Another Trip to LA: Minefaire and Chinatown

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It seems like ages ago we went to LA for Minefaire. It was snoresville but we did have a great time in Los Angeles afterwards. I always love a day in LA for adventure. Traffic not so much but adventure, yes. Everything there is charmingly different from Orange County and it always feels like an infusion of much needed variety.

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We don’t have graffiti where we live. If so much as the tiniest tag goes up on a wall or a fence it is gone the next day, no questions asked. I guess that is a good thing but I do love street art, especially really good street art. Sometimes I just want to paint my house purple in rebellion but I’m all hot air.

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Minefair and Minecon are not the same thing at all. Payam bought these tickets for the girls a long time ago before we even knew there was a difference. I’m sure to die-hard gamers it was pretty cool but to me it was just a giant conference room  filled with computers where kids were zoning out. We can do that at home. The store was pretty cool I guess. If you need another stuffed creeper, which we don’t. I did find a reason to have a pumpkin headed snowman of course. Gotta throw that in for seasonal decorations.

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The funny part was that we went to Minefair ON Payam’s birthday. Driving to LA in horrible traffic and then hanging out with gamers is not exactly his favorite thing to do but I guess he loves his girls. I add myself into that group because of how much I love adventure in LA, even if it does include a lame convention for a game that I’m not that into.

Bug is into Minecraft and she’s really good at creating these really cool houses and buildings. She’s thinking she might want to be an architect when she grows up and I am heartily encouraging that. I wanted to be an architect too way back in the day but I got discouraged by all the math.

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The best part of Minefair was going outside and eating street food. I love fresh tacos made on an industrial-sized cookie sheet over a propane tank. I am ever amazed at how ingenious street vendors are. And to think I wouldn’t rent an apartment because it had a hot plate and not a real stove! I should have taken some lessons from these guys.

I especially love the fresh fruit in cups. Coconut, mangos, cantaloupe, cucumbers…a squeeze of lime and some chili powder–yum! I always worry about getting food poisoning because surely things can’t be that clean but we never do. Street germs are good I guess.

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After our lunch in the street we decided we weren’t ready to go home yet so we took a quick trip to Chinatown. We love ducking into the little shops and discovering new things.

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I feel privileged that I get to follow Bug and Joon around and take pictures. They are getting prettier and prettier every day. I feel like I have my own models constantly walking around with me just asking me to take their picture. I need to take my real camera out more often. Whenever I do I always have such a good time with it.

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After Chinatown we rushed home to go to a violin concert that Bug’s new violin teacher was starring in. Her teacher is really really good. Like ripping up the violin in a floor-length red velvet dress good. The girls sat there mesmerized, not even bored at all.  Sadly I have no photos of that. I wish I could have but I was shy to take my camera into the theatre.

I didn’t even tell you that we hired a private tutor for violin lessons for Bug. She’s getting serious about violin and unfortunately her class at school is kinda stuck and not progressing so she’s forging on ahead with private lessons. I’m really proud of her. Of course getting her to practice regularly is a challenge but that’s really what this whole thing is about anyway. I’m really happy that she is not giving up on something that she is good at.

After the concert the girls and I stopped by a grocery store and bought Payam a cake. He didn’t go to the concert so it was our little surprise.

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Which he wholeheartedly deserved.

Descanso Gardens Again!

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Remember last year when Payam and I went to Descanso Gardens Enchanted Forest of Light? We went again this year and took the girls! I loved it so much last year I couldn’t wait to take them but it only lasts until the first week of January so I had to wait another year for it to come around again.

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They loved it! Of course. How could they not?!

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Of course it helped that both girls got phones this year for Christmas (big year!!) and documenting the forest of light was an explosion of wonderments to share on social media with their friends.

I know. I know. We all have mixed feelings about kids using phones but I am the queen of guiltiness when it comes to sharing on instagram so I was happy to have two new co-conspirators as Payam stands by, rolling his eyes and asking if we are “having a moment.”  (Watch the link. It’s hilarious. We are not that bad—yet.)

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It was so fun! You like Joon’s new sweatshirt? Yeah. Black is a thing when you are almost eleven apparently.

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Anyway, we had a blast tromping through the forest from exhibit to exhibit. It really is done so magically. I have day dreams of owning land someday and making my own enchanted forest in my backyard. Probably won’t happen but it’s fun to dream.

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These spinning crocheted lights captivated me. I immediately took a mental note that I have to recreate this someday for an alphamom craft. The shadows spinning on the ground were dizzyingly fun. I did find a couple small metal lanterns in the gift shop that are similar but nothing of this scale.

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Of course the misty lake is always magical. They have joysticks on the side of the lake mounted on little stumps that you can interact with and make the lights shine this way and that. Then of course everything shifts in color to moody music and you feel like you’ve landed in Neverland.

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The drinks though? Absolute crap. Last time we made that mistake too. Payam and I got mixed adult beverages and promptly threw them away because they tasted more like water with a splash of alcohol and maybe some lemon and lime thrown in for looks. This year we got the girls hot chocolate and it was the same mess. Hot water with a splash of something powdery which may have been chocolate. Poor Bug carried her’s around for ten minutes because she didn’t want to waste Payam’s money but when I tasted it I completely agreed. Good thing the lights are so amazing because nobody’s going to go there for the drinks!

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Look at those colors? This is just me shooting my camera on sport mode with no flash. I’m sure a real photographer could get a tri-pod and some less wiggly models and really go crazy shooting here. I wonder if they’ve ever done any fashion shoots here.

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We tried. But it was a little too dark.

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Not too dark for fun though. These meandering paths that light up when you step on them felt like a life size game of Shoots and Ladders. I wish there had been some slides, that would have clinched it. Can you imagine?!!

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The girls loved it. We could have stayed all night and thrown a party here.

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I’m sure if you follow them on Instagram you saw more than you even wanted to of this adventure. I think they live-storied the entire trip. Just kidding. I didn’t let them do that.

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Then we ended our adventure with the tea garden and a quick trip through the gift shop, like I mentioned earlier. They said we could go back through again with some funky light-reflecting glasses but we were pretty hungry by then so we opted to go get dinner instead. Next year we’ll try the funky glasses.

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Pretty much this my new favorite winter tradition.

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