An LA Birthday and Gift Guide

It was my birthday last week, and although we've made a habit of spending a weekend away together every year for the last three years, we found ourselves too exhausted from the two month wedding-honey-Thanksgiving sprint to organize anything so complex. Since it was a Tuesday and I'm fun-employed, I realized I could spend the day doing anything I wanted as long as it was things I could do alone, so I put together a loose plan for myself to make the most of some of my favorite of LA's low-key activities and took the day resolutely for myself.

We did manage to enjoy a pre-birthday dinner together on Saturday Night at Cafe Stella after Colton recommended it to us.  The ambiance is great and the food was the off the charts.

Cafe Stella

We had a glass of skin-contact wine (me), a Moscow mule (Andy), baguette with French butter, meatballs, ratatouille, mushroom pasta and mussels. Highly recommended!

Andy and I originally planned to get up and out for a dawn hike, but the morning temperatures were in the 50s and we just put some delicious new flannel sheets on our bed and so we lazed around too long for exercising (we love these sheets so much that we are now referring to the bed as "Cozy City" and have concocted an entire history and political system for Cozy City as if it were a real metropolis - I'm sorry for sharing this with you).  We had a breakfast date planned, having discovered that eating breakfast together once or twice a week sets both of us up for our best days, so we ditched the original idea of going to Sqirl (too cold for outdoor seating) and headed over to LAMILL Coffee.  

We shared a slice of pumpkin bread - perhaps the Platonic ideal of such a pastry which you should make a point to get over there and try.  He ate a huge breakfast sandwich on a brioche roll and I ate 2/3 of a mushroom farro bowl and a carafe of single origin coffee.  We spotted two pseudo-celebrities and then Andy headed off to work while I went over to the Silver Lake reservoir for a walk.  Other than the growing ash cloud on the horizon from the Thomas Fire, it was a nice start to the day.


the greatest pumpkin bread in Silver Lake

My main goal of the day was chilling at a Korean Spa, but I swung into Moon Juice in Silver Lake for my first time consuming one of their woo-woo "dust" lattes.  I got the sex dust in hot coffee with MCT Oil and walked out with a small tub of "spirit dust" - the saleswoman told me this was the best starter dust and I'd feel immediately addicted to my elevated mood.  (I've been trying this in my coffee since then and cannot yet attest to the magic properties).  Mysticism aside, the latte was delicious.

Moon Juice 

Sex Dust Latte with MCT Oil and some Spirit Dust to go - for creativity and feeling like a Silver Lake Shaman

Korean Spas in Los Angeles are their own minor subculture, and I haven't been to one in at least five years - I did notice a major uptick in the number of non-Korean guests since 2012, and I blame this mainly on GroupOn pushing coupon deals pretty hardcore.  I visited Natura Spa, one of the smaller and more barebones of the major spas in Koreatown, and ended up spending about four hours exfoliating and sweating and masking and moisturizing and left feeling like a new woman without having to even spring for the big gun treatments (though a scrub and massage can be had for a mere $80 as long as you've got no modesty about not being in a private room).


On the way home I popped into Pressed Juicery because I wasn't feeling enough like a SoCal cliche, and also because they were having a sale.  I green-juiced up all the way home whilst cancelling plans to check out Good Measure in Atwater Village and instead transferring the party to our backyard fire pit for s'mores night.  Although we felt a bit guilty enjoying a recreational fire while our neighbors to the North were experiencing the more lethal kind, we did have a good time and made extra sure to completely put it out before going to bed at the entirely reasonable hour of 10:30 PM, thus concluding the best low-key LA birthday one could have.

Shop Holiday Gift Sets at Malin + Goetz

Did I get presents, you might ask, even though I was turning 36 rather than 13?  Yes, I did, and I can even recommend some of them to you if you're struggling for Christmas gift ideas.

I got two pairs of Girlfriend Collective leggings, which are hands-down the best leggings on the market right now as far as I am concerned.  I got a pair last Thanksgiving when they were giving them out for free and it's to just the environmentally forwarding-thinking manufacturing model they have, but they also are the most comfortable pants I own.  I fly in them, I barre in them, I wear them around the house.  Now that I own three pairs instead of just one you'll probably never see me in anything else.

My Mom sent me this ice cream book to complement the ice cream maker we received as wedding present, which came just in the knick of time after I made two subpar homemade ice creams in a row.  I read it straight through to get a better handle on the science and then tested a blood orange recipe yesterday that won raves at dessert.  Pretty excited about this gift that is going to keep on giving. 

My sister donated via my Facebook fundraiser to World Central Kitchen, which came in the knick of time it turns out - while I originally intended this for the efforts in Puerto Rico, the focus has shifted temporarily to servicing the fire evacuees in Southern California.  

Andy put together an entire #shoplocal #shopsmall gift bag for me, including a super soft T-shirt from Kindness and Mischief, a mug from The Quiet Life, and some Coava coffee beans, which we tasted while kicking around downtown with my Dad over Thanksgiving and decided were some of the most delicious coffee any of us have ever consumed.  The real kicker was the six-week class pass he got more for pottery throwing at a studio in our neighborhood called Cobalt and Clay.  I'm already daydreaming about my future as a famous ceramics maker.  That's something that exists, right?

There was no cake but I did make myself these brownies, which are frankly maybe a little too on the healthy side, but I ate them all none-the-less.