Monday, February 23, 2009

Livin' in Beverly Hills...

Recently (as in last weekend) I took a trip out west to discover LA in a whole new way. I set out with my best friend Lindsey to experience life like the stars (not the celestial type) in one of LA's hottest hoods; Beverly Hills! Here's our story...

Just a quick housekeeping note...cabs from LAX to Beverly Hills will try to rip you off!!! Apparently there's a flat rate of $38 that we didn't know about and got scammed for $55 the first day :(

he Four Seasons Beverly Hills Wilshire is the epitome of glamor, luxury and exquisite service. Upon arrival Linds and I were immediately greeted with personal service and cute attendants (Sean). They took our bags straight to our room and wished Linds a happy early birthday (random greeting girl said it - kinda'd she know?) but impressive nonetheless!

Two hours later, we were still lounging about our hotel room, trying to figure out dinner plans, ultimately deciding to head over to West Hollywood to dine with Eva Longoria. Ok, we dined at her restaurant, Beso, which was fabulous. I must now disclaim our 2nd cab mishap. You see, we are used to mildly inflated cab fares in Chicago, but never fathomed we'd be experiencing highway robbery. That's right, our round trip cab to dinner was more than our dinners combined!!! Yikes! Yep we paid a pretty penny ($65 to be exact) for that 12 mile trip!!! After swallowing this news, we were almost no longer hungry. However, we were still able to scarf down some amazing guacamole and chips, soup and salad. All in all, the food was pretty tasty. Yest the service left something to be desired. The waiter was a bit rude after we didn't order alcoholic beverages (prob thought we wouldn't be big spenders - he was right). And then the food runners kept bringing us other people's appetizers as a harsh tease! Heading home on sunset boulevard, filled to our heart's content we conceded that it indeed was all worth the dough we forked over to get there!

Day 2
Friday it rained. But we would not melt. Even after our driver tried to convince us that the .9mile walk between the restaurant he dropped us off at and Fred Segal was an impossible walk, we did not fear. Nope, we strapped on our mid-west walking shoes, and held our FS umbrellas high and went about our day. The morning started with a run down Rodeo Dr. and then lunch at the famous Urth Cafe (fab grub).

We then headed to go celeb sighting at Fred Segal, but the only celeb
we saw was the designer name on the jeans Linds fell in love with! We then headed to the famous Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shop for some Chai and Jasmine tea, mmmm! And this is the point that our driver in the Mercedes S550 almost left us bc Lindsey's cell wasn't getting his call. The man had a tude...but we didn't let him steal our thunder, haha! Then it was back to the hotel to change and prep for dinner at AOC Winebar & Tapas. Which, both Linds and I would argue were the BEST tapas of our lives! If you go to LA look it up!

Back at the hotel we hit up SideBar for some dessert and to check out the scene. Good food, sub par scene.

Day 3

Linds surprised me with the gift of matching pj's for sweet! We then took a run to Toast, apparently a celeb-sighting breakfast spot, but i guess we got there too early for the party animals. The only thing worth looking at there was our waiter Rory...and the food, haha. It was afterall, Valentine's Day! Rory, an Indiana native, quickly bonded with us Midwest gals and shared some recos for nightlife along with his number. He gave us a free Red Velvet Cupcake for the occasion too! Love Rory. We walked back 2.5 miles to the hotel and hit the hot tub to soothe Linds's shin splints and then laid out to dry off for a bit. Today was the warmest, sunniest day of the trip.

We then got ready and were picked up by our mutual friend Kristine who lives in L.A. She was going to show us the sights in Hollywood. Our first stop...IN-N-OUT Burger - WOW! This place certainly lived up to it's legacy and was by far the cheapest meal of the trip. Next was the red carpet, Kodak Theater and Chinese Theater. We were amused by the stars and hand prints and of course the Asian tourists who in their typical fashion mauled us at all the great photo opps! haha...gotta love em! Then we were off to the HOLLYWOOD sign for a hike up through Beachwood Canyon. We got a little lost and caught a lucky break. An elderly man who had lived in the hood for 20+ years was friendly enough to talk to us through his window and guide us to the best view of HOLLYWOOD and downtown LA. Thank you sir!

Then it was back to the hotel to clean up for a romantic night out at one of the city's hottest sushi joints, KOI. Rolling up in the Rolls Royce Phantom, we felt like kinda a big deal! We got lounge seats (after about an hours wait) and savored every delicacy we ordered. Kristine even salvaged a piece of my Eel and Avocado Roll that fell on the floor - "It's too good to waste". Indeed it was! Then we split a molten chocolate cake with berries that was sweeter than any boy, haha. We had high hopes of going out and making a splash this night, but after dinner was over at 11:30, we lost our motivation and went back to the FS to chill in our new upgraded room that overlooked Rodeo Dr.!

Day 4
Sunday started with church at Mosaic, which was held at the Beverly Hills HS (scene of Beverly Hills 90210 if you remember that show!). Great message and awesome people. Ended up seeing a guy Linds knew from Chicago and making friends with others. Then off for a pizza lunch at Pizzeria Rustica, Linds' birthday choice. The guy there was super nice and obviously though Linds was a babe and gave us quite the deal. Then it was back to the hotel for a tour of the Penthouse Suite, compliments of Lindsey's old co-worker. The place was A-Mazing and only $10K/night!!! Beyonce and JayZ were just there, no biggie! Next off to the hot tub and spa! The steam room was incredible and we cooled off in the aroma therapy shower.

Back at the room we enjoyed a complimentary surprise birthday treat from the hotel and then it was off to El Torrito (yay, Mexian) to meet Linds' high school friend for her birthday dinner. The food was delish. Complimentary chips, salsa, tortillas and honey butter - awesome! And we all sang happy birthday to Linds over her fabulous flan delight! PS. the female server insisted on spoon feeding Lindsey her first bite, hehe!

We capped off the night with a stop at Crumbs bakery and went home with 3 decadent cupcakes to share. I think we were all feeling sick at this point...3 desserts in one day, whew!

Day 5
Our last day in Beverly Hills. A sad one indeed. We finally decided to take advantage of our 50% off discount on on-site dining at the Boulevard restaurant. So...we decided to go big and go home! We somehow managed to spend $107 (pre-discount) on breakfast. Oops! Who knew Fiji water would be $8??? He asked me, "Would you like sparkling or flat?" Thinking "flat" meant "tap" I chose that. The next thing i know he's walking over with a Fiji bottle and two stem glasses!!! We just couldn't say no! haha.

Then off to the airport armed with our new knowledge of the $38 flat fee rule. We were sad to say
goodbye to the ritz and swank of Hollywood, but ultimately knew our Oklahoma and Minnesota roots ran a lil' too deep for the skin thin likes of L.A. Chi is "our kind of town." :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kodak Life...

You never know when you're gonna get a photo opp. That's my philosophy behind always having my trusty digi camera by my side, in my purse, back pocket or somehow attached to me. This routine has enabled numerous random capturings during my time in Chicago. Thus I wanted to share my most recent.

Last night, as I was walking home (in the 60 degree weather), I stumbled upon this...

Imagine my surprise in finding these two travelers along my buzzing path (Mich Ave). They looked quite out of place, yet, i can't pinpoint if it was the lack of city garb or their blank expressions that set them apart. Regardless, I, like any good Samaritan, stopped to appreciate their uniqueness, give them some advice and of course take the photo opp!

I assumed they were headed for the Art Institute of Chicago (just a hunch), so I sent them on their way and continued making my way up the Mag Mile.

Ahh...another great day in the city.

Glad I could cash in on this Kodak, ahem, Cannon Moment!

Note: If you're in the Chi area, i recommend a trip to see this quaint, unexpected rendition of the American Gothic portrait.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Double Dip? Yes Please!

Normally, I hate the concept of "double dipping" (unless of course it's me with salsa, ketchup, hummus or guac, haha). But for this post it's ideal! Reason being...I'm going to share with you 2 fab dip recipes I got from my wonderful friend Annabelle before the Super Bowl!

1 jar of store bought salsa ( i prefer Pace Medium)

1 chopped red onion ( i only used half a red onion)
1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 sm bag of frozen corn (for reg sized bag, just use half)
fresh cilantro (about 1/2 to 1 bundle)
1 lime (squeeze out juice to taste)

Mix everything 2gether! One thing to note - leave the corn frozen. This actually helps keep the salsa chilled and ready to serve, even if it's a new jar that has been in the
pantry. You probably won't use the whole bag, consider how much salsa you are making, try it and see if it needs more! I use a lot of Cilantro because it's bueno!

See was GONE before the Cardinals could even think about catching up!

2. Holy Guacamole

7 avocados (soft)
1 small red onion (chopped)
1 small tomato (chopped)
1 fresh lime, fresh cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
garlic powder or fresh garlic (to taste)
salt (to taste)

Remove the avocado pits and mash the avocado in a bowl (save pits for leftover guac to keep it fresh - if there is any). Add all of the ingredients above leaving the salt, garlic powder and paprika at the end. You can vary the amounts of ingredients...i just made it with 4 avocados and 1/2 onion and used a whole lime. It's really dependent on personal preferences. Enjoy...I don't call it "holy" for nothing!

And the winner is...

I bet you thought I was going to finish this post title with "The Steelers", however, in the Marketing World, Doritos took home the trophy! Another Super Bowl has come and gone and being an "Ad" person I feel compelled to share some highlights.

So, this is the ad that drove fans crazy...apparently, sophomoric humor still wins over the masses in America these days. This one hit wonder of a spot wasn't created by ingenious ad folks like me, nope, 2 unemployed bros in Indiana created it for the Doritos Super Bowl ad contest and struck gold. (measured in fame and $) It wasn't my fave, but we'll get to that.

This ad by Pepsico gets my "Worst Super Bowl Ad Award". It is not only ridiculous and annoying, but is totally intellectually insulting. I mean, seriously, I felt dumber having watched it.

"Circus" by Budweiser gets my "Fave Super Bowl Ad Award". It's emotional, charming, has a great soundtrack, and includes my favorite animals, horses. The storyline is clever and engaging and I can't forget the funnies part - when the fat lady falls off Daisy, hahaha...just makes me giggle :)

So...that's a wrap. Stay tuned :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 Reasons I LUV Being 25!

So... I had such an A-mazing 25th birthday it was easy to decide on the topic of my next blog post! I have felt so overjoyed the past 72 hours and thought I'd share some of the top things that make the BIG 2-5 the best birthday yet! We'll count down from 25 for a slow reveal :)

25. I'm a Quarter of a Century Old...and everyone reminds me
24. Lower car insurance (if i had a car)
23. Inevitably being "wiser"
22. My birthday was finally on a Saturday!
21. Birthday Brunch Tradition Begins (thanks Beebs)
20. Got a Mani on the Boss
19. Treated myself to a massage
18. Got to meet my Muffin's sister!
17. Cookie cake, mmmmm...
16. P.S. I Love You (thanks Britt)
15. 1st time i celebrated with donuts (thanks Kim)
14. Wearing Britt's B-day Glasses
13. 5 is my favorite number
12. The best things get better with age...
11. Another year of opportunity
10. Falling in love with blogging
9. Church on my birthday

8. My niece will be 1!!!
7. Indiana, L.A., Boston,Costa Rica, Hawaii - YAY
6. Saving for my dreams...
5. Finally being considered an "adult" in the business world
4. Diamond Earrings from Mom! What what!
3. Fun night of Mexican and Dancing!
2. Getting a singing telegram named "Looney Bird" from my friends.
1. 25 Blessed Years of Memories! And hopefully 75 more!