Sunday, February 24, 2013

FREE : C h o c o l a t e

Do you like Chocolate? Have you ever walked passed a Godiva shop and wished for it all.

Well did you know you can have it all... for free? Just very slowly.

I am not a huge Chocolate person - I find it often to be too rich in flavor- but mixed with other flavors, especially nuts, I am quite a fan. And mostly- in tiny little packages, like a truffle!

When you peer into Godiva, the glass case is filled with Truffles. Countless flavors, that change seasonally. I use to go past with the girls I nanny, and If I found myself having a rough day, or if they were, I would splurge and get a chocolate covered strawberry. One afternoon, about 2 years ago, a nice lady told us about the chocolate club.

and now I, am telling you.

For free, just signing up and getting a card ( which the kids love to hold on to!) you can join the relatively secret chocolate club at godiva. you can come in at any point, once a month, and pick out any truffle you want, and never ever have to spend a penny.

It is a genius business plan, each kid is a member, and they will each get a truffle, and I end up buying myself a strawberry. Once a month. One strawberry.

They have tried every flavor there is.... slowly, over 2 years. Vanessa looks so young in some of these photos. It's sort of our special time with the two of us. And we never forget a month.

Their favorites so far are Chocolate Lava, Cookie Dough, and Red velvet.

If you are a guy reading this - Consider swinging by once a month get your lady a chocolate. She doesn't even have to know it's free...


 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MUSIC: mamc vol.1


I still love listening to this song. because of its comlpex nature, we rarely perform it live and I often
forget about it. When I check back in, I am so proud of this piece. I played the entire guitar part with basically one finger moving frets as an expieriment in writing.

It was produced by Justin Huey at the Bear Cave Studios in Charlotte NC, mastered at Binary Audio by Alex Johns.

Back up vocals by Justin Huey ( Steel Train, Seahorses, The Glory Revival)
and Emily Moore ( FUN. , seahorses)





Monday, January 21, 2013

D.I.Y : American Girl Doll Dresses

By night I'm an indie singer - rocking out stages around Hollywood.

By weekend, I am a jet-setting adventuring looking for my next exciting journey.

By day, I am a nanny. Toting textbooks, cupcakes, and board games. and making my girls giggle.

I have been working for the same family since the day I moved to Los Angeles in 2010. I spend 5 days a week with two perfectly behaved, incredibly intelligent, and occasionally sassy twin girls, now 10 years old.

As a child, myself, and my two sisters ( Jessica and Mariah) had American Girl Dolls. I had Samantha, and we also had Kirsten and Felicity. I never really played with them, or dolls in general. I began to accessorize with them around age 10. I have been a nanny for almost a decade, and in my expierience, young girls tend to treat their dolls like they are alive. Put them to bed, give them names, "feed" them, talk to them, teach them. As they get around 3-5th grade, they move on to collecting, accesorizing, etc.

That's where I started to really enjoy it. American girl dolls are incredibly expensive, but can be worth the investment. What makes it tough is the catalogues with all of the clothes and toys the children want for themselves and their dolls, and the extreme price tags attatched to them. We decided to started making out own. Sleeping bags, dresses, etc. No instructions, and at first- no sewing machine.


At this point, we were still sewing by hand. The doll in this photo above is Kit. Kit was in need of a holiday dress! We used a little Lace trim from Joann's and left over Green velvet from their mothers brides maids dresses from the 80's.... 

Our Second attempt on Felicity was simple, we made a front, a back, sleeves, and stitched it up on the site. False buttons and a ribbon at the waist for a more fitted look. They were farm from perfect... but the kids were so proud. Josephina looked like the new Hawaii doll so all was right in their world. It was easy to draw lines for the girls to cut in the fabric, and teach them to sew buttons. They were amazed at all of the little skills and tricks they were learning. 

 And in the end, Kit's christmas dress turned out pretty great. It was super frayed around the edges, and made completely by hand. 

 After this summer of sewing, I was stuck on what to get the girls for chritmas. The american girl doll dresses from the catalog were out of my price range- but then again, so was buying fabric and trim for all new dolls. 

One afternoon- We were sorting through their clothes to take out what didn't fit. I decided to take the items they were most attached to- but truly couldn't wear anymore- and make doll clothes for them. 

I brought in the help of my friend Carol Duffy from http://frankieandsue.com/ for a little help since I didn't yet have a sewing machine- we flew through a few! 



The dress as it was fitted for the kids. 
After, fitted for the doll! 


But the best part was their faces on Christmas Morning. 

 As it turns out, all of the old dolls, even those that have been since retired by the company post the patterns on line - I printed a few out for the dolls I knew they liked and threw them in the box. We will save it for a rainy day I suppose. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Travel: Palm Springs, CA


Sarah is one of my many beautiful friends who is both adventurous and has an incredible sense of humor ( edit: willingness to look silly in public) She was with me when I began my pursuit of day-trips in September of 2011... See much of the evidence below. ( This will be brought up again in a future post) 


On January 1st, I woke up in Brooklyn after my first New Years Eve in NYC ( No big deal, i didn't watch the ball drop - I did however join in a bluegrass Hootenanny... SP?) and immediatly thought of Sarah. I missed her. I texted her- let's go on an adventure, I have never been to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, and just like that she said Let's book it. For this week. God She's the best. We are now planning one trip a month - just to keep the flame burning you know?



So I did, and we did. We picked a theme for the trip " Beverly Hills Hippies ". Which was exactly what it sounded like. Feather earrings from Forever 21 and diamond necklaces. Hair spray and cowboy boots. We lived it up. We fully believe that theming your trips, makes it funnier. 


You know you've made it to Palm Springs when you see the wind mills. 


First of all, the Ace hotel is a pinterest dream world. It is honestly so Hip - its alarming. Honestly, GO. DROP EVERYTHING AND GO. It isn't even crazy expensive. And they don't have mini bottles of booze in the rooms. THEY HAVE GIANT BOTTLES. so there is that... below is a photo of our room. It looks like it was designed by urban outfitters. ugh i love it. ignore the pile of clothes on the bed, i was being super indecisive. 



Out at the pool area, a DJ spun, beautiful people laid out - and I ordered the fish tacos. I'm not going to post pool photos because, well... my boobs dont fit into any bikinis these days and my super mommish one pieces arent really blog-worthy. But back to the tacos. I love them. I highly recommend them. I also had some fruity drink but I won't get too into that because my taste in alcohol is adolescent, girly, and down right embarrasseing. I decided to get a "pool-side" Massage for an hour at the mere rate of $89 , not bad! It was done in a yurt just off the pool deck. I asked if Sarah could come into the massage yurt if I got bored, and apparently this gave the massage therapist the impression we were gay lovers. 



I say this because, upon asking for her advice on where to go out that night, she insisted we would LOVE toucans. We were surprised upon arrival to read at the door " Palm Springs Premiere Gay Club".... we said eff it. Ordered some red-bull vodkas and proceeded to have dance offs with men in thongs. It was quite an evening. A lil too much Lady Gaga, but great. We got a lot of " OMG! You guys are the cutest lesbians ever!" So that felt nice. 


Back Tracking.... We ate dinner at King's Highway, which is at the Ace Hotel and is an old converted Denny's. Again with the hipness. We both wore high-buttoned blouses and leather jackets. Further encouraging those around us we were indeed a couple. I ordered the fish tacos again, because hey I was on a roll, why stop. 

While waiting for a table there is a photo booth in the lobby. We did it twice because, ITS A FRIGGEN PHOTO BOOTH. and were Beverly Hills Hippies. It's an excuse to take mad selfies.


 


The next day, after getting coffee and sleeping off our Toucan's dance-extravaganze, we headed into Joshua Tree National Park. An ultimate favorite for both Sarah and myself. We did the dry damn basin as well as Key View before heading out. We drove past the integretron which unfortunately was closed for a private event and did some LEGIT off-roading to see Giant Rock, which is just as you would imagine, One GIANT ROCK. It's so coo. We did lot's of hippy things. I started a fire and kept it running by burning a box of Period Pads and a pair of granny panties. I am sure that isn't eco-friendly and i SERIOUSLY apologize to mother nature and all but I guess it was pay back to her for even giving me a period. I don't know, is that fair? I think it is. 


I danced around a lot because i use to be dancy and i like to take advantage of any chance to prove I still can do the splits. 

 We went to this thing called Noah's Puliofy. Or something like that. It is a self-guided 10-acre modern art exhibit. It is so weird. Incredibly beautiful but SO WEIRD. Deep. but weird. I dont know it felt a little horror film-ish to me. But i was dressed like a bevery hills hippy and Sarah was like peeing in the desert and I just wasn't in the right state of mind to be all super deep and artsy ok. SORRY IM NOT SORRY.. . But all in all, I say you should go there one day. It served for some super cool instagrams. And it's free, so like, go. 



 And then the sun set, and we stopped for chipotle. and made it back. this is all 2 hours from LA so it is an amazing one night weekend trip if you live in El-Lay. Or even if you live in the valley and tell people you are from LA. 

P.s. in this sunset photo you can se my tiny car in the left middle. I love my car. It's a dodge nitro, if you hate your car, burn it and go by a nitro and then youll be happier. 


TRAVEL: Iceland

I recently Traveled to Iceland.
And a few days later, I wrote an article about my travels... to Iceland.
For one of my favorite sites: Live Like Your On Vacation. Co-founded by my sweet Friend Tawney.

Here is a little repost below.



Iceland gets a little Hope

Writer: Hope
I am a singer from Los Angeles and doing my best to take advantage of my lack of true life responsibilities in my 20′s. In the past 5 years, I have checked many things off my “bucket list” ranging from trips to Johannesburg and Paris, to Sky Diving and singing Chumbawumba at Karaoke. I began a tradition of adventure September 2 years ago where I do something new every day. Eat something new every meal. This september, I went the whole month without speaking… that was an adventure. But this Christmas, on a last minute whim, I was lucky enough to check a BIG one off. One that I can only assume is on most people’s list. One I could’ve sworn I’d do once I had an AARP card & too much time and money. Iceland. The northern lights. And I must say, there is a lot about this incredibly eco-friendly country I was not prepared for. ( I also probably could have done it all in 3 days as opposed to 6 ) Hopefully, I can prepare some of you for your future trip up here to the Arctic Circle.

I brought the majority of my essentials. Camera. Chapstick. International Socket Converter. A friend who makes me laugh. A credit card pre-approved for international usage. and a jam mix of my favorite #1 hits from 1998-2004. I recommend all of these things along with a few more suggestions or tidbits.

1) CLOTHES: Two words. warm and layers. When I tell you it is cold here, and the wind is strong, I am not exaggerating. It’s ICEland. don’t let all the pretty photos of it being green mislead you. Those must have been taken during the one week of summer they experience. But this here… is December in the Arctic. Don’t bring your Payless knock off Uggs, they will not do the trick. I brought tall thick soft socks that saved my toes. Layers are important though – as most places keep the indoor heat blazing. I recommend a hat for winter as well a face mask if you will be doing much out door adventuring as wind chill is quite high.  Most days were -2 Degrees C.

2) A PLAN: Though I believe the adventure is in the journey and always try to keep flexible and spontaneous – a rough plan is still a good idea. If you are flying Icelandic Air, they include free entertainment ( you pick through an array of films, television shows, or music) and your first two checked bags are free. Once you arrive. Every sign looks like this ” ttrygukilivvugrekl” Unless you speak Icelandic, It can be tricky to get around. Have a list of places you have researched ( that are open at the time of year you are going -as we accidently made our commercial “downtown shopping day” on an icelandic holiday we didn’t know about and everything was closed…) and rent a GPS if you can. I also recommend you research the costs of entry as Iceland had a huge economic crash and they typically charge for everything. * Most museums have a student discount if you have an ID
Look into the day-light hours for the time of year of your visit, some days we only had 3 hours of light, and in the summer, you may have up to 24 hours of daylight… consider a sleep mask if you are traveling in summer.
The icelandic currency is far from the Euro. Consider saving the conversion in your phone, etc. Also, if you are car-less and the weather is warm enough- You can rent a bike through www.borgarhjol.is or www.bikecompany.is

3) THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, as it turns out are not a guaranteed thing. Admittedly, I was very naive to assume they were. I am on day 6 and have not seen them… Yup. That’s a thing. The “500 Photos of Iceland 2013 Calendar” I saw at the mall kiosk was misleading. The entire winter sky is not permenantly on acid as you may believe. Check out a projection of where it is best, what times, etc. They are best on cloudless nights between 6 pm and Midnight and a drive out of town to get the best view is highly recommended. [ Edit: The trip has now ended. and I never saw the Northern lights ]

4) WATER: Bring perfume. This part is HILLARIOUS. I still can’t believe no one warned me. Iceland is COVERED IN SULFUR. All of the water, pools, spas, sinks, showers, smell horribly of sulfur. Seriously when you shower, it honest to god smells like Diarehha. Just streams of Rotten eggs. This is when bringing a funny friend comes in handy. You learn to laugh it off. (or to shower less i.e. dry shampoo) I tried rubbing Tea tree oil and other essential oils in and below my nose before going into a hot spring. That helped. a bit. ** Do not bring any jewelry that you don’t have to. The water is high in mineral content and taking a shower with rings on, even washing your hand can stain a silver ring gold, and cause other cases of unfortunate discoloration. ( See my two-tones David Yurman Ring?)


5) NATURAL SIGHTS to see: Iceland is sitting on both the european and asian tectonic plates and is slowly separating which is one of the reasons for it’s high volcanic activity ( 200 Eruptions in 1100 years) We saw the Gullfoss Waterfall that goes directly into a deep crack in the earth where the two tectonic plates are shifting apart which is a one of a kind view. It is about an hour drive outside of Rekjavik. The famous strokkur geyser is about 9 KM away and is also incredible ( again- note it smells like shit, don’t say I didn’t warn you ) Both impressive sights to see / both challenging to stay around and really observe because of the cold. The National Botanical gardens are located in Reykjavik and were beautiful as well. Thingvellir has Diving and Snorkeling tours (www.scuba.is) and the water is incredibly clear if you are permitted to drive, I highly recommend it. The Golden circle is another drive you don’t want to miss.
** NOTE FOR GULFOSS:  When your GPS takes you to the Gulfoss, turn off at a small split in the road RIGHT before you are there. Literally like 200 yards. It takes you directly to the waterfall. Otherwise you park up by the souvenir shop and take a VERY steep windy stair case down to where you could have parked ( had you known… and now you do! Your welcome) 

6) ART: We ventured to the new HARPA opera building which is stunning and has some reasonably priced shows. We saw a comedy show entitled ” How to be Icelandic in 60 minutes” If you come in the next 6 months – I certainly recommend catching it during its run. You can’t miss the building by the way, It is massive, modern, lights up, and is right on the harbor. They recently built it even being in billions of dollars of debt, and apparently the biggest argument was who will clean all of the windows. So look for the building with way too many windows. (www.HARPA.is) They have a record shop in the lobby filled with local icelandic artists as well as some of the bigger names like Of Monsters and Men or Sigur Ros. (Shameless Plug: They also sell my bands album “VOl.1″ by Me and Mr.Cassidy there.) There are also incredible Art Galleries in downtown Reykjavik – a volcano museum, viking, and photography as well as their national art gallery. There is also incredible arcitecture in the large churches in town


7) FOOD: I ate weird stuff. and you can too! Whale, Puffin, Reindeer, Snails, Goose, etc. These are all readily available. If you are vegetarian – there is honestly not a lot of fresh fruit/vegetable options so I do recommend packing some snacks. I was told that the best place to eat is a tiny hot dog stand in downtown. They have Lamb dogs, with some crispy onions, runny mustard, etc. It’s a popular thing. It is a cheap meal, but I gotta be honest, myself and all 4 people I was with were not impressed. But by all means, it’s only about $2 USD so give it a try. There is also a mexican restauraunt, in downtown Reykjavik run by Asian people- we went because we try mexican restauraunts all over the world and think it’s funny…. BUT… I would also skip that. It’s exactly what you would imagine. Hereford Steakhouse however was incredible from start to finish (www.hereford.is)



8) THE BLUE LAGOON is truly as beautiful and magical as a quick google image search makes it seem. It is also, to be fair, incredibly touristy – but I must say worth it. National Geographic has listed it as one of the 25 modern wonders of the world. It is basically a volcanic hot spring that is an opaque bright blue due to the minerals and high salt content. Your entire body is steamy, but any drips of water on your hair and face freeze into tiny pieces of ice. Although it is indeed touristy ( fully equipped with a swim up wine bar…) I appreciated swimming in this weird natural hot tub with dozens of people all speaking different languages. You are given 2 free bands, one to cover a drink, and one for a face scrub. There are also free boxes of a mineral face mask on the edges of the lagoon.  It really does incredible things for your face. Make sure to swim into the small cave located near the large clock. Press a button on the inside for a brief speech on the science behind the lagoon. Many people had water proof cameras which I cannot recommend enough. If it isn’t quite for you, there are many other local pools and hot springs. A smaller local alternative to Blue Lagoon is the Laugar Spa suited with a fitness center, beauty and massage spa, cafe and thermal pools as well. ( www.laugarspa.is)

9) CULTURE: Do a little Icelandic research, because it is a fascinating country. ( Or just visit a ton of museums and films while here…) Only about 320,000 people live here, about the same as live in Buffalo NY. Iceland is the size of Kentucky. Everyone who has EVER lived in Iceland is in the ” Book Of Icelanders”. Everyone is accounted for in detail. Which is actually a beautiful thing in a world where some people are forgotton and some are not registered citizens anywhere. Basically, a Viking got lost on their way from Norway to England, ended up in Iceland, and invited all of his other Viking-like friends to join him. and BOOM. a tiny country started and someone had the brilliant idea of keeping excellent historic account of all of their adventures ,settlements and names. Still to this day. Very few people immigrate into the country – and in some ways what is left is one giant family. While downtown, visit Underneath Hotel Reykjavik and you can see the oldest found home foundation. You can walk through and actually touch. It is an incredible modern museum they literally built around the site. The home was found while the hotel was doing renovations.
Though I didn’t see very many locals out and about, those who we came across were friendly and helpful. Also, though all signs are in icelandic, all students take English in school so we never ran into any huge language barriers. It is a country with a very beautiful population. Miss Universe has reigned from iceland several times. The Prime minister is one of the only world leaders to be openly gay and her direct phone number is listed in the phone book. Overall it is a very liberal and connected population who overcame a lot to create and preserve the country.

Overall- I’d say take a trip there if the ability to is in the cards for your life. Whether or not you can make it all the way to iceland- Keep on Adventurin’ and Keep on Livin. Live like you are on Vacation.

-Hope
for more adventures with Hope find her on instagram @hopeleigh
and jam to her music Www.meandmrcassidy.webs.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MUSIC: Witzend Jan.17

Tonight is our first official show of the year. Though, we did play the Malibu Country Club for a private party last weekend, that was less of a "show" persay and more of an excuse to exchange acoustic tunes for free tacos and margaritas. Mmm. Tacos. 

 

                                            Photo by Reinna Cruz at our Dec. show,  2012                                               Us at the Witzend Christmas Party,  2012


We are headed back into the Witzend, our favorite new venue of 2012. We started to grow out of Genghis Cohen, and I personally grew out of the Hollywood traffic commute. Witzend is just over a year old, and is shaping into an incredible bar and listening room. It is an incredible vibe with amazing sound and a super friendly staff. ( My personal favorite being the teddy-bear-ish door man Lawrence)





If you can make it, all of the info is on this little adorable flyer. If you can't make it, our next show is on February 6th and should be equally as fun. Keep up to date on the witzend site : (http://www.witzendlive.com/) for a calandar of shows. Our name pops up monthly. 

1717 Lincoln BLVD.  Venice Califorina. All Ages. 9PM $10