Valentine's Day Ideas

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Valentine's Day can be quite a daunting day, whether you are in a relationship or not. Those who don't have a Valentine might feel the pressure of not having one, and those that do, feel the pressure of having to create a special experience for their loved one. Whichever boat you fall in this year, take the time to do make the most of the day...because, why not?! I love to stop and appreciate the holidays because when I don't it feels like the year just flies by and I didn’t make the most of it.

I did some research for some ideas to do for Valentine's Day that don't require a lot of $$$. Creativity is all you need! So try one of these with your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, friend, girlfriends, etc and enjoy it for what it is! No need to stress over anything. It's just a day like any other day but with an excuse to be a little more cheesy than usual and to take time out to do something you wouldn’t normally. Comment below and let me know which ones you think you would actually do!

 

1. Cook dinner at home: Don't want to do an overpriced pre-fixed dinner, well you could take a stab at making dinner at home. My recommendation if you are a beginner cook is to make a simple marinara pasta. Just make sure you pick up some olives and basil for garnish to give it some pizzazz. And if you know your way around the kitchen, then how about making a side dish of chicken marsala and asparagus to complete the plate. Don't forget the red wine and dessert to go with it!


Easy Pasta Recipe: https://www.oliviascuisine.com/spaghetti-marinara/

Easy Chicken Marsala Recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/8974/easier-chicken-marsala/

Easy Asparagus Recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/214931/oven-roasted-asparagus/


2. Have a Picnic: One of my all time favorite date nights was when I was surprised with a candlelit picnic overlooking the city. Don't have time to cook? Keep it simple and do cheese, crackers, wine and fruit. But no drinking and driving!


Picnic Spots in Los Angeles: https://la.curbed.com/maps/best-los-angeles-picnic-spots


3. Go hiking: This is a healthy and productive way to bond with your significant other (or friends), and you can always grab lunch afterwards!


Places to hike in Los Angeles: https://www.lamag.com/culturefiles/50-essential-hiking-trails-los-angeles/


4. Go to happy hour and order appetizers as your meal. Just call ahead just to make sure that happy hour is still available on Valentine's Day and whether a reservation is needed.


I’ve heard Ruth’s Chris has an amazing happy hour: https://www.ruthschris.com/menu/happy-hour/


5. Ice cream date: This is especially good if you are going on a date with this person for the first time and are still in the getting to know each other phase. Grabbing ice cream and walking and talking while doing so takes the pressure off of trying to fill in the awkward silences because you'll have things that will draw your attention and other things to focus on rather than staring each other straight in the face.


My favorite Ice Cream spot: https://saltandstraw.com/


6. Have some wine with chocolate covered strawberries: If you've been married for a while and the novelty of celebrating Valentine's Day has sort of worn off, you can still find small ways to celebrate. The simplest thing you can do for yourself and your significant other especially with hectic schedules is to just have some nice conversation over a glass of wine with some chocolate covered strawberries. Or the even easier way out is simply chocolate, and strawberries. But if you're feeling up for it, take it a step further and make the make the chocolate dipped strawberries together!


Recipe for chocolate dipped strawberries: https://addapinch.com/chocolate-covered-strawberries-recipe/


7. Chinese takeout and a movie: the simple and cliché date night thing to do. And can you believe, that my husband and I have NEVER done this!?! So much so, that I think this is what we might do and I know he's gonna absolutely LOVE IT.


Valentine’s Day movie ideas for all relationship types: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/a26144010/valentines-day-movies-based-on-relationship-status/

Anti-Valentine’s Day movie ideas: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/anti-valentines-day-movies-on-netflix#slide-1


8. Scavenger hunt with sexy prizes: I've actually done this before where my boyfriend at the time made the scavenger hunt for me (minus the sexy prizes). It was super fun and memorable as well. The clues were actually really hard but somehow I managed to solve the entire thing. This obviously will take a lot of your brain power and more time than most ideas, but I promise you it will be a Valentine's Day they will never forget!


Don’t have time to make one? Here you go ya lazy ass (JK i’ll prolly end up using this one too lol): https://www.thedatingdivas.com/valentines-day-scavenger-hunt/


10. Have a bonfire: Grab some graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, some blankets, and head on over to your nearest fire pit for some good  ol fashion s'mores, story time, and gazing up at the stars.


Link to the beach where we like to have bonfires:  https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=617


Hope you enjoyed all those ideas! If you end up doing any of them, please come back and let me know your experience in the comment section below! Happy Valentine’s Day!!

 

Xoxo,

 

Nellie

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The Treehouse, Bel Air

I paid a very special visit to The Treehouse, Bel Air, I feel as though since returning from China with new ah-ha moments, coupled with finding out I have high blood sugar, is pushing me towards a transitioning in my life. And I feel it is more than just a coincidence that this visit to The Treehouse was set up when it was.

Personally, I have grappled with the idea of going vegan. Like you, I was deeply affected by movies like Forks Over Knives, and What The Health. If you’ve watched them, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t…..well, even if you don’t have the slightest inclination to go vegan, I cannot recommend enough how important it is to watch these documentaries. I say, even if you eat meat, you still have an obligation to know the full effects that it has, not only on your health, but also on planet Earth as well.

Eating meat should not be taken for granted, as we so often do. There are so many resources that go into making that neat little package of meat you are probably used to buying. While I am far from being vegan, I still want to have all the knowledge of what it takes to raise cattle and chickens, so that I’m not just blindly consuming. Plus, veganism doesn’t always come overnight. For some, like myself, it is a process of awareness. I’m hoping that one day the more I become aware of what’s going on, the more it will push me in the right direction.

Now, going back to my stay at The Treehouse…This was definitely an eye opening experience. I was introduced to mindful living. What I mean by that is that they don’t just do things to do them, there is a deeper purpose behind it..everything from how the kitchen is ran to the water that they provide (alkaline of course).

On this particular visit, I decided to take my mom and the first night, we were greeted with a big pot of tea, and all we did was just sit and talk for hours. It was exactly what we needed to connect. In fact, doing so reminded me of the Chinese tradition where friends would get together simply to talk and drink tea for hours on end.

After a few hours of talking and relaxation, Hedda, owner of The Treehouse and her husband whipped up an entire vegan dinner in less than 20 minutes. Can I just say, my body was CRAVING this type of dinner. I mean, I felt my body singing or call it vibrating with excitement over this meal. I was so amazed that something so simple and healthy could be so delicious too. Dinner is not always served for guests but can be requested in advance.

Our accommodations were in the blue elephant room, and I believe they have anywhere from 4 to 5 rooms for guests to stay in. The rest of the house, like the common living room and the backyard patio were perfect for some quiet time. One could easily read a book or meditate in that peace. Some people do treat this place as a hotel while they’re in the city, while others will come here as a retreat, to get away from the stress of city life and just escape to do a stay-cation.

They also have activities that guests can partake in when pre-arranged such as massages and yoga. We had a kundalini yoga session with Hedda and it absolutely kicked my butt. I was sore for the next three days after that.

All in all, I left knowing that there is still so much out there that I have not explored just yet. People talk about vibrations, and energy, and I still have so much to learn. I’m happy that this visit to The Treehouse came when it did. It was not just a hotel stay, far from it. It was more of an awakening, or a nudge if you will to wake up. Of course, that does not mean that anything will change in my life overnight. But, in my opinion, the more exposure, the better.

If you are interested in trying them out for yourself, The Treehouse is offering a 2 for 1 special if purchased now through the end of December for use in 2019. To view this this deal, visit https://thebelairtreehouse.com/store?olsPage=products%2Fjoy-to-the-world-2-nights-1-price. With this deal, you also get a biodynamic breakfast, morning yoga class, and free parking. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave them in the comment section below and let me know, are you or have you ever considered veganism? If so, what’s holding you back?

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It’s all in the details

It’s all in the details

LA Mag Food Event

I am soo sad I was not able to attend the LA Mag Food Event in person. I ended up doing a very impromptu trip to China. I was really looking forward to it. Instead, I sent my husband and the official FOODECALL representative. The risk in doing that is that he actually drinks all the wine, which could mean you’ll end up with the best…or the worst pictures, depending on how you look at it. Just scroll and you’ll see what I’m talking about. In the meantime, I’m just gonna home that I get to go next year because it looked like so much fun!

Alright…seems like we’re off to a good start. He later told me these were radishes with a butter sauce on top.

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Cool intro photo…I can get into that…

Meet Alexander, my husband

Meet Alexander, my husband

This is our friend Bobby. When these two get together, you’ll have to expect the unexpected. One minute you could be partying with a hotelier from Peru, to getting lost in a random city driving on the wrong side of the freeway. Ahem..true story. Anyway! He seems to be having fun too!

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More delish food….things are looking tame. I think we’re in the clear.

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A guy in a pink suit, kinda random. But they both seem to be enjoying each other…

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And then this happened. I’m assuming just minutes before my hubby fell asleep in the car, only to wake up 7 hours later, hoping he wasn’t locked in the Saddlerock Ranch parking lot (he wasn’t).

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So aside from these pics, he also took some interesting IG stories and really failed attempts to boomerang. God bless him tho. As you can see, the LA Mag Food Event was the ish, and although I’m happy I wasn’t there to babysit, I am super jealous I couldn’t make it.

Thanks for tolerating, I mean, for having us LA Mag!

NEWPORT BEACH FESTIVAL

I recently had the pleasure of venturing out all the way to Newport Beach just to attend the Newport Beach Festival. The Pacific Sales Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by Jaguar Land Rover, one of Southern California’s most intimate and highly-acclaimed food and wine events, wrapped its fifth annual extravaganza on Sunday, October 7, 2018. The four-day epicurean event drew over 6,000 guests who enjoyed tastings from over 40 of Southern California’s best restaurants and more than 250 varieties of wine, as well as access to their favorite celebrity chefs. This year’s festival attracted top talent from the culinary world, including Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina, Food Network and Bravo stars Duff Goldman, Richard Blais, and Jet Tila, as well as contestants from Bravo’s Top Chef television series. The chefs hosted lively culinary demonstrations during Saturday and Sunday’s Grand Tasting events, and headlined various VIP events throughout the festival, like the “Fire It Up!” open-flame barbecue event and Celebrity Chef Twilight Cruise, cooking class with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, the Shaken, Stirred, and Twisted mixology competition, and more.

I was in attendance on Saturday, October 6th 2018. There were many plates and drinks that stole my heart like the albacore crudo from Amar Santana’s The Hall, and the lobster ravioli from Fig & Olive.

Check out my pictures below for a peak at some of the delicious food and drinks!

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CHEATDAY LAND

CHEAT DAY LAND (CDL) pop-up museum is a celebration of the foods we all dream about and all deserve after a hard week’s workout. The interactive experience officially opened on October 1st and received overwhelming response from the public and the media, selling out several weekends in row. A Red Carpet Preview Party was held on Sept. 28 and attended by over 350 VIP guests.

CDL features 15 cheat meal-themed rooms stocked with larger-than-life food art. Guests of all ages can ride a mechanical hot dog, snap photos in a life-sized bowl of cereal, climb up a wall of donuts, try on a hamburger dress, and slide through a large poop emoji.

As you can see, I had a freaking BLAST at the Preview Party. There is so much to do and see at CDL. I was so excited when CDL decided to use one of my photos to re-create it in the magical way that they do where they take your photo and make it half animated. That photo ended up making it on their wall at the actual exhibit.

CDL has been such a success that they have decided to extend the dates through Feb 15, 2019. I definitely recommend taking the family here. Just don’t do what I did and jump into the bowl of cereal like I did, it’s not as deep as it looks!

Check out my video and please share, like and comment, and don’t forget to subscribe as well!

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Cloak and Petal, San Diego

I went to San Diego a few weekends ago for the Latitude (Latins with attitude) conference and had the ultimate pleasure of dining at the ONLY happening spot in downtown San Diego, and probably the rest of San Diego…Cloak and Petal.

I literally drove up and down downtown San Diego, and this was the only place I found that was really poppin. It made me feel like I was back in a hip bar/restaurant in LA, in a very good way. No, I’m not the kind of person that wants to escape the scene, I honestly love it. I love the energy and find it to be really fun, and this places was everything and more. Not only was the atmosphere good, but I loved the decor and the food as well.

We tried some really amazing dishes that night. Starting with these beautiful oysters you see here, garnished with radish, ponzu and scallions. Can’t go wrong with this.

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I was surprised when my husband agreed to go with the blistered shishito peppers, decorated with ponzu, garlic, butter, and bonito flakes. Honestly, even if you are a meat eater, these are bomb! So tasty, I swear I could have ate the whole thing myself.

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Next up was the a5 wagyu tartare, which comes with seabean, jidori egg, nikiri shoyu, sesame and crispy baguette. A very beautiful dish.

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This next dish is a specialty that is actually not on the menu, it was provided courtesy of Cloak and Petal. I believe the correct term for it is oshizushi which means pressed sushi. Its layered sushi that takes longer to prepare than regular sushi. We devoured every last bit of it.

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As for the rolls, there are quite a few good ones that make it hard to choose. We went with the 5th & Laurel roll mainly because of one ingredient….truffle. Also with spicy hamachi, avocado, fresh hamachi, yuzu, micro greens and flower. We liked it for its clean taste, however we didn’t quite taste the truffle. I don’t think it’s because they didn’t use enough, but I think perhaps it left the kitchen before the truffle was added. It was still enjoyable either way.

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Next, we decided to go through the Nigiri list and try almost everything. If you’re into nigiri, you will not go wrong with this. The sushi was fresh and buttery. Love buttery fish. Next time I want to aim for ONLY buttery fish. But I believe a good nigiri is a good nigiri. I don’t see how it changes much from restaurant to restaurant, and I suppose if you are using high quality ingredients, it shouldn’t. My husband loves ordering nigiri, but my only regret is that I didn’t order more of their specialty rolls and dishes. I saw them on other people’s tables and it all looked so yummy. Do you get what I’m trying to say? I feel like you can find nigiri at most places, but a restaurants unique dishes can only be found there. To really get a feel for that place, you gotta try all the stuff that makes them different. That would be my recommendation to you.

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I did, however, go with the american wagyu nigiri because THIS is something I’ve never had before. It was quite interesting, but also a lot like eating a fatty toro too. I would recommend trying it.

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For dessert we went with the Cotton Cheese Cake. The lightest and fluffiest “cheesecake” you’ll ever eat. It had more of a texture of a really fluffy cake as opposed to a creamy consistency, with a lemony flavor, and caramelized pineapple.

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If you are looking for one of the hot spots in San Diego, Cloak and Petal is definitely where you need to go. If you go, let me know what you think! And if you’ve been here, what are some of your favorite dishes here? Would you ever eat raw wagyu nigiri? Comment below!

EVENING WITH THE MAYOR

An Evening With The Mayor is an annual event hosted by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. Held at the iconic Greystone Mansion, it was definitely an evening of elegance that one often only gets to experience in a movie.

We were first picked up by Starline Tours, the official shuttle service of the evening. Then greeted by two luxury vehicles provided by O’Gara. Upon entry, you come across the first photo opportunity of the evening, on the staircase overlooking the entire terrace. However, it’s the soft melody from a harp that invites you in. The live music was provided by Kirschner Creative Artists’ Sasha Boldachev.

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Food and drinks were in full effect by the time we arrived. The food was provided by Crateful catering. Drinks were provided by Morandell Imports, Boisset, and Booze Box. The booze box I have to say was the most exciting find. It’s basically a mixed cocktail that comes in a juice box (yes, the kind from elementary school), which provides people a really convenient way to travel with alcohol. We all know glass is usually prohibited at the pool, and for good reason, but with booze box you can have your cocktail without worrying about anything breaking. Genius!!

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Crateful Catering Menu

Crateful Catering Menu

I don’t think anyone could disagree that the best dish of the night was the truffle risotto. Simply divine!

Crateful Catering Truffle station

Crateful Catering Truffle station

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Boisset

Boisset

We are now 6 months into Mayor Julian Gold M.D.s term, with 6 more to go. At the affair he touched on financials, stating that Beverly Hills is in a strong standing position. He also mentioned the recent ban on motorized scooters due to recent safety concerns. I found this to be interesting because I have personally used these motorized scooters and rental bikes on a recent trip to San Diego and found them to be really nifty. He went on to say that they will be looking into this further to see how they may be incorporated in a way that takes into consideration all the safety concerns that the city has.

Me with Mayor Julian Gold M.D.

Me with Mayor Julian Gold M.D.

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Luxury Vehicle Provided by O’Gara

Luxury Vehicle Provided by O’Gara

All in all, it was such a beautiful evening I feel honored to have been a part of it. A little tidbit I learned towards the end is that it said that the actual mansion on the property is haunted! Apparently, four months after Ned Doheny moved into the mansion, he was found dead in a murder-suicide, by his secretary. Supposedly you can take a tour of this haunted mansion, and you better believe I will be doing that tour, so keep a eye out for that! Tell me, are you brave enough to visit a haunted mansion?

Evening On The Beach 2018

I had the honor of attending the Evening On The Beach event held at Jonathan’s Club on September 13th. Shoes were optional, and for good reason. The event was literally on the sand. This was THE party of the summer, with top tier food, drinks, and music. It was an incredibly beautiful day, no jacket necessary, and I had a field day going around and trying all the delicious food. With beer, wine and rosè on tap, how could you go wrong?

This event was to raise money for the Saint Vincent’s Meals On Wheels. Restaurants volunteered their time and their food for this cause. Restaurants such as Majordomo, Bavel, and Cut showcased their finest creations. Saying that everything was really good is an understatement. The creativity was simply awe-inspiring.

Of the dishes, there were several that stood out, such as the fig and cheese plate from Bavel, or the fresh oysters from Prawn Coastal. However, my FAVORITE dish of not just the night, but really my whole life, was the rabbit and bone marrow sausage from Mikkeller DTLA. I could not find this item on their menu, but if it isn’t, then I truly feel bad for those of you who won’t be able to experience this. It was PHENOMENAL. Honestly and truly one of the best things I’ve had, almost as close to the love I have for In-N-Out. It was tasty and juicy, perfect amount of seasoning. I really hope they have/bring this to their regular menu because I would go there in a heartbeat to have it again. Alright, I think you get the point.

This event had 600 supporters, and raised over $250,000, resulting in over 32,000 meals! Not only was the fundraiser a major success with raising funds, but also an overall fun and unique experience. Check out my video for a brief look into the night, and leave a comment in the section below and let me know if you would eat a rabbit and bone marrow sausage.

xoxo,

Nellie Christine