Tourist in Your Hometown: Glendale, CA

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hey there! I’m Erika, the blogger behind a quiet girl in a noisy city, where I blog about my life living and working in the Los Angeles area. My husband and I live in the city of Glendale, which is north-east of Los Angeles proper – close enough to experience the excitement of the city, but separate enough to be interesting in its own right. While dozens of guides to Los Angeles exist all over the internet, there are significantly fewer guides to Glendale, so I jumped at the chance to write an entry in Jess’ Tourist in Your Hometown Series about the city I call home.

Glendale is a beautiful city – it’s safe, green, pedestrian-friendly, and relatively inexpensive to live in. It has everything from big malls to mom-and-pop stores, grocery stores to small markets, and chain restaurants to taco stands. You could live your whole life here without ever venturing into neighboring Los Angeles. Here are just a few of my favorite places in Glendale.

Porto’s Bakery & Café is the perfect place to start your day. This authentic Cuban bakery serves a variety of breakfast sandwiches, pastries, breads, and cakes. If you’d rather wait until lunch, they also serve a large selection of lunch plates, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Some of their more popular items include stuffed potato balls, cheese rolls (a tasty cheese-filled pastry), and the Cubano sandwich. It’s one of the most popular places in Glendale, so be sure to arrive early. You’ll likely have to wait a while in line, but it’s so worth it!

Brand Park is a beautiful little park at the north end of Glendale. I’ve only done a bit of exploring here so far, but would love to return for more, as it’s one of my favorite discoveries in town. This park is home to a number of hiking trails, picnic areas, and other unique sights, such as the Brand Library, the Whispering Pine Tea House, and the Doctor’s House Museum. The Brand Library was closed for renovations on my last visit, but currently houses a variety of art galleries and live music events, and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays. The Tea House is open by reservation only, though the adjacent Friendship Garden is open weekdays and offers a beautiful, peaceful place for an afternoon stroll. The Doctor’s House is the former home of silent movie star Nell Shipman and is open for tours on Sunday afternoons. Even if you visit the park on a day when these attractions are all closed, it’s still a beautiful place for a walk through the thirty-one acres of trails.

For lunch, I highly recommend a stop by Glendale’s own Golden Road Brewery. Opened in 2011, Golden Road’s beers have already swept through Southern California, and it all started right here in Glendale. My personal favorite is the Golden Road Hefeweizen, though they also offer a large selection of ales, lagers, and other specialty beers. In addition to great, locally-brewed beer, their menu also boasts some truly delicious food options, many of which cater to vegan and vegetarian tastes. I enjoy the spicy pulled pork sandwich (there’s a vegan version if you prefer) and the rosemary roasted turkey melt. With sweet potato fries, of course. Golden Road is also a great dinner stop, though it’s gotten quite popular in recent years, which is why I prefer to stop by for lunch.

A trip to Glendale wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Glendale Galleria and the Americana at Brand. Two shopping malls, directly across the street from one another, take up a good ten city blocks in the center of Glendale. You could literally spend all day here, and people do – they come from all over Los Angeles to do their shopping. The Galleria was built first, and is an entirely indoor shopping center that includes a Target, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and JC Penney. It houses all kinds of boutique stores, from Coach to Guess to Charlotte Russe.

And if you can’t find what you’re looking for at the Galleria, you’ll likely find it at the Americana. The Americana, an outdoor mall with a central park that’s complete with a fountain, tends to house pricier brands (with the exceptions of H&M and Forever XXI). Here you’ll find Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic, and Urban Outfitters, amongst many others. If you’re looking for an Apple Store, there’s one in each mall. Crazy, right? Like I said, you could spend all day here. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of the shopping center, and often stroll over for a day of window shopping and people watching. 

To finish off your day, be sure to grab dinner at Kim’s Kitchen. It may not look like much from the outside, but Kim’s Kitchen is by far one of my favorite restaurants here in Glendale. This tiny shack is home to some of the best Korean BBQ outside of Korea. The owners are incredibly kind, and the food is simply fantastic. You’ll often catch me eating the spicy pork bulgogi or the dol soht bibim bap, both of which I highly recommend. Each meal includes a variety of side dishes, soup, and rice. As an added bonus, the prices are quite cheap, making a stop here an absolute must.

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of some of the best things Glendale, CA has to offer, and I hope to see you all here one day soon!

A Very Bavarian Adventure

Monday, February 23, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 8 Comments

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's been pretty much decided that this Labor Day while everyone else is enjoying a day out on the lake, Samantha and I will be living out our dream of becoming a von Trapp. Seven days spent traipsing through the Bavarian Alps on a diet of bratzel and melted cheese is my idea of the perfect vacation. I'm still trying to come up with the perfect hashtag for the trip so said people out on their boats can follow along and realize how their vacation pales in comparison. 

To prepare for this adventure, I'm reading up on all of the Austrian Wars of Succession, and when that gets a little dull and/or confusing without the help of a timeline, I'm filling in the gaps by reading The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki. Side note: The Meet the Habsburgs promotional photoshoot Sarah and Kiel were a part of is kind of my favorite thing ever.

The week's tentative agenda will include visits to: 

Flickr Creative Commons | Rossella Di Maria
Neuschwanstein Castle - Because who doesn't want to pretend to be Cinderella for a little while? Plus, the hike up the hill to the castle will help burn off some of the calories from my strict bratzel, cheese and streusel diet. 

Munich Olympic Park - I'm obsessed with the Olympics, which more than likely stems from my severe lack of any sort of athletic ability, so I'm looking forward to exploring the site of the 1972 summer games.

Flickr Creative Commons | Christian Scheja
Dachau - In high school english, we did an extended lesson on Holocaust history, and although I know that this will be an extremely sobering experience, I think it will help to give a frame of reference to all of the books and history lessons I've read through on the subject.

Pinakothek Museum - The Pinakothek is one of the oldest art galleries in the world and houses one of the most famous collections of Old Master paintings (according to Wikipedia). I'm a master of the "stare - stand back - sigh" method of observing art and in my mind it makes me look like an art expert.

Flickr Creative Commons | amador_emmanuel34

Sound of Music tour - To fulfill my dream of being Leisel. That is all.

Mönchsberg Walk - According to Rick Steves, the Mönchsberg Walk is the "hills are alive" stroll you can enjoy in the heart of Salzburg. And who am I to argue with Rick Steves?

Flickr Creative Commons | Donald Windley

Munich Residenz - This former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach is the largest city palace in Germany. This will act as a point of comparision to the many palaces of the Habsburgs in Vienna.

Flickr Creative Commons | Iker
Everything related to the Habsburgs - Castles, artwork, more palaces, armour, musical instruments, ancient Greek statues, I want to see it all. To include, but not limited to, the Hofburg Imperial Apartments, Hofburg Treasury, Schönbrunn Palace (because everyone needs a summer palace as well) and the Hofburg New Palace Museums.

Cathedrals - Not to brag or anything, but my semester in Paris made me an expert on gothic cathedral architecture. Seriously, I could talk about apses, narthexes and naves for hours. I preferred the French and British cathedrals to the Italian (which are the Real Housewives of New Jersey of cathedrals) and I'm looking forward to compare the German style as well.


Saturday, February 21, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I hope you are beginning to thaw from the beyond frigid temperatures the east coast suffered this week. Even Florida wasn't able to escape the record-breaking lows. Just in case it's still cold enough for boiling water to freeze midair (which I absolutely do not recommend, and neither does Buzzfeed), then it might be best to stay in bed with your coffee.

And while you are staying warm, take the time to plan your spring vacation. And while you're on that subject, it might not be a bad idea if you also plan how to save for it, too.

For those of you also participating in the #1800MinuteChallange, you won't want to miss Erin's 4 minute ab workout. You'll feel it the next day.

I'm in the process of creating my own washi tape gallery wall (because let's be honest, frames are kind of expensive when you have to buy a dozen of them) and enjoyed Samantha's creation out of snail mail.

I've been following Amanda's journey throughout Asia and now New Zealand. After over 1,000 days abroad, she has spot on advice.

15 minutes a day to a cleaner home? Sounds a little too good to be true. Even if it doesn't happen every single day, it's a much more realistic plan than frantically cleaning right before guests are set to arrive.

I want to send this article to my office building to completely overhaul our workspaces. They are office plans for introverts, which promote creativity, because the idea of sharing a completely open work environment is our biggest nightmare.

News alert: Selfie sticks are now banned in some museums. But don't worry, this ban isn't in place at the Louve so you can still get a selfie with the Mona Lisa.

Today You Can Find Me on Little City Adventures

Thursday, February 19, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 2 Comments

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hello everyone! Today I am guest posting on Little City Adventures while Abby is busy moving into her new home. If, like me, your home or apartment is severely lacking in space or storage, you won't want to miss these organization tips.

And the winner is...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The pinnacle of awards season is on Sunday night! It's the time of the year when we all rush to Redbox or the theater to watch the movies deemed best by the industry insiders (of which there has been much controversy this year.) While everyone else is paying attention to the winner give their acceptance speech thanking God, their mother, the studio, blah blah blah, I like to watch the faces of the runner-ups as outwardly they look thrilled for their colleague, but inwardly they are counting down the hours until they can drown their sorrows at the after-party. Unfortunately, some can't manage the positive expression as well as others.

I had every intention of having an Oscars best picture marathon, but that didn't happen. Since I don't have enough time to see them all, which ones do you recommend as must-sees? 

Perhaps watching actors win awards for movies you have never heard of is not your thing and the red carpet is more your scene. At the height of my Rachel Zoe obsession, I couldn't get enough of awards season. Sadly, we will no longer have Joan Rivers' witty and sometimes mostly bitting commentary on Fashion Police. 

It's time to make your predictions in anticipation of Sunday night. If you are watching with friends or roommates, make a game of it and see who can guess the most winners correctly. I've included the main categories, plus a few of my favorites, below.

Tourist in Your Hometown: Toronto

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 2 Comments

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I am so excited to kick off the Tourist in Your Hometown series again! And I'm even more excited that Mar is getting the ball rolling for us. If you haven't checked out her blog, it's a must read. Expect beautiful photos, especially of the Alaskan frontier if you read far enough back in her archives. Also, it's not too late if you would like to participate in this series as well. Just shoot me an email at stampinmypassport(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Hi friends! My name is Mar and I can be found over at T.O. & fro. I am a small town-raised, big city-living girl meant for a simple life surrounded by Mother Nature. I blog all about life as an environmental educator, outdoor enthusiast, animal lover, photography junkie and travel addict. 

My husband and I currently call the concrete jungle of Toronto home. For those unfamiliar with T.O., it is the capital of the province of Ontario and the biggest city in Canada, home to almost 6 million people in the Greater Toronto Area and growing! Having been raised in a small town/city of 75,000 and spending three years living in the Land of the Last Frontier, Alaska, moving to Toronto has posed its challenges for me. 

One way that I have survived the hustle and bustle of big city life is by embracing the idea of being a tourist in my town. People often take for granted everything their own city has to offer - you go from work to home and back and neglect the fact that you live in a thriving city, with an abundance of activities just outside your door. Why not appreciate the place you live, and even see it in a whole new light? No matter how long you've lived there, it's always an adventure to see the city you live in through the eyes of the tourist. Not only is a staycation going to save you time, money and stress, what you find just might surprise you. 

Here are some of my favourite things to see and do in the city of Toronto, in no particular order...

Toronto downtown skyline

Get a bird's eye view of the city from atop the CN Tower.

Blue Jays baseball game

Cheer on the Blue Jays at the Roger's Centre.

ferry to Toronto Islands

Take the ferry to the Toronto Islands.

chickadee in High Park Toronto
Look for urban wildlife in High Park.

Toronto Christmas Market lights
Visit the Distillery District's Christmas Market.

CNE food building

Overindulge in treats at the Canadian National Exhibition.

There are so many things to do in this city, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Have you ever been to Toronto?

Sponsor Spotlight: Daisy of Simplicity Relished

Monday, February 16, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | Be the first to comment!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Follow along: BlogTwitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.
I'm complicated. Or, at least I used to be. And while my mind is still full of crazy ideas and irrational thoughts, I'm on a journey to simplify. And my blog is all about that journey! On Simplicity Relished, I share about real food, minimalist style, community building, and faith and joy. I believe that being a minimalist makes my life more fulfilling. And I believe that the best things in life aren't things. If there's any aspect of your life that you hope to simplify, then I hope you'll join me!

What advice do you have for other bloggers/creatives to find inspiration and joy? 
Let go. I used to think that whatever I was doing on my blog, I had to keep doing. That nothing could change. But the reality is, our blogs ought to change as we do, as our circumstances do. Allow your blog to truly go with you, wherever you're at. And as far as real inspiration, there's nothing like going outside, to a garden, to the coast, or into the woods!

You're in the process of hunting for an apartment. What advice do you have for others looking for a new space to live?
It's all about tradeoffs. Make a list of non-negotiables, such as in-unit laundry, number of bedrooms, attached garage, etc. But keep an open mind! It's very possible that you won't find something that meets all of your requirements, but you'll be ready to make sacrifices for those things that you really want in an apartment.

How do you take your tea/coffee/latte?
I love all of these things so much! I strictly follow rules when steeping tea (so much so that I wrote about it). And I never add sugar or artificial flavors-- only honey or maple syrup!

If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be and why?
Right now? I'd love to have lunch with one of my friends from college. She reads me like a book, always makes me laugh till I cry, and I miss her like crazy.

What you should be reading: 


Saturday, February 14, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I am constantly adding to my list of books to read and always enjoy reading reviews by bloggers rather than Amazon or random Good Reads users for some reason. Typically the reviews are positive or have a good explanation for why it was a dud. Plus, knowing which "bestsellers" probably aren't worth my time is always helpful. These two are going to be added to my lists asap.

Months ago I said that I was going to start learning the basics of German before October is around the corner. Kate shared the absolute minimum travelers should know and thankfully I have these basics down. Now to learning my food and menu items because if we're being honest, this is primarily a foodcation (as usual).

I signed up to participate in Erin's 1800 minute challenge, which translates into 30 minutes of exercise every day for 60 days. Let's just say that this morning is being spent catching up on the days I missed this week. Cassie's motivational tips will help so I can finish strong.

At some point, we will feel some sort of social media jealousy. The worst for me is when people post photos of their "real life" that are messy but effortlessly styled at the same time. It's important to know that we all only share the best parts of our lives online and we can't take people's posts at face value.

As if I need any more reasons to travel more, Daisy shared some that are spot on. I love that she defines travel as simply getting out of your comfort zone and does not necessarily require months of saving to achieve.

Still working on achieving that "messy hair that is actually styled" look. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Midweek Break

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 8 Comments

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking for a little inspiration to brighten up your midweek? From a brightly colored interior door and centuries old architecture to impulsive hair-color decisions and vintage typewriters, where do you draw your inspiration? 

I love putting together mood boards whenever I'm lacking ideas. They are typically the product of staring at a blank blogpost longer than 20 minutes once the panic sets in that I will no longer be able to form coherent sentences or  write anything of any meaning ever again. Truth be told, last week's Lifestyle Blogging Guide was a similar product born out of the empty time waiting for New Girl and Mindy Project to come on.

When the weather is seasonally terrible and more of your time is spent indoors than outdoors, how do keep the creative juices flowing? Because I'm sort of at a loss and there may be more and more sarcastic ramblings. But maybe that's ok.

Also, if anyone else is as type-obsessed as I am, how perfect is this ampersand? I could care less about the rest of the typeface, but this is perfection.


Saturday, February 7, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 5 Comments

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Remember the duo that took YouTube by storm with their cover of Call Your Girlfriend? They are back with a rendition of Boom Clap that will make you feel all the feels of FIOS all over again.

Although I no longer have a spring break, there is something about warming temperatures that makes me want to get out of town. Here are five cities to jet off to this spring. Who's up for meeting in NOLA for beignets and low country boil?

Or perhaps Charleston?

For all of the photographers reading this, these tips on shooting portraits in cold weather are a must read. Especially if a good portion of your income comes from portrait sessions (and you don't live in Florida where it is warm-ish year round) then this is a must read.

In case you change your desktop background as much as I do, you will want to take a look here and here.

Natalie shared 8 reasons to visit Scotland. I only need one reason: Sam Heughen. Enough said; sign me up.

A lesson I still have yet to learn: Just because it's on sale does not mean I have to buy it.

Going along with this same topic, I love these tips on building a wardrobe you love.

Looking for a new side dish to freshen up dinner? How about lemon orzo with parmesan and peas.

A (Semi-Sarcastic) Lifestyle Blogging Guide

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 34 Comments

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

There are hundreds of posts on the Internet with a list of tools you will need to join the ranks of bloggers all over the world. Although a DSLR, Photoshop, an editorial calendar, and a plethora of social media apps are all well and good, for whatever reason the following items are game changers if you want to take your blog to the next level.


It's not that bloggers are anti-PC, it's jus that Mackbooks look so much better in photographs. And they sync perfectly with all of your other iDevices.


This one is fairly serious if you want more flexibility in your design, SEO plug-ins and would like to own your own content. As you can see from my URL, I have not made the switch

Starbucks gold card

Go ahead and invest in the Starbucks gold card. You will want to have a venti Starbucks drink in every Instagram you post so you might as well receive all of the benefits and free drinks.

Every shade of Essie and/or OPI nail polish known to womankind

Your nails must look their best holding previous Starbucks cup. Personally, Essie polish does not last long enough without chipping, but maybe that is part of their strategy to make you buy more. My current favorite OPI colors: bubble bath and the thrill of brazil.

An endless supply of peonies

I'll give everyone this one. Because fresh flowers make a whole space better.

Weekends not filled with Netflix marathons

Because constantly talking about your queue and taking photos of you on your couch is what everyone else does. They turn to lifestyle bloggers for inspiration of the things they should be doing on the weekends.

A constant companion to take your photos (or a tripod)

Or a selfie stick. Which I got for my birthday. #noshameinmygame If selfie sticks aren't your thing, then appoint one of your friends as blog picture taker. Their skills must include: shooting in manual mode, making your driveway/backyard look fabulous and a copious amount of patience. 

Book Review: The Opposite of Lonliness

Monday, February 2, 2015 | Stamp in My Passport| | 9 Comments

Monday, February 2, 2015

If you haven't read The Opposite of Loneliness yet, I highly recommend it. I have no doubts that if Marina Keegan were still alive, she would have continued to write brilliant stories and essays. One of her strengths, in my opinion, is to write vividly, making you feel like you are present in the story. She writes about the big truths and ideas in this world with such ease and her tone takes on that of those deep conversations that can only take place at 3 a.m. when everything finally begins to make sense. 

Her most popular essay, "The Opposite of Loneliness" went viral and was viewed over 1.4 million times after her tragic death in a car crash five days after her graduation from Yale.

There is a common theme woven throughout many of Keegan's essays and stories. We are so young. We have the world at our fingertips and we can change the world. College graduation is often thought of as the beginning of the rest of your life, but it is not guaranteed. Despite all of this, Keegan was able to leave her mark on the literary world and is an icon for our generation.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book: 

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating from college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” 

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.” 

“We're so young. We're so young. We're twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There's this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out - that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it's too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.” 

“I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans. There's less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting to involved. In war movies, a thousand soldiers can die gruesomely, but when the horse is shot, the audience is heartbroken. It’s the My Dog Skip effect. The Homeward Bound syndrome.” 

“We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.”