{appropriately named} paradise cove in malibu

I don't even know where to start. Our family day at Paradise Cove in Malibu was seriously perfect (I'm still pinching myself). It was the eve of the Fourth of July so the place was packed when we got there, completely buzzing with good humor and fun in the sun. Heck, even Lindsay Lohan was enjoying the afternoon until the paparazzi came and forced her to bail!

We grubbed on crazy amounts of fried goodness and fresh seafood tacos, introduced my nieces Juliana and Isabella to the sensation of sand between their toes, and I ran after Juliana while she chased her new friends, the seagulls. It didn't take long after my sister and brother-in-law dipped the girls' toes into the ocean water for them to feel at home...they loved it albeit it being freezing.

I can't believe that I'd never been to this stretch of So Cal sand before. I'd driven past the entrance dozens of times but never did I imagine that such a little oasis existed. The cafe and restaurant are two great dining options, public lounge chairs and day beds make the visit comfortable, and the quiet waters are perfect for relaxing. Because it is a private beach, you can drink alcohol by BYOB or ordering bottles from the cafe! It's no wonder that the atmosphere there is so great - people are much happier and nicer when they've got booze in their hands!

Even though Paradise Cove has been around for a long time, I felt like we were lucky to have "discovered" it that day. If you ever find yourself driving through Malibu on PCH, make it a point to stop at the Cove. It's too special to miss.

madrid de noche

I loved the evenings in Madrid. Temperatures dropped just enough to feel refreshing while staying warm for an active night out. We spent most of our time in the La Latina neighborhood where the bars and restaurants are plenty and the streets are ripe with old and charming beauty.

I particularly loved being taken to the Fiesta de San Juan by La Latina's unofficial mayor, Juanma, a close friend of our friend Ivan. The night was all about getting rid of old and evil spirits by burning them to ashes and apparently, jumping over their flames. Hundreds of people gathered to drink, play music, and watch those brave (or crazy) enough tackle the evil spirits as they went up in smoke.

We kept our feet on the ground but enjoyed walking amongst the crowds just soaking in the unexpected celebration. The night was a bit magical but really, they all were. I really loved Madrid at night.

More photos here.

madrid de dia

shopping el rastro a peak through the palacio

Phew! After traveling all day I've finally made it to LA where it's been non-stop play with my one-and-half year old niece, Juliana. She's totally worn me out! It's okay though, that's the reason I came after all...I missed my girls.

I didn't have wi-fi access while traveling but I did get a chance to select a few of my favorite daytime shots from Madrid. A little bit from El Rastro market, Plaza Mayor, the Corpus Christi procession, and some street scenes. De noche pics are next!

{about town} tate modern + st. paul's

It's 6:30am and I'm off to Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park. I was exhausted last night so Joe offered to take a stab at writing today's post about our day at the Tate and St. Paul's. I love the way he writes but I'm also sharing it at the risk of making my style (and possibly grammar) look really bad!

I can't wait to share my Sunbury finds with you!

This weekend we stayed local, but it was certainly no stay-cation.  London, like Los Angeles, has so much to do that you can't possibly cover it all in a weekend, or week, or year, but at least here there is public transport which makes hitting a few city destinations in a day or two fairly easy.  But still, be ready to be overwhelmed...

First, the Tate Modern.  Housed in a massive former power plant that must have once juiced the entire electrified planet, the Tate Modern is no less than a full-body experience.  It swallowed us in, chewed us up, and spit us out after the half-tour.  We were beat.  After a few hours appreciating the masterworks here, just looking at Miro's "Ladder" paintings made us cringe and think 'ugh..ladder..climbing..let's get out of here'.

We tumbled out of the Tate to the River Thames, Millennium Bridge, and the looming landmark St. Paul's Cathedral, all three massive, imposing, and no less impressive than the museum.  Ironic though...the river has been here for millennia, and the footbridge for just a few years.  The Cathedral has dominated the City of London skyline for a few hundred years, but will soon be eclipsed by the nearby modern glass pyramid to be called "The Shard", an architect's homage to broken glass, erected of mostly glass.  Get it?  It'll be the tallest building in Europe, so you'll see it in the next Bond film or in a renegade base-jumping stunt soon.

The Sunday bells at the cathedral were in full-swing, and afternoon service was about to begin, so no photos inside were allowed.  Look it up.

After a stroll around the hallowed ground, we crossed the street to One New Change, another modern development in the City of London.  A multi-purpose commercial property, One New Change is a beautiful blend of indoor and outdoor space, glossy glass and CorTen patina.  Look for the nail; this new landmark piece of public art is a massive steel spike in the shape of a framing nail which seems driven into the concrete pavement between One New Change and the Cathedral.  There's probably not a real nail in service in either the steel-and-glass modern galleria and the giant stone church, yet this sculpture seems to fit the neighborhood.  It's driven deep, and not going anywhere soon.

All this within sight of the St. Paul's tube station on the Central Line.  Wear yourself out, and let TFL drive you home.

in the name of love

Hello! Sorry for the late post - I got carried away running errands and drooling over pieces like this at The Old Cinema London antiques shop on Chiswick High Street. A girl can dream right?

As promised here are photos from Friday's royal wedding screening at Hyde Park. We were there with an estimated 100,000 other viewers and got into the spirit of celebrating the big day ourselves (well, at least I did!).  However, I became fully aware that I didn't care so much about the royal-ness of it all because really, they're just a living tourist attraction. Rather, I saw it as getting to attend a beautiful wedding for two people in love. I enjoy reading wedding blogs, I think wedding dresses are beautiful, and I understand the joy in celebrating love. So, why not take part in Will and Kate's union if they're opening the door?

As I looked at people waving their Union Jacks, wearing tiaras, and toasting the newly married couple, I realized that others felt the same way. I may not understand the British "Royalist" who still see the Windsor family as a mighty institution but I could see how everyone was simply happy to be a part of a joyous and romantic event. Love is love and always worth celebrating.

the sun does shine here

It's a bit gloomy and cold out today so I'm bringing the sunshine back with photos from our day at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.

If you've ever been to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA just multiply that space by 100 and you might get close to Kew Gardens. It is massive and filled with trees and plants from all over the world (Joe's new favorite tree comes from Chile). Garden and sun worshippers were out in full force since the day proved to be a gorgeous one. But despite the crowds we managed to take photos that look like we were the only ones there.  Just us hanging out in our private garden, you know, the usual. Click here for more photos!

weekend in the city

Hello everyone! I hope you had a fantastic Easter weekend. We're still on holiday here so I thought I'd share some Instagram shots from the past few days. We visited Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, shopped for antiques at the Camden Markets, attended Easter Mass at a beautiful Neo-Gothic church in Marylebone, and strolled the major shopping streets: Bond, Regent, and Oxford.

With a great run and hearty breakfast this morning we're ready for another day out!

By the way, does anyone have any Peeps they'd like to ship over? I missed those this year :)

paris at night

Hi everyone. I missed yesterday's post due to a lack of internet access but I'm happy to say that we now have a beautiful new iPhone! I spent most of the day at Westfield London with my new Apple store friends Nick and Nic. It feels so good to have instant access to the world once again. Google Maps, how we've missed you!

Anyhoo, I want to share some photos from our night out in Paris...the city is even more stunning after dark. Joe had heard a lot about the Latin Quarter so we ventured out there for dinner and drinks. It was vibrant, charming, and packed with locals. Definitely the place to be.

After a second round of drinks (and an amazing slice of upside down apple pie) we decided to walk along the river, La Seine, to soak in the night instead of taking the metro straight home. I'm so glad that we did because we stumbled across the Louvre. I'm telling you, we had no idea. We just saw an impressive looking entrance to something and when we got in further and looked to our right, there it was in all its glory, lit up and with hardly anyone else in sight.

After taking in the grandness of the Louvre's exterior we continued walking along the water towards the Eiffel Tower. It was striking enough while aglow but then something magical happened: the lights turned white and they started twinkling in the most celebratory way. The light show went on for five or ten minutes before the entire tower went dark at 1am...what a grand finale! The night seemed filled with surprises like that. I guess that's Paris, the one and only.

More photos and descriptions are on the flickr page!

je t'aime paris

Bonjour! We are back from Paris and everything I'd ever heard about it is true: it's beautiful, inspiring and if you like pastries, it's delicious. We did a week's worth of walking in two and a half days and saw everything from the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame to the charming cobblestone streets of Le Marais. It was mind boggling to be around buildings that were so rich in history and character.

More details and photos to come this week!

a proper breakfast

Since we have yet to get a reliable broadband connection at home, we've been squatting at local cafés that offer free wi-fi. Our favorite has become Roma's Café just off the Maida Vale Tube stop. The ambiance is cozy and comfortable and they serve restaurant quality food. When we went for breakfast I plunged right into the traditional "full English breakfast" to see what all of the fuss (both for and against it) was about. It was goooood. Everything except the limp toast was very flavorful and to my surprise I took quite a liking to the sweet beans. Now I've got to find good spots for other traditional British eats like Shepherd's Pie, Toad-in-the-hole, and Cawl. If you have any suggestions, please share!

thames tears (of happiness)

Along the Thames we strolled, taking in the gorgeous sun that gave way to picturesque views. After the first sight of Big Ben and Parliament I slowly took in the fact that we were really there. I stopped in my tracks and had a moment. Translation: I totally teared-up and here's why:

When I was 19 I signed up for a Europe "fashion trip" with my college fashion department. I was crazy excited because I'd never been to Europe and in addition to visiting designer houses we were going to have plenty of time to sightsee. When I arrived at the airport to meet the group and check my bags I was faced with the disappointment of not having the necessary visas to travel, hence I could not go forward with the trip. I was devastated and learned two valuable lessons 1) don't travel on a Colombian passport and 2) do due diligence when it comes to travel documents.

I cried and cried but my parents reassured me that there would be another and even better time for me to see Europe. I put it in my mind that I would go soon enough and that it would be with my special someone. I didn't know who that person would be but I was confident that it was in the cards for the future. Fast forward seven years and there I was, standing along the Thames River with Joe. It was surreal and I completely lost it. Not only are we here but we are now calling London, England...Europe, our home.

Joe held me tight and I pinched myself in disbelief that we were in this new magical place together. I was never meant to see Europe with a group of strangers nor visit before I was old enough to fully appreciate it. The time is right now.

Life is funny and marvelous but before this post gets any more philosophical click here for more photos of the day ;). Xoxo.

when greene & greene ruled

This Sunday I had the sudden urge to get out of the house...just me and my camera. I found myself at The Gamble House that's fortunately just a few minutes up the road. This place is incredible and the most perfect example of the American Craftsman movement in architecture. Joe and I took a tour of it a few years ago and the detail inside is even more outstanding than its exterior. Built of solid wood and Tiffany Glass accents, this is one of the most well known structures created by the Greene brothers.

If you look through more photos on my flickr page you may recognize the garage (now the operating foundation's bookstore)...it was Doc's home in Back to The Future! Always thought that was pretty neat.

There are so many architectural treasures like this in Pasadena and only in my adult years have I come to recognize and appreciate them. If you have yet to visit and explore Pasadena, it's definitely worth a day trip!

a san francisco treat

Happy Tuesday. To share bits from my weekend in SF I considered playing with these shots on photoshop but 1)  I've gotta head out to work  and 2) I like them as they are, with gloom and all.

We were all about town but ultimately spent most of our time in The Mission district. I'd really love to explore that neighborhood more. For some reason it felt the most like home in a Downtown LA meets Echo Park kind of way.

Here are our dining picks from the weekend and perhaps yours too if you find yourself in this gorgeous city!

Pork Store Cafe, Haight - amazing avocado blt and french fries that were like in-n-out's but thicker. Breakfast is what they're most known for so I'm already looking forward to another visit.

Mr. Pollo, The Mission - a "must go to" ever since I saw it featured on the Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate: best bang for your buck" episode. They weren't kidding... the $15 chef's tasting menu was perfection. And, it turned out to be a take on Colombian food so it was even better (link to pics at end of the post).

Humphry Slocombe, The Mission - all natural ice cream? I'm there. Everyone was there actually. This tiny place seems to serve 10 people a minute and once you taste one of their home-made scoops you'll understand why. I never knew that bourbon and cornflakes would go so well together! I could eat that for breakfast everyday.

Heart, The Mission - the most perfect wine bar and small plates restaurant. We devoured a mortadella and blue cheese with cardamom honey plate. Wine by the glass was well priced and the ambiance was exactly what we were going for. Casual communal tables juxtaposed with local fine art lining the walls made this spot more than just a bar. It had, well, heart.

Nordstrom Cafe Bistro, Union Square-ish - as a former Nordies girl I have a sweet spot for shopping and dining there. With the weather being what it was, the top floor restaurant was perfect for a long and relaxing lunch. The crab bisque soup hit the spot but as a butter lover, I was more obsessed with the parmesan and butter-soaked crostini it was paired with.

We did manage to do other things besides eat...see more photos here!