Category Archives: merriment

Quintessential Things to Do in LA

Well, it’s almost that time.

Seems in less than a month, I’ll be back at school and teaching technology to my middle schoolers. I can’t say I’m exactly ready. But then again, I still have a whole month to soak in the LA summer (all while avoiding the crazy Valley summer temps).

Margaritas and Cheap Trick from the cheap seats with my baby #mamatoldmeyesshetoldme #LALifeWhile I have had the chance to read plenty of books this summer (I think I’m at 22 or 23 at this point), and I’ve attended some fun outdoor events, there’s still so much I want to do before heading back.

This post came to my attention earlier today and it reminded me that I’m not an LA local. And while I may have been here for 13ish years now, there’s still so much I haven’t seen or done.

So I figured it would be fun to maybe make a list of what I’d like to do around LA before Labor Day.

So here you go, In no particular order:

    • Getty Museum + take one of the guided tours
  • Getty Villa – I’ve yet go visit since they opened it a few  years back
  • Evening cocktails on a rooftop – not the night clubbing kind, more the mellow kind
  • Something yummy from Grand Central Market – I hear Egg Slut is amazing
  • Photo the Chandelier Tree
  • Photo from to top of City Hall
  • Friday night at LA Live (think we’re doing that next weekend)
  • Visit Griffith Observatory – haven’t been since it opened
  • Overnight trip to Santa Barbara
  • Iconic photo of downtown with the park bench – been waiting for a smog-free day for this one
  • Get my swim on – I feel weird if I don’t get to a pool at least once each summer
  • Visit Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
  • Visit the Lake Shrine Temple
  • California Science Center
  • Hammer Museum – I’ve been for concerts (same with the Science Center), but not for the actual museum
  • Rooftop Japanese garden at the Kyoto Grand
  • Japanese Garden in Van Nuys
  • The Bradbury Building
  • Summer night event at Grand Park downtown


I guess I’ll keep adding to the list as I think of more things. And I’ll be sure to cross off the stuff I finally get around to doing.

A few of these DTLA things I had put aside for my 2-week Federal jury duty time. But it turns out I never actually got called in for that. Oh well.

And yes, I realize that most of what I want to do is museum related. And logically, it makes more sense to wait until school starts back up again. And pretty much, the ones that aren’t, are mostly photo ops for me. But it’s my list. So I get to decide what goes on it and what gets done.

What’s on your summer list – something you’ve already done or something you’d still like to do?

Read Any Good Books Lately?

16005232549_6890385e34_mA friend was asking for book recommendations on Facebook the other day.  And I realized that I’m often sharing my favorite books, over and over again.

Figured it might be easier just to create a list and share them all in one place. And please forgive my lack of descriptors and reviews. There’s a reason I read the books and don’t write them. 😉

These are in no particular order…

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel

I think this is one of the best reads I’ve read in a while. It’s a big of a historical fiction as it flashes back to the time of the Japanese Internment Camps during WWII. I loved the back and forth between the past and the present. And seeing how the main character’s well, character developed from those that were important in his life.

The Offer

This is a light, easy-to-read, read-it-in-one-day kind of book (even though I do believe I took two days to enjoy it). I think I personally would have liked a bit more raunch, but it worked for me. It has a sweet storyline. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for light and enjoyable.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

I really loved this book. It was a book club selection and not something I would have grabbed to read on my own. But really, it was oh, so good. It’s got touches of magic and fantasy, engineering and typography, love story, and technology all mixed in. It really is a smart read. And one you won’t be able to put down.


The Girl on the Train: A Novel

This is being touted as the next Gone Girl. Which I can totally see. But at the same time, it’s not. But like Gone Girl, be sure give it a good 30% read through knowing that it’s going to get real interesting any page now.

Gone Girl: A Novel

By now, I’m sure you’ve either seen the movie, or heard the twists and turns.  But trust me, read it. While the movie was a great adaptation – and the new ending was perfect for it – the book really freaks you and and leaves you thinking. Long after you’ve put the book down, you’re still in that “what the fuck?!?!” frame of mind. It’s that good. And that different from the movie.

 The All Souls Trilogy

I received The Discovery of Witches in a holiday, white elephant, book swap. It has everything I love in a book…romance, intrigue, magic, a splash of sex with a good amount of raunch (what can I say?), time travel, vampires…you get it, right?  And it was well written. I immediately fell in love. And since I was on winter break, I devoured it (notice a pattern here yet?). I immediately went out and picked up the second book, and even pre-ordered the third…which I then, again, immediately devoured. Some folks said they couldn’t get into the third book, but I think she did a great job bringing it all together.

The Red Tent: A Novel

I think it’s one of my all time, top 5 books of all time. Well, counting series (like The Wrinkle in Time as one, that is). I’ll admit, it had a slow start. I mean a really slow start. And at the time we read it (it was one of our first book club reads – back when I read everything we picked), I hadn’t met anyone else that read it. So I powered through. But when it turned and got interesting, it got really, really good. I couldn’t put it down.

Big Little Lies

I totally stumble upon this one by accident. I think at the time I read it, no one I knew had yet to read it. Next thing I know, they’re making it into a movie. I liked it. It was a light enough read, with a bit of a mystery. And the characters were complex. I think it will make a good movie.

His Wicked Games

I’ve devoured everything Ember’s written over the past couple months. But I will say, the Wicked Games series is awesome. Just the right mix of engaging story and great smut. Tell me how many times you reread the scene where she tries to figure out his favorite work of art. And no, that’s not a euphemism. Oh and the pool scene in The Secret to Seduction (The Fontaines)? Yep, I think you’ll love that one also. You can also follower her on Facebook to stay in the loop of up and coming books.

Jade Calhoun Series

I’m also slowly working my way through Deanna Chase’s stuff. She writes mostly more of the supernatural type of romances, so I’m taking a little longer to read everything (I can only take in smaller doses as that’s not my fave genre). But, her Jade Calhoun series I really, really like. And all of her stuff is quite easy to enjoy – and devour in a day.


Again, these are in no particular order. And I realized I write some crappy reviews. But if you’re looking for a good book to read, here’s a great place to start. Hope it helped.

I’d love to hear about your favorite books or suggestions for what to read next. I have a slew of things waiting for me on my Kindle. I’ll no doubt have more than enough to get me through summer break.

Where to Find Good Iced Coffee in Los Angeles

Iced Coffee: a Haiku

summer heat swelter
coffee iced sweetened cream splash
total refreshment

I’m just going to come right out and say it…I love iced coffee!

I mean the good stuff.

coffeegeek's iced coffeeNot just hot coffee poured over ice. The mild, cold brewed stuff.  Now that’s my jam.

These days, I find if I’m not drinking a hot latte, then I’m drinking an iced coffee. I’ve even taking to perfecting the home-brew recipe so I can have coffee-on-tap – so to speak – all year long.*

And now that school is out for the summer, I can indulge in the even stronger – yet still mild – cà phê đá or Vietnamese iced coffee. Now that’s some heaven in a glass right there.

The other day, I was reading an Eater post about the best coffee shops in LA. Which of course got me thinking that most of those shops are known for their fancy drinks, their speciality roasting or beans, or even their accouterments and snacks.

But none were even mentioning their cold brew options or their gluten free options. And well, since I’m on summer break, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

So over the next few weeks and months, I’m going to visiting some of my favorite local coffee shops and/or gluten free bakery shops and share my thoughts.  Most will primarily be focused on the Valley (well, it is local, right?) since that’s where I spend most of my time. But in the end, I’ll be sure to share my not-so-local places as well as I travel around.

And if there’s a place you think I should check out, feel free to drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out.


* PS: Don’t waste your money trying the International Delight pre-packed iced coffee from the dairy section. That stuff is horrible (I actually returned it for a refund and I’ve never done that before).  Though both Illy and Starbucks bottles are quite good.

Photo: Flickr



Imperfect 365: How I See the World

If you’ve followed me (here on this blog, or elsewhere in the social world) for any amount of time, you know that I love taking pictures. Mind you, not enough to actually pick up my husband’s Nikon Dwhatever and actually learn how to use it. But my iPhone has been keeping me quite happy.

This year, I decided to participate in an Imperfect 365, photo-a-day challenge. So far, I’ve really enjoyed it. I think I’ve missed only two days in the 6 months we’ve been doing it. Though not that the school year is nearly over, I’m not certain how easy it will be get my daily shots in. I mean, I might actually have to leave my apartment (egads!!)

I wanted to share a couple of my favorites that I’ve taken this year. And if you want to follow along on Instagram or check me out on Flickr, you’re more than welcome to.

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

A photo posted by Katy (@katytafoya) on

35+ Year Old’s Guide to Attending Music Festivals

Summer is officially the music festival season.  There are the big ones: Bonaroo, Lalapalooza, Outside Lands, etc.  And then there are the smaller, more local festivals (we have quite a few here in the LA area – Pasadena, Echo Park, Sunset Junction, Eagle Rock – and those are just the ones that I’ve been lucky enough to attend).

Believe it or not, three years ago I attended my very first music festival.  And while knowing how much I enjoy going to concerts, that might come as a shock to you, trust me when I say, if I had my way, I could have gone on happily never having been to a music festival.

My husband, on the other hand, loves music festivals of all shapes and sizes and has attended many. In fact, it’s not uncommon for him to attend a handful during any given year.

Which of course means, eventually I was going to have to attend one.  There was just no getting out of it.

Lucky for me, my first festival – Austin City Limits – was a great experience (you can read more about it here).  And since then, I’ve gone on to attend – and even enjoy – a few others.  In fact, this past spring, I headed out to Stagecoach.  Which I promptly decided that I would never do again…the heat, the dirt, the heat, the hike, the dirt, and yes, the triple-digit heat. It was WAY too much.

Next month, I’ll be heading back to Austin to for another round of Austin City Limits.  This time around, I expect the experience to be even better.  One: I’m interested in more of the bands that will be playing.  Two: I know how things work since I’ve done it before.  And three: I’ll be better prepared as I’ve since been to a few music festivals now.

Here’s my suggestion on what to bring if you’re attending a music festival…be it small or large.

  • A backpack – it makes the whole experience so much easier since you’ll have everything at your fingertips.
  • Comfortable shoes – this is the time to worry about being fashionable.  Comfort matters.  And take it from my personal experience (something I learned long, long ago), nothing ruins your day like blisters, bruises or painful feet.
  • Sunscreen – slather it on. Then slather it on a couple more times throughout the day.  You will sweat and you will douse yourself in water to cool off, so I suggest going with the “sport” versions.  And those sprays make for super simple application.
  • A hat – hipster, cowboy, baseball, garden, hiking…I don’t care what kind of hat.  Just wear something that will cover your eyes from the glaring sun.  The larger the brim, the better.
  • A refillable water bottle – most festivals won’t let you in with a full bottle or even a sealed bottle these days.  But they will let you bring in your empty or your refillable bottles.  And if they’re good at what they do and they care about their people, they’ll encourage you to bring in those bottles and have plenty of filling stations available (I’m looking at you Stagecoach – no idea why you didn’t tell people to bring bottles and why you didn’t have more filling stations…especially in that heat).
  • A towel – I’d actually go so far as to suggest TWO towels…one for sitting on (during Stagecoach it protected us from the itchy hay bales and during ACL it reserved our space for the final shows each night) and one for wiping down or dousing in water and wearing around your neck.  Trust me, things get hot out there.
  • Toilet paper or tissue – you will be using porta-potties.  Making sure you have your own paper on hand makes the experience a bit more tolerable.
  • Hand sanitizer – you’re going to be there for hours.  You’re going to be using porta-potties (see above). You’re going to be sitting on the ground or wiping off your sweat. You’re going to be eating.  You’ll be glad you brought a small tube with you.
  • Lip balm – though this might just be me. But it gets hot out there.  And sunscreen on the lips isn’t a look that works for me.  Then again, I’m a bit addicted, so I always make sure to have some handy.
  • A lightweight jacket or sweater – you’ll have been in the sun, sweating, dancing, baking for hours.  Once that sun goes down, things get quite cool.  Having a little something that you can put on helps.
  • A flashlight – most of these music festivals are in big parks.  And once the shows are over, and you’ve left the stage area, it’s dark. And the walk back to you car (or bike, or the bus line) is even darker.  Having even a small flashlight helps.
  • Phone charger – or back up power.  Most festivals have charging stations, some require that you have your own cord.  Others, have the hookups there for you.  Either way, it’s worth having handy.
  • Bandaids – you never know when you might get that blister or scrape.  Can’t hurt to have some on hand, right?

If you’re a female, I’d also suggest that you wear dresses or skirts.  Those porta-potties are much easier to use (and to balance) when you can hold your close up and away instead of having to pull things down and away.  Just a thought.

If you’re part of a group, you might also want to have something that sets you apart from the rest of the hundreds of thousands of people.  Think tall flags, things with lights, etc.  It really does make it easier to find your people…especially if drinking has been involved.

This list is by no means perfect.  But it should get you through in comfort…until you can create a supply list that works better for your needs.

If you see me at ACL – merrily reliving my youth along with Depeche and the Cure, feel free to say Hi.


Have You Been to an Outdoor Movie Viewing Yet?

Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve lived in Los Angeles now and this summer was my first ever outdoor movie? I know, it blows my mind too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve done plenty of the SoCal summer outdoorsy stuff.  I’ve done Shakespeare in the Park down in San Pedro, nearly every summer.  We’ve been to many an outdoor concert – downtown, at the Santa Monica Pier, Pasadena, you name it.

But this was my first outdoor movie.  And not a bad choice….Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in Pasadena.  It was part of the Eat | See | Hear traveling show.  Each Saturday, it’s a different movie at a different location.  You bring a chair, pillow or blankets, check out the live music, enjoy the collection of food trucks.  You can even bring your dog with you. And then when the sun goes down, the movie starts.

I had photos to share, but for some reason, they’re all coming up wonky and pixelated.  No bother, I can still talk about things without photos, right?

This week, Eat | See | Hear is showing Boogie Nights – you know that classic LA love story – at LA Trade Tech.  And the coolest part, they’re making it a drive in!!  But you need to get your tickets in advance.  You can get all the scoop and their summer schedule here.

If you’re looking for other summer night movie options, be sure to check out the LAist with their complete list. And who knows, I just might see you there…or at Shakespeare by the Sea…or Downtown at one of the music events.


Cooks Menu Pop-Up: Breast Cancer Connections Benefit Dinner

Here in LA we’ve got everything from fine dining, to amazing food trucks to pop-up and underground dinners.  If you like a good meal, LA’s got you covered.

Late one night, two cooks were hanging out at a local bar after their hard night working the dinner shift.  They got to thinking that if they could bring together many of the rising young cooks and showcase their talents, that they’d not only give the people a memorable dining experience, but they could also give back to the community.

…and Cooks Menu was born.

According to one of the coordinators and participating chefs, Howard Ko, “it’s about creating a collaborative effort not by head chefs, but by sous chefs, meat cooks, fish cooks, entremets, garde manger, pastry cooks and the front of the house.”

Chefs, mixologists and staff from renowned LA hotspots such as Mélisse Restaurant, Church and State, Il Grano, Joe’s Restaurant, Katsuya and Bottega Louie will be cooking things up in the kitchen to benefit Breast Cancer Connections.  The featured wines will be sponsored by Palimina and Brewer-Clifton Wines.

If you want to be part of this talk of the town event, be sure to act quickly as they only have 60 seats open.  And as would be expected, they’re going quickly.

Here’s everything you need to know about this sure to be fantastic dinner*:

When: Sunday, November 6th – 7:00PM – 11:00PM
Where: Il Grano — 11363 Santa Monica Blvd
Price: $75 per person, all inclusive, 6 course family style meal including featured wine and cocktails

Dinner Brought To You By:

Howard Ko, Fish Cook – Mélisse Restaurant
Brian Maynard, Meat Cook – Mélisse Restaurant
Charlie Skidmore, Sous Chef – Church and State
Sal Marino, Chef/Owner – Il Grano
en Gell, Meat Cook – Joe’s Restaurant
Dawn McElhare, Mixologist – Katsuya
Eulogio Rios and Ethan Stiffelman, Pastry Cooks – Melisse Restaurant

* sadly, I won’t be able to attend as I have a previous engagement that night.

Calling All You Sassy City Chicks!

Click to Make Larger

One of my favorite fashion events is the Sassy City Chicks event.  And lucky for us, there’s another one coming up on November 3rd.  There’s shopping, there’s cocktails, there’s even spa treatments and goody bags!  It’s a fun night with your girlfriends.

And you can WIN FREE TICKETS: the first 25 fashionistas who enter LAGAL at checkout will win a Sassy Tote Ticket!

*Ticket includes: admission – swag bag – cocktails – spa treatments

And I’ve yet to leave empty handed.  So definitely check it out!

WHO: Sassy City Chicks

WHAT: Los Angeles Fall Fashion Bash

WHERE: 6060 Wilshire Blvd. (@ Fairfax)

WHEN: Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 from 5 – 10PM

Major discounts on Fall apparel & accessories- just in time for the holidays! Featuring deep discounts on major labels like Free People, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Elie Tahari, Denimocracy, Members Only, and LNA. Complimentary cocktails will be served, courtesy of Pinnacle Vodka and Qream Liqueur. Guests can also enjoy FREE mini spa services from a selection of LA’s hottest salons.

Free Ticket to OC Fair This Friday

This Friday, August 12th, they’ll be free admission and free parking from noon-1:00 at the OC Fair.  They’re also throwing in free, one-way skyrides (my favorite thing to do at the fair), from noon – 4:00.  AND they’re offering up $2 rides, food and games – again, until 4:00!

If money is tight, this is a great way to still have some fair fun!  And if you plan on making a full day of it, you can also get free lawn seating for the Three Dog Night-America show later that night.

Not a half bad way to spend the day.  And as we all know, the OC fair grounds are a good 10 degrees cooler than things here in the Valley.