Mixed Reviews for The Happy Place

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If you have instagram you are probably well aware of all these pop-up museum-like “experiences” that you can visit and blow up your feed with weird cool pictures. I think I am just about officially over them. But I still have a weakness for them. Because I love love love cool weird photos!

You know what I don’t love? Long lines of people watching you take your weird cool photos. I’m so over it! Said the middle-aged woman wearing crop pants that seem to be painfully out of style.

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The Happy Place is not on my list of things to do if you are in LA. In fact, I’ll probably tell you to avoid it UNLESS you are a little bit crazy like me and you have a friend who is trying to land modeling gigs.

I love having a friend who is a model. Yep, Lubna grew up and now she’s going to acting school, getting her headshots done and hitting the pavement to land an agent and hopefully a decent paycheck. She is a really good model but it’s not an easy field. I wish I had my own agency because I love spotting people who I know will take good pictures and I’d love to give her a good paying job.

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We hadn’t hung out together in a while so I bought the tickets and we headed off to LA for a fun day of catching up and taking silly shots. It was the perfect photographer-model date. Especially since I’m liking to take my own picture less and less. (Age, damn you!) I took a lot of photos of my feet.

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There are definitely a lot of cool rooms with lots of great lighting to experiment with. But you have to move from room to room with a mob and there is nothing that makes me more nervous than having a group watch me set up for a shot. Lots of times I just bailed. I’m not waiting to take a turn for a shot and then have everyone else watch me do the same exact thing.

There is this one room where you can jump into an above-ground pool of yellow balls and the Happy Place Logo is placed predominantly behind you. It’s a great set-up BUT you have an audience of like 30-40 people watching you! I was so nervous to jump I actually got sweaty palms. What if I slipped and banged my head on the platform or what if all the balls flew out of the pool because I’m such a whale?!!  I’m not a whale but still, this is where my mind goes. In the name of fun I forced myself to do it but the assistant who was there to take my photo somehow got my camera wrong and missed the shot. She said I could do it again but I was OVER it. Forget that.

Lubna of course nailed it with a flip because she’s amazing and a fitness model but I only got it on video because I also got my camera wrong and missed the shot. Doh!

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I will say that in spite of my eye rolls and complaining, we were inventive. We came up with shots everyone else wasn’t doing because we are experienced badasses at photography. But still, I felt silly. It just kind of ruined the novelty of the event when you see how stupid everyone else looks doing these forced fake happy faces for their snapchat feed or instagram feeds. Do their followers know that two seconds before that shot that looks like they are having so much fun they were actually standing there bored out of their skull, mindlessly scrolling through their own feeds? Fakety fake fake.

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And yet still, I’m not completely cured of wanting to go to these things. I’ve got tickets to The Cado in June because, come on AVOCADOS!!!  But it does make me want to continue to cultivate my own free spirit.

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But the photos are cool right? Loobyloo is so much fun. She’s always up for posing any which way I direct.

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And she’s gorgeous! Even if she did fry her hair to death by attempting to go blonde. The Orange County ideal of beauty is so strong even Lubna fell victim to it but I’m in her ear constantly telling her that her natural beauty far surpasses any fake Barbie look that is so prevalent around here.

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As we left the crowds of The Happy Place and found our way down to my car in the underground parking garage, we spied these funny pipes on a wall with NOBODY WAITING THEIR TURN to take a photo!!!

I think it’s my best shot of all.

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Then we went out for tacos because duh, it was Cinco de Mayo. Not that everyday isn’t a good day for tacos.

Have you been to Guisados? So good! Mole tacos, some fried cheese taco that was out of this world and HORCHATA cold brew that tasted like a churro in a cup!

That’s my review: skip The Happy Place and go to Guisados instead which is conveniently right by The Last Bookstore! Yes, I will be blogging that experience here soon. Stay tuned!

A Girls Trip to Huntington Gardens

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A few weeks ago my girlfriends and I sat through a few hours of traffic to go to the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. You know it has to be something pretty great for us Orange Countians to sit through LA traffic for. We HATE traffic with a passion of a thousand suns, especially LA traffic, though San Diego comes in pretty close. You need a pick up from LAX? You better call an uber.

So I guess you could say I love wandering around pretty gardens and taking photos of flowers and plants with a passion of a thousand suns. I also really like my girlfriends.

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One of the girls, Monica, had been talking about the gardens for months. She used to have a membership and take her kids there when they were little. A membership is very smart because for one, it’s incredibly reasonable and for two, the gardens are so expansive you could explore for months! It would pay for itself in five visits which would be very easy to do IF YOU DIDN’T LIVE AN HOUR AND A HALF AWAY in traffic.

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We didn’t get memberships but we did make a vow to come back again. Maybe in fall because even on a pretty spring day it did get pretty hot wandering around in the sun all day.

As you can see the cacti gardens were a big hit for me. I love them!! There are so many different varieties. Some I’d never even seen before.

It all reminded me that I really need to step up my gardening game at home. I’ve got loads of plants but I would love more and I seriously need to get on my game of fertilizing regularly. A lot of my plants are pale and listing because they are dying for some vitamins

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After we sweltered thought the cacti we took refuge in the shady bamboo forrest. It rivaled Japan. Really. And I’ve been to bamboo gardens in Japan so I can say that.

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So shady and cool with lots of places to peek through and take photos.

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Then we stumbled upon a watercolor class painting koi fish in a pond! How cool would that be? I’ve got to go back and take a class.

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From there we made our way to the tea house for a surprise!

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Over the hills and through the woods… well sorta. It was more through the woods, down several steps, through the rose gardens…

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The ROSES!  They might be enough of a reason to visit when it’s hot. The smell wafting from hundreds of rose bushes on a warm day was like heaven. I could have stood there for days if I wasn’t so sweaty. I have an aversion to sweat. It makes me want to take a shower.

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Thankfully, we had reservations at the Rose Garden Tea Room and it was so nice and cool inside. We immediately felt a thousand times more civilized and proper. I strongly recommend making a reservation if you plan to visit. It’s an experience! Scones, profiteroles, baby quiches, tiny dark chocolate mousse tarts, pineapple cupcakes, chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off…you know, the USUAL English tea party service that is so fun and delicious. It’s really the best way to end a lovely day with your girlfriends.

Which reminds me, I need to take MY best girls there!