life

Girls Trip: Los Angeles, CA

Melissa here. I’m three weeks overdue with this post, but I’m excited to tell you more about my mid-July trip to Los Angeles to visit one of my best friends, Heather! Heather and I have known each other since high school. We ran cross country together, and served on student council together. Most recently, she stood by Joey and me on our wedding day. We’ve had so many sleepovers I’ve lost count, but none of them compare to our most recent sleepover in LA.


Importance of Girls Trips

Have you seen the movie “Girls Trip” yet? It’s hysterical and reminds you of the important role your friends play in your life. Sometimes, you just need to get away with your girls and talk about girly things – like what types of face wash you’re using nowadays and what happened on your latest date.

Although my girls trip to LA didn’t have drama like the movie (Thank, God.), it did allow me to reconnect with one of my best friends. Heather and I haven’t lived in the same city since graduating high school in 2009. We catch up as often as we can, but nothing beats a long weekend exploring, beaching, dining, and lounging.


Exploring Los Angeles

Friday

My flight landed around 6:30 p.m. on Friday night. We headed straight to the Venice Beach area to see the sunset. As the temperatures dropped quickly to a chilly 68 degrees (don’t judge me), I forced us to retreat to Heather’s apartment in Marina del Rey. There, I was able to drop off my suitcase and put on a jacket. Then, we took a Lyft over to Abbott Kinney to eat at The Butcher’s Daughter. The wait was about 45 minutes, so we walked down to The Brig for drinks. Heather ordered a Mexican Mule, and I had my typical Gin and Tonic. When our table was ready at The Butcher’s Daughter, we settled in with a glass of their house red wine. Over great conversation, we enjoyed our vegetarian Carbonara and Risotto. Everything was delicious! After dinner, we went back to Heather’s and passed out. We wanted to conserve our energy for an unplanned busy Saturday.

Saturday

On Saturday morning, we heated up microwaveable breakfast sandwiches (don’t judge us) and got iced coffees from Dunkin’ Donuts. We were in a rush to get to the Griffith Observatory, so I could see the Hollywood sign for the first time. This was my first trip to Los Angeles, and I told Heather, “I don’t care what we do as long as we get to see the Hollywood sign.” After taking a million pictures in front of the sign alongside a million other tourists, we explored the observatory some more, and Heather showed me the LA neighborhoods from a cool vantage point.

After the Hollywood sign, we ventured over to Hermosa Beach, where we met up with some of Heather’s friends. Everyone was so nice and even shared their pizza with me after Heather and I skipped lunch to rush over to the beach. The weather was absolutely perfect – high of 75 with not a cloud in the sky. Even though the water was a bit too cold for me, it was incredible to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean. It’s not something I get to do too often! We laid out for a few hours.

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After beaching, we headed to the Hermosa pier to eat. As a group, we all checked out The Baked Bear, which puts ice cream in between two cookies. Heather and I split our ice cream sandwich, and then split off from the group to get a real meal. I ordered a chicken sandwich and Heather ordered a burger from American Junkie off Hermosa Pier. The food was your typical bar food, but you couldn’t beat sitting on the pier while the sun sets in the distant.

After exploring Hermosa Beach, we relaxed at Heather’s apartment and called it another early night. Beaching ain’t easy.

Sunday

On Sunday morning, we woke up to go to brunch at The Misfit in Santa Monica. Another one of my bridesmaids and best friends, Meredith, was also in LA to visit her sister, Angela. (I promise we didn’t plan our overlap.) It was so fun watching my two worlds collide in Santa Monica. We had such a fun time eating way too much food. I ordered a Bloody Mary, salmon toast, and Brussels sprouts. (DID YOU KNOW THAT’S HOW BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE SPELLED?) It was all so yummy!

From there, Heather and I ventured to the Santa Monica pier where we took a lot more photos. We decided we hadn’t eaten enough (not really, but the views were unbeatable), so we stopped in at Mariasol, where I had the best Piña Colada ever. There were also chips and salsa, which you can never turn down. Our seats overlooked the end of the pier, where there was an entertaining street singer. After a lot of uncomfortable staring, Heather and I both decided he was lip syncing. Nonetheless, his 1990’s/2000’s alternative covers were fun(ny).

For some reason, Heather and I were so tired. We ended up going back to Heather’s apartment to nap. We woke up just in time to eat dinner. Sunday was definitely our foodie day. For dinner, we headed to ROC at Playa Vista, where Heather’s roommate ordered everything for us. We had scallion pancakes, crab fried rice, soup dumplings, garlic green beans, and pork wraps. I doubt those are the Taiwanese titles of the dishes, but I never saw the menu and appreciate the nicknames. I left feeling so happily stuffed.

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After dinner, we stayed up and chatted for a while about so many topics. From foster care and adoption to discrimination. Again, we went to bed early, because my flight was out of LAX at 7:00 a.m. I was so sad for this trip to come to an end.


Thanks, Heather!

Thanks for generously hosting me for a long weekend in LA, Heather! I appreciate you playing tour guide, and not over scheduling our weekend. I loved our chats and just being able to relax on the beach. I can’t wait to do it again. Thanks for an amazing Girls Trip!

eats, life

Book Review: “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon

It’s Melissa again. I recently wrapped up “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon. After reviewing “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn, we chose this as our June book, and we made another great pick! This time, it was my turn to host Book Club, and after reading this quirky story, I was excited to plan a completely Eleanor Oliphant themed evening.

First, let’s start with the review:


4 out 5 stars

“Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel” by Gail Honeymoon is the unique story of Eleanor Oliphant, a young woman who, after experiencing extreme childhood trauma, struggles to move forward in her life. Eleanor lives by a strict routine, from eating the same meals to scheduling out repetitive days of the week. When Eleanor develops a crush on a local singer, her beloved routine falls to the wayside, and she opens herself up to chaos. Along the way, she finds some friends who will help her pick up the pieces as she tries to uncover the truths of her childhood.

The book is brilliantly written and fun to read, which is why I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Gail Honeymoon does an incredible job of making you feel as uncomfortable as Eleanor acts at many moments throughout the book. Honeymoon also leaves you wanting to know more about what happened to Eleanor. Without giving away too much, Honeymoon also incorporates a twist at the end, which I had wondered about from very early on. Once you read, you’ll have to tell me if you had the same thought too! Overall, I highly recommend this book, and you should BUY IT NOW!


Hitting Close To Home

I wanted to include one side note about how this book hit very close to home for me. From very early on, the book talks about Eleanor’s caseworkers coming to visit her. Because of her extreme childhood trauma, Eleanor was placed in the foster care system. I work for Arms Wide Adoption Services, and we are dedicated to finding forever families for children in foster care. While reading, I found myself wondering,

“Had Eleanor been adopted, would this entire story be different?”

This question made for a great Book Club discussion. Although we decided we’re unsure adoption would have changed Eleanor’s life, we did decide people too often assumed Eleanor was fragile. We think if someone pushed her more about her past, she could have faced her demons earlier on. This may have helped her establish a healthier, more normal (but probably still fairly strict) routine.


Now, More On Book Club

I have mentioned Eleanor’s routine a lot so far! When she found something she liked, she stuck with it forever. Throughout the story, Eleanor would eat the same meal or drink the same beverage every day. That’s why I decided to offer an Eleanor Oliphant themed spread for our Book Club.

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From left to right: Cheese scones, ingredients for vodka colas, Magners Irish Cider, and pasta a la pesto. Cheers to Book Club, and cheers to you, Eleanor Oliphant!

If you’re interested in making these delicious gluten free cheese scones, you can find my recipe here. I also show you how to turn it into a delicious B.L.A.T. sandwich!


If you want to keep up with my Book Club, we are currently reading and set to discuss on Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

“The Pisces: A Novel” by Melissa Broder