Fun Things to do in LA – A Quick Trip


Fun Things to do in LA - Hollywood sign, hollywood walk of fame, santa monica pier, beverly hills sign

There are so many fun things to do in LA, it’s hard to know where to begin. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I took a short trip to sunny Los Angeles, CA last week. If you don’t follow me, check out 3 Olives and a Twist  for a look at pretty things, yummy things, thoughtful things and happy things – I’m a little obsessed with Instagram lately!

In the short time I was there with Tony, Julia and Ally, the LA attractions we experienced left us wanting more. So much so, Ally reported she’d like to go to college in LA. Gulp, oh no! Too far, my girl, too far!

But I get it. The energy in LA is intoxicating and the weather quite nice. During our stay, the days were warm while the nights a bit cooler than expected.  We didn’t quite pack appropriately, but nothing a quick shop at LA’s cool outdoor mall, The Grove, couldn’t solve. Note to self – if ever I go back in fall, remember that Southern Californians wear boots and sweaters just like we do in the Northeast.  I can leave the flip flops at home.

Fun Things to do in LA

While living the LA life, we took in classic Los Angeles sightseeing destinations like the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, the Santa Monica Pier and, yes, I dragged my whole family to Sur Restaurant for my second visit there.

SUR Restaurant

Sur is the West Hollywood hot spot where my guilty pleasure reality show “Vanderpump Rules” takes place. I know I’m way too old to watch this show, but I’m hooked – I’m sorry, I just can’t look away! To be expected, I saw no “big names” but I did spy a few second and third tier characters who’ve had recurring appearances. Sur’s co-owner Guillermo was there, Lisa Vanderpump’s son Max was busy bussing tables and Stassi’s frequently featured friend, Christine was waiting tables as usual.

A quick ask of our waitress about her desire to be on the show and she replied, “No way – I have no interest in all that drama.” So why the heck work there? I wondered. While I do think the scene at Sur was a little mature for my girls, it was an interesting experience and the food was actually good.

The Ivy Restaurant

Not as good as The Ivy Restaurant where we ate the night before, but good nonetheless. The Ivy came highly recommended by our hotel concierge. Considered an LA landmark, it’s a buzzing and beautiful little spot, also in West Hollywood, where the ambiance actually outdid the food. We were greeted by gracious waiters wearing brightly colored floral neck ties who handed us flutes of champagne (strawberry spritzers for the girls) as we entered. We were seated at an outdoor table with a big bouquet of beautiful pink and yellow roses that matched the staff’s neckties and the colorful lights that surrounded the entryway. Everything about the place was so pretty, charming and cheery. If we were going to see a celebrity it was going to happen here for sure…it didn’t! Despite the fact that The Ivy is a known celebrity hangout we somehow managed to, again, see no one.

Go See a Lakers Game


A Lakers Game is a fun thing to do in LA
The Lakers vs. The Bulls at the Staples Center


We did, however, manage to see one celebrity when we attended The Lakers game.  While we were hoping for Jack Nicholson, Ashton and Mila or Rihanna, we ended up with Jay Mohr. Although, Julia and Ally had no idea who he was, I was happy enough to at least see someone I knew from the small screen.  Oddly, just before we left for LA I had randomly watched Suicide Kings starring Mohr. Weird, seeing that’s not something I would typically watch.

Jay Mohr aside – The Lakers game was a highlight of our trip. I never would have thought to go to a sporting event, but it turned out to be a great time. We had good seats, it was a good game and even the Laker Girls were entertaining.

Walk the Malibu Pier

In addition to the Santa Monica Pier, we also stopped off at the Malibu Pier. I was glad we strolled to the end because there we found the cutest gift shop called the Malibu Beach Supply Co. With not much else to do, I could have poked around this little shop for hours.

Malibu Beach Supply Co. - plants, oranges, mini VW buses, home decor
The Malibu Beach Supply Co. had so many great things from toys to home decor

Fun Things to Do in LA – Instagram Inspirations

While in Santa Monica, Ally suggested we track down a restaurant where pasta is prepared in a hollowed out wheel of cheese. I had just seen a video for this on Instagram – I was excited to see it firsthand. Forma Restaurant and Cheese Bar was located in a quaint, bustling downtown area. Side streets were full of adorable homes with distinct architecture, sidewalk cafes were full and we thoroughly enjoyed this little stop off our beaten path.  Both the pasta and the jaunt through the shops were a treat.

Forma Restaurant and Cheese Bar, a Santa Monica home, I got my wings! CottonHi
Forma Restaurant and Cheese Bar, and a unique Santa Monica home. I got my wings!… and Tiramisu ice cream with chocolate cotton candy from CottonHi.


Also seen on Instagram, Julia had us find one of several locations throughout the City of Angels where artful wings are painted on sides of buildings – perfect for picture taking purposes. We also found a specialty dessert spot, as seen on Instagram, in Koreatown and enjoyed cool cotton candy confections courtesy of CottonHi. Yum!

I loved discovering these unexpected spots on our own.

Tour Warner Brother’s Studio

And the last of our many fun things to do in LA was a tour of Warner Brother’s Studio. This was fun on so many levels. We got to see sets, backlots, soundstages, the most enormous prop house imaginable and sit on the Friends couch at Central Perk. I asked the girls if seeing how television shows and movies are actually made behind the scenes took away from the “magic” that is Hollywood. Gladly, they said no and felt the inside scoop made it all even more appealing.

set of friends' central perk
Ally, Julia and Me on the Friends couch in Central Perk


This was a great time of year to get away before the craziness of the holiday season. In just four short days, we saw so much – I couldn’t even chronicle all of it in one post.  I’m so glad we did it and can’t wait for my next chance to go back to explore even more fun things to do in LA. Fingers crossed it won’t be for a college tour.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break! It’s good to be back and looking forward to the excitement of the holiday season.

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Oscar’s Travels – Our Pet Friendly Stay at The Wolfeboro Inn

gazebo at the pet friendly Wolfeboro Inn
The Gazebo


Leaving your pet behind when you vacation is never easy. My situation with Oscar got more complicated last year when he was diagnosed with diabetes. Now, he requires two insulin shots a day and while he is doing very well, I worry about him much more than before. So whenever possible, I like to travel with him.

We’ve rented a house with him before and that was pretty seamless. This past weekend, however, we decided to try something new and checked into a pet friendly hotel. On a whim, I called The Wolfeboro Inn on Lake Winnipesaukee and, by chance, they had a pet friendly suite available for just one night. We took it! The ground level room was very spacious and its patio door led us right out to the property’s grassy lawn. It was perfect.


my daughters and dog on the dock at the Wolfeboro Inn
A walk on the Inn’s dock


Oscar was certainly nervous and excited. He’s a Schnauzer; by nature he’s rigid with his schedule and routine. I knew it would take him time to adjust to this new situation. I made no plans to rush out for the first few hours and planned nothing where he couldn’t come along. In the evening, we dined in the hotel’s, Wolfe’s Tavern, so that we could check on him frequently. He never made a peep.

During the day, he joined us for lunch, a little shopping, a lot of walking and, for the first time since we’ve had him, swimming. We adopted Oscar when he was seven in 2013 and since then I’ve always wondered if he could swim. What better place to test the waters than the lake. I’m happy to say, he pulled off a doggie paddle like a pro.


oscar's first swim in lake winnipesaukee
He did it!


I really enjoyed this experience with Oscar. It brought a new dimension of fun to our travels and it certainly encouraged conversation. So many nice folks stopped to talk and give Oscar a pat on the head. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tiring – for the both of us.


my dog oscar sleeping
Wiped out!


There were so many new things for Oscar to experience and for me to take into consideration that we both crashed on the drive home. The funniest experience was when we walked into the hotel lobby in the morning for coffee and he began barking at all of the people who he seemed to think were invading his space. I imagine his mindset was, “why are all these strangers here in my big new house?” Well, that certainly woke me up.

The best part – no one so much as flinched. The hotel receptionist was obviously accustomed to the pet friendly environment and just smiled while a lovely couple, who were staying at the hotel with their two Maltese, came right over to say hi and calm Oscar’s nerves.

I think, for Oscar, a few more five-star stays would be just what he needs to get more comfortable. I would love to try the grand Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, NH and The Woodstock Inn in Vermont – both of which offer pet accommodations.

Do you travel with your dog? Any suggestions or recommendations?

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Writing a Travel Book: My Never-Ending Story

pictures and pages from Beth's first travel book

So, I’ve written a travel book. Well, some might call it a travel book, a travelogue or a travel memoir, but really what it is, is a travel experience. I like to call it “Eat, Pray, Love” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I started it in 2012 and here I am in 2016 working on what I hope to be a final revision.

The process of sticking with it has sometimes, most times, been tough. I know some fellow writers who will understand this and I wonder; why do I, why do we put ourselves through the pain?

The book is about my summer 2012 journey to Greece, Italy and Turkey. My parents, sister and her family, and my own family unit traveled together for our first, big family trip. The experience was so hilarious, momentous and memorable that I left the Mediterranean thinking, I could write a book about this. So I did. I call it “Musing Mediterranean.”

When I began MM, I didn’t have my magazine column, “Matters of Life & Beth” nor did this blog exist. My writing style was very different then. Over the years, I have found and come to enjoy the writing voice I use here and in my column.

Now, after going through multiple revisions and having the book professionally edited, I am starting over from chapter one to take what I have and rewrite it using the conversational voice that suits me now and the writer/author I want to be.

There are days when I feel like the edits will never end. There are always changes to be made and after reading and re-reading the story, what feels like a hundred times, I feel like it will never be done.

I have never been so dedicated to a personal passion so much as this. Tony will often say, “I can’t believe you are still working on that.” Honestly, neither can I. I am more of an immediate satisfaction type of person. If don’t see short term gain, then I usually move on to something where I can.

My book is different. I believe in it and I enjoy immersing myself in it even when I dread and severely procrastinate opening the file to get started. It’s a strange contradiction. I sometimes worry that if I dread working on it so much, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it; but I keep going. There are also days when I fear that it is boring or stupid; but I keep going.

If ever I understood a labor of love, I think I can fairly say that this book is mine.

I don’t know what the end game for this book will be, but for now I am going to work through this final, or near final, phase and hopefully soon revel in the glory of completion.

Do you have a labor of love?

To learn more about my travel book “Musing Mediterranean,” visit my website.

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Vacation Getaways – Good for the Soul

Vacation getaways - Bermuda Crystal Caves
Crystal Caves


My last post shared the cancellation of our European vacation. That was the bad news. The good news came when we learned we could transfer our funds to a less strenuous trip to Bermuda. On such short notice, we were lucky. We got back yesterday and had a wonderfully relaxing time. Before leaving, I consciously made the decision to put the blog on break. I thought about announcing this, but I still don’t fully trust social media and didn’t want to publicly reveal that we’d be away. Despite having a great neighborhood watch (remember my stealth Pokémon attack team?), I still feel funny about sharing too much about our vacation getaways online.

I did dabble just a bit with a few photos on Instagram and one on Facebook, but other than that, I was happy to unplug.

In fact, doing that was one of the biggest pleasures of my vacation. It got me thinking about why vacation getaways like this are such a good thing, even though I’m an unwavering homebody.

My Travel Pros:

Time to read a book or magazine – Ever since I began writing, I read less. Magazine flipping is what first got me into writing and now I never seem to have time for it. I so enjoyed going through my daughters’ Glamour and Vogue this past week and “The Silent Sister” by Diane Chamberlain was a page-turner.

Dining out – I have decided that if I ever win the lottery, my first indulgence will be a personal chef. I just love having food prepared for me.

A good swim – The warm water of Bermuda was so inviting, I floated in it for hours. I love the therapeutic quality of a long, salty swim, but here at home, the ocean is just too cold! Our vacation getaways aren’t always to someplace warm, but when they are this is one of the things I most enjoy.

See the world – I may be the queen of stay-cations, but even I know that seeing new places is a must. I’ve been to Bermuda before, but this trip we saw the Crystal Caves for the first time. It was my vacation highlight. Not only were the natural formations spectacular, but the story of the cave’s discovery was fascinating – learn more.


Bermuda’s Crystal Caves
Stalactites and Stalagmites in Bermuda Cave
Bermuda’s Crystal Caves


And what would the pros of our vacation getaways be without just a few cons:

I missed my baby – Ever since Oscar came into my life, I find leaving him terribly difficult. I’m so grateful to my sister for taking exceptional care of him, but I worried about him every day.


Beth's Schnauzer Oscar
I missed that face!


Dining out – The flip side of how much I love dining out is that after several days, I felt full. After a week, I was about to explode.

Did I mention I missed my baby!

Back to reality – the adjustment back from vacation mode is never easy. The empty refrigerator and mounds of laundry taunt me. But, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad to be back. I like my routine and I love my space.

While I’m often conflicted about travel, what I know for sure on this first day of August is that, whether I’m home or away, I’d better make the most of it, because summer will be gone before we know it.

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We Cancelled Our Trip to Europe

The Colosseum form out first family trip to Europe
A photo from our 2012 family trip to Greece, Italy and Turkey

Well, I want to say we postponed our trip to Europe because I fully intend to take this trip in the future – just not now. My feelings about this are deeply mixed. We were set to cruise from Rome to Northern Italy, then the French Riviera, then Spain. Nice, France was one of our stops.

When this most recent Bastille Day tragedy was reported, it was more than I could handle. Getting on a plane on a good day is something I can barely handle, but now one of the places we were planning to visit had been hit. I just didn’t want to go.

I actually said I wanted to cancel our trip to Europe after the Belgium incident (3/2016); Tony talked me out of it. I said if one more horrific thing happened in Europe I wouldn’t go. Then Istanbul happened (6/2016); Tony talked me off the ledge once again. He said, “Beth, Turkey is in a lot of turmoil right now, something like this won’t happen in the places we’re going – they aren’t targets.”

At this point I wasn’t evening factoring the 2015 attacks in Paris. Then there was Nice (7/2016). I didn’t have to fight. Even Tony was rattled knowing we were to be in that very place, very soon. It was all too much.

Yes, I know there’s a greater chance of being killed in a car accident, but that didn’t change the sinking feeling I had. And sinking was the last thing I should be thinking about when getting ready for a seven day cruise.

The fear was overwhelming and it took over. I wish it hadn’t, I wish I was stronger, but I felt better about not going than going.

I don’t want to run scared and I don’t want to let anyone “win,” but I’m not a risk taker and how could we enjoy ourselves wondering if wherever we were going to be was next? This time, my family agreed. The decision was made – I’m relieved and devastated at the same time.

I feel privileged to travel with my family. I love that my girls enjoy traveling with us and want to see the world. When we last visited Rome we never made it inside the Colosseum. This trip would have given us the chance to check that box. I am sad, angry, guilt-ridden and so torn about changing our plan.

I can only hope and pray that our world gets better and that we have the chance to schedule another trip to Europe very soon.

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