INDEGO AFRICA: SHOPPING FOR GOOD

As a helping professional and self-proclaimed fashionista, I love when both charity and fashion come together - and Indego Africa has done this, seamlessly. They are a non-profit organization run from NYC that partners with women from Rwanda and Ghana to create beautiful things, with all the profits going back to the education and employment of the creators. Indego Africa started in 2008 and since then, 89% of the women producing these lovely products have risen from poverty. That is an inspirational and amazing statistic that truly makes me happy to hear, I genuinely hope that more companies arise in the same fashion, with the same purpose. Here are just a few of the wonderful things I have found on their online shop. I am loving the straw baskets especially! Enjoy!

{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 }

{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }

{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 }

SHOPPING FOR GOOD, 

-MGN

COZY LA COFFEE SHOPS

{ at Caffè Luxxe in Santa Monica }

And they're instagrammable too... Every city has its restaurants, museums, landmarks, and hotels that give you some insight into the people and culture. But one of the things I love to do in a new city is visit the cafes and coffee shops, the place where people kind of dwell, work, meet, who live in and take part in the creation of the vibe of the city. Los Angeles has an interesting coffee scene as so many of it's residents are freelancers, writers, bloggers or fall under the large umbrella of creatives, without a permanent office space but with a need for inspiration, a warm environment and some very aethetically pleasing coffee. And so this is where a lot of the magic happens, or at least for me the caffeine buzz of ideas on a bright and early morning or rainy afternoon, the three days per year it rains in Los Angeles. Enjoy!


{West Hollywood}

{Beverly Hills + LAX}

CIVIL COFFEE
{Highland Park}

DOCUMENT COFFEE BAR
{Koreatown}

{Beverly Hills}

AMANDINE PÂTISSERIE CAFE
{Brentwood + Koreatown}

EIGHTFOLD COFFEE
{Echo Park}

{DTLA}

{Brentwood + Santa Monica}

G&B COFFEE
{Los Feliz, Larchmont Village and DTLA}

{Santa Monica + West Hollywood}

{Santa Monica}


LAMILL COFFEE
{Silverlake} 

INTELLIGENTSIA
{Venice, Pasadena and Silverlake}

DON FRANCISCO'S
{DTLA}

{Hollywood}

STORIES
{Echo Park}

MENOTTI'S
{Venice}

ALCHEMIST COFFEE PROJECT
{Koreatown}

{Venice + DTLA}

THE ASSEMBLY
{West Hollywood}

{Silverlake} 

{West Hollywood + DTLA} 

{Beverly Hills}

AROMA CAFE
{Studio City}

BRICKS & SCONES
{Larchmont Village}

CONSERVATORY FOR COFFEE
{Culver City}

{Venice}

{all over Los Angeles}

BLACKTOP COFFEE
{DTLA}

{Santa Monica + Little Tokyo}

{Brentwood, , Silverlake, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Studio City}


LET'S GET STUFF DONE, 

-MGN

THE M LIST: JANUARY


1. This West Village Apartment by Fernando Santangelo is everything I ever dreamed of in a New York apartment and it's no wonder that his work was featured in Architectural Digest last month. I absolutely love the subtle blue, perfectly fit for a sophisticated yet soothing place to live in the city. This shade could put me to sleep in two seconds just as much as it could inspire numerous cocktail parties that go deep into the night. I just love the use of shelving for books and art that line the entire height of the wall, it's perfectly collected and I think i'd have a hard time choosing what exactly to place in each spot. I love the idea, however, of being able to easily change the items on shelves and thus bring in new colors and texture for a little refresh here and there. The only thing missing is my glorious custom bar cart I would need to order, but other then that I would ready and willing to move right in!


2. Catching up on Television... After traveling to three cities in one week during the holiday I caught a terrible cold and was sentenced to bed, leaving me with no other options then to binge watch anything and everything. Some of the standouts were The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from the same writers as Gilmore Girls and absolutely hilarious, on point and interestingly relatable to the female empowerment movement happening now, despite the fact that the show takes place in the fifties. Every cast member is incredibly talented and for any Gilmore Girls fan like myself you will definitely notice some similarities in the wit and themes of each episode. I am a tad late to the magic of The Crown but given my obsession with the royal family I figured it would hit me at some point just how interesting this historical drama is, especially since Queen Elizabeth is still alive and well. It's phenomenal and I am sad they will be changing the cast to reflect the age progression in season 3. Continuing on with the British obsession I have, the London version of The Hills is finally legally available in the states. The openly semi-scrpited Made in Chelsea is now on Hulu and even though I have been watching since my British friend first turned me on to it 6 years ago, I am happy to be reunited with the show and share it with my roommate who just can't get enough. She told me not to mention this in my blog but this is a good way of checking to see if she actually reads it. Other shows that aren't new but new to me that I love are Cosmos and The Toys That Made Us: Barbie. Next on my list is DivorceThe Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and Victoria. Any additional recommendations are welcome!




3. The #TIMESUP movement... FINALLY! I was amazed by the solidarity and support women and men showed all people about standing up to inequity, sexual harassment and disparity in power. To think about how long people, mostly women, have been fighting to be treated equally is astonishing to me. And I know we have such a long way to go until there is real equity between genders, however, to see the conversation not be ignored or remain in a very small venue but rather recognized by some of the most influential women and men is inspiring and exciting to me. My hope is we really take this opportunity to teach our young people that the world is changing and keep it a persistent and evolving conversation in our society. And after Oprah's speech, I have so many good feelings about the future. 




4. Bottega Louie in West Hollywood... If you live in LA and have only ventured downtown a few times, chances are you most likely have stumbled upon the exquisite, very un-"LA" beauty of Bottega Louie. It's a restaurant serving great food, mostly with an Italian and American centered menu but also a very notable and visually stunning pâtisserie serving some of the most delectable and beautiful macarons and pastries. Before Ladurèe came to Los Angeles, Bottega Louie really was my number one macaron spot, where I would sometimes go and just lounge by the pastries, with a latte and my laptop knocking work out. The only draw back for me has been its' downtown location, an area I tend to avoid due to traffic and the fact that I am usually in a rush whenever there, since I live closer to the beach. But now I have word that they will be opening a second location in West Hollywood, not necessarily next door to Brentwood but a much more likely trek for me on a girls night out or lazy Sunday morning. And if you don't live near Los Angeles, don't fret, you can still order some of their amazing macarons and other treats online! I am excited to see what they do with the West Hollywood space, as their downtown location looks like a renovated old bank, with very high ceilings and carved wood detail, yet modern, almost with a New York or Chicago vibe. I am assuming the design of the new location will be much more contemporary so I guess I will just have to bounce between both for my fix. I will keep you posted on when the new spot opens, hopefully sometime this Spring. 



5. 2018 Travel... I can't believe how many trips I have already started planning this year despite it only being mid January and having just gotten back from Carmel by the Sea! I am already set to visit Vail, New York, Las Vegas, Cabo and Chicago for sure, and it's likely something else might get added into the mix given it's only the first month of the year. Most of these trips have been wedding driven, which is always a great excuse to go away and have fun. I haven't been to Vail or Cabo before, so I will be perusing Instagram and using the "save" feature to find all the great spots. Let me know if you have any recommendations for either place!




Excited to see what 2018 brings, hope you are too!

-MGN

CITY GUIDE: CARMEL BY THE SEA

Piggy Vacation... Yes, you read right, we took a vacation, with a cute little pig (aka my boyfriend's frenchie) Pierre, in my absolute favorite town in California, Carmel by the Sea. I’ve been to the very quaint and cozy destination many times, but this was my first time bringing a dog and I must say, he was very much welcomed! If you have been to Carmel, the little slice of California heaven just about two hours south of San Francisco and neighboring the equally as beautiful Big Sur and Pacific Grove, then you are well aware that dogs tend to be treated as equal citizens, perhaps even better. It’s the perfect place to bring a dog (or significant other) with its very charming atmosphere, a lazy upscale vacation spot most known for it’s artist community history, fairy tale inspired cottages, local restaurants and proximity to Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is one of, if not the most, beautiful golf courses in the United States, and conveniently located right next to Carmel. Part of the famous 17 mile drive, a woodsy nature preserve on the ocean with two stunning golf resorts, several beaches, famous natural landmarks and grand vacation homes, there is plenty more to discover for non-golfers. Carmel by the Sea proper is quite small, akin to a small ski-town in it's off season, but walking distance to the main beach. I love Carmel because it's beyond charming and beautiful, beaming with art shops and relatively affordable to stay in despite the very expensive real estate. Pretty much all the hotels in the town are very quaint inns with fireplaces and a bed and breakfast type feel. The architecture of the town appears a mix of Mission revival, Spanish romantic and Tudor, making the city quite picturesque and European. Almost every building has dutch doors and a fireplace, making this one of the most romantic and pleasant places to visit. 

A Weekend Itinerary 

FRIDAY AFTERNOON
Check into one of the many quaint inns located right in town. My favorites are Cypress Inn, Svendsgaard's Inn, Hotel Carmel, Monte Verde Inn, Pine Inn and L'Auberge Carmel in town. There are some beautiful reorts with more amenties very close to town, but not necessarily walking distance like the inns. Some of the best are La Playa Carmel (ocean views), Mission Ranch Hotel, Carmel Valley Ranch, and the Inn at Spanish BayMost of the inns and hotels have rooms with a fireplace and jacuzzi, which I definitely recommend! Head to The Cheese Shop and sample some of the best cheeses, olives, salamis and jams with the assistance of a knowledgeable salesperson, shutout to Aaron for finding us the very best truffle cream brie, a sheep cheese I can't remember the name of but am still craving and some salami that truly made my boyfriend's life for the ten seconds it took him to consume all 9 slices. If you are early enough, grab a fresh baguette and select a nice bottle of wine to pair, Aaron made our day when he informed us of the open container beach laws, and head to the beautiful dog beach before sunset. Find a spot on the viewers deck or lay a blanket down in the most perfect white sand - or if you are adventurous like me, claim a spot in one of the Cypress trees and enjoy your little picnic. 



{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 }


FRIDAY NIGHT
Drinks at the rooftop bar at Vesuvio, perfect for sunset if you can make it but also nice after with pretty string lights and a slightly younger crowd by Carmel standards. Head to dinner at Cassanova, just a block away and request the Van Gough table, acquired from a restaurant the artist used to frequent himself. The food is spectacular, I recommend the olives, gnocchi, and cheeses to start. The mushroom risotto, the cannelloni, fettuccini and quail are great entrees. The vibe is super rustic and feels just like a charming small Italian eatery should. Head to the Cypress Inn for some live music and cocktails by the fireplace, the schedule here.


{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }


SATURDAY MORNING
For early risers like myself I reccomend a brisk walk, run or bike ride around town, to the beach and into some of the small residential areas. Make sure to bring a map (every inn in town has them) so you can find your way back. After that I like to stay in my workout gear, grab a coffee and a pastry at Carmel Bakery (I happen to love their giant cinnamon buns, perfect size to share... or not) and take a stroll through town. If you're more into a boozy brunch, I recommend heading to Terry's lounge, especially if you have a dog, we brought little Pierre and he got to see all the other cuties out in their best lunchtime attire. The spot has a great cocktail menu, I love the French 75 (there and everywhere) and of course there is a doggie menu too. Carmel has so many cute shops and art galleries, some of my favorite being The Cottage of Sweets, Boatworks, Diggity Dog, Pilgrim's Way Bookstore & The Secret Garden and the Carmel Plaza. Stroll the many cute little courtyards and art galleries all over town.



{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 }



SATURDAY AFTERNOON
Take a drive into the beautiful 17 mile drive gate entrance, right at the tip of Carmel by the Sea, grab a map pay the $10 (cash only) toll for access to the scenic route and various beaches and landmarks. If you spend $35 or more at Pebble Beach you can get your $10 toll back, just let the salesperson know. Drive on into the Pebble Beach Lodge and either grab a picnic basket and deli sandwiches from the Pebble Beach Market or enjoy nice lunch on the 18th hole at The Bench. They have limited outdoor seating but if you put your name in first, you can grab a drink at the bar and walk around the beautiful view while you wait. I also love coming here an hour or two before sunset, each outside table is equipped with a central fire pit and I believe they have blankets too. If your're picnicking, there are so many beautiful spots on the 17 mile drive map to sit and enjoy your lunch. Particular points on the drive I love are the lone cypress tree, cypress point lookout, bird rock, and the various little beaches in along the ocean coastline. In addition to going to The Bench at Pebble Beach for a sunset cocktail, the Inn at Spanish Bay also has some nice fire pits to sip a cocktail by and catch the sunset at. And of course for any avid golfers, playing Pebble Beach or Spanish Bay are both dream destinations. 


{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 }



SATURAY NIGHT
Start with a wine tasting at Albatross Ridge or grab a walk by wine passport to sample wines from about 12 different tasting rooms before a lively dinner at Dametra Cafe, a town favorite with live music every night and delicious mediterranean food. Some favorites here are pretty much all the pastas, but I recently tried the dametra pasta and it was wonderful. My boyfriend loved the lamb shank, other great options are the spanakopita, margarita del sol pizza, fruitti di mare and baklava for dessert. Other great dinner spots are listed below the itinerary. Carmel by the Sea doesn't have much "nightlife" past 10pm so I recommend grabbing a bottle of wine or your spirit of choice from Lopez Liquors and some fudge squares from The Cottage of Sweets before heading back to the hotel for a movie in bed by the fire or jacuzzi bubble bath. 


{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }



SUNDAY MORNING
Sleep in and have coffee in bed, before lazily strolling to relax at the hot springs at Refuge Spa. Then head to town for a late breakfast at one of the many charming spots, particularly La Bicyclette, The Cottage, or a champagne brunch at La Playa Carmel. Pick up some last minute souvenir trinkets, I happen to love my Carmel by the Sea jersey shirt from one of the many tourist shops on Ocean Avenue. If you have time, take one last beach stroll and grab a coffee before you get back into the car and head home, hopefully much more relaxed then you came! 


{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 }


Carmel by the Sea 
City Guide Round Up

DINE
Porta Bella (dog friendly)
Terry's Lounge (dog friendly)
SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

2017, A YEAR IN REVIEW

As we move into a new year I am not as keen on setting resolutions or goals as I am about reflecting on the last year, particularly the good things that happened and the lessons I have learned. This year for me was pretty great, I started a really significant relationship, became more confident in a new role of mentoring students, strengthened friendships and (hopefully) found more focus blogging. Perhaps the most significant difference this year, making it stand out amongst others, was the amount of traveling I did for weddings, bachelorettes, and just plain fun. It was a privilege I don't take for granted and has me feeling very grateful to have seen so much of the world. And if I dare add, a bit more intrigued about all the other places I still would love to go. But on another note, I have also learned a lot of real important lessons from a lot of real life hardships - conflicts at work, the dissolution of friendships and some growing pains best handled with experience. These things have been difficult, but I have chosen to see them as good tests in strength and vulnerability, two things I think matter the most when being faced with any insurmountable problem. Without struggle, there is really no pleasure, right? Overall, I think this year has proven pretty awesome. Here are my top five memories from 2017. Enjoy!

{ Pestana Palace in Lisbon }

1. #Fantastic Voyage 2017.... (eloquently named by my boyfriend) and perhaps fitting for the amount of travel we seemed to cram into a two week vacation - Lisbon, South of France, Amalfi Coast and Israel - surviving just the flights alone have me feeling like a superhero. It truly was my highlight of the year, I just loved every place we went, every meal we rapidly consumed, and every magical sunset I can't wait to frame sometime soon. I had been to every country except Portugal but the experiences and cities we visited were truly spectacular in their own right. The south of France was too large an area to really master in four days but I think we made very good use of our time. I still wish I was eating pizza on the most magnificent terrace our tiny hotel room in Positano provided. I think the terrace was actually larger then the room itself, to which I actually preferred. Lisbon was such a pleasant surprise and I definitely have a visit to nearby Porto on my bucket list for the blue and white azulejos alone. My second time in Isreal allowed me to see a much more cosmopolitan side of the city and the wedding we attended in nearby Caesarea was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. 


2. My epic 'drake on cake'... How could I not include this delicious and beautiful cake? It was perhaps, my best one yet if I do say so myself. Drake is one of my favorite rappers and I just LOVE this little trend of writing his lyrics on cakes. Of course the cake was designed by the most incredible bakery, SusieCakes, in my favorite marble flavor. And the birthday table I decorated to match I think did it justice! Not sure how long I'll be doing Drake on Cakes for my birthday, but I know this one would be tough to beat. 


3. Reuniting with my college girlfriends... and seeing our first Zeta wed at our alma matter! It was the first time I had been back since graduation and quite nice walk down memory lane. I went back to my sorority house, the psychology building and all the old bars we used to tear apart in our themed party costumes back in the day. It was a fun way to reminisce and kind of like seeing your grandmother's house as an adult, the campus looked somewhat smaller to me, a little less overwhelming perhaps. After seeing and participating in the bigger world, I guess the campus appeared more nostalgic, as it is after all, just a moment from the past. In true Illini fashion my friend had her reception overlooking the football stadium, lucky for me, since I not so surprisingly didn't see too much of it during my time as a student. 

{ Bazaar Mar in Miami }

4. Trips to Chicago, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Cancun, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs... So much travel! All except for Miami are places I have been before, however, each trip definitely provided a new experience. Going to Miami for my first (and second) time this year I had no idea how much I would love it. Palm trees, bright colors, latin music, cocktails by the beach? It's got all the makings of a great tropical resort but within the context of a large, world class city. Going back to NYC was also a major trip as it was my first non-bachelorette girls trip in quite some time. I went with two other girlfriends from LA to visit a good friend who recently moved back to the big city and ever since she left we have been dying to visit her. It was a real treat to trot around the city and have a Carrie Bradshaw moment for a weekend, I always saw myself living there and even though I love LA, still have that small bit of temptation to Whitney Port it and try my luck in NYC. But the weekend was quick and wonderful, leaving me with just more desire to head back soon. Cancun was a super romantic and relaxing vacation, definitely different from my first trip on Spring Break in college and a very memorable one. I have seen more airports and hotel rooms this year then I can count and it's been incredibly fun and exciting, but also more confirmation of just how much I love Los Angeles and my life here. There really is no place like it and I am very lucky to call it home! Looking forward to spending more of next year here and less on the road. 


5. My ten year high school reunion... was not all it's cracked up to be but even better, it was so fun! My high school knows how to have a good time and that it was. I think people probably stayed up until 4am, despite my venture to deep dish pizza before midnight, no wonder we had a reputation. I was impressed with how nice and mature everyone was, so many familiar faces and nice times looking back on those four, incredibly influential years. More about that here. Most of all I realized how lucky I was and still am to have such great friends for his long. Even though we live in different cities and lead our own lives, it's always the same when we reunite and it's really one of the best things about life. 


What memories from 2017 are you most grateful for? 

-MGN