Tag Archives: Hollywood

Whitley Heights

It’s been a long while since I last did a Secret Stairs walk. When I stumbled across this book two years ago it launched me into a season of pretty serious urban hiking. Now, my hikes are a bit fewer and farther between. I was able to get out for a walk recently, though, which took me into the Hollywood Hills. Just across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, Samsko and I meandered past residences which once belonged to silent film stars like Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson. Even William Faulkner once called these streets home.

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Los Angeles is just so interesting. I know she’s often regarded as cold and unfeeling, but it is on walks like these that I see her in a completely different light. I see the generations of people she has carried up and down these pedestrian staircases–reminders of a time when cars were an added luxury rather than an essential commodity. I see the trees that have shaded her streets for decades. I see the artistic imprints left by past and current inhabitants, signs that “home” is not a word that defines a space, but rather a space that defines the word and has a different meaning for everyone.

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Let’s hope I don’t go another 6 months or so before staircasing again. Let’s hope.


Birthday Presence

“What do you want for your birthday?” I paused to let The Question sink in. Another year, another birthday. I internally asked myself the same question my friend had just posed. That’s when I realized it happened. I had reached the age at which material things no longer carry the same hope of satisfaction and gratification that they used to. Perhaps this is because I have accepted the truth that they won’t, in fact, sustain my soul. Neither will they retain the same excitement factor they once held when they were shiny and new. But if I didn’t want a present what was it then that I really wanted?

If there’s one thing I’ve longed for the most during this transition season it’s community. I definitely experienced a period of restlessness and discomfort while struggling to grow into life after graduating, and a huge part of this was exacerbated by the fact that in the aftermath of change my friends and I were pretty scattered while we figured out how to piece the puzzle back together. Now that the dust has settled I can confidently and gratefully say that God has blessed me abundantly with the restoration of old communities and the birth of new ones.

So, in response to The Question, I decided that all I really wanted for my birthday was to set aside a day with close friends going to church and doing all of my favorite things in the great city of Los Angeles. Instead of presents from my friends I wanted the presence of my friends.

What resulted was the best gift I could have ever received. A day spent with wonderful people eating our way through LA. Moreover, it was a day drenched in Love. I am so indescribably thankful for each and every moment I have with these people and I am in awe of the work God is orchestrating in our lives both separately and together. As I looked around the table at dinner and the night drew to a close I was overcome by the awareness that we are all threads in the tapestry of life and together we are being woven into a great and perfect design.


KatieKat and me at the good old Mercantile. A staple and forever favorite.


The Hollywood Christmas Parade happened to be that evening, so we camped out on Hollywood Boulevard and patiently awaited Santa Clause. We never actually saw him, but in the meantime several Batmobiles, the Ectomobile (Ghostbusters, anyone?), the Scooby Doo van, a Tatooine land speeder complete with Jawas, and many other iconic film vehicles cruised by. …and of course the occasional supersized Elmo or Kermit the Frog.


IMG_0747_1IMG_0743_1IMG_0754_1Dinner at Figaro Bistrot could not have been more perfect. This is one of my absolute favorite places because it truly feels like France whenever I’m there. Totally and completely.




(Thanks Kimmie for taking the camera to capture some of the above images! Check out all the interesting and lovely things going on over at her bloggity)

It was pretty fitting that my actual birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year. I was able to stop and truly appreciate God’s provision, faithfulness, and undeserved, unbelievably abundant grace in my life.

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday special whether or not you were in LA with us! You are loved!


Hangin’ with the dudes.

As I looked down my aisle at Reality LA I realized I was about to spend the entire Sunday with boys. I knew I was in for an adventure. An adventure involving food, spontaneity, and climbing things. Boys always have to climb things.

Our first excursion was to the Old Zoo at Griffith Park. We spent about an hour roaming the grounds while the guys imitated lions and I followed with my camera.

Then pie happened. I’ve been wanting to go to House of Pies in Los Feliz forever and the day finally came.

After pie-ing up we felt energized enough to staircase, and we came across a beautiful Craftsman house for sale at the beginning of our walk. They happened to be having an open house that day, so we invited ourselves in for a look around.

My mom grew up going to the church in the center of the above image. I forget sometimes how much of my family’s history is based in LA. I think it explains the strong pull I feel towards this beautiful city.

I’ve always admired Craftsmans for their juxtaposition of orderly, clean lines and “cozy-homeyness,” but this was the first time I’ve actually been able to appreciate the interior as well. Now I want one for myself.

We ended the day downtown for refreshing beverages at Caffe Primo. I love days spent bouncing around Los Angeles.

Becoming almost sort of somewhat regulars

One of our go-to restaurants in Hollywood is quickly becoming The Mercantile. This airy and bright French-inspired wine bar on Sunset Boulevard has the best brunch and lunch options (and we’ve even had a lovely dinner there as well). Recently I tried the Butternut Squash soup and Mac ‘N Cheese Balls. Am I the only one who finds this humorous?


Thems were some tasty balls. (Hey, a little juvenile humor is acceptable on occasion…right?)

A Day at the Park

After church one Sunday we all decided we needed some fresh air, so we thought we’d be European and find a park to lounge in. While the park we found was not exactly a sprawling expanse of vegetation and fresh air, we did seem to immediately revert to childishly giddy behavior. Sometimes we all just need to let loose a bit.

These girls are one of the reasons Sundays are so lovely.

I feel like this sets the tone for the year. Hilarious.

After we decided that this tiny park was a bit of a bust, we opted for staircasing instead. The walk we chose was at the western corner of Griffith Park off of Fern Dell. This area was so perfectly picturesque with faux bois fences, gorgeous trees, and beautiful light.

Silliness continued to ensue.

This is what my friends look like when I drag them up a 153 step staircase. But the view from the top was most definitely worth the effort…

After our adventures, we made a quick stop into Amoeba Records, where I scored Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (a childhood favorite), Unbreakable, and The Mask of Zorro…each for $5. The Mercantile was our choice for dinner!

Katie and Sam were feeling womantic.

Yet again, a very nearly perfect Sunday in Los Angeles. I enjoy these days so much. I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the week than with spiritual renewal at Reality LA, good meals with good friends, and time to explore such a diverse city.

Sunday in lalaland – 11 December 2011

Today was yet another fabulous Sunday spent in LA with a wonderful group of friends. For the past few months we’ve been going to church at Reality LA in Hollywood and I couldn’t be happier with my experience so far. This church is truly Gospel-centered and I walk away every week feeling convicted and closer to understanding what it means to have a relationship with my savior. I have encountered quite a few surprised reactions when people hear that I’ve been driving the 40-something miles to LA for church every Sunday, but the fact of the matter is that it’s so much more than church for me. It’s a time of learning, of pure and uninhibited worship and response to God’s love, of re-dedication, and of community.

After church we have the day wide open for exploration, beginning with a new restaurant to fuel our usually starving bodies. Today I suggested we try a place I’ve driven past countless times, always making a mental note to go sometime, but never actually going. Just a few blocks up Sunset Boulevard from Reality, The Mercantile is a French-style wine bar that serves brunch on the weekends. The atmosphere is nothing short of idyllic, with sun-soaked brick walls adorned with white hand-painted signs advertising their cheese, wine selection, and pastries. Their menues are simple sheets of paper on wooden clipboards, and what they lack in terms of entrée choices they more than make up for with quality and overall tastiness. Three of us ordered a type of egg omelette taco thing, accompanied by the loveliest looking cubed potatoes I’ve seen in a while. Let’s just say their plates were practically licked clean. Katie and I both ordered the “mini” pancakes, although we both agreed that they were just about the same size as the pancakes we make at home. Since we were extremely tantalized by the chocolate cake sitting in the display case behind us throughout our entire meal, we opted to split a slice between the five of us before leaving. Unfortunately, it was very very mocha-y and I am not exactly a coffee fan, but everyone else seemed to greatly enjoy it. We are definitely looking forward to eating there again.

Since Nick is in law school and super important taking finals right now, he parted ways with us and headed off for some studying at the good old Bullocks Wilshire building aka Southwestern Law School library. The rest of us finished off the day with a quick trip up to the Griffith Observatory since Sam had never been, and the city really did look quite beautiful. Today was a day filled with giddy laughter over stupid jokes as we all basked in the glow of the end of finals week and the beginning of winter break (or the beginning of real life for me).

He caught me…

All connected, all the time.

It seems my lens was a little dirty. Oops.

Sundays are the best. I hope yours are just as lovely 🙂

Spontaneity is the best medicine

Thursday was a pretty significant day in my life. Thursday was the end to finals week. Thursday was the end to my collegiate career. Thursday was the day I saw Ryan Gosling. Let me elaborate…

I was curled up in bed, ready for a night filled with Mad Men and a comfy sweater. All that changed when my friend Kimmie texted me saying Gangster Squad was filming in Hollywood…and that I should go try to find Ryan Gosling. I have to admit that I have become quite the Gosling fan over the past few months, something which was most heavily influenced by my affinity for Drive. With that said, I was immediately on-board with this scheme of Kimmie’s. Within an hour and a half she, Sam and I were parked just off Hollywood Boulevard, making our way by foot to the movie set outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The entire stretch of road between Highland and at least a street or two past the theater was blocked off and lined with pristine cars from the 50s. It was truly an incredible sight and worth the renegade midnight mission on its own. Seeing Ryan for a split second before he ducked into a van was pretty nice too. But the icing on the cake was definitely the unexpected time I got to spend with Kimmie and Sam being adventurous and spontaneous even though they were still in the midst of finals.

I live for spontaneity and adventures like that.

Kimmie was particularly excited to see the bus pictured behind her, part of the Los Angeles public transportation system she had been researching earlier that day.

It was pretty crazy to have gone from watching Mad Men on my computer to being surrounded by extras dressed in costumes from the same era.

Kimmie and a teeny tiny trailer.

Oh, I guess I’m a college graduate now?