The Huntington Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens was founded in 1919 by Henry Edwards Huntington. Originally from New York, he worked for his uncle, Collis Huntington, one of the owners of Central Pacific Railroad. Eventually he made his way to LA and bought what was then known as the San Marino Ranch and tansformed it into the Gardens it is today.

On this trip we decided to just visit the gardens as it was such a beautiful day. I will definitely be going back to do a follow up post on the library and galleries. There are more than a dozen gardens covering 12o acres of the land. You can easily get lost in enjoying all the different areas and I found myself really paying attention to the varieties and even getting ideas for my own garden.

Walking down from the Rose Garden, there is a brilliant, picturesque walkway leading down to the Japanese Garden, which was opened to the public in 1928. Covering nine acres, it was inspired by widespread Western fascination with Asian culture. As was fashionable at the time, many wealthy Americans and Europeans added exotic gardens to their estates. Henry E. Huntington decided to build his own Japanese garden on his San Marino estate. Purchased in its entirety by Huntington, the materials also included the Japanese House. The moon bridge, commissioned by Huntington, was built by Japanese craftsman Toichiro Kawai.

Elements of this five-room house were created in Japan and acquired by Huntington in 1911. It is considered one of the best examples of early 20th century Japanese architecture in the United States. In 1968, The garden was expanded to include a bonsai collection and zen court. In the Harry Hirao Suiseki Court you can touch the suiseki or viewing stones, an ancient Japanese art form, or meditate at the Zen Court, an example of the contained landscapes that once evolved in the temple gardens of Japan. Patterns raked into gravel, rock formations and shrubbery are used to symbolize water, space, movement and other abstract ideas.

Behind the Japanese Garden there was a nice zigzag walkway that goes back downhill and leads you to the Australian Garden. Just past that is the Jungle Garden and Lily Ponds.

As we came up the East side of the grounds along side Oxford Rd. we came to the Desert Garden is one of the largest and oldest assemblages of cacti and other succulents in the world. It was such a sunny day so we had a beautiful walk through this area and we were pleasantly surprised at how many different plants there were that we really loved.




Hollywood Forever Cemetery

An easy afternoon trip while you’re in Hollywood is the Forever Cemetery (originally the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery) on Santa Monica Blvd just behind Paramount Pictures studio lot. Here you’ll find the graves of many celebrities including Douglas Fairbanks, Estelle Getty and Jayne Mansfield.


Just inside the entrance and to the left is the tomb of the DeMille family, including Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille was one of the most influential directors in the industry and is known for epic films like The Ten Commandments and Cleopatra. It was cool that the entire family is entombed there, but super creepy that there are even spots on either side named for members that haven’t even died yet, including his granddaughter, Cecilia DeMille Presley.

Past their tomb is a massive lake with fountains and some graves have had benches placed next to them so you can sit and feed the ducks and geese. The structure in the center entombs William Clark Jr., the founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.



Once on the other side it was easy to spot Johnny Ramone, the co-founder and guitarist for The Ramones.

Johnny Ramone.jpeg


The Cathedral Mausoleum is a really beautiful structure inside and recently they began entombing people on the outside as well. One of the most recent is Mickey Rooney who passed just this April. Walking through the inside, our footsteps echoed as we passed huge family crypts as well as shadow boxes with cremated urns and memorabilia depicting the personalities. We found ourselves getting lost finding out who each person was, but once I realised I had wandered off and was alone I definitely wanted to hurry and find my friends as I felt the weight of those stories around me.

Some more upbeat wanderings…


Introducing the shop :)

As I’ve travelled over the past 2 years I wanted to find unique souvenirs to remember each trip. I’ve also found that I have great pride for where I grew up and I have a great time sharing stories with my fellow travellers. It was then that Mod’s Best Friend was born… unique, fun ways to remember your favourite places, whether it’s where you’re coming from or where you’re going. Great gifts for your loved ones or just treat yo self!

Mod’s Best Friend

Handmade with carefully chosen fabrics and 100% vintage buttons. UK, France and US pillows are available now with more to be posted soon!


I hope you enjoy them as much as I did making them 🙂

Where Did The Time Go!?

So while I’ve been keeping up with my quick, on-the-go instagram pics and Facebook check-ins, its been awhile since I’ve posted anything substantial to my blog. Do you ever feel like time is starting to flash by you and you’re just spinning in circles with your hands in the air screaming “Slow down, world!!!!!!”? That’s been me for the past five months.

New house, new school, new job, new cats, new travels, new friends, new homesickness, new adventures….

And I guess its a great thing that I’ve been so busy being social that I haven’t had time for social media, but I should really document some more memories before I forget what it felt like to be in them.


Home for the Holiday


As I sit on a plane back to LA for Christmas, watching a cheesy RomCom (as I love to do. Especially when they make me cry. The torture is my guilty pleasure. Like Grey’s Anatomy.), I got to thinking about our first year as expats.

We have missed friends, missed family, missed our kids. We’ve left great jobs and plopped ourselves in a city where we know almost no one. We’ve trudged through a British Winter and rush hours on the tube. I got teary-eyed thinking back on the struggle but suddenly it dawned me, as I sit here on this plane, with the man of my dreams to my left and my awesome son to my right… What we’ve gotten in return is priceless.

We’ve had family and friends visit us who may never have had the chance to see Europe. Our kids have collectively visited 5 countries they never dreamed they would see. We’ve made great friends we’ll know forever and mastered the art of bus/train/tube commuting. We’ve built snowmen in our garden and watched the sunset on the Thames and held hands through Hyde Park. We’ve lived in a flat in the city and a house in the burbs. And we still get to jump on this plane and go back to LA to visit the people and things we love for Christmas.

We are Travelling Monkeys and proper Expat Londoners. What more could a girl ask for?

Yanks n Brits Thanksgiving

Our Brit buddies have finally embraced the Halloween spirit by carving their first pumpkins so the next step was obviously showing them what Thanksgiving is all about…food and football.

We have always gone to my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and everyone brings a dish or two. My specialty: appetisers and desserts. You need deviled eggs? I’m your girl. Crab artichoke dip? Yup, no problem. Oh you want pumpkin bread from scratch the way my Mama taught me? Awesome. What I failed to remember was that I’d never roasted a turkey. I was hosting a Thanksgiving for both Americans and Brits and I had no idea how to work that bird!

Luckily, we have this crazy thing these days called the interwebs. I studied as many blogs and videos I could get my hands on and made that bird my bitch. She was delicious.

I’m thankful that we have a new house that feels like home, that we’re showing our teenage monkeys the world, and that we have made some rad friends here who are quickly becoming family.

Meet Camden and Chelsea

One of the difficult things about moving overseas was not just leaving family and friends behind, but also having to move without our precious cat, Nani. She’s been apart of our family since the 15 was 3 so it was difficult to make the decision.  But, she’s an old cranky lady and we knew it was best to leave her with Auntie Wobbie to be cared for. We get pics sent to us all the time so it’s good to know she’s doing well.

We knew moving would be a big adjustment for the teenage monkeys and some furry friends would take the edge off. We adopted two sisters from a local shelter and we were told that they’d been born to their mom inside the shelter so they’d only known being in their shared cage and a small cat room. They were also only used to being around the one woman who took care of them.  They were extremely timid at first, but after 3 months of TLC they really came around and have become perfectly adjusted and fun members of the family!