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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Proud Bird

     Every time I'm driving near LAX, this restaurant called The Proud Bird has always intrigued me.  Not really knowing what it was, and being unimpressed by the exterior, I've always driven right by it.  The last time I was in the area, it was just too close to not pop in and see what this place was all about.  Some googling  informed me that it was a cafeteria style restaurant (similar to Clifton's Cafeteria).  

     The outside features hangar-like architecture and a slew of old planes in the front and back of the restaurant, but once you step inside, you are pleasantly surprised by how modern and well-themed it is.  The Proud Bird was renovated in 2016 apparently, and they did a fantastic job.  The outside still has some catching up to do, but the inside looked fantastic.  Upon entering, there is a kiosk that acts as an informational stand and mini gift shop.  

     Look at how cute these bomber jackets are!  If you have a child that loves aviation, this would be such a cute gift.

         These would be cute, too!

     Of course, you can't forget a gift for yourself LOL.

     Lots of memorabilia and travel-themed trinkets line the shelves.

     You can also get a dose of history.  There was even an employee that greeted us and who could answer any questions we had.  

     Now for the food.  Unfortunately, I wasn't hungry so I can't comment on the food.  It's pretty much classic American food, and most notably, they serve Bludso's BBQ which I've always wanted to try!  This definitely calls for an official lunch or dinner in the near future.

     The theme continues as you get to the seating area.  I love how the walls are adorned with pictures framed like airplane windows.  There's also a bar nearby if you're looking to just grab a drink.

     As you look out the bottom floor windows, you'll see a few planes.  I think the outside used to be better maintained, and hopefully one day the outside will get a renovation.

       My favorite part, of course, was the view of planes landing at LAX.  This is second only to the view from the In-N-Out on Sepulveda Blvd.

     This is a bit of history on the restaurant itself.  The Proud Bird has been around a long time!

     I loved seeing these old menus from airlines that no longer exist.  Flying, in general, was such a glamorous thing back then!

     More aviation history can be found if you take the stairs to the second floor.  You'll also find an event room.  The Proud Bird does weddings and small private events at reasonable prices.  An aviation/travel themed party would be so amazing!  You can find more info here.

     I highly recommend The Proud Bird if you're looking to do some plane spotting, or have time to kill before your flight takes off!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Wandering Through Venice Beach and Canals

     My first time going to Venice Beach was for a photography meet up.  If I recall correctly, it was a Worldwide Photo Walk Day event.  As the photo walk was coming to an end, some of us branched off and ate at this place called C&O Trattoria.  They served these mini garlic rolls that were delicious, and the best part?  Someone swiftly refills your plate of garlic rolls when your supply gets low!  I decided to head out that way to rekindle my romance with these garlic rolls, and needless to say, they did not disappoint!

     Here they are in all their glory! 😋

     This spinach salad wasn't bad either.  I knew I was mainly there for the garlic rolls, so I ordered this salad just to disguise the fact that I was just there for the garlic rolls. 😃

     Venice Beach is definitely not one of my favorite beaches in SoCal, but I do love all the murals on the buildings. 

     It was a horrible time for me to get the kind of photos I wanted of the Venice Canals, but it was cool to walk around this area again and see some of the amazing homes.  Oh, and this giant unicorn floaty?  I need that in my life. 

     This was a pretty cool mural.  I'm ashamed that I can probably only accurately identify about half the people in it LOL.

     One of the best things about beach communities is how dog friendly a lot of them are.  There is no shortage of little (and big) furries everywhere!

     I had the best iced coffee at this cafe.  It tasted very similar to Vietnamese iced coffee after I added some cream and sugar.

     Apparently this is a thing.  One of these days, I will have to rent a scooter.  The best part?  Once you're done with it, you can just leave it wherever you are.  Seems kinda strange to me, but someone must be making money with these, otherwise they wouldn't be all over the place!

     Wanderlust Creamery was on my list of places to check out near Venice Beach.  I think there are other locations, but this was so close to where we were, that it was hard to pass up.  

     I loved the concept of this ice cream shop.  Their menu is basically ice cream flavors inspired by ingredients that are known to a specific country or inspired by a dish from that country.  You can get full or half scoops, and you can get single or double scoops.  I got full scoops of the mango and sticky rice (inspired by Thailand) and the pretzel and rugbraud (inspired by Iceland).  The mango and sticky rice tasted very much like actual mango and sticky rice.  They nailed that one.  I was unsure of how I felt about the pretzel and rugbraud flavor.  While it was sweet (because duh, ice cream), the flavor was one of those tastes that I felt shouldn't be in ice cream form LOL.  For example, a cheeseburger is delicious, but there shouldn't be cheeseburger ice cream.  Am I right?!

     This is definitely worth trying if you're in the area.  I'm still interested in trying some of the other flavors!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lavender Festival in Cherry Valley 2018

     While looking for something fun to do this weekend, I came across a sponsored ad on Instagram for a lavender festival.  When I think of the word "festival", the thought of hoards of sweaty people and scorching sun always crosses my mind.  After seeing some cool pictures of people in lavender fields, I thought it was worth a shot to check it out.  This festival is organized by 123 Farm in Cherry Valley, CA.  It is an organic lavender farm that puts on this event once a year.  For those of you in SoCal that might be familiar, this farm is a short drive from the freeway, right before you get close to the Morongo Resort and Casino.  The Cabazon and Desert Hills Premium Outlets are also in the same vicinity if you really want to make a long day/weekend of it. 

     You can get tickets on Eventbrite, or pay at the entrance.  I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time if you want to avoid standing in line.  However, I did notice that there is an additional $2.50 fee if you buy online - still worth not having to wait in line, if you ask me! 😉

     Regular parking is either on the street or at a nearby high school with shuttles bringing people to the entrance.  Once you get to the entrance, you can be off to explore all things lavender.  Let me tell ya, there were a lot lavender-infused things at this festival!

     I'm always a sucker for some shopping, so the Organic Galleries was our first stop.  There are various shops selling gift items, lavender-infused items, and a little cafe and ice cream shop.

     I'm not gonna lie.  I normally can't stand the smell of lavender, except in essential oil form.  This lavender syrup changed my mind a little.  It was quite tasty, and I could see using it in iced tea or other edible things.  

     They have tons of things for people to taste.  It was like a lavender-themed trip to Costco! 😄

     The cafe had a little sitting area that was cute and peaceful.

     The lavender ice cream was the one thing I wanted to try, but didn't get a chance to.  I had picked myself up a lavender iced latte and just didn't have the room for it.  When we left, I overheard a lady raving about the elder flower ice cream.  I love elder flower, so now I'm curious about how it tastes!

     If you have kids, the Lavender Festival is very kid-friendly.  There are crafts, face painting, and even a puppet show for kids to enjoy.  

     Next stop - blueberry and lavender donuts!  These were pretty good.  They are old-fashioned cake donuts with a blueberry and lavender glaze.  I liked how it wasn't too sweet, but just sweet enough.  These also come in vanilla and lavender.

     We also made a stop to try the lavender cheese.

     I wanted to try this, but had reached my limit on how much lavender-infused food I could consume. 😋

     If you keep walking, you'll eventually run into the food court area.  They chose a really nice plot of land for this.  To the left is the food court, and to the right is a flower market.  There is plenty of  shade, and the tall trees lining the walkway almost make you feel like you're at a little resort in the woods.  I think Highland Springs Ranch & Inn is an actual operating inn.  They opened up the hotel rooms to the right of the food court so people could use the restrooms.  

     We found an empty table for lunch, and I decided to go with some wood fired pizza for lunch.

     The name of this food truck escapes me at the moment, but the bowls that people were walking by with looked very tasty.

     I went with the veggie pizza.  The pizzas are made using all organic and non-GMO ingredients.  It tasted like a healthy pizza.  You can interpret that however you'd like.  😉

      Not far from the food court are the lavender fields.  We were disappointed that the lavender hadn't bloomed yet.  I was expecting just a robust field of purple.  Instead, it was mostly green, with a few hints of purple.  However, you're in luck!  This year, they extended the festival for another weekend, and I remember someone telling us that they expect the bloom to happen by next weekend.

     We finished off our visit with some more tastings.  The building near the main entrance houses a lavender bar, an area used for demonstrations about bread, and tastings of fermented drinks and olive oil.

     Right before we left, I bought some wrapping paper and a pen from one of the shops.  I also snagged this flyer that highlights some upcoming festivals at Highland Springs Ranch.  I'm quite interested in the Sausage and Beer Festival and maybe the Sheep Shearing?  That sounds like an interesting photo op!

     I really enjoyed my time here.  We were able to get through everything (and eat) in about 3 hours.  Again, you're in luck, because this festival has been extended til next weekend!  It's a fun time with friends or with the family if you're looking for something to do next weekend.  Get your tickets here.

     Thanks for reading! 😊