Enter the World of King Louie XIV on Ovation’s New Series, Versailles.

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(*Special thanks to Ovation TV for sponsoring today’s post! All opinions are my own.)

As Michael and I continually try to narrow down the itinerary for a a “two week-ish” European trip in the near future, one country is definitely staying on the bucket list: France. While there is the obvious, four letter reason why I want to experience it (Wine), I am also fascinated with the rich history to explore and get lost in.

Along with The Louvre and visiting Monet’s home, I am intrigued to at last go between the walls of The Hall of Mirrors at The Palace of Versailles. The château built for King Louie XIV in the Île-de-France region of France, it lays only about 15 miles from Paris, and well, who would NOT want to say they have been here??

For those of us who cannot walk through this mansion on a hop, skip and a jump, can at-least dive into the world of King Louie XIV and revisit the 17th century in Ovation TV’s newest drama, Versallies. Premiering October 1st, Versailles captures the romance, drama and betrayal that surrounds The Sun King as well as showcasing the beauty in the high society of that time. Having adored The Tudor’s back in the day, this is certainly a welcomed return to the era on television! From their web-site:

“At 28, King Louis XIV of France commissions Versailles, the most beautiful palace in Europe, which serves as the King’s gilded prison – keeping his friends close and enemies closer.

Enter a world of untold wealth, power, and passion. Where love and lust are just a heartbeat away from deceit and betrayal.

Experience Versailles in all its brutal glory. Only on Ovation.”

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From homosexual affairs to infidelity, Versailles will capture every nook and kranny that went down in The 17th Century leading up to The French Revolution.

Some other cool facts I came across…..

In the 19th century the “Museum of the History of France” was founded in Versailles, at the behest of Louis-Philippe I, who ascended to the throne in 1830.

The Hall of Mirrors is easily the most famous room. It has 17 huge mirrored arches opposite 17 windows. Each one of the arch contains 21 mirrors, which makes it a massive 357 in all. The hall is 73 meters (239.5 feet)  long, 10.5 meters (34.4 feet)  wide, and 12.3 meters (40.4 feet) high. The ceilings of the hall have intricate paintings and the borders of the wall are decorated with gilded statues. The several glass chandeliers that hang from its ceiling, are another beautiful aspect of the hall. On special occasions, the Hall of Mirrors was lit with as many as 20,000 candles to transform it into a “corridor of light”.

The Palace of Versailles cover an area of 8,150,265 square meters (87,728,720 square feet), or 2,014 acres, making it the World’s Largest Royal Domain.

The palace itself contains 67,002 square meters (721,206 square feet) of floor space.

The Versailles is OPEN to the public and you can plan your visit HERE.

If you are as excited for Versailles as I am, make sure you have Ovation! If you don’t, use the area locator search bar on their official website to find out how to get it!

Versailles premieres Sunday, October 1st, at 10pm ET/PT.

 

 

 

 

Support Friends of Griffith Park at Nordic Noir LA!

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On September 25th, join me at The Greek Theatre for Nordic Noir LA, a one-of-a-kind benefit for Friends of Griffith Park, a non-profit charitable group, at the Greek Theatre here in LA! This world-class concert is hosted by internationally recognized film composer Jacob Groth and the Danish Film Harmonics as they offer the LA community an opportunity to experience the acclaimed soundtrack for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Come and take part in the effort to conserve our beloved city’s environment and urban wildlife. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Concert begins at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are selling fast HERE.

I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to interview Groth, and learn a bit more about himself and his incredible music career.

Can you tell me a bit about life growing up in Denmark? Whereabouts do you hail from?

I was born in Copenhagen,grew up with 2 younger brothers, and 3 kids from my fathers first marriage.

So, A lot of noise and …sometimes a little fighting too! I was a teenager before I found an interest in music, but, when I found music,I knew that that was the right thing for me.

2) I think any artist will agree that performing at The Greek is always a ‘bucket list’ venue. What makes The Greek a special place for you?

The Greek is special to me because its in that very same park that I am supporting with my concert,and because its an iconic venue where the greatest artist have performed.
Me  and my orchestra “The Danish Film harmonics” cannot wait to go on
stage this weekend!
Do you have any particular influences for your music, when writing for a film score?
Its always the story that inspires me,the mood ,the acting,the pictures…

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 What can your audience expect at this performance?
The Audience is coming with me on a journey into 9 different  Groth scores performed as one symphony.Its both action,thriller,love and everything in between. We also have a back screen showing scenes from feature-film like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mixed with more abstract images.
Whats next for you and your music?
I am gonna stay in LA for a while doing the score for an amazing new TV-Show called Midnight Texas and also write the score for Flatliners,a very cool remake of that film from the 90’s.
Hope to see you this Sunday at The Greek! Mange Tak! 😉 (That means Much Thanks in Danish and is about how much Danish I can speak. I try to practice, but, have yet to learn it better. ) xo

Hiking at Escondido Falls Trail in Malibu….

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Picture: Michael Farah.

So, granted, when I returned home from my Chico trip? I could not stop talking about Burney Falls. To see such a giant waterfall before me, and that setting, it took my breath away. Anxious to continue on my nature “kick”, Mike found us a great hiking trail in nearby Malibu.

Escondido Falls Trail is right off Pacific Coast Highway in the trendy beach community. While you need to clearly read all street signs, it is quite easy to find parking right off the highway (and thank goodness for porta potties before you start your journey–that will be your only chance for a restroom, FYI!).

As we began up the hill, we were surrounded by gorgeous houses, some in the midst of being built. The beach views were to die for. Then, to your left, you will see the sign leading you to the trail (See my picture above)

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While I huffed and puffed a bit up to the beginning of the trail (I think it’s because I’d been at The LA Food and Wine Festival the evening before–way too much wine and food and fun), I got into my groove and the trail was, overall, flat and easy, except for a couple of inclines but its laid out well enough that even if you have restrictions, you can still easily navigate through without too many high lifts, squats and no climbing at all.

You will hit a point when you need to choose whether to take the high or the low trail. We stayed low and hung a left. While it was a good 2-3 miles, we at last found our way to the “Falls”. Sadly, the drought has definitely effected the amount of water here, but, nonetheless, it still was a great ending place to chill-lax with other hikers, dogs and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

Black and white vibes.

Black and white vibes.

While you could take your chances and not take the same direction back out of the trail, we played it safe and followed our same way. If you’re looking for an ultra fun outdoors environment to take some pictures, Escondido is a great option….

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

As we made our way back down to PCH, guess where we had to dip our toes?

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With the beach right there, that was a welcoming break and cool down!

IF YOU GO

Make sure you’re comfortable with the weather. This is an “easy” hike in that it is mostly flat walking, but, you’re still looking at 5-6 miles on the trail. Pack water and sunscreen. I would call this a great hike for beginners or those who don’t do intense hiking/jogging.

Have you ever been out to Escondido Trails? 🙂 xo

Weekend Getaway: Half Moon Bay, CA. #TravelTuesday

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Having loved The San Francisco Bay Area since I was very young, this past month was a real treat for me as I headed out on The Fresh As it Gets Media tour with my fellow IFWTWA members and our hosts from The San Mateo/Silicon Valley CVB. I spent a week up north exploring and learning so much about this beautiful county that boasts lush vallies and mountains on one side, and, the other end? The bay, baby. From visiting Harley Goat Dairy Farm to Pillar Point Harbor, from beautiful wine tastings to world-class meals, I cannot wait to tell you about these excursions in the coming weeks.

Our first stop in this series? Half Moon Bay. A town that’s been on my radar, but I had no idea just how gorgeous the often dubbed, “Seaside Hamlet”, truly is.

Sidewalk sale on fabric!

Sidewalk sale on fabric!

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Something is mighty clear when you run away to the coast: You can usually, always, find delicious food. I was reminded that when we headed to lunch at local fave, Pasta Moon.  A “Fresh As it Gets” award winner, Pasta Moon is the brain child of local Kim Leddes; “Pasta Moon started out as a passionate concept where I could keep myself busy and enjoy the lifestyle of a small coastal town.” Kim explains on her website, “Originally Pasta Moon was a place for people to dine on cuisine derived of locally grown organic produce, fish, meats and cheese supplied from local ranchers and dairies. Soon however my love for Italian cuisine compelled an ever-growing compulsion to express my creativity in the kitchen and had me composing variations on classic Italian dishes.”

Known for the best lasagna around, every single dish I saw go by me, looked fabulous, and with our starter salads and soups (I had a tomato based veggie soup that bursted with flavor), it was very clear just how dedicated Pasta Moon is to bringing their diners the best, and most local, ingredients.

Pasta Moon lunch.

Pasta Moon lunch.

Seafood Paella at La Costanera.

Seafood Paella at La Costanera.

And, my #1 priority: Good gluten-free pasta! I was in luck as I was immediately asked if I would like brown rice linguine or corkscrew pasta. I chose linguine with seasonal veggies tossed in olive oil. Often, I find that even if I enjoy a gluten free pasta noodle dish, the noodles tend to get dried out, and downright sticky. At Pasta Moon? They were moist, tender, and tasted like the real deal down to my last bite. Bravo, Pasta Moon!

For dinner, I would be experiencing Peruvian cuisine ocean side at the popular La Costanera. With countless awards under their belt, this Montana Beach eatery combines slick, ocean side dining with a unique blend of flare. Much of which is the result of South Peru native, Chef Carlos Altamirano. Whether its their Churrasco (Grass fed Creekstone Black Angus Ribeye steak, Yucca Fries, chimichurri andino) you’re in the mood for, or their Vegetarian fave, Quinotto  (Quinoa-pumpkin stew, choclo, veggies, parmesano Crispy tomatoes and anticucho de hongos), La Costanera has expertly crafted the ultimate hot spot in Half Moon Bay to accommodate all of their diner’s wants and needs.

And, no visit is complete without getting their signature drink:  A Pisko Sour…..

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I admit, I enjoyed some amazing glasses of wine, and just stole a sip of the Pisco. Thoughts? It had an egg in it, which was intriguing, but, a bit too frothy for an alcoholic drink, for my preference. If you are a Pisco Sour fan? You will love it.

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Before dinner, we began our evening at  nearby Pacifica’s A Grape In the Fog Wine Bar. Unbeknownst to us, we were arriving in the middle of the many weekly Farmers Markets. This was a true reminder that San Mateo County is “As Fresh As it Gets”. The tomatoes were gorgeous colors of scarlet red to lighter shades of rose, as well some yellow’s to take note of.

At A Grape in the Fog, Redding native Beth Lemke had a dream of opening up a coffeehouse to create a space for the locals to gather, socialize, hear some good music and enjoy some drinks. Change those dreams from latte’s to wines from around the world, and you’ve got yourself Grape in the Fog! With a menu that is always changing, Lemke has indeed made an environment that could easily find a student getting some reading in while enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir, or meeting up for an online date to break the ice over a Chardonnay and hear a local musician perform.

Beth Lemke, Owner, Grape in the Fog.

Beth Lemke, Owner, Grape in the Fog.

I loved this mural in Half Moon Bay!

I loved this mural in Half Moon Bay!

 

STAY

When I arrived at Half Moon Bay Lodge, I loved the laid back vibes….and, even cookies during check-in! Half Moon Bay Lodge is nestled 5 miles outside the hustle and bustle of the main drag and mere minutes from the water. Something I rarely get to take advantage of is a pool and Jacuzzi when I travel. Had I remembered my swim suit? They offer a heated pool, outside fireplace and chairs and tables aplenty for the ultimate stay.

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If you are in search of a banquet or event hall, they have you covered with a fantastic meeting room that opens out to the pool. (Great nook to enjoy your breakfast, too).

Half Moon Bay is only a half hour from The San Francisco Airport, and 45 minutes from San Jose. It is such a romantic getaway, and enough to do right in the area that you will easily not even leave the city limits! xo

 

McArthur-Burney Falls State Park: California’s Very Own “Niagara Falls”!

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When I returned home from my Chico trip, I could not stop talking about our road trip to Burney, California. Burney is a humble, small town (under 5,000 people) that has easily one of the best kept travel secrets around: Burney is home to The  Burney Falls. At 129-feet, Burney Falls is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, but, could still be dubbed  the “Niagara Falls” of California and is one of the most beautiful state parks I have been to. (Granted, I have not been to Niagara Falls, but, still–). To think, I had never heard of Burney Falls until my BFF, Ariel, asked if I would be down for a road trip while I visited as she had never been.

From Chico, we were looking at a good 3 hour trek to Burney, and we discovered the ultimate pit stop: An hour of jumping and being as silly as we could possibly be at Rare Air Trampoline Park in Redding. Little did I know just how much I needed this in my life. I let loose and enjoyed every moment (in between water breaks). Who knew what a workout jumping is?!

Then, onward we went to at last find our falls. When we arrived, we got a bit turned around as to which road to use, and ended up parking right off a trail on the opposite side of the main entrance. It takes a bit longer to get to the destination, but very well worth it. Check out our view as we walked up to the park, and the quotable benches…..

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The weather was nearly 100 degrees or more in Shasta County. Yet, after we walked down to the falls? I was wishing I had a jacket. The air was crisp, cool. The scene as I made my way down the small hike? It was so serene, not even my pictures could truly capture it…..

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Funny story, I got very lost from my friends after a “quick” bathroom run! Word to the wise: Stay together if you go to Burney Falls as their “Restroom” signs are deceiving and I actually RAN down the trail looking for everyone. But, these waterfalls still managed to stop me in my tracks….

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It literally took my breath away. I truly had not known what to expect, and was hoping there would actually be some water, and that it would not be a deserted area. It was filled with fellow tourists and families enjoying the sights. I admit, once we all found one another and went back down, I didn’t want to leave….

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The park has 910 acres of forest and five miles of streamside and lake shoreline, including a portion of Lake Britton. They offer cabins and camping (And, of course–a gift shop!). Cool fact: Burney is apart of the infamous Pacific Crest Trail that Author, Cheryl Strayed, hiked across in her 20’s, and was turned into a recent Oscar nominated film with Reese Witherspoon .

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I am so thankful for Ariel for wanting to take a road trip with me, her fiance and nephew out to this spectacular state park. I already cannot wait to return and I hope if you were unfamiliar with Burney, that I have now put it on your radar as it is a MUST SEE for all. Especially, though–California natives! Get more info HERE.

Summer’s Final Hurrah at The LA Times TASTE LA!

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Summers in Los Angeles are definitely the best. Sunshine, music, events, beach time and FOOD are just a few of the things that come to mind as I think about my “Summers in the city”. While Labor Day is  the last hurrah of the light nights and fun, The LA Times has been ensuring that each year closes with a bang….and, maybe a food coma, with their annual The TASTE of LA.

I was thrilled to be covering The TASTE for my very first time, and, to be honest, did not really know what to expect. I knew there would be food, free-flowing wine and spirits, but I left also pleased to have been on the Paramount Pictures studio lot where some of my favorite films were created, and to have even connected with some of The Times’ royalty from the Food section.

Entering the studio lot for Saturday night’s “Dinner with a Twist”, brought to mind when Pee Wee Herman crashes the Hollywood sets in search of his lost bike in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Yes, this is one of my favorite films). The array of countless LA restaurants representing the TASTE filled the streets and movie buildings taking me everywhere from New York to Paris.

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Citi Stage

Acura Stage

I began my night with a sake tasting courtesy of the Japan National Tourism Organization. It was a blind tasting, and, I learned I don’t know my sake as well as I thought! I got 1 out of 3 correct…but, enjoyed all 3 😉 Sake connoisseurs were even on hand from Japan to answer any questions about the libation.

With seafood dishes aplenty, I gravitated towards stepping out of my comfort zone with some of my usual faves. (Usually sushi, salmon) I found 2 vendors offering up octopus. Cafe Del Rey, a gorgeous eatery in Marina Del Rey, was sampling the often overlooked dish topped with scallops. I already cannot wait to pay a visit to Cafe Del Rey. I felt transported to the ocean, just by one delicious bite.

Somewhere I was anxious to check out was the “Coffee Talks” being held within a coffeehouse set on the lot. Dubbed Cafe LA Times, barista’s were on hand making artisan espresso drinks while you could hang out and meet LA Times Restaurant Critic, Jonathan Gold. Practically royalty to the newspaper,  Gold stopped in for photo op’s with attendee’s in the most creative, rather bizarre, setting. Bright lights and walls covered in paper scraps of the LA Times, and, before I even got in queue for my turn, I was somewhat in awe at the scenarios people were dreaming up to pose with Gold!

I was a bit dull myself….

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While all of my experiences with food and wine weekends, one thing is for sure: I end up over eating. It’s too irresistible. With The Taste,  they have taken a ‘food fair’ atmosphere a step further and along with the restaurants to sample, each event had several culinary experts and stars hosting demo’s and panels on food. In between your noshing, you could experience on stage Cooking and  Mixology Demonstrations with several of LA’s award-winning chefs, including Kris Morningstar and Ray Garcia

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Despite some frustration when I arrived from The Taste crew, I finally found my way thanks to the dedicated parking team and the guards from Paramount. The entrance line was intimidating, but, ended up being extremely fast and kept moving. All the restaurants and wineries I connected with were lovely and eager to share their stores with me!

While The Taste may be in the record books until 2017, you can keep a piece of it with you via their Spotify play list. These tracks are what the DJ was spinning throughout the weekend. Perfect for your next soiree! xo

 

The South Park 20 Experience at Paley Center LA.

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Since I met Michael, I have been exposed to countless TV shows, movies and general things that have made their mark in the “pop culture” book that would have easily gone past my radar. I have become a huge nerd fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, even Firefly. But, the one thing that I can safely say Mike made me ADORE and become obsessed with? The works of Matt Stone and Trey Parker.  AKA, the creators of South Park

I have encountered a few people surprised at how much respect and admiration I have for this crude, sometimes, downright disgusting animated series that follows the adventures of a group of elementary kids in South Park, Colorado (And, lets not forget, the many deaths of Kenny).

Despite its shock factors, South Park just always seems to GET the state of the country. Matt and Trey don’t even begin making the episode to air in that same week, until said week is upon them. That is how real they keep their content in each half hour show. While we follow along with regulars Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny, many characters (most begin as recurring) come through to somehow make perfect sense at progressing an episode.

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Last season found them introducing a continuous story line as we went through the season. From Mr. Garrison running for President (a la Trump) with Caitlyn Jenner as his VP and promises to build a wall against Canada, to the introduction of “PC” Principal and Randy living a secret life as emo-pop star Lourde,

Having seen all 19 seasons, you can imagine how excited I was, and sad, to see that this year’s Comic Con found Comedy Central celebrating the announcement of South Park’s 20th season, with an art exhibit highlighting their 20 best moments. It looked amazing. I wasn’t there. Woe is me.

BUT! Then, I saw fellow blogger (and awesome person), Chris Lam, posting pictures at the same exhibit. Right here at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills!

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I was thrilled to find out the art would be on display right here in LA through September 25th. I told Mike we were going….right then and there. It turned out to be 1 in the morning, so, we planned for a fun Beverly Hills outing over the weekend.

They’ve got new unforgettable moments like Stan’s recent run-in with the police, and classics like Jennifer “Taco Taco” Lopez and the chili cook-off. All the characters you love and know are there. Towelie, Jesus, Professor Chaos, Mr. Hanky and the legends like Terrance and Phillip, and Mr. “MmmKay” Mackey. Its pretty epic in a compact, 2 floor space!

You can also sit at designated listening stations and re-watch classic episodes and hear commentaries. There’s psychedelic, 3-D art that is for sale and one of the coolest artifacts there has to be the construction paper, original pieces from the very first South Park creation.

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IF YOU GO…..

The South Park 20 Experience is FREE and will be on view at The Paley Center for Media through September 25th. The museum is open Wednesdays to Sundays 12:00 to 5:00 pm and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Please keep in mind: South Park is a MATURE audiences TV show! While there is nothing horribly offensive at this exhibit, it still is South Park and not appropriate for all ages. While I did see children during our visit, you know your child best and I definitely do not suggest this exhibit to everybody.

You can learn more HERE.

If you head on out, enjoy! It is a must for any South Park connoisseur 🙂 xo

Exploring The Oroville Dam and Fish Hatchery!

Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville, California.

Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville, California.

My trip to Sacramento County, Chico and Mount Shasta County  is in the record books! My visit  was absolutely awesome, and reminded me just how important it is to get away from it all, unplug a bit and have some FUN adventures with great friends. I have so much I want to share about my time in the “530 area code” and thought for my first of a “mini series” of articles, I would tell you something I think is a pretty interesting fact, and, as a Los Angeles native, was not aware:

Did you know a lot of LA’s water comes from Sacramento County?! How did I not know this?! I admit, I did not even realize the city of Oroville (70 miles outside of Sacramento) even had a dam. One of my sweetest (and longest) friends, Ariel, took me on out to Oroville to see the historical, city land marks. It was a little adventure, a lot field trip, and right up my alley.

The long road driving away from The Oroville Dam

The long road driving away from The Oroville Dam

While the dam has certainly seen better days, I was pleasantly surprised that our drought had not completely wiped out the water supply. With a capacity of 3.5 million acre-feet. (One acre-foot equals 325,900 gallons.), the lake goes on for endless miles, and its long road down to the vista point makes it a scenic spot to take a jog, take a break and look on out into the horizon…or, maybe do some Pokemon hunting 😉

Several plaques are placed at the point, with some paying tribute to the incredible workers lost during their ordeal of building this reservoir (hence the term, “man-made”.). Quotes state that these un-sung heroes simply asked to have their name put on a wall, should they not survive to see its completion, and their wish was granted.

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Feeling free in Oroville!

Feeling free in Oroville!

Moving just further down, back in the town of Oroville (which boasts some gorgeous Victorian era homes, and architecture), we got to the Feather River Fish Hatchery! Did you know wild salmon swim through there?! I literally was learning something (or a few things) each day.

While I could easily see Oroville may get a little….repetitive? Simple? if you have, say, lived there forever. But, on a road trip up California, it is well worth it to make a pit stop to The Oroville Dam, as well as the fish hatchery. There is so much history to be discovered and learned in Northern California. You often forget there’s a whole world out there beyond precious SoCal!

Learn more about Oroville HERE.

 

The 6th Annual LA Food and Wine Festival Pulls Out All the Stops..

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While there are so many subjects that come to mind when you hear “Los Angeles”, I feel like “Food and Wine” may not be the first thing that you think of. LA became famous for its Hollywood glam, the rich and famous, beaches and its diversity. Yet, in the more recent years? Hands down some of the most beloved weekends are all about the food festivals. Not to mention popular attractions like Disneyland, Eat-See-Hear, The Dodgers and more are now offering an array of top notch wines, beers and dishes.

One of those anticipated weekends is The LA Food and Wine Festival. Having just wrapped its 6th year this past weekend, I was thrilled to once again cover this fabulous festival. With its Night Market at 1st and Grand Street in beautiful Downtown LA, this 3 night event is just whistling distance from The Music Center and makes for the ideal backdrop for a night of delicious foods (I was treated to everything from crab legs courtesy of Mr. Chow, to Earl Grey sorbet from Sweet Lucy’s), schmoozing and free flowing wines.

Don't forget, I Snap chat from events! Check me out at GreenEyedMary.

Don’t forget, I Snap chat from events! Check me out at GreenEyedMary.

Along with the Night Market, LA Food and Wine has expanded immensely over its years establishing itself as the hottest food and wine event to attend. Thursday night found the one and only Emeril Lagasse hosting their opening celebration of “Eat the World” while Saturday found foodies enjoying The Sunset Chill ‘n Grill event hosted by Rick Bayless at The Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.

What makes The LA Food and Wine Festival’s Night Market so eclectic and fun is the variety of dishes and varietals you get to try while also getting the opportunity to chat with the wine makers and the famous chef’s behind your plate. The slew of world renowned Chef’s in attendance is something to marvel at, and, if you’re lucky, you may even get a photo op or autograph from them!

Tonet Tibay

Tonet Tibay

Favorite wines of mine including J. Lohr and Justin were there pouring some of their consumer’s faves, while I got to sip phenomenal Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir’s from new friends like Priest Ranch (Out of Yountville, CA) and Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek. I will be visiting the Paso wine region later this year, and love the fact that I have already connected with some great wineries to visit there.

Unlike last year, I was extremely pleased that at-least half of the cuisine offering were “Mary Friendly” (Gluten free and Vegetarian or seafood)! Aside from the decadent crab legs at Mr. Chow’s (Which were indeed battered, but in corn flour), I was treated to spicy salmon hand rolls from The Grove’s Blue Ribbon, Lavender truffles from Tonet Tibay (Chocolatier and Founder of Marti Chocolatt here in town), gluten free and vegetarian tostada chip appetizers from Chef Nicole Votano and more over the course of this three hour soiree.

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Something else to keep in mind when attending LAFW is that, all are welcome. Whether you are a wine connoisseur or just love a great slider, it doesn’t matter what your level of food and wine is. I love talking wine, yet, am in no way near being a Sommelier. I love to eat, but don’t often eat meat and am somewhat picky. I was surrounded by both like-minded attendees as well as very educated Chefs and wine makers. Everyone is family at LA Food and Wine Festival. It’s a great, eclectic mix all coming together.

While LAFW Festival may be in the books for 2016, I cannot wait to see what they unveil for us dedicated foodies and wino’s next year. See you there?! xo

Seeing Hayley Mills at One Starry Night.

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Growing up, I lived in a very fun and artistic household. There was always records playing or a musical movie going on the VCR. My Grandma was the Queen of “Columbia House Video Club” and I feel fortunate that I was exposed to all of it. Among our faves, though, were the Disney movies. And, one that got HEAVY rotation in the living room, was the 1961 classic, The Parent Trap.

While there are countless films I adored, The Parent Trap, with Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara and Brian Keith, has always stayed with me and continues to be a favorite of me and my Mom to this day. We have the DVD set, and even went to a retro screening of it last year at LACMA.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I interviewed One Starry Night co-founder, Juliana Hansen, and found out that Hayley Mills herself, along with fellow Disney royalty, Richard Sherman, would be joining forces to duet on the film’s theme song, Let’s Get Together, at The Pasadena Playhouse event! Mind you, Mills has NEVER performed this song outside of the film. This was seriously an event 50 years in the making, and I am so thrilled that I was able to go, with my Mom, to witness Disney history go down!

Courtesy: Getty Images

Hayley Mills and Richard Sherman. Courtesy: Getty Images

Having covered One Starry Night since its inaugural performance in 2014, each year has found this all-star charity soiree improving and finding new turns with each event, while never abandoning the reason that we have all joined together in Pasadena: To fight ALS and bring awareness to the ALS Association’s Golden West Chapter.

This year found One Starry Night awarding The Spotlight Award to the creative team behind Gleason, The Sundance award winning documentary chronicling NFL champ, Steve Gleason, and his heartbreaking battle against Lou Gehrig’s disease. All, while raising his newborn son with his wife.

One Starry Night’s Honorary Co-Chairs were Miley Cyrus, and her dear friend, Mari Winsor. While most recall Mari as the lady behind the “Winsor Pilates” empire, many of you may not know that she is fighting ALS herself. While Miley was unable to be in attendance, we were treated to a beautiful speech from Winsor, who will not quit until there is a cure for this devastating disease.

Kate Linder. Courtesy: Getty Images.

Kate Linder. Courtesy: Getty Images.

The One Starry Night Award went to long time Young and the Restless actress, Kate Linder. She has been an advocate for ALS and raising funds to get us closer to a cure, since 1982.

When the moment arrived for Hayley Mills to grace the stage, the crowd went wild. Giving a heart warmmg speech about ALS, and, urging us to focus on the “good guys” more than all the negativity that is in our world, she soon revealed that when she was cast as both Sharon and Susan, respectively, in The Parent Trap, she went to Richard Sherman scared to death to sing, since she is an actress. “Act as if you are a singer” the pianist advised, and, as we know, the rest is history.

Sherman shortly joined Mills on stage for an adorable duet of Let’s Get Together….they even got out their lyric sheet to ensure they were singing the lyrics right!

While I thought seeing Petula Clark perform Downtown, one of my favorite songs, at last year’s One Starry Night could not be outdone I think it is safe to say  that they did indeed out do themselves this year. While I pray for the day fundraisers like One Starry Night are no longer necessary (as we are certainly closer each day to a cure for ALS), I could not be more grateful for all who come together to make this event happen and bring more outreach to the cause. Bravo, One Starry Night! xo

Join Me at The IFWTWA Conference in Coronado!

IFWTWA

Being a blogger, you can get a lot of emails from networks vying for you to join them as they are surely THE place to be if you want to be successful. While several of these organizations and groups are worth your time, it can be difficult to navigate to the good ones. Especially, when there is a fee.

Will this be worth my time? Where is my money going? Will I just get an html code to stick a badge on my page?! These are all concerns that go through my mind when I want to join a new group. I definitely thought that when I decided to apply, and, hopefully,  join The International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).

Little did I know that when I was approved into IFWTWA, it would easily become one of the best things to happen for Along Comes Mary. With IFWTWA, I have met countless like-minded professionals who are living dreams similar to my own: traveling, learning about cultures, experiencing different cuisines, discovering wines in parts of the world you may not realize are thriving wine industries (IFWTWA went to Jordan this past Spring….and yep, there is  wine region!)

Thanks to IFWTWA, I am heading to The San Francisco Bay Area next month!

Thanks to IFWTWA, I am heading to The San Francisco Bay Area next month!

Personally, I know IFWTWA has opened doors for my professional growth as a travel blogger. Not only have I been on press trips with my “IFWTWA peeps” (as I affectionately call them on social media) but, adding the title of being a proud member onto my media kit has suddenly made dreams come true as I find myself getting more fabulous invites and offers that are furthering my career.

Remember when I had a margarita with a fried cricket as garnish at Mexicano LA? How about that hilarious night at Piano Piano Bar in Claremont, singing YMCA with friends? Or, my week in Oregon experiencing everything from a century old cemetery to a wheat flour mill?! That was all, thanks to IFWTWA.

IFWTWA members also get the opportunity to write for our magazine, FWT.

IFWTWA members also get the opportunity to write for our magazine, FWT.

What makes IFWTWA unique is how above and beyond the association goes. When I am not waiting to hear if I was approved for a FAM they have organized, I am getting referrals from members and intros to great PR colleagues. They are the real deal and a must for anyone serious about joining the travel writing world.

2016 could easily be their best year yet, as we have, for the first time, opened up our annual IFWTWA Conference to non-members! That means if you are NOT a member, even if you are brand new to the travel writing world, YOU can join me at the conference this year, in stunning Coronado, California….you will literally be 5 steps from the beach, and minutes from San Diego and Mexico.

This is where you will stay, play and learn! Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

This is where you will stay, play and learn! Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

You may be tired of my saying IFWTWA is unique, but, they are, and that means their conference is, also. We know how to work and learn, yet, we also know how to have fun. That being said, the conference will also be part FAM trip for you to really see how fun the group is. Along with fantastic key-note speakers, workshops like my very own social media hour and wine speakers including Hilarie Larson, IFWTWA is also hosting pre and post trips for existing members as well as 4 glorious days in Coronado.

You will come away with a vast knowledge of the travel, food and wine world, and enough experiences in both Coronado and San Diego to have countless new content for your outlet. If you are a new blogger, this would be perfect for collecting an array of content to write on your page.

Jacksonville trolley ride with IFWTWA President, Linda Kissam, in Oregon.

Jacksonville trolley ride with IFWTWA President, Linda Kissam, in Oregon.

As I mentioned, IFWTWA has never opened up the conference to non-members. We have only a few spots left. You can get all the info you need HERE, or by contacting Hilarie Larson at 877-439-8929 or admin@ifwtwa.org. (*Office hours are 11 am to 4 PM PDT Monday – Friday).

Be sure to mention my name (Mary Lansing) when you register, and feel free to email me at mary @ifwtwa.org if you have any questions. I hope to see you this Fall at The IFWTWA Conference! xo

Juliana Hansen Returns for 3rd annual One Starry Night in Pasadena.

One Star

When I was invited to attend One Starry Night: A Special Performance to Conquering ALS, I was not quite sure what to expect. A variety show at The Pasadena Playhouse? With all-star names? It was one of the first charity events I had covered, and I was thrilled for the chance to dress up, and return to Pasadena Playhouse with Michael, whom I had seen The Playhouse’s 12 Angry Men with, on our humble 3rd date, a few months prior.

Fast forward 3 years, and One Starry Night continues to be one of the best fundraisers put on yearly in Los Angeles, by The ALS Association’s Golden West chapter. Returning once again to The Pasadena Playhouse, One Starry Night, and its honorary Co-Chairs, Mari Winsor and Miley Cyrus, invite you to come on out to this star-studded evening of music, theatre, magic, comedy and award ceremonies.

This year, One Starry Night is proud to honor the hit documentary, Gleason. The 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of former NFL star Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, in 2011 at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to live as fully as possible. The film highlights his mission that people with ALS can not only live but thrive after this diagnosis, along with many of the extraordinary successes achieved by the Gleason Initiative Foundation (“Team Gleason”), including the creation of the “Team Gleason House for Innovative Living” and the passage of “The Steve Gleason Act” which assures the availability of life-sustaining communication devices for people with ALS and other diseases. Distributed by Amazon Studios and Open Road Films, “GLEASON” has received glowing reviews both from audiences and news outlets including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Rolling Stone and Variety, to name a few.

I had the pleasure to chat with Co-Creator and Producer, as well as One Starry Night performer, Juliana Hansen, about her unstoppable, creative life, playing Mary Poppins and what she hopes attendees take away from this evening….

Juliana Hansen

Juliana Hansen

Mary: When did your journey in the performing arts begin? Do you come from a creative/artistic family?

 

Juliana: I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was very young. I began modeling with one of the top agencies in San Francisco when I was 4 years old, I did my first musical when I was 5 years old, my first national commercial at age 7, and my first television starring role and voice over lead (The Land Before Time IV) by the time I was  9. I have always loved acting and singing. I grew up with music in the house, as my dad was a professional musician for over 30 years. My mom is very creative, too. She has done everything from wardrobe for films to makeup for shoots, to producing music videos! They were terrific about exposing me to great art at a young age and have always encouraged my pursuits in the industry.

You blew me away at last years One Starry Night with your Mary Poppins performance! What was the experience like playing such an iconic role?

 

Playing Mary Poppins was the dream coming true that I never even knew I had dreamed! When my agent called me with the audition, I laughed. I never thought I could fill Julie’s (Andrews) shoes, but I discovered so much about the character of Mary and myself throughout the process.
I did tons of research, because I wanted to incorporate to P.L. Travers’ version of Mary; the only one Julie Andrews had to go off of as well as give the audience reminiscent moment’s of Julie’s Mary – who we all grew up loving, while still making her my own. No small task. Top that off with the knowledge that Richard M. Sherman (my mentor and very dear friend) would be in the audience on opening night…. That’s was a lot of pressure! I wanted to do my absolute best, and also leave the audience with a huge gift and a lot of love. The run was too short, and I hope to revisit Mary several times over!

What has it been like working with Richard Sherman?

Working with Richard is one of the greatest gifts of my life thus far. And it is ALWAYS amazing… every single time. He is truly one of the top 5 kindest people I’ve ever known, and I’ve learned so much from him. He is a genius and a total pro, and I’m just so honored that he has made me his muse. I feel like a modern-day Julie, Annette (Funicello) and Hayley (Mills)- which is surreal, as these are ALL women I’ve admired and looked up to my whole life. I’m incredibly grateful that I can give Richard the gift of being reunited with Hayley Mills for our third Annual ONE STARRY NIGHT and help them to make Disney history by bringing them together to duet, for the very first time, on Let’s Get Together from the Parent Trap (a song Hayley has declined singing for nearly 50 years). 

Hansen as Mary Poppins

Hansen as Mary Poppins

Can you tell me a little about One Starry Night and how it was conceived? How did you get on board?

 

I created and Produced ONE STARRY NIGHT in 2013, with my friend Jonathan White.  After seeing my one woman show, Juliana Hansen- Live At The Federal (album available on Kritzerland records) wanting to produce my show in a larger venue, namely The Pasadena Playhouse. It was my idea to produce a much bigger show together one that would do good in the world and raise awareness in Hollywood for an under champions cause. We chose the ALS fight because we both had people dear to our hearts suffer from the disease, and we felt like, in the Entertainment community, ALS was such a little championed cause. This was before the ice bucket challenge. I’m a believer that once energy is put towards a purpose, the universe will find more ways to put more energy to that purpose and grow a vision. It was amazing to see the Ice Bucket challenge blow up as our show was taking shape. We wanted something that would bring glamour and class back to Hollywood, while in a unique way. ONE STARRY NIGHT is in the style of an old-time variety show (think Ed Sullivan) and features Tony award-winning Broadway performers, Emmy winning Television stars, Hollywood icons, comedians, production numbers, specialty acts and more all with a 15 piece orchestra comprised of Los Angeles’ finest musicians (these guys play the Oscars). It’s my hope and vision to grow it to eventually being annually televised on PBS to reach a much wider audience. 100% of the proceeds go to our partners at the ALS Association, Golden West Chapter. This year’s show is produced by Melissa Verdugo, Patty Ramsey, Patrick McMinn and myself, and we are confident it will be a very special evening.
What do you hope the audience takes away from One Starry Night?
It’s my hope that our audiences will be changed for having attended ONE STARRY NIGHT and that their hearts will be touched. I hope people will leave with more knowledge to share with their friends and family about the great need there is in the ALS community for more financial support for research and home care, and that people will generously give. I know everyone will enjoy a truly magical evening of entertainment, and I especially hope that our guests of honor, people currently living with this horrible disease will know we love them and are fighting alongside them. Hope and love if what it’s all about. 
(One Starry Night is this Monday at The Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. Tickets are available HERE)