Ojai Valley Lavender Festival: Relaxing, Family Friendly Day Trip from L.A.

Sweet. Spicy. Effervescently purple.

Yes, I am describing lavender, and yes, you can find lots of the native Californian plant in the Ojai Valley. This past weekend was the 2014 Ojai Valley Lavender Festival.

Ojai Valley Lavender Festival Sign


Ojai is the kind of place where the parking is easy. On Saturday, June 28th, over one hundred vendors offered both lavender and non-lavender goods in Ojai’s Libbey Park this year offering seeable, edible, and smell-able treats such as lavender sugar scrubs, lavender lemonade fudge, and lavender macaroons.

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The Lavender Craft Garden was my favorite activity. Smack dab in the center of the festival were a couple of oriental rugs and blankets under a bundle of shady trees. Bordering the blankets were tables with baskets, vintage lace, paper doilies, roses, geranium leaves, rosemary, and—of course—fresh lavender. Women from the organic I Love Lavender Farm (of Ojai, naturally) helped participants make lavender wands, lavender sachets, and (not really very) technical “tussy-mussies” out of said materials for $5-15. I was one hundred percent in love with my gorgeous tussy-mussie basket! It still smells heavenly.

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As Libbey Park is conveniently situated in the center of Ojai, surrounding businesses on Ojai Avenue sold Lavender treats throughout the festival, too. lavender margaritas, lavender martinis, lavender panna cotta, lavender honey cocktails, and lavender lemon bars—do those sound delicious or what? The only problem was that most business in Ojai close at around three for lunch and re-open around five or six for dinner, meaning that while I was walking around, a bunch of these shops were closed. I was luckily able to taste a lavender lemon martini at Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta. It was the perfect balance of boozy and sweet.

While the Lavender Festival is finished for 2014, if you would like to make an easy day-trip to Ojai from L.A. proper for the festival next year, I’d highly recommend the trip if you’re looking for an easy-going, scenic, and family-friendly day.


~Photos and Text by Sarah


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The Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms: Amazing Ensemble Theatre by ARTEL at Schkapf for Hollywood Fringe Festival

“I am interested only in “nonsense”; only in that which makes no practical sense. I am interested in life only in its absurd manifestations.” 

          ~~A quote from Daniil Kharms that may or may not have been in The Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms; I can’t remember.

* * *

When I was drawn to what I was seeing in The Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms by ARTEL, I was disturbed but then later delighted with myself. The show, directed by Olya Petrakova, runs at Schkapf* as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year.

Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms by ARTEL at Hollywood Fringe poster

The lavishing man with the lady on his forehead is Daniil Kharms himself. Photo from http://www.hollywoodfringe.org.

Violence, gore, fear, terror—all of these were present in heaps. But oh, the whimsy, the color, the style with which they were illustrated…it was like watching the doom of humankind painted before your eyes in lavish textures and whimsical cartoon.

It is at this point in a performance review that you will usually find some kind of plot summary, but alas (or perhaps hallelujah), Kharmful Charms outlays no such easily extractable storyline. The show is a collection of vignettes derived from Soviet-era Russian writer Daniil Kharms’ poetry. However, the abridged festival production is far from meandering. The tightness of the ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory) ensemble’s work and the performers’ high energy in each vignette emanates contagious joy. Just try to look away while watching the show.

Fishing Scene from Kharmful Charms of Daniil Kharms by ARTEL; great theatre costuming

The full set is not a part of the Hollywood Fringe show, but the Fringe version has glorious costumes including these glorious fish heads. Photo from http://www.hollywoodfringe.org.

Kharmful Charms is a much-needed European voice on the American and Los Angeles stage. ARTEL’s ensemble work was ripe with the emotional rawness attributed to Polish theatrician Jerzy Grotowski’s work, i.e. “poor theatre”. How refreshing—something that is not commercial and not aiming for a big Hollywood break but is about artistic style, the communal experience of theatre-going, and the rawness of making-do in life.

I look forward to seeing more work from the promising ensemble at ARTEL. I also encourage folks to take a class at Schkapf, Kharmful Charms’ Fringe venue. Schkapf holds regular, unique theatre classes for people of all skill levels regularly. For the month of June, all classes are only $5! I just took a Traveling Stories class with Sandy Simona, which was about creating one’s own solo storytelling material. Just like in Kharmful Charms, I had an amazing time.

*If you go to Schkapf, be sure you try the White Tea Lavender Sorbet from their front-of-house cafe! It’s heavenly 🙂 .

~~Text by Sarah




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Hayden Tract: a Free, Fun, and Fascinating Architectural Walk in Culver City, Los Angeles

After a hiatus that was far too long, fear not—The Local Looking Glass is back.

And what better way to blast back into action than with a destination that is free, fun, fascinating, and recommended by one of my favorite publications, LA Mag?

Here’s the lowdown: yes, it is true that Los Angeles is a city in which cars clog every artery of our landscape, but did you know that Los Angeles is also a city fertile with culturally rich walks for the yeoman pedestrian?

I found myself to be one such yeoman a few days ago during a trip to Culver City. LA Mag clued me into Culver City’s Architecture Walk, and so I decided to give it a shot. Just as LA Mag suggests, head to National and Hayden, and boom.

There it is, The Gateway Art Tower. As you continue down Hayden and walk around the block, you will see even more fascinating buildings. Note: the walk will take you about one hour, and it is about one mile long.

Hayden Tract Gateway Art Tower in Culver City, Los Angeles, California

The Gateway Art Tower. For some reason, it was closed when I visited. Beauty, eh?

The What Wall at Hayden Tract

This is The What Wall, to which I say, “What? Why?”

Floating Cactus Garden at Hayden Tract in Culver City LA California

Cactus Tower. This was my favorite piece, although questions might be raised regarding its functionality. To which I say, “Who cares? This seems like a great jumping off point for ways cities can integrate green spaces.”

Hayden Tract Love Wall in Culver City, Los Angeles

The Love Wall.

The Beehive at Hayden Tract in Los Angeles Culver City

The Beehive.

Cool Door at Hayden Tract

A great door.

Grass Stairs at Hayden Tract in Culver City

Grass stairs to nowhere. Mind blown.

Hayden Tract Umbrella Building in Culver City, Los Angeles, CA

A cool detail on The Umbrella Building.

By now, I think we agree that there are few other places in LA with such fascinating architecture within a two-block radius. (Am I wrong? Let me know in the Comments Section below!) We are also probably mutually wondering why in the world this fascinating architecture is on Hayden and National of all places. What are in these buildings? Who made them?

Turns out that this special walk-able two-block radius has a name: Hayden Tract.

It used to be an area infamous for decaying buildings and crime. Come the 1980s, the Culver City Redevelopment Agency committed to revitalizing Hayden Tract as an architectural and real estate experiment called Conjunctive Points.

Eric Owen Moss, renowned architect and director of Southern California Institute of Architecture, and developers Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith worked to create the incredible works-of-art buildings that sit in Hayden Tract today.

While these architectural gems are being used today primarily as office space for private companies, here is some food for thought from Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne: Hayden Tract “promises to set the stage for a fascinating clash of philosophies: the private, market-driven approach…coming face-to-face with L.A.’s newly expanding public realm.” A public realm is an area in which the general public can socialize, experience, learn, commute—essentially live. Click here to see a wonderful look group from the Runyon Group picturing The Platform Project, Hayden Tract’s future public space.

For all the Angelinos reading, what have you personally experienced that is part of LA’s expanding “public realm”? One great example that I can think of is Grand Park in Downtown; this past New Year’s, the city sponsored a great free event accessible to all, and there’s a July 4th block party bash scheduled for the area next month. Share your experiences in the comments below!

~ Text and Photos by Sarah


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Stained Glass Reflection in Outremont, Quebec

Stained Glass Window Reflection in Outremont, Montreal, Quebec

You never know when a photo of a nice window turns into a beautiful revelation of a mirage-like reflection.

~~Text and Photo by Sarah

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Winter in California: Newport Beach

Winter in California Newport Beach Sunset

Newport Beach at sunset.

~~Photo and Text by Sarah

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Montreal Poutine Week: Burger Bar

There must be a scientific connection between the lightness of local food and temperature of the environment. Unlike in sunny Los Angeles where sprightly salads are the dishes of the day, heavy, goop-y, hangover-curing poutines are the hallmark dishes of freezing Montreal, Quebec.

Think french fries. Think gravy. Think…cheese curds.

Classic Poutine Burger Bar Montreal Quebec Canada

Classic poutine. “Cheese curds” are just an unfriendly way of saying “cheese crumbles”.

Montreal’s annual Poutine Week is taking place this year from February 1st-February 9th. Participating restaurants in the city-wide culinary festival create gourmet poutines for the week–these are not your typical Frite Alore sundries, people! Many of these restaurants are offering discounts on their pre-existing poutines this week, too. Montrealers eat the special poutines and vote for their favorites online.

Montreal Poutine Week

Montreal Poutine Week + experimental photo angle. What do you think? Am I an artiste yet?

My friends and I caught the foodie affair right in the thicket of it all. We sampled Burger Bar‘s special poutines.

Burger Bar Montreal Crescent

Burger Bar is on Rue Crescent, one of Montreal’s main nightlife arteries.

The Hangover Poutine Montreal Poutine Week Burger Bar

“The Hangover Poutine” features British Columbia mushrooms, truffle oil, and a fried egg. Notice my coconut mojito.

Le Nordique Poutine Burger Bar Montreal Poutine Week

“Le Nordique”: arugula, duck confit, caramelized onions, blue cheese, and more.

Drunk Poutine Montreal

I will not give the title of this poutine because this photo does not do it justice. But this is what poutine usually looks like after a night on the town.

I’d bank on Le Nordique being most likely to place in the city-wide poutine competition. It was smokey sweet, and the arugula gave me (false) hope for my cholesterol levels. All the poutines we had hit the spot, though.

Stay tuned for more Poutine Week adventures as the event continues! If you’re in the Montreal area, find the closest participating restaurant near you here 

P.S.: Los Angeles readers, if you’d like to try Quebec’s hallmark dish outside of La Belle Province, you can find yummy poutines at the following L.A. restaurants:

  • Soleil. This Westwood bistro has an entire menu dedicated to poutines!
  • Seoul Sausage. You can find a one-of-a-kind poutine with pickled kimchi onions at this joint.
  • Gravy Train Poutinerie. I love this food truck’s poutine menu, which includes specials like “The Philly” and “The Veggie”.
Hallelujiah Poutine Local Looking Glass Montreal Poutine Week

Hallelujah Poutine.

~~Text and Photos by Sarah

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Imaginese Arts Festival Begins This Weekend in Los Angeles

Do you have any weekend plans yet?

An exciting festival that beings Saturday, December 7th is gracing the L.A. theatre scene: clown work, indie film premiers, original plays, photography exhibitions, dance, poetry, and animation will feature at the upcoming Imaginese Arts Festival. A portion of all Festival proceeds will go to the Young Storyteller’s Foundation, which develops literacy through the art of storytelling. This is a family-friendly event.

Imaginese Arts Festival Los Angeles Theatre

The Imaginese Arts Festival runs from December 7th to December 21st, 2013. What a shnazy poster!

Imaginese is a cooperative that, via its ongoing workshops, offers a space for artists to bring untold stories to life. The Imaginese Arts Festival brings the cooperative’s voices to the public eye.

At the Imaginese Arts Festival, Four Clowns Jr., a clowning powerhouse acclaimed by the Los Angeles Stage Alliance and others, will be presenting Somewhere Like Earth, which will inspire kids to care for the environment while also making them laugh.

Somewhere Like Earth by Four Clowns Junior Imaginese Arts Festival Los Angeles

Perhaps this clown is affiliated with Air.

Somewhere Like Earth Imaginese Arts Festival Los Angeles

Perhaps this clown is affiliated with Water.

Four Clowns Jr Imaginese Arts Festival Somewhere Like Earth Los Angeles

Perhaps this clown is affiliated with Earth.

Somewhere Like Earth Imaginese Arts Festival Los Angeles

Perhaps this clown is affiliated with Fire.

Cracking Zeus, written and directed by Christopher Hampton, will be a “mindbender of a play” featuring some of Los Angeles’s most up and coming actors. To help the artists collaborating in this show get a paycheck at the end of this experience, please donate to Cracking Zeus‘s Indiegogo. We all know that artists are underpaid and deserve more!

Cracking Zeus Imaginese Arts Festival

The cast of Cracking Zeus. From L-R: Sola Bamis, Amari Cheatom, and Derrek Jennings.

The festival’s film night will feature shorts Belief and Lowlands. Lowlands leads audience-members through an unplanned and unexplained exploration of Los Angeles with character as guide. Mae Koo’s Photography Exhibit is harkened to utilize a style that evokes Leonardo Da Vinci’s work.

You can catch the Imaginese Arts Festival at the Attic Theatre at 5420 W. Washington Boulevard in L.A. For the Festival’s schedule, performance descriptions, and online ticketing site, click here. The festival starts just this Saturday on December 7th and runs until December 21st. The average cost of attending an event in the Festival is $10, but an all-festival pass is available for only $42. Sounds like a deal to me!

Imaginese Scene and Film Nights

Imaginese Scene and Film Nights.

~~Text by Sarah

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