Delicious blueberries are a favorite for good reason – they’re rich in disease-fighting nutrients and are a good source of antioxidants.
Well, it is one of our favorite holidays around here, and if you’re looking for something to keep you in the Halloween spirit year round, then have a peek at our first sample of Mister Ghost’s Highly Enviable Monthly Parcel of Simple Yet Amazing Wonderments.
Los Angeles is a vacation spot that I frequent often, for one I have close family there and I can’t resist a nice beach, but also because it has some incredible places to see! Last week I decided to take a tour of some of my very favorite L.A. landmarks and share them here.
1.) Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory was made uber-famous this year by the movie La La Land, also making the place really crowded these days. But don’t let the crowds dissuade you, it truly is a magical must-see spot in L.A.
And I swear that the view under the moonlight in real life was even more romantic and enchanting than the movie.
When you walk inside the observatory, look up to see the intricate ceiling mural. The mural was created by Hugo Ballin, and the Griffith Observatory site describes the mural:
The Ballin ceiling mural celebrates classical celestial mythology, with images of Atlas, the four winds, the planets as gods, and the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The eight rectangular Ballin wall murals depict the “Advancement of Science” with panels on astronomy, aeronautics, navigation, civil engineering, metallurgy and electricity, time, geology and biology, and mathematics and physics.
The rooftop terrace was my favorite spot.
The observatory sits atop Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. Visit the Griffith Observatory site for planetarium showtimes and observatory information.
2.) The Getty Center
Another one of our must-see places was the Getty Museum, which is a Los Angeles Eden unto itself resting in the hills above the city with the architecture of the building, the elaborate gardens, and the art it houses.
When you first arrive at the Getty, you’re directed to a tram to take you to the Getty Center, which contains the museum, the gardens, and dining. The tram ride is a smooth and scenic journey taking you up through the hills; much like the train ride in Hunger Games as my daughter humorously pointed out. However, instead of finding vicious games on arrival, you walk into a California paradise.
The first thing that struck me was the spectacular architecture of the Getty Center, which was designed by Richard Meier. The buildings combine modern, curvilinear designs with generous utilization of natural lighting to create a solid, clean, and natural experience.
The Getty Museum features a wide range of art, ranging from ancient antiquities to modern exhibits, making it an excellent cultural touchstone for all ages.
I was very interested in the current exhibit, Concrete Poetry: Words and Sounds in Graphic Space, so that’s where we started our tour. It showcased works by foundational figures Augusto de Campos and Ian Hamilton Finlay as well as contemporary poets including Henri Chopin, Eugen Gomringer, Ernst Jandl, Mary Ellen Solt, and Emmett Williams.
The simple beauty of this work by Eugen Gomringer astounded me:
Another interesting exhibit was the visual poem “O Pulsar” (1975) by Augusto de Campos with music by Caetano Veloso:
While exploring the various exhibits, you can stop to take in breathtaking views of the city, like this one as seen from the Greek sculpture building:
Step outside of the museum to see the manicured gardens of the Getty Center, like this cactus garden overlooking downtown L.A.
There was really an incredible variety of art to see here; to see more of the wide range of exhibits you can see at the museum, visit the Getty site.
3.) Santa Monica Pier
If you absolutely adore the beach, like I do, then you might want to drive south of L.A. to the Santa Monica Pier for long stretches of beach, seaside dining, and you can even take the kids to the pier amusement park if you like.
You can take the highway to the pier from the city, which will land you quicker, but if you have the time, I would highly recommend taking a drive on the nearby scenic Topanga Canyon Boulevard, which goes through Topanga State Park and is just beautiful.
When we first arrived, we walked the pier, which also serves as the famous “End of the Trail” landmark signifying the end of the historic Route 66.
Notice “Pier Burger” in the background? This little stand served some amazing old-fashioned greasy grilled burgers. We also enjoyed some ocean-fresh seafood on the pier, which can’t be beat!
The pier amusement park has a number of cute rides including a carousel for the little ones and the iconic Santa Monica solar-paneled ferris wheel.
The Santa Monica beaches are waiting for you to stretch out your towels and enjoy the soft sands and cool waves. It was a cloudy day when we went, but the beach was still gorgeous and very relaxing.
You can find pier walking tours, concert schedules, and more on the Santa Monica Pier site.
The next day we had to make a visit to another one of L.A.’s most valued museums, LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art). LACMA also has a wide variety of art on display from around the globe and from a number of time periods, and showcases a stunning collection of contemporary art, including a room full of Picasso paintings and works by Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.
When you walk into LACMA, you are greeted by Tony Smith’s massive sculpture Smoke (1967).
The entrance also had Abdulnasser Gharem’s Pause on display, which featured Arabic and English text both reading from right to left. LACMA gives some insight into Gharem’s work and its connection to 9-11:
For Gharem, like most of us, seeing the World Trade Center destroyed on television was one of those terrible moments that seems to make the world stand still or pause. Gharem has deeply absorbed this notion of pause into his work both as an occasion to examine certain universal dichotomies, which lead us to choose our life’s paths…
5.) La Brea Tar Pits
So what’s really amazing, is that in the middle of this busy city, full of bustling traffic and towering buildings, are ancient bubbling tar pits.
Right next to LACMA are the La Brea tar pits. Here you can see fossils of extinct animals sticking out of these tar pits, and some of them hold hundreds of fossils of animals who got trapped in the pits, either trying to get the meat of other animals or just wandering in.
This was one of the smallest tar pits there, but I took this photo because it was the closest I got to one.
You can have a look at the fossils inside the museum, and watch some fun videos of the museum like this one at the La Brea Tar Pit site.
6.) Downtown L.A.
Last but not least – Downtown L.A.! Downtown L.A. is filled with culture; within a short walking distance, you can see the Museum of Contemporary Art, Olvera Street, and Little Tokyo, among other things!
Take a walk down Olvera Street for some Mexican food and margaritas, or shop at one of the many hispanic shops there.
You can also view the Avila Adobe on Olvera St., built in 1818, which is the oldest existing house in L.A.
Just a few blocks over is Little Tokyo, a beautiful center where you can enjoy Japanese dining, culture, and shopping.
There were so many cute things to buy here! I totally had to practice constraint!
One of the most interesting things I found was how people placed anonymous prayers on the prayer tree.
After long, exciting days of touring, there was always something delicious to be had in L.A. If Mexican or Japanese food doesn’t interest you after a day exploring the cultural centers downtown, then perhaps a taste of L.A.’s food trucks will. Just outside of Little Tokyo, you can try some of the city’s yummy food trucks, like the Blue Nova which serves L.A.’s unique ice cream rolls.
I hope you enjoyed my personal tour of L.A. It’s definitely a city rich in culture and full of magic!
Happy Earth Day!
If you’re looking for a reputable charity to donate to this Earth Day, then have a look at these great organizations as options. We all have causes that speak to our hearts, so hopefully this will help you choose one that you really feel passionate about.
All of these have been given high ratings from various charity watchdog organizations. The Charity Navigator Scores are listed for each:
This fund works with governments, organizations, and companies to aid in a wide range of causes, including climate change, oceans, wildlife, and health.
Charity Navigator Score: 94.81
The Rainforest Alliance works to protect rainforests, but also help to protect the communities and wildlife living in these areas by providing certification of rainforest products like bananas and coffee. In order to gain this certification, strict environmental guidelines must be adhered to.
Charity Navigator Score: 85.73
With the help of scientists, this group focuses on protecting important lands and waters and aids in climate change, fresh water, forests, invasive species, and marine ecosystems.
Charity Navigator Score: 84.35
This organization solely focuses on keeping oceans healthy. They help in oil spill clean-up, protect fragile ocean ecosystems from oil exploration and shipping damage, and protect oceanic creatures.
Charity Navigator Score: 90.87
Greenpeace is still as active as it ever was, working on protecting both land and sea from destruction, as well as the wildlife.
Charity Navigator Score: 88.01
The Sierra Club focuses on protecting land, solving climate change issues, and fostering a love for the outdoors in people.
Charity Navigator Score: 94.08
Last but not least, this organization received one of the highest scores on Charity Navigator, and The New York Times named the NRDC “one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups” which utilizes the combined effectiveness of scientists, activists, and lawyers to defend wildlife and natural resources.
Charity Navigator Score: 96.35
This weekend my friends and I enjoyed a rainy yet amazing tour of downtown Tulsa’s Modern architecture guided by the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. I always tell people that two of my favorite things about Tulsa are the friendly people and the architecture, and many of my favorite T-town buildings were covered in the tour.
When downtown Tulsa was forming, many local oil companies were booming from profits from automobile sales as well as profits from World Wars I and II, so they were able to invest in cutting edge architectural designs. That explains why many of these buildings were designed for the oil industry, and some of them still house oil companies today.
One of the first stops on the tour was the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building (1954). The building was first designed by the architectural firm Koberling and Brandborg AIA and constructed in 1954. Originally, the building was only three stories high, but the need for more office space, including making room for the first computers, gave a need for more stories. So in 1969, nine additional stories were designed by architect Joseph R. Koberling and engineer W. C. Roads and added to the structure.
The Blue Cross Building also features an Art Deco frieze above the entrance. Tulsa is perhaps most famous for its Art Deco architecture, but in many of the city’s buildings, Art Deco and Modern decor and design overlap each other.
Warren Petroleum (International Plaza, 1957) was designed by Chicago’s Sears Tower, or Willis Tower, architect Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), and was one of the most interesting legs of TFA’s Tulsa Modern architecture tour. In its heyday it was filled with the best in modern furniture, including Barcelona chairs and Eames office furniture, during an era when many businesses felt that their office building’s architecture and style were a direct reflection of their awareness of the needs of the times.
You can see a bit of one of the environmental functional design features in the photos above, how the Warren Petroleum/International Plaza Building used double-glass-paned windows to absorb the heat of the sun and help to keep the interior cool naturally. The concept was inspired by the Swiss-French modern architect Le Corbusier’s “neutralizing wall,” which allows air to circulate between panes of glass.
Originally the Kewanee Oil Building (1953), the office located at 14th and Boulder showcases another Art Deco frieze similar to the one displayed in the Blue Cross building, and is one of Tulsa’s Modern buildings exhibiting Bauhaus influences, designed with clean lines and lots of glass.
Here we see Tulsa’s well known Skelly Building/Boulder Towers Building (1960). This structure was originally built for Skelly Oil Company and Cities Service. With changes of hands over the years, the building has also been known as the Getty Oil Co. Building (1980) and later on, the Texaco Building.
Boulder Towers is located on the northeast corner of 15th Street and Boulder Avenue.
Caddy-corner to Boulder Towers is the Liberty Towers Building (1965), which was designed by the architectural firm Kelley-Marshall Architects, known for their Modern high rises.
The University Club Tower (1967), popularly dubbed the “Syringe,” is a well known Tulsa landmark because of its unique shape.
The Murphy Oil/Langdon Publishing Building (1960) also showcases clean lines in its design, as well as a cozy alcove of an entrance.
Various Modern structures are visible from the Gallagher/Bryce Building on Main near 14th, a stop which was in the final leg of TFA’s Tulsa Modern architecture tour. This is a great example of different Modern styles in one corner. Note the historic Holmes building in the background.
From this site, we could see the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church from afar, one of Tulsa’s most famous buildings which was designed by Adah Robinson and one of my favorite architects, Bruce Goff. On a side note, Bruce Goff also designed the Bavinger House constructed from spiraling sandstone, an architectural gem which was set in Norman, Oklahoma, but unfortunately the house was destroyed by a storm. The Bavinger House is one of the most interesting designed structures I have ever seen.
Here are some close-ups of Boston Ave. UMC that I had taken previously.
The Boston Ave. UMC tower is a great example of Art Deco design.
That was my rainy day view of downtown Tulsa’s Modern architecture. As much as I love rainy weather, one day I hope to provide another sunnier perspective of all of these places!
If you’re interested in seeing more of Tulsa’s architectural designs, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture gives tours every second Saturday; you can find tour information and more on the TFA site.
When you get the kids in the kitchen, you make both great food and great memories. This simple yet tasty three-ingredient recipe for cherry jam uses frozen fruit, chia seeds and maple syrup.
It’s an all-family activity that gets kids and parents working together to create treats that can be shared with friends, family and neighbors. The short cook time and inexpensive ingredients make this recipe perfect for time and cash-strapped families, all for a little over $5 per batch.
Lana Del Rey now has a dreamy video, complete with flying cars in outer space along with more fun beach scenes that we’ve come to love in her videos, yet with a very new spin because it appears that the kids are playing in a crater lake on a new planet, for the new song which she released this weekend, “Love.”