Interweb Finds: Body farms, homemade cookie butter & more

Bradbury building

Oh hey guys. Remember me?

I’m officially on Thanksgiving break, which means I finally feel like I have a moment to exhale, relax and get back to this blogging space I love so dearly. I’m sorry I’ve left you so long.

A few updates from my world: I’m working on a couple of longer stories that I’m really excited about (and hope I can find a home for). I’ve made some very tough but what I hope will be rewarding decisions to take career-related risks that one day I might not have the luxury of taking. (As in, when those student loan bills start rolling in.) And John and I are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the second year in a row. (This time, with his sister as our guest!) All very exciting things. I’m planning on having a much-needed catch-up session on my blog reader this week, but I’d love to hear what’s going on in your lives.

I thought this space was about due for roundup of the best web finds from the past couple of weeks. Check ’em out!

How to make homemade cookie butter. (I die.)

Good news for grumpy people: they get the details right.

If you’re fascinated and awed by all things morbid, check out this piece on body farms and how they’re used to learn about the decomposition process.

“The bodies are donated and left out in the elements as part of research aimed at better understanding the process of decomposition, mainly to assist in criminal investigations. When an unidentified body turns up, the first question police typically ask is how long ago the person died — and the observations made at body farms have been crucial in allowing them to answer it.”

Did you see the video of the woman getting catcalls all day as she silently walked around New York City? Here’s a hilarious video depicting what it’s like to walk around as a white guy in NYC for 10 hours.

Best gift ever: a woman wondered if she and her mom would’ve been friends if they weren’t mother and daughter. So she Photoshopped pictures of both of them growing up and the results are perfect.

You should move at least five times in your life.

Check out this awesome, trippy and totally acoustic instrument handmade by the artist playing it. I’d like to meditate in that room.

Is Banksy a woman? This writer makes a case for it. (And if you haven’t seen Banksy Does New York yet, it’s a great documentary available on HBO.)

Here’s how Alexandra Franzen met the love of her life.

“I also expressed — by ticking the appropriate boxes in my profile setting — that I was interested in a long-term relationship. Not short-term-and-let’s-see-where-this-goes. Not casual. Long. Term. Love. That was the truth, so that’s what I put.”

The Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles has its very own gay wing unlike anything else in any other jail or prison. Instead of violence and racism, there is fashion and love. (My badass classmate and friend Ani Ucar knocked it out of the park with her first cover story in L.A. Weekly!)

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Stephanie from Loudmouth Lifestyle talks openly about her own experience with self-doubt and gives us all a much-needed reminder of realizing our worth.

On a similar note, Hannah Brencher kills it with this one: you can’t be all the things.


That’s all for this week! I promise not to be gone so long again this time—after the holiday, I’ll have another featured Feminist to Follow.

In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving! How are you celebrating?

Through the Lens: Photos from November

month in photos: November

Point Mugu beach

It’s always surreal when November transitions into December and the holiday craze kicks into high gear.

It’s especially strange when it’s 72 degrees and sunny. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I was grinning ear to ear when we kicked off November by camping on the beach (see above). Likewise when we wished it farewell on the beach (see last photo).

There were a lot of highlights for me this month. I stepped out of my comfort zone and produced a story for broadcast I was proud of, I had some revelations about money, and I explored more of my new city that I love so dearly. Here are a few of my favorite photos from November:

garden Griffith Park Griffith Park downtown Los Angeles Hollywood sign Griffith Park Griffith Park Observatory Griffith Park

Griffith Park is one of my favorite spots in L.A. I’d been a few times, but never on such a clear day. I didn’t know you could see all the way to Santa Monica (and the ocean!) from the Observatory. John and I hiked around here for a while and soaked up the sun.

We also revisited the old brewery downtown where hundreds of artists-in-residence dwell. We walked by one guy’s studio that was wide open. We stood there peeking in long enough that the artist, Sean Sobczak, welcomed us in and lit everything up:

Sean Sobczak

Brewery Art Walk

We partied afterward in a warehouse. This is the bathroom. I didn’t use it… I just wanted a photo.

DTLA warehouse

double exposure

Last week, we saw Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy from Anchorman at The Grove signing books. We got there just a few minutes before he arrived, and he walked right past us. I could’ve reached out and touched him. (I really wanted the chance to tell him I was the next Veronica Corningstone, but alas, the book signing line was too insanely long.)

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy

Thanksgiving was truly the highlight of the month. John and I celebrated, just the two of us. Neither one of us had ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner before, but damn did we make ourselves proud. It made missing our families back home a little easier. (And now we know we’re totally capable of hosting it ourselves!)

candlelight Thanksgiving meal

Since then, I’ve been making the most of my Thanksgiving break. It’s so incredibly nice to have time off from the pressures of school. Yesterday, we headed out to Venice Beach and spent the afternoon strolling the boardwalk, people-watching, and sitting out in the sun. We even changed into our workout clothes and went for a run on the beach and through the canals.

Venice building Venice Venice beach

Of course, next week it immediately kicks back into crazy time at school for me, but there are really only a couple more weeks of that before winter break, if you can believe it. (I can’t.) Next week is the last week of classes before final projects are due, so wish me luck!

There’s so much to look forward to in December, I don’t know where to begin. But seeing family and friends when we go back home for Christmas is at the top of my list.

How about you? What did you love about November? And what are you looking forward to in December?

A Thanksgiving gratitude roundup


For today’s post, I asked the good people of the interwebs to tell me what they’re most thankful for this year so I could include their responses in a Thanksgiving-themed post. I was envisioning a heart-warming, sentimental, feel-good post with a gushy outpouring of love and gratitude.

But that’s not what everyone had in mind.

Now, there WERE a few genuine responses that had what I was looking for:

I am most Thankful for my family and extended family who continue to amaze me with what they do for themselves and others. – Ken

Healthy family, good friends, and a job I like. – Helen

One that sticks out is a supportive group of family and friends. Don’t know where I’d be without the support of those around me! – Jessica

I’m super thankful for my amazing friends, who let me sleep at their houses and have sobfests on their couches. – Brianna

For my healthy little newborn!Nagehan

That my younger brother is doing well in his first semester at college #TakingOverOneAtATime – Andres

And then there were these guys, who were honest about the little, everyday things that get them through:

I’m thankful for Breaking Bad and for Robert (the guy who fixed our dishwasher two days before Thanksgiving.) – Chris

I am thankful for buttery brie… and oh yeah… wine. – Suzy

I’m thankful for hot water and the ability to charge my iPhone in my car. Oh and power steering. – Erin

The cloud, baby. It’s all about the cloud. And iMessage on my computer OMG. – Jenna

My family; but Neil Young is a very close second! – Stacy

I’m grateful for the wealth of great music and films that came out in 2013. Also, the Internet. – Jorge

That the perfect red lipstick is not a myth and actually turns out to be a total game changer. I know that sounds shallow & superficial but I challenge anyone to find better confidence boost than wearing a perfect red!Amanda

I am thankful that there have been so many good albums released in 2013. SO MANY. – Martin

This is my answer and you can’t stop me. – Rachel

And then there was this awkward moment when it could’ve been a serious response or a joke:

I’m thankful for baby Jesus. – Todd

In any case, you guys made this post a fun one to read and put together. Which brings me to my next point…

What am I thankful for this year?

Well, earlier this month, I wrote a guest post for Erika about how grateful I am for the change in perspective moving cross-country has brought me. I’m also thankful to have a partner-in-crime for this crazy adventure, and that, so far, we’re doing all right. I’m grateful for my family and friends back home, who I miss dearly. I’m grateful for the opportunities grad school has opened the doors to. I’m so, so thankful for all the wonderful people reading and commenting on this blog that continue to make it worth the effort. And, like some of you, I too am grateful for wine. And the perfect shade of red. And baby Jesus.

So to my friends in the U.S., have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! For everyone else having a regular ole Thursday, thanks for being you. Now I’m off to make Cassie’s famous casserole.