Brotha from Anotha Motha! – Baldassare Forestiere and Simon Rodia

What leads people to create?  Maybe the answer is nostalgia, necessity, madness, or a mixture of all three?  Wouldn’t it be crazy if two people from the vicinity of Italy, who never knew each other, settled in California around the same time frame, started creating something grande in the same vein?

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 10.16.16 PM

Its hard to believe, but something like this actually happened.  I’m so fortunate to have visited Watts Towers last year, where I witnessed the artistry and engineering of Simon Rodia, who tirelessly worked from 1921 to 1954 to create his towering masterpiece Nuestro Pueblo. I couldn’t find any website that suggested why he would want to spend 30 years of his life building the towers. I suppose it was just a calling, a hobby, and an homage to his homeland, Italy.

Meanwhile, in Fresno, California, a Sicilian man named Baldassare Forestiere was dying from the sweltering central valley summers, and had discovered that the 80+ acres of land he just purchased was unfarmable.  He proceeded to build an underground respite by hallowing out over 10 acres of land; a 40 year labor of love (1906-1946).  He built everything by hand, and engineered everything without blueprints or notes. What he was able to do without any formal training was absolutely stunning.  I was lucky to have had the opportunity to visit the grounds.

You enter into a well maintained rose and citrus garden.  The roses smell wonderful and some of the citrus grow larger than your head!

Before the tour you wait in a shady path lined with benches situated close to the entrance of the underground gardens. Even though it was pretty hot outside, because you are slightly below ground level at this point, you can already start to feel the temperature cool.

Once the tour starts you are led immediately into the Forestiere property, which is anywhere from 10 to 20 feet underground.  The cooling effect is pretty immediate, and it feels very good to be there.

Forestiere came to America to find his fortune in citrus farming. But, after discovering that his entire property was not farmable, he began digging and making his home.

Because of his background in farming, he was able to incorporate horticulture into his architecture.

He had many rooms underground where he planted citrus trees.  He farmed them differently from most people.  Because they grew underground, instead of having to climb the trees to harvest the fruits, he could just go above ground and pick the fruit off the top of the trees.

He also practiced the art of grafting fruit trees.  Some of the trees would have many different kinds of citrus growing on one tree.  Just imaging one tree filled with oranges, lemons and grapefruits.  It sounds like a fairytale tree to me. 🙂

He also used the sun to his advantage.  He heated water by the sun to use for his bath water, and he had an insulated bedroom for the winter, as well as an open room for the summer.

As the tour guide explained how he lived, I could see myself living the same way more and more.  Everything he did made sense, and was done in the most simple way possible.

The craziest part for me was when the tour guide led us to a part of the house that was supposed to resemble a boat pointing toward the pacific.  Simon Rodia had also built his towers to be shaped like a boat pointing toward Italy.

Whatever the reasons for this insatiable need to build, theres no doubt that both of these men carved out a piece of culture in California.  I highly recommend visiting both landmarks if you get the chance.  🙂






Tiki Time at the Coconut Club

I heard about the Coconut Club about a year ago in the LA Weekly or something that gets sent to my junk mail email account.  I sure am glad I checked my mail that day!

Since the day I heard about the Coconut Club, I’ve been very patient, waiting for exactly the right time to go.  Last month I got an email from them about their upcoming event, Glamourous Evening Deluxe, and I immediately bought my ticket.  10 minutes later the event was sold out.

The Coconut Club is a monthly(ish) supper club taking place at Sonny’s Hideaway (sometimes) in Highland Park.

L.A. people can back me up on this.  If you live in Los Angeles, specifically in Culver City (the westside), you do not go to Highland Park (the eastside) on a weekday, you just don’t do it.  But, when passion fruit gin prosecco punch is calling your name, you can’t ignore it.  I went against all of the unwritten rules of L.A. rush hour traffic, got in a Lyft, and I headed to the Eastside.  I don’t regret a thing.

Lauren of The Jolly Fox fame accompanied me to the Club, where we were greeted with the punch and then seated to warm coconut shaped bread and pineapple butter (that was shaped like a pineapple!).  It was amazingly good, and so damn cute.

The first drink was SERVED IN A LITTLE CHAIR, and had savory and sweet garnishes.  That was only the beginning.

The next drink was a surf and turf cocktail with Kimosabe Mezcal and “green juice”.  It was served beside a little mound of fake astroturf and a miniature flamingo.

The last drink was the holy grail of tiki drinks.  It was a coconut chalice that was served on fire!  Anyone who knows me knows that I like my food to be on fire whenever possible.  I was very pleased.  It was lovingly made with Blue Chair Bay Rum, Herbsaint, coconut, pineapple, creme de menthe, and had dark chocolate-dipped coconut macaroon.  (Are you drooling yet?)

Where else in L.A. do you get to drink cocktails out of fresh coconuts?  Where else can you get dolled up and dress in black sequins on a Monday night? Where else is it acceptable to wear a fez?  Where else are your garnishes made of huge pieces of meat? Where else do you Karaoke Beach Boys songs in front of everyone while watching soft core porn?

The Coconut Club is one of a kind, and I hope to be quick on the draw and get my ticket for next time 🙂

If you ever do make it to the Coconut Club, be sure to check out my next blog post about making your own mini fez so you can be prepared with the proper head dress!

Edit:  I was featured on the Coconut Club instagram!

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.13.22 PM

Watts, a Bucket List Daytrip.

I think my mom was the first person to tell me about Watts Towers. Many a hippie in her day had sojourned to the depths of South Central to see this magnificent work of art.  Ever since I found out about the towers, I knew that one day I would visit.  The visit I had this weekend was definitely long overdue, but I’m happy to say that I can finally scratch this little Los Angeles adventure off of the list!

I think the most amazing thing about this piece is that it was created by one person, Simon Rodia, who worked tirelessly for over thirty years to create his masterpiece.  Then, when it was done, he simply gave the ownership of the property to his neighbor and walked away,  leaving behind a legacy that in its own way, paid homage to the legacies of his heroes- Da Vinci, Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. Its really like nothing you have ever seen! Everyone in Los Angeles should give it a visit. Even if you are not from L.A., it is definitely worth your while to make a little detour over to Watts Towers.  Tours are $7 which includes access to a small art exhibit in their visitor center and a short documentary.

It was a hot day in Watts and we didn’t eat any breakfast, so we decided to try Hawkins House of Burgers. It was pretty damn tasty. Brian really liked his fat egg cheese burger, and my fish sandwich was perfectly cooked. The onion rings are awesome, too!

We decided that we were on a roll and so on the way home we stopped by another Los Angeles landmark, Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, Ca.  I love the 50s vibe, and don’t be fooled by the kitschiness, these donuts are REALLY good. We got two jelly filled for two bucks!  Can’t beat
that. 🙂

Sunglasses + Vintage
80s shirt + Thrifted
Jean Skirt + Thrifted
Shoes + Vans

Watts Towers 1975

I couldn’t find the best way to incorporate this into my blog post from August when I visited the Watts Towers, but I still wanted to share some vintage photos from my Mom’s trip there in 1975. The Towers have changed a bit since 1975, you can’t climb on it anymore, and you can’t go inside without purchasing a tour. I don’t think the very last photo was at the towers, but its a random picture of my dad in the 70s!

Mazes and Surpises: La Brea and 1st.

As an Angelino, have you ever driven by that place on the corner of La Brea and 1st street and said, “what the heck is that?!” Well, after asking myself that for the last 10 years, I finally decided to stop in and see what exactly the place is about.

As it turns out, its kind of a neat place. It is called Metropolis Nick Collectible Furniture. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by an interesting fellow with purple hair (possibly Metropolis Nick). We walked through the place, which was like walking through a colorful maze. There are a lot of large vintage and antique pieces of furniture, paintings, and signage. But, there are small things that catch your eye too. It is definitely a fun place to check out if you are in the area.

On a side note, if you are a man on a mission in search of fashionable items, this is the area for you. Right next door to Metropolis Nicks there are several men’s fashion boutiques. (Sorry, that doesn’t sound very manly). They all are a bit different and all have great style (Union, Stussy, Undefeated, Black Scale, And Still). We went in store after store and it seemed to be never ending! There are also a couple of cute looking restaurants nearby, so you don’t have to shop till you drop.

Romper + Lulu*s
Sunglasses + Desert Daze find
Sandals + Amazon 😛

The Road to Kernville

Now, most people in LA are never going to say, “I want to go to Bakersfield this weekend!” Unless you are a trucker, or passing through to get to San Francisco or Sequoia, Bakersfield isn’t going to be on your radar. ever. That being said, its still kind of an interesting place. Because it is a major hub for people who are “just passing through”, it has a mysterious, eerie vibe of non permanence, at least the trucker motel we stayed at on our way to Kernville did.


I brought my cowboy boots because I thought we were going to go to a honky tonk bar the night we got there, but we were so exhausted by the time we got there that we just went straight to bed. I’m planning on going back to Kernville, so hopefully I will have another chance to get that Honky Tonk in.

So about Kernville. If you’re pretty much from anywhere else on the planet, you have a cool river to hang out at near you, but in Los Angeles, all we have is a huge ocean. Yes, we do have the L.A. River, and the folks here are putting in a great effort to revitalize that natural resource, but its going to take a while before you can swim or fish in it again (if ever).

Kernville is three hours away from L.A. by way of the scenic highway 178. I love that my boyfriend loves to drive on road trips, because I got to look at the view the whole way, and it was gorgeous!

The city of Kernville is really cute with a small western town feel. They also have their antique game down. They have some good stuff in those antique stores.

After we stuffed our faces at the Cracked Egg Cafe, we headed out to our camp at Headquarters Campground.

Headquarters Campground is located about 10 minutes from the city of Kernville. It is great because it is close to the river, and there are several campsites that are right along the river. The only downside is that each camp does not have a lot of shade cover, and privacy is definitely lacking between campsites. (We were at site # 30). We had a great time, though, and we made friends with the other campers. Don’t expect to have a quiet camping experience if you go though, thats not what this place is about. This place is about drinking beers on the river and hanging with your buds. Good times!

We had a great time camping in Kernville. We saw a couple of shooting stars and satellites, had a nice campfire, and ate a ton of food that we cooked over the fire. After we packed up camp and headed back to town, we decided to try stand up paddle boarding. The place we went to was very helpful and had a great rate for 4 hours of paddle boarding. We found out that we couldn’t paddle board on the river, so we headed to Lake Isabella which is about 10 minutes from Kernville.

We returned our rental exactly 4 hours later, and we were absolutely starving, so we decided to drop by the Kern River Brewing Co. It was a good decision on our part, if only for the amazing fried pickles! They also had a great house made BBQ Sauce. I got the beer sampler flight, and all of their beers are tasty, especially their Just Outstanding IPA.

heading home

After that we headed home, but I’m sure we will be back. We still need to try out river rafting, and other river sports that we don’t have back in LA. Until then….





Cowboy boots + Thrifted
Tan shorts + Gifted
Floyd Shirt + Walmart :-/ (sorry, I won’t do it again)
Bikini Day 1 + JC Penny?
Bikini Day 2 + American Apparel
Other top + An American Artist original

Joshua Tree Weekend Trip

Joshua Tree is about two hours from Los Angeles, but it feels like a whole different world. Brian and I have been on a roll when it comes to weekend camping trips lately, so when Brian’s friends invited us to join them in Joshua Tree, we couldn’t resist!

I did some research and realized that there were several points of interest along the way to JT that were worth checking out.

Our first stop was the in the unassuming little city of Rialto, CA. Right off of historic Route 66, you can find something you don’t see everyday. It is a very unique motel where all of the rooms are actually teepees! We didn’t get to look inside the “teepees”, but the outside was like nothing I have ever seen before.

Our next stop was the location of the first ever McDonalds. The actual restaurant was demolished, but the original sign is still there, as well as a commemorative museum. The museum is small and needs a little work, but it was fun to walk through and see all of the old characters that McDonalds has had through the years.

Our last stop before Joshua Tree was the famous Cabazon Dinosaur roadside attraction that is right off of the 10 freeway. I’ve been out that way a couple of times, but always managed to miss the dinos. I finally got out to check them out, and they are really quite large. It was a fun little photo opp!

Joshua Tree is calm and peaceful. When the sun went down we could see so many stars! Our group decided to star gaze, so we all laid out on huge boulders and looked up at the sky for a while. I think I saw 3 or 4 shooting stars that night. It was beautiful!

The next morning we decided to go rock hopping, because Joshua Tree has a ton of huge boulders. We spent a good hour or two hopping around rocks before heading home.

It was great to see all of the little stops hidden around California, and Joshua Tree was as beautiful as ever. I can’t wait to go again!

Shirt + Forever 21
Shorts + Forever 21
Shoes + Aldo

Gettin’ Idyllwild.

Last weekend Brian and I headed to Idyllwild with Rachelle, Aaron, Paula and Matt. Idyllwild is located on the west side of the San Jacinto mountain range. Just to give you some perspective, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree are on the east side of the range. The west side of the range is like a whole different world.

Brian was our designated driver again, so I got to record some of the view on the way over.

Before setting up camp we took an excursion into the town of Idyllwild to eat breakfast and shop. The area is full of travelers, bikers, rock climbers, hikers, locals, and occasionally adorable alpacas (I want one). There is so much to do here, that I feel like you should spend a weekend just staying in the town seeing all of the shops and restaurants, and another weekend just in the mountains checking out the different nature trails.

When we got to the campsite we set up, and then decided to go on an easy trail to warm up for the next day. We ended up on a horse trail, but it was beautiful just the same, and we got to see horses!

The next day we went on the Devil’s Slide trail. Apparently you need a permit to hike on state lands in Idyllwild, so be sure to stop by the Mt. San Jacinto State Park Ranger Station before you go so that you can register for a permit.

The Devil’s Slide trail was pretty hard, but it was completely worth it to get those amazing views. It was a great hike because it was perfect weather, and it was mostly shaded. We opted not to go to the top of the mountain due to time constraints, so we ended up at a junction that is part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
It was pretty awesome to be in the midst of people who were traveling so far. I would love to take a couple of months off and experience the trail from start to finish. Maybe one day…

Paso Robles Mini Road Trip

Going North, Paso Robles is 3 hours outside of L.A. Don’t even think about taking the 5 up there. If you want to actually enjoy yourself, take the 101. I love the area and try to go as often as I can (which hasn’t been too often lately).

Paso-7There are certain things I always try to do when I go to Paso Robles and the surrounding areas. I didn’t get around to doing everything I usually do, but I marked some good ones off the list this time around.

I always go to Rotta Winery and do a tasting, if only to get just a sample of their Black Monnuka dessert sherry. It may be the best dessert drink I have ever tried. I bought some bottles to take home with me this time around. 😉

There are many other fantastic wineries in the region, I wish I had time to do a couple of more tastings, but that Black Monnuka draws me in every time.

I also always go to Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, CA. It just might be the best pizza I have ever eaten. I love the town too. After having not visited for a number of years, I was happy to see that the town is growing and even has some new restaurants and bars. I’d love to try them next time I go up.

I also always see the ocean- California’s #1 roadside attraction. Brian and I just happened to catch the tail end of a beautiful sunset.

There were a couple of new things that I did when I was in Paso that I really enjoyed! I had not been to Paso in a couple of years, so this time around there were new places to go!

I went to a new Olive Oil Farm!

Kiler Ridge Olive Oil Farm had great scenery and a fantastic and informative tasting for only $5! It is great for taking a break between wine tastings. They even have a cute olive oil dog! I would definitely go back the next time I’m in the area and get another tasting.

We also went to a relatively new brewery called BarrelHouse Brewing Company and sampled all of the beers that they had on tap. Everything we tried was delicious. They even have free pretzels and mustard to munch on while you’re sipping your beers!

We were in a sampling mood, so we went to Vivant, the local cheese shop to see what they had. We were introduced to the cheeses of Central Coast Creamery, which were absolutely fantastic. We bought two hunks of cheese to take home with us. Its too bad Central Coast Creamery does not have a tasting room. I would be all over that in a second. Their cheese is delicious.

I also went to The Ghostriders Tavern in Los Alamos for the first time. It was not at all what I expected. I always thought there would be a plethora of burly bikers inside, and I was always kind of anxious to go in in the past. But we decided to check it out, and there were actually only a couple of regular looking folks in there. It was great being so empty, because it gave us plenty of room to play pool.

The last (actually first) thing I did for the first time in that area was visit the small town of Santa Margarita. There isn’t much there, but they did have a cute cafe that Brian and I ate breakfast at, and a very decent antique store right next door. I mean, where else in the world can you find a 1954 edition of Chinchilla News?

Paso Robles and the surrounding cities are places you wish you could stay at for just one more day. If I had time I would go to the Madonna Inn for a fancy surf and turf dinner, check out the lavender farm in Los Olivos, and maybe do a couple of more wine tastings, go antiquing in Los Alamos and try their new lunch spot Bell Street Farm. Maybe if I was feeling adventurous, I would even go dancing in Santa Barbara! Next time…

Dress + H&M
Shoes + Kelly & Katie