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Clinging to our Motherland
My LA story, Posts, Soapbox

Clinging to our motherland: US Gov and guns

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me.  As many of you know my son is in his senior year at school.  But what does this opening sentence have to do with clinging to our motherland: US Gov and guns?

Back to School Night

Well last week we had “Back to School” night.  It’s where you go to each class the kids have in their schedule and see the teachers and get a breakdown of the class and what they’ll be studying for the year.

Master H is taking AP (Advanced Placement) US Government.  I thought nothing of it until one of the parents asks whether they’ll be discussing other systems of government.  The answer was a categoric no.  Much like the HSC in Australia the APs are taught to a curriculum guideline, the topics of which can be found in a test. That test is taken by everyone in the country taking that subject. And, a quick look at other systems isn’t covered by the syllabus–or on the test.

For those newer readers, we’re at a local private school in LA not an international one. Although, LA being LA, there are a number of expats or people who have moved to the US for one reason or another.

US Gov

I got a bit peeved by the teacher’s response. I mean he chose the subject (there were no other real choices), US Gov is US Gov right?

When I studied Legal Studies at school it was essentially studying the Australian legal system.  We covered other systems in the world but we focussed on ours.  It makes plenty of sense to understand what other countries do in order to better understand ours.

And while the answer was a categoric no she did suggest that they would weave into their discussion other systems because of the expat nature of the group. (The small class had a Canadian family, British/German, Aussies (us) and Italian. So when I eventually calmed down about how she categorically answered the question, it isn’t going to be all bad.

Expat Facebook group

Before I had a chance to calm down I posted a comment on an Expat Facebook group I belong to. I wrote:

“Here’s my gripe: couldn’t she just say there’s no time in the curriculum to discuss the other systems it’s purely a US Govt subject? That would have sufficed.

“And am I wrong to be so sad that my son will know so much more about the US system of Government and the ins and outs of the Electoral College than the Westminster system?”

I was expecting some empathy from the Aussies amongst us and some lamenting from others about the downside of Expat life where the kids often know more about the country in which they live than their homeland–their motherland.

Instead, after the Australians supported me, I was barraged with comments accusing me of trying to change the AP courses and advising me that the AP system is very strict and must be adhered to.  And this:

“With about 200 countries in the world, how could they effectively compare other systems of government while simultaneously going in-depth about the US?”

But I wasn’t asking for that … Just a bit of discussion if it fits, that’s all.  (And remember I didn’t ask the question, one of my American compatriots–in the parental sense–asked).

Potluck night

With all that behind me I went along to the Potluck night we threw for the Senior parents. We were chatting away about stuff as you do.  We were talking about what subjects our kids were doing and one of the dads said, “Are you sad that [he’s] doing US Gov and will know more about our messed up system than not your own?”

Oh my God. Hallelujah.  Thank you. Yes!

Why wasn’t one of my fellow expats able to just say/ask/empathise like this all-American dad formerly of New York and more recently living in LA?

Did someone say guns?

Well one guy did.  Made a huge statement didn’t he? We are literally walking around in disbelief.  Vegas is so close to LA, it’s in our backyard.  There’s someone you know in Vegas every week.  In fact there were people I knew in Vegas at the time and thankfully they were fine and away from the trouble.

But there’s nothing more obvious than an Australian in a gun debate. Especially in America.  I blogged about it early on when I was here for my first mass shooting. (Yep, like it’s an earthquake or hurricane, celebrity divorce or star meltdown)*.

My daughter was talking about it in school the day we woke to the news of the Vegas tragedy. One of her friends said she believed in the right to protect herself (I’m guessing she means her family not actually 15 year-old her). Miss H looked at her startled; it wasn’t something she was expecting to hear in LA amongst her friends.

Miss H said, “If there were proper gun laws then they wouldn’t have a gun in the first place would they?”

I’m happy to say I give my kids an Australian perspective when it really matters.

Australians actually have it all wrong

But actually us Australians have it all wrong.  We do. If there’s one single thing we are polar opposites with America on it’s our attitude to guns.  And never the two shall meet.  Basically, we’re like guns suck, they kill people. And Americans (not all thank-you but the ones giving you a bad rap) are like guns are so good, I get to protect myself and it’s my right to have one. So there.

Every time there’s a mass shooting in America us Australians come out like Eddie Murphy in his classic standup routine “I got an ice-cream“.

Yeah, we go

“We don’t have guns,

“You got a problem,

“We can’t afford them,

“Cause they can’t sell them,

“You have to have a licence

“And it’s really hard.”

And Americans  go, “Oh My God I’m so sorry, how do you cope?”

Then we pull out the Port Arthur story and go, “Take that!”

Then the conversation goes one of two ways.

  1. Well it’s our right to bear arms it’s in the second amendment so there. OR
  2. You know you’ve had other mass shootings don’t you? Yeah, but you never talk about them do you?

Then we get all funny (because we like to win too). We have to concede defeat. One or two situations have tragically happened (the Lindt Cafe hostage situation freaked me out).

(BTW there were three deaths including the hostage taker and 18 injured).

Yeah, all of a sudden because we let a couple of incidents slip through to the keeper in the last 21 years, that means our rules suck.  So basically it didn’t work.

“Take that Australia. We win.”

Yep. Let’s face it, when it comes to the number of psychotic mass shootings in the last (let’s just call it 10 years) you win America.

So Australia got it wrong after all.

 

Nightly Talk Shows

But not all Americans believe semi-automatic and automatic guns should be out there for anyone to buy. And use. And kill people.

I recorded every late night show to see how the comedians handled the latest tragedy. I follow them all on Twitter and I’ve tweeted and retweeted anything vaguely intelligent on the subject.

But, the problem with the way the situation here is that these guys are preaching to the converted. We share their posts on Facebook, we tweet them and post photos on our Instagram like the Pray Policy Change for America. They unite with the Australians, we look at each other and go “yeah, exactly”, we puff our chests out and wear a grin from ear to ear.

The same thing happened before Trump got elected. They think common sense should prevail.

But change won’t happen unless we stop preaching to the converted.  And not by preaching to the non-converts either. I don’t know how to talk to these people but somehow there’s a way. And once we work out that way, then we’ll start to see a difference.

But to start there are two ways. First is through education: get into the classrooms. It’s going to be a generational change that’s needed because it will never be a mindset change. Second, stop the bloody NRA from being allowed to donate money to bribe the politicians. Actually, just disband them. If politicians aren’t being paid to keep guns legal I will guarantee you their perspective will change.  And if it doesn’t, see step one.

And, because I’m one of those “converteds” here is a story including a video with some powerful statements from said Late Night hosts. Powerful statements that will fall on deaf ears yet again.

 

Immigrants

Curve ball … empathy. As I was writing the first part of this post I started thinking.

Immigration is such a huge topic and it’s so deeply dividing (what topic isn’t these days?) An expat is just a temporary immigrant really.

When you leave your family and friends behind, move to a new country to start a “better life” (for whatever reason) it’s pretty bloody hard to start afresh. You have to make new friends, experience different ways of doing things and assimilate into your new world.  Take a US Gov class instead of Australian Legal Studies.

Many people say America and Australia aren’t that different–they’re essentially the same right? (Well, my series on the differences between Americans and Australians show just how different they can be lots of times).

So what if you move to a country that’s nothing like your motherland? How much harder must it be then? We experienced it in China as expats but not as immigrants.

Just a thought if you’re down on people for clinging to their motherland.  Cut them some slack. They want to be in your country (OK, most of them–don’t get nitpicky on me) and they want to assimilate.  But sometimes, when you move away, the bond is stronger and the memories grow fonder and fonder.

Chin up!

xx It Started in LA xx

* Don’t forget to #prayforTori

Ever been tailgating? If you're Australian it may not be what you think. It Started in LA went along to a USC game to see what tailgating really is all about
Posts

When was the last time it rained in LA?

updated 4:00 Thursday 17/9/15 LA time with James Corden Late, Late Show video…enjoy

When you ask when was the last time it rained in LA—or your hometown—you can’t often say. But here in LA we can. We get very excited when it rains it’s like one of those rare moments in time because it’s such a rare occurrence that every time it does, it’s right on par with, “where were you when Princess Diana died?”

The last time it rained in LA was over summer and we weren’t here. I knew about it though because everyone talked about it. See? Not unlike today. It’s like a novelty. It is a novelty. Like snow. Even before it rains the forecast of rain gets everyone talking about rain: will it rain? I hear it’s going to rain. Better cancel my appointments tomorrow; it’s going to rain.

Yes, you read right. I’m not exaggerating. LA has never been able to cope with the rain—people aren’t used to getting wet, they don’t know how to drive and it can be chaotic out there. So, many people cancel their meetings, work from home and generally cocoon at home for the day.

Yep. Real. Live. Rain. #rain #roadswillbechaos #laneedsrain #la #socal #drought #turnoffwateringsystems #aussiebloggerinla #aussieblogger #lablogger

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My “Realtor” told me about this little-known LA fact when we were first here and looking for houses to rent. I thought it was so far fetched and just assumed because she had such a flexible job that she was able to do this. But then last week at my first PA Board Meeting—yes, more on that in a second—some ladies were telling me exactly the same thing. Lucky it rarely rains here in LA or business may not survive.

And just to prove it, here’s the rain in LA according to James Corden

 

Middle School Chair

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. I am indeed our school’s new Middle School Chair. It’s very formal here in PA land and for two years it’s scared me. But this year I decided to put my hand up and get a little more involved. And since my daughter is our school’s first Australian Middle School President (unqualified) I thought I’d join her for the ride.

I hear you ask: “WTF is Middle School Chair?” Well, it’s the liaison between the PA Board and the Class Reps. Yes, such a role exists. The good thing is by the time you get to Middle School there’s nothing much to do and I get a little insight into life in an American PA.

We had our first Board meeting last Friday. It was very fancy, in a restaurant. We had assigned seats and our place holder was a gorgeous cupcake in school colours (no photo, I ate it before I could think that would’ve been a nice idea–oops). We talked about the year, what’s on the agenda then did a lot of lovely small talk about the holidays and life in LA. I’m pleased to say I survived, came out unscathed and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact I actually had a nice time. To my surprise lunch was on the PA. And, no surprises, not a drop of wine to be seen. I’ll have to work on that.

Tailgating

In Australia tailgating is where you’re driving and you ride right up the person-in-front-of-you’s arse and are really, really annoying. Well in America it can mean that too but the more fun meaning is pre-(American) football fun. There’s even a website for it: tailgating.com. Not to mention several Pinterest pages, hashtags et al dedicated to the all-American tradition.

No ordinary carpark--each tent (in team colours) marks a different tailgate

No ordinary carpark–each tent (in team colours) marks a different tailgate

And I have to say the Americans win. They beat us Aussies. They have it down. They do it bigger and better hands down, in fact we’ve got a lot to do in order to catch up with this widely followed professional drinking phenomenon. It’s probably also the closest thing culturally that you can get between Australians and Americans. And yet, the Americans are better at it than us. How can that be? Just check this out.

tailgating

Tailgating is a sport all on its own in America

 

What is tailgating? To quote tailgating.com (who quotes a dictionary) it’s to:

“Host or attend a social gathering at which an informal meal is served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium”.

That’s a very elongated way of saying, pre-game frolicking, a bit like having a party in the carpark on the Boxing Day test at the MCG or the endless partying on Melbourne Cup Day. Or, as one American friend put it, “you drink and eat as much as you can before the game, so much so that after the first quarter you don’t care what happens in the game and you go out and continue to drink.”

It's a full bar at this tailgating party

It’s a full bar at this tailgating party

Then the tents come down ...

Then the tents come down …

... and everything packs up into the "trunk" of the SUV.

… and everything packs up into the “trunk” of the SUV.

What about the (American) football game?

Well, like I said, come the second term and you’re ready for more drinks and in search of a bar. Well, not really but we did get stuck at the bar.

I do need to take a minute though to talk the phenomenon that is College Football. It’s out of control. It’s as big as an AFL match. No. It’s Bigger. Bigger because of the pomp and ceremony (and fireworks) that go on before the game.

 

The fact that these kids are (supposed to be) at “Uni” to get an education and attract a 100,000 strong crowd each week (as is the case, I believe, for any USC or UCLA game here in LA) and that doesn’t even include the TV rights and the millions of people who choose to tune into College football each week—even more so that the NFL in the case of many households throughout America.

Imagine this: Take the passion of supporting your football team, add to it a bucket load of school pride and school spirit (we’re talking A LOT) and you have a stadium full of one-eyed supporters. Add to that the tailgating festivities and they make Collingwood supporters (or Manly supporters?) look like amateurs. The atmosphere is electric and a must-do bucket-list item for any sports fan. Even if you still don’t get American football.

And, now that I’ve done it I can’t wait to do it again.

 

xx It Started in LA xx

 

PS: Did you know LA has an underground Metro system? Neither did I. We took the Metro to the game though and it was so easy—a great way to get downtown. And just to prove it:

Look it up if you’re here.

 

LA Restaurants, Posts

The Church Key

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. People complain about coming to the US and getting sick of eating hamburgers, hot dogs, salads with mayo all over them and fries, fries, fries. That’s not America’s fault people: it’s yours. You can’t use that excuse here in LA. The only excuse you have is ignorance—of not knowing where to go. But thanks to Google and blogs like mine you can find great restaurants to eat and with a bit of planning ahead of time you can check out some of LA’s great dining spots.

(Don’t forget to tip between 18-20% though—10% or rounding up the bill doesn’t cut it here! Blog post to follow).

Let’s start with the fabulously located The Church Key.

The Church Key… Just ✋. 😍 #canthandlethecute #thechurchkey #latergram #bestdonutsever @thechurchkeyla

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The bar. Love it @thechurchkeyla #thechurchkeyla #ladining #lafoodie #aussiebloggerinla #aussiebloggerinla #Itstartedinla

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It’s on W Sunset in West Hollywood right amongst some of the popular hotels.

Firstly you’ll thank me the minute you walk in as the décor is LA hip. You can enjoy cocktails at the bar and take advantage of the tapas/dim sum-style carts that wheel around specials with anything from tuna to mini shepherd’s pies and samosas to popcorn to deep-fried & breaded bacon!!! (I know sounds kinda too much but nothing in this place was terrible so I imagine it was anything but, still we weren’t game to try!).

Last one I promise! I want one of these drinks carts @thechurchkeyla #ladining #lafoodie #Itstartedinla #aussiebloggerinla #thechurchkeyla

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The menu is a sharing one—my preference to get a little taste of everything and not forced to pick just one thing. We sampled:

AGED CHEDDAR FONDUE—Asparagus, Artichokes & Carrots / Pretzel Twist

AHI TUNA TARTARE—Apricot / Greek Yogurt / Pistachios / Serrano Chili / Pappadam

BRUSSELS SPROUT “CAESAR SALAD”—Tomato Raisins / Sunflower Seeds / Parmesan Cheese

RICOTTA GNUDI—Corn Espuma / Parmesan / Brown Butter / Chives (my personal fave)

 

JIDORI CHICKEN “TIKKA MASALA”—Dehydrated Mango / Cilantro Raita / Basmati Rice

And next time I’m going to try (just don’t know what I’m going to swap for):

ENGLISH PEA “HUMMUS”—Vadouvan / Cherry Tomatoes / Grilled Paneer / Garlic Chips / Nigella Naan

OSOSKY’S POTATO PIEROGIES–Peach Butter / Aged Gouda / Crème Fraîche / Chives & the

CRISPY PORK BELLY—Gochujang Glaze / Cashew Butter / Radish / Pea Shoots / Cilantro / Sesame

RIGATONI PASTA—Fennel Sausage / ”Red Sauce” / New Olive Oil / Parmesan Espuma

TAPIOCA CRUSTED TAI SNAPPER–Broccoli Rabe / Sushi Rice Cake / White Soy Vinaigrette

Dessert |Filipino Key Lime Pie with Calamansi

Dessert |Filipino Key Lime Pie with Calamansi

 

Be sure to make it to the toilets as there are a few photo opps!

I lied. A couple more for the blog. Link in bio 🍷😍🍸#thechurchkeyla #lafoodie #ladining #livingthedream #myreality #weho #aussieexpat

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So next time you’re in LA eat somewhere nice! Here’s the website for more info & to make a booking.

I look forward to the thank-yous in the comments ;-).

xx It Started in LA xx

 

PS: For more LA Dining suggestions visit my Pinterest page.

My reality
Celebrity, My LA story, Posts

JLo, David Duchovny & Forrest Gump

I’ve been neglectful again because I had friends in town last week then a busy weekend catching up.  But showing friends around LA is the very reason this Blog started–to share my surreal life–so I can’t abandon ship on that.

It was a full-on “Only-in-LA” week so I thought I should share it with you.

It started on Saturday when friends landed in LA.  We went out to catch some lunch at Urth Caffe on Melrose and do a bit of people watching.  It never disappoints and it’s always busy.

One of my favourite phrases when I’m out is “Oh,” said with great drama and excitement, “he (or she) is someone.”  It’s true many people have that look about them.  And I probably “see” lots of people out but just don’t recognise them.  But as useless as I am at identifying people, the paparazzi never fail to impress me.  One of my favourite things I look out for–maybe more than celebrities–is the paparazzi trying to snap that pic that might pull them in a small fortune.

Hiding behind the bushes was a pap doing his best to stay in cognito whilst trying to pap a pic.  I looked and looked but couldn’t see who he had his eye on.  Wonder if he got the pic he needed.  Welcome to LA Andrew & Chris!

The next night we had dinner planned at one of my favourite West Hollywood restaurants.  With one pap out the front I felt like I’d let the side down; this would be a quiet night.  We sat down at our table straight away (unheard of) and it was really quiet at the bar.  Given the request was a bit of “Celeb Spotting” I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t delivered–or didn’t look like delivering.

“Oh, it’s such a shame,” I started saying.  “A couple of weeks ago Chris Noth–Mr Big–was here.”

“Oh, love him,” said my friend.

“I know, me too.  I’d love to see him.” No sooner had I said it but there at the bar was the man himself.  “Mr Big” sitting at one of the bar tables.  Sigh.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” I said, “it’s him.”

How cool we all thought immediately giving him the once over like he was there for the sole purpose of giving us someone to dissect.

“He looks good.”

“He needs a shave.”

“He’s grayer than I imagined.”

“He’s still hot.”

Just getting into the running commentary and he was saved only by JLo walking in.  Yes.  JLo.

“Don’t look now guys but JLo has just walked in.”

“That’s not JLo,” says MR H.

“Is it Beyonce?” asks our mate.

“Oh no, you’re right,” I say, “It’s not JLo.  Bummer.”

Until common sense prevailed and my girlfriend announces, “Of course it’s JLo.  Who else looks that flawless and perfect?

“We’re not in Glen Iris (Melbourne) or Lilyfield (Sydney), we’re in West Hollywood and you’ve seen her here before so you know she comes here!  How can it be anyone BUT JLo?”

Well yes, now that you put it like that.  Good point.

As she’s escorted to her table it becomes clear that she’s going to be seated in the booth DIRECTLY OPPOSITE US.  We only had one way to look and that was straight at her.  Poor us.  Our poor boys.  There goes any decent conversation for the rest of the night.  (Actually, you’re right.  Poor boys nothing).

And yes, there were a few more paps waiting outside when we left.  I wonder who tips them off.

Cut forward a couple of days and we managed to arrange to get out to Paramount to have a quick look at the sound studios at Mr H’s work.  Even if we don’t get to see anything I at least know my way around the lot and can conduct a mini tour of my own.

Well there we are in the “ADR” room (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) and I look up at the talent who’s on a break and recording some lines.  I look again.  And again.  And again because I can’t quite work it out.  It looks like David Duchovny.  With make up on.  I look again.  He catches me (again) but I don’t care because it’s not him but I need to know WHO it is.

Meanwhile right next to me I’m completely oblivious to my friends–one apparently having heart palpitations, the other apparently trying to get my attention so we can make eye contact and telepathically give each other the thumbs up.  We’re.  Standing.  In.  The.  Same.  Room.  As.  David.  Duchovny.

Nope.  I’m too busy checking out the David Duchovny look-a-like, looking at him up and down and trying to work out who he is and how remarkably he has some of his mannerisms as David Duchovny.

Again, we’re in Hollywood, David Duchovny has started shooting a new series Aquarius on the Paramount lot (that one of my friends is producing) and he has make-up on but it doesn’t occur to me that that guy IS David Duchovny.  I don’t deserve to live in LA.

Later as we’re driving a cart around the lot who should follow us but the man himself.  My friends were sitting at the back of the cart (looking out) and had no choice but to look straight at him.  Lucky them.  I wonder what he was thinking: “who are these people I keep bumping into”.  Or of course there’s always the fact he didn’t notice us at all.  Nah … not possible.

Welcome to LA Andy & Jess.

Forrest bench

Forrest Gump’s bench now sits at the Paramount lot | It Started in LA | itstartedinla.com

Shanghighs and Shanghlows

I could end the story there.  But I won’t.  I’ve joined in an Instagram project called #myreality where we’re posting a pic a day on various topics.  It’s been fun to be part of and gets me thinking about what pics I can post and also what pics I’ve already taken that I can share.  (You can see my pics on my Facebook page in an album I’ve created of the same name).  And if you’re not already following me on Instagram I’m @itstartedinla.

So it got me thinking I must be giving the wrong impression about #myreality.  Yes of course I see amazing things (straight from movie sets) daily and get to do lots of fun things I never dreamt of only 15 months ago.  But.  And there is a but.  I wrote a couple of weeks ago about FOMO.  As settled as I am here in LA, I’m unsettled.  I like our house but it’s only supposed to be temporary.  I hate renting, I want to buy a nice house (not unlike the one I plan to build some day–one day–at home).

The kids and I have been chatting and if life is meant to be here for us for a while then we’re ready for it.  We’re prepared to embrace it and stay.  But Mr H doesn’t feel the same way.  I’m pretty sure he’s in denial.  He’s job is here, he’s happy here but he doesn’t want that lightbulb moment where he thinks he can lay down some roots here and settle for a while.

And so, life as an expat is about the highs and the lows.  There was a saying in Shanghai and it was exactly that: the Shanghighs and the Shanglows.  Some choose to dwell on the lows, we try to focus on the highs.  And I don’t really expect much (any) sympathy from you.  But when you read this in your house that you call your home think of me living in a sort of limbo land and count your lucky stars because with your life comes family, friends and security.

Fall

Not falling but “Fall”.  Because we always end on a positive note it’s starting to feel more like Fall here now: it’s getting a little cooler and the Halloween decorations are out.  Also, the air freshners and candles are scented for the “holidays” in a glorious combination of cinnamon, cloves and “apple pie”.  It reminds me of this time last year when we were newbies and were trying to navigate around town.  That smell reminds me of home and security and family. So I think we’re lucky the kids and I can picture ourselves staying here another few years and we can gently let go of the “smells of home” that lure us back.  I think we’ve come a long way.  As unsettling as that is it is somehow very settling.

And of course the start of Fall means Halloween, people have their decorations out and the “spirit” is out there.  It’s a fun time of the year.

Halloween

With Fall comes Halloween | It Started in LA | itstartedinla.com

 

Happy Fall–or in many of your cases happy Spring!

xx It Started in LA xx

 

Vibiana
Posts

School Charity events 90210 style

There are two trends starting to emerge in the titles of my posts: “90210 style” and “Hollywood”.  This one is definitely 90210 style.

I have to fess up. It’s Spring break & the kids and I are away for a week. So I thought I’d pull up an old story idea from our school’s Gala Event last month.

I posted a few pics on Instagram and references to the evening if you were following along at home.

The venue was stunning…Vibiana in Downtown LA.  A former catholic church the designers had captured its essence and re-purposed it without fail. While the venue was stunning not many people venture downtown and I see why; it was a bit of a trek.pp

It was a fun night though, always interested in meeting the families from school–especially when you hit a jackpot and meet someone you’ve heard a bit (ok a lot) about.

One of the highlights of my night was seeing–and being at the same event as a mega-star A-lister & her spunky hubby.  She looked truly stunning and was just “one of us”.  I was a little disappointed Our English rocker wasn’t there but at the same time I wasn’t really expecting to see him.  Of course part of the fun of the night for me was looking around the room to see who else you could spot that you didn’t already know were parents at the school (there were quite a few).

Apart from some of the jewels hanging off some of the very elegant women (yes I did look around for their bodyguards) the obvious thing to talk about was the amount of money raised.

As usual at many of these events when you’re trying to catch up with people it’s hard to hear what’s going on.  They didn’t give us long to chat before the proceedings were underway.  I don’t know how much the American Idol final tickets went for nor the Vegas package featuring tickets to Rod Stewart and Brittany Spears or the five-night New York “experience” featuring first-class accommodation donated by one of the families plus tickets to Dr Oz and Saturday Night Live and; The Late Show tickets.

They finally got my attention when a Golden Retriever puppy came out.  I have to say I was a little shocked that a puppy gets auctioned off.  Too often dogs are purchased by families giving no thought to the concept that a dog is for life.  It’s a pretty big gamble that a family is going to want a dog let alone pay big bucks for it.  But, it’s something they do every event so I guess the word spreads (but you still have to hope someone in the community is in the market for a dog). As it was there were rumours the highest bidders changed their mind and donated the money and the runners-up got the dog.

Anyway, the reason I bring up the auction is not really all about questioning the dog but to mention the biggest money spinner of them all: a private dinner with the headmaster.  That’s right (??!) One dinner was available catered by the owners behind the fabulous “Lemonade” but three were sold for the grand total of … (are you ready?)

$13,200 each.

They made $39,600 from auctioning dinner with the headmaster.  People were buzzing the week later with news of the money raised; people were questioning why on earth they’d need a private dinner with the headmaster or what they had to get off their chests to warrant the need to secure the winning bid.

Personally I think it was a donation–albeit a very large one.  Two of the three families are Hollywood celebrities and I can’t imagine them needing to get too much off their chest.  I think it was meant to be a nice gesture to make the headmaster feel popular and wanted.  Might I add he is an extremely charismatic guy so I’m sure the dinner wouldn’t be boring.

It’s funny how all the amazing prizes and opportunities are put before us but the biggest winner is the simplest prize of all.  A bit like life really; despite living among the rich and famous it’s the simple things that are still the best.

Apart from setting eyes on the big A-lister two surreal things happened to me that night that to make the night worthwhile. One was when a former Felicity co-star & I were waiting outside for our respective Ubers. I don’t know how the conversation started but it ended with me trying to get him to pronounce our surname with gusto in an Australian accent. It took at least 20 goes & we were cracking each other up (perhaps you had to be there).

The next was ending up at some actor’s house (I didn’t recognise him but I did get the ok to post a selfie & a pic of his view on Instagram) when we met up with Mr H’s workmates at an awards night after-party. Despite having no idea who he was like I said to him, who cares? he must’ve been doing all right thanks very much because his Hollywood Hills pad with views over Hollywood was pretty amazing. How do I land me that gig? I tried to see if he knew anyone who might sign up my Blog for a sitcom but I can’t remember what he said. (Besides I’m waiting for Chuck Lorre &/or some parents at school that are the creators of a mega-successful sitcom).

Yes I was smashed, yes we’d landed in Hollywood & yes we’d only just been to the Golden Globes after party but I never expected my simple normal life to have a chapter like this in it. So forgive me if I frequently have to re tell the story to make it seem real then pinch myself to make sure it isn’t a dream after all. I joked about stuff like that happening when we moved. It we never, ever expected half of those things to come true. Yet here we are.

I heart LA.

xx It Started In LA xx

PS: A little “where are they now?” Felicity trivia for you:
http://earlynerdspecial.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/where-are-they-now-felicity-edition/

1D's Harry Styles
Celebrity, Fact or Fiction, Posts

Fact or Fiction: Harry Styles bought a house down the road

Welcome back to Fact or Fiction.  I’m a bit late this week, a pupil-free day caused the delay with me being disorganised in not having the post ready ahead of time and the kiddly-winks cramping my style and forcing me to play mother for once. (Well, that and tennis & lunch took up a lot of my Friday which makes me a very happy chicky-babe!).

This week’s question centres around the ever-popular Harry Styles.  Word is he’s just bought a house in 90210.

http://www.eonline.com/news/522004/is-harry-styles-moving-to-america-one-direction-singer-buys-la-home

Question is: do you think it’s just down the road and literally around the corner from us?

Lodge your vote now:

 

Meanwhile, the answer to last week’s Fact or Fiction:

Beverly Hills was named after the Beverly Hills Hotel

was fact confirmed by the hotel’s in-house PR.  The hotel was built by bizzillionaire developer Burton Green, President of the Rodeo Land and Water Company.  According to the Hotel’s website,

“By 1914, Beverly Hills had attracted enough residents to incorporate as a city.

“Then, in 1920, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks built their county home, Pickfair, in the nearby hills. Beverly Hills soon became one of the world’s smartest addresses. More stars followed, including Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton, Rudolph, Valentino, Tom Mix, and Will Rogers, transforming the bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel into prime real estate.”

66.67% of you thought it was Fiction meaning only 33.33% of you were right.

Here’s a link to the Beverly Hills Hotel’s website:

http://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/beverly-hills/the-beverly-hills-hotel/hotel-services/about/hotel-history

The hotel has the most amazing history.  My tour of the hotel got postponed to after Spring Break so I hope to bring you a story or two in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget to put your votes in.

Spring break starts for us so yay us!  Enjoy your weekend wherever you are in the world.

xx It Started In LA xx

Posts, Travelog, Visiting LA

Oh yeah: Vegas baby!

I never expected to actually visit Las Vegas.  Not necessarily because I didn’t want to or that it wasn’t on my bucketlist but that it wasn’t high enough on my bucket list for me to get there.

Moving to LA certainly changed that.  When you live in LA you have no excuse (or reason) not to visit Vegas.  Especially if your goal is to experience as much as you can of America.

I didn’t know how to tackle Vegas.  Mr H has been there a few times for work and to see the Rugby World Sevens but it’s not exactly the type of place I expected to go for a family holiday.  Until a friend suggested we join her and another friend for a long weekend.  With our families.  Off we go, no need to ask me twice!

What to do in Las Vegas

The thing about Vegas (that I didn’t expect) was how American it was yet totally un-American all at the same time.  Let me explain.  It’s so over the top with all the different resorts Vegas is definitely one of those #onlyinAmerica places.  It’s crazy!

But at the same time as being American it is so un-American in that everyone walks around with an alcoholic drink in their hand.  It is legal to carry & drink alcohol on the Strip.  So everyone does it.  It brings new meaning to the term “traveller”.  And shops are making a killing from it.  The rule seems to be: When-in-Vegas-you-must-buy-the-biggest-cocktail-you-can-and-bring-it-with-you-everywhere-you-go. Preferably in a huge Eiffel Tower-shaped see-through “glass” or another over-sized container.  Either that or a beer.

I love a drink I’ve never made a secret of that but I have to say I wasn’t about to carry a huge daiquiri around with me.  Especially with the kids.  (Each to their own though).

Everyone can and does smoke.  And Nevada is a gun-loving state so it’s easy to go one block off the Strip and get yourself a rifle (remember the Aussie swimmers who got themselves in hot water for posing with guns in a shop outside Vegas?).  (I guess the gun thing is actually quite American but you don’t see gun shops off Rodeo Drive–only the gun safes in Costco!).

How Vegas has managed to capture the conference market, families, entertainers, casino owners, luxury brands and yogans (American bogans) all in one is beyond incredible.  Vegas has managed to do what few places can’t–attract everyone.  It’s lifestyles of the rich and famous meets bozo the hobo trailer trash yogan.  With everyone in between.  Fabulous.

We were in the lifts coming down from my friend’s 59th floor suite and in hops Mr-&-Mrs-to-be Yogan saying, “We’ve just got engaged!!” He must have splurged his life savings to get that room (it was the lift for all the suites) and they were going all out.

Aria

Upmarket shopping heaven

The Harley Davidson Cafe

There’s literally something for everyone

 Driving from LA

The drive from LA to Las Vegas is easy and scenic.  It should only take about four hours but beware if there’s traffic that could double to eight and you’re stuck with no way to veer off course.

It’s wonderful for an Australian living on the West Coast to witness the change in landscape from the Canyons of LA to the vast desert of Nevada then be greeted by the uniqueness of the Strip that is Vegas.  The desert was something else–it was greener than I expected.  There were many Joshua Trees to make it interesting but there were also many green bushes.  What made our day though was seeing the tumbleweeds dancing amongst the bushes and Joshua Trees.  Picture perfect postcards straight from the movies.  The only thing missing was Roadrunner (they are real you know).

Don’t know what a Joshua Tree is?  Save you the Google, here’s the Wikipedia link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_brevifolia

Desert

The scenic drive from Vegas back to LA

While on the road the main thing that caught my attention were the groups of people clearly roadtripping.  It’s hard not to generalise but there were lots of groups of boys (you know? around 21 or so clearly going to have a good time) but also lots of families.  It wasn’t what I expected to see.  There was something about the way everyone was driving that suggested (like us) there was excitement in the car at the thought that in the next couple of hours they’d be in Vegas.

Arriving in Vegas

Get off the freeway as soon as you’re entering Vegas so you drive down the Strip.  It was such an exciting feeling pooping that roof down and feasting on all the sights and sounds Vegas has to offer.  We toured up and back to get our bearings and to soak in the atmosphere (also a great way to quickly check it out without needing to soak your feet in the bath for hours).

Check out my Vegas tip later in the post about cruising the Strip in style.

Vegas as a family

Vegas is doable as a family but you have to know what you want to do and plan a little.  For example when we arrived we went for a little wander and I wanted a pre-dinner drink and to give the kids a snack.  5:00 wasn’t a good time to get an outside table because they were keeping these for diners only yet the tables for drinks only was in the bar space which isn’t the best place for the kids.  Not a great start but we were off and running.  Thankfully mine are older now.

There’s lots to see.  And do.  Walking around and exploring the casinos is enough to fill your day.  Beware, wear comfortable shoes, there’s a lot of walking to do.  Do, however, think about what you’ll be doing and what you’ll be checking out.  You might feel comfy in those white runners, socks and shorts but you might not feel (or make it to a best-dressed list) the same when you walk into Dior looking for your next outfit (or trying to look like you can afford said outfit).

Nine things to do in Vegas (with the family):

  1. Take a helicopter out to the Grand Canyon.
  2. Book a suite–or score an upgrade.  Do your research as there are great deals out there.  Carefully check room sizes.
  3. Book a limo to take you around & cruise the Strip in style.
  4. Book a Show.  Or more than one Show.  There are literally tons to choose from.  And great acts with so much variety.  There are seven Cirque du Soleil shows alone.  Plus Britney Spears is playing at the moment.
  5. Trip around the world.  Start in Venice (the Venetian), head to Paris (Paris), Rome (Caesar’s Palace) & New York (New York New York).  If you’re feeling up to it visit Egypt too (Luxor).
  6. Go shopping.  Window shopping if you can’t afford the many designer shops on offer or outlet shopping if you wanna be but can’t be.  Don’t forget to visit the Ferrari dealer at the Wynn.  Our taxi driver tells us it sells more Ferraris than any other dealer in the US.
  7. Book restaurants ahead of time.  There are many walk-ins in Vegas being the tourist town but the waits (especially for outside tables) can be atrocious.  It’s easy to book beforehand so make your life easier by doing so.
  8. Detour to the Outlet shops, there are heaps to choose from and slightly less tax than in LA.
  9. Splurge a little: YOLO!

 So what did the kids think of Vegas?

They thought it was good.  They liked the different “countries” and things to do but they hated walking through the casinos to get there and the smell of smoke which was everywhere.  It’s funny how not so long ago cigarette smoke was in the air in restaurants and indoor places yet take it away and you get used to clean air.  Each casino is different though.  They enjoyed the shows and being exposed to all Vegas has to offer but they’re a bit straighty-180 so couldn’t cope with it for too long.  A long weekend is enough.

Last bit of advice: get in early to make good use of your first day (and beat the traffic) and save checking out nearby casinos til last.  That way you can venture out on your full days, still look around on your last day and hopefully get away ahead of the traffic.  No point ruining the moment by sitting in traffic on your way back to LA.

Most of all have fun!  There’s plenty to be had.

xx It Started in LA xx

If you’re planning a trip to Vegas check out my Pinterest page with links to shows, “resorts” and restaurants.
http://www.pinterest.com/itstartedinla/viva-las-vegas/

For more info on the World Seven’s go to:
http://www.usasevens.com/las-vegas/

updated with info on free shows around town June 26, 2014 11:10am LA time.

BHH
Fact or Fiction, Posts

Fact or Fiction: Beverly Hills was named after the Beverly Hills Hotel

I’ve got an appointment to check out my much-visited Beverly Hills Hotel next week so in that vein here’s this week’s Fact or Fiction.

 

Meanwhile, the answer to last week’s Fact or Fiction.

I met Robbie Williams at our local Starbucks.

Clearly everyone is starting to get the hang of this game and is starting to get the picture that we’re being exposed to some crazy scenarios. Yesterday my daughter and I were on our way home from a doctors appointment and we witnessed a very “possessed” pap clearly with his eye on his prize.  It’s everywhere here you just have to know what you’re looking for and be out and about to see it.  (Actually I think it was the same pap who told me I looked like “someone” the other week at my favourite restaurant.)

I digress … again …

66.67% of you thought that I had met Robbie (my wildcard) at our local Starbucks and 33.33% of you thought it was made up.

Well… only 33% of you were right.  Sadly I didn’t meet Robbie at our local Starbucks.  I don’t think he lives in LA anymore.  Bugger because he only lived up he road and apparently was often spotted at my local Starbucks so there was a chance I could’ve very easily bumped into him.

In fact, what spurred this Fact or Fiction on was a very vivid dream I had where I was coerced (by Robbie himself) into ‘fessing up that he was my wildcard celebrity shag.  I woke up in a cold sweat.

Enough dreaming, happy weekend & happy voting!

xx It Started In LA xx

 

Paps
Celebrity, Posts

Living the dream on Golden Globes weekend

I know the Golden Globes are in the distant past but this story felt right, a nice reminisce about why it’s so cool to be living in LA hot on the heels of the Oscars (I’m still a little hungover but I have to say I was more hungover after the Golden Globes!).

So, on Golden Globes weekend an old friend from school stopped by LA.  It was a real blast from the past as we hadn’t seen each other in more years than we both care to remember.  Thanks to Facebook though we weren’t total strangers.

She was up for a weekend of celeb-spotting and all things LA.  Because I was going to the Warner Bros/InStyle after party at the Golden Globes Sunday afternoon was dedicated to my hair & make-up.

Friday night dinner would be my favourite celeb-spotting restaurant in West Hollywood.  It’s hard enough to get a booking there so some things have to be my little secret–unless you come to visit then I’ll happily take you there.

Dinner didn’t disappoint.  Neither did the celeb spotting!  We hadn’t got out of the car and there were some tourists taking a photo with a celeb couple.  Jackpot!  Then on the way in we heard a guy on the phone.  Our ears twigged when we heard, “paparazzi”.  Double jackpot!  In nearly five months in LA (at that time) I hadn’t really seen any paps and I thought I’d see them everywhere I went.  Disappointed much!

JJ

Joshua Jackson

We walked in trying to spot said celeb couple.  The guy was hot.  It was none of than Joshua Jackson (Pacey from Dawson’s Creek) who’s grown into quite the stunner of a man!  We had no clue who his girlfriend was–nothing a quick Google couldn’t fix. (Diane Kruger if you’re as useless as me on celeb trivia).

We got to the bar and I laughed–it’s Paul Hogan, no bloody way!  Well it wasn’t him but some rocker dude who looked the spitting image of him.  He was at a table with nobody we could recognise except that they were aging rockers plus one familiar-looking actor donning a baseball cap.  (We never did find out who any of them were).

The atmosphere was fab, we had a great night and a great meal.  Then all of a sudden flashes went off like Marilyn Monroe had just walked in but we couldn’t work out who they were for.

As distracting as they were my girlfriend turned around and announced as calmly as possible, “OMG it’s Bette Midler.”  Sure enough in the corner booth is The Divine Miss M herself.  Score.

More flashes.  We didn’t know where to look, who to look at, let alone carry on a conversation.  Then there was birthday cake delivered to the table next to us so we joined in the happy birthday wishes and before that was over we caught the eye of the gorgeous Joshua Jackson once again.  Was he leaving?  Was he going back to the bar after dinner?  No, the valet had come inside to get his keys and bring his car to a secret exit.  Gold.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

More flashes.  Who are they trying to pap?  Then the birthday table leaves and it’s some guys from the Big Bang Theory–sitting next to us the whole time!

It was the most overwhelming night of people watching, living the moment, taking in the ambiance and trying to carry on conversations with the people at our table.  Because we haven’t seen each other for years and then we’re thrust in this situation where it’s difficult to engage in normal conversation.  Thank god everyone at the table (bar Mr H) was into it otherwise it could have been a very awkward way to start the weekend.

The whole weekend was more of the same.  It just goes to prove if you’re out and about at the right spots and you’re lucky enough the paparazzi really is everywhere and celebs are just trying to go about their own business being normal people.

I heart LA.

xx It Started In LA xx

PS:  It is my “thing” not to take pics of the celebs I see out & about, especially if it’s in an intimate restaurant.  I think it’s only fair to maintain their privacy.  Nor do I generally ask them to take a pic with me either.  Do I regret it?  Hell yeah–a lot but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be.  Until I’m famous myself and then it’s all bets are off!

RW
Celebrity, Fact or Fiction, Posts

Fact or Fiction: I met Robbie Williams at our local Starbucks

Robbie Williams

I’m very excited about this week’s Fact or Fiction :

I met Robbie Williams at our local Starbucks.

There’s a story to be told but you’ll have to wait until next week.  So get voting!

 

Meanwhile, the answer to last week’s:

Slash came to the kids’ school

is FACT! Slash did in fact come on a tour to our school.  In fact one of my friends took him on the tour.  I know lots of my friends back home who’d be jelly jelly (a bit like I was).  Actually, she then went on to not only see him in concert but see him backstage (and he of course recognised her!) but she managed to do a deal with him to hand over his jacket.  I know!  Only in LA can one of your friends have a much-treasured jacket of Slash’s!

Anyway, eighty per cent of you were on the money so well done.

Happy weekend & happy voting!

xx It Started In LA xx

Image taken from wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(musician)

NP Elle Beauty
Posts

Top four make-up trends for Spring 2014

Put your best face forward

Those of you that know me well might be thinking, “What does Gwen know about Spring 2014 Make-up trends?”  Well you’re right, except that if you follow me on Facebook &/or Instagram you might have seen my pics at the recent Napoleon Perdis / Elle Beauty Trends event as a VIP guest (shameless event-drop!) here in Hollywood.

It’s true I never really did the whole make-up thing.  I subscribed to the “natural look” long before it was invented.  And mine was more the vintage natural look rather than today’s drop-dead gorgeous natural look.

Frankly I’m not sure why I never really got into make-up.  I would sit for hours watching mum put her make -up on as I was growing up starting from when I was really young.  I remember her favourite shade vividly when I was little was green.  Very Charlie’s Angels.

My mum sent me on a deportment course where we were taught how to apply make-up (and yes walk and pluck eyebrows).  This was a big call because we were living in FNQ at the time  (Far North Queensland for you readers outside Australia and land of the thongs–ahem, flip flops).  When we returned to Melbourne from FNQ she took me on the obligatory trip to the Clinique counter at Myer to once again learn how to apply make-up, stock up and look my best.

Yet it didn’t stick.  Until now.

I was treated to a make-over session by Napoleon Perdis just before Christmas last year and I marvelled at how little make-up was used to make me look (& feel) a million dollars.  Yes, I asked for the natural look (to continue my perpetual fear of all things make-up).  Baby steps peoples, baby steps.

I was also surprised as to how much prep work went into creating my look and provide tone and creates angles on your face which were invisible to those looking but made all the difference in the world.  They’re so bloody clever!  So I became hooked, and slowly I started (and am continuing) to get more adventurous with the hues and colours and every excuse to get to Napoleon Perdis’s flagship Hollywood store I don’t hesitate!  But enough about me …

Top four trends

I believe Napoleon has just been over in Australia running a couple of sessions so you have been lucky enough to attend.  If not you’ll have to rely on me.  No drumroll, here are Napoleon Perdis’s top four make-up trends for (our-LA-our) Spring 2014.

  1. Art Pop–a pop of very dramatic colour usually around the eyes (blue, green & purple are your friends not your enemies)
  2. Natural–as the name suggests
  3. White Lines–fabulous look creating white lines around the eyes
  4. Flaming Lips–embracing bold, flaming lips.

My favourite is Natural with a touch of White Lines (I’m going back to see if it will work on me), a pop of colour and finished with Flaming Lips.  Well there’s no rule about not being able to dabble in each and every one!

This post wasn’t meant to be confessions of a make-up shy Princess but I rarely wore lipstick (I thought it made my lips dry) let alone wear anything bright.  I was given “Hara” (a flaming orange that’s to die for) to try and it’s my new go-to colour.  Not bad for someone who rarely wore lipstick or wore it as brown or nude could be.

If you’re in doubt over whether this translates in “real life” take a closer look at the make-up at the Oscars, in fact here’s a run-down of some of the best looks again at NP’s blog.  (I couldn’t agree more with the best look of the night who I gave an honourable mention to for her whole “package” in my own blog).

http://blog.napoleonperdis.com/2014-oscars-top-5-beauty-looks/

http://itstartedinla.com/the-two-things-we-talked-about-in-la-last-week-rain-the-oscars/

It’s always so much better to see what you read in Blogs and in mags translate into the real world and I think that’s what Napoleon Perdis does so well.

Anyway, I’m no Beauty Editor so if you want to see more and learn more about the night check out NP’s very own blog at:

http://blog.napoleonperdis.com/elle-magazine-masterclass/

If you click on the video you’ll be able to see me in the front row (hint: it’s at exactly the 0.27s mark)!  The blog shows examples of each of the looks.

Let me share three things with you I learnt from the night.

  1. Start with mascara.  And add a coat of mascara last.
  2. Apply lipstick from the outside coming in–and don’t forget to go all the way into the “join” of the lips
  3. Add lipliner after the lipstick.

It was such a treat to see Napoleon at work (probably even more so for me because I’ve never appreciated the art of make-up).

A flick of the brush here, a bit of concealer there, contour there, colour here … and voila! you’re transformed into a beauty.  No exaggeration, they make it look so simple.

In fact since I’ve been putting more effort into my make-up my friends have been saying I’m looking good often saying that LA suits me.  Well I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fun I’m having here and everything to do with the special things I’m doing to my face.  So thank you Napoleon Perdis!

BTW here is a link to the official pics on the night:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152299782426654.1073741846.22076326653&type=1

These pics are waaay better than the ones I took.

Why not treat yourself?  Even if you’re “good” with make-up there are always trade secrets the Napoleon Perdis team is happy to share.  As Napoleon says, even if you only walk away with one thing it’ll be worth it.  Couldn’t agree more!

Have a good weekend everyone!

xx It Started in LA xx

Psst … the irony is not at all lost on me that I’ve come all the way to Hollywood to be introduced with one of Australia’s best loved brands.  Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Beauty editor tip: if your lips are dry from lipstick use a lip scrub (there are how-to recipes on You Tube & Lush does a good one) and get some Lip Service from Napoleon Service, it soothes and moisturises your lips.  Oh, also pop it on before your lipstick.

Furla handbags
Posts, Soapbox

Six months in: the darker side

I posted on my personal Facebook page last night that I’m feeling quite homesick.  No one could more shocked about this news than me.  It was here on this very blog that I shared my delight at reaching the six-month mark in LA with friends, fun and great experiences under our belts.  We were–are–living in the surreal world that is Beverly Hills/Hollywood and we live to tell the tale.

Only earlier that day we were having lunch at my favourite Cabana Cafe in the Beverly Hills Hotel where I missed seeing Harry Styles by a matter of minutes.  (We were already seated waiting for our friend who saw him leaving as he was coming in.  He even snapped a pic for his 11-year-old daughter.)

So why so glum?  I’m not really sure.  I miss my friends mainly.  It’s great to make new friends but it’s the good friends you leave behind that you are sad about–especially when they’re not here to share “the dream” with you.

Truth be told I think the whole “money” thing is wearing thin too.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re very comfortable and we’ve done well, we have a great little life in our corner of the world, we always try to make the most of every situation we’re put in and I don’t like to whinge about first-world (especially BH) problems.

So why’s the money thing getting me down? I think it’s because it’s hard to fight.  Just because our family doesn’t believe in designer handbags until our kids are at least 18 doesn’t mean everyone else shares our philosophy.  And not to say everyone needs to share our philosophy.  I value very much the concept that everyone is different because it makes the world go around and makes for a much more interesting place to be.  But seriously why do kids under 18 (or even 25 for that matter) have to have designer hand bags?  Will it make the world a better place and more importantly will it make the kids better people?

I say this also because my daughter and I were out shopping last weekend for a new dress for her to wear to a birthday party and to dinner when we go to Vegas next week.  She desperately needed some shoes and I said if we find a cute bag for a reasonable price I’d buy her one.  We got some cute shoes but no go on the bag.  It wasn’t a biggie because she’s only into bags sometimes and she knew she’d had enough bought for her that day and (for once!) was satisfied with her purchases.

So why am I going on about handbags?  Well because as we walked through the designer handbag section on our way to shoes at Bloomingdale’s we were looking at the new Furla handbags.  They were so cute and, with 30% off, this sweet little blue bag had Miss 11’s name on it.  We both looked at it longingly.  She wanted it.  I wanted her to have it.  But it was not going to happen and we both knew it.  I was cross with myself for considering its purchase and pleased with her at the same time for knowing she couldn’t even ask for it.  We mourned the bag’s departure never to come home with us.  We were doing what mothers and daughters should do: bond over a designer handbag.

But that’s where it ended.  Not in Beverly Hills it seems where my daughter can count on more than one hand girls she knows with designer hand bags.  Some her age, others older but none of them are over 18, or over 25.  I’m not here to judge.  Nor do I have a right to judge.  I suppose when you grow up with it you think nothing of it.

But as a family still “fresh off the boat” from Australia who comes from a(nother) corner of the world where girls don’t have designer handbags I feel sad.  I feel sad that I think my Miss 11 should wait until she has a designer handbag.  I feel sad that girls around her don’t have to wait.  And I feel sad for the girls around her because I wonder what they are going to want for their 18th birthday or 21st birthday (remembering they’ll most likely get cars for their 16th birthday).  And I feel sad because I actually contemplated buying her the handbag.  That’s not us; that’s not what we do.

They say you are influenced by nature AND nurture and there is no conclusive evidence that one outweighs the other.  One of our mottos before we came over was not to change and not to take life too seriously when we got here; to stay true to ourselves.  Easier said than done.  But we must stay true to ourselves because people will like us for who we are not what we have.  We have a lot to offer and I hope that’s what people are seeing and not the absence of a designer handbag, shoes or clothes.

Only in LA.  Watch this space …

xx It Started In LA xx

Style notes: If you’re not like me and wish to buy your Miss 11 a Furla handbag here’s the link (or of course you might like one for yourself):  Furla Candy Bag.

I’m pretty sure Bloomingdale’s ships worldwide.

Paps
Celebrity, Posts

Which one’s Craig?

We’ve got a few more friends coming in to town so I called one of my favourite restaurants–our go-to when we have friends come to LA–to secure a couple of reservations.

The guy on the phone took my details, you know? When, what time etc.  Then he said, “Name?”

“Gwen,” I replied.

“Oh Gwen, how are you sweetheart?” I knew immediately who it was on the other end of the phone.  One of my first LA girlfriends had recommended I go to this popular restaurant and was instrumental in getting my 9:30 booking changed to the more civilised time of 8:00.  She’s a regular and knows Craig well.

From that time the Matre D’ acknowledged me telling everyone I was Renee’s friend.  Then I had moved on from being Renee’s friend to being “Gwen”. I was in.

So, you can imagine how chuffed I was that even on the phone I was recognised.  I’ve made it and to no less than one of the restaurants to be seen at in LA.  I posted it straight to Facebook and was happy our transition to LA was looking very good.  I’m doing my job well: give yourself a pat on the back Gwen.

Fast forward one week to yesterday.  I looked up the website to call to see if I could get a last-minute dinner booking for my hot date with my son.  I knew it was a long shot but it was worth the try.  I clicked through to an article in the New York Times on the birth of the restaurant and how Craig had gone from being Matre D’ at one of LA’s finest to running his own restaurant.

I knew that so of course I assumed the Matre D’ was “Craig”.  That’s a pretty fair assumption, right?  Exactly what I thought.

Well that’s not what the pic on said article showed.  No, it’s the guy who schmoozes around half working, half chatting up the guests.  Well it makes sense now I say it that way–and I know who the real Craig is doesn’t it?  Duh!  Really, how could I have been so amateur?!

One of my friends I’ve taken there recently described him as the classiest pimp in town–sitting at the booths with the gorgeous chicks and hot celebs, being one of the guests.  I suppose he has one of the best jobs in the world.  He lets his (very professional and gorgeous) Matre D’ do all the hard work while he does what he does best–keep the celebs (and me) happy!

Looking forward to dinner there tomorrow night.  I’ll be careful who I call Craig.

Only in LA.

xx It Started in LA xx

Beverly Hills
Posts

A retrospective: six months in LA

Well I’ve made it.  We’ve made it.  I’ve been in LA six months and live to tell the tale.  Time has flown by (although not the first six weeks).  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been here forever and others I still feel like I’m finding my way around (not just geographically but socially).

I gave us 12 months to settle in given it’s not an Expat assignment and the kids are older so the school networks wouldn’t work the same.  Turns out I was wrong.

The school community especially have welcomed us with open arms.

Settling in can still be a roller coaster but when I consider all the things we’ve done in the last six months, it’s incredible.

So far we’ve:

  • Had seven lots of friends visit: either on-site at BH HQ or in LA
  • Met dozens of new friends
  • Been on the set of hit show, “Scandal”
  • Lent our foley talent to the show “Revenge”
  • Been to the Warner Bros/InStyle mag after-party of the Golden Globes
  • Spent an amazing 24 hours in Palm Springs
  • Been in the middle of several pap scenes at our favourite restaurants
  • Seen Josh Jackson & Diane Kruger escape through the kitchen of same favourite West Hollywood restaurant to avoid the paps
  • (I’ve) seen Joan Collins, Bette Middler, Gene Simmons, Jermaine Jackson Rod Stewart & too many to mention at the Golden Globes
  • Been to our first Lakers’ game at the Staples Centre
  • Been to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Cruised up the Californian Coast from LA to San Francisco crossing off a major bucket-list item
  • Been thrust into the heart of Hollywood and Beverly Hills (and live to tell the tale)
  • (Nathan’s) been to his first Oscars event at the Beverly Hills Hotel
  • Grown amazingly from the experience.

Oh, and I forgot the big one: started a Blog.  Sounds surreal doesn’t it?  I heart LA.

Have a great week.

xx It All Started in LA xx

Posts

Sensa Diet Week 5

How is it that you can go off the rails with the easiest diet in the world?  That’s a really good question and I wish I had the answer.

Actually I do have the answer.  I keep forgetting to sprinkle.  And it’s because I made a fatal mistake when buying “month two” on Amazon.  As you may recall the idea behind Sensa is you change each month, this is to stop you getting used to the taste and your body being accustomed to it–in other words you’re supposed to keep losing weight.

I accidentally bought the “on-the-go” packets instead of the shakers (well I was pretty sure it wasn’t an accident but clearly in hindsight it was).  You see there are “handy” “on-the-go” satchels that you take out but they’re not–they’re a pain in the backside (you know I’ve become localised because I didn’t say arse).  It is so much easier to bring the sprinkle container with you and sprinkle on everything you eat rather than opening a little packet and getting it everywhere.  Worse still they’re little so you can’t find it in your bag.

Sensa packets

Sensa packets

That pic is a little useless actually because it only shows how I could order the wrong thing not actually what the little packs are like but if you imagine a small sugar pack then you’re on the right track.

So my advice to you is don’t buy the little packets, sprinkle on everything and the world will be a better place.  (And you’ll be miraculously skinny).  I’ve hopped back onto Amazon bought what I should have bought in the first place and we’ll proceed as normal.

I also tried to contact the people at Sensa and let them know I was blogging my progress.  Unfortunately they only replied about where to buy their product (they recommend their website which is more expensive than on Amazon) and ignored the bit about my blog.  So I’ll have to continue un-sponsored.

Anyway here I am this week, not much of a change from last week I don’t think.  Let’s hope next week sees me back on track.

Sensa Wk 5

Sensa Wk 5

 

Looking for a number?  I’ve put on a kilo. Ouch!  (I do think it can be put down to that time of the month rather than real weight gain so let’s see how we go next week.)

xx It Started In LA xx

For more information on Sensa go to www.sensa.com

The best way I’ve found to buy here in the US is via Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sensa

 

RKOBH
Posts, Soapbox

Parties 90210 style

I started watching “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” the other day.  Seriously?  I don’t know what to think.  Apart from being hooked I don’t why on earth these kids would subject themselves to “starring” in this show.  I’m sure they think they’re so much better than everyone else and that people want to be them.  (No one is denying they’d like just a little bit of their money).  It’s really sad.  For me it always comes back to, “what do their parents think?”  Are they so far removed from the real world that they think the same way (after all the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?).

So it got me thinking about my kids growing up in Beverly Hills. Thankfully, we’re not in the flats so our worlds are vastly different and (it feels like) the only real thing we share is a postcode.  Having said that the kids have friends that live there and they seem normal too.

I’ve mentioned that my kids go to an exclusive private school and there are a large number of uber wealthy families there.  The school is a lovely nurturing community that has welcomed us with open arms, both as a family and for the kids.  Not for one minute does this warm welcome feel put on in any way either.  So, to me my reality doesn’t fit with the premise of the Show.

In the episode I watched they were planning a party (one that hardly anyone attended I might add!).  When planning their list they named people from outside their clique “groupers” (pronounced by them groopers–as in “groupies”) yet they were planning to invite them.  I guess they need the groupers as much as the groupers need them? (Groupers are bottom feeders in fish terms lowest on the list, when translated to #RKOBH speak means those who want to get invited to the “cool” parties .  I thought things like that finished in high school, no wonder these girls don’t have jobs.

Recently my son went to a birthday party at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  It was on Saturday night and the hosts had cordoned off an area for the party guests.

It was a pretty swank affair for Year 8 kids (same in Australia; Yr 9 in UK)–actually it’d be a pretty swank affair for me I have to say.

The party gave everyone lots to talk about and the girls had to decide what to wear: to get really dressed up or play it down a little and just look “nice”.  The party girl wore a designer frock and from all accounts the girls went all out to look glam.  I would’ve loved to have hosted that Red Carpet event for this blog now I think of it.

Luckily for my son “what to wear” wasn’t a big deal for him.  The big deal for us what what on earth do you buy a girl who has everything?  We decided on Pink (by Victoria’s Secret) Body lotion & matching scent plus threw in a packet of Tim Tams with instructions on how to eat them.

Maybe they’re a bit young but I’m sure none of the people at that party were thinking of whether they were an “it” crowd or “groupers” or whether their friends are uber wealthy, slightly wealthy or just rich (or heaven forbid normal!).  Sure, there’s some jockeying of positions and the size of people’s houses get talked about and where they holiday in the summer but I hope these kids don’t make it to future series of “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills”.

Maybe I’m already localised but I’m hoping these kids ham it up for the cameras.  I’m sure they do.  It’s just like none of my friends are anything like the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”.  I think they’re more like Brandon & Brenda, Dylan, Kelly, Donna & Steve.

xx It Started in LA xx

Postscript: I saved this article to draft and went to lunch at my favourite Cabana Cafe at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  Who should walk in but the two “stars” Morgan & Dorothy.  Get out of town.  Too funny.  Only in LA!

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