Candytopia and the Great Instagrammable Adventure


I wrote this whole post about my conflicted reasoning for letting my kids use instagram before they are thirteen and it was pathetic. It was definitely a trying-too-hard-to-justify-my actions sort of post. So I’m deleting it and I’m just going to talk about the fun of hanging out with your kids in this crazy whacky place called Candytopia. Thankfully this blog is not really on anybody’s radar anymore so I’ll probably squeak by without anyone noticing! Phew!SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-2

Candytopia is a fun little pop-up museum dedicated to all things candy. They had some trouble getting it off the ground in the beginning. Some compliance issues with the city etc.. so they moved locations and things are a little worn around the edges because of that but it’s still well worth a trip if you are in the neighborhood.  It’s located in the Santa Monica mall, sort of like one of those seasonal Halloween costume shops but a whole lot more interesting and pretty big. I’d say there are just enough rooms and things to look at to justify the twenty-six dollar ticket price. Just barely.SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-3

We mugged and we posed. We acted like instagram fools. Payam rolled his eyes and held our stuff so we could “have a moment” and then another moment and then fifty more moments just like that one to make sure we smiled just right.


I’m probably the first one to roll my eyes when I see another picture of someone rolling around in a pool full of sprinkles on Instagram but you know what? It IS fun! You should go and you will have fun too! Candytopia is a blast. It’s a super fun museum of rooms to take whacky pictures in. Nobody shames you because the rooms were built for that sole purpose. The staff even encourages you to take photos and will even help you get a better shot.

Photography is such a wonderful medium to express yourself. Like any medium, it will be different from person to person. You can all take pictures in the same exact rooms of the same exact weird candy sculpture but nobody’s picture will be exactly the same.


I say embrace it. Stop worrying about being a lemming. Sometimes things become weirdly popular because they really are fun.SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-6

If your kids are into it, then maybe this is something you can do together. You could hike to Zion and stand in line to see the Narrows behind three troops of boy scouts. That’s the sad thing about social media these days, you find something cool, you share it and then everyone mobs it until it’s not fun anymore.SAJ-and-kids-go-to-Candytopia-7

The nice thing about Candytopia is that it wasn’t too mobbed. I think the millennials have already been there, done that and discarded it. Which makes it perfect for me. Still cool. Still super fun and hey, something fun to do with your kids.


Don’t we all need new interesting avatar shots? Yes, yes we do.


We had a blast.  I just spent several hours with my kids laughing and nobody was whining or complaining or checking out. They were very much checked in. We all were! I mean, Free candy! Whacky things to walk around and interact with! What’s not to love?


We grabbed the ribbon wands and stood in front of the wind machine like real models surfing on rainbow covered surfboards. It was all those photo shoots I’ve wondered about within easy access.SAJ-goes-to-Candytopia-11

The piece de resistance was the marshmallow pit!!! I would pay thirty bucks just to do that again easily. It was hilarious!! I don’t think I remember the last time I fell into a ball pit and worked my core muscles so much. It was so hard! Then add not wanting to lose your phone or jewelry to the bottom of the pit and that made it even more challenging. We laughed, we jumped, we swam, we filmed instagram stories…. It was amazing.


You might be wondering if they are real marshmallows. They are not. Thankfully, because that would be a bit of a sticky situation. The marshmallows were actually a stiff but squishy foam and I totally wanted to steal some. I didn’t. But I have been thinking on it and wondering if I could come up with some kind of similar material because how fun would that be for a craft? I’ll be perking on that idea for a while.


After Candytopia we hit Third Street Promenade. We had lunch at the best taco place ever (BP Tacos which totally stands for Brenda Ponnay, wink wink) and then walked down the pier.


It was a cold, windy day but still beautiful. The skies were so blue. I’ve been to Santa Monica many times but never taken my kids there. We didn’t ride any rides but we walked and walked and thoroughly enjoyed our day out. It definitely made the hour-and-a-half drive more worth it.


What else can I say? I’ll leave the kids and instagram debate for another time. I think we had a great time and that’s enough reason to post these pictures.


Fun activities together are never a bad idea. Fun activities with phones…I’ll just plead guilty.

I did it!


I’m 45 years old and I finally got that tattoo I’ve always wanted. Actually, I don’t turn 45 until July 6th but we have kids that week. I couldn’t really take them with me and it’s not like I’m going to wait until the week after so I got my birthday present early.

I was so amped about this appointment. I still am actually. I’m waiting for the high to finally crash because this was an adrenaline rush and a half.


I was worried about the pain. My only pain references are child-birth (which I had an epidural during so I always feel like I cheated), tooth extraction (EIGHT teeth!!! when I had braces) and that time I sliced my finger open because I was drinking (like an idiot) and cutting a lime with a dull knife for my margarita. So I was a little worried. Everyone said it would be bad but then I’d go numb and it would be fine.

Well guess what? I HAD NO PAIN!!! I am a tough mother ******! It felt like exfoliating with a pin. Seriously, tiny little insignificant pin pricks over and over. A mere flesh wound! I kept waiting for The Pain to happen but it never did!! Of course I got my tattoo on the fleshiest part of my arm like Popeye because I was worried about this exact thing and I figured this would be the least painful. Either I guessed right or I have the pain tolerance of Rocky. I’m going with the latter.


You are probably wondering where I came up with this design and why. I want to say it took years but that’s not exactly true. Months maybe. I have wanted a tattoo forever but the designs in my mind have morphed over the years. I’ve gone from wanting Celtic journey symbols to coyotes to birds to even some Secret Agent Josephine art but I didn’t really want my own cartoony style on my arm.

Forever ago I admired some tough bartender chick who had full sleeves of koi fish decorating both arms. She was so hot with a black leather vest and a gives-no-shit attitude. Of course I wanted that because it was so far from my own identity. Probably not the best motive for getting a tattoo but it stuck with me visually.

I started to research Japanese tattoos and koi fish and I really fell love with their meaning. Koi fish often symbolize challenges in life, especially if they are swimming upstream.  A lot of people get them if they are overcoming drug abuse or fighting cancer.  I read that some Japanese stories tell of koi fish swimming upstream so powerfully that they became dragons as they break away from the water and become clouds of mist over a waterfall. I loved that visual.

I’m not overcoming drug abuse or fighting cancer. I have friends who are and both are very heartfelt and serious subjects for me but I feel like I’ve already overcome my struggles. I left a marriage after 14 years and I left my childhood religion and turned my back on my family and everything I knew. That was my struggle. So I designed my koi fish swimming downstream. I’m sure I will still have struggles to come but they are small in comparison to what I’ve already been through. And that is why there is a small koi fish swimming upstream.

The peony is because I LOVE PEONIES. That is all. Everything else is just decorative. I like it.


Actually, I kind of love it.

I also love this little tattoo parlor. Alex was recommended to me from a sister of a friend. I couldn’t be happier with Alex. She is so skilled. She took my design and refined it and added shading. She really did exactly what I wanted, to the letter. She’s crazy about detail and cleanliness and that was really important to me. But best of all she was kind and sweet and I wasn’t scared at all. She really took all the fear out of getting a tattoo for me. It was like sitting around in someone’s living room, listening to punk music and talking about everything under the sun. I felt so tough and baddass but at ease and comfortable in my own skin and my own choices.


So please, if you are thinking of getting a tattoo do check Alex out. I’m saying right now that I don’t plan on going back and getting “all tatted-up” like I hear everyone does but I can see why it is addictive.   It was a crazy fun time and I love the art! It’s like my own personal art gallery that I get to walk around and show off.


Between you and me, I am pretty anxious/excited to see how people will react to it. It’s so different from any identity I’ve ever had before. I expect some criticism and I’m okay with that. It is who I am now and I expect not everyone will like it. I get it. I waited until I was 45 for a reason.