Wednesday, August 21, 2019

the one where we get coffee at central perk

when the old lady and i picked up the bean from orientation on monday, we hopped onto the freeway and headed out west.  we'd been talking forever about going to laduree at the grove for afternoon tea, so i'd made a reservation for us to go on the very last day of summer vacation.

but first...i'd also heard that coffee bean & tea leaf was doing a couple of "friends"-themed pop-ups to celebrate the show's upcoming 25th anniversary.  they were temporarily redecorating two of their shops to recreate central perk for just one week, and of course both locations were way out on the west side - one in santa monica and the other in west hollywood.  the old lady and her special friend had been gone for the weekend so we didn't get to go then, but the west hollywood location was pretty close to the grove...how convenient, yes?  heh.

as we approached the store i was a little concerned about the stories i'd heard of long lines wrapping around the building just to get in, but we saw no such thing and even managed to snag a parking spot right in front.  sweeeeet.



not only was it not crowded, but we pretty much walked right in and placed our drink order with no wait.





none of the character-themed drinks really appealed to me, so i went with a boring old caramel latte.  i didn't care though, because i still got a fun drink sleeve and you know it's all about the photos anyway.


at the other end of the store there was a photo booth set-up, and there was just one party in front of us.  we stood there sipping our drinks and looking at the decor while we waited.





the old lady and i have perched on that familiar orange couch once before, at the WB studio tour we did a few years ago for her birthday.  the bean has watched a handful of episodes with me (and actually does like the show), so at least she was in the loop somewhat.



that was pretty much it, so we decided to head on out of there, leave that sweet parking spot to some other lucky duck, and head to the grove to do some window shopping before tea time.


keeping the traffic on the way home in mind, when we got to the grove we looked in a few shops and then decided to go ahead and see if we could be seated early at laduree.  luckily, being a weekday it wasn't super crowded and we had no problems getting a table right away.




for some reason, the bean wasn't feeling tea and ordered a lobster roll instead.


the old lady and i definitely opted for the tea service.  and of course, we shared our sweets with the bean.


i'd been a little nervous about tea here because a good number of yelp reviews dumped on it, but we were satisfied with it.  sure, they could have offered a couple of different tea sandwich varieties instead of just one, but the roasted chicken with egg salad that we were served was tasty, the pastries were just the right amount of sweet and the famous laduree macarons were as delicious as always. 

we had one last stop before heading home, and this one was a surprise just for the bean.  the hub had challenged her to finish the (rather large) book she'd been plodding through before school started, and unbeknownst to me had also promised her a prize if she met that challenge.  when you dangle something she really wants in front of her, she pulls out all the stops to complete a task.  and what she asked for was only available in one place - the line friends store just across the street from hollywood & highland.  and it just occurred to me that i haven't recapped that visit yet, so that'll come next.  anyway, she was super stoked to realize that she was going to get to take this home:


she hugged it all the way home, falling asleep as we drove on the not-yet-busy freeway.  and the old lady and i were amused as we passed this:


later, the hub came through with one last promise - korean bbq for dinner.  this one benefited all of us as we happily plowed our way through lots of meat and salads and sides and things.


we capped it off with fun boba drinks at happy lemon.


not a bad way to bid a fond farewell to summer vacation 2019, right?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

look out world, the bean is in junior high

i have lots of other stuff to recap, but first...

this was yesterday after the bean finished up junior high orientation.  it was for students only, no parents allowed, and they got to meet their teachers and go through the motions of changing classes, plus taking care of locker setup.  i didn't get to take any other pictures, but i did manage to get this one, with one of her oldest and dearest friends:


i was lowkey excited when she reminded me yesterday to update the ol' chalkboard that we've been using on the first and last days of school.  because, after all, she's in junior high now and i had no idea whether or not she was still going to let me continue that tradition.  and so after she got herself and teddy tucked into bed for the night, i pulled it out and found the chalk and got to work.


this morning, i went to barre and got back to find her already fully dressed and playing with the dogs.  i knew she was a little nervous for the first day, but she seemed to be calm and ready to take it on.  i think orientation did its job to help get some of those jitters out, and she was totally happy to pick up the chalkboard and pose for my annual photo.


when she asked me if it was okay if she asked her daddy to take her to school, i think she thought i was going to be bummed about it.  she'd had him take her to orientation, and i admit i got my nose a little out of joint for that one, but can i tell you?  i HATE driving to school on the first day of the year.  the parking lot is always a mess, it's insanely crowded with every new kindergartener's entire family present to watch their precious walk into school on their first day (of course, i was one of those twice upon a time so whatever), and i knew the bean wasn't going to want to take any pictures anyway.  so i was actually really relieved to be let off of that hook.  not to mention, i had plans for the annual first day of school breakfast with some of my favorite mom friends and i really needed to get cleaned up after barre.  heh.

we had a great time as we always do, and even remembered to snag a group shot before parting ways for the day.


i can't believe the bean is in junior high.  and i can't believe the school year has begun.  we had a fantastic summer, and even got an extra week compared to other years, but man...the time went by SO fast.  and now we're just a couple weeks away from birthday princess month, and you know what that means...it'll be my birthday, then the bean's, then halloween, then thanksgiving, then christmas and OMG the year is already over.  holy crap.

Monday, August 19, 2019

night market eating, 2019 edition

you know how we love to hit up the 626 night market, and we'd missed the opening weekend for 2019 because - oh, well, we were in hawaii.  cue the tiny violin, i know.  and it just so happened that the next date fell on the night we were heading to santa anita mall for the BTS movie.  we decided to hit it up right after it opened and have an early dinner before the movie, and while it was great because it was pretty empty at that time, it was blazing hot and i was sweaty in no time.  bah.



the bean made a beeline for this place.  like her mother, she sees "ribeye" and she's SOLD.


i'm a sucker for these pullapart waffles.  there's a little piece of mochi stuffed in each of those waffle bubbles, and it's just the right amount of sweet and chewy and delicious.  i'm pretty sure i get one every time we come.


the old lady's most favorite food in the whole wide world is pasta.  and cheese.  and so when she spied this booth, she was all in:


they take fresh, hot pasta, sauce it up and roll it around in this giant cheese wheel to soak up some cheesy melty goodness:


in this case, it was a gooey, rich cream sauce that was then topped with slices of prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes.


the bean stopped here for some boba milk tea to quench her thirst:


and then went big and ordered a korean cheese pull - a big ol' hunk of mozzarella cheese on a stick, dipped in batter, deep fried and then sprinkled with sugar.  she was quite the happy camper.


we ended up going one more time two nights later, this time with no time constraints and nothing to rush to.  the old lady was happy to be able to try some tacos topped with flaming hot cheeto dust:


while the bean was drawn yet again to a booth offering grilled chunks of ribeye steak, this time cooked on a himalayan salt block.  we've had this before and it's pricey, but so delicious.


i think we had some other stuff too, but it was so dark i couldn't get any decent shots.  the bean and i were extra happy to return because we'd wanted to try a booth that did taiyaki (fish-shaped waffles) using croissant dough with several different types of fillings.  i opted for custard, while she very predictably ordered the nutella.


we didn't actually eat here, but the 12-year-old child in me giggles every. single. time.  because come on...FRIED BUTT.


i think there's at least one more night market weekend, but we've come to the realization that we're kind of over it at this point.  it's always the same vendors every time, and we either have to go early which avoids crowds but is insanely hot, or head over when the sun goes down but end up dodging huge crowds and standing in long lines.  plus, most things are pretty pricey for what you get.  i'm not sure it's worth it anymore.

of course, by the time that last weekend rolls around i'll probably be thinking about that mochi waffle again and we'll totally end up going.  just watch.
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