happy birthday, Grandma!

During Mothers’ Day weekend we were fortunate enough to take a trip back to the Midwest. Not only were we both able to sneak some time with our moms, but we also got to spend the weekend with another special lady, my Grandma Eileen. We made this visit because it was time to celebrate her ninetieth birthday! I have incredibly fond memories of visiting my Grandma as a little girl. Now that I am older I really cherish the time we get to spend together. It is during visits like this –that seem to go so quickly –that I feel some sadness over the distance between us. I’m thankful we were able to have such a wonderful time together to make new memories.

To celebrate, the family gathered for dinner at an Italian resturant. These are a few snapshots to sum up an evening of delicious food, gifts galore, sweet treats, video games (boys!) and lots of silliness. Happy Birthday, Grandma! (More from the trip to come in a later post.)


weekend adventure : Eaton Canyon

It still amazes us that  we live in a geography where there are mountains. From most anywhere in Pasadena you can see them looming behind buildings. As I bike to work in the morning, I see them in the distance. Sometimes it seems like a backdrop csuch as that  is just a movie set and if I would keep heading towards it I’d actually hit a mural. Never the less, they are very real, quite close and we have come to find there are a variety of hiking trails weaving throughout them to enjoy.

A few weekends ago we took a visit to the mountains nearest to us. We’ve hiked this particular area, called Eaton Canyon, before. On our first trek we ended up taking a trail that ended at a waterfall. The trail was woodsy and wove around a creek that eventually gave way to the waterfall.  It was fall then, so there were beautiful colors and the weather was cooler. It was an overall serene hike. However, on this particular day we decided to see what else the area had to offer. We chose a different route called the Cayote Canyon trail and got a very different experience. That weekend it was erratically warm and probably close to ninety degrees. The trail started out by weaving through the trees and we were thankful for the relief of intermittent patches of shade. Then, suddenly the path steeply inclined and was completely void of shade. It was warm–very, very warm–and although we were a sweaty mess by the time we reached the top, the view was beautiful. The mountain top overlooked Pasadena and out into another wall of distant mountains. We found a little patch of shade and took a lunch break. We were so content beneath the tiny branches, munching on our salads. Rested and energized we set out, back into the sun, and made a successful descent!

visitors in town : Dan & Josh

Spring Break 2012 has finally come to a close. Our last visitors, Dan and Josh passed through a few weeks ago and we had lots of fun adventures! Matt has become quite the professional tour guide after all these long weekends of sight-seeing. It’s been exciting to see so many new places with everyone. I can not believe just how big California is and that there are still so many things on my “to visit” list after all we have seen so far.

We spent the first day on a journey to Stone Brewery. Along the way we stopped in good ‘ol Temecula and pigged out on fancy sodas and BBQ. Once at Stone we met up with our Chicago pal, Lauren and walked around the brewery’s gardens before having dinner and beers. Afterwards Lauren took us to her favorite local spot, Peterson’s to get some yummy donuts and coffee to help keep us awake on our voyage back to Pasadena.

Our second day was spent perusing Silver Lake. We made a little homage to the Elliott Smith mural. Next we drove way up Mulholland drive to get Dan and Josh a view of LA and, of course, the Hollywood sign! We’d never seen it from this particular lookout spot before so it made the experience a little more new. We spent the evening at the LA County Museum of Art browsing the galleries. It was a much bigger campus than we knew, so we didn’t ge to cover much ground. But, that just gives us an excuse to return!

Dan had found a few art shows to check out, so we spent  the morning gallery hopping. This is something Matt and I hadn’t gotten much of a chance to do yet, so we were really excited to see what was going on around the city. Afterwards we headed to see the ocean and roam around Venice. We walked through the canals and ended up at the beach where the boys tried a little slack-lining. Hungry from a day full of adventure, we stopped for some fancy dogs at Wurstküche. (Yum!)

On the final day of our time together we headed off to China Town. (This was something on my “to visit”  list!) It was really colorful and little lanterns were strung between the buildings making it seem completely silly and magical. After wandering in and out of funny little shops packed with knick-knacks we headed to Handsome for a coffee break and to visit one of Matt’s former co-workers. He gave us a little tour of their roasting room and showed us the resident stuffed beaver. We had one final tourist moment and walked through Hollywood to show Dan and Josh the stars and Chineese Theatre … and the handfuls of awful tourist gift shops and hecklings to take bus tours. I have decided that is the my least favorite place to go. If the trashy glasses the boys found aren’t enough proof, Josh’s summation of his experience should be, “I hate it here in Hollywood. I feel like I’m in Disney Land. I’ll never bring my kids places like this. I’ll teach them to despise them.”

visitors in town : the Strodes

Our dear friends the Strodes were our third round of guests this spring. We started the trip off with a drive up the Malibu coast to visit the campus of Pepperdine and take in the views.

Our second day began with a pit stop at In-N-Out  to energize ourselves for a day of walking around Hollywood and Beverly Hills.We had a lot of fun visiting a variety of tourist attractions and posing for some pretty corney pictures.

A road trip to Temecula filled our third day and also fulfilled one of the “to dos” I’d had on my California adventure wish list. We walked around the city’s old fahioned downtown before heading to Callaway vineyard. There we toured the grounds and sampled some wines. The whole area around the vineyards was so beautiful and made a wonderful backdrop for our drive. We made our way back to Pasadena for a happy-hour-sushi-feast. It was quite a delicious day!

The weather had been a little dreary for most of the trip. Luckily the final day was warm and sunny so we decided to make the most of it by spedning time at the beach. We chose to go to Venice  and had the chace to do something new by exploring the original canals the area was built around.

visitors in town : our sister, Molly

Our second visitor this spring was my sister, Molly. We were excited to be tour guides for her first visit to the West Coast. With our father joining us for the first few days of the visit, we started off with sight-seeing in Hollywood. As the day was beginning to turn, we headed up to the Griffith Observatory. Nestled atop the hills, the observatory  has one of the best views of the city and famous Hollywood sign. Catching both during sunset made for a wonderful end to the day.

It has been relatively cool here in LA so we were excited to have a warm day during Molly’s stay to spend ocean side! We spent the day at Venice Beach soaking up the afternoon sun and seeing the sights of the boardwalk. Before heading home for the day we stopped into a market  for some delicious  sandwiches.

On our third day together we spent the afternoon exploring the Silverlake neighborhood. Before long we were feeling pretty hungry and started to search for a lunch destination.  We came upon a little Mexican place and simply couldn’t resist. It was authentic, kitschy and quite delicious. Afterwards we wandered  in and out of the shops lining the street. A plant shop caught my eye and happened to have just the right little succulents for planters that have been hanging empty in our living room for too long. After a day of walking we were tired and hungry again, so we made our way back to Pasadena for some fancy ‘dogs!
Before we knew it, our trip was coming to a close. We took Molly out for one last view of the ocean, this time from Hermosa Beach. We braved a walk down the pier with the freezing wind blowing against us. Once we made it to the end we got a pretty awesome view of the beach, speckled with colorful houses. After making our way back we shared one last meal together over some delicious Umami burgers!

visitors in town : the [future] Barlichs

Whew! It has been quite a while since I’ve posted, here on PleasantInns. Fear not, it has been with good reason–visitors! We have had the pleasure of spending time with a variety of friends and family over the past few months. Not only has it been wonderful to soak up some quality time with farmilliar folks, but it has also given us opportunities to explore new places. Stay tuned as we share photos of these recent adventures in the next few posts.

Our first visit was a very unique one. Our Chicago pals, Laura and Anthony came out west to visit some friends in Hermosa Beach. While they were here, we got to spend a day with them and drive up the Malibu coast to Mattador Beach. There Anthony had special plans in store and Matt captured the evening by playing paparazzi. After taking in the beautiful scenery sunset hit and after finding a romantic spot … Anthony proposed! Laura said “Yes!” and the couple posed for some more pictures to remeber the moment by. We finished up the day with a delicious celebratory feast. It was such an honor to be a part of  this special event and quite the way to kick off a slew of visits!

Congratulations Anthony and Laura!

weekend adventure : venice beach

This weekend adventure post highlights some of our  trips to Venice Beach. Our most recent outting a few weekends ago was special because I got to pick up a belated Christmas gift–a new bike!
Venice has quick become one of our favorite places to go. It has amain drag on a street called Abbot Kinney that is lined with quirky shops and unique resturants. One of the perks is the Intelligentsia where we can’t help but stop for coffee and treats to enjoy during our little adventures.

In addition to the fun on land, the Venicw Beach is within walking distance. Here there is a board walk featuring the strangest mix of people and activities that it makes for some entertaining people watching. The beach is also home to a pretty amazing skate park where we’ve spent a lot of time watching the action. It’s always interesting to see who turns up! My favorite image below is of a small boy, probably about eight years old, who skated nearly as well as some guys there three times his age. It was incredible!
Tah-Dah! We stopped by the Linus shop to pick up my new ride, a beautiful Dutch three-speed. I had been riding a lovely vintage Schwinn Suburban for the past four years that was much too small for me. It is nice to finally ride something my size. And, although I was really resistant to a new bike, it is amazing how smooth and painless my daily rides have become. Aaaah, modern technology.