Once: Opening Night in Orange County

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“His music needed only one thing: her.”

I’ll admit, I saw the movie and after everyone I knew their own rendition of the innocent Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova duet of “Falling Slowly”, I’m going to have to confess I would be fine not watching that again. “Falling Slowly” has been over-played, over-sung, I would say, at least in my circles. But we love the theater and we love to go with friends most of all, so we go.

We had pretty decent seats for the opening night of the Orange County showing of “Once: The Musical” at Segerstrom Hall. And I hate that we rolled in right before curtain because part of the preshow was a cash bar ON THE STAGE for anyone who could fit. The cast {who I might add can all sing and play various instruments} gathered around the piano and the on-stage guests and played music while they drank.

If you could reproduce a Dublin pub in Orange County, this would be it. I guess you could say it had me at “Hello.”

Lyrically beautiful, sweet, funny and full of “heart and soul” Once is a lovely story and an even more lovely musical. But my favorite number came as the closing to the first Act. “Gold” as performed by the character of “Guy” and the entire ensemble was by far the one I loved the most. One by one each member of the ensemble stood and played violins, cellos, and other string and percussion along with Guy as he played his song from the top of the bar.

There is something so romantic and quiet about this story that seems so rare. And after Guy and Girl’s sweet rendition of “Falling Slowly” I’m almost tempted to ask my husband to play this song at an upcoming backyard party we are having.


“Once: The Musical” will be in Orange County until August 31st. It runs Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 and 7:30pm as well as Sundays at 1 and 6:30. For more info, click here.

Local Tip:

In the lobby of the Orchestra section is a wall titled How Did You Meet? Guests are invited to write on a card how they and their partner/lover met. It’s interesting to see what other people have written.

Uptown Drafts: Whittier's The Bottle Room

What a fun thing to find the coolest little tap room on Greenleaf Avenue in Uptown Whittier. I’d like to say I stumbled upon it, but I asked a friend who lives in town to where we could grab a good beer in his city. This was at the top of his list.

Whittier’s The Bottle Room is understated but fun. On the weekends it can get busy, but we slipped in for a quick two flights before 6 on a Saturday. I could tell it was beginning to get busy, but not quite yet.

Chad and I ordered one flight, and tried to get a pretty wide distribution of different types of beer to taste. We can be IPA people (note: I hated beer forever until I tried an IPA about 5 years ago. Who knew?) but along with a 2 oz pour of Russian River Pliny the Elder (yes, they had/have that on draft) we ordered pours of the Avery Anniversary Ale 21, North Coast Old Rasputin (an Imperial Stout) and a Belgian called Tripel Karmeliet.

Halfway through the first flight, we both loved the stout the most which is crazy because neither of us really love stout. We decided to get one more flight before heading out the for the rest of the evening. The Old Rasputin Stout made it back on the list as well as a Alpine Nelson, the Port Brewing Mongo (a double IPA) and Avery Ellie’s Best Brown.

And once again, the Old Rasputin won our love.

I love Whittier because its located almost directly equidistant between LA and Orange County, so it would be a perfect place to meet a friend for drinks who lives further away. And I love the Bottle Room.

This morning Chad said to me as he was running out of the door to work. “I loved that little tap room we hit a few weeks ago. Let’s go back.”

We will, I think. And bring some friends.


The Bottle Room is located at 6741 Greenleaf Avenue in Uptown Whittier. Parking is on the street or in a few parking garages nearby. Click here for more information.

Local Tip:

The Bottle Room has great hours for happy hour: Monday through Friday from 3pm clear until 7pm. Take advantage of it during the week!

Amos Lee at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Thursday, August 7, 2014

“There’s a sunrise out there calling my name
I can see her moving, I can see her moving

Well at a certain time of night, now
I’ll become one with the wind
Where there isn’t a beginning
And there is no end

Oh when everything is flowing
Everything is on time
And I know we’re all going
To the end of the line

Well I’m out here on my night train
Drinking coffee, taking cocaine
I’m out here on a night train
Trying to get us safely home.”

“Night Train” by Amos Lee from Supply and Demand, 2006

There aren’t many evenings I get to hear one of my favorite singer-songwriters in one of the most beautiful (alright, maybe it is the most beautiful) venue in Orange County. Last night Amos Lee played for a full crowd at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.

A little bit dirty country, a little bit swing and a little bit crooner, Lee put on one of the best mid-sized venue shows I’ve ever seen. The SCFTA is built almost like a modern opera house with nearly every row in the balconies being a front row seat. A mighty organ faces the audience up high, while the musicians perform down below. A big part of me can’t wait to see another show or performance here this fall.

Of course Lee played all of our favorites including “Arms of a Woman,” “Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight,” and “Windows Rolled Down.” His six piece band was amazing and near the end he brought 4 more musicians who were part of the opening act (also equally amazing in their own right). Ten surely equals an ensemble.

The concert ended with a three song encore, half because I believe they were having so much fun and half because the crowd nearly demanded it.

Go now. Go see something there. Maybe your favorite singer-songwriter or maybe something else. But just go. You won't be disappointed.

Details: For the fall schedule for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, click here. For Amos Lee’s tour schedule click here and to follow him on Songkick click here.

Local Tip: There are many nearby restaurants at which you can have dinner before your show and then walk over to the theater. We ended up at The Silver Trumpet at the Wyndham, valeted our car and then walked over to the concert. Michael at the Silver Trumpet bar makes the best drinks. Just saying. Skip the dining room there and just enjoy the indoor/outdoor bar area for appetizers. 

Palm Desert: My Favorite Local Getaway

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Every August from somewhere around 1984 to 1992 my parents packed my sister and I up and took us to the local desert for a weekend getaway. When we were kids they piggybacked our excursions on a conference my dad had to attend. They’d conference it up during the week and then we would join them on the weekend.

Nice hotels for cheap: that’s the best four words you’ve heard today, right? 

In the summer at least, the area around Palm Springs, Palm Desert and surrounding Coachella Valley communities offer stays for much less than they do during the rest of the year. With summer temperatures ranging from the high 90s to the hundreds-plus-high-teens the desert in the summer isn’t for everyone.

But if you can figure out ways to beat the heat, I think it is one of the best local getaways in Southern California.

Several years ago Chad and I started returning to the desert in the summers. We’ve stayed in different hotels ranging from The Embassy Suites (cheap, lots of kids but a killer free “happy hour”), to the JW Marriot and the Hyatt Grand Champion in Indian Wells (think nice-nice-nice).

But more recently we began renting houses through VRBO with some friends for a week-long summer family vacation. In essence, we can afford a much nicer place in the summer than we would in the fall, winter or spring. And it the cost is split between couples or families, it makes it even better.

And when we get there, we make Rum Runners for poolside amusement. This summer, this was our drink of choice. There are a lot of ways to make this fruity, summery drink, but this is my favorite.

PD Rum Runners

1 part white rum
1 part dark rum
1 part coconut rum (Malibu)
1 part amaretto
4 parts pineapple juice

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain over more ice in a glass. Drizzle grenadine over the top just enough to let the red sink to the bottom and enjoy.

If the pool doesn’t float your boat in the desert, there are many other things to explore: Golf is huge here {not my thing, but hey}, the Palm Springs Air Museum {make sure you talk with the vets who hang out there --- oh the stories!!}, the Living Desert Zoo {Zoo + desert = go in the morning so you don’t die of the heat} or the Palm Springs Arial Tram {takes you __ feet into the mountains to experience weather about 25 degrees cooler than on the floor of the desert}.

I hope you have a great getaway in one of my favorite spots!

Details: The Palm Springs and Palm Desert area is located about 2 hours east of Los Angeles off of the 10 freeway. Visit VRBO for every type of rental imaginable (condos to mansions) or visit this website which seems to have something for everyone regarding hotels.

Local Tip: Book your travel, whether it’s a house or a hotel room, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Check rates because some places still offer reduced prices through September. If you do go in the summer, check business times because things slow down a bit in the hotter months. Every Thursday night in Palm Springs is the Downtown VillageFest. It is a fun outdoor street fair featuring food, craft and artisan vendors located at Palm Canyon Drive and E Taqhuitz Canyon Drive. 

Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton

It has been really fun to be on the consumer end of the gastropub movement in Orange and LA Counties. I feel like I’ve been trying to visit new and exciting restaurants but I find I’m always partial to gastropubs.

And who can pass up maybe the best Mint Julep in Orange County?

My sister introduced this one to me last year and last week I just had to go back and take a second look. Hopscotch is located in Fullerton and has only been around since 2012.  It offers a rotating list of 75 draught and bottled craft beer and over 125 types of brown spirits. Let it never be said that I don’t like bourbon, but their bourbon, whiskey and scotch lists put most other pubs in this area to shame. I didn’t know where to start.

So I told the server that. She offered me a “Bartenders Choice” in which said bartender makes me whatever he or she is feeling like that particular evening.  And in a few minutes she brought a White Manhattan for me and a Rattlesnake for Chad. I would have never known those two drinks even existed. So. much. fun.

We ordered everything to share that night including bacon-wrapped scallops with a blackberry bourbon sauce for starters.  We shared their House Salad which is worth ordering just for the presentation. It is brought on a plank of wood and drizzled with their homemade sherry vinaigrette. We also ordered their Bradley Burger {and I’m not a burger girl} and all I need to say about that is thick-sliced-pork-belly.

Hopscotch has a great indoor area as well as patio seating and sports funky whiskey-themed sayings on the walls.  The wait staff is helpful and friendly and we felt right at home. 

Details: HopscotchTavern is located at 136 E Commonwealth Ave in Fullerton and shares parking with the Fullerton train station. For reservations, click hereThere seems to usually be room at the bar for small parties, especially during the week. But make reservations for weekend dates or larger parties.

Local Tip: Wednesdays are Whiskey and Wine Wednesdays at Hopscotch. They have specially priced whiskey flights as well as half-bottles of wine. Also, please order the Mint Julep. It was better than the Mint Julep I had in Charleston, South Carolina last year. No lie.
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