a kitchen to cook with them, or at least more room in my suitcase to bring the yummy goodies back to my own kitchen.

I absolutely adore this sign outside of one of the vendors at the Naschmarkt Market. Too cute!

These little Viennese Hummel figurines are the sweetest playthings ever! American children with their barbies and transformer toys are missing out on these adorable porcelain figures.

Watching a wave of nostalgia wipe over my mom’s face as soon as the clock chimed and the bird popped out of these cuckoo clocks was one of the highlights of the trip for me by far. It’s amazing how simple objects can bring people instantly back to a specific moment in time. There’s nothing quite like watching your mom become a little girl all over again!

When I first saw the bold mosaic work of this building, my initial thought was that it had to be a Gaudi building, but to my surprise St. Stephen’s Church dates back to the 12th century. While the tiled roof was a post-WWII upgrade after a fire, it still bears no connection to Gaudi.

I love the beautiful details of ancient European churches, and the ornate windows on this Gothic church were no exception.

As we were wandering back to our hotel after an exciting first day in the city, we stumbled upon these talented classical musicians setting up shop to share their art with anyone willing to take the time to listen. The taste and refinement of their music is such a far cry from the goofy street performers back in LA!

This spectacular wedding dress cake outside of Demel made my draw absolutely drop! It looks so real that it is near impossible to imagine anyone ever eating such a work of culinary mastery. It would break my heart to ever cut into a cake as spectacular as this! 

When I saw the perfect little frosting shoes, I knew that we would have to come back the next day to try something from the sweet geniuses at Demel. unfortunately the sweets did not live up to the extraordinary expectations that the dress/cake had ingrained in our imaginations. The Imperial Torte at Cafe Imperial far surpasses the desserts here (or anywhere in Vienna for the matter).

Other than the Imperial Torte, this would have to be my favorite thing that I ate in Vienna. It was perfectly charred pieces of octopus accompanied by tangerine segments and jicama wasabi rolls. Yum! It was the perfect salty-sweet-sour-spicy combination.

Just a short metro ride away from the city was the beautiful  Schönborn gardens. The curvaceous intricacies of the greenhouse and dainty landscape designs made me giddy as soon as we stepped into the park. 

Here’s a close up of the gorgeous architecture!

Just past the green house is the incredible  Schönborn Zoo. They had such incredible animals including Lesser Pandas (such a mean name) and nearly a dozen species of monkeys. Check out the beautiful Victorian architecture of the monkey habitat. It is the most stylish zoo I’ve ever seen!

I love this sweet image of two elephants fighting/flirting. I’ve never seen two elephants interact so intensely, so this was a real treat for me to observe. Don’t they look so in love ?

Even in Austria, german pretzels were all the rage. They sold these massive doughy treats throughout Vienna, so of course I had to snap a picture of this one that’s the size of my head for my pretzel-loving boyfriend!

 Here is the stately Schönborn Palace around which the green house, zoo, running paths, train, and play labyrinths revolve. The cheery yellow and vibrant colors make the place feel so joyous and carefree!

After climbing up the hill for about 10 minutes, we received this incredible view of the entire  Schönborn Palace grounds. So lovely! I simply could sit on this bench and stare out of the beautiful city all day.

Here’s a better look at the incredible view we had of the Vienna skyline. While we didn’t have a full day to travel out to visit the place where The Sound Of Music was filmed, this view seems pretty spectacular to me!

Vienna seems like such the perfect intellectual city. People simply sit around reading parks and cafes. It seems like the most whimsical, carefree way to live. Books beat TV and facebooking any day!

All good things must come to an end, so my Dad and I took a lovely even stroll through Vienna, soaking up all we could of the beautiful city. I love the way that the setting sun reflected off this gorgeous glass Palmenhaus restaurant.

Have you been to Vienna before? Did the city steal your heart as easily as it stole mine?

What I’m Loving Now: July 2012

24 Jul

Ass a follow up to my “What I’m Loving Now: June 2012” post, here’s what I’m loving this month! With so many websites and blogs releasing incredible new information daily, it’s impossible to catch everything, so here are my 10 favorite tidbits of the month. Enjoy!

10. This week’s DineLA deals got my craving some seriously good food. I’m talking sophisticated, savory meals, not the sweets that I so often cook up in my own kitchen. Easter LA’s round up of LA’s 20 most iconic dishes is the perfect way to keep treating my taste buds while trying to track down some of the city’s best fare. Two of the the highlights on this list for me are #7: Mozza Pizzeria’s butterscotch bundino, one of my favorite (and the richest) desserts in the city and #20: Jitlada Thai Resturant’s green curry, the dish that I’m most eager to try soon thanks to my obsession with any type of Asian cuisine.

9. This charming “Let’s Sleep Under the Stars” print from TheWheatField captures the true essence of the carefree attitude that summer elicits. The soft twinkling of stars and innocence of the red plaid tent illustrate the perfectly childish fun of summer camp, and show what all of us try to recapture each year as the temperatures climb.

8. This “You Know You’re A Food Blogger If…” list from Eat the Love cracks me up! While Not all 40 of these statements are true for me just yet, it’s good/frightening to know what’s in store for me in the future as I continue working on my blog. I think #20 just may be my favorite…or #10…it’s just too hard to choose!

7. I adore this sweet necklace from TagYoureItJewelry! The tiny pendant is sweet and pretty, but still simple enough to wear everyday.  It’s so refreshing to see romance jewelry without an abundance of hearts!

6. My mouth is watering simply from looking as this delicious Eton Mess Trifle from Sips and Spoonfuls. This trifle layers Middle Eastern rosewater and pistachio meringues with luscious strawberry whipped cream for a desert that looks decadent, yet tastes light and airy. This looks like the perfect end to any summer get-together! I can’t wait to ry out the recipe myself (as soon as I return from Europe that is).

5. I was so impressed by Wes Anderson’s latest indie flick, Moonrise Kingdom. Goose kindly gave into my pleas to go see the unconventional love story of two 12-year-old misfits who decide to run away together and eventually fall in love. We both walked out of the theatre in awe of how the two unlikable protagonists manage to have the audience rooting for them throughout the film. Equally impressive are the stellar performances by Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and the young new comers, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. The movie has been out for a few weeks, so try to catch it in theaters before it’s gone!

4. I am completely obsessed with Free People’s Indian Enchantment Dress! I wrote a post a while back about how I love Free People’s whimsical, boho-chic aesthetic and this dress is the perfect elevation into formal wear. The wispy, jewel toned fabric is the perfect anti-dote to boring, monochromatic prom dresses. I don’t have any idea what I could wear this dress for, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful!

3. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation recently released pictures of the duplex that Frank Gehry designed for the project. Gehry’s four-bedroom duplex is one of the 21 new additions to the ninth ward that he and 20 other leading starchitects have designed. PS the home’s new inhabitants chose the lavender color for their new home, not Gehry himself.

2. On Sunday I was lucky enough to witness an incredible feat of partner yoga while walking with Goose along Santa Monica beach. We saw over a dozen people engaged in this trust-based practice that ended with one of the partners in each of the pairs simultaneously lifting the other partner into a handstand. It amazes me how the yogis can have such a deep conviction in their partner’s ability to protect that they  are willing to attempt an already difficult pose while balancing upon another person. I was nervous about trying aerial yoga because I had to put my faith in fabric to support me, but by placing your faith in a fallible person takes trust to a whole other level.

1. I can’t wait to tryout the wonderful step-by-step tutorial for making my own dinosaur bookends from A Life Worth Living. The gold spray paint is such a chic update to classic children’s toys. I’m thinking of making them with zoo animals to hold up all of the books I’ll be reading as an English Major. Just a few weeks ago I decided to switch my major from architecture to English and Creative Writing, so there couldn’t possibly be better timing for this sweet literary DIY.

What I’m loving now: June 2012

17 Jun

This is a new series that I’m going to be staring. Every month I want to share with you 10 of the products, articles, recipes, or ideas that have struck my fancy. I hope you enjoy!

10. These shoes look super luxe but without the killer price tag. The Mona Mia Trinidad Woven Planform Heels are the perfect work shoe with a classic pencil skirt or great for a night out with your favorite jeans and a fun top. I think these vegan leather heels are the perfect way to update any summer look.

9. Check out these wonderful tips from Amy Pennington of Apartment Gardening on how to grow as garden even in an urban environment. I’ve never thought of growing my own lettuce, but after reading her advice, I think I’m going to give it a try!

8. 479° Popcorn’s Black Truffle and White Cheddar Popcorn is my absolute favorite snack right now. The air-popped treat only feels indulgent with its 70 calories per serving. The salty and umami tastes combined with the crunch of the popcorn make this the perfect way to satisfy any foodie craving!

7. Eminence’s Eight Greens Phyto Masque is AMAZING! It makes my skin look instantly brighter, cleaner, and more glowy. It uses a combination of organic ingredients to to promote cellular renewal, boost circulation, stimulate collagen production, regulate oil production and balance skin’s hormone levels, leading to healthier, clearer skin. I especially love that this Yucca-based mask uses all natural ingredients instead of the man-made chemicals in so many other facial products. 

6. Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest that’s on its way to becoming the first park of its kind with 7 acres of land just 2.5 miles from downtown Seattle. where people can relax and munch on fresh fruit and vegetables for free. This sounds like a genius way to target the nation’s obesity epidemic during the recession. Free produce plus getting active in the park sounds like a great way to improve anyone’s health. I hope that the trend of food forests catch on because I want one near me.

5. Abby Paloma is trying to connect New York’s yoga community with the farm-to-table food movement by hosting a series of summer yoga dinners at Growing Heart Farm in Wingdale where yogis pay $60 to tour the farm’s vegetable, herb, and flower gardens before taking an outdoor yoga class complete with live music and finally enjoying a vegetarian dinner made from the farm’s bounty. I think that this sounds like a genus way to capture the basic similarities of the yogic approach to living in the moment and being in harmony nature and the local farm movement’s emphasis on sustainability and embracing nature.

4. These Chocolate-Dipped Tea Bag Shortbread Cookies are a perfect addition to any afternoon.Dark chocolate covered shortbread is always delicious because of how the buttery cookie complements the bitter chocolate, but the shape of the cookie is really what makes them special. It’s such a great idea to turn a typical household item into an impossibly chic cookie!

3. We are Handsome’s Scoop Back Puppy One Piece is quite possibly the cutest bathing suit I’ve seen all season. While the $300 price tag is absurd, looking at the adorable puppy face is a sure way to make anyone smile. Who could help but love that adorable, oversize puppy face!

2.Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth created this 21 meter sculpture in German Duisburg as a reaction to local development. The Tiger and Turtle-Magic Mountain shows an impressive view of the surrounding area when visitors climb the winding roller coaster-esque staircase. The impassable loop forces people to turn  back halfway through the loop, but the obstacle makes them really think about the entire experience of the manual roller coaster.

1. This one  you can’t get yourself because he’s all mine. The number one thing I’m loving right now is my Dad. He’s the only dad cool enough to join a fantasy football league with my boyfriend, fly our family halfway across the country so that he and I could go see the incredible Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, and be in better shape than me or any of my sisters even in his 50’s (wow that man can do a lot of burpees!). My dad may very well be the coolest man I’ve ever met. He’s taught me how to appreciate good food, good movies, and good music. He’s taken my sisters and I to visit some of the magnificent places in the world to give us the type of cultural education that would be impossible to get simply by studying at home. If you’re reading this, I love you Dad! Happy Father’s Day!

TGIF with Adorable Animals

8 Jun

Silly me for making a strict deadline that I’m now scrambling to meet. As project manager for our class architecture project, I decided that we should all have our work finished by today, and now I’m the one to pay the price. I have to finish an entire elevation plan today so that over the weekend I can combine all of our plans and written documents to form a cohesive pitch. Over the past few days, the weather has been absolutely perfect so taking leisurely strolls with Goose, going to farmer’s market, and gardening have all seemed much more enticing than staying cooped up inside the architecture studio afternoon.

I don’t regret any of those things at all though! It’s life’s simply pleasures that make it worth living. If staying late to work on a glorious Friday afternoon is the consequence of spontaneously enjoying the little things in life, then it’s a price I’m happy to pay.

With the weekend only a few hours away, I know that it can be hard to stay motivated to keep working. I simply can’t wait for the weekend to start! I’m looking forward to going with Goose to watch his brother’s baseball team in a college playoff game, volunteering with Reading for Kids for the first time, going to a yoga class or two, and having sunday morning brunch then hitting up the local flea market with Goose. What do you have planned this weekend?

Well because tiresome work is unavoidable, I wanted to share some adorable animals with you to brighten your day. A smile or dose of laughter is scientifically proven to increase your productivity, so take a few minutes to relax and enjoy!

From The Bedlam of  Beefy

From Pixdaus

From X Stand Your Ground X Tumblr

From Animal’s Look

From The Berry

From Imgfave on Tumblr

From vi.sualize.us

From Hello World

From Imgfave on Tumblr

From I Can Has Cheezburger

From Piccsy

From Pix o’ Plenty

From Buzz Feed

From Dead Fix

From The Design Inspiration

From CuteCute.Us

From Cutest Paws

Happy Earth Day and Detoxifying Greens Soup

22 Apr

Happy Earth Day everyone! It seems like in today’s technological world that people have created remedies for everything, even that don’t need cures. Say for example, vitamins. Few people actually need to rely on man-made vitamins, if they simply eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. Today people have come to rely on vitamin-enriched gummies and cookies for their daily dose of nutrients instead of focusing on the real issue of how to incorporate naturally nutrient-rich foods into their diets.

Caramelizing onions and mushrooms

Greens in the process of wilting

Just one cup of kale fulfills the daily Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K requirements while also providing calcium, iron, protein, fiber, potassium, and many other important,naturally-occuring nutrients. The greek yogurt, lemon juice, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, garlic, and peppers in this soup further enhance its nutritional power.

Non-blended soup

Blended soup

So if you’ve had too much easter candy or indulged in too many baked goods lately, this is the perfect way to get your body back on track the natural way. Of course it’s still fine to take a daily multi vitamin, but try to begin getting most of your nutrients from whole foods rather than man-made compounds. This not only ensures that you get the most out of your meals, but it also is less invasive and wasteful of the planet’s miraculously nutritious foods.

Ready to serve

As a warning, this soup is not for the faint of heart. My mom and Goose looked at it, and could not believe that I was actually enjoying this green concoction. It’s made almost entirely of vegetables, and as a result it looks and tastes like vegetables. I think it’s delicious and comforting. This soup is a delicious combination of bitter, spicy, and tangy tastes.

Detoxifying Greens Soup

Adapted from Stetted

serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 
4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 bunches assorted greens(mustard, komatsuna, mizuna, beet greens, kale, or chard
), chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli, broken into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt

Directions

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic, onions, and mushrooms.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until onions take on a nice brown color, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and increase heat to just bubbling, then add the greens and the broccoli to the soup.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cover the soup. Allow it to cook until the greens have wilted, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Puree soup in a stand blender or with an immersion blender, and return it to heat.
  6. Stir in paprika, cayenne, and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.
  7. Just before serving, add a swirl of yogurt into individual bowls.

Santa Barbara Re-Cap

12 Apr

Over the weekend my family, my boyfriend, and I spend a lovely few days in Santa Barbara. We lucked out with the unseasonably warm weather. Santa Barbara is just a 90 minute drive from home, and the relaxed, beachy atmosphere makes it such a perfect escape from reality.

On our way there we took a brief detour to grab lunch and walk around Ojai, a town just twenty minutes away from Santa Barbara. Lunch at Suzanne’s is always a treat because beautiful sculpture and gardens fill the property of the bistro-inspired restaurant. Ojai also had great shops and a lovely park to walk around before getting back on the road.

In Santa Barbara we stayed at the wonderful Four Season’s Hotel, which is laid out in a breathtaking ranch style. Unlike Los Angeles where most hotels are about ten stories high, nowhere did this hotel exceed two stories. The expansive property of the hotel is full of winding rows of spacious hotel rooms and beautiful landscaping. We enjoyed the tastiest Easter Brunch here with a seafood bar, 10 types of pickles, omelet station, dessert display, and traditional breakfast fare. After Brunch the hotel had an adorable egg hunt, gardening station, candy bar, and array of games.

A few blocks outside of our hotel, we were able to walk to the quaint little street of Montecito, where there was a lovely nursery, delicious gelateria, a few nice restaurants, and a number of cute stores. It is the perfect place to go when we want something to do without the hassle of getting in the car and driving somewhere.

In Santa Barbara we walked along Sate Street, their main downtown shopping area with stores including Free People, Urban Outfitters, a record store, Nordstoms, Lush, the Gap, and many more. We also went into WhoDelicious, a whimsical cupcake store that is any child’s dream come true. The architecture around State Street was breathtaking with intricate old school ornamentation that combined the classic buildings of Downtown LA with Spanish flair.

While in Santa Barbara we also went to the Botanical Gardens, where we wandered around the crystal-clear lake, fields of fresh flowers, and forests of massive trees. Wandering through the massive open space made me forget about being so close to the city. It really was a wonderful escape!

Brighten Up a Rainy Day with Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax

17 Mar

If Southern California’s unusual rainstorm has you feeling blue this weekend, go see The Lorax in theaters. This is a wonderful flick for the whole family to go see because the underlying environmental message will attract adults, while the bright colors and cuddly characters will thrill kids of all ages.

My little sisters who had already seen the movie were sweet enough to go with me and Goose to see it again. I absolutely loved the movie because it brought me from laughing audibly to reaching the verge of tears all within its 95-minute duration. I’m embarrassed to say that I may have enjoyed the movie more than either of my little sisters, but its message of environmentalism stuck especially close to home with me.

Many moralistic children’s movies, like Happy Feet, overcomplicate the story so that young children loose sight of the moral of the film, but Universal sticks to Dr. Seuss’s simple plot without making it too complex for young viewers. Although the adorable creatures and vivid colors may distract people, there is no confusing in the movie’s ecological message. The movie clearly teaches viewers about the dangers of overconsumption, and need for everyone to work towards protecting nature. As the Once-ler tells Ted in regards to the state of nature and the planet’s wellness, “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”

For the movie adaptation, the writers added some new characters and built up the setting of the book, but overall it is a very accurate retelling of Dr. Seuss’s beloved book. The story focuses on Ted’s journey beyond the commercialized town of Thneedville to learn from the Once-ler how to get a real tree to impress his crush, Audrey.

Emma watering our freshly planted herbs

After seeing the movie, instead of going to eat some of the sugar-packed breakfast items from the Lorax-themed menu at I-Hop, head to a local nursery to get seeds or baby plants to grow your own garden. When the rain clears up get your kids, nieces/nephews, or friends involved in planting a garden of beautiful flower or delicious vegetables and herbs in the freshly-watered soil. In just a few months you will see have the satisfaction of enjoying the toils of your labor. Plus it’s fun to dig up some dirt and play around outdoors.

What do you do when the rain keeps you stuck in doors?