Archive for the ‘Activities’Category

Sweat your butt off with WundaBar Pilates

WundaBar PilatesI consider myself pretty adept at the art of pilates. I’m by no means an expert, and I know I still have a long way to go, but I take classes two to three times a week. So when WundaBar Pilates approached me to try one of its classes, I thought I would perform pretty well.

WundaBar Pilates uses the WundaFormer, a patented version of the classic reformer machine that incorporates all major pilates apparatus in one machine. The reformer, chair, jump board and ballet barre are all in one machine, saving space and making workouts more varied and efficient.

For 45 minutes I sweated my butt off while planking, crunching, bridging, lunging, jumping (on the board) and more. Classes are focused and fast-paced. My instructor, Bridgette, was tough but also allowed us to modify the moves if we were struggling (and I was definitely struggling). I actually overheated, so make sure to hydrate and bring a towel!

Wundaformer Wundabar Pilates


The first class is free, but after that it’s $30 per class. Luckily there’s a Gilt City deal for WundaBar Pilates in California (there’s also a New York City location) being offered right now.

Note: This class was hosted. Photos courtesy of WundaBar Pilates.


02 2016

ArcLight Culver City adds entertainment value to downtown

ArcLight Culver City

ArcLight Culver City

Out with the old, and in with the new. ArcLight Culver City has arrived.

The Pacific Theatres in downtown Culver City is now an ArcLight Cinemas movie theater, which means your night out just got a little more interesting. Complete with a full-service bar serving movie-themed cocktails and craft beer, alongside real food from a real kitchen, ArcLight Culver City is now a one-stop experience for food, drink and entertainment.

Johnny's Drama, an "Entourage"-themed cocktail

Johnny’s Drama, an “Entourage”-themed cocktail

Everything has been upgraded here, from the snack bar to the theaters themselves, which now feature ArcLight’s “black box” viewing experience for minimal distractions. As with other ArcLight theaters, seating is reserved, and you can bring your bar drink with you to screenings. Unfortunately, ArcLight Culver City doesn’t have the room for a seated dining area like ArcLight Hollywood does, but you can comfortably eat at the bar from a menu that offers tasty bar bites. The chicken wings with sweet Thai chili sauce, popcorn chicken, and tomato bruschetta with burrata are among my favorite dishes here.

Chicken wings

Chicken wings



With the opening of ArcLight Culver City, there are now two such theaters on the westside, including ArcLight Beach Cities in El Segundo, and a Santa Monica location is in the works.

Note: A menu tasting and movie viewing were hosted by ArcLight.


07 2015

Experience an ode to the 80s with Dear John Hughes

Dear John Hughes by For the Record

Dear John Hughes by For the Record

If you’re a fan of the movies The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink (and if you’re not, we can’t be friends), then you’ll want to check out the musical theater show Dear John Hughes presented by For the Record.

For the Record shows string together music from one auteur’s films to create a cohesive live musical stage show. Dear John Hughes weaves songs together from The Breakfast Club (celebrating its 30th anniversary this year), Sixteen CandlesPretty in Pink, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Some Kind of Wonderful to create a new story while still holding true to the originals. You’ll hear Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” David Bowie’s “Changes,” Suzanne Vega’s “Left of Center” and many more while enjoying cocktail and food specials inspired by the 80s (read: sweet drinks and Jiffy Pop). It’s basically one big party.

Evan Rachel Wood in Dear John Hughes

Evan Rachel Wood in Dear John Hughes

Joining the For the Record cast this time around for Dear John Hughes is actress Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Pretty Persuasion, The Wrestler), who shines as Basket Case, i.e., Breakfast Club Allison, Ferris Bueller Jeanie and Some Kind of Wonderful Watts. Wood is passionate in her role and has a great set of lungs to boot. When Wood isn’t performing, Rumer Willis plays Basket Case. If her performance in For the Record’s Baz Luhrmann is any indication, she’ll also be great in Dear John Hughes. And don’t overlook Alex Wyse’s portrayal of Brain, i.e., Anthony Michael Hall characters as well as Ferris Bueller. He’s amazing.

Dear John Hughes shows every Friday through Sunday through April 5 at DBA in West Hollywood. Baz Luhrmann shows on Thursdays through the end of March. Buy tickets.

Note: Admission to both Dear John Hughes and Baz Luhrmann were complimentary.


02 2015

Learning is fun with an Eatz cooking class

Eatz cooking class

Eatz cooking class

Looking for a fun and informative way to learn some cooking basics? Then an Eatz cooking class might be just what you need.

Located near the intersection of La Brea and Melrose avenues in a cute kitchen space, Eatz offers a variety of classes, from the casual to the technical. Go for a one-off class to learn how to make Greek food or your steakhouse favorites, or go for a series of classes to learn elevated culinary school skills.

I recently tried a Weeknights Made Easy with Chef Porsche Reid, who has a warm, inviting personality and put everyone at ease quickly. Throughout the process of making our five dishes, she explained the reasoning behind the steps and offered up tips to make cooking easier.

Cooking at Eatz

Cooking at Eatz

Our menu for the three-hour class:

  • Pan-seared skirt steak with herbed rice and jalapeno & avocado dressing
  • Cinnamon spice rubbed pork tenderloin with caramelized apples and onions
  • Chicken skewers with grilled romaine salad and a pistachio-mint pesto
  • Italian sausage and artichoke-stuffed portobello mushrooms
  • Handcrafted donuts with powdered sugar, lemon glaze chocolate glaze toppings
Spice-rubbed pork loin

Spice-rubbed pork tenderloin

I wasn’t sure how to gauge my skill level, so I went in thinking I was somewhere in the middle: a 5 out of 10. But I soon realized that my skills (most of which I’ve learned from watching Food Network shows and practicing on my own) were more on par with a 7 or 8. This Eatz cooking class suits beginners well, as all of the recipes, which are emailed to you after the class, are relatively easy to make. Bonus: You get appetizers and wine as soon as you arrive, and you make so much food that you’ll take home lots of leftovers.

Frying up donuts

Frying up doughnuts

My husband Rory with our donuts

My husband Rory with our doughnuts

Note: This class was hosted.


09 2014

Travelogue: taking in the arts in Scottsdale, Arizona

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

When I think of Scottsdale, Arizona, spas, golf and swimming pools come to mind. But now, after having spent some time there, I know that art — in all forms — is just as integral to the city’s identity.

I had the opportunity to visit two of Scottsdale’s cultural centers: the Musical Instrument Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. I would go back to either in a heartbeat. Each was a unique experience that left me wanting more.

The Musical Instrument Museum, which is actually in neighboring Phoenix, houses more than 6,000 instruments from 200 countries and territories. This collection makes for hours of fun education for anyone interested in music and world culture. The upper level is categorized by region of the world, and the lower level features special collections, including an exhibit of self-playing instruments and an experiential gallery. There’s even a concert hall with live performances. Allow at least half a day here. Our two hours were not enough!

Guitar exhibit

Guitar exhibit

Chinese instruments

Chinese instruments

This fall, on Oct. 18 and 19, the museum will host an outdoor, two-day music festival celebrating musical traditions from all over the world, with musical performances, dancers, street performers and food trucks.

We also toured Taliesin West (pictured above), architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s West Coast home, studio and instructional campus. We took the 90-minute tour of the grounds and house that includes a lot of historical information from informed docents who clearly enjoy what they do.

I’ve also heard that the Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see as well. This fall and winter, from Sept. 28 through Jan. 11, 2015, the museum will house the Donald Rumsfeld-inspired “Covert Operations: Investigating the Unknowns,” an exhibit from 13 international artists based on the idea of expansion of federal power and infringement of constitutional rights in the wake of 9/11. Given Arizona’s Republican leanings, this should be an interesting show.

So next time you’re thinking about taking a trip, especially one within driving distance of Los Angeles (6 hours by car), then consider Scottsdale. You can relax at the spa, play the links and take in some culture.

Note: These visits were hosted.


07 2014

Set yourself free at Unplug Meditation

Unplug Meditation

Unplug Meditation

Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes, you just need to slow down. Easier said that done, though, right?

That’s where Unplug Meditation comes in.

Unplug, located on the eastern edge of Santa Monica in West Los Angeles, is a studio dedicated to the art of meditation with 30- and 45-minute drop-in classes that focus on everything from simple mindfulness to stress reduction while driving in traffic. Many of the studio’s guides have advanced degrees and are trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques. Unplug Meditation’s founder, Suze Yalof Schwartz, is a former fashion editor who opened the studio as part of her own spiritual journey.

I recently took one of these classes. I was curious to see how the guiding process would go, considering my idea of stress reduction has been yelling, “Serenity, now!” Rest assured, there is no yelling at Unplug Meditation. My guide was Natalie Bell, who calmly and gently guided my small group to be present in the moment. She didn’t tell us that we had to put all thoughts out of our minds, but that we should allow our thoughts to come and go as they please. We sat on the floor on comfy pads that could be flattened or folded up like chairs in a darkened room with soft, soothing music. Interestingly, my classes consisted of three men and me. For whatever reason, I thought there would be more women, but maybe it was just my particular class that day.

I left Unplug Meditation feeling relaxed — maybe too relaxed. It took me a while to kind of snap out of it. Luckily, there are 15 minutes between classes, so you can take your time leaving. And the first class is free, with no obligation to sign up for more. No stress here. (Pro-tip: LivingSocial is currently offering a deal on classes, for when you decide it’s for you.)

Note: This class was complimentary, as are all first classes.


07 2014

Test drive a car, get $20 to spend at The Grove

The Grove. From Worship Worthy.

This Saturday, March 13, MOD: Matters on Design, a program that emphasizes style and technology, will be hosting a car and fashion event at The Grove. There will be a test drive event from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the new Kia Sorento CUV — the crossover utility vehicle that’s featured in that Hangover-esque commercial with life-size stuffed toys. The best part is you’ll get a $20 gift card to The Grove for doing the test drive, which shouldn’t be very extensive considering it’s confined to the valet roundabout. Then, if you’re so inclined, there will be a bebe fashion show at 7:00 p.m. featuring the Kardashians capsule collection and Spring 2010 looks.


03 2010

All Cake, No File with The Actors’ Gang

Marni (left), Jewell Rae Jeffers (center), me (right).

Marni (left), Jewell Rae Jeffers (center), me (right).

Last Friday, Marni of Happy Go Marni, my boyfriend, Rory, and I went see a comedy/live cooking/Johnny Cash tribute show at The Actors’ Gang theater in the Ivy Substation in Culver City. Now, you may be wondering, what the heck is a comedy/live cooking/Johnny Cash tribute show? Well, until we saw the show ourselves, we didn’t really know, either!

Marni saw the show listed on Goldstar, and she wrote me an email: “Please say yes. I want to go to this event. I think we should go together. What do you think???? It’s crazy and bizarre sounding and that’s why I’m so drawn to it! What the heck is it!” Well, how could I say no to that?

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11 2009

UPDATED: Hollywood for less? Yes, please!

Spa Luce

Spa Luce

Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Goldstar to come up with a locals-only stimulus plan dubbed “Locals Only Hollywood Offer,” or LOHO, which is catchier anyway. The LOHO promotions range from 15 percent off at the Pig ‘n Whistle to 50 percent off spa treatments at Spa Luce in the Renaissance Hotel. And just in time for Halloween, Dearly Departed Tours are 50 percent off, too. There’s even a 25 percent off deal for all Farmers Market merchandise (yeah, it’s not really in Hollywood, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, OK?). These offers are good through Oct. 31, so get on it!

[UPDATE: To book activities/events, click on the Goldstar link above, then on the “Hollywood: LOHO” link in the left-hand navigation bar to see what’s still available.]

[UPDATE #2: According to a Hollywood Chamber of Commerce representative, to redeem discounts at restaurants, spas or anything else not listed on Goldstar, you’ll have to inquire with the individual retailer and show proof of residency within the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino and/or Riverside.]


10 2009

Pilates kicks (my) ass

Gia Marakas doing the Pilates hundred

Gia Marakas doing the Pilates hundred on the reformer

I love Pilates, especially the kind that uses machines. So when I was offered a personal session with Gia Marakas, a private Pilates instructor based in Larchmont Village, I jumped at the chance.

I used to take lessons at Pilates Plus in downtown Los Angeles, and I loved using their proformer machines for added resistance to many classic Pilates moves. I did it three times a week and was getting in pretty good shape. Then I got a new job and never signed up for classes closer to my new office. A year goes by. And then I get this offer from Gia. Perfect!

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07 2009