My Birthday Week

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve been pretty quiet this week. While I’m no longer in Africa, I’m still technically on vacation. This week (cough Tuesday) happened to be my 28th birthday. I know, I’m so old I fart dust. It’s been a fun week of celebration.

On my actual birthday my friend Jess and I drove down to Westport, CT to explore. We took the Merritt Parkway out there (so pretty), hit=up West Elm (well, because it’s West Elm), and then meandered back along the coast. We even stopped off and found Martha Stewart’s former property (Turkey Hill, Westport). We stopped at beaches to walk around, and I got a tuna sandwich at Oscar’s Deli.

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(Wandering around Westport, CT)

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(The PEZ Visitors Center)

See, such a pretty day! We also stopped into the PEZ Visitors Center in Orange. How cool is that?! That make and package PEZ in CT and they built a beautiful visitor’s center, with games, puzzles, and a find-the-7-dwarfs pez dispensers to win a free pez holder and candy. IT’s a game everyone plays and wins. The price is $5, but comes with a coupon to use in the gift shop as well as the free pez at the end of the visit… it felt like we got back the $5 we paid. I highly recommend stopping in there!

For a special birthday dinner my parents and I went to Geronimo in New Haven. It was a great meal and the restaurant atmosphere/decor is a lot of fun. My mom made me a special birthday cake and then I crashed. I’m still on Africa time!

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Yesterday I trekked into New York City on a Metro-North train. Met my friend Lily for lunch and then my friend Diana joined me for a walk along the river and High Line visit. I love that place, and they keep expanding it! It’s so fun at sunset to just walk above the city, free of cars.

Then Dot, Diana, Sally, Lily and I had a fabulous dinner at En Japanese Brasserie. Dot took the photo of me at the top of the post. These girls are the best :) I took a sleepy ride back to CT last night and have been working all day today.

I hope to have some Africa posts up soon, I’ve just got a packed schedule here as you can see above. I’ve also got some friends and family to see while I’m on the east coast.  I promise things will be back to normal soon enough.

Visiting Home 2: Exploration!

To catch you up to speed, check out the first part of my trek, Visiting Home 1: Getting There + Father’s Day.

This next chapter took place on Tuesday of my week home in Connecticut. I was so inspired riding the train from NYC to New Haven seeing all the little cute downtowns that I’ve never explored that I decided to make a day trip exploring the coast of CT. I decided to explore East Shore, East Haven, Branford and Guilford.

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After a lovely brunch with friends, my buddy Jess and I ventured down 91 to the first exit off the 95. We had no real destination, so when we saw signs for a park, beach or historical landmark we stopped in. Our first stop ended up being Fort Hale where there is little beach called Nathan Hale Beach. I was surprised on this Tuesday noon there were actually people parked here walking around. It was a little overcast, but still fun to explore. This isn’t a beach I would swim at (fyi).

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It was a rough rocky beach, but still a nice view. Onward we go!

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We continued down Townsend Ave and ended up at Lighthouse Park. This beach did have people laying out and picnicking (although I don’t think anyone was swimming). It has a window lined pavilion with a carrousel in the middle! I think this space can be rented out for wedding receptions.

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This is the New Haven Harbor Lighthouse. She’s a beauty.

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After doing a loop of the walking path, we were back on the road looking for our next adventure. We saw a sign near the East Haven Town Green pointing us toward the Shoreline Trolley Museum. As we were debating if we should explore, a conductor flagged us over and told us to hop on, so we did!

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It was adorable. The train conductors are volunteers, so they are in it for passion rather than donations.

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They take you on a short ride through the Beacon Hill Reserve where you learn about this history of trains in CT. Even though it was overcast, we still saw people kayaking. What a great spot for it!

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Views from the train car.

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The have a spot midway through where they keep the very old trains. Everyone exits the trains and explores barns with trains from all over New England. Here’s a photo of the train back when it was in use.

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Once our tour ended, we moved along to the Guilford Town Green. At this point we got coffees and snacks and walked a loop around the Town Green.

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We passed cute houses.

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We had a nice view of the Guildford First Congregational Church.

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After the loop it was starting to drizzle so we made a quick stop down by the water near the Guilford Boat Launch. If we had more time we would have liked to stop into the Henry Whitfield State Museum.

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Right after I took this photo, the rain came in and meant the end of our exploration. It was a lot of fun not knowing where we were going and just following the coast. You never know what you’ll stumble upon and learn about where you’ve spent your life growing up. I highly recommend doing something like this, no matter where you live.

Visiting Home 1: Getting There + Father’s Day

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After my last day at work, I hopped on a Burbank 9:45p Jetblue flight to JFK airport. It was a busy day, but thankfully it made me exhausted, so I slept nearly the entire flight.

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Once I arrived in NYC, I took the bus shuttle to Grand Central ($16? one way, no reservations required). It would have been cheaper taking the subway, but it involved transfers and would have taken extra time. Also, it was 6am and I was pooped.

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From Grand Central I took metro north to New Haven. Once on the train I closed my eyes, rested up and awoke to this view. How beautiful is that? It’s an excellent train ride along the coast.

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After a day of napping, seeing family and catching up with the three hour time change, it was Sunday! Father’s Day! We decided to spend midday visiting Grandma for lunch at her new facilities. Isn’t Grandma Trudie a cutie?

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They gave flowers out to all the dads on their special day. This dad was no exception.

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The next day I got to see my cousin Elena and meet her new baby Everett. He’s such a sweetie.

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I’m holding a baby!!

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Don’t these pictures just make you melt?

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I made it home before the clouds rolled in. About 5 minutes after I took this photo it started downpouring. It was such a treat for this LA girl. And such dramatic clouds!

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Rain, Rain, RAIN! We decided to use this indoor time tackling our object filled basement. This has been my parents project for a long time, so it was nice to come home and help them clear out a lot of my old belongings.

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Warning: Cleaning out the basement takes an emotional toll. Going through childhood treasures and having to decide what has value and what doesn’t, man it’s rough. There were certain boxes that were an automatic keep. My dad put these Mickey ears on my head and I was pretending this doll was my child. My lazy-eyed child. Sigh, what has it come to.

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In going through my old RISD boxes I found this homemade card from dear Ms. Sally Funn To (best middle name ever). This was in the “keep” pile of course :)

Until We Meet Again, Connecticut

Alas, my two weeks was up and like all vacations, it had to end. It was so great seeing friends, family, museums, art galleries, hikes, shops, on and on. It was definitely a full two weeks and yet I still have a long list of places I need to see when Im back, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Around 3:30p last night, my parents took me up to Bradley International Airport in Hartford. It was as the sun was setting so it made for a beautiful drive.

After checking in at the airport, I got to take a peak at their puppet display. All these puppets are from the Ballard Institute + Museum of Puppetry in Storrs, CT (aka UCONN).

They were a little creepy, but reminded me of the tv show “Mr. Rogers”.

Once my dad parked the car, he joined me and my mom and we walked over to the Sheraton Hotel that is connected to the airport. They have a great little bar/cafe space called Cloud Nine Bar, and we love to stop in and chat and eat before having to say goodbye to guests (me in this case).

Since the bar started carrying craft beers, I had to indulge. I ordered the Smuttynose Robust Porter which was super smooth and delicious.

I had to share the above picture with you. After finishing our food we walked over to security where we bumped into this bad boy. It’s a lego replica of the Mark Twain House, which seems fitting given my recent visit there (see that post HERE).

So what’s left for my next trip to CT? What didn’t I accomplish? Why, I’m glad you asked!

- The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (in Hartford)
East Rock (in New Haven)
Sally’s Apizza (in New Haven)
The Connecticut Science Center (in HArtford)
– Drive along the coast and visit the cute “downtowns” of all the small coastal towns.
– Walk around Yale more! See the Yale Art Gallery.
The Wadsworth Atheneum (in Hartford)
– Catch a show at the Yale Repertory Theatre, or the Goodspeed Opera House, or the Long Wharf Theater.
– Visit Mohegan’s Museum (my parents spoke so highly of it)

New Haven Part III: Pepe’s Pizza

After leaving the Yale Center for British Art (discussed HERE), we continued on to get an early dinner. New Haven is known for their pizza places. Just the other day I tried Modern Apizza (see that post HERE), which was my first taste of New Haven pizza. We decided to try Sally’s (or Sal’s as it’s also called.. at least by me and my friends) Apizza on Wooster Street. Sally’s only downfall is that she didn’t open until 5pm on Friday, and as we had a jam-packed schedule, we needed to eat before then. So we continued down Wooster St. past Sally’s where we hit Pepe’s Pizza, which s one (if not the) most famous New Haven pizza place. Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Robin Williams, Bill Murry, Danny DeVito, and even “The Fonz” have enjoyed Pepe’s Pizza when they’ve stopped in New Haven. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us! Check out this article to learn more about the pizza places in New Haven.

Pepe’s doesn’t have a huge amount of seating so it’s typical to have to wait to eat, but come in at 4pm on a Friday and you get your pick of seating. From our both we could see them loading pizzas into the GIANT oven.

We ordered a large pizza for three of us, knowing there would be leftovers for our fourth person (Jess) who had to work on Friday. We decided to do half cheese, half veggie, which was an awesome selection. The standard cheese side was so yummy and the veggie side was loaded with all types of veggies. They didn’t scrimp on the toppings.

They carry Foxon Park soda (which is made in Connecticut) so I had to indulge in a delicious cream soda. It just felt right. I have to say, I liked this pizza more than Modern. Don’t get me wrong, Modern was tasty but there was something in this pizza that made it really awesome. That ingredient is probably more fat (haha) but still, if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

The reason we ate so early is because we needed to leave New Haven and drive up to South Windsor for Jess and Lexy’s hockey game. That’s right, my two tiny Asian twin friends play hockey and are AMAZING at it. They are both working full-time in the medical industry until there is a major woman’s professional hockey league (which they would dominate at), in the meantime they just save lives. Yes, you could call them superheroes and that would be accurate.

I had to include photos from the game, because they played so well. The above photo is Lexy who scored 1 goal.

The above picture is Jess, who scored three goals. The overall score was 6 to 0, with the twins scoring 4 of the 6 goals! How impressive is that?!

I also need to include this photo. Lexy would be the one sitting in the penalty box (or the naughty time-out chair, as Mike and I called it). We all weren’t sure why she ended up in there (for being a hockey badass? Is that a crime?).

New Haven Part II: The Yale Center for British Art

After we finished in the Cushing Center (see post HERE) our New Haven expedition continued..

We walked around Yale some more (hoping to happen upon a secret society of course). The above picture is of the Yale Repertory Theater where many great actors have performed while honing their craft.

We also passed the Yale Art and Architecture Building (designed by Paul Rudolph in 1963). This was a nice contrast for my recent trip to Harvard where I got to see their Architecture GSD building.

We decided to pop into the Yale Center for British Art which is FREE. Their other art museum across the street is also FREE. My next visit will involve a trip to this museum. It will also involve more Yale/New Haven exploring because there is so much to see.

Photography was probably not allowed (and there were guards EVERYWHERE) but I still snagged a few shots.. cause I’m badass as you already know.

We were running tight on time, so once we explored the 4 floors of the museum it was time to move on. I enjoyed the building more than the art (designed by Louis Kahn), but I’m more of a modern art lover so I knew this wasn’t really my genre going into it.

We continued with a quick stop to the main Yale Library (very Hogwarts) and then looped back to the car. We walked through the New Haven Green where Occupy New Haven/Wall Street was in full force. These campers are in it for the long haul, and clearly New Haven Police haven’t made them move yet like in other cities. The Green has public restrooms which makes it much more sanitary than in other cities. We passed what looked like Yale student journalists interviewing members of the camp. I liked the waving flag in the campsite.

New Haven Part I: The Yale Cushing Center (BRAINS!)

I hope you will pardon that there was no Weekend Guide posted on Friday. Since I am still on vaca, I’ve been out exploring and I’m a little behind on the times. But don’t fret, I’ll be back on the horse (that’s an expression right?) for next weekend. I’ll be back in LA tonight and back to my usual shenanigans. But before I head back, I need to update you on the rest of my Connecticut trip. On Friday I went to New Haven with my friends Mike and Lexy and it was so epic, I’ll need to spread it out over a few posts. So here’s part 1!

We started by walking down College Street to get to the Yale Nursing Library. New Haven isn’t big on food trucks (that I saw) but they do have a lot of food carts. You can see in the above picture, all the vendors line College St. waiting for the hungry Yale students to get a break from class.

This is the front of the Nursing School Library. Unfortunately, you have to be a nursing student to get in so you can’t just stop in. But thankfully my good friend Mike is a student and hooked us up.

I’m not sure what room in the library this was, but it was completely silent in there and it had the quintessential Ivy League look. Very Hogswart (for you Potter nerds).

As we descended down to The Cushing Center (aka. the BRAIN room!) we got lower and lower in the building, even passing a skeleton!

It was very quiet and we were alone as we entered The Cushing Center.

This dimley lit room was filled with brains! Jars with brains lined the entire room with 3 or 4 rows. It was so cool/creepy.

This was like something out of a movie and it was awesome. Better than any secret society we could’ve stumbled upon.