Thursday, July 24, 2014

July Photo Dump

It seems that every month is speeding up. Does anyone else feel that? It's like I go through my life as normal, then all of a sudden, it's like, oops! It's almost August! In the spirit of filling you all in as best as I can with photos, here's a quick little post full of snapshots about what my life has been like this July.

I made these skewers for a Fourth of July party that I attended! I bought strawberries, blueberries, and a premade pound cake. I cut the pound cake into cubes and made as many skewers as I could!

I spend a few hours on the 5th of July with my family in Dana Point. I could honestly look at this view all day.

I travelled to Seattle in the second week of July, and while I'm not normally a person to take plane-window photos, I found this too beautiful to ignore. I'm sappy, get over it.

The most amazing french toast ever at Portage Bay Cafe near the University of Washington--this is three thick slices of challah, french toasted with an oatmeal crust, berry compote, and vanilla crème anglaise drizzle. There's a berry bar as well, so we got some fruit as well. I'm still salivating over how delicious it was. (I shared this and the dish below with a friend)

Summer vegetable frittata at Portage Bay Cafe! It had peas, spinach, fava beans, and ladysmith cheese. It was topped with arugula and a vinaigrette, served with fruit and this awesome toast on the side. If you're at UW, definitely make time to eat here, it's amazing!

So if you squint, you should be able to see Mt. Rainier in the picture! This was taken as we walked around UW's campus. In all, I think we walked eight miles before two p.m. that day.

Naturally, we had to stop for coffee and a snack at Cafe Solstice, where I had an iced chai tea latte, my friend had a latte, and we split an (enormous) oatmeal raisin cookie. So tasty! I don't understand how people don't like oatmeal raisin cookies. 

The library at UW. The architecture at the school reminded me a lot of my high school's architecture and the East Coast, so I simultaneously felt homesick and at home. But this library is gorgeous and, even though I don't ever study in libraries, can definitely appreciate such a beautiful home for books.

I ran a 5k in Gas Works Park the day I left Seattle--it was a women's race, and pretty much an entirely flat out-and-back course, so it was a lot of fun! I haven't run a 5k (or even more than a mile) since November, so it was cool to see that my time actually didn't change at all! You could also read this as me saying I'm really slow

It was along the water and so green. I really had a fun time. I walked two miles each way to get to the race, and it was a very fulfilling start to my day.

When I finally got back to LA, I made a trip to my local Trader Joe's, stopping at Native Foods Cafe for a spot of lunch on the solo. I had their amazing vegan taco salad, which I highly recommend, accompanied by half lavender lemonade/half green tea. It's always so amazingly delicious!

My boyfriend and I met up with some people for Friday night Jazz at LACMA, where we sat on the grass and hung out for a few hours. However, after seeing so dang many Instagrams of this lamppost installation, I was so gutted to see that this thing is tiny. Maybe fifty feet by fifty feet. I had expected something a little more impressive, I think... needless to say, I will not post an Instagram joining the ranks of artsy LACMA-inspired ones. 

What do you have planned for the rest of the month? I'm hoping to get a banana bread recipe photographed and posted, so get excited! 

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pie Hole and the Griffith Observatory

As I've mentioned before, I have a legitimate Los Angeles bucket list on my phone. I add to it every time I see something that I want to do before I leave California after college... while that is in two years' time, I still try and take advantage of the fact that I currently live in one of the most vibrant cities in America.

One such entry on my bucket list was a place called The Pie Hole, a restaurant in the Arts District of Downtown LA that serves, you guessed it, all sorts of pie. My boyfriend and I drove there on a Saturday night in the early evening, ordered dessert for dinner (even though Pie Hole has savory pies), and found a table outside where the breeze (and drinks) found us.

In the spirit of adventure, I ordered a house-made Arnold Palmer, which is half tea and half lemonade. I was never a huge Arnold Palmer fan in my youth, but it sounded really refreshing... and it was! The drink wasn't too bitter nor too sweet, and had a really nice balance between the tea and lemonade. My only gripe was that it was gone to soon!

B ordered an espresso. He is an avid coffee drinker and savors his espressos, and he really enjoyed this one. Pie Hole takes great pride in their coffee, even selling their own roast in the store, and this pride is apparently deserved. B thought that this espresso was somehow lighter than other espressos that he's consumed, but in a nice way. I didn't try it, but he felt that it was just a very solid and delicious espresso.

Fun fact: one major reason that I wanted to go to Pie Hole was because my boyfriend had never had pie before. Yes. Never had pie. It was a big deal. So, being adults, we ordered pie for dinner... because we can! He went with the classic American double-crust pie a la mode. While I don't think he quite knew what to expect, he really enjoyed it! The apples were spiced wonderfully with cinnamon, and had softened while cooking yet maintained a substantial mouthfeel and bite. The top crust absolutely deserved an honorable mention--while it may be hard to tell from the angle of the photo, you can sort of see the caramelization on top. It seemed to be burnt/caramelized sugar, like the crust of crème brulée!

I went with the cherry almond pie, which also had a double crust. The filling was thick, but I couldn't really taste much almond. I think the crust may have been made with almond flour, which is the only explanation I can really think of. The crust in this pie was also delicious--it was covered in sugar, so how could it not be? The ice cream (just plain vanilla bean) really added a lot to the pie, though. While the pie by itself was good, the addition of the ice cream gave it more depth and made the tartness of the filling a little less pronounced.

From our table, we watched everyone at Wurstküche line up around the block to wait for their gourmet bratwursts. It's yet another delicious restaurant in the Arts District that I highly recommend! Next time I go, I'll make sure to bring my camera along.

Now, after Pie Hole, we tried to head up to the Griffith Observatory. We couldn't figure out why it took us almost a half hour to get to the top of the hill... and then we looked at the calendar and realized that the Observatory was holding a summer solstice celebration. D'oh! Having lost our spirit of adventure, we turned around and went back home...

However, all was not lost! A week later, we grabbed a quick bite to eat, checked the calendar, and ventured back up to the Observatory. We nabbed a parking spot in the main lot, and had about forty-five minutes before the park closed to wander around.

The Griffith Observatory and the views of LA were even more beautiful and breathtaking than I had imagined--I'll let the above pictures do the talking. B let me drag him around and stop at random places to just look, and it was really wonderful.

The inside of the Observatory also hosts some cool displays and exhibits; I only wish we had more time to explore! I'm hoping to return and thoroughly soak up all of the information inside the building, as well as seeing the show at the planetarium.

This room compared and contrasted the various planets in our solar system, explaining everything from size to temperature to gravitational force! Also of note--I fell up those stairs in the bottom/bottom left of that picture. With one hand on my camera and the other holding my boyfriend's hand, it was a bit of a scary moment, but I cradled my camera and let my shin take the force of the impact. My priorities are definitely in a weird place.

After a few laughably bad selfie attempts in front of the Observatory, B and I called it a night and headed to the car to drive back home.

With all this free time in the summer, I've been loving exploring LA. Do you have any suggestions for cool things to do? Let me know in the comments below! And, as always, you can find me on Instagram at @__katherinew

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