Looking back: my first year in L.A.

one year in L.A.

We woke up in the canyons of Utah, braved 115-degree dry heat in Vegas, and paid nearly five dollars a gallon for the last leg of the trip. It was a Thursday, and it was L.A. or bust.

John and I arrived in Los Angeles one year ago Friday. We’d been on the road for 10 days, driving through small towns, big cities and vast deserts. We saw a lot of incredible things, but the most vivid memory of all was when we crossed into L.A. County. The highway was wide, the mountains were high and the setting sun gave it all a dreamy, hazy glow. We had made it. This was “home.”

driving into L.A.

Adjusting to our new surroundings wasn’t easy. Within the first day, we had a stinky iPhone full of air freshener juice and a ticket for talking on said phone as welcoming souvenirs. Thankfully, we had a place to stay, but finding an apartment was frustrating and difficult. Our bank accounts took major blows, jobs were scarce and grad school was looming. It was a lot to deal with at once.

Santa Monica beachcity-smog-2 trails-2

The first year certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing. I’ve had the chance to meet some extraordinary people working as a journalist and have taken the time to explore the Golden State with short road trips and camping adventures. I’ve woken up in a tent on the beach to see seals frolicking in the ocean, I’ve interviewed rock stars and activists and politicians, I’ve made a ton of new friends at school and through the blogging community, and I’ve had my best friend and partner next to me every step of the way. Being on this adventure with John has made the difficult times easier to deal with and the celebratory times even sweeter.

kisses-2 venice-canals-2 hills

And what’s not to love about L.A.? You could look at the negatives, and a lot of people choose to. I’ve encountered many of them myself, but the good has far outweighed the bad. Los Angeles is such a diverse city, both culturally and geologically, and that has made for so many new-to-me experiences. I needed a culture shock. I needed to step out of my comfort zone. And I needed to live in a city full of opportunities to make me realize just how many are open to me if I go after them.

cassie-walking

So thanks, Los Angeles, for giving me the biggest thrill of my life. Thanks for making me work for it and for letting me reap the rewards. Whether I stay another year, five years or a lifetime, I’ll always look back on the first 12 months as a game-changer.

Happy anniversary, Los Angeles.

 

Beer with a Blogger: Congregation Ale House in Pasadena

Bonding over beer and blogging really is a great way to make a new friend.

And this month, I made friends with the lovely and adorable Lauren. Check out our happy hour adventures below!

Lauren Breathe & Nourish

THE BLOGGER

Lauren Cash, the blogger behind Breathe & Nourish. Lauren writes about body acceptance, healthy living & habits, food and more. Recently, she wrote a touching letter to her body, and her habit shift series is a great and helpful documentation of how to make healthy changes routine. She and I clicked right away—Lauren’s super easy to talk to, asks thoughtful questions, had several funny stories to share and, as you can see, has the best smile. You can follow Lauren on Twitter and Instagram.

Congregation Ale House

Congregation Ale House

THE BAR

Lauren suggested Congregation Ale House in Pasadena, and it was the perfect spot for a beer enthusiast. The beer list is so long! It’s located in a quaint little section of Pasadena (where I’ve only been a couple of times but is really pretty adorable), so the outside seating area is really relaxed and inviting. The inside is spacious and gorgeous—they of course tied in the theme well with stained glass. Congregation has several other locations, as well.

Congregation Ale House

beer

THE BEER

I got adventurous with a 10.5% alcohol Oskar Blues Deviant Dale Double IPA (which was kind of like drinking two beers), while Lauren sampled both the El Segundo Brewing Company’s Station No. 1 Red Ale and the Anderson Valley Anniversary Imperial IPA. All imbibed was well enjoyed.

Cassie and Lauren

Thanks for introducing me to a great spot, Lauren! I had a blast and hope to hang again soon.

Are you a blogger living in (or visiting!) L.A.? Do you like beer? Shoot me an email at wittycassiehere (at) gmail (dot) com, and let’s go to happy hour!

My favorite L.A. Instagrammers

Before I had Instagram, I was kind of snobby about Instagram.

I thought it was just a bunch of heavy-handed filters and pictures of coffee. Little did I know there were puppies, selfies… and downright awe-inspiring photos, too.

Now, of course, I’m in love with the medium. Some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow are the ones dedicated to documenting life in Los Angeles, so I’m here to share with you my favorite L.A. Instagrammers. These folks rarely if ever post photos of coffee. (Though—spoiler alert—one does feature dogs exclusively.) Instead, they capture the essence of a California Dreamin’ editorial, whether by snapping photos of a mural under a freeway bridge or of the marine layer coming in from the coast. I also love them for their distinct personalities. Funny how that comes through, even though they’re rarely in front of the camera.

Check ’em out & click the photos to go to their photostream:

@kylieturley

Though based in the city, Kylie spends a lot of time traveling the coast, which makes following this triplet’s account feel like you’re on a road trip with her and her sisters. Speaking of which, I wonder if they have room in the car for a pseudo fourth sister. ‘Cause they look like they’re having too much fun for three people.

@missjulie

Julie’s eye for a well-balanced photo is always spot-on. I love how she uses the rule of thirds and breaks the rule of thirds. Despite all of the vibrant color in her photos, there’s still a strong sense of minimalism about them that is perfection.

@streetasart

Here’s that nitty-gritty, artsy L.A. we all love. This photographer sees the beauty everywhere, whether it be huge building murals or guerilla-style sidewalk graffiti. It goes to show just how much this city is buzzing with creativity.

@plainivory

Every photo Alex posts makes me do a double-take. They depict life in downtown Los Angeles in a not-so-square format with awesome perspectives and subtle filters. This is someone I’d really like to take a walking (and Instagramming!) tour with.

@ruffcutzdtla

I promised dogs, and here they are in abundance. Enrique gave up his corporate IT job to become a professional dog walker, and he documents every excursion. (I wonder if the dogs know how lucky they are to visit Griffith Park all the time?!) Enrique’s photos were the most difficult to pick favorites from, because every snapshot he takes captures the dogs so perfectly.

@slvrlyt

Is it possible for a bike to have a personality? Because I feel like David’s bikes do. An avid cyclist, his entire photostream is dedicated to posing his bikes in creative spots that are just so L.A. Not only do they have personality—but those bikes are damn photogenic, too.

@elinvanatta

Elin’s photos remind me of the classic L.A. images that would always make me yearn to move here before I finally did. They have a total care-free, adventurous and dreamy vibe that I’ve always found appealing. (Who wouldn’t?) When we get a glimpse of Elin herself, she’s always smiling and freaking adorable.

One can never follow too many awesome Instagram accounts. What are your favorites?

 

@wittycassiehere Instagram

Beer with a Blogger: O’Brien’s in Santa Monica

You know what I love about L.A.? There are so many bloggers here!

Which means this Beer with a Blogger series is turning out to be a regular thing. This month, I met up with a blogger whose site I only discovered within the past few months and quickly came to be one of my favorites. Meet Erin, who suggested we meet up at an Irish pub that shares her last name.
Erin O'Brien

THE BLOGGER

Erin O’Brien, a SoCal native who blogs at Modern Notebook. She writes about life, music, fashion, books, food and more, and she’s just about to wrap up her undergraduate degree in Journalism. Recently, Erin recapped her trip to Coachella, and in another post, she wrote a love letter to L.A. She’s super sweet, smart and easy to talk to—probably because she’s always smiling. You can follow Erin on Twitter here.

O'Brien's Irish Pub

THE BAR

O’Brien’s on Wilshire in Santa Monica. (There are two unrelated O’Brien’s in Santa Monica, so don’t get them confused!) This Irish pub and restaurant celebrated its 20th anniversary last month. Just the vibe you’d expect—friendly and casual. The hockey game was on TV, so the other patrons were pretty animated (i.e., excited and drunk). While Erin and I were taking photos of the pub, the owner, William O’Sullivan, came out to meet us. He was incredibly friendly and told us he hoped we’d come back again soon.

THE BEER

Smithwicks Irish Ale for Erin (fitting) and a Lagunitas IPA for me. (Not exactly Irish, but hey, it’s one of my favorites!)

William O'Sullivan

I love any excuse to hang out on the West Side, and meeting up with Erin turned out to be a great one. We had a lot to talk about, especially since she and I are both in school for Journalism. Erin also gave me a couple of book recommendations—beer, blogging AND books? My kinda night.

Cassie & Erin

Thanks for hanging, Erin! Can’t wait to get together again soon.

Are you a blogger living in (or visiting!) L.A.? Do you like beer? Shoot me an email at wittycassiehere (at) gmail (dot) com, and let’s go to happy hour!

Through the lens: photos from April

LACMA

In case you hadn’t noticed, a third of 2014 has already flown by.

I know. I’m wondering where time went, too. But as usual, I’ve documented the past several weeks so I can remember where the heck I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. As usual, it was a busy month!

Silver Lake art

Red Lion Tavern

My second semester and first year of grad school wrapped up yesterday—all that’s left is turning in final projects. (I better stop procrastinating.) I did some much-needed bonding with a few of my classmates who have become really good friends over the past few months. I’m so lucky to have met all these talented, wonderful people. Above is a shot from the Red Lion Tavern here in Silver Lake, which I’ve been wanting to visit since I moved here. The beer garden was awesome.

Venice beach boardwalk

Venice beach boardwalk

Venice beach boardwalk

Venice Beach

Above, a super windy day at Venice Beach. Below, the old and long-defunct Griffith Park Zoo (those cages were straight-up animal prisons).

Old Griffith Park Zoo caution tape Old Griffith Park Zoo Griffith Park

baby rattlesnake

While exploring Griffith Park and jumping from rock to rock, I almost stepped on this baby rattlesnake. Cute, right?

Calabasas

DTLA arts district DTLA arts district

And I fell a little more in love with the Arts District downtown when Rachel and I met up for the latest edition of Beer with a Blogger.

Now that it’s May, I’m looking forward to finding out how the rest of my summer is going to pan out. I have a few job prospects up in the air, plus I’m taking a summer class and hoping to do a little traveling when I can. (A weekend camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park is in the works!)

What were your April highlights? And what are you looking forward to in May?