Santa Monica Pier on a Smoggy Sunday

I have officially lived in Los Angeles for a year now and  today was sadly my first time going to the Santa Monica pier. Embarrassing, I know. Today was a particularly gloomy day in Santa Monica, but it was still fun. The short walk to the pier actually reminded me of Waikiki. Maybe walking with hordes of tourists to any beach area just reminds me of home.

[click here to see pictures of the Santa Monica Pier]

LA’s Festival of Books: Where I Will Go Broke

I can’t express to you how damn excited I am for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I’m excited enough to use the word damn–that should say something.  Back in Hawaii, I loved the yearly McKinley High School book sale. In fact, one year I arrived really early and camped out in line for over an hour. Every year I filled boxes and tote bags with books. I quickly ran out of space for my finds and soon became that person who just had books lying all over the place.

For LA’s Festival of Books, there are tons of workshops and readings going on all day. If I get a chance, I’m going to try and see if I can attend a few. The event also includes nearly 300 exhibitor booths representing booksellers, publishers, literacy and cultural organizations.

Below is some info about the event, but your best bet is to check out their official website here.


Dates & Location
The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held:
Saturday April 30, 2011 from 10am – 6pm
Sunday, May 1, 2011 from 10am – 5pm at:
University of Southern California
Click here for map.
To locate USC on Yahoo! Maps or similar mapping software, you may use the intersection of Exposition Blvd and S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90089.

Tickets & Admission
General attendance is free!
For information on attending, see our Attendee FAQ.

Parking at the USC campus will be $10.
Please go to the Getting There page for a detailed map.

Unique LA Returns May 7-8 at the California Market Center’s Penthouse

Support independent crafters and designers by checking out the 3rd annual Unique LA May 7 & 8 in at the California Market Center’s Penthouse in Los Angeles. According to their website, this is the largest independent design show in the country with over 300 hand-picked vendors.

You can buy tickets at the door or online here. There are only a limited number of pre-sale tickets available, so I recommend buying soon if you’re interested! Pre-sale tickets even comes with some great perks!

Admission Includes:

• Free drinks & a hosted bar (IZZE, Honest Tea, Bear Flag wine, Hendrick’s cocktails, and Numi Tea)
• Unlimited re-entry for both days
• Your very own collectible tote bag, exclusive to each show!
• Free DIY workshops and handmade Mother’s Day cards all weekend
• Plush lounge seating area hosted by H.D. Buttercup
• Access to giveaways and door prizes all weekend long
• Souvenir copy of the Vendor Directory + Mini Magazine

[Parking Information and Directions after the Jump]

[pictures] Disneyland in my Backyard…Sort Of

I’m beginning to realize there are quite a few perks to living in LA. For example, Disneyland is now within driving distance. I went there once as a kid, back when the Indiana Jones ride had just opened, and I didn’t go back until moving here. I don’t care what anyone says, that place is damn magical.


A few recommendations:

1) FAST PASS. If they offer it, get it so you don’t spend half the day waiting in line.

2) Don’t be ashamed–buy a Mickey Hat! I totally bought Mickey Mouse ears and wore them all day.


For Verizon only – Magic Mobile (Official Disneyland App)

Iphone – Walkee Wait Times [FREE] (gives you wait times for both Disneyland and California Adventure Park. If you’ve gotten a fast pass already, you can set a timer for yourself so you know when to return to the ride)

Walkee iGuide $3.99 (costs money, but this app packs a punch in terms of Disneyland features)

Diseyland Maps $1.99 (Great map that uses GPS, also shows you where bathrooms and ride wait times)

[click here to jump to my photos!]

Build Your Own Emergency Kit, Create Your Own Emergency Plan

As mentioned briefly in my previous entry here, it is absolutely essential to have a proper Emergency Kit and Emergency Plan. With help from trusty ol’ Red Cross, I will outline what I’ve included in my own Emergency Kit and also list suggestions on how to create you own Emergency Plan.

The  contents of your emergency kit will depend on two factors:

  1. The number of people in your household (pets included).
  2. Natural disasters that are common to your geographic location (i.e. Hawaii and being prepared for a hurricane and/or tsunami or California and being prepared for an earthquake and/or zombie apocalypse).

Of course there will be an overlap in the type of supplies you’ll need based on the “emergency situations” common to your area, so you can use this guide as a base of what to include and then add in items tailored to your need. Red Cross provided a very helpful guide [here], I’ve listed the starter items, plus items that I have added for my own Emergency Kit.

  • Water— one gallon per person, per day (3 ­day supply for evacuation, 2 ­week supply for home). Optional: a friend of mine recommended a LifeStraw Personal Filter. It removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction) and surpasses EPA standards for water filters, among some other  great stuff.
  • Food and Manual Can Opener — non­perishable, easy ­to­ prepare items (3 ­day supply for evacuation, 2­ week supply for home). That can opener
  • Extra Clothes – Having an extra, already packed away set of clothes can’t hurt!
  • Flashlight (I suggest at least 1 handheld flashlight, 1 lantern)
  • Battery­ powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) – I bought a radio/wind-up lantern, which takes care of the call for a lantern listed above.
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – I bought the Deluxe Family  First Aid Kit from the Red Cross here.
  • Fire Starter – I found this affordable Magnesium Fire Starter at Amazon.
  • Medications (7 ­day supply) and medical items (should be included in first aid kit, but add what you need that isn’t include)
  • Multi­purpose tool - I found an affordably priced Leatherman Kick Multi-Tool at Amazon.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items – I suggest buying a bunch of travel-sized items and putting ‘em in a gallon sized ziplock bag. Don’t forget to include an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, etc as well.
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) – I suggest putting important documents in a plastic folder, like this Document Holder from Amazon.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Family and emergency contact information – can be included w/ personal documents.
  • Extra cash - I recommend having small bills and coins (for the payphone).
  • Emergency blanket – The Deluxe Family First Aid Kit I mentioned above has 1 emergency blanket. I have a sleeping bag from when I moved here, so I have that as well.
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Pet supplies – collar, leash, ID, dry food, litter, portable litter box.  Of course if you have a dog, you items will be different. The Pet Travel store is a good place to purchase collapsible food/water bowls, portable litterbox, and other misc. travel items.

As mentioned, the items listed above are just the bare necessities you’d need for your Emergency Kit. I’ve seen some kits that also include supplies like duct tape, masks, work gloves, etc. So you can decide for yourself if that’s something you think you’d need.

In addition to have a proper Emergency Kit, you should also have an Emergency Plan. Here’s what the Red Cross recommends:


  • Meet with your family or household members.
  • Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.

Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency

  • Choose two places to meet:
  • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
  • Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate
  • Choose an out­-of­-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or programmed into their cell phones.

Plan what to do if you have to evacuate

  • Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.
  • Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet­-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.


UPDATED: January 2014.