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Looking Back: My Favorite 10 Blog Posts of 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 3.21.13 PM
As the year comes to an end, it’s nice to look back. It has been a cray-cray year for me and I haven’t had the chance to sit back and reflect as much as I would like. Honestly, I have been kind of beating myself up that I haven’t made more time to blog this year. But looking back through all my posts I realize that I have written a lot (between all my blogs). I picked these 10 blog posts, not because they got the most likes or view, but because I liked them and thought they might be the most helpful to you.

For me, 2015 was a transitional year. I lost some friends and two grandparents. There were a number of family and friends that were very sick or dealing with difficult situations. I’m grateful that things are settling down. 2015 felt like the end of one era and 2016 will be the beginning of another. I’m really ready for this new year. Let’s make it great.







Way Way up in the Ancient Bristlecone National Forest

Exploring the Moorten Botanical Gardens, Palm Springs

Hungry for Plants at Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco


Highland Park (Figueroa St. corridor), Los Angeles 90042

Angelino Heights, Echo Park, 90026

Boyle Heights Neighborhood, Los Angeles 90033, 90063, 90023

Elysian Valley (AKA Frogtown), Los Angeles Neighborhood 90039


12 Awesome Outdoor Couches – 2015

Turf Free Backyard, Pasadena

8 Easy Ways to Improve your Curb Appeal

December 31, 2015
See more: design, diary, in California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Real Estate, on the road

Week in Photos: The White Palms of Sunset Blvd | Projection LA

“I'm trying to produce something that is (1)

Jonathan and I had fun exploring the motel installation on Sunset Blvd. yesterday. It’s a temporary art piece by french artist Vincent Lamouroux, supported by Please Do Not Enter.  He whitewashed the old abandoned, derelict Sunset Pacific Motel and the landscape/palms with a lime wash. It’s pretty striking on its own, but there will also be some sort of projection on it April 26th.


It was like a shimmering ghost of Los Angeles past. A cathedral to the Boulevard of Lost Dreams. An architectural model before it was ever built. A party inside a memory.

I was most struck by the white palms. They were disturbing and iconic. And were both great looking and fake. And made me think of fake palms they use in malls and in projects in the Middle East and China. But they are real. And probably full of rats. And we love them.P1040178

The white was gleaming and I wish I had my sunglasses. P1040159

All the shadow play on the building, the textures of the palms, fence, barbed wired reminded me of a textile or tapestry. Stitching. We were there just before sunset and the light was bright and shifting rapidly.


The folded leaves of the fan palm. It must have been difficult to paint them with the lime.


The artist took the shittiest building on that stretch of Sunset Blvd and make it something for Angelinos to be proud of. A peek through the fence at the inner court yard. I think this is where the projection will be on Sunday. I was disappointed that the LA trash bin was not painted white. That would have been a great detail.


Everyone was craning their necks to take in the signs and palms. Strangers on the sidewalk were talking to one another and discussing art, theory, city planning, Los Angeles. It was kind of amazing.  But I couldn’t help but think about the other people who once stayed here. People who picked up Route 66 in Illinois or Oklahoma and who followed their dreams and Route 66 as it turned into Sunset Blvd. and who took a right and pulled into this parking lot looking for a room. Welcome to Los Angeles.

P1040182There is also this stage like quality about the place. You feel like you are on a set. Everyone is striking a pose. Instagramming. The dress I’m wearing is by Osklen, a Brazilian brand that does edgy resort wear.

P1040172And fittingly, I guess, the motel is going to be torn down soon to make room for condos soon. It was the developer who made the property available to the artist. LA is getting denser. It needs to get denser. And it is critical that we remember the ghosts of the past, as we decide what to keep and what to let go.


April 20, 2015
See more: art, buildings & places, design, in California, landscape & garden, Los Angeles, week in pictures

BREAKurban Case Study: Front Yard Patio in Echo Park


BREAKurban just finished the design of a patio garden in Echo Park. The client wanted a space to relax and entertain that was low maintenance. The property in a on a corner and the whole front yard is fenced in. There is no back yard, so the front yard needs to do double duty.


The paving is poured in place concrete with Del Rio gravel (paw and foot friendly) in the gaps.


A large aloe tree makes a statement at the corner of the bed. Protea, agaves, aloes, senecio, eurphorbia, aeonium. etc. fill the beds.

The plants are small now but will fill in to make a dense textured planting.


Purple lantana will fill in as a ground cover under the tree. Party lights will allow the space to be used at night.


The plan is to have more furniture on the patio. There is room for a big section couch and an outdoor coffee table.


And existing Papaya tree on drip irrigation.


The recycled brick path leads to the outdoor kitchen area and a place where there will eventually be an outdoor dining table.P1030627

Podocarpus hedges screen the driveway and the neighbors yards at both ends of the yard.

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Sweet dreams!


February 23, 2015
See more: BREAKurban, buildings & places, design, entertaining & parties, in California, landscape & garden, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Streetcar Neighborhood: Boyle Heights


Each month in 2015, I’m going to explore a different Los Angeles streetcar neighborhood. All aboard, our first stop is Boyle Heights!


The boundaries of Boyle Heights as drawn by the LA Times.



4th street across from Mariachi Plaza

Places to Eat & Drink
Guisados  Amazing tacos (this was their first location, they now also in Echo Park and DTLA)
Un Solo Sol Kitchen  This is a hidden gem on Mariachi Plaza – delish latin american vegetarian food
Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe  Amazing burritos – get the Hollenbeck burrito!
Otomisan Restaurant  Well loved Japanese mom & pop restaurant
Thai Deli  Japanese – Thai – Korean mashup
Indie Brewing Co. & Taproom  Coming soon (mid 2015)
Eastside Luv Wine Bar & Queso  Super fun wine bar with good decor, live music and burlesque


Getting There
The Gold Line stop in Mariachi Plaza lets you easily get to the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Union Station, China Town, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Pasadena, etc. You can also change trains at Union Station to connect with other Metro lines to get all over the city and you can transfer to Amtrak to go cross-country.
In 2029 high-speed rail is slated to open connecting Los Angeles (Union Station) with northern stops including San Francisco. 2029 sounds far away but it’s actually only 14 years from now.




Mariachi Plaza, located in the heart of Boyle Heights, is a plaza where large groups of musicians have gathered daily, both day and night, since the 1930’s, hoping to be hired.


Hollenbeck Park, built in the 1880’s, is a larger sibling to Echo Park Lake. It’s only 1 mile east of SCI-Arc and the Arts District in DTLA. It hosts a new playground, a bandstand and a lot of space to sprawl out.




Evergreen Cemeteryopened in 1877,  is the oldest and one of the largest cemeteries in the city. Many of the pioneers and founders of Los Angeles are buried at Evergreen Cemetery. Cool mortuary architecture, sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains, and of the DTLA sky line make this a great place to visit and picnic.




The Los Angeles River
In 2014, Army Corp of Engineers recommended the larger 1 Billion dollar proposal to revitalize the Los Angeles River. While some of that funding is still being sought it is clear that there is a lot of change coming to the LA River corridor. Plans include parks, bike paths, habitat, access to the water, and a lot of economic revitalization. A number of projects are slated for the section of the river located between DTLA and Elysian Valley.

Below is a collage from the Greenway 2020 proposal to make the LA River more accessible.


The Piggyback Yard – There is a proposal to turn the huge Piggyback Yards (railroad yard), along the LA River into a massive riverfront green space. It is not a done deal yet, but it could be a huge addition to the city and amazing for Boyle Heights. Stay tuned!

Next month: Historic Filipinotown 

What else should we add about Boyle Heights?
Email me. Thanks!

February 5, 2015
See more: Los Angeles, Los Angeles Real Estate, real estate

Week in Photos: Walking in LA

This is an Instagram most photographed site — #ladyofthelake

When I got back to Los Angeles 10 days ago, I was feeling pretty out of shape. This was confirmed when I went to mat pilates and it just about killed me. So I decided to start walking A LOT.  Initially, the plan was to walk around Echo Park Lake every day for a week. But that turned out to be pretty easy. I even did it twice some days. I started listening to the Hunger Games on my phone which helped motivate me and make the walks go by quickly. I even walked to the Farmer’s Market last week instead of driving which was a first for me. Things are going so well, I decided to up the ante. I’m going to walk around the park every day for 30+ days. You can follow the highlights of my park wanderings and make sure I keep on task on Instagram.

The paddle boats are back! I love that I live in the middle of a city but I am only a 5 minute walk away from paddle boats and canoes.

It would be really nice if our manhole covers were made in California.

The lotuses are so colorful. — I’m kind of worried about them. They put netting over them to protect them this season but they are overgrowing it and the flowers are smashing up into the netting.

I am pretty Echo Park Lake obsessed right now. It just reopened after a major renovation and I’m still really excited about it. So be warned there will will probably be a lot of EPL posts for the next few weeks till I get it out of my system. I’ll try to make it interesting.

Get up and go for a walk every day this week — it will make you feel alive!

July 13, 2013 0
See more: landscape & garden, Los Angeles, week in pictures