2012 Resolution Recap

It’s that time! Time to see what I was able to get done over the last 365 days. I’ll start by going through my 2012 New Year Resolution List. (Sorry for another pictureless post)

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”
I wasn’t able to finish the entire book due to some health issues, but I certainly did 80% and now I have the pleasure of enjoying the walks as I complete the rest in 2013.

– Go rock climbing! I got to go indoor rock climbing with Amber, Lindsey and Adam thanks to a groupon to Hangar 18. Despite my crazy fear of hieghts, I was actually pretty good and got into it. I’m no pro, but I would gladly go again.

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it. This didn’t get to happen. I’ve done monster walks alone, but they are more fun with a friend and my walking buddy Michelle had a wild year of getting pregnant and giving birth to lovely Cole. This goal will have to pushed to my 2013 resolution list.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book! Give those new hike boots a work out. I wasn’t too successful completing a ton of new hikes from my hike book, although I did complete a handful from the book in 2012. Bigger than that, I hiked Mount Whitney! That’s a pretty big goal for 2012, in fact I was so concerned I wouldn’t follow through with it, I didn’t add it to my resolution list from 2012. And I did it! 

– Go camping! Camping happened for a few days around Mt. Whitney as well as on The Channel Islands and when I went tubing the Kern River. 

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy. I got to complete this with weights as I was training for Mount Whitney. I actually found this to be more of a challenge. 

– Go back to Catalina! When my parents came to town in September, we got to take them to Catalina and took them parasailing. My sister and I had so much fun doing it last year, that when another groupon deal came up, we bought enough for all of us to go as an anniversary gift to them. 

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it! This is of course hard to gauge, but I think I did a really good job at going out a lot after work and on weekends. In fact I went out so much didn’t get a ton of my night walks in. It’s about finding a balance and I have to be better about that in 2013. 

– Visit Hearst Castle. Check! I got to go when my parents came to visit and loved it. As a family we took a weekend trip up there and drove back along the coast stopping at the small beach towns. 

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time. I wasn’t able to complete this (due to lack of snow last winter) but the groupon was extended into 2013 which means I’ll be going this winter and already Big Bear has gotten some great snow. 

– Go white-water rafting. Another side-effect of no snow in the winter, is that the run-off over the summer is so depleted that there’s not enough water to make it “white water”. But in place of rafting, we got to enjoy tubing down the Kern. I’m looking forward to white water rafting in the summer of 2013!

– Go kayaking. I got to do this during my weekend excursion to the Channel Islands as well as doing it about 3 times when I was visiting my parents in Cape Cod this past summer. I love it.

– Try yoga. Did it repeatedly! I love the Core Power Yoga free Sunday noon class. Although I didn’t realize you needed to pay to borrow the mats, so I didn’t realize I was stealing every time I went. But now that I’ve realized it I will be investing in a yoga mat in 2013 🙂

– Try spinning. I did not do that this year, although I really need to. I ended up canceling my gym membership this year, so now I’ll have to pay to go to a class but I still want to do this. The only reason I didn’t complete this goal was because I was busy, and frankly I forgot about it. This is why it’s good to do midyear resolution recaps, to remind myself what I still need to complete. 

– Make new recipes to last during the week. This I did only a few times. It’s hard to make meals for one. Also my job often provides meals that are around dinner time, so it’s nice to save money by eating that food and leave the cooking to the professionals. 

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city. CHECK! This was a really fun resolution. I got to lump a short stopover in Chicago onto my summer trip to Cape Cod. I had such a great time visiting friends and seeing the tourist sights (the FLW House!). 

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much. As I explained above, I did this but not as regular as I used to (since my walking buddy was busy having babies and I started doing more event stuff at night). But in 2013 I’m going to go back to doing this a solid 5 times a week, if not more. 

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed). I got to do a bunch of these with Amber earlier in the year, although they did take a back seat to all of my other goals as the year went on. It’s worth digging this book out again and going more in 2013. 

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes! So far so good. Saying yes to life has only meant good things.

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right? I’m always working on that, and that’ll continue into 2013. 

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2011. It’s something Ive been putting off because I hate doing it, but why not? If it’s the worst, then oh well. If it’s great then maybe I get a new friend out of the deal. I’ve jumped out of a plane, I think I can handle a silly little date. So send your single, outdoorsy, male friends my way. This remains true in 2013. Also, I’ve decided that “date” is too scary a word, and only call them “friend meetups” in an attempt to making dating less scary. 

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time. I feel like in one year I did a lot to improve the blog. I tried (and I’m always trying) to come up with new features like Font Friday and Do This Today. I try to blog 1 or 2 times daily midweek and once on the weekends. I also designed a business card for the blog and changed the layout a bit. The “Life Absorbed” logo photo shoots where fun, and I hope to do more in 2013. Now all my photos have watermarks and I really work hard to make improvements as I get feedback. I’ve gotten retweeted by Scott Aukerman this year. I’ve gotten “shared” on facebook by some of my favorite comedians and even CBS included me in an article about the Secret Stairs of LA. It’s been good progress and I’m looking forward to more improvements in 2013!

This completes my resolution list for 2012. I can honestly say I gave it 110% and filled my time to capacity. There’s only so much time to get things done and I have no regrets with how my time was spent in 2012. I also want to share some things I did that weren’t on my 2012 resolution list:

A big Hawaii trip that included zip-lining, snorkeling, and hiking around an active volcano. Visiting the Queen Mary with my parents. Sitting in the UCB green room with Doug Benson and Zach Galifinakis (thanks Gabe!). The 1 million comedy shows I saw this year (I’m only exaggerating a little). Finally seeing David Cross do stand up! A fun weekend getaway to Palm Springs. My first hospital visit (not a good situation, but it could have been so much worse). Running the Denver Turkey Trot and getting to enjoy Denver fun. Getting to be Shari Lewis for the day. Doing all my DIY projects. Brunches with the girls. Visiting the JPL and going to about 5 neighborhood festivals. Doing the Color Run with Lindsey. Having my celebrity crush, Harris Wittels, comment on my blog. Tubing Mt. Baldy with Michelle and Lindsey. A weekend getaway to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. Visiting the horse racing park for Tom’s birthday. Going to a Beer Collaboration event. Magic Castle with the girls. Celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown. Gosh, this has been a busy year!

Seals + Pismo + Solvang

Continuing with my Hearst Castle posts, I have to mention two great places to stay if you are visiting (say… from LA). The first place is famous for it’s themed rooms and it’s The Madonna Inn. The second place I recommend is right along the ocean and it’s where we stayed this trip, The White Water Inn. The Inn provided a free homemade breakfast (and it was elaborate and delivered in a basket on our doorstep that morning) and they even wash all the car windows. They could not have been nicer. This inn is located in Cambria, which has a great little downtown only a few miles inland. I highly recommend checking out a place for dinner there and walking around town in the evenings is quite photogenic.

Once we had our fill of Cambria and Hearst Castle, we made one short drive north of Hearts a few miles to check out the seals before skipping town.

The seals were covering the beach. You can’t miss the turn off, as there were signs and tons of people pointing you in the right direction.

We continued down the 101 (a beautiful but slower drive back to LA) and stopped at Pismo Beach. The views were something else.

Above is the Pismo Beach Pier. This area reminded me a lot of Venice Beach. They allow driving on the beach and camping just south of here. We could see all the tents set up. It made me wish I packed mine!

More Pismo, until we were starting to get hungry and still had a trek to make to get to Solvang where we had dinner plans.

Solvang is an adorable Danish town just north and east of Santa Barbara. Before eating a Danish (or was it German?) dinner, we did a walk around town. Everything here feels straight out of Europe. It was so unique.

Of course a Danish town has a few windmills. If you live in LA and want to get a weekend away, come stay over night here and do wine tastings locally or hit the beach. You can easily fill a weekend of activities here and feel like you’ve jumped over the pond.

The last thing worth mentioning, before we finished our weekend gettaway and headed back to Los Angeles, is this Shakespearean looking theater called Solvang Festival Theatre. If you’re visiting for the weekend, get tickets to a show. It will really tie together the European experience, and it would be mighty romantic.

Next in the continuation of my series of Things to do When Your Parent’s Come to Town: Huntington Garden’s + Catalina!  

Hearst Castle 4: Guest House + Kitchen

To catch you up to speed, check out:
Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens + Pools
Hearst Castle 2: Casa Grande
Hearst Castle 3: Upstairs Tour

This is the last of my Hearst Castle Tour posts. Our last tour was a visit to the guest houses, kitchen, and wine cellar. We were very lucky to be able to do all the tours, as it gave us a complete vision of what William and his home are like. Having 3 different tour guides gave us 3 perspectives on his life. On this tour we also learned that the Hearst family still lives on the property at the bottom of the hill (hidden amongst the trees) and that they occasionally come up to use the pool or throw parties in the home. Ahhh, the life.

One of the three guest houses.

I want! I want!

These ceilings are so ornate. Can you tell I spent most of these tours looking up?

Such luscious guest rooms. Between the colors, textures, art and views I’m not sure which I love best.

I LOVE the colors in the photo above. The golds, pale pinks and cream with hints of turquoise. Love it!

These cans read like an Andy Warhol painting.

This was my favorite piece of this giant kitchen. More fun with colors, blues, turquoise, creams and browns.

As a drafter/artist myself, I had to include the above photo of the architects office. Out of this giant mansion with many buildings, this 6’X10′ is the only space alotted for the architect, Julia Morgan, who slaved away on this home her whole career. And she had to convince William to allow her this space. It’s painful.

Up next, I’ll suggest places to stay around San Simeon as well as places to stop along the route home to Los Angeles.

Hearst Castle 3: Upstairs Tour

To catch you up to speed, check out:
Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens + Pools
Hearst Castle 2: Casa Grande

The next tour we took was the Upstairs Tour. This was where we heard some real dirt on William Hearst. Up until now everything we heard and saw (in a film about his life in the visitors center) left out big chunks of information. Like where he got his money (from his parents) and why he waited so long to build the house (because he had to wait until his mother died because she didn’t want him wasting her money)? Also, he’s married and has a mistress yet he doesn’t allow his guests to co-mingle at his home. There was a lot of glossed over topics in the presentation of the facts. In the upstairs tour, some of these topics were unavoidable and our tour guide give us the dirt we were looking for. It was excellent, and my favorite tour of the three.

The upstairs tour explored the guest rooms, Willam’s bedroom, his office, and more private quarters.

I really believe this house was built to show off Williams extensive ceiling collection. It’s just amazing how these came all the way from Europe in those days, came out to California and up this crazy hill (on horse-back?) and then were reassembled here. What a journey. Most humans don’t make a trek like that in their lifetime.

They had sample clothes laying out on the beds in the guest room to give you a feel of what a guest would have worn to dinner at the castle. In fall docents volunteer and dress in these clothes and walk around the castle playing the role as guests. This would be fun to see. My sister brought up the idea of a fundraising event for the castle: Murder Mystery Night. Genius.

William owned rare books. Very rare books.

Williams office. This is where he read the newspaper every day and redlined it.

I loved the windows on the upstairs level. I had fun taking photos of the shadows.

Up next, Hearst Castle 4: Guest Houses + Kitchen

Hearst Castle 2: Casa Grande

Catch-up to speed by reading Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens and Pools.

The first tour we did was of the Casa Grande (aka, the big main house). Since these tours are pricy and people often just do one tour, this is the most popular tour they choose. Our group easily had 25 people in it. This tour was nice, but it left out the quirky William Hearst details that this house is screaming of. Thankfully, the upstairs tour and guest house tour filled in a lot of gaps for us.

It looks like a college campus or cathedral more so than a house.

How many people do you know who collect ceilings and walls from Europe?

Every room is covered with architectural details/artwork from Europe what an unusual collection. William ate dinner here with all of his guests. All guests were required to attend dinner at the same time here. Your seats were assigned based on how long you’ve stayed at the castle. New people sat in the center and guests who overstayed their welcome were pushed to the ends of the table. William would often select someone and say “entertain me”, and that guest was required to put on a one-person-show for William Hearst. It’s like people were his puppets. So strange.

Church right? Nope, dining room wall. Yeah, my dining room looks like this too.

The billiards room.

The above photo is a decorative ornamental column in the theater. This is where guests were required to watch a film every night at 11pm. You were not allowed to skip this. So unusual.

Next up, Hearst Castle 3: The Upstairs Tour.

Hearst Castle 1: The Gardens and Pools

A few weeks ago my parents came to visit, we packed up the car and road-tripped up north. First stop: Hearst Castle. Their entire visit is going to be broken down into a series of posts, because this is an excellent itinerary for anyone who has parents coming to visit so I have to share it.

If you’ve ever been to Hearst Castle, you know it’s a giant disneyland for photographers. Everywhere you turn, it’s another photo-taking opportunity. You start at the visitor’s center at the bottom of the hill. Once you get tour tickets (they offer 3 types of tours) you can take the bus up to the mansion. It’s a 10 minute ride narrated by Alex Trebeck. Once up there, you immediately take your tour and when that finishes you are free to explore the grounds. If you take an early morning tour, you can spend the rest of the day laying out by the pool.

Such beautiful architecture.

High on the mountain overlooking the ocean, this site is where William Hearst once camped as a boy.

Beautiful gardens, so well manicured, around every corner.

Above is the Neptune pool. How gorgeous is that? They have lounge seats all around the pool that they let visitors layout on. It’s the only chance to really feel what it would have been like to stay at the mansion in its heyday. While laying there, you can picture Clark Gable playing Marco-Polo with Charlie Chaplin.

Above is the Casa Grande exterior. This building is the largest, with 3 other guest houses on the property.

This is the Roman Pool. I remember seeing images of this as a kid and was awed getting to see it in person. It’s really something special.

When you’re ready to leave, you can catch one of the many buses on a constant loop to the castle. The ride down is full of great views. This is where William had his zoo. Occationally you can still catch a glimpse of animals. We got to see zebra!

Next up, Hearst Castle: The Casa Grande Tour.

2012 Resolutions

As you probably can tell, my 2011 was unbelievable. The key thing that helped push me to  do new things in 2011 was my GIANT resolutions list. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like a huge bucket list filled with unobtainable goals. Some goals were small like “buy hiking boots”, “cook more”, and “stay positive!”. Some goals were larger like “run a 5k” and “complete 38 LA walks”. And one was huge, “conquer fear of heights”. I think its important when making a list of goals to have some easy and some hard, because boy does it feel good to cross things off the list. I also like to pull out the list at the start of every month, to help me pace out what I’ve done and what still needs to happen. Don’t save it all until December! And the point of the list isn’t to have a painful year doing really hard things, it’s about trying new things and making 2012 memorable.

Life Absorbed’s 2012 Resolution List

– Complete all 42 walks in “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA”

– Go rock climbing!

– Do at least one “monster” walk in 2012. Use my new “Car-Free LA” book to find a good really long walk and make a day of it.

– Resume hikes from my hiking book! Give those new hike boots a work out.

– Go camping!

– Hike (or ski) Mt. Baldy.

– Go back to Catalina!

– Keep filling my nights and weekends with fun activities, even if it means being tired the next day. It’s worth it!

– Visit Hearst Castle.

– Go cross-country skiing for the first time.

– Go white-water rafting.

– Go kayaking.

– Try yoga.

– Try spinning.

– Make new recipes to last during the week.

– Go to Chicago to visit my good friends and see a new city.

– Keep up my nightly walks. An hour a day does so much.

– Try new bars, restaurants and museums from my “L.A. Bizarro” book. (As Amber pointed out to me, we don’t have to see any of the porn-esque stuff and that is agreed).

– If someone says, “try this hike with me” or “lets do this sport” or any other physical activity, say yes!

– “Grow a Pair!” In 2012 I need to face the little fears. I successfully faced giant fears in 2011, so this should be easy right?

– As a part of “Growing A Pair”, I’m going to go on dates in 2011. It’s something Ive been putting off because I hate doing it, but why not? If it’s the worst, then oh well. If it’s great then maybe I get a new friend out of the deal. I’ve jumped out of a plane, I think I can handle a silly little date. So send your single, outdoorsy, male friends my way.

– And of course I will work hard to maintain you, Life Absorbed. I wish I had started you last Jan. 1st, so now I must make up for lost time.

Here is my new list! It’s a lot shorter than last years, but I think this list will prove to be more challenging (and more expensive). I need to take a moment to thank all of my friends for helping me complete last years resolution list. It really is a group effort. My friends were so great about joining me for activities that I was nervous about. They got me off my butt when I felt myself getting lazy. Their encouragement really pushed me to follow through with my goals. I hope you are all as lucky to have amazing supportive people in your lives. I dedicate my 2012 list of goals to them, and cheers to 2012! We are going to have a blast!